Reminder: D&D this week moved to Sunday

Storm King’s Thunder Session 22 on Sunday, September 24

For the second week in a row we need to shuffle our schedule around a bit to fit various vacations and business trips. Even then one of us will be calling in from a hotel when we go live on Sunday evening!

Start time as always remains the same (somewhere between 7/10pm Pacific/Eastern and 7:30/10:30p) on my YouTube channel.

Hopefully next week we’ll be back to Fridays!

Tabletop Review: Prepared 2

A press copy of Prepared 2 was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Jon Sawatsky
Published by: Kobold Press

kobold pressKobold Press’ Prepared 2: A Dozen One-Shot Adventures for 5th Edition is the follow up to last year’s Prepared: A Dozen Adventures for 5th Edition. Its premise is simple: to provide several encounters of varying levels and styles that a Game Master can slot into his or her campaign.

Not only are the encounters more interesting this time around, but the book contains some welcome organization features, role-playing notes, and virtual tabletop friendly maps to help a GM successfully run these events and mini-dungeons.

I’ll go over each of the 12 encounters before giving my overall final thoughts at the end. Obvious spoilers below! Continue reading “Tabletop Review: Prepared 2”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 21 Recap

We wade into the hostile sewers beneath Yartar to confront an evil threat.

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

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Next week’s session has been moved to Sunday, September 24. Same start time.

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

We carefully descended down the ladder deeper into the sewers, my head still ringing from the thunderous blast that erupted from the grate. 

A deep pool of foreboding water lie before us. Across the large room a monstrous merfolk stood rigid, its eye glazed over. Before we could utter a remark, an inhuman voice invaded our minds.

“Welcome, guests. Welcome to my home. I’m glad you were able to join us this evening.”

Everyone looked startled, and I saw a few eyes glance my way. “That… wasn’t me,” I replied telepathically, fear plain in my thoughts.

“Your party has come a long way to find me,” the voice continued. “Atalia* called me ‘Oosith,’ but that was simply a construct.” Even with its mind-speak its voice felt harsh and clipped, causing us to creep backwards from the pool.

My anger overrode my fear. “It was you who went to the monastery after I left. You enslaved them!”

The creature’s mind never wavered. It mentioned that it was doing the bidding of its own master – as Atalia did. I used that against it. “So, you’re another slave?”

“I am no slave!” For a moment we felt the creature’s calm demeanor slip, then it was right back. It beckoned us forward into the murky waters. 

I had no intention of jumping in. We kept it talking and learned about its plans: to turn the nobles of Yartar into its master’s servants.

Bryseis conjured a dancing light, and sent it down into the water. A writhing mass of tentacles curled around it. “You spit in the face of my generosity? Perhaps I should just enslave you as well.”

An ancient creature of the deep rose up out of the water, unfurling three large tentacles. Its white slimy body locked onto us with rows of eyes and a gaping maw. 

*I verified the correct spelling of names with the DM this time! Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 21 Recap”

Reminder: D&D this week rescheduled to tonight!

Just a quick reminder that our weekly D&D session has been moved up to tonight to accommodate some out of town players. Start times, as always, should remain the same: around 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern. VOD will go up the following day.

Unfortunately our session next week will also have to be rescheduled. More on that later!

Our goal is to always have a session every week, but sometimes we have to shuffle our session day around to fit our many differing schedules! Occasionally we even do a one-off adventure if we need it.

Thank you for sticking with us.

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 20 Recap

Our investigation of Yartar’s kidnappings leads to a riverboat gambling den, and a figure from Kazin’s past.

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

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Next week’s session has been moved to Wednesday, September 13. Same start time.

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

“STOP!” My thoughts rang out in alarm, focusing squarely on the woman in front of me. The woman I’d loved, once.

She turned around. Even by the sickly dim light of the sewers she was still beautiful.

“Who…?” she began, startled. “Your mind is familiar…”

I pulled my hood back and ended the magical disguise that made me appear more human. I focused Ellaria with my most intense stare, hoping me emotions wouldn’t betray me.

