5acksberron: An Abomination Campaign

I've completed graduate school! That means it's time to play RPGs again and get really serious about running a big fancy game. It also means that I'm listening to an hour of Mike Duncan every day as I power through Revolutions during my 30 minute commute. Also, it's 2018, so the only game anyone will play is D&D 5e, but I plan to cram it full of any ACKS rules and concepts that'll fit.

So, with that in mind, here's my campaign premise: A game set in Eberron's Stormreach, based around hexcrawling the jungle. Some setting info:

Stormreach is a city-state that grew out of a pirate hideout. ~200 years ago, an admiral sent to capture the city lost the initial naval battle against the United Outlaw Fleet, but subsequently managed to ally with four pirate captains to stage a coup and the newly minted Five Stormlords signed a formal treaty with the empire to become a mostly autonomous client state. 

Stormreach is on the coast of Xen'Drik, the mysterious jungle continent. Ten thousand years ago, it was the jewel of the Giant's empire, but it exploded. Xen'Drik is full of Weird Magic and Ancient Artifacts. Xen'Drik is impossible to map and extremely dangerous. 

The main continent, Khorvaire, just wrapped up a world war that saw numerous secessions and new states, and the result is a dozen little kingdoms with tense relations that aren't quite willing to go to war. Also, there are a dozen powerful guilds called the Dragonmarked Houses (because their founders have hereditary supernatural powers that manifest as birthmarks) that function sort of like megacorporations. 

As a client city that continues to rise in wealth and military power while remaining socially archaic even as its theoretical 'masters' continue to decline in power and progress socially, a Stormreach revolution is inevitable. It remains to be seen what form this will take- A Stormlord secession? A PC-lead coup? A workers' rebellion? It remains to be seen whether it's 1765, 1789, 1795, or 1848.

Some conceits:

Expedition licenses to go into Xen'Drik and bring back rare goods are tightly controlled. The PCs, collectively, have one such license, making them one of only a dozen groups allowed to explore. This means that, prior to each expedition, requests and suggestions will accumulate with their secretary, allowing me to publish and update an ongoing list of possible objectives. 

The Xen'Drik jungle is highly sensitive to lunar movements, and is actually on a 23 day cycle. For 16 of those days, the jungle is attuned to the Plane of Beasts, and repels sapiance, reducing anyone caught inside to animal intellect. This is almost universally unpleasant, and those caught will immediately make for the nearest border. Every session represents a 1 week of expedition, plus a couple days any city-business that's worth roleplaying. Parties that don't wrap up the session with a successful return to town risk abandoning their gains as their stupid bodies slough off packs and walk away from wagons. Between every session is a downtime period. (PCs are aware of the results of these rules, although they're unaware of the precise causes and mechanics, at least until someone takes up astronomy)

Common knowledge states that Xen'drik is 'unmappable.' This is for two reasons.

First, Xen'Drik appears to be a continent, but it is actually an archipelago, with each 'island' existing as a semicoterminus demiplane.  The best way to visualize it is as a vertical dungeon, where each 'floor' is a 30-60 mile radius plane, and "stairs" are ancient ruins or magic portals that connect them. Thus, a party might set out from town, go to the Fire Shrine, enter Hot Xen'Drik through the furnace, then go to the Coal Factory and access Dark Xen'Drik. Every 'island' shares its external border- Those leaving Xen'Drik always find themselves on the same shore, so the party is never more than three days travel from the relative safety of the beach, which they can then follow back to town. 

Second, every island has constantly changing terrain. Hexes move according to a system, which varies from island to island. For example, the "Hub" plane (the one players always enter when arriving from Stormreach) rotates ~60 degrees every month. Clever PCs will probably figure this out pretty quickly, and I'm going to have fun thinking of interesting patterns for the rest of them. The main challenge for me is finding patterns that are easy to automate and don't require me to redraw 100 hexes every session. 

