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5E Troubleshooting slow narrative? (ToA, spoilers)

Quickleaf

Legend
One of my players gave me valuable critique recently: After only 10 sessions he is feeling burned out on our Tomb of Annihilation game because the rate of narrative development is too slow. Specifically, he mentioned the group has only been getting vague clues and still lacks a plan of attack/strategy for the BIG problem (how to stop the Death Curse). Now, he *is* an especially mission-driven player, but in reflection I agree with him: there hasn’t been enough big revelation, there have been too many zombies and not enough meaningful clues...

I started the 3rd level PCs (now 4th, about to hit 5th) with a talking amnesiac “lich’s skull” which mentioned being killed by adventurers, but instead of going to his phylactery as he should have, he ended up in a pillar of blue light with a hag cackling about “the Soulmonger” and demanding the lich make a deal for his freedom...then his consciousness zoomed over a jungle full of dinosaurs to his skull (which the PCs has found “off camera” as part of their adventuring party backstory).

They know “the Devourer” (first of the necromancers) is likely behind the Death Curse.

Just recently they’ve learned that the Death Curse likely originated in Omu, but have yet to discover where Omu is.

They’re currently in Mezro, having followed the trail of the Company of the Yellow Banner (who I’ve reinterpreted as being hired by Syndra Silvane). I’ve adapted material from DMs Guild product Ruins of Mezro to flesh out Mezro.

Next session I want them to get a better sense of direction, more clarity in their mission. What is a good way of going about doing that?

I’ve been contemplating introducing a solo Dragonbait as a survivor of a world ravaged by “the Devourer”, having witnessed soul engines used to make currency out of the captive life force of his fellow saurials. But I’m not sure that’s enough of a reveal to give them a stronger direction, and further it would require ignoring Dragonbait’s muteness (which seems a cornerstone of his character). Maybe I can make him cursed by one of the Sewn sisters with muteness which PCs can break in a couple ways?
 
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That's an issue with open world adventures. If' I ever run ToA I will probably skip the opening chapters and go straight to the meat, without the hexploration. I don't think it's a sin to lead the players by the nose and drop a map to Omu in thier path if they aren't enjoying the wandering.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
If they want to get to the meat of the story, why not oblige them? Simply handwave it and bump the PCs the requisite number of levels and they can head to Omu.

I really didn't like ToA as a campaign; indeed in the original ToA thread I think I suggested removing the Yuan-ti from Omu.
 

The problem is, the (apparent) urgency of the Death Curse hook conflicts with the theme of exploring a new continent. So, if you want to do an open world exploration it's better to drop the Death Curse (or have it start much later); or, if you want to focus on the Death Curse, skip ahead to near the end.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Are there available external information sources the players can utilize? A temple with a cleric high enough to cast Commune, a Wizard with Contact Other Plane, a friendly organization that knows more, a location reputed to reveal existential secrets, a sage who has the time to answer questions for a fee, or survivors of a previous expedition into the area?

If there are, ask the next complainer why they aren't pursuing answers if they really want them. If there aren't, add some.
 

Yeah, I found as I ran it that there weren’t enough clues, and the sandbox feel meant it was easy to miss the ones that were there. I started planting clues: an adventurers diary with notes about the clues from Port N my party missed, an NPC cleric who had been having visions about the great danger, etc. I also started taking jungle travel in 5 day chunks, narrating/hand waving a lot of the encounters. They are in Omu now and it’s going faster.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
That's an issue with open world adventures. If' I ever run ToA I will probably skip the opening chapters and go straight to the meat, without the hexploration. I don't think it's a sin to lead the players by the nose and drop a map to Omu in thier path if they aren't enjoying the wandering.
If they want to get to the meat of the story, why not oblige them? Simply handwave it and bump the PCs the requisite number of levels and they can head to Omu.
Hand-waving / rail-roaring is certainly a possible measure of last resort. Don’t think I’m quite in that desperate of a situation yet. There are other players in the group who would likely react negatively to such a last resort move also.

The problem is, the (apparent) urgency of the Death Curse hook conflicts with the theme of exploring a new continent. So, if you want to do an open world exploration it's better to drop the Death Curse (or have it start much later); or, if you want to focus on the Death Curse, skip ahead to near the end.
What I’ve done is shoot for the “middle path.” My version of Death Curse works slower (-1 max HD per 2 weeks) and involves a timeline of increasing badness/complications over the course of 11 months. So while it’s definitely the big campaign driver, there isn’t an overwhelming urgency discouraging exploration.

