Friday, September 19, 2014

Another D&D 5e and Harn Day!

It is a D&D 5e and Harn Day all in one.

First off the D&D 5e Monster Manual. Reading selected entries it is pretty awesome. An A+ Monster Manual regardless of editions. While it a pricey for what I about to suggest the text is such that it useful as an idea generator for older editions including the OSR rulesets.  But if you were going to get it anyway you going get more utility out of it than just for 5e. There even one set of mechanics you can easily adapt to an older editions the various Lair Actions and Regional Effects caused some of the more powerful or distinct creatures.

This happens to be my favorite section which is the NPC listing in the back. Combine with a specific race or creature and you got a easily made distinctive characters for your campaign.

The downside of the Monster Manual? Well despite the shear quantity of creatures there are some obvious gaps. For example Fay creatures like brownies, leprechauns, and spites are not present. But given what they did put in there and the added material that is useful I can forgive them in exercising some editorial judgment. Also there is a focus on first tier creatures (1st to 5th level) 

Next up is the latest Harn release, the Kingdom of Orbaal by Columbia Games. While Orbaal is not the largest Harn kingdom in terms of population or power it is the largest in the shear number of settlements. The original article was terse even by harn standards due to the need to pack everything into a small number of pages.

For those not familiar with Harn, the northern coast is a broken mountainous regions where the coastline features numerous inlets and fjords. This was the home of the Jarin people, a vaguely gaelic people who were the first human settlers of Harn. This region was the last where they dominated that is until 60 years ago when vikings from Ivina (Harn's version of Scandinavia) discovered their realm. Within two decades all the coastal settlements where conquered leaving only of a handful inland settlement controlled by the Jarins. The Ivinians renamed the realm to Orbaal from the original Jara.

Flash forward a couple of decades you got a realms that is riven with factions, and potential rebellions.

With this release, Orbaal has been upgraded to the standards of the other new Harn Kingdom modules (Kaldor, Kanday, Rethem, etc). As you can see above each settlement has a full page entry that lays not only the basic details but talks about the ruler's personality and goals along with local personalities or details of note.

They did an exceptional job in local detail this time around. Despite Harn's reputation for low fantasy there are hooks to insert a traditional dungeon adventure as numerous ruins and strange locales are briefly described. You can play them straights or up the fantasy when detailing them.

If you like History Channel's Viking series then Orbaal will provide a ready made back drop for a similar campaign. Like all Harn products it is priced at a premium but it is a quality product and at 68 pages packed with a lot of material.

Good week for gaming stuff.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

First bits and pieces of a 5e Majestic Wilderlands

Primarily I am doing this for when I run the Majestic Wilderlands using the 5e rules. Since I got this published book with everything nice and summarized. So I figured lets see how it works with 5e. It not like 4e were I have to come up with an equivalent of a Magic the Gathering card set (4e powers) to make a class.

So here is the result

The first class converted was the first class in the book, the Berserker. Wizards had a Berserker sub class for the Barbarian. Much of this duplicates that combination. But I went through and modified things here and there to turn it into a holy warrior from Thor whose orders are to kick some monster ass.

Also I though about the formatting and decided that it would be me more useful if I start at the beginning and list everything in order of level. 

The second is a reskin of the Monk-Way of the Shadow. If you read the account of my last 5e session you know that +Rhandom A's character Squirrel died. When we talked about a new character he was torn between playing a Halfling and a Monk. I said "Why not both." We brainstormed together and the result is the Halfling Shadow. Now there is nothing different mechanically between this and the PHB Monk. But by rewording everything, Josh and I found that was resulted was something altogether different then the Mystical Ninja of the PHB Shadow Monk.

So enjoy and I am interested in feedback especially in the format. Hopefully Wizards has a generous third party license and by this time next year you will all have Majestic Wilderlands for 5e in your hands.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Great Escape of 5e

This week the search for the Lost Mine of Phandelver was continued.  +Tim Shorts  wasn't able to make it but Josh returned. He joined +Daniel McEntee , +Chris C., and +Joshua Macy in their adventures around the mining village of Phandelver.

