Category Archives: Dreams of the Red Wizards

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

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

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

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

…and back into Baldur’s Gate.

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

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

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

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

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

Item:  Scourge of the Sword Coast recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.

Dreams of the Red Wizards Recap; 18 Feb 16

Before I get to the recap, some update notes:

Item: The Curse of Strahd Launch Event.

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

Item: Video Export Kaizen

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

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can hear me groaning over the playlist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….which fell against Axel.

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

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

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

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

Week of 7-13 Feb 16, part 2

Item: Youtube Stream Saves

It took me a long way to get to this point, longer than I care to think about, but I’m now going to save my streams—an important suggestion—to from twitch to YouTube. You’re now able to see previous streams, and I added YouTube to the main directory.

The reason why it took this long for me to do this are twofold. At first, I thought that twitch saves about two weeks’ worth of streams already. They do so, but not publicly. They must’ve known that I’d be screwing up on the streaming. The second part is that I’ve been screwing up on streaming. It took me a while for me to get the streaming set-up right. I had major problems with OBS because I lack the power in a single machine to do everything. However, I still have an older machine (a five-year-old dual core) and a notebook that doubles as my computer screen, which I inherited last year.

I now have all three machines sending to Infiniscene. My main machine (the AMD A8 with a dual screen) is sending the Roll20 table and my voice over a web cam. My tablet is doing the Teamspeak work, sending audio from the other players, and my dual core is doing the controls and monitoring the Twitch Chat. Using these three machines with the Charter internet, (I’m still jazzed about how fast I was able to download Japan’s Sasuke (The original Ninja Warrior) 2015 at a rate of 1 Meg a second; that video was 6 Gigs large!) I’m finally able to create a stream that’s good enough for me to actually save for the web. I’ll be doing so starting this week.

As you would expect, and I expected this as well, that my forway into live streaming my D&D is going to be sketchy at first. I just didn’t count on it being that sketchy. There was some days that I just didn’t have the capacity for it. However, I was able to kaizen (another word from Japan, it means ‘constant improvement,’) it out to this point. Some might dislike me using the word as a verb, but in my (autistic, remember?) mind, that’s what I’ve been doing. In artwork, in my DMing, in my stream; granted, some days are better than others, last Thursday being one of the better ones, but I’m happy that I’m actually progressing forward, and look forward to more.

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards, dated 11 Feb 16

Video: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxcqDx_kjfBUllhMiIwpOk3w

Two points of interest here up ahead. With an additional trigger warning for today and tomorrow: Drug use.

In my version of the Forgotten Realms. In fact, I’m calling it for every realm I use or make: Cannabis is legal! Legal and readably used. It’s used in making rope, weaving textiles, making paper, producing medicine, and a cornucopia of other uses, on top of people smoking it and getting stoned. Deal. With. It.

The second points of interest concerned an early encounter for my Thursday group. You can tell that either I’m getting serious or you’ve finally pissed off Random Number Jesus when I start tossing dragons your way. It started with a Young Green Dragon, who was told by the Cult of the Dragon—about time they start returning to the scene—that attacking the party would be a good idea to increase his own hoard. The party tried to reason to him, more like hiring him of course, but then I had this dragon bring his bigger Adult Green Dragon brother. Who wasn’t putting up with the party’s shit.

Before the party managed to kill their first dragon—I was still holding back—I had the bigger dragon poison breath the whole party. (Yes, I still wanted my TPK) The breath was so big that it sent the younger dragon flying toward the Dessarin Valley.

Insert a “To Be Continued at Princes of the Apocalypse” sign here.

On to the Firehammer Hold. Who is now taken over completely by the Thayans. Undead lie everywhere, led by some demonic forces in the lower levels, and a DM that is tossing encounter after encounter at the vic…ahem…the party. During one encounter, however, something cool happened, and you can see it in the video now: Bram (a ranger) took out one wright (at least I remember it being a wright, correct me if I’m wrong) and then rolled a Nat 20 for the next attack. I said that Bram bounced that first arrow off the intended wright as it was falling and struck the one behind it; a bank shot. The thing I allow when the rolls are just right.

But will I allow them to leave the dungeon at the end of the session and take an extended rest? Heh heh heh.

Meanwhile:

Merdoc’s [Virtual Team] has left Waterdeep on to Phylund Lodge to reestablish a farm which was destroyed. During this time, they just managed to make it halfway across, doing some random encounters that wouldn’t give them too much pause, and camped for the night, far enough from the corruption to have a safe night.

 

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.

Dreams of the Red Wizards, 21 Jan 16

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, furry rabbit PC, blue-balled dwarves acting like German rapeugees, dice that wanted a TPK more than the DM does.

Especially that last part. I don’t know who might be reading this blog, but I need to tell the coders over at Roll20: I can understand your exuberance in wanting a TPK, but there’s something to be said for timing. I’d like things to go in their own time. There is a place where I want this TPK to go.

Not in a random encounter where a bunch of dwarves who have recreated New Years at Colonge, where one of the dwarves rolled four Nat 20s in a row, against our newly transformed rabbit girl cleric. A Nat 20 against Spiritual Guardians, a Nat 20 against Sanctuary and two Nat 20s on attacks with Advantage.

That’s a probability of 1 in Forty Fucking Thousand. (Correct me on the math here.)

On a robotic bunny dressed Playboy style with a reactor that generates healing magic.

I had to wave it off with the one who built her sending her a healing ray a la Team Fortress 2. Crazy Dice requires Crazy Responses.

And the Craziness continues well into their charge into the randomly generated Thunder Hammer’s Headquarters. (I let Pancheska have her way with the bunny while I did some frantic use of donjon.bin.sh . Have I reminded you all how much I love that site?)

You’d think that would be it for the Nat 20s for this session, and you’re right: What came next is a string of Nat 1s that guaranteed a session that both players and Dungeon Master would need a lot of Mad Dog 20-20 to kill the memory. Especially in one random encounter that resulted in a lot of broken strings, lost weapons, and characters just hiding in the corner in total embarrassment. The encounter ended up finished because the bad guys just left out of total mercy. Ever had an encounter that ended up so fucked over by Mr. Murphy that the best thing for everyone concerned to do is to just walk away and forget it happened? We had that here.

I wouldn’t even have mentioned it here outside of their progress inside the Thunder Hammer’s Headquarters and not say another word, but I do have a business progress report to tell here.

Thanks to the Thunder Hammer group, the farm is a total loss. Only about a dozen or so Super Healing Potions (Heal up to Max HP plus 1 THP when consumed) were made, but Marcion, the alchemist, was rescued safely.

The other two locations fared slightly better but still had some difficulty. The Mangus Scroll had an infestation of Stirges that needed to be exterminated, and the Fountain now has a rival guildhouse—headed by the Thunder Hammer Group no less—just down the street who used some nefarious underhanded bad press for your guildhouse. (At least they didn’t attack that place directly.)

Even with the profits, it’s clear that the reprisal against the group’s anti-dwarven racism proved bad for business: It suffered a 500 gp loss for this week to recover all the damage done.

The current account balance is 8150 gp

Pancheska could’ve done better in mitigating the damage, but she had to do double duty this week. Not only did she had to conduct business and do some PR damage control, but you also asked her to take inventory of the treasure you acquired to date, and have them appraised.

Truth be told, she really needed that quality time with Alexis, the cleric rabbit girl, and she made a request that, after all this is done, she keeps Alexis as her personal maid and secretary as payment for the strife you dwarf-hating maniacs put her through. She’s even designing a very sexy and elaborate (don’t worry, non mindbending) maid dress for her to be in. Besides, she likes Alexis, and promises to take very good care of the rabbit.

The treasure is catalogued as thus, and will be inserted into its own note for next week:

(Note: The following is what is easily sellable. Pancheska has taken some of the treasure to decorate the businesses and for her own personal affects. What can I say, she has her needs.)

5790 cp, 7472 sp, 93 ep, 8994 gp, 130 pp

7 gems of 10 gp each
44 gems of 40 GP each
1 gem of 50 gp each
3 urns of 150 each

Mundane Items: (Sellable for half selling price)

Chain Shirt x2
Chainmail Armor x2
Greatswords x3
Half plate Armor x3
Javelins x5
Leather Armor
Leather Shirt
Longbows x4
Longswords x3
Morning stars x17
Scimitars x2
Studded Leather

Trinkets:

50 gp each:
Ebony Rod
Ivory Symbol

Magical Items: GP value listed doesn’t necessary mean selling price.

+1 Longsword, 650 gp
Bracers of Defense, 2500 GP
Driftglobe, 250 gp
Firgurine of Wonderous Power — Sabertooth Cat (Becomes a Sabertooth Cat when activated) 25,000 GP
Halberd of Vengance, cursed, 0 gp
Ioun Stone of Awareness, 750 gp
Wand of Fireballs, 600 gp
Warlock Battle Axe, can be used as an implement, worth 250 gp

Spell Scrolls:

1 Blade Ward
1 Goodberry
1 Hellish Rebuke
1 Message
1 Produce Flame
1 Spare the Dying

Potions:

1 Potion of Climbing
4 Potions of Healing
1 Potion of Greater Healing
12 Potions of Super Healing (Max HP + 1 THP)

Cyphers: (One time use magic items)

A jagged platinum shard engraved with geometric patterns. When held and activated, the cypher conjures a bolt of lightning (range 100 feet, 2d6 lightning damage, Dex save half).

A jagged platinum shard smeared with crimson blood. When held and activated, the cypher grants you advantage on your next attack roll

Clairvoyant’s Stone: A polished shard of translucent black crystal. When held and activated, the cypher allows you to project your sight until the end of the session. You can project your point of view up to five feet in any direction, and through small openings such as a keyhole.

A jagged shard of emerald smeared with crimson blood. When held and activated, the cypher conjures an inn.

Card of Balance: A bloodstained ivory card, marked with a symbol of justice. When used, you must change to a different alignment. The card may also be used against another creature with a successful attack.

A broken copper rod engraved with strange glyphs. When thrown at a target, the cypher causes a small earthquake (knocked prone, Dex save negates).

A jagged shard of red glass smeared with black ichor. When held and activated, the cypher allows you to teleport a small object you can see to your hand.

A hazelwood shard smeared with crimson blood. When held and activated, the cypher allows you to jump up to 120 feet.

A slender shard of amethyst smeared with iridescent ichor. When impaled into flesh, the cypher dissolves and increases your speed by 10 feet until you take a short rest.

Clone Cypher: A jagged shard of diamond, inlaid with broken patterns of silver. When implanted into flesh, the cypher dissolves and emits a cloud of luminous smoke, which after a minute coalesces into a clone of you. Roll 1d10: 1-6 exact duplicate; 7 opposite gender, 8 four-year lifespan, 9 opposite alignment, 10 deformed monstrosity. The clone has no clothing or equipment.

A jagged platinum shard engraved with endless spirals. When held and activated, the cypher grants your weapon an additional 2d6 points of damage against giants until you take a short rest.

A mangled silver plate engraved with geometric patterns. When worn and activated, the cypher allows you to ignore difficult terrain until you take a long rest.

Cypher of the Aegis: A fragment of a heavy steel shield, inscribed with twisting snakes. When held and activated, the cypher petrifies a nearby creature as per the spell flesh to stone.

Miscellaneous Items:

Drake tooth
Necromantic Spell Books from the Black Dragon assassin.
Iron Gauntlets treated with an heat-retardant treatment.

Dreams of the Red Wizards: 14 Jan 16

Trigger Warning:  Original Content, Two groups hating on each other, Cultural Appropiation of Sonic the Hedgehog’s Saturday Morning Cartoon, and an honest to god official Furry charcter.

