March 2017 Report

I knew that I would’ve needed to work til March to get Æthercoil Magazine #4 ready for DriveThruRPG.  All that’s left for that issue is a couple illustrations to color as well as the necessary grammar checking.  Once that’s done, the issue will be sent ASAP.  But that’s not the only development on the site.

As you see on the left, I’ve updated the Social Media and Support Links.  You can not only catch me on Google Plus, but also no and  You’ll notice that I prefer those two sites over the usual suspects; the reason is on principle.  Social Media sites who would censor, ban, shadowbanning which is a real dick move (I mean, come on:  Banning someone without telling them?  There ought to be a law against that.  That’s right, Reddit, I’m looking at you.) demonetizing accounts (that one’s for Youtube.) and outright kick out people for having an opposing view because they made someone feel bad, would just as soon kick someone like me out just because…well, because fuck David Gonterman.  It’s been done before.  That’s why I don’t do Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and most recently, DeviantART; I’d rather walk out of a place where I’m certainly not welcome in before I get thrown out at best, dragged out on a rail at worst.  I find social media that value freedom of speech, thought, and creativity a lot more welcoming.  Granted, some might find some of the commentators in Gab and Minds disconcerting, especially when you’re a Millennial College Student, but for someone like me who just want to create for a living without having to hear someone going “Check Your Privilege, White Boy!” every five minutes, I’m more comfortable in the sites I’m on then the more common ones.

“But Davey,” you’d say, “I know that you’re in the Alt Right, but come on.  You’re not a provocateur like Milo, or an abrasive Youtuber like Sargon of Akkard, or even someone like PewDiePie.  You’re a D&D Dungeon Master creating your own campaign setting.  Hell, you still even scribble a drawing or two and post it on that digital fridge door you call your web site.  Outside of a snide remark or unconventional view, you’re not that argumentive, you don’t shit post, you don’t go out of your way to be offensive, you just an honest joe trying to make good with your talents.  That’s not going to get you banned.  There’s nothing about you that will get you banned.”

And I say “Like that is going to stop someone from banning me.”

So, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are out; and and Minds are in.  That’s just the way it is.

(Sidebar:  I separate “Alt Right” from “Extreme Right”.  “Extreme Right” is the ones that people warn you about:  The Spencers, the Stormfronts, the Neo-Nazis, the people who think that 1,488 is more than just a number, the groups that you’d probably see more in Gangland and Lock-up, as you should.  The Alt Right, by contrast, is the group of free-thinkers and open-minded folk who are counter to the prevailing Progressive movement.  This group might have Right in the label, but that’s not as much “right of center” as “right of Hillary Clinton.” They include Classical Liberals, Classic Feminists, Libertarians, Gay Republicans, Online Philosophers, Gamers, Middle Class people who voted for Obama twice, People of Color who reject Black Lives Matter, and other people who think that the current political establishment is out of touch with them.  People who didn’t like where their homeland is going with Obama and Hillary, and did not appreciate being called “Deplorables” while they’re at it.  People who might not have voted for Donald Trump, but prefer to live without worrying about Microagressions, Trigger Warnings, Intersectionality, and Pronouns that get that squiggly red line in Word at every turn.

To put it another way, The Alt Right of today is like the Counter Culture of the 1960-70s.

I consider myself part of the Alt Right because it’s the most welcoming group:  The Progressives see a Cis White Male, and the Extreme Right sees an Autistic; either side would see someone they’d want to punch.)

By now, the Paytron site is up and running.  I have it soft launched now and have some free artwork on it.  I’ll announce Magazine launches on there, but this won’t get much progress until I finish creating the Æthercoil Starter Set, which I’ve started work on last month.  You’ll get more information about it in Æthercoil Magazine #4, but the gist of the project is that I wanted to make a Starter Set that is more of a “RPG in a Box” than the Wizards of the Coast 5E starter set is.  My Starter Set will have everything you need to run a short dungeon delve, which is what you need to get people into both D&D as a game and Æthercoil as a setting, with minimal preparation on the DM’s part.  I should have this ready by the Summer.

Meanwhile, there is a more immediate support site linked here, in the form of a Ko-fi page.  I really don’t ask for much for you, the visitor, and hopefully someone who likes my work; just a cup of coffee will do.  At just three dollars a cup, you show me your appreciation of my work and encourage me to keep going, which only makes the java that much sweeter to my lips.

Also unspoken is the obvious:  If I get enough donations, I could get a new computer powerful enough to get me back streaming sessions, which is what I want to do in the first place.

In between issues #4 and #5, there might be a need for me to prepare something that might go into the Dungeon Master’s Guild.  My Curse of Strahd customization has been on the back burner, but there’s something else that piqued my interest.  While Chapter 3 of Storm King’s Thunder might not see a conversion into Æthercoil—it’s a detailed depiction of Forgotten Realm’s Savage North, after all—I have found both of my groups, the Encounters table on Wednesdays and especially my Thursday Roll20 group, are establishing their own home base in the Realms, with the possibility of creating a guild that their next characters will hail from.  A lot of DM’s actually rejoice at that, including myself.  It’s why I created the Homesteading Mechanic in the first place (Which will be revised in Æthercoil Magazine #5).  But that isn’t the only thing.

As you might know, Tales of the Yawning Portal isn’t a true Campaign per se, but a group of famous dungeons brought up to the current system.  Placing them into a believable campaign (instead of just throwing the dungeons onto the party end to end, which I don’t want) is going to be tricky, and might require a bit of overland travel.  Even with the main idea for my next campaign, an upgrade of Scourge of the Sword Coast which will link up with the Dead in Thay dungeon in this upcoming book, there’s a need for me to reuse Chapter 3 of Storm King’s Thunder.

Hence my first Dungeon Master’s Guild will be a variation of this Chapter, retooled to be Campaign Agnostic.  This version of The North can be used for any campaign needed, as long as it’s set in the North and there’s a need to have quests automatically set up.  You can just take the campaign you’re needing—be it purchased or homemade—and just drop the “Reset Savage North” into it, saving you that much headache in the design.

The Reset Savage North document will not be discussed in Æthercoil Magazine, obviously, but I might have it up for discussion in my Social Medias as well as Reddit, which has a well-established community with plenty of people to bounce ideas around.  (Until I get shadowbanned for being a Cis White Male, of course)

Feburary Update: Pateron is up, New Player’s Wiki

There was a time when things got a bit swamped for time for a couple weeks, but I managed to get stuff done.

First of all is the switch from a GoFundMe to what I wanted to have, a Patreon.  This is where most of my newer content, including my Æthercoil campaigns, will be promoted.  Right now, my Patreon is soft-launched; it’s out but there’s little in it yet.  I have it out now so I’ll have a place to put in and preview Æthercoil’s first official adventure, the Starter Set.  As Patrons show up and put money into the system, I’ll add adventures that expand to that Starter Set as well as start up campaigns.

The second is the official launch of the Player’s Wiki.  This is the official “Player’s Handbook” for Æthercoil.  Since the campaign setting works with D&D 5E (You can even use the Basic Rules to get started), I use a lot of material from the Rulebooks and build on them.  This Wiki references a lot from these books (having them available is required since the System Resource Document and the Open Game License doesn’t allow me to just Copypasta whole parts fo the books.) and accepts most of the Unearthed Arcana.  I put in there the parts that I created and modified for the players to use.)

As I mentioned elsewhere, if Wizards of the Coast has any problems with the wiki, please let me know first before you hit me with the Cease and Desist.  I’ll change the part that’s the problem.

February will see some more action on this site.  I’m working on the second draft of Æthercoil Magazine #4, with additional artwork which will have a view here, as well as the Starter Set. Once both is put in official form, the Patreon will really have a proper start, and hopefully my New Years Resolution will come true.

A New Year’s Resolution

By the time I’m typing this, fireworks is flying outside for the ringing of the new year.  2016 is gone, thank fucking God.  2016 was a mixed bag for me, and it’s not because of all the deaths, Donald Trump or—IMHO the reason 2016 is “The Worst Year Ever”—the Cubs winning the World Series.  This was the year that one door got closed for me; web comics, and another door opening; Dungeon Mastering and Campaign Creation.  Granted, both were going on since the beginning of 2016, but it’s the just-now-past year is when I believe the transition took place.

