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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 40 - Storm King's Thunder


Episode 40: Big Yak Attack
As we get ready to start, the players warn us that Chris has been smiling to himself and seems especially mischievous today.


Don't forget that the new adventure, Tales From the Yawning Portal, comes out in a few days. I imagine we'll see the crew do some stuff from that book. I would love to witness the Waffle Crew going through the Tomb of Horrors.

The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Joe) Harshnag - Frost Giant
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer

Chris sums up the story: Harshnag the frost giant led the party to the Icespire mountains. The heroes went up a staircase carved into a mountainside. They fought a chimera aka a Snorse (somebody made Snorse art, awesome) Between the group and the fire giant lair was a village of yikaria aka yakfolk.

The group tried to sneak through the yakfolk village by having Harshnag and Krak make a distraction. As they were about to cross the village, they saw two yakfolk beating slaves to death. Plans have changed! The group springs into action.

Strix drops a fireball on the bad guys and then she teleports onto a roof, but it's made of straw! he falls through the roof with Waffles, the baby owlbear, and lands in a pile of baskets. She’s in the chief’s hut.

Paultin gets hit by some arrows. A yak tries to hit Diath with some sort of banishment spell but he makes his save.

A yakfolk summons an earth elemental... yikes. It's coming for Diath.

Meanwhile, in the hut, Strix sees three naked elves. There are two males and one female. The males help her up. Jared points out that everything is coming up Strix.

The female elf, Halani, asks if she's come to rescue them. Strix says yes. Stirx decides to give them a task. She wants them to put on some clothes and go set some fires.

Chris refers to the yikaria bad guys as "Beef men" which cracks me up. Paultin casts crown of madness on the chief and it works! The chief turns against the other yakfolk.

Harshnag throws a spear at the water wheel. Natural 20! The wheel collapses and falls down the mountain, making a lot of noise. This is a whole thing in the published adventure.

Strix climbs out of the hut and.. falls again. She's outside. She fires a magic missile that kills one of the yakpeople.

The earth elemental melds into the ground. The group gets real nervous.

A yakfolk summons a floating weapon which begins to pound on Strix. The group is quite dismayed at the excessive spellcasting on display here.

Wow.. Paultin uses thunderwave to send SEVEN yakfolk falling over the cliff to their doom. Only the chief made his save.. and his crown of madness is gone.

Strix dispels the hovering magic weapon. The yakfolk caster shakes her fist ruefully at Strix. Suddenly, the earth elemental pops up out of the ground next to her. It pummels Strix and drops her. Poor little Waffles runs! He's running toward Paultin.

The priestess summons another spiritual weapon. It appears above Paultin. He’s got problems, because the chief draws his greatsword, which magically bursts into flame! Paultin takes a total of 35 points of damage! He's down.

Paultin had earlier tasked Simon with killing him some yaks. When he sees Paultin go down, he defies the orders and rushes over to him. Simon fires off a dart that kills the chief!

Evelyn casts command on the priestess and Anna tells her to FLEE in a way that makes me laugh. Priestess rolls a one on her save.

Diath spots some halflings wearing nothing more than grass skirts. Diath yells at them to beat up the priestess. They do so and are quite effective.

The earth elemental comes after Simon. The group is freaking out, except for Jared, who hates him. Simon gets squashed! Wow. Jared can't stop laughing. The other players are severely distressed.

Harshnag’s giant bird had grabbed Paultin and is flying him around, keeping him out of harm’s way. Paultin actually rolls a 20 on his death save and immediately awakens with one hit point. He sees that Simon has literally been crushed.

Diath drops the priestess. The group is very displeased to see that the earth elemental did not vanish when she died.

The elemental beats on Harshnag. He goes down! As he drops, Harshnag tries to grab the elemental and throw it over the side.. but in the struggle, both of them fall over the side and vanish into the waterfall chasm.

Paultin investigates the remains of Simon. Is Simon salvageable? He rolls an intelligence check. Natural one. He thinks Simon is gone forever. Paultin angrily mutters, "Diath will pay for this."

Poor Strix is still dying while the group gawks at Murderbot's remains.

Fight is over. Evelyn heals Strix. Paultin yells at Diath and asks him if he thinks it's funny. That's where we stop.

Nate won't be here next week. Jared laughs and says he might just take the remains of Murderbot and get rid of the evil mannequin for good.

Overall

Good show as always! This was one long battle but it never dragged. Things were constantly happening and it was funny the whole way through.

Are their characters going all the way to 20th level? I hope so. I know a lot of groups never get that high, I think it would be very cool to see. Strix will have so many awesome spells, it boggles the mind.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Wyrmsmere by Chris Perkins

Wyrmsmere is an old 2nd edition Chris Perkins adventure from the Dragon Magazine Annual 1996. It is only 9 pages long and was very easy to prepare.

I heavily modified it. As written, Wyrmsmere is about how a band of NPC adventurers has gone bad. I changed it so that Wyrmsmere Castle is the home of a green dragon that the group needs to deal with. The NPC adventurers are victims in my version, not bad guys.

Prior to the game, I sent the group some maps. The castle map is one of those old isometric deals.
 

If you look at the map of the surrounding land, you might notice little islands below the castle. If the group goes there first, they theoretically will skip to the end of the adventure.

That always gives me the creeps. You DMs might say to yourself, "They probably won't notice it." But players always do things you don't expect! In these cases, I just remove any mention of the place I'm worried they will go to, and I might even just physically move it somewhere else in the region, too.

The thing about that is sometimes, if you leave it, you end up with a fun session and no harm done. It's a tough choice to make.

Zavagor couldn't make it this week so I whipped up a way to get him out of the forest.

The Key Ring

(Andrew) Finy Teetoe - Halfling Rogue
(Pat) Gurn Sirensong - Gnome Bard
(Ashley) Lemuel - Human Rogue
(Joe) Zavagor - Half-orc Warlock

The heroes had just summoned an angel of love and drove off Toxin, the green dragon. I immediately started running Aurora as someone who really wants to spread love and friendship throughout the land.

The group headed to Wyrmsmere Castle. It was on an island in a lake about 200 feet from the shore.

The heroes smartly scanned the water and spotted creatures swimming around in there. They got Aurora, the angel of love, to fly them over the water and successfully avoided the creatures.

Before the group tried to enter the castle, Aurora said that the heroes should  express their warm love and fondness for each other. Finy did so reluctantly. Gurn created an illusion of himself saying it, which cracked me up.

The heroes decided to climb up to the roof with rope and a grappling hook. All but Lemuel had made it to the roof when the doors of the castle burst open. Vegepygmies poured out, looking quite ready to murder.

Lemuel was on the rope halfway up. The vegepygmies threw spears at the poor guy and he took a bit of damage.

Lemuel scrambled up the rope to the roof. The vegepygmies ran back inside the castle and up a stairwell that led up to where the heroes were.

On the roof, there was a little shack with a door that lead to the stairwell. Finy heard the bad guys coming up and he quickly rigged up a trap so that his explosive bottle of dragon's breath (made from the remains of the flame dragon) would fall and explode.

It worked! Two mold men were completely incinerated.

The others came up the stairs moments later and a massive battle was had. The group was having problems, because the vegepygmies kept regenerating. A hero would drop one, and it would just get up the next round.

Lemuel realized that fire was the key to killing them for real and spread the word. One mold man got set on fire and Finy tried to dump oil on it, but he ended up pouring some on his leg. His pants caught fire!

Thinking quickly, the angel of love swooped down, took off his pants and threw them off the roof.  Finy spent a lot of the rest of the session questing for pants.

The mold men were slain. Lemuel was hurt badly. The angel of love got to use one of her powers: Chaste Kiss. She kisses you on the forehead and you heal 32 points plus other stuff.

