6.17.2017

Castle Whiterock - An Adventure in Six Parts

...but only because there have been six sessions so far.

Taylor has been running this with Pathfinder, and we've had a blast. Our party has made probably 10 forays into the dungeon, taking the opportunity to head back to town maybe half a dozen times, and we made it to fourth level last night.

We started as an established adventuring group, with our band having done enough stuff before the game started to bring us to first level in our respective classes. We met with a local personage of power and agreed to tasks set forth by her to collect books and other writings we recover, and then be compensated for them.

Early forays to Castle Whiterock saw us facing off with slavers/cultists (I don't think we ever really got a good idea of which), undead, murderous birds, and bugbears! This latest venture into the dungeons below the structure had us poorly navigating hallways and randomly bumping into groups of orcas... one even featuring a spellcaster! Some of the orcs seemed a bit tougher than others, and it felt like our group were in for it a time or two, but we persevered (thanks in large part to Sir Hiss' Color Sprays) until we came across this Donkey Kong-esque staircase where some orcs were rolling barrels down the stairs at us.

After taking a few lumps from the barrels on our way up, we finally made it up and engaged the 4 pig-faces, then were surprised by Nomdalu (sp?) running up the stairs yelling that we had more company coming in the shape of six of the elite commando orcs heading in from the other direction.

Sir Hiss fell early, but Nomdalu was able to come to his aid while Malek and Cale swung away at the growing mass of bodies. Cale was clubbed down, followed by Nomdalu when she attempted to cast a spell in melee. Malek swiftly followed, leaving Sir Hiss the last standing. He promptly started begging for his life to be spared, and the laughing orcs (only 3 left standing, I may add) tied him up and then the lights went out.

We all know Batman or the Ninja Turtles aren't coming to save our sorry asses, so Hiss has been knocked out. Taylor let us know that we didn't end with a TPK, and has, indeed, told us what is to come, but I will leave my dear readers in the dark!


Cast of Characters
Sir Hiss, Male Vishkanya Sorcerer 4 - Jon
Malek, Male Dwarf Fighter 4 - G2
Nomdalu, Female ?? Cleric of ?? 4 - Sam
Cale Fontan, Male Human Fighter 4 - Me

1.07.2017

2016: A Year in Summary

Happy belated New Year, everyone!

It's been four months since I've posted, and the reasons stay the same, so I'll not bore you with them. Instead, I've decided to tell you a little about what I've been doing, entertainment-wise, in the past year, much like I did at the start of 2015.

I understand that what I do with my free time probably isn't appealing to most people, but you never know if you might find a book, movie, tv show, or gaming product that you've never heard of on the list somewhere.

Feel free to question, comment on, or make fun of anything you see on the list!


2016 Use of Time
Books
The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss)
Basic D&D Dungeon Master's Rulebook (TSR)
Do Ants Have Assholes? (Jon Butler and Bruno Vincent)
Pathfinder Adventure Path 11: Curse of the Crimson Throne 5: Skeletons of Scarwall (Paizo)
D&D 3.x Exemplars of Evil (Wizards of the Coast)
Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting (Paizo)
Proven Guilty (Jim Butcher)
Mummy: The Resurrection (White Wolf)
Vampire: The Masquerade New Orleans by Night (White Wolf)
D&D 3.x Ravenloft Denizens of Dread (Sword & Sorcery)
Vampire: The Requiem: Bloodlines - The Hidden (White Wolf)
5e D&D Forgotten Realms Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (Wizards of the Coast)
Expert D&D Rulebook (TSR)
Pathfinder Adventure Path 12: Curse of the Crimson Throne 6: Crown of Fangs (Paizo)
World of Darkness Armory (White Wolf)
World of Darkness Shadows of Mexico (White Wolf)
Pathfinder Unchained (Paizo)
World of Darkness Chicago (White Wolf)
Vampire: The Masquerade The Hunters Hunted (White Wolf)
AD&D 2nd Edition Dark Sun Thri-Kreen of Athas (TSR)
The Civil War Almanac (World Almanac)
D&D 3.x Dragonlance Dragons of Spring (Margaret Weis Productions)
Malifaux Rules Manual (Wyrd)
D&D 3.x Cityscape (Wizards of the Coast)
Changeling: The Lost Core Rulebook (White Wolf)
Expert D&D module XSOLO Lathan's Gold (TSR)
D&D 3.x Dragonlance module Key of Destiny (Sovereign Press)
Exalted 3rd Edition (Onyx Path/White Wolf)
Malifaux 2nd Edition (Wyrd)
Pathfinder Adventure Path 13: Second Darkness 1: Shadow in the Sky (Paizo)
Ruins of the Dragon Lord: The Dragon Stone (Green Ronin)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Ships of the Inner Sea (Paizo)
Pathfinder Chronicles: The Great Beyond (Paizo)
Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Darkmoon Vale (Paizo)
Ruins of the Dragon Lord: Path of Archaneroth (Green Ronin)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes (Paizo)
D&D 3.x Dragonlance module Spectre of Sorrows (Sovereign Press)
The Two Swords (R. A. Salvatore)
5e D&D Dungeonology (Wizards of the Coast)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Dragon Empires Gazetteer (Paizo)

