Posts Tagged ‘lycanthropes’

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

Tis the season for witches, skeletons, jack-o’-lanterns, and things that go bump in the night. It’s a great time for gamers. Our active imaginations have us thinking of scary surprises for our gaming groups. I bet more than a few Dungeon Masters out there are designing a dastardly quests centered around a cemeteries, cabins in the woods, and haunted mansions. Wolves will howl, vampires will feast, and demiliches will devour souls.

But why should monsters get all the fun? Why does the Dungeon Master always get to control the baddest mofos in the land? To help players celebrate the season I developed some deliciously evil backgrounds for less-than-savory PCs. First up is the lycanthrope background which assumes a character was once afflicted with the disease and has since been cured. More of these player options to come as we approach the witching holiday!

Lycanthrope

You were afflicted with lycanthropy, a disease which caused you to become a shapeshifting monster such as a werewolf or wererat. The disease probably drove you to commit violent acts you may never have even contemplated in real life and though you are cured, you must still live with the consequences of those actions. Perhaps it is making up for those actions which causes you to adventure or a determination that what happened to you should never happen to anyone else ever again. Or perhaps your motivations are darker and you seek to again hold the power this supernatural disease brought to you.

Not all lycanthropes are inherently evil. There is a small chance you were one of the very rare werebears or weretigers. If you make this choice, your actions as a lycanthrope were probably not sadistic and murderous. Maybe some of the deeds you accomplished as a lycanthrope were heroically motivated. Still, your lycanthropy has been cured and you’ve begun a new life as an adventurer, perhaps because you feared you still might hurt those you love in your animal or hybrid form or because society wouldn’t accept you as a lycanthrope no matter how virtuous your actions.

You decide (or roll for) the type of lycanthropy with which you were afflicted, the length of time you had the disease, the acts you committed and the person who cured you of it. You can choose or roll on the table below to determine your type of lycanthropy. There are rarer types of lycanthropy in some worlds, such as weresharks and werespiders. If you’re interested in playing a character who was once such a lycanthrope, ask your DM if such options are available.

d20 Type of Lycanthrope
1 – 10 Werewolf
11 – 15 Wererat
16 – 18 Wereboar
19 Weretiger
20 Werebear

Skills: Intimidation, Survival

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: An iron pot, a set of common clothes, a small knife, a tooth, claw, or tusk from your old animal form, and belt pouch containing 10 gp

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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It’s time for another adventure! For the past couple weeks on this site I’ve been building a tiny dungeon in my homebrew campaign world of Exploration Age post by post. Well now I’ve revised, tweaked, and added to that adventure, The Wererat Den, and put it all together in a nice, downloadable, FREE PDF. You can grab it in the link below or you can head on over to the Free Game Resources section of the site where it will live forever alongside plenty of other resources for your game like monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspells, magic items, another adventure, and more.

Here’s the PDF – The Wererat Den

The Wererat Den is a short fifth edition adventure for four to six 5th-level PCs. In this adventure the PCs take on an inn full of lycanthrope supremacists, save some elf and halfling children, and maybe even outrun some lava. If you play through the adventure, please let me know what you think!

But wait! There’s more. I’ve got more links below of the individual dungeon maps, both with and without grids, for you to use however you like. Personally, I’ll be bringing them right into Roll20 as I play through with my group.

All these maps were made using Pyromancers‘ Dungeon Painter tool. I love it! So fast, easy, web-based, and free!

The Wererat Den Maps Gridded

Wererat Den Gridded A 34x34 Wererat Den Gridded B 34x34 Wererat Den Gridded C 34x34

The Wererat Den Maps Gridless

Wererat Den No Grid A 34x34 Wererat Den No Grid B 34x34 Wererat Den No Grid C 34x34

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Happy Gen Con, everyone!

Before I get to today’s blog post, if you’re at Gen Con so am I! If you listen to the Round Table or The Tome Show‘s D&D V&G podcast then you’ll also know my good friend and Gen Con bud, Rudy Basso. We’ll be tweeting pictures of ourselves so follow us there to say hey or come hang with us on tomorrow (Friday) at 8:30PM when we’ll be at Tavern on South. It’s a block from the convention center and we’ll be joined by Tome Show hosts and regulars like Jeff Greiner and Mike Shea and more. Maybe even Tracy Hurley will be there, which would be awesome because she is awesome.

