Who are the Sigil 6 and what are they up to?

Who are the Sigil 6 and what are they up to?

Real World Origin Story

When the pandemic had just begun my friend got the flu. We had no idea if he had covid or what that might mean. As everything closed down, I called him and asked if he needed me to grab something from the pharmacy or the grocery store and leave it on his front steps. He said, “No, I’ve got that covered. Could you run a game online?”

“Damn right I can.”

That was more than two years ago and we’re still going. We played Trophy Gold for a while and had an amazing time. Then we started with Five Torches Deep and eventually settled into D&D 5e. Character descriptions and links to our AP blog posts are below.

The Sigil 6: Outlands Expedition Team
Made with assets from Thomas Novosel's patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thomasno?fan_landing=true
and Feral Indie Studio's amazing products: https://feral-indie-studios.itch.io/

Made with assets from Thomas Novosel’s patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thomasno?fan_landing=true
and Feral Indie Studio’s amazing products: https://feral-indie-studios.itch.io/

Who are they?

Most of the team met when the Lady of Pain sentenced them into the Maze, a kind of otherworld prison sideways to Sigil. The group was in there for 15 years until the Lady of Pain pulled them out and asked them to serve Sigil as an Outlands Expedition Team, defending imbalances in the Outlands. The team is ambivalent about their mysterious and otherworldly patron.

Logo, Outlands Expedition Team / Deputized by The Lady of Pain / Clerk Ward, Sigil

Jusko Hajek

A human fighter sent to the Maze for banditry and murdering his squire; he was guilty as charged. Nowadays he’s a glorious jumble of honor, bravery and love for his friends.

DM’s Notes: Hajek was the family name of Drew’s character in our old Burning Wheel game; it is a nice tip of the hat. The Hajek family is burning there in the background.

Some of my favorite of Drew’s decisions is when he uses Hajek to highlight the greatness of the other characters.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Bugwump

Bugwump is a crotchety, frog-kin wizard. When the campaign began, it seemed like he had been put into the Maze for petty reasons but then John mentioned that Bugwump had been an Arch-mage with an eye towards deity-hood and conquest who had his powers stripped when he was sent Maze-ward. It was suggested to Bugwump that perhaps he is only a clone of the powerful Arch-Mage he remembers and that thought still haunts him.

DM’s Notes: Whenever we meet a famous wizard or lich I ask John if Bugwump knew this person when he was an Arch-Mage. As mentioned in a previous blog post, this arch-magery is a gift.

John does cool stuff in making Bugwump’s magic very amphibian and unique through his descriptions.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Trundle

A Dwarf Ranger who makes arcane carvings out of wood, eschewing his stone and iron heritage. The Holdfast where he was raised was besieged by Abyssal forces, a detail I haven’t delved into nearly enough. Trundle took up the holy symbol of a Dwarven priest of portals and became a Mist-Walker while in Barovia.

DM’s Notes: Trundle isn’t a power-house in combat but Teo boxes clever with him and he often pulls out the wild card that ends up saving the team.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Kuru

A Halfling Rogue (Arcane Trickster) who took the fall for a heist gone wrong. Sometimes Kuru has lots of heart and other times he ends a problem with a ruthless backstab before it can escalate. The town where he was raised was a kind of ninja-enclave.

While in Barovia Kuru earned the nickname, Kuru Heartbreaker, after destroying Strahd’s crystal heart artifact with a Wand of Lightning Bolts.

Spirit Costume meme with pic of actor who played Bilbo, in costume, double flipping off the camera.

TEXT: Kuru
Wand of Lightning Bolts
A Wild-ass plan that just might work
Ball bearings
Something that EXPLODES

DM’s Notes: In every group there’s that one character who will jump on a dragon’s head to try to get at the dangerous beast’s eyes. Kuru is that character; Anthony is that player.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Helewynn

Helewynn joined the group later, an elf (Eldadrin) Barbarian who serves a moon goddess. She has her own strong ideas about honor. Her rage in combat will become stuff of legend and her comrades benefit from her totemic Wolf powers. While in Ravenloft, Helewynn became a werewolf, an honored caste of soldier among the Moon Goddess’ people. The werewolves, wolves and dire wolves of Barovia refer to her as the Queen of the Moon. Helewynn delivered the fatal strike against Strahd.

