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Posts Tagged ‘5th edition’

lets take a short cut through this ancient burial ground

lets take a short cut through this ancient burial ground

A humongous frozen lasagna and multitudinous loaves of garlic bread filled our bellies this past Friday night, the last before Halloween. The turnout was huge with pratically every current card-carrying member of the group showing up to play – a total of seven players plus dm. Typically our game nights of late have been numbering four to six, because herding cats is HARD, so it was great fun to have everyone together. It also meant I needed to do a recap of events so far…

The characters all grew up in, or found their way to the town of Greenest, the further outpost of western (fantasy) civilizations into a vast tract of D Erte known simply as the Beast Lands, for obvious reasons. (beasts and monsters) Greenest was on the far eastern edge of the beastlands, founded during the crusading period of the past score of years. Further east is a vast desert known as the Desert of Despair to northerners and the Desolate Desert to southerners. Across the desert is a myseterious and virtually unknown civilization known as “the Lorient.” Only recently contacted after thousands of years of forced separation due to geological as well as monstrous reasons, the two civilizations are opening up to one another and the characters as leading the charge into the Lorient.

The heroes of this tale also each have a unique reason to despise and want to destroy a nefarious cult known as the Cult of the Dragon. After raiding Greenest, the cult loaded up its wagon of booty and set off across the desert. The characters tracked the cult to the city of Leucrotta, a merchant hub from whence the cult plas to travel further into the Lorient with their ever-growing hoard. In order to follow the cult, the characters must sign on to the caravan about to make a forty day journey to the regional capital Catoblepia. The cult is signed onto “The Iron Bull” caravan and the party has befriended a traveling circus who is signed on to the caravan, in hopes of hiring on as guards. Whew, there is more, like a whole side trek to save Alligator Boy, but that is the gist.

The Lorient - the mysterious far east of D Erte

The Lorient – the mysterious far east of D Erte

Now then, at this point the players were like, are we going to play or just listen to you all night, whilst others were like KILL KILL KILL! Ok ok, so you are walking back to the circus tent with the minsrel Rodrigo and the alligator man Skryllix, when a dark cloud forms over the nearby tent in the shape of a beholder with lightning flashing from the roiling smoky eyestalks. A severe storm erupted, the minstrel shouts “oh no not him!” then is struck by lightning. Skryllix roars and snaps his jaws and says “your hired go report to the Lady Octavia immediately!” He points to a nearby side entrance to the sprawling tent compound that is the circus.

They are standing at an iron gate, and a winding path leads through an old burial ground, on the other side of which beckons the safety of the tent flaps of the Floating Palace of Phantasmagoria. The floating beholder head has turned into a massive black storm cloud. Lightning strikes the ground every turn, targetting one character randomly. Eight skeletons pull themselves out of the ground at the far end of the cemetery wielding long bows. Divided into two squads each turn they target a character with four arrows. Pretty devastating. Along either side of the path a total of eight zombies rise from the earth while the opening notes of Michael Jackson’s Thriller play (in my mind.) Also, anywhere on the cemetery that is not the path has ghostly shadowy arms reaching up trying to grab ankles and immobilizing if successful.

It was a tough encounter which I call “Short cut through the cemetery.” And it only got tougher. The players all immediately whined and complained that I was trying to kill them and I was like yes, and…? Then they were like its too hard, an I retorted that it was not too hard, they were just pathetic. Find out at the end who was right.

Short cut through the cemetery

Short cut through the cemetery

The undead won initiative so I lined them up into battle formation in preparation of the characters actions. Then they were off and Dave who plays the chicken cast a feather bolt which damaged a zombie. Then the gnome rogue got into the action by hiding and stabbing like she does, but rolled a natural one on her dexterity check to avoid the grasping claws, so she was immobilized and prone, held down by ghostly arms reaching up out of the soil that has been soaked so many times with the blood of the victors and vanquished alike, but that is a different story all together.

The monk dashed into punch and kick zombies. He was the only one to actually kill a zombie that might, after curb-stomping one that had been riddled with wounds. The pirate dashed in after literally hurling the dwarf as far as she could into the thick of things – 24 feet. The dwarf turned three or four of the zombies, taking them out of the fight as they cowered in the corners of the fenced area. The elf ranger fired a few arrows then spent the rest of the time running for safety.