Ok! Onto today’s post.

Meet the Lycans

If you’ve been following the blog for at least a week or so you know that I recently wrote about my love of tiny dungeons. Now I’m building a tiny dungeon one post at a time on this blog. Check out the first post in The Wererat Den series to get the background, synopsis, and hooks for the adventure along with a table of random forest encounters characters might experience on their way to the dungeon.

Before we get to the meat of the dungeon I’d like to show off the new wereboars, wererats, and werewolves that player characters will face during the small crawl.

Wereboar, Halfling Berserker

Small humanoid (halfling, shapechanger), neutral evil

Armor Class 14 in humanoid form (hide), 13 in boar form (natural), 15 in hybrid form (hide and natural)

Hit Points 78 (12d6 + 36)

Speed 25 ft. (40 ft. in boar form)

STR

DEX

CON

INT

WIS

CHA

17 (+3)

14 (+2)

17 (+3)

9 (-1)

11 (+0)

9 (-1)

Skills Perception +1

Damage Resistances poison

Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons that aren’t silvered

Senses passive Perception 11

Languages Common and Halfling (can’t speak in boar form)

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Polymorph. The wereboar can use its action to  polymorph into a boar-humanoid hybrid or into a boar, or back into its true form which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its AC and speed, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Brave. The wereboar has advantage on all saving throws against being frightened.

Charge (Boar or Hybrid Form Only). If the wereboar moves at least 15 feet straight towards a target and then hits it with its tusks on the same turn, the target takes an extra 7 (2d6) slashing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Lucky. When the wereboar rolls a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, it can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Reckless. At the start of its turn, the wereboar can gain advantage on all melee weapon attack rolls during that turn, but attack rolls against it have advantage until the start of its next turn.

Relentless (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). If the wereboar takes 14 damage or less that would reduce it to 0 hit points, it is reduced to 1 hit point instead.

Stout Resilience. The wereboar has advantage on saving throws against poison.

Actions

Multiattack (Halfling or Hybrid Form Only). The wereboar makes two attacks, only one of which can be with its tusks.

Warhammer (Halfling or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d10 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

Tusks (Boar or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) slashing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with wereboar lycanthropy.

Wererat, Elf

Medium humanoid (elf, shapechanger), lawful evil

Armor Class 12

Hit Points 33 (6d8 + 6)

Speed 35 ft. (30 ft. in rat form)

STR

DEX

CON

INT

WIS

CHA

10 (+0)

15 (+2)

12 (+1)

11 (+0)

11 (+0)

8 (-1)

Skills Perception +4, Stealth +4

Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons that aren’t silvered

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages Common and Elvish (can’t speak in rat form)

Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Polymorph. The wererat can use its action to  polymorph into a rat-humanoid hybrid or into a giant rat, or back into its true form which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its size and speed, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Fey Ancestry. The wererat has advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic cannot put it to sleep.

Keen Smell. The wererat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Mask of the Wild. The wererat can attempt to hide even when it is only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.

Actions

Multiattack (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). The wererat makes two attacks, only one of which can be a bite.

Bite (Rat or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with wererat lycanthropy.

Rapier (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.

Longbow (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.

Wererat, Elf Mage

Medium humanoid (elf, shapechanger), lawful evil

Armor Class 12 (15 with mage armor)

Hit Points 55 (10d8 + 10)

Speed 30 ft.

STR

DEX

CON

INT

WIS

CHA

10 (+0)

15 (+2)

12 (+1)

17 (+3)

12 (+1)

11 (+0)

Saving Throws Int +6, Wis +4

Skills Perception +4, Stealth +4

Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons that aren’t silvered

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages Common, Dwarvish, Elvish, Gnomish, and Halfling (can’t speak in rat form)

Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

Polymorph. The wererat can use its action to  polymorph into a rat-humanoid hybrid or into a giant rat, or back into its true form which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Fey Ancestry. The wererat has advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic cannot put it to sleep.

Keen Smell. The wererat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Spellcasting (Elf and Hybrid Form Only). The mage is a 9th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). The mage has the following wizard spell prepared:

Cantrips (at will): acid splash, fire bolt, light, mage hand, prestidigitation

1st level (4 slots): detect magic, mage armor, magic missile, shield

2nd level (3 slots): misty step, suggestion

3rd level (3 slots): counterspell, fireball, lightning bolt

4th level (3 slots): blight, greater invisibility

5th level (1 slot): cone of cold

Actions

Multiattack (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). The wererat makes two attacks, only one of which can be a bite.

