Aug 28, 2014

Game Session - Same Game, Different Faces

So, after the finale of the Dragon Island saga, our gaming group had some changes in real life. One of the players was moving out of town, one seemed to be more interested in running a Mage campaign, and so on.

That put me back to the unenviable position of having to rebuild the group. Luckily, I did have one player still around (Mike), and after a couple of months of searching I had one more.

I was hoping to get at least three to restart the game, but rather than keep the two I did have waiting around (and potentially dropping out before I even got started), I decided to start with just two PCs (along with an NPC character I would run as needed).

Even though Mike already had a character in the game (Hunter, a 7th level ranger), I didn't want to start this game at such a high level, so I asked Mike if he would bring in a new 1st level character for the time being. The idea was that when this new party (along with any new players) reached a high enough level, we could have the Mike's new character leave the group to be replaced by Hunter.

Another change I was planning was to move this campaign from Flotsam to a new location. Rather than build a new town from scratch, I decided to drop Saltmarsh into the Dragonlance setting in an area I hadn't previously used. Since I wasn't planning on running the original U series of modules, I opted for the version of Saltmarsh presented in the 3.5 DMG II. All the city needed was a few cosmetic changes, swapping out the default deities for their Dragonlance equivalents, and adding a few details to the city based on a module I was planning to run far in the future and we were all set to start...

Starting the game were the following characters:

Duncan - A cleric of Kiri-Jolith
Ataraxia - A monk of Majere
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Saltmarsh District Map
Our adventure starts in the bustling trade town of Saltmarsh, located on the shore of New Sea in Qwermish. Cole Silverhammer, a dwarven blacksmith, and owner of The Anvil, was in need of some help. It seems Sandyford, one of the villages that supplies Cole with the raw ore he uses to forge his wares, had recently, and without notice or reason, stopped making deliveries.

Worried that something was amiss, Cole sought out the aid of the high ranking clerics of Kiri-Jolith in town.

Cole was well known to the clerics of Kiri-Jolith for supplying low cost weapons and armor to their warriors, and when he came to them asking for help, they were only too willing to assist. The clerics assigned one of their younger, newly confirmed members (Duncan), the task of accompanying Cole to the village of Sandyford. They also arranged for a monk of Majere (Ataraxia) to accompany the group to Sandyford.

It should be noted that the monks and the clerics of Kiri-Jolith often trained together and had formed close alliances in Saltmarsh.

The journey to Sandyford was mostly uneventful. Along the way, the trio did encounter a small group of refugees, not from Sandyford, but from Pinehurst, a town further north. These refugees mentioned that Pinehurst had suffered frequent attacks from local kobold tribes. They knew nothing of the fate of the town of Sandyford, so the trio bid them goodbye. Privately, Duncan and Ataraxia felt they might want to investigate the events in Pinehurst after checking in with the folks in Sandyford.

When they arrived in Sandyford, they found a village ravaged by disease. Many were already dead, and the rest confined to bed with shaking fever sickness. One woman, Mara, while just as sick as the rest of Sandyford, was at least coherent enough to shed some light on the situation.

The shaky fever, as she called it, started over a month ago. At first it was just a few of the men who worked the nearby mine, but it soon spread throughout town as well as the local livestock. Aid was sought from Solanthus, but never arrived.

When the first of the townsfolk to get sick started dying, some tried to flee, while others sought to find answers within the mine where the sickness appeared to start from. These few, the last healthy and able bodied men of town, were never heard form again. Mara begs the party to find the lost husbands, daughters, and sons of Sandyford.

Without delay, Duncan, Ataraxia, and Cole set forth to the mine just a few miles outside of town. They soon found themselves standing before the mine entrance. All around the entrance, tools and some crude weapons seemed scattered around, but no living or dead bodies could be found. A recent snowfall covered any tracks around the mine.

Curious about the missing townsfolk, the party ventured into the mine. Traveling down a descending hallway, the three soon found themselves in a small roughly rectangular room. Chunks of ore were scattered about while two overturned ore carts lay in the center of the room. Under one of the carts was a motionless body. Blood smears covered the walls telling of a fierce battle that took place here recently.

Heading down the westward hallway, they soon found themselves in the old mess hall, along with a half dozen or more kobolds. As fighting quickly broke out, three of their number raced over to the adjoining room, where they barred the door and set up a defensive position. After all the kobolds were defeated, the party searched the mess hall, and the other room, which turned out to be storage room. While they found all manner of food stuffs, from ale to cheese, there was no clue as to the whereabouts of the missing townsfolk.

