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.

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: Week of 13-17 Apr 16

This week has been a wash as far as videos go.  Infiniscene was, as expected and as I call it, being beta.

Throughout the weekend, the stream has been shutting off in the middle of the sessions for some as yet unknown reason.  I’m thinking it’s network issues because I doubt I’d ever just turn on a browser and look up porn while I’m waiting for my turn, while I’m streaming on Twitch.  First off I don’t even like porn.  And second, I have three computers and four monitors, and that’s not counting tablets and the occasional Kindle.  I can multitask if I wanted to.

Wednesday; Out of the Abyss; 13 Apr

Wednesday started the staggered campaigns for my Encoutners table, I’ll be going between Out of the Abyss and Curse of Strahd until I finish Out of the Abyss.  This shouldn’t take me past June for this.

The party has moved clear of the Labyrinth Chapter.  They went past Filthriddens without conflict, and then they arrived at Yeenoghu’s Hunt, they wisely allowed Yeenoghu to wander out before taking on the remaining Gnolls that still fed on the Goristro.  They managed to get at the heart and some of the Yeenoghyu’s Blood needed for the ritual.

(I omitted the March to Nowhere for brevity’s sake)

Now for the Gallery of Angels, and the unfortunate angels that were not as much petrified but frozen in place in telltale “I have no mouth and I must scream” fashion.  All Eight of them, and each of them broken in body and mind.  I won’t comment on the Angel’s spirits.  They managed to get their feathers before they heard a voice demanding that they kill them.

Cue a bit of discussion over the alignment-based conundrum that allowed me to rest my brain.  It was easy enough to do the deed:  They can activate the Instant Fortress and squish them in place, but it would prove distasteful for some of the characters, for obvious reasons.

Then John found out that he still had the Necklace of Prayer Beads one of which had Summon Planar Ally.  Said Ally, when summoned, was just as puzzled over the angel’s existence as the party, although he had heard of some fallen angels that were double crossed.  The being noted the current location and said that he’ll alert his superiors on this as the party returned to Viseran, who has gotten the Timmask Mushrooms in the interim.

All that remains is Gromph Bernre’s grimoire.  Which can be found in Menzoberanzan.  Viseran knows where Gromph’s home is in town.  The problem is getting there and out with the party’s skin.

No pressure right?

Friday; Princes of the Apocalypse; 15 Apr

The battle between the Rules Lawyer and the Creative DM continues.

It began with the mob surrounding the party in the crosshall, with a new player arriving in the form of a halfling robe. Denzil, the rules lawyer, tried to port everyone out…only to meet a flaming wall of heated steel.  Oh, no, asshole, you’re not getting away, you’re going to at least take out part of this encounter.  And they did, managing to get half of the sheer mass of creatures consisting of the remainder of this dungeon level as well as some Mages who know Dispel and Counterspell, a necessary when dealing with Denzil.

Denzil then retaliated with sneaking over to area E17 in your publications and sabotaging the mechanics.  Whatever or not that effected anything remained to be seen, but I can only surmise that there is one cult pissed off at the knucklehead.

Almost as much as Claire is.

You see, in the middle of this encounter, Claire, who is played by my first Trans player in my group of regulars (remember what I said about Seige of Dragonspear, and fuck off, you college plebeians) decided that using the Orb of Dragonkind would be a good idea.  You know the orb.  The one who had that ancient dragon spirit inside who’d possess Claire if the dice decided not to like her.

The dice decided to like her today.

She ended up teleported to the lair of the Red Dragon waaaay back in the homemade dungeon I added for the water weapon.  It was easier for me to give the second key to the water weapon to Claire in exchange for the Orb than for me to get her back to the rest of the party.

I was about to call the session when I managed to do so, but then another Drama Storm came up:  It was another alignment conundrum with her and the Tiefling played by Denzil.  Throw in a couple Nat 20s dueling against each other and things really got derailed.

What a predicament, and it’s keeping going throughout the week to date.  Something tells me that I need to pull out PvP Mode, and a visit by someone I never thought would have to intrude into my campaign world:  The Lady of Pain.

