Category Archives: Red Larch

D&D recap, Week of 20-24 Apr 16

Item:  Curse of Strahd, Encounters, Apr 20

This week in the staggered seasons saw the begin of Curse of Strahd proper.  I picked up the party from Baldur’s Gate—after the Death House chapter relieved the city from a particular eyesore in the Lower City—and took them due east on the Chionthar River, to the village of Iriaebor, which is nearest to the area in the Realms that Ravenloft took over.  I have a map of it here.  The area in the Sunset Mountains I’ve circled is the area where the Mists have overtaken.

Iriaebor

People were obviously concerned about this mysterious and dark mist that is threatening to envelop their surrounding areas, and some weren’t disappointed when werewolves beyond the usual strife came running amuck in there.  (I use the “Werewolves in the Mist” adventure hook to get the players in the game.)  Those bitten found out that the normal magic to break this curse didn’t work as well—meaning without complications in the form of Attribute Loss—as it should.  It’s obvious that Ravenloft Werewolves are of a higher caliber, so to speak.  The party found that out the hard way when one of their party members—John’s character—got the disease.  Even a Paladin’s Lay on Hands only managed to make the initial save with Advantage, which John failed.  Normal cure spells will only cure at a cost of Attribute loss.  In order to have a cure that isn’t worse than the disease, you need one of two items:  A lot of belladonna plants, or the blood of the werewolf that did the biting.  Both of which is in the Misted regions where Ravenloft has overtaken the area, which fortunately they are now stuck in.

The remainder of the session uses the Event Deck-Travel Track combination as the party proceeded to Barovia Village.  They managed to get to the corpse with a letter which I modified to denote what I’m changing in the adventure:

Hail to thee of might and valor!

I, the Burgomaster of Brovia, send honor to thee.  I have heard that you are coming, and I call to you to ask for assistance.

My beloved, Jeremy Arlying, has been afflicted by an evil to deadly that even the good people of our village, can protect him!  He languishes from the wound, and I would like him saved from this malady.

There is much wealth in this community.  I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.

Come to us in our time of need.  All that I have shall be thine!

….er, within reason, that is.  I do have standards after all.

Ireena Kolyana, Burgomaster

Yes.  Ireena is the Burgomaster.  And that’s the first of the changes.  You might get the chance to see more in the coming months.

Item:  Princes of the Apocalypse, Friday, 22 Apr

This is my first instance of “Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies,” where I just plain had enough of the player’s crap on the table.  It happens, I assure you on this.  At least I have a more creative way to create a RFED scenario.  Most people would just sic Tiamat on the party.  At first, I have the Dark Powers mechanic that deals with the offending character, and prompts the offending player to roll up a new players.

Claire, the resident Trans player in my group, had a better scenario:  The Lady of Pain.

25-Lady_of_PainThe Lady of Pain runs an extraplanar realm known as Sigil. While she can clock in as a deity, she doesn’t play the games of the other deities.  She just sits by herself in her little world, and only drop in front of someone to fuck him or her up.  At the very least, she’d just plop the offender in some pocket universes consisting of wall to wall maze for the rest of your life.  If you’re unlucky, however, and you’ve really pissed her off…my brain couldn’t register what she could do. All I can say is that Pinhead would witness what she’d do to someone and go, “Damn, that’s fucked up.”

When the Lady of Pain appeared in my table, she transported everyone in a flash of light (and the words, “And this is when they knew…they fucked up.”  Yes, she does talk in my world) into a one on two battle to the death.  It took me a lot of doing for me to make this a fair fight.  I took out Denzil’s scythe and gave Claire a bonus 10 levels (and had to take away Power Word Kill) and even had to manipulate the field to deal with the two players who just aren’t getting along.

In the end, after the battle, where Denzil’s character got killed.  The players decided that the campaign as it stands can’t be finished, especially with the way the players are now at each other’s throats, so I called the campaign a loss. My first RFED.

Lessons Learned in this campaign:

  • Power Words Kill and Stun are banned! Power Word Heal is still permitted.
  • Any weapon that deals on average more than 50 Hit Points will NOT BE PERMITTED! I’m not saying that a weapon or spell can deal more than 100 damage on a Crit or even on good dice rolls.  But no weapon, even one that’s ‘by the book’ should one-round anybody with a Challenge Rating higher than 5.
    • That’s right, Denzil. Leave some action for the other players please, and let the poor clerics work for a living, plzthx.
  • Power Players can be an annoyance to some. Not to me, because I’d like to give them a challenge and find a way to fight back against them.  I can feel my brain fold thinking of ways to outsmart Denzil, I loved the challenge that much.  Only thing is, Denzil’s playing style just doesn’t mesh well with some players, which is the case here.  Also, I don’t think that Living Parnast or Æthercoil would work well with Power Players, because they’re mot story and character driven.  Denzil works best with a classic dungeon grind, something that is similar to a “Easy Setting” for my creative abilities.  I can still make them.  I just don’t see them as my best work.
  • I went a bit too far with the world-building here, with the additional dungeons and what not. When I reset Princes of the Apocalypse, since it’s becoming my favorite module so far, I’ll be removing the elemental weapons and leaving most of the main regions as they are.
    • I might just add in a stray dungeon or two in the case it’s needed
    • The Black Dragon remains as I written her; having her in her own mansion tended to by the stray humanoids she rescued is a good idea.
    • I’ll keep Meriele in charge of Red Larch and the petrified ‘Believers’ that fell out of her favor. There are some other smaller changes I’ll keep in town.
  • That means replacing the Hall of the Moving Stones dungeon with something else. I’ll put in the threat of the Cult of Black Earth to turn Meriele into a statue, and the quest to get Stone to Flesh back in the spellbooks.

Item:  Lost Mine of Phandelver, Saturday, 23 Apr

Video Link:  https://youtu.be/g0tJCXyX_IE

I expected Denzil to get back at me because of what I did the previous night, and Denzil didn’t disappoint.

Granted, he wanted to get to Claire, but Clair decided to bail this campaign too and decided to DM a Pokemon-themed campaign which I’ll link you to ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdCJCitnfCI ).  So he needed an alternate victim to vent his spleen and, thanks to the roll of the dice, it fell on…me.

Or rather poor Linka, my pandaren.  She got one rounded by the first encounter where Denzil just kept added creature by creature by even more hordes of creatures.  You really have to see the video to believe what happens.

Fortunately, I was spared further pain when Linka returned from her visit from the hereafter, having her gut filled on enough divine brew to get her ideas on her own local batch.  One belch from her and everyone around her got blitzed! One of the drunks ended up irritating a local druid, and he ended up transgendered into a cuddle partner for the panda, and then as he returned, he found himself permanently stuck in a pink frilly dress!  I’d tell you what happened next but I have a limit on when things get ‘Aristrocratic’ (I refer to the joke, folks) so if you aren’t so easily triggered go watch the video, folks.

What I can say here is that Denzil ran into a familiar problem with me when it comes to DMing.  You can never prepare enough.  Even if you think you have enough material to take you through a good three hour session, expect to see everything you planned to use be expended in two.  Or less.  Take it from me, the one who thought that Hoard of the Dragon Queen’s hatchery stage would last more than one session.  (Sure, some of the players were following along with the publication on the fucking table but I digress.) You’re probably going to be ad libbing for the final hour or so, maybe more if you’re unlucky.  That’s why I said that worldbuilding is as good as preparing what’s in the module should be planned in equal parts, that having some extra businesses, shops, NPCs, baddies, and the occasional dungeon would be a good idea.

If all goes well, you might be seeing me stream some of this planning this week

Item:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Sunday, 24 Apr

By this time, I’ve decided on the next Kaizen improvement for my streaming:  The use of Playlists on Youtube to export the videos in now that I can upload entire sessions in one video; provided that Infiniscene isn’t being Beta, of course.  I’ll be doing that for my next two campaigns listed below, and so on forth in all of my adventures.  This will really be a help when Infiniscene does act Beta and the session’s recording ends up broken into separate files.

It’ll also help with listing the videos in these recaps.

