D&D recap, 9-11 Mar 2016

Every now and then you run into times there nothing really comes out like you planned.  For me, this week was one of those times.

Item:  Encounters; Mar 9

The intro graphic pretty much says it all.

I had a very beloved group of baddies to throw at my party on Wednesday, a Monster group inspired by Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Tea Party, complete with appropriate characters, and planned for an epic and likable encounter to have a remarkable pause in this campaign for Death House.

Hypnotic Sphere, Hunger of Hadar, and two Fireballs.

The encounter lasted less than five minutes.

Inside, I was dying.  At least I intend on still using this NPC party for my Living Parnast series.  More on that later.

I managed to get the group into the Labyrinth chapter where they got to the Portable Fortress and acquired it.  That will lead them up to a major scene with their second (or third, depending on who you ask) Demon Lord encounter.

But for now, we’re going through the Death House adventure, and I hope by God I can finally get my hands on Curse of Strahd during that time.

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards, Mar 10

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsMdCoUCo_Y  (Edit: I can not upload entire videos without breaking them into 15-min intervals.  You’d think they’d let me know about this.)

Infiniscene had a beta moment, but I was still able to stream from it.

This session was the first of the Dead in Thay storyline, and the first time I was able to field test the NPC Party moving around.  I have each party have a count of 50, as they take the elemental nodes that the party didn’t pick.  I drew from the on-board card deck on Roll20 to emulate their progress.  I only counted 2-10 cards, showing no progress on Faces and Aces.  I have to admit that I need to take it easy on them because I saw a lot of aces, and I first had it that an Aces means a member of that party died.  Something I wouldn’t know until I field tested the mechanic, right?

I had to admire the party for their ingenuity.  As much as it annoys me that some well-thought-out monsters get one-rounded, I like it when the party uses stealth to move around creatures, and this session, you can see the party evade pretty much everyone in the Earth Node, save for one Thayan who was too close.  I gave everyone 2K in XP because of this.

The rest of the campaign dealt with the Lich, Tarul Var.  I used the Monster Manual for the stats, which included legendary actions and everything.  At least I can console myself with the reality that I really can make a prolonged battle with one creature, at least until the time limit where I had Isteval and Company arrive.

I finished the session with the decision on Baazka and the blade on his side.  One of the party was genre savvy because they’ve gone through Dead in Thay before:  He pushed the blade in, banishing Baazka.

He’s going to remember that.

Item:  Princes of the Apocalypse, 11 March

Infiniscene was really on the fritz on Friday, so much so that I couldn’t even stream with it.  Which was sad because some awesome scenes, and the introduction of a new player, Nathan, who was in games streamed by Starwalker Studios.  He said he’ll give me a good word for them, hoping that I’d end up in a game there.  Nice to know that some networking is going on.

Which is more than I can say for Thulwar, the necromancer with the OPed summon.  Everyboth, including the player of Thulwar, Denzil, agreed, so I decided to give him a proper send-off.

Cue six Elder Fire Elementals and Imix standing around Thulwar over a bridge over lava, while every cultist in the Shrine of Eternal Flame doing The Halls of Castamere.

And thanks to Roll20’s Random Number Generator deciding to be a total bastard this night, it didn’t even last as long as the Red Wedding!

Fortunately for Denzil, he had a secondary character, unfortunately for me he rolled up a Tiefling Warlock who likes to use Witchbolt and Darkness in a combo.  He’s one of those players who likes to match wits with the DM.  No problem, I have a mechanic I created just for the occasion:  Mana Kicking.

Inspired by the Magic: the Gathering Kicker mechanic, it’s a way to game the Spell Points variant you can find in pages 288-289 in the Dungeon Master’s Guide:  You cast a spell like you would normally, but after casting it, you can kick in an extra spell point for additional purposes.  Casting a spell with a higher Spell Level is only one of these purposes. More will appear at a time most benefiting those I’m throwing at the players.  Read:  There’s going to be some shocked people, and come short cussing from Denzil.

