D&D Tales – Dragon Hatchery (Part One)

Adam continues his descent into roleplaying games in a new D&D campaign.

For our fourth night we had present Ravoprax the dragonborn druid, Artin the dwarven fighter, Carnicula the elven sorcerer, Red the human barbarian and Eldo the forest gnome cleric, with a couple of absences due to people having lives or something. We awoke in the town of Greenest, and wandered into the town square to meet the governor and our friend Leosin, whom we had saved last time from imprisonment in the dragon cultist camp. Presented with a map of the cave system at the back of that camp, ominously titled ‘Dragon Hatchery’, Leosin asked us to go and check it out, find out what was hidden there and try to scupper the plans of the dragon cult. He was heading off to the nearby town of Elturel, to discuss the cultist threat with a companion of his, and if we met him there after scoping out the hatchery we could get some more information a decent reward.

hotdq-episode-3-map

Our trip back to the camp was uneventful, passing through the blood stained area of the fight we had last time, the dead bodies now largely expended carrion. Using the ‘Speak to Animals’ spell gained from following the barbarian ‘Path of the Totem Warrior’ option at level 3, Red spoke to a crow that was pecking out the eye of a dead cultist, and asked it to fly ahead to the camp and scout it out for us. An hour or so later we approached the camp ourselves, the crow having not returned yet, and we saw that almost all of the tents, including the large command tent, had been burned to the ground as the cultists had packed up and moved on. The only cluster still standing was to the east, and as we walked up to them we saw a small group of hunters gathered around a cooking fire, slowly roasting a crow that they had shot out of the sky (it seems this power will only be useful if your DM isn’t a dick).

We started to talk, as they clearly did not want to try and fight us. They were simply hired by the cultists for aide, to help bring them food and other items – they weren’t exactly prepared to throw away their lives for the cult. However, they also weren’t keen on spilling all the secrets of the cult, as they would likely want them dead too for that. Carnicula used a ‘Friend’ spell on the leader, a timed charm that made the target trust the caster – for a limited time. Immediately afterwards, the target would know that they had been put under a spell. We used the chance to ask about the remaining cultists in the cave below, with a few kobolds, cultists and the lieutenants Langdedrosa and Frulum Mondath all still down there. Once the spell wore off, the mentally violated hunter spat on the ground in front of Carnicula, before they all packed up and walked away.

We headed to the cave entrance. Fortunately, the previously bright and sunny day that would have cast our shadows deep into the hatchery as we approached and spoiled the element of surprise had clouded over, with the credit largely being attributed to Eldo Timbers Cracklebang constantly praying to his tempest god Talos.

clouds

Praise Talos.

As we slowly tried to move in, it was clear that there were enemies laying in wait for us behind some of the large stalagmites inside. Red moved forward to reach around and grab an enemy, and as the waiting dragonclaw raised an axe to cut off her arm, Ravoprax turned into a bear and attacked him savagely. Red then drove her sword into his throat, ending him before two more of his fellows sprung into action, facing down the tag team of the barbarian woman and the bear-dragonborn-druid.

lightning attack

Further behind, an ambush drake jumped down from a ledge above right onto Eldo, ripping into the gnome and nearly one-shotting him. One of Eldo’s abilities is for an arc of lightning to strike anyone who melee attacks him, so with 1HP he managed to deal some nice retaliation damage to the drake. Then, with the help of a firebolt from Carnicula, he finished the ambush drake off with ‘inflict wounds’ – literally ripping the life from the now dried husk of a lizard. Meanwhile, Ravoprax took some substantial damage from one of the dragonclaws, losing the bear transformation. Backing off, he finished him off with a dragon breath. As Red fought the other, cutting open his stomach (which was miraculously kept in place by his armour), Artin finished him off with an arrow from a support position with the spell casters. Three kobolds then appeared at the end of the cave, and Red, after activating rage, ran up and cut one down. Artin ran in from the back and ruined the second, while Ravoprax used a thornwhip spell to grab the last and finish him off.