Bite (Rat or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with wererat lycanthropy.

Dagger (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.

Wererat, Halfling

Small humanoid (halfling, shapechanger), lawful evil

Armor Class 12

Hit Points 33 (6d8 + 6)

Speed 25 ft. (30 ft. in rat form)

STR

DEX

CON

INT

WIS

CHA

10 (+0)

15 (+2)

12 (+1)

11 (+0)

11 (+0)

8 (-1)

Skills Perception +2, Stealth +4

Damage Resistances poison

Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons that aren’t silvered

Senses darkvision 60 ft. (rat form only), passive Perception 12

Languages Common and Halfling (can’t speak in rat form)

Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Polymorph. The wererat can use its action to  polymorph into a rat-humanoid hybrid or into a giant rat, or back into its true form which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its speed, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Brave. The wererat has advantage on all saving throws against being frightened.

Keen Smell. The wererat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Lucky. When the wererat rolls a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, it can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Stout Resilience. The wererat has advantage on saving throws against poison.

Actions

Multiattack (Halfling or Hybrid Form Only). The wererat makes two attacks, only one of which can be a bite.

Bite (Rat or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with wererat lycanthropy.

Shortsword (Halfling or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.

Shortbow (Halfling or Hybrid Form Only). Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.

Werewolf, Elf

Medium humanoid (elf, shapechanger), chaotic evil

Armor Class 12, 13 (natural armor) in wolf or hybrid form

Hit Points 58 (9d8 + 18)

Speed 35 ft. (40 ft. in wolf form)

STR

DEX

CON

INT

WIS

CHA

15 (+2)

15 (+2)

14 (+2)

10 (+0)

11 (+0)

10 (+0)

Skills Perception +4, Stealth +4

Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons that aren’t silvered

Senses darkvision 60 ft. (elf and hybrid form only), passive Perception 14

Languages Common and Elvish (can’t speak in wolf form)

Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Polymorph. The werewolf can use its action to  polymorph into a wolf-humanoid hybrid or into a wolf, or back into its true form which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its AC, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Fey Ancestry. The werewolf has advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic cannot put it to sleep.

Keen Hearing and Smell. The werewolf has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

Mask of the Wild. The werewolf can attempt to hide even when it is only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.

Actions

Multiattack (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). The werewolf makes two attacks, only one of which can be a bite.

Bite (Wolf or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with werewolf lycanthropy.

Claws (Hybrid Form Only).  Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) slashing damage.

Greatsword (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) slashing damage.

Longbow (Elf or Hybrid Form Only). Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.

PDFs

It’d be cool if you had all these lycanthropes in a PDF to take with you to your game. Well I’m a pretty cool guy so I made it happen! Click on the links below to grab just the monsters in this post or grab them with every other fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons monster I’ve created.

All Monsters

Lycanthropes

Of course if you don’t want to grab these now, you can head on over to the Free Game Resources section of the site anytime where they will live forever alongside plenty of other resources for your game like monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspells, magic items, and more.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Last Thursday I posted a piece about tiny dungeons and I promised you an example of one of these bad boys. I’ll have the dungeon on Tuesday next week. Right now I’m going to show off some hooks, and random encounters for the area surrounding the dungeon and on Thursday I want to show off some of the new monsters I’ve designed for the dungeon.

The Wererat Den is a short fifth edition adventure for a party of four to six fifth level characters. This adventure takes place in the campaign setting of Exploration Age, but can easily be adapted for any setting you choose.

Adventure Background

In the elf and halfling dominated republic of Taliana, a band of terrorist lycanthropes known as the Brotherhood of the Moon have a covert cell hiding at the Dromadas Inn, a roadside establishment halfway between Waynana and Pricillia in The Great Wood on the East Bank of the Vumba River.

The lycanthropes haven’t always run the Dromadas Inn but they recently infected the establishment’s proprietor and staff. Their plan is simple. Infect any who stop to rest at the inn with lycanthropy and then let those unfortunate souls carry the disease to their final destination.

The leader of the lycanthrope gang is a elf wererat mage, Alcaeus Branthom. Alcaeus is working his way up the ranks of the brotherhood and hopes his triumph at Dromadas will catch the eye of the organization’s leaders. The mage is never without his halfling wereboar bodyguards, Reconda and Elvani Iustabar, the howling sisters.

