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.

Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

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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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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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Reddit GM Advice: Bloodied State, Villages, Simplicity & World-Building

Reddit GM Advice: Bloodied State, Villages, Simplicity & World-Building

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

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

Maybe when a creature is at half hit points they take on a tag called Bloodied and some monsters get stronger when they are Bloodied or even gain strength from their Bloodied allies.

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Find a one page dungeon and start the game right at the dungeon’s beginning.

Find a map of a ruined castle and toss some bandits in it.

An owlbear is killing local sheep…

Just keep it simple.

Good luck!

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Sometimes it is the village the players are starting in.

Sometimes it is a phrase from an old bit of notebook scribbles: “The Tiefling Dukes, in their heyday, had 13 Witch-Towers bequeathed to them by the Devil-Tyrant.”

Sometimes I hear a friend has never fought a dragon in a game and so I make a setting with a greedy dragon family using its power to rule over a countryside so he can attempt to kick those dragons in the teeth.

Sometimes I read a book or listen to a podcast about history and that pops something off.

Start where you are passionate and have energy because when you run out of said energy, you’ll want to keep going. Don’t spend energy on anything that isn’t inspirational or useful at the table.

Good luck!

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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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More Reddit GM Advice

More Reddit GM Advice

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

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

Dagger Subject Divider

Incorporate that idea of destroying something and remaking it stronger into every aspect of the world you can.

When healers give healing, have them talk about bones re-knitting stronger.

When someone dies, instead of rest in peace, have folks say something about them returning, better made in a better world.

When blessing a new building, have the priest say something about building it better next time should it fall.

Have that theme of rebuilding first and foremost in your mind when you are making the world. When you think about the lore of a city – what was on that spot BEFORE the city – how is the city a better version of that…

Good luck!

Dagger Subject Divider

GM: You’ve got some time before things heat up again. What do you get done in that month?

Player: I’d like to fix the fighter’s broken magical sword with that magic orchid we got from that time in that place with the thing.

GM: Cool, sounds like you have everything you need. Whose forge do you use?

Player: My brother is a smith in the city, remember? I’ll use his forge.

GM: Right! I had forgotten. Y’know, there’s no skill for making things in 5e. But you have plenty of time and space. Let’s just say you do it, yeah?

Player: Sounds good.

GM: Let’s have some role-play with you, your brother and the fighter as you finish…

  1. Establish what they want to do.
  2. Decide how to do it – rolls necessary? Anything need to be gathered?
  3. Role-play a short scene to make it real and let the moment breathe.

Hope that helps! Good luck.

Dagger Subject Divider

Don’t feel like you have to write out a beginning, middle and end. You don’t have to make a publishable product (and honestly, many published products aren’t that useful at the table in play). You have to get started.

Ask the players to make characters to deal with Astral Elves coming to the Realms with an eye towards taking over. Diplomats, spies, monarch’s agents – people who will be asked to deal with this shit.

Start with a cold war, with the Astral Elves making allies and winning people over with promises that colonizers always start with. Get some ideas for a first adventure, a minor tussle or a conflict in Cormyr as the Astral Empire try to win over the Purple Dragons.

Have fun! Good luck.

Dagger 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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The Week’s DM Academy Responses

The Week’s DM Academy Responses

Reddit Icon in front of a pic of my Dice Envy rainbow dice set.

I love making inspirational tables so I can make jobs on the fly with a roll of 3d6.

Here’s an example.

The Client Needs:

1-2) Blood

3-4) Intel

5-6) An Item

The players will take this from:

  1. Local Crime Org
  2. Warlock’s Demon’s Cult
  3. Local City Guard
  4. Local Politician
  5. Foreign Power
  6. INSERT SOMETHING REALLY STRANGE

Wild Card Table

Something strange in the mix is:

  1. A Rival Demon (or Devil)
  2. Zealous Paladins
  3. Local Adventurers making a mess
  4. Local Craft Guild
  5. Cult from the countryside
  6. Local Noble

Hope that helps!

Good luck!

Spear Subject Divider

Have you heard of the saying, “Don’t prep plots, prep situations.”

Might help. Here are a few links:

Here’s a series of links where I take something and mine the situation from it called Situation Mining:

I made a brainstorming document called Context, Cool Shit and Consequences. Hope it helps your process.

Hope those links are helpful. Good luck!

Spear Subject Divider

Keeping the game moving isn’t only your responsibility. The game being fun isn’t only your responsibility.

Everyone can help to keep the game moving. Everyone needs to be helping to make the game fun.

Talk to your friends about how the arguing wasn’t fun and come up with a way together to make decisions in a way that is more fun.

Good luck! it is not all on you.

Spear Subject Divider

Don’t judge them. Ask them why they are doing that or ask what their characters are thinking but do so out of curiosity, not judging their choices.

Spear Subject Divider

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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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