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Friday, July 27, 2018

Hell's Belles Episode 5

You can watch this episode right here.

They are playing through a classic Planescape adventure, The Great Modron March, converted to 5th edition.

The Party

DM Mazz

(Shauna) Levity - Tiefling Monk linked to Glasya
(Hadeel) Miga - Tiefling Rogue an urchin who lives by the sea
(Lysa Chen) Mercy - Tiefling Shadow sorcerer from Ravenloft
(TK Johnson) Gille - Tiefling Paladin
(KaylaPentar - Tiefling linked to Zuggtmoy
(Holly Conrad) Durge - Tiefling Bard college of whispers, member of the Dustmen

The group is back in Sigil. They get a message from Lyra: "I've gone to run an errand. Levity make sure Miga and Gille are on their best behavior. Crayons and paper for Miga, and cakes for everyone else." Chloe couldn't play this week.

S3-4N is dispensing lots of shiftspice. It's supposed to come in a fancy container!

S3-4N stands at the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of a robot person who's been seen walking around now and then.

Someone knocks at the door. It's a dabus - one of the upkeepers of Sigil. Unlike the others, it does not float. It's walking on the ground.

White text appears above its head. It has a message for "the small one," Miga. She must return to her home plane for some sort of ceremony.

The dabus will show the group where the portal to Miga's home is. It pulls a fish hook out of its robes. The dabus's name is Fellham. It is a member of the Transcendent Order, just like Miga's parents. Fellham has been cast out from the ranks of the dabus.

The portal leads to land near a body of water. There's a boat. Miga informs the group that it's her birthday, and that she needs to sail the boat to pass her trial.

Miga is the captain of the boat. She has to make some choices, ranking the group on which roles they would be best to perform on the ship.
  • Strongest party member: Gille works on the mast, raising and lowering the sails.
  • Smartest party member: Mercy. 
  • Most Charming Party Member: Durge. Coordinate plans for sailing.
  • Wisest Party Member: Pentar.
  • Dextrous party member: Levity. On the bow, climbing the rigging.
  • S3-4N is the tailor. Tacking the sail.
Fellham hangs around the back of the boat.

S3-4N approaches Miga. He gives her a paper hat. He has one too.

Miga needs to plot a course. She must make a check. Rolls a total of 21!

The rest of the group has to make a check according to the stat they are assigned.

Pentar is in centipede form, and she gets seasick. She hasn't gotten her 8,000 sea legs yet.

Gille and Mercy get drunk. So does Pentar. They're all stumbling around.

Something bumps the boat and Mercy falls overboard. In the water, she can see a giant shark. She sees more large shapes heading this way as well.

Gille falls over, too. So does Pentar.

Mercy grabs Gille and swims over to the boat, and then casts a twinned levitate spell. Both of them rise out of the water and return to the deck of the ship.

Two crocodiles climb on to the boat. Durge casts crown of madness on the shark. The shark fails the saving throw.

A crocodile jumps onto Gille as he steps onto the deck and it does 17 points to him. Then it swats Mercy with a tail for 12 damage and she falls prone.

Pentar gets back onboard, but falls in the water again. Levity punches the crocodile and stuns it.

Mercy and Gille are both drunk. They cry. Gille barfs on Levity.

Miga drops one of Pentar's fungus things in the water. A shark eats it and turns beige.

Miga is now 10 years old, by the way. The sea monsters are repelled.

Miga hears singing. Coming toward her are two figures. One is a lady fish-person with long hair. The other looks like an angler fish. That's Miga's mom?

Erin: The Angler fish.
Vlarin: The fish lady.

Her parents tell her she has completed her trial. They give her a treasure - a family heirloom. It's a key. She puts it in her bag of holding.

Miga goes to her dad's house. He's not home.

The fish-people of the village give Pentar a pot as a reward for helping Miga complete her trial. In it, you can grow an awakened shrub. Pentar is completely grossed out by these people and takes it quickly.

Durge spends some time talking to crabs and snails about the True Death, trying to convince them to die.

Miga hugs her dolls. Time to go. S3-4N waves goodbye both to the heroes and to the fish people. The modron is a bit confused.

Levity wants to give Miga a legit party. The heroes return to Sigil. Some members of the party want to go get cranium rat kebabs. That's where we stop. Good show!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hell's Belles Episode 4

You can watch this episode right here.

They are playing through a classic Planescape adventure, The Great Modron March, converted to 5th edition.

The Party

DM Mazz

(Shauna) Levity - Tiefling Monk linked to Glasya
(Chloe Christine) Lyra - Tiefling Paladin
(Hadeel) Miga - Tiefling Rogue an urchin who lives by the sea
(Lysa Chen) Mercy - Tiefling Shadow sorcerer from Ravenloft
(TK Johnson) Gille - Tiefling Paladin
(KaylaPentar - Tiefling linked to Zuggtmoy
Last time, the group's modron buddy S3-4N walked through a portal with the modron march. The group follows through and emerge in a gate town called Excelsior. The buildings are made of gleaming white stone. In the center of the town are towers that rise up twice as high as any other building. The street is paved with bright marble.

Durge isn't here. She's handling pamphlets out somewhere. Holly is doing the big DCA/Acquisitions, Inc crossover.

Each gate town has a portal to the corresponding outer plane. The gate towns are always in danger of getting pulled in to the plane they are nearest to.

Miga catches up to S3-4N. He's clicking and beeping, trying to talk to another modron.

A knight asks Miga what she is doing with that modron. Miga explains that, "He's my best friend in the whole planes." The knight says that maybe she can help him.

The knight explains that there's a group has been abducting modrons and is attaching modron parts to people. The knight's sister has been captured by these villains, who are known as the Knights of Tachyrym.

The march is spreading out into clumps. The knight has been observing it and taking notes on its size and route. The knight wants the group to accompany and protect the marching modrons from the knights of tachyrym.

The group agrees to do so. The knight explains that the bad guys are a cabal of soulless warriors and sorcerers interested in selfish gain.

Mercy does her best to disguise herself as a modron. Pentar assumes the form of a filthy boar.

