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Friday, October 20, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Jungle Goodies: Treasures of Chult

You can buy this right here.

I was poking around on the DMs Guild and this one popped out at me. I love the cover! I took a look and saw that it had.. stuff... that I might be able to use in Tomb of Annihilation. It's only $2, so what the heck, right?

Short Version: I'd recommend this to anybody running Tomb of Annihilation or any jungle adventure. I really like it. If you want a massive pile of items, seeds and ideas, you most definitely want to buy this, no question! 

Pricing: This book is 20 pages long. How do you, the reader, feel about the price? Is $2 too low? DCC RPG adventures are about 20 pages long, are in black and white, and sell for $8. I, personally, think that Jungle Goodies could have been priced higher. $4? $5?

I know there's a ton of products out there on the DM Guild site, but generally it feels like people underestimate their own value.

Sideways: I put part of my pdf reader in the title image for a reason. This book is widescreen! It's not 8.5 x 11, it's sized similar to the 4e Dragon and Dungeon online magazines. On the one hand, it feels really wrong to me. I like books that are book-sized. On the other hand, it makes sense. Most of us are going to look at this on a computer, right?

They also included a print version, so you can do your thing.

The book is full of charts and lists. Here's a rundown of each one. I'm trying not to spoil too many, but I am spoiling some so you can get an idea of what's in here.

Animal Bits: There are some cool ideas in this one. Boots made of snakeskin that seems to shift when looked at. A black claw in a small glass dome! Some are a bit too vague for me.

Art Objects: Tremnendously useful! The values seem a bit high, but that's easil fixed. I've always found it very difficult to come up with art objects. LOVE this one: Inside a vase is studs of amber that contain ancient insects. ou could do tons of cool stuff with that one. Are they still alive? Did they suck the blood of some ancient entity (such as Ubtao) that might afford you magical properties? There's too more that I love, but I don't want to spoil too much.

Found in the Tavern: Some fun items in this. A dead, coiled snake that serves as a drink container. A giant flytrap in a bar that eats insects and rodents, keeping the place clean. Love that one!

Gifts from Nature: This one is really tremendous. Preparing the jungle for my campaign, I'm trying to come up with different fruits and foods for the group to find when foraging each day. I am going to use every single one of these!

Primitive Tools: I'm not sure how much I'd use these. I don't plan on using the grung or other more "civilized" places in Chult. I think my favorite tool is the bamboo blowpipe that shoots cactus spines.

Recovered from the Library: This stuff could be placed in a merchant prince library, the ruins of Mezro or Omu. These are a bit too vague for my liking.

Relics of a Lost Civilization: Some of these are good. I would have liked more concrete ties to Omu. I love the clay tablet with the star map, which seems like a great way to direct the heroes to the lost city of Omu. I also like the sarcophagus that might link to some other realm.

Storage Solutions: Man, these are tremendous! This is the kind of stuff I have a hard time coming up with. A hollowed-out iridescent beetle as a trinket box! A chest made from a preserved, hollowed-out mimic?! That's fantastic! I love this list, can't wait to use it. These are actually more closely tied to the actual Tomb of Annihilation book, really good stuff.

Weapons and Armor: Again, fantastic. These little details will set your campaign apart and make it feel special. A spear inlaid with thousands of petrified spiders?! I am surprised they didn't make a dinosaur skull helm. Maybe it was too obvious?

Weird Magic: More treasures! Some are a bit too vague to be useful. My favorite is the small ivory frog with emerald eyes that produce light similar to a torch.

Adventure Hooks: Tomb of Annihilation is so full of hooks and mini-adventures that I won't need this. I think they should have named the NPCs in this one to throw the DM a bone. The elderly wizard seeking the lost mage college can be linked directly to the college in Ruins of Mezro. I love the hook where a woman hires the heroes to go get her severed leg back from the beast that tore it off.

Hazards: Non-monster stuff to encounter in the jungle! Very, very useful. This one is very classic: A swift-moving stream that has stepping stones that you can use to cross. You can do a million fun things with this.

Locations: Woo! Check this out. A shrine made from the remains of a dragon turtle. Those who live in it are trying to animate the corpse! There's more really, really good ones, but I don't want to spoil it.

NPCs: Again, I wish they had named these people. Very good, though. I love the druid with the vine tattoos. I will try to work that in to my campaign.

