Thursday, December 13, 2018

Adventures of a Dungeon Master: Telz Manor



Welcome back! Our group of intrepid explorers is now on their way to the crumbling Telz manor.

Our cast:
-Zil: Eldritch knight fighter
-Lone Sequoia: Sun soul monk
-Smith: Land circle (mountain) druid
-Dot: Redemption oath paladin

The group has had a little rest and makes their way towards the top of the cliffs, where the manor had once sat at the highest point of the island. They find an old stone roadway and follow it to the ruins of the manor. A large structure, it had at one time clearly been extravagant and beautiful. The remains are scarred and blackened by fire damage. Recently, some repairs and renovations appear to have been done on the walls and lower floors, though it is obvious that the upper floors were damaged and now only a makeshift roof remains.

Sitting on the doorstep of the mansion is the cat from the docks, resting lazily. At this point, the paladin is completely convinced that the cat is evil and needs to be destroyed. The fighter thinks it would make a good meal. The others have no real horse in the game, though the druid is probably tired of it back talking him. So the paladin casts detect good and evil. It registers as neither. So the paladin does the only next logical thing and throws a javelin at it, which misses but does not seem to disturb the cat. The druid approaches and casts speak with animals again. It asks the cat why it is at the mansion instead of waiting for its friend, it simply says that it can wait whenever it would like, but that it is out hunting mice. The party doesn't believe it, and the cat wanders further into the mansion. The party follows, entering a main chamber. There are the bodies of workers here, as if killed in the middle of working. Moving through the mansion they see that much of the first floor has at least been functionally renovated so that it is habitable. Inside many rooms there are the dead bodies of workers or servants. They occasionally glimpse the cat as it moves through the building, ostensibly to hunt. In a library they discover a book with a bloody key slipped between the pages. In the current master bedroom they find a hold smashed into the floor and dug down where it meets a tunnel underneath that appears to have been man made long ago. Earmarking that for later exploration, the party finds a room full of old paintings, many of which appear to predate the damage done to the house, yet remain in pristine condition, including paintings of the mansion in its glory days, a painting of a family they only assume are the Telz, and paintings which depict grotesque sea monsters and horrid blood sacrifices. The mansion is empty of seemingly all life save the party and the cat, so they return to the tunnel entrance, where they vaguely hear the sounds of the ocean and something that may or may not be the sounds of speech. As we fade to black, they agree that their next step is to delve deeper under the ruined manor house.



Monday, November 19, 2018

Adventures of a Dungeon Master: The Island of Telz



Welcome to our next installment of the campaign! Before we recap, some news: due to scheduling conflicts (the true bane of all adventuring parties) we have two players who are, at least for the foreseeable future, out of the campaign. Luckily for us, their characters were already on a side quest, so there won't be much of an impact on the rest.

Our cast:
-Alzilu (Zil): Khenra eldritch knight fighter
-Smith: Half elf land-circle (mountain) druid
-Dot: Changeling redemption oath paladin
-Lone Sequoia: Tabaxi sun soul monk

Suti and Brattlu (the cleric and rogue, unfortunately) are still off on their own adventure!

So when we left off, our fearless cast was adrift at sea, rowing aimlessly towards a target they were only half sure of the location of, while a massive storm raged overhead and the waves threatened to swamp their boat. Large creatures lurked beneath them, glimpsed in flashes of lightning as darker shapes beneath the waves. As we reconvene, they have been rowing for hours. Time seems to be flowing differently for them, and what feels like a long day has perhaps only been a few hours. Fatigued and disoriented, Sequoia loses track of their orientation at sea and they become lost. Around this time, one of their oars snaps, carried away before Zil can grab it. Using the pincer staff they had taken from the fallen kuo-toa spellcaster, they fashion a primitive oar with the use of some rope and canvas. As they row, the amulet which Zil has been carrying begins to vibrate again, and upon pulling it free it gives a mental tug. At this same time, Dot looks overboard just in time to see a large wake move towards their craft, nudging it sideways. The druid casts speak with animals and begins yelling to the creature. The waters in their immediate area seem to calm and from a few yards away a massive head breaks the water, easily larger than their rowboat. It resembles the head of a snapping turtle, albeit slightly longer, and the mouth is filled with rows of razor sharp teeth, resembling a shark's. The druid asks it if it will help them, or if it is a threat. It responds that it was merely there because it sensed the amulet, and that though it was not there with necessarily hostile intent, it had no desire or motivation to aid them. The amulet itself should be enough, the beast says, and disappears beneath the waves, though it does calm the immediate impact of the storm on their small craft to give them a brief respite.

