D&D 5E “The Haunt” Recap

A one-shot Halloween adventure in a spooky haunted mansion with secret passages, ghostly visions, and deadly swimming pools.

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It’s bonus D&D week! In a nod to Halloween I temporarily took over the DM reigns to host an extra horror-themed one-shot adventure this week, using our pre-built characters from previous one-shots.

Welcome to the “The Haunt!”

I used a one-shot adventure from the DM’s Guild called “The Haunt,” by P.B. Publishing. I built the entire two-story mansion from scratch in Roll20, and also needed to make several adjustments for both time and difficulty.

While I wanted a horror one-shot to be challenging, the original adventure was written for a party of 4th-5th level, whereas the PCs we were using were only going to be 3rd level.

Our cast (all 3rd level):

  • Gramosk, half-orc barbarian
  • Falafel, half-elf bard
  • Filkur, gnome druid
  • Scarlet O’Fair, human paladin
  • Zinli, gnome rogue

Furthermore I needed to run the whole thing in a single evening, which for us is ideally around three hours. We skipped some fights and a few rooms and still took an additional 40 minutes but we got it all in and had a great time. Continue reading “D&D 5E “The Haunt” Recap”

Roll20 Review: Tyranny of Dragons

Welcome to another Roll20 Review, my written and video series in which I review the paid modules available for sale at Roll20. A review copy of the module was provided.

“Tyranny of Dragons” was the name of the first two campaign books released for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition back in 2014: “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” and “The Rise of Tiamat.”

As the first official campaign story published for 5E, “Tyranny of Dragons” is a bit rough around the edges. Some of the rules weren’t quite solidified yet. The Monster Manual wouldn’t even be released until several months after RoT; the Dungeon Master’s Guide and even Player’s Handbook not until after HotDQ.

Lost Mine of Phandelver” was designed as a the first intro starter adventure, whereas “Tyranny of Dragons” had to evoke a full campaign. While it tells a fun story of both dungeons and dragons, it’s very linear and railroady, with few overly large maps that don’t look very good on a virtual tabletop. Continue reading “Roll20 Review: Tyranny of Dragons”

Special One-Shot Halloween D&D Session Tonight

Since we began doing weekly D&D sessions over two years ago, I’ve always wanted to do a special Halloween ‘episode.’ As the regular DM it was always too much for me to prepare on top of the regular campaign.

Now, however, I’m currently a player in our “Storm King’s Thunder” campaign, giving me the perfect excuse to temporarily don my DM hat once more and invite my group for a spooky, haunted evening of thrills and scares.

Our Halloween one-shot session will take place tonight, Monday October 30, beginning at 7pm Pacific/10 pm Eastern, streaming on my YouTube channel.

I’ll be adapting the one-shot adventure “The Haunt” from the DMs Guild. I’ve custom built the map in Roll20 and made several changes to downscale the 4th/5h level adventure for our 3rd level party, while keeping it scary as hell. We’ll be bringing in characters from previous one-shot adventures, and we’ll have at least one new character as well.

I think of this group as The Defenders of our D&D Cinematic Universe. They take care of the street-level threats while the big Avengers team tackles the world-threatening Giant uprising. Best of all – this one-shot will in no way interrupt our regular weekly adventures with the A-team.

Tune in tonight for extra bonus D&D goodness!

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 27 Recap

We delve into a haunted underground labyrinth seeking an artifact of the Stone Giants.

Streamed, recorded and uploaded every week. Subscribe for our weekly adventures. Join us live on Fridays at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern!

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

Whispered echoes raged throughout the dark hallways. The air was cold, and despite being underground grass crunched under our feet as we explored the labyrinth beneath the Grandfather Tree.

Halfred had recognized the literal writing on the walls – Stone Giants had built this ancient place. For what purpose we could only guess. Now it seemed to be a tomb for a host of restless spirits. They were not happy to see us trespassing.

Churlish giggling sent a chill through my spine. I turned to see the ghostly apparition of a long dead elf girl rush toward me, as if in embrace. 

I lashed out with my psi-glaive, hoping to cut this one down before it could reach me, as I did the first. But I had hesitated. My mark was off, and I stumbled. My spear bit into the ghost’s side but didn’t deter it.

