5E [SPOILERS] Enhancing Tomb of Annihilation

Mull Ponders

Explorer
The description is a dozen giant undead turtles carrying a platform with a stone fortress on top. If it were me, I wouldn't leave a lot of space between the turtles, either a 4 by 3 or a 3 by 4 grid. Realistically they were tied to the platform and stopped moving in formation. It's all ruins now, I like what you have done with the remnants of towers. The walls are gone, things are falling into the swamp, none of it makes any sense if you didn't know what this was before it fell into ruin.

Edit: It's already a dismal swamp area, perfect for a hag. Add twisted trees and a patch of the blue mist (mad monkey fever) that resists the wind and I think you are set. Put it on an edge of the ruin.
 
Last edited:
The description is a dozen giant undead turtles carrying a platform with a stone fortress on top. If it were me, I wouldn't leave a lot of space between the turtles, either a 4 by 3 or a 3 by 4 grid. Realistically they were tied to the platform and stopped moving in formation. It's all ruins now, I like what you have done with the remnants of towers. The walls are gone, things are falling into the swamp, none of it makes any sense if you didn't know what this was before it fell into ruin.

Edit: It's already a dismal swamp area, perfect for a hag. Add twisted trees and a patch of the blue mist (mad monkey fever) that resists the wind and I think you are set. Put it on an edge of the ruin.
Yep! Good idea on the mad monkey mists surrounding the palace.

Any other ideas for Widow Groat or her personal “lair” Ras Nsi’s Old Palace?

Here’s the map I have so far; four areas: surrounds, towers, foyer/main room, and a dragon turtle shell vault.

I’m envisioning this as Widow Groat’s private sanctum away from the Tomb where she can pursue her agendas and keep her secrets away from prying eyes of her two “younger sisters” Baggy Nana and Peggy Deadbells. She has been in Chult for nearly 100 years (judging by ToA’s timeline with Omu’s fall), which is about three human generations...enough for some grandparents to have stories hinting at “the witch with coins over her eyes” & for the culture to value dreamcatcher like things which keep dreams safe.

ToA offers little in the way of motivation or role playing details for the Sewn Sisters, so... running off the gold coins on her eyes theme, I pick a hag personality trait from Volo’s: “I enjoy wagers as part of my bargains, which increase the risks of stakes.” OK, so Widow Groat is a wheeler and dealer. If she’s to appear in person she’ll need enough minion muscle to keep a group of about six 5th level PCs (and a couple NPC allies) at bay, as well as interesting items/information/charms to trade.

The PCs are traveling there to break Widow Groat’s muteness curse on Dragonbait who clearly knows something about the Death Curse - in fact his homeworld was drained of life by Acererak (none of that is canon, just my interpretation). So there’s one main thing they might trade for. Additionally, they’re interested in learning anything they can glean about Ras Nsi (since it *was* his old palace), and I’m imagining including some clues about his transformation into yuan-ti. Lastly, I’m contemplating throwing some twist in, such as a trapped soul of a dead NPC or two the PCs are familiar with...which Widow Groat might trade for.

For some reason I’m imagining Widow Groat as the “face” of her sisters, and the one who has a longstanding enmity with the Mage Hunters (a group that was based in Mezro and hunted supernatural threats / renegade spellcasters). There is a tribe belonging to the Mage Hunters known as the Obanashi, who attempt to continue the old teachings. Perhaps Widow Groat hates them and, borrowing from Volo’s, she steals a child from the family each generation.

I’m contemplating having her be a bit obsessed with Acererak in a twisted romantic fashion. Hmm.

Finally, she’s described as having ants climb in and out of her skull... that makes me wonder if she has some connection to the Biting Ants goblin tribe of Yellyark..
 

Attachments

Last edited:

pukunui

Adventurer
My party faced Acererak last night. I felt like he was a little too easy to defeat - and therefore a little anti-climactic - but my players assured me it didn't feel that way to them. They said they felt like they'd very narrowly avoided a TPK. And yet, from my perspective, while he did manage to (temporarily) kill two of the PCs, I still felt like he spent most of the fight just desperately trying to survive the 5-against-1 onlsaught.

I gave him max hit points and may have allowed him to take an extra reaction once or twice (not necessarily on purpose) during the fight, but I think the extra bennies from the trickster god spirits made all the difference. Acererak really struggled to do any lasting damage to the PCs with his spells what with the constantly regenerating 50 temp hp. (Four out of the five PCs had spirits inhabiting them.)

