For dinner this week we had very inexpensive pizzas from our local grocery store that were oven ready. They came out pretty good and there is much to be said for three enormous pizzas for fifteen dollars. The key to pizza, or baking in general, is the timing. Pizza is most delicious when it is cooked just the right amount so that the crust is neither burnt and too crispy, or underdone and too soggy. The toppings as well must have the golden brown crisped edges that a good baking gives them. To cook three large pies takes patience, but it can be done quickly, by giving each pizza a few minutes alone in the center of the oven for the first half of the cook time, then moving it to the lowest rack while putting pizza no. two in the middle. Continue rotating every 10 minutes and voila 3 large pizzas in 30 minutes or so. Also the oven should be preheated to more than it says on the box. I like to cook everything at 450 deg.
hile playing the adventure Hoard of the Dragon Queen, it has been worth it to excise the adventure from the default Forgotten Realms setting, and place it into our group’s “home brew” setting, D Erte, which we have been adventuring in for several years now. It’s not that I have anything against the Forgotten Realms (which I do) but it is more like I love the spontaneity of things we come up with as we play, and the well-detailed published campaigns feel very constraining in that aspect, much like store-bought adventures. My brain just does not work that way, and the amount of joy I derive from playing dungeons and dragons is directly proportionate to the amount of random absurd bullshit that happens while playing. That is really the entire secret. It is why I love critical hits and misses; it is why I describe every action in battle in loving detail; it is why I design traps without solutions; it is why I love dice rolling in general. The scientific name for this game style is Emergent Gameplay, and it is the foundation and objective for every game I play.
This week I was in the mood for some desert action, and it just so happened that there was a desert nearby, needing to be crossed. The home town of Greenest was on one edge of the desert, and their destination, the foreign city of Leucrotta, was on the other. (Factoid: I am naming all the cities in this new region from monsters that were in the original Monster Manual but have been left out of the newest edition, like the leucrotta, a worg-like creature.) Beyond the outpost of Leucrotta, further to the east were the mysterious foreign metropolises of Catoblepia, Ki-Rin, and Su.
The night started out with crazy amounts od die rolling. The journey from Greenest to Leucrotta, was seven to fourteen days. For game purposes,each day a different character would be in charge of ‘blazing the trail’ that day, as well as overseeing the camp. Using the desert environment section of 4e’s Dark Sun Campaign Manual, I created a series of rolls for what type of desert they would encounter, then they would roll a d8 to see the weather affects (a 1result would be a haboob, an 8 is clear skies) Then the character would make an ability check to overcome whatever type of terrain it was. Failing that, they would be set back a day and have to roll for an encounter. They would also have to roll for an encounter if it was dangerous terrain. Everyone rolled extremely well and they made it across the desert in record time without a single encounter and near perfect weather.
I had to entice them to an encounter by mentioning on the third day out, while crossing some mud flats or something, they saw the glint of shiny in the distance. They were hesitant. I then enquired who among them had magical treasure. None. Had we missed out on all the loot in the adventure so far? Four chapters without a single magic item? Then pointedly mentioned again the glint of shiny in the distance. They could just make out a broken down wagon.
What followed was a fight with an ettin and his to wolves, in which the ettin hurled rocks for a few rounds before charging into the meat grinder that is the party. He only got a single swing from his weapons before becoming chop suey. The ettin was able to leap over and avoid all obstacles with the boots of striding he wore. He also had on bracers of ogre strength, wielded a morningstar +1 Lightbringer in one fist, and used a +1 breastplate as a punching glove in the other. Oh and he had a ring of protection +1 in his pocket. One magic item apiece for everyone present, all ripped directly from the last page of the Starter Adventure. I added the ring at the last second because it seemed unfair to give out four items when there were five players present.
The verisimilitudinous reason for the ettin to have all that loot was that he recently ambushed and killed a veteran of the nearby wars, who was on his way across the desert to make his fortune with his booty.
My favorite part of the night actually, was watching the players divide the magic items in the most equitable fashion possible. Only the gnome rogue, with her boots of striding, felt shorted (get it?) and is trying to sell off her item.
They arrived in Leucrotta and met their benefactor who paid them 150 gold apiece for the information about the cult. Then he got into an arm wrestling contest with the dwarf,who performed so poorly (he has an 8 strength) that he rolled an effective ZERO (a natural 1) and not only lost the match, but immediately passed out with exhaustion.
One other interesting aspect of this game night was that we all decided once and for all to use the Pathfinder Critical Hit and Miss deck with our 1’s and 20’s. In fact, when I finally reached up and pulled the two decks out for use, a cheer went up around the table.