D&D General How Was Your Last Session?

9th session of Monte Cook's 3E Banewarrens campaign run with Shadow of the Demon Lord on Owlbear Rodeo.

Five player characters at Level 2:
  • Dwarf Warrior. Heir to a lost kingdom -- in this case, Dwarvenhearth, deep beneath Ptolus. His trinket is half of a treasure map.
  • Elf Magician. Outcast from elven lands, raised in Ptolus, keeper of a dark secret. His magical traditions are Arcana, Teleportation, and Chaos.
  • Goblin Magician. Responsible for the destruction of his tribe. Specialized in the Fire and Forbidden magic traditions.
  • Changeling Magician. An awesome background: Outcast by her "adopted family" and looking for her "sister"--the child she replaced. Her magical themes are light and darkness, using the Celestial and Shadow traditions.
  • Human Priest. Cleric of Lothian, the core god of Ptolus. His magical traditions are Life, Theurgy, and Battle. His wife was murdered by undead and now he seeks answers.
This was yet another session with lots of social interaction and roleplaying where no dice were rolled. The lethality of low level SotDL is causing my players to avoid combat and focus on investigating the mysteries of the world. Not a development I anticipated when I was planning this campaign!

Fortunately, we had a couple big reveals this session that got everyone pumped.

The players have cleared the Broken Seal entry to the Banewarrens, but need to find a way through a magically sealed door deeper into the Banewarrens. They've begun investigating the origins of the Banewarrens. If they can understand how it was constructed, maybe they can understand how to get into and out of it.

In a lengthy scene with their patron at the Church of Lothian, Sister Mara von Witten, they discovered the Banewarrens had been built thousands of years ago by a high cleric called Danar. But, unknown to most, Danar had succumbed to an artifact called the Book of Inverted Darkness. It transformed him into Eslathagos Malkith, the Dread One.

This was a big reveal that crystallized the danger posed by the Banewarrens.

Further, they learned that Danar/Malkith had created keys that allowed him and his servants to navigate the Banewarrens. Sister Mara let slip that she possesses one of the keys. But she wants to hold it in reserve as a back up. Another key is rumored to be in possession of House Vladaam, the most sinister of Ptolus' twelve noble families. Sister Mara believes the key cannot be allowed to remain in the Vladaam's possession. The Church can't steal it. But the characters? That's another matter.

The characters agreed to take the job. They gave Sister Mara a list of the gear and magic they would need. She agreed to provide it but needed a few days to pull it all together.

Meanwhile, the players travelled to the Warrens -- the most wretched slum in Ptolus. There they met with an old washer woman who once worked at House Vladaam and bore them a grudge. When she saw the characters she was terrified of them. Of one of them in particular. The changeling. Because the changeling looked exactly like Navanna Vladaam, scion of House Vladaam.

This was a huge reveal. The player had conceived the character as looking like a beautiful woman that had once passed her on the street long ago. But he didn't know who the woman was. Well, now he does! Furthermore, the changeling had not revealed her nature to the other characters. So in this moment they learned that she was a shapeshifter.

This was a fun scene as I locked into my best old crone impersonation. She made the Vladaam's sound absolutely wicked, the epitome of evil, and her descriptions of what would happen to the characters if captured really got under the players' skin. One of my best moments.

Ultimately, the old woman agreed to provide a map of the nobles' estate, which is what the characters had come for. What the players don't yet realize is that the old woman is, in fact, Navanna Vladaam in disguise.

Next session: The Onyx Spider!

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Wednesday night's "Raiders of the Overreach" campaign session had us taking down another of the ten Writhing Gates, this one having been sealed up centuries ago with seven members of a vampiric sect of the Seekers of Eternity, a group that was one of the major foes of our previous campaign set in the same homebrewed game world. The whole session was basically just one big fight between our five 16th-level PCs and seven vampires: four of them fighters in plate mail, two of them wizards, and the last one a sorceress. They were tougher than we had expected, but once we slew them all and started cutting off the ten dead tentacles that had comprised the Writhing Gate we found out why: they'd been feeding on the blood of the Dying One, an illithid Elder God whose ten tentacles had formed the working mechanism of the Writhing Gate, for the several centuries since they'd been locked up in the chamber.

We ended up leveling to 17th at the end of the adventure and now have only four more Writhing Gates to take down to prevent the eventual return of the Dying One...which would cause the death of the world if it were allowed to happen.



Moderator Emeritus
Session #33 of my Ghosts of Saltmarsh+ Campaign was kinda all over the place, and while fun, it was marred by the fact that one of the players and his family got COVID, and had to attend remotely. Furthermore, while he was asymptomatic for the first 48 hours by the time the session began yesterday afternoon he was feeling foggy and fatigued - so mid-way through the session he took a longer break than usual and then called it a day an hour early - which was totally fine (in fact, we told him repeatedly it was not a big deal and he could sit out the session entirely - but he was stubborn, which I also get).

Nevertheless, he was still able to contribute.

Most of the session revolved around discussion of various events and info-gathering during between session downtime (handled via Discord) and the party hiring various staff for their new lodge and the logistics for building more stuff on their property. They also discovered the lodge seemed haunted and at one point two shadows flew down into the house via the chimney during dinnertime and attacked. They made some progress in resolving the haunting (my hope it would be a one session side-trek before the next big adventure, but players never cooperate with timing ;) ) and also made some other progress in getting confirmation about who sent assassins after them way back in Session #20.

We left off with one of their recent hires having gone missing, which made them reconsider the degree to which the "haunting" had been taken care of.

Last session was fun.

We have a player trying out a campaign idea as a 1st time DM, about 6 sessions in.

It was a bit of an in-between adventure session, we hung out in a new town and did some role playing and some side quest type stuff. For example, we heard the Queen of the city has never laughed and that there is a great reward for any that can make her do so. We had to show our comedy act to the guards, and they picked one character for the attempt, which in the end was a failure.

We also did a bit of setting up for a couple of dungeons in the area we planning to explore next session.

I really enjoy these types of games, we had just hit level 5, and my barbarian had taken a level in druid after helping a unicorn in a previous session. I would have waited till I was at level 5 already before multi-classing (to get that 2nd attack) but it just made a lot of sense in terms of the story to do it now.

As a 'path of the beast' barbarian, I like the idea that when he rages and takes the beast form, he's actually trying to shapeshift into an animal. Lots of thematic cross-over with path of the beast and druid which I'm enjoying.


I just finished my first session ever of Blades in the Dark as a player. I generally do not like Powered by the Apocalypse games but this was fun. It was a short session so we only got through the "opening heist" scene with a book and demon and a bunch of bumbling idiots (us), and I am excited to see where it goes when we reconvene next week. Most surprising for myself is I am actually interested in looking deeper into this game and even re-examining other PbtA games. Maybe I was being too harsh on them based solely on how "GM moves" rubbed me the wrong way?


Last night was the first session back from holidays in our Exalted campaign. I'm playing a Dawn Caste martial artist, who's become a prominent dancer and performer in the sultan's court. And things have gotten interesting; the session started with a falling star, or the body of a god falling to earth. And our party has been tasked with retrieving the body, but a veritable rush of treasure seekers and other groups are also on their way. In fact, I'm not with the rest of the party as the Sultan dispatched two of his nobles to lead an expedition and I am with their larger group while the rest of the party forges ahead.

We have magic items to communicate and this lead to a hilarious exchange where the advance group ran into a sandstorm. They're fine, but then I had to find a way to warn the nobles without betraying how I knew it was coming. So I faked that I'd read about danger with my tarot cards and had a horrible panic attack about being out of the city and now one of the nobles thinks I might be a prophet when the precautions he took to calm me down ended up saving our expedition.


In tonight's "Raiders of the Overreach" campaign, we teleported to the other side of the world to Jakura (a "fantasy Japan" analogue), where we helped fight off eight ogre magi (with fighter levels) who were attacking a temple, but not in time to prevent their two ogre mage sorceress leaders from stealing the five eggs in which Jakura's god will be reborn. (This stems from a plot hook from our previous campaign in the same game world.) So then we tracked down the ogre mage sorceresses to their mountaintop lair, fought and killed them, and rescued the god-eggs, returning them to the temple. We were then given instructions on where to find the local Writhing Gate, which is one of four left we need to destroy to prevent the resurrection of an illithid Elder God whose return would destroy the world.

And as part of the treasure, my lizardfolk PC was given the magical tail-band (like a ring you wear at the base of your tail) from the slain fox hengeyokai temple master, which allows me to make a full attack at the end of a charge three times per day. Sweet!



It was time to wrap up my adventure.

Backstory: D&D 3.5 game with six PCs, averaging level 13-14

Party had been advised, by an enemy, that a known assassin with a grudge against the party Wizard, had taken a contract to kill the Duke of Starfall. He planned to cause trouble first, specifically to draw the party in so he could get another shot at the Wizard. The enemy had said, straight up, that he didn't care who got killed, the Wiz' or the Assassin, he won either way.

In short, it was a trap, they knew it was a trap, they were told it was a trap, so of course they walked into the trap.

Bad guy did what the bad guys do. He caused disruption, the party helped hold things together, and in the process proposed a celebration, one that would involve the Duke, and thus make him available as a target.

So the bad guy's plan worked perfectly, in that he got his shot at the Duke, and managed to kill him at the feast. It was several minutes before anyone noticed that he wasn't moving.

That was the previous session(s).

Now the party had finally managed to Scry the Assassin, and thought they recognized where he was. They also know, or at least heavily suspect the cover identity he was using: Food taster for a guild master. They think he's hiding in the guild master's wine cellar.

So all they need to do is walk up the road, 10 or 15 minutes walk, and confront the Assassin before he moves on. The Scry showed them where he was, not what he was planning or where he planned to do it.

Party wanted to ramble into town to get diamond dust for Stoneskin spells, amd would have gone shopping for other stuff as well if I hadn't emphasized that that would take time.

They knew that he was a Dark Elf, and that he was sitting in a pitch-black underground chamber, a wine cellar. So when they hit they had 15 minutes to plan (I timed, real world time) and cast prep spells.

Nobody prepped lights or cast Darkvision or Low-Light vision spells. No elemental resistance spells. The Cleric tried to insist that they'd had Hero's Feast, which would make them poison-immune. I asked when they had done this, since it takes an hour to consume. Hero's Feast was out. Wiz had six alchemical Anti-Toxin draughts, each good for an hour. She drank one, offered two to others, who didn't take them, and hoarded the rest for herself, in case she needed them.

Party entered the house, no real attempt at stealth. Biggest, least stealthy character in front, they went down the stairs to the wine cellar. Half the room was dark, and at the far end was a door. No sign of the Assassin.

They approached the door and the Barbarian (big, non-stealthy guy) uses a staff to rattle the door, to set off any easily triggered traps. Did I mention that he''s not very stealthy?

No kaboom, so they went in and demanded to know what they saw. Which was nothing, since the room was pitch black, and the only light was what ever came in from the far end of the room behind them, past their bodies blocking the door (beautifully framed and backlit, from the Assassin's point of view).

They heard voices in argument (no one had bothered to listen at the door.) Faint shadows moving. No one spoke Undercommon or Drow, but I was nice: Two other Drow asking for proof that the Duke had been killed.

Small note: In our worlds, if a person with wealth, property or title is killed, the heirs inherit. Now. Even if the wealthy landowner/noble is brought back. Res' can happen decades later, after all. Marriages are ended ('Til Death do us Part and all that), life goes on.

So the Duke had died, but the party had hidden this fact and used Resurrection to bring him back. (In 3.5 an Assassin's "Death Attack" can't be reversed with a simple Raise Dead.) So he was still on the throne, which defeated the purpose of the murder-for-hire.

The other Drow had a few Troll Hunters (Trolls with Ranger levels, straight out of the MM.)

Should have been a good fight, fairly even. Bad guys out CRd the party slightly, but the party was larger and could/should have had some element of surprise. Buff spells up, defenses ready etc. (See previous comments).

Then a PC pulled a wild card out, a spell I didn't know he had. We accept some spells from Spell Compendium, subject to a group vote. I didn't recall this spell being voted on or approved. It's called Wall of Light, or something like that. Daylight bright, and can be set up as a curtain, or wrapped around an area as a dome. High enough level that it tops any Darkness spells my bad guys had.

