Bullfinch's father is a bog-iron and bitumen harvester from the south-eastern part of the forest. Long hard days of hauling, smelting, refining and peddling the products of the muskeg have taken their toll on this man.
The stuff of legends, some histories have Apīlaus as a powermad monarch of a decadent society, others paint him as the victim of tragic events, a sensitive soul acquainted with magic. Amongst the forest dwellers there are ancient tales of this the last ruler of the Oamnoi. A mysterious figure, he was said by some to have the power to change into a golden sturgeon, when the moon was darkened, to go and cavort with the river Goddess. In these tales he is portrayed as a benevolent priest-king. The dwarves, on the other hand, have no fondness for Apīlaus in their stories from what they call the fish eaters war. From their perspective he was a tyrant whom they were morally obligated to depose. The fact that they slaughtered most of his subjects in the process strangely doesn't seem to bother them much. What all the stories can agree on is that at the last minute Apīlaus disapeared along with golden splendors of the θenga, the dynastic hoard of the aeon. One story posits that when the king saw that the city of Onua was lost he dumped the hoard into the dark waters of the Shulla and with sorcery turned the gold into fishes. Another legend has him taking the guise of a salt merchant and smuggling the gold off to the north where he would found the nomadic Dzalarat. It is an interesting fact that unlike many famous figures from the history of the Torenwœl Forest, Apīlaus's ghost is not venerated with a summer feast because there was never a sufficient evidence of his death.
I've been thinking that the survival check of increasing difficulty for traveling in the forest might be replaced with a slightly more complex procedure. What I'm thinking would be a combination of random event rolls inter-relating with division of labour tasks. So, there would be three tasks navigation, foraging, and scouting each with it's own DC of increasing difficulty as one goes deeper into the forest. The navigation check would allow travel to continue in the direction desired and if failed would send the players to a random adjacent hex (just roll a d6 for the direction). The foraging check would be required to avoid taking a level of exhaustion (goodberry spell might be able to fudge this one). The scouting check would allow the party to not be surprised by whatever comes up on the event die.
Event die once in the day and once each night a d6 is rolled. Day: 1, humanoid interaction, 2,3,4, animal interaction, 5,6, wilderness challenge. Night: 1,2, beasts, 3,4, spirits, 5,6, nothing.
In life the Aiolarch family were well respected landowners in their time, and their indentured tenants erected a memorial in their honour. This memorial consists of a pool for reflection, The earthly remains of eight adults, funerary "foods", and an attendant for the journey.
The antechamber with the pool contains a mural depicting scenes from the lives of the deceased, despite being extremely faded one can identify agrarian tableau. A close inspection will reveal crude dwarven graffiti written in block runic. Off in a corner a dwarven skeleton lies in a heap, his cause of death apparent upon inspection. With the body lie a greataxe and a haversack of tiny green and red gems and an iron dirk. Everything is coated in a thick layer of dust. On the left is the outline of a door in the stone wall but no apparent latch or keyhole. Though an opening where a wooden door once hung a smaller chamber containing alcoves for clay urns stands off to the right. in this room, at the far end, there is a brass chalice full of ash sitting on a basalt slab. On the wall behind the chalice, a faded fresco of leaping flames. Though the niches are obviously meant to house clay urns most of them are knocked over or broken. On the floor is a pile of silver figurines of fish engraved with a lightning bolt symbol. upon closer observation the fine dust covering them also contains shards of charred bone.
Šlxhikštw red-egg, wields the ubiquitous "swamp razor".
The basic working unit of the lizard folk is that of the Triad. So tasks are broken up into a three-way division of labor whether that be hunting, gathering, or work about the community. For example, a hunting Triad would have one lizardfolk to scare up to the quarry one to stalk and track, and a third to dispatch it.
So how does this factor into party dynamics through game mechanics? it is understood that one lizardfolk is with the main party while his or her two companions are sneakily following along just out of sight in the brush. Should an encounter ensue The two hidden lizardfolk will join the fray but not immediately. How fast they will be able to join the combat relies on their dexterity, a dex mod of 1 waits 1d8 rounds to join, a dex mod of 2 waits 1d6, and 3 waits d4. To compensate for their late position in the initiative they will have an opportunity to enter combat stealthily [a stealth check versus best enemy passive perception]. If successfully stealthy, the wingmen may have their first attack at advantage and may add an extra d6 damage dice to their attack.
