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.

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 – Sleeping Dragon Wakes (Review)

With the next module in the series complete (aside from the tidy up) it’s a chance to review this one too.

Again, I think it is a pretty good module, with some interesting scenarios wound together into the story. I ran it without using the “Quest Board”, adding some story links to have the party get involved in things. Partly, so that I could control which parts I would need to prepare, but also, it fits with the story better. They were very much a part of the town by this stage, so having them look for jobs on a board made no sense. For a party that starts here, maybe it would fit?

A running battle with the sahuagin proved a challenge for the group. Later a similar, multi stage battle with some bandits could have really punished them, if the zombies and chimera waiting in the wings could have gotten involved. Some smart tactics helped them there. At the higher levels they are reaching, simply throwing a crowd of enemies isn’t really a challenge.

I gave them the full credit for getting in to meet the green dragon without having to fight almost anyone in the entire lair. They basically talked their way in, as they also did with the bronze dragon earlier. This made for some fun RP.

Overall a great part 2 of 3 adventure with a terrible “to be continued” ending. However, if you consider it all as one, then its not an ending.

For Roll20 users

Again, I added a bunch of maps, but nothing like the last module. I mostly reused a couple of maps with different creatures, to run random encounters, so not strictly required. The maps provided did a better job of covering the action. Might not be so for the next module.

And so it’s on to Divine Contention and the final showdown. The core of this is a long defence of the town itself as the two factions attack. It will really test the endurance of the group. It will also be interesting to see what they remember they have picked up (they have several healing scrolls that will come in handy – if they remember them!).

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.

D&D – and zombies

The broken battle continued in this session. 

Seeing that most of their company had fallen, including the leader, the last two bandits threw down their arms and came clean on everything that they knew.

The party listened, but every quickly decided that they needed to dispatch the remaining threats behind each door before too much time passed. The chimera was sounding decidedly unhappy, so they started there. A pet of the bandit boss, the animal was already incensed by her death. Just as I was about to have it burst out to disrupt the conversation with the surrendered bandits, the party opened the door.

With the platemail wearing dragonborn paladin holding the doorway, the chimera found getting out of its room rather difficult. Coupled with several mighty arrow strikes from the ranger, the chimera barely got a breath attack before it found itself very quickly dead. 

Next, they decided to drop the large room of zombies. With a great fireball, that destroyed the locked door and engulfed the entire pen, many zombies fell before the fight even started. The ogre zombies proved a little more sturdy, and there was a few rounds of fighting before they fell. 

At this point, I had a long line of dead tokens stacked off the map and the party is starting to find that it has only a few spell slots left, or not a lot of arrows etc. Once again, a long running battle has pressed the party towards their limits. 

One final door, and 3 zombies try to attack the party. Using a similar approach, blocking the door with the paladin, the party finds that while they don’t hit much harder, they take a lot more to put down. 

With the fall of the last zombie the party paused for a breath. During the distraction the bandits had fled, but that won’t have any lasting consequences. The bandits are running for Neverwinter and to find some other work to do.

With the keep theirs, the party secured the buildings and pulled up for a well-earned rest. They will continue to look for the dragon next session….

Or will they…. It will be Valentine’s Day for the next session and (assuming we are not all out entertaining our real life valentines) I am looking about for a short little sidetrack to run them through. There are a couple of possible options in DMs Guild and I have a couple of ideas myself…

D&D – Smugglers

And it was time to restart the adventure in Saltmarsh as well….

Our party spent the evening interrogating their prisoner, eventually finding out that a businessman in Saltmarsh who worked with the smugglers had sent him to observe and interfere with the party’s investigation. And if needed, to stop it.

To Ned it was quickly evident from the party’s loose chatter that he was too late to prevent the party interfering, so his task changed to stopping the party.

And evidently, this was a little too much to ask of Ned, hence the current situation. 

The party decided to stay the night, keeping a vigil for the smugglers boat (Ned let them know that one was due on the current new moon). No ship showed and this antagonised the party until they realised that a new moon isn’t just one night, and it is the sea, so there could easily be delays.

They knocked out Ned, slung him over the back of the Tortle and headed into town. 

As they passed through town there were quite a few curious looks. A particular set of people were noticed to see the party, confer and then quickly disappear into the crowd. Meek, the urchin druid Halfling set out to follow them, but it turned out they had some local advantage and he lost them as they climbed over the fences of some rather well to do house. After watching for a while, Reek headed back to rejoin the party.

Meanwhile the party arrived at the council chambers and were ushered into the office of the councilman who tasked them. He was both happy and dismayed that his hunch was correct. He was also very interested in hearing what Ned might reveal about the businessman involved. He sent Ned away with his man to keep him safe. Being that his man is the leader of another hidden faction trying to disrupt the smugglers for their own needs, he’s pretty stoked the party bought this guy back.

The councilman asks the party to remain in his employ, return to the house and try to catch the smuggler’s ship. He agrees on a reward, agrees to provide supplies so the party can remain at the house, and the party can have any spoils, including the ship. With several of the party having sailor backgrounds, some happy grins were exchanged.

With that, the party head out into the town to sell some of the items they had collected. The most memorable was a bidding war in a local miners pub for some illustrated erotic books. They headed back to the mansion as it grew dark, settling in to rest and watch for the ship.

D&D – Zombies again

Well the Leilon game has restarted. Most of the players got the message over various socials so we had 4 in attendance. About normal for us anyway.

When (before Christmas) we left our party, they’d just defeated a collection of zombies that charged out of the scrub at them. The fight ending up with a single armoured fighter who had been chasing the zombies (her colleague had died in the fight). The party and the fighter had an initially strained conversation, but it eased off as each side worked out where each other stood.

The party helped build a rock cairn for her colleague, accepting her story that they had been all that was left of a caravan that had been attacked by the zombies. The pair had decided to follow and either stop, warn or assist anything else they came across. With the zombies taken care of, she said she would head to Neverwinter and find more work. (At no point did the party check any of her conversation. She was lying through her teeth, not even her name was real. Ah well).

However, some of the party became suspicious when she left. She didn’t head towards the main road, rather deeper into the forest. A couple of them followed until she started down a trail, still heading “the wrong way”. They went back to the party and the party moved to follow and investigate. (Our fighter was headed back to the bandit gang she came from).

The party eventually came across a ruined keep in the forest. After some recon of the area, the party split. With 3 approaching the gate and 3 covering them, hidden in the surrounding trees. They could see several guards on the walls and more through a large hole in one wall.

The party assumed that the fighter had come here, and name dropped to no response. (She had actually come back, but due to her failure to hide the zombies or destroy the party, the bandit leader had her killed). The party was invited in (the 3 they could see) and a little conversation was had. The party enquired about the group (mercenaries apparently, enroute to Neverwinter – not true). They warned them about the zombies (the bandits had a whole stash of zombies themselves). This was really a pretext for the bandit leader to get them in the walls to kill them, to keep the secret of the zombies.

In classic ambush style, the bandits attacked as the party went to leave. Several things helped the party. The paladin had sensed a great number of zombies in a nearby room, but was unable to say anything without revealing it. And someone did an insight check, it was clear the leader was lying. And the other party member figured that the camp looked like it had been here for sometime, not the couple of days that the leader described. Everyone was suspicious. Outside, the others had moved to see through the hole in the wall as soon as they saw the gates shut behind the party. So there wasn’t much surprise when the bandits attacked.

Battle ensued. The members in the courtyard put up a good defence, but most of the damage was done by the ranger and wizard launching ranged attacks through the hole in the wall. The bard cast his (continually frustrating for a DM) Hypnotic Distraction and distracted half the bandits. The guards on the walls started shooting arrows into the fray as well.

Initially it looked more even than most fights. However with half of her bandits distracted, the leader made a run for a room at the base of one of the towers, where her pet chimera was kept. She never made it, but her death scream caused the creature to cry out. The party figured something nasty behind door number one.

Door number two was revealed to have something behind it too, when the bard came up against it during the fight. The moans were clearly audible and instantly recognised. And the paladin revealed there were definitely zombies behind door number 3.

The bandits did intend to release these into the party, but were prevented from door one and two simply by being cut down when they attempted to move in that direction. The wizard secured door 3 with a Wall of Flame cast across the courtyard, cutting the bandits off from it.

An exciting session had to cut off in the middle of this fight. With only 2 bandits standing, things could calm down shortly.

I imagine the party will move to eliminate the remaining threats piecemeal, which will make it easier for them. It’s something they are very at good at setting up even in a melee, so with each group behind a door, I think it will be easy to keep them seperate. However, there are a LOT of zombies behind door 3. The chimera sounds scary, but this crew has killed 2 dragons in short order. I don’t think the chimera on its own will be much of a problem.