Strange Creatures: These feel unnecessary. There's a billion monsters to use in tomb, and none of these really jump out at me. I do like the dragon hawk and the water elemental/beholder/thing.


I think that this is extremely useful and will really enhance your campaign. It's always better for the group to discover a spear with petrified spiders affixed to it rather than "a spear." It goes the extra mile and helps make the world feel fully-fleshed out, and should get the players imaginations revving up.

I would have preferred one more sentence of detail on many of the entries. I think that it is better to have too much information than not enough. I can toss aside the info I don't like but, if there's too little info, I'm stuck doing work that I am hoping this book will do for me.

I personally would have liked it if they directly tied more of the items to the stuff in Tomb of Annihilation. In almost every chart, there's one or two things screaming for it! it's up to the reader to connect the dots, though.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation 6 - Zombie Island

The new episode is up right here:

We just taped this on Saturday. It was a good session. The next one was great, IMO.

The plan for this episode was to have the group meet Aremag, the dragon turtle in an encounter right out of the Tomb book. Then they were going to go to zombie Island and explore a shrine of Kubazan, one of the nine trickster gods.

I took some rooms from Cellar of Death - traps that I really liked. Then the actual shrine was a way for me to start secretly "helping" the group survive the actual Tomb of the Nine Gods.

Secret Rule: I have a rule of thumb that I applied to this session. "Until it is said out loud at the table, it doesn't exist." So, by the time the group got to the shrine, I was well aware that this was taking too long, so I took the trap rooms out.

I do this all the time. I chuck stuff for a variety of reasons, usually because of time issues, or if it feels like it doesn't fit the moment. I'm pretty sure we've all had that feeling sometimes where you observe the mood of the group, and you can tell that if you use a certain encounter/monster/NPC right now, they'll love it. On other occasions, you look at what's ahead and you realize that the game is dragging a bit so you chuck it.

That's a tough tightrope to walk, because sometimes you're wrong! Once in awhile, I defy those instincts and it turns out the group loves the thing I was about to cut.

I remember running a DCC RPG adventure. There was a part in it where everyone was supposed to wear a paper mask in real life and roleplay some weird situation. I thought it was stupid and might make people feel self-conscious - we were playing in a game store, a public space. I didn't use it. When we got to that part, I mentioned it. The group unanimously groaned and wished I had kept it in!

You won't always make the right call, but in situations like that, you can fix the mistake. You can include it in a subsequent session. So in the end, it's not that a big a deal, and I think you should go with your instincts most of the time.

The Party

(Ryan) Mistletoe - Human Druid
(Garrett) Ramrod - Goliath Barbarian
(Annalise) Val - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Joe) Zavagor - Half-orc Warlock

The group sailed to Zombie Island. Along the way, Aremag demanded the toll.

Last time we had played, a pirate had bet Ramrod that he couldn't beat Aremag in a fight. Ramrod is very impulsive. He charges into everything. Planning this, I knew there was a chance he'd actually attack Aremag, and I planned accordingly. To my surprise, he didn't attack. You never know what a player will do!

The heroes got to Zombie Island. Their pirate friends went one way, and the group went another. The adventurers had heard of a froghemoth shrine that was on this island, and seeing how they travel with an albino froghemoth, their interest was piqued.

Quick Encounters: I had them spot a lone zombie up ahead. I used this a a tool to familiarize them with a thing I do to speed up encounters that are nonessential. I just ask, "What do you do?" They do it. They roll. The end. It's sort of like a cutscene in a telltale game, where you make a choice and then there's a different result if you pass/fail. So if a hero ran up and hacked it and missed, the zombie would attack them. If the hero hit, the zombie would explode or whatever I had in mind.

During the 6 years that I think of as "the grind", when I ran 2-3 sessions of D&D per week, I started to sharpen my sense of what's really important. What is it that makes a session boring? In my opinion, what makes a session boring is wasted time at the table. One such timewaster is non-essential encounters. A random encounter on a road is a waste of time unless it's a very fun and unique situation, or there are interesting stakes involved.

If you're walking on a road and three zombies lurch out of the forest, that's pretty boring. But, if there's a little kid in a tree and the three zombies are underneath the tree reaching for the kid, that's better. If the tree branch is breaking, that's IMO a worthy encounter. That's adventure, to me.

I know everybody has a different style. I know lots of groups who thoroughly enjoy an evening full of combat encounters. There is a lot of fun to be had in taking on a series of combats and trying to gain XP, get loot, and survive!

