Posts Tagged ‘Dungeons and Dragons’

Pekko Atlas Pt. 2

January 14, 2019

pekko

Triele
Humans 46% Half-Elves 24% Elves 10% Dwarves 12%
Half-Orcs 5% Halflings 8% Tieflings 6% Gnomes 3%

Triele is divided into four large regions with a central, land-locked seat of power and wealth. To the north are cold wildlands with mountains and cliffs on the northern and western coast. The northerners do not fit into civilization very well but they are loyal to the Kings of Triele. To the south are the majority of the farmlands, which feed the country and trade with Ukresh. To the west are the lands where there are predominantly merchants and crafters. To the east is a region of magic users and a center for raising a military and thus many schools exist there. The central capital city is where most of the wealthy reside. The King of Triele lives there and rules with absolute power. Curiously, the citizens of Triele have little use for money among each other and only deal with currency with foreign powers. They have developed an internal trading system that fulfills most of the needs of everybody. Therefore, the jewels and gold go to the capital.

Ukresh
Humans 35% Half-Elves 21% Elves 15% Halflings 12%
Tieflings 11% Dwarves 9% Gnomes 7% Half-Orcs 5%

Is ruled with absolute certainty by King Murat who lives in the castle-fortress in the Ukreshi capital. The royal family rarely leaves the capital and prefers to let their agents carry out their will throughout the land. These local lords have great leeway outside of the commands of the royal family and some use this to subjugate the people of Ukresh. Upsetting the king (or the lords for that matter) is completely unwise, as they have absolute power to punish the citizenry and often use it. This is also known as a land that birthed the traditional idea of witches. Covens of witches inhabit the wilderness against the government’s wishes. As a result of their rural upbringing, a witch’s looks range from rustic to absolutely filthy. Many villages rely on these witches and will ally with them in secret to protect them from the government in exchange for healing and magical favors. Also, the King has ordered tight security for the borders of the land which often makes things more difficult for trade caravans coming from Triele.

Astala
Elves 25% Half-Elves 21% Humans 19% Halflings 12%
Tieflings 11% Dwarves 9% Gnomes 3% Half-Orcs >1%

Astala is ruled from the Star Island far to the north and no army has ever made it that far north. In fact, most foreigners have never traveled that far north as it is cold there and most of the trading is done on the southern borders. In the southern parts, merchants are everywhere and most of them learn sign language in multiple languages as a means to communicate secretly with each other. In the far north are the hearty tribes who protect the capital and have often shipped out to fight Astala’s wars. In many places, there are hearty farmers who have to work hard to grow food in the northern land. There are also great hunters and magic users all over. Then there is the poison plains to the east, which are impassable and forbidden. There are some who live there, twisted creatures that are known as Drow but little contact is made with them.

Kuma-Jo
Elves 27% Half-Elves 23% Humans 21% Halflings 10%
Tieflings 7% Dragonborn 6% Gnomes 4% Dwarves 2%

Kuma-Jo has been ruled over by an Emperor (or Empress) since the days after the sundering of the continents. Many royal families have come and gone but the sanctity of the royal house of the empire has always been preserved. So has the code of honor that has been passed down from the honored ancestors of modern Kuma-Jo. The signature armor and weapons have not changed over the ages and their style has only been honed and refined as the years went by. The code of honor is very important to the warriors of Kuma-Jo (and the civilians too) much like the knights of Shera. Much of the culture of the island is dictated by ceremony and adherence to it (at least for outward appearances) is very important. Still, those who buck tradition are not necessarily outcasts but they do not quite fit into the culture as well. Local lords rule over divisions of the island and each is required to swear fealty to the empire and each new ruler.

Kusura
Elves 20% Half-Elves 20% Humans 15% Halflings 15%
Tieflings 13% Half-Orcs 12% Gnomes 4% Dwarves 1%

Kusura is fairly well known as the land of ninja assassins and there are many schools there where natives and some foreigners are taught the art of stealth and the silent kill. The schools each have a guild family as their patron which fund the school and decide the curriculum. These guild families rule the island nation by a council with a ruling figurehead. This ceremonial figurehead is decided by an annual test of skills that involve a champion put forward by each guild family. These guild families are also pretty strictly divided by race, each using their racial traits to aid their specialties. The guild families rarely cooperate with each other, preferring to keep private and cooperation is something that should cause alarm. Each family takes contracts and hires out their ninjas for riches or political favors. As one would expect, the island is eerily quiet and outsiders often find themselves intimidated by the deathly stillness practiced by every single denizen of Kusura.

The Crumbs
(The racial and cultural makeup is too varied and mysterious to be measured by any reliable census)

The Crumbs are a series of uncharted islands that stretch between the East and West Continents. They are called as such because people claim that the two continents were once one continent and they were broken in half like breaking a loaf of bread. Of course, all of the inhabited islands have names but nobody has bothered to chart them. There are so many islands that it is hard to navigate all of the channels and most people don’t bother and simply go around through the waters to the south. It is rumored that the pirate factions have maps or special magical artifacts that help to navigate the Crumbs in order to hide from the various naval forces of both continents. There are also indigenous people on certain islands but they tend to be pretty isolated from the rest of the world due to the difficulties of getting in and out of the Crumbs.

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DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 6

January 12, 2019

27 – What lore in Dungeons and Dragons are you most fascinated by lately?

