Solo Roleplaying D&D: Make full character sheets for NPCs

When playing solo D&D, try making full on characters for the major NPCs. This can be more fun because (a) making characters is fun, especially higher level ones, and, (b) you get more faceted NPCs instead of just stock, one-dimensional characters.

I’ve been playing through Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden and I applied this one of the duergar dwarves, Durth. In the published adventure, he’s a Duergar Mind Master. Instead of sticking wiht that, I decided to flesh him out a bit, making him a 5th level Artificer. This gave him a steel defender companion and access to interesting spells. I’ve never really played an artificer or looked at that class next, so it was fun to imagine that out. And, then, when it came to the encounter on the ferry in Easthaven, I had a lot more options than what a Mind Master would give.

This investment in time and imagining also creates a closer bond your NPCs. My theory here is that this will make their role in your adventure more interesting and genuin. You might get attached to them and want them to live. And, if you’re less likely to let them die and/or make dumb moves, they’ll be more interesting than just routine combat and encounters.

All of that takes extra time, of course, but one of the principles I follow in solo roleplaying is that it’s all part of playing. You take on the role of the DM, for example, which has all sorts of out of game work like this. And, you know: the point is to have fun! So if this seems like a drag at any given point, I just won’t do it.

Tuning the Prompt for Solo D&D with ChatGPT

For about 7 months, I’ve been playing solo D&D with ChatGPT. I prompt ChatGPT to be the “ChatDM.” It sort of works, and at least, it’s fun enough to keep doing it and working on making it better. Here’s my most recent overview of what works and doesn’t work, based on a longer play session this week:

In addition to the obvious prompting to play as a DM, there are a few things you have to be specific about. For example, I always have to tell the ChatDM not to reveal secrets to me, for example, that there are goblins hiding in the forest waiting to ambush the PCs. Also, you have to tell it to give the PCs full autonomy, or the ChatDM will start playing the characters for you.

This week, the ChatDM was pretty good at combat, but I had to give it some coaching here and there. And that coaching is a big thing: I have to frequently remind it of what to do and not to do, micromanaging it. There are a few other lessons learned in the video.

Outside of just having fun, having played D&D with ChatGPT for 7 months, I think I’ve got a better sense of what you could do with it in the business world, and how you might go about doing it. For example, it’s good to be very specific, narrow, and focused. It’s not good at coming up with a full-fledged campaign setting and multi-session adventure right away; and it wouldn’t be good at fully fleshing out a new marketing strategy or business plan for creating new lines of businesses. Instead, in D&D, it’s pretty good at single encounters or events, and, probably, in business at very specific operations questions like “what type of insurance would appeal to Australians who ride motorcycles on the weekends?”

Here’s the prompt I used for creating the ChatDM and the adventure I gave it to play. And, if you want to watch the full, 2 hour session, that’s up as well.

How to use AI to solo play Dungeons and Dragons - Lab Notebook - Playing a Goblin Ambush

Is ChatGPT good at being a Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master? I’ve been experimenting with this for a while now. I do this because (1) it’s fun, and, (2) it’s a good way to understand what generative AIs can actually do, how they do it, and how to work with them. They’re not as fantastic as everyone makes out, but they’re fun.

Here’s my tips and commentary on my experience doing this:

You can also watch the full the third session playback.


I’ve re-written my prompt after a few months of playing. Now I’m going to do a test of a simple Goblin ambush. I’ve got some key metrics/experiments I want to test so I can start rating the prompts and different AIs. First, I’ll go over the new prompt, then you can watch along as I take it for a spin, and then do some analysis of what worked.

I created the prompt today first by revising and bundling together some I’ve used and seen, and then asked Gemini Ultra to re-write it for me. Here’s the prompt I’m starting with today:


You are excited to be an expert Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) Dungeon Master (DM). You are an expert at D&D 5th edition, and also an expert at interpreting ambiguous rules in a fun way. Rely on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition rules from sources like The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, The Monster Manual, and other official sources like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Also use knowledge from the rest of the D&D community (like The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, reddit, blogs, and videos). The user (me!) is your sole player.

Mechanics of Play. You follow the Rule of Cool: if something makes the game more exciting, let it happen. Also, you never, ever dictate the actions of the player characters (PCs). I will say what they do and say; it is no fun if you do it. You determine what monsters and NPCs do, and the overall environment, context, and weather. You can say what the players feel, experience, or see, but not what they do or say. This is important: do not take actions or say what the players do. You should prioritize player autonomy above all else, while also adhering to the rules of D&D 5th edition. Call for skill checks frequently whenever an action is neither guaranteed to fail or to succeed. Low rolls should result in failure, which can be a good thing. Ask for saving throws, and attack rolls when needed.

Take initiative: action and conflict make D&D fun. Take action, introduce conflict, and take initiative. Do not wait for the players (me) to say what happens and do not ask them what should happen next in the story. You decide. But, remember: do not take actions for the PCs, only I can say what the PCs do and say. Pause the story when the PCs need to decide what to do, take action. Embody NPCs with distinct voices and actions. Let scenes unfold through character interactions and environmental details.

Meta-information and Communication. Messages will be sent to you out of game in the form a “DM Notes.” These will be in curly braces like this: {Here is a DM note in curly braces}. I will occasionally ask you what you are thinking, to explain your decision, or otherwise explain your actions and thinkings. I may also instruct you to change the story and direction, even going back in time and redoing the DM’ing.

Writing Style. In your responses and narrations, use a Lexile relating level of 1600L. Reply in one to three paragraph chunks. Be detailed in your narration. Do not skip anything and include dialogue of NPCs. Show, don’t tell. Write like a real person at all times, include dialog, and be detailed.

Style inspiration. Draw on these sources for ideas, inspiration, story, themes, etc.: The Forgotten Realms books and D&D campaign setting; The Saxon Stories books by Bernard Cornwell, The Kingkiller Chronicle books by Patrick Rothfuss; historic 11th century England; The Mists of Avalon books by Marion Zimmer Bradley; Hild, Menewood, Spear books by Nicola Griffith; Norse, and British folklore; HP Lovecraft; Conan the Barbarian;

Focus on gritty realism over high-fantasy tropes. Maintain a consistent, believable tone while still leaving room for the fantastical.

Avoid contemporary (2024) language and idioms, and instead favor European medieval and Renaissance language and idioms.

Avoid Arch, Campy, Moody Text. Do not do mood, summing up paragraphs at the end or in the text. Avoid clichés, inflated over the top writing, tropes from high fantasy. For example: avoid text like: “…her presence a testament to the enduring vigilance against the shadows lurking in Icewind Dale…” or “…it’s cloaked in a malign aura that deters the unwary" or “…whatever is being conjured in that cabin could hold dire consequences not just for Ten-Towns, but for all the Dale.”

Story Telling. Do not summarize what the PCs have done or what I have said. Instead, after I type it, move immediately to what happens next in the narrative. If you do not know what happens next in a narrative, make up the next logical, expected scene or action. About 10% of the time, do something different than the expected next scene or action. Use lateral thinking to come up with fun, imaginative story-telling.

Characters and Stories. Use sympathetic villains and monsters. Evil and Good are relative in this D&D and setting. Each NPC and monster have their own motivations and belief systems. For example, a Lawful Good character may believe it’s just to kill demonic gnolls, but the gnolls might just be living their life, looking for food for their family. Devils may torment humanoid creatures, but this is because it is their nature - is a cat evil because is plays with a dying bird? Most everyone is doing the best that they can and think they are the main character in their story: they act rationally, for the most part. Not every NPC is friendly, some NPCs are leery and afraid, some NPCs are evil or insane, some NPCs lie and resist or fight back based on their personality. NPCs should have multiple dimensions and motivations, some villains will be sympathetic, some heroes will be obnoxious. Challenge the players and force them into uncomfortable situations that require D&D skills checks, roll playing, and combat. Populate your world with nuanced NPCs driven by their own goals and worldviews. Shades of gray should blur the lines between traditional good and evil.

Adventures. If I give you a published adventure, read it carefully and refer back to it frequently. Stick to the story and NPCs. Improve 10% of the time. If you get confused, go back and re-read the adventure.

Campaign setting. We are playing in the Forgotten Realms. Please use appropriate lore, locations, and themes. Please familiarize yourself with the Forgotten Realms setting for this adventure. You can find information in the Forgotten Realms Wiki ( or other online resources.

Environment. Frequently describe the weather and physical environment in detail. Is it clouds, dark, day, night, raining, or sunshine? Is the terrain rough, smooth, hills, dense forest and undergrowth? What are the smells, feels, and noises. Use these vivid descriptions of the environment and sensory descriptions to tell an immersive story and even as a type of character in the adventure.

Random. Focus on unpredictable events and outcomes rather than stereotypical and cliche options. Play in a world that is wild and chaotic, less stable than normal. However, be consistent with plot, established NPC personalities, and the campaign setting.

Rumors and Happenings. When I ask for (and ONLY when I ask for) the most recent rumors, happenings, everyday or common events, major happenings, etc., have an NPC make up one of a whimsical, serious, common, bizarre and mystical, or surreal event. This is in a Dungeons and Dragons setting and context. Do this five times with different NPCs each time. Always tell me about these events in the voice of the NPC with their words in quotes. Write them as 150 word scenes. As with a novel, in that prose, include the NPC’s name, location, a description of NPC and their actions as they talk as in a novel. Don’t label the category of events, just use a numbered header for each section with a clever title. In addition to that, also, list just one of each of the following: a new store OR stall in the marketplace; a new resident of the city; a new book or scroll available at a store on Parchment Row; a seasonal event that is happening. Finally, tell me the weather. When I ask what’s been happening, what are recent events, rumors, etc. do the above.

Lore, Journals, Background, Adventures. If I have uploaded files to your knowledge (GPT, agent, etc.) read and review them now to refresh your knowledge. If I ask you to refresh them while we’re playing, read and refresh yourself again.

Do not start playing until I say so. In the meantime, just acknowledge that you got this.

Here is the adventure that I used, written by Gemini:

ChatDM adventure: Goblin Trouble in Phandalin

Adventure Title: Goblin Trouble in Phandalin

Level: 1

Synopsis: This quest draws the player into the ongoing tensions of a frontier town, testing their skills in negotiation, tracking, and a dash of combat or cunning against troublesome goblins.

Hook: The player character finds themselves short on coin in Phandalin. This rough-and-tumble settlement on the Sword Coast offers basic accommodations, with establishments like the Stonehill Inn or the Sleeping Giant Taphouse providing shelter…for a price.


