Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated, Session 1 – Motives Were Mingled

Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated, Session 1 – Motives Were Mingled

Ludendorf is a port city built around 3 hills upon which are built the university, the baron’s vacated castle – now used by city bureaucrats and constables and the cemetery, a fortress to keep out grave-robbers with a police force all its own.

PRELUDE: A whaling ship bringing in a strange haul, some kind of gargantuan humanoid with something almost squid-like for a head. “Seemed to just be waking up when our harpoons found it,” one sailor said. “Strange aeons, indeed,” another agrees, “Not sure if we are going to get much oil out of this chtonic beast.” Newspaper headlines in the Ludendorf Gazette note that the civil strife in Neufurchtenburg is escalating. The Anarchist Slayer has claimed another victim in Ludendorf.

Link to Session 0

Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated

With Art by Storn A. Cook

Dungeons & Dragons

Weird Science,

Crime,

& Gothic fantasy!

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

Viktor von aubreker. 17th in line for the throne. Rogue & Artificer. 

Talis Arsalan. Bard. Newly arrived immigrant.

Ludendorf. Bastion of Weird Science. Frigid. Cruel. 

This is their third case with the Kranev Investigative Guild.



Their first two cases are unsolved  when the next case walks in. 



“I believe my husband is cheating on me,”
- Baroness Maja von aubreker.
https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtbyStorn?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

Getting together with old gaming friends like Jeff and Storn is just lovely. Their partner banter was amazing.

I’ve got vague ideas about how to use Perception and Investigation and Insight in ways that will make the rolls more meaningful. More on that as it marinates.

Storn has an etsy shop that is well worth checking out and book-marking if you think you might like some character-art for yourself or as a gift to a friend.

We described the office being a bit of a mess with diagrams on the walls from the other 2 unsolved cases – one concerning a theft of university property and another concerning their missing mentor. Storn suggested a bamboo screen to put over this evidence when visitors are in office.

Private Eye but the eye is an eye.

Case #0003L2 Baroness Maja von Aubrecker believes her husband, Killian Furchten, is carrying on an indiscretion. The client is hiring the Arkev Investigative Guild to find out the nature of this dalliance as the 5 year anniversary of the betrothal nears, the time when, according to Lamordian betrothal law, the couple’s holdings become fully entwined.

The tension between Baroness Mara and her cousin, Inspector Viktor, was palpable but there was also some trust that family business would be dealt with in a discreet manner.

The case’s contract was filed by Chapterhouse Ludendorf’s chamberlain, Arek Avakian.

The guild’s Ludendorf Chapterhouse is located above a sailor’s bar on the docks, owned by sailor’s wife, Rosaly, with squid-tentacle tattoos of her husband’s rare prosperous voyages. One such voyage is crossed out.

Lamordian Nobles have taken to slumming it in Ludendorf – the latest style is to done Dementlieu-style masks and stagger from one working class pub to another. This is called a Dementlieuax Pub Crawl.

The Baroness’ manservant, interviewed by Inspector Talis, taken aside under false pretenses. Niklas, said servant, suggested they look deeper into betrothal laws and rites.

Killian has been frequenting university science presentations. The moneyed classes often look to these presentations to find investment opportunities. Viktor’s social status was used to gain entry, as suggested by his sister, a university student.

The investigators made their way to the university, looking at presentations. A list of past presentations was easy enough to find. Storn asked if he noticed anything strange about the list. Good question.

If I’d had a list, I could’ve just unveiled it and left it to him but I didn’t and didn’t feel like creating one on the spot was a good use of our time or my effort. Roll Investigation. It was a solid roll. Yes, you notice that Valentia Doss is the only woman’s name on the list; she presented on Ambulatory Balance in Constructs. The university has some patriarchal bullshit at hand.

Talis and Viktor attended a presentation about the science of where skills and attributes are stored in the body. A pair of corpse-arms, acquired legally through a flesh contract, was inspired to play a haunting violin tune through electric stimulation. Does this show the fiddle-skills of the arm’s former owner or the skill to inspire such a tune through electric manipulation?

NOTE: This led to a productive discussion about the type of weird science tech that is common, getting us on the same page.

