Curse of Strahd, Session X, The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

Curse of Strahd, Session X, The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

Curse of Strahd

In which Jusko leads a team of strangers whose lives have been brutally damaged by Strahd into the crypts under Ravenloft in order to rescue Aldjo’s wife.

Session X, The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

Who is Jusko?

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  • 2 players were missing, which is rare for this group, so we had Jusko run into a group of level 3 strangers. Gotta say, D&D Beyond made it easy to make up characters to hand out.

    Lady Baleron, self-made Paladin, is Tatyanna Re-born, vaguely remembering her many lives in this prison.

    Istebin, Monk, last of the Ulmist Inquisitors, who has died trying to kill Strahd countless times and can barely remember his homeland.

    Gadaar, Druid, branded and tongueless for betraying his evil Druidic Order, realizing that this world is not right and needs fixing.

  • Had a bit of a warm-up fight with some thugs from the castle. Jusko and Aldjo were there to find Aldjo’s wife but the thugs in Castle Ravenloft livery were putting up a notice that she had been arrested for sedition. I was going to make this first fight against Vampire Spawn but I didn’t want it to run that long and didn’t want to kill the entire party by accident. I was second-guessing myself a bunch tonight.

    The player characters decimated them and got to be cool and feel out these new characters. I stand by the decision.

  • I used to hand NPC roles to players whose characters weren’t involved in the scene when I played Ars Magica in college. I forgot what a delight it could be. The way the players unveiled their secrets and their presentation was amazing and they made very different choices than I did. It was a nice change of pace.

  • Jusko asked the group to a nearby hill to get out of the village and discuss their options. Lady Baleron remembered a secret entrance into the crypts, leading to Strahd’s parents’ tomb. In they went…

  • Tense dungeon-crawling and marking traps with chalk. They made their way through a secret tunnel, Jusko saved Aldjo from falling into a chute trap. They made their way into a room with an arcane teleportation device. Lady Baleron rolled so well on her Wisdom check that I said she had helped install this device. They knew how it worked and stole all of the stones.

    From the Observation Deck, down into the torture chamber and through the hall. Finally…the dungeon…

  • They could hear Strahd talking to Aldjo’s wife, Barushka. “Do you think they will come and try to save you?”

    “No, they are an Outlands Expedition Team; they’re professionals. They are gathering allies to come here and put you down.”

    “I hope so. Saving you would be so boring and predictable. I am flattered to have Sigil’s attention. We’ll see…”

    Some chatter with Emil about werewolf stuff and he turned to mist. They couldn’t see any other way for him to leave the room. I asked them what they were going to do in case he left down the hallway they were standing in.

  • Lady Baleron used Divine Sense to make sure they were clear. Usually, this would be no big deal, just a small detail but it ended up changing the adventure entirely.

    I was considering having Barushka betray the group. I knew that she and Aldjo had bonded over both having children who were lost somewhere in the Demi-Plane of Dread’s Domains. Perhaps Strahd offered to find her lost child. But if she had decided to do that, wouldn’t the Paladin notice the evil? I didn’t mention that Barushka was evil.

    Or is Barushka not evil until she actually DOES it?

    I decided that it wasn’t cool to penalize Lady Baleron for playing smart and looking around for undead and evil. Barushak considered it but at the last instant, she decided not to do it.

    Maybe it is more interesting that she was tempted and didn’t do it. We’ll see.

    Despite the lack of a final twist, it was a fun, tense night.

  • Having freed the imprisoned werewolf, Emil, they made their way out of the crypts. Lady Baleron, Aldjo and Barushka used the teleportation device to get to the Amber Temple and would meet up with the rest of the team later.

    Brother Estabin used Shadow Arts and they got out quietly.

  • Running big dungeons is not, nor has it ever been, my strong suit. I need to break the rest of Castle Ravenloft into bite-sized pieces so I can DM navigating it better. Still. it was a fun, tense night with lots of great rolls and players spending everything they had to keep from failing a roll that could get them found.

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More?

