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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dungeons & Dragons - Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes Review

You can buy Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes here.

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

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

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

The Good

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

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

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

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

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

The Bad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The preface page alone is loaded with info.

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

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

The Blood War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4e Tiefling

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Also, githyanki hatch from eggs!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we get stats of a few archdevils...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the hell, man. 

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

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

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dark and Dicey: Episode 1

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


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

Kaiji Tang as the Dungeon Master

Previous Sessions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pluck and Anya immediately partook of the drugs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where this session begins.

Episode 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second was his constitution check.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 93

Episode 93 - The Storm Before the Calm

The heroes begin the journey to Waterdeep!

 The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
Last episode, the heroes used the egg bomb on the dragon turtle. The ship they are on survived, but it appears that Port Nyanzaru was hit hard by the explosion.

Diath panics, hoping everyone is OK. Strix throws up over the side of the ship. Evelyn is clutching Paultin.

Diath looks for signs that Evil Paultin is actually dead. He sees part of a large flipper fall into the sea. Other bits might be birds or fish... meat is falling from the sky.

Evelyn asks Paultin why he gave up his mandolin. Paultin is quite angry.

Evelyn looks through a spyglass and sees people and dinosaurs washing into the bay of Port Nyanzaru. She can't tell if they are alive or dead. A lot of the buildings are damaged - pulled off their foundations. Evelyn wants to go back and help. The rest of the group does not. 

Diath is freaking out, thinking he might have killed a bunch of people.

There's a storm coming. The captain wants to tie the group down, but they're too busy arguing.

Evelyn says that the group demolished the city because they couldn't make a decision. Strix asks the captain to tell the group why they can't go back. The captain says there's probably nowhere to dock the ship.

Diath begs Evelyn to tell him what to do. She says that they need to help those in need. The captain asks Evelyn if she can bring back the dead. Strix suggests sending a letter to Omin. He can help them.

Evelyn gets ready to abandon the group and fly to Port Nyanzaru. Paultin says she's being self-righteous. Her says they had a solution. What good is the mandolin if he's dead? "None of you are survivors. It's getting to be way too much. Do what you want."

Evelyn asks him why he's even here any more. Paultin says he doesn't even know. She ultimately decides to write a letter to Omin.

Holly points out that Strix has two hit points.

The ship sails onward and the group gets tied down. The storm comes. The mast of the ship is hit by lightning. It's fine. Diath is wondering what the ship is made of.

The ship nears jagged peaks of rock. On one rock is an immense, 20-30 foot tall being who is casting a spell.

Strix wants to counterspell it, but she can't because she's tied up. She misty steps out of the ropes. Paultin slips out of his bonds as well.

She tries to counterspell - so does Paultin. The spell is higher than level 3, so they have to make checks. They both succeed! The spell is shut down, but the storm rages on.

Strix falls into the water. She uses alter self to give herself gills. Evelyn frees herself and summons Mourning Glory as the ship is rocked by the storm. Strix, Evelyn and Paultin fail Dex saves and they are swept off the ship. They take 43 points of damage. Only Diath is still tied up.

Strix is deep underwater. Evelyn casts locate object on Strix's staff so she can find her. Paultin is able to summon the waffle hut, which keeps him safe from the storm.

Strix casts greenflame blade on her staff to make it easier to find her.

Diath sees the captain's wheel spinning. A crewmember is trying to make his way to the wheel. Diath looks at the huge creature on the rock and is pretty certain that she is a storm giant.

Strix is underwater. She doesn't know which way is up. There's a storm giant down there. Strix waves at him. He grabs her and begins swimming upward.

Evelyn's in the water. The female storm giant dives in and is coming for her. Evelyn sees Strix coming closer. She doesn't see the boat at all.

Paultin is in the hut. He begins drinking. A hand grabs the hut, but the hut won't budge.

Diath takes the wheel and tries to steer the ship, but he doesn't know what he's doing.

Evelyn sees a crewmember in the water, holding on to flotsam. He's in danger. Evelyn goes to help him.

Strix realizes that the storm giants are friendly and were likely trying to shut down the storm. She uses a spell to write in the sky, "They're nice!"

Realizing that they are nice, Strix says aloud that they messed up again and that maybe the group should retire.

The giants put the heroes back on the ship.

