Category Archives: Princes of the Apocolypse

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: Week of 13-17 Apr 16

This week has been a wash as far as videos go.  Infiniscene was, as expected and as I call it, being beta.

Throughout the weekend, the stream has been shutting off in the middle of the sessions for some as yet unknown reason.  I’m thinking it’s network issues because I doubt I’d ever just turn on a browser and look up porn while I’m waiting for my turn, while I’m streaming on Twitch.  First off I don’t even like porn.  And second, I have three computers and four monitors, and that’s not counting tablets and the occasional Kindle.  I can multitask if I wanted to.

Wednesday; Out of the Abyss; 13 Apr

Wednesday started the staggered campaigns for my Encoutners table, I’ll be going between Out of the Abyss and Curse of Strahd until I finish Out of the Abyss.  This shouldn’t take me past June for this.

The party has moved clear of the Labyrinth Chapter.  They went past Filthriddens without conflict, and then they arrived at Yeenoghu’s Hunt, they wisely allowed Yeenoghu to wander out before taking on the remaining Gnolls that still fed on the Goristro.  They managed to get at the heart and some of the Yeenoghyu’s Blood needed for the ritual.

(I omitted the March to Nowhere for brevity’s sake)

Now for the Gallery of Angels, and the unfortunate angels that were not as much petrified but frozen in place in telltale “I have no mouth and I must scream” fashion.  All Eight of them, and each of them broken in body and mind.  I won’t comment on the Angel’s spirits.  They managed to get their feathers before they heard a voice demanding that they kill them.

Cue a bit of discussion over the alignment-based conundrum that allowed me to rest my brain.  It was easy enough to do the deed:  They can activate the Instant Fortress and squish them in place, but it would prove distasteful for some of the characters, for obvious reasons.

Then John found out that he still had the Necklace of Prayer Beads one of which had Summon Planar Ally.  Said Ally, when summoned, was just as puzzled over the angel’s existence as the party, although he had heard of some fallen angels that were double crossed.  The being noted the current location and said that he’ll alert his superiors on this as the party returned to Viseran, who has gotten the Timmask Mushrooms in the interim.

All that remains is Gromph Bernre’s grimoire.  Which can be found in Menzoberanzan.  Viseran knows where Gromph’s home is in town.  The problem is getting there and out with the party’s skin.

No pressure right?

Friday; Princes of the Apocalypse; 15 Apr

The battle between the Rules Lawyer and the Creative DM continues.

It began with the mob surrounding the party in the crosshall, with a new player arriving in the form of a halfling robe. Denzil, the rules lawyer, tried to port everyone out…only to meet a flaming wall of heated steel.  Oh, no, asshole, you’re not getting away, you’re going to at least take out part of this encounter.  And they did, managing to get half of the sheer mass of creatures consisting of the remainder of this dungeon level as well as some Mages who know Dispel and Counterspell, a necessary when dealing with Denzil.

Denzil then retaliated with sneaking over to area E17 in your publications and sabotaging the mechanics.  Whatever or not that effected anything remained to be seen, but I can only surmise that there is one cult pissed off at the knucklehead.

Almost as much as Claire is.

You see, in the middle of this encounter, Claire, who is played by my first Trans player in my group of regulars (remember what I said about Seige of Dragonspear, and fuck off, you college plebeians) decided that using the Orb of Dragonkind would be a good idea.  You know the orb.  The one who had that ancient dragon spirit inside who’d possess Claire if the dice decided not to like her.

The dice decided to like her today.

She ended up teleported to the lair of the Red Dragon waaaay back in the homemade dungeon I added for the water weapon.  It was easier for me to give the second key to the water weapon to Claire in exchange for the Orb than for me to get her back to the rest of the party.

I was about to call the session when I managed to do so, but then another Drama Storm came up:  It was another alignment conundrum with her and the Tiefling played by Denzil.  Throw in a couple Nat 20s dueling against each other and things really got derailed.

What a predicament, and it’s keeping going throughout the week to date.  Something tells me that I need to pull out PvP Mode, and a visit by someone I never thought would have to intrude into my campaign world:  The Lady of Pain.

Saturday; Lost Mine of Phandelver; 16 Apr

Something tells me that Denzil wanted payback on my poor Pandaren.

He made Linka work for her getting accustomed to what she calls, “Her Baby,” with trying to get inside that thing and fiddling with the controls.  I suspect that Denzil was mad at me at this point.  That Apparatus of Kawalish is going to have a cute nickname before the end, blinged out with accessories when they arrive to the nearest major city.  I also wanted there to be an owner’s manual or at least a title form in that device.  I’ll probably get one in Phandalin, as well as vying for a +1 quaterstaff.