So the rowing continues, following the pull of the amulet. As they get closer, however, the magic helping them breaks and the force of the storm hits them suddenly. The small craft gets swamped with waves, and they lose their second oar. As they struggle, Zil uses the broken half of the first oar and some rope to fashion a rudimentary bit , and the druid wild shapes into a shark, towing their craft towards the island while the rest of the party struggles to keep the boat from being swamped and sinking. This is effective, and eventually the party locates a beach at the base of the seaside cliffs with what appears to be a dock. They arrive and the party disembarks. The landing appears to be a small, recently crafted dock for the loading and unloading of supplies. There are bodies of workers strewn about, and a stairway the leads further up the cliff face. Some of the bodies have clothing which bears the mark of the ring with three parallel lines upon it. As they move down the dock they see a cat perched upon a chest. They approach and the druid casts speak with animals. He questions the cat on the nature of the island, on what had happened there, and generally tries to get information from the animals. It responds cryptically and is not of much use, though it makes sure to never allow any of them near enough to touch it. It warns them to stay on the paths and to not stray into the wilderness on the island, and to be careful of the "others, some of whom came from the sea" so as to not put themselves in danger. They ask the cat to join them and guide them, to which it responds that it can't, as it is waiting for someone. When the party asks who, it tells them it is none of their business. Not satisfied but not wanting to spend more time on it, the party decides to open the chest. They do with very little difficulty and there is loot to be had! Hurrah, they remembered to loot!

So, the cat had told them of a work camp up the cliffs towards the manor which, was abandoned recently, where they could safely rest. The manor has been being renovated and repaired, though they had heard nothing of this in their prior investigations into things back on the mainland. Arriving at the abandoned work camp at nightfall, they quickly enter a bunkhouse and barricade the doors, taking watch shifts. 

On first watch, Zil is standing at the window when a flash of lightning shows a pile of bones and skulls in an area where they had clearly not seen anything before. Perched atop the pile is the cat from the docks, licking its paw. As quickly as it appeared, the image is gone. The rest of his watch is uneventful. Sequoia takes the second watch, and she sees shapes moving at the edge of her vision in the darkness outside the window; large, looming shapes that move unnaturally. She wakes Zil and the two agree to simply keep an eye out. As this is occurring, both Smith and Dot have nightmares: Dot, of being chased and devoured by massive sea creatures, and Smith of a number of people kneeling before a door which opens and decimates them with seawater. Third watch is Dot, who decides to cast calm emotions n his companions to ease their minds while they sleep. During his watch, he sees more of the shapes moving outside, some even closer than Sequoia had warned him, but they do not approach and he cannot identify them. They drift away before his watch ends and he goes to awaken Smith for the final watch, only to be startled by the cat standing on the other side of the building, staring at him. In surprise, he blinks, and the cat is gone. 

Last watch is Smith, whose player manages to roll a lovely pair of natural 1s on perception checks, not noticing a looming threat until it is within 30feet. The creatures is large and resembles a cross between a lobster and a praying mantis, but with its face replaced by a writhing mass of tentacles. This is, of course, a Chuul. He awakens Zil, who sees the creature and decides his best course of action is preemptive assault. He smashes the window and casts witches bolt. Smith blasts the creature with lightning bolt. The others are awake, just in time to see the creature scuttle around the side of the building towards the door. Zil jumps from the window, discovering that the Chuul is not alone - there are 3 crab men also present. He casts burning hands and action surges to also cast fire colt, instantly killing one of the crab men. Combat is short and uneventful; the players all decide to leave the building and fight. Their damage output is much higher than anticipated and the combatants all die with only minimal damage to Zil and Sequoia. The party regroups, takes a short rest, and decide that the obvious course of action would be for them to approach the island manor.

That's all for this time! Next time the party will be investigating the Telz Manor, and other sorts of things!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Adventures of a Dungeon Master: Smuggler's Cove



So we had another session today and of course I would love to share it with you, the dearest reader. Tonight's session was an absolute comedy of errors, but successful at the end nonetheless! I also would like to start including a player character roster at the top of each, for a few reason.

1: to remind the reader who is who
2: in case the roster changes due to a death

I will, of course, make note of who is present for each session and any downtime actions of note which occur! 

Host of characters present:
- Alzilu (Zil): khenra eldritch knight fighter
- Dot: changeling oath of redemption paladin
- Smith: half-elf circle of land (mountain) druid
- Lone Sequoia: tabaxi sun soul monk

Characters (players) not present:
-Suti: khenra zeal domain cleric
-Brattlu: deep gnome scout rogue


Without further ado, here is the Smuggler's Cave session!

The party reconvene at the last inhabited village after having explored the remains of Seavale. Suti and Brattlu have moved on back to original city, in order to inform the council of what they have discovered. Having rested, and knowing that time is of the essence, the party is in the local tavern, plotting their strategy. As they discuss whether to follow the bloody map from the village or to travel on to the Telz Mansion, they see an older man at a nearby table nervously eavesdropping. Dot casts Zone of Truth and confronts the man, asking what he knows and why he's so interested. The man very anxiously explains that the story of the Telz family is sort of a spooky urban legend. Many generations ago they were a fabulously wealthy family in the old city. When the catastrophe came during the old war which sank the city into the ocean, a small bit of land survived; the land housing the Telz Mansion, which became a sort of island fortress. The family had always been hounded by rumors of dark deeds and weird goings on. As time went on, rumors around the family and the island manor they inhabited grew. They were accused of being cannibals, or making sacrifices to dark powers, and it was said that visitors to the island often disappeared to be used for weird rituals or grim sport. After many years of this, perhaps a little over a hundred years prior to the present, some form of catastrophe struck the island and seemingly destroyed a good portion of the manor and even part of the island that it had rested on. There was no sign of the family or any other survivors. it didn't take long for looters and thrill seekers to go into the island to see what was what, but it was said that most never returned, and the island soon earned a reputation for being dangerous and haunted. The man is unable to give them an exact location but gives them a general bearing as to where it was. 

The discussion in the party turns to which map to follow: do they go directly towards the island, or do they follow the bloody map to the village in case it leads them to survivors? The group decides to follow the bloody map along the coast and see where it leads them. The journey is long and takes most of a day, leading them off the roads and trails and high into the wilderness atop the seaside cliffs. The growing storm and rainy weather do nothing to improve their journey, and they find themselves standing at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. As they look around, Zil notices a rock outcropping which seems to have been used as an anchor point for something. Closer examination reveals cleverly carved hand and foot holds in the slippery, rain soaked cliff face. Never one for patience, Zil calls out to his companions as he begins to climb down the 40ft cliff face. A failed athletics check later, he loses his footing and slips down, but is able to catch himself with minimal damage to anything more than his pride. Upon regrouping, he attempts to finish the climb down... only to slip again and fall 20ft into the rocky sand below.

Meanwhile, Smith casts spiderclimb and then wildshapes into a draft horse. Dot climbs onto the druid, and the pair begin to descend. Sequoia, as a tabaxi, has a natural climb speed, so she chooses to climb down on her own. I call for a low DC athletics check, because thought she is a tabaxi, it is a very slippery cliff face. I suspect that it will be a formality. 

Natural 1.

The tabaxi begins to fall. In a heroic effort to avert disaster, Dot, still riding on the back of Smith-as-a-horse, rolls to save her.

Natural 1.

In his effort to grab the falling monk, Dot the paladin falls off the back of the druid-horse. Both characters fall down the cliff. Luckily, as a monk, Sequoia slows her fall and avoids all damage. The same can't be said for the heavily armored paladin, who also lands among the rocks. As the party arrives at the bottom, they see signs of a struggle, and that a cave entrance that appears to have once been cleverly disguised, has been torn open. The party moves into the cave, encountering once more signs of violence as they come across the bodies of villagers and what they can only assume to be smugglers as they move into the main area of the cave. Drag marks along the stone hint that something large had been dragged through the area towards the back of the cave. Sequoia discovers a finely made wooden chest, and using her smith's tools breaks open the lock. It has several sets of fine clothing, a second finely crafted lockbox, a book, and a carefully wrapped parcel inside. The book refuses to open, and the group assumes that it must be a spellbook of some sort and that they aren't currently willing to take a chance on that. The careully wrapped bundle is an elegant, if a bit ostentatious silk cloak. The lockbox is, of course, locked. Upon trying to open it, Sequoia triggers a trap but manages to avoid any ill effects. Further attempts by various party members (and bad rolls) mean that the box stays closed. the party elects to take the whole chest with them when they leave.

Moving further back, they find a tiered stone dais, obviously old, carved with runes and symbols which match the undecipherable language in the old book found at the monastery. Upon it is a figure which stands out, an elf in dark, finely made robes. His body is ritually scarified in symbols similar to those found in the book as well. Pillars rising from the edge of the water are carved with pictographic symbols which suggest the the three swords seen on the symbols are each related to a doorway or portal of some sort. The drag marks are found to move into the cave's water, and the party detects a weird sound which they perceive to be the sound of water moving through an opening they can't yet see. Zil ties himself to one of the pillars with a length of rope, leaving his heavy gear and backpack behind as he begins to swim. Dot takes a slightly different approach and drinks a potion of water breathing before he enters the water. Smith uses wildshape to turn into a shark and swim ahead to scout for danger.

