The Dusnak Swamp is designed as a modular location that you can drop into a larger world, complete with character tokens and battle maps. We hope that you will enjoy adapting it for your campaign!
The Dusnak Swamp is a massive swamp near the coast. Many lizardfolk call it home, as does the odd fugitive or recluse. Most of the year, the swamp is… not safe, per se, but you stand a reasonable chance of cutting through it if you’re careful. This changes drastically in the summer, when the eggs of the lizardfolk begin to hatch and the hunt to feed the young begins. When it comes to food, the lizardfolk do not discriminate between sentient and non-sentient. As one lizard once put it when talking to a bard: “All that’s meat is good to eat.”
Four clans of Lizardfolk call this place home: Toba, the mighty gator riders. Hekla, the agile and dexterous archers and tree-hoppers. Akahoya, the builders and fishers. And finally, Mercato, small but led by a demon-blooded lizard known as a Lizard King. It’s important to note here that during the summer hunt frenzy, the lizardfolk are not “driven mad with bloodlust” or any such thing— they’re still reasonable, sentient beings (the Lizard King excepted, see below) but the young hunger, and they must be fed. If the party can be of more use than their meat would be, a clan may be willing to work with them.
Dusnak Swamp is tough to navigate, especially on foot. Not only does all the scenery blend together, but the need to wade through so much waist-deep water and mud makes any journey take twice as long.
The Dusnak Swamp is in a rather inconvenient place for the local ruling power, herein referred to as the Empire. The Empire maintains a port city to the east, on the coast. If they could build a road through the swamp, it would cut at least a week off of trips inland. As it stands, however, the lizardfolk fiercely oppose such a thing, and have no problem killing Imperials.
Of course, some Imperial officials see the summer hunt frenzy as a good opportunity to wipe out the lizardfolk, since they’ll be weakened from fighting each other.
In the north of the swamp, a half-sunken temple sits. Years of overgrowth and damage mean it’s hard to determine exactly who it was dedicated to, but now the lizardfolk of Clan Toba and their gator steeds call it home.
In the east, a particularly thick and dense copse of swamp-trees sits. Clan Hekla calls this home.
In the south, a ramshackle fortress sits, built by the talented hands of the lizards of Clan Akahoya.
Clan Mercato claims a new nest every season, often in the roots of some gigantic tree.
In the northeastern part of the swamp, a half-kilometer peninsula of gravel sticks out into the swamp. Near its base is a wooden fortress, overgrown, with a pile of skulls in the middle of its main gate. Sun-bleached, mildew-stained Imperial banners flap in the wind. This is all that remains of an Imperial attempt to build a road through the swamp.
In the dead center of the Dusnak Swamp is a wide open lake, home to fish a-plenty. Local legends claim that the fish of the Dusnak Lake have mystical properties, usually healing or the like. One peculiar legend claims a “sea dragon” sleeps at the bottom of the lake. Another claims that the red and orange fish in the lake let you “see how hot or cold things are.”
Random Weather Table
It’s hard to predict the weather in a swamp, between the plentiful water and the thick canopy blocking the sky. Roll a d20 every time the party takes a rest (short or long) to see how the weather turns:
|1-5||The weather remains the same. Do not reroll if the last check was 16-17.|
|6-10||It’s as nice as it gets in a swamp; it’s around 20 degrees Celsius, there’s a bit of a breeze, the sun is shining in the sky (unless it’s night, obviously). No penalties, rejoice!|
|11-15||Thick fog. Visibility is reduced to a mere 20 feet.|
|16-17||Hot day. The sun beats down mercilessly on the swamp, without even a slight breeze to provide relief. Anyone wearing heavy armor must remove it or take a level of exhaustion. The swamp also smells positively rank during this weather condition, Reroll this result if rolled after sunset.|
|18-19||Torrential rain. The swamp swells with the downfall, making all movement take twice as long. (Moving through the water is, thus, at 1/4 speed)|
|20||Thunderstorm. Disadvantage to hearing-based perception checks in addition to the effects of torrential rain.|
The Clans of the Dusnak Swamp
Lizardfolk that ride specially-bred gators through the swamps. They live in an ancient temple in the north part of the swamp. The lizards of Clan Toba are proud and strong, and treat their gator mounts as family.
