Session #17 – I have no idea where Kansas is so why are you saying we’re not in it anymore?

NOTE: This is where I started diverging from the module significantly when it came to rooms and overall organization. I kept all of the monsters and treasure, I just organized it differently and fixed a couple of the puzzles that wouldn’t have worked nearly so well with such a large group.

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Ok, so as the party tried to get their bearings, as well as assess what might have happened to Dhagri, Wren, & Rhys, they ever so quickly realized that they were in a Demi-Realm, a pocket dimension created by a puissant mage or some other powerful supernatural being. An admittedly excellent method to guard excess to some location, the party was discomfited as they realized that they had no idea of how to progress.

There were no visible lights, and a luminescent mist rose off the ground – deep enough to almost entirely obscure Fonkin – and far off in the distance the party thought it could see a light coming from within the mist. With a lack of anything better to do they decided to investigate – sending familiars out ahead to scout the way. After an attack by fiendish beasts that were quickly dispatched the party found the source of the glow, a set of ancient arcane runes inscribed in the ground that flickered and danced with arcane power. The party spend an unknown amount of time striding through the mists of the Demi-Realm, fighting off fiendish beasts and finally culminating in a fight with a horrifically sized giant scorpion. When this final monster was fought, a brilliant scintillating light within lights appeared, almost a free-floating lamp of some sort. Floating there it then led the party through the mist to a free-standing Leygate crackling with leyfire.

Taking a deep breath and girding their loins, the party stepped through quickly before it closed (as this was a concern of theirs). On the other side they found themselves in a somewhat featureless room with a broken-down archway or door in the far end, as they stood there and debated what to do they were attacked by a pair of the bestial goblins that they had encountered before, as well as a hobgoblin warrior. In a short but vicious battle the party came out victorious but after the seemingly endless fiendish beasts of the Demi-Realm and the ravages of the goblins the party decided that needed to take a longer rest to take care of their wounds as well as hopefully manage to recover some spells. Through the passageway the party found an area when the tomb-robbers had also clearly rested for a period, as well as a bound and gagged half-elf unconscious and on the verge of death. The party resolved barricade a door even further in, treat the wounds of the half-elf, and rest – hoping that Dhagri, Wren, and Rhys would somehow manage to join them again…

  • This was a very combat-heavy session, while there was certainly roleplaying and a sense of accomplishment because of that the sheer length (and somewhat confusing nature) of the module was starting to show. In hindsight I should have started “fixing” the dungeon earlier, I just didn’t realize how much it was going to drag on.
  • The missing characters was partially to force the party to handle encounters without their two tanks, and the other combat-oriented henchman. Dhagri’s player had a work-related emergency and ended up on the West Coast for an unexpected trip and I simply took advantage of that to force the other characters to step up a bit.
  • Converting 3.5E adventures obviously takes some work, creatures really work differently in some ways (this was even more of a factor in the next session). Plus, I am also realizing just how bland 5e creatures really are – which is kind of surprising when you look at their trait system. I think part of the problem is that many of the creature features that require saves are simply way too easy to save against – they simply don’t factor in very often.
  • That said, some things did some Constitution damage this session and the hit that players took to their maximum hits due to lowered Constitution bonus inducing some puckering on the part of the players. Looking at undead in general I do think this is an interesting way to handle “not energy drain” since so many of the new undead have that sort of effect (maximum hit point reduction) on creatures.
  • Overall, the group is still really enjoying themselves, 5e, and even the module (though the module was sinking fast) – so the plan was to wrap up the module the following session if possible and then move on to the next one (which will involve some serious tweaks).

TTFN!

D.

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Session #16 – Dwarves don’t swim!