It is fun when you know you can't get a rest and you only have so many spells and hit points. It gets very thrilling when you're low on everything and one more tough creature comes at the group. That's fun! That's scary!

Long Sessions: In my experience, that kind of session requires a large chunk of time. I am done with 6 hour sessions of D&D. You don't need it! People have a hard time opening up their schedule to fit 6 hours in, and those 6 hour sessions can be a real drag. Boring! Excruciating, even! You look at the clock and you still have 3 more hours? If you're not into the scenario, then D&D stops being fun and starts to feel like a chore.

As a player, I can handle a handle 6 hour session if it's something that I consider relevant. If a DM wants to run Tomb of Horrors for me and a group, hell yes I'll sit there for 6 hours! I know that it's not going to be boring. It's going to be a harrowing, scary, thrilling, hilarious experience! I'll be excited to see what the next room is, and I'll be frantically trying to scope out tricks and traps in advance.

But when it's a session that drags or the DM clearly hasn't prepared enough for... I just want to go home.

To get a lot done in 2 hours, you need to trim all the BS. Everything needs to be streamlined and the group needs to run like a well-oiled machine. The two hours will fly by.

OK. Tangent over!

The Shrine of Kubazan: I stuck 10 zombies in front of the shrine. In my head, I was ready to be open to any clever idea the group had to get the zombies out of the way. I was also aware that Ramrod might charge them.

I had become tuned in to a potential issue in this campaign. Ramrod charges at everything, and it is going to get him killed! This is a conscious choice by the player, so I'm trying to find a balance between not being too harsh while being fair and realistic. If you charge 10 zombies, they're going to swarm you, right?

I honestly feel like if the rest of the group doesn't become prepared for Ramrod's foolhardiness, he's going to die. So I'm starting to place encounters of varying degrees of deadliness and giving them room to adjust.

Ramrod did charge these 10 zombies. The group was able to use gusts of wind to send the zombies tumbling down a hill, basically saving Ramrod from death. That was one test, one "easy mode" test where I gave them a lot of leeway to save him.

Then the group went into the shrine. I deleted the trap rooms and they went right to the shrine of Kubazan.

Preparing for the Tomb: I am really worried about the group going through the Tomb of the Nine Gods. They're going to die! If I was a player, I would die if I went through it. It's really deadly and there are things that do a lot of damage. 

What I'm going to do is sort of "preview" some of the rooms when I can fit it in a way that makes sense. This shrine of Kubazan is an altered version of the actual shrine of Kubazan in the tomb (on page 97, I believe). It involves making offerings and using a frog mask.

In this case, I took the death-trap Kubazan shrine in the tomb, and created a non-deadly version of it. Now the group is familiar with what they'll have to do when they get to page 97 much later on in the campaign, and if they think back to this, they'll have a lot of clues that will help them survive.

I plan on doing this a lot. I think it's a fair way to help them without flat-out cheating or altering the rooms to make them safer.

So the group makes offerings to Kubazan, and a "spirit shard" of Kubazan posses Hoppy, the group's froghemoth. He tells them about the trickster gods, Acererak, the puzzle cubes and the Tomb of the Nine Gods.

He gave them the boon of Kubazan, which will last for a few days. The heroes each have a 23 strength! I like the boons and I just thought it would be fun to sprinkle them through the city and jungle sections of the adventure.

On the way back to the pirate ship, the group heard screams. 30 zombies had surrounded two pirate NPCs, one of which is the group's friend, Punchin' Pearl Smitty. The idea here was to drive home the idea of the death curse. If Pearl dies here, she's dead, period. If the group can't get rid of the death curse, their friend cannot be brought back!

The group was on a cliff 30 feet above the zombie horde. What did Ramrod do? He jumped down into the horde! Now I was thinking.. he might die here for good. What can you do? Let's just play it out and see what happens. One pirate NPC died. Pearl went down and was dying.

Mistletoe climbed down and used gust of wind to make space, pushing zombies back. Val teleported into the horde to try to save Pearl. She was immediately dropped to 0 hit points!

Now I was looking at a potential TPK! Yikes. Hoppy the froghemoth jumped down and squashed 4 zombies.

The Indiana Jones Rule: Zavagor swung down on a rope, letting out a wave of flame as he swung by the horde. For this one, I used another of my little rules. "If it is awesome, it happens." Rolls are merely to determine how awesome it is.

