D&D 5E The Bespoke Adventure (an experiment)

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Hi all! A while back I experimented with designing a "fractal adventure", a sort of Mad Libs-style adventure template which I filled in with the features and traits of a group of adventurers. It was neat! Well, I'm back at it again, and this time my goal is to present it in an actually readable way.

This whole premise is built on the idea of "shoot your monks." That is, because monks can deflect missiles, and that's cool, you should have enemies shoot them. I'm combining this with the idea to "charm your fighters," in that I believe players do actually want you to target their characters' weaknesses, as long as it's in a way that makes sense in the adventure and world. It's fun to be cool, but it's also fun to overcome challenges.

With that in mind, I've created a big template for an adventure (very, very loosely) based on the Sunless Citadel. There's a town, and a nearby dungeon, and wilderness in between. There are rival organizations and an impending threat from the dungeon. There are helpful NPC's and secretly bad guy NPCs.

But instead of coming up with all that stuff now, I instead pull species, classes, themes, resistances, vulnerabilities, etc etc etc from the characters themselves.

Now I'm not currently running a campaign, so I've created four adventurers I'd expect to see in a typical group: a warrior, a sneak, a healer, and an arcanist. I'm going to be using them to create my adventure. Let's say this is the first adventure (after a Session 0), and so these are just basic 1st-level Characters. Who do we have here?

The Characters

I created each character on Dndbeyond, and also on Hero Forge. I rolled random Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws. I created a spreadsheet to keep track of their various features and traits.

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Armond DeMontan
Mountain Dwarf Soldier / Ranger

Armond DeMontan served as a soldier in a unit of dwarves sent into the underdark to hunt undead. He is a total military dude, believing the law to be the only thing keeping this world from succumbing to chaos (and undeath). His unit disbanded when their commander was eaten by a ghoul, and now he's looking to take his skills out into the greater world.

Features and Traits:
NameIdentityIdealBondFlawProficienciesLanguagesSaving ThrowsFeatures & Traits
Armond DeMontanMountain DwarfGreater Good. Our lot is to lay down our lives in defense of others. (Good)Those who fight beside me are those worth dying for.I obey the law, even if the law causes misery.Brewer's SuppliesDwarvishStrengthFavored Enemy: Undead
SoldierDice SetUndercommonDexterityNatural Explorer: Underdark
RangerLand VehiclesDarkvision
AthleticsDwarven Resilience (Poison)
IntimidationStonecunning
PerceptionMilitary Rank (command people)
Stealth
Survival

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Bella Gull
Half-Elf Sailor / Rogue

Bella grew up on dwarven merchant ships, and though she is a skilled sailor she's always found ways to get others to do the dirty work. Bella much prefers collecting and telling great stories. When her last merchant ship cheated her out of a large payment, she swore to earn her own fortune through adventure and, perhaps, a bit of chicanery!

Features and Traits:
NameIdentityIdealBondFlawProficienciesLanguagesSaving ThrowsFeatures & Traits
Bella GullHalf-ElfPeople. I’m committed to my crewmates, not to ideals. (Neutral)I was cheated out of my fair share of the profits, and I want to get my due.I’ll say anything to avoid having to do extra work.Navigator's ToolsDwarvishDexterityExpertise (Performance)
SailorThieve's ToolsElvishIntelligenceExpertise (Persuasion)
RogueWater VehiclesThieve's CantSneak Attack
AcrobaticsDarkvision
AthleticsFey Ancestry (vs Charm, Sleep)
HistoryShip's Passage (free passage)
Insight
Perception
Performance
Persuasion
Stealth

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Corva Cloudsong
Aasimar Far Traveler / Tempest Cleric

Corva was raised in distant mountains so tall they reach the celestial realms. She was trained in divine battle by cloud giants, but became disenchanted with her strict, isolated, xenophobic community. One day she decided to wander, and though she sometimes finds it a challenge to fit in amongst those who cannot speak the language of storms, she is learning so much from this world below.