This is intended for when all the lizardfolk are controlled by one player otherwise having to potentially wait 8 rounds before joining combat would be a real buzzkill.
Torenœli lore has three types of divination: stag dreams, wind reading and egg shells. The most interesting of these would be the wind readers. It is not often that a person is recognized as having the innate ability to understand the voices of the four winds. But certain people seem to be able to discern unique characters in the wind. For example, it is understood that the prevailing West wind which brings the storms in from the coast is a spirit trying to woo the river goddess for the ocean king. It is also generally known that the soft southers coming off the blood-plains carries the faint echoes of departed ancestors. Though it rarely happens low-pressure systems coming from the mountains seem to reverberate grand mysteries and extra planer chatter. While the winds coming down from the Thorn valleys are said to carry more mundane secular and political rumors on its wings. So when a person claims to understand the voices carried in the air it is not considered lightly. On average it seems that a wind reader only comes around once in a generation.
Once a ghost bound as a slave to magister Ferrule, Glæness barb-tooth is now worshipped covertly by underdog halflings. His legend has him slowly, over hundreds of years of slavery, filing his teeth with his long rough tongue into barbs. When he finally attacked his owner Glæness could not bite hard enough to kill Ferrule but the barbs kept him firmly latched for a week until the magister was weakened enough by the blood loss to be dispatched.
The halflings that venerate Glæness are very secretive about it, they believe that their rites will strengthen them in the domains of patience, vengeance, cruelty and vindication.
As a young lizardfolk Nanaçī was appointed as arbiter of the south swamp after bringing a giant petrified chrysalis back from a venture into the penumbra. After serving a ten year term he passed his hemlock staff onto a younger candidate. His illustrious decade of evenhanded judgment gained him the title worshipful, and in his retirement he maintains a high degree of respect among his tribe. Nanaçī acts as something of a diplomat on behalf of the swamp when he is called upon, as in this situation where he represents the tribe at the fire nut Festival.
Features: large watery eyes, mottled grey skin, a breathy erudite manner of speaking, and he carries a piece of the petrified chrysalis around his neck on a chain.
What he knows: the extent of this years bad luck including water levels, predators, and weather.
Much larger than their above ground cousins the chthapi produce their nectar from spores of the söpplungr. At one time they were venerated by the Oamnoi as a psychopomp, and housed in subterranean shrine adjacent to the catacombs north of 'Onua. After the fall of the high river dynasty though they spread unchecked through the ruins of the city.
Speed flying- 50ft
Bonuses- +3 to dex saves
Attack +3 attack sting does 2d6 piercing damage and a dc 13 con save vs poison or be paralyzed for 1 day
Special feature the Chthapi die on a successful deployment of their stinger
When a humanoid creature is subject to the wild touch of the Tomntoi they Become beastial and vacant but when already wild beasts are touched they become aggressive and unpredictable.
mechanically this is reflected in a recharge ability (5-6) similar to a barbarian rage. On a five or six the beast gains advantage on attack rolls and an increased crit range (18-20), and similar to the reckless attack, rolls against them are also at an advantage. Creatures vulnerable to the wild touch within Torenwœl are as follows: winter wolf (mm340), swarm of snakes (mm338), giant spider (mm328), giant badger (mm323), elk (mm322), boar (mm319), brown bear (mm319), constrictor snake (mm320), strong beak (eagle mm324),
The "clay apes" created over an aeon ago by civic minded mages to serve and protect the interests of the elite of the day. Nowadays they pop up only rarely guarding perhaps an aristocrat's tomb or some crumbled storehouse. Essentially automatons, the bearded simians are supposedly powered by black mercury enabled by crystals in adjacent areas.
Stats A/C - 13 HP - 3d10+5 Speed - 30 ft, climb 30 ft,
Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2,
Athletics +5, Perception +3 damage resistance - magical attacks
Language - ancient Oamnic Attack - 2 fist attacks +5 to hit 3d6+2 bludgeoning damage Recharge 6 - horrifying shriek, wis save 12 or become frightened for one minute.
When killed the bearded simian will leach black mercury a very poisonous substance...
This legendary item was said to belong to the arbiters of the Oamnoi as a sign of the office. Term to term it was passed on throughout the years considered a source of insight granting authority to its wearer. A ritual was performed daily over the ring where in it was fed a small spoon of honey so as to make judgment sweet.
