#5 – The Adventure Begins – Dreadstorm Lost

Gatehouse and guard tower
The following blog post is Part 5 of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, Dreadstorms Lost. These blogs are intended for other game masters who might want to use this campaign setting and the scenarios to inspire their own role playing games. (Free for noncommercial reuse.)

Notes:

Guard Duty

The game begins with the players’ characters at 1st level, shiny new Protector Trainees reporting for their first day of guard duty at the south tower of Berlstrum.

If you have 6 or more players, you can split them into 2 teams. Yes! Split the party. It’s always more fun that way. If you have 3-5 players, you will start with twice that number of protectors Protector Trainees reporting for duty as players. 

Stats for several sample NPCs [Non-Player Characters] are at the bottom of the page. Note, this campaign was created for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Any stats provided are 5E specific, but the rest would probably work in any RPG environment.


Setting

♣ The tower [107] sits immediately outside the South gates, flush to the city wall to the north, the high cliffs at its back, the Free Road passing in front. The tower rises above the city wall by 50 feet. 

The roar of the Thornbreaker River passes under the land bridge to the south of the Tower. Thousands of feet below the water crashes into the Forlorn Bay. The spray from the mighty waterfall leaves everything slightly misted and damp. Incoming traffic has to cross the windy, damp land bridge before approaching the South tower. Traffic leaving Berlstrum goes through an inner gate, down a zig-zag passageway before reaching the outer gate. Neither gate has been lowered in over 10 years. The gate houses [2 & 106] that contain the portcullis mechanisms have become places to store odds and ends, rats’ nests, and spider webs. ♣

Berlstrum 2

Day 1 – Marching Orders

At noon, Kazel and Foreshot Dreadstorm greet the trainees at the base of the South Tower outside the city gates. While Kazel goes over the basics, Foreshot leans against the tower wall, watching them.

Kazel to trainees:

Your mentors feel that you have successfully reached a level in your training that you should be able handle tower duty. You will be at the tower for 7 days. Your job while here is to keep on the lookout for hostiles. You are divided into 2 teams. Every 9 hours the teams rotate positions. Within each 3-person team, it is up to you to decide who gets breaks and when.

Foreshot hands each trainee a smooth, flat-dull-gray river rock with a simple etched rune. The stones are activated by licking them, which the Dreadstorms won’t tell them unless asked. The rune on the rock will glow white when activated and continue to glow until the receiver (one of the Dreadstorms) arrives.

UPPER TOWER GUARDS: One team is inside the tower, at the top to keep an eye out for large incoming groups like caravans, the Sovereign’s Patrol, invading armies, and … yes … even the entertainers parade. In the case of an incoming group – activate one of these stones, which will alert the champions.

GROUND/GATE GUARDS: Each guard should have one of these rune stones on them at all times. DO NOT activate the stone because you’re bored and want to chat. I will shoot you with magic missiles and Foreshot will probably just pummel you to pieces.

You’ve each been issued a bed roll, a canteen, a tinderbox and enough trail rations for 7 days.

Players can note these items on their inventory.

One of us will be by to check on you a couple of times during the week to make sure you haven’t killed yourselves or wandered off. Don’t worry. We haven’t needed to close the city gates in over 10 years. You’ll be fine.

Kazel and Foreshot will then leave the trainees to sort themselves out unless they have any questions.

Guard duty is dull, monotonous, and boring. The first couple of days are pretty uneventful. During this time the players have a chance to role play getting to know their fellow party members. Encourage the players to introduce themselves in character and them to tell you what they do during their guard time. The NPC group will keep themselves separate for the most part unless directly engaged by the party members.


Optional NPCs for the other team of tower guards/NPC:

    • Amira Northwing (level 1 half-elf rogue)
    • Dorn Tallstag Eirkash (level 1 human wizard)
    • Moregore Grayfist Ironbreaker (level 1 dwarf fighter)
    • Stormy Mogwater (level 1 human cleric)

AMIRA NORTHWING

– from the village of Crossover, she heard the rumors of the Champions’ treasure and hopes to find clues while working as a Protector. She hasn’t been a very successful thief yet.

ROGUE 1 ♦ Half-Elf, Medium humanoid, chaotic good

STR 13 (+1) ♦ DEX 20 (+5) ♦ CON 12 (+1) ♦ INT 17 (+3) ♦ WIS 14 (+2) ♦ CHA 10 (+0)

Armor Class 16
Hit Points 9
Speed 30 ft.
Passive Perception 14
Initiative +5

Proficiencies
Saving Throws Dex +8, Int +3
Skills: Acrobatics +9, Arcana +5, Athletics + 3, Perception +4, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +7

ACTIONS

Dagger: +7 to hit, range 20/60, 1d4+5 piercing, finesse, light, thrown, underwater

Short sword: +7 to hit, 1d6+5 piercing, finesse, light, underwater

Dart: +7 range to hit, range 20/60, 1d4+5 piercing, finesse, light, underwater

ROGUE TRAITS

Sneak Attack, Cunning Action

MOREGORE GRAYFIST IRONBREAKER

– Morgore grew up in  and has a large, extended family in Berlstrum. Morgorn and Mortengort are his cousins and also good fighters who would go looking for Moregore if he disappeared.

