Posts Tagged With: D&D

5th Ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, session 28

The voyage to Varlden Dod required Sea of Stars to pass through several sphere in the Illithid Dominion. Fortunately for them, the mind flayers were pre-occupied with a war against the witchlight marauders and they were able to complete much of the journey unmolested. One flight of nautiloids approached Sea of Stars, seeking parlay. The mind flayers demanded to know their business in the Dominion, and offered safe passage, as well as a guide them through the most dangerous battle zones. The price: slaves to power their lifejammers, though gold would work in a pinch.

Not willing to sacrifice any of their crew to known brain-eaters, Captain Straxius elected to give the mind flayers their price in gold. A nautiloid broke off from the flight and escorted them through the remaining two spheres until they reached Sunless Sphere.

A single planet orbited a black star. Varlden Dod was a dead world, covered in stagnant marshes with twisted, bare trees. Overhead, the “light” of the black star cast a pall and chill over the world. Preliminary scouting revealed the location of the ruined temple containing the well that once served as a fountain of good; the place where the portal to the positive material plane could be opened.

The wood tower shows the elevation of a flying PC

The crew brought the wand out from the various bags in which they stored it. Straxius summoned a floating disc to hold the pieces. When they were in proximity to each other, the fragments of the wand snapped together until they formed the whole. As soon as the wand was assembled, a visage of Orcus himself appeared above the well as Straxius and Garria approached it to begin the ritual to open the portal. “Bend your knee to me. I’ll give you a minion for each enemy you’ve slain. You will have any army.”

They refused and Orcus commanded his minions to arise and destroy them. Swarms of wolf spirits and ghouls charged out of the swamp. Straxius and Garria continued the ritual as the rest held the undead off. Once the initial wave was destroyed, more poured forth from the befouled waters, ghouls, ghasts, and wraiths attacked.

Straxius left Garria to continue the ritual alone while he lent his magic to defeat the second wave. Still, more undead clambered forth from the marsh. The ghoul king himself appeared, with more wraiths, and a giant skeleton. The battle was hard fought, and though several officers of Sea of Stars nearly fell, they were, at least, victorious. Orcus roared in anger and another form emerged from the swamp: the rotting corpse of a great dragon, its middle torn open, as if exploded from within. Two battered, ruined corpses dangled from the wound.

Garria completed the ritual as the dragon pulled itself from the muck. A geyser of positive energy filled the well. She snatched up the wand and dashed into the portal. As she did so, a flash of warmth washed over the

 

crew, destroying the dragon. Once their vision returned, they saw a bright, warm sun in the sky, birds and insects resumed their songs, and wind rustled the leaves of once-dead trees. The Wand of Orcus was destroyed and life returned to Varlden Dod.

And with that, another D&D campaign is concluded. For the first time in years, I managed an epic conclusion to a long-running campaign, befitting the destruction of a major artifact. We may return to these characters in the future (they’re only level 11, so they’re perfect for Against the Giants–they even have a Hammer of Thunderbolts and a Giant Slayer sword (but no Girdle of Giant Strength or Gauntlets of Ogre Power), but they’ll have to retire from Spelljamming first; I want to run something more grounded in the future. There’s been some talk about possible playing Tomb of Annihilation, but first, I’m taking a break from GMing for most of the rest of the year.

It’s a little bittersweet to bring a long-running campaign to an end (long being relative; this wasn’t a 20-year campaign, but it was certainly one of the longest-running campaigns I’ve ever run), but honestly, I’m just glad that when the session was over, no one said “Well, thank goodness THAT’S over. What a drag that campaign was.” Now, I’m sure there were highs and lows (certainly, I can identify some sessions where I feel like things could have been a lot better), but overall, I’m pleased with how it all turned out.

Straxius’s player is stepping up to run something for October and November, what exactly has yet to be revealed, and then Sumner/Rune’s player will run his annual Doctor Who Christmas special in December. After that, depending on where I am with the new house my wife and I are building, we’ll see if D&D continues, or we’ll keep doing short 2-3 session games until we get settled. Until then, thanks for reading and keep those dice rolling!

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5th Ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, session 26

Boccob’s Barge

As the hammership approached, Straxius ordered his crew to bombard it with Sea of Stars’s catapults. While their aim was true, Boccob’s Barge continued to close and increased to ramming speed. With a crash, the two spelljammers collided. A mass of arms, legs, and torsos tumbled from Boccob’s Barge onto Sea of Star’s main deck. The Ghoul King contacted Straxius telepathically:  “Surrender the wand and I will call off my minions. You may live and return to your mundane life of hauling cargo. I will even transfer all this infernal beer in my hold.”

 

The mass rose up and began attacking the crew, even while the Ghoul King and his minions attacked from afar. Straxius and Rune concentrated on the Ghoul King and a familiar woman, Gwen Sallas, the woman they freed from slavers on the Rock of Bral, now a vampire in the service of the Ghoul King.

 

As the Corpse Mound disgorged zombies to further challenge the crew, Straxius countered spells thrown by the Ghoul King, until the undead leader dimensioned door to a safer haven within the ship.

