Alex’s Questions

Alex’s Questions

Sigil 6
Outlands Expedition Team
https://githyankidiaspora.com/2021/10/25/thursday-night-dd-crews-characters/

Alex has some questions on his blog. Here we go.

The link under the Sigil 6 title image above is a kind of index of posts about this game if you want to know more.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
https://githyankidiaspora.com/2021/10/25/thursday-night-dd-crews-characters/

How many sessions have you been playing, more or less?

I’ve written about 41 sessions. I bet I missed about 3 but let’s just call it 41+ for the sake of argument.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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How long have you been running this campaign?

The earliest blog post is from February 5, 2021, so, a bit more than a year.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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Have you had long breaks? If so, how did you pick it up again?

We’ve missed a week or 3 here and there because of holidays or family emergency.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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How many people are at the table when you play?

Me and 6 friends over Zoom.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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How many characters are in the party when you play?

That is a great question. The team, The Sigil 6, definitely adopts folks. A ranger, who was their guide through the jungles of Chult and taught them how to fly pterodactyls is seen as part of the family. The wizard has taken on an apprentice recently. The posse can be anywhere from 6 to 10 or so at times when NPC’s join up. In Barovia they had a whole other team, affectionately called the B-Team.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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How many players have you had in total over that time period, not counting guest appearances?

Just the core 6 and me.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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Have you had guest appearances? How did it go? Did you gain regular players that way?

We haven’t done that yet. I think we’d be more likely to do that if it was going on in person.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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What have the character levels been over time?

We started at level 1 and now all of the characters are level 10. The Bingo XP Variant is a nice pacing mechanism (on top of a few other things).

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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What classes did the players pick? Did you add new classes over time?

We’ve got a Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger/Cleric, Cleric, Rogue, and Wizard.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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Tell me about some adventures you ran over that time that I might enjoy hearing about?

Here are some unanswered questions about them:

Is Bugwump who he thinks he is or is he a clone of the arch-mage he remembers being?

Will Failed Soldier, the Corpseflea learn about the origins of his people in the Radiant Citadel? Will Helewynn gain a reputation even more famous than Slayer of Strahd?

Will Jusko Hajek reconcile with his family or be forced to destroy them?

Whatever happened to Trundle’s mountain home that was at war with demons?

Will Kuru retire to raise goats or will his impulsiveness get him killed?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
https://githyankidiaspora.com/2021/10/25/thursday-night-dd-crews-characters/

Have the rule changes over that time? Do you maintain a house-rules document?

I definitely propose house-rules and we all agree on them. We should make a house-rules doc; that would help keep track of things.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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Has the setting changed over time?¹

I think their understanding of the setting has deepened and that has changed the meaning of certain things – if that makes sense. They are certainly well known now.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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How much in-game distance did the party cover, how big is the area they have visited?

It is a planar-game, very much inspired by my memories of the Planescape boxed set, set in Sigil, so wide areas are covered through gates and such.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
https://githyankidiaspora.com/2021/10/25/thursday-night-dd-crews-characters/

Have you used proprietary setting books? Like, could you publish your campaign or would you be in trouble if you did?

It is pretty heavily steeped in D&D intellectual property. It would take some heavy filing of serial numbers to make it publishable

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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¹ Have you added cultures or regions after years of play because you read a good book? Have your players toppled governments, resettled people, or made other large scale changes to the setting – without that being the end of the campaign?

I’m sure lots of tidibits from my own reading or conversations with people in my life drip in. I definitely added a War Corvid after reading Black-Tongued Thief and some drug sales in Gloomwrought were clearly influenced by The Wire.

War Corvid
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250621191/theblacktonguethief

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Making a Well of Worlds

A player whose character is becoming a priest of portals asked how they could build a Well of Worlds.

I have guidelines for that (I finally remembered). Guidelines are also posted at the bottom of the post.

Well from the bottom

Photo by Valentin Lacoste on Unsplash
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https://unsplash.com/photos/jNSJE8dMro0

One needs a stone from each of the Portal Towns and arrange them in a circle. The well will need an element from 4 Elemental Planes. If it isn’t Earth, Air, Fire, Water as the 4, word is the Well will turn strange but others say it will be strange no matter what.