Which will make me happy that I don’t have my web cam on while I’m playing, for I’ll be showing a lot of shit-eating grins.

Afternotes

I’m still not done with the Mad Tea Party, although they’re not going to be in my Encounters table.  I need to speed through Out of the Abyss once Death House is completed.  But they’ll come into play in my Living Paranst series, during their Rage of Demons chapter.  I’ll also be working on the Mana Kicking and NPC party progression as I go.

Last of all for this report, I got back with Infiniscene and they told me that they fixed up the problems I had.  I appreciate that kind of assistance with their streaming service, and they definitely got a customer with me.

Now then, if I can get some income to pay for this bill on top of the others…oh well.

D&D recap, week of 2-4 Mar 16

I had an appointment on Thursday afternoon so I only had two sessions this week.

Item: Encounters, Out of the Abyss, 2 Mar

I would’ve made this a tougher encounter, the Beholder encounter over at the Vast Oblivium, but I knew that there’s going to be a lot more campaign going on. Enough campaign for me to change my tactics and create more abbreviated sessions where I skip over the travel from area to area.

Maybe I shouldn’t stretch the transitions out like I did here, to show the progress from one point to another. Lesson learned? Perhaps, but then again, there’s a reason why I designed the Travel Track engine to speed up travel: I take some shuffled playing cards and line them up in a row. The party goes from one end to the other card by card, black means keep going, red means something happens. I created this for Living Parnast, and it will be needed for the Encounters table, no doubt.

Next session will show the final stage of the aforementioned Alice insanity that some of the NPCs in this campaign have fallen into: The Court. That’s when a group of people who have their identities transformed into the characters in the Lewis Carrol novel get together, create their own perpetual tea party, and crank the Faerzress in the Underdark up past eleven and into the twenties. The party runs into this Court because someone in the party wanted the Dawnbringer weapon, and I had to modify the Lost Tomb of Kharem in order to give the party a challenge in getting it.

I just hope I didn’t throw them into the wolves with my custom fluff.

The next session will create a pause of Out of the Abyss because I wanted to have the Death House adventure in March, which will lead into the Curse of Strahd campaign. This will take about three weeks, after which I’ll finish up Out of the Abyss and just do the main encounters of the module before moving on to Curse of Strahd. With luck, I can start on that campaign in June, which will give me some time, during the two months delay, to tweak the campaign to my style of DMing.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, 4 Mar

Exported Stream: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxfwgBNj56THvUA9y-8WxkxN

Ever sat down on what you’d think will be one of the better streams on record, only to have it blow up in your face because someone said something that created a hyuge drama? Happened to me tonight.

I don’t blame anyone on when this happens, especially when I had no control over the situation. I’m just the idiot behind the screen, I have no control over what comes out of the other players’ mouths, and I certainly didn’t see any of the newer players that got invited in settling into the table and using Call of Duty type behavior to break the ice. At first I thought it was weird that someone pulled out a $20 bill from an ATM and noticed white powder from it; in afterthought, I would’ve gone, “Hey, drop that bill, isn’t that how The Division got started? I don’t want you dying IRL in mid-stream!”

However, I would have to channel my Steve Rogers and go “Language, kiddies! We’re in a public stream,” when a returning player used a non-PC term to get friendly with another wizard. You’ll hear it early in the exported stream, which I had neither the technology or the desire to edit. Never had, never will. Sure, it’s used as a cordial greeting, but it’s clearly a bit past the boundaries. Note: The returning player—Denzil* by name—just got out of Basic Training, and I have a rule that, if you’re actively serving or a Vet, and want to play D&D in my table, I automatically invite you in. It ain’t every day I get to support the armed forces, and squeezing one in will be my best way to do so.

But “For Gosh Sakes, Watch Your Language!” There may be children present. Or recruits.

However, it was enough for some of my players to storm out of the game. Leaving me to sigh while scrambling to salvage the session. It consisted of the first part of the Scarlet Moon Hall scene with a big multi-stage encounter that led the party into interrupting in all intents and purposes The Wicker Man.

Then Denzil decided to raise two of the cultists that wasn’t getting pulverized into goo into his zombies. Regardless of what kind of DM I am, I doubt that any of the cults, including the Cult of the Eternal Flame, would’ve stand by and let that happen. Strahd von Zarovich might. But not Vanifer. She’s going to be locked on to that poor unsuspecting (??) necromancer and his once-a-session Monster Chunking Game Breaking Death Knight.

I almost had it in the second campaign where I had Elizar Dryflagon and his remaining cultists send fireball after fireball into the wizard’s head, almost killing him. In the end, the party had to flee before it was time to re-roll another character, which means that Elizar will have a Round 2 to prepare, and ooooh, will he prepare. He knows what he’s going up against, and he knows how to deal with such a creature. We’re going to have fun this coming Friday, drama notwithstanding.

Coming back to the drama. I wish these things don’t happen as often as it were, and I do my best to be as accommodating to different player styles as possible. All I ask is that the players don’t intentionally be total jerks; in fact, I quote Will Wheaton’s Law twice in my rules for just this reason. Of course, there’s the factor of people not knowing what’s would be inappropriate to another player until after the fact. Even if you try not to be offensive as a rule, mistakes will happen. (In fact, the quickest way to offend me is to bend over backwards not to be offensive and ‘College Safe’ all the time. My D&D table should be a place where people are safe to explore ideas, not be spared from them. Again another idea behind Living Parnast.)

The people who left cared very deeply about the lore they were building about their characters and felt that said lore were being ripped to shreds by the temporarily “Call of Duty” emulation. If there were enough time and cooler heads, I’d like to have a short discussion on how the different character lore can be, at the very least, peacefully co-exist. Or if that doesn’t work, have a secondary character made up that you can replace your first character with that is more palatable. Likewise, with Rule Lawyering, the bane of some people’s gaming experiences. Me, I don’t mind people looking up the rules on occasion, keeps me honest. I will request that, if you have a rule question or contradiction, make it a private message. ( /w gm [Insert Rule Correction Here] )  I’ll make the correction in the roleplay.

I only wish that I didn’t have to contend with people rage quitting because of something I didn’t have much control over. At least they didn’t see me any less of a DM, so I can count this up as the trials and tribulations of a successful Dungeon Master.

Here’s hoping that this next week is better. Although I feel like destroying something beautiful now. Another Pit Fiend, anyone?

  • I plugged in the wrong name before.  I got it fixed now.

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

Video Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxcj1E88DBg_ola5EEKSm03p

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

Video Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxeuz37F2Mf-qB61VRkfZa9V

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.

About Legendary Actions

I need to give everyone playing a bit of a heads-up about this rules tweek, effective since Encounters:  If a creature has Legendary Actions, be aware that they can use these actions as a Reaction–even after they used their once/turn Reaction–and even Ready a Legendary Action in between player’s actions.  I feel the need to make the Legendary Encounters a bit tougher, and the best way to do that is to make the Legendary Actions happen a bit more unexpectedly.

The Story of Count Strahd, Foxfire Editon

I’ve earlier seen the stream of the Daytona 500, and I have to say that I had my cardio for the day.  That was the closest win I’ve ever seen, just about a pencil’s length.  I had to lie down for an hour or two after seeing it.  Whoa!

Two Afterthoughts though:  One, I was really expecting ‘the Big One’ all throughout the last 30 laps or so, and Two…..why?  Oh WHY?  Did they allow that Tire Dipping @$$hole Jeff Gordon commentating?!?!?!  He can’t even announce a race without cheating!  That mike on his head ain’t even black, for Christ’s Sakes!

