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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 70 - Tomb of Annihilation

Episode 70: The Serpent Eats the Sun Ross is back, playing the goblin Wumba. Wumba was not on good terms with the group when they parted ways, so this should be interesting.

The Party

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

The heroes just left the city at the center of the multiverse known as Sigil. Diath immediately destroys the portal key, which is described as a christmas tree air freshener.

I wonder if the christmas tree opening doors to Planescape is some kind of hint about what's around the corner in D&D land.

The people at the camp have fended off the undead. The group reunites with Waffles, Dragonbait and Paultin. Anna does an epic super-fast recap of everything he missed.

The leader of this camp, Commander Breakbone, is on top of a table ordering his captain to kill the baby grungs that are on the floor all around them.

Diath jumps up on the table next to Breakbone, pretends he was cursed by a frog and convinces Breakbone to run for his life. Diath points out that Breakbone isn't fit for duty. The captains agree, but they are stuck with him.

Evelyn leaves a note for "Carrot." Hmmmm

Time for the group to go to Orolunga, where there is an oracle that can help them figure out this whole death curse thing.

The group travels for 3 days. Strix refuses to sleep, worried that more enemies from Sigil will track her down. She doesn't suffer exhaustion, but she is frazzled.

On day 4, they come upon a burnt section of ground. It is in a pattern. The symbol of Dendar.! Apparently this is Wumba's doing.

There's a dead dinosaur nearby. Strix approaches it and checks it out.


Creatures burst out of it.  Su-Monsters! Chris says they unleash a "mind shriek"! All 4 attack Strix. She fails one save. She takes 13 psychic damage and is stunned.

Nets drop down from the trees. Ross insists these nets aren't meant for anyone in particular. They're neutral nets. Net neutrality! OK, that was exquisite.

Strix shakes off the stun. Diath cuts his way out of the net.

Wumba's turn. Ross has been sitting off camera for about 10 minutes. Then he dab-slides on camera. Wumba is on on the back of a pterafolk.

Wumba lands and plays it cool. He walks up to Diath... and punches him in the groin!

Paultin casts levitate on Wumba. It works. He's hovering one foot above the ground.

Strix gives the su-monsters food and asks them to leave her alone. Wumba tries to air swim over to Strix, but it doesn't work out.

The pterafolk's names are Pterry and Pterrance.

Paultin reveals that Wumba killed his goblin brother, Wumba, while escaping the trapped shirne a few sessions back.

Strix gets tired of Wumba's rambling. Strix... fireballs him! Wow..

29 damage! Wumba is down and dying. He's still floating. Paultin is maintaining concentration. One pterafolk died as well.

Ross rolls a 20 on his death save. Wumba's up with one hit point! The group is outraged.

Someone in chat points out that wumba "got up again." Well done!

Strix drops another fireball and kills 3 su-monsters.

Wumba turns invisible. Apparently he has an invisible demon ally. Wumba orders it to attack. Evelyn casually decapitates the last su-monster.

The demon is a quasit, a very minor demon.

Wumba turns invisible. He's on the ground. Standing over him is... Waffles! The group loves this. Ross is dejected.

Waffles successfully perceives him even though he's invisible. She claws him for 10 points. She's eating him.

Diath walks over to Waffles and dabs as Wumba is devoured.

Evelyn annihilates the quasit with divine smite.

Suddenly, Strix falls to the ground. She's asleep.

A crack opens in the earth around the heroes. The earth peels back like a gigantic mouth.

A massive serpent with purple-black scales rises up. It looms over the group, 80 feet above them. It's Dendar!

Diath runs over and tries to awaken Strix. She has to make a Con save. She makes it!

The serpent roars and disappears into vapor.

Strix.. falls asleep again! Holly declared it! Oh man. Dendar's back.

Evelyn tells Diath to let her sleep. Then she casts compelled duel!! Good god. She is entering into a one-on-one battle with a deity.

Dendar seems to be endlessly long.

Paultin actually helps Evelyn, giving her bardic inspiration.

Strix wakes up again. The serpent becomes mist once more.

Th heroes figure out that this has something to do with wumba's relationship with Dendar. It might also have to do with the fact that the group is standing on dessicated ground.

It's not the real Dendar.. It's a facsimile of some kind, maybe an avatar or aspect.

Waffles poops out Wumba's whistle. That's where we stop!


Overall

Fun episode! I like Ross. He brings a lot of energy to the game. I can see the trolling getting old really fast, but I have no problem having him pop in every once in a while.

Anna was super-sharp tonight. The challenge was pretty epic, and the group's reactions were very cool and appropriate. Nate was definitely on the ball, tonight, too. Definitely a good show all around!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 69 - Tomb of Annihilation


Episode 69: PAX Sub Optimal
This is a live show at Pax Unplugged! The players have their gear on. Holly looks so good. Anna has robot face paint on, and Jared is decked out in Diath attire.

We have a special guest for this one. It is fantasy author and Acq, Inc. member, Patrick Rothfuss! He'll be playing a character who appeared on Critical Role: Kerrek.

The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Patrick Rothfuss) Kerrek - Human Paladin

The heroes are in the jungle of Chult. They're freed two prisoners and are making their way back to Camp Vengeance. They are hoping to broker peace between the grung and the Order of the Gauntlet.

Once they get there, they see the camp is under attack by a massive zombie horde!

Patrick's character, Kerrek, had arrived in the camp a few days prior. He was inside a crate. There's a joke in here that people think his name is "Carrot."

The group puts together a plan to deal with the zombies. We later learn that the players brought a pile of tiny rubber frogs that they were going to throw around. There were frog sounds cued up and everything. This plan never came to fruition.

Strix drops a fireball on them. Evelyn casts Moonbeam. It is chaos. Then, a portal opens. 3 figures step through. The people who step through:

Karas the Invincible: A mercykiller from Sigil (!) who wears rusty, blood red armor adorned with spikes. He's got a sword in one hand and shackles in the other.

2 Chronikers (?): They are wearing golden robes wearing tight-fitting helms. They have staffs
They are constructs from Mechanus - robotic, tall and svelte. Cut into their chests are ticking clocks. We are told that they "impose the will of the multiverse."

Karas throws magic shackles at Strix. The clamps tighten around her ankles. Strix falls. she had some frogs in her garb, who desperately hop toward the jungle. Chris ponders aloud if this will be the beginning of a "Green Frogs" catchphrase.

Here come some modrons, too. They are coming after Evelyn.

Karas says that "the Skizzix Kharym (?) is waiting for you." The mercykiller says he is taking Strix back to her family. Chris uses voice effects that echo through the building. Holly hides under  the table.

Evelyn charges the mercykiller and does a pile of damage to him with treebane. She does a total of 52 points.. good gawd.

Sigil, the City of Doors

Karas tells his chronikers to destroy everything. He tries to haul Strix through the portal, but Strix wins the opposed Strength check.

Kerrek does a pile of damage to Karas on an opportunity attack, as does Evelyn.

One of the chronikers has a clock on its chest. It's ticking down. It's going to blow in 5 rounds.

Diathn runs over and actually removes the shackles from Strix's ankles. He grabs Strix and runs.

Strix tries to polymorph him... she wants to turn him into a frog. He makes his save. Green frog?

The broom bloodies Karas and Evelyn tries to chuck the ticking guy through the portal. Nope.

Karas snaps the broom! No! The group is quite unhappy.

Diath stabs ticking bomb guy. He was keeping the portal open. He fails his concentration check, and the portal is off.

Karas grapples Diath and pulls him onto his spikes. Another portal flares open. Diath is pulled through.

