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Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Stream of Many Eyes: Day 3



Last night, the day 2 stream ended with the announcement of a second book! We start off day 3 with a discussion of this product.

Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Things that are discussed:
  • It comes out on November 11th.
  • It is a continuation of Dragon Heist. It goes from levels 6-20. It is a deep dive into Undermountain, which sits under Waterdeep.
  • Every floor is a different setting.
  • Halaster Blackcloak is a crazy wizard that has put some really weird things in the dungeon.
  • Every level of the dungeon has a map. Every level of the dungeon is a character in and of itself. Halaster will be watching the entire time. Statues and portraits of Halaster interact with the group. Is he imprisoned in Undermountain? What is he up to?
  • There are portals in each level of the dungeon that pulls creatures from other realms and planes. These creatures try to claim part of the dungeons as their own.
  • Weird experiments by Halaster and his apprentices are scattered about.
  • They left space for the DM to add rooms and areas. 
  • Chris says that there is a lot of fun stuff at the lower levels that are "worth the wait."
Adventure Impractical


Mark Hulmes is the DM.

(Matthew Lillard) Bobo Silvertongue Human Bard
(Taliesin Jaffe) Archie Tiefling Sorcerer

(Sam Riegel) Obby the Rat Dwarf

(Ashley Johnson) Rabbit Yuan-ti Monk
(Clint McElroy)  Merle Highchurch Dwarf Cleric

Archie Vanderflute opens a book, which summons a hooded figure. A secret auction will be taking place and the Magpie's Court. One item up for auction is Dagult Neverember's journals. The group must find the court and obtain the ledgers by any means possible.

We jump right into it with the group chasing a half-orc in a tuxedo. Obby shoots at him and rolls a natural 20. Bobo tries to chase him down but crashes into some barrels. Merle drops and insect swarm and Rabbit sicks her snakes on him. The guy gives up.

Archie sweet talks the guy and asks where Magpie's Court is. It is in a dwarven bank called K'zaar Knox. The banks has only one entrance. The items are stored in the vault, which is a chamber with an 80-foot cylinder drop. If you touch the walls or floor, a magic alarm goes off.

He gives the group his invitation so they an get in. Now he wants to flee the city.

We skip ahead to the heist. Mark gives each player a flashback token. They can use it to declare something they did earlier in the day.

The group wears ridiculous elegant clothes and enters the vault, using the invitation to get in. The guy at the front is a snooty noble named Weigalious. The group calls him "Wiggle".

There are a number of notable NPCs. One is magically disguised. The group casts dispel magic on her. She's a succubus!

An assassin and many guards attack her. She tries to teleport away. Archie goes for a counterspell, and is successful thanks to an inspiring word from Bobo. The succubus looks around, confused. Six dwarven guards proceed to kill her. 

In the chaos, the group makes their way over to the vault. They check out the pressure plates on the wall and floor - if they're touched, a magic alarm will go off.

Archie wants to keep the chaos going, so he casts chromatic orb on the far side of the room.

They hear the auction going on - a talking skull with the spirit of a wizard trapped in it.

The group lowers Rabbit down. She uses an item to levitate the journals into the air. The journals are in a box. They put the box in a baby carriage and cover it with a blanket. There are breastfeeding shenanigans.

A dwarven guard spots the group on the way out and shouts. Merle kills him. Then he casts animate dead on the guard, who is pretty much split in half. Then he uses it to distract the guards who are coming. 

Jarlaxle approaches the group. He wants the ledger. He's got driders with him. Archie creates a minor illusion of the ledgers. He tosses it by a guardian golem. More golems come to life. Jarlaxe runs for the fake journal and the group escapes.

They hand over the ledgers to their boss and are rewarded with gold. Archie uses the money to open a bar - the Greasy Wheel. Obby the Rat wants to train four turtles in ninjitsu.

Rabbit has swanky parties and steals from people who show up. Merle wanders around trying to figure out what happens to his babies. He writes down the story of this adventure and runs into Tom Crooz, famous halfling actor. Pitches the idea and become filthy rich.

Great show! In my opinion, Mark Hulmes is THE best DM out there. He did so much in 90 minutes, the guy is really on the ball.

Dice, Camera, Action

 Episode 96 -Eyes on the Prize
Joining the group is a player from The Adventure Zone.

 The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Travis McElroy) Magnus Burnsides - Human Fighter/Rogue

The group enters the Yawning Portal. Durnin, owner of the tavern, lets Waffles in. Strix is allowed to go into the kitchen to cook a pie. There's a person playing a lute. Paultin asks for it, and plays a little ditty. It's good!

Diath sits down with the Zhentarim. Diath shakes hands with one guy who has a ring. Chris says to make a save. Jared gets nervous. Chris is kidding. He's in quite a mood today!

Evelyn is watching Paultin play, hearts are rising up out of her. Simon is missing. Paultin immediately stops and runs off to find him. Simon is safe, he made a friend.

A flying snake swoops into the tavern. It has a message from Renaer Neverember (son of Lord Dagult Neverember, former ruler of Waterdeep). His operatives are looking for the Stone of Golorr. It is believed that Dagult made the stone.

The pie is done. Strix brings it out.

The Zhentarim ask the heroes to go find Renaer. He's at an event called "ChairCon". Yes, a chair convention. People go there and sit. 

This is a high class kind of thing, so the group considers getting nice clothes. Nate wants a Strix makeover montage. Strix is not happy. What does she look like? The group lets Anna decide. Strix ends up with a big collar and a jaunty hat.

Paultin leaves Simon with the kids he made friends with. He gives Simon advice - Sleep dart. There better not be any dead children when he gets back.

Diath is leaving some weapons behind. Gutter asks him what he's doing. Paultin chucks Gutter and heads to ChairCon.

The heroes ride in a coach and are brought to a wealthy area of the city. Through the gate, they see nobles in fine attire. Women in hats. Gardens, tiny brooks along paths that have strategically-placed chairs. This Con is part outside! Men are letting women sit.

The guards don't seem to mind that Evelyn has weapons. Ut oh. Diath is relatively unarmed. Security seems nonexistent. They notice the guard at the front is a poseur. He doesn't look like a trained soldier.

Warrington is here. "Quite an experience, DingDong!"

Paultin approaches a man and asks him where Renaer Neverember is. The man swoons and leads the group to Renaer. Renaer is talking to Travis's character, Magnus. Magnus accidentally knows a chair over, and upsets Renaer. "That's on loan..."

Renaer is playing the piano. Paultin takes out the lute and accompanies him.

Magnus thinks he recognizes Diath. He asks Diath how old he is. Diath had taken a potion of youth long ago, so he's 21. 

Reanaer asks Strix who she is. She introduces herself and he kisses her hand. She recoils.

There are screams downstairs. The front doors slam shut. The group go running toward the danger. Strix offers to protect Renaer.

Downstairs, there's a noblewoman with a third eye. She's looking around and casts her glance u the stairs. Another noblewoman does the same. A door is smashed open. Bugbears and goblins run through. The women point at the group, and the goblinoids charge.

Evelyn and Magnus both have their flaming swords out. Magnus's sword has a scorpion tail on it.

A chair that Magnus made is down here. It is called the "Sitboy 5000". It reclines. Paultin sits in it. Chris wants a sit check. Critical! There's a bunch of buttons on the chair. He presses them all.

Diath asks Renaer if he knows what the Stone of Golorr is. Renaer doesn't want to answer. 

Holly casts animate object on the piano. It goes stomping toward the monster.

Evelyn cuts down a noblewoman. The middle eye on her forehead disappears. Then she kills the other one.

There are 20 goblinoids. Paultin unleashes a level 5 thunderwave that hits 12 of them. A chandelier explodes, raining crystal down on the whole area. He kills many of them. Paultin looks cool.. then he throws up.

Magnus tears through about 6 goblins, his sword does tons of damage. One goblin is left, he pees.

Evelyn is very impressed.

Diath uses his new magic dagger for the first time! Rolls a one. Jared is sad.

A new creature enters the fray. It's a dwarf who is missing a hand - a crossbow attached to the stump. He looks at Evelyn and tells her that the people of Waterdeep must suffer for their greed.

She tells him that "The Morninglord, in his infinite grace, loves even you."

He goes, "I've been wrong all these years." He does so. His name is Naska.

Strix is shocked that Evelyn keeps converting randos.

The animated piano flips over and falls on Magnus. Strix tries to polymorph some goblins into snowbirds.

Paultin gives Magnus bardic inspiration. He throws the piano. He crushes 3 goblinoids to death. The piano is ruined.

One bad guy is getting away. He's riding a zip line down to a coach. Strix gets on her broom. Magnus charges through the stained glass window.

Paultin dimension doors outside. It looks like the dungsweepers guild used their brooms to bar the doors.

The group catches up to the coach. That's where we stop!

Witch of Briarcleft


The DM is Deborah Ann Woll.

(Matt Mercer) Dolas - Hairless Tabaxi Rouge
(Marisha Ray) Gallenda the Lucky - Mountain Dwarf Cleric
(Tommy Walker) Veros - Human Fighter
(Julia Dennis) Human Bard
(Kate Welch) Kathra - Dragonborn Ranger

The witch lives in a ruined city. The heroes are free to keep any treasure.