Evelyn is still in the water, injured badly. She is kissed on the lips by a mermaid, and is healed for 10 points. The mermaid's hair is black and she wears coral jewelry. She's accompanied by a giant, pink and violet seahorse. She swims alongside it. They swim through the waves and seem to enjoy it. They bring the heroes toward the ship.

There are also mermen nearby. They rescue the crewmember.

The captain is nowhere to be found. 1st mate Brigg Ruddell barks commands tells the crew to secure the lines.

Safe on the ship, Evelyn giggles to herself and touches her lips. She sees that Paultin hasn't said a single word. She sits next to him and says, "I'm really sorry about your mandolin."

Paultin tells her that the mandolin was " of the last things tying me from where I came from." He felt like getting rid of it would get rid of his painful past, and maybe that would let him embrace his new friends. He thinks maybe he should have held onto it and sold it.

Paultin wonders every day why he is with these lunatics. He can't bring himself to leave and that makes him angry.

Diath hears a strange humming noise. It's from his key ring. One of his keys is missing. One he hasn't had before is there - a silvery key emblazoned with the symbol of a crescent moon. It is the symbol of the famous wizard, Elminster.

This is linked to the weird meta-story going on right now involving the "Immortal Fortress". People in real life are receiving key-shaped USB drives. There is a wiki tracking the whole thing right here.


They're sort of going into some Storm King stuff, which is interesting. I'm also interested to see what this Elminster thing is all about. Jared was especially funny today. Looking forward to next week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The RPGN - The Weekly RPG Highlight Show

Check out episode 1 here.

I have been working on a couple of big projects over the last few months. The first is the Dice, Camera, Action wiki, which is now fully up and running! I actually got to work with some Wizards of the Coast people on it, which was really awesome.

I got to talk to Bart Carroll on the phone about Dragon+ for like half an hour. The poor guy probably wanted to fake his own death to get out of the conversation, but I couldn't stop myself.

The other secret project just came out the other day. It's a show! It's sort of like the ESPN of tabletop gaming: The RPGN.

There are a lot of people putting their RPG games online, but it's really hard to know what's out there, and what the shows are like. Most people are aware of Critical Role, but other than that, there's not really a ton of awareness.

The Point: The idea here is to make a way for people to see what's out there and keep up to speed with everything that is going on in the world of D&D and RPG streaming. We want to cover as much as we can, whether it gets thousands of views a week, or zero views a week.

I am hoping that we can help increase the audience of people who are busting their butts on their campaigns. I absolutely love the idea of using this as a way to identify who good players and DMs are, and then figuring out what it is that makes them good.

DMs of the Future: I think that, over time, people will become much, much better at DMing. We can all watch others do it. We can learn from their mistakes and improve our own games. When somebody does something that works, we all benefit.

WebDM: I am working with WebDM on this project. WebDM is an extremely popular D&D youtube channel. I first met them as a guest on their podcast and it turns out we have a lot in common. Pruitt and I both had the idea of a D&D clip show rattling around in our heads for a long time, and once we started talking about it, we got really excited.

My job on this thing is to get footage. I organize it, put it in files, and provide context. Then the producers sort through it and make the show.

: So! I need footage! Every single week! If you have an online show, for the love of God, send me clips! Links to twitch clips is best - I'm having a hard time pulling footage off of youtube videos.

Try to keep them under a minute or two. We get a lot of funny ones, and that's good, but I'd love dramatic moments - a battle with a major NPC (like Strahd), a critical hit in a crucial moment, or the death of a character.

Send them to:

Blog Stuff

Here's my schedule right now:
In addition to that, I'm working on this RPGN show, maintaining the DCA wiki, and I'm trying to finish Emirikol's Tome of Foes, a DMs Guild product.

Once that's done, I will finish up and release Emirikol's Guide to Demons. I have a lot of that one done, and have tons of art for it. The art for this one is much better than the stuff in the guide to devils!

This blog, unfortunately, has suffered from me taking on too much at once. I fully intend on posting more here once I get things under control. I really love making guides to D&D stuff for this blog, and I am hoping to get back to it relatively soon. Once I get back to the guide to demons, I can make some guides for the blog as I do research - I still need to write up Pazuzu, Zuggtmoy, and LOLTH!

The guide to Lolth is probably going to be gigantic, should be awesome! She's in so many products, I bet there's all sorts of weird tidbits to unearth.