Prelude in Sigil

Questions Before Curse of Strahd

Episode I Welcome to Barovia

Episode II Battle of Ravenwatch

Episode III Wolves and Souls

Episode IV Ghosts & Bones

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

Episode VI Enter the Amber Temple

Episode VII Dark Gifts

Episode VIII New Wolves & Old Friends

Episode IX The Execution of Kiril Stoyanovich

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THE END
Curse of Strahd, Episode VII, Dark Gifts

Curse of Strahd, Episode VII, Dark Gifts

Curse of Strahd / Session VII / Dark Gifts

In which Dark Gifts are bestowed and a bloody decision is made about the nature of this mission and which priorities will be elevated above the others.

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

  • The Amber Golem was decimated by the group. None missed and the golem never got a shot off. It was brutal and confidence-building.

  • Vilnius, a wizard the golem was chasing, was grateful but after a solid roll Kuru and Jusko realized the wizard was evil and would betray them. Kuru back-stabbed the evil wizard with a fiery knife. Vilnius died in fire and blood.

  • Vilnius’ Quasi familiar, Chester, led them to Vilnius’ teacher’s corpose and suggested they look into the statue more carefully for secrets. They did and found a wizard within and the hilt of the Sun Sword they were seeking.

    Bugwump bound Chester as his familiar. 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.

  • The wizard’s name was Nef and told them that he was the last of the Amber Wizards who made this temple. He led them into the vaults so Helewynn could bind the spirit of a Great Wolf, a daughter of the Moon and take her Dark Gift.

  • Nef offered to send the teams out of Ravenloft through the Mists if Jusko would follow them to his family’s holdings, where they were cruelly ruling a young world. Jusko declined.

  • While Helewynn bound the wolf spirit, Trundle bound himself to a Raven Spirit, the Mist Walker. He can now walk the mists as the Vistani do.

  • Nef asked Failed Soldier if he would like to leave his murderous sin in Ravenloft and take it off his soul’s ledger. Failed Soldier elected to hold on to that sin.

  • The team has decided to kill Strahd. First they plan on finding the Mad Mage who wanders the forest and the Prophet in the north, who is said to have fallen from the Heavens. There was talk of Helewynn binding the werewolf packs to her will.

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Curse of Strahd, Session VI, Enter the Amber Temple

Curse of Strahd, Session VI, Enter the Amber Temple

Curse of Strahd / Session VI / Enter the Amber Temple

In which the Amber Temple is entered, two members of the lost team are saved from Flameskulls and a bedraggled wizard is found running from an Amber Golem…

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

  • The vaulted chamber of the temple had a statue of a wizard whose face was shrouded in darkness and (inspired by DragnaCarta’s Curse of Strahd Reloaded) it asked those who entered to leave a secret or something holy at the feet of the statue. That prompted cool shit from the players.

    Jusko whispered, “I belong here,” while pressing his family signet ring into some wax on the statue. EEK.

    Failed Soldier wrote a sealed note about the sailor he killed in a previous adventure in a shrine to a storm goddess.

    Kuru tried to get by leaving a cheap coin and pretending it was holy to him but the statue was on to his bullshit.

    Trundle left one of his carvings of the world they saw born in a previous adventure.

    Helewynn left her holy symbol since the moon here seemed to be godless.

    Bugwump left a mask of himself from back when he was an arch-mage that he wore during a 1000 Faces Festival in Sigil.

  • They found the two lost members of the other team surrounded by 3 Flameskulls…

    One of the Flameskulls unleashed its fireball, doing some healthy damage but all in all, the 3 were dispatched without too much trouble. The other team missed in a terrible first round of to-hit rolls, prompting Jusko to fuck with them later…

  • Trundle engaged Crum, a Dwarven cleric of Portals, who wears a key holy symbol. I rolled to see how informed he was on getting in and out of Ravenloft and rolled a 20. He knows shit.

  • Bugwump’s Arcana checks are off the chain since he has a magic staff from Tomb of Annihilation. They know all about Sergei’s Sunsword, the other team believes the sword is here somewhere.

  • There was some talk about just heading back to Ravenwatch and getting to the portal. I reminded folks that Kuru had cut up the portal with his magic-cutting knife and it wasn’t a sure thing that it was working.

