Category Archives: Dungeon Master’s Guild

D&D Recap: Week of 6-11 May 2016

As I mentioned previously, I will not be publishing the Encounters season of Curse of Strahd until the Friday party is at the same point of time.  Because spoilers.  I also had the unfortunate circumstance of being ill over the weekend, so the recap here has been a bit slow.  I also have an update on my Living Parnast and my SRD as well.  I would’ve done this sooner but I also got ill over the weekend.  Nothing that bed rest didn’t cure, but it did slow me down a couple days.

Item:  Curse of Strahd, Friday the 6th

URL: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxfJSJXBWhLkx-iBXg6_o70Y (Episode 1 in two parts.  Both Saved now that I know how Playlists work)

Here’s the reason why I’m not releasing the updates on Encounters:  My Friday group is starting the Curst of Strahd the way I did with the Encounters season, by setting the Death House in Baldur’s Gate.  Thanks to extensions from the DM’s Guild, however, it won’t end the same way.  Heh heh heh.

They did manage to give Rose and Thorn a proper burial, and gotten the Silvering Gun and Silvered Rapier.  Denzil thinks that they’re going to face a werewolf somewhere in this house, and I can’t tell him here what he’s facing.  (Hint:  He will be facing a werewolf.)

Yeah, I know, I have my favorite Munchkin in this table.  We all know that one power gamer in their group that he always thinks of playing the game system instead of the campaign.  And if you don’t know a person much like I’m talking about, you’re the one I’m talking about.  IMHO, it wasn’t his main attack being a grapple-dependent attack, but it was him being a vampire that causes some others to talk.  Again.  In fact, I had to wave that he can’t turn others into vampires.  Especially when we have Claire back in the team.

Fortunately, I have some very nasty surprises for Denzil.  I just hope the campaign doesn’t fall the way of last time.  I’d rather have Strahd deal with Denzil than the Lady of flipping Pain.

Item:  Lost Mine of Phandelver, 7 May

URL:  https://youtu.be/wBXxIvrlYHE

Unlike last session when things were pretty much ape-shit…well, it was my birthday weekend, what do ya expect?  We managed to get into uncharted waters for me.  I never made it to Cragmaw Castle before in Lost Mine.  I honestly expected that TPK when someone bellowed out an “HELLLLOOOOO!” In Thundertree and woke up that Green Dragon and brought all of his friends with them.

I mean, if you have to do that, you might as well do what Linka does:  Charge up to the first tango she sees, leap up spread eagle in the air with a “LOVE ME!!!!” and proceed to do her (by now) four attacks in an action.  Ah, sweet Linka.

Of course, that I did also managed to draw in all of the creatures in the abandoned castle, but at this time I didn’t mind because Linka’s AC is now in Munchkin levels at thirty fucking seven!  With a +3 Dagger and a Dagger that delivers chill touch to boot.  Folks, if you’re going to be a bit of a Power Gamer, this is how you do it.  You do it with a lot of flavor and an infective chuckle.  Oh, and a fluffy body that is guaranteed Beach Body Ready.  With the right attitude, confidence, and a friendly smile, any body type can be beach ready.  If you don’t have the former three, then yes, you’re going to need Protein World.

Of course, now she has a gnome who wants to use her as a mount.  And even gave her one of those baby vests that allows her to carry him!  Sheesh!

Item:  Homesteading Mechanic and the Foxfire SRD

Over the latter parts of the weekend, that’s when I got sick.  It’s nothing I don’t concern myself over too much unless it keeps me awake at night (you can guess what happened; I had to call off Sunday because I was too sleep deprived.) since I still have a pretty healthy immune system.  More often than not, just give me something over the counter and let me sleep it off; I’ll get better.