The Ongoing Story
We last left the party inside the Redbrand Hideout debating over whether to take a short rest to recuperate or run down Glasstaff. In addition the murdered woodcraver's family hasn't been located yet.

The Roster
  • Ara (Joshua Macy) - an Elven wizard dwelling in human lands in order to return to his people's lost cities that lies in ruins within Dearthwood. 
  • Keyar Nailo (Dan McEntee) - an High Elven Archer seeking to keep the elven refuge of Losthain safe.
  • Squirrel (Josh)  - by all appearance a no-account street rat, but his cunning intelligence and a chance encounter with the possessions of a unlucky mage has allowed him to master arcane powers.  
  • Vognur (Chris) - a warrior armed and ready to take his place in the world and to pursue the mystery of the box left to him by his family.
The Hirelings
  • Lanar - a down on his luck miner who was hired as a torchbearer by the party.
  • Martha - with her debt to a unpleasant mano0r.
The Majestic Wilderlands
I elected to set the game within my Majestic Wilderlands. I am more familiar with the setting and by taking the original adventure apart and reassembling allows me to master the adventure better. On the map below each small hex is one league and takes one hour to walk. Each large hex is 5 leagues.

Thoughts on the Session
 +Chris C.  has a post with thoughts on the party splitting up.

The Game

Having waken up from his long night's rest at the Stonehill Inn, Squirrel learned that the party has entered the hideout of the Redbrands through a secret tunnel in the forest south of the ruined manor. The elf mage wasted no time in throwing his gear together and rushing out to join the rest of the party.

As Squirrel made his way through the tunnel, Ara, Keyar, and Vognur debated whether to take a short rest. (point A). The group decided that with the woodcraver's family yet to be found and the mage still running around that it would be best not to take a short rest and continuing exploring. Stepping out into the cavern area, Keyar decided it would be best to climb down into the chasm. Ara went ahead to the wizard's quarters to see what could be found. Vognur stayed at top to guard.

Squirrel meanwhile was stealthly moving from the tunnel and checking out the body of the wierd creatures that was slain along with dead bodies of Redbrand Ruffians. (point B)

Recognizing his companions, the elf mage revealed himself to Vognur and Keyar. Continuing his investigation Keyar found the murdered remains of the woodcraver along with a old wooden chest. (point C) At this point Vognur heads to the Wizards Quarter to see what Ara was up too.
Rob Note: I have what I feel is a very effective technique to get the players to act naturally out of combat. It starts with me going round robin around the table asking each player individually what they are doing. Unless the group has a strong leadership, more often and not it results in the group milling around doing whatever catches the individual players eye. After a minute or two of interacting with a player there generally comes a pause point where I can move on to the next player. The general effect is to keep everybody involved but in this particular case it had some unpleasant consequences in-game. 
While Keyar and Squirrel were wrestling the chest up to the chasm, Ara was systemically searching the Wizard's quarters. (various point Cs) Along with valuable alchemical components, the elf wizard found an interesting letter written in a elvish hand.
Keyar carefully opened the chest. Lying on a pile of coins was a strange and beautiful swords with a hilt in the shape of a bird of prey with the wings outstretched. Inscribed on its blade was the runes for Talon. Taking hold of the blade, Keyar could feel it magical nature. In addition over a thousand silver pennies were found along with a scroll, and two healing potions.

Keyar gathered the treasure and Squirrel headed down the quarter. Keyar soon joined Vognur standing in the hallway just outside of the Wizard's quarter. (various point Ds). Ara gave the alchemical equipment another look over and determined that Glasstaff was making invisibility potions. Squirrel investigated the room to the south and found the table with the remains of a card game and a poker pot amounting to several hundred silver.

By this time Glasstaff and the remaining Redbrands have regrouped and reorganized. Collecting Redbrands from other areas of the hideout, the wizard decided on a counter attack. The gang moved to the cavern (point E). There was Glasstaff and seven ruffians. Knowing about the rigged southeren bridge (point G) Glasstaff had two of the ruffians leap across the chasm to the otherside. They easily made the jump and made their way to the south hallway (point F). Unfortunately they ran into Squirrel investigating the slain bodies of orcs and ruffians from last session's fight.
Rob Note: What actually happened is that I was tracking time while the party was search and executing moves and actions for Glasstaff and the ruffians. I just rolls for the ruffians jump and placing the two in their final position when Josh announced he was moving to explore while simultaneously moving his token to the southern hallway. Because I was using the LoS feature of Roll 20 he didn't see anything until he dropped his token. His next words were. Hey Rob, do I see those? I replied "Yup, roll initiative." Both sides were effectively surprised. 
While both sides were surprised at the encounter, the ruffians were quicker to recover. The one closest to the mage launched a vicious strike, cutting open the elf upper arm and then on the backhand swing driving the point of his sword into the elf's belly. Squirrel immediately collapsed to the floor.

Squirrel's screams alerted the rest of the group along with Glassstaff and the remaining Ruffians. Their cover blown the ruffians in the southern hallway bolted to the Cavern and attempted to leap the chasm. One made it, the other tripped and fell head first into the chasm. The fall didn't kill him but left the Redbrand battered and bruised.

Hearing his friends' cries Vognur quaffs a healing potion and rushes into the southern corridor (point F)  Seeing Vognur explode out of the southern hallway, Glasstaff shouted for two of men to head to the armory (point H).

Vognur continued his charge right across the southern bridge which promptly broke underneath. Glasstaff having rigged it to collapse as precaution against invaders. Vognur feel 20 feet to land in front of the Redbrand below. The Redbrand missed his blow as the warrior thrusts straight through the ruffian's chest. Keyar runs out of the northern corridor and shoots at the Ruffians. Unfortunately the shoot was wide and bounces harmlessly off the cavern walls.

As this point Glasstaff steps up and unleashes a full volley of magic missiles on Vognur who collapses onto the chasm floor.  In the meantime Ara comes across Squirrel and attempts to bandages him. With the fallen mage's lifeblood pouring through his hands there was nothing he could do to save him.

Seeing Vognur fall, Keyar scrambles down to the chasm floor and successfully administers a healing potion to the warrior. Vognur tries to scramble up the chasm to charge Glasstaff while Keyar scrambles up to use the cavern as cover. But a vicious attack by a ruffian downs the warrior again. Keyar's plans are defeated by the arrival of the two Redbrands from the armory (point H) armed with Light Crossbows. They quickly overwhelm the elf and the ranger falls. Ara attempt to use what magic he has left after seeing his friends fall. But Glasstaff's final volley of magic missles convinces the elven mage that he had no alternative but to surrender.

Ara was quickly bound and gagged by the four surviving ruffians. Strangely, Glasstaff ordered Ara not to be harmed and administers first aid to save the elven ranger. When reminded of Vognur values as a gladitor slave, Glasstaff allowed the fighter to save. The party's torchbearer Lanar was also captured.

The party was taken to the cells (point I). Keyar, Vognur, and Lanar thrown in with the woodcarver's wife, Minar and her two children Nilsa and Nars. Ara was left in the southern cell bound and gagged. The ruffians locked the outer door and slightly later the sounded of spikes being driven into the crypt doors could be heard.

After several hours, Keyar and Vognur came too, some what rested but stripped of everything but their underclothes. Quickly taking stock their situation, Keyar revealed that he some magic powers of his own. He used Mage's hand to free Ara. Unfortunately the wizards had little in the way of any spells useful to the situation. However after a quick discussion the Ranger and Warrior determined that the cell door was just old enough to be pried loose. After several tries both cell doors were wrenched free.

In a minor miracle none of the Redbrands came to investigate. Investigation of the outer door (point J) showed it be locked. But with some brute force and judicious use of Ara's Ray of Frost the lock was shattered.  However thanks to Keyar exploration from last session the party knew there were some undead skeletons out in the crypt.