On round two a skeleton warhorse appeared, charging around the corner of one of the larger mausoleums and as it ran a shadow climbed up onto it and the pair waded into battle. The warhorse had shiny iron hooves which caused great destruction, while the shadow attempted to strangle its foes, doing necrotic damage. All the zombies attacked with strangling type moves tonight as well. It was sort of the theme (again, in my mind.)

On round three, another pair of zombies clawed up out of the ground and the characters realized this was not a time to stand and fight, but to run for it, and after three or more rounds, they made it though the loving flaps of the waiting circus tent. But not before the chicken and the cleric were knocked out and nearly killed. The chicken in particular was cooked and sizzling to perfection, like a giant chicken leg ready to be devoured. Some one grabbed him as they ran through the tent flaps, but was it to save him, or to have him for dinner?

In the end, the encounter was neither too hard, nor were the players too pathetic to survive victoriously. Which actually makes me even more right wink wink

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Pathfinder-Osirion

The store-made oven-ready pizzas were so good last week (and cheap!) that we decided to have them again this week. No, not the same ones, new ones, but they were the same three toppings: pep, saus, chee. This time I made sure to get all regular crust (would have got thick or pan if they had it) because who wants thin or cracker crust, eh?

It was another small group of four adventurers for tonight’s game: cleric, rogue, bard, and monk. Good mix. I was in the mood for some urban adventuring, and the adventure at this point is vague to the point of absent on any detail about adventuring in the towns. They meet a paladin of the fist, and are offered the chance to join a couple of brotherhoods with similar goals of defeating the Cult of the Dragon. The ultimate goal of the adventure is to follow the hoard and find out where it is going, and to what end. And then to foil the cults plans of course. So the first thing I did was to come up with a list of “quests” for the characters to pursue while in town:

1. Find the location of the Hoard. The monk Leosian trailed the cult of the dragon as they made their way across the desert with their wagons of stolen booty. But when they arrived in the city, the three wagons each went different ways. The one he followed was off-loaded with the chests and trunks, each being carried off in a different direction. So he lost sight of the hoard.

2. Find out which caravan it will be leaving with. The town of Leucrotta is an important trading hub in a very dangerous region. Very little stays in the city but much wealth passes through it. Heavily defended Caravans leave from each of the four cardinal gates and, the cult will likely sign onto a caravan to make the journey deeper into the region towards its ultimate destination.

3. Sign up for the caravan and follow the cult of the dragon. There are other wagons full of treasure being hauled in all across D Erte, and even if the heroes could defeat the gaurds and take the loot, it would not be enough to halt the cults nefarious desires. The treasure must be followed back to the cult of the dragon’s lair.

4. Save home town of Greenest from dying out. A religious icon was stolen from the church of St Cuthbert in Greenest during the raid by the Cult of the Dragon. The icon is tied magically to the spring that flows through Greenest, giving the town its life-blood and its name as the greenest place between the desert and broken lands. Now the spring is just a weakening trickle.

None of that is written into the adventure itself as far as I can tell. It is just some city research type shite I came up with that sounded fun. I also ripped this adventure from its roots in the Forgotten Realms and supplanted it onto the edge of the known world of my long-runnong campaign world of D Erte. (There is nothing much special about the world of D Erte other than it is a blank slate acrost which I can splatter-paint my grandiose designs for adventure.)

The goal of this campaign is to be a journey through a strange land. The world of D Erte has had many earth-shatering events over the years, from undead invasions and sparring demon-lords, to wars with giant armies of giants, and maybe even some aliens from outer space/other dimensions. The edge of the known world of D Erte is the eastern steppes called the Beast Lands. Across them are the broken lands. During a lull in the wars and doom of D Erte, the great civilizations of the west pushed into the beast lands in a series of crusades to bring order and wrest new lands from the savage evil around them. During this time the humble town of Greenest came to exist, the furthest eastern outpost wrested during the wars of the beast lands. It stood on the border between the broken lands to the west and a vast desert to the east.

For the first time the great western civilizations of elf, dwarf and man could cross that vast distance made up of the steppes, then the rocky broken lands, and finally the tall duned desert of the east and learn of the flourishing civilization known as the Lorient. The great cities of the Lorient were situated along the rivers that flowed south from the mountain known as the Ziggurat, far to the north. The merchant cities of Leucrotta, Ki-rin, and Oni; the dark and mysterious city of Su, and the gleaming capital Catoblepia, were each named for an extinct creature (missing from the 5e monster manual.)

