Where’s Judd?

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These are the places you can regularly hear and/or see me talking about gaming or doing the thing and streaming some play. Links are both in the pictures and in the text beneath.

Here’s the link where I store my links.


Daydreaming about Dragons Podcast

The logo for my podcast, Daydreaming about Dragons

In which I have a conversation with you about techniques that are shaking out at the tables where I sit and inspirational media.


The Sixth Ring, a Trophy Podcast

In which Jason and I discuss the Trophy RPG and in doing so end up talking about game culture and techniques that link up to all kinds of tabletop RPG’s.


I’m often gaming on the Actual Play twitchstream channel.

World of Dungeons, Twitch.com/ACTUALPLAY

Municipal Dungeon Delving in the fantasy city of Jaquays (pronounced Jake-Ways) in the wake of the Sorcerer-Kings, who have abandoned this world and have left their toxic labs, wyrd towers and feral pets all over the city-scape. More about the making of this game here.


I’ve been honored to play so much on the Actual Play channel, a place where I’ve made wonderful friends and played wondrous games.


What am I regularly playing off-stream?

The Sigil 6: Outlands Expedition Team

On Thursday evenings we play D&D, our Thursday night game, founded at the start of the pandemic. Here are the characters and the links to the related blog posts (houserules, AP posts, etc.).


https://githyankidiaspora.com/friday-night-troika-and-other-strangeness/

Here’s where I’m keeping my ideas for the science-fantasy RPG, Troika!, and blog posts about our Friday night game. Link above (and in the tabs at the top of the page).


After years I’m getting together with old friends, Jeff and Storn, and playing an investigative D&D game set in the Domains of Dread from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft and countless other supplements from my gaming youth. It is an experiment and it is working for us. Storn graciously illustrates characters in the game and his art is a lovely way to commemorate the game.


I have a Threadless shop, all artists’ proceeds go to amazing causes. My hope is that my nerdery will make the world a better place somehow. Design examples and links to collections below:

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games
https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/science-fiction
Geek Media Studies
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Daydreaming about Dragons, Epsiode 91 TABLETOP TECHNIQUE – Problems Not Solutions / INSPIRATION GOAT – True Detective Season 2 and Chasing the Beauty — Daydreaming about Dragons

https://anchor.fm/s/7a35e38/podcast/rss Summary Links If you’d like to pay-to-play with me as the GM, here’s my GM profile on Start Playing | https://startplaying.games/gm/judd Daydreaming about Dragons Merch | https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/daydreaming-about-dragons | Inspiration Goat’s Twitter | https://twitter.com/InspirationGoat | Dictionary of Mu | https://pakasthreadgames.bigcartel.com/product/the-dictionary-of-mu — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/daydreaming-about-dragons/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/daydreaming-about-dragons/support Transcription

Daydreaming about Dragons, Epsiode 91 TABLETOP TECHNIQUE – Problems Not Solutions / INSPIRATION GOAT – True Detective Season 2 and Chasing the Beauty — Daydreaming about Dragons
Why I think liches are assholes.

Why I think liches are assholes.

I don’t think liches are bad people because they have cheated death and subverted some kind of “natural order” of things or because Negative Energy has evil cooties. Eff all that.

Liches are shitty people because, to my mind and in the lore I have in my head, they have to destroy everything and everyone that they have ever loved in order to ritually gain immortality. They are the ultimate show of selfishness. They exemplify, my great work is more important than anyone. Liches believe that their minds and will can make the world better than every other person and so, after a while, they want only their minds and will to reign over a dead and decaying world.

A friend of mine said, “Maybe people who want all orcs to be evil just want to…ya know…punch Nazis.” How is the above post about liches different from All Orcs are Evil? I’ll tell ya. It is about nouns and verbs.

If people are evil because of what they are, because of a noun – you aren’t looking to punch fictional Nazis. You are looking to punch fictional Jews.*

*I don’t think the nouns and verbs idea is something I thought of. If I stole this line of thinking form you, please let me know and I’m sorry. Was it Mendez who said it? When I find it, I’ll cite it.

Liches aren’t assholes because their bones are showing or because their eyes shine with the lights of twin dead stars. Liches are evil because of verbs – because of the the things they do. The ritual to become a lich is filled with evil, selfish murderous acts. Verbs.

But it makes them great arcane villains. I love daring my friends to punch a lich right in their selfish, evil face.

