Victory of Strahd, a mini-campaign for hire

Victory of Strahd, a mini-campaign for hire

Curse (with Curse Crossed out) VICTORY of Strahd

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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* * * Link to Game-for-Hire * * *
Human/Bat Skeleton The End

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

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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All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 8, Bounty Hunters

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 8, Bounty Hunters

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 8: Bounty Hunters

In which bounty hunters attack the Sigil 6 from the darkness.

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

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  • The town is camped with the merchant caravan, to the east runs the Salt Road, to the north, somewhere in the forest, a portal bathes the dark horizon in blue light.

    The party was looking over magic items, deciding if anything was worth purchasing with the gold they grabbed from Castle Ravenloft. I asked everyone to make a Perception check before the oncoming ambush. Trundle, Dwarf Ranger and Kuru, Halfling Arcane Trickster, made their rolls. Trundle came from a dwarven holdfast that was under siege from Devils. I asked him how one could tell when Devils were about to attack – he said that you could always smell the sulfur coming from the stones. Kuru said that he often has a sixth sense before an ambush; I said that for some reason it reminded him of the law coming down on his crew after a heist.

  • The crossbow bolt hit one of Bugwump’s Firebolt Apprentices in the chest. Kuru and Jusko failed their saves and were unable to see for a round. Then Bugwump was hit with a crossbow bolt/lightning bolt that paralyzed him for a minute. It was a rough opening salvo. Things were looking grim.

  • Three things happened that turned the tide of the battle – Failed Soldier hit Bugwump with a Lesser Restoration and Helewynn Misty Stepped to the tree-line where Failed Soldier had noted the bolts were coming from. Helewynn lit up her firey blade, a beacon for the rest of the group. Trundle tracked down on the invisible Devil bounty hunter who had gone invisible.

  • Turned out it was an Orthon (bounty hunter to Archdukes of Hell), a Deathlock Mastermind (undead warlock) and Shadar Kai Shadow Dancer (stealthy elf with chains). The party turned the tide, killed the Deathlock and hunted down the Orthon; the Shadar Kair surrendered.

    Orthons usually will themselves to explode when they are close to death but Bugwump knew this with a 28 Arcana check and hit the Orthon with a psychic attack that left it reeling. Then Jusko beheaded it with his vorpal blade, leaving the Devil’s Brass Crossbow and Infernal Knife.

  • The surrendered Shadar Kai’s name is Halda of Gloomwrought, where she had been hired by the Devil. Turns out, the Red Court of Innistrad has a bounty out on Helewynn’s head. The dead apprentice’s family sought Bugwump’s guidance in how to deal with Halda. In the end she was given to the Squires’ custody to see if she could earn her keep on the roads to Gloomwrought.

    The fact that the merchant caravan’s guard captain is a vampire has not escaped the Sigil 6’s notice.

DM’s Notes: I tried using my Context, Cool Shit and Consequences note sheet and it was alright. I’ll post the sheet when I’ve used all of the material there. Honestly, what works for me when trying to come up with ideas is the ole, looking through the Monster Manual, or in this case, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

This week the Facebook Group question was:

The goat-head the zombie was holding told you all the eyes of Orcus are upon you and after defeating the latest zombie mob, you can feel this more than ever.

What has your character seen or felt that makes them think that Orcus is watching them with intense interest?

Kuru’s Player

Usually when you look out into the darkness and see the reflections from the eyes of animals in the darkness they shine back a bright white…when Orcus is using the creatures to spy on them, the reflected light is a blood red.

Jusko’s Player

You’re not supposed to be able to read in dreams. Scribbles, or blurred entries, or even books of blank paper betraying their gold bound leather clad covers are the rule. Jusko, a not-uneducated man, knows this and takes some comfort in it: No matter how dark his dreams descend he never again has to suffer the pages under the withering glare of House tutors. There is that, at least.

Until the f’ing Shadowfell.

Now, his boyhood tutors return – Dame Magda the Sword of Crones, and cataracted Uncle Aram the eyeless overseer of the lectern devils – grin too wide in maniacal glee when once-again young Jusko opens his primers and words appear for him to memorize and sing back in plainsong.

And as if this wasn’t torment enough, the words themselves are nightmares:

I am Orcus, and I will rut with your ancient ghosts as you tread my lands with your insipid toed feet. Their minds break under my weight. Your dead will never know you again.

I am Orcus, and have laid my hand upon your organs, your get will be birthed with my mark forevermore. This is repayment for the foul droppings and excretions you leave dotted across my domain.

