Category Archives: Curse of Strahd

Weekly Update: Week of 19-25 Jun 16

Item:  Curse of Strahd developments

“I am not staring into the Abyss [SPOILER]; I Am The Abyss!” – Strahd von Zarcovish

The main reason getting back into my grove is prep work in my two Curse of Strahd tables, especially the Friday Table.  I had to take my time in dealing with Castle Ravenloft itself, because I changed a lot of the stuff in there:  Moved some brides around, altered some rooms, and added in “The Herd,” the group of thirty something maidens in uniform that Strahd feeds on so he won’t be a complete monster in the gameplay.

Had to.  I revealed the main villain of the group:  Tatyanna.  In my version of Curse of Strahd, the backstory is different:  An enemy of Strahd killed Sergi, kidnapped Tatyanna, and prompted Strahd to become a vampire.  For a yet unknown reason, Tatyanna returns as a Vampire to exact revenge on her brother in law. (A mini spoiler:  She’s convinced that Strahd is the cause of her husband’s death.) Now those who read the cannon version of Ravenloft know that Tatyanna would never willingly be turned.  Someone did this to her.  Who?  Stay Tuned.

Item:  The PC tables.

By now you realized that I’ve dropped streaming the Sunday table on technical issues.  An AMD A8 with an on-board GPU can only do so much, even with Infiniscene.  Somehow I knew that Tabletop Simulator was pushing it.

Which is sad because of my character there, Justin (using the new Engineer Class I made,) is in a quandary:  One of his teammates, Ildar (Yes, the infamous full of hot air preaching paladin of Lathander) is being possessed by this avenging spirit, who takes over his body and compels him to kill bad guys even after they’ve been subdued.  In my book, that’s a warning flag of Nietzschian territories: “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” Justin feats that this will happen to Ildar, and I roleplay it with palpable dread:  I see Justin putting a crossbow bolt to Ildar’s head because of this, and he almost did just that while Ildar’s player, Spacehampzter Boo, was away.

That’s my thoughts on people who are Lawful Good, or even just Lawful Stupid who tends to be a Knight Templar.  I see the 9-part Alignment Table with wraparound borders, and it’s possible for a LG character to take things too far and end up in the opposite side, to either Lawful Evil or—gods help us—Chaotic Evil.

This is something my version of Strahd knows too well.  Because he has seen firsthand how this dynamic happens, and caused what should’ve been good men to do stuff that will disgust even him. And nothing has this abyss staring back at them than the Knight Templar characters.  Sunday Table!Justin might be a bit young to learn that you should stop Knight Templars from becoming the evil they’re fighting, even if kinslaying is required to do it.  (Remember, folks, Jamie Lannister did a good thing by killing the Mad King, even if he did get cursed because of it.)  I just hope he doesn’t have to pull the trigger himself.

As for the Saturday Table, we’re just about at the end of the Lost Mine Campaign, and Densil wanted oh so much to get a TPK a couple weeks back.  He stocked his Wave Echo Cave with upgraded zombies inspired from the video game Dying Light.  He put about four dozen of these transforming light-phobic assholes in the dungeon and we managed to get just about all of them gunning for us.

Until Claire saved our bacon by wrecking Denzil’s plans.  Her character was a 10th Level Cleric who has her Divine Intervention feature active, and rolled exactly on the number she needed to get her wish granted.  The looming TPK (with the poor death of my dear Drunken Panda) turned into a curb stomp.

Denzil now knows how I feel.  I never could resist schadenfreude.  Especially when I have an even worse inspiration for my own zombies in Curse of Strahd.

By now everyone’s now at 14th level, which might call for something of a Stable rule.  It’s a feature swimming through my head where you have all of your PCs together and they pool all the gold, magic items, and what have you.  New PCs enter this stable and can pick a magic item that another character acquired to give the new Level 1 a bit more survivability.  I still need to work on that mechanic, but I’ll have a place for that:

Item:  Æthercoil Magazine

The success I got from my documents form DriveThruRPG, however meager that it is, is encouraging me to continue contributing to that site.  However, I have a bunch of smaller items that won’t fill a PDF large enough for me to warrant a submission, even if I add illustrations.  Also, I needed to keep progress toward my ultimate goal of making the Æthercoil Campaign Book.