I’m saying this because I feel that I got my groove back when it comes to creating with Æthercoil.  Probably the biggest criticism I may have gotten, or what some would say about me, is that I don’t have a work ethic; that I won’t work hard to achieve what I want.  But I don’t consider myself “a lazy good for nothing SSI case” because I can work hard.  The Proof is in my Dungeon Mastering.  I find myself typing away at my computer planning sessions, doing research, and even worldbuilding with Æthercoil Magazine.  Sometimes late into the night and into the next morning.  I also find myself enjoying this work, which is something most people would never muster up for any job they’re stuck with.  Come now, will anyone say without the influence of drugs or alcohol that they really enjoy having a career in fast food?

Granted, I used to feel this way about making art too, but not anymore.  I think the reason why is the motivation to get me going, the carrot vs the stick.  Up until I started posting stuff on DriveThruRPG, I got nothing but the stick.  Sure, I requested some level of critique and proof reading of my work, but in almost every possible case, the feedback devolved into a long-winded denigration of me and the dismissal of my work.  It got to the point where I didn’t want to post anything anymore because I know that I’d get chewed out over it.  Not critiqued, just chewed out.  That does not promote a good work ethic as some of you know.  Would you want to continue working with a boss that rags on your ass from 9 to 5?  Most people who favor their mental and physical health won’t.

Compare that with people actually shelling out money for my work, which is happening on DriveThruRPG.  Granted, right now it’s not much; I only get enough to pay for stuff I get over at the Dungeon Master’s Guild.  But it’s more than what I got from all of Ballad of Johnny Briz and possibly the previous several projects put together.

That’s the kind of encouragement I needed.  Not someone going all R. Lee Ermey every time I turn on my screen.  I’m exaggerating, of course, but this is what I mean by the carrot vs the stick.

This encouragement leads me to a rare instance for me:  A New Year’s Resolution.  I honestly believe that what I’m doing behind closed doors, the planning and the campaign making and up til recently the streaming, can become a job for me, and even though it might not get me out of SSI (At this time, that’s asking too much) it should be enough for me to supplement it.  Getting that Job Going, and having it going strong throughout 2017 barring shit-hitting-the-fan catastrophes like those listed in Æthercoil’s timeline, will be my New Year’s Resolution.

The first part of this job will be to set up a Patreon.  I tried to get it going for Ballad of Johnny Briz but it didn’t get anywhere.  I think this second attempt with Æthercoil will be somewhat more successful.  Not only do I have a regular release of Issues here, but I also have some items that I can put in as Patreon Awards.

One of which is an Æthercoil Starter Set that will work with both the D&D 5E Starter Set and Basic Rules.  Instead of a campaign, I believe that a good way to introduce people to D&D is a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl, with a variety of puzzles and creatures to match wits with.  4th Edition had such a dungeon delve, while the 5th Edition Starter Set dropped the ball on this.  This is something I’d like to rectify with the Æthercoil Starter Set.

This will lead into a series of short modules that link together like Adventurers’ League modules.  While they work as independent episodes and can be run in any order, they will follow along with a common theme:  Adventurers discover a modern world invention.  Adventures find out what to do with said inventions.  They then take it to their hometown and improve said hometown with this invention, and the results of their using this invention creates effects throughout the entire world.  Once I find out what kind of invention is needed, not too hard, I hope to create monthly adventures that I’ll release on Patreon.

That is my plan for 2017, and I’ll keep you posted here as developments happen.  But there’s something that you can help right now.  You’ll notice that GoFundMe link in the left.

The reason why I stopped streaming on Twitch, something I’d like to get back to, is because of my computer.  The AMD A8 computer I have right now can do D&D Sessions very well, but it can’t do that and stream at the same time.  Even with the use of Infiniscene, the workload proves too much for my computer to effectively stream.  I’m going to need a better machine, a gaming machine to play and stream at the same time, and even though I managed to save some money, and put in enough in a saving account for such items, I don’t think I can get a new computer during 2017 by myself.  People on SSI don’t have much to save, even if the thing you’re saving for is going to be used for what will become a job.

Hence the GoFundMe.  I’m looking for $1000 US to purchase a gaming computer that will be designed for streaming.  Not just sessions but campaign design, artwork, map making and all the other things related to Dungeon Mastering.  If not in a session, I hope to have a nightly stream where people can look over my shoulder to see what I’m typing or drawing on, at least for 2-3 hours, but if I’m going strong, definitely longer.

Besides, I’m not asking for much.  We live in a world where people gave $55,000 for someone to make a $10 Potato Salad, and $10,000 to protect Betty White from dying in this past year.  Don’t get me started with those who gained six figures for the inanest of causes.  Yeah, I know I’m not the most popular person on the internet, but does that mean I can’t find a hundred people that will part with a single ten-spot so I can buy something I will use for a job?  I doubt this is the case.

Whatever or not the GoFundMe gets anywhere, I’ll still be working on the Patreon, since I already have stuff to put in there.  Watch this space for further developments.

Æthercoil Magazine Issue 4 for February 2017

Up til now, I could pace my issues of my public worldbuilding notebook for every other month.  Issue 4 will arrive a month later than expected, February at the earliest or March if I can’t help matters.  There’s more than just the holidays which includes a family reunion out of state that warrants this.

I’m at the point where I can reconstruct the Player’s Handbook Wiki for both my D&D campaigns and Æthercoil.  (In fact, any option that I experiment with or have a player in my table work with, will become Æthercoil Legal; there are some exceptions of course, including options from the Wizards rulebooks.)  The initial form of the flavor texts for this Wiki, including various tutorials and home rules, will be written in the Magazine, and then transferred to the Wiki.  This will include revisiting former options (Including the Engineer and Jester classes) and giving them one more once over.  This also includes the short story snippets where each character option is described (Unless it’s taken from said rulebooks; there’s only so much I can legally copypaste into the Wiki).  I’ll also will expand on the weapons, armor, equipment, kits and the other options such as Feats, Backgrounds, Spells, and the many Prestige Classes.

While I’m doing this, I’ll be considering this a warm up to bringing back Jamie’s story.  The Red-Haired Elf began in Issue 2 and I intend on continuing her story come hell or high water.  I intend to tell the world of Æthercoil through both fiction and campaigns, eventually into published (read: selling the PDFs and forming a Kickstarter for printed publications instead of using Pay What You Want as a tip jar.) Hopefully, the fiction will get the people interested in the campaigns.

It’s not certain whatever Æthercoil will become my Forgotten Realms.  But if this leads me into another setting, at least Æthercoil would’ve granted me plenty of practice in worldbuilding.  Not to mention working in a field with a community that doesn’t get as toxic as it did in DeviantART.  Even with reddit, things have been positive in comparison.  So far so good.

December 6 Update

I haven’t put much here as of late because I’ve been very busy with the projects, especially with the campaigns, as well as wrestling with the streaming gremlins.  As I’m doing so, I experimented with some other social media.

This magazine isn’t political heavy; I’m not one to lay that part too thick.  However, I’m right of center, left of someone like Donald Trump or the RPG Pundit, but still a lover for what some consider as basic concepts like free speech, concrete Truth, solid culture based on western morals—if not western geography or ethnicities—and the idea that, one; a Role Playing Game becomes “inclusive” and “diverse” with the Players and the Dungeon Masters instead of the designers; and two; actual inclusivity would include me, which is unlike what some people claim inclusivity would be.

During 2016, we found out what some people’s answer of what inclusive is:  Without a whole swath of people who would meet them half way if they weren’t shat on all the time.  The one who would include even someone like me into the group is the one who became successful.  Not me as a white cis male with autism, but me as a human being.  Acknowledge me as a person and someone who deserve to be on the same planet as you, and I will vote for me.  Do what Hillary Clinton has done, and I’d just go, “Geez, why don’t you get it out of your system and call me a f—–[1], why don’t you?” and leave.

This is why I got out of most social media:  Any social media who would suspend anyone because they do not uphold the views held by those running said media would in turn on me from using this same service just out of utter spite.  Those who ban Milo because he’s Alt Right would ban me because fuck me; I’m just not welcomed in the same planet as them.  That is the reason why I don’t use Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and most recently DeviantART.  I don’t make comics anymore because even if I do make a character who was gay and possibly trans—Forensic Investigator Jim Goodlow who became the human host for high-tech sentient character costume Scarlet, for example—I would still be denigrated for being homo and transphobic.  I don’t write fiction because even if I make the best quality novel I ever made—and I even have a good idea for it late in a podcast I’ll mention later—I’ll just get mass rejected by every publisher without even a thumb through[2].  And forget about having me into any fan group, because straying one iota from some group’s standard of what is acceptable is the equivalent of drawing the Prophet Mohammad.  In Mecca.  During the Hajj.

This is what led me into the Role Playing Game community, because most of the group—diverse as it is—have welcomed me with open arms, have a very viable marketplace of both ideas and materials, and have a well-made open tent based on 5th Edition (with a bunch of other systems) in spite of what their detractors would think.

Note to self:  Write a small article describing a difference between an Old School RPG and a Storygame RPG.  It’ll be a fine read.

It is this welcoming to views that might not match lockstep to authoritarian norms is why I’m on Google Plus, at least for the moment.  While I’d occasionally get a caterwauling SJW—or worse, a conspiracy theorist talking about a flat earth—Google isn’t banning me outright because of a snippy remark.  My most recent addition to my Social Media is ( which is a still-in-beta alternative to Twitter after that service got all SJW on us, which I got in because they value free speech, and because of that, my existence in that service.  Granted, you’ll get some extremists views there, but if that’s the price for being in a media that won’t ban me because David Gonterman, then so be it.

Another place in the social media I found a home in could use some help, which I’ll do to repay the kindness given to me.

It took me a while for me to find the link—I was looking in the wrong place—but I managed to find the stream that I was in. It’s called ‘Bass to the Bone,’ is located at , and could use some help with the logo and possibly some web pages.  I might design one as thanks for such a positive experience.  It could’ve easily denigrated to an hour long prank, which might have happened before the turn of the millennium, but it didn’t.

That alone is enough for me to support this blog further.  I might not be the most famous person around.  Some would say that I am ‘famous,’ but I deny it; famous people don’t have to worry about being on Social Security because people want to make paying deals and want me towork with them.  Me?  I’m hard pressed to find someone who’d even talk to me without hiding behind some pseudonym because they’re either a troll or too afraid to even associate with me.  Famous people don’t have to look for someone to say anything positive about them.  Before TV Tropes grew up and decided not to be a troll site, it exclaimed that there wasn’t a single person saying anything positive toward me.  Famous people can help groups gain publicity.  Me?  Between the Clinton and Bush presidencies, I was pretty much kryptonite to anything I was near.

So, I appreciate people who approach me and give me a fair shake on their blogs, which is what Bass to the Bone has done.  They’re nice to me, I’ll repay the favor.

[1] I don’t use this in the more expected sense.  If you’re being called this epithet before you reached graduation, especially before you reached puberty, homosexuality is the least of your problems.

[2] And don’t get me started with getting any awards; I know that they’d rather vote “No Award” than let me have it.  This even includes the Participation ones.

Youtube Alternative Update

I found out that DailyMotion has an hour limit on videos, and I do not have a desire to cut my videos up to make it fit.  However, downloading the videos from Twitch and re-uploading them into YouTube seem to work.  That will do until I find a suitable alternative.  (I might need to get a paid account somewhere to have the features I need though, oy!)

Meanwhile, the Capre GM podcast rescheduled my time with them to this  coming Saturday, the 29th.  I’ll let you know more as time progresses.

I. Hate. Mister. Murphy.

Item:  Youtube has failed me for the last time.

It ain’t enough that I have the expected troubles with infiniscene being beta the way it is.  But now I’ve found out the hard way that I’ve exported my latest stream—the first session in “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” playing as Jamie Wintertouch (playtesting the Witch Class along the way)—and Youtube for some reason killed the sound.  And here I thought I wouldn’t have problems with youtube because I don’t have any political content in my videos.

I decided that I have enough of that site and I’m looking for another.  It was easy for me to find an alternative that doesn’t jerk people around.  I decided to try Dailymotion out for my video storage and see if they could be of any help.