I am planning on having the last couple of bandits surrender. This won’t stop the party from having to deal with the other creatures as the bandits don’t control them (with the death of the chimera’s owner). But they might get some intel that could set things up for later….

D&D – Aid to the Bronze

So the weekend was a double header for me. DM’ing the Saltmarsh on Friday evening and then DM’ing the Sleeping Dragon on the Sunday Morning.

Oh, rubbish, I’ve missed at least one session here as well. I’ll use the fact that time is wibbly-wobbley, timey-whimey stuff to sort that out. And the fact that I can have the post schedule for whenever I like, even the past…..

The party was recovering in Leilon when a they got a note. Their old party member. Baraxas, a paladin of Bahamut, had sent word that there was a old Bronze dragon that might be able to help supposedly in a shrine not too far away. It had not been seen for some time, so some were convinced it might be dead, but Baraxas thought it be worth checking out anyway.

The party hired a small boat (as the shrine was apparently easily spotted and accessed from the water) and headed up the coast.

Here they found a large shrine carved into the cliff, depicting a dragon roaring. A small stone jetty lead to some stairs and up into the cave.

They landed and snuck up the stairs. The lead, a ranger, spotted a tripwire at the top, which the party avoided. Inside, they surprised several cultists (in this case benign cultists who provided support to the Bronze dragon and tended its shrine, not your usual evil, rip your beating heart from your body cultists).

Initially it was at a tipping point, with combat imminent. However, some quick words (and persuasion and history checks) lessened the tensions and soon the group was being shown around and invited to visit Lhammas…….. something. Dragon names are tongue twisters for sure. I just called her Llama for short.

They were cautioned that Llama was not well, acting very strangely and may be violent.

Up in the dragon’s chambers several members immediately felt uncomfortable with a distracting buzzing filling their heads. One became very confused.

The dragon met them with confusion and distrust, suspecting them to be foes. Some quick words and a Calm Emotions spell had a positive effect, but it was soon clear that the dragon was confused to the point of dangerous. The party retreated downstairs.

Downstairs they spent some time discovering that this had happened fairly recently. A helpful ghost they came across also suspected that the dragon was suffering some external influence. The party set out to search the rest of the dragon’s home and also prowled around outside in case anything seemed out of place.

They had no luck, so discussions ensued. As they settled down for the night, they began to suspect the barnacles growing around the window in the dragon’s chamber might be related. It seemed the barnacles were unusually far from the ocean below. (That was the end of the previous session, have I missed 2 reports?)

The next morning, two important things occurred. Baraxas rejoined the party. He had been released by his church to return to the party and support them with the dragon. This would also provide confirmation to the church that the dragon was still alive. In reality, a new player joined the group and decided they didn’t want to waste time rolling up a new character, happy to take up the reins of Baraxas. Big bonus for the party as they have their tank back. And in this case, they are Dragonborn – who better to talk to a dragon?

Who better to talk to Llama. The party headed back to the dragons room, Baraxas almost overwhelmed by the rank odour of evil coming from the direction of the barnacles. But before they could explain to the increasingly agitated dragon, Baraxas was thrown into a confused state, so much for that advantage. However, a timely cast Calm Emotions and the party was able to convince the dragon to move downstairs while they dealt with the whatever evil remained.

The second important thing was that the wizard was able to recall a demon known as an Alkitih, which usually took the form of moss or fungus, around doors or windows. These were known to send beings mad unless destroyed.

As the spell started to wear off the dragon, the group charged back upstairs.

Without the additional support of the crazed dragon, the demon proved a fairly simple kill for the group. As soon as it died, a loud thump was heard from downstairs.

Back downstairs they found Llama slumped to the floor, alive but probably unconscious.

After a nervous wait by the party and the dragons helpers, she slowing regained her senses and was clearly recovering quickly from the effects of the demon’s madness. The cultists were very happy.

Llama took them into the chamber and they received a vision from Bahamut. In it a terrible green dragon was attaching Leilon. Llama recognised it as… another difficult dragon name, who I called Claude, an old green that lives nearby, but keeps to herself to avoid the wrath of the Cities of the Sword Coast.

They received some rewards, and I put them all up to level 9. Now they have returned to Leilon. After letting the town know what they had found out, they set off for the green.

As they moved through the hills towards the forrest where the green lived, they were confronted by several zombies lumbering along (who then lumbered towards them) being chased by two women.

The party engaged and the session ended with the zombies destroyed and the party about to talk to the 2 women….

Then the session closed and we’ll start again sometime in mid-January.