On one side of the march is Lyra, Miga, and Pentar. On the other side is Gille, Mercy, and Levity.

Lyra summons a horse-sized mastiff as a mount. Gille relies on his family's holy symbol - the yklwa - to determine what his mount is. It's a black-furred llama with a silk cushion on its back. It has a happy, derpy face and its tongue is hanging out.

Night rolls in and creatures emerge from the forest. There are riders accompanied by some kind of shadow wolves.

Levity snatches the tabard of one of the invaders. Pentar recognizes the symbol - it's similar to an organization that had captured her at one point. This tabard has a flower symbol on it. Pentar's captors had a mushroom.

The group tracks the bad guys to their compound. Levity casts disguise self to look like a guard. Mercy retains her modron form.

S3-4N is sitting. He's got his back to the compound. He won't look at it.  He asks, "Miga 2, what is fear?"

Levity approaches the compound and knocks on the door. They let her in. As she enters, she smells a mix of chemicals, metal, and rotting meat. She can see vats with bubbling liquids and hears bizarre screams - it's a modron screaming.

The floor under her feet crunches. The floor is littered with gears and springs along with black stains - modron blood.

Levity sees modrons hanging from hooks and tables with cutting implements. Modron wings and limbs are scattered about. There are several workers at one table sawing the leg off of a duodrone.

They explore the building a bit. Levity is very bothered by the suffering.

Meanwhile, the group creeps upstairs and listens at a bunch of doors.

At a desk is a bariaur woman muttering to herself. She's writing in a book. Pentar questions the bariaur. She tries to explain the purpose of the experiments and dismisses the pain of the modrons.
The group learns that the leader of this group is named Sithetus. He is a dustman who went back to the mortuary. He should be back soon.

Miga made a drawing in crayon of her and S3-4N. The group loves it and freaks out.

Levity lets the rest of the group in, telling the knights of tachyrym that these are mercenaries. She makes a deception check and gets a 21. The knights buy it.

S3-4N walks into the building and is horrified. He starts shaking. Miga starts screaming in terror.

Upstairs, Mercy threatens the bariaur and says that the screaming sound is the knights dying. Mercy wants to know what they're researching. The tachyrym are trying to make a powerful hybrid army. There are other bases like this out there, including an especially prominent one in the plane of Gehenna.

Gille approaches a large vat. He kicks it and a wave of acid spills out as it tips over. It dissolves the skin of a worker, and a bench is destroyed. Other workers flee.

Guards shout, sounding an alarm. Mayhem and panic ensue.

The group hates this place and wants to destroy it. Gille yells, "Justice!" Levity stabs one of them, and the guard flees.

As people flee the building in chaos, Gille dumps oil everywhere, backs toward the door and sets the place on fire.

The group stands and watches the building burn. They hear small explosions from inside. In the distance, they see some raiders in the distance returning from an expedition.

The heroes decide they'd best leave and rejoin the march.

Hell's Belles Episode 3

You can watch this episode right here.

They are playing through a classic Planescape adventure, The Great Modron March, converted to 5th edition.

The Party

DM Mazz

(Shauna) Levity - Tiefling Monk linked to Glasya
(Chloe Christine) Lyra - Tiefling Paladin
(Hadeel) Miga - Tiefling Rogue an urchin who lives by the sea
(Holly Conrad) Durge - Tiefling Bard college of whispers, member of the Dustmen
(Lysa Chen) Mercy - Tiefling Shadow sorcerer from Ravenloft
(TK Johnson) Gille - Tiefling Paladin
(KaylaPentar - Tiefling linked to Zuggtmoy

The heroes are in Mount Celestia - the seven heavens. There is a single mountain rising from an endless ocean.

The group has been stranded in the outer planes. They've been following a path created by marching modrons.

They are near the ocean, where Miga is making sandcastles. S3-4N makes wavy lines in the sand, like a moat.

Suddenly, a glowing ball of light appears. It's a lantern archon, a petitioner of Mount Celestia. It asks the group if they are lost.

Mercy begs the archon to take them home. It says it needs their help. If they can help it, it can get them home.

They meet with a sword archon named Alsiel who is serene and calm. She welcomes the group and asks them to hear her troubles. She explains that the march is headed for a town nearby - Heart's Faith. The modrons will march through and cause utter devastation.

Durge asks if they could just set the town on fire. The archon is horrified. Pentar offers to help deal with the bodies afterward.

Gille says that he will offer up a true act of heroism in exchange for a letter of recommendation.

The group tries to estimate how many modrons are marching.. it's thousands. The archon offers to transport the group to the town. They are teleported to the gate.

The guards at the gate are nervous. "Who's there?"

Durge plays a song to soothe them. They sing, "It's just Miga" over and over again.

The group enters and checks out the town. Merchants are hurrying and setting up stalls. They spot an aasimar lazily observing the scene. Pentar pokes the aasimar.

Gille tells him that the group is here to save the town from certain destruction. Mercy explains that modrons are marching toward the town.

A young lad runs up to the aasimar. "My lord! A huge army of modrons is coming! We've only got a few minutes before they're here!"

Durge is still playing music. Miga sings "You're all going to die" over and over.

One merchant approaches Durge and says he's had enough - he wants to die. Durge tells him to go tell everyone in town to leave. She says that once he has done that, he can throw himself in front of a demon.

The modrons march in to the town. There are thousands of them, of many different types. A quinton, a tall modron with wings and a domed hat, argues with a citizen, telling him he is being illogical. "You are halting our progress. You are an obstacle. Step aside or you will be removed."

S3-4N hides behind Miga and is fascinated by the various types of modrons spreading out before them.

The modrons split and they're not following the roads. Some are marching east and others are marching west. S3-4N doesn't know what's happening. It asks Miga if it should march. Miga and S3-4N march in place.

The group gets word that there are a number of locations are in peril, including the orphanage. The heroes perk up when they hear about this.

Gille quietly wonders if the group could leave Miga and S3-4n should stay at this orphanage once it is saved.

There is a magical field protecting the orphanage, but the modrons are hammering away at it, and the barrier is slowly weakening. Kids are climbing out of the orphanage windows.

