Surprise, surprise, I’ve been playing in Heroforge to wind down from a busy day. I’ve no plans for these, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve said that and then ended up folding them into one of the games. In this instance I’ve made a tiefling investigator, and a tortle hermit, and had some fun trying out some new options.
Merriam Fellbane has a devilish influence somewhere in her bloodline, as evidenced by the cloven hooves, tail, and horns – not to mention the pointed ears and odd-looking eyes. Despite her family’s background, they are lawful members of their local community and well-regarded. Merriam has followed in her father’s hoofsteps and trained to be an investigator working with the local guards on cases that are more complicated than usual, or that need a quiet follow-up. A talented sorcerer with a few rogue skills tucked in her wrist guards, Merriam could well be a quiet thorn in unruly groups’ sides – or an ally if the path to bringing a villain to justice is obscure.
Fisher Rawk lives by the coast in a tidal cave, where he lives off the land. A druid by calling, he lives a quiet life preserving the wildlife and plantlife native to his area. Sometimes he has to warn off settlers from overusing an area. Sometimes he protects settlers from raiders from across or below the waves. His demeanour is wry and calm, and while not dismissive of civilisation his calling keeps him serving nature where he is rather than running after trouble for its own sake.
This map is the one I used for Sunday’s dragon attack as it was open spaced enough to allow some maneuvering on both sides and some options for cover as well. It’s a simple enough layout with a deep river ravine bisecting it in a roughly diagonal basis and a wide stone bridge to serve as a crossing point. A platform with the embers of a brazier is near one side – and I described it as being in a clear fire break either side of the river. Nonetheless there are still some trees and bushes, along with some scattered rocks. The lighting is meant to be overcast but still daytime.
It’s a simple battlemap, and served its purpose – for a future use I might rotate it ninety degrees – and you’re welcome to grab a copy for your own virtual tabletops. Its another Dungeon Alchemy map but there’s nothing fancy to it – sometimes you just need an open space to focus your players’ minds.
There’s an aspect of fantasy world storytelling that appeals that focuses on characters caught between two worlds or cultures – the idea of the halfbreed who may or may not be accepted by either of their species or cultures. Sometimes this leads them to dark places, sometimes to brighter places. They can be an allegory or not, depending on the whim of the author or the player (who may have picked their character traits for some trait that fitted their concept)
So with that in mind, here are two new NPCs I’ve modelled in HeroForge and toyed around with in DNDBeyond: Rufen Hagspawn and Arianna Hytheknot.
Rufen is a custom lineage involving trolls and hags as the concept – very much inspired by the current DDC adventures. He is a barbarian with distinctive broken ram’s horns sprouting from his brow, who appears brutish but is unexpectedly charismatic. He may not be schooled in the ways of civilisation, but he has an uncommon amount of common sense (or wisdom). Even so, that wisdom is largely concerned with where and when to swing the great axe he carries. He is largely shunned wherever he goes, but he has managed to bargain for a trinket that once per day allows him to disguise himself as a human or similarly sized individual. This allows him to access shops and taverns without automatically being chased out of town as a monstrous abomination.
Arianna is a tiefling druid who lives by the docks of a town, preserving the wildlife and plantlife at the interface between civilisation and the natural world. The rats and vermin act as her eye and ears as she sells charms to sailors and potions to housewives. On occasion she’ll be asked to patch up someone caught by footpads, or on the run from the watch – and she turns any coin from that towards making her corner of the world a little calmer and safer for the youngsters. The horns on her head may make for an arresting sight but she finds it a good way to test people by not mentioning it, and pretending to be completely unaware of them when questioned.
Both are good examples of border characters that live on the edges of society and who may well be living in shades of moral greyness. How they react to player characters may well depend on how they in turn are treated on first contact or in how the actions of the characters are reported to others.
Rufen is more of a lone wolf individual who might eke out a living as a hunter, or who might be a mercenary encountered with a bunch of bandits who use his hardiness and regenerative powers to break defences. Arianna is much more of a socialised individual who works within or on the fringes of a society – the docks which inspire her second name. A hythe is an an old english word for a dock, usually on a river – so a hytheknot may be what secures a rope from a boat as it rests in its mooring – or maybe there’s a more sinister aspect related to punishment for pirates.
As ever, feel free to download these PNG format graphics and use them for your own VTTs – and if you do, drop me a note and let me know what they get up to – or how else you’ve used them.
It would be rude to do the write-up of Sunday’s game and not put up the battlemap we used. The map shown here is a very much cut down version of the bigger map I’d put together of the whole Hold. That original map was generated using Dungeon Alchemist and exported as a jpeg before my then painting snow in with Photoshop Elements. Then the whole thing was imported into Roll20 and some animated spell effects used to simulate the portal (specifically Black Tentacles overlaid with a gaseous cloud)
The characters were placed anywhere they wanted to be within 20 foot or so of the entrance at the North. The snowy stone was treated as rough terrain with rolls to keep footing every time they moved. The grassed areas were easy to travers as it was only light snow. The entrance hall is where the beholder, mindflayers, and a gazer familiar were staged, and the portal was in the structure on the right of the map. The layout therefore gave lots of options for cover and breaking line of sight with opponents with trees, hedges, and ornamental objects.
This version is a relatively low-resolution image that nevertheless scaled well for the purposes of the VTT – just as well as the photoshopped version was nearly 30Mb in size due to my editing options and I had to drastically resize and compress the file.
Still, here we go – feel free to grab and use. I’ve made up a zip file with the original non-winter cut down map, this winter version, and the associated lighting and sizing text file so that you can import either or both versions to your Roll20 vtt – you’ll need to be running the Dungeon Alchemy API, import the graphic to the mmap layer and then copy and paste the contents of the text file into your Roll20 chat. That will resize the map and add lights for the torches on the map.
The DDC have been making friends recently as they look to build a militia to help reclaim Thorin’s home. They have been successful in reaching out to both the major groups in the area – the werewolves that have been brought into line by Karkanna, and the refugees who had taken shelter and fortified Flower Town. As part of my fleshing out the leading personalities in those two groups therefore, I’ve gone back to HeroForge to put some faces to the names.
Here then are Charis Amberley of Flower Town – a retired ranger who fought alongside Thorin during the Last War and helped organise the militias that they put together – and Ennis Amberhammer, a forge master of the Clan who specialises in making armour (and who is Thorin’s cousin)
Charis had organised the refugees and created defences so that they could defend against night-time raids by the daelkyr forces or their duergar allies – and it was he who first recognised Thorin when he appeared at the outer barricades. He brought the townsfolk round to listen and has proposed the beginnings of some strategies – but bringing him round to accepting the help of their cursed cousins was a hard sell.
Ennis is still battling to subdue the beast that the curse has unleashed, but he has enough control of himself to have begun organising the defences of the shrine within which Karkanna has made her lair. He is not a strategist, but he knows how to build solid bulwarks and will follow the Amberhammer heirs wherever they lead.
These tokens and portraits are available to freely download and use in your own online tabletops – the HeroForge website has some amazing options for making your own, and the subscription model is well worth looking at if you are running your own game just for the token making alone.
I said I’d get started, and so I did. In the Games and Gaming section, reachable from the menu at the top of the page, there are now links to maps suitable for use in virtual tabletops. Most are pretty bare to allow for variety in setting further props and furniture tokens, and are accompanied by notes for intended or past use.
The links to various past and present games are also there for delving into for ideas and narratives.