Aurora goes for walks. When she was young, there was a forest fire. Both of her parents died in it. Now that she's older, she explores the forest. She went in a week ago and never returned.

There is one survivor named Bernard, who talks about a witch. He's "addled".

Aurora is 12 years old. Long blonde hair. Raised by the Brighttree sisters.

The adventurers go to talk to the survivor. He's talking gibberish. They ask him about Aurora. He says she's "up there". The dense thicket of the wood. They can tell he's too frightened to say anything more.

The heroes decide to let him freak out. They want to drag him into the woods and see where he freaks out the most.

Annabella asks if anyone has chloroform. She casts sleep. Deborah says that Veros will need to make checks every hour while carrying him to avoid exhaustion.

The group comes to a section of woods with little carving paths. The canopy is thick, and it is very dark. They travel for a bit and come upon a small rock sitting on top of a larger rock. Annabella thinks this could be a waymarker meant to point the way to the elven ruins. It also might be some kind of witch thing.

The group slowly realizes that they are going in circles. There's some kind of magic involved here. They try leaving things on rocks.. eyeshadow, lipstick...

The crazy guy, Bernard, wakes up and chuckles. He hands them a note that was in his pocket. It's basically the solution to the puzzle. Kate points out that the NPC has taken pity on them.

He helps them navigate the forest. They come to a clearing. There are a lot of vines or ropes dangling down from the foggy treetops. They hear a rumble from up in the canopy.

Kathra is pretty sure these ropes are traps. Disturbing them might cause things to fall on them. They realize that the little girl could probably slip between them easily.

Dolas, the hairless tabaxi, slips through in a super-sexy manner. The group ends up firing a crossbow to cause the trap to trigger safely. Boulders fall to the ground and make a lot of noise.

They continue on. They hear a waterfall up ahead. There's a large stone building covered in vines and a round tower, also covered in vines.

They enter the tower and come upon a circular room with a moon symbol in the floor. There are etchings on the wall. The tabaxi looks them over. they are symbols or runes of some kind.

The dwarf steps on it and takes damage.

They go back outside.. There's some steps behind the waterfall... They go down them... nothing...

The tabaxi dives into the water. The group joins her. They find a way behind the waterfall. There's a cave - inside are cages. In most cages are bones.

One prisoner is not moving. the other is awake. It's a young girl with blonde hair. It's Aurora. She's gaunt, she hasn't eaten in days.

Kasha gives her a carrot. She tells the heroes to hide, she'll be back any moment.

Suddenly, a huge shadow blocks the light through the waterfall. The heroes hide.

The head of a dragon comes through the waterfall. Her wings seem to be useless, burned and ragged. She drags one claw, limply. She walks over to a mound of gold and pulls it around her. It's a green dragon.

Dolas charges the dragon... critical hit! Then Matt rolls all one's on damage. Ouch. The bard hits the dragon with a shatter. Galinda runs over and frees Aurora from the cage. She rolls a 20 to do so.

Aurora says "we have to go right now"

Hmm.. the girl's the witch?

The dragon is telling the group they've done something terrible. The dragon lets them go.

The heroes bring Aurora back to the city. It's her 13th birthday! Matt goes.. "oh no."

That night, at midnight, the two sisters who raised her stand up. All three of them transform into a coven of hags, 12th level spellcasters ready to do the heroes in. End of session!

Deborah's awesome. They should get her to do more!

Jocks Machina


DM: Mike Mearls

(Joe Manganiello) Arkhan the Cruel - Red Dragonborn Oathbreaker Paladin lvl 18
(Travis Willingham) Grog Strongjaw - Goliath Barbarian lvl 16 Barb /2 Fighter
(Ron Matthews) Bieber MJ Timberlake - Aasimar Paladin lvl 18
(The Big Show) Oolok Jotun - Rogue Giant lvl 18

The heroes got sucked into the Shadowfell. There's a tower.

A man with his mouth stitched shut speaks in their minds. He is the Speaker in the Void. His job is to guard the boundary between the Shadowfell and the Shadowfell. A being fled a great battle and sundered this barrier. Something on the other side is coming.

Two of the heroes have been marked. A champion of light and champion of darkness.

The heroes assume that the bad guy here is Vecna.

The Spire of Hope's Defiance. It keeps those in the void at bay. The foe's passage disrupted the magic. They will come to claim the light of the Spire. He warns them that they will be tempted - things that they desire most.

The players describe their characters innermost desires.
  • Arkhan sees a doorway with armies of ancient dragons flying through it, burning green fields all to hell.
  • Bieber is riding his unicorn, full gallop on Moonwalker, giant smile on his face.
  • Oolok the giant has a tear in his eye.. he won't say.
  • Grog sees droves of naked women. They've got mugs of ale and they're fighting to give it to Grog.
The heroes agree that if they all survive, they do Grog's dream.

They check out the tower that they have to guard. There's just one archway and the light within it. The void/tear is about a mile away.

Grog is wielding the Sword of Kas. Wow.

Oolok casts stone shape and actually seals up the entrance. Arkhan casts bless on the heroes.

The group waits. Then they hear the roar of a red dragon,a  servant of Tiamat, forced to serve Vecna. Riding it is some kind of knight with a lance.

Bieber tells the rider to dismount and fight one on one.

Arkhan casts finger of death. The dragon rolls a natural 20 on its save! Arkhan rages.

The knight is a death knight. Lord Soth? Mike says no. Two more shadow dragons arrive (each ridden by a death knight), along with a skull lord. It tells the dragons to ignore the heroes and to take the light.

The high-level heroes proceed to do piles of damage to the undead.

Then.. all three dragons breathe on them! 112 points to Oolok. 168 to Bieber, but he has resistance, so he takes half. Grog made all three saves, so he takes 78 necrotic. Arkhan is not affected.

Grog casts enlarge on himself.

The adventurers eventually defeat the skull lord. Energy coalesces into an entity. The tethers in the souls of the bodies of the heroes are being tugged on.

The heroes tear into the entity. Oolok uses a stunning stomp.

It goes down! Great game!



Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Stream of Many Eyes: Day 2

OK, day two! A bunch of shows will all link to each other somehow.

Sirens of the Realms


I believe every character in the group is a bard. 

(Cynthia Marie) Girasol
(Krystina Arielle) Orisha
(Ladee Danger) Pearl
(Vivid Vivka) Ghost Half-elf/half-sprite
(Jason Charles Miller) Brig

The heroes are waiting in traffic. Half the payment up front. They tell each other what they've been doing.

They arrive at a manor - they have a gig.

There's a room for the group - their band is known as the Siren Sisters. Their instruments are there, along with water and healing potions. Brig quickly snatches up all 5 potions.

Ghost ends up with food all over her. Pearl casts prestidigitation on her. Ghost has the spell, but can never cast it. Pearl decides to help and pours a drink on her. Ghost struggles... she can't pronounce prestidigitation in real life, which is very amusing.. but eventually, she gets it!

A man approaches the group. He has a platter. His free hand is made of silver. Ghost snatches some wine flutes.

Someone important is here. The Open Lord of Waterdeep - Laeral Silverhand.

The NPC asks Ghost to steal a handkerchief from her. She sings an amusing little ditty and casts suggestion on Laeral. Laeral rolls a one! Handkerchief obtained.

The group looks around and notices some vents behind plants.

Ghost decides to try to fly up in a vent. She's never been able to fly using warding wind, but this time she rolls a 20! She goes in the vent.The group climbs up, too, and together they crawl deeper into the building.

There's a room with robed people wearing masks. One mask is of a blue snake. There's a plague doctor mask and a mirrored silver mask. They are talking about a dragon's hoard - treasure hidden in Waterdeep.

These individuals discuss their chosen agents:
  • Malakon Demodun. A scoundrel with extra-planar help. Not a noble, but has plenty of influence, especially with less well-to-do circles.
  • Tuko Pomoja a loyal and dedicated servant. An aasimar who traded his sword for the path of the fist.
  • Rosie Beestinger! is one.
  • A weaver of fates, elvish bard... Vlanya Umvarra.
The group whispers among each other and it snowballs into two of the group actually fall into the room. Brig quickly casts invisibility on himself. Ghost casts infestation, summoning black spiders.

A magic bean gets dropped, causing toadstools to sprout up from the ground.

In the middle of all this, the group hears their introduction. It's time for them to perform!

The players actually perform the song at the table.

Off the Table
This is a live roleplay session. Everyone is talking abut the Dragon's Hoard. The group is in the Yawning Portal, and their job is to find out more. These are the agents mentioned in the previous session....

 Ruty is playing an NPC - Durnan, the proprietor of the Yawning Portal. Durnan has this weird backstory where he's been alive for hundreds of years and is seemingly immortal.

The heroes order drinks. Durnan seems to know Rosie - most people seem to know Rosie.

Malakon approaches a tiefling. At the table with her is... Diath! Diath is at the table with a tiefling (who is not Strix) and they really don't want to be bothered.

