Dude, Where’s My Weekend?

Our DDC session lasted an epic six hours this afternoon and evening and has left everyone drained. Jubilant, but exhausted as they beat the bad guys. Next week will serve as an epilogue of sorts to this arc.

I’ll write up the session itself tomorrow once I’ve had a chance to sleep. My body is still in reset mode ahead of next week’s challenges so most of the weekend has been spent curled up on the sofa or in bed. I’m reminded that in part this is down to vitamin D deficiency.

To be honest, I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable. I’m still very drained, but the spinning headaches and bone aches have faded, and I don’t feel like I’ve fallen down the stairs so much – so progress.

Also, the new car is nice. Be even better when the chassis registration goes through so I can charge it..!

Map – Mountain Camp

I’ve not played with Inkarnate for a while, so thought I’d have a play yesterday with their watercolour palette and stamps to start making some simple reusable maps. I’ll include a link to the published Inkarnate map which has the stamps as layers so that you can clone it and customise the original for your own needs.

Green and brown coloured overhead map with blue-watered stream flowing around a central island. Smaller islets are in the stream and there are markers for bushes dotted across the map, Five tents of different colours and sizes surround a campfire
Made with Inkarnate.com

I mostly made this up to have a default map for the DDC if they flee their current encounter and need somewhere to rest up – to that end there’s a tent for each character around the campfire. The idea is that the sparsely grassed islet and the banks around it are tucked away in a hidden dip in the mountains with a stream rushing around the raised area.

If you’re an Inkarnate user, here’s the link to the published map – https://inkarnate.com/m/kvDJqG-mountain-camp/

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.

What I’m Reading Today

Somehow I’ve got a lot sorted this week despite being on leave on the Monday. I’ll put it down to some selective delegation, some plate spinning, and asking awkward questions of the right people.

I’ve made myself start working through the TBR pile as there are several books that were gifts in there. The one I’m currently reading is Game Wizards: a history of the early days of Dungeons and Dragons and the fractious relationship between Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Its absolutely fascinating and at the same time a good one for putting down and picking up

Well worth picking up either if you’re interested in the early history of roleplay games or want an account of the early days of a business and the wrangles that overtook it. The writing style is engaging and clean, and I’m greatly enjoying it

Orcs on a Train

Despite the best efforts of the rain to knock out our Internet connection we spent this Father’s Day evening back in the world of Eberron for the further adventures of the DDC.

Our last session had seen dreams and prophecy mix with nightmares and a redemptive struggle that ended with Caeluma losing some of their infernal heritage and instead growing feathered wings.

By contrast this week saw a brief couple of hours layover at the Lightning Rail station at Passage, where Valenia got lucky and Thorin was discretely quizzed by an Inquisitor from the Silver Flame about the whereabouts of Thorin’s sister and any recent contacts.

And then the journey continued uneventfully for a couple more days. On the second night, a group of assassins landed on the roof of one of the carriages and made their way in. They began trying to separate the front of the train from the rest of it, and seemed intent on isolating and killing Thorin.

The surprise attack was thwarted by Thorin and Valenia both being light sleepers. Thorin grabbed his axe and charged down the orcs leading the assault, while valenia tackled another and kicked them from the train before they could disconnect the carriages.

The rest of the group was roused by the sounds of conflict, and battle was joined. One of the orc assassins dropped a magical darkness in the train’s corridor and a brief but frenzied exchange of blows followed…

And that’s where we left the cliffhanger…

A Little More Human

I’m ending up the weekend feeling a bit more rested and functional than I have in a while – I’ve even managed to have a bowel movement four days after the operation so I guess I can start acknowledging that I’m full of crap again 😉 I was starting to worry that my body was so traumatised by the whole experience that I would need to retrain myself.

The quiet worry of it all did end up giving me a headache this morning, I think it was made a bit worse by having agreed to run a one shot game this afternoon using the UnFamiliar kickstarter rules for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

I had only a vague idea of a plot, but had at least knocked up some characters guided by some prompts I’d put into the group chat yesterday.

I ended up pretty much winging it. The background has all four characters being ex-Familiars to a small number of spellcasters who had developed a spell between them to emancipate them.

Lady M played a flying squirrel who used to spy in aristocratic circles. Lady W played a Staffordshire cross that had ended up being a carer for their master in their dying days, the cub joined in with a boisterous frilled dinosaur that knew kung fu, and boy s played a fussy ex lab rat who had picked up alchemy and a few spells along the way.

Their tale involved rescuing a library researcher who had “fallen” into the delivery system and was now trapped in the stacks, locked in a cage as an unauthorised item. Shenanigans ensued.

So, an odd return to the tabletop, but the cub has expressed an interest in playing more, so who knows what will happen next…

Don’t Split The Party

We descended on boy s at the new flat today to eat, socialise and play D&D along with Mx W and Lady B who were staying the weekend there too. We were enticed there by the offer of a roast dinner, as if we needed any real excuse to go catch up.

Roast gammon, potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, pigs in blankets and Yorkshire puddings all featured – and with boy s finally having induction pots and pans he was able to whip up a grand feast while we nattered in the other room and I toyed with Syrinscape software to cue up a soundboard for the game.

