The Mountain Village of Fjöll

A ready-made mountainfolk barbarian village you can easily drop in your own game. Please enjoy this addition for the world's greatest roleplaying game (but realistically for any system).


While running my Curse of Strahd game, I read a lot of things in so many places about this very well loved campaign. I especially hung out on the r/CurseOfStrahd subreddit, following, as many CoS DMs do, DragnaCarta's and MandyMod's content. Specifically, I liked making the fanes and ancient barovian deities part of the story.

However, I wanted to make my own versions of these locations, and I went to work. I built short adventures for the Swamp Fane, the Forest Fane, and the Mountain Fane. My Mountain Fane ended up in a volcano in the southern range, Mount Ghakis. Well-known to be a treacherous and dangerous location in Barovia, it is the only pathway to the Amber Temple. Long story short, I needed a mid-way place in the mountains for my players to get information on the fane, as well as the Amber Temple.

Thus was born Fjöll, the mountain village, home to a barovian barbarian tribe.

About Fjöll (fee-yole)

Where is this location?

In the snow-covered peaks

The town is set high up in the snowy mountains, somewhat close to the nearest commercial trade route. It could also be near a volcano, or any place where growing crops would be difficult, but mining would be easy.

The village is well-hidden, as its entrance is actually a fairly small cave, easily passing for the den of a bear. After a short tunnel walk, one emerges on the top level of the village, which is actually comprised of a series of alcoves, caves, and rooms carved all along the inside of a large cavern.

Space is limited and dwellings are assigned by the village chieftain and his council. Assignment is largely done on the basis of family size and prestige in the hunt or in the mines. The larger sub-caves are dedicated to multiple storage units, for the various needs of the tribe.

Who are the people living there?

Hunting Warrior-Folk

Fjöll's people are the barbarous warrior-folk of the mountain, living the typical tribe life. Men and women stand equal, as the blood of the mountain warriors as well as the harsh living conditions make for strong offspring, regardless of gender. Only strength and resourcefulness is of value in this community. Most villagers have the typical barbarian build : tall, broad shouldered, muscular but with the slight curves of those who enjoy life in the wild peaks, with loud voices and louder feasts.

Magic is a gift a significant part of the population are endowed with. It is not unreasonable for an expectant mother to hope for a child attuned to the crystals beneath the mountain. Roughly 15% of Fjöllans have some form of magical affinity, and it is common enough that not all who are gifted are pushed into professions related to it. The magic wielding warriors of the tribe use a discipline called Lithomancy, but they are commonly refered to as geomancers. The very best of them might aspire to become the village Aruspex, the spiritual leader of Fjöll.


Approx. 600 inhabitants

50%/50% male/female

100% human

What makes the village tick

Most of the population is dedicated to one of the village's four main activities : Hunting, Mining, Fighting and Farming.

Hunting and leatherworking

Main source of meat, hide, and more, hunting is the first of four pillars of Fjöllan economic activity. Led by the Master Hunts(wo)man, currently Yara StoneHaven, hunting parties of four to six leave up to three times a day, for a day to a week, depending on distance, prey and more. It is not unheard of that a party traveled dozens of kilometers to reach their prey, returning with exotic prey, and their pelts of the highest quality, in pristine condition.

Hunting is both a means of survival and a way to bring in revenue for the village. A varied group of craftsmen receive the fruits of the hunt and work to transform nature's bounty into clothing, armor, weapon parts, everyday items, and more. Of various quality, some of the output of these workers is headed for local use, while the items made from the best and most excellent pelts are destined for trade, or as prizes to be won at the holidays and festivals.

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In order for all of this cycle to succeed, the Master Hunts(wo)man is tasked with a difficult job : (s)he maps the hunting territory and makes sure every valued species is not overkilled. Planning for reproductive cycles, migration, racial territory and more, every hunting party has a specific objective when they leave Fjöll. Armed with knowledge of the land, the Master Hunts(wo)man often works with the Chieftain and the Guard Captain, as military and political objectives might require.

Mining, forging and the crystals

While one of the reasons Fjöll is so deep in the wilderness is to access the rare and valuable animal resources, the main reason to settle in so inhospitable terrain is the extremely rich iron ore vein under the village. Mining this iron ore keeps a fair amount of Fjöllans busy, using specially crafted mine carts to carry ore, gems and crystals back to town, to be fashioned into weapons, armor and more by the artisans.

Not only is the iron ore of a very high quality, the mine also contains the village's ace-in-the-hole, the crystals. Simply named, these shards of light-pink crystalline matter emit a soft glow, and are charged with magic energy. They vary in size, with most ranging from tiny to fist-sized, and have a central role in the village's revenue stream. Able to be added to most metalworking to enhance the properties of the crafted item, or to be socketed by a skilled smith to add any number of magical features, the magic items produced in Fjöll are known all over the region.

The crystals, however, have one main flaw : Their energy runs out quite quickly, which makes these magical items less valuable than one might think. The mountain folk have figured out a way to make this work in their favor nonetheless.

Defense, Warfare and Mercenary work

Upon entering the village, one is greeted by a guard post, manned day and night by a pair of lightly-armed soldiers. Most visitors come to conduct business with the Chieftain and are escorted down the cavern levels to the audience hall. If, for some reason, one is allowed to wander the town, guards keep an eye out.

Most military and guard business is conducted in the barracks, located at the top of the cavern, near the guard post. In addition to the guard captain (the Förste), there is always about a dozen guards on duty, and when their services are not needed for specific activities, they can be seen patrolling around town. In the barracks is a very large table full of maps, notebooks and reports, where hunts and patrols outside the village are staged.

Thanks to their crystal-laden weaponry, the Fjöllan military is widely-regarded as second to none, its relatively small size being its largest weakness. In case of all-out war, every adult in Fjöll is trained in the usage of some form of weapon and can be drafted for combat. Luckily, the harsh outside conditions and the village's location offer an advantageous defensive position which has not been attacked in recent history.

Magic weapons and armor are usually reserved for the extremely wealthy, the adventurous, and, usually, those who are both. It is not the case for Fjöll's soldiers, who almost all have some form of magical armament in their gear, for augmenting their magical abilities or simply to hit harder and be hit less hard.

