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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Jungle Treks

You can buy this right here.

Jungle Treks is a DMs Guild book that contains 6 scenarios that you can plop into your Tomb of Annihilation game to keep the jungle portion spicy. From what I can see, these can be used in any campaign, really, with almost no adjusting at all.

This is written by Teos Abadia and Eric Menge, who have both made a lot of D&D stuff.

The entire book looks a lot like a 2nd edition product, right down to the fonts. I find it very comforting. Check out the logo on the cover:

That's a replica of the old Realms logo, which I always really liked. There are so many weird little things you can do on the DMs Guild. You can put that logo on your product! I can barely wrap my head around it. Great idea!

This book has 6 adventures that you can use to plop into your Tomb of Annihilation game. There are summaries of each in the beginning. As soon as I saw the words "tropical harpies" I got more than a little excited.

All of the adventures are made to be scaled. There's three "tiers" for characters level 1-4, 5-7, and 8-10. In each adventure, you're given stats appropriate for each. For example, the DC of a saving throw could be DC 15/17/19. Use 15 for a group of heroes that are level 1-4 and use 19 if your group is levels 8-10.

They actually make charts to tell you how many monsters to use depending on what level your group is.

Let's go through these scenarios real quick.
 
Tavern Trouble: This is one big encounter in a tavern. There's a bar fight, and there's all these lizards running around. The group needs to identify and nag one particular lizard. Very amusing!

If Looks Could Kill: This is an expedition to take care of a herd of one of those really weird D&D monsters - the catoblepas (the plural form is "catoblepones"). There is a ton of detail on the NPCs that will interact with the group, including a lot of notes about romantic interests. Each of them has a quest involving the Catoblepones.

Wow, check out the catoblepas stats. Their death ray does 36 necrotic damage! Yikes.

Ambush From Above: This is an ambush encounter involving grungs who worship a pig. There's a cyclops in the mix, too. People never use cyclopses in D&D and I don't know why. Too mythological?

Mystic River: This is a good idea - an encounter for groups canoeing in a river. There are a series of cool challenges here that will make this a very memorable, fun encounter. This is easily my favorite so far!

Mudslide: Wow.. I just made a mudslide encounter yesterday! This is very well thought-out and extremely useful. They actually go over the options the group has to avoid the mudslide, including jumping from tree to tree, which sounds really awesome. I love this one.

Beautiful Plumage: Here we go! Tropical harpies. Hey... they have a name for a flock of harpies: A "scream" of harpies. Pretty good!

Here's the description: "...bipedal creatures that combine the worst aspects of a human and a bird with feathers that are as brightly colored as any parrot."

Someone make some art of that! Very cool idea. I like this one a lot!

This is the biggest of all the adventures. It has a complete set of ruins, a maze, a tower, and other entities lurking about.

Overall

This is a really easy thumbs up from me. It takes just a few minutes to read one of these, and then you can roll it out in your game. It is extremely handy for DMs who don't have a lot of time to prepare for their games. Plus, it is very inexpensive. $4! Definitely worth it.

Note: I was sent a free review copy of this book.

Dice, Camera, Action Puppet Show

You can watch this show here.

Since it is Halloween and the group isn't playing this week, Chris Perkins decided to recap the entire show... in sock puppet form. It has a sort of "Unabomber" feeling to it, as if Chris has been locked in that room for way too long. I found it to be utterly hilarious.

I'm not sure how to recap a recap, so I'll just tell you about the things that stuck out. This show is only 30 minutes long, so it's pretty painless to sample if you're not sure about it. take you a lot of time to watch it.

Chris does a great Evelyn voice, very hilarious. Her puppet has this glittery foil as hair, very amusing.

At first it looked like Chris was changing socks really fast, then I realized that this is taped and edited. You can see the top of Chris's head most of the time. Chris did prepare a lot of props for this, intentionally making most of them craptastic, which makes it funnier.

He does a Dee impression, which kills me! You haven't lived until you've seen puppet Evelyn maniacally hug Strix.

Then comes one of the highlights of the show. Remember when Diath got hung?

Good lord.

Puppet Strahd emerges from behind the couch. He has a red cape and sort of sings his own theme song. Then he starts making out with Paultin, and Paultin points out that that never happened. Clearly Strahd couldn't contain himself.

There are a lot of retakes kept into the show. As things progress, it becomes apparent that Chris is running the puppets as if they really are the characters, and that they are acting out the scenes from the show. Evelyn can't remember her lines and curses up a storm.

"We met a bunch of wereravens at a winery." Chris starts waggling around a raven doll and goes "Ca caw, ca caw." I died.

Now Paultin and Evelyn are making out. Chris slips himself a dagger. It's true, the Tome of Strahd was not helpful at all.

The group has never liked Van Richten, but I don't think I've ever heard them call him "Van Rectum" until now.

More Dee! Poor Dee. She says, "Oi! I'm still alive!" We just got ourselves a scoop! Mayhaps we will see Dee again some day.

I think that this show needs some soft, quiet background music. The utter silence in which Chris performs in is a bit unsettling.

The Mordenkainen voice Chris does is fantastic.


Chris declares that "fan-fic Drizz't" showed up and helped the group kill a bunch of werewolves. He points out that there isn't a lot of story going on in this season so far. This guy is killing me.

The giant eagle.. I'm dying

We get tot he part where Harshnag falls to his death. Chris represents this by throwing a sock.

Chris bursts out laughing when he has Strix growl at Evelyn.

Hey... When Paultin saved Evelyn, Chris explicitly says that the Raven Queen gave him the undead hand. We are getting some big nuggets on this show!

Diath wants the sword prop... it looks like a pencil. No.. it's a tiny broom!

Chris spends quite a bit of time roasting his own ideas. He points out the absurdity of how destroying Paultin's shadow sent them back in time somehow.

Sir Godfrey is a skeleton action figure. He can't remember his lines. We get a few bonus clips, one involving Strix Blair Witch-style.

Overall


I thought this was absolutely hilarious. Is it a good recap? I guess so, I'd have to ask someone not familiar with the show. I think that new viewers would at the very least get a feeling for what the characters are like.

They should do this at the end of every season and let fans mail in props. Painted backdrops, puppets, etc. They'd probably end up with way more stuff than they could use.

I love people that don't take themselves too seriously, so I really enjoyed the tone of this. I think a copy of this should be placed in a time capsule so that future humans can try to puzzle it out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation 7 - The Dinosaur Race Unchained


Episode 7 is up! You can check it out right here:

Lots of stuff going on in Power Score Land (Note: I find it very amusing when people refer to me as "Power" on twitter, and am hoping someday, somebody says to me, "Pardon me, Mr. Score....").

I am about to roll out the other shows/campaigns which I've been taping over the last month. This is the group from Ruins of Mezro:


We've taped to episodes and we're taping episode 3 tomorrow. We have been playing through a modified version of the Ruins of Mezro adventure and I think we'll jump into Heart of the Wild next.

I have most of the art for Revenge of the Lizard King. We taped episode 1 of that a few weeks ago and it was tremendous! Different art style for this one. At first, I was a little leery, but I'm climbing on board now that I see them all together:


The art of the 4th character, a triton, is still in revisions.

On top of all that, I got to be a guest on Encounter Roleplay, which was a lot of fun. Hopefully I can beebop around and appear on many a cyberspace D&D game so I can see how other people do it.

The Party

(Ryan) Mistletoe - Human Druid
(Garrett) Ramrod - Goliath Barbarian
(Annalise) Val - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Joe) Zavagor - Half-orc Warlock

For this episode of Tomb of Annihilation, I tested out some material I made. I'm about to put out a book on the DM's Guild called the Tomb of Annihilation Companion. It's going to have 30 days of travel in the jungle all plotted out for you, special "hag visit" encounters, and a new way to run dinosaur races, and other stuff.

