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Adaption/Enhancing Tomb of Annihilation's Dungrunglung

Onslaught

Explorer
Hello,

I've been running a (heavily addapted) Tomb of Annihilation in Eberron, putting Chult in the lost continent of Xen'drik.

So I'm preparing to use Dungrunglung in my campaign, and I have two issues with it for witch I'd like a few opinions on fellow setting fans (and more experienced DMs).:
  1. The text says the Grung have an undead problem, but it never *plays* it
  2. I dislike the Grung... they seem like a comic relief race, and have a very Faerunian feel to me
    • I will use Eberron's Drows instead, as they're more appropriate to a tribe in Xen'drik's forest

So... here's the changes:

  • The Drow Tribe here venerates an aspect of The Traveler in the form of poisonous frogs.
    • Traveler is the God of Change, as Frogs do during their lives: from egg to tadpole to froglet to frog...
    • The Moving Labyrinth is considered a blessing of The Traveler
    • Maybe name this aspect Grung in homage : )
  • They're worried abou the influx of Undead in the forest, and their most used weapons (daggers full of poison) aren't effective against Undead
  • The Leader (formerly Groak Grung King) thinks they can appease the gods by making an humanoid sacrifice in a ritual
    • That would be a captured member of the Covenant of light (adapted from Order of the Gauntlet) or a Batiri Goblin(1)
  • The Priest (formerly Krr'ook Grung Priest) thinks the King is mad as is being cruel just for the sake, which is the way of Vulkoor (the Devourer - god of destruction), not of Traveler, and that doing so would disrupt the Traveler blessing that is protecting them
    • I don't like the solution using Norzul's Marvelous Pingiments proposed by the book... but I think The Priest should ask the players to stop the ritual.
  • The Warrior (formely Roark) is supposed to support the tribe and dislike the Leader's way

So... helps:
  1. How do you guys played "Point 1" (grung undead problem) in Dungrunglung? Any ideas to spice things up?
  2. How organize the stopping the ritual part, specially in a non-violent way?
  3. What about a little plot twist in that The Priest, after getting help from the characters, does the ritual herself (as in chosing between two evils)? How can I set this up?
  4. How to use The Warrior (formerly Roark) in this scheme?

Note (1): My group encountered a Drow prisioner in Yellyark that would be cooked in the right moon, and had an incredible argument on how it was "OK" for a tribe to do it... in the end the Bard (CG, civilized character) made a scene where the prisioner broke free and had to die fighting against the whole tribe. Amazing session, really.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
I've been running a (heavily addapted) Tomb of Annihilation in Eberron, putting Chult in the lost continent of Xen'drik.

<snip>

So... helps:
  1. How do you guys played "Point 1" (grung undead problem) in Dungrunglung? Any ideas to spice things up?
  2. How organize the stopping the ritual part, specially in a non-violent way?
  3. What about a little plot twist in that The Priest, after getting help from the characters, does the ritual herself (as in chosing between two evils)? How can I set this up?
  4. How to use The Warrior (formerly Roark) in this scheme?

I'm not familiar with Eberron, so I won't be able to help on that front. However, I'm running my own "enhanced" Dungrunglung now, and can share what I'm doing.

Undead Problem. I made the Thorn Maze a more serious obstacle using the ToA board game tiles and random tables. For instance, damaging the Thorn Maze risks the undead breaking through and overrunning Dungrunglung. I also have a greater diversity of undead including Batiri goblin zombies ("zoblins"), vine troll skeletons, and a beholder zombie (which mad King Groak wants to turn into a floating throne). To spice it up, I have Batiri goblins from the Snarling Crocodile clan (think "Walking Dead" adapted goblins) who plan to infiltrate the Thorn Maze, rescue their captive Prince Pufferfish, and kill King Groak in a night raid.

Stopping the Ritual. I'm using the setup from ToA, though one of my players is running a Grung Druid PC (who is considering usurping King Groak) and they just discovered the "Artus Cimber" traveling with them is actually a doppelganger decoy. So they have lots of options. Specifically, I've imagined that Groak has written down his feverish dreams of Nangnang – derived from scattered bits of lore about the Nine Trickster Gods of Omu – which are scattered across different pages. I'm in the process of defining these on index cards (e.g. the floating throne will be one), the idea being that the players can interpret them in varying ways, so the "floating throne" could be the beholder zombie...or it could be something else of the PCs' devising. I'm planning on coming up with 3-5 of these "scattered feverish notes."