Add something from the Far Realms for spice (and distance). The Well will need a guardian bound to it so that nothing comes from the other side of it when planes are in alignment and boundaries are thin. Once you have that, you’ll have your Well of Worlds…

So you want to make a magic item?
When you want to improve upon an item, enchant a mundane item or repair an item, tell your friends at the table what you want it to do. Is there something else that does it already? Let’s keep an eye on that for inspiration.
Is making this going to change the world forever? Let’s keep on eye on that and discuss it as a group because that’s cool but let’s make sure we’re not changing the world in a way that won’t make it fun to play or making a character useless.
Someone will take up the role as the DM for this process. They’ll say, “sure, no problem but…” and suggest 1 to 4 of the following.
• It is going to take time.
• First you are going to have to X
• You are going to need X to make this happen.
• It is going to cost a dragon’s hoard of gold.
• It is going to mean exposing yourself to dangerous arcane forces that could change the character forever.
• The best you’ll be able to do will be less than optimal, it’ll have limited charges or slow or weak or unreliable.
• You are going to need a wizard’s sanctum with X.
• It is going to take many attempts to get it just right.
• You are going to have to do an arcane ritual with X to get it done.
X should be attainable through a dangerous adventure or series of adventures.

by Judd Karlman
Inspired by Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker, Meguey Baker

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Imbalances in the Outlands, Session 2, A Balanced Deal with a Heaping Side of Lore

Imbalance in the Outlands / Session 1: The Golden Hills

In which the Sigil 6 broker a deal between Garl Glittergold and the Elder Ring Druids while also digging up some intense lore concerning their patron, The Lady of Pain.

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

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Our last session ended with the group figuring out that the Gnomish cleric there to guide them was in fact Garl Glittergold. Some genius thought to ask him about the Lady of Pain and Garl spilled.

    The God of the Gnomes hemmed and hawed. Was that me role-playing or me stalling for time? I’m honestly not sure. I’ve been daydreaming a bit about the Lady of Pain but I wasn’t sure if I had enough to satisfying this crew.

    Garl told them that whatever secrets she had, he bet that she had them buried in the Maze, her inter-dimensional prison/labyrinth where the majority of the Sigil 6 wandered for 15 years. “And what’s more, I think she wants people to know her secret. She wants someone to find out. I think she puts people there who she thinks have a shot at figuring it out.”

    Jusko asked if they had seen anything, something that might hint at what is hidden there. I asked him to tell me more about what kind of things he’s looking for and he gave me enough. They realized that an area of the Maze they had avoided had a cyclopean beast of some kind imprisoned. Then Bugwump dropped this amazing line, “Of course whatever is down there is something that can diminish her. Isn’t that obvious? We keep it imprisoned by keeping balance in the planes.”

    I asked the player to roll Arcana (knowing Bugwump has ZANY bonuses to that skill), “Wait, does Bugwump know what is down there? It kinda sounds like he does.” He did; it is the last of the living Primordials, thrown down there by the Gods during the First War, held in place by the spinning of the Planes. Now they know.

    “There is a half-dead world where the gods are dead and they worship elementals. Magic is cursed and blights the land; it is a shithole. That place might have clues about this Primordial. I’m warning you. This place makes Ravenloft look like a vacation.”

    Garl suggested that if they wanted to learn deep lore, they should talk to Callarduran Smoothhands, emissary to the Deep Gnomes. “He knows secrets.”

    Failed Soldier Legend Lore’d the Golden Acorns and realized they would grow to become Angelic Treants and their roots would hold off an apocalypse for a while when they landed and sunk their roots into a dying world.

    They brokered a deal between the Druids and Garl, despite Garl trying his damnedest to get them to slaughter them all. The druids, as it turned out, are in an recently found order created by a Tree God from the party’s past, when they stopped a god feud but left the dead world’s Tree God alive. That Tree God is vengeful and its druids go into dying worlds and save whatever they can – people, art, magic, ideas, etc.

