Housebuilding and Tabletop Shenanigans

The D&D session on Sunday was a quiet one with two main goals – to allow the group to finish outfitting the house their adventures have now bought outright, and to ensure that everyone had transferred their character sheets to http://www.dndbeyond.com and installed the Beyond20 extension in their browsers.

Why? Well the character sheets and their management is more user friendly than Roll20 in our opinion. They’re especially more useful for newer players in terms of managing items, actions, and spells. I’d found them so much more intuitive while playing with my other group that I suggested a sidestep.

The browser extension makes for a seamless transfer of rolls to the virtual tabletop in Roll20 during the game, and has some nice configuration options that allow some tweaking along the way. I’ve had to shell out a bit of money to rebuy some source books and upgrade my monthly subscription, but in support of a regular group I really don’t mind that.

All the tests seem to be working, so now I’m fleshing out some encounters using the tools available on the site, and we’ll see where the group wanders next.

Fairhaven Moments

Sunday’s game was quiet, but some important foundation-laying happened, and a lot of laughter. There are some interesting mechanics in 5th Edition to support the GM in arbitrating Downtime activities, and with the adventurers finding their feet it was a good excuse to play along and add some colour

Caeluma spent a lot of time knitting a chunky “Jumper of Friendliness” for the warforged urchin the group adopted. He in turn has been hanging around with a bemused air to see what happens next. A beanie hat is apparently the next project.

Valenia and Thorin spent the week carousing and, between sessions in the pub, teaching Thorin to read. They’re not sure how, but after one particularly black-out night they seem to have earned the nickname of “benchslayers”. Nobody will tell them why.

Kerne stuck to studying the texts retrieved from their last adventure, as well as doing some ancillary research suggested by their contents.

All well, so far, and then the group decided that a good use of their haul would be to rent out a house together, rather than continue living in an Inn. After some searching, they settled on a tall house about half an hour from the university in one of the nicer suburbs.

I got them to suggest some street names on a grid map that I’d made earlier, and will this week be fleshing out some of the local landmarks for them to explore. There is one house on the map that is absolutely not a brothel. A house of negotiable affection providing reasonably priced love, perhaps, but not a brothel. Honest.

Frantic Scribbling

…That’s what I should be doing to revamp and rewrite and prepare for my next D&D session. Instead I’m letting the wheels spin in my head, and mulling over scenario hooks. In some ways there’s a soft reboot going on, and a change of emphasis, and thats in no small part to listening to my players. Many of them haven’t played much, if any, D&D before.

As we’ve weaved through both traditional and non traditional story elements they’ve definitely started to have a clearer image of what they enjoy. Its not all been plain sailing, but I’m intrigued by some of the ideas floating around the table now.

So we’re back i think to some more episodic material where role-playing leads the direction, but at the same time I’m dropping elements in to see who bites at what. They’ve decided dungeon delving isn’t their thing right now, but the current mix is hinting at academic skullduggery, organised and disorganised crime, and defending the downtrodden.

Oh, and a faerie dragon. What’s the worst that could happen?

And More Gaming

A whole weekend of dungeons and dragons? No wonder I’m a bit tired today. After some small shuffling around and soft rebooting to accommodate schedules and health, the Sunday group that I GM spent the evening learning why there were less pigeons around their local pub than usual, and running an errand on behalf of a fellow faculty member. A gargoyle had taken up residence on the balcony of an alchemist.

With the owner out of town, the group were asked to take a bunch of herbs and spices to put in the furnace in the owner’s laboratory to drive the gargoyle away.

Arriving at the address provided, they found Freshers Week in full flow – likened to being almost as quiet as Newcastle City Centre on a Saturday night – and got distracted as a pickpocket stole the key to the house.

Now, I had intended the thief to be a one-shot, literally throwaway npc, but having captured the warforged rogue, Caeluma healed him and adopted him. Knitting was perpetrated.

The butler of the house had been badly injured by the gargoyle, so was unable to draw the bolts inside the front door, so the group instead used a cellar entrance and the keys and their university identification papers to bypass the security construct guarding it. Evidence found along the way suggested that the owner of the house was involved in some kind of dodgy payments, and the theory was formed that the gargoyle may not be the aggressor here.

Convinced that the gargoyle was there because of something the missing alchemist had done, Caeluma then attempted to talk it out of remaining, pouring their heart into an impassioned speech.

