Saturday, August 26, 2017

Current Clack - 10th of Mirtul, Year of the Ageless One; 447 North Reckoning

  • Sages claim that something evil is trapping the souls of the dead and  draining life from all who have been raised from  death by magic. This worldwide “death curse” not  only prevents the raising of the dead, but also causes  creatures that were previously raised from the dead  to wither and die.
  • Ordalf, High Lady of Sarifal, has issued strong and bitter words concerning the Amnish activity in Tethyr, citing how similar their tactics sound to the Lady Erliza  Daressin's tactics for conquering Snowdown and it's territory.
  • The Eldreth Veluuthra seem to be gaining strength in Neverwinter Woods, as a logging party was recently slain and made examples of in the Woods, their limbs pinned to trees with red fletched black arrows, along the forest entrance. With Neverwinter besieged by Many Arrows Orcs, little can be done but grant the elves their forest and forbid her residents from traveling there.

Just Some Quick News ...

Just had a great session with old friends I've not seen in years which has expanded our Chult campaign (Can't wait on ToA!!!) These friends had to go home after a few days, but we are going to continue to game with the aid of technology ... I used to laugh at the idea of virtual presences but, by golly, we are gonna make this happen!

 Oh, by the way, I know vidblogs are all the rage right now, and we may or may not expand into that territory, but really guys, don't be afraid to publicly follow this blog or leave comments - positive or negative - all feedback is good.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Music to Game By - Track 10

Hotter than Hell - Pic 3

Thoughts on Random Encounters ...

I know a lot of players both new and old don't like them, but as a DM, I like random encounters. They add an element of realism to a game. - the unexpected and unplanned for. I've read in various places that some folks bemoan any sort of randomness in encounters because they introduce the potential for unbalancing a game. Well, sometimes in life, shit happens. Deal with it – the option to run away or hide from an unbalanced encounter may not seem heroic to some, but I submit to you that heroic hardly means stupid.

I live in a rural area. Walks in the woods are fairly common around here – Hell, in every direction I look in town, I see trees, so one could argue that our town is situated in the woods. You just can't plan what you're going to see or run into when you step into the wilds. Might be squirrels, might be rabbits, might be deer, could be a bear – there have been bear sightings in this area as close to civilization as our local park. Just a few days ago, fellow Outlaw D&D contributor and member, DM Brett Swigert, ran into a Bard Owl in fairly close proximity to himself. Naturally he took pictures but did not approach the huge bird.

Not all Random Encounters need be a fight. The 5E DMG literally defines this concept, which I have no problem with. What I have issues with is everything being so darned balanced. If I walk into my woods, I could very well run into a bear, and that's pretty unbalanced and unfair, but I am in no way obligated to fight the bear. Remember, the distance of the encountered (See older editions – they still have much to contribute to a 5E gaming experience) … it may not be right on top of you .. it could be far away enough to avoid.

The frequency of encounters – 18+ on a D20 - seemed pretty rare to me at first until I did the math (ugh) … that's a 15% chance compared to the 16.6% chance on a 1-6 from the old school. That's not too bad. But I wonder if the upcoming Tomb of Annihilation, based in the Jungles of Chult, will alter the method of rolling for random encounters. I think it should, to reflect the enormous amount of life – and undead - scurrying around in the place. 1 on a D4 seems about right in such an untamed environment to me, but time will tell on that.

For those of us who run hexcrawls, like I am in our current Chult Expedition – no, we couldn't wait for Tomb of Annihilation to get a Jungle Adventure going – The lack of official Random Encounter Tables puts undue extra work on a DM. So far, this is the only place I find 5E to be lacking. I quickly fixed the problem by utilizing a chapter of Kellri's fantastic supplement for 1E, Classic Dungeon Designer's Netbook #4 - Encounters Reference, which is available through a link on our download page. It's a fine start, covering just about every terrain type out there and, of course, begs to be customized by clever Dms as well.

Anyways, I've tossed my two coppers into the pot. I hope my ramblings might help someone, but as always, YMMV.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Killing Keep

Five miles north of Eveningstar, dug into the western side of Starwater Gorge is a small, partially ruined castle known as Rivior’s Keep or more sinisterly, as the Killing Keep. Little remains of this unassuming except for two, low, curved outer walls with ruined gatehouses, a few partially collapsed outbuildings and the crumbling, stone keep itself.

The bandit king Rivior had this place built as his stronghold while his dwarven hirelings and henchmen completed construction on what is known today as The Haunted Halls.
Once their work was completed, Rivior moved into his new underground stronghold and abandoned the keep but not before having his cunning dwarven engineers festoon the place with all manner of deadly traps.
Many foolish adventurers mistake this place for the true Haunted Halls and meet a grisly fate in this cold, desolate place. The bleached bones and dried corpses of the most unfortunate still lie shattered at the bottom of a deep pit, crushed under a massive stone block or kneeling as if still listening at a heavy wooden door, their skull pinned neatly upon a rusting, sharp spike.
The place is infested with lock lurkers, spiders, stirges and even a few undead and explorers who have returned from the place tell stories of feeling unseen eyes upon them as they roamed the deserted halls.
Desperate travelers and outlaws have occasionally used this place for shelter or as a temporary hideout and kobolds from the nearby Citadel of the Black Sting often come here in search of hidden magic and wealth. And since the Black Sting are masters at the setting of traps and have learned to make deadly use of the small but lethal lock lurkers and other small, venomous creatures, they often leave behind deadly surprises for the unwary and even reset traps that have been sprung. However, they often come here to find sprung traps already reset by some unknown hand and on those occasions, the cowardly beasts quickly slink back to their hidden stronghold above the Haunted Halls.

