DnD – Man the boats

There was a bit of technical hiccup in our previous session, seeing anyone who used Telstra as their internet provider disconnected just as the game started. That included me. So the session was off.

Two weeks later we resumed. In the meantime, we had also gained a new player and the party gained a half-orc gloom stalker ranger who stumbled into the aftermath of the brutal fight in the Wayside Inn wondering who had made all the mess.

With a map found in the Inn, the party realised that there was a main base of the cultists in a place called Thunder Cliffs. Our new ranger, familiar with the area, told them they would need a boat to access the caves, several days sail south of Leilon. So back to town.

After a couple of days, the council reported that they had found two captains willing to take the mission. The players interviewed the captains, and decided up the swift ship of Captain Stands in Tar (a tabaxi) over the slightly suspicious (but much more sober) Dragonborn captain.

And they set off. But the few days of transit were not boring. Stands in Tar had a catch up with another passing ship who warned them of a ‘ghost ship’. Ominious portents….. (and fairly obvious ones).

They headed off a mutiny lead by the first mate. Convincing her that this could all be sorted after the party finishes their mission. And are off the ship and don’t need to get involved.

Then it got foggy, and low dark clouds, and strange voices could be heard. “SHIP SIGHTED” came the call from the lookout and before they knew it, ghostly apparitions were looming out of the darkness.

The crew was incapacitated almost immediately. The party fought well with the spectres almost all incinerated by a well placed fireball from our gnome pyromanic…. I mean gnome wizard.

Afterwards, the party realised that in all of the ghostly whispering, several had clearly heard some snippets that seemed important. These were recorded for later. These are portents of actions in the next module “Sleeping Dragon Wakes”.

A day or so later, the ship dropped anchor off Thunder Cliffs. massive sheer 800ft cliffs dropped into the sea. The party could see several shipwrecks in the water and on the beach in front of the caves. Stands in Tar offered to wait up to 5 days, but they would have to put ashore in the ships cutter. She wouldn’t be taking her ship in any closer.

Into the small boat the party went. The wizard’s Unseen Servant took up the oars and rowed them steadily towards the shore.

They spied some fliers coming at them, soon being revealed as several manticores who attacked immediately. Strangely, one of the party was attacked on the boat by something they could not see.

So two combats started off. The party with ranged attacks started to battle the manticores, inflicting serious wounds. Meanwhile the pair sitting at the front of the boat swung wildly as they attempted to fight something they weren’t even sure was there.

And there the session ended.

I think there is about 2-3 sessions left in this module. I expect that they will want to continue into Sleeping Dragon Wakes, but I have offered them to change module, change DM, heck even stop the game altogether. We will have to pause for a bit as one player has some surgery and I don’t think its fair if we finish the module without him. So we might cram in an extra session to see if we can finish. Otherwise it will resume after the pause. I could run a one-shot or one of the others might in the planned sessions that he’s incapacitated. Or it might just form a natural break between the two modules.

Building a Dice Box

I had absently considered getting one of these. Basically it’s a box that you keep your dice in. They also provide you a space to roll your dice in, so they don’t go all over the table (and onto the floor etc).

But wasn’t really giving it serious thought as most of my gaming is online, which includes the dice. Except as DM, I tend to roll that physically.

So with that idea floating about in the back of my head, I was in Bunnings the other day and passed through the kids craft area when I spotted this.

And then I had some inspiration.

So I took it home and broke out the kids acrylic paints.

And I was mostly happy with the result.

The whole thing is black, and I’ll paint the book’s pages some kind of off white.

I added a felt liner to soften the dice rolling. It still needs some tidying along the edges in this photo.

Next, I decided that the magnetic catch wasn’t going to be secure enough and added an extra catch on the outside.

So almost complete.

Still to do – to paint the pages, tidy the felt and decorate the spine and back. I plan to have DICE in dwarven runes along the spine, and a wireframe d20 on the rear.

DnD – Loot!

The DM for the Dungeon of the Mad Mage has been unavailable for a couple of sessions, so some of us have been smashing our way through a simple dungeon crawl.

Hilfander, my Dwarven Legolas, has been right in the action. And he’s been scoring some loot. I picked up the Quiver of Ehlona, which will help him carry his bow (and let him stock right up with arrows).

He also picked up Bracers of Archery. This along with his crossbow and other skills has him at about +9 to hit and damage. That means his chances of hitting every shot have gone up.

Then, the group found a dwarven tomb that had been looted. They resanctified it and closed it back up. This uncovered a secret compartment inside. After a bit of messing about, they pulled something out of it.

