Friday, September 19, 2014

D&D 5e Monster Manual Review

Today, the newest version of the Monster Manual is released, or at least it is for those lucky enough to have a FLGS that gets them today and not a couple of weeks from now.

Are you jealous?

I already have mine. I got it early as a thank you from my FLGS since I’m taking over as DM on Wednesday nights. Adam, the DM who’s been running us is feeling a little bit of DM burnout with too many games going on. I get that. I've been there! And since I've already covered for him before, I’ll again take the DM's chair. Unfortunately this means that my dwarven illusionist, who just hit 3rd level, is going to be benched for a bit.

Thankfully, this isn't a permanent situation, as Adam is willing to swap back and forth on DMing duty every other chapter, which should work out to every month or so. Not ideal, but someone has to run the game!

But back to the Monster Manual! Seriously, it’s good. I’m only halfway through it so far, but it’s definitely worth it. I love the lair effects for the legendary creatures, the little quotes scattered about, the concept sketches, and the wide variety of monsters. You've got the usual goblins, kobolds, vampires, and beholders, but they also included some of my favorites like Blights, Scarecrows, and Crawling Claws!

The art is something of a mixed bag. I appreciate that it’s all less over the top Wayne Reynolds anime style, but some of it seems a little… cartoon-ish. Compare the orcs (pages 246-47) with the crawling claw (44) for example. The orcs just feel very… WoW inspired, whereas the crawling claw looks truly murderous.

The index seems like a missed opportunity. Yes, it’s a list of all the monsters alphabetically. We already get that with the table of contents. Sure, it includes all the animals and NPCs from Appendix A and B, but I think it would have been more useful had it been by challenge rating. Also, a list indicating which monsters are Legendary wouldn't have been out of place either.

I have gotten several good ideas from it for encounters I want to include in my Friday night Weird New World campaign, so that’s a definite positive, and I think that's highly indicative of the inspiration factor that the MM provides.

Have you gotten your copy yet? Are you going to? What do you think of it so far?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5e Weird New World

Friday 9/12, seven intrepid outcasts took to the sea, leaving all they knew behind to reach a newly discovered land and find fame and fortune on it's alien shores.

The party consisted of the following:
Max, Human Bard 1 (Yann)
Embara, Wood Elf Fighter 1 (Erica)
Verdt, 1/2 Elf Wizard 1 (John)
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric (Erindale)
Kethra, Human Fighter 1 (Nikki)
Riia, Human Ranger 1 (Hanna)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 1 (Erik)

For a variety of reasons, these seven characters found themselves on a small cog, sailing toward this new land. Their ultimate destination is the city of Hurren, the largest metropolis on the new land. About a week from their destination, they were sailing along the cost of this new land, keeping the shoreline just in sight. A storm hit very suddenly, and drove the cog toward the coast, and into some rocks near the shore.

The party was below deck to keep out of the storm when the cog hit the rocks. Max the bard took it worst as a splinter of wood speared him in the side. At the same time, there were strange clawing noises on the side of the hull, and the sailors started yelling about boarders.

The party drew their weapons, and headed on deck to find humanoid angler fish climbing over the railing making strange murloc noises. The first round of combat in the wind and rain actually went well. Then the crocodile hauled itself on deck. Only the bard's incredible luck saved him from being critically chomped. The wizards sleep spell put an end to the fight, and the remaining angler-fishmen. Max was rescued from the maw of the beast, and then the ship's captain ordered them back off deck while the sailors tended to their injured ship.

We saw you get washed on the rocks! We're here to help! Ahh! Why are you attacking us?!?!

The next morning the captain sent the crew and passengers off the ship to the little village on stilts to look for anything that might help them repair their ship. The two boats pulled up to the shallow docks, and no human noises greeted them, only the sounds of the swamp that stretched on for miles. The village was abandoned. A quick search found only one man who lay injured and gasping. His face was unnaturally pale, his eyes bulged, and his leg had suffered a compound fracture. After a bit of discussion Max the bard decided that the man was turning into a fish creature, and needed to be brought to the water, so he carried/dragged the gasping man to the docks, and dropped him in. The man sunk the 3 feet to the silty bottom, bubbles rose up, and then a large shrimp-like thing swam out of the man's mouth. Max pulled the man from the water, and discovered that his tongue had been eaten away.

Meanwhile the flighty Embara had spotted something white out beyond the small village, and without telling anyone where she was going, she sped out into the swamp. A young human woman was spearing fish out of the swamp, and when she finally spotted the elf, she ran screaming. Embara kept pace, and almost ran into the woman's 1/2 orc "brother". After calming the woman down, she explained that the fishmen had attacked the village just a couple of days ago, but that she and her brothers were far enough away that they were safe. Embara brought them back to the village with her, and introduced them to the rest of the party. A few wanted to see where she lived, so back out to the swamp they went. The houseboat seemed safe enough, and they stayed for dinner before returning to the village for the night.

The party and the sailors who'd remained ashore stayed in various cabins, finding them all well provisioned.The "zombies" came in the middle of the night, and began by attacking the cabin nearest to the swamp containing Bach, Riia, and Verdt.


Max and Embara heard the commotion next, and looked through the window to see what was going on. Max went down to help, while Embara stayed aloft to use her bow. Nessendra was awoken next by the noise, but it took her a couple of rounds to arrive.

The fight in the cabin with Bach, Riia, and Verdt was very tight due to the limited space and the number of zombies that kept trying to come in. Additionally, something tried bashing it's way in through the shuttered window opposite the door the zombies were coming through. It was one of the brothers!

Around this time Embara spotted the woman in white, and shot at her. The woman shot back with a bolt of magical flame! Max got the attention of a few of the "zombies" while Nessendra ended up going toe to toe with the other 1/2 orc brother. Embara took a pot shot at Nessendra's opponent, but managed to hit Nessendra instead.

In the cabin Riia took some serious damage from the brother she was facing, but the combined arcane might of the warlock and the wizard managed to bring down the last of the zombies attacking their cabin. The "brother" who'd smashed Riia's arm went after the warlock, but Riia grabbed up his crossbow, and lodged a bolt square between the brother's eyes.

Kethra finally heard the commotion over the sound the the sailors' snores, roused them, and began to don  her armor. Max used his rapier, and his rapier wit to take out his zombies, while Embara chased down the woman in white, and then pinned her dead body to the wooden walkway with her arrows.

The last of the "zombies" were killed, and each and every one had their tongues eaten away and replaced with the shrimp things.

Kills: 9 fishmen (kobolds), 1 croc, 1 witch (dark adept), 2 brothers (thugs), 12+ zombies (cultists)
Losses:
Gains:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#6MMRPC Week 2

This past week I found myself stuck all day in one of the nicest cities to be stuck in for a day - Frederick Maryland. The weather was beautiful though a little overcast, which did help keep the temperature down. I decided to take advantage of this, and bring my paints and minis with me, and I spent the morning painting at one of the local parks.


If you've never tried painting outside, I highly recommend it. It's nice to get out into the fresh air, while still enjoying your hobby. Granted the light is never ideal. Between clouds, the rotation of the earth, trees, etc. it's always shifting. Yet there's something to be said for natural light...


Here you can see the black orcs coming along nicely. I got more work done on them, but when I decided I was hungry and wanted lunch, I forgot to snap one last picture of them to show my current status. 


Lunch was a fantastic burger and a sampler of beers at Brewer's Alley. If you're ever in the area, it's well worth the stop.

Aside from that I didn't get much other painting done, and what painting was done looked more like this:




And in case you're interested in seeing who else is working on the project, check out the 6 Month Mountain Reduction & Painting Challenge Blog.

Monday, September 15, 2014

5e Stonehell: The Quiet Halls

On Sunday 9/7 the open table Stonehell Dungeon-crawl continued. In attendance were the following PCs:

Human Paladin
Rogue
Human Fighter (pregen)

Realizing that once again they lacked any real healing ability, they opted to hire a cleric to join them. The new guy, in spite of never having played 5e before decided that he'd run the cleric was well.

As the Paladin was the only player to have entered Stonehell before, and he had the map, they followed his lead through Hell's Antechamber until they reached the great Dance Macabre doors of the Quiet Halls. The corpses of the fire beetles from the last delve seemed undisturbed. Pressing on into the chill darkness, they discovered an old morgue, and a remembrance chamber before discovering a secret hallway that brought them to a hall of crypts.