Linka only managed to find the keys with a security device.  Important when thwarting plebeians trying to jack “Her Baby.” While this was going on, the rest of the party dealt with the sole survivor in the battle of Thundertree, the druid Reidoth.  The party managed to spell the beans about Cragmaw Castle, where Gundrin is believed to be held.

The remainder of the session was random encounters, some of them were necessarily overpowered to accommodate the party’s level.  They were powerful enough for the party to KO some people, but not deliver the TPK.

So far, it’s still 1 TPK for me, while Denzil is still sitting on the Goose Egg.

Imagine my shit-eating grin.

Sunday; Hoard of the Dragon Queen; 17 Apr

The party finished with the first chapter, Greenrest in Flames, with the classic one-on-one matchup between Langdedrosa and Illdar.  It was a classic depiction of this particular mission right down to the eventual KO of Ildar.  By now the party has canonized Justin’s luggage as, if not identical as The Luggage of Diskworld fame, or even a direct descendant of said creature (which is the cannon version), at the very least is similar in nature, albeit not as Evil.  If anything, the Luggage is more like a loyal dog companion to Justin than anything else, and quite protective. It nipped at Illdar at least a dozen times so far in this campaign.  It also took in four chickens from Transition Encounter 1, Stragglers, and burped out feathers from one of them at Transition Encounter 2, Rearguard.  Good Times.

During this session, I was sketching Justin and his eventual Grapple Belt (think of a slimmed down version of Attack on Titan’s 3D Maneuver Gear) to make improvements on Justin’s token.  I intend to share the progress of this artwork as I return to art, although it will be shown in Google+ instead of DeviantART.  There’s a lot of people out there who are better received there, some of which needs more improvement than I do.  Unfortunately, I’m not in this group.  Whenever I post something that people turn around and demand I answer questions about my personal live, I find out that I’m no longer welcome there.

Whenever I find myself going “What in God’s Name have I done wrong now?” in a job, relationship, or anywhere else, it’s a sign that I’m going to end up leaving said place.  I’ve said that line while in dA several years ago.  I’ve long since asked that when it comes to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.  And Instant Messaging, for-fucking-get it.  I’ve yet to say that about G+.  I hope to God I never will.

I might never say that about D&D; I’m pretty much welcomed in this open tent.  Even to Trans players.  (All I ask is not go into melodrama because I default on Cis Male pronouns.  My computer’s spell checker is more important than your feels.)

The group is now in transition to the Raider’s Camp and stopped just before the Rearguard Encounter began.  Here’s hoping things go well, we’re about to head into a hornets nest.

D&D recap; Princes of the Apocalypse; 8 Apr 16

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu6Z4jY2LCk

Oh, I doooo miss this.

I miss laughing my ass off when I’m on the DMs chair.  That’s what I end up doing when I see the party running amok all over my campaign world. In this case the “Eternal Flame” floor of the Temple of the Elements.  (The main multi-level dungeon in Princes of the Apocalypse.)  I wanted the party to have multiple dips in this dungeon, so I wanted several quests in that dungeon.  One of them is getting an orb of dragonkind from Vanifer, the tiefling prophetess of the Cult of Eternal Flame.

The party was able to reach for that orb, but not before some rather lewd, crude, and halfway screwed scenes—you can thank Ardie for this, the way this bard tries to get it on with every possible girl she could see, including Vanifer, which I screwed with her dimension door spell and plopped her right into the tiefling’s lair, and then have Ardie charmed into becoming Vanifer’s thrall for a good five minutes.

All this thinking of how to thwart Denzil and his rules-lawyering and min-maxing.  I looked at any and every challenge with relish, and countering a Rules Lawyer with Thinking Outside of the Box can make for a big meta-challenge.  Rules Lawyer meets Creative Thinker.  And sometimes I get the better of them.

And sometimes they do it to themselves.  They got the orb of dragonkind and they have randomized properties, and the dice rolling shows two different twists:  One, the orb grants proficiency in Performance, which thanks to the Rules Lawyer they stack.  And two, the orb contains the spirit of an elder red dragon—which the dragon who wants that orb wants to destroy—who will think of nothing of possessing the one attuned to the orb and reforming him or her into its new body.

Guess who attuned to that orb.

The bard.

She now has 4X perform, but if she actually performs, she runs the risk of becoming a Chaotic Evil Elder Red Dragon who would one round the party.  Bards need to perform to do anything, including spellcasting.

