D&D Gaming Philosophy

I am starting a new D&D 5E campaign that will include some new players. I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some gaming tips.

Have fun. This is a game.

Love your character. Get into the story. But remember at the end of the day, this is a game. We are all coming together to have a good time. Sometimes the most fun comes from unexpected failures. Embrace them and make them work for your story!

Don’t be a dick.

Respect your fellow players and your game master. Find ways to work with your teammates and the story. While I as the GM might joke about plotting players’ demise, ultimately, I want to see you win. You are the heroes of this story.

Evil Player Characters Suck

Generally, I am not going to concern myself with your character’s alignment. I may inadvertently roll my eyes in exasperation at some character decisions because … Hey, I am human … despite what some may suggest! That being said, I have rarely seen an evil character that has been fun to have in a D&D party. Cruelty for cruelty sake is what the bad guys do. Buuuut … if you have a clever idea for a character concept, talk to me.

Do not hate the GM. Hate the fictional villains!

My job as a game master is to challenge the party and give you an exciting world to explore. We are writing this epic story together. I am on your side, even when you decimate my Big Bad in one round. I may cry a little on the inside, but if you are all happy dancing, then it was worth it.

Actions have consequences.

Whether you help the old lady cross the street or backstab the beggar boy, the people and the environment will react accordingly. For example, reputations can affect how NPCs help with information gathering or the cost of goods.

It is okay to run away.

Sometimes there will be adversaries that will kick your ass if you try to take them head on. Hiding, running away, negotiation, or surrender are all possible alternatives. Not all the bad guys are going to be level-appropriate combat encounters. Sometimes you may have to come back later and get revenge.

The GM will make mistakes.

Yup. I won’t always make the right call on a rule. I am going to TRY not stop the flow of the game by looking up rules, as I have in the past.  I will try to make a reasonable, fair call at the time. In the same regard, I ask that players not argue about the rules during the game. Let’s talk about it afterwards!

The GM will make mistakes but can improve with help!

If you feel that I am not being consistent or fair or am playing favorites, talk to me about it after the game. I might not ever realize it until someone (gently) points it out to me. Also, sometimes my memory is shit and I legitimately won’t remember something.

Gallery

Map: Pillar House Tavern & Inn

Floor plan for a tavern and inn
The Pillar 3-Story Tavern and Inn with color coded levels. Scroll down to see the other iterations of this map.

Pillar House History

The Pillar House straddles a canyon where a tributary of the Irewrathe River rushes past 50 feet below. This is the narrowest spot to cross the wild Irewrathe River for many miles. This tributary was always popular with those wanting to avoid the main routes guarded by local constabulary.

The owner, Galspar the Delightful, built the original house as revenge for a mostly forgotten squabble. All right. You caught me. That is a lie. The story is a bit of a legend in these parts.

The squabble goes something like this … Four bandits demanded a toll to cross a rope bridge at this crossing and the wizard Galspar and his party of adventurers were not inclined to pay and killed those 4 bandits. The Bandit Master was not terribly happy about Galspar’s response and a mini war ensued. By the time the dust settled, only the Bandit Master and Galspar were still standing. An agreement was reached between the two, but little of the details are known.

At the spot where the original rope bridge stood, Galspar the Delightful crafted great pillars of stone jutting out of the raging waters. (There are rumors that a bargain was struct with a clan of earth elementals who guard and reinforce the pillars. But surely that is just a rumor?) The pillars created a deadly maze for anyone trying to navigate the river by boat. Atop these pillars, Galspar built his house and settled into retirement. Did he allow others to cross the canyon there? No. He did not. He and his house sat there like an angry, bloated toad. Travelers went around the long way. Somehow though, those affiliated with the Bandit Master (know thieves cant?) were able to safely get through maze of pillars in the river below.

After a few short years, Galspar the (Less than) Delightful, grew bored with retirement and sold the house to Dovilynn Warmdelver, an entrepreneurial dwarf who had grown tired of the smugglers life and had a great idea for Galspar’s place.

Dovi converted the house into a tavern & inn and named it the Pillar House Tavern & Inn. Past associates appreciated a place to quench their thirst and rest up. Though the law would occasionally raid the place, they were never able find any evidence that the clever dwarf giving shelter to wanted criminals or storing illegal goods. Of course, both were absolutely true.

There are several hidden rooms in the River Pillar House. One of the secret rooms has 4 beds for those the law is after. Another is for storage. And the third is the owner’s bathroom, because being a tavern owner means not sharing your damn bathroom with a bunch of drunkards. Two trap doors can be accessed from below if you know where and how to climb the right pillars.

Beneath the house, earth elementals (2-6) and water elementals (1-4) make their home. If a boat tries to navigate the pillars without the right Thieves Cant signals, they will attack. They get first choice on any of the items from the slain. The rest they leave in a cave for the tavern. If you DO have the correct Thieves Cant signals, the water elemental smoothly carries you through the pillar maze to the other side.

Eight beds for rent

The River Pillar House Inn & Tavern has 8 beds for rent to the public. All but one in shared rooms.

On the main level is a room with four regular beds in one, as well as one room that has an extra-large bed for larger bodies or who just like to sleep in groups. For the smaller folk such as halflings and gnomes, an optional bunting board can divide one of the regular beds into two smaller beds.

On the mezzanine is a room with three regular beds next to the shared bathrooms. The bathroom has three holes and a semi-private bathtub.

Hidden on the mezzanine level is a room with 4 regular-sized beds that the Thieves Guild rent when someone needs to stay out of the public eye. There is a second secret door from this room that allows the sneaky visitors quick access to the bathrooms, but they will still need to use their stealth to ensure that others in the inn do not spot them. Otherwise they can use the bed pans.

Map Iterations

Includes the maps showing all 3 floors labeled with and without color-coded levels, individual level maps with their secret rooms, and one with no text or furniture.

Image

Map: Hillsworth Crooked House

A fantasy hand-sketched building map for role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons (Dnd). I would use it in a D&D 5th Edition game, myself, ’cause that’s my jab. I’ve been drawing more floor plans of late and have a couple of more that will be coming along.

About Hillsworth

Calling this large, brick edifice a “house” may be a bit of a stretch. It has the look of a building that started out with the best intention and then had rooms randomly added on without much concern for square corners or aesthetics.

A large deck on the west side faces the Hespharla Stream. On the east side, low rolling grassy hills protect the house from the winds coming over the meadows.

Colored version of a building floor plan

Raw Sketch

Original pencil-sketch of the Hillsworth Manor. When I brought the file into Photoshop, I had the walls all cleaned up and straight, but decided that this house really wanted to keep it’s crooked personality.

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 8

Grid map of dungeon

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (Photo by me)

Chapter 8

Game Day 7/5/2019

Waking Up Is Hard to Do … When Your Friend is a Mummy

Fizzle and Tholin have had a long rest in the closet they were trapped in by now-mummified Kromnak. Looking around the small 10×5 space, they realize that they are in some kind of control closet with lights, and buttons, and unidentifiable mechanics.

They discuss their options and decide to try pushing a button. There are 4 buttons: Red, Magenta, Fuchsia, and Puce. Tholin gives Fizzle a boost to reach them and Fizzle pushes a puce colored one. Nothing seems to happen. 

Fizzle and Tholin listen at the door. [Fizzle perception: 22] They hear the sound of rotting flesh and Dora the Door sobbing. Tholin suggests we put Kromnak out of our, I mean, his misery and Fizzle agrees. The door, it creaks as we slowly push it open. We see Kromnak is a desiccated mummy standing frozen by the door. His shriveled hands grasp his sword “Flame,Flame”. He is a gruesome site! Fizzle is feeling he won’t be getting his guild deposit for Kromnak back. 

As Tholin has the only sword between them, it is decided he will dispatch mummy-Kromnak to a better place. With a mighty swing he severs Kromnak’s head from his shriveled body. We remove Dora the Door from the headless body and leaned her up against the wall. We recover the items Kromnak was carrying: the flame sword, 2 javelins, bull-horned helmet, belt pouch, 13 crossbow bolts, potion of climbing, 2 hand axes, and the circlet of protection. We leave his great axe and heavy crossbow. I bless the body, “He lived, he drank, he fought, he died.” 

Breaking In and Making Friends

crop of just the prisoner section of the dungeon

Tholin uses the chime of unlocking on the cell door and we push it open and enter. There is a hallway to the right and in front of us.  Some shelves on the wall to the left have personal items (like weapons, armor, bags)  in neatly labeled stacks. A cell door is visible across the hall on the right and more cells further down. 

Examining the stuff on the shelves it looks like there are possibly 5 prisoners in here. There is also an unlabeled set of black plate armor. For now, we leave the items on the shelves.  

Looking in the first cell, we see a modest cell with a bed and desk. There is a waterfall and pool towards the back. We see a fox, but there appears to be no other occupant. “Hello? Anyone there?” No answer. We move to the next cell. It is much the same but there is a lizard in this cell. Fizzle tries to communicate with the lizard. “Hello can … you … understand … me …?” 

The lizard turns into a pretty female half elf (Moora) and says, “You’re an idiot, aren’t cha?” We learn she is one of the components in The Spell, so is one of the people we have come to rescue. From Chapter 1:

Also the captive below the ruins seems to be the key to the whole Orcus plan.  The cave below the cliffs is the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei.  Legend says that a sacrifice of three from a specific dragon family line will make a bridge between the material plan and the abyssal one.  

From the diary of Fizzle: Chapter 1

We attempt to unlock her cell with the chime but the door doesn’t open. Suddenly the “wall” behind us comes to life and tries to subdue us. Tholin attacks with his sword, but it’s a wall. Fizzle attempts Sacred Flame and it fizzles. Magic seems unable to work here. Moora says if we leave the area the Stone Defender will quit attacking. Disengaging with the “wall” Fizzle and Tholin move back towards the shelves. The wall desists. 

Fizzle grabs a mace from one of the piles (to replace the one the kitchen golem destroyed) and goes to try talking with the fox. He finds out the foxes name is Ember and it wants to be set free. 

Deciding to look around a little more before attempting to free any more prisoners, they find a store room. It contains lots of robot parts in different bins and in the corner is a drone of some sort. It looks spider-like with lots of different attachments. Maybe a repair drone? There are spaces for more but they are currently empty. Tholin pushes the drones ON button. We talk with the drone. We can’t convince it to help us turn off the magic dampening field, but we do tell it about Dora and it goes off to put her back. 

Turn Off the Anti-Magic Field

Maybe the buttons in the closet affect the field? We decide to try them. Earlier Moora had told us that when the dampening field is off the black armor becomes animated and tries to kill intruders. So before we try the buttons we empty a bin in the store room and lock the armor inside it. Fizzle then casts “Light” on a pebble in the hall with the mummies. It  lights up, and as soon as it’s tossed into the prison section, it goes dark. He leaves it in the prison where he can see it through the door while Tholin manipulates the buttons. He pushes the red one and nothing happens. 

