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Staff Picks: Wastes of Chaos is strangely beloved and on sale now

Staff Picks: Wastes of Chaos is strangely beloved and on sale now

Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from March 1–March 25, we’ll unveil a gem from the Warrens and put it on sale through March 31!
Check in 3 times a week for a new tome!
From the legendary City of Cats to the Realm of Shadows, across the Wastes of Chaos to the Old Margreve, each title in this sale is beloved by one of Kobold Press’s very own staff. Whether you’re new to Kobold Press or celebrating 18 years with us, find something exciting for your table.
Staff Picks on sale now!

Vintage 1982 neo-otyugh living in the garbage on my desk. Photo by Jeff Quick

For most of my career, through journalism, advertising, grantwriting, financial writing, and definitely roleplaying games, I have kept a neo-otyugh bendy monster from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons toy line on my desk.

It is totemistic for me—a weird monster that lives in garbage piles and scavenges treasures and attacks from ambush occasionally. I could have picked the mighty dragon or the noble griffon, but no. Otyugh.

So this is where my head is. And then Kobold Press comes along and publishes a book full of—and I mean no disrespect here—garbage piles. Wastes of Chaos is whole book of post-apocalyptic, wasted homes for weird monsters.

I am a homebrewer GM and most of my homebrew settings contain a wasteland somewhere. In fact, one of my submissions for the Labyrinth settings book is almost entirely wastelands. Just different wastelands, next door to each other, with fighting on the borders.

Speaking as a neo-otyugh, I sift and steal constantly. I can’t possibly think of everything, and frankly, I don’t want to. So I scavenge. Wastes of Chaos is a book made to scavenge.

The best part for me is Chapter 1, a collection of kinds of wastes and how you get one. Lest you think there’s only one kind of wasteland, this book is ready to learn you otherwise. The colossus graveyard is a favorite: petrified bones of colossal creatures creating an eerie sculpture garden. It raises so many questions. So many opportunities for weird stuff to happen.

In the middle is a bunch of cool character ideas: subclasses and weirdo enemies. I’m gonna be honest, I tend to gloss that. I’m mostly the GM, and if players want to be something weird, fine, that’s their business. But I’d rather they didn’t. Players need a “normal” baseline for the weird to really take hold. It’s cool to play a mutated goblin, but I’d rather have an off-the-shelf elf PC so we get a solid distinction between normal and weird.

Later in the book, you get Places of Chaos, which is ripe for theft. Locations for adventure to take place, all drawn up for you, maps and problems written in. Each one has enough bones to run with, but not enough to get in your way.

Then at the end, pages of magic items, which I use to really sell to the players what they’ve gotten into. They start off as elves and dwarves and such, and stuff seems very normal, but they also get a little of the environment ON THEM.

Here’s a favorite: retching jelly. It’s like oil of slipperiness in that you’re supposed to rub it on yourself. But what it’s good for specifically, is making monsters that eat you throw you back up. It makes you an elf emetic.

And when you give that to the PCs, it’s like Chekov’s gun in the first act. Players KNOW something’s going to try to eat them in the next four to eight hours of game time. They are simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by the possibilities.

Do you know how hard it is to make good, new magic items? if you think it’s not hard, it is—respectfully—because you haven’t tried. And retching jelly is far from the only good one in the book. There are many good ones. Good and awful.

But look, I know people don’t just want a commercial. So I’m going to give you another magic item I made for my players based on the stuff I found in Wastes of Chaos. Hand this out to your barbarian and see if they get around to loving it.


Weapon (Greatclub), Rare, Requires Attunement 5,000 gp

This long clublike weapon appears to have been made from a muscular tentacle hewn from some warped creature from the wastes. The base of the weapon is iron, strangely warm to the touch. The rest is a rubbery length of flesh with suckers on all sides.

You have a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls you make with this greatclub. When you make an Attack action with it and hit, you may make a grapple attack against the target as a bonus action (escape DC 16). Each round a target is grappled by the tetsubo squeezes, it takes an extra 2d6 bludgeoning damage. You may not attack again with the tetsubo while it is grappling a target. You do not need to continue holding the tetsubo for the grappled condition to apply to a target.

In addition, the tetsubo can make a grapple attack against a creature within 15 feet of you that does not have total cover. On a success, you can choose to pull the creature to an empty adjacent space next to you, or you can allow yourself to be pulled to an empty adjacent space next to it. You can do this once until the next dawn.

about Jeff Quick

Jeff is Senior Editor at Kobold Press, and he runs the blog. He was most recently lead editor for the Tales of the Valiant Player’s Guide.
He has his own entry in Wookieepedia.

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