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General How Was Your Last Session?


Yeah, for me it's also as much about hanging out with my RL friends and letting our kids play together for 4-5 hours every other week and D&D sorta happens for most of those 4-5 hours. Plus there's been other RL stuff for our group that has gotten in the way as well sans pandemic. I've looked into online play but have a hard time justifying ignoring 2 x 7 year old's for gaming when they don't have anyone else to occupy their time while that would be going on.

yeah, some of my players deal with kids too. Their solutions come from several angles: shorter games (2 hours), play after bedtime, so 9pm+, let the kids have a movie or video game for 2 hours, or let mom babysit. Or let the kids watch, which gets loud and the mute button is mashed a bunch, but it happens sometimes.

Again, Roll20 is not perfect, but if you want that DnD "feeling" and chat with friends a bit every week, it certainly works. As DM I have had a blast learning Roll20, although the learning curve was steep at first.

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Please delete this post, it was an accidental dupe and my embarrassing mistake needs to be scrubbed from the internet. ;)
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Session 2 was a cluster-f-bomb.

First, I should introduce the characters:
  • Arco, a Copper (Wood) Elf Ranger with the Urban Bounty Hunter background
  • Gundar, a Mountain Dwarf Paladin with the Soldier background
  • Farrus, a Human Bard with the Entertainer background
  • Wrath, the Half-Orc Barbarian with the Uthgard Tribe background
  • Thervan (or Van, as he prefers), the Moon (High) Elf Wizard with the Criminal background
  • Cleron, the Copper (Wood) Elf Life Cleric of Angharradh (how do you pronounce that?) with the Acolyte background
  • Chali, the Drow (Dark Elf) Rogue with the Criminal background (an NPC)

With Chali having gone ahead with the wagon to Phandalin, the players (with their 1st-level characters) entered the Cragmaw Hideout and proceeded to alert everyone in the caves by splitting the party and going in different directions, waging a battle on two fronts. We had four of the six (not seven of nine—oh, never mind) characters drop to 0 hp through the course of battle, and the other two were quite wounded. Cleron, the Cleric, did all the healing he could, but it couldn't last the entire battle (especially when the paladin decide to "scout" in a different direction and running into six goblins and the goblin boss). Fortunately, Wrath's Relentless Endurance kicked in and the rest of the dying party were saved by by their conscious counterparts. They managed to kill everything, though, and save Sildar—after the he was pushed down a ledge bringing him down to 0 hp (but he stabilized by himself—his death saves were 19, 19, and 17!)

The end of the battle heralded the end of the game session and left three of the PCs and Sildar unconscious, all the goblins, wolves, and the bugbear dead, and the players awaiting the chance to loot the place and level up (I'm using the milestone leveling method for my first time).

Here's to Session 3 and hoping the players have better luck when they get to town. :D
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Here's two short sessions worth of stuff.

The PCs
Ardashir the Bloodthirsty, a human fighter from the City State of the Invincible Overlord and former general of the city-state of Ajjah
Crixorus the Red Leopard, an upper Altanian (red halfling) whose a former gladiator (rogue swashbuckler)
Eorn de Colbach, a human ranger from the Sarnian valleys who know host the soul of a female savage elf (see my last post in the thread)
Kraag of the Triple Chains, a minotaur barbarian

With them are Wassim (warrior sidekick), a loyal hoplite from Ajjah with a gambling problem, and Svana, a Northerner and valkyrie (paladin with the aspect of vengeance) with a short temper.

Two sessions ago

The PCs, their sidekick and their paladin friend arrived to the City State of the Invincible Overlord (I kept the name but it's pretty different). Their next stop would be the elven city of Lormil, where lived the greatest astrologer of the world and whose wisdom was sought by the PCs regarding the mysterious appearance of two stars in the night and the fate of a third star, which had started to scintillate and which they had learned was invisible to elves.

They initially visited Ardashir's mother, who had written to her son that she had been in dire straights but a mysterious benefactor had come to her rescue. Indeed, the relevant PC noticed his family mansion was undergoing much needed renovation. The mother was much happy to see her son and his friends and explain that this mysterious benefactor, Scipio, had the hear of the invincible Overlord. She then introduced them to Scipio who happened to be none other than the Master, the former slave master of Crixorus and Kraag who had escaped his clutches many years ago. How was he alive*? Had they not kill him in the ruins of Jhadda, the city of bandits? Scipio scoffed and explained he was not stupid enough to leave himself vulnerable to the swords of the PCs. Indeed, he had Iron Hounds, the best and most cruel slave-takers in the known world attacked the PCs two years ago, but he needed to make sure the PCs would be tough enough for a futur task, of which he said nothing.

