IRON DM 2022 The Tournament Thread


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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
That said, I'm going to disappoint by admitting that my first Spelljammer character for the new edition is going to be a Tabaxi Bard. He's going to knock peoples breakables off of high shelves whilst staring at them and daring them to start something.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
That said, I'm going to disappoint by admitting that my first Spelljammer character for the new edition is going to be a Tabaxi Bard. He's going to knock peoples breakables off of high shelves whilst staring at them and daring them to start something.

It's a truism that the Venn diagram of Bard players and Cat lovers is a single circle.

Make of that information what you will.
 


Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
That said, I'm going to disappoint by admitting that my first Spelljammer character for the new edition is going to be a Tabaxi Bard. He's going to knock peoples breakables off of high shelves whilst staring at them and daring them to start something.
(I have just made a Tabaxi Bard for a Spelljammer game, and now I fear I must reconsider....)
 

Wicht

Hero
Round 2, Match 1
J.Quondam vs. FitztheRuke

@J.Quondam and @FitztheRuke, you have 48 hours to post your entries to this thread. Please limit your entry to a title, a list of the ingredients used and 1500 additional words. Remember that if you include descriptions of your ingredients with the ingredients list, those descriptions will count against your word-limit! Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; everything after will be ignored.

The judges will be using Wordcounter.net to ensure that our counts are consistent.

Please include your list of ingredients at the beginning of the entry and please do not edit your post once it is submitted. Please refrain from reading your opponent's entry until after you have posted your own. You are on your honor to do so.

Your ingredients are:
Respected Beggar
Undead Settlement
Wide Depression
Recalcitrant Infant
Garden-fresh Greens
Moldy Tapestry
Smuggled Elixir

Your 48 hours starts now!
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Trouble on Greenhill (for 5e)

Ingredients:
Respected Beggar​
Undead Settlement​
Wide Depression​
Recalcitrant Infant​
Garden-fresh Greens​
Moldy Tapestry​
Smuggled Elixir​

When a caravan of mysterious newcomers arrived in the arid quarry town of Gravelwick, they rightfully claimed an ancient burial mound as their ancestral home and built a colorful hamlet among its barrows. These "Ombruans" soon cultivated vast rows of vegetables and established a healthy trade of garden-fresh greens for local wares.

That was two peaceful years ago. But nowadays trouble brews as unusual events are blamed on "the foreigners."

Hooks
  • A PC hears of the "Ombru," veiled nomads wielding ancient druidic powers.
  • PCs are attacked by (or hear of) spirit-like wolves or thorny awakened shrubs a few miles outside town.
  • A friend wants a gift delivered to the gold dragon, Zuan-zhinde.
  • A PC learns of an great altruist called "The Vagabond."
  • The baron hires adventurers to handle unrest in Gravelwick.

Gravelwick is a bustling town whose many shops can provide most necessary services. Influential personages include:

Baron Dante Macadam (knight)
  • curt, incurious, and mainly concerned with town stability and his own coffers.
  • ambivalent toward the Ombruans, but appreciates the business.
  • hires/rewards adventurers as needed.
Guardcaptain Gorra Coppermaul (veteran)
  • very competent, but overly-deferential to the baron.
  • likes the Ombruans, regards the Vagabond as helpful, and distrusts dragons.
  • helpful to visitors who behave themselves
Important citizens:
  • Castor Spring (noble), awkward but sharp-minded merchant who trades with Ombruans and Zuan-zhinde.
  • Edwina Coyle-Wraithbane (priest), dour and sanctimonious intellectual who believes the Ombruans are malevolent, and the Vagabond is a rabble-rouser.
  • Lady N'Drea Tolo (noble), good-natured and flighty petty noble who openly disdains the Vagabond but secretly pays him for illicit medicines for her baby's incurable colic. (The infant is a changeling!)
  • Lemuel Wynryng (noble), suave businessman who covertly receives smuggled Elixir of Long-life from the Vagabond and sells it for a fat profit. (In truth, these potions induce slow undeath!)
  • Trigg Riggsley (veteran), sport enthusiast and merchant who respects the Ombruans but finds their quietness off-putting.

As long as the PCs are not involved in shenanigans, they can explore without interference. Townsfolk generally appreciate Ombruan contributions, but one-third feel they are "creepy", "too secretive", or "shady foreigners." However, none honestly recalls any crimes, which authorities confirm. Poorer residents speak well of the respected beggar called the Vagabond, a bandaged man with a long-established reputation among destitute urchins, ex-crooks, lepers and other hardship cases.

In truth, the Vagabond is an Ombruan wight named Kizar, long banished from his people's caravan. He came to the barrow mound to hunt for means to ingratiate himself to locals. Years of isolated resentment have corrupted him thoroughly: the motive behind his good deeds is to raise a rebellion.

The return of Kizar's clanfolk severely limits his access to the barrows and forces him to remain inconspicuous. He quietly encourages his followers to instigate violence against the Ombruans to drive them off. Kizar's resources include:
  • two loyal cult fanatic lieutenants: Brother Wilkes, who acts very agreeable but is tongueless; and Sister Caleen, who behaves meekly, but is devious.
  • two dozen commoners, six cultists, and six zombies disguised as lepers.
  • a small stash of druidic magics, mainly for healing and conjuration, including unique single-use potions, ointments, and scrolls salvaged from the barrow.
  • a hidden tunnel to a secret chamber in the Ombruan barrow complex, which contains:
    • the moldy Tapestry of Doors, a huge wall-hanging (8 ft. x 100 ft.) depicting life-size scenes of ancient Ombruan civilization on which large patches of velvety black mold fill the doorway images. An undead creature can part this mold like a curtain and step through into a distant barrow.
    • Kizar uses this tapestry to plunder other Ombruan catacombs of magic, including the smuggled elixirs for personages in Gravelwick.
PCs who interview the Vagabond find him calm and amiable, if sermonizing, and excessively modest. If PCs investigate too deeply, they may be harassed, but probably not attacked outright.

The great burial mound just outside Gravelwick is now called Greenhill for the vegetables growing upon it year-round. At the higher end of the long hill, colorful wagons and pavilions crowd the eight ancient barrows that form the Ombruan hamlet. The hill is encircled by an ancient moat, a wide depression called Thistleditch. It occasionally floods in monsoons, but usually remains dry and impassable with overgrown with briars. Two rarely-guarded footbridges (one toward town) connect each end of Greenhill to the surroundings.

Town encounters:
  • The Vagabond ministers to urchins or an invalid.
  • Animated turnip greens (awakened shrubs) cause chaos in the market. (The vendor received the produce from an Ombruan named Jihan. Two helpful beggars unloaded them.)
  • One night, fire erupts on Greenhill and the narrow footbridge hinders attempts to douse it. How townsfolk respond could depend on the PCs. (Eyewitnesses claim it was a dragon attack, and a couple golden scales found.)
  • Beggars mob three Ombruans on the street. Ripping the immigrants' robes to expose withered bodies, they cry "Undead!" The crowd becomes agitated: their response may depend on the PCs.
  • Several needle blights emerge from Thistleditch by twilight to raid the outskirts of town.
  • In a shadowy place, a beggar surreptitiously deals with a hooded figure. (A cloaked footman of Lemuel Wynryng or Lady Tolo purchases a smuggled elixir from a follower of the Vagabond.)

The Ombruans mostly keep to themselves on Greenhill. They wear undyed robes with colorful sashes and wide-brimmed hats, and always keep their eyes veiled. Their skin is cracked, scarred, and browned by long years tending crops and nurturing wildlands. They have black eyes, toothy grins, and whispery voices. Though reserved, they welcome visitors in barrow huts furnished with low tables, cushions, rugs, and wall-hangings. These furnishings conceal passages leading downward into the burial mound.

