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

    https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games
    https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/dune-collection
    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
    Tabletop Role-Playing Game Collection
    https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games
    Lich Collection
    https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/the-lich-collection
    Victory of Strahd, a mini-campaign for hire

    Victory of Strahd, a mini-campaign for hire

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

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

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

    Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

    How Will Character Creation Happen?

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

    Pre-gens will be available.

    Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

    What Will the Players Need?

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

    A burning desire to destroy Strahd is needed.

    Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

    What Will I Bring?

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

    Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

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

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

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

    Who are the Sigil 6 and what are they up to?

    Who are the Sigil 6 and what are they up to?

    Real World Origin Story

    When the pandemic had just begun my friend got the flu. We had no idea if he had covid or what that might mean. As everything closed down, I called him and asked if he needed me to grab something from the pharmacy or the grocery store and leave it on his front steps. He said, “No, I’ve got that covered. Could you run a game online?”

    “Damn right I can.”

    That was more than two years ago and we’re still going. We played Trophy Gold for a while and had an amazing time. Then we started with Five Torches Deep and eventually settled into D&D 5e. Character descriptions and links to our AP blog posts are below.

    The Sigil 6: Outlands Expedition Team
Made with assets from Thomas Novosel's patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thomasno?fan_landing=true
and Feral Indie Studio's amazing products: https://feral-indie-studios.itch.io/

    Made with assets from Thomas Novosel’s patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thomasno?fan_landing=true
    and Feral Indie Studio’s amazing products: https://feral-indie-studios.itch.io/

    Who are they?

    Most of the team met when the Lady of Pain sentenced them into the Maze, a kind of otherworld prison sideways to Sigil. The group was in there for 15 years until the Lady of Pain pulled them out and asked them to serve Sigil as an Outlands Expedition Team, defending imbalances in the Outlands. The team is ambivalent about their mysterious and otherworldly patron.

    Logo, Outlands Expedition Team / Deputized by The Lady of Pain / Clerk Ward, Sigil

    Jusko Hajek

    A human fighter sent to the Maze for banditry and murdering his squire; he was guilty as charged. Nowadays he’s a glorious jumble of honor, bravery and love for his friends.

    DM’s Notes: Hajek was the family name of Drew’s character in our old Burning Wheel game; it is a nice tip of the hat. The Hajek family is burning there in the background.

    Some of my favorite of Drew’s decisions is when he uses Hajek to highlight the greatness of the other characters.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Bugwump

    Bugwump is a crotchety, frog-kin wizard. When the campaign began, it seemed like he had been put into the Maze for petty reasons but then John mentioned that Bugwump had been an Arch-mage with an eye towards deity-hood and conquest who had his powers stripped when he was sent Maze-ward. It was suggested to Bugwump that perhaps he is only a clone of the powerful Arch-Mage he remembers and that thought still haunts him.

    DM’s Notes: Whenever we meet a famous wizard or lich I ask John if Bugwump knew this person when he was an Arch-Mage. As mentioned in a previous blog post, this arch-magery is a gift.

    John does cool stuff in making Bugwump’s magic very amphibian and unique through his descriptions.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Trundle

    A Dwarf Ranger who makes arcane carvings out of wood, eschewing his stone and iron heritage. The Holdfast where he was raised was besieged by Abyssal forces, a detail I haven’t delved into nearly enough. Trundle took up the holy symbol of a Dwarven priest of portals and became a Mist-Walker while in Barovia.

    DM’s Notes: Trundle isn’t a power-house in combat but Teo boxes clever with him and he often pulls out the wild card that ends up saving the team.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Kuru

    A Halfling Rogue (Arcane Trickster) who took the fall for a heist gone wrong. Sometimes Kuru has lots of heart and other times he ends a problem with a ruthless backstab before it can escalate. The town where he was raised was a kind of ninja-enclave.

    While in Barovia Kuru earned the nickname, Kuru Heartbreaker, after destroying Strahd’s crystal heart artifact with a Wand of Lightning Bolts.

    DM’s Notes: In every group there’s that one character who will jump on a dragon’s head to try to get at the dangerous beast’s eyes. Kuru is that character; Anthony is that player.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Helewynn

    Helewynn joined the group later, an elf (Eldadrin) Barbarian who serves a moon goddess. She has her own strong ideas about honor. Her rage in combat will become stuff of legend and her comrades benefit from her totemic Wolf powers. While in Ravenloft, Helewynn became a werewolf, an honored caste of soldier among the Moon Goddess’ people. The werewolves, wolves and dire wolves of Barovia refer to her as the Queen of the Moon. Helewynn delivered the fatal strike against Strahd.

    DM’s Notes: B is new to D&D and makes great outside-the-box combat decisions that are always interesting and fun. When I ask B a question about Helewynn’s thoughts on a topic, the response is always delightful.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Shepherd

    Corpseflea (from Five Torches Deep: Origins) Grave Cleric who has left the body of a dead thief deity and is currently inahbiting the body of a flesh golem made by an angel in Ravenloft (shit got complicated and strange). Failed Soldier Shepherd has taken his desire to usher souls to their destinations when they have died. The Corpseflea has helped refugees from a dead world mourn the death of their home. Failed Soldier Shepherd inhabited the body of a dead God of Thieves from a dying world, giving the Sigil 6 access to the Godroads; now he inhabits a flesh golem made for him by the lost angel of the Morninglord in Ravenloft.

    DM’s Notes: All of these characters are delightful surprising thanks to the wonderful player choices but Shepherd is a particularly odd one. Not only because he’s a mote of consciousness who can inhabit corpses but because J players them with complicated soul.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    What has the Sigil 6 been up to?

    Book I: Starting in Sigil

    In which we get our feet under us in the Outlands…

    Revisiting Planescape

    The adventures in the Outlands were supposed to ripple out into the rest of the planes of reality.

    Tables for the Outlands

    I don’t think of the tables as Random Encounter Tables but as Inspirational Encounter Tables.

    Back in Sigil

    “How do you say last rite’s over a world?”
    “Maybe the same way we’d say good-bye to a dear friend…”

    Not Random but Inspirational

    Why did I roll these encounters? There weren’t any fights.

    Feuding Gods in the Portal City of Xaos

    I wrote down Water, Chaos of Limbo, Feuding Deities.

    The Godroads

    A few years ago I wrote some notes in a notebook about the Godroads.

    Sigil with Rule of 3 Rings
    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Book II: Even Death May Die

    In which the Sigil 6 travels to Chult because someone broke death.

    Even Death May Die
Tomb of Annihilation as played by the Thursday Night Delving Club
made like a movie poster

    Chultan Skies

    They are flying on pterodactyls…

    Bugwump’s Gift to the D.M.

    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.

    Landing in the Lost City of Omu

    Jusko was worried about the letter of introduction Vandrilla Shadowmantle gave them to give to the Red Wizards, worried they might get Rosencrantz-&-Guildenstern’d.

    Wizards, Derring-do and a Legendary T-Rex

    Trundle and Kuru ended up on the Queen of Feather’s head…

    Robbing Yuan-ti and Contemplating Magicide.

    In which Yuan-ti are robbed and multiple magicide is discussed.

    Identity and the Tomb

    “Who are we? Are we people who crawl into our allies’ camp and slit their throats while they sleep?”

    Hit-and-Run Finale

    I forgot lots of stuff in the room that would’ve made he fight harder. It was still fun, still felt epic.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Book III: Killing Strahd

    In which the Sigil 6 enter a demi-planar prison to kill a legendary parasite.

    Prelude in Sigil

    Trundle got into the spirit of things, wearing a Devil mask and doing a public carving celebrating their last adventure…

    Questions Before Curse of Strahd

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

    Session I Welcome to Barovia

    In which the team arrives in Ravenloft and the Siege of Ravenwatch begins…

    Session II Battle of Ravenwatch

    Kuru, being followed by Strahd, throws a fake amulet in another direction so he can get to Jusko and turn invisible. Deception with Dex bonus; Strahd falls for the sleight of hand.

    Session III Wolves and Souls

    In which the Outlands Expedition Team heads to the village of Barovia and is tested by a pack of wolves.

    Session IV Ghosts & Bones

    Trundle, when he entered the inn, offered a prayer against fiends (his chosen enemy) in Infernal. Just a nice bit of color that I loved.

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

    Session VI Enter the Amber Temple

    In which the Amber Temple is entered

    Session VII Dark Gifts

    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.

    Session VIII New Wolves & Old Friends

    In which we see Werewolf politics, exit plans, scouting the Mist and Chultan pterodactyls in Barovia…

    Session IX The Execution of Kiril Stoyanovich

    In which a werewolf is beheaded, a sword is lit and a plan is tossed aside.

    Session X The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

    In which Jusko leads a team of strangers whose lives have been brutally damaged by Strahd 

    Session XI Plans within Plans and the Broken Angel

    In which the team starts to plan and make plans within plans and meet the broken angel known as the The Prophet…

    Session XII Blood and Philosophy in the Abbey of St. Markovia

    We are picturing it like the helicopter approach in the beginning of Predator.

    Session XIII The Ballad of Kuru Heartbreaker

    The Heart Tower was my favorite encounter that I ran pretty close to as-written.

    Session XIV The Death of Strahd

    In which the Sigil Six ends of the Curse of Strahd slaying the legendary vampire through sorcery, steel and cunning.

    Spending the Ravenloft Fortune

    I did not feel like going through the treasure in Castle Ravenloft and tallying it up…

    Session XV Loose Ends and Lost Gods

    Rahadin and the remaining vampires left the Domain. None are sure where they went.

    Books from Castle Ravenloft’s Library

    This tome was compiled by Strahd over the years, keeping track of Gloomwrought, through the reports of his messengers.

    Curse of Strahd Awards

    To hand out to players once the adventure is finished.

    Why is Strahd a good villain?

    Know that strahd died screaming in daylight.

    Curse of Strahd as played by the Thursday Night Delving Club (Friendship, Laughter, Adventure)
Big moon behind a castle with bats flying...
    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    Book IV: All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought

    In which the Sigil 6 walk across the Shadowfell towards the City of Midnight.

    All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought
In which the Sigil 6 walk through the Shadowfell

    Encounters, Faction and a Map

    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.”

    S1 Knights and Elves

    They got to a bridge from the mists, over a bottomless shadow chasm, leading into the Shadowfell. 

    S2 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.

    S3 “What would the best version of yourselves do?”

    I put them in an unwinnable situation and they shook their heads and said, “Fuck that.”

    S4 Somewhere Between Lord Soth and the Moon

    “Don’t do anything stupid unless I come running down the hill. If I do, bring all of the stupid.”

    S5 Recruit Villagers, Scouting Ahead and Evading a Dragon

    In which the Sigil Six recruit the villagers, scout ahead and meet a dragon in the skies.

    S6 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.

    The Three Who Are One
3 skulls melded together

    S7 On the Salt Road

    Kuru started a conversation with the Shadar Kai riders about their strategies in fighting a dragon.

    “We run.”

    S8 Bounty Hunters

    Three things happened that turned the tide of the battle…

    Moments in Actual Play

    In which we look at a few moments and decisions in the game, considering the techniques at hand.

    S9 The Old Githyanki Gate

    Are the players interested in this job? Does it sound fun? Are the characters interested in this job? We talked it over and folks were interested.

    S10 The Drow Job Prep

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

    S11 The Execution of the Drow Job

    In which blood is spilled at a spirited Doors of Fate gaming table and Kuru disappears with an Aboleth.