    Garl will get first pick of treasure on any world where the angelic treants grown from his golden acorns are helpful. It is a pretty damned good deal and makes the world more complicated and interesting. LOVE it.

    Did Kuru steal an acorn? Yes, he did. Rolled to see if Garl noticed. 2. Nope, he did not notice.

    Garl warned them that the Innistrad Vampires offered him a lost knife of his, lost during an ancient war with the kobolds, if he would use his illusions to send the Sigil 6 into a trap. “They want you bad, bad enough to contact and try to bribe a god.”

    DM’s Notes: Gaming with these folks is just fun, dammit.

    Next Game: Next week we’ll either do another Imbalance or head over to Gloomwrought.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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    Imbalances in the Outlands, Session 1, Acorn Problem in Bytopia

    Imbalances in the Outlands, Session 1, Acorn Problem in Bytopia

    Imbalances in the Outlands with Sigil 6 heraldry and Planescape Boxed Set Colors
    Imbalance in the Outlands / Session 1: The Golden Hills

    In which the Sigil 6 help Garl Glittergold with a druidic cult that was stealing acorns from his oak trees in the Golden Hills of Bytopia.

    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 took a week off and then I couldn’t game last week, so it was just lovely to see everyone’s faces tonight. Laughing on Thursday night with these friends is something I definitely look forward to in my week.

    We decided to do some good ole fashioned planar balancing, look the good ole days. The Sigil 6 was tasked with dealing with a situation in Bytopia (try to say Bytopia for hours to your friends without laughing; I dare you. Damned silly name) in which a druidic cult of some kind is stealing acorns from Garl Glittergold’s personal grove of angelic trees in the Golden Hills. They had a gate right to Tradergate the portal town that leads to Bytopia, Gnomish Heaven.

    When they asked their old Gnome friend, Dosk, about Garl Glittergold, I read Luke’s tweet as if she was remembering some bit of Gnomish scripture.

    Thank goodness for the Fantasy Name Generator, helping me come up with Gnomish names all night. Divast Snanjot, a Gnomish cleric leading a trusty goat-mount welcomed them at the entrance to Tradertown. The players didn’t come out with their realization that Divast was in fact, Garl Glittergold in illusory disguise until the last minutes of the game. When Helewynn offered him half a muffin, he called it, “an offering,” a slip that Jusko noticed. Failed Soldier had a piece of Gnome-tech from Dosk, allowing him to see the spirits of the dead. During one of Divast’s many (many) temper tantrums, he seemed to be talking to a spirit of the dead and throwing them away. Why would he be doing that?

    Failed Soldier has this cool habit, where he asks NPC’s what happens when they die. Divast said, “When I die, Garl Glittergold will come and ask me if I know the secret to the illusion of life and if I do not know, he will laugh and throw me into the Prime Material Planes, where I will haunt those lands forevermore. If I know, he will welcome me into the Golden Hills,” because I’ve been rewatching Conan the Barbarian scenes on youtube.

    Mental note: Kuru adored the goat steeds and there was talk of Kuru retiring as a shepherd of war-goat-steeds.

    There was a nice moment where they were setting up camp and I mentioned that this was not only a beautiful sunset over the Golden Hills but was also the first sunset they had seen in a long time. Trundle beckoning everyone to sit still for a moment and enjoy this moment was cool. Also cool, Divast giving respect to the Sigil 6 and to its most famous member, Helewynn, Slayer of Strahd.

    They tracked the druids to a battle-site, where they turned from a herd of local elk into a mammoth, bears and snakes. They killed Gaerdal Ironhand XXIII, son of Gaerdal Ironhand, Gnomish deity and general of the Gnomish armies.

    Failed Soldier’s Speak with Dead allowed them to talk to young Gaerdal XXIII, who asked if any knew what the secret of life’s illusion. Bugwump off-handedly said, “The illusion of life is that we can end suffering.”

    Holy shit, is that true? I asked Bugwump’s player to roll and he rolled well. Religion or Arcana? Could’ve been either one, we decided. The roll suggested to me that this answer was damned good but not the complete answer…perhaps, it is good enough?

