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Posts Tagged ‘advanced dungeons and dragons’

Beholder Lair

Beholder Lair

As our game group rollicks towards the ending of the Tiamat campaign, the characters are rising to levels rarely attained. Currently at level 12, the heroes are in the middle of traversing a magical maze that surrounds a wizard’s tower. The maze is constructed (with magic!) so that bypassing encounters or going over or around the maze was impossible. They kept coming to a clearing with a sundial pointing to one or more of the myriad pathways leading out of the clearing. 5 times the came to the clearing, and had to choose the right path. If they chose the wrong path, they wound up with an encounter.

Previously, they had made great choices and made it to the final clearing, before choosing the wrong path.

The maze gently curved around for a few moments, then they came to a place where the shrubbery was overgrown, making a narrow gap to squeeze through. On the other side, there was no way back, and the hedge had been replaced by tall, narrow stone walls. Everything was covered in slime, and a greenish haze made the area indistinct. They had unwittingly entered the Beholder’s Maze.

beholder lair2

Anatomy of a Beholder’s Lair

One of the great innovations of the fifth edition of the world’s most awesome role playing game is the inclusion of “lairs” for the deadliest, most iconic monsters. So far the party has fought a white and green dragon in their respective lairs, and it was challenging. The beholder also has rules included for its lair, which I adapted and used to great effect.

The lair of the beholder, as written, has some pretty intense affects. Once per round an eyeball can spawn anywhere within the lair and fire a random eye ray. Also, once per round, tentacles can appear and restrain a character, forcing them to have to break free or be immobilized. There is a third thing that can happen too but I forget what it was, blinding fog maybe?

Anyhow, I wanted my beholder to be unique, and so I gave it an extra power: a ninth eyestalk. This eyestalk held a blue gem instead of an eyeball (the gem is required to exit the encounter area) and the eye could fire a teleportation ray once per round in addition to its regular attacks. The character had to make a dex save or be teleported to a random quadrant of the lair. Great Fun!

The other unique aspect of this lair which was shaped like a maze, was the inclusion of a gelatinous cube. The combination of randomly teleporting, a gelatinous cube, and a maze full of tentacles and eyestalks made the encounter incredibly fun and challenging. In some ways it was reminiscent of some of the better 4th edition “set-piece” battles we have fought. So much importance was placed on movement and positioning.

Even under normal circumstances, the beholder is a dangerous foe. It projects a consant anti-magical field in a cone directly in front of it, (which I ruled projected out at 45 degree angles, so if the beholder placed himself just right in one of the corners of the lair, it could project anti-magic thoughout its entire lair.)

The wizard was reduced to a weeping wreck for most of the battle, as his magic was useless. The rest of the party used melee attacks to slowly whittle away at the beholder. For some odd reason I kept rolling 1’s to see which random eye stalk ray it fired each round, and the Charm Ray was far and away the most popular choice. Numerous characters were charmed during the battle, which was hilarious because I described the hideous beholder, and then told how the character started to look more than just skin deep to see the true beauty in the eye of the beholder. Put a blond wig and some lipstick on that beholder, and you’ve got a date!

At one hilarious point in the game, two characters were stuck in the gelatinous cube while the ranger plucked away at it with his bow, not caring that the characters inside the cube were taking half damage from every arrow.

At another point the gnome rogue was using her invisibility cloak when she got hit by a paralyzation ray, then sucked up by the cube. So she was invisible, paralyzed, and slowly melting into the cube and none of the other characters even knew where she was!

Incredibly the barbarian scored a critical hit with a thrown spear and somehow managed to score 52 hit points in damage. I was incredulous and made her add the total back up, and I was justified, it was only 51 hit points! This made a big difference in the last two rounds of the battle, in which the beholder charmed and disintegrated with great abandon.

The wizard finally girded his loins enough to make an attack, and positioned himself so he could throw a fireball at the beholder from behind. He hit and did, oh I don’t know how much damage, because the beholder only had one hit point left! (which is why that 52 points was so important earlier in the battle.  It gave the beholder two extra rounds of life.) It was incinerated and the blue gem fell to the ground and began blinking like it was going out of existence. The ranger picked up the gem and a door opened up in the far wll of the maze, an escape.

They somehow extricated themselves from the gelatinous cube mess, and rushed through the exit just before the gem winked out of existence, which would have reset the whole encounter. Close escape! This battle took up the majority of our 2 hour gaming session, and ranks in the top five battles of all time for me. What a blast!

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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.
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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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The bowels of Xak Tsaroth where Onyx lairs

The bowels of Xak Tsaroth where Onyx lairs

This is the bottom layer of the buried city of Xak Tsaroth, the lair of Kisanth the black dragon. Minor (and major) changes have been made but it keeps its general shape and essence.
xak-tsaroh004This is the shattered plaza where play begins. A river is joined in the center and flows down the center of the avenues, with crumbling buildings lining them.
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The maze
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This is a good image showing the three types of dungeon tiles used: D&D tiles are made from cardboard, Itar’s Workshop tiles are lighter grey with half as tall walls, half as thick floors.

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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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