Looking for VFF Publishing?

What’s VFF Publishing, you ask? Why, it’s my publishing imprint! Yes, I write and publish novels. This blog is about gaming, but I see no reason not to redirect you to the Visions of Fantasy & the Future site (or Facebook, if you prefer) if you’re curious about what I write. I write fantasy and sci-fi. You can buy my novels at Amazon and other fine sellers of literature.

Advertisements
Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags:

Tomb of Annihilation – Session 10


After a week of travel or so, the group finally made their way across the marshy basin, finally arrived at the Heart of Ubtao. At first glance, there did not appear to be a way to ascend and explore the floating earthmote. A elf woman called down to them from above, inquiring as to their identities and purpose, then invited them up with an arcane doorway. She introduced herself as Valindra Shadowmantle. Sobek’s superior sense immediately identified her as undead and he was able to detect several others behind a closed door, as well. Valindra was interested only in talking, however, and told the group she, at the behest of her master, sought a relic in the jungle called the Soulmonger. Even now, she had minions searching for it, though she suspected it might be someone in the vicinity of Omu. Our heroes confirmed that they were headed for Omu and she seemed pleased as her minions had not yet investigated the lost city.

Sobek relayed to Baersora in Draconic that the woman was, in fact, undead disguised to appear living, and Baersora shared the information with her brother and Nali in Dwarven. At this, Valindra revealed that she spoke both Draconic and Dwarven and suggested they take this opportunity to part way peacefully, unless they intended to attack her. Despite Sobek’s misgivings about leaving undead undestroyed, they decided she was likely very powerful, perhaps a lich, and took advantage of her offer to part ways peacefully. She opened another arcane doorway for them to reach the jungle floor and bid them good fortune in their travels.

A few days after leaving the Heart of Ubtao, they veered of course from Omu to investigate something else they spotted while on top of M’bala. Lodged in the trees, about halfway between the Heart of Ubtao and Omu was a ship. A voice called down to them, asking for help, then shouted a warning as a corrupting ooze, a purple slime, and a mold zombie emerged from the surrounded muck. They fought off the oozes and undead to the gratitude of the marooned crew in the branches above. Their ship had crashed in the tree tops and they were injured, unable to descend and now, without food for four days. Sobek and Herrick worked to get everyone up into the ship where the captain, a cat-man (perhaps a Tabaxi) introduced himself as Captain Ra-Jareez*.

Their ship was a Spelljammer. He explained, in brief, how it flew and that their helmsman caught a tree branch through his face. Sobek shared some of his food with the remaining crew and they discussed how best to get down and back to civilization. Ra-Jareez was not keen on hiking through the jungle for weeks to reach Sasserine and eventually came up with an idea to build a raft out of the wreckage and attach the spelljamming helm to that. Unfortunately, they had no one to pilot the vessel. Ri-Tikki Stargazer perked up and suggested perhaps HE could learn to fly it. Ra-Jareez thought this was an excellent idea and gladly accepted the Kenku’s offer of aid.

After saying farewell to Ri-Tiki Stargazer, they proceeded uneventfully for another week or so, losing track of time as the days ran into one another until at long last, they approached the Lost City of Omu.

* The Wreck of the Star Goddess was originally a Halruaan sky ship. However, since I set Tomb of Annihilation in the World of Greyhawk instead of the Forgotten Realms, that really didn’t work for me. Personally, I think it should’ve been a crashed Spelljammer all along, so I just changed it. How did Ra-Jareez get another ship of his own and part ways with Captain Straxius and Sea of Stars, and how did he crash it in the Amedio Jungle? Well, that’s a story for another time. If you didn’t keep up with my Spelljammer game here, Ra-Jareez is not a Tabaxi, but is, in fact, a Nkosi from Midgard. He’s still an unlucky scoundrel, however.

Switching jungle travel to narrative mode was something I should have done several sessions ago, particularly when it became clear that the Gloomwalker Ranger Sobek’s class/racial abilities made overland travel in the jungle trivial (they cannot become lost and he automatically finds food and clean water). Moving, cat death, Gen Con, and new cat** provided enough of a distraction that I didn’t think of it until just last week. Things should progress much more meaningfully now. Plus, next session, they’ll be in Omu. Won’t that be exciting? (No spoilers if you’ve played/read it!)

** Yes, new cat. We adopted a kitten three weeks ago. He was born on May 4th (Star Wars Day!) so we renamed him Bendu. Our little Bendu bears little resemblance to the Tom Baker-voiced character in Star Wars Rebels, however. He spends our game nights going from person to person, wanting snuggles.