DM’s Notes: B is new to D&D and makes great outside-the-box combat decisions that are always interesting and fun. When I ask B a question about Helewynn’s thoughts on a topic, the response is always delightful.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Shepherd

Corpseflea (from Five Torches Deep: Origins) Grave Cleric who has left the body of a dead thief deity and is currently inahbiting the body of a flesh golem made by an angel in Ravenloft (shit got complicated and strange). Failed Soldier Shepherd has taken his desire to usher souls to their destinations when they have died. The Corpseflea has helped refugees from a dead world mourn the death of their home. Failed Soldier Shepherd inhabited the body of a dead God of Thieves from a dying world, giving the Sigil 6 access to the Godroads; now he inhabits a flesh golem made for him by the lost angel of the Morninglord in Ravenloft.

DM’s Notes: All of these characters are delightful surprising thanks to the wonderful player choices but Shepherd is a particularly odd one. Not only because he’s a mote of consciousness who can inhabit corpses but because J players them with complicated soul.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

What has the Sigil 6 been up to?

Book I: Starting in Sigil

In which we get our feet under us in the Outlands…

Revisiting Planescape

The adventures in the Outlands were supposed to ripple out into the rest of the planes of reality.

Tables for the Outlands

I don’t think of the tables as Random Encounter Tables but as Inspirational Encounter Tables.

Back in Sigil

“How do you say last rite’s over a world?”
“Maybe the same way we’d say good-bye to a dear friend…”

Not Random but Inspirational

Why did I roll these encounters? There weren’t any fights.

Feuding Gods in the Portal City of Xaos

I wrote down Water, Chaos of Limbo, Feuding Deities.

The Godroads

A few years ago I wrote some notes in a notebook about the Godroads.

Sigil with Rule of 3 Rings
Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Book II: Even Death May Die

In which the Sigil 6 travels to Chult because someone broke death.

Even Death May Die
Tomb of Annihilation as played by the Thursday Night Delving Club
made like a movie poster

Chultan Skies

They are flying on pterodactyls…

Bugwump’s Gift to the D.M.

I know that adventurers (particularly, bards) dating monsters is a kind of RPG-twitter cliche. Tonight it made a dangerous and interesting totally unbalanced encounter even more interesting.

Landing in the Lost City of Omu

Jusko was worried about the letter of introduction Vandrilla Shadowmantle gave them to give to the Red Wizards, worried they might get Rosencrantz-&-Guildenstern’d.

Wizards, Derring-do and a Legendary T-Rex

Trundle and Kuru ended up on the Queen of Feather’s head…

Robbing Yuan-ti and Contemplating Magicide.

In which Yuan-ti are robbed and multiple magicide is discussed.

Identity and the Tomb

“Who are we? Are we people who crawl into our allies’ camp and slit their throats while they sleep?”

Hit-and-Run Finale

I forgot lots of stuff in the room that would’ve made he fight harder. It was still fun, still felt epic.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Book III: Killing Strahd

In which the Sigil 6 enter a demi-planar prison to kill a legendary parasite.

Prelude in Sigil

Trundle got into the spirit of things, wearing a Devil mask and doing a public carving celebrating their last adventure…

Questions Before Curse of Strahd

Helewyn – How do you (or your Goddess) feel about lycanthropes who change shape with the full moon?

Session I Welcome to Barovia

In which the team arrives in Ravenloft and the Siege of Ravenwatch begins…

Session II Battle of Ravenwatch

Kuru, being followed by Strahd, throws a fake amulet in another direction so he can get to Jusko and turn invisible. Deception with Dex bonus; Strahd falls for the sleight of hand.

Session III Wolves and Souls

In which the Outlands Expedition Team heads to the village of Barovia and is tested by a pack of wolves.

Session IV Ghosts & Bones

Trundle, when he entered the inn, offered a prayer against fiends (his chosen enemy) in Infernal. Just a nice bit of color that I loved.

Session V – I fucked up numbering; there is no Episode V. 