I feel like the dinosaur racing rules in the Tomb book are too vague and don't give DMs enough tools to give it the "Return of the Jedi speeder chase" feeling it should have (or the "Phantom Menace Pod Racing" feeling, for you Jar-Jar fans). I tested them out and by gawd, it went great.

We had left off with the group getting mauled by a horde of 30 zombies. As I had feared, Ramrod dove right into them and heroes started dropping like flies. Thanks to some cool ideas, the group had been able to survive a few rounds.

Hoppy the froghemoth was stuck in the horde. He took a pile of hits, but he was able to wade through and escape. Ramrod was carrying Pearl and Val, both of whom were making death saves. He was running from the horde.

Val rolled a 20 on a death save! She woke up and reached over to Pearl to stabilize her. She rolled a POWER SCORE, and we learned that Val's signature move involves hugging.

The heroes fled to the pirate ship and sailed back to Port Nyanzaru.
Hew Hackinstone
They went to the Thundering lizard and met Hew Hackinstone, one of the NPC guides from the Tomb adventure. I gave him my bad Sean Connery voice. Surely the group would choose this guy, right? Surely! At this point, they indicated that they were definitely leaning toward having Hew among their ranks when it came time to go into the jungle.

Then they met with my red wizard replacements - agents of the nation of Cheliax (A Castlevania-style kingdom of devil worshipers from the Pathfinder setting). The Cheliax representative was Heinrich Von Pummel and his two hell hounds. The hounds didn't like Zavagor (they could smell the Abyss on him) and loved Val (they seemed to catch a whiff of brimstone, indicating she could be somehow linked to devils).

I got to do my terrible nazi voice and say one of my favorite NPC names: Paralictor Valeria Asperixus. She's a hell knight from the Skull and Shackles path. She survived that campaign that I ran in 2013, but the heroes did kill Admiral Thrune, who Valeria was obsessed with. She actually knows and hates Captain Isabella "Inkskin" Locke, but the two did not cross paths tonight.

The heroes turned down an offer to team up with Von Pummel's force of soldiers.

Then, the group went to the arena and met with Kwayothe, who let them pick out any type of dinosaur. It went like this:

  • Zavagor: Young Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • Val: Her "pretty pink" allosaurus from the last race.
  • Ramrod: Triceratops
  • Mistletoe: Triceratops

Kwayothe told Zavagor that she had seen to it that he would win the race.

Here's how the race worked:
  • I made a racing route on the Port Nyanzaru map, and broke it up into seven "stages".
  • Every round, the racers entered the next stage.
  • Every stage had a special element/obstacle.
  • We used the idea of tracking total "feet" of movement from the book. The winner of the race is whoever had the most "feet" at the end of the last stage.
  • The whole thing is a bit abstract. The racers are considered to be in a clump and they can more or less interact freely.

It was tremendous. There were 8 NPC racers, 4 of which were the green vipers. The others were a tortle NPC from the Tortle Package, the son of Ekene-Afa, PARALICTOR VALERIA ASPERIXUS, and a worshiper of Gwynharwyf (which surprised Mistletoe, as he is an agent of Gwynharwyf as well).

There were a lot of highlights. Jim Crank and Ramrod had an epic battle while riding the same dinosaur. The little boy from episode 1 sent his new flying monkey pet after Ramrod. Mistletoe blinded people, Val was way ahead jut like the first race, and Zavagor had two invisible succubi cheating on his behalf.

I couldn't have had a better end to the Port Nyanzaru section of the adventure!

From here, we're going into the jungle. I'll be testing out my jungle encounter days from the Tomb of Annihilation Companion. It seems like a lot of people are glossing over these travel days when they run Tomb, so I wanted to run them to show new DMs how you can do the days without bogging down the game too much. After all of the effort put into the travel section of the book, it feels like a waste to just hand wave the journey.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 66 - Tomb of Annihilation




Episode 66: Ghosts and Goblins

Check out the above image. Looks like they got art of each character. Is it by Richard Whitters? Anybody know if there's anywhere we can see the full versions?

Geoff couldn't play today because he has con crud. His character, Chumba is with the group.

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Ross) Wumba - Batiri Goblin Warlock

Last episode, the group met some goblins and fought an undead tyrannosaurus rex.

Evelyn is enjoying being large. Strix enlarged her so she could fight the t. rex. Her enjoyment is bothersome, so Strix cancels it out.

The heroes come upon a large structure. It has giant stone feet on a dais that is covered in vines. Behind it is a passageway going into a hill, into the underground. The heroes spot some ghostly children moving further in.

Strix goes in and immediately falls into a pit trap. She takes 8 points of damage as she falls 20 feet to the bottom of this pit.

The heroes cross the pit in their own wacky way. Evelyn throws Wumba across, who dabs in mid-air. Then she throws Chumba across, who just barely makes it.

Umbril, Dragonbait and Waffles stay outside.

Diath looks for traps and is hit by whirling blades, which Holly finds to be hilarious. The group gets past the scything blades.

They see the ghost kids climbing up a 10 foot tall ledge. Evelyn can't wait to play with the children. Strix quietly judges her. Evelyn somehow senses it.

They come to a room where sunline strems through the ceiling. A cobweb-infested Vault. There's a pillar of stone with a staircase winding up outside of it. They see the girl on the shoulders of the boy going up the stairs.

Diath spots a glyph of warding. Paultin plays the maracccas, and Diath tries to disable the glyph... 22! He does it!

In the room beyond are dinosaur bones. The children scuttle out of view.

They see carvings of a crocodile carrying a man. This refers to an old legend in chult about a crocodile who tricks a man into carrying it around over vast distances.

Evelyn holds hands with Wumba. He's hit by lightning from the pillar. He makes a save... natural 20!  Evelyn helpfully warns the group that there's lightning in here

This is where they are

Mannn... Wumba only has 13 HP. How is he going to survive?

Wumba worships Dendar, the Night Serpent - an evil serpent that wants to eat the sun. He thinks about the legend of the crocodile and figures out how to circumvent the many traps in this place. You have to climb on someone's shoulders

They climb up on each other's shoulders. Diath had been carefully removes glyphs. The group chuckles that he risked himself for no real reason.

The group comes upon a holy container. Evelyn thinks it is linked to Lathander and she does a little dance, squealing about Lathander. In it is a flask of golden light. Anna is cracking me up. Hey! Wumba snatches it.

Wumba is holding it hostage. He wants Evelyn to say that Dendar is great or he'll smash it. She refuses. He spits on it and hands it over. This guy... somebody smite him! I am outraged.

Strix examines it and senses that it has some sort of transformative ability. Strix thinks it is for Evelyn, and that it will turn her back into a human.

Evelyn doesn't think Lathander sent this to her. The group asks Paultin to convince her, but he has nothing.  Ok, people. At this point, I'd say Evelyn should get over Paultin. This was a golden opportunity for something and he just didn't bother. Maybe Lathander is the only one for Evelyn.

Diath steps up and explains how blessed Evelyn is. This dude is the leader!

Evelyn drinks it! Light swells around her... and she's gone! The whole place is collapsing! The group uses magic to escape, leaving the goblins behind. Chumba and Wumba are in trouble.

Wumba jumps down the descending hall from which they came, using his brother to break his fall. Chumba's dead. He wants his brother's whistle... kicks his head off to get it!

Wumba has 1 hit point left and he has to jump that pit trap! He blows the whistle and leaps... rolls a 7. Wait! Something catches him! It's Dragonbait. He heard the whistle. Pretty good!

They escape. The place collapses, Chumba is dead and buried. Paultin saw what Chumba did, as he was a gas cloud. Paultin did the exact same thing, using Chris Trott's wereraven character to break his fall. Paultin seems appalled.


