Saturday, June 30, 2018

Some Thoughts On The Bloody & Dangerous Old School Adventure Swamp With Monster Notes For Old School Campaigns

"How long have they been following us?!" Evin voice wavered in time to hot blasting swamp wind.
"Ten hours since we escaped that wretched temple" Ajax voice was weary after avoiding a lizard gator two hours back that took their hireling Mel down into the bracken waters. "We've got another mile or so to go before we get to our contact's boat Evin & I'm not going to end up in one of those lizard men bastard's stew pots."
"You've got a plan then?""Yes I do & it involves the last of the water proof alchemy explosive powder that we got from Hod The Limper that over priced alchemist of yours"
"You'd better let me in on more details of that plan of yours fast! "
The pair heard lizardmen foot falls now & the bastards weren't trying to hide their presence now. They were close now & the mud or muck wasn't slowing them down at all. They moved through it as if they were a monstrous part of the fetid landscape around the adventurers. They began to close the noose around the adventurers now ever so slowly. "

We got knocked off line for a 12 hours or so between last night & this morning. I've had some time to do a bit of thinking about swamps in my old school campaigns especially in B/X Dungeons & Dragons,  Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition, & Arduin. Bogs, swamps, & moors are the perfect place for trackless wilderness. They reek of the time long decay of things long past their prime & make challenging places for adventurers as well players.

Blackmoor, Greyhawk, & Arduin all have one very interesting advantage for the dungeon master. All of these campaign setting locations have suffered incredible magical devastation & these places are the prime areas for toxic magical poisoning. Ecological destruction by these occult forces are perfect excuses for magical monster infestation & mutant horrors. Adventurers might encounters the survivors of various former ancient city or dungeon locations. Trolls, swamp giants, basilisk, & all kings of giant creatures could encounter adventurers. Swamps, marshes, etc. are the perfect breeding ground for magical plagues, disease, & more. 

Blackmoor, Greyhawk, & Arduin have all suffered from massive magical disasters with rich dungeon pickings. Ruins are scattered across these campaign settings & relic hunting in these areas come with large sets of risks & investments by patrons for these types of expeditions.

This is a perfect setting to bring out some of the all time swamp & marsh classic old school monsters:
  1.  Bullywug tribes are the most dangerous monsters that player's PC's can encounter & yet the party might scattered the first scouting party to the four winds. The second group & so forth can start using pack tactics to harry & finish off adventurers easily. 
  2. Black Dragons are very, very, dangerous swamp dwellers who often have hordes of lizardmen worshiping them as gods. These tribes are often ones that adventurers must deal with & offer treasure to pass through their lands but what passes for treasure might surprise adventurers. Rare fish & other delicacies might be the order of the day. 
  3. Giant Crocodiles have been & are some of the best guardians for forgotten temples & other swamp based ruins. They are ruthless & efficient hunters of adventurers especially if they have divine guidance.  
  4. Swamp Hydras are incredibly dangerous & can tackle even the toughest of parties reducing them to dust easily & are some very underrated monsters in old school games. These are my go to guardians when players are expecting the Black Dragons to come into play. These are especially good around areas of former worship of forbidden gods.
  5. Shambling Mounds are the guardians of forbidden druidic groves deep in the swamp & the guardians of many kinds of natural wonders of the swamp. They have some very nasty dispositions & they regenerate as well. 
  6. Stirges swarms are the stuff of nightmares for adventurers are often used in conjunction with all kinds of former sites of cities & places cursed by the gods. Stirges can make short work of even experienced parties. 
  7. Lizardmen are the backbone of any swamp encounter & with good reason given the wide variety of tribes that are available across the old school & OSR. Arduin has a wide variety of options available to the enterprising dungeon master. 
  8. Will O Wisps have a long mythology that dungeon masters can use to enhance any swampland encounter. 
  9. Serpent Men are some of my all time favorites to stick into any swamp land encounter & they have that Lovecraft circle edge when dealing with adventurers! 
  10. The Arduin Octogorilla is my final enemy for the swamp & rarely known outside of certain circles of the OSR. These bastards are perfect monsters to stick a party of adventurers with!

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