I’ve subscribed to the site so have access to all the sound packs, and still feel like I’m only just scratching the surface of it. I happily recommend it for DMs looking for some extra atmosphere for sessions.

And what a session – heavy on the roleplay as the group attended the university’s winter fair and interacted with various oddballs and situations before finding that a sage was present who could help with their missing memories from their first adventure – if they could find him as he seemed to have disappeared from inside a locked room in the library’s guest house.

Well, one thing led to another, and now they’re trapped inside a mansion in an extradimensional pocket searching for clues for a keyword to unlock the doors and get home. So far they’ve fought a swarm of animated books, been surprised by a cat, and greeted by homonculi housekeepers. They also split up, and are scattered throughout the mansion. Normally this wouldn’t be a too much of a challenge but they were at a social event and so don’t have most of their adventuring equipment or weapons.

As a result, they’re a little jumpy. I’ve not even started playing spooky music. That said four pickled hands just scrambled out of a jar to attack the dwarf at the end of the session so here’s to the next time we all get together…

Polycule Assembled

It feels like it’s been a very long day – in no small part because I was sick again and with guts back in turmoil. Fortunately its been long enough that I was able to sort out the stool sample – and that’s an experience that little can prepare you for – and so was able to restart the medication to help settle it all back down.

Then we had everyone descend on the flat for our first tabletop game in ten weeks or so and that was a joy that filled the rest of the day with laughter and gossip. Everyone had downtime so we used that to catch up on what the adventurers had been up to.

Caeluma had been running their knitwear stall in the market and had been making a steady profit as winter nights rolled in and temperatures dropped.

Thorin had returned to his pitfighting career and been successful, but not without accusations of cheating that we worked into him adopting a heel persona for the ring.

Valenia commissioned an improvement for her bow and gathered some of the rarer ingredients in between babysitting Odif.

Coal disappeared for a few weeks and came back somewhat richer after a heist targeting a corrupt merchant.

Kerne buried themself in decoding the tomes retrieved from the coven of hags that detailed Kemsler’s travails and revealed that her sister Faye had been training under the hags before double crossing them at the behest of her Archfey patron: The Winter’s Knight.

And baby Odif? Well he’s growing fast and is no longer a toddler, being nearer in maturity to a human ten year old and showing a fascination in building traps and devices. Egged on by Tanglefinger the Boggle, there was hijinks and chaos for all.

Then we started the story, which led them to the Winter’s Fair at the University and the start of a number of small encounters – from Caeluma successfully arguing the interpretation of a mummers play with a professor of theology to Valenia duelling an Undying swordsman from the Elven Court of Aerenal and receiving a silvered scrimshaw knife as a gift.

We’ll see where we pick up in our next session. Hopefully we won’t have as long a break.

Oh, and it was of course Halloween so we threw sweets from the balcony for the organised kids walk on the estate – and hardly brained anyone in the process.

Tidying and Writing

It’s a rare day off, so of course I’m not able to sleep in as my back decided it was time to get moving. As a result I’ve been tidying up and cleaning the kitchen to reclaim some workspace real estate

Those who know my kitchen will now be wondering what sorcery this is. Those who know me will be wondering what is out of view either side of the picture. Those who are observant will be chuckling at the deliberately placed mug.

We ended up not having a game yesterday due to general health of various people, so I’ve taken the time to start writing threads and ideas for this next stage of adventures for the DDC. In the real world we’ve been going at this a little over a year – but we haven’t quite caught up to that in the game as I wanted to reflect roughly where we are in the seasons. It’s allowed me to introduce seasonal festivals as a marker of time in the game, and harvest and autumn are upon us.

It also allows me to start dropping in some Winter Is Coming jokes, as well as references to the Unseelie Winter’s Knight that they encountered at the end of the last (unstreamed) session that we had. It was one of those encounters where there was initial giggles at the name, and then the magic users started getting very serious and respectful as they made their arcana checks.

Kerne’s sister, it appears, is a Warlock pledged to the Archfey. That Archfey is the Winter’s Knight. There are dangling plothooks to write.

I was talking around this and related points while we were celebrating boy s’ birthday – about how we’re at a point where I can use character back stories to start introducing more mythic story elements among the day to day missions and calamities that the group involves themselves in. The most intense sessions have come where the players buy in on an emotional level to the storyline and its been wonderful to DM those and see my sparse notes brought to life and embellished upon.

So, that’s got me trying out plot hooks and elements in my little black book

Round The Table

One of the highlights of the weekend was a chance to get us all round the same table for a D&D session in person. I’d forgotten how much fun that is.

Because we had most of Sunday available, we ended up completing the group’s mission and formally ending year one of their adventures.

A polycule at play

Highlights of the session included a lightning-breathing clockwork chimera, cpr on baby odif, a flying incubus charming Valenia, and a coven of green hags using invisibility and their water breathing to use hit and run tactics.

Oh, and there was a brief tussle involving a dispel magic spell, two counterspells, two members of the DDC being turned into frogs, a flying carpet, and fireballs.

I had some very worried people round the table, and then the relief when they won made it all worth while. Next session: what comes next?