Not to be outdone, I set up a cliffhanger where Vanifer—who escaped the battle with the Rules Lawyer while I was nerfing that game-breaking scythe—got every other Tom, Dick, and Harriet to surround the party.

Me and Denzil are going to lob mutual assured TPKs at each other, I know it.

D&D recap, 9-11 Mar 2016

Every now and then you run into times there nothing really comes out like you planned.  For me, this week was one of those times.

Item:  Encounters; Mar 9

The intro graphic pretty much says it all.

I had a very beloved group of baddies to throw at my party on Wednesday, a Monster group inspired by Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Tea Party, complete with appropriate characters, and planned for an epic and likable encounter to have a remarkable pause in this campaign for Death House.

Hypnotic Sphere, Hunger of Hadar, and two Fireballs.

The encounter lasted less than five minutes.

Inside, I was dying.  At least I intend on still using this NPC party for my Living Parnast series.  More on that later.

I managed to get the group into the Labyrinth chapter where they got to the Portable Fortress and acquired it.  That will lead them up to a major scene with their second (or third, depending on who you ask) Demon Lord encounter.

But for now, we’re going through the Death House adventure, and I hope by God I can finally get my hands on Curse of Strahd during that time.

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards, Mar 10

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsMdCoUCo_Y  (Edit: I can not upload entire videos without breaking them into 15-min intervals.  You’d think they’d let me know about this.)

Infiniscene had a beta moment, but I was still able to stream from it.

This session was the first of the Dead in Thay storyline, and the first time I was able to field test the NPC Party moving around.  I have each party have a count of 50, as they take the elemental nodes that the party didn’t pick.  I drew from the on-board card deck on Roll20 to emulate their progress.  I only counted 2-10 cards, showing no progress on Faces and Aces.  I have to admit that I need to take it easy on them because I saw a lot of aces, and I first had it that an Aces means a member of that party died.  Something I wouldn’t know until I field tested the mechanic, right?

I had to admire the party for their ingenuity.  As much as it annoys me that some well-thought-out monsters get one-rounded, I like it when the party uses stealth to move around creatures, and this session, you can see the party evade pretty much everyone in the Earth Node, save for one Thayan who was too close.  I gave everyone 2K in XP because of this.

The rest of the campaign dealt with the Lich, Tarul Var.  I used the Monster Manual for the stats, which included legendary actions and everything.  At least I can console myself with the reality that I really can make a prolonged battle with one creature, at least until the time limit where I had Isteval and Company arrive.

I finished the session with the decision on Baazka and the blade on his side.  One of the party was genre savvy because they’ve gone through Dead in Thay before:  He pushed the blade in, banishing Baazka.

He’s going to remember that.

Item:  Princes of the Apocalypse, 11 March

Infiniscene was really on the fritz on Friday, so much so that I couldn’t even stream with it.  Which was sad because some awesome scenes, and the introduction of a new player, Nathan, who was in games streamed by Starwalker Studios.  He said he’ll give me a good word for them, hoping that I’d end up in a game there.  Nice to know that some networking is going on.

Which is more than I can say for Thulwar, the necromancer with the OPed summon.  Everyboth, including the player of Thulwar, Denzil, agreed, so I decided to give him a proper send-off.

Cue six Elder Fire Elementals and Imix standing around Thulwar over a bridge over lava, while every cultist in the Shrine of Eternal Flame doing The Halls of Castamere.

And thanks to Roll20’s Random Number Generator deciding to be a total bastard this night, it didn’t even last as long as the Red Wedding!

Fortunately for Denzil, he had a secondary character, unfortunately for me he rolled up a Tiefling Warlock who likes to use Witchbolt and Darkness in a combo.  He’s one of those players who likes to match wits with the DM.  No problem, I have a mechanic I created just for the occasion:  Mana Kicking.

Inspired by the Magic: the Gathering Kicker mechanic, it’s a way to game the Spell Points variant you can find in pages 288-289 in the Dungeon Master’s Guide:  You cast a spell like you would normally, but after casting it, you can kick in an extra spell point for additional purposes.  Casting a spell with a higher Spell Level is only one of these purposes. More will appear at a time most benefiting those I’m throwing at the players.  Read:  There’s going to be some shocked people, and come short cussing from Denzil.

Which will make me happy that I don’t have my web cam on while I’m playing, for I’ll be showing a lot of shit-eating grins.

Afternotes

I’m still not done with the Mad Tea Party, although they’re not going to be in my Encounters table.  I need to speed through Out of the Abyss once Death House is completed.  But they’ll come into play in my Living Paranst series, during their Rage of Demons chapter.  I’ll also be working on the Mana Kicking and NPC party progression as I go.

