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TabletopProps.com is now live!  For all those who have followed my sporadic blog over the years, I beg you to go check out my new venture TabletopProps.com and sign up for the mailing list under the “Contact Us” page.

Read the “Our Vision” page to know what this is all about and get as excited as me and my group are about this new project.  Together, we can change the face of tabletop gaming!

Thanks in advance for your support.

~Jonathan

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Character Specific Phrases

Hey there!  Yeah, I know it’s been a while.  So what?

I’m one of those that gets an idea for D&D in just about anything I encounter.  The past couple years I’ve been listening to a LOT of audio books.  Many ideas flow from listening/reading (readening?) to great stories written by great authors and read by great narrators.  The most obvious is the importance of different voices for different characters, and staying consistent with those voices… but that’s another post entirely.

Lately I’ve been readening to the Wheel of Time series by Jordan/Sanderson.  This is about my fourth or fifth time through the series, but the first time since I’ve read the series finale.  Yes, it’s that good, but no, this isn’t a book report.

One of the things that’s captivated me most in this read through, is Jordan’s use of character specific phrases.  What do I mean?

  • Rand al’Thor – raised as a shepherd

“Sometimes, the hounds catch the wolf and wish they hadn’t. Sometimes, he turns on them, or waits in ambush. But first, the wolf has to run.”

  • Nynaeve al’Meara – Village “Wisdom”

“What he needs is what he always needed. Somebody to box his ears once a week on general principles and keep him on the straight and narrow”

  • Lan al’Mandragoran- raised as a warrior

“He was better. But he thought I was finished, with only one arm. He never understood. You surrender after you’re dead.”

  • Gaul – raised in the desert

“As well you try to understand the sun, Perrin. It simply is, and it is not to be understood. You cannot live without it, but it exacts a price. So with women.”

  • Siuan Sanche – rasied in a fishing village

“When there are fish heads and blood in the water, you don’t need to see the silverpike to know they are there.”

  • Matrim Cauthon – raised in a village, whose Dad was the best horse trader in the village

“A pig painted gold is still a pig.”

Image

These are very, very few examples of what I mean.  Each quote points to the background of the character voicing the statement.  So, how can we use this in D&D?  Well, first it shows the importance of a character background, but it also shows the importance of class choice and roleplaying.

Here’s a few quick examples of how this could work in game.

Rather than just simply stating “I roll insight,” Why not try roleplaying?

  • Fighter – “You speak very prettily, but your feet stand ready and your sword arm remains free.”
  • Wizard – “My training has taught me the value of inflection, friend, and your tongue betrays your words.”
  • Rogue – “A cat in a courtyard full of butterflies wouldn’t have eyes as shifty as yours.”
  • Cleric – “I’ve learned to trust silent whispers more than the boasting of fools.”

 

I could go on, but I’ll renew this blogging thing one step at a time.  Baby steps.

I would love to hear some of your quotes.  What other skills could be roleplayed in character?

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Heroic Tier recap

When I plan out a session, I type it up in an email to myself with links to the compendium so I can just use my tablet during play.  It’s nice, each creature in an encounter gets it’s own tab in a browser, so I can easily switch and quickly view them for defenses, hit points, attacks and such.  That said, I never planned on any of these emails being read by anybody but me.

I trust myself to add interest to an encounter during the night of play.  The map/terrain is completely on the fly.  Often, I will give each player a piece or two of terrain and tell them to build the scene while I load up the browser with all the creatures for that encounter.  I will almost always add some sort of fantastic terrain, whether it’s simply a slippery rock jutting from within a pool to an immobilizing patch of mud on a riverbank.  These elements are necessary within every encounter, but rarely ever planned.

 
So, what follows is an extremely sparse, unedited account of the latest sessions we’ve played in our heroic campaign to date.  The campaign theme is Western/Steampunk/D&D.  The Black Dragon won the war of centuries past and rules the land.  Dragonborn and draconians fight for Black, enslaving and erradicating all fey creatures.  Industry is on the rise and slowly destroying magic.  Large machines scour the land for resources, ravaging nature.  Train-tracks are slowly spreading in all directions, bringing the awful might of Black to every corner of the world.

IMG_20120401_200725

The campaign began with our party newly enslaved on a chain gang, tasked with boring a hole through a mountain for the train to pass through.  Large ants poured out of the mountain, attacking everything on sight.  The players used the confusion to escape, after chasing down every last slaver and slaughtering them.  One dragonborn slaver tried to escape with a crate containing a “Golden Clasp”.  They players chased him down, killed him and deduced the clasp was a sacred artifact of the Black Dragon.  Somehow, the artifact is being tracked and has caused the players a whole mess of trouble.  In their flight they came across a cave full of civilians, escaped from a town full of evil.  They decided to investigate the evil town… (sorry I didn’t have these encounters saved).

