Friday, February 17, 2023

Current Campaign and OGL Fun

So how have you been these past several years?

This group has gone through several campaigns and our roster of players has ebbed and flowed.

The first 5E campaign I ran went to level 20, and after that someone else ran Curse of Strahd.

That campaign started off strong with the DM doing a good job and trying to create an atmosphere for the gothic horror flavor of it. But he also stretched himself too thin. It wasn’t too long before his sessions were “meh”.

He ran two other groups through the module simultaneously and had an active life doing other things. Towards the final chapters of the module we were only playing once a month. And that is not good for the health of a group that wants to play every week.

By the end the group was not the same. Not solely because of him, he was just one factor among several. That is something I may talk about another time.

Soon the group was only 3 players, so I went on a recruiting spree for local in-person gamers on Reddit and had a full group again. Some wanted a different kind of game, so it shrank and grew.

We had some good players. Like Nick who was a college kid and watched Critical Roll and wanted to try it out. But he was a college kid and we played on Friday nights. He didn’t want to quit but his last session was a good one and I think he enjoyed himself while he was playing. And there was Mike who wanted a different kind of game, but he added to every session he attended.

Then we had some bad ones…

Like the guy who we ended up having to walk on eggshells because he got grumpy too easily. For someone who didn’t like to talk politics, he talked politics a lot. He eventually stormed off after someone told a Jay Leno style milquetoast joke that can be told with every new president. He was not missed. In fact, we checked to make sure he didn’t come back armed.

And the guy who was a min/maxing munchkin and hated it when the DM tried to make things challenging. He would exploit weaknesses in the game and think he was clever. And when I would nerf one of those exploits, he would whine like it was a personal attack on him. I was quite upset one day when he avoided an encounter because it would cost him gear (rust monsters – my favorite). But I used that as a springboard for a very good role-playing situation that actually had another player (not PC) feel guilty for some things that happened. I finally lost my temper after he tried to force a change in the game because he made up a reason why his character wouldn’t risk himself. I didn’t look good, but in the end I had to boot him because his antics were causing other problems as well. He, of course, did not see anything wrong with what he was doing because it was within the rules of the game. Munchkins and power gamers rarely see themselves in the wrong.

There would have been more roster changes had Covid not forced us to switch to a VTT (Roll20).
Dale lives over 1500 miles away. So he’d have to quit if we didn’t stay online only.
Joy (his daughter) moved far away as well and recently joined us since we were online.
Michelle (Joy’s friend) joined us shortly after that.
Cameron joined us when he lived in Cinci but has since moved several states away.
Jessie (a longtime friend of Dale’s and mine) joined us recently. He gamed with us back in the 2E days. He’s a Cinci guy as well.

As for the current campaign it’s only started a few sessions ago and I’ll expand on it in another entry. Right now, they’re only in the early stages of it so it’s boring low level monster stuff while they figure out how things work.

When the current OGL drama hit, we had to decide if we were going to continue with 5E or if there was another game we wanted to try. A few rose to the top of the list due to online reviews and some experience a few of use already had.

I did not relish the idea of reading hundreds of pages of several gaming systems’ rules.

I was actually in favor of going back to BECMI, but I think I was mostly alone in that. Sure I could have convinced a few of them to give it a try because BECMI stuff was so …well basic, that it would be easy to modify to get what you want out of it.

But luckily WotC capitulated (for now) by realizing they burned all their gamer cred for a gamble on something that I consider a pointless risk (making their own VTT, which I talked about in my previous entry).

So we are going to work on things we can do to 5E to increase its speed of play and also add some things to it to get some of the flavor those other games gave.

For players I’ve asked that they have their turn prepped up before their turn hits. And if it’s a spell being cast, make sure they know that spell thoroughly enough. If you have to whip out the PHB during your turn, then I’m going to grumble (there are exceptions but you know what I mean).

For me, I’m going to batch monster initiatives. I don’t want all the monsters going simultaneously because that could be an easy win for the players or an easy loss too. If there are 20 goblins and all 20 go first, that a huge risk for the part. If they go last, it’s like much easier for the party.