So, in one round, he tied a rope around his waist, the other end around a tree, swung down on the rope and cast a spell. Deciding how far to bend the rules is very tricky, but players love it so much and it tends to electrify the game when done in moderation.

I want my game to be like Indiana Jones movies. If somebody does something Indiana Jones-y, I'm going to bend over backwards for them. Not all the time, but when it feels right.

A zombie clamped down on Mistletoe's ear. Zavagor's momentum swung him back. Mistletoe grabbed on and swung with Zavagor up to the safety of the cliff. The zombie bit off part of Mistletoe's ear. Later, the pirates made him a wooden peg-ear.

I allowed the group to plow through zombie squares. It happens in zombie movies, and the group has a 23 strength, so what the heck. Ramrod picked up Val and Pearl. He ran through the horde, taking quite a few attacks of opportunity. He was able to outrun the horde. Val rolled a natural 20 on her death save! She reached across and stabilized Pearl.

That's when the group realized that Hoppy was alone in the middle of the horde, getting swarmed! That's where we stopped.

Good session! The next one is another dinosaur race, where I tested my new rules. It went great!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DrivethruRPG Planescape - Planes of Chaos

You can buy this right here.

DrivethruRPG has been slowly rolling out new print versions of old D&D products. I always keep my eyes peeled for Planescape stuff. It's been painfully slow going, so far.

I saw that they actually took one of the old Planescape boxed sets and put it all in one giant book! I was very intrigued. Those old sets come with 5-6 booklets and around 6 poster maps.Would they include the maps? Would the page numbering be all weird?

I ordered it on Thursday, and it got here today (Tuesday). Very fast!

The boxed set is called Planes of Chaos. It details the chaotic-aligned planes like the Abyss, Limbo, Pandemonium, stuff like that. Way back when, I was a kid with very little money. I went to the store one day with enough cash to buy either Planes of Chaos, Planes of Conflict, or Planes of Law. I didn't even blink. I bought Planes of Law. I've always loved the idea of using lawful good entities as the antagonists. Traditional evil villains are boring to me.

I did eventually get Planes of Chaos, and it is very good.

So, how is it in book form? It's awesome. If you have any interest in this at all, buy it! It's $20! The original price of the boxed set was $30, if I remember correctly.

This book is huge! Bigger than the 5e PH!
One of my favorite things about these old Planescape books is that they're loaded with art. Tons and tons of DiTerlizzi stuff. It's mind-boggling.

A few months ago, I bought another DriveThruRPG Planescape book - Faces of Sigil. I didn't like the spine on that one. It just didn't look right. The spine on this one looks perfectly fine. It's got the Planescape font and everything.

I love this thing, but there are nits to pick. Again, this is the easiest thumbs up ever, but this book is not perfect. There's a few things to point out.

Border: These are made from scans of books. The original books had no border. For some reason, there's a white margin/border around most of the pages. Why? It looks crappy.

Contrast: The page scans are inconsistent. Some pages have very dark text, while others have very light text. I think this would have had to been fixed in the initial scanning phase. You can fix this in photoshop, but going page by page would be very tedious.

It's very noticeable, though. Some of the art is too faint. You can fix it in about 20 seconds in photoshop, so it's a bit of a bummer. As an example, here's one of the ones that are too dark/black:

Page Spreads: They put the poster maps on two-page spreads, which I found to be a pleasant surprise. But.. Because of the binding, the middle of the map is hard to see without tearing your book in half.

I don't really know what else they could have done, though. It must be expensive to print poster maps..? I would have been happy if they made poster maps of just the useful game stuff and stuck the black and white city art in the book, but I assume printing poster maps would make this much more expensive.

It is weird seeing a booklet back cover in the book.

Those poster maps came folded up in the original boxed set, so a scan will have creases. They did a pretty good job removing the crease lines, but some are still quite visible. This is another thing you can clear up in photoshop with the clone tool in about 5 minutes.

Surprise: For some reason, there's a Mystara hex map in the back of the book.

Mistake? It looks like they had a few pages to fill. Too bad they couldn't have put some cool obscure Planescape thing in there to fill up the space. Concept art, notes from the authors, old Planescape articles from Dragon Magazine, that kind of thing. They could have put that Monte Cook "Infernal Fortresses" article in here, as that directly expands on the Abyss material.