Lately, I feel like I am most fascinated by the lore in Sigil since it is so mysterious to me. I feel like not a lot of people focus on Sigil since it is potentially incredibly dangerous and very abstract. Sigil basically feels like Wackyland felt in Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. It has a loose structure and a caste system but almost anything can happen there. It exists outside of the material plane, the inner planes, and the outer planes. It is its own thing and sort of a nexus of reality. Known as the city of doors, any door in the city can double as a portal to anywhere else. These portals need to be activated by a key but that key does not even have to be a physical object, it can be a word, a feeling, a spell, etc. Denizens of most any realm can randomly show up at any time either on purpose or completely by accident. I am still figuring out the society there as I have heard different podcasts approach it a little differently. It is at once wondrous and brutal as the diversity and exotic parts are beautiful but anything can kill you. There are also swarms of rats with psychic powers. At one point I was absolutely fascinated by the Lady of Pain. She is a masked god-like entity that protects and controls Sigil mostly through extreme violence and fear. Anybody who says her name or tries to worship her is horribly and painfully slaughtered by her. The idea of a goddess who kills any of her own worshippers is fascinating to me. She also never talks so people just had to figure all of this out through her violent actions and just hope that they did not somehow piss her off.

28 – What was the first time that you heard Dungeons and Dragons was ‘evil’?

Long before I actually played Dungeons and Dragons, I listened to a lot of comedy clips and watched a lot of comedy videos on the Ancient Internet. I was hanging out with a lot of older friends (as I do now) and they clued me into Dr. Demento, a radio personality who curated a large collection of weird comedy audio clips, most of which were songs. He was the guy who first discovered Weird Al Yankovic and helped him break into the business by sharing his early music. He also aired comedy sketches and one of them I stumbled upon was by a group called the Dead Alewives. Unbeknownst to me, I would later become a big fan of one of their members Dan Harmon who went on to create Community and co-create Rick and Morty. Anyway, they did a Dungeons and Dragons skit that parodied the idea that Dungeons and Dragons was somehow a dangerous activity for kids. The kids in the skit were just big dorks eating snacks and drinking Mountain Dew and making fun of each other. The point was that the game was far from the satanic recruitment device that people thought it was. This confused me. How could any game played with pen and paper be dangerous? It was theater of the mind and when the game ended, all of it faded away and people went back to being regular people. The idea that Dungeons and Dragons was dangerous was laughable to me and it continues to be laughable.

29 – First movie that comes to mind that you associate with Dungeons and Dragons?

Believe it or not, the first movie that comes to mind is something like Fast and Furious 7 or the Fate of the Furious. While the movies do not fit the setting of any Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I have ever seen, the tone definitely fits. A lot of Dungeons and Dragons is over the top with people doing ridiculous things all of the time. Dominic Toretto and his gang are like any good Dungeons and Dragons party. Each member has different backstories, different specialties, and personalities. As members of the party die or change alignment, they are replaced by new characters. For a group of people who were at one point thrown together, they have a lot of intertwining backstories. The tasks that the party has to complete get harder and harder each movie as their skills and equipment also improve. It really feels like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign where the players are constantly rolling high and the Dungeon Master is rolling poorly. Still, they keep coming up with new amazing spectacles peppered with witty dialogue. On top of all of that, Vin Diesel is a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan and still plays now and then.

30 – What’s the single most important thing you have learned while playing Dungeons and Dragons?

I would say confidence. When I started playing tabletop roleplaying games, I was very skittish about it and shy. I stammered and froze up while I tried to translate my great ideas into actions and words that came from my character. More than that, the fear made it so my brain would often just not work and I would try to get enough out to make the Game Master move onto the next person. Still, somehow I found enjoyment from it. As I continued to play, I became more comfortable with myself and confident that my ideas were not horrible and that the people around me did not hate me. In fact, they are now my closest friends. I started to get more aggresive at the table and more likely to share my ideas and speak up. I also was comfortable enough to really “drop in” to my character. Instead of relaying what I thought my character might do or say, I was able to channel my character more directly. Recently, when I started to take new anxiety medication, I made even more progress. I feel more at ease throwing things out there and seeing where they lead. I am also braver about making the hard choices and shooting from the hip when I need to. Afterall, it is just a game and overthinking things leads to unhappiness for everyone at the table. I look forward to gaining even more confidence as I have now really adjusted to my medication and I feel more at peace with my surroundings.

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 5

January 7, 2019

23 – Which is your favorite monster?

While it is not really in Dungeons and Dragons main purview, I really like vampires. Perhaps it is the goth kid and lover of Halloween that still lives inside of me. Vampires are so iconic and versatile but somewhat hard to fit into any old adventure. Still, I also really like that they are sentient monsters so their motivations can be explored and there is room for plenty of backstories. Most vampires are considered lawful evil by nature but that can easily be tweaked and homebrewed for more interesting storylines. I think of shows like Angel and Supernatural where a hero becomes a vampire and is able to stay good. Also, materials from other games like Vampire: The Dark Ages can be used to give more flavor to the character. Similarly, I really love the Hag. Having an old witch that trades favors or curses people like Ursula is a great toy to play with. They are also shapechanging characters with illusionary powers which brings up a lot of options. For example, having a coven of three hags like the beginning of Macbeth. They are too powerful for the party to take head on so they might have to do some errands for them at first or find a way to trick them. Basically, I have a soft spot in my heart for the creepier enemies in Dungeons and Dragons.

24 – What is a character outside of your comfort zone that you might play in the future?

I would really like to play a bard in the future. I know that I am an introverted person but, with the aid of my anxiety medicine, I feel like I am stronger than I used to be. I actually have a basis for a bard character that I may want to play in the future should it fit into what we are doing. A while back we did a one-shot set in a science fiction setting (which was not Dungeons and Dragons-based at all) but I played an android who was constantly handing out business cards and trying to drum up business while already on the job. If I were to play a bard it would be somebody like that. I think it would be fun to play somebody who is way into themselves and focused on their own branding. Maybe they will grow toward wanting actual respect instead of successful branding. Maybe instead they learn that fame is not what it is cracked up to be. Maybe they also learn the importance of teamwork and true friendship. There are many possibilities. If I were to be a bard, I would probably end up being from the College of Swords. If I was going to be an entertainer, it would make more sense to be a swashbuckler who entertains with feats of daring and action. I could also draw on stories from my brother’s experience as a fight choreographer in the character background. The thing I am stuck on is whether the character would be constantly rushing into battle or would actually be a bit of a cautious coward.