The angels of love are from a 4e ecology of the succubus article. They are what the succubi were before they turned to evil. I love the idea of goody-two shoes love-spreaders, so I actually statted them up for 5e. They're basically a good version of a succubus with some converted 4e powers thrown in. Here it is:

The group commenced with exploring the castle.

Wyrmsmere Castle is odd. There's almost nothing in it. I think that if you write an adventure with a location like this, don't break up the rooms into many smaller entries. Just do one entry for the whole floor and note the three things that are in it.

The group came upon Pellerax, the wizard who had apparently stolen the potions of green dragon control. Now he was hurt badly, partly covered in mold, barely breathing.

The angel of love used her chaste kiss to heal him of his condition. Pellerax explained that the doppleganger Skargle was here, and that he'd used russet mold on him. Russet mold turns you into a vegepygmy. It's in Volo's Guide to Monsters, page 196.

Pellerax told the group the deal: The NPC adventurers stole the potions of green dragon control to try to defeat Toxin, the dragon who is plaguing the city. The group stole the potions from Aryzon (who is secretly a silver dragon) because they mistook his mysterious "wink, wink" nature as an indication of evil, not good. They thought he might be a secret ally of Toxin.

After some more searching, the group went down into the cellar. Pellerax said that he believed there was a tunnel there that lead to Toxin's lair.

In the cellar was a well and a halfling, who was a member of Pellerax's party. They'd gotten split up while battling a horde of mold men before the heroes arrived.

The halfling, Lucky, was lowering a rope into the well. The well was empty and the tunnel was at the bottom of it. After some chatting, Lucky urged the group to climb down. Lemuel began to climb, as did Pellerax. Finy and Gurn stopped... something was off.

They thought Lucky was a little too insistent on going last. They started to question him and Luck got nervous. The jig was up. The halfling suddenly grew and transformed. His pants exploded like the hulk. Lucky was quite upset, because he really could have used those pants.

Lucky revealed that he was actually Skargle the doppelganger.

Skargle CUT THE ROPE. Pellerax fell 100 feet and splatted in the tunnel. Lemuel made his save and grabbed onto a rock that was jutting out of the wall. He was hanging there, about 20 feet from the top of the well.

I think Lemuel climbed out of the well on his first or second turn.

The battle commenced. Skargle smashed a jar on the ground and a spore cloud enveloped the heroes. Russet mold!

They had to save every round, or be poisoned and take damage. If they died from it, they'd become vegepygmies in 24 hours.

A few of the heroes failed their saves, but shook the poison off after a few rounds. They stabbed Skargle a few times and then Finy shoved him into the well!

Skargle grabbed onto the side of the wall in the well. Finy dumped oil on Skargle and lit him on fire. Poor Skargle. He died, but his death grip kept him right where was, hanging on the side of the well.

The group climbed down the well into the tunnel. They saw that poor Pellerax was 100% dead. They headed down a slippery, muddy slope for a few hundred feet. They came upon a room with a pool of water. On the wall, somebody had scrawled "Beware the fish."


The adventurers saw no creatures or fish in the water at all. They cautiously swam in the water to the exit on the other side of the room. Nothing happened.

The group came to a split. There were three tunnels heading off into three different directions. They took the left one, which led them to an extremely dark cave. Finy cautiously lit his lantern and crept ever so slowly into the cave. Lemuel followed.

The room lit up. The walls of the cave were lined with... Russet mold! That's where we stopped.

I'm not sure if I can convey it in writing, but this might have been my favorite session so far. The players had me laughing for the better part of two hours. The exploding pants, the illusions of hugs, their banter with the angel, it was hilarious.

We should wrap up this adventure next week!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Planescape - Blood War IV. Sailing the River Styx

I had read an article in an old issue of Dragon Magazine that detailed what sailing through the outer planes on the River Styx would be like. I really liked it, so I based tonight's session on it.

I also worked in material from Wrath of the Righteous. I will be pulling stuff out of there for a long time.

Parental Advisory: This is one of my more perverted sessions, so you might want to skip this if that's not your thing. I'll try to keep it clean but there's really no way to describe a penis cannon in polite company.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Elf Wizard 

The heroes own a cluster of buildings in Sigil called Deadbook Square.

We started off dealing with downtime. For whatever reason, this downtime stuff is always the best part of my sessions. It's always been like that since I was a kid and I don't know why.

The heroes had hired an ogre to work at their festhall last session. They decided to bring the ogre over to Bidam's little procreation farm in the abyssal realm of Azzagrat.

The ogre made some babies with Mother of All, the monster-woman who launches eggs and babies at people. Each session, I'm trying to use this as a way to introduce new types of demons.

This past week I got a piece of art from an artist who doesn't speak much english. I had asked for a corruption devil, but got this:

That's not a corruption devil, but I liked it, so I took it. This week, that's the creature that came out of Mother of All. It has a monocle that is fiery, apparently.

Alternative Facts: Then the heroes checked in on Theran's settlement, the earthmote-city/citadel of Tornbend. They learned that my Donald Trump NPC ("Gonard Flumph") had sent two imps to spread FAKE NEWS.

The populace was freaking out over rumors that there was a pedophile ring in the basement of the nursery where Grazz't's babies are kept. Theran disproved this by pointing out that there is no basement in the nursery.

The sexy devil nurse lady had been beaten by the citizens quite badly. Theran found the imps and blew them away with spells. To his dismay, he saw them disperse into clouds of brimstone. He had forgotten that devils only truly die when they are slain in hell.

Azzagrat is a demon realm, but there are some devils there because Grazz't is trying to actually unite the demons and devils into one massive army.

Theran patched up the nurse and they ended up entering into "activities of passion", as they say in second edition.

Beast Pox: Bidam went home to Sigil. The group had helped one of their employees, Floozy St. Assland, with a problem a while back. The adventurers had paid to cure Floozy’s parents of a disease called Slimy Doom.

Now that she’d saved up some money, Floozy bought her cursed parents a home in the Clerk's Ward and got herself a dumpy little apartment in the extremely smoggy section of the Lower Ward.

She was excited because she discovered that a portal was in there. She wanted Bidam to help her go into it and check it out in case it was dangerous.

The key to this portal is to hold hands. So, they held hands and stepped through. It lead to the Beastlands, a place the heroes had gone way back in the Great Modron March. They emerged right near the mortai (cloud with a face in it that blows wind). The mortai's name is Breath of Life, and he said hello in a booming voice.

When you stay in the Beastlands for a little while, you get Beast Pox. You start to gain some physical features of the animal that best represents your soul. Bidam is a pit bull. Floozy is a peacock! She got all shiny and had a massive peacock plume/wings growing out of her back.

Every session I give Bidam a choice. Until recently, Bidam was quite the ladies' man. But now he has two dragon-kids with the demon lord Bazuuma. He has this ring that gives him an emotional link to her.

So every session a lady comes on to Bidam, and then Bidam senses Bazuuma's positivity and thoughts through the ring and he must CHOOSE. Every single time he picks Bazuuma.
  • Family Time: He bid Floozy adieu and went to Bazuuma's abyssal realm. I had made up a whole bunch of demonic "family activities":
  • Demon Whale-Watching: The ancient whale demon lord, Bechard, shot blood and gore into the air through his mighty blowhole.
  • Breathing Breath: He taught Pyranica, his dragon wyrmling daughter, how to breathe her breath weapon.
  • Bedtime: Then he tucked them in and read them a bedtime story: "The Cat and the Cranium Rat" by Dr. Deuce. Obviously this is a dumb Dr. Seuss joke. This joke was much more well-received than I expected and the group was disappointed that I hadn't made up any lines from the book. I might do that for next week.
  • Blanket of Positivity: Then Bazuuma and Bidam spooned. Bazuuma has positive energy flowing through her. This spooning gave Bidam overhealing like he got when he went to the actual plane of positive energy. In this case, I declared he had 50 temporary hit points that would fade in 24 hours if they were not whittled down before then.
Rescue Mission: Next day, the group had a special mission to embark upon. The heroes work with the devil army. During a battle on the infinite staircase, many devil soldiers fell off the side of the stairs and landed in random planes.