It would be funny if the group gets in a situation where they need to jump off a huge cliff and use a living giant to break their fall or something.

Wumba senses that the NPCs are about to turn on him. He uses expeditious retreat, holding up middle fingers as he vanishes into the jungle.

Meanwhile, Evelyn awakens in a palace of sunlight. Standing nearby is a golden giant with glowing eyes. This is Saint Andral, a servant of Lathander. He gives her a choice. Pick one:
  • Regain her human form
  • Get an enhanced version of her construct body
  • Get Lightfall back.
She takes the enchanced form! She now has a 22 Constitution! This is Lathander's blessing of health, sort of like a trickster god boon with no flaw attached.

Last episode, Chumba had tossed Diath his will. Diath reads it aloud. Long story short, he knew his brother would blow the whistle, and Chumba explains that he farted in it, haha.

That's where we stop!

No game next week... but in next week's time slot, There will be waffle crew sock puppet theater. They are going to recap the events of the show... in sock puppet form!

They talk a bit about the Game Grumps D&D show. It's called Dragons in Places. Jared is the DM! Holly will play, alone with Ross and some other Game Grumpers. It will be on youtube tomorrow.

Overall

I think this was the best session of the entire season so far. Hilarious, fun, and everybody was in the zone. Ross added a lot to the game, he is a very funny guy.

Monday, October 23, 2017

What it's Like Being on Encounter Roleplay

 Image result for encounter roleplay
Click here to check out the Encounter Roleplay Patreon.

I got to do something really fun today. I was a guest on Encounter Roleplay, a streaming D&D show that has partnered up with Wizards of the Coast. They appear on the D&D channel and the guy who runs it, Will, does a million shows. His literal job is to play D&D.

To prepare, I watched some of their show (Tomb of Annihilation). I watched half of the 4th episode, where the group actually met Volo, which was very cool. It looked like they were going to do the whole Executioner's Run thing, where they are tossed into a pit with dinosaurs in it.

They seemed really fun and I liked that the game was a bit laid back. All of them do really good voices. I do bad-good voices, in that they are so bad, they're good (to me, anyway).

I whipped up a cleric named Sid Grundle. Generally, it seems like nobody wants to make a cleric, but I love it. I like being the "glue" that keeps it together and dishes out support when needed.

Sid is an ex-con who has tried to become a good guy in the past few years, but he's not very good at it. The DM had some ideas and we put it all together.

Here is what I was really interested in: What happens before the show starts and after the show ends? What programs do they use to do this? Are there any tricks of the trade?

They use Zoom.us and Roll20 together. Zoom is quite like Skype, and Roll20 is a very popular site that you can use to play D&D online.

This is Will

I have had a few people show me Roll20, and it was cool but seemed very complicated on the DM side of things.

I wanted things to run smoothly. The DM came online with me prior to the game and helped me iron out the one issue - you have to turn the video and audio off in Roll20 in order for Zoom to work right.

Then I added in my character sheet into Roll20, which didn't take long. To roll dice in Roll20, you click on the skill, stat, attack or whatever right on your sheet and the dice roller pop up and does its thing. There's a bit of lag in Roll20 between when you click and when it shows up, and on a live show it is a bit unnerving.

You can also type in a little chat box to roll dice. You just type /roll d100 or whatever. Again, there's a bit of lag that really tears at your soul when you're wobbly at this to begin with.

This was live on Twitch, so there were many people in the chat watching the show live. I couldn't see the chat, as I just used the roll20 and zoom screens. I think I could have seen it, but I'm not sure how that works and it probably would have been one too many things for me to do.

Here's the thing that really popped out at me. Viewers can pay to throw things in the game - curses, boons, all sorts of stuff. You have to roll on a chart, one of which requires a d10,000!

I love this idea, because you can interact with the viewers and you can ham it up with them, trying to get them to give you things, or shaking your fist at them when they saddle you with some awful condition. It was hilarious and it completely changed the game in a good way.

We got a ton of these things in the show, and I got hit with a lot. I loved it and tried to use whatever they gave me in a fun way so they felt like it was worth it.

In this session, we fought some zombies, traveled through the jungle, fought a winter wolf in an icy section of forest and made camp. During the camp we were attacked by 2 bodaks, of all things!

It's so weird to play in an adventure you've read. The DM changed it up quite a bit so that it wasn't predictable. The heroes have Azaka Stormfang as their guide. It seems like a heck of a lot of groups choose Azaka for some reason.

A wild magic viewer thing set it up so that I arrived in a ghost ship and got to make a dramatic entrance. I was hoping to launch myself from a catapult, but alas, it was not to be. I swung in on a rope.

Another viewer thing turned Grob (Will's character) into a swarm of bees. Grob actually has a copy of Volo's Guide to Monsters in the game that was signed by Volo when they met in a previous episode. Grob dropped it when he bee-came bees (boom). I tried to yoink it, but it went poorly.

It's a bit dicey to do any sort of player-vs-player stuff when the other people don't know you, but I had some fun ideas for it and I knew that through the course of the session I would dish out piles of support spells and the players would see that I'm not some turd coming in and intentionally ruining things.

When I tried to snatch that book, I got hammered with curses from the viewers. I got a real kick out of all the stuff that happened to me. Here's some:
  • Every time I spoke the letter "s", I got hit by a fire bolt. My name is Sid! How do I introduce myself?!
  • The ghost boat.
  • I got two natural 20's I could use on roll whenever I liked.
  • I got one natural 1 that needed to be used at some point.
There was a lot more spread throughout, but that's the general idea.

Throughout the show, clues were dropped that there was more to my character than what was presented. I was wrapped up like a mummy so that my entire body was obscured. One hero noticed that I didn't actually sleep, I just pretended to.

At the very, very end, there was a little cut scene that showed that Sid was into some bad stuff.

I had to sort of guess how to fit in to the group dynamic. I didn't want to chime in too much, but a lot of times I get excited and start spitting out ideas and it's hard to stop.

I had been given a boon that said the next time I crafted an item, it would explode and do something like 25 points of damage. During the final battle with the bodaks, I made a puzzle out of bark and kept the last piece separate. I figured I could use it to blow up some bad guys if stuff hit the fan. I have 33 hit points, so I'd survive the explosion.

I didn't quite get to pull that off in the bodak battle, as we had to wrap up.

At the end of the show, you do that thing where each player tells the viewer about the projects they have going on and "check out my twitter", etc. Every one of these guys does this with such a smooth delivery. Very professional, no "ums" or "ahs". It seems like they all have their own projects going on.

When it was over, they were nice enough to stay in for a few minutes so I could ask them some questions. Things I learned:
  • On 16 occasions, Will played in sessions that went 24 hours, straight through.
  • Asking viewers in the chat for boons generally doesn't work well. You usually can't request something and get it.
  • These twitch shows with donations make significant money! It really made me think I should probably look into it. I love the curse/boon thing and would love to do something like that. It seems like, with enough of them, the viewers could somewhat dictate what happened in the session, which makes it a surprise for everyone. I love random charts, so this is very appealing to me.
Every one of the players were very nice and fun.

The DM, Greg, is very good. He does fantastic voices and sounds and he has a good sense of which things to downplay in order to keep things moving.

Encounter Roleplay is admirably ambitious. Will's not doing one show, he's doing multiple shows every day! He's building a D&D channel. What I really like is that he has rolled up his sleeves and he is doing it himself. His hard work is clearly paying off for him, and it is nice to see.

I think what he's doing is really smart and, seeing how this online D&D thing seems like it's not going away any time soon (and is, in fact, getting bigger) he's going to end up being a very big deal. From what I understand, he's only 21. He's got it made!