The land of Lorient is also known as the land of werewolves. This is because each sentient being bears the resemblance in greater or lesser extent to one of a myriad of natural animals. Whether it be the whiskers of a seal (like Othar was exhibiting) or the black wet nose of a fox, every person living in the Lorient will eventually take on the traits of what some call their spirit animal, or daemon from some popular work of young adult fantasy.

There are two systems of law, each dependent upon the percentage of spirit animal infusing oneself at the time a crime is committed. For example, if an accused thief is determined to be 51 percent or greater raccoon or badger for instance, during the theft of a pie, then the sentence would be lighter than if they were deemed 49 per cent badger. It is all very complicated. Most people only exhibit a few traits of any animal, but periods of intense stress can cause a person to suddenly ‘pop’ into its animal form. It can take months or years ,or sometimes never, to revert back to human from a complete animal transformation. This is magical in nature, not genetic.

The people of the Lorient also wear really tall shoes and clothing made of bark. These are the defining characteristics that make the Lorient a unique place.

So I better wrap this up. The characters went to the east gate, from where they surmised the hoard would leave the city. They spoke to Gorgo, who wore a huge iron bull’s helm and no one ever saw his face. His motto was, Once you sign onto Gorgo’s caravan, no questions asked. That is a very dumb motto, and for some reason during my prep for this game, I left his motto blank, assuming I would just come up with something snappy in the moment. Didnt happen. What happens in Gorgo’s caravan stays in Gorgo’s caravan? No way.

He was meeting with “Lady Octavia” to book passage, and a bard with her called Rodrgio, invited the players to visit them to possibly hire on as guards. On the way to visit Octavia, they went through the poor part of town who were being terrorized by kidnappers. There was a mob. They had seen an alligator-man coming and going through the sewers.

The characters immediately jumped into the sewers except for the gnome who got sick of the “floating solids” and had to leave the nose-deep sewer. The dwarf on the other hand, relished the experience and developed (through the rolling of a natural 20) a natural immunity for all fecal matter. He eats it for breakfast in other words. (We got a lot grosser than that at the table. Well…I did.)

The sewer led to a portcullis beyond which was a small stone dock in a cellar under the city. There was a pile of large empty sacks next to a door. Beyond the door they found stairs leading up and a room with two yuanti. One had the head of a snake and the other had the body of a snake. They stood beside a pile of squirming gunny sacks. Battle ensued.

Up above, the gnome rogue learned that one of the children kidnapped was also known as “alligator boy” due to his features. This led her to an abandoned mansion where she fought an animated sword and dodged out of the way just as an animated carpet started to roll up at the corners. She heard the sound of battle down below (after about 15 perception checks) and because of all the cursing and mis-haps, she knew it was her crew fighting.

After the fight with the yuanti malisons, which both turned into giant snakes but couldnt hit for shit, a giant alligator man reared up behind them out of the sewers. But they did not attack first, ask questions never. Instead they learned that he the the strong man Skryllix from the carnival known as the Traveling House of the Macabre and Phantasmagorical. He was hunting for his son Alligator boy, who was recently kidnapped by these snake people. (The players pointed out that I made a huge deal out of the animal traits being magical, not genetic, and called me on it. I guess the boy just really relates to his dad and alligators. Could be social rather than genetic. But his dad is a carnie who he probably only sees once a year at most, or possibly never, so who knows.

So now the characters have met three principal NPC’s of the carnival: Rodrigo the bard, Skryllix the alligator strongman, and Lady Octavia the mysterious woman in black lace burka.

There you have it, a night of random urban adventuring, with a healthy dose of what the internet tells me is called furry fandom. Yiff.

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Here be monsters

Here be monsters

The Monster Manual for the Fifth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons is rampaging out into the wild and pouncing on wallets everywhere. The publication of the newest edition of the oldest fantasy role playing game continues apace, and this book is the second in the sacrosanct triad that has formed the core of every edition of the game since the original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Players Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Masters Guide.

