Category Archives: #WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

This is long overdue, isn’t it?

At least I had a good excuse for this lapse:  My grandmother passed away.

I’m both sad and happy for her.  She had a full live, was ill in her last days, and she had a loving husband to go to in the next life.  She had a kind and gentle soul too; I’m less sad about having her gone, but happy that I knew her.

Needless to say that I canceled all of my sessions for this upcoming weekend for obvious reasons.  But that also means that I can catch up.

Curse of Strahd

The online table didn’t get much progress, although they did get through the Church in Barovia:  Louis (Denzil’s character, who I had to nerf) had enough empathy for vampires to have Doru join the party, but then again, I did have Ireena be an expert in blood donation with a canister of donated blood waiting for occasions like this.

The Encounters table, however, had more fun.  They gotten past the Old Bonegrinder chapter already, on the way to the Wizard of Wines.  But that’s not the wild part.

On the way to the first of the three artifacts from the Fortune Reading…

Stat Block:  http://imgur.com/RSWZrUg

Ever since I’ve seen the stat block related for this crazy song, I wanted to have Actual Cannibal Shia Labeouf pop up somewhere in my Curse of Strahd campaign as an elite mook, someone who keeps reappearing.  It didn’t prove much hilarious in the Friday stream, but oooh, it was epic on Wednesdays.  When he appeared, everyone roared in laugher.  Especially our new Munckin in the group, Sal (Who’s been playing a Chaotic Evil Dragonborn these last two weeks) who even offered him a fresh set of clothes (I had Shia in a loincloth) in the midst of being Ganked on.

At least with Strahd, he’ll just troll your ass, especially when you try to out-evil him.  That same Sal wanted to burn the Windmill down (and eventually did) with the two children inside.  Strahd just walked up behind him and whispered in his ear, “Do you really want to do that?”

Strahd makes Chaotic Apeshit characters into zombies in his sleep.

Shia will just be a oneshot in the Friday Table, but I’ve got another creature in store who will constantly annoy the players, where like Encounters!Shia, will level up with each encounter.

Sunday:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Recap:  http://steamcommunity.com/groups/tod5e/discussions/0/412449508294176046/

This session will prove problematic for Justin, especially with the planned off week for me.  In the May 29th session, the party met up with what remained of Claire’s character after Claire quitted with his Drama Storm.  The poor cleric has fallen into the clutches of the Cult of the Dragon and was brutally brainwashed and tortured to adopt a bunch of kobolds as her children.  A very telling lesson not to Rage Quit in this fashion too often.

But that’s not the part that caused Justin problems.  It was Ildar that has the boy Engineer worried:  After the end of the encounter, Ildar became possessed by some vengeful spirit who demanded Claire’s head on a spit.  Part of the rest of the party tried to restrain the annoying Paladin, including a dwarf that took a hit from Ildar, but it was to no avail.  In the end, Ildar explained—or rather mentally justified—his actions claiming that Claire’s character was too far gone into darkness and was beyond redemption.

What is in Justin’s Mind:  He doesn’t think that Ildar with his Avenging Spirit is any better than what happened to Claire.  This will no doubt cause a rift in an already rocky relationship.  If Justin ever goes off like that again, Justin will attack him.  No Questions.

Before that, though, Justin will have to go to the mountaintop to figure out what to do, the other Dawnbringers will have to know what is happening, and especially what Justin feels about this. I wanted him to go to the temple to seek counsel, (And woe to Ildar if he ever interferes.  Don’t piss off the nice ones) but events of this week ruled it out.

By the way, you might have noticed a change in class for Justin:

DriveThruRPG Update

By now I’ve submitted my first playtest offering, the Homestead Mechanic, to DriveThruRPG, for approval.  However, during this time, I’ve already gotten through the first draft of my second offering, and it concerns Justin’s Class.

While I’ve seen a lot of Artificer classes out there, I wanted to have something that is easier to use and follow along, using the three core rulebooks (Players Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide) as a foundation and allow the players to branch out from there.  Also, this is a class I want to use for Æthercoil, which will have a different take on Artificer.

Hence the Engineer class, a homemade class which is a variant of the Wizard, instead of an Archetype like Wizards of the Coast’s version, and doesn’t involve much material outside of the core books.  It’s a version of Wizard who focuses on building items, infusing existing material with magic, have many different projects to choose from for their own Archetypes, and most of all be easy to pick up and use unlike some other homemade Artificer classes.