25 – What character have you been saving up to play in the future?

I always have a bunch of ideas in my head for what I could do in the future but the first one that comes to mind is the studious nerd wizard. Even though I have always been a good student, I have never been the A student who obsesses about studying and forgoes most other things. I have this idea in my head of a bespectacled young man who has studied magic hard and has been sent into the world to actually put it to practical use. Having lived in a theoretical world for so long, the real world would be jarring and it would be hard to find his nerve. I like the idea of a character knowing a lot of useful knowledge but never having had to use it and so there is a disconnect. Similarly, the character could be quite old. The character has spent a long time dicking around like Flynn Carsen in the Librarian. Having finally left academia, he is completely out of his element but still be supremely confident. I do not have much experience at that level of academia but I could draw on stories from my youngest brothers in his Ph.D. studies and also stories from other academics I have known. I also have not played any magic users yet in Dungeons and Dragons and I want to play with the complexity and versatility of a wizard. After the simplicity of playing a barbarian, I kind of want to play something where I have to worry about a lot of things at once. I guess that sounds kind of weird now that I have written it out.

26 – What was the first dragon your character slew?

After a long time idling in a small town, our cleric and druid revealed that they were being troubled by nightmare visions almost every night. Apparently, they had kept this a secret for quite a long time because it had not been so bad at first. However, the dreams had gotten worse and the dreams were threatening our party members’ sanity. The visions seemed to lead to a forest in the middle of nowhere that nobody had any experience with. When we arrived, we were confronted with an abandoned village and a sign that warned to stay away. This was when a lot of the party found out that my half-orc character did not know how to read. Of course, we were not going to heed some silly sign and we ventured into the creepy abandoned town. We fought a lot of plant-based creatures and my half-orc even got taunted by a tree and then, unfortunately, I rolled a one on trying to chop it down. It turns out that dragons in 5e have the innate ability to warp reality around them. Unbeknownst to us, a green dragon had taken residence in the town and slowly warped it into a poisoned wasteland. On reconnaissance, our druid successfully lured the dragon out of its lair which gave us a fighting chance. My character could not reach the flying dragon so I just hucked javelins at it the best I could, daring it to fight me. Instead, it nearly killed half of our party with its breath weapon and it was only a crossbow bolt from the rogue that brought it down. Of course, he brought it down on top of my barbarian’s head but I was still raging so it was fine. My character was so angry that he did not get the killing blow that he proceeded to slash at the dragon’s corpse over and over. Unfortunately, the dragon scale could have been used for our druid’s armor so… oops.

Pekko Atlas Pt. 1

January 5, 2019

Today we start exploring the eastern continent of Pekko across The Serpent Sea from the continent of Taldona.  Pekko has less violent changes in climate probably due to it not having as many magical calamities in the far-flung past.  It also has bigger kingdoms due to more stability in its early settlement.  I only have a few more lands to do and I will have completed my world’s atlas.  You can find earlier parts here and here for the western continent.

pekko

Ieshon
Dragonborn 68% Humans 4% Half-Elves 4% Elves 4% Dwarves 4%
Half-Orcs 4% Halflings 4% Tieflings 4% Gnomes 4%

Ieshon is a kingdom settled by the dragonborn shortly after the Great Conflict where they resolved to wait should they be needed again by their patrons, the dragons. Over time, most of them forsook the dragons and formed a civilized society. In Ieshon, many prejudices between chromatic and metallic dragonborn have died down but the blood still calls to both sides. Used to hierarchical rule, the dragons formed a rigid feudal society which is still followed in the present. Who rules the land is determined by bloodline and power. Bloodlines rule the people indefinitely unless they grow weak and another more powerful bloodline wrests control from them. Most dragonborn (and others who have come to call Ieshon home) live in large city-states surrounded by farmland. Regional lords control and manage their land while a king or queen rules on high. The overall ruler is usually a metallic dragonborn but many lords and ladies have been known to be chromatic.  The worship of Bahamut is very popular in Ieshon, even among chromatics as the desire for fun battle is strong in their culture.

Oochar
(An accurate census of races of Oochar is not remotely possible but pretty much every race is present)

Most of Oochar is covered in thick jungle, only cleared out in places where people settle. It is a hard-fought living in the jungles of Oochar and there is very little of what the rest of the world might call civilization. There is only one city and only because they needed a place for important meetings to take place and a refuge for the darkest times. The government is actually made up of a large amount of semi-nomadic tribes with each of them being autonomously governed. The tribes are fairly varied as they are somewhat isolated from each other and it is difficult to determine from the outside how many tribes there are and how big each tribe is. It is also hard for outsiders to deal with Oochar as a whole because you never know who you might encounter once you cross their borders. A diplomatic expeditionary group once went mad trying to track the comings and goings of all the tribes. Most other countries find it not worth their time to do anything but trade on the Oochar borders but the place is great for adventurers. There are legends of the tribes uniting for various causes but it is rare for it to be done. Many tribes leave their elderly or infirm in the capital city as a sort of retirement along with some diplomatic members (with the message spell).

Oskia
Elves 25% Half-Elves 21% Humans 19% Halflings 12%
Tieflings 11% Dwarves 9% Gnomes 3% Half-Orcs >1%

Oskia is a matriarchal society currently ruled over by Queen Lynna and Queen Calasi. It has long been a society that revered the power of women but never treated men unfairly and the men of Oskia always supported the right of rule of women. Their society is highly based on and dependent on magic. Druids shepherd the fauna and flora. Wizards design the buildings and structures. Sorcerers, warlocks, and bards protect the peace with magical might. Not everybody in the country is magical but all are encouraged to learn a little bit of magic if they can. It has given rise to a nation of mostly hedge wizards who may know a trick or two. It is how the small nation has stood out and survived, especially next to the somewhat dangerous nation of Oochar. The country is fairly temperate if a little hot sometimes but definitely a famously pleasant place to live. Historically, Oskia often takes the lead in diplomatic negotiations in its area (even when it’s not asked for). For some reason, there is a higher percentage of sorcerers in Oskia, perhaps due to the more frequent use of magic but it is unknown at this time. There is also heavy prejudice against half-orcs in Oskia and many are driven into Oochar or killed.

