D&D Tales – Dragon Hatchery (Part Two)

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

Last time we left the group down in the Dragon Hatchery caves, about to enter the now almost empty barracks, as the majority of the dragon cult had packed up and moved along. In the room was a lone cultist wearing ostentatious purple armour and an ornate dagger and scabbard with a dragon design, drinking heavy at the table. Ravoprax the dragonborn druid, Carnicula the elven sorcerer and Red the human barbarian all stumbled in, pretending to be drunk, while Artin the dwarven fighter and Eldo the forest gnome cleric waited at the door.

Responding as if we were friends (we were still wearing out pilfered cultist robes), he told us that the rest of the cult had headed north to Neverwinter, and that there was actually much more to the ritual of raising the dragon queen Tiamat than just amassing gold. He indicated that Frulum, his boss, was in the next room through a wooden door. Carnicula then offered up a drink to the man, a shot of the dragon’s blood from Eldo’s bottomless flask that had already permanently altered Carnicula’s body (leaving him bald and 10 inches taller the previous day). He poured out shots for all four at the table – Red faked drinking her shot, Ravoprax gained the temporary ability to teleport, Carnicula was surrounded by an aura of floating butterflies, and the cultist gained the ability to shoot lightning out of his hands, causing massive damage (something like 4d10) to whomever he targeted. We egged him on to attack the wall (instead of us), but he decided to aim straight at the door. Vaporising the wood, the bolt crackled into the darkness of the next room. There was the sound of a woman screeching (to the tune of 33 DMG), and then silence.

electrocution

The cultist, now concerned that he may have harmed his superior, timidly walked towards the smoking door. Carnicula sneaked up on him and stabbed him with a dagger, while everyone else then attempted to attack him too with varied success. Enraged, the man nearly instant-killed Carnicula, taking him down to -12HP (if you go more than your max HP below zero you die instantly, without the chance to stabilise with saving rolls when unconscious) and pinned him to the wall. Ravoprax then finished the man off with a thornwhip. In the next room we found Frulum Mondath dead, saving us the trouble, but anything of value had been fried when she burned up in the attack. In her chambers we found diaries and a map of the area, indicating the towns already attacked and ransacked, and an arrow pointing to the town of Beregost – potentially the next target.

half-dragon

At the end of room was a rope descending into the darkness beneath. Ravoprax led the way down, with everyone following with various degrees of success when trying to stay quiet. There, praying to a large statue of a five-headed dragon, we found Langdedrosa, the blue half dragon who led the attack on Greenest and delivered a beating to Red in one-on-one combat for the lives of some hostages. Eldo, for some reason, cast a fog over the back of the room. As he had already heard us approach, we walked out of the fog and faced him. After taunting Red for her defeat, and Ravoprax for the slaughter of his people, the party attacked Langdedrosa. Ravoprax enveloped him in a moonbeam, a column of light that delivered damage as long as he stayed in it, but it would also damage any of us entering the area, making melee attacking almost impossible.

Almost.

Ignoring this, Artin ran in to attack, receiving damage herself from Ravoprax’s spell and then missing the attack badly, knocking one of the heads of the statue. Suddenly acid spat out of several holes in the wall, damaging Langdedrosa and instantly knocking out Carnicula again. Staying out of the moonbeam, Red threw her handaxes at the half dragon, dealing moderate but frustratingly low damage considering how much she wanted his head. Enraged at the acid burning his skin, Langdedrosa hit a multi attack on Artin and knocked her out too. But in doing this, the DM forgot to move him… so at the end of his turn he took a huge amount of extra damage from the moonbeam, and collapsed to the ground.

The spell ended, Red walked up to his body and cut off the head, as Ravoprax prised off a tooth for his necklace. We stabilised and woke our unconscious comrades, and opened a chest under the statue. A click indicated a trap, but as Artin had already set that off during the fight by accident, nothing else happened. Inside was a good haul of various gems and jewellery, so we pocketed all of it to sell later.

Continuing into the cavern, we found a room with three large black dragon eggs. For reasons that I probably won’t ever understand, Carnicula and Eldo decided to sacrifice one to Talos under the Tiamat statue. Cracking the egg open, Carnicula bit into the infant dragon in it’s death throes, again taking acid damage before it died. As Ravoprax thought that the best course of action was to finish destroying the eggs, because more black dragons would be a bad thing, we elected to crack them open. So, through a decidedly less insane method than the other egg, Red and Ravoprax broke open the remaining two and put the writhing baby dragons out of their misery. Dark.

Image credit: Dragon eggs by jedeleon2

Dragon eggs by jedeleon2

We moved on, finding another room largely empty with a few rats scurrying around. Using ‘Speak to Animals’, Red asked one of them about what was left in the cave. After finding out that we had disposed of all of the dragon eggs and most of the cultists in the area, and hearing the words ‘ambush drake nursery’ describe one of the remaining caves, we decided that we were done here. It was late, we had been battered from all of our fights, so we headed outside.

A single kobold stared at us from the watchtower outside the cave. Red held up the head of Langdedrosa, and the kobold threw himself out of the tower, killing himself instantly. A pretty extreme reaction, as this was one of the rare times when Red wasn’t actually planning on killing. The party decided to head through Greenest to rest, before heading on to the town of Elturel to meet up with Leosin.

We decided to start recording these D&D sessions as a test to see how it would sounds as a podcast, and we ended up liking it a lot and kept it up in the form of ‘Total Reroll’. As such this is the last installment of D&D Tales, mainly because it is too much hassle writing up and editing the sessions for a podcast at the same time (it’s also much funnier). Check out the first episode here!

Adam

So it’s All Come Down to This… Cave-ins and Betrayals

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

So it’s all come down to this. With everyone fed and drinks poured, we got an early start on the last night of The Lost Mines of Fandango campaign. The group had no idea what to expect, with conversations with the DM hinting at various nefarious plans of his to ensure that not everyone would make it out alive. Perhaps even none of us. As always, it started back up at the inn.

Bubbles threw the customary herpes roll for the start of each game, to see if they had a flare up or not. A natural 20. With no sign for two sessions now, was the viral disease gone? Was it linked to Glass-staff, and now we had snuffed him out Bubbles was clear? Was this dice roll indicative of a successful night? Doubtful. That isn’t really how probability works.

With Gundrin safe, we learned more about Wave Echo Cave.  The Forge of Spells located there was created by wizards and dwarves, but they were later all killed by orcs. Those orcs in turn all died in a cave-in, so now all that resides in the caverns are the Black Spider and his minions, stirges and various members of the undead, such as ghouls, zombies and skeletons. Not to be deterred, we restocked (and got some new bling) and headed off.

As we approached the cave, King Roberto the Pirate King used the power of his eyepatch to summon a storm, raising his his sword as a mast to attract the lightning into the blade while yelling a vague attempt at the Unrelenting Force dragon shout from Skyrim. Barely hurting himself, he managed to trap the bolt into the longsword Talon, giving it +1 lightning damage for the rest of the day.

Thunder

Excitedly, the homeopathic cleric Samuel tried to replicate this. Every step was slightly off, starting with the fact that Samuel doesn’t have the same ability to summon lightning. He then raised his hatchet, rubbing it on his head to generate static electricity. Rather than imbuing his weapon with lightning, he slightly scalped himself and suffered minor damage before we even went into the cave. Finally, Tiny forgot to tie up his poorly named horse again (now with 3 names: Asymmetry/Raider/Rascal). He lost his horse in our 1st edition game for forgetting to tie it up, which he failed to learn a lesson from, but luckily since getting it in this game has not had it stolen or wander off. Yet.

We went in to the cave, finding one of Gundrin’s brothers dead. As is tradition, we looted the body but he didn’t have anything of use. So we stole his shoes. Dead men walk no trails. Or something. The only other thing in the cave was a hole and a rope down into the darkness. Tiny went down to look around quietly, but Samuel shouted down after him and two skeletons appeared. He managed to stay hidden, but Samuel dropped down after him and hurt himself. Deano followed, and he and Tiny quickly saw off the skeletons. King Roberto and Lordi dropped down too and hurt themselves a little, while Bubbles landed perfectly, “slut-dropping” to celebrate and/or taunt the others.

SD

We had two choices here, one corridor appeared to have acid damage down it but with no visible traps, so we concluded that there was likely some kind of acid spewing nasty awaiting us. The other direction did not have acid damage. We chose the path of least acidification, arriving in a large constructed cavern, littered with bones. Tiny and Bubbles investigated (with Tiny hearing a voice in his head say “You’re a cunt”), spying a group of ten stirges in ceiling. Lordi tried to sneak round the room, but made too much noise and got swarmed by half of them, the other half went onto Roberto. A swarm of the little buggers could be nasty, as they hit for much more damage than you’d expect for a weird mosquito/vampire bat/bird cross, but they also take little more than a backhand to kill, so the group made short work of them.

Lordi and Roberto did take a fair bit of damage, leaving the former fairly close to being knocked out, so we went up to a guard room for a quick rest. However, there was no such luck as nine skeletons rose up to meet us. Deano attacks with burning hands (which I always hear as if a stoner is chanting “burning maaaannn!”) charring several. Samuel then ran in, smashing one of the smoldering skeletons to pieces, which may have been his first ever kill. Throwing his extra attacks around like a big-shot, sure to not put himself in great danger later, King Roberto walked into the room confidently,  killing two and damaging another, while getting hit himself for a savage critical.

Skeletons

Much to everyone’s surprise (possibly because he is a cleric, and not a very good one) Samuel killed another two by dual wielding even though he has no proficiency for doing that, caving in their skulls. Roberto gave him a fist bump as congratulations and the DM gave him a disadvantage on the next roll. Worth it. Deano kills another. From the door, a heavily damaged Lordi attempted a cone of ice spell from the door on the last skeleton, already only crawling slowly along the ground towards the party. They missed, and the skeleton continued to inch towards the caster, before King Roberto just walked up to it and crushed its head under his foot.

After a rest, we walked through a cavern full of mushrooms and spores. Some erupted near King Roberto and the DM tried to make him roll for poisoning, forgetting that he, Deano, Tiny and Rick all found rings of resist poison in the wizards tower. The DM was unhappy about not getting to poison someone. This would not be the first time the DM would be irritated that his plans didn’t work out entirely. Before stashing some of these mushrooms, Deano used his resistance to openly eat one in front of Samuel, mocking him and his susceptibility to poison and hunger.

We arrived a hall with a starry ceiling. Feeling magic coming from two attached rooms, Samuel went straight into the first, as he couldn’t bothered to be helpful anymore. It was burnt out, and contains a wraith named Mormesk. He was once a wizard, and one of the founders of the Forge of Spells. We tried to get information and convince him to give us his treasure, but Samuel got bored and attacked. Predictably, Tiny sneaked in mid-combat,  stealing the treasure. After a quick fight, Samuel finished off the wraith. He was having a killer night.

The opposite room contained a brazier (we all laughed) of green flame – the Forge of Spells. A multi-eyed floating monster calling himself The Spectator (a relation of a Beholder) used a psychic voice, telling us that he watches the forge. Lordi, after being ignored a few times while yelling “ray of ice”, hit him with a ray of ice. Once again mid-combat, Tiny stole some shiny weapons from the sides of the room. The fight was looking to get pretty hairy, but Samuel in a stroke of genius used a Control Water spell to desiccate the monster’s multiple eyes, removing all of the fluid and blinding him. No longer able to fulfil his roll as a spectator, he disappeared. Suspecting that we were coming up to the end, we all used the forge, which temporarily granted +1 stats to all of our weapons.

Spectator

Finally, we headed up through the arch at the end of the hall, finding a large room lined with stone pillars and a giant dwarf statue at the end with huge emerald eyes. At the foot of the steps up to the statue was a campsite, where two bugbears and a dark elf got to their feet. The Black Spider and his cronies. Boss fight time.

Immediately four of us were webbed up by four giant spiders crawling down from the ceiling. We all struggled free, as the Black Spider disappeared. Once again Roberto’s resist poison ring came in useful, avoiding succumbing to a spider bite. He eventually took out the spider facing him and another, while Tiny and Bubbles brought down one each. We were all taking heavy damage, first from the spiders and then the bugbears. Samuel was hit badly, and tried to escape to the exit but was knocked out. Our first actual KO. And while nobody was looking, preoccupied with the battle at hand, clawed hands dragged his unconscious body away…

It looked like the battle may be turning in our favour. All throughout, the invisible Black Spider was using his telepathic powers to plant suggestions into the heads of various party members, to get them to turn on their companions, but we were lucky with out rolling so they were all shrugged off. With a well placed magic missile, Lordi managed to simultaneously knock out the Black Spider and kill the more wounded bugbear.

With only one enemy left, it looked like we had this in the bag. Suddenly an imp came down from the ceiling, appearing to be Scratch’s true form (Deano’s pet psychic rat), who started pulling at one of the eyes on the statue. All through the boss fight, and in fact the whole dungeon, Deano had been constantly messaging the DM. Secret plans had been afoot. He then used thunderwave on the whole room, damaging everyone and throwing Tiny to the side of the room. I flat out ask him if we need to get out, and he said it would probably be a good idea.

Not quick enough though. Scratch yelled ‘I did it!’ and yanked the eye free. The room started to shake, the pillars fell and the ceiling collapsed. Deano was already at the door, with Bubbles and Tiny nimbly making it through too. King Roberto stumbled but just got there in time (I fucked up the first roll, but used an inspiration point to re-roll and scraped by). Lordi though, failed the dexterity roll and was crushed to death instantly.

nothic

Once the dust was cleared, with the last bugbear, the Black Spider and our companion Lordi all dead from the cascade of rock, we found Samuel’s corpse horribly mutilated nearby with his heart removed. It turned out that Deano had been continuing his friendship with the Nothic, the beast he had been feeding dead and live bodies to back in Trent Reznor Manor, and had promised him plenty more bodies to feast on in Wave Echo Cave if he came along as insurance. When it turned out that most of the creatures in the cave were light on meat and heavy on bone, he offered a new deal – us.

He planned the cave-in using Scratch, but unfortunately for him far more of us survived than he had thought. So he played the innocent. And he played it well. The most infuriating thing about his betrayal and the nature of the RPG is that we knew full well that he had tried to stab us in the back. We knew he had been doing similar things all along, and that ultimately he could and would betray us. But our characters didn’t know. He never did anything so blatant, until this, that we could accuse him of. We never had a chance to catch him in the act. And even if we had, he was one of our strongest fighters. A confrontation may have left us more than just one man down. Well played you cunning bastard. If fewer of us had escaped the cave in, he almost certainly would have finished us off too.

So we had two characters die, Samuel and Lordi. But then out of nowhere, and possibly in his first selfless act of the game, Tiny announced that he had a scroll of revivify. Presumably taken from one of the many treasure chests he looted without telling us, he could revive one dead character. Despite having had an excellent night, Samuel was done. His player wanted to move on to a new character after this, and didn’t mind being the sacrifice. So Lordi was revived, and Samuel remained dead and horribly torn apart. What a guy.

Epitaph

Samuel the Cleric 2014-2015

And that was it for our first campaign in D&D. We had a deal with Gundrin for 10% each of the profits from the Forge of Spells, the kind of potential fake in-game money that a person can retire on. We all had a blast trying this out, as for almost all of us it was a first foray into pen and paper RPGs. Even those that were initially skeptical ended up loving it, and nearly all of us picked up the Player’s Handbook. In the end we all decided to start up some new characters for the next session, as these had all been presets with modified backgrounds. Now everyone has had a feel for the game, everything is going to get a bit more in depth and the stakes are likely to be higher, but everyone is in.

I may go back to my first character at some point, but for now this is King Roberto the Pirate King signing off.

Roberto

These D&D adventure write ups may continue in some form on the site as we make the games a little more regular with our new characters. I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles, please let us know any feedback you may have from them in the comments below!

Adam

 

The Lost Lighthouse First Thoughts Review: Through The Breach RPG

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Gary checks out Wyrds first pen and paper RPG

After almost a years extra wait, my Through The Breech (TTB) Kickstarter has arrived! Now I’m not going to go on a rant about Wyrd not delivering on time etc etc because of one simple thing, they communicated! Because of the tardiness backers also got a free Arcane fate deck and a Lilith crew. Thank you very much!

In this article I will make reference to the fictional world and the actual miniature game ‘Malifaux’. If you are unaware of this amazing game and story then it’s probably worth check out Ben’s article here before continuing with this one.

I’m a massive fan of pen and paper RPGs, and when I found out that Wyrd were releasing one for Malifaux I got very excited! I was even more excited when I learnt that Mack Martin was the lead designer.

For me the two most important elements to a great RPG are mechanics and character creation. The mechanics should be smooth but not so simple that it’s not worth going through the motions, and they should never NEVER stop the story from being the star role. Character creation should be fun and get you excited about playing him/her. It’s should be clear as it’s normally new players doing it and should explain, in-game, what the stats and skills you’re choosing relate to.

image

The Cross Road Tarot helps build your character

So, does Wyrds new baby cut the mustard? Well, in my humble opinion, yes but with a few caveats. Character creation is very close to being perfect but it slips up on some very basic things. To me, it’s written as if you already know how to do it and the steps are just a simple summary of what you need to do. A little more detail here is sorely needed. In the pursuits section, your started talent isn’t even labeled as such. Basic stuff like this can be confusing to a new player.

Mechanics in mind, to put it very simply, if you know how to play Malifaux you can learn this very quickly. Which is fantastic! It’s exactly as any Malifaux fan would want it. They do add some extra actions to make ‘dramatic time’ more interesting. The other thing you need to know is you use cards from a communal ‘fate deck’, rather than dice like most RPGs. At times though, constant flipping of cards slows down the story and at other points the cards seem a bit shoehorned in. But these are very rare occasions, and I think the design team have done a great job. I think it must have been difficult to build the mechanics around the cards but it’s turned out very nicely indeed. Personally, I’d still rather roll some dice, but I do love dice.

Should you buy into this system? If you love Malifaux and want to get into pen and paper RPGs then this is a perfect gateway game but hopefully Wyrd will release some sort of ‘helper’ PDF for character creation. If you are already into pen and paper RPGs, don’t over look this one as it has some cool new takes on the genre. If you’re not at all into Malifaux then maybe give it miss but if there’s even a hint of steam punk love in your pneumatic bones then give it a go!

On friday we shall be releasing a mini-cast where ‘The Tabletop Project’s own Jan Proudley creates his character with Gary.

Love to your mothers

Gary.