Maybe I’ll take one of the few things I liked about 4E, minions, and bring them back. (Spoiler alert, I did. And it made running goblins so much faster.)

Another change is that there is a cost for going below 0hp now. We have semi-adopted the supposed 6E exhaustion system (-1 to attacks, saves, and skilled for every level of exhaustion). And if you drop below 0hp, you get a level of exhaustion. Each round you make a death save like normal, but if you fail you get another level of exhaustion. At 10 of those levels, you die. If someone gives you a 1d4 heal, and you get knocked out again, that repeats the cycle.

This removes the poor tactic in 5E that I call the Chumbawumba Effect. That’s when you get into combat, get knocked down, then the healer heals you with a low-level spell to get you up again so you can attack on your next turn. Then you get knocked down again, minor heal spell. Then you get up again and attack. Then you get knocked down again. Rinse, repeat.

With that small change it prevents what I consider an exploit bug in 5E. And don’t worry, I have added several ways to remove exhaustion (long rest gets rid of 2, once per day you can use a hit die to remove one, restoration type spells, potions, etc.).

We are working on other ideas as well and I’ll talk about those another day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What's up?

So it has been over 7 years since I updated this blog.

Time and the will to do it were the main inhibitors. Family life plus job did not leave a lot of time unless I forced it. And if you do that enough, something you do for relaxation turns into an un-fun job.

But I’m here because I have a little more free-time and feel like it again. I doubt I’ll be doing it regularly but eh.

The group is still together though it has changed with several people coming in and out over the years. Most left due to life, one left due to me being a prick, one left shortly before being booted, and one I booted because he couldn’t stop being a munchkin. There’s still Dale though.

We play on Roll20 now. Initially it was for the obvious reasons. Now it’s because half the group is spread out across the country (Dale is in Arkansas). I should probably change the group name now, but I’m not going to.

As for what we play now, it is still 5E. It’s still a solid game, but it’s lost its shine as of late.

And that is mostly thanks to WotC’s recent OGL bs.

I mean there are some definite problems with 5E:
- AC is too exploitable.
- The combats still take forever.
- The amount of work the DMs need to do is still too much.
- The game cannot easily be altered without breaking or nerfing something else.
- WotC’s modules have sucked hard for 5E. The most loved one (Strahd) was painful to play in and run.
- The game is catering too much to newer fantasy…which is mostly my problem but if you want to play a Tabaxi at my table, no.

We’ve been playing on Roll20 since the pandemic began, and while it is a reasonably easy tool. I pay the $5 a month to get dynamic lighting which I really like. But setting it up is still work, not a lot of work but when you have to do a little here, and a little there, suddenly you’ve spent 2-4 hours for a map that may only be used for an hour.

And WotC wants to monopolize virtual tabletops?


Because they want to monetize it?

How, by making us pay for skins for our characters?

Are they going to sell those in online special random packs like Magic cards?

Several years back Aaron (no longer with the group) joked about buying PHBs with randomized classes inside like a Magic pack. I bet he’s regretting that joke now. “Sweet, I got paladin finally!”.

But here’s the real kicker, D&D Beyond as a VTT is not going to be what you want unless you spend big bucks buying pre-made maps and modules.

The amount of time it takes to build a Roll20 encounter is minor compared to how much time it will take to build something in D&DB.

Remember Neverwinter Nights 2?

I do.

It was supposed to be something akin to building modules and adding monsters for your group to be able to play in like it was almost a tabletop.

But that’s not what happened.

If you wanted something special you had to spend hours writing the code to have all the special rules for each and every thing in the game to act as you wanted it to.

Now if you wanted to make a map with various kobolds to act as the AI is already programmed to act, then you are probably good to go.

But what if one kobold is supposed to be different. How much time will that take to code?

And we all know that AI is exploitable. Someone will notice that when you do X in a game, the AI automatically does Y. “Hey paladin, go over there and dodge while we sneak over to this tile here. The AI will not switch targets and we can kill it with no damage.”