Features and Traits:
NameIdentityIdealBondFlawProficienciesLanguagesSaving ThrowsFeatures & TraitsCantrips1st Level Spells
Corva CloudsongAasimarOpen. I have much to learn from the kindly folk I meet along my way. (Good)I’m fascinated by the beauty and wonder of this new land.I don’t take kindly to some of the actions and motivations of the people of this land, because these folk are different from me.LonghornCelestialWisdomCantripsGuidanceBless
Far TravelerInsightGiantCharisma1st Level SpellsLightFog Cloud
ClericMedicineWrath of the Storm (thunder damage nearby attacker)ThaumaturgyGuiding Bolt
PerceptionHealing HandsWord of RadianceHealing Word
ReligionDarkvisionShield of Faith
Celestial Resistance (necrotic and radiant)Thunderwave
All Eyes on You (gain attention from people)

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Durv Dabbler
Goblin Criminal / Artificer

Durv was recruited at a young age into a criminal organization, where his boss recognized his intelligence and interest in... interesting culinary arts. Durv dabbled in a little of everything, from simple pick-pocketing to forging documents to tinkering with devices. But one of his experiments went wrong, and the explosion killed a few members of the gang, along with Durv's best friend. Rather than face his consequences, he turned tail and ran! He's still running, though learning a lot more about cooking, tinkering, and alchemy along the way.

Features and Traits:
NameIdentityIdealBondFlawProficienciesLanguagesSaving ThrowsFeatures & TraitsCantrips1st Level Spells
Durv DabblerGoblinPeople. I’m loyal to my friends, not to any ideals, and everyone else can take a trip down the Styx for all I care. (Neutral)Someone I loved died because of a mistake I made. That will never happen again.I turn tail and run when things look bad.Cook's UtensilsGoblinConstitutionCantripsAcid SplashCatapult
CriminalDragonchess SetIntelligence1st Level SpellsMage HandDisguise Self
ArtificerForgery KitMagical Tinkering
Thieve's ToolsDarkvision
Tinker's ToolsFury of the Small (bonus dmg vs medium +)
Nimble Escape (disengage or hide as bonus action)
Criminal Contact (reliable & trustworthy contact)

Next...

Next I will be taking all these features and traits and applying them randomly to all the blanks in my adventure template! We will start by creating The Town in which our adventure begins!
 

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BookTenTiger

He / Him
The Town

For each part of this adventure, I created brief descriptions with blanks left in. I then randomly rolled for which character would fill in each blank, and when there were multiple options left over (such as multiple proficiencies to choose from), I rolled randomly for that too.

I'm starting with a brief description of the town and two rival organizations. In a later installment, I'll be generating specific NPC's. Again, everything is bespoke, so I'm pulling from the features and traits of the characters.

If you just want to see the starting town I generated (including a quick map I made on Inkarnate), scroll down now. I'll post in Spoiler boxes all the little steps I took along the way...

Step 1: The Template
I wrote up a template to use for the Town, the Main Organization, and the Rival Organization. I made note of which feature I was going to pull from a random character.

Description & Theme
We begin in a community of people (identity and identity) known for their skill (proficiency) but lacking in a certain capability (ability).

Major Organization
The community is run by an organization of people (identity) who share a belief (ideal) and have renown in a certain skill (proficiency). The organization wishes to overcome a challenge (flaw). This organization is being harmed by the denizens of a nearby dungeon.

Rival Organization
The major organization is rivaled by an organization of people (identity) who share a weakness (flaw), and who are experts at a skill (proficiency). This organization is secretly working with the denizens of a nearby dungeon in order to achieve a goal (bond).

Step 2: Rolling for Features
I rolled randomly to determine the order in which to pull features and traits from each character. Then I rolled randomly to determine which of the features or traits to plug in. Here's what I got:

Description & Theme
We begin in a community of people (Durv Dabbler: criminals and Corva Cloudsong: far travelers) known for their skill (Bella Gull: water vehicles) but lacking in a certain capability (Armond DeMontan: favored enemy: undead).

Major Organization
This community is run by an organization of people (Durv Dabbler: artificers) who share a belief (Bella Gull: People. I’m committed to my crew mates, not to ideals) and have renown in a certain skill (Armond DeMontant: perception). The organization wishes to overcome a challenge (Corva Cloudsong: I don’t take kindly to the actions and motivations of the people of this land, because these folks are different than me). This organization is being harmed by the denizens of a nearby dungeon.