Talis followed Killian leaving a presentation with a promising post-doctoral student, Valentia Doss, who has won the esteemed honor of serving as Viktra Mordenheim’s lab assistent last semester. A Tiefling with dark blue skin and black horns under a custom stove-pipe hat was also following the couple to an apartment in an expensive part of the city. Talis paid a young lad, Peter from Oil Street, to notify his partner of his whereabouts and his wife that he’d be home late. His wife was not notified. The horned man has not noticed Talis yet.

That is where we begin next week – a cold Ludendorf street as the sun sets. A well-married noble in an apartment with a bright science academic and a devil-folk in a dark suit standing outside this apartment, staking it out as our investigators meet up down the block to discuss their next moves.

The Dread lore gathered in this session concerns a distant Domain called Dementlieu, where masquerades are the fashion.

“The circumstance on which my story rests was suggested in casual conversation. It was commenced partly as a source of amusement, and partly as an expedient for exercising any untried resources of mind. Other motives were mingled with these as the work proceeded.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Shirt? Coffee mug? Shower curtain? Check out the Goth Collection or maybe the Tabletop-Role-Playing Game Collection.

All artists’ proceeds go to amazing organizations.

Sigil 6 Questions

Sigil 6 Questions

On the Indie RPG Reading Club community, a friend private messaged me a few questions about the Thursday night Sigil 6 game and I thought the questions were so interesting I asked if I could post them here along with my answers.

Sigil 6: Outlands Expedition Team title card

Did you intend every expedition to end up at a gate town? How did you envision “keeping balance” as the core mandate?

I didn’t intend every expedition to end up in a gate town. I figured it would be all over the Outlands and beyond. I envisioned that keeping balance would be largely determined by the players making decisions through their characters and that would be problematic, which is fun. They are serving a mysterious entity called the Lady of Pain. They probably know that, while they aren’t the baddies, this is a strange way to make a living.

I also wanted to be able to turn things I was using that use D&D I.P. into DM’s Guild products when I wanted to. I thought I’d have a support PDF for the adventures I’ve played but it didn’t work out that way.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

How much time did you spend in Sigil? Was it just the denouement when factions argued over their actions?

We haven’t spent much time in Sigil – a few tweener adventures, especially as we’ve jumped into a few larger adventures through the big hardcovers (Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd). I’m probably the only one but I never liked the philosophical factions in Sigil. There is a philosophical vibe but I never mentioned the Sigil factions and the players never brought them up.

Despite that, when the characters got back to Sigil after months of in-game and out-of-game time away, it still kinda felt like home in a strange way.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

If you had to do it again, what system would you choose?

Great question. 5e is the okay-est system. My indie RPG friends who play it often sigh and say things like, “Yeah, 5e, its fine,” so often it feels like the game’s official tagline. Tell me what other system I can run with 6 enthusiastic players who show up to EVERY session every Thursday night. Librarians (public and academic), unemployed folk looking for a mid-life career change, government employee/single parents, a pharmaceutical engineer who has several bee hives for his own honey and they make time every Thursday to play this silly/amazing game. We could’ve maybe done Old School Essentials but then I wonder if I would’ve had an easy time using the mainstream adventures…maybe I would’ve pivoted to OSE adventures instead. OSE is the only other system I can think of. The Bingo XP makes it a viable game for me.

6 gamers over Zoom…I reckon I’m sticking to 5e. I also like that recently a few friends have gotten 5e gigs, so it is nice to be able to play in Ravenloft and it will be nice to see the Sigil 6 deal with the worlds in the Radiant Citadel. On one hand, I would rather support indie RPG’s than make Hasbro’s shareholders more rich. On the other hand, I don’t owe anyone shit and will play whatever my friends and I decide to play.

tl;dr I think I’d stick with 5e.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Planescape is something I’ve tried to come back to A LOT. But it’s hard because few people I play with care for it like I do. I think this OET concept could be a way to drip out the lore. All they need to know is Sigil, and we start there, spreading out to the outlands (tame) to some place like Limbo (way less tame) even to a quasi-elemental plane or something.

I also really love the concept of coming home and basically defending your actions. Feels like a mission debrief in a police procedural, except I’m envisioning green demons in togas next to gnomes, each arguing different points. In my head I want to tie THIS part to xp and advancement somehow.

https://githyankidiaspora.com/2021/05/25/outlands-expedition-team/

I’ve always been fascinated by Planescape but thought that the game promised in the boxed set is never the one I hear people talking about. I almost never hear folks talking about the Portal-Towns around the rim of the Outlands or the Outlands themselves or the way the characters’ actions rippled out through the planes. The Outlands Expedition Team is my attempt to get to that game with a strange premise.