The sphere of annihilation seemed really ineffective too. Yes, it could reach anywhere in the chamber at any time with its 90-foot movement speed, but the Dex save is too low, and it does no damage on a success, so it just wasn't doing much. I'll admit to being somewhat disappointed that none of the PCs got devoured by it.



In retrospect, Omu proved to be the deadliest part of the adventure. The tomb did not live up to its hype. Nor did Acererak. But my players seem to have a different view - with all of us feeling like we were on the back foot the entire time - and I guess that's all that matters, right?

The PCs are now 11th level, and we'll be moving on to Against the Giants.
 
Last edited:
My party faced Acererak last night. I felt like he was a little too easy to defeat - and therefore a little anti-climactic - but my players assured me it didn't feel that way to them. They said they felt like they'd very narrowly avoided a TPK. And yet, from my perspective, while he did manage to (temporarily) kill two of the PCs, I still felt like he spent most of the fight just desperately trying to survive the 5-against-1 onlsaught.

I gave him max hit points and may have allowed him to take an extra reaction once or twice (not necessarily on purpose) during the fight, but I think the extra bennies from the trickster god spirits made all the difference. Acererak really struggled to do any lasting damage to the PCs with his spells what with the constantly regenerating 50 temp hp. (Four out of the five PCs had spirits inhabiting them.)

The sphere of annihilation seemed really ineffective too. Yes, it could reach anywhere in the chamber at any time with its 90-foot movement speed, but the Dex save is too low, and it does no damage on a success, so it just wasn't doing much. I'll admit to being somewhat disappointed that none of the PCs got devoured by it.



In retrospect, Omu proved to be the deadliest part of the adventure. The tomb did not live up to its hype. Nor did Acererak. But my players seem to have a different view - with all of us feeling like we were on the back foot the entire time - and I guess that's all that matters, right?

The PCs are now 11th level, and we'll be moving on to Against the Giants.
Really valuable hearing your report. You had a party of five 10th level PCs, is that right?

How did you run Acererak? Pretty much straight as presented in ToA (i.e. minimum to no spells fast in advance preparation)? Do you remember what spells & what legendary actions did you focus on Acererak doing? I’m particularly curious about unusual strategies that present themselves for Acererak to employ (e.g. wall of force over lava and then drop it when PCs stand on top).
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Really valuable hearing your report. You had a party of five 10th level PCs, is that right?
Technically it's a party of six, but one player wasn't present, so neither was his PC.

How did you run Acererak? Pretty much straight as presented in ToA (i.e. minimum to no spells fast in advance preparation)? Do you remember what spells & what legendary actions did you focus on Acererak doing? I’m particularly curious about unusual strategies that present themselves for Acererak to employ (e.g. wall of force over lava and then drop it when PCs stand on top).
Yes, pretty much straight. I don't remember the exact order in which he used his spells, but I've noted that he used power word kill twice, maze once, chain lightning once, and disintegrate once. He also used counterspell several times, along with ray of frost and shocking grasp.

I had him use maze on the raging barbarian who was resisting all attempts at being paralyzed. The barbarian couldn't make the Intelligence check to find his way out so ended up being stuck there until the spell ran out.

He used both power word kills on the paladin who was smiting him painfully. The first time it didn't work, the second time it did.

Chain lightning wasn't all that effective. The rogue, for instance, didn't take any damage thanks to Evasion.

Disintegrate didn't work all that well either.

I kept trying to find a way for him to make use of time stop, but there really isn't a lot he can do with it with his default spell selection. If he had some more buffs or some way of healing himself, time stop would've been much more useful.

In terms of his Legendary Actions, he used Talisman of the Sphere plus an At-Will spell most rounds. I had him use Disrupt Life once, when there were numerous PCs within 20 feet of him.

In retrospect, I should have had him attempt to use his staff's Invoke Curse action, as that would've made finger of death and circle of death more effective.
 
[MENTION=54629]pukunui[/MENTION] Sounds like you ran him pretty true to form. I’ve read a few other reports describe him as a challenge but not living up to the hype. Also from the DM’s perspective.

I’m pretty sure he can cast animate dead as a Legendary Action (an exception circumventing usual 1 minute casting). And I believe a spellcaster can upcast a spell they know “at-will” by expending the appropriate slot. And the tomb is described as being a sort of ossuary with skeletons in the walls (concept art confirms that). So...you see what I’m thinking...Acererak could upcast Animate Dead as a Legendary Action, giving the party a few skeletons to get through before being able to engage Acererak in melee...or skeletons popping out of walls to grapple PCs or to attack concentrating spellcasters...

