Tomb of Annihilation Session 3 Recap

In the city we learn about the guides, obtain a racing dinosaur, visit the Temple of Savras, and save an innocent man from Executioner’s Run.

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Previously on Tomb of Annihilation

Starring:
Mannix, level 2 Human Rogue
Khaless, level 2 Half-Drow Rogue
Therin, level 2 Hill Dwarf Druid

As the only major city in the entire campaign, Port Nyanzaru has a lot to offer. Shopping, hiring guides, racing dinosaurs, and lots of interesting quest hooks. I’ve read and seen many reports of players getting out of Port Nyanzaru as fast as possible to begin their jungle excursion, but I was ready to relish this unique city by throwing several major events and quest chains for my PCs.

In this week’s session we learned about the various guides the PCs can hire, teased the upcoming dinosaur race, and visited the Temple of Savras, which lead to multiple quest chains – including a rather thrilling rescue mission around Executioner’s Run.
Continue reading “Tomb of Annihilation Session 3 Recap”

Crafting Annihilation 09/13

This week’s Crafting Annihilation is all about Port Nyanzaru and the many things I have planned.

Behind-the-scenes DM-only live stream of building and preparing our ongoing Tomb of Annihilation D&D campaign.

Streamed live every Thursday.

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Tomb of Annihilation Session 2 Recap

The Brazen Pegasus endures pirates, a dragon turtle, and a half-dragon harbormaster to finally reach Port Nyanzaru.

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Previously on Tomb of Annihilation

Starring:
Mannix, level 1 Human Rogue
Khaless, level 1 Half-Drow Rogue
Gillian, level 1 Triton Bard
George, level 1 Tortle Fighter
Therin, level 1 Hill Dwarf Druid

To conclude our mini-Odyssey journey to Chult, I had two more scripted events planned. Both of them went off according to plan, establishing more of Chult’s dangerous flavor, introducing some interesting NPCs, and getting our level 1 heroes into Port Nyanzaru with a healthy bit of wear and tear.  Continue reading “Tomb of Annihilation Session 2 Recap”

Tomb of Annihilation Session 0 Recap

Meet our new cast of characters who will be entering the Tomb of Annihilation.

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It’s my first ever recap for our new Tomb of Annihilation campaign! But what is a Session 0 and how do I recap it?

A Session 0 serves two purposes. First it allows me, the DM, to introduce the campaign outside of the story. In other words, talk about new house rules, themes and setting, and what my players want out of it.

We’ve been playing together for enough years that I don’t really need to ask my players what they want from the campaign. I have a pretty good handle on the ratio of role-playing to combat to puzzles that each player is looking for.

The other purpose is it allows us to create our characters together. This is obviously a huge step in any adventure and it helps promote synergy between player characters, both mechanically and story-wise.

For Roll20, it also helps to get familiar with the new character sheets we’re using and how they work, making sure we don’t run into any technical difficulties when we kick off the campaign proper next week (which will also include character backstories and prologues).

It was a much shorter session, and thus will be a shorter recap! I will introduce our new player characters below, and we’ll see everyone next week when we officially start the campaign with session 1!

Note: For character creation I required everyone come up with Five Personality Traits to summarize their character, as well a single Quirk from a d100 list of Quirks I wrote. For stats we used the Roll Method, with the option to take the Standard Array if you were dissatisfied with the results.

tomb of annihilationMannix (played by Chris)
Human Rogue
True Neutral
Private Investigator (Urban Bounty Hunter)
STR: 10
DEX: 12
CON: 11
INT: 16
WIS: 14
CHA: 13
Traits: Disillusioned, Curious, Confident, Judgmental, Suspicious
Quirk: Trust issues; suspicious of everyone.
Concept: A noir detective who uses his wits and investigative skills to track people and solve problems.

DM Notes: I was impressed that Chris stuck to his guns with creating a character who was pretty bad at combat but really good at lots of skills, creating a more cerebral rogue with the highest INT score of the group. Have a feeling he’ll be getting a lot of use out the rogue Cunning Action to disengage from fights!

tomb of annihilationKhaless (played by Heather)
Half-drow Rogue
Chaotic Neutral
Criminal (Hired Killer)
STR: 12
DEX: 19
CON: 17
INT: 5
WIS: 12
CHA: 10
Traits: Invisible, Proud, Predatory, Obedient, Discrete
Quirk: Mispronounces words in trying to seem smart.
Concept: Enslaved by Red Wizards as a killer-on-a-leash, she escaped bondage and now swears vengeance on her handlers.

DM Notes: We’ve never had such a crazy roll on ability stats: as high as an 18 and as low as a 5! Heather rolled with it, creating a glaring dump stat (though INT is kinda crap in D&D 5E, but still, a -3!) but creating a rogue with a damn 19 in DEX at level 1. Despite both being rogues at level 1, Khaless and Mannix couldn’t be more different.

tomb of annihilationGillian Flounderson (played by Rachelle)
Triton Bard
Lawful Good
Noble
STR: 12
DEX: 14
CON: 14
INT: 8
WIS: 10
CHA: 16
Spells: Friends, Light, Thunderwave, Healing Word, Fog Cloud
Traits: Pompous, Kind-hearted, Philosophical, Tenacious, Socialite
Quirk: Dramatically swears vengeance on every foe.
Concept: A pampered debutante from a noble house expects everyone to treat her like a queen, and with her social skills and grace, most do.

DM Notes: A socialite triton in Chult will be a real fish out of water! With no Sorcerers or Warlocks in this party, Gillian is the only PC with a focus on CHA. I can see her doing much of the talking in the party, and given her personality and background should make for some interesting results.

tomb of annihilationGiorgiano “George” (played by Raymond)
Tortle Fighter
Lawful Good
Outlander (Bounty Hunter)
STR: 16
DEX: 14
CON: 14
INT: 13
WIS: 15
CHA: 8
Traits: Clumsy, C0nfident, Naive, Kind-hearted, Loyal
Quirk: Clean freak, hates being dirty or gross.
Concept: A warrior in training who was sent from his homeland to expand his worldview (and find monsters to slay).

DM Notes: Raymond tends to play jokey characters, so it should come as no surprise that we have a ninja tortle in the party! He’s the only STR-focused PC of the whole bunch, and his natural tortle AC will helps make him the tank. While he didn’t roll more than 14 on any stat, he still rolled really well with above average stats in almost everything, making one of of the more well-rounded PCs.

tomb of annihilationTherin Bristlebeard (played by Reese)
Hill Dwarf Druid
Neutral Good
Hermit
STR: 10
DEX: 16
CON: 18
INT: 11
WIS: 18
CHA: 10
Spells: Druidcraft, Poison Spray, Animal Friendship, Cure Wounds, Detect Magic, Entangle, Speak with Animals
Traits: Diligent, Even-tempered, Gruff, Stubborn, Miserly
Quirk: Obsessed with destroying the undead.
Concept: A grumpy but kind druid who helps those who are lost, but harbors a blood-thirsty side (hello wildshape!).

DM Notes: Reese won the stat lottery! Raymond did it in our previous campaign, but this time Reese rolled an incredible array of stats that added up to 80 total points! With the Hill Dwarf bonuses he was able to get two 18’s at level 1, which is nuts. With that CON bonus, Hill Dwarf HP bonus, and a shield Therin can easily be an off-tank, even before he gets wildshape at level 2.

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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”