Eventually they pass into a cave at the back of the underground pond, which leads them to a small, secluded chamber which is lit with bioluminescent organisms. Two large rowboats are beached in this little alcove, with an old campfire and more pillars, fallen to the ground and half buried in coarse sand. A pair of chests rest near the old fire and sleeping bags. The pillars are seemingly older, and show the swords from the previous pillars in the hands of three distinct beings: one shown to be surrounded by a halo of flames or light. One which has a half-fish body. One which is horned and winged. Moving to the back of this area they see an old stone altar, pristine in condition, depicting what appears to be a merfolk rising from the sea. Smith feels a strong unease emanating both from the altar and from Zil. He moves to confront Zil, who sincerely has no idea what he is talking about, so they moves back towards the altar. At the base of the altar is a dying man, his wound festering. As Smith approaches, the old man struggles to sit up, spitting.

"So ye've come to finish me off then, eh? Well have at it."

Smith is taken back, and responds to the negative. The old man seems relived to hear a human voice, telling Smith that he was glad they found his map, even if it was too late to save anyone. At least they could finish what was started and see to it that the ritual wasn't completed. Smith attempts to cast cure wounds, but a feeling on unease comes over him. Not only does the spell fail, but the old man's wounds begin to bleed what appears to be salt water. Struggling with the pain, the old man grabs Smith, telling him that they must not let the doors be closed. They must use the key. When pushed, the old man sighs, muttering that the sword is the key before lapsing into his dying delirium. 

Examination of the altar behind him shows a clear depression where the outline of a sword is clearly visible, as if it had been there for a very long time and only recently removed.

At the same time, back on the other side of the waterway in the cave, the tabaxi hears an odd sound coming from Zil's bag. Her natural curiosity getting the better of her, she opens the bag to find the cource, discovering the ancient amulet taken from the dead kuo-toa spellcaster is vibrating with energy (at the same time as Smith's healing spell fails.)

The party take one of the rowboats and begin to row back, discovering that what they thought was a blockage was actually a cleverly engineered disguise for the passageway, allowing them to row all th way back to the tabaxi. Sequoia explains the amulet thing, and everyone is a little uneasy, but now they have a boat! They grad the chest from earlier and place it in the boat, and the group begins to carry the boat from the cave, because who doesn't love portaging?

As they near the entrance, a voice calls out to them, the voice of a woman saying hello. She says that she had heard voices, real voices, and knew they weren't monsters, and could they please get her out of here with them? The group is wary, and slowly approach. A clearly distraught and disheveled young woman approaches them cautiously. She explains that she had hidden during the attacks and had been trying to regain the strength to leave the area when she had heard the commotion from up above. Fearing another attack she had hidden herself among the rocks and sand further along the beach, terrified that the monsters had returned. Upon hearing real voices however, she had decided to take a chance. Cautious, Sequoia questions the girl about the attack on the village. The girl gives general information that is seemingly accurate, but gives an incorrect name for the village, a mistake that none of the party notices... helped by a Natural 1 on an insight check from Zil. As they move closer, the woman's eyes go wide and she points and screams. The party turns, to find 4 sahuagin (shark-men) approaching from the rear of the cave where they had just been.

The party sets the boat down and turns. Immediately Smith fires a lightning bolt into the sahuagin... a bolt which also happens to strike Zil in the back, immediately downing the fighter, who had already been damaged from the fall earlier. Using healing word to at least not kill the fighter, two of the sahuagin find themselves blasted to death by lightning, with a 3rd hurt. The monk turns to throw her radiant sun bolts at the sahuagin, killing the wounded one and missing the last remaining one.

Unfortunately, the sea hag takes that moment to reveal her true form, slashing Dot in the back. Dot not only takes the hit, but also swallows an attack of opportunity as he moves out of melee range in order to heal Zil. Zil is stunned and prone (house rules for healing word because we all agree that Rules as Written it's a little OP), so he loses a turn. Smith turns to attack the hag... and fails his wisdom save and is frightened, though he does move away. The hag uses her gaze attack, and forgetting that frightened creatures have disadvantage on rolls, the druid isn't instantly downed, even though he should have been. That's why we always err on the side of the player, and once the moment has passed, we let it pass! The monk makes two attacks which miss the sahuagin; she is unaware of the hag situation. Dot turns towards the hag, and... also fails his wisdom save, and is summarily frightened, so he beats feet, but DOES manage to cast Bless on the party. Zil finds his feet, turning to attack the sea hag, and... well wouldn't you know, he ALSO fails his wisdom save and is now frightened, though he does manage to get off some ranged attacks that do a little damage. The last sahuagin charges the monk but of course misses both attacks. Smith manages to get of another lightning bolt at the sea hag, without hitting any of his comrades this time, severely hurting the creature, which at this point is screaming at them that they will never stop the ritual and that it must be done. The monk finishes the sahuagin with two heavy unarmed strikes which do nearly max damage to this already-wounded creature, and turns towards the sea hag, being the only one of the party to not fail their wisdom save, she's basically ready to go hard at the hag. The hag once again uses her gaze attack on Smith. The druid, unfortunately, is a victim of bad die rolls and disadvantage, and is dropped to 0HP by an angry look. Dot drops a calm emotion spell in such a way as to remove the frightened state from the rest of the party and moves to Smith in order to administer a healing potion. Zil, barely alive at this point, burns both attacks and manages to do enough fire damage to kill the hag, melting her into a waxy puddle of seaweed, fishguts, and brittle bones. 

