Gaming in Gothic Horror

Gothic Fiction

Obviously this topic is on my mind of late, as my upcoming Ravenloft game lurks ever present in the back of my mind. A horror is tough to run at a table, let alone going further down the niche of Gothic style horror. So what sets this style of play apart from your regular gaming campaign? What kind of work behind the scenes and on game night must you do to correctly set the tone? Well, here’s hoping some of the ideas I have for my upcoming Ravenloft run might assist you.

UNDERSTANDING GOTHIC HORROR

I think the first step for something like this is to understand just what Gothic horror represents as a genre. While all your regular horror tropes may appear in this subgenre, your slashers, beasts, death, and despair, a truly Gothic setting must also up the ante on pure tragedy. It’s villains are best when served up as either heroes gone bad or someone who gave into their craven desires and then strive for said desires, never to be sated. Ravenloft is filled to brim with horrifying figures of tragic circumstances. Strahd von Zarovich is the prime example, namely because so few do not know his legacy, he forever seeks someone to fill the place of his one true love whom he will never again be with. His jealousy and rage caused his downfall and he became the horror he is to this date.

I think one of the best things in the Curse of Strahd Adventure Path was the fact that the vampire lord was not idle, true villains of Gothic horror rarely are. They are not eveil lords content to sit back in their strongholds awaiting the PC’s to storm the gates after conquering their minions. In a Gothic setting if you draw the eye of the monster you seek, you will become wrapped in their games.

Gothic Fiction 02

Gothics are often referred to as Romances, and with good reason. Even if there is not the physical love between two or more people it is all about “romantic” ideals. Look to the typical hero of a Gothic tale. Victor Frankenstein can hardly be called a hero but his romantic notion to bring the dead back to life created his own horror on Earth. The best of heroes in a Gothic setting are typically less capable than you would see in other genres. The hero of Dracula was Professor Van Helsing, not the crossbow wielding adventurous guy you may have seen in other depictions, but instead an older gentleman with his own set of flaws. He doesn’t discern the true nature of the issue until it is too late for one life and he is not capable of saving all in his care as he drives them to track Dracula back to Transylvania. Heroes in these stories are rare, they are also often flawed.

Essentially the truly Gothic tale will be one where the heroes clutch and claw about, looking for the cause of the dismay and confusion that surrounds them, only to eventually have all the clues snap into place. The best realization of the horror that surrounds them then should be a simultaneous feeling of dread and despair, sometimes even for the monster they seek.

HOW TO BRING THAT TO THE TABLE

To give a Gothic game that truly dreamlike grandness it deserves can be hard, both the players and the GM often need to be invested in the story. This isn’t the type of game that lends itself to a “battle a week” format very well. There needs to be a leadup to that point, and it can often work best when the fight isn’t even entirely fair. Though I will say I have no intention of going full on Lovecraftian on them, if I wanted them to have no chance I’d just run a Call of Cthulhu based game.

I know I’m already urging my players to have connections to one another but I think I’m going to go one step further and have them, for whatever reasons their characters have, residents of the same small village. In this move I plan to start their troubles somewhat small, get them involved on a personal basis early on. Their characters will know, and presumably care, for every member in the village. I can’t go too much further into this though because some of my players actually read this stuff.

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Potential game night location

For some of the ambiance, I plan to incorporate music and sound into my game as much as possible, utilizing Battlebards as I’ve mentioned many times over the last few articles. Hopefully I can even dim the lights or something but I have learned that D&D by candlelight doesn’t work well, people just can’t see a damn thing. I’ll ask that phones be placed away from the table, I can’t stand people on their phones while I’m running a game.

In game I’ll be pulling creatures from the Children of the Mists supplement I described in my previous article a lot. Ravenloft can be a place of straightforward dangers like banditry and such, but I want my enemies to have dark purpose and I hope to convey it.

IN CONCLUSION

There are a ton of things I could throw onto this page about my plans but it might ruin some of what’s to come. I hope the guys go for it, I’m pretty excited. Stay tuned to the site because I’ll probably work up a few post game write ups, or at least let you know some of the things that have worked\not worked for me. If you have advice for a burgeoning Gothic Horror GM, let me know in the comments! I don’t profess to be an expert yet, this is my first run at it.

-Melvs

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5e Ravenloft Resources

RavenloftLogo

I’m gearing up for a Campaign set in the Ravenloft setting, so I’ve been scouring the DM’s Guild for a few resources to help out. Since I went ahead and purchased many of them sight unseen I thought I’d let you all know my thoughts. I will say before I even spell out details about each product that I suggest them all as a purchase.

NEW CLASSES, ARCHETYPES, & RACES

RVNLFT ACH 1

Author: Jeremy Forbing                     Price Point: $2.80

Ravenloft Archetypes I: Nightmares of Barovia

In this fiendish supplement the character choices presented typically take on a darker tone, as they are representative of character options for actual denizens of the Ravenloft setting. When Curse of Strahd hit the scene it was all about characters from Forgotten Realms being drawn into the Demiplane of Dread, not so here.

There are no new classes to speak of in this supplement but there is at least one new archetype for each of the core classes represented in the pages. Archetypes like the Oath of Blood for a Paladin striving to hold off their vampire nature after suffering the curse or the Reanimated archetype for a Sorcerer who has already died but now roams the plane as a risen magic user particularly stand out as unique to the setting.

There are three new races to choose from. The Vistani, bold choice to go full blooded, the Crag Dwarf, a version of the classic dwarf that has evolved a bit of dexterity not seen in its cousins, and the Dusk Elf, which represents more of a stylistic choice than a trait based one (thought it does offer access to some supplement specific feats).

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There isn’t a ton of art, but where there is it’s really good stuff.

Other items of interest in the supplement are new spells, feats, and even some monsters and NPCs for the GM of your game to play around with.

My review would be that the archetypes are strong, setting specific, choices. essentially they are worth the price of the book alone. The only thing I didn’t like about the book were the races, the author boldly went for something new rather than cribbing from the past but it just didn’t pan out. The remaining character options are great though!

RVNLFT ACH 2

Author: Jeremy Forbing                   Price Point $3.28 

Ravenloft Archetypes II: Core Domains Adventurer’s Guide

I liked the first foray into new Archetypes from Jeremy that I figured I’d pick this one up as well. I am not disappointed. Not only does this second helping include more in the way of character options for players but we get a healthy dose of setting lore for GMs to utilize.

Once again every character class gets a new Archetype to play around with. I especially love the Rulership Domain for Clerics, just thinking of playing as some zealot of the Lawgiver is giving me flashbacks to being an Inquisitor in an old Warhammer Dark Heresy RPG I played in. Other options added are more Races and subrace options, we finally see the Caliban which is represented as a variant of the half-orc here. The Ravenkin is a really neat idea too, no where near alike to any character class you’d normally play as. You are basically an intelligent, slightly larger, Raven. Crazy fun spellcaster class.