During this time, I managed to finish up a hurdle in my campaign design for my homemade campaign worlds:  The Homesteading Mechanic.  I wanted to have something similar to what Pathfinder’s Kingmaker series has converted into 5th Edition rules, especially for Living Parnast who uses it.  As of this post, I got it through the first proofread and will make the second draft with Parnast as a sample homestead and make that my first offering to the Dungeon Master’s Guild.  I’m releasing it for people to playtest the mechanic and give me feedback for what to add for a second version, which will include other sample homesteads (such as Phandalin, Red Larch, and Greenrest.)

As I planned and called earlier, this mechanic will be part of the Foxfire SRD once I compiled everything.  It’ll be used for all of my campaigns including Æthercoil.  Since it’s a mechanic and not anything to deal with flavor, It shouldn’t clash with the DM’s Guild’s Terms of Service.  (But there are alternatives if problems does show up.)

Item:  Out of the Abyss, Encounters, 11 May

Also while I was recovering, I managed to plan the rest of the Out of the Abyss campaign, playing things straight—and skipping over the random stuff—to get it out of the way so I can focus on their Curse of Strahd playthrough, which they flat out enjoy.  (Again, I can’t spoil things for Denzil.) I had Viseran get a vision to take the ritual to Aramycos, not just to stop the actions of two demon lords (Juiblex and Zuggtmoy) but to keep Menzoberanzan from turning from Syria to Hiroshima.  It was straight out encounters back to back, with some rests in-between (and an improntu level-up at the middle of the session) but when the dust settled over the Royal Rumble of Demon Lords, Demogorgon was raising his arms up in victory over what would be the fight of his life.

Just like John Cena when he won the title at the Elimination Chamber.  Remember the look on his face when Vince McMahon walked up and announced that Edge has cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, scheduling his Championship match at that instant?

That’s what both of Demogorgon faces had when he looked down and saw the party looking up at him.

Yes, the end was pretty much the same.

There’s still some other Demon Lords running about, and some will return sooner than you’d think, but Demogorgon left an Underdark battred, broken, and in need of some psychiatric help, but still more or less intact, and the surface world doesn’t have any more to fear than necessary.

Lessions learned in Out of the Abyss

  • Work on the Louis Carroll material some more.

The execution of the Alice in Wonderland scenes, especially with the Court, left people a bit off, but I think I can salvage that part for Æthercoil, where Alice in Wonderland-themed scenarios would be more at home in.

I think that’s why I don’t think that Out of the Abyss has much replayability, although parts of them can be reused as springboard material.  Chris Perkins mentioned a Wonderland theme and it threw my Autistic brain off.  Demon Lords and Disney-ish realms don’t mix very well.

  • Gromph Baenre will return in Living Parnast

In even the cannon Out of the Abyss the Drow wizard who unleashed all this madness blew his home town like a Syrian Migrant heading toward Germany before anyone even through of gunning after him.  If there’s any loose end I’m going to address in the Rage of Demons season in Living Parnast, it’s the party finding Gromph—in a very brain-addled state—in the Parnast region

  • Focus more on NPC interaction than Combat.

This one’s more from Curse of Strahd than Out of the Abyss, but there was an opportunity for some interaction at first that I missed.  Especially at the start where everyone was in the Drow Slave den.  However, I wasn’t as aware of a story at that time as I have with Curse of Strahd, so I didn’t do much with the NPCs at the time.  That’s something I’ll work on in future campaigns.

 

Encounters Recap: 17 Feb 16

Before I started the session, I got a talk with the people running the Heroes Hideout store, and they told me about the Launch Campaign for Curse of Strahd, Death House, which will be launched in March. I intend to pause ‘Out of the Abyss’ for the ‘Death House’ campaign, since it’s a much shorter adventure, and then go back to ‘Out of the Abyss’ until I reach the end of that campaign, and then move on to ‘Curse of Strahd.’

After I told everyone about that, I moved on to today’s session.

The party breezed through the Purple Worm Hatchery and got their needed Egg. They found a way out a bit quicker than I thought, so I had the Formorian Guardian show up before they get outside. During the encounter, I had the Formorian summon the Purple Worm, although in hindsight, I should’ve summoned two of them, because the party nearly one-rounded that kaiju (In D&D, a Kaiju is any creature that is bigger than what a 4-inch token can fill.) In the heat of the moment, I just threw in the giant spiders to make the encounter last.