Thin, thick, thicker, THICKEST

Thin, thick, thicker, THICKEST

Comparing this tome to its progenitors, one immediately discovers that it is the thickest, heaviest, and bears the most pages of the lot. In fact, every edition of the Monster Manual has upped the page count since that first slender folio, and every edition has attempted to up the quality of it pages therein with bigger, better, more colorful art, fan(ta)cy page design, and eye-catching covers. This manual of monsters has exceeded expectations on every level of design. The art is fabulous, with many varying styles and artists represented. The cover is gorgeous to behold and has a unique tactile quality with a brushed back cover that is a joy to hold.

But it is what is inside that really matters. Can it inspire a sense of wonder and adventure? It was while leafing through the original Monster Manual one afternoon as a child that my imagination opened to the idea of how incredible Dungeons and Dragons could be. Finding that first Monster Manual was instrumental in piquing my curiosity to learn what this game is all about. In many ways, it is about the monsters: the danger they pose, he difficulty to overcome, and the treasure they hoard. Thus the Monster Manual is the essence of Dungeons and Dragons.

The iconic monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, have always been a mix of creatures of myth and legend, popular culture, and the wild imaginations of the game’s creators. The Monster Manual then, must maintain the status quo by containing all of the monsters from that first hoary tome (or at least all the good ones). It is also expected to contain all the best additions to the game since inception. In forty years and five editions, vast quantities of new monsters have spawned, from innumerable sources, both official and not. It would be impossible to contain every new species and critter created, so there must be a process of curation to maintain the best, most iconic monsters from the game’s long life.

While the task of being a fair curator alone seems insurmountable, there is also the daunting task of faithfully representing those icons of infamy with fun and exciting mechanics for the enjoyment of the players around the table. The designers of this edition worked very hard to create THE quintessential Monster Manual. During the public playtest many polls and articles sought to discover what thousands of players felt were the essence of each monster, in appearance, origins, and actions. When the first batch of monsters appaered in the playtest, oover two years ago, I wrote an article assessing their classic qualities.

Let us now turn our attention to our brand spanking new 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, dear reader, and evaluate how Iconic are the Monsters of Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons?

Never to be spoken of again

Never to be spoken of again

Aarakockra – I have written extensively on the aarakocra previously, one of my faves:

Has there ever been a better avian race? I think every mountain pass and rocky tor the PCs ever passed were inhabited by some nest/tribe/civilization of aarakocra. Often times the savage battle that broke out when the aarakocra dive bombed the party from surprise would end in dialogue if the party were able to get them to listen to reason. After the party convinced the avians of their good intentions, they would get embroiled with the aarakocra against some evil avian race, which he aarakocra warred against for aerial territory in the mountain passes.

Their connection to eagles was another favorite element to use, including rocs. I always used them as a highly noble race, but also savagely predatory and territorial. They were animal-like in those areas, but had a strict code of honor. Once in a campaign they were used as enslaved warriors and the characters were forced to fight and kill them until they were finally able to save the few who were left, ha ha. Big favorite and definitely not very rare in my campaigns.

I once sent in an article idea to WotC describing a delve that involved a war between barbaric tribes of Aarakocra and Kenku over the rights to a certain ravine. The Aarakocra were above, and the kenku tribe lived on the ground, forever at war. I just love the aarakocra (and the kenku!)

The aarakocra made an appearance in the 4th Edition Dark Sun Creature Catalog, where they were turned into vulture-men,and lost a little bit of their noble luster along the way, but became pretty cool ferocious dive bombing raptors from the sky.

The Aarakocra have regained their egalitarian aspect, thank goodness, and maintian their dive bombing abilities, while also gaining an ability to call air elementals under certain circumstances. The creatures also get a full write up on their history of being guardians of the elemental planes of air, greatly expanding on the original themes laid out in the Fiend Folio.

Aboleths are bad-ass as ever. I just can’t go into it right now.

Tara swings from the beholder by the hilt of the Spirit Knife as Thokk looks on immobilized.

Tara swings from the beholder by the hilt of the Spirit Knife as Thokk looks on immobilized.

