Category Archives: #IamaBadDM

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:

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


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.

D&D recap, week of 27 Apr to 1 May 2016

It never fails.  The Sun goes up, the Sun goes down.  Seasons change, babies are born, people die.  Whenever a superhero goes into a bank it gets robbed.  And whenever my birthday rolls around, it storms.  Not rains, storms.  With hail, high winds and the occasional tornado.

This weekend’s Birthday Storm managed to wait until after I came home, however.  But the yearly shit didn’t stop hitting the fan until Tuesday.  Of course.

Out of the Abyss; Wednesday 27 Apr

I sped through most of the Menzoberranzan chapter and focused on Gromph Baenre’s tower.  The city, thanks to Gromph’s ritual bringing the demon lords to the Underdark, looks a lot like an underground Syria. The once proud and arrogant City of Spiders now looks like the aftermath of a war zone, complete with former highborn drow with thousand-yard stares.  It’d give people the impression that Lolth has forsaken her own people.

In a way you’d be right:  Lolth did use that ritual to dump eight demon lords into the material plane so she’d get more room for herself in the Abyss.  You’d think that a plane of existence would be roomy enough.

This wasn’t the first time she did something self-harmful in the name of self-promotion: In the latter stage of the 4th Edition Spellplague era, Lolth sought out other planes to incorporate into her Demonweb.  Those who played DDO’s Menace of the Underdark know what I’m talking about.  In my Foxfire Forgotten Realms, she did this to several other realms, including one that was a mirror image of her home realm.

A Forgotten Realms where Lolth didn’t become Lolth.

In this particular realm, Lolth met her former self, Araunshee.
The two looked at each other, thought each was a twisted abomination of the other, and they’ve been having a cold war with each other since.

Araunshee wants revenge against her demonic version of herself for destroying her world, and what better way to do that is usurp her role as deity of the Forgotten Realms’ drow?  Through a secret alliance with several native drow deities, and some meetings with Corellon Larethian (patron deity of the Elves, which Araunshee became in her old world) she founded the Council of Spiders.  These are a group of drow mages, fighters, rogues, and possibly Jaraxle Baenre and some of his Bregan D’aerthe company.  They wish to rebuild Menzoberanzan to their ‘proper’ deity’s image.

Which makes Vizeran’s plan of setting the Dark Heart ritual there problematic to some of the group.  Right now Menzoberranzan is in ruins thanks to the first meeting of the Demon Lords.  The Second Meeting will wipe it off the map.  Dare the party force me to make a second massacre in the Forgotten Realms, or would they go up and try to convince Vizeran for an alternate location for the ritual, like Neverlight Grove?

Something tells me I’m going to add another name to the list of Forgotten Relams deities pissed off at me.

Lost Mine of Phandelver; Saturday 30 Apr

Remember what I said about the birthday storm.  It often choses the time that it’ll do the most damage.  This year, it showed up when I was starting to stream this session.  I had to log off for about 90 minutes.

Was I laughing or crying?  I think both.

Fortunately for me, other players were offline with work and it was one of those off sessions.  Those who stayed managed to do some shopping and even beefed up Linka with eight Rings of Protection +2, they are Attuned as a single item, giving the Pandaren Drunken Monk a whopping AC of 37!

Yep.  She’ll be the fluffy tank.  A tank that can leap up in the air with Daggers drawn (now including a +3 Dagger and another that deals Chill Touch damage) spread eagle and yelling out “LOVE ME!!!”  I do so love playing her.

Of course that tactic don’t work when leaping on top of a dracolich who can cast Hunger of Hadar.  A female panda dressed like Katsumi from Dead or Alive; a spell that created a darkened area filled of tentacles?  Sigh.  Why does my sessions go into Hentai sessions all the time?

