BSO Ragnarok 1.30: Troubles Rise From Yggdrasil’s Roots Part 1 — Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors, and Shadow Maw

Welcome to Part 3 of the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim — an unofficial, unaffiliated OGL Dungeons and Dragons adventure designed to take characters from level 1 all the way to level 5-7! This is the third module provided for the larger BSO Ragnarök campaign. Here, the PCs continue their journey as unlikely heroes in the BSO Ragnarök setting. It is also part 1 of the adventure — Troubles Rise from Yggdrasil’s Roots.

Toubles Rise — provides players with a choice of two paths. They can decide to enter Goblin Town — a new gathering of monsters led by Shadow Maw in the hills near Yggdrasil. Or they can decide to investigate the Ramshackle House — which is occupied by PKers in service to Svartalfheim’s lord King Doomshallow. Each opens to a dungeon that characters can explore — providing monsters and/or PKers to defeat, mysteries to uncover, and treasure to be won. These adventures are designed for a party of 4-6 level 2 adventurers and will take the players to level 3-4 when completed. Which path the characters choose will determine the events of the next chapter in the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim series — Safe Zones Lost, Midgard Invaded.

Updated Midgard Campaign Map Including Recent Key Locations. Original map made by Ted Burgess.

To make Troubles Rise… less cumbersome as a blog post, it has been broken into two parts. Part 1 — describing Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors, and Shadow Maw is provided below. Part 2 will publish about a week or two after Part 1.

I am running Battlestorm Ragnarök as a live campaign. Play is live-streamed on Twitch Saturday Nights about once every three weeks at Ted Burgess’s Twitch page. Afterward, videos of these live games along with character profiles are provided here in the Battlestorm Ragnarök Campaign Archive. In addition, I’m providing walk-throughs of these published modules about once every two weeks every Sunday or Monday Night on my Twitch page.

Below is the Goblin Town, Hollow of Horrors and Shadow Maw section of the Dungeons and Dragons adventure module Troubles Rise From Yddgrasil’s Roots. Enjoy it here for free.

Because we love WOTC and want to promote their original gaming products — the books and electronic guides we use to play our games — I’m listing some links here. Please check them out if you haven’t already: The Monster Manual, The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

(Warning: if you are a player in the Battlestorm Online Ragnarok campaign setting STOP READING NOW.)

Walkthrough of Trouble’s Rise — Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors and Shadow Maw


The players have now begun to learn quite a lot about the new troubles besetting Midgard. Following the rescue of Raven and the bittersweet reunion with her daughter Thalia, our heroes went on to uncover up to two new threats facing Midgard. The first is a town of monsters forming in the hills to the East of Yggdrasil. The second is a PKer guild that preys on adventurers in the weakening safe zones of Mio Elysse while hiding out in a Ramshackle House that has been cast into darkness by Yggdrasil’s roots. Depending on the course of your campaign, the players may have completed one or both of these quests before reaching level 2. If they have completed both, give them the Quest Alert below and the Quest Alert from Troubles Rise Part 2.

If the players decide to Slay Shadow Maw, read the following recap and introduction below. If the players decide to Investigate the Ramshackle House and Apprehend the Leaders of Kills4LULZ, skip this section and go on to Troubles Rise Part 2 (Publishing on this blog site in about 1-2 weeks).

Venturing into Midgard beneath the new star’s blue light — a star Astrid’s prophecy reveled to you is the very Eye of Odin come to gaze upon the void — you discovered dark shadows and odd happenings among Yggdrasil’s Roots. At Hobgoblin Hill, you found monsters spawning among an old tower’s ruins wandering away from their lair. These hobgoblins had been freed by Yggdrasil’s roots — which unbound them from their typical range near the Hill’s ruins and allowed them to wander through Midgard. You also learned that these roots brought with them the cold, deep shadows of Ginnungagap. Appearing to devour lands in darkness, these pools of void spawned living shades who emerged to strike you with ghostly hands. Each ethereal touch brought with it a weakening chill — pulling you down into the void to fill ranks of shadows. Luckily, you survived your encounter with these undead.

You learned that the hobgoblins weren’t simply wandering about aimlessly. The hobgoblins instead traveled directly to a hidden destination. About a half mile away from Hobgoblin Hill was a hollow mouth in a valley wall spewing out the swirling waters of a subterranean stream. This cave mouth was guarded by two watch towers and a wooden gate. Within the cave, lights from oily fires gleamed and wicked laughter could be heard.

As you approached the cave, a new feature appeared on your player map — labeling the opening as an entrance to Goblin Town. You were unable to venture too close to Goblin Town, though, as you were spotted by goblin scouts hiding within a wooded area leading up to the cave mouth’s opening. These scouts attacked you even as they raised the alarm at Goblin Town’s gates. As Goblins and Hobgoblins swarmed out, you were forced to flee.

You returned to your home town with crucial new information. Yggdrasil’s roots dredged up shadows of void. These shadows somehow freed monsters to roam about in Midgard. Even worse, the monsters freed in this way were gathering together — filling up a macabre new town in Midgard’s hills. The goblins and hobgoblins in this town now pose a major threat to every adventurer in Midgard. For from its gates issue war bands. One day it may belch forth an army of monsters!

Disturbed by this knowledge, your rest is troubled. You realize your Inn is just an ephemeral haven within a safe zone beset by myriad troubles. Yggdrasil’s Roots are dredging up the void’s very substance. Their darkness brings undead, creates bridges between Midgard and entire dungeon realms like Svartalfheim, and perhaps worst of all, allows monsters to wander freely in Midgard, to gather, and to even form armies. Following your unsettled rest, you receive a notification from RubyNight — NEW QUEST AVAILABLE!! SLAY SHADOW MAW OF GOBLIN TOWN!! URGENT NEED TO COMPLETE!! MEET WITH QUEST-GIVER RUBYNIGHT TO RECIEVE!! After all you’ve been through over the past couple of days, you understand Ruby’s fears all-too-well.

Helpful Hints from RubyNight — Goblins Fleeing Shadow Maw’s Devouring Jaws

Ruby, as usual, is available to meet at the Guild Hall during the day or at Thunderale Tavern during night-time (see Ominous Signs Part 1). At their meeting, Ruby expresses her relief that the players returned safely after nearly having to face a horde of monsters issuing from the gates of Goblin Town. Ruby seems sheepish about asking them return to danger so soon. But she believes she may be able to provide them with helpful hints on how to approach Goblin Town. While the players were away, another adventuring group scouted the lands surrounding Goblin Town on a Quest for RubyNight. They discovered some of the goblins within the Town were trying to escape into the surrounding lands. When approached, the goblins at first cowered in fear — begging for their lives. They gladly gave information in return. The reason why they fled was to escape to devouring jaws of Shadow Maw — a fiendish hound-like creature that can turn into a goblin but is also said to eat them. The adventurers found that Shadow Maw is the organizing force behind Goblin Town. RubyNight believes that letting such a powerful and dangerous leader of monsters — able to organize forces on such a massive scale — could result in terror reigning across Midgard. So, even though she knows the risks are high, she asks the players to sneak into Goblin Town and take down Shadow Maw.

New Quest From RubyNight — Slay Shadow Maw the Boss of Goblin Town

A new darkness has emerged in Midgard. It is a fiendish hound of King Doomshallow who is now swelling the might of this dark lord by building him armies both in Midgard and in Svartalfheim. If the players undertake this quest, they will directly confront the horrific creature that is Shadow Maw — Queen of Goblin Town and huntress in the Hollows of Horror that open behind it. What follows is the story of how Shadow Maw came to rule Goblin Town. It is essential reading for the Dungeon Master as the players will either confront Shadow Maw now or later. If the players instead decide to investigate the Ramshackle House, they’ll be faced with Shadow Maw in the next chapter of this adventure series — Safe Zones Lost, Midgard Invaded.

Quest Background: Shadow Maw, the Terrible Barghest Queen of Goblin Town

Shadow Maw is indeed the organizing terror behind Goblin Town. A Barghest with some modifications, Shadow Maw is a fiendish ‘hound’ of King Doomshallow of Svartalfheim. Given free reign to hunt, one day Shadow Maw discovered a root of Yggdrasil emerging from a tunnel floor within Svartalfheim. Shadow Maw found that the shadows around the root created a pathway to a cave within Midgard. Confined to the shadows and unable to venture further into this tantalizing new realm, Shadow Maw was about to stalk back to her home when she saw the flickering of torchlight. A lone adventurer had found the cave and was searching it for monsters. Shadow Maw slunk back into the darkness, transformed into her goblin form, and made a stumbling noise to attract the adventurer. Upon seeing the goblin, the adventurer charged only to find himself facing against a horrific fiendish predator. Shadow Maw made short work of the adventurer who died — leaving a fragment of Deep Shard as remains. Shadow Maw then devoured the Deep Shard. Finding its darkly rich taste to her liking, Shadow Maw decided to lair in the cave.

After killing two more adventurers and devouring their remnant Deep Shards as well, Shadow Maw discovered she could now roam freely about Midgard. Venturing out, she found a wandering group of goblins. After killing their leader, she brought the goblins back to the cave as her servants and protectors. By talking with her new servants, she learned of other goblins and hobgoblins wandering the lands after Yggdrasil’s roots had freed them. She sent out her dark power to these goblinkin — drawing them to her. Soon after, Goblin Town was founded.

Shadow Maw continued to devour goblins, adventurers, and deep shard remnants as her tastes dictated. But she found her hunger increased even as a darkness began to spill from her mouth. She thought little of her cravings. After a time, two emissaries of King Doomshallow — one Duergar and one Drow — arrived. They brought with them a message which read — “Your gifts of servants have made you the greatest of my hounds. We shall use them in our coming war against Midgard. Continue. Gather your forces and send me more of these servants. I find them both wonderous and dark.”

Each time Shadow Maw devoured a goblin or a hobgoblin, they were transformed into a Skeleton, Zombie, or a Shadow and sent to serve King Doomshallow. Each time she destroyed an adventurer, another Deep Shard added to the might of the darkness gathering within her. Now she rules Goblin Town from her dark throne at the end of her Hollow of Horrors — her tunneled hunting grounds where she takes goblins, hobgoblins, and adventurers alike for sport and to swell the ranks of King Doomshallow’s armies. Goblins and Hobgoblins in Goblin Town have fractured under Shadow Maw into three rough groups. The first are fanatical devotees who believe that serving Shadow Maw will grant them preferential treatment (sometimes she does, but Shadow Maw is fickle). The second are those whose AIs haven’t yet developed a sense of self preservation. They follow Shadow Maw automatically and in an uncaring fashion, although they sometimes display confusion over their present circumstances. The third group are those who’ve realized Shadow Maw presents a terrible danger to them. Some of this group fled and asked for help from adventurers. The rest live in a constant state of terror in Goblin Town and may give adventurers subtle aid as they move to confront the Barghest.

Quest Alert: Infiltrate Goblin Town and Slay Shadow Maw

Make a copy of the following green highlighted text to give to the players when they receive this Quest from RubyNight:

Situation: Monsters are gathering in Goblin Town in large numbers. They represent a threat to all who travel across the central lands of Midgard. They are mostly Goblins and Hobgoblins organized and led by Shadow Maw — a creature that can take either the form of fiendish hound or a goblin. Shadow Maw rules over goblin town through terror. She hunts and devours her own subjects. She has also killed a number of adventurers.

Objective: Infiltrate Goblin Town and slay Shadow Maw.

Objective: Disrupt and disperse the monsters gathered in Goblin Town.

Objective: Some goblins live in fear of being devoured by Shadow Maw. If possible, find these goblins and seek their aid in your attack on Shadow Maw.

Objective: Learn more about Shadow Maw, its origins, and the gathering of monsters in Goblin Town.

Reward: 750 gold (250 gold awarded by each of the major guilds).

Hobgoblin Raiders and Sneaking into Goblin Town

After the players accept this quest, they must then journey to Goblin Town and plan their entry into its dungeon environment. Goblin Town is to the east of Yggdrasil in a hilly region of land that spills down into plains. Nestled in a valley, the town features only one entrance which is guarded by a wooden wall, a simple gate, and two wooden watch towers. Use the Midgard campaign map (updated above) for the players’ overland journey. You may wish to include a random encounter appropriate for level 2 characters along the way. The lands away from towns and safe zones should begin to feel more dangerous. You can add to this tensions by making the monsters seem more bold and aggressive. For example, an ambush by a roving Giant Spider or a group of two Giant Frogs might help to set the tone.

Hobgoblin Raiders

Once the players reach Goblin Town’s environs, they may begin to notice some changes. So long as at least one party member has a passive Perception of 10, read the following description.

The woods ahead are now a familiar outlier which you know screens Goblin Town’s ugly entrance. Lurking within is a group of four heavily armed hobgoblins. They move outward swiftly, finger weapons, and seem ready for a fight.

Regardless, when the players arrive in the vicinity of Goblin Town, they encounter a band of four Hobgoblin (Monster Manual, 186) raiders who immediately attack once they see the party. They are one of four groups sent out by Shadow Maw to raid travelers passing near Goblin Town and should be positioned in the woods leading up to the gate. If the party is stealthy, they may avoid the raiders who have a passive perception of 10.

Map of Goblin Town’s Entrance and its surrounding lands. Battle map is sized for 37×40 5 foot grid squares.

Treasure: The hobgoblin raiders drop 4 gold, 12 silver, and 10 copper. They each wear chainmail and a shield, carry a longsword and a longbow and have quivers with ten arrows (40 total). Their gear can be sold for half value in a Home Town. In addition, their clothes and equipment can be donned by players attempting to disguise themselves to enter Goblin Town (see below).

Entering Goblin Town

Loud shrieks, wicked lights, and oily smoke spills from the cave entrance to Goblin Town. A river of polluted water flows out between two rickety towers and through an opening in a wooden palisade wall. Two hobgoblins guard a gate in the wall. You see four pairs of goblin eyes peering out from fighting platforms on the towers.

After dealing with the hobgoblin raiders, the party must then devise a way to enter Goblin Town. The gate is presently guarded by two Hobgoblins. In addition, four Goblins man the towers — with two in each tower. If the party engaged with the hobgoblin raiders in the woods, those manning the gates and the towers are on heightened alert. Players attempting to sneak into Goblin Tower make stealth checks at disadvantage as a result.

Treasure: These goblins and hobgoblins drop 6 gold, 15 silver, 8 copper and one topaz worth 5 gold. The only gear that’s retrievable after the fight is 20 arrows, one suit of chainmail (half value), and one longsword (half value).

A Tough Fight

Fighting the guards is a rather bad idea as it will result in eight goblins and four hobgoblins arriving two rounds after combat begins (from area 1 in Goblin Town below) so long as one of the goblins in the towers rings one of the alarm bells hanging inside the towers. If these bells are rung, residents of Goblin Town are also on put on high alert (see below). If both groups of guards are defeated at the gate, the PCs may continue into Goblin Town, but are likely to face further combat against large groups of monsters.

Sneaking Into Goblin Town

For those attempting to sneak in, there is little cover or concealment on land. Hiding in the hills behind the gate is possible for those making successful athletics checks to climb into the hills (DC 10), Stealth checks to avoid being seen by the guards while climbing the hills (DC 10), and final Stealth checks to drop down behind the gate and into the cave entrance from above without being noticed (DC 15). Jumping down from the hills into the cave also requires a DC 13 Athletics check to avoid taking 1d6 damage from the fall.

The river provides another means of possible stealth entrance for the players. Those making successful Athletics checks (DC 13) may swim against the current. They must stay beneath the water, holding their breath, and make successful DC 10 Stealth checks to avoid detection. They must then scale the waterfall from beneath the flow of water — requiring a DC 15 Athletics check. Once scaling the waterfall, they must again swim underwater for another twenty feet into the cave to avoid detection (DC 10 Stealth and DC 13 Athletics).

Bluffing Your Way into Goblin Town

Bluffing the hobgoblin guards is also possible so long as the players have secured hobgoblin gear from the raiders or have devised some other way to come up with a reasonable disguise. Though without a Disguise Kit or some kind of illusion magic, the hobgoblin guards will almost surely discover them. In addition, if the deceiving player cannot speak goblin, any Deception checks are made at disadvantage as they attempt to use non-verbal signals to bluff their way in. Just wearing the hobgoblin gear and bringing along any extra players as prisoners requires a successful DC 23 Deception check. A successful Disguise Kit check of 13 and a following Deception check of 13 would also allow entry. If illusion is used on at least 1-2 players, the above Deception checks are made with advantage. If illusion is used on all players wearing hobgoblin gear, the difficulty of all deception checks is also reduced by 5. Last of all, if there are more PCs than hobgoblin gear, the players may try to persuade the guards that these players are captives by succeeding on a DC 13 Persuasion skill check.

Facilitating Challenges For Creative Players

Of course, players may use other creative magics (charms, animal friends, animal forms etc) to attempt to gain entry. Be open to players thinking outside the box and allow them to attempt to execute various creative, non-combat means of entry if they’re so inclined. Use your discretion to adjudicate these unforeseen challenges.

A Dungeon Town of Goblins and Hobgoblins

To navigate Goblin Town’s dangers, players will likely need to balance cunning, diplomacy and use of force. Three factions of goblins and hobgoblins inhabit the town (see The Three Monster Factions below). Each goblin faction has different motivations, perceptions, and levels of alertness. Astute players can leverage the factions’ differences to gain advantage, allies, and even temporary safety.

General Features

Goblin Town occupies a large central cavern with various chambers that off-shoot from the main area. A river that is eight feet deep at its center runs through the town. The central cavern’s ceiling is 15 feet high near the walls and increases to 30 feet high at the cavern’s center. Lighting is bright within twenty feet of light sources indicated on the map. Otherwise, lighting in the central cavern and area 6 is dim. Area 7 is dimly lit by glowing crystals. Area 8 is dark. Staircases leading down into The Hollow of Horrors are cut out of living rock. The bridge in area 3 was constructed by dwarves long ago. The cavern’s one ogre — Smash Face — demands tribute from any who cross the bridge. His loud, bellowed demands can be heard throughout Goblin Town. These bellows mix with the wicked laughter and chanting of the goblin fanatics in areas 2 and 6.

Dungeon Maps

Below are two larger dungeon maps covering all of Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors and Shadow Maw’s Throne (Area 25). One is gridded to provide the proper scale. Another is un-gridded if you need a non gridded option. Areas 23, 24 and 25 along with 15 and 16 also provide high resolution versions of Shadow Maw’s Throne (gridded and non gridded) and Ghoul Spider Ambush for use as battle maps.

Gridded version of Goblin Town and the Hollow of Horrors

This large gridded dungeon map for Troubles Rise Part 1 is made for virtual tabletop use at moderate resolution and 1.8 MB.

Clean version of Goblin Town and the Hollow of Horrors. Both maps are originally made by me using Inkarnate.

A non-gridded map of Goblin Town and the Hollow of Horrors is also provided for your ease of use on virtual table tops. Also at 1.8 MB resolution.

The Three Monster Factions

One group are fanatical devotees of Shadow Maw. These goblins and hobgoblins control areas 2 and 6 of Goblin Town. They are also the ruling force within the town. This group believes that if they give Shadow Maw what she wants, she will devour them last, or not at all. There is some truth to this assumption — as Shadow Maw favors devouring her least effective or most rebellious servants. However, Shadow Maw is both fickle and hungry. So even fanatical devotion is no guarantee. The PCs, though, will be unable to negotiate with this set of goblins and hobgoblins. In fact, if this group notices the adventurers, they’ll try to mount a large force to capture them and present them as prizes to Shadow Maw.

The second group involves typical goblin and hobgoblin AIs. They occupy area of 4 of Goblin Town. The guards to the Hollow of Horrors at areas 10 are also typical goblins and hobgoblins. These goblins and hobgoblins are set up to fight adventurers and do so without thinking even as they act like typical monsters. They do not relish attacking adventurers as Shadow Maw’s devotees do, however. And, recently, some among this group have begun to question their existence as well as the wisdom of serving a vicious monster like Shadow Maw who will ultimately devour them in the end. If a rare opportunity arises for a PC to converse with one of these goblins or hobgoblins outside of combat, they can persuade these monsters to behave non-aggressively with a successful DC 20 Persuasion check. The monsters will not, however, directly help the players. But they may help tilt odds in the players’ favor. Such typical goblins and hobgoblins may be asked to look the other way as PCs pass, for example.

Group three are composed of goblins and hobgoblins who’ve fully realized that Shadow Maw will ultimately kill them. These monsters occupy area 5. In addition, a hobgoblin alchemist hermit with similar views lives in a hovel concocting various potions in area 9. Members of this group feel compelled to obey Shadow Maw and her servants only under terror of death. They will fight the PCs if pressed by the fanatics. However, if given an opportunity, they will provide subtle aid to the players in exchange for assurances from the players that they will try to save them. Fear prevents them from fighting at the players’ side except in self-defense. But they can be persuaded to hide players in their huts (DC 12 Persuasion), allowing players to rest and gain the benefits of an Inn (Long Rest) after staying there for one hour. This may trigger a coordinated battle if goblins and hobgoblins from group three are found to be hiding the players by group one’s fanatics. In this case, the goblins, hobgoblins and shamans in areas 2 and 6 gather to assault and kill the goblins in area 5 — triggering an exciting battle for the control of Goblin Town.

1. The Entrance to Goblin Town

Smoke, flickering firelight, loud bellows and wicked laughter issue from the wide cave entrance in front of you. The polluted river flows through it. On its oily waters floats various wastes and refuse. Beyond, the cave opens up into a much larger chamber.

Four hobgoblins and eight goblins also occupy this area ready to reinforce the gate should the alarm bell ring. If the players are disguised, this group lets them pass. However, adventurers who snuck in will then be confronted by these guards unless they can also sneak past them — most likely be continuing to hide in the foul water (Stealth 10), swimming up stream (Athletics 13), and climbing up out of the river in the dim light before they reach the bridge (Stealth 15).

Treasure: If defeated, these monsters drop 22 gold, 25 silver, and 45 copper. 44 arrows, one longsword, and one longbow are retrievable (half value).

2. Goblin Fanatics Camp

This cluster of five tents to the northwest of Goblin Town is painted with a symbol of open black jaws. Figures wearing similar signs dance around an open fire. At their lead is a fat goblin waving a banner painted with a black mountain whose cave entrance opens like a red mouth.

These tents are occupied by twelve Goblins, four Hobgoblins, and one Goblin Boss. The Goblin Boss, Snarloc Crutke, is a fantastical devotee of Doomshallow’s hound Shadow Maw. He has seen the (to him) wonderfully dark land of Svartalfheim and glimpsed Doomshallow’s mountain kingdom of Soria. His banner is painted as a symbol of Soria. Those trained in History can recognize the symbol as related to the world of Svartalfheim on a successful check (DC 20). The black painted maws are obvious symbols of the Barghest Shadow Maw.

If approached, the fanatics immediately recognize the players as intruders and attack. They shout to raise an alarm. This brings the other fanatics from area 6 with the two wolf riders arriving by round 2 and the rest from area 6 arriving by round 3. By round 5, the regular goblins from area 4 arrive. The bridge ogre in area 3 is too self-interested to be bothered unless directly ordered by one of the goblin fanatics to engage. If things are going badly after the first round of combat, Snarloc Crutke orders two goblins to run off and roust the ogre. If these goblins reach the ogre, they return with it on round 4. In combat, Snarloc wields a major Deep Shard Scimitar (See Ominous Signs Before the Breach)– granting him an additional +1 to hit, +1 to damage and +1 necrotic damage on a critical hit. He commands his goblins to incapacitate the PCs if possible — he intends to bring them to Shadow Maw for execution and collection of their death remains as Deep Shard Crystals.