After that, Eorn went into a tavern and met two blue elves, those called Syndics of the North, who explain they were looking for tough mercenaries for a job in their city of Abalonne. Of course, they would be honored if the rest of the party would join in, as they knew their reputation. A meeting was arranged but quickly derailed, as the job included "pacifying" the "savage" Northlanders, the very people of Svana! She stormed out, screaming that they would meet on the battlefield. Ardashir, who always had a big crush on her, followed Svana to her room. She explained that her destiny was to defend her people and win its freedom from the tyrannical rule of the Syndics. The paladin didn't knew if they would meet again. She kissed Ardashir and they made love, after mysteriously saying "I hope she forgives me." Who was she? Ardashir (wrongly) believed she talk about her goddess. The next morning, Svana was gone.

Last session

The PCs traveled to Lormil and found the border deserted. They entered the ancient oak forest but were ambush by grey elves, not unlike the one who had attacked them on their way to the City State. The PCs defeated the elves who fled in the forest and, after an hour or so, were met by Gardian elves. These explained that the elven kingdom was split in two factions: the Gardians and the Renegades, whose skin had turn grey.

The PCs entered the city proper, only to notice that it was in dire state. Everything was crumbling. They were then introduced to the Queen of Lormil, the Mistress of the Stars. She appeared sodden, frail and seem to be dying, just like the other Gardian elves. The Mistress of Stars gave them many answers:

- the two mysterious stars were the eyes of the Oblivion Serpent, a great being from outside time and space who wanted to consume the World - he had been called to this world when a mysterious three-legs urn had been unsealed. Crixorus didn't share he was the one who unwillingly was responsible for that catastrophic event ;

- the other star is not a star proper but an anchor that was set when the elves were created and which assured their immortality. Since the star had started to scintillate, elves were no longer instantly reincarnating - their death was final.

For once, Crixorus felt very solemn. He knew he had a big part in this and wanted to settle things.

The elven queen explained that further information was in a book called The Treaty on Things of the East, which was in a library, unfortunately located in the section of the city under the control of the Renegades. The Gardians would launch an attack, which, it was hoped, would distract the Renegades and let the PC enter the library.

While the elves attacked the other elves, the PC stealthfully navigated the city and avoided the grey elves. They entered the library, only to notice it seem abandoned for many years - which was quite unlikely. They were confronted by their hidden doubts and fears which had taken form:

- Eorn saw himself as staggering from one place to another, finding comfort nowhere, before finally falling to the ground and dying ;

- Crixorus saw himself buried in a rough burlap sack, the grave diggers having kept the money he had set aside for his funeral because no one would miss him and he had no friends ;

- Kraag saw himself as the executioner of Lucius, another minotaur who was deeply in love with him and that he had left behind when the PCs fled Ajjah ;

- Ardashir heard many voices, like those of soldiers, asking him what would he do about the queen (of Ajjah) and how could he forget his oath to her.

The ghost of the librarian confronted the PCs, but they were able to convince her of the quality of their intentions and quickly found the book. The dust in the library had been only an illusion.

When the PCs left the library, they noticed the many corpses of elves littering the streets of Lormil, which was quickly becoming a ruins. Distant sounds of battles were heard but they could see nothing. The PCs left with the ancient elvish tome.

PCs are now 10th level!

* Death is final in my homebrew world.

Shroompunk Warlord

Aberrant Druid
Still struggling with adapting to the system changeover, and tonight got off to a slow, awful start-- but the game is back on track and should be fun again next week.


Short session with my 4th level group playing a modified version of Dragon of Icespire Peak.

On their way back to Phandalin, they stopped by the windmill at Umbrage Hill, where the mentor of the druid player character lives. There, they found the windmill in ruins and Adabra Gwynn, the mentor, frozen to death. However, there was one survivor: an NPC female dwarf warrior the PCs had rescued from orcs in their very first adventure. In their most recent adventure, they also rescued the dwarf's uncle. So the two rescued dwarves had a tearful reunion. The female dwarf said that Adabra was slain by the titular white dragon of Icespire Peak. And that the dragon had a rider. And that the rider looked just like the druid. A while back, the druid had discovered that she has a evil twin...and now it's clear where the evil twin is and what's she up to.

