Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Recap: Spreading Chaos

If this were a dragon claw, it'd be the perfect picture for this campaign
In a shocking turn of events, my chaotic campaign actually found some time to play! Not shocking because of the players or the game, but shocking because most of us are going to be knee-deep in our gaming convention next week, and people have been crazy-busy preparing for it. I guess this weekend was the lull before the storm.

As such, next week will be some Old News, no Monday Recap. Sadly, as the end of the year approaches, I'll likely be putting out fewer recaps and more stories from my games before this blog existed. Between vacations, holidays, and events, it's hard to run a decent session. I'll be doing my best to put some one-shot adventures into place!

Campaign of Chaos: Spreading Chaos

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Shannon: Cressen Juhl, Fallen Aasimar Trickery Cleric of Ralishaz, hates their dad Pholtus
Cody: Mist, Tabaxi Rogue, likes the shiny and shoots the arrows
Quinn: Jakky, Darkling Shadow Monk, sneaks into places to do a murder
Wade: Agne, Kobold Warlock of the Great Old Ones, killed his family for creepy powers
Wes: Magic Man, Drow Transumation Wizard, kind of creepy, teaches magical life lessons
Guest NPC: Frankie, old skeleton man, temporarily taking over the body of Ilsa, a Yuan-Ti Mystic

The group had just escaped from prison with the help of their wacky new patron and leader, Mr. Lizard. They had been given strange new Chaotic power, as well as some fancy magic items, so they were feeling good about the direction of their employment. Agne also worked on taming his new pet dragon, a creature made entirely of stars and darkness named Artorius.

However, their chaos powers diminished over time, and as they rested in the forests outside Garton, the control they held over their chaos diminished. Mr. Lizard told them that they could easily keep their powers alive by playing fun pranks on each other, and since he had a mission for them, they should do some pranks to make their chaos magic a bit more stable.

(This actually translates to game mechanics pretty well. I'm using the massive chaos effects table to determine the chaos effects, which happen every time they roll a critical hit or someone crit-fails on a save vs their spells. I just replace the first number of the roll with their Chaos Score: 0-3 means the effect will hit themselves, 4-7 means the chaos will affect their target, and 8-9 is just pure AOE chaos. So having a Chaos Score of 5 is much less dangerous than having a Chaos Score of 2. Science!)

The group began their pranks. Mist snuck up on his comrades and scared the crap out of them. Cressen made himself into a duplicate of Jakky and tried to convince him he was seeing double. Jakky cut a hole in Agne's robes, Agne used Artorius's Gravitic Breath to make people fall on their butts, and Magic Man tried to make Agne believe he was dying with illusions. Their efforts met with mixed success, but they had a good time doing it.

Artorius the Abyss Dragon
The group had suitably pranked each other and were feeling good about their chaos magic again. Mr. Lizard told them they were going to be infiltrating the Garton Mage's Guild to find an artifact called the Palace of Infinite Illusion. He said it would help them on their journey, while he prepared a spell that would help another part of the quest. Then, with a clap of his hands, he unceremoniously teleported them into the city.

They appeared in a small waiting room, with an open campus beyond it. Immediately ,an alarm started blaring and a voice said there were intruders present. The magic students in the area ran to their dorms or teleported away is panic, and the group headed into the main building.

They entered a lecture hall where a professor and his assistants were ushering students out of the doors. Agne loudly announced that they weren't the bad guys, which immediately caused the professor and his assistants to draw their wands and advance on the group. Ilsa and Jakky ran down to fight them, Mist disappeared into the seats ringing the hall, and the others prepared their magic. Artorius flew down and attacked with his Gravitic Breath, increasing the force of gravity around the professor.

The assistants turned invisible as the professor blasted Artorius with a Fireball. Thanks to Jakky's blindsight and Agne's Detect Thoughts, the group was able to locate the invisible assistants and make attacks against them. Cressen hit them with Sacred Flame and Magic Man busted out Ray of Frost, slowing down their movements.

Between Mist's arrows, Artorius' bite, and Ilsa's blades, the professor finally went down. The assistants decided to turn tail and run, but Jakky's speed and Mist's arrows caught up to them and put them down. Jakky determined that the professor's most valuable treasures were beyond the lower exit of the lecture hall, so the group headed through the door.

They discovered a study, where Jakky found a treasure chest containing a few healing potions and spell scrolls. Mist found a shelf of wizard liquor, and grabbed as much as he could. After spending (at least 10 minutes of real time) a moment discussing what direction they should go, they decided to (spend another 10 minutes figuring out a staircase) quickly go upstairs and check out the upper floor of the study.

The deadliest riddle of them all
They found a Divination Chamber and an Observatory. A book in the Divination Chamber proposed to tell them their fates, and allowed most of them to read about the next time a certain type of spell would affect them. Cressen refused to read his entry, since Ralishaz was a God of Chaos, and decided to burn the book instead. The others were slightly miffed at him.

In the observatory, they found two maps - one of Garlancia and one of the whole world, Ahneria. The Garlancian map had a circle near the coast and "Anesta destroyed - GIANTS???" was written on it. Meanwhile, the Ahnerian map had an outline of areas that had a known presence of the Black Hand, a secret smuggling and crime network. Agne found a magic telescope, but didn't know what sort of magic it held.

The group pressed forward, entering a long hall with a door at the far end reading "Library". However, they were accosted by a group of City Watch guards! The guards attacked, bolstered by a bard in the back of their group.

Jakky, Ilsa, and Agne ran forward, Agne trying to distract the guards with some false pleading. Mist leapt up onto a decorative gargoyle while Cressen cast Calm Emotions, taking the enemy barbarian out of the fight. Magic Man blasted away at the enemy, and Artorius breathed his Gravitic breath on the bard and rogue in the back.

The guards fell one by one, and when they were all down the group finally noticed a halfling fighter that had been stabbing them this whole time. She went down quickly, and the group immediately forgot about her again.

The party made their way into the library, and searched around for some books. Magic Man found a book that had a spell listed in it, and he grabbed it to copy into his own spellbook later. Mist decided to use his portable hole to take a small bookshelf. Otherwise, they didn't find anything too interesting, so they pressed onward to the next exit, which was labeled "to museum".