Note to self: Get a bigger grid to play in. I think I got one donated to me from the players. A folded playmat originally made for Pathfinder

Note #2: Get a new plexiglass cover for that folded playmat.

When the smoke is cleared I found a place for Hanne Hallen to be all big and blustery, but the party quickly found her as the frightened little waif who suddenly found herself all alone in the Underdark, weighing her options between returning to Menzoberanzan by herself or fleeing to the surface (to a drow, both options suck balls.) But the party had a drow in them, who was all but willing to care for the waif for the time being.

This will prove promising for the future campaigns, but at the end of the session, I was able to address one of my annoying gaps missing in 5th Edition.

dms guild logoFifth Edition does have Magic Items, but it doesn’t have a good market ability for them, nor do they have any instructions in how to make them outside of the general instructions listed in the Downtime Section of the rules. Not unlike Pathfinder, where they have recipes on how to build them, such as supplies, what kind of spells, asking prices for the magic items, and so on.

Something that people writing for the DM’s Guild should consider, no?

I’ve already found a good source for someone that was needed at this time: A Traveling Vendor, in this case, a half-orc named Andinas who happened to be crossing the party’s path with goods for sell and trade. The DM’s Guild has a recent document named “Spoils and Rewards Volume 1” by Chas Williams, which has some instructions on how to make an Item Shop, or in this case, a Merchant Cart. I still had to do some Random Number Generations and still have to guestimate asking prices (and make a little spreadsheet for some quick napkin math) but I was able to get a good merchant going. Had to. Someone was asking for one to show up somewhere, and there wasn’t much of a town around.

Note to self #3: Always have an item shop NPC on hand, just for situations like this.

Meanwhile, in Living Parnast, I managed to get the first draft of the module LP01-01 (Liberation from the Dragon Queen) written down. There’s a needed pause for me to find the funds to print out the document so I can proofread it. (That Paypal Tip Jar’s there for a reason folks) I’m already thinking up the follow-up module (LP01-02 Rebuilding Parnast) where I include a Kingmaker-style village building system on top of the “Honobono D&D 5E” mechanics that will eventually become part of Æthercoil.

Yes, it’s a Japanese word: ‘Honobono’ means ‘Heartwarming’ and there’s a new genre of RPG with a Honobono theme. Think of an RPG made by Studio Ghibli, and you pretty much have games like Ryuutama, Mitchtim, The Whispering Road, and many other RPGs that are more suitable for children to play. I’ll be gearing both Living Parnast and Æthercoil to, although having D&D 5E as the basic system, to include an “Honobono Mode” that will be more family and children friendly. Of course, it’s optional, so parties who just want more standard fare with more encounters can have that, although I have to make clear that Living Parnast won’t be focusing on purely dungeon crawling and combat. You’re working with a NPC who just became a Lord and is tasked with a small kingdom to build into a strong ally, a Lord who would’ve been Tony Stark if he wasn’t a chronic stutterer. During the campaign, the team and their patron will be assisting each other, and keeping this synergy is important for the campaign’s progression; it’ll be the main hook of this whole series.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress, as well as a campaign guide for the series (It’s going to be needed.)

Week of 7-13 Feb 16, part 1

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, use of a random generator, chainmail body suits with tabbards, materialistic girls.

Item: Out of the Abyss, 10 Feb 16

Most of the major interaction stuff is out of the way, back to dungeon crawling!

The party has made it to the Wormwrithings to get some ingredients needed for Vizeran’s ritual to, at the very least, weaken the Demon Lords enough for the party to defeat them. (Good luck, right?) The Wormrithings was a mish much of Purple Worm tunnels that works like a hub to several other dungeons. So I had one made.

You’ve probably seen me to this before. I go to donjon to randomly generate a dungeon, and then fire up DrawPlus to simplify the generated map into a series of nodes and pathways. In some maps I remake I add doors and traps, but in here, I just have open round tunnels between everything. In the middle of this map, I put in the Troglodyte Lair, but they managed to evade it, so far. They made it to a point where I placed an arrow that leads to the Worm Nursery, which they’ll progress to next week.

randommap

dms guild logoItem: Living Parnast

The first module is about halfway written, although I’ll be working on illustrations and other fluff to add to it before I release it in the DM’s Guild. (Even though I’ll set it to ‘pay what you want,’ I’ll have it look like I earned some money.) I think I’d like to introduce you another NPC.

Some of my D&D buddies IRL remember Darcy Amberguil. She was a cleric in a 1st Edition game that proved very useful in healing and had dreams of having her own abby. I wanted to transfer her to my 5th Edition world, and while she might be older in my ‘standard’ gameplay world, she’s changed in Living Parnast. And I’m talking about more than having a human for Justin’s significant other (No Pandaren in Wizard’s cannon Forgotten Realms, which is what I’m placing this in.)

Remember Mai Valentine from Yugioh Duelist Kingdom? (That would be Season 1 in America, Season 2 for Japan? Do NOT ask me why or I’ll fsking Mind Crush you!) When she was introduced she was a duelist who used perfume as a cheating tactic and duels because she wants to go shopping with the winnings she’ll get.

Enter Living Parnast’s Darcy Amberguil.

DarcyShe’ll admit that her goal as an adventurer is the finer things in live. A pretty dress, some good wine, an occasional bubble bath. Maybe she’ll find that perfect gold chain or ear-rings. While her faith in Lathander is keeping her from being too materialistic, it remains part of her desire.

In fact, she’ll be purely materialistic if she hadn’t met Justin when he was a child.

When they found Justin in the start of his Living Parnast story, he was a lost and frightened boy at around age 10. He never talked about what brought him to the banks of the Delimbiyr River, but judging by his not speaking at all for the next two tendays it was assumed that it was pretty rough. (In fact, it’s the source of his stutter which plagues him to this day.) Darcy found him huddling in a bed and decided to curl up beside him. A typical anime trope of a child showing another child (git your mind outta the gutter!!) that he’s not going to be alone in the world, but that’s what happened.

Darcy and Justin became childhood friends ever since; soulmates, in fact; and some would claim that they’d be married one day. While Darcy still has the like for stuff, and relishes the thought of being Lady Darcy Ambergail, her feelings for Justin keeps her from leeching off of him. (Read: There’s a bit of a NAWALT in her, fellas.) She prefers to adventure, and do priestly duties, for coin. As long as she can spend some ‘me’ time in a warm bubble bath with rose pedals and candles and a bottle of elven wine, all is perfect and right in her world.

Oh, and if she could show off Justin’s latest masterpiece in a booth babe like get-up, all the better.

Finally, there’s the obvious. To some people these days, a full body suit of chain mail with a knight’s tabard is as pornographic as the Heavy Metal magazine! Sure, it’s two years old, but read this article and feel your ability to give a fuck short circuit! I mean, you’d expect this kind of shit with Episode VI.

Princes of the Apocalypse and Living Parnast

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse recap; 22 Jan 16

The party, even with the preaching paladin of Lathander, managed to rescue the Wizard that was researching the Stone to Flesh spell from being sacrificed to the Prince of Evil Earth, for daring to unleash this particular spell to Faerun:

Stone to Flesh

4th Level Transmutation

Casting Time: 1 (Standard) Action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood)
Duration: Instantaneous

You cast this spell on a person who has been petrified. You remove the petrified condition.

The formerly petrified being will have no recollection of the time he or she was petrified; it would be the first living moments immediately after petrification. Any damage done to the creature while petrified becomes physical deformities to his or her original state.