Eventually, the PCs finally arrived at Phandalin and the middle of a crisis: The townmaster, Harbin Wester, was being held captive in city hall by a gang of doppelgangers posing as the PCs.

On that cliffhanger, we ended the session.
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40th lv DM
The previous session? Pretty good.
This past session? Most of it was a waste of time (game wise).

See, this group waffles back & forth. One week they'll be doing things, getting things done, making for fun sessions.... The next? They'll drop into this really frustrating mode of arguing any given plan to death for several real time hours.

So the idiots/heroes have interrupted the Storm Giant performance in SKT. Through some entertaining RP they convinced the assembled giant lords not to squish them. At least not yet. And they pretty well sold the Fire Giants out & we can count that plot as being foiled (now that Lymrith {sp?}, the disguised blue dragon, knows what they're up to & where she'll soon take care of the rest).
Speaking of our favorite disguised dragon.... She comes to speak with them in the "guest room" where they've been instructed to stay while the giants debate their fate. She tells them that the votes not looking good, but that she can help them escape - if they do her a favor. She's learned that a group of Frost Giants is sailing south to Chult in search of the Ring of Winter. Divanatians have revealed that if the Frosties are delayed by even 1 day their odds of success plummet drastically. Agree & her Cloud Giant ally Zepheros will transport them to with striking range of the longship. Decline & await the verdict of the remaining giant lords.
PCs agree.
And so they are deposited amongst the floating wreckage of the Frost Giants latest victims. Right in the path of a passing merchant ship wich rescues them from the sea.

We've got about 2.5 hours left at this point & based upon what I've written in my notes this should be a fairly easy/straightforward encounter. Especially given that the party has everything they need to accomplish it. Plus some more options with the boat they're on. After that it's sail into Waterdeep & be celebrated as heroes.
For the next two hours they came up with & argued to death multiple insane plans, almost none involving options they have at hand. They couldn't even decide wether or not to just say "F*it, sail us to Waterdeep" (where the rescue boat was heading anyways) & blow off the Frost Giant xp.
As the sessions breaking up? One of the players says "You know, we never did ask the Capt. of the ship HIS opinion."


The Avernus group, having started a civil war between Zariel and The Hidden Lord, first tried to stock up on supplies at a watchtower along the Styx and found only a lonely incubus waiting for the rest of the devils to return. He made googly eyes at one PC (aka tried to charm the half orc) but ultimately sold them a couple soul coins -- the souls inside were very sad stories and not the evil folk the PCs were used to slotting into their infernal machines -- and let them go on their merry way.

The PCs ended up heading to the Demon Zapper. That turned out to be a fun little fight, especially when the warlock's imp familiar got atomized when it came within range.

Next stop: The Crypt of the Hellknights!


The 15th level players characters continued their fight against Manshoon and his army of hivemind clones. Having teleported inside Blackstaff Tower, they have two goals: 1) Rescue Vajra Safahr from captivity 2) Destroy Manshoon before he can attune to the Blackstaff and control its power.

Ascending the tower, the characters enter a study and confront three shadar-kai, which they easily dispatch. They've previously encountered shadar-kai mercenaries in the employ of the Zhentarim -- these are just more of the same. There are two doors in the study...and the characters quickly ascertain that Vajra is through one door -- and Manshoon is through the other. The tactically sound thing would be for all the characters to go through the same door...but at this point the players choose to roleplay their differences in motivation. In reward, I freely handed out inspiration.

The tiefling shadow sorcerer and the human life cleric (an NPC ally that one player took control of for this session) bust into Vajra's chambers. But the three shadar-kai torturers are ready -- the first thing they do is cut Vajra's throat. The life cleric heals Vajra, and the sorcerer polymorphs her into a giant ape. In the battle that follows, the lead shadar-kai is grievously wounded and flees. But the remaining shadar-kai drop the life cleric and target him until he is dead.

In the other room are two Manshoon clones and a frail, ancient man who looks like his lifespan has been unnaturally extended. This is the true Manshoon. And he has the Blackstaff in his clutches. The air around the staff is distorted as Manshoon tries to bend the staff to his will. The aasimar vengeance paladin bypasses the clones to strike directly at Manshoon. As his weapon hits (for what would have been 150hp of damage!) he suddenly vanishes. The human beastmaster ranger also attacks the true Manshoon...and also vanishes. The halfling bard, seemingly not getting the hint, attacks the true Manshoon with his staff of thunder and lightning. And he vanishes, too.