I have just begun to fuck with this team. And I made it clear that they know it. I did it in three directions:

Item: The DM’s Guild

dms guild logoAs I listed in the previous post, the new Dungeon Master’s Guild is already a valuable resource for Dungeon Masters who are using the Forgotten Realms, even if it’s my hacked version. They have stat blocks for creatures that fill in the missing spaces of the Monster Manual, and when you start making your own customized encounters using your party’s levels to calculate the difficulty of the encounters.

There’s especially a document that has different kinds of dwarves I can use, which has…possibilities

Item: The Thunder Hammer Group

Yes, I know it’s an cheezy name, and yes, they did call me on it. It doesn’t change the fact that I intentionally made this group to be a pain in their asses.

As in the real world, where people who act like dicks should expect reprisals from opposing group, this party now has an equal and opposite response to their anti-dwarven bigotry. However, this isn’t a group of Twitter Crybullies: The Thunder Hammer Group consists of Dwarves who are very capable, willing, and even anxious to counter violence against their race in kind, out of little more than racial survival. (Think of Israel; they have nukes, and the intention to take out the rest of the Middle East with them. Say what you will about what they think of Palestinians, do you really want to provoke these psychos?) And they have their sights locked on the Fountain Head group.

They even announced their intentions with a wanted poster rewarding anyone who brings down the party a peg or two. (You ask me, I doubt they have the million PP award for each head of the party.) That was followed by several encounters of DM’s Guild supplemented Dwarven Encounters, one of which included a scene where the group burned down the farm and salted over the earth! Only Marcion (the drow alchemist) survived with all the 15 or some Super Potions he could carry.

You can say that these two groups have their upmost attention.

But that’s not all:

Item: Axel, the Cleric Bunny!

Artwork by Shoze @ DA

Last session, Axel was knocked out of commission by one of my supped up traps. Most of this session dealt with repairing this Tiefling Warforged Warlock, which not only involved a temporary character for Axel, (I’ve invoked the rule that the XP the backup character received also applies to what Axel will become) but also the return of one of my earlier characters: Julian Rolkhun. For the uninitiated, he’s a former Red Wizard of Thay who rebelled against Necromancy and became a designer of Faerun’s Warforged, working in Luskan as part of the Arcane Brotherhood. Think of a, if not benevolent at least less maniacal, Doctor Robotnik. Julian got contacted with one of his interns there (the backup character for Axel), who instructed the team to pick up Axel’s soul gem (Normally the product of one of Julian’s few remaining Necromatic spells: Trap the Soul) so they can carry it to Luskan so that Julian can install it into a new body.

But when they did it, I delivered a triple whammy to poor Axel: One, his original body vanished in a mini version of Hunger of Hadar, and Cthulhu might not be too happy of losing his warlock. Two: His replacement body can only be in the form of the four classes as listed in the Basic Rules! He chose Cleric, and so Axel is now a warforged that can generate healing abilities, thanks to a reactor that can gather up stray Arcane energy and convert it to more divine frequencies. Don’t ask me how Julian does that, I don’t know and I’m the fucking Dungeon Master.

The third whammy happened when I had him installed: The Warforged body is female.

And for a moment, I had that body get a quirk that it gets aroused when it goes near a dwarf.

After about a moment of crying foul, I had Julian adjust her. Now she’s got the hots for dragonborn.

Also, the party went and delivered a fourth whammy: They used the rest of the Nolzur’s Marvelous Pigments to make that female warforged body a female warforged anthro rabbit body!

Oooooh, this really has possibilities.

I closed the session with a surged of zombies running amok in the City of Sales, with a couple Zombie Dwarves thrown in for good measure. Julian recognized the activity as Thayan, but what’s that Dwarf with a Thundering Hammer symbol with them?

In recap:

Axel is now a Level 5 Female Warforged Rabbitfolk Cleric (Life Domain). If you need help with the character design, I’ll help you out there, Axel.

You have ran out of Nolzur’s Marvelous Pigments, so remove them from the treasure or equipment list.

The Farm is destroyed, and will be factored in next week’s Business Recap.