Recently a group of halfling and elf adolescents were making their way along the road from Pricillia to Waynana. These children are the sons and daughters of some of Taliana’s wealthiest and most influential merchant families. They were headed to Waynana to learn more about Taliana’s bustling lumber economy and enjoy the nightlife the party city has to offer. Along the way the group stopped at the Dromadas Inn.

The lycanthropes seized the opportunity, killed or infected the adults and guards within the group and imprisoned the children in the inn’s basement. Now Alcaeus is torn. He is unsure if he should infect the adolescent children or use their imprisonment to blackmail their powerful parents into becoming lycanthropes. He is using the Brotherhood of the Moon’s complicated channels to ask leadership about what he should do with the children and is currently waiting for a response.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 6.01.00 AM

The pink star shows the location of the Dromadas Inn. Each hex = 50 miles. This map was made using Hexographer.

Brotherhood of the Moon

The Brotherhood of the Moon are a band of lycanthropes who believe lycanthropy is the next stage of humanoid evolution. These lycanthropes view their curse as a gift and constantly scheme to inflict lycanthropy upon others. They have a long history of operating within Taliana in Exploration Age, but the Brotherhood of the Moon can easily be brought into any campaign setting.

Adventure Synopsis

Using one of the hooks from the Hooks section of this adventure or by some other scheme you cook up, the characters arrive at the Dromadas Inn. They have a chance to interact with the incognito members of the Brotherhood of the Moon who try to asses if the PCs might willingly join the operation or if they’ll need to be forcibly infected. The characters can then work their way through the inn either by force, stealth, or bluff. They eventually learn the children of some of Taliana’s influential merchants and political figures are being kept as prisoners in the basement of the Dromadas Inn and must decide what to do about it.

Waynana

The characters begin the adventure in Waynana.

Waynana (City Population 50,000) Waynana is one of three sister cities, the other two being Pricillia and Fraya. The lumberjacks living in The Great Wood bring their hauls to Waynana so they can be transported to Pricillia and Fraya for travel. Waynana is a testament to Talianan woodworking skill. Beautiful log and wood carved buildings line the streets, giving the city an inviting and rustic feel.

Waynana parties harder than any other city in Taliana. The lumberjacks love to blow off some steam and often get into rowdy drinking contests with one another. Bar fights are a common occurrence in the taverns and seem to occur just for the fun of the participants at times. Waynana is home to several breweries, distilleries, and vineyards that are all proud to have the elves and halflings who call the place home imbibe their products.

For all its partying Waynana is a bit short on law enforcement and the citizens know it. It’s not that the city doesn’t have the coin, it’s that the city council has trouble convincing folk to sign up. They always have a backlog of cases and solicit adventurers to investigate crimes for a reward.

Hooks

The following adventure hooks can be used to get your players to the Dromadas Inn.

Save the Children

Dreas Mercor, the proprietor of the hugely successful Mercor Lumber Company in Waynana, contacts the adventurers because he has heard of their past deeds. The purple-clad, mustached halfling is a nervously fidgeting as he tells the characters that he has been waiting for a wagon train of friends’ adolescent children to come from Pricillia as he is supposed to be their caretaker during their stay. The wagons were supposed to arrive five days ago and he hasn’t gotten any word since hear they had left Pricillia. He’s sure everything’s fine, they were traveling along the road after all, but Dreas would like some people he can trust to look into it. He offers to pay the adventurers 200 gp each plus the cost of food and lodging expenses to search along the road to Pricillia for the children and escort them to Waynana safely.

Attack of the Lycanthropes

The beleaguered Waynana police force has recently noticed a pattern of increased lycanthrope attacks. Over the past few months several travelers coming by way of Pricillia into the city have suddenly transformed and violently attacked the citizens of Waynana. Police investigator Mira Ventulos approaches the characters based on their reputation for past deeds or the characters see a posting advertising the job directing them to Mira. She offers the characters 100 gp each plus the cost of food and lodging expenses to search along the road to Pricillia for any signs of lycanthrope activity and to report back when they learn. She offers them an additional 10 gp each for every lycanthrope they slay.

A Stay at the Dromadas Inn

If the characters are journeying along the road to Waynana to Pricillia for any reason they might stay in the Dromadas Inn. If they stay here the characters are attacked by wererats in their room at night.

