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………

D&D – Saltmarsh: The Emperor

While there have been a couple of missed sessions, I notice its now June and I haven’t updated since March. So…

The Saltmarsh crew were hired by a merchant to salvage a ship. A lost ship of his fleet had been recently spotted adrift. They were tasked with retrieving a strongbox from the ship, and would be paid handsomely. The crew turned down the offer of a ship as they preferred to take their own…

After a few days sail, they found the ship, looking weatherbeaten and with no sign of life on board. They had their crew take a boat over and tie up alongside while the adventurers headed onboard.

The deck was clear but damage, and spiders, were everywhere. Venturing inside, the party was immediately set upon by an ettercap and a couple of giant spiders. Some of the smaller spiders swarmed together to attack as well.

They were bested fairly easily and the crew ventured further in.

They came upon an ominous sight – an alter to Lloth, in her guise as Queen of Spiders. Not a positive sign, though it goes some way to explaining all the spiders.

Opening a cabin door they surprised a rather decrepit man inside. The man tossed aside the bone he had been chewing and attacked. The party overwhelmed him as well. This man was dressed in rags and looked like he’d been eating poorly. The ship just got stranger and stranger.

The hallway opened a little, but they were ambushed by more spiders, this time including a phase spider. It ghosted around as they fought, but again the party was victorious.

They found the opening to the hold, but decided to clear this deck of any threats before heading further in. This decision would prove its worth soon.

Here they found three, well, three cocoons? They were wriggling so the party suspected they might have people inside and started to slice one open.

They were met by a ferocious set of teeth. A maw demon raged out of the webs and two more quickly attacked. The party struggled a little, but put the demons down.

Returning to the hold, Hangs (our tabaxi) leapt down into the gloom.

He discovered, much to his dismay, that the hold was about waist deep in seawater. A rather wet and bedraggled tabaxi began to search the hold.

About halfway along he found their prize. A large crate marked with an A. Just as he was attempting to move the crate, 3 ghouls leapt out of the water.

Hangs took a couple of severe blows, and managed little in return. Some of the party jumped to help while others fired from a distance. During the fight, the ship trembled and shook a couple of times. A noise like splintering wood could also be heard.

Just as the ghouls sank beneath the dark water, mighty tentacles burst through the hull, sweeping across the room. It was only chance that saved anyone from damage.

The party attempted to move the crate, but found it much heavier than they had expected and it took two people. They found that with two, they could move it slowly across the deck.

And a race against time as the giant octopus started to take the ship apart. They heaved the crate up to the next floor. The ship settled into the water, the hold filling behind them. They continued to drag the crate along corridors and up to the main deck. Outside they could hear yells and screams.

Finally onto the main deck they discovered another ettercap had leapt onto the parties’ longboat in order to make an escape. Hangs, not being lumbered with the crate leapt over the side to land on the shoulders of the ettercap. Almost his only nice roll of the night saw a mighty blow and he managed to stay on the shoulders.

Back on deck, Reek had the crate ready to lower from the ship. Tentacles continued to lash across the deck and the boat listed over to port. The port side of the deck was now level with the water.

Reek had a great idea and let go of the rope. The heavy crate dropped down towards the longboat and a nicely lucky roll saw it crush the last of the life from the ettercap. Even better, Hang’s finest roll of the night saw him leap aside at the last minute, flip over and land with a flourish on the bow of the longboat.

With the ettercap gone and the crate loaded, the remaining members clambered into the longboat which pushed of with great haste.

Back at the ship, they hurriedly made sail, keen to vacate the area where the giant octopus was busily tearing the other ship apart.

As they sailed back they did investigate the crate and lockbox inside but quickly decided that they didn’t have the skills or magic to open it up.

Finally, the party returned to town, returned the goods and was handsomely paid their 10,000GP. Well, actually a promise note at a nearby bank.

As they settled into their beers and dinner, the party is approached by a member of the Mariner’s guild with a job….