    S12 Back in Sigil

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

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    0 Sigil 6 Questions

    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.

    1 Acorn Problem in Bytopia

    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?

    S2: A Balanced Deal with a Heaping Side of Lore

    They brokered a deal between the Druids and Garl, despite the god of the Gnomes trying his damnedest to get them to slaughter them all.

    S3: The Vampire, the Lich and the Raven Queen

    It was an odd night and I might’ve not managed the spotlight as well as I might’ve.

    Imbalances in the Outlands with Rule of 3 circles, Key and Sword and Sigil 6 symbol
    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    S1 Locate Object

    In which the Sigil 6 track down Strahd’s second-in-command, who got away from them in Barovia; she is now a crimelord in Gloomwrought.

    S2 Killing Rahadin

    In which the Sigil 6 kill Rahadin and most of her vampire gang that has terrorized the streets of Gloomwrought since Strahd’s curse was lifted.

    S3 The Second Wave

    In which the Sigil 6 loot the vault of the late vampire gang, kill the last surviving vampire, stuff 2 vampire spawn accountants in a bag of holding and face Innistradi Vampire Assassins.

    S4 LOOK UPON ABORAZ AND DESPAIR!

    In which the Sigil 6 survive their first encounter with Aboraz, the Living Tomb, the Skull that Walks.

    https://githyankidiaspora.com/2022/08/18/planescape-tweener-planning-session/

    They are going back to Chult, apparently Jusko has an apartment there. Then we’re off to the Radiant Citadel.

    S1 Return to Chult

    One thing was certain, they needed to go back and grab the lich’s soul jars their gnome friend, Dosk, picked up in looking over her scans of the tomb.

    S2 “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

    Some players were missing tonight, so we had a low-key scry and chat. It was a lovely downshift.

    S3 The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

    “He seeks to unite the tribes and peoples across Chult as best he can. Dacaad has placed tablets in all of Ubtao’s deserted holy places, with a litany about what he needs to do to apologize to the people of Chult for abandoning them.”

    S4 Slaying the Queen of Feathers

    In which the Sigil 6 slay the Queen of Feathers in front of Dacaad and return to Omu, a lost city in the midst of being rebuilt.

    S5 Keep on Truckin’ a.k.a. Enter Acererak

    In which the Sigil 6 enter the Tomb of Annihilation again but this time they encounter the tomb’s architect.

    Sigil 6 Subject Divider

    What else?

    What is an Outlands Expedition Team?

    What is the Bingo XP Variant that the Thursday Night Delving Club uses?

    Sigil 6 Questions – Why D&D 5e and more…

    Judd's Shop
Science Fiction and Fantasy Designs
100% of artist's proceeds go to amazing organizations
    https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/
    Tomb of Annihilation – Hit and Run Finale

    Tomb of Annihilation – Hit and Run Finale

    Tomb of Annihilation cover by me.

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

    • The team shamed the Red Wizards into dealing with every other puzzle room. They dealt with a room with anti-gravity and a whirling death fan. Two of the Red Wizards died and when the anti-gravity ended it rained death down on their friends. Kuru the Halfling Rogue subtly mage-handed the magic items on the dead wizards; it was a good haul.

    • Having smart NPCs handle 2 of the puzzle rooms was a fun way to speed it up. I made some rolls on their behalf to see how they did. My disdain of some parts of this adventure were made known to my friends.

    • Then they jumped into the room with the Godling and the Soulmonger, the engine that Acererak was using to make his own death god. The Soulmonger was held up by Adamantine struts. Cut down one strut and the engine falls into the lava below. I secretly hoped that Jusko’s vorpal sword would cut down a strut.

    • They dog-piled the Godling. I forgot lots of stuff in the room that would’ve made he fight harder. It was still fun, still felt epic.

    • Before they entered the final room, Trundle the Dwarf Ranger did the math on the nearest Godroad; it was a hundred yards from the opening of the dungeon back the way they came.