Magazines
Dungeon 95/Polyhedron 154
Dragon 353

Movies
Deadpool (2016)
The Mexican (2001)
Hollywood Homicide (2003)
The Croods (2013)
Pompeii (2014)
Ride Along (2014)
Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge (1987)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
2 Guns (2013)
300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
47 Ronin (2013)
The Internship (2013)
Apartment 143 (2011)
Girl in Woods (2016)
Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
The Other Woman (2015)
Just Go With It (2011)
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Rise of the Zombies (2012)
Pacific Rim (2013)
The Revenant (2015)
Dream/Killer (2015)
Hazard Jack (2014)
Ender's Game (2013)
Man-Thing (2005)
Rawhide (1951)
These Thousand Hills (1959)
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010)
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

TV
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2
Murder Book, Season 2
Real Detective, Season 1
Agent Carter, Season 1
Major Crimes, Season 4
Rizzoli & Isles, Season 6
Ancient Aliens, Season 6
Game of Thrones, Season 5
Rizzoli & Isles, Season 7
American Horror Story: Roanoke (Season 6)
Game of Thrones, Season 6

Video Games
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Tabletop Gaming*
Rise of the Runelords (6 sessions)
Iron Gods (Taylor, 1 session)
Tomb of the Iron Medusa (Taylor, 4 sessions)
Wrath of the Righteous (Sam, 10 sessions)
Hollow's Last Hope (1 session)
Master of the Fallen Fortress (Taylor, 1 session)
Vampire: The Masquerade - New Orleans (10 sessions)
Serpent's Skull (Paul, 10 sessions)
Pathfinder Homebrew (Jacob, 3 sessions)
Shadow of the Demon Lord (Taylor/Me, 1 session)
Shadow of the Demon Lord (Taylor, 3 sessions)
Exalted 3rd Edition (2 sessions)
Forgotten Realms II: Legacies of the Past (2 sessions)
Malifaux (4 sessions)
Curse of the Crimson Throne (7 sessions)
*Games with names in parenthesis denote who ran those particular campaigns.

8.03.2016

Forgotten Realms II: Legacies of the Past, Series 2.1

Friday night, I revived a campaign I haven't ran in ten years, with a group featuring only one of the players from that game a decade ago.

Some might ask why I'd do such a thing? Surely, the balance and chemistry would be thrown off? Does the player from the old group even remember his character or what was happening? Can the new group possibly capture some of that same dynamic that made the old campaign successful? Can you even remember where you were going with the campaign, and can you reignite that dynamic that made the old campaign successful?

The answers are easy enough: Paul really wants to see this out to its end, plus it sounds fun. Probably, but that can be recreated. Not really, but with lots of exposition and two weeks to study his character and classes, he's getting up to speed. I'm hoping the new group creates its own dynamic that will make this new part of the campaign successful. I keep meticulous notes, and had all my old work saved, so I know where I was going, but can I jump back in and get a solid dynamic going? Hell, I'm gonna give it my best!


And so we begin...
There's a fair amount of exposition and hammering out some details before we get started. This was made easier by only having half of the group present, so after we do some short prologues and catch everyone up to what happened in the old campaign, then I let the players choose when we would get into the game.

Some of the exposition follows, for those who want to play along at home...
Disclaimer: If you stumbled across this post and decided to read due to setting, and you are a Forgotten Realms purist, you might want to stop right now. My realms is set in 1395 DR, before any of the 4th or 5th Edition material was published, and absolutely wrecks canon in places. You have been warned!



·                     The intrepid heroes of the old campaign were whisked to the Monastery of the Omniscient Eye in the Sunrise Mountains. (A huge shared temple of all gods/goddesses of knowledge in any form, including those who normally wouldnt work together on principle of alignment. (Shar, Oghma, Milil, Savras, Gond, etc.)
·                     There, it is revealed that the Illumians are a dying race magically created thousands of years ago by a culture they do not recall to safeguard knowledge and put the knowledge they do have to use in making Abeir-Toril safer and to keep magic proliferate.
·                     At the Monastery, the PCs unlocked the truth behind their items(and statted them), decided who would continue on the quest, and equipped themselves to be appropriate for their level so that the challenges aren't increasingly harder than the PCs could muster against.
·                     The 8 Great Evils were revealed as riddles and rhymes to be interpreted how the PCs found fit, though each is very much a specific person/entity, and all are truly evil.
·                     The PCs will set out on their quest to rid the world of the Evils, thus fulfilling their purpose as bearers of Thenadae's Legacy Items. 


