Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Alternate Win Conditions in D&D

After playing D&D for nearly four decades I have developed some habits as a Dungeon Master. One of them is using alternate win conditions for battles with boss level monsters and villains. Some while back I really became numb to the concept of hit points, especially in high level play. Far to often the battles felt like the players were just chopping down a tree...with a dull axe. Before going any further, I understand that style of play still appeals to some people. I’m not saying there's anything wrong with it. I just do not prefer it any longer.

I used the chess image to the right on purpose. There are countless possible games which eventually lead to a victory in chess. With that foundation in mind, let's explore how alternate win conditions can be used in D&D.

Hit points are not cinematic. Hit points are something the players can meta game as damage is dealt. Hit points are just a piece of the puzzle for me, not the whole thing. A well placed critical hit could potentially one shot an important story boss. The rest of the players are left with dice in hand, bummed how anti-climatic the battle was. Sure, sometimes as a DM you NEED to let that happen. Especially if everyone is cheering and excited at the result. After all, you’re the casino with endless resources to throw against the players. Those are game day calls and only you can decide what is best for your group and story.

So what are alternate win conditions? Well if you’ve ever played a video game you have seen them. They are best defined as a series of tasks which must be completed BEFORE you can defeat the boss. This defeat could be directly or indirectly, the latter being my favorite. I think the best way to show this is by example:

Alternate Win Condition (Direct)

For this scenario I will detail what a boss fight typically looks like versus one updated with alternate win conditions.

Final Room A: When the PCs enter this chamber the Goblin King will be seated on his throne comprised of yellowed bone. To his left and right are two Hobgoblin Guards. He will yell out in the blackened tongue, “Destroy the interlopers!” Note: The Goblin King counts as a hobgoblin with maximum hit points. In addition, he has two attacks per round.

Final Room B: When the PCs enter this chamber the Goblin King will be seated on his throne comprised of yellowed bone. Upon seeing the PCs he will cackle evilly and vanish into wispy smoke. If the PCs advance on the throne they hear a series of clicks. Two pieces of rune covered obsidian rise from the floor on either side of the room.

These stones will summon 1d4+1 Goblin Skeletons every round until disarmed (DC15 Sleight of Hand), disenchanted (DC15 Arcana), or destroyed (DC15 Athletics check). Any summoned goblin skeletons will defend the stones if necessary, using their reaction to impose disadvantage on a PC rolls.

In addition, the Goblin King is considered ethereal while the stones remain active. A DC15 Arcana check will reveal creatures that aren't on the Ethereal Plane can't interact with him, unless they have an ability or magic that allows this. That said, his awful cackle somehow reverberates throughout the chamber. Once the stones are deactivated the cowardly Goblin King will reappear, groveling for his life.

Goblin King - Aradia Miniatures

In the above example the players have to work more as a team to defeat this boss. The Goblin King is not just a bag of Hit Points. Since the stones work as monster generators, there is still a combat aspect to the encounter. This keeps the players who enjoy that style of play happy. Finally, the Goblin King could escape to menace the players another day if you so choose. Either way, the PCs have defeated him this time!

Alternate Win Condition (Indirect)

This style of win condition works better in campaigns that are more story based. It’s usually a gradual thing as the PCs slowly chip away at the villain and foil plans. In one of my current campaigns the main villain doesn't even have stats written to a character sheet. He has carefully worked his machinations throughout the realm causing all sorts of chaos. NO, this villain is far too intelligent to risk direct confrontation! The players have been defeating his plans and lieutenants along the way. With each of their victories his power lessons and his plots and allies are exposed. That said, the constant threat of this villain hangs like a dark cloud over them. He strikes back whenever he can...but may be weakening.

I encourage you to find ways to incorporate alternate win conditions into your sessions when dealing with boss level encounters. Even though D&D finds its foundation in war games not every battle needs to be decided with hit points. I think by mixing it up once in a while you will keep the sessions fresh for your players and have them thinking of new ways to use their character abilities. Even better, occasionally a player will dream up an alternate win condition on the spot. This is the stuff of legends! Embrace it and create a story your group will talk about for years to come.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Adventuring Gear: The Crowbar

The Crowbar. It’s perfect for prying open doors, removing nails, smashing glass, using the sharpened end as a chisel, or even an improvised weapon. Is there one in your adventuring pack? If not, there should be.

According to the etymology dictionary, it was once simply known as crow; so called from its "beak" or from resemblance to a crow's foot; or possibly it is from crows, from Old French cros, plural of croc "hook."