    Bugwump and their Gnome escort did not get along. When Kuru asked what they were expected to do, the Cleric known as Divast Snanjot but was truly Garl Glittergold in illusory disguise, got snotty. “Well, isn’t that what the Sigil 6 are famous for? Won’t you bring us balance? Won’t you offer some of your famous outside-the-box thinking?” Bugwump lost his shit at him; it was cool to see Bugwump lose his temper but I checked in. Yeah, Garl Glittergold is an asshole and I played him as such but I don’t want the game to be an exhausting piece of an already exhausting world. I checked in and made sure everyone know they could tap out and ask me to scale this shit back.

    We ended with Jusko attempting to disbelieve Garl Glittergold’s illusion and failing to do so but Bugwump did it and the illusion faded. I half-regret asking for a roll to disbelieve. As soon as you get to that point and pick up on those little clues, maybe you should just disbelieve. Something to think on.

    DM’s Notes: Want to see my prep on twitter? Or maybe you see my prep on mastadon? Or perhaps reading about my prep on reddit is more your speed? NOTE: Players might want to avoid these links for a week or two.

    Question of the Week:

    What has your character heard about gnomes?

    or

    What experience has your character had interacting with gnomes?

    What rumors have you heard of the Blood War, in which Devils and Demons make war upon one another throughout the planes?

    Bugwump

    Gnomes are a particular delicacy on the Outer Planes. It is gnome, etc., known.

    Gnomes also have an irritating propensity to resist conquest, as Bugwump discovered in his past life.

    In fact, when Bugwump was first in the Labyrinth, he tried to ally with a gnome assassin in partial penance for his terrible treatment of the species. Sadly, the gnome remembered Bugwump all too well and tried to kill him for several months. Reluctantly, Bugwump eventually retailated and, with great regret, slew the gnome and then, with great relish, ate him.

    Bugwump knows the Blood Wars well, having tried to exploit them at one point in his grand plan to conquer the multiverse. Sadly, it just turned both factions against him.

    Jusko

    “Dziencujya, barkeep. Will have turnip stew and carrots. Feeling Gnomish today after feast last night.” Jusko thinks Gnomes and Halflings are the same, it’s just Gnomes have gone vegetarian. As soon as a Gnome eats bacon – poof – hairy feet. Magic is weird.

    “Blood war? Seems big name for thing that always is. Devils and demons exist to maim torture and violence-make, da? Don’t know why need big fancy name. Like waterfall called The Wettening. Bah!”

    Kuru

    Before Kuru joined the Sigil Six, even before he was in the labyrinth, Kuru stole the name ring of a demon lord on a job from a devil. He was paid by having his name removed from the Ledger of Acknowledgement.

    Gnomes have been largely extinct for as long as we can remember. There was a great war amongst the dwarves and the gnomes over territory long long ago and the dwarves won. Why the dwarves continue to bear grudges against a people they vanquished long ago is a mystery. It is rumored that certain races thought gnomes a great delicacy and helped the rate of their extinction.

    The Blood wars are just the machinations and playthings of great gods for their amusement. Kuru has heard rumors that the devils and demons are actually one and the same and are constantly being reborn to fight these endless pointless wars.

    Rumor has it that the devils have created a sword that can kill the demon lord and are just waiting to strike. Dimensional raids have been increasing and it said that the devils have been searching for a long lost gate. The God roads are filling with raiding parties and refugees.

    Rumor has it that a large, unidentified army is forcing the demons out of their homes. The demons are waging a desperate war to conquer the devils and try to settle there to escape.

    Another rumor is that a wedding is to take place between devils and demons to cement an alliance. The purpose is to unite them to attack Sigil where they will control the nexus of planes and replace the Lady of Pain as the true power. (DM’s Note: This one mentioned a few ideas I’ve had but in a totally different context, just a touch sideways from my own ideas. Fascinating!)

    Failed Soldier

    Gnomes? I lived in a gnome some time ago. Lots of head space, despite the smaller body. The other gnomes were polite, but I could tell they were more uncomfortable than most with my living situation. They have a certain respect for their comrades bodies that I was completely ignorant of until the elder lady got the courage to broach the subject. I shall avoid occupying a Gnome body in the future if at all possible.