Categories: D&D | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tomb of Annihilation – Session 9

The hiatus lasted longer than we intended due to player absences, but at long last, we have returned to the Tomb of Annihilation! When we last left our heroes, they had just discovered a secret passage leading out of a large chamber full of cat imagery (cat statues, cat murals, etc. etc.). Down they go…

The cramped passageway lead into a hallway containing multiple doors, after find a false door hiding a trap, they tried the double doors at the center. Beyond those lay a city in miniature, with rivers of molten silver. Despite the liquid metal flowing through the room, the air was chilled. Herrick stepped in and was immediately engulfed in flame, the victim of a trap. After tending to Herrick’s wounds, the group figured out the best way to explore the room and took the opportunity to claim some loot and recover from their trials so far.

After that, they tried the last door in the hallway and stumbled into a trap that teleported them back into the deep passages they already explored, they spent an hour or so retracing their steps to the cat room, where they chose a different door. This led them to a collapsing room with a great number of agitated baboons and a hole in the ceiling leading outside. Sobek calmed the primates and with the aid of Herrick’s slippers of spider climbing, they escaped the hidden shrine, choosing the jungle above over further exploration of the buried temple.

Unfortunately, the partially devoured carcass of their triceratops rotted as evidence of an undead hoard having passed over them while they were in the shrine. They gathered what supplies they could and proceeded into the jungle on foot.

So, I skipped an encounter with a doppelganger that would have totally killed Herrick (he was down to 1 HP after the fire trap). Mostly, because I did not want to adjudicate a combat by notes or by having everyone else leave the room (the layout of the upstairs where the game room is makes that impractical). Plus, I didn’t want to introduce an element of one of the PCs being replaced by a shapeshifter at this point.

They were specifically supposed to be unable to exit the underground complex via that room with the collapsed ceiling and baboons, but when they have the tools to make it work and there’s no non-arbitrary reason to allow it, then you have to go with it. Frankly, I don’t even mind, despite all the really interested stuff being skipped, because they earned the gear that they used to get out and it was a good use of their abilities (abilities most PCs did NOT have when that particular adventure was written).

It’s pretty clear at this point that no one (even me) is interested in sandbox jungle exploration, particular with the time limit imposed by the adventure (I’ve spoken about this problem at length in previous posts), so I think I’m going to switch the weeks of jungle hiking to narrative mode.

Hopefully, we’ll get back on track now and be able to have many consecutive sessions of adventures.

Categories: D&D | Tags: , , , , ,

RPG-a-Day 2018 – Week Five: SHARE… why you take part in RPG-a-Day.


It’s pretty simple, really. I don’t blog as much as I should, especially for an author trying to expand his platform. RPG-a-Day gives me decent writing prompts that usually don’t leave me scratching my head and thinking WTF?

Most blogging prompts delve into topics I’m either not comfortable blogging about (i.e. provide pictures of celebrity crushes — I’m 44 and married, believe it or not, I don’t think about celebrity crushes that much and even when I was single, I didn’t), or I don’t feel are relevant to the topic of my blog (i.e. List three things in your purse). I suppose I could spend a month making fun of a particular set of blogging prompts, but at times, that seems arbitrary and cruel. If I could come up with a month worth of blogging topics to make my own prompt list for fantasy/sci-fi authors, then I wouldn’t need a list of prompts to begin with.

Categories: Random Thoughts

RPG-a-Day 2018 – Week Five: SHARE… something you learned about playing your character


I usually GM for my group, but over the last several years of playing, I have learned a valuable lesson: don’t play talky, charismatic characters. I’m not a good improvisor and I feel neither comfortable nor convincing playing a smooth-talking character. Sauve, slick-talk coming from me sounds about as natural as an oral bowel movement.

From now on, I’m sticking to techs, pilots, and fighters (whether they fight with swords, magic, fists, or guns). No smooth-talking con men, slick politicians, or diplomatic leaders.

I mean, have you heard about the plight of the Duros people?

