Today we are doing something a bit different. Much like most DMs I started to run games early on with having notes on what is in the room, keep, crypt, etc. and describing it. So today is a bit of an ode to those times where we have a rough idea of what is there, what we want in there and how we want it to play out
Today’s artwork was created in artbreeder, apparently they don’t just provide character portraits but have a, somewhat limited, selection of scenery or landscape art that you can tinker around with.
The light flitters through the thick canopy creating a dark mottling on the uneven forest ground. Moss, fungi and lychen cover the fallen branches and trees that create natural dense walls in the forest. A sudden burst of movement startles the party as something darted through a bush making some trees shake as it passed by with haste. The poor lighting, uneven slippery ground and natural walls of greenery make stalking prey feel more like being stalked.
It will be night time soon, the group should find a place to rest for the night where they can easily defend. Little do they know that the wyrdwood is home to not just game and the beast they stalk. Fouler and dark things have picked up their scent and they best be quick in finding a safe place to rest their weary bodies.
The players should feel uneasy when descibing this part of the forest, no straight line of sight, bushes and trunks of trees make it nearly impossible to see more than 30 feet in any direction unless they have made it to a clearing. But, clearings normally attract predators who know prey can be found in such places.
I would use the forest map at night, a dark place, low visibility, something perhaps stalking the party (or being stalked) can lead to some tough but exciting encounters where it’s not about how hard you can swing a sword, or just casting fireball – parties have to be smart and resourceful to survive a night in these woods.
The party after surving the night make their way to a platue where they have tracked the beast to several rocky outcrops that burst from the ground like the earths claws digging it’s way out from its eternal prison. The creature having left a trail of things it has feasted on appears to be in a cave at the base of one of these stony spires, the found stench of decay evident that this cave was home to something once before before it’s new resident evicted them.
The cave system is wider than most, about 10ft across and moving deeper than abotu 50ft the party find themselves cut off from the outside light. There is a presence here, cunning and calculating which the party are aware of. A bead of moisture hits the flickering torch that the party carry causing it to hiss too loudly for the enclosed space. As the party continue down the rough hewn walls of this cave fresher body parts of animals and what appears to be men and women can be found hung from spikes on the roof – the creature having a taste for softer meat once it has greened for some time it seems. A burst of wind from somewhere causes the torch to threaten to go out, and it’s then that the party hear the clack clack of talons approaching from the next bend.
Caves are hard to do without maps, I generally follow a formular for mine. A winding trail in, a larger cavern that could fit a few people comfortably and then a few branches from that room that go into smaller ‘rooms’ where the party would find grissly discoveries or perhaps the last will and testiment of an adventurer who knew they time amongst the sun and clouds was coming to an end.
Not having a map to refer to can cause the party members to become very aware of the surroundings. Instead of moving to a position on the map they now have to look for such a position by asking the DM. The DM needs to think on their feat, say yes or no and remember what they have said. Having a rough drawn map of what they plan to describe can help – or even a few dot points for each “room” or place you want the party to go to can make things easier, but improvisation breeds immersion – and it’s a muscle on the DMs character sheet where they get better with using it the more you use it.
I won’t keep people any longer today, I just wanted to say thank to those who use these thoughts or things I create here – if you like something you see, or don’t drop a comment and let me know about it.
Don’t forget that tabletop games are meant to be fun, if you are not having fun doing it then switch it up. Dont bring out the dwarven forge tiles (I wish!) or the grided dry erase board, describe what the paty see, explain it and work that creative muscle. Don’t forget to look for your spark this week and don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe