We are three hours from the return of the DDC – and I’ve just spent an afternoon crafting fun things for them to encounter if all goes well, or things go sideways. I’ve also just sent them a voice recording of Tanglefinger wondering where they are on our group chat. What’s the worst that could happen?
Meanwhile I’ve also been making some new design to go on tshirts – while they rework how they handle accepting new items and advertise them in different markets Amazon have throttled the number of new designs I can submit – but the link at the top of the page should show you the ever expanding collection of designs and items – go have a look, maybe you’ll see something you like the look of.
Oh, the message Tanglefinger sent? “They’re still not home, they’re still not home, where are they? They were only going down the pub! Hmm, well they’d better bring me some beer back is all I have to say.”
Come join us this evening on www.twitch.tv/jedileah at about 7.30pm to find out what happens next – at about the same time that I do.
Valenia dreams of the hunt. She dreams of tracking her prey with Raine at her side, and her pack close by. It is a simple dream. It is a comfort dream, and it is a dream she shares with Raine. Their dreams are one, with visions overlapping and complementing as they close in on their quarry. They sidestep traps and treacherous terrain. They leap across rivers and weave through trees until they see their target. They are with someone, someone who is bent with teeth at their prey’s throat and who locks eyes with them as they approach.
Odif dreams in shades of grey and flashes of colour. The kindly dragon, the furry man, the wolf woman, the horned cuddles are all there. He is happy.
Caeluma sees their infernal father reaching for them and the holy symbol on their chest. His presence fills their lungs with brimstone, and leaches the strength from their limbs. In a cage at his belt Caeluma sees their mother. Beside it is an empty one with their name on it. As the demonic claw reaches for them, a bright hand intercepts, pushing the infernal one away. Gerlon the Morrowheart, Caeluma’s celestial patron, moves between them and forces the demonic presence back. The Morrowheart’s feathered wings spread to match Caeluma’s father’s leathern ones and the stench of brimstone is replaced with clean summer breezes and the promise of rest. Caeluma wakes, Shriken nestled against them in the shade of a tree, and a single enormous golden feather as long as his forearm resting on their chest.
Kerne dreams of sisters – the Unburned Child and the Feytouched Warlock – and of her own flight from angry and scared villagers. She sees her younger sister learn to fade from sight and move unchallenged, aiding those in need. Her older sister walks in living landscapes and eternal dusk where time flows strangely in all directions. In a hut covered by snow, Kerne sees her brewing potions under the watchful eyes of hunched and dark eyed women. Kerne looks down at her own scaled hands and sees coiling serpentine energies running through her flesh, remaking her from moment to moment. A butterfly lands on her claw, and is still there when she opens her eyes.
Shriken dreams of flying. He dreams of catching up eating butterflies that have prettier wings than his. He dreams of breathing his breath of happiness in everyone’s faces while they sleep to bring them pleasant dreams. He dreams of sleeping curled round his master’s shoulders on a cold night beneath the trees. Shriken thinks he’s dreaming – but he’s never really been able to tell the difference.
The game returned last night and – what do you mean there was a missing week? Can’t be! Well, time does flow strangely in the Feywild, so maybe it spilled over into our world a little.
Anyway, a Midsummer’s Night’s set of dreams got underway – also known as the DM having an opportunity to throw foreshadowing, prophecy, insight, and just plain teasing into the mix. It provoked thought and controversy, but also some chuckles – and then they went on their way along the path and found themselves back in Eberron in the swamps.
The obligatory battle came courtesy of more clockwork horrors made by the artificer they’ve been pursuing – in this case spiders and a troll – and these were relatively swiftly dispatched, but not without some serious injuries along the way.
I’ll do some additional posts detailing some of the dreams, as I rather like some of the writing.
I’ve enjoyed starting to stretch my range in the Sunday games with the voices I use as the DM – my whole style has become more descriptive over the years anyway; but there’s something about the performative aspect of our game as we stream it that seems to be inspiring me to playfulness.
