Ouch! So that’s not going to work…

Well, the term “palace revolt” isn’t quite the right term but boy howdy, the gaming group really didn’t like the different experience point system. Fundamentally, the complaints boiled down to the sense that it wasn’t fair. Tying XP to personal damage done and taken, even with group awards based on overall totals and creatures defeated had various players feeling as if characters who primarily buffed, hexed, or healed were being penalized for choosing to do something other than fighting and doing damage.

So, back to the drawing board – and by that I mean the CR Chart.

Fundamentally, even more so in 5E than even in 1E, the D&D experience system is essentially blood magic. I kill it (or defeat it), and I steal it’s power, and I get stronger (at least in 1E you also got XP for cash and magical items) – little creatures have less of the élan vital, powerful creatures have more. I was totally willing to grant an increase in XP if it was tied to damage (and seriously, I think the “damage taken” is really elegant idea and solution to a couple of problems that come from the actual game mechanics of how combat works in the game), but the moment we try to tie XP to “things my character does” any hope of creating a balanced system that scales to the characters levels and abilities is flushed right down the porcelain altar (and, fundamentally, gets away from the basic underpinning of the D&D experience system).

Or at least, I’m an utterly uninterested in doing the statistical analysis of spells, class abilities, and skills as matrixed to proficiency bonus and/or mechanic equally matrixed to either monster combat rating or, again, damage done and damage taken.

Ugh, just thinking about the multivariate stats involved makes my head hurt…

So, I took a long hard look at the CR evaluation rules in the DMG and figure I’ll just run with the first, very basic system they suggest for figuring out a monster based on the CR you want it to be. I’ll basically reverse the process, and just run with it. It’s kludgy, it is really, really rough – but it’s not like the CR system is any paragon of elegance or even mediocre game design in the first place (it’s actually more like some vestigial remnant left from 3E or 3.5E as best I figure).

But I’ll be able to figure out the CR, and thus the XP for any monster I make. The slightly modified chart (to account for my change in the Dexterity & Armor Class rules, plus the full range of possible attack bonuses – both of which merely tweak the progression in the CR20 to CR30 range) fits on a single printed page.

C’est la vie!



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The Warforged, Survivors of the Great Fleet

“I was once a human like you, but the ravages of the Mad God’s War were dire and we chose to transcend weak flesh. Once we served the Iron Court, now we are the Iron Court and we rule what remains of the Old Tierna. We remain warriors, though our war has changed, and comport ourselves with the discipline and focus that this needs. Though born in the chaos of the old world, we do our best to bring order to the new one we find ourselves in.”

-Fifth Scout, Third Company of the Warlord’s Own Regiment


The Warforged are the remnants of the Great Fleet of Tierna. After fleeing from Witch King and the chaos of the aftermath of the Mad God’s War they travelled across the Mortal Realms and eventually ended up in the Great Waste where they survived and ultimately even thrived. A little over three-hundred years ago they returned to the Heartlands of Avalon to retake the remnants of Tierna. The Iron Court holds the secrets of creating Warforged close, and rumors abound about the process – that the Warforged are actually bound undead, summoned fiends, clever constructs that were never actually human, or worse. The transition to Warforged does not merely change the physical form, it also creates a certain remove from the hot-blooded passions of humanity. By human terms the Warforged often come across as dispassionate, but this in no way should be taken as a lack of dedication to their goals, values, or ideals – but their emotions have become abstracted in many ways. They are also rarely found outside the environs of the Iron Court, though a few Warforged have “mustered out” – though this more often translates as “deserted” by the authorities of the Iron Court.

