Unused Scenario – Summoning School

This scenario was an encounter keyed to the Amberhammer Hold and would have been something wandered into had the group taken a stealthier approach. Unfortunately things didn’t go that way and it didn’t feel right to bring this in as events escalated. So the scenario is presented here to spark ideas for you.

So, in the original draft of my notes, the cult of the Triumphant Dead is in many ways a fledgling group and looking to garner power. To that end they have been making alliances and summonings and gathering favours from a whole slew of occult and obscure sources. These have ranged from books stolen from libraries, deals with Daelkyr, favours from and for the Fae, and nefarious connections to the Lords of Dust.

The Summoning School is found within a warehouse area, carefully cleared and engraved with sigils and a circle. Seven cultists and a cult fanatic are being led and instructed as the group arrives on the scenet. Ofalgrim Grazztblood has agreed to instruct the Cult of the Triumphant Dead in how to raise Banderhobbs. These ogre-sized creatures of shadow and corrupt flesh with a toadlike appearance can then be sent to assassinate, kidnap, or steal on the cult’s behalf. As the encounter begins, the small cult group has just succeeded in their first ritual.

The cultists are spaced around a complex glyph laid out in charcoal and salt while the cambion directs them and leads the chant. Connected to the first glyph is a larger one, within which the Banderhobb has just formed from a desecrated pile of corpses. Spooked by the group’s arrival, Ofalgrim will tell the cultists to stand their ground and use their new power. He and the Cult Fanatic (Tesselthwaite Cobb) support with spells unless the group is a serious threat – in which case Ofalgrim will either fly or plane shift away and attempt to flee.

The cutlists have 21sp, 6ep, 4gp, potion of healing x2. Ofalgrim has 240sp, 90gp, potion of invulnerability, a potion of healing, spear is of dwarven make from a clan destroyed by Thorin’s folk for worshipping devils. It can only be destroyed on their original forge, heated by infernal flames. Its head is cast to resemble twisting corkscrewed flames, and flame motifs run up and down the shaft. It feels cold to the touch.

Heroforge – Faces To Watch For

We completed year two of the DDC campaign this afternoon with an emotional rollercoaster that tied all sorts of loose ends together. I’ll write it up properly tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some faces that will loom into view in the next chapter. One of them is a recurring character called Inquisitor Rojas who is a paladin of the Silver Flame, while the other two are duergar heroes who escaped the final battle for Amberhammer Hold.

The DDC first met Inquisitor Rojas while enjoying a break in their train journey – he approached Thorin in the station bar and asked a series of questions about Thorin and about his sister. He played his cards close to his chest but pledged the assistance of the Silver Flame should they be needed. As the Silver Flame were the main drivers of a pogrom that destroyed all known lycanthropes and doppelgangers before the Last War, the presence of a body of armed men on the borders of Amberhammer lands, led by Inquisitor Rojas led to a great number of discussions about how to prevent them from descending on the dwarvish lands to eliminate the werewolves. The fear was that zealotry would lead to mass civilian casualties.

With the defeat of the mindflayers however, the Inquisitor made one more appearance – arriving alone outside the Hold to have a conversation with Thorin. He congratulated the new Lord on pushing back the powers of evil and defending his people – and was told by Thorin that the werewolf problem was now under control. He offered to bring his people in to assist with any last rounding up that needed doing but was rebuffed. He seemed convinced by Thorin’s arguments – at least enough not to push the new lord on his own doorstep – but he did pause when Caeluma growled at him as he left. After a moment, he continued on his way, and led his force back to the larger body of men still camped outside Cragwar.

The two remaining characters are duergar who fled the battle and remain within Amberhammer lands. Umbas Fell is a psionicist, while Marko Patchbeard is a paladin with an oath of vengeance. Time will tell how they impact the stories to come.