But anyway, I should really tell you this tale.  You might know of the famous ‘Tome of Strahd‘ story that is famous in Ravenloft.  However, in the version I’m writing, which I’ll be putting into the Death House adventure this coming March, it’s going to be a little different.

Here’s the in-campaign world version of Count Strahd von Zarovich’s origin story, as told by none other than Madam Eva:

D&D_Ravenloft_GooglePlus-Header

“Count Strahd von Zarovich wasn’t always a vampire, just as he wasn’t always the evil boogyman that your parents warned you about to keep you from misbehaving. He was at first a Noble Knight, on par with the late Duke Adrian. He founded his kingdom with a firm but velvet hand, striking down evil wherever he found it until he founded his own land, Barovia, a prosperous barony under the sun. The people respected him, but due to his actions, he was also feared and age has weakened him from his prime.

Hoping to establish a future for his land, he called on his younger brother, Sergei von Zarovich, to come and provide a transition to where he will rule after his death. Sergei brought with him his beloved, Tatyana, whom Strahd thought was the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. What he lacked in age and strength, he made up for in gentlemanly grace and a romantic soul that just drew the pair to his mansion. Did they make a trio? Who knows.

But that time was cut short with an ambush of an enemy Strahd thought was long defeated, killing Sergei and kidnapping Tatyana to be sacrificed for their dark gods. Strahd was, understandingly so, distraught, and in his despair and desire for vengeance cried out to anyone who can hear him.

And someone answered. A being of noble darkness, with pale white skin and eyes as black as midnight. He offered a pact with the old Strahd, an offer of power and of eternal live, so that he can rescue his beloved Tatyana. There was a price to be paid, of course, a price of blood, and that the darkness that enveloped this being, this…Sorin…will envelop the count as well. Even with the risks, Strahd agreed to the pact, sealing it in blood.

It would be the last sunset in Barovia, for as Strahd sealed his pack, turning him into a being we know as a vampire, the first vampire, the Mists of Ravenloft enveloped the barony, spiriting it away from where lands it came from.

By the time Tatyana’s captors realized what was going on, it was too late, they couldn’t ran away from where Strahd found them, because the mists sent them back to where they began. In time, they were all empty husks, for Strahd hunted them down and sucked them all dry.

Tatyana was safe, but if Strahd had any hopes that the fair maiden could be his, and that maybe an immortal vampire could be in place of his late brother, it was cruelly dashed. Tatyana was horrified with what Strahd has become, even though it was made to save her life. She fled from Strahd, and ran into the mists, never to be seen again.

Strahd knew that a price had to be paid, but he didn’t expect it to be so dire. His heart broken and his soul as much a blackened husk as his victims, he fled to his Castle Ravenloft and sealed the doors behind him.

And so began the legend of the Dread Vampire. The many stories of adventurers he had as playthings, the women he wooed into his embrace and experience his…kiss, the cautionary tales of darkness claiming people and souls, and of this mist carrying those who do Evil away into realms that they can never hope to escape from. If they were all written in these books, there will be no room in the Upper City for people.

Now then, children. You might pray to your gods to keep the Mists of Ravenloft away from you, and hope that your good and pure heart can be a bulwark against the darkness. But I need to tell you this as a precaution. The Mists have their own way, and their own reasons. Nobody knows what makes the Mists take someone and spirit you away. But we do know one thing about the Mists: Your Patriars and Duke has found the Mist’s presence in the Sunset Mountains, and inside the area of the mists is a village and a castle. Also, as I have arrived in this city, I have heard that the Mists has claimed a house in the Lower City as well, an old haunted house in the Bloombridge District.

The Mists of Ravenloft have come to Faerun.”

 

Princes of the Apocalypse: 19 Feb 16

Item: Corrections in the previous post.

I had to make some corrections to the previous recap of Dreams of the Red Wizards, thanks to Zikuan, the player on the table that is playing Axel. (Yes the bunnygirl bot cleric)

Item: Death House update

I managed to write all of the twists I wanted to make in the Curse of Strahd launch events, and even took in some suggestions from Lex Starwalker to ensure that I do not have a surprise TPK during the event. Starting this week, you’ll be seeing some of my tweaks to this coming season, which will have their effects, not just in my customized Realms, but in the more canonized Living Parnast as well.