After hitting the bullet points and going over a recap of the last session played with Paul, we went through a short prologue for each character, which is where the campaign picks up.


Jörmun's Prologue
After his battlelust getting the best of him during a job in his long stay in Waterdeep, Jörmun is forced to leave the city, becoming a wanderer again in his life, searching out battle, gold, and magic.

Some time later, during his travels, an agent of his employer in the City of Splendors, a man he for the first time realizes is an elf, despite multiple dealings, intercepts him and offers him a tip on a lucrative venture where there is promised to be much treasure and many chances to prove his might in battle.

This is all the Uthgardt needs to agree, and the man gives him an amulet that will guide the northerner in the right direction. Without hesitation, the warrior begins the long trek on foot toward adventure, arriving nine days later in Enialani Deshu.


Harlequin's Prologue
Harlequin has it easy. After touring with a troupe of entertainers, she has settled back in working for a noble family that pays her well. This day, however, when she enters the estate for her nightly performances, she is met with the man of the house, who takes her aside and explains that her father has need of her talents this day.

Art by Carla Arlecchino
It is explained by Harlequin's father that a veteran friend, and powerful Chessentan noble, named Telamon has asked for his aid in completing a quest that Telamon, himself, must give up for the time being. The old naval officer realizes that he is too old to take up this quest, but believes that his daughter has the life experience and potential to achieve great things and so decided to contact Harlequin and ask for her to do this thing for him, and to know he would never ask this of her if he didn't feel there was great need.

Harlequin accepts and her father bids her gather everything she feels she will need and meet him at their home, which she does and is introduced to a mystic whom asks if she is ready, then whisks her to Cormanthor via teleport as soon as she begins to answer. The mystic then bids her good luck and teleports away again just as quickly, leaving the young woman to guess where to go.

Shortly after entering the city, she makes contact with Telamon and his group before they depart, and he thanks her for taking up this quest in her father's stead. He then introduces her to Melody and makes preparations to leave.


Melody's Prologue
Art by Nekoart on Twitter
Telamon, Hapheth, Jack, Melody, Ajax, Logos, and Aeshoon (most of the original group) are traveling into Cormanthor to Enialani Deshu, the grand city that was rebuilt over fallen Myth Drannor. On the way in, they are met by elven sentinels clad in glassteel armor and weilding exotic blades and masterfully crafted bows. These elves bid them well on their travels, and sometimes accompany the party a short while before continuing their patrols.

Before reaching the gates, Telamon gets a Sending explaining that his city-state (Luthcheq) is in danger of civil unrest and possibly invasion if he does not return and exert control. He asks for Ajax and the rest of his followers to accompany him, except for Aeshoon, whom he asks to help recruit others to take up the quest, vowing that he will return if given the opportunity. Jack says that he will travel east with Telamon, but admits that his destination is the Great Dale, where he hopes to get the relationship with his daughter on track. Hapheth offers to help Telamon, also saying that he will return to the quest if the opportunity later presents itself. The majority of the band depart, leaving behind the lich Thenadae's prophesied items that will help the heroes defeat the Eight Great Evils after Telamon and others put out calls to various agents to send worthy persons to Cormanthor.


The Group Forms and Starts Out
Melody and Aeshoon wait, first greeting a Chessentan woman by the name of Harlequin who teleports in that afternoon and is greeted by Telamon before he departs, as she is the daughter of an old friend, then almost a tenday later being joined by a Uthgardt calling himself Jörmun.

After greetings, the two new recruits are given the basics of what the items that make up Thenadae's Legacy do. More abilities are introduced to the characters once they lay claim and a short attunement ritual is completed. Jörmun chooses Hapheth's cape and Harlequin takes Jack's boots, leaving Aeshoon's silvered tanto blade, Telamon's helm, and Darden's belt, though the latter item is still with it's original claimant.

Aeshoon explains that Darden had a lead on where they needed to go next to face one of the evils, but had only left a note, and had taken off on his own to arrive there first, saying he would wait at Enailai Deshu for a short time before moving on, and that if he had already gone, they should meet with the Tradesmaster of the Elven Court, and that he would be able to provide them more information.

The four go to meet the Tradesmaster, who in his graciousness does not turn them away when they enter his chambers armed and armored, despite the proper company in attendance. Tradesmaster Ivellios Vyshaan introduces the group to his wife, Siloqui, an air genasi named Ithagan, who is introduced as "Captain of Her Majesty's Spell Archers", an earth genasi named Fraught, who is introduced as the Vyshaan's head of security, and the High Mage of Cormanthor, Eraevan Teshurr, and his companion, Maresa.

