D&D General What are you prepping for your next D&D session? (+)

Starting a new arc for the campaign, Book 2: Exile.

Last session: PCs fled a demiplane fortress using a balloon-ish flying eldritch machine.
Next session: they crashed, hard, in the mountains. It's the fall of winter, they have to find shelter, food etc., and fix the balloon to get out of there, because something weird is hunting 'em in those frozen peaks, and it follows in the storm (living cold spells)...

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I am gonna prepare multiple pubs, drinks menus, a couple of interesting shops with stuff the PCs want to buy, and lots of stuff they don't know yet that they also want to buy it.

We've arrived at a town, and I want the PCs to spend (almost) all their cash.

After a random encounter with some Rakasta, the players have agreed to meet with the leader in a month. From there, the party will be escorted to the the encampment. I stole some ideas for their culture from the book Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. These are my DM notes for that meeting.

The Rakastas' religion is called simply "The Faith."

The Faith is a belief in the veneration of the dead, including one's ancestors, that are called The Departed. The Departed are seen as being able to intercede on behalf of the living, often as messengers. It is a way to respect and honour ancestors in their afterlives as well as seek their continued guidance.

The Rakasta that you meet here call themselves "The Order of the Hope," a religious faction whose sole purpose is to rediscover the temple and presumed resting place of Rajas'el-najar, who is dubbed "The Hope" by these Rakasta. It is said that his Departed soul has been resting in contemplation with all the Ancestors. It is prophesied that The Hope's rediscovery will bring "a golden age of peace and posperity guided by the Ancestors." These stoic fanatics are all warriors and believe themselves to be possible forerunners of a migration by the rest of their society. But, who knows? Messiahs are inscrutable and cats are fickle; and we're talking about a prophesied messiah cat-person here.

The concept of worshipping an Immortal is foreign to them.

[The PC's might witness this ritual at daybreak or sunset. It is often said in a group, but might be said alone.]
The Brothers and Sisters of The Faith learn call and response phrases:
When we pass into the Beyond our essence joins with the souls of the Departed to lend us their guidance in this life. In return we give them honor and faith

What is hope?

Hope is the heart of the faith. Abandonment of hope is a denial of the Faith.

What is death?

Death is but a gateway to the Beyond and union with the Departed. It is both ending and beginning. Fear it and welcome it.

What is the body?

The body is a shell, the cradle of the soul.

What is the body without the soul?

Corrupted flesh and nothing more. Mark the passing of loved ones by giving their shell to the fire.

Random tidbits of useful info as Role-playing rewards:

A lion's silhouette is carved into the rock face of southern badlands, small priests' tomb with a cache of cultural treasures was found there. A clue vaguely hints that the shrine is in the hills to the north.


"If you ever come upon a temple with an open lion's maw for an entrance, be warned. The temple is heavily trapped and can only be entered by someone who knows its secrets."

The Isle of Dread is known as "The Shifting Isles" to the Rakasta. According to their legends, the Isle of Dread can teleport to another part of the world. It teleported here several hundred years ago and will do so again. The reason for this teleportation is believed to be connected to the "Elemental Otherworld," but anything beyond that is unknown by the Rakasta.*

The Elemental Gates is something that the Goodman Games version has added to the adventure as an option. It is one of the few things that reviewers criticize, but I'm kind of intrigued by them. I have no idea how I will use these Gates, but they'll probably be involved with a epic finish to this campaign.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
This week's session ended up being mostly downtime adjudication - we had 2 players out, 2 late because of a high school band concert, 3 late because of a high school JV basketball game, and 1 late due to dance class.

But next week, NEXT week - they've got to deal with a dragon attacking their hometown. Running Age of Worms, just starting chapter 6 for those of you in the know...