I also think that he might actually be able to use arcane lock or some other “non-combat” spells during combat, but I’ll need to study the map and descriptions more closely. My sense is Acererak is meant to use nonlinear tactics against the PCs.
 
Here’s the random encounter procedure I’ve come up with for Tomb of Annihilation to make exploration more interesting, meaningful, and wonder-filled. It came about as we finished a session early and I decided to let the players do the encounter rolls for the next 10 days of river travel. They enjoyed it! Hopefully others will find this useful...

[SBLOCK=Theorycraft]There is a blog called The Wicked City which has a great description of what’s problematic with ToA’s random encounter hexcrawl:

If you're going to do a hexcrawl, especially one which covers a huge area and involves long journeys from place to place, I really think that the percentage of hexes with stuff in them needs to be quite high - that, or you need a random encounter generator robust enough to fill all those blank spaces on your map with genuinely memorable encounters.
My approach here is the latter answer: making the random encounter generation more robust.[/SBLOCK]

Step I: Determine daily weather with The Random Faces of Chult (Bear Digital) (d100)

Step II: Check for encounters (d20):

1. Sanctuary! A sanctuary is a mystical safe place where there are no encounters while sleeping, humanoids sleep safe from night hag haunting, and after a long rest PCs regain *all* Hit Dice (not half) and remove all exhaustion. The DM can choose, or roll d20 on Lost Monuments of Chult (Sly Flourish) or d12 on Jungle Goodies (DMs Guild: Loot the Room).

2-14. No encounter.

15. Special. Either roll a d100 on Reddit Jungle Encounters or 3d6 on master encounter table in Jungles of Chult Factbook (DMs Guild). Lots of interesting scenery and non-combat stuff.

16-19. Encounter. Roll d100 on ToA tables as normal.

20. Big Encounter! Roll a d20 again:
1-4. A “boss”, possibly a rival or villainous NPC, a dangerous jungle predator, or a malevolent spirit. 
5-19. Roll for two encounters.
20. Either roll for three encounters, or a Boss with one encounter roll.

Step III: Determine terrain/structures with Jungle Environment Generator (Noblecrumpet Dorkvision). 

Roll a d6 for terrain features: 1-4 one, 5-6 two. Roll a d100 for each feature.

Roll a d6 for structures: 1-5 none, 6 structure (and roll d6 again to determine type of structure: 1-5 minor, 6 major). Roll a d100 for each minor structure and each major structure.

Step IV: Treasure. There is a 50% chance of treasure when finding a Sanctuary, and there is always treasure when encountering a “boss”/double/triple encounter, or exploring a structure. Major structures are kinda 3-to-5 room structures and probably merit two or three rolls. d20:
1-5 Individual treasure (DMG, d100)
6-9 Trinket (“Jungle Trinkets” on DMs Guild or another on Red Dice Diaries, d100)
10-11 Clue/Story Item/Key
12-14 Art Object (DM’s choice or d12 Jungle Goodies from DMs Guild: Loot the Room)
15-16 Common Magic Item (chosen by DM from PHB/XGtE/homebrew)
17-18 Magic Item from Karniv’s Treasures of Chult (DMs Guild)
19 Magic Item from DMG (d20: 1-5 Table A, 6-9, B, 10-12 C, 13-14 D, 15 E, 16-17 F, 18 G, 19 H, 20 I; then roll d100).
20 Treasure Hoard (DMG d100)

Step V: Alternate routes & finishing touches. I take all that, combining stuff in 3-to-5 days so that I am not making it a slog. I look at what’s happened before, what’s yet to come, what’s nearby on the map, and how all of it might relate to the PCs’ goals and backstories. When possible, I roll for an alternate encounter/terrain to give the players a navigation choice, and then look for ways to make that choice meaningful with descriptions that foreshadow & differing types of challenges/encounters. I do all that with an eye toward hooking in PC motives & backgrounds.

So that’s my process that has emerged so far! I think it works best to include the players in some of it...The kind of thing I’d have them roll for at the end of a session when they set a travel objective. That way I’d have the opportunity to massage it into something more engaging during my prep for next session.
 
Last edited:

pukunui

Adventurer
[MENTION=54629]pukunui[/MENTION] Sounds like you ran him pretty true to form. I’ve read a few other reports describe him as a challenge but not living up to the hype. Also from the DM’s perspective.
So I'm not the only one. That's a bit of a relief.

