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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation Companion

You can buy the Tomb of Annihilation Companion here.

I just released a new DMs Guild product called the Tomb of Annihilation Companion. The idea of this book is for me to take all of the ideas I had while making the Guide to Tomb of Annihilation, and writing them up in an actual product.
  • When going through the Tomb adventure, I noticed a few things that I wanted to have:
  • Detailed examples of how to run foraging in the game.
  • A mapped out series of days of jungle travel.
  • Revised Dinosaur racing rules that were a bit less abstract and had more environmental hazards.
  • Actual encounters for the Sewn Sisters creeping into the camps of the heroes.
  • A bit more information on making Albino dwarves and yuan-ti as characters.
  • Buildings to explore in Omu. The section on this is extremely short in the Tomb book, and I wanted more cool stuff. There's a pretty good chance that the group will want to duck into a random building, and I didn't want to be caught with my pants down (metaphorically speaking).
So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

Rules Are Annoying: Game mechanics are not something I like to dwell on. That doesn't fly when you're making a D&D product, though.

My general attitude when running a game is that mechanics can get in the way if they're too complicated. But if you completely toss them, the game feels cheap and too loose. People spent time making characters that can do certain cool things. If you let EVERYONE do those cool things (and more!), then it warps the game into something else and you lose a lot.

I'm always walking that tightrope, and I have to constantly pull myself back into the rules. What makes it harder is that there are a lot of rules I just can't remember - drowning, fighting underwater, spell concentration, who can cast off a spell scroll and how it works, stuff like that. It's annoying to look it up. I try to write those things down.

The Mudslide: So what happened was that I made up a mudslide encounter. The heroes are walking along in the rain and boom.. here comes a mudslide. There's a ton of zombies in the mudslide! Roll to avoid it... if you get sucked in, you're trapped in the mud with zombies trying to get at you. You need to make some checks to pull yourself out. Bing, bang, boom, what an encounter!

The other day, I bought Jungle Treks. This is written by two D&D vets, Teos Abadia and Eric Menge. They, too made a mudslide encounter!

I sat down and read it. What I saw was that if I ran my mudslide the way I made it, the group would be through it in 5-10 minutes and we'd move on. In Jungle Treks, these guys made the mudslide an EVENT, and they did it without the zombies.

They laid out how many rounds the group had before the mudslide reached the heroes. They went down a great list of things the group might do. My favorite was the possibility of the group taking to the trees and jumping from branch to branch. They described avoiding the mud with a very elegant phrase: "running laterally."

Then they made rules for getting sucked into the mudslide. The mudslide drags you into a river. You could drown!

I learned a heck of a lot from reading that. They carefully thought it out, then wrote it up in a very breezy, easy-to-read manner.
Baggy Nanna: One of the things I got excited about was Baggy Nanna. I realized that some groups are going to try to tear the sack off her head (it's stitched to her neck). What's under there? She's meant to be a surreal, creepy villain.

I whipped up a whole thing which may end up linking the character to her for good. I was extremely happy with that one.

So yeah, I made a thing and learned a lot. I am enjoying looking at how other people create D&D stuff. Rules can ADD to the fun if you do it right. I'll be keeping that in mind from here on out.


Lloyd said...

Hi Sean, love the book! I just bought it tonight, and have already altered my Roll20 campaign to include the dinosaur racing encounters you wrote. My issue is that I cannot copy text from the PDF to Roll20 (or anything else for that matter) so i have to manually retype all the encounters in. I plan on using the travel days as well, but it’s going to be a monster to get all that into Roll20. Is there a way you could include a text only, or printer friendly version on the DMguild so I can copy it more easily?
Keep up the good work, love the site.

nlepdx said...

I regularly utilize your information to help support my DMing. Thank you so much, I just purchased and look forward to using this in my upcoming adventure.

Sean said...

Lloyd: Please email me at I can send you the text.

nlepdx: Thanks, I appreciate it! Don't forget to throw a zombie t. rex at them!

Lloyd said...

Sean, you are the best. I’m sending the email now.