DDC – Valenia’s Parents

Earlier this year we ran a D&D session around celebrating the birthday of one of the players – Lady B as it turned out – and it became an extremely wholesome session of parental gossip from back home and the players all scurrying around the local town to find the perfect presents for them. Lady B plays a half-orc ranger and described her parents in simple terms which allowed me to lean in on how to play them.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout and long way to say that my early evening yesterday was spent in HeroForge to create representations of these two NPCs as a nice reminder of the event and an aide-memoire for as and when they may turn up again later. Given they were last seen staying at a hostel near the DDC’s house I really wouldn’t be surprised if they became house sitters while the group was off saving the world. So, please welcome Misaki and Valenash.

I wanted to capture their zest for life and hint at their pasts as retired adventurers so a moderately hedonistic cleric and a gruff and generally laid back woodsman were born. Lady B said these were fairly close to her own imagining of the pair so that’s as sound a mark of approval I’ll get given these were done blind without referring to my notes…

Each of these digital images were created in HeroForge using a Pro subscription. Just thought I’d share.

HeroForge – DDC NPCs

There’s a definite buzz to creating visual representations of the various NPCs (non-player characters) that make an impact on the group in our game. This is even more important given how roleplay-heavy the last few sessions have been, and I’m pleased that these two miscreants have had some time to shine recently. As with last week’s notables, there’s one each from the village of Flower Town and the werewolf lair of Enna’s Seam.

So without further ado meet Banto Forkbeard – de facto leader of the werewolves reclaimed by Karkanna. If he isn’t their leader, he’s at least the most equal of the leaders they don’t have. An ex-guard sergeant at the Hold, his tattered uniform is worn as a point of pride. He is now primed to receive the signal to lead the wolves to rally at the Hold for the final push and engage the duergar forces

Next to him is Kellentan di Sivis – a gnome representative of the Dragonmarked House of Scribes. His message station in Flower Town used to be mostly geared towards news of merchant caravans and prices in nearby cities, but this ambitious gnome sees an opportunity in supporting the returning Heir in his fight to reclaim the Hold. He now helps with communication and logistics in return for favours for his House to come.

The tokens can be used on virtual tabletops – and as with any of these images, please feel free to grab copies for your own games – I’m starting to share the characters on HeroForge, so I’ll do a master list of the entries covered so far in due course.

Heroforge – Odif

I’ve suggested that after the current story arc we have a brief break to play a one-shot around things that might be happening back home – and having already made a portrait and token for Coal, I couldn’t resist making one for the DDC’s young kobold adopted son: Odif.

It may only be a year and a bit since he came into their lives, but kobolds mature quickly – and while still not an adult yet, he has already been showing an aptitude for mechanical and gadget-based tinkering that seems perfectly suited to his inquisitive mind. Coal specifically stayed behind to help raise and guide the little guy – and having grown up around the DDC the youngster has definitely picked up a few style inspirations along the way.

So, here he is, toothy grin, custom crossbow, a knife and some sort of rod or wand in a hanger – dashing in purples and greens, and holes cut in his hood to accommodate his horns and keep his head properly covered when running around. It’s as if he’s wearing a disguise or something. What have he and Coal been up to?

They will of course no doubt have a great explanation, or will deny everything.

HeroForge Illustrations

HeroForge have been going for a good few years now, offering a service where people can create and customise tabletop figures for their various roleplay games. You can then order the printed figure to use at home. The rise in popularity of virtual tabletops over lockdown has since led them to make improvements to export portraits and other illustrations. There’s a subscription model that unlocks extra features and save slots to build up a gallery – the site can be found at www.heroforge.com

The boy has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for the website for some time as he creates new characters, and this baton has been taken up as we’ve developed the DDC campaign. Lady B used the portrait features to create graphics for the stream – and indeed for one of the “Well That Just Happened” designs available on the store – https://amzn.eu/d/eJDoAZM – if you’re interested

So, I eventually caved and had a look this week – and decided to start with making an illustration for Karkanna Amberhammer ahead of the session coming up this weekend. For those not following, Karkanna is Thorin’s elder sister, who disappeared towards the end of the Last War and reappeared by way of a message sent to him in Windhaven. The message said to return as their father wasn’t well – and included their father’s heirloom axe. Everything in the game for the last few months has been the group making their way back to the Hold on the Brelish border.