The new GM stuff is my favorite thing though. Love getting my hands on any details I can regarding the Core.

There are some redundancies in this book, as in things seen in the previous one. So keep that in mind.

HEROES OF MIST

Author: David “Jester” Gibson       Price Point: $3.00

Heroes of the Mists

Over the years I have turned to the website The Fraternity of Shadows often for game prep in Ravenloft, and often just to read some good gaming concepts. My buddy Jacob B. introduced me to the site when he was running Ravenloft for us in 4th Edition D&D because he was using a version of the 4th Edition Ravenloft Campaign Setting crafted by David “Jester” Gibson, the author of this entry into the DM’s Guild.

So, obviously this is a different version of the same thing the previous two items offered. Character options for the most part and a smattering of GM tools. If I were to choose between Heroes of the Mists and the Ravenloft Archetypes books I’d go with this product here, although it would be a tough choice. Jester, and the gang over at The Fraternity of Shadows, are simply more familiar to me and are a bit more closer to the original feel of Ravenloft.

The most glaring flaw is the lack of a table of contents but after reading through you get a great selection of Races, Class options, etc. but in this supplement they do a great job of adding in Backgrounds and even some setting specific items\magic items.

Towards the end of the pdf there is an excellent chapter to help a struggling GM run a game in Ravenloft. Teaching you the basics of mood and even adding in rules for Madness and Horror.

MONSTERS

Children of the Night

Authors: David “Jester” Gibson & Andrew “alhoon” Pavlides                                     Price Point: $3.00

Children of the Night

There’s only one supplement I felt I needed to grab for setting specific monsters and that was Children of the Night, also from our friends over at The Fraternity of Shadows and their publisher 5 Minute Workday Publishing.

Once again written by David “Jester” Gibbons, with help from another Fraternity member Andrew “alhoon” Pavlides, Children of the Night contains over 100 pages of just the right type of skin crawl inducing beasties you need to fuel your late night excursions into the Demiplane of Dread.

The vast majority of these monsters are updated versions of creatures found in the pages of Ravenloft supplements of old. The mechanics all appear to be well fleshed out for the new 5th edition, I can’t wait to throw some of these guys at my players.

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The artwork is simplistic but that actually adds to the feel of the manual, as if it were hand drawn by a chronicler of these creatures.

PREMADE ADVENTURES

SONG OF ARACOS

Author: Lucas Curell                         Price Point: $4.95

The Song of Aracos

*This review is lifted straight from my review of Curse of Strahd*

From Ember Design Studios LLC. author Lucas Curell, The Song of Aracos is considered to be a companion piece to Curse of Strahd that takes a paragraph from the introduction in CoS, written by Tracy Hickman, to heart…

 

 

“Strahd isn’t a villain who remains out of sight until the final scene. Far from it – he travels as he desires to any place in his realm or his castle, and (from his perspective) the more often he encounters the characters, the better. The characters can and should meet him multiple times before the final encounter…”

— Curse of Strahd pg 10

The adventure is a ghost story, written for five characters of 6th-level and centers on a child’s struggle to reunite with her mother. After an introductory piece of fiction, that perfectly fits the Ravenloft flair I love, the adventure starts right out of the gate with some action with an encounter that makes pulling the players into the story-line easy for the DM. From there the players are led down the rabbit hole of helping not only another man recently trapped in Strahd’s realm but a spirit in need of respite. The trouble is, Strahd is well aware of the character’s movements and of those who seek their aid, and he is not one to lay dormant as the playthings in his interest make their moves.

Curell weaves elements of the main Adventure Path into his adventure with deftness, you’ll never feel that your playing through something not of WotC’s make. He even includes the randomization of the Taroka Deck. The setting, and NPCs involved all fit perfectly with Strahd just as terrifying as ever. Adding in a win and lose circumstance for the players matches up well with the way such things are handled within the actual Adventure Path. I especially like the potential rewards that players can obtain from doing well.

In my opinion this is a must have for anyone planning to run Curse of Strahd for their table, though it can be used as a stand alone adventure. Honestly, it’s a perfect example of what a great idea it was for Wizards of the Coast to open up their content for talented creators through the Dungeon Master’s Guild. Head on over and pick it up!

Rats in Street

Author: Lucas Curell                             Price Point: $4.95

Rats in the Street (5e)

Rats in the Streets is the newest offering from Ember Designs Studios for a party of adventurer’s of 3rd level. I loved The Song of Aracos so much I had to get my hands on it. After paging through it I think it will make a great side quest for one of the game nights in our Ravenloft Campaign.

While mostly an urban adventure, with much less stress on the horror elements present in Song, we do still have some of the trappings of Ravenloft. Namely in the lead villain’s cursed nature.

The fact I plan to use Rat’s in the Street for Ravenloft goes a long way in showing its versatility as an adventure for your table. This is a great little urban crawl for any group that gives them a satisfying romp against a gang of criminals terrorizing the streets.

By the time my table gets here they might actually welcome something a bit more straight-forward as a fight against a group of street toughs. Though, there are plenty of fun surprises in store for them too.

Scrupple

 

So there you have it, those are the items I picked up to help me out. Plus, I plan to utilize Battlebards heavily now that I have a hang of their site. Not sure what I’m talking about when I reference Battlebards? See my recent review.

 

Fresh to War: Uboxing the Warmachine New Releases for August 2016

The third edition of Warmachine & Hordes has been upon us for some time now. I detailed a few of the new Starter boxes, along with their faction decks and even the newest editions of the core rulebooks, back in early July. I got a chance to sit in on the Gen Con panel and it was plain to see, Privateer Press is armed to move forward with their wildly successful product lines.

Fresh from the product line I was greeted with a bevy of new models this week, all August releases, for the Cryx and Cygnar factions! Let’s do a little unboxing shall we?

CYGNAR
BLACK 13TH STRIKE FORCE UNIT – RESCULPT 

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Available as of 08/10/2016 
MP $21.99

Up first I’ll detail the resculpt of the ever popular Black 13th Strike Force. Now, I’m not a Cygnar guy but I’ve seen requests for years to resculpt these guys, essentially the major complaint has always been that they were dwarfed by other gun mages in the game. Chances are I’m not informing any Cygnar fans about the need for the resculpt, and you guy have to love being heard. The resculpt came out great! Ryan, Lynch, and Watts look fantastic and are ready as ever to die for the cause.

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Probably blasphemy but I love not having to glue a lot of pieces together. Very little flash to concern yourself with, excellent detail.