Hoard of the Dragon Queen; Sunday May 1

Just when I thought I was through with crap on my birthday, when I started to stream this session, Infiniscene Code 101’d on me!  (Code 101: Disney Castmemeber slang for technical difficulties-slash-out of order.  Even though I’m not CM material, I adopted some of their lingo by friends who were CMs)  While others in the group did suggest that I use more traditional means of streaming, like OBS, I just don’t have the ability to use that program properly.  I do have multiple machines to have one do the table while another streams, but getting video from one computer and into another computer that’s a foot or two away is problematic.  There are cables and cards that will send video from one computer to another directly, but they are currently cost-prohibitive.  Anyone who would help me out here, like what Spacehampzter Boo did with Tabletop Simulator, will be greatly appreciated.

Over at the session then.  The party is split, with Grumzer the dwarf in the bushes after attempting to rescue Leoshin from the Cult.  Meanwhile, the rest of the party was inside the Luggage as it was carried away by a Cultist’s wagon train.

Justin figured out a couple things while he was in there.  One, the Luggage’s inside is much larger on the inside.  Two, it might be a good idea to set up some variant of Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion into the Luggage, for circumstances like this.  How to do that without making something like putting a Bag of Holding into a Portable Hole is up in the air though.

And finally, with the mouth ajar, he was able to at least peek out and see what is going on.  Getting off the wagon, scampering to the bushes and waiting for the party to leave is no problem for Justin’s trained Mimic.  What it needed is a diversion, and that took some doing.  There were some options, including setting fire to a wagon and letting dragonborn monk Malakai breathe fire out the hole.  In the end, a discrete cut of a rope and a bump on the trail was enough to free the Luggage, and the party.

They returned to the Raiders camp to find it more or less deserted, with only the cave to the Dragon’s Hachery guarded.  Ildar was useful in getting some guards to leave, but eventually everyone in the cavern caught wise and the session ended in a classic 300 scenario where the heroes funnel the bad guys through a narrow passage.

Will they prove more successful than Leonidas? Will my computer hang-ups subside?  Can I have a May 2 with a clear sky?

….do I have to shank Mr. Murphy in order to answer yes to all three questions?

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.


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:

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 ( ).  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, Week of 24-26 Feb 16

Item: Encounters (Out of the Abyss), Wednesday 24th

This session was filler; a visit with a traveling merchant (Note #1: RNG a merchant for each available campaign that’s capable. For now, that’s Out of the Abyss, Princes of the Apocalypse, and Curse of Strahd, since I’m already planning the start of this.) and some filler encounters up to the arrival at the Vast Oblivium. I gave them a heads-up that they will encounter a ‘Fucking Beholder,’ as I call them. Of course, I’ll be modifying the encounter to rank it up to the group’s XP level since it will be a major encounter after all.

The party also requested to know the whereabouts of a sword they showed in the copy of the module he bought…the #1 threat to my DMing career; second only to Bears. Good news, I’ll give him a chance to get that Dawnbringer. The Bad news is that he has to go through my custom Legendary Monster Team to get to it.

Alice and her Court is coming.

Ooooooh, some parts of me want that TPK.

Really, I really need my first TPK

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, Thursday 25th

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I realized this need the moment I set up this encounter that lasted the whole session. This is where Alexis, the robot bunny girl, picked up a teleportation crystal at the same place as the exploding rune that turned him into that robot bunny girl. I punish such stupidity.

And punish them I did, with a Pit find with Max HP, 1 Legendary action which it can Spellcast, and three Potions of Supreme Healing (10d4+20) stored in its asshole! Keep in mind: Pit Fiends can cast fireball at-will, number one. Number two, Legendary Actions can be used as additional reactions.

I’ll admit to a dick move though. I allow Alexis to eldritch blast the potion before the pit fiend can drink it. Unfortunately, when Alexis rolled the Nat 20 he needed, the blast broke the potion just as it was over the pit fiend’s mouth, its contents falling into its mouth anyway!

I really wanted that TPK.

I managed to take down all but Alexis, the last survivor, who in her infinite wisdom to use cyphers in a combination. He managed to summon that Card of Balance like last week, and managed to attack the pit fiend with it.

The resulting Angel took her fallen companions and, thinking that they’re dead, spirited away with them in toe, leaving Alexis alone.