Xen'Drik is packed with Magical Item Components Occult Substances. Magic Item Component sounds sort of sterile, and reliable, like a spring or a gear. Occult Substances seem poorly defined, and a little untrustworthy. I'd like players to look at them the way I look at batteries, which is with the utmost certainty that if I forget I have this thing I'm going to accidentally break it and it's going to be full of acid that melts my flesh. This is an important decision because it opens up a few new kinds of play: First, easy access to naturalistic problem solving ("If the venom boils at room temperature, how do we keep it cool all the way home? We can't power a refrigerator in the jungle. Unless..."). Second, it provides a good inroad into an alternative progression system: Contacts. Just knowing someone who wants Fool's Bacon instantly transforms a trap into a puzzle. Third, champions of industry tend to be well connected, so if the PCs are suppling half the ambergris for the region,  they're going to be friends with perfumers, and perfumers probably get and give away invitations to the gala. 


i'm a fan of eberron so I'll be excited to see how you ACKsify it. if you happen to make a decent warforged, shifter, kalashtar, the artificer class, or a way to do dragonmarks, be sure to let us know!  Much like Dark Sun, every new mechanic will at some point be viewed through the "can i run Eberron with this?" lens.

Hello yes! Apologies- It isn't Sunday, but my art was delayed and then I had a date, the finale of my Dark Heresy campaign, and a work trip to throw me off. Here's some information on the city and its rulers, as well as fine art of said rulers: (they're done before the PCs because I had their descriptions written before the PCs did, so they went to the artist first)

I'm ACKSifying Eberron first and foremost merely in taking an OSR approach to campaign structure and themes. And probably in running Domains at War once the PCs amass enough influence to start a coup/revolution/secession/conquerin.'




Stormreach is best conceptualized as somewhere between a normal city with municipal districts, and a tight confederation of city-states that just happen to be directly adjacent. The Stormlords each control roughly one fifth of the city, and in fine feudal tradition are generally referred to by their domain name. 

(From east to west on the map, and from left to right in the image)

"Seaside District." Also called the Docks, Seaside is inhabited by those who scrape a living off of the sea. Dockworkers, fishermen, and sailors form the unwashed masses that are the backbone of Stormreach. This is where an adventurer goes to hire mule drivers, buy grain alcohol, get mugged, or find an urchin to convert into an apprentice.

Bort Zeestadt is Stormlord of Seaside. Stormlord Seaside and all of her heirs were killed in the short-lived 950 Omaren Rebellion (which would now be largely forgotten had it not been immortalized in popular opera Das Tauriges), leading to the importation of their Karnathi cousins. The third Seaside still approaches the administration of the docks with the plodding dedication to detail typical of Karnath, and wholly atypical of Stormreach.  Seaside is not driven.


"Stink Town" Officially but never verbally called "Rolandsburg," Stinktown sits between the harbor and the northern jungle and is the newest expansion of Stormreach. Where most of the city hides inside a single colossal megastructure, (sometimes called the Egg), Rolandsburg is built in the ruins of dozens of smaller structures (though still very large by human standards.) This is where alchemists, tanners, artificers, and wizards work with unique, unstable, or simply unpleasant materials that don't belong in the city proper. This is where an adventurer goes to hire an artificer, buy acid, get hired to retrieve fifty grams of ghost clippings, or find out what's going on with that weird growth on their arm.  

The Stormlord of Rolandsburg is one of the oldest warforged alive at almost 50 years of age. Built as one of the first 'specialist' warforged, "Old Ironass" quickly rejected servitude and began a series of aborted rebellions, kidnappings, and daring escapes that culminated with its arrival in Stormreach. Despite having no magical ability, it challenged Archmage Stormlord Rolandsburg to a duel to the death, which ended in a lasting friendship. Six years later, on her deathbed, the childless artificer declared the machine her heir. Ironass is driven by wild hubris.


"Wright's Barrow" There's no clear delineation between Seaside and Wrightsbarrow, but at some point as you move east the average citizen transitions from abject poverty to merely lower class, learns a semi-skilled trade, and fixes the holes in their house. Tailor and carpenters will accost newcomers and encourage them to leave all their possessions for repairs. This is where an adventurer comes to hire an armorer, buy a trebuchet, get sucked into the center of a bitter guild dispute, or find someone to teach them to drive a wagon.

Jebediah Coxley is Stormlord of Wrightsbarrow. The youngest stormlord, and youngest sibling, is direct descendant of the city-states (re)founder. Jebediah is mercurial, ambitituous, and has a fierce rivalry with House Cannith, whose manufacturing licensing laws are frequently violated in Wrightsbarrow. Wrightsburrow is driven by the belief that Stormreach is being robbed by the Twelve.


