Rumble in the Undercroft

Tonight’s session was fantastic, well-paced, and had sass and drama in equal measure. Great fun all round, had by all.

I’d planned out key milestones to help mark timings for the evening which left ample time for roleplay and plot elements to come into play – and with key events in early bouts being used to punctuate conversations, it kept a momentum going.

The wrestling references and in-jokes caused much eye-rolling from myr s and laughter from everyone else, so I’m glad I spent the time googling ring names.

A confidant of their host identified themselves as an agent of House Phiarlan, there was a meeting at last with Mr Friendly and Mrs Nice, there were fireworks and dancing lights, banners were made and flown, and Kerne made a new friend.

Oh, and in a bruising and tense knockout finale, Thorin won his match, much to everyone’s relief. Great fun, must do another one soon.

DDC Housekeeping

Just finished a great session for this week’s game. There were no great heroics or epic fights, but instead a quiet period of investigation and regrouping.

They now own a market stall, are setting up a WWE-style exhibition pit fight, and have found the culprit responsible for the pranks and missing items in their house: a surly boggle called Tanglefinger.

After a fight scene that owed more to Home Alone than The Raid, they captured the elusive and slippery fey, and eventually came to an arrangement to share their living space.

And we all had fun, and I broke out some silly voices, and it was pretty much all ad-libbed. A good session.

Next week? Who knows?

Bouncing Back

Been a lot brighter as the weekend has gone on, and thats been more than a little due to the anticipation of and running of tonight’s game, which just finished.

It was a battle-heavy game as the group tracked down the people and entities responsible for the recent carnage and kidnapping of their companion. I was concerned at one point that I might not have judged things well from a balance point of view, but a combination of luck (both good and bad), tactics, and planning saw it all work out, including Caeluma being the one to strike the fatal blow against the Bone Knight responsible for everything.

I’m all energised in a tired way from that, so with tomorrow being my last day on holiday I’ll spend some time working out the next chapter, and then preparing for a new week of strangeness.

Lady M is back to work tomorrow. I suspect there may be some swearing…

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.

And We’re Back

Merry Christmas everyone, much food and drink has been consumed and a state of pleasant befuddlement has been enjoyed. All this despite the last minute lockdown.

We spaced out presents through the day, and enjoyed spoiling each other rotten in the unexpected quiet.

And then this evening we ran an online version of what I’d been planning as a tabletop one shot – or at least the beginning of one – in what I’ve started calling the one point five shot session.

It is a goblin themed one shot, set in a goblin village. We have:

  • Truxi the Bard played by Lady M
  • Angre the Wizard played by myr s
  • Dranverk the Barbarian played by the cub
  • Morrus the Monk played by Lady W
  • Meekface the Artificer played by Lady B

All the characters are goblins, and this has given license for a certain degree of silly voices in the stream and for some reason 80s and 90s-themed football references to the retired hero, now brewer, called Cann Tonna and his missing rival Red Knapp who disappeared while raiding the New Castle to the North.

If it weren’t for the lockdown we would get out more.

Oh, and a goblin scout was chased into the village and shot down by elves wearing the insignia of the Silver Flame before the goblin heroes could drive them off. In two days a force of these fanatics will raid the village. They will attempt to steal away the goblin children at the height of the Winter Festival.

Tales of Lockdown: Games Night

Okay – Tier 4 lockdown just happened, affecting everyone in our polycule and wider social and work circles, so there’s been a lot of angst and anger as we all dropped all our plans. One thing has remained – Games Night – our now-regular Sunday evening D&D sessions streamed through https://www.twitch.tv/princessleah1980 between 7.30pm and 10.30pm (ish). As ever we had fun – and there was more than a little silliness, including this gem: https://clips.twitch.tv/NiceBovineDonkeyKeepo

The whole evening’s show can for now be seen by following this link: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/844296990?t=3h1m41s and we are still working on converting them all for watching on YouTube. The channel is called Well That Happened and for now there’s a couple of introductions on there. Perhaps being in lockdown will give us collectively time to get more material up.

Tim wearing a green tshirt with the caption: Dungeon Master - It's not my job to kill you, it's just one of the perks
Would you trust a DM like this?

So – what happened? Basically the whole episode was set on a travelling Lightning Rail train, with the adventurers travelling home from their previous adventure. With it being a seasonal festival, they became aware that there was much frivolity, eating, drinking, and general carousing taking place in the restaurant cars next door – so they joined in. Then they started to notice that things were a bit off, with people consuming food and drink to excess, staggering off to be ill or use the toilets, and then returning for more. Then they realised that their DM’s exhortations to Eat! Drink! Be Merry! were actually telepathic urgings from somewhere that were affecting them too.

It all ended up with a corrupt train official, cultists of the Dragon Below, and an Otuygh in the waste carriage that frankly was just living its best life until the adventurers came along. Never before have I seen our tiefling go from “awww, I’m going to knit Santa a hat” to “I’m going to kill Santa” quite so quickly. It was great fun, and I think we really needed the laughter.

Next week will be a seasonal one-shot that I need to start working on urgently, featuring Christmas Goblins and Elves. Feel free to drop by and say hello!

DDC Ghostbusters

This evening’s D&D game was hilarious, and I promise I will start updating the pages here in due course. Tonight was largely spent wandering around the haunted house, and fending off the spirit that had killed the previous owner (well technically, Rancaster is currently pottering around as an undead thing in the basement, its complicated)

Having found the ghost’s mortal remains, they then performed a set of funeral rites (having driven the ghost away with clerical turning) to put it to rest- and being the mean DM that I am, I required them each to contribute to the eulogy based on what they had found in the house. Never has a hobgoblin leg breaker for the Dhaask criminal organisation been given such a sendoff…

And then there was more erotic poetry, and a tour diary from Rancaster and Lemster’s trips to various clubs and bars in Sharn, and of being employed by Dhaask to synthesise dreamlily to cut into the Boromar trade… and trying to explain to the young dragon born sorcerer what the various gay and bdsm references meant in a child friendly way… and the teifling got covered in a dust and got high, and there were many, many spiders.

We may have laughed a lot, and the people following along on Twitch may have laughed, and there may be a clip of Lady M emulating her Dragonborn’s fearsome roar knocking around somewhere too…

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.

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?

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.