Tuesday, February 17, 2015

D&D: Journey through Crocodile Crossroads

I was not planning to write a sequel to The Mystery of Malvern Manor, but we had our D&D friends and their kids over for dinner and gaming on Saturday night, and as a result, I needed another one-shot campaign.  Since I'd already introduced the kids to Breakwater Bay and its surrounding environment, I built from there.  I thought the kids would get a kick out of fighting dinosaurs, and as it happens, this proved to be correct.

I should note that I opened our session on action, skipping Scenes 1 and 2 and going straight to the heart of the action at Scene 3.  You can do that as well, or you can play through the interaction with Baron Pavelovitch, which is what I would have done with a group of strictly adult players.

Let me know what you think!
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Journey Through Crocodile Crossroads

A D&D Fantasy Adventure by Dan Head

Level: 3-4; Locale: Swamp/Marsh

Background

The party is shipwrecked in the frontier town of Breakwater Bay, an isolated fishing village on the Isle de Mont Deserette.  Baron Pavel Pavelovitch holds Breakwater Bay and its surrounding territories by grant from the king, but in practice, his rule extends only as far as he can deploy his household guard.  The party made it safely to shore after the wreck, but their belongings sank, leaving them with little more than their weapons, armor, and whatever gold was in their pockets. To make ends meet, they’ve been reduced to doing odd jobs around town for a local dwarf boss named Cassius Ironhide and for the baron, who considers them little better than “a pack of worthless adventurers”.
Still, the party has been of some use to the baron.  They recently investigated the disappearance of the magician Mordecai Malvern and his apprentice Anstiss, the baron’s youngest son, discovering that Malvern and Anstiss were killed by the magician’s foul experiments.  Afterwards, the baron was more than ready to see the party bundled onto the next ship out of town, but unfortunately, he once again needs a pack of worthless adventurers.  

Story Notes

A pack of allosaurus dinosaurs has recently built a nest at the crossroads of the Old South Road and the Fjord Road, making the area impassible to foot or wagon traffic.  The crossroads—colloquially known as “Crocodile Crossroads”—has never beenparticularly safe, but now that dinosaurs have nested there, even the hearty dwarves of Clan Ironhide have begun refusing to try the journey.  Something must be done and soon, or else the baron will lose out on the coming season’s tax revenues from Ellsberg, a local logging town on the far side of the fjord.

Rumors

D10
Rumor
1-4
Crocodile Crossroads is near where the lizardfolk live.
5-6
An old witch named Baldera lives out in swamps.  They say she’s half crocodile.
7-9
The lizardfolk and the orcs have been at war lately.  No one knows why.
10
There’s a drow house somewhere out in the hills north of the swamp.

Wandering Monsters

D8
Encounter
1-2
2d4 + 2 lizardfolk
3-6
3 x Allosaurus
7
2d4 + 1 orcs & 1 ogre
8
1 x Ettin