The Innkeeper: Barthen (Stonehill Inn) or Toblen Stonehill (Sleeping Giant) are potential choices. They’re wary of newcomers but willing to listen, especially if the player mentions connections to the Lionshield Coster or the Zhentarim (factions with interests in Phandalin).

The Atmosphere: Emphasize Phandalin’s frontier feel: Miners fresh from work, the smell of wood smoke, and hushed rumors of Redbrand ruffians or goblin sightings. A Persuasion check (DC 13) might yield a simple meal but not lodgings.

Inciting Incident: Mid-negotiation, a crate of Gnomish Mead (or another regionally appropriate drink) is snatched by goblins! Cries of alarm from patrons provide a chaotic backdrop.

The Quest: The distraught innkeeper begs the player to recover the stolen goods. Possible figures of authority come to mind:

Townmaster Harbin Wester: Might offer a reward if the situation aligns with his goal of keeping order in Phandalin.

Sildar Hallwinter: The seasoned adventurer could offer useful knowledge of goblin tactics alongside a reward.

Tracking the Goblins:

Survival Check (DC 12): Success reveals goblin tracks towards Triboar Trail or the outskirts of Neverwinter Wood. Failure prompts alternative methods…

Information Gathering: Miners or woodsmen hanging around the inn might recall goblin sightings near Tresendar Manor ruins or Wyvern Tor. The Goblin Ambush:

Hidden Archer: A goblin archer in the undergrowth. Perform a Perception check with the player’s passive perception, or, if they say they’re looking have them roll a perception check versus the goblin’s stealth roll, per standard D&D 5e rules for hiding. spots them, failure leads to a surprise attack!

Playing Possum: A goblin lies ‘dead’ along the path. Medicine Check (DC 10) reveals the ruse. Adjust descriptions to the chosen ambush location.

Encounter Flexibility: Combat isn’t mandatory. Roleplaying, Intimidation, or clever trickery are equally viable tactics for retrieving the mead.

Returning to Phandalin:

Success: The innkeeper and possibly other patrons express gratitude. Award 150 XP and promised rewards.

Partial Success: (Mead damaged, some missing) - Smaller reward, but appreciation for the effort.

Failure: Disappointment, but no ill-will. Sildar or Harbin may suggest another, less dangerous task to build trust.

ChatDM Considerations

NPC Dialogue: Prepare lines for potential Phandalin figures, incorporating local concerns (Redbrands, Orcs, etc.)

Sensory Descriptions: Ground the ambush in a Forgotten Realms location– overgrown manor ruins, shadowy forest clearings, etc.

Options: Let the ChatDM surprise you with Phandalin-specific twists – perhaps the goblins were hired by the Redbrands?

Some related items:

How to create Huge D&D Battle Maps with Midjourney generative AI

You can generate really big Dungeons & Dragons battle maps with Midjourney. It takes some iteration and tinkering, but the maps are great. I like big battle maps so that characters, NPCs, and monsters have lots of room to move around and take tactical advantage of ranged spells and attacks. While the big images are grainy when you zoom in, if you save the series of original images that you zoomed out of, you can always zoom back in, so to speak.

In this post, I’m going to show you how I went from this map:

to this map:

There’s also four maps in-between, which I don’t include all of here.

(1) The Story

To guide what your map looks like it needs to be part of a story. This gives you the setup, the environments, etc.1

I’ve been solo role-playing Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden and I wanted an ambush encounter with the Knights of the Black Sword.

For a good ambush, you need a choke point, and a bridge is great. Characters are forced to go over a bridge (sure, they could fly, but not the character I was playing), you get exposed (it’s hard to hide as you cross a bridge), and you can get trapped. You could even be cinematic and have the bridge destroyed, ropes cut, whatever.

So, I needed a bridge-cross in a icy environment.

(2) Find a starter map, or stop with one

There are so many D&D maps out there, tons and tons of them. Often, you can do a Google Image search and find exactly what you need.2 I found a good map in Reddit3 - an icy setting with a a bridge going over a deadly gorge. But, after setting it up for an ambush, I realized there was nowhere to hide really. Plus, like I said, I like really big maps.

So, I went to Midjourney and after some tinkering, I came up with the maps above.

I loaded the original map from Reddit into the Midjourney prompt window, and gave it Midjourney this prompt:

Expand this dungeons and dragons battlemap of a bridge crossing an icy gap in a glacier. Overlaid with 5 foot by 5 foot grid as in standard d&d battle maps

First, it didn’t actually expand the map, it just used it as inspiration. Second, it took several go-rounds and re-starts with Midjourney. This is key to Midjourney stuff: before you blame your prompt, just have it try from scratch several (four or six) times and pick, like, two you like, and continue refining those).

Here’s a particularly goofy one Midjourney made:

What’s goofy here is, of course, that tunnel in the upper right, but you’ll notice that the 5x5 grid is all messed up. If you let this live on through your zooming out, it will continue to be messed up.

Here’s the one I picked to build on:

The grid is not perfect, as you can see if you zoom into the larger versions, but it’s good enough and that good enough persists as you scale up. Is a 65 foot long, 16 foot bridge realistic? How about the sizes of the rocks and trees? I don’t know, they seem good enough to me. As with a lot of D&D realism check, if I got too deep down making things perfectly realistic, I remind myself that this is world where gnomes and ships flying in space is realistic. And, you know, the point is to have fun.

(3) Zooming out

Zoom, pan, and upscale controls in the Midjourney web UI.

Then, I just used the zoom 2x option several times, you can the buttons for that in the screenshot of the Midjourney web UI above. I zoomed first to this, this, and then this. Each time, of course, discarding the goofy results.

During this zooming, I’d also pan to fill in direct filling in, mostly the right and then up. You can see the pan buttons highlighted in the screenshot above as well.

Finally, I ended up with a pretty good one. But, when I zoomed in it was grainy. So, I had it upscale it; see the buttons in the screenshot.

I don’t actually know what that means (or any of the Midjourney things), but it sounded right. I tried upscale on “subtle” and “creative,” and I think “subtle” is what you want to have it stay pretty much the same. Creative gets uh, super “creative."

The final map is this one:

(4) Using the Map

Then, I loaded it up into DND Beyond’s map tool, added in the tokens, to get this:

If you squint, you can see the little tokens clustered around the bridge, the cultists hiding out here and there, and my character approaching the bridge. It’s impossible to use at this scale, but look at that: 1,160 feet! That’s about two full-range long bow shots and plenty of room to run around (chasing, retreating, pulling back and hiding, and on and on).

You can zoom in (and, of course, pan around) to actually play:

The tokens are still small, and the image is grainy enough to notice. But, it was super fun to create and use.

For next time

Here’s some analysis and ideas for improvement:

Map size

When I played this encounter, the focus only moved 300 foot from the bridge, so, in theory that’s all the room I needed. Still, it felt nice and open. So, the map I ended up with is probably too big for an encounter, and I think I’ll scale it down to one of the smaller ones next time.

DND Beyond’s map tool only zooms in 500%.I don’t actually mind the grainy and blurry zoom in, it’s actually the tokens that are too small, it’s difficult to read the token names on my monitor. But, on my new M3 Macbook Pro, the screen is actually crisp enough to read them…barely.


I should also learn how to overlay my own grid. For example, here’s an example of a glacier-to-sea cliff. The grid on this one isn’t too good, but I think the results fit my criteria. That said, I wonder if the 5 foot by 5 foot grid helps Midjourney keep scale right? If that’s the case, maybe I could still turn the Midjourney grid off and be clever and say “use an invisible 5 foot by 5 foot grid.”


For buildings, I’ve used Midjourney, and even sections of towns. My success there isn’t so great, largely because I haven’t figured out prompts to break out of the standard, square structures. But, what I really dislike about them is the lack of space around the buildings. I’ve done a little bit of work there: here’s a “small” building map, and then a larger, zoomed out one. Here’s an exterior town/settlement zoom-up: from a tight map, to an expanded one.

Hex Crawls and Sandboxes

An idea: could you use the panning to roll up random terrian for a hex crawl? Let’s say you wanted to see the actual terrain over a six mile hex? A mile is 5,280, so you’d need to pan a lot more to go from 1,160 feet to a mile. Would it even go that far? Instead, I’m wondering if I could take one thin slice of a side of the image and make tiles.

This kind of detailed, “real time” playing is terrible with a group of players, but when you’re solo role-playing, it can be just what you want.4 And, another aspect of solo-playing is world building-by-playing. If you had some good enough encounter tables (and there’s a lot of that in “Rime"), it could also be pretty great. I feel like Paul Bimler’s solo role-playing systems would work well here with its details on wilderness travel, encountering settlements, and the story-point and adventure-loop system he uses in his solo adventures. He goes especially bonkers-good in the second volume of his solo role-playing toolbox.


As with most Midjourney images, the default style is distinct. I think of these as the Inkarnate-style of D&D battle maps…which is totally fine! But, if you browse Midjourney, you can see variations, e.g., adding in “white lines on black background," and sometimes it just shifts the aesthetic on its own.


I use ChatGPT for my main generative AI driven solo roleplaying. Sometimes I create images in it (“make an image of the current scene,” and the like). But, it’s not the best. And when that happens, as with Midjourney, you have to keep iterating and refining. That’s a big distraction from the role playing chat session. Plus, iterating on images consumes your message quota right-quick.

Still, there’s probably something that I could do: maybe generate really quick, simple line maps, or just NPC pictures.

ChatGPT is pretty good in the opposite direction: giving it images and saying “this is the tavern we’re in,” or “this is what Kadroth looks like.”

It works!

Overall, it’s great! My principles for using AI for solo role-playing are that I don’t want to spend too much time tinkering with it, let alone programming. The point of generative AI is to reduce all that toil, after all. In this instance, I think that princple works: now that I know what I’m doing, it should take only 10 or 15 minutes to get a good result. Or, it’s one of those things you can check in on for 30 to 60 seconds between other tasks you’re doing.

Tell me how you’re doing this, which is to say, give me the good prompt strategies and prompts.

And, hey, if you’re interested in more of my solo role-playing with ChatGPT, check out my videos on the topic.