A plan was devises where Area opens the door, steps out into the crypt then retreats. Vognur and Keyar will pick up a cell door and hold it against the open doorway as a barrier. Ara will then use his cantrip to take out the skeletons one by one.

The plan was put into actions and despite the determined effort of the first skeleton it was quickly killed. Ara revealed that he still had more than just cantrips in him and unleashed Burning Hands severely damaging the remaining skeletons. However he got too close to the doorway and a skeleton managed to pushed his way into the room landing a vicious slice of his sword on Ara.
Rob Note: Although the monster stats said shortsword and short bows, the room description clearly indicates the skeletons rises with only swords in their hands. 
However Vognur and Keyar pushed with all their might and managed to barricade the doorway again. Ara's Ray of Frost managed to finished off remaining two skeletons.

Emerging into the crypt they find both the northern door and the southern door to have been spiked shut.
Rob Note: The redbrands are down to a depleted mage and four ruffians one of them injured. They simply don't have the manpower to effectly guard their prisoners. Glasstaff elected to so what he can to shut the group into the cells and hole up elsewhere. What he didn't count is Keyar having magic spells nor the party being able rip the cell doors off.
Keyar searched the crypt and found a platinum ring worth 500 sp. After discussing their options the party elected to open the southern door. (point K). Using a cell door as a battering door they busted down the double doors. In fact one of the door flew far and wide enough to activate the hidden pit trap down the hallway (Rob Note: Chris rolled a natural 20 for Vognur's Athletics check.)

Making their way to Manor's celler (point L) they quickly investigated the surrounded area. They found a backpack with the discarded remains of a healing potion. After finding the secret door in the southwest corner the group determined this is where Glasstaff regrouped.

Despite their desire for revenge, the group thought that discretion was the better part of valor and left the manor via the cellar stairways.

I need to stop refereeing 5e. Oh there is nothing wrong with the group, the game, or the campaign. But I am rolling hot, so hot that it is draining the luck out of the rest of my life. Namely due the fact that in the space of one week I went from two well operating cars to zero. The first lost on the way to the airport with a busted front axle gear. My wife and I decided to scrap it due it having over 200,000 miles on it. Then on the way way home, I rolled a natural 1 and the left rear tire shredded all over the highway. Like Kelly Anne, my wife, rolls a natural 20 and manages to get the van safely to the side of the highway. In fact she did so well that the rim remained undamaged and ultimately only needed a new tire put on. And kudos to +Daniel McEntee for going above the call of friendship to fetch us and take us home after the tow.

As for 5e, now that I am five session in already, I have to say this is an awesome edition. The way that characters and monsters are stated makes it very easy to master them both in terms of roleplaying and combat. More importantly they work the way I prefer them to work. You think of action as if you are there and rules seamlessly translate that into specific die rolls and details.

For example at first glance you still got the D&D funkiness with hit points. But they really emphasize that hit points represent fatigue and experience as well. And more I used he whole hit point/healing system, I can go "Yeah I see what they are getting at.".

So with Squirrel's death +Rhandom A is making up a new character. From our discussion it looks like one of the first pieces of a Majestic Wilderlands supplement for 5e will emerge. We see how it works out for next week and share some details.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steve Jackson's 2013 Stakeholder Report

The 2013 stakeholder report is up over on the SJ Games website. Whether you are a fan of SJ Games products or not this offer a unique insight into the operations of a game company with commentary on the industry by one of the oldest of the old school game designers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Where is Glasstaff? The 5e adventure continues.

This week the search for the Lost Mine of Phandelver was continued. Josh wasn't able to make it but +Daniel McEntee returned. He joined +Tim Shorts+Chris C., and +Joshua Macy in their adventures around the mining village of Phandelver.

The Ongoing Story
We last left the party at their victory over the Troll Skull Goblins at their hideout. Now they are ready to return to Phandalin and enjoy their hard one spoils.

The Roster
  • Ara (Joshua Macy) - an Elven wizard dwelling in human lands in order to return to his people's lost cities that lies in ruins within Dearthwood. 
  • Keyar Nailo (Dan McEntee) - an High Elven Archer seeking to keep the elven refuge of Losthain safe.
  • Sidwin the Sharp (Tim) - a native of the City-State, the human rogue senses opportunity in Phandelver and positioned himself to be hired as one of the caravan guards. 
  • Vognur (Chris) - a warrior armed and ready to take his place in the world and to pursue the mystery of the box left to him by his family.
The Hirelings
  • Lanar - a down on his luck miner who was hired as a torchbearer by the party.
  • Martha - with her debt to a unpleasant mano0r.
The Majestic Wilderlands
I elected to set the game within my Majestic Wilderlands. I am more familiar with the setting and by taking the original adventure apart and reassembling allows me to master the adventure better. On the map below each small hex is one league and takes one hour to walk. Each large hex is 5 leagues.

The Game

The party returned from the goblin hideout (G) to Phandalin without incident. Along the way they chatted with Sildar Hallwinter and learned the following.

  • He was travelling here with Gundren Rockseer when they were both captured.
  • Gundren was sent to the Troll Skull "castle" along with all their gear including a map to Wind Echo Cave, the site of the Rockseer mine. 
  • There are three brothers, all Rockseers, that are involved.
  • Klarg, the orc leader of the goblins, had orders from somebody called the Black Spider to waylay them. 
  • The Rockseer are involved with Iarno Albrek, a magistrate recently sent by the Overlord from City State to take charge of Phandalin.
  • Sildar is Iarno's man at arms and hasn't heard from him in several months. Decided to come with Gundren to see what happened. 

With the time near sunset they decided to turn in at the Stonehill Inn. Sildar bade them goodnight and told the party that they can find him staying with Townmaster Harbin at the village hall. That they should come and see him in the morning to decide what to do about finding Gundren.

(Party at the Stonehill Inn at A)

During dinner the party learned of the death of Thel Dendrar a local woodcarver along with his wife and two children were missing. Thel was murdered by Redbrands while they looted his cottage. Outraged Ara and Vognur talked to the farmers and learned that his wife and children were likely taken to be sold in the slave pits of the City State of the Invincible Overlord.  Also the party learned that Pip,, the innkeeper's son, had a friend, Carp Alderleaf, who saw the bandits emerging from a secret tunnel. As dinner was winding down, Vognur spoke to the innkeeper Toblen, and assured him that the group will do something about this. Only keep between the two of them to minimize the chance that the Redbrands will overhear something. Vognur also graciously refused the return of the money the party spent on room and board. With that the group retired for the night.

All that is except for Sidwin the Sharp. The thieves of the Brotherhood of the Lion are many things but being slavers is not one of them. As Sidwin went out to "stretch" his leg and made his way over to the Sleeping Giant. A known hangout of the Redbrands, he stealthed his way to a window and overheard four of them drinking and talking about the murder of Thel and the loot they found. The rogue also took note of Grista, the tavern's proprietor, a dwarven lady that looked as mean as her clientele.

(Sidwin travelling to the Sleeping Giant via the dotted line to B)

However luck wasn't with Sidwin as he walked over a pile of rotten firewood when attempting to leave. It was just enough noise to cause one of the Redbrands to investigate. Caught in the open with nowhere to hide Sidwin played dumb and drunk.

Luckily his wit and fast tongue allowed him to join the Redbrands in a game of craps. Luckily while he did well, one Redbrand did better, the best outcome for a newcomer in a gang of thugs. Sidwin also learned that the leader of the Redbrand was a mage named Glasstaff. By the middle of the night with nearly all the ale gone, Sidwin was trying to leave. But Grista was having none of that. She insisted that Sidwin enjoy her tavern's hospitality with a tossed bedroll and heavy crossbow pointing at his groin.

Unlike the humans of the party, the elves only need a four hour trance to refresh themselves. Returning to full awareness after midnight Ara and Keyar noticed Sidwin missing. It was decided that Keyar would do a sweep of the sleeping village to find Sidwin. After two hours, following the dashed line to B, Keyar peered into the window of Sleeping Giant and found Sidwin sleeping along with the Redbrands.