Rival Organization
The major organization is rivaled by an organization of people (Bella Gull: rogues) who share a weakness (Armond DuMontan: I obey the law, even if the law causes misery), and who are experts at a skill (Durv Dabbler: cook’s utensils). This organization is secretly working with the denizens of a nearby dungeon in order to achieve a goal (Corva Cloudsong: I’m fascinated by the beauty and wonder of this new land).

Step 3: Interpreting the Results
Finally, I wrote it all up as a description of the town. Here's the description, as well as a basic map!

Kraken's Folly
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We begin on an island, just off the coast of the mainland, renown for its beauty and magic. A dormant volcano rises from a lush green jungle; the shallow reefs surrounding the island are all shades of blue, turquoise, and jade. A shaggy little town works its way from the crater carved into the side of the volcano, down zig-zag ridges through the jungle and to the sea, where a crazy network of wooden walkways, piers, and docs greets ships from all over the ocean. The town is called different names in different languages, but most agree to call it Kraken’s Folly. It does look a bit like a crazed squid, with the volcano as its body and the dozens of piers as its tentacles.

Kraken’s Folly is a lawless town, home to sailors, pirates, smugglers, and travelers from lands spanning the globe. Most stop here on their way to the nearest mainland port, a large city-state called Brightstar. For all its known history, Brightstar has beheld Kraken’s Folly as both a nuisance and an object of great desire. The island harbors not just criminals, but also a source of powerful magic; a great phoenix said to be slumbering deep inside the dormant volcano the locals call Phoenix Spire.

A cabal of artificers, the Scarlet Seers, has long laid claim to this island. They use the magical heat generated by the slumbering phoenix to power their experimentations with alchemies and constructs. To protect Kraken’s Folly from Brightstar, the Scarlet Seers built a series of magical lighthouses shaped like proud phoenixes. They cast a red beam over the uneasy waters of the ocean, searching out for enemies. It is said these lighthouses can even see onto the mainland, into the most secret chambers of the Brightstar Council, and spy upon their politics and plans!

Unfortunately, there is a downside to living above a sleeping phoenix. The dormant magic has infused the jungle, and anything that dies there rises as an ash zombie. Some wonder if this infestation of undead is a curse spawned by the experimentations of the Scarlet Seers. Others think they are manifestations of the great phoenix’s nightmares. Whatever the cause, the ash zombies are a constant scourge to the people of Kraken’s Folly.

There is another threat to the island. A group of partisan saboteurs has infiltrated the community. Working for Brightstar, the gang known as the Phantoms is attempting to dismantle the lighthouses and prepare Kraken’s Folly for invasion. They have taken over the Guild of Oils and Salts, an organization of merchants who run stalls selling food from all over the world. But when the night’s revelers finally retreat, the stalls close, and the Phantoms meets to share what information they have learned and to revise their plans. Any day now they will strike. Brightstar’s most powerful warships await their signal.

Reflection

Man, this was fun. It reminds me of running the game Ironlands. I loved how it all came together: an outlaw island town, the undead, the alchemist's keeping an eye on things... I think this would be a really fun starting location for these characters! Already they'd have a lot to do. I could see Armond DeMontan being upset at all these outlaws, but still wanting to protect them from the undead. Bella Gull would feel right at home amongst all these sailors. Corva Cloudsong would be very interested in such a unique location. And Durv Dabbler would be intrigued by both the Scarlet Seers as alchemists, and the Guild of Oils and Salts (he might even stumble upon their secret... or be recruited into their gang!).

I can't wait to find out more about Kraken's Folly. After I generate more information on the Wilderness and Dungeon, I'll be returning here to come up with NPC's and important locations.

Next Steps

Next we are going to generate another overview, this time of the Wilderness surrounding Kraken's Folly!
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
The Wilderness

Before I get into specifics about the town or dungeon, I'm setting up general descriptions. This will help me tie together NPC's, settings, and interesting features of the dungeon later under united themes.

After coming up with a general description for the town, I moved onto the Wilderness. This was a short one, but if you want to skip ahead to the good stuff just scroll down to Step 3.