"Parchmill" The southern crust of the city is where great engines chew the jungle up and turn it into money and headaches. Exiled nobles, diplomats, tax collectors and prefects bustle between cafes, embassies, and printing presses. While mere salesmen to the north sell individual items, here the true merchants buy shiploads and bid for citywide contracts. This is where an adventurer comes to hire a lobbyist, buy ten thousand loaves of bread, get invited to dinner with a retired general, a philosopher, a failed explorer, and an amatuer surgeon, (and sometimes a second guest too!), or find out why it's illegal to sell fish during odd-numbered hours on certain streets.

Tristen Hel Chaste, Stormlord of Parchmill, is one of the last members of a tribe of dark elves once native to the Damned Shore. Parchmill possesses an aberrant dragonmark, and is subject to visions and prophecies. Intelligent, elegant, and reserved, Parchmill excels at her unofficial role as representative of Stormreach, and her expert diplomacy is largely responsible for preventing Stormreach's annexation during the Last War. Parchmill is driven by a sense of responsibility. 


"Towerkeep" At the easternmost edge of Parchmill, the city runs into and up the side of the superstructure. Here, encased in monstrously thick marble, each Stormlord maintains their own palace, as do the Twelve Houses and the Five Nations, forming an opulent little suburb where the truly rich and powerful can seclude themselves. This is where an adventurer comes only when summoned, at the culmination of their career.

Maria, Stormlord of Towerkeep, first appeared in the late 750s. According to legend, she was dredged up by fishermen, but commanded them to take up arms and help her seize a more appropriate vessel. One of the founding stormlords, her physical nature remains a mystery, but her personal quirks are well known: She is slow to rouse, preferring to stay isolated in Towerkeep, but when drawn out enacts brutal, quick solutions. Towerkeep is driven by unknown forces.

I have extemely high hopes for my Stormlords, but I know they have a very careful tightrope to walk: Between their morality and their competence, they should be flawed enough that players feel comfortable making enemies of them, but not so flawed as to be worthless as allies. I'm also working on a cast of "representative" NPCs that'll act as faction pieces that the PCs can interact with prior to accumulating enough status to be regularly conversing with rulers. I'll post their roles/bios when their art is done, after the PCs. 
I've been struggling to figure out how I actually want to generate the maps of Xen'Drik and maintain a shifting atlas. I think I've hit upon the answer, and hopefully this weekend I'll have time to put it into practice. It's a solution I've long dreaded, and never had to resort to before: Craft. Here's my process:
1. Get some giant hexagons, each representing one demiplane, with smaller hexes drawn to represent 1-6 miles (I still haven't locked down on a scale)
2. Sketch diagrams on the hexes, showing how terrain moves around within this particular demiplane.
3. Get some number tokens (poker chips with 1-100 glued to them?) so that each map-hex has a corresponding number-token. 
4. Between sessions, move the numbers around as per the diagrams. 
If I want to move multiple hexes in formation (IE: 6, 36, and 12 all travel in a pack as sort of a tectonic plates kind of effect) then I can cut out "plates" and put the number-tokens on them and use the plate to move all the appropriate tokens together. I think this is going to be the easiest way to manage this. I still haven't quite decided how I want interdemiplanar travel to work; one of my design goals is that it be capable of happening accidentally (it's really hard to figure out the rules when you unknowningly step into an area with different rules), but another of my design goals is that I be able to say to my players "You've figured out where the entrance to Spider Island is, now figure out how to get through it!" 
I think I'll be discarding ACKS standard advice about the frequency of various terrain features to some degree in favor of a post I saw on one of my favorite OSR blogs recently which suggested using ACKS standard dungeon advice as far as the percent that should have inanimate obstacles ("Traps" in a dungeon, canyons and quicksand in the wilderness), interesting features, treasure, and soforth. 
To really emphasize the exploration phase, I'm contemplating designing a neo-school XP system, something like "10 xp to level, 1 XP per five hexes explored, 3 XP for fulfilling a Major Contract, 2 XP for finding the biggest pile of treasure in a dungeon" kinda thing. 
I need to figure out what I want to do with hirelings and henches.  I want the players to become business owners, but I'd like to keep the actual adventuring party small and elegant, rather than bulging into what was functionally 28 PCs like my last game. I think this is going to be another tightrope- I'll inevitably have one player who wants to have eight best friends with detailed backstories who needs to be reigned in and toned down before I die from overwork, but without going so far as to make underlings as dull and mechanical as a rent check. 

If you do change the experience point system, I reccomend keeping the thing where each new level requires twice as much experience points as the last. It provides a way for recently-replaced PCs to catch up with their party members while still being a reasonable penalty.

 saw on one of my favorite OSR blogs recently which suggested using ACKS standard dungeon advice as far as the percent that should have inanimate obstacles ("Traps" in a dungeon, canyons and quicksand in the wilderness), interesting features, treasure, and soforth. 

Do you happen to know where you read this? Sounds like a cool article. We published something akin to it in Axioms.

Found it!


Ah the Wandering Gamist, ACKS blogger of excellence award winner! (heh)

Thank you :-)

After trying other xp systems, including story/plot completion awards I've always come back to the original xp of ACKs and 1st edition.  It promotes emergent game play, alternatives to combat, and rewards exploration.  The system really connects with how our brains are hard wired.  

Also - a single xp advancement chart, although elegant, removes part of old school balancing between classes. Maybe add +1 for assassins/explorers, +2 for clerics, + 3 for fighters, + 4 for barbarians/mages, + 5 to elves or (warforged) multiclass like classes. Or maybe a little flatter curve ranging from +1 to + 3

Odd, I had another worldbuilding/prep post that doesn't seem to have ever materialized. I'll have to recreate and repost it later. 


Val'Shar, Dragonborn Cultist
Zu (Grummush), Changeling Swashbuckler(preferred form: Half-orc)
Maybelline Talenta, Halfling Ranger
Urzon Rahm, Warforged Cleric. 

Events: The party arrive at their headquarters, and discover it is their headquarters. The steward introduces himself as 'scruffy' and explains that, legally, they're caretakers of a city office, and he serves the stormlords directly and is paid by such, and has limited services he can perform. He will also do pretty much anything else they ask, because he's pretty easygoing, but he wants to be clear that he doesn't have to run errands. He gives them a short list of possible objectives- A bounty on Mushroom Men, a missing book of lore from the alchemists guild, a stray cat, and some supplies the office needs. The party decided to start with the book, but unbeknownst to them, the owner is a corpse in the jungle in one of the "empty rooms with treasure" that came up when I was randomly generating it. So they broke into and searched his house, talked to his neighbors, talked to his guildmembers, and concluded, correctly, that he'd left to do some kind of experiment and hadn't returned, and his servants had taken most of his stuff. They did not take the logical next step of talking to his servants to see if they knew more, which would've gotten them the location of his body. (Or at least a clue.) Their thorough search did get a couple throwing discs off his roof, which the wizardry students next door had lost, so the party made a friend there. 

Next, they visited the poissoner's guild and inquired about the bounty on mushroom men, but the head chef made an offhand comment about warforged and the party exchanged insults, flipped a table, and stormed off, with both sides swearing to be lifelong enemies. 

The party also successfully located and rescued the countesses' cat, and then agreed to let 0th level adventuring party "Jemma's Lads" take credit for it, and then further agreed to buy them a set of chainmail in exchange for becoming very loose henchmen. I'm extremely proud of the party forf seeing their potential: Jemma's Lads are stupid and weak, but also polite and cheerful. The PCs, having just sworn vendetta against a fish shop, recognized that non-volatile is a superpower in adventuring circles. 

The party settled on "Hazard Pay Inc." for their official title and made a little sign. They resolved to set out into the jungle first thing tommorow! Given that we lost two hours to delays and technical issues, I'd say it was a pretty productive first session.  


If you do change the experience point system, I reccomend keeping the thing where each new level requires twice as much experience points as the last. It provides a way for recently-replaced PCs to catch up with their party members while still being a reasonable penalty.


I'm not really too worried about penalizing death. This party is, as I've mentioned, a mixture of centrists and storygamers (One of them used to be one of the main organizers of a WoW RP community), so the penalty for a PC dying is not getting to play that character. 

