Saturday, January 31, 2015

River Pirates! 5e WNW

Session 4 of the Weird New World campaign was played on Friday 10/17

The party consisted of the following:
Verdt, 1/2 Elf Wizard 2 (John)
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric 2 (Erindel)
Kethra, Human Fighter 2 (Nikki)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 2 (Erik)

Not in attendance:
Riia, Human Ranger 2 (Hanna) - out of state
Max, Human Bard 2 (Yann) - excused

In the hours before dawn, 2 riverboats moved slowly and silently downstream toward Salt Bay, coming to rest on the banks of the river at the north end of the city. In spite of their silence, the town’s new half-built fort spotted the pirates and sounded the alarm. The ringing bells woke the party from their slumber. They rushed down to the common room of the inn, and amidst the confused panic of the patrons, heard the word “pirates!”

So off to the river they went, minus two of their number. Were they not roused by the alarm bells? Did they head off in a different direction? Were they locked in a passionate embrace? We’ll find out next session…

Coming out of a house several blocks from the river were 5 pirates, all carrying some sort of loot, one carrying a small child! The party was almost on top of them as they rounded the corner, and the fight was fast and brutal including the use of a sleep spell which knocked out 2 pirates and the kid.

They killed one of the sleeping pirates, and then brought the other to the nearby fort. Then a quick return to the river where the party found a group of 12 pirates loading one of the riverboats. Even though they were outnumbered 3:1 they still attacked! A few of the pirates continued to load the boat, and only when things were looking dicey for the pirates did the last 4 jump in, including one of the pirate leaders! When Bach and Kethra fell unconscious and bleeding, the leader grabbed Kethra by the hair and held a knife to her neck, and demanded Verdt and Nessendra’s surrender. They did, Kethra was dropped still bleeding to the ground, and Verdt and Nessendra were promptly bound with rope.

The pirates must have been in a hurry, since they did a piss-poor job of it (rolled a 1). Verdt slipped the ropes and cast an illusion of a full squad of town guard on the quick march toward the river. The pirate leader’s nerve broke, and they pushed off, leaving the party “bound” on the shore.

Freeing themselves from the rope and healing up their friends, the party headed off to the fort, and interrogated the captured pirate, discovering their approximate number, location, and a rough layout of the base.

Will the party hit the pirate base next? Or return to the manse? Was Max tied to Riia’s bed? We’ll find out in a couple of weeks...

This was written back in October, and never published. The few weeks turned into a few months, but we're back to playing as of 1/16!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Ancient Sagas of Everlance: Slimey Things

This report covers the sessions played on 1/18 and 1/25

Cast of Characters:
Kelmar - ½ Elf Ranger
Beska - Human Mage
Myshkin - Human Paladin
Gifilte - Human Monk of Love
Arkane - Human Paladin
Lorain - Human Bard
Sima - Human Thief
Dwarf Fighter

Continuing the hunt for the missing adventurers, the party explored deeper in the catacombs finding:
Several empty rooms that had been torched
More Skeletons
A pool that contained large slugs with tentacle faces
A moldering library with strange magical properties that changed how light worked.

Sadly the library was infested with zombies. While initially the fight seemed to go in the party’s favor, more and more zombies emerged from the darkness. Worse, more zombies started to arrive from the hallway, catching the party from behind. Kelmar, guarding the rear, managed to delay them for a couple of rounds, as the party retreated. Unfortunately he fell, as did Myshkin, while the zombies poured forth.

Time and again Gifilte tried to invoke the power of love to drive away the zombies, but for all his efforts, only a single zed’s heart was turned.

The session ended with the final failed turn attempt, with multiple party members down, and zombies swarming.

Not again!! Just enough XP to hit level 2 and BAM!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bits and Bobs XXV

It's been a long time since I did a link dump, and I've got a ton of open tabs that I need to close out, so back to it!

Because it's funny, and could happen so quickly in any D&D game too...

The Redneck Tree... is just terrible.

After almost a full year, Bat of Ancient Vaults and Eldritch Secrets is back!!

Need a few magical trinkets to spice up that boring pile of gold? The Goblin Punch has you covered with 100 minor magic items.

C- over at Hack & Slash had some thoughts on Special Snowflake Settings. Personally I like the idea of Drizzt and Elminster and all the other overpowered heroes of the FR being nothing more than legends or the dime novel heroes (that they are) who don't really exist in the setting.

Healing potions are kinda boring. To the point that they're in the 5e PHB for a mere 50gp. Now, as a player I don't mind being able to pick them up for cheap, but sometimes, as a DM, I like something a little different. Eric over at the Dragon's Flagon has some healing potion variants that I'm probably going to steal for my games.

Sith Apprentice for 5e? CR2? Found appropriately enough over at Cross Planes. This guy is definitely going to show up in my Wednesday night game.

"I'm Batman!" Maybe not JLA Batman, but early career Batman? Ed the Chainsaw Chirugeon's got that background written up for your 5e game.

Want something a little less "My parents are DEAD?" in your background? How about a Country Squire or a Dandy background? Jack at Tales of the Grotesque and Dunegonesque

Speaking of Star Wars, if you enjoy the d6 version, Venger went and uploaded a revised, expanded, and updated document that is most impressive. It's definitely worth snagging. I'm considering making a hard copy for myself, though at 506 pages, it's a hefty tome.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Spell: Heart of Fire

Narthrex fell back onto his throne, burnt bones clattering in his robes as his body collapsed into ash. A ruby fell from the blackened finger bones, coming to a stop at Feris’ feet. The stone pulsed with barely contained energy and even through his boot Feris could feel it’s radiating heat. The stark blue-white glow of the were-light warred with the flickering red of the ruby’s glow.

Rathgar slumped to the floor with a deep sigh as bits of scorched flesh, cloth, and leather flaked off of him. Allianora knelt down and prayed behind him, smoothing over and restoring his charred flesh.

“Guys…” Nimble whispered urgently “Someone’s coming.” He paused and listened more intently “many someones.”

"I'm out of healing magic" Allianora said softly as she stood and tightened her grip on her mace.

"I'm low on spells too" Feris said, his eyes locked on the gem at his foot.

Rathgar pushed himself to his feet "Can you use that?"

"Let's find out..." He took the stone in his hand and looked up, his eyes burning. "We've got this."

Heart of Fire
Fourth Level Magical Spell
Range: 0
Duration: Special - See Below
Effect: Caster is elementally enhanced

The caster literally burns with an inner fire, shining light as a bright torch, cause 1d6 points of damage to anyone within 10’ of them every round, and can toss a firebolt every round (2d4 damage, range 20/40/60). In addition, the wizard is immune to fire damage (even dragon fire) and takes only half damage from cold/water based attacks.

The caster may maintain the spell for as long as they like, so long as they cast no other spells or fall unconscious. When the caster ends the spell they must make a saving throw vs Spells or suffer 2d4 damage for every minute the spell was maintained.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Vampire Duchess

This is an almost wonderful picture. The play of the moonlight on their skin, the glass, the blood.... The tinting of the light on the floor as it passes through the glass, the pile of skulls in the corner, and the flow of the two figures...

Vampire Duchess by Steven Stahlberg

There's so much to like in this piece that the one thing I don't like stands out like a sore thumb: the supposed need to cover the "naughty bits." Clearly both the vampire and the victim are nude. The draping of the cloth over their breasts just seems so artificial, so unnecessary to the picture's composition. It doesn't add anything, except somehow making it safe for general public viewing... or something like that.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Whispers from the Well 1/17

Your weekly update of the goings on in Stonehell
As reported by the tavernkeepers of the Ogre Face Inn

Dry Well Gets Fresh Blood

Trips down the well have been rare lately, much to the chagrin of both the Patrons and the Bookies of the Ogre Face Inn, but a band of intrepid souls came together right here in this very taproom and headed down into the stony hell below us. The biggest of the group was Gorak the dragonborn barbarian. Joining that wall of raging muscle was Varis the elven ranger, Lance the half-elf warlock, Linx the half-elf bard, and Jasper the human cleric.

While they have yet to return to the Inn, information provided by Keiter the Kobold our intrepid on the scene reporter told of a tense run in between the group and a workband of the little dragon-folk that ended peacefully enough, and added some coin to the coffers of Chairman Smee. There was also something of a bumble with the Great Stone Head and a trio of wasted questions! Pure rookie mistake, and we look forward to getting a first hand report one that soon.

Whispers from the Well

The Checkered Bandits have been recruiting in the market, and commissioning some specialized equipment from the kobolds. No reports on just what equipment has been ordered or delivered.

The Open Sore Orcs seem poised to attack the Howling Wolves Goblins once again.

Hobgoblins have been seen in the market. Are they mercenaries?


The Ogre Face Inn is looking to restock it’s supply of goblin-moss. Can be obtained from either the Market or directly from the Howling Wolves Tribe. Up to 10gp per bundle.

Ixa the Jeweler is looking for opals, black opals especially.

Damiel the Alchemist pays top coin for the glands of various creatures: fire beetles, spitting cobras, phase spiders, etc.

Monday, January 19, 2015

#6MMRPC Week 20 Blacksmith & Lightbox

Caffeine Forge has been running a Monday Miniature grpup event for a while now, and every now and again I manage to paint the coming week’s mini. This was one of those weeks! The mini was the blacksmith.

A rather simple figure. I wanted to see what I could do with him in a relatively short time, so I gave myself 2 episodes of Stargate SG-1 to get him done. The color palette was fairly limited, and mostly browns and greys.

And I’ve been talking about doing it forever, but I finally got around to making a simple lightbox. The box itself is just a cardboard box with the sides replaced with white tissue paper, based on various designs I've seen posted various places online.

I've also started working on the mini for next week, Barnabus the Pirate, doing some more work on the KotDT minis, mostly painting eyes, and fixing yet more mold lines. After spending so much time working with Bones minis, I'd forgotten how much prep can sometimes need to be done to metal minis!And I also decided that Duke Gerard's armor with the blue wash wasn't working, so I rewashed him with purple to better fit my theme.

I'm really going to have to practice with the light box... but still better than without it!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ancient Sagas of Everlance: Rats and Dead Things

This report covers the sessions played on 1/4 and 1/11

Cast of Characters:
Kelmar - ½ Elf Ranger
Beska - Human Mage
Myshkin - Human Paladin
Gifilte - Human Monk of Love
Arkane - Human Paladin
Lorain - Human Bard
Sima - Human Thief
Dwarf Fighter

The party investigated the Black Pearl recovered from the sunken tower. It boosts a spellcaster’s powers, but also has a flaw that draws powerful monsters toward it. The party was initially split on what to do with the pearl. Myshkin favored finding someone trustworthy to hold onto the pearl. Kelmar (me) wanted to complete the job and hand it over to the Madam, even knowing she was going to be handing it off to another since it seemed like it’d be more trouble than it’d be worth. But in part because the Madam couldn't (or wouldn't) divulge who was to get it, nor would she increase the reward for turning it over, the party decided to hold onto it, handing it over to Beska so that she can take advantage of it’s boost.

However, pissing off a high power underworld figure with numerous connections to other powerful people doesn't make sticking around in town a comfortable situation. So off to the tunnels where the adventurers were trapped. With luck they've been able to hold out for the days the party has spent taking care of other business.

The initial foray into the tunnels first turned up some rats (why is it always rats?), followed by a mist filled room that also had an unfortunate number of zombies. The unprofessional wandering around the mist filled room meant that for the most part the party members could only see 1 or 2 of their fellows. Half of the party dropped before turning tail and heading back out of the dungeon to the local village.

After resting up for another couple of days the party headed back to the tunnels. On the way out of town they picked up a dwarf fighter anxious to test his mettle. Exploring some side tunnels, the party found and defeated some skeletons, and opted to hole up in the tunnels, rather than run back to the village.

My character, Kelmar, hovers about 100xp away from 2nd level… I really don’t want to die moments before getting those extra HP!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

General DMing Questions from Venger

Over at Venger's Old School Gaming Blog, Venger posed some questions about DMing. These are my answers.

On average, how satisfied do you feel about your GMing? Does that feeling or your perception change when you're at the table running (in the moment), hours after, days after, months or years after?
I'm usually satisfied, if not pleased, with my DMing. I put a lot of effort into my time in the big chair, and as long as I feel like I'm doing that, I'm happy.

Have you ever had a (you assumed) moderately satisfied player from the past come up to you months or years later and tell you how much he appreciated your GMing or that you were a great GM compared to what he encountered later? Ever had a player tell you how much you sucked?
I have been complemented by past players, and it's a great feeling! I've yet to have someone come and tell me I sucked.

Does grumbling, complaining, whining, etc. bother you when it comes to either house rules or a particular ruling vs. book rules (RAW)?
Not really. I tend to be fairly relaxed when it comes to the rules, and I usually try to work with my players to come to a mutually satisfactory decision. On those rare occasions I've had to rule by DM fiat it's usually because of something the PC's don't know.

Do you ever feel that you don't receive enough credit, recognition, accolades, understanding, or appreciation for your GMing?
After winning the IRON GM competition, I can't really say that I do.

As a GM, do you feel the need to "entertain" players beyond your usual GM duties?
I'm not entirely sure what Venger meant by this. In general I feel like the duties of being a DM are enough that I can leave non-DMing player entertainment to the players!

Do you think it's best to keep yourself separate or apart from the group to some degree, similar to an employer around his employees? Or are you just "one of the guys" and completely informal and chummy with the players when you're not actually GMing? What about when you are GMing?
Depends on the group, and how comfortable I am with them. My usual take is to be a little bit reserved from the players at the table. Away from the table, it's all good.

How often do you get one or more players in your group asking if he (or she) can GM soon? How do you feel about that? Do you generally take it as a compliment because obviously you make it look easy and fun? Or do you take it as an insult for encroaching upon your turf?
Again, this depends on the group. Some groups it never happens, and others it's semi-regular. I appreciate when it happens, so that I get a chance to see things from the other side of the screen.

How often (if ever) do you wonder how much players are enjoying the game, each session, the campaign, and your GMing? Do you regularly ask for feedback? If you do, are changes ever implemented?
I ask when I'm unsure of how they thought the session went. Sometimes it's easier to tell than others. A year+ ago I was asking more regularly than I am now.

What are the three most important qualities for a GM to have?
A sense of fairness, patience, and the ability to react to off the wall ideas.

Do you have a particular word, phrase, question, or statement that you frequently employ during the adventures you run? What is it?
"Is that what you're actually going to do?"

How long, generally, before you start to feel GM burnout?
Usually it's around 9 months to a year if I'm running things solidly. At this point I thought I'd be there already, but I think the holiday break helped, as does my Sunday night C&C game where I'm a player.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Hatchery - 1st session

My Wednesday Night D&D Encounters group is back in chapter 3 - the Dragon Hatchery. Or, at least most of them are. One of my players wandered off with the cult for a couple of days, and is well north of the rest of the party. Unfortunately he revealed himself as an adventurer, not a true cultist, and ended up hanging from a tree by his ankles. Specifically he was hanging by a pair of large hooks that had been driven through his ankles.

Seriously injured, he managed to get himself off the tree and to a nearby stream where with an amazing survival check found some weeds and herbs that had some healing properties. In the process he passed out multiple times.

Tonight he limped down the road, found a hamlet where he procured some clothing and food, and then was hunted by some gnolls. Cowardly creatures, he managed to make them flee through the use of thaumaturgy and phantasmal force. But they kept after him... eventually he drove one away. Then the other 2 attacked. He killed one, and drove off the last one, mostly because of my terrible dice rolls, and the fact that he was using up spell slots to cast shield.

The rest of the group got past the 4 guards at the cave entrance, then ran into a group of kobolds in a tight hall. They killed most of them in the first round, but failed to stop the last 2 from running to get help. The party holed up in the nearly empty store room, and the thief decided that the stoned and drunk cultist already hiding there needed to be executed. The rest of the cultists, along with 2 fanatics, and the 2 remaining kobolds stormed into the room after paralyzing the dwarf barbarian who stood in the doorway and shoving him aside. Again, my poor dice rolling turned what would have been a tough fight into a far easier one. Also, 9hp cultists tend to drop pretty quickly.

All in all a pretty good session. Just really need to get the one player back with the rest of the group...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#6MMRPC week 18 Rust Monster & Duke Gerard

I've been slacking on chipping away at the 6 Month Mountain Reduction and Painting Challenge. The last time I put brush to minis in 2014 was in late November, working on the Dork Tower and Knights of the Dinner Table minis. The KotDT minis are almost done, but I barely started on the DT minis.

This past weekend, I wanted to get back to it. So I pulled everything back out and got ready to paint. I looked at the KotDT and DT minis and felt completely uninspired. The KotDT minis are so small, with so little detail… I just… couldn't do it.

I know part of this is because I really want my shipment of Bones II minis. There’s no single good or logical reason for this, as I have a couple of thousand minis (realistically somewhere between 1200-1800 minis) that need painting. Another 200+ really aren't going to make all that big a difference. But still… I want them! In particular I’m really looking forward to the skeleton king on the throne and the swamp troll!

So I looked through the Bones I minis I've got that are still unpainted (lots!) and picked out 2 that I thought would be relatively quick and easy to paint up: the Oxidation Beast and Duke Gerard.

The oxidation beast has been base coated in, appropriately enough, Rust with Scaly Green on the feathery bits and the tail. These have been further highlighted with various shades of pale blues and greys. The exoskeleton was washed with thraka green wash. The eyes are black.

Duke Gerard I approached as I would have a Space Marine character from the Ultramarines. Bold, bright, clean. I used honed steel as the base color for the all the metal bits, washed with blue. The tabard is going to be a purple with an orange stripe. The quartered shield will also be purple and orange, continuing my theme of halloween heroes that I started with Halbarand the Cleric.

I'm pretty much done with the Oxidation Beast, but Duke Gerard is still only about half done. I really need to build a light box...