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Welcome to Taco Hell this is Satan. Can I take your soul please?

Welcome to Taco Hell this is Satan. Can I take your soul please?

With the imminent release of a new edition of my favorite game, it is time to renew the covenant. As an avowed DM4LIFE I need to play dungeons and dragons to live. When I first discovered dnd as a kid, I had an epiphany that playing dnd could bring world peace if everyone could play, and ever since then I have attempted to spread the faith, for decades now. That means finding people willing and able to suffer my presence and (lack of) skills. Note the subtitle of this blog. I prefer to think of my tenure as dungeon master as a comedy of errors, but I am easily amused.

So in the coming weeks I will actively be searching for 1-3 like minded people to join our regular Friday Night Games, from 7 pm to ? (10:30 pm max, usually), in the Northland Kansas City Missouri area. That was the plug. This blog gets 60-100 views per day on average (more when I am better about posting.) This is I guess my form of social media. If I had a facebook, which I don’t and never have, because it is just a fad, then I would post a picture of the awesome grilled burgers and brats we ate last Friday with a shout out to come over to my place on Fridays for this and more. Oh this blog might be linked to google+ too.

Ya so there’s that. Feel free to pass this along. Our group is a mix of spouses, friends, kids, and friends of kids. Age range is me (42) to as young as a teenager or two. There are all types of people who make up good game groups. From dnd enthusiasts, to game enthusiasts, to people who just like to have a good time and be social and laugh and be stupid, and our game group is made up of just such. For me right now though, to find a few more people who genuinely want to play dungeons and dragons is the goal. I like to play with a larger group, 6-7 or even 8, for reasons that are probably selfish and vain, but my enthusiasm really does seem to make up for a lot of my failures.

One idea under consideration is petitioning any and all members of my “original” game group back in the old days. Little hope of that working, since they all turned their backs on the game as adults, the traitors! Ben (said WoW destroyed imagination, really I think it was because I killed his paladin in 8th grade), Roge (a pastor now?) Guitarist Chris (in Cali), football Chris (?), Billy (?), Steven (no way), Monte (prolly dead), Khar (oops already playing) Sean (ok this I have to think about), is that all?

Another idea to consider is calling up old members of the Encounters groups I used to DM for, first at Game Cafe in Independence, and then from Basement Games. Steve, Ron, Steve, roy, Steve, Bill, Will, John, Jake or new Jake, or Jake’s friend the lawyer whose name I can’t remember. There are so many. It seems like it would be easier to find people to haul their asses on over to my house week after week, but they just keep slipping through my fingers like the sands of time.

So what is the new EPIC campaign? Well as soon as the new Starter Set comes out, we will play the introductory adventure therein contained. That does not sound very revolutionary, or epic for that matter. Quite mundane in fact. OK but that is just to get a taste of the new rules. This few week period, until the release of the Player’s Handbook, in August or whenever, will be for testing and learning the new rules. When the PHB comes out, and the full character list is available we will roll brand new characters for the epic campaign:

New Campaign in Hell

New Campaign in Hell

One night, the character’s home town is cursed to the bottom most pit of Hell. The characters must attempt to save their friends, family, and neighbors as they search to find an escape through each of the 66 layers. The detials aren’t finalized but each level will be a unique world with its own dynamics, and not all will seem to be Hell at all…. at first. The object of the campaign will be to survive and escape each level while defending the town.

This is a combination of ideas. I have always wanted to do an Underworld type game, either striking down, or better yet trying to escape. Then whilst playing Dragonlance this past year, it has been surprising how well the players respond to saving the pepole in their world when they have connections unlike the usual “murder-hobo” tendencies. That idea was combined with a season of Encounters a few years ago (Dark Legacy of Evard) which included a cursed town which descended into the Underdark every night. The result: The character’s home town cursed to the bottom most pits of the Abyss. Not all the characters have to be from the town, but there has to be some connection.

Some of the details are still sketchy, like how the heroes will travel between the town and the adventures, and will the town rise up through the layers as the characters do? How will the town receive supplies? We’ll see…

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tree lizards

tree lizards

This recap is a day late and a dollar short, due to a sudden obsession with wining a cultural victory in CIV IV on monarch level. So far I have not done it. But I have a plan this time. It includes Pericles. Athens, Sparta, and Corinth will blaze with the glory of our heroic rise to perfection. But enough of that.

