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.

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


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.

D&D recap, week of 16-19 Mar 16

Item:  Death House; Encounters, Mar 16

This day was the scheduled start of the Death House adventure, with the characters the party will use for the Curse of Strahd season.  Providing they survive, of course.  They proved sturdy enough as they entered the first part of the house, being told by Rose and Thorn (who was with Madame Eva at that time; not to self: make my revised description of some of the Curse of Strahd NPCs including Eva and [REDACTED].) I had to be proud of the party members that they didn’t want to pick the place clean, thinking that the two kids wouldn’t like them raiding the joint.

Until they discover the two kid’s bodies in the Attic area.  They were visibly shocked at the first twist of my Curse of Strahd season.

And that one is a canonized twist.  They haven’t even gotten to my additions yet!

Which brings me to my review of the book itself now that I have it.  Three Words:  I6 Ravenloft 2016.  Wizards, as they are right to do, have basically hard-converted the classic module into 5th Edition, instead of remixing the inspired module like they did with Princes of the Apocalypse (in that case, it was the Temple of Elemental Evil super-module.) This is okay, and I would’ve done it straight, but I had this sneaky feeling that some of my party members, who have been in D&D from the earlier editions, have ran Module I6 up and down nine ways til Sunday.  I felt the need to add a little twist of my own, and it was something I’ve been thinking up ever since I heard of the release of this module.  I won’t say much now, although I will give little bits every now and then in some posts, but I will say this.  You might assume that you’ll be going up against Strahd Von Zarovich at first, and you will.

I’ll stop there.

Item:  PC Session, Lost Mine of Phandelver; Sat 19 Mar 16

I didn’t have enough players for both of my DMing sessions so there’s no report this week, but I did start something most Twitch DMs don’t think of.  I’m streaming the session as a Player, not a Dungeon Master.

  1. Session Zero:
  2. Session One:

This campaign will take characters from Lost Mine of Phandelver then on through the sequential seasons from Hoard of the Dragon Queen, on to Tyranny of Dragons, Princes of the Apocalypse, Out of the Abyss, and then into Curse of Strahd and so on.

Whatever or not I do this with one character is up in the air, but I’m starting with a character I had to shelve for Living Parnast: I’m starting off as Linka Windstorm, the Pandaren Brewmaster.  (Monk class with Drunken Master Archetype and Brewer Background.)  As the game begins at the starting scene—and dungeon—of Lost Mine, it’s her nose and her swiping that’s really bringing her to the fore, although there was a comical scene where she remembered to pick up her quarterstaff.

If anyone wants to see my Character Sheet, I have a unique way to manage them all.  Well, it’s unique if you didn’t expect me to lug around a laptop all over creation, because I’m storing all of my characters in an online One Note book, complete with Logs for each characters and a section on the DM’s Rewards I have available to claim.  I started claiming on the week when the DM’s quests began (which is about Mid-March) and will save most of them for when I need them.  Like if I’m just shy of leveling up, I’ll claim a DM’s reward that gives off a chunk of EXP to bring me over.)

Wait til later on tonight, when you see me reunite with Spacehamzter Boo and a brand new venue for me:  Tabletop Simulator!

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:  (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.


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:

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:

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:

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:


“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: (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:

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?)