Having a supernaturally well-armed and under-utilized military led Fjöll's leaders to develop a business out of it : Fjöll's well-known mountain warriors are lent out as mercenaries to carry out missions or to help round out a regiment in countries near and far who can afford their services. Multiple times a month, groups of five to ten soldiers clad in freshly recharged crystal-enhanced gear can be seen planning in the barracks, before leaving, sometimes months at a time.

Discovering Fjöll

As you delve deeper into the mountain, an unusually bright light shines at the end of the path. Coming out of the tunnel, a cavern larger than one would expect opens up before you, as you stand on a ledge at the top level. The well-traveled road leads down to a gate, likely a guard post. The stalagtite covered ceiling is cracked in places and daylight filters through, providing a faire amount of light to what appears to be an underground village.

Looking around, a network of stairs lead from one level to the next, with doors crafted to roughly match the cave openings that line the edges of the cavern. These can only be the homes, warehouses and varied "buildings" of the people living down here. Every level of the village looks buzzing with life, with people carrying various goods from one place to another, either by hand or, on the lower levels of the cave, using peculiar pink-glowing minecarts.

The villagers themselves all share roughly the same look : Large, bulky even, and wearing fur and leather clothing. You had heard of the mountain folk, particularly of their military and of their exquisite artisanal goods, but you didn't believe every single member of this community would look so strong. What one would think is an inhospitable snowy mountaintop cave is instead a large and well-organized community, brimming with life.

Peering down to the bottom floor, there is a group of smaller figures all sitting in a rough circle around one person. A group of children on the receiving end of a lecture by an elder-looking man, from the looks of it. Some of the various cavern entrances catch your attention, be it for how ornate they are, or because of the distinct glow coming from the gaps around the door...

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Farming and cooking

So high in the snowy mountains, no crops can grow and Fjöllans must be gatherers, right? Wrong! Long ago, the village Aruspex found a way to process crystals to make it glass-like. Once this was discovered, greenhouses were set up in the caverns along the top level, where cracks in the rocks let light through, to be enhanced and refocused by the crystal-glass.

Root vegetables and the like are the main production grown in these greenhouses, which can't generate the heat necessary for more delicate crops. At most hours of the day, farmers can be seen tending the various patches of soil and carrying harvests down to the granary, a cold cave on the bottom level of town.

Communal eating is the norm in Fjöll, with 3 main meals prepared in the cookery for all inhabitants to partake in. During the day, snacks are available in the kitchen, where a dozen people buzz around, cooking the next meal. Around 7:00, 12:00, and 17:00, the bell is rung, prompting all workers in the village to finish up their activity and join their friends and families for food well earned.

The politics of Fjöll

A village led by strength

The current Chieftain is Cinder StoneHaven (elder sister to Master Huntswoman Yara). She has been for the last few years, toppling the previous Chieftain in an unusual turn of events at the yearly Chief Challenge. She is currently residing in the Chieftain's Dwelling with her partner Hallak and their 3 children.

Strength is important in all parts of the world, and looking strong or being wily and politically strong can be enough. Not in Fjöll. Here, actual strength is everything. Be it spiritual strength, leadership, excellence in hunting and mining or physical might, people from every profession have historically been crowned Chieftain.

No matter the current Chieftain, most Fjöllan values never change. They have a strong communal bond, a will to share with and care for their brethren, and a light form of xenophobia. Strangers are tolerated, rather than welcomed, but one would hardly notice so as long as their stay were stated to be short, especially if the traveler were visiting for commerce or to seek to hire a mercenary unit. Fjöll is, however, part of a long-lived greater community of barbarian villages from all over the world, and visitors from those are welcomed as family, and are considered guests of honor, particularly during holidays and festivals. It isn't unheard of for a Chieftain to lend their dwelling to a visitor from abroad for their stay.

Even though their values are close to hunter-gatherer prehistoric societies, Fjöllans are not simple-minded or unevolved. They simply are in tune with their environment, exploiting nature's various bounties in a responsible and reasonable manner. People in all professions stay informed about technological advances through travel, peddling the fine wares of Fjöll all over the region.

Other nations usually consider Fjöll as a neutral party willing to trade in most wares, for the right price. Fjöllan traders stay up to date with outside politics and, as such, are shrewd traders.

Notable locations

Guard Post

Two guards armed with lances keep watch at the mouth of the tunnel leading outside the village, effectively blocking access to any intruder.

Those who earn the role of guard aren't usually the sharpest tool in the shed, but they are very strongly built and take no bullshit. Be honest with them, and they'll either give you what you need if the village can easily provide, take you to whomever you have business with, or they'll send you on your way after being given a hearty meal and a place to lie down for a bit.

They'll call the Förste for anything more complicated than directions or throwing someone out. Guards rotate positions every 12 hours, at 6:00 and 18:00, and never work more than 3 days in a row.


The barracks serve as a central location for hunting, the military, and guards. It can hold 12 warriors in garrison, with beds and related facilities. Those warriors normally man the guard post and patrol the town. The large main room is usually used for planning hunts, scouting sorties and basically anything that happens outside of the village.

Most of the time, the only person person one would find in here is the Förste, lieutenant and military advisor to the Chieftain, and the guards from last shift sleeping in their bunks.

The barracks can also be, after the forge storehouse, used as a secondary weapons depot, where anyone can pick up a weapon if need arises.


The first thing one notices when stepping inside these caves is that the smooth stone flooring is replaced with rich soil. A large crack in the ceiling lets a warm ruby-tinted light in, which explains how the crops growing within can thrive.

Working all over the greenhouses are the farmers dealing with various tasks, from watering to harvesting and everything in between.

Crystal Temple

The corridors leading into the temple are ornate and well decorated, as such a place of cult oft is, and that makes the constant traffic coming in and out look out of place. Every few minutes, mine carts full of ore move in out of the temple while empty ones move in the other direction.

After walking this long corridor for a few minutes, you emerge into a round room roughly 10 meters across, with a large 2-meter wide hole in the center. A stone handrail prevents people from falling through. Suspended through the hole by chains, a huge purple-pink crystal hangs, softly lighting the room with its glow. To the right of the entrance is a tall pile of small rug-like rectangles of fur, probably used in various religious rites.

