Category Archives: Masks and Mythos

Dreams of the Red Wizards Roll20 Recap, 30 Jul 15

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, recycled characters, recycled Undermountain, Mount Mayhem!

This is the second of the series I called “I tried this floor to be easy, but…”

It is the halftime program for this particular campaign, and I have a good amount of new players to show up. Just in time for a decent jump-in point in the campaign, which I made with a port of some parts of Undermountain. I have the party do a side trip to Waterdeep to meet with a magic metalsmith that can forge a set of protective gloves with some [traditionally] heat-resistant metal. The metalsmith in question, Dwarf Tharkham Flintfist, has stored some Dragonshards in a safe space in Undermountain (since the otherworldly magical rocks aren’t accepted much in the banks on the surface), and had to be rescued by the party in his latest voyage into the infamous death trap of the Sword Coast. A bone throne that turns living people into zombies is one such example, as well as something that Kyle, much to the other party member’s chagrin, tried to woo into his mount.

He was in Room 5 of the Undermountain campaign. Those who have the Campaign Book will know what’s in that room. It makes things no less bat shit insane when I converted the creatures and traps to 5th Edition. In that edition, the Basilisk’s Petrifying Gaze is automatic!

Before the Bastilisk is dead, and the cleric Kyle was playing wept over his corpse, two PCs got turned into stone; one by a Critical Fail on his save. Good thing I didn’t have my web cam on, because I was favoring my head.

Now the party has to get out of the dungeon, find a cleric to make some Greater Restoration scrolls, come back down with Tharkham because they need him to guide the party to the Dragonshard stash, and bring their petrified party members back to normal.

And all this and they haven’t heard of what I added to the dungeon, which is a former NPC I customed into a life on his own:

Dralmorrer Borngray, the Black Dragon

Introduced during Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Dralmorrer was originally a member of the Eldreth Valuuthra , a group of elf supremacists dedicated to removing humanity from Faerun. He joined the Cult of the Dragon because he believes that his homeland of Evermeet will be sheltered from the dragons’ reign. (p. 46) When the party cleared Castle Naerythar, turning it into a succubus-controlled abby, The Cult of the Dragon left Dralmorror in the lurch. This angered Dralmorror enough to vow revenge against the Cult. He took what he learned from the Cult of the Dragon, with some assistance from the Red Wizards, to become a necromancer bent on destroying the Cult of the Dragon first—hopefully before they free Tiamat from her prison—and then take care of humanity second. He took up a cloak designed to resemble a Black Dragon and took up the moniker of “The Black Dragon.”

He’s already been busy, in my Masks & Mythos Play by Post campaign, he has already killed a pizzeria owner, Freddy Oreioth, turning him into a lich that made an appearance in my Princes of the Apocalypse Encounters table. (How’s that for inter-campaign synergy? This is part of what I’m going for in my customized Forgotten Realms. Campaigns will interact with each other, sometimes in real time.) He is currently in Undermountain where he’s touching back with his Red Wizard contacts.

I was hoping that the Roll20 crowd will hear from him this week, but they were too busy mucking about with a lizard that turned two of them into stone. Mr. Murphy did more than just make me trip on words and gave the party Mount Madness! Oh well, he’ll be talked about next week if things go well; whatever or not the party actually encounters him is still up in the air. I might need to make some more tweaks.

Online Campaign Recap, 15 Jun 15

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, need for a digest, toddler PCs and Twins played by co-DMs

I finally got some people together to continue Dreams of the Red Wizards and go through most of the basement level of Harpshield Castle, just in time for someone from my Encounters table to get on Skype (the program I use for chat while I’m using Roll20) and stated their need to join in. That made for a great cliffhanger where the Albino Orc shows up with the Delimbiyr Bloke, the Zombie of the sculptor that made a copy of that device…and what the hell, I’ll toss in the Zombie Hoard for good measure.

Meanwhile, one of my Skype friends I met from Roll20 has invited me to co-DM another campaign, and we will have a set of twin characters that we’ll swap into when we’re on the other side of the campaign. (One plays with the team while the other is behind the screen.) It’ll be a Moon Elf Fighter and Cleric duo where I’ll show more as I go along, and yes, before you ask, yes I’m going to stream it.

I haven’t been putting much recaps into my Play by Post campaigns. This is because RPoL doesn’t have a public viewing mode. Instead I intend to set up digests of the forums for the public to read. Right now I’m working on Chapter 1 of Masks and Mythos, which goes through the initial character meeting up with Natasha, the Ghaele Demigod. They’re currently in the start of the action, where they run into a Murder Mystery that they need to help Grand Inquisitor Florence solve. How does this relate to Natasha’s vision of an adventure park for Faerunians to practice in? Stay tuned.