 

We pressed on, moving down a corridor and into a nearby room where we found a cultist asleep and snoring loudly. We put on our various stolen robes, with Eldo balancing on Carnicula’s shoulders to wear the bear-sized robe we created last time. We started to talk to him, unconvincingly as we all threw terrible rolls. Eldo managed to hit Carnicula in the face, and when he cried out in pain from within the robes the cultist threw knives at him. Red tried to attack him, and failed so badly that she fell prone on the ground. Fortunately the bad luck didn’t continue, Ravoprax killed the man and we moved on. But not before looting the body, as is tradition.

As we pressed on, we came to another room. It appeared to be a barracks, now largely bare except one man drinking at the table, wearing ostentatious purple armour and an ornate dagger and scabbard with a dragon design. Ravoprax, Carnicula and Red all decided to stumble in, pretending to be drunk, while the others waited at the door…

Come back next time for the conclusion of the Dragon Hatchery episode, including lightning, infanticide and vengeance!

Adam

 

 

 

So it’s All Come Down to This… Black Holes and Bear Traps

Adam has started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in London. Here is his account of their first epic journey.

Waking up the next morning, and heading outside to relieve himself in the street like the Pirate King he is, King Roberto the Pirate King (last time I’ll do that, probably) looked up and saw a familiar figure above him in the sky. Venomfang the dragon swooped down and grabbed him, speeding off with Roberto in his clutches. That’s right, this time it was Samuel, Lordi and Bubbles that were absent from the session, and were left asleep in the pub (possibly where they were in reality too). Thus far only two participants of this D&D adventure have made it to every session – me and the DM. It speaks volumes about my social availability in the evenings. I don’t have a lot going on.

After a long flight, Roberto was dumped on top of a tall Wizards Tower where he found the missing Deano, Rick and Tiny. It turned out they had been up on this tower for several days, having failed to pry open a magically sealed trap door leading downwards. Venomfang wants us to travel to the bottom level of the tower, which oddly is only accessible from the hatch on the top, and retrieve a chest for him. Tiny persists in asking fairly stupid questions, trying his patience, but he does tell us that the chest contains a magic chain, which he wants to give to a Bronze dragon (apparently his love interest for hot dragon-on-dragon romance).  He is very clear, with the threat of imminent violence, that we do not touch the chain.

I mean, obviously we were going to touch the chain.

Indy

The dragon opened the trap door for us, so we all drop down on each other intentionally, causing slight damage to ourselves. The room contains another trap door, also sealed, and a pedestal with a leather pouch on it. There are spikes on the ceiling, presumably attached to a mechanism on the pedestal, so we spend far too long trying to Raiders of the Lost Ark the bag. Finally, we set the trap off, and the spikes come down but stop. Apparently just a warning not to continue, even though the door magically opens. We continue

The stairs turn into a slide on the way down, so we all slightly damage each other again tumbling down. We find a circular room filled with water, with an island in the middle of the room and a flaming torch. In the water these was a skeleton holding an ornate sword, which Deano dove in to grab, and his hand stuck to the sword. It wouldn’t budge, so he started to drown. Rick tried to pass air into his lungs, but just ended up awkwardly kissing him. Roberto dunked the torch into the water, thinking it was magic or something (secretly hoping it was gasoline and he could “accidentally” get rid of Deano, whom he doesn’t trust at all) but that was a bust, and Tiny also tried to be helpful by bringing a flask full of air to Deano, but his small limbs meant he swam too slowly and Deano eventually manages to shift the sword and swim up by himself, with a nifty looking new two handed sword.

Through next trap door we found the room full of bear traps. The floor was completely covered, so we tapped one with a sword to set it off, and as it snapped closed a black hole appeared, summoning a large black bear. As we fought it, more black holes were triggered, bringing in more bears. Peering through one of the singularities before it closed, we saw a lush valley full of calm looking bears. There were now three in the room with us, none of whom appreciated being ripped from the Valley of the Bears, and one of whom was severely injured from our attacks and the two traps attached to his legs.