Beholder. One of d&d’s very own creations, infamous and deadly enough the cover to grace this very manual. The beholder is one of the toughest high level monsters in the game. Their deadly ray attacks kill indiscriminately: death ray… disintegration…

Being such high level foes means the are rarely encountered, and I can only recall one time I used a beholder in battle. The fight took place in the Inn of the Welcome Wench in the village of Hommlet, much of which burned down in the epic conflagration. The 5th edition Beholder maintains all of its power and grace, and is given a five page write-up with three different varieties. Besides their ecology, origins, disposition, the book also details the lairs of the legendary creatures, which are evocative and dangerous for players. Just for one example, walls may sprout eye stalks the shoot rays of death.

Reading this, I realize there have not been enough beholders in my player’s lives. This will need to be rectified STAT. I would say to the 5th edition Beholder: Mission Accomplished. Reading the entry has given me the seeds of ideas for battles, adventures and entire campaigns full of freaking insane beholders. The picture of the undead beholder depicts one scary dude.

Roper. We fought a roper in our game last week, and it was one vicious foe. In fact, the characters were victorious merely by escaping its tednrillous clutches alive. One thing that makes the roper so terrifying (beside the obvious killer tentacles and gaping frakking maw full of great white shark teeth) is the huge amount of hit points it contains. This is a feature of the monsters of fifth edition in general, that the hit points are higher on average all around, than the first three editions. For low level monsters like kobolds, 5 hp instead of 4 hp is a tiny difference, but that twenty percent increase gives you ropers with a hundred hit points that can reel you in and bite your head off over and over as you stab at them with you puny little arms.

The monsters of this edition are powerful, terrifying, engaging to run and fun to fight. The literature and art is beautiful and evocative. Eevery entry provides insight into how and where the creatures might be encountered, and what they are doing. There could be a part two of this article, where I ramble on about monster after monster in the book, but the major topic of this article has been covered: to show how thick the book is physically and with promise of adventure. Mission Accomplished.

Advanced Dm of Doom has spoken

Advanced Dm of Doom has spoken

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More minions of the Dark Priest

More minions of the Dark Priest

Just saying, not by popular demand, but by dm fiat, skeletons resist slashing and piercing damage. (Half damage, rounded down.)

And no, force damage does not count as bludgeoning, good try.

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Hoard of the Dragon Queen

This week’s session was all about rolling up new characters. We never even got any playing done, other than a brief description of the starting location and setup at the very end of the night. Instead six of us, with two player’s handbooks, took our time to create a party of potential heroes. We also had bowls of vibrant “artisan salad” and plates of succulent “hot-n-naked pasta” for dinner. ‘Twas a good night of gaming and bodes well for the upcoming campaign.

Background Setting

The setting for this campaign is the same setting we have used for the last 5 or 6 campaigns, the world of D Erte, created when we started gaming in 2008. The world has been wracked by war, invasion, and apocalypse but now it has entered a period of relative calm. For the past few decades peace has settled over the civilized lands, and has led to a period of expansion. The great eastern wastes known as the Beastlands are now experiencing a crusade as armies of the western kingdoms attempt to expand their territory by driving out the savage monsters who dwell in that dry, barren rocky land.

Scholars had supposed the Beastlands extend forever, much as the Great Western Forest is expected to extend beyond time and distance into the realm of Faerie.However the trail-blazing warriors, scouts, and scholars instead found that the high plateaus gave way to a vast desert, and across that desert was an exotic civilization with valuable trade goods. In the twenty years of crusading and sporadic trading, the tiny village of Greenest has sprung up along the main route between the western kigndoms and the eastern New World. though the village is little more than a poor and dusty water-stop along a vast trade route, it sees much wealth pass along its one main street. The town lies along the border between the rocky wasteland and the lonely desert, and it boasts a shallow fresh stream, springing from a nearby rock formation to end in a deep, fetid pool a few miles away.

Having also purchased the first adventure for the new edition, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, I wanted to integrate some (or most) of its elements into our game. However I prefer to use my own setting over published settings such as Forgotten Realms,and I am also unable to remain constrained to a published adventure. Knowing this about myself, I have attempted to create a hybrid campagin adventure using key elements of Hoard, but set in my own setting amidst a backdrop of another over-arching storyline. Ok enough about that, let’s get to the characters.