One kid runs up to Miga and says that there are more children in danger and they need help.

Mercy tries to cast darkness, but the modrons have truesight and can see right through it.

They head over to another building, where a citizen points out to the modrons that they're breaking a treaty. He winks at the group. He's lying.

4 duodrones walk up and grab the man. They start pulling him apart. The group attacks.

Pentar gives herself mandibles and tears one modron apart.

Miga kills another and tears a wing off of a third. S3-4N is missing a wing, so Miga puts it on him. He holds up his fork hand and cheers for "Miga 2".

By the time the group defeats the modrons, they see that the vast majority of the march has passed through the town and are heading into a portal. Miga realizes that S3-4N is missing. After looking around frantically, she spots him marching with the other modrons through a portal!

That's where we stop!

The Lich-Queen's Begotten

 The Lich-Queen's Begotten is an adventure by MT Black that can be bought on the DMs Guild. It is meant for higher level characters (11-15) and involves an excursion into the Astral Plane.

I ran this adventure over the last few weeks and I figure I'll rattle off some thoughts about it.

I love the Astral Plane and I love the githyanki. Heck, I wrote a guide to the githyanki! I was very excited to see a 5e module that focuses on them and deals with the Lich-Queen herself.

The thing that's been bouncing around in my brain a lot in the past year or so is coming to terms with the fact that right now, in D&D, when writing an adventure, less is good.

As a reader, I love it. I have a hard time reading in general, and walls of text give me big problems. But this adventure is very breezy. I prepared the whole thing in about 3 hours. It's only about 19 pages of actual text. I think most DMs could read it in 30 minutes or so and run it successfully.

As a fledgling adventure writer, I have such a hard time with this. I feel the need to cover bases. I don't want a DM to feel like I left them in the lurch - a feeling I've felt many times when preparing an adventure.

This adventure was very succinct yet, in most instances, gave you enough to run with.

The story goes like this: The lich-queen wants to shift her soul into a living body, a "vessel of flesh". The group has to go find this vessel and get rid of it before this can happen.

The group gets involved through a chance encounter with some mindflayers. They meet a githzerai named Janara. She's a follower of the githzerai leader Menyar-Ag (who is detailed in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes), and she spouts his "wisdom" frequently. To my delight, I found that MY Black included a list of quotes for Janara to utter. I greatly enjoy things like this and was all over it.

The heroes agree to help, and they actually teleport to Tunarath - the home city of the githyanki in the Astral Plane. They appear in a district where there's piles of stuff. The group will need to ask around to find clues as to where they can find this vessel.

During this part, we're given a list of NPCs the group might interact with. One was a "brownsmith". I don't know what that is and despite my usual meticulous preparation, I forgot to google it.

Do you think that, in cases like this, the author should just state what a brownsmith is? Or should it be OK to assume the reader will google it if they don't know what it is? I don't really know the correct answer to this. It's not a huge deal, but it tripped me up for a moment until a player suggested that it was actually a "browniesmith" - a chef who specializes in brownies - and we were off to the races.

The group gets directed to a tavern where they learn about a berbalang that they need to meet. This was an instance where I felt we needed just a little more detail. I like to always have a list of drinks when running a bar, especially a planar bar. I also like to know a little about who's in the bar and what they're doing. So I grabbed some drinks from my list, threw in a duth'kagith patron (a githyanki with red dragon blood from Dungeon Magazine 100) and had some people playing "gith flay", a githyanki dice game from an old adventure from way back when.

It turned out that the berbalang the group needed was in jail. I like that, the adventure gives us a fun twist. Basically, the heroes need to break him out and then steal an astral skiff.

My group decided to have a big drinking contest right outside the jail, providing a distraction for one hero to sneak into the small jail and break out the berbalang.

I really, really like that there were two githyanki guards monitoring the jail from across the street. That's smart on their end, and keeps things from feeling too easy.

In the second session, the group had freed the berbalang and were on a skiff. As they sailed through the astral plane, they were accosted by a githyanki knight riding a red dragon!

That's an encounter I've always wanted to run. One of my favorite D&D minis is the githyanki riding a dragon. I was very excited about running this encounter.

To my amusement - the group kicked their asses. The knight was polymorphed into a turtle and the dragon was hit by a confusion spell. All of this in the first round!

As someone who always has one eye on the clock, this actually worked out fine for me. I wanted to finish this module in the session, so getting through this encounter quickly gave me plenty of time for the rest of the stuff.

The heroes sail to where the vessel of flesh is kept - a giant metal head used as a base by the githyanki. It's called Titan's End, which is an awesome name.

This is reminiscent of the best encounter I've ever run in my life - the Fortress of Three Sorrows from the Scales of War campaign. Again, I was very excited about this.

There's turrets in the eye holes of the titan's head that fire psychic bolts at the adventurers as their skiff approaches. The group blocked them off ith a wall of force and made their way inside.

They came upon a room with a throne. I got real torn up here. In this room, the group could sit in the throne and pilot the head! They could fly it around the Astral Plane! But, to my dismay, they didn't realize it. They left it.

That's one of those moments where you need to make a decision really fast. Should I tell them?! Should I use an NPC to clue them in? I really wanted them to fly this thing around, but I decided to let it go. It's possible they'll come back, right?

They go down and fight some guards. They make mincemeat of the guards (I scaled the bad guys down) and loot some rooms - they go themselves a tome of clear thought!

Then the heroes come to.. The membranous slit. This was one of the funniest things I've had happen since I started running online games. It's a bit "adult". You can check out the clips of it if you're feeling brave:

Membranous Slit 1

Membranous Slit 2

In the slit was the vessel of flesh - a 16-year old githyanki woman. The group decided to take her somewhere safe.

That triggers the big finale.. an ASTRAL DREADNOUGHT comes flying at the head! The group got in their skiff.

I found it utterly fascinating that the finish is basically a 4e skill challenge. That's a series of skill checks - the group needs 8 successes before 3 failures. I ran it, even though it they were in the skiff and not the head, mostly because I wanted to see how it would work out.