Item:  Æthercoil Magazine #3

This is the reason why I’ve been so quiet as of late, other than the usual gremlin of other players not being around for sessions.  (A common malady toward Internet D&D players.) Almost immediately after I published Issue #2, I had enough loose items to make Issue #3, where I toss in some more options, elaborate more on my remix of the Witch Class with my own archetype, some other Prestige Classes, and more worldbuilding fluff where I pull a page from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and let people from the world itself make their own input.  The first such missive is from Justin Mercurial and he describes the region of the Calais Triangle, post playtesting…if I would ever get to playtesting, that is.

Item:  The Carpe GM Podcast

Link to CarpeGM Digital Entertainment

While the last video I’ll post to Youtube wasn’t with sound, it wasn’t without any feedback.  I got a message from Bryan King from CarpeGM that they wanted me to be in their recent blog posts.  I did a little research and they’re legit, and I’ll be meeting with them next Saturday, the 22nd.  I hope everything goes well.

Or at least better than what I’m currently having.  If only I could find this Mr. Murphy bastard and…

Broken Campaign Count: 2

As long as I’m going to be crossing brains with Denzil, I’m going to have broken campaigns.  Part of me doesn’t even mind.


You probably know of guys like Denzil, the Power Gamers, the Rules Lawyers, the ones that are “That Guy.”  In fact, when he dies, I’m going to chisel “Here lies THAT GUY!” on his fucking tombstone.  He’s the one who gives Dungeon Master’s fits with the way he games the system, and he’s got even worse plans for his character than I do.  At least with someone like Linka, I see her forming her own brewery in Phandalin. And with Justin, I see him becoming Æthercoil’s answer to Blarion Mercurial (The original Dreamfinder) I mean, Mercurial’s his last name as well, so all he needs is his own dragon…and I see him getting one soon.

Denzil has two PCs already becoming deities, and the one he plays in the Saturday Curse of Strahd game, he’s playing a dwarf who’d turn on the party if I played it straight.

I relish the mental chess game I have with Denzil because I’m still learning how to be a decent DM.  Denzil finds ways for him to game the system, while I find ways to counter.  We love just feeding off each other because, as steel sharpens steel, it makes us better players.

Unfortunately, if Denzil wins, it breaks the game.  Such as what happens in the last session of Saturday’s Curse of Strahd game.

What I had in mind is that thanks to that near TPK, the real bad guys either turned or brainwash those who got killed.  Especially that succubus.  She would then attack the party at full blast, with a whole lot of revenants and rust monsters to back her up.

When I found out that rust monsters are territorial and that the several I had wouldn’t fit in with their nature, that’s when I learned I fucked up.

In the end, it was just PC vs turned PC and Denzil won, not just gaining 8 more levels in single combat but also turning the succubus into a vampire as well.

That’s when everyone else called fowl, and I ultimately called the campaign “as broken as a vase in a museum.”

What did I learn from that campaign of Curse of Strahd?  Basically, any vampire-based classes are Banned!  Ditto with any background that connect any party member to Strahd in any way.  Vistani is all right, but No More Vampires!

I got some decent playtesting anyway toward the tweaks I gave it.  Enough for me to start making an expansion of the module which I’m calling Tatyanna’s Revenge.  I won’t tell you much more about it because of spoilers, but once I get it done it’s going to be my first entry in the Dungeon Master’s Guild.

The following week, I dragged Denzil into the DM’s chair, where some would say “Where he fucking belongs,” while I switch back into Player Character mode with my lovely Pandaren beauty, Linka.  In the meantime, I’ll be focusing more on the following:

  1. Finishing up the Curse of Strahd campaign on my Encounters table. I’m about 75% through that part, and yes, it’s on my revised Tatyanna’s Revenge
  2. Working on Æthercoil with both the sessions and the 2nd Issue of Æthercoil Magazine. I’m at the Illustration stage and hope to have it in DriveThruRPG by the end of the month.
  3. Starting up with Storm King’s Thunder. I’ll be making a Thursday table as a DM as well as preparing for the Encounters table after Curse of Strahd.  Eventually it’ll be part of the Saturday Table when I’m tagged back into the DM’s chair.
  4. And for BasedGamer, I’ll make a review of the 5E Starter Set, compare it with the 4E Red Box, and announce a project to create a better 5E Starter Set for people to get into D&D.

Yeah, this will keep me occupied until it’s time for me to vote for a president, provided I don’t have to choose between Voldemort and Dumbledore.