Good show, definitely check it out!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 65 - Tomb of Annihilation


Episode 65: Bait and Twitch
This is a live show that was held at TwitchCon 2017. There are two guest stars: Geoff Robinson and Ross, Holly's husband.

Game Grumps is starting an online D&D game, which Jared is DMing and Holly is playing in. Being woefully out of touch, I've never watched Game Grumps before, so I checked it out. They did a playthrough of one of my favorite video games of all time - Shadow of the Colossus.

I watched the final hour of it because I wanted to see their reaction to some things that happen near the end of the game, which legit made me cry in real life.

The one player was suitably weepy, and I was most pleased. Seems like a fun show!

There were major technical difficulties with this stream, so we only really get to see the last half hour. That half hour is very good, so it's worth checking out.

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Geoff) Chumba - Batiri Goblin
(Ross) Wumba - Batiri Goblin

The group is in the Jungle of Chult. They're trying to end the death curse, which is slowly killing three members of the party. Last time, they were visited by the Sewn Sisters, who gave them a second soul. This should save them if they die - the second soul will be drawn into the Soulmonger.

The group travels for 3 days down a river. Waffles runs on the shore to follow. Evelyn flies next to the boat.

They spot a wukka nut tree. Wukka nuts glow.

We miss a bunch of stuff. We come back to the group having made camp. Wumba is now with them. The goblins have formed a battle stack, which is a thing goblins do in Tomb of Annihilation. They ride on each others shoulders and attack as one entity. In this case, the bottom of the two goblins is invisible.

A zombie t. rex enters their camp and Holly transforms it into an axebeak. Polymorph lasts for 1 hour. I love the zombie t. rex, very cool that Chris decided to use it at this show!

Chumba wants to go swing at the polymorphed dinosaur. The group begs him not to. He doesn't know that hitting it will turn it back into its original form.

Diath tries to stop him, but poor Jared rolls bad. The goblin muscles him out of the way.

Chumba attacks but misses. He action surges! He attacks again. He hits it.. and it turns back into the t. rex.

Wumba takes a selfie with his scrying orb, even though he's invisible. Chumba disengages and flees, abandoning his brother. The t. rex pursues Chumba and hits him doing 24 points of damage. It swallows him! Dragonbait climbs in to a hole inside the t. rex's torso to try to save the goblin.

Strix casts enlarge on Evelyn, so she can have a kaiju battle with the undead dinosaur. Evelyn is now 10 feet tall. The t. rex is 30 feet tall.

Evelyn does a pile of damage. The t. rex is bloodied. Dragonbait climbs inside the t. rex to look for Chumba. Diath goes, "Don't you dare find him!" Jared is very much not a fan of the goblins.

Wumba throws his last will and testament at Diath, does a shadow of the colossus climb and tries to hack into the t. rex. His roll: a 2. Wumba is swallowed!

Chumba makes his first death save. A 2. Strix fireballs the t. rex, assuming the goblins are dead. Dragonbait's in there, too!

Diath attacks the t. rex and does a measly 4 damage. It only had 2 left! It's dead and topples over. Things are moving in there. Evelyn assumes its Dragonbait.

She slices it open with treebane and Dragonbait falls out. He's got Chumba. 5 zombies come crawling out after him.

The heroes start hacking into the zombies. Chumba wakes up1 He's alive.

Holly polymorphs a zombie into an axebeak. The group quickly destroys the zombies.

The heroes retrieve Wumba's body. Wumba makes a death save... natural 20! He's up!

The end.

Overall

Very good from what we got to see!


The zombies and the fireball should have made the goblins dead-dead, but maybe Chris wanted them alive so they could appear on the next episode (which they will be).


Ross seems like a very funny person and he definitely added to the game. I know a lot of us were hoping for Dee, but I guess the Erika Ishii ship has sailed, at least for now. I know she's got some other game going on Game and Sundry, so we could always check her out there.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Jungle Goodies: Treasures of Chult

You can buy this right here.

I was poking around on the DMs Guild and this one popped out at me. I love the cover! I took a look and saw that it had.. stuff... that I might be able to use in Tomb of Annihilation. It's only $2, so what the heck, right?

Short Version: I'd recommend this to anybody running Tomb of Annihilation or any jungle adventure. I really like it. If you want a massive pile of items, seeds and ideas, you most definitely want to buy this, no question! 

Pricing: This book is 20 pages long. How do you, the reader, feel about the price? Is $2 too low? DCC RPG adventures are about 20 pages long, are in black and white, and sell for $8. I, personally, think that Jungle Goodies could have been priced higher. $4? $5?

I know there's a ton of products out there on the DM Guild site, but generally it feels like people underestimate their own value.

Sideways: I put part of my pdf reader in the title image for a reason. This book is widescreen! It's not 8.5 x 11, it's sized similar to the 4e Dragon and Dungeon online magazines. On the one hand, it feels really wrong to me. I like books that are book-sized. On the other hand, it makes sense. Most of us are going to look at this on a computer, right?

They also included a print version, so you can do your thing.

The book is full of charts and lists. Here's a rundown of each one. I'm trying not to spoil too many, but I am spoiling some so you can get an idea of what's in here.

Animal Bits: There are some cool ideas in this one. Boots made of snakeskin that seems to shift when looked at. A black claw in a small glass dome! Some are a bit too vague for me.

Art Objects: Tremnendously useful! The values seem a bit high, but that's easil fixed. I've always found it very difficult to come up with art objects. LOVE this one: Inside a vase is studs of amber that contain ancient insects. ou could do tons of cool stuff with that one. Are they still alive? Did they suck the blood of some ancient entity (such as Ubtao) that might afford you magical properties? There's too more that I love, but I don't want to spoil too much.

Found in the Tavern: Some fun items in this. A dead, coiled snake that serves as a drink container. A giant flytrap in a bar that eats insects and rodents, keeping the place clean. Love that one!

Gifts from Nature: This one is really tremendous. Preparing the jungle for my campaign, I'm trying to come up with different fruits and foods for the group to find when foraging each day. I am going to use every single one of these!

Primitive Tools: I'm not sure how much I'd use these. I don't plan on using the grung or other more "civilized" places in Chult. I think my favorite tool is the bamboo blowpipe that shoots cactus spines.

Recovered from the Library: This stuff could be placed in a merchant prince library, the ruins of Mezro or Omu. These are a bit too vague for my liking.

Relics of a Lost Civilization: Some of these are good. I would have liked more concrete ties to Omu. I love the clay tablet with the star map, which seems like a great way to direct the heroes to the lost city of Omu. I also like the sarcophagus that might link to some other realm.

Storage Solutions: Man, these are tremendous! This is the kind of stuff I have a hard time coming up with. A hollowed-out iridescent beetle as a trinket box! A chest made from a preserved, hollowed-out mimic?! That's fantastic! I love this list, can't wait to use it. These are actually more closely tied to the actual Tomb of Annihilation book, really good stuff.

Weapons and Armor: Again, fantastic. These little details will set your campaign apart and make it feel special. A spear inlaid with thousands of petrified spiders?! I am surprised they didn't make a dinosaur skull helm. Maybe it was too obvious?

Weird Magic: More treasures! Some are a bit too vague to be useful. My favorite is the small ivory frog with emerald eyes that produce light similar to a torch.

Adventure Hooks: Tomb of Annihilation is so full of hooks and mini-adventures that I won't need this. I think they should have named the NPCs in this one to throw the DM a bone. The elderly wizard seeking the lost mage college can be linked directly to the college in Ruins of Mezro. I love the hook where a woman hires the heroes to go get her severed leg back from the beast that tore it off.

Hazards: Non-monster stuff to encounter in the jungle! Very, very useful. This one is very classic: A swift-moving stream that has stepping stones that you can use to cross. You can do a million fun things with this.