There are a lot of changes to the card for this unit, namely it is streamlined and many of the individual tactics for each member have been either removed or merged with the others. What you have now is a single coherent unit.

The whole unit gets:

  • Gunfighter
  • Officer (Lynch only)
  • Concentrated Fire
  • Prowl
  • Swift Hunter

Their Magelock Pistols, that count as magical weapons, get the following Attack Type options:

  • Black Penny
  • Brutal Damage
  • Snipe

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Sure some of the novelty of this group has disappeared, now that they no longer have individual specialties, but on the whole it is a much faster unit to play out. Now you don’t have to recall which ability went with which character. I’d prefer that, but then again at the table I’m still a novice.

CYGNAR
ARCANE TEMPEST RIFLEMAN SOLO

31127_ArcaneTempestRifleman_WEB

Available as of 8/10/2016 
MP $12.99

The Arcane Tempest Rifleman will be welcomed at any Cygnar table I’d imagine. As a Retribution guy I can attest that a Ghost Sniper or two finds its way into most of my armies and for a mere one extra point cost the Arcane Tempest Rifleman trumps Ghost Sniper every time. Having the Magelock Rifle grants him some actual attack options. Reposition beats out Swift Hunter, this guy comes with Arcane Precision to handle those stealthy punks. His weapon is a magical weapon too. Frankly, I’m jealous.

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The Rifleman comes with the following abilities:

  • Arcane Precision
  • Marksman
  • Resposition

Their Magelock Rifle, which counts as a magical weapon, gets the following Attack Type options:

  • Deadly Shot
  • Snipe
  • Ward Breaker

So no lie here, I’m really jealous. One extra point cost has this guy trouncing my Ghost Sniper. The front card stats are the same too, though Ghost Sniper does get Pathfinder I guess. Oh well, congrats Cygnar players!

CRYX
CARRION THRALLS

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Cryx has some nasty specimens eh?

Available as of 8/10/2016 
MP $44.99

I can’t come right out and say that these guys are going to cause a ton of fear in a Cryx player’s foes but they certainly make for one Hell of a jamming unit. They can cover large swaths of ground with high SPD stat and with a Reposition ability that has some serious length, they have the ability to swoop down on an unsuspecting solo only to move on and jam up their true target unit later.

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A lot of flash on the smaller pieces but the level of detail is just top notch. I really like the perched guy, very different from the rest so it makes for a great leader piece.

The unit size comes in either a group of six or a group of ten, and I’d say it yields a bit of a high point cost for what you get but I can imagine a few players that may like to throw this group out from time to time just to have something unique on the table.

The Carrion Thralls come with the following advantages:

  • Combined Attack
  • Flight
  • Undead

They also come with the following special abilities:

  • Finisher
  • Prowl
  • Reposition

CRYX
INFLICTOR*SEETHER HEAVY WARJACK KIT

Available as of 8/24/2016 
MP $34.99

With the onset of mk III we finally get an actual sculpt for the Inflictor it seems. I’m digging the look, wondering how far that stinger arm will stretch though. Might cause a bit of cluster on the battlefield.

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I’ve always enjoyed getting an actual how-to map for putting these types of models together. Never been the best at it, really wish some units came with instructions personally. There have been plenty of times I’ve given the wrong hand to one of my poor guys.

It’s fitting to place these two guys in a box together as choosing one over the other represents choosing one of two very different play styles. The Inflictor is a great unit to use if you need to protect your Warcaster from harm with its Shield Guard ability whereas the Seether is your standard rush and attack style crazoid. The lore even states that the Seether is basically uncontrollable, so that’s a fun image.

The Inflictor comes with the following special abilities:

  • Shield Guard
  • Critical Poison (on Stinger weapon)

The Seether comes with the following Special abilities:

  • Berserk
  • Countercharge
  • Uncontrollable Rage
  • Hard Head (Tusks Weapon)

This has been my first true unboxing for Privateer Press’ Warmachine line, so I hope I did the game some justice. Feel free to leave a comment if you feel i left some critical information out as I’m just getting used to this style of review. Be honest, I can take it! I want to bring you the best possible information I can. Thanks all!

-Melvs

 

BATTLEBARDS-PREMIER TABLETOP AUDIO & TOOLS FOR YOUR CAMPAIGNS

Battlebards

Over a year ago I had the chance to do a Q&A session with the team behind a little Kickstarter project trying to give us the auditory means to shape atmosphere at our gaming tables. Today the Battlebards website finds itself deep into its Beta launch with a slew of new options coming to the fore. Thus, though I’ve been using music and sound effects from the site ever since launch, I felt know was the perfect time to do a bit of a deep dive into the site and see just what new tools I can play around with.

Before I get into the music I wanted to give some props to the site’s blog (because of course I’d be interested in the blog portion of any site, even one dedicated to awesome musical additions to gaming). When crafting an article for the blog the site creators don’t simply note that a new track is available, or that an update has occurred. Instead the pieces are usually really engaging write-ups. Currently at the top of the page you’ll find a post that gives us insight into one of the composers used on the site. The composer is Stefan Totsev, who crafted the haunting\uplifting melody “Monks of the Sun God”. I love gaining insight into people’s backstories and this is just an excellent treat. Beyond that there are numerous mentions of new tracks, deals on the site, and even a few guest spots from other notables. Even if you aren’t a subscriber (yet), the blog has a lot going for it.

Store

Let’s get into the music though, shall we? When I backed the project I actually purchased a decent chunk of tunes but after actually paying attention to the store I now see that my library of nearly 200 tracks is a paltry sum. There are currently 871 tracks available for purchase individually or you can pick them up in bundled forms by choosing from 77 albums. The albums are broken down into categories so you can easily pinpoint what you might want. If you just want mood music (the arena I’ve been most successful in) simply do a store search for “Music” under Albums. If you’re a bit better about adding actual sound effects to your games you can grab from things like “NPC Scripts”, or “Sound Effects” (Shields breaking, bowstrings, sword clangs etc.).

One thing Battlebards is not is stingy with their sampling. To my knowledge you can listen through the entirety of an album before deciding to purchase it. You can hit play on anything you wish to sample and throughout your stay on the site the track(s) will play using an audio player that remains stationary on the bottom of the site, until you decide to try out another sound. I’ve been listening to the Underground Lake City album the entire time I’ve been writing this, I own one of the four tracks and want to know if I need more (I was running Out of the Abyss at one point, the track “Underground Lake City – Lightness Shores” was used often). If you listen long enough you’ll notice the phrase “Battlebards dot com” being intermittently cropping up to break the immersion, can’t have you just playing from the site for game night eh?

Sample

I will say that the ease in which you can search for music in the store holds gives way to validating one of my frustrations with the site. In the section housing what you’ve purchased, the “Library” tab, you don’t get that same level of functionality. What I have on my end is a list of my 192 tracks, that appear to be sorted by artist, with no other method of sorting available. Granted, the idea is to download tracks into your own audio playing software, and I have done this, where you can sort with greater ease. It still bugged me that I couldn’t do a quick search for a specific track I wanted right then and there though. If you have a full albums of something you can go to the Albums tab where you can click on the “tracks” number to give an album breakdown, but I don’t think all of my tracks show up here. If I’m ever to make a playlist on the actual site to be used on their Soundboard, I’d really like to be able to break things down into smaller chunks.

Library

I keep wanting to click “Audio Type” to re-organize this list!

Speaking of the Soundboard, it is one of the newer aspects of the site. In this area you’ll be able to bring up a fully completed playlist to incorporate into one of you games. I played around with this a ton and this is exactly what I’ve been missing when trying to have something on hand to incorporate multiple sounds at a time in my games. You can pull up to two playlists up at a time, perhaps one for Music and Soundscapes while the second incorporates your favorite Sound Effects. Here’s another deal, in the Soundboard there’s a MUCH easier way of adding to a playlist than using the Your Playlist tab. I can simply add tracks to a playlist using the option on the left, and lo and behold they actually have it broken down exactly how I wanted it done in my library too. So while my ire with the library still stands it is greatly lessened by the ease in which I can utilize the soundboard. There are still some bugs here though as it appears one of my recently chosen tracks seems to have disappeared behind the “Play All” banner in the second column. This is going to be a huge boon to my audio usage at the table though.

Soundboard

What a few Playlists look like

Adding Soundboard Tracks

Clicking the “plus sign” to the left opens up your tracks

The last new item I wanted to talk about is the Mixer. This is something I’ve been very excited about since day one. I always pictured myself making some killer tracks on this thing and it seems I’m fully able to do so! That is…if I had a single skill in my body to do so. Seriously, I played around with this and it is apparent I’ve a long way to go in order to make use of it myself. That’s on me though, the mixer seems very intuitive. It is still in development so the ease of adding tracks can be tricky unless you know to actually create a mix first (would love to be able to play around with mixing then save a mix after, but that’s only a quibble). One of the mixes I did recently was adding a few extra sound effects to the Monsterscape track “Common Giant – Combat – Fighting the Hill Giant” It was a real simple mix that makes it sound as if an Arrow Barrage takes the giant down.

Mixer Demo

Obviously people are going to do far better than I at crafting some seriously awesome sounds with this mixer, even if I never do. Stands to be seen how exactly Battlebards allows the mixer to be used. Will we one day be able to import our own sounds and sell through the site? Either way, even if it is only ever for private use, I’m having a blast toying with it.

Frankly, I don’t know how much longer Battlebards will have the right to keep that word Beta on their site. Things are beginning to be very well polished over there. I imagine once they finalize the Mixer they are going to have to consider themselves fully fleshed out. I’ve had a blast on the site during this review and I think you will too. Signing up on the site is 100% free, i’d suggest anyone to so it if for no reason other than to listen to some of the cool works they have. Once signed up, you’ll probably want to buy a track or two and for that, you’re in luck.

There is currently a coupon code for some great free tracks on the Battlebards site, exclusively from The RPG Academy Network, to celebrate the upcoming release of an Album called “Pirates – And the Grand Ocean“, but you can’t get it right here sadly (don’t want to just throw a Coupon Code into the wilds of the net for easy Google searches!). Here’s what you need to do, check out one of many fine podcasts in the RPG Academy Network because this code is going to crop up in some, maybe all of their shows. I know for a fact that the newest line of podcast material from The RPG Academy called “Detention” (hosted by The Caleb G.) will house the code info soon, if not already.

Another way to get the code? Leave a comment below and I’ll get you the list of codes by another means!

The codes will get you the following discounts, they are good through the end of the year (Happy hunting!):

If you buy the $10 or $24 package, the first code gets you 1 free track
if you buy the $50 or $100 package, the second code gets you 5 free tracks
If you buy the $150 or $300 package, the third Code gets you 16 free tracks

You have to have a battle bards account to claim anything. it’s free to set up with an email

That’s all from me folks, let me know if you have any tidbits to share from your own Battlebards wanderings. Remember, comments will get you Codes!

-Melvs

P.S. Battlebards has also produced 16 videos thus far on their YouTube Channel, many of them go to great lengths to showcase how to use certain functions on their site. If you are having trouble with something they may have produced a video on it! I know I need to check out this video right here to learn more about mixing.

Meta Arcade Brings Tunnels & Trolls to the Small Screen

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Meta Arcade teamed with Tunnels and Trolls for a cool app I’ll explain in detail later

Tunnels and Trolls has the prestige of being the second tabletop roleplaying game to ever hit the scene, and is working on being something of a first adopter in the digital age by teaming with Meta Arcade and the Meta Arcade Adventures Platform. T&T is well known for its “choose your own adventure” games that first allowed players to run themselves through a solo adventure of their own making equipped with all the same rules you’d know from any tabletop rpg. Now Meta Arcade founder and CEO David Reid has created the bones of a platform where players can run through digital adventures that utilize the Tunnels and Trolls rule-set, bringing these adventures straight to your phones, tablets, and home computers.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Reid at Gen Con about the partnership and their plans going forward, and had a chance to test drive the game itself (more on that in a bit). His excitement for the project was palpable, in fact he grew up playing T&T, he explained plans to not only bring its users games to play but open up access for anyone to publish their own works for others. The adventures, or even campaigns, would then be for sale through the app allowing for creatives to market their own work. Players will also be able to keep the PCs they create, the treasures they earn throughout, and the levels they amass taking on adventure after adventure.

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Playing the demo at the Gen Con booth was excellent fun. I expected a strong game play experience but was even more impressed by the pure immersion I was allowed once I donned the headphones. The sound effects and music blended with the on screen game play excellently and I soon found myself rooting for my poor hapless PC as she attempted to survive the rigors of T&T’s Naked Doom. The adventure was grueling as my character attempted to traverse through a dungeon she was dropped into with nothing, not even a stitch of clothing, to protect her. I defeated a cave troll, survived a number of traps, and actually made it to the end on my first attempt! I made one last poor choice however as I attempted to take on the guards at the end. I ended up facing nine and for once even lucky dice rolls couldn’t save me.

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Dead. But hey, look at those adventure points! 3,399!

Once this app is widely available I have every intention of owning it, hopefully I can even craft an adventure or two myself. Be on the lookout for a followup as I make my attempts on the final app, I signed up for the beta after all.