Looking up Tholin sees the repair drone from earlier is back and looking at him from the ceiling. We offer to take the drone away with us if he helps us shut off the magic dampening field. It takes some persuasion but he gives us the code, 32133. [Fuschia – Magenta – Red – Fushia – Fushia] Using that we see the pebble in the prison light up. The repair drone follows us. 

We release the fox and the “wall” starts coming for us again. We duck around a looping hall and come to Moora’s cell and unlock it. The Stone Defender activates and we have to battle it again. As we damage it the robot sees damage and jumps on the “wall” shutting it down to fix it. With the ”wall” disabled, we push it into Moora’s cell and lock it in. We take the drone with us and open the rest of the cells, releasing the prisoners and meeting a female elf ranger named Dalal Northwind  who had been hiding  in the cell with the fox. (She is a bit surly.) 

Moora says she was brought here through a teleporter and it sounds as if she came in through the store room so we decided to check it for hidden doors. 

Opening the store room door we come face to helmet horror with the black armor! Battle ensues and we are on the losing side. Fizzle suggests turning on the damping field again so the armor will go inert. The elf Dalal volunteers so, after giving her the code, she runs off. Soon the armor collapses. For good measure we lock the armor in the elf’s old cell.

We do find a hidden door in the store room and passing through find a teleportation circle. There are also some tables with different non-related objects. They must be teleport keys! There are: A boot, bucket, pebble, round spectacles (rose tinted), a skull inlaid with precious stones, and a wide gold belt with 12 fire opals. Fizzle puts the belt on, Dalal wears the spectacles, and Tholin takes the pebble. There is a small leather flask that has fallen off the table. Dalal picks it up takes a swig and tosses it to Tholin. We all step into the circle. Moora tells us there is usually a keyword to activate the key. Delall tries “Orcus” and we all pop out.

Arc Complete!

This completes the the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei! We get to level up to 5. Next time we start a new adventure. 

This was a lot of fun.

Grid map of dungeon
Interior prison area

Image

Map: The Town of Manifort’s Freedom

Fantasy hand-sketched city map for Dungeons & Dragons (Dnd) or other role playing game.

About Manifort’s Freedom

Manifort’s Freedom is a small, river town. On the east side, a sandy beach separates the town’s buildings from the raging waters of the Ogleri River. Rough mountains protect the north flank.

The original founder meticulously planned out the roads and neighborhood blocks, many of which have become crowded and dirty over time. To the West and South, orchards and farmland surround the tightly packed buildings.

A huge tower dominating the center of Manifort’s Freedom is an outpost for the Royal Troops and serves as a defense against potential attacks from the North or the East.

Manifort’s Freedom Modified in Photoshop

city of Manifort's Freedom hand-drawn map

Original sketch of Manifort’s Freedom

Sketch of Manifort's Freedom hand-sketched town

My ramblings

Between having a 4-day weekend and quarantine going on, this seemed like a good time to dust off my sketchbook and pencils and have some cartography fun. While this map sketch is a totally fictional town, it is based on an actual small town near where I went to college.

I tend to think of these maps as something I’d maybe use in a Dungeons & Dragons game someday. What else might this map be used for?

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 7

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (Photo by me – Penny and Sparky supervise the game board. )

Chapter 7

Game Day 6/15/2019

Kramnock has Dora strapped to his back as we continue through the door and down the hall. Dora the Door and Tholin the rogue flirt (ugh weird).

Passing through a door we find, of all things, a kitchen with a small robot making mutton and lettuce sandwiches. In the center of the room are four tables with a variety of fruit piled on them. The sink is full of dirty dishes.

The Dungeon Prison Kitchen – Hey! Those prisoners gotta eat. Note each square is 10 feet, not 5.

Kromnak tries to split the robot in two with his axe but misses. He tries to pass it of to the robot as trying to help him “Cut the mutton”. The robot expresses doubt as to his veracity.

Meanwhile Fizzle grabs a juicy pear and gobbles it down. Fizzle forgot that pears don’t do well with gnomish digestion! Oh how melodious are his cheeky toots!

Optimum Health

Tholin rifles through the cabinets in the room, and finding nothing of immediate interest, sits at a table. The robot gives Tholin a drink for sitting politely at one of the tables. The drink heals him up. Kromnock and Fizzle quickly sit down at a table too. Kromnock gets a drink but Fizzle’s farting seems to have put the robot off and won’t give him one. Fizzle cajoles the robot into changing its mind and finally gets a rejuvenating beverage too. The robot says it wants us all at “optimum health” before it locks us up. It still seems upset with Kromnock trying to hit it. Sensitive little bugger.

Fizzle, feeling picked on because of the issue with farting, gets up and “helps” the robot make some of its sandwiches. The robot doesn’t like Fizzle’s sandwich making efforts and remakes them. So he take a bite out of each of them just to fluster the talking kitchen accessory. Then Fizzle asks the robot to “Pull my finger”. It won’t, but Fizzle cuts a ripper anyway. For some reason the robot seems even less inclined to tolerate us now.

Tholin asks it to show us to the cages and it finally deduced that we are trying to break in. Now it wanted to kill us, way to go Tholin! Tholin suggests it might be more because of Kromnock and Fizzles behavior. “We’ve just been ‘helping’ it” we say.

Full Metal Golem

All the metal in the room went flying towards the robot and merged into it, becoming an angry giant metal golem. Fizzle pulls out his mace, who he has named Nancy. The golem promptly sucked that in too! “Nancy noooo” he yells and sliding between its legs casts sacred flame … which of course misses because Fizzle can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn from inside it. Tholin uses the enlargement scroll on Kromnock and giant Kromnock easily dispatches the golem but in doing so cut right through Nancy. Fizzle is crushed, and without a mace now.

We all search the room. Tholin finds the robots key finger. He also finds fresh food in a magic refrigerated cupboard. Fizzle finds a suspicious box with a red blinking light on it. He drops it down the sink drain. Kromnak tries the doors and finds them locked.

The hallway of the Cursed Ones

The Cursed Ones

After Tholin picks the lock on the double doors, we enter a hallway with a white and black tile floor. There are dozens of desiccated bodies (Cursed Ones) standing guard holding their weapons at the ready all down the long hallway. Tholin checks one of the bodies and it comes to life when he touches it. Fizzle casts turn the undead but it has no effect. Tholin swings with is sword and Kromnock with his ax. The undead thing bites Tholin and looks a little better for it. Fizzle tries his crossbow and Kromnock swings Flame,Flame. Both are hits on the undead. It bites Kromnock. Fizzle flings Holy water on it but the vile doesn’t break. Tholin throws a Fire Bolt for a hit and Kromnock finishes it with another hit from Flame,Flame. Poof up in smoke.

We continue down the hall, carefully avoiding touching the desiccated bodies. At the end of the hall past two bodies is a regular door and a cell door. To get to the doors, Tholin squeezes between two bodies successfully. As Fizzle tries to do the same he brushes one. It comes to life and takes a bite at Kromnock as he passes it (miss). Kromnock swings Flame,Flame at it (critical failure), misses and Flame,Flame goes out! Uh-Oh. Fizzle and Tholin join Kromnock in fighting the cursed one. The undead gains the upper hand and Kromnock is knocked out. Then Tholin is knocked out. Its up to Fizzle who has received several bites to save them!

Before he can get to him, Kromnock expires! Dead! Dead dead! Now Kromnock raises up as a Cursed One and comes after them. Fizzle manages to stabilize Tholin and using the finger key Tholin had opens the regular door and drags Tholin into a closet at the end of the hall. Undead Kromnock starts banging on the door.

After lighting his flame Fizzle sees the closet is 5×10 and contains some buttons. Before doing anything else Fizzle gives Tholin a potion of healing he finds on him. Both Tholin and Fizzle take a long rest in the closet.

[We advance to level 4]

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 6

https://www.worldanvil.com/i/30703

I had this post ready to go sometime last year, but had been waiting for my other group of players to finish the campaign before I posted the rest of Fizzle’s Diaries. And then I promptly forgot all about it, even after the other campaign was completed. So here it is … much delayed! … but here! (There will be a total of 8 chapters when it’s all said and done.)


Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (Under A Violet Moon by MegziePegzie)

Chapter 6

Game Day 6/1/2019


Riddle Relief

We continue forward with our hooded lantern and flame, flame as light. We see cobblestone floors and natural cave walls. We come to a wall with relief carving on it, it is a 3×3 grid depicting different creatures.

 I pull out my copy of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. (Oops wrong story). There is a riddle on the wall as well. 

Skip the maze
and the flames
Secret doors one two
will get you through
To open the way
and survive this day
the relief most unique
blood doth seek
Fear not my tread
to end thy dread
Wrong cave dweller choose
their wrath doth arouse
to strike down the weak
they only warning seek

-inscribed on the wall of the cave

Tholin investigates the reliefs and notices that all of the reliefs except the Harpy are covered in a thin layer of dust (rolled a nat 20). Kromnak cuts his hand and pushes the Harpy relief. His blood is drawn to the mouth and the wings flutter, a click is heard, and a door opens.

Crossing the Hallway is the Hardest Part!

Through the open door we hear the sound of stone grinding. It sounds a lot like the rolling boulders we heard earlier. That doesn’t bode well for us. As we look through the door, we see a large boulder roll by. This must be the other end of the corridor they were rolling down. One rolls by about every 6 seconds. Across the corridor, I spot a door ajar. We decide to cross to the door and go in. Kromnak runs across with ease. Tholin just barely makes it too. I’m laughing at Tholin’s clumsiness, and trip and fall on my face. Kromnak (ever heroic) runs back and grabs me but is laughing so hard at him he gets hit by a boulder. So I end up back on the original side of the passage. I, now, try to save Kromnak and fails miserably (Rolled a 1). Now Tholin saves my fallen gnome body and we are both back on the original side of the passageway. Boulders are still zipping by and rolling over Kromnak’s. He seems to have trouble getting his feet beneath him. Tholin and I try cross together and make it! Kromnak manages to crawl out of the way of the next boulder and joins us.

Ends the “rough” exterior of the dungeon.

The exterior section of the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei

Into The Interior Dungeon

Passing through the door we enter a tunnel and see on the left a smooth man-made wall. To the right is a natural cave wall. The tunnel leads east. We follow it along the smooth wall. The tunnel ends abruptly, but there is a narrow passage continuing around the corner. We squeeze through and continue on. Following along the continuing smooth wall we come to a door. Tholin checks it for traps and Fizzle runs into it when he tries to open it and its locked.

Tholin unlocks it and we all enter a man-made 10×15-foot room. We look around. To the left on the same wall as the door we came through is another door. The floor is cobblestone and very clean. Tholin checks the door for traps and gives the all clear. Kromnak opens it and looks in. He sees a hallway that ends at a corner. We continue. Around the corner the hallway continues, as do we. We come to another corner that turns right. I, Kromnak, and Tholin continue in that order. Around the corner we find a human body wearing adventurer’s gear. Looks like he died with a smile, weird. We relieve him of any useful objects that he was selfishly hoarding. We find:

  • Scroll of chill touch – Kromnak
  • 2 red potions of greater healing (4d4+4) – Fizzle
  • Scroll disguise self – Kromnak
  • Potion of climbing – Kromnak
  • Bag of holding – Fizzle (Fizzle also puts the healing potions in it)
  • Scroll of enlarge and reduce – Tholin
  • Mithral chain shirt (13dex 8lbs) – goes in the bag too
  • Long Sword – magik +1 – Tholin

Hall of Desires

Rounding the next corner…

I see a baby dragon, which I have always wanted.

