Spiders and Manticores and… the Feywild?

The game last night went really well, keeping a pace and direction that many, I suspect, would see as traditional adventuring. We completed the fight that we’d had to leave halfway through last week against spider and spider-themed opponents and then as they pressed on, the DDC found their way barred by a manticore and a wyvern.

Under other circumstances this might have felt like a random set of monsters, but a bit of flavour (branded sigils relating to the current BBEG) led to a feeling among the players that these were deliberate attempts to block their path

Just As Planned

The last few weeks has generally been a series of medium difficulty encounters in quick succession to both use up limited resources and spells, and to reinforce that the adventurers are now pretty experienced and competent.

It seemed only right, with the timing of the session, to therefore allow them to rest in a quiet bower in the Feywild before closing in on The Coven of the Blinded Eye. They’ve just been warned that approaching the hags will take them through the territory of a wicked dragon, so there’s that to look forward to.

Good Game Night and Merch

Last night’s game went really well, with only minor fudging by yours truly to shift things along. We completed the adventure started for the charity stream with kobolds defeated and a hidden sub-basement discovered and cleared of menaces.

The whole thing is still available to watch on www.twitch.tv/princessleah1980 and will no doubt end up on YouTube at some point too.

I’ve just been absolutely exhausted all day, so just as well it’s been a day off. I may have spent a couple of hours this afternoon catnapping.

Oh, and there are some new designs up on Amazon UK:

We have “Phoenix Memories” available as a tshirt at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0929SMR7G/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glc_fabc_7H0A2DSK83P6H84KKVYM

We also have a “Shimmering Rainbow” tshirt: at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0929WRWDS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glc_fabc_AGMN809HDBH6XSGBH7SG

And last but not least we have the DDC zipped hoodie available as well: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0927CX3NR/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glc_fabc_E8V2J93CXA2QK643FDNE

I recently got promoted up another tier for Amazon Merch, so shall be having fun making designs available as we go along

The DDC Game Design Theme

We had a great session today, bringing to a head the mystery of where Coal had disappeared to and what had happened to his former compatriots. Last week had brought the group to a war damaged slum, and the zombified remnants of the gang, and a wight that controlled them.

And then this week, as they thinned the waves of zombies out, the wall next to them came down revealing a roughly rebuilt Warforged Titan – a towering engine of destruction from the Last War – which had Coal patched and embedded in it as a jury-rigged power source.

And they fought among the ruins, fighting their fears for Coal, and were triumphant. The wight escaped, but they were able to rescue their companion. A huge victory, all the better for the emotional investment for everyone.

And it’s those connections I’ve been watching build, and encouraging as we go that rises to the queer experience of this set of adventures. There’s an underlying theme of the consciously built family in place of their various fractured backgrounds.

All the characters are outsiders and have bonded together in mutual support and love, but they are adventurers first and foremost. The characters original backgrounds are now being developed with new connections, and I’m enjoying weaving those into the story and hearing my players reactions.

Hearing my description of Coal being literally forcibly enfolded and assimilated into this relic of the military and wars he had fought so hard to reinvent himself away from, there were gasps around the table. There may also have been joking threats from myr s of what might happen if Coal died.

Music to my ears. Passion and determination fought fear and desperation this evening for stakes that felt important to everyone around the table. The discovered family fought the clutches of the abusive past, and won.

Maps

I said I’d get started, and so I did. In the Games and Gaming section, reachable from the menu at the top of the page, there are now links to maps suitable for use in virtual tabletops. Most are pretty bare to allow for variety in setting further props and furniture tokens, and are accompanied by notes for intended or past use.

The links to various past and present games are also there for delving into for ideas and narratives.

Tug of War

Last night’s session was great fun and a needed quiet moment between adventures. Lady M wasn’t feeling well, so having a session based around down time activities and a local festival meant she could duck out as needed.

Research on their attackers suggested they’d been sent by rivals from Morgrave University: treasure hunters called Mrs Friendly and Mr Nice.

The former is known as a warlock whose patron is one of the Archfae, with a reputation as a master of disguise. The latter is a goblin warrior obsessed with the culture of his Dhaakani forebears. The pair had apparently been in search of the goblin temple that the DDC had explored, and now hold a grudge.

The festival itself kept everyone amused. Caeluma knitted items for local children; Valenia tried out the archery butts. Coal was enticed into dancing, and after initial stumbles became the toast of the event. (Caeluma was moved to tears). Thorin got into an arm wrestling competition and won. There was food, drink, and afternoon teas – and then we had what turned into the highlight of the session: the pub tug of war.

The DDC was equally split between the two teams, and a series of contested strength check successes were required to win. It was close-fought, with Valenia and Thorin on one team, Coal and Caeluma on the other. In the end, with much cheering and relief, Thorin and Valenia’s team won.

It was utterly exhausting, but great fun for everyone.

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.