High Rollers

We rolled 4d6 and dropped the lowest, adding the three highest together six times in any order. One could discard the fll set and re-roll the six sets as often as one liked. This led to most people taking their first or second set. I wanted to be very lenient because even though I detest extremely high ability scores for starting characters, I have found it to be more important that the players are comfortable with their characters, and this usually means higher scores. So I made sure and said “if you are unhappy with your scores, re-roll!”

Personally I like to see at least one score below average, to give the character some character upon which to build, and a flaw, so to speak. The new edition has personality charts (attuned to backgrounds, which is a good idea) which may help in this respect,but still, one low score makes up for a lot of 18s and 19s.

Dragonborn monk

Moving around the table, our first up is James who rolled up a Gold Dragonborn monk. I have to admit I was a little surprised by this choice, because I assumed James was more a traditionalist. I like being surprised though, and I was doubly surprised to realize how perfectly that would mesh with one of the optional backgrounds in the Hoard of the Dragonborn: a reincarnated gold dragon of Bahamut sentenced to live as a puny demi-human and looking for a way back into the good graces of the gold dragon deity. What could be more perfect? He chose hermit as his background, and the holy shrine is the natural water spring that supplies Greenest with its fresh water.

Gnomish Arcane Trickster

Next up is my wife Lori, who was tempted by the avenger paladin (And who played an avenger in a long-running 4e campaign) but ultimately chose to become a forest gnome rogue, planning on specializing in arcane trickster. She likes being sneaky and small, but also doing major damage. Most of all she likes rolling 2d20 and taking the best. Her background was that a wandering wizard saved her after her family was slain by a dragon, and left her off with the good people of Greenest to raise her. He left her a purple silk handkerchief emblazoned with a B in gold thread.

Tiefling Eldritch Knight

Khar chose to become a tiefling fighter, an Elrtich knight. She is also a pirate according to her background, and something important has brought her inland, as far away from the sea as possible. I can’t remember what it was that brought her to Greenest. Originally it was a lost love, but we decided to re-roll, and she was right about that, but I cannot remember what her new bonds were. Hopefully she wrote it down.

Human Bard of Valor

Will chose human, and took a feat that made hm a crossbow specialist. He wields a hand crossbow and rapier, and his background is that he is a singer. Compare to spell singer series by Alan Dean Foster. (Great series, no seriously.) Will has a childhood friend who was captured by the Dragon Cult, for whom he is searching.

Human Warlock

Last up we have Joel who broke with wizard-or-ranger tradition to create a human warlock with a pact of the Great Olde Ones but stuck with tradition by naming his character John Smith. His background is a psychic soldier in a scout regiment, and he was sent to Greenest by an officer of the crusades to search for information about the Dragon Cult.

Half-elf Druid

FInally I the dm rolled up a character for an absent player – a half elf druid. She is named Sheela Labouf and wields a scimitar and wooden shield, or a sling for ranged attacks. She has animal friendship and cure wounds memorized, and her cantrips are druidcraft and produce flame, which she can hurl up to thirty feet as a little fireball attack. Her background is a folk hero, and she has protected people from dragon attacks in the past. She also has nightmares of Tiamat the queen of Dragons. She will start with a previously befriended animal companion, but I have yet to locate the appropriate stat blocks. The character is unique in that she has a high dexterity, but a low constitution. Her flaw is that she secretly loves the corruption of city life.

Everyone got a trinket or two, and most people chose the preselected equipment packs, though I suggested they roll for wealth and buy stuff out of the equipment section. Everyone also got a free mount due to their character having been established in Greenest prior to play.

The characters have been helping escort caravans into and out of town, making a few gold coins while going about their business. The governess of Greenest has given John Smith an old bunkhouse to use to gather a team and investigate rumors of a dragon cult. One day they are late getting home from escorting a large caravan and they smell smoke before they see the town below being raided. Enemy on horseback circle the village with torches throwing them onto thatch roofs. But truly chilling is the large blue dragon sitting atop the town’s only stone structure, the governess’ keep, munching on a cow and watching the destruction.

Summing up

Character creation was fun and offers lots of customization options to go with the great selection of iconic classes. It took us about two hours, but we had a shortage of books and an excess of hilarity to slow us down. Everyone seems happy with their character and are ready to start on a long journey. We have quite an eclectic party, and with all the dragonborn, tieflings, and warlocks, it is very reminiscent of a 4th edition party. However the party also seems uniquely suited to adventuring in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Good times ahead.

