DDC – Roll of the Dice

Sunday’s game was a little earlier than usual and had its fair share of technical issues, but we managed to get a good session going. We picked up where we left off – in the middle of the pitched battle, and Caeluma was able to damage the large eye construct in the middle of the courtyard. This had the effect of disrupting the anti-magic field so that Arwan was able to get to Kerne to heal them. The last of the dolgrims and dolgaunts were swiftly picked off, and quiet was restored to the Hold’s entrance.

A quick scout around revealed barracks, stables, dog kennels, and an armoury in disarray with signs of past violence and the armoury in particular having been picked clean to equip the dolgrims. A further set of large doors leading into the mountain were quietly eased open to reveal the way forward. Caeluma caught a brief sight of a small floating creature that the group nicknamed “the angry artichoke” as it passed the end of the corridor some way away, but it didn’t spot them, so they felt safe enough to approach and try to get the lay of the land.

Thorin recalled enough of the layout to indicate the direction of the throne room, library, forge, and main living areas so they could all get their bearings – and they were able to hear indistinct voices nearby. Caeluma summoned Shriken to invisibly scout a little further and found the throne room had three occupants. An ashen-skinned dwarfish figure was in a conversation with a dolgaunt and a tall thin figure with a squidlike head that seemed to be in charge. Their language couldn’t be understood by either Caeluma or Shriken, so Valenia moved forward, also invisibly and was able to understand the Undercommon that they were using.

There were three main strands that Valenia overheard before the “angry artichoke” was seen returning:

The dwarf was being told that Karkanna needed to be found and brought back under control. The dwarf was demanding to know where “The Axe” was – and was told by the mindflayer that it was still with the heir and the assassins had failed. The dolgaunt was ordered to go round up more prisoners so that they could be converted, and the mindflayer said it would confirm progress with the Watcher so they could complete the deal with Winter.

Shriken and Valenia retreated back to the corridor as the “angry artichoke” – a gazer – sped back – and all would be well if not for one mistake. Valenia called out to the rest of the party to let them know they were back, and the gazer heard them, spun round and saw the rest of the group. It yelled out in alarm and the sound of running feet could be heard.

This is where it all got a bit messy.

Everyone moved around the staggered hallway junctions to get clear lines of fire, and Arwan felled the gazer before it could flee. Valenia created a spike growth area covering an area of the court and the corridor outside to act as a chokepoint – and a number of dolgrims that burst out of a nearby door were badly injured as they ran through it. The dolgaunt was able to grapple Caeluma with its tentacles, while Kerne missed the dolgrims with her spell. The duergar psionicist turned invisible and attempted to poison Thorin – but was unable to find a weak spot in his armour, while the mindflayer floated out another entrance and threw a lightning bolt spell at Arwan as it beat a retreat.

The group cut down the majority of the dolgrims and slew the dolgaunt, but not before another mindflayer appeared behind the dolgrims and stunned Kerne and Caeluma with a mindblast. The mindblast had the unexpected benefit for the party of slaying the last of the dolgrims, but then a section of the south wall of the throne room was destroyed and the first mindflayer appeared, flanking the bulk of an enraged beholder – The Watcher

And that’s where we left the bloodied and battered group in a state of disbelief and terror and will pick up from next week.

All posted images are from Wizards of the Coast 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons and are their copyright.

Map – Abandoned Riverside Hut

I’ve been using Dungeon Alchemist since backing it as a Kickstarter and then editing in Roll20 once I’ve imported it there – it helps automate a lot of scenery and placement of items when I’m not particularly fussed about the details or if I’m looking for inspiration for an encounter. The software is available through Steam and had some interesting updates recently allowing you to import Heroforge counters and walk around in first person around in the maps when generated – I’ll be watching that with interest.

This map was quickly spammed up to have a generic outdoors encounter space – and in the end I used it as a camp location while the group was travelling to Amberhammer Hold. Its where Caeluma learned it was their birthday and where their celestial patron manifested briefly to help celebrate.

The map was generated with a semi 3D perspective to make it pop a bit better – and as Dungeon Alchemist is aimed at producing maps for export to virtual tabletops it also produced a lighting map for Dynamic Lighting. As an outdoor scene set at dusk, I wasn’t so worried about light levels, but I’ll include the text file to download if anyone wants it

Have fun – the original jpg and text file are in this zipfile: Loggers Hut Pack

DDC – Draconic Prophecies 4

Here we are again, with another few cryptic odds and ends for what’s upcoming and has been ongoing in the current campaign – plus notes when the events highlighted have come to pass. I go back to these passages to update the blog posts when that happens – and there will certainly be a run on these as the current arc completes. I’m also going to post up some of the encounter maps we’ve used for free use by people should they want them.