The Engineer class is already in its second draft, and I’ll also change Justin’s character to use this new class for both the Sunday table and in Living Parnast.  I’ll give a link for it once it’s in DriveThruRPG as a presentable document.

DM Player Gameplay recap, weekend of 9-10 Apr

Item:  Lost Mine of Phandelver; Playing as Linka; Sat 9 Apr 16

Sometimes I wish that Mr. Murphy was a real person so I can kill him.  I could just see my overweight ass sneak up behind him and pull a Richard Marcinko.  Shanky shanky Mcstabstab.

I knew this day will go to shit when the lawn mower broke just as I was about to mow my parent’s lawn.  But imagine my consternation when the time came for that night’s session and my main computer won’t connect to the Internet.  It’s Wireless connector (I needed to use Wireless over at my parents) had a Code 101 (My way of saying that something’s not working because of something I have no clue over, which eventually fixes itself for no good reason. It’s taken from Disney Castmember lingo for something that’s out of order) and it took most of that night, and the session, to decide to be working again.

So I didn’t have a recording of Saturday’s session, which is sad, because DM Denzil, the rules lawyer, found out something I learned long ago in my DMing career:  The most epic of TPKs you’ll ever have will end up being thwarted.

At least the thwart wasn’t in record time.

But was by thwarted by the resident pervert in the group.

Clair Valentine, as you’ve seen in the previous week, is the bard who has befriended countless animals using Animal Handling in the forests toward Thundertree.  By the time the party arrived, she has amasses a small menagerie of a pack of wolves and an owlbear.

God as my witness, I couldn’t make this up.  I was afraid that she would charm Linka, and what she’ll do with the panda.  This is the same player who plays a lesbian bard who wants to get it on with every tiefling she sees—including Vanifer!!—and thought that attuning to an orb of dragonkind that beefs up performance but will turn you into an evil elder dragon if you every perform is a good idea.

That would be the Bonehead PC move of the week if it weren’t for what happened last session:  Thundertree is a sticking point in my attempts in Lost Mine of Phandelver because of that Green Dragon.  It created a TPK last time I was in it.  Imagine my facepalm when one of the party members walked up to Thundertree and yelled out, at top lung, “Is there anybody in here!?”

Cue every creature in the abandoned village.  Twig Blight, [My style of] Zombie, and Green Fucking Elder Dragon.  All making a beeline toward the party, and making me wish that I could invoke PVP mode but Linka would never think of that.  At least there was a tavern with a forgotten stash of brew for her to drink and, as I normally do, ride through the storm.

Of course that won’t work when the dragon comes crashing from above.

That’s when Denzil found out about something that Wolves have called ‘Pack Tactics,’ where the wolves can charge over and attack with advantage, and their collective bites can bring down even a dragon the size of a large house!  With the dragon prone, the party makes short work of the dragon.  In spite of poison breath taking down a couple PCs including Linka.  Putting Denzil into a familiar emotion for me; that you make an encounter that is sure to TPK only to have the party surprise you in actually succeeding.

Don’t feel bad, Denzil.  I’ve been at this game or three years, and my TPK count is at 1.

The party is then able to play Hot Gates with the riff raff—did you forget about the three dozen twig blights and zombies while all this is going on—and funnel them through the staircase from outside the tavern basement and pick them off King Leonidas style.  Sparta would be proud.

And an all-too-human chill flowed over DM Denzil’s soul.  The sheer amount of XP earned brought everyone up to Level 5 (Only because I invoked my DM’s award where—as decided on in this table—everyone gets the bonus XP when I cash one in.) Also, Linka got ahold of an Apparatus of Kawalish which she’ll use for traveling, on top of a metric boatload of gold for any magic items she might need.  (I definitely need to get her a +1 Quarterstaff or Silvered Brass Knuckles.

I’ll decide over the week.

Warning:  Political Content Ahead

I had to console Spacehamzter over the weekend.  As you know, I rarely get political here, instead taking it to Google Plus for my bitching.  However, this spilled onto sacred grounds.

I’m glad to say that I’ve got Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition I off of a Steam Sale.  Especially after what they did to a DLC I will never buy, Siege of Dragonspear.  I want to put this out there on the record and state what most of us who are up in arms about this dungheap add-on are all about:

We are not bitching because of a Trans character.  We who play and DM Dungeons and Dragons have met at least one Trans NPC during our combined campaigns.  We don’t give a fuck about Trans NPCs, most of us wouldn’t care whatever or not a NPC is trans, a fellow player can make a Trans PC and we won’t give a rat king’s collective ass about said PC as long as he’s* good in a fight.  (Note: I default to Cis Male Pronouns as a writing convention.  Look at the warning on the left if this triggers you, and get out more.)