The Priestess' Ambitions. I am playing Krr'ook as a social climber eager for caste/color advancement. I've played that out through subtle social nuance when the party interacts with the despotic King Groak, particularly trying to subtly undermine the Grung Druid PC. The key thing is that Krr'ook doesn't want to directly oppose King Groak and certainly doesn't want to harm him.

Roark the Warrior. I introduced a conspiracy known as the "GMC" or "Groak Must Croak" which uses graffiti of a crowned grung getting three daggers in the back. The party – aided by Krr'ook – is investigating this conspiracy at the behest of King Groak. I created a triumvirate conspiracy, with Yupyup (anarchist grung stripped of her coloration whose husband was executed at Groak's order, sowing chaos) and Prince Pufferfish (goblin slave, hailing from Snarling Crocodile clan, promising "foreign aid") key members, and Roark the secret mastermind behind the conspiracy. He communicates with Yupyup, Prince Pufferfish, and a few complicit slaves & green grung using anonymous letters laced with orange grung venom (causing slaves to grow frightened & distrustful of each other). Roark is dutiful in the "tribe first, king second" sense, and he feels King Groak will drive the grung to ruin if unchecked. He looks for a window leading up to or during the ceremony (possibly a Batiri goblin raid) to activate his green grung henchmen to perform the assassination. Ideally, leaving Roark blameless.
 

Onslaught

Explorer
Thanks for your answers [MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION]!
I'm not familiar with Eberron, so I won't be able to help on that front. However, I'm running my own "enhanced" Dungrunglung now, and can share what I'm doing.
Just a bit of context: Xen'drik, the continent I'm using to replace Chult, has great portions of tropical forest, but has a lost civilization ruins and is home to the setting's Drow (among other nasty things), which are tribal jungle elves, many of which venerate a deity represented by a scorpion (hence poison)... There's even a parallel with classic Drider (Drow-Spider) in the form of the Scorrow (Drow-Scorpion), which might be a different race altogether or some kind of godly-boon.
Undead Problem. I made the Thorn Maze a more serious obstacle using the ToA board game tiles and random tables. For instance, damaging the Thorn Maze risks the undead breaking through and overrunning Dungrunglung. I also have a greater diversity of undead including Batiri goblin zombies ("zoblins"), vine troll skeletons, and a beholder zombie (which mad King Groak wants to turn into a floating throne). To spice it up, I have Batiri goblins from the Snarling Crocodile clan (think "Walking Dead" adapted goblins) who plan to infiltrate the Thorn Maze, rescue their captive Prince Pufferfish, and kill King Groak in a night raid.
Did you use different rules for Zoblins? What is a Vine Troll (that seems interesintg!)?Spicing things up with Batiri is also a nice idea!Besides arriving in central Dungrunglung, are you leveraging undeads in any other way?
Stopping the Ritual. I'm using the setup from ToA, though one of my players is running a Grung Druid PC (who is considering usurping King Groak) and they just discovered the "Artus Cimber" traveling with them is actually a doppelganger decoy. So they have lots of options. Specifically, I've imagined that Groak has written down his feverish dreams of Nangnang – derived from scattered bits of lore about the Nine Trickster Gods of Omu – which are scattered across different pages. I'm in the process of defining these on index cards (e.g. the floating throne will be one), the idea being that the players can interpret them in varying ways, so the "floating throne" could be the beholder zombie...or it could be something else of the PCs' devising. I'm planning on coming up with 3-5 of these "scattered feverish notes."
You're setting your campaign in the Realms? I'm intrigued by the doppelganger... seems interesting and dervish with players, i liked it hehehehe!
The Priestess' Ambitions. I am playing Krr'ook as a social climber eager for caste/color advancement. I've played that out through subtle social nuance when the party interacts with the despotic King Groak, particularly trying to subtly undermine the Grung Druid PC. The key thing is that Krr'ook doesn't want to directly oppose King Groak and certainly doesn't want to harm him.
This makes sense. Going practical: you'll be asking for a few Wisdom(Insight) checks? Or just go full RP?
Roark the Warrior. I introduced a conspiracy known as the "GMC" or "Groak Must Croak" which uses graffiti of a crowned grung getting three daggers in the back. The party – aided by Krr'ook – is investigating this conspiracy at the behest of King Groak. I created a triumvirate conspiracy, with Yupyup (anarchist grung stripped of her coloration whose husband was executed at Groak's order, sowing chaos) and Prince Pufferfish (goblin slave, hailing from Snarling Crocodile clan, promising "foreign aid") key members, and Roark the secret mastermind behind the conspiracy. He communicates with Yupyup, Prince Pufferfish, and a few complicit slaves & green grung using anonymous letters laced with orange grung venom (causing slaves to grow frightened & distrustful of each other). Roark is dutiful in the "tribe first, king second" sense, and he feels King Groak will drive the grung to ruin if unchecked. He looks for a window leading up to or during the ceremony (possibly a Batiri goblin raid) to activate his green grung henchmen to perform the assassination. Ideally, leaving Roark blameless.
Hun... you're timing the Batiri raid with the cerimony to Nangnang?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Thanks for your answers [MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION]!