Kromnak sees his beautiful moon bride.

Tholin sees a pile of gold and jewels.   

Unknown to us, we are seeing what we desire the most. We also see that the others are trying to take it from us! (GM note: The group unanimously failed their saves for the first 3 rounds. The Charisma save DC started at 15 and went up 1 each round.)

Tholin thinks Kromnak is stealing his treasure, so Tholin attacks him with his sword. Kromnak see Fizzle with his beautiful moon bride and tries to intimidate the gnome away from his lady. (Nat 20)

No one takes my baby dragon! Kromnak is hurting my dragon! I pull out my mace and whack him on the head really hard! Kromnak sees Flippy (The barbarian calls me Flippy, I don’t know why.) with his beautiful moon bride and goes after me with “Flame,Flame”. Fortunately for Fizzle he misses.

I swing and misses Kromnak with my mace. Tholin knocks out Kromnak and takes my dragon, gerrr. I get out the big guns know and summon my Pooh (spiritual weapon)! Tholin is in for it now… it’s a hit! Ha-Haa! Take that you dragon thief! Tholin hits me with his sword. Then he comes to his senses and realizes it is all an illusion.

(GM Note: This was at the top of 4th round and the save DC was up to 18. At this point, I was positive it was going to be a TPK. But we were all laughing so hard I think it wouldn’t have been so bad.)

I take another swing at Tholin with Pooh and miss. Tholin counters and knocks Fizzle out. He ties us up and gives us each a greater healing potion. We are still under the influence of this cursed space and struggle to get loose and attack. Tholin drags us down and around the next corner out of range of the illusion’s influence.

Tholin, being the only one to successfully resist the spell, goes back and collects our dropped sword and mace. We continue down the hall and up to the stairs. 

Dora the Door

I am suddenly frozen with an unnatural fear. Kromnak noticing Flippy has stopped comes back and snaps me back to my senses. 

(GM Note: This was the Hall of Fear that required a Wisdom saving throw. Failing this simply incapacitates a person. Only Fizzle failed the save but rolled a 19 on the follow-up.)

Meanwhile, Tholin finds the stairs ahead are trapped and will turn into a slide if sprung. He disarms the trap without breaking a sweat (Rolled 25 for disarm). At the top of the stairs is a 25×15 room. To the west and north are doors. Checking for traps reveal nothing. Opening the door on the west wall reveals stairs down. In the back of the room is a cupboard with linens, blankets, plates, cups, and other household items. We discover a blue bubbly Potion of Heroism (1hr 10hp). [Goes in the bag of holding.]

The door on the north wall leads to a softly lit room is softly with a cobblestone floor patterned with numbers in a grid. Across the room on the opposite corner is a door. Tholin deduces that there is a path across if you step only on the prime numbers. Kromnak just barrels straight across the room. We find stepping off the primes gets you zapped. Kromnack gets zapped a lot. We make it across to find a door. Tholin checks it and find the doorknob hot. We back up a little and Tholin opens it with Mage Hand. We hear a “Tee hee hee! That tickles!” as the door swings open. There is a face in the other (front) side of the door that greets us.

There is a 10×10 platform on the other side. Lower down is lava and flame. There are some ropes and cross beams to help, but it is very hard to cross. You’d have to be very agile or lucky to make it across! Kromnak is especially persuasive and gets the door to tell us about the room beyond. She is there to let the survivors out if any make it. She tells us the man with the pointy ears usually just floats across. Well we can’t do that! We give the door the name Dora and decide to take it with us. Kromnak removes the hinges and straps the door to his back.

Looking back the way we came, we see a door we missed hidden behind the open door that we came in through. We cross back to it (stepping on those prime number spots) and open it to find a 15-foot hall with a door on the right. Here we decide to take a short rest here. 

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 5

Indiana Jones running from boulder trap

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (screen capture from the film “Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom”)

Chapter 5

Game Day 3/23/2019

Pits of despair continue

We come across yet another trap door in the floor. As we are discussing what to do, Kromnak ties a rope to me, says, “let’s test it!” and pushes me onto the trapdoor. The trap springs and I dropped into the trap. I’m beginning to wonder whose side Kromnak is on. Tholin catches me on the rope and pulls me out. Checking the ceiling for anything useful and finding nothing, it’s decided that Fizzle should jump across. Jumping, I just barely make it, but twist an ankle on landing and fall back in (Rolled a 1). Once again Kromnak and Tholin grab the rope but not before I get stuck on a poison spike in the pit. Now instead of rescuing me they concentrate on how to cross the trap safely! I’m going to hire better help next time. (Will Fizzle survive? Tune in next paragraph on this same Bat channel.)

Kromnak tries sticking a javelin with a rope tied to it into the ceiling. It sticks but only a little, and when they test it, it dislodges, and they pull it back. Next they try throwing it all the way across. It sticks into the floor. They test pull it and it stays put.

Meanwhile back in the pit trap Fizzle is slowing sliding down onto the poison spike. “Help?”

Back up top Tholin makes it across on the rope to the other side of the trap. As Tholin starts looking for a way to disarm the trap, Kromnak remembers to pull me up with the rope tied to me. I’m saved!

Tholin finds a trick stone in the floor that disarms the trap. The trap closes with a click and we can cross (after Kromnak test with me again)!

Finding a crate, we break them open and find some vials with red potion in them. Looks like healing potions. Kromnak gives me one that he has tasted, but it does nothing of course since he tasted it. Barbarians ugh. I take one of the other vials and heal up some. We find 3 more vials in a second crate. Green underwater breathing potions (1hr). We continue.

Boulder bowling

Coming to a convex passage with a smooth groove in the center bearing left we see to the right a small ledge up a ways with a large boulder held back by a net. We can hear wind coming around the bolder and I see something blink up there behind it. We decide to investigate before going down the passage. Tholin attempts to climb up to the ledge; he gets to it but can’t find purchase to get up on it. He tries standing on Kromnak’s shoulders, as Tholin puts his head above the edge of the ledge something releases the net! The bolder plunges down and Tholin and Kromnak barely get out of the way in time. The boulder rolls off down the passageway in the groove and disappears. Another boulder rolls off the ledge 12 seconds later. I think we started something! 

In the gap between boulders Tholin boosts Kromnak up. He sees, over the edge of the ledge using his lit sword, a short passage with gears and a bolder lifting up at the end. Also a small alcove in the passage to the left with some sort of mechanical attendant. He jabs the attendant with his sword and jumps down out of the oncoming boulders way. After the boulder has passed Kromnak goes up and into the passage grabbing the mechanical attendant and throwing him in the way of the next bolder, which flattens it, while Kromnak is safe in the alcove. 

Back below Tholin hears something skittering behind him. He throws a firebolt at whatever it is, scoring a hit. 

Up top Kromnak smashes the control panel he has found in the alcove with his axe and the gears stop moving. Now a small squarish boxy thing crawls up out of the boulder delivery hole on spidery mechanical legs. It looks as if it is for repairing things. It doesn’t quite know what to do about Kromnak so it tries to poke him. It fails. Kromnak swings and slides the repair drone in half with his sword. Hearing the commotion below he jumps down.

Meanwhile Tholin and Fizzle have been fighting 3 more mechanical scouts. As Kromnak jumps down they are just finishing dispatching the last one. The floor starts to rumble, messing with the boulder machinery seems to have started a major breakdown. As we look for a way out, Fizzle spys a small gap. Running over to it is turns out to be a small passage. We take it the commotion.

The spider swarm

The passage zig-zags all over the place. Towards the end there is a lot of dust and cobwebs. I sign the wall with my chalk, ‘Fizzle was here’. We come out into a cavern with lots of cobwebs, many concentrated towards the back behind something large with glowing eyes. We think its a huge spider and attack! Tholin Firebolts the concentration of cobwebs we think is a nest, while I shoot it between the eyes and Kromnak slices it with his flaming sword. CLANG. Its metal, but Kromnak and I continue attaching. Tholin realizes it’s only a statue of a spider. He thinks it may be a distraction. We all consider this as I take the green eye jewels from the statue – after all – it doesn’t need them.

Spiders start dropping from the ceiling. Lots of spiders! Everyone is wounded, but I am overwhelmed and knocked out. Tholin gives me a healing potion and I regain my wits and cast sacred flames on myself in order to target the swarm of spiders crawling all over me. I succeed in killing some. They don’t like flames. Kromnak squishes many with the side of his axe blade. The swarm is down to half strength. I cast sacred flame on the spiders mobbing Tholin, but hurt him as well. Tholin is out. Kromnak continues squishing spiders on himself and knocks himself out. He’s down too! But, all the spiders are dead. I casts healing word on Tholin and cure wounds on Kromnak. Good thing I’m a cleric. With all of us conscious again, we take a rest.

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 4

spiked pit trap

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (screen capture from Elder Scrolls)

Chapter 4

Game Day 2/23/2019

After our short rest, Tholin looks for any hidden ways to move forward. Finding none we decide to distract the fish and make a break for the far shore. Throwing some armor into the lake on the side we came from, we see the fish congregating around that area. We hastily head for the far shore as fast as we can. (Athletic Rolls: Fizzle – 15, Kromnak – 14, and Tholin – 2.) Kromnak and Fizzle make it, but Tholin gets only about half way when the fish catch up to him and attack! He gets chewed on, which spurs him on to an outstanding effort, and he makes it to the North shore to join us. He does have to use a potion to heal when he arrives.

Kromnak lights a torch while Tholin and Fizzle take a look around. Tholin finds something shiny and metallic in the sand. It looks a little like a cog from some machine. We find nothing else so we continue down the passage, keeping left; Tholin looking for traps, Fizzle, then Kromnak following. We soon come to another wall of darkness. We handle this one the same as the last patch of darkness with Fizzle exploring ahead on a rope. 

Moving forward by touch, Fizzle feels the floor transition from soft sand to flagstone. Someone has improved the floor in this section of cave. He briefly hears a click and whirring coming from the left ahead, but nothing further comes of it. Soon he comes out into another cavern that’s about 60’x40’. There is some light now from glowing moss on the walls. He ties the rope to a handy 40lb bolder and gives the rope the prearranged 2 (3 for help) tug signal for the others to join him. The rope and rock immediately disappear back into the darkness!?! Kromnak finding a rock on the rope instead of Fizzle and thinks he has disappeared. Tholin convinces him the tugs were the signal to follow. Fizzle can’t figure out what’s taking them so long. Tholin and Kromnak start after Fizzle, Tholin following the left wall as Fizzle did. Kromnak doesn’t know his left from his right and follows along the right hand wall. Tholin joins Fizzle, but Kromnak goes off in a long circle following the right hand wall and ends up back where he started. “It’s magic! They are gone.” He continues on around the loop again. Finally after another time around he hears Fizzle and Tholin yelling to follow the wall with his “wiper” (left) hand and he joins them.