Step 1: The Template
I wanted to make sure there were interesting Exploration opportunities as the characters traverse the area between the town and the dungeon, so I set up this template:

Description and Theme
In between the town and the dungeon lies the wilderness. It used to be inhabited by an ancient peoples (language) renown for their skill (proficiency) and who shared a belief (ideal), but fell to a flaw (flaw).

Step 2: Rolling for Features
As I'm rolling this up, I'm noticing certain features repeating, giving me some fun themes to work with. We've now got a lot of repetition of community / loyalty vs isolation, and a lot of sailing and navigation. Good stuff!

Description and Theme
In between the town and the dungeon lies the wilderness. It used to be inhabited by an ancient peoples (Armond DeMontan: Dwarven) renown for their skill (Bella Gull: Navigator’s Tools) and who shared a belief (Durv Dabbler: People. I’m loyal to my friends, not to any ideals, and everyone else can take a trip down the Styx for all I care.), but fell to a flaw (Corva Cloudsong: I don’t take kindly to some of the actions and motivations of the people of this land, because these folk are different from me.).

Step 3: Interpreting the Results
This was a pretty easy one! We've got Navigating Dwarves who are loyal to each other but don't like an outside community that already lives here. I felt like this practically wrote itself!

The Ruins of Clan Ordram
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Surrounding Kraken’s Folly are a series of islands once inhabited by Clan Ordram, a seafaring empire of dwarves. They had been master mapmakers and navigators, understanding deeply the movements of the currents and the winds. In fact, they would build island settlements in the arrangements of constellations, so that each clan member knew where they were, and where the next Ordram island community could be found. It is said that a Clan Ordram dwarf could find a home and a hearth anywhere across the many seas of the world.

However, Clan Ordram was also highly isolationist. They rarely allowed outsiders into their island holds, and even limited trade with other peoples. This policy brought them to war with the empire that would one day become Brightstar. Clan Ordrum lost, and now all that remains of their island homes are scattered ruins. It is said that in the years that followed the war, the city-state of Brightstar was built with pillaged Ordram stones.

Reflection

I like it! As I posted above, I'm enjoying seeing certain features and traits repeat. It's creating some nice themes for the characters to explore. And again, it's playing into the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. Armond is going to be interested because these are the ruins of dwarves. Bella will want to learn of their navigational arts. Corva will probably start to really dislike Brightstar. And Durv will relate to Clan Ordram's loyalty to their own people.

Next Steps...

Next I'll be creating a general description for the dungeon. Then we will start to delve down into the dungeon itself!
 
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BookTenTiger

He / Him
The Dungeon

Okay, now the fun begins. As I mentioned in the OP, my model for this adventure is The Sunless Citadel. In it, the characters travel from the small town of Oakhurst to the titular sunken citadel, and go through a few different areas in their path to defeating the Gulthias tree and its thralls.

I've divided the dungeon into a few different zones, which will get filled in later. For now, let's generate the overall description and theme of the dungeon. We are also going to come up with the Big Bad, their Minion, and the Goons the characters will commonly be fighting.

Step 1: The Template
Description and Theme
The dungeon was once occupied by people (identity) who were masters of an ability (ability). They shared a belief (ideal), but fell due to a flaw (flaw).

There are three major threats to be found throughout the dungeon.

The Big Bad
The Big Bad, to be encountered in the lair and antechamber, is a threat of great ability (ability). It is resistant to certain abilities (ability) and vulnerable to other abilities (ability). It will attempt to take advantage of a character’s flaw (flaw). The Big Bad has been orchestrating harm against the major organization of the town through use of its subordinate threats, the Goon and the Minion. Its goal is antithetical to the ideal of the major organization.

The Goon
The Goon, to be encountered in the Atrium, Maze, and Lair, is a threat of great ability (ability). It is resistant to some abilities (ability) and vulnerable to some abilities (ability). Its defeat is connected to a character’s bond (bond).

The Minion
The Minion, to be encountered in the Descent, Atrium, and Maze, is a threat of great ability (ability). It is resistant to some abilities (ability) and vulnerable to some abilities (ability). Its behavior or goals are antithetical to a character’s ideal (ideal). The Minion has been working with the rival organization in town.