“Kazin, it’s so good to see you!” she rushed forward as if to embrace an old friend. For an instant I wanted to take her in my arms. But the slumped man in the corner made me take a step backwards.

“What are you doing?” 

“I’m doing what I must. I’ve been forced to do terrible things. But you can help me escape them!” Her eyes were big, her face pleading.

Words poured out of her mouth. A man named Useth had come to the Mind-Zei monastery, promising more psychic power. Those he couldn’t recruit he enslaved. She was a victim.

I’d been burned by her flames of passion before. I felt an iron sheath close over my heart. I reached out with my mind and focused on hers, willing her thoughts to speak to me. Her mind met mine with outrage that soon turned to fear.

Her thoughts were laid bare. She was concentrating too much on keeping up the deception. She’d gone with Useth willingly. She hungered for more power.

“This isn’t safe, you shouldn’t be in here. He won’t allow you to be in here!” I realized her mind was speaking to mine even as I probed it. I saw her handing over the victims of Yartar to monstrous fish-folk. 

“Don’t do this!” She was speaking directly to me now, her face a mask of terror. “You don’t understand the power they promised us, Kazin. Our minds can be opened!”

That’s when I felt it. The same unnerving energy from the frightening creature in the Zhentarim outpost. A powerful psychic link. A chill dread shot up my spine.

My mind followed the trail, across mountains, forests. Into the ocean. Plunging under the depths. Deeper, deeper. “Stop it!” her voice screamed. But I was close, I could almost see-

A blast of psychic energy rocked me backwards as the link was severed. I blinked and looked up. A trickle of blood dripped out of Ellaria’s nose, and she crumbled to the ground.

I was shocked last week when we made it through an entire session without any combat. Make that two sessions now! This week we had some fun in Yartar infiltrating a riverboat gambling establishment to investigate a rash of disappearances around the town. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 20 Recap”

Roll20 Review: Tomb of Annihilation

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.

The Tomb of Horrors is one of the most infamous and difficult dungeons Gary Gygax ever designed. It was famous enough for a major plot point in Ready Player One, easily the best part of a novel I otherwise loathed. It recently appeared with a D&D Fifth Edition conversion in Tales from the Yawning Portal earlier this year (Roll20 Review coming soon!).

I was a bit surprised, though certainly not disappointed, that Acererak’s infamous dungeon would be the inspiration for Dungeon & Dragon‘s next major story campaign, Tomb of Annihilation.

The Roll20 Tomb of Annihilation module is the best work Roll20 has ever done. Tomb of Annihilation is already a very virtual tabletop-friendly campaign, and Roll20 went even further with interactive maps for puzzles and rooms, a token-filled page of random encounters, and all the written and visual content you’ll need to send your players into the dangerous jungles of Chult.

Continue reading “Roll20 Review: Tomb of Annihilation”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 19 Recap

We reach level 6 and journey south along the Long Road to find Triboar devastated from a recent Giant attack.

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”

We were tired, hungry, and in T.I.M.’s case, severely wounded when we emerged from the caves of the Zhentarim outpost.

We had cleared the entire outpost. The final attack from a venomous giant spider had humbled our elated mood. T.I.M. showed no pain, despite his nasty limp from the spider’s venom.

We were in no mood when we found the gates of Xantharl’s Keep closed. Bryseis knocked on the door and a voice rang out, “Go away interlopers, we know what you did!”

“Damn it,” I muttered. 

“I told you we shouldn’t have let some go,” Bryseis glared at us, her demonic eyes burning with annoyance. “We should’ve killed them all.”

She turned her attention to the gruff voice beyond the gate. “What is it you think we did?” she snarled.

“Alicia told us – you killed all the Zhentarim. They were our lifeblood, you’ve doomed us! Go away!”

“We freed you from the Zhentarim,” I replied, wearily.

“You think you’re heroes, but a lot of those folks lived here. They had families! You’re not welcome here.”

“To hell with this town,” I sighed. But I thought of Millie, the undercover Harper agent who had helped give us some information.