Session VI Enter the Amber Temple

In which the Amber Temple is entered

Session VII Dark Gifts

Chester suggested they head back to Darkon and take over. “Azalin Rex is gone; the domain is in chaos. A group like you could wreak bloody havoc and own that place.” The Team nixed this idea.

Session VIII New Wolves & Old Friends

In which we see Werewolf politics, exit plans, scouting the Mist and Chultan pterodactyls in Barovia…

Session IX The Execution of Kiril Stoyanovich

In which a werewolf is beheaded, a sword is lit and a plan is tossed aside.

Session X The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

In which Jusko leads a team of strangers whose lives have been brutally damaged by Strahd 

Session XI Plans within Plans and the Broken Angel

In which the team starts to plan and make plans within plans and meet the broken angel known as the The Prophet…

Session XII Blood and Philosophy in the Abbey of St. Markovia

We are picturing it like the helicopter approach in the beginning of Predator.

Session XIII The Ballad of Kuru Heartbreaker

The Heart Tower was my favorite encounter that I ran pretty close to as-written.

Session XIV The Death of Strahd

In which the Sigil Six ends of the Curse of Strahd slaying the legendary vampire through sorcery, steel and cunning.

Spending the Ravenloft Fortune

I did not feel like going through the treasure in Castle Ravenloft and tallying it up…

Session XV Loose Ends and Lost Gods

Rahadin and the remaining vampires left the Domain. None are sure where they went.

Books from Castle Ravenloft’s Library

This tome was compiled by Strahd over the years, keeping track of Gloomwrought, through the reports of his messengers.

Curse of Strahd Awards

To hand out to players once the adventure is finished.

Why is Strahd a good villain?

Know that strahd died screaming in daylight.

Curse of Strahd as played by the Thursday Night Delving Club (Friendship, Laughter, Adventure)
Big moon behind a castle with bats flying...
Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Book IV: All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought

In which the Sigil 6 walk across the Shadowfell towards the City of Midnight.

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought
In which the Sigil 6 walk through the Shadowfell

Encounters, Faction and a Map

Or as Trundle said, “We’ve done enough work for the Lady of Pain; let’s walk through the Planes a while and take our time getting back to Sigil.”

S1 Knights and Elves

They got to a bridge from the mists, over a bottomless shadow chasm, leading into the Shadowfell. 

S2 The Zombie Mob

In which the Sigil Six cross the Dread Bridge, Helewynn is given a gift by the Shadar Kai and 300 or so zombies block their path through a deserted valley.

S3 “What would the best version of yourselves do?”

I put them in an unwinnable situation and they shook their heads and said, “Fuck that.”

S4 Somewhere Between Lord Soth and the Moon

“Don’t do anything stupid unless I come running down the hill. If I do, bring all of the stupid.”

S5 Recruit Villagers, Scouting Ahead and Evading a Dragon

In which the Sigil Six recruit the villagers, scout ahead and meet a dragon in the skies.

S6 The Three Who Are One

I grabbed a Skull Lord from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and a Zombie Clot from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. They are fun monsters and it was a fun, challenging fight.

The Three Who Are One
3 skulls melded together

S7 On the Salt Road

Kuru started a conversation with the Shadar Kai riders about their strategies in fighting a dragon.

“We run.”

S8 Bounty Hunters

Three things happened that turned the tide of the battle…

Moments in Actual Play

In which we look at a few moments and decisions in the game, considering the techniques at hand.

S9 The Old Githyanki Gate

Are the players interested in this job? Does it sound fun? Are the characters interested in this job? We talked it over and folks were interested.

S10 The Drow Job Prep

In which Kuru finds trouble in a Drow kitchen and the Sigil 6 prepares for the job.

S11 The Execution of the Drow Job

In which blood is spilled at a spirited Doors of Fate gaming table and Kuru disappears with an Aboleth.

S12 Back in Sigil

In which the Sigil 6 get Kuru back, make a Wish and get back to Sigil.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

0 Sigil 6 Questions

At this point, I really hope we take it to 20th level. I’d love to be able to get that Gamer Merit Badge. More than 30 years playing these games and I’ve never taken a D&D game from 1st to 20th. I think we’ve go the momentum to do it and hope the scheduling holds up and we get there together.