It worked pretty great! The big problem with skill challenges is the abstract rules - can they use spells? What if they come up with a clever solution that should end it early? Will that make for a satisfying end or is it an anti-climax?

It worked for us in this instance! The heroes led the astral dreadnought into a field of dream bubbles.

Great adventure! You should definitely check it out! It's only about $4.

Here's our playthrough of it, in two sessions:

Part One:

Part Two:

Rivals of Waterdeep Episode 5

Rivals of Waterdeep - Episode 5: “Getting to Know You”

By Dylan Ramsey

You can find this episode on Youtube, and as a podcast. It’s mislabeled on the Wizards of the Coast Youtube as “Episode 4″, just like the session from the Stream of Many Eyes is mislabeled as “Episode 1″. You can watch this episode on Youtube, or listen to it as a podcast.

Aram Vartian - Dungeon Master

(Surena Marie) Ashbourne - Half-Elf Ranger
(Carlos Luna) Nocnoc - Half-Orc Fighter
(Cicero Holmes) Perrin - Halfling Bard
(Tanya DePass) Selise - Human Paladin of Tyr
(Shareef Jackson) Shaka - Tiefling Warlock
(Brandon Stennis) Rinn - High Elf Sorcerer

Since Brandon couldn’t make it this week, Rinn goes off on a date with the elf gambler he met at the Lucky Duck. Otherwise, we pick up right where we left off, with the party leaving Blackstaff Tower.
Perrin has heard about ‘Golorr’ before, so this new clue ‘The Stone of Golorr has three eyes’, gives them more information about this stone, which was evidently used to store the memories of Lord Neverember, who hid the gold the party are looking for. Mayor Melody says that she has a contact in the Xanathar’s Guild who has some information that he’s willing to trade. Melody’s also identified the half-orc that attacked the party as Ziraj the Hunter, who’s something of a legendary mercenary in the area, supposedly never seen outside of his brutal attacks. Nocnoc calls him “Garage”. Selise checks the Burn Book for him, but Ziraj is not in there. Shaka is nervous, because the situation reminds him of being young, and hunted by tiefling-hating humans.

The Blackstaff wizard, Fora, who probed Shaka’s mind before, approaches them before they depart. She says she wants to assist the party to try and apologize for how they’ve been treated. She gives them magic torches that will burn for 8 hours, even underwater. The command word is ‘Light’ in Elven. She clarifies that command words don’t need to be spoken with the mouth, “as the torch has no ears”, so much as it needs to be turned like a key in a lock. So it will work underwater just as well. She also gives them a bird figurine that they can use to send her a message if need be.

As they’re headed back into town, Perrin spots the urchin boy they met, Kelm, scamming folks with a shell game. Ashbourne reveals that she used to run games like that when she was younger, while Chips (her fox) robbed people, putting on a little bandit mask and everything to throw suspicion onto nearby raccoons instead. Perrin wants to give the game a shot. Kelm rolls a 25 for his sleight of hand check; Perrin gets a NAT 20 on his perception! He’s seen this shit before, and turns Kelm’s hand over to reveal that the ball isn’t under ANY of the cups. He tells the kid to work on his game and maybe, one day, he’ll be a great bard just like him. Kelm says that if he’s so great, he should try-out for a chance to win “The Grand Tour”, a year-long series of shows fully-paid for by the nobility.

Everyone jokes about how they barely remember this kid despite talking to him “earlier today” (episode 4 was played at the Stream of Many Eyes a few weeks before even episode 1). They give Kelm some food and silver and tell him to take care of himself. He tells the party they should be more quiet so they don’t get hurt themselves, because if they keep doing things the way they have been, then everyone’s going to know their business.

The party splits up the following morning. Perrin heads to the auditions, with Ashbourne as his manager. Shaka and Nocnoc decide to hunt down Ziraj. Selise and Mayor Melody go to the meeting with the Xanathar’s agent. The group comes up with a song for every time they split the party from now on.

Perrin and Ash meet a puppeteer named Nicholas Fernsberry at the auditions. Ash persuades Nicholas to take a dive and talk up Perrin so that the halfling can win. While Perrin gets the fame, they’ll give Nicholas the prize money so that he can pay off the dowry for the woman he wants to marry.

Meanwhile, Selise heads to the meeting place with Melody. Naral Xibrindas is one of the Xanathar’s advisors, and knows Melody because a group of drow pay to rent all the hunting lodges around Nightstone once per year. Something shady was probably going on, but the mayor never asked any questions. While Naral and Melody talk, Selise sits nearby and strikes up a conversation with some city watchmen on break. She notices too late as another elf approaches, and lobs a fireball at her companions!

Nocnoc and Shaka head back to the alley where they were attacked by Ziraj to look for clues. They don’t find any. They decide to go to the Grand Tour auditions--Nocnoc says he can do sock puppet stuff, while Shaka knows a lot of math jokes. He’s kind of a mathmagician.

Ashbourne lowers down on a rope to introduce Perrin with a burst of silvery powder, and she sells it 110%. Perrin glides out with his drum, and starts some Cuban-style conga rhythm. He gets a 24 on his performance! The crowd starts chanting “P.U., P.U., P.U.!” Perrin moonwalks across the powder-covered floor, and the powder ignites in explosions of pink and green and blue that drives the crowd absolutely WILD!!!

Selise shouts as the fireball spirals towards Melody and Naral. Melody leaps into a fountain, but Naral isn’t able to move in time and is vaporized in the explosion. There is smoke everywhere and Selise loses sight of the drow who threw the fireball. Melody shows Selise that Naral had a bag, but whatever was inside it was taken. Naral said that he thought the Xanathar was onto him, as was another group that he was acting as a double-agent for--the Bregan D’aerthe (Jarlaxle Baenre’s mercenary group!!!). Selise tells Melody to be safe and find the rest of the party while she tracks down the drow. She follows their trail to a darkened building and is ambushed by the dark elves.
Nocnoc and Shaka arrive just in time to see the end of Perrin’s performance. They are amazed. They are welcomed to the theater by a puppet named Richard Stickleson. Shaka is freaked out because he sees no strings on it, while Nocnoc is blown away. Then Nicholas Fernsberry pops out from under the table where the puppet is. They ask Nicholas about Ziraj, and the puppeteer says he could try and put them in contact with the bounty hunter for 5gp. Perrin signs autographs while Ashbourne’s fox, Chips, collects tips. Melody bursts in and tells the party that Selise needs their help.