 

Though they lost some crew, they were eventually triumphant over the undead crew of Boccob’s Barge. Unfortunately, the ship itself was a total loss, so they looted everything they could from Straxius’s old ship, then scuttled her. There was no sign of the Ghoul King, yet curiously, he left behind all of his accumulated treasure, including Hrothgar the Penitent’s skull; the last piece of the Wand of Orcus. Sumner discovered the skull by licking the Ghoul King’s collection until he tasted the distinct taint of the Demon Prince of Undead.

 

The crew quickly decided to keep the pieces of the wand separate in the hopes the minions of Orcus would have more difficultly tracking them as they determined how best to dispose of the vile artifact. Meanwhile, they resume their flight to Patria sphere.

Weeks later, Sea of Stars arrived at her destination to find a world on fire… .

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

Of the games I regularly play, D&D has enough resources, both on- and off-line, that I can find pretty much whatever I’m looking for with a fairly quick Google search. It makes sense, though. D&D is one of the oldest RPGs and probably has the largest player base of any RPG in the world. Ever since I started using the Internet in the 1990s, I’ve been able to find online resources for D&D (and there certainly was no lack of printed resources back then).

I gotta give a shout-out to the fan efforts to support WEG’s D6 Star Wars RPG and the fan supporting Goodman Games’s Dungeon Crawl Classics. There’s a ton of high-quality resources online for both of those games

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

I started with Dungeons & Dragons and I always come back to Dungeons & Dragons. Since my first experience with the Moldvay (and Mentzer; we mixed and matched freely ’cause we didn’t know the difference) boxed sets back in 1982, I have played every edition released: D&D, AD&D, AD&D 2nd Edition, D&D 3rd edition, D&D 3.5, D&D 4th edition, and D&D 5th edition.

There have been other games, to be sure. We played a LOT of Paranoia when I was in school in Germany because it was quick and easy and we could play it during our lunch period. In the ’90s I played a LOT of West End Game’s Star Wars RPG because the friends I played with weren’t allowed to play D&D (the whole Satanic Panic thing). But through it all, there was always Dungeons & Dragons.

No matter how I feel about a particular edition, there’s a part of me that still wants to play D&D. I expect that won’t change, even if the edition I play and the current edition don’t always match up.

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

When I think of an RPG with inspiring interior art, I have to go back to the ’80s and AD&D 2nd Edition. It wasn’t as picture packed as a modern RPG and color was use sparingly, but to my young, teenaged imagination, just starting to explore worlds of imagination, nothing inspired me more than those full-page color plates by Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Keith Parkinson, and all the other talented artists TSR employed. More than the writing, it was the art in those books that inspired me.

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – What was your most impactful RPG session?

That’s a tough one. I’ve never had a profoundly emotional, gut-wrenching or eye-opening experience while playing an RPG. Still, I can think of two sessions where I either thought afterwards “That was awesome.” or remember that it must’ve been awesome.

It Must Have Been Awesome
My very first D&D game. Moldvay Basic Set and Keep on the Borderlands. After that first game, I had to have a copy for myself. I ended up only being able to find the Mentzer Expert Set, but my library had the Moldvay Basic Set (we didn’t understand the Moldvay/Mentzer revision difference at the time, and we didn’t care). Between me and my friends, we probably had that Basic Set checked out for the greater part of a year. I ended up with a Mentzer Basic Set and still didn’t care that it wasn’t the same “edition” as the Moldvay I’d fallen in love with. It was all the same game to me. We were all a little confused why there seemed to be two different versions and throwing AD&D into the mix added to that confusion. So, we just mix and matched to our hearts content and no game was broken, no RPG police came to confiscate our stuff (parents and Church leaders were another matter, however).

It was awesome
Ever played a Call of Cthulhu game run by a professional performer? I have. It. Was. Awesome.

What made it even more awesome is the game was an adaptation of a reality TV show called Mountain Monsters (airing on Destination America) about a group of Appalachian hunters and trappers intent on discovering the truth about cryptid sightings in Appalachia. It also happened to be the first time I’d ever played Call of Cthulhu. The following two years the same GM has run a follow-up game to that first session building on the events and it was an awesome trilogy of hillbilly horror.

Now that’s a phrase I never thought I’d say.

 

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#RPGaDAY – Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

This question can be answered by going back through this blog, but if you don’t want to do that: D&D, 5th edition. I’ve been running a Spelljammer campaign that’s coming up on it’s 26th fortnightly session. It’s taken longer than a year to get to 26 sessions, due to canceled games and hiatuses to play test convention-bound one-shots. I started the Spelljammer game in January of 2016, but it’s really a continuation of the 5th edition Hoard of the Dragon Queen campaign I ran from November 2014 to June 2015. I think it’s fair to say now that 5th edition is my favorite edition of D&D. I wasn’t able to say that about 4th edition or Pathfinder (the shine had worn off d20/3.X by the time the 3.5 revision of D&D was released).

I anticipate the Spelljammer game coming to a conclusion by the 30th session at the latest. No one knows what comes after that; we haven’t decided. Probably a smattering of other games to cleanse our palates before I launch another D&D campaign.

 

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

Do CRPGs count? Since I’m sitting at work as this is published, almost any tabletop RPG would do, but it all likelihood, if I wasn’t at work, I’d be playing Elder Scrolls Online. I have five characters there, though I tend to concentrate on one at a time.

Altmer Sorceress

 

Khajiit Nightblade

 

Argonian Dragonknight

 

Argonian Warden (Vampire)

 

Nord Warden (Werewolf)

Grizzled Adam is a play on Grizzly Adams, ’cause Wardens get a bear companion. Grizzled Adam also has a bear mount and a bear cub pet. I’m no longer enthused about playing him because he’s really a joke character and I tend to lose interest in them after a while.

Some of them don’t have titles because ESO Database hasn’t been updated to accept titles (or locations) from the Morrowind expansion yet.

“But CRPGs aren’t REAL RPGs! Don’t cop out!” — You might say.

*Exasperated Gasp* “Fine.” — My response.

If I could play ANY tabletop RPG right now instead of being at work, I think I’d like to play Rifts® for Savage Worlds. Rifts was one of those RPGs I always heard about growing up, but never actually saw in the wild, as it were. When it was submitted for an ENnie Award this year, I had a chance to look through the books and I really like what I saw. I’m fairly certain the Palladium version’s rules would not be to my liking, but I already know and like Savage Worlds and this looks right up my alley. Who doesn’t want to play a Dragon Glitter Boy?

 

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Gary Gygax Day

Today is Gary Gygax Day.

dd basic-boxThe influence he had on my life is difficult to quantify. I can pretty much attribute my interest in fantasy to a little game he created, Dungeons & Dragons. From that, sprang a love of writing. Through the games I played, I acquired the vast majority of my friends. From D&D, I cultivated a greater interest in science-fiction than I already had.

It’s not inaccurate to say with D&D and the influences and opportunities it brought, my life would be unrecognizable.

I had the great fortune of meeting him in 2008 (I think) at the last Gen Con he was able to attend. I don’t remember if I told him what a far-reaching influence his game had on my life, but I was sure to tell his son, Luke, whom I’ve gotten to know over the last several years. One of his other sons, Ernie, sold me my very first issue of Knights of the Dinner Table magazine (issue 10) in the ’90s in a game shop owned by Margaret Weis (co-author of many Dragonlance novels). Through that, I was introduced to the Blackburns, both very fine people in their own right.

And on it goes.

Thanks, Gary.

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5th Ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, session 25

After determining that they were, in fact, on in a pocket dimension, the crew resigned themselves to having to climb back down through the tower to return to the Rock of Bral with the shaft. They took a moment to prepare themselves, then re-entered the storage room at the top of the tower were Seravos laired. They found several valuable items to take with them, and then cast several invisibility spells before descending into the combat zone.

 

Undead continued to battle with Seravos’s golems, so the crew was able to pass most of the fighting unseen. When they reached the bottom floor, the dead apprentice at the desk in the foyer had become ghoul food, so they quietly evolved a plan to deal with them. Unfortunately, they were not mere carrion-eating ghouls as one might encounter in a cemetery and Rune’s attempt to turn them failed.

 

They beat down the tough ghoul and exited the tower, Arcane Locking the door on their way out. On the city streets, no one seemed aware of what transpired in Seravos’s tower. The crew returned to the Laughing Beholder for an evening of drinks and carousing before boarding Sea of Stars.

 

As they made preparations to leave, another Nkosi approached the ship, looking for Captain Ra-Jareez. Suli-ban, Ra-Jareez’s cousin, was greatly amused to hear of the Nkosi’s misfortune in losing his ship and informed Ra-Jaeerz he was there to bring him home. After a brief discussion with the crew of Sea of Stars, Ra-Jareez made his choice: he would stay with his friends on the Sea of Stars until their task was done.

 

Boccob’s Barge

They set off to sail to Patria sphere and Eorôe to fulfill their obligation to the giants there. As they pass by the Tears of Selune, they discovered they would not have to seek long for the skull to complete the Wand of Orcus. A familiar hammership approached, Boccob’s Barge, it’s crew of undead drawn to the nearly completed artifact.

 

They readied themselves for battle…

Since I know what’s coming next and the hour was growing late, I ended the session a little early. It was either that, or stop in the middle of a combat (which suuuucks). In two weeks, we’re going to play a Middle Earth adventure to help one of my players play test the adventure he’s running for Cubicle 7 at Gen Con. Two weeks after that is Gen Con. Then, on September 1st, “The Wand of Orcus” will continue. It’s all climax from here on out; the campaign is nearing its close. Will the crew of Sea of Stars be able to reclaim Boccob’s Barge from the Ghoul King and his minions? Will they be able to resist the temptations of a reassembled Wand of Orcus? Will they be able to destroy it before the Demon Prince of Undead comes to claim it?

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