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Norse/Northlands Campaign, No Grumps!

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Note to self: hydras in this setting are dragons, and dragons are not nailed to the D&D chromatic scheme.


A white dragon is as likely to spit acid as breath fire.


One of the swamps has an acid spitting five headed dragon that regenerates but does not spawn new heads.


It will raid cattle and sheep from nearby hexes. It is a beast, not an intelligent foe. It is just going for easy prey.


Though it regenerates, once it is knocked down to a quarter HP three times, it learns from its mistakes, and avoids settled hexes.


Travelers in the swamp, on the other hand...

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Some draugr are just lonely, and can be appeased with stories, songs, or games.


Some may even invite the PCs back to do it again later, offering the PCs money or magic in return.


The barrows predate the orcs by millenia, and are from before even the elves settled these lands.


Drow squat in some of the greater barrows, but did not build them.


The draugr from th barrows are ancient, powerful,  intelligent, and saner than more recent draugr.


A strangely common form of barrow has an above ground audience chamber, in a divided squat dome with a hole in the center to lwt the sun or moon shine in.

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Not every barrow contains draugr.


In fact most contain only dry bones and scattered trinkets.


And they are wicked common, so common that most often I will be using them as terrain in combats, rather than encounter areas. It's just that encounters are more likely to happen there instead of a hundred yards down the path.


Undead, recent and ancient, will be common around them, but so will fey, hags, and lycanthropes. They are places of power, but have many ways of manifesting, and there are a lot of them.


I am thinking there are five or six hundred in the local setting.


Also common are standing stones, again, hundreds in the local area.

Elemental damage spells inflict an extra point of damage near them, but casters need to make a Spellcraft roll or take that extra damage as well. A feat or trait may make it safer.


Traveling to the lands of faerie or the dead is also much easier in these places. Summonings and necromancy as well.


Less accurate to neolithic structures are the great or grand barrows, which are full blown dungeons. Blame Skyrim. ::P:


One of the first they will find is called The Giant's Anvil, an enormous stone, shaped like a rough anvil, complete with horn.


That one IS an encounter area, right at a crossroads, near a sutable blace to build a settlement. A Bonus to all Craft rolls in the area, but at a cost - Each year a child will disappear from the town. Always at the winter solstice.


Mantic had some nice standing stones in Vanguard.

Edited by PaganMegan
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The settlers will refer to ALL corporeal undead as 'draugr'.


Skeleton? Draugr.

Zombie? Draugr.

Wight? Draugr.

Undead farmer thing? Draugr.

Vampire? Draugr.


If it's dead and still walking around, they call it a draugr.


Non physical incorporeal undead get more diversity.


I need more Bog Skellies.

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I tied Shadowed Keep to the disappearance of the King's exiled son, and his family.


They're dead, Jim.


Using a ghostly halfling for the Prince's son.


I think I have all the minis I need for the first few levels.


Swapped out some magic items, the party will find a reskinned Lyre of Building in one of the later dungeons.


Items aimed at settling and warfare, not personal combat. A box containing D100 cows. ::P:


I think I need to add an active plot.


One that doesn't wait for the PCs.

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Picked up 30 Haunts for Battlefields, fits right in, but I wish I'd had it for Eberron.


Some will become combat complications.


Trying to think which of the factions should become active enemies, and think it will be the thursir.


They have always been there, and hate both types of dwarves, both types of elves, and despise both types of humans.


As far as they are concerned, orcs are the other type of human.


They are more than willing to use the orcs as cannon fodder. The bulk of thursir armies will be mostly orcs.


But eventually the orcs will snap, and turn on the thursir. And they outnumber the thursir ten to one.


The duergar are also slave takers, but are of a hunker down mentality. Slaves are valued as property, skilled workers valued more than cannon fodder, and they allow their slaves to buy their freedom, as an incentive for harder work. A mere fifty years or so, and FREEDOM! <Sarcasm.


Drow are slave takers, but decadent, willing to abandon their slaves and flee the battlefield. Slaves are valued for making the elves' lives more pleasurable. There are more half-elves than full blooded drow. most of the foremen for the drow are actually half-elves. They are second clsss citizens, but much better off than the slaves.


The orcs are slave takers, but their slaves do not last long. Some are worked to death, some are beaten, and many are eaten. LOTS  of half-orcs, for the traditional reason.


And a few more born after any orc raids, among the female survivors, for the same reason.


Half-orc slaves are the only slaves the orcs actually value. But not much.


I think these orcs will shock Grump, he is the "Orcs Are People Too" way of thought.


These are monsters, created from the worst of mankind by a curse crafted by the worst of elfkind.


Redemption cannot even begin until/unless the curse is broken.


Trolls of all sorts from monsters to settlers, but the settlers are the Hide Until THEY Go Away sort. They have been here a long time, and have seen the other races come and go.


Ogres are similar, but less variety. Lesser thursir, but chaotic and uncivilized.

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I have decided that one of my floating encounters - the Tree of Woe - is the first anchor for the curse that the PCs will find, and one of the hardest to get rid of.


Floating encounters are tied to an event, and are wherevever on the map the PCs are when the condition is met.


In this case, Level 5 is the event. About the time that they should start attracting new settlers.