And boy, did Hilfander’s eyes light up. A beautiful Dwarven Battleaxe. Intricate runes decorated the head, with a dark hardwood haft.

And then the best bit. Roll percentile… and I rolled a nat 100!

Perhaps something like this 🙂

A +3 Vicious Battleaxe. Vicious will give me an extra 2d6 every time I roll a critical. Now Hilfander is as lethal up close as he is from range. I’d love to run him in a more serious campaign now…

Actually I’d like to run him solo in something where he can do some sneaking with his Gloom Stalker talents.

DnD – Clearing the Wayside

My intrepid group woke one morning to find a terrible, yet strange looking storm brewing north of Leilon. They also found themselves summoned to the Town Council, who were in a bit of a state. Earlier that day, settlers had headed north for supplies and since then this terrible looking storm developed. The party was asked to take a look, see if everyone was ok.

As they were getting ready, the settlers came back. Less one horse (killed by lightning) and one guard (stayed behind to observe). They were drenched and described a storm that came out of nowhere as they approached the Wayside Inn (north, along the road). Strange in that that just a few steps past the edge of the storm, it was as if there was no storm.

With all the recent interactions with Storm Lord cultists, the party was concerned and intrigued. They set off up the road.

Well before the inn, they could see the edge of the storm. Just in the edge, it appeared that the remaining guard was being set upon by three armoured figures. The guard was holding his own, but unable to disengage or defeat them. The party joined in.

The fight went mostly well. Throughout the fight the storm seemed to push outwards from wherever it was centered. The armoured figures collapsed to empty armour when defeated, but seemed to lose their confidence when not in the storm itself.

After saving the guardsman, the party headed up the road through the terrible storm. Several were struck by lightning, with the gnome wizard almost dying. However the Paladin was able to support him enough to get to the inn.

Through the storm they got to 30′ of the Inn before they could really see it. Pinned to the door, with tridents through their bodies, were several commoners, still alive and desperately trying to get away. The party tried to release them, but sadly only saved 2 of the 6. Even the simple act of removing the trident was enough to finish the others.

Getting them hidden nearby, the party approached the door. Opening them, there was a mighty explosion, with the Dragonborn Paladin taking the brunt of the blast. Inside the common room they found a group of cultists with prisoners.

The wizard opened with a fireball, killing several of the cultists, and though they didn’t know at the time, a couple of prisoners as well. A battle ensued in the common room. Several more cultists rushed in to help their brethren, and although there were several solid attacks, the party defeated the cultists and released the remaining prisoners. The storm had not dissipated at this stage, which the group agreed was unexpected. There must be more cultists.

They searched the upstairs and the stable yard, but it was only when they revisited the kitchen that they found the cellar access. They headed below.

In the cellar they found the resident blacksmith chanting at a large statue of the Storm Lord. A beam of lightning joined the two. Tied up in the corner was the Inn’s owner.

The group charged in, put off a little, or triggered, by the strange grin from the smith.

The party fought against her, but they seemed unable to put her down. During the fight, one member untied the innkeeper, who joined into the battle. A couple also approached the statue, only to be set upon as it became animated.

After a few rounds they realised that to defeat the smith, they might need to defeat the statue first. They refocused their attacks and soon both were defeated.

And there ended the session. We’ll do the “what happens after the fight” next time. An extra long session has got them almost to the last set piece. Will they find the map that leads them there?

DnD – Finishing at Phandalin

The group I am DM’ing has been coping well with some enforced reschedules which has been very helpful. When last we left them, they had just finished – oh wait I’ve not written that up either…

Ok, they are in Phandalin, organising the goods for Leilon and checking out what has changed in the month since they left. They were a bit curious about a person who entered the Stonewall Inn one evening, but left immediately getting some odd comments from the proprietor. The group searched out his place the next day and found it without much difficulty.Finding it empty, they poked about inside, but found nothing of interest. They set up to wait and see, only for their quarry to emerge from the hut that they had thought was empty! One member followed him while the rest searched the house again. This time they found a cellar.

The cellar contained a host of ghouls, which the party immediately engaged.

Upstairs the quarry returned, but was set upon by the party’s monk who had been following him that evening. He was hitting hard, but not doing much damage.

Down below, the ghouls were being quickly dispatched, which meant some of the party could head back upstairs to aid the monk, who was having a hard time with the sole “prospector”.

With additional damage from the party, the “prospector” was killed.

At this point a more learned member of the party suspected it was a vampire spawn, so they took the head off to ensure it was actually dead. It would also prove if it was spawn or a full vampire. Then they collected the head and headed to the Townmaster’s house to make a report.