The heroes follow and we get a description of 5e Sigil:

They emerge on a street lined with buildings covered inh razorvine. They see a train go by? A train? Like Eberron?

When they look out and up, they see that the city seems to curve up and there is more city high above them. They're near a flower shop with weird plants in it.

Karas says to Diath, "You're not what I wanted, but the Skizzix Kharym (?)will take you for half the price. They don't like your kind very much."

Now Diath has a new name. "Discount Diath."

When Strix, Evelyn and Kerrek come through the portal, Karas says: "My lucky day. Two for the price of one."

The fight continues as citizens of Sigil gawk at the group.

The players are drinking from an actual wineskin that apparently has wine it.

After some more fighting, Kerrek drops Karas the Invincible. The man inside turns into a cloud of mist, some kind of blood mist ghost thing.

Chris points out that some mercykillers have special abilities. If this blood mist spirit-thing returns to the Mercykillers HQ, Karas can reform.

The group gets into a dispute. Evelyn wants to hand herself over. Diath wants to get the other two back to Chult so he can investigate.

Kerrek kills the blood ghost. Evelyn looks at him with clockwork heart eyes.

Diath notices some creatures in the crowd. He sees two tieflings arguing. One is a  woman, short and old. The other is a male, tall and proud. They seem to be arguing. One wants to intervene in some way, the other thinks it is a bad idea.

A human steps out of the crowd. He takes his helmet off. Kerrek can see that half of his face is angelic, the other half is human. He's an aasimar.

Diath doesn't see that. To him, the guy just looks like a human. The stranger gives Diath a look. Diath realizes that this is the man who gave him the mysterious key ring so long ago.

Shockingly, the group tuens to go back to Chult. What are they, nuts? Diath turns to Kerrek and says, "We never got your name."

He pauses and then replies, "It's Carrot."

Then the group goes back through the portal.That's where we stop!

Overall

They actually went to Sigil, which is awesome. You definitely get the idea that one of the next D&D  products is planes-related. The newer unearthed arcanas deal with plane-touched races, there's the arcanaloth in Tomb, and other things here and there.

I really wonder what they're going to do about the faction war. Did it happen in canon? Did things revert back to what they were? I'd like it if they switched it back but maybe got rid of a few factions - there were too man. It got confusing.

Very good show! It was quite amazing to see the group actually go to Sigil, if only for a short while.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to the Medusa

The medusa is a D&D monster ripped from real world mythology, a feared villain who can turn your character into stone with a glance.

Medusas don't get used too much, so I decided to dig around and see what cool ideas are out there waiting to be used. I went through all the D&D products I could and pulled out any interesting medusa-related material that I came upon.

AD&D 1st Edition Monster Manual


Here's what we learn:
  • Medusas dwell in dark caves.
  • They're lawful evil.
  • Their gaze turns creatures to stone unless the victim can succeed on a saving throw vs petrification.
  • "If an opponent averts his eyes, the medusa rushes up so that its asp-like head growth can bite at the victim."
  • Here's where it gets really brutal. If you are bit by one of the hair-snakes, you must save vs. poison or die!
  • If a medusa's gaze is reflected back at it, the creature will turn to stone.
  • They speak the medusa language as well as common.
  • They can see into the astral and ethereal planes. Their stone gaze is effective on those planes. Some cruel DM out there probably did some pretty messed up stuff with this.
  • The body of a medusa is "quite shapely and human."
  • The face of a medusa is horrid. Her snaky hair writhes and she has glaring, red-rimmed eyes.
AD&D 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual
The Monstrous Manual has two versions of a medusa: a medusa and a greater medusa.

Medusa: Lots more details:
  • Snakes are up to one foot long.
  • "It will use its attractive body to lure males nearer while staying in the shadows."
  • They kept it. It's still save or die if you are bitten by a snake.
  • "It retains its petrifying gaze after death." The heads decay within a month and lose the ability.
  • Their homes are full of flickering shadows.
  • They keep some statues, shatter others.
  • No mirrors in her lair.
  • Reflections in water or polished stone have no effect on a medusa.
  • Medusas are infrequently driven to mate with humanoid males. This results in the male's death.
  • After mating, it lays 2-6 eggs that hatch in 8 months.
  • Hatchlings are baby girls with stubby green tentacles. They are revolting to look at, but they cannot petrify with their gaze until adolescence. At age two, their serpent hair comes alive and gains the lethal poisonous bite.
Greater Medusa: Not too much detail on this one:
  • They have serpentine bodies in place of a lower torso and legs.
  • They are 10-20 feet long.
  • They are covered in fine scales.
  • They use bows and poisoned arrows.
  • Their blood is so poisonous that even after one has been killed, touching its body still requires a save vs poison.

 
Maedar: There have been a few tabs at making a male medusa. The maedar are the most prominent:
  • They do not have petrifying gaze.
  • Muscular, hairless humanoids.
  • Can turn to stone to flesh with their touch.
  • Can walk through stone.
  • Immune to petrify/poison/hold monster/slow spells.
  • Only 1% of medusa eggs are maedar. 25% are male medusae! All others are humans who die at the sight of their mother.
Glyptars: This is where it gets weird:
  • A glyptar is a rock crystal animated by the spirit of a maedar. When a maedar has foreknowledge of it death, it can transfer its life force into the rocks.
  • Their spirits are trapped within gemstones such as feldspar and amethyst.
  • If removed intact from the ground, its spirit can animate the crystal and anything inorganic attached to it. If it is set into the eye of a stone statue, its life force animates it as a golem!
  • If a glyptar is set into the pommel of a sword, it can be animated to strike as if it were wielded by the living maedar.
D&D 3rd Edition Monster Manual

They had a hard time letting go of the "well-proportioned body" thing: "Though at first glance this creature appears to be a well-proportioned human, a closer look reveals a hideous face crowned with a mass of writhing, hissing snakes instead of hair, eyes glowing a deep, feral red, and scaly, earth-colored skin."

So what's the deal with this well-proportioned menace?
  • Medusas prize art objects, fine jewelry, and wealth.
  • Medusas usually use a veil to hide their face.
  • They are found in every climate. Some live in cities and are active in the criminal underworld.
  • They speak common. No reference to the medusa language.
  • Their poison no longer insta-kills. It does a bit of poison damage now.
D&D 4th Edition Monster Manual
Are you ready for male medusas? Let's kick it:
  • Female medusas use their gaze to turn other creatures to stone.
  • "Male medusas use their gaze to poison the minds and bodies of their victims before hacking them to pieces, and their lairs are painted with the blood of fallen prey."
  • Male medusas do not have snake hair, but their blood is more poisonous. Their gaze "ravages the mind and body, leaving its victims dazed, weak and ripe for killing."
  • It is possible to close your eyes while fighting a medusa, but fighting it blindly is rarely a good choice.
  • They desire wealth, power and influence in humanoid societies.
  • A brood of medusas might rule over a terrified populace a a royal family, or one medusa might run an assassins guild.
  • "The blood of a medusa can reverse petrification." Apply a few drops of the blood of a medusa that was killed within the past 24 hours to the lips of a petrified creature and succeed on a DC 20 Heal check.
  • Medusas readily consort with creatures of greater might. They work with yuan-ti and hold them in high regard.
Medusa Archer (Female): A medusa specialist.
  • They have longbows and use poison arrows.
  • Their petrifying gaze affect all within 25 feet and progresses in stages. Slowed, then immobilized, then petrified.
Medusa Warrior (Male): Medusa dudes. Medududes.
  • Fights with 2 poisoned long swords at the same time.
  • Also uses a longbow with poisoned arrows.
  • Venomous gaze - their gaze dazes and weakens, but does not petrify.
Medusa Shroud of Zehir (Female): Some medusas work with the yuan-ti.
  • They can attack and move around without provoking.
  • Snake hair does acid and poison dmg.
  • They have a petrifying gaze like the medusa archer.
Allied Creatures:
  • Basilisks (venom-eye basilisks)
  • Snaketongue zealots
  • Grimlocks
  • Gargoyles
  • Yuan-ti malisons and abominations.
Monster Vault

These updated 4e medusas are "Lithe females with snakes for hair whose glance poison body and mind of powerful males."

