I recently received the best item wishlist ever from one of my players. It is amazing:
Friday, January 28, 2011, 4:02 PM
I recently received the best item wishlist ever from one of my players. It is amazing:
Thursday, January 20, 2011, 4:24 PM
Elf Invoker Journal is overdue, but coming soon. In the meantime here are some ideas I've had rolling around in my head.
- An adventure or encounter based in the the innards of a great beast who has swallowed the heroes.
- A short adventure based on the story in "The Hazards of Love" by the Decemberists. It has everything a d&d player would want. A shapeshifter in love with a nature spirit. A dastardly rogue villain with a horrific past that comes back to haunt him. A powerful forest queen (dryad or eladrin for sure) with a jealousy streak a mile wide.
- A living construct that gains self awareness and is invested with a lot of wild perceived truths about existence. I've already built this character, but I'll play him for the first time this Friday.
- Reskinning a lot of classes and races to fit a homebrew world where magic and it's sudden appearance in the world alters world religions and society to a very female focused bent. Magic is also entirely an inherited ability and tightly regulated by two magical bodies depending on which flavor of magic is manifested in a person. This would also be an ancient world time setting as opposed to western medevial.
-A campaign that functions much like the TV show Sliders from the 90's where the setting and world rules are always changing and the only constant is the relationship between the players.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 12:33 PM
I hold in my hands two stones. Both are the same size and shape, but one is black while the other is red. Both came from the dead bodies of foul women slain by myself and my companions, though the last is not truly slain yet. These stones have something to do with The Eight, the group that Xara belonged to and, according to Varzynthiir, was the weakest member of. I had hoped that the end of my business with Xara meant I would escape the notice of the rest of this group, but now that I hold this red stone I see that to be very unlikely. I have learned a lot in the last 24 hours, and little of it is very pleasing.
Just after I finished writing in this journal last night, I was preparing to go to bed. Brandis had still not returned and the rest of my companions were availing themselves of the Blushing Mermaid’s common room. I had just changed into my nightshift when I caught a small movement out of the corner of my eye. How Varzynthiir keeps getting in here unseen is vexing. I’m tempted to ward the entire building against drow, undead, and every unsavory creature I can think of if this keeps up. I still don’t trust the drow assassin, but he has had many opportunities to kill me, abduct me, or do any number of unpleasant things and hasn’t taken advantage of them. In fact he helps me more often than not. Our conversation after that didn’t help to clear things up in my mind, and perhaps his either.
He seemed very intent to speak with me at first, but couldn’t bring himself to say why. So instead I asked him about his past and what he knew of Xara. Now that she is dead I have become curious about her motives and past. I realized that I have no idea why she might have hated me so much and now I want to know.
He claims that she was a former princess of House Baenre who was either exiled or chose to leave the drow stronghold Menzoberranzan for the surface. He suspected that her apparent lack of priestly powers might have caused familial disappointment which would have led to her voluntary departure or forcible removal to cover their shame. He also confirmed her membership among “The Eight”. He said he would see her communing with them from time to time in a manner that looked like she was praying. When she would meditate and mumble to herself in this way the language she used was not an elven dialect, but curiously it was draconic. I showed him the letter we found on her body and he seems to think that The Eight have an interest in me that went beyond Xara’s personal hatred. I know they definitely do now, if for no other reason than this red stone in my hand.
Unfortunately he could not tell me more because he himself was a recent addition to Xara’s force. He claims to be a member of Bregan D’aerthe, which is an organization of drow mercenaries that manage to exist outside of the matriarchic social structure of the drow. Xara had made arrangements with this organization which led to Varzynthiir being sent to aid her. Once he realized though that she was mad, and that her madness would lead to him getting killed, he turned on her in the drow way. I got the distinct feeling that he wasn’t telling me everything about this arrangement, but I would expect no less. I certainly haven’t shared all of my secrets with him.
I wonder about him though. He speaks in a calm and crisp way and he wears mask of the unflappable assassin well, but he also acts strangely around me. He pointedly does not make eye contact with me and when I ask him direct questions he sometimes flashes a look that could be challenging or beseeching. For a while I thought he had a nervous habit about him. He often flicks and wiggles his fingers while talking to me. Coupled with the movement of his eyes I thought it was just a nervous habit. Now I wonder if he’s trying to communicate with me surreptitiously. I have heard of a silent drow means of communication using hands and fingers, but why he thinks I would be able to understand it is beyond me.