It seemed to pass right through me. I felt a horrible coldness I hadn’t experienced since I lay dying in the snow from the yeti mauling, and a scream echoed throughout my mind. I wasn’t sure if it was the ghostly girl, or my own. 

Just as quickly, the spirit vanished back into the nearest stone wall. The whispering continued. T.I.M. lay a concerned hand on my should, and I felt his healing magic warm my body. We all exchanged worried glances, and soldiered on through the darkness.

We’re back to dungeon crawling this week, albeit with a fairly short, straight-forward dungeon. I later learned that this dungeon didn’t even exist in the official “Storm King’s Thunder” campaign book. Player characters simply dig under the Grandfather Tree and find the artifact.

Thumbs up to the DM for providing us not only a fun little dungeon crawl, but one that was legitimately harrowing. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 27 Recap”

Weekly D&D Session Moved Up to Tonight

Our adventures in “Storm King’s Thunder” have been rescheduled this week to make room for one of our players attending a Stranger Things season two party. I can’t blame them, Stranger Things is amazing and one of my favorite shows. It even included Dungeons & Dragons in a neat way.

So we’re moving our weekly session up to tonight. We’ll start in about an hour. Watch our excellent antics tonight, and watch the (hopefully excellent) second season of Stranger Things tomorrow!

We’re Witnessing the Death of the Toys-to-Life Genre [Pixelkin]

Read the full article on Pixelkin

Last year Disney abruptly announced they were ending Disney Infinity after three years. Earlier this year Activision gave the foreboding announcement that they would not release a new Skylanders game this year– for the first time in six years. This week Warner Bros. confirmed that they’re ceasing development on LEGO Dimensions (though online support will remain).

At this point there are more discontinued (or on hiatus) toys-to-life games than ongoing. In the span of a year we went from most major game publishers wanting a piece of the surging toys-to-life pie, to suddenly being left with a grim outlook for the future of the genre.

Read the full article on Pixelkin

The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1 “Mercy” Recap

Normally you would see an excerpt of my Walking Dead recap here, and the full post at Polygon. Unfortunately Polygon didn’t get the contract ready in time for the premiere, so I’m doing it right here on my website. We should be squared away starting next week!

War. War never changes. But sometimes it weaponizes zombies. The season eight premiere kicked off the war with the saviors with some literal bangs, and like Rick, it gave me hope for the future.

We left off last season with our three main groups: the Kingdom (lead by King Ezekiel), Alexandria (lead by Rick) and the Hilltop (currently changing leadership in favor of Maggie) all pledging to join forces against the growing oppressive threat of the Negan-led Saviors.

After some rousing gung-ho military-style speeches (of which King Ezekiel’s dramatic theatrics are particularly well-suited), they moved to execute their plan: assaulting the Savior factory headquarters head-on with armored cars, machine guns, and a giant horde of walkers. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1 “Mercy” Recap”

PAX Unplugged to Feature Critical Role and Acquisitions Inc.

It should come as no surprise that the first tabletop-focused PAX convention, PAX Unplugged, will feature live shows of the some of the biggest live streamed D&D groups, including Critical Role, Acquisitions Incorporated, and Dice, Camera, Action!. PAX Unplugged 2017 will take place November 17-19 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Here is the full schedule of events.

“The mission of PAX Unplugged is simple,” said Jerry Holkins, co-founder of Penny Arcade and PAX. “We want to recognize the tabletop community that’s grown year over year at our events with a show just for them. It’s going to be pretty amazing first outing, and I can’t wait to attend the show myself.”

The extremely popular Geek & Sundry powered, actor-fueled Critical Role ended their 100+ session campaign earlier this month. In lieu of a live adventure, several members will be hosting a panel called “Critical Role: Talks Machina” on Saturday, November 18. Marisha Ray, Liam O’Brien, Taliesin Jaffe, and DM Matthew Mercer will discuss the entire campaign of Vox Machina, hold a Q&A, and tease their next campaign.