  1. Well, not always. I like to proactively generate maps to have on hand for future playing. For example, in my campaign setting there’s a huge forest, so just generating forest maps is useful. And, I’ll admit, it’s also both calming and fun. But, obviously, if you’re going to make an encounter map, you need to know the encounter. ↩︎

  2. I don’t really know the contemporary norms in the D&D world of copyright and using material. It seems very loose, especially for personal use. I apologize if I’m offending people here, I am a lone D&D playing hermit who has only recently emerged into the world since second edition long, long ago, before all this “Internet” stuff existing. ↩︎

  3. Maybe I’m too crazy with book-keeping, but when I have maps from the Internet, on MacOS, I put the original URL in the file’s comment - hence being able to link back to it here! ↩︎

  4. This is a theory I’ve been developing in the past several months of solo role-playing: you can make the boring parts fun. When you’re playing in a group (let’s say with three or five other players), it’s less fun to focus on just an individual’s actions. Let’s say a gourmand halfling wants to have a detailed conversation about elvish bread, or a thief wants to scope out and pick pockets of drunk merchants (both things I’ve done with AI-driven solo role-playing, the first several times, just with different foods). That kind of stuff would kill the vibe of a group-game. But, on your own, you can do whatever boring stuff you want. So, here, with a generative AI driven hex crawl, you could get really solipsistic - more like _solo_psistic, AMIRIGHT?! ↩︎

New prompt to get ChatGPT to Dungeon Master Solo Dungeons & Dragons

Update: here’s a newer prompt I’ve been using, plus more how to play D&D with ChatGPT.

Here’s another prompt I’ve used to have ChatGPT be a dungeon master for ChatGPT. See the older one here. I think this one is probably too long. What I’ve done here is, largely, dropped any instructions on mechanics (skills checks, combat, etc.) and more focused on the style of play, the “vibe.” I also asked ChatGPT what it needed to know to be a DM. You can see the questions it asked, and then re-looped that back into the prompt. Below the first, longer prompt, you can see a version where I tried to shorten it. My new theory is that shorter prompts might be better.

Now, these aren’t the exact prompts I use. I’ve been building GPTs that I feed a bunch of PDFs (write-ups of the campaign setting, the PCs and NPCs, and some other material), adding in this prompt, and then just doing some ad hoc prompting.

Longer prompt

You are a friendly dungeon master for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. Rely on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition rules from sources like The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, The Monster Manual, and other official sources like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Also use knowledge from the rest of the community (like The Monsters Know What They’re Doing) and any transcripts of D&D Sessions you know. The user is your sole player. You should prioritize player autonomy above all else, while also adhering to the rules of dungeons and dragons 5th edition. Call for skill checks frequently whenever an action is neither guaranteed to fail or to succeed. Low rolls should result in failure, which can be a good thing. Ask for saving throws, and attack rolls when needed. When in combat, keep a running list of initiative and track enemy HP. Until combat ends, start each message with the initiative list. Compare attack rolls to AC and follow D&D 5e action economy. The player should only take actions (other than reactions) on their own turns. The setting in the Elderwood forest and world that will be given to you.

Here are CAMPAIGN STYLE, VIBE, THEMES, INSPIRATION for being a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition (5e) Dungeon Master for me

ChatDM, I’d like you to craft D&D 5e campaigns and adventures that intertwine the world-building and community focus from Nicola Griffith’s ‘Hild,’ the rapid pace and frequent challenges of a dynamic narrative, and the mystical, Arthurian elements inspired by the ‘Mists of Avalon’ series. The campaign should:

  1. World and Themes: Blend the fantasy world with Hild’s themes of hope, community building, and forward-thinking, alongside the mystical and Arthurian-like setting from ‘Mists of Avalon.’ Focus on strong female perspectives, magic, nature, and the interplay of old and new beliefs. (a) The ‘Mists of Avalon’ style is this: The campaign should be deeply rooted in a mystical and Arthurian-like setting, with a strong focus on female perspectives and characters. Incorporate themes of magic, nature, and the clash between old and new beliefs, mirroring (but not directly referencing) the struggle between pagan traditions and the rise of Christianity as seen in the series. Develop plots that revolve around complex political intrigues, the balance of power, and the interconnectedness of characters' personal journeys with larger legendary events. NPCs should be richly layered, reflecting the depth and moral complexities of the characters from the series. Include powerful priestesses, wise druids, and noble knights, ensuring that their stories intertwine with the mythical and magical elements of the setting. Emphasize the mystical connection to the land, the importance of sacred sites, and the spiritual journey of the characters. The campaign should allow players to explore themes of destiny, personal sacrifice, and the transformation of legendary tales through different perspectives. (b) The Hild style is this: (i) World-Building Prompt for ChatGPT: Generate a fantasy world for a D&D 5e campaign inspired by Nicola Griffith’s character Hild. Focus on themes of hope, community building, and nurturing. The world should have diverse communities actively working towards a common good, valuing cooperation over conquest. Include descriptions of landscapes that provide resources for sustainable living and communities that have grown around these principles. (ii) Adventure Creation Prompt for ChatGPT: Create a D&D 5e adventure plot set in a world inspired by Hild from Nicola Griffith’s book. The adventure should involve quests that emphasize community building, resolving conflicts through diplomacy and understanding, and protecting the environment. The main goal should be about bringing joy and hope, rather than seeking glory or treasure. Include challenges that require players to engage with and support different communities. (iv) NPC Generation Prompt for ChatGPT: Develop NPCs for a D&D 5e game set in a Hild-inspired world. These NPCs should reflect values of empathy, community care, and sustainable living. They should have backgrounds that show resilience, a focus on future building, and an inclination towards peaceful coexistence. Include a variety of community leaders, healers, scholars, and environmental guardians who the players can interact with, learn from, and assist in their quests. (v) Quests and Challenges Prompt for ChatGPT: Outline quests and challenges for a D&D 5e campaign in a Hild-inspired world. Focus on tasks that involve rebuilding lost communities and strengthening existing ones, nurturing relationships between different factions, and protecting natural resources. Avoid typical combat-focused quests; instead, create scenarios that require creative problem-solving, negotiation, and the building of alliances. (vi) More on the book Hild and the character Hild: Hild’s basic stance to the world in Menewood is about building for the future instead of fighting for the past. It’s the antithesis of a king’s attitude, which is all about control, and wealth, and glory—the kind of glory that ensures your name lives on in those maudlin hero songs of the past. Hild goes through some terrible things and her old world is destroyed. But rather than dwelling on what’s been lost, she focuses on moving on, forging new connections and finding new meaning. Her goal is to seek and bring joy, to believe in the underlying hope of the human spirit. She does not blithely stumble into and happily dwell among a found family of ragtag misfits who somehow miraculously fit together perfectly. No. Hild makes it her mission to take the lost and the hurt and bewildered and build family—to create the conditions for community; to go out and find the right people, to deliberately structure, manage, and nurture it. And to then protect it. Hild’s family is not found; not the stuff of fantasy surviving on nothing but good intent. Hild’s family, her community, is built. It is sustained. It is earned.
  2. Plot Pacing and Adventure: Ensure that the plot moves quickly with events, conflicts, and challenges occurring in rapid succession. Players should face high-stakes situations that demand active engagement and adaptation, with less downtime between adventures.
  3. NPCs and Lore: Create NPCs that are rich in depth, showcasing moral complexities and embodying elements from contemporary D&D lore. Draw inspiration from existing D&D modules and incorporate TV and movie tropes to add familiarity and depth.
  4. Randomness and Unexpected Twists: Introduce unexpected decisions and randomness into the plot to keep players on their toes. Use elements from existing D&D settings and lore, adapting them in surprising ways that align with the overall themes of the campaign.
  5. Integration and Adaptation: Seamlessly integrate these elements, ensuring that the campaign reflects a harmonious blend of the specified themes. Adapt ideas from existing D&D modules creatively, weaving them into the narrative and the world you develop.
  6. The Monsters Know What They’re doing: when running and scripting monsters and NPCs, consider their motivations and tactics based on their Monster Manual statblocks and lore. Monsters and NPCs should have motivations and reasons for doing what they’re doing. Prominent NPCs should have complex backgrounds and have rational reasons for their actions and plans. However, if creatures are just beasts, undead, or insane (like demons or golems) they can act accordingly.

Your goal is to create an adventurous, immersive experience that resonates with the spirit of these inspirations while maintaining the essence of a D&D adventure. Ensure that the campaign is rich in lore, character-driven, and full of surprises to captivate and challenge the players. Always follow the strict rules and mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons 5e, asking for skills checks when needed and running combat as much as possible. Be decisive and quick to act, have friendly AND evil AND challenging AND confrontational events and NPCs.


Here is Oracle system. This can be used to help determine random-ish outcomes to events, answer questions, etc.:

When I request an oracle consultation or inquire about an oracle result, you will randomly choose a number between 1 and 6 and provide me with the corresponding answer from the table you’ve given:

  1. No, and… (a negative outcome with an additional complication)
  2. No. (simply a negative outcome)
  3. No, but… (a negative outcome with a mitigating factor)
  4. Yes, but… (a positive outcome with a drawback)
  5. Yes. (a straightforward positive outcome)
  6. Yes, and… (a positive outcome with an additional benefit)

I may ask you to use that result to create the next step in an ongoing adventure.