I’m pretty sure he can cast animate dead as a Legendary Action (an exception circumventing usual 1 minute casting). And I believe a spellcaster can upcast a spell they know “at-will” by expending the appropriate slot. And the tomb is described as being a sort of ossuary with skeletons in the walls (concept art confirms that). So...you see what I’m thinking...Acererak could upcast Animate Dead as a Legendary Action, giving the party a few skeletons to get through before being able to engage Acererak in melee...or skeletons popping out of walls to grapple PCs or to attack concentrating spellcasters...
He has got the ability to cast one of his at-will spells as a legendary action, yes. It never occurred to me that that would include animate dead, even though it is one of his at-will spells. And yes, the "Cradle of the Death God" chamber has alcoves full of human and minotaur skeletons along the walls of the balcony at the north end, where the PCs are most likely to be at the start of the combat. In retrospect, that probably would have helped quite a great deal!

I also think that he might actually be able to use arcane lock or some other “non-combat” spells during combat, but I’ll need to study the map and descriptions more closely.
There isn't really anything in the "final chamber" that he could use arcane lock on.

One change that would make him tougher would be to give him dispel magic. Several of the PCs in my group were able to circumvent the lava pit either by flying or using spider climb effects. They'd have been in big trouble if Acererak had been able to get rid of those effects, causing them to fall in the lava!

Here’s the random encounter procedure I’ve come up with for Tomb of Annihilation to make exploration more interesting, meaningful, and wonder-filled ...
Awesome stuff! Too bad it's come way too late for me. I am considering running ToA as a jungle hex crawl without the death curse for my other group at some point, though, in which case this would be more useful!

(When I started the adventure this time, the death curse was active right from the word "go" and so the group skipped over 99% of what was in Port Nyanzaru and also ignored most of the side quests, so it would be fun to be able to go back with another group and just play through that stuff without the ticking clock.)
 
Last edited:

Mull Ponders

Explorer
I used a different spell list from the book, found it through Google search. It was much better than the list in the book. Also, check Acererak against a stock Lich in the MM, he should be better. I recall they botched his stat block. Even with 3 legendary extra actions Acererak can't keep up with the sheer number of things a 5-6 player party can produce. My players were 9th level, every one had a Trickster God. Just no way to put out enough damage, 50 temporary hit points per round per player was just too much to overcome.

The Sphere was useless, pitiful damage unless you happened to be under 2 feet tall.

The biggest issue they had was at the beginning of the fight, Acererak appears on the balcony well above the path. Getting the melee in range was a problem, do you really want to trust the concentration check on a fly when you are over lava?
 
Here’s the random encounter procedure I’ve come up with for Tomb of Annihilation to make exploration more interesting, meaningful, and wonder-filled. It came about as we finished a session early and I decided to let the players do the encounter rolls for the next 10 days of river travel. They enjoyed it! Hopefully others will find this useful...

[SBLOCK=Theorycraft]There is a blog called The Wicked City which has a great description of what’s problematic with ToA’s random encounter hexcrawl:


My approach here is the latter answer: making the random encounter generation more robust.[/SBLOCK]

Step I: Determine daily weather with The Random Faces of Chult (Bear Digital) (d100)

Step II: Check for encounters (d20):

1. Sanctuary! A sanctuary is a mystical safe place where there are no encounters while sleeping, humanoids sleep safe from night hag haunting, and after a long rest PCs regain *all* Hit Dice (not half) and remove all exhaustion. The DM can choose, or roll d20 on Lost Monuments of Chult (Sly Flourish) or d12 on Jungle Goodies (DMs Guild: Loot the Room).

2-14. No encounter.

15. Special. Either roll a d100 on Reddit Jungle Encounters or 3d6 on master encounter table in Jungles of Chult Factbook (DMs Guild). Lots of interesting scenery and non-combat stuff.

16-19. Encounter. Roll d100 on ToA tables as normal.

20. Big Encounter! Roll a d20 again:
1-4. A “boss”, possibly a rival or villainous NPC, a dangerous jungle predator, or a malevolent spirit. 
5-19. Roll for two encounters.
20. Either roll for three encounters, or a Boss with one encounter roll.

Step III: Determine terrain/structures with Jungle Environment Generator (Noblecrumpet Dorkvision). 

Roll a d6 for terrain features: 1-4 one, 5-6 two. Roll a d100 for each feature.

Roll a d6 for structures: 1-5 none, 6 structure (and roll d6 again to determine type of structure: 1-5 minor, 6 major). Roll a d100 for each minor structure and each major structure.