Scenes

1. Baron Pavelovitch
If you played through The Mystery of Malvern Manor, you may now wish to role-play the party’s encounter with Baron Pavelovitch.  The baron does not like the PCs, but he clearly needs their help, a fact he is loath to admit.  Moreover, he now owes the party 50 gp per person following their successful investigation into the disappearance of his son.  This is exactly enough money to pay the party’s passage out of town, but with the dinosaurs running wild, that plan is now unworkable.
The baron asks the party to travel to Crocodile Crossroads to remove the allosaurus nest that’s now sitting there.  He offers the party another 50 golds per head—he’s willing to go as high as 100—but it’s complicated because the baron’s having cash-flow problems now that the crossroads is impassible.  If possible, the baron asks the party to extend him credit for the money he owes until after he’s collected the coming season’s tax revenue from Ellsberg, a logging town on the far side of the fjord.  If he absolutely must, the baron will make good his debts to the party, but this leaves him badly strapped.
2. Journey to Crocodile Crossroads
Crocodile Crossroads lies some ten miles north of Breakwater Bay.  The journey runs along the Fjord Road, a rutted dirt wagon track that meanders through a pine and birch forest that’s studded with rolling hills and large granite hillocks.  There are plenty of places where monsters can ambush the party.  
There is a 50% chance that the party encounters a group of Wandering Monsters on their trip.  If the PCs fail a DC 12 Survival or Perception check, the monsters ambush the party, gaining a Surprise Round.  
3. The Lizardfolk and the Nest
As the party approaches the crossroads, the trees thin out.  Terrain that was forested gives way to a swampy wetland off to the north side of the road.  The crossroads itself is surrounded on two sides by swamp.  The Fjord Road continues north of the swamp, but the Old South Road branches off, running south towards Mirror House, an elf house located on Mirror Pond.  The dinosaurs have built their nest at the crossroads, on the raised embankment above the wetlands.  As the party approaches, they see a group of lizardfolk working around the nest, apparently trying to harvest the eggs.  There is no sign of the dinosaurs themselves.
Encounter: 3 – 5 Lizardfolk
                 1 – 2 Crocodiles
                 1 x Lizardfolk Shaman
This is meant to be between a Medium and a Hard fight.  Depending on the number of PCs in your party and their level, you may need to adjust the number of lizardfolk and crocodiles.
The Lizardfolk Shaman starts the fight in Crocodile form.  On his first turn, he transforms into his lizardfolk form and casts Conjure Animals, summoning a Giant Constrictor Snake to attack one of the party’s ranged combatants.
The lizardfolk retreat into the swamp as soon as their shaman is killed.
Treasure: The Lizardfolk Shaman is are carrying 15 gp, 11 ep, and 19 cp.
4. The Orc Dino-Rider
Once the party has either destroyed or driven off the lizardfolk, they are immediately ambushed by a group of orcs, who come out of the forest south of the Fjord Road.  These orcs are led by an orog riding an allosaurus.
Encounter: 1 x Orog
                 1 x Allosaurus
                 3 – 5 Orcs
The orog is wearing half-plate armor and carrying a shield (AC 18).  When mounted, he attacks with a lance (+6 to hit; reach 10’; 1d10 + 4 piercing damage).  If the orog is mounted and moves more than 10’ in a straight line towards its target before attacking with his lance, he deals 5 additional points of damage.  If he is knocked from the saddle, he switches to his Battleaxe +1 (+7 to hit; 1d8 + 5 slashing damage).  The orog’s allosaurus is wearing chainmail barding (AC 16).  This, of course, is highly unusual.  
This encounter is meant to be Hard.  You may have to adjust the number of orcs accordingly.
Treasure: In addition to his weapons and armor, the orog is carrying 3 pp and 14 gp.  His battleaxe is crafted from black iron, and it’s warm to the touch.  Whenever its wielder grasps its haft, he suffers a harmless burst of fiery pain which leaves a welt.  In addition, the wielder gains the supernatural ability to find the nearest exit to any cavern, cave, or related underground structure.
5. Seeking Shelter, Finding Allies
After two fights in rapid succession, the party will probably need to rest.  However, they need to find shelter, or they will continue to face Wandering Monsters.  Following a successful DC 12 Survival check, they find a nearby cave hidden in a timber stand back in the forest.
A drow named Victoria Vantiss is already in this particular cave.  The party finds her nursing her wounds shortly after her own battle with a group of lizardfolk.  Victoria tells the party that she is a soldier from House Vantiss, the liege house for the local orc tribe, the Bone Crunchers.  The Bone Crunchers are in rebellion from Victoria’s House, using their new dinosaur cavalry as the revolution’s primary fighting force.  House Vantiss believes that it can contain the orc threat—and keep the orcs from annihilating Breakwater Bay, with whom the drow have no quarrel—by collecting as many dinosaur eggs as possible from the local area.  However, the drow had not counted on having to fight both the orcs and the lizardfolk, and this has left them with a shortage of manpower.
Victoria asks the party to hunt down the lizardfolk in the nearby swamp, offering 1,000 gp in compensation as well as a potentially lucrative trading contract with House Vantiss.
6. The Hag’s House
The party heads into the swamps and soon comes across an ancient house hidden deep in the swamp.  If they stop in the house, they find an old woman who seems friendly but a little off.  She raves about the moon and complains about the dinosaurs, but she knows the swamp well, and if the PCs ask, she gives them directions to the lizardfolk encampment.  She then insists that the party stay for dinner.
Encounter: 1 x Green Hag
                 3 x Imps
The old woman is a Green Hag.  She is using her Illusory Appearance feature to appear to be a crazy old human woman.  This illusion can be pierced with a successful DC 20 Investigate check.  The Imps are invisible until combat starts.  Unless the party somehow detects the Imps or pierces the Hag’s illusion, they gain a Surprise Round against the party.
Treasure: The Hag has a large jade orb (100 gp), a silk handkerchief embroidered with a fancy gold “P” (25 gp), a small mirror set into a lacquered wooden frame (25 gp), and a set of engraved bone dice (25 gp).  The handkerchief once belonged to Baron Pavelovitch’s mother, and the baron will therefore pay double its value to get it back if he learns that the party has it.  The Hag also has 1,200 cp, 1400 sp, and 60 gp in a chest under a loose floorboard.
6. Lizardfolk Encampment
Oddly enough, the Green Hag’s directions prove to be accurate.  If the party bypassed her lair, however, they will need to spend two days searching the swamps, making two successful Survival checks (DC 12) in a row--to spot lizardfolk tracks that lead in the camp’s direction--in order to find the camp.  On a failed check, the party encounters Wandering Monsters and must start over on their two successive checks.
The lizardfolk have a fairly strong force guarding their camp’s perimeter.
Encounter: 3 – 5 Lizardfolk
                 2 – 3 Crocodiles
Once the party is through the perimeter, they can quickly work their way through a series of huts occupied by lizardfolk females and young, until they come at last to the center circle of the village.  A campfire stands lit at the center of the circle, surrounded by arcane runes.  Several dinosaur eggs sit near the fire as well, inside the circle of the runes.  A Lizardfolk Shaman chants around the runes, working some kind of ritual on the eggs.  He is joined by the Lizard King and a Bearded Devil.
Encounter: 1 x Lizardfolk King
                 1 x Lizardfolk Shaman
                 1 x Bearded Devil
A DC 15 Arcana or Religion check reveals that the Lizardfolk Shaman is summoning more Bearded Devils using the ritual circle, and that the dinosaur eggs are the sacrificial fuel powering the ritual.  If this is allowed to continue, it can lead to nothing good for the people of the local area.
Treasure: The Lizardfolk King is wearing a necklace made of agates, malachites, and dinosaur teeth (100 gp).  In the largest hut in the camp, the party further finds 75 gp, 52 ep, 865 sp, two Potions of Healing, and one Potion of Greater Healing.

