DMs Guild Review – Grimm Encounters

A dozen brief and twisted encounters drawn from classic fairy tale stories, such as Snow White and the Three Little Pigs.

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A review copy of “Grimm Encounters” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work via Patreon.

Designed by: JVC Parry & Jeff C. Stevens (+ Ken Carcas, Jean Lorber, Patrick E. Pullen, Phil Beckwith, Tony Petrecca)

dms guild reviewWhen I reviewed “Grimm Encounters II” I wondered where the more obvious fairy tale stories were. Turns out they were here in the first installment!

Within “Grimm Encounters” you’ll find a dozen fairy tale-inspired encounters (CR 1-7), including the much more recognizable tales of Hansel and Gretel, the Three Little Pigs, and the Pied Piper. The encounters are much shorter and simpler than the sequel, but still successfully apply classic grimdark fairly tale characters and themes to Dungeons & Dragons. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review – Grimm Encounters”

The Walking Dead S9 E6 “Who Are You Now?” Recap & Review

My recap and review of The Walking Dead S9 E6 “Who Are You Now?”

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Let’s Play – Darkest Dungeon Field Report 8a

Tackle some easy level 1 missions in the Ruins, though the Prophet is not to be underestimated.

I’ll be peppering my live Let’s Plays with some offline gameplay. To help remember what happened, and to regale you of any drama, I’ll be writing these Field Reports between Episodes.

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Darkest Dungeon Episode 09 will air Monday, Nov. 12 at 9:30p Central US.

Since reaching my Patreon goal of two Let’s Play live streams per week, I haven’t had time to fit any offline sessions in between. But my Roll20 Review of Dungeon of the Mad Mage took much longer than expected, and I was unable to stream last Friday.

So I made some time this weekend to play a bit offline in preparation for Monday’s stream.

Week 23

Everyone’s looking good going into Week 23. I did finally see a Hound Master in the Recruitment Camp and brought him on board. Unfortunately he’s level 0, and my next missions would involve the Ruins, where bleed-focused heroes fare poorly.

I decided to tackle a level 1 mission in the Ruins, and the first that had an actual objective other than killing a boss or just exploring every room. I had to find three specific curios and purify them, which meant three of my precious few inventory slots were taken up by special potions, ugh.

let's play

I wanted to include some level 1 heroes since this was a relatively easy mission. At this point half of my team are lvl 4 or 5!

Mission: Ruins, Purify the Altars, Level 1, Medium

Squad:

  • Tabraham, lvl 1 Vestel
  • Chatwood, lvl 1 Plague Doctor
  • Fitzherbert, lvl 4 Grave Robber
  • Lynom, lvl 4 Leper

I knew that bleeding is no good in the ruins so I went with a blight team. Plague Doctor grenades plus Fitz’s poison needles stacked blight beautifully.

The mission was a breeze, though I realized that Scouting is even more important here as finding where the curios are (whether in a room or hallway) can complete it that much quicker.

let's play

Week 24

Completing the previous mission gave me a nifty week event: Silence in the Crypts, bolstering my XP gain by 33% and damage by 15% for my next mission – provided it’s in the Ruins. What better time to take on the next Ruins boss?

I’ve ran into a tricky conundrum, however. Level 5 heroes will refuse to go on level 1 missions! And the Sonorous Prophet is the first form of the second boss of the Ruins, a level 1 mission.

let's play

While I’ve done a decent job leveling a bunch of heroes up, I need to make sure I’m spreading the XP out even more. My only worry at this point is if the first two bosses of the Cove are also level 1 (I assume so), which could be very tricky to handle by the time I unlock them, as most of my veterans are either level 5 or at the top end of level 4.

On the other hand, the overall goal is to simply get a level 6 squad together to tackle the final Darkest Dungeon. Does that mean actually beating all the bosses in each other location is simply optional?

With a huge payout of deeds and crests I was able to snag the level 4 weaponsmithing upgrade at the blacksmith. I’ve been prioritizing these upgrades over any others and they seem to pay off quite well.

For my squad I tried to once again use a balance of lower level heroes, yet also make sure I was strong enough for a boss I hadn’t fought before.

Mission: Ruins, Kill the Sonorous Prophet, level 1, Medium

Squad:

  • Vane, lvl 4 Arbalest
  • Chatwood, lvl 1 Plague Doctor
  • Paris, lvl 2 Abomination
  • Briqueville, lvl 3 Man at Arms

The map required me to loop around a bit. None of the fights were particularly difficult thanks to the buff from the weekly event. Vane in particular does extra damage against unholy, so she was one-shotting everything on her turn. I never even had to transform my Abomination, as his 2-hit Bile was doing fine work.

let's play

I did have to manage a bit of stress upon camping. I got unlucky and the boss was in the last possible room furthest from the starting point. Everyone was decently healthy though hovering around 30-40% stress.

The Prophet didn’t so much as cause stress as just tear me up.