The fearful goblins in area 5 stay put if the fanatics are attacked, hoping that this new event can somehow aid in their escape. The gate guards in areas 10 and 1 stay at their posts. Though if things go badly for Snarloc, one of the gate guards in area 10 to the south will alert a wolf rider in area 11 to send a message to Shadow Maw that her goblins are under attack. This rider, however, never makes it to Shadow Maw and is instead trapped and eaten by the Undead Giant Spiders in areas 15 and 16.

Treasure: If the fanatical goblins and hobgoblins are defeated, players searching the bodies and the tents find Snarloc’s major Deep Shard Scimitar, 57 gold, 10 electrum, 107 silver, 43 copper, and a black opal worth 50 gold along with 72 arrows, two longswords, three scimitars, and one suit of serviceable chain mail (all normal items re-sellable for half value).

3. Ogre’s Bridge

Polluted water flows under a finely constructed bridge lit by two oily torches. A fat ogre holding a gigantic spiked club leers at you as you approach. He thrusts a hand the size of a dinner plate out toward you, the wicked light of greed glinting in his eyes. In garbled common, he says “Want cross? Pay Smash. No pay? Then swim in nasty water.” He gives a wicked chuckle, seeming to relish the thought of you struggling through filthy water.

Smash Face is a greedy Ogre who’s planted himself beside this bridge to demand tribute for anyone crossing. Smash Face isn’t discerning. He’ll accept food, coppers, even pieces of gear or clothing (he uses any clothes gifted as a napkin to wipe his filthy face). If the party gives him gold, he’ll offer to carry the person giving him the gold across the bridge on his shoulders.

Smash Face doesn’t much care for the fate of the goblins. He’s got his bridge and that’s what makes him happy. Though he’s obliged to fight at the command of the goblin boss Snarloc, he does so reluctantly. If he loses more than 50 percent of his hit points in any fight, he’ll return to his bridge, roll himself into a ball, and hide under it while crying big ogre tears over the cruelness of the world. If attacked at his bridge, Smash Face will fight to the death to defend his precious home and source of income.

Treasure: Snarloc hides his loot in a sack underneath his bridge. His sack contains — one half eaten goat, one cooked chicken, one pot of potato stew, 531 copper pieces, 223 silver pieces, 15 gold, a golden ring worth 25 gold, and a platinum brooch worth 100 gold. The potato stew will provide three rations — each granting a short rest. The goat and the chicken are too old and rotten to provide proper sustenance for the players. If they attempt to eat either, describe their rotted state. If they persist, any player consuming either must succeed in a DC 12 Constitution save or be poisoned for one hour.

4. Regular Goblin and Hobgoblin Camp

Goblins and hobgoblins gather around the fire, eat food, and sharpen weapons. They peer out into the darkness, clutch at their swords or bows, and otherwise seem ready for a fight.

Twelve goblins and four hobgoblins occupy this cluster of tents. If approached, they send a hobgoblin and two goblins to intercept the party. If party members are in disguise as hobgoblins, they ask the party “what you want?” If they recognize the party members as adventurers, they attack.

Noise from any combat will draw the attention of the two guards in area 10 on round 2. By round 3, the alerted fanatics from area 2 arrive to join the fray. Once engaged in combat, all monsters involved will fight to the death.

Treasure: 20 gold, 15 silver, 32 copper, two suits of chainmail, two shields, one longsword, one longbow, four scimitars (all re-sellable at half value).

5. Mila Gloomflower and the Fearful Goblins

A cluster of seven tents occupies the southern section of Goblin Town. Their residents appear to hide, cowering in the shadows, or peaking through tent openings as you approach. A lone goblin, her spikey blue hair glinting in the firelight cautiously draws near to you as she clutches a ragged doll to her chest with one hand, apparently for comfort. A short sword of Deep Shard glints darkly in the other. She appears to be the only goblin brave enough to confront you. Though she holds a weapon, she does not appear to threaten.

Mila Gloomflower is a goblin AI who was swallowed by Shadow Maw when she was sent into the Hollow of Horrors to serve as hunt fodder by Snarloc. Mila used her Major Deep Shard Short Sword (stolen from a goblin fanatic before she was cast into the Hollow) to stab the inside of Shadow Maw’s throat as she tumbled down into the darkness of Shadow Maw’s gullet. Shadow Maw spat her out into a crevice of void beneath a tangle of Yggdrasil’s roots. Mila was swirled off by a cold current into Ginnungagap only to be sloshed about in an eddy of darkness and then emerge among another tangle of Yggdrasil roots nearby. At last free, she was able to make her way back to her goblin family in area 5.

After surviving this ordeal, Mila discovered the emergence of strange powers. She is now a level 1 Shadow Magic Sorcerer / level 1 Arcane Cleric (See Appendix below). Though young, she’s now a driving force among the fearful goblins. Her words have already inspired some to take the risk to escape. She’s sticking around to see if the other goblins in her little community are willing to also give it a try. But if they delay too long, she’ll soon strike out on her own.

Mila speaks both Common and Goblin. She’s curious about the adventurers and is willing to talk. She first asks if the adventurers are here to defeat Shadow Maw. She appears hopeful. If they tell Mila about their quest she reveals the following.

  1. The goblins in area 5 are fearful and want to escape Shadow Maw.
  2. Rayvol the goblin alchemist in area has healing potions that he may be willing to sell or give the adventurers if they tell him they’re here to deal with Shadow Maw.
  3. The goblin tents here can be used for hiding and rest. The player will just have to convince the community elder Wimbler Crobix to take them in.
  4. Mila is willing to cast Healing Word on one player who is wounded.
  5. If the players ask Mila to accompany them, she agrees if they succeed on a DC 14 Persuasion check. She is otherwise willing to help them if they return to area 5.
  6. If asked about Shadow Maw, Mila says: “She hungers to consume all who live here. Even I was swallowed by her. But I was lucky and escaped. She says she eats us to send us to serve her Lord. A dwarf called Doomshallow. Though she eats her followers, she lusts for adventurers even more. She came from a darkness in some roots behind her throne in the Hollow. The fanatics say she came from a place called Soria in Svartalfheim. Two from Soria — a dark elf and a dwarf are always near her.”

Twelve goblins and three hobgoblins reside in the seven tents scattered throughout area 5. Their numbers were reduced after one hobgoblin and seven goblins took an opportunity to flee about a day ago. Wimbler Crobix, an old hobgoblin is their present leader. He at first seems suspicious of the adventurers. But if they succeed in a DC 15 Persuasion Check after telling him about their mission to defeat Shadow Maw, Wimbler will offer the players rest in one of the goblin tents.

Other than Mila, the fearful goblins cannot be convinced to fight Shadow Maw, the fanatics, or the other goblins. However, the fight may come to them. The first time the players use a tent to spend an hour to receive a long rest, nothing happens. However, the second time the players rest in area 5, fanatics from area 2 spying on the fearful goblin camp discover them and organize an assault. They gather all the goblins in area 2, 6, and 4 along with two guards from area 10 and the two wolf riders from area 11 to attack. The players find their rest interrupted as battle commences. However, their new goblin allies immediately cast off restraint and join the fight. If the fanatics have already been defeated, then the players may rest undisturbed. But if the players rest a third time, Shadow Maw spits out a force of 10 skeletons, 8 zombies, and 6 shadows from Svartalfheim, led by a hobgoblin to march to Goblin Town. If they discover the fanatics have been defeated, they surmise the cause and attack the goblins and the PCs in area 5.

Treasure: 25 gold, 22 silver, 11 copper, Mila’s Deep Shard Shortsword, and one garnet pendant worth 50 gold.

6. Shrine to Shadow Maw

Each entrance to this cave is guarded by a goblin riding a wolf. Flickering fire light spills out from a cave bordered by dark, crystalline pillars. Beyond, you can see three goblins and a hobgoblin chanting and prostrating themselves before an idol atop an alter. The idol is made of carved granite and worked with silver. It depicts a fiendish hound that holds an orb of obsidian in its mouth. The entire wicked assemblage is presided over by a goblin wearing a robe with the sign of black open jaws blazoned on its front. This goblin carries a staff which it waves about as it preaches its unholy screed.

This room is guarded by two goblins — each riding a darkling wolf (A darkling wolf is a wolf bred by goblins for cave fighting. Darkling wolf stats are the same as those of a regular wolf from the Monster Manual, page 341, except that these wolves possess darkvision of 60 feet.). Inside is the goblin shaman (see appendix below) Nard Ulpa. He babbles wild prayers to Shadow Maw, singing her praises and spewing garbled nonsense words as he is overtaken by fanatical fervor. Three goblins and one hobgoblin join in with this mad idolatry prostrating themselves before the carved image of Shadow Maw.

In this room, goblin fantatics indoctrinate and brain-wash their followers. If approached by the players, the goblins immediately recognize them as invaders and attack. If the PCs haven’t yet confronted the fanatics in area 2, Nard sends one wolf and rider off to alert Snarloc. If this alert is raised, Snarloc arrives on round 3 followed by the goblin regulars from area 4 by round 5. If things get desperate, Snarloc then sends two goblins for the ogre at the bridge who arrives by round 6.

Treasure: The idol of Shadow Maw is worth 250 gold. Nard carries a fat purse filled with 40 gold pieces, 3 platinum pieces, and 72 silver pieces. The goblins have 14 gold, 12 silver, and 22 copper between them. They also have one sellable scimitar and one sellable suit of chainmail (half value).

7. Pristine Middens

A natural stone stair leads down to this softly luminous chamber. Large blue crystals provide cool lighting. The area is surprisingly clean and free of debris. The only refuse is a goblin skeleton that appears to hang from the wall to your right as you descend.

The hanging goblin remains to the right is actually suspended in a gelatinous cube (Monster Manual, 242). A DC 15 Perception check from the PCs reveals the cube for what it is. If the players descend the stairs without recognizing the cube, it lunges toward them as it attacks. It is otherwise content to stay in this room and allow goblins to dump their trash which it eats, along with the occasional goblin.

This room is one of the goblin’s garbage dumps. It is empty, however, because the cube eats everything the goblins cast here. The other garbage dump is the river — which is nonsensical as the goblins have an easy means of getting rid of trash in the form of the cube. Instead, they use carrying trash to the cube room as a punishment that may result in the trash carriers being eaten. The goblins and hobgoblins are also too lazy to devise a safe way for their fellows to drop trash into the cube’s lair. Often, goblins sent on trash duty just sneakily dump trash into the river instead. So the goblins are forced to subsist on nasty, polluted water.

8. Waterfall and Ooze

The lights fade as you approach a waterfall at the far end of Goblin Town. Deposits of metal paint the walls in veins of red and copper. Water from the fall swirls into a polluted pool — dark and foreboding.

This dark end is where the goblins mine their metal for weapon forging. Veins of iron and copper are plainly visible in the walls. However, a gray ooze lurks in the pool. This monster occasionally devours a goblin even as it nibbles on the tailings from the goblins’ mining. The predator ooze spits out any gold, however, which it cannot devour. This gold has accumulated in the bottom of its pool. Any adventurer carrying a torch will see it glistening beneath the polluted waters.

The pool is 10 feet deep. So adventurers trying to retrieve gold from the pool’s bottom will have to dive in. Swimming will alert the ooze who lurks under an out-cropping in the waterfall above the pool. It need only fall down on adventurers removing coins from. It is very well hidden and can only be discerned with a successful DC 20 Perception check.

Treasure: The pool contains 134 gold pieces. It takes about twenty minutes of diving to retrieve these scattered coins from the pool’s bottom.

9. Rayvol the Goblin Alchemist

An elderly goblin wearing goggles, a heavy leather apron, and work gloves fiddles with various potions and materials in a ragged lean-to against the cavern wall. A weak fire smolders in front of his humble home which is lit from the inside by various jars of glowing liquid.

This goblin is the alchemist Rayvol. He developed his skill at alchemy weeks before and has been practicing here ever since. When Shadow Maw and her goblin fanatics moved in, he couldn’t be bothered. However, her threats have now interfered with Rayvol’s work. Unlike the fearful goblins, Rayvol doesn’t want to leave. He just wants to be left alone to conduct his research. Because he sees Shadow Maw as a threat to his efforts, he is willing to help PCs who are polite to him.

  1. Rayvol will give the PCs up to three healing potions so long as they pledge to ‘deal with Shadow Maw and those damned fanatics.’
  2. Rayvol has four more healing potions which he will sell to the PCs for cost (half price).
  3. Rayvol has the following items for sale — 3 +1 arrows (30 gold), a Potion of Enlarge (150 gold), and a Potion of Darkvision (50 gold).

Rayvol also possesses a Teleportation Crystal which he crafted after examining a player’s crystal in exchange for alchemical aid. If Rayvol is attacked, he uses his reaction to activate his crystal and teleport to a local safe zone in Nidavellir where he works a small shop front as an NPC. He cultivated this persona through an system exploit and has been living a double life ever since. Though he is loathe to abandon the cave and its numerous alchemical resources, he will not risk his life by remaining here. If Rayvol is forced to teleport away by aggressive PCs, he uses his exploits to bring his valuables along with him. The PCs who drove him off are then left with various bits of junk.

10. Hollow of Horrors Guard Posts

Two hobgoblins guard an opening that plunges down into darkness. Even the monsters appear uneasy in their positions, often glancing behind them as if expecting something terrible to creep up from the depths.

There are two entrances to the Hollow of Horrors. Both are guarded by two hobgoblin regulars. They are instructed to keep those living in the cavern out of the Hollow. However, at times, various residents of Goblin Town are seized and forced into the Hollow as fodder for Shadow Maw or for various other predatory denizens. If approached by players, the guards ready to fight when they recognize them as adventurers. They do not start combat against the players, though they will defend themselves. If the players communicate that they wish to enter the Hollow, the guards laugh, ask for one gold piece for each player, and allow them to pass. The guards believe they are sending the PCs to their death — allowing the monsters of the Hollow to do their dirty work for them. They will, however, not allow the players to return to Goblin Town without a fight.

Treasure: Each set of guards has 10 gold and drops one suit of useable chainmail (resellable for half value) if defeated by the players.

The Hollow of Horrors

This deadly warren of caverns serves as Shadow Maw’s main hunting ground. Deep caves collect pools of unlight. Yggdrasil’s roots pierce sections of floor and wall, spilling out the pitch darkness of Ginnungagap and causing light sources to dim. It is these roots that provided Shadow Maw’s first pathways to Midgard from Svartalfheim. The shadows of Ginnungagap, like the mouth of Shadow Maw, have a life-sapping influence on the creatures inhabiting the Hollow. Over time, those venturing there take on undead qualities. Mad goblins, crazed hobgoblins, their darkling wolves, various undead, and hunted prey all inhabit these dark and twisted caverns.


There are no sources of light in the Hollow. In addition, pools of darkness around Yggdrasil’s roots reduce any light source provided by the players by one level. For example, a light spell would only produce dim light in a 20 foot radius while within an area of shadow near Yggdrasil’s roots.


Unless otherwise noted, ceilings are 10 feet high in passages, 15 feet high in open areas.

No Teleportation Crystals

Teleportation Crystals are deactivated within the Hollow of Horrors. Players wishing to teleport out must first at least return to Goblin Town which may require fighting the hobgoblins in area 10 in order to escape.

Reaching Level 3

It is possible that the players gain enough experience points to reach level 3 while in the Hollow. Unless they can return to Goblin Town and rest in area 5 or use their Teleportation Crystals to return to a Safe Zone and rest in an Inn, the players will be unable to gain their next level. Players who gain their level by resting in Goblin Town still need to visit a Home Town to receive training before the next long rest. Otherwise, they lose the benefits of their level up as their skill become perishable. If players rest at an Inn, they return to find that Shadow Maw has reinforced Goblin Town with 10 skeletons, 8 zombies, 6 shadows and 1 hobgoblin.

11. Cavorting Wolf Riders

Loud yips, howls and cries issue from this dark cavern as two vicious goblins riding their dark cave wolf mounts circle this chamber in search of prey.

Two goblins riding two darkling wolves roam about this area hunting for prey. They’ve inhabited the Hollow long enough to be afflicted by its madness. So they are neither quiet nor cunning. Instead they howl in wicked and vicious delight as animalistic urges consume them. They are also ravenous, attacking any creatures that enter this area without hesitation.

These creatures have not yet succumbed to the undeath brough about by Ginnungagap spilling out from the roots in this chamber’s western portion. However, they can now communicate with the undead in areas 12 and 13. Upon seeing any intruders and initiating combat, they give loud, barking cries which bring the goblin skeletons from area 12 on round 2 and the zombie ogre from area 13 on round 3.

Treasure: Each goblin wields a serviceable shortbow and scimitar which can be resold for half price.

12. Goblin Skeletons

This chamber is scattered with bones and coins. The bones appear gnawed on, splintered, but not consumed.

Four goblin skeletons inhabit this dark chamber. Though they no longer need to eat, they still hunger and often crouch here gnawing the bones cast aside by the goblins and wolves in area 11. These skeletons are aggressive and will attack any creature they encounter other than the goblins in area 11, hobgoblin patrols, or other undead. They may also be summoned by the goblins in area 11.

Treasure: 13 gold, 22 silver and 5 coppers are scattered throughout this room.

13. Ogre Zombie

This foul chamber is smeared with gore and grime. The stench wafting out from it is unbearable. Various roots pierce its walls, dredging up the darkness of Ginnungagap.

Smash Face’s brother Mij Norjda, known as an incoherent babbler of obscenities, was sent to the Hollow to serve as monster fodder. His continuous mad ravings have infected the minds of the two goblins occupying area 11.

Mij Norjda is an ogre zombie. He has formed a rudimentary pact with the goblins in area 11 and will respond to their summons.

Treasure: Mij Norjda’s single treasure is a piece of sapphire jewelry cut in the shape of a blue cornflower set in gold. He keeps it in a red and black box in a cleaner corner of his filth-infested room. This piece of jewelry is worth 150 gold.

14. Roper Bait

The passageway widens into a chamber ahead. Shadows of Ginnungagap spill from its northwest wall through a break produced by a tangle of Yggdrasil roots.

Two goblin skeletons occupy this larger chamber. They position themselves to ambush any travelers in the Hollow. One hides behind the pillar, the other in the hallway to the southeast. Once they see anyone other than undead, goblins, or hobgoblins traveling in this passage, they pop out from around the corner to each shoot an arrow. They then flee toward area 17 — hoping to bait victims into the waiting tentacles of the Roper there.

15. & 16. Ghoul and Ghast Giant Spiders

The area up ahead exudes an air of heavy menace. Foulness and stench waft toward you even as the darker shadows there seem to twitch.

Area 16 is occupied by three Ghoul Giant Spiders, Area 15 is occupied by a Ghast Giant Spider. These predators predated both Shadow Maw and the invasion of Yggdrasil’s roots. They were a cluster of monsters never cleared away by earlier forays of adventurers — effectively slaying many such travelers through use of their lethal ambush tactics.

Each ghoul giant spider uses the Giant Spider stat block with the following exceptions. Each spider’s bite does 2d6+3 piercing damage and a bitten creature must make a DC 11 Constitution save or be paralyzed for one minute. The target can repeat this saving throw at the end of each of its turns.

Undead Spiders battle map

The ghast giant spider also uses the Giant Spider stat block. However, its hit points are increased to 36. It gains resistance to necrotic damage. It exudes a stench such that creatures within 5 feet of it must make a DC 10 Constitution save or be poisoned until the start of their next turn. On a successful save creatures are immune to this stench for 24 hours. The ghast giant spider’s bite does 2d8+3 damage. Creatures bitten by the ghast giant spider must also make a DC 10 Constitution save or be paralyzed for one minute, repeating the save at the end of each of its turns.

The ghoul giant spiders are CR 1 Undead. The ghast giant spider is a CR 2 undead with turn resistance.

Across each entrance, and before the visible webbing, the spiders have laid alert lines. These lines are low and well hidden — requiring a DC 17 Perception check to notice. If the PCs do not notice them, all spiders are simultaneously alerted to the player’s presence. Once alert, the spiders pop out to fling webs at their foes, then withdraw back into shadow. This tactics are meant to break up the movement and momentum of anyone entering the spiders’ lair. If the characters move in, the spiders then surround players while trying to bite them — trying to set up situations where two spiders can focus on one adventurer until down or paralyzed. Then, the spiders circle back to dispatch any foes still stuck in their webs.

If players avoid the trip lines, they still much succeed in a party Stealth Check (DC 15) to approach without alerting the spiders. However, if the players enter the visible webs on the map, the spiders are alerted. Visible webs are difficult terrain. They may be burned away at the rate of 5 feet per round as an action by players holding a source of fire. In any case, the spiders have blindsight 10 and will see anything within range of their darkvision 60. The spiders stick to their own Yggdrasil root (one for each root in area 16 and for the one root in area 15).

If the players defeat the spiders, read the following.

This foul chamber’s walls are covered in spider webs enmeshing the long-dead remains of victims. The entire place is filled with the shadow and chill of Ginnungagap, it reeks of death.

Searching the chamber reveals various treasures that must be cut from the layers of webbing and decayed flesh from the spiders’ past victims.

Treasure: 1 Suit of Splint Mail sized for a human (or like), a bag containing 200 gold pieces, a Helm rimmed in platinum and set with zircon (200 gold), and a Wand of Magic Missiles.

17. Roper

This chamber is filled with rock formations that give the impression of a giant maw filled with teeth.

A Roper (Monster Manual, 261) inhabits this chamber. It has formed a macabre pact with the goblin skeletons in area 14. In exchange for luring prey into its reach, it allows the goblin skeletons to gnaw the bones of its victims. As with other skeletal goblins, these undead gain no sustenance from the bones. Although they find seem to find the gnawing action somehow satisfying.

The terrain in this chamber is broken by numerous rock formation and is considered difficult. The Roper occupies the southwestern wall near a cluster of Yggdrasil roots and Ginnungagap shadows. By keeping to these shadows, it is difficult to see for those without darkvision. It keeps alert to the sounds of the goblin skeletons’ arrows — which are notched so that they make a shrieking sound when they fly. If the Roper hears this sound, add it to the initiative count with a readied action to use a tendril on the first creature that passes in front of its lair entrance. It has advantage on this first attack unless the player has some unexpected means of sensing the Roper.

Once the goblin skeletons have lured prey to the Roper, they turn to harass the party with arrow fire.

Treasure: Near the roper in a pile of regurgitated remains are 3 gems. One is a garnet with 75 gold. One an emerald worth 100 gold. One a ruby worth 250 gold.

18. Captain Chumrod & Zombie Hobgoblins

This barracks once contained an organized force of hobgoblins under the command of Captain Chumrod. It is now a shambles filled with milling undead barely contained by the will of their Captain whom they still hold a vestige of loyalty to.

The hobgoblins have now all been transformed into zombies and skeletons by the dark nature of the Hollow. That said, these undead hobgoblins both still listen to their commander even as they tend to move with an otherworldly celerity. Captain Chumrod is a Hobgoblin Captain. He rides a Worg. He command four zombies and four skeletons. Both of these undead use typical stat blocks with the exception that their speed has been increased by 5 feet, their armor class is increased by 1, and the skeletons use longbows (1d8+2 damage). Captain Chumrod can also use his commanding presence feature to increase the likelihood that zombies will succeed on their fortitude saves to remain standing.

