DMs Guild Review – Sorrow’s Ruin

Help the church of Ilmater protect their people and their holy sites from their rivals in this 1st level adventure.

Advertisements

A review copy of “Sorrow’s Ruin” was provided by the publisher.

Designed by: Blaise Wigglesworth

dms guild reviewFirst level Dungeons & Dragons just kind of sucks. Fifth Edition has improved it somewhat (no more Wizard with 2 hp dying to a single goblin), but it’s still very rough and limiting. Every official published adventure by Wizards of the Coast fast-tracks player characters out of the early levels as quickly as possible.

Designing meaningful adventures for 1st level PCs is thus quite the challenge, but “Sorrow’s Ruin” makes it look easy. “Sorrow’s Ruin” is designed as a one-shot adventure for 1st-level PCs, and portrays an intriguing story along with a variety of encounters and social opportunities. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review – Sorrow’s Ruin”

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

We say farewell to Storm King’s Thunder in our massive recap episode.

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”

This is it, my very last Storm King’s Thunder recap.

As with previous recap sessions, we had fun revisiting and reminiscing our full 16-month campaign map by map, as well as revealing some fun stats I had been tracking (our epilogue was actually at the end of our final session last week).

  • Total Sessions: 65
  • Calendar Length: March 2017 – August 2018
  • Total Time: 175.5 hours
  • Average Session Length: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Number of Times We Fell Unconscious (0 hp): 12
  • Most Unconscious: Tie – TIM (5), Korinn (5)
  • Total Wild Magic Surge Rolls: 20 (~1 every 3 sessions)
  • Total Amount of Inspiration Earned: 79 (~1 every 4 sessions per person, though no Inspiration was earned in the first 8 sessions).
  • Number of Sessions with No Combat: 7

For a summarized, at-a-glance recap of our entire campaign, I’ve broken down all the major events, organized by level, below.

Level 1

  • We arrive in Nightstone to find it destroyed, abandoned, and taken over by goblins.
  • We defeat all the goblins, meet Kella and learn about inbound Zhentarim.
  • Find a Harper code book with leads to Bryn Shander.

Level 2

  • Ambush the first wave of Zhentarim, meet the remaining town guards.
  • Defend against the second, much larger wave of Zhentarim, saved when Felgolos shows up to chase them off.

d&d

Level 3

  • Cross the goblin-infested forest to reach the Dripping Caves to rescue the townsfolk.
  • Defeat the goblin leader, but make friends with Snigbat and spare the goblin babies.
  • Escort the townsfolk back to Nightstone.

Level 4

  • Meet Zephyros outside Nightstone, who offers to take us to Bryn Shander.
  • Fend off an attack of air cultists, then convince an dwarven army to stand down.
  • Attacked by Iymrith (though we didn’t know it at the time). Zephyros goes out in a blaze of glory, dumping us a few miles outside Bryn Shander.
  • Hunted by Yetis, then hunting them in turn.

d&d

  • Arrive in Bryn Shander, meet a large number of friendly faces.
  • Survive an assassination attempt by Zhentarim.
  • Defend the town against a siege of Frost Giants who are looking for Artus Cimber and the Ring of Winter.
  • Get a ton of new quests.

Level 5

  • Solve some local problems around the icy Ten Towns region.
  • Continue to follow up with Harpers, travel to Hundelstone, then on to Mirabar.
  • Survive a road ambush by Zhentarim agents.
  • Arrive in Xantharl’s Keep. Scout out the Zhentarim outpost nearby.
  • Stealthily assault the Zentarim Outpost, completely cleaning it out.

Level 6

  • Begin the lengthy journey to Everlund.
  • In Triboar we witness the aftermath of a Fire Giant attack.
  • Escort refugees to Yartar.
  • Met a nobleman on the road who was afflicted with aboleth poison.
  • In Yartar we followup with the nobleman, leading to a gambling boathouse called the Grand Dame.
  • Uncover a plot with an aboleth kidnapping nobles and trying to supplant them.
  • Defeat the aboleth in the sewers beneath Yartar.

D&D

  • We arrive in Everlund, get teleport access.
  • We battle some fire giants nearby and rescue Snigbat.
  • Return stolen money to a local Hippogriff breeder in Hawk’s Nest. We get hippogriffs!
  • Teleport to Neverwinter to attend the Roaringhorn Gala.
  • Assault the Feral Hound tavern and capture the Weevil, who feeds us information.

Level 7

  • New main quest update: gather Giant relics from various sites.
  • First is the Grandfather Tree, where we navigate a ghostly maze underground.
  • Next is Beorunna’s Well, which is massive pit, home to a tribe of barbarians.
  • Meet a group of dragonslayers who are hunting Felgolos. Turn on them and agree to help Felgolos.
  • Take a detour east with Felgolos to the desert.

d&d

  • Sneak our way to blue dragon hordes. Make them angry and fight them off, actually killing them.
  • At Morgur’s Mound we meet friendly frost giant Harshnag.

Level 8

  • Survive automated defenses at Raven Rock.
  • We hop on an airship sent by an ancient red dragon, Klauth.
  • Meet with Klauth. All glory to Klauth!
  • The airship drops us off at Great Worm Cavern.
  • Solve a war between white and blue dragonborn.
  • Make it to the Temple of the All-Father, find Harshnag captured at the entrance. A big battle with frost and stone giants ensues.

d&d

  • Make it inside and gather more pieces, leading to more battles, traps, and puzzles.
  • Finally get an audience with the oracle. Need to get to the Maelstrom. Need Conch from another giant boss to get there.
  • We pick cloud giants, since the oracle tells us they’re currently torturing our friend Felgolos!
  • Upon leaving Iymrith shows up. Harshnag sacrifices himself so we can escape via Klauth’s airship.

Level 9

  • Klauth tells us more about TIM. We journey to his old cabin, learn more truths and fight more stuff.
  • The cabin happens to be near Goldenfields, so we follow up on a very old side quest from Bryn Shander, recruiting a giant slayer and helping defeat a full on siege of hill giants and ogres.
  • We learned about an island base that the K society was using. We kill everyone and everything.

d&D

Level 10

  • Take our hippogriffs to Lyn Armaal, the flying cloud giant castle.
  • Use combinations of stealth, disguise, and mind control (suggestion), to effectively rescue Felgolos without fighting a single giant!
  • Convince the cloud giant leader to simply hand over the conch.
  • Before teleporting to the Maelstrom, we go after the Weevil, who had recently escaped and was hiding out in Everlund.
  • Sneak our way inside and minimize threats until a final battle with the Weevil. Finally kill his ass.
  • We teleport to the Maelstrom.
  • TIM randomly finds shortcut that lead to other areas of the dungeon, including a massive treasure room, and the backdoor to the throne room. Avoid the entire dungeon!

d&d

  • We stealthily get a private audience with the princess, get next clue.
  • Return to Yartar and the Grand Dame. Clean it out rather violently, learn location of Hekaton, and the Sculptor’s Tower.
  • Assault the Sculptor’s Tower. Kill everything.

Level 11

  • Team up with Felgolos to cross the ocean.
  • Find the Morkoth and attack a ship full of pirates and cultists head-on.
  • Rescue King Hekaton and teleport out of there before the kraken himself can tear the ship (and us) apart.
  • Learn the true nature of our villain, and realize she was there in the Maelstrom.

D&D

  • Return to the Maelstrom to find Iymrith holding the sceptor, storm giants dead, and Serissa incapacitated.
  • She escapes. We rest up, locate her lair, get giant growth potions, and go after her.
  • We teleport to Iymirth’s Lair and charge with our new giant bodies, dodging boulders and fighting gargoyles.
  • Make it underground, defeat some Yuan-Ti and tescue Harshnag. He’s alive!
  • Fight the ancient blue dragon, and defeat her once and for all. GG!

Epilogue

Kazin: Kazin extradites Attalia and returns to the Mind-Zei monastery to rebuild it. He also keeps an eye on Slarkrethel the kraken.

 

Bryseis: Bryseis goes to Waterdeep to find her expansion of the family gambling business already underway, and partnered with Miri. Bryseis runs the Waterdeep branch, and subtly continues her own Zhentarim operations.

 

Korinn: Becomes the sole leader of the blue dragonborn tribe. Gets to work rebuilding their entire society after Iymrith’s devastating influence.

 

T.I.M.: Wielding both Dawn Guard and Dawn Strike brings back many of TIM’s memories as a holy warrior. He also learns of other lost warforged wandering around, aimless after Iyrmith’s defeat, and gives them a purpose with Lathander.

 

Halfred: Halfred returns home to his shire, which has to rebuild after a stone giant siege. Halfred officially becomes the new Wombat-man and teams up with Harshnag for future adventures.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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 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.

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 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.

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

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.

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 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”