The Road to the Dromadas Inn

The road from Waynana to the Dromadas Inn is contained within The Great Wood. Within these woods halfling and elven lumberjacks roam, cutting lumber for the cities of Taliana and exporting boards and wood across Canus. Of course the woods have hungry beasts and vicious monsters who might see a few adventurers as an easier target than a troop of lumberjacks.

Fast Travel

Taliana’s roads are lined with magic speedy cobblestones installed by The Arcane College. These roads allow for fast travel between towns and cities when using special swifty boots, swifty horseshoes, and swifty wheels. The speed of the traveler is tripled when using these items along the special roads. Travel along these roads is safe, thanks to the swift speed. If PCs are traveling quickly along the road at tripled speed, there is no need to roll for random encounters, until they stop to rest. Prices for the swfity gear is below.

Gear Price Notes
Swifty boots 50 gp Pair of two
Swifty horseshoes 200 gp Set of four
Swifty animal shoes 400 gp Customized for mount of choice
Swifty wheels 500 gp Set of four
Random Encounters

While traveling in The Great Wood the characters may encounter all sorts of people and monsters. Roll a d20 three times for each day the PCs are traveling in the forest, once for morning, once for afternoon, and once for night. On a roll of 18-20 a random encounter occurs.

Use the table to determine what type of encounter occurs. For encounters marked with an asterisk use the descriptions provided after the tables.

d12 + d8 Encounter
2 1 fleeing wererat victim*
3 basilisks
4 1d4 giant boars
5 1 green hag and 1d4+2 giant poisonous snakes
6 1d4+2 dire wolves
7 1 shambling mound
8 1 troll
9 1d4 wererats*
10 1 bandit captain and 2d6 bandits
11 lumber merchant caravan*
12 1d4 orogs
13 2 owlbears
14 4 druids*
15 1d4 + 2 giant spiders
16 1d8 + 7 wolves
17 1 hill giant
18 1d4 ettercaps
19 1 banshee
20 1 unicorn*
Fleeing Wererat Victim

On the road the characters run into a disheveled, starving elf woman named Betra Closo. She is half mad, raving about being in the Dromadas Inn when she woke up to a strange creature gnawing on her shoulder. She pushed the creature away and fled the inn, but is afraid that whatever the thing was that bit her is still after her. If the characters approach her she is cautious but trusts them out of necessity.

Betra is infected with wererat lyncathropy, but doesn’t know it yet. If she stays with the adventurers, during the next full moon she transforms into the hybrid form of a wererat and attacks the adventurers.

Wererats

This band of four wererats were infected at the Dromadas Inn and now stalk the road for potential prey. If they are overwhelmed they try to flee back to the inn, but if captured and interrogated, only a successful DC 20 Charisma (Intimidation) gets them to reveal the location of their base. The wererats fear the wrath of Alcaeus and in most cases would rather die than give up their brethren.

Lumber Merchant Caravan

The characters pass a caravan of lumber merchants resting along the road. If they stop to talk with the merchants, the characters learn the merchants are looking forward to reaching the famous Dromadas Inn on the Vumba River because it is famous for its suckling wild boar and soft feather beds.

Druids

The characters pass a group of druids meditating near the road. These druids are friendly and if the characters seem to be respectful they offer them a chance to meditate and commune with nature with them. Any character who spends an hour meditating gains Inspiration.

Unicorn

A unicorn passes by the road and touches a random good-aligned character with its horn gently. That character gains the Charm of Beast Speech.  The unicorn then runs off into the forest.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

NOTE: The werespider previously featured here is now part of my Pay What You Want DMs Guild product Arachnids, Wraiths, & Zombies.

Sometimes you just want to shake things up. You need to spice up combat and add a few hazards to keep players on their toes. Sometimes you want to go further and do something really crazy. In keeping with Sam Van Der Wall of RPG Alchemy‘s Blog Carnival theme, “The Combat Experience,” I’m going to show off one of my favorite encounters. One where I turned the battle mat on its side. Keep reading. You’ll see what I mean.

Mario and Luigi

When we play Dungeons and Dragons with a battle mat and miniatures we are usually dealing with two dimensions, just like most old Nintendo games. Often in D&D those two dimensions are an overhead or bird’s eye view like in The Legend of Zelda.

We see Link and octoroks as if we were above looking down on them.