Mechanically, the ring, when attuned, grants the wearer "detect thoughts" (phb 231) once a day provided it has been fed its honey. To attune the ring the intended arbiter must place one of his or her teeth into the chamber of the ring.
A forgotten goddess of the high River dynasty, Ula may have been an ancient river troll or perhaps a powerful naiad. What little is known of her worship is contained in the linguistic remnants hidden within the names of the two arms of the river which flow out from the umbra of Torenwœl, Sh'ulla, which runs west through Vali to the sea, and Tulla, which goes south terminating in the swamplands of the lizard folk. There are also a handful of short inscriptions that seem to provide a list of possible epithets: the river giver, sister of the west wind, protector of Uama, mother of the sturgeons, guarantor of sacred vows.
Short enough to be mistaken for a halfling, Yushek is a bit of a recluse. A breeder of guard dogs, his customers must travel through the treacherous penumbra of Torenwœl to do business with him. He has a reputation as a knower of secrets, a healer, and walker of invisible paths. One must be truly desperate to risk the journey to his door but once a year he attends the fire-nut festival with his best stock. Rumour has it that he has a collection of antique books.
Often, Especially in the theater of the mind, in combat a player will ask something like, "is there a barrel in the corner for me to hide behind?" And the game master Will say something like, "yes and you receive three quarters cover." In an even better scenario the player might asks, "can I push over the barrel so that the monster slips on the pickle juice?" And the game master will say something like, "Give me a strength check to topple it over, and if anybody moves through the pickle zone they must do a dex check or fall prone." While this is fun and dynamic play often, I imagine, players will be either too shy to ask or too set in their ways to improvise and think outside the box. If there was a simple mechanic or convention to encourage this type of on-the-fly Battlemap generation I think it would be good. For example, maybe directly after rolling initiative one player in the rotation would be encouraged to put something on the map, with whatever limitations or lack thereof the game master desires (maybe the person who's last in initiative order as a consolation prize). Or maybe this could be tied in to the inspiration mechanic as a way to spend your inspiration point from last encounter. At first I considered going around the circle and having each person put one thing on the map but, after a little thought, I wonder if that would bog down the progress of the encounter too much. The main drawback with using a solidified rule that I foresee is having players be intimidated to be ad hoc about things. Not sure how this will play out, just some food for thought.
After listening to the most recent design games podcast episode about reward cycles and reward systems I began thinking about applying some thought to houseruling the inspiration mechanic in 5E DND.The inspiration rule is written fairly open and laconic, essentially, "if the DM thinks you did something cool you get advantage on a roll sometime soon." This is a nice little side system that doesn't interfere with the primary reward mechanic in the game, xp/ levelling. Since I don't usually play with xp anyway inspiration might be a convenient way for me to reward specific behaviours at the table. One idea I had was to open up the table briefly before the session to set out narrative themes which if touched will give the players inspiration. For example, somebody says they want to see the theme of "cleverness beating strength" while someone else wants to see "forbidden knowledge leading to complication." The only major difference from conventional inspiration would be that the inspiration would be awarded before rather than after the roll in question. That is, the roll which furthers the story in the direction agreed upon before hand gets a little boost.
Here are some examples of narrative themes:
"Lose the battle to win the war "
"Poetic justice "
"Sacrifice for the team"
"irony" "the brink of disaster" "super cool mega heros save the day" "don't trust respectable advisers"
After an exhausting day climbing through the mess of roots, vines and convoluted herbage your unlikely collection of adventurers finds something of note. The skeleton of a lizardfolk clutching a large silver bell. Further investigation reveals facts about the bell and the lizardfolk' demise and an adventurers' pack can befound mouldering a ways off. Close by, a clay structure can be found no bigger than an outhouse but obviously made in the immaculate style of the high river dynasty. There is no door but there are three symbols carved into the hard baked clay substrate: 🌗⚡️🔔
A giant slug that latches on and sucks your blood. These slimy black fellas can weigh up to 150 lbs and are remarkably fast for considering that their locomotion is limited to sliding on their own slime (speed 30 ft). Str save 12 to shake it off once it is latched on, 1d4 damage per round it's attached. Though not much of a formidable foe (15) the Blœtorm's purpose in the game is twofold. One, to leave exsanguinated corpses in the forest upping the creep factor. Two, their slime trail could make battlefield layout more interesting: dex save or fall prone when crossing it. The only other thing that I'm not sure I should add is a poison aspect, either a save vs poison when latched on or when contact is made with the slime.