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Editorial Reviews

Josh Staples (of The Velvet Teen), Sara Sanger amp; Julia Lancer formed The New Trust in early 2003, first as a vehicle for a handful of short, upbeat amp; dark, punk-tinged-pop-songs penned by Staples, but over the years have evolved TNT into a true collaborative vision of the three.

Upset The Tides

Even More Editions of D&D

October 31st, 2021

This video is a sequel to Every Edition of D&D: A Quick History of the World’s First Roleplaying Game, and it’s a deep dive into all the oddball corner-cases that I missed (or that others insisted I’d missed) the first time around. Some of them, like the D&D board games, you’re probably familiar with, but I’m guessing that everyone will be surprised by something on the list. (I was!)

Am I still missing something? Let me know!

I’d mentioned on my last video that my efforts to set up a better video production pipeline by hiring a professional editor had spectacularly failed when they were completely incapable of turning in a single professional video that could actually be shared. I’m still working on fixing that issue so that we can get more regular updates on the Youtube channel! I’ll keep you posted!

Go to Table of Contents

AVERNIAN ENCOUNTER DISTANCE

As described in Part 7B: Avernian Hex Map, the Avernian Hexcrawl features unique terrain types. You can use the following table to determine encounter distance in Avernus.

TerrainEncounter Distance
Ashlands6d6 x 20 feet
Bone Brambles2d6 x 10 feet
Caustic Bogs6d6 x 10 feet
Hills, Avernian2d6 x 10 feet
Mountains, Avernian4d10 x 10 feet
Plains of Fire4d6 x 10 feet
Pit of Shummrath4d6 x 10 feet
Wastelands6d6 x 40 feet
Wastelands, Cracked6d6 x 20 feet
Volcanic Plains4d6 x 10 feet

AVERNIAN REACTION TABLE

Reaction checks in Avernus are made by rolling 2d6 on the following table.

2d6Reaction
2-3Immediate Attack
4-5Hostile
6-8Cautious/Threatening
9-10Neutral
11-12Amiable

If you roll doubles, however, the encounter’s reaction will be deceptive, in which case the encounter’s reaction will appear to be the opposite result on the table:

  • Immediate Attack/Hostile encounters will appear incredibly friendly and welcoming… right up until they slip the knife in.
  • Threatening encounters will appear cautious, most likely using that posture to put the PCs at a disadvantage. (“Your weapons scare me! Put them down and we can talk!”)
  • Cautious encounters will attempt to scare the PCs away with a display of dominance.
  • Neutral encounters are unchanged.
  • Amiable encounters will present behavior that seems overtly hostile, but most likely due to cultural differences. (The demon is brandishing its venom-glistened fangs at you so that you’ll see that it’s having its venom sacs discharge a clear fluid instead of poison!)

Deception is possible in any setting, of course. By having it systemically occur half the time in Avernus, our goal is to leave the players feeling unsettled and uncertain. Hell is an alien environment filled with lies and liars.

FACTION ALLEGIANCE TABLE

Devils encountered in Avernus will usually belong to or be allied with a Dynamic Friction Company 3000 Ceramic Brake Pads and Hardware Ki. (Hell is all about its hierarchies.) You can randomly determine an encounter’s faction using this table.

d20
Faction
1-5Warlords
6-10Zariel
11-13Bel
14-15Tiamat
16-17Purple City
18-19Other/Independent/Rebellious
20Demonic (Quisling)

Go to Part 7I: Avernian Rumor Tables

Go to Table of Contents

PROCEDURAL ENCOUNTER TABLE

d100EncounterTracks %Lair %
1-5Roll on Environmental Encounters Table.--
610d10 lemures (MM, p. 76)40%10%
75d10 imps (MM, p. 76)20%20%
820 + 10d10 nupperibo (DIA, p. 239)40%10%
91d10 x 10 abyssal chickens (DIA, p. 97)30%Nil
102d6+2 hell hounds (MM, p. 182)50%20%
111d4+2 barbed devils (MM, p. 70)40%10%
123d4+2 bearded devils (MM, p. 70)30%10%
131d2 bone devils (MM, p. 71)40%25%
141d3 chain devils (MM, p. 72)40%35%
151d2 erinyes (MM, p. 73)40%20%
161d2 horned devils (MM, p. 74) 40%20%
173d6+4 spined devils (MM, p. 78)25%20%
181d4 black abishai (TOF, p. 160)10%25%
191 green abishai (TOF, p. 162)40%20%
201d4+1 white abishai (DIA, p. 241)25%10%
211 hellfire engine (TOF, p. 165)60%Nil
222d4+1 merregon (DIA, p. 238) + 2d6+3 lesser merregon (EGD, p. 184)40%20%
231 narzugon (DIA, p. 239)40%30%
242d3+1 lesser narzugon (EGD, p. 181)40%25%
251d3 howlers (TOF, p. 210)40%20%
263d4+2 bulezau (DIA, p. 230)40%15%
271d3 fiendish flesh golems (DIA, p. 236)30%10%
281d6 hellwasps (DIA, p. 236)25%20%
292d4+1 mindkiller nettles (SSA, p. 28)10%50%
302d3 mymexleon (SSA, p. 29)25%45%
311 greater + 1d4-1 lesser screaming ash elementals (SSA, p. 31)20%5%
321 assassin devils + 1d2 devil dancers (EGD, p. 171)20%20%
331 harvester devil (EGD, p. 180)40%30%
341d4 asakku (BOF, p. 144)25%40%
351d2 ashemdes (BOF, p. 145)50%20%
361d2 bulugons (BOF, p. 148)40%10%
371d3 chamagons (BOF, p. 149)40%15%
381d3 distenders (BOF, p. 152)40%20%
391 faceless (BOF, p. 155)30%10%
401 falstaff (BOF, p. 156)40%20%
412d3-1 felugons (BOF, p. 157)25%25%
422d3-1 gladiatrixes (BOF, p. 160)40%30%
432d4+2 hellwardens (BOF, p. 163)5%95%
443d4 x 10 herlekins (BOF, p. 164)40%20%
451d2+1 keres (BOF, p. 167)40%25%
461d2 magugons (BOF, p. 170)40%20%
471d4 pain mistresses (BOF, p. 174)40%20%
482d3 soulsniffers (BOF, p. 177)40%10%
491d6+6 spinders (BOF, p. 178)40%30%
502d3 vierhaander (BOF, p. 181)25%20%
511d2 fallen angels (BOF, p. 185)40%20%
522d4+2 bonedreg bipeds (BOF, p. 203)30%20%
532d6+10 bonedreg quadrupeds (BOF, p. 203)30%20%
541d2+1 hell horses (BOF, p. 207)40%20%
551d2 kok-lirs (BOF, p. 211)50%30%
561 oubliette (BOF, p. 215)50%20%
572d4+1 painshriekers (BOF, p. 217)40%20%
581d2 darksphinexes (BOF, p. 221)40%50%
591d3 spineseekers (BOF, p. 222)10%5%
601 arcanoloth (MM, p. 313)40%25%
612d3 mezzoloths (MM, p. 313)40%25%
621d2 nycaloths (MM, p. 314)40%25%
%1 ultraloth (MM, p. 314)40%25%
641d2 balhannoth (TOF, p. 119)40%25%
651d3 canoloths (TOF, p. 247)40%25%
661d3+1 dhergoloths (TOF, p. 248)40%25%
671 yagnoloth (TOF, p. 252)40%25%
68-72Thalamra the Warlord Hunter (Part 7G)20%Nil
73-87Roll on Avernian Warlord Table.--
88-91Demon Band (EIA, p. 7)--
92-95Blood War Battle (EIA, p. 5)--
96-00Roll on Dangerous Devils Table.--

Tip: The Procedural Encounters table will generally produce homogenous encounters with only a single creature type. Although it requires more dice rolling (and some creative interpolation to explain the results), you can quickly generate mixed encounters by rolling twice and halving the number of creatures of each type appearing (round up).