—–

make it to town just fine…

will save DC hard or gain a despair card… insight moderate dc to notice the despair

townsfolk look at them with suspicious, shifty eyes.  dogs roam the street, heads down, tails between their legs.

a fist fight breaks out in the street before them, a knife flashes and one falls down, slowly dying.  Nobody pays him any mind, if saved he gets up and walks away without thanks or even acknowledgement.

hookers call out to them with passionless pickups, show their wares with no abandon or shame

an out of tune piano plays an eerie, unmoving melody.  it seems to be a drinking song, but nobody sings along and the music lacks energy.  the music comes from inside a bar/brothel.  a drunken man staggers out of the bar, falls and scrapes his hand badly on a jutting nail.  gets up and walks away, blood dripping from his hand, without a sound.  the swinging doors reveal a busy establishment, nearly full tables, though no one is talking.  dark eyes look at the PC’s, then back to their drink.

a dwarven barkeeper calls out to them to come and drink freely, anything for some conversation or news of the outside world.  the dwarf shoves a patron out of the middle stool of five.  the patron falls over and blacks out.  another gets up and rifles through his pockets, then sits to resume his drink.  the unconscious man forgotten.

at one point the door opens, a man enter with weapons drawn, when their eyes lock upon the PC’s, 12 patrons stand up and all advance for attack.  the other patrons continue to drink, uncaring of the fight around them.

———————–
Encounter 1 – Bar Fight

12 Crazed Human Rabble – Effect on death (No Action): Roll a d20. On a 15 or higher, the rabble is instead of death, merely knocked prone.
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=3831

1 Mad Wraith – Invisible, attacks through the floor and walls until seen and attacked.  Hit or miss, it flees.  It will continue to come back until bloodied, at which point it flees completely.
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=325

1 Iron Circle Dark Adept – * add – the target gains 10 temporary hit points and stands up if prone
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5799

———————–

The dwarf closes the bar to clean. the patrons leave, unresponsive, uncaring.  The dwarf asks for help throwing the bodies into the street.

if asked “what’s going on here?” he tells them it’s best to wait until night falls, when the mysterious tower generally appears.

the tower is a pillar made of bones, rising to the skies from within the center of town.  it only appears within the shadow of moonlight.  it reeks of necrotic energy.  the town gathers around it in seeming worship, stretching out their hands toward it.  some fall over, feinting, others weep.

soon a large brute of a half-orc appears on a building top, clothed in a red robe.  he speaks to the group, welcoming them and their worship.

“tonight we gather to the feast, eager for the feed.  but i feel a disturbance.  we ask those who would feed to arise and cleanse from our midst the unbeliever, the uncleaned.  take them from us and make them one of us.”

at his words a mist begins to form, thick around the feet of the PC’s.  the mist begins to take shape and the players are attacked.

“behold, The Eaters have answered our prayer!”

Encounter 2

1 Moon Wraith
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2014

20 Wisp wraith – +2 to attacks, damage, and defenses while within 10 of the moon wraith
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2013

———————–

the crowd disapates during the fight, shortly afterword a fire starts in the town.

Skill Challenge – Stop the Fire

Perception check notices the fire, coming from The Dwarven Gullet

Perception check notices problems:
Fire hasn’t yet gotten to liquor behind bar
Screams of pain (2 girls and 1 patron) come from upstairs
Curtains are on fire

Perception check notices three things:
cart full of hay parked across the street
Stables behind bar… horse troff and manure
General store across street has bags of flour stacked outside

———————–
The fire begins to take on a life of its own…
If the skill challenge was successful, all creatures start with -25% HP.
Full health if challenge failed

Encounter 2

1 Young Blazewyrm
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=1442

2 Lesser Magma Elementals
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5462

8 Mane (described as smoke demons)
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5140

———————–

A child finds them after the battle.  With a finger pressed to her lips, she motions them to follow.  She leads them through twists and turns, disappears into a building, then into the kitchen, then down into the ash pit beneath the fireplace.  Beneath the town of Dusthaven is an entire city, long forgotten and abandoned.  The city is full of children…

—–

A child finds them after the battle.  With a giggle and finger pressed to her lips, she motions them to follow.  She leads them through twists and turns, disappears into a building, then into the kitchen, then down into the ash pit beneath the fireplace.  Beneath the town of Dusthaven is an entire city, long forgotten and abandoned.  The city is full of children… the girl finally reveals herself and it is obvious at this moment that she is a ghost.

She tells them it is mostly safe here, as long as Magdaline doesn’t hear them.

She saw them touch the pillar and is concerned, she tells them they should leave this town.
The pillar is bad, it makes you sad, then even sadness is gone.
She can see it both here… and there.
There, it glows a sickly green and lots of scary monsters lurk around it.

Other children start to appear slowly, some are quiet, others wander up and try to touch the PC’s, deciding whether they are alive or not.

The governer is a bad man, he removed the tounges of many children.

He always wear the hood up, but one boy saw his face… says it was like “ours” (the childrens) not yours (the PC’s).

More children appear…

I’ve seen the governer there too, he’s the only one from town that goes both places.

… but the souls of so many innocents have spawned some grief.

Encounter 1 – Griefmotes

2 (3?) x Gieifmote
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=3190

1 – Griefmote Cloud
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=3191

At the end of the encounter the children cheer, they laugh, they sing and dance… they make all sorts of noise.

Talking… ?

The noise has angered Magdaline, she comes with her posse.

