The Sinister Shadowfell Amulet

For the past year and a half, I’ve been running my regular home crew through D&D’s 5e Curse of Strahd campaign. Normally I take portions of various published adventures to craft a longer campaign. This time however I’ve run an adventure almost fully as written.

We’re nearing the completion of the adventure and it’s been fantastic. The small “sandbox” style of the adventure includes lots of well crafted side stories that have hit a sweet spot for me. I’ll be sorry to see it end, but I do look forward to our next campaign as one of my players has agreed to step up to the DM’ing chair. I get to run a player character for a change! Yipee!

However, I won’t without my time in the DM chair as I’m about to start D&D campaign with a new group of players. I’m not sure what the player dynamics will be like yet and I have to admit I’m slightly nervous as I think I’ve been spoiled with my regular group. They’re all so great to play with. If this new group is even half as fun as my regular crew, I sure I’ll have a great time.

The story begins with the party being tasked with delivering a marriage proposal to a noble along with three precious treasures  – an exotic flower bulb, a priceless musical instrument and sheaf of exquisitely illustrated poetry.  I liked the idea of opening with a very un-heroic sounding action and then quickly thrusting the players into the meat of the story. I’m eager to see if the idea will work.

For this new group, I’m going is to go back to “kitbashing” the adventure by gathering ideas from a number of different sources. For this campaign I’ve selected three adventures from three different editions of D&D and I’ll be merging them together to craft a new story.

The adventures I’m working with are:

  1. The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh from TSR’s 1st Edition
  2. The Crucible of Freya by Necromancer games written for the 3rd Edition of D&D as well as its free introductory adventure The Wizard’s Amulet.

3. Keep on the Shadowfell from Wizards of the Coast’s 4 Edition of D&D.I enjoyed each of these three adventures when they were originally published. In my opinion they are great introductory adventures for new players, providing a good mix  of combat and social encounters to pull players into the story. There’s also some nice synergy between that have allowed me to borrow parts of each of their stories to craft an exiting new adventure.

This experiment starts tomorrow. I’m eager to see its results!

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Posted in Campaign, DM, treasure

Natisse Mossripple

The following is a backstory of an antagonist I created for a Dungeons and Dragons adventure I’m currently writing. The adventure opens with the PCs visiting a prospective gnome patron, Brudgepiddle Raddishfoot. As their patron begins explaining the task he wishes the PCs to undertake, the pixie described below arrives to enact vengeance upon the unsuspecting gnome.


Natisse Mossripple and Briar Brightleaf were young pixie lovers exploring the mortal world when they befell Dread Polly Mudmouth. The evil hag was immediately infuriated by the pair, for which she stripped Briar’s spirit from her body, trapping it within an enchanted melon the hag kept for just such an occasion.

The exact details of their transgression against the evil hag is left to the discretion of the Dungeon Master. Stealing from the hag’s garden, trespassing within her domain, or insulting the hag in a way that only the fey can understand are all good possibilities. Regardless of whatever folly the pixies may believe they have done, it was likely the result of trickery enacted by Dread Polly to catch the hapless fey in a compromising situation and then bind them to an unwelcome bargain.

The bargain that Natisse found herself agreeing to was servitude to Dread Polly for a year and a day. Natisse would perform whatever tasks the hag might ask of her, all the while Briar’s spirit would remain trapped with Dread Polly and her lifeless body remain propped atop a shelf in one of the hag’s many hovels. Only after her year of faithful servitude by Natisse would Dread Polly free Briar’s spirit and allow the pixies to go on their way.

Natisse was true to her word and did her best to fulfill Dread Polly’s requests. The hag’s initial tasks were simple and the pixie had no problems completing them. But the hag was devious and patient as she was evil. Dread Polly used her tasks to slowly corrupt the good hearted pixie, forcing Natisse to do things that challenged her inner goodness. By the end of the year, Natisse had become tainted by the hag’s influence and the increasingly malevolent tasks she had been forced to complete.

When Natisse beseeched the hag to release Briar after her year of service, Dread Molly regretfully informed her she could not,

Yes it is true, your service is done and the year is through,

But I cannot return your beloved Briar to you.

She is gone. Her spirit taken away.