    The Gnome, Dosk, on the other hand showed me that there is considerable tolerance for my kind. She knew what I was from the start, seeing my essence through her clever lenses. Even knowing my nature she jumped right to helping with that unique Gnomish curiosity and vigor.

    I have only the vaguest memories of my first homes, yet some remain clear. One of them that still creeps into my thoughts is when I took my current name. In a world torn apart by claw, hoof, and fire, my essence drifting from corpse to corpse, unable to enter the husks left behind by fallen fiends, I was nearly lost, dissipated to the void. Pushing with the last of my will over the edge of a cliff, I fell into the deepest and widest of pits, filled to overflowing with the last fallen soldiers of this dying world. Those who swore allegiance to one side of the Blood Wars or the other in grim hope of saving their homes, only to be slain to the final man, woman, and child by the fiends to feed their infernal energy. I took a body with only a moment to spare.

    Next Game: We’ll begin as they will ambush the druids at the portal from Bytopia to Tradertown with the Gnomish god’s illusion supporting their efforts.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider
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    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?”

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    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 * * *

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    Human/Bat Skeleton The End

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

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 7, On the Salt Road

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 7, On the Salt Road

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 7: On the Salt Road

    In which the Sigil 6 save a merchant caravan from a zombie mob.

    Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Failed Soldier?

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider
    • It was a slow start tonight. Jusko’s player missed last game and I had said he had a common Shadow Flu, in which one’s shadow tries to kill them. It was quickly deemed the Shadow Shits, a nickname for the sickness, turning it into a shadowy poop joke. 😛

      Jusko’s shadow asked him to go into the Mists and take over Barovia and Jusko was having NONE of it. With a few Shadar Kai War Corvid riders, they met back up with the rest of the Sigil 6. Kuru started a conversation with the Shadar Kai riders about their strategies in fighting a dragon.

      “We run.”

      “But what would you do if you saw us getting attacked?”

      “We’d help those who were running.”

      Kuru is now discussing turning a cart into a mobile ballista platform.

    • They found a magical Cudgel of St. Cuthbert, a girdle dedicated to Kord, god of Storms and Strength and a mirror with a cityscape across the border. Kuru quickly used the mirror to scry on a thief ally from Sigil and watched him play a tile game with the thief’s grandmother. Trundle took up the cudgel (+2) and the Girdle of Kord (21 Strength). I need a way to make up magic items and treasures on the fly. I got inspiration for these on this table:

      Shrines in the Outlands
    • Failed Soldier had the 3 Who Are 1’s skull, the 3 skulls of the cursed paladins, fused into one undead abomination skull. He used his shiny new spell, Legend Lore and learned that the 3 siblings gained the attention of the Shadow-God Triumvirate that made the Demi-Plane of Dread. They put a bounty on their heads and Vecna, at something called a Lich-Moot, took it up, cursing them for their hubris in hoping to bring light to the Shadowfell. The 1 skull will become 3 again if it is blessed by three angels.

      The Three Who Are one
    • I asked Helewynn how she was getting her werewolves together. She described taking the out for a run a bit ahead of the caravan and I rolled to see what there was to see and there was a merchant caravan getting attacked by a Zombie Mob.


      Shadowfell Encounters
    • Helewynn described the werewolves putting pressure on the zombies to give the almost-overwhelmed caravan guards some breathing room. I wasn’t sure what to roll for that. Drew described how he uses the D&D skills and so we asked Helewynn what her approach was and we decided Survival was the skill to use for her approach.

      The battle with the mob started off rough but Trundle shielded Failed Soldier from a rough crit, Kuru let loose with his wand of lightning bolts and Jusko came across with an attack from the back of his pterodactyl, Stupid Dragon, using a Fighter power that got the zombies’ attention and got them to concentrate their attack on him.

    • Failed Soldier looked among the caravan for undead and they quickly discovered that the guard captain was a vampire. Captain Simon was Gloomwrought-born; the caravan is heading to a Shadar-Kai citadel to the south.

      I rolled on a table in the DMG that I wasn’t wild about and got a Wand of Magic Missiles, a Ring of Water Walking, a Staff of the Adder and Pipes of Haunting. The group is deciding if they want to purchase any of their arcane stash.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    DM’s Notes: This week I posted the following in the Facebook Group: “Things in the Shadowfell are strange. What has your character noticed in this land of undead, darkness and shadow? Strange dreams? Shadows behaving strangely? Sad thoughts of home?” The players responded with the following awesome and inspirational stuff:

    I think Shadowfell trees bloom in black – fragile purple-black flowers, inkwet black leaves in summer, autumnal leaves blowing in the wind like scattering fibers of scorched mummy wraps – both particulate and weave somehow.

    Player of Jusko

    I think the autumnal imagery is a constant; despite a cycle of “growth,” the season always seems like late fall, when things are dying. But there is no winter to prepare the world for spring. Bugwump has started to notice the sameness of things: temperature, “sunlight,” the unmoving shadows with sharp edges. In fact, his own shadow has started to unnerve him, because every day it seems more separate from him.

    Player of Bugwump

    Failed Soldier’s Dreams, or the equivalent for those who do not sleep, are full of ravens cawing and looking intently at them as if to convey some truth that lies just out of reach.

    Like Bugwump, they have noticed something odd about their shadow. The bright spot in the shadow that can often be seen by those who notice things, a common telltale of a corpse flea is shifting. For Failed Soldier, this has always shown in the head of the sleeve’s shadow. They have not seen it move, but notice it from time to time in the chest, the hand, sometimes nearby, but separate from the sleeve, as if it does not know where to nest.

    The cycle of decay and rebirth is strange here in the Shadowfell. Like the town, many things are not complete. Nothing seems new, yet nothing really decays completely either.

    Player of Failed Soldier

    The Shadowfell food is bland. No matter how many spices are added to it everything ends up tasting…grey. Like shadows. Helewynn has started to eat less and less, and started to sleep a little more. Because her dreams are colored brilliant shades of red, and filled with the tastes of raw meat and iron rich blood. In the morning she turns away from whatever breakfast is offered with a wistful sigh born of half remembered phantom feasts of flesh.

    Player of Helewynn

    I need to use this good shit in game.

    Next Game: Deeper into the Shadowfell – I need to spruce up the random encounter table. I also get to lore-drop some shit that is happening in Gloomwrought that is a direct result of their actions and I can’t wait…

    Ygoni Exodus Map
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    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 6, The Three Who Are One

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 6, The Three Who Are One

    In which 5 of the Sigil 6 destroy the Three Who Are One.

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 6: The Three Who Are One

    Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Failed Soldier?

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider
    • Jusko’s player was sick (just the flu) and so when Jusko and Kuru evaded the dragon and arrived at the Dread Bridge, Jusko had the Shadow Disease, in which someone’s shadow tries to kill them. Kuru paid the bridge-warriors for some aerial support while the villagers travel. They will escort Jusko back if he should defeat the Shadow Disease.

      “It is common when Prime Material folk come to the Shadowfell. Coin flip if he defeats it or his shadow devours him…”

      Feel better, Drew!

    • Helewynn’s newly bitten werewolves divided into 3 packs and scouted the 3 castles where the Three Who Are One could have been. I had Helewynn’s player roll a Perception check, acting through her packs. It was a solid success. They knew where the undead abomination, a conglomerate undead of 3 siblings who wanted to carve a Kingdom of Heaven from the Shadowfell’s darkness.

      I grabbed a beautiful map from Dyson Logos’ site and threw it in our Jamboard. The map I chose was a Dwarven castle, so yeah, the Paladins took on a ruined Dwarven keep when they settled here. I am really enjoying giving the players the maps as often as possible. We did a little entryway planning, took our hour-into-the-session break and got to it.

    • The Three Who Are One
    • I grabbed a Skull Lord from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and a Zombie Clot from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. They are fun monsters and it was a fun, challenging fight for 5 level 8 and 9 characters.