One devil who fell was a spy named Cavus. Using magic, the devils determined that Cavus had fallen into the abyss and was currently a prisoner of Malcanthet, the Succubus Queen.

This was not good, because the demons would probably torture him and learn all sorts of devil secrets that might hinder their efforts in the Blood War.

The heroes have a magic pirate ship crewed by a skeleton pirate named Captain Ricketshanks. It has an orrery of the planes on it, it can fly like a spelljammer, and the group can summon it and dismiss it with their magic whalebone scrimshaw.

The heroes grabbed some NPCs to crew the ship:
  • Acolytes of a good goddess. These acolytes were members of a tribe that the heroes rescued during the Nemesis adventure.
  • Fall From Grace, the group's trusty succubus paladin friend.
  • Bovina the cow lady. She's a lady minotaur, basically. Bovina is an NPC that I haven't used in a while and I thought that she'd ask to come just so we could put her in the spotlight a little bit.
The group used a portal to get to the River Styx through the plane of the Gray Waste. They sailed through magic fog which shifted them to the Abyss. The first layer they entered was Thanatos, Orcus' realm.

Thanatos

Terendelev the Ravener
In my campaign, Orcus is dead and the Pathfinder demon lord Lamashtu has taken it over. This place is what the devil army wants to overtake and claim for themselves. Secretly, the pit fiend general Drokkarn wants to rule it and become a demon lord himself. The idea is that this whole Blood War thing will culminate with the group fighting Lamashtu herself.

I busted out the extreme cold rules and the crew began gaining levels of exhaustion. There were chunks of Styx-ice in the water big enough to block the ship. Bidam used his breath weapon to melt them.

The group spotted ruins on the shore connected to Orcs. Since Bidam has a connection with Orcus (aka "Tenebrous"), they decided to check it out. It was home to an agent of Orcus - an undead dragon named Terendelev, from Wrath of the Righteous.

The thing I like most about her is that she's actually the corrupted undead remains of a good-aligned silver dragon..

The group made friends with her and she will be an ally for when the heroes and the devils try to overtake Thanatos down the road.

Shedaklah

The heroes sailed through the mist and appeared in Shedaklah, the home of both Zuggtmoy (demon queen of fungi) and Juiblex (demon lord of oozes).

The thing I like most about this is that the Styx is the border between the two domains. So on the left of the ship was a misty mushroom forest. On the right were fields of burbling slime pits.

The ship ended up sailing into what they thought was mist but was instead a spore cloud. The heroes made their saving throws, but the crew did not. They acolytes began to hallucinate, thinking that everyone else had "slime cysts" that oozes were erupting out of.

During the chaos, three creatures crept onto the ship: A gray ooze, an ochre jelly and a black pudding.

We had ourselves a combat. A lot of it was centered around the group trying to figure out what would hurt the different types of oozes. Bidam was in a bind, because the oozes are immune to slashing damage and when hit with slashing, they split into two.

The heroes ended up using chromatic orb spells to take out the oozes. During the battle, a few acolytes died.

Bovina the cow lady bravely took a mace and rolled really well through the whole encounter. The heroes were impressed!

Goranthis

Sister Perversion
Sailing on, the group came to Goranthis, the abyssal realm of Socothbenoth. I had thought that Socothbenoth was a Pathfinder creation but it turns out he was actually in a few D&D products first. I just combined the lore of both versions.

It actually says in the Dragon Magazine article that there are "pornographic waterfalls" here, because Socothbenoth is a demon lord of adult activities.

So that meant I was obligated to figure out what exactly pornographic waterfalls were. I concocted a series of challenges based on different types of genitalia. The best one was these penis cannons that shot sticky globs of webbing. Bidam had an awesome idea - use ice spells to freeze the cannons which obviously forces them to shrivel up due to the cold. Well done, adventurer!

On the shore, they spotted a brothel. This location is right out of Wrath of the Righteous. In that path, the group comes to the brothel to obtain a magic item. In this, I just figured the group might want to make a deal with them and expand their business empire.

The brothel is full of stuff I found amusing. The succubi and incubi who work there are known as "The Pleasers". Here's some of them:
  • Ismarelda: A dark-skinned contortionist.
  • Micajah: An androgynous red-skinned male with black, feathered wings.
  • Mahulda: A lavender-skinned soft-spoken hermaphrodite.
There's only 4 customers. I worked out a storyline where the brothel is struggling. I mean, you're in a plane of perversion, you probably don't have to pay for this kind of thing.

The group met with the owner of this place... SISTER PERVERSION. The names just crack me up. In the adventure, she's a type of Pathfinder monster known as a "seraptis demon." They are basically suicide-themed monsters.

I don't want suicide demons in my game, so I changed their gimmick. Now, the seraptis demons just want to hug you with their four arms and never let go.

The group made a deal with her. The heroes are going to set up a teleportation circle in Sigil to send the demons customers and share the profits.

This brothel uses souls as currency. So the heroes are going to go into the hive, find some evil scumbags (the hive is full of them) and send them and their souls to THE PLEASERS.

The Midnight Isles

Minagho, daughter of Baphomet

They sailed on and entered into The Midnight Isles, another Pathfinder location. The Midnight Isles are the home plane of Nocticula, a Pathfinder demon lord of succubi and assassins.

Each isle represents one of the twenty demon lords that Nocticula has assassinated.

The group was sailing along quite nicely when an evil pirate ship came into view. Its captain was Minagho, a daughter of the demon lord of minotaurs, Baphomet.

Minagho has a really cool backstory. She failed her father, and he has cursed her to be constantly in pain. She's trying to win back his favor to remove her curse.

We ran out of time, so that's where we stopped. Next session, we'll do this battle, and then the group will have to somehow rescue a prisoner from the palace of the Queen of the Succubi, Malcanthet.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Binwin's Minions - PAX South 2017

You can listen to this on soundcloud.

It’s only and hour long and it is good.

There's an online Binwin's Minions comic here.

This game was held a few months ago. Scott Kurtz, who played Binwin on Acquisitions Incorporated, has left to do his own show. Binwin’s Minions will be released as a pen and paper RPG product, and the plan is to make other things like video games out of it, too.

There weren’t any formal introductions. The Dungeon Master is Chris Perkins. Three of the players are Scott Kurtz (Binwin), Tavis Maiden and Bill Roper. There are two other players whose names I can’t find..

Binwin is 7th level, and the minions (the other characters) seem to be like 4e minions: They have one hit point.

The Story: Binwin’s mother gave him a dwarven queststone. The queststones are ancient dwarven stones that contain the soul of a dwarven adventurer. The stone chooses a dwarven warrior to continue questing so that the dwarf spirit can live vicariously through the bearer. The stones can bring people back to life.

So basically, the heroes go through a deadly dungeon. They die a lot, but they’re brought back to life almost immediately. It seems like the stone doesn’t raise the dead until whatever room the group is in has been completed.

Binwin has a map to a place called Keep Ikillya in the Dessarin Valley. The keep is in ruins but the dungeon below is intact.

The Party: Binwin is bringing along 4 minions: Thief, Druid, Wizard, Warrior.

The heroes arrive at the keep. They spot a hole in the wall with a staircase leading down. The queststone in hand, Binwin shoves the druid toward the stairs.

The d20 Room

At the bottom of the stairs is a long hallway. There's a yellow gem that glows faintly. There's a lever near it in the up position and a ramp sloping down. There's a message scrawled in the back wall in dwarvish.

The druid is all alone. She decides to.. pull the lever! Wow. There's a yellow flash of light and silence... the rest of the group calls to her. No response.

Binwin pushes the warrior in. The thief quietly follows behind him.