The Tradesmaster goes on to explain that he had met with Darden two tendays ago, and that the dark elf indicated that he would be going to a location in the Dagger Hills, just on the edge of Daggerdale, to enter a chamber leading to the drow outpost of what used to be known as Szith Morcane and on to Maerimydra. Ivellios goes on to explain that he doesn't know what could be in those locations now, but that he was part of an adventuring band, that included Ithagan and Fraught, that cleansed that place of the drow menace more than twenty years ago, though as he understands it, some rogue bands of drow and fey'ri were destroyed in the area during the Reclamation Wars.

Ivellios then pulls out a map of the region and shows the group where Darden was to enter the Underdark, and bids them luck on their travel, offering fresh mounts for the journey, should they so choose. The group declines when Melody suggests she can get them there faster, and they decide to leave that afternoon, with Aeshoon staying behind to greet any others who may show up to take on the quest and guide them on their way.

Jörmun is reluctant to climb aboard at first when Melody shifts into the form of a giant bat, but reasons that flying is basically the only mode of travel he hasn't used before, and climbs onto the wildshaper. Harlequin is quick to mount the bat, finding it no more unusual that someone can turn into a bat than some of the arcane tricks she has already seen in her travels, and thus with a few spells cast for even more expedience in their trip, they take to the sky.

Five hours into their flight, however, several figures can be seen rising into the air in pursuit...


Cast of Characters
Harlequin Jacinta, Human Jester 13 - Angela
Jörmun Gand, Barbarian 11/Frenzied Berserker 2 - Taylor
Melody Proust, Half-Drow Druid 5/Mistress of Many Forms 8 of Shiallia - Paul
Aeshoon, Illumian Fighter 4/Cleric 9 of Oghma - Chris' cohort (retired)
Ajax, Human Fighter 12 - Ritchie (retired)
Darden (Zszfrynvyll Noqurden), Drow Ranger 7 of Silvanus/Fighter 2/Tempest 1 - Ritchie (retired)
Hapheth Hesaad, Greensnake Shinomen Naga Abjurer 9/Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil 2 - Eric (retired)
Jack Grimes, Human Scout 7/Thief-Acrobat 4/Artificer 3 - Zack (retired)
Telamon, Karsite Human Human Paragon 3/Fighter 4/ Knight 5 - Chris (retired)



So, with one session under my belt on this campaign, I thought things went well. There were a lot of tangents, but it's not always easy to get into the thrust of a game when you're down half the group. I caught myself stalling a couple of times during the game, partially because I didn't want to get into combat, though I ended with a random encounter about to happen.

I'm not sure if this new group of players (new to this campaign) will take well to the Legacy Item rules. There seemed to be some dislike of the costs, but maybe it will grow on them once they can customize them to their own liking with further ritual unlocks.

All in all, I'm excited for the next session, and I've already done quite a bit of prep!

7.30.2016

Miniatures, part 5 - D&D Miniatures, Group 3

Getting into what is technically the more "modern" of the D&D Miniatures sets, you'll see slight purchasing effort here and there, but nothing really compared to some of the older sets. Space and money were both at a premium when these sets were being released, and I had lost some of the interests in having yet another drow mini, or whatever. This becomes more apparent during the 4th Edition runs late in the line.

All lists are grouped in set and number I own from that set, numbered as they are within that set, and with the quantity of each beside the individual mini names in parenthesis.


War Drums (28/60)
1 Arcane Ballista
2 Arcanix Guard
4 Axe Soldier
5 Combat Medic
8 Sacred Watcher
12 Warforged Captain
13 Warforged Scout (2)
18 Halfling Slinger (8)
19 Hunting Cougar (2)
20 Lion of Talisid
21 Mephling
24 Warforged Barbarian
26 Wood Elf Ranger (3)
30 Goblin Blackblade (5)
31 Goblin Underboss (4)
33 Inspired Lieutenant (2)
35 Khumat
36 Large Duergar
39 Skeletal Legionnaire (6)
40 Snig, Worg Rider
41 Terror Wight (7)
46 Derro (3)
49 Hill Giant Barbarian
51 Horde Zombie (2)
55 Orc Mauler
57 Quaggoth Slave
58 Tiefling Blademaster
59 Troglodyte Thug (2)

War of the Dragon Queen (16/60)
1 Aasimar Fighter
3 Cleric of Syreth
5 Golden Protector
8 Tordek, Dwarf Champion
16 Storm Archer
20 Huge Fire Elemental
28 Diseased Dire Rat
33 Dread Warrior
41 Witchknife
43 Cleric of Laogzed
44 Cloudreaver (2)
51 Ogre Skirmisher
53 Small Black Dragon
54 Small Fire Elemental
57 Tundra Scout
58 Twig Blight