    • While everyone else was killing the Demi-Lich’s Godling, Trundle was poking around the balconies and found a portal to an altar. And there was a doorway to a Godroad. They had an exit plan. Nice work.

    • At one point Bugwump the Frog-kin Wizard made a HUGE Arcana check on the Godling and realized that Acererak would arrive within a few rounds of them killing it due to a spell on it. I rolled a d4 when the Godling died. 3 rounds.

    • Jusko the Human Fighter, Helewyn the Elf Barbarian and Failed Soldier the Corpse-flea Grave Cleric were doing their best on the struts but not having much luck. Then Jusko talked to his word and beseeched it to do its old head-lopping job (what Drew said was way cooler). Nat 20. Boo-ya.

    • They ran out the fading door to the Godroads just as Acererak arrived, screaming in frustration. – mission accomplished.

    • They earned a boatload of levels on the Bingo Board. 7 levels to be divvied up among the party.

    • We’ll do some fun downtime during Sigil’s carnivale/Mardi Gras-style mask party holiday. I’m going to make up funky carousing rules based on what mask they choose to wear.

    • Then we’re off to the Demi-Plane of Dread, where a neighboring Outlands Expedition Team went on a mission and went missing.

    Outlands Expedition Team, Deputized by the Lady of Pain, Clerk Ward, Sigil

    In honor of those vorpal blade 20’s that come right when you need them, you deserve a Talk Sh!t; Roll Crits t-shirt.

    https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/talk-sh-t-roll-crits-d20-edition
    Outlands Expedition Team

    Outlands Expedition Team

    Outlands Expedition Team, Deputized by the Lady of Pain, Clerk Ward, Sigil

    The Lady of Pain expends most of her energies making sure no one attempts to gain power within Sigil. She has spies and allies in the Outlands and beyond, making sure the planes do not become imbalanced in a way that could spill out across creation and endanger her home – the City of Doors, where gods are banned from entry.

    The Outlands Expedition Teams were put together as a way to counter those imbalances and forge friends between Sigil to the planes. When the teams return to Sigil, they sit in a forum, held in a plaza near the community where they live and discuss the outcome of the mission. This allows the community to interrogate the teams their taxed gold supports and allows the varied

    Teams are called upon to think outside the box and adapt their approach based on the mission-at-hand but often, an approach rises to the surface.

    Team Types

    Mazers | A team brought out of the Labyrinth, serving the rest of their sentence in service to the city that imprisoned them.

    Spies and Diplomats | Sometimes a more subtle and nuanced approach is necessary.

    Watchdogs | Other times you have to cut off the arm to save the body.

    Scouts | Some places are so dangerous all the team can do is look, assess and report back.

    Scholars and Librarians | The planes, its inhabitants and the way they evolve need to be catalogued.

    Mercantile Opportunists | Others see the planar scales as nothing but a way to make some gold.


    O.E.T. Perks

    Lifestyle

    As long as you find your way back to Sigil, you can live a modest lifestyle for free. Your housing is paid for by the city and no one in the City of Doors would force an Expeditioner to pay for a meal or a cup of tea.


    Known

    In Sigil, if you make a CHA check to find someone, you always roll with Advantage. You are well known in the City of Doors. This Advantage also applies on a mission if the city officials have had time to put assets in place to support the team.


    Diversity

    Before a mission, city officials will ask anyone who has lived near or studied the forces at work. The team will have access to people who have on-the-ground knowledge of the forces causing or effected by the imbalance.


    Gear

    Specialty gear can be asked for to help support a mission. Time is often of the the utmost importance but Sigil is a good place to find things.


    Portals

    The City of Doors has doorways to everywhere and anywhere if you know the right key that opens the right portal. It might take some doing but if an Expeditioner needs to get somewhere, they should be able to get there or somewhere near it if they are willing to get the right elements necessary to make the key the portal demands.


    O.E.T. Contact

    City Clerk | Official, a bit cold and businesslike but also staking their career on this team’s success or failure.

