RPGaDay prompt 4 is Most recent game bought. (I’m going to give up even pretending I’m keeping to the days, and just refer to them as numbered prompts, given it’s now the 20th as I write…)
Since I talked about systems in the last post, this time I’m going to talk about a supplement which arrived through the post a few days back. Kobold Press’s “Wastes of Chaos” Kickstarter ran earlier in the year, and I have received both the sourcebook and “Tales from the Wastes” – a collection of adventures set in chaos wastes.
There seems to be a theme developing this summer, given my WorldAnvil Summer Camp writing this year ended up concentrating on the Sind Waste. I wonder if I will ever actually persuade the party to leave the streets of Akorros and venture out into any wastes…
What do they mean by “Wastes of Chaos”?
They approach it on two levels. At a basic level, they talk about wastelands – anywhere that’s inimicable to human(oid) habitation, where those who do choose to live there will find life a constant struggle. Overlaid on that is chaos magic, various forces and effects bringing in randomness, wildness and ultimately destruction.
Chapter 1: Dangerous Lands
The first chapter of Wastes of Chaos talks wastelands might have come into being, from peeved immortals and intruding extra-planar creatures to magic gone wrong, natural disasters, war, and just the encroaching effects of time. It also explores different types of wastelands – badlands, battlefields, deserts, flinty hills, haunted marshlands and polluted blights, and talks about typical weather, what travel is like, types of creatures you may find, and particular hazards, along with some suggested sites and story seeds.
Chapter 2: Heroes of the Borderlands
The second chapter is aimed at players – new playable races (or lineages as they would be called in Tales of the Valiant): the Automaton, the Dust Goblin, the Wasteland Dragonborn and the Wasteland Orc, along with a collection of new subclasses: the Path of the Demon for the Barbarian, the Circle of Dust for the Druid, the Doombringer for the Fighter, the Way of Chaos for the Monk, the Wasteland Rover for the Ranger, the Bandit Priest and Chaos Cultist for the Rogue and the Demonic Tutor for the Warlock, and two new backgrounds: the Chaos Child and the Wasteland Reaver.
Chapter 3: People, Tribes and Cults
The third chapter is where the chaos really starts. It describes four cults that might be encountered, all of them pretty unpleasant and generally fuelled by a magical artefact.
For example, the Chaos Reavers are wild bands led by a doom champion who wears Judethel’s Crown – an artefact created by Judethel which seeks to corrupt benign souls into chaos and depravity. This is contagious on the followers, who are like a combination of wild party and thuggish bandit, arriving, creating havoc and destruction, then wandering off again with new followers. There are multiple Crowns, copies of the original, each driving their champion to lead the band, and if no-one wears the Crown it will draw a new champion to it – and it says one of the primary band leaders is a paladin who tried to destroy the band and instead got corrupted by the artefact. Interesting concept.
The others cults are similarly corrupting and nasty, with suggestions for how they could be brought into a campaign (or even have a full campaign based around them).
The Cult of the Black Goat uses trickery to gradually corrupt villages and villagers into believing that blood sacrifice is necessary and good.
The Red Moon Bandit Gang are a gang of malevolent pixies led by Mimsy Biteflower, now an avatar of Dark Pan thanks to the artefact Horn of the Crimson Moon. They live to cause pain and blood, and to create and activate flesh gates to usher Dark Pan back into the world.
The SpiderFace Goblin tribe do not speak, and live in their ramshackle cluster of tents, considering anything that isn’t one of them as prey or blood sacrifices, and cutting out the tongues of anyone who tries to speak too much.
The chapter finishes with some suggested Chaos NPCs.
Chapter 4: Places of Chaos
This chapter contains several fully-fleshed lairs which parties could visit.
We have Bleakspire, tower of the Lich King (who is actually pretty neutral and mostly interested in his own research into ways to reverse the magical apocalypse that created the wastelands he lives within.
We have Rustspike, Castle of the Lord of Ruin, who is a demonic sadistic oni who indulges in petty acts of cruelty to alleviate the boredom he feels because the wastes have already been reduced to desolation, so he has no reason for battle.
We have the Cathedral of the Black Goat, hidden in a crater in the Blasted Forest and full of cultists led by Mother Speaker Bonabella who values chaos above all else.
We have the Ghost Light Marshes, a swampy area lived in by otterfolk and ruled over by Amabel Merryweather, a green hag who is trying to prevent the residual magical energy of dread colossus Vh’al Zhubbuth coalescing back into a new body.
We have the Goblin Town of Nichenevin, just outside the reach of the Lord of Ruin, a free town filled with dust goblins with an affinity for technology who can repair or source all sorts of items.
We have Tangleside, a Chaos Wastes village which sprung up from the ruins of a previous village after it was devastated in a war, and ruled over by Karvos Deathstealer, a former general who was trapped in the infernal realms before escaping and returning as a doom champion overlord.
We have the Maze Caverns of the Wasteland Drake, a network of tunnels and caves dug into canyon walls by a bad-tempered young Wasteland Dragon and his followers.
We have Nygethuaac, a dread colossus that plods blindly through the wastes at a snail’s pace, with a ramshackle chaos goblin village on its head, shoulders and back.
We have a Raw Chaos Portal, which wreaks havoc on the surrounding area.
We have the River of Alchemy, a river of fluids which mix and mingle in unpredictable ways – a treasure trove of rare or unique potions and poisons, and a powder keg of unstable magic.
And we have the Vault of the God-King, a crashed alien spacecraft now inhabited by the “children of the silver sphere” who attempt to lure humanoids into the vault to become subjects of their experiments.
Chapter 5: Monsters of the Wastes
This chapter contains nearly fifty creatures themed to different styles of wasteland, some of them mentioned in the earlier chapters, others related, and varying in challenge from CR ¼ up to the Ancient Wasteland Dragon (which first appeared in the Creature Codex) at CR23.
Chapter 6: Spells and Magic
This chapter introduces new spells grouped into three categories.
Ancient Magic has six spells: Rock to Mud (level 2), Earth Swim (level 6), Draconic Essence (level 7), Metamorphosis and Twist of Fate (level 8) and Life Siphon (level 9).
Chaos Magic has three spells for Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers, Warlocks and Wizards which invoke Chaos Magic: Forced Chaos Surge (level 2), Scintillating Chaos (level 3) and Invoke Chaos (level 7), plus different Chaos Magic surge tables.
Doom Magic is the largest collection for most spellcasting classes: Doom of the Oracle and Doom of the Warped Skull at level 1, Doom of Deceleration, Doom of Splintered Shards and Doom of the Vulnerable at level 2, Doom of False Friendship, Doom of Stolen Breath, Doom of the Crawling and Doom of the Tentacle at level 3, Doom of Horrid Visages and Doom of the Void at level 4 and Doom of the Baleful Rune, Doom of the Dead, Doom of the Intangible Touch and Doom of the Oasis at level 5. As well as the effects, many of these require the caster to inflict some sort of damage on themselves to cast.
Chapter 7: Gear and Ancient Treasures
The final chapter has a large number of different treasures and gear that might be found in the wastelands, divided into four groupings: ancient treasures that might be found in ancient ruins and battlefields, chaos items for causing, controlling or living within chaotic areas and effects, Vril items of science-magic created by an alien race, and a few additional lost technology items.
Wastes of Chaos is a cornucopia of inspiration for venturing into wastelands and working with chaos magic where weird effects are common. It has both general suggestions and some really specific instantly usable groups and settings. I’m really looking forward to bringing some of the ideas here into my campaign.