(Better late than never…)

Picking up from last session, the party completed their short rest, and continued deeper into the complex. The next room was full of statuary and even more crypts. Following tracks in the dust, the party investigated a small side passage, when they discovered a member of the group they were chasing after. After a short melee the Khazann, named Jharukh (a wiry, rodent-like sort) parlayed a surrender to the group in exchange for his life and freedom. The short exchange about his attempts to solve a puzzle that was supposed to open a door ended after Dorje Jarvic threatened to use Jharukh’s weapons as spikes to seal doors shut, resulting in the Khazann turning silent. After a quick confirmation (and a further threat to his life by the Dorje) that Jharukh was sworn not to harm the party in any way, or warn his former compatriots, in the next fortnight, the Khazann gathered up his gear and fled the complex (muttering under his breath). With some grumbling from the rest of the party, who would have liked to have talked to Jharukh about “the Vanguard” that had hired him, the group pressed on further, doing their best to avoid traps.

Through the next door the party was again puzzled by the bizarre architecture of the complex.


As a quick aside…

I have to say that this is about the place where I realized just how screwed up this complex was from a design standpoint. What I think happened is that WOTC wanted to cram as much as they could on the module cover, and fill it with as many different terrain options, tricks, and traps as they could.

Which they did.

Yay them.

Unfortunately, this also created a complex which makes no freaking sense! Nobody in their right mind builds tomb complexes like this! There’s no rhyme or reason, crazy transitions from finished areas to natural caves and back again – with all sorts of odd monsters and protections mixed in…

Back to our regularly scheduled Session Report…


 

With passages leading right and left, the party chose to follow the tracks in the dust to the left. Down a ladder, along a corridor, and around a corner the party came face to face with a goblin shaman, and a handful of animated skeletons – including one of a huge, bull-headed creature with great horns. The melee was quick and dirty, with Dorje Jarvic turning many of the human skeletons, and the rest of the party quickly dispatching the undead and then the shaman.

The chamber itself, some sort of inner vault, also contained a large golden dragon statue as part of a magical pool and fountain. Taking stock of their situation, the party decided to take a short rest and tend to their wounds before continuing on through the next shattered archway that the tomb-robbers had passed through. To their very great surprise and relief the water from the fountain refreshed the party the same as a long nights rest. The party also discovered, the goblin shaman’s gear, a bank note from the Merchant House of Diyes for the amount of 500 silver marks signed by “Xeron” to be paid from the account of the “Vanguard.”

After taking stock, the party them moved on, finding the next passage to be quite different from what they had encountered thusfar. Instead of the ancient stonework and beautiful statuary, the next room was a deep cavern of rough stone with pillars of stone that allowed the party to gradually descend to the bottom – using some of the ropes that the tomb-robbers had left behind. While the party managed to traverse the obstacles relatively easily, Ilda did fall into the waters at the bottom of the cavern. Initially panicked due to her previous dip into water, Ilda quickly clamed after discovering that this water was much more shallow and allowed her to wade through it with some difficulty. She also discovered the somewhat petrified remains of a creature that appears to have been the inspiration for the “eye-monster” puzzle they encountered earlier. Given it’s size the party quickly agreeing that they were glad that it was deceased.

At the far end of the cavern, the party found a small passageway to squeeze through at the top of some scree. Finding a large cavern shrouded in darkness and mist on the other side, the party was alarmed to discover that the passage had disappeared behind them – as well as Rhys, Wren ,and Dhagri!

Cue Dramatic Music!

Fade to black…

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Circle of the Well and the Black Circle

Here are a couple of new Druidic Circles, one because my spouse wants a Druid Circle that plays up the “animal friendship” aspects of being a Druid and the other because I wanted to come up with a version of an old NPC variant that I had in my 1e game…

The Circle of the Well

Druids of the Circle of the Well are the center of circle of animal companions and friends, much like a wild spring that both predator and prey will drink from side by side. Most often the members of the Circle of the Well are friendly and outgoing, though some of these druids definitively prefer the company of their animal friends to that of others of their kind, unimpressed with even the most basic interactions with civilization. Druids of this order are the eyes and ears of their land, gossiping with squirrels about nuts, singing with wolves and frogs at sunset, and listening to news from far away brought by hawks and ravens.

Friendship of the Beasts

When this Circle is chosen at 2nd level, the druid gains ¼CR worth of Unaligned Beasts per level as friendly companions who accompany the druid wherever they travel. These beasts must be Intelligence 3 or lower, and no single Beast (or Swarm) may have a CR higher than ⅕ the druids level. CR0 Beasts count as CR⅛ creatures.