The museum turned out to be filled with strange artifacts and magic items, all of which did slightly different things. However, Mist was drawn to the shiniest thing in the room, a miniature model of a Palace in a glass case. Agne studied it with his Detect Magic spell, and the Palace gave off illusion magic while the case gave off evocation magic, meaning it was likely trapped. Remembering that the item they were supposed to find was called the Palace of Infinite Illusion, they proceeded to figure out how to steal the object from within the glass case.


http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2007/11/department-56-ice-palace-model/
It's only a model
After a few minutes (another 10 minutes of real time...) of discussion, Magic Man turned the base of the case into balsa wood, allowing them to easily break it off without breaking the glass case. However, at that moment, the door behind them froze into a solid sheet of ice, and a skinny Tiefling man with nerdy-looking glasses strode into the room - Mage Guild Headmaster Re'lar! He admonished the group and began to attack them with his powerful magic.

Mist leapt up onto a pillar and rushed along the walls to get a better shot, while Artorius flew forward and bit at Re'lar. Jakky, Ilsa, and Agne rushed forward again, while Cressen and Magic Man hung back and grabbed the Palace.

Re'lar let loose a mighty Lightning Bolt, which dropped Artorius to the ground. Magic Man's Scorching Ray spell did little against Re'lar's natural fire resistance, but Mist got a lucky arrow shot in. Jakky grabbed a magic-looking gauntlet as he ran forward and punched Re'lar with it, unleashing a powerful blast of wind that threw the wizard backwards.

Suddenly, a voice appeared in the group's heads: it was Mr. Lizard, telling them that they would be teleported out in a short moment. Each of them had only seconds to react, and Re'lar had just cast a powerful Ice Storm spell, bringing Magic Man down and making it difficult to move around.

Ilsa used her Rope of Entanglement to tie up Re'lar, and Mist threw his Portable Hole like a frisbee under the Tiefling's feet. Re'lar was halfway in the hole! Cressen healed Artorius, Agne grabbed the Palace and Magic Man, and Jakky did a flying kick to put Re'lar completely in the Portable Hole.

At that moment, they were teleported back to Mr. Lizard's forest hideout. Panting and exhausted, they handed over the Palace, still in its glass case. Mr. Lizard cracked open the case, simply ignoring the trap damage, and grabbed the Palace. He explained that with this, he could create an infinite series of training-gauntlet rooms that would allow the group to gain power quickly and maintain their Chaos control from mission to mission.

Mist also told Mr. Lizard they had captured Re'lar, and brought him out. Re'lar tried to use his magic to send a quick message, but Mr. Lizard stopped it. Re'lar told the group that the King's forces had already been notified of the attack on the Guild, and they didn't have any chance at survival.

Mr. Lizard asked Re'lar if they used to adventure together. Re'lar said yes but seemed confused, as only a few weeks ago, the two of them had saved Garton from destruction. Mr Lizard smiled and said "oh!", and using a finger-gun, blew Re'lar's head off.

The group was pretty shocked by this action. They had expected Re'lar to be a valuable source of information, not to be instantly killed by their boss. However, they didn't have much time to talk about it before Mr. Lizard teleported them again: this time, into the miniature Palace itself. He said to get training, since their next mission would take them to Auraglow, and they needed to be ready.

Finally, he let them draw from the Deck of Many Things again. This time, they drew Comet, which meant they could gain great power from their next victory. As Cressen healed Magic Man, the door to the palace shut, and they prepared for their next mission.

I guess he's not the Headmaster any longer...
That's where we stopped for the night! The players were a blast, as usual they did a bunch of stuff I wasn't expecting.

Particularly, I didn't at all expect them to capture Re'lar and bring him to Mr. Lizard. I was hoping Mr. Lizard's evil side would be more of a slow-burn reveal, but hopefully I can foster some dramatic tension about that scene with these characters, who although evil are certainly not interested in working for someone who would kill them on a whim.

We'll see how it goes!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Creature Loot: R

https://www.deviantart.com/art/Mythic-Rakshasa-401480287
It's the backwards hand of the tiiiiiiiger
Yeah, it's Friday, you know the drill. I tell you some cool items, you say "what?", I say "pay attention! Go here for more info!", and then you say "please sir, my family is trying to eat dinner."

Rakshasa (13) – fiend (religion)
  • 1d4 Vials of Hellish Ichor: No immediate use. Forms into a Lemure after 1d10 days, unless the devil was killed by a good-aligned creature with Bless cast upon it, or if the ichor is splashed with holy water.
  • 2d4 Rakshasa Fangs: 20 acts as a bag of caltrops. Can be carefully crafted (jeweler’s tools) into dice that are immune to any magical effect that could change their outcome.
  • 2 Rakshasa Eyes: If consumed as an action, grants Darkvision out to 60 feet for 10 minutes. This darkvision is not impeded by magical darkness. Can be mastercrafted (Jeweler’s Tools) into an amulet or circlet that requires attunement, and can be used to cast True Seeing once per day.
  • 1 Rakshasa Pelt: Acts as a blanket. Can be mastercrafted (leatherworker’s tools) into Leather Armor of Invulnerability. This functions as Armor of Invulnerability, except that when it is activated it does not grant immunity to piercing damage from magic weapons wielded by good creatures.
  • 2 Rakshasa Hands: A creature holding the hand can use an action to cast Globe of Invulnerability, which lasts for the full duration without requiring concentration. This destroys the hand. Can be mastercrafted (divination) by a spellcaster into a stand that holds a Crystal Ball. Any Crystal Ball placed in the stand can cast Dominate Person through its sensor. This property can be used once per day.
  • 2d4 Rakshasa Claws: Acts as a dagger. On a hit, the target is cursed if it is a creature. The magical curse takes effect whenever the target takes a short or long rest, filling the target's thoughts with horrible images and dreams. The cursed target gains no benefit from finishing a short or long rest. The curse lasts until it is lifted by a remove curse spell or similar magic. Once the claw has passed on the curse, it loses this property.
  • 1 Rakshasa Tongue: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (transmutation) into an amulet that requires attunement. An attuned creature has advantage on saving throws against spells and magical effects, and can cast Disguise Self from the amulet at will.
  • 1 Tome of Vengeance: Contains extensive details of the last person to slay this Rakshasa, including information about relatives and close friends. Obsessive and massive in scope.
  • 1 Set of Fine Clothing: made of infernal cloth that is immune to fire damage and worth 100 GP.