Searching this cavern we find some large scratches in the wall about 10’ up. We continue on.

Tholin in the lead spots a trap in the floor of the passage we are following. It’s a trap door the full width of the passage and about 20’ across. On the far side about 3’ up the wall is a dry patch of brown moss or algae. Maybe its a switch. Before they can discuss it, Kromnak says “lets throw “Flippy” across!” and does. Fizzle yells “Nooo…” and flies gracefully end over end across the 20 feet and slams into the wall face first. Sliding down in a heap he takes 5 points of damage. Tholin and Kromnak jump across after. (With no damage.) It turns out the moss covers a button that disables the trap door. Fizzle recovers, muttering something about barbarians under his breath. The party continues on.

illustration of a spike pit trap in a dungeon
Spiked pit trap

Next we come into a cavern with small alcoves to the left and right. We each check one, finding nothing but algae on the walls, which reaches out and grabs Kromnak and Fizzle. “Not my wiping hand!” cries Kromnak. Tholin attempts to hack the stuff off Kromnak. but it is resistant to hacking. Kromnak tries his flame sword, which is very effective at burning the stuff up. Seeing this I use Sacred Flame and manage to make a dent in mine. Tholin and Kromnak both shoot it with bow and crossbow and it expires. All free again, we move on.

Tholin finds another trap in the passageway. This one is only 12 feet across. Tholin jumps it and Kromnak tosses me. Kromnak carefully trips the trap to see what happens. The trap door opens onto a 30 foot pit with spikes at the bottom. He jumped it easily and Tholin pushes the button to safe the trap and we continue on down a wider corridor into another chamber. Finding more algae creatures we kill them and settle in for a long rest.

During my watch I hear a noise which turns out to be a mechanical bronze scout on the ceiling. It drops down and attacks us. Tholin swings at it with his rapier and gives it a good hit. I cast spiritual weapon and manifest a large yellow bear in a red jumper (a Pooh Bear), but Pooh misses his swing. Pooh looks very cross. I cast enhance on Kromnak to give him more strength. He takes a mighty swing with his great axe. Whack! Tholin misses with a fire bolt and I manage to miss with both my crossbow and Pooh Bear. Then Kromnak hits it with his flaming sword and Tholin finishes it off with fire bolt. I cast cure wounds on Tholin and we finish our rest.

After resting we move on further. Tholin finds yet another trap! Tying a rope to himself as previously, Tholin jumps across only to land on a second trap door which springs open! He falls but we catch him with the rope, saving him from certain doom. Pulling him up with the rope Tholin manages to get up on the narrow section between the two traps. Fizzle spots the disarm switch on the far wall, but it’s too far to jump across both gaps and Tholin can’t get a running to jump from the narrow 1 foot section of floor he is on. We are discussing trying to shoot the button when Fizzle, having seen Tholin use magic before wonders if he can do “Mage hand”. He can, and uses it to push the disarm button and both traps lock shut. We all move across and are free to continue on.  

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 3

Ghost Town by Iiandmrak

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image Ghost town by IIDanmrack

Chapter 3

Game day 2/23/2019

The next morning we eat some more of Kromnak’s goat, and prepare for our day.  This morning Kromnak manages to actually get up and stay on one of the horses. He names his horse, Horse.  Fizzle and Tholin share the other horse, Matilda, with Fizzle driving.  

Close up of
Ruins of Amara location on the Briarstone Map

We approach the ruins of Amara midafternoon. Tholin’s keen eyes discern possible movement on some of the ruined towers of Amara, so we vear to the west (inland) to some light tree cover.  There we leave the horses in a small clearing with plenty of grass to eat and Kromnak picks some wild garlic (which turns out to be dandelions) to ward off vampires. We move closer to the tree line to observe the ruins and take cover behind the trees, except for Kromnak whos idea of hiding is to pose as a tree.  Fizzle convinces him to actually hide behind a tree, where he amuses himself playing with his flame sword <sigh>. 

Hand-drawn sketch of the Ruins of Amara
The Ruins of Amara
(I drew this map in August 2018 and have been wanting use it in game ever since.)

It is about 50 yards from the trees to the broken city wall.  Tree cover is sparse near the ruins and the trees appear more and more dead and petrified the closer to the walls you get.  We can’t see much from cover so we decide to send Tholin in closer for a look, as he is better at stealth than Kromnak or Fizzle. After Tholin leaves Fizzle tries to get the concept of patience and waiting quietly across to Kromnak with some limited success.  At least he puts out his sword.

Tholin gets right up to the wall without being seen.  He peaks around a gap in the wall and has a good view of the northern section of the ruins.  He sees several groups (2-5) of ghosts roaming about in no discernible pattern. They don’t ever pass outside the walls, leading to the conclusion that the walls might be a barrier to them.  Returning to us, he passes on what he has learned. We decide to wait until nightfall to make our entry to the ruins, hoping to avoid detection. We take a short rest.

When night arrives Tholin dons the Circlet of Protection. We stealthily make our way to the walls of Amara. Before entering we peak around the gap in the wall and make sure the coast is clear.  It is. Tholin uses the circlet to cast protection on each of us which will last 10 minutes. We hope this is enough time to make it to the path down the cliff that the old man told us about.  Based on the map we have and the old man’s story we think the path down the cliff should be somewhere near the top of the cliff overlooking the only cove depicted, which is near the northern part of the ruins.  This is why we chose to enter at this northern gape in the wall.

A section of the hand-drawn map from the Ruins of Amara
Red line shows the adventurers’ path taken through the Ruins of Amara

Avoiding that ghost we see another group approaching and move down the row and into the end house before they spot us.  Leaving Kromnak Mor to watch the door, Tholin and I look around for anything that might be of use to us. All I find is a rusty knife in the kitchen, but Tholin finds a book of some kind and, in the bedroom of the house, a ghost of a girl child.  We all join him and Kromnak is able to persuade her to help us in return for the book Tholin found. She guides us across through another broken down house to the cliff edge, avoiding more ghosts along the way. There we find the beginning of a steep narrow path down the cliff.  Kromnak sends our ghost guide home and I cast some healing on Kromnak whose interaction with the ghost cost some health.  

We tie ourselves together to minimize the danger of one of us falling and begin our descent.  Fizzle in the lead and Kromnak anchoring the end. We make it down uneventfully. We make our way through some boulders (it’s a tight squeeze for Kromnak).  Tholin leads us as we sneak across the cove to a large boulder near where we think the entrance to the caves is, Tholin having heard some voices. We decide to have Tholin use the Chime of Opening to open the entrance to the cavern as we don’t know exactly where it is.  (This uses up one of our five uses.) The guards mistake the opening for their leader coming back, so we take them by surprise! (Also this might confirm the leader is out.)   

We take out the guards.  Ha. Thought I was going to describe it, didn’t ya.  Well I will. Tholin and I keep to cover and take shots with my crossbow and his bow while Kromnak goes in with a frontal assault.  He manages to miss every blow while taking every shot the two guards can dish out. I plug one of the guards full of bolts and Tholin fills the other with arrows.  Then Tholin moves in and finishes both of them with his sword. Kromnak is a pin cushion and down, so we use one of Kromnak’s healing potions on him and he comes around.

We enter the cavern which funnels down to a 3 foot diameter hole in the rear wall about two feet off the floor.  It is completely black and we cannot see inside. When Kromnak sticks his lit sword into it the light disappears. The same thing happens when I try a torch.  There is some kind of dark enchantment on the hole. Tying a rope to myself, I crawl into the hole and head straight back. Coming to the end of my rope without coming out of the darkness, I go back and tie on another length.  Heading back in I stay to the right this time, and eventually emerge from the darkness into a cavern lit by glowing moss or something. The cavern contains a lake with a waterfall and an island. The only way forward seems to be through the lake.

Pencil sketch of cave
David Pettit’s sketch of the waterfall cavern

Kromnak, of course, immediately jumps into the lake and starts swimming for the island.  Tholin and I look around a little first before jumping in and spy a ledge we want to check on.  We swim to that, but have a little trouble climbing the wall up to the ledge. We are soon surrounded by quipper fish, which want to eat us.  We climb the wall! On the ledge we find bones all arranged neatly by type, creepy, but nothing else. Kromnak having reached the island and found neatly arranged weapons and armor, throws us a rope, attached to a javelin.  

Kromnak, of course, immediately jumps into the lake and starts swimming for the island.  Tholin and I look around a little first before jumping in and spy a ledge we want to check on.  We swim to that, but have a little trouble climbing the wall up to the ledge. We are soon surrounded by quipper fish, which want to eat us.  We climb the wall! On the ledge we find bones all arranged neatly by type, creepy, but nothing else. Kromnak having reached the island and found neatly arranged weapons and armor, throws us a rope, attached to a javelin.  

I try to cross hand over hand on the rope and slip.  The quippers close in, and Tholin throws me another rope. Climbing back out with the help of the rope h, I manage to make it across on the second try, taking the end of the second rope with me.  Tholin ties the second rope around himself and crosses over too. Now we are all on the island. Kromnak throws a spear at the waterfall to see if its open behind it. It is not. We take a short rest.

Game Master Ramble 2 – Soooo blue

ancient ruins

Sunday Group, Blue Dragons, and Rope climbing

I run 2 games, the newer group on Saturdays and the other group that’s been going for a while. The longer running group ran through the Champion’s Lost story arch has since moved onto bigger things… like setting a blue dragon loose on the city of Obsidian, though not completely on purpose. They did intend to stop it before it got loose.

Deadly encounter

What amazed me about that group during the last gaming session, is the deadliest part of the encounter with the blue dragon was not the blue dragon (that they named Azure). Nope. It was the 300 foot climb up and down a rope that almost caused a TPK (total party kill). Three of the five party members now have a fear of heights. Twenty 6-sided dice is a lot of damage to roll for a 200 foot fall. I am amazed that the dwarf fighter, Barbang, survived that fall by mere single digit hit points. Sturdy buggars. Before that the druid, Gozmeer, had fallen 100 feet. She was in the negative hit points, but not at the dead-dead level of taking more damage her maximum hit points.

Let me back up a moment and tell you how they got there.

The much longer story 

The Party consists of :

  1. Annabelle, Level 7 Cleric
  2. Kethra, Level 7 Sorcerer
  3. Aphodel, Level 6 Ranger/Level 1 Bard
  4. Barbang, Level 7 Fighter
  5. Gozmeer, Level 6 Druid (NPC)

… the quest

The party has been in the city of Obsidian, prepping for a rescue mission and a potential big boss battle. So they go shopping, hoping to find better protection and deadlier weapons. They find a vendor willing to take some cursed items off their hands at Berrtle’s Bloody Blade. The fighter of the group, Barbang, has bupkis magically speaking for his weapons. When they inquire as to what Berrtle’s Bloody Blade has for sale, he offers to forge Barbang a set of magical weapons if they can retrieve a rock from beneath the mines of Obsidian. (See Berrtle’s Bloody Blade quest in the Town of Obsidian post.)

The group disguises themselves in rags purchased from a family in the poorer end of town and sneaks into the mine warehouse entrance with other workers at a shift change. Once down in the mines, they follow the crudely drawn map provided to them by Berrtle. They only get lost a few times before making it to the end of the first section of map. (D) Dead end. No rock. They discover the hidden pressure plates on the four corners of the circular space. By pushing rusty plates at the same time, they are able to trigger the large aperture in the floor to open.

rough sketch of path through mines to Berttle's rock
Roughly sketched path to Berttle’s terrunium boulder through the diamond mines below Obsidian (Player Version). While the path looks flat, they tunnels are constantly slopping off in different up/down angles

Gozmeer drops a torch down the hole. The ground is 300 feet down. They cleverly tie together alternating ropes of climbing with standard rope to reach the ground below. There they find themselves in a huge, cavernous space and locate where the lower mine map continues. They get to a spot on the map with a little squiggle next to it, but no visible continuation of the tunnel. Eventually they spot a small hole in the wall about an inch tall and 1/4″ thick. After trying to poke many items into the hole, someone tries a platinum coin. This causes the hidden door on the side opposite to rotate open. Continuing down cobweb choked tunnels, they are jumped by 4 phase spiders. The 4th spider gets wise after seeing is 3 buddies destroyed and phases the hell out of there.

Reaching the end of the map, they find a collapsed tunnel. Between the mountain dwarf’s stone cunning (Barbang) and the druid (Gozmeer) wild shaping into a giant badger, they are able to dig through the rock and secure a hole for the others to climb through.

Here the space opens up to the ruins of an ancient fire giants’ city. It’s like being a mouse in maze with the high, crumbled walls and the ceiling for above their heads. Crystalized formations sprout from the walls and random tunnels completely composed of crystals erupt from the ground and cave walls. The party marks their path as they wonder through this huge, dead city. They fight off a pack of basilisk that trapped them on a land bridge over lava. Discover a flail snail chomping on the crystals (and wisely leave it unmolested). There they spot an area of “shiny new” crystals which they follow into a blue dragon’s nest, which has a large pile of gems and treasures that include a large boulder with streaks of iridescent metal (the terrunium rock they’re looking for). Through sheer charisma, flattery, bribery, and fast talking, they are able to convince the young adult blue dragon that they have come to worship at its feet. They also tell the dragon, dubbed Azure …

  1. that there is an entire world outside of this cavern for the dragon to explore and find things to play with, like undead armies
  2. that there is a horde of undead heading towards his domain (Spawn of Kyuss in the underdark)
  3. that the person that kept sending adventurers to steal from the dragon’s horde lived in the city above

They head back to the mines with the dragon burrowing a direct route to the collapsed tunnel entrance. They use 5 flying potions to get back up that 300-foot hole. Once back in the main mining tunnels, they have second thoughts about letting a blue dragon loose on world above. They coordinate a surprise attack and do an impressive amount of damage before Azure can react. The dragon fries them with his lightning breath before collapsing the tunnel around them.

It takes them a while to dig out, and by the time they do the dragon has an hour head start on them. Nearing the surface, they find destruction and dead minors marking the dragons passage. Aiding the survivors slows them down more. By the time they emerge in the town, much of it has been destroyed … especially the area around Berrtle’s (that the group had earlier described to the dragon). The dragon is nowhere to be seen. The adventurers help with triage before finding their way back to the Dizzy Dragon Inn and getting a long rest.

So where’s the TPK, you ask?

The day after the dragon runs amuck

The party awakes the next day with dreams of an unguarded dragon horde dancing in their heads. They return to the mines and are recognized as people who had helped with the wounded earlier, and are allowed through without question. They get back to the hole that drops 300 feet down.

Going down

Climbing down, Gozmeer fails on the 2nd climb check (DC 10) and takes 69 points of damage from the fall, not quite dead-dead but bleeding out.

Gozmeer is an NPC that helps the party with healing mostly. My hope being that by having a healer there, Annabelle the cleric would not feel pressured to heal. I forget that Gozmeer can shape change into animals that would be helpful in various circumstances, like climbing and burrowing. Because she’s an NPC, I try not to use her for more than the other players request of her. I don’t want to be one of those game masters.

They manage to stabilize Gozmeer before she’s a complete goner. Following such a traumatic fall, Gozmeer fails to make her wisdom save versus fear (DC 10) and now has disadvantage on climbing.

They get to the lower mine entrance only to discover it collapsed. Sending in the giant badger (Gozmeer) to see how far it goes, they discover that the entire lower tunnel structure  there has been collapsed. They aren’t able to return to the blue dragon’s horde of treasure. He had already collapsed the tunnels and moved it away by the time the group returned.

And back up

The frustrated party returns to the rope up to the main mine. Gozmeer refuses to go near the rope (having failed at that fear of height save). Kethra eventually convinces her to transform into a rat and hide her pockets. Kethra and Annabelle take the last 2 flying potions to reach the ledge above. Aphodel makes the climb, no problem. Barbang makes it up to 200 feet before slipping. He makes his dexterity save to catch himself and tries climbing that last 100 feet again. He rolls a a 1. He falls 200 feet and takes 75 points of damage. He’s not insta-dead by only a couple of points, but bleeding out. With only a few seconds remaining from the flying potion, the cleric flies down to heal the damaged climber.

Once healed, Barbang rolls vs fear of heights. (Rolls a 7 total). He ain’t climbing no stinking rope.

Clever Plan 1

Kethra and Aphodel come up with a clever plan to send Gozmeer down the rope (in Ape shape) with the Bigsby’s Fist glove and use that to carry up Barbang and Annabelle. Kethra does a really impressive job of convincing the terrified Gozmeer (persuasion 25) to climb down. Gozmeer starts down the rope but freezes after only couple of feet down. Gozmeer is pulled back up by Aphodel and Kethra.

Clever Plan 2

Kethra then suggests that Gozmeer become a horse and tow the others up. They secure the rope around Barbang and with the horse pulling and Aphodel guiding the rope, they are successful. They send back the rope with a seat looped for Annabelle to ride up in. Using the same method, they pull up Annabelle. Only part of the way up, the rope snags and breaks. Annabelle falls 50 feet and takes 15 HP of damage.

Annabelle rolls versus getting her own fear of falling. Her difficulty is much lower, not having drop as far. She rolls a critical fail (a 1). Enraged at being trapped below, Annabelle shoots 4 fireballs into the open space 150 feet above.

And that’s where we left things … with 3 players afraid of heights, one player stuck in the space below, one blue dragon running amuck, and no dragon horde.

As a game master, you just never know where a game session will take a story. At least I’m often surprised. It’s one of those things that makes running a dungeons & dragons game so much fun. And difficult.

Kromnock Mor’s Intro: Chapter 0

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


Featured image was drawn by Mr. Jones for his character concept.

Introduction of Kromnock Mor

Level 1 Dwarf, Barbarin

The following notes are from an exchange of text messages between myself (GM) and Jones (Kromnock Mor) as a pre-game setup.

Chapter 0
1/11/2019

GM: Since killing off your mentor and starting your life as a sell-sword … well … it’s been really boring.

Kromnock Mor: Yeah he just fights, eats, and drinks, and sleeps.

GM: Not much action or challenge. The couple of jobs you have done were uneventful escorts.

Kromnock Mor: It’s really the perfect life if you think about it

GM: Which is why I must mess with it 😀
Anyhoo … you have heard that there is a big fight brewing to the south. And that there is a group called the Keepers of Balance that hire mercs looking for capable fighters.

Kromnock Mor: Aye, but that is a long walk. I’ll meet up with them when they get up north.

GM: Conveniently there happens to be an office in the town of M’ka, where you find yourself.

Kromnock Mor: Got it. Well since I am out of beer money, I might as well go see what they have to offer.

GM: Much of the town has emptied out in the rush to help Berlstrum.
So you’ve definitely waited for the rush to pass.

Kromnock Mor: I’m not very ambitious. I have simple needs, but sometimes living the simple life drags me into complicated situations.

GM: LOL. That’s where you’ll start Saturday.

Kromnock Mor: Until then I will nap.

Tholin’s Intro: Chapter 0

sketch of a fantasy town by bulbar

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


Tholin

Introduction of Tholin

Level 1 Half-Elf, Rogue

The following notes are from an exchange of text messages between myself (GM) and the Big M (Tholin) as a pre-game setup. The Big M’s is a man of few words.

Chapter 0

1/11/2019

GM: After the “incident” in Goremonte with your thieves guild, you made your strategic retreat out of town. Your rogue skills are currently a bit undeveloped and aren’t getting you the coin you’d hoped for.
Your down to your last copper, sitting in the Spiral’s End.
In the town of M’ka.
The town is pretty empty due to many having left to help defend Berlstrum from a hoard of undead.
The innkeeper, Razputen, took pity on you and gave you a small loaf of bread. He makes the yummiest bread ever.
He did it all sneaky like … “Boy, I hope no one snags this fresh warm bread from this table (next to you) while I take these dishes to the back.”
Do you eat the bread?

Tholin: For sure. But only part. Save the rest for later.

GM: The tavern is pretty empty this time of day. The old dwarf, Razputen, returns several minutes later carrying 2 large ales. “Would you mind some company while I rest my tired old feet?”

Tholin: Have a seat.

GM: The old dwarf puts the mugs on the table, 1 in front of you and 1 in front of him. He leans back in his chair and monologues rather randomly about the town of M’ka.
After a while he leaves and comes back with 2 bowls of delicious chowder. He places 1 in front of you and 1 in front of himself.
“You are a good listener,” he says. “Here’s thanks for listening to an old man ramble.”
He leans back and continues talking about the local goings on.
“… and with so many able bodies having headed south to Berlstrum, those Keepers of Balance are probably pretty desperate to fill their mercenary ranks.”
I’m going to assume you finished the chowder and ale?

Tholin: Quickly finish them

GM: Excellent. He seems pleased. He nods and gets up. As he is leaving, he signals in thievescant, “good luck, young one.” His untouched chowder and ale left behind.
Later you discover 10 gold in your belt pouch that weren’t there before.

Tholin: Nice

From the Diary of Frizzle: Chapter 0

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


Introduction of Fiznarthian Ooglenook (Fizzle)

Level 1 Gnome, Cleric of Pelor

The following notes are from an exchange of text messages between myself (GM) and David Pettit (Fizzle) as a pre-game setup.

D&D Game Notes by David Pettit


Chapter 0
1/11/2019

GM: You hadn’t been in M’Ka long (couple months), when your idol/mentor Master Foswith asked you to travel to Goremont to fetch a recently discovered map of the Ruins of Amara and the hidden tunnels below.

A vision suggested that there was trouble brewing to the south and that something about the Ruins of Amara might hold the key to turning the tide of great darkness.

Do you take the trip?

Fizzle: … Oh ya. Yes I have to get the map I love maps.

GM: Eager to put your new found holy powers to practice in the real world, you head out on your solo journey.  “Real world” meaning outside the temple.

Fizzle: … Haha I got that.

GM: In the temple it’s been holy scriptures, cleaning, sleeping, eating. Perhaps not as exciting as you had envisioned?

Fizzle:… But the library was great.

… Latrine duty sucked.

GM: You didn’t have near the amount of free time you’d hoped for to read all those books. Practicing those cantrips over and over was exhausting. And then to have to clean the latrines …

It’s a good thing you’re such a positive, optimistic gnome.

Would your gnome ride a pony? Or walk? Or cart?

Anyway, your trip to Goremont was long, but uneventful. Goremont is probably the largest and noisiest city you’ve ever been in.

Do you do anything in Goremont aside from your assigned task?

This is also the first time you’ve seen people like full orcs, tieflings, goliaths, hobgoblins, and other such politely walking the streets and carrying on business with humans, dwarfs, gnomes, and halflings.

Fizzle:… Well am I rich enough for a pony?

GM: Would be on loan from the temple.

Fizzle: … I’d want to look around. You know, see the local library. Maybe take the underground haunted tour.

GM: They’d also provide you with a small stipend for meals.

Fizzle: … Oh ok a pony then.

… Good I get hungry.

GM: Sadly Goremont does not have a library nor a university. The closest you’d get would be the shelf of books/scrolls in the small Temple of Pelor.

Fizzle: … Oh well ok. I’ll look at those.

GM: You play tourist for a few days, taking in all the new exciting sights of this border harbor town. Sadly, at some point in your wanderings about the city you lose all your gold.

Fizzle: … I’ll have to see if I can get an advance from the local temple.

GM: The reading material in the small temple is mostly observations/notes on the different races of Glorte and Heshtia. (Neighboring countries) A couple of stories involving the mating habits of dragons that read more like bard tales.

Also some tombs on medicine, herbs, and non-divine healing methods

The small temple is sadly lacking in coin.

They’re happy to offer you lodging and share their food with you while you visit.

Fizzle: … Well that’s good. Maybe I can sell a chess set.

GM: You can certainly try. Did you character start with one?

Fizzle: … I bought one and I could craft one. It’s my hobbie.

GM: It takes you awhile to find someone interested in buying this strange game of yours, but the figures are pretty and will look nice on their mother’s mantle. They offer you 5 silver for the set.

Normally I’d have you roll a crafting skill and a diplomacy for negotiation, but this is all pregame.

Fizzle: … Ok was that a good price?

I better get the map and skedaddle before anything else get stolen.

GM: That’s half a gold. Your new to big city living. Do you think it’s a good price?

Fizzle: … They cost 1 gold normally.

Fine

😛

LOL

GM: Congrats. You’ve sold a chess set and have funds.

Fizzle: …Whoo hoo. I’m a success!

GM: Map and info dump in hand (to be provided later), you and your pony  travel back to M’Ka. It’s as uneventful as the trip up.


The history of Amara

The Ruins of Amara on the NE Coast of Briarstone

Hand drawn sketch of the Ruins of Amara

The citizens of Amara had been harassed by a decidedly evil dragon that was destroying their crops and livestock and demanding they pay tribute. Even giving into the extorsion, the dragon continued to pillage the town and the surrounding area. The townsfolk went to a nice, friendly elder dragon and asked if it would be so kind as to remove the dragon from their lives. The nice dragon was welcome to all the treasure that the evil dragon had extorted from them.

There was an epic battle between the two dragons. Magic flew. Breathes of fire and acid spewed. Buildings were hurled at the enemy. By the time the battle was done, the village was in ruins and the entire population was dead. The spirits of these dead villagers haunt the ruins to this day, demanding to know why their savior failed them.


Fizzle: … Go me. Happy Gnome!

Travelled through Obsidian (Lower level human upper gnome) on the way back to M’ka.

A New Tale Begins

artwork from box cover of the D&D 5.0 Starter Set

What have I done?

I started running a new 5th Edition D&D adventure for some friends I met through work. It’s in the same world setting that I created for the Dreadstorms Lost campaign, which I’m continuing with the several-years going now Sunday group. (Note, the image at the top of this post is from the Wizard’s of the Coast D&D 5.0 Starter Set. I sam not using the starter set for this new game, but I did buy it as a going away present to get one of them hooked.)

So this new group … To protect their privacy, I’ll refer to these new players by the supper duper secret code names: the Big M, DP, and Jones.

Setting the Bar

The Big M and DP have been listening to Critical Role to get an idea of what 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons is all about. Talk about setting the bar high. Mathew Mercer is an incredible story teller and a master of improv. His players are also voice actors, so I guess that sets the bar high for my new players too. Back 3ish years ago, watching Critical Role got me excited to game master again. Which has led to other great things in my life like having a fun excuse to get together with old friends more often, a better job, and finding new friends to addict to this hobby.

But back to the new guys … The Big M hadn’t played D&D since it was AD&D. (I mean, wow! the man still has the original books! and Dragon Magazines!) DP and Jones haven’t really played much, if any role playing table top games before. But let me tell ya, all three took to dungeons & dragons like friggin’ fish to water. Their enthusiasm is awesome, inspiring, and terrifying. They are a delightful group. Just don’t tell them that. I’d never hear the end of it.

Perspective

DP’s character, Fizzle, is keeping an online diary of the adventure, which I really quite enjoyed reading. I’m hoping he’ll let me share these with you here. It is fascinating for me to see how the story unfolds from someone else’s perspective. It’s like hearing a voice recording of yourself that doesn’t sound anything like you image you sound like. And then realizing that there are more voices than just your own in that recording that all sound different and more alive through someone else’s eyes.

 

 

 

Town of Obsidian

multi-level steampunk town

Check out the improved upon version of this map of Obsidian posted in April 2019

Ground Level of the Town of Obsidian

The town of Obsidian lies along the northern stretch of Briarstone’s Free Road, between Berlstrum and Goremont.

The population is primarily gnome. The ground floor is “human” size and scale, where the rather random levels off the ground are more comfortable for the shorter races.

Beneath the city is a well guarded secret, or at least not widely advertised to enemy forces. A large diamond mine runs many levels and tunnels underneath. The town has a dark gritty layer of coal dust that covers much of the town. Processing plants are a large source of employment here.

Places of Interest

Inns/Taverns

The Frenzied Ferrett Dance Hall & Eatery

Nightly contests based on performance scores (dancing, instruments, bands, solos, comedians, etc.)
Gambling room

Salty Swan Retreat

Bath house and optional adult entertainment/companionship

The Tipsy Unicorn Tavern & Inn

Cheap drinks & small rooms

Dizzy Dragon Den

Rooms 1gold per night

Stables 6 silver per mount

Specialties: Dragon Pepper Poppers, Dragon’s Breath Ale

Yahkle Arodite (Dwarf); talkative cheerie fellow; closely shorn red hair;  no beard nor eyebrows; happy to spin a yarn about how his beard burn off and how lovely life as a dwarf is without a beard.

Mayor’s Office

Mayor Kayrem O’Riley. Male gnome with greenish hair, vibrant blue eyes, plaid red/black suit with black button up shirt and matching pocket square.
Glenarra, Mayor’s Assistant.  Female halfling, flaxen haired, tired rings under her dark brown eyes, horribly hung over from partying at the Frenzied Ferrett last night.

Military Baracks for Sovereign’s Troops

Colonel Bodo Mutah. Male gnome, gray & grizzled

Places of Worship

The Congregation of the Somewhat Virtuous

Collection of various Choatic Good kiosks
Calista. Seerer. Human androgenous. Royal blue; follower of Daghdha
Cleric Zorbit (Cleric of Aphrodite). Halfling female, short bobbed orange hair; grey eyes.

Temple of Eternal Song

Keepers of Balance

Paragons of Pelor

Sparks Refinery

Buric VonBellor. 1/2-Elf male. Head honcho of mines – technically, the diamond mines belong to the country of Briarstone and the sovereign

Vendors

The Pounding Hammer Smithy

Basic metals smith; armors

Metal Mayhem

Armor/shields; some basic +1 items available

The Majestic Gray Blade

Weapons, bladed

Berttle’s Bloody Blades

Blades and other shady magic items

The Raven’s Maze

Basic magic items, potions, scrolls

The Daper Dandy

Leather and Cloth goods and armor

The Royal Yeti

Fancy clothing

Possible Side Quests in Obsidian:

Mining Pests

The owner of Sparks Refinery, Buric VonBellor, is losing minors in a new vein of the mine to a territorial Bullette that finds gnomes and halflings tasty. Buric is offering 500g per claw (12 claws per bullette) as proof of success. Buric volunteers Svensen, a portly gnome with anxious brown eyes, to take the party to the end of the new vein. Svensens not excited to be bullette bait.

Each adventurer is provided with a basic hooded lantern, if needed.

They will be escorted blindfolded by guards and Svensen through the building, down the mine shaft elevator, and into the tunnel entrance to this vein. The guards will stay at the tunnel entrance.

Berttle’s Bloody Blade

Located in the poorer part of town, behind a greasy food stand Berttle’s Bloody Blade sells questionable magic items, mostly bladed. Berttle is a angry, greasy gnome who bellows at his apprentice, Goffenmauker. Though Berttle is excessively polite to potential buyers.

Berttle has intel that there is a large boulder that contains the rare terrunium ore hidden way below the diamond mines of Obsidian. (For a description of terrunium, look under the Nation of Glort here: Dreadstorms Lost Campaign – Overview) The diamond mine operators want nothing to do with some stupid rock with terrunium. He sent his apprentice to find someone to sneak through the minds and retrieve the stone, but the hapless Goffenmauker has had no luck. No one familiar with the diamond operations wants to risk getting on their bad side.

Our adventurers enter the premise as Berttle is scolding Goffenmauker for his failure to procure some “dumb-ass idiotic adventure types” to get the stone. If the party is interested in taking the job, Berttle will offer to make a single bladed with terrunium with two minor enchantments in exchange for sneaking the boulder out of the mines.

rough sketch of path through mines to Berttle's rock
The roughly sketched path to Berttle’s terrunium boulder through the diamond mines below Obsidian (Player Version). While the path looks flat, the tunnels are constantly slopping off in different up/down angles. The round space is a huge cavern with hundreds of tunnel entrances. There are zig-zagging paths with color-coded flag posts at the bottom of each section. (Sketch on the bottom left for GM clarity.)

