Category Archives: D&D updates

Tubthumping

I get knocked downBut I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down” — Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

That lyric tends to be the story of my life at times, such as this week.  I got so much stuff come my way this week back at my apartment that I didn’t get the chance to plan any of my sessions, so I had to call them off.  Especially the Friday one for good reason:  The Friday group is about to enter Castle Ravenloft, and I have to prepare the entire location with all of my changes involved.  This is something I’d want to get right and couldn’t do that this week.  I can do it the next one.

At least the people playing are understanding.  Disappointed, but understanding.  They know I’ll be back this coming week.

As the graphic says: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight.

Item:  DriveThruRPG Update

Pay What You Want seems to be the best way to go for me as far as support.  As I said every now and then, nothing encourages me than someone handing me a cup of coffee, a Kickstart, or any other small item.  Sure, I’d love to pay a bill or two from this, but if I just get enough for a Starbucks run, it’s a big confidence boost for me.  It’s why I have a dust-encrusted tip jar on this blog in the first place.  Hero’s Hideout also gives me a little credit every week I DM, which I can buy something form the cooler.  Much appreciated.

And now I’m getting some love from DriveThruRPG.  Over $10 US so far.  It’s not much, but it’s better than what I got form DeviantART, and I can never thank those who donated enough.

By now you know of the Homesteading Mechanic I’m using for one of my homemade mechanics.  Last week, I also released a couple classes into my DriveThruRPG account as well:  My take on the Artificer Class called the Engineer (a stand-alone variant of the Wizard Class that focuses on magic items, borrowing some features from other existing Artificier classes and compiling it into an easy to understand option) and the Jester, a hybrid Rogue-Bard class for the class clown in the party.  Both have already been well received, and will have some revisions and additions in the future.

The success I’ve been getting will keep me making stuff for DriveThruRPG.  I’m already making plans for a periodical publication for the site. I have several player options that are too small for one item, as well as some essays on my campaign creation in my campaigns, both official and homemade.  I might even toss in some short story, artwork, and maybe even have some comic pages thrown in there.  If I can, I’ll have this catch-all publication put into DriveThruRPG, but if there’s any other developments I’ll let you know.

There’s also plans for a Dungeon Master’s Guild publication as well:  By far my most favorite campaign is Curse of Strahd, especially with the response I get form my tweaks for it.  As the campaign progresses, I’ll be making a document listing the changes for this alternate storyline for the campaign.  I’ll fill you in on the progress as I go.

Item:  My first product review:

Limitless Encounters: Haunted Locals

As you would guess, I’m looking for ways to fluff up my Curse of Strahd campaigns, and have been diving into the DM’s Guild for ways to throw all these curves to my players.  While looking for such inspiration, I was invited by Limitless Adventures to review one of their publications.  I chose Haunted Locales for my interest.

The document, as common throughout their site contains about ten premade encounters for various locations, like a cemetery, crypt, haunted house, or some other related place.  All of them can get plugged into your Curse of Strahd campaign with little to no set-up, although someone like me can further tweak them to make them just right.  The bigger feature here is the ‘Further Adventure’ hooks that take the encounter here and offer suggestions on any future scenes.  Example:  There was a ghost who couldn’t make his last will and testament in time.  The PC can aid the ghost in making this last will, after which the ghost can move on to the afterlife.  He leaves behind the written will and…did the ghost will anything to the party?

I can pan through this document and only think of possibilities for my campaigns.  That is something I’m looking for in something I can use.

The only thing I can take away from is the format of the Monster Stats.  I understand using simple formatted text to create stat blocks that are printer friendly, but it could use some improvements, such as larger fonts for subheaders {“Features”, “Actions”} the inclusion of horizontal lines to break up the sections, and returning the attributes with the rest of the text.  I can see how the writers try to make better use of space by moving the attributes to a corner of the block, but the location didn’t make for a better readable block.  For me, formatting it similar to a Monster Manual block is better on the eyes.

I use Statblock5E for my Monster Stats, which produces a very readable copy to export into my documents.  It’s easy on the printer, in spite being in color, and if you know some basic CSS you can easily make a monochrome version.  (I might do that sometime if nobody else beats me to it.)  If I need to scrape the barrel, I have a form in Microsoft Word for my character sheets which I can use for Monster Stat Date if need be.

Of course, that’s just my two bits, but if Limitless Encounters is looking for places to improve, I would suggest improving their stat blocks, everything else is a rich source of inspiration for me to use.

Back from mourning.

I found out something very important about myself as an autistic.  I don’t mourn like normal.  I don’t cry when I mourn, especially for someone I loved, like my Grandmother (who passed away last week.) I was happier that I knew this woman than sad to see her gone.  She and her Husband are the reason why I can say that I, in spite of the school system that fucked me up when I’m in school and then put a wedge between me and my parents afterward, had a decent childhood.  She had a big house in the suburbs that was quiet, peaceful, and had room for lots of adventures.  Had plenty of places to play around in, a lot of trips to various locations—including three trips to Disney World—and had Sunday dinner every week after church.  All kids should’ve had one of these grandparents to keep them from being too dark.

I do, however, sleep when I mourn.  All fucking day.  For three days straight, maybe more.  I sleep like the dead; these vary same grandparents came to me in a dream and said, “Go back, you need to go to the restroom and eat something!”  Oy!  Sometimes Autism is a blessing and a curse, am I right?  Not to mention the source of some pretty decent comedy.

But now that she’s gone to be with Grampa, let’s get back to the business, shall we.

As I’ve reported earlier, the Homesteading Mechanic has been released at DriveThruRPG.  I even had what I call success out of it:  I got enough earnings for a cup of coffee, thank you very much to those who believed that I deserve money for this.  While it does have some room for improvement and it can be complex to some, I did manage to get it readable, and even got a reference to Pathfinder’s Kingdom Building Ruleset to further develop the mechanic.

The next two offerings are in the works as I’m typing this, which start on my various class and race options that will eventually become part of Æthercoil.  I have my answer to the Artificer class, the Engineer, past its second draft and is about to be illustrated when something came up that made me pull an all-nighter.

I’ve been working with additional material for my Curse of Strahd campaigns, one of which I’ll be reviewing this weekend.  One of them included a crazy individual that Strahd considers his Court Jester.  Now I have worked with many Jester PCs in my time with 5E, and really enjoyed the Jester background in the playtest.  I wanted to make a Jester class that I felt fits my style and after (1) looking at various options of Rogue and Bard, and (2) have the necessity to make this crazy individual into an actual Jester, I had the need to make a hybrid class combining Bard and Rogue and flavored it up with a colorful motley.  The Jester class is in its second draft and will be illustrated like the Engineer.  Both classes will be legal for my campaigns and eventually be a part of Æthercoil.

Which eventually leads into some of my goals.  I wanted to have some playtest material that shows what I’m going for in my campaign world, maybe a series of smaller publications where I put the basics behind Æthercoil and my thoughts behind making them, which will lead up to the first Campaign Setting Book.  Eventually, I hope to produce a magazine like series in between larger campaign books.  Meanwhile, I might have an opportunity for a Dungeon Master’s Guild project as well:  So far my take on Curse of Strahd has been so well perceived thus far that I might make a document describing my twist on this remade classic and create an add-on document to the module.  It’ll change major parts of the campaign, but for those who want something different from the classic, I’m sure people will like what I had in store in my One Note.  (Provided that I get the party to take it to the end, of course.)

Homesteading Mechanic is Live!

Version 1.0 of the Homesteading Mechanic has been approved by DriveThruRPG and is available here:  https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/183861 /5E-Homesteading-Mechanic .

I’ve made some adjustments in the menus to incorporate the material I’m offering there.

Everything for now will be Pay What You Want.  You don’t have to pay for them, but I will appreaciate an occasional cup of coffee for my efforts 🙂

Updates for 22 May 16

Item:  Exit DM’s Guild; Enter DriveThruRPG

The biggest hurdle in my content creation is where to legally put it.  At first I thought having my beta stuff be in the DM’s Guild, while the original content, such as Æthercoil, be in another OneBookShelf site, like DriveThruRPG.  After talking with some people in charge of Wizards of the Coast, that’s impossible under the current guidelines:  Material in the DM’s Guild can’t be in a later DriveThruRPG document, and I doubt that modules set in the Forgotten Realms, or any other WotC-branded realm, won’t fit anywhere other than the DM’s Guild.

Hence my quandary, which I need to bypass, and here’s how I’ll do it.  I’ll be publishing all of my content in DriveThruRPG, starting with my first content, a homesteading system.  All of my material, both beta and official, will be published there, which is allowable because the majority of my material are setting-agnostic.

The main problem would be Living Parnast, which is my beta setting which is still set in the Forgotten Realms.  I’ll be still using this setting, but will only release it non-commercially on my web site.  In time, I’ll convert Living Parnast into the Æthercoil setting.

This plan will no doubt clear with all Terms of Services and keep me in the clear, so I can progress with the main business of working on content.   And doing recaps.

Item:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen

I haven’t had the chance to give an update on last Sunday’s session, since it was one of the slower sessions, and the recording got shredded.  As did this week’s version.  Apparently Tabletop Simulator and Infiniscene isn’t being very co-operative with each other at this time, probably by how more resources intensive Tabletop Simulator is.  (This is why I prefer Roll20, which is easier on the processors, at least mine.  You want me to get a better computer, I’ll be releasing my homebrews on DriveThruRPG on Pay What You Want.)  However, for those who want a more thorough recap than what I’m currently doing, the other players have compiled a log on Steam that will bring you up to speed.  I hope to have things go better tonight.

This Sunday had some more progression.  At the start—after some more shopping—the party reconnected with Leosin Erlanthar in Elturel and met Ontharr Frume of the Order of the Gauntlet, who talked more about the Cult’s convoy up the Sword Coast and the need for people to observe them.  Which is right up Justin’s alley since he’s more versed in reconnaissance than combat.  There was still some time before the convoy gathers in Baldur’s Gate, however, there was some side quests to deal with.  Such as gathering some Iron and Copper ingots that got stolen from a wagon heading to town.  The remainder of that session dealt with retrieving the metals.

As I said before, you can get the recap of this link, and if you want me to stream more Tabletop Simulator episodes, I’m going to need a better machine for that.

Item:  Curse of Strahd

Friday’s Table: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfI8UtlSauM

The party has arrived into Barovia Village, and has discovered the main starting twist.  Since the table is streamed, I can tell you it here:  Instead of the standard being Ireena being the one bitten by Strahd, it is his boyfriend, a local Jock.  On top of that it wasn’t Strahd who bit him, but someone else.  The main goal is to find out who’s trying to out-Devil Strahd Von Zarcovish!  Of course, the best way to solve this case is to get an audience with the Count.  The best way to do that is for the Party to undergo the Fortunes of Ravenloft.

Before they do so, however, they need to bury Ireena’s adopted father and former Burgomaster.  After which, they plan to make a beeline toward Tser Pool, where Madam Eva is, and then to a place that nobody would expect a ‘run as written’ version of Curse of Strahd to be a safe space:  Castle Ravenloft.

I don’t run Curse of Strahd as written, however.  It can’t be any more telling then how I portray the Dread Lord.  During this table, I did hint at Strahd and Irenna being an item in the past, before she became the Burgomaster.   (“He made the mistake of confusing me for Tatyanna when we first met.  He didn’t realize it until after he bit me, and promptly apologized.  Demon or not, he has class.”)

During her time with Strahd, she found out as much as she could about him, his castle, and vampires.  She compiled everything into a book that is part Vampires 101, and Anne Rice style Romantic Vampire story.  I think I can show it in this blog now.

Item:  Lost Mine of Phandelver

Saturday Stream:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4N5MkO_rvI (This video might not be ready at the time I’m posting this.  Please be patient.)

While there was some progression, this session was when the player I’m screwing around with gets to screw back.

Me and Denzil are going some friendly competition; a matching of witch between a Power Player and a Creative Player.  This was counter to what happened the week before, where I took Denzil’s vampire character and de-vampired him!  Talk about your uber nerf!

Well, the Power Gamer on Friday is the Dungeon Master on Saturday, and he pretty much took it out on my poor Pandaren PC.  Linka got her clocked cleaned by a couple monks who were courteous enough to let her live.  One thing about Denzil, he appreciates me being a good sport.

The rest of my involvement in the campaign dealt with rescuing Gundren Rockseeker and having him tell the party of Wave Echo Cave, which is where the climatic chapter of Lost Mine takes place.  After which the party retired to Phandalin where Linka finds out is the sole ownership of Tresendar Manor.  I could see her staying here and setting up her own brewery here.  If, however, she isn’t helping out with a tinkerer building an OSR version of the Iron Man suit and causing successive explosions!

The latter parts of this session deals with another case of two Power Gamers butting heads.  Not only that, it was Denzil and Claire!  We all know the dramas those two had during my Princes of the Apocalypse stream, right?  But this time it ended on a happy note.  What Claire wanted was a boon for her character, and wanted to be tested by Eilistraee in the process.  She lost once before I clocked in this session, and her character became a Drider.  She tried it again and at first I continued streaming against my better judgement, but Denzil relented, and decided that Eilistraee was merely testing her instead of curb stomping her.  (Something poor Linka knows too well.)  She got restored with her devotions switched from Lolth to her daughter, and she got a sentient sword in the process.  Ahhhh, a rare happy ending to the session, and a Drama Storm averted.

That’s something I’m planning on with my Friday Curse of Strahd session.  Claire wanted her character to have a similar test, but Barovia doesn’t have the same connections to any Deities as Faerun has.  I can’t tell you any details right now, but if there’s anyone who’s going to be testing anyone in Barovia, it’s going to be Strahd himself administering the test.  Fsk Lolth!  Hell, Fsk the Lady of Fsking Pain.  You’re in Strahd’s Realm, beeaatch!  Want to see those two go at it?  Two virtual demigods who can give you fates worse than death and stuff you into demiplanes for eternity?!

I didn’t think so.

Recap Updates and Foxfire D&D SRD

Item:  Curse of Strahd Updates.

I’m happy to announce that I will be getting a streamed season back up, this time Curse of Strahd.  I’m getting a couple of my former players back together, hopefully after settling their differences, along with new players which I hope will become regulars.  I hope to get started next week with a Session 1 (or if need be, a session .5) where I start like what I did with my Encounters table:  With Death House in Baldur’s Gate and a crossing from the Realms to Ravenloft.

Because of this, and the desire not to show any spoilers in this blog, you’ll find me holding off on any recaps of the Encounters party, and instead showing some special lore that the two parties would’ve experienced by now.  This will keep either party from Metagaming which some of my players are prone to do.

This is why I’ll go off and say this to those who will be playing on my Friday table.  If you think you’re going to see I6 Ravenloft 2016 when you start off on Curse of Strahd, keep on thinking. You’ll see some wild twists on my variation of the campaign.  You’re talking to someone who has a list of D&D deities I have pissed off.  That storm last weekend, one of them done it, I know it.  I fully expect Tracy and Laura Hickman to kick down my door to my less than ostentatious apartment with a bunch of men with white coats and nets to drag me into the Kettler Behavioral Health Center.  That’s a fancy name for my hometown’s wacko basket, wouldn’t you think?

Item:  Foxfire D&D SRD

As some of you know, I’m working on a couple settings for D&D, one in the Forgotten Relams for the DM’s Guild, the other being Æthercoil.  Both of them will incorporate additional mechanics, options, monsters, and other nice juicy tidbits that might or might not be acceptable for DM’s Guild’s guidelines, since I am going to be using them for both settings.  (I mean, they have IP rights to the Terrasque and Baldur’s Gate, not the Light Bulb and using a Meeple on a path made of playing cards.)

I have the need to compile all of this material that I’m adding into the game into its own System Reference Document.  This document is meant to be an add-on to the official 5E SRD from Wizards, and will be used on both of my settings.  When it’s fully compiled, I’ll be posting it here as its main site.  (I’ll finally be changing that top menu on my page to allow people to download it.) It’ll be available free of charge, and will replace the old Wiki that I used earlier on my DM career.  (It’ll still be up since people are still using it.)

As you may suspect from a document that has just been compiled, it’ll still need some playtesting.  I’ll have a form for you to send whatever feedback you have. (On the SRD Material, I must remind you.  I never post anything just for someone to question me about my social life!  I’m looking at you, DeviantART!  Man, this is worse than Will Wheaton’s beef against Acquisitions Incorporated.)

D&D recap, Week of 20-24 Apr 16

Item:  Curse of Strahd, Encounters, Apr 20

This week in the staggered seasons saw the begin of Curse of Strahd proper.  I picked up the party from Baldur’s Gate—after the Death House chapter relieved the city from a particular eyesore in the Lower City—and took them due east on the Chionthar River, to the village of Iriaebor, which is nearest to the area in the Realms that Ravenloft took over.  I have a map of it here.  The area in the Sunset Mountains I’ve circled is the area where the Mists have overtaken.

Iriaebor

People were obviously concerned about this mysterious and dark mist that is threatening to envelop their surrounding areas, and some weren’t disappointed when werewolves beyond the usual strife came running amuck in there.  (I use the “Werewolves in the Mist” adventure hook to get the players in the game.)  Those bitten found out that the normal magic to break this curse didn’t work as well—meaning without complications in the form of Attribute Loss—as it should.  It’s obvious that Ravenloft Werewolves are of a higher caliber, so to speak.  The party found that out the hard way when one of their party members—John’s character—got the disease.  Even a Paladin’s Lay on Hands only managed to make the initial save with Advantage, which John failed.  Normal cure spells will only cure at a cost of Attribute loss.  In order to have a cure that isn’t worse than the disease, you need one of two items:  A lot of belladonna plants, or the blood of the werewolf that did the biting.  Both of which is in the Misted regions where Ravenloft has overtaken the area, which fortunately they are now stuck in.

The remainder of the session uses the Event Deck-Travel Track combination as the party proceeded to Barovia Village.  They managed to get to the corpse with a letter which I modified to denote what I’m changing in the adventure:

Hail to thee of might and valor!

I, the Burgomaster of Brovia, send honor to thee.  I have heard that you are coming, and I call to you to ask for assistance.

My beloved, Jeremy Arlying, has been afflicted by an evil to deadly that even the good people of our village, can protect him!  He languishes from the wound, and I would like him saved from this malady.

There is much wealth in this community.  I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.

Come to us in our time of need.  All that I have shall be thine!

….er, within reason, that is.  I do have standards after all.

Ireena Kolyana, Burgomaster

Yes.  Ireena is the Burgomaster.  And that’s the first of the changes.  You might get the chance to see more in the coming months.

Item:  Princes of the Apocalypse, Friday, 22 Apr

This is my first instance of “Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies,” where I just plain had enough of the player’s crap on the table.  It happens, I assure you on this.  At least I have a more creative way to create a RFED scenario.  Most people would just sic Tiamat on the party.  At first, I have the Dark Powers mechanic that deals with the offending character, and prompts the offending player to roll up a new players.

Claire, the resident Trans player in my group, had a better scenario:  The Lady of Pain.

25-Lady_of_PainThe Lady of Pain runs an extraplanar realm known as Sigil. While she can clock in as a deity, she doesn’t play the games of the other deities.  She just sits by herself in her little world, and only drop in front of someone to fuck him or her up.  At the very least, she’d just plop the offender in some pocket universes consisting of wall to wall maze for the rest of your life.  If you’re unlucky, however, and you’ve really pissed her off…my brain couldn’t register what she could do. All I can say is that Pinhead would witness what she’d do to someone and go, “Damn, that’s fucked up.”

When the Lady of Pain appeared in my table, she transported everyone in a flash of light (and the words, “And this is when they knew…they fucked up.”  Yes, she does talk in my world) into a one on two battle to the death.  It took me a lot of doing for me to make this a fair fight.  I took out Denzil’s scythe and gave Claire a bonus 10 levels (and had to take away Power Word Kill) and even had to manipulate the field to deal with the two players who just aren’t getting along.

In the end, after the battle, where Denzil’s character got killed.  The players decided that the campaign as it stands can’t be finished, especially with the way the players are now at each other’s throats, so I called the campaign a loss. My first RFED.

Lessons Learned in this campaign:

  • Power Words Kill and Stun are banned! Power Word Heal is still permitted.
  • Any weapon that deals on average more than 50 Hit Points will NOT BE PERMITTED! I’m not saying that a weapon or spell can deal more than 100 damage on a Crit or even on good dice rolls.  But no weapon, even one that’s ‘by the book’ should one-round anybody with a Challenge Rating higher than 5.
    • That’s right, Denzil. Leave some action for the other players please, and let the poor clerics work for a living, plzthx.
  • Power Players can be an annoyance to some. Not to me, because I’d like to give them a challenge and find a way to fight back against them.  I can feel my brain fold thinking of ways to outsmart Denzil, I loved the challenge that much.  Only thing is, Denzil’s playing style just doesn’t mesh well with some players, which is the case here.  Also, I don’t think that Living Parnast or Æthercoil would work well with Power Players, because they’re mot story and character driven.  Denzil works best with a classic dungeon grind, something that is similar to a “Easy Setting” for my creative abilities.  I can still make them.  I just don’t see them as my best work.
  • I went a bit too far with the world-building here, with the additional dungeons and what not. When I reset Princes of the Apocalypse, since it’s becoming my favorite module so far, I’ll be removing the elemental weapons and leaving most of the main regions as they are.
    • I might just add in a stray dungeon or two in the case it’s needed
    • The Black Dragon remains as I written her; having her in her own mansion tended to by the stray humanoids she rescued is a good idea.
    • I’ll keep Meriele in charge of Red Larch and the petrified ‘Believers’ that fell out of her favor. There are some other smaller changes I’ll keep in town.
  • That means replacing the Hall of the Moving Stones dungeon with something else. I’ll put in the threat of the Cult of Black Earth to turn Meriele into a statue, and the quest to get Stone to Flesh back in the spellbooks.

Item:  Lost Mine of Phandelver, Saturday, 23 Apr

Video Link:  https://youtu.be/g0tJCXyX_IE

I expected Denzil to get back at me because of what I did the previous night, and Denzil didn’t disappoint.

Granted, he wanted to get to Claire, but Clair decided to bail this campaign too and decided to DM a Pokemon-themed campaign which I’ll link you to ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdCJCitnfCI ).  So he needed an alternate victim to vent his spleen and, thanks to the roll of the dice, it fell on…me.

Or rather poor Linka, my pandaren.  She got one rounded by the first encounter where Denzil just kept added creature by creature by even more hordes of creatures.  You really have to see the video to believe what happens.

Fortunately, I was spared further pain when Linka returned from her visit from the hereafter, having her gut filled on enough divine brew to get her ideas on her own local batch.  One belch from her and everyone around her got blitzed! One of the drunks ended up irritating a local druid, and he ended up transgendered into a cuddle partner for the panda, and then as he returned, he found himself permanently stuck in a pink frilly dress!  I’d tell you what happened next but I have a limit on when things get ‘Aristrocratic’ (I refer to the joke, folks) so if you aren’t so easily triggered go watch the video, folks.

What I can say here is that Denzil ran into a familiar problem with me when it comes to DMing.  You can never prepare enough.  Even if you think you have enough material to take you through a good three hour session, expect to see everything you planned to use be expended in two.  Or less.  Take it from me, the one who thought that Hoard of the Dragon Queen’s hatchery stage would last more than one session.  (Sure, some of the players were following along with the publication on the fucking table but I digress.) You’re probably going to be ad libbing for the final hour or so, maybe more if you’re unlucky.  That’s why I said that worldbuilding is as good as preparing what’s in the module should be planned in equal parts, that having some extra businesses, shops, NPCs, baddies, and the occasional dungeon would be a good idea.

If all goes well, you might be seeing me stream some of this planning this week

Item:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Sunday, 24 Apr

By this time, I’ve decided on the next Kaizen improvement for my streaming:  The use of Playlists on Youtube to export the videos in now that I can upload entire sessions in one video; provided that Infiniscene isn’t being Beta, of course.  I’ll be doing that for my next two campaigns listed below, and so on forth in all of my adventures.  This will really be a help when Infiniscene does act Beta and the session’s recording ends up broken into separate files.

It’ll also help with listing the videos in these recaps.

In this session, the party has arrived to the Raider’s Camp.  While sneaking into the place and setting into their own campfire was relatively easy when the party has available cloaks, it was all but impossible for the party to do anything else, including rescuing Leosin Erlanthar from the Cult before he’s executed at dawn.  Any thought up plan would result in the whole camp being alerted and every Tom Dick and Harriet, all 500 of them at least, dogpiling over the whole party.  Eventually at the end, the Dwarf—in typical Dwarven fashion—just said, “<Fuck it, I be rescuin’ this monk, and probably sacrificin’ meself in the process!>”

The rest of the party, including Boo who’s been trolling me with pictures of Anita Sarkesian’s misshapen pie hole all throughout the session, (Maybe it’s her ugly face that never smiles that caused Infiniscene to break, the cow) decided on a relatively saner route: By now the table has approved of Justin’s trained Mimic to have the similar abilities as Diskworld’s Luggage.  Right down to the wooden teeth and tongue.  It also included a pocket dimension for those devoured by the Luggage can reside in with relative safety and discretion.  It has breathable air that is circulated thanks to the Luggage opening its mouth regularly. Justin prompted the Luggage to go under a wagon with other treasure while everything goes south around it.

Something tells me I should fear the worst with Justin’s companion.

Item:  New Adventures

With the RFED incident, I no longer have any running campaigns at the moment.  Which means that I’m planning on replacing the campaigns for my Thursday and Friday tables.  On Thursday, I’m planning the beta play of “Living Parnast,” my homemade campaign set in the aftermath of Hoard of the Dragon Queen and progresses through the following publications.  Along the way, the party will rebuild the village, adding buildings and running the administration with the hope of making a home base into a major city in the future of the Foxfire Forgotten Realms.  These will include mechanics that I’ve designed that will go into Æthercoil.

With the Beta Launch of Æthercoil, I’ll also be including a supplemental System Resource Document that will cover my homeruled campaigns, which will cover some of the backgrounds of both Living Parnast and Æthercoil, the various mechanics I designed, and character options which I customized, created, and in some cases flat out built like Frankenstein’s Monster. (I’m referring to the Engineer class) I’ll have it available in this site once I have everything together, and you are invited to provide me feedback on what option, feature, or mechanic might need a further tweak.

My plans for this week will include streaming planning sessions where I build the tables, and work on the SRD.  I hope to include streaming some sessions on Photoshop as well as I work on some art.  Finally.

D&D Recap: Death House; Encounters; 6 Apr 16

After a week off thanks to an electrical storm, my completion of Death House (just another tick off my  DM’s Reward Card) adventure went off as expected.  While some in the party did consider sacrificing one of their own, they decided to flick the specters off, deal with Lorghoth the Decayer, and deal with forcing their way through the house now in its true form; that of a nightmarish lair meant to chop the party into bits with its scythes and rat swarms.  To be honest, I thought that this session would last longer; they managed to escape in about an hour.  Someone found out that brittle walls also means brittle floors, so they went from the 4th to the 3rd floor by falling through a hole made by the Dragonborn.

Of course, I make them take falling damage, until someone grabbed a rope.

I managed to tag members of the party a couple times with the scythes, but they managed to spill out the front door…

…and back into Baldur’s Gate.

As some of you would read from earlier posts, I moved the Death House and repositioned it over Mandorcai’s Mansion in Baldur’s Gate, replacing it on the plane.  Having this be this haunted mansion is an excellent way to implement Death House into a Baldur’s Gate setting; using it as Mandorcai’s Mansion.

In the Curse of Strahd campaign, however, I have this be the ending:

The moment they leave the front porch, they arrive at the cobbled streets of the Bloombridge district, and they find that the mists have receded.  When they turn around to see that the mansion they came out of has vanished.  The area is just a vacant lot now, with green grass and chirping birds.

In the midst of the crowd who saw what was once Mandorcai’s Mansion vanish from existence, as sudden as it appeared so long ago, Madam Eva hobbled into view, joined by a couple watchmen with your 1000 gold coins each.  “Congratulations,” she said.  “It looks like you might be the ones we of Barovia are looking for. Perhaps I could invite you to talk to an old woman about what just happened?”

This will lead up to the Curse of Strahd campaign proper, and a bit of a quandary:  My campaign party now has two campaigns to work on:  Out of the Abyss and Curse of Strahd.  At first I thought I’d duck back into Out of the Abyss and then get back into I6 Ravenloft 2016…ahem…Curse of Strahd. However, the party liked the part about interacting with the NPCs, which is a) something I’d like to work on, and b) more prevalent in Curse of Strahd.  So the party decided to alternate between campaigns.  Out of the Abyss in the next week, then Curse of Strahd after that, then back to Out of the Abyss until this campaign is completed.

Item:  Scourge of the Sword Coast recap

By now I have my Thursday session on hiatus since the remaining party decided that it would be best to start a new campaign instead of just plopping in new players that don’t know what happened in the several months prior.  So I shelved Dead in Thay until later.  I still might need to better emulate virtual parties, after all.

Looking back at the campaign that officially ended in the near TPK with that Pit Fiend turned Archangel, there are some items that I’d like to discuss.  These are lessions I learned on the way to DMing greatness.

First off before anything else, I learned a very important thing:  Friend DMs don’t let Friend DMs work with Cyphers in a 5E setting.  Especially Cyphers that emulate the Deck of Many Things.  In fact, don’t even think of using that god-damned artifact. At. All.

Second point is more applicable to other campaigns, and eventually Æthercoil.  During the Scourge of the Sword Coast campaign, they actually started a business.  (It’s now run by Pancheska, a CN-aligned succubus.  Or at least that’s what the general public things:  Who would expect something so complex be run by a Robotic Bunny Girl?) In Living Parnast and Æthercoil there is going to be some planning of homesteads, cities, and businesses.

There’s going to need a mechanic for these scenarios.  I believe that I can make a uniform mechanic inspired by Pathfinder’s Kingmaker series that come into play inbetween chapters in modules, during downtime.  The basis behind this mechanic is styled similar to a turn of Magic: The Gathering:

  1. Untap Phase: This is where most of the stats [Stability, Economy, Loyalty, Unrest, and Build Points] are set up for the turn.  Also, any assets that were used in the previous turn and sessions beforehand are (usually) returned to standby, ready to be used again.
  2. Upkeep Phase: This is where most of the main checks needed to be made for the turn.  The Checks for Stability, changes of population, income and consumption are taken care of, and so on.
  3. Main Phase: This is where most of the building takes place in.  The map involved is a series of 2×2 blocks with a road or ally surrounding them.  Each map starts off with some pre-made blocks and you can expand some blocks as well as build on the blocks you already claimed.  You can also set up businesses and services and grant related roles to various NPCs.  You can only a limited number of teams that you can devote to building.  (Note that it Build Teams might need more than one turn to finish building)
  4. Event Phase: This is a random event that pops up during the daily operation of the location, be it a home base, town, farm, business, and what not.  This can be either a wheal or a woe so it’s best to prepare for the unexpected.
  5. Main Phase 2: You can split up the needs for the main phase before and after the Event.
  6. End Phase: After you finish with your planning, set your NPCs to their jobs, and have your Build Teams up and running, you can now prepare for the next session or chapter in your campaign.  You might receive some reports on the road ahead, and you can buy any needed items and restock your supplies.  (Of course, you might need a certain installation, store, business, or whatever built for you to do so)

I’ll be working on this for all of my projects, and I might even make a document for this mechanic in a RPG Document site.  If you have any suggestions or wishing to brainstorm with me, feel free to chat with me over at Google Plus.

The third item is something I’m working on already: Improving the XP system.  I’ve been working more on the Excel sheet to spread the XP among all three pillars in an RPG, [Combat, Interaction, Exploration] this is something I’ll be implementing starting with Curse of Strahd, although Living Parnast and Æthercoil will have a more finalized version of this.

Last but certainly not least is something I learned very quick when running Campaigns on Twitch:  Worldbuilding is just as important as Preparing the actual module.  Not only do I have to make sure that I have encounters, maps, and scenarios set up because the Hardcover modules do not give you every detail of the campaign, but you might need to make up random events, roll up some random NPCs, make sure you have a Tavern, inn, traveling merchant, or Item shop ready to offer the party when they need it.  And having a randomly generated dungeon that you can modify on the fly is a good idea.

In other words, even though you should steer clear of the Cypher generator, Donjon and the alternates will be the DM’s best friend.  Not to mention a One Note book to keep track of all the things you create in advance, and you will need to make them.

About Legendary Actions

I need to give everyone playing a bit of a heads-up about this rules tweek, effective since Encounters:  If a creature has Legendary Actions, be aware that they can use these actions as a Reaction–even after they used their once/turn Reaction–and even Ready a Legendary Action in between player’s actions.  I feel the need to make the Legendary Encounters a bit tougher, and the best way to do that is to make the Legendary Actions happen a bit more unexpectedly.

The Story of Count Strahd, Foxfire Editon

I’ve earlier seen the stream of the Daytona 500, and I have to say that I had my cardio for the day.  That was the closest win I’ve ever seen, just about a pencil’s length.  I had to lie down for an hour or two after seeing it.  Whoa!

Two Afterthoughts though:  One, I was really expecting ‘the Big One’ all throughout the last 30 laps or so, and Two…..why?  Oh WHY?  Did they allow that Tire Dipping @$$hole Jeff Gordon commentating?!?!?!  He can’t even announce a race without cheating!  That mike on his head ain’t even black, for Christ’s Sakes!

But anyway, I should really tell you this tale.  You might know of the famous ‘Tome of Strahd‘ story that is famous in Ravenloft.  However, in the version I’m writing, which I’ll be putting into the Death House adventure this coming March, it’s going to be a little different.

Here’s the in-campaign world version of Count Strahd von Zarovich’s origin story, as told by none other than Madam Eva:

D&D_Ravenloft_GooglePlus-Header

“Count Strahd von Zarovich wasn’t always a vampire, just as he wasn’t always the evil boogyman that your parents warned you about to keep you from misbehaving. He was at first a Noble Knight, on par with the late Duke Adrian. He founded his kingdom with a firm but velvet hand, striking down evil wherever he found it until he founded his own land, Barovia, a prosperous barony under the sun. The people respected him, but due to his actions, he was also feared and age has weakened him from his prime.

Hoping to establish a future for his land, he called on his younger brother, Sergei von Zarovich, to come and provide a transition to where he will rule after his death. Sergei brought with him his beloved, Tatyana, whom Strahd thought was the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. What he lacked in age and strength, he made up for in gentlemanly grace and a romantic soul that just drew the pair to his mansion. Did they make a trio? Who knows.

But that time was cut short with an ambush of an enemy Strahd thought was long defeated, killing Sergei and kidnapping Tatyana to be sacrificed for their dark gods. Strahd was, understandingly so, distraught, and in his despair and desire for vengeance cried out to anyone who can hear him.

And someone answered. A being of noble darkness, with pale white skin and eyes as black as midnight. He offered a pact with the old Strahd, an offer of power and of eternal live, so that he can rescue his beloved Tatyana. There was a price to be paid, of course, a price of blood, and that the darkness that enveloped this being, this…Sorin…will envelop the count as well. Even with the risks, Strahd agreed to the pact, sealing it in blood.

It would be the last sunset in Barovia, for as Strahd sealed his pack, turning him into a being we know as a vampire, the first vampire, the Mists of Ravenloft enveloped the barony, spiriting it away from where lands it came from.

By the time Tatyana’s captors realized what was going on, it was too late, they couldn’t ran away from where Strahd found them, because the mists sent them back to where they began. In time, they were all empty husks, for Strahd hunted them down and sucked them all dry.

Tatyana was safe, but if Strahd had any hopes that the fair maiden could be his, and that maybe an immortal vampire could be in place of his late brother, it was cruelly dashed. Tatyana was horrified with what Strahd has become, even though it was made to save her life. She fled from Strahd, and ran into the mists, never to be seen again.

Strahd knew that a price had to be paid, but he didn’t expect it to be so dire. His heart broken and his soul as much a blackened husk as his victims, he fled to his Castle Ravenloft and sealed the doors behind him.

And so began the legend of the Dread Vampire. The many stories of adventurers he had as playthings, the women he wooed into his embrace and experience his…kiss, the cautionary tales of darkness claiming people and souls, and of this mist carrying those who do Evil away into realms that they can never hope to escape from. If they were all written in these books, there will be no room in the Upper City for people.

Now then, children. You might pray to your gods to keep the Mists of Ravenloft away from you, and hope that your good and pure heart can be a bulwark against the darkness. But I need to tell you this as a precaution. The Mists have their own way, and their own reasons. Nobody knows what makes the Mists take someone and spirit you away. But we do know one thing about the Mists: Your Patriars and Duke has found the Mist’s presence in the Sunset Mountains, and inside the area of the mists is a village and a castle. Also, as I have arrived in this city, I have heard that the Mists has claimed a house in the Lower City as well, an old haunted house in the Bloombridge District.

The Mists of Ravenloft have come to Faerun.”

 

Dreams of the Red Wizards Recap; 18 Feb 16

Before I get to the recap, some update notes:

Item: The Curse of Strahd Launch Event.

Thanks to Dragon+, I was able to download the Launch Event PDF, Death House, which I’ll be running in Hero’s Hideout, and possibly later on in Roll20. I’m happy to report that I’ve already added my embellishment to the module. Granted, I haven’t changed the main part of the module itself, but I did change the location of the Death House, using my concept I mentioned earlier about bringing Ravenloft to you, and not you to Ravenloft. I’ll show some of my changes for the Curse of Strahd season later on in my blog, but I can tell you right now that there’s a haunted house in Baldur’s Gate (Mandorcai’s Mansion, by name) that’s really going to get a solid trashing. Both by the Mists of Ravenloft and by moi.

Item: Video Export Kaizen

It’s come to my attention that the player’s voices are a bit too quiet for the videos, which is what one of those players have told me. While I couldn’t do anything for this post’s stream, I did make a bit of a correction, by adjusting the chat volume on Teamspeak. Hopefully this fixes the problem for tomorrow’s post. Special thanks to Spacehampzter for pointing this out to me, and I hope that he will continue to find things that needs fixing, because even though I keep an eye out everywhere myself…I’m just one man.

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards

Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxfzpMohAba3htiQlZB69GGk

How do you get a bunch of adventurers who don’t claim to be heroes to go do something heroic?

That’s the question I had to ask myself in the middle of this session.

By now the area between Daggerford and Waterdeep is going to hell. This will especially be apparent when they come to the end of the session. By now, the Thayans have opened a link from Thay’s Doomvault—an installation of great necromantic power in the Magocracial country—to the Firehammer Hold in the Sword Coast, and the Red Wizards are beginning to spread their undead to bring Faerun down to chaos, using their necromantic magic that uses the worst parts of both the classic magical source and stupid zombies and the virus-type spread and fast zombies.

I want to have the campaign transition to Dead in Thay where the party heads over to defeat the Red Wizards, hopefully once and for all. I gave them multiple examples of how the zombies will spread all over the world if they don’t do something about it. I even had Syranna show up in this session and told them that they need to head to the Doomvault, take out a lich, and have a big reward of being a part of a land of great leaning and power…

…and all they say is “What’s in it for us?” Some of them even say that they’ll just move away when the zombies come, and you know how far south that turns out.

You can hear me groaning over the playlist.

In the end, I had Syranna give them anti-undead weapons and 1000 Plat to give them enough incentive.

That was enough for them to at the very least drag them into the latter parts of this campaign.

The party returned to Firehammer Hold and made it to the trap in Room 18 (Deep Duerra Cave). I had the trap replaced with something that looks innocuous, but is a whole lot sinister. Our bunny girl cleric, Axel, PTSD running through her circuitry, decided to touch it, with the intention of using it for some purpose or another.

The crystal teleports her to Room 25, alone, where she saw this:

This room has a corner fireplace that has a mantle adorned with a carving of a sword surrounded by two spiraling flames, actual flames that twist and bend in an unknowable pattern, over which a broken crossbow bolt that has been painted in blood that is still dripping down into the reddish fire. In the southeastern part of the room sit a large bed and a chest. A tall cabinet and an orante desk with a high-backed chair stand near the north wall. All of the furniture looks warped and transformed to resemble an abomination of flesh and bone. Many metal instruments and glass containers are thrown everywhere, including a burner, spoons, bottles, flasks, and alembics. In the northeastern corner, still bound by shackles, is Jekk.

Or rather, half of Jekk, from the waist up. His guts are hanging off of his cavity where he was sliced in two.

That’s what you would’ve seen, of course, if it weren’t for the Pit Fiend standing in front of you, with a shit-eating grin, saying, “I just knew you’d come.”

What happened next would be the most awesome play that I had to wave off:

With the use of Lucky and an Action Point, she was able to throw the Card of Balance (one of the Cyphers that I gave them) at the Pit Fiend.

The fiend would’ve turned into an Angel, a polar flip on their alignment: Just like the card said.

Then Axel did the similar attack…with a clone cypher, making two such angels.

That would’ve been the most awesome maneuver I have ever seen, something that would really make me stop the session so I can think up something to work from this…..

….then someone else claimed that they had the Cyphers in question, not Axel.

There was an argument, and I made my own DM’s call in the best way I know how: A coin flip.

….which fell against Axel.

Ever seen a big game-changing touchdown play get called back because someone Held? It was like that.

Needless to say, the Pit Fiend wasn’t happy with the retcon, and proceeded to pummel the poor little bunny into oblivion. She was sent flying into a hallway while the other party touched the teleportation stone to join in what will probably be their eventual ass-whooping.

But I’ve seen parties take out Kaiju in little more than one round, so I’m not counting the TPK until I succeed.

But man, if that coin would’ve fell the other way….talk about your ‘what could have been.’ It’s those times that I really appreciate being a DM. (It certainly not trying to poke at my players to get a move on, is it?)