Are there available external information sources the players can utilize? A temple with a cleric high enough to cast Commune, a Wizard with Contact Other Plane, a friendly organization that knows more, a location reputed to reveal existential secrets, a sage who has the time to answer questions for a fee, or survivors of a previous expedition into the area?

If there are, ask the next complainer why they aren't pursuing answers if they really want them. If there aren't, add some.
Yes. While they left Port Nyanzaru quickly (where there were readily available sources of external info), there’s been lots of information and lore they’ve uncovered. Syndra Silvane. The lich’s Skull. Their guides. An elven ruin. Mezro’s Library & Wizards College. The clues have been of the “small/vague kind” however. It seems like there is a design flaw in ToA with *how* the clues were constructed...they seem to lack depth... It is hard to put my finger exactly on the problem.

Yeah, I found as I ran it that there weren’t enough clues, and the sandbox feel meant it was easy to miss the ones that were there. I started planting clues: an adventurers diary with notes about the clues from Port N my party missed, an NPC cleric who had been having visions about the great danger, etc. I also started taking jungle travel in 5 day chunks, narrating/hand waving a lot of the encounters. They are in Omu now and it’s going faster.
Yes, that’s exactly what aim noticing as well. The clues are spread too thin, are easy to miss, and lack the depth to make them very clear to players. Moving some of the clues that can be found in Port Nyanzaru to other jungle encounters might work; thanks for the idea!

I’ve already been massaging the random encounters to create a better sense of narrative, both compressing encounters into “eventful days” (whereas uneventful days are given travel montage treatment) & incorporating clues of my own.

Main issue seems to be that hardly anyone (only 3 NPCs) know what is causing the Death Curse or how it might be stopped. PCs breezed out of Port Nyanzaru before I could introduce Grandfather Zitembe. They haven no idea about the Heart of Ubtao, and haven’t yet encountered any NPCs who would know about Valindra Shadowmantle. And they haven’t yet learned about Saja N’baza in Orolunga, so I’m creating a clue in Artus Cimber’s Home in ruins of Mezro pointing to Saja N’baza.

The clues about the Death Curse - it’s cause/origin and how it might be stopped - seem “all or nothing.” There’s no steps to discovery. You either talk to the right NPC or you don’t. Wish I’d recognized that earlier on!
 

Nagol

Unimportant
<snip>


Yes. While they left Port Nyanzaru quickly (where there were readily available sources of external info), there’s been lots of information and lore they’ve uncovered. Syndra Silvane. The lich’s Skull. Their guides. An elven ruin. Mezro’s Library & Wizards College. The clues have been of the “small/vague kind” however. It seems like there is a design flaw in ToA with *how* the clues were constructed...they seem to lack depth... It is hard to put my finger exactly on the problem.
I haven't seen the adventure, but a common failing both in published work and homegrown games I've seen is there are clues about what's happening, who's doing it, and why, but they don't contain nudges about how to pursue further information/remedy. They are treated more as setting enhancement than instruments to galvanize the players to action. Finding out someone/something is doing A VERY BAD THING is nice and all, but it's more useful if you also find out who can tell you more, where the someone/something may be, and/or what can be done to mitigate or remedy the situation.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I haven't seen the adventure, but a common failing both in published work and homegrown games I've seen is there are clues about what's happening, who's doing it, and why, but they don't contain nudges about how to pursue further information/remedy. They are treated more as setting enhancement than instruments to galvanize the players to action. Finding out someone/something is doing A VERY BAD THING is nice and all, but it's more useful if you also find out who can tell you more, where the someone/something may be, and/or what can be done to mitigate or remedy the situation.
Very well said!

So, in the case that my players overlook the 3 plot hook NPCs (through no fault of their own), I’ll need to construct a chain of clues they can follow/deduce to discover more about the Soulmonger (an artifact absorbing souls of the dead into it). Maybe something to do with the crafting requirements involved in making/locating the Soulmonger? Maybe...

1. Dragonbait (saurial NPC cursed with muteness) tries to explain what he knows with pictograms, but can only convey so much. Upon learning of PCs’ quest, he draws a picture of a “Soul Forge” (necromantic magic item from his home world which was drained of life by Acererak).