Encounter 2 – Magdaline

Magdaline -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5450

Posse – 3 x Phantom Warrior
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6725

Magdaline dies in a flash of sickly green… the child says she’ll come back tomorrow night.  The bad ones always do.  The tower makes them.

——

They wake up groggy and not quite themselves (despair deck)

Little girl, Jaquita, Jackie for short explains that they could live here forever if they didn’t need to eat and drink.  But as it is, there is no water.

Players can get water running at the aqueduct, but it is overrun by slime and creatures.

The bad guy never comes during the day, but he’ll be back later tonight for the ritual again.  He usually comes down here after, but he’s “there”, not “here”.

water cave – inhabited by bullywugs

IMG_20120701_203447

8x croaker -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2823

3x champion -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6031

Encounter 2 -

pipes covered in slime, pool full of fish -

blue slime
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=817

4x archerfish
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5080

—–

The PC’s rush to leave the catacombs before the water fills it in.  Unfortunately, as they leave, a bullywug priest and his posse stops them.  The Priest has a bullywug mud lord next to him, and a guard of four Bullywug Croakers.  The priest bellows:

“You’ve destroyed our home and murdered our children.  Your evil ends today.  Your bodies shall writhe in the mud of our fallen kin!”

The Bullywug raises his hands and the mud around the PC’s feet begins to stir, then rises into a shambling form.  On his first turn the priest slaps his hand on the bullywug mud lords shoulder and then leaves.

Encounter 1
The water is slowly raising the entire time
Round 1 – begins with difficult terrain
Round 4 – All PC’s must save on Athletics DC 14 or be slowed until the end of their turn
Round 6 – Swimming

Bullywug Priest (attempts to leave after the raising the mud) -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6023

Mud Lord -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6019

Murk Wretch – (4 appear when the Mud Lord is bloodied)
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5410

Bullywug Mud Lord -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2824

Bullywug Croaker – (4 on first round)
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2823

Hazard – Rat Swarm
A horde of rats swim through the water, looking for escape.  They cling to and scratch anything in their path for 5 rounds.  PC’s may take countermeasures at the beginning of their turn to up their defenses.  If the countermeasure is a success, count that as a success for the skill challenge.  3 failures results in a disease-

Disease – Wererat Filth fever
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/disease.aspx?id=11

Encounter 2

The priest is there, ready to make a final stand.  He vows to either kill the PC’s, or die with the rest of his clansmen.

Bullywug Priest -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6023

Bullywug Chieftain -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6031

Bullywug Champion – (x2)
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6032

Bullywug Croaker – (x8)
Bullywug Croaker – (4 on first round)
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2823

—–

the players arrive back at the underground city to face the mayor, acerak.

acerak -

http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=3774

Acerak arrives to the area unseen by the players unless one of them happens to be touching the pillar.  Because of the Golden Clasp, Acerak knows the players are close and is expecting them.  Because he is wearing the Golden Medallion, he can see and interact in both the physical world and the shadowfell at the same time.

Jackie will alert the PC’s to Acerak’s presence, indicating that he is touching the pillar.

pillar of bone -

As long as a player leaves their hand touching the pillar, all around it (burst 10) becomes bathed in the shadowfell. Those outside the shadowfell aura can not see or interact with those within.

The Golden Medallion -

http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/item.aspx?id=1832

Perception 16 will notice a golden chain around Acerak’s neck holding a medallion with the same markings as the Golden Clasp.

Differing from it’s regular power, this necklace absorbs 3 HP per plus of this item from any healing surge spent while wearing it.  Half those HP are regained when you are reduced to 0 hit points or fewer.  If worn with any other piece of the Golden Set, instead receive all HP absorbed.  This power can only be used once per day and all HP are lost at the end of an extended rest.

Upon Acerak’s demise, players can witness this medallions power.  Acerak still drops to the ground, but immediately regains 24 HP upon reaching 0 or fewer HP.

golden clasp -

If worn during the battle, that player can see and interact in both the physical world and the shadowfell at the same time.

Wraith Figment -

http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=115915

2x Wraith Figment’s appear adjacent to the bone pillar any time a player places their hand upon it.  They always attempt to attack a character touching the pillar.  They can not see into the physical world.

Dragonborn Mercenary -

http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=115691

On the 4th round of combat, 4 dragonborn mercenaries arrive on the scene.  They can not see into the shadowfell.  They attack any player seen and attempt to knock them out and capture them.

The players may ignore them and rest within the shadowfell.  If they take an extended rest, they each gain a despair card.

———————-

Above ground, a dragon roars at their success or failure.  The dragon can not get to them, but remains above ground to attack on sight or revel in their torture.

Young black dragon -

http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=491

double HP.  +2 to all attacks and defenses.  increase all damage by one die type and 2 fixed points.

Dragonborn Mercenary x4 -

http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=115691

—–

Players awake in the night a number of times to the sound of the dragon roaring above ground.  They know he’s there and waiting for them.  They have a choice.  They can go and face him, or try to find Jackie’s hidden path.

Face the Dragon -

Encounter 1 – The dragon is pissed

dragon – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=492
dragonborn – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=3133

the townsfolk were told not to let the players leave

encounter 2 – townsfolk

soldiers (3) – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=157
constable – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6040
tiefling – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6042

OR —  The hidden pathway

Skill Challenge – Follow Jackie (through walls and such)
Failure = minor combat

Minor Combat – Centipede Burrow

Centipede (4) – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2831

Encounter 1 – Magdaline was told to not let them leave
+2 to all defenses, attacks, and damage

Magdaline -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5450

Posse – 3 x Phantom Warrior
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=6725

Skill Challenge –  Undergound river

2 failures = -2 penalty to all checks, each additional failure = a healing surge

Exit into a large pool with few rocks to stand upon -

Encounter 2 – Archerfish and a crocodile

Archerfish (4) – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5080

Crocodile – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=199

—–
after the battle, the lake is surrounded by hundreds of halfling savages… the are obviously cannibals, with bones adorning their clothing and such.

they try to tie up the players— skill challenge to remain unbound

then take them to the pits, where a cauldron is waiting for them — skill challenge to talk to leader

the leader wants to eat them all — skill challenge to remain uneaten

shortly after success or failure, the dragon arrives and he is pissed.
skill challenge success means halflings help and players are unbound
failure, players begin the fight bound and halflings retreat into the jungle

Encounter 2 – Dragon

IMG_20121111_212457

dragon – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=492
dragonborn – http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=3133

if the halflings help, then increase dragonborn brutes from 4 – 6

—–

The players begin seperated, having ran from the dragon in all directions.  Their first task is to regroup, but the halflings are scared and unhelpful… some even hope to trap and eat the singled out foe.

Skill Challenge, regroup.  Failure results in missing the first two rounds of combat in the next encounter.  Each failure beyond the initial two equals another missed round.

Each player comes across 5 minion halflings that hope to eat them, they must talk or fight their way out.  Failure results in a minor encounter.

Eventually, the players regroup near a large pool of cooled lava.  Disturbing it angers the lava demons who then attack relentlessly.

Encounter 1 – Lava demons

2 x Magma Claw
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=328

2 x Magma Hurler
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=329

2 x Tar Devil
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5804

Seeing the players vanquish the powerful demons, the halflings are more prone to help.  They motion for the players to follow, those who speak Giant can communicate.  The halflings request their aid… their chieftain has fallen.

The witch doctor hovers over the pale form of her fallen chieftain, she begs the players assistance.  They must travel through his dreams into the shadowfell to find and convince his spirit to return the the world of the living.

The chieftains dreams are full of nightmares, to reach the shadowfell they must vanquish his fears.

Encounter 2 – The Chieftains Dream

1 x Goblin Underboss
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=5148

2 x Barghest Savager
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2812

1 x Beholder Gauth
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=2817

Upon killing the beholder, it’s corpse explodes into a shadowy gate

—–

The players arrive in the shadowfell, though not fully.  They appear insubstantial, etheral, as if in a dream.

Their task is to find the chieftain, though he is not in plain sight.  It might be possible to track him, with the appropriate checks.

As they follow the tracks, the players hear the howling of beasts in the distance.  The howling seems to be getting closer… If the tracking is going well, the players encounter a pack of Famine Hounds and Deathdogs.  If the tracking is failing, they are ambushed.

Encounter One – Facing the Pack

IMG_20121202_200327

Famine Hounds x 4 – Damage remains the same (-necrotic), attacks and defenses go up by 2.
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=1957

Deathdog x 2 – Half HP, damage is 4d4 +4
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=1958

Weak, bloody, and tired, the players continue following the tracks.  Soon they come upon a choice.  The etheral, greenish images of a crowd of ghosts surrounding a large, solid, Pillar of Bone stands before them on the horizon.  Before them, and much closer, an inn with lanterns of black flame swinging in a non-existent breeze.

As they journey toward their choice, a brilliant flash of green catches their attention.  A ghost wanders toward the pillar and evaporates as it touch the pillar.  Their soul shoots off into the distance in a streaming green light .  A wight remains where the ghost once stood, then ventures off into the night.  Another ghost walks toward the pillar, another flash of green… a halfling can be seen waiting in the crowd.

Hopefully the players will run to help the ghosts.  They fight wights… lots of them.  During the fight, they can try to stop the ghosts from touching the pillar with successful skill checks.

The fight begins with 3 wights, 1d4 more arrive with every passing round… – 1 per successful skill check.  As they get overrun, the inn seems to be getting closer somehow.  Perhaps someone inside the Inn will hear their screams and come to their rescue.

IMG_20121202_212517

Wight x 3 (and then some) -
http://www.wizards.com/dndinsider/compendium/monster.aspx?id=455

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Epic (Nature) Game Board

Hopefully you’ve all checked out my how-to and made your own Epic Game Board, kicking your game up to 11.  That post instructed how to make the simple $10 option, using paint and poster board.  I recently made myself a new board for about $40, taking advantage of Michael’s Christmas decor and a half price poster frame.  Here’s what I made and how you can do it too.Image

You will need:

A frame.  I got mine at Michael’s for $15.  It measures 24″ x 36″, a good size game board.  Often you can find a cheaper option at thrift stores, but try to find a frame with plexiglass.

