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[DM] Prep toolbox? New Tepest.

Time to run the new Ravenloft book! #gothmode #rpg campaign!

This is gonna be a “me typing as I think” kinda stream-of-consciousness post to help me motivate to prep!

I wanna throw together something quick and dirty and low-effort for some tier one play. The one that really grabbed me on first read through was the new Tepest, but I guess similar workflow issues are applicable to all of them.

OK so what would I normally need in order to run something like this?

Porte-Monstre-Trésor; I have treasure generator apps so that leaves:

  1. Locations
  2. Encounter tables

Both preferably including the new toys like the haunted traps and stuff from the new bestiary.

For locations, I’ve got plenty of maps come to think of it. I can use Dungeonmorphs or whip out an old Dyson map or just do a diagram dungeon a la Red Tide. We do theatre of the mind so just tossing out some rough node graphs is fine.

The problem is filling those locations with monsters. I’m one of those DMs with the hangup that all enemy stats should be prepped before play starts. Respect to those who have different play styles but that’s how we roll (and have for almost a decade now); open die rolls and without changing “№ appearing” or HP etc once play starts. In other words, it is against our table’s explicit social contract for me to try to balance fights on the fly, to go “hmm, I think I’ll throw, let me see, four orcs should be a good fight at them now”. Instead, the enemies need to be either on the map or on a rolltable before play starts. I’m not advocating for everyone to adopt that playstyle, but that’s how we’ve done it and how it’s well established among the players and me that I’ll run it. (Peeps familiar with the board game “Zendo” recognize it as having a similar philosophy.)

The second problem is encounter tables for the forests and mountains and caves.

Fixing that second problem will also help solve the first problem! Since if they venture into an unprepped dungeon I can just grab/generate any old random map but use encounter tables to populate them as we go.

OK so time to make encounter tables. I am super lazy so I want to grab something that already exist and spruce it up. XGE has encounter tables. Anything I don’t want on there? Naw, it looks fine. Anything I want to add onto them? Yeah! I wanted the Ravenloft specific stuff. So looking through p 226, some of these seem awesome but not all of them are a good fit for Tepest specifically. I want to be careful about including too many undead. Fungally infected people like in the “Adventures in Tepest” rolltable is a better fit for that niche, and “mud and brambles from which the transformed victimes of deadly magic rise” is awesome. Also I’ll stick to CR 1 through 4 since we are doing T1 play in this region.

Reading through the bestiary pages…

Enh, nothing too hot for T1 and this “nature and tradition is the enemy” The Lottery / Witherbloom style horror I’m going for here.

Let’s just put in Gremishka and Strigoi in the forest. I’ll put gremishka on (looking through the XGE list for least interesting) 02, 09, 41, 52 (that one actually really really really awesome, but, awakened trees has been such heavily featured in our previous campaign), 58 (ditto snakes), 60, 84, 00. I’ll stick a post-it in my XGE saying 02/09/41/52: gremishka, 58/60/84/00 strigoi.

I also, hmm, there are some areas which are meant to be fey areas. I don’t really have a good fey bestiary for 5e. Oh, has a list!

There are 13 (for tier 1) so… I’ll sort by CR and roll d6+d8-1.

Juuust in case they happen to stroll in under Arak before I’ve prepped that area more. That’s all this is, btw: contingency plans so that I can be somewhat prepped no matter where they go. Chapter 4 stuff: those stress rules seem awful; let’s go with Danse Macrabre and Faceless Malice and write those down on a “list of elements” in case I later get time to flesh out some locations.

Uh, OK, so, so far, not much. Just reassuring myself that I have enough of an “enh, it’s OK” to wing it in case they go into weird areas like mountains and forests.

Now to zoom in a bit. I want to give some hints about the upcoming “festival” (and if they decide to dig into that primarily, or do other village exploration stuff, then that’s fine) but for starters, let’s offer them a choice between the first three entries on the Tepest Adventures list. Or I’ll just roll 1d3 I guess when they ask for rumors.

That’s enough to start the campaign. Then if they wanna do more in this place, I’ll keep rolling 1d3 on the Tepest Adventures list. Maybe change to a full d10 once the setting gets a bit more fleshed out at our table.

Boom! We’re done for session one! Put a stamp on it and kiss it!

Thanks for reading along with my super-lazy prep talk!♥︎
Post cool stuff in the comments that we can use in this subsetting.


This is the map I dealt up for the Arak Hall.

The sinkhole down is in room 3.

Here is the encounter tables for down there. I flesh it out with notes.

1 Boggle	Small	Fey		CN	1/8	25	vgm 128
2 Blink Dog	Medium	Fey		LG	1/4	50	mm 318
3 Pixie	Tiny	Fey		NG	1/4	50	mm 253
4 Sprite	Tiny	Fey		NG	1/4	50	mm 283
5 Darkling	Small	Fey		CN	1/2	100	vgm 134
6 Satyr	Medium	Fey		CN	1/2	100	mm 267
7-8 Missing Kid Gwendolin
9 Dryad	Medium	Fey		N	1	200	mm 121
10 Quickling	Tiny	Fey		CE	1	200	vgm 187 They are in room "Z" on Z2
11 Darkling Elder	Medium	Fey		CN	2	450	vgm 134 Beathe. Has a store in room "2" on Z2.
12 Meenlock	Small	Fey		NE	2	450	vgm 170
13 Sea Hag	Medium	Fey		CE	2	450	mm 179
14 Green Hag	Medium	Fey		NE	3	700	mm 177
15 Redcap	Small	Fey		CE	3	700	vgm 188

Also I wanna commit some NA now.

I’ve been using the rule “sum of CR = 2” (or slightly more if they are unlucky to run into a CR3 being) but I want it to be a little bit more swingy. That means dice. For CR 1/8, 4d8. For CR 1/4, 4d4, for CR 1/2, 2d4, for CR 1, 1d4, for CR 2 or 3, just 1.

Also this is the treasure hoard I rolled up for down there: