Thursday, September 30, 2021

Stonehell: Crypt of the Bloody Claw part 4/4

 Session 177 was played on 8/8

Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Lada, Thief (Robby)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)
Gimble, Mage (Scott)
Biffin, Fighter 6 (NPC)

Leaving the staked corpse and the empty coffin, the party, loaded down with coin, returns to the room with the gargoyles. As soon as the gate opened, they attacked. Lady Morgana webs them in place, and the party runs for it, up the stairs, through the secret door. Morgana then casts Hold Portal on the secret door, followed by Invisibility 10’ on the whole party. They sneak out of the dungeon with their loot, and back to the barn.

As they settle down to count their look, the illusion on the coins ends, and their 10,000 gold turns out to be 10,000 copper pieces. With that disappointment, they bed down for the night.

At about midnight, Morgana is shocked to find someone grabbing her throat. Her eyes snap open to find a pair of jade green eyes looking hypnotically at her. Morgana’s will was strong, and the charm failed. The beautiful vampire drained Morgana’s strength, hoisting her up like a rag doll. Morgana somehow managed to kick herself free of the vampire’s grip, falling on her staff, which she used to summon a water elemental. The thump and rush of water woke the rest of the party who all scrambled to address the threat.

The elemental slammed the vampire repeatedly. She looked beyond shocked (and soggy) before giving up and turning into mist, fleeing the barn into the dark.

After catching their breath, the party discusses what to do. Biffin wants to chase after the vampire and stake it again. Morgana agrees, since she’s already spent the charge on the staff to summon the elemental. They slowly make their way back to the dungeon entrance, and back down to the fancy coffin.

The gargoyles were waiting, and the battle was on. As they fight, the vampire joins in. Biffin gets horribly mauled by the gargoyles. The elemental and the vampire square off against each other. Biffin downs as many healing potions as he can before going back against the gargoyles that had mostly focused on helping the vampire against the elemental. The elemental damages the vampire badly enough to make it again turn to mist and fly away. The last gargoyle finally slays the summoned creature. Morgana kills the last injured gargoyle with a dagger.

Beyond the gargoyles, the staked creature was still on the floor. Searching again, they find a small opening in the wall behind the coffin. Morgana uses her collapsable 10’ pole to poke the hole. Having no way to shrink themselves or turn to mist, they debate how to get through…

Morgana orders the elemental to start digging.

Hours later the mud was ankle deep out to almost the stairs, but the hole was expanded more than enough for the party to pass through comfortably. In a worked stone chamber little bigger than a walk-in closet was another coffin. Within was the regenerating vampire. Because the elemental had so damaged her, and the sun was now up, she wasn’t able to react before she was staked, doused in more holy water, and beheaded… Without even a last gasp, the vampire turned to dust, leaving only a pair of fangs behind. That, and 15 opals.

After collecting the treasure, destroying the coffin, and scattering the dirt that was in it, they start heading back up. The pair of wraiths they encounter didn’t stand a chance. Near the exit of the dungeon they check one more door and find a set of 3 locked cells. Within each was an unresponsive figure, one of which was the missing scion! After opening the cells, and getting the sickly figures out, they suddenly come alive, and with the same unnaturally large mouths, try to bite the people holding them. One is killed, the other two are tossed into the elemental who holds them till they can be safely knocked out and tied up. The captives are brought briefly back to the village, but the feeling of unwelcome sent them packing back to town.

Gains: 15 opals, reward  
Kills: 3 gargoyles, vampire, 2 wraiths

Monday, September 27, 2021

Stonehell: Crypt of the Bloody Claw part 3/4

Session 176 was played on 8/1

Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Lada, Thief (Robby)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)
Gimble, Mage (Scott)
Biffin, Fighter 6 (NPC)

After thoroughly searching the torture chamber and the prison, they begin to backtrack, searching as they go, thinking they may have missed something… and they had. A secret door! Behind the door? Stairs leading down. At the base of the stairs, 2 doors. They check the closer door first…

Borumar gets to work unlocking the door. Just as he finishes, the door is pulled open and a massive hand reaches out to grab him! An Ogre Ghoul! Borumar takes the brunt of the abomination’s assault, but a sustained barrage of Magic Missiles takes the thing down. The chamber it was locked in contained no treasure, just some well chewed bones.

The next door opened up into a moderately sized chamber. Against the far wall were 3 gargoyles in the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” poses, though using their wings instead of their hands to mimic the poses. Also in the room was another doorway, blocked by an iron gate. A mere 10’ beyond that gate was another. Beyond that? A fancy coffin. The gargoyles, as dangerous looking as they were, remained still as they investigated the gates. Borumar unlocked the nearer one, and as he did heard a telling metallic click come from the other gate. Keeping a close eye on the gargoyles, and the coffin, the party squeezes into the space, and Borumar unlocks the second gate, causing the first to lock behind them.

The fancy coffin was propped up against the far wall. Passing around holy water, they prepared to open the lid. When they did, a horrific looking undead thing lunged out at them, fanged teeth looking for something to bite down on. Between the holy water, and Borumar and Biffin’s ready weapons, the creature was cut down screaming, and then a stake pounded into its heart.

Behind the coffin? A chest containing thousands of gold coins!

Borumar leaves a Karl coin in the coffin.

Gains: Thousands of gold coins  
Kills: Ogre Ghoul, coffin creature

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Stonehell: Crypt of the Bloody Claw part 2/4

Session 175 was played on 7/18

Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Lada, Thief (Robby)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)
Gimbal, Mage (Scott)
Biffin, Fighter 6 (NPC)

The two werewolf guards are efficiently cut down, and then the other 4 that charge down the hall toward the party are loudly blasted with a lightning bolt that then rebounds back on the 4 of them, stopping just a few feet before reaching the party. The charmed cultist runs for it, away from the violence, down the stairs, likely toward the rest of the cultists below.

Taking the stairs down after her, they open up onto a long hall, at the end of which is a statue of a moon goddess. As they approach it, it briefly animates and throws a silvery disk toward the party. Borumar in front ducks, avoiding it, but leaving Morgana wide open for the trap. The blade sinks deep into her chest, and she drops. Potions are quickly poured down her throat and all over the wound, reviving her before she slipped away completely.

Crawling toward the statue, keeping their heads down, avoids further blades and they safely make it past the moon goddess. Following the instructions they make it to the cult’s main worship room, where a ritual was in progress, but they also seemed ready for the party. What they weren’t ready for was Morgana and Gimbal both casting sleep. Lada and Borumar follow that up with bow shots at the still standing cultists, then Biffin runs in. He gets touched by the adept, hurting him a little,. The adept doesn’t survive the encounter. The sleeping ones are killed, except for the charmed one, who is tied up and left to think about her sins. The cultists pins are all taken (clawed hand made of silver, finger tips colored with red paint).

They then find and search the dark adept’s chambers, are attacked by his giant rat friends (who are all promptly put to sleep via a sleep scroll, and killed) and then his meager treasure taken. They then find a recently used torture chamber and prison, but still no noble girl...

Gains: cult pins, small amount of coins  
Kills: werewolves and cultists

Monday, September 20, 2021

Stonehell: Crypt of the Bloody Claw part 1/4

Session 174 was played on 7/11

Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Lada, Thief (Robby)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)
Gimbal, Mage (Scott)
Biffin, Fighter 6 (NPC)

Word reaches Borumar that the scion of a wealthy noble family has gone missing, and was suspected of having been taken by whoever had taken up residence in the old crypt of the moon goddess hours out of town. Meanwhile Morgana was researching ritual magics.

Deciding to take up the quest, the party gears up and heads out. By the time they reached the village it was late afternoon. They talk to the locals, and get permission to stay in one of their barns as there wasn’t an inn. Dropping off their gear, Morgana casts invisibility on the party, and they head up into the hills where a circle of standing stones marks the crypt’s location. They find the crypt entrance guarded.

As it was getting dark, and they’d already had a long day of walking, they head back and bed down, setting the watch for the night. During Biffin’s watch, shortly before dawn, a pair of werewolves attack the party. Neither gets away, nor do they score any hits on the party with their bites.

Seeing as they were up, they make an early start of it. In the entrance hall of the crypt, currently unguarded, Borumar triggers a blade trap, but manages to avoid getting his head cut open. He disables the trap, and they move deeper, coming to a large entrance hall. As they look around, a side door opens and a young woman steps into the room, shocked to see the party. She turns to run, but Morgana’s quickly uttered Sleep spell drops her fast. They tie her up, and wake her. She bites Borumar with an unnaturally large mouth. Keeping her out of bite range, they question her, but she’s uncooperative. So Morgana Charms her.

She tells them all she knows about the crypts, about the dark adept who leads the cult, even points out the areas that she was told to stay out of, as they’re too dangerous and haven’t been cleared yet. Wanting to take advantage of the fact that they had a guide, they followed her through the crypts down a couple levels until they reached a guard post. The werewolves on guard were uninterested in the cultist’s protestations, and the party pushed her aside to meet the attack of the werewolves.