By a vile gnome with eyes of grey.

A tinker by trade, he works with fire and soot.

The one to seek is Brudgepiddle Radishfoot.

The hag then claimed she took pity on poor Natisse and told the now corrupt pixie where she believed the gnome could be found. She gave Natisse some enchanted items so that the pixie she might recover her love and perhaps inflict some vengeance upon Brudgepiddle for his supposed evil deed.

In truth, the hag had fooled the gnome Brudgepiddle for she had similarly captured the spirit of the gnome’s love within an enchanted melon just like the one which held Briar’s soul. A simple sleight of hand trick resulted in the gnome mistakenly taking the enchanted melon holding Briar’s soul, and thus nicely setting up the conflict for the start of this adventure.


The art in this post is called “Bedeviled Pixie” by Seraph777 on deviant art. I thought the image was a perfect fit for this tragic pixie.

Posted in Character Backgrounds, monster | Tagged , , ,

New D&D Campaign Adventure Hooks

Character Adventure Hooks

In the new year I may get a chance to start a D&D campaign with a new group of players. The game will be based in my home-brew world, in an area that I haven’t yet explored in my previous campaigns. The starting map for the campaign can be found in this post:  The Forgotten Coast
I always like to integrate player character backstories into my campaign setting and include some connection to the adventures to come. Below is a list of adventure hooks I created for my new players. I have tried to create a variety of reasons why the characters might be in the small fishing village where the campaign kicks off. My intent was to make each background generic enough that the players would have plenty of room to customize the backgrounds and make them their own.

In Her Lady’s Service: You are in the employ of The Lady of the Rose Keep, the Baroness Gilda Morain. She has asked you to travel to Silas Cove to determine if rumours of a smuggling operation located in the area are true. Given the meager resources of the Forgotten Coast, shutting down a smuggling operation is an important task.

Rough Seas: You were travelling on a ship sailing along the Forgotten Coast when catastrophe struck. Perhaps you abandoned ship when pirates attacked, or a terrible storm blew in and sank your vessel. Whatever the calamity, you washed ashore in Silas Cove and one of the locals nursed you back to health. Now that you’ve recovered, you feel indebted to the villagers for their kindness. About that, they have a favour to ask…

Born and Raised: You’ve lived in Sillas Cove your entire life. Its mostly boring, though the constant threat of pirate raiders, highway thugs and monstrous incursions from the eastern wilds keeps most people on their toes. You’ve grown tired of small village life and are eager to seek adventure. You’ve always wanted to see if the wild stories you’ve heard growing up are true.

Laying Low: You don’t consider your self a bad person, but someone else definitely does. For right or wrong, people are after you. You’ve fled to the farthest and least interesting place you could think of – the Forgotten Coast. You now find yourself in Sillas Cove wondering if you’ve left your troubles behind you. Where did you come from and why did you flee?

Eyes on the Coast: The Order of the Golden Pheasant is a secretive group operating within the Principalities of Allosais. Few know their true objectives but it is said they look out for their own. Through a strange train of events you’ve found your self recruited into this mysterious group. You have a limited understanding of their motives, but you’ve been sent to Sillas Cove where they’ve told you someone will contact you with further instructions.

Ancient Ruin Seeker: Though the Forgotten Coast is now a rocky wilderness, ruins of past civilizations can be found throughout the region. One such site has drawn your interest and you have come to Sillas Cove to begin your search.

Irrational Journey: Visions of a nameless horror have troubled your sleep and occupied your mind preventing you from continuing with the mundane tasks that had until recently occupied your life. You’ve followed a strange urge and left your home. You find yourself in Sillas Cove, uncertain of why you are here, and wondering about the truth behind the terrible visions you’ve seen


The art at the top of the post is by pechschwinge . A rowdy tavern always seems like a great place to start an adventure. She’s got some great fantasy art on her deviant art page. Check it out.

Posted in Campaign, Character Backgrounds

The Forgotten Coast

Here’s a map I recently sketched for a new D&D campaign I’m hoping to start in the new year. This regional map is based in my larger home-brew campaign world, but in an area that I haven’t had players explore yet. I’m looking forward to uncovering the secrets that hide within these lands.