They go down and see a stone d20. The writing on the wall says: "The odds are good that even you will die." He grabs the d20 and rolls it down a ramp.

I think the druid was polymorphed into the die. Chris asks the druid to roll a d20. It's even. Crunching sound. Warrior is dead. So when the heroes roll the stone d20, an even number means they die.

The thief pulls the lever. Flashes of light. Silence. Binwin is at the top. He takes the wizard and they go down. They see two stone dice on the floor.

There's a huge stone hammer floating at the bottom of the ramp. Each of them picks up a die and rolls. It is confirmed that the warrior and rogue have each become one of the dice. They both roll. One odd, one even. The guy who rolled even has a power called "roll backwards." He rolls again and gets odds.

The magic hammer apparently has been crushing killing those who roll even. Binwin pushes the wizard down the ramp. The hammer smashes him to a pulp.

Binwin slides down the ramp. The mallet pounds on his head and he takes 20 points of damage.

At the bottom of the ramp is a door of blue stone. Binwin's the only person left, so he goes to bash it open. Strength check, he rolls a 20! He smashes the door open.

The two dice turn back into the warrior and the rogue. Binwin uses the quest stone to bring the others back to life.

The Costume Room

Beyond the door is a long hallway. There's a row of TEN pulsating yellow gems embedded in the ceiling. There are a few side rooms containing kobold masks, bat costumes, windup metal rats, and a suit of dwarven armor covered in mirrors. There is also a carrion crawler carcass.

Binwin puts on the mirror armor. The wizard puts on the bat costume. Binwin winds up a rat and sends it down the hallway toward the yellow gems. Yellow-colored lasers shoot from the gems. Four miss, one hits and destroys the mouse.

A hero puts on the carrion crawler carcass, thinking it might offer laser protection. One character looks up the carrion crawler in hi monster manual, which his character actually has. He learns that they feed on waste and can walk on walls and ceilings. 

The carcass is heavy. All of the minions get in it. Human centipede jokes flying left and right. While in the carcass, the group can actually walk on the walls. They climb across the ceiling and apply green paint to the gems. They paint all of the gems with green paint, which stops them from firing lasers.

Room cleared! Blue stone door. Binwin takes off the mirror armor. I wonder if that armor would have reflected the lasers at his allies. That would have been fun to see.

The Puzzle Room

Binwin bashes the door open. 4 statues of dwarves with levers near them. It’s a puzzle that the crowd figures out right away. Binwin takes their advice and pulls the correct lever. A staircase forms in the floor, leading down.

The Stone Roller Room and the Huge Dwarven Face

Binwin pushes the warrior down the stairs. Down below is a hallway block by a massive, turning stone roller. Carved into the roller are humanoid shapes. Wow, are they going to have to jump in and ride through.

Binwin wonders how he's going to fill these holes.

The thief has an ability: Disarm traps slowly. He decides to try it. The thief jams his crowbar into the side.. the crowbar snaps. A piece of the crowbar flies into the wizard's skull and kills him. The druid is covered in gore and fluids.

The druid tries to jump into one of the holes. She rolls bad... she gets squashed and the roller is covered in druid blood.

The warrior jumps into a hole... rolls a 20! Gets through. On the other side is the room with a huge, stone dwarven hear. The dwarf’s beard carpets most of the room. There are more yellow gems in alcoves. In the alcoves are treasure chests overflowing with gold.

The warrior tests the beard by dropping something on it. The stone dwarf’s mouth opens and lets out a mighty belch of methane gas. A blast of flame consumes the warrior.

The thief tries to go through the roller. Rolls a 12. Dead! Gore.. his green paint splatters everywhere.

Binwin is all alone. He doesn't want to go in, but he's going to have to. He rolls... 16! He makes it through the roller. What would happen if Binwin died? He has the stone and everyone would be dead. Maybe the stone would raise all of them.

Once he is safely through, Binwin uses the quest stone to resurrect the minions.

The wizard realizes that he has color spray, which probably can nullify the gems.

Binwin throws the wizard over the beard. In mid-air he casts color spray at two of the gems. The spell indeed disrupts their power. The gem and the treasure disappear. The treasure is illusory.

Binwin throws the druid to the other side. She lands safely. She throws her fetching stick toward a treasure chest. It is disintegrated. The druid finds a hidden lever.

She pulls it. A thunking sound comes from the stone head. A stone comes tumbling out of the dwarf's nose. It rolls to Binwin's feet. It is a new quest stone.

The group is dismayed to find out that's all they got. Binwin is pleased. That’s the end!

Overall

This was a very fun show, nice and short but a lot of stuff got done. I didn’t really get a sense of what the other players are like. Scott was very into it, and that made it a good listen.

I've always loved deathtrap dungeons, especially as a player. The problem has always been that my fellow players hate them. I have literally had players refuse to even try a deathtrap dungeon, even after much cajoling.

So I really like this show and I would love to run this dungeon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 39 - Storm King's Thunder

Episode 39: Fortune Favors the Cold
This is a really good episode, so you might want to watch it before reading about it. The first hour is especially fantastic.

The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Joe) Harshnag - Frost Giant
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer

Ironslag side view

Last time, the group fought some yakfolk and met Harshnag, the frost giant. Teamed up with him and Krak Dragonspore, the Waffle Crew is heading to Ironslag, home of the fire giants. Krak wears lots of armor and he has golden glowing eyes.

After 3 days of travel, the adventurers arrive at Ironslag. It’s a huge place that has a number of entrances. There is a path that winds hundreds of feet up to the mountain. It leads to the yakfolk village.

Evelyn flies up to check things out. She notices a cave halfway up the winding path. She yells into it. A creature inside responds with animal noised. After careful consideration, Evelyn thinks it sounds like a snakehorse. Nope.. it's a chimera!

Yikes. Good thing she can fly. The chimera lunges for her. Evelyn had been hoping they could be friends. It bites her and she continues to call it a snakehorse, or "Snorse". Or maybe Snh'orse.

It breathes fire on her. Far off, the group sees a gout of flame erupt from the cave mouth. She takes 31 points of damage! The heroes try to figure out how to get to her in a swift manner.

Evelyn is dismayed. Her brand new clothes are destroyed. Later, the players are alerted by the chat that prestidigitation can fix up the clothing.

The group is 150 feet below the scene of the battle. Paultin uses dimension door to take himself and Diath up there. Strix Hollymorphs into a vulture and flies up. Poor Harshnag has to hoof it. He sends his giant bird to go help.
Meanwhile, Evelyn is taking a lot of damage. She has 10 hit points left. The chimera hits her again and drops her.

Paultin and Diath appear in the cave. Paultin has an awesome idea. He casts crown of madness, forcing the lion head to attack the dragon head.

As the battle progresses, Diath ends up on the chimera as it flies out of the cave and fights Harshnag's giant hawk. He's 350 feet in the air. Diath stabs the chimera and tries to run on its back and leap back to the safety of the cave.

Oh no.. Diath rolls a 4 on his Athletics check. He falls! Strix is in vulture form and catches him. It’s a good thing he got off. The chimera kills itself due to the crown of madness.

Strix wants the corpse. Harshnag tries to catch it as it falls, but he tweaks his back and it falls all the way down.

The heroes try to make a heal check on Evelyn. Paultin uses his bardic inspiration to give +d8 to the roll. Nate is on fire today! The group is so impressed that they demand he get an actual inspiration point. Chris gives him one.

There's loot in the cave:
  • Dust of Disappearance
  • Potion of Slipperyness
  • Other random stuff, like a gnomish music box
Everyone rests. When it is done, Evelyn is up and healed. She apologies to the group for failing to protect them. Harshnag consoles her, talking about danger. Paultin: "In the end, the chimera's greatest enemy was itself." Truly, this is Nate’s finest hour.

