D&D – WBtWL – Session 1

Well the party has set off into the Witchlight. This is an adventure designed for level 1, and I’ve got 6 level 12s. We’ll see what happens.

Firstly, their hook into the carnival is that they all snuck into the carnival as children, and losing items. Not together, just each when they were younger. I had prerolled all of these and let each player know at the start. This kind of started the game off on the right footing as our seductive tabaxi rogue it turns out, has no fashion sense… This got a few laughs. Our paladin discovered they had no sense of direction (actually might explain stuff from earlier campaigns!)

The carnival has arrived at Leilon where the party are resting up following their work saving the town. A carnival seems a pleasant way to wind down as well as an opportunity to perhaps regain those lost things.

The party started off quite excited. So far they’ve ridden the Mystery Mine, played hide and seek with pixies, ridden in a bubble and on a dragonfly. They’ve chatted to some of the friendly workers and generally had a good time. They’ve won a cupcake eating custard, though the cleric took significant custard damage doing so. From the custard filled cupcakes of course!

They are however starting to get hints that not all is well. They spoke to a rather unhappy person who’d made a poor deal with a hag. They’ve saved a dwarf from falling from a startled dragonfly and witnessed someone heckle a singer (a mermaid) until she fled her stage in frustration. So perhaps, all is not well in the Carnival.

Overall the players are really enjoying it. The games and rides are handled really well with good use of skill checks and saving throws (though they didn’t save the cleric from his custard damage). What the players don’t know is that some of these “skills” may come in handy later in the adventure.

I’m enjoying running it. At this stage, only tiny modifications for the group level have been needed (I doubled the cupcake damage). There are little Easter eggs to other things. The entrance to the Mystery Mine is the same as the roller coaster in the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. A bard in the Feasting Orchard is (apparently) the same as a character just introduced into Magic the Gathering. There may be others, but I don’t have the background to see them.

A really fun start.

D&D – The Wild Beyond the Witchlight

D&D’s newest module release is The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. It’s designed for a party to run from Level 1 to about 6 or 8. I started to look at this with a mind to send a party of 6 level 12 characters, played by experienced players into the module. I didn’t want it to be a walk in the park, or it would be no fun.

The first part is set in the Witchlight Carnival. Looking at this first part it was clear that party level wasn’t going to matter too much. It also looked very entertaining. A whole chapter of mini-games using skill checks and ability saves. Some of these “skills” will carry forward into the rest of the adventure.

I moved on to the next location, the first of the fey areas. Clearly any monster they would face would require boosting, changing or additional supporting mobs. Or more likely all of those.

But what was also clear is that just launching into battle wasn’t the only way (is it ever) but that alternatives through roleplaying were strong as well. Of course, I just have to get them to choose that option, perhaps easier said than done. And this is something that the developers have talked about for the whole adventure, apparently you can RP your way all the way through.

However, I’d seen enough to decide two things – it wasn’t going to be too hard to set this up for my party of level 12s and it was going to very different from the hack and slash and dungeon crawls I had run them through before. I cut Tomb of Horrors short and set up Roll 20 for the Witchlight.

I do still have to read through the next 3 parts of the adventure and have some creatures set up for them in the off chance they actually fight…. lol, off chance.

I have discovered recently that even though I am running these all digitally and remote that I really like to have the book. I am running Ghost of Saltmarsh as well as I was running Tomb of Horrors that way (I have both GoS and TftYP in hardcover). I still use the creature stats in Roll 20, but I like to have the book here in my hand as I read room descriptions and the like. Tagging and bookmarks to help me out. Just feels more involved and opens a little more screen space.

So, I’ve ordered the alternate cover for this one. Hopefully will be here in time for an upcoming trip and I can take it as reading material…

D&D – Divine Contention Ends

I have some catching up to do.

This is finished. The last battle with the cultists was a bit of a fizzer. They made the dreadnaught quite easily and were well on the way to defeating the cultist when a pissed off God (The Storm Lord) arrived and did it for you.

Module over.

I think the highlight was the siege. The dragon might have been more fun had it been able to possess any of the party.

Level 12. Campaign complete. I had a few ideas.

First, I could reset them and start a new module. I could try modifying a module to run at their level (most modules run from level 1 to 8 to 12 or 15) which might be possible. Or I could develop something on my own?

I thought to mostly do the second option. Take an existing module and modify it. Probably need some heavier creatures but the story could hopefully happen. I was leaning towards the Out of the Abyss. I didn’t want to start Curse of Strahd as I was a player in the adventure and one of my players is the DM for that game. What to do…

Wild Beyond the Witchlight had been announced and it was due about 2 sessions after Divine finished. I told the group that I would run something short for a couple of sessions, then when Wild comes out, I’ll investigate that one for them. At that point I will decide what to do.

I decided to put them in the Tomb of Horrors (as written in Tales from the Yawning Portal).

Some challenging puzzles. I especially enjoyed the moment when the gnome wizard, seeing the hall start to slope away from where he was standing, towards a light at the end, well, he decided to slide down the slope and over the end.