Aside from some ultimately minor presentation issues, this thing is awesome. The 5e DMG doesn't have a lot of info on the planes! This gives you a TON of material to use, complete with a big pile of adventure scenarios. There's a lot of new monsters, too. Really great book! Definitely check it out.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Argol's Comprehensive Guide to Infrastructure

You can buy Argol's Comprehensive Guide to Infrastructure right here.

Today we'll take a look at a DMs Guild product that focuses on building settlements and fortresses in a D&D campaign.

This is something I've been interested in from my firt campaign. One day, the group sat down and mapped out their sections of the keep they had decided to have built. This became Moonstone Keep, which still stands in my setting today.

In my current Planescape campaign, the heroes own three businesses, a mansion in Sigil and two mansions in the Elemental Plane of Earth. I came up with a vague system to track their income and expenses, but it' pretty shabby.

This book goes into great detail, outlining a very deep system that allows your group to grow a settlement or structure all the way through their adventuring careers. Many times, groups end up with lots of gold and nothing to do with it. This book gives them something very cool to put their wealth into.

The first question I had is: "Who's Argol?" The author told me that Argol is one of his D&D characters. I like when people present their own iconic D&D creations, that's one of the fun things about the DM's Guild.

There's a list of different types of settlements. As an example, a hamlet is 2 farms, 10 homes, 2-4 market stalls, 2 mines, and adequate defenses. This will house 40-80 citizens.

If you want to start building a place, you buy a plot of land. You pay for it using build points", an abstract way to select types of places you want to build.

There are level requirements mixed in. You must be 4th level to own a settlement, 8th level to run a hamlet (which costs 10,000 gp, aka 10 build points), and 18th level to run a large city (which would cost 55,000 gp).

It costs 1,000 gp for a build point. My character, Endarian Nimbus, has over 20,000 gp, so I could buy a big pile of these. He's 11th level, so he could get himself a village, which is 12,500 gp and requires 10th level.

The village has 350-1500 citizens, 85 homes, and each home has an average of 2 adults and 1 child.

You'll need to pick rulers. I imagine the group would have some NPC friends they could put in charge, or they themselves could do it. Your settlement could have barons, mayors, a senate, whatever they want.

Then we enter the construction phase, where you'll determine what you're making and how long it takes to get all of this built.

There's an optional rule for "town satisfaction". If the group hasn't paid for maintenance on the town, there's a chance it' a ghost town or overrun by bandits.

There are tons of details on how to handle merchants, guilds, and farms. It's got lists of types and the benefits of having them.

You can buy an "immense" plot of land. Building a megadungeon costs 450,000 gp! You're probably better off clearing out a dungeon and just taking it for yourself, right? This book seems to define a mega-dungeon as an underground dwarven fortress, not Undermountain.

The construction time on a mega-dungeon is 8 years! Building a mansion takes 1.5 years.

There's a page of things to add to your mansion, like a library, a greenhouse, or a wine cellar.

Hey... what's this?! "Adultery Based Entertainment"?? In my Planescape campaign, the characters own and operate three such establishments. The description goes over the benefits and elements involved with having these sorts of places in your settlement. Unfortunately, there's no amusing list of adult boutiques and services.

Towards the end of the book, there's a chart of influential events. Part of this system involves tracking your group's influence. This can go into the negatives. If the group hits -100 influence, you roll on the "banes" chart.

Banes include the murder of a visiting political figure, an outbreak of disease, a riot, or a natural disaster.

When the group hits +100 influence, they roll on the "boons" chart. Boons include baby boom, peace, gold rush, arcane wellspring (magic becomes abundant!), or you gain a wonder of the world.

It says that you roll on this chart whenever there is some kind of change, like an invasion or a political shift.


This book is very well-made. It looks very much like the Player's Handbook, right down to the charts and sidebars.

The system is very deep. It's not something you'd do in 5 minutes per session, its a system that is going to be a big part of the campaign. It's definitely not just an expansion of the downtime business rules.

I think this guide should have a one page summary or outline as to how the whole thing works, as I got a little confused about when to do things and how exactly I determine an influence score.

I love the events, they seem like they could drive a whole campaign.

Basically, if your group is into number crunching, they'll like this a lot. It seems like this type of campaign really isn't done nearly as much as it should be, so it's definitely worth checking out!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation 5 - The Bath House

Lots of stuff going on in Youtubeland!

You can watch this episode here:

I taped an episode of Ruins of Mezro with a new group of players. They were great! We're taping episode 2 tomorrow. I need to get one or two more pieces of art and then episode one will go up.