Hence my starting a periodical for DriveThruRPG, Æthercoil Magazine.  This will house all of my smaller additions, such as Character Races, Archetypes, feats and spells, background, and others.  It’ll also be where I start writing on the Æthercoil setting with background essays, sample adventures, and even stories set in that world.  I’m working on the first one now with both text and document design.

I’m even planning on buying a really good Photoshop plugin for the occasion.  A friend of mine in DeviantART suggested Lazy Nezumi Pro, a plugin that helps people do line art on the computer.  I downloaded the trial to work on an illustration for this magazine and I have to say, this is going to be $35 well spent.

One of my biggest problems I have with my artwork is the inking.  I tend to ink in a Ligne Claire style, using a uniform line width.  Problem is, I normally use felt pens because they’re more natural.  I also have a heavy hand, which results in rather suboptimal inking.  I wanted to ink using the computer, but as you might expect, getting the inked lines right on a computer can be a pain.

Enter Lazy Nezumi Pro, which makes drawing smooth lines considerably easier, it even has a restraint system that does straight lines, circles, perspective work, and several others that is an improvement on the Quick Shapes feature on Draw Plus.  (It can also work with Serif Draw Plus with its Hooking function which I had to experiment with.  Bonus.) I’m definitely going to be using this plugin; it’ll make my artwork better.

Tubthumping

I get knocked downBut I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down” — Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

That lyric tends to be the story of my life at times, such as this week.  I got so much stuff come my way this week back at my apartment that I didn’t get the chance to plan any of my sessions, so I had to call them off.  Especially the Friday one for good reason:  The Friday group is about to enter Castle Ravenloft, and I have to prepare the entire location with all of my changes involved.  This is something I’d want to get right and couldn’t do that this week.  I can do it the next one.

At least the people playing are understanding.  Disappointed, but understanding.  They know I’ll be back this coming week.

As the graphic says: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight.

Item:  DriveThruRPG Update

Pay What You Want seems to be the best way to go for me as far as support.  As I said every now and then, nothing encourages me than someone handing me a cup of coffee, a Kickstart, or any other small item.  Sure, I’d love to pay a bill or two from this, but if I just get enough for a Starbucks run, it’s a big confidence boost for me.  It’s why I have a dust-encrusted tip jar on this blog in the first place.  Hero’s Hideout also gives me a little credit every week I DM, which I can buy something form the cooler.  Much appreciated.

And now I’m getting some love from DriveThruRPG.  Over $10 US so far.  It’s not much, but it’s better than what I got form DeviantART, and I can never thank those who donated enough.

By now you know of the Homesteading Mechanic I’m using for one of my homemade mechanics.  Last week, I also released a couple classes into my DriveThruRPG account as well:  My take on the Artificer Class called the Engineer (a stand-alone variant of the Wizard Class that focuses on magic items, borrowing some features from other existing Artificier classes and compiling it into an easy to understand option) and the Jester, a hybrid Rogue-Bard class for the class clown in the party.  Both have already been well received, and will have some revisions and additions in the future.

The success I’ve been getting will keep me making stuff for DriveThruRPG.  I’m already making plans for a periodical publication for the site. I have several player options that are too small for one item, as well as some essays on my campaign creation in my campaigns, both official and homemade.  I might even toss in some short story, artwork, and maybe even have some comic pages thrown in there.  If I can, I’ll have this catch-all publication put into DriveThruRPG, but if there’s any other developments I’ll let you know.

There’s also plans for a Dungeon Master’s Guild publication as well:  By far my most favorite campaign is Curse of Strahd, especially with the response I get form my tweaks for it.  As the campaign progresses, I’ll be making a document listing the changes for this alternate storyline for the campaign.  I’ll fill you in on the progress as I go.

Item:  My first product review:

Limitless Encounters: Haunted Locals

As you would guess, I’m looking for ways to fluff up my Curse of Strahd campaigns, and have been diving into the DM’s Guild for ways to throw all these curves to my players.  While looking for such inspiration, I was invited by Limitless Adventures to review one of their publications.  I chose Haunted Locales for my interest.

The document, as common throughout their site contains about ten premade encounters for various locations, like a cemetery, crypt, haunted house, or some other related place.  All of them can get plugged into your Curse of Strahd campaign with little to no set-up, although someone like me can further tweak them to make them just right.  The bigger feature here is the ‘Further Adventure’ hooks that take the encounter here and offer suggestions on any future scenes.  Example:  There was a ghost who couldn’t make his last will and testament in time.  The PC can aid the ghost in making this last will, after which the ghost can move on to the afterlife.  He leaves behind the written will and…did the ghost will anything to the party?