Into the pit of lava. I let him cast fly to save his character.

Meanwhile Wild came out and I started looking at.

Lockdown – Week 12?

So the lockdown here in Sydney continues. The numbers have started to drop again and vaccination rates are way higher than before. Small freedoms are starting to be handed down. The even tighter restrictions on where I live have been dropped, so now we are on the same as the rest of Sydney.

Work continues to provide an opportunity to get on my bike and get out of the house. The kids have been stuck in for two school holidays and a whole term now. My youngest had her most recent birthday stuck at home. We had our 17th Wedding Anniversary as well.

Anniversary lunch (a mini boodlefight and churros)

My wife and I are vaccinated. I’m having massive problems with my second dose as it isn’t showing up on my health register, so it’s almost impossible to prove that I’ve done it. This will cause issues soon as many of the “new freedoms” are for people who can provide proof of having both vaccinations. Been trying to sort it for 6 weeks now, gotta love bureaucracy! The girls have also had their first dose and should be protected by the time face to face school restarts in November.

November! That will be 4 months in total. Since it started back in June, the only time we have gone anywhere as a family is to go get COVID tests after I was a close contact at work.

And that meant I spent two weeks locked in the spare room at home, having my meals brought to me. I think having access to work from home was actually part of being able to keep busy that week. Or it was a bummer as I couldn’t just sleep and watch Netflix! Can’t decide which would have been better.

We did further expand our home gym with a half squat rack. It’s really good actually – it means I can do heavy lifts again. We’re just waiting for some additional dumbbells. Don’t see any need to go back to a gym after this.

(We already had the barbells)

A GIANT decision

Well, yesterday I took a huge step and submitted my resignation to my current employer of the past 27 years.

The main reason for the decision at this time is that they wanted us to move to Melbourne from next year. While we quite like Melbourne, we’re settled here. And have a life here etc.

So yesterday I submitted the paperwork and as of January 2022 I will be leaving. This gives me time to finish up my current position before I go.

And so from January 2022 I will be a full-time casual Primary Teacher. Hopefully I can get something steady, like a class contract for a term or year. And I will get good experience and look towards a permanent position.

Onwards to the new life….

Lockdown Week umm 8?

Sydney is in the throws of its biggest lockdown since COVID started. I live in one of the most affected suburbs, with extra strict rules about where we can go and what we can do. So what have I been doing. And what has been keeping me sane?

Well work carries on. I’ve even had a few teaching days. But the main thing is that I’ve been getting as much two wheels as I can…

On my bike to work…

Commuting doesn’t have to be rubbish…

On my commuter bike (to the shops and around the way)…

Round the neighbourhood

I even broke out the mountain bike. I took it to work one day and tried the trails around there. It was epically terrible, I have not ridden MTB on any trails for probably 6 years and it showed…. I will have to go back again.

No one to see my failures….

D&D has also helped, with all my regular games running and a new crawl filling in for a face to face that one of the other DMs has started.

Family wise, we’ve tried to have a cheat meal once a week of ordering something in. Mostly its been nice, but unsurprisingly, the times we’ve gone to “fast food chains” they’ve been rubbish.

And we’ve built up our home gym some as well.

New Bench.

I also slept in my tent in the backyard one night. With the most recent extension, I don’t expect to get out for a trip this year, maybe just before Christmas? It will likely just be in NSW too.

More sloped than it looks made for an uncomfortable night

I hope you are all staying safe as well.

Dungeons & Dragons Catch up

I’ve gotten really far behind and I’m sorry about that. So here’s a catch up of both games I’m running.

Divine Contention – The Leilon gang

This game is still going strong. The party secured the Gnomegarden Grenade and support from Lord Neverember (they returned by teleport, so no naval episodes on the return) with little difficulty, and then I moved into the Siege stages. The party repulsed the first attackers, but of course the town was overwhelmed anyway. They fought a battle at the docks and turned to hunt the drummers. This went awry when the dragon appeared.

Once again, a dragon made little headway against this group and it was quickly pushed off. The party followed the dragon and fought it alongside the Swords of Leilon at the tower. Here again, the dragon was quickly in a critical way, the possessing Ebondeath fled empty handed and the dragon crashed into the town. (The mysterious shop that the village didn’t know what the players were on about was a cool touch).

Saviours of Leilon… rejoicing in the streets. But some loose ends. Ebondeath’s ghost was still there and it wasn’t long before the party headed off to resolve this issue.

The party found the entrance with help from their friendly Lizardfolk villagers (from an early foray into the Mere) and descended into the outhouse (the small building over the entrance really reminded us Australians of the old outhouse.

The moved through the crypt with little real difficulty. Even the ghost didn’t really faze them. Ebondeath was dropping quickly, with an AC of 15 he was reasonably able to hit – the ranger was doing 30-60 damage per round. Even his possession wasn’t working well, he tried it twice without success and even as I increased his hit points to push a couple more rounds it didn’t help. Ebondeath was down. And a pile of treasure secured.