Lots of Lore:
  • Medusas are now fey creatures. Some believe they are the cursed descendants of elves. Others think that they are betrayers who willingly bowed to Zehir and helped slaughter an entire city of eladrin. 
  • Some even think that they are the progeny of yuan-ti and basilisk blood, created to be a slave race to the yuan-ti.
  • Scholars theorize that Zehir remade dragonborn or humans into medusas after the Dawn War.
  • All medusas have scaled bodies, forked tongues and snakelike eyes.
  • Males are bald-headed. Females have dozens of poisonous snakes for hair.
  • No female can turn another female to stone, but only special males are immune to their mates petrifying glares.
  • The females rule. The males are hunters, guardians, scouts and mates. Only males immune to petrification can rise above females in medusa society. Such males get special treatment.
  • Medusas think they are destined to rule over other humanoids.
  • Some claim godhood and demand worship, others tout themselves as oracles.
Medusa Bodyguard: These guys have a mind-venom gaze. When someone attacks a medusa, the bodyguard can react and stun the attacker with a cone that harms all enemies in the blast.

Medusa Venom Arrow: Her serpent hair does poison damage and gives -2 to saving throws.
Her poisoned arrows slow you.

Medusa Spirit Charmer: Her spirit charm hits all enemies within 25 feet, and if they do not end their next turn within 10 feet of the medusa, they take 3d6 dmg. Awesome power alert: Swords to Snakes! The target's weapons and implements turn into snakes. This affects a 15 foot cube of people.

Cure for Petrification: "The willing kiss of the medusa that petrified the creature." The medusa might do this to interrogate the victim or just to mess with them.

D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual

Here is the current version of the medusa:
  • They suffer an immortal curse brought on by their vanity.
  • They lurk in the ruins of their former lives, surrounded by the petrified remains of past admirers and would-be heroes.
  • Mortals sometimes make sacrifices to and beg gods, dragons, archmages, demons and devils for beauty, youth, immortality and the adoration of all who behold them. After years of living like a demigod, they are transformed into medusas.
  • Their homes are ruins covered in thorns and creepers, riddled with obstructions and hiding place.
  • The curse: By looking vainly upon its own reflection, it turns to stone as would any living mortal.
  • There are no reflective surfaces in their lairs.
Petrifying Gaze: Con save. Fail by 5 or more, instantly petrified. Fail: Restrained and repeat save at end of next turn. Fail again, become petrified. The petrification lasts until greater restoration or similar magic.

A creature can avert its eyes. It can't see the medusa until the start of its next turn, when it can avert its eyes again. If the creature looks at the medusa in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

OK! Now lets root around for old articles and NPCs.

Dragon Magazine #106 - "Ecology of the Maedar"


Ed Greenwood strikes again! That guy did so much of the heavy lifting when it comes to D&D lore. This article is from the 1st edition days of D&D.

Another name for a maedar is "the stealer through stone".

We get a tale about an illusionist who traveled to the lair of a medusa, tied a mirror across his eyes, and covered himself in his storm cloak. The medusa removed his cowl, looked into the mirror and turned to stone.

The maedar turned her back from stone to flesh. The medusa and the man embraced, and she spoke to him in loving tones.

Here's what we learn about the maedar and medusas:
  • Can turn stone to flesh once every three turns (30 minutes).
  • Maedar can pass through stone like xorns do at their normal movement rate.
  • Medusa treasure hordes contain "a selection of feminine garb that doubles as the medusa's wardrobe."
  • They speak and understand the language of lawful evil, common, and others
  • Medusas produce 1-3 live young every 10 years or so.
  • Medusa offspring become adults in 4-5 years of age.
  • Young are encouraged to strike out on their own.
  • Medusas cannot be truted by their own kind.
Dragon Magazine #296 "Worshipers of the Forbidden"

This is all about people who actually worship a medusa.
  • Snake servants are cultist who revere medusas. They walk a fine line, having to do the medusa's bidding without angering her. They are proxies and middlemen.
  • They set up churches dedicated to the worship of "Shekenster." They mean "Shekinester", who I looked up and will talk about after I finish this section.
  • They corrupt officials, nobles and religious leaders.
  • They are usually rogues.
The cultists accrue special powers as they gain levels:
  • Immunity to the gaze of a medusa.
  • Resistance to poison.
  • Stunning Gaze: They can stun people within 30 feet for 1 round.
  • Immunity to petrification,
  • Medusa Apotheosis: At 5th level, the cultist transforms into an entity more like a medusa. Their skin becomes scaly, eyes become more reptilian, eyelids wither away and are replaced by nictitating membrane. Their eyes never blink again.
  • Those who cease worshiping Shekenster won't lose their medusa apotheosis. They're permanently warped. 
Who is Shekinester? No idea! Google is my friend. It turns out Shekinester is detailed in On Hallowed Ground, an extremely thorough tome that describes every god in D&D and then some.

Shekinester, the Three-Faced Queen: She's god of the nagas. She takes on three different forms.
  • The Weaver: A crone-faced naga who destroys so that creation might come of it.
  • The Empowerer: Bestower of wisdom, asker of riddles.
  • The Preserver: The keeper of light and knowledge, recorder of dead spirits that pass her way.
She lives in the Court of Light, a strange place located in the Outlands.

Ghost Tower of Inverness

The group comes to a clearing, where a robed figure is tending to a garden of roses. "You hear a soft, liquid singing in an unknown tongue with lilting vowels..."

If someone engages her, she turns and lowers her hood. Everyone in the clearing must save or be petrified!

She's got a massive treasure horde in the garden. About 20,000 gold in gems and coins, keoghtom's ointment and bracers of defense.

The Complete Book of Villains


Lady Silith: She's a medusa disguised as an art dealer who creates incredibly lifelike stone statues. Silith always wears a turban and a veil of coins forged into a scaled drape. "She favors silk robes, which accentuate her curvaceous figure, and intricately embroidered cloaks."

She lures good-looking people to her lair so that she can turn them to stone. She has hundreds of petrified victims in her main hall, all of which look like they're at a ghastly festival.

Labyrinth of Madness

I will run this one day! I swear it! There's a room with two greater medusas that I really can't say much about without ruining it. Definitely a nasty trap in there.

Dungeon Magazine #25 - A Rose for Talakara

Another medusa in a garden! Her name is Natasha, a medusa who is vain and an expert musician. This one has hedges and roses of many different colors. The medusa grows black roses for the bad guy, Agrovale.

Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium II

Strahd is not the only Dark Lord trapped in a domain of dread. Another is a medusa named Althea who dwells on a small island called Demise. There is a portal on Demise that leads to a labyrinth of white stone (mostly an illusion). Althea lures adventurers in . She picks one adventurer to be her mate. The rest are killed.

Althea's eyes are like black beads. Her mouth a lipless slit that her forked tongue slips in and out of.
She is sensitive to bright light. Her snakes can spit venom up to 10 feet

Book of Vile Darkness

This book details a number of villains who are particularly grotesque. Siddal the medusa is a masochistic "cancer mage." Siddal lives with Gauderis, a half-orc vermin lord in a cave complex. They are working together to create new, deadly diseases. Gauderis is secretly in love with her, and he actually want her to turn him to stone. He thinks it will feel good.