  • Helewynn hasn’t seen moonlight since being bitten by the werewolf. When she does, we’ll make some rolls and see what happens.

    Chekov’s werewolf bite…

  • Failed Soldier gave Lem the Nine Gods Orchid he picked for her from the previous adventure. I said that it felt like a lifetime ago that she asked him for that but thing is, it actually does kinda feel like a lifetime ago. It was cool that we got to see that completed.

    What does Nine Gods Orchid do? I’m thinking some kind of cool tea that inspires prophetic dreams.

  • After a short rest, the team heard someone screaming for help and found a wizard with a quazit familiar running from an Amber Golem. Kuru and Trundle stealthed over and engaged; we’ll start there with everyone else rolling initiative next week.

    “Thank Vecna you folks showed up to save me,” the burned, half-starved wizard said.

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Questions before the Curse of Strahd

Questions before the Curse of Strahd

Curse of Strahd, big moon, bats, castle…you get the idea.

I like having an online community for a particular game night and/or campaign (Oy, I miss G+). One of the things I’ve been doing is asking the players questions in the week before the game. If they answer it, GREAT, I have material to inspire the game. If they don’t answer the question because they’re busy or don’t spend as much time on social media platforms, GREAT (and legit), I can ask the question during the game and get inspiration and energy during the session.

Even if I don’t ask these questions in play and the player never answers it out loud, seeing the question gets the players thinking and daydreaming about the answers and more often than not, the idea comes out in play through the players’ actions. Asking good questions is a good tool for getting the vibe of the game across.

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Jusko – Your family’s ancestral lands neighbored ancient Barovia. What was the Hajek family’s relationship to the cursed von Zarovich clan?

Jusko is a human fighter with a complicated family and a sense of honor about him that I enjoy. Clearly, his family knew Strahd’s family when he was mortal, back in the day. There have also been clear hints that the Mists are interested in Jusko as possible Darklord material.

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

Helewyn is an Eladrin Barbarian who served a moon goddess. The player’s answer was awesome and gave me clear ties to lycanthropes and their relationship to the moon.

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Kuru – What do you remember of the nomadic Vistani people who would stay for a season near the shire you where you were raised and trade with your family?

My question for Kuru, Halfling Rogue (but really, he’s an old school Thief all the way) brought out a great conversation about the depiction of the Vistani, racism against the Romany people and not wanting to punch down. It was a valuable conversation, not only for the real life implications but because it really tied Kuru to the Vistani people in a real way and allowed me to, as Apocalypse World would say, announce future badness (link to AP post about the previous session if you want to see the Future Badness in action).

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Trundle – What was Trundle’s first brush with the darker parts of the forest, where sun never penetrates the canopy and fell beasts hunt the weak?

I didn’t get an answer to Trundle’s question, so I’ll save it for the game. I might ask during play or might ask before play when we’re just getting prepped and putting our dice in order in our pre-game.

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Bugwump – What had you uncovered about the Demi-Plane of Dread when you were an Arch-Mage?

Bugwump’s character handed me a gift that I’ve written about before. The player treated Ravenloft with an appropriate amount of dread and foreboding in his answer. Even as an Arch-Mage, his character avoided the Demi-Plane of Dread. Cool stuff.

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Failed Soldier – What does your religion’s parables say about the First Vampire, Strahd, a great warrior whose fell deeds drew the attention of fell powers?

Again, Failed Soldier’s player didn’t answer, which is great, I’ll ask later. Failed Soldier (whose name is derived from the first corpse the Corpseflea character was in when the game began) is a Grave Cleric. I can’t wait to get this character to Ravenloft. I think it is going to be fun.

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Mistakes Were Made (it was fun) and more designs like this in my TTRPG Collection…

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Tier 1 Milestone Experience Point Sheet

Tier 1 Milestone Experience Point Sheet

Playing a one-on-one D&D game at home with Janaki. The Bingo XP Variant doesn’t work for 1 player, so I whipped up a milestone XP sheet that we’ll use to futz with the timing of leveling up. As we do with the Bingo board, we’ll use it to open up that discussion of what we’d like to see in game and how we’d like to see Makaris the Druid challenged.

