The 13 Weirdest Monsters from Dungeons & Dragons [Playboy]

Not every creature in the official D&D Monster Manual is a fearsome dragon or badass demon. Some are just incredibly silly.

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Read the full list at Playboy

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The rise of geek culture has lead to wider exposure and acceptance of one of geekdom’s fondest hobbies: tabletop role-playing. Now you’ve got Vin Diesel playing Dungeons & Dragons to promote a film and prolific voice actors rolling dice online every week.

Even if you don’t know your beholders from your mind flayers, D&D’s latest Monster Manual is a treasure trove of mythological beasts and horrific nightmares. But some are just plain silly.

Read the full list at Playboy

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

The party gains peaceful admittance to Feathergale Spire, attends a feast, hunts a manticore, and discovers a startling secret.

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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!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

A standard monster-filled dungeon can be fun, but I really enjoy when an area has some unique twist about it aside from room-to-room monster-bashing. The Feathergale Spire is a neat four-story tower filled with seemingly innocuous knights and aerial enthusiasts.

The encounter can transpire in numerous ways depending upon how the PCs react. Nothing is more fun to me as a DM than listening to my players hastily deliberate on a course of action, each crazier than the last.

First the party had to make it to the spire. When we left off they’d just killed a bunch of griffons in the Sighing Valley and found an alcove to rest in. When they awoke I had a group of aarokocra find them. The aarokocra were wary but curious. It was a fun opportunity for some unique role-playing, as neither party could understand each other.

Talus rolled really well on a History check and I gave him some information on these bird-like humanoids – mainly that they’re not evil and often fight forces of elemental evil. Numerous drawing, pointing, and miming ensued which was delightfully funny.

Talus would eventually cast Comprehend Languages (gotta love when seemingly mundane spells become very useful), and I would give them a bit more direct information – drawing a symbol over the tower, skull and crossbones nearby, question mark over the gully, and a hidden trail that lead up to the tower. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 5 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 4 Recap

Our heroes leveled up to 5 and left Red Larch to follow one of their leads – some shallow graves near the mysterious white tower in the hills.

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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!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

The aftermath of the scandalous town elder – secret cult revelation lead to some fun role-playing. Our heroes then leveled up to 5 and left Red Larch to follow one of their leads – some shallow graves near the mysterious white tower in the hills.

I’m never quite sure how a purely role-playing section is going to pan out. My players feel most comfortable rooting through dungeons and killing bad guys. Occasionally some big dialogue sessions can occur, and the enjoyment level seems to fluctuate depending on the mood of the table and the players’ interest levels in the NPCs and plot.

In this case my players got to be the triumphant heroes, having defeated Larrakh and exposed Red Larch’s town elders as a creepy, murderous cult. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 4 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 3 Recap

A giant sinkhole opens up in the middle of Red Larch, spurring our heroes into action and revealing a mysterious dungeon beneath town.

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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!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

The town of Red Larch received a real kick in the teeth when a giant sinkhole appeared in the middle of town. The sinkhole opened a path into a hidden underground dungeon. The micro-dungeon teased some magic stones, and lead our heroes to their first real taste of Elemental Evil.

The Player Characters had nearly explored the entirety of Red Larch last week. At least the sections that were relevant to our adventure. I teased a bit more information in the form of a whistle-blowing employee at the wagon-repair shop. The PCs headed over to the tavern to seek him out.

When describing places in town, I specifically mention any important NPCs. I picture them as hotspots in an Adventure game or Exclamation Points in an RPG. My players like having the guidance and direction, and it helps cut down on time.

The local tavern – The Helm at Highsun – contained a half-orc fighter, an old shepherd, and our anxious halfling. The halfling spilled the beans on his boss Wulver, telling the party about a possible secret cellar entrance he’s seen the town elders use. The half-orc confirmed that the missing delegation had been in Beliard. I also had her aggressively come on to Talus, to the humorous delight of everyone. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 3 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 2 Recap

The Road to Red Larch, part 2. The heroes fend off a bandit robbery on the road, then learn about the missing delegation in town.

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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!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

Our party finally makes it to Red Larch. The main adventure hook of the missing delegation begins, as well as hints and teases to troubles around the area, and within the town itself.

Dungeons are easy. Towns full of NPCs are hard. In terms of pure DM prepwork. Sure, I don’t have to align grids or create monster sheets or roll for hit points. Instead I have to perfectly layer in the story hooks, quests, and information available to the players. I can’t say too much so they have an opportunity to investigate on their own. But I have to say enough to get them invested and on the right track. It’s a tricky balance, and “Princes of the Apocalypse” is particularly open-ended when it comes to following leads and deciding where to go.

Red Larch is the Phandalin of this adventure. It’s a fleshed out town full of dozens of NPCs, business, and locations. For our previous adventure I highlighted which NPCs had information or a quest for our heroes – not unlike the floating yellow exclamation point that many RPGs use. I did a smiliar thing here, using a player map version of Red Larch and only annotating the important areas.

Since we’re starting at level 4, I’m omitting most of the newbie stuff, which also eliminates a good chunk of the NPCs. I know my players, and I know they are not interested in wandering around town striking up conversations with random people. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy role-playing, but they enjoy having a bit of guidance – me presenting them with a situation, rather than they exploring and seeking one out. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 2 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 1 Recap

Part 1 of the party’s journey from Phandalin to Red Larch, where they meet Cragmaw riders, cursed skulls, and ominous weather.

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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!

After the events of our previous campaign “The Lost Mine of Phandelver,” the party receives a job to escort a wagon East to Red Larch. On the way they encounter a retaliatory strike by some Cragmaw Hobgoblins, experience strange weather patterns, and suffer fitful nightmares of elemental forces destroying the world.

If you want to learn about our cast of heroes, see this post from before our first adventure, “The Lost Mine of Phandelver.”

The logical next step after “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” was to select another official published adventure for our new campaign. I really enjoy having everything already organized and planned out, and especially official maps of dungeons. Since Phandelver only brought our heroes to level 4, I wanted to continue their journey. Out of all the official campaigns released thus far, “Princes of the Apocalypse” made the most sense to adapt it as a sequel to the events around Phandalin. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 1 Recap”

PAX South 2016 Mega-Post

I recap all 3 days of PAX South 2016!

pax south 2016 cloud aerithI should start by apologizing for the lateness of this post. My original idea was to update my blog every night with all the crazy festivities of each day of PAX South. Instead we ended up spending all day and evening (minus dinner out) at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. That’s about 9am to midnight. The hotel wi-fi was just not up to snuff for uploading pictures, so I resigned to the occasional twitter updates and pics throughout the weekend.

Then on the way home I caught a whiff of the con crud/PAX pox. Then yesterday was my daughter’s birthday. So yeah, excuses, I got ’em!

But no more! It’s time to break down PAX South 2016, and my personal experience with this unique gaming convention. Continue reading “PAX South 2016 Mega-Post”