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d100 Swamp Finds

A  list of 100 found objects, unexpected sights, and strange encounters for your players to discover whilst trekking through the muck, mire, and treacherous waterways of the swamp.

Written by John Teehan

What mysteries and danger await within the swamp?

When your player’s characters are forced to traverse a swamp, you know things are about to get weird, wet, and creepy. Swamps really do represent the whole circle-of-life concept where growth and decay exist side by side.

Swamps can be tricky to traverse given the many types of terrain and waterways. While some wetlands have fairly sturdy ground built upon centuries of layers of moss and rich soil, others are brackish waterways concealing many dangers. Channels through some swamps may have little to stand on save clumps of above-water roots and patches of grass with muddy soil.

The twisted trees grow in a tangle of branches and vines, competing for precious sunlight, but shrouding much of the ground in darkness. Who can’t help but feel a little uneasy?

Add to all of that slimy lichens, wet moss, suspicious fungi, and other exotic vegetation that could come alive at any moment, swamps surely aren’t for the faint of heart.

Characters traveling through your swamp may come across all manner of strange objects and sights. Some innocuous, some wondrous. Some mundane, and some inexplicably magical.How to use this list

This list of 100 things to find in a swamp is yours to use the next time your player’s characters make that unforgettable, wet journey across the marsh. Whether they’re treading carefully across damp, mossy earth, or wading hip-deep in waters hiding vicious creatures, this list gives them many additional items and sights to experience.

Review the list and pick out some favorites for your next campaign or take a chance and roll a d100.

Every fifth listed item is something more memorable if you want to get straight to the exceptional stuff, in that case, just roll a d20 and multiply by five to see what your players find.