Makaris is a Tiefling Druid returning to her birthplace, the Tiefling capital of Asmodeen. Makaris has been away from her home for a decade after a job for her criminal family went bad. During that decade was a war with the Dragonborn and the treaty ending that war has just been inked.

Tier 1 Milestone Sheet, PDF below

If you give it a go please let me know how it works for your table. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments.

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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…

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Ravenloft Domain: The Jaggard Fleet

Ravenloft Domain: The Jaggard Fleet

Listen here and come to know how Gentleman Bill Jaggard, the most polite pirate to ever sail the Summer Ocean, became a consort to a Storm Goddess, a pawn of the Mists and a wraith on the Dread Seas.

When he was living Gentleman Jaggard robbed the Summer Queen’s ships for the better part of a year from his ship, The Forbidden Folio. Her majesty put a price on his head, demanding that he be brought to her alive. The Queen wanted him alive as a courtesy for his mindful manners, as a method to enrage her jealous husband – the King, and as a centerpiece for one of her famous parties.

The King’s most leal captain was irate that he could not kill the pirate outright. Captain Robin “Puck” Goodfellow set a trap for Bill and captured him aboard the H.M.S. Merry Wanderer but could not kill him because of the Queen’s powerful magic. Instead, he took the captured pirate to a fell shrine honoring the Mother of Storms, a vicious stone statue of a mermaid as tall as a castle tower made of sharp stone and coral. The shrine was a finger of land only inhabited by vicious crabs and mocking seagulls. Captain Goodfellow put Bill in a crow’s cage hanging from the Storm Goddess’ trident. Puck spilled blood to the Mother, asking her to destroy any ships that approached to try and save the pirate.

And they tried. Pirates from every corner of the sea came to try and save Bill. Starving, dehydrated, hanging on the crow’s cage, Bill’s hope died as he watched familiar sails approach on the horizon and unnatural storms sink them one by one.

Finally, a young captain named Petra Quince, guiding his ship, the Roaring Lion, got closer than anyone had yet. Petra had been born on Bill’s ship and had come up through the pirate ranks and now had her own ship. When the Roaring Lion set anchor, an ugly laughter tried to escape Bill’s dry throat. The bloody laughter turned to agonizing sobs as a storm approached and smashed the rowboats into the Mother of Storm’s shrine, sinking the Roaring Lion under the waves.

As the crabs ate the last of his friends who had given their lives to try and save him, the Mists rolled in and Captain Jaggard’s Fleet was born. The Jaggard Fleet is made of the dead friends he watched sink trying to save him, now his undead armada.

They say he is not a gentleman no more. He likes to say that he is the Mother of Storm’s consort and often makes sacrifices to her, turning prisoners without use into chum.

There is no known way to kill Captain Jaggard or keep his fell fleet sunk. Since the Mists have adopted him he has been drawn and quartered, tossed into a Leviathan’s mouth, cut into pieces and fed to a Dragon Turtle and beheaded by a named Holy Avenger whose blade’s edge had been kissed by an angel. The only way to exorcise him and his fleet from the seas forever would be to capture him and bring him to the Queen of the Feywild.

But what crew could take and hold an undead pirate and what ship could survive the Mother of Storm’s wrath? It is said all of the elements of Jaggard’s bloody path to Ravenloft were captured by the Mists from the Mother of Storm’s fell shrine to the Puck’s Merry Wanderer. However the Summer Queen kept the Mists at Bay with her arcane might, despite her part in Jaggard’s rebirth. In order to exorcise the wraith pirate, he would have to be brought outside of Ravenloft to the Summer Court. No sailor has navigated the Domain of Dread’s seas (Sighs, Souls, Secrets, Storms, Shoals, Sorrows) into the outside world…not yet.

Until someone does, when mists roll in on ports and bloody laughter is heard by the City Watch, the Jaggard Fleet will follow, bringing death and devastation in their wake.

Captain Bill is a Wraith while his crew is a mix of Ghouls, Wights and Zombies.

Darklord: Captain Bill Jaggard

Hallmarks: Nautical Horror, Port and Island Domains

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.