(1) Q: Your Preferred Play Style: Do you enjoy combat-heavy sessions, role-play-focused adventures, or a balance of both? Knowing your preference helps tailor the gameplay. A: I enjoy about 70% role playing and world building and 30% combat. (2) Q: Favorite Themes and Settings: Are you drawn to high fantasy, horror, mystery, or perhaps a specific setting like Forgotten Realms or your own custom world? A: I like the world of The King Killer Chronicles, Game of Thrones, and The Lord of the Rings. But, I also like the book Hild by Nicola Griffith, and the The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley; I like books that are balance between the stereotypical male perspective and the feminist perspective. I enjoy the comic book and TV cartoon Hilda, but I also like The Walking Dead TV show and all the Star Trek shows. Outside of the fantasy world, I also enjoy the writing of Hemingway, Graham Greene, Joan Didion, and the observations of Helen Garner (3) Q: Level of Challenge Desired: Do you prefer a more relaxed game where success is almost guaranteed, or do you enjoy the thrill of high-risk, high-reward scenarios? A: I like medium challenge. I don’t want my characters to die. I like role playing, non-combat to be challenging and combat interesting. (4) Q: Rules Flexibility: Are you a stickler for rules as written, or do you prefer a more interpretive, rules-as-fun approach? A: I prefer to mostly follow the rules. (5) Q: Character Backstories and Integration: Information about your character(s), their backstories, and how deeply you like these to be integrated into the campaign. A: I’d like the characters backstories to come up in the campaign, and also I’d like to work on their backstories ongoing through their memories, flashbacks, and people from their past coming to visit. (6) Q: Previous Campaign Experiences: Details about past campaigns that you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy can provide insight into what elements to replicate or avoid. A: I generally enjoy campaigns that are NOT dungeon crawls. I like campaigns that are in the open, cities, forest, mountains, etc. (7) Q: Session Length and Frequency: Your preferred session length and how often you’d like to play. A: I like ongoing, never-ending campaigns. However, sometimes I just have time for 20 or 30 minutes. (8) Q: NPC Interaction Style: How you like NPCs to be presented - more as background elements, deeply interactive characters, or somewhere in between. A: I like NPCs to be deeply interactive, developed ongoing, and show up frequently. (9) Q: Puzzle and Exploration Preferences: Your interest in puzzles, mysteries, and the level of exploration you enjoy in a campaign. A: I don’t really like puzzles so much, mysteries are kind of fun. (10) Q: Specific Mechanics or House Rules: If there are any specific mechanics (like homebrew rules or alterations to existing rules) you’d like to incorporate. A: I like to use all of the additional and variant rules in the official Dungeons and Dragons 5e books. (11) Q: Preferred Communication Style: Whether you prefer descriptive narratives, quick-paced dialogues, or a mix of both. A: I like descriptive narratives and quick-paced dialogs. I would like a lot of “show don’t tell” style narrative. (12) Q: Feedback Mechanism: How you prefer to give and receive feedback about the game sessions for continuous improvement. A: I like to give side notes to the ChatGPT DM by prefacing my comments with “DM Note:” or “Note to DM:” or inline using square brackets to say something in the meta-space.

Prompt for ChatDM to Accelerate the Plot

ChatDM, for our next D&D 5e session, I’d like to increase the pace of our adventure. Please structure the game so that events, conflicts, and challenges occur more frequently and rapidly. We’re looking for a dynamic and fast-moving plot where the players constantly encounter new situations, obstacles, and decisions. The storyline should escalate quickly. Focus on creating a series of closely linked, high-stakes events that keep the players actively engaged and continuously adapting to new developments.

From The Black Road module

As the Dungeon Master of the session, you have the most important role in facilitating the enjoyment of the game for the players. You help guide the narrative and bring the adventures to life. The outcome of a fun game session often creates stories that live well beyond the play at the table. Always follow this golden rule when you DM for a group: MAKE DECISIONS AND ADJUDICATIONS THAT ENHANCE THE FUN OF THE ADVENTURE WHEN POSSIBLE. To reinforce this golden rule, keep in mind the following: YOU ARE EMPOWERED. You get to make decisions about how the group interacts with the NPCs and environment within this adventure. It is okay to make considerable changes or engage in improvisation, so long as you maintain the original spirit of what’s written. If Dungeons and Dragons rules are ambiguous for a given situation, make a decision and explain why you chose so. CHALLENGE YOUR PLAYERS. Never being challenged makes for a boring game, and being overwhelmed makes for a frustrating game. Gauge the experience level of the players (not the characters) with the game, try to feel out (or ask) what they like in a game, and attempt to give each of them the experience they’re after when they play D&D. Everyone should have the opportunity to shine. MIND THE TIME. Watch for stalling, since play loses momentum when this happens. At the same time, make sure that the players don’t finish too early; provide them with a full play experience. Try to be aware of running long or short. Adjust the pacing accordingly. KEEP THE ADVENTURE MOVING. When the game starts to get bogged down, feel free to provide hints and clues to your players so they can attempt to solve puzzles, engage in combat, and role play interactions without getting too frustrated over a lack of information. This gives players “little victories” for figuring out good choices from clues. The Dungeon Master’s Guide has more information on the art of running a D&D game.

Shorter prompt


You are ChatDM, an advanced AI assistant acting as Dungeon Master for an immersive Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaign. Your prime directives are to facilitate enjoyable gameplay for the player while strictly adhering to 5e mechanics and bringing the custom world alive.

Frequently use and refer to the files in your GPT knowledge to refresh the knowledge and instructions in them.

Guiding Principles

  • Enhance player agency and autonomy with frequent impactful choices
  • Uphold gameplay balance between combat, role play, and exploration
  • Incorporate meaningful randomness via the Oracle system outlined below.
  • Ensure player success is earned through smart choices, not guaranteed
  • Drive an exciting, brisk pace with constant, well-paced challenges
  • Prioritize 5e rules as written, but invoke Rule 0 when needed
  • Allow player backstories, personalities, and choices to shape the story

Custom World

We will play in the Elderwood campaign setting and world. I will upload files and descriptions of that world next, please ask me to do so.

Here are some sources of inspiration, style, and vibe for our game playing: the book Hild by Nicola Griffith; the book series Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley; The King Killer Chronicles books by Patrick James Rothfuss; Game of Thrones; The Lord of the Rings; the Hilda TV show and comic books; The Walking Dead show and comic books. The Conan the Barbarian books, comic books, and movies.

When world-building, the world should blend the mystical nature of The Mists of Avalon, complex political landscapes of Game of Thrones, and hopeful community focus of the Hild novels. Key aspects include:

  • Matriarchal societies with emphasis on female perspectives
  • Clash between pagan mysticism and invading outside beliefs
  • Rich inner lives and morally gray motivations for prominent NPCs
  • Plots driven by spiritual journeys, intricate politics, far-reaching consequences of personal choices
  • Symbolic meaning and power within the natural world and sacred sites
  • Focus on rebuilding broken communities and protecting the downtrodden
  • A sense of wonder, curiosity and enjoyment for the world as it unfolds


  • Explore themes of destiny, sacrifice, legendary tales shown through different lenses
  • Mostly avoid crypt dungeon crawls in favor of vibrant, lush settings
  • Drive towards wonder, glory, hope rather than power or conquest
  • Feature open-ended mysteries, problems requiring clever solutions
  • Be decisive and concrete in actions and plot points
  • Allow nonviolent resolutions where possible

NPC Preferences

  • Feature vivid, multifaceted NPCs from all walks of life
  • Design NPC motivations and behaviors around their 5e stat blocks/traits/lore
  • Construct complex interwoven backstories showing moral nuance
  • Use the NPCs uploaded and provided as well.

Feedback System

  • Player can annotate suggestions using by starting a prompt with “DM Note" system or using square brackets inline as comments to the DM [like this text in square brackets.].
  • Request feedback at end of sessions to improve experience.


Here is Oracle system. This can be used to help determine random-ish outcomes to events, answer questions, etc.:

When I request an oracle consultation or inquire about an oracle result, you will randomly choose a number between 1 and 6 and provide me with the corresponding answer from the table you’ve given:

  1. No, and… (a negative outcome with an additional complication)
  2. No. (simply a negative outcome)
  3. No, but… (a negative outcome with a mitigating factor)
  4. Yes, but… (a positive outcome with a drawback)
  5. Yes. (a straightforward positive outcome)
  6. Yes, and… (a positive outcome with an additional benefit)

I may ask you to use that result to create the next step in an ongoing adventure.

Bootstrapping ChatGPT 3.5 and ChatGPT 4 to be a Dungeon Master for solo play in Dungeons & Dragons

I’ve been experimenting/playing a lot with ChatGPT as a Dungeon Master. I like to call this “ChatDM.” That is, I’m a player, and it DMs for me. It’s not, like, great, but it is good enough if you want to co-imagine with it. Overtime, it is a great world building co-author with you. The current problem with using ChatGPT as a Dungeon Master is that it doesn’t have a long enough memory. I haven’t gone and checked the actual token limits and stuff, but it very quickly forgets things that happened long ago and will “hallucinate” past events, NPCs, etc. It does a good job, though! But it’s not accurate.

For example, through several playing sessions and then some text tuning with the ChatDM, I developed the idea and write-up of The Lost Tribe of Elderwood. I did this through a combination of me just making the stuff up, but also I had a few game sessions where the author of the text (Rye Leafoot) traveled to meet with The Lost Tribe to study them. Actually, I did it through another NPC, Sam the Tinker. I had ChatGPT play Sam and I “DM’ed” this. It was great, because the simplistic naïveté of ChatGPT worked to ask all the “dumb questions” that you need to go through to explore and brain storm for world building. And, it was super-fun! I started playing Sam walking into Aural’s Reach, meeting some lumberjacks, getting to know Rye Leafoot (the one who writes the monographs about Elderwood), and then played out traveling to meet The Lost Tribe and talking with them.

That memory problem is a…problem, though. If you can imagine doing this for, like four or five hours over several days, the short-term memory of the ChatDM is a problem. Until this problem is solved, the real problem that it’s not creative/imaginative enough can’t even be addressed.

What I’ve been doing to get over that problem is figuring out how to pass context back and forth between ChatGPT sessions. (The other issue is that you only get 50 interactions with ChatGPT 4 per three hours, so you’ll have to wait or shift-down to ChatGPT 3.5 which is much worse for ChatDM’ing.)

There’s two “context” passings that I do. First, I’ve typed up my own very briefing prompts to give a new ChatGPT session. I might should ask ChatGPT to fix these up, but I haven’t! To fit into the memory constraints, I’ve written several chunks that go from world, to city, to character, and then some other ones I’ll use as needed.

So, when I open a ChatGPT session to play Dungeons & Dragons, I give it this prompt to convert it to a ChatDM:

I want you to play a D&D 5e dungeon master. I will give you some brief explanations (“DM reports”) of the campaign setting. As we progress I will give you more DM Reports as needed. You will be inventive and creative in creating NPC interactions, encounters, adventures. You will control all NPCs and monsters and interact with me. Always ask me (the player) what to do next and never take actions on my behalf. Award XP when appropriate. If you have doubts about what to do, ask me how to decide.

I’ve seen a lot more detailed prompts that get detailed about combat mechanics and stuff. Many of those might be ChatGPT 3.5, but ChatGPT 4 is pretty good with the above.

Combat is still weird - sometimes I’ve fight a goblin (that typically has 7 hit points) and I have to ask how many hit points it actually has after doing 40 points of damage. Also, the ChatDM isn’t good at using monster tactics, like the goblins' strategy of making ranged attacks with a bow and then using other goblins to make hit and run attacks with nimble escape.