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 5: Keep on Truckin’ a.k.a. Enter Acererak

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 5: Keep on Truckin’ a.k.a. Enter Acererak

In which the Sigil 6 enter the Tomb of Annihilation again but this time they encounter the tomb’s architect.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Before entering the Tomb of Annihilation, Kuru met up with Dacaad and offered whatever support he could and when they parted ways the little Halfling Arcane Trickster said, “Keep on trucking.” This became the words of the night.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

It was a slow start. I didn’t sleep well last night and didn’t have much energy. We levelled up characters, read up on shiny new 6th level spells and made tentative plans to re-enter the Tomb and get the Lich Soul Jars that they knew to be littered on the floor of the balconies above the Death God’s Nursery.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

Trundle had Moa, an Omuan deity in his head again, as he did when they first entered Omu. This gave the Sigil 6 access to the Godroads once again.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

They got into an area called the Chapel of Hate, with the altar to Orcus that they had used as a hasty exit a round or two ahead of Acererak. I rolled a d20, thinking that Acererak would arrive on a 20. Whenever the group stopped to do something – I added another 20. Discussion about what to do with the captive lich, 2d20. Looking over the hallway to the north and deciding not to mess with it – 3d20. Cutting away the Ward on the portal to the balconies above the Death God’s Nursey…4d20.

20.

Timestop. Finger of Death on Bugwump. Chain Lightning on everyone (didn’t do anything to Shepherd because he’s in a Flesh Golem shell).

And we’ll roll initiative next week. I described what it is like to know that time has stopped and that Acererak was staring at the staff Bugwump had acquired the last time the group was in Chult – the staff that had once belonged to the lich.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

Next Game: Acererak is in the building.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Into the Odd Delve #2: Scouting the Dusklands

Into the Odd Delve #2: Scouting the Dusklands

Yeah, 2.5 came before 2. Don’t @ me.

In the first adventure there was a gate that led to the Dusklands. The players had an arrow fired at them and shut the gate. In that time, I wrote out the adventure using my Trophy Gold Incursion format.

I wrote notes and really the most interesting bits came from decisions that weren’t on the page. Could very well be that having those notes gave me the peace of mind to make up the cool shit that made the game go because I didn’t have to think about the stuff I had outlined. Or the outline just wasn’t good (not the format, just my work within it) and so I fell back on old GMing instincts that have been getting me out of trouble for most of my life. I think it served me well; one of the players mentioned the details as being helpful during our post-game talk.

For whatever reason, I decided the Dooskalfs did not speak any language the players could understand. But their art and runes are so good that they can convey complicated stories and points of view by sharing this art. It was fun to convey lore and background through alien art.

I’m not going to get into specifics of the adventure but I’ll say that the players made smart decisions that kept them away from violence. Whenever possible, they reached out peacefully. I had an oathstone in my notes and this became the crux of the adventure as Marcus Guilder, one of the player characters, swore an oath that drove the rest of the game.

The game branched out and has demanded a future foray through this gate and into the Dusklands to loot a necromancer’s tower and a delve into the Herald’s Tomb, to return a Dooskalf’s remains to their comrades so that the prisoner in their tower might get an easier judgment from their Elders.

This trio of players gelled quickly. I’ve been playing lots of games with people from different parts of my life and this group had chemistry that I don’t often seen. It wasn’t anything any one of them did, just something about the four of us all together.

We did Stars and Wishes after the game, a tradition I will continue moving forward.

We discussed the need for our characters to be able to share delve reports with one another. I reckon we’ll do so through Google Docs.

Delve & Salvage Cooperative *** Report Ledger

Worn cover of an old book

There were no fights and only a few saves here and there. Guy’s player, when I asked them if they spoke Dooksalf, decided to let it be decided by a roll, a roll that really decided the vibe of the rest of the game. The roll failed; Guy had not paid attention in his Otherworldly Linguistics class. In other news, Bastion University has an Otherworldly Linguistics class.

The other roll I remember is also Guy, who was making a map and I wanted to know if it was a good map that could help future delvers and/or help them get through the Pentacle Valley in a hurry if they needed to hoof it back to the gate home. The map was excellent.

Into the Odd helped by allowing one of the new players to make a character in a few minutes with enough there to offer a vivid character but not so much that the character’s death would offer any real problems.

I have a FB group of about 144 friends who are either games or nerd-adjacent. I asked if they’d like to use the community to plan a few Into the Odd games a month and this game was born of that.