D&D – Saltmarsh – Lizardfolk!

Their mission was clear. Deliver the lizard folk and their goods to the lizard folk base and determine if they were a threat to Saltmarsh. A successful mission would see them as the owners of The Sea Ghost.

It was only about 3 hours sail to the landing place shown to them by the lizards. Extremely close to town for a group that seems to be arming themselves. The sea elf accompanied them, so he could find out for his people.

Following their lizard escorts, the party went ashore and travelled across a headland to find the hidden entrance. The lizard escorts made this entry fairly amicable and they were handed over to a guard officer, who took them to see the Lizardfolk Queen.

The Queen and her advisors were a lot more fluent in common and the introductions went very smoothly.

It was quickly clear that the Lizardfolk were arming themselves to retake their home, further up the coast, that had been taken from them by a band of sahuagin. They also had emissaries visiting from the menfolk, the koalinth and the locathah. The sea elves had not been invited due to animosity between them and the koalinth. Humans had not been invited as the Queen couldn’t see the benefit of land dwellers in what would be a sea or undersea fight.

The party suggested that perhaps they could help with weapons, suggesting things like crossbows could also be added. More conversation ensued

At the end, the queen said that she would consider their proposals and respond soon. She would call them back when she was ready to discuss. In the meantime, they could roam freely within the Lizardfolk’s home.

Which the party did. They were asked not to enter a few sleeping chambers, and one area which the Lizardfolk used other creatures to guard the entranceway.

Wandering around they made a good impression on the lizards. Especially when they demonstrated the power and accuracy of the crossbows to the soldiers. This scored them a lot of points.

There was a tense moment when the koalinth emissaries spied the sea elf with the party. However, in the spirt of peace, and that the elf quickly moved away, nothing occurred.

Koalinth – basically sea orcs

In the end the queen agreed to send two emissaries to Saltmarsh, to begin negotiations. The party returned to the Sea Ghost, and sailed back to Saltmarsh.

This session was entirely RP’d. The session completed the entire Danger at Dunwater without any fighting. There were a few persuasion and insight checks. A couple of moments where there party did think about poking in where they had been asked not to but they did not.

Throughout their visit, the DM tracks what kind of an impression they are making on the Lizardfolk. Doing good things, establishing good relationships, being courteous would add numbers, with bad things, like releasing sahuagin prisoners or fighting with emissaries would reduce the number. At the end, if the number was high enough the queen would send them home with emissaries.

The party was probably meant to kill the lizards back on the ship, but that’s not what happened, so they entered this module in a very different place to the normal. I gave them a high positive number to start with because of that, and for returning the weapons. They treated courteously with the queen and friendly to their youngsters. They hit it off with the soldiers by showing them the additional weapons and (apart from the koalinth) were friendly to the other emissaries. They got a high number quite easily. (and were so close, and the session was about to end, so I didn’t feel like running the extra killer croc event)

Now they have some time off (they think) in Saltmarsh while the crown and the Lizardfolk negotiate….

D&D – Saltmarsh – Onboard the Smugglers.

I’m writing this about a month after, so I will probably be a little light on the details.

The party spent a couple of nights waiting for the ship, before almost at dawn it appeared. There was some initial confusion but the signals were sent and the party boarded the longboat and paddled out to the ship. They approached head on, and were recognised very quickly.

Storming the ship the battle raged across the main deck, with the party chasing enemy up onto the various parts. The tabaxi tried to “dance around” their enemy, but only slightly distracted him, so the fight was fairly even. The deck wizard got off a couple of good shots.

An angry man charged from one of the cabins proclaiming he wouldn’t have this on ‘his’ ship. But even the captain was no match of the party.

The Sea Ghost. (an epic conversion I found on Reaper minis message board)

The party relaxed a little as they cleaned off the main deck but the barbarian was still raging so he charged down one set of stairs into a cabin.