Saturday; Lost Mine of Phandelver; 16 Apr

Something tells me that Denzil wanted payback on my poor Pandaren.

He made Linka work for her getting accustomed to what she calls, “Her Baby,” with trying to get inside that thing and fiddling with the controls.  I suspect that Denzil was mad at me at this point.  That Apparatus of Kawalish is going to have a cute nickname before the end, blinged out with accessories when they arrive to the nearest major city.  I also wanted there to be an owner’s manual or at least a title form in that device.  I’ll probably get one in Phandalin, as well as vying for a +1 quaterstaff.

Linka only managed to find the keys with a security device.  Important when thwarting plebeians trying to jack “Her Baby.” While this was going on, the rest of the party dealt with the sole survivor in the battle of Thundertree, the druid Reidoth.  The party managed to spell the beans about Cragmaw Castle, where Gundrin is believed to be held.

The remainder of the session was random encounters, some of them were necessarily overpowered to accommodate the party’s level.  They were powerful enough for the party to KO some people, but not deliver the TPK.

So far, it’s still 1 TPK for me, while Denzil is still sitting on the Goose Egg.

Imagine my shit-eating grin.

Sunday; Hoard of the Dragon Queen; 17 Apr

The party finished with the first chapter, Greenrest in Flames, with the classic one-on-one matchup between Langdedrosa and Illdar.  It was a classic depiction of this particular mission right down to the eventual KO of Ildar.  By now the party has canonized Justin’s luggage as, if not identical as The Luggage of Diskworld fame, or even a direct descendant of said creature (which is the cannon version), at the very least is similar in nature, albeit not as Evil.  If anything, the Luggage is more like a loyal dog companion to Justin than anything else, and quite protective. It nipped at Illdar at least a dozen times so far in this campaign.  It also took in four chickens from Transition Encounter 1, Stragglers, and burped out feathers from one of them at Transition Encounter 2, Rearguard.  Good Times.

During this session, I was sketching Justin and his eventual Grapple Belt (think of a slimmed down version of Attack on Titan’s 3D Maneuver Gear) to make improvements on Justin’s token.  I intend to share the progress of this artwork as I return to art, although it will be shown in Google+ instead of DeviantART.  There’s a lot of people out there who are better received there, some of which needs more improvement than I do.  Unfortunately, I’m not in this group.  Whenever I post something that people turn around and demand I answer questions about my personal live, I find out that I’m no longer welcome there.

Whenever I find myself going “What in God’s Name have I done wrong now?” in a job, relationship, or anywhere else, it’s a sign that I’m going to end up leaving said place.  I’ve said that line while in dA several years ago.  I’ve long since asked that when it comes to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.  And Instant Messaging, for-fucking-get it.  I’ve yet to say that about G+.  I hope to God I never will.

I might never say that about D&D; I’m pretty much welcomed in this open tent.  Even to Trans players.  (All I ask is not go into melodrama because I default on Cis Male pronouns.  My computer’s spell checker is more important than your feels.)

The group is now in transition to the Raider’s Camp and stopped just before the Rearguard Encounter began.  Here’s hoping things go well, we’re about to head into a hornets nest.

DM Player Gameplay recap, weekend of 9-10 Apr

Item:  Lost Mine of Phandelver; Playing as Linka; Sat 9 Apr 16

Sometimes I wish that Mr. Murphy was a real person so I can kill him.  I could just see my overweight ass sneak up behind him and pull a Richard Marcinko.  Shanky shanky Mcstabstab.

I knew this day will go to shit when the lawn mower broke just as I was about to mow my parent’s lawn.  But imagine my consternation when the time came for that night’s session and my main computer won’t connect to the Internet.  It’s Wireless connector (I needed to use Wireless over at my parents) had a Code 101 (My way of saying that something’s not working because of something I have no clue over, which eventually fixes itself for no good reason. It’s taken from Disney Castmember lingo for something that’s out of order) and it took most of that night, and the session, to decide to be working again.

