D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 36 Recap

Back into the sprawling elemental dungeons we go, this time going deeper beneath the Air temple.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

There’s a lot I really enjoy about “Princes of the Apocalypse.” But if it has one glaring weakness, it’s that it quickly becomes a nightmare to run as a DM due to the interconnected mega-dungeons.

A clear theme in the adventure are the elemental cults and how they work with and against each other. This is reflected in their physical proximity to each other, with dungeons often leading into another cult’s territory, or deeper and deeper into a sprawling mega-complex.

My players have expressed concerns that it makes layouts confusing going from one dungeon to the next. For my part as DM it often becomes a stressful chore trying to figure out where my players will go and what all I need to prepare.

In this week’s session, the party decided to head back beneath the Sumber Hills to explore the one spot they left untouched in the Air Temple – the giant underground pyramid. They hoped to find Miri’s mother. It wasn’t going to be that easy. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 36 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 35 Recap

We battle the Ironsmith and his creations, then return to find Red Larch ablaze by fire cultists and a devastation orb ready to explode.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

“Princes of the Apocalypse” is a very lengthy campaign. We get together online to play for 2-3 hours once a week. A single large dungeon could easily last 10 hours – and the main story is essentially a series of dungeon crawls.

There are some nifty built-in side quests, but I ended up eliminating about half of them. With the main story already being beefy enough, I need side treks to really be worth our time.

I inserted a few dungeons and scenarios from other sources. I could tailor these experiences into our story and world – but more importantly, into the player characters and their own backstories.

This week we finished up at the ancient temple of Tyr, battling a renegade Tyr worshiper with a golem fetish – right up Kalinaar’s alley! Then we returned to Red Larch to find the fire cult ready to detonate a devastation orb, and Kethra’s former mentor Fengell ready to throw down once and for all. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 35 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 34 Recap

The heroes discover the bloody source of the swamp reeds, then travel to a forest and stumble into a trap at an ancient temple of Tyr.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

I love writing, but I’m not an artist. I find building a map to be more of a chore than enjoyable. Using official campaigns and scenarios help immensely with my creative process – most of the maps are already created!

But as I mentioned in the last few weeks, I’m going a bit off-book with these current side treks.

In this session we finished up “The House of Reeds and Whispers” from Kobold Press’ Book of Lairs. Then we ventured to an old Temple of Tyr, which has recently become occupied. This mini-dungeon is from Nerzugal’s Dungeon Master Toolkit, and I had to build the map from scratch. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 34 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 33 Recap

We follow the trail of blood-draining reeds to a mysterious house in the swamp. Just outside we fight off an ambush of eel hounds.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

We’ve finally reached the point in our lengthy campaign where I decided to add material from outside sources. “Princes of the Apoclaypse” certainly has plenty of content to keep us going for another six months – but I just couldn’t help myself.

Plus, I received the Tomb of Beasts and Book of Lairs from Kobold Press’ Kickstarter and just had to try at least one of their spiffy dungeons. With the extra side treks I can also tie them into what’s going on in the Dessarin Valley, the elemental cults, and my PC’s themselves.

In the case of the “House of Reeds and Whispers,” I knew Talus wouldn’t be able to pass up a mysterious, magical investigation growing from the Black Maw Bog. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 33 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 32 Recap

The party gains several new side quests in Red Larch. They journey to Westbridge and discover the ruined town being bullied by the Cult of the Black Earth.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

It’s entirely possible to over prepare for a D&D session. This produces the opposite effect of the phrase, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” Instead you’re so consumed by the entire forest, you skip over trying to plant and nurture individual trees.

This past week I think I spent more time on D&D than anything else. My party had recently returned to Red Larch after a very lengthy stay within the temples of elemental evil. The sojourn encompassed three dungeons, at least two Long Rests, and over two months of real time.

So I had a bit of a backlog with side treks and extra events that were happening around the Dessarin Valley.

d&dI also wanted to include even more extra content. I recently received the Book of Lairs book from Kobold Press’ Tomb of Beasts Kickstarter (the ToB is also fantastic) and found a dungeon that I could easily include in our current campaign as a Side Trek.

On top of that I found another mini-dungeon that would work wonderful for my campaign with a few tweaks, from Nerzugal’s DM Toolkit. That’s on top of a Side Trek included in the campaign that I was adding.

So that’s three Side Treks I built this week. Then I noticed my party would be traveling to Westbridge, and realized that “Princes of the Apocalypse” includes a neat little mini-scenario that occurs when they travel there in the latter half of the adventure. Four – four new things!

It was overwhelming but I got it all done. I could’ve easily just picked one and dove deeper into it. But I enjoyed giving my players the option of picking where to go and what to do. I wish I hadn’t done the Westbridge event at the last second on Sunday – as that’s what we ended up tackling this week. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 32 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 31 Recap

We sneak past trolls and ogres with stealth and deception before battling reavers and bugbears. Curious water weird tanks are found while we escape the elemental temples.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

When exploring a large dungeon, I prefer not to leave it as a series of static rooms filled with monsters and traps. Depending on how much prep time I have, I try to include unique scenarios, dialogue, and role-playing situations whenever I can to break up the blood bath. Particularly after the super long combat encounter that lasted all last session.

This week our heroes squeezed in a Short Rest before having to think on their feet and employ some stealth and deception to make it through a series of trolls, ogres, and an opportunity-seizing sea hag named Thuluna. They discovered magical experiments involving mobile Water Weird battle tanks, and a whole host of baddies to take down as they made their way out of Crushing Wave territory. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 31 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 30 Recap

An explosive trap sets off an epic battle in the heart of the water temple with cultists, lizardfolk, and a dragon turtle.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Some sessions are filled with intrigue, role-playing, puzzles, and exploration. Others are just one big battle royale. Our thirtieth session was the latter, as our heroes charge forth into the waiting arms of the water cultists.

My players’ progress within the water temple has been haphazard at best. They narrowly avoided being slaughtered by the dragon turtle, and at one point looked to be separating to different corners via the underground river.

But they regrouped and headed North and East, which lead them straight to the boss. They defeated Gar quite handily (being at nearly full strength).

But now most of the temple lay before them – and its denizens were aware of intruders lurking about. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 30 Recap”