1 Acorn Problem in Bytopia

The players didn’t come out with their realization that Divast was in fact, Garl Glittergold in illusory disguise until the last minutes of the game. When Helewynn offered him half a muffin, he called it, “an offering,” a slip that Jusko noticed. Failed Soldier had a piece of Gnome-tech from Dosk, allowing him to see the spirits of the dead. During one of Divast’s many (many) temper tantrums, he seemed to be talking to a spirit of the dead and throwing them away. Why would he be doing that?

S2: A Balanced Deal with a Heaping Side of Lore

They brokered a deal between the Druids and Garl, despite the god of the Gnomes trying his damnedest to get them to slaughter them all.

S3: The Vampire, the Lich and the Raven Queen

It was an odd night and I might’ve not managed the spotlight as well as I might’ve.

Imbalances in the Outlands with Rule of 3 circles, Key and Sword and Sigil 6 symbol
Sigil 6 Subject Divider

S1 Locate Object

In which the Sigil 6 track down Strahd’s second-in-command, who got away from them in Barovia; she is now a crimelord in Gloomwrought.

S2 Killing Rahadin

In which the Sigil 6 kill Rahadin and most of her vampire gang that has terrorized the streets of Gloomwrought since Strahd’s curse was lifted.

S3 The Second Wave

In which the Sigil 6 loot the vault of the late vampire gang, kill the last surviving vampire, stuff 2 vampire spawn accountants in a bag of holding and face Innistradi Vampire Assassins.

S4 LOOK UPON ABORAZ AND DESPAIR!

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

https://githyankidiaspora.com/2022/08/18/planescape-tweener-planning-session/

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

S1 Return to Chult

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.

S2 “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

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

S3 The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

“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.”

S4 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.

S5 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.

S6 Beheading Acererak

In which the Sigil 6 used a Wish to avoid Death and then beheaded Acererak.

1 Plans and Deals

In which the Sigil 6 decide to venture into the Shadowfell once more, this time in order to destroy Acererak forever.

2 The Knife, the Jar and the Eye

In which the Sigil 6 find Acererak’s Soul Jar, hidden near the Eye of Vecna – also Lord Soth gains power and a gaggle of necromancers gain the resources they need to make wealth management plans so they can start thinking about saving for their retirement.

3 Just South of the Cairn Hills

In which the Sigil 6 get to the Free city of Greyhawk and purchase a flying carpet to head to the swamps south of the Cairn Hills.

4 Dragonslayers & Lich-destroyers

In which the Sigil 6 slay a Black Dragon and dissolve Acererak’s Soul Jar in the dragon’s acidic drool.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

What else?

What is an Outlands Expedition Team?

What is the Bingo XP Variant that the Thursday Night Delving Club uses?

Sigil 6 Questions – Why D&D 5e and more…

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Tomb of Annihilation – Hit and Run Finale

Tomb of Annihilation – Hit and Run Finale

Tomb of Annihilation cover by me.

Who are Jusko, Bugwump, Trundle, Kuru, Helewynn and Failed Soldier?

  • The team shamed the Red Wizards into dealing with every other puzzle room. They dealt with a room with anti-gravity and a whirling death fan. Two of the Red Wizards died and when the anti-gravity ended it rained death down on their friends. Kuru the Halfling Rogue subtly mage-handed the magic items on the dead wizards; it was a good haul.

  • Having smart NPCs handle 2 of the puzzle rooms was a fun way to speed it up. I made some rolls on their behalf to see how they did. My disdain of some parts of this adventure were made known to my friends.

  • Then they jumped into the room with the Godling and the Soulmonger, the engine that Acererak was using to make his own death god. The Soulmonger was held up by Adamantine struts. Cut down one strut and the engine falls into the lava below. I secretly hoped that Jusko’s vorpal sword would cut down a strut.

  • They dog-piled the Godling. I forgot lots of stuff in the room that would’ve made he fight harder. It was still fun, still felt epic.

  • Before they entered the final room, Trundle the Dwarf Ranger did the math on the nearest Godroad; it was a hundred yards from the opening of the dungeon back the way they came.