What the group have been able to put together from hints and encounters is that Karkanna appeared back at the Hold, accompanied by strangers, and was welcomed quietly home. The next evening, as the moon rose, Karkanna transformed into a werewolf, and the strangers revealed as duergar and dolgaunts. Strange creatures appeared and overran the Hold, scattering many of the Clan to the hills.

The Silver Flame made contact with Thorin while they travelled, to see what contact he’d had, but decided that he hadn’t been corrupted and let him go on his way. Their first attempt at entering the Hold then led to them fleeing in disarray after fighting dolgrims and dolgaunts before encountering mind flayers and a beholder. During that time, they overheard conversations suggesting that Karkanna had fled or gone rogue – and so when they had a clue as to her location, they decided to find her. The session ended with their arriving at a ruined shrine and finding her waiting for them at the door.

Where this goes next? Who knows – I can’t wait to find out.

The second portrait I created was that of Coal – partner to Caeluma – who ran with the group for a good while before settling back in Windhaven to look after Odif and set up a youth centre with his profits from their adventuring. We had a whole arc of his coming to terms with his past as a war machine and the losses endured, so the dangers facing the group as they protected their young charge made total sense for the character to back out of active rotation.

When I posted this in the group chat the other night, I was immediately asked if he had become some form of criminal mastermind, which wasn’t really what I was going for – but there’s definitely elements of his rogue background along with the steampunk background to suggest a more elevated status than they’d enjoyed before. I had the concept of a gentleman thief in mind while assembling the options. The mimic of course is one of the many that share the DDC’s home, so it made sense to allude to it. In response to the question, someone else said “He’d say he didn’t know what you were talking about, boss”

The tokens are also very customisable – for curiosity’s sake because I mentioned them earlier, here’s what I generated based off these portraits:

I’ve had fun with these – so I’ll likely look to generate a rogues gallery this way of significant characters in the games I run as a creative outlet.

New Goal

I was at a social gathering last week when someone mistook a filtered photo for something that I had drawn. While complimentary it tweaked that perfectionist side of me that looks at what I currently do when input pen to paper.

Now, the second image is something I’m a lot closer to these days since I started using brush pens and trying some new things in the sketch book. It reminds me of some of Tim Sale’s artwork but not, perhaps, as clean with some of the lines.

The nearest I’ve got so far

So my new challenge to myself is to practice until I can create something similar freehand, just to prove to myself I can.

Shouldn’t be too difficult to make that leap from where I am – but then doing it consistently whole cloth from imagination rather than from a reference will be the step that will make me happier.

Knickers Everywhere

We’re starting to gear up for the Jubilee celebrations in the libraries, and I’ve just overheard two of my staff on the phone to each other assuring each other that they’re not copying each other and are doing quite different children’s events and crafts based around the book The Queen’s Knickers.

Independent invention is a wonderful thing, and in this case I know it’s been prompted by hardback deliveries this week of the same books to each library in the area.

At the library I’m currently basing myself from, the focus is on inviting people to decorate a template looking like a set of underwear with whatever colours, patterns, or cut out shapes and pictures they like. The resulting pieces are then being hung up on “washing lines” within the children’s library.

It’s all good fun, and I’ve only had to veto a couple of design choices suggested out of devilment by the staff as they make up some samples to start it all off. I look forward to seeing the collection grow…

And yes, I have contributed a design. Doesn’t seem to be up yet.

Ah Payday

I would say that I’m not sure why the last week has been a bit of a struggle with money but I can very firmly point to the two parking tickets I managed to earn this month as contributing to the pain. Never mind, lessons learned and all that.

It’s been a quiet couple of days, but I did go to Kingston yesterday to have a payday spend, looking at things for the flat. By far the best decision I made was to walk in to Not My Beautiful House, which is a pop up art gallery set up and run by students at Kingston University. They are focused on selling art by local people and I found a fair few things that caught my eye. In particular there were abstracts created by an ADHD support group, and I couldn’t resist

For £20 I had a new canvas piece for the hall, and I’ll definitely keep an eye on the place from now on.

Other than that it’s been quiet. Both the introverts have tucked themselves away so I may go out to the gym later – or spoil myself with a nice rioja – I haven’t decided yet.