The party loots the corpses this time, finding a few trinkets... the sahuagin weapons, a dagger carved from a marine predator's tooth, and a sharkskin pouch full of what appear to be human finger bones. Combat over, the party decides to rest briefly (gotta get that short rest in!) while they ponder their next move and burn hit dice for all the heals. The course of action that seems obvious to them is to brave the literal stormy seas to find the island they have only a half-assed map to, in a boat none of them are proficient in piloting, navigating waters none of them are trained to navigate. The consensus being that "Hey, we'll figure it out!" 

However, the druid does find it prudent to send an animal messenger to the other members of the party, telling them essentially "Hey, we're getting on a boat to go to this place we only think we can find, catch up when you can!"

And then the session of course, ends with none of them making a nature check to try to navigate!



...so you may be asking, what about Brattlu and Suti? Well don't worry, they had their own adventure! They arrived back at the main city to a sort of sense of urgent chaos. As they move towards main council building, they hear whispers of a series of weird high profile deaths in the city. When they arrive at the main council hall guards stop them until once of the council members is called to vouch for them, bringing them in. They are told that the city is nervous, as the old seer they had brought in (from session 1!) and his young helper had been found murder, along with the two guards set to watch over them. That same night, the local temple monastery had caught fire, and an old monk who oversaw the library was killed in the fire, and many books were destroyed. Brattlu and Suti are quickly ushered into the council chamber and asked what news they have. As they explain what they found at the village of Seavale, the council is horrified and distraught. They beg the pair to return to their friends and seek out any survivors and solve whatever problem is occurring, no matter the cost. As they leave and are going to rest and resupply, one of the councilors finds them and surreptitiously brings them to a secluded area, where he nervously says he has more information for them about weird shit going on, but that he doesn't have more time to tell them all that he knows now, but that they should meet him at a set location that night.

That evening, as they approach the meeting place, they arrive in time to witness the councilor being murdered by a dark, cloaked figure. They give chase, following the figure through streets and alleys, finally confronting it on the city walls. Both Suti and Brattlu are wounded, but they manage to (they hope!) seriously wound the assassin and send it tumbling over the edge of the city walls. However, a morning inspecting reveals no body or even a trace of a body. They also learn that during the night, one of the other councilors disappeared entirely, and a search of his chambers by both the city guards and the pair of adventurers turns up no real sign that the man had even really existed... he's just gone. That evening, Suti is plagued by a dream in which a dark, expansive stone room has 3 free standing doors. One is framed in marble chased with golden ivy, and the alabaster doors are chained with silver and gold. The second is framed in coral, the doors made of fossil sediment, wrapped in anchor chains and heavy black seaweed. The third is framed in brass and red gold, with obsidian doors bound in chains of copper and red hot steel. In the center of the three doors is a pile of skulls, upon which perches a black owl. One by one, the chains on the doors fall heavily to the ground, the sound echoing like thunder. When the last chain falls, the doors swing open, and the owl takes flight, shifting and growing larger until it is unimaginably large and Suti's dream is nothing but the death-blackness of its wings. He awakens from this terrified and uneasy.

That is where our session ends! Thanks for joining us on our DnD journey, and please check out the next installment!



Sunday, October 14, 2018

Adventures of a Dungeon Master: Welcome to Seavale



Thanks for joining us on the next step of our adventure!

As always, recapping the party composition so that reading is easier:
-Suti: khenra zeal domain cleric
-Alzilu (Zil): khenra eldritch knight fighter
-Smith: half-elf land circle (mountain) druid
-Dot: changeling redemption oath paladin
-Brattlu: deep gnome scout rogue
-Sequoia: tabaxi sun soul monk

The journey to Seavale is uneventful, though the weather gets progressivle worse. As they arrive at the outskirts of the town in the late afternoon, the sky is nearly black from the coming storm, and a heavy mist lays over the town. Even for a seaside town, Seavale smells heavily of salt. Seabirds break the thick silence with their shrill cries, and the sounds of the waves breaking fills the air. The party enters the town slowly, but they see nothing of note, just signs of a village by the sea... small boats, clothes on lines, nets hung up for mending, etc. 