Statistic Bonuses: +1 Strength, +2 Constitution

Languages: Old Tiernaese, Tiernaese

Size, Speed, and Appearance: Warforged stand 5′ tall (+2d10), and weigh 160 lbs (x4d4) lbs. Their Size is Medium and their Speed is 30 feet per round. They are somewhat taller and broader than humans, but much heavier. The oldest of the Warforged are barely or even non-gendered, but over time more and more gendered features have been added with new converts. In appearance they are made of plates and cables of metal and stone, with expressionless faces – though their eyes will brighten and dim with emotional intensity. While the basic appearance of Warforged is essentially the same, the various Forges which create them tend to use subtly different materials that can be discerned by those of sufficient knowledge. All Warforged also a set of runes at the nape of their neck with their rank and unit, as well as any titles that they may have been granted.

Common Dress: In the lands of the Iron Court, the Warforged tend to wear battle harness and little more. In other lands they may adopt kilts or robes in acknowledgment of local customs (though they are often mistaken for golems). Rogue Warforged are known to wear all manner of clothing, use bodypaint, as well as various accessories and jewelry – or continue to follow the customs of the Iron Court.

Lifespan: Warforged essentially have no childhood or adolescence, they are at “physical maturity” at the moment of creation. There is a very short (measured in weeks) period of physical acclimation, and since they are all created from a previously living human they all have the basic knowledge of the world and life that might be expected. The upper end of their natural lifespan has not yet been discovered, the oldest among them are over a thousand years old and remember the chaos following the Mad Gods War. They generally begin play at 10 +1d4 years of age.

Common Culture: The culture of the Warforged is rooted and Old Tiernaese military culture and society, but filtered through centuries of survival hidden in the Great Waste and elsewhere. It’s also impacted by the generally dispassionate nature of the Warforged themselves, becoming somewhat more disciplined and intellectual where it is was once filled with soldiers and sailors who frequented bawdyhouses. Centuries of discipline and refinement has also created a military machine that retains a clear hierarchy but is also remarkably egalitarian – the mission matter more than rank. Since returning to the Heartlands, the Warforged have held themselves somewhat aloof from their subjects, somewhat at a loss as to how to deal with …humans. It takes Warforged decades to build up an appreciable predictive understanding of human emotions, as well as the nuanced understanding of their own muted emotional responses (including related concepts as humor).

Common Backgrounds: The Criminal, Outcast, Outlander, and Soldier Backgrounds are most appropriate for Warforged.

Naming Conventions: Warforged choose nicknames from a variety of sources over their lives, formally their “name” if their rank and unit designation in the Great Fleet – with occasional noble titles for those of the greatest achievements.

Common Alignments: The Warforged center around the Neutral alignments – Neutral and Lawful Neutral being quite popular. Due to their changes, Warforged often seem to have odd or obscure views on morality, so they can easily fall into Neutral Evil or less commonly Neutral Good territory, and similarly some also follow the Chaotic Neutral path.

Common Religions: The Warforged almost exclusively worship the Great Elemental Dragons, belonging to a variant philosophy and organization known as the Svastika. Unlike the Quatrefoil, the Svastika espouses a martial philosophy that emphasizes the survival of the fittest along with a dedication to the various aspects of the Great Elemental Dragons. Those few Warforged who don’t belong to the Svastika tend to worship Godlings of the Court of Flint and Steel.

Common Classes:  Preferred — Monk, Fighter, Rogue; Common — Barbarian, Ranger, Paladin; Uncommon — Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard; Rare — Cleric, Bard; Very Rare — Druid

Common Professions: The original Warforged were created out of the Great Army of the Mad God that fled in the aftermath the Mad God’s War, as such they were all members of military units – primarily infantry and scouts. Since then, and especially since returning to Avalon, there have been Warforged created with a less militaristic outlook. To this day, almost the entirety of the Warforged remain loyal to the Iron Court, only a comparative handful have turned their backs on their brethren and struck out to forge a separate destiny.

Racial Traits

Composite Plating: The Warforged construction incorporates wood and metal, granting them a base Armor Class of 12.

Living Construct: Fundamentally the Warforged are a living creatures, albeit ones that have been transformed into sorcerous amalgams of metal, wood, and spirit. As a result of this they are immune to disease, nor do they need to eat or breathe, though they can ingest food and drink if they wish. They are also immune to the Exhaustion condition.