Without coming across anyone.

The ship was searched, and it turned out that the crew had perished in the fight upstairs. They found a large quantity of stores, with no indication if this was regular or smuggled goods.

As they finally finished up clearing the ship, they came across a cabin with 3 very wary lizard folk inside. I have to admit I did expect them to charge in, weapons swinging. It was lizard folk after all. They attempted to communicate.

Warily the lizard folk accepted that any fighting was between the sailors and the party not with the lizard folk. This did calm them down somewhat, but in broken common, they asked who was going to finish their deal now that the smugglers were dead.

Apparently there are some weapons on board, being smuggled for the lizard folk. Alarmingly, the lizard folk were based only 10 miles along the coast from Saltmarsh…. Is an attack coming against Saltmarsh?

The ship was searched again.

And again.

After some time, a secret compartment was discovered. Inside, about 30 weapons, brand new, but plain, were being kept. The lizard folk’s goods.

In a compartment next to it, they found a rather miserable sea elf. He had been scouting the ship, trying to figure out what the smugglers were doing, when he was struck from behind and woke up in this cell.

Eventually, the party and lizard folk agreed that the party would head back to Saltmarsh and deliver the news and the goods to the town. Then they would ship the goods and the lizard folk home.

The goods were sold (some may have made their way into the secret compartments for later sale) and the ship was given to the party as reward. But the proviso was that they took the Lizardfolk home, with their weapons and found out what was happening.

Using some of their loot and cash, their hired on a crew, including a cook. The lizard folk were back aboard and the ship ready to leave.

Me, Dungeon Master???

About two months ago, I briefly joined in a couple of rounds with a nearby D&D group before it was clear that the timings weren’t going to work for me. This was 5e, and I hadn’t played since 1e when I was in high school (I’ll let you work out how many decades ago that was), so long ago that when I brushed aside the cobwebs the notes had wasted away to nothing anyway. I still have a 1988 printed PHB on the shelf (rats just gave away the answer).

Enthused, but not sure what to do, I asked around across the work network and found a half dozen of us who were all keen to play, mostly all new. So in a fit of altruism, and in order to get the idea moving I volunteered to DM.

Which I haven’t done for that same number of decades… and maybe only once then too.

Being geographically disparate we decided to use Roll20 website to run the game. This gives us an online game board to draw and create on, while providing automated character sheets and a host of other tools to use. It also has audio and video.

We’ve had two sessions so far. I hope its been enjoyable. Its a steep learning curve for me as I try to learn all of the players abilities and manage the game, while we all learn Roll20 and its capabilities. Each session has left me with some homework on things to study and read up on. I also try to make sure that I am reading ahead and preparing so that the short 2 hours that we have is of maximum benefit.

But both sessions have included new people joining, so there’s the inevitable period of setting up characters, things not working and the learning we are all doing about both D&D and Roll20. A couple more sessions and I’m sure we’ll be in the swing of it.

I’m running the group through a module called “Lost Mines of Phandelver”, which was included in the D&D Starter Set. It’s designed for new players (and DMs) so a good start for us.

There is also a host of resources online (which didn’t exist when I started, heck online barely existed when I started). Youtube videos that explain rules more clearly, tips and tricks – both generic and specific to the Lost Mines. The official D&D website and the Roll20 wiki have a heap of stuff as well. I had already picked up the Starter Set a year or more back when the Mini Mabs showed some interest and just before the foray into the other group I picked up the D&D box set with PHB, DM guide & screen and MM. So plenty of references.

I am enjoying it, the group is settling in together. I’d like to see it continue, I’d also like to rotate through as a player, but I’d rather keep the group than force the issue. Because I do enjoy the DMing as well. If it does continue, I’d like to get the Storm King’s Thunder as that looks pretty interesting. Maybe keep the same characters or let them restart…. I think that is some time away as there are at least 3 out of 4 chapters to complete in this one first.