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At the far left end of the room stands a pair large iron banded double doors. They are currently open and seemingly lead deeper into the mountain. On the otehr end of the room is a wooden door engraved with some sort of symbol : a snow covered tree on a hilltop, its roots buried deeply. The rest of the door is ornately decorated with gems, crystals and precious metals. It likely is the dwelling or the office of some temple officiant.

Crystal Temple : Aruspex' Chambers

The lavish wooden door is locked, and right after knocking, the voice of an older man can be heard : "Just a minute, I'm coming!". Selby WhiteRunner, the village Aruspex, is human, but at a glance it would be easy to mistake him for a half-giant. Standing over 2 meters tall he, despite his 83 years of age, has that muscular physique of the Fjöllan people, way more muscular than one would expect of an elderly holy man. Upon his opening the door, a pleasant mix of incense and fruity smells reach your nostrils.

Behind Whiterunner are his chambers : an office, a bed, few decorations, of which a magnificent long haired rug, and a tall bookcase, filled with books each more ancient and fragile looking than the next. The bookcase is tall enough that, even at 2 meters, Selby would still have to stretch to reach the higher shelves.

As Aruspex, Selby serves Fjöll as spiritual guide, researcher, magical trainer, advisor to the Chieftain, and more. He is of a generally jovial disposition and will likely let slip information Chief Cinder would rather he didn't.

Granary and Cookery

Nearest to the central plaza, on the lowest level of town, is where all the meals are prepared for the villagers. The first thing one notices upon entering the cookery is the small army of cooks preparing breakfast/lunch/dinner/a feast. A humbly equipped but sufficient kitchen holds the front part of the cave, with the back leading to the granary, where the meat and vegetables hunted and grown are stocked, as well as the traded grains and other ingredients. The large variety of meats on hand tells a lot about the hunting habits of these folks. It would appear the harsh weather doesn't prevent people from developing a finer palate.

Audience Hall

Right in the middle of town, the audience hall serves at times as a mayor's office, a meeting room, a forum for debate, and more. Usually, Chieftain Cinder StoneHaven "Chief Cinder" spends most of her time here, dealing with the various duties of her position. Upon entering, it becomes clear that this room is all business rather than charm. A large square table sits in the center of the room, waiting to be used for maps, contracts, ales, and more. Close, by the wall, is a strange piece of furniture made to hold maps, contracts, and treaties vertically, sliding the rolled up papers and scrolls in as in a scroll case. At the far end of the room is a seat that, while simply made and less adorned than a throne usually is, leaves no doubt as to the purpose of the one meant to sit on it.

As you come in, Chief Cinder is receiving the scouting reports of a young man, approximately twenty years old, who is still covered in snow, obviously just in from outside. She dismisses him quickly after noticing you, and welcomes you to Fjöll...

Chieftain's Dwelling

Chief Cinder, her partner Hallak and their three children live in this marginally larger house, compared to the dwelling a typical family of 5 would be assigned. The StoneHaven family rose to Chieftain by feat of combat. At the last Chief Challenge, Cinder and her siblings teamed up and managed to defeat the previous Chieftain in the tournament. Doing so earned her, being the eldest sibling, the right to ascend the mountain to commune with the spirits living in the sacerd volcanic hot springs. Whatever it is she discussed with the spirits, or what they showed her, the village elders were convinced that she was to be the new Chieftain.

Hallak is part of the hunter corps and specializes in skinning and tanning the day's catch. Their eldest daughter Yeska is showing promise, at only 9 years of age, occasionally accompanying her father in hunts and earning herself a fair few catches.

Craftsmen's terrace

The minute one steps foot inside the craftsmen's workplace, they understand why Fjöllan soldiers are so well armed. Blacksmiths, tanners, weavers and artisans of all kinds buzzing about, creating Fjöll's signature wares : their exquisitely crafted weapons and armor. Smelting ore, affixing crystals, stitching sinew, a small army of workers transforming the raw materials brought from the wilds by the hunters and the mountain by the miners. In the back, a large door embedded in the cavern wall leads to a storehouse filled with various crafted items, waiting for either the next caravan to be sold, or for the next battle to be used in.

This is the heart of the village's economic activity, and where most of its diverse people's hard work culminate. Ore brought by the miners is processed to be smelted and smithed, while beasts are carved, skinned and butchered, with the edible parts sent to the granary. The crystals are sorted by size and power, to be used either to strenghthen metal and furs, or to imbue finished products with further magical properties. A group of geomancers, those who chose crafting rather than warfare, are busy enchanting the fruits of their coworker's labor.

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Adventures and encounters in Fjöll

Life in Fjöll is deeply seated in tradition and rituals. It is a town for which following its age old values pays off, and its people will defend their way of life ferociously.

Ritual of adulthood

An encounter made for a party to learn about and find the village, or to gain favor in order to enter it.

Offering the plot hook

On the way along a road near Fjöll, a strongly built man can be met. Björn Jokull is a father and husband, and he's looking for his wife, Hanna. Their son Skogu recently reached the age for the traditional rite of manhood (or womanhood, depending), and as such, he departed for the hot springs up the mountain. Normally, the young men and women come back after spending the night at the peak. It is an open secret that youngsters undertaking the rite smuggle their friends to the mountaintop and spend the night partying, celebrating their newly adult buddy.

After more than a day, Hanna was worried something bad had happened to their little boy, and despite Björn's assurances that he was probably just partying for longer than usual, she left to find him. That was two days ago, and since she is one of the farmers of the village, she isn't as used to mountain trekking as the hunters, and now it is his turn to be worried about their safety. Björn lets the party know that a Fjöllan normally wouldn't prompt strangers for help in such a personnal matter, but the moutain is huge and he can't cover all this ground in a timely manner by himself. He can put in a good word with the village Chieftain if they help him, if they find Skogu and Hanna on their own, or if they can find and bring back proof of what happened to them.

