Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Zook's Adventure Log

Adventure Day 1.

On Gundren's request, I met the others he had hired in the shops district.  Quite early in the morning, I might add.  I normally am in bed at this time, having retired only hours beforehand.  However, I strummed as I walked along, to keep my spirits up, and perhaps to invade the dreams of those still asleep with a gentle melody.  I could not help but think of the old hero Janil, and the early morning start he got on his epic quest.  On arriving I could see that the company Gundren assembled was not full of mere guards and mercenaries.  No, these were true Adventurers. Some looked quite seasoned.

First there was Virgil.  A rather mute human who looked and smelled as if he had just crawled up from the sea.  However he did look formidable, the sword at his side appeared well used.  Also, having already arrived was an impressively armored half-orc. I had not known their kind to look as polished as him.  I did not catch his real name, because when I asked he offered "No One."  I do not know if he was being poetic, or really did not have any name.  It certainly will not do for songs and stories, so I must find him a name soon.  A lithe elf soon arrived, smelling of the deep forest, branches still adorning his hair.  Elalanil hailed from his forestlands, saying he was here on the behest of his order, the Emerald Enclave.  I suspect he is one of those Druids from the old tales.  Keepers of the forest, protectors of nature's balance.  I suspect he might provide a good tale or two.  The final arrival of our new party was Jatambe.  The Chultan are a very rare sight, even in a port town.  He had the air of a learned magic user and seemed to know Virgil quite well already.

As everyone gathered, Gundren rode up a pony fit for a dwarf of his stature, accompanied by his business associate, Sildar.  We were tasked to buy and transport an array of supplies to a town a few days south by the name of Phandalin.  Though he didn't say, it appeared that the supplies were for a mining operation.  As we gathered up the list (at a good discount, thanks to some very thrifty shopping by myself and No One), we also gathered rumors on the road, and it sounded quite dangerous.  I am glad Gundren hired such seasoned warriors.

The first day on the road was unimaginably boring, so I regaled my companions with songs and tales of Janil, seeing as he was on my mind.  Never have I played to such an ungrateful crowd.

Adventure Day 2.

[Story Narrative]
Two horses lay lifeless in the path ahead, while goblins lay in wait in the trees lining the path.  Elalandril took it upon himself to go ahead of the group, and glean any information he could from the carrion crows flocking to the corpses, fully unaware of the goblins ready to strike.  Strike they did.  Gundren's Heroes [note: need better name] struck back, with more force, slaying one of the beasts and capturing three others.  Interrogating the goblins informed our heroes that their employer and his human companion had been captured. Sildar taken to be eaten by the clan, Gundren to be given to a Bandit chief.  The adventurers pursued the goblins to their clanhold, a small cave to the north. Virgil lept a river, and into the middle of two guards, catching them unaware.  With an expertly aimed shot from No One's crossbow, and Virgil's sword, the guards were soon floating down the creek.  The party continued into the cave in search of Sildar.  Soon they found the kitchen, Sildar unconscious and bound. Goblins attacked with swords and shields, spoons and forks, but their untrained tactics were no match for Gundren's Heroes.

Sildar explained the business he and Gundren had undertaken. Gundren had found a way back into the fabled Wave Echo Cave, thought lost to time in the last age. Gundren was taken to the bandit chief, Grol, so the factions of chaos and disarray could gain what power may lay in, and overthrow the civilized folk of the region.

As we sit here and rest, I worry for Gundren, and whose hands he has fallen into.  I also worry he has started something beyond his ability to control.  My people also have tales of the Wave Echo Cave, and while the wealth inside could be a boon to a great many people, it is perhaps best left to history.  On the other hand, oh what treasures could be inside!  And finding it!  Oh, we would be heroes for the ages! 

DM's Note - An excellent recap of the night's events by Nick, who earns his character an Inspiration, which stacks with the  Inspiration earned in-game.  Well done, Nick!  Remember players, someone can still earn an Inspiration by offering a comprehensive recap before our next game.

A Quick Character Background Creator...with attitude!

I found this comical, if not exactly safe for work.  I'm posting this here for one of my players who can't make up his mind about anything.  You know who you are!

Background Generator

Monday, January 12, 2015

Character Profile: Jatambe Kwazeel

Jatambe Kwazeel was born in the Chultan city of Mezro. He would have ended up just another thief if he hand't been found to have arcane talent by a wizard-hunter at a young age. His parents were overjoyed and helped him to attend the college of wizardry for several years and during this time he also found he had a penchant for roguish activities, with daring thefts of valuables and women's hearts.

Soon after graduating as a full wizard Jatambe was forced to leave Mezro hastily. The local law enforcement was about to catch up to him for an illicit job he had just pulled on a corrupt official. So before he was found and branded an outcast, Jatambe found his way to a pirate ship bound for northern waters where he met, and became close friends with Virgil.