Streaming Report, 25 Aug 16

Item:  Curse of Strahd

It took me a while for me to get some decent gameplay content in this blog, if for no other reason than to deter spoilers in my Curse of Strahd tables.  Now that everybody’s past the Vallaki chapter, I think I can tell you now about the tweaks I made to the town, and in retrospect, I think it might need some revising before I put it in Tatyanna’s Revenge.

It all depends on how I depict Zombies on my table, which is a combination of the classic slow zombies from Romero with the modern fast zombies from movies like 28 Days Later.  They remain stupid and mostly unstoppable, but will sprint if they see someone that has a brain.  They are made by necromancy, but the spell produced creates a virus that…Oh, the party hasn’t gotten to that point yet.

Well in the cannon campaign, Baron Vargas has set up festivals after festivals to try to instill a sense of happiness and hope into his villagers, in an effort to overcome “The Devil’s Strahd’s Influence upon the land.”  He still has done that in my version, although he doesn’t know about two points.  One, Strahd isn’t the one influencing my version of Barovia, but the Dark Power itself.  The second point is more important, though, resilience and hope in a person’s soul—especially in Barovia—isn’t something that’s cultured by countless festivals or staged song and dance routines.  It’s intrinsic and born out of the soul of the person itself.  Also, it’s not shown by people smiling and laughing, but by the presence of perseverance, grit, and inner strength.

It might surprise some people, especially Baron Vargas, that Strahd actually encourages such traits in the humans here.  Improves the quality of the blood.

Naturally, the failure of creating what would be, for all intents and purposes, Disneyland under the nose of Castle Ravenloft, Baron Vargas went off the deep end in what would be the last festival in Vallaki.  He somehow got a hold of the necromantic virus I mentioned earlier, and will unleash it to an unsuspecting citizenry at the latest festival meeting.  Once everyone’s turned into gleeful mindless zombies that can outrun Usain Bolt, Baron Vargas hopes that they’ll make a mass beeline up the mountain to Ravenloft.

How he would guide them, however, when he’s one of them himself, is up in the air.  He didn’t think that far ahead I guess.

In both of my campaigns, the party thwarted the virus before it was released, killing the Baron in the process.  Vallaki will be in recovery for some time, grateful for the end of all the senseless merry-making and of dodging a deadly bullet from someone who makes Strahd a fucking angel in comparison.  The notes that the party found led the source of the party to an agent in Argynvostholt, which the Wednesday party dealt with.

The Saturday party haven’t gotten there yet, so I’ll keep that part hidden for now, but I’ll reveal the other tidbits in the town:

St. Ardral’s Church:  I’ll keep the Bones of St. Andral in here (I’m taking Millivoj out of the campaign) so that, if the viral shit did hit the fan, the party will have a place of egress.  The Bones keeps the Dark Powers at bay much like the crystals in the Wizard of Wines.

Blue Water Inn: The Wereraven still run this Inn, being Barovia’s answer to the Harpers after all.  Rictavio/Rudolph van Richten might be in a different location in the published document, however.  He might be roaming around having been warned by an anonymous informant (He’ll recognize Strahd’s handwriting, however) that something even worse than The Devil is lurking about the realm.  In future campaigns, I might have Rudolph appear, either as himself or as Rictavio, to help the party in case they get stuck.

Burgomaster’s Mansion:  I didn’t have much about Baroness Lydia since she’s pretty much a trophy wife.  I had her just sleeping in bed oblivious to what happened, and in one case, she got spirited away into Ravenloft.  Strahd gets another one into his herd.

Baronet Victor, however, is a different case:  He’s almost got teleportation spells down pat and has even gotten some help from Lady Fiona in perfecting the ritual.  There is also a special way for the party to escape Barovia using the ritual with the three artifacts in the fortune, but the destination will not be the Realms.  (I could separate this into a stand-alone quest where the party ends up in Æthercoil if I can get away with it.)

Wachterhaus: Lady Fiona is one of Strahd’s brides (Really, did you think he’d stop at just the ones in his castle?) and a trusted ally, she moved to Vallaki to have a herd of her own and to keep an eye on the Baron’s shenanigans.  She knew he was up to something particularly nasty, but didn’t have any details until the party found out.  Stella isn’t in the house but is sequestered in Ravenloft, where Strahd dressed her up as an anime catgirl in a frilly Lolita dress.