I am Orcus, and I will break the thundering drums you name as Hearts and Lungs and Blood. It is deafening and obscene to me, and I will put those instruments inside out. My domain shall be one of silence eternal, a law writ in your entrails for all to see.

I am Orcus, and your words to Soth are meaningless wind.

I am Orcus, and I know the sound the boy made when your knife opened his liver to the air.

I am Orcus, and your lifelong lies are poetry.

I am Orcus, and I see you clearly, like no lover nor mother ever has.

I am Orcus. And I am coming.

The books cannot be closed, and the Hajek boy cannot wake up. The Library grows, the threats double in number and putrescence, then triple, then factorial into time bowl-warped by the ineffable collapsing star that the thing Orcus orbits. It will not let Jusko awake, It will not let his sleep be restful, It can be heard laughing as thunder, Its fingers spread closer like shadows – formless, massless, but present and unavoidable, all is hopeless all is -*

Failed Soldier’s Player

Failed Soldier does not sleep. They have learned to lie still for several hours to help others feel a bit less creeped out…maybe. During the times of quiet reflection, they feel a probing, prodding, and tugging at their essence, as if something is trying to find a way in. Since the latest zombie horde encounter, this has become more pronounced. To try to learn more, Failed Soldier put all thought into that point of light or force or whatever it is that is their self. This returned a vision. Their essence a shiny orb, being gnawed on by a goats head. Watching over this with dispassion are a raven and the eyes of the angel who made Failed Soldiers current body.

Next Game: The portal to the north is in need of some exploring.

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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?

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  • 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.

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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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More Actual Play posts about the Thursday Night Delving Club’s shenanigans? Links Below:

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Friday Night Daydreams

Friday Night Daydreams

Woke up and jotted down some gaming notes. Found monsters I like for the upcoming Shadowfell Exodus or as the Thursday Night Gamers are calling it, Shadowfell Oregon Trail. The process reminds me of looking at the Monster Manuals when I was 14, reverently reading each entry, daydreaming about how I’d use them in a game. I can still remember borrowing Rob’s copies of Monster Manuals 1 and 2 and his Fiend Folio; I remember that his Monster Manual 1 had no cover. Odd, I can see that coverless book so vividly.

Shadowfell Oregon Trail

I am digging Cawood Publishing‘s Monsters of the Underworld and will likely make use of Monsters of the City: Sins & Virtues when they eventually reach Gloomwrought. I am still very much a sucker for monster manuals and these are fun bits of world building and monster design.

Cawood Publishing books mentioned above, as they sit on my desk.

There’s an idea that needs marinating inspired by Blades in the Dark‘s Entanglement’s tables, starting out as 1d6 but adding d6’s, up to 3d6, as the Shadows grow long. The idea crystalized for me when I realized what I wanted the 18 result to be. Also, notes for things moving, sometimes randomly and other times at the whim of Fell Powers, out there in the Shadowfell on the map creating chaos. While I’m at it, I should probably think about my Context, Cool Shit and Consequences.

Map of the upcoming exodus to Gloomwrought
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Mothership is a published adventure, so I am perusing and digesting that over again during this week off. Slowly moving to get a game going with my dad. I showed him the following and he said the first two spoke to him most. We’ll make a character this week, I hope.

I need to write something about GMing published adventures rather than running from personal notes. It really feels like a different muscle all-together. When it works it feels like running with support and having room to move and improvise within a well wrought structure. When it doesn’t work, for me, it feels like homework in junior high school.

Spears Subject Divider

I went to bed fairly early and woke up in the middle of the night. Now it is more Saturday morning than Friday evening but I’ve got ideas for the dragon-slaying D&D-houserules-turned-game project that has been on my mind since Jay mentioned that he had not ever encountered a dragon as a player at the gaming table. Those notes are dangerously close to being playtestable.

My artish hobby that began with getting the Affinity Art Suite for a birthday gift a few years ago means that sometimes I start making images for games or book-covers for books long before those games/books/vague ideas are ready for it. Speaking of which…

Dragonslayers twitter pic: DRAGONSLAYERS: There is a beast that embodies all that is wondrous and fell in humanity. It rules over your people, using its power to feed an unquenchable greed. Slay it.

Jay‘s going to hunt some dragon before 2022 is done.

How is your gaming going? What are you working on? What are you daydreaming about?

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Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

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?

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  • 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.

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All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 2, The Zombie Mob

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 2, The Zombie Mob

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 2: The Zombie Mob

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

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

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  • The Shadar Kai gave Helewynn a War Corvid, used by the Shadowfell’s elves to cross the shadow plane in appreciation of the tale of Strahd’s slaying and for her heroism. It is named Butters because the group tried to teach it the words, “Jusko is a butt,” as a gag because Jusko’s player was not able to attend. Butters the giant raven. See below for more on the War Corvid, using the stats for the Giant Eagle but with a better Intelligence.

  • War Corvid
    Stats, Giant Eagle, page 324 but lower Strength and higher Intelligence

    A raven the size of a stag rushed onto the road.

    I made a little sound in my throat without meaning to.

    It’s an unforgettable thing, seeing your first war corvid. Especially if it’s not on your side. It plucked Spear’s foot out from under her, spilling her on her face, then began shredding her back with its hardened beak. I woke myself out of just watching it and thought I should probably nock another arrow, but the corvid was already moving at Axe, whose name was actually Jarril. I tell you this not because you’ll know him long but because what happened to him was so awful I feel bad just calling him Axe.

    Black Tongued Thief by Christopher Buehlman
    The Blacktongue Thief by Chrstopher Buehlman
  • They were getting their shit together, asking questions to the Dread Bridge’s stable hands about the car and feeding of a War Corvid and Kuru’s player said, “I want some kind of a wrinkle. Maybe Kuru got someone pregnant back in Barovia or there’s a child in his Vistani cart, a stowaway Vistani child looking for adventure and a way out of Barovia.

    Brinne was born. She is a 16 year old girl who said, “You got my elder sister pregnant, Kuru; getting me out of Barovia was really the least you could do.” She asked Bugwump if she could be his apprentice because she wants to be a Wizard. I made her 16 because Bugwump’s player has a daughter in real life and I wanted Brinne to be a different age than her.

  • I rolled on the Encounter Table but decided to throw that roll away and instead choose a mob of zombies. Quickly searched, 5e, zombie mob and found stats I liked.

    Mobs are cool monsters. It was a fun encounter – a little slow but getting around the 300 zombies, who had eaten their naive necromancer who had not understood the power of the Shadowfell, took the entire session.

  • When they tried to split the zombies up, a cold wind blew and Failed Soldier realized that some fell power was controlling them – not some necromancer in a tree but some kind of Undead Power that made its home in the Shadowfell.

  • Helewynn wanted to give Butters something to eat, so she swooped down to grab an outlying zombie. I asked for a DC 12 Animal Handling and when that was failed the zombies grabbed both steed and rider. Failed Soldier and Kuru, on pterodactyl, swooped in to help and things got rough. Only through Failed Soldier’s healing, giving it the hit points it needed to rise again, and Kuru’s turning it invisible, giving it advantage on its roll to escape the zombies’ clutches, did they stop a pterodactyl from perishing under the weight of the mob.

  • While Helewynn, Kuru and Failed Soldier took flight to scout out the mob, Trundle, Bugwump and Brinne forded a river. I asked for a DC 10 Survival check and Trundle failed the roll. I decided that meant Trundle didn’t see zombies under the river’s mud lying in ambush. It was less of a failure and more of a complication due to a failed roll. Trundle and Bugwump made quick work of the zombies before they could ever attack. Bugwump’s spell seemed to create some kind of localized black hole (what was that spell?).

  • In the end, they would land just ahead of the zombies, leading the mob away and sending their carts in another direction. The folk on flying steeds would catch up once the carts were through the valley. When the mob was too far to catch the carts, the Sigil Sixers on flying steed could see some kind of odd movement among the zombies as they passed along a goat corpse.

    A zombie with its head down as if in prayer brought forward a goat head; its eyes glows red as it spoke, “You have evaded my toys on your way through this dead valley. But the Eyes of Orcus are upon you…”

    The Wand of Orcus

DM’s Notes: Using the search terms, valley, D&D map, I found this map and used it for giving the zombie mob context.

Next Game: We will pass through the Ygoni Valley on their way to Gloomwrought.

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?

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All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought: Encounters, Factions & a Map

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought: Encounters, Factions & a Map

Sigil 6ers! Spoilers be ahead!

Maybe don’t read this one for a couple of weeks.

If you do *shrug* not the end of all worlds..

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought
Encounters, Factions & a Map

As the Sigil Six ended the Curse of Strahd, they decided to take the long way home. Or as Trundle said, “We’ve done enough work for the Lady of Pain; let’s walk through the Planes a while and take our time getting back to Sigil.”

The city of Gloomwrought came up a few times when the players discussed and researched ways out of Ravenloft. Trundle, the party’s Dwarven Ranger, became a Mistwalker while in the Amber Tomb, so off they go into the Mists, hoping to navigate their way through them and through the Shadowfell, to the City of Midnight.

I purchased the old 4e Gloomwrought supplement, made up a 2d6 + d6 encounter table and even drew up a map of a valley where 3 human siblings settled into the Shadowfell, hoping to bring their light religion to these shadowed lands. SPOILER: It didn’t go well for them.

It is going to take them a little while to get to Gloomwrought, more fleshing out that city and making it our own in another blog post, very much inspired by Blades in the Dark. For now, I’m thinking about the trip through the Shadowfell. I’ve got an Inspirational Encounter Table, the Ygoni Valley Map, and my Shadowfell Factions d6 Table. More on all of those below.

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Inspirational Encounter Table

Inspired by this blog post, I always put a Dragon at 12 and something cool at 2, usually a Wizard but in this case, thinking of a post-Ravenloft Shadowfell vibe, I made an exception. Yup, Lord Soth could show up, the Knight of the Black Rose himself. The encounter is inspired by my favorite pic of the legendary Death Knight, Lord Soth’s Charge by Keith Parkinson.

2d6 + d6 Shadowfell Encounters

Wrote this up while daydreaming, looking through monster manuals, the Gloomwrought supplement and the Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. Sometimes I’ll roll and see what fate brings and other times I’ll pick, like from a menu. These aren’t necessarily fights. The players will decide how they deal with them and I’ve made it very clear that they are not balanced in any way, shape or form.

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Ygoni Valley Map

Looking through some D&D books, I ran across the Skull Lord and so came up with an idea for 3 sibling knights trying to settle a valley in the Shadowfell but becoming such a creature. The ruins in the Barrow Hills could be anything but I’m thinking that they’ll be a Hobgoblin Warlord’s tomb, where they were ritually killed when their mission to establish a fortress/beach-head for the Hobgoblin Imperial Army failed.

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Shadowfell Factions d6 Table

d6 Shadowfell Factions 1 Raven Queen / 2 Orcus / 3 Minor Death / 4 Ravenloft Trinity / 5 The Ghoul King / 6 Raven Queen Heretics

Maybe I just need to know something fast, like who made a magic item or who left an ancient road marker or who is behind some evil shenanigans. I’ve got a table for that now. Minor Death will just mean some minor aspect of death or an obscure death deity. Raven Queen Heretics are those who follow extreme readings on her edicts. The takeaway – everything in the Shadowfell breaks down and is twisted into an undead shape eventually – even the philosophy of its death queens.

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Spending the Ravenloft Fortune

Spending the Ravenloft Fortune

The Sigil 6: Outlands Expedition Team

I did not feel like going through the treasure in Castle Ravenloft and tallying it up after the Sigil Six killed Strahd. So, I wrote up the below houserule to use as the players make their way through the Demi-Plane of Dread’s mists, into the Shadowfell (random encounter tables are brewing) and eventually to Gloomwrought (tempted to write the factions up Blades in the Dark/Doskvol style) spending loot fresh out of Barovia. Inspired very much by Burning Wheel’s resources.

NOTE: Will I ever play a fantasy RPG and not take some inspiration from Burning Wheel? Probably not.

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When you spend money from the Ravenloft Fortune, tell the DM what you want to buy and in what marketplace you are trying to purchase this item. The DM will set a DC if it is possible to find such a thing in the marketplace. If not, the DM will let you know who the merchants say might have such an item or a map to a tomb where such an item could be found. If the item is common, the DM might just ask you to check off a gold coin or two (maybe three if it is really opulent) without a roll. When you roll, mark a gold piece off of the fortune below. You may add +1 for every gold piece you mark off of the fortune. If you succeed, you purchase the item without a problem. If you fail the roll, you either draw attention from a dangerous faction, purchase an item or service that has a complicated history attached to it or the merchant demands an exchange of services, wanting the skills that adventurers are known to possess. 1 Gold Coin = 1 month room & board in most cities for 6 adventurers.

I imagine we might clip the coins into halves and quarters if needed. We’ll see. If they ever take a dragon’s hoard, I’ll write something similar up but with a touch different flavor (and probably more slots to burn).

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Will this somehow link to my unfinished resources system or will that wait until I have Project Ampersand (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH ANY NONSENSE THE nu-TSR fools are brewing) into some kind of playable format? Time will tell.

The wonderful picture of loot in the above image is from Feral Indie Studios, whose asset packs are well worth the money.

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