D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 22 Recap

We finally complete our journey to Everlund, get a new quest from the Harpers, and hunt a pair of thieving Fire Giants.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

“They’re here,” Halfred said, after snapping out of his trance-like state. I’d seen him do this countless times, but it still creeped me out to watch his eyes glaze over as his senses projected outward several miles. “Just over this ridge.”

We’d come to a large rock wall nestled among the Nether Mountains. We had been tracking the Giants for the better part of the day, and knew they weren’t moving.

Korinn cast Invisibility on Halfred, who immediately took to the air on his new Winged Boots.

We calmly waited as best we could, not daring to speak with enemies so close. We began hearing hammers and picks on the other side of the rocks. 

A sudden whispering voice nearly made me fall off my horse, until I realized Halfred had returned.

“A pair of them, armored giants,” Halfred reported. “They’re looking over a gang of goblins who are digging. A Hobgoblin is keeping them in line with a whip. There was also a fiery dog looking on.”

My heart sank; that was more than just the giants. But we still had the element of surprise, and time to prepare. We began drinking potions and quietly casting spells while Halfred kept watch. We formed a plan, and let Halfred take point.

T.I.M. and I crept toward the crude path that ran to the pit, and I got my first glimpse of the giant creatures. Skin the color of ash and metal, hair the color of fire, they towered 15 feet tall, carrying swords nearly as big. T.I.M. stood rigid while I calmed my racing mind and waited for the signal.

I expected the signal to be an arrow, but the damn halfling has no fear when it comes to hunting Giants. Halfred appeared in a sudden flash of whirling steel, striking the nearest Fire Giant directly in the eyes while hovering in front of its face.

The giant roared in agony, and gods help us we roared back, and charged. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 22 Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 20 Recap

Our investigation of Yartar’s kidnappings leads to a riverboat gambling den, and a figure from Kazin’s past.

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PROGRAMMING NOTE: Next week’s session has been moved to Wednesday, September 13. Same start time.

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

“STOP!” My thoughts rang out in alarm, focusing squarely on the woman in front of me. The woman I’d loved, once.

She turned around. Even by the sickly dim light of the sewers she was still beautiful.

“Who…?” she began, startled. “Your mind is familiar…”

I pulled my hood back and ended the magical disguise that made me appear more human. I focused Ellaria with my most intense stare, hoping me emotions wouldn’t betray me.

“Kazin, it’s so good to see you!” she rushed forward as if to embrace an old friend. For an instant I wanted to take her in my arms. But the slumped man in the corner made me take a step backwards.

“What are you doing?” 

“I’m doing what I must. I’ve been forced to do terrible things. But you can help me escape them!” Her eyes were big, her face pleading.

Words poured out of her mouth. A man named Useth had come to the Mind-Zei monastery, promising more psychic power. Those he couldn’t recruit he enslaved. She was a victim.

I’d been burned by her flames of passion before. I felt an iron sheath close over my heart. I reached out with my mind and focused on hers, willing her thoughts to speak to me. Her mind met mine with outrage that soon turned to fear.

Her thoughts were laid bare. She was concentrating too much on keeping up the deception. She’d gone with Useth willingly. She hungered for more power.

“This isn’t safe, you shouldn’t be in here. He won’t allow you to be in here!” I realized her mind was speaking to mine even as I probed it. I saw her handing over the victims of Yartar to monstrous fish-folk. 

“Don’t do this!” She was speaking directly to me now, her face a mask of terror. “You don’t understand the power they promised us, Kazin. Our minds can be opened!”

That’s when I felt it. The same unnerving energy from the frightening creature in the Zhentarim outpost. A powerful psychic link. A chill dread shot up my spine.

My mind followed the trail, across mountains, forests. Into the ocean. Plunging under the depths. Deeper, deeper. “Stop it!” her voice screamed. But I was close, I could almost see-

A blast of psychic energy rocked me backwards as the link was severed. I blinked and looked up. A trickle of blood dripped out of Ellaria’s nose, and she crumbled to the ground.

I was shocked last week when we made it through an entire session without any combat. Make that two sessions now! This week we had some fun in Yartar infiltrating a riverboat gambling establishment to investigate a rash of disappearances around the town. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 20 Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 16 Recap

We arrive in Xantharl’s Keep to investigate Zhentarim activity in the area, and discover their hideout.

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NOTE: Makeup this was a makeup Wednesday session, with no session on Friday!

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

Halfred’s bow sang out, and the Zhentarim thug gave a startled gasp as an arrow sunk into his shoulder. He glanced around wildly, perhaps noticing for the first time he was the last one in his group alive.

My mind probed into his, grasping and shaping his fear like a piece of clay. “Throw your weapons down if you don’t want to be cut down like your friends,” I intoned menacingly. “The information you provide could spare your life.”

The young man blanched, eyes wide. He spared a fearful glance toward the cave entrance, then met my gaze. He threw down his weapons.

“Don’t kill me, don’t kill me! Just let me go,” he whimpered.

“Smart man.”

We spent a bit of time shopping in Mirabar, one of the largest cities we’ve seen in this adventure. There were some solid magic items to be had, namely some Mithral Armor (half plate) and a Sentinel Shield.

Since I plan on multi-classing into paladin next level, I was all over that armor. I sold as much loot as I could, and still had to borrow a few coins from Bryseis, who just won the damn lottery from selling the pearls from Drufi’s helmet.

It took literally all my money but I secured much better medium armor than I thought I’d be able to acquire any time soon. I can only glance at it wistfully for now, but next level, oh boy! Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 16 Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 9 Recap

We survive the Yetis and make it to Bryn Shander, a city that’s not as safe as we thought.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Due to two people being out of town, there will be no D&D session this week (6/16). Session 10 should resume on 6/23

We kept going. We trudged North. Yetis be damned, we had to make it to Bryn Shander soon. We were not going to survive out here. 

The damn beasts were hunting us. Their fear of fire kept them distant, Bryseis made sure of that. Halfred was a hunter of monstrosities and could track them easily. It was more unnerving getting constant updates on their whereabouts. They circled around us, flanked us, herded us.

We came up to a pair of small ridges on either side of the road we were following. One of the creatures lay waiting. Bryseis fired up her Dancing Lights as a protective barrier, and we moved as a scared, huddled group, knowing full well the power these things wielded. We were in their territory, at their mercy.

The Yeti leapt down when we tried to pass and roared defiantly. We heard its mate answer the roar some distance behind us.

The scars from my near death experience itched savagely under my robes and leathers. I could succumb to fear, or let the rage building inside me take over. I couldn’t feel the calming serenity I had been so carefully taught. Only fear and hatred. It was dangerous to give in, but it could also be a weapon.

I threw down my torch at the creature. It glowed softly in the snow. The Yeti jerked back for only an instant, then crouched down on all fours to let loose a chilling scream.

I was already numb to the constant cold around me. I let myself feel numb to the fear as well. I focused my mind and reached into my chest, withdrawing the psi-glaive that manifests from my psychic energy.

Before the others could react, I screamed back, both in my mind and out loud, and charged at the beast. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 9 Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 1 Recap

Our new party comes together, and we begin exploring the strangely abandoned town of Nightstone.

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Making friends came easy to me; I had made plenty growing up. But none as strange as these. I carefully considered each one of them from beneath the cowl of the midnight-blue robes of my order.

The tiefling woman, Bryseis, was the first I met. She was also interested in the tales of the monolith in Nightstone. She seemed powerful, but unpredictable. I didn’t want to pin her obvious demonic heritage on her demeanor, but she seemed to delight in the chaos and magic around her. 

A halfling tracker named Halfred found us, and he seemed nice enough. He was preoccupied with giants. Apparently they’ve been restless lately, and his path crosses with ours. Despite his size he carries a mean longbow nearly as big as he is.

I’d met few dragonborn in my day and Korinn certainly fits my understanding of them: proud, honorable, and quick to action. Despite being a sorcerer she likes to wield a crossbow. I believe she has some kind of military background, and seems to carry it around like a burden.

Our final member is stranger than all the rest combined. Calling itself “T.I.M.,” a living construct of wood and metal ambled out of the nearby Ardeep Forest on our way to Nightstone. Despite its grave appearance it was completely friendly – the friendliest one of all in fact. I’m still trying to figure it (him? her?) out, and grew even more alarmed when I witnessed T.I.M. channeling divine power.

We came upon the town of Nightstone, and Halfred went to work identifying the muddy footprints outside the drawbridge. The town had seen a mass exodus, while goblins and worgs filed in afterward. We could see a pair of worgs in the middle of the town, their mouths wet with blood as they feasted.

Halfred had some concerns about attacking the beasts, but this was our best chance. Bryseis lured one of them closer with a Dancing Lights spell, perhaps enjoying toying with it a bit too much. When it leapt at the lights we fired off attacks, spells and arrows. The beast lay dead before it even reached us. 

We approached the town gate. Our adventure lay before us.

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Welcome to four first official recap of “Storm King’s Thunder!” These recaps will be a bit different than our previous campaigns, as I’m not the DM. Instead I’ll include a fun little role-playing story at the beginning of each recap ripped from the session, then dive into the recap from my point of view as a player.

I really enjoyed the prologue our DM concocted to introduce our characters and bring us all together. Each little vignette included a skill check or save we had to make – all five of us passed! We are a very diverse bunch with widely different backgrounds but hopefully we can find a way to work together.

We met outside the gates of Nightstone, a fortified town near Waterdeep. Our halfling ranger rolled a critical success on identifying the footprints outside the gate, giving us clues that this town was a hostile area. From just outside of town we could see a pair of worgs, though they were busy eating.

Worgs are bad news, and often used as goblin mounts. Halfred and T.I.M. had some reservations about attacking them first, but this was our best chance to take them out. We launched a bevy of ranged attacks, Eldritch Blast, Firebolt, Longbow, Crossbow, etc. The first worg lay dead before it reached us, while the other didn’t even notice.

I suspect our DM was a little miffed we took out the creature so easily, so when we tried to get a bit closer before unleashing a similar assault, the second worg noticed us and charged, using Dash to close in fast. Still we got off a ton of attacks and downed it quickly.

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The town resembled Thundertree from our Phandelver campaign; an outdoor dungeon with buildings to explore. And holy crap was it huge! I’m not a fan of the way the map simply halved the grid size, making all our tokens super tiny even when zoomed in all the way. But the sheer scale of this town is damn impressive and intimidating.

We checked out the temple first, since the bell hadn’t stopped ringing since we arrived. Inside was a pair of goblins happily pulling the rope of the bell. A fight broke out when I opened the door. Thankfully they both missed me, and I was able to murder one with a single blow from my staff. I used Awakened Mind and the fact that we were five against one to talk the other down from fighting and try to get some information.

The goblin was forthcoming but didn’t really know much. The town was empty when they arrived, and they were simply looting. The rest of the party asked their questions but no one knew how to deal with him. We decided to cut the rope, barricade the door, and trap him inside for now.

From there we scoped out the nearby inn. The town was full of giant rocks that had done significant damage to everything; the inn had massive holes from the ceiling down to the ground.

The inn contained a dead goblin and a fully functioning bar, huzzah! Unfortunately the Dynamic Lighting for the Roll20 campaign package screwed up a bit here, as we could see beyond the next room and the goblin that lay within.

We didn’t really plan anything and just opened the door, finding the goblin with a giant loot sack. He charged and did some nasty damage. We outnumbered him five to one and it still took us two rounds to take him down. T.I.M. had to cast Cure Wounds!

The lootsack was mostly full of crap, with a few broken treasure items we could sell.

The upstairs of the inn contained a number of doors and Halfred impressed once again with a 25 Perception roll. One room contained a strange woman who seemed bewildered by the attacks and looting. I made an Insight check with a 15, and could tell she was lying.

Things got a bit tricky here, as this woman eventually revealed herself to be a member of the Zhentarim, which apparently features into Bryseis’ backstory. That’s nifty, but Bryseis’ response was to attack her, while the rest of the party wanted more information. I mean hell, they didn’t want to attack the blood-thirsty worgs, of course they’re going to need more to go on here!

After a bit of arguing and information-gathering (the Zhents wanted to move in and take over, but we did learn that the rocks and damage was caused by a floating cloud giant castle, whoa!) Bryseis reached out to cast Shocking Grasp and get the party started.

In close proximity it was a simple back and forth trading of blows, though the spy had multiattack and cut me up pretty bad. I used Dissonant Whispers to drop her dead from psychic assault in response. Clearly the tiefling has some explaining to do, and we may need to make some ground rules for our party going forward lest we fall apart before our story gets started.

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D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 0 – Introducing Our Characters

We create our new level 1 characters for our next D&D campaign

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After over a year with our first D&D 5e characters, it was time for a change. You’ve already seen the announcement that our next adventure will be another officially published 5E campaign: “Storm King’s Thunder.” The other big news is that Chris (who played everyone’s favorite zealous Paladin Kalinaar) will be sitting in the DM’s chair, and I’ll become a player!

The streaming schedule, YouTube channel, and weekly recaps will remain the same. Our campaign will begin with Session 1 on Friday, April 14. But first we needed to create our new characters. Welcome to Session 0 – Character Creation!

To summarize our session, I’ve copied each player’s character backstory (as written by them) as well as a screencap of their level 1 character sheet. Wish us luck against the giants this year!

Kazin, Half-Elf Warlock (Pact – Great Old One)

Played by Eric

Born as a bastard son of an elf lord, Kazin rarely met his aloof father. He was raised by his human mother in Neverwinter, but his father made sure they never wanted for anything.

Despite middle-upper class upbringing and schooling, Kazin never took to bookwork, instead displaying a natural athleticism. Around puberty, however, he began suffering from terrible headaches. He could hear the thoughts of others, and sometimes they could hear his. His mother sought after numerous physicians, mages, and caregivers. Finally someone showed up who could help, a most unexpected ally – a cloud giant wizard named Zephyros.

After some weeks spent aboard his floating tower, Zephyros delivered him to a solitary monastery nestled in the mountains, home to a little-known and even less understood organization called Mind-Zei. There he learned how to quiet his mind, and tap into the thoughts in his head, controlling them rather than letting them control him.

The Mind-Zei monks told him that many kids are born with “awakened minds” – those touched by the alien beings of the Far Realm. Whether through purpose or cosmic joke, many are driven insane after puberty, when their powers begin to manifest. The Mind-Zei attempt to reach them before that happens and train them to control their telepathic and telekinetic powers. They are not always successful, however…

Kazin flourished under their guidance. Instead of meditation and quiet solitude he would practice martial skills to help keep his mind focused. His natural talents and drive worried some of the order, but when he came of age they agreed to let him travel the world. Their only wish was for Kazin to maintain the harmonic balance within his mind, and help those who exhibit the same symptoms (or put them out of their misery).

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T.I.M., Warforged Cleric (Life Domain)

Played by Reese

T.I.M. hails from Ardeep Forest and started out as a body guard for his master and creator. Although it was an odd occupation, since his (his? its? her? the androgynous construct’s?) creator was a bit of a hermit and needed no protection from the local fauna.

T.I.M. was taught the healing arts from his creator as well as how to spot a bog leach at a hundred paces. One day, as T.I.M. was out looking for said leaches, he returned home to find his creator dead and probably not from natural causes. What could have killed such a mighty god? Food poisoning? An impacted bowel? Healing bog leaches? A paper cut? T.I.M. had not a clue.

T.I.M. then shrugged at this unknown quantity. With a handful of leaches and no other humans to adhere them to, T.I.M. took off for the nearest town.

Before he left, he made sure to gather the holy book of wisdom written by his creator. A book his creator wrote in every day, usually in the evening, and had scrawled diary on the front for some reason. “Onward,” thought T.I.M., “to find other fellow humans that totally aren’t made of metal and wood! Just like me.”

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Bryseis, Tiefling Sorcerer (Wild Magic)

Played by Heather

I grew up as the only daughter of Lyandra Esterborn. Lyandra ran a gambling parlor, Hope House in Baldur’s Gate. She was loved by everyone and despised by those who thought they could beat the house. She loved the irony of calling her business Hope House because while her patrons came in Hoping to fix their troubles they left worse off then before.

From a young age I watched my mother and those who came to Hope House and learned everything I could. I learned how to charm those around me and make them feel at ease even though they couldn’t see past my appearance. As a child they didn’t see me for the threat that I had become.

As a teenager I began to have issues with the world around me. I could feel a force inside me asking to be released. The more I tried to reign in this force the more dangerous I became. It was then that my mother found a teacher who understood what was going on. My teacher taught me that the force I was feeling inside me was the power and magic that was inherent in the world. She taught me how to find the power and how to harness it for my needs.

While I was learning to control this power I fell into the love of gambling. The feel of the cards in my hand, the risk of not coming out on top. My mother taught me how to always win, but with this new magic I never know what is going to happen especially when I left the magic take control.

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Halfred, Halfling Ranger

Played by Raymond

For as long as Halfred can remember (which isn’t long given his worsening memory loss), he has served for his master, Wuce Brayne, and his family. Following the tragic murder of Wuce’s parents, Halfred took him in and raised him as a son. When Wuce came of age, he inherited his parents’ multimillion fortune and the best hill mansion money could buy, with Halfred still at his side.

Unfortunately for halflings, money doesn’t buy happiness. Years before the onset of this campaign, Wuce Brayne had set out on a soul-searching journey, inviting Halfred to join him. Along the way, Halfred learned a few basic combat skills and the skills necessary to survive out in the wild. After precisely one year, two months, and eight days, Wuce and Halfred returned to their home town, Gotham Shire.

Unfortunately, things were not the same. During their absence, a golden ring had gone missing. Giants, ogres, and harpies were becoming unsettled. They were terrorizing the halflings who just wanted to live peacefully and have their afternoon tea. Something had to be done.

It was at this point that Wuce realized his true calling. This journey gave him the strength to achieve what no other halfling could do. Wuce donned his mask and It was this day that the Wombatman was born.

Meanwhile, Halfred continued to serve Master Wuce as the only one who knew the Wombatman’s true identity. He continued to do a couple push-ups a day to maintain his upper body strength. Crime was down. Giants and ogres were no longer terrorizing the halflings of Gotham Shire. Then one day, Halfred could see the eureka moment in his Master Wuce. Wuce said in his gruff voice, “Halfred, the answer is in the giants. Follow the giants.” And with that, Wuce as the Wombatman drove off in his Wombatmobile, never to be seen again.

And thus begins the story of Halfred the servant.

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Korinn, Blue Dragonborn Sorcerer (Draconic Bloodline – White)

Played by Rachelle

Korinn was a renowned warrior of a tribe of blue dragonborn. Tribal wars broke out with the treacherous and low white dragonborn.

In a pivotal battle, Korinn set her sights on the commander of the enemy tribe. One on one battle ensued. Drenched in his blood, she felt herself weakening with his blood corrupting hers and stripping her of much of her power. She was about to give the finishing blow but the enemy was upon her, striking her down. A mortal wound. Sensing death, they left her to her fate.

Alone on the battlefield, writhing in agony, and near the end, she was visited by Bahamut (or so she thinks) who gave her a chance at redemption to lead her tribe to glory. Too ashamed to face her tribe now that she is tainted with white dragon blood, she instead journeys to cleanse herself so that she might someday return.

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D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Epilogue & Recap

Our final session of the campaign is a tell-all recap of our adventures

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

This is it, the final session report for “Princes of the Apocalypse.”

The timing actually worked out where we did the full epilogue to our campaign directly after the final battle in Session 57. This week’s session was entirely devoted to recapping our year-plus long campaign, as well as revealing all the maps to the players, analyzing the paths and choices they made, and giving our final thoughts to this official published adventure.

Instead of regurgitating the full recap in written form, I’m going to use this space to list some fun facts, outline our general plot flow, and give my thoughts on “Princes of the Apocalypse” from a DM perspective. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Epilogue & Recap”