2. Magical research / Arcana checks / speaking with Mage NPCs using Dragonbait’s rough sketches reveals there are likely 3 requirements for crafting a device capable of draining souls (i.e. the Soulmonger): this part I’m still figuring out 1) it must be fixed in a sunless place with adamantine struts over a source of energy, (2) nine bound spirits of truly immortal entities, (3) ?

3. (If Dragonbait’s Curse is removed via remove curse, killing/tricking Sewn Sister who cursed him, or retrieving his voice from a magical place) Dragonbait can explain what happened to his world in greater detail, providing a possible timeline, hinting at the “Devourer’s” proclivity for cruel riddles/tests, and his growing hunger for brighter and more powerful souls.

4. Investigating adamantine sources in Chult leads to Hrakhamar, which connects to lair of the red dragon Tzindelor has flown over Omu and knows it’s location. Speaking with dwarves about the adamantine mine will reveal that many were enslaved by an Omuan Queen to mine great quantities of adamantine that were transported to Omu.

5. Investigating entities that can’t truly die will lead to stories of the Nine Trickster Gods of Omu.

6.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
It seems like Mezro should house a significant clue that the source of the curse is in Omu (and perhaps reveal its location relative to Mezro?) Perhaps there's a cool relief map of Omu there with some terrible symbol over the location of Omu? (I'm thinking Indiana Jones style reveal of the location of the Lost Ark?) Or perhaps the gods of Chult give indicate that the sickness permeating Omu has is origin deep under Omu?

Edit: as an aside I found all the secondary plots in ToA to be annoying (when reading through the adventure) there's enough cool stuff going on in Chult without the need for Rings of Winter running around etc etc.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
It seems like Mezro should house a significant clue that the source of the curse is in Omu (and perhaps reveal its location relative to Mezro?) Perhaps there's a cool relief map of Omu there with some terrible symbol over the location of Omu? (I'm thinking Indiana Jones style reveal of the location of the Lost Ark?) Or perhaps the gods of Chult give indicate that the sickness permeating Omu has is origin deep under Omu?
Yeah, there’s a prophecy in Mezro (taken from Ruins of Mezro:

When the Soulmonger grinds,
and exiled Nsi wraps himself in serpents,
Death’s curse will grip the world,
From beneath the forbidden city.

The party’s guides suggested “Forbidden City” was mythical Omu, but the guides don’t know where it is.

Edit: as an aside I found all the secondary plots in ToA to be annoying (when reading through the adventure) there's enough cool stuff going on in Chult without the need for Rings of Winter running around etc etc.
Understandable, it’s not handled in an integrated way in ToA.

[SBLOCK=my approach] I’ve added a bit of lore in my game wherein the atropal has an identity as an exiled prophet of Mezro named Kyuss who was seeking out the Ring (being one of a few evil beings who could command it utterly). Acererak isnt raising the atropal Kyuss to be a new god; instead Acererak is soul draining the atropal in order to turn himself into Au death itself, effectively making all undead his phylactery! So I’m tying together the whole myth of Dendar the Night Serpent eating the sun with a supernatural wintery apocalypse & the “age of worms.” Artus Cimber is slowly succumbing to the ring’s evil, and it’s trying to drive him to put the ring in this ancient ziggurat of Kyuss in order to prematurely awaken Kyuss from being soul-drained by Acererak.[/SBLOCK]
 

Relating to the thread on players playing "Face" characters who don't have those skills in real life, the same can be said about players who play "Detective" characters. In which case, you could ask for an Investigation check, which, if successful, you explain that the character has pieced something together from the tiny clues they have picked up, then tell them what their character has deduced.
 

Dan Chernozub

First Post
Love your posts as usual Quickleaf.

May take might not work for your game, but for ToA it is, provided how big the world around the PCs is, to make things happen that would effect the PCs and give them more opportunities and subtly guide them towards the clues.

For example, if after 10 sessions and, I guess a few weeks of in game time, you party has accomplished anything of note and has some jungle credit, Stormfang might seek them out proactively to help her with her problem with the whattheirnames of Firefinger. If they tell her of their quest and ask her the right questions and help her, she can lead them to Saja N’baza.

Obviously, for this to work if the PCs have done something she would and that reasonably incentivise her to approach them proactively. But I hope you get the idea, with a truckload of NPCs in the adventure, at some point PCs are bound to do somethimng that will cause someone to act in a way that effects the PCs. They can be approached for help, threatened, attacked, there might be a manipulation attempt or a dozen other things.