Br, barbarian. Br is five years old, the lizardfolk equivalent of a teenager. This is her first proper hunt-season and she’s eager to prove her worth. Br fights recklessly, with no regard for her own safety.
Vu-Tay, fighter. Mighty Vu-Tay is a lizard of dark hide and sharp eyes. He rides a nimble gator he calls Chomp. When he’s not destroying things with his axe, he likes to carve gator statues out of wood.
Grornoaxxushk, “Grower-no-axe-ooshk,” cleric. Grornoaxxushk is an old lizard. His skin is pale, and his eyes are milky white. He is completely blind, but his sense of smell is very acute. He worships an old lizardfolk deity whose name cannot be rendered in common script. If you try saying “Grr-hah-heegh” in the back of your throat, you will get pretty close.
The lizards of Clan Hekla leap from tree to tree, using stealth and arrows to take down their foes. They have no interest in fair fights and feel no shame in fleeing when a situation turns against them. Unlike most lizardfolk, they prefer to stay up high in the trees, striking from the shadows. They operate out of an unusually dense grove, which they have landscaped to be very difficult to get into from the ground or water.
Kilmik, rogue. Kilmik is small, by lizard standards, with relatively small muscles and a short, stubby snout. Once the runt of his clutch, Kilmik is now a feared and respected hunter. He uses his light weight to move as easily as the wind through the trees, before dropping quietly onto his target, shoving them into the water as he slits their throat with his claws. Aside from being a vicious killer, Kilmik is also a talented woodcarver, a skill he often uses prey to lure into ambushes. Humans just can’t resist checking out strange pictures on trees, it seems.
Wanhok, archer. Wanhok is a cunning and patient lizard. At 40 years of age, he’s an old hand at the hunt and many of the young Hekla lizards were raised, at least in part, on the prey he brought in. But he’s not the lizard he used to be. He’s getting slow and sore. One way or another, this year is Wanhok’s last hunt.
Ayguk, archer. Once Wanhok’s apprentice, Ayguk has come into his own as a hunter. He prefers to wait in ambush in the complex roots of trees, popping up for only a moment to take a shot, before slithering back into the shadows. Ayguk is a good hunter, but he’s worried about the weight that will rest on his shoulders once Wanhok is too old to hunt.
Clan Akahoya is unusually building-inclined for a lizardfolk clan. They have a walled settlement in the south, a fortress-like place surrounded by traps. They also build boats, and use them to move around the swamp, fish, haul things, and so on. Akahoya lizardfolk are physically weaker than most of the other clans, but they are more numerous and more inclined towards cooperation. Akahoya is easily the least confrontational, gathering the newborns’ feast through fishing and hunting relatively harmless prey.
Ekss Sers, fisherlizard. Ekss Sers spends her days drifting around the swamp on a boat, checking traps she’s hidden for food. During hunt season she doesn’t stray too far from the settlement, but during the rest of the year she roams around more or less as she sees fit. As a result, she knows most of the swamp very well.
Kyzo Dirzi, trapmaker. Kyzo Dirzi was the runt of his clutch, having grown to just over two feet tall despite his unusually straight posture. His skin is a dark brown. He is unusually dexterous for a lizard, and uses this to make intricate traps in the trees around the Akahoya settlement. Unlike most lizardfolk, he can’t breathe underwater, which led to him nearly dying several times as an infant. As you may have guessed, Kyzo Dirzi of Clan Akahoya is not a lizard at all, but is in fact a kobold whose egg somehow ended up in the nest. Neither he nor any other member of Akahoya is aware of this.
Rill Jesch, carpenter. Rill Jesch is an odd lizard, with teal scales and large, dark blue eyes. He spends most of his time working on the walls of the settlement. Deep down he longs for adventure on the open seas, but his people need him here.
Rill also builds the flat-bottomed boats the lizards of Akahoya use to get around the swamp. He has a few he’d be willing to sell to outsiders, and they’re listed here by capacity. The boats are unsuitable for any water rougher than the swamp.