About MetaArcade
MetaArcade, founded by industry veteran David Reid in 2016, is a Seattle area indie developer dedicated to empowering communities of creators through accessible self-
publishing platforms.
For more information, follow MetaArcade on Facebook and Twitter @MetaArcade, and visit www.metaarcade.com
About Flying Buffalo
Flying Buffalo, founded in 1970 and based in Scottsdale, AZ, stands amongst the industry’s most veteran publishers of tabletop games. Among its many notable series and titles are Tunnels & Trolls, Grimtooth’s Traps, Nuclear War, and Mercenaries, spies, and Private Eyes.

-Melvs

P.S. The fine folks at the Flying Buffalo\Meta Arcade booth were handing out some sweet swag, each person who test drove the app got to take home a copy of “Grimtina’s Guard” a solo adventure written by Ken St. Andre himself (pictured below). Here’s the deal, they also gave me five extra copies! First come, first served. Leave a message in the comments telling me either why you wish you could have gone to Gen Con or what your favorite part about it was and I’ll mail you a copy (we’ll work out the details somehow).

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The Dragon Sheath by Dog Might Games

I know I’m on a hiatus here but when a company like Dog Might Games offers up one of their gorgeous products for review, you take a bit of time to accommodate.

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Dog Might Games will tell you they make “Kick-ass gaming gear” and I’d be hard pressed to attempt to repudiate that claim. Their website is a cornucopia of luxurious wood-worked gaming related tools. From items as small as well crafted card stands to full on “Adventure Cases”. All of these items are carved from gorgeous selections of wood, an appear to be of the highest quality. You should really take the time to check out their site.

I’m not here to just talk about the company though, I’m here to talk Kickstarter! Right now Dog Might Games is running a Kickstarter for their Dragon Sheath product line. The Dragon Sheath is “A sculpted customizable carrying case for your gaming gear. Available in a variety of woods, colors, and interiors.”  Here’s the one they sent me.

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I was very impressed with the quality of craftsmanship first and foremost (being something of an amateur wood-worker myself). Excellent durability, sleek design, and really functional.

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Not to mention the magnets that hold the two pieces together are really strong, ensuring it won’t just fall apart loosing your dice all over the place.

I can see Th Dragon Sheath as a first step into an obsession here. Love the concept of mixing handcrafted tools like this into my gaming. Sure its a luxury item, but tabletop gaming has a pretty cost entry point, why not spruce up you tools?

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The current Kickstarter run only has 6 days left. Head on over and pick up one of these fantastic pieces!

THE DEETS!

The Dragon Sheath Kickstarter – FUNDED

Best Pledge Level for the Cash Strapped: $35 Classic – You get a great holder for dice with a simple, non-carved surface. Interior E is just a big area for dice.

My Favorite Pledge Level: $60 Custom – You choose your carved surface on the outside, what interior you’d like, and what stain finish. There are over 50 carvings to choose from and 13 interiors.

-Melvs

 

Out of the Abyss: Adventures Three & Four

ADVENTURE’S THREE & FOUR

underdark 01

SYNOPSIS:

The brave adventurers crawl through the darkness barely keeping ahead of their pursuers while battling the denizens of the Underdark’s nooks and crannies.

PREPARATION:

Monster tokens… HO BOY was this the chapter for Monster Tokens. These two adventures took place using the details laid out in Chapter 2 of Out of the Abyss so I went crazy and made Monster Tokens for anything they could potentially run into during their long trek through the Underdark facing random encounters.

Another item of prep was rolling randomly on the tables provided in Chapter 2 to set up the myriad of random places\creatures\events that cropped up. I accepted the fact that there was the potential for deviation here but for the most part things fell into line.

OTHER ITEMS OF PREP:

MAPS: I created a variety of maps for potential encounters. I also printed out a map for The Lost Tomb location since that was something I rolled randomly and they found.

  • Lost Tomb – Pulled from the book.
  • Camping Encounter 01 – A nice big map purple circles are giant Mushrooms
  • Camping Encounter 02 – A small map near a pool of fresh water
  • Random Encounter 01 – Never got to use this one but I like it a lot. Ground glows eerily light green. The square block is an old alter of sorts
  • Random Encounter 02 – Used this for the Rocktopus encounter. The craggy semicircles represent a valley they had to go through
  • Dark Lake Encounter 01 – Characters would have been in a boat for this one. Circles are pillars under the water

THE GAME:

THE PLAYERS:

Solaris – Half-Elven Bard.

Hunar Brawnanvil – Dwarven Cleric, Brother of Rurick, from Mithral Hall

Rurick Brawnanvil – Dwarven Barbarian, Brother of Hunar, from Mithral Hall

Ander – Half-Elven Paladin, Spent some time in the Underdark before his capture. Wielder of Dawnbringer

Corbin Honeyhump – Half-Elven Sorcerer, Has sworn revenge on Ilvara for her role in the deaths of Tosy & Turvy

NOTABLE NPCS:

COHORTS

BUPPIDO – Derro. Surprisingly affable.
PRINCE DERENDIL – Quaggoth who claims to truly be a cursed elven prince.
ELDETH FELDRUN – Shield Dwarf from Gaultlgrym. Heroic to a fault. Willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the group.
JIMJAR – Taking all in stride this Deep Gnome is also a compulsive gambler. Even when there’s nothing to gamble.
SARITH KZEKARIT – A drow imprisoned for the murder of another drow. Though he claims no memory of it.
SHUUSHAR THE AWAKENED – A Kuo-toa pacifist. He hopes to one day spread his message to others of his kind.
STOOL aka (“TimTum”) – A childlike Mychonid Sprout. Bonded from day one to Rurick
DAWNBRINGER – Sentient Longsword, was locked away for ages. Fears the dark, wishes only to be brought out and to shine a light against it’s enemies. She has now bonded to Ander.

ENEMIES

The Pursuit Party:

ILVARA MIZZRYM – Drow Priestess of Lloth. Recently imprisoned the PCs and their Cohorts with intention to turn them into slaves. Now she hunts them all across the Underdaaarrrrrk! (“I’ll get you!”).
ASHA VANDREE – Junior Preistess of Lloth.
SHOOR VANDREE – Drow Elite, current lover to Ilvara.
JORLAN DUSKRYN – Drow Elite, spurned lover to Ilvara. Assited in the PC’s escape to spite Ilvara.

OTHERS

Runnar Haftholder – Dwarven Scout, had just left the city of Sloobludop. Was convinced to return with the PC’s and NPC Cohorts in tow.