The Stream of Many Eyes

From June 1st-3rd, they'll be doing the Stream of Many Eyes, a big streaming event on the D&D channel. I'll be writing recaps of the whole thing, just like I did with the Stream of Annihilation last year. I think I'm going to do a wrap up show each night on my twitch channel, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Thanks to everyone who buys my DMs Guild products! Because of you, I actually make a living doing this goofy stuff.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 92

Episode 92 - Bomb Voyage
This one was really fun!

 The Party

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

Last time, Laric Dashland had asked the group to make maps of Omu, Orolunga and Nangalore. They never went to Nangalore.

The group has an explosive device in the shape of an egg. One of Diath's keys is stuck in the egg, preventing the timer from going all the way down and causing it to explode. They found an iron token on their doorstep and someone tried to poison the group.

Laric says that the two maps that the group has are enough for the group to gain passage on the Brazen Pegasus, which will take them to Waterdeep. Captain Ortimay is the captain (this is right out of the tomb adventure). Laric makes a somewhat ominous comment to the captain" "They paid for a smooth, fast ride."

Strix goes to buy food for Waffles for the trip. After that, the group learns that they will need to pay tribute to the Dragon Turtle in order to exit the bay. Evelyn goes through her stuff, and remembers that she has a bunch of items taken from the yakfolk village: 4 blocks of incense, a censer, a mask, and bead jewelry.

Evelyn then realizes that perhaps all the dragon turtle will need is a song by Paultin. "We should bank everything on Paultin playing a song!"

Paultin shows the captain the token that was left on the steps of the home the group was staying in last session. Captain Ortimay is alarmed and rethinks letting the group ride with her. Paultin quickly casts suggestion to convince her it's a fake.

The captain explains that the coin is linked to the Ytepka Society, a secret organization that deals with troublemakers. The coin is a warning. Paultin distracts her and tosses the coin into the water.

Diath suggests that they don't run away from their problems for once. He wants to stay and deal with the Ytepka Society. Evelyn is up for this, because she really doesn't want to go to Waterdeep.

The captain wants Strix to take a bath. The group debates going to the bath house.

Evelyn almost convinces the group to go, but ultimately she goes to the bath house alone. She talks to the people who work there, and learns that the Ytepka Society are good guys. Chris asks her to make a perception check. She rolls a 6. She's got a cucumber over one eye, and that may have factored in to the failure.

Evelyn writes a letter to her pen pal, Omin. 

Out on the streets of Port Nyanzaru, Diath learns all of that, plus he finds out that the Ytepka are trying to keep the Zhentarim from taking over, and that they oppose the pirates. There are less than 50 members. They have a secret hand symbol: a Triceratops horn hand gesture (hold up three fingers).

Diath spots someone on a rooftop watching them. The person has a staff and is wearing fine robes. Paultin dimension doors up to the roof. It's a humanoid - Zindar, the half-dragon man. He's got a staff with a green orb at the top. Zindar is the harbormaster of Port Nyanzaru.

Suddenly, someone comes up out of the water and garrotes Evelyn. Evelyn gets stabbed.. she takes a pile of damage and 23 poison damage. She fails her save and falls unconscious.

Zindar wants to attack Paultin. Diath does the ytepka hand symbol, which calms down the half-dragon. Zindar explains that the token was not for the group. The ytepkas have realized that the token is meant for the Awful Crew, the clones of the heroes.

Strix had met Zindar back when she was adventuring with Omin. She tells Zindar what has been going on, and that there might be more clones on the way.

The group returns to the bath house and sees a crowd gathering. They hear people talking, saying that assassins were in there trying to kill someone. The group uses invisibility and gaseous form to get past the guards.

To their relief, they learn that Evelyn was saved by two wet cat-people, who chased off the assassins. Evelyn thanks them, and is annoyed that her new body has been marred.

The tabaxi are Rivermist and Flask of Wine. Paultin gets a look at Evelyn, and for once, she is not wearing her boots. He sees that Evelyn is missing the lower part of one leg. She's apparently been hiding it with a prosthetic.

Reunited, the heroes get on the boat and argue about whether or not to "give" the bomb to the turtle. Strix and Diath want to do it. Paultin and Evelyn are shocked to find themselves as the voice of reason.