Unsleeping Sentinel: The Warforged have moved beyond the need to sleep. Instead, they settle into a resting state, remaining semiconscious for 4 hours each day, though they are aware of their surroundings. After resting in this way, they gain the benefit of a Long Rest.

Warforged Resilience: The Warforged have advantage on Saving Throws against Poison, as well as Resistance against Poison damage.

Self-Stabilizing:  Warforged have advantage on death saving throws.

Psionics: Reserved

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Session #10 – Cragmaw Castle (Part 1)

We finally picked up the game again after having to skip a session due to multiple and various illnesses – and the campaign really saw some interesting developments. Unlike the previous session, which saw the party encounter some wandering Hill Trolls (and doing an amazing job of killing them), the continued trip to Cragmaw Castle (now revealed after some reflection by the various party members to be the Citadel of Seven Towers, an ancient ruin dating back to the White Empire) saw little in the way of events – save one.

While on watch one night, Gwyneth (and her alone) found herself “caught outside of time” and facing a knight clad in somewhat antique, ornate grey armor. The knight challenged, she accepted, and the two faced off – fighting dearly for a handful of exchanges until Gwyneth, close to death, managed to strike the final blow only to have the knight disappear into mist – and leaving her with the Blessing of the Cold Flame.

The next morning there was some discussion of this event as Gwyneth revealed what had occurred, but given that nothing much could be done or investigated, the party pressed on to Cragmaw Castle – carefully following the gnomes, Fonkin and Wren, along with Rhys as they scouted along ahead, looking for ambushes. Finding none, the party eventually came upon the lair of the Cragmaw goblins…

And, with the keen-eyed gnomes and half-elf scouting, promptly found a hidden entrance though the north side of the ruins. Working carefully, the party entered and slowly scouted out the center section of the lair – until Rhys “discovered” another pit while Fonkin and Wren avoided the collapsing floor. The sound of crashing rock (and swearing Rhys) alerted nearby goblins who quickly attacked the party from a variety of directions.

Fundamentally the party made short work of the goblins, with a minimum of wounds taken in return. After a short pause when there were no more goblin attacks, Gwyneth, Jarvic, Ilda, and Fonkin took a rope down to investigate the oubliette that Rhys had found himself in. It was an unexpected and eerie chamber – circular with layers of writing on the walls and the huddled scrap of rags that remained of the former occupant.

Obscuring a deeper level was a grate in the center of the floor made of woven bands of cold iron, silver, and orikalkium – all inscribed with runes that the meaning of which could not be determined in the time that was spent there. Floating in midair at the cardinal points, connected to the floor in a similar manner, were four great crystals filled with Wind, Flame, Sea, and Stone and as the party attempted to understand what they had found there was a great blast of radiance and silent thunderous winds as a cloaked and shrouded female figure manifested, floating above the grate.

The party stood revealed, in the radiance that shone forth from the figure – Jarvic with the sigils and aspect of his status as a Dorje of the Great Dragon of the Air, Gwyneth with sorcerous runes and a nimbus of grey flame, Fonkin overshadowed by his Archfey Patron, the Prince of Fools, and Rhys with eldritch runes and a nimbus of grey flame that was striking similar to Gwyneths – of the group it was only Ilda who betrayed no higher allegiance, merely the runics notes of a bard floating about her.

Speaking to Jarvic, the entity (most likely the “Maiden of Storms” – a known servant and ally of the Great Dragon of the Air as well as a member of the Celestial Court) warned him directly of a coming “Age of Worms” and instructed him to seek the “Whispering Cairn” in order to stave off this threat. Disappearing, the Maiden of Storms left the group, reeling in her absence, trying to decide what to do.

And that’s where we left it – with the party having just returned to the room above and all coming together.



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Ok, this is an experience system that works ok…

After examining Alexis’ system (as mentioned last post) and crunching some numbers in 5e I have a surprising conclusion. I actually have to reduce the XP award to bring it from a 1e based game and into the realm of 5e.