I recorded our Post-Game Stars & Wishes. This is my first time doing this. Might record more of these possibly with a short summary of what happened in the game.

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Reddit GM Advice: No Subtlety, ADHD & Brainstorming, Strahd Menu

Reddit GM Advice: No Subtlety, ADHD & Brainstorming, Strahd Menu

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

1.Don’t be subtle. Tell the players when they are making characters what the game is going to be about. Don’t make them chase it. There will be mysteries and surprises along the way anyway.

2. I bet if you tell them and the characters’ back stories are linked to these three, the B plots will write themselves.

3. A group that takes over the Zhents might be cool.

Good luck!

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Would a brainstorming worksheet help?

Context, Cool Shit and Consequences

Hope it is helpful. Good luck!

I’m really glad to hear that. Quite a few people I care about have been diagnosed with ADHD (and I’m looking into getting tested soon).

Could be I made this to deal with my own stuff…

Good luck! You can do this.

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Use the book (and all of the WotC adventure hardcovers) as a menu, rather than a guide or a text that must be followed. Choose the meals that interest you and leave the rest behind. Don’t feel like you have to play it exactly as written in order to play right.

Make it your own, look at the amazing resources in the Curse of Strahd community (Dragna Carta’s re-writes are well worth looking over).

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Many Odd Deaths

Many Odd Deaths

Into the Odd / Many Odd Deaths

Icons that reminded me of Into the Odd: cog, lightning bolt, star, crossed hammers, pistol, something, skull in a word bubble, bug, tree, fiery skull, star within a star

When a character hits 0 hit points and takes Critical Damage, they might be out of action for a bit. Or maybe a character has fallen but you want to tell them what they see beyond the veil.

Here are some thoughts – random tables for Bastion, the Deep Country and the Underground but more menus, hoping choosing what is right for the moment for the game, rolling if you think any might work – for incarnations of death that the delver, while hovering on the knife’s edge between life and nothingness, might hallucinate (or DID they? * cue spooky music *).

Deaths in Bastion
1 Foreman
2 Constable
3 Carriage Driver
4 Nurse
5 Neighborhood Kid
6 Kind Stranger
Deaths in the Deep Country
1 Farmer
2 Ancient Philosopher Priest
3 Local Who Died Recently
4 Everyone in the local cemetary
5 Cthonic Hound
6 Stormcloud on the Horizon
Deaths in the Underground
1 Winged Skeleton in a Spacesuit
2 Haunted alien humn
3 Dead Delving Comrade
4 Invsible downward pull
5 Alien fire diety
6 An Arcanas Incarnation

If these incarnations of death are real, can they be fought off, bargained with, challenged to a fiddle competition?

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Delve #2.5 Sacrifice, Mutiny & Larceny: Into the Odd and Trilemma

Delve #2.5 Sacrifice, Mutiny & Larceny: Into the Odd and Trilemma

A group of friends in a gaming-related FB group are playing a twice a month Into the Odd game. This week’s game had too many people signed up, so I divvied it up into a Monday and a Wednesday session. Grabbed the adventure in Trilemma Adventures that I’ve always thought was interesting.

Edited out the Octopus-God.

Charcoal sketch from an old water-damaged tome on Narin’s Ring called Isles of the Porth-Montoon.

The adventure, I explained, was taking place in the Deep Country. Eventually, when the campaign has matured a bit, I’ll have some hex maps for the Deep Country, the Underground and Bastion. We’ll build up to it after a few isolated delves to give it all context. For now, I’m not mucking about with travel and encounters with bandits or pilgrims. Time works different in the three zones, allowing us lots of freedom. They took the train out of Bastion to its most southern point and then road mules through the Barrow Hills out to the coast to Narin’s Ring.

These characters had never gamed together. 2 of the players went to college together but hadn’t seen each other in decades. I asked some questions.

“Ming (silent M), what do the others notice about you during the journey?”

“Marcus, what kind of habits or tics do the others notice?”

“Culver, what do you tell them about the first delve you went on?”

Into the Odd

Delve #2.5
Sacrifice, Mutiny & Larceny

They went right to the Umbilicus, a wrecked tribute ship from an old incarnation of the Bastion navy. I was scanning the book and missed that the other priests were armed and that half of them were salt zombies. Ah well.

There was a spirited fight against the Octopus God, full of chaos and messiness. Good on Marcus and Culver for going overboard to save their comrade, Ming (the M is silent). Ming very nearly died and passed out right as Culver dragged him to shore before the god could drag him off to Drowned Gaal. Marcus grabbed Ming’s falling pick-axe before it could fall to the bottom of the ocean. The Octopus God took off with the priest Culver had pushed overboard earlier.