To aid in the task, Berrtle will provide the party with:

  1. Rod of Tensers Floating Disc. Has 3 uses of the Tensers Floating Disc spell. Activates by pushing the button on the end of the rod. The button must be held down to maintain the spell. The button is stiff and takes effort to keep active. Trying to secure the button with glue or “tape” will cause the rod to fall apart.
  2. Two scrolls of Pass Without a Trace. 
  3. One scroll of Mass, Disguise Self – As the spell “Disguise Self”, but can be applied to up to a total of 6 willing creatures. All those under the effects of the Mass, Disguise Self spell must stay within 30 feet of the caster or the effect ends.
  4. A poorly drawn directions to the terrunium rock hidden beneath Obsidian

Harpy Battle

View of harpy nest from above

When fighting a battle with harpies in a forest, sometimes you have to get creative with those trees and nests!

November 2018 – Added backstory below photos.

Backstory

These notes are being added in November, 3 months after the game occurred. My game notes aren’t great, so some of the details are a little fuzzy.

Our band of adventurers were camped beside the free road when a band of 5 harpies swooped in and tried to steal all of their shiny goods. The harpies only managed to grab a couple of things before being chased off by the party, but not before losing one of their number.

The next day they arrive in the town of M’Ka. The town has netting strewn between the buildings, covering the streets of the small town. They soon discover that in the last 6 months harpies have grabbed 6 young children off the streets of M’Ka. The townsfolk have not been able to find where the children were taken or if they are still alive. Two of the kidnapped children are the mayor’s.

The mayor, Winnie Soolfulright, convinced the town to raise a “king’s ransom” in gold (12,000g) to pay the Keepers of Balance to rescue the children. The Keepers of Balance declined to take the job. The mayor offers to give the players the coin if they can bring back the kidnapped children. Our gallant heroes leap at the chance!

Lost Children of M’ka:

  • Istaak Alfrenridge (8)
  • Anise (6) and Kayla Pennywise (4)
  • the twins Herman (5) and Shaila Soolfulright (5) – mayor’s kids
  • Golfree Thompson (3)

The next morning the cleric (Annabelle), the sorceress (Kethra), and the ranger (Aphodel) head east, in the direction they saw the harpies fly after the initial encounter on the roadside. They arrive in the small, ocean-side town of Ol’shire. The people there claim to know nothing of harpies, though it’s clear that some are lying.

The good folks of Ol’shire made a bargain with the harpies. The harpies would protect the town from the marauding pirates that had been troubling the town as well as not bother town and the town would keep people away from the harpies’ nests.

Harpies have a difficult time bringing their eggs term, often forgetting to keep the eggs warm when they left the nests to search for food or treasures or whatever drove these cursed beasts. So the harpies stole the youngest, easy-to-control children to warm the eggs while they incubated.

Our suspicious group leaves Ol’shire under the stealth of night and travels north along the coastline. They find several abandoned harpy nests along the way. Eventually they come to an area that shows signs of recent harpy activity.

They set up a trap near a grove of trees: a camp fire with shiny cursed armor, gems and a backpack filled with rocks as lures. Then they find climb the nearby trees and wait for the trap to spring. Much waiting occurs. It’s windy. One of the team almost gets blown off the tree branch they’re hiding on/clinging to.

The harpies approach, singing their songs. All but one of the adventuring group is able to resist the hypnotic pull. Battle ensues. With the use of sacred flame, scorching ray, and magic missiles the harpies once more run away before they can be captured or killed.

The team tracks the harpies back to their active nests. There are between 20-30 harpies making their home there. Our heroes don’t do a great job of hiding.

A harpy lands near where they are hidden and offers parlay. Offers to give these adventurer’s “shinnies” to go away. They have 3 eggs that are almost ready to hatch. They can have the kidnapped children back once they hatch in about a month. While intrigued by the offer of “shinnies”, which they learn are coins and magic items, they are not in favor of leaving the children with the harpies. The cleric offers to keep the eggs warm herself it they will release the M’ka children. The harpy doesn’t trust that the cleric would stay put or leave the eggs unharmed and declines the offer.

Negotiations break down. As a fight becomes imminent and terrified of being destroyed by these hardened killers, many of the harpies fly away, carrying as much of their loot as they can on the way. The polygamous group whose eggs these belong to stay.

At the same time as this chaos occurs, an old friend – Barbang, the dwarf fighter – is transported from Berlstrum to this battleground in thanks for aiding a hag. A battle between the remaining 7 harpies and the 4 adventures ensue. Five of the seven harpies are killed. The surviving two harpies grab the 3 eggs and one of the children and make their escape.

The newly abandoned nests are in huge old trees bent over the tall Briarstone cliffs. The tree with the children is surrounded at the base by a large water pit, placing the edge of land 25 feet from the trunk of the tree. The children warn the rescuers that there is a giant snake hiding in the water at the base of the tree. With the aid of several Ropes of Climbing, a Potion of Giant Strength, and some great climbing skill, they are able to get the 5 remaining children safely down from the nest without waking the giant snake. They are filthy, malnourish, and dehydrated, but otherwise unharmed. Anise Pennywise is the one that was carried away.

There is much happiness, rejoicing, and celebration upon the return of the 5 children to M’ka. They swear that they will find and bring back Anise. They also swear amongst themselves to find those shiny coins and treasures the harpy alluded to during the negotiations.

Image

Yewnaria Revisited

I originally posted the black & whitish pencil sketch of Yewnaria here. Below are descriptions of the areas of interest on the continent of Yewnaria.

Continent of Yewnaria (Mainland)

Kalenar

  • Largest settlement on the mainland of Yewnaria
  • The recognized seat of power for the mainland
  • Sits at the mouth of the Kale River
  • Often battered by brutal coastal waves that floods the lower areas
  • The wealthier live in communities built upon elaborate, multi-level platforms perched on stilts

Goya

  • Nearest neighbor to Kalenar
  • Sits between the Kale River and the base of Orgool Hills
  • The Kale River widens and slows down at this point, making it feasible for larger ships to sail from Kalenar up to Goya

Anika

  • Coastal town
  • Next closes territory to Kalenar
  • Has a large wall around the city which helps brunt the worst of the coastal batterings as well as keep out unfriendlies
  • Between Anika and Happychance are rich, fertile farmlands
  • The eastern mountain range of Yewnaria are riddled with tunnels and passageways to the other side of the range. Many of the passageways are controlled by various clans of trolls, kobolds, dwarves, humans and the like that charge tolls and/or offer protection for travelors

Happychance

  • Upriver from the violent coastal tides
  • Happychance straddles the water where three rivers merge

Psíanth

  • Northern most settlement in the Valley of Lakes
  • Large bridge over the Al’alwan River leads into Psíanth from the east

Mawgenta

  • In the center of the Valley Loslagos
  • On the banks of Kershmire Lake

Aberdine

  • Lake side

Cadeem

  • Lake side

Bonhaven

  • Does a lot of trading with Xan and Zemr
  • South eastern coast is primarily dry, arrid steppe land

Southeastern Yewnaria

Xan

  • TBD

Zemr

  • TBD

Northern Yewnaria

Baitan

  • Snobs
  • Hate Kalenar and deny that Kalenar has any sovereignty over them

Brakenridge

  • Isolated
  • Cold

Rodeego

  • Bay harbor
  • Cold

Monokron Isle (Between Northern Yewnaria and the Mainland)

  • This once beautiful isle changed … elementals battle … death … dispair …

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#20 – Will of Orcus Plague – Dreadstorms Lost

Undead horde attacks 3 mounted knights
THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST IS PART 20 OF MY CAMPAIGN, DREADSTORMS LOST, FOR THE DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS 5TH EDITION GAME. THESE BLOGS ARE INTENDED FOR OTHER GAME MASTERS WHO MIGHT WANT TO USE THIS CAMPAIGN SETTING AND THE SCENARIOS TO INSPIRE THEIR OWN ROLE PLAYING GAMES. (FREE FOR NONCOMMERCIAL REUSE.)

Notes:

The tricky part about Dreadstorms Lost campaign is the timeline. Once the ritual spell is started, it will increase in intensity each day. At each dawn the life draining wave kills more creatures toand reanimates them at dusk. The Will of Orcus Undead instinctively attack in hordes.

Depending on the party’s actions, like long or short rests, will decide where there are when a plague waves will happens.  

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5


Day 1 – At Dawn they Don’t Cometh – Insects

(Day 1 description copied from #11 – Bugs & Thugs)

Kazel is set up and has begun casting the ritual spell, Will of Orcus, several hours before sunrise.

First plague wave!

At dawn, those awake feel an odd moment of fatigue (*Life Drain). It quickly passes. Everyone needs to save vs the Life Drain, awake or asleep.

*Life Drain [Day 1]: CON save 5

-1 to Max HP on a failed save. If HP reduced to 0 by fatigue wave, target dies and rises as zombie 12 hrs later. Otherwise, a LONG REST restores max HP.

Note: You can only have one long rest ever 24 hours.

Dead Bugs

The first wave is fairly week and mostly effects insects: flies, caterpillars, small spiders, grasshoppers, moths, bees, and the like.
On a Perception of 16, an especially observant character will notice that there are no bugs buzzing/crawling/creeping about inside the town. There are dead bugs everywhere once a person starts looking. No live bugs within the wave radius area.

The wave has a radius effect centered around Kazel. His hidden lair underneath Berlstrum is roughly located under building #96 on the town map. This initial radius encompasses the Champions’ manor and a large portion of the town center. (See map below.)

Map of Berlstrum with plague area effect
Area of effect of the first wave of the Will of Orcus Plague in Berlstrum

At Dusk/Sunset on Day 1

Dead bugs rise in swarms, attacking any viable meat source in immediate area.

Zombie Bug Swarm 

Based on Swarm of Insects (5E Monster Manual pg 338) with a plague zombie template.

Hit Points 40

Movement 20ft, fly 30

Undead Template: +1 STR, +2 CON, -6 INT, -4 WIS, -4 CHA, Undead Fortitude, Poison immunity (damage type and condition)

*Life Drain: *If HP reduced to 0 by infected, target rises as zombie the following dusk; if not dead, LONG REST recovers lost max HP

Actions

Attack. Bites +3 to hit (swarm moves into target’s space). Hit 4d4 HP + Life Drain (DC7 Con or -1 to Hit Point Max ), 2d4 + Life Drain if half swarm

 


Day 2 of Casting the Will of Orcus – Small animals

(Day 2 description copied from #14 – Day 2 of Plague Wave)

Hidden underneath Berlstrum in his impregnable lair, Kazel continues casting the ritual spell, Will of Orcus. If the party is outside of the effected area (like on the farms), they do not need to make the CON save.

Second Plague Wave!

At dawn, those awake feel a moment of fatigue (*Life Drain) that lasts for 6 seconds. Everyone save vs the Life Drain, awake or asleep.

*Life Drain [Day 2]: CON save 6

-2 to maximum HP on a failed save. If HP is reduced to 0 by the wave, target dies and rises as zombie 12 hrs later. A LONG REST restores max HP.

Note: You can only have 1 long rest ever 24 hours.

Small Animals Drop Like Flies

The second wave effects small animals: rats, mice, cats, gophers, etc. The area of effect extends farther than it did yesterday.