Remorhaz (11) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 6d10 Remorhaz Legs: Delicious, like pre-cooked crab legs. Can be carefully crafted (cook’s utensils) into a meal that grants resistance to cold and fire damage for 8 hours. One leg feeds one medium creature.
  • 1 Adult Remorhaz Heat Gland: Difficult to handle, deals 10 (3d6) fire damage per round to any organic or metal material in contact with it. Can be mastercrafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a potion that grants immunity to cold damage for 24 hours.
  • 1 Adult Remorhaz Carapace: Acts as a shield. Can be carefully crafted (smith’s tools) into plate armor that grants its wearer resistance to fire damage.
  • 2d2 Remorhaz Antennae: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Tremorsense (grants Tremorsense to 60 feet for 1 hour).
  • 1 Remorhaz Stomach: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into a set of leather armor that grants acid resistance when worn. Can be crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into a large tent that is immune to acid damage.

Young Remorhaz (5) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 2d10 Remorhaz Legs: Delicious, like pre-cooked crab legs. Can be carefully crafted (cook’s utensils) into a meal that grants resistance to cold and fire damage for 8 hours. One leg feeds one medium creature.
  • 1 Young Remorhaz Heat Gland: Difficult to handle, deals 7 (2d6) fire damage per round to any organic or metal material in contact with it. Can be mastercrafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a potion that grants immunity to cold damage for 8 hours.
  • 1 Young Remorhaz Carapace: Acts as a shield. Can be carefully crafted (smith’s tools) into half plate armor that grants its wearer resistance to fire damage.
  • 1d2 Remorhaz Antennae: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Tremorsense (grants Tremorsense to 60 feet for 1 hour).

"You find a small golden trophy on the now-still corpse"
Revenant (5) – undead (religion)
  • 1 Tattered Leather Armor
  • 1 Revenant Heart: Beats whenever the revenant is within 60 feet, no matter what body the revenant inhabits. Can be carefully crafted (necromancy) into an amulet that requires attunement by an undead creature. An attuned creature is immune to effects that turn undead.
  • 1 Revenant Eye of Vengeance: A creature holding the eye can use an action to target one creature within 30 feet that it can see and that was the subject of the revenant’s vengeance. The target must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the target is paralyzed until it takes damage, or until the end of the user’s next turn. When the paralysis ends, the target is frightened of the eye for 1 minute. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if it can see the eye, ending the frightened condition on itself on a success. Once the target is paralyzed in this way, the eye loses this property.
  • 1 Revenant Eye of Hunting: Requires attunement. An attuned creature holding the eye knows the distance to and direction of any creature against which the revenant sought revenge, even if the creature and the revenant are on different planes of existence. IF the eye is allowed to see one of its targets, it loses this property.
  • 2d4 Hunks of Revenant Flesh: Slowly grows back over time. A creature can use this flesh as a source of food, one hunk will grow enough to feed one medium creature per day. However, each day at dawn, a creature who has eaten the food must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw vs poison. If the saving throw fails, the creature takes 14 (4d6) poison damage and gains one level of exhaustion. If a creature who the revenant has sworn vengeance against makes the saving throw, they take 14 poison damage and gain one level of exhaustion on a success. On a failure, they drop to 0 hit points and are dying.

Roc (11) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1 Roc Beak: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (smith’s tools) into a greataxe or helmet, both of which require attunement. An attuned creature gains proficiency in Wisdom (perception) checks, as well as on Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws, if they don’t have proficiency already. A creature without proficiency with greataxes or heavy armor cannot attune to the item. The bearer of this item (crafted or plain) has advantage on Charisma checks made to influence giants.
  • 2d4 Roc Talons: Acts as a war pick. The bearer of this item has advantage on Charisma checks made to influence giants.
  • 2 Roc Eye: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into Eyes of the Eagle. The bearer of this item (crafted or plain) has advantage on Charisma checks made to influence giants.
  • 1 Roc Heart: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (divination) by a spellcaster into an amulet. The amulet glows when a Huge or larger creature comes within 120 feet. The bearer of this item (crafted or plain) has advantage on Charisma checks made to influence giants.
  • 5d10 Roc Feathers: Acts as a dagger. 20 of these can be mastercrafted (leatherworker’s tools) into Wings of Flying. The bearer of this item (crafted or plain) has advantage on Charisma checks made to influence giants.

Roper (5) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1 Roper Hide: No Immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into hide armor that grants advantage on stealth checks made to hide in rocky terrain.
  • 3d2 Roper Tendril: Acts as 50ft of rope with AC 20 and 10 hit points.
  • 1d10 Roper Teeth: 20 teeth act as a bag of caltrops. Can be carefully crafted (jeweler’s tools) into dice.
  • 1 Roper Eye: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Darkvision (grants darkvision out to 60ft for one hour) or carefully crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Spider Climb (grants the ability to climb difficult surfaces, including ceilings, without needing to make an ability check).

Rust Monster (1/2) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1d2 Rust Monster Antennae: Can be used as an improvised weapon. On a hit, if the target is wearing nonmagical metal armor or a nonmagical metal shield, its AC is permanently lowered by 1. If the antennae is touched to a nonmagical weapon, the weapon receives a permanent -1 to damage rolls. If the target is not a weapon or armor, the antennae destroys up to a 1-foot cube of nonmagical metal. The Antennae can be used to rust an object once before it loses this property.
Next week, I'll be back to my old self, pumping out several thousand words for your amusement! This time: frogs?
Close enough for chaos.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Instant Settlement: Countries

Let's go exploring, buddy! (art courtesy of one of my players! Check her out!)

Bigger! Better! More! How far can we go in generating random areas? The answer, as you might guess, is pretty far.

We're moving a bit beyond the original scope of these generators, but I want to keep going into the country level. Why? Well, it's not like your players are going to stumble upon a country. (In fantasy, anyway. In Sci-Fi, happens all the time.) But using these generators for inspiration when building a continent or country can help you set up what kind of world you have, and can lead to some good exploration-based worldbuilding.

As you might imagine, this generator will be using a slightly different process than the last few.

Instant Settlement: Country


We once again start with a dice pool. However, this time it isn't set at the beginning. The type of dice you use determines the type of country you'll get.

Our first example roll

The pool should consist of anywhere from 10 to 30 dice. Use d4s, d6s, d8s, and d10s. If you want a country with diverse terrain or lots of coastlines and water, make the amount of dice per type about equal. If you want to focus on a particular kind of terrain, use primarily those dice.

That may not have made too much sense, but here's a list that will help you understand better:
  • d4s correlate to flatlands (deserts, grasslands, tundras)
  • d6s correlate to lowlands (swamps, brushland, ice sheets)
  • d8s correlate to forested areas (jungles, forests, taigas)
  • d10s correlate to highlands (mesas, mountains, glaciers)

The specific type of terrain is determined by latitude. If a country is closer to the equator, flatlands become deserts and highlands become mesas. If the country is closer to the poles, lowlands become ice sheets and forests become taigas. A country might be large enough to span multiple types of terrain.

