Forbidden Lands by Free League Publishing Worldwide Release

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Enjoy the chaotic, the grim yet heroic world of settings such as Conan the Barbarian, John Carter of Mars, or Fire and Ice? What about iconic settings like Dark Sun or Mad Max but with a fantasy twist to do them? What about Netflix’s the Dragon Prince or He-Man and the Masters of the Universe? Strap on your raider’s mask, delve for lost and forgotten treasures from a bygone age and face harrowing adventures in Free League Publishing’s Forbidden Lands, released today for worldwide distribution.

Check out their YouTube trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgpOkhsvPvM

Forbidden Lands is a grimdark fantasy tabletop roleplaying game with a detailed history that provides many legends, secrets, and mysteries for players to find and solve. Players will assume roles of the many possible races and creatures that have endured in the Forbidden Lands since the creation of the Iron Lock. Character creation is something that can be a personal choice or randomly generated by dice rolls. Most of the major dice rolls utilize a d3, 2d6, and d66 with the occasional d8, d10, and d12. The d66 is a unique percentile dice, with one die referring to the tens place and the other representing the single digits with results ranging from 11 to 66 as outcomes.

Set in a fantasy world, where elves, dwarves, and humans lived separated by a mountain range called the Divide. After several centuries of peace, war erupted, a powerful sorcerer took over the region north of the Divide, demons poured through a mystical gate which made the area inhospitable. An effort to create a great wall severed the lands to the north from the south which became known as the Forbidden Lands. Travel was made impossible due to the Blood Mist for nearly three centuries until it inexplicably vanished. New opportunities for exploration and conquest have risen, with many secrets of the land hidden, waiting to be discovered. Additionally, the Gamemaster’s Guide provides tips and details about incorporating the game’s mechanics and sandbox campaign setting into your settings and games.

 

The Forbidden Lands boxed set, includes the Player’s and Gamemaster’s Guides


Each character has four primary attributes: Strength, Agility, Wits, and Empathy. A character’s race or “kin” and profession affect their attributes, while each kin entry provides suggested professions they are not necessarily bound to them. A character’s Dark Secret and relationship with the other player characters are essential to developing the bonds of the party to adventure together. There are some remarkably familiar aspects of character creation akin to Cubicle 7’s Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition except minus the percentile statistics and percentile dice though I found Forbidden Lands to be quick and painless with smaller numbers for attribute and skill assignment.  

The game mechanics can be best described as an admixture of d6 dice pools determined by attribute, skills, and gear. Success is defined by having at least dice result with a 6, while failure is any result with no 6’s rolled. There is a mechanic to allow a character to “push” their rolls, which offers a reroll of any dice that did not come up as a 6 or any 1’s. Any 1’s that appear after pushing your dice can result in wounds, exhaustion, or damaged gear depending on the dice category. It’s heavily suggested that you have three colored sets of d6s, along with a d8, d10, and a d12. The latter group of dice is reserved for magical artifacts that players will come across during their adventures, which are rolled along the gear dice.
Characters in the Forbidden Lands have a varied set of tricks and abilities which are defined as talents, separated by three categories: kin talents, profession talents, and general talents. Kin and Profession talents are more potent than general talents and require the expenditure of Willpower to activate. Willpower is generated whenever a player character pushes on their dice rolls. Each kin has a primary talent, then each profession has a trio of talents to select, and then a more extensive list of general talents. Players may invest ranks into some of these talents to unlock additional features, up to a maximum of rank 3. Casting spells in Forbidden Lands will always happen but require expending Willpower which may have the chance to either overcharge the spell, or the player suffers a magical mishap. Ultimately, the hope is that players will incur riches, boons, reputation, and influence to establish their own stronghold. After all, while the nomadic adventurer’s life can be glamorous, having a safe place to return after an excursion is always lovely.