Step 2: Rolling for Features
Description and Theme
The dungeon was once occupied by people (Durv: Artificers) who were masters of an ability (Corva: Darkvision). They shared a belief (Bella: People. I’m committed to my crewmates, not to ideals.), but fell due to a flaw (Armond: I obey the law, even if the law causes misery.).

There are three major threats to be found throughout the dungeon.

The Big Bad
The Big Bad, to be encountered in the lair and antechamber, is a threat of great ability (Durv: Aid Splash). It is resistant to certain abilities (Corva: Thaumaturgy) and vulnerable to other abilities (Favored Enemy: undead). It will attempt to take advantage of a character’s flaw (Bella: I’ll say anything to avoid having to do extra work.). The Big Bad has been orchestrating harm against the major organization of the town through use of its subordinate threats, the Goon and the Minion. Its goal is antithetical to the ideal of the major organization.

The Goon
The Goon, to be encountered in the Atrium, Maze, and Lair, is a threat of great ability (Armond: Dwarven Resilience). It is resistant to some abilities (Corva: Darkvision) and vulnerable to some abilities (Bella: Sneak Attack). Its defeat is connected to a character’s bond (Durv: Someone I loved died because of a mistake I made. That will never happen again.).

The Minion
The Minion, to be encountered in the Descent, Atrium, and Maze, is a threat of great ability (Bella: Fey Ancestry). It is resistant to some abilities (Durv: Nimble Escape) and vulnerable to some abilities (Corva: Celestial Resistance). Its behavior or goals are antithetical to a character’s ideal (Armond: Greater Good. Our lot is to lay down our lives in defense of others.). The Minion has been working with the rival organization in town.

Some really interesting things happened here when I randomly pulled features from the list of character traits. First off, we have a dungeon once occupied by artificers who are loyal to their own people, which definitely echoes Kraken's Folly. Secondly, the abilities, resistances, and vulnerabilities of the enemies were a pretty wild mix. I had to get a little creative with my choices, as you will see below...

Step 3: Interpreting the Results
I had some fun with this one!

Description and Theme
Long ago, Olora Alaras, a Scarlet Seer engineer, built a submersible ship meant to explore submerged portions of the Underdark. She called the ship The Cormorant. On one of its many expeditions, it ran into a fleet of Brightstar warships. They demanded that Olora give up the Cormorant and her crew to the custody of the city-state. However, the Scarlet Seers have long held the edict that their creations should never fall into the hands of Brightstar or any other empire. Olora held off the warships long enough for her crew to escape, then dove deep, scuttling the Cormorant on the floor of the bay. There the ship remains to this day.

In order to access the Cormorant, the characters will most likely have to borrow a Divebug, one of the small escape vessels that came from the Cormorant. The Scarlet Seers still have a number, though others have been stolen by pirates, lost at sea, or torn apart for scraps.

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The Big Bad
A new threat has discovered the Cormorant, and is attempting to use it to take over Kraken’s Folly and harness the power of the slumbering phoenix. Sibyllus, a drider necromancer, has taken over the ship and is using its small submersible crafts called Divebugs to send agents to Kraken’s Folly. She hopes to drive the people from the island, and then arrive aboard the awakened Cormorant, ready to command the ash zombies of Phoenix Spire.

As a necromancer, Sibyllus has high saving throws versus magic, and prefers ranged acid and poison spells. She is always surrounded by a coterie of raised zombies and ghouls. When facing the characters, she will attempt to ply them with promises of great power, such as command of the Cormorant when she is done taking over Kraken’s Folly.

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Sibyllus, Drider Necromancer

The Goon
Working for Sibyllus is an Allip called Howler. In truth, this is the spirit of Olora Alaras, the engineer who created the Cormorant. Her tortured soul was raised into the form of an Allip by Sibyllus. If Howler were to remember her original identity, and stay sane enough to forgive herself for sinking the Cormorant, she might be defeated without resorting to combat.

Howler commands both the undead raised by Sibyllus, as well as her crew of pirates. She is greatly feared by her minions.

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Howler, Allip Commander

The Minion
Sybillus has recruited a gang of drow pirates called the Sea Spiders. They prefer to use nets, whips, or grasping hand spells to entrap their foes, dragging them back to their necromancer mistress to be turned to zombies, shadows, and ghouls! The Sea Spiders prefer to work in total darkness; their sensitive night vision is easily blinded by radiant magic or daylight.