Locations: Woo! Check this out. A shrine made from the remains of a dragon turtle. Those who live in it are trying to animate the corpse! There's more really, really good ones, but I don't want to spoil it.

NPCs: Again, I wish they had named these people. Very good, though. I love the druid with the vine tattoos. I will try to work that in to my campaign.

Strange Creatures: These feel unnecessary. There's a billion monsters to use in tomb, and none of these really jump out at me. I do like the dragon hawk and the water elemental/beholder/thing.

Overall

I think that this is extremely useful and will really enhance your campaign. It's always better for the group to discover a spear with petrified spiders affixed to it rather than "a spear." It goes the extra mile and helps make the world feel fully-fleshed out, and should get the players imaginations revving up.

I would have preferred one more sentence of detail on many of the entries. I think that it is better to have too much information than not enough. I can toss aside the info I don't like but, if there's too little info, I'm stuck doing work that I am hoping this book will do for me.

I personally would have liked it if they directly tied more of the items to the stuff in Tomb of Annihilation. In almost every chart, there's one or two things screaming for it! it's up to the reader to connect the dots, though.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation 6 - Zombie Island

The new episode is up right here:

We just taped this on Saturday. It was a good session. The next one was great, IMO.

The plan for this episode was to have the group meet Aremag, the dragon turtle in an encounter right out of the Tomb book. Then they were going to go to zombie Island and explore a shrine of Kubazan, one of the nine trickster gods.

I took some rooms from Cellar of Death - traps that I really liked. Then the actual shrine was a way for me to start secretly "helping" the group survive the actual Tomb of the Nine Gods.

Secret Rule: I have a rule of thumb that I applied to this session. "Until it is said out loud at the table, it doesn't exist." So, by the time the group got to the shrine, I was well aware that this was taking too long, so I took the trap rooms out.

I do this all the time. I chuck stuff for a variety of reasons, usually because of time issues, or if it feels like it doesn't fit the moment. I'm pretty sure we've all had that feeling sometimes where you observe the mood of the group, and you can tell that if you use a certain encounter/monster/NPC right now, they'll love it. On other occasions, you look at what's ahead and you realize that the game is dragging a bit so you chuck it.

That's a tough tightrope to walk, because sometimes you're wrong! Once in awhile, I defy those instincts and it turns out the group loves the thing I was about to cut.

I remember running a DCC RPG adventure. There was a part in it where everyone was supposed to wear a paper mask in real life and roleplay some weird situation. I thought it was stupid and might make people feel self-conscious - we were playing in a game store, a public space. I didn't use it. When we got to that part, I mentioned it. The group unanimously groaned and wished I had kept it in!

You won't always make the right call, but in situations like that, you can fix the mistake. You can include it in a subsequent session. So in the end, it's not that a big a deal, and I think you should go with your instincts most of the time.

The Party

(Ryan) Mistletoe - Human Druid
(Garrett) Ramrod - Goliath Barbarian
(Annalise) Val - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Joe) Zavagor - Half-orc Warlock

The group sailed to Zombie Island. Along the way, Aremag demanded the toll.


Last time we had played, a pirate had bet Ramrod that he couldn't beat Aremag in a fight. Ramrod is very impulsive. He charges into everything. Planning this, I knew there was a chance he'd actually attack Aremag, and I planned accordingly. To my surprise, he didn't attack. You never know what a player will do!

The heroes got to Zombie Island. Their pirate friends went one way, and the group went another. The adventurers had heard of a froghemoth shrine that was on this island, and seeing how they travel with an albino froghemoth, their interest was piqued.

Quick Encounters: I had them spot a lone zombie up ahead. I used this a a tool to familiarize them with a thing I do to speed up encounters that are nonessential. I just ask, "What do you do?" They do it. They roll. The end. It's sort of like a cutscene in a telltale game, where you make a choice and then there's a different result if you pass/fail. So if a hero ran up and hacked it and missed, the zombie would attack them. If the hero hit, the zombie would explode or whatever I had in mind.

During the 6 years that I think of as "the grind", when I ran 2-3 sessions of D&D per week, I started to sharpen my sense of what's really important. What is it that makes a session boring? In my opinion, what makes a session boring is wasted time at the table. One such timewaster is non-essential encounters. A random encounter on a road is a waste of time unless it's a very fun and unique situation, or there are interesting stakes involved.

If you're walking on a road and three zombies lurch out of the forest, that's pretty boring. But, if there's a little kid in a tree and the three zombies are underneath the tree reaching for the kid, that's better. If the tree branch is breaking, that's IMO a worthy encounter. That's adventure, to me.

I know everybody has a different style. I know lots of groups who thoroughly enjoy an evening full of combat encounters. There is a lot of fun to be had in taking on a series of combats and trying to gain XP, get loot, and survive!

It is fun when you know you can't get a rest and you only have so many spells and hit points. It gets very thrilling when you're low on everything and one more tough creature comes at the group. That's fun! That's scary!


Long Sessions: In my experience, that kind of session requires a large chunk of time. I am done with 6 hour sessions of D&D. You don't need it! People have a hard time opening up their schedule to fit 6 hours in, and those 6 hour sessions can be a real drag. Boring! Excruciating, even! You look at the clock and you still have 3 more hours? If you're not into the scenario, then D&D stops being fun and starts to feel like a chore.

As a player, I can handle a handle 6 hour session if it's something that I consider relevant. If a DM wants to run Tomb of Horrors for me and a group, hell yes I'll sit there for 6 hours! I know that it's not going to be boring. It's going to be a harrowing, scary, thrilling, hilarious experience! I'll be excited to see what the next room is, and I'll be frantically trying to scope out tricks and traps in advance.

But when it's a session that drags or the DM clearly hasn't prepared enough for... I just want to go home.

To get a lot done in 2 hours, you need to trim all the BS. Everything needs to be streamlined and the group needs to run like a well-oiled machine. The two hours will fly by.

OK. Tangent over!


The Shrine of Kubazan: I stuck 10 zombies in front of the shrine. In my head, I was ready to be open to any clever idea the group had to get the zombies out of the way. I was also aware that Ramrod might charge them.

I had become tuned in to a potential issue in this campaign. Ramrod charges at everything, and it is going to get him killed! This is a conscious choice by the player, so I'm trying to find a balance between not being too harsh while being fair and realistic. If you charge 10 zombies, they're going to swarm you, right?

I honestly feel like if the rest of the group doesn't become prepared for Ramrod's foolhardiness, he's going to die. So I'm starting to place encounters of varying degrees of deadliness and giving them room to adjust.

Ramrod did charge these 10 zombies. The group was able to use gusts of wind to send the zombies tumbling down a hill, basically saving Ramrod from death. That was one test, one "easy mode" test where I gave them a lot of leeway to save him.

Then the group went into the shrine. I deleted the trap rooms and they went right to the shrine of Kubazan.

Preparing for the Tomb: I am really worried about the group going through the Tomb of the Nine Gods. They're going to die! If I was a player, I would die if I went through it. It's really deadly and there are things that do a lot of damage. 

What I'm going to do is sort of "preview" some of the rooms when I can fit it in a way that makes sense. This shrine of Kubazan is an altered version of the actual shrine of Kubazan in the tomb (on page 97, I believe). It involves making offerings and using a frog mask.

In this case, I took the death-trap Kubazan shrine in the tomb, and created a non-deadly version of it. Now the group is familiar with what they'll have to do when they get to page 97 much later on in the campaign, and if they think back to this, they'll have a lot of clues that will help them survive.

I plan on doing this a lot. I think it's a fair way to help them without flat-out cheating or altering the rooms to make them safer.