The vanished characters find themselves teleported across Waterdeep, each one appearing at the feet of a different Walking Statue. Suddenly, the Statues come to life. They begin to flatten the surrounding buildings, wreaking havoc across Waterdeep. Rather than stay and fight, each character moves as quickly as they can to Blackstaff Tower.

Meanwhile, the sorcerer is the only character left standing in the tower. Which is exactly as Manshoon planned. See, he is the sorcerer's biological father. His plan is to transfer his consciousness into the Blackstaff, then have the sorcerer destroy his physical body. With that done, the good guys will think the threat is gone. In truth, through the sorcerer he will secretly control both the Zhentarim and Blackstaff Tower.

As the sorcerer approaches the true Manshoon for their final reckoning, we ended the session.

It was tons of fun.

At least for me.



Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Last session was ... the players asking to be railroaded. Campaign was explicit in session zero that there will be more hooks out there than can followed up on, and part of that is that not all challenges will equally as dangerous.

Anyway, in this session they arrived in the frontier, had a whole bunch of potential things offered as well as following up on leads from an assassination attempt on them made earlier. But they basically asked an authority figure "what's the biggest threat to the Imperium around, and are bee-lining towards it. No through that the biggest threat might be an actual threat bigger than they can handle.

Veteran players, but most of them haven't played with me as DM before and this is only the 2nd session, little time to train them that just because something is there means it's a fair fight to try to take on.

So basically they want to be fed a plot, and the criteria that they asked for will put them on course for things I had signaled was one of the biggest dangers around, laying groundwork for later levels.

That doesn't mean they can't go do it - just that for parts of it if they try to turn it into combat they will find retreat is likely the best choice. Willfully - I need to show them that not everything is level specific in my world otherwise that will never impact their choices of where to go.

Anyway, there's side-quests on the way, so I hope to level them up some before they get there. Not to the levels they need, but enough to survive.


Last night's session was fantastic!

5e level 7 game, 4 PCs.

Started off I opened a door in Terrible Temple Dungeon of Bad Stuff and an invisible Death Slaad got out, whoops! We fought it and things went bad starting with its ground zero cloudkill. We are doing OK when the vengeance paladin drops and starts making (and failing) death saves. Next our homebrewed shadow warlock drops leaving it up to my golemized fighter wizard and the goblin rogue. When the two downed people are at two failed death saves each the rogue and I let the now not imprisoned regenerating Death Slaad we are not going to beat go to terrorize the countryside after having been imprisoned with nothing to kill after who knows how long (oops!). After a comedy of errors on medicine stabilization checks they are finally saved and we hole up in a cleared room to heal.

First half of the night over, one fight, we lost.

I then realize they have both been implanted and with the best arcana and background on monster lore I know they are pregnant with implanted baby slaads who will eat their way out sometime soon. When? Next week? Next long rest? Can't say. Crap, time for emergency surgery in the terrible bad place not really knowing what we are doing.

Preparations made, the goblin rogue is the nurse trying to grant aid another advantage benefits, I pin down the warlock for stability while the paladin operates on her implanted leg because she has the highest medicine roll. The DM comes up on the fly with a procedure for each step doing damage and for the patient to do will saves for flinching/thrashing and the surgeon to do medicine checks aided by the nurse. The goblin has a high quality surgical kit he stole from a mad surgeon earlier in the campaign.

I helpfully suggest the warlock bite down on her staff, she responds that her snake staff is literally the only stick that can bite back so that I am perhaps not the most helpful person with my suggestions. I hold her down firmly so she cannot thrash or point at me to eldritch blast. Lots of failed checks and damage and close calls later we eventually get the broken, acid excreting from being accidentally broken before extraction slaad egg out of her leg. With the acid leaking from inside the shell we agree surgical extraction was a better idea than my original plan to cut them open and magic missile the eggs inside them as soon as I got a clear shot.

Time to get the egg out from between the paladin's ribs now! With me taking over as surgeon and not able to pin with golem strength we have to go with tying the paladin to a bedframe in the room, redoing the knots a few times after tests broke the frame. More comedy of errors, paladin fear immunity comes into play on saves, bad rolls mean more damage not being soaked up by the paladin's heroism spell temp hps.