d100 Swamp Finds

1. The rotting remains of a wooden barge. The wooden parts are weak and will not support much weight. The metal parts are rusted. The whole thing is covered with a slippery green sheen. It is home to numerous snakes.
2. A broken wooden wagon wheel. It looks maybe a month old. There are no roads nearby.
3. A frog wearing a tiny little crown. It swims or jumps away and disappears before it can be caught.
4. An old boot filled with brackish water. If players really dig into it, there are three gold coins in the toe.
5. A small stone that gives off a continuous soft greenish light. This is a permanent effect and is non-magical.
6. A severed skeletal hand (left) holding a more-recently severed hand (right).
7. A length of rusty chains hanging from a thick branch.
8. A moss-covered elf skull wedged in where a branch meets its tree.
9. A fixed illusion of a candle set atop a rotten log. Its flame gives off a soft light but emits no heat. Only a powerful spell of dispelling magic will cause it to disappear.
10. A simple straw broom. It gives off a magical aura. All it really does, though, is sweep better than any broom you’ve ever seen.
11. A sealed scroll case. Inside is an irritated venomous snake.
12. Buried in mud and grass, three alligator eggs.
13. A perfectly spherical ball of white marble measuring about a foot in diameter.
14. A rusted metal shopping cart. (I mean, why not? Have you ever seen a swamp without a random shopping cart stuck in it?)
15. A silver whistle that summons the nearest hostile creature.
16. The skeletal remains of a dwarven warrior. Its weapons and armor are all in varying stages of decay.
17. A bird on a nearby branch looks at the party, utters the word “Oops!” then flies off.
18. Vines producing white flowers surround an old tree. The scent is sweet and comforting.
19. A dwarven handaxe is sticking out of a tree. There are remains of hemp rope tied about its handle.
20. Characters hear a muffled sound coming from the ground. A little digging reveals a gold coin showing the head of a man who is always singing. The coin emits a loud operatic song in an unknown language that never, ever ends. Ever. High-level magic will remove the effect. Attempts to otherwise melt or destroy the coin are unsuccessful.
21. A hangman’s noose hangs ominously from a nearby tree branch. The rope is new and fresh. There are no signs of recent travelers.
22. Walking along, the ground makes a wet burping sound, and a small pouch filled with 30 gold (or silver) coins appears from beneath the visible surface. It’s damp and muddy but in otherwise good condition. There is no trap here. Nothing more than a previously buried bit of treasure appearing because swamp gasses have been slowly pushing it upward, and the presence of the party was just enough to reveal it. The ground is very soft but will take normal-weighted players just fine.
23. An old skeleton key, balanced upon a rock which in turn is balanced on a log which sits level upon the skeletal remains of a gigantic lizard-like creature (T-Rex)
24. A tree stump with a dozen arrows sticking out of it.
25. A perfect doppelganger of one of the party members hangs from a tree by a noose. As soon as any character touches it, the doppelgänger turns into water. Anyone caught in the splash zone will experience significant feelings of dread for the foreseeable future.
26. An empty wine bottle. Empty, that is, if you don’t count the rib bone. Expert, specialized knowledge might recognize it as the rib bone of a young female elf.
27. A large sack of old rabbit remains.
28. A ceremonial dagger with gold and pearl inlays. Valuable, but useless in a fight.
29. A heavy iron helm of the sort worn by dwarves a thousand years ago. Rust spots adorn it, but otherwise surprisingly durable and even wearable once cleaned.
30. Three spectral witches surround a spectral cauldron. They talk about some event that will happen to the party in the near future. As soon as the party interacts with them in any way, the ghostly figures shimmer away.
31. A porcelain teapot. Dirty and filled with muck, but in good condition.
32. A large petrified egg.
33. A wooden basket on which grow numerous mushrooms.
34. A tree festooned with bright purple flowers.
35. A strange clockwork humanoid-shaped figure is sprawled on the ground. It’s made entirely of wood—wood which has decayed to the point of pure interoperability. It’s impossible to make out how it worked because it’s so rotted and wet.
36. A feral chicken.
37. A deer hide stretched between two trees.
38. A large cast-iron cauldron half-filled with brackish water. At the very bottom is a human finger with a silver ring (non-magical).
39. A pile of enormous feathers in the middle of a jump of grass forming an empty, abandoned nest.
40. A silly-looking mud creature comes out of the ground and attacks the party. It does very little damage but is impervious to physical attacks. Fire or ice spells will slow it down, but as it’s bound to this area, players can simply move out of range and continue on their way.
41. A bag of squirrel bones
42. A pile of smooth stones carefully stacked 10-high.
43. The image of a sword floating in a pool of green water. It’s an illusion, and disturbing the water makes it disappear.
44. Fifty or so small peep toads chirp loudly inside a hollowed-out log. It’s very crowded in there, and the acoustics make them very, very loud. Repeated banging on the log will gradually break up the party and quiet things down.
45. A small wooden bowl floats in a pool of brackish water. Water that is placed in the bowl is purified, and any poisons are removed.
46. A hat. Looks kind of new.
47. An impenetrable wall of thorny vines 10 feet high, 20 feet thick, and stretching across the players’ path for a good mile in both directions.
48. A leash for a three-headed dog?
49. A decaying hand reaching up piteously from the center of a bog. Should the party investigate further, they may find a remarkable preserved (but still dead) merchant robbed of his valuables.
50. A jeweled chalice sits in a clearing. Sun (or moon) light shines down on it in a majestic shaft of light. It gives off a magic aura. It’s power? Summoning a majestic beam of glowing light. Outdoor use only.
51. A rotted wooden crate covered with moss and glowing white mushrooms.
52. Small blue flowers hanging from vines that make little bell-like sounds when disturbed.
53. A bird whistles a portion of a well-known piece of church music then flies off.
54. A broken drum.
55. A long-forgotten skeleton wearing rotting leather armor sits propped up against a tree. Around its neck is a compass that always points to danger.
56. A half-buried hurricane lamp. Water has leaked into the oil reservoir, and the wick is waterlogged.
57. A large boulder sits improbably in the middle of the swamp. It weighs as much as one would expect, but also floats in the water. It’s too large to get far, though, given brush and trees.
58. A skillfully stuffed squirrel dressed as a wizard.
59. A small, waterproof pouch filled with a dry, white powder. (Chalkdust)
60. Spiders. Ohmigod. So very many little black spiders start attacking from every direction. They get inside clothes and armor. They bite. Not deadly, but enough bites will slow a character down for 24 hours. Killing them only attracts more. The only strategy is to move out of the area. It would be a shame if a DM put something intriguing there for the players to investigate.
61. A torn leather map depicting the area between the nearest settlement and this area of swamp.
62. A leather-bound journal with severe water damage. Unreadable. If restored by magic, it reveals the writings of a bard who has gotten lost in this swamp and fears is being followed by something hungry and evil.
63. A small, flat-bottomed boat. It can hold two people but will break if used in any way other than gently.
64. A rusty sprung bear trap. In its metal jaws is the foot of some kind of humanoid.
65. A small pool of water gives off a comforting glow. Within 15 feet of its edges is a very calming version of a zone of truth.
66. In the branches of a tree are signs of people having taken refuge there for a long time. There are old claw marks up and down the trunk of the tree.
67. Two left shoes made of leather. They’re high-quality shoes, but covered in muck and filled with mud. Inside one shoe is a small fragment of bone.
68. A doll’s head just…just laying there out in the open.
69. An unexpected and unseasonably cold breeze that lasts a full minute.
70. A long broad pipe peaks out of a leather bag. It’s in good condition. When used with any tobacco, there is a 50% chance the smoke reveals whispy versions of places known to the smoker and what is currently happening there. User can attempt this three times a day, but can only have one success.
71. Out of all the surrounding trees, there is one that is absolutely covered in cobwebs.
72. A large, locked wooden chest containing several sets of fine clothing wrapped in waterproof canvas.
73. A full, complete skeleton of a draft horse covered in moss.
74. A single footprint of an improbably large three-toed creature.
75. Stuck in the ground is a mysterious wand. Any player can use it. It has one unrecoverable charge. Its spell is unknown. (DM’s discretion)
76. A pamphlet describing the next settlement or structure the players are going to.
77. The ground gives way to a sucking bog that begins to drag everyone under!
78. The smell of rotten eggs.
79. Set atop a log is an hourglass with no sand and a small note that reads, “Time is running out.”
80. A fearsome creature of muck and mud rears out of the ground, towers over the party, lets out a mighty roar, then collapses and disappears.
81. A sealed, water and air-tight box containing dried meats and fruits.
82. 13 walnuts arranged in a circle on the ground.
83. An empty quiver hanging from a tree branch. A bird is living inside.
84. A glass jar with a sealed lid. If the jar is broken or the cover is removed, the party hears a burst of hideous laughter that fades away after a few seconds.
85. A body is found tied to a tree. It’s long dead, and its chest is full of arrows as if it were the subject of an execution. On a finger is a cursed ring. Those accompanying the wearer suffer disadvantage on _all_ rolls until the player is dead. (The wearer does not suffer the same penalties. The ring can only be removed by death, cutting off the finger, or potent magic.)
86. A crude humanoid figure erected on a stake made of dried vine and mud blocks the way. A warning?
87. A feral black cat in a tree.
88. A small harp with no strings.
89. An unsuccessful campfire setup.
90. A goblin skull sits on the ground. Scratched in the dirt before it is the word “ask.” The skull will answer three questions (in goblin) at DM’s discretion before crumbling into dust.
91. A gold coin nailed into a tree.
92. A pile of dead fish. Probably not more than a day old.
93. A flock of crows sit on nearby trees and begin cawing loudly as the party approaches. A random party member’s name can be heard among the cawing. Then the crows all take off at once and fly away.
94. A small, long-forgotten stone shrine to a moon deity.
95. A vial of blue liquid is hidden in a hole in an old tree. Most likely, some kind of healing potion.
96. An eyeball to an unknown creature floating in a pool of black water.
97. An old steel gauntlet sized for something much larger than human.
98. A bolt of linen decorated with gold thread. The outer layers are pretty much ruined, but the inner parts are salvageable.
99. The remains of a shark-like creature approximately 10 ft long.
100. On an old, large tree are carved all the party members’ names who are not elves. Any members who have died have been crossed out. Any members who are just missing have a check next to their name.

Have fun mucking about in the muck!

d100 Forest Finds

d100 Mountain Finds

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Wild Thing & When the Ship Goes Down

 

Today I’m going to take a look at AaW’s only (so far) A-series adventure that does not take place in the frontier-town of Rybalka:

 

Wild Thing

 

This module is 62 pages long,  1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, we are left with a total of 57 pages, so let’s check this one out!

 

This pdf is the first of Adventureaweek.com‘s modules that does not take place in the wintry peninsula that contains the settlement of Rybalka and instead begins in the city of Cherrian’s Rest, which is loyal to the Black Gold Consortium at the border of a vast swamp. Thus, we are first introduced to the city and its surrounding, swampy area as well as diseases, infestations, complex rules for bug bites and even a rather large table for environmental and meteorological circumstances, assigning random encounters to the respective conditions. And yes, black gold is essentially oil…

 

That out of the way, the following text contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion!

 

Still here? All right! The PCs are hired to find a missing boat called the “Wasp” and especially the beautiful maiden and chief negotiator Sandalia, who’s been aboard. In order to navigate the swamp, the PCs will have to charter one of 3 vessels, all of which come with their own respective stats. It should be mentioned, though, that these vessels use a simplified abstract rule-set, not Paizo’s naval combat rules. What’s quite cool is the introduction of swamp points: Depending on the vessel and the captain’s skill, the PCs may spend swamp points to avoid random encounters. While abstract, this simple mechanic adds a tad bit of tactic to the exploration and serves as a nice justification for the DM to spring some unpleasant encounters in the way of the PCs. After checking the ship’s last known whereabouts, the PCs will have to track the missing ship, only to find a shipwreck and the gruesome reminders of the attack that cost the lives of most crew-men. After that, unfortunately for them, it’s time for some exploration, sand-box style: The PCs may, via logical thinking, find an abandoned camp-site on one of the islands and there encounter an empty potion bottle that once contained a variation of a philtre of love – the plot thickens.

 

A more gruesome encounter with an undead family in an old cabin may also provide for rather disturbing encounter at the island of traveler’s rest, but sooner or later, the PCs will have to brave the Fire Fields: Here, highly volatile, flammable gas erupts  from the ground and being from the elemental plane of fire roam free. Finally, the Big Rock hearkens and after an exhausting climb, the PCs will find a cave. Unfortunately for them, the inhabitants have prepared themselves: the approach of them cavern is riddled with traps and especially the zigzagging way down the side of a cliff will provide for an interesting challenge against the bog troll Nimbit and the girl who loves him. The missing Sandalia, alchemically manipulated by drinking the potion of true love the PCs may or may have not found, are actually happy and have prepared this gauntlet to get rid of his brothers, who don’t look kindly upon the budding, unlikely romance of the two. The finale thus may have the PCs not only fighting Nimbit’s brothers, but also make an interesting decision: Whether to wed the strange couple or kill Nimbit and drag the screaming Sandalia back to civilization.

 

The pdf also comes with new magical items, full stats for the creatures featured in the module in 3.5 and PFRPG-stats and THANKFULLY again player-friendly maps, which omit traps! Hell yeah! Especially the map of the area surrounding Cherrian’s Rest without any letters is awesome: Give it to the players and have them explore! This should be the standard for such wilderness sections.

DriveThruRPG.com

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect: I did notice some minor glitches. Layout adheres to Adventureaweek.com’s two-column standard and the pdf comes with an extra version sans backgrounds. The pdf is fully bookmarked and provides hero-lab files as well. The maps are of the high standard I’ve come to expect from AaW, while the cartoonish artworks left me cold – my PCs probably won’t get to see them. This adventure is interesting to say the least: While a more detailed look/map of Cherrian’s Rest would have been nice, that’s only the starting point of the module and this one actually delivers something interesting: The mini-game with the swamp-ships/skiffs makes for a neat idea and adds a bit of depths to the exploration of the swamp.

The sandboxy formula makes adding encounters easy and journeying through the Fire Fields will definitely be a memorable experience. Seeing the hints spread throughout the module come together, we’re in for an interesting take of the “Beauty and the Beast”-trope that has more than one resolution and thankfully does not dissolve into a simple good/evil-conflict, but a question of ethics, emotion and  the subjectivity of free will. Or you could just kill everything. The zigzagging escape down a cliff makes for an at first somewhat hard to grasp, but interesting showdown. So, what’s my final verdict, then? For the low price of $5.00, you get quite a bit bang for your buck and the module once again provides some interesting, uncommon situation and mechanics. In contrast to “Icecrag Monastery”, we thankfully get original environmental factors, neat ideas like the bug-sting/bite-system etc. to drive home how unpleasant the swamp can truly be. Thus, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars due to the minor glitches and none-too-great artwork and round down for the purpose of this platform – Wild Thing was an enjoyable experience and can be considered to rank among the best of the AaW-modules so far.

 

And I’m going to introduce you to one of my favorite modules by AaW so far:

 

When the Ship Goes Down

This pdf is 78 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/front cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 74 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

 

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.

 

All right! Still here? The weather around Rybalka has not been the best and that is an understatement of epic proportions. When the seasoned captain Duglig Merimies (identified via a captain’s token – a cool piece of culture that is also represented via a neat artwork) is found adrift in the seas, his tongue missing, dead and tied to crates, something is obviously amiss and it’s up to the PCs to find out what happened and accompany  captain Ertaran Honamatrus. After an extensive research-section (nice),  there unfortunately are some problems – Huriendor, obviously upset about the PCs (by now probably accomplished heroes in and around Rybalka) leaving and has gathered a mob to keep their precious heroes – thus we are introduced to the first cool bit of crunch in this module – a crowd-control tug of war between the sailors and the Rybalkan locals, both groups of which want the PCs. That is, the Pcs are not facing a straight-forward combat, but rather a complex, yet easy to run and ultimately more or less harmless and fun encounter, which may nevertheless turn easily ugly, making this perhaps the best introductory scenes in the whole line of adventures and making it rather easy for the DM to make his PCs encounter the results of their actions from prior adventures.

 

The journey per se will be a kind of paper chase aboard the vessel and feature elementals, a potentially friendly ice roc that may clear up what has happened and even an ice-water Elasmosaurus. And then, they reach the island that is the location of the adventure. AaW does it again. Turns out that the strange weather phenomena are the result of an artifact, the Troposheroscope: Housing a shard of the sun (see also the latest Pathways e-zine…), the device was utilized and kept in the care of a storm giant’s floating island. Unfortunately, said keeper has died in a maintenance accident of the device, which has promptly turned haywire. Worse yet, the floating island’s keel has been torn off by a collision with a cliff, flipping the whole floating island upside down. Yes. The PCs will have to explore a floating, upside down fortress of a storm giant above a lake. Now if that’s not awesome, what is? Even better,  the top of the structure is guarded by multiple traps that belong to the good category – they can be observed and worked around, much like good puzzles. The location also gets neat artworks and the fortress itself is plain awesome – magical horns, a devious trap (paralysis, gelatinous cubes, force cages – ouch!) including a respective warning, mobs of mephits, a library (including 3 sample, rather interesting  books) and one of the funniest ways to die, impaled by giant cutlery, are part of the deal. Have I mentioned the electro-hydra and the showdown against 2 young blue dragons (tundra is also a kind of desert, after all)  that comes with hoards as well as a selection of tactics? And after the PCs have braved this section of the island, they still have to navigate the upside-down caverns (with side-view map) and stop the malfunctioning artifact and defeat the now undead former keeper of the weather-control device while solving the puzzle on how to disable the artifact and avoiding its deadly blasts. Ladies and gentlemen – THIS is a climax worthy of the name! Iconic, challenging, with both a cool location, an interesting adversary and even a puzzle strewn in, this is an awesome final battle… that may see essentially a kind of magical equivalent of an atomic bomb in the hands of the PCs to determine whom to give the artifact or keep it themselves. I know that my players would try to keep it, if only to give new credence to the phrase “blaze of glory” – removing the lead from the shard, they’d look at a whopping 444 points of damage – some forces are not for mortals to tamper with…

 

26 pages are taken up by the full stats of the creatures encountered herein, both for PFRPG and 3.5. We also get player-friendly versions of all maps in the module, and a map of Rybalka and a typical Rybalkan house.

DriveThruRPG.com

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches that would have impeded my enjoyment. Layout adheres to the Pre-B2-two-column layout and the maps, as I’ve come to expect by AaW, are top-notch. The artworks are ok. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and while the player handout bookmark doesn’t work, it’s nested bookmarks do work – no harm done. The pdf comes with a second, printer-friendly version. At the time of me writing this review, Herolab files have not yet been added, but I’m positive they will. This module is AaW at their best – an awesome, iconic location, a cool mini-game, internal consistency, cool effects and a climax that deserves the name and provides us with an excellent set of cool effects. The only potential gripe a DM should be aware of is that the Pcs may very well end this adventure with a powerful weapon of destruction that they may use as a last resort – at the cost of all their lives. However, this is easily remedied by making it impossible to dismantle said tool. Let me say it again: This one of the modules that is not only good, it is excellent, fun and exciting and your players will enjoy exploring the cool location. My final verdict for this one will be 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.

 

As always, thank you for reading my ramblings!

Endzeitgeist out.