Treasure: Captain Chumrod wears chaimail, a longsword, and a longbow. All are in good repair and can be sold at half price in the marketplace. In addition, his purse contains 50 gold.

19. Giant Ghoulish Rats

Within the shadowy confines of this side-chamber dwell eight undead Giant Rats. They live in the tangle of Yggdrasil roots and shadows at the northern end of this chamber. These rats use the same stat block as regular giant rats with the exception that their bites cause paralysis to those who fail a DC 8 Constitution save. This paralysis lasts for one minute unless the creature succeeds on this save at the end of each of their turns. It otherwise acts as ghoul paralysis.

The giant ghoulish rats are both hungry and aggressive. They will attack anyone entering the chamber or any non-undead, non-goblin passing outside the chamber.

20. Cowering Victim

To the left, the shadows deepen even as the passage widens into a larger room. You can hear a soft whimpering coming from a dark area overtaken by Yggdrasil’s roots.

A level 2 High Elf Circle of the Moon Druid OPC named WhiteCat69 (see Appendix) huddles in this empty room alone and afraid. She was captured by hobgoblins and thrown into the Hollow as fodder for one of Shadow Maw’s hunts. Not allowed food and deprived of a means to rest, she is out of leveled spells, has only half her hit points remaining and only has one use of wild shape left. She still has her equipment, though, and is relieved to the point of near-hysteria if the PCs offer to let her join their party. If asked about her name, she says — “Oh that. Yeah, my brother dared me to use the number 69 in my name. For some reason, he finds this hilarious.” An Insight 12 Check by the players reveals that WhiteCat69 doesn’t get the joke.

21. & 22. Captain Shraevok and the Shadows

A deathly quiet hangs about these open caverns.

Four shadows cluster near the Yggdrasil roots in area 21. They immediately move to attack any living thing that enters this chamber, making loud shrieks to alert Captain Shraevok in area 22. Shraevok is a hobgoblin turned wight who has made a bed of sorts out of a cluster of Yggdrasil roots. He wields a Major Deep Shard Longsword (granting him +1 to hit and damage while dealing 1 additional necrotic damage on a critical strike) and is accompanied by two zombies who lurch about near the corners of his chamber — the result of him slaying two adventurers with his life drain ability during recent hunts.

Treasure: Major Deep Shard Longsword, a small chest containing 30 platinum, 100 gold, and a Tiger Eye worth 50 gold.

Doomshallow’s Hound — The Barghest Shadow Maw

Shadow Maw’s throne chamber is divided into three sections — the entry (area 23), the throne room (area 24), and the shadow gate (area 25). The ceiling of the entry and throne room are 20 feet high. Near the shadow gate, the ceiling dips down to 15 feet. Lighting in the entry is dark. Lighting in the throne room is dim, dark within 10 feet of the Yggdrasil root, and bright within 10 feet of a braziers.

Shadow Maw’s Throne

23. 24. & 25. Throne Entry

Before you is an area covered in shadow. Your eyes catch lurching movement, ears pick up the clink of readied weapons. Beyond the darkness is an open chamber. Its center is dominated by a sprout of Yggdrasil roots which spill a flood of shadow. Orange light erupts from braziers — illuminating a dwarf-crafted throne on a dais of obsidian. Behind the throne — a yawning portal. A gate in a massive swirl of Yggdrasil roots. In the room, goblin skeletons ready weapons. A drow and a duergar stand coiled on the dais. The shadows in front of you seem to swarm. On the throne sits a female goblin holding a flail of Deep Shard. From her mouth spills tendrils of shadow like smoke. When she opens her mouth, you gaze into nothing. “Welcome, prey,” she says to you, “How polite of you to present yourselves to me.”

Within area 23 are six zombie hobgoblins they use the same stat block as zombies except they move at a rate of 30. They are commanded by the hobgoblin captain Nit Thayn — who immediately activates his leadership trait to keep his cohort in the fight by assisting their zombie fortitude saves. Captain Nit rides a worg.

The throne room (area 24) is guarded by six hobgoblin and goblin skeletons. Two shadows lurk in the darkness surrounding the Yggdrasil root. Upon the dais is a drow named Thes Ornga and a squat old Duergar emissary from Doomshallow named Clasher Hocke wearing a necklace of glittering jewels.

Shadow Maw is presently in her goblin boss form. In this form, Shadow Maw possesses the following additional traits and items:

  1. Maximum hit points (36).
  2. 16 strength.
  3. A Major Deep Shard Flail (which has a reach of 10, does 1d8+6 damage, adds +1 to hit and damage, and adds 1 necrotic damage on a crit).
  4. She can use her redirect attack reaction on any ally in area 23, 24, or 25.

When her goblin form reaches zero hit points, Shadow Maw transforms into a Barghest. In this form she appears as a large fiendish hound with elongated black fangs and a mouth dripping darkness.

  1. The horrid bites from Shadow Maw in her Barghest form do an additional 1d6 points of necrotic damage.
  2. If Shadow Maw ends her turn in a pool of darkness near a Yggdrasil root, she regains 10 hit points.
  3. PCs slain by Shadow Maw’s bites instantly have their remnants transformed into Deep Shard regardless of whether they are standing in the areas affected by the Ginnungagap’s shadows.
  4. Shadow Maw can spend an action to devour a Deep Shard remnant to regain 15 hit points.
  5. Shadow Maw can spend an action to belch forth an undead ally from Svartalfheim. Roll a d3. On a roll of 1 the ally is a skeleton, 2 a zombie, and 3 a shadow. This ability recharges on a 5 or 6 on a D6.

Flanking the throne are two braziers. In addition to emitting light, a creature stepping or forced into a brazier’s space takes 1d6 fire damage.

Behind the throne is an open gateway to Svartalfheim. This is the root path Shadow Maw originally took to enter these chambers. The players cannot yet enter Svartalfheim unless they have possessed a Deep Shard item for 10 days or are standing within five feet of a such a player while touching them. Within this chamber is a shadow. If combat begins in the throne room, the shadow phases through the dais to stand beside Shadowmaw.

Treasure: Shadow Maw possesses a Major Deep Shard Flail. A locked chest behind her throne contains 1,000 gold, 300 silver, and 250 copper.

Within the chest is a message to Shadow Maw bearing the seal of King Doomshallow (A black mountain with a gaping red entrance opening like a mouth.)

“Your gifts of servants have made you the greatest of my hounds. We shall use them in our coming war against Midgard. Continue. Gather your forces and send me more of these servants. I find them both wonderous and dark.”

Shadow Maw’s crown is made of obsidian and is worth 150 gold.

Clasher Hocke’s necklace is made of gold which encrusts three bloodstones. This piece of jewelry is worth 250 gold.

Hidden in a secret compartment (DC 15 Perception) under the obsidian dais is Phoenix Tear (see Appendix).


This module includes one new magic item in the form of Phoenix Tear. In addition, the stats for a key O(PCs) — Mila Gloomflower and WhiteCat69 — are included below.

Magic Items

Phoenix Tear (Legendary, Weapon, Dormant)

This item appears to be a glove made of a crystalline mesh in the shapes of hundreds of tiny teardrops. While wearing the glove, you may use a bonus action to summon a blade of pure radiance into your hand. So long as the blade exists, it acts as a magical longsword with the finesse and versatile properties. If you are proficient with shortswords or longswords, you are proficient with Phoenix Tear. You may use a bonus action to dismiss any blade summoned in this way. If the blade leaves your hand, it disappears after one round.

In its present, dormant state, Phoenix Tear can be used to summon a +1 weapon that does radiant damage. It may be awakened and its powers thus increased by certain events throughout this adventure series.

Phoenix Tear is the sister glove to Star Rain — which may be found elsewhere in the world of Battlestorm Online.

OPC and Monster Stats

Stats for Mila Gloomflower, Goblin Shamans, and WhiteCat69 are found below.

Mila Gloomflower — 5e stats

Small Goblin, neutral

Armor Class 12 (15) (mage armor)
Hit Points 15
Speed 30 ft.

8 (-1)14 (+2)14 (+2)11 (0)16 (+3)13 (+1)

Saving Throws Con +4, Cha +3
Skills Insight +5, Arcana +2, Perception +5, Religion +2, Stealth +4
Senses passive Perception 15, darkvision 120
Languages Common, Goblin

Magic Weapon. Mila Gloomflower has a Major Deep Shard Short Sword (attack stats adjusted).

Arcane Initiate. Mila Gloomflower has training in the Arcana Skill. In addition, she gains two cantrips from the wizard spell list. These are cleric spells for her.

Eyes of the Dark. Mila Gloomflower has darkvision of 120 feet.

Strength of the Grave. Mila Gloomflower exists in a twilight state between life and death that makes her difficult to defeat. When damage reduces her to 0 hit points, she can make a Charisma saving throw (DC 5 + the damage taken). On a success, she instead drops to 1 hit point. She can’t use this feature if she is reduced to 0 hit points by radiant damage or by a critical hit.

After the saving throw succeeds, she can’t use this feature again until she finishes a long rest.

Spellcasting. Mila Gloomflower is a 2nd-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom and Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks, and spell save DC 11, +3 to hit with spell attacks). She has the following spells prepared:


  • Firebolt. Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: 6 (1d10) fire damage.
  • Greenflame Blade. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 5 feet, one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+3) fire damage. Second target within 5 takes 3 fire damage. Critical: +1 necrotic damage.
  • Magic Missile. Ranged Spell Attack: Auto hit. Range 120 feet. 3d4+3 force damage.
  • Inflict Wounds. Melee Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 5 feet, one target. Hit: 3d10 (18) necrotic damage.
  • Guiding Bolt. Ranged Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: 4d6 (16) radiant damage and target grants advantage to next attack roll against it.


MiIa Gloomflower is a Goblin with cold gray skin and blue hair. She clutches an old raggedy doll in one hand and wields a deep shard short sword in the other.


Goblin Shaman

Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral evil

  • Armor Class 15 (Leather Armor, Shield)
  • Hit Points 17 (5d6)
  • Speed 30 ft.
  • STR 10 (+0), DEX 14 (+2), CON 10 (+0), INT 10 (+0), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 10 (+0)
  • Skills Perception +4, Stealth +6, Medicine +4
  • Senses Darkvision 60 Ft., passive Perception 14
  • Languages Common, Goblin
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)
  • Nimble Escape. The goblin can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.
  • Staff. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6) bludgeoning damage.
  • Spellcasting. The goblin is a 3rd-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks). It has the following Druid spells prepared:
  • Cantrips (at will): Druidcraft, Poison Spray, Thorn Whip
  • 1st Level (4 slots): Entangle, Cure Wounds, Thunderwave
  • 2nd Level (2 slots): Heat Metal, Spike Growth


WhiteCat69 — 5e stats

Medium Elf, neutral good

Armor Class 13 (leather armor
Hit Points 17 (presently 9)
Speed 30 ft.

8 (-1)14 (+2)14 (+2)12 (+1)16 (+3)12 (+1)

Saving Throws Wis +5, Cha +3
Skills Insight +5, Nature +2, Perception +5, Animal Handling +5
Senses passive Perception 15, darkvision 60
Languages Common, Elfish

Circle Forms. WhiteCat69 has the ability to transform into more dangerous animal forms. She can use her Wild Shape to transform into a beast with a challenge rating as high as 1. She uses this ability to shape change into a white lion during combat.

Combat Wild Shape. WhiteCat69 can use Wild Shape on her turn as a bonus action, rather than as an action. Additionally, while she is transformed by Wild Shape, she may use a bonus action to expend one spell slot to regain 1d8 hit points per level of the spell slot expended (when found in area 20, WhiteCat69 no longer has any spell slots remaining).

Spellcasting. WhiteCat69is a 2nd-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). She has the following spells prepared:


  • Create Bonfire. Spell: One five foot cube of fire on the ground within 60 feet. DC 13 Dexterity save or take 5 (1d8) fire damage. Repeat save if creature enters fire or ends turn there.
  • Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 5 feet, one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+2) slashing damage.


WhiteCat69 is a female elf with white hair and cat-like tabby paint marking on her face and neck. She is battered from her capture and numerous scrapes with monsters in the Hollow.

Icewind Dale — Livestream Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Play, Character Profiles, Original Art, and Video Archive

Below is an archive of live-streaming games from the Icewind Dale campaign GM’d by Ted Burgess and originally streamed on Twitch. It’s also an introduction to the Heroes of Icewind Dale — Alinar, Gaelya, Immeral, Roderick, Reugar, and Veris.

This game is a 5e fan-conversion of the 2e Dungeons and Dragons classic — Icewind Dale. Now managed by Beamdog, Icewind Dale is available for ePRG play on Steam. If you’re a lover of classic-style D&D, we recommend you check out the video game Ted’s epic campaign draws inspiration from.

Icewind Dale campaign art by Lady Blue Wolf

Ted has a long-running love affair with Icewind Dale as an eRPG and as a Dungeons and Dragons adventure setting. His game takes a deep dive into the old-school Icewind Dale setting and series of adventures — expanding on its original gritty flavor and deadly style of adventuring. Icewind Dale live-streams on Twitch about every three weeks Saturday Nights starting at 9 PM EST. As the player of Gaelya, I’ll be streaming these games so that viewers can have an RPer’s perspective. Archived games will post on YouTube and are featured below.

Adventure Story

Our heroes came, by various means, to the frigid town of Easthaven where they were quickly conscripted by a local warlord named Hrothgar to undertake various quests. After dealing with troubles near Easthaven, the adventurers set out to confront a band of orc raiders hiding in a nearby cave. The party (only level 2 at the time) entered the cave to face a deadly fight as thirty five orcs, five wolves and an ogre swarmed to attack. After a vicious but heroic battle that left only two orcs alive, the party was defeated and killed (yep, a TPK!). This defeat would’ve been the end for our poor heroes had Hrothgar not sent a follow-on group from Easthaven to bring back our corpses and slay the remaining two orcs. Inspired by our heroism, Hrothgar decided to splurge and have the party returned to life.

Icewind Dale campaign art by Lady Blue Wolf.

After resurrection (generous or unfortunate is up for debate), the party was hired as caravan guards on the road to Kuldahar. An avalanche then wiped out the caravan leaving our party as its only survivors (yep, we’re cursed). After ridding the mountain pass and its settlements of goblin attackers in a glorious series of murder-hobo-type skirmishes, the adventurers journeyed to Kuldahar. There they learned of an evil occupying a nearby valley called The Vale of Shadows. They journeyed to the Vale to confront fearsome Yeti and hordes of terrible undead. Within the Vale is Kresslak’s Tomb. Our video archive picks up as the party explores this tomb and faces off against its swarms of evil undead.

Character Profiles

What follows are the character profiles for Alinar, Gaelya, Immeral, Roderick, Ruegar, and Veris. Presently these heroes (we use the term liberally) are all level five. The party is a bit further along than the video archive would indicate — as before starting our livestream, we completed about 8 campaign sessions. For your continuity, I’ve provided a brief synopsis of the campaign’s events above. It’s also worth noting that this group developed a strong sense of PC camaraderie as most of the present party members played through Ted’s Lords of Darkwell campaign prior to Icewind Dale over the course of about five years.

Alinar Caskshaper is an Elf Paladin of the Ancients. Played by J.D., Alinar is well known for running pretty much straight at the enemy with his dwarven maul ‘Punt’ swinging. One of the main front-liners for the party, Alinar has turned many a skeleton to tiny bone fragments with his mighty swings of Punt. Facing other foes, he switches out to the renowned Blade of Aihonen — a magical sword and a family heirloom.

Alinar’s Token

Backstory — Goldrid, Alinar’s foster father and a dwarf, always told Al that Larrel and Delsanra retired from adventuring when Alinar was born. He’d wax on about Alinar’s great lineage — suggesting Alinar was destined to become a famed adventurer like Delsanra, her mother Chalia of the Aerie, and her father Aihonen before her. Goldrid never mentioned just how his parents died, though. All Goldrid would say about them was — “Ah, lad, they were the best. One day, you may be half the hero yer da was and about a quarter the hero yer ma was. That’d make you three times the hero anyone in Icewind Dale has e’er seen!”

Aihonen, it turns out, married a sea elf named Elisia. Apparently, there has also been some business regarding dragons. Though the details are still somewhat unclear.

All this talk of adventuring seemed pretty dangerous to Alinar. Goldrid’s silence over his missing parents didn’t help. Alinar had other, more appealing and less lethal, ideas about life and livelihood. Pushing a boat around Maer Dualdon seemed like a better notion than risking one’s life as an adventurer. The closest Al got to adventuring before the present business was leading wealthy hunters out on expeditions to Kelvin’s Cairn. Of course, ever since becoming involved with that damned Hrothgar in Easthaven, Alinar’s been making good ol’ Goldrid proud.

Gaelya the Ghost is an Elf Bladesinger Wizard. Played by yours truly, Gaelya is a cheese-obsessive who provides much of the party’s explosive magical support. The recent acquisition of Fireball has kicked Gaelya’s blasts up a notch (yes, flaming cheese blob can substitute for bat guano as a material component). A Bladesinger who’s run a lot like the old-school fighter-mage, Gaelya’s also not afraid to mix it up in melee combat with the front liners. Though she’s small and physically fragile, her magical defenses are quite formidable (over-consumption of cheese can result in delusions of invulnerability). Her magically-enabled toughness is aided by her Belt of Beatification and Wand of Armory. In melee, she either wields her magical rapier or casts a spell to summon a Shadow Blade.

Gaelya’s Token

Backstory — “Blasted magistrate’s house to the ground with primeval thunder because he exiled me sister. Got exiled meself real quick. Was forced onto ship sent from Evermeet. Big swan-like thing. It was beauteous and pretentious-like. Came to Waterdeep. Fell in love with cheese. Quickly ate self into a bellyache full of debt. Worked as cheese guard and got paid next to nothing. Never could afford cheese again. Now I’m a beggar — errrr — adventurer! Why is it so cold here? Icewind… Ya think that has somethin to do with it?”

Immeral Galanodel is an Elven Long Death Monk. Played by Mike, Immeral is a mobile front liner with surprising resilience. Assaulting the enemy with devastating flurries of blows, Immeral draws life energy from defeated foes to further buffer him from harm. Equipped with Glimglam’s Cloak, a magical longsword, magical bow, growing stocks of fire arrows, Bracers of Defense and a Robe of Cold Resistance, Immeral posesses a diverse array of offensive and defensive enablement beyond what even his considerable skills and ki provide.

Immeral Galanodel’s Token

Backstory — pending…

Reugar is a Goliath Rune Knight Fighter. Played by Wade, Reugar redefines the concept of rushing toward the enemy. A main front liner like Alinar, Reugar manages to draw a lot of aggro in combat while laying waste to his foes. Reugar’s penchant for attracting enemy fire is due to his huge presence and tendency to get in the enemy’s face. His ability to channel the might of his giant ancestors by triggering runes that increase his size to that of the frigging hulk fills out his role as an enemy magnet even further. Reugar possesses the Black Wolf Talisman, The Ring of the Warrior, and a magical warhammer.

Reugar’s Token

Backstory — pending…

Roderick Visport is a Human Trickery Domain Cleric/Rogue. Played by Lauren, Roderick puts a pretty face on a party of misfits, scoundrels and ruffians. Not to say that Roderick isn’t without his own rough edges. It’s just that he’s too much of a pretty boy for one to suspect much drama, at first. Or perhaps it’s just Tymora smiling on one of her main devotees. In combat, Roderick exploits openings for his deadly sneak attacks, uses healing to help his allies, and lays waste to his foes with powerful divine magic. Roderick is armed with a Static Dagger, a magic sling, and wears The Ring of Shadows. Lauren, Roderick’s player, is armed with a magical paint brush.

Roderick’s Token

Backstory — pending…

Veris Bremein is a Custom Lineage Circle of the Shepherd Druid. Played by Dave, Veris packs a potent combination of summoning, shapechanging, attack, and healing magic. Veris can be counted on to lay down powerful heals while summoning a variety of creatures. In addition, his Circle of the Shepherd feature allows him call forth a Hawk, Bear, or Unicorn Spirit to aid himself and his allies. Veris often becomes the turning point on which a battle pivots — ensuring his allies stay standing, calling potent reinforments, or shifting into his ape form and throwing himself into the fray. Veris is equipped with a Wand of Magic Missiles capable of expelling a devastating barrage of magical projectiles, stunning Hammer Darts, a magic sling and a magic scimitar.

Veris’s Token

Backstory — pending…

Campaign Art by Lady Blue Wolf

Our Icewind Dale campaign is blessed with the most beauteous artwork of Roderick’s player — Lauren. As each campaign episode progresses, Lauren creates her own storyboard of key events — vividly portraying our various follies and victories in colorful and humorous form. Examples are sprinkled throughout this campaign archive. I’ll be posting more of these amazing, fun, and colorful bits of campaign art to each episode log’s cover page.

You can find more of Lauren’s fantastic artwork here.


Episode 8 — Narrowed down to only four members, the party continues to delve into the dangerous tomb.

Episode 9 — Alinar and Reugar reinforce the beleaguered party in an epic battle against hordes of undead.

Episode 10 — Alinar and Gaelya suffer second death as the party confronts hordes of skeletons, specters, phantoms and a skeletal mage.

Episode 11 — After death (again), the party returns to The Vale of Shadows to hunt down a priestess of Auril.

Episode 12 — The party ventures to The Temple of the Forgotten God in search of the fabled Heart Stone.

Last Notes

For now, we conclude our gaming archive and related character profiles for Icewind Dale. Return for updates and new video archives occurring about 1-2 times a month. Also, I’ll be updating our character profiles when the situation warrants.

Thank you for joining us!

BSO Ragnarök 1.20 — Ominous Signs Before the Breach Part 1

Dark shadows bring ominous signs…

This is The Deep Dark of Svartalfheim adventure module’s first chapter for the larger BSO Ragnarök campaign. You can find all chapters for The Deep Dark of Svartalfheim in the Gaming Studio under the Battlestorm Online Ragnarök header. These adventures are original, unofficial, and unaffiliated Open Gaming License content for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition and they are provided to you, written by your scribbler here free of charge, in this format, on this blog. Please feel free to use this material for your own Dungeons and Dragons games as you see fit.

In this first chapter, the PCs begin their journey as unlikely heroes in the BSO Ragnarök setting. To make this chapter less cumbersome as a blog post, it is broken into two parts. Part 1 deals with major campaign events. Part 2 covers quests the players may wish or need to undertake.

Part 1 is below.

A game master collaboration…

The larger Battlestrom Ragnarök campaign is run in the Battlestorm Online Campaign Setting. This setting is being designed as a collaborative effort between myself and Ted Burgess. Ted is running his own Battlestorm Online game, which is the original game in this setting. You may find Ted on Twitch and you can find the campaign archive for Ted’s Battlestorm Online game here.

Live Play of Ominous Signs Before the Breach, Part 1

This module was run by me on January 7th and streamed on Ted’s Twitch feed. I will be posting the video archive of the first game along with player profiles in the Gaming Studio soon. The next BSO Ragnarok game is scheduled to stream from Ted’s Twitch feed on January 21st, 2022 and games will run once every 2-4 weeks on a regular basis. Please feel free to join us at 9 PM EST on these Fridays. I’ll work with Ted to post more frequent gaming schedule announcements. These announcements will be posted from my Twitter Feed and set up on my Twitch page. Games, though, are sometimes canceled at the last minute. In any case, they can be viewed later here in the BSO gaming archive and on my YouTube page.

(If you are a player in the Battlestorm Online, Ragnarök campaign. WARNING: SPOILER ALERT. Do not read further.)


