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.