So, here are the ACKS concepts I'm importing into 5e, and the manifestations of such:

Henches: The party has six Hench slots. (I really don't have the energy to lock in for running 16-25 interesting NPCs, all of whom interact mostly with one PC.) Henches are invidivuals or groups that are interested in working for the PCs, but are not direct party members. They perform missions appropriate to their skillset for the PCs in an abstract, offscreen manner.(Committing to a 5e base makes having lots of actors on the map at once exhausting) They're generally employed to gather/spread mis/information, harvest renewable resources from cleared areas, guard valuables, assassinate rivals, and act as emmisaries. Henches use ACKS morale, hijinks, and pricing tables. (Groups of henchmen are treated as one hench for cost/morale purposes, because I think it makes sense to be able to hire "Brick and the Flagon Street Toughs" and be done with it, rather than model subhenches and hench trains.)

Here's what my simplified Wilderness Travel looks like. It's based on the standard party movement speed of 6 miles per day, but modified slightly. I'm not sure if I've actually simplified anything, but I definitely feel like this is more palatable to my players. I need to ease them into the OSR zone so I can run my all DaW game next year. 

6 AP per day
Encumberance: Party sums all capacity and weights. Below 50%, +1 AP. Above 75%, -1 AP. 
Movement: 1 AP to enter a hex. Difficult Terrain costs 2.
Non-foot: Wagons and horses require 3 AP to move through difficult terrain.
Exploration: 1 AP to explore an occupied hex.  This reveals the Landmark, and any Lairs, Dungeons, and other features that might be present.
Landmarks: Every hex has a unique identifier of some kind, whether that's a large abandoned house, an interesting rock formation, or a mass grave. When the party enters a previously-explored Hex, they always see the Landmark. Thus, even if Snakerock Cliff moves around within the world, once explored, the PCs will always recognize it as Snakerock Cliff and not just another mountain tile. No hex is "just" mountain tile. (Although Snakerock Cliff has no special features beyond having a rock formation that looks cool) 
Fortification: 6 AP to build a comfortable, fortified camp in an explored area. Camps are destroyed (or often occupied!) if a monster forms a lair in the hex. Will probably require a couple hundred GP and pounds of supplies.
Long Rests: A spell-restoring full night's sleep is only possible in a fortified camp, settlement, or spacious safe space.
Ranger: The 5e ranger has a class feature that says the party is never slowed by difficult terrain. That's...incredibly obnoxious. I'm offended both because I had big plans for terrain, but also because it's fundamentally boring. Clerics get to wreck undead 1/day- This rule is like if clerics just had a feature that said "Undead don't appear in this campaign."  I'm replacing it with "Traverse Wilds."
Traverse Wilds: 1/Day, you may commune with the ancestral spirits of the land itself and enter a state of supernatural naturalism, enabling you to find the safe path through even the most treacherous terrain. After announcing which hex you're entering, but prior to the DM announcing any special effects of that hex, you may declare Traverse Wilds. The Random Encounter Die is not rolled, most hazardous effects are ignored, and the hex costs 1 AP to enter regardless of terrain/wagon status. (Probably increases to either 2/day, or 2 hexes at a time)
Random Encounters: Every time the party enters a space, and before going to bed, roll 1d6. On a 1, they stumble on the Landmark for free. On a 5, they stumble on a Lair, or encounter a creature matching an adjacent hex's Lair, if either are present. On a 6, they have the next "Random" Encounter from the list. (I'm going to pre-roll random encounters so I have time to think about exactly who these goblins/lions are and where they're going and why they're so relaxed/angry)


Demand Modifiers: Every month, I'll roll randomly to adjust demand modifiers. The party will be alerted to about half the |3|s as people complain about the shortage of oil or revel in the abundance of cheap swords, possibly generating clients for their guild. The remaining |3|s and |2|s will be accessible via the party's contacts, henches, etc. 

Tonight I'm going to finish up a digital copy of the first main area and upload that along with the key.


Sorry I never got back to actually post that prep stuff! 

Tonight we had Session 2, where the party actually ventured into the jungle.  So here's MY map:


And here's the map the party made, complete with their path. 