Selise tries to shield bash her drow attacker, but he dodges and points a pistol into her face. Selise has two attacks because she’s level 5 now though, and swings her sword around with a NAT 20, slicing the drow’s hand right off. His gun falls to the floor as he screams, running for a back staircase. He hurls something out a window and yells, “JUST TAKE IT!”

Selise gets the thing the drow through out the window--it’s the three-eyed Stone of Golorr!! As she touches it, she finds herself deep underwater. A huge monstrosity with tentacles and three glowing eyes looms before her. As suddenly as she has this vision, she is back in the street with the stone, wrapping it up in her cape just as the rest of the party arrive.

Rivals of Waterdeep Episode 4

Rivals of Waterdeep - Episode 4: “Tricks and Stones”

By Dylan Ramsey

This is a weird one, because, although this is the 4th episode, this session served as the premiere for the entire show at the Stream of Many Eyes! And boy is it a good one! You can find this episode on Youtube, and as a podcast.

Aram Vartian - Dungeon Master

(Surena Marie) Ashbourne - Half-Elf Ranger
(Carlos Luna) Nocnoc - Half-Orc Fighter
(Cicero Holmes) Perrin - Halfling Bard
(Tanya DePass) Selise - Human Paladin of Tyr
(Shareef Jackson) Shaka - Tiefling Warlock
(Brandon Stennis) Rinn - High Elf Sorcerer

Featuring Christopher Lindsay as Mirt the Moneylender
“Last time”, the party had arrived in Waterdeep in search of the treasure rumored to lie hidden in the city. They set up a meeting with Mirt the Moneylender to try and get the old merchant-lord to help them out. That’s where we begin...

Mirt tells the party that the mages of Blackstaff Tower have a scroll that they believe will reveal the location of the dragon hoard that everyone is looking for, but they can’t decipher it on their own. To even take a look at the scroll, the mages require a 100,000 gold piece fee! Luckily, Mirt is willing to loan them the money at a 50% rate. Perrin casts ‘Suggestion’ on Mirt, who rolls a NATURAL 1 on his saving throw! He lowers his rate to 25%. The party takes it!

They stop by a tavern, The Raven’s Claw, for a celebratory drink. Ashbourne says with all the money they could get out of this, she could even pay her mentor’s bail. Shaka pays off the bartender to see what she knows about Blackstaff Tower, but she doesn’t know anything. Shaka’s pretty sure she’s flirting with him. Nocnoc tries to take Selise’s drink, but she tells him to back off, “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to drink it--I’m a paladin, I’m not dead!”

A kid snatches Rinn’s purse as they head back out onto the street, but the greedy elf shoots out a hand and grabs him by the wrist. They have a discussion with the boy. Evidently, Rinn hasn’t had a friend in 114 years, but the kid has a ton even though he’s only 7. They try to convince the kid to show them around the sewers, but the kid says that just because he’s a street urchin doesn’t mean he doesn’t have important things to do and takes off.

The party arrive at Blackstaff Tower. They are led to the scroll chamber. The scroll is written in a runic cipher, and the only way to read it is to turn over a series of runestones, but doing so is very dangerous, as turning the stones could stir up angry spirits. Thanks to the work of #TeamVolo during the #NoStoneUnturned event leading up to the Stream of Many Eyes, one of the stones is warded and will be safe for them to turn over! Radical.

Perrin casts ‘Comprehend Languages’, but he still cannot read the runes. The party ask him what language it is, and he says it is “Urban Elven”--”Nobody knows what that is, it seems to change ALL THE TIME!” They figure out that Rinn can’t read it because he’s a suburban elf.

Shaka suggests that they figure out which rune appears the most times on the scroll before proceeding. Nocnoc says the warlock is the brains of this operation, but Perrin points out that he’s covering his brains with his hat. Shaka admits he wears it because he’s a little embarrassed about his horns--they’re deformed. Nocnoc tells him not to worry, it happens to a lot of guys. Perrin says that the way Shaka is dressed reminds him of the famous tiefling bard--L.L. Cool Tiefling.

They turn over the first stone. There is a harmless puff of air. The rune is an ‘E’. The message reads:
‘xxE xxxxE xx xxxxxx xxx xxxEE ExEx’

Shaka uses his ‘Mage Hand’ to turn over another rock. A column of flame explodes from the runestone, and a fire elemental attacks! Nocnoc pulls out big iron arrows that function as shortswords and attacks. Shaka uses his magic vision to identify a ruby floating inside the elemental that is its weak point, and tells everyone to aim for the gem. Ashbourne finds a bucket of water in this chamber and dunks it onto the elemental with a NAT 20 and it is extinguished!

Nocnoc says they solved the puzzle--it’s “Friendship”. Aram says “Friendship” doesn’t have an “E”, then quickly realizes he’s wrong. “FRIENDSHIP HAS AN E IN IT, COME ON, WIZARD!”
The next rune is an ‘O’.

‘xxE xxOxE Ox xOxOxx xxx xxxEE ExEx’

Perrin points out that the third word is “Of”. Ashbourne says that if it is, then there aren’t anymore ‘F’s. Perrin says “I don’t give an F.” Selise flips another stone, and it suddenly becomes incredibly heavy in her hand. The room rumbles as the floor forms into a rock elemental! Nocnoc looks at Ashbourne,

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Rock who?”


Nocnoc leaps onto the elemental and lands a NAT 20 on it! The creature almost instantly collapses into dust! “You took ya’ life for granite! Get it, guys? Granite?” The third rune is an ‘R’.