Which means creating an Event Table, since after finding the tree they will get a -4 on the roll.


Good things happen on high rolls.


Bad things happen on low rolls.


-4 on a D20 table is BAD.


-20 if I go D100.


Danger Rating for settlements in the surrounding hexes also goes up.


The tree is bad luck.


Also, Unholy. Penalty to all Channel Positive Energy and Cure Wound spells, bonus to all Channel Negative Energy and Cause Wound spells.


Speak With Dead on  the corpses can give the PCs a starting point. Surprise, surprise, they were sacrificed by the not-yet-Drow elves. In a sacred grove that the humans had desecrated. Evil begetting evil.


The humans sacrificed had nothing to do with the desecration.


Encounters in the area are orcs, hags, goblins, undead, and evil fey.


And, with the not-drow to thank, there is a twisted dryad tied to the tree. She was there when the humans desecrated the gtove, and when the elves made it downright unholy.


Fixing the desecration requires saving the dryad.


Burning the tree actually will make it HARDER. Maybe impossible if the dryad is killed.

Edited by PaganMegan

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Frost giant tomb maps discounted for GM's Day/week/whatever.


I think instead of being tomb raiders, the part may be HIRED by the giants.

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18 hours ago, PaganMegan said:

Frost giant tomb maps discounted for GM's Day/week/whatever.


I think instead of being tomb raiders, the part may be HIRED by the giants.


Oh that's so unfair. My money's still rather tight for the next week or two.

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9 hours ago, Balgin Stondraeg said:


Oh that's so unfair. My money's still rather tight for the next week or two.

They have a bigger discount coming for summer.


50% off instead of 40%.





$2.70 each is cheap enough for me. ::):


I think the PCs will be recovering the ancestral weapons from another tribe of frost giants, or maybe thursir that moved into the old frost giant area.

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This will be a mummy, I think.




Haunts in the tomb, but I think she will be the only corporeal undead in her tomb.


That may look like a spear, but it's a staff.


Mummy Oracle, I think.


One is a King's Tomb, the other is a Queen's Tomb - but neither was the other's consort.


About a hundred and fifty years between them, I think.


Each was ruler of the tribe.


She will be assuming the PCs are tomb robbers, and won't let them speak before she takes action.


Frozen mummy, with slightly different powers.

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I think I need the Nolzur's frost giant.


Scary, big, with lots of Intimidate, and a nice guy with way too much to worry about.


Like Grump's character, he will have two teenaged daughters. :lol:


And smarter than he looks, the whole point in demanding the PCs recover the lost weapons if they want allies is to save face for his people. He ALSO wants allies and good neighbors.


This will make for good stories, and shared stories make for stronger ties.


Also, his people need food, and giants are lousy farmers.

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I asked Grump if he knew of any hydra type dragons in Norse folklore.


He didn't, but he did know of several Slavic ones, called "zmei".


Sometime good, sometimes evil, mostly chaotic neutral (his term), intelligent shapechangers, with human forms and dragons, sometimes with wings, and as many as twelve heads.


And one that not only grew back severed heads, but the heads grew back bodies.


And a few that showed up in stories after being killed in one or more earlier stories.


Like dragons they were sometimes offered virgin sacrifices, but the sacrifice generally ended up pregnant, not dead. In one story she ends up keeping the dragon. :blink: They get married and everything. The hero gets invited to the wedding feast, and asked to do a task for the dragon.


Zmei are complicated, and dound more like Outsiders or Fey to me than actual dragons, even though they DO look like dragons, and in Russian folklore it was a zmei that St. George killed.


And sometimes Zmei is the zmei's NAME. Gregor Zmei, dragon, trickster, seducer, and a bit of a jerk. (I simplified his name, it had about three more syllables when Grump told me about him.)


And the hero was just as big a jerk as the zmei, so that's fair, I guess.


I kind of like the idea of the heroes being asked to rescue the fair maiden, then discovering she doesn't NEED rescuing, that she and the dragon have set up house, and are quite happy together.


I might even have the zmei bragging that he rescued her from the villagers, who had her tied to a stake, and were obviously planning to do something horrible to her. (They WERE planning to do something horrible to her - they were sacrificing her to a freaking DRAGON! :grr:)


He spends almost all his time in human form, only becoming a multiple headed dragon when hunting or protecting his land, house, and wife. He will also have a giant form, with just as many heads, breath weapon, and regeneration.


Hilarity ensues.


Depending on how things go, it could even be a friendly bout - wrestling, first blood, eating all the food on the table, that kind of thing.


Which means the group making a trip to Grump's character's birth land, where he was a child of a bogatyr.


And that is where the party will get the magic box full of cows. Which can be used only once a year, but produces D100 cows when opened.


This one will be kind of cursed, if opened twice in a year a marauding monster is released as well as the cows. Maybe a reskinned wendigo, or a Cold version of efreet. Zips away when the box is opened, and then keeps coming back every month, killing livestock, and people if the settlers keep a watch on that night.


Getting bigger each month, then a year and a day after the box is opened it tries to kill the opener and his or her household.


The zmei will only tell them that detail if they ask. :devil:  He's a zmei, his job is to make the heroes' lives more complicated. Even if he IS kind of a nice guy.


I think I like zmei.

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