We started the night with a draconian ambush, which was hilarious because the players instantly accused me of falling back on the lame encounter I so deftly spiced up last week. Unfortunately, no, this is merely yet another squadron of dragonborn out to get the heroes at every turn. I can only assume that by the end of the series our heroes will each personally have slain hundreds of draconians.

The battle was unusual in that Caramon used his brother as an improv hurled weapon, to knock the draconians out of the trees. He did indeed hit one and barely managed to catch his fall, but was dismayed to learn that the draconian merely hovered in the air near where he was knocked off the branch. So that is what those wings are for!

They passed through the sla-mori, found the super sword, but ran into trouble when the sword SERIOUSLY did not like traveling with the TWO baby black dragons in the party. One familiar, and one tamed by rolling a 20. So far the dragons are staying 30 feet away from their owners, but it is merely a temporary solution.

Then they somehow ran into the midst of 40 zombies. 40. The midst. Everyone fought tooth and nail, and were each surrounded, alone with 5 zombies to contend with. Somehow, against all odds, it looked like thy would survive, as the heroes were whittled down to single digit HPs. Then Raistlin, who had defeated his zombies with a well placed Flaming Hands, got cocky. He was attacked and torn to shreds (-5 HP) in a savage zombie attack, just as the last remaining undead were being carved into pieces.

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The detritus

The detritus

Good night of gaming, with a delicious meal of Indian Curry over white rice to go with it. Tanis, Raistlin, sturm, Tasslehoff, Goldmoon, and Riverwind escaped the slave caravan after securing their gear, and followed the elf Gilthanas into the woods where they met the survivors. From there they travelled to the hidden city of Qualinost, where all sorts of role playing happened (to the tune of 4 pages of read aloud text, consolidated, condensed and made amusingly bearable by yours truly, despite his wife’s attempts to channel the incredulity of Shannon and question every assumption, and run things off the rails whenever possible.) Of course it was all completely justified considering the half elf grew up in Qualisnot and was at one point betrothed to the elf princess Lauarana. Tanis is now all growed up but she is still a wastrel waif.

And so it comes about that the teenage elf princess Laurana leads them to a secluded hilltop clearing to spend the night, and as she is leaving, she is captured by the hobgoblin runt Fewmaster Toede riding a Wyvern.

DM Interjection – The encounter as written has a few issues that I was compelled to revise for reasons of my own and the player’s playstyle. The first issue is that the module states that Toede automatically nabs Laurana and makes his getaway with no chance of intervention. I prefer to give my players just enough rope with which to hang themselves. In this case, I had the wyvern land and Toede throw a lasso around Laurana on a surprise round. The heroes were on the other side of the hilltop clearing, 100 yards away.

The other issue was that even though a wyvern makes its semi-aweseome appearance, it drops off six draconians to fight the party. Too boring. Why not fight a wyvern? So I replaced the six draconians with one draconian riding a wyvern. Thats right, dragon-on-dragon action. This second wyvern landed right in the midst of the party camp.

Quite a battle ensued. Tanis ran down the hill to try and save Laurana. She dodged the snapping jaws of the wyvern and stabbed Toede, bloodying him eventually. The next round, Tanis was bit, then stabbed in the heart by the poison dripping tail stinger of the wyvern. It was a tense moment as she had to roll save vs. poison or die. She rolled a sixteen, and lived. The next round Goldmoon ran down the hill to try and help, but Toede escaped into the air.

Meanwhile the battle raged atop the hill, as Tasslehoff tried to backstab the wyvern by cuttng its achilles tendon. The draconian riding attacked Raistlin, and was struck by the wizard’s flaming hands. ts armor caught fire, an it tried to leap onto the wizard who got to make an attack, and slew the creature which turned into a flaming pool of acid and immediately evaporated.

The wyvern was down to a couple hit points and it saw its master take flight, so it leapt into the air. Any hit would have killed it, but one by one every opportunity attack missed. Finally Goldmoon took aim with her sling at long range. She too missed. All the while, Riverwind was lining up a long range shot straight up into the air, and he struck the dragon in the heart, killing it instantly.

Suddenly 10 tons of dead meat was falling toward them. Everyone managed to leap away except for Sturm who was looking all around for more enemies but not upward. The wyvern corpse crushed him into a pancake. Or so it seemed, but a moment later the knight of Solamnia cut himself free from the steaming pile of flesh, bloody but whole.