To get started let’s look at the Crowbar as presented in the current 5E rules:

Using a crowbar grants advantage to Strength Checks where the crowbar's leverage can be applied.

Obviously the use of one in some circumstances requires DM adjudication, but a crowbar is super useful. Advantage to ANY roll is kind of a big deal. Someone in your party should have one of these.

So how can we home-brew the crowbar a tad? Well for one I would house rule they do the same damage as a club, and are not really an improvised weapon. Just ask Gordon Freeman in Half-life. It seems like something most dwarves would be familiar with, especially if they come from a line of miners. A well constructed crowbar would be useful in prying apart seams or just to break rock.

I would imagine the most coveted would be an adamantine crowbar. Which is interesting since the fabled metal was recently featured in Xanathar’s Guide To Everything:

Adamantine is an ultrahard metal found in meteorites and extraordinary mineral veins. In addition to being used to craft adamantine armor, the metal is also used for weapons. Melee weapons and ammunition made of or coated with adamantine are unusually effective when used to break objects. Whenever an adamantine weapon or piece of ammunition hits an object, the hit is a critical hit. The adamantine version of a melee weapon or of ten pieces of ammunition costs 500 gp more than the normal version, whether the weapon or ammunition is made of the metal or coated with it.

An automatic critical hit against objects? Sign me up! What if the dwarves took it a step further and crafted a Spearbar? All the benefits of being a lever, chisel and a nasty piercing weapon. This would be a tool/treasure worth coveting for any dungeoneer!

Below Youtuber Chasen Tom did just that minus the adamantine...I think!

I’m a big fan of mundane equipment as it harkens back to old school D&D. Descriptive play was the thing. We made good use of every tool at our disposal as we explored the dungeon. This was more then just consulting skills and rolling dice. Rather an invitation to be a better player, a better DM and ultimately a more imaginative gamer. I invite you to read over the adventuring gear section of the Player’s Handbook, you may be surprised at what you find!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Magic Item: Mind Steel Coif

This very rare chain coif is created by the Githyanki* in the Astral Plane. Legend holds that over the epochs they found ways to avoid the terrible mind attacks of those whom enslaved them. The coifs are crafted from Mind Steel. This priceless ore is said to be the crystallized blood of a dead celestial being. How the Githyanki are able to work it into wearable armor is the subject of debate among the arcane.

Designed by Vanessa Walilko, @KaliButterfly
Mind Steel Coif

Requires Attunement

You gain the following benefits while wearing it:

  • Resistance to Psychic damage.
  • A Mind Flayer must spend one round removing the Mind Steel Coif before using its Extract Brain ability.
  • The coif also protects the wearer from the dark whispers of things unimaginable. Once per long rest you may gain advantage on a Wisdom Saving throw against an effect caused by an aberration.

You gain the following hindrances while wearing it:

  • The coif does resemble an alien Mind Flayer or a metal octopus from the briny depths. The wearer is viewed with unusual suspicion, which causes disadvantage on all Charisma based checks.
  • Finally, Aberrations will take special interest in destroying a Mind Steel Coif. Their servants may actively try to steal it, or worse be sent to dispatch the wearer. 

*For the uninitiated the Githyanki are astral sea dwellers who were once enslaved by a malevolent and cthulhu-esque race known as the Illithid or Mind Flayers. The Githyanki first appeared in the 1979 issue #12 of White Dwarf, in the "Fiend Factory" column. However, they are most famous for being depicted on the cover of the 1981 AD&D book, Fiend Folio. Interestingly, the name Githyanki was first coined by George R. R. Martin in his 1977 sci-fi novel Dying of the Light.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Estoc

The Estoc, also dubbed the Tuck or Panzerstecher, is a two-handed thrusting sword, from the 14th-17th centuries. To this day the Estoc is often mistaken for a long sword or rapier. This was a weapon made to defeat opponents wearing heavy armor. The blade normally had no edge and was designed to deliver terrible stabbing wounds. The rigidity and durability of its triangular point pierced mail after finding entry through seams or joints.

As a sidearm that specialized in defeating armor-clad opponents, it was not terribly common. Although it was a weapon of war, the Estoc was occasionally used in some tournaments. The combatants sparred with the dull blade without fear of seriously injuring each other. This approach translated to the battlefield as a makeshift club to beat on an opponent in a real confrontation.

The Estoc also found use by some cavalry as a light lance. That said, it was not a replacement for a slashing sword or similar weapon. Instead they were a complement to a warrior’s tool belt of arms and equipment.

I decided to make a 5E D&D version to add to my campaign world. After all, adventurers encounter heavily armored opponents! After a few variations I believe it's unique enough to deserve a spot on the weapons chart:

Estoc & Rapier

Damage: 1d8

Damage Type: Piercing*

Item Type: Martial Melee

Properties: Armor Piercing (Advantage against opponents using Heavy Armor).

*Special: The Estoc can be used as a club for 1d6 bludgeoning damage. It does not benefit from its Armor Piercing property when doing so.

Cost: 200 GP (They are hard to find).

Weight: 4

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Diary of a Lich

          Vita non est vivere sed valere vita est -
       Life is more than just being alive
One of the things I have pondered over the years is what intelligent undead do with all their spare time. Especially powerful wizards such as a lich. Sure, they continue researching magic, or devise traps to protect their possessions. The latter would be especially true when dealing with their phylactery. What if the lich out of sheer boredom began penning a diary or journal?

This could be something interesting for the PCs to find. The book could be loaded with all sorts of adventure hooks and campaign information. Next to its phylactery, it may be the single most important personal possession of the lich. Surely the PCs would make a life long enemy by taking it or happening upon it.

This could also make for a wonderful table prop by using a real book and hand writing the entries. It may be a tad laborious on the Dungeon Master’s part, but the players will love it. I was just looking at several leather-bound journals at Barnes & Noble and they would be perfect. The pages could easily be aged with some instant coffee staining. Moreover, if you make a mistake while writing just tear out a page. It may look even more authentic and raise all sorts of questions for the PCs.

Below I have created some sample entries to get you started:

-Campaign date- It has been months since I could articulate my fingers to write. Therefore, I’m using the Mage Hand incantation to pen this entry. Undeath is a curious thing indeed. I feel numb most days. Then I have brief episodes of feeling. Or perhaps it’s just deep memories. My research will continue.

Demilich by William Owsley
-Campaign date- I think years have passed. Time has no meaning to me now. My last entry is curious. Did I really think I was feeling anything? Now I know better. Life makes me angry now. I want to snuff it out like a candle flame. Life is short and wasteful. I accomplished little then. My peers made sure to remind me of that. 

-Campaign date- Most of them are gone now. Their end will never be solved. I wanted to experience pleasure. Their deaths bring me none. But my mind still understands revenge. Their spell books have been buried away. Their families will never find them. Only four Shadow Oaks exist in the forests of the world.

-Campaign date- Oh my, that last entry must have been one hundred years ago. Today a company of thieves entered my abode. They begged for their lives, proclaiming to just be adventurers. The elven woman was a talented wizard. I commended her on dispelling one of my enchantments. To bad I had to disintegrate her. I would have enjoyed discussing arcane treatises. They did leave me all these lovely magic items. I will place them in the invisible chest – making a note in case I forget.
-Campaign date- I have been experimenting with using a grain of sand as a potential phylactery. In fact, I’ve become quite obsessed with this idea. My last several attempts were unsuccessful. I need to find sand that originates from inside an elemental volcano. I will send servants claim such a place.

-Campaign date- I just found this old tome in my library. I wonder who authored all this nonsense? Is this a trick? Why is everyone always trying to trick me? I will find whoever the interloper is!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Twenty Questions with Rose Estes

In 1983 I was given a few Endless Quest books for my birthday. Already voraciously consuming anything Dungeons & Dragons related I could find, these were a great gift. The idea of a book where you could make story choices and change the outcome was a great concept. After all this was the very spirit of the game, where the players are crafting the story at the table together.

For me the Endless Quest books were just another reason to love D&D in the 1980s. I poured over each of them dozens of times, trying every possible outcome. My young imagination was on fire and these little books were fueling it. Now so many years later I have passed the books onto my own children, who similarly have enjoyed them.

Rose Estes was the creator of the Endless Quest series, and a name that will always be dear to me. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Rose recently, and would like to share it below.

Twenty Questions with Rose Estes

Grand DM: What was it like working at TSR Hobbies in the 1980s?

Rose Estes: Working for TSR in the early 1980's was very, very exciting. You knew that you were part of something important and that it was headed nowhere but UP! You never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next, but it was only going to be good in the long (and definitely in the short) run. You had the sense of being on a fast-moving train and all that you could do was hold on tight. It was exhilarating and every morning one wondered and looked forward to: "what will happen today?!"

Grand DM: Did you ever have a chance to interface with Gary Gygax?