They go back and forth as the ship sets sail. The dragon turtle rises up from the depths and demands tribute.

Paultin wants to give it his mandolin. Evelyn decides to fly over and talk to the creature. The dragon turtle's name is Aremag. The water around it becames a churning cauldron. One of its eyes is clouded over with cataracts

It bellows, "Dump it."

She throws some treasure to Aremag and asks, "Do you like music?"


Paultin throws the mandolin at the dragon turtle. Evelyn tries to catch it. Rolls a natural 1. Anna rolls at least four natural 1's tonight. She is able to get the mandolin before Aremag does.

Diath is holding the egg bomb, which still has the key jammed into it. Suddenly, the key comes out. Evil Paultin is invisible! He throws the key overboard! He wants the mandolin.

Diath kicks Evil Paultin overboard. Evil Paultin falls into the water.

Evelyn hasn't ever seen Evil Paultin, so she makes a perception check to see if she can tell the difference. Natural 1. She dives in and saves him.

Once she realizes he's the fake, she throws him into the turtle's mouth. He grabs the mandolin from her as he plummets into the turtle's mouth.

Strix dives into the ocean and searches for Diath's key. She eventually finds it, but the dragon turtle attacks her! It does 52 damage to her. She's still up.

Strix dimension doors up to the ship. She's got 2 hit points left. The dragon turtle surfaces and clamps down on the ship.

Diath wants to blow up the dragon turtle.  He throws it into the dragon turtle's mouth. It dives down.. and then there is a flash of blue energy. A white explosion shoots up into the air.

The ship is blown forward on a great swell of water. Only the back end of the vessel is touching the sea.

The crew of the Brazen Pegasus is able to keep the shift upright, surfing a wave for about half a mile before the water calms.

Cut to Port Nyanzaru. Windows are blown out. The explosion tears through masts, sails and brick. The statue in the harbor is toppled.

Assassins ask the tabaxi where the heroes have gone. They say, "Waterdeep."


Really fun show! This is one of those ones where everyone is in a good mood. Very easy to watch!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 91

Episode 91 Rise and Shine 
This is the first episode of Season 4! Jerry Holkins is back.

 The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Jerry) Omin Dran - Half-Elf Cleric

Last time, Strix found a loophole in her contract that she used to summon Omin. She asked him to bring Evelyn and Simon back from the dead. The group fought their evil clones, and now it is time to raise the dead.

The group is in a palazzo overlooking Port Nyanzaru. It's a big white house with a fantastic view of the evening sun. The heroes can watch ships being pulled to the dock by dinosaurs.

The group needs some components for the ritual. It looks like they want to save the scroll they obtained from the Sewn Sisters. They need two 500 gp diamonds.

Strix tries to read the spellbook that the group acquired from the hags, but she is unable to make heads or tails of it.

Diath and Paultin go shopping. Diath notices some people acting strangely - guards keeping an eye out for thieves.

Paultin tries to schmooze a jeweler who has the diamonds that they need.

Diath does some haggling. He obtains two diamonds in exchange for the horn of blasting. If you look in the DMG, the horn is a rare magic item and is worth anywhere from 501 gp to 5,000 gp.

Walking home, they spot a strange coin bearing the image of a triceratops on the steps to their temporary abode. The heroes don't know what it is.

They rejoin the rest of the group and try to figure out what the coin is all about. No luck.

Before the ritual can begin, the adventurers hear noises nearby - screaming. Strix casts haste on Diath and he goes to investigate.

It turns out that the commotion is just their owlbear, Waffles, who is eating salami. A servant is trying to stop her. Waffles lunges at a cake.

Strix and Diath calm Waffles down. Guards show up, and the group tells them to bill Acquisitions, Inc. for any damages. Diath does this with great glee.

The group hands Omin the rings of protection with pieces of Evelyn's soul trapped inside of them. They had been sharing two rings. He uses them as part of the spell casting.

Zhentarim Agent

Omin begins casting the spells. He's going to try to raise Evelyn first.

He completes the spell. The group watches as the pieces of Evelyn's body come together - a golden thread weaves them into a cohesive whole. They coalesce into a new form. Evelyn is flesh and blood once again!

Omin assumes he made a mistake and apologizes: "I assure you, I performed the spell properly."