Last of all for this report, I got back with Infiniscene and they told me that they fixed up the problems I had.  I appreciate that kind of assistance with their streaming service, and they definitely got a customer with me.

Now then, if I can get some income to pay for this bill on top of the others…oh well.

D&D recap, week of 2-4 Mar 16

I had an appointment on Thursday afternoon so I only had two sessions this week.

Item: Encounters, Out of the Abyss, 2 Mar

I would’ve made this a tougher encounter, the Beholder encounter over at the Vast Oblivium, but I knew that there’s going to be a lot more campaign going on. Enough campaign for me to change my tactics and create more abbreviated sessions where I skip over the travel from area to area.

Maybe I shouldn’t stretch the transitions out like I did here, to show the progress from one point to another. Lesson learned? Perhaps, but then again, there’s a reason why I designed the Travel Track engine to speed up travel: I take some shuffled playing cards and line them up in a row. The party goes from one end to the other card by card, black means keep going, red means something happens. I created this for Living Parnast, and it will be needed for the Encounters table, no doubt.

Next session will show the final stage of the aforementioned Alice insanity that some of the NPCs in this campaign have fallen into: The Court. That’s when a group of people who have their identities transformed into the characters in the Lewis Carrol novel get together, create their own perpetual tea party, and crank the Faerzress in the Underdark up past eleven and into the twenties. The party runs into this Court because someone in the party wanted the Dawnbringer weapon, and I had to modify the Lost Tomb of Kharem in order to give the party a challenge in getting it.

I just hope I didn’t throw them into the wolves with my custom fluff.

The next session will create a pause of Out of the Abyss because I wanted to have the Death House adventure in March, which will lead into the Curse of Strahd campaign. This will take about three weeks, after which I’ll finish up Out of the Abyss and just do the main encounters of the module before moving on to Curse of Strahd. With luck, I can start on that campaign in June, which will give me some time, during the two months delay, to tweak the campaign to my style of DMing.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, 4 Mar

Exported Stream: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxfwgBNj56THvUA9y-8WxkxN

Ever sat down on what you’d think will be one of the better streams on record, only to have it blow up in your face because someone said something that created a hyuge drama? Happened to me tonight.

I don’t blame anyone on when this happens, especially when I had no control over the situation. I’m just the idiot behind the screen, I have no control over what comes out of the other players’ mouths, and I certainly didn’t see any of the newer players that got invited in settling into the table and using Call of Duty type behavior to break the ice. At first I thought it was weird that someone pulled out a $20 bill from an ATM and noticed white powder from it; in afterthought, I would’ve gone, “Hey, drop that bill, isn’t that how The Division got started? I don’t want you dying IRL in mid-stream!”

However, I would have to channel my Steve Rogers and go “Language, kiddies! We’re in a public stream,” when a returning player used a non-PC term to get friendly with another wizard. You’ll hear it early in the exported stream, which I had neither the technology or the desire to edit. Never had, never will. Sure, it’s used as a cordial greeting, but it’s clearly a bit past the boundaries. Note: The returning player—Denzil* by name—just got out of Basic Training, and I have a rule that, if you’re actively serving or a Vet, and want to play D&D in my table, I automatically invite you in. It ain’t every day I get to support the armed forces, and squeezing one in will be my best way to do so.

But “For Gosh Sakes, Watch Your Language!” There may be children present. Or recruits.

However, it was enough for some of my players to storm out of the game. Leaving me to sigh while scrambling to salvage the session. It consisted of the first part of the Scarlet Moon Hall scene with a big multi-stage encounter that led the party into interrupting in all intents and purposes The Wicker Man.

Then Denzil decided to raise two of the cultists that wasn’t getting pulverized into goo into his zombies. Regardless of what kind of DM I am, I doubt that any of the cults, including the Cult of the Eternal Flame, would’ve stand by and let that happen. Strahd von Zarovich might. But not Vanifer. She’s going to be locked on to that poor unsuspecting (??) necromancer and his once-a-session Monster Chunking Game Breaking Death Knight.

I almost had it in the second campaign where I had Elizar Dryflagon and his remaining cultists send fireball after fireball into the wizard’s head, almost killing him. In the end, the party had to flee before it was time to re-roll another character, which means that Elizar will have a Round 2 to prepare, and ooooh, will he prepare. He knows what he’s going up against, and he knows how to deal with such a creature. We’re going to have fun this coming Friday, drama notwithstanding.

