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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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 3: The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 3: The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

In which the Sigil 6 once again travel south across Chult on pterodactyl-back.

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

The crew asked their merchant prince friend, Jessamine, whose nephew they saved from Zhent kidnapping and whose sister they have travelled with across the planes and consider a part of their Sigil 6 Family. They asked her if she knew of any of Acererak’s spies in Port Nyanzaru. She said she would look into it.

I described Jessamine’s face losing its smile as they left and she ordered the kidnapping of a merchant who was a known worshipper of Orcus. She got some intel out of this merchant through unkind means and send it to the Sigil 6 in a letter. Acererak does return to the Cradle of the Death God and is not planning on harming the Sigil 6 himself, believing that other forces will do that for him if he just waits long enough. Also they learned that Acererak lost some standing with other liches when his plans to make his own Death God fell through.

They travelled south and met a Ranger leading a group and he explained Dacaad’s leadership, “He seeks to unite the tribes and peoples across Chult as best he can. Dacaad has placed tablets in all of Ubtao’s deserted holy places, with a litany about what he needs to do to apologize to the people of Chult for abandoning them.”

There was a cool moment where this Ranger asked why they were on Chult. Jusko put it in a cool way, “We are being hunted and need help we can only find here.”

The Ranger nodded, “Being prey is a terrible thing.”

The Heart of Ubtao, a floating stone half a mile above the ground, was now being used as a hospital by healers, led by Ebelle, an elder. Bugwump rudely suggested they destroy the Teleportation Circle to Red Land of Thay rather than hoping a stone with a Dispel Magic Rune on it will lock it closed.

Ebelle took his advice and so they used Kuru’s Stone to Mud wand, digging up the circle from its stone roots and throwing it off the Heart. They were gifted a flying steed, a winged zebra, as a thank-you. Trundle loved the steed and so it is his.

Next Game: They could see a man on a hilltop, sipping from a canteen, sword across his lap. The Queen of Feathers, a legendary T-Rex is hunting him nearby, almost ready to pounce. That man is Dacaad.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 2: “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 2: “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

In which the Sigil 6 Scry the Cradle of the Death God.

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 and what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
Sigil 6 Subject Divider

The Corpseflea formerly known as Failed Soldier is now Shepherd. The player described the character not at all responding to the old name.

Love it.

Some players were missing tonight, so we had a low-key scry and chat. It was a lovely downshift.

Shepherd, the Corpseflea Death Priest, scryed into the chamber where the Sigil 6 had destroyed the Death-God Acererak was growing in the dungeon under the Lost City of Omu. He saw 8 Lich Soul Jars and with a Gem of True seeing, saw an invisible lich, bound by iron over its arms, legs, face and hands.

In the Chapel of Hate, they saw the Nothics chained to the wall and with a solid Arcana check, Bugwump explained that Vecna seeding false manuals that did not turn necromancers into liches but into Nothics, one eyed beasts with only vague memory of their previous lives. They also saw the secret doors down the hallway they hadn’t explored because I messed up and shared a map with the secret doors on it.

* shrugs * Eh.

During their last delve into this mess, they had access to the Godroads. This time they do not. They bought a Teleport Scroll as a safe retreat measure.

I really like re-visiting old places, seeing how things have changed. I’ve got fun ideas about the Lost City of Omu and how Chult has changed in the months since the Sigil 6 was here.

An ambitious tribal leader is uniting factions throughout the continent.

Next Game: Into the jungle. No, really.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 1: Return to Chult

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 1: Return to Chult

In which the Sigil 6 return to Port Nyanzaru.

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

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

We discussed some shopping options and picked up matched Rings of Protection +2 with the Sigil 6 symbol on it. Yes, the group has matching rings. Items were bought and discussed and they spent down some of the fortunes they’ve accrued adventuring.

One thing was certain, they needed to go back and grab the lich’s soul jars their gnome friend, Dosk, picked up in looking over her scans of the tomb.

They went through a portal that took them directly to Port Nyanzaru and could feel the weight of the Death Curse was gone. The city was even more vital and full of energy now that death wasn’t hijacked.

There were more folk from the country and jungle in the city, people of different dressed and different makes of weapons and heraldry. It turned out that someone named Daacad was uniting the tribes to fight off the undead plague and some of Daacad’s folk were in the port to demand the Merchant Princes did their fair part to make Chult better.

Jusko had given their Ranger Guide, Tefnek some gold to purchase him an apartment. She got him an apartment made from a grounded ship, staked down on a black sand beach just outside the city. Jusko surfed and Tefnek suggested he stay and settle down but Jusko refused (I didn’t quite say, “Drew, do you want to retire this character?” but I came close).

The group got saddles on their pterodactyls and we ended a bit early there. We had some players missing and decided to start the journey back to Omu with more people at hand.

Drew:

Bugwump and Kuru discussing the merits and flaws of deliberately provoking interdimensional tears in the fabric of spacetime — as our opening scene — was pretty damn entertaining.

Trundle being interested in bringing back Omu to Chult was cool too — Trundle as a chosen of the gods trying to seek a solution involving gods, fun. Also the Incredible Hulk themesong for Trundle the Roadcursed was fun.

Anthony constantly CONSTANTLY brainstorming plans, side grifts, fallback plans, opportunities.. someone get him a job managing disasters somewhere, his brain is shockingly good at engineering solutions out of the detritus around him.

“Judd, did you engineer this bad guy or is he from some supplement?”

“Basically, what I did, was put a Demilch into an Iron Golem. Pretty simple.”

Bees bioengineer new queens. Whoa.

Bugwump hates flying, “I find this method of conveyance appalling.”

I kinda liked that the ship-apartment was the old Styx Boys boat. And that I got the old Slav out onto the water to get some night surfing in. Maybe the matchmakers will work some miracles. I thought about retiring him, but I think walking out on the S6 when they’re being hunted — plus having no idea what I’d play next — makes that hard right now.

Next Game: Into the jungle.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated, Session 3 – The Missing Mentor

Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated, Session 3 – The Missing Mentor

After more than a month away from the game, we eased back in, looking into a cold case, their mentor is missing.

The Lamordian House of Lords debated changing penal law so that any found guilty of a felony could have their body offered to science to better our understanding of the natural laws (inspired by the Bas Lag’s books’ ReMade).

Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated

Dungeons & Dragons

Weird Science,

Crime,

& Gothic fantasy!

Ripped from the 
pages of
Van Richten’s Guide to
Ravenloft

With Art by Storn A. Cook

Viktor and Talis dig into their unfinished caseload - a missing person and a burglary.

What became of their mentor, Mathias Vimmer?

Who burgled the University's hallowed laboratories?

Who hunts the streets of Ludendorf?
Private Eye but the eye is an eye.

Started the session on Warlock Cliff, a cliff-face just outside of Ludendorf where magic doesn’t work. When I started to describe it, Jeff and Storn jumped in, offering further details – fog coming in from the sea and a lighthouse below the cliffs, throwing light through that fog – a bell on a dinghy from somewhere in the waves. Good stuff.

They spoke with their mentors nemesis, Emil Enh, a corrupt constable who was arrested and thrown onto a prison hulk. The old villain was sick, with a bone-rattling chest cough and wanted them to take him into custody so he could help them look for their old mentor, Mathias Vimmer (our Commissioner Gordon).

They got 3 cases – a murder case involving a university student, a casefile from a man named Adam, who was currently serving on a Prison Hulk for Breaking and Entering, Assault and Illegal Possession of a Firearm and a missing person case about a young woman named Elise, who had been arrested in the past for thievery and body-snatching.

There was a fun series of scenes where the crew was trying to gain access to the Inspector General’s safe, the current Inspector General didn’t know it was there. We found ourselves butting heads with D&D a bit (more on this later).

In the end, they got some important files from cases Mathias was keeping, along with a pistol and knife from the war and a picture of his ex-husband.

Ravenloft Lore Icon (raven on a skull)

Viktor tracked down Dr. Lukas Kronecker who teaches (I hesitated, not sure what subject he taught and Storn said, “Pantheons Beyond the Borders.”) Mythography, allowing me to drop some St. Ezra lore.

It turned out, the ex-husband didn’t know anything and was bereft that he didn’t know where Mathias had gone. Viktor told him that they found a picture of them together in Mathias’ safe. When he left, Viktor could hear the Mythographer crying.

Talis took the pistol and knife to a Vistani woman, who could, at this point, only say that Mathias was not anywhere in Lamordia alive and if he was dead, his spirit was not restless. She would work to look beyond the borders but that would take time and resources.

DeKalb, the Tiefling from their last case, was out of work because of things they did. He was hired by the Kranev Investigative Guild and would be an administrative aide and added muscle when needed.

D&D 5e doesn’t seem to be helping us much in our goal of playing an investigative gothic fantasy buddy crime story. We’re discussing other options.

The End, with human/bat skeleton, wings fanned out.