She has just one hit point. It was a raise dead spell. It feels like she's been in a long sleep. She has no memories of her time in the afterlife.

The group is thrilled to see Evelyn back to life. Paultin doesn't believe it. He slaps himself in the face repeatedly and leaves the room. Evelyn sees the remains of Simon and freaks out. The group tells her what happened.

Paultin thinks this is a dream. He reaches out and starts patting her face. She's real. He gets choked up.. tears well in his eyes.. He puts a hand on her shoulder and says, "It's good to have you back." He gets up and says, "There's still more work."

He walks away. She wonders aloud why nobody ever explains anything to her. He helps her up and hugs her. "You're back now, and that's all that matters."

"Your chest is so soft." She won't let go. He walks away, dragging her along with him.

Simon is brought back. He is still a construct. His eyes flick open.

He opens his mouth and shoots Omin with a dart right in the throat. Omin makes his saving throw.

The group chides Simon and Paultin thanks Omin. They shake hands.

Omin turns to Diath and says, "We didn't always see eye to eye, Dorth, but we were getting to a place where we wouldn't 100% revile each other... that's not nothing, you know?"

Diath says, "I can't deny what I owe you. And that sickens me."

Omin leaves.

The group rests for the night. The next day, Strix makes breakfast for everyone. Strix gives Juniper back to Evelyn. Juniper is covered in soot.

Diath gives the spectacles to Strix. She makes an arcana check and realizes that the spectacles are  a gate key. Where do they open a portal to? She's not sure.

They get Evelyn up to speed on what she's missed. Evelyn is not pleased to hear about the evil version of herself that works for Shar.

Strix gives Evelyn some food... she chokes it down. She needs to make a save. Anna rolls a die that Holly gave her... natural 20!

Diath inspects the kitchen and finds poison. This building is owned by the merchant princes of Port Nyanzaru. Waffles ate the food. The group is worried she is poisoned, but she doesn't seem to be affected.

The Zhentarim provide mercenaries for the merchant princes. The group realizes it was probably them. The zhents had tried to take the ring of winter from the group a while back.

The heroes decide that they need to leave this place. They go looking for Laric Dashland, who had asked the group to make some maps for him long ago. In exchange, he said that he would give them a boat.

Paultin spots him in the Grand Souk.

Laric is talking to a tortle. Laric is pleased to see the heroes and asks them if they have maps to all of the locales. Orolunga? Omu? Nangalore? The heroes realize that they never went to Nangalore. That's where we stop.


Fun show! I still have no idea where the new season will take place. I guess we'll see!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dragon+ Issue 19

You can read this issue right here.

It's that time again! Dragon+ time! Someone needs to get the word out about this thing. It's free! Everyone should read it. There is a TON of good stuff in here, things you can actually use in your game.

It's also got... me! They announced the secret project I've been working on for quite awhile now: The Official Dice, Camera, Action wiki!

We start off with some talk about the 30th anniversary of The Crystal Shard. When that came out... it was Drizzt everywhere. Everybody I knew made a drow who fought with two swords. It was an epidemic.

There's a tribute to William O'Connor. He was a really awesome artist.

Interview with R.A. Salvatore: The interview with R.A. Salvatore has a giant list of the Drizzt books in chronological order. There's so many. All the way at the bottom is the short story collection, which has an audio version that is read by "All Stars"? Who are the all stars, you ask? The list includes: David Duchovny, Wil Wheaton, Sean Astin and Ice T. Apparently, Ice T insists on pronounced the "w" in "sword".

R.A. Salvatore talks about actually playing Drizzt in D&D with Ed Greenwood as a DM. How awesome is that? I'd like to see more of that. R.A. Salvatore should run Drizzt as a guest star on Critical Role or something.

5e Moloch

Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes: We get previews of some stuff from the upcoming book. The sibriex are in it! As are the sorrowsworn. And... Moloch! They actually give us a pdf of Moloch's entry from the book.

This one is especially interesting to me, because I put Moloch in my Emirikol's Guide to Devils. What's cool is that their version's story matches up with mine pretty well, and they included an awesome new idea: Moloch turns into an imp whenever he actually enters the Nine Hells.

Comparing stat blocks, mine is fairly similar to theirs. My biggest mistake was using the wrong die for hit points. Large monsters use a d10 for hit points. I used a d12.