Dungeon Magazine #93 - Statue Gallery

This is a short adventure involving a medusa named Korakaia who dwells in caverns that hold her collection of petrified victims. The idea here is that not all of the statues are actually statues. The medusa has some pretty clever tricks up her sleeve. There's a magic item:

Amulet of Statues: Once per day, you can use this to cast the statue spell on yourself.

Dragon Magazine #355 - Creature Catalogue IV


Maedar show a fierce devotion to their mates. They can "..take their pick among available medusas."

This article pretty much reiterates what is already known, plus this: "Most medusas have no choice but to mate with blinded or blindfolded human males."

Lady of Poison

This is a forgotten realms novel whose main character is actually a half-medusa paladin. Pretty cool!

Dungeon Magazine #194 - Daask

This article details medusas in Eberron. I'm playing in an Eberron campaign and don't want to spoil it for myself, so here's a link that I assume will give you the info you need.

Princes of the Apocalypse

I forgot about this guy! Earth Prophet Marlos Urnrayle is a.. male medusa. He was a vain, good-looking man who got a ring that held a fey spirit that kept him looking good as he aged. One day, it turned him into a medusa.

He runs the earth cult. Makes sense, since he turns people to stone! Marlos likes to keep the stone faces of his victims and destroy the rest.

Out of the Abyss

Neheedra Duskryn: She was a drow priestess of Lolth who planned to turn Blingdenstone into a drow enclave. This was never to be, as the magical pacts she had made to aid her turned her into a medusa. She turned her servants to stone and went mad. She still looks similar to a drow. Her hair-snakes are white.

Tomb of Annihilation

Zalkore: She was once royalty in the city of Omu, but she was forced to leave when she made a pact with an erinyes to become a medusa.

She ended up killing her husband, mistakenly thinking he had betrayed her. Now she sits in the ruins of Nangalore, hallucinating that he's still with her. Weirdly enough, his ghost just might show up depending on what adventurers do when they meet her.

Links

Medusa Island map
Half-Medusa 3e template

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 68 - Tomb of Annihilation

Episode 68: Grung at Heart

No Nate today! A special announcement about Friday's live Dice, Camera, Action show slipped out on the show before Dice, Camera, Action. If you want to know the secret, watch this clip on Twitch.

The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer

We stopped last week just after the waffle crew killed a bunch of grung (frog-people with poisonous skin). There is a purple baby grung looking at them.

Diath wants nothing to do with it. NPC Paultin actually licks it, starts hallucinating, and wanders off. Strix puts him on a leash.

Diath doesn't want the baby grung. It keeps saying "Yuminugg" or "Yobbnug". Anna theorizes that Chris is setting us up for another "pets" episode. the party would be:
  • Waffles the owlbear
  • Baby grung
  • The severed hand
  • Simon
Anna's my little pony dice are rolling really low. She switches to her tomb of annihilation dice.

The group is attacked by a froghemoth! Strix is grabbed.. it swallows her.. CRITICAL! She's down!

She's going to die... although she does have that evil soul in her, the insurance policy against the death curse.

Diath pulls out Gutter and charges forward. He's going to try to stab it without hitting Strix. Someone utters the phrase:"Strix-shaped bulge".

Dragonbait tries to pull her free, but fails..

Strix takes acid damage. 1 failed death save. Then she rolls, 1 success.

Diath tries to pull her out... natural 20!! She's out.

NPC Paultin is invisible and singing to himself. Dragonbait is swallowed and he starts trying to hack his way out. It works! He tears a hole into the belly of the froghemoth. It regurgitates him back out.

NPC Paultin heals Strix. The froghemoth turns to Evelyn and grabs her. She's hanging upside down. It is bloodied.

The baby grung makes a run for it. Evelyn calls it "Baby Diath".

Strix casts polymorph on the froghemoth. It fails its save! It becomes an axebeak.

Diath helps Strix up. They share a moment. She barfs on him.

The crew continues their journey through the jungle. After an hour, Diath gets a weird feeling. He spots more Grung trying to surround the group. There are a lot of them.

The group starts yelling "Yabanogg."

The grung advance. The baby pops out. The grung point and want the group want to turn around and leave.

Evelyn pantomimes murdering the froghemoth. The group cracks up. She is hilarious.

The grung bring the group to their village. The crew needs to cross a lake.

Strix casts alter self and gives herself gills. She starts swimming. Pirahnas! She takes 22 points of damage. She's down!

Evelyn dives in to save her. Rolls a natural 20 on her perception check. Evelyn pulls Strix out.

The group enters the village. They can see a number of buildings that were burned recently, apparently from flaming arrows.

The grung come out.. there are many different colors of grung. The single gold one looks like the leader.

They put paint on the group's faces, which allows the waffle crew to understand the grung and communicate with them.

The grung explain that the order of the gauntlet has been attacking them. They've captured two human prisoners.

The chief asks the group to get the order of the gauntlet to stop attacking. The grung don't want to leave this area, because the pirahna lake protects them from zombie attacks.

The grung give the group a horn of blasting! Dang. This seems like one of Chris's favorite magic items to give out.

The undead plaguing the grung are coming from the aldani basin (are we heading to Mbala? Or the Heart of Ubtao?). The grung want to work together with the order to fight the undead.

The group talks to two human prisoners of the grung. Their names are Lorsa and Wolf, and they explain that Breakbone is terrified of frogs in general.

Diath is able to get the prisoners freed. He wants to find tons of frogs to freak out Commander Breakbone. Strix collects a pile of frogs.

The group heads toward Camp Vengeance and that night, they rest in the waffle hut.

Strix empties her bag of frogs that she collected. Whoops.. most of them are grung babies. That's where we stop!

Overall

Fun show. I love it when it is just these three players. Don't forget that the PAX Unplugged DCA show is on Friday night, 8:30 PM EST.

Tomb of Annihilation 10 - Tropical Harpies

The heroes continue traveling through the jungle of Chult, searching for the Lost City of
Omu. Their guide, Azaka Stormfang, died when the group fell off the bridge last session. I bought art of her and she died after 2 episodes. Not cool!

You can watch this right here:


I had bought Jungle Treks and I immediately wanted to run the tropical harpies scenario. So, I did!

We had left off last time with Ramrod getting possessed by the ghost of a goblin named Bokadoka. Seeing as how I was robbed of the opportunity of doing my bad Sean Connery voice, I decided to use my "snooty lady" voice. I also got to show off my "woman singing" voice, which always kind of makes people take a step back.

Tangent: When I was going to community college, I'd be home alone with my dog in the mornings. One day, I took advantage of the empty house and began loudly singing in an opera man voice.

I was doing a dramatic, deep version of: "Lay down and boogie, play that funky music... til you DIEEEEEE" and I was holding the last note, cracking myself up. I'm marching around my room singing this stupid song as loud as I can, and suddenly I hear howling.

Stunned, I staggered out of my room, and there's my dog - who had never howled before - singing along with me. The problem was that I was laughing so hard that I couldn't sing with her. She was looking at me like, "what the hell are you doing?"

OK, now that I've told that essential story, we can continue.

There's these skeletons that guard the bottom of the harpy tower. They attacked, and I got a little alarmed. The fight was you-roll, I-roll. No drama, just numbers. I couldn't think of any cool maneuvers to do, so I ended it a quick as I could.


The heroes got into the 3-stories tall harpy tower. The harpies were on the roof. The setup here is that the floors are weak. Crossing the 2nd and 3rd floors require an acrobatics check. Fail, and you fall through!

Val crossed. Ramrod fell through. He tried again. Fell through. Mistletoe tried. Fell through.

