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

We recap our four month long intro campaign to D&D Fifth Edition, and each player reveals their favorite moment.

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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!

We recapped our four-month long campaign in about two hours.

The final Epilogue & Recap session is something we’ve been doing since our Shadowrun tabletop days. First, it gives me a chance to elicit feedback from my players on elements of the game they liked or didn’t like. It helps me as a DM tailor the gameplay, story, and structure more towards everyone’s liking.

Second it offers a way to pull the curtain back on events and let everyone see the How’s and Why’s of the adventure. In this case I even went through all the dungeons and turned off fog of war and dynamic lighting. We all poured over the dungeon maps together for fun, and discussed how they tackled various situations.

And finally it simply gives me another week to prepare for our next adventure! In this case we’ll be transitioning from “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” right into “Princes of the Apocalypse.” “Princes of the Apocalypse” was published in Spring of 2015, and takes place directly to the East of Phandalin in the Dessarin Valley. It even includes specific plot hooks to get the players to travel East as they uncover, well, evil. I very much enjoy utilizing the official published adventures, thanks in large part to not having to make any maps, and only having to convert them into Roll20. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Epilogue & Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 18 Recap

A final showdown with the Black Spider, meeting the leader of the Undead, and finding the Forge of Spells brings Wave Echo Cave and our four-month long campaign to a close.

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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!

A final showdown with the Black Spider, meeting the leader of the Undead, and finding the Forge of Spells brings Wave Echo Cave and our four-month long campaign to a close.

First the party had to deal with the flameskull. Though the guardian undead lay defeated, they learned it would rise again in an hour. Without the proper spells or tools to prevent its rejuvenation, the party had to go into D&D: Mythbusters mode involving the nearby smelter.

I don’t exactly have the extended lore or concrete details regarding flameskull regeneration other than if it’s destroyed the pieces will reform. However, I imagine if you can trap it in an effective manner, it would still be trapped. The flameskull has access to powerful fire magic, but that does it little good when its melted into liquid metal!

I was impressed with the way the party came together to work the smelter and agree on how to deal with the flameskull. It was a great act of improvising a solution, and I definitely allowed it to work – later teasing that the creature was banging against the inside of the smelter in impotent rage.

The task dealt with, the PCs retreated to the nearby barracks for a Short Rest. They planned on continuing East and dealing with the flameskull’s master, presumably another powerful undead. But the Black Spider wasn’t idly sitting by. One of the advantages with having a live DM is you can make a dungeon a truly living, breathing thing that reacts to the party’s actions. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 18 Recap”

2015: My Year In Gaming

I recap a full year’s worth of gaming in 2015, including new games and my backlog progress.

2015

I should really cut down on all these annual blog posts. The holidays are busy enough, and in 2015 I expanded my Top Ten list into ten separate posts, followed by my full Game of the Year awards and Most Anticipated Games of 2016 lists.

It’s all done in self-indulgent fun. My annual Year In Gaming post is probably the most navel-gazing thing I write on here. Part journal entries and part gaming calendar, I recap what I played on a month-to-month basis, and what really stood out.

2015 was the first full year of being a part-time freelance writer, and most of that was spent writing about video games. I maintained my blog both here and on Game Informer, appeared on podcasts, and can now say I’ve been published on Playboy. I also played lots of great games!

2015 backloggery

Though not as many as last year. I mentioned in my last recap of Rogue’s Adventures that I generally have less game time these days.

Since I enjoy recording my play times and my game library, it has helped me cut down on buying new games – which is painfully easy when you primarily play on PC thanks to rampant Steam sales. I played less games in 2015 but overall my “Progress Index” improved this year, so I’m pretty satisfied.

Progress Index is how Backloggery.com measures your finished-to-unfinished games ratio. Currently I maintain a Beaten ratio of about 63%, which has held fairly steady all year.