Returning to Ara they decided to wait until an hour before sunrise and wake Vognur to attempt a rescue. There was some discussion on whether Sidwin had abandoned the party to join the Redbrands. In the end was decide it made no difference to what needs to happen. Vognur was awakening and in the gloom of the pre-dawn twilight, the warrior readied himself.

The three crept through the gloom and positioned themselves around the Sleeping Giant. Ara acted first and let loose with a sleep spell. Taking care to position it so it wouldn't impact them. One of the Redbrand was effect and to everybody surprise Grista and her crossbow came tumbling down the stair. However the remaining Redbrands were still sleeping off their ale and all five were dispatched. Sidwin explained what was up and the party resolved that the time to strike was now.

The group returned to the inn, where with innkeeper Toblen permission they had Pip fetch his friend Carp. From Carp they learned that the tunnel was in the forest south of the ruined manor. (point C). Everybody readied their gear and prepared to leave. During this Lanar was waken and also geared. Matilda stayed at the Inn and took charge of cleaning and mending what they didn't take with them.

Arriving at the tunnel entrance in the party found a long narrow tunnel leading into the earth. With Keyar in front leading with his preternatural elven sight the ventured downward.

After several hundred years the tunnel opened up into a large open space. With everybody hanging back in the tunnel. Keyar ventured out. (To point A) From behind the stone column a horrid man sized creature stepped out.

Almost immediately the Ranger was drawn to the monster's strange singular eye. As it filled his vision the elf felt his spirit come under attack! As necrotic energy filled his awareness Keyar remembered the forest vaults of his home, the threads of life he could feel throughout the streams and trails. Wrapping the memories of winter beauty around like armor the monster's hold was broken!

As the ranger raised his longbow, he focused on the creature's aura and placed his hunter' mark. Alas the arrow ricocheted off of the creature hide. However the rest of the party galvanized into action. Between Sidwin's bow and rapier, Ara spells, and Vognur's blade the four downed the Nothic screamed his death knell and fell to the ground.

From as distance the party heard "Brak nathag ock besarg ot mandan Nothic.". Fortunately Ara was able to understand this as it was goblin. "Go check and see what the nothic is up too". After this a plaintive voice replied "But why me?" followed by a bellow and somebody opening the door.

Note: Understand after this point it all one continuous stream of combat.  The lull after the Nothic death was the last lull for a long, long time.

The party positioned themselves around the lower hallway. (along the line pointing to B) The door cracked open and out stepped a Troll Skull goblin! On the edge of Phandalin no less! The Keyar focused his Hunter's mark on the unsuspecting humanoid and killed him with a single arrow shot.

A second later, an orc steps halfway out and stooped to examined the fallen goblin. When he turned to look up the stair, he saw the flash of Keyar's second arrow and slumpped against the door jam with an arrow in his shoulder. Vognur rushed forward and slashed the large orc across the arm. Unfortunately Sidwin missed his shot while Ara kept watch toward the large cavern.

(Note that we are using Roll20's dynamic lighting, I will show you what this was like further on. However understand each player only saw the limits of their own vision. During all this they kept yelling at Lanar to move up with the torch as this was the only light source for Vognur and Sidwin.)

(All this action was centered around B)

Vognur struck again at the orc stabbing it through the meat of the orc's thigh. The warrior noticed through the open doorway that two other large orcs were scrambling to put on their gear. Sidwin moves down the stairs and lunges at the orc but the rapier's points slides uselessly off the armor. Sidwin then uses the shifting shadows to hide in the corridor (Tim rolls a nat 20 so there is no question about this)

Aided by his Hunter's Mark Keyar scores a perfect hit (another nat 20!) and the orc collapses dead. The remaining orcs rushes out and the first feel feels the bite of winter as Ara successfully aims a Ray of Frost spell. The orcs fights the party but to no avail. The last orc desperately grapples Vognur only to be cut down by a well aimed sword thrust.

This how it looked from Vognur's point of view. 