There’s only one of him and he’s in the back slot behind some study walls. Thankfully most of my damage, Vane’s attacks and the blights from Chatwood, could hit him (Paris was useless, though). I had to use the Man at Arms to Guard my backline as both Chatwood and Vane came dangerously close to death, near about 20% health!

let's play

Thankfully the boss didn’t have any real defenses and had 0% resistance to blight and bleed, so he only lasted a few rounds.

Everyone survived and I got a huge payout of nearly 50 Crests! Can’t quite get the next level of armor upgrades but with almost everyone in fighting shape I’m feeling pretty good about going into my first level 3 boss fight, the Swing King, for Monday night’s stream.

Darkest Dungeon Episode 09 will air Monday, Nov. 12 at 9:30p Central US.

Look for more Field Reports throughout the week. Watch my Let’s Play live streams every Monday.

Tomb of Annihilation Session 11 Recap

Weretigers, Flying Monkeys, and Mad Mist, oh my! The party continues their travels up river, finally arriving in Camp Righteous.

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Previously on Tomb of Annihilation

Starring:
Mannix, level 3 Human Inquisitive Rogue
Khaless, level 3 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue
Gillian, level 3 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 3 Tortle Battle Master Fighter
Therin, level 3 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon

Travel along the River Soshenstar toward Camp Righteous continued. Where last week was mostly a series of standard combat encounters, this time I unleashed several encounters that weren’t directly hostile.

Well, except for the weretiger. Continue reading “Tomb of Annihilation Session 11 Recap”

Roll20 Review – Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage

Undermountain features an absolutely gigantic mega-dungeon and some of the best dungeon designs I’ve ever seen.

A press review copy of the module was provided. Read more Roll20 Reviews and watch the video reviews on my YouTube channel.

Support my video work via Patreon.

It wouldn’t be a proper Dungeons & Dragons adventure without at least one dungeon crawl. Different published adventures have leaned more heavily into the dungeon theme than others, but Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage definitely wins the Most Dungeon award I just made up.

Welcome to Undermountain, the 23-level mega-dungeon!

MAJOR SPOILERS – DM’s only!

Continue reading “Roll20 Review – Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage”

DMs Guild Review – The Malady Codex

A supplemental guide to diseases for D&D that’s nothing to sneeze at.

A review copy of “The Malady Codex” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work via Patreon.

Designed by: Jason Bakos & Themis Paraskevas

dms guild reviewDisease and pestilence are as much a part of D&D as anything else, yet few would dare create an entire supplemental guide exploring new and virulent maladies. “The Malady Codex” features nearly a dozen diseases designed by medical students based on many real-world diseases, effectively applied to a fantasy universe.

The diseases are organized by their origins as Magical, Divine, or Natural. Each disease is divided up into an easy-to-read series of notes, including the disease’s Cause, Symptoms, and Cures.

Each disease is also given a potential plot hook for how to include it in a campaign. Some of these are well thought out, with original NPCs involved in the disease’s origins, such as the dragon Oxitorus the Choleric or the mold-spreading beholder Biathocax. Others are disappointingly vague and generic.

I appreciated that almost all the diseases are based on real-world, well-known diseases, whether historical or modern, such as the Bubonic Plauge, Mad Cow Disease, Cholera, Leprosy, and even a whole category of interracial STDs. The real world links establish an easy touchstone for understanding these afflictions and how they could work within a D&D universe.

dms guild review

Not all diseases are a pandemic. Many are actually non-lethal – but still a literal pain. The variety presented here helps provide an assortment of options depending upon how severe you want the disease to be – and whether or not that’s a focus of your storyline or merely a by-product.

Necrophorum, for example, could be an easy excuse for a low-level party to help out a farmer, or a farming village dealing with diseased animals. The Mindflayer Network and Demonic Virulence would be effective in campaigns that feature Mindflayers and Demons respectively (or both –  hello Out of the Abyss!), while the Mad Mage Virus could add an interesting twist to an encounter with enemy spellcasters.

The appendices at the end offer a nice little bonus of disease-themed NPCs as well as a few statblocks and magical items. I wish this were a bigger section. The parasitic Medtroid-like Malady is very cool and thematic and I would loved to see more creatures, either disease-ridden or literal walking maladies themselves.

Pros:

  • 11 D&D-friendly diseases, organized by Origin, Symptoms, Cure, and potential Plot Hooks.
  • Many of the diseases are based on real-world counterparts, such as Tetanus, Cholera, and Leprosy.
  • Disease-healing abilities and spells are listed at the beginning.
  • An appendix with several NPCs, statblocks and magical items with a disease theme.

Cons:

  • Mad Mage Virus is a neat idea but a  bit overly complicated.
  • Some of the plot hooks are just a few generic notes rather than specific stories.

The Verdict: With nearly a dozen diseases inspired from real-world maladies, “The Malady Codex” provides a variety of interesting and terrible afflictions to add to your campaign.

A review copy of “The Malady Codex” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work via Patreon.