D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 49 Recap

We rescue Rhundorth and escape the earth dungeon to rest and level up to 10, then tackle the water domain.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

My players have been in an awkward situation for the last few sessions. They’ve reached enough experience to level up to 10. But one of our house rules states that the PCs can only level up after a Long Rest. Right now they’re knee-deep in the depths of an elemental dungeon, about three dungeons below the surface.

Due to “Princes of the Apocalypse’s” interconnected labyrinthine mega-dungeons, finding a safe place to rest has proven difficult.

In this week’s session, Talus used his Arcane Eye to scout out the rest of the Black Geode  – finding the indentured Rhundorth. The party rescued the dwarf before retreating back up to the Fane of the Eye to find a safe place to rest, level up, and decide where to go next. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 49 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 48 Recap

We delve further into the monstrous depths of the deepest caverns of Elemental Earth – the Black Geode.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

My players often use standard shock ‘n awe, charge in the front door tactics. Many times when confronted with foes that are not immediately hostile, a fight ends up breaking out anyway.

I’ve been trying to steer away from this on my part, offering the PCs other ways and opportunities rather than just straight combat. My favorite RPGs, like the older isometric Fallout titles, offered multiple ways to get past enemies or tackle a challenge, with “kill ’em all” as only one possible solution.

This week the party manages to overcome two separate encounters without fighting. Well technically one fight did break out, but the party opted to end it fairly peacefully and escape.

The Black Geode is crawling with elemental evil, and the party pushes their limited resources to the limits as they make their way deeper into the crystal caverns. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 48 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 47 Recap

We journey deeper into the elemental earth dungeons, beyond a pair of tic-tac-toe playing giants.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Our heroes find themselves in the middle of a dungeon crawl of elemental evil. Due to the nature of “Princes of the Apocalypse,” they’re exploring a dungeon I don’t necessarily need or want them in, however. The solution? Give them a map with fairly obvious neon blinking arrows.

I’ve been known to pull out some DM cheats to get the players to go where I want. Directly railroading your players usually isn’t fun, but if your players are more frustrated than fascinated by directionless exploration (as mine are), it can be a useful tool to pull out a magically locked gate, or an incredibly useful map.

I had them find maps of both the current dungeon and the next one, the Fane of the Eye. They’d explored quite a bit of the Fane already, but hadn’t approached from the Earth side yet.

Meanwhile they were cutting a haphazard path through the Earth Temple. It was fun enough but with the prophet gone their main goal was simply getting down to the Fane, and from there start exploring the deeper Elemental Node dungeons. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 47 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 45 Recap

We stir up the hornet’s nest at the entrance to the Temple of the Black Earth, then confront a Mud Sorcerer

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

After weeks of side treks, character-focused story lines, and overland travel, we’re back to good old fashioned dungeon crawling. We’re officially entering the late game portion of “Princes of the Apocalypse.” The PCs know what needs to be done and generally where to do it.

But the elemental cults have large, sprawling, interconnected dungeons. Time to knock on the main entrance! Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 45 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 44 Recap

Our heroes journey to Summit Hall to steal a knight’s body for a lich. “Heroes.”

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

RPG groups can range from die-hard role-players with nary a dice roll to hardcore combat aficionados where story is merely an excuse to fight monsters. My group definitely veers closer to the latter camp. They enjoy a good story and fun character-focused moments, but in the end it’s all about the battles. So it was very unusual this week that we barely had any combat at all.

This week the PCs traveled around and completed three side quests before finally delving back into the elemental dungeons. Two of the quests had technically already been completed – the shrine last week and the renegade paladins from a few weeks ago. But the third required a trip to Summit Hall, which I set up as a role-playing scenario. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 44 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 43 Recap

We journey back to the Sumber Hills to find a holy dwarven shrine infested with bandits.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

The tricky thing about side quests is that they’re technically optional. As a DM there’s a definite allure to creating an open-world filled with things to do. But I’m not exactly Bethesda or Rockstar. Creating or adapting content into Roll20 takes time – and anything my players choose not to do unfortunately becomes time wasted (although the way “Princes of the Apocalypse” is structured it’s not only possible but even emphasized that the PCs skip some of the main quest dungeons).

That hasn’t happened too much in our campaign. What does happen is my players putting off at least one side quest until much later, after they’d gained two more levels. The Vale of Dancing Waters side trek was designed for a 7th level party, and certainly meant to be tackled before their mishaps in Yartar last week.

I could’ve adjusted the self-contained encounters a bit to make them more challenging, but these side treks tend to lean easy anyway since the party is almost always fully-rested.

So they made it to the Shrine of Tender Oaths and kicked its ass – including some fun moments. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 43 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 42 Recap

We travel to Yartar to recover an elemental orb from the Black Market; Talus’ past catches up to him.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

We dive into another official side trek this week, and one of my favorites from the “Princes of the Apocalypse” campaign book. Dark Dealings in Yartar features some fun role-playing opportunities in an urban setting that we rarely get to explore, culminating in a big brawl in a graveyard.

Of course I also used the opportunity to add an additional NPC from one of my PCs’ past. Given the smaller, more contained story-telling in the side treks it’s much easier to mold them into my players’ backstories.

This week, Talus’ shady past as a former Red Wizard puts them all in an extra bit of danger. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 42 Recap”