  • While everyone else was killing the Demi-Lich’s Godling, Trundle was poking around the balconies and found a portal to an altar. And there was a doorway to a Godroad. They had an exit plan. Nice work.

  • At one point Bugwump the Frog-kin Wizard made a HUGE Arcana check on the Godling and realized that Acererak would arrive within a few rounds of them killing it due to a spell on it. I rolled a d4 when the Godling died. 3 rounds.

  • Jusko the Human Fighter, Helewyn the Elf Barbarian and Failed Soldier the Corpse-flea Grave Cleric were doing their best on the struts but not having much luck. Then Jusko talked to his word and beseeched it to do its old head-lopping job (what Drew said was way cooler). Nat 20. Boo-ya.

  • They ran out the fading door to the Godroads just as Acererak arrived, screaming in frustration. – mission accomplished.

  • They earned a boatload of levels on the Bingo Board. 7 levels to be divvied up among the party.

  • We’ll do some fun downtime during Sigil’s carnivale/Mardi Gras-style mask party holiday. I’m going to make up funky carousing rules based on what mask they choose to wear.

  • Then we’re off to the Demi-Plane of Dread, where a neighboring Outlands Expedition Team went on a mission and went missing.

Outlands Expedition Team, Deputized by the Lady of Pain, Clerk Ward, Sigil

In honor of those vorpal blade 20’s that come right when you need them, you deserve a Talk Sh!t; Roll Crits t-shirt.

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/talk-sh-t-roll-crits-d20-edition

Tomb of Annihilation: Identity and the Tomb

  • After stealing the last of the puzzle-cubes from the Yuan-ti, the players had to decide if they were going to kill the Red Wizards in their sleep while their spells were depleted.

  • The discussion took about 40 minutes and was really interesting. Jusko said something interesting: “Who are we? Are we people who crawl into our allies’ camp and slit their throats while they sleep?”

  • Drew (who players Jusko) did something cool and prompted everyone to step out of character and also discuss this purely on the terms of what would be fun. That is a veteran-gamer move right there.

  • I added that they could make this decision based on what their characters would do, based on the strategic advantages of having 4 Red Wizards and their 20 guards on their side and the general fun of who will betray who first.

    In the end, they decided not to attack the wizards and continue this frenemyship.

  • Jusko gave Mykal, the leader of the Zhentarim thugs employed by the Red Wizards a small fortune in gold to switch sides when the time was right in exchange for not only the gold but safe passage out of Omu.

    Mykal, leader of the Red Wizards’ thugs, let them know that no one can figure out how the team got in and out of the Yuan-ti nest. The Red Wizards think Bugwump might be Arch-Mage Bugwump and is hiding his power levels from them. Jusko made an Insight Check to see if she would keep to her word. “Probably…”

  • The group marched up the main boulevard towards the tomb entrance on the northern cliff-face. Kuru and Trundle (Rogue and Ranger) scouted it out and saw the Queen of Feathers dragging some kind of beast westward. Kuru used an illusion of a wounded pterodactyl to send the Legendary T-Rex northward to flush out any enemies who might be in their path.

    Trundle marked the hidden kobold cave entrances in case the wizards need to target them in the future.

  • The Queen of Feathers was driven away by kobolds. A kobold in a wooden Acererak mask spoke to her in draconic; having tried killing kobolds in the past and finding them too difficult an effort for the scant meat, she headed westward.

    Queen of Feathers eating the Thursday Delving Club logo

    The kobold in the mask told the approaching adventurers that they should be honored to die in the Great Acererak’s tomb, where their bones will surely turn to dust as the ages spin by. Bugwump destroyed the kobold with a spell.

  • They made their way through the True Door and into the Tomb. I cut the dungeon WAY back, using only one final level. They solved the Trial of the Triangle by accident, surrounding the blocked lever they had to switch to open one of the five locks on the door and forming a triangle.

  • I hate puzzles but enjoy seeing this posse interact with it all. one level will be more than enough. They know that Acererak’s godling and soulmonger engine fueling its birth is on the other side.

  • No levels this week but they are close to getting bingo on a few different axes.