Finding Hanna and Skogu

The young man was coming back from the rite when he encountered his mother Hanna in the opposite direction. She had fallen into a crevasse and stuck her leg between a rock and a log. Getting stuck saved her life from the fall, but now she cannot make her way out. Her leg is broken, and while luck was on her side that her son stumbled upon her, a couple of hungry bulettes (MM p.34) have them pinned, hoping to make the mother and son their next meal.

Skogu has bravely been keeping the bulettes at bay for the last 8+ hours, but his strength is fading, what with defending his mother for so long and the hangover from the rite from the day before.


If the party doesn't undertake this quest or doesn't manage to find Hanna and Skogu in time, Björn ends up finding them, albeit late. He succeeds in saving his wife and son from the bulettes, but Hanna loses her right leg to hypothermia. The Jokull family are in the infirmary when the party finally ends up in Fjöll.

Collapsed mine shaft

Another encounter made for a party to gain favor with the village, and also a way to learn more about the mine and the crystals.

Offering the plot hook

While hiking the mountain, the party hears a loud noise coming from around the bend. Upon reaching the origin of the sound, they find a large hole in the ground, some sort of underground tunnel that collapsed. They hear voices coming from beneath, arguing over how to deal with the rubble. An observant PC notices that there are pink crystals amongst the debris, and a magically attuned character notices that these crystal shards are magically charged.

The mine workers can be seen between the fallen boulders. Galen GraniteGrip, the foreman, says the workers have to clear the rockfall as fast as possible, while some of the workers try to make a case that moving the rocks might cause some more collapse, or even make the crystals react, or possibly explode.

After a few minutes, whether the party leans on Galen's side or not, one of the PCs receives a telepathic message (PHB p.259) from Ksenia Rubydeep, one of the mine workers. She was nearby when the collapse happened and she saw that it was caused by a creature that was digging under the mine shaft.

What's dwelling beneath the mine?

Depending on how you want your campaign to go next, this is a very flexible part of the encounter. I suggest an Earth Elemental (MM p.214), a Young White Dragon (MM p.101), or a Korred (VGM p.168).

Either of those have a burrow speed, but each might have a very different reason to be burying so close to a human settlement. The elemental might simply be a force of nature moving about, like a tornado, while the dragon might be protecting its territory, thinking the Fjöllan miners are encroaching on it. The Korred, being a fey creature, is likely pulling a prank it finds very funny, but is in fact very dangerous, or it is acting on a greater fey's word, a foreboding proposition.

Ksenia also firmly believes that clearing the rubble in the way Galen intends to is a very dangerous proposition which will likely hurt or kill more workers in the likely resulting explosion or additional rockfall.

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Clearing the rubble

If the party wants to help safely clear the rubble, they will first have to convince foreman GraniteGrip that his current plan is unwise. Galen is a man in his fifties, weathered by a life in the mines. He is also very typically Fjöllan in his xenophobia and his way of dealing with problems using brute strength. For him, the opinions of outsiders are irrelevant as they do not understand the values of his community.

The party will have to :

  • Assess whether Ksenia's fears are justified (they are).
  • Convince Galen they are trustworthy and that they can help.
  • Disarm the crystals within the rubble.
  • Help the miner crews secure the mine to make sure clearing the rubble won't trigger more collapses.
  • Actually move the rocks out of the way.
  • Prevent the digging creature from causing more trouble.

After convincing Galen of the danger, they might have to ask around town to learn more about the crystals and how to determine whether they are dangerous and how to disarm them if they are. Selby WhiteRunner is the most likely source of such information, but many artisans in town are knowledgeable on the subject. The main obstacle the party might encounter is that they are outsiders.

Roleplaying all of these will likely take some amount of time and, depending on your players, might be boring to some of them. "Grocery lists" such as these are a good opportunity to throw a skill challenge at the party.

Skill challenge : Rubble clear

Successes needed : 2xNumber of PCs (min. 6)

Failures allowed : 3

Skill DC : 13/18/23 depending on how likely the skill used would help.

Taking turns, each party member can try to use a skill they are proficient with, explaining how they use the skill, to deal with any part of the problem. A PC can only use a given skill once and another PC trying to use the same skill moves one step up on the skill DC difficulty. Each party member has to try one skill before the same PC can attempt another.

Dealing with the digging creature

No matter how much the party needs or wants to take care of the creature, the mountain folk are a strong and proud people who would really rather deal with such matters themselves. Whether the party needs to kill the creature themselves for another quest or because they want to see the job finished in order to feel at peace with themselves, the first thing that has to happen is to convince Chief Cinder to let them do so.

This part of the encounter is flexible and must be adapted to your campaign. Perhaps the creature is sacred from the Fjöllans' point of view and the party needs to redirect its digging elsewhere rather than kill it. Or maybe a group of warriors is already heading into the beast's lair and the party has to race them for glory.


However you want to set the party up, it is imperative you keep the end target in mind. Do you want Fjöll to be a place that welcomes the party as friends or heroes, or do you want Fjöll do remain a strong mysterious recluse nation that keeps to the edge of civilization? Make sure dealing with this creature leads to that end.

Yearly Chief Challenge

Tournament arc? Tournament Arc! Intended difficulty is for a party of seventh to tenth level adventurers. Adjust accordingly.

The yearly tradition is on! Challenging the chief for leadership of Fjöll is part festival, part election. Recognizing a party member's barbarian heritage, or because the party has distinguished itself and made themselves friends to the mountain people, Chief Cinder invites them to participate in the upcoming chief challenge. It happens sometime in the near future, and she would be honored to have them as guests from a faraway land. Friendly tribes from afar making sure the overall leadership is strong.

The festival takes place at the ritual hot springs, closer to the local spirits, in a stadium built for the occasion.

Tournament Rules

The main event is a single-elimination bracket tournament that happens over three rounds, with other festival activities happening during and between rounds. Selby WhiteRunner acts as both host and, with a few of the elders, referee. Using Thaumaturgy (PHB p.282), he can project his voice to everyone in the stadium and beyond.

Each team can have any amount of members, but usually have two to four. A maximum of two magic items, and one magic user are allowed for a team. Warriors with magical abilities may forfeit their use of magic to join a team already containing a spellcaster, using only their mundane aptitudes. Consumables are forbidden. Only a single short rest can be had, either between rounds one and two, or between rounds two and three. Winning is simple : knock the opposing team out.