Coming back to the drama. I wish these things don’t happen as often as it were, and I do my best to be as accommodating to different player styles as possible. All I ask is that the players don’t intentionally be total jerks; in fact, I quote Will Wheaton’s Law twice in my rules for just this reason. Of course, there’s the factor of people not knowing what’s would be inappropriate to another player until after the fact. Even if you try not to be offensive as a rule, mistakes will happen. (In fact, the quickest way to offend me is to bend over backwards not to be offensive and ‘College Safe’ all the time. My D&D table should be a place where people are safe to explore ideas, not be spared from them. Again another idea behind Living Parnast.)

The people who left cared very deeply about the lore they were building about their characters and felt that said lore were being ripped to shreds by the temporarily “Call of Duty” emulation. If there were enough time and cooler heads, I’d like to have a short discussion on how the different character lore can be, at the very least, peacefully co-exist. Or if that doesn’t work, have a secondary character made up that you can replace your first character with that is more palatable. Likewise, with Rule Lawyering, the bane of some people’s gaming experiences. Me, I don’t mind people looking up the rules on occasion, keeps me honest. I will request that, if you have a rule question or contradiction, make it a private message. ( /w gm [Insert Rule Correction Here] )  I’ll make the correction in the roleplay.

I only wish that I didn’t have to contend with people rage quitting because of something I didn’t have much control over. At least they didn’t see me any less of a DM, so I can count this up as the trials and tribulations of a successful Dungeon Master.

Here’s hoping that this next week is better. Although I feel like destroying something beautiful now. Another Pit Fiend, anyone?

  • I plugged in the wrong name before.  I got it fixed now.

D&D Recap, Week of 24-26 Feb 16

Item: Encounters (Out of the Abyss), Wednesday 24th

This session was filler; a visit with a traveling merchant (Note #1: RNG a merchant for each available campaign that’s capable. For now, that’s Out of the Abyss, Princes of the Apocalypse, and Curse of Strahd, since I’m already planning the start of this.) and some filler encounters up to the arrival at the Vast Oblivium. I gave them a heads-up that they will encounter a ‘Fucking Beholder,’ as I call them. Of course, I’ll be modifying the encounter to rank it up to the group’s XP level since it will be a major encounter after all.

The party also requested to know the whereabouts of a sword they showed in the copy of the module he bought…the #1 threat to my DMing career; second only to Bears. Good news, I’ll give him a chance to get that Dawnbringer. The Bad news is that he has to go through my custom Legendary Monster Team to get to it.

Alice and her Court is coming.

Ooooooh, some parts of me want that TPK.

Really, I really need my first TPK

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, Thursday 25th

Video Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxcj1E88DBg_ola5EEKSm03p

I realized this need the moment I set up this encounter that lasted the whole session. This is where Alexis, the robot bunny girl, picked up a teleportation crystal at the same place as the exploding rune that turned him into that robot bunny girl. I punish such stupidity.

And punish them I did, with a Pit find with Max HP, 1 Legendary action which it can Spellcast, and three Potions of Supreme Healing (10d4+20) stored in its asshole! Keep in mind: Pit Fiends can cast fireball at-will, number one. Number two, Legendary Actions can be used as additional reactions.

I’ll admit to a dick move though. I allow Alexis to eldritch blast the potion before the pit fiend can drink it. Unfortunately, when Alexis rolled the Nat 20 he needed, the blast broke the potion just as it was over the pit fiend’s mouth, its contents falling into its mouth anyway!

I really wanted that TPK.

I managed to take down all but Alexis, the last survivor, who in her infinite wisdom to use cyphers in a combination. He managed to summon that Card of Balance like last week, and managed to attack the pit fiend with it.

The resulting Angel took her fallen companions and, thinking that they’re dead, spirited away with them in toe, leaving Alexis alone.

She stumbled out of Firehammer Hold in a stupor resembling those of war survivors, as Pancheska found her wandering mute to Daggerford, blue screens in her eyes. As the succubus took her in, I immediately moved ahead to Dead in Thay, where the party gets to retcon their characters for the new module.

Alexis will return, in a vie for redemption, over what happened to her, the other party members will be remaking their characters to suit this mission of heading to Thay to take the fight to them.

This is why, when someone asks you to save the world in Faerun, you say yes! You can deal with the payment later, but you say. YES! Winston said that for a reason!

Dead in Thay will begin in two weeks. I’ll be out of the town next Thursday.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, Friday 26th

Video Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxeuz37F2Mf-qB61VRkfZa9V

As Homer Simpson said, “I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my homosexuals fuh-laming!”