STYX ENCOUNTERS

d20EncounterTracks %Lair %
1Hydroloth Gondola (EIA, p. 14)--
2Lost Assassin (EIA, p. 14)--
3Kraken Released (EIA, p. 15)--
41d2 hydroloths (TOF, p. 249)10%50%
51 merrenoloth (TOF, p. 250)10%10%
61d2 froghemoths (GTM, p. 145)40%20%
72d6 cranium crabs (SSA, p.8 )25%25%
81d3 false cleric fish (SSA, p 14)5%Nil
91d3 styxglider (SSA, p. 35)40%20%
101d4 crun (BOF, p. 106)10%Nil
112d6+2 hydraggon (BOF, p. 195)10%20%
12-14Kelton Hunter's Ship (Part 7G)--
15-16Naval Battle (EIA, p. 15)--
17-18Devil Patrol Boat (EIA, p. 12)--
19-20Demon Skiff (EIA, p. 12)--

ENVIRONMENTAL ENCOUNTERS

d12Environmental Encounter
1Landslide! (IE, p. 7)
2Quicksand (DMG, p. 110)
3Razorvine (DMG, p. 110)
4Rocks of the Damned
5Bonefield
6-7Avernian Fireballs
8-9Infernal Wreck
10-12Oppressive Conditions

ROCKS OF THE DAMNED: Some of the rocks in Avernus seem to have tormented faces etched into them.

BONEFIELD: A field of bleached bones lying half-buried in the dunes or choking a razor-sharp ravine These are remnants of some ancient battle. (Avernian bonefields often feature titanic skeletons that will tower over the PCs.)

AVERNIAN FIREBALLS: Travelers in Avernus are periodically plagued with balls of flaming energy that spontaneously erupt without apparent reason. They inflict 5d6 fire damage, with a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw for half damage.

INFERNAL WRECK: 1d3 wrecked infernal warmachines. The PCs can likely scavenge parts from them. Here’s a 1 in 6 chance that the machine can be repaired without completely overhauling it.

OPPRESSIVE CONDITION: Trigger an oppressive condition, as described in Part 7B. This will exist in addition to any oppressive conditions already present.

AVERNIAN WARLORDS

See Part 7E: Warlords of Avernus for more details on the warlords. You can roll on the table below to randomly determine which warlord’s faction has been encountered. There is a 1 in 4 chance that the warlord is present for the encounter, otherwise it’s just an appropriate squad of their gang members (most likely riding infernal warmachines).

d8Warlord
1Algoran
2Bitter Breath
3Carol D'Vown
4Feonor
5Kolasiah, the Infernal Medusa
6Princeps Kovik
7Raggadragga
8Roll Again Twice

DANGEROUS DEVILS

d12EncounterTracks %Lair %
1Pit Fiend (MM, p. 77)50%65%
2Blue Abishai (TOF, p. 161)30%60%
3Red Abishai (TOF, p. 162)50%50%
4Amnizu (DIA, p. 228)50%65%
5Concordant Killer (EGD, p. 170)40%20%
6Balan and the Infernal Hunt (BOF, p. 146)50%Nil
7Ignagon (BOF, p. 166)40%20%
8Malgrin (BOF, p. 171) + 5 devil squads (EIA, p. 8)60%30%
9Ahrimanes (BOF, p. 186)50%60%
10Vulcan Demolisher (BOF, p. 229)50%20%
11-12House of Gore (DDAL09-19)50%-

Go to Part 7H-D: Advanced Encounter Options

Go to Table of Contents

DESIGNED ENCOUNTER TABLE

d30
Encounter
1
Smiler the Defiler (DIA, p. 133)
2
Boney Grab Bag (EIA, p. 5)
3
Chain Rider (EIA, p. 5)
4
Crater Raiders (EIA, p. 6)
5
Demon Horde (EIA, p. 7)
6
Devil Horde (EIA, p. 7)
7
Demon/Devil Prisoner (EIA, p. 7)
8
Fiendish Betrayal (EIA, p. 8)
9
Poppet Masters (EIA, p. 10)
10
Stirge Swarm (EIA, p. 10)
11
Ghost in the Machine (IE, p. 6)
12
Glyph of Hell (IE, p. 6)
13
Hellish Hitchhikers (IE, p. 6)
14
Help? (IE, p. 6)
15
Traveling Infernal Garage (IE, p. 7)
16
Lost Coffer (IE, p. 7)
17
Motivational Sculptures (IE, p. 8)
18
My Pile of Meat and Treasure (IE, p. 8)
19
Robed Watcher (IE, p. 9)
20
Allip's Secret
21
Cadaver Collector
22
Orthon Hunter
23
Escort to Dis
24
Lemure Harvest
25
Sin Bearer
26
Feasting Swarm
27
Faces of Bellandi
28
Chernobue Stalker
29
Abyssal Sky Harriers
30
Escapees from Elturel