Complication! The egg behind the ribs has grown bigger than the space between the ribs. Not to worry, the surgical kit has a rib spreader! Just hold still paladin, but be ready as this is going to hurt a little more than we planned. Some key roll successes later I reach in to pull out the egg entirely despite the acid defenses and carefully unhook it from some organs before yanking it out to throw against the wall like a water balloon. We get all the medical devices off of, and out of, the paladin and then release her so she can lay on hands on herself before dying.


End second half of session. No deaths the entire night. We rock!

Too bad we did not get to the expected Bollywood Metalpocalypse scene yet, but a solid session.
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The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
But, we have a plan. We'll find out Friday how it goes...

Our plan failed...

After returning the the Halls of the Fire Giant King, Snurre, we discovered he had been replaced by Boldo, his lieutenant. Using a seeming spell to appear as drow, we entered and confronted Boldo, informing him the Lolth was displeased with the "lack of progress" and had sent us to replace the drow there. A successful dominate had Boldo following our orders. He led three of the other fire giants down to the second level to confront the drow. Their battle was short-lived when the drow dispelled the dominate. Boldo was killed for his weakness and the drow ordered a manhunt for our party.

We hid in Snurre's private chambers behind two secret doors. Later we emerged and proceeded to the second level, defeating some trolls and gnolls who guarded the passage to below. Once below, we scouted out some passages and defeated ettins, fire giants, hill giants, and one stone giant. The other we allowed to leave once he realized he was outmatched. Defeating the armorer and his troll minions was easy, as our raging barbarian shoved one of the trolls into the molten lava pool! After taking out the guards in the dungeon area, we released the captives and armed them from our portable hole. We found the last remaining gnolls and trolls, using a wand of fireballs to deal major damage in our skirmishes with them. Finally, the last giants were defeated. First the cloud giants (although we offered them terms to leave, one was spoiling for a fight!), who surrendered eventually and left on terms, and then the last survivors of the frost giants from the glacial rifts were cleansed.

Although was had discovered three ways to enter the natural caves below the Fire King's Halls, we knew the drow remained.

A disintegrate destroyed more than half of the roper-wall that guarded their chambers. We continued to assault the wall, waiting for the drow to emerge. But we were surprised! When the wall collapsed, only one drow remained inside, firing his hand crossbow with deadly poisoned bolts. We moved in when a stroke of lightning appeared from no where, tearing through nearly half our party! A shadow demon phased through the walls and lunged at our barbarian and a yochlol slammed into our retainer, while a plague of biting and stinging insects summoned by the drow priestess assaulted the unfortunate lightning victims. But worst of all, the lone surviving rakshasa returned and while invisible, utilized its plane shift and another party member, our dragonborn sorcerer/druid, was sent to Hell!

Our rogue launched himself after the rakshasa, determined to avenge his comrade. Summoning his fighting spirit, he slashed with sunblade and hand axe, forcing the rakshasa back into the wall. The rogue assassin was merciless. His former fighting days rekindled in his mind, and he surged with energy, his weapons a blur of blood, fur, and flashes of silver and light! Within a few heartbeats, he laid the raksasha low as it feel to his feet.

The mighty paladin, wielding a legendary final word sword, escaped the insect plague and tore into the yochlol, smiting it with the divine fury of his righteous and powerful god! The yochlol staggered against the onslaught of radiant might, seeing its doom in the golden eyes of the holy warrior.

The cunning wizard, seeing the drow priestess 200 feet away at the far end of the mammoth passage, swooped down on her winged boots, grabbing the barbarian, and tore a rift in the dimensional space, instantly transporting them both to the side of the stunned priestess. The barbarian unleashed his rage, pummeling the drow cleric with mighty blows! The enraged priestess fought back with lashes of her many-headed snake whip, its stinging poison burning through the veins and sinews of the proud totem warrior. But in her arrogance, she underestimated the wizard, who summoned forth a powerful blade of shadow and maneuvering behind the drow punctured her ribs and lungs from behind. She collapsed without a word.

Fending off the attacks of the shadow demon, our retainer focused his attacks against the more powerful yochlol, eager to help the paladin. The greater demon fell to the swings of his magical battleaxe, and in a practiced exchange of partners, the paladin danced over the shadow demon and blasted it to nothingness with a swing of his enchanted blade, the radiant energy surging like blinding fire against the shadowy form of the demon.