Another cool thing: Moloch can be found in Sigil where he bargains with yugoloths to build an army to raid Malbolge and take back his throne. Moloch is in Sigil! Awesome.

Qawasha & Kupalo: This is the third part of a pretty gigantic short story by Adam Lee. This one involves the city of Mezro and is pretty cool. There's some flavor text I'm going to steal for my campaign: "....a cursed neotent of some forgotten god that burbled and clutched the air as it groped with its claws for living flesh."

Interview with Myke Cole: The author of The Armored Saint. A D&D-loving author who was in the military. He was playing Morrowind while his base got bombed.

Cooperative World Building: This article gives your group a way to create a campaign world together. I don't know why, but this kind of thing gives me the shivers. Any time a player encroaches on the DM's territory, I feel weird about it.

At the very least, I know that some players don't want to create the world, and they would just sit there while others did all of the creating.

Hey, I'm sure it works for other people. I think I might enjoy it if we were all drunk.

Best of the DM's Guild: Ruins of Matolo

Dragon Archives: They made pdfs out of githyanki articles from previous editions! This is of special interest to me, as I thoroughly enjoyed making my guide to the githyanki.

They present a pdf of the 1st edition githyanki adventure, Fedifensor... and then they give us 5e stats for the titular sword!

Hounds of Space and Darkness: Gith dogs!! I missed this!

5e stats for Vlaakith!! 3e stats for Vlaakith!

Unearthed Arcana: The Order domain, clerics devoted to law. They can give allies a reaction attack. This is right up my alley. I love "Law" in D&D, and I enjoy running warlord-type classes.

Maps: Tons of maps from Tomb of Annihilation and Out of the Abyss. They even include one map from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits!

Video & Audio Highlights: There it is... the announcement of the Dice, Camera, Action Wiki! The author of this article shot me an email and I sent him a giant, rambling missive which he organized quite nicely!

This blog has given me many really cool opportunities. Thanks so much for reading it!

Also, seriously, get this issue! It's free! There's useful stuff in it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 90 - Tomb of Annihilation

Episode 90 - Vicious Mockeries
Final episode of the season! Special Guest: Jerry from Acquisitions, Inc.!

Chris is using his phone, He's in Burbank, California.

 The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Jerry) Omin Dran - Half-Elf Cleric

Chris recaps the last episode, which includes the whole "womb for the box" thing.Jerry wonders aloud what they're doing on this show. The group points out that Jerry's group gets treated nicely by Chris. The waffle crew are the "whipping boys".

The group is in Port Nyanzaru, where their evil clones are wandering around.

Evelyn is in heaven.

A little girl had purloined the magical spectacles and took off, running. Diath chases after her. He catches up and grabs her.

She starts making a scene in the street, and a crowd is forming. He tries to grab the glasses: Sleight of Hand check: 32. A big tortle tells Diath that what he's doing isn't very nice.

The girl is demanding payment. The group catches up to them, and Paultin casts suggestion on her. It works. The group has the spectacles again.

Now that the group once again has all of the things they need, Diath asks Strix to read X the Mystic's Arcane Grimoire. Once she has, then they'll hand it over to Shemeshka.

It begins to rain. People dart for awnings. Raincatchers start collecting water. The group ducks into "Sebata's Snake Pies", a little establishment that sells meat pits.

Strix finds a paper with the Acquisitions Inc. letterhead on it. It appeared in her hat. It's correspondence from Omin Dran. She wants Omin to come and raise Evelyn and Simon from the dead.

She receives a magical sending from Omin: "Strix, where are you? I don't want to teleport into a hole."

Her response: "I'm at Sebata's Snake Pies."

Omin appears in neatly polished armor. He sees Strix, standing in the rain.

He is with a 30ish something woman named Vajra. She is black, slight and has a noble bearing. In her hand is an obsidian black staff.

Diath drops his pie and steps between Omin and Strix, fuming with rage. Omin has used the infernal contract to summon Strix away from the group before, and he doesn't like it.

Paultin draws his sword, confused. Vajra uses her staff to magically make the sword rusty and useless.

Diath goes off on him. Omin says, "You're acting like this is your girlfriend or something. What?" The other heroes stifle laughter.

Omin: "Listen, Dorth. I owe her. Let me do my work."

Omin says the price has already been paid.