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Dragons of Flame

Dragons of Flame

‘Twas another great night of gaming this week. We got started a little late but made up for it by playing until way too late, as I noticed my usual attention to detail self began to get shall we say a little loopy by the end. We munched on fresh pizza from the grocery store.

Inn of the Last Home

Inn of the Last Home

The night started with the heroes of the lance threading their way through the crude and ineffective patrol routes of wandering bands of evil humanoids. They sought their home of Solace, and found the forest village to be hacked and burned to the ground. The famous Inn of the Last Home no longer rested among the boughs of an ewok village, but lay in semi-ruins on the forest floor. Welcoming lights drew the group into the inn where they me Tika Waylan who proceeded to dump a steaming pate of potatoes into Caramon’s lap.

Draconians came in and tried to make trouble, but the heroes kept their temper in check until finally the hobgoblin runt Fewmaster Toede entered the tavern on his broke-back pony and announced the entire village was being rounded up for the slave mines. An elf stood up and announced he would surrender and whispered to the party they would e wise to do the same.
dl2-001
Each member of the party attempted to hide some weapon or spell book, but few were successful. They were rounded p and put into a caged wagon. Their gear was stowed in the lad wagon, guarded by 16 hobgoblins, and behind them was a cage ful of the 35 gully dwarves, and then the women and children of Solace. For a day and a night they sat. At one point the smith was thrown into the cage with the bleeding stump of a severed arm, whom Goldmoon saved.

This is actually a caravan in a forest path with a tree blocking one end

This is actually a caravan in a forest path with a tree blocking one end

Eventually the elf introduced himself as Gilthanas, and then there was an elven ambush. The two hobgoblin wagoners were killed by elvish shafts, then the elves went to save the women and children. Fewmaster Toede ran off and left 20 goblins for the party to fight. Then they had to choose whether to fight the 16 hobgoblins to get their stuff back,but really there was no decision to be made – there was no chance they were leaving their gear behind, even though it was after 11 pm. So we fought another fight it it was fun and slapdash and somewhat slapstick as well. By 11:35 it was time to end, there were only 4-5 hobgoblins left, and victory was insured,so ‘i rolled for morale check, didnt even look at the result, and they ran off.

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DL1

Tonight we concluded the first Dragonlance adventure of the original AD&D First Edition Heroes of the Lance campaign, DL1 Dragons of Despair, then went on to the introduction to the second adventure DL2 Dragons of Flame. We also had grilled steaks and baked beans and potatoes. It was good. The Epic conclusion of the adventure, wherein the heroes of the Lance confront the dragon Kisanth in her buried palatial lair, was laid out in great fashion on the table.

The bowels of Xak Tsaroth where Onyx lairs

The bowels of Xak Tsaroth where Onyx lairs

The characters headed straight to the dragons lair, after trying to trick it. The evil wizard Raistlin attempted to convince the dragon, which was only of average intelligence, that they bring tidings of the gods for the dragon to heed them. The dragon was not impressed and cast Charm Person on the wizard, who was then questioned. The black dragon did not trust the wizard but had yet to impale the puny mortal. Instead Kisanth cast darkness centered on her lair.

Goldmoon had a vision. Princess Leia appeared in a hologram cast by the blue staff: Help us Goldmoon, you’re our only hope. You must grab the disks, then strike the dragon with the blue staff, and all will be well. After attempting to argue with the hologram of Leia unsuccessfully, they decided to follow the advice.

Goldmoon became invisible while Riverwind and Tanis ran across the room trying to distract the dragon. Raistlin broke free of his charmed state after about the fortieth save, and tried to help distract the dragon by pointing out the invisible creature creeping up. No not the ACTUAL invisible person, the one on the other side. Raistlin followed up by tweaking the dragons tail and making the sound of footfalls, which caused the dragon to give up an attack for a blind tail-sweep.

The dragon attacked Riverwind with its breath weapon,a thin stream of acid that did a humble amount of damage. Another round of battle before Goldmoon grabbed the disks and struck the dragon, killing it and shattering the staff and disappearing in a flash of light. The city began to crumble, and everyone scoped up 1d20 gems as they fled. Riverwind also grabbed a cloak of invisibility. They did not forget to retrieve the 35 gully dwarves nor the five baby black dragons. (There was a scene where the baby dragons began crying for food when they sensed the presence of their mother, but Raistlin was able to conjure mice for them which they ate and went to sleep.)