That’s what I think of when I see Ardie Starflower, one of the three new players in my Friday table, all thanks to who is becoming my first major supporter of my stream, Spacehampzter Boo. He’s the one who does that Preaching Paladin, Ildar. Cue a lot of beaucoup bitching and a lot of hilarity which making this session the highlight of my week. (The Wizard and the Warlock that wounded out the other two new players provides their own laughs as well, as you can see in the playback.)

This is the part of the game that I just flat out love, where the players make me roll around behind the virtual DM’s screen laughing till I’m dizzy. I’d suggest this stream to those who just want to see a session of people just having fun with the game.

As far as the session goes, it was a slow one, enough for the new players to get used to the campaign. The Red Dragon told the party that they need to deal with the orb of dragonkind that the Cults of Elemental Evil has in their possession. It is currently held by Vanifer, who is in the Temple of the Elemental Fire (Eternal Flame). They come back with the destroyed orb of dragonkind, and they get the second key they need for the Water weapon.

I will need to scale up the encounters for the Scarlet Moon Hall and the Temple of the Eternal Flame maps, because I now have 7 players at Level 6, but it will mean their first foray into the main dungeon, the Temple of the Elements.

Next week will have the Beholder Encounter and the Lost Tomb of Kaheem modification, and then the above resetting for Friday. I have some time to deal with the multi-team (The party and three Virtual teams) for Dead in Thay and the making of the maps for Death House which will start the Curse of Strad Season.

Meanwhile, I’ve begun the second draft of LP01-01 Liberation from the Dragon Queen module. I finally got enough ink in my printer to print out the document so I can proofread it offline; I can proofread on the document in Word, but I find it easier for me to print it out and do it offline. Of course, this means for a more chaotic edits and the need for extra sheets for replacement passages, which I have an experimental process to control the mess. I’ll let you know more about it later.

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.

Princes of the Apocalypse: 19 Feb 16

Item: Corrections in the previous post.

I had to make some corrections to the previous recap of Dreams of the Red Wizards, thanks to Zikuan, the player on the table that is playing Axel. (Yes the bunnygirl bot cleric)

Item: Death House update

I managed to write all of the twists I wanted to make in the Curse of Strahd launch events, and even took in some suggestions from Lex Starwalker to ensure that I do not have a surprise TPK during the event. Starting this week, you’ll be seeing some of my tweaks to this coming season, which will have their effects, not just in my customized Realms, but in the more canonized Living Parnast as well.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse

Trigger Warning: Voice Chat Harassment

URL of Youtube Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxcpR116VraLAM2BYaoRz8rU (Please let me know if I need to improve the audio more. I’ll be too busy preparing the next week’s sessions and sprucing up LP01-01, thank you in advance.)

Just when I thought that the adventure has been slowed down somewhat.

I did a slight retcon and said that the party managed to get to Beliard to get the greater restoration to poor Nightblade’s catnip addition. Once that chore was over, they party then returned to the water dungeon, otherwise known as ‘The Scene of the Crime,’ to get that water weapon.

I had it so that the weapon is protected by a pair of locks, each needing a key that’s on opposite ends of the dungeon. The got the first one that was guarded by a sleeping, then turned, beholder zombie with little to no problem.

Then they tried to cross the map to the opposite end.

In the middle of the map they encountered some Green Hags that attempted to use their baleful glare to kill some frightened player (they almost succeeded)

Then the druid thought he’d wild shape into a Giant Elk.

That was when someone who I’ll keep nameless decided to play this video. Over and over and over again.

Cue the second derailment in a row. We were all falling out of our chairs laughing. Some even called this session even better than the last one, where drugs were involved.

(Personal Note: In between belly juggling laughs, I was thinking to myself that this is what I was needed and missing in my previous attempts to get a presence in the tubes. If you’ve seen me for a long time, you’ll know how poorly I fared when making web comics. I wanted to get a response that will get me laughing like what I’m doing, and keep encouraging me to continue. I didn’t get that from deviantART, to say the least. I’m getting that in Roll20, Twitch, and hopefully feedback from Google+ on my D&D projects. This is why I made the switch in my plans for my life.)

I closed the session on a cliffhanger. The second guardian of the key was a Red Dragon. Young Red Dragon, because I didn’t want a TPK right away. At first he didn’t want to parlay, especially with that preaching Paladin of Lathander. But a successful CHA check later, and the Dragon agreed to a game of chance for the key.

Isn’t that a good cliffhanger or what? I really need to think about what to throw at the shlebs. Especially the one who was blowing Elk Calls for about an hour during this session.