You're welcome!

Did you use different rules for Zoblins?

Here is my stat block for "zoblins" (which includes a version of the Batiri battle stack):

Batiri Goblin Zombie (Zoblin)
Small undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 11
Hit Points
Speed 20 ft.

STR 8 (-1) DEX 12 (+1) CON 10 (+0) INT 3 (-4) WIS 6 (-2) CHA 5 (-3)

Saving Throws Wis +0
Skills Stealth +3
Damage/Condition Immunities poison, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 8
Languages understands Goblin and Common, but can’t speak
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Battle Stacks. Batiri sometimes ride on each other’s shoulders in a “battle stack” up to nine goblins tall. Each goblin is tracked individually, but the stack moves and makes ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws as one creature. The stack makes one attack for every 10 feet of elevation in which there is a target; it has advantage on its melee attacks or Shove attempts.

Nimble Escape. The goblin zombie can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on its turn.

Undead Fortitude. The zombie is destroyed if it takes radiant damage, suffers a critical hit, or takes 20+ damage from a single attack, spell, or effect. Otherwise, it makes a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to the damage taken; if it fails, it is destroyed, if it succeeds, it is unharmed.

Actions
Shortspear. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) piercing damage.

Vicious Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) piercing damage and the zoblin latches on to the target as long as it is not already attached to a creature. The creature the zoblin is latched onto has their movement speed reduced by 10 ft. and takes 2 (1d4) necrotic damage at the end of each of its turns. A creature may use its action to make a DC 11 Strength saving throw, prying the zoblin loose on a successful save.

What is a Vine Troll (that seems interesintg!)?

A vine troll skeleton is a CR 9 monster found in Kobold Press' excellent Tome of Beasts.

Besides arriving in central Dungrunglung, are you leveraging undeads in any other way?

Sure, several ways. The ghouls in the Thorn Maze offered to let PCs go if the PCs agreed to help them find their way through the maze to reach the grung – of course, as my party includes a grung PC that was rejected immediately.

I also use zombies as more puzzle/obstacle encounters than strictly combats. For example, placing a McGuffin amidst a horde of zombies, and letting up to the PCs to devise a creative way to reach the McGuffin.

I seeded rumors about "spectral pollywogs" in the tadpole pools.

The Batiri goblins I mentioned from the Snarling Crocodile clan wear elaborate nasty disguises allowing themselves to pass among zombies unnoticed.

You're setting your campaign in the Realms?

Yeah, technically it is the Forgotten Realms. But because all my players chose to be Chult-natives, I'm really running a Chult focused campaign. Spellplague is part of the backstory, Amnian colonists were kicked out of Chult, and so forth...but the present time focus is on Chult. That's where all the story and adventure is happening.

I'm intrigued by the doppelganger... seems interesting and dervish with players, i liked it hehehehe!

Yeah, there was a lot of "I frickin' knew something was off about him!" when "Artus" was revealed to be a doppelganger. Definitely has led to interesting debate in the party about how to treat the doppelganger.

This makes sense. Going practical: you'll be asking for a few Wisdom(Insight) checks? Or just go full RP?

Oh, I do a mix of RP and asking for Insight checks. However, in a strange twist of probability, this group has failed every single Insight check they've attempted. Those not-snake-people in a past session became good friends and traveling companions. Artus was clearly not behaving strangely. Etc. It's become a joke that the only requirement for a new player to join the group is that their PC can't be trained in Insight.

Hun... you're timing the Batiri raid with the cerimony to Nangnang?

Well, this last session everything went pear-shaped. The PCs includes a red grung – who befriended a treant, reclaimed a grung hero's spear, and used a ring of color changing to appear gold – and they issued a full on challenge against King Groak and his four lieutenants. We ended with them just starting to throw down. So much for best laid plans! ;)

The goblin paladin PC is hoping that by instilling the grung PC on the throne, that will herald more peaceful relations with the Snarling Crocodile goblins. We'll see how it plays out.
 

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