In short - make them see consequences of their actions and choices & don’t let them feel as they are the only force that is in motion.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
Hand-waving / rail-roaring is certainly a possible measure of last resort. Don’t think I’m quite in that desperate of a situation yet. There are other players in the group who would likely react negatively to such a last resort move also.
Then perhaps you might increase the rate of levelling to get them there faster.
 

Another technique I used for clues was communication with their sponsor/quest giver. I didn't use Syndra Silvane. Instead, I replaced her with the Seer from the SKT AL modules. My party knew her from those adventures, so there was a lot more incentive for them to help her. The Seer has a pseudodragon familiar, named Hsing, who was also part of the SKT modules; So once or twice he's shown up either with questions from the Seer (to remind them of the urgency of their mission) or with additional info/clues.
 

DMMike

Guide of Modos
Sorry for not knowing my ToA but. . .

. . . with a truckload of NPCs in the adventure, at some point PCs are bound to do somethimng that will cause someone to act in a way that effects the PCs.
Can you include the tried-and-true opposing band of adventurers? The ones who get there first, and then gloat about their progress at the friendly, local tavern?

Also, I wonder if the bored PC is the type that you could appease by adding more character development for him, since the plot isn't developing much.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Love your posts as usual Quickleaf.

May take might not work for your game, but for ToA it is, provided how big the world around the PCs is, to make things happen that would effect the PCs and give them more opportunities and subtly guide them towards the clues.

For example, if after 10 sessions and, I guess a few weeks of in game time, you party has accomplished anything of note and has some jungle credit, Stormfang might seek them out proactively to help her with her problem with the whattheirnames of Firefinger. If they tell her of their quest and ask her the right questions and help her, she can lead them to Saja N’baza.

Obviously, for this to work if the PCs have done something she would and that reasonably incentivise her to approach them proactively. But I hope you get the idea, with a truckload of NPCs in the adventure, at some point PCs are bound to do somethimng that will cause someone to act in a way that effects the PCs. They can be approached for help, threatened, attacked, there might be a manipulation attempt or a dozen other things.

In short - make them see consequences of their actions and choices & don’t let them feel as they are the only force that is in motion.
Thanks Dan! That strategy of having NPC quest/clue-givers come to them is certainly something I can incorporate more down the line. What I’m noticing with this group is they’re very detail oriented. Which is great because it keeps me on my toes, but it does have a shortcoming in that sometimes their focus goes in multiple directions and they end up moving far slower than they or I expect. We’ve covered 8 Days game time after playing for 10 sessions.

Then perhaps you might increase the rate of levelling to get them there faster.
Yes, I am leveling them a bit faster now after checking with group. But that is a separate issue that doesn’t impact quickening the narrative toward Omu. And it doesn’t really “solve” the hexploration, it just recognizes the hexploration as the weaker part and mostly bypasses it.

Another technique I used for clues was communication with their sponsor/quest giver. I didn't use Syndra Silvane. Instead, I replaced her with the Seer from the SKT AL modules. My party knew her from those adventures, so there was a lot more incentive for them to help her. The Seer has a pseudodragon familiar, named Hsing, who was also part of the SKT modules; So once or twice he's shown up either with questions from the Seer (to remind them of the urgency of their mission) or with additional info/clues.
That makes sense. I did something similar with a magical map one of the PCs had crafted & they gave to Syndra Silvane, allowing her to contact them with project image using the map as a focus. During the exploration I’m also planning on including a cracked sending stone in a t-rex footprint, a stone formerly belonging to the Company of the Yellow Banner which they used to communicate with Syndra until losing it when a t-rex chased them. It will allow PCs to communicate with Syndra on their terms for a limited time (maybe 20% cumulative chance per use of falling apart).

Sorry for not knowing my ToA but. . .

Can you include the tried-and-true opposing band of adventurers? The ones who get there first, and then gloat about their progress at the friendly, local tavern?
I do plan to include foils/rivals. ToA is a bit more difficult to do this because it’s a deadly adventure, and the foil of dead PC A might not be a good foil for new PC B. My approach, which I’ve only barely gotten to scratch surface of, is to introduce little glimpses of potential rivals via other explorers/Red Wizards/Zhentarim/etc. Hopefully at least one of these can be developed into a genuine rival once they’re in Omu, Fane of the Night Serpent, and/or the Tomb.