On to the monthly breakdown! Continue reading “2015: My Year In Gaming”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 17 Recap

A good old-fashioned dungeon crawl culminates in an awesome boss fight with a flaming skull and his zombie army in this giant 4-hour session.

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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’s amazing how much progress you can make in a marathon four-hour session. How about five separate battles, including an epic confrontation with a fireball-slinging Flameskull and his army of zombies?

We started our session a bit earlier on Sunday. At this point “Lost Mine of Phandelver” has lasted us nearly four months, doing weekly 2-3 hour sessions. We’re coming up to a busy schedule for me at the end of January/beginning of February: a gaming convention followed by a family vacation. Wrapping up this campaign and going on a brief but necessary two week hiatus would be extremely helpful to my sanity.

Thus not only did we start earlier, but we ended up going an additional hour later than usual! I was impressed by my players’ energy levels and enthusiasm throughout this session. They were in their element – this entire session was one big dungeon crawl filled with baddies to deal with, culminating in the biggest fight of their lives. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 17 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 16 Recap

We finally come face to face with the The Black Spider, and he’s shockingly reasonable.

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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!

Wave Echo Cave Part 2: The Black Spider revealed! And he’s…reasonable?

“The Lost Mine of Phandelver” is frustratingly sparse when it comes to describing some of its NPCs, but thankfully The Black Spider isn’t one of them. Billed as the overarching villain, the drow has been plaguing the adventurers throughout the campaign, ordering the kidnapping of Gundren and his map, and putting out a bounty for the PCs.

With the PCs’ quick excursion into the NorthWest corner of the mine and battle with the bugbear army in the previous session, meeting up with the Black Spider was the next logical step.  Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 16 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 15 Recap

Our heroes reach level 4 and finally journey to the titular mine – Wave Echo Cave. It’s full of bad things.

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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!

What happens when the players get ahead of the DM’s preparations? Panic and chaos, mostly.

I’d gotten far enough ahead in prepping “The Lost Mine of Phandelver that I hadn’t had to do any major work in weeks. By ‘major work’ I mean building out the maps in Roll20, finding pics, creating tokens, creating character sheets, etc.

Every week I do about an hour of prep work. This mostly consists of notes to myself regarding the specific section of the adventure we’re in. I like to write out longer dialogue sessions so I don’t have to “um” and “uh” may way through ad-libbing, for example.

Unfortunately due to the general busyness of the holiday season, our sessions finally caught up to me. At the last minute we decided to move our normal Sunday session up a day earlier, and I spent a good chunk of the day making the titular mine – the final area of the adventure.

Wave Echo Cave is a mega-dungeon, a large area with over a dozen rooms with various creatures, loot, and other treasures and dangers. Thankfully I’d already found and downloaded some great-looking battlemaps that someone had created, and had spent the painstaking time to line them up to Roll20’s grid. I still had to get all the tokens placed, roll hit points, set up dynamic lighting, and create a few new character sheets for unique NPCs.

Since the dungeon is a bit open-ended, I felt like I had to do the whole thing just in case. I got about 90% finished and called it good enough. And of course, my players (newly leveled up to 4) stumbled on that last damn 10%. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 15 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 14 Recap

It’s a thrilling major boss battle as the PCs wage war in the heart of Cragmaw Castle against the bugbear chieftain and his army!

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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!

Boss fight!

Occasionally real life can get in the way of gaming. Which is to say, I’m incredibly thankful that I have the means and time to play online role-playing games with friends at all. The weekend before Christmas was crazy busy for me, which means I had exactly zero prep time for this week’s D&D session. I’m still always ahead in my planning, so I can technically hit the ground running any week, but there’s a solid hour or two of planning out dialogue sessions, intro recap, and notes to myself for the week.

I didn’t have a chance to do any of that this week, as you can tell from my terribly rambling recap at the beginning. The party also happened to go into Cragmaw Castle, a major dungeon area, through a side entrance rather easily, and found themselves in the final boss room of the dungeon right at the beginning of the session. Roll for initiative! Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 14 Recap”