Tournament Roster

Team name (Leader)
Thordra's Titans
Unity (Magnus)
Gojen's Thunder
Crystal Wardens (Ragnar)
The Blood Patrol (Chief Cinder)
Gwakka and the Primordials
Vigil (Stansig)
Insert your party's team name here

Gwakka and Stansig's teams can easily be swapped for other teams, if your party wants to split into multiple sub-groups, or to bring back a nemesis or running gag character.

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Team Composition

Stat blocks for some of these NPCs are provided in Appendix B, starting on page 11 of this document.

Thordra's Titans

Thordra is a short woman by Fjöllan standards, but that didn't stop her from gaining a reputation in the military for the technique she developped with her unit. They call themselves shieldmates and as expected from the name, they wield a shield. What one wouldn't expect, however, is they wield two shields! The shieldmate has such trust in their defensive gear that its protective properties extend to their mental, social, and physical defense. Thordra is a Master Shieldmate and she had the craftsmen develop shields especially for her. The resulting tower shields are called Lazuli and Garnet, and each is set with a fairly large crystal in the center.

Her team's strategy revolves around her getting the faces of the opponent, and using her shields' beam charging ability to provide a distraction while Aman and Elatha, her partners, pelt the enemy with darts. Elatha is the more nimble of the two and she, in addition to her darts, wields a bolas to try and tie the opponent to one another. Aman is the brawn of the team, and like the good soldier he is, mainly fires darts at the targets called by Thordra and bound by Elatha.

Gojen's Thunder

Gojen and his wife Magda hold the prestigious position of leading mercenary units. They are prouder than the already pretty proud average Fjöllan, and have the ruthlessness of well-traveled soldiers. They are in it to win, and will challenge the Chieftain if they do, as they think Fjöll should use its military advantage for conquest.

Gojen is a barbarian of the eagle totem, he fights with a glaive to make full use of the flying speed granted by the eagle. Meanwhile, Magda is a master beast tamer who commands three cave bears (MM p.334), who she treats like family. She fights with a magical throwing axe adorned with runes. It returns to her hand after being thrown and can deal elemental damage of her choice. She is also a geomancer with a connection to plants and vines, and she can grow paths out of nearby vegetation to bridge gaps or give her team or herself the high ground.

Overly competitive, and willing to do anything to win, Gojen has decided to give himself, unbeknownst to his wife, an unfair advantage by coating his weapon and the three bears' claws with neurotoxic poison.

Gojen in my Curse of Strahd game

In my game, Gojen was one of the barbarians on Yester Hill. They were hired as mercenaries to protect and help with WinterSplinter's summoning. He was supposed to form a fierce duo with the lead druid, leading to an epic boss fight while the rest of the druids and barbarians channeled the ritual.

My party ended up luring Gojen way out in the forest, and beating him up five on one. He pleaded for his life, ran away back to Fjöll, and ended up antagonizing the party, enough so that he became a dirty cheater, applying poison to his weapon and his wife's bears' claws.

The Blood Patrol

Chieftain "Chief Cinder" Cinder StoneHaven has decided to, once again, lead her siblings into glorious battle. This time, she brings her daughter Yeska to the arena, grooming her to become the next Chieftain after her. Accompanying them are Chief Cinder's sister Yara, master huntswoman, and her brother Mika, who is currently studying geomancy with Selby, and is widely regarded as the next Aruspex.

Chief Cinder wields the ornately decorated Eagle Totem headdress, which gives its wearer enhanced eagle totem abilities. Flying around on the battlefield, she uses her great axe to hit opponents hard and fast, dashing in and out of combat. An inspiring leader, she can command an ally to perform extra actions during her turn.

Master Huntswoman Yara is a typical hunter of the night. She uses terrain as cover to launch attacks unseen. She also uses the tracking arrows she makes for her hunts to tag enemies and make them unable to hide from her or her team members.

Mika StoneHaven has the Volcanic Runestaff and uses it to support his sisters with his spells, at times summoning diversions, or controling battlefield conditions. The other end of his Runestaff has a large bludgeoning bulge that doubles as a great maul, which he applies directly to the head of any opponent foolish enough to engage him in melee combat.

Finally, Chieftain's daughter Yeska has the blood of her parents, and will likely grow into a formidable woman. However, she still has the delicate frame of a child and her mother instructed her to concentrate on the alternate win conditions, while keeping an eye out for opportunities to help out.

The following teams are intended to be replaced or beaten in rounds not featured "on screen", hence their shorter description.


Milena and Dacso are a pair of inseparable best friends, seen undertaking hunts and guard duty together almost all the time. They're not in this to overthrow Chief Cinder, but proving themselves to their fellow tribemates. It goes without saying that they have each other's backs in this tournament, in this case literally. They have devised a combat technique that uses Dacso's magical talents to envelop them in an energy sphere that enables them to roll around the arena, trampling their opponents, while Milena fires arrows from within.

Once per short rest, they can unleash a variant on Dacso's powers that turns the sphere into a hybrid whirlwind of energy and metal, consuming both combatant's actions, but repositioning them as well as damaging nearby foes.

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Gwakka and the Primordials

Gwakka is one of the town geomancers that applies his magic to crafting. He has a particular affinity for fire, especially lava elementals. He is protected by two of his smith friends, who hold the enemy at bay while Gwakka and his elementals rain fire upon the enemy (his summoning cleverly circumvents the "one caster per team" policy).


Led by Stansig, this team is made up of town guards that yearn for a higher status. They are four, with two of the team specialized in shortbow, while the other two engage in melee combat.

Crystal Wardens

Ragnar is known in town as some kind of nut job, with a good eye for sifting through raw ore, but few know of his crystal clear (pun intended) ideas for new weapon and armor designs. Aliz is an armorsmith who lent an ear to Ragnar's ravings and is quickly rising through the ranks, thanks to the innovative designs she "gets inspired" from him.

Their latest invention is a full suit of crystal enhanced armor, propulsed by the magical energy therein. The end result is the fantasy equivalent of a prototype Iron Man suit. Ragnar dons the suit in battle, while Aliz provides battlefield repairs and crystal recharges.

