Mother Muck was a castle-sized snapping turtle that dwelt in the swamps south of the stilt town of Badwater. When old age finally did what no soldier or ship could, the locals celebrated her passing with a feast for the ages. No longer would they fear her wandering through and carelessly razing the town, or crushing an entire fishing boat and its crew in her beaked maw. With Mother Muck dead and gone, Badwater and her people were finally safe.
And then, a year after her death, Mother Muck stood up.
Shortly after her death, an enterprising lizardfolk clan claimed the corpse as their own and renovated it to serve as a mobile fortress. Now steam and smoke billow from vents and pipes in the iron-hard shell as the great beast lumbers through the swamp.
Common Features – As the players explore Mother Muck, they will experience recurring features throughout.
- Lighting – Metal pipes weave throughout the corpse, carrying a strange alchemical liquid from the engine room. Every ten feet, small sections of these pipes are replaced with glass tubing to allow the phosphorescent liquid to shed its odd, scintillating light to the chambers and passageways.
- Floors, Ceilings, and Walls – the chambers and tunnels throughout Mother Muck are crude, wooden affairs through which blood and viscera seep through every crack and cranny. Ceilings are seven feet tall everywhere but the engine room.
- General Atmosphere – It’s a giant, rotting turtle stuffed full of strange machinery and too many people. It stinks, it squishes, and it rocks from side to side constantly. It is, in a word, unpleasant.
Feel free to sprinkle these throughout Mother Muck or use the table to populate the rooms with enemies. I did not include stats for these monsters so please consult your favorite RPG bestiary to find acceptable analogs. I also did not include how many monsters to use or how rare each sort of monster is. Follow your heart and remember one thing: encounter balance just gets in the way of good storytelling.
-Escaped, mad captive
-Giant constrictor snake
Approaching Mother Muck
A rickety guard tower juts twenty feet above the back of Mother Muck and is occupied by three short bow-wielding lizardfolk who watch for intruders. They will fire on any who approach the giant turtle, though the rocking of their perch and the distance from the tower to their targets give their attacks disadvantage. They can also sound an alarm should they feel unable to deal with a threat on their own. There is a hatch directly below the tower that leads into the common room (Area 4).
Players could also try to enter the “southern hatch” at the base of the turtle’s tail which is roughly fifteen feet above the ground. This garbage chute leads to the filth pit (Area 10) which is largely unguarded, though not unoccupied. A hungry ooze dwells here, feasting on the organic refuse that passes through. Players taking any damage while in or near the garbage chute must save vs. poison or contract filth fever.
Lastly, players could attempt a frontal assault on the head (Area 1), though this would likely end in death. Mother Muck’s beak has been reinforced with serrated metal and her tongue has been replaced with a sizeable ballista capable of firing three shots before needing to be reloaded. A very narrow tunnel leads up to a trap door in the floor of Area 1.
Inside Mother Muck
Area 1: The Cabin – Six lizardfolk soldiers struggle to coordinate the movements of their mobile fortress by manipulating a variety of flywheels, bellows, ropes, cranks, and levers. Their movements are overseen by a hulking orange lizardfolk cleric called Captain Dernek. Dernek is second in command and will defend the command center to the death. At the first sight of the players, Dernek demands they sound the alarm to warn the others of the intruders. Should he fall in battle, the remaining lizardfolk soldiers will abandon their post and scatter throughout the other rooms, shouting warnings to their fellow crewmates.
Area 2: Armory – Unguarded and full of a variety of crude armor and weapons. Players can find just about any standard type of weapon or armor here, however very little of it is made of metal and, as a result, breaks easily (Quality 1) If an alarm has been sounded, 1d6 lizardfolk can be found here arming themselves.
Area 3: Sleeping Nest – The floor of this dark room is a mass of uncured furs and rags where the lizardfolk sleep in a huge communal pile. The finest furs at the center of the nest show where Bright Veleda, the engineer responsible for Mother Muck’s “resurrection” and the leader of this lizardfolk clan, sleeps. Various bits of treasure can be found tucked within folds of the furs – coins, objet d’art, precious gems, etc. Whether players enter during the day or night, 1d10 lizardfolk are sleeping here (unless the alarm was sounded, in which case they are awake and veeeery cranky).