So I didn’t have a recording of Saturday’s session, which is sad, because DM Denzil, the rules lawyer, found out something I learned long ago in my DMing career:  The most epic of TPKs you’ll ever have will end up being thwarted.

At least the thwart wasn’t in record time.

But was by thwarted by the resident pervert in the group.

Clair Valentine, as you’ve seen in the previous week, is the bard who has befriended countless animals using Animal Handling in the forests toward Thundertree.  By the time the party arrived, she has amasses a small menagerie of a pack of wolves and an owlbear.

God as my witness, I couldn’t make this up.  I was afraid that she would charm Linka, and what she’ll do with the panda.  This is the same player who plays a lesbian bard who wants to get it on with every tiefling she sees—including Vanifer!!—and thought that attuning to an orb of dragonkind that beefs up performance but will turn you into an evil elder dragon if you every perform is a good idea.

That would be the Bonehead PC move of the week if it weren’t for what happened last session:  Thundertree is a sticking point in my attempts in Lost Mine of Phandelver because of that Green Dragon.  It created a TPK last time I was in it.  Imagine my facepalm when one of the party members walked up to Thundertree and yelled out, at top lung, “Is there anybody in here!?”

Cue every creature in the abandoned village.  Twig Blight, [My style of] Zombie, and Green Fucking Elder Dragon.  All making a beeline toward the party, and making me wish that I could invoke PVP mode but Linka would never think of that.  At least there was a tavern with a forgotten stash of brew for her to drink and, as I normally do, ride through the storm.

Of course that won’t work when the dragon comes crashing from above.

That’s when Denzil found out about something that Wolves have called ‘Pack Tactics,’ where the wolves can charge over and attack with advantage, and their collective bites can bring down even a dragon the size of a large house!  With the dragon prone, the party makes short work of the dragon.  In spite of poison breath taking down a couple PCs including Linka.  Putting Denzil into a familiar emotion for me; that you make an encounter that is sure to TPK only to have the party surprise you in actually succeeding.

Don’t feel bad, Denzil.  I’ve been at this game or three years, and my TPK count is at 1.

The party is then able to play Hot Gates with the riff raff—did you forget about the three dozen twig blights and zombies while all this is going on—and funnel them through the staircase from outside the tavern basement and pick them off King Leonidas style.  Sparta would be proud.

And an all-too-human chill flowed over DM Denzil’s soul.  The sheer amount of XP earned brought everyone up to Level 5 (Only because I invoked my DM’s award where—as decided on in this table—everyone gets the bonus XP when I cash one in.) Also, Linka got ahold of an Apparatus of Kawalish which she’ll use for traveling, on top of a metric boatload of gold for any magic items she might need.  (I definitely need to get her a +1 Quarterstaff or Silvered Brass Knuckles.

I’ll decide over the week.

Warning:  Political Content Ahead

I had to console Spacehamzter over the weekend.  As you know, I rarely get political here, instead taking it to Google Plus for my bitching.  However, this spilled onto sacred grounds.

I’m glad to say that I’ve got Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition I off of a Steam Sale.  Especially after what they did to a DLC I will never buy, Siege of Dragonspear.  I want to put this out there on the record and state what most of us who are up in arms about this dungheap add-on are all about:

We are not bitching because of a Trans character.  We who play and DM Dungeons and Dragons have met at least one Trans NPC during our combined campaigns.  We don’t give a fuck about Trans NPCs, most of us wouldn’t care whatever or not a NPC is trans, a fellow player can make a Trans PC and we won’t give a rat king’s collective ass about said PC as long as he’s* good in a fight.  (Note: I default to Cis Male Pronouns as a writing convention.  Look at the warning on the left if this triggers you, and get out more.)

What we are bitching about is the gross disregard of what is known in some parts as “Character Integrity.”  In the Siege of Dragonspear, they changed three important characters to fit their feminist agenda and to rip at Gamergate.

One of the characters changed was Minsc.  The Beloved Ranger.