Unhallowed (1/60)
14 Changeling Rogue

Night Below (10/60)
3 Champion of Dol Dorn
4 Deep Legionnaire
13 Greyhawk City Militia
23 Warpriest of Vandria
24 Wild Mage
33 Hobgoblin Marshal
35 Kobold Trapmaker
41 Skeletal Courser
51 Drow Enforcer
53 Gnoll Claw Fighter

Desert of Desolation (17/60)
2 Animated Statue (2)
7 Militia Archer
11 Farmer
12 Merchant Guard
14 Black Woods Dryad
15 Cliffwalk Archer
23 Capricious Copper Dragon
24 Tiefling Cleric
25 Tiefling Rogue
27 Blood of Vol Fanatic
28 Guardian Mummy
33 Sahuagin
41 Demonweb Swarm
42 Flame Snake
43 Naga
46 Drow Blademaster (2)
55 Shrieking Harpy


I think I'll just have one more post of D&D Miniatures left, but it will be kinda large, as I just want to finish this out.

Miniatures, part 4 - D&D Miniatures, Group 2

Here, we've gotten to the second grouping of D&D Miniatures. As mentioned previously, most of my collection ranges to the older sets, so are about a decade old.

I started picking up Underdark boosters because I was involved with several games at the time and everyone wanted to use miniatures and I wanted to bolster what I had so we could get closer representations of what we were playing or encountering. I should probably just push ahead and buy the singles to finish out the set, since I'm so close. Maybe I'll track down some cheapish boosters.

All lists are grouped by set and number I own from that set, ordered as they are within that set, and with the quantity of each beside the individual mini names in parenthesis.

Giants of Legend (6/72)
19 Lidda, Adventurer
22 Xeph Soulknife
23 City Guard
32 Hobgoblin Sergeant
43 Displacer Serpent
44 Drider Sorcerer

Aberrations (2/60)
19 Longtooth Barbarian
43 Silent Wolf Goblin

Deathknell (7/60)
3 Dwarf Artificer
4 Dwarf Caver
8 Skullclan Hunter
11 Warforged Wizard
14 Catfolk Wilder
36 Grim Necromancer
50 Deathlock

Angelfire (3/60)
12 Village Priest
18 Elf Swashbuckler
53 Feral Minotaur

Underdark (54/60)
1 Battle Plate Marshal
2 Dwarf Ancestor
3 Earth Shugenja (4)
4 Githzerai Monk
5 Gold Dwarf Soldier (7)
6 Half-Orc Paladin (4)
7 Lantern Bearer (4)
8 Loyal Earth Elemental (6)
9 Marut (2)
10 Medium Silver Dragon (2)
11 Royal Guard (10)
12 Slayer of Domiel
14 Dromite Wilder
15 Elf Stalker
16 Elminster of Shadowdale
17 Guenhwyvar (3)
18 Half-Ogre Barbarian (3)
19 Halfling Sneak (11)
20 Nentyar Hunter (4)
21 Rikka, Angelic Avenger (2)
22 Satyr (2)
23 Spirit Folk Fighter (10)
24 Wizard Tactician (5)
25 Iron Golem
26 Justicator (3)
27 Mercenary Sergeant (5)
28 Xorn (4)
29 Monitor Lizard (8)
30 Ankheg (4)
31 Xen’drik Champion
32 Artemis Entreri (2)
34 Dolgaunt Monk (8)
35 Duergar Champion (3)
36 Half-Orc Executioner (7)
37 Helmed Horror (4)
38 Kobold Miner (11)
39 Skeletal Equiceph (3)
40 Troglodyte Captain (2)
42 Dark Creeper (9)
43 Death Slaad (2)
44 Dire Bat (2)
47 Drow Arcane Guard (3)
49 Grimlock Barbarian (2)
50 Half-Fiend Ogre
51 Hunched Giant
52 Large Deep Dragon
53 Lolth’s Sting (13)
54 Mounted Drow Patrol (2)
55 Orc Skeleton (6)
56 Roper
57 Spider of Lolth (13)
58 Swarm of Spiders (3)
59 Troglodyte Barbarian (10)

60 Winter Wolf


With this second grouping, I'd say we're a little past halfway through the D&D Miniatures line that I own. Perhaps just one more post, then I'll move into the Pathfinder Battles line.

Adventuring in the Shadow of the Demon Lord, part 2

As I had mentioned in the next to last post, our group was short on numbers that weekend and we decided to try out Taylor's latest purchase, Shadow of the Demon Lord. We had already finished one adventure the hard way (by dying), and since David had shown up and we'd only burned through two hours of the night, the group set off on character creation, except for Angela, who asked if she could play her Clockwork again. I said yes, saying this could, theoretically, be hundreds of years after Taylor's adventure was set, since we weren't really using the setting stuff on these trial runs.