2x Moss matt.  Also at Michael’s, it’s meant for Christmas villages.  Half off at $6.50 each.  As a side note, this Christmas village section is a wonderland of scaled D&D terrain.  I found a pack of 24 trees for $10, a picket fence for $2, cobblestone roads, hedges, lakes… ’tis the season to shop for D&D terrain.

Spray adhesive.  I got mine at Home Depot for $10.  You could probably use glue, but I had this stuff already and it made this project a breeze.

Metallic Silver Sharpie.  Michael’s, $2.  You might think, why silver?  Because a black dry erase marker shows nicely on top of it.

Yard stick.  Really, get it anywhere.  Should cost you a couple bucks, no more.

The process:

Flip your frame on it’s face and take the back off.  Keep the frame face down.  Using the yard stick, place dots around the edges in 1″ increments on the back side of the plexiglass.  Align the yard stick with the dots and draw straight lines, eventually creating a grid.  I’ve found when drawing the 24″ lines, it’s best to use some sort of straight edge cut to 24″ so it fits inside the frame.  Go slowly for thick lines, quickly for thin.  I like the thick lines.  Imperfections in your lines are surprisingly unnoticeable once your grid is complete.

Image     Image     Image

Now that your grid is done, set it aside and grab the backing of the frame.  Place it face up on the table, and open up your moss flooring.  Notice the crumbs/flocking that falls everywhere out of the package.  Each sheet is 18″ x 39″.  Two sheets will give you the needed 36″ with an excess 15″.  Lay it out to get an idea of how it will fit.  The frame will cover the outer edges, so if it doesn’t quite fit perfectly, no big deal.  Spray the adhesive on half the backing and place a moss sheet down then smooth it out.  Get all the wrinkles and creases out now, you have about a minute before the adhesive dries completely.  Placing the second half requires a little more finess, just try to eliminate the seam in the middle where the two halves meet as much as possible.  Pretty simple right?  Almost done.  Cut off the excess using a knife and admire your work.  Now, notice the seam and all the tiny little areas where you can see the net backing peeking through the moss.  Take your knife and scrape the excess moss sheets to remove the flocking, making quite the mess.  Gather the moss flocking into a pile and don’t smoke it, even if it looks tempting.  Spray the adhesive on the seam and all the little imperfections, then sprinkle them with flocking.  Spread it over the adhesive and press it into place, rendering those imperfections unseen.

Place it all back together and you’re done!

18 inch sheet seam cut excess visible backing gather flocking up close

This Epic Game Board is perfect for use in all nature environments.  Completely dry-eraseable, it’s durable, measures a gargantuan 24″x36″, the frame holds dice, terrain stands easily on it, sticky tack is easily applied and easily removed, not to mention it looks AWESOME!  What do you think?

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We’re Back!

It’s been over a year since my last post.  I have no excuse.  Sorry.  Moving on.

The group has decided to reinstate the blog, this time mustering up enough help to keep me from getting burned out.  We will all be submitting posts from here on out.  Together, we hope to provide valuable insights into both running and playing D&D.  The adventure posts will continue as well, complete with encounters you can easily steal.

To introduce ourselves, we would each like to present a recap of the exploits in our epic campaign.  When last we left off (that is, the last you’ve heard), the group was off in search of Kas the Betrayer to try to recruit him into the battle against Vecna…

The DM’s Take

The group met up with Kas, he had gotten their messages to meet the group under the floating rock.  He challenged Asterion to a one-on-one duel to determine their worthiness of his assistance.  The fight was suitably Epic.  Both contestants stood upon a table and had to fight without letting their feet touch the ground.  Round one, the table was cleaved in two.  Both fighters kept their balance, kicked pieces into melee range, grabbed each other to keep from falling, jumped, slid… really, it was awesome.  Guess you had to be there.

Image

Unfortunately, Chi-Kal interfered and Kas refused to help… until the group mentioned the Sword.  The Sword of Kas.  The lust was easily seen in Kas’ eyes as he agreed to help in exchange for the sword.  In order for Kas to be well-played, I called in a friend, Justin.  He agreed to join our group for a month or so and play as Kas the Betrayer.  I filled him in on the story, he researched Kas as much as he could, and played his role quite well.

The sword happened to be located in the Forest of Know Trees (A D&D cartoon reference).  There, they found the forest horribly blighted by some sort of evil.  The group correctly assumed it was the swords influence on the land.  Within the blighted forest, the group found Baba Yaga.  She told them more than they needed to know, speaking in riddles and prophecies about their future.  To Akmenos she said to wade within Sea of Tears to find his army there; to Chi-Cal she said he could harness the power of a god if he could forgive a lich; to Asterion she said he would have to make a choice.

The sword was found deep beneath the forest floor and (surprise, surprise) The Betrayer immediately went into action.  I gave Kas solo based hit points and one additional action point to use in the encounter, then let Justin do his thing.  There were vicious plants around to attack both sides of the battle that I got to play.  Worse, the plant/minions exploded in a 10 square radius for HUGE damage.  As a DM, I mainly sat back and enjoyed the show.  It was fun and frustrating all at the same time.  Player vs. Player always gets heated.  Each person has reason to believe that their character is superior to any other… asking them to prove it is a different matter entirely, especially when it’s a fight to the death.  Though tension was high at the end of the night, the encounter ended as it should.  Kas was dead and the sword was in the hands of those who were off to defeat Vecna.  More importantly, the group was all smiles and laughter as we said goodbye to Kas/Justin.