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Sea Spiders, Drow Pirates

Reflection

Hey, this turned out great! I feel like everything came together under two big themes: darkness, and loss of identity.

I feel like these enemies play into the characters' strengths, as well as being resistant to some of their tactics. Plus, Armond is going to have a great time with all the undead hanging around!

Next Steps

We are going to take a jaunt back to town to develop some more NPC's, so that we can get some more adventure hooks for our upcoming dungeon...
 
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BookTenTiger

He / Him
Returning to Town

Before we start figuring out what's in the dungeon, we are going to return to the town and figure out some NPC's and important locations. This way, we can generate some side quests and goals in the dungeon itself.

I broke the town into a number of parts: NPC's of the Organizations, Central Hub, Shop or Training Grounds, and Disrepaired Location.

Step 1: The Templates
NPC’s of the Organizations

The Major Organization is represented by two important NPC’s. The first NPC is someone (language) of great expertise (ability) and knowledge (proficiency), who works towards a goal (ideal). They work to aid their community against a corrupting influence (flaw). The second NPC is someone (identity) of great expertise (proficiency) who is motivated by a bond (bond).

The Rival Organization is represented by someone (identity) of great expertise (ability) and knowledge (proficiency) who is driven by a flaw (flaw).

Central Hub

In town is a central hub where folks of ability (ability) gather. Here, the characters can access supplies (proficiency) and training (ability). However, the folks here lack a desired skill (proficiency), due to a shared flaw (flaw). In the central hub, the characters will find an NPC who is someone (identity) with an expertise (ability) who is motivated by a bond (bond).

Shop or Training Grounds

Another important location is a place where the characters can access supplies (proficiency) or training (ability). Here they will meet an NPC who is someone (language) who is driven by a flaw (flaw).

Disrepaired Location

Also in town is a location once used by people (proficiency) that was once a haven for those who shared an ideal (ideal), but is in great disrepair due to unfortunate circumstances (flaw). Repairing the location requires a certain skill (proficiency) or ability (ability). The characters will meet an NPC who is someone (identity) with expertise (ability). They will give the characters a reward (ability) if the location is brought back to its former glory.

Step 2: Rolling for Features
NPC’s of the Organizations

The Major Organization is represented by two important NPC’s. The first NPC is someone (Durv Goblin) of great expertise (Armond Stonecunning) and knowledge (Bella Persuasion), who works towards a goal (Corva Open. I have much to learn from the kindly folk I meet along my way.). They work to aid their community against a corrupting influence (Corva I don’t take kindly to some of the actions and motivations of the people of this land, because these folk are different from me.). The second NPC is someone (Bella Sailor) of great expertise (Durv Dragonchess) who is motivated by a bond (Armond Those who fight beside me are those worth dying for.).

The Rival Organization is represented by someone (Armond soldier) of great expertise (Durv 1st Level Spell: Catapult) and knowledge (Bella Acrobatics) who is driven by a flaw (Corva I don’t take kindly to some of the actions and motivations of the people of this land, because these folk are different from me.).

Central Hub

In town is a central hub where folks of ability (Armond Stonecunning) gather. Here, the characters can access supplies (Corva Perception) and training (Bella Ship’s Passage). However, the folks here lack a desired skill (Durv Thieve’s Tools), due to a shared flaw (Bella I’ll say anything to avoid having to do extra work.). In the central hub, the characters will find an NPC who is someone (Armond Ranger) with an expertise (Corva Celestial Resistance) who is motivated by a bond (Durv Someone I loved died because of a mistake I made. That will never happen again.).

Shop or Training Grounds

Another important location is a place where the characters can access supplies (Armond survival) or training (Corva All Eyes on You). Here they will meet an NPC who is someone (Durv Goblin) who is driven by a flaw (Bella I’ll say anything to avoid having to do extra work.).