      The Three Who Are One opened with Finger of Death and took Kuru the Halfling Rogue down to 4 hit points. That set the tone as Bugwump messed up the Three Who Are One’s plans by creating a gravity well that sucked the monsters into a hallway that the Three was going to make a kill zone.

      The players had a rough dice night. The Three bought itself a round with Mirror Image, forcing Helewynn to swing at illusions for a round. When they destroyed the Zombie Clot and had the Three Who Are One down to 2 hit points, it cast Dimension Door and got outta there.

      Failed Soldier found it with magic and they ran through (or Misty Stepped) through a Cloudkill and made their way through an Ice Storm and Trundle missed twice (the d20 was cruel to Trundle tonight) and Kuru jumped on the monster’s back and finished it.

    • As it fell, its skulls splitting into pieces, Trundle said, “We will watch over your people; you can rest now.” Failed Soldier offered a ritual to put the dead to rest. Trundle took on a Cleric level and has begun to worship a God of Portals. He is going to make his way through the keep, getting to know the place by learning about its doorways and doors. Kuru wants the magic items. We were a half hour over time to finish the fight. We’ll get to all that next game.

    DM’s Notes: That was a fun fight, and in some ways, a tougher fight than Strahd. But as we discussed after the game, not everyone was there and they charged right in and took the monster on head-on, something they worked hard to avoid with the First Vampire.

    Next Game: The village heads northward along the Salt road towards Gloomwrought, City of Midnight. We’re call it Shadowfell Oregon Trail.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 1, Knights & Elves

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 1, Knights & Elves

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 1: Knights and Elves

    In which the Sigil 6 meet a quartet of Holy Knights of the Raven Queen and pay their toll for crossing a Shadar-Kai Bridge with the Tale of the Strahd’s Slaying.

    Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Failed Soldier?

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider
    • Trundle rolled a fairly high perception roll looking at the Demi-Plane of Dread’s Mists and so he could see that they were not natural but manufactured and also malevolent.

      “Let’s take our time and get to Sigil by walking through the Shadowfell to Gloomwrought – enjoy the market there, purchase magic items with our fortune and not be on the Lady of Pain’s clock for a while…”

      Their friend, Tefnek, a Ranger from Chult, is with them. Their pterodactyls are in a cart/pen on a mule-drawn cart.

    • With the Staff of the Forgotten One, Bugwump’s Arcanna rolls are always amazing. He rolled 27 to know more about the Shadowfell and so I told him what I knew of the Despair that can infect travelers and a bit about undead being prevalent, home of the Raven Queen – blah blah blah. The roll is so high, though, I told the player I’d answer questions later as they came up.


      When Kuru heard about the Despair, he bought some joke books from the Vistani.

    • They travelled away from the Domains of Dread and towards the Shadowfell. When they were exhausted, they came upon a hill above the mists, a waypoint for travelers. Already camped there were 4 Holy Knights of the Raven Queen, know as the Raven Queen’s Consorts, they are undead hunters.


      They were very intrigued to hear that the Sigil 6 had killed the First Vampire. The quartet of holy knights, Chatham, Corax, Podum and Morpha (I went to the Raven Wikipedia page and chose words that seemed like they’d make cool names). They had been tracking Lord Soth across the Shadowfell, where he was riding with his posse, recruiting new allies.

    • Players’ Addendum (Jusko’s Player): My favorite part is that while you’re orating a tax report, and Flodier and Kuru are trying shadow puppetry to make your story seem more dynamic, Jusko is boosting Trundle to engage in some light vandalism and he’s totally into it. We’re 15 year olds with magic lasers.

      (Helewynn’s Player): “My favorite part was the entire kerfuffle that occurred after Helewynn just outright told the knights that they had killed Strahd, and then there’s 20 minutes of back and forth bickering in front of four stunned black knights who continue to feed them increasingly better food, and then Bugwump magically pukes on the black breastplate. I5 year olds with fresh tattoos and magic lasers.”

      DM’s Note: Bugwump puked on the breastplate because Bugwump’s player describes the Frog-Kin Wizard’s spellbook as being glands on his body and so his spell descriptions are often biological in some way. The vomiting was a Non-Detection spell, leading to some amazing back and forth about Frog-kin society and vomiting as a ritual act.