The party returns back to Red Larch with the wizard safe, where the party decided to test my staying power. The paladin wants a shrine to Lathander, a rogue wants a basilisk tooth (Yes, there were a basilisk involved.) and turn it into an injectable dagger. Of course, he wanted it to be a poison dagger. This is where I tell them that Drow Sleeping Poison is readily available in some cities, where some law enforcement uses it as a non-lethal ordinance (much like a Tazer, only you get to have a good nap instead) and yet a third wanted to help someone set up a Herbology store. All three paths lead out of the Dessarin Valley. And on a roadtrip to Waterdeep.

I definitely have my work cut out for me this week, and there’s also one more item to work with:

Item: Living Parnast

dms guild logoAfter some good night’s sleep, I decided on a title that I can publish in the DM’s Guild. I didn’t have to change too much: Wizards of the Coast owns the Forgotten Realms, but the Steam Engine is public domain. But I thought up a project that meshes better with the cannon Realms, where I put in the characters that I’m comfortable putting it under the DM’s Guild’s guidelines.

I give you Living Parnast. A series of campaigns that work like Expeditions, but it takes place in a familiar and out-of-the-way location that is introduced in Princes of the Apocalypse with a more casual gameplay. It takes the party under a new Lord, Justin Mercrial, as he liberates the village of Parnast from the Cult of the Dragon, and then rebuilds the village through the seasons in order (Tyranny of Dragons, Elemental Evil, Rage of Demons, Curse of Strahd, and so on.) Along the way, the village builds and expands, the party members become part of the village lifestyle and changes it to their liking, and events in both the Sword Coast and Moonsea have their effects in this Wild Wild West like environment.

With Living Parnast, I have the working path to Æthercoil that I wanted to have with the DM’s Guild. Living Parnast is where I set up the initial parts—and get the right book design—to the beta version of Æthercoil (The Forgotten Realms version). Like I said earlier, Æthercoil Forgotten Realms will not be put in either DM’s Guild or DriveThruRPG, but will be in a fanwork format. After I have the four documents made, I can then convert them into the official Æthercoil campaign guide, which will be published in DriveThruRPG.

At least that’s the plan for now. I’ll keep you posted on the progress here on my blog, and this will be where I’ll be working on my artwork in the near future.

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)

Out of the Abyss Recap: 13 Jan 16

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, Heroic Fucking Beholders, A Faerunian version of the Loc-Nar

When we last left our heroes, they were in Gauntlgrym to receive news of the Underdark by none other than Bruenor Battlehammer. Things have not been as well as you expect. The Madness has been spreading, and it has already affected much of the surface world. He tells you that in the underdark location of Gravenhallow, there is an answer for the Demon Lords who are now running amuck below everyone in Faerun. To get to there without much drama, you are told to seek one Ghazrim Duloc at Mantol-Derith. To help assist you, as well as their own ends, the Zhentarium opened a path directly to the underdark village.

You hear a group of people draw their weapons when they hear footsteps approach from the secret entrance, but sheathe them when they heard the call from one of the Zhent guides who accompanied them. The guide takes you directly to an ambiable man in a sultan-like outfit similar to those from Amn. “Oh, you must be the people Darva told me about, welcome welcome, make yourself comfortable. I am Ghazrim and I think you have word for me.”

After some introductions he shows off his ring. “This will be what you seek, friends. This ring will take you through the shortest path to Gravenhollow. I’d be more than willing to give it to you for the greater good, but there are more immediate concerns. Nothing that would concern you, though; and it shouldn’t take too long.” He offers food and drink for the party. “Don’t worry, it’s not poisoned. Nobody gave me a reason to kill you, we Zhents do have some standards. Unlike a certain demon that has oppressed this city.”

“The demon’s name is Fraz-Urb’luu, and he has encased himself into a black jewel. Anyone who touches it is driven mad, and it has already driven the village into chaos. I’ve already given orders for all of my men to destroy that gem on sight, and one of us has an eyestalk ready for the occasion. Isn’t that right, Lorthuun?”