Along their journey back to Zvomarana, they came once again upon the House of Black Lanterns and decided to take a rest…

Here’s where things get interesting.  I’ve had the idea to do a Tarantino-esque timeline within D&D for a while now.  We needed a couple more players and asking a newb to join up at level 25 is a little much.  So we began our heroic campaign… more on that in the days to come.

——-

AURIEL013

I will be posting as/about the characters Asterion and Jae W. Braeburn.

And, like everyone else, in general:

Kas met us, and after some diplomacy, agreed to a test of strength. Kas leapt upon a table his lieutenants had set for our meeting, and challenged the mightiest among us to confront him in honorable combat.

Asterion, being both hopelessly honorable and recklessly mighty, accepted. Kas, called betrayer, began the challenge by breaking the table in two, creating difficult terrain, so that neither combatant might shift.

Ch’Kal, in an ill-advised bout of unity, struck Kas with a DAZEing power. Asterion, forcing the rules of the challenge, laid hands on Kas

Virtue’s Touch (power, utility, daily : remove one condition from the target)

Asterion then apologized to Kas, insisting that such interference was beyond their competition, and equally despised!

Having said, Asterion then re-DAZEd Kas.

No other dared interfere as Kas and Asterion shattered the table upon which they fought.

They fought, Asterion Grabbing Kas, and Kas Dominating Asterion, until the Minotaur proved victorious.

((semi-detailed fencing-corridor challenge, available))

After the Challenge, Kas remained hesitant; however the first mention of the Sword brought him into full compliance. From there the party delved into the Forest of Know trees.

The poisoned wood was quickly/eventually navigated by our heroes, curing the blight upon the lands by removing the Vecna-infused sword.

Predictably, at the first moment the Sword was available, Kas, called Betrayer, challenged the three heroes.

WE

WON

Baba Yaga gave us a mighty Gift (L25 appropriate items) and we suffered and scratched our way out of her yet-blighted forest.

After a short rest, and a short effort we came upon the Inn of Black Lanterns

The inn which can only be found when one is lost…

——-

The Tiefling’s Take 

The name is Akmenos, played by one Dave Papajcik. I am a master of the battlefield, and a convincing slick talker. I am what the bodily form of Red’s head – Bard|Warlord is what I am now. Anyway, enough about me – let’s get to what you really want to hear.

We had managed to meet up with Kas, apparently receiving our summons. Kas felt the need to challenge our worthiness, as if our ability to summon and meet with him wasn’t enough. Chi-Kal’s silly interference, however, almost cost us our opportunity to work with him and use him, so only by mentioning his sword and our knowledge to find it were we able to recruit him to help us defeat Vecna. Conversely, Kas is also a crazy asshole who needs to be under strict supervision.

So we were off to the Forest of Know Trees – a place I, and probably the others, first improperly interpreted as “No Trees”, which flat-out confused me since how can you have a forest without any trees. But with some strain on my brain I managed to pull a fragment of memory out about the Forest of Know trees and was able to pass along the information about what this place was like. The trees fought against our presence and seemed to not want us to enter. Perhaps they sensed our intentions. No matter. We assumed the sword had corrupted the forest somehow and pressed onwards.

Within the forest, there was a clearing with a lake in which an island sat in the middle. On this island, there was a house of some sort and I must say I was indeed curious. Once we got to the island we were met by an old women named Baba Yaga. She told us much, though it was buried in riddles – some still unsolved. She told me, more or less, that my army awaits at the Sea of Tears. Though I know not what army she speaks of. She also warned us about the sword and trees, but as my story will come to tell, there wasn’t much option.

As we left and got closer to the sword, the corruption of the forest became worse, but we managed. At long last, we found it. Buried inside a large tree. Surrounded by stupid plants that exploded for huge damage over a huge range. Of course I tried to stay out of it, but it proved to be difficult. Sir Asshole, er, Kas slobbered over that sword and instantly disregarded everything else in order to grab the sword. Not totally unsurprising, but still disappointing because it meant he was not going to actually be of any real help to us.

The inevitable battle began and Kas eventually became his own third faction in it. Asterion took it upon himself to lock axe with Kas and rightfully so, since he was the only one capable of going toe to toe and absorbing the damage. Asterion managed to tell Kas “no” to having the sword and take it away from him on 3 occasions. In one of the efforts to keep it from him, it was given to Chi-Kal while he then turned into a swarm of butterflies making it impossible to grab. Kas managed to dominate Chi-Kal and force him back into humanoid form. A shame really… Chi-Kal’s willpower is almost as good as mine… oh well.

Sword in hand, we headed back to Baba Yaga who seemed to be in trouble once again. So we came in and threw the intruders into the lake and held them from going near the poor old woman. Once she was safe and sound, we left her to start work on repairing the damage to the forest. Zvormorana was calling us and we needed to kill Vecna, or as I call him – BitchWhore. I mean, c’mon, he has what is CLEARLY a feminine name, and I don’t know how many times I’ve said she instead of he because of it. Along the way, the House of Black Lanterns reappears with near perfect timing to help us out.