So the group makes offerings to Kubazan, and a "spirit shard" of Kubazan posses Hoppy, the group's froghemoth. He tells them about the trickster gods, Acererak, the puzzle cubes and the Tomb of the Nine Gods.

He gave them the boon of Kubazan, which will last for a few days. The heroes each have a 23 strength! I like the boons and I just thought it would be fun to sprinkle them through the city and jungle sections of the adventure.


On the way back to the pirate ship, the group heard screams. 30 zombies had surrounded two pirate NPCs, one of which is the group's friend, Punchin' Pearl Smitty. The idea here was to drive home the idea of the death curse. If Pearl dies here, she's dead, period. If the group can't get rid of the death curse, their friend cannot be brought back!

The group was on a cliff 30 feet above the zombie horde. What did Ramrod do? He jumped down into the horde! Now I was thinking.. he might die here for good. What can you do? Let's just play it out and see what happens. One pirate NPC died. Pearl went down and was dying.

Mistletoe climbed down and used gust of wind to make space, pushing zombies back. Val teleported into the horde to try to save Pearl. She was immediately dropped to 0 hit points!

Now I was looking at a potential TPK! Yikes. Hoppy the froghemoth jumped down and squashed 4 zombies.

The Indiana Jones Rule: Zavagor swung down on a rope, letting out a wave of flame as he swung by the horde. For this one, I used another of my little rules. "If it is awesome, it happens." Rolls are merely to determine how awesome it is.

So, in one round, he tied a rope around his waist, the other end around a tree, swung down on the rope and cast a spell. Deciding how far to bend the rules is very tricky, but players love it so much and it tends to electrify the game when done in moderation.

I want my game to be like Indiana Jones movies. If somebody does something Indiana Jones-y, I'm going to bend over backwards for them. Not all the time, but when it feels right.

A zombie clamped down on Mistletoe's ear. Zavagor's momentum swung him back. Mistletoe grabbed on and swung with Zavagor up to the safety of the cliff. The zombie bit off part of Mistletoe's ear. Later, the pirates made him a wooden peg-ear.

I allowed the group to plow through zombie squares. It happens in zombie movies, and the group has a 23 strength, so what the heck. Ramrod picked up Val and Pearl. He ran through the horde, taking quite a few attacks of opportunity. He was able to outrun the horde. Val rolled a natural 20 on her death save! She reached across and stabilized Pearl.

That's when the group realized that Hoppy was alone in the middle of the horde, getting swarmed! That's where we stopped.

Good session! The next one is another dinosaur race, where I tested my new rules. It went great!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DrivethruRPG Planescape - Planes of Chaos


You can buy this right here.

DrivethruRPG has been slowly rolling out new print versions of old D&D products. I always keep my eyes peeled for Planescape stuff. It's been painfully slow going, so far.

I saw that they actually took one of the old Planescape boxed sets and put it all in one giant book! I was very intrigued. Those old sets come with 5-6 booklets and around 6 poster maps.Would they include the maps? Would the page numbering be all weird?

I ordered it on Thursday, and it got here today (Tuesday). Very fast!

The boxed set is called Planes of Chaos. It details the chaotic-aligned planes like the Abyss, Limbo, Pandemonium, stuff like that. Way back when, I was a kid with very little money. I went to the store one day with enough cash to buy either Planes of Chaos, Planes of Conflict, or Planes of Law. I didn't even blink. I bought Planes of Law. I've always loved the idea of using lawful good entities as the antagonists. Traditional evil villains are boring to me.

I did eventually get Planes of Chaos, and it is very good.

So, how is it in book form? It's awesome. If you have any interest in this at all, buy it! It's $20! The original price of the boxed set was $30, if I remember correctly.

This book is huge! Bigger than the 5e PH!
  
 
One of my favorite things about these old Planescape books is that they're loaded with art. Tons and tons of DiTerlizzi stuff. It's mind-boggling.

A few months ago, I bought another DriveThruRPG Planescape book - Faces of Sigil. I didn't like the spine on that one. It just didn't look right. The spine on this one looks perfectly fine. It's got the Planescape font and everything.

I love this thing, but there are nits to pick. Again, this is the easiest thumbs up ever, but this book is not perfect. There's a few things to point out.

Border: These are made from scans of books. The original books had no border. For some reason, there's a white margin/border around most of the pages. Why? It looks crappy.

Contrast: The page scans are inconsistent. Some pages have very dark text, while others have very light text. I think this would have had to been fixed in the initial scanning phase. You can fix this in photoshop, but going page by page would be very tedious.

It's very noticeable, though. Some of the art is too faint. You can fix it in about 20 seconds in photoshop, so it's a bit of a bummer. As an example, here's one of the ones that are too dark/black:

Page Spreads: They put the poster maps on two-page spreads, which I found to be a pleasant surprise. But.. Because of the binding, the middle of the map is hard to see without tearing your book in half.

I don't really know what else they could have done, though. It must be expensive to print poster maps..? I would have been happy if they made poster maps of just the useful game stuff and stuck the black and white city art in the book, but I assume printing poster maps would make this much more expensive.

It is weird seeing a booklet back cover in the book.

Those poster maps came folded up in the original boxed set, so a scan will have creases. They did a pretty good job removing the crease lines, but some are still quite visible. This is another thing you can clear up in photoshop with the clone tool in about 5 minutes.

Surprise: For some reason, there's a Mystara hex map in the back of the book.


Mistake? It looks like they had a few pages to fill. Too bad they couldn't have put some cool obscure Planescape thing in there to fill up the space. Concept art, notes from the authors, old Planescape articles from Dragon Magazine, that kind of thing. They could have put that Monte Cook "Infernal Fortresses" article in here, as that directly expands on the Abyss material.

Overall


Aside from some ultimately minor presentation issues, this thing is awesome. The 5e DMG doesn't have a lot of info on the planes! This gives you a TON of material to use, complete with a big pile of adventure scenarios. There's a lot of new monsters, too. Really great book! Definitely check it out.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Argol's Comprehensive Guide to Infrastructure

 
You can buy Argol's Comprehensive Guide to Infrastructure right here.

Today we'll take a look at a DMs Guild product that focuses on building settlements and fortresses in a D&D campaign.

This is something I've been interested in from my firt campaign. One day, the group sat down and mapped out their sections of the keep they had decided to have built. This became Moonstone Keep, which still stands in my setting today.

In my current Planescape campaign, the heroes own three businesses, a mansion in Sigil and two mansions in the Elemental Plane of Earth. I came up with a vague system to track their income and expenses, but it' pretty shabby.

This book goes into great detail, outlining a very deep system that allows your group to grow a settlement or structure all the way through their adventuring careers. Many times, groups end up with lots of gold and nothing to do with it. This book gives them something very cool to put their wealth into.

The first question I had is: "Who's Argol?" The author told me that Argol is one of his D&D characters. I like when people present their own iconic D&D creations, that's one of the fun things about the DM's Guild.

There's a list of different types of settlements. As an example, a hamlet is 2 farms, 10 homes, 2-4 market stalls, 2 mines, and adequate defenses. This will house 40-80 citizens.

If you want to start building a place, you buy a plot of land. You pay for it using build points", an abstract way to select types of places you want to build.

There are level requirements mixed in. You must be 4th level to own a settlement, 8th level to run a hamlet (which costs 10,000 gp, aka 10 build points), and 18th level to run a large city (which would cost 55,000 gp).

It costs 1,000 gp for a build point. My character, Endarian Nimbus, has over 20,000 gp, so I could buy a big pile of these. He's 11th level, so he could get himself a village, which is 12,500 gp and requires 10th level.

The village has 350-1500 citizens, 85 homes, and each home has an average of 2 adults and 1 child.

You'll need to pick rulers. I imagine the group would have some NPC friends they could put in charge, or they themselves could do it. Your settlement could have barons, mayors, a senate, whatever they want.