Ming wanted to burn every building in the Ring down and kill everyone. Culver and Marcus were a bit more measured in their response. At one point we rolled some dice to see if Ming could light the Umbilicus on fire before Marcus could hold him down.

An elder of the island offered them a place on the Orthodox, an outlander ship that would be leaving soon, to keep them out of trouble. The trio took refuge among the sailors who wanted to sail away right this moment but the captain wanted to haggle with the Ring’s elders.

When Connor, one of the sailors, suggested not-so-subtly that they undertake some larceny and mutiny before sailing off the trio was reticent. Then a conch blew in the distance as night fell and a fog rolled in (I nixed the weakness effect – just didn’t like it). Marcus’ player astutely asked if the fog seemed natural. Maybe I should’ve asked, “How does Marcus try to figure out of the fog is natural or arcane?” but it felt like the perfect question.

“Yeah, Marcus, you see the fog is rolling in against the wind; it makes no damned sense.” Suddenly, the group was all in for mutiny and larceny. Connor led them to a curio dealer to rob. Two burly sailors waited by the harbor chain to make sure the Orthodox could sail away. In the end it all worked out, though they sent Connor back to the boat to warn them that underwater zombies were coming for the Orthodox. Connor never arrived and the trio got back before the zombies attacked.

Interesting moment: the players had stepped out of character to discuss what to do. The fog hadn’t rolled in yet and they weren’t sure. A friend said, “Do we want to finish the advneture and grab some treasure,” and I had to stop them. “Cutting your losses and going home is a valid choice. We had an exciting fight on a ruined ship with an octopus-deity and got to take part in some fun fantasy moments. There is no pressure to finish anything in any particular way.” I didn’t want them to feel that some prep of mine was going to go to waste.

It was a fun adventure, a fun situation. The group did a nice job of checking in with each other as in-character tensions rose. I never felt like people were fighting, even as characters were disagreeing.

There were some good questions about the level of tech in the world and if there was any underwater gear. Maybe some Bastion adventurers will return to the seas around Narin’s Ring to try and poke around Drowned Gaal with some diving gear.

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Dragonslayers: Consequences to telling off a dragon

Dragonslayers: Consequences to telling off a dragon

Adler, insisting that he’s just a tailor, is on the edge of the bridge, watching the Young Storm glide in the distance on thermals. Drifter is on the cobblestones of the bridge nearby, in Dragon Dreams. Draven, with a successful Dex check, has dropped from the netting meant to keep the gryphons penned in into a tree and to the floor of the gorge, where dragonsworn archers have their eyes looking up, trying to suss out who is brazen enough to attack the young dragon.

From Last Game
PIC: Cool-ass dragon eye made from an alligator eye pic.
TEXT: Dragonslayers / Military fantasy built on Into the Odd

Jay couldn’t make it, so we played for about an hour and then pumped the brakes a bit.

I was more than ready for Draven to die but that wasn’t what the fickle Dice Gods had in store for him today.

Draven had explosives divvied up into small packets and he threw those into the unaware archers, who were looking up to the bridge, expecting a larger battalion of soldiers brave enough to face down Young Storm, the blue dragon. I had Draven roll a d12 and the archers, caught flat-footed and unaware as they were only rolled a d4. The d12 did 10 points of damage, decimating the 20 archers and the squire who led them. They weren’t all dead, just not ready to organize as a group of soldiers until someone came and took control.

That said, Draven failed his Strength test and so he took Critical Damage, falling unconscious. I might’ve missed a roll on a critical damage table, something to watch out for next time. Long-story-short, Draven was captured, thrown into the brig with the Gyphon riders they were here to save.

Meanwhile, Drifter was in the Dragon dreams when the explosives went off. Young Storm followed his father’s instructions, getting the eff out of there. Drifter had one-on-one time with The Dragon in the Dragon Dreams. Looking back, I wish I had taken some time to describe that a bit better – something to watch out for next time in the Dragon Dreams, a missed opportunity to describe the villain of the story. Drifter sold himself as a Dragonsworn spy, built on the reputation he had as the Betrayer of Green Devil Gorge.

Some fun back and forth between Draven and the Gryphon Riders. “Wait, aren’t you a rider? Which unit were you with?”

“7th Courier.”