Area 4: Common Room – A dirty room cramped with crates and crude tables at which sit 1d6 lizardfolk. Cured meats swing from the ceiling on chains, a 1d4 normally aggressive giant lizards lounge close to the glowing braziers that line the walls, and an exhausted half-elf bard named Thieric Sand sings hoarsely in the corner. If rescued, Sand explains he was captured while camping in the swamp over a month ago. He knows there are other captives but has been kept here since his imprisonment. Whatever your players’ reason for infiltrating Mother Muck, Thieric is a great way to feed them necessary information. Or just replace him with someone who fits your campaign.
Area 5: Chapel/Captive Quarters – The smell of rot and incense mixes in a sickening mélange. A number of enslaved captives sit chained to thick log pews, drugged by the heady incense. The walls of this chamber and the altar at the front of the room are coated in a thick, viscous layer of gore. A featherless ravenfolk shaman, Pale Aris, preaches from behind the altar, accompanied by 1d2 acolytes. Her words are a mix of dozens of disparate sermons from many different faiths. Though the words are meaningless, her words can charm anyone listening for more than a few moments.
Area 6: Bright Veleda’s private room – Veleda’s private chamber is sparsely decorated, though the few things here are of the highest quality. Her stout oak desk is covered in stacks of schematics for a variety of strange and terrible machines. A large chest which doubles as her chair is filled with the best loot her tribe has gathered. It’s also a great place to hide mcguffins, plot-centric information, and hooks for future campaigns. Maybe there’s a diary written in draconic explaining her plans, or a letter from her patron giving her marching orders, or a map on the wall showing her ultimate target. Who knows!
Area 7: Engine Room – The great machine that drives Mother Muck is a complex and fragile system of wheels, pipes, and tubes that snake throughout the giant corpse in a dizzying array. The ceilings of this room are thirty feet high and crisscrossed with crude vine and stick walkways that wind around the various vats, tanks, and tubes that fill the space. Unless she is asleep, Bright Veleda is here overseeing the great machine and making sure her captives are feeding enough combustibles into the furnace to keep Mother Muck moving. If reduced to half her total HP, Veleda will sabotage the machine, filling the entire room with poisonous, burning steam and making her escape through whichever exit is most convenient. A number of lizardfolk (1d10+2, say) help manage the captives and tend to the machinery.
Area 8: Supply Closet – This room is full of tools and spare parts for the great machine. The door is locked and Bright Veleda has the only key which she keeps around her neck on a bit of leather.
Area 9: Sealed Room – When the lizardfolk began…excavating…Mother Muck, they found she was full barrel-sized eggs. They gathered these eggs and placed them in a warm room adjacent to the Furnace hoping they would hatch and bond with their lizardfolk handlers. Unfortunately, the things that emerged from the eggs were not trainable…or alive. Dozens of dog-sized zombie hatchlings spilled out and attacked, and only a combined effort of the entire tribe forced them back into the room and sealed them inside. 1d12+3 zombie hatchlings remain.
Area 10: Midden Room – Rotten food, broken objects, and dead captives are thrown here to rot. Living captives who try to escape or prove uncooperative spend their days toiling in the dark stink of this place under the watchful eyes of the lowest ranking tribe members. A large ooze lurks in the shadows of the place, feeding off the refuse and any weak captives who wander too far from the group. If a fight takes place here, the lizardfolk will try to escape, either into Area 7 or out of the garbage chute and onto the ground below after putting up only the most cursory resistance. The captives, though they outnumber the lizardfolk here, are too weak to help in combat.
Conclusion Maybe Mother Muck has been put to rest once and for all. Perhaps your players have a sweet new (disgusting) ride…until it rots apart entirely. Maybe something else happens entirely. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed Mother Muck. Let me know how you used her, what you changed, and what we can do better in future Drop-In Delves by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting on this post – we love hearing from you!