The tournament bracket

This encounter is designed with the following bracket in mind. The match-ups in bold are favored to win.

Quarter Finals Semifinals Final
Your party
Thordra's Titans Your Party
----- vs
Vigil Gojen's Thunder
Gojen's Thunder Your Party
----- ----- vs
Crystal Wardens The Blood Patrol
Unity Unity/Crystal Wardens
----- vs
Gwakka and the Primordials The Blood Patrol
The Blood Patrol

The matches are designed so the party fights Thordra's Titans, Gojen's Thunder, and The Blood Patrol. All other matches are set up to lead to that. Crystal Wardens vs. Unity is therefore unimportant for the encounter storyline. Of course, all this can and will vary depending on your game and how your party wants to participate in the tournament. For example, a party might split into two participating teams, prompting you to rework this bracket.

Tournament Arenas

Fights takes place in one of four arenas, some with their own alternative victory condition.

Ice Bridge Arena

This arena consists of a wide river crossed by an ice bridge. The ice bridge is considered difficult terrain, and using the dash action while on it will prompt a saving throw to avoid falling prone on the ice.

Alternate Win Condition

Each party starts on either side of the river with a flag. Any party member can grab and carry the flag with an item interaction, but uses up one of their hands to do so, unless they find a way to attach it to their backpack or some other smart idea. Planting your team's flag in the opposing team's starting zone instantly wins the match for your team.

Water Arena

Built near a flooded stone building, this arena has stone walkways surrounded by water. The walkways are fifteen feet above the water line and there are rope ladders in strategic places for fighters to climb up and down. Each team begins the battle on one side of the arena, and each team has a rowboat to travel in.

Alternate Win Condition

In the middle of the arena is a larger stone area, and any team that manages to be the only team present in that area for two consecutive Beginnings of Round immediately wins the match. This means that having started initiative in the zone, if you manage to push enemies out of the zone before the beginning of the next round, you still win the match.

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Spectral Statues Arena

This arena is surrounded with ancient stern-looking statues, sculptings of previous Chieftains, Aruspices, and historical figures. Contrary to the others, it doesn't have an alternate win condition. The statues are animated by geomancers, and they fire magical rays at random targets, inexorably accelerating the fight towards a conclusion.

Total Combatants Beams per round
1-4 1
5-6 2
7-8 3
9+ 4 + 1 per 3 additional combatants

My Saving Throw Notation

I don't like how wordy saving throws are in official textbooks, so I ended up creating the following notation.

"WIS@12" means the target must succeed on a Wisdom Saving Throw with a DC of 12, or suffer whatever consequence follows.

Half the beams fire on initiative 20, and the other half on initiative 10. Alternate every round on which initiative count the odd beam fires (ex. for 7 combatants, 2 beams fire at initiative count 20, and 1 at 10, and the next round, 1 beam fires at 20 and 2 at 10). While the beams are supposed to be targeted at random, you might want to fudge this a bit to make it more fair or obtain the outcome you planned for. Do not forget to adjust the amount of beams that fire each round as combatants fall in battle. The beams' powers are as follows :

d6 Beam Name Description
1 Pushing Ray The targeted creature must STR@14 or be pushed up to 15 feet directly away from the statue and have its speed halved until the end of their next turn.
2 Ray of Cold The targeted creature must DEX@14, taking 27 (5d10) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
3 Enervating Ray The targeted creature must CON@14, taking 27 (6d8) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
4 Phantasmal Ray The targeted creature must INT@14 or have visions of their greatest fear, suffering the paralyzed condition for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
5 Sleep Ray The targeted creature must WIS@14 or fall asleep and remain unconscious for 1 minute. The target awakens if it takes damage or another creature takes an action to wake it.
6 Charm Ray The targeted creature must CHA@14 or be charmed as if it was caused by the nearest enemy combatant. The affected creature moves its full movement towards the target of its affection, and cannot attack it. The affected creature can make additional saving throws at the end of its turn or if it suffers damage.

Boulders Arena

The last arena takes place in a field full of large boulders. Vision is impaired, making hiding easier than in most fights. Guerilla tactics might come into play, readying actions waiting for an opponent to turn the corner, for example.

Alternative Win Condition

Amongst the rubble, a golden pebble has been hidden. Once per team per round, as a bonus action, a character standing by one of the boulders may search for the golden pebble. On the searching character's next turn, if that character wasn't hit with an attack or damaged while searching, the character can roll to find. The probability is a stacking 1/30 chance of successfully finding the golden pebble.

A character standing in the middle of the arena, presenting the golden pebble to the referees immediately wins the match for their team.

Stacking Probability?

The first search has 1/30 chance of success, the second search has a 2/30 chance, and so on, independantly of who or which team makes the search. This represents each boulder being searched, without pre-placing the golden pebble.

Why 1/30? Well, 1 in 20 stacked too fast, making it so both teams searching alternatively would end the match before the end of the third round way too often, missing on some sweet dramatic tension.

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Events outside the tournament itself

Before the tournament starts

Each team's champion is invited to the Champion's Lodge for a pep talk by Selby, a reminder of the rules, and an occasion to discuss with the other leaders in private.

Outside, characters are free to scout the other teams, and the available arenas. Being guests of honor, they might get first choice for their field of battle. Or you can use the following sequence of arenas so each team can feature their strengths or weaknesses :

Opponent Arena Why?
Thodra's Titans Spectral Statues Arena The beams might interrupt Thordra while she's charging her attack, helping the party.
Gojen's Thunder Ice Bridge Arena Magda's ivy bridges will help her bring her flag to the other team's base more easily.
The Blood Patrol Boulders Arena Chief Cinder's daughter Yeska is kind of useless in a fight, but she can be the one dedicated to searching for the golden pebble.

Between quarter and semifinals

Various feats of strength, will, toughness, and more are featured, in a friendly competition. For example : Lifting, beer drinking, log splitting, a variant of biathlon with a bow rather than a gun, etc.

Characters might want to partake in the festivities, or simply hang back while waiting for their next round of battle, though participating might make them better known and better liked by the people.