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OgreThis game report will be short as Dwarf Fortress has released a new update after a two plus year wait. The fort is calling me and I may have more Dwarf Stories to tell soon.

But tonight is about d&d. We had a smaller group this week, of four players. For dinner I prepared a fresh salad, which was delicious.The characters were wizard,rogue, cleric, and fighter (a perfect mix!) and the night began right after the villain Glasstaff was captured by being tackled around the knees by the party wizard.

They questioned him and realized the hideout was still full of bugbears he had hired, and that there were some kidnapped civilians needing rescue on the way out. This worked like a skill challenge, and a loss would have meant encountering the bugbears, but they made it out safely and with three rescued captives and three captured gang members.

A nght in town followed, and then they set out for Cragmaw castle. They were riding their new mounts, including a pair of riding horses, a pony for the dwarf, and a mastiff for the halfling. Whils en route, they encountered an ogre who chased them while throwing javelins, but his aim was off so he soon gave up the chase. He caught up with them hours later after they made camp qand a fight ensued, where the ogre took a swift demise. The game ended next morning at the entrance to the clearing that holds Cragmaw Castle. Good game.

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The town of Phandelver from D&D5 Starter Set

The town of Phandelver from D&D5 Starter Set


Tonight we had a good sized group of six playing, which included doubling up on the pre-gen wizard (for Dave) and we were sadly missing our second cleric and halfling, Jesus and Arya.Hopefully they will be back next week. Prior to the game I was inspired to use my various dungeon and game tiles to create the town of Phandelver for our heroes to explore.

The town is not an exact representation.Basically I just used what I had on hand o make a town-like set up, but there are some characteristics of Phandelver, such as the town green in the center, surrounded by the most prominent businesses, and the shrine to Tymora, made up of the standing stones tile. At the far end of town, you can ser the raised area upon which sits the ruins of the large estate. On the other end of town I took the liberty of including a narrow waterway that turns to swamp on the edge of town, and has a pair of brides crossing it.

But before we get to town, we had a few other housekeeopig chore to take care of. First on the agenda was to eat the delicious tacos supplied boy Dr. Khar, who plays the noble fighter Gruunhilde. They were delicious, and compared fvoribly to the healther veggie burger cooked by our humane and mindful player of the dwarf cleric. Good food all around. Dave, who was in the doghouse for missing so many weeks in a row (not to mention forming his own Wednesday night dnd group!) brought cookies and cool whip for dessert. A good combination. Thanks and you are forgiven for having pie and vodka parties without me.

Magenta Borealis by Chessex

Magenta Borealis by Chessex

One last thing of note, in honor of a new edition of the game I thought it was time to upgrade my dice. I found a perfect set of dice that look dark crimson unless light is shown through them, when they glow a purplish magenta color. They also have gold lettering and flecks of gold within them. They are among the most beautiful dice I have ever owned, and I am glad I picked them up. They seemed to roll ok too, I rolled at least one natural twenty.

So I announced we had a bit oh housekeeping to do – we left off last week right after the bugbear leader of the goblin ambushers became charmed by the wizard. I think the party thought they won and we would move on from there, but oh no, any time you have an evil charmed monster, it is a dicey situation. For one thing, the charm only lasts an hour, and the recipient of such charms always remembers being manipulated afterwards. They wanted to pump him for information and then slit his throat I am sure.

The problem was, Klarg treated the wizard as an old friend, but he was dismayed that his friend had fallen in with such a terrible group that included dwarves, the bugbears sworn enemy. What complicated matters even further was that they needed to find out where their boss, the DWARF Gundren, had been taken. The rest of the party hd outside in the hallway (guarded by Klar’g wolf) while the wizard questioned the bugbear alone in his chambers.

When the wizard slipped up and said that Gundren was his friend and employer, I had him roll a Charisma check. He rolled a natural 1. He has a -1 Charisma modifier. It was a zero. But this was a contest, so the bugbear only had to beat a zero on a d20 roll for a wisdom check to unearth the wizard’s secret love of dwarves. He rolled an 18. I don’t know when was the last time some one rolled a zero, maybe never. Needless to say, it ended in violence. The bugbear screamed in rage and after confirming that the wizard was indeed a dawrf-lover (he was) the bugbear attacked and amazingly missed every time, while the party eventually hacked off the wolves head and came to his rescue. In the middle of the battle the halfling rogue managed to calm everyone down, and agree to a cease-fire, then attempted to stab the bugbear in the back, and missed! They eventually took him down, and only learned the name of the place Gundren was taken- Cragmaw Castle. Fun times.