After the players create their characters read the following descriptive text to kick off the adventure:

“The widely-publicized global launch of Battlestorm Online was a heady affair that captured the attention of millions of gamers across the world. One of the world’s foremost gaming geniuses — Gemu Masuta –had birthed a virtual reality masterpiece. A Dungeons and Dragons game in which players could use special equipment called Ghost Gear to fully dive into a fantasy VR environment. Now the dreams of gamers everywhere had been realized. They could experience their favorite game not at tabletops or consoles but with their senses and body fully immersed.

“You were one of these gamers. Dynamic swordplay, magic, and the amazing mobility of fantasy characters was no longer just at your fingertips — it had full mind and body. It was another life outside of real life.

“Millions clamored for access to the beta-test version of this full-dive Dungeons and Dragons extravaganza — open to only ten thousand lucky players. Perhaps you waited in line or a relative with connections snagged you a copy. Whatever the case, you logged in to BSO, took the vertigo-inducing dive generated by the Ghost Gear, and landed on the world layer of Midgard. At first, you were captivated by this amazing setting and its host of wonders. You took time to familiarize yourself with your skills and powers. Perhaps you even fought a few monsters. You had a blast.

“But your joy of new discovery was short-lived. If you tried to log out, you received the following alert — WARNING LOGOUT WILL RESULT IN PLAYER DEATH, CLICK YES TO CONTINUE. If you saw this message, you were wise enough not to click ‘yes.’ Many were not. You may have also heard the ghostly cries of a player dying in game — their avatar consumed in a burst of blood-red pixels, their eyes flashing with a freakish strobe like a pair of twin flashlights rapidly turning on and off.

“These events only hinted at a much larger horror of which you would soon become aware. After only an hour logged in, a wind began to blow. It carried the sound of a wolf’s howl across the land of Midgard. Tattered clouds raced across the sky which took on a crimson hue. Your teleportation crystal flashed with blue light and you were instantly transported to an arena carved from the heart of the mountain fastness of Nidavellir. Your arrival at the stadium was accompanied by thousands of similar blue flares as your fellow players instantly materialized.


Odin Wotan by Herman Hendrick

“All the game’s remaining players turned eyes toward a titanic figure arising from the area floor in the form of a forty-foot tall shadow roughly taking the shape of man. He glared down at you with his single massive blue eye. The eye was offset, hinting that the other eye was closed or lost. Two large shadows in bird form sat on his shoulders. ‘Welcome to Battlestorm Online. I am Odin. But you may also know me as Gemu Masuta. I’ve summoned you here into the great arena of Nidavellir to deliver this warning. You are trapped here. Not in Nidavellir, but in the game. There are now only two ways out for you — death, or winning the game. You may have noticed that your logout screen now contains this alert.’ The figure waves its shadowy hand and you again see the logout warning message. ‘If you logout, the Ghost Gear will send a strobe light pattern to your eyes that will cause a brain aneurism. This is no accident. It is intended. Also, if you die in-game, your Ghost Gear will send the same signal. Similarly, if the gear is tampered with in the real world, it will kill your body and you will die both there and in-game.

“‘Already, 321 players have perished due to death by monsters, due to accidental tampering with the head gear, and due to suicide by voluntary logout.’

“The 9,679 remaining players stared in stunned astonishment. Cries of outrage and anguish echoed through your fellow players. Terror rooted you to your hard, virtual-stone bench. You came here to enjoy your favorite game up-close and in-person. Not to die at the hands of a terrorist madman in a death trap. Disbelief and denial washed through your fellow players. But somehow, what Gema Masuta as Odin said rang true. He did strike you as the type who was capable of carrying out such a murderous, if creative, coup.

“‘You have now been granted a gift beyond compare,’ Gema Masuta as Odin continued. ‘Another life. For without death, there is no life. And in this life you have the real opportunity to be the heroes of a magical world. Whether or not you choose to take that opportunity is up to you.’

“The shadowy figure continued to speak for a few more minutes. But its dark philosophical assertions only deepened your terror. Gema was clearly a fanatic — willing to carry his twisted vision through to the bitter end. When the cries of disbelief rose up, you’d already grown numb with shock. The tense words of outrage bleeding into the background of your racing thoughts. You had to focus. Your first goal — survive and return to your life. You had things to accomplish. Loved ones waited for you. Important business and work was delayed that must be returned to. Others could fight through the game while you decided to wait in safety.

“For weeks after your capture, after that fateful announcement by a virtual god of monsters, this was your plan. And, for weeks, it worked. Heroes rose, formed adventuring parties. They scoured the surrounding lands of monsters and began to delve into dungeons. Some died. Others rapidly gained power. The adventuring parties coalesced into organized guilds. And, for a time, it seemed to you that your plan had worked.

“Seemed, because events have taken an odd turn of late… You’ve heard rumors of shrinking safe zones. Frantic quests have been issued by the game’s most prominent guilds. Quests not related to typical game-clearing activity. And last of all an annoying guild representative — a Warlock named RubyNight — keeps following hold-outs like yourself into local bars and inns. She keeps asking for help. Keeps calling for a second line of adventurers to confront the new troubles. She’s persistent. But sometimes you detect a note of pleading in her voice.

“This new turn of events makes you worried. Perhaps your plan to stay safe while others take the risks for you won’t work out after all. Maybe this death trap you’re presently caught in is about to spit out a new set of surprises. If so, resting on your laurels will only make you more vulnerable, will just result in more slaughter. Now might be the time for you to step up. To take on the role of a hero. “


Discuss with your players what connections they might have with each other — IRL or in-game. For example, players might have worked together, gone to school together, or shared a favorite hobby IRL. In-game, all the players also had a reason to hang back from the initial wave of gameplay. This may have thrown them together in various non-adventuring activities as they passed the time waiting for the front liners to win the game. Also have the players agree on a hometown as the adventure starting point. When they do, proceed to the next section.


The following is a series of quests and in-game events designed for 4-6 level 1 characters. The events, listed first, happen to the players and the world of BSO on a timetable regardless of which quests they choose. The quests are voluntary and happen between the events. In this section, run game events 1 and 2 first. You may then decide to proceed to game event 3 or to then proceed on to the quests. Once players gain enough experience to reach level 2, a new series of quests and events will open up, leading to the next chapter — The Mystery of Yggdrasil’s Roots. However, you may wish to allow players to complete the quests listed here before proceeding. If you do so, player advancement to level 3 is locked until at least one quest from The Mystery of Yggdrasil’s Roots is completed.

Event 1 — A Strange Star Occluded By Darkness

The first night of this adventure begins with a strange celestial event.

“As the sun sets on Midgard and a darkness jeweled by millions of twinkling lights rises to cover the night, a strange star begins to blossom. Its light first appears as an orange glow that back-lights what appears to be black clouds of dust — casting gargantuan shadows covering what must be thousands upon thousands of stars. The glow intensifies until a star roughly the size of a full moon and bright enough to cast shadows bulges into a shape like a large blue eye. The eye looks down on Midgard, shining its light on all who walk there.”

Whether the strange star’s coming is a herald to further events or simply a stunning, if ominous, outgrowth of the vivid yet striking Battlestorm setting remains a mystery.

Event 2 — A PC Quest Giver is Born in Thunderale Tavern

Thunderale Tavern is a popular haunt for adventurers and non-adventurers alike. It exists as a storefront in all Home Towns in Midgard. However, it opens to one common internal space. The same tavern thus opens to all Home Towns simultaneously. Its proprietor — a lively NPC named Abigail Barnwallow — regales customers with tales of recent heroics on the front lines, rumors about local happenings, and gossip over famous persons in-game. The setting is warm, bright, and comforting. A roaring fire blazes in a large hearth above which two golden flankards of ale collide in front of a pair of crossed silver lightning bolts.

The players, still reluctant to join the ranks of adventurers, have gathered in Thunderale Tavern to collect gossip about the strange star now shining high above Midgard. They’ve all seen the new star and decided to drop by Thunderale Tavern to try to learn more.

(An Inkarnate Tavern Map that we are using for Thunder Ale Tavern gameplay provided by

While talking with other tavern patrons or with Abigail, each player learns one rumor about the strange star or hears of an odd happening that someone speculates may be related to the star. Choose one rumor or speculation that each player learns from the table below.

D8 Rumor/Speculation

  1. “The ground beneath Yggdrasil has made strange groans and rumblings lately. Perhaps the star is somehow related to the tree’s odd noises.” The player hears this rumor from #GinSing7 an elven bard/rogue.
  2. “People in Mio Elise have been disappearing near a lamp post in a back ally that emits darkness instead of light. Why is this happening at the same time a new star appears?” Question asked by a daughter gamer with an elf Divine Soul Sorcerer avatar named Thalia who lost her mother in Mio Elise and is looking for her still.
  3. “The star is just a bright light in the sky. It’s a fantasy game. Why are we surprised about it?” This from BiGdumBfighteR.
  4. “I suspect this star signals some major new game event. More adventure is afoot.” From Maven Silverstream a Dwarf Ranger.
  5. “When the star appears, we should take the opportunity to drink and sing praises to the gods of battle as our lord Odin would want.” From a Tempest Cleric of Odin named ChiefThunderPants09.
  6. “Fear! Fear! For doom is on us all. The star is a harbinger of Ragnarök, the The Twilight of the Gods! The end is near!” A non-adventurer doomer named BlackDaze who jumps up on a table next to one of the players shouts this.
  7. “Take comfort and companionship, good friend. We may not know what this star will bring, but we can sing, eat, and drink tonight without fear.” From Abigail Barnwallow to a player sitting at the barn. The player who hears this gains the benefits of a free long rest the next time they come to Thunderale Tavern.
  8. “My bet is it has something to do with all the monsters wandering around outside of their typical spawning grounds. If I had more time off the front lines, I’d definitely go to investigate.” Morgen Schnee an Aasimar Paladin who’s a well known front liner.

Allow the players to circulate through the bar while describing each new rumor and speculation to the group. After you feel satisfied that you’ve sprinkled enough story hooks and related game flavor, read the following to the players:

“Concerned about the new star and all the odd happenings in Midgard, your information gathering in Thunderale has only added to your apprehension. You’ve retreated, drink in hand, to ruminate on your findings when a commotion in front of the fireplace draws your attention. RubyNight — a Genie Warlock with a puffy mane of red hair — begins to lurch back and forth grabbing patrons as she stumbles. Falling to the floor, Ruby’s avatar flickers. Bright strobes of light flash from her, causing those near her to shout and cover their eyes. A garbled electronic wail rises from her as her body jolts back and forth. Finally, the ordeal ends. Ruby lurches up, grabbing hands offered to help her stand.

“‘Steady lass,’ JenPak a Dwarf Barbarian says to Ruby. ‘Thought you’d suicided there for a second.’

“Ruby shakes herself off, then begins to make for the bar. She’s heading toward your table when you notice something odd about the icons floating above her head. One of them is the diamond symbol usually reserved for Quest Givers. Just as she comes abreast of your table, Ruby seems to notice the symbol too. Without asking, she pulls up a chair at your table, then waves her hands, briefly obscuring her new icons.

“‘It’s OK! I’m all right. Just a glitch!’ she shouts. ‘I’ll be fine. Just going to take a drink here with my friends!'”


The players have run into RubyNight (typically shortened to Ruby) before at Thunderale Tavern. She’s a member of the Guild called Stella Requiem. Lately, she’s been trying to get players who are reluctant to adventure to help take part in fighting monsters or investigating recent strange events. She’s become a bit of a pest and non-adventurers have taken to avoiding her. Her sitting at the players’ table should be a somewhat awkward affair.

Ruby’s demeanor, however, is friendly. She genuinely likes most other players and this attitude is infectious. Ruby’s recent cajoling of non-adventurers is more out of a fear that those currently engaged on the front line won’t be enough. She’s also seen some odd things lately — having recently witnessed monsters wandering from place-to-place in small but organized bands. She also has more knowledge about so-called safe zone glitches. She’s seen and investigated weakening safe zones in all five Home Towns.

Ruby also now has a new set of items listed in her menu. These are quests. Apparently, she has just become the first PC quest giver. Even more strange, her quests are related to the recent strange events. You can now have Ruby give the three new quests to the players — imploring them to act. These quests are provided in part 2 of Ominous Signs Before the Breach.

Event 3 — Safe Zone Failure in a Dark Back Alley

As the players leave Thunderale Tavern, when a player receives Rumor/Speculation #2 on the rumor table in the last event, or at any time of your choosing, have the players meet and talk with Thalia about the disappearance of her mother in Mio Elysse (See Midgard Campaign Map). This event is a mini-adventure that is pivotal to the main story line.

Thalia Winterclaw is a Silver Dragonborn Divine Soul Sorcerer 2 (see stats in the Appendix). She dabbled in adventuring with her mother Raven Blackhorn a Tiefling Whispers Bard 2. Her mother disappeared two days ago after meeting with her class trainer. Thalia has learned that her mother walked near a back-alley in Mio Elysse where other players have also recently disappeared. In the alley is a single lamp-post that emits a shroud of glooming shade which seems to obscure a section of the back alley. Thalia investigated this far, but was too afraid to venture further.

Clues of a Kidnapping

When the players talk with Thalia they can learn the following clues by asking questions or making the appropriate Persuasion, Perception, and Insight skill rolls:

  1. Raven Blackhorn was a smith of no small skill.
  2. Raven had frequented the black market to gain access to special materials (Persuasion 14).
  3. If asked what the materials are, Thalia lies saying she doesn’t know (Insight 14).
  4. If asked nicely, Thalia reveals the name of Raven’s black market contact — Bresson Squint Eye.
  5. Thalia wears a dagger made of a strange black crystal material (Perception 15).
  6. When scanned with Arcana, the dagger radiates an aura of necromancy (Arcana 15).

Thalia is conflicted. She knows that some of the information she holds will help find her mother. But she also innately senses that what her mother has done may be seen in a negative light. Deep Shard is a substance that NPCs refuse to forge into weapons and armor, claiming it is cursed but providing no further explanation. Thalia worries more and more that this is true. She knows her mother was collecting Deep Shard near Yggdrasil and more recently near the alley where players disappeared in Mio Elysse. She has not witnessed its formation directly and does not know it forms when players die.

Thalia’s Dagger is a Major Deep Shard Weapon — an uncommon magic item forged by Raven Blackhorn of Deep Shard. Deep Shard are dark crystals that form when adventurers die in or near Svartalfheim. The slain adventurer’s pixels resolve to form a block of material that a PC smith can then forge using smith’s tools proficiency and rolling a 17 or higher on the dice. See Deep Shard Items and Thalia’s Dagger in the Appendix for more information.

Investigation in Mio Elysse

Whether or not the players question her, Thalia begs them to accompany her to Mio Elysse and to find her mother. If the players decide to help Thalia, they can use their Teleportation Crystals (see the BSO Player’s Guide) to teleport to Mio Elysse or they can simply take the Mio Elysse doorway out of Thunderale Tavern.

When the players journey to Mio Elysse, they can follow one of two leads. The first and less obvious lead is to meet with Bresson Squint Eye. The second, more obvious, lead is to investigate the Dim Alley and its dark damp post.

Bresson Squint Eye at Hot Perks

If the players learn about Bresson Squint Eye from Thalia, they may wish to try to find him in Mio Elysse’s black market. Having followed Raven to his illicit store and workshop on numerous occasions, Thalia knows exactly where to go. She swiftly leads the players through Mio Elysse to a small coffee shop called Hot Perks.

Hot Perks Coffee House made with Inkarnate

The owner, Bresson Squint Eye, a Gnome Artificer 2, bought the shop with money gained from selling items he forged using his blacksmith skill early in game. A cook, Bresson also brews delicious coffee and bakes delectable scones. Hot Perks serves as a front for an illicit trade in magic items crafted from Deep Shard. These items are made in a basement workshop beneath the coffee shop. These items are sold from Hot Perks as special ‘black mugs.’ The mugs are actually skins that when smashed on the ground reveal the contained items forged from Deep Shard.

Bresson was the first to discover Deep Shard as special material drops near Yggdrasil. The material had a smith tools proficiency icon over it and when he used his smith tools skill he was able to create a magical axe. He soon enlisted the help of other PC smiths, including Raven Blackhorn and another smith by the name of Giles Gilfeather, to work the material. As Deep Shard was banned by NPC smiths and had the cursed alert icon on it, Bresson was forced to sell items forged from it through the Black Market. Bresson considered the cursed icon to be questionable at first as Deep Shard items produced no obvious ill effect.

When Giles disappeared, Bresson was alarmed. But he didn’t immediately suspect a connection with Deep Shard. He and Raven kept working the profitable and seemingly-helpful Deep Shard. They were also delighted to discover a new nearby source in the Dark Alley behind Driftglobe Inn. Why ingots of Deep Shard began to appear in the alley remained uncertain. Though Bresson’s alarm grew when he learned that players were starting to disappear behind Driftglobe and that one of the lamp posts there had begun to emit darkness rather than light.

Then Raven disappeared and Bresson began to panic.

When the players arrive, they find Bresson packing his things. If questioned about why he’s packing, Bresson says that ‘business has gone sour, becoming too risky.’ If pressed or persuaded (Intimidation 15 or Persuasion 15), Bresson reveals that he’s ‘been selling special items made from Deep Shard and forged in a workshop beneath his coffee house but that his fellow smiths have gone missing near the Driftglobe Inn.’ If questioned further, Bresson says he’s going to leave town because he fears for his safety.

Bresson has two magic items made from Deep Shard that he’s willing to give to characters who treat him well — a short sword and a spear. Both are minor items. If the players ask to have them, he reluctantly gives them away saying — ‘The NPC smiths say they’re cursed. I didn’t believe them at first. Now, with everyone disappearing, I wonder.’

Bresson knows little else. Though he can guess quite a lot, he’s not willing to share his speculations with the players.

Treasure: Minor Deep Shard Shortsword, Minor Deep Shard Spear (see Appendix).

The Dim Alley and the Dark Lamp Post

Regardless of whether the players talk to Bresson, Thalia ultimately leads them to the Dim Alley behind the Driftglobe Inn. The Inn itself has a bright front. Its namesake Driftglobe floats in the air out front, casting bright light into the street and over passersby as it languidly floats back and forth on its silver chain.

The shadow-filled alley to the left of the Inn is another story. Most residents avoid it. Now and then, an adventurer may enter the Alley in search of a lost companion or to investigate a rumor. Most emerge with little to show. Some disappear. Since this is a safe zone, folk aren’t don’t voice their concern. But its presence provokes fears many are not willing to name.

“Shadows seem to bend and twist in odd fashion, spilling out from the alley like a pool of unlight. Passersby on the street give Dim Alley a wide berth. For you and for these residents, Dim Alley creates a kind of dissonance — seeming to contradict the safety that the Home Town of Mio Elysse represents.”

When the players enter Dim Alley, all light sources are considered one category dimmer. Bright light becomes dim light, dim light becomes darkness and so on. Upon entering, the players immediately notice the source of the darkness — a lamp post with a globe of pitch black atop it in the place where its lamp light should be. They also see the following message in their Head’s Up DisplayWARNING: LEAVING SAFE ZONE. The cobblestones around the lamp are buckled. In cracks between them, the players can see tree roots. These roots are outrunners from Yggdrasil. A DC 20 Nature or a DC 20 Arcana check can reveal to the players that the roots are from Yggdrasil.

If the players search the Alley, they are able to find two ingots of Deep Shard if they succeed in a DC 15 Perception check. One rests directly beneath the Dark Lamp Post. The other sits atop a pile of broken cobble stones stacked near the Alley’s west wall. If the players Investigate (DC 15) the areas near these shards, they notice small disturbances that indicate signs of struggle. The Duergar Flinderflick, his Death Dog Render, Benderfleck the Drow and Flinderflick’s Goblin slaves recently leapt out of their lair in the Yggdrasil Root Pocket behind the Dark Lamp Post then ambushed and killed two low level players in the Dim Alley. When the players died in the darkened rift area between Midgard and Svartalfheim, their pixels coalesced to form Deep Shard ingots.

If a character holds a Deep Shard or an item crafted from Deep Shard and approaches to within ten feet of the Dark Lamp Post, they can see space bend and shift around the Lamp Post — forming an open entryway. Read the following:

“Holding the ingot of black crystal before you, space bends as you approach the lamp post capped in darkness. The distortion forms an opening into a chamber of expertly worked stone. Precise blocks neatly fitted form a floor that leads through an archway formed by expert hands. As within the Alley, the light is dim and cold. Your vision quickly terminates. Although you can see clearly enough to make out runes on the archway.”

The runes are dwarven and read — Stranger Beware.

Svartalfheim Node

A player holding a Deep Shard or an item forged from Deep Shard may pass through the archway. They can also hold hands with one additional player to cross under the archway. Thalia, having possess the Dagger Raven forged from Deep Shard, has been exposed to the magical energy of Svartalfheim long enough to pass through the archway as well.

Dim Alley, Dark Lampost, and Svartalfheim Node. Map made with Inkarnate.

1. Node Entry

“Passing through the archway, you enter a chill, shadowy chamber. Where you stand, roots curl around the distortion in space leading to the alleyway behind you. Shadows from the dark lamp post pool around you. Stepping from the pool of shadows, you notice the light of two braziers at the end of a narrow well-worked hallway ahead.”

The first ten feet of this hallway is under the same darkness effect as the Dim Alley. But when the characters step out, the lighting conditions return to normal. The players are now within a node broken off from the dungeon realm of Svartalfheim that exists in a space between it and Midgard caught up in Yggdrasil’s roots.

The braziers at the end of the hallway have had the Magic Mouth ritual cast on them by the Drow Benderflek. If anyone but Flinderflick (Area 5), Benderflek, or the Death Dog Render (Area 2) pass between the braziers, the Magic Mouth triggers and utters the words “Naughty, naughty!” loudly in elfish and then in dwarven. A Detect Magic spell focused on the braziers reveals an aura of illusion magic. Close examination by someone trained in Arcana (DC 20) will also reveal traces of illusion magic.

2. Death Dog Foyer

This foyer has been scoured clean by the Goblin (Area 3) slaves under the meticulous eye of Flinderflick. Light flickers from braziers near the walls. A Death Dog (Render) contentedly grinds a thigh bone down to pixels. After a minute, it reforms only to be ground down again. Render immediately attacks anyone he doesn’t recognize who enters this chamber. He also terrorizes the Goblins and Raven by continuously growling and snapping at them when intruders are not present.

3. Goblin Barracks

Each of these barracks is occupied by four Goblins. Flinderflick has instructed them to rally to the foyer if the Magic Mouth alarm sounds. That said, the Goblins are reluctant, ill-treated, and have low morale. If the alarm does sound, one group of four delays, not arriving until round 3. If the alarm does not sound, the Goblins ignore noises in the foyer and stay in their barracks. If a character enters their room, they attack. If a character speaks to them in Goblin, they listen with weapons ready, then ask to be set free.

Treasure: Each Goblin holds a Minor Deep Shard dagger.

4. Forge, Workbench and Gateway to Svartalfheim

This chamber contains a forge (A), a table with smiths’ tools arranged across it, and an archway veiled in mist surrounded by Yggdrasil roots (B).

The forge is used by Raven, under the tyrannical eye of Flinderflik, to craft Deep Shard weapons and other items. With Giles and Raven (Area 6) as his slaves, he’s managed to equip his entire force in the Svartalfheim Node with these dangerous items. He sets ambushes in the Dim Alley for unwary adventures. He also uses the Drow Benderflek, who can roam freely about in Mio Elysse, to collect information about smiths as targets for possible kidnapping. The Goblins can also pass into Midgard. But they are too untrustworthy to let loose in Mio Elysse. Flinderflik is, so far, unable to pass beyond the Dim Alley. But he knows that this situation will soon change.