I also taped episode one of Return of the Lizard King with another group of new players. They also were tremendous - an entire group of spellcasters! It was terrifying. They were 1st level! Return of the Lizard King is broken up into four parts.

We played through the first one, and it is really, really good.It is formatted more like a Pathfinder adventure, which I love. It has couple of really cool NPCs in it, including the Queen of Creeping Vines.

This episode of Tomb was taped a couple of weeks ago. We're about to tape episodes 6-7 on Saturday, which hopefully will wrap up the Port Nyanzaru stuff and we can get into the Jungle of Chult. I love Port Nyanzaru and I have so many ideas for stuff to do that I hate to throw in the garbage. Plus, who knows when we'll even get to do dinosaur racing again, so I feel like we should do it as much as possible now before moving on.

I was excited about running this one, because I got to use the Bath House from Encounters in Port Nyanzaru. The bath house was my favorite scenario in that book. I changed it quite a bit to suit my goofy story, so it's a bit spoiler-y, but fairly different from what's in the book.

The heroes had won passes to the bath house. They'd have the place all to themselves.

The Party

(Ryan) Mistletoe - Human Druid
(Garrett) Ramrod - Goliath Barbarian
(Annalise) Val - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Joe) Zavagor - Half-orc Warlock

When they got there, they were informed that they'd need to leave their weapons in the locker room. They were issued bathing attire: old-timey bathing suits.

I did the bathing suits that way just to be on the safe side, as some people might not like detailed descriptions of banana hammocks or whatever. I'm trying to take the Larry David approach to these youtube games - tackle adult topics in a polite way. Like the episode of Seinfeld where they had the masturbation contest. The word "masturbation" was never uttered, but they still told the story. It's a fun creative challenge.

There are 4 baths in the bath house. Each grants a special effect, such as 10 temporary hit points and things like that. There's also magic juices that dole out the effect of potions! Potion of haste, potion of giant strength, all sorts of stuff.

There's a water elemental guarding this place. There's no running! If you move more than half your speed in a round, the water elemental comes after you.

My water elemental was a crabby water-dude who was in charge of making the juices. He was extremely intense about the "no running" thing. The group immediately began to troll him, moving 14.9 feet in a round, taking 5 rounds to walk 15 feet, all sorts of stuff. The water elemental was furious but was contractually obligated to do nothing until they broke the rules.

Zavagor drank a juice that gave him a 21 strength for an hour. Boom, he bulked up instantly, look at that striation! Pecs, chest, give it to us!

That's when the bad guys entered. While the adventurers were bathing, the Green Vipers broke in, went into the locker room and stole the group's two pieces of the dreamer's amulet. The vipers had obtained one piece on their own, so now there's only one piece left to be found.

Jim Crank hates Ramrod, so he jumped into Ramrod's pool and started stabbing away with his two poisoned daggers. Ramrod flipped out and started drowning him.

Deidre the Slinker popped out of the shadows. A session or two ago, Val had devastated her in a battle of wits with: "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"

Deidre had brought a list of witty rejoinders, so she started rattling them off. Val was in a salt bath. Val... right off the top of her head, responds to a jab with: "Don't be so salty."

The players began waving their arms in the air, which seems to be our group's way to declare verbal devastation.

Ledarius slid into the pool and got angry when the group wouldn't feed into his catchphrase. They are supposed to ask him: "What are you doing here?" so he can answer with a shrug, "Just vipin'".

Nara got in Mistletoe's hot tub and he successfully hit on her. They pretty much came to an agreement that they'd work together on this whole death curse thing.

Nara mentioned that agents of Cheliax are coming. Cheliax is from Pathfinder - it's a kingdom of devil worshipers. I plan on running a 5e version of Hell's Rebels at some point in in the future, so I'm starting to work that stuff in now.

In my campaign, the hell knights of Cheliax will take the place of the Red Wizards in Tomb of Annihilation. I have been working out their leader's voice and quirks. Right now, his name is Heinrich Von Pummel, but that might change.

As Zavagor tried to stop Ramrod from killing Jim Crank, who of course was rolling really low, Ladarius asked Val out on a date and she said yes! I'll have to work that in to one of the next two sessions.

That's where we stopped. The group had more or less trounced the Vipers and had their froghemoth, Hoppy blocking the exit. The group will likely get their pieces of the dreamer's amulet back next time.