Bryseis brazenly called out to the guard that we needed to speak to the barmaid. It felt horribly suspicious to me, but money greased the palms of the guard and he went to fetch her.

Millie emerged several moments later and we told her everything, about Xelan’s death, the ledger that revealed all their payments and book keeping, and the letter that revealed the Weevil’s next stop – Neverwinter. She was grateful for the assistance, agreeing to ride north to try and uncover more of the Neverwinter hideout.

We had other plans. The Giant attacks weren’t about to stop so we could follow the damn Weevil all over the country. We saddled the horses and turned south, riding a few miserable miles before collapsing into our tents for some much needed rest. A long road lay ahead of us.
Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 19 Recap”

Roll20 Review: Lost Mine of Phandelver

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.

Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition does a lot of things really well. The easiest to highlight is the Starter Kit intro adventure, “Lost Mine of Phandelver,” first published in 2014.

LMoP does an excellent job introducing newcomers to D&D while still providing a memorable and fun adventure full of exotic creatures, locations, and twists. It’s correctly hailed as one of Wizard of the Coasts’ best ever starter adventures.

When Roll20 acquired the license to create official D&D 5E modules, adapting the “Lost Mine of Phandelver” was a no-brainer. The adventure includes some annoying challenges to overcome, particularly as it was originally released before basic 5E content we now take for granted, such as the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual.

The Roll20 module fixes most of these issues while providing as streamlined a process as possible to jumping into your first D&D adventure with a virtual tabletop.

Continue reading “Roll20 Review: Lost Mine of Phandelver”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 18 Recap

Our final showdown in the Zhentarim Outpost offers a rematch with Captain Xelan.

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 alarm bells rang out, and for a tense moment I wondered if we were doing the right thing. I ran to the door, practically barreling into it, shouting as if some foe were right behind me. 

“Captain Xelan,” I screamed in the acolyte’s voice. “We’re under attack!”

The Zhentarim leader whom we had thwarted at Nightstone, and who had tried to have us killed, stared back at me irritably. The well-dressed man to his left sighed. “Do you see, Captain Xelan? Your organization is becoming nothing more than a liability.” The large robed orc in the corner said nothing.

Xelan stood up from his desk, unsheathing a brilliant golden scimitar. “If you don’t want to die it’s your problem too.” He turned toward me. “Lead the way, Alicia!”

I hurried down the hall, pointing toward the west where the rest of my friends lie in waiting. Xelan nodded and charged forward, but the well-dressed man stopped to stare at me. I felt my heart beat rapidly as an uneasy force flowed around him. My mind felt the tiniest prick and I used all my concentration to retain my composure. This was no man.

My disguise held and the fake-man continued on. I heard Xelan cry in surprise as Halfred whirled around the far corner at the opposite end, dropping two arrows directly into his chest. A gout of acid sprayed across the other two, and T.I.M. summoned his terrifying spectral leech.

I stepped behind everyone as Xelan called out to me, “Heal us, woman!” My hatred of Xelan and unease over the odd nobleman coalesced around me as I shedded my disguise.

“Captain Xelan, I think you remember us.”

Xelan’s eyes went wide. “Gods damn it! You’re all supposed to be dead!”

I smiled wryly and held out an arm, channeling all my psychic energy forward. “Now you will know fear.” Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 18 Recap”

Tabletop Review: Starfinder Roleplaying Game

A press copy of the Starfinder Core Rulebook was provided for the purposes of this review.

Over the years Paizo Publishing has carved a successful name among tabletop roleplaying fans, releasing dozens of Pathfinder rulebooks, supplements, full campaigns, and modules.

Starfinder represents Paizo’s first entirely new roleplaying system since Pathfinder’s release in 2009. In many ways it’s a science-fiction version of Pathfinder, expanding on those rules (which is itself largely based on D&D 3.5e) while adding a few unique twists of its own.

Starfinder draws upon the best sci-fi archetypes, stories, and concepts from across media to create a full-fledged, detailed universe rife for adventure. Continue reading “Tabletop Review: Starfinder Roleplaying Game”