Arriving in the northern port of Waterdeep he was soon picked out by a local thieves guild, allied with the pirates he had escaped Chult with, and forced to join. The other option not being overly pleasant in his opinion. He found he enjoyed most of the work, but some of the work was morally objectionable, so he found an excuse to leave with the help of one of his friends.

He now owes his guild-mate Grigor a debt for setting up his new position as a freelance thief of the guild, able to go about and do as he pleases. As long as he sends back a small fee every month or so, of course. He also tries to repay his parents with what little he can send back home to Chult.

He has a sharp mind and a love of freedom in all forms. Including freeing those he feels have more than they need of their valuables. His clever tongue can sometimes get away from him, but he is able to use it to his benefit as well. His biggest flaws are a great thirst for riches and magical knowledge, as well as his overbearing ideal for freedom.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Too soon for House Rules?

+Jeremy Friesen over at the excellent gaming blog Take On Rules has started a discussion about House Rules for his upcoming 5E campaign.  This, naturally, has me considering the same thing because if you can't steal from the best why steal at all?  Jeremy's goal seems to be to transform his 5E game into something more closely resembling Burning Wheel.  While I'm not adverse to that idea, I don't think my players would like that particular gritty style in their D&D.  Who knows?  We'll certainly talk about it.  In the mean time, I do have a few ideas for my own house rules.

Critical Hits - When a player rolls a critical hit they may apply maximum damage to their roll instead of rolling another weapon die.  This gives criticals a bit more punch.  Those classes that add additional dice to their criticals may still do so.  Those dice are not maximized (or should the be?).  

I haven't decided if monsters should follow this rule yet.  I'll play with it in the first session and see how it affects gameplay, one way or the other.

Critical Fumbles - Rolling a one on your attack roll is more than just an automatic miss.  It is an opportunity for the DM to introduce additional elements/complications.  Broken bow string?  Dropped weapon?  Additional enemies showing up?  I'm going to have fun with this.

Firing a missile weapon into melee - I can't believe there are no rules governing this.  I'll allow players to fire into a melee involving one of their allies at disadvantage.  If the player misses with the lower die, I'll consult the higher die and see if it hits the armor class of their ally.  If it makes narrative sense that the ally could be hit, then the ally will be hit by the missile weapon.  Again, will play with this in game and see how it goes.

Playtested this rule last night and it seemed like it was too much of a burden on ranged fighters, which is exactly what I was warned about.  Instead of the rule as written above, I'll just introduce the opportunity to hit an ally if the attacking character fumbles his attack roll.  The only time a ranged attacker will attack with disadvantage is when he is also in melee and trying to fire his ranged weapon, as written in the rules.

So, thoughts?  Am I screwing up the game before I even play?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Character Profile: No One

No One, so named by his fellow orcs, never quite fit in with the rest of his tribe, The Broken Arrows. He was always considered to be "too human".  He was a little too bookish, a little too inquisitive, and a little more merciful than his fellow, full-blooded tribesmen and this set him apart in a significant way.

It was after a particularly brutal raid on a human village that things changed for No One.  He had mostly refused to take part in the wanton destruction and death and was brutally whipped by his chief as punishment.  It was during the whipping that No One had a vision from the God, Helm.  Helm chastised No One for failing to protect the innocent humans that his tribe had slaughtered.  He called on No One to lift the Gauntlet of Helm and be ever watchful in the cause of honor, strength and defense of the weak and innocent.  No One, inspired by the vision, rose up and killed his chief, Grak Slit-Eye, and fled the village.  Since then, he has dedicated his life to heeding Helm's call and defending the innocent of the Realms.  Subsequently, No One has accepted his name as a badge of honor.  He is the vessel through which he enacts the will of Helm, and, as such,  he is No One.


He of the Unsleeping Eyes, the Watcher, the Vigilant, the Vigilant One, the Great Guard, the God of Guardians
Intermediate Power of Nirvana
PORTFOLIO: Guardians, protectors, protection
DOMAIN NAME: Nirvana/Everwatch
ALLIES: Arvoreen, Clangeddin Silverbeard, Cyrrollalee, Gaerdal Ironhand, Gorm Gulthyn, Moradin, Torm, Yondalla
FOES: Bane (now dead), Bhaal (now dead), Garagos, Mask, Shar, Talos
SYMBOL: An open, staring eye with a blue pupil and outline painted on the back of a right-hand war gauntlet or the palm of a left-hand war gauntlet

Character Creation Walkthru

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Character Profile: Elalanil

Elalanil has led the classic sheltered life of the deep-forest elves, and hasn't learned hate or avarice on any grand scale.  Like all Elves he hates Orcs and the like, but nothing terrible has ever happened to him.  He loves the forest and is as wild and moody as the deepest of them, swinging from cheerfully playful to menacing instantly if provoked.  Around those he does not know well, however, he is reserved and aloof like all of his kind.