Beastspeech

Also, the druid is able to speak as well as understand each of his animal companions within the limits of their intelligence. They will help the druid as they are able, but this is a willing choice on their part to help a dear and respected friend, not magically compelled obedience. This includes combat and other dangerous activity.

Defense of Friends

Starting at 6th level, as long as there are animal companions within 5′ of the Druid, attackers have Disadvantage to attack (Constructs, Elementals, & Oozes are Immune to this feature).

Friends of Friends

At 10th level, creatures of the same subtype of any of the druids companions have Disadvantage to save against all Enchantments cast by the druid.

Kith & Kin

When 14th level is reached, the druid is able to summon (arriving in 1d10 rounds) up to three beasts of CR2, 6 beasts of CR1, 12 beasts of CR½, or 24 beasts of CR¼ (mixing and matching allowed if the proper ratio is retained) as the kith and kin of his animal companions are called for aid. These beasts must of the same subtype as the druids companions, and they will remain for up to an hour of time, being treated in all ways as temporary companions. At 17th level the numbers increase to 4 of CR2, 8 of CR1, 16 of CR½, and 32 of CR¼ beasts. This feature cannot be used again until after a long rest.


 


The Black Circle

During the Wars of Binding, some Druids of the Old Faith fell into darkness, reviving old and fell rituals and sorceries that had been buried since the days of the Black Empire. Reviled by other members of the Old Faith, the Druids of the Black Circle become infused with necrotic energies and communing with the spirits of death and darkness. The senior and most powerful members of the Circle are often a blight upon normal landscapes, needing to travel constantly or to seek out the most desolate of locations to have their presence betrayed by their surroundings.

Baleful Gaze

After choosing this Circle at 2nd level, the Druid can induce the Fear condition for 1 round per level if the target fails a Wisdom save (DC = 8 + Druid’s Proficiency Bonus + Druid’s Charisma Modifier) by focusing their attention on a target. If the target makes their save the duration is halved, and the target is immune to this effect for 24 hours. This feature may not be used again until after a short rest.

Unnatural Vitality

Also at 2nd Level, a Druid of the Black Circle become Resistant to Necrotic damage. At 10th level this becomes Immunity, and they are receive half the potential damage as Healing. Also at 10th they become Vulnerable to Radiant damage.

Dark Infusion

At 6th level, when attacking with natural weapons, the Druid does additional Necrotic damage equal to their level and their attacks cause the Poisoned condition for one round (Con save, DC = Druids Spell DC). If the save is made, the target take half the Necrotic damage and is unaffected by the Poisoned condition.

Life feeds on Life

When a Druid of the Black Circle reaches 10th level they can use a spell slot to attack all creatures within a 20′ of themselves for 2d8 Necrotic damage (Plants take double damage with Disadvantage to save). +1d8 per spell slot above 1st used. Save for half.

Dread Presence

Finally at 14th level, a Druid of the Black Circle may use their Wild Shape ability to transform themselves into Undead for short periods of time. As an Undead they become Resistant to Cold, Lightning, Piercing, Slashing, & Bludgeoning damage, and the Charm, Exhaustion, Fear, Paralysis, & Poison conditions. Their Unarmed attack does a base 1d4 Bludgeoning + 1d6 Cold (+Necrotic as above), plus does Life Drain (the target must make Con Save vs. the Druids Spell DC or it’s HP maximum is reduced by the damage of the attack. This reduction lasts until after a Long Rest, and if 0HP is reached the target is slain. They also have Undead Fortitude, if any attack would bring them below 1HP, the Druid may make a Con save (DC = 5 + Half the Damage of the Attack) or merely reduced to 1HP. Finally, they become Tomb-Tainted, Healing energies harm them, while Necrotic Energies heal them.

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Yeah, falling behind… but… Psionics!