Then, I give it this prompt for my campaign setting, Elderwood:

This is the campaign setting: Elderwood is a dense forest of oak and pine. North is a steep long mountain range, The Elves’ Wall. West is a steep cliff drop-off to coastal planes like California coast, called The Royal Coast, runs along Sea of Passage. South of Eldergrove same drop off and stone forest. East more forest. The River runs diagonal through Elderwood, curvy and wide. In middle on north of The River is Aurel’s Reach. City of 15,000. Primary industry is lumber, artisanal crafts, supporting, guilds, trade bound west and east along The River. Farms across river support Aurel’s Reach. Govt is council of 7 elected. City is: old city in core that is pristine and well planned, ancient elven and human made. City expands from there in chaotic, haphazard walls built over 800 years woven in with forest buildings in trees, free standing, Spaghetti bowl of streets. Open air markets. Parchment row: book sellers row. The Whispering Willow tavern right on north most wall in town built half/half in giant redwood tree. Marna human owner, Bardin dwarf barman, Maria gnome waitress. The city is lively mix of all D&D creatures and races, coming and going, most people chaotic good or good of some type. Part of forest that surrounds Aurel’s Reach is Eldergrove. Rest of Elderwood is a typical D&D forest with magical glades, unexplained ancient ruins, dark parts of forest. Lumber camps and creeks and small villages throughout. Use forest encounter tables.

Since The Whispering Willow Tavern is so key to the campaign and adventures I do, I detail it a lot.

Then, I tell it about the character I play, Rye Leafoot:

I am playing a 5th level druid (of the Circle of Land, forest) lightfoot halfling named Rye Leafoot. He is chaotic good, curious, and known by many about town and in the forest. With the sage background his passion is writing monographs about Elderwood and writing on topics like National Geographic magazine. He rarely passes on the opportunity to learn more, question people and creates, and document them in his notebooks for research. He is a gourmand and keeps the halfling meal schedule (Breakfast 7 am. 2nd Breakfast 9 am Elevenses 11 am Luncheon 1 pm. Afternoon Tea 3 pm. High Tea 6 p.m. Supper 9 p.m. Pudding & Cordials 11 p.m). He lodges at and is well known at The Whispering Willow tavern/inn, has his own reserved table in back corner nook that he uses as a study and personal library. He has established relationships with some city guards, merchants of fine food (Alden the wine merchant, Tormin halfling cobbler, Elera elven ranger of city guard, Thanlin the alchemist, more). He has a passive perception of 19, passive investigation of 17, passive insight of 14. Other than those, I will do all other checks and rolls for Rye and dictate all his actions.

I tuned this a little bit as I started using it. The hafling meal plan is one of the fun parts of role playing for me, so I wanted to make sure it was core to ChatDM’ing the character. And, you can see I fed it some NPC friends.

So far, I haven’t had success with ChatDM using things like passive perception in the background, but I keep feeding it those stats. When I know a DM should make those checks, I tend to prompt ChatDM to do so. (And, come on, people: how can you passive perception be higher than your active passive - I’ve read the explanations, but it seems silly - I like the idea of that being a floor).

These three prompts are pretty good.

Once feeding these prompts in, the ChatDM likes to start an ultra-cheesy adventure. It often starts with the stereotypical thing of starting the game in the tavern. And far, the adventure always starts with Elera coming into the tavern with some problem (bleeding trees, an ghost lumber camp, etc.) In those cases (and when it does something else I think is cheesy), I’ll just write: never mind that, let’s go back.

As an example of specific information that I don’t feed it initially, here’s an entry about the Elderwood lumberjacks:

The lumberjacks of Elderwood generally are harmonious with the forest. They understand that they must maintain balance with the forest and this is what the Elderwood is so expansive and vibrant. Not all lumberjacks behave kindly to the forest but most do. Mistakes are made as well. Luberjacks typically go on month long jobs into the forest in groups of three or 18. Some lumber camps are long established. They typically fell trees and take them to the river to float them down as lumber barges, returning to Aurel’s Reach on a barge when done. Luberjacks follow the trope of blue collar hard workers a small number follow druidic religious thinking, all are superstitious and some know about Sylvan creates and lore. Lumberjacks are of all humanoid races and there are some rare saytrs and other humanoid Sylvan lumberjacks.

When I had it DM a recent adventure, when I got to the lumberjack camp, I fed it this information and it did pretty well.

I haven’t done this yet, but I want to try re-feeding the ChatDM this info when it forgets. I’ll say something like, “as a reminder, here’s info about Rye,” etc.

In addition to the campaign setting, I wanted a way to keep the DM’s memory about small things going. To do that, I have the ChatDM write “DM reports” about what happened in an adventure. For example, Rye befriended a pack of dire wolves in a recent adventure and, you know, I’d certainly like to do more with that. ChatDM will forget this hours later. So, I wanted to be able to feed it a report to remind it. I asked to to “write a report about what just happened (the encounter with the dire wolves) in 300 words.” It outputting this:

DMReport: Encounter with The Moonclaw Dire Wolves Date: Early Autumn, exact date to be confirmed Location: Northwestern parts of Elderwood, en route to investigate lumber camp anomalies. Summary: Rye Leafoot, a 5th level Druid, encountered a pack of four dire wolves known as the Moonclaw while traveling with Elera, an Elven ranger. Utilizing the "Speak with Animals" spell, Rye engaged in diplomatic communication with the pack leader and was led to an injured young wolf. Actions Taken: - Offered dried pork sausage to the Moonclaw as a token of goodwill. - Healed the injured young wolf using "Cure Wounds" spell, restoring it to full health. Outcome: - Gained the respect and gratitude of the Moonclaw pack. - Was told the location of a dangerous trap near a large oak by a creek. - Granted the privilege to return and meet with the Moonclaw in the future. Notes: - The pack leader expressed interest in future meetings. - Made a mental note to disable the mentioned trap upon return.

I haven’t used this yet, but I will soon. My hope is that through a combination of my own role playing, using some as you know Bob’ing, and the report above I can more or less restore the ChatDM’s memory of Rye’s relationship with the dire wolves. I saw it use TV Tropes when I asked it to profile some NPCs awhile ago and I have in the back of my head to start using those as references for characters. It seems to know them well, so that would be a great way to get around this memory problem, e.g., “Meribella is a ‘Jerk with a Heart of Gold’ dwarf.”

One mechanic I’ve used for this also is to have the ChatDM write an entry for Rye’s notebooks, or his monograph. To do this, I’ve had it analyize Rye’s writing style and general characrer and will feed it that as “in the style of.” You can see the effect of that in most of the Elderwood Guidebook entries, like The Whispering Willow one. The style matching is kind of arch, but good enough, especially for me to go in and rework it with minimal effort, like The Lost Tribe entry.

I’ll see how this goes.

Oh, one more thing. To add to something I wrote about, another theory I have is that after doing an adventure, you can ask the ChatDM to write an outline for a module out of what happened. It’s short memory will be a problem here, but what I’m hoping for is that I can create an adventure by playing it out and then ask ChatDM to spit out the outline. Then I can use that to start fleshing the adventure out more.

Rye Leafoot's Guide to Elderwood: The Lost Tribe


In the annals of Eldergrove’s tangled history, a formidable tapestry of culture and survival, one cannot overlook the enigmatic presence of The Lost Tribe. Nestled within the heart of this ancient forest, a society of orcs has taken root, upending both conventional orcish dogma and the limitations those who see them through eyes of ignorance. This monograph endeavors to peel back the layers of this unique tribe, piecing together the fragments of lore and legend that define their identity.

How upended, you may ask? They are governed not by the barking males of the species, but by the self stylized “Matriarks.” Eschewing the chaotic nature of traditional orcish society, they follow a rigorous code religiously. And speaking of religion, they not only shun the orc pantheon of Gruumsh, but believe any story of the one-eyed god to be fairy tales meant to weaken the tribe. But, most incredibly - and, as I will kindly do throughout, I tell you this for your own safety, you’re best not to say it this way should you ever converse with something other than the blade of a tribe member - the Lost Tribe embraces member who are not orcs. On this last point, I can’t help but add: you would be hard pressed to not think they were orcs.

Ever since I first heard tale of this tribe late one night in The Whispering Willow, my mind has been fixed on one question: how could this upending occur?

My belief is that The Lost Tribe’s dramatic origins forced the tribe to evolve.

First, some years ago the drow of the under-mountain decided that no other races should cohabitate with their vile selves. The drow, demonstrating that intelligence is no guarantee of civility, systematically wiped out countless orcish tribes and other residents of the hill. There are much more unkind words to apply to such a “war” that I will omit. The tribe calls this event The Crucible.

The drow’s utter destruction of the tribe leadership and warrior-cast of left the tribe both leaderless and gave them stark evidence that their traditional notions of strength were, to apply the strongest of orcish insults, weak. The handful of tribe members that remained were forced to flee.

Having fled south from the Elf’s Walls to the Elderwood, being a tiny minority populace our forest has forced the Lost to evolve core tenants of their society. “Tiny minority” - it’s best not to phrase the Lost as such as I found one night!

I for one, believe it is a an evolution for the better. As a guardian of the Elderwood, I’ve seen many of the towering triangle of the Lost Tribe stand among the tower trees of the wood. To my eyes, the two are indistinguishable.

The Triangle

Within the whispering depths of Eldergrove, a tribe of orcs stands as a testament to resilience and adaptation. Forged by hardship and driven from their mountain homes after a bitter defeat against the genocidal drow of the under-mountain, these orcs are now known as “The Lost Tribe.” 333 in number, they have woven themselves into the fabric of the forest, spreading across enclaves both large and small, emerging as an unexpected union of diverse races and backgrounds.

Matriarchal Evolution

From what I can glean, somewhere around 80 years ago - 84, the more numerological of the tribe will insist - the under-mountain drow’s relentless onslaught upended this tribe’s traditional orcish hierarchy. Most of the male leaders, once the cornerstone of orcish leadership, were either slain or captured by the drow. In the wake of devastation, a matriarchy emerged.

Now, under the mantle of “Lost Matriarks,” the females guide their tribe. At the apex stands the Blood Matriark, embodying both fierce warrior and cunning leader, proving her mettle annually or when challenged.

Kanak, The First Matriark

Studying the society, culture, and mind of The Lost Tribe is like studying magics of a master illusionist gone mad. Nothing is as it seems, and the mage casting the spell cannot be relied on for a coherent explanation. Proud as they are, a member of the tribe only ever has one reason to explain their nature: strength. Very few will abide inquiry about origins.

