Friday, July 22, 2016

Christmas in July!

As they do every year at this time, RPGNow is hosting their "Christmas in July" sale, and once more all of my products are included.  So, if you have been thinking about getting any of them, now is your chance to get them at a discount!

Just click the RPGNow link on the sidebar to the right.  Thanks for looking!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Monastery

After they had freed the young dragon, the party was tired but elated with their recent successes. So, after travelling a bit to get away from the destroyed hobgoblin encampment, they made their own camp in the woods some distance to the north.

Through happenstance, a group of hungry goblins saw what they thought would be easy pickings in a sleeping party, with no one but a lone Halfling on guard. It was a slaughter. Not a goblin left standing. But, at least they weren’t starving anymore.

The next morning the party packed up and headed north, certain that the ancient monastery was somewhere nearby. After the wizard sent her familiar (this time in the form of a hawk) out to scout from above, she confirmed that they were on the right track, and the party headed out with renewed haste.

Not long after, the ranger found the remnants of a road, marked by regular stone, most of which were overgrown with moss, each depicting a strange rune. After a few more hours, they came upon the strangest site they had ever seen.

Carved out of the very side of the mountain was a perfectly circular area, with sheer sides matching the slope of the mountain. The ground inside was perfectly flat and level, and there, in the center, surrounded by the remnants of orchards and gardens, was the fabled monastery.

The party approached with as much caution as they could, and it seemed to work. They discovered that one of the large double-doors was intact and closed, but the other had fallen off its hinges decades ago, but had been propped up where it once had been. Seeing no other entrance, the barbarian and the cleric, both extremely strong, lifted the old door and tossed it aside. For their troubles they each received a thrown javelin.

A melee ensued wherein the party contended with two tough bugbear guards. But, just as they were dispatching these, they discovered that one of the doors off of this main entryway lead to a dining area, where eight more bugbears were having their meal disturbed. A grander melee ensued involving a raging barbarian, a Ball of Flame, and a bugbear-phobic warlock. When all was said and done, the bugbears were overcome, and the room was cleared.

The party proceeded to investigate and found some old, disused “barracks” of sorts. No evidence of traffic indicated that the bugbears had avoided this area for some reason. They also found a long storage area, that lead to an ante-chamber for the main hall. Peaking in the hall, they saw that the bugbears had, oddly enough, set up huts like a real village inside the building.

The party, shaking their heads, explored more of the building, finding the remnants of a library. The books that remained were in varying states of disrepair, and nothing was readable. However, the Halfling warlock cast Mend on a random tome, and came away with a pristine copy of Osgood’s Guide to Flora and Fauna in The Shades. They also found evidence of a lower level that had seen much recent bugbear traffic.

After a tense period where the remaining bugbears discovered their slaughtered compatriots, and seemed to be investigating the rest of the building, the party ventured back to the dining hall to find three guards posted, all nervous. The party made quick work of them, and decided to further investigate the main hall. What they found was the doors shut and barred from within…

The party is nearing the end of this first arc. After some asking for opinions, it was decided that I would continue this campaign for the foreseeable future, so that we alternate between it and my wife’s Dragon Age game. I already have some ideas about where it is going, and what they will face in the future. This is going to be fun!

Friday, July 8, 2016


I decided that my "world" needed a map. So, I did what any self-respecting DM would do, and I pulled out a piece of copy paper and a pencil and went to work.  When I had the basic areas laid out, I added some ink for clarity and style.

The result was a section of the world that includes The Rift (where the final battle with the Elemental Lords took place, and where the Ferrusans hail from). This map includes all of the places my players have been, and some where they might like to go.

After a couple of hours working my Photoshop magic, voila! The Northeastern section of Ameron. Not sure about some of the place names, but I can always edit those later.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Gods of Ameron

When I was creating the world of Ameron, where my current 5E campaign is set, I knew I wanted to do something different with the religions. The major event in the recent past was a war between Elemental Lords and the pantheon, and it ended with the Elementals driven back, and several of the gods destroyed.

To shake things up, I borrowed an idea from the Forgotten Realms, and brought in an "Overgod" (known as Ao in the Realms). This Overgod saw this whole fiasco as a failure on the parts of the pantheon of Ameron. So, he dispersed them all into the vast multiverse, and brought in two pantheons from another world, where they were viewed as little more than myths and legends by the majority of the current population.

This allowed me to avoid building an entire pantheon from scratch, and instead, I imported the Greek and Norse pantheons, and mixed them together. Currently, this new pantheon has no clear "leader" and most of the gods are still trying to gather followers. However, I also decided that some of them are not interested in re-creating the history they had on their previous world, and are instead using their godly powers to influence events by communicating secretly.