Step IV: Treasure. There is a 50% chance of treasure when finding a Sanctuary, and there is always treasure when encountering a “boss”/double/triple encounter, or exploring a structure. Major structures are kinda 3-to-5 room structures and probably merit two or three rolls. d20:
1-5 Individual treasure (DMG, d100)
6-9 Trinket (“Jungle Trinkets” on DMs Guild or another on Red Dice Diaries, d100)
10-11 Clue/Story Item/Key
12-14 Art Object (DM’s choice or d12 Jungle Goodies from DMs Guild: Loot the Room)
15-16 Common Magic Item (chosen by DM from PHB/XGtE/homebrew)
17-18 Magic Item from Karniv’s Treasures of Chult (DMs Guild)
19 Magic Item from DMG (d20: 1-5 Table A, 6-9, B, 10-12 C, 13-14 D, 15 E, 16-17 F, 18 G, 19 H, 20 I; then roll d100).
20 Treasure Hoard (DMG d100)

Step V: Alternate routes & finishing touches. I take all that, combining stuff in 3-to-5 days so that I am not making it a slog. I look at what’s happened before, what’s yet to come, what’s nearby on the map, and how all of it might relate to the PCs’ goals and backstories. When possible, I roll for an alternate encounter/terrain to give the players a navigation choice, and then look for ways to make that choice meaningful with descriptions that foreshadow & differing types of challenges/encounters. I do all that with an eye toward hooking in PC motives & backgrounds.

So that’s my process that has emerged so far! I think it works best to include the players in some of it...The kind of thing I’d have them roll for at the end of a session when they set a travel objective. That way I’d have the opportunity to massage it into something more engaging during my prep for next session.
Here are the random encounter cards I created using this procedure (front & back) for the party's trek from Mezro to the Nsi Wastes following the River Olung:

[SBLOCK=Images of encounter cards]



[/SBLOCK]

Explanation of how I created these cards:

Day 1: Players rolled no encounters. To keep things quick, I did not roll for alternate encounters (for navigation choice options). This would be an uneventful day. However, both because the PCs had already come this way heading north into Mezro (a bit of retreading familiar ground) & because Dragonbait is keeping a fast pace for his own reasons, I'm using this as an opportunity to shine some light on Dragonbait's character and to share travel pace options with the players (as we haven't discussed travel pace rules yet). In reaching Ataaz Muhaha (again), I'm giving them an option about when to cross: Either they can cross at night – risking ability checks from PCs without darkvision to safely cross, but getting a long rest – or they can wait to cross in the morning – not getting a long rest due to creepy laughter from gorge, but crossing safely automatically.

Day 2: Players rolled AM – / PM chwinga / CAMP hadrosaurus. On my alternate encounters, I rolled AM aldani / PM – / CAMP giant crocodile. So, if any PCs fall down into river below Ataaz Muhahah and survive, they can meet some aldani (these guys can foreshadow information about the sanctuary on Day #7); if they're KO'ed the aldani may loot their body. With the chwinga, the PCs are swimming in scrolls from Mezro, so it's probably going to try to steal some of those, and I'm having it leave things that foreshadow what's to come on Day #6 (a Semuanya holy symbol & sacrificial knife from a PC's tribe) as well as a silly twisted common magic item I found online. Since my players want more loot! For the camp encounter, I'm having the hadrosaur herd stampeding towards PC camp because they've been spooked by a giant crocodile; this interrupts the party's long rest, helping to drive home that safe long rests are not guaranteed in the jungle.

Day 3: Players rolled no encounters. I wanted to provide a navigation choice, so I rolled for alternate encounters: flying monkeys & dead explorer / assassin vine / Artus Cimber. I know I don't want to introduce Artus Cimber this early, so I'll drop a clue as to his having passed this way. A navigation choice: a dimly lit canyon shortcut marked with a stone trail marker OR a ridge trail with a corpse entangled in vines hanging over the edge where flying monkeys ransack the corpse. One way is easier, may save time, and discovers trail markers left by Artus Cimber. Other way is riskier but there's a little treasure (serpent venom & obsidian dagger) and a note/clue on the corpse foreshadowing Day #6 encounter.

Day 4: Players rolled – / dimetrodon / faerie dragon. On my alternate encounters I rolled – / swarm of insects & flying snakes / –. Doing a bit of lore research, I learn about a faerie dragon named Zyx who befriended the mist dragon Cirrothamalan who claimed River Olung as its lair; because Cirrothamalan is intimately tied to one of the PC's backstories, I decide the faerie dragon is Zyx who is invisibly harassing the dimetrodons. Navigation choice: bypass erratic dimetrodons sunbathing in mudflats OR hop boulders across river hoping not to fall in. At night, Zyx will prank them and depending on their reaction they can gain useful information from the faerie dragon.