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

RPG-a-Day – Week Five: SHARE… a friendship you have because of RPGs


I could handle this like a Follow Friday on Twitter and just list the social media handles of my friends I met because of RPGs, but that would be a gargantuan list. Since I’ve been playing RPGs since I was eight years old, they’ve been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember and the vast majority of my friendships can be attributed to RPGs. It would be easier for me to list friends I have that I met because of some other reason. Chief among this non-RPG attributed friendship would be the one I share with my wife. But, she plays RPGs now, too, so there’s hardly a corner of my social life that isn’t touched by RPGs in some way.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

RPG-a-Day 2018 – Week Five: SHARE… whose inspiring gaming excellence you’re grateful for


My answer for this ties in with yesterday’s post. Ironically… paradoxically… strangely? I’m thankful for Critical Role, Wil Wheaton, and others like them who serve as such great ambassadors of the hobby. I may not listen to, watch, or even like actual plays and livestreams of games, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize how important they are to helping millions of people understand this hobby I’ve enjoyed most of my life.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

RPG-a-Day 2018 – Week Five: SHARE… a great stream/actual play


I don’t feel comfortable making recommendations about this, because I don’t watching RPG livestreams or actual plays. Why? Because I don’t particularly like them.

Now, that doesn’t mean they’re not good; it just means they’re not for me. I, personally, don’t find it particularly enjoyable to watch other people play a game. I enjoyed Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop series. I thought it did a good job explaining how the featured board games worked. Critical Role is hugely popular and has made RPG fans of people who don’t actual play the games themselves. They’ve done a great job of bringing awareness of the hobby mainstream. Obviously, a lot of people enjoy watching livestreams or RPG actual plays and/or find something of value in them.

I suppose they could be good at figuring out how a system works, but I think you’d have to either watch a lot of them or you’d have to scour the feeds to find one that actually sets out to explain the system. Maybe that’s easier than I think; I’ve never looked because thus far, it’s not something I’ve needed to do. Perhaps the next time I decide to run a game that I’m not all that familiar with, I’ll look up some actual plays/livestreams of the system and see if I can answer that question for myself.

I still don’t think I’m going to enjoy watching other people play a game as much as many other people do, though. It’s just not my jam.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

RPG-a-Day 2018 – Your gaming ambition for the next year.


Well, that’s pretty easy. Over the next year, I would like to finish our Tomb of Annihilation game and start a new campaign using a system we have not played that extensively. Of course, what that will be will be determined by everyone’s mood, but if, for example, everyone is jonesing for a Star Wars game, I would use WEG D6 system instead of FFG narrative dice system (even though I’ve run multiple Star Wars d6 campaigns, but they were all in the 1990s).

If I had to choose right now, I might go for something like Hollow Earth Expedition, Pulp Cthulhu, Tales from the Loop, or Predation, but by the time we wrap up Tomb of Annihilation, a couple of us will have Flash Gordon, John Carter of Mars, and who knows what else? I’m certain that there will be a multiple session hiatus wherein we will play Blades in the Dark.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

RPG-a-Day 2018 – Week Four: Name a game that had an impact on you in the last year.


One game came to mind immediately: Blades in the Dark. When I needed to put my Tomb of Annihilation game on hold while I finalized preparations to move (i.e. when I disassembled my gaming table and packed up all my stuff), two fellows in my gaming group stepped up to run games for us. One, Starfinder, I was already familiar with. I liked the setting, but ultimately, Pathfinder-style games aren’t my thing (although I maintain I would play the HELL out of the Starfinder setting in D&D 5E). The other game, was one I think I’d heard of, but that’s all: I’d just heard the name. I knew nothing about it.

So, we made a crew of Bravos and played. The setting is a sort of fantasy gothic steampunk Victorian-era world, a world where the sun has gone dark, and you and your companions are the criminal element in this city of canals, corruptions, and vengeful spirits. We called ourselves the Barbican Bastards, and now, after having played it three or four times, we’re still very low on the totem pole and would be comically inept if we didn’t come close to dying so often (or as close to dying as the game allows; generally, your character is only going to die if you really want them to for dramatic purpose. You can, however, be incapacitated for enough game sessions that it’s useful to have a backup character). To me, if feels a lot like a Victorian-era Shadowrun, albeit with a game system that is much easier to grasp.

There’s a sci-fi version now, too: Scum & Villainy. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re burning out on classic fantasy RPGs, but still want to play less-than-moral characters, shall we say.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

RPG-a-Day 2018 – Week Four: WHICH… RPG do you think deserves greater recognition?


Most of my gaming has revolved around fairly “mainstream” RPGs: Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, now Blades in the Dark. I’ve played so many, every time I think of a title I’ve really enjoyed, I can think of people who are big fans or companies that are trying to revive the brand. Others have said we’re enjoying an RPG Renaissance right now, and I wouldn’t argue that. Of course, doing the work I do for the ENnie Awards means I’m exposed to a heck of a lot more RPGs than most people, so I think I’m too close to the question to be able to give a good answer.

Categories: Random Thoughts

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.