ALLIP’S SECRET: An allip (TOF, p. 116) wanders Avernus. This particular allip was formed when the Bloody Cyst formed around Yael and Lulu. It’s whispers of madness ability reveals fractured images from the Second Visit to Idyllglen (see Part 6D-B). This allip (or others formed in the same instant) might have other secrets which belonged to Yael or Lulu.

CADAVER COLLECTOR: A cadaver collector (TOF, p. 122) has been collecting demonic corpses, which are pinioned to its back.

ORTHON HUNTER: An orthon (TOF, p. 169) has been sent to kill one or more of the PCs. (Who sent it and why, exactly, they want the PCs dead will depend on exactly what sort of mischief they’ve been getting up to in your campaign.) This particular orthon is quite sporting, and will start by openly approaching the PCs and explaining that, with its deepest apologies, it will begin hunting them thirty hours from now. They should make whatever final arrangements they need to, because then they will surely be dead. “Good luck! I look forward to a good, fair challenge!”

If the PCs attempt to immediately attack the orthon, he will consider this a breach of good sportsmanship. If he can escape, he will contact two additional orthons to form a triumvirate who will ruthlessly hunt the PCs.

ESCORT TO DIS: A corruption devil (EGD, p. 175) named Drograxol is being carried across on Avernus on a bower by a dozen corrupted followers (EGD, p. 176). They area accompanied by an Enforcer of Dis (BOF, p. 154) who serves as Drograxol’s body guard.

Drograxol is an ambassador from Dis who is now returning to the Second Layer of Hell. (He’s heading for Tiamat’s Lair in Hex C1 and the Gate Tower of Dis that lies within it.) If he is successfully engaged in repartee, he may bemoan the hardship of his work in recent centuries. Relations between Dispater and Zariel have been… difficulty since the Siege of Dis during the Reckoning.

LEMURE HARVEST: A malebranch (SSA, p. 27) are often dispatched to collect wayward souls. This one, named Kaziron, has gathered a half dozen lemures (MM, p. 76) who are leashed to him with hooked chains. He is hoping to gather more before returning to the Purple City (Hex F2), and would be glad to hear of any recent lemure sightings. (He’d also be interested in any reports of nupperibo.)

SIN BEARER: The soul of a man or woman (commoner or cult fanatic; MM, p. 345) walks the Avernian wastelands with heavy tablets of lead strapped to their back. The tablets are inscribed with all the sins they committed in their mortal life.

FEASTING SWARM: A feasting swarm (BOF, p. 74) has settled upon the bodies strewn across a recent battlefield, stripping flesh from devil and demon corpses alike. (You can roll on the Procedural Encounters table to determine the corpse types.)

FACES OF BELLANDI: High Watcher Baja Bellandi, who formed the Pact with Zariel which ultimately led to Elturel’s fall, was damned to Hell. She wanders the Avernian wastelands as a faces of the great (BOF, p. 94), with the important distinction that rather than being made up of the faces of many different mortals, Bellandi’s bloated form carries many different versions of her own face — all of which mutter and murmur, constantly debating each other over whether she was right to do what she did; what she could have done different; how unfair it was that she was betrayed before she could make it right; and so forth.

If the PCs can interpret through her madness, they may be able to learn much of the history behind Elturel’s fall.

CHERNOBUE STALKER: A chernobue (BOF, p. 194) begins following the PCs at a distance. A chernobue has the appearance of a large, scuttling, filth-encrusted eye. It keeps far away from the PCs, often lurking right at the edge of the horizon or peering down at them from the top of some distant hill. It watches them without surcease.

ABYSSAL SKY HARRIERS: High above the PCs’ heads, an abyssal dragon (BOF, p. 204) flies by. It is beset upon by a dozen squads of the 3rd Aerial Cohort of the 5th Legion (which is based out of Zariel’s flying fortress). The dragon has been separated from the demonic frontlines and driven deep into Avernus, harried constantly by the aerial cohort who are hoping to take the beast down once and for all.