They collected the loot from the goblin ambushers, which amounted to twenty or so crates marked fr “Lionshield” and also Klarg’s personal stash of loot which didnt amount to much. (There are too many healing potions given out in this adventure.)

One other interesting note, is that when first entering the caves,v they found a group of wolves playing with a freshly severed arm. This turned out to be the arm of the retired officer Sildar, who was saved, and his arm re-attached, though the cleric needed to keep constant care over the arm for it to take. Sildar gave them some info on the ride into Phandelver, something about a wizard he was looking for who was meant to establish order in the outpost. He also said he thought Gundren had found the entrance to a legendary lost cave that had a magic item creation forge within, kn0own as the Wave Echo Cave.

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They arrived in town as the sun as setting, and paid to have their ox cart looked after while they took rooms in the quaint inn. The next day they visited each main locale, turning in the stolen goods, the caravan goods, spaking to the mayor about takin care of an orc band on the east road. The priestess of Tymora asked them to take a jeweled comb as a gift to a banshee in a ruined tower in hopes of learning where a wizard’s spell book might be found. there were a few other quests given out, such as finding a druid in the abandoned town of Tree-something, where the ranger has family, and a personal quest to slay the dragon who resides there. Dragon?!?! The druid might know where Cragmaw castle lay.

A few of the townsfolk offered them entry into certain groups, such as the Harpers, and a few others, if they complete their quests for them. The last place on the list to visit was the Miner’s Exchange, which was down the street from a rough looking tavern known as the Sleeping Giant. Four ne-er-do-wells were lounging outside the tavern calling the group a bunch of puppies. When the proprietess of the Miners Exchange offered them 10 gold for the head of the local gang’s head, a fellow named Glasstaff, the party was ready to oblige. Thus began a street brawl against the original four members of the Redtails, plus four more who came charging out of the tavern.

Fighting the Shirt Tails in Fandango

Fighting the Shirt Tails in Fandango

The fight was quick and deadly with both sides using cover and concealment until it ended up a knock-down brawl in the center of the street. One wizard set a few of them on fire with his flaming hands (does not alight clothing or equipment, but mentions nothing about charred corpses) while the other wizard turned one into a quickly melting ice sculpture with his ray of frost. That particular wizard appears to think he is a chicken, even though it has been repeatedly pointed out that he is merely wearing a feathered cloak and orange tights. One of the thugs managed to run off with a shout that he would warn the boss.

After the fight, a crowd had formed and cheered on the group. A halfling child (quarterling) told them he knew of a secret entrance to the basement of the ruined manor house,where the gang had their headquarters, so the group immediately set out (after a short rest for second wind and regaining a spell slot.)

The halfling led them to a dank tunnel stretching 100 feet into the hillside. He declined the offer to lead the way stating he is just a kid! Sheesh!

O NO NOT A NOTHIC

O NO NOT A NOTHIC

The tunnel led the way to a large natural cavern partially worked. There was a chasm cutting across it, two bridges crossing the chasm, and two pillars holding up the high ceiling. It was totally dark, so only the dwarf and elves could see. The dwarf cast light on the nearest pillar, which revealed a dark shadow crouched behind it. The shadowy figure ran into the nearby corridor. the entire party gave chase and made it halfway across the nearest wooden bridge before it collapsed under their weight. The only one to avoid the fall was the dwarf at the edge, who leapt back onto solid footing.

At this point everyone thought they were dead. It was pretty funny. But then I let them know the chasm was only 20 feet deep and covered with jagged rocks. They took some damage, climbed out, and did battle with the strange creature known as a Nothic.The text in the monster section describes it as being a corrupted wizard, but the picture looks like a crazed reptilian beast with a single huge eye almost as big as its head. It can cause those it gazes at to have really bad stomach cramps. It umped in and out of the chasm but finally the group was able to slaughter the foul beast and found its treasure chest, which included a magic sword, Talon! the noble fighter claimed the blade and we ended there for the night. Great game!

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