Here they disturbed his dinner, dropping the spawn head in the man’s soup. Yet more evidence of trouble in Phandalin, right under the nose of the Townmaster. He took their suggestion of a town militia seriously, but shooed them away as “always bringing trouble to town”.

The next day, Pinchwit, the goatherd, asked them to head back to Leilon. As they loaded the wagons, a storm brew up. Heavy clouds turned it almost to night, as the wind increased, and lightning and thunder began. In the gloom the party noticed a people sneaking towards them, using the surrounding buildings as cover

The bard, the first to see clearly what was about to happen attacked, warning the party. A group of kobolds had surrounded them! The kobolds were led by an elf, new to town, who had been working in one of the shops.

The battle was pretty one sided, though not entirely quick. The elf and most of the kobolds were killed in the fight. The storm dissipated rapidly after the battle was finished, returning to a mostly clear day.

They did capture a kobold. He revealed that they were all worshippers of The Storm Lord and that the elf had directed them to attack the party. He didn’t know why. The party suspected that word from Leilon Storm Lord cultists had sent a message to this cultist group to eliminate the party if able.

The group also found the elf had been carrying a pair of lenses and a note. The note mentioned a map, but so far, the party has had no hints on where this map might be. (It’s about to be discovered).

They have returned to Leilon, reported to the Council. They’ve also exhausted every thing they can think of looking for maps (the architect, the wizard tower, the Lathinder Shrine) and experimenting with the lens. So far nothing. To the next session then…

We’ve rescheduled again, so the next chapter “Foul Weather at Wayside” is about to start this weekend. Not far to go now, and then Storm Lord’s will be complete.

DnD – Player Improvements

Ok so I was pretty down on being a player in the recent post. Turns it wasn’t just me that was a bit frustrated. I talked to a player who knew the DM well and apprently even when playing face to face, his games run kinda slow. We both thought that the session in question was a bit ridiculous.

He had a chat to him, I have no idea what he suggested.

And the next session went well. It was much more entertaining as we fought a Grick Alpha and a couple of spare gricks. The Barbarian was knocked down, but my cleric revived him. This bought me clearly to the realisation that healing in D&D is very different to healing in WoW.

In WoW, when I played Mabango, the Holy Priest, I was (generally) able to keep the tank at full health, or very nearly, and have spare heals (sometimes) to throw about at the others.

In D&D, I can’t. There is no way I can keep a character topped up throughout a fight. I don’t have enough spells of enough healing power to do that. The best I can do is help protect, and stop them from being killed. It seems my best way to support the fight is to help the party smash the enemy. Very different mindset.

So, back to our session.

The fight finished and we found ourselves staring at a statue sitting on the ceiling. The halfling decided to get the barbarian (now recovered) to toss the halfling at the statue. He would attempt to grab it before he fell back down.

What he discovered was that halfway up (about 10′) the gravity swapped and he fell down (our up) to the floor (ceiling). This made it easy to climb up (or is it down?) the statue, take a look and steal the gemstone eyes.

Then there was getting up, or down. We threw a rope up, and as it passed the halfway, it fell down (up)to the halfling. He climbed up (er, down…I’m sorry) the rope then fell down (oh, yes, down!) the rope being caught in a rather undignified fashion by my dwarf and the barbarian.

(see way more interesting).

We found a secure area and had a long rest, before the party decided to head too a level deeper into the the dungeon.

We found ourselves in a goblin market. It was very hard for my dwarven cleric to not start pounding heads. However the huge numbers of goblins, and the request of his party mates he kept his warhammer stowed.

But a dilemma is forming. We are in a large room with a group of goblins, one of whom is the tribal leader. There is also a couple of bugbears. This large group is holding a dwarf captive. This alone is hard enough for my dwarf to bear, but as the session closed out, our companion NPC is approaching the dwarf with murder in his eyes. This does not sit well with my dwarf and he is moving to intervene…. will he be fast enough?

(Scrabbles through the character sheet… did I choose Hold Person to have ready…..)

DnD – Still a Player

Is everyone’s session like this? I’m starting to get paranoid about my own games – here goes…

So we had a 4 hour session lined up on Sunday just gone. Kicking off at 2pm on Roll20, I logged in with 5mins to spare to find one other player. As I said hello etc, I set up my screens as I like, and thinking about previous sessions, got out my paints and minis and settled in to play.

