DDC Traps and Tribulations

I was just going back over my notes from the last couple of sessions and admiring how the group has both started to cohere and to realise that they are still learning the ropes, so to speak.

Delving down into damp lower levels was at least a break from the winter snows that had begun to fall in the morning.  The first chamber was marked by a series of statues of ancient deities of sky, earth, and stone and Wall paintings of both Dhakaani (ancient goblin) pastoral scenes and of the passage of their souls to the afterlife of Dolhurr.

There were also four human skeletons in the chamber, each missing their hands in what looked like executions. The heavy doors leading further were sealed with chains and a massive lock. Runes in Abyssal were written on the seal praising the Dragon Below. With little else to go on, a mixture of lock picking and brute force soon saw the way open.

The noise attracted the reanimated skeletons of the goblin guards, but this time the group was able to despatch them quickly with only one minor hiccup. This came when the Dragonborn Kerne chose to breath poison on the skeletons, only to find that they were immune.

The weapons of the guards were made of byeshk metal, a rare ore that made weapons capable of driving off creatures from Xoriat and so these were quickly distributed among the group, just in case. A quiver of magical arrows was also found, and the shafts of bone and obsidian were divided up among the archers in the group.

This just left a strange lever that didn’t seem to have any noticeable effect despite resistance when pulled and some doors that opened up into a wide hallway with more skeletons near the far end against one of the walls.

In their eagerness to investigate, two of the group set off a swinging spiked bar that swept across the hall before resetting. Being hit by it didn’t kill them, but did make them realise what had broken the bodies they found themselves scattered among.

Yikes

There then followed a period of searching for the trigger and how to circumvent setting the trap off again that led to a series of assisted acrobatic and athletic maneuvers to cross the hallway to relative safety, where the group huddled up against the opposite door to catch their breath and mend their wounds.

Things learned: poisoning undead rarely works, the effects of levers aren’t always obvious, and always check for traps in entry corridors.

Who knows what discoveries they’ll make this week?

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…

The Unexpected AMA

We did a thing this weekend, quite unexpectedly, when Lady B messaged the polycule to ask if we’d be willing to gather on Discord and be part of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on her Facebook stream.

As followers and supporters of her series of streams about her experiences of transition, we of course agreed. A couple of hours and some muffled stubbing of toes later, we were gathered round our respective devices for what was intended to be a quick half hour that turned into an hour and a half of us spinning off on tangents and laughing a lot.

I’ll add a link below to the streams recording – but I must add that the first five to ten minutes is completely silent due to a technical hitch known as “flicking the wrong switch” in Lady B’s kit.

Nevertheless, it was fun, and a good chance to talk a bit about who we are and how we relate, and our thoughts on being the oddballs that we are. So, enjoy the stream.

New Player Ready

So we’re spending this evening mostly helping Lady W set up a character to join in the DDC adventures. We’re having a quiet evening as people are just feeling a bit wiped out, and it came up in conversation that she had felt unable to join the group as she hadn’t been around for the first session.

We immediately disabused her of this idea. As Lady W has never played D&D before, we’ve been making use of the Roll20 Charactermancer and a copy of the Player’s Handbook to help her create a new persona.

There is much jollity, silliness, discussion, and explanation going on – and therefore a good wind-down to the week. It may not be the D&D session I’d planned, but I think its the one we collectively need today

The Importance of Preparation

I spend a lot of time, even if only inside my own head sometimes, preparing material for my tabletop game. Sometimes its thinking of names, or external events for the players to react to. For the most part I’ve tended to think on a mechanic level of what rules to brush up on, or the best tactics to pose a suitable challenge during the game.

What I’d only ever really fleetingly touched on before, however, was open up some of that preparation to the players. In particular, I’m thinking about the bonds and history between them. I’ve never been one for the trope of “you’ve all met down the pub and a mysterious stranger offers you a job” but it has tended to be brief discussions during character creation.

That’s easier to do with everyone around the table than remotely of course, which is why I welcomed Mre B’s suggestion for a formal session zero to kick off the new group. It wasn’t a concept I’d ever encountered before, but a quick read through suggestions online and through a comprehensive guide sheet that they pulled together firmed up the belief that it was a good idea.

I’ll be putting together a page under the Gaming section based on the document Mre B composed. Essentially though the session is not just one of working out links and shared history between characters, but also of ensuring respect at a player level to settle the ground rules of play and engagement.

I’m paraphrasing and simplifying wildly for the sake of brevity here, but it was extremely useful as we had a number of people who didn’t know each other that well, and who were also relative newcomers to tabletop gaming. No other game I’ve run has had quite that combination.

It sparked, and has continued to spark, a wealth of role-playing material and plot hooks, and laid the foundations for one of the most fun and diverse groups I’ve DM’d for in quite some time.

Generosity

Lady B has been secretly assembling a range of gifts to distribute among the DDC – literally, as she has a 3D printer. Today a care package arrived.

Our friends know us so well

Both Lady M and I received a prison for misbehaving dice, a pedestal for favoured dice, and a nameplate. The vox also contained a dice-rolling tray, an Eberron DM shield, a card game, and a glass bottle with four red dice in it, representing a potion of healing. Our geekery levels just jumped significantly.

We really are very lucky, and its been a lovely bonus as we head into the weekend.

The Great Cosplay Punch-Up

One of the things I am taking encouragement from is that large numbers of my fellow geeks and cosplayers aren’t letting the lockdown get in the way of community, support, or even common sense. There are increasing numbers of videos doing the rounds of showing people’s makeup, or cosplays, and even stuntwork – and so we decided to pick up on it and combine all three. Its by no means a unique challenge – as of the time of writing I know of at least one other group who have released on – but with 46 different cosplayers presenting 51 different costumes, we think this is the biggest one so far. The original facebook post by TJC Cosplays can be found here, but I’ve uploaded a high definition copy here too:

Hope you enjoy, if only for the sight of me getting punched in the face to start it all off.

The full list of cosplayers and their instagram pages is at the end of the video – and here’s a copy to save you scrolling through – go have fun looking these people up as they’re an amazing bunch of people and I’m very proud to have been able to join in on all this together with them:

We’re also planning a follow up with new characters and extra faces, and I’ll post updates and results here as that takes off

Sinuses and Silliness

Today’s weather has been all over the place between rain and sunshine, and as a result my sinuses have been sore and irritated as the air pressure and pollen have combined.

Most of my messaging stream is full of chatter for the various video projects I’ve chipped into at the moment, and its probably no surprise to hear that it then prompted me to do some extra cosplay silliness. To that end I enlisted Lady M to variously hold props, camera, or pose while I grabbed a mask to do a casual lockdown Michael Myers on our balcony.

Our neighbours on the estate seemed only moderately bemused as they walked by; but no one called the police so I can only assume they were just shrugging their shoulders and hoping we’d tidy up after ourselves.

Now the only problem is that my head and hands still smell of the latex of the mask four hours later, so Im off to have a shower now.

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.

And then…claws…

I’ve been thinking about doing a version of Wolverine based on the film Logan, possibly crossing over with the comicbook Old Man Logan – after all I’ve got the grey coming through in the beard and am nery twice the age if some of the cosplayers around me.

So I bit the bullet this week and after asking around for recommendations bought a set of claws that would be Con safe as they’re made of plastic. A couple of days later, they arrived:

Nose picking not recommended

I think I’m going to have fun with these… oh, the bruising is makeup rather than Lady M attacking me for making her jump with moving so quietly around the place. I quickly threw this test together after filming for the Nerd OD project. Not pictured: the grey tracksuit bottoms I was wearing to slob around the flat…