‘xxE xxOxE OF xOxORR xxx xxREE ExEx’

Ashbourne and Rinn say that the first word HAS to be “The”, and as they do, the corresponding stones flash with light and the message translates a little more,


Selise has a moment of doubt after the battle with the elemental, as if her god hadn’t been with her during the fight. Her companions help the paladin recenter herself. She focuses and feels the flame of her faith slowly rekindle. Aram gives her inspiration.

Selise turns over another runestone, and is immediately caught up in a watery form. She is grappled by a water elemental and gets a NAT 1 to escape! Someone in the audience reminds her that she has advantage. She rerolls. NAT 20! Selise bursts out of the water elemental in a blast of divine energy. Her god hadn’t abandoned her, he was merely holding back because he KNEW that she would need ALL of his power for this mighty strike! She gets a free ‘Thunderous Smite’!

They defeat the creature and look at the last stone. The rune on it is an ‘G’. They flip over one more rock really quickly, and an air elemental begins to form! Ashbourne yells that she would like to solve the puzzle,


The Blackstaff thanks them for solving the riddle for him and tells them that they served their purpose... “now get out of my tower”. That’s where we end it.

If you’ve been following Rina’s Dark & Dicey recaps, you might know that the Shenanigang got their hands on the Stone of Golorr later that day during the Stream of Many Eyes and renamed it “Google McGuffin”. Chris Perkins has also brought the stone up on Dice Camera Action!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hell's Belles Episode 2

You can watch this episode right here.

They are playing through a classic Planescape adventure, The Great Modron March, converted to 5th edition.

The Party

DM Mazz

(Shauna) Levity - Tiefling Monk linked to Glasya
(Chloe Christine) Lyra - Tiefling Paladin
(Hadeel) Miga - Tiefling Rogue an urchin who lives by the sea
(Holly Conrad) Durge - Tiefling Bard college of whispers, member of the Dustmen
(Lysa Chen) Mercy - Tiefling Shadow sorcerer from Ravenloft
(TK Johnson) Gille - Tiefling Paladin
(KaylaPentar - Tiefling linked to Zuggtmoy

A month has passed since the last episode. The group is living in the office building in the Clerk's Ward. S3-4N is folding laundry... packets..!

Gille is writing letters to his father. Durge is outside handing out True Death pamphlets to people on the streets of Sigil.

Lira has a dream - a message from her god. She's being directed to go to Arcadia.

The group makes their way through a portal to Arcadai. They bring S3-4N along. Miga wants him to dig in the sand. He does so, with his fork hand. They put mushrooms on him. Because she likes to clean things, Mercy polishes it off. This kind of thing happens every day, we are told.

Gille is sort of wondering why Miga, who is a little kid, is even with the group. She's an orphan, so the group has taken pity on her.

They dig up a treasure - a piece of cheese. Miga takes a bite. She makes her Con save. Pentar, a fungus enthusiast,  eats the whole thing.

Lyra leads the group toward a mountain. It is Mount Clangeddin - where the dwarven gods of battle live. Lyra pushes open a set of doors.

The group explores a bit and are attacked by two metallic snakes.  One snake bites Mercy and does 9 damage to her. Gille is bit - he's poisoned and confused.

S3-4N does a cool 5 damage with the fork. S34N actually kills one, which is awesome. Durge kills the other one, stabbing it through the head, Australian Outback style.

The group explores a bit and comes to a square room with levers on the walls. Levity pulls two levers, and a door slides open. Beyond it, there's a figure lying on the floor. It's a black dragonborn. He ate a mushroom and he got here... this is Pentar's doing.

Down a corridor is a marble arch. There's a pedestal with a crystal sphere on it.

They find a bunch of bones, and up ahead they see a shimmering mithral tankard. There are joyous dwarven faces carved on it. Levity approaches it - she can sense a magic aura around it.

After some study, Levity realizes that speaking a command word fills it with dwarven ale. It's basically an endless mug of ale. Perfect for Levity, who is a drunken master monk.

Lyra feels drawn to a nearby bowl. She senses that her god wants to talk to her through it.

S3-4N is walking around, on snake patrol. He looks up and starts poking at the bones. "What is dead?", he asks Durge. Durge enthusiastically explains that dead means "deactivated."

He asks Miga if she will deactivate. "No, probably not." He perks up and nods.

Lyra has a vision - she sees eyes in darkness. Her god tells her that it is impossible to divine the future. Soon, she will see nothing and will be nothing. This has something to do with Mercy.

Gille pulls Lyra aside and tells her that they are in a temple of Selune. Lyra thinks it was Savras who contacted her. Savras is a god of divination who sees all and knows all. He's often worshiped by spellcasters, and his symbol is a circle full of eyes.

Lyra is confused - she doesn't want to be linked to Savras. Lyra says she was an urchin as a child. Gille is a bit put off, coming from a noble family and everything.

Miga made a drawing with crayons. Hadeel did this in real life with real crayons. Her hands are dirty. She asks Mercy to clean them. Mercy enthusiastically does so, with prestidigitation.

That's where we stop! 

TK requests fan art of S3-4N fighting a burning snake.

Heyy! They gave me a shout out at the end! Sheesh, how lucky am I?


Fun show! Looking forward to seeing the group deal with a horde of modrons in the coming weeks. Levity with a mug of endless ale should be quite amusing.

Rivals of Waterdeep Episode 3

Rivals of Waterdeep - Episode 3: “Hide and Seek”

This episode is available on Youtube and as a podcast.

Aram Vartian - Dungeon Master

(Surena Marie) Ashborne - Half-Elf Ranger
(Carlos Luna) Nocnoc - Half-Orc Fighter
(Cicero Holmes) Perrin - Halfling Bard
(Tanya DePass) Selise - Human Paladin of Tyr
(Shareef Jackson) Shaka - Tiefling Warlock
(Brandon Stennis) Rinn - High Elf Sorcerer

The party are on the High Road, one day out from Waterdeep. Last time, they learned about a treasure that could buy Nightstone’s freedom from the curse left by Graz'zt. In the intro, the brass cube that Graz’zt’s cambion children both want used the art for a cubic gate. Curiouser and curiouser!