ADVENTURES THREE & FOUR:

Battlebards Cue: “Dark Elf Temple” by Mike Bridge

I combined these two adventures because they represent the long, 8 day, crawl through the Underdark the players had to accomplish as they proceeded to their next destination of Sloobludop, city of the Kuo-Toa (Look… I know Gary Gygax created the Kuo-Toa, but I’m not certain if he is the one to blame for their F$%*ing names. If he is… man is he lucky I have so much more to thank him for…).

Right from the start they realize that they are going to have to rely on someone very unreliable to guide them… the Drow, Sarith Kzekarit. He was the only one who truly knew his way to Dark Lake where Sloobludop lay. Shuushar could assist if they got near Dark Lake but he had no clue how to get there. The fact that their Drow captors quickly revealed that they were in pursuit ensured that the matter was quickly put to rest and they pushed on.

Funny thing about the depths of Fearun, you can never tell when it’s day or night. However, the heroes had to rest at some point. Beaten and bedraggled they prayed for a full rest. They were not so lucky. Only a matter of hours later they were beset by an Orcan..Orcian…ORCISH raiding party. The fight was fortunately brief but they were really starting to feel their wounds. They opted to move out rather than attempt to rest again, fearing the pursuing Drow. They opted for a normal speed of travel. They could have moved faster, with penalties to perception checks, or slower, to improve stealth and foraging, they were pretty good on supplies from when they luckily found their gear though.

Trudging through the next day they were relieved to encounter no beasts and to get a full rest beneath the protective domes of some giant shrooms. Three more days passed like this with only one brief encounter with some forward scouts from their pursuers and a cave-in that they barely survived. Sarith had a rare moment of pleasant chatter when he mentioned that the cave-in would at least slow down Ilvara and company.

Joy at that was short lived however when they happened upon the lair of a Rocktopus! It really wanted to have a few adventurers for dinner. Turns out things went the other way for the beastie.

On the sixth night all were awoken by a ruckus as they discovered a crazed Sarith treating Shuushar to a frenzied beating. They pulled the slavering drow off the poor wretched Kou-toa and restrained him. While most of the group tended to Shuushar Solaris worked up the nerve to delve into the deranged Drow’s mind. Casting Detect Thoughts he was immediately beset by waves of terror and madness that permeated every inch of his surface thoughts. Probing deeper, because Sarith had little willpower to resist anything at this point, Solaris began to feel the Drow’s connection to some great entity. An obsession to find & serve her. He could go no further though, the madness was too much.

Day seven of their trudge brought about something strange. They began to feel almost a whisper in their minds. Soon it began to take form. They discover they are hearing a mental communication. A feminine voice echoes in their mind claiming to be lost and in need of rescue. Fearful of the dark. The group was almost split in its decision of whether or not to follow the vague impressions being given to them of where to follow. Eventually they decided to trust that someone truly did need their aid and they followed. They happened upon an ornate door.

The players left the NPCs behind for this one, asking Derindel to keep a close eye on Sarith, thought the Drow had been silent for most the day. They entered the structure beyond the door. Upon entering they discovered a diorama depicting the fact that this was the tomb of a long dead sorcerer, Brysis Khaem. They continued searching, often being urged on by the mysterious voice. They found what appeared to be the room of the main Sarcophagi. It turned out to be a ruse however, as a curse burst forth while a Magic Mouth uttered a dire threat. Rurick found himself disadvantaged on Attack Rolls and Saving Throws as a result of failing the saving throw. They fought a group of Spectres in a room filled with small coffins, Rurick laboring under the effects of the curse.

After fighting the Spectres Rurick was done, simply raging at his misfortune. He wanted to leave. However, another of the adventurers spotted some rollers affixed to one of the smaller tombs and they pushed it aside revealing a final room in the tomb. Within it was the true resting place of Brysis Khaem, but the sorcerer had arisen once more in the dark form of a Wraith! A battle ensued, throughout the fight the voice continued to cry out that it was “Right here, come grab me! Please! I can help!”. 

It wasn’t until after the fight that the players discovered the source of the pleas for help. A long sword, finely crafted and apparently sentient. Her name was Dawnbringer. She immediately felt a kinship to the party’s Paladin, Ander. They were soon bonded.

Upon leaving the tomb, and discovering to their relief nothing amiss had occurred while they delved, they moved on. Near the end of their long day they discovered the lapping shore of Dark Lake. It’s size was immense, they knew of no way to cross it. However they did notice a small flicker of flame coming from a nearby cave. They decided to brave it.

Within the cave was a Dwarven scout by the name of Runnar Haftholder. Runnar had actually just come from Sloobudop, and had no desire to return. He quickly changed his mind however when told of the impending Drow slaver group heading this way. Grumbling about the crazy Kuo-toa he finally agreed to take the group on the boat he had “acquired” from the fish people.

They slept, knowing the next day they might at last be in some form of civilization, despite Runnar’s harsh words for Shuushar’s people.

POST GAME THOUGHTS:

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE DONE:

I fully believe I could have made the Underdark more interesting. I spent a lot of time prepping physical props for these games and less on just how I was going to package the oddity of the place to the group. I did better on their second night of Underdark crawlin’, especially with the Lost Tomb, but I could sense they were just ready to get to civilization. Though, Sloobludop was a terrible place anyway, so they weren’t all that excited to get there (more on that in the next write-up as I realize I’ve tipped my hand at being late to write these up).

In the Lost Tomb I forgot that the place was infested with an essence known to inhabit portions of the Underdark known as faerzress. This chaotic magic causes magic to react weirldy and can spawn rolls on the Wild Magic Surge table from the PHB. Really bummed I missed my chance at wielding that tool.

THINGS I LIKE/DISLIKE ABOUT OotA: Chapter Two

  • LIKES:
    • Chapter 2’s Random Generation tables and details are legit. They take care to have encounters based on the denizens of the deep and some interesting locales. Often times both.
    • Chapter 2 doesn’t only craft the encounters for the trip to Sloobludop (though that will almost always be the direction the characters will first head), it covers any trek through the Underdark, and some of these treks are a Month or more long in game time!
    • Random encounters aren’t always bad, plenty of desirable things can happen as well.
    • Careful attention was paid to include some BIG encounters as well, my players found the Lost Tomb and
  • DISLIKES:
    • There is a strong chance your players might tire of trudging through the Underdark and from the look of things, this is going to happen a lot. It is becoming apparent that it may take a lot of time for the players to be doing ANYTHING beyond struggling around and getting mixed up in things they probably don’t care about.
      • The trick I need to work on is figuring out how to get them more invested in things beyond survival alone.

Well, that’s it for these two adventures! Join me soon for Adventure 5! If you have any questions or wish for some embellishment on something I mentioned hit me up in the comments. Or on Twitter @SharnDM.