I was originally thinking that I might have to boost the award for the “big creatures” but based on Deva (CR10) and a Solar (CR20) the XP reward based on damage dealt and damage received (plus bonuses for defeating the creature and total party damage, both to be split evenly across characters) the 10XP/20XP award came to just over double the CR10 XP for the Deva and just under triple the CR20 XP for the Solar.

So, I’m cutting the awards in half – which also make the awards for low CR creatures less egregiously high compared to their nominal CR XP value. Characters get 5XP per point of damage that they deal in combat (spell-casters get the “best ” result from area effect spells, but not XP for every creature damaged), and then if the party defeats the creature there is a bonus split amongst the participating characters equal to 5XP per HP of the creature. Similarly, characters gain 10XP per point of damage that they take, and at the end of combat the total damage that the party has taken is totaled and multiplied by 10XP with all the characters who participated in the combat splitting that total as well.

Yes, this generally awards more experience than normal for 5e system. But it has the benefit that it is more closely tied to character risk and actually experience. Quick fights where the players outclass a target or mob it with little damage to themselves result in less experience while fights where characters are brought near death (even when fighting “little monsters”) while slaying mobs of creatures result in more experience. It also closely links character XP  to character behavior – while still providing a group bonus for those characters who hang back. Characters which prefer to play support and avoid getting “skin in the game” still advance, but slower than those who are “stuck in” while hitting and getting hit.

And, frankly, I don’t care if the players are advancing “quicker” than normal 5e – I’m confident of my ability to give my players a good game, and I tend to load my games with “lower CR” creatures in 5e terms. I’m guessing that, looking at the XP tables, characters will naturally slow down a bit around 5th or 6th level unless they start seeking out “higher CR” creatures – and in my game those are pretty nasty in combat. I’d expect to start seeing characters dropping if that was the plan.

In normal 5e I have to start “stocking the dungeons” with higher and higher CR creatures to building those “average adventuring day” encounters. Now, I just have to make encounters that make sense in terms of Gygaxian Naturalism, trust that I can run them in an enjoyable way, and let the players decide what an “average adventuring day” looks like.

Plus, I can run NPC’s with character classes as opponents now and don’t have to try and figure out what their CR is!



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Experience, CR, and the whole unholy mess…

I just want to say that I hate the whole CR and Monster Creation process in 5e again.

So I’ve been thinking about alternates.

On the one hand I could probably come up with some sort of analogy for the 1E system. The biggest issue is that there is not a linear progression either from CR0 to CR30 creatures, or even from CR0 to CR24 creatures (which is where the ancient red and gold dragons sit). That has the ubiquity of being something I’m familiar with and I just need to work so the XP for a monster is roughly the same in either game.

The problem with that is that I’ve already been burned by the 1e system before. I do still like the utter and complete simplicity of Alexis’ XP system, but then I run into the problem that 1e also grants XP for treasure and in 5e XP only comes from defeating monsters. His game runs roughly 40% XP for creatures and 60% XP for treasure, so I’d need to double the gains for it to balance out (assuming I wanted to balance things per his campaign style). Plus, XP in general is inflated from 1e numbers and the XP needed to level is greatly reduced. I haven’t done any number crunching yet in 5e terms, but I suspect that the balance would be off even if I did something like tie ??xp per HP of the creature (so that the party got bonus XP for the monster in the same way ).

Alternately, I would just accept that the XP system gets inverted a bit – just as Alexis was trying to address. I think the real place to address things is to grant some sort of XP reward for inflicting Conditions being that they are essentially “quasi-damage” in many respects. This would also solve the problem of “combat effective but not damage producing spells” – how do we reward that?

Now, yes, this system would speed up the already ramped up advancement of the lower levels in 5e and have slowed down advancement at higher levels – maybe… Those humanoid minions are actually “worth something” now in the greater XP picture – a lot of something.