Rose Estes: In the early 80's Gary's office was only a few doors down the hall and everyone interacted. Gary was obviously leader of the pack, but he was available to all.

Grand DM: I read my first Endless Quest book in 1983. As a young Dungeons & Dragons player, those stories really resonated with me. Could you tell us how the Endless Quest books came about?

Rose Estes: Well, in 1982 I took a leave of absence to travel with friends who were part of a tent circus, I figured that it would make for interesting newspaper articles. I had been with them for only a few weeks when we set up in Decorah, Iowa and went to town to do some laundry. There was a bookcase and books that one could borrow or buy and I picked up one of R.A. Montgomery's Choose Your Own Adventure books. I realized instantly that the books would be the perfect method of explaining D&D to both adults and kids. It had been my job to try to explain the game to adults, most of whom disapproved of the game without understanding it. So, I cut short my trip and called a friend to come and get me.

When I returned I tried my best to convince the powers that be that TSR should do a Choose Your Own Adventure type of book. But the idea met with little interest despite my many attempts to convince them otherwise. Finally, annoyed that I kept on about the idea I was told that if I thought it was a good idea, I should write it myself.

The thought had never occurred to me. I had worked as a journalist, but had never written or even envisioned writing fiction. But I was so aggravated that I did just that, I went home and wrote the first of what would become the Endless Quest series, "Return to Brookmere." I wrote it longhand on legal pads.

Eventually, the project was introduced at a Random House TSR sales meeting in Puerto Rico in January of 1982. The upshot was that Random House was very familiar with Montgomery's series and agreed that it was a perfect vehicle for introducing D&D to a wider audience. I was tasked with writing three more books in the next three months which I did, all in long hand on legal pads.

Grand DM: Return to Brookmere is a personal favorite of mine. So much that I have often included the “Ruins of Brookmere” in my own D&D campaigns. I was curious what your inspiration for that story may have been?

Rose Estes: "Return to Brookmere" was actually the first book, not "Dungeon of Dread." I had lived in the tiny town (pop. 16) of Brookmere high in the mountains of British Columbia, 400 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. for two years in the late 60's and had always hoped to return. But I never did. So, I suppose subconsciously, it was my way of paying homage to a brief, idyllic time in my life.

Larry Elmore cover for Return to Brookmere

Grand DM: Of all the Endless Quest books you authored, which one are you most proud of?

Rose Estes: Oddly, I have no particular favorite in the series. You have to understand, I had no background in writing, not in journalism or in fiction. I never had any writing classes of any sort and what I wrote came out of my own head, I can't blame anyone else for it. So, being thrust into fiction with no time to think, plan or even worry about it, I just wrote the books as quickly as I could to keep up with the demanding publication schedule. Each of them, I would later realize, was a learning experience and I did my best to adapt to the needs of the stories.

Fortunately, set up as they were, call and response, so to speak, the story-line and choices dictated what needed to be written, as good as an outline or a blueprint and drove the story from beginning to end. I could not have intentionally created a better teaching tool. I learned from each and every book and so, gradually, my skills improved. I had no time to be fearful or to wonder what the heck I thought I was doing pretending to be an author and writing books! Some years I wrote as many as five books, it was a hectic pace and obviously, it changed my life.

Grand DM:  I’ve heard that you were not a D&D player and it surprised me. It certainly did not seem to affect your ability to create very thematic stories. What was your secret?

Rose Estes: I think this is the most important question you've asked. No, I never played the game. I was drawn by the stories but had little to absolutely no interest in all of the dice rolling which seemed tedious and worse, interrupted the flow of the narrative. I realize this is heresy, but so be it.

Few things in my life have had as major an influence on my life and creating the person I am than reading, so, despite my lack of formal training, I am first and foremost, a storyteller and that was always the impetus behind the books. Obviously, the game created the framework and provided both the background and the characters/creatures/action and the E.Q.'s could not have existed without D&D. So, if there's a secret, that's it.

Grand DM: Over the years, there has been some controversy over the Greyhawk: Endless Quest books. I know they were published after Gary’s departure from TSR. Fans complain they were not true to the source material. Could you share with us some background and your thoughts on that?

Rose Estes: I'm not surprised that there has been controversy over the Greyhawks and if I could go back in time, I would apologize to Gary and his fans for what I did to his much loved world of Greyhawk. Writing E.Q.'s was far, far different that writing a serious novel. I had myself, left TSR and was dealing with the financial vagaries that are the due of a writer. When I was offered the Greyhawk series, I was not in a position financially to say no, but unfortunately, I didn't have the skills to do them justice.