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This Week’s Play-to-Play Games

This Week’s Play-to-Play Games

If you would like to join me at Star Playing and pay-to-play, here’s what I’m offering in the coming 7 days, links below the pics.

https://startplaying.games/adventure/cl7h00yse000309mcexnq0523
https://startplaying.games/adventure/cl7h00hx5001g09mnattr3u8t
https://startplaying.games/adventure/cl7h05bil000b09l4h8t6czfi

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Planescape Tweener Planning Session

Planescape Tweener Planning Session

In which the Sigil 6 return to Sigil, do research, ask questions and make a plan.

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

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

With their powers and resources dwindling, they ran like hell from the Tomb that Walks. It did not follow them into Sigil.

After weeks of brutal battle, it was lovely to take a moment and breathe a bit. Kuru visited the Head Administrative Clerk of Sigil, a subtle Hobbit lady who Kuru knows is Sigil’s Spymaster.

She gave him access to intercepted arcane messages sent between liches and their thoughts on Aborak. Established:

Liches are selfish jerks.

They are fascinated with Aborak and think the demilich likes being a bounty hunter in the depths of what is left of their dark soul.

Aborak’s Iron Golem has delayed blast fireball gems on its chest.

Demiliches can’t cast spells and Aborak has to pay necromancers and liches to gate around. The Lich-Queen often barters with them, trading lost Silver Swords and runaways for money. The Githyanki Lich-Queen is the Tomb that Walks’ bank.

NOTE/OATH: If we don’t have a heist on the city of Tu’narath, I’ll have considered this campaign and my entire gaming career a net loss.

They asked their Gnomish Artificer friend, Dosk, questions about demiliches but she didn’t have much to give them but their questions made her go back and look over her scans she took in Chult under the Lost City of Omu. She pointed out to them that there were clearly lich-soul-jars (trying to get away from the term, phylactery in support of fellow Jews who detest its use in this manner).

They are returning to Chult to grab them.

Their Drider handler, Quarace, is going to head to the Radiant Citadel to set up shop so the Outlands Expedition Teams and the Shieldbearers can talk shop and trade techniques.

The Sigil 6
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel
Session 1: Cool Ass Title

Failed Soldier met up with a necromancer corpseflea called Failed Lich, who mentioned that his name didn’t seem to encompass his actions and Failed Soldier (Flodier for short) gave a humble answer.

Then they met up with the Corpseflea Librarian who was meeting with a Harlequin-garbed Corpseflea Bard who suggested their species should hold their lore in poetry and song. The Librarian also suggested that Failed Soldier’s name didn’t seem to encompass them.

“I want something about guiding souls to where they belong, helping them on their way…I’m not sure.”

“What about Shepherd?”

I think Failed Soldier has a new name…

Jusko feasted the Holy Order of Ioun and asked the holy eldritch knights who ride tenser’s discs, to watch out for the Sigil 6’s friends and family. We said cool shit about how adventuring comrades become friends and then something like family and then something more than family. It was good shit.

They are going back to Chult, apparently Jusko has an apartment there. Then we’re off to the Radiant Citadel.

Next Game:

PIC: Acererak's green gem eyes looking over the Lost City of Omu

TEXT: The Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge
Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Gloomwrought: City of Midnight, Session 4, LOOK UPON ABORAZ AND DESPAIR!

Gloomwrought: City of Midnight, Session 4, LOOK UPON ABORAZ AND DESPAIR!

The usual Gloomwrought: City of Midnight title card, session 4 but with the text in obnoxious red in a glitch-font - LOOK UPON ABORAZ AND DESPAIR
Gloomwrought: City of Midnight / Session 3 / The Second Wave

In which the Sigil 6 survive their first encounter with Aboraz, the Living Tomb, the Skull that Walks.

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

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Aboraz landed, crushing the stone beneath his feet. He taunted the Sigil 6 in ALL CAPS. The party hated him.

I made some Aboraz houserules. Aboraz slowly imposes Lair status on any battlefield where he strides. I rolled a d6 for his 3 main Lair actions and he’d get access to those lair access when they came up.

We use the bingo chips from our XP Bingo Board as Inspiration. Helewynn and Trundle blew through a ton of inspiration avoiding the Demilich’s Howl, which would have taken them to 0 hit points. So, they were standing but were terrified of the next Howl, not knowing I had rolled and the power had failed to re-charge.

Without any rests, they were diminished and had fewer powers to choose from. When Aboraz Life Drained those in melee with him and the Iron Golem he is encased in, he healed himself of the damage they had managed to do for the first few rounds. Morale was not high.