She stumbled out of Firehammer Hold in a stupor resembling those of war survivors, as Pancheska found her wandering mute to Daggerford, blue screens in her eyes. As the succubus took her in, I immediately moved ahead to Dead in Thay, where the party gets to retcon their characters for the new module.

Alexis will return, in a vie for redemption, over what happened to her, the other party members will be remaking their characters to suit this mission of heading to Thay to take the fight to them.

This is why, when someone asks you to save the world in Faerun, you say yes! You can deal with the payment later, but you say. YES! Winston said that for a reason!

Dead in Thay will begin in two weeks. I’ll be out of the town next Thursday.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, Friday 26th

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As Homer Simpson said, “I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my homosexuals fuh-laming!”

That’s what I think of when I see Ardie Starflower, one of the three new players in my Friday table, all thanks to who is becoming my first major supporter of my stream, Spacehampzter Boo. He’s the one who does that Preaching Paladin, Ildar. Cue a lot of beaucoup bitching and a lot of hilarity which making this session the highlight of my week. (The Wizard and the Warlock that wounded out the other two new players provides their own laughs as well, as you can see in the playback.)

This is the part of the game that I just flat out love, where the players make me roll around behind the virtual DM’s screen laughing till I’m dizzy. I’d suggest this stream to those who just want to see a session of people just having fun with the game.

As far as the session goes, it was a slow one, enough for the new players to get used to the campaign. The Red Dragon told the party that they need to deal with the orb of dragonkind that the Cults of Elemental Evil has in their possession. It is currently held by Vanifer, who is in the Temple of the Elemental Fire (Eternal Flame). They come back with the destroyed orb of dragonkind, and they get the second key they need for the Water weapon.

I will need to scale up the encounters for the Scarlet Moon Hall and the Temple of the Eternal Flame maps, because I now have 7 players at Level 6, but it will mean their first foray into the main dungeon, the Temple of the Elements.

Next week will have the Beholder Encounter and the Lost Tomb of Kaheem modification, and then the above resetting for Friday. I have some time to deal with the multi-team (The party and three Virtual teams) for Dead in Thay and the making of the maps for Death House which will start the Curse of Strad Season.

Meanwhile, I’ve begun the second draft of LP01-01 Liberation from the Dragon Queen module. I finally got enough ink in my printer to print out the document so I can proofread it offline; I can proofread on the document in Word, but I find it easier for me to print it out and do it offline. Of course, this means for a more chaotic edits and the need for extra sheets for replacement passages, which I have an experimental process to control the mess. I’ll let you know more about it later.

Week of 7-13 Feb 16, part 3

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, 12 Feb 16

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Trigger Warning: For some people, this is the best D&D session ever!

I say this because some people think it’s because of some prime action, or a major plot point, or a beginning or conclusion of an epic storyline. Apparently, there’s a part of me who thinks that a D&D session isn’t good unless I’m hiding behind the dungeon master’s screen laughing and crying at the same time, feeling the insanity of my players like Steve Harvey’s Family Feud. This has got to rank up here with the infamous ‘-cupine’ incident.

It started innocent enough, though. The party progressed toward the third elemental weapon.

I should’ve seen that I’m going to have quite a time when the RNG gave me a dragon encounter, and not just any dragon encounter.

Remember that young green dragon who got blown into the Dessarin Valley? From Dreams of the Red Wizards?

Guess what the Princes of the Apocalypse party met.

Fortunately, the dragon was in no mood to attack. He was too woozy and disoriented to fight. The party decided to make friends with the wyrm, offering it a small allotment of coin and even sending a healing spell that way.

At this point, I have to put up one of my hidden rules in campaign design: No Two Dragons are alike.   Just because they’re a chromatic doesn’t mean that they are cookie cutter identical in temperament and personality. Some Chromatics are good, and some Metallics will end up evil. With this dragon, he just wanted to set up a simple hoard and live somewhat unmolested by adventurers. He’d might go as far as to say, “Listen, if I hand you a weapon from my horde, would you’d just leave?”