Then we enter the construction phase, where you'll determine what you're making and how long it takes to get all of this built.

There's an optional rule for "town satisfaction". If the group hasn't paid for maintenance on the town, there's a chance it' a ghost town or overrun by bandits.

There are tons of details on how to handle merchants, guilds, and farms. It's got lists of types and the benefits of having them.

You can buy an "immense" plot of land. Building a megadungeon costs 450,000 gp! You're probably better off clearing out a dungeon and just taking it for yourself, right? This book seems to define a mega-dungeon as an underground dwarven fortress, not Undermountain.

The construction time on a mega-dungeon is 8 years! Building a mansion takes 1.5 years.

There's a page of things to add to your mansion, like a library, a greenhouse, or a wine cellar.

Hey... what's this?! "Adultery Based Entertainment"?? In my Planescape campaign, the characters own and operate three such establishments. The description goes over the benefits and elements involved with having these sorts of places in your settlement. Unfortunately, there's no amusing list of adult boutiques and services.

Towards the end of the book, there's a chart of influential events. Part of this system involves tracking your group's influence. This can go into the negatives. If the group hits -100 influence, you roll on the "banes" chart.

Banes include the murder of a visiting political figure, an outbreak of disease, a riot, or a natural disaster.

When the group hits +100 influence, they roll on the "boons" chart. Boons include baby boom, peace, gold rush, arcane wellspring (magic becomes abundant!), or you gain a wonder of the world.

It says that you roll on this chart whenever there is some kind of change, like an invasion or a political shift.

Overall

This book is very well-made. It looks very much like the Player's Handbook, right down to the charts and sidebars.

The system is very deep. It's not something you'd do in 5 minutes per session, its a system that is going to be a big part of the campaign. It's definitely not just an expansion of the downtime business rules.

I think this guide should have a one page summary or outline as to how the whole thing works, as I got a little confused about when to do things and how exactly I determine an influence score.

I love the events, they seem like they could drive a whole campaign.

Basically, if your group is into number crunching, they'll like this a lot. It seems like this type of campaign really isn't done nearly as much as it should be, so it's definitely worth checking out!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation 5 - The Bath House

Lots of stuff going on in Youtubeland!

You can watch this episode here:


I taped an episode of Ruins of Mezro with a new group of players. They were great! We're taping episode 2 tomorrow. I need to get one or two more pieces of art and then episode one will go up.

I also taped episode one of Return of the Lizard King with another group of new players. They also were tremendous - an entire group of spellcasters! It was terrifying. They were 1st level! Return of the Lizard King is broken up into four parts.

We played through the first one, and it is really, really good.It is formatted more like a Pathfinder adventure, which I love. It has couple of really cool NPCs in it, including the Queen of Creeping Vines.

This episode of Tomb was taped a couple of weeks ago. We're about to tape episodes 6-7 on Saturday, which hopefully will wrap up the Port Nyanzaru stuff and we can get into the Jungle of Chult. I love Port Nyanzaru and I have so many ideas for stuff to do that I hate to throw in the garbage. Plus, who knows when we'll even get to do dinosaur racing again, so I feel like we should do it as much as possible now before moving on.

I was excited about running this one, because I got to use the Bath House from Encounters in Port Nyanzaru. The bath house was my favorite scenario in that book. I changed it quite a bit to suit my goofy story, so it's a bit spoiler-y, but fairly different from what's in the book.

The heroes had won passes to the bath house. They'd have the place all to themselves.

The Party

(Ryan) Mistletoe - Human Druid
(Garrett) Ramrod - Goliath Barbarian
(Annalise) Val - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Joe) Zavagor - Half-orc Warlock

When they got there, they were informed that they'd need to leave their weapons in the locker room. They were issued bathing attire: old-timey bathing suits.

I did the bathing suits that way just to be on the safe side, as some people might not like detailed descriptions of banana hammocks or whatever. I'm trying to take the Larry David approach to these youtube games - tackle adult topics in a polite way. Like the episode of Seinfeld where they had the masturbation contest. The word "masturbation" was never uttered, but they still told the story. It's a fun creative challenge.

There are 4 baths in the bath house. Each grants a special effect, such as 10 temporary hit points and things like that. There's also magic juices that dole out the effect of potions! Potion of haste, potion of giant strength, all sorts of stuff.

There's a water elemental guarding this place. There's no running! If you move more than half your speed in a round, the water elemental comes after you.

My water elemental was a crabby water-dude who was in charge of making the juices. He was extremely intense about the "no running" thing. The group immediately began to troll him, moving 14.9 feet in a round, taking 5 rounds to walk 15 feet, all sorts of stuff. The water elemental was furious but was contractually obligated to do nothing until they broke the rules.

Zavagor drank a juice that gave him a 21 strength for an hour. Boom, he bulked up instantly, look at that striation! Pecs, chest, give it to us!

That's when the bad guys entered. While the adventurers were bathing, the Green Vipers broke in, went into the locker room and stole the group's two pieces of the dreamer's amulet. The vipers had obtained one piece on their own, so now there's only one piece left to be found.

Jim Crank hates Ramrod, so he jumped into Ramrod's pool and started stabbing away with his two poisoned daggers. Ramrod flipped out and started drowning him.

Deidre the Slinker popped out of the shadows. A session or two ago, Val had devastated her in a battle of wits with: "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"

Deidre had brought a list of witty rejoinders, so she started rattling them off. Val was in a salt bath. Val... right off the top of her head, responds to a jab with: "Don't be so salty."

The players began waving their arms in the air, which seems to be our group's way to declare verbal devastation.

Ledarius slid into the pool and got angry when the group wouldn't feed into his catchphrase. They are supposed to ask him: "What are you doing here?" so he can answer with a shrug, "Just vipin'".

Nara got in Mistletoe's hot tub and he successfully hit on her. They pretty much came to an agreement that they'd work together on this whole death curse thing.

Nara mentioned that agents of Cheliax are coming. Cheliax is from Pathfinder - it's a kingdom of devil worshipers. I plan on running a 5e version of Hell's Rebels at some point in in the future, so I'm starting to work that stuff in now.

In my campaign, the hell knights of Cheliax will take the place of the Red Wizards in Tomb of Annihilation. I have been working out their leader's voice and quirks. Right now, his name is Heinrich Von Pummel, but that might change.

As Zavagor tried to stop Ramrod from killing Jim Crank, who of course was rolling really low, Ladarius asked Val out on a date and she said yes! I'll have to work that in to one of the next two sessions.

That's where we stopped. The group had more or less trounced the Vipers and had their froghemoth, Hoppy blocking the exit. The group will likely get their pieces of the dreamer's amulet back next time.

Great session!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 64 - Tomb of Annihilation

Episode 64: In Guide We Trust
Today we have a special guest. It is Geoff Robinson, Anna's husband. This episode starts slow but gets really fun once they hit the jungle of Chult.

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Geoff) Chumba - Batiri Goblin

Last time, the hags visited the group at night again, pushing black sacks down their throat. We pick up during that creepy visit. Evelyn sees the hags. They think she's an inanimate object. She tells them not to touch the pies. She wakes up the group and the hags disappear.

The next day, Umbril, the half-orc woman they met last time, introduces the heroes to a goblin. That's Geoff's character, Chumba. He is Umbril's steward.

Umbril is a cleric of Torm and a member of the Order of the Gauntlet.

Chumba is afraid of dolls, so Evelyn and Simon freak him out. Simon tries to hug him and he flees. Simon chases him outside. Chumba collides with Dragonbait, the mute dino-man who communicates through odor.

Umbril says the group will be heading toward a river, and she buys some canoes.

During the last long rest, Strix lost a max hit point due to the death curse.