At this point, I figured the harpies had heard them.

What followed was an insane battle. where Mistletoe and Zavagor blew up this evil idol on the ground floor (it's the thing on the cover of Jungle Treks).

Val actually climbed in the back of a harpy and rode it around, dodging obstacles and ultimately flying it into a wall.

Ramrod grabbed a harpy on the 3rd floor jumped on it. They both smashed through two wooden floors and crashed on the stone ground below. he tried to flip him so that she landed on him, but he rolled a natural 20 on the opposed strength check.

He killed her. One harpy fled. Mistletoe stopped it with an entangle spell. While the group tried to figure out what to do with her, Ramrod chopped her up with an axe.

It was a really fun session, one of my favorites of the campaign so far.

Due to scheduling, we might not have another Tomb show for a few weeks. I'll be filling the gap with Ruins of Mezro (2 episodes yet to be posted) and Return of the Lizard King (3 episodes yet to be posted).

Jungle Treks is very cool! I look forward to running more DMs Guild stuff.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything - Underworld Speculation

Xanathar's Guide to Everything became available for purchase in game stores the other day. I got it and I should have a review of it up soon. I was also given the special promotional adventure sent to game stores, called "Underworld Speculation", written by Chris Lindsay.

It is a short scenario meant to last 1-2 hours and it comes with pre-generated characters that utilize the new options in Xanathar's. I'm not sure if this will be sold on the DMs Guild. Maybe they will wait a month or two so game stores can run it, then release it?

If you want to watch the session, it is right here on Youtube:


Warning: Major Spoilers! This adventure has some special things in it. If you are going to play through this adventure, you should not read this, as it will lessen your enjoyment of it.

The Party

(Shaun) Lyra - Halfling Rogue
(Brandon) Fosser - Human Cleric
(Matt) Selkie - Human Sorcerer

The group has been in the city of Waterdeep for a few weeks tracking the criminal activities of the Xanathar, the beholder crime lord. They were knocked out and awoke later in a cavern that contained a pool of water as well as a magic orb siting in the center of a magic circle.

The orb reached out to them telepathically. It explained to them that they were prisoners of the Xanathar. Its name was Dawn's Beacon, and it could help them escape.

After some careful study, the heroes saw that it was a magic item of great power. It granted them the power of water breathing, and it had other "legacy" powers it could install in them over time.

The heroes got their water breathing going and dove into the murky water, swimming down and down, looking for an underwater tunnel. They tied themselves to one another with a rope, as the conditions were pretty harsh:
  • Half speed.
  • Visibility of 10 feet!
  • The water tasted grainy.
  • Underwater combat rules (disadvantage on attack rolls unless using a few specific weapons like tridents or daggers).

The heroes were attacked by 2 humanoids that had tentacles instead of legs. One tried to drag Selkie away (she had decided to hold the rope rather than tie it around their waist) but failed.

The group was able to take them down. The rogue did a lot of damage.

Then we came to an area that I didn't quite get. Maybe I missed something. A trip wire in an underwater tunnel? How does that work?

It doesn't matter, because Fosser spotted it and the group was able to avoid it.

They continued swimming and came upon a really tough monster... a flail snail!

This thing has 5 attacks! It can emit radiance that stuns you!

Fosser heroically kept its attention while the others chipped away at it. He used the dodge action to great effect, swimming and evading the dancing flails. Selkie cast create bonfire, which does work underwater.

The bonfire erupted inside the snail's shell and did quite a bit of damage over the course of a few rounds. It used its stunning radiance power, but the entire group made their saving throws!

Lyra sliced off one of its tentacles (when you do 10 or more points of damage in one shot, a tentacle is sliced off). The group defeated it, although Fosser was hurt very badly.

The heroes found an empty side tunnel to rest in for an hour. Once healed, they continued on.

The group emerged in a strange valley. In it was a fortress, 4 clams, and a massive beast that swam far above them.

Something seemed off to the group. I was wondering if they were about to catch it and I almost ruined it by mis-speaking. They decided to go to the fortress.

Descriptive Vagueness: A bunch of "algaepygmies" attacked them. Selkie cast a darkness spell. Watching this back, I don't think I was clear on where the darkness was. Some of the group seemed to think they were all in the cloud of darkness. I thought the cloud had caught only the algaepygmies.

These are the kinds of mistakes I have a hard time avoiding. I have a hard time communicating what's in my head iwith words at the table at that moment. I'm so excited to do the encounter that I sort of take off without the rest of the group having a full understanding of what is where.

Selkie went into the darkness and chopped up some algaepygmies. Others emerged from the darkness. Lyra and Fosser took them down.

The Big Surprise: With the bad guys slain, they looked at the fortress. It was made of one solid block of stone. No windows, no doors. The front gate was held up by a slot.

The light bulb went on. Selke said... "We're in a fishbowl!"

Yup! The group had been shrunk down and placed in the bowl containing Sylgar, Xanathar's prized pet goldfish.

Dawn's Beacon pointed out that if they could swim out of the top, they could escape.

The adventure has a slightly different take. It says that Dawn's Beacon would teleport them out if the group swore a magical vow to one day kill the Xanathar.

I thought it was much more fun to have them try to swim out as Sylgar attempted to eat them!

The heroes wrapped themselves in seaweed and tried to inconspicuously float to the top, which I thought was a hilarious idea.

They got pretty far... then Sylgar came at them. Sylgar has a +9 to hit and over 100 hit points!

It bit Lyra, doing 22 damage. She survived! She swam up and out, vanishing as she emerged from the water.

Then it came for Fosser. It bit him, too, doing 22 damage! He lived! He swam out and the entire group escaped!

Overall

They were genuinely surprised by the twist. It was definitely a unique, fun adventure. When I read it, I wasn't really into it. But, as is often the case, it came off much better in play than I thought it would. This adventure was fun.

I'd tell you to go play this, but I just ruined it for you. If you can get your hands on it, run it for unsuspecting players!

Ruins of Mezro 2 - The Tablet of King Osaw

We played through more of Ruins of Mezro, which you can buy right here.

You can watch this session right here:


The Party

(Shaun) Linnet - Human Druid
(Ashley) Lemuel - Human Rogue
(Jesse) Kyrin - Human Cleric

The heroes were in a large two story building that once held a market, trying to get a stone tablet that was situated in the middle of a zombie horde. It was lodged in the torso of a single zombie.

Theater of the Mind: I had a bit of difficulty describing this place. Half the zombies were on one side, and half were on the other. The first floor was full of lines of tables with products on them. The second floor held offices and desks.

Over-explaining: When you're in the moment, it's easy to either over-explain or under-explain the scene. If you overexplain, some players will tune out and then operate on their limited understanding of the scene. Players aren't keen on piping up and admitting that they don't understand the layout, I think they assumed they missed something.

To combat this, I will often reiterate the basics of the place as we play, to ensure I've communicated the essential details. As soon as I finish reading boxed text aloud, I repeat the bullet points to hammer home the things they need to know.

Under-explaining: If you under-explain, which I often do, each player has their own image of the location that is vastly different from what I had intended.

Accurate Descriptions: I think that when you're running a complicated location, you should probably have some kind of map to show them. Especially if you're running a major encounter!

Also, if a player does something based on misunderstanding the location (for instance, trying to jump a river of lava that they think is only 5 feet wide, not 50) you should rewind. If the mistake isn't realized until much later, you can probably let it go unless it had major consequences.

The Zombie Market: My idea here was that there are crossbeams above the horde. The group could climb on them, drop a rope, and pull up the zombie with the tablet lodged in it.