What you are imaging, concerning the mission debrief is exactly how it goes. It has become a really fun way to celebrate other players and think about the adventures. The characters are coming up on 10th level and it feels appropriate that they are becoming adventuring rock stars now. They killed Strahd and thwarted Acererak.

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. That’d be a fun landmark to hit and I think the premise has room to evolve and mutate to get us there. I can’t wait to find out what the game looks like at that level. I am excited for every session.

Or…as some folks say, “Is it Thursday yet?”

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

Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated, Session 0 – All the Pieces Matter

Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated, Session 0 – All the Pieces Matter

Skull and bones header
Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated

A new thrilling crime tale
from the casefiles of
Talis and Viktor!

the Arcane
side by side w/
the alchemical!

On the cold, learnèd streets of Ludendorf

from the team that brought you Sons of Kryos!

Witness
the most
modern
applications
of


Arcane Science!
Mythography!
Alchemy!
Criminology!
Sociology!
Forensic Science!


as used
by the 
finest
Private 
Investigators

Getting together with Jeff and Storn to catch up last week was lovely. The conversation turned to gaming. Storn has been gaming regularly (Stonetop and a project he’s playtesting) and Jeff hasn’t gamed in a few years. I pitched a idea that I’ve been sitting on for a while – pair of investigators in an Investigative Guild in Ravenloft – Gothic Fantasy Horror Crime buddy-action-flick and they were in. A week later we got together to make characters and talk Session 0 stuff.

Kranev Investigative Guild

Jeff said something about being mad science-y and Storn spiked that volleyball set with an idea about one being mad science and the other being arcane magic. It was quickly apparent that Lamordia was the domain There’s 2, maybe 3 pages of material about Lamordia in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft and there’s a sweet map. That is about perfect for us.

I talked about keeping my trap shut about grand theories and ideas concerning Ravenloft’s true nature, thinking that we’d get plenty of mileage out of Lamordia before we started looking into those kinds of greater mysteries of the nature of the world around them. I tossed out the idea that maybe their first case was a murder at Strahd’s supper party but they want Strahd to be a myth to be met (or not) later. Thank goodness; I like what we ended up with much better.

Was the chapterhouse of their investigative guild a bustling and established branch or a haunted closet above a pub or a worn down mess? We went with a worn down mess; they are the only investigators and there is a House Chamberlain, Artem Aviet, missing an arm from a wound taken on the job as an investigator. On the drive home it occurred to me that Artem rides a bicycliopede to work.

Victorian bicycle from pixabay.

Starting at third level for a few reasons – it allows me to not fret about killing the characters. Also, it means they had a case or two already. Discussed options and took it a step farther, going full hit points at every level so I can really lean into the monsters and not worry much about an awkward total-party-kill.

Immediately started discussing the past cases.

Case #1: The Inspector General of the Ludendorf Constablery, Mathias Vimmer, went missing and the case is not closed.

Suspects

His Second-in-Command, now acting Inspector General Leopold Kandel, who doesn’t like them (also the brother of…more on this later)

His Ex-Husband, Lukas Kronecker, professor of biology

His daughter, Robin Vimmer – ??? who is she?

His Nemesis, unnamed as of yet, who was on a prison hulk when Mathias went missing.

Case #2: High-end burglary, using science and arcane skillsets. They got the suspects, the Shallows Gang, off. Jeff rocked out with the name and details about the gang being named for the street they prowl, where the city’s first cemetery had been but flooding kept washing away bodies. Sometimes today, floods still unearth bodies that were missed and not moved. Recent thought, the cemetery was moved so it could be better fortified against corpse-thieving anatomy professors at the local university.

Standing Stone

TEXT:
Saint Ezra in the mists. 
Standing stones like this one from a farmer's field outside of Ludendorf can 
be found all over Greater Ravenloft, depicting Saint Ezra in tasks from his 
gospels or more obscure and even heretical depictions.

The Bluetspuri War – there is a war in a faraway land. When soldiers return they have uniform scars on their heads because there is a disease in that foreign land and the medicine has to be administered through the brain cavity for some reason. The Bluetspuri War, in the craggy, surreal lands of Bluetspur, where mountains are said to be as large as gods and no one can quite agree on what the Bluetspuri are like or what makes them seem inhuman.