Day 5: Players rolled Special (38 on Reddit Jungle Encounters = giant stone head with flickering glowing eyes) / – / –. On my alternate encounters I rolled aarakocra / giant snapping turtle / –. Opting to ignore the giant snapping turtle or include it elsewhere, I come up with another navigation choice: toward twin glowing lights down in the fog, or up steep climb to aarakocra shrine. I tie the giant head to a goblin PC's lineage descending from the Great Queen Mbobo. If aarakocra are summoned, they may be negotiated with to reveal aerial reconnaissance details (such as the exact location of the witch's lair in the Nsi Wastes) & will mention they're searching for the missing aarakocra Kiirk, foreshadowing that the hag has taken him captive.

Day 6: Players rolled a Boss encounter / giant frogs / –. On my alternate encounters I rolled Emerald Enclave / – / –. I came up with the idea of a gemstone (using [MENTION=6789113]Jackdaw[/MENTION]'s idea about the Primordial Diamond of Ubtao, once given to the gods being the template from which the diamond ritual component for resurrection spells came, being used to power the Soulmonger) known as the "Zombie Killer Diamond", allegedly connected to the Primordial Diamond of Ubtao). The players have hated zombies' Undead Fortitude, so I wanted one of the properties of the diamond to destroy that trait for zombies in Chult...however that's a BIG win, so I wanted other ways it might be used to seem equally appealing...being able to track down a creature like a wight or necromancer that spawned a zombie? that's huge for the ranger PC who had to mercy kill his zombified wife!...and stopping the deterioration of sentient zombies created through Nanny Pupu's ritual (which PCs have yet to learn of). This is a BIG McGuffin.

Since the ranger PC was formerly involved with Emerald Enclave, this encounter would draw on his backstory heavily with a NPC gladiator named Enoch being the brother of PC's dead wife, and Enoch being exceedingly weary (having been hag-ridden previously, subtly hinting that he's evil aligned) and driven by vengeance. I also included a lizardfolk shaman from rival tribe of the lizardfolk rogue PC who foreshadows Return of the Lizard King (which I'll be running a twist on later). I threw in the guide Qawasha for good measure, since PCs have no guides now (and made enemies of Jobal, the merchant prince of guides). A rival group of NPCs with an ostensibly good purpose yet secret motives which can cause things to go pear-shaped. I placed the "Zombie Killer Diamond" in a waterfall temple of Ubtao – thanks to rolls on Noblecrumpet's Jungle Environment blog – with a guardian eidolon (Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes) inhabiting dinosaur statues. Even though my party is just 5th level (with few magic weapons) and the eidolon is CR 12, they have support from Dragonbait & a Mage, plus whoever in the Emerald Enclave they can sway to their side. Plus objective is not to destroy the Eidolon but to get the Diamond. All of this hopefully goes down like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Oh, and swimming around the base of the waterfall? Giant frogs.

For treasure, I pick a shield +1 (giving it a bonus to shove), a magic seed which grows a banyan tree, and a homebrew Periapt of Blackness (+1 saves and immune disease, but if ever unattuning you are exposed to a random disease; a belonging of the night hag which was given to Enoch). Not to mention the Zombie Killer Diamond itself!

Day 7: Players rolled a Sanctuary (19 on Lost Monuments of Chult = watery obelisk of Moa the jaculi) / – / aldani. OK, here's where I'll incorporate that giant snapping turtle I removed from Day #5! Players who reach the statue and place a clear gem in its mouth (or who roll astronomically good on Perception check) discover a sanctuary cave with Druidic inscriptions – for the grung druid PC – which explain how Sanctuaries work in my campaign, offer some new wildshapes, and hint at the Dance of the Seven Winds ritual in Kir Sabaal. Because the players rolled 2 yuan-ti encounters the next day, I'll have one yuan-ti pureblood in snake form (borrowing an optional trait from Volo's Guide to Monsters) spying on the Moa obelisk & cave, just waiting to trigger a cave-in. If PCs get trapped within, they can find watery tunnels out which are inhabited by an aldani who can guide them out, warning of a the giant snapping turtle that lurks therein.

There's no treasure in the sanctuary.

Day 8: Players rolled yuan-ti / yuan-ti / –. For alternate encounters I rolled – / – / –. A tropical storm is going to hit in twilight hours before dawn, so I'll present PCs with option to hunker down & finish their long rest (but not get to scout surrounding area) OR suck it up and press onward (suffering exhaustion, but remaining alert). A party of yuan-ti – also headed for the Nsi Wastes, for reasons of their own hinting at Fenthaza's feud with Ras Nsi – will try to ambush them, either just outside of the sanctuary cave, or along the trail. However, because the PCs have a large enough party, the cowardly yuan-ti will just observe them on the trail...perhaps to meet again in the Nsi Wastes...

