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Spare Parts: Home Away from Dungeon

Spare Parts: Home Away from Dungeon

We’ve been exploring tips and methods to steal from existing products to make your home game better. The Scarlet Citadel has been our template for how to do it, but the principles in this series can be used with any adventure. This time, we’re talking home base material.

A dungeon like the Scarlet Citadel won’t be cleared in a single expedition, so player characters need a home base where they can rest and resupply. The village of Redtower is just such a place.

Even if you’re not running Scarlet Citadel, Redtower is easy to pull out of the book and use in your home game. And there are many reasons why you might want to.

History of Redtower

For the completionists, Redtower was first detailed in the Kobld Press ‘zine, Warlock 20. That material was collected with other issues in the Warlock Grimoire 3, and then updated for inclusion in Scarlet Citadel.

The writeup of Redtower begins with an extensive look at the history of the village and the importance of the ley line tributary found at the site where the Scarlet Citadel would be built. History is one of the trickier bits of an adventure to borrow from. It’s most useful as inspiration.

The Redtower timeline gives a picture of:

  • the genealogy and fall of the Holzanger family
  • dwarves breeding dire owlbears
  • establishment of a temple by the True Cult of Charon
  • a Holzanger heir who ties all of the above together

You can ignore the dungeon completely and use these seeds to develop your own campaign.

Redtower Today

Redtower is then described as it exists in the present day. The economy is based on lumber and “adventure tourism,” making it an ideal place to gather rumors and restock between delves. Most larger adventures have one of these. Just yank out what works for you.

Every village needs a tavern where adventurers can meet the local folk to pick up news and gossip. The Cage Tavern & Inn is built around the ribcage of a giant slain by the ancestors of the present-day proprietors. This stylistic detail informs the rest of the decor, from the monster-hunting trophies to the notably sturdy furniture. Fantastic elements like these can differentiate it from less memorable watering holes.

Divine spellcasting services available in town are at the Temple of Rava. Again, this site might be memorable for players because of the way it breaks from the ordinary: it’s a temple to the Gear Goddess. Scrap metal piles on the temple grounds and the acolyte whose job it is to retrieve the gear of adventurers who fail to return from the Scarlet Citadel are stand-out features. Lift these details out of Redtower and put them directly into your home campaign.

Social Studies

Redtower comes with its own Gossip table and Random Social Encounters table. At first glance, gossip might seem challenging to repurpose, but it’s as easy as changing proper names. You can modify, “Gellert the Gruesome has a small army of monsters and bandits at his command” to whatever local villain is gathering forces near your village.

Some details can be finessed to provide new adventure seeds. “The red tower was made from the bones and teeth of the fallen giant Milena and Hendrix slew.” Perhaps your tower isn’t red, it’s bone white, and it acts as a beacon for necromantic giants that will threaten the land in your campaign’s Tier 2 arc. With some tweaking, the rumor table can be disconnected from the Scarlet Citadel to serve as a better tool to our home games.

The Random Social Encounters are similarly useful. An encounter like “Argument” might look simple at first, but it deepen the players’ understanding of the local environment. In this case, the merchants have been charging inflated prices for goods. Resolving the argument with a successful DC 12 Charisma (Persuasion) check wins over some of the local merchants, providing some relief the next time the party goes shopping for pitons and oil.

Outside of Town

The outskirts of Redtower have more sites worth lifting, such as the cottage of the witch, Zula. Inscrutable NPCs like Zula can be great tools to use at our table. She can offer bargains and potions, all the while acting as a spy for more villainous forces. Or perhaps she seems suspicious, but is a helpful ally once the adventurers prove their merit.

The wilderness Random Encounters table can also be readily repurposed. Some are encounters with local predatory fauna, like the gargoyle that wandered out of the Scarlet Citadel. Of course, it could have found its way into the woods from any dungeon or tower that you want to provide a trail to.

Terrain Encounters

Lastly, there are eight Terrain Encounters that provide challenges on their own or to complicate Random Encounters. Fighting goblins can be easy for experienced adventurers, but it is more challenging in a field full of Briar Growth that slows movement to a quarter of the normal rate and deals 3 (1d6) piercing damage to creatures that fail a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw while moving through it.

Perhaps more dangerous are the Sleeping Fields from the Toxic Flora table. Moving through the fields at anything more than half speed stirs up clouds of pollen, and anyone failing a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw falls asleep for one hour. Even worse, the flowers release pheromones that attract creatures from the Random Encounter table! Asleep in a field, a meal for owlbears . . . It’s no wonder so few return from the Scarlet Citadel, given the challenge of getting there in the first place.


The village of Redtower can dropped into our home campaign settings as a complete unit, or we can use some of its more colorful features and locations. Either way, most of the work of detailing a classic home base has been done for us. We can use as much or as little as we see fit.

about Andy Dempz

Andy Dempz was a Red Box kid who took a twenty-five year break from the hobby and returned to 5e. He has written for multiple D&D Adventurers League campaigns, DMsGuild, and Kobold Press. He lives in the biggest small town in the midwest, Ann Arbor, Michigan, with two children, two dogs, and two 3D printers. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndyDempz.

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