Yet many other Nintendo games had a side view like Double Dragon.

We see Billy Lee kicking some butt as if we were standing to the side.

I began to imagine what a battle in a side view might look like on a battle mat. In order to get the most out of the map, I’d need the battle to have a lot of vertical levels, otherwise the encounter wouldn’t be very dynamic and all of the non-flying creatures would just hangout at the bottom of the grid. I also wanted the encounter to be contained on the battle mat. When flipping things from bird’s eye to side view, it becomes very easy to run out of map space as creatures move around. The map doesn’t follow you like a camera in a video game.

There might be a few of you who remember the old Mario Bros. game. I’m talking arcade style before the Marios were going into castles to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. I’m talking two dudes facing off in the sewers trying to kick over as many koopa shells as possible to get some points to win a game. If Mario ran off one side of the screen, he appeared on the other (which solves my running off the map problem). It looked like this…

I’m sure the older gamers among us remember.

Well that game inspired an encounter with my players that I designed and we throughly enjoyed.

The Ladder of Insanity

The PCs had to make their way to the Underdark via a massive column known as The Ladder of Insanity. The huge column plunged miles underground and its face was marked with crumbling 5-foot wide ledges and stairs, which are just wide enough for a creatures to travel single file.

The characters found the further down The Ladder of Insanity they got, the more ruin and disrepair became obstacles. Whole sections of ledges and staircases were missing or ready to plunge into the darkness. As the PCs negotiated these hazards, a crew of drow bandits lead by a werespider appeared and attacked. The battle mat looked something like this…

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Behold! The Ladder of Insanity!

Now I made that map in Roll20 and used digital tokens for the PCs instead of their beautiful array of bird’s eye view digital miniatures.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 5.25.35 PM

Miniature on the left, token on the right.

I recommend using tokens instead of minis in a side view encounter. You could use miniatures, but they are made specifically for bird’s eye view encounters. It is going to be more difficult for your players to wrap their minds around a side view encounter with miniatures unless you place them on their sides, but that could damage some more delicate minis.

After the map was created I wrote down a few quick mechanics for the battle.

  • The map wraps around the column. So if PCs ran off one side of the map they would appear on the other. It works just like Mario Brothers of Pac Man.
  • The column is curved. A creature is granted half cover from attacks made by any creature more than 20 feet away, three-quarters cover from any creature more than 30 feet away, and total cover from any creature more than 40 feet away.
  • Climbing the walls at half speed requires a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check. Creatures who fail this check by 5 or more fall onto the platform directly below their space and land prone, taking fall damage as normal.
  • Jumping up and grabbing a higher platform works as normal. In order to pull itself up to the new level a creature must succeed on a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check or end its movement in the first space it entered on the new, higher level.
  • At the end of a creature’s turn if it is on one of the platforms it must roll a d20. On a roll of 1, the ground beneath its feet crumbles. The creature must make a DC 10 Reflex saving throw to jump to an adjacent unoccupied space of its choice. If it fails it falls, landing prone and taking fall damage as normal. Wherever the creature ends up after rolling a 1 it must roll another d20 to see if the new ground beneath its feet crumbles and repeat the saving throw if it gets another 1. This continues until the creature rolls a number other than 1.

Bam! There you have it. The mat is flipped and a fun encounter is had by all.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Werewolves.

Ok, now that you’ve read that how many of you immediately went to the sexy werewolf zone? Even if you didn’t go there at first, you still know what I’m talking about, and it’s ok. Genre fiction that’s popular is usually a very good thing for the nerd community as a whole, even if sexy werewolves are not exactly your thing. That being said, they are not my thing. Neither are werewolves as normal folk who get amnesia about their transform into raging killers during the full moon. I’m trying to uncover a new way of thinking about them in Exploration Age.

There’s so much more to this guy than simple sex appeal. He’s not a piece of meat, people.

A History of The Brotherhood

A little less than 400 years ago, a secret cabal of elf werewolves formed in Taliana. The Brotherhood of the Moon had one mission – to propel their race up the evolutionary ladder by giving the gift of lycanthropy to every elf in Taliana.

At first The Brotherhood of the Moon was a few roving werewolves, who would seduce non-lycan elves into accepting the gift with promises of heightened senses and increased physical prowess. But as they grew, the werewolves developed a more formal organizational structure with a leader, called the Moon King or Queen, and chapters that were secretly operating within Taliana’s major settlements. In the beginning these chapters focused on voluntary recruitment. As their numbers grew, The Brotherhood of the Moon hatched a more sinister plot.

They began to target members of Taliana’s ruling Parliament. Many of these members were extorted and blackmailed into becoming werewolves. As their influence spread, so too did public knowledge of the cabal. They grew too bold and Taliana began hunting these lycanthropes down. The Brotherhood of the Moon took this aggression as an act of violent discrimination against werewolves and responded by raiding villages and infecting the population with their gift. Many elves would rather die than become a werewolf, and the Brotherhood of the Moon was happy to grant that option.

After many deaths on both sides the cabal was brought under control. The remaining members of The Brotherhood went into hiding, until a lich attempted to seize control of Parliament and declare himself King of Taliana. Trivarch Leroux enlisted The Brotherhood’s help by promising to help fulfill their mission of wide-spread lycanthropy once he was in power. Trivarch’s plan was successful and he covered all of Taliana in the eternal night of a full moon to help The Brotherhood regrow its numbers in exchange for enforcing his harsh rule.

Trivarch wasn’t in power for long. A group of vigilante halflings calling themselves The Mothers of the Field destroyed him and restored the rule of the elf Parliament. (It is important to note Trivarch’s phylactery was never found.) The Brotherhood of the Moon went into hiding once again to escape the justice of Taliana’s Parliament. (One more note: the Mothers of the Field are still operational and will take on any authority they believe is corrupt or unfit to rule. Some see them as heroes, others as terrorists.)

Roughly 200 years ago, The Brotherhood of the Moon hatched another plot to increase the werewolf population of Taliana – they began seducing and mating with unsuspecting elves by order of the then Moon King. The werewolves had always stuck to their own kind for breeding, believing in keeping their own blood pure. Two werewolf parents produce werewolf offspring though their chances for conception are lower than most other humanoids. The thought was  a single werewolf parent would produce lycanthrope children and increase chances for conception by mating with a more fertile non-lycan partner. The Brotherhood soon found they were incorrect. Werewolf and elf parents alike were shocked to find themselves literally birthing a new race – the shifters.

Shifters doing their thang! You do you.

A Note on Shifters

I won’t go into too much depth here, since this post is supposed to be about The Brotherhood of the Moon, but as you can see the two are related.

Shifters were born outcasts. Many were killed as babes, their parents too horrified to look upon them. To many elves they were monstrosities and to many werewolves they were an evolutionary misstep and deserved to die. Many of the shifters who managed to have a parent kind enough to let them live were still kicked out of the house at an early age or orphaned when their parent was murdered by bigots or committed suicide after learning they had consummated with a werewolf.

These abandoned shifters found each other and formed communities of wandering vagabonds who make a living performing, swindling, and selling crafts. Today these communities exist all over Findalay and many look forward to the circuses and carnivals the shifters provide. Others feel the shifters have been short-changed and try to help these beings find a more established life in Findalay. Some fear the partial werewolf race avoiding and shunning them. The truly fearful seek out and kill these half-breeds.

The discovery of Verda has opened up new possibilities for the shifters, a place where they may have a home of their own free from persecution, stares, jeers, discrimination, violence, and the ever-looming Brotherhood of the Moon.

Brotherhood of the Moon Today

Today The Brotherhood of the Moon is operating in Taliana and scheming up ways to bring the gift to the inferior elves. They have also made it their mission to hunt and kill shifters, since the werewolves believe this evolutionary mistake is theirs to correct.

Currently, Moon Queen Elvira Selene rules The Brotherhood. Little is known about her plans. Recently werewolf nests have been found in some of Taliana’s major cities. While they have been destroyed, it begs the question how many undiscovered dens of lycanthropes remain? Has The Brotherhood mobilized once again or have these hideouts been in existence for years and just now being discovered? Are they planning on taking over the cities of Taliana from these nests? Are they engaged in smuggling orange spice (ooo more on that in another post)? Are they on an intelligence gathering mission? Whatever the reason, the discovery of these nests has the people of Taliana on edge once more…

Werewolf. With a sword. Yep.

Werewolf. With a sword. Yep.

So how’d I do? Do you like this new spin on werewolves, as racial supremacists convinced that non-lycanthropes are fools resisting the natural progression of life and evolution on Canus? I hope it terrifies and intrigues you!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!