Thursday, October 5, 2017

Change of Plans...

I said in my last post here that I was going to be continuing my infrequent D&D game soon, and that I was going to be running players through some of my homebrew stuff, then "Raiders of the Lost Oasis", then taking their level 5 characters to Chult to face the "Tomb of Annihilation".

That was the plan, but plans change...

In two days, the regular game my friend DM's will be ending with our characters facing a beholder in the black reaches of a dwarven necropolis (incoming TPK?).  After that, he is taking a break from DM'ing a regular game and I'm taking over.

The players are eager to experience the new D&D adventure module, and so I'm just simply starting a new campaign - still based in my campaign world of Hybrith - wherein the new characters will be traveling to Chult and braving the horrors of the deep jungle: the undead, dinosaurs, and undead dinosaurs to name a few.  This is exciting stuff: I plan to start them off as members of a Victorian-style explorer's group called the Waypoint Society.  Think colonial hunting club lodges and Allan Quartermain and you're getting the gist of it.

ToA seems a little daunting for a new DM like me, but I will persevere and travel into the unknown with my companions & players at my side, seeking adventure, fortune, and glory.

It's what Quartermain and Indiana Jones would do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Adding Pre-Written Modules to my Homebrew Game

The time is approaching to continue my D&D campaign, and though I have a definite "end game" I'd like to shoot for for my players at high levels, the intervening levels hadn't been fully fleshed-out.  Enter pre-written modules.

Up until now, all the adventures have been created and written by me for a (storywise) completely home-brewed game of 5e D&D.  That being said, there's going to be a lot of ground to cover between my level 3 players and where I'd like them to end up and so I'm adapting some published adventures to my game's narrative.  Without giving away too much, my players are going to encounter a homebrew adventure next that should take them to level four and then I'm sending them to the desert courtesy of Goodman Games Fifth Edition Fantasy module "Raiders of the Lost Oasis" (the title fairly screams "pulp").

Than from the desert, my adventurers should next be thrown into the jungle hell of an island called Tel Gana.  This name means "the emerald" and is known in the lands of the Rothmund Empire as the title given to the island by elvish explorers.  However, the natives of Tel Gana have a different name for their island home: CHULT.

That's right: at around level 5, I'm sending my players off in search of the "Tomb of Annihilation", the latest official D&D adventure from Wizards of the Coast.  I had an unexplored jungle island on my map of Hybrith that I had never really developed, and with a few tweaks and changes, "Tomb of Annihilation" fits in nicely. Now that should keep the players occupied for a while...

I've always kinda wanted my game to reflect the globe-trotting heroics of pulp adventurers like Doc Savage and my own pulp character, Challenger Storm (shameless plugs... buy my books!), and with these adventures adapted to my world of Hybrith, I think I'm heading in the right direction.  I'm very excited.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Session Four: Betrayal Among the Dead

With the jerry-rigged barricade removed the entrance to the black tunnel beyond stood wide and gaping. The heroes and the group of bandits prepared to enter it but the wounded man protested that he couldn't make it and his friend refused to leave his side.  The adventurers were firm: everyone goes into the tunnel, no exceptions. After some negotiations and persuasion, the injured bandit decided to go: it was better to go out fighting to get away than to die starving and trapped in the cellar.  Reluctantly, the bandit's friend helped him limp into the tunnel with the others they descended into the ancient cave beneath the earth...

The tunnel twisted and turned as it wound its way toward what the group hoped would be an exit, and they fought scattered groups of shambling zombies here and there along the way.  After following the tunnel for some time, it suddenly widened and they found themselves in a very ancient tomb.  Caskets and sarcophagi were tucked into niches on the walls, and around the room some stone caskets sat on raised platforms.  Beyond these was a strange, chilling sight: on a throne made from stacked coffins sat an emaciated, rotten corpse dressed in ancient rogues' armor.  As the nine people entered the ancient tomb, there was a hideous creaking sound as the corpse's head rose from its chest and cold embers peered from its eye sockets at them.  The creature - an ancient wight - laughed horribly and stood, and as it raised its hands several sarcophagi broke open to reveal armored skeletons as they crawled forth and raised their weapons.  Wordlessly, the attack began.

The fight was pitched and feverish, with the heroes and bandits working together to defeat the undead.  The wight never spoke a word... until Lander the warlock attacked it.  Fixing the half-elf in his glare, the wight pointed his finger at him and said "You... I know you boy, oh yes. Your master has such plans for you!"

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Session Three: Taking Valkenheiser Manor

After their lengthy walk back to Hawksmith, the adventurers returned the surviving members of the research teams to their grateful families and friends, and turned their attention to Turnbull... and the reward he'd offered.  Upon hearing their stories, Turnbull paid them their promised reward.  Lander, the ever-opportunistic charlatan, offered up their services for an extended period of time in case they were needed for the next few days.  Turnbull begrudgingly was convinced of their usefulness and agreed to pay them an additional fund for "extended services".

Relaxing in the Tipsy Tankard, Jinvar bought a round of drinks for everyone in the tavern and made sure to tell them it was "on Turnbull's dime".  The townsfolk, very familiar with Turnbull's tightfisted ways with money, didn't necessarily believe Jinvar, but they did enjoy the drinks...