The Waterdhavian scout that is escorting the party is named Roland Holbrook. He is in love with a noblewoman, but doesn’t think he has much of a chance. Ashbourne says she could Cyrano de Bergerac it for him, but he politely declines.

Shaka checks in on Melody, the mayor of Nightstone, who is making note of her contacts in Waterdeep. She has a cousin who owns a hotel known as The Jade Rose, and she can probably set up a suite for them there.

As they continue traveling, Perrin spots a group of sixteen wood elves flanking the road ahead. Nocnoc recognizes them as his graduating class. Liatha, Nocnoc’s instructor at the academy, steps forward and says that the elders foresaw that he would not return from his last mission, but would find another calling in the process. She is here to deliver him a Dragonbane Arrow and a magical dart that can return to his hand after being thrown. These are the first presents Nocnoc has ever been given, and he feels like he’s experiencing every uncelebrated birthday all at once.

A bright red flare streaks across the sky, and Roland takes off towards it. Nocnoc recognizes this as a signal that something wrong is happening. Suddenly, a scream emanates out of Selise’s bag--it came from the Burn Book. A bookmark appeared on a page indicating a cabin just off the highway. They go to check it out.

Rinn and Selise knock on the door, and are let in by a guy who looks like an older version of the image in the Burn Book. He introduces himself as Naral, and welcomes them in. There’s a creepy boy drawing gaping mouths over and over again on a piece of paper. Rinn says “There’s something not right about that boy,” the father shoots him a look, “He seems really nice.” As they’re sneaking around the outside of the cabin, Nocnoc and Ashbourne see that there are two decapitated cats under the house.

Naral says that his son, Jeremy, witnessed his mother being murdered years ago when their caravan was attacked. Selise asks if she can try and help the boy. As she attempts to lay on hands him, Jeremy glares and grabs her hand. Selise sees an older Jeremy with his hands wrapped around her throat. Jeremy’s father scolds him, while Selise warns Naral that the things his son experienced affected him deeply. Selise and Rinn (amazingly!) give the father six gold--a huge amount--to help and support the boy! Naral asks if Selise can put in a word with the church in Waterdeep, as he’s been trying to petition them for aid for years with no reply.

Nocnoc leaves a mark near the house for his elven brothers, asking that they watch over this place. Aram gives him inspiration!

Roland returns and says that it was evidently a false alarm.

The party reach a large bridge over the Dessarin River. A scout on a griffin soars overhead and Roland salutes him. Ashbourne asks Roland if they have classes for that kind of thing, and the scout tells them that security at this checkpoint has been bumped up since they received word of what happened at Nightstone.

Two paladins of Lathander approach and make sure the party is on the up-and-up. They stop at Shaka and draw their swords, telling him to remove his hat. He does, revealing his horns, and the guards point out that “the touch of the demonic” is upon him. A woman with a black staff asks if she can search Shaka’s thoughts and make sure he is not in league with Graz’zt. Shaka notes that this is a violation of his rights, while Selise points out how unjust this is. Perrin offers to “take care of” the guards, but they give him a “Don’t even think about it” look. The wizard apologizes and starts probing Shaka’s thoughts. He realizes that she is going to find out about his patron and brings to the forefront of his mind the moment when he got his white robes--a very emotional point in his life, as he had worn nothing but tattered clothing up to that point. Suddenly... Shaka is standing alone on the road.

He turns to see a goldfish in a bowl sitting on a pedestal. Shaka realizes that the goldfish is his patron! Shaka can see the woman sifting through his thoughts, but this part of his mind has been cordoned off by a bubble. The goldfish leaps, and a large wave overcomes Shaka, burning his eyes. He sees in a puddle that his eyes fade to a smoky gray--he is now able to see in complete darkness! It would be absolutely hilarious if the Xanathar's goldfish, Sylgar, turned out to be Shaka's "Great Old One" patron.

The woman finishes and they are allowed through the checkpoint. The sun sets by the time the party reach Waterdeep.

Roland escorts them to the office of Laeral Silverhand, the Open Lord of Waterdeep. They fill her in on what happened. Laeral says that she believes there is a reason that they are involved in this matter, and gives them maps of Waterdeep and the chambers beneath it (including Skullport) before dismissing them. They are let out into the South Ward--a melting pot and hub for travelers. Mayor Melody takes them to The Jade Rose before everyone splits up and goes to one of the three nearby taverns.

At Gildrof’s Tavern, Selise and Nocnoc meet Gildrof, a female cloud giant behind the bar! Wow! Nocnoc feels like he’s in the giant’s dollhouse, and can tell that she’s absolutely thrilled to be socializing with these tiny little people. Gildrof is a follower of Lliira! She is amazed when Selise tells her about meeting an avatar of Our Lady of Joy. Nocnoc gets a t-shirt with Gildrof’s face on it, as well as a souvenir mug.

Shaka and Perrin head to the Rusty Nail, a known meeting place for the unsavory. The bouncer is intimidated by Perrin to let them in--he has a phobia of short people! Shaka buys Perrin a drink as thanks for getting them in. They learn that there’s a gang war brewing between the Zhentarim and the Xanathar’s Guild over the dragon hoard. The hoard once belonged to a lord who put all memories of the treasure’s location into a magical stone. The word ‘Golorr’ stands out to them as the only clue.

Ashbourne and Rinn go to a gambling hall called The Lucky Duck. There are three games: one with dice called Tymora’s Luck; one with cards called Abbathor’s Gambit; and one called the Run of Mersif (or Run of Luck when translated from Dwarvish) that involves lizards racing each other through a maze (tonight’s lizards are Pitterpatter, Fleetfeet, Flyswatter, Zoobers, and Tiny Dragon). They decide to check out Abbathor’s Gambit, which has a high-rollers table where people bet magic items instead of gold. Winner takes all. Rinn bets his staff. Rinn gets a 10 on his roll... his opponent gets a 13. OOF! The winner, an elf named Zor, says that he’ll return the staff if Ashbourne and Rinn tell him why they’re here. Ashbourne says they’re investigating crimes. Zor gives Rinn appraising eyes as he hands the sorcerer back his staff.