-Melvs

WotC & Drive Thru RPG Present Dungeon Masters Guild

In a huge move toward including its fan-base in the creative process Wizards of the Coast has apparently teamed with Drive Thru RPG to craft a website where fans can generate D&D content, and get paid for it. There’s obviously more to it and I’d try to explain it myself but my rep over at Wizards sent me a great breakdown so I’ll re-post it here.

Dungeons & Dragons is all about creativity. For more than 40 years, the folks who spent the bulk of their time creating amazing adventures, those noble Dungeon Masters, did not have a convenient outlet to share them with the gamers who weren’t sitting at their table. You either had to raise money to publish a physical book or zine on your own, or convince a publisher you had the chops. Now, the Dungeon Masters Guild puts the power to share that creativity firmly in the hands of the DM.

Dungeon Masters Guild

DMs Guild website, as well as browse submissions from some of gaming’s most esteemed designers.The Dungeon Masters Guild is a collaboration between Dungeons & Dragons and our friends at DriveThruRPG, and it is designed to support and reward you – whether you’re an experienced DM or just starting out. Today, you can upload your creations to the

For the first time ever, you’ll be able to self-publish material set in the Forgotten Realms using monsters, spells, characters, and locations previously unavailable. Set your side trek in Neverwinter or Baldur’s Gate, have your characters go toe-to-toe with the Xanathar, the beholder crime lord of Waterdeep, or fall in with some traitorous drow in Menzoberranzan. With some exceptions noted on the DMs Guild website, the Forgotten Realms is at your fingertips.

You can set whatever price you like for your creation; you can give your new monster away for free or charge a few gold coins. If you do decide to ask for money, you’ll get half of the revenue while DriveThruRPG and Dungeons & Dragons will split the other. We care about our creators and that’s why they get the biggest cut!

Creators can upload whatever kind of Forgotten Realms material they’d like to the Dungeon Masters Guild, but we’ll be featuring side treks, monsters, and backgrounds on the site. For now, the Guild is only accepting Forgotten Realms material that uses the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. For everything else, we’ve updated the Open Gaming License so that publishers can continue releasing their own material. Read more about the updated OGL here.

Head to dungeonmastersguild.com to see what’s available to download right now.

On Friday, January 15th starting at 10am PT, Mike Mearls and Chris Lindsay from the Dungeons & Dragons team will host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on the D&D sub-Reddit page to speak directly with the public on how the Dungeon Masters Guild works.

So there it is folks, it looks like WotC has finally updated their OGL. If you’re like me you’ll probably nose around this a bunch in the next few weeks. Sadly it looks to be Forgotten Realms only at this time (unless further delving proves otherwise) but this is really neat!

Let me know in the comments if you discover something really cool about this or if it isn’t as good as it seems!

-Melvs

City of Brass

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**SUBSCRIBE to City of Brass now! Use the coupon code ACADECON16 for 10% off!**

Move over Obsidian Portal! Just into the slow lane though, because you’re still cool, don’t completely get off the road or anything. City of Brass is just a touch cooler is all. Damn… now I’m worried I hurt Obsidian Portal’s feelings… ah, what can you do?

FireLogo_1200City of Brass is a web based application from Ember Design Studios LLC. dedicated to bringing the tools you need to the table electronically in order to run, or play, your game as efficiently as possible. Especially if you want to free up some table space by avoiding reams of paper. Those that run the game and those that play can use their City of Brass avatars to become members of their own affiliation, set in a world of their own creation (hosted on the site) if they like, to have everything they need in easy reach to get around the table and play. Early into my exploration for this review I knew some solid craft went into this product. I think you’ll not be disappointed.

ResidentOne of the first things you’ll do when signing onto City of Brass will be to create an avatar, or Resident as they are called, to represent yourself within the City. This is a fluff touch that you can be as creative with as you like, or simply use as a name to work with for your future affiliations with other Residents. True to form I went as far as to craft a descriptor for “Melvin Smif” as a “Bearded Wordsmith” and even a backstory of sorts for his place in the metropolis. I like this as it already goes to making me feel like I’m affiliated with all the other users of the site. Considering group collaboration is presented as a hallmark of CoB, anything that makes you feel more associated with the group as a whole is great.

Once you’ve crafted your avatar where you go next is up to you. Though, you might find yourself checking out the forum, known as the Symposium. There you’ll chat about potential game ideas with others, read news about updates to site, hit up the FAQs or Support areas, or just gab in the general area. Your typical forum but with a layout I find easy to use. It’s an excellent resource to get a grasp on some of the current goings on of the site and tips for handling the other features. It’s also a great place to gain some affiliates.

The meat of the site lies with the ability to craft your own page to house everything you’d need for your game table, all housed under the Campaign Manager. Many of the users on the site have gone to great lengths to feature their own home-brew worlds & games but you could certainly carve out details of an established campaign setting that are relevant to your group’s adventuring. There are a number of micro sites within the larger whole used to craft everything located in your Campaign Manager. These three Builder platforms are on the site under the Toolkit drop-down and are known as the Entity Builder, the World Builder, and the Story Builder.

The Entity Builder is where you build player characters (if you’re simply playing the game), npcs, and monsters. This isn’t a pure character generator, although many choices are auto-populated, this is a place where you will need to ensure certain modifiers are entered in the correct spots based on race and class. I found it a bit fiddly but was able to work my way through. Thankfully the site provides some great tutorials in the form of YouTube videos for any of the areas you might be struggling with. The end result is a solid character sheet, npc, or monster you can incorporate into a game. Currently anything you upload is available to you alone and to others you provide the url to, stock images and characters are currently in the realm of the admins, but there are steps being taken to add a “Community Content” portion to the site.

World Builder

The World Builder would be the next logical step for a GM, players tend to stick with just making a character. Here you can go into some great depth with world-craft. You can add a bevy of items here. Under the Atlas Entry you can add pictures of maps you’ve crafted and add explanations of the world they represent. Through Inhabitant you can help other explore the unique NPCs or various races that make up your populace. The choices are many, and varied. Religions & Deities, articles of Lore, various Planes of existence, etc. There are many worlds out there already that are open to public viewing, labeled as Districts in the City, and I’ve seen some really detailed worlds out there. Of course your world can be divided into public items and secret ones. There are just somethings your players don’t need to see yet.

Lastly we have the Story Builder. Once again I checked out the YouTube tutorial available on the site for this builder, though by now I’m getting the hang of everything pretty well as there’s a lot of similarities between the building engines (this is well executed). Through the Story Builder you can really craft a great adventure. Most of what you’ll do is add written content but you can pull in any stock pictures, creatures, and npcs that you might need from the website as a whole or from your own pool. Another nice feature is the Handouts portion that allows the players to see only the items placed there, blocking the rest of the adventure but allowing for them to know what they need.