A volley of magical missiles struck the Paladin and more deadly crossbow bolts sailed through the air. The party regrouped and moved towards the now defunct roper-wall, anxious to finish the remaining drow. But the drow regrouped, and the warrior called for the wizard, who grabbed his ally and opened a dimensional door, pulling him through in the process The last two drow had vanished!

Another party member gone, the heroes teleported with the rescued captives back to their home. Another gate spell scroll had been found in the quarters of the defeated priestess. Fortunately, the portents of our new diviner comrade are favorable... this time the spell can be cast successfully. We will restore our more recent party member to help us find a way to return the first one we lost to Hell. But we must wait until tomorrow...

And we must see if our sorcerer survives Hell on his own. If not, our monk will be returned instead, but either way the price is still heavy and we are tired of paying it. We will have revenge!
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Wednesday was the first night for my 10yo son and two friends (first time the two friends had ever played). We played using google chat, with my camera pointing at a map when needed. (I need practice with roll 20 before jumping into that). Spent the first hour or so going over the background and making characters (5e, using the abbreviated on-line rules). They got into picturing their character and assigning the stats, and then going through the basic equipment and, for the wizard, picking spells. Investigating why there village has been hit by a plague got off to a good start - they thought of some smart things to check out, gave good picks when there were multiple things they could roll to try something, and stabilized the two Kobolds they caught so they could bring them back for questioning. They all seemed to have a good time. Might have two more join us next time, we'll see. :)


40th lv DM
Session was a bit short but entertaining enough this week.
One player was running late & nobody wanted to start without him. So food & bs time. :) And then once he arrived some more bs time.:) Then play.

The heroes/idiots make a decision on how to proceed, yay! They discovered (through the means they already possess) that the Frost Giant ship didn't seem to be moving further south..... Discussions as to reasons why since they already know it's final destination (Chult) is nowhere near their present location (a few days out of Waterdeep).
So they decide to have the dwarf cargo ship they're already on go full sail through the night in order to catch up.

As dawn breaks they spot the longship beached on a small forested island. It looks like there's 1 Frost Giant prepping the boat & loading large water barrels. No other giants in sight, but an obvious trail leading into tree line.

They decide on a descent distraction/destruction plan of attack.
1) keep the cargo ship about 5 range increments out (they think in 3x/PF terms on this)
2) use one of the ships boats & row in, trying to stay behind the longship as much as possible so the giant doesn't see them right off.
3) as they near, the rogue will hop out, swim the rest of the way & climb into the longship.
4) meanwhile the other idiots will approach the giant posing as dwarven ale salesmen bring two sample casks.

The idea here is to sell the giant more ale than just the sample, thus requiring a return to the ship for the rest. As they pass near the longship the rogue will fling an entire necklace of fireballs (burning sails & hopefully causing lots of damage) jump into the ships boat & then they'll row like mad - hoping they don't get sunk/killed as the giant hurls rocks/spears/etc at them. The cargo ship will also sail in, meet them, & shield them.
And then they head to Waterdeep, sure that they can out-sail a rowed longship (assuming it survives sans sail)!

This plan works fairly well.
The giant fails a perception check to notice the approaching cargo ship.
The giant also fails to notice the approaching ships boat
The rogue succeeds in boarding the longship & has a few moments to poke around & loot while the giant talks to the other PCs about ale.
The other PCs do well on their deception checks
The fireball plan goes really well, doing about 70% damage! Sails & other flammabel things in the longship are definitely a thing of the past.
The PCs & their shipsboat are pelted by rocks/etc - the fighter almost dies & the boat is nearly sunk. But then the ship blocks for them, taking some damage, & they all escape with more angry Frost Giants emerging from the forest.

Next week: Welcome to Waterdeep! (and some DotMM + Dragon Heist {fall})

I realized once I got home that I'd forgotten to hand out the copies of the Volo's primer on WD I'd copied from DH.
This is important as 3/4 players are not familiar with WD at all & the 4th has some odd ideas from games he was in many years ago.


Mod Squad
Staff member
My latest game was... in person!

Like, the first time I have been in the physical presence of other humans for socialization since March.

We were outdoors, properly distanced, and all that.

We also managed to cleverly avoid a combat the GM expected us to have to fight through, by way of cookery!

The last session is going to lead to either (a) the final few sessions for one of my two Blades in the Dark games or (b) an epic, furious comeback for a ridiculous underdog. The immediately preceding session before the below happened:

Just finished a Blades session and it reminded me of this thread. Not because there was any symmetry in play, but because it reminded me of how boldness of action and PCs not being on the same page can lead to absolute memorable calamity but in the best of ways (unlike this play anecdote where apparently everyone was unhappy).