Gains: Charmed cultist guide  
Kills: 2 werewolves

Friday, September 17, 2021

5e: Crossing the Desert

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, War Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Dear Mother and Father,

I'm sorry to have left so suddenly and without discussing it with you ahead of time. By Digger's mighty claws, I just could not listen to everyone go on and on about cousin Thorin and his new role as Clan Warden. 

Besides, the magic was calling out to me. I had a vision, or perhaps just a dream, just I had to find out what it was calling me toward. 

But first I had to get there. And no, I wasn't going to just spend my coin. I would hope you'd know me better than that by now. I found a caravan heading across the Scrier Desert. Not much of a caravan, in fact a mere 2 wagons pulled by camels, funded by the laziest gnome I've had the displeasure to encounter who goes by the name of Ragnear. But he'd already assembled a team of guards to keep his caravan safe. 

And I thought the company Thorin assembled was motley. There's Pand, a giant cat with memory problems, a small sneaky goblin named Heddah, an elf called Swallow Greenhorn on some sort of "work/study program", and a human artificer with too many children and an oily personality named Lou Saperstein.

Pand the cat was too big to fit on either of the wagons, so took the lead as we crossed the bridge separating the village from the desert gorges that would mark the first third of the trip. The Heddah and Swallow were in the first wagon with the gnome, and I was stuck with Lou... who talked too much even for a human. 

It wasn't too long before I noticed that the tracks of the camels and the wagons were quickly swallowed by the sands... It wasn't a magical effect that I could tell, but it also wasn't natural. And then they appeared, dust devils. 

The battle was joined, such as it was. Being in the rear wagon meant I missed most of the action, but the cat seemed to do alright, drawing a pair of swords from... I don't actually know where it was keeping them. I managed to slow one down with a ray of frost, but that was my only contribution to the fight. Lou managed to shoot himself in the lip with his crossbow. 

Some hours later, as the sun was hidden by the tall walls of the gorges, we were set upon by a pair of Yuan-Ti, an abomination and a pitmaster. Again, Pand was up front and was surprised, but recovered quickly, laying into the abomination. From my vantage point, it looked like the elf and the goblin went at the smaller but more disturbing pitmaster. Once again, being at the back meant I couldn't bring my hammer to the fight, but my magic did it's job. I cast Hideous Laughter on the pitmaster, which had it rolling in the sand. Lou, somehow useful, hasted Pand. I'm not sure I ever want to see a plushy 7 foot tall hasted cat ever again. Somehow the spell manifested in a rainbow flowing from it!

Hasted, Pand had dropped the swords in favor of a pair of flails. Again, I don't know where the flails were being kept. I did ask later and the answer it gave me was "hammerspace" which was blisteringly unhelpful. The abomination morphed into a giant snake and tried to bite the plushy cat, failed, and coiled around the elf who had gotten too close.

Heddah (the widdle gobwin as she insists on referring to herself as) shanked the pitmaster as he rolled. He stopped rolling after that, freeing up my focus. I cast Vitriolic Sphere on the snake's head. The acid wasn't as effective as I'd hoped, but I could still see it burning the monster. Pand grabbed it by the tail, and whipped it hard enough to release Swallow, who then promptly ran back at the snake and delivered a mighty blow against the scaled monster. So mighty that the snake didn't notice, and Swallow sprained his wrist. 

I must say, in my experience, the Eldar Arcanus may have mighty magic, but their failure to properly cultivate physical endurance and strength, not to mention a certain wisdom to recognize that failure... Dwarven mage-smiths and battle-wizards may be fewer in number but are truly a higher quality.

Lou, while still maintaining the haste, shoots off a pair of bolts. One hit. He calls himself a sharp-shooter, but... 

Don't tell Thorin, but I miss him and the rest of the company. 

I toss a lightning bolt at the snake's face (incidentally causing Pan's already poofy body to poof more), and then Heddah runs up the snake's body and slits it's throat. It thrashes and falls to the sand twitching, blood soaking into the dry earth as fast as it can flow from the creature's body. 

Taking a bit to search around, we found the yuan-ti's stash. Then we get back on the wagons and keep on till we reach what the gnome called "the second arena."



A big thank you to my new neighbor Vicky for DMing, and for inviting me to join her and her friends, and for giving me a chance to play Fulhoff again! Can't wait for next session.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Meeting the Neighbors

I think last night might be my most memorable introduction of myself. I was painting after getting the boy down to bed, and I heard the new downstairs neighbors out on the patio having a dinner party. No biggie. A little bit later the tone of the chatter changed, and something caught my ear. Someone was doing a voice. I stepped out onto my balcony and looked down. The food was all put away, and everyone had their screens out. I couldn't make out most of what was being said, but then...


"Make a sleight of hands check" followed by the clatter of dice.

They were playing D&D!

I went inside, and dithered a moment about how to get their attention. I grabbed a d20 and went back out on the balcony. When there was a lull, I said "Hi neighbors" and tossed the d20 down toward them.

Down 3 stories toward them.

"What the.... Did he just toss a dice down?"

"Yeah, and it's a nat 20!"  (I swear to all the gods I'm not making this up)

"Hey, you play D&D?!?"

"Yeah I do!" I replied.

"Can he join us? Do you want to come play?"

 Obviously, I could, and did. And that's how I met my new neighbors and their friends last night.


Bonus, I got to pull out my old dwarf wizard Fulhoff! His newest adventure will be tomorrow's post.

Stonehell: Nest of Otrogg part 2/2

 Session 173 was played on 6/27

Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)
Gimbal, Mage (Scott)
Lada, Thief (Robby)
Biffin, Fighter 6 (NPC
Darryl, Cleric 7 (NPC)

The glowing pool turned out to be from some stones in the water with continual light cast upon them. Also in the water was some treasure. While collecting it, they were set upon by more beetles, which they killed. Moving deeper, they passed through a grotto filled with mushrooms. Then on past a rushing stream that flowed into a deep dark hole. Past that, Darryl got bit by a giant centipede, and Gimbal put them all to sleep.

They then came upon some mobile mushrooms that wanted to shy away from the party, but they got spooked, and rushed every which way, knocking over some of the party in a worked stone chamber. In an adjacent room they found a magically locked door that Morgana’s Knock spell wouldn’t open. They also found a chest that was both locked and rusty. They head back to the shy mushrooms, and then up and around to the north and then east before Gimbal gets dropped on by some green slime. Morgana burns it off, burning Gimbal at the same time Darryl does his best to keep Gimbal on his feet, but they decide to head out and back to town with their loot.  

Gains: 2 potions of healing, 1 potion of diminution, 800+ in various coins, Froghammer and a scroll of Protection from Undead   
Kills: Green slime, beetles, giant centipedes

Monday, September 13, 2021

Stonehell: Nest of Otrogg part 1/2

 Session 172 was played on 6/20

After a long break following the birth of my son, we return to Stonehell!

Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)
Gimbal, Mage (Scott)
Lada, Thief (Robby)
Biffin, Fighter 6 (NPC
Darryl, Cleric 7 (NPC)

Gimbal starts the session wanting to go party. Borumar, always up for a good time, chips in, and what a bash. 3 days later Borumar is arrested and put on trial for disturbing the peace, destruction of property, and inciting a riot. At the conclusion of the trial, due mainly to a lack of direct evidence, Borumar is required to wear a dunce cap while in town.

Rather than head into the main dungeon, the party opts to take it easy in a newly revealed set of caves that appeared after a rockslide in the box canyon. The rough stone passages that slope down are mainly notable for the excessive bug population. Beetles, worms, spiders, and things with way too many legs scurry away from the light the party brings into their hole.

Early on they’re attacked by more of the nasty big beetles, and Biffin is bit twice through his plate armor before the vermin are squashed. Deeper in, they find the beetle queen laying her eggs. Morgana lights up the chamber with a lightning bolt that zaps the queen and her guards. Once their ears stop ringing, and the spots in front of their eyes ease off, they search the room, and find 10 eggs that survived the evocation. The eggs are packed away.

The next cave is a boulder strewn area with a glowing pool at one end. As they carefully make their way through the boulders, one of them rears up and attacks! A giant snail! Morgana, who has been carrying around a pound of salt forever, finally uses it. Borumar lands a powerful blow against it. Biffin flails uselessly against the shell. Everyone manages to stay out of the snail’s mouth, though Morgana is knocked over as it tries to bum-rush the party before it dies from the burning salt.