Week of 7-13 Feb 16, part 3

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, 12 Feb 16

Video Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxeR6pKmTJvFEUMmFR9lWYSG

Trigger Warning: For some people, this is the best D&D session ever!

I say this because some people think it’s because of some prime action, or a major plot point, or a beginning or conclusion of an epic storyline. Apparently, there’s a part of me who thinks that a D&D session isn’t good unless I’m hiding behind the dungeon master’s screen laughing and crying at the same time, feeling the insanity of my players like Steve Harvey’s Family Feud. This has got to rank up here with the infamous ‘-cupine’ incident.

It started innocent enough, though. The party progressed toward the third elemental weapon.

I should’ve seen that I’m going to have quite a time when the RNG gave me a dragon encounter, and not just any dragon encounter.

Remember that young green dragon who got blown into the Dessarin Valley? From Dreams of the Red Wizards?

Guess what the Princes of the Apocalypse party met.

Fortunately, the dragon was in no mood to attack. He was too woozy and disoriented to fight. The party decided to make friends with the wyrm, offering it a small allotment of coin and even sending a healing spell that way.

At this point, I have to put up one of my hidden rules in campaign design: No Two Dragons are alike.   Just because they’re a chromatic doesn’t mean that they are cookie cutter identical in temperament and personality. Some Chromatics are good, and some Metallics will end up evil. With this dragon, he just wanted to set up a simple hoard and live somewhat unmolested by adventurers. He’d might go as far as to say, “Listen, if I hand you a weapon from my horde, would you’d just leave?”

I don’t know if he’d do that, but he will remember the party’s good deed, and will return the favor in a future session. Oh, and by the way, and there’s always an ‘oh by the way,’ that qualified as a non-violent resolution: The XP for that encounter got doubled. I reward those who think outside of the “Open Door, Kill Feeb, Take Treasure, Lather, Rinse, Repeat,” mentality.

It’s part of how I design the Living Parnast series.

The campaign went on toward Beliard and a nearby marina where I had some boats ready for the party; the wizard who made the Stone to Flesh spell offered the party the boats and a Stone to Flesh scroll for their troubles.

I didn’t see the danger sign when they arrived into the dungeon where the water weapon is located. I did see the sign that said that the weapon is behind two locks, and the party has to find two keys to unlock it.

Then the party walked into an Earth Elemental, just minding its own business.

The new lady in the game (and yes, there are women on the internet and they play games that I DM in—Fuck You, Anita!) cast Plant Growth on it.

Producing Catnip. And Marijuana. And Poppies. And Mushrooms. And I think someone was making LSD in the corner just for kicks.

Note that one of the members of the party is a catfolk during this.

Also, I haven’t even touched the part about the two druid characters wanting to get it on every five minutes!

The video speaks for itself. I couldn’t Dungeon Master for thirty whole minutes because I was too busy laughing. I was on the floor laughing. I was laughing like someone who has completely lost all sense of reason, the kind of laugh that makes people want to call ‘those nice men in those clean white coats’ to take me away, but I was having the best laugh I had in months.

It was hilarious, and offensive, and funny, and irrelevant, and a riot, and righteous, and good. That is what this game means to me, that I don’t have to even stay on any track and still claim to have a good time.

I might never be admitted into any D&D Hall of Fame as a Dungeon Master, I might not even make a living off of it. I might be content to just break even with Living Parnast, but it’s a thing I enjoy doing, which makes it—and scenes like this—all worthwhile.

The number one rule of being a DM is that, above all, make sure that the players are having a good time. It’s different in each group I’m in, and it will be more apparent now that I’m saving the streams on YouTube. If the party isn’t having fun and having a good time with their three hours and change they’re giving here, what’s the point?

It sure beats whipping each other into a political fevered frenzy over some candidate they’ve been told that their existence is intolerable to them personally, right?

Cthulhu 2016

 

D&D Recap, part 3

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, cussing, adding to the previous post, Bunny Girl Acolytes. Psychobreak reference. (Yeah, I know it’s called “The Evil Within” in the states, but after what localization is doing to games these days, I would rather go to play-asia.com and buy an ‘all regions’ uncensored version of the game. Cute ninjas in bikinis, motherfuckers!)

Item: Addendum for Dreams of the Red Wizards, 4 Feb

Meanwhile, while the party is about to sludge through unholy undead dwarven death, the players is going send some minor PCs to form a virtual team with former PCs. It’ll take 1000 Gold (taken from the business funds) to fund a team, lead by…Holy Fucking Shit…Merdoc, that glorious bastard. For those who are just following along, virtual teams are teams of NPCs (or in this case, former PCs, of which this particular table has a metric fuckton of.) that are having their own adventures alongside the players. This might come into play during Epics-style modules that are built for multiple tables at the same time.