“Fucking couriers…”

Spear Subject Divider


Playing the turncoat to the hilt, Drifter got into the brig with the Dragon-knight he had seen in the Dragon Dreams. Draven and Drifter jumped the knight, using the chaos from the grenade and the decimated unit still trying to put itself back together outside. We rolled some dice and they stabbed the knight and got the riders to their flying steeds, letting them know to meet them at Crone’s Pass.

Drifter had an ability from chargen, Summon the Saint of Goats. We pictured a non-Satanic Black Phillip vibe and they got help climbing out of the Green Devil Gorge.

I like the way the dice all roll at once and we look at the damage and figure out what it all means. It feels like the Fair and Clear phase dice rolling from early Forge games. The damage and people’s hit points all make for a visceral result in ways that are always interesting.

I’m also digging the way the d66 tables from chargen have added spice to this stew.

Next week we’ll head northwest towards Crone’s Pass, avoiding the dragon’s forces who will be on high alert after this flagrant act of rebel terrorism.

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 4: Slaying the Queen of Feathers

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 4: Slaying the Queen of Feathers

In which the Sigil 6 slay the Queen of Feathers in front of Dacaad and return to Omu, a lost city in the midst of being rebuilt.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Helewynn’s player always wants to leave her weapons in their scabbards and do some outside the box stuff. I’m worried that 5e’s hit point bloat has attempted to mechanically curb this amazing instinct. Her Moon Elf jumped off her War Raven with a silver chain in her hands, wrapping the blade around the Queen of Feather’s mouth and wrestling her to the ground. When the Queen of Feathers attempted to throw her off, a 20 was rolled in the dueling athletics roll. The Moon Elf Barbarian dragged the legendary T-rex to the ground.

I described the Queen of Feathers desperately trying to get Helewynn off of her, using her Misty Step ability. I described it as stepping momentarily into the Astral Sea returning to Chult 20 feet above the ground but there was no shaking this elven bad-ass.

Kuru put a stone with Immovable Object on it on the back of the Queen of Feather’s head, pinning her in place. Jusko offered his vorpal blade, the one Kuru had ripped from the Queen’s head when they first met, and Helewynn beheaded the beast.

Trundle mentioned checking the corpse for magic items and I rolled on an online random table that generated a pile of magic items, adding in that she also had an undigested Githyanki Silver Sword.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

Dacaad warned the group that the kobold cliffs could be dangerous and cautioned against going to the Yuan-ti part of the city. “Turns out, when people worship a hungry snake god who wants to end the world by eating it, diplomacy is tricky.”

Sword crossed with key subject divider

The ancient Omu trickster snake god is back in Trundle’s head now that he is back, giving the group access to the Godroads again.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

The Sigil 6 hit 11th level tonight. Shit is getting real. I think we’re going to go from 1 to 20. Exciting.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

Next Game: A feast in Omu and then getting the Soul Jars they know are in Acererak’s trapped tomb.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Reddit GM Advice: World Building Depth, Eye of Vecna, No One Solution

Reddit GM Advice: World Building Depth, Eye of Vecna, No One Solution

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

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Have unanswered questions about people and factions, things that you will discover through play. These could be something they are on the knife’s edge about and could go one way or another – or a goal they are striving for.

Daydream about them without writing plot. Have conversations with them or as them in the shower but don’t lock anything down; don’t hold it too tightly (as Avery Alder said in Monsterhearts). Just ponder and consider.

Jot down 3 words that describe them. It is best if two of the descriptors conflict with one another. People are full of contradictions.

Have goals that they are pursing. When players see them again, consider how they have changed and what they have accomplished or failed to accomplish since they last met.

Digest media from a diversity of points of view.

Good luck!

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You can really have fun with this character’s perception.

Maybe sometimes they see what Vecna has seen in the past, scenes from when Vecna was a Wizard-King with a loyal knight friend named Kaz.

Sometimes they’ll see Vecna in the future, an Archlich making secret plans to destroy worlds.

Sometimes they might just see someone’s secrets, their most hidden things.

And sometimes Vecna will see them and nod, welcoming the to the fold.

Perhaps they can feel the person with the Hand, out there, moving towards them slowly.

Have fun!

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Or don’t come up with a solution. Let your players deal with that.

That way there’s no one right answer. Maybe there are several or some half-measures or some solutions that will degrade over time. Be open to solutions that deal with compromise and messiness.

Not having a solution leaves it in their court.

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