Yeah, I have two gamelogs to write up (they are relatively easy sessions to cover so I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten to them yet), plus a couple of other entries that I’ve been tinkering with, plus a big set of posts on languages in my campaign world that I about have ready for posting – but I just wanted to raise my head up for some air as well as point out how nicely done the new psychic rules are for 5e. While far from complete, and with a couple of potential ringers in there that might break a game, I’m pretty happy with how they are written up. Power-wise they are easy to scale up (same as I’m finding with Arcane and Divine casters) and the way that happens already fits into my “established” methods for doing so. I guess I’ll have to start thinking about writing those up as well. Oh, and I now have a request to come up with an animal companion Druid circle. So I guess that is now near the top of my list of things to work on in my spare time. TTFN! D.

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Session #15 – But wait, there’s more!

This was actually a pretty fun game, though as noted, we had some significant rules questions that came up that were only really resolved after the session ended. It was also interesting, though not surprising to see how the switch in KR’s character swung the game balance around. Instead of a combat-heavy Sorcerer with a Paladin henchman the group now has a multi-classed Druid/Wizard with a much more “support” focus. This wasn’t a bad thing, just an obvious swing in how the group operated – the group is still large enough that it romps-n-stomps through the module encounters for the most part.

Though it does start to point out the major problem with large groups and tight passageways – most of the party can’t see the target or reach them if they can. This is the real “trick up the DM’s sleeve” that I think gets ignored much of the time. In most of the combats this session there were only two, maybe three, physical combatants and half the time most of the rest of the party, even the spellcasters, couldn’t really do anything. As a result both Rhys and Daghri were pretty chewed up by the end of the session, as was Devin.

So, the party made their way down the magical elevator revealed by the “Puzzle of the Eye Tyrant” – and found themselves in a narrow, spiraling passage that took them even deeper underground. A small landing was guarded by a pair of wolf skeletons that were dispatched quickly, but reanimated corpse of an ogre that attacked them on a slightly lower landing was more of a challenge but still quickly dispatched.

Through a small door, the party found a 20-30′ bridge made of aged but sturdy wood spanning a shallow, water-filled chasm. When Rhys offered for the gnomes to go first, it was Ilda who leapt to challenge – only to find that the bridge had been sabotaged. Falling into the water, Ilda was terrified to discover that it was four feet deep – on her four foot and two inch frame (in chainmail and other gear). Devin jumped in to help keep her head above water, but they were both attacked by some unseen creature in the water. After much flailing about, the creature was either run off or dispatched, they managed to get Ilda up and out of the water and the party to the other side – though not before Rhys managed to fall in the water as well…

Following tracks in the dust and detritus left by the ages, the party passed through a door into a larger, octagonal room filled with murals and panels. Here they were attacked by a pair of Hobgoblins and the zombie of strangely feral goblin, larger and more bestial than a normal hobgoblin but not as large as a Black Goblin. The fight was over quickly, but the party was slowly becoming more and more wounded as they pursued the looters deeper into the complex. There was a short debate around taking a short rest, but the fact that the looters were already so deep into the complex suggested that the party needed to keep moving.

Looting the bodies quickly, the party moved on and discovered the next room in the complex was the largest thus far. Bisected by what could be described as a canal for lack of a better word, the party was equally puzzled by the pair of recently dead (drowned) goblins present, lying on the stone floor beside the canal. The water detected as magical, and the party spread out a bit in an effort to figure out what might be going on – and when Devin tried to jump across the canal (instead of trusting the bridge…) he was snatched out of the air by a huge column of water rising up which the proceeded to envelop him. Reacting quickly when they saw Devin start to convulse and drown, they unloaded upon the water with a flurry of spells, released him from it’s grip.

With one more member of the party on the verge of death, the party decided that they needed to take a short rest and allow everyone to regain hit points as well as some spells. Some quick meditation and some music later and the party was in prime shape once again – if starting to dig into resources that they would prefer not to with at least one big fight that they can count upon ahead.

And that’s where pick things up tomorrow!

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Drowning Tunnel Rats…

…and there are no rules for “drowning” in 5e?

Ok, after the game I found “Suffocation” which makes a certain amount of sense, but really? Indexing FAIL! The rules seem pretty reasonable, but I think a houserule will be that strenuous activity (combat, running, etc.) means that “breath-holding” time is cut in half (otherwise the length of time is utterly ridiculous, especially when measured in combat rounds – I married a former competitive swimmer and they considered this a quite reasonable stipulation). Additionally, falling in (rather than intentionally diving in) requires a Constitution Save, +5 Dif per 10′ fallen.