Posted in art, Campaign, Maps | 1 Comment

Old D&D Sketches

We’re currently doing renovations on our house, which has slowed my posting rate here. However, the relentless moving of stuff within the house has given me the opportunity to sort through some old boxes. In doing so I came across a few rough sketches I made of the characters in the D&D campaigns I ran at the time. It’s been some time since I’ve felt like I’ve had enough time to spend just sketching and drawing for enjoyment. Looking at these old drawings makes me want to pick up the old sketchbooks again.

genie-sketchold_links of the sleeve_sketchlate 90s game

Posted in art, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

My Daughter’s Fighter

Last year I ran an introductory adventure for my two daughters and three neighborhood friends. It was a short adventure I threw together – a simple linear quest that saw them investigate a crazed wizard’s laboratory, defeated gigantic mutated rats and explore an ancient false tomb. They had a great time.

Since then however, my daughters have been pestering me to startup a game with the neighbors again, except this time they wanted to make their own characters. Finally our family schedules aligned and I’ve sat down with the kids to help craft their PCs.

My youngest decided to create a half-elven fighter named Normani. I was surprised to discover this great illustration she made of her PC. I think they’re excited to play!

sophies drawing - small

Posted in Campaign | Tagged , ,

Jebedda’s Escape

Here’s a little introductory backstory I wrote for two of my players in a 5e D&D campaign I started some time ago. I used much of the Lost Mine of Phandelver, the adventure that comes with the 5th Edition Starter Set, but placed the story in my own home-brew world. This short story was meant to give a little explanation of why the PCs met up with the rest of the group to start their adventure.


The brightness of the morning burned at the gnome’s eyes as the dwarf hurried him down a back alley. The dwarf pulled the small figure along, urging the groggy gnome to keep up. They threaded there way through bustling city streets but their progress was slower than the dwarf wanted. The gnome repeatedly tripped and fell as he stumbled behind. The drugs that had kept the gnome obedient for so long still coursed through his veins, sapping his strength. After untold years of dazed servitude, trapped in a sunless dungeon, Jebedda was finally free.

It wasn’t until the sun began to set that Jebedda’s head began to clear. Oban, his dwarf companion, sat across from him at a small wooden table. They occupied a dark corner of a busy tavern. The gnome couldn’t recall how they’d come to be here or how long he’d been sitting at this table. Oban shoved a bowl filled with stew in front of the gnome.

“Stop staring. Eat.”

Jebedda obliged. He eagerly devouring the weak broth, chunks of stringy meat and soft vegetables. Never had he tasted anything so delicious.

“Where are we?” Jebbeda managed to ask between mouthfuls.

Dwarf smiled, apparently pleased that the gnome was finally speaking. “West end. The Feathered Sandal. Cheap but safe. We’ll stay the night and figure where we’re goin’ in the morn.”

“We will be going in the morning?”

“Yup. Away and quick. We gotta get outta here. Outta the city. Folks will be lookin’ fer us.”

Jebedda looked down at his now empty bowl. They were now free, but he was having a hard time remembering where they’d escaped from. With a jolt he recalled that his parents had been trapped with him too.

“My parents. Where are they?”

Oban took a moment to consider before responding, “No way a knowin’. Ain’t seen ’em fer months. Don’t ya remember? Not nothin’?”

Try as he might, the gnome could only recall figments and flashes of his incarceration. Strange magical sigils. Vials of bubbling liquids. Robed figures bent examining unseen objects.

There were only two things the gnome remembered clearly; the hatred he felt for his jailer’s every time he was thrown into his cell, and the embroidered pattern that was emblazoned on his captor’s robes – five spiraling arms surrounding a reptilian eye.

Jebedda’s attention was drawn to a halfling who quietly walked past their table. The halfling discretely dropped a folded piece of parchment into Oban’s lap before disappearing back into the crowded room. The dwarf hastily opened the paper and read its message. His mouth broken into a wide smile.

“Jebedda! Fantastic Luck! Friend out in Tallais could use some help. We’re gettin’ outta here  at first light. Have ya ever heard of a place called Phandalin?”

tavern-sketch-lowsketch by:Javier Charro

Posted in Campaign, Character Backgrounds, writing | Tagged , ,