Between semifinals and the final

A crafting contest featuring weaving, smithing, cooking, prospecting, leather sewing, and more. Each character with a crafting proficiency may enter either the pro or amateur contest categories for fame and prizes.

Feast of Unity

The tournament ends with an event long awaited by the children, who were all up to now much more tame than one would expect dozens of children to be at a festival. Bags full of pieces of confited fruit, various candy and snacks are hung from a tall tree's branches at various heights. After a short speech by the Chief, everyone, the tournament winner first, and then everyone who participated in the various challenges, get to shoot (Be that with a bow, a javelin, a sling or some form of magical projectile) at the bags to free the goodies inside, piñata-style. Everyone is reminded that while the day's events were of a competitive nature, the village as a whole stands united and no bad blood remains. A feast follows that extends late at night and into the early morning, during which rivalries might arise and scores might get settled.

For my game, I used Cze and Peku's coliseum maps, especially the "Earth Trial" for the boulder arena, the "Enchanted Statues" for the spectral statues arena, and "Tri Battle" for the water arena.

I also used Crosshead's snow set - water map for the ice bridge arena.

I would like to thank the r/curseofstrahd community, in particular DragnaCarta and MandyMod for the inspiration they gave to so many Curse of Strahd DMs for free. Some of use like to use your stuff verbatim, and some of us rework, retool, and expand upon it, but I think most Curse of Strahd campaigns end up with at least a little bit of your soul in them.

I would like to send a shoutout to MonkeyDM, whose well-made Ship of the Damned short adventure inspired me to commit what initially began as scribbles in Roll20 handouts to the page.

I would also like to thank the players in my current Curse of Strahd campaign. Kara, Shiraku and Gilimdir, you brought me back to DMing D&D after a years-long dry spell, and you tolerate all the underdesigned and unbalanced suff I bring to the table. Thank you. Hopefully my reworked Baron Strahd Von Zarovich doesn't absolutely destroy your behinds.

©2021 Chlikaflok - Made with Homebrewery

Appendix B - Stat Blocks

Thordra's Titans

Thordra, Master Shieldmate

medium humanoid, lawful good

  • Armor Class 20 (Splint mail + 2 shields)
  • Hit Points 85(10d8 + 40)
  • Speed 25ft.

14 (+2) 8 (-1) 18 (+4) 15 (+2) 12 (+1) 13 (+1)

  • Saving Throws STR+5, DEX+2, CON+7, INT+5, WIS+4, CHA+4
  • Challenge 5 (1800 XP)

My armor and shields protect me. Wielding a second shield grants +1 AC, rather than none.

Thordra is proficient in all saving throws (already accounted in her stat block)

Sentinel-ish. Per the Sentinel feat, but can also use a reaction after being attacked by a melee strike to counterattack with Shield Bash.


Imma Chargin' Mah Lazer. (Old memes. So sue me!) Thordra assembles Lazuli and Garnet together, and charges energy.

At the beginning of her next turn, a beam fires from the two shields, prompting targets in a 50ft. long and 10ft. wide area to DEX@16, suffering 5d10 cold damage and 5d10 force damage on a failed save, or half damage on a successful one.

Hitting one of the shields disables that beam (-5ft. wide, lose the cold or force damage). Hitting both shields before they fire discharges them harmlessly.

MultiAttack. Thordra uses her Shield Bash attack twice.

Shield Bash. Melee Weapon Attack:+7, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) bludgeoning damage plus 2 (1d4) cold (Lazuli) or force (Garnet) damage.

On a hit, the target must succeed on a STR@15 or either be knocked prone or be pushed 10ft. in a direction of Thordra's choice.

Elatha and Aman, Dart Throwers

Those two have a very similar stat block, so here's what they have in common :

Elatha and Aman, Dart Throwers

medium humanoid, neutral good

  • Armor Class 14
  • Hit Points 52(8d8 + 16)
  • Speed 30ft.

12 (+1) 16 (+3) 14 (+2) 11 (+0) 10 (+0) 11 (+0)

  • Saving Throws DEX+6, CHA+3
  • Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Horde Breaker. Any ranged attack can have an additional target if both targets are within 5ft. of each other. Roll for each attack separately.


MultiAttack. They use their Dart attack twice.

Dart. Ranged Weapon Attack:+6, Range 30/120, one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage.

Elatha has the ability to throw a bolas to bind two opponents together, enabling the Horde Breaker feature. She also has a modified MultiAttack to use the bolas in place of one of her darts.

Bolas. Ranged Weapon Attack:+8, Range 30/120, two adjacent targets.

Hit: Targets are linked, have their speed halved and when one of them moves, the other must follow.

Creatures hindered by a bolas can, as an action, break free of the bind. Both creatures can now move independantly, but the one still attached to the bolas has their speed reduced by 10ft.

MultiAttack. Elatha can use her Dart attack twice. She can replace one of the Dart attacks with her Bolas.

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Aman uses slightly larger darts, and has an additional movement ability, as follows :

Scurry. Aman can, as a bonus action, use the disengage action.

Dart. Ranged Weapon Attack:+6, Range 30/120, one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) piercing damage.

Gojen's Thunder

Gojen, Eagle-Totem Barbarian

medium humanoid, chaotic neutral

  • Armor Class 16 (hide)
  • Hit Points 75(10d8 + 30)
  • Speed 40ft.

17 (+3) 15 (+2) 17 (+3) 11 (+0) 13 (+1) 11 (+0)

  • Saving Throws STR+6, CON+6
  • Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing
  • Challenge 4 (1100 XP)

If I'm going down, so are you. When Gojen drops to 0 hit points, he can, as a reaction, make two melee attacks against one creature within 10ft. of him.


MultiAttack. Gojen makes two Silvered Glaive attacks or two javelin attacks.

Silvered Glaive. Melee Weapon Attack:+7, reach 10ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10+5) slashing damage.

Javelin. Ranged Weapon Attack:+7, Range 30/120, one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage.

Poison-tipped Silvered Glaive. Melee Weapon Attack:+7, reach 10ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10+5) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) poison damage.

Targets hit must CON@15 or be poisoned until the end of their next turn. Targets poisoned in this fashion suffer thusly:

  • Movement speed is halved.
  • Armor Class and Dexterity have a -2 penalty.
  • Can either use an action or bonus action, not both.
  • Can't make more than one melee or ranged attack during their turn.

