Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Starter Set Sandbox 13 - Kryptgarden Forest

I am tempted to say, DON'T GO HERE. Kryptgarden Forest is the demesne of the gargantuan green dragon Claugiyliamatar, also known as Old Gnawbone. She appears in all her glory in the upcoming D&D Epics adventure DDEP1-1 Corruption in the Kryptgarden but you can read about her in her Wyrms of the North article on the WotC website (or in Dragon 233 where the article first appeared).

FR11 Dwarves Deep
Well, this is almost completely irrelevant but the Kryptgarden Forest was known as Tsordvudd to the dwarves of the fallen dwarven kingdom of Besilmer. (I suppose that can justify an ancient dwarf-built outpost on the outskirts of the forest. Actually, that is useful. Being able to throw together a short dungeon with a logical reason for being where it is is surprisingly handy, especially in a sandbox campaign.)

Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves
A timeline entry in this book reveals that some of the first settlements of the ancient elven/eladrin realm of Illefarn were in the Kryptgarden Forest. Lost Empires of Faerûn mentions that it is subsequently known as Rilithar upon the dissolution of Illefarn.

The North
Oh look, on the subject of a dwarven citadel - although I think this is hinting at Southkrypt which I covered in another post - here's the section on Kryptgarden from this boxed set:
Named after Southkrypt, this small forest is believed to be the second-most-powerful source of the evil that pervades the dwarven ruin, the first being the Sword Mountains lying just north. The eastern outskirts of the forest are often used by the inhabitants of Westbridge for hunting purposes, even they don?t delve farther than a few hours? walk into it.

Unsubstantiated rumours of another dwarven citadel in the hills near the center of the forest have circulated in recent years. A mad adventurer, apparently the lone survivor of a nine-man adventuring company, was captured on Khedell Path in the plains west of Red Larch. He babbled about a citadel of erect insects casting spells? and hurling weapons that killed a man from 500 paces.

According to the man's crazed tales, the insects are able to camouflage themselves (probably magically) to the point where the only way to find the creatures is by scent and tracking. He's a known liar, yet he was found with nothing in his possession and strange burns along his arms and back that cannot be explained.
Putting It All Together
Firstly, there are green dragons. I would look again at the early 5E description of the effects of green dragons on the environment which I included in my post about Thundertree. And clearly any campaign that plans to end with something other than a TPK needs to avoid Old Gnawbone herself. (She has 26 hit dice in Corruption in the Kryptgarden and is CR28 in Dragons of Faerûn.)

I suppose that also means there are kobold servitors of those same green dragons. That would certainly help ensure more level-appropriate encounters.

Secondly, there are both dwarven and elven/eladrin ruins in Kryptgarden Forest. That's a logical reason for a range of small and medium dungeons some of which may even play host to a green dragon or two... or their kobold servitors.

The former presence of elves also suggests that Kryptgarden Forest would make a good base for the xenophobic Eldreth Veluuthra. Perhaps they inhabit a refurbished ruin of Illefarn and have been capturing slaves to help them rebuild?

Finally, there are those mysterious "erect insects". I suppose the mantis-like thri-kreen could fit the bill but I rather like the idea of using spellweavers instead. The Shackled City adventure path including a spellweaver-themed adventure Secrets of the Soul Pillars in Dungeon 109 and the Ruins of Karran-Kural could be used here. There is also a supporting article, The Ecology of the Spellweaver, in Dragon 338 which could help flesh out a spellweaver-themed adventure rather nicely.

Summing Up
As you can tell, I am not particularly enthused about adventuring in the Kryptgarden Forest. There are two main reasons:
1. Look at the map. It's difficult to get there from Neverwinter or Phandalin.
2. I have to give Old Gnawbone her due. She's too tough and that's her turf.

However, running a spellweaver-themed adventure is on my gaming bucket list and that's about the only thing that would persuade me to manipulate my players into sending their PCs there. For now it's the proverbial "Here be Dragons!" from old maps of the world....


  1. I'd just like to say thank you for these 'Starter Set: Sandbox' posts. I know your blog is focused on 4e and I'll be playing in 5e; regardless, they are immensely helpful.
    I played in Forgotten Realms when it first came out (in the '80s), but not much since then. As a DM, I find the world intimidating: so much history has happened since I first played (Time of Troubles, Spellplague, etc) that it seems impossible to keep up with it all.
    That is why your blog is so great: you give short, condensed histories of the (small) area that my campaign will be focused on.
    Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Banesfinger.

    I've tried to make these posts as edition-free as possible, and to call out specific 4E-isms when I use them so that non-4E DMs can just ignore them.

    As for keeping up with it all, I must admit I used to do that... and it's a nightmare. That's one of the reasons I really like the 4E post-Spellplague reset because it gets rid of so much of the baggage but, as my blog hopefully shows, you can still use the old material to inspire your "new era" campaigns.

    I would also specifically single out the Neverwinter Campaign Setting as a product. It's simply superb. It's FR without all the baggage, much like Lost Mine of Phandelver. They also share the same basic regional map so they can work together. Hopefully I can address that more in my final two posts of this series where I tackle the Neverwinter Wood and then Neverwinter itself.

  3. There are sketchy details on Lupincopse in the module Stardock (2e).

    King Witchthorn (a verdant prince) is discussed in MMIV (3.5e).

    Dungeon #26 has a 1e adventure set in the Kryptgarden Forest called "The Inheritance".

  4. Sorry +A2Wheeler, I actually replied some time ago but it seems my Third World internet connection deleted it.

    Thanks for the MMIV reference. I think I can use that in a later game. Dungeon 26 I had already but I found the "Lostafinga" name a bit off-putting. BTW, it forms part of the backstory for the Adventurers League "Corruption in the Kryptgarden" adventure.

    But I cannot find anything in Stardock. Would you please be so kind as to post the page number(s)? Thanks in advance and thanks for your post.

  5. Hellgate Keep page 3, 31.

    (This is Eric, btw.)

  6. Cool. Thanks, Eric. I will check those out.

  7. I meant Stardock, not Hellgate Keep. Sorry.

  8. Not sure if this is still something you want to know, but allegedly when a horde of orcs invade the Dessarin Valley, they also enter Kryptgarden. Old Gnawbone eats her fill of orcs, until she is full and then retires to her cave. This is when she is supposed to be most vulnerable. A party trying to investigate the spellweaver city could choose that time to get past Old Gnawbone, although they'd have the complication of an orc horde outside of the forest to deal with. This reference may spark some ideas

  9. Oops, just realised you already had that info. Sorry.

  10. No worries, Rick, and thanks for the feedback. I rather like that idea particularly as my current campaign may soon feature an orc horde making its way to Neverwinter... unless the PCs come up with a way of stopping them elsewhere. Maybe they will ask for Old Gnawbone's assistance? :)