FIGHTER 1 ♦ Dwarf, Medium humanoid (mountain dwarf), neutral

STR 20 (+5) ♦ DEX 18 (+4) ♦ CON 16 (+3) ♦ INT 10 (+0) ♦ WIS 10 (+0) ♦ CHA 8 (-1)

Armor Class 17
Hit Points 24
Speed 25 ft.
Passive Perception 14
Initiative +4

Languages Common, Dwarvish, Orc

Proficiencies Saving Throws Str +7, Dex +4, Con +5
Skills Acrobatics +6, Athletics +7, Perception +2, Survival +2
Darkvision 60 ft, Resistance poison

ACTIONS

Battleaxe: +7 to hit, 1d8+5 slashing, versatile (1d10)

Longbow: +6 range to hit, range 150/600, 1d8+4 piercing, ammunition, heavy, two-handed

FIGHTER TRAITS
Fighting Style (Protection), Action Surge (One Use)

DORN TALLSTAG EIRKASH

– Young and brash and short (5″1″). His mentor is Haseid Khalid (warlock/archfey pact).

WIZARD 1 (ILLUSION) ♦ Human, Medium humanoid, neutral good

STR 10 (+0) ♦ DEX 13 (+1) ♦ CON 11 (+0) ♦ INT 20 (+5) ♦ WIS 15 (+2) ♦ CHA 10 (+0)

Armor Class 14
Hit Points 6
Speed 30 ft.
Passive Perception 14
Initiative +1

Languages Common, Dwarven, Draconic, Elvish

Proficiencies Saving Throws Int +7, Wis +4
Skills Arcana +7, History +7, Insight +4, Investigation +7, Perception +4,

ACTIONS

Attack Spell (Int): Spell +7 to hit

Quarterstaff: +2 to hit, 1d6 bludgeoning (versatile 1d8)


Spellcasting DC 15

Cantrips
Known 3: Poison Spray, Shocking Grasp, Minor Illusion

1st Level:
Prepared 7, Cast per day 2: Mage Armor, Disguise Self, Burning Hands, Fog Cloud, Identify, Magic Missile, Tenser’s Floating Disc

WIZARD TRAITS
Arcane Recovery, Spellbook

STORMY MOGWATER

– Stormy is quiet and reserved. Her mentor is R’dsché Albrĕcktforthen’with (elf cleric)

CLERIC (Light) 1 ♦ Human, Medium humanoid, neutral good

STR 18 (+4) ♦ DEX 10 (+0) ♦ CON 16 (+3) ♦ INT 10 (+0) ♦ WIS 20 (+5) ♦ CHA 10 (0)

Armor Class 15
Hit Points 11
Speed 30 ft.
Passive Perception 17
Initiative +0

Languages Common, Draconic, Elvish, Dwarvish

Proficiencies
Saving Throws Str +4, Wis +8, Cha +2
Skills: Acrobatics +2, Athletics + 6, Insight +8, Perception +8, Religion +4

ACTIONS

Mace: +6 to hit, 1d6+4 bludgeoning

Spell Attack (Wis): +8 to hit

Light Crossbow: +2 range to hit, range 80/320, 1d8 piercing


Spellcasting DC 15

Cantrips
Known 5: Spare the Dying, Sacred Flame, Light, Resistance, Thaumaturgy

1st Level:
Known 8, Cast per day 2: Cure Wounds, Burning Hands, Sanctuary, Protection from Evil and Good, Sheild of Faith, Faerie Fire, Create or Destroy Water, Detect Magic

CLERIC TRAITS
Divine Domain Feature (Warding Flare)

Up Next: Guard duty!? Well, this will be dull. OR will it?! What excitement awaits our players in the Guard Tower? #6 – Guard Duty! Go! – Dreadstorms Lost

#3.5 Deadly Omega 6 – Origins – Dreadstorms Lost

The following blog post is Part 3.5 of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, Dreadstorms Lost. These blogs are intended for other game masters who might want to use this campaign setting and the scenarios to inspire their own role playing games. (Free for noncommercial reuse.)

Notes:

The Backstory of the Backstory

At one point in the D&D game, my players wanted to get more information about the adventuring group, the Deadly Omega 6, the group that made the Dreadstorms famous and won them the champion post in Berlstrum. The group tracked down  a bard and a known friend of the Dreadstorms, Jester Red.