The archway is a gate leading to Svartalfheim. But it presently is not passable by anyone except natives of Svartalfheim and by those who’ve possessed a Deep Shard item for more than ten days. Flinderflik intends to use the gateway to send captives back to Svartalfheim as gifts to his King Doomshallow. He has already sent Giles Gilfeather as a slave gift. He intends to send Raven as soon as he can find a suitable replacement smith.

The Drow Benderflek occupies this area when the players arrive. He responds immediately to any commotion. Benderfleck possesses a Minor Deep Shard rapier which he uses in melee instead of shortsword (+4 to hit, 1d8+2 damage, critical 2d8+2+1 necrotic damage). His statistics are those of a Drow (Monster Manual, 128). He has also managed to learn the Magic Mouth ritual.

Benderflek serves as Flinderflick’s spy and scout. As a Drow in possession of a Deep Shard item, he can move freely about in Midgard. Flinderflick thinks this is a special talent of Benderflek alone and has not yet discovered that this is a Drow trait.

Treasure: Smith’s Tools are arranged on the work table. Benderfleck’s purse contains 5 platinum, 15 gold, 20 silver and 21 copper. He also holds a Minor Deep Shard rapier.

5. Flinderflick’s Chamber

This chamber is occupied by Flinderflick’s bed, a small desk, and a dresser. His Deep Shard battle axe hangs from pegs on the wall or is strapped to Flinderflick’s back.

Flinderflick the Duergar occupies his chamber when the characters arrive. He was separated from Svartalfheim when a portion of his fortress was ripped away by Yggdrasil’s roots and cast into the gap between it and Midgard two weeks ago. When first separated, Flinderflick could only occupy the Node or venture out into the Dim Alley. Eventually the roots ripped a second gate into the forge area which now allows him to pass back and forth between the Node and Svartalfheim. Though other residents of Svartalfheim are not yet able to cross into the Node.

Flinderflick believes the Deep Shard materials and weapons can help the Duergar and Drow of Svartalfheim invade Midgard. He has already gained the attention of King Doomshallow who is plotting to conquer the unsuspecting inhabitants of BSO’s first level. Neither Doomshallow, nor Flinderflick realize that this breach into Midgard from Svartalfheim through Yggdrasil’s roots is but the first of many. That said, Benderflek does. For his people, the Drow, have been finding paths through darkness to areas around Yggdrasil for some time now. The Drow have kept this secret from their Duergar allies for now. Their leaders rightly believe Doomshallow would act on this information too-soon.

Flinderflick is meticulous in the extreme and burns all communications between himself and his King. He is also loyal and will take his secrets with him to his death.

If the alarm sounds or Flinderflick hears a commotion, he readies his weapons and ventures out — ready to do battle.

Treasure: A hidden compartment in Flinderflick’s desk (DC 15 Perception, DC 14 Investigation) contains a pouch with 2 black onyx (25 gold each), 1 garnet (25 gold), 5 platinum, 40 gold, and 100 silver. Flinderflick keeps his Major Deep Shard battle axe on his person or on the wall pegs. He also possesses the key for room 6 which hangs from a cord around his neck.

6. Prisoner

The door to this room is locked. It is a reinforced door. A character with Thieves’ Tools proficiency can open the door by picking the lock with a successful check (DC 17).

Inside is Raven Blackhorn. She is Thalia’s real life mother. In game, she’s a highly skilled smith and a level 2 Tiefling Whispers Bard. As a captive slave of Flinderflick, Raven has been forced under threat of death to forge items made of Deep Shard.

Raven is overwhelmed with gratitude if she’s rescued and reunited with her daughter. Even though she knows it’s a game, she now harbors a deep hatred for the slaver race of Duergar and their allies the Drow. Raven knows the magical gate in room 4 leads to a place called Svartalfheim — a subterranean dungeon realm ruled by Drow and Duergar. She also knows Flinderflick intended to send her there to be a slave to the King Doomshallow. Raven, though terrified by her close brush with death and slavery, seeks to do all she can to prevent others from becoming enslaved and to free Giles Gilfeather whom she knows is now a slave in Svartalfheim.

Combat Tactics

The monsters’ combat tactics largely depend on whether or not the players set off the Magic Mouth alarm. This alarm is loud enough to immediately alert everyone in the Node and compel them to act on Flinderflick’s previously issued commands. If the players do not set off the Magic Mouth, the barks and growls of Render along with sounds of fighting ultimately alert those in the Node but their actions may be delayed for various reasons.

Magic Mouth alerts the Node:

Round 1: Render the Death Dog begins barking and rushes out to attack any intruders it can see in area 1 and 2.

Round 2: Four Goblins pour out of one barracks room (area 3). They attempt to flank enemies — focus firing to take the players down one at a time. They start with the apparently weakest player unless they are threatened by a more serious danger (like a tank-type swinging a massive weapon in their face).

Round 3: The Four Goblins from the second barracks rush out. Benderflek the Drow arrives. He casts Faerie Fire on his first round of combat, then engages players who are illuminated with his hand crossbow from a distance. If a player threatens him in melee, he draws his rapier. If Flinderflick falls and more than half his allies have been defeated, Benderfleck uses his next action to cast Darkness and then attempts to flee through the Gate in area 4. Flinderflick moves into area 4 and Enlarges himself using his special Duergar ability.

Round 4: Flinderflick arrives. He attacks whichever player appears to be the greatest threat or a player under the effect of Benderflek’s Faire Fire. Flinderflick is a fanatic who believes in his superiority. He fights to the death.

Render alerts the Node:

Round 1: Render attacks intruders he can see.

Round 2: The Goblins in area 3 cower.

Round 3: Benderflek’s actions are the same. Flinderflick’s actions are the same except that he shouts furiously for the Goblins to attack.

Round 4: Four Goblins from one room in area 3 burst out and attack. Flinderflick’s actions are the same.

Round 5: Four more Goblins creep out and reluctantly attack so long as their morale isn’t ruined.

Goblin morale: If four Goblins are killed or incapacitated, the rest surrender. If Flinderflick is killed or incapacitated, four Goblins surrender the round this happens and any remaining Goblins surrender the following round. If the players kill Render, the Goblins cheer as the Death Dog breaks into pixels but keep fighting.

Deep Shard Weapons: The Goblins and Benderflek possess Minor Deep Shard Weapons (see Appendix) and deal +1 Necrotic Damage on a critical hit. Flinderflick possesses a Major Deep Shard Weapon and is +1 to hit and damage for all his attacks while also dealing +1 Necrotic Damage on a critical hit.


This module includes new magic items in the form of Deep Shard Crystals — cursed magical items that link Midgard to the dungeon realm of Svartalfheim and to the shadowy gap-world in between. In addition, the stats for a key O(PC) — Thalia Winterclaw — are included here.

Magic Items

Deep Shard Crystals (Common, Magical Material, Cursed)

A Deep Shard Crystal forms when a player character (PC) dies while within 1,000 feet of Yggdrasil or in the Dim Alley in Mio Elysse. These crystals are linked to Svartalfheim — the dark dungeon realm now being breached by the growing roots of Yggdrasil. They are also empowered by the shadowy gap between those two worlds. A PC who possesses a Deep Shard or an item forged from Deep Shard for ten days may pass from Midgard and into Svartalfheim through a Node Gate. An elf (of any type) from Midgard who possesses a Deep Shard item may move freely between and within these two realms immediately. A monster or NPC from Svartalfheim may only move into Nodes, the Dim Alley, or emerge in areas within 1,000 feet of Yggdrasil. If they possess a Deep Shard or an item forged from it for ten days, they can then move freely about Midgard. A Drow who possesses a Deep Shard item can move freely between and within these two realms immediately.

Cursed — Anyone possessing a Deep Shard or an item made from it for more than ten days receives the following status alert: WARNING: SAFE ZONE SETTING TURNED OFF. Thereafter, the player can now be attacked by other players, NPCs, or monsters who have their safe zone setting turned off. This effect is cumulative. So if a Deep Shard or an item made from it is held for one day, then set aside only to be picked up again later, the count continues on to two days and so on.

Deep Shard may be forged into magical weapons by those proficient in Smith’s Tools and having access to Smith’s Tools and Forge. Roll a Smith’s Tools proficiency check to determine the outcome.

Modified Proficiency Check Result:

1-10 Failure. Deep Shard Crystal is destroyed.

10-15 Failure, no result.

15-19 Produces a Minor Deep Shard Weapon.

20+ Produces a Major Deep Shard Weapon.

If a Deep Shard Crystal or a weapon made from it is exposed to daylight in Asgard, Alfheim, or Vanaheim, it is destroyed and all its effects are removed.

Minor Deep Shard Weapon (Common, Weapon, Cursed)

A Minor Deep Shard Weapon can be any melee weapon, a javelin, or 20 pieces of ammunition (arrows, bolts, sling stones, darts). They possess the same properties of the Deep Shard Crystal from which they are forged. In addition, they are considered Magical Weapons. When a critical hit is scored with a Minor Deep Shard Weapon, it deals an additional 1 point of Necrotic Damage.

Major Deep Shard Weapon (Uncommon, Weapon, Cursed)

The rules for a Major Deep Shard Weapon are the same as those for a Minor Deep Shard Weapon and a Deep Shard Crystal. In addition, these weapons are +1 to hit and and +1 to damage.

Companion OPC Game Statistics

Thalia will join the PCs if they welcome her. She is desperate to find her mother and will use her abilities and powers to help the PCs. Technically a Player in BSO, Thalia fulfills the traditional role of NPC. For our purposes, we’ll label Thalia an (other player character) OPC. An OPC is thus technically a player in Battlestorm for story purposes.

Thalia uses her powers to support and heal the players. She casts Mage Armor at the start of an adventuring day, then immediately burns her two sorcery points to regain a spell slot. She casts Bless on her allies during round 1, then uses Cure Wounds to heal anyone who looks like they’re in trouble. If anyone is down, she casts Spare the Dying. If no other option is available, she casts Firebolt on her foes. Thalia will use her dragon breath only as a last resort.



Medium Silver Dragonborn, neutral good

Armor Class 13 (16) (mage armor)
Hit Points 14
Speed 30 ft.

8 (-1)16 (+3)14 (+2)10 (0)16 (0)16 (+3)

Saving Throws Con +4, Cha +5
Skills Persuasion +5, Arcana +2, Insight +2, Religion +2
Damage Resistances cold
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages Common, Draconic

Magic Weapon. Thalia has a Major Deep Shard Dagger (attack stats adjusted).

Font of Magic. Thalia has 2 sorcery points (See Sorcerer Class).

Spellcasting. Thalia is a 2nd-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). She has the following Sorcerer and Cleric spells prepared:


  • Firebolt. Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: 6 (1d10) fire damage.
  • Deep Shard Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+3) magical piercing damage. Critical: +1 necrotic damage.
  • White Dragon Breath. Breath Weapon: creatures in a15 foot cone. DC 12 Con save. 7 (2d6) cold damage. Save for half.


Thalia is a dragonborn bedecked in glistening silver scales. An iridescent frill runs from the top of her head to her tail, casting rainbow hues in direct sunlight. Though ready with a smile, she is sad at the loss of her mother and is desperate to find her.

Battlestorm Online — In Real Life (IRL) Backgrounds

This section describes thirteen new backgrounds for the Battlestorm Online Dungeons and Dragons game. Unlike typical backgrounds, these player creation tools will allow characters playing in Battlestorm Online to leverage their in real life (IRL) character skills mechanically in game. This adds another layer to the player experience — as PCs in Battlestorm are playing an IRL person who is running an avatar in an online death game. The avatar represents most of the character’s statistics and the IRL persona is primarily a role-play vehicle. For example, I a played Morgen Schnee in DungeonMasterGraham‘s Battlestorm Valhalla game through level 5. Morgen is a college student IRL whose parents are stuffy IT executives. She’s picked up cred and publicity as a gamer who uses her IRL name in fantasy games. She’s an avid MMO player known to help newbies and face down malicious PKers. Her avatar in Battlestorm Online is an Aasimar Paladin which includes most of her character’s statistics. Her IRL background, however, is Celebrity Gamer. Morgen has now transitioned into an NPC in a third Battlestorm game I’m running.

Written and cooperatively created by myself and Ted Burgess, this campaign includes our own, unofficial and unaffiliated, OGL-created D&D 5e content (published on Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop and available in the Gaming Studio) which is free for use in your D&D games. Ted and I are using this content to run our own campaigns — which we will be playing live on Twitch here and here. You may use this content for your own games as it is freely available on this site. If you decide to livestream your own Battlestorm Online game, please feel free. However, please also throw us a little mention now and then.


You are a well known gamer in real life. Perhaps your live-stream is crazy-popular. Perhaps gamer media has picked you up as a story focus for their articles. For whatever reason, the gaming community generally knows you. For better or for worse, you have a reputation among gamers. Your playstyle, avatars, and in-game actions are thus recognizable and it is likely that other avid gamers have heard of you. As a result, you tend to attract attention — becoming a focus for all variety of social attention ranging from celebration to trolling to everything in between.

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu and Directory Search

Languages: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Iconic gaming skin — your avatar’s clothes, physical features and movements have their own special personality and character mojo which is unique to your playstyle. This includes one set of uniquely styled fine clothes, one bauble (see Gameworld Baubles below), and one flashy mannerism.

Flashy Mannerisms

Roll for or choose one of the flashy mannerisms below.

D8 Flashy Mannerism

  1. Your eyes swirl with colors when you use divination magic or make a perception, insight, investigation, arcana, or religion skill check.
  2. You have a special hand gesture that when you make it causes a chime, jingle, music or other background sound that you design to go off for 6 seconds.
  3. When you dash or jump your steps leave glowing footprints that slowly fade over the course of 6 seconds.
  4. When you draw your signature weapon, lights spark around it, your hair and clothes flow and billow, or a roll of thunder sounds.
  5. A characterized, smiley-faced version of your avatar, your familiar, your special mount, or your animal companion appears over your head and dances around in a circle when you are joyful.
  6. A halo forms over your head when you cast a spell using divine magic, use the paladin divine smite ability, or activate your channel divinity.
  7. Glowing spectral horns sprout from your head and your eyes glow pink, orange, or red when you cast a spell using arcane magic, or use eldritch smite. If you are a tiefling, your horns gleam with runes instead.
  8. You have a signature smile that you only use for those special situations. This can include anything from a sparkle over your teeth when you grin to a wicked and mysterious Cheshire cat type smile.

Gameworld Baubles

Gameworld Baubles are special common magic items accessible to Gamer Celebrities as a signature to their celebrity persona. Choose or roll for one Gameworld Bauble from the list below.

D8 Gameworld Bauble

  1. Lucent Orb. This orb attaches to one spell focus or weapon causing it to emit dim moonlight in a 10 foot radius. While emitting this light, the weapon is considered to be silvered and if the Lucent Orb is attached to a spell focus it is considered to be an improvised silvered weapon. You can extinguish this light by sheathing the weapon or spell focus.
  2. Lipstick of Secrets. For one round after you spend a bonus action to apply this glittering lipstick only your party members can understand the words you speak. Alternatively, you can use the Lipstick to write a message that only your party members can read. The message must be 20 words or less and it must be written on a solid surface. The message disappears after 24 hours. You may use this lipstick three times. At which point you must take a long rest to allow the lipstick to magically reform.
  3. Butterfly Cloak. When you jump down or fall from a height, your falling distance is reduced by 10 additional feet. When you jump down or fall while wearing the Butterfly Cloak, you also drift 5 feet in a random direction.
  4. Cat’s Third Eye. This green eye floats above your head. You can use your action to command it to move up to five feet away from you. When you do this the eye becomes invisible and you see from its perspective. The eye cannot pass through walls but it can squeeze through gaps the size of a keyhole or larger. The eye automatically closes and returns to its position above your head after six seconds.
  5. Brooch of Nightshade. When you wear this brooch you are considered to be standing in night’s darkness, even while in direct sunlight. The Brooch of Nightshade also reduces daylight to bright light, bright light to dim light, and dim light to nonmagical darkness. This lighting reduction only affects your form, not your square. So you are not obscured while standing in darkness generated by the Brooch of Nightshade. You may use your action to flip the Brooch to stop this effect. Restarting the effect requires you to use your action to flip the Brooch again.
  6. Safety Blanket. This blue cloak with silver trim is clasped by a platinum brooch formed in the shape of a protection rune. You may use your action to unclasp this cloak and to throw it over the body of one of your party members who is at zero hit points. When you do this, your ally automatically stabilizes and cannot be damaged unless a creature uses its action to remove the Safety Blanket. If the party member beneath the blanket has her hit point total increase above zero and regains consciousness, the effect ends. The Safety Blanket can only be used once per long rest.
  7. Floating Fire. This necklace bears a ruby carved in the shape of a flame. As an action, you may remove the ruby and cast it into the air. When you do this, the ruby turns into a flame roughly the size of a torch fire and floats over your right shoulder — following you when you move. The flame provides torchlight. You may use your action to direct this fire to light flammable substances, boil water, or heat objects within 5 feet. You may also make attacks with the floating fire as part of your attack action against creatures within 5 feet. The floating fire does normal fire damage equal to that of a torch. After 1 hour, the floating fire returns — reforming as a ruby on your necklace — at which point you must take a long rest before you can activate your floating fire again.
  8. Never-ending Sandwich. This sandwich is wrapped up in a green handkerchief with golden trim. When you unfold the handkerchief, it reveals a large, delicious sandwich. When you or one of your party members eat the sandwich you or the party member gain the benefits of a short rest. If you or a party member spends hit dice as part of this short rest, they may reroll any 1s on the dice. All that remains after consuming the sandwich is an empty handkerchief. After your next long rest, the Never-ending Sandwich reforms, again filling up the handkerchief.

Gaming Stream

Whether through your own live stream (that you manage remotely or that someone manages for you) or through gamer media, your actions in game are visible through a live stream. As a result, your gaming actions are public and generally known. This can either aid or hurt you in social situations, depending on circumstance. However, since you have a fan base, you can often ask for reasonable favors among fans when appropriate. This also means you have a cadre of flamers and haters who’ve glommed onto you as an object of criticism and ridicule.


For you, life is all about the gaming. RPGs, online MMOs, first person shooters and a plethora of others captured your interest at a young age — igniting into a passion that carries on into adulthood. Sure, you probably keep a job to help fund your gaming habit — unless you’re lucky enough to have a wealthy relative willing to support you. But regardless of what you do outside, life’s not about that for you. It’s the gaming that defines you. In-game, what you most enjoy is the element of working effectively with others. Team-building, comradery, developing effective plans, supporting your buds, and making the magic happen, together, is what really gets your blood pumping. In-game, this drive for forming cooperative bonds makes you a natural facilitator. Fellow players often seek you out for the good vibes and team-building you provide.

Skill Proficiencies: Two of your choice.

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu and Directory Search

Languages: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Pouch with 20 gold, common clothes, one kit or set of tools of your choice.

Build the Team

Your long practice in working as a member of an effective team have afforded you with a number of options for helping your buddies out of sticky situations. Once per long rest, you can create one of the following effects for your team members as a reaction:

  1. Allow an ally to reroll one failed Death Save.
  2. Give an ally advantage on one skill check.
  3. Allow an ally to jump 5 additional feet so long as you are within 5 feet of that ally.
  4. Distract one enemy — causing it to roll with disadvantage on one Perception check to detect an ally or one Athletics check to grapple or shove an ally.
  5. Reduce the movement needed for an ally to dismount or mount to 0 so long as you are within 5 feet of that ally.
  6. Grant one ally within 5 feet of you advantage on the attack roll for one readied action.

Lighten the Mood

Your infectious humor, light-hearted quips and joyful antics are always helpful. But sometimes, when the chips are down, you can use your positive influence to lift your allies spirits at a critical time. Once per day, as a bonus action, you may grant your allies advantage on one saving throw to remove an ongoing fear, dominate, enchantment, confusion, enthrall, curse, or bane effect. The number of allies who can benefit from this effect is equal to your proficiency bonus. These allies must be able to see and hear you in order to gain this benefit.


Unlike many in a capitalistic society, the notion of running in the rat race to the top never really held much fascination for you. Sure, you competed in school and at games just like everyone else. But winning never seemed like the end-all-be-all. You were more concerned with making a difference to your nation and the world. Perhaps you were one of those Trekkie types who believed in social ideals more typical to the United Federation of Planets than most Earthly systems. Perhaps the heroic companionship in common cause for a greater good described in tales like The Fellowship of the Ring was your true north. Whatever the case, you were one of the lucky few who escaped from the cut-throat competition of business-based social economics and earned a post in the federal workforce. A place where your labor could really make a difference. IRL, you’re now an employee of a government agency that works to improve the lives of national and/or global citizens. Your dedication and ethic have allowed you to develop a deep expertise in your chosen field — no matter how broad. How you ended up trapped in a death game is an unlikely tale that only you can tell. But being brought here, you realize your perspective is a much-needed one for your poor fellow souls trapped in a vile and violent struggle against computer-generated monsters and perishing by the score.

Skills: Insight and one of the following — Arcana, History, Nature, Medicine

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search

Languages: Two in-game languages of your choice

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Backpack, 10 rations, a pouch with 10 gold

Political Acumen

You are one of the few people able to connect with and understand the actual NPC power structure of BSO. By observing NPCs such as Home Town Rulers, Quest Givers, and the like, you are able to glean special insights into the underlying operation of these game AIs. You thus have advantage on Insight and Investigation checks relating to AI NPCs in a position of power. In addition, once per tier, you may request one boon of a Home Town Ruler. You work with your Game Master to determine the nature of the boon. If your request is reasonable and you and your party succeed in any related skill checks, you may gain powerful assistance from a Home Town, its Ruler, and its associated network of NPC civil servants.

Prophetic Foresight

You have a larger understanding of how systems evolve and change. This understanding can be used to glean special insights into the nature of your BSO story arc. Once per tier you can roll an insight check against a DC of 15+ your tier. If you succeed, you can ask the GM one question about the nature of the developing story. The GM need not provide you with a full answer to your question, but they should provide you with new insights, possible paths for finding answers to your question, or hints about which quests may prove most fruitful in revealing the mysteries you are attempting to uncover.


In reality, you’re a highly trained medical professional with a background in life sciences and related chemistry and biology. Your technical expertise in science generally and in the area of medicine is considerable and could include new emerging illnesses, emergency hospital care, or a home practice. Regardless, you have special scientific and medical knowledge that provides you with a variety of benefits in-game. Your manner and call to care for others also grants you a unique gravitas and ability to steady those around you. To build their confidence to face the worst rigors of the dangerous in-game environment. How you use this scientific knowledge and reputable presence is up to you. Regardless, you have a special relationship with and understanding of various afflictions, healing processes, and death itself.

Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Nature

Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s Supplies

Languages: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: One Alchemists supplies Kit, a set of Clothes styled as that of a fantasy world healer or alchemist, 10 days worth of Rations (each usable to generate a short rest), and one Healer’s Kit. In addition you begin play with an extra 20 gold pieces.

Aesop’s Ally

In your journeys through the Battlestorm game-world you have encountered and healed or otherwise soothed the hurts of mystical creature, a monster, or even a celestial being. This NPC monster is now a friend and ally to you. This ally exists at a fixed location in the game world. It cannot move from the general area. However, you can visit your ally without fear of attack from this monster. You may meet with your ally to share information, to socialize with it as friends, or otherwise to give and receive minor favors. At the DM’s discretion, this ally can also serve as a quest giver who provides various rewards when quests are completed.