That, to many D&D players, is the equivalent of high blasphemy. You can draw a picture of Mohammad while shitting on a Koran, wrapped in bacon and wearing a carved out Pig’s head, and you will be more redeemable than making a much-adored character talking smack about “Ethics in [games] Journalism,” something that ­does not fucking exist in Faerun!!

This is the same problem Marvel got when they made Jane Foster into Thorina. A female Thor we didn’t mind. We complained about a female replacement for Thor. There were perfectly vacated Superheroes they can do a Rule 63 on without anyone raising a stink. But they pushed Thorina up against everyone’s faces and said “You’re a misogynist pig if you don’t like it.”

Minsc is intended to be too addled-minded to be interested in politics by design. (That’s a topic best left for Boo, IMHO) Safana is intended to be a tease by design. The whole Forgotten Realms does not have the same environment that our world has or–thank God–the world that Beamdog lives in, by design. Changing that is what got Beamdog in as much hot water, and none other. We don’t care if there’s a trans NPC in Siege of Dragonspear. We do care about Minsc being co-opted by SJW prissants! If that is too much for you to wrap your head around, then I can’t believe that you actually coded that game, because you do not understand the words that are coming out of my mouth.  That, and I have no intention of spending my money for your so-called ‘Game,’ in fact, I wouldn’t even torrent Siege of Dragonspear because it’s not even worth the electrons used in the illegal act.

You are not worth my money, Beamdog.  If this means we’ll never have a Baldur’s Gate III, so bet it.  I have RPG Maker MV, I can get by.

Now then, back to our original programming.

Item:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen; Playing as Justin; 10 Apr 16

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqnA–9Rgwk

Ever heard of the saying, “When opening a door where you know someone’s waiting on the other side, lob in a grenade first to ensure friendly reception?”

That is essentially the first part of this session.  When the party came up to the mill house in Greenrest, they discovered that there is a small group of raiders waiting for them inside.  After a lengthy discussion that took up way too much time, they decided to do a rather modern ‘Breach and Clear’ technique.  I had Justin make up a potion version of the Flash Bang; something I had to add to my character material on the fly.  Justin would toss it in where, when it breaks, creates a blinding light for 30’ and produces a deafening bang, everyone in the room must make a CON Spell Save DC or be stunned for one minute.

Justin would throw in that flash bang potion a la Gauntlet 2 into that mill and have the others take the feebs down.

Fine time to roll a Nat 1, if you ask me.

Fuck You, Murphy.

Fortunately, the other players can pick up the slack, and I got Justin moved to another vantage point so he can snipe.  All in all, I’m developing the Æthercoil Engineer class with Justin here.

The other half of the session, where we dealt with rescuing the clerics of Chantea from a siege-in-progress chapel, moved faster.  That’s where Justin found something that will provide some well-needed character development.  He got a good chunk of magical ore that, when forged into a weapon, will provide an additional offense against Evil-aligned beings—including Dragon Cultists.  Whatever this weapon becomes is up in the air.

I would have it be a gun, but I don’t know if the DM would permit it.

D&D recap; Princes of the Apocalypse; 8 Apr 16

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu6Z4jY2LCk

Oh, I doooo miss this.

I miss laughing my ass off when I’m on the DMs chair.  That’s what I end up doing when I see the party running amok all over my campaign world. In this case the “Eternal Flame” floor of the Temple of the Elements.  (The main multi-level dungeon in Princes of the Apocalypse.)  I wanted the party to have multiple dips in this dungeon, so I wanted several quests in that dungeon.  One of them is getting an orb of dragonkind from Vanifer, the tiefling prophetess of the Cult of Eternal Flame.

The party was able to reach for that orb, but not before some rather lewd, crude, and halfway screwed scenes—you can thank Ardie for this, the way this bard tries to get it on with every possible girl she could see, including Vanifer, which I screwed with her dimension door spell and plopped her right into the tiefling’s lair, and then have Ardie charmed into becoming Vanifer’s thrall for a good five minutes.