On Day 1, the party successfully navigated a patch of rashvine, encountered some drow poachers, successfully conveyed that they were no threat, and shared lunch. They found a dragon miscarriage, leaving only a 400 lb copper egg, which they resolved to grab on their way back rather than carry through the jungle. Urzon, the party warforged, declared it was absolutely his. 

On Day 2, the party found the Bloodfly Hive, took some damage passing through the hex, and resolved not to explore it or ever visit again, thus depriving themselves of the opportunity to destroy the hive and aquire precious Blood Amber. They then proceeded to Yggdrasil, The World Tower, a 2-mile wide 700 mile high tower at the center of the island. They investigated it and found that it had large silver runes at the bottom, which the arcanists correctly deciphered as being door-generating runes that were currently non-functional as some of the silver was missing. They also did a bit of tricky thinking and correctly have theorized that the silver was fully looted, and then recently someone began replacing it to re-open the tower. While doing this, the first random encounter appeared: An Encounter From Nearby Lair! It's the Cranium Rats Controlling An Orc. The orc was behaving oddly, but the party was almost ready to let him go before Val, the Warlock, decided to communicate telepathically with the orc-trapped-inside-his-body, letting them know something was amiss. They shot a firebolt at his backpack and a couple dozen rats streamed out and away.

The orc, Brog Thundertree, thanked the party and promised to repay the debt. He also mentioned having seen the wizard the party is hunting roughly that way. The party camps near an Axebeak lair, but the dice say the birds aren't looking for trouble, and neither is the party. 

On Day 3, the party find the remains of Hester Primus Ludwig III, Wizard, although they don't know it. He decided to experiment with why everyone leaves Xen'Drik after a week by shackling himself to a tree and keeping a journal. Unfortunately, he was eaten by wild animals during the Impassable Time and his journal left in the rain. His library book remains safe in his waterproof pack. The party incorrectly assumes that he's the one repairing the tower, and also incorrectly assumes that this was murder, rather than a failed experiment, and attempt to track the servant, who left ASAP. 

That night, the Cranium Rats return with a Displacer Beast in tow (thanks, random encounter table) and the party has a short but intense fight until they realize the swarm is much more vulnerable than the beast. They manage to drive off their attackers in an inconclusive victory- I'm sure the rats will return to hautn them.

On Day 4, the party follows the tracks to the beach, and decides to take the beach path back to town, turn in the library book to the Alchemist's Guild, and take it easy for a few weeks until Xen'Drik opens again.  



PREP: I'm very proud of this random encounter table. It served me extremely well this session!

Random Encounter Table







Current Hex






Current Hex

Monstrous Humanoid




Carrying Treasure

Adjacent West (rerollfor N/S)






Adjacent East (Reroll for N/S)






Two away

Magical Beast










Mixed Company

How does that Random Encounter table work? Do you roll for each column?


How does that Random Encounter table work? Do you roll for each column?


Yep! So, for example, if the party enters a jungle hex and I roll 1-1-3-5-4-3 that'd mean an elite jungle humanoid (Which, according to my Jungle random encounter list, means a Drow Raider or an [anything] Poacher) that's out on a hunt, not for food or money, but because there's something that he absolutely needs to kill. I'm going to say it's a Drow who was shamed in a previous encounter, and now has to kill something impressive to return to society, which he's hoping will be the PCs, but if they say they know where to find a hydra...

"Mixed Company" means I roll a second random encounter, opening the possiblity for things like stumbling on kobolds riding ogres, wyverns being caged by orcs, that kind of thing, depending on how how compatible the two groups motives are types are. 





How does that Random Encounter table work? Do you roll for each column?




Yep! So, for example, if the party enters a jungle hex and I roll 1-1-3-5-4-3 that'd mean an elite jungle humanoid (Which, according to my Jungle random encounter list, means a Drow Raider or an [anything] Poacher) that's out on a hunt, not for food or money, but because there's something that he absolutely needs to kill. I'm going to say it's a Drow who was shamed in a previous encounter, and now has to kill something impressive to return to society, which he's hoping will be the PCs, but if they say they know where to find a hydra...

"Mixed Company" means I roll a second random encounter, opening the possiblity for things like stumbling on kobolds riding ogres, wyverns being caged by orcs, that kind of thing, depending on how how compatible the two groups motives are types are. 