In other thoughts, “dungeons” really do give my cold, leathery, blackened DM heart a quick pulse of warmth. Big parties, and only a couple of characters can even attack at a time because of the natural chokepoints found in narrow five-foot corridors.

On that note, something also seems off with being able to use two-handed weapons (or weapons with Reach) in such close quarters – at least for human-sized creatures. After gaming, some quick tape-measuring, plus dragging out some weapons really showed the ridiculousness of the situation when it comes to tunnel-fighting. So after some quick reflection when fighting in physically constrained spaces, e.g. a Medium-sized creature in a 5′ wide and 5-8′ passageway, the following rules would be in effect:

  1. Weapons with Reach may not be used.
  2. No Two-Handed Weapons may not be used (Garrotes, Short Bows, Dragon Cannons, Crossbows, Firearms, and Darters are the exempted from this, though Shortbows, Dragon Cannons, Crossbows, Rifles, and Muskets all have Disadvantage).
  3. Regular, One-Handed Weapons are used at Disadvantage.
  4. Light Weapons have no penalty.
  5. When squeezed into a “tight space” (see PH p192) only Light weapons may be used, as well as Tunnel Guns, Manticores, and Wyverns.

This also neatly suggests an additional Fighting Style, “Tunnel Fighter” – When Tunnel-Fighting, the Warrior (or Ranger, or Paladin) get a +1 to Hit an +1 to Armor Class.

TTFN!

D.

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Session #14 – So, an adventuring party walks into a mausoleum and…

(My apologies, I thought I had posted this awhile ago and I missed it – plus I had to cancel gaming last weekend because I was at a professional conference…)

So, the first thing to say is that adapting earlier modules to 5E is easy, but doing it on the fly is probably a more work than I would generally prefer unless it is really simple. The best part of the last session is that I had completely forgotten about the adventure seed re. the Kingsholm Graveyard until we sat down to play and people mentioned it! LOL!

So… the session started when Rhys returned from his families holdings with a surprise. Gwynneth had gone off to discuss things with her people and seemed to have, in typical Elven fashion, lost track of time. So rather than spending time tracking her down Rhys asked his cousin Ta’sara, a Druid and Wizard, to join him and help the party. After spending some time in introductions, as well as a quick review of the what the party had learned in the last two months, the party decided to take up the offer of work from the Sentinels (the mostly honorary guards of the graveyard) and investigate the mystery of a missing family and the two Sentinels that also disappeared after being sent to investigate.

Insert obligatory comments about nonsensical fantasy town structures and sizes…

Escorted to the entrance of the graveyard, the party quickly made their way to the mausoleum when bodies were prepared, quickly discovering the sentinels laying in pools of their own blood – and being attacked by a pair of wolves that were quickly slain. A warg was killed trying to flee the scene, and the party quickly investigated the mausoleum – determining that the sentinels were slain inside and then dragged outside. Opening the door to a sublevel, the party found the bodies of most of the missing family but upon moving to investigate were attacked by a pair of zombies and even though they were quickly dispatched a trio of skeletons further back proved to slightly more problematic (though also quickly dealt with).

After dealing with these, they discovered Tyra, the traumatized daughter of the family, who had barricaded herself in a side chamber and decided to quickly accompany her out before returning to explore further. Through her somewhat incoherent ramblings the party was able to discern that consisted of goblins and khazan, led by a human mage of some sort, and that they were definitively searching for a way into the deeper tombs.

Exploring further once they had gotten Tyra to safety, the party continued into an even deeper mausoleum discovering an magically sealed door with a bizarre puzzle-lock of verses and diagram on the door. After working through it, the party (those that were able to even see it – as some of the party couldn’t for some reason) opened the door, in order to find a series of steps going down – but in a much older, and much more finely made stonework style.