Blood dreams chased are ended in screams, and barred doors found to be open. All the capering demons fall under the watchful eye’s watch.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 1026, chapter 11, verses 12-13

This is pretty much where the last couple of sessions have been – the blood dream refers to the Deathkiss in the garden which is the remnant of a beholder’s nightmares of blood loss, and which acted as the guard dog in the garden before the gates. The Hold gates which might have appeared to be barred were in fact not secured at all, so that Thorin could open them and bring his allies in with him. The capering demons refers to the horde of dolgrims and their dolgaunt leaders who thronged the main courtyard in defence of the Hold. The watchful eye is an unearthly appearing 20-foot-wide eye in the centre of the courtyard that projects an anti-magic ray at the entrance. Its presence forced some big tactic changes for the group.

When the heir to Amber proclaims his oath, the new dawn shall rise beneath the halls. Winter’s breath abated for now as the moons drift on their paths.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 671, chapter 5, verses 1-2

A fairly straightforward call out to the endgame outcomes here. More detail as we get there.

A point of decision splits the path: to save or to slay. Two paths to one throne; but with regret comes truth to all. One who has fallen may yet rescue the one who climbs.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 800, chapter 1, verses 1-3

More than a little foreshadowing here on the themes of the story and the resolution of Thorin and Karkanna’s relationship.

Time Off

On my way out the door at work today I quipped that it was finally my turn to have a holiday – and at least in the respect that its not been leave taken in support of anyone else it’s true. I’m not going away anywhere but will be off work to decompress for a couple of weeks.

I can already feel my anxiety trying to get traction as I ruthlessly turn off all work electronics and tell myself my team are all adults and highly capable.

It’s definitely needed as it is that time of year again when the fireworks make life very uncomfortable. My PTSD is in many ways much improved, but it’s difficult not to flinch at unexpected pops and crackles with no obvious source.

I have at least managed to keep it all together and even managed to deliver a brief talk for a black history month event celebrating the leadership of the Stonewall Uprising and what eventually became the Pride movement. I had the usual pre-speech nerves that then disappeared once we started, and so that felt a good positive end of the working week for me.

Yes, it’s only Thursday, I know

DDC – In The Doghouse

We’re approaching an endgame with the story arc for Thorin – which thankfully wasn’t too disrupted by technology this week. That meant a pretty combat-heavy session to start as we picked up mid fight with the tentacled mass of teeth that was roaming the gardens of the Hold.

In the earliest moments of the fight, people had been able to avoid or break free of the tentacles that had been trying to snare them, but then it was successful in latching on and starting to drain them of their lifeblood. This spurred a flurry of spells and the creature soon messily expired in a boneless heap.

The gates to the Hold were closed but consisted of iron grills showing a clear view into the tunnel beyond. There were signs of struggle and torn banners, but still no signs of guards, so Thorin was able to pull the gates open enough for them to slip through and approach the inner portal. Those with keen senses of smell picked up the scent of werewolves and of the dolgrims that had attacked in the night – and the door to the guardhouse was heavily scored with claw marks.

Thorin tried to throw open the inner portal as they could hear movement on the other side, but these doors were much heavier and it took him several attempts to get them open. This alerted the occupants of the room, and when the DDC broke through they were met by a small army of dolgrims and dolgaunts, while a huge ceramic eye crackling with arcane energies glared from the centre of the courtyard.

Thorin rushed into combat with the diminutive and multiarmed creatures and slew many while also getting bloodied in turn. The rest of the group were stymied however as they realised that the eye was a construct that projected an antimagic ray across the front of the courtyard. Battle was joined in earnest, with Caeluma nearly overwhelmed but saved by Arwan – while Kerne fell to the blades and bludgeons of two dolgrims that had cornered them.

On that cliffhanger, we ended the session. It led to the following quick image being produced:

Jabbing and Poking

Health continues to be what it is, though work has continued to be both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. I’ve got another week or so before my leave is due so for the most part I’m trying to get the various plates spinning for while I’m away. I’ve got a couple of appointments due while I’m off, but in the meantime, I’ve had blood tests and my covid booster – leaving my left arm both prominently bruised in the crook of the elbow and sore in the shoulder.

This jab seems just to be replicating the effects of a heavy cold today – but that could be that everything else is masking stuff. I’m choosing to interpret that as nothing getting any worse. My flu jab is due in a couple of weeks, so at least any covid effects should have faded by then.

I wish I had more energy right now – I seem to have spent most of it on the drive to Portsmouth and back today to retrieve Lady J and bring them up to stay with the boy for the week – bursts of activity seem to be fine, it’s just extended activity that knocks me out. Oh well, it could be a lot worse.