I had a vague backstory for the Omegas, but was now forced to flush it out. Since they went to a bard, I wanted them to feel like they were hearing this from a great storyteller. I wrote out the basic story. Then I contacted my brother, Robert Boylan, and pleaded with him to do his ninja-writing magic on my story and make it more bard-like. He accepted the challenge. With a few back and forths for clarity, I was delighted with the final version of his labors.

Next I cajoled Paul Willman, with his melodious baritone voice, to record a reading of the Deadly Omega 6 story. He was patient and an awesome sport. We downloaded a free audio editor and recorder called Audacity, that worked great without any special equipment. The reading ended up being 17 minutes long. So I edited out as many pause where I could and upped the speed. Sadly, Paul’s beautiful baritone isn’t even recognizable anymore. The final version is 13-½ minutes long. Below is the link to the YouTube 

 

The Origins of the Deadly Omega 6 as told by Jester Red [YouTube]

YouTube audio with static image


The Members of The Deadly Omega 6

  1. Samora Ganzee – warlock/sorcerer– human, female
  2. Foreshot [formerly Forest Norborough] – ranger – human, female
  3. Gorshuk Planke – rogue assassin – half-elf, male
  4. Kazel Dreadstorm – wizard – dark elf, male
  5. Ames Albrecht – cleric – halfling, male
  6. Laibazarbit “Bit” Graystone – fighter – tiefling, female

The written version:

The Origns of the Deadly Omega 6 as told by Jester Red

by Heather Boylan & Robert Boylan

Give cease to the wagging of your tongues and the slurping as your teeth pull meat from bone. Stifle too the clanking of tankards, the chinking of plates, the shifting of chairs, and the noisome passing of gas from either throat or anus. Be still and attend this humble word-smith. Tonight, I shall paint a history of the group now known as the Deadly Omega Six.

Ah, I see from your faces the deeds of these heroes are not unknown to many of you.

Let me take you back, long before they achieved a modicum of fame.

Our tale begins—

Hey, barbarian in the back! Yes, you! Shut your yammering ale-hole or take it outside.

Now, where was I?

Yes, our tale …

It begins in the sleepy village of Westend, where dwelt Samora Ganzee, her parents, and her four siblings. Their days of idyllic living came to abrupt end with the arrival of the Torken Raiders.

Yes, I see some of you shudder at the very name, as well you should.

It was a gloomy autumn morning when that foul assemblage of humans, orcs, hobgoblins, and ogres set their sights on Westend. By evening’s fall, the village was a wasteland of embers and ash mixed with the lifeblood of livestock. Fortunate were the villagers who perished that day, for the survivors had to endure the raiders’ lusts and needs for violence, day upon day.

As you may have guessed, Samora and her family numbered among these unfortunates.

I shall not curl the food in your bellies with descriptions of the cruelties the Torken visited upon their captives or the games of bloodsport they were forced to participate in. Suffice it to say it was a precarious existence of despair, misery, and pain.

It is no wonder Samora’s parents sought to escape with their children. Their bid for freedom, however, failed. For this offense, the Torkens publicly flayed the youngest of them. Samora could shut her eyes to that grisly spectacle, but nothing could keep the girl’s screams from her ears.

In the days and months that followed, those screams continued to echo in Samora’s mind as she did what was necessary to survive. Powerless and without agency, she could not hope for more. In such conditions time loses its meaning. Days blend into an unending blur of agony and horror.

Eventually, though, something unexpected occurred.

It came in the form of strange man. With a well-groomed salt and pepper hair, neatly trimmed beard, and spotless clothing, Samora took him for a noble. No way he was one of the Torken. Odd, then, he had strolled through the raiders’ camp without drawing the least attention.

He came up to Samora as she sat stroking the hair of her sleeping sister Zandoval, her only family member attrition had not claimed.

He squatted next to her and whispered in a low voice that sent shivers down her spine, “Would you be free of this rabble? I can make that happen for you.”

“How?” she managed dully. Hope was not an emotion she possessed any longer.

The man pulled two sickles from behind his back. Unlike the simple farming implement she knew, these were not made of metal. Instead they seemed formed of crescents of obsidian. Sluggish green lights danced in the depths of the material.

He held them out to her. “Take the Ebonairre Twins and learn.”

With the handles pressed so close to her, Samora instinctively gripped them. In that moment, she felt a terrible power suffuse her body. Her vision tinted green, and she sprang to her feet with a boundless, hungry energy.

Grok, the ogre who was her chief tormentor, spied her sudden movement. He lumbered over to her. “What you got there?”

Without conscious thought, Samora slashed with the sickles, crossing them just under his chin.

The ogre’s head flopped back as the muscles in his neck separated and blood fountained. Someone screamed, and others shouted angrily. After that, things became hazy as she sank into a manic frenzy. All she knew was a pounding in her head like tribal drums and a flash of faces too quick to register.

When she finally regained her senses, the sun peaked above the hills.