Vlanya approaches some big dudes. It's Minsc! With his hamster, named Boo.

The group realizes that the barmaid (played by Liisa Lee) knows stuff. Rosie gets her to talk. The barmaid says someone stole something from Volo this morning. The thief was... covered in live fish?

Someone enters the tavern... Elminster! Played by Ed Greenwood! The monk tries to engage him but is rebuffed.

The group realizes the menu is coded - they figure out the coded word: Golor.

-- I've been having wifi issues and I missed two shows, unfortunately. From what I understand, there have been no further product announcements. Apparently they've been doing these live "escape room" scenarios between each show. --

Dark & Dicey


Nathan Sharp as Pluck the Kenku Swamp Druid
Anna Brisbin as Trixa Teardu the Lightfoot Halfling Barbarian
Hunter Hughes as Kovacs the Half-Elf Oathbreaker Paladin
Zach Callison as Werblund the Deep Gnome Ranger

Kaiji Tang as the Dungeon Master

The group has come to Waterdeep. They're being led by Topbutton. The sun has set, it's getting a bit dark. The city is on fire! There's smoke.. screams in the distance.

The group is really liking the chaos. They walk along traitor's way, which is usually packed with merchants. They come to Fizzlepot's Lordly Liquids. They see a huge dire boar parked out front.

Pluck tries to befriend it. The boar is intense, but nice.

There's a tortle named Philbert here who manages the place while Fizzlepot is away. The group tells the tortle they own it now and show him their documents. He wants to give the group some samples.

Suddenly, Mark Hulmes creeps onto the stage as his tiefling character. He gives Trixa a stone with eyes on it. He asks her to hold on to it for a time.


The artifact talks. It says it is an artifact of great power. It starts spouting weird factoids, like: you can't sneeze with your eyes open. The group names it Google McGuffin. Apparently its official name is the Stone of Golorr.

Mysterious individuals on horses are riding down the street toward the heroes. One of the riders calls out, "They have the stone! Kill them and retrieve it!"

The group flees on a small cart pulled by the big dire boar. They end up in a crowded street. The riders are gaining on them. Pluck and Topbutton lose control of the boar.. it crashes through some stalls.

Things get worse and worse. They crash through stained glass. Pluck casts darkness. The boar starts running in circles. Werblund casts fog cloud. The cart is weighed down, so the group starts chucking the crates in it - in the crates are bottles of fizzy water.

Trixa finds a sack full of gold. She doesn't want to throw it. They leave the area of darkness/fog.

The riders are closing in. The group tries ranged attacks but they keep missing.

2 riders jump on the roof of their cart. The heroes are able to dump them off.

They are barreling toward a section of Waterdeep called the City of the Dead. It's a massive cemetery.

Werblund quietly asks the stone if it can raise the dead in the graveyard... all of them. It says yes! It will take a few hours, though.

Pluck asks it: "Are we in trouble if we have you?" It says yes. Pluck throws it out of the wagon.

Werblund stops him.
 
The group argues a bit... Werblund insists that they keep it.

A black griffon soars down from the sky. The boar jumps up and rams/tramples the griffon and continues on. Werblund is losing it.. he starts cackling and yells out, "We're bringing home the bacon!"

The boar tells Pluck that's racist.

Trixa transforms into a demon. The boar stops. Trixa rushes at their pursuers and starts slicing into them. They try to run, but she tears them apart. She turns back to normal and has no memory of what just happened.

Archers open fire on the boar. The boar makes a sharp turn. The heroes make dex saves. Werblund loses his grip on the stone. It falls into a chest and the lid closes.

Their cart is starting to fall apart. The cart crashes... they're right by the Yawning Portal.. that's where we stop!


This page will be updated throughout the day.


Friday, June 1, 2018

The Stream of Many Eyes: Day 1


You can watch this stream on Twitch here.

Check out Nerdarchy's coverage of the Stream here.
Check out Merric Blackman's thoughts on the Stream here.

Lots of rumors running around about what the new story is! There's the whole #NoStoneUnturned story going on social media... one major clue is "Plane Shift". Waterdeep seems to be a major locale, and obviously there's one or more beholders involved.

We start off with Nathan Stewart and Anna Prosser Robinson. They are sitting in a set of the Yawning Portal. Hey! Liisa Lee is there.

Matt Mercer was a creative consultant on the new adventure.



In a little bit, four members of the D&D team will spill the beans on the new products:
  • Mike Mearls
  • Kate Welch
  • Chris Perkins
  • Jeremy Crawford
The Force Grey Cast:
  • Joe Mangiello
  • Ashley Johnson
  • Matthew Lillard
  • Deborah Ann Woll
  • Kate Welch
Tomorrow - Mash-up game. It will be a continuing narrative, the story continues from one group to the next.

Tomorrow, a new group will debut. Rivals of Waterdeep. It's a group from Chicago. This will be their first time playing together.

Sunday will have more games, including Jox Machina - bodybuilders playing D&D.
Players include:
  • Joe Managiello:  Arkhan still has the Hand of Vecna, apparently.
  • Travis Willingham
  • The BIG SHOW from the WWE. 
  • Mike Mearls is DMing. Holy crap.
We walk to another set, where we meet the Neverwinter MMO crew. The new module: Barovia! The tarokka deck is in the game. You have to find the cards and assemble the deck. Madame Eva will do readings for you.


Promotion for the Art & Arcana: History of the Art of D&D. Then we go into a room that has what looks like original paintings by Jeff Easley! The 1e DMG cover, Unearthed Arcana.. There's a dude in a hood. It's Sam Witwer! Murdy Gurdy!


There's a map of the Forgotten Realms drawn by Ed Greenwood when he was a kid!

This book will be out on October 23rd.

We talk with the Girls, Guts, Glory players for a moment, and then we jump over to meet the Roll20 people.

Spoilers are rolling out on other sites. I don't want to read them, but if you're interested, here's what is about to be announced for D&D!


We talk with a company that is making props for sale on the mass market - coins, maps, and more. The company is called Beadle and Grymm's. This box of stuff is $450!

Then we talk with Minsc, who discusses a new Neverwinter Nights game.

There will be a new dice set. This one includes two d20's and a lifetracker - it's a dial, similar to the tracker from Magic: The Gathering.

Then there's a band. We get a graphic: Up Next, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. So.. that's the new adventure! It's popping up all over the internet. I'm trying to avoid reading about
 it.

OK. Anna sits down with the D&D team.
  • Mike Mearls - Right now he's trying to figure out 5e psionics
  • Kate Welch - She's co-hosting the Spoiler Swag how once per month
  • Chris Perkins - the STORY ARCHITECT
  • Jeremy Crawford - The Editor-in-Chief
The new adventure: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.


It's going to be out in game stores on September 6th, everywhere else on September 18th.

What levels is it for? Chris Perkins says that will be revealed over the course of the weekend.

Chris says that this is different from the past adventures. This adventure takes the game back to civilization, in an environment that encourages a lot of roleplaying.

It's a toolbox - you get toys as a DM for an urban romp. It's meant to be like Ocean's Eleven - steal treasure and keep it out of the hands of villains so they can't use it for nefarious purposes.

There's no ticking clock - the DM can make it last as long as they want. Chris likes this one because it is not a world-shattering event. It is grounded. You can lose yourself in the city. Waterdeep is a character, it has a personality all its own.

The people of Waterdeep aren't phased by adventuring types. They are used to it. The city is welcoming. If your party is smart, you'll get on the city's good side. If you do bad things, the city will turn on you.

Seasons: Jeremy says that this is meant to be a re- playable adventure. The original Ravenloft adventure changed every time you played it. At the outset of this adventure, the DM picks the villain!

There are 4 villains. The choice of villain determines what season it takes place in.
You can complete an intro quest for a prominent NPC. If you succeed, you are given a "home base".

They built downtime into the adventure!

The Xanathar has a role in this story. The adventure uses some of the mechanics from Xanathar's Guide to Everything. If you start a tavern, you get a rival, that kind of thing.

They are using a lot of NPCs from old products. Laeral Silverhand is the ruler, and was an adventurer herself. Jarlaxle is in it - what's his interest in Waterdeep? Anyone who's read the Drizzt novels - he can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

In addition to downtime being incorporated, they also make use of the chase rules. They expand them to add urban components. There are going to be chases in the city.

There are new magic items in the book. The blackstaff itself is in the book. There are stats for some famous NPCs. Stats for the giant, animated statues.

Volo gives a "walking tour" in the book - the chapter is separated from the rest of the book.

This is not an adventure where you can fight through everything. You will be arrested!

They wanted this adventure to be one that you can play through in just a couple of months if that's what the group wants.

Mike looks forward to seeing what the DMs Guild does with it. To him, success means that the book inspires lots of cool DMs Guild products. Kate wants to see a Cheers-style game, which is the drama between people in a bar (who never leave the bar).

Chris says there were things they couldn't fit. One was a character that they wanted to put in, but couldn't fit. He is now the central focus of the other campaign that is going to run parallel to Dragon Heist (???).

Jeremy wants to see Waterdeep fan art - art of the city itself. What each group's tavern looks like.

There's a Lantanese submarine in this one.

Mike talks about a campaign he was in. The group was struggling against a noble family that nobody knew was evil.

Sidequests for factions - you can get special favors. There are long lists of all the major guilds in the city, how a character can be linked to them, and gain renown with them.

Waterdeep is big - random encounters feel organic.

The book rewards creative problem-solving.

Chris talks about the talent involved: Ed Greenwood, James Haeck, James Introcaso, Charlie Sanders, and Matt Mercer.

After Force Grey, Chris notes that the adventure actually starts with Volo approaching them and hiring them. The villains are very powerful, and nearly impossible to defeat in combat. The group will have many chances to try to kill the villain, but it is not recommended.

Force Grey


(Joe Mangiello) Torogar Steelfist
(Deborah Ann Woll) Jamilah
(Matthew Lillard) Beadle
(Ashley Johnson) Dagney
(Kate Welch) Rosie Beestinger

6 months have passed since Acererak was thwarted. The Open Lord resurrected who they could. The weeks passed in Waterdeep. Jamilah has had a hard time adapting to the environment.

Someone slips each of them a message in their hand. Green Mask Lodge, card's room, within the hour. It has the symbol of Blackstaff's tower.

The group assembles there. Torogar needs some baby oil - he's a bit ashy. Beadle, a dwarf, does a spectacular leap onto a stool.

The group is told by Vajra that someone named Adinus has arrived in town and wants business with the Order of Mages. She asks the group to go there in her stead, to serve as her proxies. She does not trust this man, and his ulterior motives must be uncovered.

Scour the location without raising suspicion and gain proof in his dealings. Reward: gold, influence, and access to the more dubious elements of Waterdeep.

The group isn't so sure if they're right for a stealth mission.

Ut oh... stream died. It's down for about 5 minutes.  Technical difficulties.... no sound.

The group sits down with the dude in question. Toro says he has no friends and that he's a wealthy landowner. Can you recommend a new realtor? Deception check: 10. The guy politely humors him.

Jamilah tries to tell the guy that she's from Cormyr, but clearly she grew up in the jungle of Chult.

Dagney wants to go to the bathroom (to snoop). Beadle loudly shouts that he has to go too.

They're drinking Lathander's Red, a very valuable wine.

A golem serves their food. Rosie is attracted to constructs. She starts criticizing the meal and Adinus politely accepts it. He asks Rosie what her background is. She says she's just a grandma with hundreds of grandkids. Adinus smiles and seems genuinely charmed. He says he hopes to have kids one day. Rosie says, "They're over rated".

Meanwhile, Dagney and Beadle are snooping around. Dagney really needs to her wash her hands. After some snooping, Beadle finds a chest. It's trapped.

Beadle gets the chest open and is hit with poison. He's still up. There's a secret compartment in it. There's a partially-written letter that has evidence of Adinus's illegal dealings. The other is a list of names and orders. They don't recognize the names.

Adinus has a "second", a woman named Mona, who does work for him. Adinus says she's done fine, and hopes she won't screw anything up.

Back at the table, Adinus wants to see the minotaur dance. Torogar gets up, Jamilah joins him. She manhandles the minotaur and dips him. She quietly asks Mona if she has any dresses - quietly inferring that she'd like to talk to her alone.

Beadle and Dagney return tot he table. Adinus is suspicious and asks them if everything is ok. They roll high and convince him everything is fine.

Adinus starts asking questions about Vajra. The group knows nothing about her. Rosie says Vajra has a huge boyfriend. His expression darkens. He's not happy. "Is that her type?"

Beadle starts laughing at him. Suddenly, Beadle is magically silenced. Adinus wants them to reprimand him. Jamilah tries to slap him in the face, he grabs her hand.

Beadle eventually is able to apologize. Dagney shows him some of her creations, as an artificer. He would like to visit her workshop soon... perhaps he can hire her for something.

Rosie and Jamilah meet with Mona in private. They tell Mona they need information on Adinus. She starts talking about a key that he has - the group should try to steal it. It's on him. The group wants the minotaur to seduce him.

Torogar is up for the challenge!! He pours each of them a drink and says, "I'll meet you under the table." They drink. Then Torogar wants an arm wrestling competition. Adinus casts a spell that makes him strong.

Torogar rolls a natural 20! Adinus starts screaming in pain. Then he headbutts him. In the chaos, Beadle snatches the key.

Adinus is angry and impressed. He tells Torogar to sit down, and pours him more drinks.

While that happens, other members of the group creep around and find a secret room. In the secret room is a statue of a minotaur. There's a magic mirror.

Toro tries to join them, but Adinus is insulted. He says he'll join him in the bathroom... Dagney tries to distract him, but he's not happy. Adinus wants to go find the others. He's insulted that they've left the table.

Snooping, Beadle finds books written in some weird language. The script is jagged and ancient. There are other books that have locks on them.

He finds a note that he can read: "Whispers are that the stone lies in the city, right under their noses. Ask around the balls and see what you can find. Saruun would be pleased with your progress." It is signed "O". Symbol of a bull's head with seven pillars behind it.

 Huh... the seven-pillared hall and the Mages of Saruun are from 4e's Thunderspire Labyrinth.

The minotaur statue drops Beadle. Adinus shows up and sees what has transpired and is not happy. Rosie turns and tries to stun him with stunning strike.

Jamilah rages.Adinus magically escapes.

After messing with the mirror for a bit, the group feels that they have what they needed. They return to Vadra. End of Session!

Fun show! Good group! Joe is a really fun guy,.

Dice, Camera, Action


Episode 95 - Specter of the Zhentarim
We get a D&D Beyond video discussing the new adventure. They talk a bit about how heroes won't be able to just kill people murder-hobo style. To me, that's tricky. That's a weird spot for a DM to be in - arresting the group. It's lead to a lot of issues in my campaigns in the past.

 The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Dani) Wandala - Half-Elf Sorcerer

The heroes have arrived in Waterdeep. Warrington Munt is polishing his medals. The giff tells the group, "Dingdong, Pippin, I need supplies!"

The group spots the enemy ship. Then they notice a familiar figure - It's Xandala! Dani Hartel joins us. Awesome! Strix turns into rats and follows her. Xandala approaches the Zhentarim on the enemy ship. Diath quietly moves into the crowd to monitor the situation.

Paultin rides on Warrington Munt's back and goes invisible. Evelyn rides on Waffles with Simon.

Strix hears them talking about some sort of war. Negotiations with the Xanathar were going well, but its paranoia is ruining the chances of the merger.

They start talking about the waffle crew, and how they need to be watched. The captain spots the group. Xandala's job is to figure out what the group is doing. She approaches Warrington and the heroes and asks them what they're doing. Warrington loudly declares that they're looking for guns.

The group doesn't completely recognize her. Warrington introduces the group as "Dingdong, Pippin", etc. Xandala claims to be "Wandala", twin sister of Xandala. No pseudodragon, either.

Diath makes an insight. 5. Anna and Holly both rolls natural 20's. They think she's being sincere.

Suddenly, 3 ogres rise up out of the water. They have gills on their necks. They have balls and chains around their ankles. Their gills flap a little. They look around, confused. Then a voice says, "kill them!"

Who said it? Standing on a crate near the ogres is a tiefling girl, 8 or 9 years old. She has a cleft palate and is wearing tattered clothing. She's accompanied by a baseball-sized beholder, that is slobbering.

Two invisible dwarves arrive, too, and swing at Wandala. She thinks they were sent by the Xanathar.

More goons show up! Thugs with tattoos of third eyes.

Another thing shows up.. a man with no face.. he's got tattoos that sort of draw a face on. He stabs at Diath.His name is odium, he has no eyes, ear or mouth.

Strix tries to polymorph the little girl, but she makes her save. Paultin tries a crown of madness on an ogre, but it mysteriously fails.

Wandala recognizes one of the assassins. His name is Odium.

Simon fires off a sleep dart and knocks out the little girl.

All 3 ogres start beating down Paultin. Warrington Munt says "On my way, Pippin!"

The little beholder fires a ray at Diath. Strength save: 22. It shoots another ray at him, but he makes his save again. Diath wants to kill it. He runs up and slices it in half!

Waffles is wounded pretty bad. Evelyn goes nuts and does a pile of damage to the assailant.

Xandala attacks Odium, who had become a seagull. Xandala hits him with a critical and he crashes on the pier.She follows up with a hold person spell, stopping Odium in his tracks. Wandala looks at the Zhentarim... should she kill this guy?

There's a fear spell on Warrington Munt. A duergar dispels it. Odium is turned back into a seagull, but he is still held.

They hear the city watch's whistles. They'll be here shortly. The heads of the bad guys begin exploding..?

A man walks up out of the water. He's wielding a blue crystal axe. It's called Azure Edge. Evelyn asks him if he wants to hang out. His name is Melune. She asks him to be on the crew's team instead. He says, "OK".

He walks over and kills Odium.Evelyn likes this dude. He smiles at her.

Strix notices the little girl is gone.

Two griffon riders are heading toward the heroes.