When you roll your dice, connect each die to form triangles. These are regions within the country.
  • A region with 2-3 d4s becomes a flatland
  • A region with 2-3 d6s becomes a lowland
  • A region with 2-3 d8s becomes a forest
  • A region with 2-3 d10s becomes a highland
  • A region with three different dice becomes a coastline or inland lake.
Determining the terrain types
If you want an inland country, I'd recommend sticking to 2 or 3 types of dice, eliminating the kind of die that seems least plausible for your country. This will reduce the amount of water in the country.

Making it look prettier
Once you've established what regions are what, look at the numbers on the dice faces. Each triangle should be added up and compared to the list below.

Picking out the numbers
  • 3-7: Civilization Hub
    • Contains a city, several towns, and dozens of villages
    • Trade routes extend into every adjacent region
    • Low-level monsters and wild animals roam the area
    • Natural resources are common, such as farms, ranching, logging, mining, or hunting
  • 8-13: Frontier
    • Contains a town and several villages
    • Trade routes extend to adjacent hubs and frontiers
    • Mid-level monsters make their lairs in these areas, in addition to weaker creatures
    • Natural resources are less common
  • 14 or more: Untamed Wilds
    • Contains a couple hardy villages
    • A single trade route extends towards the nearest frontier or hub
    • High-level monsters make their lairs here, in addition to weaker creatures
    • Natural resources are very difficult to come by

Finally, let's talk about scale. The size of the triangles can vary based on the size of the country, but generally a region is about 100 miles on a side. Pick on of the lines on your map and set that to be 100 miles.

Obviously, for a larger country, you can pick a smaller line. But it's better to increase the size o the country by adding more dice, so that the regions aren't ridiculously large. They will be plenty big even without artificially boosting the size of your map.

The finished country!

This example so far was fairly populated, which makes sense since a country is usually ruled over and therefore "claimed". Don't be afraid to make areas of unclaimed wilderness between your established countries. We tend to think of maps as being completely covered in countries, but the history was not that straightforward. A map that has some space between countries becomes an evolving map: which kingdom will claim the mountains first? There's a cool plot hook.

In order to demonstrate the creation method. I've created a couple more examples below.
Rolling with more d4s and d6s

Determining Terrain

Topographical map

political regions
Finished map
I like the fact that a single die that rolls a high number can create an expanse of dangerous territory. Perhaps that 17 area is home to a terrible Black Dragon.


Rolling with more d8s and d10s

Determining Terrain

Topography

Political regions


Finished Map
This became a very mountainous country with lots of passes in the mountains. I'd say that's just perfect for a dwarven country. I also took advantage of rolling a 4 in the water area to make an island with a large offshore city.

I hope this has been interesting and inspiring! If any geologists or earth historians want to tell me how this generator could be improved, I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Recap: Hammers and Song

Everything a village could possibly need
Welp, another weekend that I didn't have a game scheduled... which means it's time to dig back into
Lost Mine of Phandelver! This module has about 5 sessions' worth of material, so I imagine we'll eventually finish it. Depending on player availability and such, of course.

Lost Mine of Phandelver


Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Makayla: Fwip Arda, Gnome Bard, born into a long line of musicians, prefers the avant-garde
Shannon: Rune Coldiron, Dwarf Knowledge Cleric, born into a long line of War Clerics, prefers thinking
Will: Walkas Barthen, Human Barbarian, son of a peace-loving shopkeeper, wants to prove himself with his fists

(Note: since I wanted to surprise my players and discourage some meta-gaming, I changed nearly all of the names and locations of the module to places and people from my homebrew world, Ahneria)

After the events of the last day, Fwip and Rune were exhausted. They stayed the night at the Stonehill Inn, along with Sildar Hallwinter, their patron and Uncle Bart's friend and guardian. Rune's uncle, Bartholemew Coldiron, was still missing. The group wasn't sure where to start, but they knew his map had been taken - a map to Wave Echo Cave, the fabled site of the Forge of Spells. If they could find it, they might find him as well.

Rune and Fwip went to Barthen's Provisions, where they had been told to deliver a wagon of supplies as a test of their adventuring skill. Despite having made it to the supplier, they were a bit down since they had been captured and nearly killed.

Inside the shop, they found the shopkeep, Elmar Barthen, arguing with his son Walkas. Walkas was mad because a local gang, the Redbrand Ruffians, had been shaking his father down for money. Elmar was a peaceful man and had faith that the gang would see the error of their ways, but Walkas wanted action and justice.


https://noiprox.deviantart.com/art/a-guy-called-Hammer-DnD-character-398915035
Anger: check. Big hammer: also check.
Elmar thanked the two adventurers for their efforts in bringing the supplies and asked about Bart. Upon hearing he had been captured, Elmar urged the girls to stick around town for a couple days, since Bart's brothers, Harry and Horace, were still in the area and would be back any day now to resupply. In the meantime, Walkas could show them around town.

The group went back to the Stonehill Inn and started digging up rumors. The innkeeper and his wife told them that the Redbrands had killed a local woodcarver. After that the woodcarver's wife and children went missing. The group was also shocked that the townmaster, Harbin Wester, had apparently done nothing to stop the attacks.

They went to the Townmaster's home, but discovered Sildar Hallwinter was there waiting for an audience. Sildar said he had been waiting for some time, and didn't think he would get anywhere. He asked them to look for Iarno Albrek, the mage they were supposed to meet in Phandalin.

They stopped by the Shrine of Luck and met Sister Garaele, a tiefling cleric of Olidammara. Though tieflings were a relatively common sight around Garlancia, Rune and Fwip (who grew up in Chortenhall in the mountains) had never seen one before. Garaele gave her blessing on the party's mission of helping the town be free of the Redbrand Ruffians, and Fwip prayed to the Gnomish God of Luck for aid.

After much debate, the group decided to confront the Redbrand Ruffians at the rundown tap house they hung out at: The Sleeping Giant. As they approached, the thugs immediately began to insult them and try to threaten them. Walkas stood his ground, and before long the Ruffians had resorted to drawing their blades to scare him away.