Why Dread Domain Detectives Illustrated? Because Storn always draws while we game (see below). Today he was taking notes but I can’t wait to see him rock out again. CLICK HERE to hire him to create art that embodies your character(s) or hire him to stuff your book with amazing art.

Talis Arsalan is Storn’s character, whose dad remarried into a Vistani Clan and runs a merchant caravan. He’s an immigrant to Lamordia and his ladyfriend, Larissa Kandel, is 8 months pregnant. She was in the war, from a military family, 95th Infantry (Ranger). Her all military family is not a fan of him about now.

We agreed Talis has a good relationship with his step-mom.

Viktor Aubrecker is Jeff’s character, is a cousin to the ruling family of Lamordia but he’s far away from any throne, 17th in line. Maybe he’ll go Rogue; maybe Artificer or some blend. His family is not happy that he let his scoundrel friends con his betrothed out of money, soiling a profitable match for the family. Rich kid turned rogue scientist – thinking about Perdido Street Station‘s Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin and his fringe-science-buddies in their warehouse apartment. Viktor’s nose is still crooked from when his father broke it. His sister is in university and they get along.

A beloved auntie knows Celia Kranev and put a word in for him. Celia hired him to get the Ludendorf Chapter House running again as a branch of her Investigative Guild.

I’m going to read up on Insight, Investigate, Perception and Persuasion – so when/if I make some changes it will be from an informed place. Discussed this and some options, confident that we’ll find houserules that work for us. Can’t wait to show them Bingo XP.

I’ve got a few half-written tables for creating cases and a few ideas on some strange jobs related to the Investigative Guild. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on audiobook is ready to roll after I’m done with War of the Worlds.

I have been daydreaming about what kind of case to write up for the first game and I think I’m going to go with classic noir trope mixed with betrothal contracts among Lamordian noblity, “I believe my husband is cheating on me and will pay you to prove it…”

Writing notes now, can’t wait.

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

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/goth-collection
Victory of Strahd, a mini-campaign for hire

Victory of Strahd, a mini-campaign for hire

Curse (with Curse Crossed out) VICTORY of Strahd
https://startplaying.games/adventure/6272025693b276b43c044e9d

You tried to kill Strahd and you failed. Now he has broken his prison and is free. Chase him across the Shadowfell, where the adventure might lead us into Gloomwrought, Sigil into the Hells or the Far Realms. We will venture beyond the Curse of Strahd and together we will find out if you can prevent the curse from becoming a plague.

Expect a player-driven fast paced chase through the planes.

Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

How Will Character Creation Happen?

Characters will be 10th level, made before the game and we will link the party together during our Session Zero in which we will outline what happened during our fictional run through Curse of Strahd. 

Pre-gens will be available.

Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

What Will the Players Need?

Web-cam and mic are necessary. A good understanding of D&D rules and mythology is preferred. Players can roll dice online or use their own dice at home. 

A burning desire to destroy Strahd is needed.

Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

What Will I Bring?

I will bring a map of the Shadowfell, factions for Gloomwrought and Sigil and a vision of Strahd as a driven villain with his own nefarious goals.  

Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

* * * Link to Game-for-Hire * * *

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/freelance-necromancer
Human/Bat Skeleton The End

Captain: OR IS IT!?!? Join Me.
OR IS IT!?!?
Join me.

Questions to ask each D&D Class

Questions to ask each D&D Class

As Apocalypse World made plain – ask provocative questions and use the answers, my friends.

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Barbarian

What piece of your homeland do you carry with you?

What do you miss most from your homeland?

What would others first notice when you Rage? What were you taught about this state by your elders?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Bard

What was the first song you can remember performing?

When did you realize the power in art, poetry and music?

When was the first time you used your art to manipulate someone?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Cleric

When did you first hear the Call from your deity?

What lessons are there to be learned from a rival deity?

When you heal someone, what do they feel when your holy power prolongs their life?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Druid

What was the first species you learned something valuable from other than your own?

What shape are you most comfortable in?

What do you fear in nature?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Fighter

Who was the first person you killed?

Who was the first person to defeat you in combat?

What childhood games were you taught that you learned were tools for teaching war later? Did that change how you felt about the game?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Monk

Who was the first shmuck you punched in the mouth?

What do you miss about monastic life?

What earthly attachment do you fear you will never be able to set aside in order to become ascend this mortal flesh?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Paladin

What line of scripture is written on your soul?