Unfortunately the real gargoyle was perched on the roof above them, and it knocked the statue that Caeluma had been addressing flying as it swooped on the group. After a brief struggle, despite attempts to subdue it, they were forced to kill the gargoyle. It shattered into thousands of pieces, hissing something about Dhassk.

Within the kiln, they found a small leathery egg, which hatched as Caeluma lifted it free. A small butterfly-winged dragon broke out of the shell, and instantly imprinted on Caeluma. There may have been tears.

Where this goes next week, I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.

Gaming Occurred

So yesterday I was able to escape the curse of the eternal DM and take part in a game of dungeons and dragons as a player for the first time in years. After some initial tech fiddling to run Teams privately on one of my laptops and my phone, and to link Roll20 and DnD Beyond on the other via a chromium browser it all went very smoothly in a five hour session from about 6.30

As a setting, it took place in a slightly tongue-in-cheek Pirates of the Caribbean style environment as I joined a group consisting of many people I’d never met before.

I’d been invited by the Ladies H, and had met our DM once at MCM London last year, but everyone else was an unknown; so my anxious disaster-brain fretted in the hours leading up to getting started. If you’ve ever played with a new group, you’ll know the feeling, and therefore also the relief of a friendly inclusion.

My usual name blindness means I’ve already forgotten most people’s real names, let alone their characters, but I did at least remember to take a few notes:

And I still forgot who everyone is

We shall resume the game sometime around the middle of next month.

This has been a positive thing, and I’ll thank my brain to remember it.

Cutest Session Ever

The DDC continued their adventures on Sunday night, continuing with a cautious approach verging on paranoia. Every monastic cell in the abandoned temple was empty, but the kitchen/refectory brought a new surprise: the zombified remains of ancient goblins going through the motions of preparing meals, serving them and clearing them away – unheeding of the fact that there was nobody there, and all the supplies and foodstuffs had long spoiled or rotted away.

With many groups you’d be forgiven for expecting urgent battlecries, but instead the group watched for the moment as Caeluma hugged one and helped it set the table. They recorded what runes and artifacts they could see, and then carefully retreated, closing the door behind them.

And then, because they’re not stupid, they barricaded the door and wrote Dead Inside, Don’t Open – or was it Dead Don’t Inside Open?

Then they took a short rest before trying one of the bigger doors that looked like a grand entrance – that instead led to a corridor and the looming shapes of mansized and roughly man-shaped mushrooms lurching towards them with hands outstretched. With lightning reflexes the group downed one of the figures before sprayed spores stunned the ferocious dwarf fighter and one of the creatures pummelled him lightly in retaliation.

And then another set of spores sprayed out and got a voice speaking in their heads, wondering who they were and what had the myconids ever done to them? Some hasty de-escalation later, including some druidcrafted repairs and healing, and hostilities were called off. The myconids had been trapped in the temple space below while investigating what they called a wound in the world on behalf of the Gatekeeper Druidic faction. A group of humans wearing the symbology of The Mockery had invaded the buried temple on their own quest for The Egg, and been driven off by the mushroom men.

Despite the plethora of fungal and mycelial puns and jokes, an alliance was agreed to deal with what they called The Wound, with one of the myconids leading the group back to a room they had previously barricaded due to the red light shining from under it. The rest of the myconids stayed to contain “the wandering flame” – whatever that is…

There was a lot of laughter and soppiness this session – along with calls for Caeluma to put the zombie goblin back down and to knit the mushroom men some scarves. A fun evening.

Oh? Sunshine? Again?

I thought we’d had all the good weather we were going to have now that people have been out and about more. I am pleasantly surprised therefore to have clear blue skies and sunshine all around as I go to pick up my prescription renewals.

Last night’s DDC game was fun for me, if no one else, in that it allowed me no small amount of GM sadism. The group is still investigating the buried remains of an old goblin temple, and had discovered several very old sets of remains from what looked like a pitched battle.

Beyond an open archway was a large room with benches along the walls and an enormous carpet that smelled awful. Rather than just take this in as a bit of scene dressing, there then followed real fear as they tried to investigate for traps, or some nefarious purpose to the carpet. At one point they thought the carpet might leap into life and try to eat them.