Warning: The body of this post contains spoilers to the Shadow of the Demon Lord module A Year Without Rain!

Not having anything prepared and not wanting to wing something while learning a system, I decided to go on Shwalb Entertainment's site and purchase one of their modules. After looking at the starting level tiers for each, I decided on A Year Without Rain, which noted that it was for Starting/Novice characters. This seemed like a good place as any to start, and help me get a feel for how the company constructs scenarios.

I asked everyone to give me how long they had been in Asylum, the village where the adventure starts in, asked them to give a quick description of where they would like to start out in the town, discussed some interesting characterization points for the characters, and off we went.

It all starts just as the sun begins to rise, when an older couple out for a walk come across a body face-down in the road. For such a small town, any event draws attention and many people crowd around, mumbling this and that, guessing who the body could belong to, even placing wagers on identity and cause of death. Samyra, the town's mayor by default, shows up and begins to organize the scene, turning the body and discovering it belongs to a cowherd that lives just outside of town. Known to be a mean drunk, he was easy to ignore and never caused much harm, so it is surprising to find him dead, especially when, upon closer inspection, he seems to have had all the moisture removed from his body.

Samyra asks for volunteers to go out to Braidon's shack and see if anything is amiss. The PCs eventually get assigned when nobody really steps forward, by virtue of standing closest to the body when Samyra looks up. They leave immediately, and come to the cabin a short time later to see it covered, inside and out, with chalk drawings depicting terrain not local to these parts and a beautiful woman with flowing hair. Paul's Changeling realizes just now that he has a locket with a picture of this same woman, and wonders if maybe this is why he was drawn to this new town. Nothing is out of the ordinary, other than the drawings, so they head back and report what they know, then retire to their own devices.

On the following day, a second body is found. This of the seamstress Glyssandra, apparently dead in the same circumstances as Braidon. The group goes back to their duties as a posse looking into these incidences and find that Malery was the one to find the body, so they talk to her. She's very stand-offish until someone asks what kind of contact the two women had previously. When Malery admits the seamstress was doing a job for her, the group turned the heat on and pressured her enough that she admits to hearing a laughing voice and seeing the figure of a woman descending into the well at night.

The posse immediately ask for a few things from Samyra to descend into the well and make their way, finding a small passage off to the side of the shaft which leads to old doors with the seal broken. Undeterred, the four of them head in and work their way through a small maze of passages, killing some large spiders, a magical construct made of living sigils, and a few dastardly traps before finally hearing the giggling they had been told of before and seeing a shadowy figure charge toward them. The posse fly into battle with the bound demon, but in the end, though they fought bravely, they were no match for the minion of evil known as The Laugher in the Well.


Thoughts on A Year Without Rain
Though we all enjoyed the module, I must offer a word to those who wish to use A Year Without Rain as a beginning module: This thing can be HARD. The lead up takes a bit of tying everything together, and unless your group really is on top of their game and asking the right questions, they could falter in the early stages and a string of deaths could begin piling up bodies.

One crucial piece of advice I have for anyone wanting to run this module is also to consider letting their players hit Level 1 when they can get the Malery reveal. You might not feel it fits the pacing of Shadow of the Demon Lord to level mid-adventure, but The Laugher is no joke, and she can easily chew up a group, even if you have someone dedicated to using the Distraction mechanic the whole fight and everyone else swinging away at her (like my group.)



Now, I'd read good things about this game, but never expected it be as good as all the hype I'd seen for it expressed. Combat was simple, fun, and only slow because of poor rolls throughout the session. Overall, we were all impressed with the simplicity and flavor offered by Shadow of the Demon Lord, and have since played a campaign that's now on a short hiatus. I've even been working on a Dark Sun hack for it, but that's for later.

Master of the Fallen Fortress - A Friday Night One-Shot

This post has been sitting in my drafts for quite some time, so I decided to clean it up a little and put it out, since it was mostly done, anyway.

On some past Friday, I was set to run my ongoing Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder game (yes, the same one I had been posting about in the past), but various circumstances conspired against enough of the group showing up for us to be comfortable enough with running it, since the adventure EL was currently ~14.

Taylor, Angela, and I decided to play something, anyway, and Taylor downloaded the Free RPG Day module, Master of the Fallen Fortress. Angela made a Human Fighter and I cobbled together a Dwarf Ranger, both 1st level, and we started the adventure in media res, with our characters outside the ruined siege tower.

