Unused Scenario – The Frustrated Sculptors

I published a map yesterday, based around the idea of a wintery landscape claimed by a couple of stone giants who were perhaps not the best at crafting and sculpting and so had gone looking for quiet in the wilderness to try and find inspiration. There have been some very nice comments from people, both here and on Reddit – I posted the map in r/Inkarnate – which have put a smile on my face. I’m easily pleased.

Anyway, I’ve been toying with the concept a while as a potential encounter, and while I could crowbar it into the current story arc of the DDC, it feels a bit crowded already. So, instead, to match the map from yesterday, here are the HeroForge portraits and tokens and some ideas of how the encounter could be run.

Meet Modjard the Quiet and Midjeed the Lesser, brothers from a reclusive tribe of Stone Giants who live in the Blackcap Mountains. Their people love working stone and crystals to create masterpieces that are rarely seen by the surface world, let alone the wider world. As lesser talents among their folk, Modjard and Midjeed were therefore overlooked and generally not given much attention and so they decided to risk working on the surface to see if that brought better inspirations.

Sadly, the brothers have got a long way to go – they have a certain rough talent, but they will need to work hard to hone it, and they are not patient. Their attempts to create new statues or installations tend to end up flawed, or even fall apart – and the brothers are prone to violent fits of rage in their frustrations.

When encountered then, the adventurers are most likely to be drawn to them by their cries of anger and the sounds of things breaking. Their latest statue has just collapsed all over their supplies and the brothers are blaming each other for the disaster. Modjard blames Midjeed for making the ankles too thin. Midjeed blames Modjard for being sloppy and leaving their supplies flung in a corner behind the workshop area rather than stacking them in the cave as told earlier.

When they spot the adventurers, this can then go several ways. Things could well start getting thrown, first at each other and then at these intruders. Alternatively, depending on how they’re approached, they might start asking the group’s opinion on who is to blame, and shenanigans then proceed from there. The brothers are ordinary Stone Giants – they live a simple life but other than their blind spot of blaming each other for their own shortcomings, they are otherwise quite perceptive. Who knows, they may even hold local lore that the intruders need?

DDC – Draconic Prophecies 8

More cryptic musings from the minds of the dragons of Eberron – and hints of themes and events on the horizon. As ever, as we get to things these could be about I’ll update this entry with what happened in game.

The Axe of the Stone breakers shall smite the plans of Winter – though who can tell where long steps lead? Sweet victory and sorrow, though none can tell the balance while hags plot and plans bubble.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 142, verses 7-8

A reference to this arc’s end game, and the stakes and decisions to be weighed.

If the moons’ dark passing sees not the path to EverIce, then Xoriat’s grip fails and Khyber’s coils shift in humiliation

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 105, verse 10

Words scribbled may gain response, but who are the writers and who the readers? Joy unbridled or fear regained may all hinge on a single lie

The Dracinic Prophecies – Scale 901, verses 2-3

HeroForge – Rescued Dwarves

The DDC have been making friends recently as they look to build a militia to help reclaim Thorin’s home. They have been successful in reaching out to both the major groups in the area – the werewolves that have been brought into line by Karkanna, and the refugees who had taken shelter and fortified Flower Town. As part of my fleshing out the leading personalities in those two groups therefore, I’ve gone back to HeroForge to put some faces to the names.

Here then are Charis Amberley of Flower Town – a retired ranger who fought alongside Thorin during the Last War and helped organise the militias that they put together – and Ennis Amberhammer, a forge master of the Clan who specialises in making armour (and who is Thorin’s cousin)

Charis had organised the refugees and created defences so that they could defend against night-time raids by the daelkyr forces or their duergar allies – and it was he who first recognised Thorin when he appeared at the outer barricades. He brought the townsfolk round to listen and has proposed the beginnings of some strategies – but bringing him round to accepting the help of their cursed cousins was a hard sell.

Ennis is still battling to subdue the beast that the curse has unleashed, but he has enough control of himself to have begun organising the defences of the shrine within which Karkanna has made her lair. He is not a strategist, but he knows how to build solid bulwarks and will follow the Amberhammer heirs wherever they lead.

These tokens and portraits are available to freely download and use in your own online tabletops – the HeroForge website has some amazing options for making your own, and the subscription model is well worth looking at if you are running your own game just for the token making alone.

More NPCs and oddities to come

Map – Forest Arena

This is a quick bonus map I’ve made this afternoon on the Inkarnate website as a flurry of relatively generic battlemaps that I can plonk down as needed. With the DDC campaign being fairly footloose in its direction – or at least in how they get to key components – I’m building up a library of maps in different styles.

This one is meant to be a natural depression in a forest area with two main pathways out. High banks and foliage limit other routes out, but also allow for different elevations in any encounters. In addition, there are fallen tree logs, and a titanic broken sword as a hint of mysteries past or encounters to come depending on mood.

Overhead battlemap depicting a forest clearing surrounded by high banks forming a natural arena with two main routes in as well as two very small alternatives. Three fallen tree trunks lie across the brush in the clearing as well as a gigantic broken sword that is far too large for anyone  barring a giant to be able to use.
Made with Inkarnate.com

If you want to make use of this map, just save the graphic below – or follow the link to https://inkarnate.com/m/971E8l-forest-arena/ if you use Inkarnate and want the original multi-layered file for cloning and editing for your own needs.

Map – Lightning Rail Station

A couple of months ago we had an extended series of session aboard a lightning rail train travelling from Windhaven towards the Breland border – and a number of social and combat encounters took place during that period. Their first break in the journey came at a station where there was a delay to offload and take on new cargo and passengers.

This night time location was revealed just after an intense combat encounter where assassins had boarded the train and tried to kill Thorin – and had nearly killed Valenia in the process – and so the opportunity to get off the train and explore the area for a while felt much needed.

The grass area at the bottom of the map is where I overlaid schematics of the train carriages the characters were in. This was done so that I could reuse this as a standardised design in the future with other carriage configurations. The platform is lit with torches, and the main areas of interest are: the main ticket hall which leads through to the street beyond (and the houses on it), and the well-lit inn/coffee house and the rest rooms next to it. There’s also a store room behind them.

On the left hand of the map is a store room accessed from the ticket hall, and the ticket office top left. There are also desks and furniture in the hallway. The office could alternatively be a House Sivis message post.

I had this set up as being flexible enough to run either combat or social encounters – in the end it turned out to be mostly social and roleplay with stall holders, people passing through, staff from the rail service, and a rather intense Silver Flame Inquisitor who wanted to ask Thorin some questions.

As ever, the zip file attached to this post includes the map and the associated text file of map dimensions and dynamic lighting information and coordinates.

For those who haven’t used Dungeon Alchemy maps, you can install an API in Roll20 and after loading the map graphic onto the map layer, you can copy and paste the text file contents into the chat input. It will then resize the map to fit and support Dynamic Lighting if you are using it.

RailStation.zip

HeroForge – Mr Friendly and Mrs Nice

These two mercenaries were an early thorn in the side of the DDC. They were on retainer to Morgrave University in opposition to the DDC who were retained by Wynarn University – and the plan was originally to have them as a recurring nemesis for the group as they investigated or delved into various mysteries or forgotten sites. That went sideways when the group wanted to go a totally different direction in terms of story and tone – and beyond a bit of a wind up, a social encounter, and an appearance in a flashback the two have gone on the back burner. I may bring them out as a call-back in the Librarian group as they are more associated with Morgrave University in that game.

Mr Friendly and Mrs Nice are neither of these, nor are they married. He is a goblin who hails from a proud line of dhaakani warriors and who tries his best to liberate or preserve the relics of his people. She is a changeling sorceress who is in it for the money. He has a reputation of striking suddenly from ambush, often as exhausted rivals emerge from the temples and tombs they’ve just been raiding. She is known as a consummate spy and infiltrator and mostly only by reputation as nobody is entirely sure that they’ve actually met her or even seen her true appearance

The names of course arose out of a joke while chatting on our Discord server during lockdown. I was teasing the group with upcoming threats – mostly to see what kind of reactions I got to sound out what might work and there was an immediate chime with these two names. The soft and gentle names were seen straight through, and a whole host of suggestions were made about who these mysterious people could be.