That effectively took the other two Drow out of the fight. They were blinded for a full round, then dazzled (they have light sensitivity). PCs threw area spells into the middle of the mess, Drow threw area spells just as blindly (we had them roll a To-Hit to see if the Fireball bead accidentally hit someone before it reached the designated distance. Rolled a NAT-20 on the Barb').

Surprisingly, the lower level speed bumps, the Troll Hunters, lasted the longest. The Assassin got beaten down to 3 hit points in about two rounds (okay, one surprise action and a round), then manage to get off his one 4th level spell and D-Doored out.

The two Drow retreated into the secret passage they'd used to enter (Party saw it open for a split second as the Lightwall came up. Lightwall hid it after that.)

So now it's over, they won. Assassin is still at large, still hates the Wiz', and still has an open contract on the Duke.

So several party members decide to maybe settle here for a while. Including the Wiz'. Players want to shuffle things about and bring in different characters.

Yeah, the Wiz is talking about spending a few months of time here, in NPCdom, in the same city with the master Assassin who was in serious hate with her. <Tears hair> Does nobody bother to follow the plot lines any more?

Anyway, another DM is taking over from here next week. Same characters, though my Druidess will be exiting her NPC status and rejoining, while the new DM's character will fade to background for the duration.

34th session of my Neverwinter campaign. Three characters: half-orc vengeance paladin, human genie warlock, drow evoker wizard. At the end of the session they reached 7th level.

We opened with the PCs in the Sunrise Club, an exclusive private club that acted as neutral ground for the intrigues of Neverwinter's factions (most of which are my homebrewed variants of various Forgotten Realms factions).

The warlock met with a member of the Key -- the city's guild of honorable thieves. She gave the warlock two potential quests: 1) rob a griffon courier delivery from Waterdeep at the next full moon 2) neutralize a rival thieves guild of rogue drow.

The wizard met with members of the Sanctum -- a confederation of benevolent mages attempting to safeguard the Netherese artifacts scattered across the North. Opposing the Sanctum are the sinister spellcasters of the Tower Arcane from Luskan. The wizard learned that his old mentor had become disillusioned with the Sanctum, joined the Tower Arcane, and was now scheming to become its Archmage.

The Sanctum gave the wizard two potential quests: 1) steal a spellbook from the embassy of the Tower Arcane 2) enter the Mere of Dead Men to discover why a black dragon and its minions were searching the swamp for Netherese artifacts.

A pyromaniacal pyromancer named Sindar Brand approached the wizard and offered him a spot in the Tower Arcane. Like the wizard, Brand was a student of the old mentor, who held them in high regard. The wizard declined the offer. Brand was delighted -- he loves to destroy rivals.

And at the bar the paladin talked himself out of getting into a fight with a group of adventurers they had crossed swords with in an earlier adventure.

The following day, the paladin had a meeting at the Sunrise Club with a scheming noble called Lady Avaryx. Avaryx had blackmailed the characters in the previous session using a magic mirror. The characters were now intent on trying to get one over on her.

Things did not go as planned.

Avaryx and her brother Alaric now rule the lands that once belonged to the paladin's family. The paladin suspects them in the murder of his family. However, they deny it. In fact, they propose an alliance with the paladin. They believe he's not a ruler, but a warrior. They can rule the lands on his behalf, and he can battle against their common enemies. The paladin believes this is bull but for now cannot see a better option. For a retainer of 100gp a month he agrees to take on a mission -- recover a magical helm that is an heirloom of his family from an orc horde.

Meanwhile, the wizard and warlock snuck into Avaryx's manor in an attempt to steal the magical mirror. But when they pulled the mirror off the wall they found a note behind it. It was addressed to the warlock: "If you can read this note, you should know that we have kidnapped your cousin. Try anything funny and we'll deliver his head to you on a plate."


The characters had been checked at every turn by Lady Avaryx. The next day she returned the cousin along with the initial payment to the paladin.

Next session: The characters take on a guild of drow thieves with a mysterious backer.