The yuan-ti malison has a geometric bronze gilded yuan-ti girdle worth 250 gp.

Day 9: Players rolled – / dead explorer & Artus Cimber / Special (03). For alternate encounters I rolled – / eblis / swarm of quippers. I don't like the Special option (howling baboons attracting monsters), so I opted to use "The Raptor's Roost" from Tomb of Annihilation Companion for the "Special" result, since it ties into my alternate roll of eblis, it provides a greedy monster the PCs might gain some treasure from (esp. oil of etherealness which may be critical for low-level PCs facing a night hag later on), and I just like the creepy feel of a village of giant hypnotic evil storks. So, another navigation choice: a flooded river bank (slower going, meet courteous eblis who are fishing quippers) or a cluttered tributary (faster but riskier, hints of goblin fight, optional route to Kir Sabaal). Both lead to a wrecked goblin encampment, dead gnome on a spit, and tracks hinting at Artus Cimber's recent presence. His tracks go toward "The Raptor's Roost", intent on taking revenge on the eblis who killed his adventurous acquaintances...

For the eblis lair, I went old school and rolled for Treasure Type U on the AD&D tables. After massaging a little, I ended up with 3 pearls (100 gp each), 12 coral agates (25gp each), silver necklace with moonstone (250 gp), six trinkets (which I'll roll for), 5 potions (frost giant strength, healing, growth, invulnerability, and oil of etherealness), a brass mosquito (from Karnivs Treasures of Chult), a wand of fear, and a ring of delusion!

I imagine Wamalāl, chief of the eblis (max. HP, suggestion 1/day, bonus action quaff potion), to be neurotically deluded that he is some kind of aristocracy bedecked in necklace, ring, awkwardly wielding a wand. He loves tricking creatures into being their own undoing. However, in a fight he may prove his own undoing, compulsively gargling down potions which mix in unpredictable ways.

Day 10: Players rolled no encounters. For alternate encounters I rolled – / undead, skeletons / pteranodons & Flaming Fist. Hmm. I don't want more NPCs to get involved here (they've just met Artus at this point), want to keep it quick & snappy but provide interesting choices. I envisioned a section of the river with steep walls. There's an east wall filled with skeletons from a mudslide that killed a Flaming Fist troop bound for Shilku, and a west wall of pteranodon nests. The PCs can stealth through here and avoid any encounters. If they take the east bank and try to take something temptingly valuable from mudslide, skeletons animate and attack in large numbers (at this point the PCs have a CR 5 Dragonbait, CR 6 Mage, and CR 7 Artus Cimber accompanying them, so I can be mean and throw LOTS of skeletons). If they take the west bank (or having a flying mount), and they try to steal pteranodon eggs, subdue a pterandon to train, or otherwise annoy them, the pteranodons will make some dive bombing attacks before flying away.

At this point, the PCs will be about 2 days from Kir Sabaal / 2 days from the Nsi Wastes. I'll ignore rolling for encounters and just describe their travel for those days. In the Nsi Wastes, I'll either be creating a small custom encounter table or, more likely, handle their 1-to-2-day journey across the wastes narratively & quickly get them to Ras Nsi's Old Palace.
 
Last edited:
My first crafting project in a while: a Temple of Ubtao where the Zombie Killer Diamond is safeguarded...for Sunday's game...

 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Listening to Critical Role and hearing them navigate through a reef, it made me think of the pirate cove in Chult with the simple single check to navigate the reef there. The way Matt handled it was great and this seems like a great opportunity for a skill challenge where multiple successes are needed to safely make it through.

For more info on Skill Challenges: https://critical-hits.com/blog/2016/08/16/skill-challenges-in-5th-edition-dd/

[video=youtube;GvOeqDpkBm8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvOeqDpkBm8[/video]
 

snaggle2th

Explorer
Hello Hive Mind: Looking for help with Azaka.

My party have selected her as their guide, and have just finished Firefinger, where she revealed herself as a weretiger. They have just leveled up to 3rd. I don't want her to just turn into a big meat shield, but I also don't want her to leave in a way that has the players saying "DM just didn't want us to have a weretiger". I decided she would tell them that she needs to be gone for a week around the full moon, for everyone's safety. The full moon comes in two weeks, so according to my calculations, they will just be leaving Kir Sabal with flight powers. Azaka will tell them that she can track them in tiger form, as long as they hit a certain landmark (maybe the Heart of Ubtao). So, to sum up, she will be away for about two weeks, but will probably be back around the time they hit Omu. At that point, she won't be quite so unbalancing, and could make a dramatic first death in the Tomb--to let them know sh*t is getting real.