What we are bitching about is the gross disregard of what is known in some parts as “Character Integrity.”  In the Siege of Dragonspear, they changed three important characters to fit their feminist agenda and to rip at Gamergate.

One of the characters changed was Minsc.  The Beloved Ranger.

That, to many D&D players, is the equivalent of high blasphemy. You can draw a picture of Mohammad while shitting on a Koran, wrapped in bacon and wearing a carved out Pig’s head, and you will be more redeemable than making a much-adored character talking smack about “Ethics in [games] Journalism,” something that ­does not fucking exist in Faerun!!

This is the same problem Marvel got when they made Jane Foster into Thorina. A female Thor we didn’t mind. We complained about a female replacement for Thor. There were perfectly vacated Superheroes they can do a Rule 63 on without anyone raising a stink. But they pushed Thorina up against everyone’s faces and said “You’re a misogynist pig if you don’t like it.”

Minsc is intended to be too addled-minded to be interested in politics by design. (That’s a topic best left for Boo, IMHO) Safana is intended to be a tease by design. The whole Forgotten Realms does not have the same environment that our world has or–thank God–the world that Beamdog lives in, by design. Changing that is what got Beamdog in as much hot water, and none other. We don’t care if there’s a trans NPC in Siege of Dragonspear. We do care about Minsc being co-opted by SJW prissants! If that is too much for you to wrap your head around, then I can’t believe that you actually coded that game, because you do not understand the words that are coming out of my mouth.  That, and I have no intention of spending my money for your so-called ‘Game,’ in fact, I wouldn’t even torrent Siege of Dragonspear because it’s not even worth the electrons used in the illegal act.

You are not worth my money, Beamdog.  If this means we’ll never have a Baldur’s Gate III, so bet it.  I have RPG Maker MV, I can get by.

Now then, back to our original programming.

Item:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen; Playing as Justin; 10 Apr 16

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqnA–9Rgwk

Ever heard of the saying, “When opening a door where you know someone’s waiting on the other side, lob in a grenade first to ensure friendly reception?”

That is essentially the first part of this session.  When the party came up to the mill house in Greenrest, they discovered that there is a small group of raiders waiting for them inside.  After a lengthy discussion that took up way too much time, they decided to do a rather modern ‘Breach and Clear’ technique.  I had Justin make up a potion version of the Flash Bang; something I had to add to my character material on the fly.  Justin would toss it in where, when it breaks, creates a blinding light for 30’ and produces a deafening bang, everyone in the room must make a CON Spell Save DC or be stunned for one minute.

Justin would throw in that flash bang potion a la Gauntlet 2 into that mill and have the others take the feebs down.

Fine time to roll a Nat 1, if you ask me.

Fuck You, Murphy.

Fortunately, the other players can pick up the slack, and I got Justin moved to another vantage point so he can snipe.  All in all, I’m developing the Æthercoil Engineer class with Justin here.

The other half of the session, where we dealt with rescuing the clerics of Chantea from a siege-in-progress chapel, moved faster.  That’s where Justin found something that will provide some well-needed character development.  He got a good chunk of magical ore that, when forged into a weapon, will provide an additional offense against Evil-aligned beings—including Dragon Cultists.  Whatever this weapon becomes is up in the air.

I would have it be a gun, but I don’t know if the DM would permit it.

D&D report, 2-3 Apr 16

This week was pretty much empty, and I kinda knew this would happen once I woke up on Wendesday.

I can be very punctual on Sessions, even if I need a stomach full of Kickstart to get me going, with one exception, weather.  It takes some very strong weather to get me to cancel something, and they come in two kinds, electrical and icy storms.  I can trudge through rain and snow pretty well, but if it’s raining ice or spitting out lightning bolts every five seconds causing power outages, I call things off.

There was a major storm that delivered three to four power outages on Wednesday, thank the Gods for surge suppressors.  But it was enough for me to move the last session of Death House til today (6 Apr 15)

The two DM sessions were also a wash, and I would have to say that the Thursday session is finished.  The collection of players were reduced to below four, which is my minimum for a decent campaign, and since it was during the second part of Dreams of the Red Wizards, it wouldn’t be proper to add new players because of all the backstory they have to go through first.  So my Thursday table is canceled until further notice.  I’m currently looking for a replacement campaign and I might use this opportunity to playtest Living Parnast with it.