After using all the builders to craft the various worlds, adventures, and entities populating the two you move things over to the Campaign Manager. Here you mash it all together into a fine working Campaign machine. You can showcase adventure logs, player characters, the world you’re operating in, etc. All the parts leading to a nicely crafted whole.

Before I scoot out, one thing I’d love to see are some character generators that are a bit better at filling in the details for you (for those systems where it’s legal to craft a character generator of course). I have to imagine things like that are in constant evolution though, and to be honest many of these systems have generators all over the net so you aren’t missing much.

I really enjoyed checking out City of Brass and I hope my words have peaked your interest. Though, if you want to know more it’s best you check it out yourself. There’s a free 30 day trial, so you can log in and tinker around. If you like what you see, sign on for another month, at only $3.00 a month, or at a discounted rate of $24.00 for an entire year.  Here’s the awesome news though. Readers of my blog are getting some love from the the ruling class within the City of Brass.

I hope you head on over and try it out, I know I’ve enjoyed my time in the City of Brass. I hope you will too. Also, look me up and add me as an Affiliate! Also, if you have any further questions you could always reach out to the creators on Twitter, on Facebook, Youtube, or check out their FAQs.

-Melvs

Out of the Abyss: Adventure Two

Travel-Settlement

ADVENTURE TWO

SYNOPSIS:

Last night’s game was a slug-fest. I mean, I knew it would be but I never imagined the fight would last the entire session! The guys went toe to toe with some of the nastiest denizens of Velkynvelve and scrapped out a win… as in they survived long enough to flee into the depths of the Underdark.

PREPARATION:

Thankfully my prep for this adventure was supplemented mostly by Adventure One’s prep. I already had all the monster tokens I needed for the fight and had printed off the bulk of the monster stats from my scanned MM pages. There were only a few other items of note.

OTHER ITEMS OF PREP:

  • I needed a battle map so I did what I typically do. I use the one inch by one inch excel sheet I made to craft one
    • Here’s my take on the ledge overlooking the drop-off where the lift runs. I made it a little bit larger than the map in the book dictates because things would have been incredibly crowded for the fight. If you take issue with my deviating from the written source material just remember that I typically don’t run pre-made games anyway.
  • I devised a roll system to determine how long the guys would have before the following things occurred. Essentially, at the start of the fight I rolled a d6 to see how many rounds it would take for the Vrock and the Chasme Demons to finish their little spar. After that I used a D4 to determine how many rounds until reinforcements and a D6 to see what kind of reinforcements would show.
    • D6 for what kind of Reinforcements
      • D1 – Ilvara, Asha, Shoor, and Jorlen Show up
      • D2-3 – Three Drow
      • D3-4 – Two Quaggoth
      • D6 – Two Drow & a Drow Elite
  • I also figured that for every person on the lift beyond 5 I would make it a 20% chance the lift would break under the additional strain. I told the guys it looked like it could fit 4 people comfortably but I knew it could handle the weight of 5 easily.
  • I decided it would take 8 rounds for the lift to get to the floor and return.

THE GAME:

THE PLAYERS:

  • Solaris – Half-Elven Bard
  • Hunar Brawnanvil – Dwarven Cleric
    • Brother of Rurick, from Mithral Hall
  • Rurick Brawnanvil – Dwarven Barbarian
    • Brother of Hunar, from Mithral Hall
  • Ander – Half-Elven Paladin
    • Spent some time in the Underdark before his capture
  • Corbin Honeyhump – Half-Elven Sorcerer
    • Has sworn revenge on Ilvara for her role in the deaths of Tosy & Turvy

ADVENTURE TWO:

Battlebards Cue: “Dark Elf Temple” by Mike Bridge

Not much to tell story wise, merely a play by play of action. The guys equipped themselves while the outpost continued to defend itself from the rampaging demons that flew above them. They attempted to deliberate and come up with a plan but their time was short as the Vrock fell from the air, crushing open the side of the stalactite they were taking refuge in. This left them fully open to the contingent of drow and quaggoth on the ledge near the lift. A battle began.

The first thing they did was ignore the stunned Vrock, and with good reason as the beast decimated a drow before it took back off into the air. The fight was a good one though and only two of the heroes were ever dropped, our paladin Ander and the Dwaven NPC Eldeth. Hunar was able to heal Ander, getting him back into the fight, and Edleth was stabilized last minute by Shuushar.

The PCs were not alone during the fight, the NPCs helped as well. Prince Derendil gave in fully to his quaggoth nature and dropped a number of enemies with assistance from Jimjar and Eldeth as well. Shushaar remained true to his pacifist nature, Buppido simply held back near Stool, Sarith spent most of the time muttering to himself and clutching his head, and Ront…well Ront decided to be a right bastard.

Ront

Ront… you’re a prick

At about the midpoint of the fight Ront fled directly to the lift and used the distraction everyone else was providing to escape to the floor below. Solaris attempted to stop him but was unable to battle against the orc’s brute strength. The players watched with no small measure of rage as the orc fled into the darkness below.

From there it was a matter of clearing out the enemies left over, doing a bit of searching, and sending a number of groups down the lift. Solaris was fortunate in finding something he thought odd on one of the Drow warriors. A lute imbued with magical power, quite the treasure for the Bard. As the last group was heading downward there was an attempt above to stop the lift. At least they’d learned one thing from Ront’s cowardly act, they know they could counteract the braking mechanism. Soon they were all fleeing into the Underdark wilds themselves.

POST GAME THOUGHTS:

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE DONE:

Can’t say I went in unprepared here. The fight was long but it went smoothly.

THINGS I LIKE/DISLIKE SO FAR ABOUT OOTA: Chapter One

  • LIKES:
    • The start off point is solid and different. Throws the players directly into survival mode.
    • A few solid ideas were given for potential escape points. The Jorlen concept is great and I love that even though the players may never know the full reason he’d be willing to release them they ensure the DM knows exactly why.
    • I really like the next part, Chapter 2, but I can’t really go into great detail about that.
  • DISLIKES:
    • The Players had very little chance of getting out of prison without a DM push for them. My group noticed Jorlen and pursued getting him on their side but not a lot of groups would think to do that.
    • The NPCs should come with stats. All it would have taken was one extra page in Appendix C.
    • Would have been nice to detail some daily routines in the Outpost.
    • Wizards of the Coast needs to give us the ability to purchase .pdfs of their Monster Manual at least. Having to choose to flip back and forth between two books for monster stats is terrible and I know for a fact their core books are already available for illegal download anyway so I really don’t grasp their fears in this arena (Barely a commentary on OotA and more of an “overall” complaint I know but… c’mon Wizards).