Masks and Mythos recap: Week of 15 May 15

Trigger Warning:  Spoilers, Mask fetishes, Vulcanoid Reference, Las Lindas Reference.

Since we’re just starting, most of the action here is my introduction written in Word, and the cahracters introducting themselves:

  • Alexia, a Rabbitfolk Rogue and daughter to Pippkin Ducaine, one of my NPCs.  Played by Meiou
  • Miranda Stalking Horse, an environmentaly conscious half-elf druid who isn’t above doing nefarious things to keep animals free, played by Chriscringle
  • Dort, a surprisingly well-mannered Half-Orc Barbarian played by John Dionio
  • Hartman Worm-hide, a Human Bard who want every race to peacefully co-edist, by thebluespectre

I’m not at the point where Natasha gets tells the people about her desire to make an “Adventure Park that helps would be adventurers learn the skills they need in a relatively less-fatal environment”.  While a trip to Chult is in the works, there will be some action still in Baldur’s Gate, so they can eventually get a level or two in before they start traveling abroad.

A word of warning, there will be a Five Nights at Freddy’s reference ahead.

Encounters recap, 6 May 15

Trigger Warning: Spoilers, Slow Play, new campaigns, Drizzt, Deviantart Artists

Wednesday’s session was big on players, but rather light on progression. I didn’t mind having a whopping ten players on the table, but I did mind having six big encounters in the past two days and we’re only halfway on the way to Beliard, which is what happened in the last two sessions thanks to the random event deck. I really should’ve had more black cards turn up. So for the next time, I’m just going to remove the Diamonds and shuffle 10 Hearts in with the Clubs and Spades (Black cards means ‘no event’ in my deck). One third of a 36 card deck should be enough to provide some space between campaigns.

Meanwhile, I’ll just start off next time with an encounter on a rather rickety bridge…with a bear in the river below (Need Moar Bear! Need Moar Bear!)…and then over to town so that the storyline can progress.

It will make for a much better report for next week.

And I really need to put a boot to get this campaign a move on. The next Encounters Season has already been announced.

RoD LOGO

Provided that you have the hots for a certain Drow Ranger, Rage of Demons will be a perfect campaign for you. In the published version, you’re fighting alongside Drizzt Do’urdren in the Underdark where there’s a bunch of Mike Foxfroters from the nine hells to kill…or be killed by.

I don’t yet know how much Drizzt content I’ll put in there on my table. I might do some very bad things to the Realms as a whole, like turning two of the three heavy NPCs into Chosen of Bhaal, or appropriate not one but two locations from “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” for my own customizations, but I kinda balk at snuffing off a well-known, and actually beloved in some quarter, character like Drizzt, or Elminster for that matter. Especially when there’s a bunch of people online who just hate on Drizzt, and I didn’t have to be a former fanfiction writer to find out why.

Those who bemoan people writing Mary Sue fiction, including those who go as far as write litmus tests and articles on how to de-Mary Sue a character, doesn’t give an answer to why people make Mary Sues but as one who made such an offense to the public during the 1990s, I think I’m obligated by Law to give one. I think it’s a literary equivalent of someone who’s lacking in manhood getting a Lamborghini. The Mary Sue writer is overcompensating for a sucky life. They want to make a story that is pretty much the opposite of their mundane to outright sucky life, where the character they want to be doesn’t have to get the constant stream of slings and arrows, the rejections, the flaws, the mistakes, and the isolation that they experienced in real life. However, during the process, they overcompensate and make things way too perfect, and the character and story becomes just as boring and mundane as the life they’re trying to get out of.

I won’t lower myself and wonder what kind of life RL Salvatore had when he wrote “The Crystal Shard” and then moved on to tell us Drizzt’s entire life. But I severely doubt that the drow is as universally reviled as some of my characters. Faerun’s a big realm, and for all of his Mary Sue tendencies, Drizzt only has a small part of it. And I have no desire to see anyone on my table relieve it from him just out of Internet Hatred fueled spite.

Justin Murcrial 1Also, it isn’t like someone who gets accused of being a Mary Sue can be in fact, a three-dimensional person. Drizzt is still, after all, a drow, and if he had a gold coin for every time he comes in a room and hears this in succession; Swords being drawn, a pause, and then those swords sliding back in their scabbards; he could give the newly-reincarnated Cattie-Brie a much deserved wedding. In spite of how some people write him to be, he doesn’t take over every scene he’s in, and he isn’t as universally liked as he is universally skilled. His mindset is similar to what I said once: “I don’t want to be a special snowflake, I just want to be a part of the blizzard; a unique being making his mark in the world, just like every other adventurer—just like every PC in D&D—around him.”