10th session of Monte Cook's 3E Banewarrens campaign run with Shadow of the Demon Lord on Owlbear Rodeo.

Five player characters at Level 2:
  • Dwarf Warrior. Heir to a lost kingdom -- in this case, Dwarvenhearth, deep beneath Ptolus. His trinket is half of a treasure map.
  • Elf Magician. Outcast from elven lands, raised in Ptolus, keeper of a dark secret. His magical traditions are Arcana, Teleportation, and Chaos.
  • Goblin Magician. Responsible for the destruction of his tribe. Specialized in the Fire and Forbidden magic traditions.
  • Changeling Magician. An awesome background: Outcast by her "adopted family" and looking for her "sister"--the child she replaced. Her magical themes are light and darkness, using the Celestial and Shadow traditions.
  • Human Priest. Cleric of Lothian, the core god of Ptolus. His magical traditions are Life, Theurgy, and Battle. His wife was murdered by undead and now he seeks answers.
Characters spent this session preparing for the heist of House Vladaam. They travelled to the Onyx Spider, a decadent club managed by a charming aranea and her ettercap minions. There they met a representative from the Longfingers, a guild of (mostly) honorable thieves. They acquired some thief's gear. Then they inquired about a boggle they're searching for.

They learned that someone has been stealing from the Longfingers' safe houses. But the Longfingers had no clue who it might be. Now they have a suspect! The Longfingers proposed setting an ambush to capture the boggle. The characters discussed and agreed to terms.

The characters entered the Nobles Quarter and approached House Vladaam. We ended the session just as the heist was about to begin.

Next session: Breaking in!


We played through a session of our "Dreams of Erthe" campaign today, running through an adventure I named "Hyena Arena.". The party was ambushed while traveling by 8 gnolls, a gnoll druid with a hyena animal companion, two gnoll fighters, a dire hyena, and a leucrotta. It was a pretty tough fight, but the fact that my dice betrayed me on several occasions helped them to take out all but one of the gnoll fighters (who scarpered while it was still possible).

They tracked him down to the lair the pack has been using, an abandoned dwarven arena at the foot of the mountains, where the PCs rescued a half-dozen human slaves, ended up killing off the rest of the pack, and finding their pack leader asleep in a dream coma. After deciding whether or not to kill her (would doing so deprive the Nightmare King of whatever he gains by putting people into these dream comas?), they decided to tie up her physical body and then go rescue her from the dreamlands. In her dream, she was fighting off a dozen hyenas in the arena, but each time she'd kill one it would remanifest. The PCs quickly learned that when they killed a hyena, it stayed dead, so eventually they were able to kill them all and awaken the pack leader.

Once awake, the pack leader explained she saw the dream as a sending from the god of battle that she had led her pack onto a wrong path (why else would the hyenas be attacking her like that in her dream?) and vowed to lead her pack away and go back to the old ways of hunting for their own food instead of buying slaves. (Too late: the rest of her pack had already been slain.) The PCs let her go, though, after the half-orc cleric paladin insisted she be given an opportunity to turn her life around.



My last session? It wasn't. Sort of.

We meet virtually, except for one player who comes over to my place. (He doesn't have a computer that can run Skype.) My computer went down and we couldn't get it running again.

As I "host" the game, I usually have the battle-mat laid out and manage the miniatures, so people were essentially saying that they'd skip the game that week.

I later learned that the DM went ahead and ran, voice-only. Good for him!

One of our players is something of an issue, and she went on a tear in my absence. She complained that the party Bard "wasn't playing it right" when his character finished his evening and took his hat to the innkeeper, so the innkeeper could claim his share. As far as she was concerned he should have been hoarding his wealth to buy more gear. (She's something of a power gamer at a table full of role-players. Not a good fit.)

She then tried to sabotage his stealth attempt (Invisibility) by following him and repeatedly trying to find him by sweeping her staff through his area.

Her character is new, and she flatly refused to let anyone know what the sheet had. She's always been reluctant to share that, but this time she openly stated that nobody would ever see her character sheet.

The DM was made aware that she'd implemented Pathfinder feats/rules in a D&D 3.5 game, so next week won't be pleasant.