A half-orc woman sees Paultin hiding under some crates. She asks him if he's OK. She thinks Paultin needs medical aid. A dwarf comes over. She holds out a hand and tells him she'll protect him. Tattooed on her arm is a black winged snake, the symbol of the Zhentarim.

The dwarf comes over to heal Paultin. She has a holy symbol of a big coin (Waukeen, I think). She heals him for 26 points.

She gives him a card that says "Istrid Horn, Moneylender." It has an address on it. He gives it back.

The griffon riders show up. They're the guards of the city. Melune quietly asks Evelyn not to tell them he was with the bad guys. She agrees. He asks her if she's single. Paultin suddenly perks up and points Melune out to the guards, and they take him away.

The group learns that the Zhentarim were looking at merging with Xanathar's crew. They explain that the Xanathar is tyrannical, but generous to those who are loyal.

Wandala says she's a member of the Zhentarim who would like to go legit. She starts to say that the Xanathar is looking for some kind of stone... the other Zhentarim cut her off.

The group is unnerved to learn that the Xanathar is a beholder.

They agree to meet with the Zhentarim to talk about this Xanathar problem. They really want to go shopping, first.

Strix looted a magic dagger. Once attuned to it, he can make it go ghostly. While holding the dagger, he can cast misty step at will. Each time he does so, he gains 5 temporary hit points. He can use a bonus action to cause it to appear in his hand.

The group wants him to name it. Chris suggests "Misty". The group is not feeling it.

Davel Starsong and Yagra will send a coach for the group.

Wandala feels bad and gives them sutff... a potion of greater healing... gloves of thievery.

The group says goodbye to Wandala. As they head into the city, they see the shadow of a beholder. It speaks: "We're not done!"


Friday, May 25, 2018

Dark and Dicey: Episode 2



Follow Rina, the author of this recap, on twitter right here!

Cast

Nathan Sharp as Pluck the Kenku Swamp Druid
Cristina Vee as Anya the Yuan-Ti Pureblood Warlock
Anna Brisbin as Trixa Teardu the Lightfoot Halfling Barbarian
Hunter Hughes as Kovacs the Half-Elf Oathbreaker Paladin
Zach Callison as Werblund the Deep Gnome Ranger

Kaiji Tang as the Dungeon Master

Where we left off:

Kovacs and Trixa are outside, having caused enough of a distraction to grant the other three entrance to Lord Fizzlepot’s home. Trixa went around back to see if there was another way in.
Werblund, Anya, and Pluck are rummaging through the house. They found a great amount of treasure, but not the Guard Captain Bracelet they are trying to find. Werblund is invisible, the other two are not. On their way back downstairs, Pluck was discovered as he knocked over a precious vase.

This is where the session begins.

Fizzlepot is on his way home. He, however, is not so much riding the horse as he is passed out drunk on the horse. As such, he doesn’t notice when Kovacs marches up to the horse to throw him to the ground. The horse, however, does notice him, and takes off running towards the house.

Anya, Pluck, Werblund, and Trixa all hear the galloping horse come near the home and come to a screeching halt. The halt itself throws the rider. A flying Fizzlepot then crashed through the door, landing between the two guards.

Anya jumps from the stairwell to try to assassinate the drunken lord.

Trixa successfully opens up the cellar door with her crowbar. Kovacs goes to tie off the horse. It took two animal handling rolls, the second of which was a natural 20. He starts guiding the horse to the back and ties him off there after a quick conversation with Trixa.

Pluck attempts to dissuade Anya, but she wants to claim the house for her own and continues her attack. Werblund ignores them and continues searching for the bracelet. Roll for initiative! The guards went first, setting up a quick barricade. Pluck went second, bailing through the window.

Despite knowing the danger, Anya jumps through the doorway getting within range of the guards. They immediately attack her one misses and the other hits, where she takes 7 points of damage. She leaps over the table and hits Fizzlepot, dealing 7 damage. He is now screaming in agony.

Werblund attempts to investigate but too much is happening for him to concentrate on what he was doing.

Assuming Fizzlepot is wearing the bracelet, Kovacs and Trixa go inside. Trixa goes through a window landing near Werblund, who is still invisible.

Werblund tells her to not be an idiot, and Trixa takes a moment to confirm that it was Werblund, not the voice in her head. Since she wasn’t seen, she decides to take a look around for the bracelet. Unfortunately, she rolls a natural 1 on her investigation check. She steps on a nail. She then had to make an ominous Wisdom saving throw, which she rolled a 4 for.

The guards hit Anya for 5 damage. She tries to persuade the guards to not kill her and nearly succeeds, but that’s when Fizzlepot decides to speak up and yells at them to kill her because she stabbed him. They continue to be hostile to her, as Fizzlepot is their employer.

Pluck casts Healing Word, healing Anya for 5 hit points. The guards notice the healing and realize there’s a caster somewhere. Werblund ends up jumping into the combat, but hasn’t attacked yet. Kovacs enters the house, and notices that Fizzlepot does have a Guard Captain’s Bracelet on. He jumps into combat in an attempt to get into Fizzlepot.

Both Werblund and Kovacs are now in the initiative.

One guard notices Kovacs coming, tries to stab him, and fails. The other guard attempts to stab Anya and also fails.

Werblund attempts to take the bracelet away from Fizzlepot. He barely misses and accidentally brushes the captain’s hand. Werblund’s invisibility breaks and they share an awkward stare.

Kovacs attacks the nearest guard for 5 points of damage. Anya tries to attack Fizzlepot again, but misses. Fizzlepot then tries to cast some sort of spell on Anya, but a ring on his hand glows and a bunch of paperwork and a quill appear instead. Then, annoyed, he begins to fill out paperwork in the middle of combat. The arcana checks weren’t great, but were just enough to know that this Ring of Bureaucratic Wizardry would make Fizzlepot have to fill out what spell he is casting, for what purpose, and what he hopes to achieve with it.

It starts to get strangely cold. Lights in the chandelier start to snuff out. The only thing everyone sees is a small figure in the doorway holding a meat cleaver, it’s eyes milky white, the veins around which are turning black. The mouth begins to widen unnaturally, the teeth inside thousands of barblike needles.

Fizzlepot wants to surrender.

The guards are scared and wildly swinging their weapons, only one hits Kovacs, dealing 10 points of damage. Werblund successfully takes the bracelet from Fizzlepot and puts it on. Kovacs tries to push the small figure - Trixa - out of the room, but is instead lifted to a shadowy face which shakes its head and licks Kovacs’s face.

Anya attacks Fizzlepot again, dealing 7 damage. At this point, Fizzlepot is done with the paperwork which he throws into the air where it disappears. His rapier then starts to glow, as he had cast Magic Weapon on it.

Pluck uses Magic Stone on a nearby rock and throws it at the shadowy demon. He misses. Trixa is in a haze, dreaming. Everyone is now in initiative.

Kovacs is able to get out of the grasp of the demonic shadow just before being impaled by a shadowy blade.

The guards attempt to attack Werblund but miss completely. Werblund attacks one of the guards, dealing 7 points of damage. Kovacs tries to grapple the possessed Trixa once again. Possessed Trixa shoots a shadowy dart at Kovacs, dealing him 7 points of damage through the leg and embedding in the floor, negating his movement with Trixa’s enraged Sentinel feat. Anya casts Charm Person on Trixa, but nothing seems to happen.

Fizzlepot attempts to attack Werblund but misses. Pluck heals Kovacs for 7 points with Healing Word.

Trixa wakes up. She is back in control but doesn’t remember anything. She attempts to jump over the barricade but only succeeds in knocking it over. A guard hits Werblund for 10 points of damage. The other guard rolled a natural 20 to hit Anya.

Luckily for her, the guard rolled ones for damage, so she was only damaged by 2 points. Werblund kills one of the guards. Kovacs has a hole in his leg but no longer has a shadow through it. He goes to attack the other guard and deals 4 damage. Anya casts Eldritch Blast at the last guard, killing him as well.

Fizzlepot tries to surrender again.

The furniture and chandelier starts to shake. Pluck bolts.

Topbutton, Shady Jeff, and Walter on a carriage race towards the house. Topbutton, panicked, says that he smelled magic, and now the group had best begin running. Trixa tries to attack Fizzlepot, but Walter parries it, saying in his chipper way, that they should bring him back alive.

An adamantite golem is racing towards the house. Everyone is jumping onto the wagon. Before leaving, Kovacs borrows the bracelet from Werblund to cast Command on Fizzlepot. The word used is “Comply.” He does. Kovacs then gives the bracelet back to Werblund.

The golem tears through the house. Werblund’s natural 20 intelligence check tells us that the golems go to the location where magic happened, not the user of the magic.

They now interrogate Fizzlepot. Anya takes the Ring of Bureaucratic Wizardry from Fizzlepot, and Pluck is chewing on a gold piece. At Werblund’s non magical command, he empties his pockets.
Their contents were contain candy wrappers, an ounce of drugs, and a single gold piece. Pluck tried to take it all but was only able to take the candy wrappers. Anya took some of his blood and stored it in a vial (ew).