Moderator Emeritus
Tomorrow I am running the encounter with 1000 Teeth from U2 - Danger at Dunwater for my remote - Revenants of Saltmarsh group -, which I don't really have to prep because I have already run it for my local group. But for that latter group (which meets again in early January) both a sidetrek type short adventure to take place in their recently purchased and still being renovated home and an adventure from Dungeon #32 (1994) - "The Wayward Wood" - I am sticking in before U3 - The Final Enemy to give them a chance to level up one more time and give them a druid focused adventure for the druid and build up the party's connection all the way around to the area where they've settled by introducing some other communities (firbolg, trolls, and treants).


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Well, I had two players who are moving out of state to their first home leave my campaign, and last week we had a Session 0 to introduce two new players to the world we've been playing in for the last year and a half, bring them up to speed on the story so far, and brainstorm characters. I'm now waiting on the results of that so I can start to plan character arcs. One of the lessons I learned last campaign when adding players in was that I would introduce their character arcs at the same rate of everyone else - but everyone was already deeper into their arcs, so we didn't really spend as much focus on them. This time I want to hit the ground running with arcs for them that are already somewhat blossomed and active. But I need to get their characters and background to start brainstorming that.

Plus this came mid-scenario, as they realized that the holidays were just too busy so instead of staying until the new year. So what the party is about to do, which is mid-action, needs to have a way to introduce the two new characters into it. Well, one of them - the other one will enter the same way the two characters will exit.

You see, one of the characters is a chronomancer. So I'm going to have a gash in space open, a visibly older version of him say "Damn causality, I need you", grab the two, and go to close the gash only to have resistance. Say "I need to balance the equation" and a dwarf gets pushed out.

The fun bit is that dwarves were genocided 650 years ago in the campaign. One of the new players will be playing a dwarf from before that happened.
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In a surprise move, I actually made a setting document for my players. It's 2 pages long and it probably amuses me more than it will inform them. I hope to start running the campaign soon, once we finish the Battle Of Fake Medieval Iceland which starts this Friday.

If you're interested, have a look at The Arc courtesy of the Homebrewery.
Well done, I like the summary format. And well written too. (y)

I just did a full write up for my players describing The Rakasta on the Isle of Dread



B/X Known World
Prepping more locations and rumors for my West Marches hexcrawl. Decided to drop a Spelljammer off in the mountains. Or maybe the PCs will see it crash. Decided to roll up the crystal sphere. Kept rolling more. And ended up making a spreadsheet to auto roll crystal spheres. I forgot how weird and wild those charts are. As the Spacefarer’s Handbook says, “In space, weirder is better.”

Prepping more locations and rumors for my West Marches hexcrawl. Decided to drop a Spelljammer off in the mountains. Or maybe the PCs will see it crash. Decided to roll up the crystal sphere. Kept rolling more. And ended up making a spreadsheet to auto roll crystal spheres. I forgot how weird and wild those charts are. As the Spacefarer’s Handbook says, “In space, weirder is better.”

Bold mine.
Have you seen this video? It seems like he's describing West Marches style to me. This way of playing has always really intrigued me



The next adventure in my "Dreams of Erthe" campaign will be called "Desert Dreams," but I'll have quite a lot of time to prepare for it as one of my players has just recently undergone surgery and will be recovering for several more weeks. So no real rush - we may not get to play until early May - but in the meantime I already have the adventure written, the battle-map geomorphs made, the initiative cards built, the monster stats written out, and the PC tracking sheet printed and ready to go. This gives me time to work on future adventures, if I can get the last few caricatures finished up (three more left to go, another side hobby of mine) by early April when they're due so I can get back to some D&D stuff.



Last sessions my players has arrived at the Rock of Bral in Realmspace, hunting for clues partly about the undead Illithid threat and their unknown masters, partly - and more critical - who or what is throwing asteroids toward the big cities on the Sword coast.

After lots of fun roleplaying the party met with a bunch of shady drow that said that they have coordinates in Selunes daughters regarding the asteroid threat. But the drow needed a favor for the info - they need a nefarious slavetrader in a city in Shou-Lung eliminated. The partys paladin was very sceptic to the mission, but anyway, off to Shou-Lung they went, still new to this spelljammin' thing.