In fact, the Ombruans are undead, paradoxically cultivating the life they worship after death. Leaders of the undead settlement are druid-themed wights, while most are simply undead commoners.
Abani Minda, chief speaker
  • terrified that the villagers of Gravelwick are not ready to learn the Ombruans are undead.
  • worries about tensions and openly engages town leaders, although she knows some don't trust her.
  • skeptical of hushed rumors that the Vagabond is undead, possibly even the outcast Kiraz
  • devout worshiper of nature and harvest gods.
Aba Nedju, spiritual leader
  • is a druid-like spellcaster
  • genuinely good-hearted and laughs easily
  • has terrifying visions of a dragon, and fears it is Zuan-zhinde.
Imne, recordkeeper
  • believes all Ombruans should return to "respectable" death as Longsleepers.
  • once glimpsed the Vagabond, and suspects he is Kiraz the outcast.
  • may scheme to goad her people to Longsleep.
Jihan, friendly trader whose flute melodies honor nature.
Ambra, talented agriculturalist who fears the villagers
The Longsleepers are "permanently" at rest, and include the Elders who ruled the earliest Ombruan civilization. If somehow roused, these are very powerful undead.

Ombruans speak little around outsiders, but warm to those who approach thoughtfully. They freely offer hospitality, but will never willingly acknowledge the underground barrow levels. They firmly eject snoopers on Greenhill, and respond violently to intruders caught underground.

Delving the Ombruan village
Each of eight barrows atop Greenhill conceal passages leading to two levels of interconnected tombs where the Ombruans rest, worship, and create their agricultural magics. Enchanted secret doors hide a third level where the Longsleepers rest. The complex is guarded by skeletons, zombies, specters, and wights; as well as molds, assassin vine roots, and druidic ward magic.
Kizar's secret tunnel leads from Thistleditch near the footbridge to the second level. He erected false walls, secret doors, and wards to protect his hideout and the stolen Tapestry of Doors.

Wilderness around Gravelwick
Wanderers expect typical hill encounters, plus:
  • wagon train transporting stone.
  • group of pushy beggars (commoners) asking for alms. (They compare PCs favorably or unfavorably to the Vagabond, depending.)
  • short, intense unseasonal thunderstorm.
  • fey-spirit dire wolves or bloodhawks. (These are conjured by Kizar.)
  • tree blights.

Zuan-zhinde is a recalcitrant infant by dragon standards, a (wyrmling or young) gold dragon living in a crag-top ruin one day from Gravelwick. He is the benevolent but haughty "protector of the hills, who's received gifts from renowned patrons and given audience to pilgrims."
detests condescension from those "beneath" him, and may throw a tantrum if pushed.
  • angrily insulted by bribes.
  • responds well to draconic scripture and lore.
  • childishly curious about humanoids claiming draconic heritage, contacts, or magics.
He instinctively dislikes the Ombruans, who "stink of undeath." Emissaries of the Vagabond press him to violence, but he is reasonable under thoughtful negotiation.

If attacked, he likely retreats, by flight or a well-hidden teleportation circle rigged to disintegrate if approached without a password. His treasure is typical for a wyrmling.

Concluding developments: "What if the PCs...."
  • eliminate the Vagabond? The authorities of Gravelwick and Greenhill are grateful and offer rewards. However, his cultish followers become overtly hostile.
  • destroy the Ombruans? At the next full moon, one revenant per PC rises to seek vengeance.
  • uncover smuggling activity? The guilty citizen or the Vagabond may offer a bribe; otherwise, authorities give a reward.
  • kill or oust Zuan-zhinde? A draconic inquisitor eventually seeks redress.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
The Vampries of Dolgan’s Hollow

Respected Beggar
Undead Settlement
Wide Depression
Recalcitrant Infant
Garden-fresh Greens
Moldy Tapestry
Smuggled Elixir


Backstory: Twenty years ago, an elven monster hunter named Malinar led a group that destroyed a coven of vampires, burning their castle to the ground and slaying their vampire lord. A shrewd vampire named Zannifer organized a small group of surviving vampires who fled into the surrounding countryside where they hid from the light and fed on whatever they could capture. When the vampires came upon Dolgan’s Hollow, the locals were understandably terrified. Salvation came from a very unlikely source - the local mendicant - who negotiated a peace with the vampires that lasts to this day.