A prime example of what I’m talking about is my own Self-Insertion in this D&D world. Justin Mercuial will have a mere bit role in the Meta-game in my realms, but it’s an important one: He’s the one who’s going to man the Graypeak Lodge as not just a guild house, but also to push technology ahead in Faerun. You’ll see his role mostly in a story I’ll put here as well as in comic form in Hero’s Hangout. I want to make a poster comic for people to see in between sessions. I’ll probably start on that in June, in the meantime, I’ll have a small setting for the new Graypeak Lodge in the works, complete with maps and detailed fluff for what Justin’ll be doing there.

My online campaigns is getting off the ground

Masks & Mythos is starting in the Play by Post forum. For those who don’t want to follow along the forum will have a nice update every week in this blog. Also, my main goal of getting a streaming campaign is moving along nicely.

I got on Roll20’s forums and found a lot of people who want to play on my streamed Virtual Table. While they would love to play Algaren (another homemade campaign, which is an Epic Sandbox, my answer to Kingmaker in fact), I felt that I need to start with a published campaign to iron out the kinks (and check your minds out of the gutter. ‘Kink’ means problems in how I’ll do this) and then angle into Algaren. Also, there is the need for me to address the Thayan Red Wizards and Sazz Tham, whatever or not they’re going to be a further hassle in the homemade campaigns, or will there be a revolution in that Plateau Kingdom and the Red Wizards shrug off the heavy boots of the arch thay.

I really needed to do the two remaining Sundering campaigns, Scourge of the Sword Coast, and Dead in Thay, and having it as my first streamed campaign will be an excellent place to take it. While it will have its basis in the Sundering modules, I’ll be adding not just my own special twists into the mix (like Virtual Parties in the later stages), but also looking into previous versions of “Dreams of the Red Wizards” who started as an AD&D module.

Over the weekend, I’ll set up a Campaign Guide for my DotRW campaign, and have it and the Virtual Table available in the forums. I’ll start streaming campaigns in the coming weeks.

 

D&D Worldbuilding entry 1: Cosmology Model

While I’m focusing most of my worldbuilding in customizing the Forgotten Realms at this time, eventually I wish to make my own campaign world and set all the published campaigns on that. Princes of the Apocalypse already has an Appendix that offers options to set the campaign in different worlds. The reason why I didn’t just get to worldbuilding now is the same reason why some people prefer to enter the pool in the shallow end and work their way to the fun parts once you get accumulated to the water. I want to brainstorm and understand the many parts of worldbuilding and generate enough ideas (this part takes a lot more time and brainpower) to create a meaningful world that players want to adventure in.

As categories go, I tend to create Structurally, where I start with a foundation and blueprint for what I want to make, be it a story, a comic page, or even a campaign. Once I have a decent layout of what the main points is (which need’nt be a perfect skeleton of the finished work; I might find the need for placeholder thoughts and moving things around as I go.) I move on to flesh out the details of the work, adding and tweaking until I get to a presentable form, which I then share with others to critique and comment on so I can further improve on the work. Granted, there may be the use of memes needed and an occasional laughable idea that will be replaced in a later time, but that’s part of my creative process.

An article in gamergate.me has this mindset better illustrated with a World of Goo screenshot and this quote:

Structuralism says that cultural events or values are part of a larger, organized structure. This means that human experience is communicable only through a series of abstract, yet constant, laws. In English? Culture has many varying ideas within it, but what’s really important are the connections between them. It’s no wonder Structuralism was built on top of linguistic models, and languages follow rules and patterns while still being inherently cultural and ever-changing. You can change a connection, or add a new one, but the ideas remain, and may also form new connections, and those links may give rise to new ideas that stand on their own. This gives you a cultural “map.”

Image-06

Side note here: Autistics would find Structuralism pretty much compatible with their literal-based mindset. Being one myself, you can see why some Auties will go this route, instead of just jumping off the deep end of their imaginations and demand they perform.

With this in mind, I would like to share with my D&D crowd a particular building block I’m going to use in both my customized Forgotten Realms and any future campaign world: The Cosmology Model.

Cosmology Model
The Forgotten Realms I play in is Customized, including the related Planes.

What I did here is combine the old school Cosmology model found in 1st Edition with the 4ed “World Axis” model. In my brainstorming sessions about alternative planes, I found that this hybird works best for me.

The only omission is the Ethereal Plane, which is more related to whatever or not you’re corporeal than anywhere in this particular model. It’s the form of existence Ghosts and Sprits often reside in.

To fully understand the Material Plane, you need to see Cosmos. Either version. The pilot episode of the Neil deGrassie Tyson version has the best illustration of what I’m talking about.  The circle marked A is the entire outer space ever seen by everyone in Toril, which is that Dot “Enlarged for Visibility” marked B. Please note that nothing is set to scale.

Nor am I able to create Toril’s version of the “Pale Blue Dot” image in this model.

Everything else is described in accordance to the general consensus in the Published modules. The Positive and Negative planes need not fit right behind the Shadowfell and Feywild planes. (if this image were three dimensional, they would be in a different axis, like what you see in one of those magnetic swinging pendulum toys you might find in Spencer’s Gifts:

The Astral Plane connects to the First ‘Floors’ of the 16 Outer planes as expected, with the City of Doors, Sigil, at the center of this metaphysical circle.

The Elemental Chaos doesn’t include The Abyss like in 4ed, but is a melting pot of the Four Elemental Planes that separate at the outer reaches, just like its own Outer Planes.

The main reason why I’m putting this up now is because there’s a development in my Forgotten Realms cosmology that is effected by both the Sundering and the current spat of Elemental Evil. It concerns the parts where the Feywild connect to both the Astral Plane and the Elemental Chaos, and the Archfey who have as part of their essences connected to either plane. Those who are part Celestial beings are called Ghaele, and the ones with the Elements, Genies. Each group has their personality, traits, and abilities in line to the plane they tapped into, but they’re both equally capricious and mercurial in nature, and both groups have a similar goal: To ensure that the ongoing upheaval caused by the rearrangement of both Celestials (including the deities) and the Elementals does not degrade into another open war like in the primordial ‘Dawn War’ in the origin of D&D realm time. (http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Dawn_War )

In future posts, I’ll describe the Ghaele and the Genies in further detail, and how they involve themselves in my version of the Realms.

And eventually my own original campaign world.

Encounter Recap: 22 Apr 15

Trigger Warning: Spoilers, Slapstick Humor, Nat 20-induced changes of plans.

It’s funny how a Natural 20 roll will get me to improve a bit, and how it helps if you know a ways ahead in the campaign.

This is the episode where the party was supposed to raid a Haunted Tomb for skeleton bones. They first have to handle an ambush set up by a bunch of goblins with a trick door and a staple of one of my favorite genres of comedy.

basin drop

For the uninitiated, Gaki no Tsukai is a Japanese comedy show run by one of the more famous (at least in Japan and on some quarters of the internet) manzai duos, Downtown if you want to research them. It’s a lot more physical in nature; having a borderline Jackass style which some in America may like, I know I certainly did. Popular skits involve trying to guess a certain staple of food out of a possible dozen or so, multiple pranks where one of the Gaki team members having to perform a certain task under hilarious circumstances, various Punishment Games or Batsu’s including the popular New Year’s special where the team, while put through comedy hell, must not laugh or get spanked, and other cringeworthy pratfalls including this one.

Yes, I rigged a metal basin-slash-kitchen sink to that front door in the haunted tomb, and it would’ve hit somebody on the head if they didn’t make their Dexterity saving throw. But it made a big enough racket for the goblin party to charge the group.

As for the rest of the Tomb, the party manages to get to the second room, with the ghost inside. As the ghost questions the party about why ground skeleton bones to cure a rabies-style zombie virus is a good idea, someone in the party wanted to ask the ghost if there are any alternatives he knew about.

And rolled a Nat 20 for persuasion.

That triggers my “No Nat 20 Wasted” rule, of course, I had to think up an alternative that the ghost does know of.

Two things I’m kinda grateful for: One is the random name generator in the 5ed DM’s screen. It allowed me to roll up a decent name—Ograndel of all things—for a cleric that they should find in Beland, which is ultimately where they’re headed once they return to Red Larch: With most of the PCs at 3rd Level, and I have the published book, I can jump straight to the main campaign in earnest, which deals with a delegation from Mirabar that disappeared after they left Beland. The party will progress over to that city next week.

Perfect time for me to design a city with the needed additions—necessary because there’s no map for this city—which will be seen on my Twitch Channel. You’ll get to see me work on my Draw Plus program (upgraded to X8 for purposes such as this) Other possible developments for this weekend include creating a Magic Item Creation table, since so many people requested it. It’ll require a bit of research to get a good one going, and when I get it done I’ll post it here.

Logo work

I have the campaign guide for my first official online campaign, Masks & Mythos, uploaded, which means that I’ve set up the campaign official and am now waiting for the players to get their character sheets together and enter the game over at Roleplay Online.net. With the major steps to get that up and running out of the way, I can now focus on getting a Virtual Table Top started. Feel free to go to the G+ Community if you’re interested.

 

Twitch Channel up and running!

I’m happy to report that the Twitch Channel I’m setting up is now official. There might still need some tweaks and edits to make it perfect, but it’s up and ready at this time, and you can watch me prepare a Campaign guide as well as plan the next Encounters season. As I said, I’ll eventually make a couple campaign streams for Twitch and on off days work on illustrations and artwork. Maybe even return to the web comic that’s aging not too gracefully.

The Play by Post campaign, which will take up most of my first official stream, might not appeal to some of you. It has a good amount of masking fetish in it. While I’m not that much into it myself—although I have made a web comic that deals with sentient amusement park character costumes in the past—I don’t judge people on whatever or not turns them on, as long as it’s not really disgusting. I even worked up a couple archetypes and backgrounds that accompany this particular quirk. It’ll be in a Campaign Guide I’ll construct on the stream and them post it in the G+ community for the party to make their preparations for.

Because of the nature of it being Play by Post, you probably won’t get a regular blow by blow entries here on this web site, but I will set up updates on what happens in this campaign, as the adventurers progress.

After I get that out of the way, and possibly adding additional scenes for the stream, I’ll work on adjusting my Encounters campaign. Most of the characters are already at Level 3, so I can move out of the Chapter 6 Side Quests (which Wizards want you to start off with if your party starts off at Level 1) and move ahead to Chapter 3 in the main book, and the main gist of the story.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, I’ll design a streaming configuration that focuses on the artwork, with a view of the drawing table so you can watch me work. I hope that this will be the regular work schedule I do so need to get out of the slump I’m in, art wise.

Encounters Report: 8 Apr 15

Trigger Warning: Spoilers, Possible Fetishes, Threats of Streaming, Girls dressed like in Fairy Tales, Crossover into my first official Online game.

This session deals with the remainder of the Necromancer’s Lair dungeon, where Freddy Oreioth was tooling around with ideas for Faerun’s answer to Chuck E’ Cheese. The players didn’t think that he actually realizes that he is a lich who can summon undead as well as cast spells. Those who are on Google+ would know that I listened to some suggestions on how to improve on an up-leveled creature stat block. While I haven’t delivered more damage than I wanted to, Freddy did well before he was driven back to his phylactery.

And out of this campaign and into another. I’d like to announce that I finally got a big party enough to start a play-by-post campaign. (None of the previous ones got much players, but they have provided enough practice for preparation.) Some of you might not be into the special interests of this campaign—most of the players have a mask fetish—but that doesn’t bother me since making masking equipment and materials into a Fantasy world makes the creative lobes in my brain salivating. Expect to see some previews of the “Masks and Mythos” campaign in future weeks.

What is staying, however, is the Zombie Virus. Someone got bitten and the recent paladin has detected that it’s something that’s not as easily cured. They’ll find out more about the cure when they come to the Allfaiths Shrine back in Red Larch. Probably with a stint to a repurposed tomb from the book.

Oh, and I have the published book now, so I can take things into the main story (From Chapter 3) once people level up to Lv 3, and veer off from the Encounters material.

There is also a NPC that’s continuing in as well: Pell Mhandyvver.

Pell

When she entered the scene when the party finds her collecting materials for her components bag, some of them thought she was Little Red Riding Hood. Not too far off with her personality; she is a bit rebelling from her over-worrying grandmother. And while my fairy-tale inspired outfit for her might cause someone to bitch, at least she’s showing less skin than what some real life people her age are. She is also well armored with her flowing knee-length skirt. (My response to SJWs: Count your blessings! At least it’s not a chainmail bikini. Do you want me to make someone in a Chainmail Bikini? No? Then get off my blog!)

I could see Pell join in with Marcie somewhere, provided I get back into developing the RPG Maker project. Which brings me to the major development for this week.

This Tuesday, my birthday present will come in through UPS: A AMD A-8 Machine with 8 Gigs of memory. (A quad-core CPU with an 8 core Radeon GPU in the same chip? Who’s the sorcerer who made that integrated circuit?) This computer’s going to be the one I’ll be streaming on Twitch with. I’ll be streaming my online Virtual Tables and providing some views of my artwork and planning stages on days when I’m off. I hope eventually to broadcast real life games such as my Encoutners table.

I’ve already set up a Google+ community for my online D&D games, and everyone who wants to join in my table can go to the Google+ Foxfire Studios D&D community, and state that you’re interested. All I ask is that you’re not be a jerk in there and keep in mind that there will be plenty of Pro-Gamergate players in there. In fact, I’ll move Pro-GGers to the front of the line.