This puzzle was based on Beholders (which I don’t have as a “thing” in my campaign, though some one-off abomination is certainly possible) and was also, originally, some incredibly overwrought puzzle room that I can’t imagine anyone actually building if they had the magic to create the door locking mechanism in the first place. It was a classic example of “cool, but over-engineered DM idea” that can be found in so many modules.

Not to say that I haven’t been guilty of doing it myself when I write my own…

Overall though, I’m pleased with the module so far. I think the explanation of “no town cleric” makes more sense if the local priest or Lightbringer is away on a pilgrimage or travelling for some short bit and the priests left behind are way out of their league. Plus, some of the already mentioned issues with Kingsholm are a bit too caught up in fantasy-game conventions to fit perfectly into my game world. That’s fine, I’m used to tweaking modules as I go along, though I think that due to the newness of 5e I’m going to have to do a bit of prepwork instead.

Next game is next Saturday, it will be interesting to see how the party handles the next phase of the adventure. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a dungeon-crawl because I tend to run more urban or wilderness adventures, and this module certainly qualifies!

TTFN!

D.

 

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What is on the bedstand..?

Ok, there is lots of things on my bedstand, but I was thinking of the books. I tend to have a very eclectic collection that I’m reading at any one time, and the current set is somewhat emblematic or representative even if we ignore any professional texts that I might be reading – those can be a bit dry for many people.

The Roman Guide to Slave Management written by Jerry Toner (2014) is semi-ostensibly a management guide, written as 1st-person discussion of slave-owning written by a Roman citizen for his family and friends. Written by a scholar of Roman culture and history, it’s alternately insightful and amusing and worth picking up  if the topic of some interest to you. I picked this book up for a variety of reasons, and it would be a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to replicate a slave-owning society in an RPG – especially one that isn’t obviously “evil.”

Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare edited by Daniel Marston & Carter Malkasian (2010) is a collection of excellent chapters discussing the history and evolution of modern counterinsurgency. I enjoy it because it is written by both civilians and prior- (and current) service military. It is also written by individuals from across Europe as well as the United States. It would have been interesting to get the insight of Asian or Middle-Eastern or African scholars as well, though there are individuals who have served in those theatres. I picked this up on a lark from a used bookstore because I thought it would be a good review for my Traveller game.

Throwing the Bones: How to Foretell the Future with Bones, Shells, and Nuts written by Catherine Yronwrode (2012) is really, really well done. It’s an excellent overview of random and semi-random cast methods divination as opposed to highly structured methods (like the Tarot) or omen (observable natural phenomena like bird flight, weather patterns). It focuses on bones (and shells) and even covers interpretive methods based on personal gnosis and for anyone interested in the topic for any reason this is an excellent text to pick up.

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5E Adventures So Far…

So, given the announcement of the coming Out of the Abyss adventure from the Rage of Demons storyline I thought it was time to look back at the first handful of adventures for 5E. To be clear, I have only played one of the adventures at this point – Lost Mine of Phandelver, and that is where I’m going to start, looking at them in order of release.

Lost Mine of Phandelver was great, to my old 1E senses it actually felt pretty much like a old module. I loved the box set, I love the semi-sandbox feel to the mini-campaign, and all of my players have enjoyed it as well also. Given how the adventure has run we may actually skip the final dungeon and move onto the next adventure instead. Overall I think it was well balanced, and my biggest complaint is not with the module but with two pieces of 5E design philosophy, namely low magic/treasure and creature blocks for characters and NPCs instead of character class stats. Neither of these ruins the module for me as the first is easy enough to fix and the second isn’t that hard to correct ether for these level characters. Four Very Solid Dragons.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen is, well, a mess. As many other have pointed out the very first encounter is almost a triumph of poor design. The rest of the module is a similarly poorly design quagmire of assumptions about what groups know about the Forgotten Realms – and DM’s with a “beginners knowledge” would be at a real disadvantage trying to run this adventure. Even DM’s who know a fair amount are stuck with having to reference old material, use wikipages, and just generally depend on far more than they should for a supposedly self-contained adventure. One Wannabe Dragon.

The Rise of Tiamat is better than it’s predecessor, but not by much. The flaws of the previous adventure actually revealed a methodology for handling a “hidden pillar’ of the 5E gaming experience – Factions. The thing I liked about this adventure was the treatment and tracking of various Faction goals and strength. The problem with the adventure is that ultimately it is bland and unexciting and reads like “roll-playing” rather than role-playing. Sad really, because it is clearly the exact opposite of what WOTC was attempting. Two Sad Dragons.

Ultimately I can’t see running either of these adventures, not do I even see stealing much in the way of ideas. I’ve handed these out on permanent loan to a friend of mine merely in return for a PDF of the pages that have the magic items (unfortunately rather lackluster) and Tiamat’s stats – and I’m really not that impressed.

Princes of the Apocalypse was much better than the previous pair of adventures. I really like how WOTC handled the “Players Guide” supplement, and unlike Queen/Tiamat I didn’t feel like I was hosed for money. The set-up of discrete adventure areas reminded me of older modules, rather than the “hardcover campaign.”  While I can’t exactly see running this adventure series, I can see liberally stealing bits and bobs for ideas – I loved the concept art for the elemental temples and immediately incorporated them as iconic concepts for the Kirks of the En Khoda Theos Kirk. The magical items were also interesting, and the stats for the Elemental Princes of Evil were lower powered than I expected, but fun to read and worthwhile. Ultimately I found the NPC’s and monsters much more interesting and worthwhile in Princes – certainly as compared to the other Rise/Queen. I give this a Four Worthy Dragons and a Noble Pseudodragon for the Player’s Handout.

Ultimately I’d really love a return of the old module-style adventures, far more limited in scope but easy to use as drop-in adventures in a larger, DM-generated campaign. Failing that I’d rather see boxed sets with good map sets than hardcovers – and failing that the folios from 4E seem to be ok. I picked one or two up at a used bookstore for dirt cheap and was not unpleased.

Personally I think this could be done in a eZine, PDF format pretty easily and with good quality – basically a return of Dungeon. We’ll see how the Dragon app works and hope for the best.

 

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Waystones, Leygates, and Mageports

There are the three somewhat ubiquitous forms of instantaneous magical travel available, Waystones, Leygates, and Mageports. Each of these have their unique and limitations and advantages, and they can be found scattered throughout the Mortal Realms. Wizards and Priest certainly have individual spells that allow for magical transport such as Teleport and Word of Recall but these were

 

Waystones

Waystones are large rune-inscribed monoliths situated along the various Dragon Paths and other sites of magical power. The runes that adorn the Waystones glow with the eldritch energies that power them in hues of brilliant sapphire blue. Several different networks have been created over the ages by various empires, kingdoms, and organizations, most notably the time of the Serpent Kings, the Fae, the Great Cities, the White Empire, Albion and the Wars of Binding, etc. All of these groups and time periods have seen the rise of Waystone networks that have allowed fast and stable travel by those with a either certain basic level of skill and who own a Waykey, or both. Their creation involves a huge investment of skill, time and Essence which has insured their rarity. With a few very notable exceptions, Waystones are limited to transport within the same Realm.

At the most basic, any individual may own and use a Waykey to travel by Waystone. Touching the Waykey to the Waystone, they and whomever they are physically touching are instantly transported to whatever destination Waystone is encoded into the Waykey assuming the following three conditions are met:

  • Both Waystones belong to the same network.
  • Each person so transported must use Arcane energy equivalent to a single first-level spell, plus another first-level spell per total number people transported. E.g. two people equals three spell levels each, three people means four spell levels each, and so on. This Arcane energy can come from any combination of different level spell slots as long as the correct number of spell levels is supplied. Distance or size is not a factor in any way, and this can be supplied via Heartstone or other extrinsic source.
  • For every 50 lbs of non-living matter that a person is carrying it costs 1 spell level of Arcane energy, and this cost is born by each individual being transported equally. E.g. Two people have a total of 100 lbs of gear, it will cost each of them 2 additional spell levels to transport (a total of 5 spell levels apiece when including the cost for a two person jump). The material to be moved must be carried.