As it was, the story went other directions – but they made enough of an impact that while people were trying to assemble all the breadcrumbs in last week’s lore dump, they did wonder just how involved these two might be in the whole mystery. I hadn’t thought to bring them back in – but perhaps, just perhaps, there’s a role for them yet…

Heroforge – Odif

I’ve suggested that after the current story arc we have a brief break to play a one-shot around things that might be happening back home – and having already made a portrait and token for Coal, I couldn’t resist making one for the DDC’s young kobold adopted son: Odif.

It may only be a year and a bit since he came into their lives, but kobolds mature quickly – and while still not an adult yet, he has already been showing an aptitude for mechanical and gadget-based tinkering that seems perfectly suited to his inquisitive mind. Coal specifically stayed behind to help raise and guide the little guy – and having grown up around the DDC the youngster has definitely picked up a few style inspirations along the way.

So, here he is, toothy grin, custom crossbow, a knife and some sort of rod or wand in a hanger – dashing in purples and greens, and holes cut in his hood to accommodate his horns and keep his head properly covered when running around. It’s as if he’s wearing a disguise or something. What have he and Coal been up to?

They will of course no doubt have a great explanation, or will deny everything.

HeroForge Illustrations

HeroForge have been going for a good few years now, offering a service where people can create and customise tabletop figures for their various roleplay games. You can then order the printed figure to use at home. The rise in popularity of virtual tabletops over lockdown has since led them to make improvements to export portraits and other illustrations. There’s a subscription model that unlocks extra features and save slots to build up a gallery – the site can be found at www.heroforge.com

The boy has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for the website for some time as he creates new characters, and this baton has been taken up as we’ve developed the DDC campaign. Lady B used the portrait features to create graphics for the stream – and indeed for one of the “Well That Just Happened” designs available on the store – https://amzn.eu/d/eJDoAZM – if you’re interested

So, I eventually caved and had a look this week – and decided to start with making an illustration for Karkanna Amberhammer ahead of the session coming up this weekend. For those not following, Karkanna is Thorin’s elder sister, who disappeared towards the end of the Last War and reappeared by way of a message sent to him in Windhaven. The message said to return as their father wasn’t well – and included their father’s heirloom axe. Everything in the game for the last few months has been the group making their way back to the Hold on the Brelish border.

What the group have been able to put together from hints and encounters is that Karkanna appeared back at the Hold, accompanied by strangers, and was welcomed quietly home. The next evening, as the moon rose, Karkanna transformed into a werewolf, and the strangers revealed as duergar and dolgaunts. Strange creatures appeared and overran the Hold, scattering many of the Clan to the hills.

The Silver Flame made contact with Thorin while they travelled, to see what contact he’d had, but decided that he hadn’t been corrupted and let him go on his way. Their first attempt at entering the Hold then led to them fleeing in disarray after fighting dolgrims and dolgaunts before encountering mind flayers and a beholder. During that time, they overheard conversations suggesting that Karkanna had fled or gone rogue – and so when they had a clue as to her location, they decided to find her. The session ended with their arriving at a ruined shrine and finding her waiting for them at the door.

Where this goes next? Who knows – I can’t wait to find out.

The second portrait I created was that of Coal – partner to Caeluma – who ran with the group for a good while before settling back in Windhaven to look after Odif and set up a youth centre with his profits from their adventuring. We had a whole arc of his coming to terms with his past as a war machine and the losses endured, so the dangers facing the group as they protected their young charge made total sense for the character to back out of active rotation.