She stood amidst carnage, drenched in blood, none of it hers. Raiders and captives alike had been cut down. The unholy weapons still in Samora’s hands dripped gore. There could be no doubt she had been the source of the devastation.

She found Zandoval among the dead. Numb beyond the reach of grief or guilt, Samora could do naught but stare down at the body. A jagged stroke had nearly cleaved her head from her shoulders.

“Master is most pleased,” an icy whisper tickled her ear. She turned to see the strange man standing there. Nary a drop of blood marred his pristine suit. He gripped her by the elbow and pulled her along. “Come, pet. I have work for you.”

Behind them, the dead began to twitch. In moments, they rose and shuffled off in all directions.

[pause … drink ale … ]

It would not be until much later that Samora learned that this event constituted a binding pact as far as the demon lord Orcus was concerned. Over time, she gained strength and confidence and sought ways to subvert his thrall.

Perhaps her most significant step towards ridding herself of his influence came the day she learned she need not face the struggle alone. That revelation came about in a tavern in Skalia, so insignificant it did not possess a name.

Upon entering, Samora’s eyes were immediately drawn to the barkeep. By all accounts the lad was possessed of an allure that many women found desirable. He certainly filled Samora’s mind with randy thoughts. She sidled up to the bar and in her direct way said, “When you’re done serving drinks, you and I should set my room a-shaking.”

This proposal found favor with the lad. However, a lady who called herself Foreshot had just spent a half hour flirting with the barkeep intending to take him back to her room. Having invested that time, Foreshot was not well disposed towards this interloper. The two women exchanged heated words. Tempers flared, and fists flew. This spark of violence quickly precipitated an all-encompassing tavern brawl.

The local watch broke it up in due course and deposited the combatants in jail cells to cool off overnight. As fate would have it Samora and Foreshot were dumped in adjacent cells. Instead of fueling further animosity between them, this proximity gave rise to an enduring friendship.

Just in case any of you are curious, Foreshot later found opportunity to return to that tavern and sample that barkeep’s bedroom skills. She found the experience completely unsatisfying, telling Samora, “By the Great Stag, for all those pretty muscles, he was hung like a halfling.”

Seems there’s a life lesson in that for all of you, yes?

So anyway, also in attendance at that tavern on the same night as these two women first met was one Pasha Hassen bin Miluk. A man of his self-perceived importance would normally never be caught dead in such a dive. But on this particular night, he had it in his mind to engage in a bit of slumming and debauchery. He got more than he bargained for.

During the brawl, one of Samora’s wild elbows caught him in the mouth, and he lost three teeth. For this grave assault upon his person, Hassen hired the assassin Gorshuk Planke to bring back Samora’s head. Now it should be said, Gorshuk despised the Pasha and wanted nothing more than to rid the simpering fop the rest of his teeth.

Unfortunately, work had been scarce, since Gorshuk had botched his last kill. He needed the coin. More importantly he needed to salvage his reputation.

With great care, he selected an ambush site just outside of Skalia. He did not have to wait long for his quarry to appear. The moment was perfect. The sun was angled just right to shine in the women’s eyes. What little breeze blew flowed directly towards them. No crowds were present to distract them or him.

He sighted down his crossbow, exhaled, and squeezed the trigger.

And the bolt whizzed over their heads by more than three feet. It stuck some poor ass in the hindquarters. The poor beast raised quite the ruckus, as you can quite imagine. This is why later the champions would often grouse Gorshuk about “pinning the tail” on their foes.

Legend has it that Samora and Foreshot exercised some deft diplomacy to convince Gorshuk to forswear his commission and join with them. That’s complete bullocks. Truth is the half-elf was flummoxed and mortified with his dismal aim. In that moment, he suffered a crisis of professional confidence. Reaching such an emotional crossroads, a lesser man might have sought suicide by adventurer, but Gorshuk was instead moved to change the course of his life.

When Foreshot jokingly said he should slink out of town with them, he jumped at the chance.

Unbeknownst to Gorshuk, even if he had successfully carried out his mission, Hassen never would have paid the fee. At the time of the ambush, the Pasha was busy venting all his blood out through a dozen holes in his chest. He had mouthed off to a gnome in the market square, and she demonstrated just why she was called Agnes the Asp.

Probably another life lesson there, hmm.

Say, barmaid, could I trouble you for that foaming flagon in your hand? I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue if my throat grows more parched. Ah, thanks, you’re a dear.

So, these three worthies set forth with adventure in the offing, and unlike many such adventurers they did not immediately find themselves quick deaths. In due course, they set upon a quartet of ogres in a dank cave. After slaughtering the hapless brutes, they made an unexpected discovery: a naked, angry wizard, trussed-up and soaking in a marinade.