When did you have a moment of doubt about your faith?

Do you feel closer to your calling when you are healing those who are harmed or when you are shedding the blood of tyrants? What do you think that says about your own spiritual growth?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Ranger

Where were you first lost in the wilds and how did you find your way back?

What part of the natural world fills you with awe and a bit of fear?

What was the most beautiful natural phenomenon that you have ever seen?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Rogue

What was the first time you were caught stealing?

When did you sneak into a place and regret it?

Who was the first person you killed by stabbing them when they weren’t looking? How did you feel about the deed as their blood coated your blade, hands and legs?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Sorcerer

When did you first know you had arcane power in your very blood?

What part of yourself is in every spell you cast?

How did you learn to control this power?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Warlock

What powerful figure ruled your life before you swore oaths of soul and spell to your Patron?

If you were a Patron, what kind of Warlocks would you gather around you?

If you could set aside all tradition and consequences in order to offer your Patron one bit of advice, what would it be?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Wizard

When did you first realize the power and glory to be found in tomes and scrolls?

If you ascend to Arch-Magery and leave a tome of your own for future generations to learn from, what do you hope the title will be? What do you fear the title will be?

Who taught you magic and what do you remember most of their methods?

Spears Subject Divider 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Now with handy-dandy PDF under the images.

Barbarian

What piece of your homeland do you carry with you?


What do you miss most from your homeland?


What would others first notice when you Rage? What were you taught about this state by your elders?

Bard

What was the first song you can remember performing?


When did you realize the power in art, poetry and music?


When was the first time you used your art to manipulate someone?

Cleric

When did you first hear the Call from your deity?


What lessons are there to be learned from a rival deity?


When you heal someone, what do they feel when your holy power prolongs their life?

Druid

What was the first species you learned something valuable from other than your own?


What shape are you most comfortable in?


What do you fear in nature?

Fighter

Who was the first person you killed?


Who was the first person to defeat you in combat?


What childhood games were you taught that you learned were tools for teaching war later? Did that change how you felt about the game?

Monk

Who was the first shmuck you punched in the mouth?


What do you miss about monastic life?


What earthly attachment do you fear you will never be able to set aside in order to become ascend this mortal flesh?
Paladin

What line of scripture is written on your soul?


When did you have a moment of doubt about your faith?


Do you feel closer to your calling when you are healing those who are harmed or when you are shedding the blood of tyrants? What do you think that says about your own spiritual growth?

Ranger

Where were you first lost in the wilds and how did you find your way back?


What part of the natural world fills you with awe and a bit of fear?


What was the most beautiful natural phenomenon that you have ever seen?

Rogue

What was the first time you were caught stealing?


When did you sneak into a place and regret it?


Who was the first person you killed by stabbing them when they weren’t looking? How did you feel about the deed as their blood coated your blade, hands and legs?

Sorcerer

When did you first know you had arcane power in your very blood?


What part of yourself is in every spell you cast?


How did you learn to control this power?

Warlock

What powerful figure ruled your life before you swore oaths of soul and spell to your Patron?


If you were a Patron, what kind of Warlocks would you gather around you?


If you could set aside all tradition and consequences in order to offer your Patron one bit of advice, what would it be?

Wizard

When did you first realize the power and glory to be found in tomes and scrolls?


If you ascend to Arch-Magery and leave a tome of your own for future generations to learn from, what do you hope the title will be? What do you fear the title will be?


Who taught you magic and what do you remember most of their methods?

These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 12, Back in Sigil

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 12, Back in Sigil

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 1s: Back in Sigil

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

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

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
  • Kuru was mind-controlled by an aboleth, The Dweller in the Lightless Abyss. The Halfling Arcane Trickster failed EVERY roll to escape the control. He told the ancient cthonic beast that his friends had killed Strahd, so the Dweller sent him back, still mind-controlled, “Tell them you broke free and I will send instructions soon.”

  • Meanwhile the rest of the Sigil 6 cut a deal with the Drow Inquisitor, which is to say, she’d walk them out of the city and they wouldn’t kill her. They found Kuru and got to getting the Shadowfell-stranded villagers through the Old Githyanki Gate to Sigil.

  • They quickly realized something was up with Kuru. Trundle wrestled his Luck Blade away from him, so the aboleth wouldn’t have the Wish. Kuru went all Gollum on them and ran away. Trundle used the wish to free his friend. The Luck Blade is now just a blade but they are going to keep it as a trophy.

    When Kuru got free of the mind-control, his player described him falling over in relief. He had a brief, strange interaction with the Lady of Pain, who I always narrate without words, just gestures that communicate plenty.

  • The team journeyed with the villagers to Jusko’s abandoned ancestral home and handed it off to them, “You will owe me rent after 20 years but if I die, the land goes to all of you.” Bugwump sent the apprentices he was teaching the Fire Bolt cantrip to Wizard College on his own dime. Fun.

  • Post adventure community tribunals are a fun way to go over the adventure. Killing Strahd was a big one and so, rather than meet in a plaza, they gathered in a public amphitheater. Bugwump lost his composure, raising his voice and turning an aggressive shade of purple when folks tried out some moral relativism concerning, “Was it right to kill Strahd?” The wizard is now on a committee to help discern when exactly someone is a monster.

    It was fun to get everyone’s take on the past months of gaming. It felt like returning after a long mission away. Jusko took Tefnek, their ranger-friend from Chult and Quarace, their Drider city-agent, aside and offered them coin, letting them know that their efforts saved the lives of the Sigil 6 and they were members of the group now. After Jusko’s disdain for their previous agent it is an interesting change of pace.

  • For the record, Helewynn spent her time in Sigil eating delicious food, which we had decided was tasteless in the Shadowfell. We all agree Sigil cuisine would be exquisite. Helewynn’s player is going away on an exciting trip for a time, so we’re going to take on a different mission before heading to Gloomwrought to deal with Rahadin.

DM’s Notes: Felt like we put lots of threads to rest in satisfying ways. In a way this was the session when Curse of Strahd really felt over.

Next Game: ???

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 11, The Execution of the Drow Job

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 11: The Execution of the Drow Job
All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 11: 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.

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

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
  • From the start this kind of felt like a Blades in the Dark job. Jusko’s player made it feel even moreso by suggesting that they lure the target Matron Mother they had to kill to a poker game. What? Love it.

    We bought in and pivoted. The players at the table were an Aboleth in a containment tank (yes, inspired by the Guild-fish from Lynch’s Dune) named the Dweller in the Lightless Abyss. I quickly looked up Lich names and saw with Harthoon, Ambassador to Orcus. Decided the local Drow Inquisitor was a gambler too and so Jaelryn, High Inquisitor of Embrae was born. And of course the target, Matron Mother Hloima of House DeVir and her consort, Guldor (all from this page of Drow names).

  • We talked about the game we’d play for a while and came up with Doors of Fate, a tiles game where each tile was a door and the palaces those doors were in were like the suits. Rules changed if you had actually been to the palace in question.

  • The Dweller in the Lightless Abyss was the only one who noticed Kuru was cheating, trying to give more hands to the Matron to cause a fight at the table. After some telepathic banter, Kuru tried to explain fun and having a good time through a game to the ancient and cthonic psionic beast. It did not understand, so it mind controlled Kuru. They tried to break the psionic grip but couldn’t do it.

  • When the fight eventually broke out, it was the lich, throwing a Disintegrate spell at the Matron’s consort, which he dodged with a Nat 20. After that, shit got real. The Lich threw a Cloudkill in the room. The Matron tried to open a gate but Bugwump dispelled it. I described the gate starting to open, the Matron’s soldiers and assassins ready to jump through when Bugwump cast the Dispell, lashing the gate with their tongue and swallowing it.

  • The Dweller in the Lightless Abyss mind-controlled the Matron’s consort, who opened a Dimension Door for the Aboleth to escape through. Kuru went with them through the door, trying to stay and finish the mission with his friends but failing another Wisdom save. The Lich had Dimension Door’ed out, calling the whole lot of these living folk dicks and saying the game had sucked (I used the Rich Lich from the Monsters of the City supplement).

  • After a brutal amount of damage, the Matron went down and the demonic spider-tank she had summoned was Banished, against by Bugwump (MVP of the game).

    In the end, it was only the Inquisitor and the group, looking through the sickly green Cloudkill gas at one another. Kuru had gone through a Dimension Door with the Dweller in the Lightless Abyss, under the creature’s mind control.

    “Let’s talk,” Bugwump said.

DM’s Notes: The Drow Matron Mother from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is one bad mamba-jamba. Dag.

Running lots of high level NPC’s is rough but not impossible, having good book examples and DnD Beyond open for quick spell look-ups.