We made our way toward the tower, but are set upon by a small pack of three wild dogs, but we quickly dispatched them and made our way inside via a hole in the wall, only for myself to be covered in webs and then power my way out. The giant spider that provided the web then pressed the attack and charged Mira as she made her way through the opening, whereupon the warrior made good use of her earthbreaker to end the creature's life. In an adjacent area, we found the remains of someone's pet dog, that we took the bejeweled collar off of and headed up to the second level of the tower, climbing in from the outside.

There, we encounter a friendly little lizard that almost immediately tries to electrocute us, which eventually draws the attention of two pungent lizard-like beings, that attempt to put an end to our quest to find a little treasure and glory. The fight goes poorly for us, and we're forced to
leave for civilization to rest up, heal our wounds, and plan for another assault on the ruined tower. Almost a week later, we trudge back to the place and after giving the ground floor a cursory once-over, we head back up to the second level.

Shortly after ascending, we come across more (or the same?) of the nasty reptile people, but make relatively short work of the situation, then blunder right into the path of a mechanism that hurls javelins. I'm a little fuzzy as to our course here, but I believe we crawled up to the next level onto a ledge, but could see no egress, so we went back and backtracked to a central spiral stair we had seen before and came out in a large chapel area, obviously dedicated to Nethys, the god of magic. This place was guarded by two skeletons lit afire with eldritch power, but we were (barely) able to defeat one of the things, if memory serves, before we were made to turn back and again spend time at our homes, recuperating.

Our third foray into the tower met us with more opposition from the lizardy beast-men, but we managed to press through by the skin of our teeth and met with a human by the name of Balenar Forsend, who claimed to be a member of the Pathfinder Society. Though we (I, anyway) distrusted him, he healed some of our wounds and pledged to help us complete our task in the moldering keep, simply for the experience of it!

We returned Balenar's things - that we had liberated from the Troglodytes (as the Pathfinder called them) - and waited while he composed himself before venturing further up...this time to come face to face with one of these Troglodytes that could command magic! The thing also had a large pet lizard, the color of fresh snow, with a long snout filled with teeth! Battle was commenced, and after a long fight, we prevailed against the vile master of this ruin, despite his calling of a swarm of vermin and his brutish unnatural companion.

We took our spoils, dividing them as we saw fit and bade Balenar well on his travels, retiring to home and speaking of never doing a fool thing such as "adventuring" again.


Cast of Characters
Mira Silvano, Female Human Fighter 2 (Angela)
Whurvark Moonoath, Male Dwarf Ranger 2 (Buddy)

4.22.2016

Adventuring in the Shadow of the Demon Lord, part 1

This past Friday, we were down a couple of players, so we had decided that Paul would run his game. He then thought he might be late getting to the session, so asked Taylor to bring something. That something was his new book, Shadow of the Demon Lord, and we set to make characters.

We delved into the quick but immersive character creation and had everything done within probably fifteen minutes, with Taylor walking three of us through the process. Other than your race, rolls determine everything about your character, but none of us felt like we ended up with a bad character in the end. The gear and traits provided by these rolls really set up who you are when circumstances or decision forces you to adventure/survive in the world, and we were able to pick up on the cues we were given and roleplay fun characters. The feel of the characters is definitely reminiscent of Warhammer Fantasy, which was a nice change of pace from our usual Golarion-based characters in the Pathfinder games. In the end, we ended up with a Goblin, a Dwarf, and a small Clockwork that could fly, each with their own quirks and professions.

Taylor had actually written a homebrew scenario for our trail run of the game, setting us accompanying a caravan to a distant city. The caravan was attacked at about the midway point and the three PCs were taken by the assailants and placed in a cell in a stone building. My Goblin (whose name was Poop - a name suggested in the race section, I might add) and Paul's Dwarf (I don't remember the names of his or Angela's characters, sorry) were able to rattle the rusted bars of the cell loose and make good our escape with our clockwork friend. A guard heard us and burst through the door, brandishing a sickle.

We took down this guard (a Cultist from the book) and made it further in, toward what we expected was the way out. Upon climbing up a ladder to a trapdoor, we encountered more Cultists and explored some other doors leading off from this area. One was filled with the viscera of several bodies that had been flayed, dissected, or otherwise experimented on. The opposite door had mold and slime and my goblin trekked in to look for anything useful, turning up a goblet and some delicious soggy apples!

I can't recall if this was on the same level, but we also found a room wherein the caravan master we had been traveling with was strung up with chains that were stretching his shoulders and hips as far as they could go. The mechanism was set up with pulleys and the weight was balanced on a narrow metal bar. Angela's Clockwork flew in and inspected the mechanism and reported how it worked to the Dwarf and Goblin, at which point the Dwarf moved in, triggering a tripwire and unbalancing the weight and pulling the poor human apart before our eyes. The Dwarf gained a point of insanity for the realization that he was the reason behind the man's death.