Dolgan’s Hollow: A run-down village in the Sinking Valley - a wide forested valley between to solitary mountains. The spring runoff flows through various creeks and streams to pool at the valley’s lowest point - Murky Lake. Dolgan’s Hollow is not on any major trade routes, and the Lords of Rottergate - the nearest city, three days travel westward – have long argued whether or not it falls under their purview. It is not worth as much in taxes as it would cost to protect, so the village is left to its own devices.

Note: This adventure can portray the monsters as sympathetic and the monster hunters as the villains. For a more standard set-up, the GM could have the party be agents of the elf Malinar and the villagers be oppressed by the vampires, even living in fear of them. Either way, the tone is up to the table. This can be played as a fun monster-filled romp, or a dark horror with gray morality.

Party (Session Zero): If the group chooses to play the adventure as villagers or travellers allied with the vampires, some can choose to play Dhampir half-bloods. If they are vampire hunters, some should be encouraged to play elves (or Malinar is likely to treat them as ignorant children).


NPCs:

Malinar
is an elf monster hunter from the elvish land of Estelion. He loathes vampires, who he views as a mockery of the living. He is driven to the point of obsession and has no sense of humour. He rewards loyalty and success but has no patience for dithering or failure.

Zannifer is a vampire who has risen by merit to lead her coven. She convinced the others to settle in Dolgan’s Hollow and to keep peace with the locals. She is polite and regal but is not one to be trifled with.

Ludz is mayor of Dolgan’s Hollow. He was a drunken beggar when the vampires came, living in the stables of the Smiling Cat, the local inn. To save the innkeeper’s wife from a vampire attack, he offered himself in exchange. The vampires took him to the forest to feed but to everyone’s surprise, they began to talk. By dawn, he had negotiated a peaceful settlement.

Piquette is a halfling farmer and new mother who sells her crops at a stall in Dolgan’s Hollow market.

Claydon is a wine importer and smuggler from Rottersgate. He works with the Rottersgate poor to deliver illegal blood to Dolgan’s Hollow. He has been successful at it for nearly twenty years but wants to retire. His son Mattew doesn’t want to deal with small-town vampires and has been leaking information to Malinar’s agents.


These Five Encounters can be played in any order the DM chooses (with the final battle at the end), but the order presented here is designed to build stakes and introduce important NPCs in inverse order of importance.

Swamp Creature – The halfling farmer Piquette has a glorious crop of fresh vegetables this season. She’d be the most successful vendor in Dolgan’s Hollow Market this year if she weren’t struggling with two problems: Her husband Boltan has gone missing, and their son Dav, an infant, has stopped eating, and won’t stop crying. She begs the party for their help. Through investigating the disappearance, the party will eventually find themselves at Murky Lake, at the deepest part of the wide valley, where they will encounter a swamp creature. At first they should assume that the creature ate poor Boltan, but it flees from battle. Though it struggles to speak, eventually they should discover that it IS Boltan, who was infected by a spoor while gathering swamp cabbage. He has been secretly fertilizing his wife’s garden (hence the glorious color of her greens) but he made the mistake of touching his child – who is now infected – and can now only be sustained by swamp gasses. Both can be cured with remove curse or other powerful magic, or the child can go live with his father in the swamp (transforming after three days into a swamp creature).

If the party are locals, they may wish to help Piquette for her sake. If they are working for Malinar, they are in town to search for vampires. A swamp monster is not a vampire, but it will do for now.

Location: Murky Lake Swamp – The lowest part of the wide valley about two miles from Dolgan’s Hollow. The shoreline has a lot of spots for a swamp creature to hide and is dotted with rocks and trees that hide pitfalls and quagmires.