Check out this design, made for the group who played the above game but good for anyone who wants to celebrate any fantasy role-playing games being played on Thursday nights, and more in the TTRPG collection…

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games

Tomb of Annihilation: Robbing Yuan-ti and Contemplating Multiple Magicide

In which Yuan-ti are robbed and multiple magicide is discussed.

Omu: The Lost City
  • The Yuan-ti have the last pieces of the cubes needed to open the door to the tomb. The Red Wizards of Thay were throwing Fireballs and such as a distraction while the team sneaked in.

  • After some discussion, the team decided to use their access to the Godroads, as there is a fell shrine in the Yuan-ti compound. They found themselves in a serpent cathedral in the middle of their fort.

  • They had several choices for exits out of the cathedral and they chose the hallway to the throne room. The guard was sleeping, as was the Yuan-ti leader. Stealth rolls were rolled and made.

  • Kuru the Hobbit thief, covered in mud spread on his face in Conan-and-company-invade-the-serpent-cult-orgy-style, mage-handed the cubes to his comrade, Jusko after looking closely for traps (I should have asked HOW he was looking for traps; I’ll ask more before hitting the dice next time). He also took the sleeping Yuan-ti leader’s gladius-style short sword, which turned out to be a flame-brand.

    War Paint Conan Action Figure
  • The team spread out across the room while Kuru used Mage Hand. Bugwump climbed up the wall above the door. When the yuan-ti knocked to tell their leader about the attack and no one answered, they were too scared to knock again. The team got out without any blood spilled – a flawless heist.

  • The Red Wizards met them afterwards and were shocked to find them entirely unharmed. None of the Red Wizards saw them go in. They were unnerved but low on spells.

  • During the week I wrote a dream for each character with questions. Some of the players responded in the comments, others responded verbally before the game. Bugwump had dreamed about his Arch-mage self, before his power had been taken away by the Lady of Pain. His Arch-mage self gave him advice but he couldn’t remember what it was.

    As the Red Wizards flew away, I asked John if Arch-mage Bugwump would have told him to always kill rival wizards after they had been in a big battle and spent their spell slots – he agreed that was the kind of advice his old Arch-mage self would have given along with, “Never trust wizards.”

  • They discussed murdering the Red Wizards. After an Insight check, they think one might switch sides if offered but they are not sure. That one knows they are from Sigil.

  • Bugwump the Frog-kin Wizard got to 4th level (using the Bingo XP Variant).

    Next week we’ll start with them sitting around the fire, discussing whether or not to murder the Red Wizards before opening the locked door to the Tomb.

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/thursday-night-delving-club

Wizards, derring-do and a legendary Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tomb of Annihilation continues…

After last game, we began this game in the midst of combat. The following things happened in no particular order:

  • Trundle and Kuru ended up on the Queen of Feather’s head, trying to hit the sword embedded in her skull but missing. Still, leaping on a T-rex’s skull is cool.

  • The Queen of Feathers bit Failed Soldier nearly to death but spit him out because she was wounded, he tasted funny and Kuru hit her in the face with pepper spices.

  • Trundle ran into an old Tabaxi hunter, praying to the Cat Lord before letting arrows fly. Trundles whispered, offering the support of the Omuan deity in his head.

  • The Red Wizards let loose some vicious spells; they are formidable.

  • Jusko saved his doomed pterodactyl and named it Mishka. It was touching af.

  • The blade in the legendary T-Rex, the Queen of Feather’s skull was dislodged – turns out it was a +3 vorpal longsword (snicker-snack, mofo’s!) made for human pets kept by giants during the ancient wars between the giants and dragons.

  • They know that Red Wizards are here to grab either the young god Acererak is growing or the battery he’s using to grow it.

  • The Red Wizards do not know about the party’s access to the Godroads. They are keeping it as their hidden ace.

  • The Queen of Feathers side-stepped through reality to gain access to a wall she should have not been able to climb with her natural gifts. She wandered northward after taking a grievous headwound.

  • Jusko was frustrated by the whole mess and suggested the Red Wizards relocate to a nearby pillar of earth that he thought was easier to defend than their camp. They agreed and moved.

  • Failed Soldier, Corpseflea Grave Cleric and Trundle, Dwarf Ranger, both leveled up.