The Yakfolk Village

Diath scouts out the yakfolk village. He comes back and tells the group the layout. Strix feels bad about disrupting the lives of the yakfolk. She wants to polymorph into the form of a yakfolk to infiltrate their place.

Wow. She doesn't know this, but the yakfolk are extremely evil. She should not do this!

The group ends up making an elaborate plan and execute it. Harshnag and Krak attack an area of the settlement while Strix ends up blowing up a bridge. The heroes rush for the entrance amidst the chaos.

Then they see the yakfolk dragging their slaves out of their huts. The yakmen begin killing them! That’s where we stop.

When you read Storm King, that yakfolk stuff really sticks out. That “kill the slaves” thing is right out of the text.

Great show, maybe one of my favorites! Everybody was hilarious and Nate was really, really good.

Adventures in Eberron - The Shadow Dragon

This past Sunday we played some more of the 5e Eberron campaign. I am running an 8th level sorcerer with a big beard.

Our group in this castle trying to rescue the soul of a warforged. Apparently, this situation occurred as the result of the warforged drawing from the deck of many things long ago.

The Sleeper: We headed to the torture room and in there, we found the soul. The warforged's soul appeared as a light-skinned elf that was strapped to a torture device.

I don't know anything about Eberron and I really like learning about it through playing. I learned that in Eberron, where warforged souls come from is a bit of a mystery. 

The soul was bound by three chains, each with a padlock. We had found one of the keys already. We needed to find the other two to free the soul.

We continued to explore and ran into a really strange gravedigger. He talked about how once we freed the soul, "The Sleeper" would awaken and kill us. The Sleeper was a shadow dragon!

I couldn't figure out what we should do once that happened. When we freed the soul, should we fight the dragon or just try to escape the castle?

We headed upstairs and actually came upon the sleeping dragon. It was resting partly on a throne. We saw a secret compartment in the seat of the throne, but couldn't get to it without risking waking up the dragon.

Fighting Babies: After that, we headed to the top floor, which is full of bedrooms. We ran into a little kid who could transform into a giant. This little crapper tried to push us down the stairs. We beat him up.

It's a little weird fighting kids in D&D, even giant ones. I remember reading about how they were going to put a monster called a "carabum" in the Fiendish Codex II. A carabum is a devil baby with wings, like an evil cherub.

They decided they probably shouldn't put babies, even devil babies, in the book.

I think it might be OK if you have it where the baby is clearly made of goop, or it's a construct. When “slain,” it reverts to liquid form and will reform soon.

I think cherubs need to be in D&D. I think they are hilarious. Maybe that's just me.

The Succubus: Moving on to the next room, we ran into an NPC who pops up quite often. She is Tanya, a succubus with big 80's hair.

Tanya said all this mysterious stuff. Clearly she was up to something. I decided to lay it on the line. I told her that she needed to pick a side. We needed to know if we could trust her (I know we probably can't but I think it will be fun to see what happens).

We got into this big conversation and she revealed that she wants to draw from our deck of many things. We have hidden it in a special place.

We heroes discussed it. The fighter and I were cool with it, the wizard was not. We were obviously wary that Tanya was going to try to steal it or do something nefarious. I said I would hold the deck and she could draw from it.

I told the succubus that I was going to trust her from here on out, and as far as I was concerned, she was an honorary Interloper. That's our group name: The Interlopers. We interlope regularly and are always defeated by our greatest foe: locked doors.

Later, I brought her a bunch of flowers with a note attached that said: "Interlope responsibly."

The Shadow Blossom: We continued exploring. We came upon a conservatory with a crazy gardner-type. He attacked us and I thought this was a good time to put out the old wand of wonder. Unfortunately, it filled the room with a stinking cloud.

That's the thing about the wand. I'd use it all the time, but I don't want to hurt the other heroes. I always make sure they are cool with me using it before I do so.

There was a shadow blossom in this room. It fed on blood. I put the dead body of the gardener at the base of the blossom. It grew quite large quite fast as it drank the blood.

The White Bride: After that, we found the white bride, one of the owners of this place. She was a cambion. It's tough to pick the right spells as a caster. I knew that taking fireball would be a problem as a lot of creatures have fire resistance or immunity.

I made sure to take magic missile as a backup. The thing is... magic missile is boring. Fireball is awesome. Anyway.. she was immune to fire.

I have a dagger of venom. I drew it and used an action to coat it with poison. I repeatedly tried to stab this lady but melee isn't my thing.

Our fighter took her down. The poison on the dagger lasts for one minute. I charged blindly into the next room hoping there was an enemy to stab before my poison ran out. I ran right into... a swarm of bats.

I stabbed at them and rolled... a natural 20. I killed a swarm of bats with a single swipe of my dagger of venom. I like to imagine it as if I stabbed a single bat and they all dropped somehow because of it. Or maybe I hit one, which caused a chain reaction where the bats bumped into each other and caused a bookcase to fall on them or something.

The Final Battle: We found one key in the bride's room and another in a temple. We rested and then freed the warforged soul.

The dragon came right after us! We all spread out, using the interconnected rooms to our advantage.

Our wizard is very smart. She ran to the throne and pulled open the secret compartment. In it was a chest full of the dragon's treasure hoard! She put it in a magic container and rejoined us. I had completely forgotten about that compartment!

Our fighter had two arrows of dragon slaying, but he had a hard time hitting. The dragon breathed on him, and down went our fighter!

The dragon turned and went at the wizard. I ran over and administered a potion of greater healing to him.

The dragon breathed on the wizard, and she went down!

I ran through some side rooms and was able to give the wizard a potion while the fighter fought the dragon.

Then we unloaded on the dragon with all of our big spells. It's immune to fire, consarn it.

It had two hit points left, as I understand, when it breathed on the fighter again. He actually died. Not death saves... just dead.

The dragon had two hit points left. One level 1 magic missile took care of that!

Our fighter is dead and our excursion through the castle is over. We still don't know what the heck is going on with the deck and the Lords of Dust.

Next time, we're going to bring the fighter to a temple to get resurrected. Honestly, I kind of like it when characters die once in a while. As a player, I want to feel like there is legit danger in an adventure. If someone is going to die, it should be during a fight with a shadow dragon, right?

It was a good game as always. We're playing online and it works just fine.

The DM just emailed me the dragon’s treasure hoard. Here's the loot:

270 cp
4,200 sp
1,500 gp
99 pp
Assorted Treasure:
  • Silver necklace with a purple amethyst gemstone pendant, and the image of a red dragon's face inside the gem (worth 250 gp)
  • Box of turquoise bullette figurines (250 gp)
  • Large gold bracelet with the Ring of Siberys, the Saturn-like ring of dragonshards floating above the world, carved into it (worth 250 gp)
  • Gold ring set with bloodstones - opaque dark grey gems with red flecks - bearing the insignia of a gnomish goldsmith from Zilargo who's been dead for 100 years (worth 250 gp)
  • A Large well-made tapestry depicting the Feast of Boldrei, an old Sovereign Host fable about the civilized Sovereign Host gods and the wild Dark Six gods (worth 250 gp)
  • A carved ivory statuette of the last monarch of unifed Galifar, crying over a dead baby - likely made at the start of the Last War (worth 250 gp)
Magic Items:
  • Ring of Spell Storing (DMG p. 192) containing a 4th-level cure wounds
    Longbow +2
    Cloak of Displacement (DMG p. 158)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Acquisitions Incorporated: Pax East 2017

You can watch this show on twitch here.

If you missed it, you can watch the Acquisitions, Inc holiday special right here.

It is time for another Acquisitions, Inc show! They are in a weird, transitional time. This live show is going to set up the new season of the youtube show, where Jerry, the guy who plays Omin, will be the dungeon master.

The animated intro to this thing is so great. These things are really well done and really funny. I would love to see them make an animated version of one of these entire live shows. I'd imagine that would be ridiculously expensive to do.