Treania
Humans 32% Half-Elves 21% Elves 15% Dwarves 6%
Half-Orcs 9% Halflings 8% Tieflings 6% Gnomes 3%

Treania is home to the three greatest ports of the continent and therefore is the local shipping capital. Most things that come from the other continent or the Crumbs touches Treanian soil at one point even if it is just a quick stop. This has made Treania a very rich land and those riches have in turn made Treania more dominant in world trade. Of course, immense wealth for the trade barons has led to a greater disparity between the haves and the have-nots. At a certain point, the middle class in Treania began disappearing and the economy boiled down to the aristocrats and the working class. The working class people are not serfs but because the aristocrats have so much money, they are often quite powerless in class warfare. The only way the system has remained stable is that the working class bands together while the aristocrats compete with each other. The have-nots tend to look after each other better and are often kinder yet hardier as a result. Treania has also spearheaded the hunting of pirates from The Crumbs as much of their economy depends on shipping.

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 4

December 31, 2018

19 – If you could choose any one spell to be able to cast once per day in real life, which would you choose?

In my life, I walk a lot. Until recently, I was working downtown and I took the train and walked to work every day and walked back at the end of the day. After that, I walked to the gym and back. I love to walk because it gives me more control than driving and it is good for me. Accordingly, I think I would pick a spell like Longstrider because it increases your movement speed by ten feet per turn. It would make it that much safer to walk to my destination and I could walk that much further on one of my walks. It also lasts a whole hour which is about the length of my longest walk. Similarly, I was also eyeing Misty Step. Walking in a city there are so many times where I am waiting to cross the street for a long time. This can make me antsy when I am short on time or closing in on being late for work. Being able to instantly appear on the other side of the street would be so awesome. Not to mention if I am in a tight spot, I can suddenly be up to 30 feet away. Yesterday (the 30th) I was in a big crowd and to suddenly be out of that crowd would be a blessing.

20 – What is your favorite legendary artifact or item?

Hands down it has to be the Iron Flask. The Iron Flask does not look like much but it is a very powerful item. It has the power to capture any being from another plane when you speak the command word. It basically turns you into a ghostbuster but you can bust way more than ghosts. The list of fun beings that you can capture with the Iron Flask is pretty long. Demons, devils, elementals, djinni, hags, planetar, and so much more can be trapped as long as they do not beat the wisdom save. The other part of the Iron Flask is that it binds any creature you catch in it to your will. If you catch something and speak the command word again, the creature will come out of the flask and it will obey your commands for up to one hour. There are so many uses for this. Horribly outmatched or outnumbered in a fight? You suddenly have a fire elemental who has your back. What if you need to know the plans of an archdevil who has a plan threatening a city? You can capture and command a devil to advise you how to outthink your enemy. There are just so many practical and story options that can be enhanced by a simple Iron Flask.

21 – What is your favorite dungeon type or location?

If I am understanding the question correctly, I would have to pick the Feywild. The Feywild is a crazy place. As the name would suggest, it is where the majority of faeries live and therefore it is infused with way more wild magic. Like the faerie legends of our world, the Feywild is incredibly dangerous. The plant and animal life are deadly, there is poison everywhere, the denizens are often actively trying to trick or kill outsiders, and the very landscape shifts around the players. It is very easy for players to get lost in the Feywild and that is so much fun because it gives the dungeon master so much control. It is an area where you can easily fit in fun side quests or dangerous fights without any collateral damage on the world they have created. In addition, when exiting the Feywild and going back to the material plane, the players can experience time dilation and/or memory loss. So it provides options for time travel and mindwipes. I think my second favorite location would be Sigil. Sigil is the City of Doors, an extraplanar location that is connected to literally everywhere else. As such it is a great big grab bag of every weirdo in any plane of existence. Any creature, race, or faction you can think of can possibly show up in Sigil. Like Feywild, it also provides a somewhat malleable and ever-shifting topography so it is really versatile as well.

22 – Do you usually like to take Ability Score Improvements or feats as you level?

I usually like to improve my ability scores because it helps more with crappier roles and improves overall stats. The last time I had the choice I leveled up constitution which made me heartier against things like poison and gave me a ton of hit points. As the tank, it made more sense than any feat. However, if I had been a more versatile character, it might have made more sense to take a feat. For example, a rogue with Dungeon Delver would have advantage on a lot of opportunities to detect traps and hidden doors which is often a rogue’s prime directive. I have thought if I played a monk that I would absolutely take the Grappler feat as a tribute to my love of professional wrestling. I also like the ability to be able to stop enemies in their tracks with the option to put them in the dirt to give the rest of the party an edge. I guess it all comes down to two things for me. The first consideration is always character. If it does not make sense for a character to take a feat story-wise then I will not take it. The other consideration is if I really want a fun new ability or edge to the character. So far, I have not taken a feat but that may change in the future.

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 3

December 24, 2018

14 – What was your most epic fail in a game?

It was with my character Bron and it is a story about turning an epic fail into a success. Our party was hatching a plan to infiltrate the thieves guild hideout in Waterdeep. It was apparently their headquarters and training facility. It was decided democratically to split the party and have the rogue, the druid, and the bard actually do the infiltrating. The party did not trust my half-orc barbarian or the dwarf in full plate armor to do a lot of stealth. The cleric and the sorcerer were tasked with babysitting us and causing a distraction. The distraction we decided on was for us to be riding a carriage which would have a mysterious breakdown outside of headquarters. Our dwarf paladin would make a fuss and we would hopefully draw away some guards to allow our team easier passage. Our rogue who was also a tinkerer failed his roll on sabotaging the cart to lose its wheel. We rode around the block while we tried to think of what to do. My barbarian got bored with that and decided to jump out of the carriage and just hit the wheel. It was not the best plan but it fit my character’s lack of patience. The bigger problem with calling this audible was that the carriage was still moving and so he jumped out of the carriage and was promptly run over by said carriage. The good news was that we now had our distraction as my now bloody barbarian lay in the street hollering at the cleric. It was one of those moments where I slapped my forehead and then laughed and shrugged. There were quite a few of those moments with Bron.

