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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 59 - Storm King's Thunder

Episode 59 - Snowflakes in Kronenheim
Lots of pre-game notes!

I made a page for the backstories of the wafflecrew.

I signed up for Holly's patreon. She actually made a D&D adventure, which of course I grabbed and devoured right away.

Devastus: While making that page, I rewatched lots of old episodes. On episode 8, when Strix is meeting with Lady Wachter, Strix learns she is the daughter of a devil. Lady Wachter notes that her "devil bible study group" is reading The Grimoire of the Four Quarters, a book that details an entity known as Devastus, who led one of the "greatest diabolical cults in history." Devastus was torn apart by "heretics" and it sounds like he was broken into four pieces and scattered.

Who is Devastus? Did Chris make him or her or it up? I dug deep into google. The only thing I could find was in Dungeon Magazine #77, edited by one Chris Perkins. There is an adventure dealing with Keraptis, the villain from White Plume Mountain. At the end of it, the group might go to a plane called Devastus. It has some pillars/standing stones (like those found in every published adventure so far).

I have no idea what the deal is with this or why Chris even mentioned it at all. Is Devastus the father of Strix? Is there any connection to the plane of Devastus?

Lots of art and writing this week:
Last Name of Strix: Holly was asked on twitter: Is Strix's full name "Strix Strazni?" This question refers to the fact that this is the last name of her brother, Izek (the guy with the monster arm from Vallaki).

Her answer: "Not technically. That secret will be revealed soon."

The Waffle Crew

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Dani Hartel) Captain Xandalla - Elf Sorcerer, I think

Strix is driving a vistani wagon, cutting a path through the snow. The heroes have returned to Toril (the Forgotten Realms). Evelyn is sitting next to her.

The snow is high - it is up to the horse's stomach. There is a skeletal horse following them ridden by Sir Godfrey. Also following is Waffles the owlbear, who is now very old.

In the wagon is Diath, Paultin and Simon.

Strix starts humming and Evelyn joins in. They actually sing a song on the stream. It's very good!

We learn that someone named "Father Sunbright" sang the same song.The group is aghast that everyone in Evelyn's life has these ridiculously sunny names.

After 50 years as a lonesome spirit, Evelyn didn't realize that this was real. Now she's snapping out of her stupor.

There are two casks of wine in the wagon, which Paultin begins to drink from. Once the group left Barovia, Paultin felt a weight lifted from his shoulders. The wagon hits a bump and a bunch of stuff stashed in a weird spot in the carriage falls on them.

Among the detritus is an envelope with a seal that bears the emblem of Strahd. In it is a note: Chris posted it on twitter, I hope it is OK for me to repost here:

Chris mentions the narcissist's curse - Strahd cannot love anyone other than himself. I'm sure I'm not the only one here who learned that lesson the hard way.

The waffle crew have emerged in a different section of the realm. They are very far from Citadel Adbarr. The heroes were supposed to help the fake king, but methinks that guy is screwed.

They make camp. Evelyn realizes that Paultin's son is 50-something. They send Simon out for firewood and he comes back an hour later with a single pine cone.

Strix drinks from a flask of goat blood, which she now uses to remain eternally young. Waffles goes into the woods and comes back with blood on her. She hunts for her own food, now.

Strix speculates on the possibility of shoving Simon into the fire. Simon gives her the finger and she returns the gesture.

Here comes a flying ship... It's the airship from Storm King! It is kept aloft by a giant balloon.

It's got a draconic symbol on it and has ski runners on the bottom. It has mounted weapons: A harpoon and a heavy crossbow.

Dani's character is Captain Xandalla, who spots the group. Her crew is dressed in black and wearing masks. Sound like the Cult of the Dragon.

He first officer is Nyzroth. The crew is right out of Storm King's Thunder: Nyzroth, Brassik, Laz, Oriskus, Perella, Tralt, and Zalthia.

Diath realizes that they're a cult. The captain has a pet pseudodragon named Summerwise. The pseudodragon likes Paultin, who pets it.

The captain offers to give them a ride. Offer accepted!

Strix has a bunch of new gear and new clothes. She has three puppets, one that looks like each of the heroes.

Xandalla meets with the group in her cabin and explains that she's on a secret mission to the spine of the world. The cultist crew kind of came with the ship and are unaware of what her true goal is.

Xandalla asks the waffle crew to help her. She's a member of the Harpers, a secret organization of good guys. Her mission is to obtain... the Ring of Winter! It's in the hands of the bad guys. The ring is mentioned in Storm King and apparently is part of Tomb of Annihilation. Maybe Chris is using this to get the group involved in the new storyline.

Captain Xandalla actually mentions Artus Cimber. who is the last person known to have the ring. Artus is the star of the old novel The Ring of Winter. A relative of his is in Storm King.

Dani actually made models of the pseudodragon and the severed hand. Really awesome, especially the hand!

The group agrees to help her. The waffle crew is going to Kronenheim, a lair that not much is known about.

We learn that the year is 1490. The group came back to the time they left.

Chri mentions that Paultin had no drinks for the 50 years he spent as a lonesome spirit.