All this thinking of how to thwart Denzil and his rules-lawyering and min-maxing.  I looked at any and every challenge with relish, and countering a Rules Lawyer with Thinking Outside of the Box can make for a big meta-challenge.  Rules Lawyer meets Creative Thinker.  And sometimes I get the better of them.

And sometimes they do it to themselves.  They got the orb of dragonkind and they have randomized properties, and the dice rolling shows two different twists:  One, the orb grants proficiency in Performance, which thanks to the Rules Lawyer they stack.  And two, the orb contains the spirit of an elder red dragon—which the dragon who wants that orb wants to destroy—who will think of nothing of possessing the one attuned to the orb and reforming him or her into its new body.

Guess who attuned to that orb.

The bard.

She now has 4X perform, but if she actually performs, she runs the risk of becoming a Chaotic Evil Elder Red Dragon who would one round the party.  Bards need to perform to do anything, including spellcasting.

Not to be outdone, I set up a cliffhanger where Vanifer—who escaped the battle with the Rules Lawyer while I was nerfing that game-breaking scythe—got every other Tom, Dick, and Harriet to surround the party.

Me and Denzil are going to lob mutual assured TPKs at each other, I know it.

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.

D&D report, 2-3 Apr 16

This week was pretty much empty, and I kinda knew this would happen once I woke up on Wendesday.

I can be very punctual on Sessions, even if I need a stomach full of Kickstart to get me going, with one exception, weather.  It takes some very strong weather to get me to cancel something, and they come in two kinds, electrical and icy storms.  I can trudge through rain and snow pretty well, but if it’s raining ice or spitting out lightning bolts every five seconds causing power outages, I call things off.

There was a major storm that delivered three to four power outages on Wednesday, thank the Gods for surge suppressors.  But it was enough for me to move the last session of Death House til today (6 Apr 15)

The two DM sessions were also a wash, and I would have to say that the Thursday session is finished.  The collection of players were reduced to below four, which is my minimum for a decent campaign, and since it was during the second part of Dreams of the Red Wizards, it wouldn’t be proper to add new players because of all the backstory they have to go through first.  So my Thursday table is canceled until further notice.  I’m currently looking for a replacement campaign and I might use this opportunity to playtest Living Parnast with it.

The two PC tables

Saturday:  Lost Mine of Phandelver, playing as Linka
Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgzYvb07m3s

Sunday:  Hoard of the Dragon Queen, playing as Justin
Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg7rbON5K2w

In both videos, even though I was pretty much into the game, you can tell that I was being naughty in the latter events.  Such as my tendency to troll the table.  Inspired by the dreaded Elk Incident, I tried to play some video (and one soundboard) to hear over the Teamspeak.   You’ll probably hear it better on the video because I record my voice through a webcam.  (It might be the cause of the sometimes shoddy quality of the sound, I’ll rectify that once I get the funds.)

I have to admit that I find myself more engaged when I’m in the DM’s chair.  In that position I need to fully engage myself in the gameplay and don’t have the need to distract myself when it’s ‘not my turn.’  As a PC, I do, especially in encounters where you track initiative.  (Sometimes I even space out, something I always find embarrassing.)  Later on when the session goes into the third or fourth hour, I even tend to start multitasking when things that needed to be done pop up which can’t be ignored.

I hope to improve on that in time, especially when I’m now saving these tables for prosperity’s sake.  Maybe I should have a side view with a sketchboard so I can draw some sketches on the scenes found on the table.  Or something that’s more connected.

Either that of find out how to Teamspeak Troll better.  Heh heh heh.

Weekend Report, 27-28 Mar 16

Saturday Table, playing as Linka, Lost Mine of Phandelver, 27 Mar 16

Stream:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kjq7CfRWmLY

LinkaSketch10I wanted to delve more into Linka Windstorm’s character in this session.  However, there was some traveling salesman wanting to switch my energy supplier.  Note to those who need to work in that particular vocation:  Allow people to reschedule or have a card where you can apply online.  Some of us would be busy when you knock on our door. Like having dinner, or streaming a D&D session!