Inevitably, a fight broke out. The ruffians put up a paltry fight, but Walkas took them out one after another with his hammer. Fwip used the butt of her rapier to knock one of them out, and Rune kept everyone on their feet. The last ruffian turned tail and fled towards Tresedar Manor, an old ruined mansion on a hill near the town, but Walkas crushed his leg as he tried to escape and finished him off.

Walkas restrained the unconscious ruffian by stacking his comrade's bodies on top of him, before waking him up. The thug was extremely frightened, as one might expect, and told them there was indeed a secret hideout in Tresendar Manor. The Ruffian's leader, an enigmatic figure named Glasstaff, was located there as well. Also, the kidnapped wife and children were there, guarded by animated skeletons in an old crypt.

The party knocked him out and decided to wash off in a local well before heading up to the manor. As they did so, they met Carp Alderleaf, a young halfling who admired adventurers. Fwip and Rune, just barely qualified for the title, introduced themselves. Carp told the group that he had discovered a secret tunnel near Tresendar Manor. The party decided to take him up on his offer to lead them there, but not before grabbing a bit to eat from his mother, Qelline.

Tresendar Manor, a place of many secrets! Well, one secret. At least one.
The group made their way to the secret tunnel, and gave Carp a couple gold pieces to keep him quiet and happy. After walking for a minute or so, they came out into an underground chasm, which lead up into the basement of the manor.

Rune noticed a treasure chest stashed under one of the bridges, and the group tried to open it with extreme caution. However, they kept receiving telepathic messages disguised as their own voice, which dissuaded them. Finally, Fwip realized things weren't right, and they called out to the faceless voice that was tormenting them.

The voice demanded bodies, flesh to feast upon. In exchange, it would tell them where everything was in the dungeon. The group agreed, as long as they were killing Ruffians, they might as well get something in exchange for it. They climbed out of the chasm and headed down a tunnel.

The tunnel came to a dead end, but Rune realized it was actually a concealed door. They pushed it open and saw a room with a stairway leading up to the rest of the manor, as well as two other doors. Walkas walked over and pushed open one of them, revealing more Ruffians!

The Ruffians attacked, since the group was obviously not supposed to be there. Walkas held the door as long as he could, but eventually had to pull back and let Rune take the lead. The Ruffians fell to Walkas' and Rune's hammers, while Fwip played support and healed Walkas' injuries.

The last Ruffian decided to drop his weapon and surrender, and the group convinced him to quit the gang. They got a little more information out of him before they sent him up and out of the manor. The other two bodies, they dragged back to the bridge to feed the mysterious voice.

The voice told them where they would find Glasstaff and his guards. The group wanted to avoid them, and instead checked out a storage room nearby. They found a couple secret doors, and went through one of them.

They busted into a locked armory and picked up a few crossbows, then ventured into a crypt with three coffins in it. Just as the Ruffians had warned them, skeletons rose from the coffins and attacked!

Rune brandished her holy symbol and two of them turned back, fleeing to the corners of the room. The last skeleton advanced, fighting off even Fwip's mind-wrenching magic. Fortunately, the skeleton was stronger in the mind than the body, and Walkas finished it off with a crushing blow from his hammer. The other two followed quickly, and the group moved into the prison area.


https://ralphhorsley.deviantart.com/art/4e-DnD-Skeletons-86284402
The PCs get off easy, as usual
After dispatching a couple more Ruffians who were guarding the prison, they discovered the captured wife and children: Mirna, Nars, and Nilsa Dendrar. Mirna thanked them as Walkas used a crowbar from the storeroom to pry open their cages.

The group decided that since they had rescued the hostages, they would head back. They were sorely in need of a rest anyway. They threw the last couple bodies to the voice, and were surprised when it gave them a magical sword from a knight who had once lived in the manor. Walkas took it as a souvenir.

They made it back to town, where the townmaster was still looking for the mysterious killers who had murdered the Ruffians from the Sleeping Giant taproom. The group decided to hide out in Walkas' dad's shop, at least until the trouble had passed over. The Dendrars hid as well, fearing Rendbrand retribution.

That night, Fwip woke Walkas and Rune up before they were fully rested. The Stonehill Inn was burning, and a crowd had gathered in the town square!

The group rushed out to see a robed figure directing three Bugbears to throw torches into the flames. Walkas called him out, and the Bugbears attacked! Sildar Hallwinter, an experienced but elderly warrior and their patron, jumped to their aid.

Rune and Valkas charged the bugbears, who fell one by one to their hammers. Fwip made the robed figure double over in laughter, and Sildar did his best to fight alongside the trio. As they fought, rain began to fall, eventually growing into a drizzle.

Finally, the Bugbears had fallen, and Sildar ran forward. He dropped his sword in shock when he realized that Glasstaff was actually Iarno. Walkas had no such compulsions, and rushed forward to attack.

Iarno, however, decided to take the opportunity to flee. The group loaded their recently-obtained crossbows and shot him down as he ran out of town. The townsfolk cheered, and several of them approached the group of heroes to request their assistance. Sildar, recognizing the need for the young adventurers to get their rest, held off the crowd and directed the group back to Barthen's Provisions.

The next day, fully rested, the heroes awoke to find Sildar and Harbin had searched the manor and uncovered a box of treasure that Iarno had left behind. Since the group had driven off the Redbrand Ruffians, the treasure was rightfully theirs. The group decided to band together, taking the name "Hammers and Song" to reflect their fighting styles.

Feeling refreshed after the night's sleep, the heroes prepared to bask in their glory and help those around the town who were in need!

A bugbear. Closer to bear than bug, but still different from both.
Well, that's the second session of Lost Mines! Playing with a smaller party, it didn't go exactly as expected, but I think the final confrontation was much more epic because of it.

I don't have concrete plans for our next session, but just in case I let them level up to 3. We'll probably end up playing soon anyway, since Will, Shannon and Makayla are definitely my most active and invested players.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Creature Loot: P (& Q, why not?)

I can go the distance!
Greetings once again from my dissection laboratory! We'll be wrist deep in monster muck from here on in. Oh, you missed the syllabus? Well, check here.


Pegasus (2) – celestial (religion)
  • 1d4 Pegasus Hooves: Acts as a hammer. Can be carefully crafted (jeweler’s tools) into 1d6 dice. These dice grant advantage to gaming set checks made to determine the outcome of a dice game, but only when the user did not cheat in any way at the game.
  • 1d4 Pegasus Feathers: No immediate use. Can be crafted (calligraphy tools) into a pen, or carefully crafted (woodcarver’s tools) into 2 arrows. Arrows made from Pegasus Feathers deal an additional 1d8 radiant damage when they strike Fiends, or 1d12 radiant damage if they strike a Nightmare.