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse

Trigger Warning: Voice Chat Harassment

URL of Youtube Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxcpR116VraLAM2BYaoRz8rU (Please let me know if I need to improve the audio more. I’ll be too busy preparing the next week’s sessions and sprucing up LP01-01, thank you in advance.)

Just when I thought that the adventure has been slowed down somewhat.

I did a slight retcon and said that the party managed to get to Beliard to get the greater restoration to poor Nightblade’s catnip addition. Once that chore was over, they party then returned to the water dungeon, otherwise known as ‘The Scene of the Crime,’ to get that water weapon.

I had it so that the weapon is protected by a pair of locks, each needing a key that’s on opposite ends of the dungeon. The got the first one that was guarded by a sleeping, then turned, beholder zombie with little to no problem.

Then they tried to cross the map to the opposite end.

In the middle of the map they encountered some Green Hags that attempted to use their baleful glare to kill some frightened player (they almost succeeded)

Then the druid thought he’d wild shape into a Giant Elk.

That was when someone who I’ll keep nameless decided to play this video. Over and over and over again.

Cue the second derailment in a row. We were all falling out of our chairs laughing. Some even called this session even better than the last one, where drugs were involved.

(Personal Note: In between belly juggling laughs, I was thinking to myself that this is what I was needed and missing in my previous attempts to get a presence in the tubes. If you’ve seen me for a long time, you’ll know how poorly I fared when making web comics. I wanted to get a response that will get me laughing like what I’m doing, and keep encouraging me to continue. I didn’t get that from deviantART, to say the least. I’m getting that in Roll20, Twitch, and hopefully feedback from Google+ on my D&D projects. This is why I made the switch in my plans for my life.)

I closed the session on a cliffhanger. The second guardian of the key was a Red Dragon. Young Red Dragon, because I didn’t want a TPK right away. At first he didn’t want to parlay, especially with that preaching Paladin of Lathander. But a successful CHA check later, and the Dragon agreed to a game of chance for the key.

Isn’t that a good cliffhanger or what? I really need to think about what to throw at the shlebs. Especially the one who was blowing Elk Calls for about an hour during this session.

Dreams of the Red Wizards Recap; 18 Feb 16

Before I get to the recap, some update notes:

Item: The Curse of Strahd Launch Event.

Thanks to Dragon+, I was able to download the Launch Event PDF, Death House, which I’ll be running in Hero’s Hideout, and possibly later on in Roll20. I’m happy to report that I’ve already added my embellishment to the module. Granted, I haven’t changed the main part of the module itself, but I did change the location of the Death House, using my concept I mentioned earlier about bringing Ravenloft to you, and not you to Ravenloft. I’ll show some of my changes for the Curse of Strahd season later on in my blog, but I can tell you right now that there’s a haunted house in Baldur’s Gate (Mandorcai’s Mansion, by name) that’s really going to get a solid trashing. Both by the Mists of Ravenloft and by moi.

Item: Video Export Kaizen

It’s come to my attention that the player’s voices are a bit too quiet for the videos, which is what one of those players have told me. While I couldn’t do anything for this post’s stream, I did make a bit of a correction, by adjusting the chat volume on Teamspeak. Hopefully this fixes the problem for tomorrow’s post. Special thanks to Spacehampzter for pointing this out to me, and I hope that he will continue to find things that needs fixing, because even though I keep an eye out everywhere myself…I’m just one man.

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards

Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxfzpMohAba3htiQlZB69GGk

How do you get a bunch of adventurers who don’t claim to be heroes to go do something heroic?

That’s the question I had to ask myself in the middle of this session.