Type: Vehicle (Water)
If you have proficiency with water vehicles you can add your proficiency bonus to any check you make to control these crafts in difficult circumstances.
Clan Mercato is small, but you wouldn’t know it from the havoc they wreak. Most of their tribe has to stay in their nest, in the roots of a large tree, to protect the young. Lucky for them, they are blessed with the presence of Silis’sor, the Lizard King, a demon-blooded lizard who is more than capable of providing for the clan.
Silis’sor. They say Silis’sor’s egg was lava-red. They say he is the only survivor of his clutch. They say Silis’sor is a creature spoken of only in myth: The dreaded Lizard King. All of these things are true. Silis’sor’s skin is crimson, and his eyes are solid black. A pair of black, curved horns sit on top of his head. Once blood is spilled, Silis’sor cannot be reasoned with.
If you’re playing the world’s most prominent fantasy RPG, treat Silis’sor as a Large creature and a multiclassed barbarian/sorcerer with the ability to cast spells while raging.
The Dusnak Swamp is filled with danger. These are some of the situations that adventurers may encounter….
- The party comes across a wagon, half sunk into the mud. It’s filled with valuable gems and silks, but neither its driver nor any horses are in sight… at first. If the players decide to examine the wreck, a mauled horse’s head suddenly lands in the water beside them. It is, of course, lizardfolk ready for a second course.
- A small dole of turtles are making their way through the swamp in front of the party. Each carries several young turtles on their backs. Will they reach safety beyond the swamp, or will they fall prey to the vicious lizardfolk?
- Several lizardfolk bodies float down the swamp, all curled up in a fetal position. What could kill such fearsome foes, and why are they like that? The answer is snakes. Venomous snakes. And they’re coming for the party next.
- A small group of pike-wielding Imperial soldiers, on orders to find and attack lizardfolk nests.
- An unkempt man stumbling through the swamp, with his hands tied behind his back. A pair of Imperial guards show up soon after, claiming this man is a vicious highwayman who escaped while being transported.
- The party stumbles upon a particularly noxious part of the swamp. The water bubbles and boils as gasses from rotting vegetation come to the surface. Any character who manages a DC 15 Survival or Nature Intelligence check will realize that this gas is highly flammable. If a fireball is cast into this area, double its damage. If another ignition source is used, treat the resulting ignition as if it were a fireball.
- Hatching season is just about to start, and the swamps will become unusually dangerous (True)
- A demon-blooded lizardfolk known as a Lizard King has been rampaging through the swamp (True)
- An ancient temple full of treasure sits in the center of the swamp (There is a temple, but it’s in the north and there’s no treasure there. Just lizardfolk.)
- The water in the swamp is incredibly acidic, only the lizardmen can stand to be in it. (False. You probably wouldn’t want to drink it, but it’s not going to hurt you.)
- A “sea dragon” sleeps at the bottom of Dusnak Lake. (True. It’s been there a few thousand years, since the sea receded and this land became a swamp. Good luck with that!)
- Abnormally large rodents inhabitant the swamp. (True, but nobody believes they exist)
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"If you’re playing the world’s most prominent fantasy RPG, treat Silis’sor as a Large creature and a multiclassed barbarian/sorcerer with the ability to cast spells while raging."
In 5e, a better way to design monsters (and NPCs that are monsters) is to use an existing stat block and add abilities from other creatures to it, then recalculate CR. Adding PC character classes can be done, but it's a level of complexity that probably overloads a single monster stat block both in terms of creating it and running it at the table – especially if you multiclass.
In this case, based on what I can see here, I'd suggest taking the existing Lizard King statblock from the Monster Manual, adding a size increase to Large and increasing Strength to 19 (as an Ogre) and adding proficiency in Athletics, then adding the Berzerker's Reckless Attack feature. Then, pick a couple of spells as innate spells: I'd be tempted to take the same ones as the Tiefling as a useful shorthand. Adjust other basic stats (hit points, AC) until the desired CR is reached.