15 – What was your most epic moment in a game?

It was kind of a small moment but it happened during our second dungeon crawl. My barbarian was not with the rest of the group because he liked them. He took the original job posting because he was itching to fight again. He wanted to be challenged and show his might and power to the world. He stuck with the party because they kept getting into interesting fights where he could show how tough he was. When we went into our second dungeon, a hideout for a criminal organization, we happened upon a wizard who was up to no good. Confronted by seven adventurers he thought discretion was the better part of valor and he tried to run away. My barbarian was the first to get close to him and he turned around and hit me with a suggestion spell and told me “fight your friends”. I rolled high and shook off the spell and grunted “what friends?” and kept up the pursuit. It drew a cheer from the rest of the party and it was an exhilarating moment even though I have to admit to being excited about fighting the other PCs. I actually won two successful saves against suggestion in that dungeon which was great for somebody with an 8 charisma. It made me feel great to be able to succeed on a roll I was weak at. A little later, the rogue failed the same check but worded as “stop your friends” so he got to use less lethal tactics. My barbarian did not know what less lethal means.

16 – What is your favorite mundane item?

I would have to pick the torch. A lot of backgrounds throw them in for free but you do not always need them. For example, two-thirds of our party have darkvision and can navigate dark dungeons pretty easily. However, our rogue and cleric are helpless in the dark and tossing around a few lit torches can do wonders to level the playing field. Also, my barbarian is mostly good for slashing and smashing things. There are definitely monsters we have come upon that required a different approach. For example, the slimes we fought reacted to slashing damage by splitting into two slimes. For once, my barbarian actually used his head and pulled out a torch and swung at the slimes to do fire damage. It must have been memories of his warlock warchieftain using fire spells in battle. Such bittersweet memories.

17 – What is your favorite magical item?

It may be simple but I am a sucker for the flying broom. Maybe this comes from the fact that I enjoyed Wizard of Oz as a kid and I am such a big fan of Halloween now. Also, Strix of Dice, Camera, Action has a flying broom and it has given her so many tactical advantages. It also worked to similar effect for Vex’ahlia on season one of Critical Role. As with the Wrath of Khan, once you start thinking of the possibilities of three-dimensional battle, you are going to do so much better. Being able to fly avoids traps, helps solve puzzles, and keeps you out of reach of enemies. A wizard can more easily drop a fireball behind a crowd of enemies without harming their associates but also without as much risk. The imagery is difficult to resist as well, a character zooming through the air on a magical broom while the rest of your party has to walk. It just has a cool factor that I find appealing.

18 – If you could learn one cantrip in real life, which would you choose and why?

Honestly, I would probably choose Prestidigitation. While there are plenty of cantrips that are useful in battle situations, I do not find myself in battle often. Where I do find myself is going into the office every day. To go to that office, I must be dressed well and look presentable. One of the key powers of Prestidigitation is to clean one cubic foot of material. This means that I can magically dry clean my clothes while they are still on my body in case of a spill or stain. For a bonus, another power you get with that cantrip is the ability to heat or chill non-living matter. So, I would no longer need a microwave at work. It also gives me the ability to mark an object or surface with a color, small mark, or a symbol. So, it would make explaining what color something was or what something looked like without just using my words. Beyond that, the other cantrip I was considering was Mending. Mending allows you to fix a break or tear in an object up to one foot in length. So if I drop a plate or a light bulb, I can fix it as if I never dropped it. Old family heirlooms would be safe forever from accidental damage. All sorts of uses.

DnD Poetry

December 22, 2018

I have been out of town for a while now, working for a firm in West Virginia. Yesterday, I traveled back home to attend the funeral of a dear friend who we lost unexpectedly. He was part of our regular tabletop gaming group and an inspirational man and friend. I will miss him greatly as will my friends. My mind is a little distracted from mourning and wrapping tons of presents for Christmas (as a favor to my family). Here are some poems I wrote that I saved in my draft folder when I thought that I was going to do DnDCember this year. Instead, I have done D&D posts every month this year or at least that is how it feels. So here you go, horrible poetry. Be good to each other. There will be a post on Christmas and it should be happier.

But before that, I need to tell you about my friend Joe. He was part of the tabletop gaming group I am in which is how we met. He welcomed me into his home, fed me, and called me a friend when I did not have many in Baltimore. He was such a good man. He was rarely serious unless he needed to be. When it was time to goof off, he was there to lighten the mood and laugh louder than anybody else. Even when the joke was on him and, with his self-deprecating humor, he was a common target for gags in a group setting. He never let such things bother him and gave as good as he got if not better. When the chips were down, he was always there to help any way he could along with a smile. When our group went out to the movies, he was the one who bought the tickets. He was the ringleader and the touchstone for the group.

He was a doctor who worked in veterinary sciences and epidemiology. Something, I often forgot about because he almost never brought it up (except when he wanted to win an argument about animals). Of course, he is the same man who completely misgendered a cat he and his wife fostered. He was incredibly smart but never used that to make anyone feel powerless or inferior. To him, it seemed like it was just something he was good at, knowing we all have our strengths. Joe definitely knew his strengths and made the best of them. He used those strengths to create a family and an extended family made up of friends and coworkers. I would find it hard to believe anybody who said they did not like Joe.

