Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discussed the best classes to play for locathah and tortle characters in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Both of these aquatic adjacent races were introduced to 5E D&D through DMs Guild products where all the monies Wizards of the Coast receives from sales of the PDFs are donated to Extra Life. Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $30 million for sick and injured kids. Maybe it’s the single class party composition series we’ve been doing or the Hell & High Water expansion for 1985 Games’ Dungeon Craft product line, but adventuring parties sharing a common element have been on my mind lately.
The 5E D&D adventures of locathah and tortle
These two mutually marine creatures swim in similar waters. Both benefit from natural armor, speak Aquan, tend towards good alignment and possess great Strength. Locathah and tortles live along seacoasts, with the latter generally social creatures who enjoy forming meaningful friendships with other races. This seems to me a perfect scenario to pair up and embark on 5E D&D adventures together.
Lately I’ve been running a lot of short campaigns exploring specific themes, with adventuring parties sharing a common element like the bounty hunter campaign we’re currently playing in my home group. Locathah and tortle lend themselves to this sort of thematic campaign too, and combined with a couple of other recent situations put me in a mind to develop a new campaign concept. Someone in Nerdarchy the Discord asked about running a game with only two players, and elsewhere someone asked about running 5E D&D for kids. I’ve got a solution to both questions, and a way for Dungeon Masters to help raise money for kids through Extra Life to do it.
For our locathah and tortle campaign idea we’ll need a few products from the DMs Guild. All three of these titles are created by WotC with all the monies received through sales donated to Extra Life.
- Tortle Package. This supplement also introduces a new playable character race, the tortle, and a new adventure location: Dangwaru, the Typhoon Palace. Get it here.
- Locathah Rising. A fifth edition D&D adventure for 9th level locathah characters. Rules for creating locathah characters are contained herein. Get it here.
- Adventure with Muk. This activity book includes enjoyable adventure hooks written by D&D’s Adam Lee, puzzles, unique Dankwood goblin character sheets developed by D&D’s Chris Lindsay, modified monster stat blocks and more! Get it here.
Adventure with Muk is designed for kids to introduce them to Dungeons & Dragons. The first half of the book contains activities like puzzles and creative writing exercises to help build and develop skills to serve kids well at the game table. But the back of the book is a kid-friendly D&D campaign featuring the plucky goblin Muk and his adventuring sidekick Birdsquirrel. Muk and Birdsquirrel, along with a few other pregenerated characters, provide a simplified way for younger players to enjoy 5E D&D. Adventure with Muk includes simplified monster stat blocks, kid-friendly adventure hooks and seven adventure ideas!
The adventure ideas and associated monsters comprise a great mix of 5E D&D material. Adventures encounter a couatl, hill giant, purple worm, otyugh, merfolk and a hag among others. But since the material is meant to be kid-friendly, adventurers get knocked koo koo when they drop to 0 hit points. Muk and the other goblins live in Dankwood, with lots of adventure areas around like the Snowy Hills and Big Water. See where I’m headed yet?
Adapting Adventure with Muk for a our locathah and tortle friends would be super easy. Instead of Muk and the other goblins, players take on the roles of these two aquatic adventurers who meet on the shores of Big Water and explore the region together. Even though Adventure with Muk is designed for kids and our locathah and tortle campaign is too, I bet lots of people would enjoy this sort of game. One of the things I appreciate most about Adventure with Muk is how the adventure hooks include questions for the Dungeon Master to ask players to help guide them to creative problem solving.
I am a sucker for this kind of 5E D&D experience. Combat can be fun and exciting for sure, but if I’m honest whether I’m the DM or a player I enjoy games with less mortal danger and more moral danger. Overcoming challenges without resorting to violence can be just as difficult and rewarding as slaying an evil monster and sometimes even moreso. The material in Adventure with Muk is worth checking out if for no other reason than to give you some ideas of how to help engage players during any game. Take this list of questions from Birdsquirrel’s Journey, one of the adventure ideas where a wicked hag plans to use a family of magical creatures in her soup. How would locathah and tortle answer these questions?
- What other the other ingredients that are going in the hag’s soup?
- Why is the hag making the soup?
- Is she grumpy? Or does she have a soft spot?
- Does she have any pets?
- Is she lonely?
Locathah and tortle for kids, for adults, for anyone!
Although I’m imagining this short campaign intended for two kids to try D&D, I think anyone would have a great time, especially if it’s their first time playing 5E D&D. Anthropomorphic animal characters hold broad appeal for so many gamers. Look at things like Humblewood, Pugmire and Mouse Guard. You could do a lot worse than introducing a new player to D&D by playing a pair of aquatic friends exploring an adventuresome wilderness together with terrific roleplaying prompts built into the content.
Earlier this year my girlfriend tried D&D for the first time in a similarly toned-down version. Her character Rosemary Sage, is a half-elf druid witch with a cat sidekick. She navigated her first spooky adventure through creative problem solving and roleplaying, with the same kind of knock ’em out combat Adventure with Muk suggests. I can tell you with 100% certainty the further peculiar adventures of Rosemary Sage will draw from Adventure with Muk.
If you’ve got a couple of potential players of any age, I think a pair of locathah and tortle friends makes a fantastic starting point for a wonderful 5E D&D campaign. They are close enough in traits to help create unique circumstances and different enough to make their adventures mean something to the both of them. For example, locathah can breath water and have a swim speed but must be submerged in water every so often or they’ll drown. Tortles can hold their breath but can’t survive indefinitely under water and don’t have a swim speed. I think these differences in particular would create situations for the characters to find clever ways to adventure together. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: Maybe there’s a bulbitid cluster living in Big Water?]
If you’re an experienced player but haven’t taken a turn as DM yet, this might be a great way for you to get started too. Adventure with Muk illustrates how you don’t really need a huge, intricate world and complex plots to help players tell the stories of their characters. Incredible realism doesn’t mean your games will be more fun. Creating every square mile of the kingdom and developing every resident of the town into a fully realized NPC isn’t remotely necessary to have fun playing 5E D&D. Hand out locathah and tortle characters to some players, ask them about their first meeting on the shores of Big Water, and let them explore. Guide them through problem solving with engaging questions that also give players an opportunity to collaborate in telling the story. I bet you’ll be surprised how quickly these fish out of water start riding the current like a seasoned D&D player.
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