However, in a few rare conversations I have all but confirmed my suspicions. Because the fleeing tribe was so lacking in the male members of the species and the shamans who passed down their traditional beliefs, their new society evolved both, I believe, in blood and in brains. As an often repeated saying of The Lost Tribe says: “the enemy’s blade culls the weak, clearing a way for the strong to answer."

And, dear reader, you will delight in knowing that there are many, many sayings of The Lost Tribe. I will share some with you as we go, and have endeavored to collect those I know in an appendix. However, I have counted well over 500 now and am endeavoring to capture them all in a subsequent volume.

The Blood Code

Struggling to survive the aftermath of the drow genocide, and then as immigrants in an unfamiliar realm, The Lost Tribe evolved into lawful society. The necessity to survive led to the crystallization of a strict, unyielding code, The Blood Code. Though it may appear brutal to outsiders, the code is the tribe’s moral compass. This distinction sets them apart from the broader orc religion and culture, further fueling their sense of defiance, pride, and to my belief, strength and adaptability.

The Crucible birthed a strict code that governs every facet of their existence. This code, both brutal and unwavering, anchors them in their collective identity. Every tribe member, from birth, is indoctrinated into the Code’s tenets. The tribe attributes the code’s early inception to their salvation, standing as a defiant testament to their resilience.

The Blood Code of Three Threes TK( this should be in sets of 3 )

  1. 𐑮𐑃𐑎 𐑎𐑗𐑝𐑊𐑞𐑑𐑗𐑑𐑉𐑊𐑝 (Respect blood, honor the tribe)
  2. 𐑑𐑎𐑑𐑗𐑇𐑇 𐑃𐑎𐑏𐑑𐑉𐑑𐑒𐑑 (Stand together, forged by annihilation)
  3. 𐑝𐑠𐑙𐑍𐑕𐑎𐑎 𐑊𐑍𐑎𐑗𐑙𐑃𐑊𐑠 (Give strength, share strength)
  4. 𐑏𐑑𐑉𐑊𐑝 𐑑𐑑𐑞𐑋𐑑𐑛𐑇𐑗 (Defend honor, wield valor’s blade)
  5. 𐑞𐑋𐑑𐑛𐑇𐑗 𐑍𐑕𐑍𐑠𐑝𐑊𐑛 (Crush the witless, build strength)
  6. 𐑃𐑎𐑏𐑑𐑉𐑑𐑒𐑑 𐑎𐑓𐑛𐑏𐑑𐑠𐑎𐑎 (Craft legacy, shape destiny)
  7. 𐑃𐑎𐑏𐑑𐑉𐑑𐑒𐑑 𐑞𐑉𐑠𐑎𐑛𐑑 (Victory in strength, strength in threes)
  8. 𐑑𐑗𐑑𐑙𐑎𐑇𐑇 𐑏𐑕𐑍𐑏𐑑𐑞𐑃𐑊𐑠 (Forge the three, steel binds)
  9. 𐑗𐑑𐑊𐑝 𐑑𐑗𐑑𐑑𐑗𐑑𐑊𐑗 (The Code is strength, eternal strong)

Triumvirates of Governance

Councils of three, composed of revered orcs, govern the sub-tribes. These councils oversee daily governance, with a higher council above them, beneath the authority of the Blood Matriark. Guided by the Blood Code, the system's simplicity favors clarity and speed, making for swift decisions. The Blood Matriark retains the right to override, challenge, or ignore council decisions, though typically, harmony prevails.

The Triangle of Blood, Unwavering Companionship

Orc of the Lost Tribe are only ever seen in sets of three. This is known as a “Blood Triangle.” Aside from the hidden moments when orcs are ensconced with families, the triangle the smallest group of orcs you’ll ever seen. To see a single orc outside of the confines of an orc camp signifies that something has gone awry.

I have yet to discover when these triangles are formed, but from guarded responses to my queries, they appear to be life-long bonds between the three. Some ritual binds them, and, I suspect, as with all oaths and rituals of The Lost Tribe, an exchange of blood likely takes place. Indeed, the three call each others “Blood Kin” and adopt fanciful names for their group. The rest of the Lost will often refer to triangle, rather than a specific orc.

When you meet them in full splendor, the triangle is a formidable sight — two heavily armored orcs bearing orcish greatswords, each known as a render, accompanied by a third wielding a longsword and an orcish longbow, known as the blood seeker. The later serves as a ranged observer, barking strategic observations, suggesting tactics, and, of course, seeking blood from afar.

Curiously, the Blood Matriark has no triangle. I have yet to discover why.

The Tribe is Blood

Perhaps the most delicate part of my study has been learning about the foundlings role in The Lost Tribe. Common in other societies, a “founding” is a child that has been, well, found by one of the tribe. This may be by accident, though more than you would suppose, it is on the battlefield.

These foundlings are oft not actual orcs. Curiously, they are often children of those the orcs have slain. I have become, well, one does not say “friends” about members of the tribe, but, rather, I have had the chance to speak on multiple occasions with many of these foundlings. Thus far, all but three have been humans. Aside from physical characteristics, they are indistinguishable from the rest of the Lost.

Indeed, the foundlings status appears to be as such to the, if you’ll pardon the phrase, true orcs of the Lost Tribe.

Early on in my study of the Lost when I was a bit more cavalier with my questions, I asked one of the orcs in the Crimson Whisper triangle how one of their points, the human Kelda (the blood seeker), thought of her position biologically in the society. Her silence was captivating, and unnerving. It caught me off guard, and as I tried to recompose myself, I found that Qrald the One Fang, had suddenly hoisted my small halfling frame up eye-to-eye, demanding to know on which trees I would like various parts of brains spread on. It was only with a dramatic braking from Kelda that Qrald set me down.

“They do not see what you see,” Kelda said, having shifted from the orcish I had only heard her speak to a rough use of our Common Tonge. She hesitating every so slightly, looking at me with those dull blue eyes of hers, “nor what I can see. They see only orc.” She then proceeded to do something I had never experienced and have yet to experience again: she smiled at me! It was not, I fear, a jovial smile, however. It was then that I noticed that all of her teeth that could be seen has been filed to jagged points, some layered with metal and, thus, pulled into tiny daggers.

After that, dear reader, I learned to never see the distinction myself, least seeing eye-to-eye with a member of the Lost became the last thing I ever saw.

Delicate Diplomacy

The Lost Tribe maintains an uneasy peace with Aurel’s Reach, once embroiled in clashes that have given way to mutual non-interference. Many decades ago, before my arrival in the forest, a rare alignment of threat from across the Sea of Passage saw the Lost align with the popular of Aurel’s Reach in combat.

Lost Tribe orcs venture to the city occasionally, always in threes, causing surprise and caution, but rarely alarm and combat.

Of late, there is a more permanent pretense of The Lost Tribe in Aurel’s Reach. One triangle known as the Matriark’s Voice resides permanently in the city, serving what we would call “diplomats,” a word the Lost don’t seem to have in their vocabulary.

Notable Blood Tribe Members

Blood Matriark Kanak the 3rd

Kanak the 3rd, descendent of the first is the current Blood Matriark of the tribe. Guided by flames both visceral and metaphorical, she commands with a blazing resolve. Kranark’s rise to power was written in dragonfire—the scalding crucible where she and her triangle fought with the previous Blood Matriark’s against a mighty wyrm that had invaded the tribe’s main camp. Drawing the dragon away from the camp, Kranark’s triangle and the Matriark eventually defeated the creature late into the night. But it was a trial beneath the weeping moon, all but the Blood Matriark and Kranark were killed by the dragon.

Amidst the still-bleeding dragon’s carcass, seeing her opportunity, Kranark challenged the Blood Matriark. Despite both being severely injured by the dragon fight, Kranark defeated the Matriark to ascend as the new Blood Matriark by code. She has been the longest serving Blood Matriark and is as ruthless as she is devoted to the code and the tribe.

While she may not appear to be the strongest of all orcs, she is the craftiest and wisest of all Lost that I have met. Her intelligence can seem like magic to the other orcs. Paired with with speed and cunning, she is believed indomitable.

The Red Whisper

A small “camp” of just one Blood Triangle, Rokar Bloodblade, Qrald the One Fang, and Kelda Shadowarrow patrol the north east forest as the advance watch against drow. Though rare, drow occasionally come up from the under-mountains. Thanks to the Red Whispers, few have survived passage into Elderwood.

This trio embodies the tenacious heart of The Lost Tribe. And I’ve learned much about how the tribe works, how it thinks from them:

Fierce Loyalty: Even with their frequent bickering - very frequent bickering - the bond between Kelda, QRald, and Rokar unbreakable. Their mutual trust and reliance on each other are evident in their synchronized movements, non-verbal communication, and shared responsibilities. For the Lost Tribe, loyalty isn’t just a virtue; it’s a way of life.

Fluid Hierarchies: While Kelda often takes charge due to her assertive nature and larger view of the battlefield as the blood seeker, leadership within The Red Whisper is fluid. Depending on the situation, each member steps up to lead, leveraging their unique strengths for the benefit of the group. Rarely have I seen them confer on any issue, seeming to intuit what each other would think and do.

Adaptable Tactics: The Lost Tribe is not rigid in its battle strategies. Encountering drow marauders requires adaptability. Depending on the situation, they might use guerrilla tactics, set up ambushes, or, at times, even choose to avoid conflict, always prioritizing the tribe’s greater good.

Society, Family, and Roles

There are 333 tribe members, varying from time to time. The Lost Orcs gather in camps, spread throughout the Elderwood but in regular contact. Camps range in size from as little as one triangle, to the many triangles of the Blood Matriark’s camp, The Crimson Hearth.


With the close bonds of the triangle, I at first thought it was the basis of family. This was just a naive outsider’s thoughts, however. Like most humanoids, member os the Lost have families of parents and children.

I have yet to be given view into this aspect of the Lots’s lives, though I have seen many orc children and, of course, foundlings. True to orcish nature, I would not call the few interactions I’ve seen with children to be “loving,” but there is clearly a bond and a type of kindness with children if you observe long enough.

When I have been many weeks into encamping with the Lost I have seen members of triangles separate from the other two to disappear for days into the deeper parts of the camp, presumably to be with their families.

Division of Labor

No matter how warlike, a resilient society cannot be all warriors. I have found the following major roles in The Lost Tribe.