Great session!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 64 - Tomb of Annihilation

Episode 64: In Guide We Trust
Today we have a special guest. It is Geoff Robinson, Anna's husband. This episode starts slow but gets really fun once they hit the jungle of Chult.

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Geoff) Chumba - Batiri Goblin

Last time, the hags visited the group at night again, pushing black sacks down their throat. We pick up during that creepy visit. Evelyn sees the hags. They think she's an inanimate object. She tells them not to touch the pies. She wakes up the group and the hags disappear.

The next day, Umbril, the half-orc woman they met last time, introduces the heroes to a goblin. That's Geoff's character, Chumba. He is Umbril's steward.

Umbril is a cleric of Torm and a member of the Order of the Gauntlet.

Chumba is afraid of dolls, so Evelyn and Simon freak him out. Simon tries to hug him and he flees. Simon chases him outside. Chumba collides with Dragonbait, the mute dino-man who communicates through odor.

Umbril says the group will be heading toward a river, and she buys some canoes.

During the last long rest, Strix lost a max hit point due to the death curse.

The group goes to Old City (a section of Port Nyanzaru with ziggurats and bamboo huts) and sees some hanging corpses attracting flies.

Evelyn busts out her D&D My Little Pony dice.

The group comes to executioner's run, where criminals are punished. A man is about to be thrown into a 20-foot-wide, 200-foot-long trench with dinosaurs. A man in the crowd cries out that the victim is innocent. In he goes. Raptors close in on him.

Diath throws some rocks at the raptors. He's drunk.

Strix dimension doors into the pit. Evelyn, Strix, Paultin and Chumba end up in the pit as the raptors chase the prisoner.

Strix casts silent image in front of Paultin. The image is of a big, scarier velociraptor. Evelyn uses magic to chat up the dinosaurs. She tries to make friends and distract them.

Suddenly, a horn and gong sounds all throughout the city. People begin to panic and run for the gates. Umbril says that undead must be attacking the other side of the city.

Dragonbait exudes a bunch of odors, and then indicates that the group should run into the jungle.

Paultin shocks the group when he casts fly and soars out of the pit. Nobody had any idea he could do that! This is another one of those shows where Nate is at 105%. He's becoming really fun to watch.

Everyone can fly except Diath. Strix wants to polymorph Diath into a vulture so he can fly, but Diath doesn't want that.

The group heads into the jungle. Things become more dense and Dragonbait has to use his sword to carve a path big enough for the canoes, which are being carried, to fit through.

They come to cliffs overlooking a great misty bay. Diath realizes that they are being followed... they smell death.

Suddenly, gray-skinned ghouls pile out of the forest and come at them in a wave of claws and teeth.
Anna's pony annihilation dice deliver with a natural 20 on initiative.

Chumba attacks and rolls a critical. Evelyn pummels the undead and then Diath draws Gutter and backstabs a ghoul, destroying it.

Paultin draws the sunsword! Nate points out that the chat had absolutely nothing to do with him using it. He destroys a ghoul with it.

A ghoul slashes Diath. Is he paralyzed from the claws? Yes!

Fight over. Diath shakes off the paralyzation and decides he hates Chult.

The ghouls had blue triangles on their foreheads. Strix knows that the triangle is the symbol of Ras Nsi, the evil warlord who waged war on Chult centuries ago. In his day, he used an army of undead to attack the city of Mezro.

It's getting dark out. Paultin summons the waffle hut for the group to cuddle in for the night. When the hut appears, a red silk robe also appears on Paultin.

The group worries that the hags will come back, but have no choice but to go to sleep. Evelyn does not sleep, because since she is a construct, she doesn't need sleep except to recharge spells.

The hags show up in spectral form  and ride the group... guh...Chris goes with a very explicit description. The hags slice open Diath, Paultin and Strix from chest to groin. They pull out the sack sand retrieve a maggot-like worms that are 5 feet long. Soul larvae!?

Soul larvae from the Savage Tide adventure path
The larvae are placed in each hero's chest cavity and sewn back up.

We learn that Diath, Paultin and Strix now each have a second soul - an evil soul locked in their bodies. If they were to die, the Soulmonger could take that soul instead. So... if Evelyn dies...? Makes me nervous.

That's where we stop!

No game next week - they're getting ready for TwitchCon. TwitchCon on Sunday, there will be a live Dice Camera Action game. Geoff will be there playing Chumba, and a second special guest.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Adventures in Eberron - The Rogue Card

We played some more Eberron yesterday. My sorcerer is now 11th level. I can cast disintegrate!