I built the Shou-Lung scenario as a Mission Impossible style heist, where the slavetraders mistress live in a central tall building that is the best place for a confrontation. The party has researched the building, guard routes etc, and will go for the confrontation next session on Saturday.

So, I will prep for that, plus build maps and encounters for the asteroid slinging base. I think I will populate it with undead Neogi, it fits with my overarching plot sketch and it was decades since those evil guys showed up :cool:

Usually we play weekly via Beyond/AboveVTT/Discord. But our current campaign also celebrate 1 year on Saturday, so we will do a marathon 6-8 hour live session with food and wine, good times!


B/X Known World
Bold mine.
Have you seen this video? It seems like he's describing West Marches style to me. This way of playing has always really intrigued me

I have. But thank you.

Yeah, almost. They’re very close, but there are some differences. It’s also easier to just say “West Marches” and people will generally know what you mean.


I started a shorter campaign to last through the summer and in the middle of mashing Phandalin with the module Forge of Fury. We had a session 0 and the first night of play where the PCs took on a small quest to trade for some horses and not they will be traveling to Wave Echo to meet with Gungren who is interested in the Forge and the smith Dungeddin. There is a dragon cult around who came looking for the white dragon in Icespire Peak, which was the last campaign that just ended. The cultist are now learning about the black dragon Nightscale and are attacking the PCs who disrupted them and have the secret map.

I was working on a set of magic items for handouts using MS Publisher and having more random items for the PCs to find. I spread them out on the table for a player to pick when it is not a set item placed on purpose or a potion. I found the players liked the roll of a random item and also liked the handouts I had to describe the item so I made the handouts. I need some more for additional potions and scrolls, but have some general ones completed.

Last time, the party worked their way down to the hidden chamber beneath a temple they'd been figuring out how to enter. We closed right after they got there, with an information stinger that they instantly recognized as Revealing Secrets. Of course, they knew there would be secrets. They're exploring a formerly-hidden ancient genie-rajah city, something lost to the sands for literally a couple thousand years. There have to be revelations and secrets here. But they already had a reason to think the revelations would be Special, and what they saw upon descending to the temple's heart gave that reason focus.

See, due to IRL stuff, the party Druid had to take a long hiatus. Something like eight to ten months? I don't remember exactly but it was a long time. I persuaded the player out of totally killing his character, as departing from the game was clearly very difficult (necessary, but they confided in me it was tougher than any other game they'd had to leave) and I'd seen a golden opportunity for enabling an indefinite hiatus that could be ended at any time. In the final session before his departure, the Druid had used his budding Shaman magic (which calls on and binds the powers of spirits, usually after-world spirits like abstract ideas, dead beings, or ancestral/archetypal things) to call upon the One, the monotheistic deity of the Safiqi priesthood. This was a powerful choice on his part, but it was also costly--he was, in effect, entering a covenant and would be given knowledge and a mission, but would have to pay a difficult penance for his past choices (making a deal with a devil, specifically). So, at the end of that session, after the whole party had risen to great heights and defeated a powerful and dangerous spirit, the Druid walked with the One and was seen no more, for the One had taken him.

When the party arrived at the gates of this genie-rajah city? They found him there, waiting for them, dressed in new, clean robes, with supple, comfortable sandals bound upon his feet. (This was very symbolic, because up to this point, the character has had a reputation of being VERY hobo, doesn't-wear-shoes, favoring a quick dip in the river rather than an actual soap-and-hot-water bath unless visiting hot springs, etc.) So the player had said, "There must be some reason I'm here. I need to find out what it is." And that got my gears going.

So. They've descended into this temple. They know that it has something to do with how Noble Genies come to be--the ones with nigh-infinite lifespans and fantastical powers, as opposed to regular genies, who are more like long-lived but relatively ordinary humans. It has some sort of ritual purpose, with clear "leaders" and what appear to be neophytes, supplicants, or possibly offerings. And then, as they enter the final room, a strange sight. It's not clean, neatly-worked stone like the temple above. It is a partially-natural cavern in the volcanic rock (the city is built inside a semi-active volcanic caldera). They have seen a place like this before: a druid shrine. But why would the genie-rajahs, who ruled over mortals in the ancient days, have a druid shrine? Druids were the ones who led the humans that weren't part of genie-rajah culture, the ones eking out a hardscrabble existence between the genie-built, genie-ruled cities, freeing shipments of mortal slaves and doing their best to be just outside the reach of genie-rajah armies and too inconsequential to smite with noble genie powers.