Lone Sequoia catches a smell not unfamiliar to those who live near beaches: the smell of decay. With little else to do, they secure their mounts and move on foot into the village, heading towards the beach. They find nothing of real note as they move further along the beach towards the town, eventually coming across the docks as they loom out of the shore. As they step onto the docks, the find the first signs that something bad has happened: the corpse of one of the previous groups sent to investigate, seemingly ritualistically killed and mutilated, and then gnawed upon. The body has an odd smell and appears to have not been touched by scavengers. 

Weapons drawn, the party moves further along the docks, encountering the bodies of villagers who appear to have been slain in battle, a battle that seemed to have moved from the end of the docks and towards the center of the village. Their slow search turns up very little beyond bodies until they enter a building along the docks, in which they find a locked door with a dead man slumped before it. Brattlu is unable to pick the lock, so Alzilu takes it upon himself to charge through the door. As the wooden door frame splinters, there is a cry, and Alzilu finds himself struck in the groin with a fishing pole. A young girl, clearly scared and dirty and not in great shape, is in the room. Smith, Sequoia, and Dot enter the room with her, while Alzilu steps back into the main room and Brattlu moves outside to keep an eye out. As the little girl desperately asks about her father, Dot informs her that they have only found corpses in the village. The distraught young woman (I say girl, but I described her as being about 15 or 16) begins to break down, asking about her father. When she describes him for the group, they recognize the description as matching the body they had found outside the room she was locked in. Rather than comfort her, Dot tells her that her father is dead, while Sequoia and Smith attempt to be a little more tactful. Alzilu, overhearing this, drags the dead body of the girl's father out of the room and throws it off the edge of the docks. Problem solved, right? The girl manages to at least tell the group a little of what happened: in the night, monsters came from the sea and began attacking the villagers. Many of the men took fishing spears, harpoons, and whatever else was on hand to stop them. Her father had locked her in the room and promised to come back for her. The sounds of fighting had continued, and she had barricaded the door. From where she was, through a small window, she had caught glimpses of slumped shapes dragging what appeared to be villagers, away, so perhaps there were still some survivors. 

In the meantime, Brattlue has been stealthy exploring more of the docks. Near the edge, where the beach comes close to the docks on the far side from where they approached, he hears a sound which he initially takes for the sound of bubbling water, but soon recognizes as having the sort of cadence that matches speech. With it, he hears uncomfortable wet tearing sounds. Moving quickly back to the group, he warns them that that they may have company. Alzilu tells the girl to hide and gives her a knife, and the party moves to investigate.

On the beach, they find a trio of creatures in the darkness, hunched over the body of one of the villagers, tearing chunks from the body and communicating in this strange, bubbling language. They strike without warning, gaining a surprise round on the creatures. The three monsters turn, their bodies soft and round, with large, bulging eyes set into a piscine face with a wide mouth full of short, sharp teeth. The kuotoa are slaughtered rather quickly, but not before one manages to let out a loud, piercing shriek sound. They carry nothing of note, except that they bear tattoos on their flesh which are a triangle with 3 intersecting lines in the shape of a 6-pointed star. Smith checks the old book and they find a page which has been partially removed and damaged which seems to show a similar emblem, but with swords one again in place of the simplistic lines. Without the ability to read the text, they can't decipher a deeper meaning.

At this point, Smith decides to take the young girl back to the last village they had passed for her own safety (the player had to leave early) and takes her away. The party continues to search the village for clues. On the beach, they discover some sort of disturbance in the sound that seems to have been from a large number of beings moving over the sand. Some of those disturbances seem to lead directly to the water, while others point towards small boats having been hastily launches from the shore.

Further investigation reveals a home on  the edges of the town, near the beach, in which they find a message and map drawn in blood. The message is simply a repetition of the circular symbol with the 3 parallel lines, and the map leads to an unknown location further down the beach. Sequoia discovers the map because of proficiency with cartographer's tools, so don't forget your tool skills folks!

Then a large building looms from the beach, ad the party finds large double doors chained shut with a simple lock. Brattlu decides to redeem himself and picks the lock, pulling the doors open.

Inside, a group of kuo-toa again are hunched over a body, tearing into it with their teeth. As the door opens they prepare themselves and gain a surprise round over the adventurers. One of the enemies is a spellcaster. The combat is not exactly long.

But what's that? Suti awakens in a corner of the room, bound with a seaweed rope. He hears the sounds of combat, and a sound that he thinks to be his brother's voice. Struggling free from his bonds, he enters the fray in a weakened state, but the party manage to slay the fish folk. From the body of the spellcaster, Alzilu recovers a medallion with the image of three crossed swords within a triangle. At this point, another player had to leave, and so Brattlu excuses himself to check on the horses and return to the previous village to have them send word back to the council.

Suti explains to the rest of the party that he and the first group had arrived late in the evening to find the village in the same state as they had; with dead bodies, but not enough to account for the whole village being empty. They had seen a dark figure moving through the streets and had followed it to the center of town where it had disappeared. As they looked around, they were attacked but what seemed to be endless waves of the clumsy fish people, gurgling in their odd language. They had tried to defend themselves at first, and then they had tried to flee. The fish men had used nets and seemed to be less focused on killing at this point. Suti soon found himself bound and knocked nearly senseless. As they dragged him through the village slowly, he heard snippets of conversation between three voices, two of which were speaking common. They mentioned something about a ritual, and suggested that they had no more need of extra bodies, so the prisoners could stay where they were. He never saw their faces, and was soon knocked unconscious again as he struggled to escape. He had awakened still in the village as the party was fighting to kill the kuo-toa which had just slain and begun to eat one of his compatriots, saving him from the same fate.

The party decides to head back to the village to meet up with the others and to plan their next steps. They fear that they will have to enter the sea in order to find the survivors, and that their journey may lead them to the infamous (And derelict) Telz mansion.

More to come!



Sunday, September 16, 2018

Adventures of a Dungeon Master: The Set up


So welcome to our second installment of Adventures of a DM! We've established the party composition, so lets talk about the hijinks that occurred in session 1! 

First, a recap of our heroic party:
-Alzilu (Zil): khenra eldritch knight fighter
-Suti: khenra zeal domain cleric
-Brattlu: deep gnome scout rogue
-Lone Sequoia: tabaxi sun soul monk
-Smith: half-elf circle of land (mountain) druid
-Dot: changeling oath of redemption paladin

Let me set the scene: Each character is from a different town or village within a sprawling rural confederacy of villages in a defined geographic area which contains coastal villages. This confederacy was developed to protect the villages from beasts and bandits, especially the predations of a bandit chieftain some years back who did some serious damage to many of the more isolated locales. Our timeline takes place a few hundred years after a major war had destroyed a lot of the area, and the scars and rebuilding are pretty evident in some places. The party were all level 3 and known in their villages for their skills, and known at least in name in most of the confederacy for the things they had done on behalf of their own towns. 

Our party is called together at what is generally considered the capitol of the confederacy; a minor city closer to major trade routes, where a sort of council which represents the confederacy meets to discuss big picture things. It is before this council which our party (Minus Suti... more on that!) finds themselves, in a locked door meeting. The council told them that one of the coastal villages, the village of Seavale, had not sent out their usual routine wagons of trade goods in some time. Those sent to see if there was an issue never sent word back. A group sent to investigate those disappearances, which included Suti, also disappeared. This group, being well known for their problem solving (especially if it could be solved with violence) were brought here because it looks like some bad shit is going down. The council had eve gone so far as to try and consult a local hermit who was known for his oracular abilities. The hermit had been found in a hysterical state, capable only of screaming about the "hands of the sea." The party is on board with all of this, but wants to meet with the old man and learn more about what may be up.

The old man and his helper are brought in, but he is just muttery and seems almost senile in his responses. However, when Brattlu pushes the issue, the old oracle goes into a sort of fit, trying to speak to them while salt water pours from his mouth and eyes in a fashion his normal anatomy would be incapable of doing. During this fit, the council freaks out and nopes the heck out of the room. Thinking ahead, the party gives the old man a writing utensil and paper, on which he proceeds to draw a symbol: a circle with 3 parallel vertical line within.

Dot takes the old man to a healer, while Smith and Sequoia take the paper and go to the small local monastery. Alzilu goes to a nice tavern and has a bite to eat, while Brattlu decides to go stock up on supplies and try to do some merchanting, because if he's not selling, he's not living. At the monastery, Smith gets lucky and a venerable old monk in their small library leads him to a book whose cover has a similar emblem, albeit in more detail: the parallel lines are in reality three swords. Opening this book, they discover that the words and images within are basically complete gibberish. When asked of the origin, the old monk tells them that the book was part of a collection of works brought to them by a man who claimed that they were recovered from the ruins of the island mansion of the Telz family. They learn that the family was a wealthy family whose power predated the war hundreds of years ago, back when Seavale had been a thriving port. During the war, a minor magical catastrophy on unknown origin had collapsed a major portion of the city into the sea. The Telz mansion had survived on a broken island of the shore of the old city. The current village of Seavale were the descendants of the survivors doing their best to rebuild and recover from the destruction of a whole city. They take the book with them. 

Meanwhile, Dot has caught up with the council members after making sure the old man wouldn't die. They give him some supplies and even provide the party with a small wagon for their journey. The party reconvenes in the morning and begin their journey to Seavale!


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Adventures of a Dungeon Master: Meet your DM & Party



So we're going to try something a little new here, because honestly I am so terribly inconsistent with my blogging that I need to be sort of pushing something out. So I've decided to start blogging about my current Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) game experience as a DM.

First though, a little bit about me and my gaming history!

I have been playing DnD in some form since I was basically a toddler. My older brothers played, and as a kid, I wanted to be included. The 1e AD&D books were instrumental in me learning to read, and my first character I can recall was a human fighter named Drip who made it to level 12 and abused the combination of a girdle of storm giant strength and the 1e broken pummeling tables. We quickly transitioned into 2e and some family members and friends joined our group, so that our DnD group fluctuated between 3-10 people. Campaigns were mostly improvised festivals of fun and jokes. Memorable moments include a thief who would sleep poison the paladins and lock them in an iron trunk to do thief things, a wizard self-detonating a Staff of the Magi to cover the party's retreat, a dragonslayer (using the council of Wyrms book in 2e) with his half dragon companion, and a drow fight-cleric who once managed to critically hit a great wyrm red dragon with 2 weapon attacks that were called shots to the eyes. I've played and owned the original box set, and every edition except 4e so far. I've also dabbled in other TTRPGs... Vampire: The Masquerade (And Demon, Werewolf, and Mummy from White Wolf), Aces & Eights, 7th Sea, Outbreak, various Star Wars games, and others. I've been on both sides of the DM screen (and still call it DM even though I think the accepted term now is game master (GM).

Recently some friends and I have been playing 5e DnD, and we dabbled with some campaigns until our DM had life happen and lost his time to plan games. He asked if I'd be willing to DM some stuff so that the game could continue... how could I say no?

So using a homebrew world I've been working on for years, and a 5e ruleset which i was not entirely familiar with, we recruited some players and got everyone all set. Before the first session I spent hours making my own maps to use (We use Roll20 because we are playing across multiple states and time zones!) as well as pre-made maps which fit my vision. I wrote a story outline, plotted major story encounters, and even sat down and developed my own random encounter tables which were a mix of easy, normal, hard, and deadly encounters. My players were given access to most things for character creation, minus flying races because flight really does break the game. We rolled states instead of using a point buy, and I used a rolling scheme that tended to give higher stats, and all characters started at level 3.

So let me introduce you to our characters!

-Alzilu Qanafadh: A khenra (anubis-headed warrior race from the amonkhet planeshift book) fighter eldritch knight with the initiate background (also from amonkhet). CN and sort of all about his martial training and looking out for his brother.
-Suti Qanafudh: Also a khenra, and Alzilu's twin brother (they get racial bonuses for being twins). A cleric of Zeal (also amonkhet... lots of fire and thunder spells). Another melee character. Both brothers wander to train for a cultural challenge that will end in their death and reward in the afterlife.
-Brattlu Jadeback: A deep gnome rogue scout with the merchant background, who was once an underdark smuggler, but was ambushed to run him out of business, surviving only with the help of his trusty mule, Molly. He now is a sort of wandering merchant with a gruff demeanor and capitalist mentality with a soft spot for orphans and children of all sorts.
-Dot: a changeling paladin of redemption folk hero. He hides his changeling nature from his compatriots, and has seen so much violence and evil in his life that he seeks to avoid violence (especially lethal violence) when at all possible, and seeks to help ease the ills of the world through healing and other good deeds.
-Lone Sequoia: a tabaxi sun soul monk who is a member of the smith's guild. Torn between her natural impulsive curiosity and her discipline from a life as a monk, is looking to see the world beyond the monastery.
-Smith: A half elf circle of land druid outsider, he just seems to really be in to the adventuring thing. 

My next post will set up the adventure background and the first session!



Saturday, July 28, 2018

Winter




My lips are cracked and bleeding
My knuckles bruised and broken
This winter wind rips through me
My tears will spill for words unspoken

This frozen landscape reflecting a hollow self
This cold empty feeling inside

That is holding me down
Drowning in the drifting snow
There is a certain perfection in the coldness of winter
The quiet cold
Such a metaphor for death,
That it borders on the cliche

Still I look for the sun
Something to carry me on
Or make me blind
All of my chances have blown away like autumn leaves
While winter is coming
I'm wishing for spring
Blind to the death of seasons
I die here cold and alone

My eyes red from crying
My hands numb and shaking
My whole body trembles from mistakes I've been making
There's a certain beauty in winter
Distracting from the ugliness within
This peaceful white solitude
Giving way to isolatin
The ice gracing the landscape can match the coldness of your eyes

My breath clouding the air
The cold digging to my bones
An animal desperate for the warmth around my beating heart
I'm as empty as the winter winds
And perhaps twice as bitter
All my hopes are torn apart
I would have died for all of this