One of the recurring voices that I now have to keep remembering is that of Tanglefinger the Boggle. I love the reaction I get from people when he appears in a scene. While thinking about how I make his distinctive sound, I realised that there are some physical motions I do to make him come to life.
First, I hunch my shoulders and lower my head a bit. I wrinkle my nose up, and draw my upper lip back to reveal my canines, and just let his snide, shifty, nasal snark roll out but not before taking a swift breath so he sounds slightly breathless.
If there’s a character he’s based on, it would be Kreacher the house elf but with less condescension and more playful sass and misdirection. I vary his pitch between stronger presentation when responding to people, and then semi subvocalised asides as he adds things sort of under his breath to see if he can sneak amendments to instructions.
Tanglefinger’s a chaotic creature of fairy stock born from the loneliness of a child, and embodies mischief. He’s a great excuse to be utterly outrageous.
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.
Another fun games night just finished, continuing on the DDC’s pursuit of a missing alchemist which has led them to helping sprites with a spider and ettercap problem in return for passage to the Feywild.
We had a lot of character moments too, with Valenia assisting dryads in repairing damaged forest land, and young baby Odif spontaneously beginning to crawl, and to begin to talk.
As everyone has generally been speaking a mishmash of Common, Sylvan, and Draconic around him, the baby kobold is mostly calling people and objects by single-syllable names to accommodate his jaw structure. This can’t possibly end in tears…
Another great session with the DDC this evening that started with sky pirates and ended with lamenting fey at a crash site. I’ve always tried to keep player agency to the fore when running games, not always successfully I’ll admit, but this week is one that rewarded the approach.
The DDC is at a level now where they are starting to be established adventurers, and are facing bigger adventures. Encounters that might have overwhelmed them now tend to merely raise pulse rates rather than induce cardiac arrests. What is especially rewarding though is that the characters are learning and evolving, and demonstrating empathy with events and creatures encountered.
As an example, they found the burned out crash site of the skyship they’ve been searching for: a blasted crater where once a proud copse of trees had stood deep in the forest.
Investigating it brought out the maddened dryads whose trees had been destroyed in the crash. A traditional adventuring encounter would have led to a pitched battle with the grieving fey. In this instance though the group refused to fight and with words and some lucky persuasion rolls were able to talk the dryads into pausing at least.
Which is when sprites appeared, and offered a deal, and we ended the session.
When the dwarven Barbarian puts his axe down and refuses to fight because “they’ve every right to be angry” you know there’s something going right with your game.
I’m having a quiet day, and being productive at the same time. I had my second covid jab this morning (Astra-Zenica) and so far there’s no aches or pains so I’m just keeping hydrated and will take some paracetamol later if anything starts up. At worst it should feel a bit like the flu if last time was anything to go by.
In the meantime I’ve written the introduction to tomorrow’s game:
And so that’s one less thing to make up on the fly tomorrow. Now I’m going to go and prepare some spare encounters and maps that I can throw into the mix if the game goes in strange directions.
As ever I’m using a combination of Roll20 for the virtual tabletop, and dndbeyond.com for the creatures, people, information, and tricks of the trade, so I shall probably get lost for a while delving into lore and obscure rules for a while…
The last three or four episodes of ‘Well That Just Happened have seen my usual introduction spiel and recap take a more fluid feel through the simple change of my actually writing it out in longhand in my DM’s journal ahead of schedule.
Before this last month or so I’d just been winging it with the occasional glance at my notes from the previous session to remind me of names and places.
It’s the only part of the show that is scripted. I welcome viewers to the show and now include the regular introduction:
“Hello, and welcome to Well That Just Happened: a very queer adventure; where a tired and geeky polycule makes dad jokes and plays some Dungeons and Dragons.”
I then quickly go round the table to let people introduce themselves and their character (and mention what food and snacks they have) before making any announcements and then launching into the recap – a sort of ‘Previously On’ segment as described above.
I started doing it on a whim one afternoon when bored, but have found it a good structured way to get the session ready and players in the right frame of mind – hopefully it viewers find it useful to.