I don’t know if he’d do that, but he will remember the party’s good deed, and will return the favor in a future session. Oh, and by the way, and there’s always an ‘oh by the way,’ that qualified as a non-violent resolution: The XP for that encounter got doubled. I reward those who think outside of the “Open Door, Kill Feeb, Take Treasure, Lather, Rinse, Repeat,” mentality.

It’s part of how I design the Living Parnast series.

The campaign went on toward Beliard and a nearby marina where I had some boats ready for the party; the wizard who made the Stone to Flesh spell offered the party the boats and a Stone to Flesh scroll for their troubles.

I didn’t see the danger sign when they arrived into the dungeon where the water weapon is located. I did see the sign that said that the weapon is behind two locks, and the party has to find two keys to unlock it.

Then the party walked into an Earth Elemental, just minding its own business.

The new lady in the game (and yes, there are women on the internet and they play games that I DM in—Fuck You, Anita!) cast Plant Growth on it.

Producing Catnip. And Marijuana. And Poppies. And Mushrooms. And I think someone was making LSD in the corner just for kicks.

Note that one of the members of the party is a catfolk during this.

Also, I haven’t even touched the part about the two druid characters wanting to get it on every five minutes!

The video speaks for itself. I couldn’t Dungeon Master for thirty whole minutes because I was too busy laughing. I was on the floor laughing. I was laughing like someone who has completely lost all sense of reason, the kind of laugh that makes people want to call ‘those nice men in those clean white coats’ to take me away, but I was having the best laugh I had in months.

It was hilarious, and offensive, and funny, and irrelevant, and a riot, and righteous, and good. That is what this game means to me, that I don’t have to even stay on any track and still claim to have a good time.

I might never be admitted into any D&D Hall of Fame as a Dungeon Master, I might not even make a living off of it. I might be content to just break even with Living Parnast, but it’s a thing I enjoy doing, which makes it—and scenes like this—all worthwhile.

The number one rule of being a DM is that, above all, make sure that the players are having a good time. It’s different in each group I’m in, and it will be more apparent now that I’m saving the streams on YouTube. If the party isn’t having fun and having a good time with their three hours and change they’re giving here, what’s the point?

It sure beats whipping each other into a political fevered frenzy over some candidate they’ve been told that their existence is intolerable to them personally, right?

Cthulhu 2016


Out of the Abyss Update: 30 Sep 15

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

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

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

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

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

That happened within the first ten minutes.

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

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

Chris Perkins is going to hate me for this one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreams of the Red Wizards – Roll20

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

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

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

Bonus Dungeon – Encounters

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

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

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

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

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

Darkest Dungeon and my Madness Mechanic

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

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

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

But with SCL, I hope that changes.

What do you do with a Sleeping PC, part 2

Last week I started a thread asking for suggestions on what prankery to do with a player’s PC on the table while the player himself is away, either being late, or having to go to the john, or for any other reason. While I’m still open for suggestions, allow me to post up a list of suggestions, with references:

From me:

  1. The first one is what I call the “JigglypuffPUFF!” or the “Break Out the Magic Markers!” or the only part of the entire Pokemon franchise that I find actually funny. (IMHO, of course), where the PC wakes up with his face covered in black ink. I really should have Magic Markers available in the sundry items shops in my campaigns.
  2. Another depends on the other player’s sensibilities, where the sleeping PC gets his clothing and armor striped. Said PC can continue the session in his or her undies, in the buff, or for added humiliation, cross-dressed. If the PC is female, it’s fetish outfit time! (I doubt you’d want to be late knowing that your poor character is going to dungeon delve dressed like a Playboy Bunny, unless you actually like that you pervert, heh heh heh)
  3. And then there’s slipping a little local animal (provided that animal doesn’t have a poison or petrifying attack) into the offender’s sleeping bag, having the bard quietly walk up and blast out something from the First Four Black Sabbath albums (My personal favorite), dropping a lit firecracker next to his eardrum, and so on.
  4. Put shaving cream in one hand, and then tickle the PC on the forehead with a feather. Still-sleeping PC slaps what he thinks is a fly…with his hand full of shaving cream.

From Greg Johnston: Dip is hand in a bowl of warm water and watch the fun.

From William Fellars: You can always apply a little hair removal cream to the PC’s head or face… Just not the dwarf’s beard.

From Anchorite Gamer:

Tie boot laces

  1. glue weapon into scabbard
  2. removes all tips from the arrowheads
  3. replace spell component pouch items with non-spell components (flour, whatever); …..

That last one reminds me of a favorite prank in Deadliest Catch, the infamous Flour Bomb!

I can’t wait to pull something like that on my unsuspecting players.  Heh, heh, heh.

Any more suggestions will be appreciated, that random table’s growing very nicely.

Encounters Recap 7 JUL 15

Before I begin, I needed to tell you that I had to switch Internet Services this weekend, going from AT&T to Charter. Charter’s Internet is known to be much faster in my town, which is needed for my streaming channel (I had to put that on hold because of the lack of bandwidth in AT&T) Now that I have the cable modem and router straightened out and everything’s back up to speed. I can move on to my posts:

Trigger Warning: Spoilers, Cursed PC’s, sudden Player vs Player, PCs actually dying!

Yes, I’ve been a very bad Dungeon Master this day. I almost pulled off the TPK. I told the gang on the table that this floor (Fane of the Eye) is going to be a bitch and I didn’t disappoint.

No, not the specters encounter, although I did remember the non-magical weapon resistance this time. I’m talking about the first instance of what I wanted to do since the Necromancer’s Lair: PVP Mode.

In room F19, there is a chamber with a statue of an amorphous body with tentacles, with a purple crystal inside it. According to the book, anyone who disturbs the crystal has the chance of being turned into an ochre jelly.

You can see where this is going by now.

Kyle’s character (the same one who also plays my Thursday VT) thought he would get prepared. He popped Mage Armor and had two clerics cast Shield of Faith on him, which I allow to stack. (Red Flag there, folks) So with a 20 plus AC, he decided to use Mage Hand to touch the crystal.

Hell yeah I trigger the curse. Besides, I wanted to try this PVP Mode out.

PVP Mode is a mechanic that I thought up whenever someone gets turned into a monster—such as an ooze…or maybe a zombie—and turns on the other players. Instead of taking the poor unfortunate Player’s character sheet and have him out of play, I decided to give him a little incentive:

I start up by modifying his character with three times the max HP, a little regeneration, three extra Action Points, two turns per round, and the ability to spend Action Points for additional reactions. The bad news is that he has to make a new Level 1 Character. The good news is that, for each PC he takes out—that is, reduces to 0 Hit Points—he gets to add a level in the character creation.   For the rest of the characters, those who are still standing after taking out the ‘monster,’ there isn’t going to be any math: Automatic Level up.

I have everyone roll initiative and sit back and watch the fun. And oh, what fun I had, watching the mayhem that went along with the party finding that their former smurf—yes, his character was the wild mage—turned into an ooze who turned on them…who still had Wild Magic…I know. He rolled on that Wild Magic table a couple more times before it was all over.

Oh, and remember that Death Note? According to the Rules in that thing, if I remember right; one, ownership of a Death Note can be temporarily gifted, and becomes official once the borrower writes someone’s name on it. And two, if the Death Note is destroyed, as if by a 12d6 fireball at max damage, the owner of the Death Note is killed!

Guess what happened to that Death Note? That’s right, it fried to a crisp, and Kyle’s character will die by the end of his turn…unless the Wild Magic table saves him.

Well, what happened at the end left my jaw—as well as several others—hanging. This is what he rolled:

91: If you die within the next minute, you immediately come back to life as if by the reincarnate spell.

When the smoke cleared, after the players wondered whatever or not munchining is a good idea on my table, Kyle’s character returned…as a half-orc! (I insisted that he roll the race of the character, according to the reincarnate spell. Two players end up with their PC’s ‘chunkied,’ so they have to roll up a new character, and everybody was either awestruck or cursing me off for this twist I gave them.

Oh yeah, and I also achieved my goal for the table in that they had to use their Scroll of Town Portal after that to recover. And get new characters into the party. Leaving me with plenty of time to restock the dungeons, move things around, and add some more twists into the mix. After all. It wasn’t just the Cult of Black Earth muking about in the Dessarin Valley.

Encounters Update: 10 May 15

Trigger Warning: Spoilers, Smurfs, Bears, DM being a d*ck, and Bill and Ted reference.

Yes, it’s about this time when I start cranking on some of the jerkdom as I crank up the difficulty. As the line says, “Give them the sun, make them fight for the Moon.” They’re at the part where they’re fighting for the moon.

This comes into play as I’ve get them to clear the B1 of the Sacred Stone Monastery, and further down into what I’m calling “The Temple of the Elements,” which is usually called “The Temple of Elemental Evil.” This is due of me not being focusing on the nine Alignments, I don’t call Elemental energies as Evil or Good; only the way it is used. In an Elemental Evil like adventure like Princes of the Apocalypse, there are Elemental brings that with to use the Elements for nihilistic goals, and thus provide the Evil in the campaign. I can see a faction like the Emerald Enclave or the Order of the Gauntlet send adventuring parties into this Temple dungeon regularly to ensure that these beings don’t make a resurgence. Also in the campaign, the main goal is to deal with just one of the four Elemental brings. That will give this module a lot of replayability as the other three Elementals need to be dealt with.

That, and there’s also the upcoming Rise of Tiamat to deal with.

2015-06-14 01_45_28-ApplicationWindowIn the previous post, I gave you a report on one of the PCs (played by Kyle, who is also in my Dreams of the Red Wizards campaign) being turned into an honest-to-god Smurf, complete with blue skin, and all white outfits…and the compulsion to dance whenever Fibbler (Spoony Bard PC of one of my older players) plays with his fiddle.

I even made him a card that describes his doubled curse. Yes, he needs to have Remove Curse cast on him…twice.   He gets the “Your Skin Turns Blue” again, he shrinks down to three inches tall and you need a Wish to undo it.

That’s not all of what I do.

In one of the rooms in the floor, I put in a whole lot of mushrooms. Magic mushrooms? Perhaps, Perhaps. However, I added a part that the Drow-turned-Smurf is overcome with the desire to stay in the room and call it home. Cue some comical scenes where the other party members hogtie the blue boy and eventually spit out a Lesser Restoration to counter that effect.

By now this guy, is starting to hate me.

I love my job.

But that’s not the part that raised my ire.

This is.

DeathNoteTheMusicalSomeone, brought a Death Note in my table! Not just that, the party actually used that to predict the death of a named character.

That, sadly, means that they can use the Death Note in the campaign. I have to put my foot down and claim that it can’t be used IRL. And claim that it’s because I beaten Death in a particularly nasty game of Twister. I’ll let you figure out the reference.

Of course, if they use it, it’s going to have dire circumstances, so they have better be careful using it. It could be another reason why someone will have to make another character.

2015-06-14 03_11_04-Statblock exampleLast but not least, I have the druid back at the table, and so I included a bear companion (They keep chanting “Needs Moar Bear!”) for the kid, and as I’ve mentioned earlier, I added a little cutscene of said bear waltzing into the Monastery, and in an opportune moment in a combat, I have that bugger chase some extra human shields into the party’s way. Much to the crowd’s delight.

I also included a printout of the specialty created Monster Manual entry for the bear in question. After an extensive search for a decent stat block creator that at least looks close enough to the published books, I chose a new Statblock markup that is found in github. It requires Chrome for it to work right, which is its sole down side, but it’s a small sacrifice for a decent finished graphic to use in my plans and future modules. I hope they work on this some more and employ a better entry interface for this, because this is the closest to the Monster Manual stat block, and by far the easiest for me to read.