The heroes are given cabins to sleep in. They'll need to buddy up. The players amusingly declare they don't care who sleeps where. The arrangement ends up like this:
  • Strix and Diath: Strix sleeps in a circle of salt and screams in her sleep.
  • Paultin and Evelyn: Waffles squeezes in here, too. The cabin is transformed into a dutch oven.
We learn that the group did take the horse that was pulling the carriage along. Sir Godfrey is on board as well.

The next day, Strix notices that the ship's crew is acting shady.She spots one of them is talking into a sending stone, a device that allows you to communicate with someone else long distance.

The group informs the captain that treachery is afoot. She knows about this and she says that she knows who they're talking to. he doesn't tell the group. I is probably the legendary red dragon, Klauth, who is part of Storm King and appeared in one of the recent Acquisitions Inc games.

It is pointed out that Paultin can use his mandolin to make things invisible. Diath goes invisible to spy on the bad guys. He rolls well. The bad guys communicate this through the stone in draconic, which Diath doesn't speak.

Dath and the heroes go to tell Captain Xandalla, who is below decks talking to Gale, the air elemental that powers the ship. The heroes notice that Xandalla's skin has light scales. Sounds like she is a dragon blooded sorcerer, just like my Eberron character!

Xandalla is quite unimpressed with Diath's attempt to recall and relay draconic words and phrases. My favorite made-up word that Jared comes up with is "Letallica," who fans agree peaked with their fourth album.

The ship has drifted over a canyon of ice. As they look down, they spot a closed-off section. There are giant buildings built into the ice that protrude slightly. This is the frost giant village of Kronenheim.

As the ship descends, the adventurers see that the plaza of the town is full of dead giants and slain giant wolves.

The airship lands. Cautious investigation reveals that these corpses have been in the cold for some time. The snow has obliterated any tracks. All of the lodges have huge open doorways.

The wounds indicate that the corpses were torn apart by something much bigger than them. Sounds like a dragon. Maybe the white dragons they spotted at the start of this season.

Yup.. Nyzroth says he thinks that the giants were killed by a white dragon.

Sir Godfrey is going to watch the ship. Xandalla asks Summerwise to stay on the ship, along with waffles. I kind of wonder if this is a fateful decision.

The heroes enter a building and spot the tracks of a lone humanoid. This person made their way from the rift up into the lodge. The tracks are very recent.

The heroes come to a big hall. There's a massive chair that has skulls piled around it. The tracks lead to another area. The person seems to have climbed up a pillar.

The heroes ascend the pillar, which leads to the rafters. No more tracks. There's a huge horn here. It's 30-40 feet long. Evelyn yells "hello" in the horn. It echoes throughout Kronenheim.

Uh oh... Three voices, giant voices, ask each other what that noise is. A billowing curtain pulls away. It's a 30 foot tall frost giant with three heads! That's where we stop.

Chris says that next week is the finale of season 2.Chris loved this session and that Holly and Evelyn's song was a blessing - he's never ever had anything like that in his game before. Holly says they both were in choir - they wrote the song and the lyrics.

PAX West is coming up. The waffle crew will do a Q&A there.

Holly will be streaming while creating a list of items that Chris made. She's going to make a jar of tongues and Diath's magic sword, Gutter! She actually has already started:

That's the bottom of the hilt - the red gem is in its mouth.

Chris says that the next episode is called the Red, the White and the Crew.

Overall

Very good show! The players seemed to have put a lot of thought into how the 50 year gap affected their characters in a fun way, which was a relief for yours truly. 

Dani: Dani was really fun, probably one of my favorite guests so far. She had a cool character and she has a wry sense of humor that added a lot to the game.

Some of the guest stars have trouble adjusting to the group's style and hey, who can blame them? It's hard to hit the ground running with a new group. I think Dani watches the show, so she's totally familiar with everyone and was able to jump right in.

Frost Giants? Chris really threw me with Kronenheim. A white dragon killed the giants? Where is the dragon now? What's the deal with the 3-headed giant? Is it a titan? I feel like I should know some of this, but I am drawing a blank.

OK... A reader was nice enough to fill me in. Check out page 27 of Volo's Guide to Monsters. Sometimes, frost giants reach out to Vaprak, the god of trolls and ogres. Vaprak transforms them into an "everlasting one", a powerful outcast giant.

There are stats for the everlasting ones on page 148.

To become an everlasting one, the frost giant must eat a troll, "Only the boldest and most determined frost giants can finish such a gory feast." The giant gains the power of regeneration, and sometimes extra limbs or heads.  It can also rage... yikes.

Season 3: There will be a few weeks between seasons 2 and 3. They did a great job this season of keeping a weekly schedule, and I think it helped tremendously. Last week felt like a turning point for the show and it has led to a very palpable surge in popularity.

How Long is this Campaign? It was smart of Chris to slow down the leveling. It isn't noticeable, but means that the group will have more episodes to play around with before they hit those heady high levels and max out. Maybe Chris is shooting for 100 episodes total? 125?

He could be thinking of it in term of storylines. The crew could do Tomb of Annihilation and then whatever comes out after it.

I guess we'll see!

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