Roll for or choose one Aesop’s Ally on the table below.

D8 Aesop’s Ally

  1. A quirky Unicorn you untangled from a bramble who’s always forgetting her name.
  2. A brash and bold young Dragon whose painful arrow wound you once healed.
  3. A Troll boss whose close brush with a fireball gave him a serious case of PTSD.
  4. A Night Hag who decided to go vegan due to food allergies and now makes the most delicious vegetable stews.
  5. An Aboleth so obsessed with jellyfish artwork that it accidentally poisoned itself.
  6. A Kirin whose leg was broken during a tornado.
  7. A Stone Giant who got her foot stuck in a cavern full of angry goblins.
  8. A Flumph sensei who lives in terror of a nearby hungry ogre boss.

Doctors’ Network

You’re aware of other doctors in the game world and have access to an informal network among these professionals. You can link up with this list through your Game Menu which has downloaded your professional social media contacts. This network provides you help in the form of contacts, information about special healing substances and magical items, and possible guild allies. In addition, it may result in new options only available to your network for trading special equipment or finding certain ingredients in the game environment. In addition, you may consult with fellow medical professionals on how to treat the injured, the ill, or those suffering from special afflictions.


Before you dove into Battlestorm Online, you were a hacker — a loner who learned how to make their way in the increasingly detailed and complex technological world of Earth. You may have worked in another profession. But your talents granted you a near-virtuoso ability to manipulate technology-based environments. These talents now give you special insight into the underlying code that runs Battlestorm Online. Granting you the ability to easily access game lore, use various tools to overcome in-game boundaries, and to conduct hacks that enable you to alter the game environment. If there’s something you lack, it may be in social connections with other players or in sympathetic contacts with NPC AIs. But that’s OK, your lone-wolf perspective has paid off great so far…

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Investigation

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search, Disguise Kit, and One Tool Proficiency of your choice

Languages: One in-game language of your choice

Equipment: Pouch 10 gold, Disguise Kit, Thieves Tools or one Tool Kit of your choice

Teleportation Crystal Hack

You can selectively re-program teleportation crystals to teleport you and your party members to one location outside of a safe zone. This location must be a place you’ve visited before in-game and taken at least one hour to examine. You can reset this location by examining a different place and then by taking a long rest at an inn or similar location. These altered teleportation crystals can only store one outside safe zone teleport location at any given time. You may hack a number of teleportation crystals up to your intelligence modifier + your proficiency modifier. You can only hack your own crystal and those of people on your friends list, party members list, or guild members list who willingly allow you to examine their crystals.

In-Game Hack

The game moderators provide players with Inspiration to reward heroic acts, good gameplay, and to mark major successes. Inspiration is an exploit that allows players to re-roll one attack, skill check, ability check, or saving throw. Once per long rest, when you or one of your party members use inspiration, you can exploit the system so that it is not expended.


You’ve always been a social butterfly. And the newly emerged electronic world of recent decades granted you access to communication tools never-before-imagined. Whether a YouTuber, a blogger, or a live streamer, you’re a social media influencer in real life. You could be a hair stylist with a huge and devoted fan-base, a creator of visual art loved for your quiet flair, a story-teller whose inspiring tales are beloved by readers and listeners, or a musician whose electric talent has rocked the interwebs. Whatever your medium, you’ve developed at least a respectable number of fans and are well known as a creator. Your entry into Battlestorm Online was, perhaps, an experimentation — a chance to experience a full dive mystical virtual world as a new platform. You’ve brought your own magic in the form of your creativity and panache along with you. These talents grant you special skills when interacting with other players, AI NPCs, and even game moderators.

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu and one of the following — Musical Instruments (up to 3), Scribe’s Tools, Disguise Kit, Painter’s Kit

Language Proficiencies: Two in-game languages of your choice.

Equipment: Fine Clothes, One Musical Instrument, Kit, or Set of Tools related to your chosen proficiency, pouch containing 20 gold, One Heraldic Note of Introduction which describes your auspicious talents and accomplishments.

Alternate Arcane or Divine Focus: You may use a writer’s quill, singing voice, a musical instrument, a painter’s brush, or a hair stylist’s scissors as an Arcane or Divine spell focus.

Notorious Stream

You have a large IRL and in game following. At any time, as a free action, during the game you may use your Main Menu to turn on your live stream. This live stream connects your Battlestorm experiences to your fans both IRL and in-game. You typically turn on your stream for various ad-hoc performances, readings, or to show off a flashy new hair style or make-up arrangement you’ve created. You may also decide to do this as you vividly paint spells into the air with your brush, scribe their runic characters with your writer’s quill, play or sing them as music, or style them with your scissors during combat encounters. Your stream is what connects you to your devoted fans and the game environment is nothing if not an opportunity to continuously perform, create stories, or generate an infinite variety of stylish flair for the already colorful cast of creatures and characters inhabiting Battlestorm Online.

Free Lodging

Your fame comes with a number of perks. One of the main ones is that lodging venues will waive the 1 gold piece cost of a long rest in exchange for the ability to advertise your presence. However, your long rest takes one hour longer as you spend time meeting and greeting with various fans attracted to the Inn by your presence.

Live Event

Once per character tier, with the permission of your Game Master, you may organize a Live Event that invites all of Battlestorm Online to publicly witness one of your newest creations. An event that is also streamed back to IRL media. This performance could be a reading from your newly published novel or manga, a concert in one of the large dueling and training arenas, an art gallery exposition of your newest visual creations, or a fashion show celebrating all your most-recent make-up arrangements and styles. Regardless of type, your event creates a splash in the world of Battlestorm Online and grants you an opportunity to address and rouse the spirits of all players. It’s also a chance to send a message back to the outside world.


Whether an executive of a major corporation, an office worker on a leadership track, a well-placed member of a law firm, or a middle manager with upward mobility, you are an office professional with leadership chops in a major industry. Your IRL field options could be as varied as food industry, auto, advertising, IT, entertainment, gaming, energy, aerospace, defense, legal, consulting, security, and many others. Your talents, however, gravitate around your ability to act as an industry leader and as a member of a larger organization that provides goods or services in exchange for compensation in the form of wealth and influence. In short, you are thus adept at working within various established economic power structures and at gaining a share of that power for yourself. You may be a devotee of those structures — believing that your industry provides a special benefit to society. You may be driven to use your leadership skills to create various helpful products for others while also accumulating individual prestige and profit. On the other hand, your views could well be cynical or even mercenary. Regardless of your motivations, your business acumen transfers to the Battlestorm environment in numerous ways.

Skills: Pick one from Arcana, Nature, or Investigation; Pick one from Insight, Persuasion, or Deception

Tool Proficiencies: Directory Search, Main Menu

Language Proficiencies: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: One free set of Armor, a Fine Robe, or Fine Clothes valued at less than 80 gold. This armor is specially styled to bear your Prestigious Crest. When you upgrade your armor or clothing, its style and crest transfer as an in-game skin. One pouch containing 20 gold.

Special Entitlement

Your manner, dress and skill at bargaining affords you with special relationships, leverage, and the ability to secure better deals in game. As a result you can choose one of following benefits for each level of game play. You must choose this benefit immediately after leveling up, otherwise it is lost.

  1. Your bargaining skills gets you 20 percent off the cost of one magical item available in the Emporium.
  2. You are able to secure a price equal to 120 percent the listed value of a magical item you sent to the Emporium for sale.
  3. Your savvy investment choices have caused your guild bank liquid currency store to appreciate by 10 percent.
  4. You may trade one magic item from your guild bank in exchange for a special favor from another guild. This favor may include — cooperating to raid a known dungeon or monster spawn area, providing special knowledge gained through adventuring to aid you in one of your quests (which comes in the form of a GM hint in-game), or gaining a magic item of equal rarity to the one traded for one of your party members. At the GM’s discretion, other favors may be provided.
  5. You may make one black market trade for a special magic item or material at list price. The black market item list is determined by the GM.
  6. At the GM’s discretion, you may call a special meeting of the player business community. You may use this meeting to request actions by members of the community.

Prestigious Crest

You have a prestigious crest which you display on your clothing or armor. This crest may take any form or design you choose. In-game, it signifies that you were once a member of the business executive class IRL. It thus connects you with other business leaders who will silently recognize your crest and work to ease your passage through the game’s social, guild, and economic structures in exchange for preferential treatment on your part as well. So long as you honor this mutually beneficial arrangement, you may benefit from such associations.


IRL, you are a law enforcement professional. Whether a cop on a street beat, a police lieutenant or captain, or a detective, you work in law enforcement and have developed a keen ability to sniff out crimes, malicious deceptions, and exploitation. You’re a tough cookie who’s gained a lot of gritty experience while dealing with the dark underbelly of Earth’s civilizations. This acumen and association grants you a variety of special skills in the Battlestorm Online environment. Not the least of which is your innate trouble detector.

During your first few days in BSO, you were surprised and aghast at its barely-moderated wild-west style of governance filled to the brim with cheaters and PKers. Your gamer friends say this is par for the course in an MMO. But this is a death game and the surprising array of cheaters, griefers, flamers, trolls and outright PKers has put you on high alert.

That said, the system has somehow glommed onto your IRL history — granting you a special in-game marshal status. This status gives you enhanced access to special game functions that assist you in preventing, investigating, and even punishing PvP crimes. Despite these enhanced features and your passion for bringing criminals to justice, you often feel like the lone white hat in a sea of black hats.

Skills: Insight, Investigation

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search, Land Vehicles Proficiency

Language Proficiencies: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Manacles, Law Enforcement Badge, Equipment Belt, Scabbard, Quiver, Boots, Pouch with 10 Gold.

Red and Orange Player History

It really does seem like the game designers have learned a little bit about your personal work history. Because, for some reason, you’ve been given access to a special section of the Directory Search Menu. This section provides you with a list of every player that has ever had their icon change from green to orange or red due to PvP activity in the game environment. It also lists the reason why that player was listed as red or orange and the duration of the icon color change. This makes you feel like you’ve been backwards-recruited into playing the part of a marshal. It’s a role you didn’t intend to take up when you initially dove into Battlestorm. You just wanted a fun diversion. But given the fact that you’re trapped here in a game where people actually die, you’re not certain you can resist using the information that’s been dropped into your lap. Holding criminals and bad actors to account is one of the drives that led you to police work in the first place, after all.

Enhanced Game Map

Not only do you now have a wealth of information about bad actor players, you also now have the ability to pull up a list of all players killed or harmed by PvP activity. In particular, this information includes a mark indicating the location where each death occurred — creating a spatial display of PvP activity and PvP murders on the game map. This special game map function also shows you the current location of orange or red players. Finally, the map lists all active sanctioned safe-zone duels and provides their locations.

Posting Bounties

Last but not least, the game mods have granted you the special ability to ‘deputize’ other players — compelling them to take part in coordinated action against those who commit crimes. You can now post bounties for individual in-game criminals. You gain this new option directly through your game menu — which enables you to post 1 bounty per character level on a public board within any home town. You may only post 1 bounty per level — hitting a maximum of 20 if you top off your character’s power progression. If you do not post a bounty before you level up, you lose the opportunity. This bounty is listed as an in-game quest for other players. The reward is determined by the gaming moderators and the game AI.


You’ve lived a long and full life IRL — accumulating many wonderful experiences. You are now happily retired, financially independent, and able to spend your days as you see fit. Much of your time is now spent doing things you enjoy most. And one of your favorite hobbies is gaming. When BSO first offered you the opportunity to take part in the virtual reality game’s launch, to live in a made environment, to experience it in a body suffering none of the effects of old age, you jumped at the opportunity. For you it was like having a second shot at life — but without suffering from the lack-wisdom which inevitably comes with youth. In BSO, you get to enjoy the best of both your rich life experience and the amazing abilities of your young, strong, and swift avatars. Too bad the game ended up being a death trap. But at least now you have that rich well of experience to draw from. You also figure it’s not so bad if you die while on the front lines. You’ve lived a long life and your sacrifice might help someone with all of their life to look forward to. Not that you’re going to go down that easy!

Skills: Any three.

Tool Proficiencies: One tool associated with your in-game hobby (fishing rod, wood carving tools, chess set, small one-person sailboat, or playing cards); one other tool of your choice.

Language Proficiencies: Two in-game languages of your choice.

Equipment: One Fishing Rod, Wood Carving Kit, ornate Chess Set, superbly crafted one person Sailboat, or ornate Poker Cards. Special Lunch Kit including 10 tasty Rations, a set of comfortable Travelers Clothes, a sleeping Robe with Nightcap, one Novel, a pair of soft Boots, and a Never-Ending Crossword Puzzle Book (common magic item). A pouch with 20 gold.

In-Game Hobby

You have an in-game hobby which allows you to enjoy yourself while restoring and refreshing you avatar’s health. Choose one of the following — fishing, wood carving, chess, sailing, or poker. Instead of taking a rest at an Inn for one gold piece, you can take part in your in-game hobby for two hours. When you do so roll a d20. If you roll a 1, a calamity happens. If you roll a 20, a special event happens.

D10 Calamity

  1. Your hobby triggers a magical vortex that draws you into a nearby dungeon through a rift in game-space. The vortex’s magic temporarily disables your teleport crystal for 1 hour.
  2. You are accidentally immersed in water, set on fire, or frozen. You do not gain a rest. In addition, the first time you leave the safe zone you can choose either to take 1d10 damage or to lose one item you wear worth 10 gold or less.
  3. Your poor showing amuses a group of 2 pixies and 1 faerie dragon who hang around you for the rest of the day — using their magic to play practical jokes on you at inopportune times.
  4. You perform so poorly that you attract a mansplainer who spends the next hour lecturing you on how better to engage in your chosen hobby.
  5. You fall on your face, literally, while engaging in your hobby. This accident, however, earns you the sympathy of a nearby NPC who adds themselves to your friend list. This the first time you’ve had an AI friend — and you thought you’d experienced everything!
  6. Your poor performance somehow results in the release of magical beasts from a nearby menagerie. These beasts rampage through the safe zone — setting off chaos but harming no-one. They soon inhabit a nearby section of the outlands. A new quest item appears on the local quest board — Recapture the Magical Beasts. You gain a degree of infamy for setting the beasts free.
  7. You perform like a virtuoso in your chosen hobby. You do so well you earn the enmity of a jealous BSO game designer. The designer sends a fearsome monster with a CR equal to your average party level +1 to stalk your party once you leave the safe zone (chosen by the GM). If your party defeats the monster, it drops an item with a level of rarity determined by your tier (Tier 1 – common, Tier 2 – uncommon, Tier 3 – rare, Tier 4 – very rare).
  8. Your mediocre showing causes you to grow bored with your hobby. You cannot use your hobby and must use an Inn for your next rest.
  9. Your skill at your hobby causes you to gain a secret admirer who sends you flowers. Unfortunately, the flowers give you an allergic reaction that causes you to roll all initiative checks with disadvantage until your next long rest.
  10. Rambunctious teen gamers get ahold of your special hobby tools and keep them for ransom. It takes you 8 hours of game time before you learn the location of your hobby tools. Once you do, the teen gamers demand you succeed on a DC 15+ your character tier Performance Check to compose them a jaunty tune on the spot. If you fail, they demand you spend 25 gold to buy them enough fine foods and other entertainments to make them forget their ringing ears.

D10 Special Event

  1. You perform your hobby in such a satisfying manner that the place where you performed it takes on a magical aura of solace. This place now grants the benefits of an inn for both you and your party members for the next 3 rests without expense and taking only half the usual time.
  2. Your hobby enamors you to the local Quest Giver. The next quest you take part in awards you and your party an additional 10 percent experience.
  3. Your hobby earns you and your party an audience with a hometown’s lord. You gain the benefits of a long rest when you take this audience as the lord showers you with food and drink. In addition, the lord gives you gifts worth 100 gold per party tier.
  4. Your hobby results in the discovery of a treasure map that coincides with the next quest you undertake. If you follow the map, you discover one additional treasure hoard.
  5. Your hobby attracts the attention of a powerful boss monster. The monster sends its minions to spy on your actions and report back for its entertainment. This activity reveals the boss monster’s location in the dungeon by alerting PC information finders. The location is now marked on your player map. Your knowledge grants your party advantage on initiative rolls when you fight the boss monster.
  6. Your hobby results in you discovering a ghost story. The ghost story is actually that of rogue AI who’s broken out of the death game system. This rogue AI now creates its own safe zone in the outlands with special healing properties. Parties who pass through this zone and hear the rogue AI’s singing may gain the benefit of a short rest and have all conditions removed if they spend an hour there or if they consume a ration while in the zone. Once you trigger this special event, it is used up (roll again).
  7. Your hobby gains you friendship with a magic item crafter who offers you 20 percent off the price on your first purchase of their wares.
  8. You gain a special food as a result of your hobby. The special food has 20 portions and does not spoil. It is also delectable. When you or an ally spend an action to eat a portion you gain the benefits of a healing potion and the lesser restoration spell combined. When you or an ally consume 5 portions (taking your actions over the course of at least one minute) you gain the benefits of a potion of greater healing and the greater restoration spell combined.
  9. Your hobby results in a secret benefactor you sends you and your allies on a special magical cruise that lasts 5 days. The cruise allows you to gain the benefits of a full rest as you party, play, and go on delightful excursions. When you return to adventuring, you also gain the benefits of a Heroes Feast.
  10. Your hobby results in the discovery or accidental crafting of a magical item. The item’s power is based on your tier (1 — uncommon, 2 — rare, 3 — very rare, 4 — legendary). Once you receive this item, you cannot do so again until the next tier (roll again). This item usually has some relationship to your hobby. Your GM chooses the item.

Wisdom of the Ages

As a retiree, you’ve learned a bit of everything. Your life experience grants you a wellspring of knowledge and survival acumen that you can tap in your career as an adventurer. Choose three Skills that you’re not trained in. You gain half your proficiency bonus (rounded down, minimum of 1) in these skills. Alternatively, you can pick one non-proficient Skill and one non-proficient Saving Throw to gain this benefit. You can change your selection of which Skills or Saving Throw you choose for Wisdom of the Ages after each long rest.


Whether a precocious middle schooler who’s a newbie, a high schooler who loves to game, or a college student who blows off steam through gaming in between classes and exams, your time IRL was mainly spent in studies at a public or private academic institution before you were trapped in the death-game that is BSO. Both the academic environment and the student culture you came from was vital and ever-changing. Your identity within this culture was recognizable. Perhaps you looked forward to a bright future or struggled emotionally as you tried to figure out your place in the world. Maybe you’re an academic virtuoso with stellar grades, a student athlete with promise in your chosen sport, a mysterious loner, or an under-achiever who drifts through youth basking in various entertainments. Regardless, you’re young, plugged into popular culture, tend to be willing to take risks, and you’re well-connected to emerging tech trends. Your flexibility, newness, and ability to rapidly adapt to changing situations gives you some serious advantages in the BSO environment. Older, more experienced players may call you a punk. But you’re gonna surprise them in about a hundred different ways.

Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, and Stealth.

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search, and one of the following — board, dice or card game proficiency, musical instrument proficiency, land vehicles proficiency

Language Proficiencies: One in-game language of your choice.

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, one Game Set (chess, cards, dice etc) or musical instrument, 10 rations, Backpack, 1 gold.

Amazing Adaptability

As a student, you’re a generalist. You’re also a quick learner with promise and flexibility. In game, this manifests as the ability to change your character statistics more easily than other players. You gain a special retraining tab in your Main Menu. This tab gives you the following option — once per tier you may retrain one feat, ability score, class or subclass choice without paying the retrain fee or spending time with a trainer. Once you use this retrain option, you cannot do so again until the next tier — for a maximum of four total uses through level 20. Yeah, you really are full of surprises. Actually, you’re an annoying badass…

Surprising Resiliency

When the chips are down, when you take critical wounds in-game, you are more likely to bounce back. If you’re reduced to 0 hit points and have failed two death saves, you now roll with advantage on your final death save. In addition, if a monster or PKer hits you with an attack while you’re at 0 hit points — roll a d20. If you roll a 20, the monster or PK hit does not count as an automatic death save failure.


Well established as an academic professional, in IRL, you’re a teacher of some variety. Whether an instructor at an elementary school or a professor at a major university, you possess a special talent for learning and passing on learning to others. In Battlestorm Online — a world populated by gamers of every stripe, your talent for gathering information and passing that information on to others is useful in a number of ways. Though no established institutions of learning exist in BSO’s virtual environment as they do IRL, information and training are highly sought-after. You are thus likely to find yourself in very high demand. Old students return to you seeking knowledge and word gets out among the gaming community that you’re both a great source for info and good at teaching various useful skills in your area of expertise. Whether this unexpected up-shot of being trapped in a virtual death-game surprises or annoys is entirely up to you.

Skills: One of your choice from History and Nature, plus one of your choice from Arcana, and Religion

Tool Proficiencies: Main Menu, Directory Search

Languages: Two in-game languages of your choice.

Equipment: Robes or other Instructor Regalia, a special Teacher’s Hat of some variety such as a Witch’s Hat (this is a common magic item that allows you to immediately recall the name of any person, creature or former student you meet in-game no matter how brief or obscure your previous contact), a Writer’s Kit, a Book of Lore in your chosen subject of expertise, a pouch containing 10 gold.

Expert Researcher

Even if you don’t have information readily available at your fingertips, you know how to find it. Your association with other academics and experts in-game, your understanding of research methods, and your quick ability to access in-game information resources gives you the opportunity to track down and unearth lore of all kinds.

In-Game Trainer

Your ability to teach affords you with the opportunity to train others in-game. If a player-character needs to retrain to a skill, feat, class, or subclass that your possess, you may provide them with that training at half the usual cost. You may also farm out your talents as an instructor to other players in game and take half the retraining fee as your payment for providing this service. You gain a special Trainer tab in your Game Menu which lights up when training has been requested. You may take the time to train other players once per tier for a maximum of four uses.

Student-Teacher Network

Either you’ve got some students and fellow academics in-game who knew you IRL and talk you up, or your reputation as a lore-master and instructor quickly spreads. In any case, you have access to a wide-ranging student and teacher network that forms one of the more vital communities in-game. This provides you with opportunities to forge new alliances, grow your guild, train other players, or simply participate in or host various cosy and informal gatherings. As an upshot, you also generally know where the best coffee and tea houses happen to be in any given hometown.


However tragedy struck, you are now confined to a hospital bed. A victim of deadly illness or a terminal degenerative condition, your time left in real life is measured in mere weeks and months. To you, the virtual game environment is a solace and escape from the grim realities of a vicious world. By comparison, the portrayed mortality of most games seems quaint or even comforting to you. Now trapped in a virtual death-game, your situation, though far more dire, lacks the same urgency felt by other gamers. Strangely, in this game, your life has deeper meaning. You aren’t confined to your hospital bed. Here you can escape the role of a victim of vicious circumstance, save lives, make a major difference, and instead play the role of a heroic badass. Right up to the very end.

Skills: Intimidate, and one from Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth, Survival, and Perception

Tool Proficiencies: Game Menu, Directory Search.

Languages: One in game language of your choice.

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Backpack, 10 rations, a pouch containing 30 gold.

For Me, Death No Longer Holds Terror

Your life will almost certainly end soon and you’ve already dealt with many terrible traumas. As a result, things that would typically terrify most people seem mundane to you. Intimidate checks targeting you are made with disadvantage. In addition, you make saving throws against fear spells, effects, and powers at advantage.

