Monthly Archives: January 2016

Just like know stage show goes on without actors (unless you’re stuck in a liberal arts delusion), no Dungeon Master is happy unless he has rats to run through his mazes – TPKs don’t create themselves you know. You’ve gotten to know me, a bit, so now it’s time for you to meet my players and the avatars they control.

PZO9009-MonkNot to narrow down a perception of my friend, Tony is the party’s min/maxer. Doesn’t that feel dirty to say? Min/maxer. I try to think of it as a term of endearment. There’s something invigorating about jumping into combat, dealing ungodly amounts of damage, and making the fellow players scramble through their character sheets trying to find something hidden away that can outshine the proverbial damage sun. Tony is also the “can I…” player, which again, don’t hold that against him. Good DMs feed off of these characters like a WoW player guzzles down Mountain Dew, you just have to learn to balance the sugary sweet goodness with something a bit more grounded, for the DM’s sake as well as the party.

Tony plays Varis, the Woodelf Monk, who was abandoned as a baby and literally raised by wolves for nearly two decades (he thinks, wolves can’t count) until being adopted into the monastery of Daruu’um. He lived there for 75 years, learning from the members his martial arts and the languages of the civilized world, until they advised him to seek out the world of Altara and find his place in it. When coming to the Southern Realm city of Faro he met up with an unsavory rogue named Seamus who may, or may not, used Varis as a muscle. During the War for the Sea of Altara, Seamus disappeared, and Varis wandered along the coast of the sea until coming to Neverwinter. There he met Gundred, and the party.

PZO9007-BardSome players just come here to play, and play hard. He’s our party’s quiet member, the rogue hiding just out of sight in an arcane mist, readying an arrow that will devastate any and all plans I had of flanking the party; but when he does speak, it’s usually enough to have me holding my sides and wiping tears from my eyes. Quiet players are an anchor that ties the group together. When the party is squabbling over which lever to pull (because i made them extremely anxious thanks to four or five rooms comprised entirely of traps) he pulls the damn thing and shrugs when nothing bad happens. While the party is running check after check on a corner of the room where a secret door might be hidden, he notices the hook horror lurking above. He just DOES.

Darin plays Dexter, the party’s rogue gnome, who, as mentioned above, lurks in the shadows and strikes when he KNOWS the time is right. Little is know about his character, other than he is a trickster with an air of con-artist attached to his aura.

amfisbena___dwarf_by_gabahadattaBruce is a good guy, good natured, soft hearted, quicker with a smile than a scoul (almost the exact oppisite of me), and it shines through in his gaming style. Even when playing a rogue in our last campaign, Bruce knew what was wrong and what was right, and would choose the latter. Without the annoyance of “You can’t *blank* because the gods said so” spouting forth from the mouth of the holier than thou clerics or paladins, Bruce is the party’s moral compass. He is also the party’s bargainer: even when he’s playing the fighter he might ask WHY do you want me to hit thing with axe, instead of just blindly hit-thing-with-ax and collect the loot, which challenges me as a DM to find ways for the NPCs to strike up bargains that can not only benefit both sides, but also create lasting ties valuable allies in the campaign world.

Bruce plays Taros, the party’s dwarven fighter. He, and his family, were once brewers that lived in a small town outside the Northern Realm Kingdom of Melecor. One day, after returning home from making a delivery of ale to the town, Taros found that his village had been ransacked by goblins and bugbears and his family home set ablaze. The only thing he has left of his family is the charred remains of his family’s recipe book, one which his father’s grandfather had begun nearly two thousand years ago. Taros tried to make ends meet in Melecor as a small time brewer, but after the Northern Realms loss against the Island Kingdoms of Pel for the Sea of Altara, Melecor started declining. Looking for greener pastures, he moved south along the Sword Coast until he came to Neverwinter. There he met Gundred Rockseeker, and joined up with him.

tumblr_nq74h8K8d91r99tlpo2_1280Get into character, any way possible, and stay there, the type a player that good DMs love playing paladins and clerics (much to the chagrin of the other players). He has a double sided luck, rolling either failures or crits, but very rarely anything in between; making each roll of the dice a literal game changer that accentuates the highs and lows of a gaming session. Like the rest of the party, he’s new to DnD5e, but he’s also been out of the table top gaming loop for a while; which helps the rest of the team get a chance to dig through the rules now and again.