And I’m not going to go that deep into the OGL. I don’t believe it should be legal for WotC to do what they’re doing, but unless someone is willing to push back in a court of law and get a clear answer from the legal system, WotC will get what it wants.

Large corporations seem to get whatever they want anymore don’t they?

They’ll get what they want and it will cost them.

They are going to lose all the smaller companies that support them with ancillary products.

They’ll monetize things and get all the newer players to pay for everything monthly and/or with microtransactions.

The current online numbers I am hearing is that D&D made them $150,000,000 last year. And they are wanting to turn it into a $1,000,000,000 system.

It won’t happen.

Maybe they’ll increase the annual money made by the game, but they’re going to lose out in the end.

They overpaid for D&D Beyond with the goal of turning D&D into an online system where your phones and tablets have all your information.

They have made an overcomplicated game that encourages you to work with D&D Beyond with the illusion of saving money (don’t spend $50 per book when you can pay $10 a month) and getting the convenience of never having to have your character sheet with you.

I expect the release of One D&D will be repeat the schism that happened with 4E’s poorly done game (those were some beautiful books though weren’t they?).

They’ll lose the older gamers who know that all you need is the books. Maybe they’ll go to OSR gaming, or Pathfinder, or whatever.

Well, I’m old, nostalgic, and remember when it took less than 15 minutes to make a level 1 character.

My group is going to look online for simpler pastures.

And that’s what I told WotC in their recent survey.

They’ve lost the faith I had in them to be the company that lead my fantasy rpg-life.

The kicker, those in charge of WotC and Hasbro will be gone in 2-4 years but others will be left with the mess to clean up. And the shareholders will scream “You messed this up!”.

Maybe then they’ll make 7E and lure all the people back who left, like what happened with 5E.

And the cycle will repeat again.

Friday, July 10, 2015

My First 5E Campaign Session 6

This session was pretty much just combats.

I’m pretty much using this campaign to figure out things about 5E. Once I get a good baseline understanding of how the game works, I can then allow for other options and what not from non-core sources.

So far I’m finding that the classes are decently balanced, but no so much as to be boringly similar, like how 4E got with its bloat of classes.

I’ve yet to see if I’m giving out too much in the way of magic items.
75% of them at this level are temporary ones, such as potions and scrolls, and healing potions are about half of the items overall. (And trust me, they get used.)
The remaining 25% are simple +1 weapons, a +1 shield, and a Wand of Magic Missiles (and yes, I don’t count that as temporary given how it works).

This session was basically a transition night to go from the “Newton zone” to the “Franklin zone”. I’m using a spreadsheet to deal with choosing monsters and giving the right amount of treasure. These transition sessions are what I’ll be doing to balance the treasure the party has earned versus what it’s been given.

I could be more complicated, but it’s not worth it.

Justin was not at this session. Between work, college classes, and camping weekends he shows up about half the time. This will allow for me to see if people lagging behind in levels are as much of a drain as they were in 3E.

In 3E, if you were 2 levels behind, you were often a liability. Hopefully with 5E’s less steep power vs. level incline, it won’t be an issue.

Aaron played Rhoanel, half-elf bard
Dale played Rumi, wood elf monk
Everett played Markus, halfling rogue
Craig played Knox, half-elf sorcerer

Justin’s Cedraic, half-elf ranger, was off scouting while the party risked their lives.

We started in Newton where the party had just seen the meteor fly overhead.

It was obviously the talk of town and everyone had their own interpretation of what that meant. It was a messenger of doom, a sign of good times, and so on.

They stopped at Tonus’s house for a chat, but he was mostly playing the senile old man bit where he’d say one thing, then forget the whole conversation a minute later.

When asked about the meteor he said “It’s about time that thing showed up.” When they pressed further he said “What? Huh? What meteor? There was a meteor?”

So the party left town and walked along the road to Castle Franklin, reportedly a five day journey.

This party found a way to make that 7.

Their first night they were attacked by shadows, and that scared them quite a bit. Luckily the strength drain goes away after an hour.

They had to rest extra long to make up for the lost rest.