Upon climbing up further, we entered a chamber with a Cultist that was performing a ritual. We tried to speak to her, but she did nothing but berate us and scream for our heads, then soundly thumped us once the Dwarf was targeted by a powerful spell and my Goblin suffered a spell crit sending me to 0 maximum health.

Thus ended the careers of those adventurers, but we had only spent two hours in character creation and playing the adventure to the point where we wiped. David had shown up by then, and we decided to play out a second adventure, which I volunteered to run to familiarize myself with the system.

That's for the next post, though!

4.15.2016

Rise of the Runelords, Fall of the Lords of Fort Rannick

And so, after 51 sessions carried out over the course of 3 years (not including the year and change hiatus), my Rise of the Runelords campaign came to an end.

I hadn't posted about it since the group fell to Xanesha, here, but in the sessions since the game came back, a lot of things happened. Many of the original characters returned (except for Hyrum and Natasha, and we never saw Elspeth again) because Vic was able to shake Xanesha's charm and dump the bodies of his comrades at the Abadaran church. Some more people joined our group for good, and some came and went, and with them, their characters.

Along the way, our heroes fought against the hideously mutated Kreegs and burned their compound to near uselessness, they liberated Fort Rannick from the merciless ogres that had taken it over, and were granted titles and the land surrounding the fort for their efforts.

The Lords of Rannick then left their lands in the hands of their trusted stewards to venture to their hometown of Sandpoint, where they were able to thwart a raid by stone giants, and then chased the giants to the place from which they had planned to launch an invasion of the lowlands. Our heroes took the fight to the leaders of this faction of giants and destroyed them, but confirmed what they had suspected for some time: there was a greater threat behind the giants; a tyrant of old who sought his return to the physical world and the reclamation of his old kingdom. This was Karzoug, the Runelord of Shalast, perhaps one of the most powerful wizards to have ever lived!

Being called and returning to Sandpoint after a short respite at home, our band descended into a portion of the ancient ruins under the town that had been blocked til this point. There, they uncovered a written passage hinting at a font of arcane knowledge belonging to the Runelords, hidden in the mountains to the north, and they made their preparations from Sandpoint and headed to the spot they would uncover this Runeforge. There, however, they were beaten back by the ancient white, Arkrhyst, who made its lair in the cavern that housed the entrance to Runeforge. After traveling back to safety and recuperating, they made a second attempt at the dragon, this time summoning help, and were able to slay the beast.

Then they made entry into Runeforge. Though they were able to identify the passages matching the various entries associated with each Runelord's realm of power, they decided to work clockwise and systematically explore the arcane secrets therein. Their first challenge came in the form of a trap cleverly designed to trigger multiple Mirrors of Opposition. After defeating their clones, the group pressed in further and were felled by the six simulacrum copies of the wizard Vraxeris, and their devastating spell onslaught.

Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Chelaxian Human Cleric 12 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul (deceased)
Rissi Scuttle, Ratfolk Alchemist 12 - Angela (deceased)
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter 12 (Mobile Fighter) - David (deceased)
Indigo, Chelaxian Human Paladin 5/Holy Vindicator 8 - Taylor (deceased)
Thrask, Orc Barbarian 11 (Invulnerable Rager) - Jon
Trink Peacepath, Vanara Monk 10 (Qinggong)  - Sam (deceased)

With only one PC technically surviving, due to the player's absence, I called the game.

This was a tough campaign, and one that seemed to really ratchet up in difficulty when the campaign enters the 5th book of the series. There was some discussion about deaths and the larger number of characters contributing to less gold share and thus, being slightly behind the curve, when it came to power level. I do agree to those points, but I also saw certain things like item hoarding to be just as detrimental. The difficulty of the adventure as written had also taken a turn that, at least in my opinion, is hard to prepare for when things had been at a certain level before.

Overall, I don't have any major complaints, and other than Taylor thinking the path perhaps too bland (which is very legitimate, as Rise of the Runelords doesn't - nor was it intended to - bring anything new to the table), I don't feel that the players do...or at least they haven't been voiced.

If anyone who happens to read this was considering running Rise, I would say go for it. Since it's a published campaign, you'll have to fill in quite a few of the gaps in the story, but I felt like I was given the tools to do that with the material as presented. The Paizo forums are also full of great ideas for enhancing the campaign.

This was a very fulfilling campaign, and I'm sure we'll be telling stories from it for a long while.

1.24.2016

I'm Not Dead Yet! (Again...)

I'm back, and will be posting relevant stuff soon, but the reason I've not been is because there's been some home issues and the PC I post on had multiple issues that I've still not worked through. Most of all, though, work got crazy and I just didn't feel like posting much before the PC went down.

So, there's all that. Hopefully, I'll be back to talk about games soon! There's been some exciting ones in the past year!