Disrepaired Location

Also in town is a location once used by people (Corva insight) that was once a haven for those who shared an ideal (Bella People. I’m committed to my crewmates, not to ideals. (Neutral)), but is in great disrepair due to unfortunate circumstances (Armond I obey the law, even if the law causes misery.). Repairing the location requires a certain skill (Durv Cook’s Utensils) or ability (Durv Magical Tinkering). The characters will meet an NPC who is someone (Corva cleric) with expertise (Bella Sneak Attack). They will give the characters a reward (Armond Natural Explorer: underdark) if the location is brought back to its former glory.

Step 3: Interpreting the Results

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NPC’s of the Organizations

The Scarlet Seers are represented by two major NPC’s. The first NPC is Rigga Bridger, a goblin artificer and architect who uses her magic to build stone bridges connecting the different neighborhoods of Kraken’s Folly. She is a calm presence who is often summoned to solve trade disputes. Her great fear is that Brightstar will use the cultural divides in Kraken’s Folly to turn neighbors against each other and conquer the island.

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The second important NPC is Norrin Alaras, a gnome artificer and sailor who is passionate for Dragonchess. He has a Dragonchess set with pieces themed after the forces of Brightstar and Kraken’s Folly, and uses the game to plan out battle strategies. Norrin is extremely passionate about protecting his island from the colonizers of Brightstar.

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The Phantoms are represented by Commander Van Holst, a former Brightstar soldier and arcane archer who uses his magic to launch found objects from his bow (as with the spell Catapult). He is a skilled athlete, preferring to climb buildings or sneak around alleyways to gain the upper hand. Like many in the Brightstar government, he believes in a single, dominant culture, and is disgusted by the melting pot of Kraken’s Folly.

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Central Hub

Many people in Kraken’s Folly gather at the Obsidian Plaza, a harbor market beneath the Obsidian Cliffs. The Glass Stallion Trading Company operates a mine, delving into Clan Ordram ruins within the cliffs to retrieve gems and other treasures. The company also operates an inn (The Glass Stallion Tavern), a busy market square, and other common harbor businesses. Many mercenaries gather at Obsidian Plaza to offer their services as guards, scouts, and swords-for-hire. Ships docked here hire sailors and navigators. And the Glass Stallion Trading Company is always seeking experts to help with the traps left by the dwarves of Clan Ordram. During their downtime, characters would have any easy time finding employment in Obsidian Plaza.

One of the more influential mercenary companies, called the Storm Scouts, is run by an Aasimar ranger named Zharetta. She has with her two familiars, a celestial hawk named Day and a fiendish owl named Night, whose magic protect her from radiant and necrotic magics. Originally Night belonged to her lover, a tiefling ranger, who was killed by ash zombies while guarding travelers.

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Shop or Training Grounds
Another important location is the Ashen Explorer’s Lodge at the edge of the Ashen Jungle. Adventurers gather at the lodge to purchase survival equipment before plunging into the Ashen Jungle, where they will face dangerous wildlife, thick vegetation, and the ever-present ash zombies summoned by the arcane volcano. Explorers from all over the world come to the lodge, drawn by the mysterious jungle and its treasures. Every night the explorers gather at the roaring fireplace and trade stories about their past travels.

At the Ashen Explorer’s Lodge, the characters will meet Slug, a goblin ex-adventurer who now charges exorbitant fees for information on the Ashen Jungle. It is said that Slug at one point was a fearless explorer, but some tragedy scared him into spending his life drinking and lazing about in the Lodge. For an extra fee, he will beat a drum to help you find your way back to the Ashen Explorer’s Lodge.

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Disrepaired Location

Also in town is a former temple once used by the priests of Volkhaven, a god of justice and community. The priests of Volkhaven learned of Brightstar’s plans to take over Kraken’s Folly, and thought it a worthy cause to fight. Even though they numbered only a few dozen, the priests sent a messenger to the Great Council of Brightstar to indict the city-state. The messenger never returned, and Brightstar sent the Phantoms to destroy the temple.

Many priests were killed, and those who survived fled into other neighborhoods of Kraken’s Folly. The only remaining priest is Chanter, a kenku who had lived as a thief until joining the temple of Volkhaven. He will tell the characters that what the temple needs most is a sense of hope and community. If the characters gather the priests for a healing ceremony, such as a big meal or a show of wonders, they will be rewarded with a Driftglobe.

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Voidrunner's Codex

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