Peryton (2) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1d2 Peryton Antlers: No immediate use. Can be consecrated (no crafting required) into a druidic focus by a druid. The focus requires attunement, and a druid attuned to the focus may cast Bestow Curse once per day. Curse. A creature attuned to the focus loses its shadow, and is vulnerable to necrotic damage.
  • 1d4 Peryton Feathers: No immediate use. Can be crafted (calligraphy tools) into a pen, or carefully crafted (woodcarver’s tools) into 2 arrows. If a Peryton-feathered arrow is used to make an attack against a humanoid while the attacker is in hiding, the attack does not give away the attacker’s location on a miss.

Piercer (1/2) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1 Piercer Hide: No Immediate use. Can be crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into a cloak that grants advantage on stealth checks made to hide in rocky terrain.


http://lkrecic.tumblr.com/post/60727325441/doodle-of-buckthorn-a-rogue-pixie-dd-character
Now I just want to see a buff Hercules Beetle pixie
Pixie (1/2) – fey (religion)
  • 1 Pinch of Pixie Dust: When sprinkled on a creature, roll 1d10.
    • 1-7: The creature gains a flying speed of 60 feet for 1 hour.
    • 8: The creature must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or fall unconscious for 1 minute. The creature awakens if it takes damage or if it is shaken or slapped as an action.
    • 9: The creature must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw or be affected by a confusion spell.
    • 0: The creature becomes invisible for 1 hour. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the creature's person. The effect on the creature ends if it attacks, deals any damage, or casts a spell.

Pseudodragon (1/4) – dragon (nature)
  • 1 Vial Pseudodragon Venom: Can be applied to a weapon. When the weapon successfully hits a creature within 1 minute of the poison being applied, the target must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 hour. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target falls unconscious for the same duration, or until it takes damage or another creature uses an action to shake it awake.


https://ladysweetsour.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Worm-The-Adventure-Zone-Concept-Art-657182924
Ya did good, Junebug
Purple Worm (15) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 3d10 Purple Worm Teeth: Acts as a Warhammer. Can be carefully crafted (smith’s tools) into a Maul. 20 of these can be carefully crafted (carpenter’s tools) into a throne that grants advantage to Intimidation checks made by a creature sitting in the throne.
  • 6d12 Purple Worm Scales: Acts as a shield. 7 of these can be mastercrafted (smith’s tools) into a set of Plate Armor that grants resistance to acid damage. 50 of these can be carefully crafted into a Warship that gains an AC of 18 and a damage threshold of 25.
  • 5 Vials of Purple Worm Poison: Can be applied to a weapon or 3 pieces of ammunition as an action. A creature hit by the poisoned weapon or ammunition must make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw, taking 42 (12d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Once applied, the poison retains potency for 1 minute before drying.
  • 1 Purple Worm Stomach Lining: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into 4 sets of leather armor that grants acid resistance when worn. Can be crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into a Huge tent that is immune to acid damage.

Quaggoth (2) – humanoid (survival)
  • 1d4 Quaggoth Claw: Acts as a Scimitar. When used as a climbing tool, grants advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks made to climb.
  • 1 Quaggoth Hide: Acts as a blanket. Can be carefully crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into hide armor that requires attunement. While a creature attuned to the armor is at 10 hit points or fewer, the creature gains advantage on melee attack rolls, and deals an extra 2d6 damage to any target it hits with a melee attack.

Class dismissed! Next week, leave your scalpels at home...

The scourge of laboratories and adventurers everywhere
(Note: this week and next week, creature loot articles will be a little shorter than the rest. I've fallen a bit behind on pumping these out, due to some real-life commitments. We should be back on track soon!)

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fleeting Images

The idea, not the spell
I've been thinking about magic lately in the world of D&D. According to the designers of D&D, the system is extremely adaptable, and usable for many different styles of play. However, the rules of magic are pretty limiting, and give D&D magic a "feel" that is known as Vancian - after Jack Vance's novels, where magic was well-defined and able to be used up. This translated to the spell slot system of modern D&D.

This all correlates to Sanderson's First Law. In D&D, the players solve conflicts with magic. Therefore, the rules of magic have to be extremely well-defined. Too much flexibility means the players start using Prestidigitation to kill enemies. But rigidity has its drawbacks as well - magic users need to be able to apply choice to their casting, since RPGs hang on the ability to make choices in-character.

Because of the strictness of the D&D magic system, many people have made their own. I'm not about to do that (yet), but I wanted to talk about a specific part of the D&D magical world that brings up a lot of discussion - magic items.

Be warned: this article is a bit rambling. It ends with some neat ideas, though.

Persistent Magic



AKA Curmudgeonly magic
Magic item crafting is one of the holy grails of RPG design.

You have to create a system that is simple enough for a player to engage with it. You have to create a list of materials and a way for the player to gain those materials.You have to balance the system so major magic items cost more resources than minor magic items, and a low-level party can't just use 100 days of downtime and make a legendary sword. And you have to have enough flexibility in the system that the players have a chance to make unique gear as well as the items listed in the DMG.

Needless to say, that balance is nearly impossible to achieve.

But in D&D, those underlying assumptions about magic make it even more complex. Magic has to be well-defined, and it has to be limited in usage. But there's another property of magic that isn't obvious until you start reading into the magic item rules.

It comes down to how persistent the magic is - basically, is magic linked to a specific form, or does magic exist beyond a single form?

An example to illustrate.

Let's say you are a wizard, interested in crafting a magic item. You find a magical tree, ripe with enchantments, and cut off a branch to make a magic staff. Does the branch retain the properties of the tree? Or does it become a mundane branch? Or even a mix of the two - it doesn't have the tree's properties but it is more easily turned into a magic staff of any kind?

If the branch keeps the tree's properties, then the tree wasn't magical on its own. There was something connected to the tree, and it exists even if the parts of the tree are removed. Think of it like a blessing - the wood had an extra blessing on it that remains no matter where the wood is.

However, if the branch becomes mundane, then the tree was feeding the branch magic, and the magic relied on the form of the tree (roots, leaves, whatever) to make the branch magical. This could also be true for the third option, if the branch's former connection to the tree simply makes it more receptive to magic. This is less like a blessing and more like a Hallow spell. The tree is sacred, cutting a branch means it's not connected to that sacred magic anymore.

In D&D, magic isn't persistent. Magic relies on a very specific form, and if that form is broken, the magic doesn't work.