On the gaming front I’ve been largely enjoying the anarchic Festival of the Lost in Destiny – which is their Halloween analogue event. Lots of decorations, tongue in cheek spookiness, and a great excuse to rollercoast through the various playlist activities while wearing silly masks. It’s been good for dipping in and out during the evenings since it started on Tuesday.

Tomorrow we have the DDC – hopefully the tech will behave better this week.

DDC – Draconic Prophecies 3

Well, here we go again with more cryptic whimsy. These are, if you’re just joining us, snippets of in-game prophecies and insights into the backstory and main strands of the Sunday D&D group. When all or part of what they allude to have come to pass or have been discovered, I then update the posts to elaborate on what’s been written.

And so for the next batch

Dragons above and dragons below refuse Prophecies’ draw and are yet suborned. The Lords of Dust eye the Winter’s Knight, and ready puissant arguments in stone

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 392, chapter 3, verses 21-22

Dreams of the Watcher guard doors and a vault, while delvers gather to worship the fault. A cult now is born. Graves yawn Winter’s cold. Mad eyes and fae mourn fates wrapped tight and sold.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 371, chapter 2, verses 6-9

Its all coming to a head, it’s safe to say – I can’t wait to see what happens next.

DDC – Tech Stopped Play

We seem to have a recurring problem in my neck of the woods when it rains – namely that our network connections go a bit wonky. Normally it’s just the odd blip that causes a stutter in media or a delay in something loading. Occasionally though it totally disrupts all attempts at getting anything done.

This of course managed to be the case last night as the DDC finally reached the Clan Amberhammer Hold. Their first view was of a hedged terrace carved from the mountainside with trees, fountains, and carvings while a windmill slowly turned – but there was a distinct lack of guards or welcome, and the doors were firmly shut.

As the group got closer, they found a newer construction of marble that Thorin identified as coming from further South – and a swirling purple vapour that seemed to cling and flow around and through it. It was while they were investigating the vapour that they were attacked.

Two pen sketches, each with a label and a quote. The first is a cloaked figure with a helm resembling a skeletal wolf. It is labelled as Karkanna Amberhammer and has the quote: "The howl in the gloom, the flame in betrayal." The second is  pale sphere with an eye and ten bloodied and fanged tentacles. It is titled Ollyxus the Deathkiss and its quote is "A dream of blood that refused to die"

The creature was a large pallid sphere with a bloodshot eye and ten writhing tentacles tipped with bloody mouths. It hauled itself from among the trees and stones of the garden and began to try to rip them all limb from limb, ignoring all attempts to fend it off or flee.

And that was where we had to end it as by then I’d lost my connection to the internet a good three or four times. And so we’ll pick it up from there next time, when hopefully the weather will be better.

DDC – Draconic Prophecies 2

Running a little late in the week, but just squeezing in before the next session, here’s the latest batch of cryptic prophecies for the game, giving story and lore clues in no particular order.

Winter’s howl stuns the Autumn’s son; and witch’s cackle rings aloud. Doorways open, the Fay have come, timed to see a dragon’s head bowed.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 1072, chapter 4, verses 1-2

The transformed kith and prisoners kin are captive each in their own way. A reluctant leader jumps in, and chooses joy or new dismay.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 371, chapter 3, verses 3-4

This is a fairly simple one, referring to the members of Clan Amberhammer who have been transformed into werewolves by Karkanna Amberhammer and to those members of the Clan who are as yet merely prisoners. Thorin Amberhammer is very reluctantly stepping up to confront the horrors being revealed, and fears that he may have to end the lives of some of his relatives to spare many more.

From where did war forged souls emerge? House Cannith claims to never know. Yet the Lord of Blades sings his dirge, claiming new lights from Dolhurr’s snow.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 973, chapter 5, verses 7-9

Folklore Thoughts

Someone was talking today about some if the small traditions and histories that their group had and included the phrase: “we have folklore even though we’re less than a hundred years old.”

It got me thinking, largely as an instinctive push back against the notion that there’s some kind of statutory time limit before something can be remembered as lore. After all, every family generation has its small stories and invokes and lessons learned the hard way and passed on for others to ignore.

My response in the chat was: “Folklore is the stories we build shared history with, age has nothing to do with it except maybe giving a fine patina.” Which isn’t as polished or nuanced as I might like, but that’s immediate text chats for you.

I then promptly mulled over while having a shower because it was sparking more thoughts and ideas. While making myself more human, my thought process therefore trundled on deciding that folklore is the stories of the people, not the history taught by rulers and conquerors. Perhaps that’s why we hold so tight to it. It’s our lore, not theirs. It’s our small stories and remembrances, not that of nations.

I don’t think its a radical summation, as it literally leans on the translation of folk from volk but I think it’s perfectly in line with why I think community is so important, because that’s how our stories grow and embed and give half a chance to learn from practical example.

I almost sound like I know what I’m talking about…