Many creatures, dangers, and mysteries wait in the Forbidden Lands

The setting brings many unexplored horizons, taking less the role of heroes and more of individuals thriving under a dark regime. While delving into the material, the inclusion of additional legends and backstories for the players during character creation enrich the experience and the setting.  Especially if the group decides to go the alternative character creation route which includes a randomized generation of race and professions. This is a game about thriving in a bleak existence where evil reigns but vast treasures from centuries ago lie hidden and forgotten by time. When players tally experience for their characters, it’s in the form of a questionnaire (you’ll find this familiar with games like Tales from the Loop), as the premise stems from the idea of the characters learning from their adventures to become wiser and smarter. Additionally, your character’s pride, dark secrets, and relationships are free to be changed across gameplay which provides a profound metaphor on the nature of growth and development.

You can find Free League Publishing’s Forbidden Lands in their storefront here: http://frialigan.se/en/store/?collection_id=84541866032

Additionally, Free League Publishing also launched the Raven’s Purge Campaign Book which as an epic campaign module for Forbidden Lands that can have a profound influence over the region. Unlike traditional story modules, there are no clear objectives but plenty of material for legends, locales, and individuals to interact.

Call to Adventure: “Pursuit of Knowledge”

An Adventure Hook Written By: Dice Prophet

Type: Dungeon, Puzzles, Riddles

System: D&D 5th Edition or Pathfinder

Ideal Party Size: 4-6

Recommended Levels: 3-5

Introduction

There comes a time in every adventurer’s career when they simply do not possess the required facts in order to complete a quest. Perhaps a key factoid is considered strictly forbidden or the last person who would’ve known died centuries ago? Thankfully, sphinxes are known to acquire vast knowledge throughout their long and storied existences, and can even be persuaded to share that information with others. Unfortunately, these magical immortal beasts can also be fickle and ferocious. In this adventure, a party of experienced travelers gambles their lives in the pursuit of forbidden knowledge. To succeed, they must pass a series of devious riddles.

Setup

This mission is centered around a gynosphinx, which is the female variant of the mythical species. Physically, they are composed of a human woman’s head atop the body of a lion with falcon wings. For the D&D 5th Edition statistics, refer to page 282 of the Monster Manual or this link. For the Pathfinder version, consult page 257 of Bestiary #1 or this link.

The purpose of the adventure is to wrangle some plot-relevant information from their target, not slay it. (Although the PCs can certainly try and suffer the likely lethal consequences.) The specifics of the sphinx’s personality are subject to change at DM’s discretion, but at the very least they must be willing to parlay with the party after succeeding the cloister of trials.

Development

The sphinx’s lair is a four-level descending dungeon in which the party must overcome and solve a variety of challenges. Allow the PCs to try out solutions before feeding them clues. The goal is to help them solve the puzzles themselves, not give them the answer once they roll high enough. The following encounters can be easily modified or changed entirely in order to fit your campaign setting and game mastering style.

Level B1: Gate Guardian

In order to enter the sphinx’ lair, they must first request access, and then contend with the guardian. Within a sand-filled room there is single hole on the ceiling from which descends a pillar of light upon the carved marble statue of a gynosphinx. The eyes are missing; in their place there are a pair of circular indents. There are also words chiseled into the figure’s base which read:

“Knowledge is a double-edged sword. Do you seek it nonetheless?”

The players simply have to answer, “Yes” to begin the first challenge. The light will cease, shrouding the environment to complete darkness. Some hidden rooms will open, dumping additional sand into the room. And one of these spaces houses a creature composed of animated sand. This creature is based upon the amphisbaena, and is a snake with a head on each end. Here are the stats for the Pathfinder and homebrew D&D 5e versions.

The sand snake contains a red jewel within each of its two heads. Once defeated in combat, the slithering construct dissipates, leaving behind the two gems with which they can unlock the entrance. Place the gems into the sphinx statue’s eyeholes to continue.