Gains: Beetle eggs
Kills: Deathgrip Beetles, Deathgrip Beetle Queen, Bale Snail

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Stonehell Lost Level: Earth Elemental Beats Leather Fog

 Session 171 was played on 10/4

Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Darryl, Cleric 7 (NPC)
Lady Eiric, Mage 8 (Kat)
Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)
Jurda, Fighter 1 (NPC)

Hiring a couple meatshields, the party heads down to the Lost Level through the caves. Returning to the thieves hideout, they make a more thorough search, finding a secret room off of one of the alcoves. Borumar disarms the trap on the door, and within they find the thieve’s stash.

Behind another alcove was a concealed door. Down the long hall, through the destroyed wizards chamber to the far door. It explodes when they try to open it, dropping the hirelings. Potions are quickly poured down throats, reviving most of them. Jurda doesn’t make it.

Morgana casts invisibility on Borumar, and he scouts ahead. They find a summoning room, with a silver inscribed circle. They take the silver. Returning to the room with the steel chest and the weird brown fog, Borumar strips down to his bark armor, and heads in to try to get the chest. He fails. Lady Eiric summons an earth elemental to grab the chest. It does, and they head for the surface. They’re attacked on the way by a pack of ghouls. Darryl destroys 5, Morgana fries the rest with a fireball.

Gains: various coins and a bunch of jewelry, silver from the summoning circle.
Kills: 9 ghouls
Losses: Jurda, again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Happy Star Trek Day!

 For 55 years, Star Trek has been bringing the hope of a brighter future. That mission has been a part of my life for basically as long as I can remember. Tonight I'll be celebrating that... that celebration might stretch into tomorrow as it doesn't start till 8:30pm Eastern, but we'll see. 


Here's to all that is to come, and the brighter future that awaits us! 

Live long and prosper. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Stonehell: Beetlemania

Session 170 was played on 10/1

Boris, Cleric 9 (Jeff)
Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Borumar, Thief 9 (Josh)

Borus hires a cartographer to redraw their collected maps into something more coherent. He also upgrades Jurda’s armor to plate.

Heading down to level 3, they fight off some nasty giant beetles. Jurda drops twice during the fight (they have a really nasty bite).

Down on level 4 they encounter a talkative minotaur who mostly wants to shoot the shit.

Down to the mines in level 5, they wander around, eventually finding a weird 10’ stone cube in the middle of a room. It doesn’t seem to have been carved. With great effort they manage to shift it to see if it was concealing anything. It wasn’t.

Deeper into the mines they find a clockwork canary. A mostly unrewarding excursion.

Gains: Clockwork Canary (detects poison gas)
Kills: Beetles

Friday, September 3, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings

I just got back a little bit ago from seeing Shang-Chi, and I have to say it's a solid introduction of the character into the MCU!

The story isn't anything too original, but it's well done, and the comedy beats, usually provided by Awkwafina are great and had me laughing. I also really appreciate that the friendship between Shang-Chi and Kate (Awkwafina's character) is deep, loving, and platonic. 

The special effects were up to the usual Marvel standard, the choreography looked good (certainly better than Iron Fist), and the cameos and twists toward the end played out well, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this ties in with Spider-Man and Doctor Strange going forward. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Stonehell: Stoned Hireling

 Session 169 was played on 9/27

Boris, Cleric 9 (Jeff)
Morgana, Mage 7 (Reggie)
Joho, Mystic 6 (Chris)

In town, Morgana commissions some antivenom from the alchemists’ guild, and Joho puts a tailor on retainer. He also hires Jurda, a shieldmaiden, and upgrades her shield to a large tunnel fighting shield.

On the way to the dungeon, a chimera attacks the party. Morgana uses her lightning bolt spell, which causes the beast to turn to fly away, but she finishes it off with magic missiles. They bring the corpse back to town and sell it for 500gp.

Heading back to the dungeon, they swing through level 2 (which is now infested with fairies) down to 3 (passing some bugbears) and taking the stairs down to 5B. Exploring the remnants of the old mine, they stumble on a cockatrice lair, and with a combination of fireball and magic missiles, they slay the beasts. Sadly Jurda is turned to stone in the combat. In the cockatrice nest they discover a suit of magic plate mail, a spell scroll (only slightly burned around the edges) and a potion.

Heading out, they’re attacked by some bugbears hiding in the shadows on level 3 waiting to ambush them. They’re spotted, and Morgana blasts them with a lightning bolt.

Back in town they sell the loot, get Jurda returned to flesh, and heal up for the next delve.

Gains: various coins, Plate Mail of Flight, Potion of Treasure Finding, Spell scroll with 2 first level spells.
Kills: Bugbears, Cockatrices
Losses: Jurda (petrified, brought back)