Marty players Jhoneh Tiller, a human paladin with a drinking problem. A young hero from Onaway, a small farmer community on the eastern plains of the Northern Realm, who humbly worked the land with his family. During the War of the Sea, when the Crimson Guards were pulled from their post at Bal Varo to aid the Northern Realm, warlords and tryrants from Bal Varo swept across the eastern plains. Jhohen lead a militia to defend his home and won, being the first of many small towns to stand against the tyranny of Bal Varo without support from the Northern Realm. When the warring had ended he found his town was nearly destroyed, so he sought after the churches for aid. The only church to aid him was the Holy Syncretism, but there was a cost. With his home town rebuilt, Jhonen joined the religion as a paladin, acting as their blade of justice to bring down Five Red Mages had escaped their punishment by fleeing out into the Wild Frontier.

Soon I’ll have a section in the Wild Frontier menu titled Heroes where you can check out a full back ground of the characters, interesting little notes of things that happened, and get a peak at their character sheets. Check back next time, where I’ll run down my party’s first steps through the Lost Mine of Phandelver! Until then, Let’s Kick this Pig!


smoking-sorcerer-atop-d6As a devourer (i know that’s not a word) of Epic, Heroic, Dark, Science, and Horror fantasy one of the best things about almost every story is the beginning. Whether it’s Rumo being swept away on the floating rock island populated by the terror craving Demonicles, Drizzt’s rearing in Menzoberranzan under the dark eyes of the Lolth’s wicked clerical matriarchy, or even just Bilbo dicking off in the Shire, good morning-ing all willy-nilly to Gandalf as if he was some useless vagabond peddling lord knows what; there’s something about a rich, thick, creamy fantasy intro that is just as refreshing as a cup of a coffee and a hot shower on a lazy Sunday morning. It’s a contract between the writer and the reader that essentially says “Hey, here’s fantasy. Enjoy this bit because in a chapter or two some wild crap is about to go down.” When approaching table top roleplaying games, I tend to like having the first session reserved for that “here’s how you met, exposition, chapter one, exposition, wild crap is about to go down” section already planned out and usually slathered over the group character building portion; but when i started this campaign I didn’t have any of that. No adventure hooks, no treasure bait, hell I didn’t even have a fishing pole of marvelous make. I was stranded on an uncharted sea in a rubber dingy under unfamiliar stars. The feeling was like… Well, allow me to soliloquy-the-crap-out-of-it in the paragraph below Read More

From the Lost Mine of Phandelver,with a bit of extra flavor that ties into the campaign world as I build it for my players, here is the introduction of the Starter Set Module taken from page 3 (for those of you who might be following along at home). A lot of this was revealed to the players near the end of the second part of the Lost Mine of Phandelver module, so I won’t be spoiling anything for them.

tumblr_nt309qcSHp1ro2bqto1_500More than five hundred years ago out in the Wild Frontier, clans of Stone Hill dwarves and arcane gnomes made an agreement known as the Phandelver’s Pact, by which they would share a rich mine in a wondrous cavern known as Wave Echo Cave. In addition to its mineral wealth, the mine contained great magical power. Red Mages allied themselves with the dwarves and ghomes to channel and bind that energy into a great forge, called the Forge of Spells, where magic items could be crafted. Times were good, and the nearby human town of Thundertree, as well as its sister sister Phandalin, prospered as well. But then disaster struck when a small sect of the Red Mages, now brimming with corruption, rallied together an army of goblins and orcs that swept through the western reaches of the Wild Frontier, laying waste to all in their path.

A Powerful force of orcs, reinforced by the evil Read More

A gnome, a dwarf, and a wood elf walk into a bar…

What sounds like the beginning of a common, and possibly crude joke thrown around the halls and courts of any given kingdom in the Forgotten Realms, is actually the humble beginnings of my new Saturday night Dungeons and Dragons campaign. After leaving the indestructible player ridden, battle burdened realms of Dungeons and Dragons 4e (due to schedule conflicts and an unresolved complete party TPK) and taking a quick jaunt through the often confusing and over-encumbered rule system of Shadowrun; my table top group and I decided it was time to see what Fifth Edition was all about. And I plan on chronicling our sessions, from the baby steps of goblin hordes to the big baddies of the Underdark, and everything in between Read More