Level B2: Welcoming Party

The path downward takes them to a hallway filled with undead. These can be simple skeletons (D&D/Pathfinder) and zombies (D&D/Pathfinder). Another statuesque sentinel stands before the PCs, but this time its base is inscribed with the words:

“Those with blood of red shall join the dead. Those of a different shade will not be delayed.”

The undead spring into action and begin swarming the party. The PCs can either defeat the large swarm through attrition or solve the riddle to avoid risking injury. The “different shade” is a metaphor for “blue blood,” indicating nobility. Sphinxes are proud creatures after all, and will not grant an audience to anyone they deem of a lesser make. To successfully pass unhindered, those with blood ties to someone in authority (village chief, feudal lord, guard captain, etc.) must declare their heritage openly. If none of them have noble lineage, they can attempt a Bluff or Deception (Charisma) DC 20.

Level B3: Sinking Feeling

Beyond the hall of undeath stands a perfectly flat and pristine pit of sand. The top layer is perfectly smooth; not a single grain appears to have been disturbed. The same sphinx figure emerges from the center of the area as if magically sculpted from the surrounding material. This one reads:

“The fear that gives you wings shall also send you to the depths.

Whenever the players walk upon the sand, it will feel as if unseen hands are grasping them and pulling downwards, increasing in force with each progressive tug. The PCs subsequent efforts to remain afloat and the enchanted sand’s attempts to pull them through will result in a hapless character eventually getting stuck until they inevitably suffocate to death. To cross over to the other side, one must stand on the sand and relax; let go of the fear that makes you want to move up. The invisible force will gently pull them through the secret passage and into the final chamber within 30 seconds.

Level B4: Numbers Game

In the final room, the party finally comes face-to-face with the gynosphinx. She will beckon to them with one last challenge. If they can prove themselves worthy of her time, she will give them the information they seek. The win conditions are either to reduce her to half hit points, or solve the following riddle during combat.

“I shall divide you and conquer. When I was in my prime, I was untouchable.”

The room is a 50 ft. by 50 ft. chamber with balconies jutting out at all four corners at 20 ft. elevations. The sphinx can easily fly between the platforms to harass the players from afar. If provoked, it will land on the ground level to engage in melee. The floor is segmented like titles, and a closer inspection of the surrounding walls indicates that the rows and columns are labeled with numbers.

To be untouchable and thus unbeatable, stand upon the tiles in which a prime number would be inscribed. The prime numbers between 1-100 are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59,61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97. These numbers are tinted red on the sample map below.

The darkened borders on the 5 and 6 squares indicate the entrance points to the final room. The optionally greyed out regions indicate areas in which the ground has caved in from impact or the passage of time, forming lethal drops into a black void. Once all players are standing on the correct positions on a 10 x 10 grid, the test is passed.

Conclusion

Upon completing the final task, the gynosphinx agrees to converse with the party and divulges whatever information they were seeking. If the ensuing conversation goes favorable, consider gifting them with magical loot taken from the previous visitors, who expired in the final test and thus have no further use for their gear.

Call to Adventure: “Garden of Stone”

An Adventure Hook Written By: Dice Prophet

Type: Dungeon Dive, Hunting Quest, Wilderness Exploration, Rescue Mission

System: D&D 5th Edition or Pathfinder

Ideal Party Size: 4-6

Recommended Level: 3-5

Introduction

In this adventure, a routine monster hunting quest becomes deathly complicated as the party encounters uncovers an unusual alliance! A gargoyle band, along with their bizarre pets, have enacted a reign of terror!  Will the heroes break through the enemy lines, or will the monuments of their failures stand for all time?

Read the following flavor text to the PCs at the beginning of the quest:

“A month ago, a dreaded basilisk was spotted roaming the nearby canyon and turning hapless travelers into stone! And although several trained hunters were dispatched to end the slinking reptilian menace, none of them have returned!