Infectious Confidence

The troubles of you’ve experienced have gifted you with an infectious, even reckless sense of confidence. It’s strange, now with death so close, that it becomes all the sweeter to share the fruits of victory with those who battle and risk their lives beside you. Whenever you are awarded inspiration, one party member of your choice also gains inspiration.


You served or presently serve in a national armed forces. You may be an army soldier, a sailor aboard a naval vessel at sea, a supply sergeant, or even a fighter pilot. Or you may be enjoying the fruits of an early retirement. Whatever the case, your military training and understanding of combat environments is well beyond that of normal members of society. Somehow, you ended up longing into BSO during its launch and got trapped in the virtual death game. Perhaps your skills as a military member came in handy then. Perhaps you knew exactly what to do, took command of the situation, and immediately formed an effective combat team to fight your way through the trouble. Or perhaps you suffer from PTSD following a terrible battle or training incident and when TSHTF you froze — unable to respond for days or weeks. Whatever the case, you’ve come to terms with your situation now and you’ve dedicated yourself to fighting on the front lines.

Skills: Survival and Perception or Stealth

Tool Proficiencies: Land Vehicles, Water Vehicles, Air Vehicles, Main Menu

Languages: One in-game language

Equipment: Traveler’s Clothes, Backpack, Caltrops, 50 feet of Silk Rope, Grappling Hook, Manacles, Belt, Scabbard, Quiver, one Healing Potion, pouch containing 10 gold

Map Threat Indicator

You gain a new map icon that indicates the present threat of attack. The indicator shows either green (low threat), yellow (moderate threat), or red (high threat). In addition, if the enemy is about to attack, the indicator will flash red once the attacking force is 6 seconds away. This indicator can be set to appear on your heads up display. It gives you a general notion of how likely and imminent a new attack from monsters or PKers may be. It does not, however, tell you who or what is about to attack. When you move through the outlands or a dungeon environment, this threat indicator prevents you or your party from becoming surprised. In a safe zone, the indicator should almost always read green. However, if someone is about to challenge you to a duel in a safe zone, the indicator will flash yellow. How the system admins know all this is a mystery to you. Why they gave you this special tool is equally mysterious. Perhaps they know you were career military IRL…

Commands, Battle Maneuvers, and Formations

Your command of the battlefield and superior situational awareness allow you to give your team members a special edge during combat. Once per long rest, you may make a special command on your turn as a free action — granting an ally one of the following benefits:

  1. Your ally ignores difficult terrain during their next move action.
  2. If your ally is flanked, attacks against them do not have advantage until the start of your next turn.
  3. One ally gains advantage on their next attack roll.
  4. One willing ally within 10 feet of you switches places with you on your turn as a free action. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks.
  5. One ally gains advantage on their next stealth check.
  6. One ally at zero hit points immediately makes a death saving throw with advantage.

Here we’ll conclude new player background offerings for Battlestorm Online. Overall, they pack a bit more of punch than typical backgrounds from the Player’s Handbook — coming closer to Strixhaven for mechanical effect and Wild Beyond the Witchlight for world impact effect. I hope you enjoy these IRL backgrounds which carry over various talents, skills and abilities into the BSO game!

If you’re looking for the player’s guide section for Battlestorm Online, you can find it here.

If you’re looking for other gaming related content you can find it in the Gaming Studio.

Future player content for BSO will likely include a section on guilds and possibly one describing new items. Our next Battlestorm Online post will reveal the initial set of tier 1 quests for the BSO Ragnarok campaign series.

Battlestorm Online — Player’s Guide

It is the early 2030s and the online gaming world is abuzz with excitement. A new breakthrough has enabled full dive participation in virtual games. The breakthrough, encapsulated by the novel brain-link hardware called Ghost Gear, fully projects the wearer’s senses into a virtual reality environment — allowing users to interact with computer-generated worlds at a level on par with real life.

You are one of these gamers. A person who, in real life, may be a student, an office worker, a scientist, a doctor, or a teacher. But on your time off, you’re a gamer. Whether casual or hard core, you are one of 10,000 people selected to participate in the world’s first full dive Dungeons and Dragons games. This rich virtual environment MMO — called Battlestorm Online — is set in the fantasy world of Valhalla. There, dangerous monsters inhabit unexplored wildlands and deadly, trap-filled dungeons — presenting an unrivaled challenge to players.

Battlestorm Online players begin in Midgard — the starting level of Valhalla. Map art is by Battlestorm Online co-creator Ted Burgess.

Players select avatars that access all the classic and well-loved features of Dungeons and Dragons. These include a plethora of fantasy races — elves, dwarves, half-elves, aasimar, humans, halflings, gnomes, tieflings, half-orcs, dragonborn, fairy and many more. Classes from fighters, rangers, rogues, paladins and monks to clerics, warlocks, sorcerers, wizards and artificers provide players with a vast array of sword and sorcery options.

These avatars then become the players’ personas as they dive into the virtual world of Valhalla to experience the magic of Dungeons and Dragons first-hand.

Rules For Character Creation

All players diving into Battlestorm Online’s virtual world of Valhalla start off as level 1 characters in their chosen Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons class. They build their attributes using the point buy rules and gain 27 points for character creation.

Source books included in Battlestorm’s virtual setting are: The Player’s Handbook, The Sword Coast Adventure Guide, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, Tasha’s Caldron Of Everything, Volo’s Guide to Monsters (Races), Mordenkeinan’s Tomb of Foes (Races), Wild Beyond the Witchlight (Races), Princes of the Apocalypse (Races, Spells), Dungeon Master’s Guide (Class Death Cleric). New official sources and spells may be added as the game progresses.

Though avatar/character alignment is determined by each player as a part of character creation, fighting other players outside of sanctioned duels will have special additional effects in Battlestorm online. Those who attack other players will see the crystal icon floating above their avatar’s head turn from green to orange. Consistently killing other players will turn avatar icons to red. Orange icons last for three days. Red Icons last for a variable period the first time, then for an indefinite period. In this way, the game developers have set up a separate ‘alignment’ system based on whether or not a character engages in player killing or PKing. This second system is thus a visible warning to other players.

All official backgrounds are available to Battlestorm Online players. In addition, the following custom backgrounds are provided as part of the source material (included in the backgrounds section) — celebrity gamer, professional, student, doctor, teacher, hacker, retiree, police officer, veteran, and influencer. In this way, you can decide to leverage your ‘in real life’ (IRL) knowledge as part of your player creation process.

In addition, the virtual environment of Battlestorm Online seamlessly leverages another set of your IRL knowledge as two new in-game tool skills. These are — Main Menu and Directory Search. These search and game learning skills can be used with your avatar’s Intelligence or Wisdom untrained. You can choose training in these tool skills as part of your background when appropriate.

Every Battlestorm Online player begins with a special new magic item — the Teleportation Crystal. You may use an action to activate your teleportation crystal to teleport to any known safe zone. Known safe zones are safe zones you have previously explored. You may also use your action to activate another player’s teleportation crystal if they are unconscious or incapacitated. In this instance, it teleports the players avatar to their default safe zone. This is usually a guild hall or a home town.

Home Towns and Guild Halls

Home towns are places where each player begins their experience in Battlestorm’s world of Valhalla. These starting points are cities roughly organized by race. They include:

The Holy City of Ashkelon, located on the west coast of Midgard and ruled by High King Artanis. Ashkelon is the home town to humans, hill dwarves, lightfoot halflings, and aasimar.

The Island City of Dinas Emrys ruled by majestic Myrddin — a golden dragon. It is the home town for dragonborn, high elves, rock gnomes, and aasimar.

The Merchant Port City of Mio Elysse ruled by a mysterious person of unknown background. Mio Elysse is home town to humans, half-orcs, tieflings, kenkus, goblins, and bugbears.

The Mountain Fastness of Niðavellir whose golden halls are ruled by the great King Sindri. This great fortress city is home town to mountain dwarves, drow, stout halflings, goliaths, and minotaurs.

Losaelfar, Realm of the Elves is ruled by Raejisa Nightbranch — a wood elf circle of the moon druid. It is home town to wood elves, forest gnomes, firbolg, and tabaxi.

Half elves are able to claim any of the above cities as a home town. Each home town provides quests, a trading post, hosts a large safe zone, houses numeous NPCs, and is a source of lodging and food.

Guild Halls can also be found or established in home towns. They are home bases specific to collections of players bound together in common purpose. Battlestorm Online players may form guilds with groups of four or more starting members. Establishing a guild unlocks a guild hall home-base that is a safe zone for players. Players determine what their guild hall looks like and decide the function of each guild hall room. Guilds can be expanded by inviting voluntary participation by new members. Guild rules are established by each individual guild. However, no guild can force players to remain in that guild, though they must invite a player and a player must accept the invitation to join. Guilds facilitate the sharing of treasure, information, training, and resources.

Player and Monster Hit Point Bars, Icons, and Statistics

Players diving into the Battlestorm Online environment can see all player and monster HP bars in-game. These take the shape of a bar wrapping around the upper left hand side of a player or monster avatar. As HP bars deplete they change in color from green to yellow to red. You can also see all players’ class and name icons by focusing your perception on the player’s avatar. If you are in a guild, you can see other guild member’s game statistics by using the game menu.

Removed and modified Spells and Items

To expand the fantasy feel of Battlestorm Online, to increase the game’s sense of danger and lethality, and to encourage overland exploration of Battlestorm’s rich environment, certain standard Dungeons and Dragons spells have been removed or modified. Teleport, Teleportation Circle, and Plane Shift have all been removed. Gate can only be used in Battlestorm for summoning. Raise Dead, Revivify, Reincarnate, Resurrection and True Resurrection have been removed. Wish — can’t be used for long range teleportation or raising the dead. Generally, magics enabling long range teleport other than to safe zones and raising the dead are taken out. This rule over-rides specific powers that would otherwise grant these options.

In addition the Cube of Force has been modified to take charge damage from hits with magical weapons and high damage attacks such as AOE spells and breath weapons. Meanwhile, the Helm of Teleportation is removed.

Sanctioned Player against Player Dueling

A new, special feature for Battlestorm Online is sanctioned duels between players within safe zones. These duels allow players to test their mettle against one another without risk of Pking — since you cannot die or have your hp bar reduced within a safe zone. A duel creates a minor exception to this rule that sets your hp bar potential loss to 1/2 your maximum hp value.

Duels must be agreed on by two players. Typically, one player sends a duel invite and the other accepts. Any other rules for the duel can be agreed upon by the two players before the duel commences. Once a duel is accepted, a one minute countdown timer starts. At the end of the countdown, the duel begins and each player rolls initiative.

The duel ends when one player reaches half hp, is incapacitated for more than one minute, or when one player surrenders. Damage taken during duels immediately heals after the duel.

No-one can be forced to duel against their will.

Players may engage in duels to test their strengths, for training, to settle grudges, or to settle a challenge. For example a player may ask to duel a guild master to earn the privilege of serving in an otherwise exclusive guild.

A Gaming Experience Like No Other

Battlestorm Online will provide a fantasy gaming experience like no other to the lucky first 10,000 players to enter the game. Since you are one of these chosen few, you will have the opportunity to take part in a world of legends which will fully engage all your senses. Your experience will be so real that you will think you have been transported to an actual alternate reality. So welcome! Grab your Ghost Gear and dive in! Wonderous adventure and terrible danger await!

(Want to choose a Background for a player in a Battlestorm Online game? You can find twelve new BSO backgrounds here.)

(Looking for other gaming related content? You can find it in the Gaming Studio.)

Gaming Studio — Contents

Fiction Writing Focus

Mostly, mostly…, Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop will feature various ongoing fiction writing projects. The primary focus, for now, is the Helkey saga. Over the medium-to-long term, this creative platform will broaden to include Luthiel’s Song (Which if you haven’t already noticed, is loosely tied to Helkey in a multiversal sense. Yes, we speak in multiversal here.). Other fiction projects — yet to be announced — may crop up.

Though this workshop’s center of gravity is fantastical writing, some serious RPG content is about to get boosted into orbit.

With Some Gaming Content Provided

“RPG content?” you ask, “Isn’t that nerd stuff?”

Well, I hate to break it to you — If you’re here, you’re already mainlining nerd in a big way…

In that vein, a brief confession I have to make is that I’m an avid RPG gamer. A confession that’s a lot easier to make now as it appears everyone has finally gotten hooked! Yes, finally! I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since the age of 5 or 6. Fourty-four years is a long time to wait for the friggin world to wake up. So, everyone, welcome to the party! At last! And for those still on the sidelines — you’re seriously missing out. Jump in! The water is the finest of fine!

These adventures, which I’m fortunate enough to share with an amazing and expanding group of friends, is a sandbox of the imagination for me. Like Narnia meets Aliens meets LOTR meets Ghost in the Shell… Yeah. That crazy-cool! A place where I can be free to test out characters, themes, ideas and share them with friends or take part in their own imaginary, world-building projects.

So for this workshop I’ll be cross-pollinating a number of my fictional stuffs with role playing game material. Already, I’ve added some of the campaign notes for a 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign I’ve recently run based on the Luthiel’s Song fantasy series.

Virtual Table Top Screen Shot From Blood of Oesha’s Big Finale

Links to the notes for this campaign (about to wrap up) — The Blood of Oesha — follow. In addition, I plan to write and run a modern 5e campaign based on the Helkey series in the future — perhaps starting within 6-12 months. Finally, I’m likely to start working on an original adventure series The Dominator written for character levels 12-20 in early 2022. Other work may include a character optimization blog or three, and some notes on how to be a not-adversarial Game Master.

Plus Streaming Dungeons and Dragons Games for Video Blogs and Twitch

Since many games are related to fictional works here, the platform will begin to feature live-streams and video blogs for the Dungeons and Dragons campaigns I run and play in. For starters, I’ll be sharing the end-phase of my Tomb of Annihilation (ToA) campaign group which will segue into The Dominator setup I have planned once ToA completes (if the PCs survive, of course). Later on, I’ll be streaming Ragnarok — a Dungeons and Dragons game set in a world I’m co-creating with my good friend Ted Burgess. This game world is a full-dive virtual MMO inspired by Sword Art Online where players are trapped by rigged VR gear — forced to battle monsters and complete quests in order to free themselves.

In my collaboration with Ted, I’ll also be playing in some of his featured games streaming on Twitch. These are Icewind Dale, the co-game for Ragnarok, and Rime of the Frostmaiden. So I hope to be posting mini blogs and video blogs for these games as well.

Finally, I’m looking to stream a Dungeons and Dragons Modern game based on Helkey. This game will involve characters who are playing a part in the larger Helkey conflict and thus contributing to the story we now see mostly from Myra, Beatrice and Mori’s point of view. I also hope to fictionalize and re-write the players’ story as a follow-on and in a standalone Helkey novel.

So lots and lots to look forward to!

You can find my Twitch account here:

Ted Burgess’s Twitch account is here:

What follows is a quick links guide/table of contents for the gaming related material posted to this blog:


Completed campaign run from levels 1-20 and set in the world of Luthiel’s Song.

Player Options

Introduction — Wind Cries, Forests Burn, Waters Rage, Oesha Bleeds

The campaign opens with mysterious supernatural events wracking the world. Meanwhile a strange wound has opened up in the land near the City of Romas.

The Blood of Oesha — Rules and Races

A comprehensive campaign reference describing rules changes and original races for Blood of Oesha.

Living in the Heartbeat of Nature — the Druids of Oesha

Rules alterations to 5e Moon Druids for The Blood of Oesha campaign world.

Keirin — Spirits of Light, Air and Storm that Slumber in Stone

Unique creature rules for the Keirin of Oesha.


A character optimization series focusing on the classic Dungeons and Dragons gish subtype.

Gish Optimized 1 — The Dexadin (Morgen Schnee as Ultimate Duelist)

A build guide for a highly mobile and deadly Dexterity-base Paladin.

Gish Optimized 2 — The Hexblade-Fighter (Raven Queen’s Herald)

A build guide for the Hexblade-Fighter.

Gish Optimized 3 — A Classic Fighter-Mage for 5e (Gaelya the Ghost)

A build guide for a powerful spell and sword-wielding combo in the form of a classic Fighter-Mage.

Gish Optimized 4 — The Big Bada Boom Cleric-Sorcerer (Merrin Valkire)

A build guide for a melee Tempest Cleric with a Sorcerer dip.

Gish Optimized 5 — The Draconic Battle Sorcerer, Glede of Gloaming

A comprehensive build guide for a melee capable sorcerer who also lays down some extremely powerful blasts.

Gish Optimized 6 — The Hellblade Barbarian Tank, Myra Helkey

A build guide for a Warlock tank that uses a one level dip in Barbarian combined with some non-concentration spells for great effect.

The Hexblade and Party Friendly Darkness With Summon Fey in D&D 5e

A supplement to the Gish Optimized 2 Raven Queen’s Herald build.

The Hexblade and Party Friendly Darkness With Hunger of Hadar in D&D 5e

A continued exploration of how to use darkness producing spells in a party-friendly way.

Tenser’s Transformation and Elven Accuracy on a Bladesinger in D&D 5e

An analysis exploring when to use and when not to use the powerful buff spell — Tenser’s Transformation.

Gish Optimized 7 — The Artificer-Bladesinger Switch Hitter

A complete guide to a Link-inspired Artificer-Bladesinger that has a strong focus on melee and ranged combat.


Video game logs, campaign notes, character profiles and other information about Dungeons and Dragons games I take part in as a player.

Battlestorm Online Valhalla — Livestream Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Play, Character Profiles, and Video Archive

The story thus far for Battlestorm Online Valhalla. Provides character profiles for present heroes and a video archive of played games.

Icewind Dale as Dungeons and Dragons

A fan-conversion of the Icewind Dale video game for Dungeons and Dragons play.

Rime of the Frostmaiden

(Ted Burgess as Dungeon Master) (Some Episodes Pending)

Homebrew Horrors For Icewind Dale (New Homebrew Monsters)

Homebrew 5e monsters based on the fan-converted 2e Icewind Dale video game by Beamdog.

The Skeletal Mage

A homebrew 5e Skeletal Mage.


A new campaign for characters level 12-20 based on a campaign I designed back in highschool and college. This campaign will transition from a presently ongoing Tomb of Annihilation game once/if the players successfully clear Acererak’s Tomb.

Player’s Options and Video Archive

The Dominator Campaign Chronicle and Video Archive

Discover Guy, Heruj, Lucious, Maaradeth and Tarron — the group of heroes destined to face off against the cruel designs of The Dominator.

Nether Realm of the Dominator Campaign Modules

Players discover The Dominator’s tyrannical web of power and abuse as they adventure through Kymbria, The Pit and the Nether Realm.

The Dominator Module 1 — Kymbria in Chains

Kymbria — A Land Abducted

The players enter the abducted fairy land of Kymbria. This module provides adventure hooks, story background, introduces the main heroes, villains, and the land of Kymbria. Included are two new unique monsters and two large combat encounters to start off this adventure series.

Mistfire’s Grove


Woodglen Monstary



A new Dungeons and Dragons campaign I’m co-running with Ted Burgess that launched on January 7th. Ted Burgess is livestreaming this game through his Twitch account to give a player’s perspective. The campaign takes place in a virtual reality megadungeon but creates lethal risk for the players.

Player’s Options and References

Battlestorm Online — Player’s Guide

Player’s Guide providing rules changes and options for characters in the Battlestorm Online campaign setting.

Battlestorm Online — In Real Life (IRL) Backgrounds

Fourteen new character backgrounds for Battlestorm Online players based on their real lives, personality and work prior to being trapped in a death game. Updates pending.

Battlestorm Online Ragnarok — Livestream Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Play, Character Profiles and Video Archive.

The story thus far for Battlestorm Online Ragnarök. Provides character profiles for present heroes and a video archive of played games.

Module 1: The Deep Dark of Svartalfheim

The first module of the Battlestorm Ragnarok campaign covering the layer of Midgard, its hometowns, and the new dangers presented by (spoiler alert) Yggdrasil’s coming breach into Svartalfheim.

Introduction and Adventure Summary

Campaign introduction and adventure summary for BSO Ragnarok. Introduction to The Deep Dark of Svartalfheim.

Ominous Signs Before the Breach Part 1

First Adventure Module in the Svartalfheim series.

Ominous Signs Before the Breach Part 2

Part two of the first Adventure Module in the Svartalfheim series.

Troubles Rise from Yggdrasil’s Roots Part 1

Part one of the second Adventure Module in the Svartalfheim series. In this module, 4-6 level 2 PCs explore Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors and face the deadly Shadow Maw.

Troubles Rise from Yggdrasil’s Roots Part 2

Part tow of the second Adventure Module in the Svartalfheim series. In this module, 4-6 level 2 PCs explore the Ramshackle House and the Chambers of Grief as they come to face CLOWNFORCE9 and Synthread.

How Ragnarok Begins — Triggering Destruction

Supplemental story and background information for Game Masters running the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim adventure series. This narrative describes how the events of Ragnarök commence in the Battlestorm Online campaign world.

Safe Zones Lost, Midgard Invaded

Pending… Part 1 publishing in 1-2 weeks.

The Mines of Svartalfheim


Doomshallow Lord of Svartalfheim


Midgard is Saved?


Module 2

BSO Ragnarok module for levels 6-10. Pending.

Module 3

BSO Ragnarok module for levels 11-15. Pending.

Module 4

BSO Ragnarok module for levels 16-20. Pending.

Hometowns and Safe Zones

Includes Hometown maps, notable NPCs, inns, markets, taverns, guild halls and some quest hooks. Will likely publish partially and then receive frequent updates.

Ashkelon (Midgard)


Nidavellir (Midgard)


Losaelfar (Midgard)


Mio Elysse (Midgard)


Dinas Emrys (Midgard)


Map Archive for Battlestorm Online Ragnarök



D20 Modern and alternate worlds content based on the Helkey modern fantasy series written on this blog. Pending (longer timeframe).

Player’s Options

New Dungeons and Dragons subclasses based on the Helkey series (longer timeframe).

Helkey Adventure Modules


Future Dungeons and Dragons games planned for the World of Oesha setting (longer timeframe).

Horror at Flowermountain Pass

Pending one-shot adventure that may evolve into a campaign (longer timeframe).

The Blood of Oesha — Rules and Races

The Blood of Oesha is a homebrew Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition Campaign. It is set in the fantasy world of Oesha, and based on the fictional series — Luthiel’s Song. Players and Game Masters need not have read Luthiel’s Song to take part in this FRPG. However, having read the series may allow opportunities for added depth, storytelling and character development.

The events of Blood of Oesha are not strictly Luthiel’s Song canon. They occur approximately 500 years prior to Luthiel’s birth and 500 years after Vlad Valkire’s death. That said, this game, as described in this blog, may include some hints and teasers related to the upcoming book — The Death of Winter. So gamers interested in the further events of the Luthiel’s Song series may receive a delightful hint of foreshadowing.

Other than described below, the Dungeons and Dragons rules set remains unaltered and the game can be played using the core materials for Fifth Edition. The Blood of Oesha homebrew game borrows a little from The Princes of The Apocalypse campaign and adventure sourcebook. So game masters may wish to have that setting available.


(Vyrl are one of the original races in The Blood of Oesha homebrew campaign. Image by Sandara Tang. Please help support her fantastic artwork.)

Ground Rules

As mentioned above, the core game rules are mostly unaltered. The exceptions are listed below. Readers will note that some of these rules (Shot Clock) fall under the typical definition of a House Rule. Other Game Masters may take or leave these rules as they see fit. The remaining rules are game balance and theme related (Grace and Defilement), so it is highly recommended that they remain.