Linka is similar in nature to a certain famous Pandafolk Brewmaster (or rather Pandaren, and now she shakes her ample booty now since Blizzard committed the sin of caving to SJWs, on top of trying to get me addicted to Warcrack!  The company can blaspheme the Holy Ghost and be more redeemable in my sight now.) who’s not far from her ever flowing barrel of her homemade brew.  A brew she’d just looove to share with her crew, even to the point where she holds drinking contests with anyone in the tavern in Phandelver.  Makes for excellent opportunity for gathering information, which she does so with relish.  She also ranked third in the subsequent drinking contest.

The rest of the session dealt with facing the Redbrands directly, so they charged right into the hideout and took everyone out.  At this time, I was wondering how to play the game, and it deals with whatever or not treasure is combined or just claimed by whoever gets at it first.  Linka at this time is just someone who wanted to make sure that her needs are taken care off—and that she can keep buying the needed brew that she’s constantly drinking (Which comes in handy since she’s sharing tank duty, much to the chagrin of Linka’s poor hit points.  At Level 3, she can spend a ki point to get THP).

She’s also very boisterous, as illustrated at the start of the session, where she greeted the newcomer with a brew and a bear hug.  Then there’s the moment where she slapped someone in the back so she can get him to taste her custom draft.  This comes to no surprise then, when they found that waterproof satchel in the cistern (Area 1 on your maps) she just swan dived into the water, getting the satchel for herself and shaking off the water from her fur like a dog.  (She did the same to several pouches from the riff raff and a red cloak she thought was cute.)

I only wished that I wasn’t acting so autistic during this session, but then again, that damned telemarketer threw off my train of thought.

Sunday Table, Playing as Justin, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, 28 Jun 16

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktdbdr5TvUY

I labeled the Video with a Caution, “Drama Ahead.”  I don’t use it in a denigrating tone, though.  Over the course of a day, someone gets emotional out of no thought of their own, and causes an otherwise decent session to get derailed.  I liken them as thunderstorms in interpersonal relations; it’s best to just lie low and let it blow over since you’re not a direct part of it.

This particular drama dealt with the splitting of the party since last week.  If it weren’t for the split, I would’ve told the NPCs to hold up so that the others can catch up, but Claire wanted to lead them to the keep, while the others were still interrogating the goblin.  Justin made a snap decision and went with Claire.

“Lathander told me to guide them to the keep, that’s all I have to say,” Justin said in his defense and just held his peace from there on out.  He managed to ignore the berating from the other party members (IMHO, both parties were in the right.) until Ildar’s mention of hamsters and Tail-Chasing caused him to fall on the ground laughing.  (The two must really like each other by all the bickering they give each other.)

Claire, however, went into what some might call histrionics in defending her actions.  Up to the point of salt.  When cussing on the table is heard, you can be sure that the Roleplaying has gone into Drama territories.  So much so that the poor player has been kicked out of the party afterward.  Regretful.  Justin really liked Claire.

The rest of the session proved a lot smoother thanks to hindsight and the lack of having to escort NPCs.  Justin managed to surprised people by showing a bit of healing magic combined with his usual engineering.  (If you haven’t seen his sheet. Justin got his connection to the arcane Weave through divine means, and while learning how to draw on this energy, he learned Cure Wounds and Healing Word, both of which may prove useful in a pinch.  There’s a chance that he’ll be a second healer in the party next week.

The main problem with the session wasn’t the drama, but the battle with the pair of Rat Swarms.  We were bottlenecked in a tunnel and weren’t properly prepared for battling swarms.  Justin had to use his healing skills in the encounter, which proved more useful than his hand crossbow.  He’ll make a note to find some other options for next week:

Chris Perkins brand Green Flame™ Alchemist Fire, anyone?

 

Death House, Encounters, 23 Mar 16

The second part of the Death House adventure kept going without much of a hitch, until we got to the part where the parents of the house was discovered as Ghasts (Room 34 in your documents.)  The dragonborn found out the hard way that the Ghast’s innate stench is made out of methane.