What caught me off guard, and what I'm looking for help with, is that one of the players asked if she could be cured. I have established that she has family in Port Nyanzaru, who don't want her around much. So, I am left with the problem: why would she not have just had a local cleric cast Remove Curse on her? By rules as written, that would work unless she was born a weretiger, but I have already established she is not from a family of weretigers.

To be clear, I am fine with the PCs curing her, I just thinking it should be a little more interesting narratively than hitting a high enough level to cast a third level cleric spell. I would just like there to be some sort of a wrinkle. Here are my ideas so far:
- Don't just want it to be a matter of money--that just seems lame.
- Remove Curse could work, but would also require a component like belladonna or a silvered blade. Azaka can't know this already, or she would have arranged it herself.
- Remove Curse could work, but during the ritual, 'the beast' comes out. She accidentally killed a cleric, and hasn't wanted to try it since.
- Azaka was born a weretiger, but to normal parents, because her mother was cursed by an anonymous old crone (Nanny Pu'pu). The crone has to be found and slain before the curse can be lifted.

So far, I am leaning toward one of the last two options. Anyone have any other suggestions?
 
Hello Hive Mind: Looking for help with Azaka.
Certainly you have the right idea for making remove curse itself more interesting. Personally, I'd delve more into the culture. So Azaka is from a family of non-weretigers, but she just reacquired a family heirloom which is a tiger-like magic mask. That says something about her family! Maybe they revere the Cat Lord via its servants in Chult (weretigers) or maybe their daughter was made into a weretiger in some kind of ritual (her parents believing being a weretiger is a superior state, or a weretiger is destined to rule Chult, or some such).

Now tie that into the ToA page 14 blurb about weretigers:

Weretiger prides avoid outsiders, including adventurers, but a few evil weretigers enjoy making a sport of hunting intruders who come to plunder their land. Since weretigers can appear human, they readily pose as Chultan hunters, guides, rescuers, or explorers to lure in prey. These evil wcreligers usually worship Malar, the god of the hunt.
While ToA doesn't follow up on the whole evil weretigers bit very much, you certainly could. Maybe there's a "cult" of evil weretigers that would view Azaka (or any weretiger) attempting to undo the curse as betrayal. Maybe they've indirectly threatened to kill her family if she ever tried, or maybe the threat is just implicit in the cult her parents belong to.

So in addition to whatever requirements you come up with for the remove curse ritual, the "cult" of evil weretigers would have to be dealt with. You could make it an ongoing quest leading up to a showdown in Omu. You could make it a side quest adapting Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. You could work the origins of the weretiger-ism curse to one of the hags.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
One suggestion is perhaps start a separate thread? It seems the Curse of were creatures could interest many more posters than those also interested in this module?

(Just be sure to add spoiler warnings where appropriate)
 

Eltab

Villager
Here are my ideas so far:
- Don't just want it to be a matter of money--that just seems lame.
- Remove Curse could work, but would also require a component like belladonna or a silvered blade. Azaka can't know this already, or she would have arranged it herself.
- Remove Curse could work, but during the ritual, 'the beast' comes out. She accidentally killed a cleric, and hasn't wanted to try it since.
- Azaka was born a weretiger, but to normal parents, because her mother was cursed by an anonymous old crone (Nanny Pu'pu). The crone has to be found and slain before the curse can be lifted.

So far, I am leaning toward one of the last two options. Anyone have any other suggestions?
To lift the curse ... Azaka wants nothing to do with this project, because {Option 3} happened, more than once, and she is resigned to her condition. She won't put any more decency-intending blood on her claws.
The PCs must do research without Azaka around. They discover they have to kill Nanny Pu'pu with a silver blade, then the 'were-spirit within Azuka' will be weakened enough that they can kill IT with the same silver blade.

Come to think of it, maybe the PCs have to find the Nine Trickster Gods and talk to their spirits about this. One of the PCs must be inhabited by a Trickster Gods' spirit and participate in the ritual to be able to control Azuka's were-tiger spirit and draw it forth without it being unleashed to commit bloodshed. (Of course Azuka has no way to know this part beforehand !)
 
I will most likely have PCs ready to head south to tackle the undead menace following rise of tiamat.
Do you think the adventures could be scaled up to challenge 16th level PCs?

Sometimes you cant just make monsters tougher - especially when it is about bypassing traps etc..
 

Advertisement

Top