27 March 2021

Smugglers Cave - Level 3-5 Adventure

We love to create adventures that are completely different sometimes, and subvert expectations. Sometimes, however it’s great fun to revisit a classic plot and play into the stereotypical adventure. This month's free adventure is just that, a classic plot, given the Osrynn’s treatment. There are hundreds of Smugglers Cave type adventures available, but a lot of them are quite boring, and very samey. In this re-work of a classic, we want to provide a really fun adventure, that makes the old theme feel fresh again.

To this end, we have focussed on creating memorable new creatures for your players to encounter, a couple of devious traps for them to get caught in, and a fun dungeon layout with a good mix of underwater and land based areas.

The Quest

The party are hired through their usual quest-giver (be that a local authority, an adventurers guild, a note on a jobs board, or simply a rumour from a friendly NPC) to help clear out a band of smugglers who have recently begun operating in the area. The party are charged with clearing out the caves in which the Smugglers have begun to operate from, and have been asked to attempt to bring the leader in alive, to face justice.

The job posting/quest giver will inform the party as to the location of the main cave entrance, along the coastline. If the party enquire further, they will learn that there is a second entrance, which is located offshore, and can only be accessed by boat. If the party want to enter this way, they will need to find someone to either lend or sell them a boat. None of the local fishermen or sailors will be willing to enter the caves, due to the danger of the Smugglers, but one will be willing to allow them to borrow his rowboat if they can pass a DC 14 charisma (persuasion) or charisma (intimidation) check.

Another piece of information you may give to your players, should you decide it to be pertinent, is that the smugglers are known for setting up traps within their base, and that the party should be careful. If, however, you’re more like me, let it be a nice little surprise for them instead!

The Area

This adventure is, for obvious reasons, best set in a coastal town or village. The population will be mostly fishermen, sailors and merchants, and will not be an overly wealthy area. If you want to run this adventure for a group based in a less coastal area, you could easily have the quest involve travelling to the area. Maybe even throw in a random encounter or two along the way? If you’re looking for maps for the journey, I definitely suggest both my Modular Plains map pack, and my Plains and Cliffs map pack.

The Map:

20 March 2021

Ruined Graveyard Battlemap - With 8 Themed Encounters

After a few darker encounters in our last battlemap post, we decided that it was high time for a properly dark battlemap installment. This week, that takes the form of a ruined graveyard, along with the ruins of some kind of building (most likely a church). What led to the place being deserted? Did the cliffs begin to erode, growing too close to the building? Was there some kind of disaster, wherein the building burned/crumbled, killing many, becoming a tomb of its own? Did the dead begin to grow restless, and take their grievances out on those that buried them? So many unanswered questions... .

The possibilities for storytelling and encounter design are endless with this map, and we really had a lot of fun making it/writing them this week. Each encounter is, as always, themed to the locale, and I’m sure you can guess where a lot of them are headed thematically.

The Map

Besides the gravestones, the ruined remains of the building, and the cliff face, the map this week is actually very basic. There are no special features like lava pools or icy lakes. Just a few short walls, some natural cover from trees and the gravestones, and a short cliff face leading into the ocean (or whatever body of water you wish to make it).

The Map

19 March 2021

Bonus Map! River Bridge Battlemap

 This week, I needed a quick map for a random encounter in my Wednesday game. The party had just arrived at a bridge over a river, and were about to cross. I thought it was high time for another 'random' combat encounter (100% planned encounter), but didn't give myself long to make the map. Instead, I took my recent Craggy Ravine Battlemap, and quickly edited it to have water instead of a black ravine! In case that is the kind of thing anyone here might use, then I thought I would post it anyway!

The Map

If anyone is after the encounter I ran, then it was very simple; 2 Water Weirds (MM - p299), and 4 Water Motes (statblock here). The motes floated above the bridge, to attack the party that were hiding from the Weirds, and the weirds grabbed anything that got too close, and then proceeded to drown/continue to constrict them.

It caused the first player character death in that campaign. I would 100% run it again! Maybe this time for a party one level higher... They were only level 5, to be fair!