Waykeys may have multiple Waystones encoded into them (and they may be added at later dates), and networks may have “Masterkeys” which allow access to any Waystone in the network. Finally there are various and sundry smaller networks of Waystones that make up the larger networks. Rumors also exist of Waykeys that allow the use of any Waystone, irrespective of its network, and the Navigator Guild is reputed to have built “Multi-Keys” that have access to multiple networks. It should also be noted that there are various spells which allow for the locking and trapping of Waystones. Most kingdoms require maintenance of the local Waystone networks to be part of the duties of the Mage’s Guild or the Navigator Guild.

Cost for a Waykey is generally in the neighborhood of 100 Gold (2000sp), and they can be purchased in most cities and large towns with a mage’s guildhouse. The cost for adding another destination to a Waykey is roughly 10 Gold (200sp) and requires that the mage have a thorough understanding of the runic inscriptions on the destination Waystone something which usually requires travel to that location if an exemplar is not already in their possession.

 

Leygates

Easier to create than a Waystone, though considered slightly more dangerous, Leygates are also connected to the web of Dragon Paths as well as the Aethyrs. Leygates can be of any size, though the greater the “door size” the more expensive they are to create in terms of Essence and time. The size is defined by a frame of two pillars, stones, or some such, with stone or other item defining a lintel and sill (the essential piece is to define four points. Permanent Leygates are among the most memorable of sights, often created of pillars of rune-inscribed stone and metal, or even such sights as the Gates of Horn and Ivory that link the city of Harrow to the Shadowlands, created from the bones of dragons, gods, and angels. Temporary Leygates can even be created by mages through spells and ritual though it usually requires the sacrifice of both of their kris and their wand in the process.

Travel by Leygate is similar to that of Waystones. Leygates have a single destination, though some rare spells allow for a mage to step in a Leygate and arrive at a some different destination than normal. Some Leygates are timed to specific circumstances that allow travel, or may have different destinations depending upon the circumstances in which travel is attempted (this is actually the creation of multiple Leygates with specific limitations using the same frame rather than a single Leygate with multiple possibilities). Unlike Waystones, Leygates can “easily” be linked to the other Realms – assuming the creator has the skill and knowledge.

There is minimal in Arcane energy to the use of a Leygate, and it merely requires a Very Easy Arcana and Wisdom checks and a flicker of Arcane energy equivalent to a Cantrip in order to activate it (incidentally restricting their use for the most part to mages, though there are Leykeys which will open a Leygate). The problem is that the Leygate only remains open for a one round, though in that time period anything that can pass through the gate is allowed. It takes three rounds for a Leygate to open, and this is accompanied by displays of crackling energy and the tang of ozone – it is anything but stealthy. Anyone may also “hold the gate open” for additional rounds, but each additional rounds requires another roll on each skill, each increasing in difficulty by one factor. After opening, for any amount of time, a Leygate remains shut (save through the exertion of significant magic) for at least 10 minutes of time for every round that it was open.

 

Mageport

The term “mageport” describes a set teleportation device, usually in the form of a flagstone or other flat service that is inscribed with visible or invisible runes. Permanent mageports require a fair amount of skill and Essence to create, and require nothing more than the expenditure of five spell levels of Arcane energy (in any combination of spell slots) and an Easy Arcana check in order to operate (they are, for all intents and purposes, a matrixed Teleportation Circle spell). Mageports can have as simple or as elaborate of restrictions on their use beyond the basics needed to operate them – but operate in an instantaneous manner, rather than over two rounds. At the moment of activation all things within the boundary of the Mageport, up to a ten foot diameter, but more commonly sized for a single person, travel instantaneously. The travel is always safe with no chance of a mis-teleport – the permanent nature of the enchantment and location providing the safety.

Mageports are generally utilized only by mages or those with an appropriate magical item and unless somehow limited, a mage can use any mageport to travel to any other mageport. The cost in Arcane energy is the same, no matter what the distance, as long as the mage knows the destination. An Arcane spellcaster merely needs an Very Easy Perception check to discern a mageport after searching an area. A Mageport is Nearly Impossible to notice in passing.

Categories: Campaign Development, House Rules, Magic Item | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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