This all has actually worked out well. While my cleric and paladin characters have chosen specific deities, I have left it up to them how they worship, what their dogma is, etc. It has also allowed me to have other deities step in from the shadows and influence the game without being named or even known of. Without giving anything away (because my players might actually read my blog), the characters may get a few surprises pretty soon.

All in all, this whole experience has been kind of cool. In the past, I would try to lay out my entire world down to as many details as possible, before a single player character steps foot in it. This way I just started with a bare-bones idea, and am adding to it as I go. A lot of the details come in when players ask specific questions, and I have to make something up on the spot. I never thought I'd be good at that, but I find that I actually have to retcon very little as we move forward.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Red Menace Rises

We had another session of my 5E game yesterday.  One of our regular  players is on vacation.  And since his character in my wife's Dragon Age game is very integral to that story, we decided to go with my game in his absence, since he didn't mind this character being NPC'd so much.

We were also joined by three other players.  This campaign started out as a way to fill in a gap while this couple was on their vacation.  But, they liked the idea so much, that they wanted to join too when they got back.  So, they brought along their 12-year old son, bringing my PC count to 8.  That's a lot for me!

Anyways, I had to engineer a backstory that would bring the two groups together.  So, after some exposition, my current party, which consisted of a human paladin, a human barbarian, a tiefling ranger, a dwarfling warlock, and an elf rogue, were joined by a ferrusan cleric, a half-orc wizard, and a halfling warlock (yes, the majority of my friends don't believe in playing anything remotely "traditional").

They met in the tunnels where the hobgoblins were gathering slaves to be transported to their encampment.  After a brief exchange where they sorted out whose side everyone was on, and found themselves united by the shared concern for freed slaves, they escorted the villagers back to Slovane, and began making plans.  The sheriff informed them that he had a "visitor" that they might be interested in talking to.

The visitor was none other than the hobgoblin deserter whom they had freed earlier.  He had been caught trying to steal food for his journey away from this area.  He bargained once more for his freedom by providing more information that he hadn't thought was important in their first meeting.  It turned out to be just the clue the party was looking for.

But, before they could further their plans, the village came under attack.  The hobgoblins apparently wanted their escaped slaves back.  So, the party gave them a sound and magically flashy thrashing, that resulted in 15 dead hobgoblins, and only a couple of wounded party members.

During all of this RP, the party came to a few realizations.  First, this hobgoblin army was not nearly large enough to accomplish what they seemed to be intending.  There would certainly be casualties on the side of the humans and their neighbors, but in the end, the hobgoblins would most likely be slaughtered.  They also learned that a tribe of orcs from the same mountains were waging a guerrilla war with the hobgoblins, having actually been responsible for freeing the human slaves in the process of freeing their captured brethren.  And finally they found out that the leaders of this army had visited a long-abandoned, and rumored to be haunted, monastery prior to putting this invasion into motion.

The party decided that the best thing they could do was to send messengers to potential allies, and to the large town/city that seemed to be the hobgoblins' eventual target.  Meanwhile, they would journey to the monastery and see if they could cut the head off this snake.  They also agreed to release the hobgoblin, with a few coins and some supplies, and suggested he make his way to the trading outpost to the west, where a certain drow airship captain might be interested in employing him.

As they were preparing to leave, the rancher whose property they would be crossing to get to the mountains, pulled them aside, and told them a tale of a young copper dragon that he had befriended, and who he had struck a bargain with.  The dragon, however, had gone missing, and so he asked the party if they could keep an eye out for him, and see if he was ok.  They agreed, and headed out.

Once they reached the forested foothills, they came across signs of occupation in the middle of the wilderness.  What they found was an encampment of hobgoblins who had captured and caged the young dragon, and were attempting to break its spirit and enslave it for their own uses in their "war."  The party made short work of the slavers, and freed the dragon, who, upon hearing of the attack on the village, immediately flew off to ensure its safety.

At this point, the party decided to make camp in the woods, and make the last part of their journey to the monastery fresh in the morning.

Although the session went well, and everyone had a good time, I found I need to do a few things in preparation for future sessions.  First, I need to actually name my NPC's.  I always forget this detail (mainly because I work from general, hand-written notes, rather than a full-on script).  And I also need to make the combat encounters more challenging.  With this many casters, they are wading through my monsters way too quickly.

Not sure when we will get to play again, but I will endeavor to be more prepared.  After the session, I was inspired by a few more ideas that will (hopefully) make things very interesting.

And just for giggles, I drew a picture
of my son's barbarian character, Theeth.