The group goes to Old City (a section of Port Nyanzaru with ziggurats and bamboo huts) and sees some hanging corpses attracting flies.

Evelyn busts out her D&D My Little Pony dice.

The group comes to executioner's run, where criminals are punished. A man is about to be thrown into a 20-foot-wide, 200-foot-long trench with dinosaurs. A man in the crowd cries out that the victim is innocent. In he goes. Raptors close in on him.

Diath throws some rocks at the raptors. He's drunk.

Strix dimension doors into the pit. Evelyn, Strix, Paultin and Chumba end up in the pit as the raptors chase the prisoner.

Strix casts silent image in front of Paultin. The image is of a big, scarier velociraptor. Evelyn uses magic to chat up the dinosaurs. She tries to make friends and distract them.

Suddenly, a horn and gong sounds all throughout the city. People begin to panic and run for the gates. Umbril says that undead must be attacking the other side of the city.

Dragonbait exudes a bunch of odors, and then indicates that the group should run into the jungle.

Paultin shocks the group when he casts fly and soars out of the pit. Nobody had any idea he could do that! This is another one of those shows where Nate is at 105%. He's becoming really fun to watch.

Everyone can fly except Diath. Strix wants to polymorph Diath into a vulture so he can fly, but Diath doesn't want that.

The group heads into the jungle. Things become more dense and Dragonbait has to use his sword to carve a path big enough for the canoes, which are being carried, to fit through.

They come to cliffs overlooking a great misty bay. Diath realizes that they are being followed... they smell death.

Suddenly, gray-skinned ghouls pile out of the forest and come at them in a wave of claws and teeth.
Anna's pony annihilation dice deliver with a natural 20 on initiative.

Chumba attacks and rolls a critical. Evelyn pummels the undead and then Diath draws Gutter and backstabs a ghoul, destroying it.

Paultin draws the sunsword! Nate points out that the chat had absolutely nothing to do with him using it. He destroys a ghoul with it.

A ghoul slashes Diath. Is he paralyzed from the claws? Yes!

Fight over. Diath shakes off the paralyzation and decides he hates Chult.

The ghouls had blue triangles on their foreheads. Strix knows that the triangle is the symbol of Ras Nsi, the evil warlord who waged war on Chult centuries ago. In his day, he used an army of undead to attack the city of Mezro.

It's getting dark out. Paultin summons the waffle hut for the group to cuddle in for the night. When the hut appears, a red silk robe also appears on Paultin.

The group worries that the hags will come back, but have no choice but to go to sleep. Evelyn does not sleep, because since she is a construct, she doesn't need sleep except to recharge spells.

The hags show up in spectral form  and ride the group... guh...Chris goes with a very explicit description. The hags slice open Diath, Paultin and Strix from chest to groin. They pull out the sack sand retrieve a maggot-like worms that are 5 feet long. Soul larvae!?

Soul larvae from the Savage Tide adventure path
The larvae are placed in each hero's chest cavity and sewn back up.

We learn that Diath, Paultin and Strix now each have a second soul - an evil soul locked in their bodies. If they were to die, the Soulmonger could take that soul instead. So... if Evelyn dies...? Makes me nervous.


That's where we stop!

No game next week - they're getting ready for TwitchCon. TwitchCon on Sunday, there will be a live Dice Camera Action game. Geoff will be there playing Chumba, and a second special guest.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Adventures in Eberron - The Rogue Card

We played some more Eberron yesterday. My sorcerer is now 11th level. I can cast disintegrate!

In this one, we threw caution to the wind and drew a bunch of cards from the deck of many things. Then, I came very, very close to dying and we ended up in a really bad spot at the end.

Last time, we were about to be killed when our fighter used one of his deck of many things effects to wish it away.

We woke up.. the elder brain was gone. We survived! We made our way of the place, and appeared back in the far realm-touched house. We got a couple of keys and opened a treasure vault.

My character now has over 20,000 gold! Maybe I should gamble it on something. That would be fun. Is there a casino in Sharn?

The whole point of this was to get a harp for an NPC ally. It turns out that she wanted to use it to kill our party fighter! The first time we drew from the deck, the fighter and I both drew the "rogue" card, which means an NPC out there has magically been compelled to try to destroy us.


So we're in our bar (which hasn't opened yet, but will soon) and she uses the harp to summon the ghost of her dad. The ghost tries to kill the fighter. Our wizard tackled the NPC and beat her with a quarterstaff until she was unconscious. The fighter began battling the ghost-thing.

I grabbed the harp, ran outside and flung into the air. Then I cast fireball on it. This damaged the harp and the ghost. I couldn't believe the harp was still intact!

I looked around. There's this warforged who has a hot dog cart that we've made friends with a while back. I stuck the harp in the boiling hot dog water and yelled for every that it was going to blow. Then I fireballed the cart and boom, the harp was destroyed. The ghost vanished.

From there, we had no idea what to do with this NPC. The magic of the card was continually going to compel her to try to kill the fighter. Only a wish spell or divine intervention could end the effect. We actually still had a wish from our previous draws, but I thought it was a waste of a wish.

We threw around a bunch of ideas and somehow we settled on using the deck of many things to try to get another wish. Our wizard, who is very level-headed, really hated the idea but we out-voted her.

So... I started out with wanting to draw just one card. I declared that I was "due" for a good one. I drew... the Fool. I lost XP and had to draw another card.

Guess what that card was? Rogue! I now had another NPC enemy out there in Eberron. It was hilarious and horrible.

The fighter decided to try. ROGUE! I swear! The deck was shuffled immensely! How is this possible?! Now the fighter has another secret enemy.

I can't remember who drew the next two, as it was utter chaos. But wither the fighter or I drew another card: ROGUE. ANOTHER ROGUE.

I think I drew again, desperate to dig us out of this hole as the wizard pointed out that she thought this was a terrible idea from the start.

I drew.... The Fool. Again! Lost XP, had to draw one more card. I drew: Fates.

The fates allows you to ask a question from an otherworldy entity and get an answer. I asked about removing the effect on our NPC friend and didn't learn too much except that one of my 'rogue' enemies is Corellon, god of the elves! Correllon wants to kill me!

Once we calmed down from all that stuff, we decided to finally bite on an adventure hook that had been dangled in front of us for a year. We had dinner with some government officials. This turned into the sidekick of the evil of Sharn crashing the party and having a meeting with us.

This is apparently one of the leaders of Daask
Here's the deal:
  • Our senator friend has contracted a rare illness.
  • The bad guys can cure her if we do something for them.
  • The back guys want to abduct an alchemist who is hiding out with Daask (I didn't read this link because I don't want spoilers, but I thought you might be interested).
  • Our job is to create a distraction so that the bad guys can abduct the alchemist.
We left and told them we'd need a few hours to decide. After much debate, we agreed that this was a set-up but that we should just go and see what happens. We also agreed that we were going to make ridiculous demands for compensation.

We went back. I demanded an airship. I had settle for repairing a crashed one. My character was an airship pilot in the Last War, so my character has a thing for airships. The wizard was granted access to the secret archives of Sharn. I don't remember what the fighter got.

There are a bunch of ways to get to the underground lair of House Daask. We used a door that ended up being guarded by a roper. That roper grabbed me and bit me, dropping me to about half my hit points in a few rounds. We killed it and went inside.

There was 8 teleporting hobgoblin monks in here. We nearly had a TPK. I actually went down and was given a potion of healing, so I currently have 7 hit points. We haven't even gotten to the place we're going yet! I still have spells, but one hit and I'm down! We don't have a healer and potions of healing are illegal in the city.

That's where we stopped! Was awesome. The deck adds so much to D&D, it's really fun. I love random effects. I know it's not for everybody, but if I'm a player, I always want those as a part of the game.