Heading down the east hallway from the room with the overturned carts, the party soon entered the deep central cavern where the miners worked. Here they encounter more kobolds, but worse still were the zombies lingering down one of the main spurs off the cavern. The party soon encountered the reanimated corpses of several of the townsfolk, along with several undead kobolds as well.

Not sure who, or what, was behind such an abomination, they continued further into the tunnel. In a large chamber they beheld the cause of all the death and suffering that had plagued the quiet village of Sandyford. A lone bozak draconian, clad in the robes of his new god, the Rat King (aka Morgion, the god of disease). Here, the bozak had found a way to infect a stream of water that passed through this cavern, the same water that fed into the town's drinking water.

Grak, as he called himself, seemed to be infected with the same disease that he was inflicting on the town, but had not yet succumbed to its full effect. Even in his weakened state, the cleric of filth put up a good fight against the trio, but soon fell to their combined might.

With the death of the draconian, the magically talisman that was infecting the water supply was rendered inert.

In the following days, some of the townsfolk started getting better, and Duncan was able to send word back to Saltmarsh that clerics of Mishakal, the Healing Hand, would be needed for the very worst cases. Duncan and Ataraxia stayed on in Sandyford till reinforcements arrived. Afterward, the pair headed north to Pinehurst to follow up on the rumors of other kobold activity in the area, while Cole stayed behind to assist the recover of the townsfolk.

Aug 12, 2014

GenCon: D-1

It's almost GenCon day, and if you are lucky enough to be going this year (and you are not already in transit), then you are probably like me and frantically trying to get all the last minute things locked down so you can start enjoying "The Best Four Days in Gaming".

For me, this year is requiring a bit more prep than usual, mostly because I'm doing a bit more than usual this year.
Like every other time I've been there, I certainly plan to be spending plenty of time in the Dealer's Room, and playing a bunch of games, but this time around, I'm planning to run a bunch of D&D as well as give a talk about using Lego like products in your D&D games. Both of these things are forcing me to do a bunch of prep work that I didn't need to do in past years. It's certainly fun, but the last few days have not been as relaxing as they have in past years.
But no matter what, I'm sure I'll have a blast!
If you aren't going, please think about checking out this blog, which I'll be updating daily throughout the con, or following me on Twitter (dmfumbl), where I'll be live tweeting.
Happy GenCon 2014!

May 29, 2014

D&D: Products, Organized Play... oh, and One More Thing

Big news in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons over the last week. Wizards of the Coast made a number or announcements, each one seemingly more impressive than the last.

  1. First up. Details on what products for D&D will be released in the upcoming months. Check out this page for more details (You may need to click on the TRPG link on the page to see the info): D&D Product Info.
         Highlights for me included info on a Starter Set in July, and the PHB in Aug (probably available starting GenCon weekend).
         Unlike previous Starter Sets, this one will include info on playing characters through 5th level (clearly someone took a look at the Pathfinder Starter Box).
  2. If that wasn't enough, a few days later, they released info on the future of their Organized Play program. This is the umbrella for such in-store programs as D&D Encounters, and the defunct D&D Lair Assault.
         Going forward, the program will be known as the D&D Adventurers League, and will include three different options. One, Epics, seems to be something like the multi-table events they've run in the past (the Candlekeep adventure at last year's GenCon, and the Vault of the Dracolich come to mind). The second option, Expeditions, harkens back to the old days of the 4 hour convention adventure. And lastly, Encounters follows the very successful 1 hour event, where you can come back week after week and over a few months get a complete story.
         I personally look forward to playing and running these events at a local story.
  3. And finally, the latest and most pleasantly shocking announcement. Starting along side the July release of the Starter Set, Wizards will be releasing what they call D&D Basic (but don't let the name confuse you, it's not a return of the D&D Basic/AD&D divide back during first edition). This new D&D Basic will actually be enough rules for Player to run a character from 1st to 20 level. For DMs, the Basic package will have enough monsters and items to run a campaign.
         Best of all, D&D Basic will be a FREE PDF download. Yes, that's FREE. No cost. Now while it will have rules for classes from 1st to 20, it will only have the core four, and while it will have items and monsters, it won't be as extensive as the upcoming DMG or MM.
         I think this is a great way to get new players to try the game, or get lapsed players back into D&D with no initial investment on either a Player or DM. And later, if said Player or DM wants more options, they can opt-in to the appropriate book(s).
All said, it's an exciting time to be a D&D fan, and the next few months are only going to get better.

May 16, 2014

D&D Next Events for GenCon

Seems the D&D Next events for GenCon are finally viewable in the GenCon system.


Time to go update those wish lists before Sunday. 

May 15, 2014

GenCon and the Mysterious WotC Events

So, with GenCon Event Registration this Sun, I've been frantically pouring over the event catalog that was made available just last week, plotting out this event, and that seminar and while everything started out smoothly, I soon hit a snag.

It seems none of the WotC events (D&D or MTG) were on the event list. The reason for this, I won't even begin to speculate, but WotC did soon post event names and a brief description on their site. Looking over this list, you'll see many of the events don't have listed times. But have no fear, Baldman Games, the company that actually runs the D&D events at GenCon (and a few other cons) posted info about when events will be running. Check out this forum post for more details.

Not the best solution, but at least I was able to know when the events would be running to plot other events around those.

Hopefully the events will go live before Sunday, so I can get my Wish List in order!

May 8, 2014

GenCon Event List available Tomorrow!

If you're not on the GenCon mailing list, you may have missed this recent press release.

Item number two on the list states that the Event Listing will be available starting Friday at 9pm ET. The event registration is still Sun May 18th (starting at noon).

Having access to the catalog now just helps everyone plan out what they want to do, and when they want to do it. I know it can take me hours to pour over everything, build a master list of events and then try to distill it down into something manageable over the four days.

<self promo plug here>
And if you have some time in your schedule, you may want to check out SEM1459558, a seminar I'm running about using Lego-like products into your game.

If you've checked out any of my lego-themed posts, you'll have some idea what to expect.

May 1, 2014

What to do while waiting for D&D Next

So, if you're like me, and waiting for the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons to be released, you probably have some free time on your hands. Time that might have been spent pouring over the latest game release, or Dragon magazine, is now time you have nothing to do. Or is it?

There are plenty of ways to spend time with your favorite hobby, even during this rare lull in gaming material.

  1. Check out some of the great products from past editions at Dungeons and Dragons Classics. Over the last sixth months, I've been really impressed at the amount of old material on the site. Have a favorite setting? There's certainly some older edition products available, and often at great prices. For example, the site currently has the first 6 modules in the original Dragonlance series (the basis for the Chronicles Trilogy of novels). Each is priced at only 4.99 each, and playing through the original trilogy could be a fun way to pass the time.
         These modules are for first edition, but should be easily convertible to most other editions. Running them with the last preview rules is only difficult when trying to stat DL-specific monsters. Note: module DL5 - Dragons of Mystery, is NOT an adventure, but actually a mini sourcebook, and is in most ways inferior to any of the other sourcebooks that came out afterward (Dragonlance Adventures, Time of the Lance box set, or any of the 3.5 books). Since none of those are available for download yet, you might want to pick this up in the mean time, or check out some of the better Dragonlance reference sites on the Internet (such as the Dragonlance Lexicon site.
         And if you're looking for new material, the Classics site is the place for recent adventures using the playtest rules, like Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle and the adventures for the last two seasons of D&D Encounters.
  2. Another way to spend this free time is catching up on some good books. While the game may be on hiatus, the novel line is still moving along, with new Forgotten Realms books coming out almost every other month. Most of the novels all center around The Sundering, the epic storyline (played out in novels and game products) that is intended to move the Realms from it's 4e version to what will be the new landscape in Next.
          Or you can pick up older books, many are available from second hand dealers, or in electronic form. If audio books are your thing (like me), you can get many of the older novels in unabridged format from audible.com.
  3. Lastly, another way to spend your time, especially if you are a DM is to either start planning your first Next campaign, or just reading things that will help inspire you. While all of the above suggestions can certain aid in that regard, I, myself, have recently been reading up on Ed Greenwood's Forging the Realms columns on the Wizards website. All the columns are free and offer a lot of great detail about the Realms, which can easily be imported to another setting. The earliest columns offer DM advice around keeping players surprised, ways to easily seed adventure ideas to the players/PCs, and tips for easily running short term campaigns.
          Along the same lines, Ed's various Volo Guides to the realms (also available on D&D Classics) presents a lot of great details about key cities and towns, each offering up countless adventure ideas for parties of all levels.
I don't know about you, but even with lack of new product coming out for D&D, I still have plenty to keep me busy.