At first, they assumed the spicy sauce had blackened his skin.  It was only after they had exchanged names that they realized he was, in fact, a dark elf. (Make not the mistake of referring to him as a drow. He’d like as to shove a wand up your nose and trigger it for such an insult.)

This dark elf, Kazel Dreadstorm, was grateful to have been spared the cookpot and was more than a little smitten with Foreshot. This uncharacteristic onset of emotion both intrigued and terrified Kazel. As such, he felt compelled to study the matter further, like it was some sort of logic problem that would yield its secrets if only he applied his mind to it. However, he could not further his inquiry without proximity to his research subject. So, he convinced the others to let him join their little band.

Kazel is also the one who came up with their group’s name, the Deadly Omega Four: Deadly because it sounded menacing, four because they numbered four, and Omega just because he liked the way the word rolled off his tongue. None of the others cared if they had a name, so the appellation stuck.

Four soon became Six with the addition of halfling Ames Albrecht and tiefling Laibazarbit Graystone. These two sought to rob the Four for their food and water. At the time, both were suffering from the effects of extreme hunger, dehydration, and exposure, so their attempt failed pathetically.

Foreshot took pity on them and offered to let them share their meal. They wisely stuck around after the food was gone. These two city-dwellers never revealed how they came to be stranded in the wilderness without supplies. Some have speculated they ran afoul of a wizard’s teleportation trap. Others are of the opinion they were the sole survivors of an ill-fated caravan or adventuring company.

Personally, I subscribe to the theory that the pair got blind drunk one night, and their erstwhile friends played a cruel prank on them.

In any case, assembling a group of adventurers is not an uncommon thing. I count at least two such parties in the audience tonight. What makes the Deadly Omega Six special is where they opted to direct their heroic intent.

As all you gentlefolk may have surmised from earlier in this tale, Samora found herself shackled to an infernal power. This was not a bargain she had sought or ever actually accepted. More than anything, she wanted to be free of it.  And her companions agreed to help her find a way.

Through might and magic, through faith and guile, their quest eventually led them into the Abyss to the demesne of the demon lord Orcus. Now, the Omega Six were not fool-hearty enough to confront such a powerful being in the seat of his power. Instead they infiltrated the foul abattoir of Orcus’ Grand Inquisitor Zerk.

This particular fell being was the one who yanked the chains which bound Samora to Orcus and made demands of her in his name.A direct confrontation with someone as powerful as Zerk would also have been tantamount to suicide. Fortunately, for their purposes, they did not need Zerk dead. They just needed leverage. And they found it in the form of a fell artifact called the Eye of Orcus.

The demon lord himself had charged his lieutenant Zerk with the Eye’s safekeeping.

Zerk could not very well go to his liege and explain that an insignificant group of plane-raiders had circumvented his security, stolen the Eye, escaped to their backwater on the Prime Material, and successfully hidden it somewhere that blocked all the Eye’s malignant emanations. His master would never tolerate such gross failure.

Rather than bring such ruin down upon himself, Zerk acquiesced to Samora’s demands and freed her from Orcus’ service. And to ensure Zerk did not later seek retribution, the Omega Six retained possession of the Eye.

Few are the mortals who can successfully negotiate with the infernal and emerge with both their lives and souls intact. The Deadly Omega Six managed it.

But, if any of you think you might be clever enough to repeat this feat, I caution you against it. Odds are you’ll more likely to find a horrible death or worse.

Of course, it’s only those who dare the impossible and succeed who find immortality in bards’ tales.

On that note, I bid you all a fair evening. May your paths be rosy and your burdens light.

Oh, and one last thing. I do welcome your gifts and donations.

Thank you.

You may resume your revelries now.


 Next up: A Non Player Characters (NPCs) grab-no-go list for Berlstrum and beyond! #4 NPCs of Dreadstorms Lost

#1-4 of the Dreadstorms Lost Campaign are backstory and setting information. If you want to jump ahead to where the players comin in: #5 – The Adventure Begins – Dreadstorm Lost

#3 – The Champions – Dreadstorms Lost

The following blog post is Part 3 of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, Dreadstorms Lost. These blogs are intended for other game masters who might want to use this campaign setting and the scenarios to inspire their own role playing games. (Free for noncommercial reuse.)

Notes:

As you might gather from the title, the Dreadstorms play an important role in this D&D campaign. Finding out what happened to the champions is one of the key goals for the adventurers. So the question is, at what point do I put the answers to the quiz? The answer to what is going on behind the scenes. To what happened to the champions. To what lead up to the events?


Champions of Berlstrum

Kazel and Foreshot Dreadstorm have been Berlstrum’s champions for over a decade. Berlstrum has enjoyed peace and prosperity under their protection. The champions work with the mayor and town council in regards to town safety. They deal with any dangerous elements threatening the town.

In exchange for their service, the champions have been given a manor/castle to live in and a regular stipend from the Sovereign. Only the Sovereign can award the position of champion to a town.