A day later they saw a sign for chicken crossing, except the chicken’s shown to have a lizard tail in the picture. They decided to travel faster on the road, but they didn’t know that this road was a railroad and they were promptly attacked by a flock of 10 angry cockatrices.

In a fit of horrible rolling by both Dale and Aaron, Everett and Craig, the two newest members of our group, had to fight 6 (maybe it was 8) of the remaining cockatrices alone.

And they did it.

Knox spent his time avoiding getting hit, while Markus did the damage to finish them off one at a time.

And the DM anticipated this fight may have had a bad ending, so he had a force of knights and their retainers show up 5 minutes after the last cockatrice was killed.

The knights informed them that their now-solid companions would be back to normal in a day.

The knights then road off towards Castle Franklin on their own quest to join some warlord.

Once the fully flesh and bone group got moving again they came to a pile of villager and orc bodies blocking the road. When Rhoanel went up to investigate, an ogre burst out of the pile while hidden orcs appeared on the sides of the road.

The party killed the ogre in 1 round. The orcs fled.

And finally they started seeing some farmlands instead of open grasslands.

And they found a quick dispute between a farmer’s daughter and her parents. She was running away to be with her boyfriend because she loved him and stormed off.

They pleaded with the party to help their daughter. She wasn’t acting normal as the man she was supposedly in love with was a known thug “Slick”, who had been causing problems with his gang of bandits recently.

The party was given directions to where the girl went and found the cave hideout.

Long story short, the bandits did a lot to stop the party and harass them when they could, but it wasn’t enough.

And they found the love potion that Slick had given the girl. Once he was dead, the potion’s effect ended.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

My First 5E Campaign Session 5

This session was a full one.

Welcome Craig to our group. (Note: Craig is not the guy we invited then uninvited.)

After a chunk of time of just a few players, it’s good to have a good sized group.

5E, I think, is slowly gaining traction. Pathfinder is still strong, but a lot of people are giving 5E a try.

The biggest complaints seem to be a lack of options and low level lethality.

A lot of people see the number of books in Pathfinder as a problem. It’s hard to get new players into a game like that if they have to buy and read a ton of books to make a PC as good as everyone else at the table.

So I’m thinking that since 5E is new, and PF is losing its more casual players to the more rules-light 5E, Pathfinder is going to have to change somehow.

It should be interesting to watch 2 different versions of D&D fight it out.

Though I still think that 5E could use more monsters and an SRD/OGL.

So for the first time in a long while, our table was full with five players and a DM.

Aaron played Rhoanel, half-elf bard
Dale played Rumi, wood elf monk
Everett played Markus, halfling rogue
Justin played Cedraic, half-elf ranger
Craig played Knox, half-elf sorcerer

Everyone is level 3, and a few are painfully close to level 4.

This night was a mostly combat night, though the group did their best to role-play. Unfortunately the DM set up the situation that what they tried to role-play was doomed to fail.

We last stopped with the Rhoanel, Rumi, and Marcus in Newton and Rhoanel wandering the wilderness (with an -away/afk- tag over his head).

The quests the party had remaining to take care of were making sure that boat travel was made safe again, and making sure that a side road leading to Pirate’s Bay was made safe again.

Two very similar quests with quite a lot in common.

The party started with the path and met Cedraic and a few moments later Knox arrived.

Justin: “You have your name floating above your head. You must be a PC.”
(There was some small actual role-playing, but what Justin said was probably more correct.)

So the 5 PCs travelled north along the slightly overgrown road, which became more and more overgrown the farther they traveled.

They saw a bear along the way. It saw them. They made a bunch of noise and looked big and it ran off.

Then they travelled north some more, until the road all but disappeared into wilderness.

They kept going and began to see things out of the corner of their eye that disappeared when they looked.

At one point they took a step and a ball of light appeared behind a tree. Then they took another step and it was gone.

The sounds of nature also seemed to be a bit less cordial and a bit more feral.

Then they came to a sign saying “Keep Out!” with an old shack several dozen feet away.

They slowly moved forward, ignoring all potential illusions until an old woman came out of the shack to yell at them to “Go away!”

All attempts to parlay with her were met with “Go away!” or something similar. When it came to a stalemate of actions, she attacked, as did her pets in waiting.

Some of the party was surrounded by several blights of all types with the old woman, a green hag, turning invisible until she had a chance to attack a weak target. The rest of the party was scattered about.

A few PCs went towards where the hag was while the rest dealt with the blights.

Knox thought he’d be ok being close to a pair of vine blights, but he was quickly dropped to negatives (even with several of us saying “Are you sure?”).

But the party won after they got their bearings.

Then they set the house on fire…before searching it for treasure. Oh well.

With that quest completed they returned to town and got their reward. Then they rested and headed towards the pier to figure out how to take care of the creatures destroying or damaging shipping boats.

They still had the boat from the last session, so they scouted around walking on the beach, searching the area, and finally they returned to town and bought fishing gear.

Eventually, toward the latter part of the day, a mermaid appeared to them and they began talking.

The mermaid admitted that it was her damaging the boats because she didn’t like them. As she talked further talking with the party, they got her to agree to stop doing it, but she would need them to come to her cave to sign the proper papers.

The party thought it was odd, but agreed to follow her to her cave.

As she swam ahead, Rhoanel decided to try to cast Read Thoughts, and it worked.

She was thinking “I’M HUNGRY!”

So that ruined that role-playing too.

One of them tried to get in the water to deal with her directly, so she showed that one her true face (that of a sea hag) and then swam off to her lair and prepared for their coming attack.

The party eventually found her mostly submerged cave and spent a lot of time scouting it out invisibly before attacking.

Their scouting revealed her and 8 giant crabs, but it did not reveal the hidden squid in the water.

The party spend a fair amount of time preparing, and they tried to go in unison to the cave but their swim checks prevented that.

So they entered the combat nearly one at a time, which made it rough on the first people to enter the combat, but thanks to their good saving throws and my horrible rolling, this fight was a wash.

So they got their treasure and returned to town to get their reward and a few bonus hit points.

The next morning they woke up, heard an odd explosion and looked overhead to see a meteor streaking across the sky.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My First 5E Campaign Session 4


Proof that player interviews are not 100% full-proof.

We invited a guy to join us, and then uninvited him.

Let me just say that his role-playing style didn’t mesh with ours.


I could explain more, but I don’t want to. I lost sleep over this one.


Justin was out this night, and it was a mostly combat night.

Aaron playing Rhoanel, half-elf bard (level 3)
Dale playing Rumi, wood elf monk (level 3)
Everett playing Markus, halfling rogue (level 3)

We last stopped with the party travelling to the cave opening on the small flat land section of The Shield Wall. (Since Cedraic wasn’t there, we role-played him just guarding or scouting around.)

When they got near the cave opening, they noticed a small rowboat (4-6 people), pulled up onto shore.

When they listened at the cave entrance, they heard humanlike voices.

So they went inside and attempted to chat with them. Well the response didn’t thrill the party.

There were 5 humans in robes investigating the back of a carved out room in the Shield Wall. The place they were investigating was what appeared to be a hole that had been closed not that long ago (no dwarf or similar skills around to help more with that). The humans had chisels and hammers.

The 5 humans said something to the extent of “Leave now and we’ll let you live.”

Note: they were lying.

When the party was halfway up the 150’ climb, half the humans attacked, aiming for the rope.

The party had to spend a lot of time trying to climb back down, and not fall.

Rhoanel used an illusion to cover the lower area in a fog, but that only impaired the attacks. The group of humans had a caster (actually 3 casters, but only 1 could attack at that time), and he spent his time harassing the party, including using a Command spell to make Rhoanel flee up the rope.

The fight took a fair chunk of time, and the party eventually won, but only after they made it to the ground.

Inside they decided to check the wall the robed humans were interested in. So they used the chisels to open it up.

On the other side was a more natural cave, with plenty of salt water smell in the air.

They grabbed a torch the robed humans used and descended into the cave.

First they found the remains of a person long dead, and now the home to lots of vermin (spiders and centipedes).

