D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 7 Recap

From the Feathergale Spire to the Sacred Stone Monastery, only to get dropped into a trap with an enraged Umber Hulk!

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

Sometimes your open world campaign may be a bit too open, or you sprinkled in a personal quest that was a bit too dire. Magical locked gates to the rescue!

I don’t feel great about it but it ultimately helped funnel my players into a much more agreeable path, especially after hinting how “Princes of the Apocalypse” is set up. Plus, I got to send them tumbling down a flight of stairs into a room with an enraged Umber Hulk. Fun stuff!

We picked up this week after the non-stop action at the Feathergale Spire that left most of its residents dead. The party swept through the rest of the now empty tower, seeing a few rooms on the ground floor for the first time.

Kalinaar made a dramatic show of releasing the last few hippogriffs in the stables, dumping oil all around and then lighting it all on fire with his dragon breath. A major structure like the spire won’t go down quickly but it did transform into a giant smoke stack as the flames did their work. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 7 Recap”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Secret Warriors: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2

The titular team takes a back seat as we dive deeper into Nick Fury’s complicated past and convoluted present.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Secret Warriors vol 2Writers: Jonathan Hickman

Artists: Alessandro Vitti, Mirko Colak

Issues: Secret Warriors (2008) #17-28, Siege: Secret Warriors

 

Secret Warriors had a really fun start as one of the best new comics to come out of Marvel’s Dark Reign period. Nick Fury’s clandestine team of second generation sleeper agent superheroes battling Hydra forces felt very GI Joe-ish in all the right ways.

The second half of the series is nicely compiled into another collected volume. Unfortunately it almost completely drops the titular team in favor of focusing on Nick Fury.

Jonathan Hickman dives head first into Fury’s convoluted past and present. It’s filled with silly twists, gotchas, and “oh he was a just a Life Model Decoy” – all gimmicks that I’ve grown to resent. I much prefer reading about the team’s inner-drama and action set-pieces rather than the Nick Fury Files, but apparently Hickman and Marvel saw otherwise. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Secret Warriors: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2”

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 6 Recap

Our heroes act on the information gained from Thurl’s letter, and end up in a giant battle royale with the Knights of the Feathergale Spire.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

Here’s an interesting solution to making a lower-level dungeon a bit more difficult: have the PCs fight multiple rooms together, and without a proper rest! In this week’s session our heroes act on their new information gained from Aerisi’s note to Thurl, and end up in a giant battle royale with the Knights of the Feathergale Spire.

The Spire is an interesting set up. A small, multi-leveled dungeon offers some interesting perspectives for going room-to-room. The most important factor is that the knights are not initially hostile, and I further played with that by having the guard at the door, Savra, be an old childhood friend of Miri, the party’s runaway-from-home monk.

However, at the end of last week’s session Kethra did some snooping and found an incriminating letter in Thurl’s room. It spoke of a battle with a Black Earth Cult, and a captured prisoner – one that matches the description of one of the diplomats that went missing.

Armed with this information our heroes marched straight to the Pinnacle and accosted Thurl himself. The party’s emotional interrogation was awkward at best, including Thurl successfully resisting a Zone of Truth spell from Kalinaar. Coupled with Kalinaar drawing his sword and Miri kicking him toward the ledge, Thurl called the alarm and the fight was on! Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 6 Recap”

The 13 Weirdest Monsters from Dungeons & Dragons [Playboy]

Not every creature in the official D&D Monster Manual is a fearsome dragon or badass demon. Some are just incredibly silly.

Read the full list at Playboy

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The rise of geek culture has lead to wider exposure and acceptance of one of geekdom’s fondest hobbies: tabletop role-playing. Now you’ve got Vin Diesel playing Dungeons & Dragons to promote a film and prolific voice actors rolling dice online every week.

Even if you don’t know your beholders from your mind flayers, D&D’s latest Monster Manual is a treasure trove of mythological beasts and horrific nightmares. But some are just plain silly.

Read the full list at Playboy

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hard West

A fun XCOM-lite in a dark Western setting hampered by its tight indie budget and odd campaign structure.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: CreativeForge Games

Publisher: Gamibitious Digital Entertainment

Release Date: Nov 18, 2015

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Hard West had all the right ingredients that got me excited about its Kickstarter campaign: tactical XCOM combat, Western setting, supernatural elements, choice-driven gameplay. The end result is something of a mixed bag, mostly due to its shoestring indie budget and odd campaign structure.

Hard West mostly tells a classic Western story of revenge. Warren loses his parents, then his girlfriend, then his life (life was rough back then, man).  He’s given a second chance with a not-so-subtle Deal with the Devil, and begins his quest for vengeance. Also an ill-conceived quest to bring back his dead girlfriend.

Now I said “mostly tells” because that story represents only a fraction of the total campaign. And here we come to the crux of my issues with Hard West. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hard West”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Curse of the Mutants

The X-Men are attacked by a united vampire army, and one of their own is permanently transformed. Guest-starring Blade!

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

X-Men Curse of the MutantsWriter: Victor Gischler

Artist: Paco Medina

Issues: X-Men (2010) #1-6*

*Also included the following tie-ins: Death of Dracula One-Shot, X-Men Curse of the Mutants: Storm & Gambit One-Shot, X-Men Curse of the Mutants: Smoke & Blood One-Shot, X-Men Vs. Vampires #1-2, Namor: The First Mutant #1-4, Wolverine & Jubilee #1-4

 

The Heroic Age of 2010 gave us lots of clearly defined good vs evil storylines. What could be more evil than a conquering army of vampires? In “Curse of the Mutants,” yet another new X-Men series brought us a vampire story straight out of Underworld or Blade. By embracing its campy tone the story remains fun and action-packed, though the finale feels a bit too rushed and easy.

The problem with X-Men is that there’s always way too many X-Men comics. And most of them star the same damn popular team members. At the time this new 2010 X-Men volume began, we already had Uncanny X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Men Legacy, New Mutants, X-Factor, and shortly – Uncanny X-Force and Generation Hope.

Now granted some of those are great off-shoots with unique teams (I can’t say enough good things about X-Factor). But we definitely didn’t need yet another book starring Cyclops and gang dealing with problems at Utopia. And yet, having the son of Dracula rise up, unite the vampire clans and set his sights on mutants as kindred spirits in need of a good ol’ fashioned subjugating makes for a damn fun little event. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Curse of the Mutants”

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 5 Recap

The party gains peaceful admittance to Feathergale Spire, attends a feast, hunts a manticore, and discovers a startling secret.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

A standard monster-filled dungeon can be fun, but I really enjoy when an area has some unique twist about it aside from room-to-room monster-bashing. The Feathergale Spire is a neat four-story tower filled with seemingly innocuous knights and aerial enthusiasts.

The encounter can transpire in numerous ways depending upon how the PCs react. Nothing is more fun to me as a DM than listening to my players hastily deliberate on a course of action, each crazier than the last.

First the party had to make it to the spire. When we left off they’d just killed a bunch of griffons in the Sighing Valley and found an alcove to rest in. When they awoke I had a group of aarokocra find them. The aarokocra were wary but curious. It was a fun opportunity for some unique role-playing, as neither party could understand each other.

Talus rolled really well on a History check and I gave him some information on these bird-like humanoids – mainly that they’re not evil and often fight forces of elemental evil. Numerous drawing, pointing, and miming ensued which was delightfully funny.

Talus would eventually cast Comprehend Languages (gotta love when seemingly mundane spells become very useful), and I would give them a bit more direct information – drawing a symbol over the tower, skull and crossbones nearby, question mark over the gully, and a hidden trail that lead up to the tower. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 5 Recap”