Content of the article: "How would you run a woodland investigation?"
I'm a very experienced DM, but for whatever reason I've been having trouble putting the pieces together on this one. Maybe because I'm a city boy who knows little of woodsmanship.
My players are lords of a stronghold within a forest. That forest is plagued by Beastmen. The mission they have set for themselves is to kill the leader.
I don't want to just do some lame-o survival tracking checks and then "here's an encounter." I was thinking I'd like to set it up where there are a number of encounters that provide clues. These clues then allow them to solve the mystery of the shaman's location.
Here's what I've got so far:
- The Beastmen are kind of like Warhammer Beastmen, kind of like Wheel of Time trollocs.
- They are cannibals, and have a trial-by-combat (often fatal) hierarchy kind of deal.
- They are led by a Bray-Shaman. A mighty spellcaster, without this shaman as leader they will become completely disorganized
- They are very saavy woodsmen and skirmishers
- They are typically a spin on gnoll stat blocks, and number at 120 individuals
- Their base of operations is in a swamp far removed from this forest. They travel unseen between the two woods by way of Herdstones, which provide entry into the Worldroots: a system of passages in the Border Feywilds
- There is another Cult of Baphomet base set up in the ruins of an abbey on an island out in the ocean. It also has a Herdstone, but is not directly used by these Beastmen, being kind of its own thing.
- Some months ago, there was a large-scale three-way battle between the PCs+allies, Sir Pelliton's forces, and these Beastmen in the forest. In that battle an adult green dragon was killed, but the players left it too long and the Beastmen have since stripped its corpse.
- The adult dragon had two children in their lair, a young and a wyrmling, still alive.
- The woods are uncharted wilds and full of diverse monsters and wildlife.
- The players have a small regiment of 80 deepwood scouts, all half-elves. Since these are their only forces at the castle right now, they're on the defensive and don't range far from the castle. But their scouting can take the place of a hexcrawl.
- The PCs' expedition is planned to be a level 7 shadar-kai druid (Circle of Dreams), knightly hexblade, aasimar war mage, half-elf assassin rogue, urban gloom stalker, half-elf necromancy wizard, deepwood scout rogue — plus a squad of scout NPCs
- Rise of Tiamat: How to spice up standstill battle with Adult Green Dragon when party hides away in small hallways and rooms?
- Help Organizing the most horrific night ever for my players!
- A DM’s Perspective, playing a PC: being on the wrong side of an Unwinnable Battle
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