I can pan through this document and only think of possibilities for my campaigns.  That is something I’m looking for in something I can use.

The only thing I can take away from is the format of the Monster Stats.  I understand using simple formatted text to create stat blocks that are printer friendly, but it could use some improvements, such as larger fonts for subheaders {“Features”, “Actions”} the inclusion of horizontal lines to break up the sections, and returning the attributes with the rest of the text.  I can see how the writers try to make better use of space by moving the attributes to a corner of the block, but the location didn’t make for a better readable block.  For me, formatting it similar to a Monster Manual block is better on the eyes.

I use Statblock5E for my Monster Stats, which produces a very readable copy to export into my documents.  It’s easy on the printer, in spite being in color, and if you know some basic CSS you can easily make a monochrome version.  (I might do that sometime if nobody else beats me to it.)  If I need to scrape the barrel, I have a form in Microsoft Word for my character sheets which I can use for Monster Stat Date if need be.

Of course, that’s just my two bits, but if Limitless Encounters is looking for places to improve, I would suggest improving their stat blocks, everything else is a rich source of inspiration for me to use.

Back from mourning.

I found out something very important about myself as an autistic.  I don’t mourn like normal.  I don’t cry when I mourn, especially for someone I loved, like my Grandmother (who passed away last week.) I was happier that I knew this woman than sad to see her gone.  She and her Husband are the reason why I can say that I, in spite of the school system that fucked me up when I’m in school and then put a wedge between me and my parents afterward, had a decent childhood.  She had a big house in the suburbs that was quiet, peaceful, and had room for lots of adventures.  Had plenty of places to play around in, a lot of trips to various locations—including three trips to Disney World—and had Sunday dinner every week after church.  All kids should’ve had one of these grandparents to keep them from being too dark.

I do, however, sleep when I mourn.  All fucking day.  For three days straight, maybe more.  I sleep like the dead; these vary same grandparents came to me in a dream and said, “Go back, you need to go to the restroom and eat something!”  Oy!  Sometimes Autism is a blessing and a curse, am I right?  Not to mention the source of some pretty decent comedy.

But now that she’s gone to be with Grampa, let’s get back to the business, shall we.

As I’ve reported earlier, the Homesteading Mechanic has been released at DriveThruRPG.  I even had what I call success out of it:  I got enough earnings for a cup of coffee, thank you very much to those who believed that I deserve money for this.  While it does have some room for improvement and it can be complex to some, I did manage to get it readable, and even got a reference to Pathfinder’s Kingdom Building Ruleset to further develop the mechanic.

The next two offerings are in the works as I’m typing this, which start on my various class and race options that will eventually become part of Æthercoil.  I have my answer to the Artificer class, the Engineer, past its second draft and is about to be illustrated when something came up that made me pull an all-nighter.

I’ve been working with additional material for my Curse of Strahd campaigns, one of which I’ll be reviewing this weekend.  One of them included a crazy individual that Strahd considers his Court Jester.  Now I have worked with many Jester PCs in my time with 5E, and really enjoyed the Jester background in the playtest.  I wanted to make a Jester class that I felt fits my style and after (1) looking at various options of Rogue and Bard, and (2) have the necessity to make this crazy individual into an actual Jester, I had the need to make a hybrid class combining Bard and Rogue and flavored it up with a colorful motley.  The Jester class is in its second draft and will be illustrated like the Engineer.  Both classes will be legal for my campaigns and eventually be a part of Æthercoil.

Which eventually leads into some of my goals.  I wanted to have some playtest material that shows what I’m going for in my campaign world, maybe a series of smaller publications where I put the basics behind Æthercoil and my thoughts behind making them, which will lead up to the first Campaign Setting Book.  Eventually, I hope to produce a magazine like series in between larger campaign books.  Meanwhile, I might have an opportunity for a Dungeon Master’s Guild project as well:  So far my take on Curse of Strahd has been so well perceived thus far that I might make a document describing my twist on this remade classic and create an add-on document to the module.  It’ll change major parts of the campaign, but for those who want something different from the classic, I’m sure people will like what I had in store in my One Note.  (Provided that I get the party to take it to the end, of course.)

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.