It is so gosh darn simple…





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First new official rules for 5e – and they are free!

So, I “picked up” the free PDF of the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion and on the one hand I like it a fair amount and on the other hand I’m kind of disappointed. The new races are fine, though the Genasai are very different in my game world, and I’ve never used the Snervnebblinglinelfnanfa….. whatever they are, Deep Gnomes – and while I’ve never used the …bird people… as a race in my game world, I can see them having a place (I have other flying races that have played a much more significant role – Winged Folk anyone?). I certainly never had the Goliath’s, but I actually like them – just not sure about that damage reduction ability (it seems very fiddly to me).

The meat is the new spells, especially the new cantrips and the Investitures. I’m very happy with everything I’ve seen there and will actually be updating a couple of bits here and there on other races abilities to reflect these new cantrips.

My big disappointment is the lack of character class options – specifically the lack of Cleric domains and Wizard schools with an elemental focus. The Monk could also have seen some love here, along with the Sorcerer and the Warlock, but there was no love to be had for anyone.

So sad.

In any case that just means that I need to belly up to the bar and come up with my own Cleric domains for the En Khoda Theos Kirk (given that I have a cleric of the Great Dragon of the Air in the game now), and start thinking about how I would handle the Wizard’s Arcane Tradition (and a Warlock Patron and a Sorcerer bloodline).

That said, I’m really looking forward to gaming this week after recovering from the plague last session and it ending up being cancelled.



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Which Imperium is Lost?

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about ProtoTraveller, as well as my idea of the “Lost Imperium” setting actually being a Traveler game rather than a Dark Heresy game. Another interesting spin that combines that idea with the canon Traveller universe would be a similar  “trip over a Ancient’s trapdoor” during either the Civil War or the Psionic Suppressions.

It doesn’t quite answer the question though – an full-sized WH40K Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade had enough people to found a empire. Whatever it is that meant to escaped from the Traveller universe wouldn’t be nearly so big (ok, I suppose I could posit some other weird Jump Space effect hat simply captures a bunch of ships all at one time or something).

Just something I ponder while I wait for the D&D 5e game to come about!


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The Heptarchy

The Heptarchy is a pantheon led by the Lady Night and it is made up of Her, along with Her three sons known as the Perihelion and Her three daughters known as the Perilune. It is a very old religion, dating back to Atlan and before, and it is found wherever humankind fled after the fall of that realm.

Lady Night Herself is known as the Mother of Darkness, and holds sway over magic and mysteries of all sorts. She accepts the worship of any and all, unconcerned with alignment by either priest or worshipper and is distant, some would say uncaring, head of her family. Some say she is one of the Great Gods, hidden in a lesser form, but if this be true even Her priestesses known it not. She and Her priestess keep their counsel close, but when they share their thoughts it is generally a deep wisdom that shows both unlooked for compassion and the willingness to sacrifice all for the greater good. Her symbols include the Dark of the Moon, Jet, or an Orb (Domain: Knowledge/Trickery)

The Perihelion

The Orders of the Suns are made up of Sol Invictus and Helios Panoptes. The Orders are well organized and mutually supporting sects that are found in all civilized lands. They oppose evil and chaos and are often willing to ally themselves with groups like the Church of the Lords of Light or the Khemeti where they have both morals, ethics, and overall goals in common. Together, the brothers ride the Great Dragons of the Suns, and the faithful watch the sky for signs of their passage.

Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, is first among leaders and warriors. He stands for all that is lawful and good, and tolerates nothing but the same in his priests and followers. He is favored by nobles and rulers across the Mortal Realms, as well as by common soldiers who pray for His blessing and protection combat. The symbol of Sol Invictus is a Golden Bladed Imperial Sun. (Domain: Light/War)

At His side stands His brother, Helios Panoptes, the All-Seeing Sun, truth-seeker and bringer-of-judgment. Truly neutral, Panoptes brings judgment based on what has happened, by whatever standard is asked – truth is his purview, not justice. His worshippers includes spellcasters, judges, lawyers, and kings who rule by wisdom rather than by strength of arms. The symbol of Helios Panoptes is the All-Seeing Eye within a Golden Sun. (Domain: Knowledge/Light)

They are both thwarted by Their brother, whom They curse whenever He appears, the Midnight Sun. The Masked One whose intrigue outmatches the strength of arm of His brother Invictus and whose deception can blind even His brother Panoptes. The Midnight Sun is served by thieves, spies, and diplomats and while very few who are good serve Him, many of His worshippers are neutral and even evil. The symbol of the Midnight Sun is a some variation of a Sun in Black or a Mask. (Domain: Trickery)

 The Perilune

The Mysteries of the Moon are made up of sects that worship the daughters of Lady Night, the Three Sisters; Mother of Pearl, Daughter of Bone, and Sister of Blood. These sects are more secretive than the Orders of the Suns, often concerned more with issues of hearth, home, and heart than with the more lofty political and social concerns of the Orders of the Suns. The Perilune are often willing to ally themselves not merely with the Perihelion, but with the Old Faith, and are friendly with the servants of the Lords Tarot. Like their brothers, the Three Sisters each ride one of the Great Dragons of the Moons, their passage marked by tides and weather.

The eldest of the daughters of Lady Night is known as Mother of Pearl. She holds sway over birth and rebirth, over the potential of the womb, and the cycles of life itself. Mothers everywhere swear by Her name and sacrifice pearls in times of need. Careful, considerate, compassionate, but also calculating Mother of Pearl attracts priestesses and followers who are Lawful in nature – She is less concerned with the morals of Her followers and more with the ethics. Her symbols include the Full Moon, Pearls, or a Chalice. (Domain: Life/Nature)

The middle daughter of Lady Night is known as Daughter of Bone. She is feared by all, unaligned and Neutral in all ways as are Her servants. Daughter of Bone holds sway over Death, of the body, the mind, the soul, and the spirit for She is final silence that comes to all things. Her worshippers are few and far between, but all pray to Her in their final moments. Her symbols include the Waning Moon, an Bone Knife, or a Skull (Domain: Death)

The youngest daughter of Lady Night is the Sister of Blood, She who rules over passion and fertility, and all those things that quicken the blood. Unlike Her sisters, She is Chaotic and Her followers are equally as unpredictable – often gathered together in bands of maenads and bacchae, even bands of berserking amazons fighting on the battlefields alongside men. Her symbols include Waxing Moon, a Spray of Blood, or a Labrys (Domain: War)


Game Mechanics Will Come in a Later Post

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The En Khoda Theos Kirk

Also known as the Cult of the Elements, or the Kirk (church) of the Four Great Elemental Dragons, the En Khoda Theos Kirk is the formal name for the religion or mystical philosophy that is focused individually upon the elements as they manifest through the Great Dragons of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. It is the closest to formal worship or veneration or organized contemplation and study of the Great Gods (or at least a portion of them) that exists and is thought to be among the oldest of the organized religions, primarily practiced by the Dragonborn and the Warforged of the Iron Court but with a strong minority following of humans from Ith and Atlan. Human worship is loosely organized into a great congregation that is known as the Quatrefoil, while the Warforged have a highly organized and ruthlessly efficient organization known as the Svastika, that serves them as a state religion even if the analogy is a weak one.

There are five basic roles recognized within the religion of the En Khoda Theos Kirk; there are the Drakein (trans. “those who see clearly”), the common body of sworn and allied faithful who pursue the mysteries of the Great Dragons; the Maikoiran, the prophets; the Kenza, the warriors and champions, the Dorje, the priesthood; and the Vajra, the solitary warrior-mystics – all of whom are devoted to the Great Dragons. Unlike other religions there is no formal pursuit of a status beyond that of the Drakein, there is only the Call of the Great Dragons, and the trials and process of moving deeper within the faith can be terrifying. Similarly, there is no real organizing authority within the religion and for the various authorities both secular and religious this is also of the most frustrating parts of dealing with the En Khoda Theos Kirk. Strange as those outside of the religion find it, Dorje-led Kirks, Kenzan Fighting Orders, Vajran mystical fellowships, and Maikoiran secret societies all coexist and somehow manage to operate without much conflict – and this is the essence of the Quatrefoil, known also as the Dancing Kirk and the Union Stoicheion. For the Svastika, this is the state religion of the Iron Court, but again, more a philosophy than what most humans and other races think of as “religion”.

The Drakein are the gathering of the faithful in the greater congregation of the Kirk. While all of the Great Dragons are venerated, most faithful have one (or perhaps two) of the Great Dragons that are the most meaningful for them and that are granted the majority of their attention. The Drakein are taken from all walks of life – across social class and profession (Normal Worshippers).

The Maikoiran are the distinctly not a portion of the Dorje, the Kenza, or the Vajra – though many within those other groupings also followed this path for a time, or continue to follow it as a part of their service. They are dancing oracles, seers, and often tantrics who are viewed as touched by the Great Dragons, and are highly respected by the Drakein and others. The Maikoiran are organized into a bewildering series of secret societies and fellowships that provide support for themselves and Dancing Kirk as a whole (Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers, Warlocks).

The Kenza are the champions of the Dancing Kirk – lay brethren who are charged with the protection of the faithful and the guardianship of the various kirks and shrines. The Kenza are fierce and dedicated warriors who are associated with various fighting orders to whom they owe allegiance to. Common fighting orders include: The Thousand-Forged Dragons, The Storm Dancers, The Five-Fold Avalanche, and The Claws of the Dragons (Clerics, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, Rogues, Wizards).

Dorje serve the Great Dragons as a whole as part of the Quatrefoil, the Dancing Kirk. They serve as advisors and healers for their communities but only have formal authority within whatever kirk (temple) or vihara (monestary) they belong to. The two assemblages, kirk and vihara, are seen as distinctly different rules of conduct and behavior, but also as essentially co-equal and serving different purposes – kirks for the Quartrefoil and vihara for the individual Great Dragons. (Clerics).

Vajra are rare individuals who have sworn themselves and made alliance with one of the Great Elemental Dragons – they are essentially champions of that individual Great Dragon. They are often solitary in nature and wander looking for enlightenment and challenge, though a fair number tend to isolated shrines deep in the wilderness – a rare few even take up residence in an actual kirk and end up taking formal vows as a Dorje (Clerics, Monks, Paladins, Sorcerers, Warlocks, Wizards).

The Great Elemental Dragons

The Great Dragon of Earth and Metal: Also known as the Body Stoicheion, and often represents both stability and fertility.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal: Square or Rectangle / Brown / Stone Drake
  • Place of Worship: Underground or Stone-built Kirk or Vihara
  • Divine / Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Lawful (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Finding a gem, a stone or gem shattering, earthquakes
  • Common Professions: Warriors, Smiths, Craftsmen, Midwives.

The Great Dragon of Air and Sky: Is known as the Breath Stoicheion, and represents the ideals of curiosity and intellect.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal: Downward Triangle / White / Storm Drake
  • Place of Worship: Open Air Kirk or Vihara
  • Divine/Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Chaotic (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Whistling winds, still air, tornados
  • Common Professions: Sages, Sailors, Travelers, Wanderers.

The Great Dragon of Fire and Flames: Known as the Spirit Stoicheion, the Great Dragon of Fire represents both passion and consumption.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal: Upward Triangle / Red / Fire Drake
  • Place of Worship: Kirk or Vihara with Furnaces or Firepits
  • Divine / Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Chaotic (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Fires flaring, fires dampening, explosions
  • Common Professions: Performers, Tantrics, Artists.

The Great Dragon of Water and Seas: Consider by the some the most fearsome, the Great Dragon of the Sea is also known as the Blood Stoicheion, and stands for both mystery and adaptability.