I asked him, not for the first time, why it is he helps me and why he comes to me for these rather intimate conversations. His defenses went up immediately and he seemed to almost fold in on himself. He told me, and also not for the first time, that he doesn’t know why. It’s a childish response, but one that I can tell is true. The last thing he said illustrates this completely. He was sitting on the window sill, his back against the frame and his boot on the ledge. He said, “I’m still not sure why I’m drawn to you. Anyone in my position, and especially any drow, would have at least left the city by now. But I…I feel driven to watch over you. I mean, I know you hate drowkind, or at least have every reason to, and for that reason alone I should absent myself, but…” He trailed off and then, without warning, dove out the window. I looked out the window after him, but he was gone.
The next morning Brandis had still not returned. During breakfast we found out why. A messenger came from Rayse with a letter. It told us more details about the attack on the temple and that Brandis had been arrested by the guard. Unsurprisingly, and with seemingly little concern from Rayse, he escaped during the night. Perhaps he is laying low somewhere since the Guard knows we stay here. Knowing Brandis can handle himself and we decided to let him resurface when he was ready. In the meantime we discussed more pressing matters. Kadath and I agreed that the matter with the scrolls in the Blackstaff Tower needs to be handled delicately. There are a lot of variables involved so we will begin gently and unobtrusively. We decided that, at our next opportunity, we would see if Rayse would be willing to arrange a meeting between us and the Blackstaff. The premise would be an official apology from me for attacking her at the fountain and an explanation from the guard how I was under the control of another at that moment. The true goal of the meeting however would be to gauge what kind of woman the Blackstaff is, see the inside of the tower, and get a feel for what our next move should be in the recovery of the scrolls. If she seems reasonable then perhaps a sharing agreement could be reached between us. If not, then it might be necessary to break into the tower and recover what is mine, even if it then necessitates fleeing the city afterwards.
The next order of business was the slavers who attacked the temple. Kadath had captured and interrogated one the night before and, with Rayse’s blessing, we had the ability to strike back at them. The thug revealed the location of the slavers’ hideout, which ironically enough, lay beyond the portal that Kadath discovered in the underground genasi chamber. Their leader was the one who hit me with a fireball last night, and turns out is no woman, but a lich named Avaereene. She took over from one named Zanathar and now calls her band The Sightless. Apparently she keeps the head of Zanathar as a trophy in her personal chambers along with a cache of treasure in her wardrobe beneath a false bottom.
Kadath was anxious to deal with these slavers and the thug Kadath pumped for information seemed to think their lair was also where they would have taken any of the captives from last night. We were given a password to get past the door. Rornkikaroff. This translates from primordial into something about an enemy falling, but I let Kadath worry about that. I still had the previous night on my mind. Specifically I was thinking about Lady Ilira. I could guess at the pain she must be in and I wanted to find her and comfort her if I could.
On our way to the slavers’ lair we stopped by the Menagerie. It was shut tight and dark, but I could see Ninea inside and, after getting her attention, she let us in. Ilira wasn’t there, though that is hardly a surprise. Ninea let us go upstairs and we investigated her room. It was obvious that she had come and gone. The room had been torn apart, but from someone hastily leaving, rather than someone destroying it in malice or while searching for something. I did find something interesting that had been left behind however. In a false bottom in her nightstand drawer I found a black leather journal, not too different from my own. Many of the pages had been torn out and I got the feeling that those missing pages are where anything incriminating would have been, but there was plenty still there. The journal began with her arrival to Waterdeep many years ago and chronicled her meeting Lorien and their resulting relationship. The last entry was intact and foreboding. She had portended something terrible coming. She said that she hadn’t felt this way since the last time HE did this to her. Who “he” is I don’t know, but I noticed a pattern in her writing that was curious. After I investigated it more closely this evening I realized that there was a code imbedded in the text. It seemed to be something added more subconsciously than a hidden message meant for specific eyes, but after I worked it out, it revealed W-E-S-T-G-A-T-E. Based on where it was located in the journal and its style, I think this might be where her old enemy might be.
As we left the Menagerie Ninea was in a state over her missing mistress. I decided that she needed something to distract her, so I set her to work. I told her to open the shop and, if she needed any help, to send for Clea, our head whore, at the Blushing Mermaid with instructions from me to lend a hand in organizing the workers of the dress shop. Ninea seemed pleased with this.