They returned to town and have just set out to sink the Stormlord cultists galleon. Divine Contention is almost complete.

Saltmarsh crew.

Not so far behind on this game. The Mariners Guild has hired the party to clear cultists, pirates and undead from an island so they can safely build a lighthouse.

They managed to get onto the island with very little trouble, the random number generator got them almost all the way across the skeleton beach safely. Once on the island they quickly found, then descended into the undamaged basement.

Here they fought the surviving cultist in a large brawl across the main open room. This went on for several terms, but some crowd control by the party kept the enemy numbers manageable. And cleared the entire floor, except for a single prisoner, a mercenary who traded his way for a lift off the island.

He revealed the existence of a treasure hoard, though he wasn’t exactly sure what. He did know how to start looking.

The party headed off to find this treasure. At the same time it would satisfy the “clear the island” direction…. just doing their job.

Their first opponents included a Bodak, an undead that radiates necro damage. This had much of the party backing away for the fight. They hadn’t tried healing or resting since the first fight.

But they got through and began exploring the small passageways, uncovering trap after trap. A room with a Crystal Minotaur Statue had them in trouble. The backed the party down a passage, hoping to lure the Statue into one of the traps. It would have worked except they managed to kill it before it got to the trap. In other luck, a Turned undead ogre tripped a trap for them as well.

They uncovered the fake treasure and were quite disappointed by the note in the empty chest. The session ended with the party about to fight the guardians in the real treasure room………

More Lockdown.. more planning

The lockdown continues into its fourth week. I expect it to last at least another four. Good chance of more…

So what better time to plan a ride.

This is my alternate to the MotoGP, with the idea that travelling between states isn’t permissible, but the lockdown eases enough by late October to actually travel a bit. (Hmm, I feel like I’ve been down this road before). This will also save a bunch of roads to do for next years MotoGP (or Supers???)

So thinking North. Thinking roads I’ve heard of and not ridden. Roads like Thunderbolt’s Way, Oxley Highway and Bucketts Way. I’ve travelled to Singleton and also from Wollombi up to Newcastle. But even driving, that’s as far as I’ve been in that direction. I am much more familiar with the space between Sydney and Melbourne.

So Day one. Leave home, head up Putty to Broke, then Gloucester (Thunderbolts Way)

Day two. Gloucester to Walcha to Grafton.

Day three. Grafton to Coffs Harbour, to Walcha (Waterfall Way).

Day four. Walcha to Port Macquarie (Oxley Highway) to Gloucester then Singleton.

Day five. Singleton to home. This could be via Putty, Wiseman’s or even through Bylong.

Leave Thursday, back by Monday. Seems to tick all the “good roads” boxes along the way. Could slide it with weather reports… Saturday to Wednesday. Heck, Monday to Friday (that probably wouldn’t work as Mrs isn’t on leave then).

Looking at Google Street View it looks sealed all the way. Fuel stops are common enough, and in most cases I should only need one stop along the way. Most days are short, only 400km or so and about 5-6hours of riding. Adding time for stops, lunch etc so maybe up to 8 hours. So I could push on to “the next town”. Or I could take it easy, set up camp in the daylight, rest up, sleep in. The four towns I’ve currently planned seem to have caravan parks where I can get a tent site.

So that’s a couple of hours of lockdown used up….

Not MotoGP planning

Well I’m pretty disappointed about the MotoGP being cancelled, again. Though as I’m currently in a lockdown that we don’t know when it will end… maybe I would have missed it at any rate.

So the alternative plan is being considered. At the moment, it’s pretty close to the original, but without the days in Melbourne. So instead of eight days away, it will be six.

Roughly

  • Down Kangaroo Pass then to Merimbula
  • Merimbula, over the hills to Cooma, then across the Snowies via Cabramura, through to Tallangata
  • Tallangata over the Alps, then through Gippsland to Healesville
  • Healesville through Black Spur to Eildon, Mansfield and Khancoban
  • Khancoban over the Alpine Way to Canberra
  • Leaving Canberra decide whether to go my usual way or through Abercrombie.

Four nights camping. One night at friends (or maybe not, I’m likely to be a bit smelly by then!).

There are options along the way to reroute if weather looks particularly bad on any legs, such as taking the coast road on the first day, or heading to Canberra if the coast is miserable etc.

(I’m not saying I won’t be showering or changing clothes, but it will still be 5 days on the road by then).

As a different what if…. what if I went North. Tried ummm… I don’t really know what’s up there past Newcastle.. My ancient (2009) Hema motorcycle atlas talks about Thunderbolts Way, Bucketts Way and the Oxley. All those I’ve heard of. I could head up Putty to Singleton way, then carry on northwards. Wouldn’t be crossing any state borders (which I hope would no longer be an issue by then) and is likely to be warmer.

It would all be new that way….

Update: Maybe I’ll make two plans. One where I can travel across state borders, one where I can’t.