You hear a deep heavy sigh, and a single eyeball peeps in a window. The single central eye of a beholder who has seen better days. “Yes, I do have my disintegration ray ready for the occasion. At least I still have that with me.” You can see that three of his stalks were sliced off by someone.

“Poor guy lost a fight with a behir, but he still has some stalks left. The Druegar and Deep Gnomes are at each other’s throats over the thing, and I’m just about ready to talk to the Drow to form an alliance against a common foe. That thrice-damned gem.”

“In case you don’t know,” the beholder says, “They’re here.”

Lorthuun turns around and floats up to reveal a bunch of drow which are, thankfully for you, are dressed more typical for drow. Ghazrim stood up, gathers up some Zhents, and opens the door to greet the delegation.

“Puntual as usual, Sirak, I’m sure Lolth will–”

You hear an audible thunk, and a cry of anguish from the beholder. It is followed by absolute chaos in angry voices and drawn weapons. Before you can even react, Ghazrim stumbles back in with a quiver in his chest.

“The gem’s with her,” Ghazrim managed to say with the collapsed lung. “I know it!”

Ghazrim points to one of the drow, a female with a crossbow and wild staring eyes, eyeballing the beholder with sheer hatred from every pore of her being. She’s still in firing range, behind a quartet of Drow.

dms guild logoThat’s what I started with when I set up the big battle. At this moment, I’d like to introduce to you the Dungeon Master’s Guild. It’s my new best friend from Wizard of the Coast, who this week released not just the 5th Edition SRD and OGL, but also opened up the whole Forgotten Realms IP for public modification. It didn’t take me minutes for me to see this as a valuable supplement to the Monster Manual, which was sorely needed for these campaigns now that I need different stat blocks for certain bad guys. Such as Dwarves for tomorrow, Drow here, and upcoming even more demons.

Also, the DM’s Guild is an excellent place for me to start publishing a series of documents where I show my hacks of my own Campaign World, hacks that will ultimately become the official Æthercoil document. I’ll start with the Inventions book, and then have some additional anthro races, and move on to some unique monsters—such as dinosaurs, which will replace dinosaurs in the original campaign world for Æthercoil. But that’s further up ahead. Back to Out of the Abyss:

For those who’ve been following along this module, you’ll know that, in Mantol-Derith, Fraz-Urb’luu put some of his life force in a black gem so that he’ll have a safe connection to the Material Plane. This resulted in what some can call the Loc-Nar, or at least a working resemblance. Ivan and Leonard would be proud. By the time the party got to it, it’s in the possession of a drow who has, of course, gone nuts, and thought that killing off that beholder will get her back into the good graces of the Demon Queen of Spiders…or something like that.

At the end of this battle, a Zhent thug scores a hit on the crazed drow, the impact spins her around, and prompts her to flee, but not before losing that black gem.

You hear a groverly voice, “Wait for me, My Love!” As a statue perched above the Zhent headquarters comes to life, spread his wings, and soars after her.

But everyone was looking right at that evil black glowing gem.

With an unearthly scream, the beholder fired one red beam toward the jewel. It strikes true and shatters into a black mist.

The shatter produces a shockwave that knocks down everyone to the ground. There was a mental otherworldly, “Oh ThAnK GoD I’M FrEe!!” as you feel an immense evil presence fly over everyone and then disappear.

When you manage to find your bearings, you can see a blackened scar on the ground where that gem was. And a dead beholder.

I doubt that the party has ever seen a Fucking Beholder do a heroic sacrifice before. Only on my table, I guess.

The party gets the gem that will take them directly to the Library of Gravenhollow. I’ve looked at that chapter and, to my surprise, it doesn’t really need that much preparation. I can easily follow along with the document, create a little flowchart to help me out, and just ad lib. Maybe I should make a couple random encounters to fill up time. But then again, they’re going to stay in Mantol-Derith to get some more treasure. Maybe just a little bit of preparation.