This makes crafting systems even more difficult to make.

Form over Function



http://jason-felix.deviantart.com/art/Ghostly-Hands-Magic-The-Gathering-343717373
"Hand" seems to be a useful form
First, though, I want to talk about how I concluded that form matters.

First, take a look at potion rules. Most potions contain one ounce of liquid, and must be completely used up to take effect. (DMG pg. 139-141). "Once used a consumable item loses its magic."

This implies that the potion only takes effect if a certain amount is used, not more, not less. You can't divide a healing potion among two creatures and have each one heal 1d2+1 HP. For some reason, it doesn't work.

Next, let's look at the Paired Items rules (DMG pg. 141). If you have a magical set of boots, bracers, gauntlets, or gloves, you need both of them to gain the benefit. If you try to wear only one, you gain no benefit. Why would that affect something like Gloves of Thievery? Do you use both hands to pick someone's pocket? No - it must be because the form of the pair matters.

Finally, let's look at material components. I believe that before a spell is cast, D&D assumes that the material components have no magical properties. Why? Well, to start, Silver has many more uses than Gold, and is altogether a more powerful magical item. However, it's worth a tenth of the price of gold. That makes little sense, unless magic is a property given to the metal rather than an innate property of the metal.

Also, saying things like tiny tarts (PHB pg. 280) have some kind of innate magical power gets a bit ridiculous.


http://o-l-i-v-i.deviantart.com/art/The-master-of-illusions-145006719
All possible, thanks to pastries
So, magic isn't found in objects randomly, and spells/magic items/potions are the specific combination of materials that capture magic, instead of being put together by magic.

This makes things even more complicated, because suddenly magic item crafting stops becoming "eye of newt and leg of bat" and start heading towards random experimentation with weird objects until you find a magical effect.

Imagine the wizard who just covered gloves in different patterns and oils until he found one combination of them that made them magical. That sounds boring as heck for a player character to actually do.

A Better Way?


Now, if all this is true, then why did I write about the innate magical properties of minerals a couple weeks ago? Why am I putting together a huge system that allows players to take advantage of the magic in monsters to make their own magic items?

Well, mostly because I don't like the idea that magic is just happenstance and random chance. The lack of persistent magic in D&D doesn't jive with the need for well-defined, limited use magic that can be used to solve conflicts.

I much prefer a system where certain items have certain properties, and spells are more about capturing those properties. You can even justify spell slots with this method - spellcasters carefully train their minds to act as a "nest" for spells. By creating a specific form in their mind, they can prepare and release spells like they were capturing spirits.

This is a world with persistent magic - where there's a little magic in every rock and tree, and turning them into something else doesn't take that magic away. This concession allows crafting to be feasible, while giving it the flexibility to allow players to experiment. It forgoes simplicity to make a system that is functional and deep.

Perhaps someday I'll make a PDF with crafting rules and mineral properties...

But not today! If you're interested in this sort of thing, I highly recommend you check out all the different articles I've linked here. There's a lot of good ideas in there.

Why you gotta be so complicated, magic?
Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday Recap: The Skies Above Silverymoon


Life in the pretty city
Once again, into Storm King's Thunder! We haven't really been following the plot of this module at all, but the players mostly seem to be having fun. They really are itching to level up, so it's time to get things headed back on track.

This week, I decided to throw in a side adventure that goes with Storm King's Thunder: The Cloud Giant's Bargain. I changed it up a bit to match the city they were in and the world they play in, but otherwise it was fun to run a premade adventure.

Storm King's Thunder: The Skies Above Silverymoon


Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Megan: Cecelia Sondheim, human bard of Valor, a Harper hoping for a bright future!
Cody: Rolen Dundragon, half-elf Warlock of the Archfey, a scoundrel with a heart of gold
Cait: Mialee Galanodel, elf Hunter ranger, from a distant land and doesn't have personal space boundaries
Shannon: Kye Bosunen, human Purple Dragon Knight, carries a big sword and his honor

When we last left our heroes, they had just been teleported to Everlund, the city where Cecelia had been trained as a Harper. They met Krowen Valharrow, an old wizard who seemed ready to party with the adventurers who had shown up in his tower.

The next day, the party met with Moonlord Daviana Yalrannis, the master of Moongleam tower and Cecelia's superior. They sheepishly explained what had happened the previous night: a massive party, where Rolen learned spells from the archmage while Mialee seduced him, Kye chatted up a very friendly elf politician, and Cecelia tried to impress some students from her bard college but ended up passing out.

Daviana seemed irked at them, and asked them to get back on track. They had information about the mysterious outbreak of giant activity, and Cecelia needed to act on it. She told them a contact had reached out for hired help in Silverymoon, a gnome named Bambra Gallagher. Daviana wanted the group to follow up on this, since it seemed that the gnome might have a job related to giants of some kind.

The group gathered some supplies and hit the road to get to Silverymoon. The journey was quiet. They saw another cloud castle in the distance, stayed at an inn, and met some Knights in Silver (Silverymoon's elite guards) who had slain some ogres along the road.


https://elmunderleaf.deviantart.com/art/Silverymoon-Southbank-66885980
Silverymoon: not full of garbage! - Silverymoon slogan
Once they reached the city, they were overtaken by its great beauty and style. Silverymoon was a clean and well-cared-for city, unlike Luskan. As per their instructions, they made their way to the docks along the Rauvin River and headed into the Son of the Goat tavern. The barkeep, with a painful roll of his eyes, gave them directions to the alleyway where they could meet Bambra.

Once they reached the alley, they saw a body sticking out from behind a pile of crates. However, Cecelia noticed the body was a dummy, and Rolen noticed a gnome peeking out of a second-story window. He sent his familiar, Morgana, up to investigate.

Just then, a group of thugs stepped out from behind the crates and brandished their weapons. Their leader, a scarred and burly man who called himself Lin Zee, told the group to prepare to fight.

The party sprung into action, despite Rolen nearly dying of laughter at Lin's name. Kye rushed forward, Cecelia unleashed a spell, and Mialee nocked an arrow, and Rolen prepared his magic.

Nearly immediately, however, the attackers surrendered. Once Mialee had shot one of Lin's underlings down, they threw their hands up and begged to make sure their friend was okay. The group was very confused, until the gnome in the window leapt down and introduced herself: Bambra Gallagher, representative of the Beautiful Adventurer's Guild!