By now the area between Daggerford and Waterdeep is going to hell. This will especially be apparent when they come to the end of the session. By now, the Thayans have opened a link from Thay’s Doomvault—an installation of great necromantic power in the Magocracial country—to the Firehammer Hold in the Sword Coast, and the Red Wizards are beginning to spread their undead to bring Faerun down to chaos, using their necromantic magic that uses the worst parts of both the classic magical source and stupid zombies and the virus-type spread and fast zombies.

I want to have the campaign transition to Dead in Thay where the party heads over to defeat the Red Wizards, hopefully once and for all. I gave them multiple examples of how the zombies will spread all over the world if they don’t do something about it. I even had Syranna show up in this session and told them that they need to head to the Doomvault, take out a lich, and have a big reward of being a part of a land of great leaning and power…

…and all they say is “What’s in it for us?” Some of them even say that they’ll just move away when the zombies come, and you know how far south that turns out.

You can hear me groaning over the playlist.

In the end, I had Syranna give them anti-undead weapons and 1000 Plat to give them enough incentive.

That was enough for them to at the very least drag them into the latter parts of this campaign.

The party returned to Firehammer Hold and made it to the trap in Room 18 (Deep Duerra Cave). I had the trap replaced with something that looks innocuous, but is a whole lot sinister. Our bunny girl cleric, Axel, PTSD running through her circuitry, decided to touch it, with the intention of using it for some purpose or another.

The crystal teleports her to Room 25, alone, where she saw this:

This room has a corner fireplace that has a mantle adorned with a carving of a sword surrounded by two spiraling flames, actual flames that twist and bend in an unknowable pattern, over which a broken crossbow bolt that has been painted in blood that is still dripping down into the reddish fire. In the southeastern part of the room sit a large bed and a chest. A tall cabinet and an orante desk with a high-backed chair stand near the north wall. All of the furniture looks warped and transformed to resemble an abomination of flesh and bone. Many metal instruments and glass containers are thrown everywhere, including a burner, spoons, bottles, flasks, and alembics. In the northeastern corner, still bound by shackles, is Jekk.

Or rather, half of Jekk, from the waist up. His guts are hanging off of his cavity where he was sliced in two.

That’s what you would’ve seen, of course, if it weren’t for the Pit Fiend standing in front of you, with a shit-eating grin, saying, “I just knew you’d come.”

What happened next would be the most awesome play that I had to wave off:

With the use of Lucky and an Action Point, she was able to throw the Card of Balance (one of the Cyphers that I gave them) at the Pit Fiend.

The fiend would’ve turned into an Angel, a polar flip on their alignment: Just like the card said.

Then Axel did the similar attack…with a clone cypher, making two such angels.

That would’ve been the most awesome maneuver I have ever seen, something that would really make me stop the session so I can think up something to work from this…..

….then someone else claimed that they had the Cyphers in question, not Axel.

There was an argument, and I made my own DM’s call in the best way I know how: A coin flip.

….which fell against Axel.

Ever seen a big game-changing touchdown play get called back because someone Held? It was like that.

Needless to say, the Pit Fiend wasn’t happy with the retcon, and proceeded to pummel the poor little bunny into oblivion. She was sent flying into a hallway while the other party touched the teleportation stone to join in what will probably be their eventual ass-whooping.

But I’ve seen parties take out Kaiju in little more than one round, so I’m not counting the TPK until I succeed.

But man, if that coin would’ve fell the other way….talk about your ‘what could have been.’ It’s those times that I really appreciate being a DM. (It certainly not trying to poke at my players to get a move on, is it?)

Encounters Recap: 17 Feb 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week of 7-13 Feb 16, part 3

Item: Princes of the Apocalypse, 12 Feb 16

Video Export: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxeR6pKmTJvFEUMmFR9lWYSG

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

 

Week of 7-13 Feb 16, part 2

Item: Youtube Stream Saves

It took me a long way to get to this point, longer than I care to think about, but I’m now going to save my streams—an important suggestion—to from twitch to YouTube. You’re now able to see previous streams, and I added YouTube to the main directory.