You managed to rescue Marcion and gained 15 Super Potions of Healing (heal up to Max Health plus 1 Temp HP)

Thursday and Friday Roll20 campaigns, 7-8 Jan 16

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, stupid PCs, a DM that had enough of their shit, a paladin who is an embarrassment to Lathander and Dwarves.

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards, 7 Jan

I am required by law to state that they have requested that I go hard on them.

I went hard on them.

I never wanted a TPK so bad since Murder in Baldur’s Gate.

The session started in standard Drow-Hating form when the party cleared the main floor of Firehammer Hold of druegar, some of which went “Fuck this Shit with their Hunger of Hadars and their Firebolts at long range” and just bolted outside. Not caring that they’re drugars and the noonday sun doesn’t like them that much. (I had them turn to stone. Perhaps they spooked some high level wizard) Then they investigated the floor below, found the forge area in areas 26-28 on your maps, and thought “Hey, maybe this will make for another location we can take over.” I swear, they wanted to take over all of the Sword Coast. I had to put my foot down on the Floshin Estate.

It was after this part where I decided to give them hell. It was at Area 18, where yet another Dwarven Statue, this time with a Mind Flayer helmet, got the same defacing treatment as before. I’ve summoned Water Elementals to keep people from pissing in fountains. I made a call to Davey Jones to summon the Kraken when someone pissed on a statue of Umberlee. In this room, I turned this mentioned statue into a Golem. I turned to page 170 on the Monster Manual, and thought that Stone Golem would be good enough, but then my subconscious said, “Fuck this Shit.   Iron Golem.” An Iron Golem with a poison breath that it can spin around while exhaling, so that he gets everyone that’s trying to flank him. Heh, heh, heh. I managed to drop one of them to the negatives, although they still have plenty of potions to butt chug. Really, it’s an oral potion and they keep pouring it down the rectum. Maybe I should put in a scene where they lose part of their colon lining because of all this.

But that’s not the one that caused this campaign to take a turn: Remember the warforged tiefling warlock of Cthulhu who likes to tentacle rape everyone? He managed to look down into that dead end to investigate if it’s trapped. One Crit Fail check later, and this is what happened to him:

Thunder Blaster: DC 20 to find, DC 15 to disable; affects all targets within a 20 ft. cone, DC 17 save or take 10d10 thunder damage and become deafened for 1d4 rounds.

He took 81 points of thunder damage and had his ears destroyed. That guy was sent flying by the shockwave too, shattering his body and putting him into a coma.

I had a shit-eating grin behind the screen. Believe me on this.

The campaign had to get paused while the party had to go somewhere to repair their friend. I have to take them to the nearest city, Secomber, to do this.   Oh, I’m not through screwing around with them.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, 8 Jan

Spacehamzter Boo is my kind of troll. The kind that does shit just because he likes the response. He must like people groaning over the Roll20 table and have me laughing over my keyboard. (That’s why I sometimes call the Dungeon Master, “The Lunatic behind the Screen.”) How else would he be proselytizing almost everyone on the table, including fellow PCs and even the monsters attacking him. This includes an Earth Elemental who found itself on the receiving end of some Nat 1s.

By now, I have to go on record and stay that I’ve received a ‘word of knowledge’ from Lathander: David, you have my permission to fuck with this man.

Jesus, I told You not to cosplay, and remember the last time You tried cussing? That’s my role.

The party did a little bit of wandering around in this campaign, they ducked out to deal with a reprisal, but then snuck back in the dungeon because Boo didn’t think he found everything in this dungeon. I thought they’d be willing to go back to it later when they get all of their Elemental Weapons.

Which brings you to one of the wild cards in campaign creation: You cannot control what the Players will do. In fact, there’s always the possibility of your players doing something that you, as a DM, will never even think of.

In some cases, it’s intended.

I’ll be looking for some ways to steer the party back on track; either that or let them find their way to their TPK; something tells me that I’ll be getting my first one sometime early this year. Until then, I’ll give you #2 in my list of things Aaron is no longer allowed to do in the Army: His rank is “Specialist,” not “Necromancer.”