The PCs are at War with their primary rival Gang who is one Tier above the PCs' Crew. War carries several negative mechanical effects and implications on play. The way to get out of War status is to (a) eliminate the enemy Faction or (b) negotiate a "cease fire" and a new Status (Status of -3 means War).

In the course of the last Information Gathering/Free Play, the PC Lurk (Infiltrator/Thief archetype) found the location of the rival Gang's financier/bank where their Stash is kept. Fortunately, its a flat in a tenement building adjacent to the Ironworks (which is a facility where they have a contact so that gives them access to rappel down to the hideout's bay window as point of entrance). Unfortunately, this financier/banker also possesses the holdings of other low Tier Gangs...so the prospect of negative Status with several Gangs and a lot of Heat is high and security will invariably be high.

The hope for the mission was the following:

1) Reduce the Hold of the rival Gang so they "Tier-down" to the same Tier as the PC's Crew.

2) Gain a lot of Stash.

3) Not incur too much collateral damage (best of luck with that) because the odds were high for that here.

The other PC is a Whisper (basically a Warlock archetype who Attunes to the Ghost Field for all kinds of supernatural affects/spiritual summonings). The Lurk and the Whisper have all kinds of issues because of the fallout that has occured because of failed attunements (demonic possessions and bargains that are haunting them, poltergeist "hanger ons", and other similar things).

Well, things were going well early and they absolutely snowballed because of a sequence of poor Action Rolls that yielded some Minor and Major consequences (and one poor decision) by the Whisper which involved dealing with a giant Python that was constricting him in the dark (the vault was accessed via a "zoo" room with all sorts of caged animals and a free-roaming python). A member of the security team came in to feed rats to the python (after hearing the noise), the Lurk knocked him out (pommel to the back of the ear) as he entered the room with a 5 (success with complication) on a Prowl that was Pushed for an extra die. Complication is the candelabra he was holding comes crashing to the floor. The "being constricted" Whisper Attuned to the Ghost Field for another Success with a Complication so ghost hands manifested to catch the candelabra and guide it safely to the floor. However, supernatural complications + further complications (and a poor decision to roll Resistance - Prowess rather than spend 1 Armor to reduce Harm 1 from the Python) = the Whisper incurred 12 total stress. That is the threshold for Trauma (in this case Haunted) and knock him out of the scene.

Complete clustereff ensued and a narrow escape.

Literally nothing they wanted to accomplished happened and they gained all sorts of bad things (Heat, Stress, Haunted Trauma, a loss of a lantern, another supernatural complication, a complication of "a member of the security team 'made' me during the escape" for the Lurk, and a Clock incurred by the Lurk to pay back a boatman driver that gave them egress via a canal that occurred as a result of the Lurk player using a Flashback - and incurring 1 Stress from it).

Again, complete clustereff.

PCs thematically in positions that place them against each other in their portfolio (the Lurk HATES the supernatural baggage and fallout caused by the Whisper) and the Whisper player made a poor decision (chose Resistance roll to reduce Harm 1 rather than spending 1 Armor).

However, this may have been our most fun Blades game to date. It was at least the most hysterical and likely the most memorable with the highest of stakes for sure (this may start a downward spiral for this Crew such that their story will end badly).

This was the beginning of the spiral, and spiral it did.

No Payoff.

Tons of Heat accrued (8 total for this abandoned Score). Wanted Level increased due to all of the Heat (1 Wanted Level and 5 Heat).

Still at War so only 1 Downtime Activity per Downtime.

The Downtime Entanglements got a roll of 4 (Wanted Level 1 = 1d6 and Heat 4 = 4/5 is Reprisals or Unquiet Undead). This could have emerged either as "The Many" (the demonic entity that the Whisper has bargained with) manifesting angrily or The Fog Hounds coming after the Crew or their allies. I went with the latter and on their own turf. It was an attack on The Crooked Hat (the tavern on their turf which serves as one of their primary springboards for recruitment/parley/vice den/solicitation) and this huge advancement on their turf was going to hit them hard unless they paid up (1 Rep or Coin) or fought back; the cost was going to be Hold. Given that they couldn't afford the loss of Hold (Weak Hold, due to War status, at Tier 0 means loss of Hold = your lair comes under attack and you can be wiped out), it was Rep, Coin, or fight back.