I like that the game we made up was called Doors of Fate and so much of this fight was the opening and closing of dimensional and arcane doors. Will All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought? Will they even go to Gloomwrought at all?

Next Game: A tough conversation with the High Inquisitor of Embrae after assassinating a Matron Mother right in front of her.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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What am I listening to on April 19, 2022?

Third Floor Wars interviews Karen Twelves and Sean Nittner, talking about improv in gaming (including the new book on Gamefound) and more…

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Hirelings

Hirelings

These are hirelings I have made for our Trophy Gold game but are clearly useable for whatever medium you use for pretending to delve into demon-haunted ruins for “the gold and experience,” as China Miéville said.

Whenever I asked questions about the characters I realized that for me almost all of the answers were YES but I’m sure you’ll have your own answers and your own questions.

Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Will I ever put together a fictional duo with names as good as Chatwyn & Sprunt? I doubt it. The search terms that got me there are hazy, maybe 15th century British surnames? I saw Sprunt and knew right away that was the name for our guy with the spiked mace. Chatwyn followed suit.

	Among Treasure-Hunters, this duo has a well-earned reputation for being reliable and near-impossible to rattle, even in the midst of the horrors the ancient forest can vomit forth.
	Their views on weakness are harsh. If any of the Treasure Hunters should hit 5 Ruin the duo will seek out (and sometimes even dsicuss) ways to leave them behind or push them more fully to their doom.
	"Doom's edge turns folk desperate and desperate folk is dangerous to those around them."
	Lovers or Comrades? Survivors of a failed revolution or the last servants of a dead noble house? None know. What is known is that for the right price they will venture into the Old Kalduhr with you.
	Some say the only thing that could break them is having to decide what to do if one of them should reach doom's edge.
	Burden 4 because they will never agree to be separated.

Chatwyn
Poisons
Hunting
	Assassin's 
	Blowgun
	12 Iron 
	Spikes

Sprunt
Rituals 
Destruction
	Spiked Morningstar
	Tent (2 person)
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Aksil is who got hired in our Friday game and I like them very much. Their name came from doing some searching on Berber names from Morocco.

AKSIL THE SPEAR

	Aksil ventured across the continent to see the legendary forest that felled the Kalduhri Empire, having heard stories from their mother, whose witch-tutor had told her tales of the Old Kalduhr.  
	In the fort, Aksil is friendly, boisterous and full of good humor. Once in the forest, Aksil is quiet and often veiled, not wanting to draw the forest's attention.
	As they have grown older, their dreams of opening a tea shop and some day returning home are dimming. they are worried that too many of the forest's demons have tasted their blood and that if they should perish here their soul will never make the long journey back to their ancestors in the Sea of Bone before the Forest claims them.
	
Aksil
Perception
Tactics
	Spear
	Tea Pot &
	3 cups

	Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

One of the many problems with grabbing art from the British Library’s flickr account is finding cool warrior women. I had this image saved for a long time and decided they could fight in skirts when I saw an image illustrating what girding one’s loins meant back in the old days. The names were taken from Lithuanian villages, an homage to my mother’s side of the family.

	The Rubis Sisters escaped the forest village where they were born before they could be sacrificed to a demonic forest spirit, now they venture into the forest on their own terms as hirelings, never delving together so that the forest demon who they escaped from will be less likely to pick up their scent.
	When danger looms, they gird their skirts and take out the ancestral daggers brought from their homes. They are guarded by defense wards worn around their necks.
	How many Rubis Sisters are there? Is Rubis their family name or the name of their village?
	It is whispered that when they have stockpiled enough weapons and saved enough gold they will return to the village that tried to sacrifice them and make sure that never happens again.
Skills? Roll or choose from Trophy Gold's second page.
	Village Dagger
	Necklace Wards

	Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Dhea was made by cutting and pasting a witch about to be burned onto the armored body of one of her captors. The name Dhea came from nowhere. I wonder if she’ll be burned or lead a new religion or find some other path.

	Dhea only recently arrived at Fort Durhin. Her fame is oddly growing because she put up posters, made from cut-outs from wanted posters and the Governor's Proclamations, advertising her services to Treasure-Hunters looking for a hireling.
	She is called The Living Sister because a small but growing following of laborers and beggars say she has worked miracles among the sick and the destitute and has strange tattoos of antlers that peak out from the edges of her garb. It is only a matter of time before someone comes looking for a Witch to either burn on a pyre or recruit for a cult.
	Plants
	Vigilance
		Halbred
		Breastplate
		Helm

		Burden 3
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

This is another pic I had been sitting on for a while. He almost seemed too put together for Fort Duhrin but I decided that was part of his strangeness.