It turned out that the attack was simply a test for the adventurers, and they had passed! While Bambra ignored the pained cries of the dying thug, she explained that the legendary hero Arannis Nailo was engaged in an epic battle with Count Stratovan, a cloud giant bent on the destruction of the human world.

Cecelia healed the thug with her healer's kit while Bambra detailed the task she had for the heroes. Count Stratovan's son seemed to be interested in peace talks, and had reached out to the Beautiful Adventurer's Guild via his majordomo. However, the Guild had no way of knowing if the son, Olthanas, or his majordomo, Balakar, were telling the truth. The adventurers needed to figure that out and broker peace, if possible.

The group was given maps to Olthanas's cloud castle, and a letter of introduction to the Beautiful Adventurer's Guild. It became very clear that they were completely expendable, but in the interest of learning more about the Giants, they took the job.

The letter from the adventure, which I edited to fit my own world
Finally, Bambra gave them a talking skull to look after them, and a choice: they could fly up to the castle of Griffons, or Bambra could take them up in her hot-air balloon and do a HALFF (high altitude low feather fall) drop into the castle gardens. The group opted for the latter.

Bambra took them up into the skies on her ship, which turned out to be little more than a rowboat with a balloon on it. She gave them a runestone with Feather Fall enchanted on it, and told them to crush it at just the right moment. The group decided to also make themselves invisible to help with the entrance.

They made a harrowing leap, but ended up landing perfectly in the gardens. Because only Olthanas and Balakar were potentially friendly, they had to sneak into the castle. The group moved carefully through the gardens, avoiding monsters and traps that would give away their presence.

Their first stop was Balakar's quarters. The room seemed well-kept and benign, but with their pet Rillex's help they discovered a mirror portal that lead to the second floor. There, they found Balakar's personal notes, and three empty vials of knockout poison. The group was very suspicious of this - it seemed like this mission might be a trap.

However, as they continued exploring they gained some hope. Using the hat of disguise, Cecelia turned into one of the Goblin servants of the castle and spoke to Olthanas's grandfather, Galadral. They learned that Olthanas actually admired the small folk such as themselves, while Balakar was more of the warmongering type. After some very awkward comments from Galadral, the group snuck away and moved to the second set of towers in the castle.

Here, they found a map room with further evidence that Balakar was planning to attack Silverymoon. They also noticed that Count Stratovan was making a move towards Waterdeep, Rolen and Cecelia's hometown. They made note of that, hoping to stop it.

The group also found a library, where they discovered that Olthanas had been looking at books about resolving family crises. Confident that Balakar was evil and Olthanas was good, the heroes made their way to the final set of towers, where their meeting was to take place.

Don't mess with the richest...
The party passed into the towers, heading towards Olthanas's quarters before they went to the central tower. Rolen used his mage hand trick to unlock the door, and they went inside. Mialee found Olthanas's giant diary under his pillow, and the group used it to confirm that he was a good guy. They left a note for him that he was going to be betrayed, just in case it happened when they had left.

Finally, they went to the audience chamber. Entering the tower, they saw two Cloud Giants awaiting them, a younger one in blue robes and a taller, more severe one. They correctly guessed they were Olthanas and Balakar.

Olthanas was relieved to see the heroes and thanked them for coming. Balakar was a bit more pressing, demanding to know how they infiltrated past the guards. The group was confused - aside from Olthanas's grandfather, they hadn't seen any other Cloud Giants.

Olthanas was also concerned that the adventurers had broken into his room. The party said they were just leaving him a present, but their secrecy made Balakar pressure them even more. Finally, the heroes said that Balakar might be planning to betray Olthanas, and Balakar decided to make her move.

She whistled loudly and a choker around Olthanas's neck began to tighten, cutting off his air supply. She then leapt into action, dealing heavy blows with her morningstar to Kye and Mialee.

The heroes leapt into action, Rolen and Cecelia unleashing their Hex-Curse combo on Olthanas while Kye slashed with his sword and Mialee leapt back to create a hail of arrows. Balakar, clutching her head in pain, was helpless before their assault.

Rolen rushed over to Olthanas and used his disguise kit to paint the Giant's Vind rune on him - even a low level Vind rune could cause a creature to no longer need air to survive. However, the rune failed to work, and Rolen racked his brains to discover the reason. He realized that by attacking Balakar, who was wealthier than he was, he had upset the Cloud Giant hierarchy and become "Maug". He quickly deactivated his Hex spell and Olthanas began to breathe again.

As Mialee fired another volley of arrows, a young White Dragon flew in from the window - a pet of the Giants. It attacked Mialee with its claws, and after the morningstar blow from before, Mialee was unable to take the blow and went down. The dragon flew over to Rolen, blasting him with cold breath and nearly taking him out as well.

Slightly less intimidating in the older books
Balakar used the chaos to turn invisible and attempt to flee, but Cecelia had climbed onto her back and was still visibly attached to her. Kye made a last-ditch effort to throw his sword like a javelin, and it stuck fast in the invisible Cloud Giant's head, causing her to become visible and keel over. Olthanas called to the dragon and it abated its attack, just moments before it would have finished off Rolen.

The group decided to stay with Olthanas for a few days while he took in the news of his majordomo's betrayal and they healed their wounds. Mialee tried to get closer to Olthanas's grandfather, but the old man seemed oblivious to her charms. The group decided to amuse themselves and cheer up Olthanas by throwing a fashion-montage changing room party, setting him up with some stylish clothing (pink, based on Mialee's preference).

Olthanas promised the group that he would spread the word to other Cloud Giants that his father's mad campaign was no good. He also gave them some magic items, some gold and jewelry that Balakar had kept around, and a book about magical jewelry.

The talking skull reviewed their performance, and decided they had achieved the rank of sub-employee in the Beautiful Adventurer's Guild, just barely not enough to gain benefits. However, they were granted some fabulous robes and a voucher for an in-person meeting with legendary hero Arannis Nailo, which was reward enough for the party.

Olthanas also told them that there was another Giant out there who might share their cause for concern. Harshnag, a member of the fabled Grey Hands of Waterdeep, was a Frost Giant who would probably be sympathetic to their cause. If they could find him, he would prove a useful ally.

The party headed back down to Silverymoon, a job well done.

Arannis Nailo: Professional beautiful elf
We stopped there for the evening. I enjoyed this adventure, and it gave a lot of opportunities for fun role-playing. It was nice to use a side adventure, bu I really want to get the plot back on track, so I think I'll be moving time forward a bit for our next session. We've really been counting the days strictly, and I want to get to the action!

Thanks for reading!