The two PC tables

Saturday:  Lost Mine of Phandelver, playing as Linka
Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgzYvb07m3s

Sunday:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen, playing as Justin
Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg7rbON5K2w

In both videos, even though I was pretty much into the game, you can tell that I was being naughty in the latter events.  Such as my tendency to troll the table.  Inspired by the dreaded Elk Incident, I tried to play some video (and one soundboard) to hear over the Teamspeak.   You’ll probably hear it better on the video because I record my voice through a webcam.  (It might be the cause of the sometimes shoddy quality of the sound, I’ll rectify that once I get the funds.)

I have to admit that I find myself more engaged when I’m in the DM’s chair.  In that position I need to fully engage myself in the gameplay and don’t have the need to distract myself when it’s ‘not my turn.’  As a PC, I do, especially in encounters where you track initiative.  (Sometimes I even space out, something I always find embarrassing.)  Later on when the session goes into the third or fourth hour, I even tend to start multitasking when things that needed to be done pop up which can’t be ignored.

I hope to improve on that in time, especially when I’m now saving these tables for prosperity’s sake.  Maybe I should have a side view with a sketchboard so I can draw some sketches on the scenes found on the table.  Or something that’s more connected.

Either that of find out how to Teamspeak Troll better.  Heh heh heh.

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.

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.

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 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

 

Dreams of the Red Wizards recap; 15 OCT 15

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, Tentacles, me using word to improve on my horrible stuttering. Pencheska being Pencheska, Having my patience with Skype running it’s end.

Note:  Judging by the graphic on the top, you can probably guess that this entry might be graphic.  Just saying.

This session begins with the party finishing up Phylund Lodge and heading out to their next objective. Oh, and the sphere they found, I turned it into an actual Pokeball:

Capture Sphere (Wondrous Item, Requires Attunement)

Make a Thrown Improv Weapon attack against DC. On a hit, the sphere attempts to capture the target. Target must make a DC 15 STR/DEX check to avoid capture. Upon Capture, the target has three changes to make a DC 15 check using any attribute to escape, or else be trapped there until released. The target doesn’t need to breathe, eat, drink, or sleep while inside the Sphere.

For an Action, the person attuned to it can shrink the ball, and whoever inside it to a five-inch-wide sphere, with a weight at five pounds. Another Action will return it to its original large beach ball size.

However, there are no other features that make it resemble a Pokeball, no matter what the party wishes it. Also, it was a vehicle for a new player to drop in.

On the way out, they ran into a couple orcs and a wereboar show up; an encounter I made just to mess with the party, and to give one of the warlocks a chance to try out a spell they’re itching to try out.

And immediately regretted it. Maybe.

Do you want to know what happens inside the pitch lack, whispering, and slurping field of a Hunger of Hadar spell? Go Google “Tentacle Porn.”

That’s what happened to that poor Wereboar. And one of the orcs got the squeeze so hard that his head popped off his shoulders.

It seems that Cthulhu doesn’t fuck around when he’s pissed off.

After that, they had a choice of what to do next. They decided to go to Firehammer Hold and along the way, check out the Floshin estate because they heard rumors of something nefarious going on there. But rather than verify things from Sir Darfin Floshin over at Daggerford, which was another option, they decided to just go to the estate which was closer to them than any other location.

That’s when I had Natyssa, appearing in her succubus form, to bring them up to speed. (Especially when I needed her to get in touch with them super quick because some wanted to burn the estate to the ground.) Natyssa warned the party not to do that, as well as telling them what she heard from her own contacts. This is where I started stuttering major in the stream, so I’m restating her line in text form here:

“I heard from Sir Darfin Floshin that one of her relatives, one Shalendre Floshin, is in contact with the Red Wizards.” Natyssa said. “I also have heard that she has been possessed by a demon named Baazka, which I hope that some of you found out about him by now.” She puts up a coy smile. “I have my own ways in getting these juicy tidbits. From what I hear, she’s helping the Red Wizards tamper with some of the wards in this estate, probably to have Baazka leave his place in the Abyss and enter this world via this location. Of course, you should stop them, I’ve seen how maddening demons can get, and it’ll be bad for us. It’ll be equally bad if something bad happens to the estate itself, so, please, don’t do anything to the building more than necessary.”