Also, I wonder if the bored PC is the type that you could appease by adding more character development for him, since the plot isn't developing much.
I had an open dialogue with him and there were multiple points I picked up from it.

The first and biggest complaint was the vagueness of the mission & lack of clues toward what is causing the Death Curse / how to stop it. Currently I’m looking at detailing the crafting of the Soulmonger artifact (at least somewhat), and using that as a guideline for clues. This is where I could use help.

Secondarily was a complaint about not enough reward vs. risk — this is the level advancement pacing that I mentioned upthread (as well as not much treasure), both which I’m responding to by accelerating level advancement to 1/four sessions & including more treasure (easy enough). Btw, these were issues that I checked with others in the group, and most of the players agreed they were issues. The treasure issue may partly be due to many of the players coming from a Pathfinder background which, as I understand it, is a magical loot abundant game.

Thirdly was a mild complaint about zombies. There have been three fights involving a fair number of zombies, and their Undead Fortitude has been major PITA for the players, and perhaps it has been a bit discouraging to face such hard to kill monsters in light of the above two complaints. To my credit, in each zombie encounter I’ve included some “trick” allowing circumventing the zombies’ hit points, for example: (1) pit traps zombies could be lured into, (2) holding a line vs. zombies till a NPC finished casting gaseous form on the party, and (3) using zombies to solve a deadly puzzle-trap during parlay period with wight necromancer disguised with magic. While I like “zombies as puzzle/challenge” rather than “zombies as mooks to kill”, later on I may introduce a magic item or charm which bypasses Undead Fortitude.

Fourthly was a mild complaint about PCs not driving the narrative, and the party going from lore dump to lore dump without a sense of direction. Because I haven’t heard this complaint from other players (indeed at least one other has really enjoyed how deep I’ve gone with lore of Chult), I’m inclined to think this is just a passing issue brought about by a combo of the above complaints & urrently the party exploring the Mezro Library & College of Wizards which, as you’d expect, have lots of hidden lore. However, my friend’s comments brought to light a challenge I have with this group...despite that we’ve connected most of the PCs to ToA via backstories (e.g. lizardfolk shaman who lost Semuanya’s visions when touched by Acererak in his dream, grung seeking to save her mate Blurble from the Death Curse, Ranger reclaiming ancestral lands from undead after forced to kill his zombified wife) most are playing some shade of give-me-reason-to-care-neutral. While I have a good read on what each player enjoys most about D&D, figuring out their PC’s motives and then successfully incorporating that into ToA in interesting and mutually supportive ways has been a challenge. Maybe I’m just rusty at DMing.
 
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Jackdaw

First Post
I just started running ToA (6 sessions in) and I'm anticipating the same issue with my players. Chult is a good setting but the mega-plot hooks do not collect into any sort of compelling thread. "There be evil over yonder" should not be the driving thematic force of a modern published D&D campaign, imo.

Some ideas I'm building out, which others may find interesting. Warning, this is a bit of a brainstorm.

A) The Death Curse is more specific than a vague defilement and usurpation of resurrection magic. It's actually connected to diamonds that are the required components of most of these spells. It's not a coincidence that, despite their portfolios and mysteries, almost gods accept diamonds as payment for a life returned. It's due to a sacred contract made long, long ago between ancient pantheons and Ubtao, who supplied the archetypal, platonic diamond that bound the gods to accept any diamond of worth "as it were this one".

The circumstances of the arrangement require development (gotta write it) but Ubtao is a trickster god surrounded by trickster gods, deception was definitely involved. When Ubtao abandoned Omu he left the platonic diamond, assumed safe (or maybe he doesn't care). When Acererak found it he used its tie to those resurrected via the contract to feed the Soulmonger and shake things up. After the adventure concludes the platonic diamond will likely be destroyed and the payment of resurrections in Faerun will become as unique and varied as the gods granting them.

B) Two other diamonds are sisters to the platonic diamond, cut from the same vein. They were turned into jewels for Omu royalty and high priests. Though they probably didn't know of the existence of the platonic diamond, they knew that the gems glowed when within a certain range of Omu (actually the platonic diamond beneath it) and each other, and that they could be used in resurrections without being consumed in the process. All diamonds mined in Chult have stronger metaphysical connection to the platonic diamond than those mined elsewhere in Faerun. Perversely it allows people resurrected with Chultan diamonds to suffer the Death Curse longer before dying.