The group rolls out the remains of Evelyn and Simon right on the street .Omin kneels down and examines them.

Port Nyanzaru guards are approaching the group. Paultin casts invisibility on himself.

An armored guard calls out, "Stop! Put your weapons down on the ground."

The guards think the group are the evil doubles. Citizens begin to gather. Some of them recognize the group.

The guards try to forcibly arrest everyone, including Omin. They hold Waffles at spear point. Strix casts gaseous form on her.

Paultin tells a guard he slept with his wife last night. Paultin rolls a 24, but it doesn't work out. The guard is gay. "I don't have a wife. Stop lying."

Omin demands to be allowed to collect the bodies before being taken away. The guards agree to it. The guards then march the group through the city.

They pass under a bridge. The heroes spot the evil clones looking down at them from atop the bridge.

Diath curses when he spots them and points them out to the guards.

Time to roll initiative!

The players actually play both their regular characters and their evil counterparts.

Anna is playing Evil Evelyn (her name is pronounced "Eh-velyn"). Evil Evelyn spots Omin's symbol of Tymora and dry heaves.

Evil Diath touches evil Evelyn on the small of her back and says, "This one's for you." He kisses her and swings on a rope down toward the group.

Paultin is thrilled with this new Diath. He says aloud, "One's my friend but one's... hotter."

Omin casts hold person on Evil Strix. She is held.

Evil Paultin casts crown of madness on Strix. Holly rolls her saving throw.. 15. She made it. That would have been bad!

The underside of the bridge has stone carvings of monkeys hanging from it. Strix casts animate object on a pair of them. Two stone monkeys break away and claw their way up to the top.

Paultin attacks evil Diath and drops him with the sunsword. This enrages Evil Evelyn, who shouts "Cower before Evelyn of Shar!"

Evil casts phantasmal force.. everyone but Omin fails. They drop their weapons and run! It appears that Evil Evelyn is higher level than the clones, who are 3rd level.

Phantasmal force manifests their deepest fears. What's their fear?
  • Strix: Everyone's dead.
  • Diath: His mirrored self. He hates the idea that everyone sees him as that guy. Also, Strix collared, shackled, enslaved and near death.
  • Paultin:Wearing the ring of winter and being alone in a frozen realm.
Strix casts magic weapon on her hands. She has claws. She kills Evil Strix.

Omin wants to casts stone shape on the bridge. Evil Evelyn fails her save. The ground under her feet softens and she falls through the bridge and lands on the ground below. Evil Paultin remains on the bridge, battling a stone monkey.

Evil Evelyn lays on hands with evil Diath by making out with him. He regains 20 hit points. Gutter is right near him. Evil Evelyn grabs the sunsword. Evil Diath grabs Gutter. This is bad!

Diath finally snaps out of it. He sprints back and throws a dagger at Evil Diath. He hits and is most pleased.

Evil Paultin thunderwaves the other monkey and destroys it.

Strix doesn't like Evil Evelyn and drops a 5th level fireball on both her and Evil Diath. 40 damage. Evil Diath is burned to a crisp.

Evil Evelyn lets out a shriek of rage.

Paultin casts dissonant whispers on Evil Evelyn, which causes her to malfunction and collapse. She's dropped to exactly 0 hit points.

Evil Paultin sees his whole team is fallen and flees.

The total live viewer count hits 2,432 at 8:58.

Omin says, "This was way harder than I expected. What if I need more than you, next time?"

Strix offers that the waffle crew could help the AI group if they need it. The group is brought to a guard quarter.

Evil Paultin makes a stealth check. He evades and escapes the guards. End of session.

It sounds like Jerry will be back in two weeks on the season premiere. Chris shows us a dicebag Anna made for Chris out of DCA costume pieces.


I love the idea of the evil clones, and I liked this. I expected some kind of twist, cliffhanger, or clue as to what season 4 will hold, but nothing stuck out to me.

While I was mortified at the idea of Evil Diath wielding Gutter, I really like Evil Diath and Evil Evelyn and I hope we see them again somehow.

I am enjoying the show, and I'm hoping they go all the way to 20th level.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Dungeons & Dragons - What is a Good Dungeon Master in 2018?

I have been busy working on a couple projects, one of which is a secret thing that I am very excited about.

This blog has opened up many opportunities for me in the D&D realm. Thank you for reading my stuff and buying my DMs Guild products!