Viari is staying with his Dunstucker family, for now, so we’ve got Kris Straub jumping in. He does all sorts of internet stuff.

The Party

(Jerry) Omin Dran - Half-Elf Cleric
(Mike) Jim Darkmagic - Human Wizard
(Morgan) Morgaen - Elf Ranger
(Kris) K'thriss Drow’b - Drow Warlock

The heroes are 9th level and the group is still staying at the Yawning Portal. At the end of the last game, Omin learned that his sisters are dead. Their bodies are in Waterdeep’s temple of Tymora, goddess of luck.

Chris starts us off asking each player what their character’s morning routine is:
  • Omin: Spends up to 10 minutes picking boots to wear and then he goes over his crusty files.
  • Morgaen: She takes an anti-bath bath - makes herself smell like forest and animals. Then she eats ancient leftovers.
  • Jim: He wakes up next to some stranger and sneaks out. He casts mage armor.  We learn that he sometimes uses the spell as a prophylactic.
We learn that K'Thriss was invited to join Force Grey. He's been spying on Acquisitions Inc to see if he should join them instead. He likes to watch people sleep.

His morning routine is quite weird. A long tentacled shadow merges with his shadow every morning.

The group meets and interviews K'Thriss. At first, Jim is threatened by the idea of having another caster in the party. But by the end, he thinks K’Thriss is cool and he wants to get matching tattoos.

With K’Thriss joining the group in what seems to be an unofficial capacity, we move on to the temple. We learn that Auspicia died when the cloud castle crashed. Portentia committed suicide when she found out Auspicia died. Wow, that’s pretty crazy.

Omin casts raise dead on the corpse of Portentia. It doesn't work. Omin senses that something has stolen her soul. Omin breaks a stained glass window in anger.

To try to figure out what is going on, Omin convinces K'thriss to cast contact other plane. With this spell, he must make a save. If he fails, he goes insane.

His roll: Natural one.


Crowd flips out. This is the really great thing about live D&D. Things like this happen in sessions quite a bit and the crowd reaction makes it so much better.

He rolls on the insanity chart. His result: "I can't take anything seriously. The more serious it is, the funnier it is." Since he’s hanging out with Omin and his two dead sisters, K’thriss starts cracking up.

The priestess in the temple casts Divination for Omin. It is successful, and the priestess reports that Tymora knows why the raise dead failed, but because he broke the window, Tymora is going to make him go on a quest first.

Omin must seek out the Eye of the All Father. He must offer it a gift worthy of giantkind and it will tell what he needs to know. This is right out of Storm King's Thunder.

The heroes will need to bring the Allfather a gift and they have no idea what to get. Omin knows of one giant in Waterdeep... Harshnag! Harshnag was on Dice, Camera, Action this week. I love even the hint of continuity between all of these shows.

Harshnag gives the group a magic ring to give to the Allfather. The heroes board their airship and head out to the north. There is huge video screen behind the group on stage. It changes to show falling. That's really cool and the crowd likes it.

Jim notices something’s not right with his arms. He has black veins and his arm is necrotizing. He's got some kind of curse. Remove curse is cast... doesn't work.

During the journey, Morgaen repeatedly spots a white dragon in the clouds. This is a dragon the group has encountered before. I wonder if it’s the same one the heroes spotted on Dice, Camera, Action back on the first owlbear episode.

Over the course of the trip, Jim's curse gets worse. He loses two of his max hp! Yikes.


They arrive at the Allfather's place. Outside of it are carvings of giants. There are huge glyphs written in ancient giant. There's a rune for each type of giant.

To the dismay of the adventurers, there are frost giants inside. They may also be here to meet with the Allfather. The group tries to stealth their way closer. Omin rolls bad. A giant hears him and investigates, but doesn't find the group.

The group continues stealthing. Omin rolls another stealth.. he rolls a natural 1! We have ourselves a combat.

The giants are on ice skates and they are wielding hockey sticks. They actually have pucks, too.

One puck hits Omin and does 56 points of damage! He's hit again and now he's dying. Poor Omin spends most of the encounter rolling death saves.

 Jim casts animate object and animates a giant statue. It can't walk but it can swing a sword.

As this fight progresses, the crowd gets real shout-y. Individuals keep yelling out rules stuff and suggestions. At first, it’s helpful, but it gets annoying as the rounds pass.

Eventually, a female frost giant arrives and says something to the other giants. They leave. That was a rough fight for the group. It was looking quite grim.

The heroes make their way to the Allfather. They stand in a magic circle and hold up the magic ring, their offering. It vanishes. Morgaen speaks giant and communicates with the Allfather.

They are allowed four questions. Here’s what we learn:
  • Portentia's soul is inside an artifact called The Soulmonger.
  • Look for a lost city in a distant land. Let the children of Uptau guide you.
  • The Soulmonger is draining life from those who have been raised from the dead.
  • It's in a dungeon under a city. The heroes must defeat the Sewn sisters and their child (?).
That’s where we stop!

Overall

They do a really good job of picking people for these shows. It seems like the most important thing is a quick wit. There is definitely a sort of improv comedy element to these things. Kriss was excellent, as was Morgan.

Something was off about this show. It definitely needed something, a twist or event. Couple that with new players and it makes for a different experience than normal.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - The Bad Lick Beast

We had what was my favorite session of the campaign so far yesterday.  We are continuing to play through a conversion of The Chained Coffin.

The group is trying to bring a coffin to a holy site known as the Luhsaal Wheel. There, the spirit in the coffin can be freed and the group can stop a guy named Boak from becoming a huge, demonic beast.

The Party

Kyrin - Human Cleric of the Raven Queen
Mistletoe - Human Druid
Ramrod - Goliath Barbarian
Valiant "Val" Westwinter - Tiefling Sorcerer

Blackcloak
When we left off last time, the group had just run into a guy wearing a cloak made of housecat fur. He called himself Ol' Blackcloak. He's a devil, and he tried his best to convince the group to hand over their souls to him, but no takers. I think Ramrod threatened him and he did the classic D&D cartoon exit: he walked behind a tree and.. he's gone.

The heroes soon camped for the night. While taking watch, Mistletoe saw a huge owl up in a tree, staring at him. Mistletoe cast speak with animal and actually got some useful directions to the wheel.

The Ghost Farm: The next day, the heroes arrived at the farm. By this point, they were quite sick of the guy in the coffin constantly asking, "What's going on? Are we there?"

Ramrod had taken to kicking the coffin just to mess with him. The coffin warned him that he might be sorry one day soon...

The heroes arrived at an abandoned farm. Kyrin can sense undead with his eyes of the grave power. He saw that there were skeletons in the cornfield and a ghost in the cabin.

Using Abilities: The group decided to deal with the skeletons, and deal they did. The heroes excel against skeletons because of their vulnerability to bludgeoning. I purposely put them in there for this reason. A lot of times in D&D, us DMs tend to shy away from using monsters that we know are ineffective against the group.

For example, a group might have a lot of characters resistant or immune to fire. So you might not want to throw a fire elemental at them. I think you should. Players wait a long time to get to use a certain power sometimes, I think it's good to make sure they get to use it.

Once the skeletons were destroyed, the heroes went into the farmhouse. The ghost was an old feller with a long beard sitting in a rocking chair. He was a bit ornery, but the group put him at ease.

The players noted my excessive use of southern accents in this adventure. I told them they should try to get used to my five stupid voices because they'll be hearing them forever.

Bad Licking: Somewhere in here, the heroes learned that the weird creature who flew over their camp last session is called the Bad Lick Beast, and he guards the Bad Lick Bridge. This is why I love the stuff Michael Curtis writes. Who else comes up with stuff like a cloak made of cat fur and a Bad Lick Beast?