The party reunite. A kid throws a rock at them and runs off--Nocnoc, Ashbourne, and Rinn chase after him. They turn a corner and a half-orc archer on a rooftop fires an arrow into each of them. Rinn hits the half-orc with his crossbow, but the guy doesn’t even register the bolt through his leg as he starts to line up another shot. Nocnoc starts climbing the building and tosses his magic dart, piercing their assailant through the forearm. The rest of the party arrives. The half-orc sees this and sprints away over the rooftops. They try to give chase, but he’s gone!

Wondering who the heck the guy who ambushed them was, the party return to The Jade Rose, and Melody tells them that she was able to set up the meeting with Mirt the Moneylender for tomorrow morning.  If you want to watch Episode 4 where that happens, it’s already out!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Riddle of the Raven Queen

A few new DMs Guild adventures came out in the past month and I'll be running all of them on my Twitch channel. Last night, I finished running the first of these - The Riddle of the Raven Queen.

The Raven Queen has always been mega-popular, so I think it was a good idea to make this. Fun fact: The Guide to the Raven Queen I wrote years ago still gets read all the time. I think it's because of Critical Role.

So, what's this adventure about? Is it good?

The Story: An elven settlement has been getting attacked by bands of drow. An important member of the community, the Starsinger, has been abducted. The heroes need to get the Starsinger back.

The heroes look for clues and track the drow back to their lair in the forest. But they don't find the Starsinger - they find a shadar kai.

The shadar kai explains that his people abducted the Starsinger because the Raven Queen wants to bask in her sorrow (the Starsinger's family was recently killed). The shadar kai helps the group get to the Shadowfell.

There, the group must navigate the village of Broken Dreams, pass some tests, and then go deal with some agents of Vecna. Once the agents of Vecna are dealt with, the raven Queen will hand over the Starsinger.

The beginning was OK. When preparing this section, I had a bit of a hard time understanding why the Starsinger was so important to anyone. The elven village was pretty interesting.

The drow lair was fun enough. The entrance guardians were very cool, and I liked the room with the cells in it. My group actually walked into the drow barracks. Just opened the door! A dozen drow got ready to attack, but one hero quickly used magic to collapse the ceiling on them.

That worked out good for me, because when running a streaming game, I don't like too many fights/drawn out fights. A battle against 12 drow felt like a waste of time to me. We had two hours total, and I wanted to finish chapter two by the end of the session, so the collapse was perfect.

The idea for the collapse partially came about because the adventure does a great job of making each locale unique - much is made of the low earthen ceiling in the drow lair.

Once the shadar kai is rescued, he can get the group to the Shadowfell. I'd have liked a bit more detail on the ritual.

Then we get to chapter three - the Village of Broken Dreams. I LOVE this chapter. We are given about 5 small encounters in the streets, and three tests that the Raven Queen puts the group through.

The Curse of the Evergloom: Every hour, each hero must make a saving throw against the evergloom of the Shadowfell. If you fail, you lose one trait: A bond, flaw, or ideal!

I love that so much. Bonds and flaws are things that don't come into play much at all, but here, they're put to great use. The Shadowfell slowly steals away everything that makes your character who they are!

There is a way to block this: Touchstones. Characters can declare items as symbolic touchstones - things that represent who they are. For example, there's a character everyone calls "Mistletoe" in my group. He wears a crown of Mistletoe. He decided to make it a touchstone. As long as he has that touchstone, the Shadowfell cannot steal his bond from him. Each character can have four touchstones, with one representing a flaw, bond, trait, etc.

Touchstones have value because of this! People will try to steal them! The Raven Queen might even want them.

What was most amusing was that there's two heroes in my group - Ramrod and Asana. They have a budding relationship that the group likes to call: "AssRod." They declared each other as a touchstone. So then, if Ramrod was abducted somehow, Asana lost a touchstone and the Evergloom could potentially steal a trait away from him.

I love this whole idea so much. It worked great!

How to Win D&D: One mini encounter here involves an old lady's shop. I decided to use it to "win" D&D. How?

The group has been trolling me about shiftspice, a rare githzerai magic spice that I keep saying only comes in elaborate containers, but the players insist that it comes in "flavor packets".

I decided that in this store was a container of shadowspice - a spice that loses its magic properties if not in a glass container! It literally can not come in a flavor packet!

I gleefully rolled this idea out. At last! No more flavor packets! At least, not for shadowspice!

Then Lindy, who plays Asana says, "I have a glassblowing kit." No. No! It can't be!

She really did! The group was delighted. They could make glass flavor packets! How could this be?! Impossible, I say!

Anyway, the group went through the tests. Each test is meant to be tailored to the individual traits of the heroes, but I didn't do such a great job of it. Still, the encounters worked well enough.

The Raven Queen's speaker agreed to give the group the Starsinger if the group would retrieve a stolen mask.

The group was off to the lair of the Vecna cult. This is a tiny dungeon whose map was unlabeled for some reason. We were almost out of time so I removed some encounters. The final bad guy is a skull lord. The heroes were clever and able to cut a deal with him rather than have a big battle with him.

The heroes were successful and rescued the Starsinger! They were able to get back to the elven village. There, Ramrod surprised us all. He had written Asana a poem. I found it to be absolutely hilarious and now Asana and Ramrod are an official couple. They're a couple of classic characters, in my opinion, and I'm very much looking forward to running more stuff for this group in two weeks.

Overall: Chapter 3 is what makes this adventure good. It's definitely worth using if you're planning on having your group go to the Shadowfell for whatever reason.

This adventure most definitely needs an editing pass. I'm no stranger to typos and awkward phrasing, so I sympathize, but this book has a lot of little spots that need touching up.

I also think they should clarify the explanation as to how the group gets to the Vecna lair and the whole thing with the door to the fortress of sorrow. I didn't get it. Maybe that's just me.

So, it's not perfect, but the most important thing to me is good ideas, and this adventure definitely delivers in that department!

Here's the youtube videos of our playthrough. Part 1:

Part 2. In the final minute, Ramrod reads his poem. Best thing ever!