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[DM] Prep toolbox? New Tepest.

Time to run the new Ravenloft book! #gothmode #rpg campaign!

This is gonna be a “me typing as I think” kinda stream-of-consciousness post to help me motivate to prep!

I wanna throw together something quick and dirty and low-effort for some tier one play. The one that really grabbed me on first read through was the new Tepest, but I guess similar workflow issues are applicable to all of them.

OK so what would I normally need in order to run something like this?

Porte-Monstre-Trésor; I have treasure generator apps so that leaves:

1. Locations

2. Encounter tables

Both preferably including the new toys like the haunted traps and stuff from the new bestiary.

For locations, I’ve got plenty of maps come to think of it. I can use Dungeonmorphs or whip out an old Dyson map or just do a diagram dungeon a la Red Tide. We do theatre of the mind so just tossing out some rough node graphs is fine.

The problem is filling those locations with monsters. I’m one of those DMs with the hangup that all enemy stats should be prepped before play starts. Respect to those who have different play styles but that’s how we roll (and have for almost a decade now); open die rolls and without changing “№ appearing” or HP etc once play starts. In other words, it is against our table’s explicit social contract for me to try to balance fights on the fly, to go “hmm, I think I’ll throw, let me see, four orcs should be a good fight at them now”. Instead, the enemies need to be either on the map or on a rolltable before play starts. I’m not advocating for everyone to adopt that playstyle, but that’s how we’ve done it and how it’s well established among the players and me that I’ll run it. (Peeps familiar with the board game “Zendo” recognize it as having a similar philosophy.)

The second problem is encounter tables for the forests and mountains and caves.

Fixing that second problem will also help solve the first problem! Since if they venture into an unprepped dungeon I can just grab/generate any old random map but use encounter tables to populate them as we go.

OK so time to make encounter tables. I am super lazy so I want to grab something that already exist and spruce it up. XGE has encounter tables. Anything I don’t want on there? Naw, it looks fine. Anything I want to add onto them? Yeah! I wanted the Ravenloft specific stuff. So looking through p 226, some of these seem awesome but not all of them are a good fit for Tepest specifically. I want to be careful about including too many undead. Fungally infected people like in the “Adventures in Tepest” rolltable is a better fit for that niche, and “mud and brambles from which the transformed victimes of deadly magic rise” is awesome. Also I’ll stick to CR 1 through 4 since we are doing T1 play in this region.

Reading through the bestiary pages…

Enh, nothing too hot for T1 and this “nature and tradition is the enemy” The Lottery / Witherbloom style horror I’m going for here.

Let’s just put in Gremishka and Strigoi in the forest. I’ll put gremishka on (looking through the XGE list for least interesting) 02, 09, 41, 52 (that one actually really really really awesome, but, awakened trees has been such heavily featured in our previous campaign), 58 (ditto snakes), 60, 84, 00. I’ll stick a post-it in my XGE saying 02/09/41/52: gremishka, 58/60/84/00 strigoi.

I also, hmm, there are some areas which are meant to be fey areas. I don’t really have a good fey bestiary for 5e. Oh, donjon.bin.sh has a list!

There are 13 (for tier 1) so… I’ll sort by CR and roll d6+d8-1.

Juuust in case they happen to stroll in under Arak before I’ve prepped that area more. That’s all this is, btw: contingency plans so that I can be somewhat prepped no matter where they go. Chapter 4 stuff: those stress rules seem awful; let’s go with Danse Macrabre and Faceless Malice and write those down on a “list of elements” in case I later get time to flesh out some locations.

Uh, OK, so, so far, not much. Just reassuring myself that I have enough of an “enh, it’s OK” to wing it in case they go into weird areas like mountains and forests.

Now to zoom in a bit. I want to give some hints about the upcoming “festival” (and if they decide to dig into that primarily, or do other village exploration stuff, then that’s fine) but for starters, let’s offer them a choice between the first three entries on the Tepest Adventures list. Or I’ll just roll 1d3 I guess when they ask for rumors.

Fighting myconids, that’s a great starter. Not much to add to that. MM p 230.

Hermit character, heirloom, those are easy to do with rolltables I already have. Abandoned fortress + lake monster… let’s use a god damned plesiosaur—“when in doubt, be obvious”. Don’t be afraid of basic and cliché, leaning in to classics is cool. I can never predict what’s gonna be surprising to the players anyway. It’s all in the presentation. It’s a CR2. Let’s give it an extra head by combining it with a crocodile. It can act twice in a round (call it multiattack or w/e) and the extra head has 19 hp. For the abandonded fortress, let’s make it super easy as a reward for doging Avanc. Hmm… what type of enemies can be in there… I wanna go many eerily empty rooms, let’s put in a single swarm of bats in one of the early rooms, and then who has set up camp in the fortress… maybe a trio of hexbloods who have gone feral. Using goblin stats for them but with disguise self + hex spells as 1/lr each. Also place the Faceless Malice trap on the fortress map.

Looking for the child… let’s do three things with that. First of all, set up a basic cavern map with geomorphs. Nothing fancy. Jam that Danse Macabre trap in there. Second of all, add her to the encounter table. We had 13 entries earlier, d6+d8-1.We need to keep it to an odd number and something we can express with two dice (to get a truncated V), so add her in twice on the list so we can use d10+d6-1. Let’s say five checks is a good EV (while we wouldnt’t mind it taking many more or many fewer rolls than that), that means probability 20%, that means 7 or 8 on the check. Awesome. Third of all, let’s make her a super weirdo. Blue/orange morality. She is a changeling, basically, whom the shepherd petitioned Mother for.

That’s enough to start the campaign. Then if they wanna do more in this place, I’ll keep rolling 1d3 on the Tepest Adventures list. Maybe change to a full d10 once the setting gets a bit more fleshed out at our table.

Boom! We’re done for session one! Put a stamp on it and kiss it!

Thanks for reading along with my super-lazy prep talk!♥

Post cool stuff in the comments that we can use in this subsetting.


This is the map I dealt up for the Arak Hall.

The sinkhole down is in room 3.

Here is the encounter tables for down there. I flesh it out with notes.

1 Boggle    Small   Fey     CN  1/8 25  vgm 128
2 Blink Dog Medium  Fey     LG  1/4 50  mm 318
3 Pixie Tiny    Fey     NG  1/4 50  mm 253
4 Sprite    Tiny    Fey     NG  1/4 50  mm 283
5 Darkling  Small   Fey     CN  1/2 100 vgm 134
6 Satyr Medium  Fey     CN  1/2 100 mm 267
7-8 Missing Kid Gwendolin
9 Dryad Medium  Fey     N   1   200 mm 121
10 Quickling    Tiny    Fey     CE  1   200 vgm 187 They are in room "Z" on Z2
11 Darkling Elder   Medium  Fey     CN  2   450 vgm 134 Beathe. Has a store in room "2" on Z2.
12 Meenlock Small   Fey     NE  2   450 vgm 170
13 Sea Hag  Medium  Fey     CE  2   450 mm 179
14 Green Hag    Medium  Fey     NE  3   700 mm 177
15 Redcap   Small   Fey     CE  3   700 vgm 188

Also I wanna commit some NA now.

I’ve been using the rule “sum of CR = 2” (or slightly more if they are unlucky to run into a CR3 being) but I want it to be a little bit more swingy. That means dice. For CR 1/8, 4d8. For CR 1/4, 4d4, for CR 1/2, 2d4, for CR 1, 1d4, for CR 2 or 3, just 1.

Also this is the treasure hoard I rolled up for down there:

2800 copper pieces

1100 silver pieces

60 gold pieces

Gold locket with a painted portrait inside (p134)

Small gold bracelet (p134)

Embroidered silk handkerchief (p134)

Copper chalice with silver filigree (p134)

Carved bone statuette (p134)

Silver ewer (p134)

Carved bone statuette (p134)

Oil of Slipperiness (p184)

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