The group declared that their albino runt froghemoth, Hoppy, was the "Good Lick" Beast. This cracked me up. For the rest of the session, Hoppy gave the group good licks when appropriate.

The Bridge: The heroes arrived at Bad Lick Bridge. Far below, a river raged. The bridge was in extreme disrepair. There were actually holes in it in places where the stone had fallen away.

It turned out the Bad Lick Beast lived here. It flew up through a hole and swiped at Ramrod, but missed. It soared into the air as the group pelted it with throwing axes, arrows and magic missiles.

As I noted that the magic missiles left smoking holes in the beast's chest, I looked at the player playing Mistletoe and declared them to be Mistleholes. Or Missleholes? I was beyond pleased with myself.

The heroes got a good look at the creature. It has a man's torso, goat legs, a goat head, moth wings and flaming eyes.

It swooped down, trying to divebomb Ramrod. Mistletoe had readied a gust of wind. He ended up hitting both Ramrod and Bad Lick with it. Each made a DEX save to avoid plummeting far below. Ramrod made his save. Bad Lick didn't! Battle over.

The Door: The heroes crossed the bridge and came up a massive puzzle door. Basically, you have to line up the correct three runes to open the door.

I had sent Ramrod's player an advance email about this. He can read these runes, as they were made by ancestors of the goliaths over a thousand years ago. They were seers.

They actually wrote things directly to Ramrod, telling him secrets and warning him about future events.

The puzzle was complicated. Basically, the group had to line up the correct set of gods from my campaign. On their first try, they failed. The door exploded with energy and sent two heroes hurtling over the side of the bridge. Thankfully, they both made their saves. Hoppy helped them up and gave each of them two Good Licks.
The Wheel: The group got past the door and entered the complex. They came upon a room with a table depicting a constellation. There were three orcs in an adjacent room. They were eating, and they lived among their own filth.

The group was appalled at this. The orcs were afraid of the heroes and didn't want any trouble.

The heroes headed up some stairs and came to the Luhsaal Wheel outside. There was a big monolih inside a massive bowl.

Once night fell, a the event happened - the Black Conflux. A massive moon appeared in the sky, actually taking up about 1/4th of the total sky above them.

The air crackled with energy. A portal opened. Out came Boak the bad guy. He was accompanied by a maw demon and 4 dretches.

Boak immediately was hit with energy, as was the coffin. The group looked in horror as Boak transformed into a 20 foot tall two-headed demon-thing of Demogorgon!

The spirit rose out of the Chained Coffin and shot into Kyrin's body. Kyrin began to grow! He too was 20 feet tall and was under the effects of enlarge, bless and heroism.

Kyrin heard the voice of the spirit in his head say, "Please get revenge on Ramrod for me."

Kyrin looked down at Ramrod, who'd been teasing the coffin all session.

That's where we stopped.

It was really fun and the group is great. Adding Val's player has really enhanced the campaign. The way she runs her character makes the game feel more real, if that makes sense.

Everyone is really good. I was very fortunate to find that every reader I have run games for are really, really good players.

Next week we'll get to see Giant Kyrin fight a giant monster. Should be awesome!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 38 - Storm King's Thunder

Episode 38: Icebreaker
No Nate this week. Joe Hills is here playing an NPC - Harshnag! That should be cool. Joe does stuff on youtube.

Harshnag is a pretty major NPC in Storm King’s Thunder. He triggers a very important scene about halfway (?) through the adventure.

The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Joe) Harshnag - Frost Giant
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer

The group is at a dwarven stronghold called Citadel Adbar. Some of the dwarves there are possessed by evil creatures and turned on the others. The heroes helped to subdue the insurgents.

With the battle done, the traitors are taken to the dungeon.

A dwarf wearing black armor with glowing golden eyes enters the throne room. Strix rolls a 20 on an arcana check and deduce that the armor is magical and aiding his perception in some way.

Diath learns a bit about another clan in Adbar. Azon Bronzefire runs the most influential clan. They are master forges and smiths. His bodyguard is Krak Dragonspore.

The dwarves try to figure out what the message Zog was trying to bring to them. They think it has to with... the Ring of Winter! It is an artifact that can control white dragons and all sorts of other stuff. Chris had said on twitter that the ring will play into a future storyline, so this should be interesting. The search for the ring is part of Storm King’s Thunder.

There’s a lot of discussion and planning between the king and the heroes. The heroes agree to go check out the fire giant lair of Ironslag and see what they are up to. The dwarves are nice enough to equip the heroes with whatever the need. Here’s some of the stuff:
  • Gold bracers for Evelyn.
  • Baby harness for Waffles the baby owlbear.. and another for Simon aka Murderbot.
  • Black cloak for Strix
An adviser, who Chris does a version of the Barmy voice (my favorite) for, says that the group should team up with Harshnag, a frost giant.

Simon needs darts. The dwarves want to dismantle him. Evelyn shuts this idea down. We learn that Murderbot reloads his darts through a panel in his stomach.

Evelyn gets her new clothes as well as two matching kerchiefs - one for Waffles and one for Simon. She should matching clothes for Paultin, too. Maybe when he’s passed out drunk she could put them on him.

Diath is quite thrilled to have such a simple mission. All they have to do is scout out the fire giant lair of Ironslag and find out what they are up to. An adviser warns Diath not to let the fire giants discover them. He doesn’t wan the giants to come after Citadel Adbar.

As the group walks through the citadel, they see the chained ogre again. He's been stoned into unconsciousness. The dwarves have been beating him down. The group feels bad for him but doesn’t do anything. What is the deal with this ogre? I wonder if Chris has a voice ready for him.

Strix can't stand Evelyn's super-clean gear so she puts a piece of dirt on the back of Evelyn’s cloak. Evelyn immediately senses it and gets angry Strix blames Simon, who gets scolded.

The group starts their journey through the snow. They come upon a tower encased in a sheath of ice. Krak, the dwarf bodyguard who always wears a helmet, is with them.

A giant hawk is circling the tower. Diath spots multiple shadows up in the tower. They are watching him.

Nearby, Harshnag eyeballs the group. The heroes greet him. Krak introduces them as the waffle crew. I find it quite amusing that they are called that in the actual campaign world. Harshnag thinks that yakfolk have invaded his tower.

The heroes and Harshnag enter the tower and they come upon the yakfolk. As the battle plays out, Evelyn rolls a lot of 20's. She is being really hilarious today, she keeps talking to Harshnag about being friends and he has no idea what to make of her.

The group makes relatively quick work of the yakfolk. Harshnag does not take one point of damage, something the group is quite proud of. Somewhere in here Anna teases the chat about how some of them complain she can't remember stat stuff. She is cracking me up left and right today.

After the battle, Evelyn needs to clean the blood out of her fresh new clothes.

Harshnag says he had run into some fire giants earlier. They and their hobgoblins were searching for adamantine.

The group cleans up and that’s where we stop.

Overall

Fun show! Ironslag is really cool, this should be very interesting. Also, Holly said she's going to make a Waffles doll. That's pretty awesome. The Strahd puppet was fantastic, I can't wait to see this one.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Planescape – Blood War III. The Siege of Lamashtu's Castle

It's been a while, but we finally got back to playing the Planescape campaign last night. This whole section of the campaign is based on the Hellbound boxed set, which details the war between devils and demons.

Tonight was another attempt by me to run an adventure set inside of a mass combat. I think I've got it down pretty good.

D&D Snipers: I had polled the group a while back about what scenarios sounded appealing to them, and the they loved the idea of being D&D snipers. The things that come to mind when I think of sniping are scenes from Saving Private Ryan and Metal Gear Solid 2.

I remember MGS2 having this scene where a young girl has to cross this narrow path above the ocean and you have to snipe all of these drones before they kill her. I recall it being very intense, so I wanted to try to recreate that tonight in some fashion.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Elf Wizard 

The heroes own a cluster of buildings in Sigil called Deadbook Square.