We take turns DMing, and if she refuses to let me see her character next time I'm in the DM's seat, her character will be excluded. Really tired of her Bandini

34th session in my Dragon Heist/Deck of Many Things mashup. 7th level half-orc fighter, halfling rogue, and half-elf evoker wizard/grave cleric.

Two sessions ago they were knocked out and captured by the Xanathar Guild. They were shrunk down to 1" tall and fed to Xanathar's pet fish, Sylgar. In the previous session they escaped from the bowl, destroying it in the process, and killing Sylgar. They started this session trapped in the Xanathar's boudoir. They proceeded to:
  • Find a magic device that returned them to full size
  • Loot the Xanathar's treasure chest, obtaining a Luxon Beacon, a Crystalline Chronicle, and the sentient battle axe Azuredge
  • Elude a banderhob enforcer, a night hag torturer, and the Xanathar's personal servant, a blind man wearing a Robe of Eyes.
  • Rescue a drow prisoner with whom they have a complicated relationship
However, they are still without most of their gear (or clothes!) so they are looking to avoid combat and find a way out of the lair.

Next session: Escape from the Xanathar! (Or not!)

After a bit of a break due to the holidays, I got to run the 4th session for a group of new(ish) players.

In the previous session the group were tasked with defending a magical pool from various invading undead. The session ended with a flameskull having made it to the pool and being transformed into a Demi-Lich.

This session opened with the now Demi Lich attacking the characters, it's main goal was to recover one of the other fallen undead. The group was only level 4, so it was a crazy unbalanced encounter that had three quarters of the party at 0 HP in the first round. The Barbarian was the only character still standing (also the only one without healing) so she attacked the Demi-Lich while an NPC tried to get the rest of the party back on their feet.

The Barbarian rolled a natural 20 on her attack, so I had it knock loose one the Demi-Lich's gemstone eyes. Now I have to consider what the eye of Demi-Lich might be/do.

After the Demi-lich got away the group explored some more and found the lair of an ancient faerie dragon before returning to the city. The session ended with the group securing a small warehouse for a base after clearing it of Gricks and Grells.

A pic of the last encounter setup…


Second session in the Obstacle Course level in the DotMM.
They were chasing down a Succubus, a Purple Wearer of the Cult of the Dragon and two Kytons (Chain Devils) - they found them, defeated the fiends and took the cultist captive. The succubus did make a plea for them to join forces against Netherskull but they were too blood-thirsty and I feel this is going to bite them. Any party deaths will be on them. Near the end of the session the cultist led them to the paladin ghost Fidelio whom they agreed to help.

The teleporation circles have separated the party twice, thankfully they survived and found each other, but they are running desperately low on resources.

All the while Netherskull's lair and regional actions have been acting up distrupting the characters' rests, while Halastar has been annoyingly vocal at inopportune times.
I'm using the DotMM Companion from the Dungeon Masters Guild, which depicts Halaster as a game show host while the PCs are unwilling participants. The Companion has great additional content, highly recommend it for anyone running DotMM.
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Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Last session was my Eberron campaign, “The Gathering Storm”.

A random roll from our Ranger during a rest on the side of the road to Greywall (by way of the town of Crossing, at the border between Breland and Drooam). His ferrets (swarmkeeper ranger) found soemthing interesting, and he went off to check it out.

Found a small hill with a standing stone and some ruins around the carved stone. The inscription was in draconic, and seemed to tell the story of how the writer discovered Druidic magic. Following the ferrets from hill to hill he found a standing stone on each, and realized the hills were making a perfect circle, and the stones told the tale of Varaak, how she created Druidic magic, how she met the primal spirits and the Great Trees, and how she taught Druidic magic to first the orcs, and then to others, including the bugbear culture the Ranger is from.

As he read each stone, the fog between the hills rose and thickened, and the team made all kinds of checks to investigate. Eventually they saw that a mound had appeared in the center of the circle, and small stones in concentric circles from the outer circle to the central mound. They figured out the puzzle, walked each circle in alternating directions reading their inscriptions, and an open stone archway appeared on the southern side of the mound.

The Firbolg Bard/Cleric heard a voice welcoming her, and the party entered the mound, following the eager BoV Paladin whose native language was on some fo the stones.