Lying at the foot of the statue of the goddess of healing lay the unconscious form of Goldmoon. The blue crystal staff was now part of the stature, but Goldmoon had the disks and als wore an amulet that matched the one the goddess wore. A gully dwarf came up to her and said he now believes. Goldmoon blessed the dwarf and an amulet appeared in her hand. The deity had another follower, a first level gully dwarf cleric that had such low wisdom that the one cure light wounds spell would be all it could ever learn.

DL2

The goddes also mentioned other imprtant plot stuff. Then they set out to see the devestation caused by the passing dragon armies. The forest in which their home town of Solace was situated was burning, ad were the fields between here and there. They set out and came to an abandoned village. An old villaer spouted nonsense before they were ambushed by 6 draconians. They attacked and two of the heroes were paralyzed by their poisonous saliva, before shaking it off and going on to slaughter them all in glorious combat. The turn in the tide of battle came when Goldmoon was able to cast hold person on two of the draconains, and Riverwind cut a third down to size.

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Dungeons and Dragons is my passion.

Dungeons and Dragons is my passion.


We had a really fun night this Friday. Dave brought everything, starting with copious amounts of meat, in dog form, for the grill. He also brought a mysterious package that turned out to be more Dungeon Tiles! These tiles are from the Kickstarter that ran concurrently with the Dwarven Forge Kickstarter, and they are completely compatible,though made out of a different material, and there are some height differences. I will write an article focused on the new tiles, but let it be known that Dave is now our official Subsurface Environment Acquisition Specialist.

We began outside the bank full of ghosts, and started off with some good old fashion looting. In the inner vault were six coffins mounted along the walls. They were the tombs of the Banker Priests and six more ghostly guards stood watch until the heroes of the Lance convinced them it was time to retire. Then they looted the six magic swords from their coffins and left.

The gully dwarves led the way down the waterfall that led to the lowest level, but were captured by Draconians and taken to the secret Draconian encampment where they were tied up in the center of a bonfire. A huge black dragon and 7 draconians occupied the chamber. The plan was for the wizard to turn invisible and search the chamber for the magical disks while the rest of the party held back the enemy.However the wizard was confident he could charm the dragon and attempted to do so. It was only moments later when the dragon would not do as it was bidden, that the wizard realized it was a wicker statue.

Who would have known draconians have such artistic skill with wicker?

Who would have known draconians have such artistic skill with wicker?

They slew the draconians, discovered five black dragon hatchlings which they tried to tame or put spells on,then put into bags for later. They rescued the dwarves and continued on their way to the central plaza of the sunken city. Good times.

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Descent into Darkness

Descent into Darkness

Tonight we entered the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth after a long journey. Between the illnesses and dating (two related subjects imo) the adventuring party was made up of just Goldmoon, Raistlin, and Sturm. Tanis joined in for the second half. We ate pizza made fresh from the grocery store and baked in our oven. For dessert, our dessert specialist brought delicious oreo cupcakes, which also turned out to be diabetic-friendly, which is nice even though game nights are decreed to be “Freedom Fridays” as far as food is concerned.

The heroes of the lance were in the swamp surrounding the ruined city. Realizing they had missed the turn, they backracked until they found a side path which crossed a murky pool over a fallen obsidian obelisk. Everyone had to make a dexterity check to cross, and Goldmoon was so adept, she was able to read the writing on the monument as she crossed. Unfortunately she read it from end to beginning:

Home our of grace the in
Us reward gods the
Deeds generous their and
People its of good the to speaks
You surrounds beauty whose
Tsaroth Xak of city great the

Heh. This adventure is so ripe in material, and I was so eager to get to the dungeon, that I missed out on a great iconic scene from the Dragonlance saga in the swamps. I think I will find a way to weave it into next session. Moving on.

Across the obelisk, the swamp opened up into a clearing with a giant black steaming pit on one side and a holy temple with doors shining bright gold in the afternoon sunlight. They tentatively approached the pit but the stench and feeling of evil persuaded them to turn towards the golden doors of the temple.

It was a temple to Misha-kala, goddess of healing, and the statue turned to life and spoke to Goldmoon about blah blah blah, go out and heal girl, but first retrieve the disks in the dragon lair at the bottom of this dungeon. Then the statue sticks its tongue out at Raistlin and turns back to stone.