They explored 4 of them, encountering giant rats, numerous skeletons, some zombies, and a ghoul. The fights were hard and draining, even with the cleric's help. They opted to rest in the morgue, barricading themselves in and praying that nothing would come knocking.

Amazingly enough, nothing did.  Or at least nothing made it through the barracaded door. After their rest, the adventurers returned to the hall of crypts, fought some more skeletons, a ghoul, and a crypt shade! Looting from the various crypts they ended up with a mixed pile of coins and a few pieces of jewelry. Certainly enough to provide them with comfortable lodgings for a bit, and even a few spare healing potions.



The addition of an NPC cleric improved the PC's survivability, not just because of the healing, but also because of the radiant damage against the undead, not to mention the bludgeoning damage against the skeletons.

In running Stonehell with 5e, I've been halving the number of creatures encountered, and that seems to be working pretty well. The players are going at it with much more caution this time around, so I guess nearly killing them off last time was effective. I also haven't been doing very much prep since I don't really know where they're going to go. I just skim though the first level and glance at the second, and then keep the book handy. I can't wait for them to get to the Kobold Korners.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Inspirational Video: Bottom of the River

In a strange twist, today's inspirational image not only moves, but comes with sound too!



Make sure you pay attention to the mirror...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feast and Famine

It’s interesting how the pendulum can swing so wildly. I’ve gone from having no regular games, to having a Sunday night online game, to playing Wednesday and Sunday, and running Friday and Sunday.

How did I end up with 4 ongoing weekly games?

First off I’m not working on my Master’s Degree anymore! That makes a huge difference. In addition to that I've shifted priorities and decided that I could spend less time sitting in front of a computer or TV. The downside to this shift is that it has taken away some of my blogging time.

Also I've been trying to focus some of my attention on my minis, and in fact I'm due for another 6MMRPC post...

Another factor impacting my blogging is that I’ve been spending my time learning and thinking about 5e, since that’s what I’m playing/running 75% of the time. I've already posted a few 5e posts, including the Clockwork Zombie. More in coming... The next issue of the Octavo is probably going to be the 5e intro adventure I ran last night.

But enough with the complaining that I've got too much gaming going on to write blog posts! Instead I'm going to put together a list of things that I'm planning on writing about!

Ancient Sagas of Everlance actual play report - rats and mud pits
5e Stonehell actual play report - the quiet halls
Friday night 5e actual play report - weird new world
6MMRPC week 2
Magic of the Swamp Witches
Hoard of the Dragon Queen thoughts
Swamp Village Map
Black Orcs for 5e
Fishmen/Murlocs for 5e
Making 5e a little weird.

As you can see, there isn't any lack of things to post about, I just need to get to it! And the longer I wait, the worse it gets, especially for the actual play reports... It's kind of hard to keep track of 3 different games worth of events well enough to write about in a halfway decent way if you don't keep on it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Contest Entries! (part 3)

This post wraps up all entries in my giveaway contest.

What Is That Elf's Hairstyle?
by C. Vermeers
1) Long, untidy, but tied up with a metal headband/tiara.
2) Ropy dreadlocks.
3) Cut short and plastered tight.
4) Braids (roll d6: 1) 1 braid, 2-3) 2 braids, 4) 2 small braids at the temples, back left hanging free, 5) 2 small braids at the temples, 1 large braid in back, 6) lots of braids)
5) Short and spiky.
6) Long, combed straight.
7) Mohawk.
8) Pompadour.

Magic School Charts PDF from Brian Richmond.


-Teleportation Gone Very Wrong Table- by anonymous

1. The Warden
2. Alpha Complex
3. Vanth
4. New York City (1: 1989, 2: 1922)
5. Barsoom
6. Carcosa
7. Hyboria
8. Middle Earth
9. Grayhawk
10. Blackmoor
11. Planet Algol
12. The Death Star
13. Quintessa
14. Golarion
15. The Planet of the Apes
16. R'lyeh
17. The wild west (with or without dinosaurs, DM preference)

Adventure locale by Mark and Jen

1. Wilderness
2. Dungeon
3. Ruins
4. Tree tops

And finally Daniel Bishop sent this, my favorite entry of a random table.