The group did not do that! They gathered on the second floor and smashed a hole through it, directly above the tablet zombie. They used their weasel, Iris, to draw the horde away. She was killed! She's a familiar, so she vanished and could be summoned again the next day.

I was very alarmed at this point. They were about to lower themselves into a room with 200 zombies!

The group lowered a rope through the hole and climbed down. Lemuel, the rogue, made a beeline for a potion stall that still had some potions intact. There was a zombie hidden under a stall that dragged him under. Linnet ran over to help.

Meanwhile, Kyrin was trying to pull the tablet free of the zombie. Its arms were tied, so it struggled to bite at them. Kyrin kept trying to make strength checks, but the tablet wouldn't budge.

Swarmed: The horde closed in on Kyrin and he was surrounded by about 20 zombies! The dude is 3rd level. I was worried that he would die. The group was able to get the attention of the horde and peel many of them off.

A batch of zombies started crawling under the stalls and tables to get at Lemuel and Linnet. The heroes ended up getting on the tables and jumping from one to the next, making their way toward a window that they could use to escape outside.

Kyrin finally got the tablet free as the zombies bit him a number of times. Then things got worse. Two zombies looked down at him through the hole in the ceiling. They were about to fall through!

He disengaged and fled.

While table-jumping, Linnet crashed through a rotted table and a crawling zombie attacked her. Lemuel got to the window, smashed it open, and called to their guide, Eku, for help.

Eku: Eku is one of the guides from the tomb of annihilation. She has a secret and is a mysterious, friendly old lady.

She came in and used her healing powers to keep the group alive as they made for the window. Thanks in part to Eku, the group escaped with the tablet.

They rested in the building where they'd defeated the goblins. They hated that zombie market and agreed that they were going to burn it to the ground.

The Tablet: They looked at the tablet and were able to figure out that it was a map. There are a bunch of magic obelisks in front of buildings in Mezro. If they are touched in a certain order, they just might open a portal to the real Mezro, which is hidden away in another plane.

Once rested, the group set fire to the market and began touching the pillars in order.

When they got to the library, they sent in to check it out. Zombies were in there, some browsing and some putting books on shelves. My thinking as that a long as the group followed the rules of the library (be quiet, get your books checked out before leaving) the zombies would leave them alone.

The group was amused by this and followed the rules. They found a bunch of books that give them information on the hag Nanny Pu'pu, who Eku had told them about, and the Sewn Sisters, a hag coven. They also read about Ras Nsi and the barae (protectors of Mezro with magic powers).

I had googled the barae, who are mentioned in older D&D products and novels. I described each of them to the group. There are tatues of the barae in the main encounter area of Mezro, so I wanted to set up what could be a very fateful moment in the temple.

That's where we stopped. In the next session, we added a fourth player and the group got hammered with wild magic.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Answering WebDM Interview Questions


Watch WebDM on Youtube here.
Check out WebDM on patreon here.

Today I was on a podcast with Jim and Johnathan Pruitt, the guys from WebDM. We taped a show that will be out next Friday, if I remember right.

We talked about D&D for just about two hours and, somehow, we didn't get to everything. Quite a number of their patrons posted questions for me to answer. I was only able to answer a few, so I figured I'd post the answers to the rest of them right here.


Hunter: Hunter said that his group had kept the little girl from Curse of Strahd as a sidekick, and wanted advice on how to handle it. I assume he is talking about Arabelle, the vistana who is related to Madame Eva.

First, I think you should check out Dice, Camera, Action episode 26. Liisa Lee plays Arabelle and did a great job IMO. Chris set it up where the group needed to kill Arabelle in order to enact a ritual.

Second, I think it would be cool if you played up the mysterious powers of Arabelle and have her be a weird but helpful ally. At certain points in the adventure, she could do tarokka readings that help them out of a jam or give the group some kind of magical boon to aid them in their quest.

The Dark Powers would probably see her as the person who should replace Strahd, so they'd reach out to her now and again. Baba Lysaga might want her as a step-daughter, or maybe the hag wants to eat her.


Daniel: Daniel asked me what influenced me to "smooth out modules" through my guides.

When I was a kid, I didn't know I had ADHD. I also didn't know it was an actual thing that can affect your life until I took medication for it when I was much older. My entire life changed!

Most of the time, I could not read one page of Dungeon Magazine. I'd read the first sentence of an adventure over and over, but I couldn't retain it. Obviously, this made running adventures very difficult.

Eventually, I taught myself to take notes as I read. It helped me retain information and maintain my focus for more than a nanosecond. When I was done, I had a "cheat sheet". Dungeons & Dragons taught me how to study.

Early on in this blog, I was getting ready to run Hoard of the Dragon Queen. As usual, I had pages and pages of hand-written notes that guaranteed I would have no problem running this thing. I was always looking for content to put on this blog, so it seemed like a fun thing to do.

I figured that 5e would have a lot of new DMs who would need help. I started the guide, basically "sharing my work" as I went, so new people could see way to link everything together and all that stuff.


Richard: Richard had two questions. He asked me how I would build a homebrew pantheon and if I had any house rules.

Pantheon: In my experience, players aren't going to remember most of your gods. You can make 20 of them, but the group will probably only deal with a few of them.

The gods that matter in your campaign are the ones worshiped by the party paladin or cleric, the god of healing (if they have churches where people can pay to get diseases cured, raise dead, etc.) and the evil god that's usually the cause of the bad things going on in the world.

If I were going to make a homebrew pantheon from scratch, I'd probably make one god for each alignment. That's a simple, organized way to make 9 distinct entities, and you have a good starting point for each of their personalities.

House Rules: Here's some of my house rules:
  • Floor Dice Don't Count: If your die falls on the floor when you roll it, the roll doesn't count. Some people have a natural tendency to pick it up and re-roll if it's a 1, but they'll keep it if it's a 20.
  • Rape Does Not "Exist": Rape doesn't happen in my campaign except as part of a tragic backstory. Nobody ever considers doing it. I just don't want it in my game. I'm not sure if I ever told the story of how I ran a female character modeled after LaToya Jackson, but you can probably guess what happened. 
  • If It's Cool, It Happens: If someone has an idea that gets me excited, it's happening in some form. I used to let die rolls shut down things that would have been hilarious, but not any more. I think one of the main things we're doing in D&D is mining for cool moments. When you get one, don't throw it in the garbage.


Jacob: Jacob asked what my favorite ways to start a campaign are.

I do a montage of scenes that show off each character. It just involves one die roll. Usually the point of it is to let the player convey their character's personality and style. If it was a TV show, they'd do their cool thing, then the video would freeze with them giving  a thumbs up and their name would appear on the screen for a moment, and then we'd cut to the next character.
 

Robert: I answered some of Robert's questions on the show, but we got sidetracked. He asked me what I recommend for people who want to make their own adventures and content for the DMs Guild.

I made a list:
  • Download the Monster Maker (it's free): It makes stat blocks that look like the ones in the official books.
  • Use the Homebrewery: I don't use this, but it pumps out documents that look nearly identical to the Player's Handbook interior.
  • Art: There are sites that have free art that you can use. Just make sure it's cleared for "commercial use". Pixabay and wikimedia commons have quite a lot of art that is completely free to use. It takes some time to dig through it all.