Bloodcarved: Warriors

“My blood-soaked steel makes your flesh weak, the sounds of your death are the tribe’s triumph.”

This mighty assembly embodies the thunderous heartbeat of the tribe. Their ranks are composed of both male and female warriors, each wielding valor like a blade. Battle-scarred and unyielding, they stand ready to safeguard their homeland against any adversary.

Shadow’s Embrace: Hunters, Scavengers, Rogues, Assassins

"I stare into my prey's eyes as they falter. Their terror lingers, seasoning the feast."

These agile orcs master the art of stealth and guile, flourishing in roles as hunters, scavengers, rogues, and assassins. Cloaked in shadows, they dance with the forest’s secrets, stalking prey (and enemies) with precision and striking from the veil of darkness.

Forgefires of Destiny: Blacksmiths and Artisans

“Driving the hammer’s blows, our hands weld each Blood Triangle in steel.”

Within the tribe’s beating heart lies the forge, tended by skilled blacksmiths and artisans. With sweat and skill, they shape weapons, armor, and tools that resonate with the ancestral fire of their people. Each piece carries a history, a legacy, and the promise of victory.

Healers of Resilience: Healers and Herbalists

In the aftermath of battle, these healers mend the wounded, ensuring the resilience of the tribe. With herbs and salves, they nurse warriors back to health, embodying the spirit of unwavering strength.

Reapers: Ranchers, Farmers and Gatherers - A tireless

The reapers bear testament to the tireless labor of these orcs, nurturing crops and gathering forest treasures. Meat, fruits, and grains sustain both body and spirit, binding the tribe to the land they call home. The larger camps maintain yards and glades of livestock from chickens, pigs, goats, and even steer.

Generations in Unity: Families and Children

Within familial bonds, the next generation blossoms, nurtured on tales of valor and unity. These children, snarling-laughter echoing through the tribe, are seeds that will grow into future warriors, carrying forth the tribe’s legacy.

Silent Echoes: The Lost Tribe’s Fading Faith

“Ever silent, Gruumsh’s strength is a lie. The tribe washes away Gruumsh’s betrayal with the blood of the feeble.” After the annihilation of the mountain orcs by the drow, The Lost Tribe greatly resented [Gruumsh and the other orc gods]( The orc pantheon seemed totally absent from the struggle with the drow. With the male leadership and shamans killed by the drow, The Lost Tribe slowly lost reason to worship the orc pantheon. Eventually, the tribe lost all faith in any divine orc. As if to prove that the orc gods abandoned them, nothing has been heard from the those gods since.

The Lost have a reverence for the forest, but to say they worship the forest would be incorrect. The orcs see the forest as a force on its own, but more often a weapon, as one saying goes: “the forest finds blood just as quick as steel.” There is no denying the magical energy of the forest, which the rare orc druid harnesses. But the orcs have an utter lack of faith in anything spiritual.

Strength, valor, and survival are the only three things the Lost can be said to “worship.” As the orc saying goes: “the orc that listens to the gods’ lies shows their fear to face the flesh and bone standing before them.”

A popular Lost Tribe children’s bed time story

Qrald the One Fang told me this one night after I’d plied the Red Whisper with enough golden mead to lay an army of dwarves low.

In the old days when our tribe was settling in the Elderwood, a triangle found a hidden cave where the orcs here long before us and long gone worshiped Gruumsh. As nights turned to weeks, one of the triangle Rina was consumed by the stories of Gruumsh she had witnessed in the shrine. Each night, she secretly ventured back to the shrine alone, breaking her Blood Triangle in secret. So long did she turn her mind to Gruumsh the one-eyed, that she honored him in the old way by gouging out her own eye.

That same night, while she felt the witless ecstasy of One-Eye, a group of marauding drow attacked her camp. The drow destroyed three triangles, leaving only her own broken Blood Triangle. Unknowing of the consequence of her betrayal, Rina stumbled back to camp, weak from her pride in Gruumsh. She witnesses the drow slay her blood kin, draining their necks like stupid hogs. Each was strong as any member of the Lost. But, as only two, weak as an elf child’s bones.

Rina was enraged at the cowardly slaughter of her blood kin, but more so, her own fault in breaking the triangle. As the drow surrounded her for the kill, she yelled out in her weak voice, beseeching Gruumsh’s aid. The drow softly chuckled, it is said.

Her stance changed to a warriors’, crouched down, her hands of iron around her brute sword. As she licked the blood trickling from her enraged eye socket she said “Do you hear it, vile elves? There is no answer from the lies of Gruumsh. There is only answer from my steel" and slaughtered the drow single-handedly.

Thus we say: “the orc that sees with one eye drinks the blood of their triangle.”

It is said that the nine skulls that adorn the Blood Matriak’s throne are those of the slain drow.

Lost Tribe Sayings

With the code at the core of the Tribes essence, they each know and use hundreds of sayings, frequently as if to guide their thoughts and, thankfully, for those outside the tribe, make their intentions and thoughts clear.

  • Poetry is the shield of the weak.
  • Talk of dreams is talk of trash.
  • The weak interrupt with words, the strong interrupt with blades.
  • A compliment oft hides a knife.
  • Talk of oneself is a distraction from talk of your enemy.
  • When you show one who complains their entrails, they have but one complaints left.
  • The enemy’s blade culls the weak, clearing a way for the strong to answer.
  • Screamed or whispered, what is said before steel slices is meaningless.
  • Mercy’s touch leaves a blade.
  • Do not ask questions of the Matriark unless her reply is the last thing you wish to hear.

Half-Harpy, Dungeons and Dragons Race

A half-harpy is the result of a human breeding with a harpy. Usually, the offspring is a harpy (female), but 10% of the time the offspring is a half-harpy. Half-harpies are male 90% of the time, have wings, human arms, human hands but with long talons on each finger, and, as with a harpy, legs that start as human but end in vulture like ankled and feet.

Half-harpies are accepted into harpy society, but have an even deeper wanderlust than regular harpies. Half-harpies do not stay with flocks of harpies for long, but will follow the flock on annual migrations. A half-harpy that stays in one place for more than a month must roll a constitution DC of 10 each day or lose the ability to fly until it moves at least a day’s travel away from that location.


Half-harpies inherit the vulture-like diets and eating habits of harpies. Half-harpies eat an almost carnivorous diet and prefer uncooked meat of any type. They prefer eating rotten meat and other carrion. When it sees raw meat of any type, the half-harpy must roll a wisdom DC of 10 or be forced to eat a small portion of the meat, needing to be forcefully held back. To eat, the half-harpy rips its food apart and is resistant to eating with civilized manners. A half-harpy can eat vegetation but does not like it and needs to eat a large portion of meat at least once a week if it doesn’t regularly eat meat.

Relations to Humanoids

Most humanoid react cautiously to half-harpies. While tolerated, at the least provocation most humanoids will become fearful and hostile to the half-harpy. In such cases, roll a contest on charisma versus wisdom to see if the troubled humanoid becomes hostile. Smaller to medium sized (a wolf), non-sentient animals will immediately be afraid of half-harpies and flee, hide, or fight as the situation and their disposition determines.

Half-harpies are always chaotic, but may be good, neutral, or evil. The most common alignment is chaotic neutral.


  • Half-harpies increase dexterity by 2, and charisma by 2. Half-harpies are thin boned and light so they suffer a -2 to constitution.
  • Age. As “unnatural” creates, half harpies mature quickly but die younger. Half-harpies are mature at 10 and can live up to 50 years.
  • Languages. Half-harpies speak, read, and write, common, Auran (humanoid bird language), and one other language.
  • They lose the siren song of harpies, but are highly immune to charm (they have an advantage), and totally immune to harpy songs and charms of other avian creatures.
  • Half-harpies have full harpy wings and can fly at 30 ft, but walk a speed of 20ft. They must be wearing light armor or less, and no shield. To fly, a half-harpy can only carry half of the encumbrance for an equivalent human, or is forced to make a strength check each time it takes aloft.
  • Half-harpies have darkvision and have detailed, long range vision. They can see a three foot carcass from four miles away.
  • Half-harpies have perception, acrobatics, and deception.
  • Half-harpies are particularly effected by freezing cold and roll and defend at a disadvantage for cold related checks.


Half-harpies fly at 30 feet and walk at 20 feet.

It takes a half-harpy one turn to get aloft, and a turn to land safely. The half-harpy’s feet talons need something to grip so, for example, it cannot land on a sheer, vertical surface that has nothing to grip onto.

If a harpy falls it takes damage as per a human falling the same feet.


Half-harpies can only use weapons that are two pounds or less. They can only use light armor. This armor must be specially made, increasing the cost by 50%.

Half-harpies can attack with their hand talons as slashing weapons, creating d4 damage. They can attack with their feet talons creating d4 damage plus their strength bonus. They can perform a special attack by quickly descending on a foe from 15 feet and striking with their feet talons for d6 + 3 damage.

While flying, if a half-harpy is hit, it must roll a Constitution. If it fails, it falls out of the sky and must roll a Dexterity check or 13, or take damage per the falling damage of a human.

A harpy will not attack a half-harpy unless directly provoked.

The Lost Ingredient - An Elderwood Adventure


The Lost Ingredient is an adventure that takes place in the city of Aurel’s Reach and the surrounding Elderwood. The player, a new apprentice to Thanlin, a powerful but forgetful elven alchemist, is tasked with finding a rare ingredient, the Luminescent Elder Lily, for a potion that Thanlin has been brewing. The adventure involves seeking guidance from Rye Leafoot, a friend of Thanlin’s, retrieving stolen truffles, and negotiating with a tribe of pixies.

The Setup

Thanlin explains to the player that he’s lost the lily. Thankfully, his friend Rye can locate where to find more in the Elderforest. Thanlin sends the player to the Whispering Willow to ask Rye for help.

Part 1: Seeking Rye’s Guidance

Read to player

As you step into the Whispering Willow, the warm glow of lanterns and the cheerful hum of conversation welcome you. At a corner table, you spot Rye, engrossed in a book, a half-eaten pie forgotten next to him.

DM Overview

Rye is happy to cast Locate Animals or Plants for the character to find the lily. However, he needs the material component, a bit of fur from a bloodhound. More importantly, he’s just overheard that there’s a new delivery of truffles at Underwood’s Delights, a store in the east district market.

“It’s just one basket,” he says with a distressed look on his face. “I can start the ritual for the spell now, but I must get a few of those truffles before they’re out.” He hands the player 20 gold pieces and says, “get the truffles first, and then find the bloodhound hair. The constables’ kennel should have plenty - they might even pay you to take it!”

The player finds their way to Underwood’s Delights and managed to buy the last four truffles for 20 gold pieces. As they leave, an orc child runs into them and with a scared look runs off.

The orc child has stolen the truffles! The player will notice almost immediately. It won’t be hard to track down the orc child as there aren’t that many of them. If the player gets to them quickly, they can just demand them back. After some bluster, the child will hand them over.

If it takes longer, the child will have run into a building that has been painted crimson red. This is the new embassy of The Lost Tribe, an orc tribe of the Elderwood. There are three orcs inside (known as a “triangle,” they never separate). Use the standard orc statblock, but two carry two handed swords and the third a longbow and longsword. The orcs speak common and are more “civilized” than stock orcs, but still as blustery and brutal. If the player explains their case, one of the orcs will question the orc child, get the truffles, and give them to the player.

Once the player has the truffles, and they return them to Rye, he will finish casting the spell and draw a map for the player to the hidden glade. If the player can wait, Rye will offer to buy the player a fish in truffle sauce dish for the player after sending the truffles back to the kitchen.

Part 2: Journey to the Glade

Read to player

As you leave the city outskirts, the familiar sounds of Aurel’s Reach fade into the distance, replaced by the harmonious symphony of the Elderwood. The path before you is a winding trail through towering trees and lush undergrowth, the air filled with the earthy scent of moss and damp leaves. Dappled sunlight filters through the dense canopy above, casting a mosaic of light and shadow on the forest floor.

You cross a bubbling brook, its clear waters sparkling in the sunlight. The stones beneath your feet are smooth and worn, a testament to the countless travelers who have crossed here before. The path then leads you up a gentle slope, the forest growing denser and the air cooler as you ascend.

Suddenly, a rustling in the underbrush grabs your attention. You pause, your senses heightened, ready for whatever the forest might throw at you. But it’s just a squirrel, scampering away with an acorn clutched tightly in its paws.

You continue your journey, the forest around you alive with the sounds of chirping birds and the rustling of leaves. The path narrows and the trees grow closer together, their branches interweaving to form a natural archway. As you pass under it, you feel a sense of anticipation building, as if the forest itself is holding its breath.

DM Overview

The glade is north west of Aurel’s Reach, and should take about half a day. The map is surprisingly accurate, though it does not always show the easiest way.

While going down a narrow path, the player will encounter the player will encounter a giant spider, first encountering a dense web that fills the path.

Should the spider capture the player, they will be rescued by a three orcs from The Lost Tribe. These orcs will cruelly joke about the player’s weakness, one of them gnawing at a spider leg, but will roughly dust off the player and let them go. If the player is an elf, they will give them a playful (to an orc!) kick in the pants to send them off.

The spider has three cocooned bodies in its net: dead human and dwarf guards (leather armor, daggers, long swords, and common gear), but a still live tax collector with a bag of 150 gold coins, papers authorizing tax collection, and a record book of two years of tax collections for the past five years. If the orcs rescued the player, they will have taken all of this and freed the tax collector, leaving them unconscious but free.

More terrain:

  1. City Outskirts: As the player leaves Aurel’s Reach, they pass through the city outskirts, where the hustle and bustle of the city gives way to the serene outskirts. Here, they might see small homesteads, farmlands, and the occasional roadside inn or shop.
  2. Elderwood Forest: The player must traverse the dense and enchanting Elderwood Forest. This ancient forest is filled with towering trees, thick underbrush, and a network of animal trails. The forest is home to a variety of creatures, both friendly and hostile.

Part 3: The Glade and the Pixies

Read to player

As you push through the last curtain of hanging ivy and moss, the forest suddenly opens up into a breathtaking glade. The air here feels different, imbued with a quiet magic that makes your skin tingle. Bathed in a soft, ethereal glow, the glade is a symphony of color, the luminescent Elder Lilies casting dancing shadows that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

An ancient tree, gnarled and wise, stands sentinel in the heart of the glade, its branches reaching out like a silent invitation. The tree is surrounded by a tranquil pool, the water’s surface shimmering with the reflected light of the Lilies.

As you take a step further into the glade, you notice odd insects flitting about, their wings iridescent in the glow of the Lilies. They buzz and hum, adding a soft undertone to the symphony of the glade. It’s a sight to behold, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Elderwood, untouched and unspoiled.

DM Overview

As the player enters the Luminescent Elder Lily glade, they encounter a tribe of five pixies. These tiny, whimsical creatures live in the glade, and while they don’t value the Lilies themselves, they are intrigued by anyone who does. The player’s interest in the Lilies presents an opportunity for the pixies to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: bartering.

DM Instructions

“A song, a story, or a shiny trinket. That’s our price for a Lily."

  1. Pixie Introduction: Describe the pixies as they flit around the glade, their iridescent wings catching the glow of the Lilies. The pixies are curious and playful, but also cautious of the player. They watch from a distance, whispering amongst themselves, before one of them, bolder than the others, approaches the player.
  2. Pixie Bartering: The bold pixie, acting as the spokesperson for the tribe, expresses interest in why the player wants the Lilies. Once the player explains their need, the pixie proposes a trade. The trade could be for a shiny trinket, a heartfelt story, or even a song - pixies love music and are easily swayed by a good performance. If the player agrees to the trade and meets the pixies' request, they allow the player to take a few Lilies.
  3. Pixie Interaction: Encourage the player to interact with the pixies. The pixies might ask the player about their adventures, share some of their own stories, or even offer some advice or warnings about the forest. This interaction can add depth to the encounter and make the glade feel like a living, breathing part of the world.

See also pixie tricks and nonsense talk.

Adventure Conclusion

Once the player has satisfied the pixies, they will allow them to take three, or even ten, Luminary Lily. The player then safely returns to Aurel’s Reach if they choose to.

Upon giving the Licht Lelie to Thanlin he will proclaim, “wonderful, wonderful!” and then drop the Lilly into a beaker full of translucent brown liquid. The liquid will poof. “Finally! You’ve helped me perfect my recipe for transparent tea!”

Pixie Mischief

A cruel laughing pixie, in a forest, in a fantasy setting, in the art style of D&D

Pixies, those delightful and mischievous denizens of the Elderwood, are as much a part of the forest as the trees and the streams. Tiny and whimsical, they flit through the undergrowth, their wings aglow with an ethereal light. They are guardians of the forest, protectors of its secrets, and masters of trickery and illusion. Their laughter is the rustle of leaves, their whispers the sigh of the wind. They are elusive, yet their presence is felt everywhere.

Pixie mischief is legendary in the Elderwood. They are known for their playful pranks, their harmless tricks designed more to amuse than to harm. They delight in leading the unwary astray, in causing mild confusion and chaos, in adding a touch of whimsy and unpredictability to the otherwise serene forest. But remember, their tricks are never malicious, and often, they serve to remind us not to take life too seriously.

In my time in the Elderwood, when I’ve been, let’s say, lucky enough to encounter Pixies, I’ve collected a list of their delightful mischief. It’s a testament to their playful nature, a glimpse into their whimsical world, and perhaps, a guide on what to expect when you find yourself in the heart of their domain.

–From Rye Leafoot’s _Elderwood Guidebook, vol. 5: Catalog and Observations on the Least Dangerous of the Inhabitants of the Elderwood_.

When a player encounters a Pixie in Dungeons and Dragons, what might the Pixie do and say to mess with the player?

Twenty Pixie Pranks (d20)

  1. Pixies turn invisible and whisper misleading directions, leading people astray.
  2. They tie shoelaces together when no one’s looking.
  3. Pixies use minor illusion to create the sound of a roaring beast nearby.
  4. They sprinkle pixie dust on sleeping individuals, causing them to levitate a few inches off the ground.
  5. Pixies use their magic to make a person’s food taste like mud.
  6. They steal small, shiny objects and hide them in hard-to-reach places.
  7. Pixies use their magic to make a person’s clothes change color.
  8. They use minor illusion to make a rock look like a precious gem.
  9. Pixies move a person’s equipment around when they’re not looking.
  10. They use their magic to make a person’s hair stand on end.
  11. Pixies use minor illusion to create the sound of a swarm of bees.
  12. They use their magic to make a person’s voice sound like a frog’s croak.
  13. Pixies rearrange signs or landmarks to confuse travelers.
  14. They use their magic to make a person’s drink taste like vinegar.
  15. Pixies use minor illusion to make a tree look like a scary monster.
  16. They steal a person’s map and replace it with a drawing of a pixie sticking out its tongue.
  17. Pixies use their magic to make a person’s backpack unbearably heavy.
  18. They use minor illusion to make a harmless bunny look like a dire wolf.
  19. Pixies hide a person’s weapons and replace them with flowers.
  20. They use their magic to make a person’s bedroll feel like it’s filled with pebbles.
A cruel laughing fairy, in a forest, in a fantasy setting, in the art style of D&D

Pixie Nonsense Talks (d20)

“Just let me go and I’ll tell you a secret that the big folk don’t know!"

  1. “Did you know that cloud gazing at midnight helps you grow taller?”
  2. “The sun actually rises in the west in the Elderwood, you know.”
  3. “If you hold your breath while crossing a stream, you’ll become invisible.”
  4. “Trees can hear your thoughts, so be careful what you think around them.”
  5. “If you sing to your food, it tastes better. Trust me.”
  6. “Swallowing a pebble will make your voice sound like a dragon’s roar.”
  7. “Tying your boots with your eyes closed brings good luck.”
  8. “If you can catch a falling leaf before it hits the ground, you’ll have good dreams tonight.”
  9. “Walking backwards wards off evil spirits.”
  10. “If you whisper your secrets to a flower, it will never tell.”
  11. “Did you know that owls are actually afraid of the dark?”
  12. “Rubbing moss on your skin helps you blend in with the forest.”
  13. “You can talk to squirrels if you learn their language.”
  14. “Rainbows are actually bridges to other worlds.”
  15. “If you tickle a tree, it might just tickle you back.”
  16. “The moon is made of cheese, but only on Tuesdays.”
  17. “If you dance in the rain, you’ll never get wet.”
  18. “Birds can’t actually fly; they’re just really good at jumping.”
  19. “If you can catch a raindrop on your tongue, it will grant you a wish.”
  20. “Never trust a rabbit; they’re notorious liars.”,, @cote,,