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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Adventures in Eberron - Using Google Hangouts for the First Time

We played some more Eberron last night. I am a player in this game. My character is a big, hairy 8th level sorcerer.

Playing Online: My DM is moving away, so we tried playing online last night using Google Hangouts. I'd never done this before. I had heard it sucked, so I wasn't overly optimistic.

It turns out that it worked perfectly and it was awesome. I think I liked it just as much as playing in real life. It really opened my eyes to new possibilities.

In google hangouts, you see all of the other players in little thumbnails in the bottom of the screen. The person talking takes up the rest of the screen. It is constantly shifting from person to person.

Getting Lost: I guess many of you already know how this works, but I thought it was very cool. It's so weird to see yourself on screen. Maybe there's something wrong with me, but I spent a good portion of the session staring at myself like a dog that just saw a mirror for the first time.

The Art of Conversation: The one thing that is a little different is conversation. You really can't talk over each other. This makes jokes very tricky. You see it on Dice, Camera, Action. You can't slip a joke in - everyone has to stop talking and give you the floor.

If a joke falls flat, it falls really flat. If you take a machine gun approach to humor and just fire off whatever pops into your brain, you are going to kill a lot of time and bomb right out of the room.

Future Experiments: I absolutely loved using google hangouts. I would also try roll20 although that looks more complicated. I am definitely thinking about giving it a stab. I kind of like the idea of joining some random game, playing, and then writing about it.

The Magic Castle
Sharn, City of Towers

In the campaign, we are trying to rescue the soul of a warforged. It is trapped in this magic castle that we actually "built" last session. That means we know the layout of it and have a full map of it to navigate.

Black Market Potions: Our group has an ongoing healing issue. Worse, the city of Sharn has outlawed healing potions to discourage adventuring (the ruler didn't like it when we carelessly let a floating island fall on the city).

Before we went in the dungeon, I decided to walk the streets and see if I could find a black market potion dealer. I did spot one, but thanks to a good insight roll I realized they were an undercover cop.

After some internal debate, I decided to try to get those potions anyway. I'm chaotic good. Worst case, I'd flee with greater invisibility and turn myself in to the police later for what hopefully would be a slap on the wrist after we finished the dungeon.

The party fighter was with me, watching on a rooftop. I charmed the halfling/undercover cop. I got the sack he was holding. There were no potions in it at all! Just a crossbow.

Worse, since this was a set-up, a bunch of guards sprang out of hiding. I can't believe I didn't think of that.

We started laughing. I cast greater invisibility and ran. The guards chased the fighter on the rooftops. I tried to help him by using my wand of wonder, but all it did was send a nearby carriage to the ethereal plane.

We got away and went back to our home. The party wizard loves books and she hates these types of shenanigans. We nervously told her that nothing weird happened whatsoever while we were out. Nothing at all. A carriage vanished, which was odd and random, but that certainly had nothing to do with us.

Our Old Foe: Then we went into the dungeon. Of course, the front door was locked. We are stymied by locked doors every single session and every time we laugh that I swapped out the knock spell levels ago when we need it so desperately.

So we ended up just knocking on the door and hoping for the best. A drunk butler opened the door and said really bizarre things to us. My character had bottles of Frostmantle fire, an Eberron liquor. I convinced the guy to drink more and was able to get him so drunk that he passed out.

Portrait Gallery: We went into a portrait room, which seemed to be a locale that was designed to teach us the backstory of this place. There were two cambion women who were apparently married. They had four children somehow. One of the women had a father who they didn't like. His portrait was on the floor, face down.

After that. we went into a library, which the party wizard always loves. We were attacked by shadows.

The Perils of Strength Drain: This battle really reminded me of just how dangerous 5e can be. They drain strength. There were 6 shadows. The shadows surprised us, and I was down to 5 strength before I even got to go once!

It is very alarming and made me wonder how we would survive this dungeon. There's a lot of rooms in here and this one fight really hurt us badly. We're meant to finish this without a long rest and I just don't see how this is possible.

In my Planescape game, I always marvel at how the heroes feel too weak. Now I am seeing this is probably just because 5e is so swingy. I like it, but it makes creating dungeons like this very tricky.

Tanya: From the books in the library, we learned more. There's this succubus named Tanya who we've repeatedly met over the campaign. I like to think of her as an 80's video vixen like Tawny Kitaen. When I hear the name "Tanya" I envision big hair, lots of gum chewing and pink miniskirts.

It turns out that Tanya stays here sometimes and that she's sort of conflicted about whether she wants to help us or not. We also learned that there is a shadow dragon in this place. A shadow dragon!

Immediately I was wondering how the heck we were going to fight this thing. I'd be out of spells by then! I realized I was going to use my wand of wonder a bit so that I could save my spell slots. The wand is scary - there are plenty of bad effects that could happen.

Koko B Ware: We went into a ballroom and inside it was one of the cambion women. It turns out she was crazy and making jackalweres dance together. Somehow we started rattling off dad jokes about how these creatures took us "unaware" - Una-were. Then I proclaimed that I am just glad we haven't run into a Were-house yet. I mean, if the full moon hits and you're indoors, that's just a structural nightmare.

We tried to talk with this cambion lady but she sicked her lycanthropes on us. She repeatedly tried to charm us and thankfully we made our saves. That would have been really bad.

I pulled out the wand of wonder, pointed it at her, and fired. I rolled on the chart and got... a 100. She was instantly petrified!

It was awesome. That's where we stopped.


The big thing from this session was the experience of playing online. It worked really, really well. Maybe it's just because everyone I play with is so nice and accommodating, but there were just no drawbacks at all.

Sometimes dungeons can be boring, but in this campaign they are never boring. Nothing feels like filler. Everything is related to the story in some way and I think that's the key. Every room gives us clues about what is coming up and it builds interest and anticipation.


Tallifer said...

We use Google Hangouts for our 5th Edition Eberron campaign as well. It is the easiest way to quickly get players joined up and playing. We also use a fee on-line site called Twiddla, which is a whiteboard program. We still do not use a grid, but it is nice for quickly sketching things or positions; we can also upload images to Twiddla. Basically, we use Google for the sound, and Twiddla to look at while we play.

Sean said...

Talifer: Ha! That's cool. I'll have to check out Twiddla. Google hangouts worked so well. I was worried that google hangouts would be complicated or the install would be a problem, but it went very smoothly. Thanks!