Though not too long into our resting there, Chi-Kal hears/senses (I’m still not quite sure what that bug-man does sometimes…) some kind of disturbance, and I convince the owner to relocate right next to this “disturbance”. What was outside that door was rather intriguing…

——-

The mental journal of Chi-Kal…

…A Thri-Kreen druid who spends a significant portion of the day as a swarm of countless glasswing butterflies.

We have protected the Raven Queen twice already, she gives commands and makes requests as if we are her servants and allies. She forgets our purpose can turn against her just as easily as it comes to her aid. On that day my thousand tongues will savor the blood of she who presumes to claim dominon over death.

We stand on the parapets of Zvormorana. Those standing beside us are servants of the Raven Queen, who corrupts the flow of souls to her own ends; our enemy any other morning. Today we fight like brothers to hold against the seething tide of corruption that blankets the earth around us. Within that tide is only the clanking of metal and creaking of leather. I hear not one heart beating in anticipation of battle, only Fear lies there now. Fear of their master drives them forward today, but the greater fear that corrupts their dimly-rememberd souls is the annihilating fear of the question ‘What comes after?’. So many who stand beside me fight with the same fear in their breast, I pity them.

We have come to treat with the walking corpse known as Kas. What little speck of self it has left wants nothing more than the destruction of Vecna. Kas can be a powerful weapon, but must be managed carefully. It calls itself Betrayer and demands honorable combat with one of our party, which among us will it be? There is no other choice, Asterion is our Champion in word and deed. Myself and Kas will come to blows only once, and it will be no duel. But I will not stand and watch as a mere attendant, I know The Betrayer will act according to its nature just as I know the pride, honor, and fury that pulse within Asterion’s heart will resent my doing what must be done, but we must hold the depths of our power in reserve for the inevitable.

After the battle Kas knows two things for certain: Asterion is not to be trifled with, and my thousand eyes are watching him for the nearest hint of betrayal. We will travel with it to the forest of Know Trees and reunite the Sword of Kas with its namesake, however temporarily. Arming Kas for the battle against Vecna is a dangerous game. All I see within the creature’s tormented mind

Corruption lies deep in the heart of the Forest of Know Trees, twisting the forest denizens themselves into a deadly weapon against us. A great grandfather of the forest tore itself from the earth and we had no choice but to reap it. As my selves battered against it I made short contact with its ancint slow mind, I felt its pain and saw the abomination Kas working in concert with my hungry wings to drain it of vitality, I could not help but question the futility of saving the world for life if such a mockery of life is allowed to exist. We came upon and took refuge with an ancient Baba who claimed deep and terrible knowledge, yet her portents were so absurd as to be laughable and I could hardly bother to commit her words to memory. Despite her unsound claims, the path to the heart of corruption she set us on proved true, and we found our way to the mortally wounded Know Tree Heart.

The Know Tree Heart had become irredemably corrupted, the Sword of Kas burrowing so deep within it that even its ancient children erupted fromt he ground as tortured burls and stood in our path. Their precious fragile lives, so ancient and yet still at the merest beginning of life, were crushed beneath our terrible purpose, but pain that rent through me  from their psychic cries of anguish will forever scar my soul. Did the abomination Kas hear their cries, I wonder? Does it remember enough of its former life to know empathy still?

We came upon the Know Tree Heart and, just as I feared, the Sword of Kas lay lodged in its dying flesh, surrounded by yet more of its corrupted children. The moment it was able, Kas once again fell to its nature and took up the accursed blade, turning it upon us who it had called “friend” not minutes before. The vile blade had empowered him far beyond the pathetic creature Asterion had fought in his “duel” and my thousand eyes searched only for weakness to exploit to the creature’s enevitable destruction. It was only later that I regretted our inability to turn such a weapon as Kas against Vecna. Many times Asterion was able to wrench the vicious blade from Kas’ hand, and each time it found its way to return. Knowing what must be done I took the blade into hand and spread it among my thousand selves, but as the blade and my form merged I found to my shock that a wretched mockery of life lay twisting within the dark iron heart of the blade itself! The wash of fear and hatred that flowed from the blade combined with it and Kas combined desire to be reunited shocked me so greatly as to stun me into inaction for the crucial seconds that allowed Kas to recover the blade.

Thankfully separating the Betrayer from its blade was sufficient to turn the tide of battle, though I hesitate to call being left in our current situation a victory. We leave the Forest of Know Trees cleansed of corruption and nearly empty handed. The vile consciousness that lies withing the Sword of Kas resists all kindness and logic, demanding only that we spill the blood of our brothers. I now carry this blade upon my back, its demanding whispers tugging at my mind and constantly reminding me of my failure. Returning to the baba’s hut we are quickly beset by agents of the Lich, no doubt tracking Kas and emboldened by the destruction of such a terrible enemy.

We rest and recuperate in the Inn of the Black Lantern. Akmenos is boisterously celebrating while Asterion finds his own comfort administering to his charge. The Lich Vecna has thrown so many obstacles in our path, does it even know of our existence?  It will not survive wronging me, if I do nothing else I will plunge the blade on my back into Vecna’s shiveled mockery of a heart.