Updates for 22 May 16

Item:  Exit DM’s Guild; Enter DriveThruRPG

The biggest hurdle in my content creation is where to legally put it.  At first I thought having my beta stuff be in the DM’s Guild, while the original content, such as Æthercoil, be in another OneBookShelf site, like DriveThruRPG.  After talking with some people in charge of Wizards of the Coast, that’s impossible under the current guidelines:  Material in the DM’s Guild can’t be in a later DriveThruRPG document, and I doubt that modules set in the Forgotten Realms, or any other WotC-branded realm, won’t fit anywhere other than the DM’s Guild.

Hence my quandary, which I need to bypass, and here’s how I’ll do it.  I’ll be publishing all of my content in DriveThruRPG, starting with my first content, a homesteading system.  All of my material, both beta and official, will be published there, which is allowable because the majority of my material are setting-agnostic.

The main problem would be Living Parnast, which is my beta setting which is still set in the Forgotten Realms.  I’ll be still using this setting, but will only release it non-commercially on my web site.  In time, I’ll convert Living Parnast into the Æthercoil setting.

This plan will no doubt clear with all Terms of Services and keep me in the clear, so I can progress with the main business of working on content.   And doing recaps.

Item:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen

I haven’t had the chance to give an update on last Sunday’s session, since it was one of the slower sessions, and the recording got shredded.  As did this week’s version.  Apparently Tabletop Simulator and Infiniscene isn’t being very co-operative with each other at this time, probably by how more resources intensive Tabletop Simulator is.  (This is why I prefer Roll20, which is easier on the processors, at least mine.  You want me to get a better computer, I’ll be releasing my homebrews on DriveThruRPG on Pay What You Want.)  However, for those who want a more thorough recap than what I’m currently doing, the other players have compiled a log on Steam that will bring you up to speed.  I hope to have things go better tonight.

This Sunday had some more progression.  At the start—after some more shopping—the party reconnected with Leosin Erlanthar in Elturel and met Ontharr Frume of the Order of the Gauntlet, who talked more about the Cult’s convoy up the Sword Coast and the need for people to observe them.  Which is right up Justin’s alley since he’s more versed in reconnaissance than combat.  There was still some time before the convoy gathers in Baldur’s Gate, however, there was some side quests to deal with.  Such as gathering some Iron and Copper ingots that got stolen from a wagon heading to town.  The remainder of that session dealt with retrieving the metals.

As I said before, you can get the recap of this link, and if you want me to stream more Tabletop Simulator episodes, I’m going to need a better machine for that.

Item:  Curse of Strahd

Friday’s Table: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfI8UtlSauM

The party has arrived into Barovia Village, and has discovered the main starting twist.  Since the table is streamed, I can tell you it here:  Instead of the standard being Ireena being the one bitten by Strahd, it is his boyfriend, a local Jock.  On top of that it wasn’t Strahd who bit him, but someone else.  The main goal is to find out who’s trying to out-Devil Strahd Von Zarcovish!  Of course, the best way to solve this case is to get an audience with the Count.  The best way to do that is for the Party to undergo the Fortunes of Ravenloft.

Before they do so, however, they need to bury Ireena’s adopted father and former Burgomaster.  After which, they plan to make a beeline toward Tser Pool, where Madam Eva is, and then to a place that nobody would expect a ‘run as written’ version of Curse of Strahd to be a safe space:  Castle Ravenloft.

I don’t run Curse of Strahd as written, however.  It can’t be any more telling then how I portray the Dread Lord.  During this table, I did hint at Strahd and Irenna being an item in the past, before she became the Burgomaster.   (“He made the mistake of confusing me for Tatyanna when we first met.  He didn’t realize it until after he bit me, and promptly apologized.  Demon or not, he has class.”)

During her time with Strahd, she found out as much as she could about him, his castle, and vampires.  She compiled everything into a book that is part Vampires 101, and Anne Rice style Romantic Vampire story.  I think I can show it in this blog now.

Item:  Lost Mine of Phandelver

Saturday Stream:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4N5MkO_rvI (This video might not be ready at the time I’m posting this.  Please be patient.)

While there was some progression, this session was when the player I’m screwing around with gets to screw back.

Me and Denzil are going some friendly competition; a matching of witch between a Power Player and a Creative Player.  This was counter to what happened the week before, where I took Denzil’s vampire character and de-vampired him!  Talk about your uber nerf!

Well, the Power Gamer on Friday is the Dungeon Master on Saturday, and he pretty much took it out on my poor Pandaren PC.  Linka got her clocked cleaned by a couple monks who were courteous enough to let her live.  One thing about Denzil, he appreciates me being a good sport.

The rest of my involvement in the campaign dealt with rescuing Gundren Rockseeker and having him tell the party of Wave Echo Cave, which is where the climatic chapter of Lost Mine takes place.  After which the party retired to Phandalin where Linka finds out is the sole ownership of Tresendar Manor.  I could see her staying here and setting up her own brewery here.  If, however, she isn’t helping out with a tinkerer building an OSR version of the Iron Man suit and causing successive explosions!

The latter parts of this session deals with another case of two Power Gamers butting heads.  Not only that, it was Denzil and Claire!  We all know the dramas those two had during my Princes of the Apocalypse stream, right?  But this time it ended on a happy note.  What Claire wanted was a boon for her character, and wanted to be tested by Eilistraee in the process.  She lost once before I clocked in this session, and her character became a Drider.  She tried it again and at first I continued streaming against my better judgement, but Denzil relented, and decided that Eilistraee was merely testing her instead of curb stomping her.  (Something poor Linka knows too well.)  She got restored with her devotions switched from Lolth to her daughter, and she got a sentient sword in the process.  Ahhhh, a rare happy ending to the session, and a Drama Storm averted.

That’s something I’m planning on with my Friday Curse of Strahd session.  Claire wanted her character to have a similar test, but Barovia doesn’t have the same connections to any Deities as Faerun has.  I can’t tell you any details right now, but if there’s anyone who’s going to be testing anyone in Barovia, it’s going to be Strahd himself administering the test.  Fsk Lolth!  Hell, Fsk the Lady of Fsking Pain.  You’re in Strahd’s Realm, beeaatch!  Want to see those two go at it?  Two virtual demigods who can give you fates worse than death and stuff you into demiplanes for eternity?!

I didn’t think so.

Curse of Strahd Updates:

Friday 13thhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AOtA1-kJ1I

I used the Macrabe Escape add-on from the DM’s Guild to give this party a transition into Barovia, giving the party a surprise that they have traveled to Barovia through this underground passage, and a rather nasty surprise for Denzil.  However, unlike previous chapters of us butting heads, I have a way to have this be a lot more interesting for everyone all around.

Wednesday 18th; Encounters

The party have gotten their first Reading, and it’s certain that they’re going to run into Madam Eva again.  (Best keep those Tarokka Decks, people!  Personal Decks improve the fortunes.) Also, horrors of horrors we got a new player who’s even worse than Denzil on the power playing department.  He’s not above being a munchkin to get all the loot and he’s always talking about raising zombies.

Necromancy?  In Strahd’s Domain?! I know of a Count who’d like to talk to this boy, and I have a perfect way to deal with him.  Especially since I’ll have a couple players short this coming week.

As I told you previously, I’ll be toning down on the reports for Spoiler purposes.  I’ll instead set up some short prose on what is going on during the two campaigns:


It could be the rarest thing in all of Faerun.  People were all around all the city just to see it.  A mere empty space of fragrant grass, with butterflies floating in the air, and an occasional bird swooping down to peck at a worm.  A young girl in a flowing dress dared to touch it with her foot.  Even the sun rays casted themselves upon it, as if wondering about the spectacle.

It would’ve been just any vacant lot, nothing that should attract this much attention.

However, this is a vacant lot in Baldur’s Gate’s Lower City.

In both the Upper and Lower Cities, the area is so developed and so crowded that grass only exists in the former Silvershield Estate, which is now a memorial for those slain when Silvershield became the Chosen of Bhaal; it’s buildings converted into office space.  Other than that, you have to leave the city’s gates, something that the patriars loathe to do.

Save for those who grate against the city’s self-professed rulers, such as Coran, who stood next to the Grand Duke, Ulder Ravenguard.  They stood facing the open field in silence, until Ulder turned to Coran.

“Last time I checked, Coran, there was a haunted house here.”

The Grand Duke is right.  In this ‘Rare as a Unicorn sighting” place once stood Mandorcai’s Mansion, a place of ill karma and eldritch vanishings.  So cursed was that place that no workers were willing to touch the place, even to dismantle it.  However, it vanished in a swirl of strange mist thicker than any normal fog in Baldur’s Gate.

“Let me get this straight,” Ulder said.  “Sometime overnight, this immediate area was enveloped by this mist, the same kind of mist that is plaguing the Sunset Mountains as we speak.”

“So says me, several of your Fists, and just about everybody in Bloomridge,” Coran said.

“About this time, two children approached you asking for help, who vanished just as you sent a bunch of heroes into the house.  After some time while they were in there, the mist vanished and took the mansion with it.”

“That just about says it, and a lot of people are glad to see it gone.”

“Yes, yes, it was quite an eyesore,” Ulder grumbled a bit.  “Not that I’m glad that this…Mist of Ravenloft…took care of Mandorcai’s Mansion, I don’t like to have a second occurrence of this.”

Coran sighed.  “True enough.  However, from what I heard, these Mists follow their own way, as if something or someone guides where the Mists comes and goes.  You’ve probably heard of a dead corpse not too far from here.”

“Yes, Jimmy Savile.  Looks like he finally tried to molest the wrong little girl.”

“That’s not the real story, Ulder.  When Jimmy went to the ally with that girl, the very same mist surrounded the ally.  When it dissipated, Jimmy’s body remained, it was drained of all blood with two puncture marks by the neck.”

If Ulder had hair on the back of his neck, they’d be on end at this point.  “Vampire?”

Coran nodded.

“And the girl?”

“Nowhere to be found.”

Ulder had to favor his head.  “Is there anyway we can keep this from spiraling out of control?”

“I don’t know,” Coran said.  “I only know what Madam Eva knows.  Right now she’s in Waterdeep talking with Lady Silverhand and some of the Masked Lords.  She knows everything about the Mists of Ravenloft.”

“What did she tell you about them.”

Coran leaned forward a bit.  “It has standards.

 

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.

 

Recap Updates and Foxfire D&D SRD

Item:  Curse of Strahd Updates.

I’m happy to announce that I will be getting a streamed season back up, this time Curse of Strahd.  I’m getting a couple of my former players back together, hopefully after settling their differences, along with new players which I hope will become regulars.  I hope to get started next week with a Session 1 (or if need be, a session .5) where I start like what I did with my Encounters table:  With Death House in Baldur’s Gate and a crossing from the Realms to Ravenloft.

Because of this, and the desire not to show any spoilers in this blog, you’ll find me holding off on any recaps of the Encounters party, and instead showing some special lore that the two parties would’ve experienced by now.  This will keep either party from Metagaming which some of my players are prone to do.

This is why I’ll go off and say this to those who will be playing on my Friday table.  If you think you’re going to see I6 Ravenloft 2016 when you start off on Curse of Strahd, keep on thinking. You’ll see some wild twists on my variation of the campaign.  You’re talking to someone who has a list of D&D deities I have pissed off.  That storm last weekend, one of them done it, I know it.  I fully expect Tracy and Laura Hickman to kick down my door to my less than ostentatious apartment with a bunch of men with white coats and nets to drag me into the Kettler Behavioral Health Center.  That’s a fancy name for my hometown’s wacko basket, wouldn’t you think?

Item:  Foxfire D&D SRD

As some of you know, I’m working on a couple settings for D&D, one in the Forgotten Relams for the DM’s Guild, the other being Æthercoil.  Both of them will incorporate additional mechanics, options, monsters, and other nice juicy tidbits that might or might not be acceptable for DM’s Guild’s guidelines, since I am going to be using them for both settings.  (I mean, they have IP rights to the Terrasque and Baldur’s Gate, not the Light Bulb and using a Meeple on a path made of playing cards.)

I have the need to compile all of this material that I’m adding into the game into its own System Reference Document.  This document is meant to be an add-on to the official 5E SRD from Wizards, and will be used on both of my settings.  When it’s fully compiled, I’ll be posting it here as its main site.  (I’ll finally be changing that top menu on my page to allow people to download it.) It’ll be available free of charge, and will replace the old Wiki that I used earlier on my DM career.  (It’ll still be up since people are still using it.)

As you may suspect from a document that has just been compiled, it’ll still need some playtesting.  I’ll have a form for you to send whatever feedback you have. (On the SRD Material, I must remind you.  I never post anything just for someone to question me about my social life!  I’m looking at you, DeviantART!  Man, this is worse than Will Wheaton’s beef against Acquisitions Incorporated.)

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.

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

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

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

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

…and back into Baldur’s Gate.

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

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

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

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

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

Item:  Scourge of the Sword Coast recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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