In this one, we threw caution to the wind and drew a bunch of cards from the deck of many things. Then, I came very, very close to dying and we ended up in a really bad spot at the end.

Last time, we were about to be killed when our fighter used one of his deck of many things effects to wish it away.

We woke up.. the elder brain was gone. We survived! We made our way of the place, and appeared back in the far realm-touched house. We got a couple of keys and opened a treasure vault.

My character now has over 20,000 gold! Maybe I should gamble it on something. That would be fun. Is there a casino in Sharn?

The whole point of this was to get a harp for an NPC ally. It turns out that she wanted to use it to kill our party fighter! The first time we drew from the deck, the fighter and I both drew the "rogue" card, which means an NPC out there has magically been compelled to try to destroy us.

So we're in our bar (which hasn't opened yet, but will soon) and she uses the harp to summon the ghost of her dad. The ghost tries to kill the fighter. Our wizard tackled the NPC and beat her with a quarterstaff until she was unconscious. The fighter began battling the ghost-thing.

I grabbed the harp, ran outside and flung into the air. Then I cast fireball on it. This damaged the harp and the ghost. I couldn't believe the harp was still intact!

I looked around. There's this warforged who has a hot dog cart that we've made friends with a while back. I stuck the harp in the boiling hot dog water and yelled for every that it was going to blow. Then I fireballed the cart and boom, the harp was destroyed. The ghost vanished.

From there, we had no idea what to do with this NPC. The magic of the card was continually going to compel her to try to kill the fighter. Only a wish spell or divine intervention could end the effect. We actually still had a wish from our previous draws, but I thought it was a waste of a wish.

We threw around a bunch of ideas and somehow we settled on using the deck of many things to try to get another wish. Our wizard, who is very level-headed, really hated the idea but we out-voted her.

So... I started out with wanting to draw just one card. I declared that I was "due" for a good one. I drew... the Fool. I lost XP and had to draw another card.

Guess what that card was? Rogue! I now had another NPC enemy out there in Eberron. It was hilarious and horrible.

The fighter decided to try. ROGUE! I swear! The deck was shuffled immensely! How is this possible?! Now the fighter has another secret enemy.

I can't remember who drew the next two, as it was utter chaos. But wither the fighter or I drew another card: ROGUE. ANOTHER ROGUE.

I think I drew again, desperate to dig us out of this hole as the wizard pointed out that she thought this was a terrible idea from the start.

I drew.... The Fool. Again! Lost XP, had to draw one more card. I drew: Fates.

The fates allows you to ask a question from an otherworldy entity and get an answer. I asked about removing the effect on our NPC friend and didn't learn too much except that one of my 'rogue' enemies is Corellon, god of the elves! Correllon wants to kill me!

Once we calmed down from all that stuff, we decided to finally bite on an adventure hook that had been dangled in front of us for a year. We had dinner with some government officials. This turned into the sidekick of the evil of Sharn crashing the party and having a meeting with us.

This is apparently one of the leaders of Daask
Here's the deal:
  • Our senator friend has contracted a rare illness.
  • The bad guys can cure her if we do something for them.
  • The back guys want to abduct an alchemist who is hiding out with Daask (I didn't read this link because I don't want spoilers, but I thought you might be interested).
  • Our job is to create a distraction so that the bad guys can abduct the alchemist.
We left and told them we'd need a few hours to decide. After much debate, we agreed that this was a set-up but that we should just go and see what happens. We also agreed that we were going to make ridiculous demands for compensation.

We went back. I demanded an airship. I had settle for repairing a crashed one. My character was an airship pilot in the Last War, so my character has a thing for airships. The wizard was granted access to the secret archives of Sharn. I don't remember what the fighter got.

There are a bunch of ways to get to the underground lair of House Daask. We used a door that ended up being guarded by a roper. That roper grabbed me and bit me, dropping me to about half my hit points in a few rounds. We killed it and went inside.

There was 8 teleporting hobgoblin monks in here. We nearly had a TPK. I actually went down and was given a potion of healing, so I currently have 7 hit points. We haven't even gotten to the place we're going yet! I still have spells, but one hit and I'm down! We don't have a healer and potions of healing are illegal in the city.

That's where we stopped! Was awesome. The deck adds so much to D&D, it's really fun. I love random effects. I know it's not for everybody, but if I'm a player, I always want those as a part of the game.