Missing Ring – A wereraven stole Ludz’ mayoral ring. The former mendicant, now mayor of Dugan’s Hollow, left his ring on his desk in the attic of the Smiling Cat Inn and when he returned, it was gone. The responsibility that was given to him when the town made him mayor sobered him up, so it has a lot of sentimental value. He hires the party to find it for him. Eventually they will discover it at the nest of a wereraven in the hills to the east. She gave it to her unruly brood of chicks, who tend to stay in raven or hybrid form. While they are distracted by shiny things, they are quite dangerous when provoked.

If the party is working for Malinar, they will help to ingratiate themselves with the town mayor while looking for vampires.

Location: Hillside Raven’s Nest – A rocky outcropping with a gravel trail leading up to it. The nest is on a ledge near a 30 ft. drop onto jagged rocks. Cover is sparse and the wereravens know the area well.

Smuggler’s Cache – When the blood is delivered to Dolgan’s Hollow, it is left outside town in a regular spot under an elven tapestry. Zannifer brought the old tapestry with her when she fled the elven lands. It is a beautiful work of art that shifts colors with changes of the light. It also makes for excellent forest camouflage. Though diminished now by stains and weathering the tapestry has historical significance and great value to the elves and Malinar would see it returned.

If the party is working for Zannifer, she sends the party to pick up the delivery and they are ambushed by Malinar’s agents. If they are working for Malinar, they have come to ambush the vampires that arrive to pick up the shipment.

Location: Hollow’s Forest Glen – A secluded clearing four miles out of Dolgan’s Hollow. Superstitious drivers refuse to go closer. The Cache is beside a fallen log, under a weathered tapestry that looks much like the forest around it. The treeline provides much cover for an ambush.

Blood Smugglers – In the nearby port city of Rottersgate, Ludz facilitated a deal with a wine importer named Claydon. Already heavily involved with smuggling, they fill empty wine bottles with human blood (purchased willingly from the poor of Rottersgate) and smuggle it through the city’s gates (both to avoid wine tariffs and because transporting blood is illegal, due to its connection to questionable acts such as necromancy.) The encounter occurs just before dawn where bottles of blood are being loaded onto a wagon for transport to Dolgan’s Hollow. Claydon’s son has betrayed his father by informing Malinar of the location.

The party is either working for Zannifer to ensure the arrival of the shipment, or for Malinar to destroy it and anyone involved.

Location: Rottersgate Alley – A steep cobbled alley next to a warehouse, with a wagon and two horses, crates, and a corner that leads onto a main road. Claydon and Mattew are there, as well as two workers.

Final Confrontation – Until now, Malinar has sent agents to do his work for him. His agents have now confirmed that his quarry has settled in Dolgan’s Hollow, so he arrives himself with a small army. The monster-hunters confront Zannifer and her coven at the mayoral manor house, where the vampires have taken residence (while Ludz moved his office to the Inn’s attic). The party can join in on either side, tipping the scales of the encounter one way or the other.

Location: Mayoral Manor – An old manor house with a large tree out front and a low wall with an iron gate. A road loops around the tree and it has a second floor with a balcony.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Woooo-eeee! That was tough. I could not get myself to sit down and write without a billion distractions.

I am moderately happy with it in the end, though there is an ingredient or two that I know I could have done a better job with.

Let's see what the judges have to say about it... I bet I know which ingredients will fail me! (But you never know - sometimes judges like different things about your entry than you do. It's part of the fun!)
 
Last edited:

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
This round didn't feel as rushed. The bigger word count is significant;y roomier, despite the extra ingredient.

That said, this one didn't come together for me and meandered* widely, despite locking down a basic idea early on. I know my ingredient use is pretty weak on at least two of them, and mediocre on at least two others. I also pointedly made the setting a "quarry town" but then completely forgot to do anything with that! At the very least, the quarry would have made for an encounter set. A big miss, womp! womp!

Oh well. Definitely looking forward to what the judges have to say this round.

* Btw, I really like how focused FitzTheRuke writes his adventures.
 

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