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The 2017 adventure path for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition Tomb of Annihilation draws on a lot of pulp adventure inspiration. The campaign puts players in the jungle setting of Chult exploring an uncharted area of the world and ending in an ancient tomb full of deadly traps. The most recent Magic: The Gathering expansion, Ixalan, also takes inspiration from the lore of ancient civilizations and those looking to discover and conquer those lands. Wizards of the Coast released a Plane Shift article recently to celebrate the release of Ixalan’s art book. The Plane Shift series offers D&D conversions for several of the planes featured in Magic: The Gathering. While flipping through the art book is definitely inspiring with the gorgeous full art filled with lost temples, exotic dinosaurs, and lush jungles, there are a lot of great elements found in Ixalan that are a perfect fit for a D&D game set in Chult. The Plane Shift article has more information on these elements along with mechanics and monsters, but the full art book goes into greater setting detail for Dungeon Masters looking for a complete picture.
The River Heralds
Most of the native species of Chult are set as antagonists to the PCs exploring the jungle. The Plane Shift article details the River Heralds as the tribes trying to keep the peace in the wilds of the jungle. Even if no player creates a Merfolk PC to directly loop the group into tribal intrigues, befriending one or all of the River Heralds offers some great roleplaying opportunities to seek allies outside the walls of Port Nyanzaru. Dungeon Masters should find a spot on their map of Chult for the Herald’s Deeproot tree, which could prove to be valuable as a home base in the jungle away from civilization.
The Brazen Coalition
The waters around Chult are a fertile breeding ground for pirates. The Brazen Coalition can be put into play as a faction of pirates seeking to out plunder the ones already on the scene. More pirates means more intrigue as the captains from each faction ally, betray, attack and blackmail each other over the treasures found in the jungles of Chult. More pirates also offer more opportunities for players to find clues they may have missed. Vital artifacts or magical items could easily be found in the hold of a Brazen Coalition ship, provided the heroes are bold enough to either sneak aboard or attack it outright.
Legion of Dusk
The jungles of Chult have a lot of great villains already, but it’s hard to say no to adding vampire conquistadors into the mix. These vampires are not affected by sunlight, but even if they were, the idea of the thickest parts of the jungle being habitable or platoons of troops moving by night should inspire any DM looking for a formidable foe to harass players on the island. They could be seeking out powerful artifacts for their own purposes, giving the PCs a rival faction hot on their heels. They could be in Chult looking for some other artifact or temple that could prove to be quite a complication should they find it. They might even offer to turn evil PCs into vampires to aid them in their quest for power.
Ixalan offers a lot of great reference art for a Tomb of Annihilation campaign, but it could offer so much more to Dungeon Masters who take the time to check out the Plane Shift article as well. The ones who do have a better chance at offering their adventurers a unique spin on this modern classic adventure.
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Images Credits: Wizards of the Coast
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.