The rest of the day was spent fighting.
After using the password and going through the elemental portal we cut through a gelatinous cube and a small horde of undead animated by rotgrub swarms before we found where the prisoners were being held. Unfortunately the elemental portal had closed behind us and no amount of guessing passwords and blasting it would open it for us to escape with them. Telling them to stay put we went to the last set of doors. We overheard the lich’s raspy voice berating her forces, which was all the confirmation we needed to break down the doors with spells and swords blazing.
The battle was a difficult one and Avaereene proved very strong. Even blinded by my spells and harried by Ulik’s dragons she hit us hard with her own spells. In the end her slavers lay dead at our feat and she was cornered, though relentless and still deadly. Up until this point in the battle I had stayed behind my friends, supporting them with spells and divine streaks of power, but in this moment I knew that if we were cautious, she would prevail. I dashed into the room, my robes flapping with the speed of my movement, chanting an invocation that brought silence down around me. Avaereene was behind a large crystal imbued with arcane energies. When I came around it, she saw me for the first time. Before my spell was complete she exclaimed, “You!” but then my invocation ended and silence gripped her like a fist before exploding in a force which stunned her. My companions took advantage of her vulnerability and unleashed powerful blows that cut her down.
As she died, she disintegrated into dust and a red stone fell to the floor. I picked it up and a wave of dread washed over me. Reaching into my bag of holding I took out the black stone that came from Xara’s corpse. Aside from the color they were identical.
Now we have a big problem. In order to make sure she stays dead, we need to find her phylactery in a very short amount of time, but the likelihood of us finding it is very small. It could be anywhere. It might not even be in this region of world, much less in the city. We will begin looking tomorrow, but I suspect that regardless of Xara’s previous goals, we have now invariably drawn the attention of The Eight, no matter who they are.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 2:39 PM
Just started playing around with the Beta of the new Virtual Table. All I did was go in and build a map and populate it with monsters, but I can see this can be a pretty useful tool even without having other people involved.As a DM I really like the map building possibilities. The tile selection is pretty limited at the moment, but I would assume they would expand it once the full version launches. It seems like you have the ability to export the maps you build. Didn't have time to see what format it comes out in, but I'm hoping pdf so that it can also be used as a map building resource for real table gaming as well.
So far I'm a little disappointed that there's so much manual input of monsters, powers, and such. There is an import function for monsters, but why aren't they just already loaded in. Also it's not clear to me yet if you can import from the adventure tools or if you have to build them all by hand and save them for later as exports. That would be lame if that is the only option. It'll be the same situation for the characters. If there isn't a functionality to import from the new character builder at least, much less the old, then mega mega boo on them.
Hopefully I'll get a chance to test it out with some friends soon and see what it looks like in action from a player perspective.
One of the things I've been thinking about though is how to use this as a tool for in person table top gaming. One of my favorite things about d&d is the social aspect. Of my friends getting together, in the flesh, beer in hand, and having an actual social gathering. The virtual table will be great for people who live in far off places with few players or if a player is out of town and wants to remote in, but I am resistant to the idea of the virtual table replacing in person interaction. A friend of mine, who has one of those projector tv's suggested that this could be used in place of the table, minis, dice, and the all that. He envisioned passing a single laptop around, though I'm thinking you'd need at least two (one for the DM, one for the players) to make it work. In reality that sort of set up would work better if each person had a laptop and in fact may be the only functional solution in that situation based on how people need to log in, etc.
One of the other things I would wish for with something like this is more interactivity during play. Granted I haven't actually played with it yet, but I'm getting the sense that everything is very manual and not automated. For example, think about japanese tactics role playing games like Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics. When it's your turn and you go to move, the grid lights up with exactly where you can and cannot go based on your stats. It's looking like this is not going to have anything near that level of functionality, which is a shame. That would have been awesome. Maybe I was just hoping for an offical Wizards version of the stuff that was being created for the Microsoft Surface and am going to be disappointed no matter what. I'm willing to wait and see how it actually plays though before I get too worried.
Thursday, December 9, 2010, 9:25 AM
Keep meaning to do a Journal entry for Suriel, but I keep forgetting my session notes at home.
Fun stuff went down. We faced our first gelatinous cube AND our first lich. Well we reduced the lich to 0 hit points (barely) but we still need to find its phylactery.
Hopefully I'll have time this weekend or early next week.
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