13 March 2021

Art Resource Week: Mini-Dungeon Maps

This month, we have designed 8 unique dungeon maps, ready for you, as a DM, to populate with any adventure you can imagine! Each map has been designed in an old school, classical style, and has been left intentionally unfurnished, so that you can use them wherever you want. All of the adventures that I create, I make a map for. These are usually specific to their adventures, and designed to be quite detailed to fit with the overall theme. Whilst this is usually great, we asked ourselves what people would find helpful for drop-and-play in any situation. our answer? A set of miniature dungeon designs, built to easily fit any adventure!

When I began DMing, I would often find maps online, and use them as inspiration for my adventures. This worked out well enough, but it meant that I was left with pre-furnished maps that didn't actually fit my narrative well. I eventually started using simple black and while outlines of maps to represent my intentions, but felt they were visually lacking. The perfect middle ground? Pre-made dungeon maps, just lacking any detail!

We hope that the maps in this pack will help you not only in providing a backdrop for your adventures, but also maybe inspire interesting ideas with their layouts! The 8 unique maps are each 25x25 squares on a grid, though they are also available without grids so you can re-size them as needed. Each of the eight maps are available in three styles; classic stone, sandy, and blue, and each in available both with and without grid.

06 March 2021

Craggy Ravine Bridge Battlemap

 After a lot of extreme environments last month; icy tundras, arid deserts and even scorching volcanos, we decided it was time to get back to more temperate climates. Our first battlemap of March features a stone bridge, crossing over a deep ravine. How deep does it go? What could have caused such a scar in the earth? What dark creatures lurk in the dark below? All good questions, and all shall remain unanswered by us. Make it work for your world, and your setting.

We had a lot of fun creating this map, as we love the idea of a chasm stretching down further than the eye can see. The power that a void can invoke is something else entirely, with the absolute feelings of wonder, and terror, that it can instill in someone. Just the thought of crossing this bridge filled us with so many ideas for stories, about how and why it was created, what it leads to, and much more. In these encounters, we hope you will see at least a few of these ideas play out. 

The Map

The Map

04 March 2021

Monster Spotlight - Torch Slime

  The Torch slime closely resembles a slug in its outward appearance, save for the near constant flame that it produces from its back. I remember encountering them for the first time the same day that I also first observed the Ferrumolsk.

  One could easily mistake the Torch Slimes as being related to the Ferrumolsk, assuming them to simply be a shell-less version of the creature, however nothing could be further from the truth. The Ferrumolsk are snail-like elemental creatures, who live peacefully in the caverns beneath volcanic areas, whilst the Torch Slimes are vicious oozes, that will happily attack any creature they see, to feed.

  The Torch Slimes are opportunistic creatures, and will regularly hang from the ceilings of volcanic caverns, only to drop down onto the heads of creatures passing through. The biggest threat, however, is not their fire, nor their powerful slams, but rather their slime trails. Wherever these creatures go, they seem to excrete a trail of molten hot slime, which lingers in the area, and can cause serious harm to living tissue. It is also, as I was unfortunate enough to find out firsthand, very slick.

02 March 2021

Monster Spotlight - Ferrumolsk

 It was on my journeys through the chambers beneath an active volcano that I first encountered the Ferrumolsk. These creatures of fire, which greatly resembled giant snails, seemed at home in the scorching caverns. Though in a hurry to move to areas with more bearable temperatures, I couldn't help but watch these fascinating creatures for a while, to try an learn a little more about them.

After a few hours of observation, I found the heat to be becoming unbearable, so left for the day, already drawing up plans to return more prepared on the morrow. It took some convincing, but I finally had a sorcerer friend of mine whip me up some fire resistant clothing, as well as a few potions for the journey, and like that I made my way back the their den. I set up a small campsite inside the cavern with them, finding them to be mostly harmless (unless provoked). After watching for a few more hours, I noticed there were a few spots within the cavern that the creatures seemed to congregate. Taking it upon myself to investigate, I waited until later, after they had moved on to a different area, and then began to look.

It didn't take long for me to work it out, however, as the signs were quite obvious; the creatures were congregating to eat the iron ore deposits in the cavern floor! It seems these creatures have found a way to, not only consume and digest this metal, but also to extract it's properties and infuse them into their shells! The shells of these creatures were as solid as fine plate armour, and offer the creatures much protection against predators, though what would consider these creatures prey I hope not to find out...