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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Dice, Camera, Action Episode 75 - Tomb of Annihilation

Episode 75: Apex Predator
First show of the new year!

 The Party

(Matthew Lillard) Bag of Nails - Tabaxi Hunter
(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard

The waffle crew is in the Lost City of Omu. We're in the huge final section of the Tomb of Annihilation adventure.

Paultin is wearing the ring of winter, a very powerful and evil magic item. A red dragon named Klauth is demanding that he hand it over.

When we start the session, Klauth is flying 180 feet away from the group.

Chris notes that Klauth can smell treasure from thousands of miles away.

Evelyn tries to parlay with the dragon. "We're real good at negotiating.."


Klauth says he just flew thousands of miles and boy are his wings tired. Everybody is quite revitalized from the Christmas break.

Bed of Nails sits crosslegged and tells the dragon how proud he would be to be slain by it. He's trying to stall so that the group can have time to figure out what to do.

They are near a wall that can be climbed over. Paultin says has an idea about what to do here. He doesn't want to hand over the ring of winter, not at all. I don't think we ever find out what this plan is in this session.

Strix casts death ward on Paultin and runs toward Diath, who is heading for a partially-collapsed wall.

Paultin also tries to parlay. He calls up to the dragon: "My dude!" Paultin makes a vague offer.. share the ring of winter? Persuasion check: 25! Hmm... No, the dragon isn't biting.

Guess who shows up? The Acquisitions, Inc airship! It is manned by members of the C-Team! The ship comes up over the trees and drifts toward the dragon!

There are 3 figures on the deck of the ship: A half-elvish woman. a gnome or halfling in a vest, and manning a harpoon gun is a tiefling. I'm ashamed to say that i am not up on my Acq Inc, not sure who these NPCs are.

The ring of winter is evil and sentient. It wants nothing do with Klauth and does not want to end up sitting in its hoard.

Klauth grabs Paultin and holds him in front of his mouth. Paultin tries a whole bunch of lies, but Klauth doesn't buy it. Paultin casts cone of cold right in Klauth's face! "Plan B, my dude"

Bag of Nails hits the dragon and causes it to drop Paultin.There was some grumbling in the chat about this, which I'll talk about at the end.

The dragon breathes on Bag of Nails and does 91 points of damage. Bag is still up!

The group is running away. Paultin dimension doors to safety. Bag of Nails stays where he is and hits the dragon again.

The heroes are fleeing into a maze. The yuan-ti show up and attack the dragon. Klauth is not using his wands.

Klauth collapses a wall on the group. All but Diath are buried. The yuan-ti are buried, too.

Strix casts gaseous form and escapes the rubble. Paultin notices that a snake (a yuan-ti in snake form) is crawling over his body. I wonder if it is going to stow away in Paultin's pack and transform at a later time?

Bag of Nails gets on the ship and is ready to fire the harpoon.

Klauth stomps on the rubble. Then he reaches down and clears the rocks that were pinning Paultin.

Evelyn is pinned. Strength check: Natural 20! She explodes out and is free!

Paultin considers handing over the ring. Nope. We learn that he is, in fact, under control of the evil entity

Diath helps Paultin up and tries to steal the ring! Paultin refuses to hand it over. Chat is angry that the sleight of hand didn't work. Paultin rolled a 32.

That's where we stop.

Overall

Very good show! I like how Chris runs his battles. As a DM, I always slip into "you roll, I roll" mode and forget to portray the combat as a scene rather than an encounter in an old Final Fantasy game.

Backseat DMing: When it comes to watching streaming D&D shows, it feels utterly wrong to criticize someone's DMing. As a DM, I know that people could tear me a new hole every single session when it comes to rules accuracy and leniency. So far, D&D fans have been extremely polite and haven't done much griping at all on the DCA streams.

The show is getting bigger and I am thinking that the bigger it gets, the more we will see of a certain amount of "backseat DMing".

Suboptimal Klauth: Klauth held back. He could have just bit Paultin's hand off (the hand with the ring) and flew away. The ring wouldn't be digested, as it is nearly impossible to destroy the ring of winter (see Tomb of Annihilation page 208).

Why didn't he? Who knows. You got the sense Chris was looking for a specific scene to play out, but the group wasn't reacting as he anticipated. He was walking a tightrope, trying to get that scene without overtly railroading the players.

Scrambling: Then, when Paultin tried to steal the ring, Jared rolled a 32 on his check and still failed. A 32 is insanely high, far higher than what is necessary for attempting an extremely difficult task. If it's impossible to do, why have him roll?

I think most of us have been in this spot. Chris might have been quietly trying to keep up and adjust to unforeseen events. Things happen so fast in the game! When you're caught off guard, you make decisions off the cuff that might not look right in retrospect.

In this case, though, the effort hinged on whether Paultin was willing to let the ring be taken. Chris specifically asked Nate, and Nate said no.

Skill Checks: In general, there seems to be a bit of outrage whenever someone rolls a 25+ on a skill check and Chris says they don't succeed.

On one hand, I get the outrage. But on the other hand, if Klauth innately knows where the ring is located, tricking the dragon into thinking that the ring is somewhere else through sleight of hand isn't going to work no matter what.

You can try anything with a skill check, but some things are just impossible. Sometimes, the hero won't know that and will try anyway. In this case, the player forgot that Klauth could magically sense the ring.

Creating the Uber DM: I would caution anyone to be careful when criticizing Chris or anyone's DMing, especially if you yourself have only been DMing for a few years!

I recommend instead that you learn from what they're doing and figure out ways to avoid making the mistakes you think other DMs are making.

The fact that we can now watch hundreds of DMs means that a new breed of ultra-DM should rise up, better than anybody who's ever DMed before. Focus on becoming the best and try to keep the criticism constructive.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thank you for writing these. I don't have time to watch the show but I'm really interested in the story and having these to read fits perfectly. The additional annotations of what's going on are also super helpful. Thank you so much!

glados131 said...

The NPCs on the airship were from the Acq Inc games that Strix was a part of-- they were the crew of interns (one incident involved Viari throwing one overboard and having Strix try and save him).

Anonymous said...

to dice is god, if you cant let the dice guide you, you will miss a lot of fun.

Cork said...

The Acq Inc airship NPCs are hired "mooks" from the A-team. You can catch their table inception from Jerry, Jim, Pat, and Holly at the start of the surprise pre-PAX podcast, Enter the Trash Witch. https://youtu.be/2ps7f2H4CNE