After spending the first 40mins listening as the DM couldn’t hear us but we could hear him and each other I got a lot of painting done. (I picked up a bunch more colours and have been finishing the minis currently partly painted)(I’ve also experimented with shading and other “fancy” techniques).

Right so we launched into the game.

And after 3 1/2 hours we had done this.

Marched down about 200feet of corridor, killed maybe 7 gricks. We mostly one-shotted these as well. Oh and this NPC that I didn’t realise was even with us slaughtered some guy we found in a closet. Apparently for revenge. Or something.

But I got a bit more painting done. At one point my wife came home in the middle of a battle. I let them know I was AFK but would be back in time for my turn. Went out, greeted her, checked the game, peeled some potatoes, checked the game, parked the car in the garage before coming back.

It was still the same players turn! Even my youngest (who on on the computer next to me the whole game) commented on it afterwards.

A few other things bothered me. He has this system where if you roll a crit (hit or miss) then you roll again to “confirm” it (though I’m not sure what he’s looking for to confirm it?) and then roll percentile to find the effects. That adds time. And not really a whole lot of flavour. He kept running the multi attack by the gricks incorrectly and changed their armour class during each fight (I had the stats open as I didn’t actually know what a grick was).

Now I’m not perfect either. I realised I’ve been swinging my war hammer 2-handed when I’m also packing a shield. Should be 1-handed or put that shield away. Also, I used 2 bonus actions in one round, attacking with my spiritual weapon as well as using my extra “War Priest” attack (my dwarf is a War Cleric).

So that’s his game.

Still, if I compare it to one of my own session I do feel a little better – compared to my own game. In two hours, not four, my party:

  • finished negotiations with the Lizardfolk
  • Returned to Leilon, reporting back to the Council
  • Took up another job to escort goats
  • Escorted the goats to Phandalin, including a near miss with some wyverns and defeating a group of ogres
  • Investigated the desecrated Shrine of Luck in Phandalin
  • And some miscellaneous role playing around the town.

When I put it like that, I don’t feel so bad about my own pacing. But the other DM’s is really starting to drag…. I would like to say something, but I want to talk to one of the other players first. I’ve never met this DM and I don’t know if it’s his first time DMing (I don’t think so) or other things like that. It would be pretty mean to go full vent on him when he’s less experienced than me!

DnD – Just a Goatherder

(I’m sure there’s a song there?)

The party finished their negotiations with the Lizardfolk. After the party helped rid them of the Rot Trolls, the Lizards released the prisoners to the party. There was some discussion that the Lizardfolk might talk to Leilon about a mutual arrangement for protection. The party headed back to the town, returning the missing soldiers (not that the SGT cared, in fact the party sowed some seeds of ridding the town of the SGT after this).

After several days of little to do, the council approached them about escorting a herd of goats (and their owner) to Phandalin for trade. They also gave them a shopping list to bring back.

With little else going on, the party decided a trip back to check on Phandalin, especially on someone else’s coin, seemed a good idea.

The next morning they headed out. The herd did get spooked when a couple of wyvern flew over, but some desperate efforts kept the flock together and presumably the wyvern decide the group was too big to tackle.

One evening though, they were surprised when a group of Ogres snuck up to start snatching goats. The party member on watch noticed the goats acting up and woke the party, just as goats started to disappear.

They charged into battle, keeping the Ogres focused on them, rather than the goats. They were somewhat surprised when a further pair charged from the back, and then a second pair shortly after.

This shows one of my own map creations.
And from the players perspective with the shadows from the tree trunks creating dark spaces (that ogres liked to hide in).

The battle ended with one last ogre, captivated by the bard’s illusion, set up en masse by the group. But not before the most dismal fireball in the history of D&D (the player rolled 6 1s, a 2 and maybe a 6, on 8d8!) so instead of destroying a pair of ogres, they just got singed and really mad.

But the party made it to Phandalin, only losing a handful of goats in the night.

While welcomed by the town and many handshakes and cheers from the folk, they have become increasingly concerned that something sinister is occurring. They have found the Shrine of Luck desecrated in the absence of Sister Girelle. A pin, with the Storm Lord’s symbol was found in the mess. A group of Kobolds led by an elf have started work in the town. This seems an odd match.

But the day has gotten long and they have retired to the Stonehill Inn for some refreshments and to gaze upon the head of the White Dragon they killed (it’s mounted over the bar in the common room).

(Some google-fu uncovered the song. It’s a song from “The Sound of Music”. Considering the several decades since I last saw that – it’s stuck in my brain pretty deeply!)

DnD – Is being a player boring?