In this session, the party has arrived to the Raider’s Camp.  While sneaking into the place and setting into their own campfire was relatively easy when the party has available cloaks, it was all but impossible for the party to do anything else, including rescuing Leosin Erlanthar from the Cult before he’s executed at dawn.  Any thought up plan would result in the whole camp being alerted and every Tom Dick and Harriet, all 500 of them at least, dogpiling over the whole party.  Eventually at the end, the Dwarf—in typical Dwarven fashion—just said, “<Fuck it, I be rescuin’ this monk, and probably sacrificin’ meself in the process!>”

The rest of the party, including Boo who’s been trolling me with pictures of Anita Sarkesian’s misshapen pie hole all throughout the session, (Maybe it’s her ugly face that never smiles that caused Infiniscene to break, the cow) decided on a relatively saner route: By now the table has approved of Justin’s trained Mimic to have the similar abilities as Diskworld’s Luggage.  Right down to the wooden teeth and tongue.  It also included a pocket dimension for those devoured by the Luggage can reside in with relative safety and discretion.  It has breathable air that is circulated thanks to the Luggage opening its mouth regularly. Justin prompted the Luggage to go under a wagon with other treasure while everything goes south around it.

Something tells me I should fear the worst with Justin’s companion.

Item:  New Adventures

With the RFED incident, I no longer have any running campaigns at the moment.  Which means that I’m planning on replacing the campaigns for my Thursday and Friday tables.  On Thursday, I’m planning the beta play of “Living Parnast,” my homemade campaign set in the aftermath of Hoard of the Dragon Queen and progresses through the following publications.  Along the way, the party will rebuild the village, adding buildings and running the administration with the hope of making a home base into a major city in the future of the Foxfire Forgotten Realms.  These will include mechanics that I’ve designed that will go into Æthercoil.

With the Beta Launch of Æthercoil, I’ll also be including a supplemental System Resource Document that will cover my homeruled campaigns, which will cover some of the backgrounds of both Living Parnast and Æthercoil, the various mechanics I designed, and character options which I customized, created, and in some cases flat out built like Frankenstein’s Monster. (I’m referring to the Engineer class) I’ll have it available in this site once I have everything together, and you are invited to provide me feedback on what option, feature, or mechanic might need a further tweak.

My plans for this week will include streaming planning sessions where I build the tables, and work on the SRD.  I hope to include streaming some sessions on Photoshop as well as I work on some art.  Finally.

Faerun Telegraph System Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Post Earache Getting Back On the Ball Combined D&D Recap

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, catching up from procrastination, Otits Externa, Video Game Streaming

Just as I was wrapping up from the last Roll20 session (20 Aug) my left ear began to ache. It sometimes happens when I get my yearly chest cold caused by the weather; the congestion in my sinuses goes up the Eustachian tube and into my ears. At first, I thought it wasn’t anything serious, just a case of congestion. I’ll just get some decongestants for a couple days and I’ll be okay, right?

Turns out that this earache was worse than I thought.  I knew it was bad when the pain kept me up all night and the swelling was to the point of deafness. So I had to go to the clinic to get it checked out. End up getting some antibiotics and stronger pain medication. Yep, it was that bad.

I was laid up for about a week with this earache out of the pain itself. So much so that, when I get back up to speed, I realized that I forgot the recaps. I’ll take care of them now:

Dreams of the Red Wizards – Roll20

In the 20 Aug session, the crew took care of most of the second half of the part of Undermountain I had ready. They took a round path around where the Elvish assassin known as the Black Dragon was working in. Eventually they came to his war room where he was planning his major uprising with his band of liches and undead, only to be captured by the party using the capture crystal they detached from the bone throne room from earlier (the room with the throne that turned people into various undead.)

What happened to the Black Dragon isn’t revealed in this campaign, but I did allude to what happened to the captured baddie in one of my PbP campaigns. (I really need to make an recap of them, so you won’t say that I’m just talking in head-cannon and that this blog does not have telepathic capabilities. :p )

Due to the earache cutting into my planning, I told the players that I’m skipping a week to recover so I can have time to plan, which I will in time for the next session at 3 Sep. There are two more rooms to deal with, some transitional work where a farm is built and a portal is set up between Daggerford and Waterdeep, and the story goes back to the Scourge of the Red Wizards proper.

Bonus Dungeon – Encounters

I’m still working with customized side quests for my encounters table, and it’ll be a linking adventure between Princes of the Apocalypse and Out of the Abyss. The party finished the beefed up Tomb of Moving Stones where the party kept in touch with Meriele so that she can find out all she needed to know about the Believers. While she didn’t get to find the final fate of her mentor right away—Yather Indaglol, as listed in Volo’s Guide to the North—but she did get enough dirt to link the Believers with a breakaway group of Black Earth cultists known as the Bringers of Woe. (“Oh, Great. Just what we need, Cultists with pretentions!” –Meriele) The party pushed ahead to the actual room with the stones where they meet up with Larrakh, who I made into a Stonemelder for improved stats. I also beefed up the Bringers of Woe so that they have a double attack with a hand crossbow with a feat so that disadvantage won’t be applied to Close Quarters Combat.