Coffin Maker’s Shop:  It is Wachterhaus that has a portal to Ravenloft (N4t. Cult Headquarters), and if necessary, the Strahd Vampires will port to Vallaki from there. I doubt that will happen.  Otherwise this location remains intact.

Rictavio’s Carnival Wagon:  No doubt be moved.  Maybe he partners with Madam Eva and they both form a party.  In my revision, I don’t really have to have Rictavio be Vistaniphobic, as he was in the cannon version.

Blinskey Toys:  I can keep this untouched.

Town Square: This too, since this is the scene where the aforementioned viral shit goes down.

Vistani Camp:  Also untouched, although this is a special case.  I don’t consider this place to be part of Vallaki, and it’s only added in the book because of its proximity.  I won’t change this because of the Arrigal sidequest which is part of the Fortunes mechanic.

Item:  Æthercoil playtest

It took me longer to get enough people together for a session than I care to admit.  Remind me to kick Mr. Murphy in the nuts for this one.


This session went through the Goblin Hideout scene (formerly the Cragmaw Hideout from Lost Mine of Phandelver) and succeeded in rescuing Karl, who told them about a map to a secret relic from The Lost Age.  Nobody knows what it is, but they did know that someone named “The Black Dragon” has it.

That soured Justin a bit.  While he wouldn’t say that he hates dragons, he did have a bad experience with it.  As hinted in his story in Æthercoil Magazine #1, he was going to be that one forsaken child given to a green dragon to save his former village.  However, he escaped and fled to the forest before he was handed over to a Gods know what fate.  The Dragon is understandably peeved, considers Justin the cause of what happened to his village (although it was the dragon who destroyed said village) and…well, that’s not important right now.  The point is that almost all of his initial meetings with any dragon tend to be colored in this way, and his caution won’t waver until he gets to know any dragon he comes across.  Like the headmaster in the college he went to.

So when he hears about a bad guy who calls himself, “The Black Dragon,” naturally, he’d want to shoot it.

But that’s for later; he still has a village to rescue.

Also in this session is a rare event for me: An actual on table PC kill.  This one was Grace.  Yes, the GFF of my power gaming frenemy, Denzil.  Not only was her character a bit anti-social from the start, she did the cardinal sin of breaking from the party and trudging off on her own, eventually finding the treasure cache and wanting to get it for herself.

Of course, I wouldn’t have that in a game I’m playtesting, so I did the most sensible thing a DM could do to a problem PC…

I dropped a gelatinous cube on her.

Using the basic stats in the Monster Manual against a Level 1 character, I pretty much reduced the poor girl to a skeleton while everyone else was focused on the rescue.  Until Karl told them about said gelatinous cube.  I think the party would’ve just left the cave unless someone said, “Hey, aren’t we one short?”

In afterthought, I think Grace didn’t think that character would fit, so she had her killed off so she can start over.  Can’t say I blame her.

Item:  BasedGamer Worldbuilding Blog

This part came right out of left field for me.  While I did sign up to this site, a #gamergate-friendly user-sourced video game review site, I didn’t think I could make appropriate content for the site.  I do tabletop games, D&D in particular.  I doubt it’ll fit.

Jennie Bharaj from that site thought otherwise.  It seems that people like hearing about Æthercoil, so I decided to start a worldbuilding blog there to supplement the magazine and spread the word:  I’ve already given a “Hello World” post there and will make another post on how #gamergate (actually their detractors) influenced the design of the campaign world.

I’ll be setting up BasedGamer as one of the affiliates as well as putting their logo on the mag.  I hope this doesn’t become a trend.

Æthercoil Magazine #1

By now, the first session of Æthercoil’s first Playtest campaign is at Youtube: .  Not too soon after that, I published the first Issue of Æthercoil Magazine:

As I mentioned elsewhere, this magazine is both a catch-all document for all of my smaller D&D content as well as the main sounding board for all of my ideas about my homemade campaign.  Some of these ideas might even branch off into other campaign settings, while others will get totally rearranged in the playtesting process, but whatever happens, it’ll happen in this periodical.