During the fight with the last of the orcs, Sidwin hears people scrambling from chairs and readying themselves. Taking notices of the door behind him (the one south of D) He makes the rest of the party aware of the situation.

The party slams open the door and rushes into the room (point D) Unfortunately two Redbrands were waiting in ambush and hacked into the party as they rushed through with Vognur bearing the brunt of their blows.  As an unpleasant surprise they proved to be far more capable fighters then as the thugs they first appeared to be.

Ara hearing the sounds of doors opening decides to go back and up the stairs and keep watch. A move that proved wise later.

Vognur, Keyar and Sidwin battled the two Redbrands around the room downing both of them. Unfortunately Glasstaff choose to make his appearance. (Standing at point E) Framed by the two doorways Vognur made a perfect target and he was felled by a volley of magic missiles.

The dice that downed Vognur. 
I decided to christen my newly arrived magic missile dice

During this a third Redbrand make it way through another hallway and into the cavern. Ara and the Redbrand spotted each other at the same time and the mage retreated down the stairs into the lower hallway (point A) yelling at Lanar to follow him. Lanar ran as fast as legs could  pump but the Redbrand was quick. In a vicious cycle of swings, the thug cut down Lanar and gave Ara a vicious slash across the chest.

Keyar was the first to react to the appearance of Glasstaff and focused the Hunter's mark on the mage. But the well aimed arrow shot was foiled by the shimmering globe of magic energy that sprung from Glasstaff's staff.  In a single fluid motion, Sidwin lunged his rapier at Glasstaff. The magical shield was no match for Sidwin's skill as the rapier slipped through the mage's liver.

Seeing the Sidwin and Glasstaff dueling, Kaydar kneeled beside the bleeding warrior and the cool white light of healing restored Vognur to conscious and his health. The wizard unleashed another volley of magic missile which marked Sidwin with multiple puncture wounds. (Go magic missile dice!)

With nothing between him and the Rogue, Ara unleashed his most potent spell sleep. The looking of triumph on the Redbrand's face quickly turned into deep slumber as the thug collapsed onto the stairs.

Stunned by the display of the wizard's power, Sidwin elects to run into the open doorway to the east. (The room and door to the east of E). Seizing the opportunity,  Glasstaff stuck out with his staff but failed to hit. Seeing Vognur getting up and Keyar readying his bow, Glasstaff chose to run away through the upper hallway. (The path to point I). After stumbling in the dark hallway, Sidwin lets Keyar lead and the two give chase. Vognur decides to grab the torch in the wizards room. (point E). In the mean time Ara is disparately trying to stop Lanar's bleeding before he dies.

The situation after Keyar and Sidwin start chasing the Wizard
From Vognur point of View.

This is what it looks like from my end.

With the glow from the upper storeroom to guide him (point I) Sidwin leaps! across the chasm and runs down Glasstaff desperately trying to open a secret door. (also point I). However Sidwin's rapier blows was not to be as it completely missed the wizard. Once again a well placed shot by Keyar was foiled by the wizard summoning another shimmering shield from his staff. With a sneer at Sidwin, the wizard lets loose another volley which downs the mighty rogue. Then slips through the now opened secret door.

Ara and Vognur see Keyar gives chase to the wizard as the elven ranger also slips through the door. Unfortunately Keyar is brought up short when he spies three skeletons rises from their crypts in the subsequent room. (point H). He could only curse his frustration as the wizards slips through the double door to the east.  Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor. He slams the door on the skeletons and spikes it shut. He returns to the party as Vognur skillfully bandages the multiple punctures wounds on Sidwin.

And the adventures continues...

In two weeks.

Wow, this is was simply the most awesome DnD fight I refereed since a ADnD first adventure in my first year of college.

Now some specifics.

I am sorry but unless stealth is involved or a one round kill there is no way that the party isn't going to rouse the rest of the western half of the dungeon if they fight the Nothic. This happened for this group and the J Squad at Gold Star Anime. Now the awareness of everybody in the western half didn't happen all at once. I was rolling perception checks particularly for the Redbrands. Despite managing to blow a total of eight rolls while playing their card game they still managed to put together a credible defense and warn Glasstaff.