Very cool.

Yah, I concur - neat system!

DOWNTIME UPDATE: Grumman and Val look for a freelance medium to interrogate Hester's skull. They find one in the form of Humility Ash, a retired Silver Flame paladin/assassin (although he doesn't advertise this.) He agrees to perform the ritual at a discount if they do some unspecified community service, which I'm sure will come up later. They then go carousing and generate some contacts and rumors. 

MY RUMOR SYSTEM: Every "rumor" is actually three rumors, each with a 1/3rd chance of being true. In this case however, I rolled five out of six to be true, so they just got a lot of free, real information about Stormreach, albiet information they don't 100% trust. 

Maybelline tries to do crimes, but fails her rolls miserably and is caught, but through some quick thinking, manages to get the rest of her heist-mates out safely. She spends two weeks in the stocks.

Urzon starts a congregation/cult to his goddess, and rolls a mild success, so he now has twelve followers who meet in a rented basement. 

The party reconvenes and picks up the list of possible contracts from scruffy. Of particular interest are a contract for a steady supply of axebeak feathers, three barrels of water from the gross bad lake, and a request to "eat my entire ass" from the chef they offended last time. The party steals his donkey on their way out of town, but resolve not to eat it, instead just hiding it until they can give it to the drow poachers as a token of goodwill (and possibly a step towards contracting them as full time axebeak hunters.) Urzon at this point suddenly succumbs to jungle rust and must sleep for a few days because his player had to an hour into the session. 

They head out of town and are surprised to find that the poacher camp is nowhere to be found! Instead, they find a Tortle village, full of intelligent but easygoing shelled humanoids. They also find the lake directly adjacent, so they buy some barrels and a cart from the tortles, load it, and progress back. They notice odd, stilt-like tracks around and in the lake, but decide they're not currently equipped to go diving in a poison lake to fight an unknown monster. They also notice some snow, which is out of place in the jungle. They return to town, drop off the cart so it doesn't burden them in the snow, and head in again at the start of day 2. This snow hex is actually part of level B, "Hills and Mushrooms" and they immediately land on both the Thin Ice hazard *and* they roll a random encounter of six ice imps, who win intiative and proceed to roll four crits, instantly knocking out Tavya (the ranger's Pterodon) and Val (the warlock.) For a moment, it looks like the six CR 1/2 ice mephits are going to utterly slaughter the party, but one of them casts Fog Cloud, which turns out to be a huge mistake. Grumman, after all, is a swashbuckler, and effortlessly slides around in the fog sneak attacking and withdrawing until they chase him, at which point he sneak attacks again. Maybeline successfully heals Val, who throws a Shatter onto the thin ice and generates a devastating amount of shrapnel before one of the mephits notices he is back up and puts him back down. Ultimately, it comes down to Grumman and a single mephit, neither able to land a clear hit and both one clear hit away from death, and two, three, four rounds go by like this before the changling makes cold kebabs of his opponent. 

Panicked, and unsure if he is going to be able to stabalize his friends, Grummun transforms into Roslyn, a common changeling archetype of care and healing, thus revealing to the group that he's the changeling for the first time! Val and Maybe recover the party takes stock of their sitatuion and mourns the loss of the pterodon.

The party realizes that the terrain around them has changed. They decide to backtrack, which actually sends them down a second rabbithole into Level C, "The Area That Is All Ice And Fire." They have excellent fortune though, and find nonmagical ice-mummies from an unlucky caravan with salvagable supplies. Naturally, falling a map level means the terrain around them changes again. Confused about inconsistent terrain, they head for the Tower, since they can see it in the distance and it's the only thing they recognize. The level C Tower has runes made of bronze and platinum. (If they repair the Tower at multiple levels, they'll be able to reliably go between them.) They also note that the tower has snowcapped peaks on one side, and volcanic peaks and magma flows on the other. They make camp and end the session. 



I'm really delighted with how this one went. The party encountered a lot of Xen'Drik weirdness. Escaping level C as level 3 PCs is going to be a grueling affair. The groupchat is buzzing with theories and discussion about what to do or expect with Expedition 3, assuming they make it back.