Running the Tomb: I've been running games online and it has been going tremendously well. We have played through almost all of the Tomb of Annihilation. I'm starting to look at the final encounter and really study the bad guys. I want make sure I don't mess anything up!

So far, the tomb has not been as deadly as I thought it would be. I think part of that is due to me being a bit of a softie.

My other group, the Dungeon Academy, has started playing through the Chris Perkins/Jon Leiheusser Temple of Elemental Evil prequel, the Battle of Emridy Meadows. That group is fantastic! The last episode was really awesome, total chaos.

The Greyhawk Channel: I am playing in a campaign on the Greyhawk Channel. It's called Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes.

I made a githzerai, basically so I could use all the lore I dug up in my guide to the githzerai.

Being a part of this game has taught me quite a bit about where D&D is at in 2018, and it made me think about whether or not I need to adjust my style.

I run my games in a goofy sort of manner. I keep it moving, I joke around, there's not many in-depth scenes. I keep dialogue short.

As I played this session, it dawned on me that many players on this show and on others are expecting something different. Players are watching Critical Role and Dice, Camera, Action, and it seems like a lot of them are expecting and looking forward to the emotional, dramatic side of the game.

People want to invest in the game in ways that, frankly, I have never been comfortable with. I'm not saying that I can't or won't do it, I'm just saying I've never fully committed to it and that it's new territory for me.

The session we just did in Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes was really awesome. The production on this show is great. Shane, the DM, has background music, he uses roll20, he's got maps and tokens for everything, and we use zoom and discord.

On top of that, he's got all of these twitch gadget things running that keeps the chat engaged. It's amazing to watch the channel grow so quickly and it is very clear to me that the greyhawk channel is going to be huge very soon. All three of the other players he got for this game are awesome.

So as I'm playing, I'm sitting there thinking about which of these things that he's doing might fit into my online games. I'm not a technical guy, but I understand that production values matter. What should I use? What can my computer handle? How simple is too simple when it comes to running an online game?

As the session cam to an end, we had a scene where we'd survived a cataclysmic occurrence and were in the ruins of Mordenkainen's tower. My character is a drunken master monk, and so he went looking for booze.

Since I'm a githzerai, I hate slavers. One of the characters was a reformed slaver, or something to that effect. My character hated her. The other heroes encouraged me to let it go. She made an impassioned plea. So, my character paused for a moment, and then slid her a drink. My character hasn't accepted this person, but he's open enough to see what she does next.

When the session was over, I turned the whole thing over in my head. Should I be making space for these kinds of scenes in my games? We only have two hours per session. They eat up a lot of time.

I'm coming to the conclusion that many.. most.. of my players are looking for this kind of thing, and I probably have not been accommodating them.

Spotlighting Backstory: I've never been good at blending backstories with published adventures. Going over the Dice, Camera, Action summaries, I noticed how the show pretty much revolves around the group's backstories.
  • Strix: The Izek, Lady Wachter, and Skizzies.
  • Diath: The hanging, Gutter and Lorcatha.
  • Evelyn: The Lathander stuff with the constructs and the saints.
  • Paultin: The Strahd/Dark lord run and the ring of winter.
Chris jumps around, focusing on one or two characters each session. It seems to be working both for the players and the viewers. People like it.

One thing I don't like on DCA is how Chris splits the group up a lot. There are plenty of times where a player will sit there for 30 minutes, doing nothing while two other characters are off adventuring.

I don't like that, I don't want players to come to the table and just sit there and watch. If I was going to split them up, I'd try to cut between them every 5 minutes or so.

But, again, nobody seems to mind.

Going Forward: I think what I am going to do is just take little baby steps and see what happens. I'll make some space here and there - probably during rests - and throw in story-type stuff that feeds the feels, so to speak.

I think the point of all entertainment is to make you feel something, right? I've probably not put enough effort into that in my games. In think that gives my games a somewhat shallow quality, sort of like rocks skipping on the surface of a lake.

We'll see. I'll mess around with it and let you know how it goes.

I should be able to talk about my secret project soon. Maybe a few weeks? I hope people like it, I'm really breaking my back over this thing.

I'll be running:
Tomb of Annihilation tomorrow at 6:30 PM EST
Dungeons Academy 7 on Sunday at 6:30 PM EST