    • Jusko discussed having Lord Soth’s breastplate, having found it in Strahd’s castle. He admitted the breastplate seemed to want him to devour life from others. When Kuru ribbed him about having it, Jusko admitted wanting to enter Gloomwrought with an ace up his sleeve, something to barter with.

    • They got to a bridge from the mists, over a bottomless shadow chasm, leading into the Shadowfell. The bridge was fortified by towers inhabited by Shadar-Kai. The knights were to be given free crossing without paying and insisted, upon hearing from Trundle that the Sigil 6 had killed Strahd, that they told the tale.

      “How do we know you are not a Dreadlord, trying to escape?”

      “Because we are he Sigil 6 and we just killed Strahd.”

    • When they were crossing the bridge, all of the Shadar-Kai, fully cloaked and veiled, were gathered to hear the Tale of Strahd’s Slaying. Jusko told them that Helewynn had run him through and so Helewynn told the tale. Elves sworn to the Moon have some kinship to Elves born in shadow, I thought. And so, on a bridge above a bottomless chasm, a Moon Elf Barbarian told the Death of Strahd in High Elvish to Shadar-Kai.

      Helewynn told the tale and asked Jusko to show Strahd’s signet ring, which he did. An old Shadar-Kai crone approached to verify and she yelled, “TRUTH!” in her Shadowfell dialect of High Elvish to the crowd, who gasped audibly.

      DM’s Note: Let me stop for a second and say what I loved about this scene. Jusko’s player set up Helewynn’s player and Helewynn’s player set him up right back. The picking up of the signet ring was something Jusko’s player talked about doing; there was no real reason for Helewynn’s player to take notice but they did remember that detail and used it to make another character relevant in a scene. It was players awesoming up other players. To me, that is what good play is – bolstering others at the table.

      Helewynn did not roll high on the Performance roll, even with Advantage. They still believed her but in the legends to come, there would be huge misunderstandings and misrepresentations of what really happened.

    • I rolled an 8 and a 2 for the first encounter and had a 4e character who was a Raven Queen Paladin, so I used my idea for that character to flesh out these knights.

      I wasn’t sure how to take them out of the Mists, so I rolled a 9 and a 6 and immediately thought of a Shadar-kai toll bridge. I have more thoughts on this and will seed those in the next session.

      It was a low-key game; I was feeling low energy but I loved what came out of it.

    Next Game: Jusko’s player suggested the Shadar-Kai give their Moon Elf cousin a gift for her tale. Love it. We’ll start there next game before heading into the Ygoni Valley.

    What do you think the Shadar-Kai should offer Helewynn as a gift for telling them about how she killed Strahd?

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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    Books from Castle Ravenloft’s Library

    Goomwrought / City of Midnight / Factions, Powers and Merchants / Observations & Reports from Servants

    This tome was compiled by Strahd over the years, keeping track of Gloomwrought, through the reports of his messengers. This was the place he reckoned would be his first stop when he escaped from the Demi-Plane of Dread’s clutches.

    Allows for 3 rerolls when seeking out lore or understanding people embroiled in power struggles on the streets of Gloomwrought or finding people or Powers in the City of Midnight. Describe how Strahd’s writings on his messengers’ reports explaianed this aspect of Gloomwrought.

    Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider
    Conquering the Planes
    a manual by
    Arch-age Xrathburlg the Unsparing
    Emperor of the Cosmos

    This tome was written by the infamous Frog-kin Arch-Mage, concerning being a cross-planar conqueror.

    Allows for 3 re-rolls when you are seeking out planar lore or understanding beings who are attempting to conquer the planes.

    Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider
    Van Richten’s Guide to Hunting the Lich

    This tome was written by the famous monster-hunter who has killed monsters in many domains of Ravenloft. This tome was procured by Strahd so that he could better do battle with Azalin Rex.

    Allows for 3 re-rolls when you are seeking lore concerning liches, demi-liches, necromancers on the path to lich-dom or their catspaws and servants.

    Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

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    Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons