D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 8 Recap

The party cleaves a path through the Western half of Thundertree’s denizens of blights, zombies, and giant spiders.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Time for another session of pure hack and slashery! The dungeons included in “Lost Mine of Phandelver” are lengthy enough that they often take us two to three sessions to get through (our sessions are aprox. 2-3 hours). It was no different here as the party took out the entire Western half of Thundertree – four combat encounters.

We had yet to explore the concept of an outdoor dungeon, so Thundertree was a fun change of place. It’s a bit trickier from a DM point of view, however, as the PCs have more freedom of movement. I am also still new to using Dynamic Lighting in Roll20, being a recent subscriber. I ended up using a combination of Dynamic Lighting with buildings and trees along with Fog of War to hide areas in the distance until the party got closer.

It worked pretty well, and my players delighted at being able to suss out line of sight by themselves, as well as communicating to each other number of foes inside a building.

The party trekked North, following the Locate Plants spell cast by Reidoth. The druid had tasked them with cleansing Thundertree of its zombie and plant life in a single day while he cast a ritual. I managed an extraordinary stealth check on the half dozen Twig Blights hiding in some ruined cottages, despite Kalinaar rolling 20 (non-crit) for Perception. I got off lots of furious little swipes in my surprise round, then was quickly cut down by a barrage of blows from the PCs. By the time it was my turn again, I had only a single Blight left. Having hordes of little guys is a neat change of pace and has the sinister side effect of making my players a bit too cocky. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 8 Recap”

Review – Sword Coast Legends [Pixelkin]

Limited options and connectivity issues sour the online cooperative and DM experiences, despite a well-crafted single-player campaign.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

review

Despite Dungeons and Dragons‘ recent renaissance, we’ve yet to receive a proper, officially licensed D&D video game since Neverwinter Nights 2 in 2006. The ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s were replete with fantastic D&D-style role-playing games that helped define the genre in video games. So, developer N-Space had a lot to live up to with Sword Coast Legends. Though it had high potential, the current offering is a disappointing example of oversimplification.

Sword Coast Legends’ main selling point is the ability for one player to act as a live Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master runs randomized dungeon modules or a custom-created campaign for up to four players. It’s an intriguing concept. It’s frankly astonishing that we haven’t seen a D&D game attempt before.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 7 Recap

We reach 3rd level and travel North to the haunted ruins of Thundertree.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

My players were all very organized this week, and did the brunt of the level up work before we got together for our Sunday evening session. All we had to do was roll for Hit Points and go over any and all new abilities. Level three grants an advanced path for most Player Characters. It’s a cool difference in fifth edition that helps cut down on the insane amount of multi-classing that took place in previous editions. For example, a rogue can become an Arcane Trickster, letting them earn some magic spells without having to multiclass as a wizard or sorcerer.

Kalinaar became an Oath of Vengeance Paladin (continuing with the Judge Dredd concept), Miri learned the Path of the Elements to gain some powerful new attacks, and Kethra took the aforementioned Arcane Trickster specialty to gain some magic versatility. Oh and Talus got access to level two spells.

This was an interesting session. For the first time since the PCs were ambushed by goblins, they’re given a choice of where to go and what to do. Technically they could’ve done this upon reaching Phandalin (thus skipping the Redbrand Hideout), but they correctly decided to help the town out of its primary problem before tackling on the myriad of quests they received from the townsfolk. I’m glad they did, as the Redbrand Hideout is definitively designed to be a balanced level two dungeon, while these other areas are definitely made for level three PCs. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 7 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 6 Recap

We finally clear out the rest of the Redbrand Hideout in one epic battle involving a very bloody hallway.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Three weeks. It took three weeks to get through our second ever dungeon, the Redbrand Hideout. Averaging about 2.5 hours per week means this campaign will end up taking several months to get through, which is far, far longer than the relatively bite-sized Shadowrun modules we were running previously.

It’s still a ton of fun, but I do find myself needing to gently remind my players of important events, characters, and information they they’d been given weeks ago. I created a pseudo-journal system and quest log within Roll20 to help alleviate this issue, and now how I just say “check your quests!” whenever my players wonder what just happened or what they need to be doing.