The next day, the group brought their cache of goblin ears to the local town reeve, a dwarf named Gunder Valkenheiser. After paying them the bounty for each pair of ears, Valkenheiser told them to stick around, and that he might have a job for them in the next day or two.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Downtime: In the Spaces Between...

The material in the first and second sessions of my campaign were the product of a few months of work: originally I was going to run it back in November of last year but those plans fell through and I ended up putting it back in the oven for a while.  The time spent was well worth it: the town of Hawksmith grew organically (not EVERY detail got planned out, but I got to know more about it and the people in it) and the adventure hooks & setting got smoothed out and integrated much better.  By the time I was ready to run the adventure, I had more confidence in it than I had before, and I think that came across as I dipped my toes into DM'ing for the first time.  Confidence has never been my strong suit, but playing D&D I find it easier to overcome some of my difficulties (expect a post about that one of these days...)

As my campaign gets put on the back burner again for further development, I sail into uncharted territory (so many metaphors...).  Eventually the decisions the players make will dictate where the major storyline will take them and from there I will begin to plan accordingly, adding a new town or towns, characters, etc.  In the meantime, I'm giving them something to do as a side-quest but I'm on the fence as far as exactly what happens.  To say more will spoil it, but they'll either get a simple adventure, or an adventure that goes deeper that it seemed on the surface.

Or the simple interaction with the people of Hawksmith could lead to an improvised, off-the-cuff adventure.  It's hard to tell: you can't always predict what the players or their characters will do and things could happen quite unexpectedly.  Once again, that's one of the beauties of playing a tabletop RPG: sometimes it all evolves on its own.

As a player, I hope to return to the regular game soon.  Life happens, and our bi-weekly game doesn't always get played bi-weekly because people have other commitments.  It's life, that's the way it works.  Hell, this week I'm the one with commitments (which never happens), because my wife and I are taking a little vacation and will be out of town for a few days.  As per the usual setup, if more than one person can't make it, the game is postponed for another week or two; however, if I'm the only one who can't make it, the game will go on without me.  This is the way this game has always worked, and I'll send along my character sheet so someone can "bot me" and I won't miss the precious XP. In this game my character, Flint, is a dwarven fighter: I'm using Matthew Mercer's Gunslinger Martial Archetype but planning in multiclassing into rogue soon.  It's a fun character to play, and my DM (who is a player in my campaign) is really good at working with players so they get the most enjoyment out of their characters.  I'm excited to see what the future holds for Flint as well as the other members of the party, an illustrious group of misfits, hermits, and has-beens.

But I'm not giving up my vacation just so I can play this week.  Screw that: real life trumps fantasy life always, and I'm ready for some R&R.  Then, when I come back to the grind I'll be ready to see where my players (and my game) go next.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Session Two: Dark Machinations

The wave of enemies hit the adventurers harder than they had anticipated.  The bugbear led the charge and fell upon Jinvar as the goblins attacked Lander and Garnet.  The goblins weren't a great threat and were cut down before they could inflict damage.  The bugbear, however, was like a force of nature and at the strikes of his morning star, the heroes fell one by one to the towering monster. Garnet managed to deliver a killing blow to the beast but it came too late and blackness closed upon them...*

Or so it seemed: the heroes awoke untold hours later.  They had been injured but were alive, held in a straw-floored makeshift prison with six other people.  The heroes' fellow prisoners were gangly, weak, and malnourished.  The adventurers had found the remaining members of the Agricultural Ministry's missing research teams. Now, they had to escape and set them free...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Session One: Beneath the Deadlands

Town of Baileen ....out skirts of Bailean Castle:

While traveling through western Tyvak, the heroes (Jinvar the human paladin in search of redemption, Lander the tragedy-haunted & opportunistic half-elf warlock, and Garnet the grizzled old human soldier) came across the town of Hawksmith. Standing in the center of a belt of farmlands, the normally bustling town was plagued with mystery: a blight had affected the crops to the north, and the unexplained phenomena was draining the life from the land.  Nothing would grow in the affected area - not even weeds - and the farmers in the region were becoming desperate as they began to feel the blight's effects on their coinpurses.  Hawksmith itself had also been attacked a few times by goblins, a nuisance in the area that was quickly becoming a threat; a local bounty had been set for goblin ears at 5gp per pair and a defense wall was being built around the town.

The mystery deepened when Turnbull, the head of the local Agricultural Ministry Office, confided in the heroes that two teams of researchers had gone up to the most affected farms in the north to study the land and had not come back since. Pressure on Turnbull was mounting, from both the town and his superiors, and he offered the team a hefty sum of money to investigate the researchers' disappearance and to return any survivors they could find.

Motivated by their individual drives of redemption, battle, and coinage, Jinvar, Garnet, and Lander set off to the north toward "the deadlands". Stopping at the last known location of the researchers, the Varas potato farm, the adventurers decided to camp for the night.  During their sleep they were attacked by a band of goblins, but were able to dispatch them with ease.  After the attack, they moved inside the abandoned farmhouse and found splashes of old dried blood on the walls: this had been the scene of a massacre some time ago.