The Floating Tower

Eveningstar, Cormyr
11th day of Uktar (The Rotting)
Year of the Fiery Moon

The old bard wiped foam from his lips as he thumped his large mug of frothing ale upon the bar and withdrew a long-stemmed black pipe from the folds of his grey, travel-stained, cloak.
He glanced up, savoring the anticipation from the band of young adventurers who, along with most everyone in the taproom, had turned their chairs to face the bard and hear his tale.
He used a candle on the bar to light his pipe and blew out huge plumes of blue-grey smoke before taking one last sip from his mug and clearing his throat.

“Well if it’s adventure ye seek, then I do know a tale or two about The Killing Keep, The Haunted Halls and the Citadel of the Black Sting. Perhaps I could…”

Brostos Myrgult, the burly fighting man and leader of the Company of the Crimson Banner, pounded his hammer-like fist on the table and pointed a thick finger at the old minstrel.

“I paid you fair! Ye said ye would tell us all that ye know of the Floating Tower!”

The old bard smiled grimly and nodded as he drew on his pipe and scratched his head as if deep in thought.

“So ye did! I’m just not sure that Tumblestone Tower is the best place to start if ye wish to become legendary adventurers!”

A cool look from the grim band told the troubador that any argument would be pointless.

“Very well!” He sighed, I shall tell thee all I know!”

Long ago, some say around the Year of the Slithering Dark, a powerful wizard named Authalyntor Astranghal built a grand tower in the remote wastes of the Stonelands. None can say from where he had come, but rumors persisted that he had fled Halruua, pursued by the Phaerimm who had sworn vengeance upon him.

Authalyntor kept mostly to himself occasionally appearing at Magefairs, entertaining exclusive guests in the elegant pagoda atop his tower or rarely tutoring promising, young mages for staggering fees and only for a few months to a year at most.

Atop his magnificent pagoda, Authalyntor placed a whirling, silvery astrolabe which crackled with blue-white lightning day and night. Some say this was a tap into the very essence of the Weave, channeling raw spellfire from which Authalymtor could draw power, craft defenses and work new and wondrous Art the likes of which had not been seen.

Those few who claim to have met Authalyntor say he was like a taut bowstring, his bright green eyes darting about in search of some hidden foe. The onlt time he seemed truly at ease was in the safety of his tower pagoda.

The years passed and soon, Authalyntor was seen less and less. Music no longer played cheerfully from his pagoda and few lights ever flickered from the tower windows. It was said that Authalymtor was working on some powerful Art to protect his tower from some unforeseen assault or he was journeying among the planes, staying one step ahead of the Phaerimm and their minion assassins that pursued him.

One evening, the Stonelands were rocked by powerful blasts of staggering Art that were unleashed like some catastrophic, magical storm. Folks as far away as Tilverton were said to have seen the flashes of strange, green and purple lights and the roll of distant thunder which wouldn’t have been unusual except voices could be distinctly heard in the rumbling din, shouting curses and arcane chants with a sort of maddened desperation.

Legend speaks that six, black-robed slaughtermages from Mulhorand and their Phaerimm benefactor had finally caught up with Authalyntor and attacked him at his tower. A titanic spell battle ensued and when the dust had settled, the Phaerimm and his six hired assassins were dead and Authalyntor was gone and never seen again.

The most odd thing however, was Authalyntor’s once-magnificent tower was blasted to ruin. At least the lower stories were blasted to ruin for the upper floors of the tower remained intact, hovering about one hundred feet above the charred ground!

A swirling mass of dust and rubble mixed with huge blocks of masonry had formed just under the upper levels of the floating tower, creating a rumbling tempest of debris.

Adventurers who sought to plunder the tower found that the upper levels cannot be reached by any magical means known. The bleached and crushed bones of slain explorers attempting to enter the tower now swirls within the deadly cloud along with a few trinkets and shining baubles that certainly catch the eye and tempt the greedy.

It’s been said that the largest blocks of stone now swirl in and endless spiral, up and down in the middle of the smaller bits of debris and one could possibly make use of these blocks as a means of access to the floating tower.

And if anyone thinks that taking some flying mount to the pagoda, be warned. The spinning silver astrolabe now discharges bolts of deadly Art at any approach. Occasionally, the smoking corpse of a slain wyvern or giant raven will be found lying not far from the tower and the bards say that even the Great Green Wyrm, Shardinastigool was sorely wounded by one of these bolts and flew back to her lair in the Hullack Forest, her roars of frustrated agony echoing throughout the region for three full nights.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

An Update

Gaming has been pretty regular, so much so that I am WAY behind on adventure synopses. For that, I apologize, dear readers, and I'll try to catch up on that between gaming and motorcycle riding ...

Also, As I run several different games, I have started another blog to handle that ... FASERIP Forever! is based on Marvel Superheroes Roleplaying game, which is almost as much fun as D&D. In the coming weeks, I'll also be putting together a Cepheus Engine Blog, which I'll post a link for when it's ready.