  • Symbol / Color / Animal : Circle / Blue / Sea Drake
  • Place of Worship: Kirk or Vihara with Springs, Pools, Fountains, etc.
  • Divine / Worshipper Alignment: True Neutral / Neutral (Any), Chaotic (Any)
  • Common Manifestations: Water going still, water running abnormally, whirlpools
  • Common Professions: Mages, Diplomats, Psychics.
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Session #9 – Travelling to Cragmaw Castle

So this session saw the addition of a couple we’ve known for a few years now as players. DGP created Jarvic, a human Dorje (cleric) of the En Khoda Theos Kirk, serving Great Dragon of the Air. He was fine in understanding that once Princes of the Apocalypse came out I might tweak the nature of the “Air Domain” I was creating on the fly here for him, but overall seemed pretty happy with his character and how it turned out (even if the stats were mostly very average). KS created Dagri, a Khazan (Half-Goblin) Barbarian after rolling two 18’s in her stats – ending up with a Strength of 20 and a Constitution of 19 for her 1st level character!

As an aside, names for the henchmen were also determined – Wrenn Tosscobble for Fonkin’s cousin the rogue, and Aneirin for the High Elf paladin that was now determined to protect and take care of Gwyneth.

So the party gathered themselves together to get ready to ravel to Cragmaw Castle and rescue their former employer Gundren Rockseer, discussed various rumors that they had come across while in Diamond Lake – the most troubling of which was that the mayor might very well be planning on attacking and wiping out a nearby “Twilight Monastery” with the help of his brother (a local mage), the sheriff, and some hired mercenaries. Devin was greatly troubled with this possibility and only agreed to leave without investigating further when the party agreed to return, post-rescue, and find out what was going on. He also sent a letter off via Navigator to his brother, informing of his fears and suspicions.

With that, the party set off, now nine-strong, travelling back across the hills, to assault Cragmaw Castle and rescue Gundren!

The first two days of travel went by without any trouble. But as they were relaxing at the end of the second day after dinner a group of four hill trolls stumbled across them and decided to attack. Now, neither side achieved surprise, and it was, for all intents, a stand up battle. Now, in my 1e game, hill trolls are somewhat nasty pieces of work – basically an Hill Giants with some bonuses. So, I treated these hill trolls the same – Hill Giants with the same bonuses. In three rounds they were all dead (the last being slain in a flurry of opportunity attacks when trying to flee) after some admittedly excellent rolls by the party. I can’t say that they trolls even rolled that badly, but the party was able to layer them with Disadvantage, plus give themselves Advantage, and over all the trolls only hit twice, and never even managed to drop anyone – even the 1st level characters.

It was really pretty amazing – Dagri critted one of the trolls at a crucial moment and killed it, and then also struck the killing blow on the last one as it fled. Rhys killed one that the melee fighters had been pounding on, while Gwyneth blasted one and slew it. I’m actually going to have to rethink trolls a bit in 5e I think, they are not nearly as scary as they should have been. They did have a nice flavor of having to be beaten upon greatly and I liked that, but they still went down a bit too easily for a group of this level. I also have to say that the party synergized roles and abilities very well, that is clearly what their success was due to, not “wimpy trolls”. I just have to rebalance them for a new edition and new mechanics.

Now, all that said, I still gave the group XP for five CR5 creatures – and this came out to 900 XP for everyone (half that for the henchmen). Jarvic and Dagri jumped to 3rd level in one fight, the henchmen both made it to 2nd level, and Gwyneth, Ilda, and Devin each made it to 4th level!

Dagri continued with amazing rolls, and rolled up maximum HP for both levels!

Everyone had fun, the new players enjoyed themselves immensely, and we’re all looking forward to the next game session – though MS (Devin) and MR (Fonkin & Wren) are going to miss. MS flies back in from Minsk the day before and will be dead-on-arrival, while MR has a prior engagement he can’t get out of.



Categories: Campaign, Game Play | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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