—–

The other two, Samantha Umbra and Gashix are no longer with us.  We are joined by two newcomers though, Tal and Josh.  Their stories will be in a future post.

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It’s been a while…

Wow.  Life changes quickly.

You may have noticed I took a week off.  I got a pretty big promotion at my job, which is awesome.  Unfortunately, I’m now putting in about 12 hours a day when you factor in the commute.  As you can imagine, this has eaten into my D&D time quite a bit.

My daily routine of surfing the web for D&D content, commenting on blogs, planning future sessions, reading D&DI articles, and writing thought-provoking posts has admittedly slipped by the wayside.  My time now is generally filled with catching up on what sleep I can.

I had to duck out of the Monday group I’ve been playing with.  Encounters is out of the question.  Even my Xbox has lain dormant lately.  My own home session these past two weeks has been reduced to Dungeon Delve #20, Cold Hands of Chaos (altered and scaled of course).  Though Dungeon Delve is one of my favorite books, I generally ascribe myself to higher standards than just running a published one-shot.  But life happens.

I’ll be moving soon and was pleased (and surprised) to hear that my group would be willing to make the hour-long commute to continue the campaign.  It wasn’t even in contention.  What has been in contention, at least in my mind, is this blog.  I made it fifty posts without skipping a week… then life happened.  My goal was to go a year before letting that happen.  What are goals for if not to be met or broken?

The fact of the matter is, I can’t continue like this, but I’ve been having so much fun writing, I don’t want to stop.  I can’t stop.  I won’t.  Though my new position is awesome, it’s not D&D.  I don’t get to talk, think, or write about D&D for a living.  I do this as a hobby, both the game and the blogging.  I do it because I think the game is limited only by the caliber of gamers playing it.  I’d like to continue to increase that fun-factor for all involved, player and DM alike.  I’d like to continue because I haven’t run out of things to say.  I’d like to continue because you read, you respond, you seem genuinely interested in my insights into the game.

I’ve been treating this blog like a magazine.  I’ve tried to emulate D&DI, keeping the schedule of posts consistent; Mondays for adventures and Thursdays for helpful tips.  I’ve treated the community like paying subscribers, intelligent readers who deserve more than frivolous garble (much like this post).  I’ve held myself on this blog to the same standards I do in my home campaign.  I don’t want to run or publish anything I myself wouldn’t be interested in.

I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, because time is the most precious commodity.  Unlike a dollar, once spent, time can not be earned again.  My pockets barely jingle with the little loose time I have left.

That said, I want you to know I’m not spent.  I’m not disappearing anytime soon, but I won’t be continuing with regular posts anymore.  The first to go will be the adventures; truthfully I’m surprised people read them at all.  I don’t think I’ve ever read about someone else’s campaign before.  Of the few instructional podcasts I’ve listened to, most have an agreement to not even mention their home campaigns.  I want to thank those of you who did read and comment about our epic adventures.  I promise, if I run a particularly awesome session, I’ll make sure you hear all you need know to run it in your own campaign.

I’ll continue to post on Thursdays, but I can’t guarantee I’ll do it with any regularity.  I can’t continue to treat this blog like a magazine full of paying subscribers.  This business of scheduled posts is best left to those with a staff of writers.  As for me, I’m just a guy who works a lot and loves to play D&D in his free time…

Free time.  Now there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

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Crafts: It’s Christmas! (seriously)

It’s early August and that means Christmas items are already starting to hit the shelves.  If you’re a fan of cheap 3D terrain, you might want to get yourself to Hobby Lobby pretty soon, last year they sold out quick.  Here’s a few little gems that sell for $5 or less and can complement any gaming table.

Christmas Trees (large)

Where else can you get three trees for $2?  These little guys might not be the prettiest to adorn your table, but when they’re this cheap, who cares?  Because of their price, I’m not overly concerned with their fate rolling around in a bag; they make great travel trees.  Being made out of wire, they can get squashed and easily reformed back to their original shape.  I’m not a huge fan of the flocked look, it has its uses, but personally I like to paint the trees.

These trees are just a single, dark-evergreen color underneath all that snow.  The flock comes off easily with a blade of some sort.  The little specks that remain actually pick up paint nicely, allowing for a layering of color.

The trees, like most terrain, benefit from sticky tack.

Christmas Trees (small)

Eight little trees for $1.50, but what to do with them?

The first time I grabbed a bag of these, I too was skeptical of their usefulness, but figured it was worth the price for a “try-it” craft… bushes.  I cut the tops off, painted them green, and called it good.  A year later and I’ve used these little bushes a lot.  Often, I wanted more than just eight; they add a great, little-detail to every outdoor scene.  (See below)

Crystal Cubes

Maybe you’re fortunate enough to own a gelatinous cube miniature.  If you do, I’d suggest putting it on ebay.  It sells for around $100.

These cubes are two for $5, and I think they look just as good.

What do you think?

Gelatinous "Crystal" Cube, Hobby Lobby "Make it Christmas"

Gelatinous Cube, #20 Desert of Desolation

Just to make sure you’ve been following along, I present the following $10 scene.

You have been following along, right?  This is my 50th post!

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