What I will always remember are our endless pop culture discussions. We had differing views on music but we never clashed. My stance was that there is good music being made after 1990 and that automatically rejecting whole genres is close-minded. His response was to always just play his favorite songs from the seventies and eighties. He was a man who knew what he liked and I still respect that. He certainly knew his movies too even though he and the rest of our crew always drove me crazy by talking during the movie. I cannot deny his passion for life, love, and art. As a self-proclaimed poet, I loved that and I still love that. He was great to talk to about movies because even though I did not always share his opinion, I always respected that he had one. We certainly agreed on a lot and disagreeing was always more about fun to me than an actual argument. That is the personal thing between us that I will most of all.

I just wanted to let you all know just a fraction about him as we observe his passing.

Now the poetry:

The runes were written round and round
The staff of Elris the Shadow Hound
With a magic specialty in evocation
He protected a young version of our nation
From demon hordes and undead throngs
But not for fame, tales, or songs
And not for gems or any coin
It was not nobility he wished to join
He did it because it made him pissed
To see the land’s people so dismissed
From his fury he drew his power
In Eloria’s darkest hour
When the fight was at last won
He faded into the setting sun
Nobody knows where he went
Or even if he was godsent
All we know is that he was what we needed
So his lesson should indeed be heeded

Oh for an end to all the chanting of spellcasters!
Mumbling, stumbling, wordy Wizards
What if I was trying to be stealthy?
What then? Oh learned one?
Oh Master of Memorization
I am trying to sneak up behind our foe
Then you start speaking your silly spells and
The fight begins prematurely
How’s that for a big word, Oh Learned one?
It means that you started before I was ready
Ready to drive one of my blades
Between the shoulder blades of our enemy
The enemy that is now chewing on your face
While I fume here, trying to make the best of it
And yet you think you’re better than me
Smarter than me, maybe. But not better.
I have picked a thousand locks
Stolen countless treasures
While you sat at a desk and studied
And then you ruin the whole attack plan
Just goes to show that educated does not mean smart
Please don’t turn me into a newt again

There once was a dragon in Norway
Too big to fit through the doorway
While it raged outside
Inside did we hide
Because we lacked significant swordplay

Justice and Revenge
Justice is done in the day
In the night, revenge

Things in the Feywild
Shift and change all of the time
Keep your wits about

 

And, in honor of my friend Joe:

Please loot the bodies
Or else, how will we profit?
Gold is all we need

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 2

December 17, 2018

8 – What Is Your Favorite Player Character of Your Own?

He is named Bron. As you might suspect from the first part of this questionnaire, he is a half-orc barbarian. He was born to an orc tribe and has very little experience with other half-orcs. His mother was an orc, part of a marauding tribe that ransacked villages and killed wayfarers. His father was a captive human ranger. You do the math. He was bullied by the other members of his tribe but he proved his strength over and over. He was forced to raid villages like the others in the tribe by their warlock leader. He decided the only way to get respect was to become the leader of the tribe. However, the pureblood orcs saw this as an affront and killed him. At least, they tried to but a mysterious stranger calling herself the Noonday witch saved him and sent him toward Waterdeep for an as yet unexplained reason. There he experienced city life for the first time working as a bouncer, indulging his thirst for battle but only slightly. He jumped at a chance for adventure and he has since proved his might several times over. He started out Chaotic Neutral and grumpy but he has slowly accepted his party over time.

9 – If You Were a D&D character What Race and Class Would You Be?

I think that I would be a Wizard. I have always loved research and I think I would be great at memorizing and learning new spells. I would carry around my spellbook with pride. I am very good at memorization and I am a total geek when it comes to something I am excited about. Granted, I would probably not be an adventurer. I do not have a disposition for adventure in my own life and I definitely do not run towards danger. I have a good head on my shoulders and I want it to stay there. I would probably set up shop somewhere as an enchanter. It would also be a great chance to experiment with magic and try to find new ways of doing things. I think I would want to be a gnome. I have experience with being the smallest in the room and gnomes are generally better at being inventors. As I would not be an adventurer, I would have no need to be big and strong.

10 – If You Could Have A Stat Increase In Real Life, Which Would You Choose and Why?

I would have to say charisma would be my choice. It has always been my weak point as I have detailed on this blog before. If I had a better ability to speak to people and attract attention, I might get farther in life. I am sociable and I can make people laugh and tell a story but I feel like I do not stand out in a crowd and I am fairly forgettable. It would be nice to be just a tad more “famous” among my peers. My first attempt at a tabletop RPG showed me just how far I am from being a dashing bard even though I would love that life. A lot of the other stats can be increased through hard work. Wisdom comes with age, strength comes with exercise, and dexterity with practice. I suppose more constitution would not be a bad thing so I could be a little sturdier and hardier than I am.

11 – If You Could Take Any One Feat In Real Life, What Would It Be?

I think it would have to be the Keen Mind feat. Keen Mind allows for the following: “Your intelligence goes up by one point, you always know which way is north, you always know what time it is, and you remember absolutely everything you have seen or heard from the past month.” (Paraphrasing). Making it hard to get lost and being a human watch are definitely pluses but it is the final feature that attracts me. Having everything I have seen or heard for an entire month in a card catalog (ask your parents kids) in my head which allowed me to bring up details I needed at the moment would be awesome. The feat seems to imply that the memories are manageable which means bad memories should not be intrusive. My runner-up choice would probably be Observant which makes one able to read lips and also makes one massively more perceptive. That would also be incredibly useful.

12 – If you were a god in a D&D universe, what would your domain be?

My domain would be knowledge. Knowledge is something that I have always prized. I soak up trivia and I love learning new things every day. I believe in the power of stories to change lives and help us make sense of our world. More specifically, given the choice, I would love to be a benign god of stories. I could not actually find one of those specifically in the canon lore and I think it is something great to have. The bards and scribes need somebody to call on. I envision myself as sort of a cosmic librarian, recording new stories and maintaining the old ones. Sending the ones in danger of being forgotten back to the world as inspiration. It sounds like something I would enjoy and be good at. I consider myself a good person so I would be on the side of good, favoring the heroes and good people of the land.