Investigate the canyon and slay this beast! We offer a 1000 gold piece reward for whomever returns with this creature’s hide. An additional reward will be provided for any travelers rescued from the petrification process.”

Setup

The simple-minded basilisk (consult page 24 of the Monster Manual for more information) is a merely patrolling the canyon and searching for food; it transforms its prey into stone with its magical gaze and feasts upon their frozen bodies at its leisure. This particular creature has been raised in captivity and is capable of obeying simple commands from its owners. But who are these shadowy puppet masters?

The true villains are a tribe of vicious gargoyles (also referred to as a “nastiness”) that have take refuge in the earthen labyrinth. Page 140 of the Monster Manual will give you more information about these winged stone monsters. They lurk among the strewn-about humanoid pillars created by their pet, making them nearly impossible to detect. Whatever their faithful serpent fails to petrify, they brutally slaughter. Feel free to adjust the number of gargoyles present to the desired difficulty (2-3 for medium and 4-5 for hard).

The nastiness is exploiting the presence of a hungry and all-consuming black pudding to dispose of the evidence of their misdeeds. This monster’s statistics are found on page 241 of the Monster Manual or at this link. This creature does not understand anything and acts purely on instinct. The fact that the gargoyles are unaffected by its caustic nature is purely coincidental.

Development

The canyon is an expansive multi-tier dungeon with several places in which the players and monsters can hide. Traversal is difficult and frequently requires challenges such as Athletics (Strength) to scale cliffs and Survival (Wisdom) to avoid getting lost.

When they first arrive, allow them to briefly explore the premises and drop hints about the true enemy. Eventually, bring them into contact with the basilisk. Then surprise them with a gargoyle ambush. After that, the PCs become the hunted, and must evade, outsmart, and overcome their nefarious pursuers. Allow the outcomes of the pursuits to unfold organically through opposed checks such as Stealth (Dexterity) vs. Perception (Wisdom) and role-play.

Secret: The Master’s Quarters

But where did these creatures come from? If the PCs successfully explore and investigate their surroundings they will find a secret path into a wizard’s chambers at the heart of canyon. The nameless reclusive spellcaster had long-since expired from some unknown happenstance, but his familiar (the basilisk) and his sentries (the gargoyles) lingered behind. Over the years, the guardians grew bored and took to terrorizing the locals to pass the time. Use the wizard’s quarters as a means of rewarding the perceptive and inquisitive party with magical loot for their troubles.

Optional Objective: Rescuing NPCs

Throughout the adventure, the players can attempt to rescue anyone who has been petrified but hasn’t been killed or eaten yet. This can be accomplished by applying basilisk gullet oil, or through alternative magical means. As long as vital parts are still attached to the afflicted the de-petrification will yield a viable character.

The specific nature of each of these NPCs is up to Dungeon Master’s discretion. If they are having too much trouble, perhaps grant them a powerful ally who could help turn the tide against the gargoyles? Maybe one of the people they rescue yield a larger reward due to their higher social status? This could lead to other plot developments down the line. Experiment with the idea and have fun with it!

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN: MORDENKAINEN’S TOME OF FOES

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN

 

MICHAEL BERTOLINI

 

This series will give you insight into games and expansions that you might not have ever heard of before.  Most of these titles are exclusive to certain online retailers and can be applied to games that you currently play or add more to your home-brew games.  If you know of a book or game that’s just released or about to be released let me know; @mbertolini

 

MORDENKAINEN’S TOME OF FOES

 

“Discover the truth about the great conflicts of the D&D multiverse in this supplement for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.”

 

That’s the tag-line for Wizard of the Coast’s book, ‘Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes’, to be released May 29th; it might be a supplement beyond the core rules which will likely appeal to DMs more than players, but it will bring into focus the current multi-verse.  Every iteration of Dungeons and Dragons has involved a shift in the multi-verse in some way; previous editions of the game have hinted at it in various books that the DM could use to bring players into The Forgotten Realms or Gray  Hawk, but these are books that are not only meant for players to know about (and use beyond aspects of character creation) but experience.  Almost every player of Dungeons and Dragons has heard of Mordenkainen, and players can even get some of these books (and the knowledge they contain) in various Dungeons and Dragons games (Volo’s Guide to Monsters).  There’s no reason to think that Tome of Foes and Guide to Monsters will be much different aside from the focus of observation; Tome of Foes will focus heavily on the Dungeons and Dragons multi-verse and likely concern itself with many of the popular monsters we’ve seen from there aside from any new monsters it introduces.

Despite what you might be thinking right now, this article is not entirely about Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes; I am going to visit one of the monsters from the past of Dungeons and Dragons that originates from the multiverse yet has gone on to fill our imaginations and homebrew games over the past few decades.  Specifically, I’m going to to discuss a monster that hearkens back to the start of Dungeons and Dragons; The Balor.

The Balor is a fiend, huge in size, from the abyss.  It doesn’t wear armor but relies on its natural physical defense to give it an armor class rating of 19 (not to mention immunities to Fire and Poison).  It can fly much faster than it walks and it possesses enough HP to make some adventurers question their decisions to bring them face to face with such a creature.

However; the Balor can be defeated.  It is weak to Ice and Lightning magic, as well as most weapons, and though physically strong it is cumbersome and its size can be used against it by resourceful players.  It won’t be an easy fight, and the chances of a TPK (Total Party Kill) are high, especially at a low level, but victory can be achieved by any players willing to embrace the fire that envelops the Balor.

There is more to the multi-verse than the abyss; and it will be up to books like Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes to get us deeper.

Call to Adventure: “The Bookkeepers”

An Adventure Hook Written By: Dice Prophet

Type: Mystery, Investigation

System: D&D 5th Edition or Pathfinder

Ideal Party Size: 4-5

Recommended Levels: 1-2

Introduction

This adventure begins as a macabre paranormal investigation of a purportedly haunted library. Upon closer examination, the player characters learn that this phenomenon is merely the machinations of a mischievous pair of faerie dragons who have become trapped in the prime material plane. True to their nature, they have taken to terrorizing the locals with trickery as they attempt to find their way back home.

Read the following flavor text to the PCs at the beginning of the quest:

“Rumors have circulated that Arnost Library is under siege by angry spirits. A week ago, a sudden flash of green light from the East Wing heralded a series of ghastly sightings! Ever since then, the building has been plagued by the restless undead.

Locals reported seeing a chain-bound specter with empty black eyes roaming among the shelves. The Head Librarian claimed that the books are constantly rearranging themselves and floating in midair. A guttural incorporeal voice constantly demands tribute with an insatiable zeal. And just yesterday, a precision of trained and armed city watch members ran screaming from the building after just an hour of investigation; they have inconsolable ever since. For public safety, the library is now under quarantine.

We beseech the aid of brave adventurers to help cleanse this blight from our beloved town! We offer 400 gold pieces and access to the library’s restricted texts for anyone who succeeds in this task!”

Setup

The adventure revolves around a faerie dragon duo with the names Aya and Waska. For their 5th Edition stats, consult page 133 of the Monster’s Manual. If you’re running Pathfinder, the monster details are located at page 91 of Bestiary 3 or at this link. These creatures are the size of cats (tiny) and sprout translucent, butterfly-like wings in lieu of the bat-like structures of “true” dragons.

Aya’s body is covered with shimmering interlocked blue scales, indicating that she is 31-40 years of age, and can cast spells up to Major Image (D&D/Pathfinder) to assist in her façade. Her younger brother Waska is armored in glistening emerald plates and has lesser combat and spellcasting ability.

Development

Tactics

The dragon siblings to not wish to kill anybody, but they will harm anyone they deem to be a threat. They will only resort to direct attacks when cornered. Otherwise, they prefer to drop objects from the environment onto their enemies, ranging from small knick-knacks to entire bookshelves, depending on the situation.

Investigation

Aya and Waska are using combinations of their invisibility, illusions, spells, deceptions, and environmental assets to create the appearance of a haunting. Below are some examples of checks that the players can attempt to discern the true nature of their enemy.

Arcana (Intelligence) DC 10 or any spell/ability that detects undead – There are no signs of undead activity or traces of necrotic energy on the premises.

Arcana (Intelligence) or Knowledge: Planes DC 16 – You can sense the remnants of planar magic in the vicinity. The “green flash” reported by the townsfolk may have been an side-effect of a portal spell.

Perception (Wisdom) DC 20 – The dragons let out a stifled giggle whenever they successfully pull off an amusing prank. This snicker can be detected by a keen ear in the aftermath of such an event.

Investigation vs. Deception or Knowledge: Local vs. Bluff – Many of these ghostly sightings are oddly familiar. You realize that they are ripped straight from local books and tales from this specific building.

Nature or Knowledge: Nature DC 10 – There has been a disembodied voice demanding “tribute” from the townsfolk. It has rejected everything from trinkets to jewels, but finally accepted offerings of food. In particular, the presence favors baked goods and sweets more than anything else.

Survival (Wisdom) DC 14 – You locate tiny tracks running along the bookshelves. They are composed on three clawed fingers and an opposable thumb. DC 20 – You find some loose powder clinging to some of the books. Upon closer inspection it shimmers like a prism when scattered.

Conclusion

Once the true nature of the “haunting” is revealed, Aya and Waska will make their presence known. They mean no harm, but they have no reason to trust anyone due to their unfamiliarity with their surroundings. Aya has been fastidiously studying books on magic in order to conjure up a portal to take them both back home. They were banished from their homelands for being too mischievous, and clearly haven’t learned their lesson at all. From here, the players can decide their fate. Do they exterminate them? Take them in as familiars? Or join them in their quest to return to the Feywild?

Call to Adventure: “Song of the Sea”

An Adventure Hook Written By: Dice Prophet

Type: Monster Hunt, Aquatic

System: Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons

Ideal Party Size: 4-6

Recommended Levels: 10-12

Concept

The undead can take many forms. Whether they be a decaying zombie, a shambling skeleton, or a spectre, death is not always the end of a creature’s story. And when something dies in the grip of a terrible rage or intense sorrow, dark forces may imbue them with a second life in which they can seek vengeance.

In this tale, a great and majestic beast was wronged, and from that incident a seed of evil took root. Out of the endless blue springs a bakekujira, a re-animated whale corpse that spreads corruption everywhere it travels. This necrotic leviathan is both a vicious adversary and a harbinger of great disaster if left unchallenged. It will take a team of highly-skilled and powerful monster slayers to quell its supernatural fury.

Introduction

This adventure requires the party to be staying at a settlement situated near the ocean. The storyline begins in medias res; the party members are going about their business and suddenly attacked by zombie-like creatures spawned from the ghost whale.

Read the following flavor text to the PCs at the beginning of the quest:

“It began as a distant song carried upon the coastal winds. A mournful melody echoed across the port town as an eerie fog crept inland. Then the water levels rose as the temperature plummeted, and the air became filled with the scent of decay. When the heartbreaking harmony finally ceased, it was already too late.

From within the murky depths, countless living corpses arose and attacked all they lay before them. Some unseen entity amassed an army of undead and unleashed them upon the unsuspecting populace. As the slaughter began and pandemonium swept across the seaside town, your eyes were drawn towards the horizon by a loud splashing noise. Past the dense obscuring fog, you glimpsed the faintest silhouette of some massive beast breaching the water before sinking away.

But before you can comprehend the nature of the distant leviathan, you must stand your ground against an oncoming wave of rotting flesh and rusted steel.”

Setup

A bakekujira, or “ghost whale,” is a formidable beast that could easily overwhelm a party of veteran adventures in a direct confrontation. In regards to this creature’s stats consult either the Pathfinder version or the Homebrew D&D 5th Edition version.

The creature itself houses several terrible creatures within its decomposing husk. Otherworldly species of fish and birds circle the carcass and gradually pick away at the carrion. This imposes no mechanical disadvantage to the bakekujira, but these wild creatures may attack the PCs if they are provoked. The creature is also viciously protected by a crew of draugr sired from the people it has killed. These barnacle-encrusted zombies display humanoid intelligence and can climb structures and use tools, but cannot speak or be reasoned with.

The presence of the ghost whale also has negative effects on the environment. It spreads disease and corruption wherever it goes, so the local flora begins to die off and most of the fauna is either driven away or destroyed. This means that resources such as food are greatly diminished for the duration of the adventure. The water is also rendered putrid and unsafe to swim in or drink, unless magical precautions are taken.

Development

The adventure is composed of three sections. The party is first attacked by an army of the ghost whale’s sired undead. Then, if they choose to accept the follow-up mission, the PCs can hop onto a ship and track down the creature through the mist. If they successfully locate the beast they can finally attempt to destroy it.

I. Attack the Dock

The town is attacked by a massive wave of draugr coughed up from the putrescent bowels of the creature. For the monster has become so seeped with necrotic energy that even the creatures it devours has a chance of becoming undead slaves to its will. This section is an opportunity for the players to be heroes and mow down waves of baddies in rapid succession. They can also participate in the rescue of innocents, if they so please. The encounter can end once they have either successfully slain a satisfactory amount of foes, or when they are in danger of being overwhelmed by the numbers disadvantage.

Optionally, if the players have a beloved NPC in the seaside town under seige, hurting or killing that character could spur them to hunt down the bakekujira for a personal vendetta.

At the conclusion to the draugr attack, a warship called the Seraph (see NPC section below) arrives at the harbor and the crew members assist with finishing off the undead scourge. The captain is an aasimar named Andrea Demoray, and fills the party in on what has just transpired. She has been tracking the elusive creature for months but it always manages to be one league ahead of her. She will offer the PCs a place on her ship if they wish to join her in the hunt.

II. Set Sail

This section is an extended seafaring journey in which the PCs track down the fleeing bakekujira through naviational and investigatory checks. Apply weather changes and add random encounters to break up the monotony of overland travel. This is also a good opportunity for the players to get to the know the captain and crew, so you can twist the knife if any of them die in the final confrontation.

Whenever the ghost whale emerges again to attacks a settlement, the party has a chance of intercepting the sighting if they plan accordingly and the dice favor them. If they arrive too late, they can resume clearing out the undead and saving the town in the aftermath. But once the ship carrying the PCs successfully catches up to the undead whale, the final battle begins.

III. The Vessel of Vengeance

This battle consists of maneuvering the ship around the beast and attacking it at distance. The creature will sink below the depths after taking damage and attempt to attack the boat from underneath in an attempt to capsize it. At close proximity, the creature emits a nauseating odor that can induce status ailments. It may also regurgitate more draugr onto the deck of the galleon to act as distractions. The crew must use harpoons to secure the beast and prevent it from escaping so they can begin attacking it directly.

Throughout the battle, the undead whale sings a depressing dirge that can be heard by everyone within proximity. A successful Knowledge Nature (Intelligence) DC 22 will reveal that this is a mother’s call; the bakekujira is searching for its child and using the tune to draw it out. Sadly, the child has long since grown old and died on its own accord, but the mother continues to fruitlessly sing her song, ever hopeful. After assessing this information, any musically-inclined characters can attempt a Performance (Charisma) vs Will/Wisdom Save to emulate the corresponding song in order to deceive the beast. This can lead to wrangling advantages such as drawing the beast to a vulnerable position, calming it down, or reducing damage and hit-chance. The effects are entirely up to the GM’s discretion.

Once the bakekujira has been reduced to half hit points or fewer, pieces of its rotting mass will begin to peel away, revealing more of its skeleton. A successful Perception (Wisdom) DC 20 will allow the PCs to notice a massive rusted harpoon deeply embedded into the creature’s throat. This weapon is larger than anything their current ship has onboard, and is far too decrepit to have been pierced into the beast recently. The fight can proceed as usual until all the creature’s hit points are depleted. But climbing atop the beast and physically removing the harpoon with a Strength DC 25 will end the fight immediately, as the source of the whale’s pain will finally be removed. The husk will reliquish its grudge and finally sink to the ocean floor.

NPCs: The Seaworthy

Andrea Demoray is a chaotic good aasimar arcane trickster and captain of the warship Seraph. This galleon contains a force of twenty-six sailors, mercenaries, and privateers that are collectively known as the “Angels of Mercy.” Captain Demoray has a sardonic demeanor and often invokes gallows humor whenever she find herself in a precarious situation, which is all the time. She is a take-charge commander who fights wildly with a cutlass in her left hand and spells in the other. Easily bored, Andrea is also prone to fidgeting and is often seen puffing on a long and slender wooden pipe. Last time she encountered the bakekujira, it nearly devoured her and she was rescued by her first mate, but at the cost of his own life. She now seeks to destroy the ghost whale before it can cause any more harm, as well as to avenge her fallen comrade.

Conclusion

After the zombified whale is slain, the PCs can decide to go their separate ways after being dropped off at shore by their temporary allies. Alternatively, they can continue sailing around with the motley crew if they want to have more adventures at sea.

Slaughtermelon

slaughtermelon“But I want it—”
“No Dave that fruit will eat you instead!”
—Dave and Fletch

Large plant, unalligned

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 72 (8d10+32)
Speed 10 ft., burrow 10 ft.

STR: 14 (+2)
DEX: 12 (+1)
CON: 18 (+4)
INT: 4 (-3)
WIS: 14 (+2)
CHA: 16 (+3)

Damage Vulnerabilities Fire
Senses passive Perception 12, Stealth +6
Languages None
Challenge 2 (450 xp)


False Appearance. While the slaughtermelon remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a normal plant.


ACTIONS

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a medium or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or be swallowed by the slaughtermelon. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained, it has total cover against attacks and other effects outside the slaughtermelon, and it takes 14 (4d6) acid damage at the start of each of the slaughtermelon’s turns. If the slaughtermelon takes 15 damage or more on a single turn from a creature inside it, the slaughtermelon must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw at the end of that turn or regurgitate all swallowed creatures, which fall prone in a space within 10 feet of the slaughtermelon. If the worm slaughtermelon dies, a swallowed creature is no longer restrained by it and can escape from the corpse by using 20 feet of movement, exiting prone.


Slaughtermelon

Squat and bulbous, a slaughtermelon tries to blend in with other foliage by remaining motionless or hiding under the dirt with just the lure dangling above. It’s not uncommon for farmers to go missing in areas heavily infected with slaughtermelons since the creatures can easily (yet slowly) sneak into garden patches.

Alluring Fruit. Dangling above the slaughtermelon is an attractive fruit from its own vine. A slaughtermelon can grow a ripe piece of fruit mimicking any fruit around it. Using this technique, it can trick animals or unsuspecting humanoids into walking near its maw, where it bites and devours its prey. Consequently, the ripe fruit is highly valued by the aristocracy in that it is richly sweet and very rare, so some daring farmers make a living by breeding and growing slaughtermelon farms.

Born of Blends. Slaughtermelons reproduce by infecting other seeds with their pollen. Because of this, slaughtermelons can grow from several types of plant seeds, even taking on forms similar to the ones they infect. Pumpkins, squash, cantaloupes, and eggplants are the most common since they grow large, bulbous fruits.