In this case, Merdoc’s [Virtual] Team is heading back to Phylund Lodge to turn that into a replacement farm. They should meet with little resistance, emphasis on the word should. They will leave Waterdeep from the Fountain Inn at the start of the next session.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, 5 Feb

This session dealt with the Sky Castle, and of a random (read: Pulled out of my ass) elite mook I’d like to call “The Butcher”. You see, the random generator for the castle presented a room with a whole lot of skeletons hanging from the ceiling. Someone said that they wouldn’t want to see who might’ve been responsible for this.

Just as I have this running through my head.

And then they opened up the next door.

Guess what they discovered? J

I used the Gladiator NPC block to denote the Butcher, which they promptly dispatched. As they progressed through a corridor, they found a bunch of cages with future victims, which the party freed, a castle-bound stable for flying animals—how else is a homicidal psychopath going to get up here, how else did he find the place, and how else could he snatch unsuspecting people and bring them up here so he can…work…in privacy—and a landing strip on the castle.

The three ladies are grateful for their rescue, and they will remember the party in the future: Erimith, a female elf fighter who plays the lute. Atiel, a female elf druid who somehow couldn’t remember who she was before being found in the forest. And Gili, a female gnome fighter who was looking for her companion, a green fire drake known as Frinan, when she was captured.

On to the air weapon, which they found with relatively less resistance:

Skybolt

Weapon (Longbow), legendary (requires attunement by an Elf, ranger; or rogue)

A longbow created with yew wood and inscribed with a elvish script that glows when the string is pulled. The energies will create an arrow made of electricity if no arrow is notched.

You gain the following benefits while holding this magic weapon:

  • If you do not notch an arrow into the bow, it will create one. This has unlimited uses.
  • Any arrow notched into the bow will automatically add a +2 to attack and damage rolls with it.
  • When you roll a 20 on an attack roll with this weapon against a member of the Cult of the Howling Hatred, the creature hit must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or have the dealt damage (after bonuses and maxed dice rolls) doubled. If this damage reduces the HP to 0, the target is chunkied.

Sentience. Skybolt is a sentient, chaotic good weapon with an Intelligence of 12, a Wisdom of 13, and a Charisma of 10. It can see and hear out to 120 feet and has darkvision. It communicates by transmitting emotions to its wielder, although on rare occasions it uses a limited form of telepathy to bring to the wielder’s mind a couplet or stanza of ancient Dwarvish verse.

Personality: Skybolt is a lighthearted weapon, with a somewhat sunny disposition and a fondness for adventure. The wearer could sense its delight for exploring, hunting, and taking out the bad guys. It also longs to join with its brothers for the grand quest it longs for.

It was after they acquiring the second of the four weapons when they are visited by the Priestess of the Elemental Air, Savra! Looks like someone on the bad guys subscribe to the “Let the fools do the dirty work so we can steal the prize when they get out,” strategy. Unfortunately for her, the players proved too powerful for her to take on outside of her home base.

Or the player’s ingenuity. Remember that Bunny Ears from earlier. One of them decided to try to put it on the one remaining Hurricaine. With a successful DEX check, it was slipped on.

The Hurricaine stopped, blinked, fell on her knees, and claimed to be hungry. After scarfing down a ration, she decided to tell the party what she knows, and agreed to join Ildar, the evangelizing Paladin of Lathander, in his new temple…provided that she can incorporate a Bunny Suit into her vestments of course. Her name was Joyce, and she was an orphan who fell into the Cult of Howling Hatred because she had no other place to go.

She knows that Savra was once a Feathergale knight who somehow was drawn into the cult in private by Aerisi Kalinoth, the previous Prophetess of Elemental Air. When she perished at the end the previous attempt to corrupt the world (last year, game time. By the Encounters team real time.) it triggered a contingency plan that turned Savra into her successor, complete with turning her into a winged elf. She is consumed with a hatred for humanity for killing her mistress and vows revenge on all of creation.

Joyce also remembered that there is a secret passage to the Temple of Earth (or the Temple of the Black Earth in the modules) from the new dungeon built in the Sacred Stone Monastery. (It’s the dungeon that housed the earth weapon.) While she doesn’t know the details—it’s somewhere in that dungeon—she knows that it exists.

She might tell more info in later sessions, as the storyline dictates.