When one of the party asked Natyssa to help clean up after themselves, she nodded with a smile. “I think I have some who can help out on that.” Of course, she’s referring to some maidens that she enthralled into being her personal maids with black miniskirts, aprons, feather dusters and carte blanch to explore themselves with their “Mistress Pencheska,” but they can also clean.

What do you expect?   She might not be under any demand to corrupt souls for Asmodius, but she’s still a succubus. That Trigger Warning line on the top of all of my recaps are there for a fucking reason!

And although I didn’t count on it happening, the end of the session kinda went to crap again. It wasn’t the router this time, the new one I got now is aces. This time it’s Skype. Every time I try to get people together, Skype gets pissy. There’s always one user that can’t join in on any conversation unless he invites us all into their own chat room, one by one. And then there’s the possibility of someone always getting kicked out and the whole process has to start over again! So I’m going to switch to another chat program to do my online sessions. I’m thinking Teamspeak with a public server, soon to go private once I get some funding.

Out of the Abyss Update: 30 Sep 15

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, plans going awry, people needing to be nerfed, DM pulling shit out of his @$$, One of those sessions.

Eventually, during your time with D&D, be you PC or DM, where you have a session that could’ve gone better. Plans go awry, an encounter that should’ve lasted two hours went by in less than 5 minutes, the party ends going off the rails, or worse, ran out of rail to run with. Everyone on the table ends up pulling stuff out of their respective colons, and the result might, emphasis on the word might turn up okay, but more often than not the progress isn’t something to write home about, and it often ends up early.

This was one of those sessions. I had the ritual battle at Sloobludop where they see Demogorgon for the first time. Even had a battle map and a figure of Shrek (??) for where the demon rises up. I was hoping it would last at least an hour for my usual party of 6 to 8.

Unfortunately for me, only the four older regulars showed up, with the kids having a busy night with school work. I thought I gave the Prayer Beads magic item that was a bit too OP at this time a needed nerf by having the recharges off until they reached the surface, and when Demogorgon made his entrance, he would make the Deva that was summoned through the Prayer Beads to go psychotic and start attacking the party.

I didn’t nerf it enough. When Demogorgon appeared, immediately after the insanity check, the team used Wind Walk and bailed.

That happened within the first ten minutes.

Well, that threw out all of my plans all to shit. Time to start improvising.

I was scrambling as much as the party was to get outta dodge. I managed to at the least get the party back on track, heading toward Blingdenstone, which will take them through The Darklake. I used most of the time to playtest this Chase Scene Mechanic that uses my Event Deck. I managed to fill up the rest of the hour or so using the playing cards and little dice. (In fact, I stocked up on smaller d6s just for the occasion.) I had this for the chase with the Drow Party. I ended up using it against Demogorgon instead as the party rows their way out of Sloobludop, which will no doubt be destroyed by the demon.

Chris Perkins is going to hate me for this one.

And now I need to revise my traveling mechanic. I’ll already ruled them having enough light and food. They just need to not do anything stupid. I also have to make the link between the two cities remaining, Mantol-Derith and Blingdenstone, and then move up to the surface. I’ve already got some ideas in the works, but that’s going to be telling for now.

Encounters recap 5 Aug 15

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, Secret pathways, going to dungeons I have NOT prepared in advance, DM flying on the seat of his ass, and “Is that a Node?”

You have to excuse me this weekend if things get a bit slow; I’ve got a bit of a chest cold. Shouldn’t keep me from typing that much, should it?

The Scematic Map of the Temple of the Elements.
The Scematic Map of the Temple of the Elements.

Something I should have counted on occurred in this session: As you see in this map, there’s a passage that takes the party from the Howling Hatred floor (Map A if you’re following along with the book) to the Fane of the Eye (Map F) and eventually to the Howling Caves (Map N). However, there is a room in the Howling Hatred Floor in the Step Pyramid, Room A18, that contains a pit that will take you all the way down past the Fane of the Eye and into the Howling Caves.

Guess which path the party took.

Guess which floor I didn’t plan in advance.

God Damn You, Mr. Murphy!

This took out most of what I’ve written down thus far and proceeded to do Plan Z of any GM’s book. Dungeon Master out of the crack of my ass, and I let everybody know that I’m officially winging it. Fortunately for everyone involved, I managed to get it together until they were just one room away from the Elemental Node room in the Howling Caves.

Now I’m going to have to go for the TP fucking K, because no DM likes it when the players start going off the script. I’ll even have it start with a very hard decision with the people they’ve rescued. Dare I push them into a multiple boss fight without a safety net?

This is going to be worse than my PvP mode, believe me.