Inside they found a chamber with 13 passages, same as the number of hills. At the center was a gargantuan sarcophagus with a carving wrapping around the side showing the same story as the stone outside.

Investigation lead them to the conclusion that they had been transported to a place that didn’t exist, created by the thoughts of those who’d seen the Circle of hills and wondered.

the phrase “place that doesn’t exist” perked up the ears of the Paladin, due to a riddle she had found that referenced “A place that does not exist, through a door that cannot be opened, which can only found by those who have forgotten to look for it.”

One of the 13 passageways had a sign over it reading, “Forgotten”, and the Paladin raced down it, and soon yelled for her friends as she found a door with no handle, that she couldn’t neither budge nor break.

Some talk, some of the Monk singing an old song with similar language from his home (which is related to the Paladins whole thing), and the people in the group with no relation to this riddle realize that the stone circles outside map to passageways between the outer rooms of this place, which curve in semi-circular paths with alternating directions, and basically they have to come to the door from the other side to go through it. And then they realize that the people whose cultures had no stories of the Lost Island of ancient myth were the ones that figured it out. “Those who have forgotten to look for it”.

That realization basically ended the session, other than a little poking around some of the other rooms, like the library (special both for being large and well stocked, but also for being well organized), the auditorium (massive, carved out of continuous marble, even the stage and seats), and armory (13 alcoves with different kinds of arms, surrounding a forge heated from underneath).

Next time, we shall see if they can find thier way to that lost world, and what awaits them there if they do.

11th session of Monte Cook's 3E Banewarrens campaign run with Shadow of the Demon Lord on Owlbear Rodeo.

Five player characters at Level 2:
  • Dwarf Warrior. Heir to a lost kingdom -- in this case, Dwarvenhearth, deep beneath Ptolus. His trinket is half of a treasure map.
  • Elf Magician. Outcast from elven lands, raised in Ptolus, keeper of a dark secret. His magical traditions are Arcana, Teleportation, and Chaos.
  • Goblin Magician. Responsible for the destruction of his tribe. Specialized in the Fire and Forbidden magic traditions.
  • Changeling Magician. An awesome background: Outcast by her "adopted family" and looking for her "sister"--the child she replaced. Her magical themes are light and darkness, using the Celestial and Shadow traditions.
  • Human Priest. Cleric of Lothian, the core god of Ptolus. His magical traditions are Life, Theurgy, and Battle. His wife was murdered by undead and now he seeks answers.
The heart of this session was a heist of House Vladaam to obtain a Bane Key. To smooth the planning and execution of the heist, I allowed the players to trade in Fortune points for flashbacks that gave them a little narrative control.

The characters had obtained a scroll with the Locate spell. They cast it outside the estate. It revealed the Bane key was on the third floor -- not in the underground vault like they had assumed. Curious.

Most of the characters quaffed potions of invisibility they had obtained from Jevvica Norr, a friendly wizard aiding them on their quest. The changeling assumed the appearance of Navanna, head of House Vladaam. She bluffed her way into the estate. The invisible characters followed. They beelined for the third floor.

Along the way they encountered a servant who looked just like the changeling's default appearance -- a 14 year old girl. The changeling's identity had been discovered by her mother and father and she was banished from home. She now looks for her "sister" -- the girl she replaced, unknowingly. Well, here the sister is, a servant of Navanna Vladaam.

On the third floor, the characters entered Navanna's bedroom. They located the Bane Key, looted a magical rapier, and snatched an elven grimoire. They also set off an alarm. Guards surged toward the bedroom. The changeling bluffed her way past them, fleeing the estate with her sister in tow.

Outside, the characters reassured the girl of their good intent, then smuggled her out of the Nobles Quarter. The girl revealed that all the servants of House Vladaam are abducted children replaced by changelings created by Navanna's brother, Aliastar. The changeling now knows her origin story...

They returned to their apartment to plan next steps. That's when something ripped a hole in their roof -- a giant construct made of debris clearly summoned by the Vladaams. Simultaneously, a team from the Pactlords struck -- a swarm of stirges controlled by a humanoid stirge called a strigoi. It was a big fight. The strigoi poisoned the elf magician. The changeling was incapacitated and had to make fate rolls to avoid dying. But ultimately the characters triumphed.

What the players have not yet realized is that this whole heist was engineered by Navanna. She wants it to appear as if the Vladaams have lost the Bane Key, while in reality she hopes to eliminate the thieves, recover the Key, and sneak into the Banewarrens. Plausible deniability. Unfortunately for her, things did not according to plan. Yet.

This session was the climactic battle of Act I. All the factions have been introduced and their goals made plain. In Act II, the factions and the characters will fight and scheme their way through the Banewarrens. We're roughly 1/4 of the way through the campaign now, if I had to guess.

At session's end the characters reached Level 3. In SotDL this is a big expansion in power as players can choose their expert path. Very interested to see what choices they make.

Next session: The players want to reunite the girl with her family and relocate them into "witness protection" so the Vladaams cannot exact vengeance.
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We finally got around to playing our Halloween one shot!
(major scheduling issues, and the players more interested in our main storyline)

I ran them through the Town of Brigepuddle. Download a FREE 5e Adventure!!!

I ran it differently than I ever ran a session before. I had given the players the whole pre-zombie apocalypse town descriptions in our wiki, and let them decide their starting location and goals. We play over Discord, and usually on Owlbear Rodeo, but instead we were jumping all around a bookmarked Google Doc as our "tabletop".

They chose to start at one of the taverns, and decided their goal was to rescue one of the academics at the university. Apparently our main characters (on the other side of the continent) will need him for something from in the future. (The one character played a time traveling echo knight.)

The party realized right away they needed to stay off the streets, and actually spend most of the adventure swimming around the river looking for a boat. They accomplished their goal, and escaped with the academic and one other civilian from the town!

We all had a great time, one of the players commenting on how the whole session was more like a puzzle than a regular session. They definitely relied on their brains more than their brawn!


Today's "Dreams of Erthe" adventure was cut short - probably in half - when one PC discovered she had a potion of gaseous form in her backpack. Since the adventure hook was to try to infiltrate a wizard's keep (on behalf of the wizard's friend, who hadn't seen him in weeks and feared something had happened to him) and both doors had been arcane locked, floating down the chimney flue was a good way to gain entry - but then she explored the entire keep in gaseous form, bypassing all of the traps and guardians the wizard had put in place since she didn't have a physical presence in the rooms she entered. So she checked out the entire keep, determined the missing wizard wasn't there, and deduced the magic window in his third-floor arcane experimentation room was a gate to another plane of existence, which allowed the other PCs to pretty much jump to the end of the adventure. In all, our Saturday session, which generally lasts from noon until 5 or 6 PM, was finished with the adventure at 2 PM. The PCs then leveled up to 6th, but that took the players all the way to 2:30 PM and we were done.


35th session in my Dragon Heist/Deck of Many Things mashup. 7th level half-orc fighter, halfling rogue, and half-elf evoker wizard/grave cleric.

Three sessions ago they were captured by the Xanathar Guild. Now they are trying to escape the Xanathar's lair without most of their gear (or clothes!).

With them is a drow captive they rescued. This drow, Savraal, is the brother of the wizard's love interest and an on-again, off-again ally (or enemy).

In this session they finally decided that the best course of action was just to run for it. They bolted through the Xanathar's lair to a stairwell that led up to Waterdeep. The stairs were guarded by a troll. The rogue sneak attacked, attempting to maim the troll so they could run past him. The fighter brought up the rear in order to guard the rest of the party. They fled up the stairs, ascending thousands of steps and hundreds of feet. The troll was close behind, and they could hear the sound of more minions joining the pursuit.

Eventually they reached a door. They locked it behind them and set it aflame with a firebolt cantrip. That slowed down the troll. They now found themselves in a guild hideout in the sewers of Waterdeep. I used the sewer map from Chapter 1 of Dragon Heist. The gauth that controlled the hideout was busy incinerating its minions for insubordination, so they were able to use that distraction to reach the lair's barracks. They found some gear and equipped themselves with the basics. But they're still not free of the Xanathar yet!

Next session: Freedom?

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