Monday, 22 August 2016

D&D Life -- Issue 1 (August 2016)

For all you D&D lifestyle followers out there, here's your August update!

DM Report

Out of the Abyss continues apace! Deep into the third season, the party has thus far: arrived at Gracklstugh; achieved the patronage of Clan Henstak allowing them to move freely around Southfurrow; uncovered a long-held secret of the stone giants; got very worried that the wanted posters for the "Whorlstone Ripper" might actually be Buppido, in whose tender care, unfortunately, they left several friends; and finally might have begun to understand just how much interest the demonic invaders of the Underdark are taking in them.

In my version of OotA, Gracklstugh is core to the campaign, and several layers thick with plot. While I've been a bit concerned about the sheer amount of exposition required in the last couple of sessions, the group assures me they're having a good time, so three o'clock and all is well on that front. In what will come as a surprise to absolutely bloody no-one, I'm increasingly diverging from the text, but at the same time having a lot of fun using the spine of the published campaign as the basis for a pointedly PC-focused game (something I haven't done to this extent before now). There will come a time when this game is completely home-brew, pulling only from the book where needed, but we're a long way from that yet. I'm excited at the prospect -- having chunkified my DM'ing and all that.

Princes of the Apocalypse moves intermittently on, with the party absolutely intent on discovering every single temple and fane before venturing back to the surface! With Aerisi Kalinoth dispatched in an absolute nail-biter (which should, by the book, have wiped everyone out), the company has now ventured down the gullet of a petrified purple worm and found themselves in a whole new world of pain.

PotA is interesting because it's the first game we've ever played completely on-line. Initially it was just Skype and whatever graphics program I could find to easily add fog-of-war to the battle-mats, but in the interim we've invested in Fantasy Grounds and as I get accustomed to the painfully arcane and unintuitive interface, I find that the game is becoming ever more pleasurable to run inside the virtual table-top. With the PC's fully imported, everyone is happily slinging dice around and I'm even getting used to the combat tracker. It all works very well, but the prickly learning curve and incomprehensible UI will remain a painful memory as long as we use it. I think v2 is on the way; hopefully, they can keep the rich functionality and achieve an interface that feels more like it belongs on a 21st century desktop.

5E Dragonlance - The Age of Rebith concluded its first adventure, The Last Breath of Gunthar Uth-Wistan! We were a bit rushed at the end but I think everyone enjoyed it; I certainly did, both in the preparation, which was a blast, and the execution, where I've never felt so relaxed behind the screen. That group will be moving over to some Ravenloft for the next few sessions, but work has already begun on the next Dragonlance adventure.

I'll be posting The Last Breath of Gunthar Uth-Wistan as a free download on the blog. There's no way to publish it on the DM's Guild since Krynn is not openly licensed by Wizards (yet?), but it might inspire a few people to run some Dragonlance, hopefully without attracting the ire of WotC lawyers in the process (::innocent grin::).

Play Report

Play-wise, we concluded our first season of alt-DM's 5E Wheel of Time campaign. It went swimmingly, with runaway PC Lenka executing a major proportion of the character arc I had planned for her in the space of the first two sessions! All to the better, as she now has some purpose which might have been lacking before. Major props to alt-DM for handling some difficult decisions on our part with utter aplomb, and providing several memorable encounters.

This campaign comes parceled with several stipulations, including limitations on magic-using classes (they are few and far between), and some hardcore healing nerfs which have led to a few laughs around the table, but so far we've embraced the change and have not yet felt the sting of slow healing (although the campaign is young). Meanwhile, with only the DM having read Wheel of Time as far as I'm aware, we're all looking forward to immersing ourselves in one of the most famous fantasy literature settings out there. Very much looking forward to what lies down-river!

Other News

Bite size snippets for D&D lovers on-the-go:

  • Paid a stupid amount of money on eBay for three duergar miniatures -- turned out they were much better looking in the flesh than on the web page. Win!
  • Started experimenting with hand-drawn maps again, then decided this was a good time to invest in a pen for my Surface 3. Sketchify is a nice little app and looks promising so far; I can finally dispense with embarrassing Microsoft Paint-based "maps". Win!
  • Discovered this post on ENWorld where user Iskande suggests unbinding a Monster Manual so you can take only the pages you need to the table. Flashbacks to 2E Monstrous Manual. Mind blown. Win!
  • Mrs. Chasing bought d6 erasers for the table because I'm always having to borrow hers. Win!

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