In other words, the DM wanted a Big Boom!  In an enclosed space.  The party was grateful that the treasure wasn’t burnt by the way.

At least during the now expected raiding of the place, they done so while getting the mortal remains of Rose and Thorn to a proper burial in the crypt below the house.  In my campaign, I give out Action Points instead of Inspiration on the table, so I made a different reward for them:  I let Rose give them a gun that shoots bullets that come out silvered (will use any normal bullets that they can buy in Barovia and Baldur’s Gate) and Thorn hands out a silvered rapier, both with an elegant floral theme.

Item:  Fixing the Experience Points problem

With Death House, I start with an experiment to deal with a problem with 5th Edition right now.  As some podcasts will attest, Wizards didn’t work much on this area.  This will present a problem, especially for those who like to keep a running score on Experience, like myself.  So I’m working on something to improve on this:

As some of you know, there are three important pillars in a Tabletop Roleplaying Game:  Combat, Interactions, and Exploration.  At its current virgin setting, 5th Edition only awards XP for Combat; which is used to create a difficulty setting for the encounter.  Wizards didn’t account for the other two pillars.  In fact, most of those in Wizards use the Milestone system or even flat out Hand Wave stuff.

xp matrix

For some of us who uses the Score system, we needed to include a way to award XP for the other two pillars, and I’m starting with a spreadsheet where I use a) the amount of XP needed to progress to the next level and b) the combination of the character level and the proficiency bonus to compute a benchmark level for reaching an important location, successfully finding a certain object or talking to a NPC, or achieving various side quests.  (Look at playthroughs of Tom Clancy’s The Division to find out what I’m talking about) The spreadsheet is by no means perfect, but it’s something for me to start with.

With Death House, I knew that the party needed to get to 3rd Level at the end, so I took 900 XP and divided it among the various goals the party have to go through to get to that point.  This is added on top of the XP the party gains by combat.

This deals with the main problem the standard way to progress has, especially in Expeditions:  As Lex Starwalker said, Houit would take two modules to get to 2nd Level.  Me?  You’d needn’t have to go through more than one session to get to 300 points, and sometimes you get there in the middle of the module.

I’ll let you know about the progress of my experience system.

Item: My development of Barovia

As you know, I’m remixing Barovia to give my more experienced players a new twist on I6 Ravenloft 2016…ahem…Curse of Strahd. I have a lot of inspiration on how I imagine the module, which is markedly different from what Tracy and Laura Hichman’s imagined.  When I thought about Vampires, I don’t think of Bram Stoker, or—thank GOD—Stephanie Meyer, whom Strahd would want to personally show what a vampire would really be like.  (I see him reducing that author into a mind-numbed maid that he orders around like a living puppet, only existing for him to feed on.) I think of Anne Rice, Angel, and Forever Knight.  These three series are the inspiration on where I’m going to be taking Strahd, someone who has come to terms with his Vampirism and finds a noble use for it.  I’ll tell you more in blog posts as the Encounters party goes through my take on Curse of Strahd.

There is another source of inspiration behind my take on Ravenloft, and it might not surprise some about Wizard’s involvement with this particular world in their other flagship brand.

Shadows-over-Innistrad
Avacyn’s resolve is tested…FUCK!

Shadows over Innistrad returns Magic: The Gathering to their own version of Ravenloft, which has become my top Inspiration to Barovia as a whole.  I see my version of Ravenloft occur 20 something years after the timeframe after I6 Ravenloft, and such the mist-bordered world there has developed from a scared and oppressed Dread Plane that imprisons Strahd as much as the denizens there alike.

My version of Ravenloft is a world close to Innistrad than an actual Dread Plane, a gothic world where the humans are faced with wave after wave of Werewolves, Zombies, Vampires, Ghosts, and even the occasional Frankenstein Monster.  (Note to self:  Throw a Frankie or two in my Barovia.) There are two deities that still in force there, The Morninglord (Lathander) and Mother Night (Selune), to provide a bulwark for the humans to strive against the evils of this land.  Some people, however, still manage to lose their hope and become soulless shell of their former selves, fading to black and white and being no more alive than the zombies and ghosts they succumb to.  But the majority of the NPCs the party will encounter are sturdier souls.  They adapted to their environment so that they not just exist in this dark world but actually thrive in the world.  In fact, the linked story is as much a part of Barovian life, as the Cloud and the Sun is for Justin Mercurial.  (More on that later.)