If live D&D shows are more your jam, Dice, Camera, Action! will feature beloved DM and Wizards of the Coast designer Chris Perkins leading his group through Chult as part of their ongoing Tomb of Annihilation storyline. Holly Conrad, Jared Knaubenbaur, Anna Prosser Robinson, and Nathan Sharp will be joined by an unannounced special guest on Friday, November 17.

My personal favorite D&D group, Acquisitions Inc.: The “C” Team will host their very first PAX live play. Like TwitchCon last weekend, Ryan Hartman, Amy Falcone, Kate Welch, Kris Straub, and DM Jerry Holkins will play through a special one-shot session on Sunday, November 19.

And of course it wouldn’t be a PAX show, and especially a tabletop-centric PAX show without the venerable Acquisitions Incorporated team of Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, and best-selling author Patrick Rothfuss, with DM Chris Perkins.

Over the last year they’ve rotated their player fourth slot after Scott Kurtz’s departure. I’m really excited that they’ll move one of the “C” Team players, Kate Welch’s halfling grandma Rosie Beestinger into the group for their continued adventures in Chult. Acquisitions Inc. will take the stage on Saturday, November 18.

The keynote address for PAX Unplugged 2017 will be delivered by Wizards of the Coast president Chris Cocks.

PAX Unplugged is less than a month away but tickets are still available, including the discounted Three Day pass (though stock is low).

I personally would have loved to attend but the timing is bad, with just a week from Thanksgiving and two months from PAX South. Obviously as someone who enjoys playing and streaming our own D&D adventures, I adore watching other groups, particularly the PA teams and anything with Chris Perkins. I’m looking forward to watching all the streams!

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder Session 26 Recap

The captured Zhentarim leader proves a useful font of information, and gives us our next lead to solving the Giant crisis.

Streamed, recorded and uploaded every week. Subscribe for our weekly adventures. Join us live on Fridays at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern!

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

The tavern reeked of blood, sweat, and death, but we had to remain a while longer. Bryseis bodily dragged the bound dwarf known as The Weevil down the stairs toward his office. He grunted and occasionally spat out blood, but the cruel smile never left his face.

“Give me a dagger,” he growled when we shoved him up to his office. Bryseis glared at him, then methodically pulled out her loaded crossbow and aimed it at the back of his head.

She slapped his own dagger back in his bound hands. “You try anything, your body will go first,” she replied menacingly.

“Don’t be stupid, dear,” he said. “If I was going to activate the trap, I’d be the first one gone.” He gingerly shoved the blade into the seal of the door, maneuvering it deftly. We heard a soft clicking sound on the other side, and the door swung open. He walked in and dropped the knife with disdain.

“Take a long around, what’s mine is yours, obviously.” He nodded to Bryseis and stepped back out. 

Bryseis hesitated, glancing back between him and the office.

The Weevil grinned. “Bryseis dear I’m not a dumb man. If I was to let one of you die from a trap, my life would end pretty quickly thereafter. For the time being I’m not going to let any of you die.”

After Bryseis disappeared inside he turned to the rest of us . “As I’m sure you’re aware, my employment with the Zhentarim is at an end. It appears I’m looking for a new job. And you’re looking for information.”

“It’s our lucky day!” T.I.M. remarked with child-like enthusiasm.

“It is.” That smile never left the dwarf’s face. “Here’s the proposition: you don’t kill me. You don’t use the notice you’ve got in your pocket. In return I give you everything I know on what The K Society was looking for, and where they were looking for it. And I continue to find more information on what they’re doing – for you.”

Entire sessions without combat are beginning to become commonplace, which still kind of weirds me out coming from the dungeon-happy campaign that was Princes of the Apocalypse.

But this session proved invaluable as we received a wealth of useful information from the Weevil, not to mention the shady new ally himself. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder Session 26 Recap”

Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review [PC Gamer]

Read My full review at PC Gamer

Battle Chasers: Nightwar tackles the tedium of traditional JRPG turn-based combat by turning every fight into a tense interplay of meaningful tactics. Despite some frustrating elements and balancing issues, Nightwar provides some of the most satisfying RPG battles I’ve experienced all year—and looks nice doing it.

Read My full review at PC Gamer