On a Perception of 15, someone spots a dead rat (or other area-appropriate critter). Once they start looking, rats, mice, cats, squirrels and other smaller animals have all dropped dead. They very weak or ill people are also effected.

Berlstrum - Day 2 of Plague Wave
Blue circle shows the area of effect from the second plague wave, overlapping the red circle from day 1.

 At Dusk/Sunset on Day 2


Day 3 – Casting the Will of Orcus – medium size animals

At dawn, 24 seconds of fatigue (4 rounds); small children, medium size animals like dogs, deer, wolves, and giant rats (ROUs) are effected by the wave (some make their saves; most don’t).

On a Perception 12, spot a dead cat. Once they start looking and asking around, dogs, wolves, giant rats, and small children were affected when the wave hit. (A small percent made their saves.)

The radius effect continues to grow, centered around Kazel’s location. The area of dead extends outside of the city wall a ways, extending further out than the day before.

Third plague wave!

At dawn, those awake feel a moment of fatigue (*Life Drain) that lasts for 24 seconds (4 rounds). Everyone saves vs the Life Drain, awake or asleep.

*Life Drain [Day 3]: CON save 8

-2 to Max HP each round (4 rounds) on a failed save. If HP reduced to 0 by fatigue wave, target dies and rises as zombie 12 hrs later. Otherwise, a LONG REST restores max HP.

Note: You can only have one long rest ever 24 hours.

Dead puppies aren’t much fun

For those who don’t get the reference, listen to the song here on Youtube

People of Berlsturm react poorly to 3rd plague wave and the death of their children and pets…

Mobs

Scared, irrational packs of Berlstrum citizens roam through the town. Houses and business have been set on fire. Some on purpose by those hoping to stop the plague. If they see someone they recognize as a Protector, they will likely become demanding and/or violent.

A Swarming Mob of Angry Villagers

AC 10
The Mob consists of 50 individuals; each successful hit on the mob removes one person from the mob


Movement

Speed Normal 20; Frenzied 40

Surround: The mob will attempt to surround the target(s) of their ire. To avoid being engulfed by the mob, make a DC 15 DEX saving throw. On a successful save, target avoids being surrounded. The mob gains no swarming benefits.  If mob succeeds in surrounding a target, they have advantage on attack rolls against their target(s) and +4 to hit. There must be at least 3 villagers in order to surround a target. Divide the total number of remaining mob with the number of opponents. If there were 27 members of the mob still active, the most targets they can attack is 9.


Action

MultiAttack. The full mob of 50 makes 4 attacks on each enemy within range, +1 to hit unless they have successfully surrounded a target, then +4 to hit with advantage.  Each successful hit from the swarm does 1 HP subdual damage. If the mob makes all 4 attacks in the round, their damage is doubled. If the mob is brought below half its numbers, it only makes 2 attacks.

The mob can split up to attack multiple targets (at least 3 villagers per victim, but will try to herd everyone to the same spot.

Herd. If the mob successfully surrounds a target, the mob can force an opponent up to half the mob’s movement in any direction as a bonus action. STR save 15 to resist being push.

(Subdual) Knocking a Creature Out – Player’s Handbook, page 198,

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable.

The mob flows like water. Image that the swarm takes up 50 squares on a battle map. The mob can move through each other’s space to gain the best spot to surround and attack all targets. And because there are so many of them, they do not provoke attacks of opportunities when leaving a threatened square, unless the whole mob is frightened away.

  • 1-10 people subdued = 25% chance of the mob becoming frightened, causing the mob to breaking up and become individuals fleeing
  • 11-20 people subdued = 50% chance of the mob becoming frightened
  • 21-30 people subdued = 80% chance of the mob becoming frightened
  • 31-or more people subdued = 100% chance of the mob becoming frightened

Area effects on the mob, like cone of cold or fireball, will insta-kill the number of villagers equal to the squares the spell affects. Example a 15ft radius = 6 squares on battlemap = 6 dead villagers. (To help, this is an image of common spell shapes.) If an area affect is used on the crowd, they will instantly go into Frenzied Mob state.

Frenzied Mob of Terrified Villagers

If a member of the mob is killed (instead of knocked unconscious), there is a percentage chance that the mob will go into a frenzy. If an area effect takes out a bunch of them at once, they go into a frenzy.

If enough villagers are killed in individual combat, there is a chance that the mob will frenzy.

  • 1-10 villagers in mob killed = 25% chance of frenzy
  • 11-20 villagers in mob killed = 50% chance of frenzy
  • 21-30 villagers in mob killed = 80% chance of frenzy
  • 31-or more villagers in mob killed = 100% chance of frenzy

Frenzy Attack: The frenzied mob makes 6 attacks on each target within range. Each successful attack does 2HP damage and is no longer subdual. If all 6 frenzied attacks hit, damage is doubled.  A frenzied mob will keep attacking until each target within range is dead.

One-one-one with someone in the mob

An individual seperated from the mob has 0 bonus to all saves.

Action

Attack.  -1 to hit.  A successful hit does 1 HP subdual damage.

The Mob consists of 50 individuals; each successful hit on the mob removes one person from the mob

A Swarming Mob of Angry Villagers

Speed Normal 25; Frenzied 35

Surround: The mob will attempt to surround the target(s) of their ire. To avoid being engulfed by the mob, make a DC 15 DEX saving throw. On a successful save, target avoids being surrounded. The mob gains no swarming benefits.  If mob succeeds in surrounding a target, they gain a +4 to hit. Target is flat footed (loses DEX bonus on AC). And yes, that is a holdover from 3.5 edition.

Attack: The full mob of 50 makes 6 attacks on each target within range, -1 to hit unless they have successfully surround a target, then +4.  Each successful hit from the swarm does 1 HP subdual damage. If the mob makes 6 successful attacks in the round, their damage is doubled. If the mob is brought to half its numbers, it only makes 3 attacks.

(Subdual) Knocking a Creature Out – Player’s Handbook, page 198,

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable.

The mob flows like water. Image that the swarm takes up 50 squares on a battle map. The mob can move through each others spaces to gain the best attack spot to surround all targets. And because there are so many of them, they do not provoke attacks of opportunities when leaving a threatened square, unless the whole mob is running away.

  • 1-10 people subdued = 25% chance of becoming frightened, cause the mob to breaking up and individuals to flee
  • 11-20 people killed = 50% chance of frenzy
  • 21-30 people killed = 80% chance of frenzy
  • 31-20 people killed = 100% chance of frenzy

Area effects on the mob, like cone of cold or fireball, will kill the number of squares the spell affects. Example a 15ft radius = 6 squares on battlemap = 6 dead villagers. If an area affect is used on the crowd, they will instantly go into Frenzied Mob state. (To help, this is an image of common spell shapes.)

Frenzied Mob of Terrified Villagers

If a member of the mob is killed (instead of knocked unconscious), there is a percentage chance that the mob will go into a frenzy. If an area effect takes out a bunch of them at once, they go into a frenzy.

  • 1-10 people killed = 25% chance of frenzy
  • 11-20 people killed = 50% chance of frenzy
  • 21-30 people killed = 80% chance of frenzy
  • 31-20 people killed = 100% chance of frenzy

Frenzy Attack: Each successful attack does 2HP damage and is no longer subdual. If all 6 frenzied attacks hit, they still do double damage.  A frenzied will mob keep attacking until each target within range is dead.

Activities at Specific Locations During the Rioting

Town Hall

The mayor and several of the council are barricaded inside the town hall building (#82). Outside hundreds of people are yelling and throwing rocks at the building, angry that the town leaders closed the gates, trapping them all inside and demanding that gates be opened to escape this cursed town.

Inside Town Hall is:

  • Mayor Cobblekeep (Halfling)
  • Tomo* (1/2 Elf Druid, Aphodel’s mentor) has been wounded, but is currently stable.
  • Hammond* (Human, Farmer)
  • Mostrad (Human, Katrine Cafe #52)

Other Council members

Wabae (Human, Cleric Acolyte, runs Medical Aid) is at Sure Luke’s Pub with her nephew Serifo. Her sister Mamet is dead after her boarding house was set on fire by the angry mob. She went back in to save a tenant. Wabae was unable to heal her burns.  Wabae is doing what she can for the wounded holing up in Sure Luke’s.

Agosta Amagoste (Dragonborn)* and Xendric (dwarf) are helping to guard the library from looters.

R’dsché is at his church (#37), trying to keep the people seeking sanctuary calm and safe.

Grant Tan (1/2 Orc ) had his Survival Gear store overrun by frantic citizens. A fight broke out. While trying to break it up, he was stabbed to death.

*It is assumed that Amagoste, Hammond, and Tomo were successfully escorted back to the city by the party (#12 – Going to the Farm)

City Gates

The gates won’t open. Someone sabotaged the mechanisms! (In one game, a player ran a warlock with a fiend pact. The fiend was, of course, tied to Orcus. The warlock was given a solo mission to secretly sabotaging the city gates.)

Individuals are being crushed against the gate by the mob trying to get out. Some are trying to break down the gates, but so far have had no luck.

Churches

A large percentage of the population have gone to the churches (#6, #7, #8, #37) for protection and divine aid. All of the churches are packed to the max and have been forced to bar their doors from anymore coming in.

Council member R’dsché (Elf, Cleric) is at church #37 trying to keep the people there calm.

Docks/Harbor

Others in the town have tried to leave by the sea. The warf has only one ship remaining, which is completely engulfed in flames. Many ships have crashed upon the rocks in the harbor without a proper harbor guide. The harbor is full of wreckage and floating bodies. All the blood and fresh meat has attracted large water predators. Not to mention getting the Sea Hag’s sharks all excited.

The City Wall

Some citizens are trying to climb over the wall with their possessions on their backs. Not everyone makes the climb successfully.

Dragon’s Rest Inn

Somone started a rumor that the plague was coming from a rich visitor staying at the Dragon’s Rest Inn (#45). A mob stormed over there with torches, set the place on fire, and killed any who tried to escape the building. Some of the inn’s guest tried leaving by climbing down the cliff side, only to plummet to their deaths.

The mob has been roaming the city, setting fire to buildings they suspect might have plague barers.

Library of Esoteria

Many of the casters and scholarly types have set up a perimeter around the Library of Esoteria (#44), defending the building and its precious contents from crazed mobs and looters.

The council members Agosta Amagoste and Xendric are helping to guard the library from looters.

Champions’ Manor

A large group of people (~300) are gathered throughout the lower level of the champions’ manor (#122), waiting anxiously for the champions to return – in the dining hall, the gallery, the meeting hall, hallways, kitchen.

There’s an argument going on between 2 groups at the base of the stairs in the back. One arguing to search the upstairs area for something to protect themselves with and the other arguing that it would be disrespectful to invade the Champions’ private quarters.

Some people have heard that their is a secret door in the Champions’ manor and break into the building searching for the way out. Will the group help them leave Berlstrum via the secret door(s)? At some point, the scared citizens will find the back door leading into the forest. The hinges have been twisted, making it impossible to completely close.

Some of those fleeing carry wrapped bundles which you suspect are dead children or pets.