Bugwump threatened to break the Staff of the Forgotten One, which might have very well destroyed everyone, including the Tomb that Walks. Aboraz was willing to bargain, “CHOOSE WHO AMONGST YOU WILL STAY AND DIE. THE REST MAY LEAVE WHILE I COLLECT MY BOUNTY ON YOUR COMRADE.” They didn’t go for that. Bugwump Dimension Door’ed out, trying to bring Jusko with him but the stubborn old fighter refused to leave just yet.

Trundle used his newfound power from the God of Gates and Portals to grant his comrades increased movement and they ran for it after Failed Soldier kept folks up with a healing spell. Aboraz’s Iron Golem tried to grapple Jusko but rolled a 1 and so they all got away.

I checked in, making sure it was a villain they loved to hate and not just a villain they hated for real. Everyone was having fun. Cool, cool. We’ll start from the guarded gate back to Sigil next week.

DM’s Notes: I’m glad that fight is over. Y’know, I think waves upon waves of enemies is what I’m supposed to be doing for every 5e combat. Oy.

Next Game: I have no idea.

Drew’s comments:

Other highlights: Petty wizard digs between Bugwump and the mechalich: “Something something and your aesthetically unappealing golem chasis.” ML: “AESTHETICALLY UNAPPEALING, YOU HAVE HURT MY FEELINGS. IT IS ALL YOU WILL HURT.”

Judd’s portrayal was amazing – Like a robot luchador moonlighting as a carnival barker. Super irritating, and funny.

Bugwumps signature black hole failed – oh shiz!

The backchannel chatroom: “Someone text Jesse NOOOWWWWWW”

Hellewynn was dropping damage in the 20s tonight, holy crap. Always give the barbarian the lightsaber, folks.

The fact this thing brings lair actions to every party is a problem.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Iron Lich Situation

The Iron Lich Situation

I spend time on the DM’s Academy Subreddit and lots of folks ask questions about how to start a game. This is very much inspired by the Situation model I learned through Burning Wheel and was also championed on the Alexandrian in his blog post, Don’t Prep Plots.

Here’s one take on it.

The skull of the Iron Lich with a dead star's light in their eye sockets. 

As created on Midjourney with the terms: skull of the iron lich in the style of raymond Swanland + ornate + highly detailed + concept art

Tell the players what the game is going to be about.

You’ve all learned that the Iron Lich is trying to take over the world with their manufacturing tombs.

Ask them to make characters who are bound to that plot.

I was the apprentice of the Iron Lich when they were mortal.

I’m a paladin who is sworn to destroy all undead.

I’m an elf ranger sent by the queen so the Iron Lich’s manufacturing tombs don’t destroy the forest.

During character creation, ask questions. Make shit up together. Write down names. The DM role is important during character creation. Help the players flesh out their characters and use this as an opportunity to flesh out the world. I am very open to learning about the world at this point and want player ideas about the part of the world where their character comes from and how the Iron Lich damaged that community. Through character creation I want to grow the antagonist and the world the antagonist threatens. There will still be plenty of blank space on the map and mysteries to learn in play.

I’m not precious about timelines or vague ideas about the Iron Lich. I don’t want to get rid of the main concept, “Industrialized Undead Wizard,” and don’t want to play in a tone that doesn’t work for me. If a player makes a Halfling named Dildo Haggus, I’m going to speak up and say that joke characters don’t fit. But as above, if my ideas about the Iron Lich said that they became a Lich three thousand years ago, I’m going to re-think that because having a wizard who was the Iron Lich’s apprentice when they were mortal is just so damned cool. If the Iron Lich being three thousand years old is key to the concept, maybe talk to the player about having a character who had been tossed outside of time in a void prison and just got out.

Once the characters are made give them a few choices that seem interesting to you. I like to do this the week before we play, so I have time to prep and daydream.

Do you all want to look into the devil-lich’s mountain lair where the Iron Necromancer became the Iron Lich or scout out the manufacturing tombs where caravans have gone missing or look into the duke’s counselor who is said to be a necromancer?

There’s no WRONG answer but sure, clocks will be ticking and things will change based on their choices. Also, maybe they have another idea or the first adventure becomes very clear during character creation. That is cool. Give yourself some time to prep but don’t over-prep.

The examples above were written quickly but looking them over, they feel like different kinds of adventures. The Devil-Lich’s Lair feels like a dungeon crawl. The Manufacturing Tombs is more stealthy and sneaky but also a bit dungeon crawlish. The duke’s counselor is very political, rooting out spies and cultists in the duke’s court. Each one would mean fleshing out a different part of the world.

Nothing about any of this is original. I don’t get an eff about originality. The game will become something original once out friends interact with all this stuff when we come together at the table.

I put together the tools I’ve worked on here in the past few years in a Medium article. If you liked this, you might like those articles too.

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