Fizzlepot is both very intimidated and very drunk. Outbursts occur, most of which are directed at Trixa, calling her a literal monster, and worries that she’ll freak out again. Her response is “Don’t make me freak out. My friends don’t freak me out.” 

They do get information out of him. He doesn’t know where another bracelet is, but he does know that other guard captains would have them. The king is still alive, but no one has seen him recently. He lives in the spire that is the center of the city. The only ones who visit him include diplomats and guard captains of high repute.

Back in Fairheim, Kaytri is waiting for them. They intimidate Fizzlepot to 90% fear.
Walter takes Fizzlepot to Kaytri. Werblund and Kovacs also go to Kaytri. Shady Jeff wants to go to the Pretty Cook for drinks, and takes Trixa, Anya and Pluck with him.

At the Pretty Cook, they talk investment. The cook offers to fix up his tavern and give a cut to proceeds to the group for 150 gold. He also offers to help improve Ironhoof’s smithy for another 500 gold. Shady Jeff offers to get some talent for circus acts, offering for 250 gold.

Trixa talks him down to 100, but the persuasion check  was 9 and the subsequential insight checks were also not high, so while the players themselves don’t trust him, the characters definitely do. When one of the kids that was a part of Anya’s cult asks for money to fix their house - the orphanage - Pluck gives them 200 gold from his personal stash to give to Kaytri to get it up and running again.

 Werblund and Kovacs attempt to sneak behind Kaytri and Fizzlepot. Fizzlepot is tied up with a long rope, the end of which Kaytri holds. Werblund succeeded on his stealth check, while Kovacs didn’t. Kaytri notices him and calls for him to join her. Werblund is keeping pace behind them, hidden. Kovacs shares his distrust of unseen powers and her being a cleric.

She calls attention to the paladin’s emblem of faith and claims to share faith with the same power, and proceeds to tells the tale of the Eagle and the Fox to Kovacs. After telling the story, she asks him what his definition of justice is, just as they come to a cliffside. At the bottom of the cliff looks to be soft sand.As she puts a wooden stake into the ground near the cliff, Kaytri says that she believes that justice is about balance. She ties her end of the rope to the stake and pushes Fizzlepot off the cliff. The soft sand is actually quicksand.

As Fizzlepot struggles and screams as he tries to climb out of the quicksand by the rope tied to him, Kaytri tells the things Fizzlepot has done in the past, and leaves Kovacs to decide whether to save the man or let him die in the quicksand.

Werblund, having seen and heard the whole exchange, goes to Kovacs. Werblund wants to off Fizzlepot. After a short discussion, Kovacs agrees. They slash the rope together.

They then make their way back to Fairheim.

The next Dark and Dicey game will be played at the Stream of Many Eyes!
#LeaveNoStoneUnturned.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dungeons & Dragons - Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes Review

You can buy Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes here.

I’m very interested in this one, because it deals with devils and gith, two of my favorite things in D&D.

I’ll be comparing the stuff I learned making my guides, especially my guide to devils. I think I can learn a lot from seeing the company's official take on something that I attempted to assemble.

This review is loaded with spoilers! Before I start, let me just talk about whether or not this book is worth getting, so you can bail out pre-spoilers if you like.

The Good

What's good about this book? The vast majority of it! The blood war details are fun. We get a rundown of the nine major archdevils. Each of them has a clearly defined role, something I think was sorely needed. They gave full details on Zariel, who has long been a mysterious entity in D&D lore despite ruling the most accessible layer of the Nine Hells.

The elf chapter is probably my favorite section of the whole book. They cooked up a heck of a lot of fun ideas that will actually help you flesh out your character, especially when it comes to trancing during a long rest.

The gith section is great, particularly the information on the ruler of the githzerai. They did a great job of making him as interesting as the lich queen who rules the githyanki.

There are tons and tons of monsters, and a lot of them are really cool. Many of them are planar monsters, but most can fit into your game even if your group sticks to the Material Plane. There are monsters from many old products and settings, a really nice variety.

The art continues to get better. There's a high level of quality across the board. In previous releases, there were some issues with images coming out too dark or being covered partly by graphics - that's been almost entirely fixed. I don't know if it's the type of paper they chose or what, but the art looks really clear and vibrant. They even had a couple of two-page spreads in here.

The Bad

If you're a player, I'm not sure how much you will want this thing. It's got a bunch of really cool races for you to use like gith, tiefling variants, and shadar kai, but after that, it depends on if you're interested in lore.

I think the elf section is phenomenal, and the githzerai section is great, too. The halfling section and the dwarf section weren't especially thrilling. I did like the discussion of gnomes using clockwork devices in their day-to-day lives.

The blood war section is good, but, for whatever reason, there's never all that much discussion about details of the blood war in D&D books. You'll get a broad overview, but for the most part you don't get a lot of nitty gritty stuff (aside from the 2e Hellbound boxed set, obviously!).

I don't think there's too many duds in this book. I didn't like the new take on the sorrowsworn, and I've never liked monsters like the steel predator, kruthiks, or the gray render, but those are few and far between.

As far as the art goes, my main complaint would be that they re-used some images from previous releases. Not a big deal, right? The problem is that they used old art for two-page spreads! Seriously! One piece of art is from Out of the Abyss, and the other is from Tomb of Annihilation. What is the deal with that?

We could have gotten a massive spread featuring Lolth and Corellon, or the city of Tu'Narath, or a massive Blood War scene! Why did they do this? Boggles the mind.

Overall: I think this is my favorite book so far. There's some little things here and there to quietly complain to yourself about, but really this is a great supplement. It's absolutely loaded with ideas and monsters!

Details

Alright, now let's go over some of the interesting stuff in this book in excruciating detail! Spoilers from here on out! I'm blowing the spoiler whistle right now.

The preface page alone is loaded with info.

Shemeshka says that Mordenkainen magically forced Bigby to write most of this book, and questions why Mordenkainen wants to preserve the balance between good and evil.

Then “Qort”, an apprentice of Mordenkainen’s, explains that he convinced Shemeshka to steal the book so that it could be seen by others. Qort says the book shows Mordenkainen’s initial thoughts on preserving the Balance.

The Blood War

I'm not a big fan of what the 5e bearded devil looks like, but that is a pretty cool picture.

We learn that almost all of the battles in the Blood War take place in the Abyss and the Nine Hells. I love this. In 2e, most Blood War battles happened in other planes, which felt kind of lame to me.

Fighting occurs all along the Styx, but mainly on Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. That's pretty cool. In older editions, there was a ton of focus on the Plain of 1,000 Portals in the Abyss, so it's nice to see the spotlight over on the devil side of things.

The demons invade Avernus because it is easily accessible from the Abyss

Lords of the Nine: I wrote a big old book on this topic so I am really keen on seeing what the 5e devils are actually like!!

Asmodeus: They added some stuff to his origin. In ancient times, the angels of law and good accused Asmodeus of terrible crimes. Thus came the Trial of asmodeus. The judge was Primus.

At one point in the trial, the angel Zariel started a brawl. Primus did not make an official judgment. He ordered Asmodeus to forever carry the ruby rod, which grants his underlings the right to enter into contracts with mortals but unleashes an inescapable punishment on any devil who breaches such a contract.

“His most recent recruit is Zariel, a former angel.” That’s different. In older books, Zariel had been in hell for thousands of years. She had been overthrown by the pit fiend, Bel, and thrown in prison.

There's also this note about Asmodeus: “His supposed daughter, Glasya, is thought by some to be a godlike entity of unknown origin.” Really? Huh.

Zariel: She had been an angel tasked with monitoring the blood war. She led a band of mortals in an attack on the devils, and was found unconscious under a pile of dead bodies. Asmodeus turned her into an archdevil. Later in the book, we get art of her. She's pretty cool-looking.

  • Tiamat: So, why is she confined to hell? The book posits a theory: She killed a mighty, forgotten giant god who cursed her with their dying breath. The curse brought an end to the war. If Tiamat returned to the world, the war between dragons and giants would renew.

Dispater: He's an arms dealer. He made an impenetrable suit of adamantine armor that foils spells and keeps him safe. He wants to solve every mystery of the cosmos. His imps scout material plane for secrets… does this put him in opposition with Vecna?

In this book, there are A LOT of creatures who are looking for secrets. It's a little weird.

Mammon: They came up with a strong, unique concept.. Lawful evil souls not bound to any devil are brought to Minaurous, where they are recorded and distributed.

It looks like in 5e, there are no "soul shells". When you appear in the Nine Hells, you appear as either a lemure or a nupperibo.

Fierna and Belial: Belial runs Hell’s judicial system and Fierna handles filling the soul quota.Fierna stole the secret of how to travel freely between the Nine Hells and the material plane from the archlich, Vecna. How did she do that? Through Kas?

Levistus: He's still frozen in a glacier! Geryon is there in Stygia, too. His devils fight Levistus’s devils. It is believed that Stygia was once a mortal world drawn into hell. Their inhabitants, facing annihilation, pledged their souls to Asmodeus to escape annihilation. “The archmage Tzunk has researched the topic extensively but has yet to find any evidence that truly confirms the account.”