Most Barovians believe, much like those in Innistrad, in “The Eternal Sleep,” where their ultimate reward for a virtuous and vigilant life is not to have an afterlife, but to have a restful “sleep” after death—tranquil oblivion, or perhaps oneness with everything; rather than becoming a tormented spirit, mutilated corpse, undead abomination, or vampire drone.

There are even worse fates in my table.  I had a “Dark Powers” mechanic long before Curse of Strahd.

In fact, like in Innistrad, Barovians use, “May you spend an eternity in the ground” as a common blessing.  The beliefs are that similar.

Because of this, some businesses have reappeared in Barovia.  There’s already a printing house that produces books, tarokka decks, and newsletters.  An inn, general store, and smith is already added to the standard map, and you’ll find a lot of additional NPC from many other realms.  (Since the official take on Ravenloft is that this realm can connect to any other realm, expect to see some Living Parnast and Æthercoil references in here.

In closing, I’d like to add one more thing:  There is a very popular book in the village:  Interview with the Count by Ireena Kolyana.  She wrote this book while she was with Strahd, and found more about who he is behind “The Devil” and learns all she could about Vampires.  The story between all the info dumps on Vampires makes this book an improvement over Rudolph van Richten’s Guide to Vampires.  This makes Ireena very well known in town, so much that she became [REDACTED].  Although some folk are still wary of her; after all, she is still one of Strahd’s favorites.

And this ain’t even the biggest twist!

PC Session: Hoard of the Dragon Queen, 20 Mar 16

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdaaJ6EaWX0

I’d like to thank Spacehamzter Boo for the copy of Tabletop Simulator, which this campaign uses.  He’s always been inviting me to play at this venue for some time, but I haven’t had the funds for it.  As far as initial verdict goes, it’ll never replace Roll20.  It has a much better interface, especially for Job #1 in a venue, Dice Rolling, but the visuals in Tabletop Simulator are off the charts.  I might use this to illustrate gameplay.  However, I’ll stick with Roll20.  Besides, I can invite new players and they didn’t have to pay anything to jump in and play.

In this campaign, we’re going through the Tyranny of Dragons storyline, and I’ll be playing Justin Mercurial in this campaign.  As some will know, and I’m saying this to remind myself to do the rest of the proofreading, Justin is the patron NPC in the Living Parnast series.  He’s an artificer who’s going to revolutionize the Realms with his inventions.  In this campaign, he’s considerably younger, and he’s with Ildar…yes, that Ildar…to investigate some Sundering-related rifts in the Realms, one of which he fell through.  The Attack on Titan image on top is there because I see him dressed similarity to Levi.  Only with better hair, a nicer personality, and a mechanical mimic instead of that ultra-cool 3D Maneuver Kit, which he might be constructing during this campaign.

(I’ll be making illos on both Young Justin and Linka sometime this week)

It didn’t take me long to be in character during this first session, and it’s not because of his stutter:  He got 25 XP just for snoring during Ildar’s introduction.  The paladin’s attitude toward the young artificer doesn’t appeal to Justin anyway, which will create some interesting friction (and some comedy from “The Luggage.”  Yes, the trained Mimic is in the game as well.) Thankfully, the other worshipper of Lathander, Claire Valentine, is friendlier, and the two decided to run off to guide the family rescued early in the session while the others went on for glory, combat, and eventual fails.

That explains the meandering I was doing later on in the session, since I was in the split-off party in the second combat.  I had my own defense in my actions:  We were supposed to rescue innocent people from danger.  Unspoken is that Justin and Claire like each other.  Whatever their relationship goes anywhere is still up in the air.

http://foxfirestudios.net