ESCAPEES FROM ELTUREL: This encounter indicates that the PCs have met someone else who has chosen to leave Elturel and seek their own fortune in Hell. You can roll on the table below to determine what Elturian faction they belong to:

d8
Elturian Faction
1-2
None (Commoners)
3
Hell Knights
4
Zarielite Cultists
5
Ikaia's Followers
6
Ravengard's Peacekeepers
7
Liashandra's Demons
8
Devil Raiders

Go to Part 7H-C: Procedural Encounters

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Go to Table of Contents

Random encounters can be used to achieve several different effects. In the case of the Avernian Hexcrawl, they’re designed to provide flexible content that will give a dynamic life to the Avernian wastelands, either as the PCs travel between keyed locations or while fleshing out those locations during play.

When using the Avernian Random Encounters, you may find it useful to check out:

The random encounters will use material from several sources, which are referenced using abbreviations:

ENCOUNTER CHECKS

Roll 2d10 and 1d12.

  • A roll of 1 on 1d10 indicates an encounter.
  • A roll of doubles on d10’s (other than double 1’s) indicates that you should roll on the Designed Encounters table. Otherwise roll on the Procedural Encounters table for each one. (If you roll a designed encounter you’ve already used, roll a procedural encounter instead.)
  • If the PCs are traveling on/along the Styx, there’s a 50% chance that any procedural should be rolled on the Styx Encounters table instead of the normal table.
  • For each procedural encounter, check Track %, then Lair %.
  • A roll of 1 on 1d12 indicates the PCs have encountered the keyed location in the hex. (If there are multiple keyed locations in the current hex, determine which one is encountered randomly.)

These results can be combined into a simultaneous encounter. (For example, rolling doubles on the d10’s and 1 on the d12 would indicate a scripted encounter taking place at the hex’s keyed location. Or you might roll a procedural tracks encounter plus a location encounter, indicating that the PCs have found tracks at they keyed location.)

DESIGN NOTES

I don’t typically use designed encounters (for reasons discussed here), unless there’s some specific design goal or advantage to be gained. In this case, as described above, I’m drawing encounter material from a wide variety of sources, and several of these include really good prepackaged encounters. It would be silly not to include this material, even though it adds a little extra complexity to our encounter checks.

Actually, I’m hoping that by using multiple dice and checking for doubles, that I have at least managed to streamline the number of dice rolls. (I was also quite pleased to easily generate simultaneous encounters with this system, which I felt were particularly important to include (a) given the fractious nature of Avernus and (b) to provide significantly more variety to the encounters.)

For procedural encounters, the tables have been designed to usually generate an encounter between 7th Level Deadly (8,500 XP) and 12th Level Hard (15,000 XP) for five PCs. Since multiple encounters can occur simultaneously, this creates a functional range from 8,500 XP to 30,000 XP (which is Deadly for 15th level characters).

(Some encounters are an exception to this towards the lower end, where interesting or relevant fiends have been included even if would take a bajillion of them to hit the desired challenge range. They’ll either be scenic in nature or provide a little extra color when generated simultaneously with another encounter.)

This distribution is generally achieved on some form of bell curve, so the extremes will be relatively unusual. The net effect, however, is that Avernus will be very dangerous when the PCs first arrive and they will never be able to feel completely safe in Hell. This is deliberate because, well… It’s Hell. But it should also be mitigated to some degree because not every encounters should be thirsting for the PCs’ blood (which you can simulate using the Avernian Reactions table, or improvise according to your own predilections).

It is also possible to generate a very rare dangerous devil. These fiends are individually Deadly encounters for Level 12 to Level 18 characters (22,500 XP to 47,500 XP). They are obviously incredibly dangerous, particularly if they get combined with another encounter. Things to consider include:

  • Assuming either indifference or a non-hostile intent on the part of these devils (e.g., the PCs see them flying far overhead or they offer the PCs a standing offer for their souls).
  • Choosing to ignore the dangerous devil encounters entirely (or selectively ignoring them as appropriate).
  • Increasing the Tracks % for these encounters (possibly to 100%) so that the PCs become aware of the danger without being immediately confronted by it.

Or just roll with it and let the dice fall where they may.

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