  • Next game – the Red Wizards will toss up a series of distractions while the party sneaks into the Night Snake’s Fane to get the key-cubes the Yuan-ti have in hand.

Used the Insight rules as Jusko took stock of the Red Wizards as they ate their first good meal in a long while.

5e enemies have LOTS of hit points. Dag. Still, they put a hurt on the Queen of Feathers.

Next session will start with another bang, looking forward to it.

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/dinosaur-racing

Landing in the Lost City of Omu

After 4 sessions in Tomb of Annihilation adventure, the players landed their pterodactyls in the Lost City of Omu. 1 session was getting to Port Nyanzaru, another couple of sessions shopping and dinosaur racing in the city and another flying pterodactyls across Chult.

This is our second session have switching over to 5e. The party just got to 3rd level.

  • They decided to land on a pillar of land above the lava, hoping that the lack of easy access would keep them safe.

    Their Gnome-inventor friend, Dosk, is setting up her equipment to see if she can figure out exactly where the Soulmonger is pulling the ghosts.

  • “I am going to use the Gem of True Seeing to make sure no invisible wizards fly in and sneak up on us,” Kuru said, right before a pair of Red Wizards tried to fly in invisible and take stock of them. Contact was made and the group was invited to the Red Wizards’ wreckage of a camp.

  • Jusko was worried about the letter of introduction Vandrilla Shadowmantle gave them to give to the Red Wizards, worried they might get Rosencrantz-&-Guildenstern’d.

    Kuru removed the wax seal and Bugwump read the letter in ancient Mulhandori. It was legit, no coded kill-orders.

  • They split the party – Failed Soldier (Corpseflea Cleric of the Grave) and Trundle (Dwarven Ranger) looked into the Godroad entrance near the shrine to an ancient Omu God while Jusko (Human Fighter) and Bugwump (Frog-kin Wizard) took Pterodactyls to make contact with the Red Wizards.

  • Kuru remained at camp with the guides and the remaining steeds, using his spyglass to keep track of things.

  • The camp was a mess, having just survived a Yuan-ti attack. Bugwump corrected their assessment of the Yuan-ti as “snake people” repeatedly. Jusko invited the Red Wizards to dinner at their place that night.

  • Failed Soldier and Trundle looked at the local Godroads, making contact with an ancient Omuan deity who Trundle took into his flesh for the power of Invisibility.

    They could see the other shrines to the other Omuan deities and some fell shrines in a temple complex that would turn out to be run by the Yuan-ti.

  • On their way home, Jusko and Bugwump are hit by a flurry of arrows from Yuan-ti scouts who were watching their approach. The archers targeted their pterodactyls, killing one.

    Jusko and Bugwump wade in and drive 3 of the 5 scouts away with spell and steel.

  • Kuru sees something moving towards Jusko and Bugwump from the north of the city.

    The Queen of Feathers, a legendary t-rex with a beautiful ridge of black and blue feathers, attracted to the sounds of dying pterodactyls is making her way south. It has a sword stuck in it skull, flesh and bone healed over it, from someone who tried to kill her and failed.

  • Next game will begin with Yuan-ti, Red Wizards, Queen of Feathers and a few new faces colliding as Trundle and Failed Soldier enter the fray from a nearby shrine-door from the Godroads.

The amount of hit points things have in 5e is shocking to me after months of 5 Torches Deep. I’m wondering if an E5 hack would be the way to go. I’ll give 5e a go for a while.

I think I got distracted by the combat and maybe didn’t split up the spotlight time as well as I should’ve. Something to watch out for in the future.

Using the Bingo Style Experience Points, we started the game writing up the outer ring of the Bingo Board. Bingo chips can be taken off the board to be used as Inspiration.

The covered squares from this session are: Discovered Secret Lore, Earned the Trust of a Wondrous Ally, Added a New Detail to the Map, Built a Bridge (relations with the Red Wizards).

After reading over the full Tomb of the Nine Gods, I’m trimming that dungeon way, way back. More on that later…

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games

See this design and more in the Tabletop Role-playing Game Collection…

Bugwump’s Gift to the D.M.

