Here’s some of the gears that turn behind “episode” 2 of our new Northern Reach campaign:
First: Cold weather mechanics are still in play, you can see our modified cold weather rules here: Cold weather crunch. You’ll be able to see how we made the cold a little more dangerous than RAW.
Second: The party is mostly involved in tracking down these Ghost Boars that the players know pretty much nothing about! We took them from Kobold Press’ newest monster compendium “Creature Codex”. We’ll likely do a post about why we like Kobold Press’ monsters very soon, keep your eyes peeled for that.
So back to tracking and learning. Tracking things is done with a survival check, Shouldn’t be a huge problem as the party has some deep redundancy built in for proficient survivalists. Jung, the 1/2 orc ranger; Wolrf (pronounced Vulf),the human barbarian; and Gax, the big and cuddly human sorcerer. With three characters packing strong survival proficiency tracking is something the dice should deem the team capable of doing.
So, here was the challenge. Ghost Boar move about in an incorporeal state. They can run through trees and logs, HECK even people. So, we decided they only leave tracks if they stand still. That means finding ANY traces of Ghost Boar requires a DC 18 survival check and you have to be moving at a slow pace… That can get boring and frustrating really quickly. To remedy this we made Ghost Boars followed by regular boars. We also had the party stumble across a boar being consumed by a Winter Wolf (we got some fun combat AND the party quickly found the trail of regular boars).The regular boars are MUCH easier to track (much lower DC). The 3 survivalists were able to not only track the regular boars but find traces throughout the day of Ghost Boar resting spots and feed locations.
Another piece of DM magic we pulled was flopping 2 locations we’ve built a circuit through the Shadow Groves that the boars travel and the party is tracking them around this circular path, on that route are several points of interest- the Winter Wolf kill-site was one of them. We flopped a dead-druid discovery with another location because: We built the dead druid in as an opportunity for the party to learn about the Ghost Boars. The Druid had been studying them until they killed him. They found his journal of field research on him this allowed them to glean valuable information they badly needed. We were going to drop him in a little later but we wanted to keep the pace up and keep everyone engaged. Tracking is fun if you’re the three characters rolling for it, but if you’re just trudging through the snow waiting to cast firebolt at something, not so much.
The dead druid pulled the rogue and the wizard into the story line pretty well, the rogue carefully examining the body and finding all his goodies, the wizard being the most bookish was drawn to the journal.
We did build a table for knowing about Ghost Boars: Any character proficient in the Nature skill we gave a shot at knowledge using the following table:
Nature Check for Wild Boar
10- Ghost Boars are notoriously hard to track
12- Ghost Boars tend to be followed by regular boars (Ghost Boars dig up food sources in cold weather, helping the regular boars get at them when they’ve moved on)
15- Ghost Boars leave NO tracks when they are moving but DO leave traces where they feed or sleep.
18- Ghost Boars tend to travel in circular patterns that tend to be 25-40 miles in circumference.
20- Ghost Boars love Pine Nuts that have fallen into water sources in warmer weather. The Pine nuts then Ferment.
+20- Ghost Boars have a weakness for alcohol, it can be used to attract them.
Just for the record: we invented most of this ecology for them, to flesh them out and give the party some tools to work with.
They rolled pretty low on their nature checks when they entered the woods so they had little to work with. Bumping up the dead-druid location allowed us to put that intel into their hands in a way that made sense with the story we are all telling together.
That’s pretty much it for our last session, if you want to check out Ghost Boars you can find them in Kobold Press’ Newest 5e collection “Creature Codex”.