The party is about to learn why it is that the noble genies now appear seemingly randomly among their population, and another part of why they left the mortal world behind...and the price they have paid because of this choice, a price that has been alluded to several times but only limitedly. A price that (some) other noble genies have avoided paying, but only by not behaving as most of their race has. Deeper connections between historical elements and methods of using supernatural powers will be revealed. I'm not entirely sure yet, but I think I'll prepare a few different directions these revelations might play out--lingering spirits that can answer questions or potentially become hostile.

Prepping the game room right now. :)


Evil deep dwarf city - the PCs hate these dwarves, who are invading their barony, allied with the evil ruler next door. The dwarves have acidic weapons, and worship an evil god of trickery. Their human enemies worship an undead god. I know why the two groups are allied, but have no idea what the dwarven city is like. Other dwarves have explained that IF these evil dwarves act like normal dwarves, killing their clan leaders should be enough to divert the dwarves from their current course of action. I have two weeks to get this scenario together.

I'm busy trying to cram The Lost Valley of Hutaaka (from B10) into the Isle of Dread (X1). It's actually an easy fit.

I just sent this blog post out to the group for tonight's game. The party is escorting a bunch of Rakasta through the valley. These Rakasta are on a Holy Quest/Pilgrimage for the Shrine of their Ancestor, Rajas'el-Najar.

Here's a copy&paste:

The Hutaakans
[Map at Bottom]
You arrived at Byxata in the late afternoon of May 15th in the year 1001AC* and are introduced to Foredz, the leader and High Priestess of Pflarr. You are treated with all possible courtesy, including being fed and magically healed (if needed) by the priests. You are given private and clean lodgings in the guesthouse (black circle on map), while the Rakasta are given quarters in the Temple (building C). Overall, the Hutaakans seem to be a sophisticated culture that has passed its Golden Age over a century ago. They are the most advanced culture on the Isle of Dread that you have encountered in the areas of technological and crafts knowledge**.

She explains that they have been living in peaceful coexistence with the Cavemen for hundreds of years. She describes their relations during this peaceful era as "...the wiser and more learn-ed Hutaakans, guided by Holy Pflarr, led and taught the ungrateful Cavemen valuable skills and knowledge. Then a few years ago, the Cavemen came under the influence of a crude and ignorant leader named Gubri. The Cavemen plundered or destroyed everything that they could get their dirty hands on (Pflarr have mercy on their souls). A civil war ensued.

"6 months ago, everything took a turn for the worse when the Cavemen desecrated the Temple and released an Evil Entity that the Hutaakans have been selflessly guarding against. That's when Kartoeba was unleashed and the hostile undead started haunting the western valley. 3 months ago, things got even worse yet again as earthquakes split the earth and released fire creatures. Three Fire Elementals now stalk the Valley."

Foredz says that the control of the Temple of Pflarr, which 10 miles northwest, can only be Healed through a Ritual that can be found in the Vault of the Elders, which is about 12 miles of travel to the west of Byxata. The Ritual, once recovered, must be performed in the Temple.

Most of the Hutaakans now live in the village of Byxata. A stone wall provides some fortifications against attack and a watch of a couple dozen guards maintain the ramparts at all times. Behind the stone walls are approximately 20 buildings that are mostly single story. Those marked A are food store || B are the dwellings of ordinary Hutaakans || C is the building used by the Priestess, Foredz and her assistants (5 minor priests).

*1001 years After Crowning of the first emperor of Thyatia
** It helps if you think in terms of the Tech Tree in Sid Meyers Civilization video game.

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