Since I returned to D&D about a year ago, almost my entire experience has been as a Dungeon Master. This was a scary thought a year ago – that the only way I was going to get a go at this game was to “bite the bullet” and do the hard work, boring role of DM.

After a year, I enjoy the “work”, so it’s not work, it’s fun. And it’s not boring. I get to set up situations for my players. I read resources and imagine what my players might do in the situation, or how I can splice this interesting idea into the story we are playing. I get to draw maps (which satisfies part of my creative streak) to set them up for Roll 20 (at the moment).

Then in the game, I have to be several characters. I have to rearrange everything when the players do something I had not expected, either to go with them, or sneakily guide them back to the main story. I can play off their actions and build some humour, and threat into the scene.

Twelve months ago opening this book seemed scary and boring….

Yes, it’s busy, and yes, I can’t just rock up 5 minutes into the session and roll with it. But it’s not scary, and it’s not boring.

With COVID and a few other factors, I found myself helping a couple of my players help a new DM out. I think he’s DM’d before, but this was the first time he used Roll20 (and there was something else I had to learn at the start). Pretty slow, as expected, as we talked him through layers and tokens, dynamic lighting, rolling dice etc.

After that, the group has launched into Dungeon of the Mad Mage.

And, ummmm, I’m kinda bored.

Now, the DM is still learning Roll20 and seems to get bogged down in the details, but not always does this happen with just intricacies of Roll20.

I sit and wait my turn in combat. I listen in so I can play off the others and try to have my actions planned out before I have my turn. This keeps the game flowing, but I feel like I spend ages waiting for the others. Do all players feel like this?

I desperately want to know what’s around the next bend, but we’ve got to go slow so we don’t “illuminate” the bad guys (or move straight past them because they’re on a different layer) and ruin the surprise.

I’m starting think I don’t like being a player. Or at least a Roll20 player. Maybe I’d be less bored if we were all sitting around a table together?

Now, this group (apart from 1 other player) I’ve only just met, and only online. So there’s very little rapport built between us. That’s part of it, I’m sure.

Heck, maybe its just that it’s a dungeon crawl (well so far) and there’s no thing driving us? Maybe I’d like a more RP heavy adventure. Or at least a mystery or something?

But are there others out there that find being a Player boring, especially after being a DM for a while (or as a large part of your playing)?

DND – Into the Mere

Would this be the first session with combat after two that had only RP? Would they get swallowed up by the Mere of Dead Men… Would they think my new maps looked terrible?

The session started with a little recovery period for the party after the past sleepless nights watching the Wizard’s tower. Then, one morning, they were approached by a worried girlfriend about her missing partner. He was a militia soldier and was late back from patrol. The party agreed to investigate.

Firstly, they were dismayed, but I don’t think exactly surprised, by the lack of interest from the militia Sergeant. Their first impressions, as he high tailed it for the woods as soon as the town was under threat, mean he is not held in high regard by the party. Perhaps this is a recommendation they will make at the end of their work here in Leilon.

They did get that there was a patrol, it was late, and it headed south along the high road for a few days before they would turn around and head back. The party kitted up and headed off.

On the second day they came upon evidence of a small battle, including signs that the missing patrol may have been involved. They followed a set of tracks into the marsh.

My hand drawn map. I prefer this and hope my players do too. This was my first one and more will come in other sessions. I’ll have another post on some of the details of this.

After a run in with a couple of giant snakes, the party came upon a tribe of lizard folk travelling the marsh. They had 2 cages of prisoners, including the missing patrol. Some of the party tried to sneak closer, but were spotted.

A battle almost ensued, but with a Dragonborn in the party, dialogue was able to be established (as both sides could talk in Draconic). The lizardfolk were on the run from rot trolls. They planed to distract the trolls by leaving the prisoners and making a run for it. After some negotiation, the offer was made – if the party could deal with the trolls, the lizard folk would let the prisoners go.

Before anything was agreed, the trolls attacked. The lizards and the party did manage to kill the trolls, but 2 lizard warriors were killed.

The party agreed to the terms, and went after the 3rd troll. This almost ended in disaster when the troll critical hit the party’s monk and one shot him to unconsciousness. As one player says, these big guys might not hit too often, but when they do, look out.

That was the last threat to the party really. The troll was pounded into the marsh by the Dragonborn paladin, expertly backed up by the party’s pyromanic wizard. The monk was healed out of unconsciousness and able to join back into the fight.

And there the session ended. They’ll kick of again next time finalising arrangements with the lizard folk. I’m interested to see if they ask for guide back to the road. Otherwise, there may be some further encounters along the way.