SPOILER! We are playing Tomb of Annihilation and this post will spoil some secrets concerning the Heart of Ubtao encounter. If that doesn’t matter to you – READ ON. If you want to play that module and don’t want to know the secrets behind it, maybe come back to this later.

Silver Sword Subject Divider

My friend, John, is playing Bugwump – a frog-kin wizard.

The team’s back-story is that they were all sentenced to the Maze by the Lady of Pain; I didn’t choose that but it seemed to gel everyone together and gave them a timeless period where they were all together. Now they are deputized by the Lady of Pain as an Outlands Expedition Team.

John mentioned that before the Lady of Pain sentenced him, he had been a powerful wizard, high-level (as the D&D folks say). So, when they met an Arch-Mage on the Godroads, it occurred to me to ask John if Bugwump knew this guy and he did. It was a cool encounter – reminded me of running into an old college buddy on a day when you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. Suddenly, a strange moment – encountering an Arch-Mage on the Godroads – became very relatable.

Enter this odd encounter in the Tomb of Annihilation – The Heart of Ubtao.

The Heart is this magically floating mote of earth, about the size of 3 cottages. Valindra Shadomantle is there, an agent working for the Red Wizards. Though a powerful necromancer, she isn’t a Red Wizard herself. The big secret is that she is a lich.

As I read the encounter, I realized Bugwump might know her. The Arch-mage on the Godroads felt like running into an old buddy from school. Valindra was going to feel like…

…holy shit, Bugwump dated her, didn’t he? I asked.

John agreed. I mentioned that when they were together she’d take consulting work from anyone. She had helped liches hide their phylacteries and trapped dungeons and lairs against intruders.

Being Bugwump’s ex gave her this realness. Bugwump was much less scrupulous in his youth. We have seen that change from when we first began the campaign.

Hasn’t everyone dated someone in college who, if they turned out to be undead, you’d say, “Yeah, that scans.”

Through stealth checks the a Gem of True-Seeing the players figured out Valindra’s lichness. Bugwump told her that they’d meet her cohort of Red Wizards and come back to figure out what to do next with whatever Acererak was up to in the Lost City of Omu. He was lying and she knew it but suddenly, it wasn’t about adventurers stealing. It was an ex saying he’d come back when he never was going to come back.

I know that adventurers (particularly, bards) dating monsters is a kind of RPG-twitter cliche. Tonight it made a dangerous and interesting totally unbalanced encounter even more interesting.

Thank you, John, for making interesting choices.

Silver Sword Subject Divider

One more interesting moment from that game. The guides were frantically saddling the pterodactyls to get off the earth mote.

Drew’s knight, Jusko, knocked on Valindra’s door. He had a game board that we called Outlands Chess – it is round and the center of the board represents Sigil. You can win by taking the other’s Wizard or by taking Sigil. Valindra won by taking both but Drew’s roll had been higher (he rolled GREAT and she rolled poorly).

He learned about her through play and I let him ask questions about her to see what the game taught him about her character. Love it.

When characters play strategy games I almost never make the die roll about winning; I make it about seeing what you can learn about the person playing.

Sometimes, though, winning is cool.

Next week…

Does our Thursday night D&D group have its own t-shirt? Yeah, we do.

Tomb of Annihilation: Chultan Skies

“Find out why this lich is breaking death on this back-water prime world.”

The group is flying south, following the souls of their first guides, found out to be Zhent spies, being sucked southward by the Soulmonger, Acererak’s creation. A gnome with tech gear allows them to track the spirits.

Activate Indiana Jones travel-red-line!

They are flying on pterodactyls, their guide is a merchant prince’s sister, Tefnek. I rolled a herd of pegasi and so she followed them to a safe valley.

“Pegasi are a safe bet; I like to follow them to find a good place to camp for the night. This valley is solid – a pack of t-rexes cover the southern entrance and some ancient ward I didn’t see on the way in must cover the north.

“In a few days we’ll reach The Heart of Ubtao, a holy site of floating earth where priests once went to have visions. It might be an auspicious place to keep tracking the path the souls are taking.”

Because the FB event needed a cover.

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/thursday-night-delving-club

Made a t-shirt for the Thursday night D&D group.