    Retired Expeditioner | Someone who once went out and get things done in the trenches; often opinionated on the best approach for a given mission.

    Faction Leader | A philosopher who wants to see their faction’s point of view reflected across the planes.

    Labyrinth Priest | A minotaur priest who worships the labryinth, an idea that our choices ring out across the planes and sustain reality.

    Box | A Rogue Modron, still dedicated to order and setting the planes just so.

    Cynic | They have been in Sigil too long and only see the problems, none of the beauty. Will likely be adopting a doomful philosophy.


    Team Roles

    Those who try to find a pattern to find the best paths of life and fate that make for a successful Expeditioner or what blend of people from what backgrounds makes for a good team have come up with nothing concrete just yet. Still, factions will argue about it in cafes and taverns all over Sigil.

    Basher | Folk Hero, Knight, Marine, Mercenary Veteran, Soldier

    Spellslinger | Investigator, Noble, Urchin, Sage, Hermit

    Spiv | Charlatan, Criminal, Spy, Gambler, Pirate

    Primer | Entertainer, Far Traveler, Folk Hero, Outlander

    Kneeler | Acolyte, Cloistered Scholar, Urchin, Sailor, Sage

    Greybeard | Archeologist, Cloistered Scholar, Haunted One, Sage, Noble


    Academy Quests

    No single d6 table will show the breadth and width of the many kinds of imbalances in the Outlands and beyond.

    For more on this, check out this blog post if you’d like to see how I do it.

    Inspirational Tables for your own Githyanki Invasion at the Dungeon Master’s Guild

    https://www.dmsguild.com/product/356828/Silver-Swords-of-the-Lich-Queen-Inspirational-Tables-for-a-Githyanki-Invasion

    Not Random but Inspirational

    The players are an Outland Exhibition Team (O.E.T.) operating out of Sigil. O.E.T.’s are city-funded adventuring parties that head out into the Outlands and restore balance to situations that arise there. When they return they sit down with the community where they live and discuss the philosophical and moral implications of their choices.

    “I just want to point out that outsiders entering a community to restore some idea of balance is colonial nonsense that is harmful to the world.”

    “Do you attend every O.E.T. community discussion to say this?”

    “Yes, I do.”

    “Fair enough. So noted…”

    I rolled up the adventure and mapped out an outline using the Trophy Gold incursion structure (more on that in a future blog post). The players were heading to Xaos, Portal City between the Outlands and the Ever-changing Chaos of Limbo to stop a god-feud happening there. Gods from a dead Prime Material World were feuding and causing problems.

    I decided that there was a rival group of assassins known as the God-killers on their way to Xaos to kill the feuding gods. I wasn’t sure of much else about them. Would they get there first or show up later to heighten the tension? Not sure.

    I rolled on the Encounter Table for their first day of travel.

    Lost Souls…Dead Adventurers. I think my encounter just told me that the God-killers are dead.

    INTERESTING. I did not see that coming.

    The gods heard about them and panicked. They set aside their differences for a bit, made sure they were killed and then went back to their in-fighting. If the players find out that they set aside their differences once, they can figure out how to get them to do it again.

    It also was a nice way of giving an info dump because assassins who call themselves the God-killers definitely did their homework.

    One of the God-killers was a Tiefling and asked Kuru the Halfling Thief to burn some incense at the shrine to Asmodeus back in Sigil. Love it.

    For the next day, I rolled a 12.

    DRAGON. Whoa.

    On the third d6 I got a 6. The dragon is taking treasure. Cool. But from who? I rolled again. I could’ve chosen but I was curious to see what the table would say.

    Merchants. Makes sense. More simple than a dragon mugging an angel but sometimes simple is good.

    I described the players arriving to a one-inn town with a merchant caravan leaving as a thunderstorm began. The players noticed right away and asked the inn-keeper why they were leaving into a storm. She told them that the caravan had a delivery that was time sensitive (what was that about? I’m still not sure and I’m not sure I ever will be) and so they left despite her warnings. She said that the storm wasn’t natural and they were leaving into doomful circumstances.

    The next morning as the players were leaving, lightning-scorched survivors from the caravan were in the common room, talking about how they survived a dragon attack the night before. The blue dragon had attacked the caravan and pillaged its treasures before flying away.

    I decided the rest of the journey went by without a hitch. I roll every day or two of travel.

    Why did I roll these encounters? There weren’t any fights.

    That is okay. Friendly and neutral encounters are fine. We’re into our third session. It fleshes out the world. I get to learn about what the characters are like.

    The players could’ve gone after the caravan and talked them into staying. They could’ve decided to hunt the blue dragon. For now it is just color.

    Sometimes I roll. Sometimes I choose. Sometimes they players sprint headlong into a brewing situation that has nothing to do with the oncoming adventure. Sometimes they hang back and smoke a pipe in the rain, under the eaves of the inn. Sometimes the players’ actions make something on (or off) the table obvious, so the encounter for that day is taken care of. Sometimes they get the jump on the encounter and other times they encounter will get the jump on them. It all depends on the circumstances and what the fiction demands.

    I’m not calling them random encounter tables anymore. They’re Inspirational Encounter Tables.

    I wrote up 2 pdf’s with Inspirational Tables in them. Please check out Silver Swords of the Lich Queen or Raven Queen vs. the Ghoul King to see more.

    https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?author=Judd%20Karlman

    Back in Sigil

    Sigil, City of Doors with a cool pic

    What is happening?

    After 4 hours of play we’ve got one level. They decided to give it to Bugwump, the frog-kin wizard, whose spell slinging was key to the group’s success in their first job in Keymont.

    On their way back to Sigil, I rolled Godless Pilgrims. I decided they were refugees from a dead world, killed by warring gods. They had hired holy knights from the Outlands to guard them on the last leg of their journey. I rolled Ioun, so they were arcane knights. When the thief, looking for an opportunity for another score, asked how they had paid for these leal bodyguards I said that they had done so by giving books from their world, the last of their kind.

    The corpseflea is a neat option from the Five Torches Deep Origins supplement. It is a death cleric and is helping the pilgrims to say last rites over their world, first talking to them about their world. “How do you say last rites over a world?” is one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to say while gaming in a long time.

    The group met when they were all sentenced to the Labyrinth. Now they are an Outlands Expedition Team, officially sanctioned by the Lady of Pain, heading out to deal with imbalances that crop up around the Outlands. We’ve been using some flashbacks to strange things that happened while in the Labyrinth.

    “I remember when we got attacked by that Bear back in the Labyrinth and Trundle talked the beast down. Trundle should talk to the town.”

    How is the Bingo XP Variant?

    I like it. It is a little slow so far but I think it’ll speed up with a few levels all in a jump. When bingo is called, I’m keeping any chips that are in another line that is in motion already.

    I like it and like coming up with new ideas for bingo squares with the group. I wonder if the XP will speed up as we get better at coming up with them.

    Having the jamboard where I keep the bingo card also be where we keep character art and NPC names might help us all interact with it more.

    Planescape

    It is coming together as we make it our own. Next game will be our first full session in Sigil. We’ll carouse for three days and then have a community discussion about the expedition to the Outlands. I want that philosophical vibe that the original Planescape boxed set promised. Essentially, that’ll happen by the community that hosts the O.E.T. (Outlands Expedition Team) gathering to discuss the morality of their decisions in an open forum. Discussion

    And then we’ll pick the next expedition.

    Mechanics

    Five Torches Deep is a fun and fast D&D variant. If I had to run D&D, it is what I’d use, without a doubt.

    I’m using Moldvay reaction table with Charisma adding to the roll when it makes sense to do so. I’d imagine the way I’m using the proficiency checks is very Apocalypse World-y. When the halfling wanted to know more about the knights guarding the pilgrim, I asked the player to roll a Charisma check to see what they noticed. When they rolled successfully, I told them to ask questions about what they wanted to notice during the interactions and I’d answer them.

    Need to be careful about that, don’t want those cool questions to get in the way of players questions should be asking all of the time.

    I realize now I’m using stats as different types of perception, rather than just using Wisdom. Charisma as a kind of social perception? I dunno. Hm, we’ll have to discuss that and make some decisions together.

    Who?

    I’ll go over the characters in the next post-game AP post. It is an odd group but I don’t have trouble finding the humanity in them and I dig that.


    https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games

    This design and more in the

    TTRPG Collection.

    Revisiting Planescape

    I’m running a Planescape game tonight using the Bingo XP Variant and Five Torches Deep and here’s what I sent to the players and a Portal move inspired by AW: Burned Over.

    I have no idea if tonight’s game is going to work. It has been a minute since I’ve played a d20 D&Dish game. We’ll see! Thank you for giving this a shot with me.

    Planescape was this cool setting where the game implied in the boxed set was this city at the center of all worlds and the players take part in these oddly philosophical factions as they venture out into the Outlands and adventure. The adventures in the Outlands were supposed to ripple out into the rest of the planes of reality.

    Made by me with Affinity Design, inspired by the map from the 3E Manual of the Planes Outlands map by Todd Gamble

    It seemed to me that NO ONE PLAYED IT THIS WAY. Everyone was excited by this city and ended up being a bodyguard for a dwarf crime lord with fire for hair or doing security for an ogre opera house. I dig that but I’ve done my faction-minded fantasy crime saga stuff already. So, I’m trying to play it this way. – into the Outlands.

    When folks go out into the Outlands in our game everyone knows. Word gets out. It is DANGEROUS out there. You could get dragged to hell – literally dragged to hell. In our game there is no money nor fame to be made in Sigil. Real fortune is made in the Outlands (and of course we’ll visit Hells or Heavens or Elemental Planes of Fire as needed). The cool thing about Sigil, the City of Doors, is that you can get anywhere from here. If you are interested in a world you learn about on your adventures, opening a gate is something anyone can do if they are willing to expend the will and time to do so.

    When you get back from your adventure the philosophical factions will gather in a plaza near where you live and debate your actions with you. No judgment, just a spirited debate on how this made the planes better or worse. It is a big event. Everyone gets dressed up.

    But first an adventure…

    Thank you for playing.

    Image by Peter H from Pixabay

    When you want to find a portal to another world, sit down with your friends and figure out everything you all know about this place and how you learned it. Consider your sources. If anyone you know might know more, invite them to this palaver.

    Names, anything made in that place. Lay it all out on the table. Where in the planes are you guessing this place might be? Make a map of the planes as you understand it and put your guess on the map.

    NOTE: I’m not saying sit down and make up a place. I’m saying you must’ve heard of this place in-game. Sit down and discuss that before heading through the portal to otherwhere.

    What do you have that could be a key to this place?

    The DM will saying, “Sure, you could try to get there but…”

    • your guess as to where this place is in the planes is a little off, you’ll end up somewhere dangerous but nearby
    • you need more lore about this place, you’ve heard X knows about this or has info on it
    • you need an item/spell/artifact made from this place, in the Outlands, there is a place that you can get more
    • you need more items made from this place, it is going to cost you a devil’s ransom in gold
    • someone else in Sigil or beyond wants to go there too and you’ll need to pool your resources to open the portal

    Inspired by Tinkering in AW Burned Over by Meguey and Vincent Baker et al.

    I’ve got an adventure outline, taking what I’ve learned from a year of Trophy Gold incursions, written by me, written by others, adapted from modules and turn it towards Outlands adventures.

    Incursions for Trophy Gold? Here ya go.

    What the eff is Trophy Gold? We’ve got a podcast all about that.