D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 65 Recap

It’s the final showdown with Iymrith, the ancient blue dragon.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

The Yuan-ti lay dead at our feet. I raced over to Harshang and cut his metal bonds, while Bryseis ran over to the piles of gold coins, a glittering hoard worthy of an ancient dragon.

“Has anyone seen Felgolos?” I called out.

In response, the dragon’s voice echoed off the walls, dripping in mockery. “Has anyone seen that bronze thing? I don’t think they will.”

Bryseis stopped. “Did you eat him?”

“I will eat you all when this is done! You still don’t understand what you are facing. Let me show you.”

A gigantic serpentine head snaked out from the cascading sands behind us. The ancient blue dragon clenched its massive jaws around King Hekaton, who didn’t even have enough time to turn around.

In an instant both dragon and giant disappeared beyond the veil.

“Iymrith you coward!” I screamed.

A cruel chuckle echoed off the walls. “I can do this all day, friends. How long can you last I wonder?” Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 65 Recap”

DMs Guild Review – Undead Races

A short sourcebook featuring four playable undead races, designed for freshly killed PCs.

A review copy of “Undead Races” was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Matthew Gravelyn

dms guild reviewIn most D&D campaigns the undead serve as antagonists, either through the usual fodder of skeletons and zombies to cut through, or as big bad liches, vampires, and death knights.

Undead player characters aren’t unheard of, but they’re a tricky thing to balance, especially when it comes to healing. “Undead Races” provides four playable undead races: Bound Spirits, Vampires. Specters, and Soulless. They’re designed for existing player characters to transition into should they die, as an alternative means to resurrection.

“Undead Races” is a short, 10-page booklet that devotes about 1 page for lore, and 1 page for stat block to each race. Since most undead don’t really have their own culture, the lore sections explain how a PC could be transformed into their new undead incarnation, and how those creatures typically live out their questionable existence.

Some of the undead work better than others. The Bound Spirit is a nifty idea as your soul (or conscienceless) is put into a construct body, typically a suit of armor. You’re not quite as cool as a Helmed Horror but you do get resistance to piercing and slashing damage, as well as immunity to critical hits (!). That’s kind of bland but also incredibly powerful.

Healing also becomes tricky (a common theme for most undead) as you cannot be healed through resting or magic. Instead you have to be repaired, which equates to spending HD during a rest. It’s unclear if you still regain Hit Dice during a Long Rest, and if you can regain the same Hit Dice you just spent since you’ll be using them to heal.

Of the four, vampire is the easiest one to apply, both thematically and mechanically. For balance purposes PC vampires don’t have to fear the sun, though I find it weird that they aren’t at least saddled with the Drow Sunlight Sensitivity penalty.

Vampire healing is obviously tied to feeding on blood. There are two notes about healing that seemingly contradict each other: “All damage is healed if you consume enough blood” and two sentences later, “When you consume blood, spent Hit Dice as you would during a rest.” Like the Bound Spirit, there are no extra notes about when you can regain Hit Dice (vamps don’t rest!), making another race where I’m not a bit confused on the healing mechanics.

The Specter is the most bananas of the bunch. A ghost PC? As an action you can plane shift between the astral and material planes, and you’re  completely incorporeal on the material plane. On top of that, as a bonus action you can become invisible! That sounds game-breakingly crazy.

The specters have a similar curse to vampires, only instead of bloodlust it’s a strong emotion, like rage or jealousy. This is completely tied to the player’s ability to effectively roleplay their new emotionally-crippled ghost.

Soulless is the most original of the races presented here. Soulless are basically the same as they were before, just, you know, without a soul. Thematically it makes them into bland sociopaths who begin to lose all emotion and purpose, which seems a tad delicate to role-play with others. Mechanically they gain the Deception and Performance skills, and immunity to mind control. By far the the least exciting but also the easiest to transition into.

Undead races are a difficult thing to manage. I appreciate the notes on the hows and whys a PC may transition into each of these forms. A lot of thought when into making their abilities and powers reflect their new forms, but the balance level is a bit questionable, and there could be a few more details about healing with the bound spirit and vampires.

Pros:

  • All four undead: Bound Spirit, Vampire, Specter, and Soulless are very different from each other, with their own thematic traits and abilities.
  • Each ‘race’ comes with a lore box on how and why a PC may transition into their new undead form.

Cons:

  • Healing for Bound Spirits and Vampires is vaguely worded and confusing.
  • Specters are literally ghosts capable of plane-shifting and invisibility at will. What!

The Verdict: Undead Races features four VARIED playable Undead for when You can’t let a Good PC Die.

A review copy of “Undead Races” was provided for the purposes of this review.

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 64 Recap

We dodge siege weapons and fight through an army of gargoyles to reach the lair of the ancient blue dragon.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

The magic swept over us. One moment we were standing within the damp, underground caverns of the storm giant’s home. The next we found ourselves in the middle of the sun-baked deserts of Anauroch, surrounded by a sea of sand.

To the north lie a half-buried amphitheater – Iymrith’s lair.

We trekked across the hot sands with grim determination. As we neared our destination we could see the ominous sign of the ancient blue dragon – a localized storm cloud brewing overheard. 

“The storm cloud – it’s Iymrith!” shouted Kazin.

The dragon herself descended upon the amphitheater. We responded by consuming the potions gifted to us by the storm giants. Each of us in turn grew three times in size, now looking face-to-face with King Hekaton, who nodded in approval.

We braced ourselves for a bout of lightning or a thundering of wings. But the dragon was in no hurry to engage us. Instead she sneered and descended into a giant hole underground. At the same moment, the amphitheater erupted in a swarm of birds.

No, not birds, gargoyles. We could see them swarming from hundreds of feet away as we charged. A pair of siege weapons began firing upon us as we ran, our gigantic legs creating a thundering stampede across the desert sands.

We’ve officially entered the end game of Storm King’s Thunder.

The Maelstrom’s teleportation magic dropped us deep within the deserts of Anauroch, half a mile south of a half-buried amphitheater. King Hekaton, along with two Storm Giants and Felgolos accompanied us as we made the trek to the ancient blue dragon’s lair. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 64 Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 63 Recap

We fight our way through The Morkoth to find the Storm Giant King, and learn a shocking revelation.

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PROGRAMMING ERROR: We never switched off our break screen after the break, so there’s no video for the last hour of the session. It’s basically all cutscenes at that point but still, oops! The DM has been issued 100 demerits.

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

We severed the final chain, its glowing runes dimming as color returned to the Storm Giant King. The ship was rocking heavily now, and made worse by the now conscious Giant who began to rise to his full height, smashing through the deck above and screaming about a betrayal by the Lord’s Alliance.

He swung his broken chains, still attached to his arms, knocking TIM and Halfred backward. 

I screamed out using the Giant tongue. “King Hekaton! We were sent by Princess Serissa, your daughter. We’re here to rescue you!”

At the mention of his daughter his bearded face softened with recognition, and his rage subsided.

I opened my mouth to speak again when I felt a pain stab right through my mind. A massive font of psychic energy, the likes of which I’d never felt before, sent me reeling to the floor clutching my head.

The ship rocked again, tilting dangerously to one side.

We heard Felgolos scream from above. “Tentacles! We got tentacles up here!”

We delved into the belly of the Morkoth, searching for the Storm Giant King. To reach him we had to deal with the second-half stragglers of the Morkoth crew, including the Kraken cult wizard Tholtz. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 63 Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 62 Recap

It’s Dragon vs Ship as we launch a massive attack on The Morkoth.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

The damn fish-monsters were not only keeping pace with the ship, but hurtling harpoons up at us with terrifying accuracy.

I winced as a harpoon sliced through one of my psychically manifested duplicates. The wince turned into a gasp as another harpoon embedded into my shoulder, wrenching me off the boat.

I cried out as I slammed into the rushing water. Within seconds a gigantic shadow descended above me, wings blocking out the mid-day sun.

I couldn’t hear what Felgolos was saying over the rushing water, but I understood his intentions. Mustering all my strength I reached out, grabbing onto one of the severed ropes that still hung from his body, the remains of our makeshift airship.

I was airlifted out of the water, and the merrow screamed in fury.

Sometimes we go for the subtle, sneaky approach, splitting the party and skipping almost entire dungeons.

Other times we go hard.

When you’re strapped to the underbelly of a dragon, flying over the ocean, and approaching a ship full of baddies, you go hard. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 62 Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 61 Recap

We square off against the boss of the tower, the Sculptor itself.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

The mechanical monstrosity that called itself The Sculptor emerged from Halfred’s smoke, clawed arms slashing wildly as our sorcerers’ arcane Shields sprang up in defense.

Korinn ran to the side, taking a deep gash from a claw that cracked open her Shield, and fired a lightning bolt through it, causing its crystal chassis to thrum, and exploding the gigantic warforged guardian behind it.

I charged forward, my Phantom pike still glowing with channeled psychic energy. I attempted to reach out with my mind as I stabbed, searching for anything to disturb, but finding nothing but a single immovable will.

I switched tactics, stabbing again, this time channeling all my psychic energy into raw, lancing pain. I was greeted with the crystal shell cracking before my onslaught.

Bryseis followed up by firing a heated ray directly into the cracked shell, melting the suspended skeleton inside. The creature spent its death throes bemoaning its uncompleted work before crashing to the ground, crystal and bones scattering to dust. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 61 Recap”

DMs Guild Review – Construct Compendium

New races, spells, feats, class archetypes, and monsters, all with a clockwork theme.

A review copy of “Construct Compendium” was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Brandon Norris, Richie Root

dms guild reviewWhile Dungeons & Dragons has always been firmly rooted in a fantasy setting, even the lowest of magic settings often include golems and rudimentary mechanical devices, like crossbows and spike traps.

The “Construct Compendium” provides a large amount of mechanical-related content. Over 70 pages provide new races, class archetypes, feats, spells, monsters, and a few magic items, all tied together with the theme of constructs. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review – Construct Compendium”