Human female and white haired elf embraceBefore Kazel and Foreshot were offered the champions post in Berlsturm, they were a part of the Deadly Omega 6 gang. (More on these guys in the next installment.) Bards delight in singing tales of these great heroes’ deeds. Some of it might even be true.

Rumors of a hidden treasure from the couple’s infamous adventuring days are a topics of idle speculation, but nothing has ever been found. Berlstrum does get the occasional visitors wanting to challenge the pair for reputation gain or in hopes of finding their fabled stash. They are dealt with harshly.

Foreshot was a highly talented ranger in her adventuring days. She prefers to avoid the limelight whenever possible, spending a lot of her time hunting game and roaming monsters outside the city walls.

As part of the Protector Program, Foreshot is mentoring Clemens in the ways of the ranger. He has a room on the lower floor of their manor.

Foreshot is a tempering influence on Kazel. Without her, he tended to be a bit looser with his morals. Kazel is devoted to his wife, Foreshot, but worries about her  human lifespan.

Kazel considers himself a dark elf. Anyone who suggests he is drow will see the might of his fury and possibly a magic missile at their nearest possessions.

Kazel Dreadstorm is a “retired” wizard who sells potions, scrolls, and enchantments in his shop, The Glass Eye. With his beautiful dark elven skin and luscious silky white hair, he gets a lot of visitors who come to flirt with the famous champion. Kazel is good at redirecting these fanciful flirtations into sale at his store.

The Protector Program

Kazel and Foreshot created the Protector Program to aid in the day-to-day protection of the city. Those with aptitude and desire to learn the skills to become potential guardians, soldiers, adventurers are given training in their chosen field of interest. The program is intended to teach survival outside the safety a city’s walls and encourages exploration of the world.

In exchange for the free training, each Protector Trainee spends one week each month as a town guard; usually sentry duty or assisting with minor nuisances. Trainees are not paid wages, but are provided with a mentor who gives them room and board in exchange for work (varies depending on the mentor). Mentors are volunteers. Quality varies.

The trainees all meet weekly in the Champions’ Manor meeting hall where current problems are discussed, schedules handed out, and stories of past glories told.


For Game Master Only:

Our heroes have heard the call for protectors. And each for their own reasons has answered the call and successfully become a protector trainee. They will begin the adventure at 1st level. Details on the starting scenario next issue!

Recently, the Dreadstorms have been sending bards to recruit for the Protector Program and seem intent on increasing their numbers. Their bard friend, Jester Red, has been especially helpful in locating potential participants throughout the country of Briarstone. 

A secret only a very few know is that Foreshot is pregnant and the soon-to-be parents want to make sure that their town has sufficient protection when their champions will be most vulnerable.


 Next up: Okay. Now we know who the Champions are. But what about that group, the Deadly Omega 6? They sound cool. What’s their story? #3.5 Deadly Omega 6 – Origins – Dreadstorms Lost

#1-4 of the Dreadstorms Lost Campaign are backstory and setting information. If you want to jump ahead to where the players comin in: #5 – The Adventure Begins – Dreadstorm Lost

#2 – Berlstrum – Dreadstorms Lost Campaign

Drawing of a village with small creek, footbridge,
The following blog post is Part 2 of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, Dreadstorms Lost. These blogs are intended for other game masters who might want to use this campaign setting and the scenarios to inspire their own role playing games. (Free for noncommercial reuse.)

Notes:

This next installment of my D&D 5th Edition homebrew campaign settiing is the town where this  adventure begins. I find a lot of the details of the city (and the rest of the world) were in my head and only really cemented when a player asks for clarification. 

If there is some detail about the campaign setting that you would like to know, please leave a comment below.


The Town of Berlstrum

Map with buildings identified on the second page [PDF]: Berlstrum_with_index

Berlstrum 2

Berlstrum perches atop briarstone cliffs along the eastern coast of Briarstone. The cliffs under Berlstrum are riddled with hard-to­-reach caves. Those who have try to explore the caves haven’t returned.

On the sides not protected by sheer cliffs, the town has a thick wall guarding it from predators. The wall is 20 feet thick and 25 feet high, topped with crenelation for patrolling guards. By land, the North and South Gates are the only way in and out of Berlstrum.

The raging Thornbreaker River drops thousands of feet from the cliffs into Forlorn Bay. A large land bridge arches over the waterfall, connecting Berlstrum to the southern part of the country. The Free Road travels over the land bridge and is vital for the country’s North-South trading route.

Due to the many brutally sharp briarstone protrusions littering the Forlorn Bay, a harbor guide is vital to ensure a ship’s safe passage to and from the Obsidian Sea. Roaming sea monsters add to the difficulty of navigating the harbor entrance.

Town on a cliff with bridge over waterfallBoats are elevated to the docks with clever gnomish machinery. Captains willing to brave the harbor find it an excellent location for hull maintenance. Teams of workers use specially designed rigging repair and clean the underside of ships.

Small channels of water run throughout Berlstrum. Small foot bridges are common.

Berlstrum is relatively isolated from national politics and enjoys relative autonomy due to the distance to capitol, Greater Breen. Most of their official news comes the Sovereign’s Free Road patrols.

The town has a reputation for being accepting of different races shunned by the more “civilized” town. Tieflings, Orcs, Dopplegangers, Drow, Dragonborn are common sights within the city walls.

It is rumored that in years long past, a dragon once lived in the caves below Berlstrum. Most think it’s just a story to scare the kids.

Berlstrum is run by a mayor and 7 council members. They deal with local governing, decide punishments for mischief, and adjudicate disputes. Exile is a severe punishment for crimes within the town. The town’s champions provide protection and coordinate with the mayor & council on possible threats. The Champions of Berlstrum have a well-known reputation that keeps most sentient beings at bay.


The government

Mayor: Cobblekeep Lightdiggerson (Halfling)
*Stats below

Council Members:

  1. Mostrad Ust (Human, Owner Katrin’s Cafe)
  2. Wabae Txatin (Human, Cleric at Medical Aid Emporium)
  3. Gwantomo “Tomo” Prok (Elf, Farmer)
  4. Grant Tan (Orc, Owner Survival Gears Store)
  5. Agosta Amagoste (Dragonborn, Farmer, Fighter Trainer)
  6. Xendric Hornblower (Dwarf, Owner Xendric’s)
  7. R’dsche Albreckt (Elf, Head of one of the Churches in Berlstrum, Cleric Trainer)
  8. Stand-in Hammond Seedrikson (Human, Farmer)

Cobblekeep Lightdiggerson

small humanoid (lightfoot halfling)
Armor Class 13 (no armor)
Hit Points 9
Speed 25 ft.

STR 10 (+0) ♦ DEX 17 (+3) ♦ CON 13 (+1) ♦ INT 10 (+0) ♦ WIS 12 (+1) ♦ CHA 17 (+3)

Proficiencies (+2 proficiency bonus)

Saving Throws DEX +5, INT +5
Skills: Perception +5, History +2, Insight, +3, Persuasion +5, Performance +5

Halfling Traits:

Halfling Nimbleness. You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours.
Lucky. When you roll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.
Brave. You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Naturally Stealthy. You can attempt to hide even when you are obscured by a
creature that is at least one size larger than you.

 


Next up: Who are the Champions? And why do they matter to our story?  #3 – The Champions – Dreadstorms Lost

#1-4 of the Dreadstorms Lost Campaign are backstory and setting information. If you want to jump ahead to where the players comin in: #5 – The Adventure Begins – Dreadstorm Lost

#1 – Dreadstorms Lost Campaign – Overview

Map of Briarstone
The following blog post is Part 1 of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, Dreadstorms Lost. These blogs are intended for other game masters who might want to use this campaign setting and the scenarios to inspire their own role playing games. (Free for noncommercial reuse.)

Notes: World Building

I created the Dreadstorm Lost Dungeons and Dragons campaign and the wider world of Briarstone to run some friends through a D&D 5th Edition game. Why? Because I’m crazy? Probably. World building is exhausting, thrilling, frustrating, and ever-changing in a role-playing game (RPG) thanks to the decisions, interactions, and observations of players in the game. In a pre-generated story like the Curse of Strahd, I don’t feel like I have the sort of flexibility and creativity that I can in my own world. That and I like coloring within my own lines, thank you very much.

To start, here is the map of the continent: Briarstone-Continent Map-Hz [PDF] (Free for noncommercial reuse.) This is an every changing map as I add more details, towns, and roads. And thus begins the campaign setting information dump!


Dreadstorm Lost Campaign: Continent

Continent overview

The continent is divided into three countries, Briarstone, Heshtia, and Glort. The enormous, raging Roone River divides the southern half of the content and is the much-contested border between the nations of Briarstone and Heshtia. The country of Glort controls the northern half of the continent. Briarstone is by the far the largest and richest of the three nations.

The Obsidian Ocean has violent storms, aggressive sea creatures, and sudden whirlpools. Only the bravest or foolhardy venture into these perilous waters.

Map of BriarstoneTHE NATION OF BRIARSTONE

The nation of Briarstone has the largest influence of magic users in positions of power. Humans make up the largest percentage of the Briarstonian population, but the other races are well represented.

The capitol city of Briarstone is Greater Breen on the Southern Coast where the nation’s Sovereign resides. The Sovereign is a shadowy figure that is both feared and respected, though very little is know about them.

The Sovereign selects Champions of Briarstone as reward for heroics to crown and country. The Champions are awarded a town to protect and in return receive a comfortable stipend. The position of Champion is considered retirement for exceptional adventurers lucky enough to survive that long.

Briarstone gets its name from the briarstone rock that can only be found along the cliffs of Northeastern Coast.

Briarstone – The Rock

Briarstone is an opaque black rock formation with small, jagged protrusions resembling thorns. When the brittle rock shatters, it creates more jagged protrusions.

The Shredding Cliffs of Briarstone along the northern coastline are made up almost entirely of Briarstone, making them impossible to climb. The cliffs run hundreds of miles along the coastline and in places are several miles deep as well as high.

The Forlorn Bay is littered with small islands of Briarstone, making passage from the Obsidian Sea into the harbor of Berlstrum a perilous task. The Forlorn Bay is rumored to be haunted from the numerous ship wrecks caused by the thorny stones. Without a Harbor Guide, navigating the briarstone hazards is suicide.

The Free Road is a major trade route running the North-South length of Briarstone. The Sovereign’s military regularly patrols the length of the Free Road. The patrol gathers taxes, shares general news, pays town protectors, and reports any town requests back to the Sovereign. If additional assistance is needed from the capitol, additional taxes are levied on the towns.

The lands south of the Marmont mountain ranges are considered the “civilized” areas of Briarstone. In the North, most townsfolk stay within the protection of the town walls.

The Roone River marks Briarstone’s western boundary On the Heshtia. Heshtia covets Briarstone’s mineral rich mountains, bountiful farmlands, and tropical beaches. Constant tension in the form of skirmishes and raids occur, but the countries are offi cially at peace. Skalia, Kantodo, and Zanzobar, Briarstone towns on the riverbanks of Roone River, all have a regular military presence because of tensions with Heshtia.

THE NATION OF HESHTIA

Heshtia has predominately an elfish and human population. Humans and half-elves are considered lower class citizens in Heshtia. Human slaves are a status symbol for the wealthy.

The east half of Heshtia is rolling green mountains, the west mostly arid desert lands. The capitol city, Alamorey, is nestled within the central hills.

The majority of Heshtian population live along the Roone River and along the Southern Coast. Tensions have been brewing over Roone River water rights.

THE NATION OF GLORT

To the north is the country of Glort, a mixed population of orc, dragonborn, dwarf, and gnome. Each race has areas of geographic majority. Glorters are a rugged, no-nonsense type people.

The capitol city of Glort is Taje Tgem on the northern edge of Lake Iver.

Glort is a cold land made up of a many frigid lakes, jagged, snowy mountains, and rocky hills. Herd animals and fish are the primary sources of food for the nation. Grains and produce are luxuries shipped in from Briarstone.

The Terrunium metals mined from Glorter mountains hold special properties. Once processed, items made with Terrunium are lighter weight, stronger, and bond more easily with magic [ie: versatile, more durable, advantage to stealth, can hold more than one enchantment]. Only Glorter Blademasters know the secret to molding and enchanting Terrunium into the world-famous Terrunium armors and weapons.

NOMADS/TORKEN RAIDERS

Nomadic tribes roam northwest of the Roone River between the desert lands of Northern Heshtia and the barren planes of Southern Glort. They claim loyalty to no nation and ignore political boundaries and petty disputes between countries. These nomadic tribes are often mistaken as the vicious Torken Raiders by outsiders. 


Next up: Where it all starts, the Town of Berlstrum #2 – Berlstrum – Dreadstorms Lost Campaign

#1-4 of the Dreadstorms Lost Campaign are backstory and setting information. If you want to jump ahead to where the players comin in: #5 – The Adventure Begins – Dreadstorm Lost


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Image

Old-School, Hand-Drawn Dungeon

Grid Paper and Pencil

I found myself alone with grid paper and idle time back in October 2016. I couldn’t help but want to start creating a maze-like dungeons, possibly reliving some of my 80s childhood at the same time. While sketching, I imaged dimly lit stone hallways with sweaty, slimy walls. And secret doors. Clever traps. Wondering monsters. The big baddie waiting in the center for the big showdown. And marvelous treasures!

It occurred to me that I’m always looking for maps to snag for my game, so it occurred to me that I should share what I’ve made too. Here’s a result of that particular compulsive sketching, available for noncommercial reuse to the interwebs: maze-with grid [PDF version]

Here’s another post of another maze I created around the same time.

Donjon Random Dungeon Generator Screen CaptureDonjon’s Random Dungeon

For those of you who prefer computer generated maps, with or without a grid, Donjon’s Random Dungeon Generator is a really awesome, free tool for making random dungeons. Along with detailed maps of varying sized and shapes based on your selections, the generator creates encounters for the party size and level you need in your chosen environment.

I will caution that for a 1st level dungeon, DCs (Difficulty Classes) of 20, 25, and 30 felt really unrealistic if you want your first level players to have a chance of success. So read over the included encounters and modify as you see fit.