So far the dungeons are small. Really small which contribute to the effect I mention above

OK this part may not come off clear. It about initiative. I had everybody roll initiative and divided the groups into those that went before the monster and those went after. With four players most were in all one group. Then I resolved initiative in order of who is closest to combat. This cut down a lot of "I am waiting for X to do something before going.". Which happens a lot in dungeons with 5' corridors.

DnD 5e is really growing on me. Like Tim of Gothridge Manor, I think the healing mechanisms are too generous but... well I have to admit if you are going to have this type of mechanic this is the way to do it. Note that the party hasn't touched their hit dice healing. They simply have had time too.

I did get one thing wrong, attack of opportunity only occurs when you exit your opponent reach. So Sidwin could have run around without drawing opportunity attacks. A six second combat round is pretty abstract so I can buy this. In my Sword and Wizardry games I always allow a 5 foot step with out any type of opportunity attack. I just chalk it up as part of the dancing around that occur in real life combat. However you still need to be aware when two opponents are standing side by side.

Ranger having Cure Wounds is awesome. I know Dan thinks so. As a fan of the Dunedain Rangers I think it cool as well. Glad to see this in place over the concept of the Ranger as woodsy guy, two weapons fighter of other recent editions. Also the party doesn't quite suffer from the lack of a cleric. Yeah having a cleric would be very helpful but there is just enough surges, potions, and hit dices that a cleric-less group can keep going. For a little while at least.

The players were great. The only frustration is the lack of PHBs particularly for Dan. But as I understand they are winging their way from Amazon and other stores as we speak

There is only one bad point and that is the choice of skills. Perception seems to be the "tic" skills of DnD 5e. We fumbled around with Insight and Investigation as well. I will read them over again before I make my final impression.

Roll20's Dynamic lighting is awesome. Tim did really fumbled around and lost some movement tying to figure out where Glasstaff went. I never seen that in tabletop before. Also I was able to speed it up by checking Update only on Drop.

Magic Missile dice have a happy feel.

Magic Missile was Glasstaff "tic" spell. Blew two of them through his 2nd level spells slots and two through his first level. The spell slot system is outstanding. It not like the involved decisions of DnD 4e or GURPS, but there are tactics involved in deciding to use what spells where.

Damn I hope Wizards doesn't flake out about third party publishing I want to write for this.

That all for now the next adventure post will be in two weeks.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some basic Majestic Wilderlands Info.

I posted about this way back when I first started writing my blog. With a couple of new players in our Monday Night group, I figure it would a good time to post a reminder that I have some  Majestic Wilderlands info up on the web for free. And it is especially useful if you want to run the setting with GURPS.

I also have this GURPS template for Myrmidons of Set

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dwimmermount is released!

Well it been a journey but thanks to the hardworking folks at Autarch, the Dwimmerount megadungeon is finally released for Labyrinth Lord. The ACKS version is being worked on and will be released later this year.

A couple of notes.

  • I drew some of the overland maps, and the map of Muntberg
  • The overload map was inspired by the map for Outdoor Survival by Avalon Hill
  • The wilderness map dovetails with Blackmarsh to the north. Forming an alternative "Southland" for those with Blackmarsh
  • Muntberg is based on Rhuddlan Castle in Wales
  • This is because the original Muntberg used by James was the Keep on the Borderlands. And the Keep was based on a real world castle. So I figured what good for Gygax is good for Dwimmermount.
  • The text and maps of Dwimmermount are all open content. So those who have a better way of presenting the place or problems with specific can share their fixes. 
My only major criticism of Autarch's work is that when they split the maps for the map booklet they didn't overlap them by 5% or so. They tried for a perfect splits which doesn't work in practice. This is the same flaw the afflicts the maps for The Castle of the Mad Archmage. In both there is plenty of white space on the outer edge to allow room for extra overlap.

Dwimmermount Maps
Dwimmermount Illustrations