Further down they triggered a shrieker mushroom, which caused all the bats and other vermin in the room to spaz out, and thus get attacked (bat swarm, a couple of giant bats, and a giant centipede).

The 3 PCs made fast work of them. (Monks can be kick ass.)

The cavern split into a Y. The side the party investigated first was mostly full of small vermin that they did their best to not disturb.

The other side had another dead body, but this time when they searched it, they triggered a trap (without realizing it was a trap…woohoo secret DM rolling).

Four poisonous snakes surrounded the party and bursting forth from the body a swarm of smaller snakes attacked.

The party realized they need a tank sometimes, but what they realized more was that their rogue should not tank at all, as Markus left the fight with lots of bite marks. (And he is very lucky halflings get some poison resistance.)

Well they had been beaten up pretty bad, so they decided to rest for a moment and then move on.

When they came to a large cavern, filled with a lot of webs, they decided to head back to the cave entrance and took an 8 hour rest. The DM gave them a chance to see the candleholder they were after, but horrible perception checks stopped that. They saw it later anyway, just in the middle of the fight.

Well they thought they were going to be up against a spider. No, they were up against an ettercap. He was smart enough to prepare just like they were. So he was able to add a few more creatures to his side of the combat, and some more webbing to his lair.

Now they were up against the ettercap, who was hanging out on the ceiling webs, 4 giant wolf spiders (who attack the party once they’re halfway in), and the ettercap filled a couple of clay pots with some angry snakes (so he could drop them on the party).

The party crept through the lair, making their way through a maze of webs, mostly waiting for the giant spider they expected to drop on them.

Then several spiders jumped out at them and a clay pot dropped near them while the ettercap stayed up top.

The 3 PCs were fully rested and expected a big fight, so they tore up everything that came at them. When the ettercap came near them, he didn’t last 2 rounds.

After a thorough search, they grabbed the candle holder and any other treasures, and then returned to town.

They returned the candle holder to Talbert, but not before trying to read his thoughts with a spell. His thoughts were of relief and happiness. So the party made some gold and were happy.

Next session – a full group and some hacking and slashing.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My First 5E Campaign Session 3

Everyone was here this night. And we may have another join us soon (scratch that, since I originally wrote this the person who was going to join us has had his offer rescinded).

I was a bit more capable this session, able to think a little more on my feet instead of some “uh…um…er” moments like I had the week before.

I also handed out several magic items by the end of the night. I’m a DM that tends to put the good magic items and other equipment towards the big fight at the end. Of course I had the boss use the items, which can make things scary for the party.

I like that 5E is making sure the first couple of levels go kind of quick. I’ve never really liked the fragile low levels and tend to bypass them or make them go by quickly. The drawbacks of bypassing the lower levels are that you’ve not had a chance to grow into your PC and develop teamwork with the group, and you might be a bit overwhelmed if you bypass too much and have to deal with too many abilities all at once.

Aaron playing Rhoanel, half-elf bard (level 3)
Dale playing Rumi, wood elf monk (level 3)
Everett playing Markus, halfling rogue (level 3)
Justin playing Cedraic, wood elf archer ranger (level 3)
We started by fast installing Cedraic into the game.
He found his way to Newton and eventually heard about some people that sounded like Rumi and Rhoanel off to investigate The Overwatch. So he found his way there and did snuck into the place and found the party.

Unfortunately they did a bad job of being quiet about it. Between Rhoanel playing his music and the conversations by talking too loudly to each other, the goblin leader in the upper level of the place heard them. And Cedraic heard the sound of the door to the upper level being barred.

And then they all heard the all too familiar sound of a goblin battle horn.
And Cedraic was then not happy to see a large shadow outside of something flying, land on the top of the tower.

The group immediately got to work barring everything up and fortifying the place as best they could.

Within minutes there were at least two worg riding goblins circling the place and several other goblins hiding with bows waiting to shoot at a moment’s notice.

When the PCs took a shot through an arrow slit, the goblins shot back. The PCs killed a worg rider with this quick exchange, so the worg riders stopped circling and hid out of sight.

Then both groups waited.

After a time, the party decided to flee out of the backdoor.

The area behind the tower had a near mountainous section to it, with a giant vulture waiting for them with its keen eyes. It shrieked out a warning to its master and the goblins came running.

For this fight, there was too much for the party. So I staggered the goblins in. And that was still almost too much.

Round 1: 4 goblins in hiding, and 1 giant vulture
Round 2: 4 more goblins
Round 3: 2 worgs and 1 goblin (the other had been killed)
Round 4: 1 goblin boss and 2 goblins

The party pasted the vulture on round 1, so the goblins did the same to Rumi.

The next couple of rounds involved ranged attacks and maneuvering. And once again the party got a bit separated but Rhoanel was able to get Rumi back up.

By round 6 it was pretty much just some goblins and the goblin boss, and 4 very beat up party members.

Rhoanel goes up to the goblin boss and crits. The boss has a special ability where he can switch places with a nearby goblin and that goblin takes the hit. That goblin took 14 damage.

Three more goblins died thanks to that ability. Two of those 3 died by a crit as well.

The DM rolled poorly for the goblin bosses attacks, who was +8 to attack and did 1d6+7 damage thanks to all the bonuses it had. But it’s not like the party didn’t get hurt in the process. I think their total hit points were under 20.

They searched and collected their treasure (and finally got some real magic items).

Earlier, on his way to The Overwatch, Cedraic found the iron shipments; 10 carts full of iron bars and rods, with a lot of horse skeletons (stripped of meat by the goblins and the giant vulture).

Random encounter! I had the encounter chart set up already…and humorously they rolled the “Caravan of iron ore” encounter. This happened while the party was investigating the iron carts near the road, which made the initial bit of the encounter a little tense.

The party guarded the iron shipment and upon return to town they aided the return trip of the caravan to get the “lost” iron.

While the lost iron was being setup for the horses, Cedraic used the time to check out the stairs up the steep hills behind The Overwatch. At the end of the goblin boss fight, he found a wooden tower (or dread gazebo if you will). While investigating it he had made a nat 20 spot check he saw where the ocean and steep hills met, and what looked like a small landing at the bottom. While at town he bought out their rope (300’) and climbed down to investigate it more closely.

He found a small cave opening, but people were waiting on him, so he rejoined the group and noted this for later.

The party collected their rewards for getting rid of the goblins and returning the iron. And of course this added to their minor levels of local fame.

Quest reward: the party now received 5 temporary hp after a long rest for the duration of them being in this region, with a chance of that becoming permanent.

This made them targets for other people needing tasks done.

While Rhoanel was looking to buy a pearl, the jeweler, Merit, asked that the party check out the stories of sea monsters destroying boats to the point that no one would come to the town’s small pier.

While at the inn a few people approached them saying that there was a fork from the main road that some evil witch that kills anyone who enters her territory. Without a local militia, they’ve just stopped using the road.

A man named Talbert, from the church of Arimu, offers the party everything he has if they can find a golden candle holder relic he’s searching for. Legend says it was lost long ago in this area.

Rumors heard at the tavern:
- I saw a wrinkled old woman talking to a dead tree.
- The king fled from the capital to hide in his summer palace.
- The Church of Hallus is on another crusade, looking for some old cup or something.
- Old Merton is always looking for weird things. He once told me he’d pay 10 gold for live snake eggs. He thinks he’s going to train them or something.
- Mayor Sern is only mayor because I didn’t expose his secret about him being a warlock.

And they met a very old man named Tonus that many in the town are fond of. He mostly just sits on his porch and snoozes or watches. He was once a wizard, and was lucid enough to swap some scrolls for the party (something they couldn’t use, to something they could use…but random and of lower level).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My First 5E Campaign Session 2

Like all things 5E, this campaign is kind of laid back.

This is kind of a tester campaign. I’m using it to gauge how to balance 5E combats and other challenges, to test what the “proper” amount of treasure is (in magic items and gold).

When I first tried running a 3E campaign, it ended with me woefully overestimating the PCs. 2E monsters were a cakewalk compared to 3E. So I had a TPK on week 6.

So I’ve not invested as much role-playing data into the campaign.
It’s just a bunch of adventurers going about trying to do the right things (while killing monsters and taking their treasure).

And it showed this past week.

I was “off”. My excuse is that I’ve been exhausted and really need a vacation. (How interesting…I’m going on vacation soon. And why yes, gambling will be involved.)

This week we finally got a new player, and then Justin cancelled at the last minute.

So welcome aboard Everett.
He has played a few rpgs through the years, but mostly has played 4E, and we are his first 5E group.

Our cast:
Aaron playing Rhoanel, half-elf bard with aspirations to be a paladin (or fake it)
Dale playing Rumi, wood elf monk (female if that means anything to you)
Everett playing Markus, halfling rogue
(Justin would have played Cedraic, wood elf two-weapon ranger)

All PCs are level 2 at the start of the night, and level 3 by the end of it.

We stopped with the party having passed the dryad’s test, and looking for the village of Newton.

Cedraic scouted around and found the beach, making it a bit harder to get lost. Then he scouted out off and disappeared into my-player-isn’t-here-land.

Yes, these upcoming fights are generic and boring, but it’s the norm for level 1-3. I’ll more interesting things as time goes along; at least that’s my plan.

So we start with Rhoanel and Rumi traveling south along the beach for a ways until they hear screams for help.

They come upon 4 goblins threatening a pair of fishermen on a small pier.
Also responding to the cry for help was Everett, who’s been getting paid to patrol the roads.

The combat lasted maybe two rounds.
The three PCs did their introductions and swapped information.
Newton is only a few miles away.
Markus was also one of the soldiers to hold back the goblins, but his group managed to kill all the goblins and get back in time to flee on a boat.
The size of Newton has doubled thanks to refugees.
Newton hosts a large number of forges, in support for probable war.
The war has been quite good for Newton.

As the party is chatting, they hear another scream for help.

A middle-aged woman, Esmerelda, screams that there are goblins and rats in her house.

In true PC-RPG fashion the party kills the goblins and rats, and she thanks them and the party continues traveling about the road.

Random encounter!
That’s right I made sure to bring them back in true 1E fashion.

This was another pair of goblins each riding a worg.
The party played it smart and was lucky. No worg hit them, but the goblins got a few good hits in.

After resting for a few, they got back on the road and soon were in Newton.

It was pretty much what Markus said; a basic small town that has a few too many people.

The party rested a few days to level up and then the story pushed them along.

Between Markus, Esmerelda, and the fishermen, the party had become a good target to look to for help.

Most of the town’s soldiers have gone off to war. The few soldiers remaining guard The Overwatch, a tower protecting a fair section of the road.

Unfortunately for Mayor Hal Sern, The Overwatch has been taken.
And unfortunately for Leon, the head of the ironworkers guild, a shipment of iron bars has been delayed.
A scout sent out came back with an arrow, one of many he says, that were all about the place. The arrow looks like goblin-make, and reeks of goblin as well.
With promise of proper remuneration, the party heads out to The Overwatch.

Random encounter!
It was just a trio of monks heading to Newton.
Once the party confirmed there weren’t goblins under the robes, they moved on.

One thing about this group, they’re mostly set up for stealth. Leather armor or no armor equals no penalties for it, and poor rolling by the goblins, meant the party was able to sneak right up to the door.

And then they pounded it open.

Eight goblins were inside. Half of them didn’t survive the first round. The other half fled into a hole in the ground.
Three of the remaining four were killed in the next couple of rounds.
The fourth was able to open up some grates that held in some fire beetles and rat swarms before he was killed.
(Note: I feel like the rat swarms were done right in 5E.)
The party was mostly separated and they were forced to chug several of the healing potions I’d been giving them before they were eventually able to win.

And we stopped there.

So far I’ve given the party several magic items, but not a single permanent one.
Half of the items they’ve received are healing potions, with the other half being mostly scrolls, and a single Wand of Magic Missiles.

I’m hoping this is a balanced setup, and we’ll see soon.