D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 31 Recap

We sneak past trolls and ogres with stealth and deception before battling reavers and bugbears. Curious water weird tanks are found while we escape the elemental temples.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

When exploring a large dungeon, I prefer not to leave it as a series of static rooms filled with monsters and traps. Depending on how much prep time I have, I try to include unique scenarios, dialogue, and role-playing situations whenever I can to break up the blood bath. Particularly after the super long combat encounter that lasted all last session.

This week our heroes squeezed in a Short Rest before having to think on their feet and employ some stealth and deception to make it through a series of trolls, ogres, and an opportunity-seizing sea hag named Thuluna. They discovered magical experiments involving mobile Water Weird battle tanks, and a whole host of baddies to take down as they made their way out of Crushing Wave territory. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 31 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 30 Recap

An explosive trap sets off an epic battle in the heart of the water temple with cultists, lizardfolk, and a dragon turtle.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Some sessions are filled with intrigue, role-playing, puzzles, and exploration. Others are just one big battle royale. Our thirtieth session was the latter, as our heroes charge forth into the waiting arms of the water cultists.

My players’ progress within the water temple has been haphazard at best. They narrowly avoided being slaughtered by the dragon turtle, and at one point looked to be separating to different corners via the underground river.

But they regrouped and headed North and East, which lead them straight to the boss. They defeated Gar quite handily (being at nearly full strength).

But now most of the temple lay before them – and its denizens were aware of intruders lurking about. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 30 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 29 Recap

The party survives an ambush and takes on the leader of the Crushing Wave cult with help, then betrayal from their lizardfolk allies.

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Holy crap my players are powerful. Like Polymorph the captured rogue into a giant ape that kills everything, powerful.

D&D’s always had a weird balance that revolves around attrition. Creatures are given a Challenge Rating and DM’s have a tool to calculate how to make encounters Easy, Medium, Hard, and Deadly depending on the type and number of enemies.

But that assumes a “well-rested party.” Much of the challenge of D&D comes from fights taking a gradual toll on the party’s resources. It was a tricky balancing act, particularly in dungeons.

5E lets the party Short Rest to recover some abilities. If the party does that right before a major boss battle, they’re sitting much prettier than an otherwise easy or medium fight that’s at the end of a long string of encounters. See for example the near deadly fire elemental encounter near the end of Scarlet Moon Hall.

For this week’s session the party tackled their biggest boss battle to date – the leader/prophet of Elemental Water Gar Shatterkeel, and suffered nary a scratch. I even threw an extra force of reinforcements at them, AND had their lizardfolk allies turn on them afterward.

frysquintThe PCs defeated them all.

Nary a scratch.

 

 

Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 29 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 28 Recap

In the water temple the party stumbles on a massive dragon turtle lair and mounts a daring escape.

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

In some dungeon-crawling sessions we simply go room-to-room, slaying monsters and looting. The Action-RPG approach isn’t necessarily wrong – everyone plays D&D differently. Sometimes, however, your party stumbles into an area that’s way over their head, and the ensuing chaos can be just as fun as actual combat.

The party was on their third dungeon in a row, doing most of the air temple, running through almost half of the Fane, and emerging in the Water temple. It’s been hell on my prep work, but it also lead to some of our most memorable moments in the entire campaign.

The Cult of the Crushing Wave is home to the largest monster we’ve seen so far – a dragon turtle. Of course I was super excited to unleash this monstrosity, and the campaign book had several scenarios that Bronzefume could be utilized in.

Turns out, I wouldn’t need any of them. The party decided to jump into the river, and attempt to deal with a long series of Swim checks that lead them closer to the Market Hall/Docks area in the Southeast. I added some torches to the quay on the west side to help orient them a little better, but they spotted the glowing lights in the Western part of the lake. Like moths to the flame, they decided to investigate. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 28 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 27 Recap

Reaching the water section of the Fane we battle killer fungus and water weirds, and parley with a tribe of lizardfolk. Then it’s on to the Temple of the Crushing Wave!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

What do you do when you a have a string of interconnected dungeons, all of a different level, and no built-in way to stop your players from stumbling into them? Sit back and watch the chaos unfold.

When it comes to DMing, I’m far better at planning than ad-libbing. My skills at rolling with the punches have steadily improved, and it’s a very necessary skill to have to run a tabletop RPG.

That being said, I try to see where players are and what’s ahead and plan accordingly. These last few sessions have been extremely difficult in that regard, due to the dungeon layouts in “Princes of the Apocalypse.” I’m having to construct entire large dungeons every week as my party hops through them haphazardly. It’s fun to see which directions they take (seemingly at random!) but hell on my stress levels. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 27 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 14 Recap

The party defeats the wereboar leader of Rivergard. A hidden stream leads to a lake with a shark-riding knight!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

When we were running our Shadowrun campaign, I was able to do entire recap sessions to separate the individual missions or runs. This gave me a chance to elicit feedback from my players and breakdown what worked and what didn’t from both role-playing and technical points of view. Each run took 3-6 weeks, so we had these discussions at a nice pace.

While D&D Fifth Edition works much better for us overall, the campaigns are way longer. Our first, “The Lost Mine of Phandelver,” took four months. It’s looking like “Princes of the Apocalypse” will easily last us the rest of the year.

To compensate I’ve done little informal talks and breakdowns after our sessions and throughout the week. Since we’re all close friends I’m fortunate that I can pull back the curtain and discuss things a bit, while trying to avoid spoilers as best I can.

I’ve previously discussed my main problem with “Princes of the Apocalypse.” Its open world set-up and interconnected dungeons means player characters can (and likely will) stumble into higher level dungeons than they’re prepared for.

As my players pointed out after this session – continuing down that underground stream beneath Rivergard Keep seems like the bottom layer of that dungeon, and the natural next course of action. In reality it’s an entirely new dungeon – one that’s far bigger and several levels stronger than the Keep. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 14 Recap”