The first two Greyhawks that I wrote embarrass me to this day. Frankly, they were awful. And yet, they are the real launching pad for the writer I've become. I cut my teeth on them and left them much the worse for being gnawed upon. I apologize wholeheartedly to anyone I disappointed. But, I think that by the time I got to books 6, 7 and 8, they and I had much improved. Unfortunately, most people had stopped reading them.

Grand DM:  I know you stopped writing for a period of ten years because of a terrible motor vehicle accident. Have you recovered from your injuries?

Rose Estes: It's very strange the way life works. Yes, the accident was a game changer. I sustained a closed head injury that killed the part of the brain that retrieves vocabulary. Isn't that ironically bizarre?  But, because I had a large vocabulary pre-accident, it might have seemed that nothing was wrong, I could still carry on an intelligent conversation, but it completely altered the way that I thought.

Before the accident I used to have to beg friends like Jim Ward for plots. Post-accident, my head overflowed with plots, ideas of all sorts gushing forth 24/7 and the problem became how to manage and live with my chaotic brain and all that it spewed out. Early days it all but overwhelmed me.

I MUST mention that I might not have survived as a writer had it not been for my longtime partner Tom Wham who helped me write and finish books that were in the works and during this period of time, and Bill Fawcett who gave me work and all but supported me at times. I owe them both a huge debt of gratitude. Over the intervening years, my brain and I have reached somewhat of a truce. It grudgingly allows itself to be caged when I have to concentrate on life and in turn, I allow it to run rampant after I'm done working. It's a strange existence being both jailer and prisoner contained in the same body.

So yes, with caveats, I have recovered. I began writing again in 2004 and wrote three books of nonfiction on the evolution and development of various dog breeds. Writing nonfiction is easier than writing fiction.

1982 Endless Quest Ad

Grand DM: Dungeons and Dragons is now enjoying what many consider to be, mainstream popularity. Obviously social media and shows such as Game of Thrones have brought in new fans. Will we see any more writing projects from you that are fantasy related?

Rose Estes: Several years ago, I was contacted by Ryan Schifferin (through Facebook!) who offered me the opportunity to write a story using characters of his creation. It was great fun and I gained a lot of confidence in doing so. Then, this year, I wrote a story for an anthology called Sisterhood of the Blade for Jonathan Thompson and Ed Greenwood, who were kind to invite me to be a part of their project.

I have not contacted any of the main stream publishers whom I wrote for, nor do I have an agent, so I am just feeling my way forward. I'm currently writing a digital E.Q. type book for Randy Price's company 2 Kings.

I do have several plots that are swimming around and demanding loudly that they be written, but I am having trouble constraining them to short formats like E.Q.'s, they all aspire to be novels. Not sure what will happen there.

Grand DM: The Endless Quest books were translated into 28 languages and have sold over 16 million copies. That is really a stunning accomplishment. If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be, and why?

Rose Estes: Advice to my younger self.....I wish I could have told myself to relax and enjoy the moment more than being so focused on plans for the future. But I probably wouldn't have listened.

Grand DM: At the end of Inside the Actor’s Studio, James Lipton has a list of interview questions. He always credits them to French novelist Marcel Proust (1871–1922). I would like to ask you those questions.

Rose Estes: Sounds good.

Grand DM: What is your favorite word?

Rose Estes:  I've always been fascinated by the fact that in the Chinese language, disaster and opportunity are the same word. Since my life has often been defined by both, I'd have to say that is my favorite word.

Grand DM: What is your least favorite word?

Rose Estes: I have several words that are my least favorites, all equally disliked: Li Berry (instead of library, and I admit to disliking people who can't be bothered to say it correctly. SMIRK (frequently over-used and used incorrectly). Amazing! Awesome! It would me everything to me! All are totally overused words and phrases and have become all but meaningless.

Grand DM: What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Rose Estes: Creative turn ons: Beauty. New thoughts, generally gained from television or books that explode in my brain and consume me. Emotionally: music and interaction with animals. Spiritually, music, watching the ocean which is at my doorstep and the night sky.

Grand DM: What turns you off?

Rose Estes:  Being told that I can't do something. Intentional meanness of spirit.

Grand DM: What is your favorite curse word?

Rose Estes:  I rarely curse, I'd rather find words that mean what I think.

Grand DM: What sound or noise do you love?

Rose Estes: Music, a cat's purr.

Grand DM: What sound or noise do you hate?

Rose Estes: The sounds of politics for personal gain, greed, destruction of all that is good that so many have strived for, cruelty, ignorance, racial division.