As far as writing, I'm still learning that side of it. Things I've noticed so far:
  • Try to be succinct and avoid walls of text. Breezy adventures are good, as most people don't have time to read a massive, dense adventure.
  • Look at the work of D&D creators you like and see how they do things. My favorites: Monte Cook, James Jacobs, Bruce Cordell, Michael Curtis and F. Wesley Schneider.
  • Don't under-price yourself! I have no problem paying a couple bucks for a useful book. My experience with pay-what-you-want is that 1 in 10 people pay.
  • Write about what you like. If you used one particular thing in your campaign and made material for it, you should use it. You spent hours and hours creating these ideas and playtesting them, and I think that shines through.
  • The books that generally sell are monster books, new spells and player options. Adventures generally don't sell well. Collections of adventures seem to do very well, though. 
  • Don't be afraid to send your stuff to bloggers to review. Many of them love getting that kind of thing. Just remember that they might not like it, so definitely get a real life friend to give it a look with fresh eyes before you send it out.
Thanks to everyone who sent a question! I loved being on the show and look forward to doing more things like this in the future.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - DDAL07-03 A Day at the Races

You can buy this adventure right here.

A new batch of Adventurers League modules came out, all of which are linked to Tomb of Annihilation. A Day at the Races is the third one, and it primarily deals with a deluxe version of a dinosaur race.

I've read this whole thing and I can say with confidence, if you plan on doing a dinosaur race in your Tomb of Annihilation campaign, buy this and use the event in here. It is tons of fun and full of really great ideas. It sort of kills me inside that my group has already left Port Nyanzaru, as there's no way for me to run this.

Three Parts: This adventure is broken up into three sections. Part 2, the race, is by far the largest section and makes up the vast majority of the adventure.

This dinosaur race event is called Na 'Nbuso's Haka. It is meant to honors kings of Chult's ancient past.

Story: There's been some suspicious stuff going on in recent dinosaur races. Fluke wins, freak deaths, things that have many people concerned that there's cheating afoot. The heroes are going to enter a race and try to figure out what's going on.

Part One: The group registers for the event. They must pick which team name\uniforms they want (there are ten choices). The team choices are based on different creatures in Chult: grung, froghemoth, t. rex (!) and more.

The heroes can gamble on the two races that occur before theirs. 

Part Two: Ok. Ready? This race occurs in four phases: Land, air, sea, and grand prix royale.

First Leg: The group rides on chariots pulled by dinosaurs. We're already done here, right? This is the best thing ever.

Second Leg: The heroes ride pteranodons (!)through the air, attempting to swoop through wide rings of iron. Each rider needs to snatch a ribbon from a ring of iron. Once you get a ribbon, you can harry riders on another team until your entire team has ribbons (at which time the group can advance to the next phase).

Third Leg: The teams must ride on plesiosaurs in the ocean toward a statue in the water. Once at the statue, the heroes must dive in, swim down, grab a brick, get back on the plesiosaur and take it to the warehouse district. Then they need to solve a puzzle.

The mind reels from all of the cool things you can do with this. Imagine you're diving down to get the brick at the same time that a rival is. Underwater brawl? Shark attack? Playful dolphins? Aremag appearance?!

Final Leg - Grand Prix Royale: The entire group rides on one triceratops and races to the finish. The characters each have a shield and a whip, as do the opposing teams. You all whip the crap out of each other.

The entire team on one mount. Fantastic! So much hilarity can come from this, so many cool maneuvers.

Part 3: This is a quick conclusion to the scenario. Some creatures run amok right after the race concludes. The heroes take them down and then they discover a container with a really, really cool substance in it that I don't want to spoil. This discovery leads into the next adventure, A Walk in the Park.

Overall

I love this adventure. Love it! I'm not sure what else there is to say. If you're running a dinosaur race, you have to use this. It's almost cruel not to. If players knew what they were missing, they might try to punch you right in the face and, honestly, I can't blame them. How dare you! Just who do you think you are?

As far a nitpicks or concerns, I do think that some dungeon masters might want more concrete rules in the race section, as a lot of details and rulings are left up to the DM. I could also see new DMs having trouble running the pteranodons-flying-through-the-rings section, as it's quite vague.

I would have also liked a description of some rival NPCs and teams.

But those are minor nitpicks. This is easily one of the best releases linked to Tomb of Annihilation so far. You should definitely check it out and see if it's something you want to use.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Peril at the Port

 
We're going to take a look at a special Tomb of Annihilation adventure today. It is an "Epic", a convention/game store event where four or more D&D groups all play in the same scenario at the same time.

As far as I know, this adventure is not available for sale. I think you have to get it at a convention or your game store. I'm writing this to tell you about the ideas that you might want to use and I pulled out some descriptive text you can read to the group to describe certain locations. 

It's Cheating: I don't want to post spoilers, reveal goals or how to resolve a particular encounter. I'm looking at this from the perspective of a DM looking to see if there is anything I can use in my game. The answer is a resounding yes!

Deluxe: This thing clocks in at a mighty 82 pages, although the last 30 pages are for stats and handouts. It's written by Will Doyle, who is quite the prolific fellow.

This adventure is about Port Nyanzaru being overrun by the undead. The city's in chaos and it's up to the heroes to fend them off.

Here's the backstory:
  • 10 years ago, a pirate named Pelican Jake decided to rob his pirate girlfriend, Idrianne Smoke.
  • Jake teamed up with Aremag the dragon turtle and they sunk her ship.
  • Now, her ship has returned from the Nine Hells (!!!).
  • She is leading an alliance of "infernal pirates" to attack Port Nyanzaru.
  • She wants to find Pelican Jake.
Captain Smoke is Awesome: Check out the description of the infernal pirate: "If Idrianne Smoke was once beautiful, her years in the Nine Hells have twisted her horribly. Her teeth are now jagged metal, her skin is scaled, and black horns curve from her brow. On her shoulder, a scraggly parrot eyes you suspiciously."

A devil pirate! This actually fits in with the story of Levistus, the ruler of Stygia. In 4e, Levistus had a scheme where pirates were bringing him souls to hoard.

Ideas


Here's some of the highlights and notable things about this scenario.

Ouch: I won't say which scenario this was in, but this shocked me. Characters are going to lose limbs! 

Old City Tomb: We get details on an unexplored tomb under one of the ziggurats. In it is a powerful spell scroll that can inspire armies.

Mother Sibonseni: It uses Mother Sibonseni, who is an interesting NPC that kind of gets lost in the shuffle in Port Nyanzaru. The group is actually given does of a poison that incapacitates in this scenario, which is pretty cool.

Blow Things Up: This mini-adventure is my favorite. The group has to blow up Captain Smoke's ship!! They'll be using a wagonload of oil and alchemist's fire. I'm dying to run this one.

Cloak and Dagger: There's a very harrowing scenario where the group has to pull off some really fun disguise stuff. Pretending to be a pirate, that seems like it can lead to a lot of fun things.

This thing is awesome! They should sell it on the DMs Guild. A ton of work went into this and it looks like a heck of a lot of fun.

Descriptive Text

Here's some boxed text from this adventure that you can use to describe things in Port Nyanzaru when you run Tomb of Annihilation. 
My version of Kwayothe

Kwayothé: "Kwayothé (k-WAY-oath-ay) is a Chultan priestess of Kossuth. She’s calm in a way that exudes both serenity and menace, and uses her beauty to manipulate men and women alike. She’s always accompanied by males and females highly trained in unarmed combat, who double as her consorts."

Kwayothé's Villa: "Kwayothé’s villa perches on the lower slopes of Throne Hill. Inside, the air is thick with the aroma of perfume and fresh fruit. Servants fetch you water and wine while you await the arrival of the prince. Kwayothé arrives draped in fine silks and feathers. She dismisses her servants with a snap of her fingers, and looks you over with a smile."

Jessamine's Villa: "Writhing serpents decorate the walls of Jessamine’s clifftop villa. The lamps in here burn low, and hooded warriors lurk like gargoyles in the shadows. Roars and screams drift from the battle below. Jessamine watches over the city from a balcony, her body swathed in black bandages."