Magda, Bear Tamer

medium humanoid, neutral evil

  • Armor Class 16 (Chain Mail)
  • Hit Points 59(9d8 + 18)
  • Speed 30ft.

16 (+3) 10 (+0) 15 (+2) 14 (+2) 8 (-1) 12 (+1)

  • Saving Throws DEX+3, CON+5
  • Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Master Bear Tamer. Has three large bear companions, which she can command as a bonus action. Their default behavior is defending their master (they stay near their master and ready an attack).

My boys loooove their mama. After being hit by an attack, Magda can use her reaction to have all of her bear companions within 15ft of the attacker rush and attack with their bite.


MultiAttack. Magda attacks with her RuneForged Throwing Axe and uses her vine bridge ability, in the order of her choice.

RuneForged Throwing Axe. Ranged Weapon Attack:+7, Range 30/120, one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) slashing damage plus 4 (1d6+1) fire or cold or lightning or acid damage. It returns to her after the attack.

Vine Bridge. Magda creates a 5ft high and 20ft. long vine originating at a point within 15ft of her. The vines are strong enough to step on.

Magda's bears are regular Cave Bears, but with the following addition to their stat block :

Poison-coated Claws. Melee Weapon Attack:+7, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6+5) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) poison damage.

Targets hit must CON@15 or be poisoned until the end of their next turn. Targets poisoned in this fashion suffer thusly:

  • Movement speed is halved.
  • Armor Class and Dexterity have a -2 penalty.
  • Can either use an action or bonus action, not both.
  • Can't make more than one melee or ranged attack during their turn.

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The Blood Patrol

Chief Cinder StoneHaven, Fjöll Chieftain

medium humanoid, chaotic good

  • Armor Class 17 (hide)
  • Hit Points 116(11d12 + 44)
  • Speed 40ft. ; fly 40ft.

18 (+4) 16 (+3) 18 (+4) 10 (+0) 11 (+0) 13 (+1)

  • Saving Throws STR+8, CON+8
  • Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing
  • Challenge 6 (2300 XP)

Fated Parry. Chief Cinder can use her reaction to add her proficiency bonus (+4) to her AC for a single attack.

If that is enough to deflect an otherwise successful attack, she can make a counter-attack after parrying.

Flyby. Leaving reach of a creature doesn't cause attacks of opportunity if Chief Cinder entered that reach in the same round.

Inspiring Rage. Chief Cinder can use her bonus action to command an ally within earshot to immediately either :

  • Attack (once)
  • Move
  • Disengage + ½ Move
  • Dodge


MultiAttack. Chief Cinder makes there GreatAxe attacks.

Enhanced Reckless MultiAttack. Chief Cinder can make two attacks with advantage with her GreatAxe. She does NOT suffer from the usual Reckless Attack drawbacks.

GreatAxe. Melee Weapon Attack:+8, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 20 (2d12+7) slashing damage.

On a critical hit, she rolls an additional d12, for a total of 5d12+7.

Yeska, Chieftain's Daughter

small humanoid, neutral

  • Armor Class 14 (hide)
  • Hit Points 18(5d6)
  • Speed 35ft.

10 (+0) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 12 (+1) 16 (+3)

  • Saving Throws DEX+4, CHA+5
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Mom told me to find the thing. Yeska can roll to find the golden pebble right away instead of at the beginning of her next turn.

Tiny, but Fierce. Yeska can attempt to hide from behind another creature. She also needs less coverage to attempt to hide.


MultiAttack. Yeska makes two sling attacks.

Sling. Ranged Weapon Attack:+4, Range 30/120, one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) piercing damage.

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Mika, Aruspex Hopeful

medium humanoid, chaotic good

  • Armor Class 14 (hide)
  • Hit Points 52(8d8 + 16)
  • Speed 30ft.

15 (+2) 14 (+2) 14 (+2) 12 (+1) 18 (+4) 14 (+2)

  • Saving Throws CON+5, WIS+7
  • Damage Resistances Fire
  • Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Volcanic RuneStaff. Mika's weapon has been blessed with volcanic powers. One end of the weapon can be used as a maul, and flipping it over reveals a blazing runestaff.

After casting a spell, the Volcanic RuneStaff shoots out a bolt of magmatic energy at a target, mimicing the effect of the produce flame spell.

Spellcasting Mika is a 5th level spellcaster, his casting ability is Wisdom, and he has the following spells prepared :

  • Cantrips : Primal Savagery, Produce Flame, Thorn Whip
  • 1st level : Absorb Elements, Faerie Fire, Healing Word, Ice Knife
  • 2nd level : Dust Devil, Healing Spirit
  • 3rd level : Call Lightning, Conjure Animals, Wind Wall


MultiAttack. Mika may make one attack with the Volcanic Great Maul and cast a spell, in any order.

Volcanic Great Maul. Melee Weapon Attack:+5, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6+2) bludgeoning damage plus 3 (1d6) fire damage.

Yara, Master Huntswoman

medium humanoid, neutral good

  • Armor Class 16 (studded leather)
  • Hit Points 72(11d8 + 22)
  • Speed 30ft.

12 (+1) 18 (+4) 14 (+2) 13 (+1) 15 (+2) 9 (-1)

  • Saving Throws DEX+7, INT+4
  • Skills Stealth +10, Perception +8
  • Challenge 4 (1100 XP)

Uncanny Dodge. Per the rogue class feature Uncanny Dodge.

Sneak Attack Per the rogue class feature Sneak Attack (4d6).

I hunt at night... As a bonus action, Yara can Attempt to Hide. I can strike first. If Yara takes the Attack action on her first turn in combat, she can make one additional weapon attack as part of that action.


MultiAttack. Yara may make one tracking arrow attack and a regular hunter's bow attack.

Tracking Arrow. Ranged Weapon Attack:+9, Range 50/200, one target.

Hit: Target is splashed with a thick pink paint-like liquid. For the next two turns, any attempt to hide by the marked target is made at disadvantage.

Hunter's Bow. Ranged Weapon Attack:+7, Range 50/200, one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) piercing damage.

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