Hey.. last I heard, Tzunk's severed head was sitting in the River Styx.

Glasya: Malbolge is the prison of the Nine Hells. There's a story about how she had been buying souls with counterfeit currency via a technicality, offending Mammon. Asmodeus punished her by making her an archdevil.

Baalzebul: Poor Baalzebul has been getting bullied by Asmodeus for many editions. Guess what? It's over now! Well, sort of. He's his old handsome self again, but if he speaks a single lie, he's going to be a big slug for one full year.

Mephistopheles: He harvests the souls of wizards and sages. Of all the archdevils, Mephistopheles has been the one with the least development. I really like the idea that he’s all about magic, and that he specializes in acquiring the souls of spellcasters, who he puts to work doing mundane research.

4e Tiefling

Tieflings: A quick note about tiefling art. You may or may not remember the outcry over the depiction of tieflings in 4th edition. In 2nd edition, they had weird little traits, like they didn’t cast a shadow, or they had black eyes. In 4e, they got thick horns, tan-pink skin, and huge, thick tails. 5e toned it down a bit, but the look remains.

2e tiefling
If you look around on the internet, people love making tiefling characters and they love drawing them - and almost nobody draws them the way they look on page 22 of this book. To me that means that they people don’t want tieflings to look the way they do, and their official appearance should be altered to reflect that. I mean… Strix doesn’t look like that, right?

Princes of the Abyss: When demons go to the Material Plane, the land becomes warped by their abyssal energy. If the land is sufficiently affected, a portal opens. If the abyssal infestation gains hold, the portal becomes permanent. Then… a demon lord can come through! It leads an army to strip the world of life and lays siege to it. If not stopped, the world becomes another layer of the Abyss.

I think that's a great idea! Entire worlds getting sucked into the Abyss.

Elves

This section is really great. We learn that when an elf goes into a trance, they can see visions of their life or even of their past life.

Elves have immortal souls.They die, go to Arvandor, and are reborn. As kids, they remember their past lives, revisiting moments in their trance, over and over

The Mysteries of Arvandor: When Corellon mentally calls out a number of chosen elves (up to 1,000) and brings them into his body. Those who return from this experience are ever transformed. They were able to assume a new form, shapeless, for a time and share a telepathic connection with the others.

I think that might be my favorite thing in the whole book? Why does Corellon do this? How strong is the telepathic connection?

Raven Queen: She takes on many forms, including a shadow that claws at innermost thoughts, a pale and regal elf, or "a shambling tangle of slick roots and sticks."

She was an elf queen. When Corellon and Lolth were in conflict, she tried to use the souls and magic of her people to become a deity. The followers who aided her became the shadar-kai. During the ritual, some of them tried to siphon power into themselves. It ruined the ritual and the Raven Queen was sucked into the Shadowfell. The traitors became nagpas.

Sometimes she will ask a soul to perform a task for her - acquire an item.. “...pawns in an inscrutable game, the rules of which are known to only her and the Lady of Pain.”

So... they changed the Raven Queen a bit. For me, this is an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" type of situation. People loved her the way she was. I don't really see the benefit of tying her to the elves like this. But, in the end, it doesn't matter all that much. They always leave space for you to run her how you like.

It's a bit odd to me, though, because she was so popular. Depicting her as a walking nest just doesn't feel right to me. I think the "walking nest" should be an entirely different entity altogether. It's not a bad idea, but to me it doesn't fit the Raven Queen that so many know and love.

Gith

Good stuff here, especially the githzerai section. They went out of their way to get art depicting both Vlaakith and Menyar-Ag. Menyar is very cool, and I don't remember reading much about him prior to this. He's semi-dead yet immensely powerful.

Also, githyanki hatch from eggs!

Monsters
Astral Dreadnoughts: Awesome! I have hardly ever heard of anyone fighting one of these in any edition, but they are really cool. They were created by Tharizdun! Did not know that.

Boneclaw: A wizard who tries and fails to become a lich might become a boneclaw. Their soul bonds to some other evildoer nearby and it serves them. This thing can actually attack creatures who enter its reach.
Old Cadaver Collector art
Cadaver Collector: This is one of those monsters that had art that was so awesome in a previous edition that they should just re-use it. These creatures wander Acheron and collect dead bodies. Where do they bring them, though?

Demons: A lot of the demons they decided to include are weird ones from 2e - the dybbuk, the maurezhi, and others. I thought the molydeus was relegated to the dustbin of history, but it’s right here in ye olde Tome of Foes.

Sibriex: I love the sibriex! It feels like there’s a lot of cool things you can do with them. There’s an awesome flesh-warping chart, in case you want to let a sibriex “improve” your character. My favorite: your eyes become beacons, emitting a 15-foot cone of dim light

Demon Lords: They reprinted the demon lords from Out of the Abyss with the same artwork! I wish they would have included some more demon lords like Lolth, Malcanthet and Pazuzu.

Hellfire Engine: I LOVED the hellfire engine from 3e. It was a clockwork/hellfire giant that rampaged across the battlefield. The 5e version is more of a steamroller, which might sound crappy, but the art is so badass that i accept it 100%!
Abishai: Tiamat’s devils! I really like the way they look in this edition. The artist incorporated the unique appearance of each type of chromatic dragon.

Merregon: Legion devils! They took away their 4e pool of hit points deal, which is a bummer, but very hard to implement in 5e. The description says that they have metal masks bolted to their heads. The mask bears nothing except for the name of their commander and the layer of the Nine Hells it serves, but the art shows the mask has the face of… a baby. Very weird!

Narzugon: Hell knights! I love hell knights. The art for these is very good! It has a power I didn’t expect: It can heal one creature up to 100 hit points. I guess it's their lay on hands dealie. Also, they use a magic item called “infernal tack” to summon and control their steeds. Very cool!

Then we get stats of a few archdevils...

Bael: There’s a million cool dukes and duchesses out there. How did they decide which of them to feature for this book? Bael is pretty dull, as far as villains go, but he makes for a good brutish heavy to fight your group. Plus, his art is very cool.

Geryon: Maybe my favorite “rogue” archdevil, Geryon is now back in Hell and fighting to regain control of Stygia. There’s even a mention that he’s back in (citadel) Coldsteel, from A Paladin in Hell!

Hurijin: This is another one where I wonder why they picked him. To me, Baalphegor is a much more interesting choice, if you’re going to pick someone from the court of Mephistopheles. Again, though, the art for him is really awesome and that goes a long way.

Moloch: Another of my favorite dukes!! He’s been through a lot. Currently, he is transformed into an imp whenever he enters the Nine Hells. “Rumors suggest that he can be found in Sigil…”

Titivilus: I’m pretty sure 3 of these 5 dukes all came from those two “Infernal Aristocracy” articles from Dragon Magazine right before 4e started. I like all these, but I wish they would have shined the spotlight on some more under-developed archdevils in this book.

Giff: I really love the art of the giff. A lot of times, the head is too big and it looks like somebody wearing a hippo mask. This one looks really great! Checking out the statblock, we see that the giff have a… uhhhh. Fragmentation grenade.

Gith: In the githzerai section, you get a glimpse of how mutability is handled in 5e. It’s a regional effect for the anarch. It takes 10 minutes to stabilize a 5-mile radius!

Marut: If I remember right, these guys had elephant heads in 2e. Now they are clockwork eyeball things. They are “inevitables”. It says that they “enforce contracts forged in the Hall of Concordance in the city of Sigil.”

Nagpa: Nagpas are basically the skekzis from the Dark Crystal. In this edition, they dwell in the Shadowfell, enemies of the Raven Queen.

Ogre: There are some really fun ogre types, including the ogre battering ram and the ogre howdah.
4e Sorrowsworn

Sorrowsworn: I don’t like what they did here. In 4e, sorrowsworn were super-shadar-kai, freaky gothic agents of the Raven Queen. In 5e, they are “emotion given form”. Naked monster-people with spike-arms. One type of sorrowsworn, “the wretched”, is a two-legged football with teeth. I think that the 4e sorrowsworn had a bit of a weird look, but this is way out there. Ready? Here's the 5e sorrowsworn:

What the hell, man. 

Star Spawn: There is a sidebar on Elder Evils. There’s a big list of them. They include: Dendar (from Tomb of Annihilation), Kyuss (from Age of Worms), Tharizdun (from Greyhawk), and the Queen of Chaos (from the Rod of Seven Parts!).

Merrenoloth: These are the creatures that have boats on the River Styx. The art on this is easily the best art of a merrenoloth ever. They kept the “grim reaper” flavor but gave it its own look. They handled all of the things the boat can do through lair actions (the boat is its lair) and regional effects.

That's it! This book is right now about $30 on amazon. Definitely worth it!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dark and Dicey: Episode 1

Dark and Dicey is a new show on the D&D channel, and it features Nate from Dice, Camera, Action.
For the first time ever, someone other than me (Sean) will be writing an article on this blog! The recapper here is Rina, whoyou might recognize from my show, Dungeon Academy.