Denoument

After defeating the lizardfolk in their own encampment, the party can either return to Breakwater Bay and collect their reward from Baron Pavelovitch, or they can head back to the cave where they left Victoria.  Victoria then escorts them into the upper Underdark, to her home at House Vantiss.  But that is another story...
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Support this Blog:
I write these adventures because I like gaming but also as a way to attract interest in this blog and in my writing in general.  My book, Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki, is out for the Kindle App and on Patreon.  The follow-up, Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto, is out as of November 29, 2015.  Both are D&D-style fantasy adventures; they use the same WTF-style plotting that I use in my RPG content.  If you liked any of my RPG stuff, you will probably like my fiction, too.
I’m not asking you to buy anything right now.  However, if you’re looking for something to read on the beach this summer, and you have a tablet, please at least consider checking out some of the Sneax stories.  There are several free ones up on my Patreon page.  If you like those, and you want to support this blog, then buy my book(s).  That is by far the best way to support my writing.
Thanks in advance.
Previous Adventure Articles:
 -- The Mystery of Malven Manor (blog post & PDF)
 -- Journey through Crocodile Crossroads (blog post)
 -- Story Starter: The Demon’s True Name (blog post & PDF)
 -- The Mystery of Mordecai’s Monster (En5ider article, $2)
 -- Expanding Mordecai’s Monster (blog post)
 -- The Fall of Cahokiantep (blog post & PDF)
 -- Zeke's Mine (blog post & PDF)

2 comments:

  1. On behalf of myself and my PCs I would like to thank you for these great storys. I have DMed on and off for 4 years but only recently started with 5th ed. I was also hoping you would know any more storys like these. Regardless, thank you for your work.

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    Replies
    1. Luke,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. The response to your question got so long that I decided to turn it into its own blog post. You can find it here:

      http://dannos-lair.blogspot.com/2015/07/fan-mail.html

      Glad you've been enjoying my work!

      Delete