He is very good with plants and animals, and he is a fierce protector of everything natural, to the point of earning recognition from the coveted Emerald Enclave.  Not a lot, and much of that unfavorable, but enough that the Emerald Enclave is in a bit of a dilemma.  On the one hand it would look bad if they refused entry to someone so devoted to the cause of nature, and yet on the other hand Elalanil is somewhat aligned with Good.  Not enough to warrant flat out refusal, but enough to cause friction.  And then there is the complete willingness to take a hands-on approach to correcting imbalances.  And why can't he worship someone more worthy of a Druid, like Silvanus?  Why does it have to be a second-string Chaotic god, of the Good type no less?

While none of this is enough to deny entrance into the Emerald Enclave, it is very... uncomfortable.  Definitely a problem that needs addressing, but how?  And who has the time for that sort of thing?  If there were some way to get him out from underfoot for a while then this could be dealt with later.  Perhaps this Dwarf that is making a bit of a ruckus is more dangerous than he seems?  Dwarves are always causing trouble, after all, and surely bear watching.  And what a perfect assignment for a would-be novice member of the Enclave, one that could take who-knows how long!  An important task like this shouldn't wait, Elalanil should leave immediately!  Or at least at first light...

Elalanil worships Rillifane Rallathil:

Power: Intermediate deity
Title: The Leaflord, the Wild One, the Great Oak, the Many-Branched, the Many-Limbed, Old Man of the Yuirwood
Alignment: CG
Worshipers: LG, NG, CG, LN, N, CN
Clerics: NG, CG, N, CN
Symbol: Oak tree
Domains: Chaos, Elf, Good, Plant, Protection
Portfolio: Woodlands, nature, wild elves, druids
Favored weapon: The Oakstaff (quarterstaff)

Elalanil in the Neverwinter Woods

Character Profile: Zook

Glimzookfrugsindri "Fnippernim" Ningel-Nackle

Mostly I go by "Zook", but I've found my people's love of names comes in handy. To...ah... change things up, if necessary. I can't use "Sindri Nim Nackle" in Waterdeep anymore, for example. There's a, um... Lord there. Lord Harsen Rind. See, while traveling with my old troupe, The Clash at Tethyamar Keep, (a very fine bunch of minstrels, travelers, actors and knaves) this lord gave us an...unfavorable review. He was, apparently, not a fan. I love a good insult, and never take them personally. They're quite a game, actually. So in retaliation I composed a rather bawdy song, of which he was the subject. It caught like wildfire, soon sung all over the city. I think maybe this lord was not popular with the common folk of the city. Now I'm kinda wanted. Well, "Sindri Nim Nackle" is wanted. At least there, by that querulous human. This isn't anything new, and probably will happen again in some other large city. It's part of the nature of being a traveling entertainer.

When we, my troupe, very willinginly and of our own volition left Waterdeep for Neverwinter, we decided to try something new. Instead of booking performances with nobles and inns, as a troupe, we took our talents our own way. It was supposed to be only for a couple weeks or so, each doing our own acts, and pooling the money made afterwards. However, I got lucky. Really lucky.

One night, at some inn, I noticed a couple of Dwarves in the audience, not uncommon, but sometimes it pays well to play to a small, but wealthy looking, part of the crowd. My retelling of famous Dwarven battle-songs and epics won them over. One of them, Gundren Rockseeker, offered me patronage. Actual patronage. It was a modest stipend, but included a room. I did, of course, work the contract in my favor. Us gnomes are excellent at such language.

In light of this patronage, I stayed in Neverwinter, performing at the behest of Mr. Rockseeker. I bade The Clash at Tethyamar Keep safe travels and good fortune. That troupe will always be my family, and my home. For now, our paths part. Someday I will rendesvous with them again, and will be welcome with open arms.

Soon Mr. Rockseeker says he has an important task for me. Undertaking an adventure. I suspect he will want me to record the stories, and compose songs of the heroics which take place. I am ready to meet my new companions, and embark again on the road.

A Slight Detour or a New Direction?

The group has decided to take a break from Burning Wheel and dip our toes into the new version of Dungeons and Dragons, the 5th edition.  While we enjoyed Burning Wheel and will return to it, we felt we had gotten a less than perfect start and want to reboot the game.  In the mean time, we will be playing D&D as a sort of palate cleanser.  Burning Wheel is a lot of work!  We just want to put our brains on cruise control for a bit and see what all the hoopla is about with the new edition.

That being said, I will be leading the plunge with a foray into the Lost Mine of Phandelver, the adventure included in the Beginner Boxed Set.

For my players, here is the map of the area in which you will be adventuring:

Prominent NPC's:

Gundren Rockseeker

You know Gundren and his brothers.  Typical dwarves:  greedy and lustful, but full of mirth and unexpected generosity.  He's hired you to do a job and he wants it done right.  You know you don't want to disappoint ol' Gundren!

Sildar Hallwinter

You don't know this older, retired human warrior, but Gundren seems to have his trust.  Perhaps that's good enough...for now.