There are multiple doors exiting the temple. The one they choose leads to a room covered in frescoes depicting ancient scenes of glory. Five hideously filthy stunted creatures scrabble and scratch at the plaster walls, forming globs and piles of the plaster. The creatures eventually notice they are being watched after inadvertently giving away everything they know. They beg for mercy and weep and moan, while the heroes try to figure out what they are.

GullydwarvesEventually they realize they are gully dwarves, universally despised creatures so low that they don’t even have beards. Raistlin uses his beard cantrip to grow 7 inches of beard on each of the 5 gully dwarves who immediately begin grovelling at his feet and worshipping him as a lord. They command the dwarves to show them the way to the dragon, and the dwarves agree but suggest that the first go see the gully dwarf king.

And so they set off down a long flight of circular stairs. Before they set off, the dwarves argue about which one of them will be the guide and they start climbing up the wizard to try and perch on his head. The others join in a game of king of the hill to get to the top of Raistlins head and be declared the guide. Somehow it all works out, but the chosen guide angers Raistlin by leading him back to the wall for some more plaster. Raisltin hurls him down a flight of circular stairs, and they listen to every bone crunching bounce all the way down.

Goldmoon rushes down the stairs and at the bottom, uses her staff of healing to bring the dead dwarf back to life. All the otehr dwarves watch and a feud starts between them as Raisltin and Goldmoon make charisma checks to determine which of them they will follow as their lord. Goldmoon gets two, Raislin keeps two, and one goes to stand by Sturm and declares himslef to be an atheist (whose player Dr Karen Khar is also an avowed atheist) who doesn’t believe in magic. This while Goldmoon is performing miracles and Raistlin is wielding beard magic.

OK so we went on for another couple hours of hilarious gully dwarf action. They met a group of 30 gully dwarves, awed them wth their power, and for the rest of the night a tug of war took place between Goldmoon and Raistlin over who had the most worsippers. Goldmoon was ahead from practically the beginning, even though Raistlin would do anything to impress the loathsome creatures, including taking part in their ritualistic cavortations in “The squirming Chamber.”

The dwarves led them through some old sewer shaft chutes the led to a lower portion of the city, hundreds of feet below the surface. They lnded in the mud of the bakery, or Squirming Chamber as the dwarves called it, and after napping for a few hours, set out into a cavern that they realized was a shop-fronted street of the old city.

There was a swift flowing river, which the dwarves suggested riding down to the next level, but first they were required to make a dwarf bridge so the heroes could search the bank-like building on the other side. This led to a battle with ghosts known as Spectral minions.

Spectral Minions in the Sunken City of Xak Tsaroth

Spectral Minions in the Sunken City of Xak Tsaroth

They entered the bank and saw a ghostly figure behind a counter. Four spectral guards lined the walls, and when the ghost demanded payment of 500 Tsarothian sculli, Tanis and company tried to bolt. Unfortunately the ghost were twice as fast as the fastest character, could fly and pass through inanimate objects, so fleeing led to them being quickly surrounded beside the river. It was quite an intense battle which was nearly the death of them.

Raistlin fired off as many magic missiles as he could before attempting to flee, taking his dwarves with him. Sturm hacked right and left against the two assailing him but could not hit in fa after four or five rounds of rolling 5 or less I let khar re-roll and re-roll and re-roll on one turn ad she still couldn’t hit! Sturm was eventually knocked unconscious and into the river. At this point Raistlin diverted his escaping dwarves to rescue the knight before he drowned, thus saving him.

Xak Tsaroth02Tanis fought a ghost on the dwarf bridge, standing atop the heads of the sputtering gully dwarves, as she swung against an incoporeal opponent. She fought like a wild woman and injured the ghost before a magic missile of Raistlin saved her bacon as well. Goldmoon held her own swinging her +3 staff back and forth with abandon, slaying more than one ghost. Raistlin on the other hand tried his hand at hand-to-hand and immediately rolled a 17, oh yeah… but no a 3rd level wizard does not hit an AC 2 ghost with a roll of 17. Meanwhile 6th level fighters could hit armour class 2 with a roll of 11 or so. Can’t do that without THAC0.

After Sturm’s fall, Goldmoon started using her staff’s ability to Remove Curse to dispel the remaining spirits, then healed everyone up.

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