When I posted this in the group chat the other night, I was immediately asked if he had become some form of criminal mastermind, which wasn’t really what I was going for – but there’s definitely elements of his rogue background along with the steampunk background to suggest a more elevated status than they’d enjoyed before. I had the concept of a gentleman thief in mind while assembling the options. The mimic of course is one of the many that share the DDC’s home, so it made sense to allude to it. In response to the question, someone else said “He’d say he didn’t know what you were talking about, boss”

The tokens are also very customisable – for curiosity’s sake because I mentioned them earlier, here’s what I generated based off these portraits:

I’ve had fun with these – so I’ll likely look to generate a rogues gallery this way of significant characters in the games I run as a creative outlet.

DDC – Draconic Prophecies 6

And here we go with the latest batch of cryptic meanderings hinting at things to come and themes being explored in the D&D extravaganza. It’s all getting a bit epic in scope, and the players are more invested than ever in the outcomes. So, without further ado…

In Argent’s glare all doubt dispelled, chase hunters armed with cruel blade. Their ancient foes reborn as jest must answer calls by both Heirs made

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 700, verses 1-2

This refers to the agents of the Silver Flame, who have amassed a force near the border by Cragwar, only a day or two’s march away. The ancient foes reference is talking about the werewolves unwillingly created by Karkanna at the behest of the mind flayers.

The Silver Flame are renowned for having destroyed all were-creatures in a pogrom several hundred years ago. Now, Thorin and Karkanna are weighing up how to call on their divided Clan to regain their lands and drive off the forces of madness without inviting mass destruction at the hand of the religious zealots of the Silver Flame.

When fates’ skein tangles in noble birth, siblings’ anger is written loud. Two tribes from one, or both combined. Which pathways old must be re-trod

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 417, verses 5-7

This is referencing both Thorin and Karkanna Amberhammer, the heirs split by the events of the Last War and more recently the invasion of their ancestral home by the Cult of the Triumphant Dead, a splinter cult of the Dragon Below. The siblings finally met last week in the ruins of a shrine to Onnatar (the god of smiths) and heated words were exchanged rather than blows.

Eventually a plan to retake their Hold began to take form – but it depends on gathering together the scattered refugees from the Hold under Thorin and allying them with the werewolf kindred spawned by Karkanna when she was forced to betray everyone. The niceties of this plan remain to be determined

The Testing now must be begun: scarlet questions posed from above. In answers sanguine, truth be spun, and legends rise to speak for love

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 202, verses 8-9

This came to fruition in the arrival of Kelliklik at Flower Town. The young red dragon is bound to a Doom under the Prophecies to ensure certain things happen, and he challenged the group while flying above them. Blood was shed on both side as they stated their beliefs and argued with both words and battle. The group is beginning to take on the status of legends, and in all things in this fight they are motivated by love of family, friends, and life.

DDC – Draconic Prophecies 5

Just ahead of tonight’s game, here’s some more cryptic mutterings from the dragons of Eberron:

Not all who watch, command. Nor do all those who are quiet, obey. When the Dragons Below strive for the skies, then all is reversed in the end.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 812, verses 1-3

A general comment on the relationship between Mind Flayers and Beholders in Eberron. In other worlds it might be expected that there be a more antagonistic relationship or that the Beholder would be in charge, but as creatures of Xoriat (the realm of madness), the mind flayers are in the ascendant and use beholders as living weapons platforms.

If the Heir calls, the tribe will answer. If the Heir falls, then Winter’s reign starts. The threads of fate weave loose until they meet the loom

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 903, verses 18-end

In general terms this is a reminder that others of the Clan Amber-Hammer still live and could be called upon to help. In addition nothing is written in stone and although I as the GM have a broad idea of how it will all play out, the actual details and outcome rely entirely on the players and their characters.

With flashing eyes and fanged mouth, comes the Doom of the stone-breakers. With hateful dreams are watchful nightmares born, to blight the lands above

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 490, verses 3-4

This absolutely refers to the Beholder revealed to be the powerhouse of the coup at Clan Amberhammer. With the many spell-like effects it can create from its eyes and the massive fanged maw that dominates its face beneath the huge central eye, this creature is a killing machine under the control of the mind flayers. The other eye-themed creatures encountered to date have all manifested from its dreams as its very presence destabilises the already thinning reality at the Hold as a Xoriat Manifest zone begins to coalesce.