It all worked according to script, while the party were messing around with a second batch of Bringers of Woe, Larrakh made his escape from a secret door in the Chamber…straight into a Flesh to Stone spell from Meriele. Constable Harburk got a list of the major players from Minthra Mhandyvver and had most of them detained, just so that they would get a baleful death glare from Meriele that told them that the marble statue she made is where they might be headed.

I’ll fast forward a winter to a new Red Larch, where both Out of the Abyss and Princes of the Apocalypse: Second Strike will begin. The sinkhole is patched up and a marble fountain is set up in the crossroads, containing the petrified Larrakh who is now eternally pissing out water and holding bird baths in his heads. (Was he aware of Meriele stripping his stone body nude, having tubes drilled into his body, and his face adjusted to wear a goofy grin, only to be put up to display for perpetually? Only the late Marlos Urnrayle will ever know. Well, there’s also Princess Celestra who does know if her statues were aware of being statues, thanks to John De Lancie. I’m rambling here.) The Chamber of Moving Stones is converted into a map of the Temple of the Elements with curios of the Elemental Cults on display, designed as a staging area for future teams of adventurers. Businesses are being rebuilt—you can become an NPC in this Red Larch with a donation to my blog; it’ll be greatly appreciated—and life is just about to go back to normal under the velvet hand of Headmistress Meriele.

The time is just about perfect for the Elemental Cults to finish regrouping and resuming their quest to bring Elemental Chaos to the Material realm. The invasions resumed while the weather started to grow wild again. Only this time, Red Larch is ready, and there’s already a full Guildhouse of adventurers ready, waiting, and anxious to storm the Temple of the Elements and take down the Cults of Elemental Evil for good.

Meanwhile, there were reports of demonic activity at an ancient Dwarven temple. Given Dwarves’ tendencies not to request help from other races, nobody in Red Larch knew about it until an injured Dwarf with ties to Mithral Hall arrived to Red Larch for healing, and hopefully assistance from he reincarnated Heroes of the Hall. He might not get Drizzt, Cattie-Brie, and Bruneor, but the characters made by my Encounters table will be up to the challenge. I’ll be using “Vale of Dancing Waters” as a lead-in adventure stringing the two modules together giving me time to get the Out of the Abyss book and plan starting that.

Darkest Dungeon and my Madness Mechanic

Which leads me to a game that I’ve been streaming as of late. One of my favorite Twitch streamers is Adam from England, who goes by the name of “Call of Cthulu” and is quite friendly once you get past his Lovecraftian fan content. He got me interested in this Rogue-like RPG that’s been popular earlier this year. Not only does the game caters to Conservative play (a necessity for a game that has permadeath) but it also has a Madness Mechanic, which is something that interests me since Out of the Abyss has one as well. I was thinking that this game will inspire me to improve Wizard’s rather shaky mechanic.

Wizards would probably require an attribute save for their insanity, but I think I designed something better. I call it the Stress Quotient. You add your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores (not modifiers) together, and the player treats it as mental hit points. SQ can take damage and be healed much like Normal Hit Points. (Potions can’t heal SQ, but Hit Dice and Heal spells can. Heal spells cannot cure both SQ and HP.) Whenever a sanity check is required, I’ll have the player roll 1d20+current SQ. If the result is 40 or above, they saved, otherwise the madness takes place, and I have an expanded list of insanities.

There’s another reason why I got this game, and started to stream it. I wanted to get a regular streaming session going—success depends on what day I’m having and how my ears are feeling at the time—and doing it with both planning sessions and gameplay will be the way to go. I started with Darkest Dungeon so I can get a regular habit going, and then I’ll kick things into gear once Sword Coast Legends is released, where I’ll be heavy into that. It is with SCL, I wager, that I’ll get a lot more viewers in, since most viewers would want to visit streams that are popular, and any game that has just been released counts. There are more popular games out there than Darkest Dungeon and/or Dungeons & Dragons, which is why my sessions don’t get enough viewers.

But with SCL, I hope that changes.