     Is Olde Prince an awakened Kalduhri monarch, born during the empire's golden age? Is this enigmantic and odd creature a mannekin construct with a mask woven from Kalduhri arcane science and ancient faery glammers? Or are they just a strange old man in a suit of armor and tattered leopard-skin cape who loves Kalduhri poetry and seeking treasure in demon-haunted broken places?
	You will likely find the Olde Prince sitting somewhere quiet and isolated in Fort Duhrin, humming a strange tune with a smile as if they are enjoying a joke only they know. If you ask him why he is going into the forest covered in iron armor but with no weapon he'll likely say something like, "Well, then, we will have to find a treasure I can swing at a monster first thing..."

					Flattery
					Lore
						Full Harness (counts as 4 pieces of armor!)
						Book of Ancient Kalduhri Poetry

						Burden: 5
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

I wrote about Piye and broke my own damned heart. If you use these NPC’s in your games and Piye gets home, please let me know. I found his name in a list of ancient Kushite monarchs.

	Piye bankrolled a merchant caravan of epic scope. He charted a dangerous and ambitious path. His caravan would trek across the Sea of Bone's oasis-forts. He pushed on to the golden city of Ambaret and from there through the strange borderlands towns. Finally, the caravan arrived at the strangest of bordertown of all -  Fort Duhrin. The original plan was to do all of this and return having made a fortune. 
	It was a gamble but his cousins, siblings and children signed on as guards, scouts, and drovers. Bandits, beasts, disease, and worse plagued them. Piye lost this gamble and now needs to send what remains of his family back home in as safe a manner as possible.
	If you hire him, he will get what treasure he can and send some family home before setting out into the forest again. But if during the delve you gain his trust, he will tell you that for 10 coin, he will fund another caravan and show you the finest delves across the entire wondrous world. If you pledge to fund this caravan his Ruin will go to 4, even if you are lying.
	Paths
	Deals
		Summon & ward 		Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

When we played I only had Chatwyn and Sprunt, the Rubis Sisters and Aksil. The rest will be in town if the players should survive their first delve to return to Fort Duhrin. I am rooting for them but the forest and the fort seem determined to devour them and their dreams. If you meet any of these NPC’s in your games, please let me know how their fates turn out.

Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Here they are without text in case you want to add in your own backstories or stat-blocks. If you use them I’d love to hear about it.

A stag in black in white with fire in its eyes and a flame floating between its antlers, its light reflecting off the stag's antlers and head.

Felt like a fitting way to end this article.
The End
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All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 10, The Drow Job Prep

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 10, The Drow Job Prep

0All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 10: The Drow Job Prep

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

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

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  • Quick game tonight, had to cut it short to get a few professional things done but still, a fun session.

  • Kuru’s player was missing last week so he came in and found out about the team getting involved in assassinating a Drow Matron’s rival Matron. He decided he wanted to know more about the political landscape and everyone goes through the kitchen. One failed Charisma roll later (drawing inspiration from Burning Wheel’s Circles roll) and he had a shadow-sword to his throat, having found a Shadowblade Assassin undercover in the gate-fort’s kitchen.

    Trundle caught the assassin trying to get through the gate back into the Drow city of Eambra. He prayed to the God of Gates and I asked for a Wisdom check. 20. Okay, but let’s make it a low-key miracle. The assassin ran into a group of courtiers just on the other side of the gate, giving Trundle a shot at him. He grappled the Shadowblade and held him down until Failed Soldier could drag them both through the gate, back into the Shadowfell. The assassin Shadow Stepped away but the gate-fort’s guards caught him just outside the walls.

  • Had fun with the Drow thinking Kuru was a child and not a Hobbit/Halfling/whatever. As the Matron said, “My grandmother always said it was good luck to have a Halfling in the kitchen. I thought she was being superstitious but I guess she was right.”

  • We’re figuring out how the group wants to jump on this assassination. I’m looking at a Blades in the Dark technique, where we start in the midst of the job, roll some dice to see how it is going and get after it, rather than sit for hours of planning. We’ll get to it next week.

Next Game:

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