This was a tough call because they were already reeling from the bad score. I would have gone with Coin...but they went with fight back because that is how this Crew is.

It didn't go well...

The Whisper is out of the action because Downtime is handled sequentially (Payoff > Heat > Entanglements > Downtime Activities). That means that his Vice isn't auto-resolved until the end of Downtime (which triggers his recovery). So the Lurk is on his own with the few Cohorts that they have as such a low Tier Gang.

I tell him "down the block from you is an explosion of glass, fire, and screams...Benzito's (the proprietor) establishment is on fire, the doors are chained and there are a couple of handfuls of angry rioters celebrating, weapons raised to the air; no doubt a Fog Hound reprisal after the move on the place a few weeks ago (and after what just happened). Its nearing closing time, but people are still inside...probably Benzito and his daughter among them. Are you going to pay them off (Coin), plead for them to back off and unlock the doors (Rep), or is going to be blood?" I told them if they fight and win, the Foghounds will instead lose Hold (costing them 1 Tier).

To my surprise it was blood. Ridiculously costly though.

I put a Clock on this skirmish with 6 segments. 4/5 segments filled and The Crooked Hat suffers a big loss (1 Rep loss). 6 filled and the place burns to the ground with occupants inside (2 Rep loss).

The Lurk grabs their 2 (legit) Cohorts (ex-Marine snipers but one of them is wounded from another Op) and their lackey and goes out to give the Fog Hounds some what-for and hopefully stop The Crooked Hat from burning.

Now 4 vs 9 are really, really bad odds in Blades (especially early in the game).

Ultimately, the brutal following is the tallied fallout when the dust settles:

1) The Crooked Hat nearly burns to the ground (5 Clock Segments filled due to complications accrued in the course of the conflict) so -1 Rep. Benzito and a few others die. The daughter will have to take over as proprietor (or sell) and the place is going to have to shut down for rebuild.

2) The lackey is killed and one of the Cohorts is mortally wounded with the other injured.

3) The Lurk sustains Level 2 Harm * 1 and both of his Level 1 Harm boxes are filled. All of his Stress boxes are almost filled after Resisting down so many consequences (he went into this with barely any Stress).

4) The Fog Hounds lost Hold (instead of the PC Crew). Being at War w/ the PC Crew meant they were Weak Hold at their Tier 1 Position. This cost them their Tier 1 and downgraded them to 0. Not a small victory...but there is so much damage accrued at this point that it may not matter.

Then Downtime.

There are 3 major ticking Clocks for the PCs that they have Downtime Projects to work against from manifesting. Every Downtime phase those Clocks tick 1. If the PCs win their Project Clock before the opposing obstacle Clocks tick fully, they disarm the problem (and gain an asset in at least one case). 2 Clocks have to do with Spirits (The Many and a young boy who is a Poltergeist who haunts the Whisper) and the other is a Crime Boss (the matron of a farm syndicate) that the PCs didn't pay off when they did a big, notable Score on their turf.

Because the PCs were in such a pinch (War means 1 Downtime instead of 2 per PC and the Whisper doesn't get a choice; his downtime is exclusively Indulging Vice (and will begin the next Information Gathering/Free Play with Stress cleared). The other PC basically had to do the same because of all of the Stress from the Reprisal Entanglement and the failed Score.

As a result, The Many Clock ticked full (which will mean (a) another Trauma for the Whisper and (b) Great Effect but Desperate Position on Attune Action Rolls until he or the Lurk does something about the possession he is fighting off) and the farm syndicate Clock is now one tick away (which will mean a Tier 3 Gang breathing down their neck; which means bad Entanglements, potential problems in Free Play, and related Complications during play).

We only got to resolve the Downtime because we were time-limited (and the Entanglements conflict took awhile to resolve). But man...the last two sessions have seen some massive setbacks for the young Crew (with the only victory being "Down-Tiering" their nemesis, The Fog Hounds).

Our session today was short, like normal when my husband plays. (He can only focus for about an hour and a half.) We at least finally made it to Scornubel and signed up for the tournament.

The best part about today's session was when they got ambushed by the same group of bandits that got them the day before. Everybody recognized each other and the bandits decided to let them go for a much smaller fee -- which was fortunate, because the adventurers were tired of paying a bribe and had battle lust.

Halloween Horror For 5E