Ekene-Afa's Villa: "Ekene-Afa summons you to her villa on Throne Hill. Ornate weapons hang from her walls, and parrots squawk from gilded cages. When you approach, warriors are strapping armor to her scarred body. With her back to you, she addresses your reflections in the looking glass."

Dinosaur Race: "On this day, Port Nyanzaru hosts its famous Dinosaur Races! Grand lizards of all sizes scramble through the streets, whipped on by daredevil riders. As evening fog rolls in over the Bay of Chult, torches are lit to mark the race course through the city’s streets."

Old City: "The Old City sprawls beyond the port’s outer walls. Three lofty ziggurats loom over the streets - remnants of some lost civilization - with a shantytown of bamboo shacks clinging to their flanks. Panicked citizens cram the streets when you arrive. Greasy smoke coils from the outskirts of town and bells toll from the ziggurats."

Adventures in Eberron - The Elemental Airship


I'm still getting caught up on blog stuff. A few weeks ago, we played some more Eberron. In this game, I run an 11th (!) level sorcerer with a hairy chest.

We had gone on this mission in a Daask complex underneath the city of Sharn to cause a distraction so the queen's evil soldiers could abduct a changeling alchemist. We got completely wrecked by some hobgoblin guards and now trolls we about to enter the room.

It turns out that one of our draws from the Deck of Many Things had changed the alignment of the Daask leader (an oni). She asked us to keep the alchemist safe, and we agreed to do so.

I turned invisible, as did the alchemist. The other heroes played dead. The trolls came in and looked around. One picked up our wizard and bit her. He was going to eat her! Then, the trolls were called away and went deeper into the complex.

We fled and ran home to our bar. We debated how to hide the alchemist. We decided to have it pretend to be our wizard and hang out at the university library. Just typing that out makes me realize what a bad idea that was. The Daask needed a few days, then they'd smuggle the alchemist out of the city and bring it to Droaam (a land of monsters ruled by a hag).


I was extremely paranoid of everyone, as I had a number of secret enemies due to the deck. I had destroyed the hot dog cart of a warforged named Bun a session or two back. Now, he's our enemy. He actually opened up a business next to ours called "Double-Cross Bun's". He wanted to drive us out of business once we opened our bar. Son of a...

The soldiers kept up their end of the deal, giving s potions and claiming to heal our friend (who they probably poisoned in the first place).

Sharn is currently ruled by this Princess tied to out fighter's backstory. She's pretty much an evil schemer, as far as we can tell. Her people wanted us to head up a new air force of some kind. My character wanted an air ship, so I agreed, figuring I could steal it when the times comes.

They gave us two missions to complete, but we decided to do something else and put those on the backburner. A while back we had learned that we had each been sent a magical gift from our 4e characters. The wizard's gift involved a "...fallen star in a medusa city in Droaam."

Google says these are the Daughters of Sora Kel

I made friends with the airship's bound fire elementals (it eats sorcery points, which I have quite a few of). We took off for Droaam. Along the way, we ran into one of the fighter's secret enemies: a white dragon! He actually dueled it in a no arrows/no breath battle.. solo.. and won! He has a high AC.

We had a battle with a roc, an then we arrived at the Droaam capitol. The DM read us some of the description and it was very cool. I love the idea of monster cities that are run by hags and medusas.

The hags seemed to know we were coming. We were brought before the ruling hags known as the Daughters of Sora Kell.


That's where we stopped!

I finally got my airship! I've wanted one of these from the beginning. Pretty awesome. We're based in Sharn, but I love the idea of heading out into the world now and again to experience all of the weird Eberron stuff out there. Droaam seems extremely cool, I am looking forward to learning more about it.

Tomb of Annihilation 9 - Ataaz Muhahah


In this session, we got to play through one of my favorite jungle encounters in the Tomb of Annihilation book. It is the crumbled bridge known as Ataaz Muhahah!

You can watch this session right here:


Val was recovered from her illness and the group was at full capacity!

The Party

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

Ataaz Muhahah

There's a statue in the middle of the bridge and there's a big break at the end. Monkeys swing on vines that hang underneath the bridge and sometimes the echoes of their laughter sounds like a deep, booming cackle.

NPC Dilemma: While preparing this, I had a problem. The group has a froghemoth with them named Hoppy. I've established that he can barely jump at all. How the heck is he going to cross the bridge and jump that gap?

It took me awhile, but I finally decided that there's a shard of Kubazan's spirit here. It inhabited Hoppy's body, giving him super strength, and he made a mighty leap across the chasm. The Kubazan left him and he fell face-first on the ground.

The heroes decided to tie themselves together on one rope. Mistletoe was in the lead. He walked up to the statue and touched it. The book specifically says that if the statue is touched, it animates and tries to throw you off of the bridge.

Things Go Wrong: I had written down how pushing works in 5e, but in the moment I couldn't make sense of it. Something about an athletics check that the statue has advantage on it? Sounds good, I thought. I did an opposed Athletics check. I rolled... a 26! Poor Mistletoe.

Now I had another dilemma. The heroes are all tied together! Are they all thrown over the bridge? I blindly decided to have each character also make an opposed Strength check. Obviously, nobody beat a 26. So I described it as the statue grabbing Mistletoe with one hand and the rope with the other. It threw everyone off the bridge!

I would have been panicking if it hadn't happened so fast. Would this be the end of the campaign? I had put some things (a chwinga and a kamadan) down in the valley just in case something like this happened, but it seems like a bit of a stretch for one chwinga to stable everyone.

TPK? They fell 100 feet. 10d6! They crashed through the treetops, breaking branches which slowed their descent. The group ended up hanging on a branch, dangling. 2 heroes had special powers that put them at 1 hit point. Val went own, but was healed. They legit survived a 100 foot fall! I was impressed.

They took a short rest, and then came up with a clever way to climb up, using ropes and pitons. As the group climbed up the 100 feet of rope, the monkeys threw bananas at them. Ramrod was having none of this and killed one with a javelin. Zavagor immolated another, and the third fled for its life.

The group helped Hoppy up. He was back to normal. They resumed their journey.

The group's progress (I moved Ataaz Muhahah)

Travel: The next day, we did a quick "montage" battle with goblins which I wasn't happy with. I didn't think out complications in advance.

The day after that, everyone but Val and Hoppy ended up falling in quicksand. When preparing this, I had looked up the quicksand rules in the DMG. They are very cool! You sink d4+1 feet. The DC to escape is that number, +10.

Ramrod got out. Zavagor rolled a natural 20, and proceeded to narrate his angry escape, eyes and skull flaring with fire. He killed me with that, and then he screamed something about "Generations of my people!" and I just lost it.  It was decided that this should be the art for this episode, and so it was.

The day after that, the group came upon ruins. These ruins are from Jungle Treks. Yep, this is the home of the tropical harpies. Did I get art of the harpies?! You bet your sweet patootie I did! Here's part of it:

How about that crap? Not too shabby! Tropical harpies are an absolutely fantastic idea. They should have some sort of unique power, but I can't figure out what. Parrot-like mimicry?

Ramrod got possessed by Bokadoka, a goblin ghost. I generally don't like possession because, if I was a player, I'd be less than thrilled at the prospect of having to sit there while someone else controls my character. I played it like she would "ride along" in Ramrod's psyche and veto any actions that went against her interests.

I got to use my "snobby woman" voice, which was a big hit with my old groups. So far on the show, I've never gone 100% with the voices. I guess I'm not quite comfortable yet, as this was snobby lady at 65%. Her voice should be more nasal and throaty.

That's where we had to stop! The next session involves an absolutely EPIC battle with my beloved tropical harpies.