Slowly we created a path to the next room, first by setting off a trap on purpose, pushing the dying bear through the maw straight away, the black hole closing afterwards without dragging another through. Then we got the idea to use the traps on the bears to send them back to their home. We didn’t want to leave the bears stranded, so in a misguided attempt at setting them free we tried clamping the traps on the bears, opening the vortex directly on them and sending them back to the rolling fields full of their friends. Possibly bleeding to death.

DwarfThe next room was divided by a deep trench across the middle of the room, several feet wide. At the bottom were deadly spikes, and we also discovered that there was a barely visible glass wall on the other side (by Rick jumping in to it and nearly falling to his death). Throwing rocks at the glass revealed that it didn’t go all the way to the ceiling, so we attempted a midget toss using Tiny, tying the rope round him and launching him over the wall. He smashed in to the glass, shattering it, and as he picked the glass out of his face, we all jumped over through the gap he created.

At last, we found the chest we were searching for. Ignoring the dragon’s threats, we opened it and Tiny touched the glowing chain inside. He was enveloped in energy, and was suddenly and permanently bestowed with Gold dragon powers, including the ability to breath fire. His appearance was altered too, with his hair turned to gold and crackling energy surrounding him, turning him into the least subtle thief of all time and resulting in him looking a lot like this…

Trunks

The chain was left grey and depleted. We would have to lie to Venomfang, and try and convince him that we found it like that. We drag the chest all the way to the roof, leaving Tiny down one level, due to his new glowing presence. Disappointed, the dragon nonetheless believed us when we say we didn’t use it, but King Roberto decided to mock him anyway, muttering under his breath. Venomfang casually, yet swiftly, stabbed Roberto with a single claw and nearly one-shotted him on the spot.

Apologising and bleeding profusely, we gave him the chain and he gave us back our ropes so we could join them together and climb down from the tower. As we made our way back to our compatriots, King Roberto mused on what he had learned that day. Mainly, that Level 4 players can’t take a dragon, and as such should probably avoid antagonising them.

Adam

 

Check out part 7 here!

Comic Review – God Hates Astronauts #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I picked up God Hates Astronauts #1, the first of a five issue mini-series. It was written and drawn by Ryan Browne, with colours by Jordan Boyd and letters by Chris Crank and Ryan Browne, published by Image Comics.

Where to start? God Hates Astronauts involves astro-farmers, who are in love with chickens-turned- Frankenstein’s monster-style creations, trying to find their way to the ‘Golden Moon Heaven’ using shoddily built rockets. NASA doesn’t want them doing any of that, so they send star bears and the Power Persons Five, headed up by Star Grass (a cosmic ghost warrior created by the merging of the headless body of the hero Star Fighter, and a ghost cow head called Blue Grass) to put a stop to them. There are also crab people in a different galaxy, who are angered by one of the astro-farmers’ rockets crashing into and destroying one of their ships. They are ruled by Tigers. Eating cheeseburgers.

If any of that doesn’t sound great to you, I don’t know, maybe you just hate fun or something. It is actually a continuation of a previous series by Browne, which I haven’t read (I will after having read this, you can buy the whole thing in trade paperback or read it on the GHA website), but the back story is summed up in two pages by ‘3-D Cowboy’ pretty succinctly. I can’t really adequately describe this comic, but god damn I enjoyed it. It was the funniest thing I have read in a long while, the story made just about as much sense as it needed to, the dialogue was laden with unnecessary profanity and the all the characters are totally ridiculous. The art was a lot of fun too, with heavy line work and really nice and vibrant colours making The Impossible’s insane powers look particularly good. I loved the brilliant sound effects too, like ‘MARITAL STRIFE!’, ‘SPACE COLLISION!’ and ABOUT TO CLICK!’.

Fantastic stuff. Buy it. Now.

Score: 9.5 Tigers Eating Cheeseburgers out of 10