It was only when someone tried to flip the carpet, and the corner tore off wetly in their hand, that they accepted that their GM had been telling the truth the whole time – that it was just a carpet and there were no traps.

Okay, I may have used the “are you sure?” and “which corner are you reaching for?” approach, but I think I have done my job well in instilling caution in my players. I’m sure the next carpet will be just as innocent.

Would I lie to you?

DDC Shenanigans

Life continues to ebb and flow in its complexities, but the DDC continues to be a creative and entertaining source of comfort, support, and humour in all the oddness around us.

Our latest set of things has been creating quizzes and games to play through shared screens in Discord. Whoever is running the quiz sets up a PowerPoint document with questions and answers revealed in turn, while everyone works together to find the answers. Mre B created the template based on their running similar things with their friends, and myr s has taken up the baton to create rounds tailored to our various strengths and foibles.

Roughly once a week we gather of an evening to play. We start with general levity, and yet despite there not being any competition between players, there’s soon a very serious air as people try to identify TV theme tunes from sight reading music, interpret kinks by their formal clinical names, identify pop culture characters from pets dressed up as those characters, and puns based on shows where one character has been changed – and that was just for starters.

Lateral thinking, chat, and everyone trying to resist googling any answers – a fun combination that is proving as much a draw as the weekly Dungeons and Dragons session.

Oh, and then we used Roll20 to make a Trivial Pursuit board and grabbed four different sets to make a monstrous random hodgepodge of topics from Star Wars, Stranger Things, Harry Potter, and a general family edition. That got very silly, very fast. We’ll have to do that again…

A Cracking Session

We got back into the swing of things last night in D&D – with a mix of derring-do and investigation, but also tears and laughter in moments of heartfelt roleplay where these new adventurers began to come to terms with the harshness of the life that they had chosen.

Chief among the causes of their introspection was that the stories and songs they had been raised on didn’t talk often about what it felt like to have to make life and death decisions over their friends. The fighting had been sudden and unexpected and nearly seen two of their number cut down in the first moments of their career. Briar, as a child of retired adventurers in particular, was shocked at the realisation that these feelings must have been felt by their parents.

Your Friendly DM

There was also concern about who or what the undead had been before becoming what they were. What lives had they lived? Had they had friends and family? What had led them to die and then be so darkly reborn?

Others in the group took to singing and drinking and dancing to cope – celebrating their lives and raising the spirits of all around them. For some there was study, or the quiet discipline of knitting quietly and watching everyone else.

The former introspection was roleplayed beautifully and brought tears to people’s eyes, the latter celebration turned into a celebration that had everyone in stitches with laughter. An overnight recovery for the adventurers and players – but with the knowledge that a dark mystery remained to be explored with the discovery of an overgrown staircase leading deeper into the hill.

Game Night Returns

Well, that happened… That’s actually the title of the game that I’m running and it seems entirely appropriate for a heavily roleplay-orientated group with similarly dry senses of wit as my own.

The mix of character personalities bubbles gently as we have a mix of introverts and extroverts at play – fortunately the most extrovert of them is Lord S, who as an opera performer delights in elevating everyone around him. Taking the royal of a flamboyant rogue of a noble halfling, he took us on a good five minute babble about the difference between asking someone nicely to do something and asking someone nicely to do something.

My notes on the session are as follows:

Key events – from memory: breakfast included another session of catching practice, where Caeluma switched up to using daggers rather than their tail for catching apples, and everyone thought a fight was about to break out. Alfonso and Briar took the stage to warm applause, but only after Alfonso nearly had a breakdown trying to explain to Caeluma the difference between asking nicely and asking nicely. The Secretary of Orcish Antiquities let people pet her Iron Defender “George” and her pet dinosaur enjoyed being snuck all the treats.

University IDs were handed out, a formal signing of the DDC charter happened, and a job was provided as a test run for the group to investigate a cave/ruin recently uncovered on the Thrane border by bad weather. Return tickets for the Lightning Rail to Fort Light have been provided.

Then there was a bit of a training session, first with a warforged ex-soldier called Speedy, and then with skeletons. The match was called after a minotaur skeleton KO’d Briar and sent them flying literally ten foot through the air.

We ended the session with a cut back to the bar and everyone covered in comedy bandages and moving in some discomfort to order dinner.

And then we mostly stayed up chatting until nearly four in the morning.

Dearie, dearie me…