Cast

Nathan Sharp as Pluck the Kenku Swamp Druid
Cristina Vee as Anya the Yuan-Ti Pureblood Warlock
Anna Brisbin as Trixa Teardu the Lightfoot Halfling Barbarian
Hunter Hughes as Kovacs the Half-Elf Oathbreaker Paladin
Zach Callison as Werblund the Deep Gnome Ranger

Kaiji Tang as the Dungeon Master

Previous Sessions

Sessions 1 and 2 were not streamed. At the beginning of the session, we got a recap:
   
“Thisbinar, the jewel of faith and justice on the southern reaches, coastal area of Barovia, is suffering a time of great upheaval.”

The Paladins of Virtue - followers of Thisbinar’s patron god Reganos - attempted to usurp power from Sir Lucian, a magister. Though the coup failed and the magister gained enough support to get rid of the paladins, the city itself began failing. Lucian was given emergency power to regain the city’s former glory, essentially making him a king.

The party themselves were on a prison ship heading towards Steelwall Garrison, where they would be left and forgotten.

With a stroke of luck, they met Topbutton the goblin and Dinkle, his adopted ogre son. This duo is planning a heist within the Blacksteel Isles, a nearby island nation rich with adamantite. The king of this nation, Algard, was said to have conquered the dungeon tower of Endspire, developing the city of Allhaven around it.

The object of the heist is a magical red gem which is supposedly at the top of Endspire, and supposedly grants a wish to those who touch it. Topbutton lets the party out of their cells in exchange for their help in getting the duo to the Blacksteel Isles and helping them on their heist.

As they made their way through the ship, killing quite a few people along the way, they came across a room filled with circus equipment and 20 pounds worth of narcotics. Which is to say, the prison ship is also a smuggling vessel.

Pluck and Anya immediately partook of the drugs.

As the party exited to the deck, the ship was nearing the Blacksteel Isles. A protective magic mist was laying over the sea so that the islands couldn’t be attacked. The guards on deck however, would be able to attack the group.

Pluck panicked and dropped a darkness spell immediately. Some of the guards ended up walking off the ship and into the ocean.

Topbutton was able to control the ship just enough to have it crash onto a beach. The vessel was destroyed.

After being attacked by various monsters, the group met a Guard Captian by the name of Vigil, who they were able to convince that they were on a mission for “Winkerbean’s Wondrous Emporium,” the smuggling circus. Vigil then leads them to the poor town of Fairheim. As they are traveling, they save a young girl named Sass, who was being attacked by skeletons. Vigil was concerned about this, as magic is heavily regulated. The general populous isn’t allowed to cast, and all citizens and visitors are required to wear adamantite bracelets which suppress all magic.

Of course, Pluck cast some spells, which immediately summoned an adamantite golem to the location and which stood above Pluck menacingly. He didn’t cast again after that.

When they reached Fairheim, a Dwarven cleric by the name of Kaytri, healed them (especially Pluck and Anya). With the help of their new friends they were able to be sheltered from the law for the time being. They are currently staying at a tavern called “The Pretty Cook,” the owner of which is an Ogrillon by the same name.

This is where this session begins.

Episode 1


At the tavern, the group was given complimentary rags to wear. +1 to stealth, because no one wants to look at you if you wear them. Perfect!

Anya is skilled with scissors and thread, and makes a stylish two-piece out of them.

Side note: Anya saved a big ol’ pile of snakes from the tavern’s cellar when she learned that snakes were a part of the menu. She is best friends with an albino snake. His name is SnekSnek.

Kids had stolen Trixa’s Lion costume, but has returned it. Trixa goes into the bathroom and sees a note that wasn’t there before. Scratched into the wood are the words “Brush your teeth.” There was nothing to brush her teeth with, so she scratched “No can do” into the wood below the first note.
   
There’s complimentary breakfast! It’s leftover stewed cabbage and giant centipede sausages! Only Werblund and Pluck seem to enjoy it.
   
Anya forms a cult. It’s a bunch of little kids yelling anything she may say repetitively.

A snobby knight who has obviously seen no action shows up. His name is Guard Captain Fizzlepot. He wants the package he was promised and threatens to tell the king about the thieves that must have stolen it, looking pointedly at the party.

Kaytri is having none of it, though, and thoroughly intimidates him. Dissuaded from this due to the illegal aspect of his package (see: smuggled drugs), he then leaves. Two of the soldiers that had accompanied him go into the Pretty Cook.

Kaytri starts talking to the party and gives them a mission. The bracelets that the Guard Captains use allow them to cast spells without wands and without golems tracking them down. Since Fizzlepot is a guard captain, they could probably steal a bracelet from him. She gives them one she had stolen prior, and tells them to talk to the two soldiers that walked in to the tavern, as they are her friends.

The soldiers that walked into the tavern are also friends with the Ogrillon. Their names are Shady Jeff and Walter Killmaster.

The first natural 20 of the game is Pluck’s insight check.

Walter is very enthusiastic, which grates on Pluck’s nerves. Jeff is very smarmy. This is who they are, and are trustworthy...in their own way.
   
Guard Captain Bracelet: +1 AC, can cast magic without summoning adamantite golems to come for you, can magically attach 4 wands and recharge these wands at dawn

The plan is to go to Lord Fizzlepot’s residence during the festival that night to steal his Guard Captain Bracelet and anything else that isn’t nailed down.

Topbutton and Dinkle are setting up the circus for the group. Trixa immediately dons a crocodile costume she found among the supplies. She and Werblund both take 20 throwing knives. They are props, but can still deal 1d4 damage.

Kovacs makes a friend of the minotaur blacksmith named Ironhoof, who promises him a greatsword if he can get his hands on any raw materials.

Anya tries to become better friends with her party. With SnekSnek’s advice, she goes to apologize to Pluck. It doesn’t work very well. She then follows more SnekSnek advice: to give them gifts by turning their complementary rags into nice clothes like she did with hers.

Kovacs gets his first ever drink. It’s a very rich, high quality brand of beer called Bulbous Beer. Werblund knows what it is, and is excited about it. Werblund, Kovacs, and Pluck all partake.
The first natural 1 of the game is Pluck’s history check to learn about the beer.

The second was his constitution check.

Pluck is smashed, head first in the toilet. Kovacs is less so, but hits the floor. Werblund is fine and helps his friends.

Shady Jeff is back to help them into Allhaven. He brought a wagon for everyone to hide in. Before they proceed to their mission, everyone tries to problem solve the drunk problem. Pluck turns into horse. Trixa fetches Kaytri, who soberizes horse-Pluck, but she doesn’t have another lesser restoration spell to use on Kovacs. They get into the wagon.

Once they get to the entrance to Allhaven, they have to bluff their way in. Inside the city, they see a statue of the king. The plaque at the base of the statue reads:

 “May my people never starve again”  Algard, king of Allhaven

The festival’s games have marvelous prizes, including wands, pieces of raw adamantite, various toys, and crates of food.

They split the party. Pluck and Anya attempt a strength game and both fail. They try to persuade the person in charge to let Trixa try, but fail. Kovacs and Werblund go to the house they plan to ransack to scope things out. They find 3 or 4 guards are inside.

Trixa attempts to remember the map and lead them to the house, but ended up at another game. Trixa persuaded the person running the booth to give her a free shot by pretending to be a little girl. She succeeds and wins! But the prize was a doll instead of a wand or adamantite, as she was pretending to be a child.

Trixa rolls a natural 20 on her next attempt to find her way to the house. The party is back together again.

To distract the guards, drunken Kovacs pretended that he thought the house was his own. Trixa tag teamed, pretending she was his daughter.

Passing the magic bracelet between each other, Anya cast Invisibility on Werblund. Pluck cast Pass Without Trace on the party to help attempt the investigation inside the house.

The distraction force started failing their deception rolls, and one of the guards shouted “Boss!”

The +10 to the rolls helped Werblund, Anya, and Pluck to get in, but on their way up the stairs they heard a big man start to come toward the staircase to go down. In a panic, Pluck cast darkness. ((at this point pass without trace should have been cancelled but it’s w/e))

When it becomes dark and the guards are bewildered, Trixa pretends to have a big choking fit. The big guy on the stairs, the Boss, ends up rushing her to the temple to get a cleric.

Pluck drops the concentration on darkness as he, Anya, and Werblund finish climbing the stairs to begin their search. They find the an ornamental suit of armor, 130 gp, a Wand of Mage Hand with 10 charges, and key to a chest that contained a whopping 2000 gp, assorted gems and baubles, and the right of ownership to the fizzy water company that Fizzlepot owns.

Kovacs finally gives up the act. When he leaves the door the guards go back inside.

At the temple, the moment the Boss leaves Trixa by herself she runs for it. Back at the house, she and Kovacs go around to the back door to see if they could make their way in.

To continue their search for the bracelet, the trio has to go downstairs again. Werblund has to roll stealth to see if the guards hear him, though he doesn’t have to worry about them seeing him. Pluck, however, rolls a nat 1 on his stealth roll. With the added 10 to make 11, he got down the stairs fine, but once he got to the stairwell he knocked over a precious porcelain vase with a huge crash. The guards stare right at him. He pretends to just be a very clumsy janitor, but we will find out if it spurs an initiative roll next session!