C) The Omuans abandoned the city, destroyed all the maps and melted the coins but that was only 200 years ago (7 generations) A diaspora from a major trade hub wouldn't cleanly cover its tracks even with a major coordinated effort to do so, likely organized by the fallen clerics of Ubtao. Coins would be in circulation outside the city's ability to reclaim, maps would be made and owned by foreign traders, artwork and books/scrolls would have been sold and owned by non-Omuans.

Add to this that Omu is surrounded by three volcanoes. They would have figured prominently in religion, folklore and art. They would have been threaded into worship and commerce.

Add to this that a maze is the sacred symbol of Ubtoa, suggesting a predilection for pathfinding and puzzles.

So... Omuan coins still pop up in modern commerce. Most modern Chultans don't recognize them, thinking they're just coins from the variety of lands that visit Port Nyanzaru for trade. Some however regard them as cursed and will not accept them. These people are the plot hook to families that still have a cultural memory of Omu. One of these families has one of the sister diamonds too. Maybe it's one of the Merchant Princes? Anyway, if you know Omu is somewhere between the three volcanoes and you have a sister diamond, it leads you to the lost city.

D) The Death Curse comes in two parts. Dying, then returning as an undead agent with the goal of seeing the Soulmonger ascend. Syndra Silvane perishes as an ally and returns as an enemy attempting to thwart the entire mission. Most NPCs who succumb to the curse in Faerun have no idea of it's origins, but a few probably do and would make interesting cameos as they showed up in Chult all 'dark side'. Undead Volo? Undead Blackstaff? Adjust CRs accordingly.

E) The Red Wizards hire the Zhentarim as mercenary allies to form a party, equal to the number of PCs. Their goal is to provide a safe circle/anchor for Szass Tam to teleport deep in the tomb, once the other dangers have been removed. He wants to look upon the Soulmonger with his own eyes and make his own appraisals. Maybe this group gets one of the sister diamonds and the PCs the other, so they know when each group is (relatively) nearby?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Further thoughts on the Soulmonger’s crafting as a guideline for clues I can give players...

The Soulmonger is an enormous (20’ high, 10’ diameter) crystal cylinder resting on adamantine struts over a lava pit. It is a necromantic artifact created by Acererak with the aid of 3 Night hags who adapted the techniques for fabricating their “soul bags” on a greater scale. It absorbs souls. In ToA this is the souls of the dead, preventing them from attaining afterlife and from being resurrected. I’m also adding that it is also slowly affecting unborn souls, causing precipitous drops in fertility - this makes it not just a eschatalogical problem, it just a problem for nobles/adventurers who can afford resurrection, but a problem for everyone.

Based on its location underground and it’s vulnerability to radiant damage, it’s safe to say one of the clues might be “must be in a sunless place.” Additionally, since it’s hanging over a pool of lava, perhaps another clue is “must be near a great energy source.” A vague clue, but one that might make sense in combo with other clues. Finally, since Omu is a dead city (Acererak killed everyone, more or less), another clue may be “must be near where many died.” This clue *could* lead PCs erroneously to Valley of Lost Honor (where Ras Nsi massacred Eshowe tribe), but that is pretty close to Omu geographically, so not too much of a red herring.

Reading the night hag’s description, it says “soul bags” must be crafted from skin of a living creature. So...what if a crystalline creature was “skinned” to make the Soulmonger? That’s an interesting idea, but what monsters fit that bill? Well, there are Geonids in the Snout of Omgar (acc. to The Tortle Package). And there is/was a topaz dragon off the SW coast of Chult, acc. to some 3e book (Draconomicon probably). Flail snail might fit, but looking at its artwork that might be a stretch to go from iridescent shell to crystal. Will have to think on this one more...

Adamantine might have some property - ultra-hardness? - making it uniquely suited to supporting the Soulmonger. This clue could learn PCs to investigate the adamantine mine Hrakhamar. Dwarves can report their parents had been enslaved by Omuan queens, and dwarves can give general idea of Omu’s location. Because Hrakhamar connects to Wyrmheart Mine (red dragon Tzindelor’s lair), PCs could also parlay with red dragon for info about Omu’s precise location (which dragon has seen flying overhead).
 

Jackdaw

First Post
I read through the thread - I think I missed the part where you say who/what knows how to create a Soulmonger and would pass along that information to the PCs.
 

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