A dretch
We started out with some downtime. The group owns a festhall and were the victims of some scandalous sabotage from the dark elf festhall. The group figured it out really quick and ended up hiring an ogre to solve the dilemma.

Demon Babies: Theran runs a settlement in the abyssal realm of Azzagrat. He checked in on it and saw there was a new child in the nursery of Grazz't's babies. Theran looked at it and quickly deduced that Graz'zt is making babies with Lamashtu, the demon lord the group is currently fighting against. He was alarmed.

Disinformation: Bidam runs this procreation facility where they make new types of demons. I decided to go ahead and use my Donald Trump NPC. I didn't use him for awhile because it just didn't feel right. My Trump NPC is Gonard Flumph and he runs the town of Samora in Azzagrat.

Bidam found his facility in chaos. There were all these rumors going around about disease outbreaks and there was friction between the different types of creature.

After some investigating, the group realized two demon agents of Flumph were spreading fake news to sow dissension and destabilize the facility. The heroes were quite angry and sent the demons packing. Bidam gave a big speech and was able to get everyone back to work.

Back to the Castle: Then it was back to Onstrakkar's Nest, Lamashtu's abyssal realm. The devil army had taken a castle there and used a portal in it to take over a section of the Infinite Staircase. The demon army had fled. Now the bad(der) guys were marching back to destroy the devil army.

The pit fiend general general, Drokkarn, had devised a strategy. The devils were going to set up and defend in a settlement attached to the castle. The devils were going to herd all of the demon soldiers into the main street. Then, the group was going to get on their Death Hurler (a kind of steamroller with damned souls attached to it) and squash them all. I thought that would make for a fun final encounter.

The heroes set up on a castle wall, each of them manning a magic ballista. I always have a hard time finding the ballista stats in the book. +6 to hit, 16 damage, 3 actions to load, in case you're wondering.

The group was given a bunch of magic bolts they could fire:
  • Bolts of Demon Slaying: Con save DC 17, 6d10 damage.
  • Bolts of Force: Re-skinned beads of force.
  • Oathbolts: These ignore the long range penalties and do +3d6 damage.
I tried hard to stick to just a few fiendish races so I can try to get the group familiar with each type. I made handouts for the players. This is their devil army:

This is the demon army, led by Korramzadeh, a special balor from the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path:

Protection: Te battle kicked off with a chaos hammer spell shattering a retaining wall round the settlement. Hordes of dretches poured through the opening. The heroes spotted their friend, Feurina and the hellhound, Fireball near the horde. They were getting swarmed. The heroes proceeded to carefully snipe enemies around them. Feurina actually took quite a bit of damage as my dice were on fire.

When a dretch dies, it creates a toxic cloud. That plays into sniping really well, as now the group has to contend with penalties to hit due to the cloud obscuring the area.

Hell Knight: Having saved Feurina, their next task was to help a hell knight. It was on its nightmare, battling two vrocks. A bolt of slaying dropped one, but then the group's dice went cold. The hell knight was stunned by a stunning screech and eventually fell to the ground below. The vrock flew down and finished it off.

Enemy Sniper: Then we got to a part I was pumped up about. A rival sniper opened fire! From somewhere in the chaos of the settlement, a magic crossbow bolt came flying at them. It burst into a bunch of bolts, spreading into a cone and hitting both heroes at once. I thought this would be a cool encounter because the group would have to somehow spot the sniper. I made the Perception DC high - a 20! - and figured they'd come up with something clever to find him.

Well.. it's D&D. Jessie rolled a perception to spot the sniper. Natural 20! Theran swiveled his magic ballista in that direction and fired off a bolt of force, trapping the sniper in a globe of force. Problem solved!

The Whispering Valkyrie: An NPC had teleported behind them. She's the Whispering Valkyrie, a green-skinned demon. Bidam drew his sword of sharpness while Theran stayed back. The adventurers made quick work of the valkyrie.

MGS2: Then we did the Metal Gear Solid 2 encounter. They saw Feurina and Fireball fighting their way across an elevated walkway full of dretches. The group had to snipe the creatures that tried to come up behind them.

I dangled the dog in front of the players again. The hellhound, Fireball, is a goofy NPC. He barks at the monsters and thinks he's helping. Bidam can talk to him because he is a hell hound whisperer just like Feurina.

During this encounter, the dog actually fell off the walkway due to bad rolls. I had planned for that possibility. I don't want Fireball to die (unless the game simply conspires to make it happen) and had planned out a small thing.

 Fireball disappeared into the stink cloud below. Once the group had sniped all of the enemies and Feurina got to the other side, they were relieved to see Fireball come up the stairs wagging his tail. He fell, but he was fine.

Using NPCs as Bait: I really get touchy about using NPCs as bait too much. If you do it a lot, the group will start to avoid interacting with NPCs, assuming they're all just metagame traps waiting to be sprung. That's why I always say that the vast majority of NPCs should be nice and helpful to the heroes.

Then we got to another part I was a bit pumped up about. Another chaos hammer appeared above the heroes. It came down and crushed the castle wall they were perched on. I decided to try to make a more elaborate falling sequence. I wanted the fall to be more than a single roll. It went like this:
  1. Save vs the chaos hammer: fail = damage. Either way, the stone beneath their feet is shattered and falls away.
  2. The heroes fall into the top floor of the castle wall interior. Save again. Failing the save means damage.
  3. Then, THAT floor gives way and the group falls to the bottom. Save vs. falling rubble. Fail = damage and restrained. Take more damage each round until you escape.
It worked great. The hammer came down, the group fell. Theran's dice went cold and by the time he got to the bottom he had just a couple hit points left and he was buried.

Bidam tried to find him in the rubble but couldn't. Theran thankfully was able to escape on his own.

It just so happened that the group emerged right by their buddy the Death Hurler. And look at that, the demons had been forced into the main street.

Hurling Death: The Death Hurler started telling the heroes in their really bad Canadian accents to get on board and start hurlin' some Death.

This final encounter was basically about them surviving the trip from one end of the settlement to the other. Each round, they needed to make a DEX save DC 10 or fall prone due to the many dretches being squashed under the rollers of the Death Hurler.

They also had to save against the toxic cloud that came from each slain dretch. Pretty much the entire battlefield was obscured by green poisonous mist.

On top of that, each round dretches climbed up the death hurler and tried to kill the heroes. I had made three waves of them, and it worked out absolutely perfectly.

Theran used thunderwave to great effect, sending many a dretch flying off the Hurler. He was hurt bad from the wall collapse, and a dretch dropped him. Theran has a devil imp named Barbagg as a sidekick. Barbagg fed him a special goodberry the group had been given a while back. Theran was revived.

Bidam was dretch-killing machine, and the group made their Dex saves. Theran got poisoned by the cloud but he made his save soon after.

Once the group's infernal siege engine got to the other side, they saw that their hurler had slaughtered many, many dretches. The demon army fled. The devils cheered.

Special Mission: Later, the pit fiend general, their friend Drokkarn, wanted them to go on a special mission. Last session, some devil had fallen off the infinite staircase. One of them was a spy who knew way too much. The heroes had to go find him.

Where was he? Captured in the palace of Malcanthet, the Succubus Queen! The heroes will sail the river styx and I'll get to use the material from that hilarious dragon magazine article I read a few months back.

War in D&D: Good session! More combat-y than normal, but I really want to give them an actual "war" experience. A lot of times in D&D, if there's a war going on, it happens in the background. I want the group to be right there on the battlefield, taking cover in bunker, charging across open ground amid explosions, and fighting among thousands of other soldiers.

It was a success! I want to do more, but I don't want to turn the campaign into nothing but combat. I'm going to try to alternate. I'll do one or two sessions of a mass combat, and then one or two sessions of a special mission involving exploring and talking.

This next session should be hilarious. I am very much looking forward to it.