13 – Are you listening/watching any Dungeons and Dragons content right now? If So, What?

I have already told you about Critical Role but I guess I could clue you into one of the other two campaigns I am following. It is Dice, Camera, Action which is sponsored by Wizards of the Coast. The Dungeon Master is Chris Perkins who is a writer for Dungeons and Dragons so he is well-equipped to take the characters through official modules and tweak them along the way. Holly Conrad plays Strix who is a tiefling sorcerer who is a self-described trash witch. She is a pile of insecurities due to her rough upbringing in Sigil and being homeless for a long time afterward. Jared Knabenbauer plays Diath Woodrow, a human rogue who has never stolen a single thing. Instead, he has worked hard to be an honest adventurer who tries to lead with confidence. Anna Prosser Robinson plays Evelyn Marthain, a human paladin of Lathander and quite a fountain of positivity even though she can be quite the evangelist. Nathan Sharp plays Paultin Seppa, a human bard with a serious alcohol problem and a malleable code of ethics who always seems to come through in the end. It is a great story in a campaign where bad things always seem to be happening to the party but they are really good at turning chicken shit into chicken salad.

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 1

December 10, 2018

1 – How Did You Get Started?

When I was a young lad, I was very close to going goth and at that time I met a woman who was running a Vampire: The Dark Ages group with her friends. She gifted me a rulebook and I devoured it but I could not get anyone to play with me. After college, I started listening to a lot of podcasts and I listened to a string of Dungeons and Dragons podcasts. I listened to LordKat and Penny Arcade mostly and I started to get back into that mindset. At one point, a group of my friends and I were going to start a 3.5 adventure and I was excited but it fell through at the last minute. Years later I got talking to my cousin’s brother in law and, long story short, I was invited to join their tabletop group. I was eager to get started but it took a while for us to get around to playing dungeons dragons after several more homebrewed systems. Finally, we played Dungeons and Dragons and I finally got my start. In the meantime, I listened to a lot more podcasts (Critical Role, Trapped in the Birdcage, Dragons in Places, and Dice, Camera, Action).

2 – What is Your Favorite PC Race?

Off the top of my head, I would have to say Half-Orcs. I find them visually appealing mostly because they look so different from the rest of the races. When your character walks into a new place, they are sure to be noticed. Also, I have kind of enjoyed playing social outcasts and Half-Orcs are often discriminated against. Canonically, Half-Orcs are also caught between human and orc natures. Orcs are inherently evil while humans have more free will. So, Half-Orcs feel the pull of evil from their Orc blood and must fight against it to do good. However, the human blood gives them the freedom to make that choice for themselves. However, society can be hard to Half-Orcs which makes being a good guy harder. Of course, it makes playing a selfless hero easier. It is not uncommon for Half-Orcs to end up neutral somewhere between good and evil. I feel like more than any other race they can run the gamut between being an uncultured savage and a cultured urbanite. Basically, it feels like they are versatile and a rich mine for character backstory and story beats.

3 – What Is Your Favorite PC Class?

So far, I have only played a barbarian although there are plenty I would love to try. Barbarians are driven by the central power of rage. When a barbarian rages, they take half damage from most sources and that is very freeing. My barbarian has laughed off damage that would have killed frailer characters die several times over. Being able to blunder into a situation instead of having to meticulously plan it out is pretty fun. Also, while in a rage, a barbarian’s attacks are stronger and attacks, in general, are more likely to hit. When I created my character, I approached it from kind of a cliche and stereotypical direction. I made a big dumb savage who wanted to fight the world. I had a lot of fun being dumb but sometimes I did want to contribute more to planning and detective work but I was not about to metagame. If I were to create a barbarian in the future, I might make one who is more intelligent and urban. Just a tough guy who can contribute in other ways as well.

4 – What Is Your Favorite Game World?

My favorite canonical game world is the Forgotten Realms. It is the world of podcasts sponsored by Wizards of the Coast like Acquisitions Incorporated, Trapped in the Birdcage, and Dice, Camera, Action. I feel like it is the most versatile game world with the possibility of darker journeys and lighter adventures. There is so much lore to draw from that it would be hard to explore all of its corners in one campaign. I feel like it is a brighter world than darker campaign settings like Ravenloft, Greyhawk, or Dark Sun. As for non-canonical worlds, I really love Matt Mercer’s Exandria because of my love of Critical Role. It is also a rather varied world with darker parts and lighter parts. There is also a slightly different set of deities to choose from and all of the lore is wiped away in place of new lore. I am also in the midst of creating my own game world which is unnamed so far. I have enjoyed creating my own lore based on my own preferences and what I think is interesting.

5 – Which Is Your Favorite Die or Dice?

This is a weird question. I guess I would say the good old Twenty-Sided Die. It is a classic and it helps form almost every point of the story along the way. It also just feels the best in my hand. If the question is about having a specific dice set that I like. I just have a big bag of Chessex dice, nothing special. They feel pretty good in my hand and they roll well. I am not very superstitious when it comes to dice. Sometimes I will switch one off of the table if I roll horribly with it for a while. It is not so much superstition as a way to deal with the frustration and it is kind of tradition among gamers.

6 – Which Is Your Favorite Deity?

Canonically, I really love Tymora. Something about having Lady Luck as a deity is really fun. Real world pantheons do not usually give a domain of luck as most societies did not seem to believe in it. However, in a world where your character’s fate is tied to the roll of the die, it makes a lot of sense to have a goddess of luck. Her motto of “Fortune favors the bold” is a great motto to get adventurers out into the world and in and out of danger. Non-Canonically, I have fallen in love with the idea of a kind Raven Queen. In my world, I have named her Azrea and she is based partly on Death from Deadpool comics. She is warm and accepting which makes being a death goddess less threatening. Still, I like her being spooky as well so it is a balancing act. Death as a friend is a way more appealing story to me.