Grand DM: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Rose Estes: When my late husband Gary Hauser, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006,  I took over running his gallery, thinking it would only be until he recovered and returned. Unfortunately, that never happened. As I'd never even thought of having such a business, I was at a loss. His advice was for me to follow my passions. Which I did with his full support. It has enabled me to explore and collect some of the most interesting objects from around the world, which seem to delight and resonate with large numbers of interesting people. The objects and the people allow me, at this late date in my life, to vicariously travel the world. The sculpting of animals is simply a private passion.

Grand DM: What profession would you not like to do?

Rose Estes: I would hate and be incapable of working with anything mathematical, analytical or rigidly formatted.

Grand DM: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Rose Estes: “Well done, you made a difference in children's/animal's lives."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation: Mundane Dangers of Chult

With the release of Tomb of Annihilation, I wanted to expand some on the dangers within a jungle setting. So I decided to base a few adventuring challenges off real life. While fantastical flora and fauna is expected in a game such as Dungeons & Dragons, sometimes the mundane is just as deadly. Below I have listed some things that could happen to player characters as they explore the wilds of Chult. As a Dungeon Master, these occurrences will help you bring the environment even more to life.

Biting Midge Swarm

Although their average life span is only a few days, biting midges are not to be ignored. They are most active around dawn and dusk, and congregate in vertical columns, or swarms. They are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes by the unwary traveler. Female midges voraciously bite because they require blood to help form their eggs. The swarms are attracted to both humanoids and animals because of carbon dioxide generated by their breath. They are also very in tune with the smell of natural body odor and sweat when hunting for blood.

For this iteration, the swarm is considered a hazard. A living creature encountering a Biting Midge Swarm must make a DC12 Constitution saving throw or become Prone for one minute. This saving throw may be attempted again at the end of their next turn. For every round a creature is within the biting swarm, there is a 15% chance they contract a disease. Roll 1d4 on the following table to determine the disease:

1.    Shivering Sickness (Page 40, ToA)
2.    Sight Rot (Page 257, DMG)
3.    Cackle Fever (Page 257, DMG)
4.    Sewer Plague (Page 257, DMG)

What preventative measures may be taken?

Aside from using magic, such as a Gust of Wind spell, the following are some mundane tips:
  • Insect Repellent (Page 32, ToA). Caveat: This will not keep the whole swarm away, but reduce Prone time by half on a failed save.
  • Face Net. Advantage on Saving Throw against becoming Prone. Disadvantage on Perception checks.
  • Citrus or Smoke. Good for camps to keep swarms away, but may draw the attention of other things!
  • Yeast in the blood. This may just be a local myth, but some suggest midge hate the flavor. But hey, another reason to enjoy dwarven ale!


Listed below are two types of common infection within the jungle. In fact, they are so common that a party resource such as Lesser Restoration may be drained quite often.

Fungal (jungle) Rot: This occurs when the character’s feet are exposed to constant moisture and humid conditions. Each day a DC12 Constitution saving throw is required, to avoid bacteria infecting saturated feet. On a failed save, raised ulcers or carbuncles form in one day, causing terrible pain. Characters at this stage gain one level of Exhaustion. Within 1d4 days the feet will swell and gangrene will set in causing another level of Exhaustion. If this is not treated within a reasonable time (DM’s prerogative) with healing magic, amputation will be required. For this reason, it’s common to see foot amputees in Port Nyanzaru, most of which are foreigners.

What preventative measures may be taken?

Dry your feet. This can be done manually, or even with a Prestidigitation cantrip. Characters who do this daily gain advantage on saving throws against fungal rot.

Nyanzaru’s Revenge: This condition comes with a fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and the abrupt onset of diarrhea. They won’t be laughing long after their characters are infected with it. With dehydration a constant threat (Page 38, ToA), characters in Chult are drinking all the time. Any ground or river water which is consumed without first being boiled is considered contaminated. In addition, the unsanitary handling of food can also cause this condition.

Any time a character consumes water or foodstuffs which is potentially contaminated, they must succeed on a DC15 Constitution saving throw. On a failure they have Nyanzaru’s Revenge, and gain a level of Exhaustion. The condition will then last 1d4 days, with subsequent saving throws allowed. For each new failure, gain another level of Exhaustion.

What preventative measures may be taken?
  • Avoid food and water from shady street vendors in Port Nyanzaru or neighboring villages.
  • Be certain any drinks were created with boiled water.
  • Be very, very nice to the Dungeon Master.