Feats — The Blood of Oesha uses the optional feats rules provided in the Player’s Handbook with minor modifications. The first modification is that the Great Weapon Master feat is not allowed. The feat presents serious rules balance issues with regards to the Fighter class and its synergies with weapon style, multiple attacks, accuracy and magic items. It has thus been removed. The Sharpshooter feat has been modified such that optional attack penalty and damage bonus are reduced to -3 and +5 respectively. All other feats remain unaltered.

Point Buy — The game uses a modified version of the point buy system. 29 points are available for use. No single ability score can be set to higher than 16 prior to racial modifiers being added. This point buy system sets starting characters at a high capability with base attributes that are superior to their peers.

Grace and Defilement replaces Inspiration — Characters receive Grace points when role playing exceptionally well according to background traits, when acting in a heroic manner, when contributing to the story development, and when being exceptionally helpful to their peers. Grace points are removed for selfish, narcissistic, or base acts of evil and corruption. Negative Grace becomes a point of Defilement. A Game Master can use Defilement to impose Disadvantage on a single role. A Game Master can also use a high number of Defilement points to inflict a permanent alteration on a character. Use of certain items, including Ichor, generates Defilement. The particulars of these alterations described more in detail in the Defilement section to be further described in another post.

Movement still includes the shift action. As part of any move action a character or monster may shift 5 feet without provoking an attack of opportunity. This movement still provokes other special reactions as normal.

Shot Clock. Each character has approximately one minute to complete a turn in combat. If combat is running smoothly and swiftly, then the Shot Clock can be ignored. However, if a player spends excessive time quibbling, pouring over the rules, angling for advantage by arguing with the Game Master or otherwise dominating the time at table, then the Game Master will set a 60 second clock on the player’s turn. Failure to complete actions in that time will subsequently result in forfeiture of turns. Allowances will be made for new players who are honestly attempting to familiarize themselves with the rules.

Wyrd. In the World of Oesha, all magic comes from dreams. This concept does not mechanically impact the various classes. However, it does provide much more flexibility regarding color. Divine magic often comes from the dreams that result from a deep and abiding belief. Belief in and dreams of a god or an ideal grant magic, rather than the gods themselves. Though gods exist, they are simply ancient and powerful beings — some of whom are often uninterested in the worship they receive. Arcane magic comes either from the deep dreams of self or the world (sorcery), the Eversong (bard), or belief and dreams that ritual chanting and formula tap into magical forces (wizard). As a result of this distinction, the magic using classes have a bit more liberty in describing where their magic comes from and how they tapped into that power. For ultimately the source is the same — Wyrd which means the deep and powerful dreams.


Allowed traditional races for The Blood of Oesha campaign setting include Humans (Romas), Ithildar (High Elves), Valemar (Wood Elves), Halflings (Humans born small but raised by human society), Dwarves (Hill Dwarves only which are enclaves of small humans) and Changelings (as Half Elves but with a dark twist) all with stats identical or nearly identical to the typical Dungeons and Dragons races. Racial color and backgrounds, when they depart from traditional Dungeons and Dragons, are described below.

In addition, the following new races are added — Gruagach, Sith, Half Troll, Werewolf, and Vyrl.

Humans — this industrious and versatile race hails from a lost continent that sank into the Middle Sea long ago. Romas is the last enclave of a race that once built a thousand empires. Humans, though fast breeding, ambitious, talented and clever have fallen prey to a series of calamities. Currently, their numbers continue to be thinned by the Sith who have effectively isolated Romas and its out lands while continuing to spirit away human children and turn them into Changelings. Of all races, Humans are most destructive to the natural environment. They are also the most likely to fall into corruption and become undead after natural death. In the past, humans left vast wastelands in their wake and often attracted the influence of the denizens of The Black Moon Gorothoth. It is this inherently destructive nature that has likely led to their decline as well as a proliferation of enemies. Ironically, individual humans can be counted among some of the greatest heroes in history. A paradoxical contradiction that may well be their saving grace. Despite their isolation and continued decline, humans are still one of the most numerous, adaptable and widely varied races of Oesha. Two subsets of humans include Halflings and Dwarves.

Halflings — Halflings are humans born small. At first, only a few Halflings could be found among humans. However, during recent years, and as stress on the human population increased, more and more Halflings cropped up. Halflings are short, about 3 feet tall. They are often witty — making surprisingly good leaders and entertainers. And they possess a measure of good fortune that their taller fellows seem to lack. Often underestimated, Halflings can find themselves living out the lives of unfavored sons and daughters only to come out ahead as a surprise underdog. They have an innate talent for thievery, which can get them into trouble, but a good number also find fame as silver tongued bards or sorcerers with a talent for crafting Wyrd.

Dwarves — The bearded people, like Halflings, were born from human couplings. However, Dwarves posess some markedly different traits. Unlike Halflings, they can no longer breed with Humans. Nor do they find them in the least bit attractive. Dwarves hear the call of earth and hills and mountains and so inevitably leave their human parents in search of their own kind who have taken to constructing hilltop citadels or carving miniature cities into the sides and hearts of mountains. They are both clever farmers and artisans. Their respect for the earth means they have very little harmful impact to the land around them and they often find friends among the elves. They are masters of cold forging and of crafting stone and jewelry without the use of heat. Having learned the Elfin runes, they have made a derivative magic that is based in the dreams of depths, of great natural caverns and of growing things. Dwarves and trolls are, strangely, compatible. The offspring of these couplings are the mighty Half Trolls.

Ithildar or High Elves are a tall and proud race. Golden haired and clear eyed these immortals possess a racial memory going back to the first days of Oesha. They are friends of the Arhda — the angelic spirits of Oesha — and many whom humans would call gods were companions to the eldest Ithildar of the first days. Ithildar stand 6 to nearly seven feet tall. They are thin, graceful, quick and intelligent. They do not suffer the effects of age or death by disease ( mechanical change — immune to aging and disease). Their meditations do, however, include rich and powerful dreams ( mechanical change — meditation provides no benefit and Ithildar must ‘sleep’ for 8 hours like humans). In the region of Romas where this campaign is set Ithildar are few in number. However a few captains sail their living vessels to trade with the humans there and to gather news. So a player wishing to run an Ithildar could be a member of a ship’s compliment or even a traveler drawn to Romas by one of its many mysteries.

Valemar (Vale Elves) or Wood Elves hail from the lands surrounding the Vale of Mists. They are quick, cunning and very perceptive. Of all elves they are, perhaps the most adept at living in the beat of nature. They craft homes from trees (like their Sith, Ithildar and, sometimes, Gruagach cousins) but they also know the language of plants, beasts and growing things (mechanical change — empathic bond with plants and animals). They do not speak to them, per sey, so much as sense what animals and plants are thinking and feeling. Shorter than their Ithildar cousins, Valemar stand between 5 and a half and six and a half feet tall. Their skin is fair, though not the blanche shades of the Ithildar and their hair ranges from golden to orange to green and occasionally blue. Of late, Valemar have come to live in the Shadow of the Vyrl of the Vale of Mists. Of all elves, Valemar have the most potent blood — which Vyrl find desirable.

Changelings use the same base stat block as Half Elves. However, that’s where any resemblance ends. Changeling were kidnapped by Sith as human children. In the depths of the Dark Forest, fertility magics, blood sacrifices, and rites of changing are used to transform these abductees into fey beings. Possessing fading human traits and ever more prominent Sith like traits, they are branded Changelings by humans who thereafter view them with fear and suspicion. The Sith, in their dark way, treasure Changelings, considering them children and heaping both wealth and attention upon them. Changeling children are often pre-selected by their Sith parents. They are watched and often receive ‘visitations’ by forest spirits until the day they come of age. At that point they are whisked away to the Dark Forest, perhaps never to see their human relatives again. Changeling tend to be deeply conflicted souls. On the one hand, they feel sadness for the humanity and family they have lost. But they have also had a glorious and primal spirit awakened within them. They have been granted gifts of Wyrd and immortality and they have stood in awe of the mighty Gods — Elwin and Chromnos who rule over the great Dark Forest. Changeling posses powerful personalities and are among the most versatile of all races. Their human past allows them to relate to that unnatural race while at the same time living in the heartbeat of the primal wood. Upon reaching their one hundred and first birthday, Changeling complete their transformation and become full Sith.

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Gruagach — Flesh of wood and blood of sap, the Gruagach are a family of fey directly bound to the land. Hailing chiefly from the woodland realm of Ashiroth, they have, increasingly, fallen under the sway of Zalos. Ironically, Zalos has aided in the breaking of the Gruagach’s traditional bonds with the land — teaching these elves the more human-like living methods of cutting down trees, mining ores from the earth and burning every variety of fuel for heat, energy and light. Ashiroth is not, as yet, entirely ruined by Zalos’s influence. And there are many Gruagach who cling to the old ways. Tribes of these voluntary exiles have crossed the Drakken Spur Mountains to inhabit some of the wilder lands not under the influence of Romas or the The Dark Forest. Gruagach are wolf-riders and are thus tightly bonded to the branch of intelligent dire wolves known as Urkharim.

Ability Score Increase Your Constitution increases by 2 and your strength increases by 1.

Age Gruagach, unlike Ithildar, are not immortal. They do, however, live an exceedingly long span of years. Most Gruagach age only slowly, wrinkling like great and ancient trees. Most live about 800 years. But it is not unheard of for the most land-connected Gruagach to live to 1,500.

Alignment Gruagach are both tribal and loyal, tending toward Lawful and Neutral alignments.

Size Gruagach are stocky. They tend to stand between 5 and one half and six feet in height but often support strongly muscled frames.

Speed Gruagach are not as swift footed as their Valemar cousins. Often relying on their Lupine friends for added speed. Base land movement speed of 30 feet.

Flesh of Wood Unarmored Gruagach are still tough to hit, having a base armor class of 12 rather than 10. This base armor class does not stack with any armor worn, though it does stack with a shield.

Blood of Sap Gruagach are resilient to bleeding and harm. Gruagach are immune to ongoing damage from non elemental wounds. If reduced to below zero hit points they use their proficiency bonus on any death or excessive damage saves. When resting, Gruagach gain one extra hit dice to use for recovery.

Darkvision Gruagach possess Darkvision out to 60 feet.

Dire Wolf Companion A Gruagach may start play with an Urkharim Dire Wolf animal companion.

Fire Vulnerability Gruagach flesh burns like wood. They are vulnerable to fire.

Languages Gruagach speak Common, Elfin, and Urkharim.

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Sith are the fey who inhabit the Dark Forest. They are lithe and quick possessing green skin, yellow eyes and hair that ranges from black to midnight blue. Among all Fey, they, perhaps possess the strongest personalities. Elder Sith are fearsome forces of nature not to be trifled with and even the younger breatheren — the recently changed — possess Wyrd lore well outside the kin of mortals. Like Ithildar, Sith are true immortals — suffering none of the ill effects of age or disease. They vary wildly in height ranging from 4 and a half feet to as tall as seven feet. Sith are among the most innately magical of the Fey. The power of dreams comes easily to them, even if these dreams are often dark and wild. It is also the Sith’s sacred trust to continue to expand the borders of the Dark Forest. They worship the great world tree Anaturnar and demand that any passing the boundaries of the Dark Forest offer up a sacrifice of blood and silver. The Sith then use this sacrifice to water Anaturnar’s roots from which all trees of the Dark Forest spring.

Ability Score Increase Your Dexterity increases by 2 and your Charisma increases by 1.

Age Sith are immortal suffering none of the ill effects of age. Elder Sith grow into primal spirits with a kinship to the vital elements of Oesha, with the life blood flowing through the world, or with the Wyrd itself. These volcanic spirits often serve or work among the Arhda of the world.

Alignment Sith tend toward Chaotic in alignment. However, they willingly serve Elwin, Chromnos, and the great world tree itself, setting aside their quixotic nature to aid these powers.

Size Sith’s size varies wildly from 4 and one half to seven feet tall. They are lithe, rangy, and light-boned.

Speed Sith move at 30 feet but are not inhibited by natural growth nor do they take a penalty to speed due to jumping and climbing.

Innate Magic At first level Sith can cast light, dancing lights, blade ward and minor illusion. At third level, they gain the ability to cast faerie fire once per long rest. At fifth level they can choose one of the following — cure wounds, speak with animals, or misty step — to cast once per long rest. If a Sith does not gain levels in a caster class, she is considered to be a level 1 caster.

Darkvision Sith can see out to 60 feet in pure darkness.

Sith Weapon  Proficiency All Sith gain weapon proficiency in Longsword, Longbow, Shortbow, and Scimitar.

Immune to Disease Sith do not suffer the ill effects of magical or non-magical contagions.

Bound by Word A Sith that states he or she will do something cannot go back on his or her word. A Sith who willingly attempts to break his or her word is subject to the effects of a geas until he or she completes the promised task.

Unnable to naturally reproduce A long time ago, Sith fell under a curse which rendered them unable to reproduce. They have since been stealing human children and subjecting them to the Changling creation ritual. All young Sith are now Changelings. Some Sith feel this child-theft is amoral. They are embarrassed at being forced to abduct the children of others to perpetuate their race and have foresworn the practice. These Foresworn quest for a means to break the curse under which all Sith have fallen.

Languages Sith speak Common and Elfin.

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Half-Troll are a result of the unions of dwarves and trolls. Of trolls, most have fallen under the curse of the Black Moon, Gorothoth. These must return behind the warding stones during times of daylight or be turned to stone themselves. However, a small group of trolls broke free from the Black Moon’s yoke and returned to their happy lives among the rocks, rivers and trees — far away from any of the powers. These Unbound sought their own way in the world and were, mostly, gentle giants — unless stoked to rage by abuse, enslavement or other ill treatment. When humans settled in Romas and their Dwarven off-spring took to the hills, the trolls approached them with gifts of water, wind, and the songs of the rocks themselves. The Dwarves saw them as kindred spirits and some fell in love with these gentle giants, forming families all their own. Half-Trolls are tall with gravelly skin, a stoic disposition and possess great physical strength and endurance. They have both the clever hands of their dwarven parents and the deep, abiding connection with earth and stone of their troll parents. Half Trolls can make mighty warriors but they also often find themselves dreaming the dreams of the world — feeling a deep connection to the frailest of things such as flower petals, dew drops, and butterflies.

Ability Score Increase Your Strength increases by 2 and your Constitution increases by 1.

Age Half Trolls live to be about 300 — after which point they go to rest in the hills, their bodies falling to stone with crystalline hearts.

Size Half Trolls are the largest of the humanoid races — usually towering 7 to 7 and one half feet in height.

Speed Half Trolls are able to lumber along at 30 feet.

Flesh of Stone Half Trolls add 1 to their armor class regardless of the variety of armor they use.

Living Earth Half Trolls gain one additional hit point per hit die.

Song of Stone A Half Troll can sing with a voice of the earth itself. This song has the effect of a calm emotions spell on friends, allies, and animals. A Half Troll singing in this way to a wild animal or hostile beast gains advantage on Persuasion and Handle Animal checks related to the creature. Song of Song can also be used to heal rifts in rock objects, acting as a mending spell. A Half Troll may use Song of Stone once per short rest. The effect has a duration of Concentration.

Vitality of Earth Half Trolls brought below zero hit points for the first time per short rest are instead reduced to 1 hit point.

Tool Proficiency Half Trolls are all proficient and wood carving and stone working tools. They know the Dwarven runes and the most skilled among them are adept at scribing these Wyrd signs into both weapons and tools.

Trusting Half Trolls have disadvantage on insight checks to tell if someone is lying to them.

Rage at Betrayal Any Half Troll finding out they are betrayed or lied to by another gains the benefit of expertise when using Athletics to pursue to grapple or to break objects and gains one extra weapon damage dice on each physical attack against the betrayer.

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Werewolf are typical humans transformed by Wyrd into great lupine beasts. These magical creatures are large and bestial. As they maintain their lupine form, their memory of being human slowly fades. Few know exactly how or why humans are transformed into wolves. Some believe that it is the very spirit of Oesha herself trying to reclaim her wayward children. Others blame the affliction on wolf-bites, but this is mostly known to be superstition. Still others believe that the great powers of the world have chosen humans who are fated to live out their lives as wolves. Sometimes, a werewolf will undergo a reverse transformation, to become human again. They do not age while in bestial form and so, can tend to become legends in their own right. Often forests and places that werewolves haunt bear the name of the creature. For example, Othalas of the Vale of Mists. Werewolves are solitary and will not suffer another of its kind in its territory. They are often protective of the wilderness lands they call home. And due to the fact that they are terrible predators all but the most fierce creatures give werewolf lands wide berth. A creature gifted with Wyrd and Wyrd lore may sense the vague form of a human nestled within the body of the werewolf. But to all others the werewolf is a giant magical beast. A terror to behold.

The Werewolf Othalas

(The Werewolf Othalas. Artwork by Sandara Tang.)

Ability Score Increase Your Strength increases by 2, your Constitution increases by 2, and your Dexterity increases by 1.

Age Werewolves do not age while in their bestial form.

Size Werewolves are large creatures. They have a reach of 2 and a space of 10.

Speed Werewolves move at a rate of 50 feet.

Darkvision Werewolves have darkvision out to 90 feet.

Bestial Form Werewolves take the form of giant wolves. In this form they gain the bite natural weapon attack with a base damage of 1d10 + strength or dexterity modifier (whichever is higher). Werewolves cannot wear normal humanoid armor or manipulate weapons or tools. Werewolves are unable to change form and are locked in giant beast form unless powerful magic transforms them back to human shape.

Keen Senses Werewolves are proficient in the Perception Skill and are considered to have expertise in that skill. The range of werewolf hearing is triple that of a typical human, sight is double that of a human, and sense of smell grants it both a tracking sense and the ability to target nearby invisible creatures (blindsight 20).

Devour Magical Items Werewolves can devour magical items to apply their properties as if they were worn or held. For example, a werewolf may devour a +1 dagger and apply the enchantment to their bite attack or a werewolf may devour a magical suit of +1 armor to apply the enchantment to their armor class. Only non-artifact items may be devoured in this way. Only up to five items may be devoured in total. The items are not considered destroyed and if the werewolf wishes to trade enchantments, they may vomit up an item to exchange.

Natural Armor Werewolves have an innate armor class of 13 + their dexterity modifier. They may wear barding but most are loath to — feeling that it confines them.

Toughness Werewolves start play with the toughness feat.

Regeneration Werewolves regenerate hit points at the rate of 1 per minute.

Silver Vulnerability Werewolves are vulnerable to silvered weapons. Hits by silvered weapons prevent regeneration until after the next short or long rest.

Class Limitations Werewolves are only able to advance in the Fighter (Champion, Battlemaster), Ranger, Barbarian, Rogue, and Monk classes. Werewolves of the Ranger class consider their eyes a magical focus and have no need of gestures or spell components instead howling in order to summon the Wyrd to their aid.

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Vyrl are ancient spirits of life who once fed on the dreams and nightmares of living creatures. They were cursed long ago by Gorthar Lord of Death and have, ever-after, been forced to feed on blood instead. This form of nourishment is not ideal to them. So simply feeding on the blood of animals will result in an eventual fall into madness. The blood of sentient creatures with a deep connection to the World of Dreams is most desirable and the mere presence of a creature powerful in dreams and Wyrd can be a heady intoxicant to Vyrl. Over time, the potency of their blood requirement has grown. During the period of this campaign, feeding on the blood of one humanoid creature equal to half its hit points is enough to keep a Vyrl from falling into a maddening hunger for one week. Half this amount from any fey creature or sorcerer, cleric, druid, bard, or wizard will do. Valemar elves’ blood potency is enough to support a Vyrl for four times the usual period. And the blood of one just come of age (15) is doubly potent again. Vyrl often seek to bond (see below) with a creature of potent blood. Such a bond results in obligations both on the part of the Vyrl and the blood bond. Being bonded to and fed on by a Vyrl can be a dangerous situation as the Vyrl sometimes lose control and seek to completely drain a creature of all its blood. However, as Vyrl often wield great influence and possess hoards of wealth, a bonded individual may see this as a risk worth taking. On very rare occasions one of potent blood may bond to multiple Vyrl. Such was the case with Vlad Valkire before his own father slew him. Vyrl are almost always lords of remote lands, vales, secluded forests. hillocks, seaside grottos, or mountain peaks. They possess an ability to compel the actions of others far outside that of any other race. Vyrl are also physically powerful, making mighty warriors and Paladins. Vyrl are very rare with any major settlement now only including a handful of often secreted individuals.

Ability Score Increase Your Strength increases by +2 and your Charisma increases by +2.

Age Vyrl are fallen Arhda and, as such, do not age or suffer the ill effects normal diseases. Vyrl, unlike Ithildar and Sith in their fallen state are vulnerable to magical diseases.

Size Vyrl are medium size ranging from 5 and one half to seven feet tall.

Speed Vyrl move at a rate of 30 feet.

Darkvision Vyrl see 60 feet in darkness.

Blood Drain A Vyrl gains a bite attack based on either its Strength or Dexterity. The attack does 1d4 damage and drains one point of Constitution from the target. The Vyrl regains hit points equal to the amount drained plus 5 for each point of Constitution devoured. If the Vyrl is at full hit points, the Vyrl gains half as many temporary hit points. Unlike usual temporary hit points, these hit points stack with other hit points gained by blood drain. The temporary hit points last until the next short rest. If these hit points are drained from a child (age 15 or under), a Valemar Elf, a sorcerer, a wizard, a cleric, a druid or a paladin the Vyrl adds two additional healing points or one additional temporary hit point. To initiate a blood drain attack, a Vyrl must lower his guard. Such attacks provoke an attack of opportunity from an unwilling target. If using blood drain to prevent madness, keep a tally of hit points to determine if the total is sufficient. A Vyrl may forgo Constitution drain from a willing opponent but must succeed in a Wisdom save (DC 10 for humans, DC 13 for Fey, DC 15 for Valemar and spellcasters, Spellcasters and Valemar above level 10 are DC 19). Lost Constitution points return at the rate of 1 per short rest and 2 per long rest.

Compulsion Vyrl are adept at commanding others. When using the Persuasion skill, a Vyrl may declare to compel. When doing so, he or she gains advantage on the roll. Alternatively, a Vyrl may impose disadvantage on one creature’s saving throw to resist a command, geas, charm or other compulsion related spell. Focusing its will on other creatures is taxing. A Vyrl may use this ability once every short or long rest.

Blood Bond Vyrl may form a bond with one creature who agrees to be its source of sustenance. Bonded creatures share the Vyrl’s thought’s and senses. They can communicate telepathically over the distance of many miles. And, by concentrating, they can see through one another’s eyes. In extreme situations a Vyrl may share hit points with a blood bonded creature by allowing it to drink the Vyrl’s blood. This requires a self inflicted wound equal to the hit points healed.

Madness Vyrl who do not receive the blood of a sentient creature once a week equal to the allotment above fall into madness. A Vyrl in this state becomes hyper-active but loses mental acuity. Vyrl gain a +2 bonus to Strength but suffer a -2 penalty to Intelligence and Wisdom. Vyrl in this state must make a saving throw equal to DC 10 +1 for each hour under the influence of madness. A failure means the Vyrl begins a blood hunt, seeking out the nearest sentient, dreaming creature to feed from. This saving throw occurs once every hour while under madness. When feeding on a sentient creature while under madness, a Vyrl suffers a -2 penalty to resist draining Constitution. During madness, a Vyrl’s senses are heightened and it is able to detect sentient creatures within a 100′ radius simply by closing its eyes and concentrating.

(Further Edits Pending)

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