Day 7 – Favorite Edition

I have only played Fifth Edition but I love it. The rules are straightforward but still leave wiggle room to add house rules to complicate it or simplify it at will. Most interviews I have seen have stated that Fifth Edition is their favorite because it is easier to parse and there are not too many complicated rules. I dabbled with 3.5 rules when I was preparing that first time for Dungeons and Dragons and I can definitely attest that those were more complicated rules. There are not nearly as many charts and not so many tricky rules to argue over.

Elorian Campaign Pantheon Pt. 3

November 26, 2018

Bahamut (God of Battle)
War Domain

Known both as the Stormlord and the Platinum Dragon, Bahamut was actually created by some of the gods in response to the emergence of some of the evil gods. They needed a champion to help defend the world from the more violent divine threats of the world. They created something based on the dragons they had seen roaming the land but empowered with the primal power of the storm and infused with a love for combat. He is depicted as a giant platinum dragon and as a winged knight based on what aspect people focus on. His followers are also varied. Some of them are ardent defenders, only seeking battle to bring peace or justice to the world. Some of them are just focused on his love of battle and are just looking for a good fight. Of course, there is also everything in between. In ancient times, he worked with Mala, Pelor, and Ioun to protect the world but also challenging other gods to friendly yet destructive fights. In the Final Conflict, he was instrumental in subduing the enemy before their eventual banishment, taking heavy damage. When it was time to go, he decided to have his own plane created Ysgard, a land for deceased warriors to endlessly battle and feast. His symbol is a lightning bolt.

Mala (Goddess of the Hunt)

Created a little later by the gods, Mala also loves battle but she loves the finesse of the hunt more. She is known as The Huntress. She lives for the thrill of adventure and was often relied upon to locate anything or anyone for the gods. She is not based on a dragon but is instead depicted as a feral woman with mottled gray and brown skin. During ancient times she often either hung out with Bahamut or hunted great beasts or tiny quarry. In the Great Conflict, she shot Gruumsh and Shar from behind with a bow and arrow, helping to turn the tide of the battle. When it was time to go away, she happily joined Bahamut in Ysgard where she can hunt as much as she wanted. She was also the leader of a group of warrior women known as the Freya who later became planetars in her service. Her symbol is the bow and arrow.

Akanay (Deity of Chaos)
Tempest Domain/Trickery Domain

Akanay is the genderfluid deity of chaos and tempest and has always existed outside of the continuity of good and evil. Akanay has never really supported either side but instead often made things stranger through altering reality or playing pranks on others. Not much is actually known about Akanay as they have never held a consistant form. They have often done things without claiming credit, letting chaos reign as people blamed each other. However, the only real enemies of Akanay are those who would spoil their good time. They dislike Pelor and to a greater extent, they absolutely hate Torog. In the Final Conflict, Ioun manipulated Akanay into occupying Torog. After that, the gods imprisoned Akanay in their own plane of chaos but their energy sometimes leaks into the other planes. Akanay has few worshippers and most of them are insane but those who do worship Akanay use a swirling whirlpool as their symbol.

The Children of Akanay

The Following deities fall under the domain of Akanay, the Chaos Deity because all three are hard to pin down and because there is some vagueness to them. Religious records are not clear whether or not anybody ever actually encountered these gods on the material plane. In fact, sometimes scholars wonder if Akanay made them up. Some other scholars theorize that they are merely aspects or alter egos of Akanay. It is not clear but still, the early elves wrote them down so they must have existed in some form or another.

Somnus (God of Dreams)

The lord of both dreams and nightmares, he is a hard one to pin down. He maintains the Plane of Dreams and most of the time his sleeping charges go where they will based on the currents of their minds and their hearts. However, he allows many gods to alter the trajectory and itinerary of various mortals in order to provide prophetic dreams or dreams of a divine message. A shepherd, he tries to keep the boundaries of people’s dreams separate. He also shepherds those who die in dreams to their true destination.

Lyssa (Goddess of Madness)

Born as the fire in the minds of early elves, Lyssa is rather harmless on her own. Like her patron, Akanay, she is just looking for a good time by shaking things up. She apparently did this by infecting those she met with various forms of mental disorders. She does not care about laws, society, or ethics in general. She is pure madness incarnate. Those who met her could not be fully believed but there is evidence that she existed. She was apparently caught and imprisoned in a cell somewhere in the Outland Plane. While she did not intend to be a villain, she was treated as one.

Sharess (Deity of Desire)

Both male and female and also everything in between, Sharess is desire incarnate. They are not “love” but physical lust and attraction instead. Also, to a lesser degree, Sharess is greed and envy. They are everything you want and therefore they proved to be far too distracting to mortals and gods alike. Sharess has no form of their own but instead is constantly shifting to attract those in their surroundings. Sharess was reportedly imprisoned somewhere. Nobody is quite sure where so it is impossible to verify. This has led to rumors that Sharess still walks the material plane or is perhaps traveling the planes at will. Or, again, Sharess never existed and is just a convenient excuse for previous drama.

 

Laverna (Goddess of Thieves)

Laverna is a goddess that was never spoken of in ancient times and has only appeared in the last few centuries. Many theories swirl around her existence. Some wonder if she is a new goddess, formed long after the others. Some think that she may have been around a lot longer but people covered it up. Yet more people think that she might have been made up by the thieves guilds which is where he legend is believed to have begun. She is known as Lady Luck, an enigmatic figure who plucks the strings of fate, doling out fortune as she sees fit. She is often depicted as a woman in rags, hidden by a long cloak with her eyes covered by a blindfold. She has no public temples but sometimes people might come upon a makeshift altar in an alley or other hidey holes. She is prayed to by thieves and criminals but she is also sometimes worshipped by the poor, hoping for her generosity. Her symbol is the question mark.


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