Anyway, on to the session! This week began right after the PCs dealt with the terrifying Nothic that had made its home in the middle of the dungeon. The PCs had several paths available and must’ve been feeling pretty confident after slaying the Nothic. They decided to split up and explore, which is always a terrible, terrible idea. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 6 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 5 Recap

More than just Redbrands lurk in their hideout as the PCs battle a horrific subterranean terror.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

 

It wasn’t until this week’s session that I realized a big part of role-playing that I had missed in Shadowrun – monsters.

I’ve always enjoyed dipping my toes into dramatic voice acting, and I feel like my skills and range have steadily improved over the last few years thanks to reading to my young daughter nearly every day. In Shadowrun most of the foes and NPCs were gangsters, mobsters, businessmen, hackers, etc. I had fun with some unique accents and speech patterns, but nothing too crazy.

Dungeons & Dragons, however, has actual monsters. Demons, fiends, aberrations, undead – lots of fun opportunities for creepy whispers and foul mutterings.

“Lost Mine of Phandelver” includes a rather unique creature called a Nothic – an insane, twisted former mage with clawed hands and a single eye. It feeds on flesh and communicates telepathically – a wonderful excuse to unnerve my players as it steels into their minds, searches for their secrets and their past while gibbering about rending, tearing, GNAWING, biting, feeeediiiing. It was a lot of fun, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 5 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 4 Recap

The heroes explore the rest of Phandalin, gather quests, and begin their excursion into the underground Redbrand base.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

 

With this week’s session our heroes finished visiting the various important NPCs in Phandalin, then struck out to Tresendar Manor and cleared the first two rooms of Rebrands in the underground cellar.

Every RPG group is different. Some prefer nonstop combat and min-maxing their characters, squeezing every ounce of power out of the rules. Others are in it for the story, and enjoy role-playing their characters, exploring the world, and talking with NPCs. My group, like most, is somewhere in the middle, but definitely leaning more on the video game side of the experience. By that I mean they like solving problems, getting direction/quests from NPCs, and tackling dungeons, defeating monsters, and acquiring loot.

Knowing this I set up the town of Phandalin very much like a video game by pointing out all the notable NPCs that had relevant information or a quest available. A floating yellow exclamation point, if you will. This worked really well as the PCs were able to go around and visit each location, have a quick dialogue scene, gain a quest, and move on to the next one. In a single hour we were able to tackle the Lionshield Coster, Woodworker (which I custom added as a crime scene based on built-in events), Miner Exchange, Alderleaf Farm, Edermath Orchard, and Sleeping Giant Taphouse. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 4 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 3 Recap

We reach level 2 and the frontier town of Phandalin, where our heroes learn of a threatening mercenary guild called the Redbrands.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Note: Session 3 was held on Saturday, October 3rd, as one of our players would be out of town on Sunday.

 

If last week’s session was a combat-heavy dungeon crawl, this week’s was almost entirely made up of role-playing, socializing, and info dumping. We did end on a brief combat encounter at the end, but mostly it was a chance to the PCs to let their hair (or scales) down a bit in the town of Phandalin. It also gave me a chance to flex my voice acting capabilities, which are hopefully improving with every week (doing various voices when reading to my daughter does wonders).

The heroes had cleared out the goblins from their cavernous hideout, rescuing Sildar from his captive fate. Sildar Hallwinter was a hired bodyguard for dwarven explorer Gundren Rockseeker – the same dwarf who tasked our heroes with bringing the supply wagon to Phandalin. Their escort mission has now turned into a rescue mission, though their only lead is a place called Cragmaw Castle. Sildar mentioned he’d overheard the name several times as the goblin tribe’s base of operations in the area.

Everyone traveled to Phandlin in the hopes to find Cragmaw Castle (and also to rest off some grievous wounds). They turned in the supply wagon to Barthen’s Provisions and heard about the town’s woes with a group of mercenaries called the Redbrands. The PCs received some general goings-on in the town, then agreed to make their way to the Inn for more information and a hot meal. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 3 Recap”