The reason why it took this long for me to do this are twofold. At first, I thought that twitch saves about two weeks’ worth of streams already. They do so, but not publicly. They must’ve known that I’d be screwing up on the streaming. The second part is that I’ve been screwing up on streaming. It took me a while for me to get the streaming set-up right. I had major problems with OBS because I lack the power in a single machine to do everything. However, I still have an older machine (a five-year-old dual core) and a notebook that doubles as my computer screen, which I inherited last year.

I now have all three machines sending to Infiniscene. My main machine (the AMD A8 with a dual screen) is sending the Roll20 table and my voice over a web cam. My tablet is doing the Teamspeak work, sending audio from the other players, and my dual core is doing the controls and monitoring the Twitch Chat. Using these three machines with the Charter internet, (I’m still jazzed about how fast I was able to download Japan’s Sasuke (The original Ninja Warrior) 2015 at a rate of 1 Meg a second; that video was 6 Gigs large!) I’m finally able to create a stream that’s good enough for me to actually save for the web. I’ll be doing so starting this week.

As you would expect, and I expected this as well, that my forway into live streaming my D&D is going to be sketchy at first. I just didn’t count on it being that sketchy. There was some days that I just didn’t have the capacity for it. However, I was able to kaizen (another word from Japan, it means ‘constant improvement,’) it out to this point. Some might dislike me using the word as a verb, but in my (autistic, remember?) mind, that’s what I’ve been doing. In artwork, in my DMing, in my stream; granted, some days are better than others, last Thursday being one of the better ones, but I’m happy that I’m actually progressing forward, and look forward to more.

Item: Dreams of the Red Wizards, dated 11 Feb 16

Video: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSdRcjIHCSxcqDx_kjfBUllhMiIwpOk3w

Two points of interest here up ahead. With an additional trigger warning for today and tomorrow: Drug use.

In my version of the Forgotten Realms. In fact, I’m calling it for every realm I use or make: Cannabis is legal! Legal and readably used. It’s used in making rope, weaving textiles, making paper, producing medicine, and a cornucopia of other uses, on top of people smoking it and getting stoned. Deal. With. It.

The second points of interest concerned an early encounter for my Thursday group. You can tell that either I’m getting serious or you’ve finally pissed off Random Number Jesus when I start tossing dragons your way. It started with a Young Green Dragon, who was told by the Cult of the Dragon—about time they start returning to the scene—that attacking the party would be a good idea to increase his own hoard. The party tried to reason to him, more like hiring him of course, but then I had this dragon bring his bigger Adult Green Dragon brother. Who wasn’t putting up with the party’s shit.

Before the party managed to kill their first dragon—I was still holding back—I had the bigger dragon poison breath the whole party. (Yes, I still wanted my TPK) The breath was so big that it sent the younger dragon flying toward the Dessarin Valley.

Insert a “To Be Continued at Princes of the Apocalypse” sign here.

On to the Firehammer Hold. Who is now taken over completely by the Thayans. Undead lie everywhere, led by some demonic forces in the lower levels, and a DM that is tossing encounter after encounter at the vic…ahem…the party. During one encounter, however, something cool happened, and you can see it in the video now: Bram (a ranger) took out one wright (at least I remember it being a wright, correct me if I’m wrong) and then rolled a Nat 20 for the next attack. I said that Bram bounced that first arrow off the intended wright as it was falling and struck the one behind it; a bank shot. The thing I allow when the rolls are just right.

But will I allow them to leave the dungeon at the end of the session and take an extended rest? Heh heh heh.

Meanwhile:

Merdoc’s [Virtual Team] has left Waterdeep on to Phylund Lodge to reestablish a farm which was destroyed. During this time, they just managed to make it halfway across, doing some random encounters that wouldn’t give them too much pause, and camped for the night, far enough from the corruption to have a safe night.

 

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