Category Archives: Graypeak Oservatory

Faerun Telegraph System Update

As you know, my version of Faerun has some technological advancements, especially in the earlier inventions that would be archaic compared to us today.  One of the most used ‘cutting edge for the Realms’ tech is the telegraph, which is promoted by the Lord’s Alliance (although the Zhentarim has piggy backed on it.)

Events of the two most recent modules, Princes of the Apocalypse and Out of the Abyss has caused an expansion to this Telegraph network, which I want to discuss here for a reference.

The Network Map, certia 1490 DR
The Network Map, certia 1490 DR

This map shows the three telegraph lines that exist in the North region, superimposed over the map included in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. I’ve added important cities as my campaigns permit.

The main spine of the Telegraph System is the Sword Coast Line, going from Luskan through Neverwinter, Waterdeep, Daggerford, and eventually toward Baldur’s Gate and Candlekeep.  This is the telegraph line that existed the longest, during the short-lived campaign of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle.  (I’m considering making this into a fiction story.)  It has saved several lives during it’s existance from that module onward through the official launch of 5th Edition.

The two extentions began construction by the start of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the first of which is the Secomber Line.  This line begins in Daggerford, goes past Secomber, and through the Graypeak mountains through southern Anauroch (formerly Netheril) and finally Arabel in Cormyr.  It has recently extended northward through Cormanthor and eventually into the Moonsea Region, where its first messages were of the catastrophies that evnetually make the Faerun Refugee Crisis (I refer to the cannonized results of the Expeditions series of modules.)

The second extension and third line was the line to Mithral Hall.  However, it managed to reach Red Larch first, which became vital in its preparation for the second appearance of the Elemental Cults (Princes of the Apocalypse: Second Strike). The Mithral Hall Line will end up reaching Silverymoon as well, but two cities along the line will have their own stations by the second half of Out of the Abyss:

Westchester has been around for some time, situated on top of a direct passage to Blingdenstone in the Underdark.  Mithral Hall dwarves and drow of House Neo’Durdren constructed a temple to cover the cavern opening, and eventually constructed a village there.  As of this coming session, People of several factions are constructing the first of several mental health institutions made to address the madness and insanities that is spilling out of the Underdark.  These installations will be more than just insane aslyums, they will also research more common mental illnesses, like Depression, “The Psychic Itch” (their answer to OCD) and “Mindcrush” (An easier way to say ‘schizophrenia’.)

But Shepstage comes into play in the next session.  Shepstage is a Watchtower village overlooking the Evermoors and a vital part of the Mithral Hall line.  However, remember what I said about the Zhentarium using the Lord Alliance’s telegraph for their own purposes?

This Watchtower sits on top of another passage to the underdark; a direct path to Mantol-Derith no less.  The Black Network agreed to allow the Lord’s Alliance–and the party–to use this passageway to get to the Underdark and set up telegraph lines there.  (And so that the Zhents can use it as well.)

The party will progress from Gauntlgrym over land to Shepstage and then use the passage to Mantol-Derith.  Their next session will begin when they reach the underground village.

Forgotten Realms Setting: Expeditions Fallout

Since I do not follow along with Adventurers League storylines—mainly because most of my players don’t care about organized play, factions, or any other dross that gets into the way of the 0th rule of “Above all else, we’re have to have fun.” So while I keep up with actions in the Sword Coast, I steer clear of the Moonsea area, where Wizards of the Coast is setting Expeditions in (Expeditions being the 5th Edition version of Living Forgotten Realms), which I want to keep to its canonized form whatever I run them or not. You might see me dig into these Expeditions Modules to transplant a dungeon or scenario into my customized campaigns, but I don’t think it’ll be right for me to mess with the Modules themselves.

However, while I consider the modules themselves unmodable, the effects they have in the surrounding regions are fair game, and now that Wizards has shown the aftereffects of the Tyranny of Dragons Expeditions modules, I can incorporate them into my Realms:

The ascension of the Green Dragon Vorgansharax to the Cinnabar Throne in Phlan has caused a mass exodus of humans fleeing the dragon’s tyrannical rule. While most of the refugees in their great wisdom went to Mulmaster of all places, thinking they could find aid there. A good portion of the refugees did the smarter thing and crossed the Zhentil keep ruins and headed south toward the Dales, eventually reaching Cormyr and Sembia, where word of what happened traveled West toward the Sword Coast.

Hearing about what happened in Moonsea, along with the current evils that are running around the region (I currently have both the Cult of the Dragon and the Cults of Elemental Evil operating in the same time; since I haven’t done Rise of Tiamat, yet), the Lord’s Alliance agreed that an improved form of communication that will cross the distances between the major hot points in Faerun. Fortunately, thanks to my allowing of technological advancements in the Forgotten Realms, the Lord’s Alliance has access to the Telegraph, and they have created their first major network of telegraph lines between the major cities of the Sword Coast. It was easy for them to agree to expanding this network Eastward to reach other areas such as the Sumber Hills, Netheril, Cormyr and the Dales, and eventually to Moonsea.

Telegraph LineThey gave the call to many people in the Coast that were experienced in the telegraph, including a small group that managed to invent the telephone, sending voice through the same telegraph lines, to maintain this new Secomber-Everska Telegraph Line that will reach Cormyr, and from there the line to Moonsea.

One of these stations in the Secomber-Everska line will be Parnast, a village in recovery from Cult of the Dragon activities. The Order of the Gauntlet has just finished reconstructing the city, and partnered with the Lord’s Alliance in setting up the telegraph station. Manning this station will be a vanguard of Telecommunication technology in Faerun: Justin Mercurial of Daggerford, who the Alliance christened as Lord of Graypeak. Justin took up shop in the nearby hunting lodge in the Grayspeak Mountains with his soulmate, the Pandaren Lili, where he turned into a guildhouse for all adventurers who need one.

In future posts, I will be listing some details about the Lodge and of the new Parnast. And since you are still in utter shock over the word “Pandaren” in a paragraph on a Forgotten Realms setting, that too.

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.


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.


New Player Options: Unearth Arcana

As you may know, there’s a new Unearthed Arcana out detailing about Waterborne Adventurers, for characters that are out on the open sea.  I’m going on record that I’m allowing all of the options there for character creation on my table.

There may be some caviats though; the Minotaur Race listed here originated from Dragonlance’s Krynn, and can be tweaked somewhat to fit Faerun, or any other campaign world.  Otherwise everything else can be used as is.

On a side note, the Dragon Magazine is now available on the iPod, and coming soon (they better, Wizards) on Android.  In its first issue, it includes the Golath class, or so I’m told.  I’ll allow that as well, provided that there’s a copy I can actualy read and share with others.  I might have to excerpt that part for my wiki.

I admend my statement:  The Goliath race is already in the Elemental Evil Player’s Guide, and is already legal to use.   Dragon+ Ish. 1 doesn’t have any additional information to this.

And last but not least, I’m making plans to create a Home Base for my players to have a guild house in, espeically those who are in my Encounters table (they requested it.)  I might find a purpose for an now-abandoned Hunting Lodge overlooking Parnast for this purpose.  Stay tuned for further developments.