D&D General How Was Your Last Session?


Jedi Master
Had our first session in over a month last Friday. Switched back to my home-brew Sigil campaign after finishing Spelljammer in December. After a brief discussion of the OGL (no one had canceled their DDB accounts which we use with Beyond20, but one player had considered it) we jumped into the action.

Having been away from this campaign for 3 months, decided to throw them right into the mix, when a drunk, powerful spellcaster at a party they were hired as guards for plane shifted them to the Beastlands after irritating her. They fought dinosaurs, found a village of Ardlings, and agreed to a quest to kill an aberant bear in return for safe passage back to Sigil. Ended the session with them killing the bear and discovering quite a bit of information about how it came to be (on a fearless and lucky nat20 arcana roll) that ties into a subplot back in Sigil. Looking forward to playing again this Friday!

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In tonight's "Ghourmand Vale" 3.5 session, we:
  • Met up with my PC's brother and the returned-to-flesh barbarians we had rescued from statue form last session
  • Agreed to travel with them, my brother's wife and their newborn twins, the two barbarians, and my childhood nanny back to Greyhawk City, where we'd be hired by my brother's company to track down the rest of the barbarians' tribe (who had been captured by slavers)
  • Got 8 days into our 19-day trek back towards Greyhawk City when we met up with four escaped slaves, one of whom led us to where they'd been kept while the others continued on the journey to Greyhawk City (we'd catch up with them later)
  • Tracked the missing slaves to an abandoned mine, where they were being held by 12 orcs, an elf wizard, and an ettin
  • Had our elf archer snipe one of five orcs on guard duty, and then the rest of us sprang out of hiding once the orcs figured out they were under attack
  • Managed to kill three of the other four orcs before the last one made it back inside the mine for reinforcements
  • Each of us pretty much killed an orc with every attack
  • Got to try out my new trick, wherein my sorcerer PC used shrink item on a large boulder (making it the size of a sling stone), which our halfling rogue then shot at an orc with a sling - the boulder returned to its normal size upon impact
  • Lured the ettin out of the mines where we could gang up on it and kill it
  • Found out the elf wizard was among us, invisibly, when he fumbled a scorching ray spell aimed at my PC and was suddenly visible once again
  • Saved the remaining slaves, who were all members of the same frost barbarian tribe
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Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I ran a one-shot Christmas game the other night. it was the first time we were able to get together and play since the week before Christmas.

I used the Claus for Concern adventure from DMsGuild, but added a lot of tropes stolen from Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (one of the best stories ever written), and just stuff like I like to do with Christmas.


My Wife played Cookie Twinklecane, a gnome flavored as a childlike North Pole Elf, head of North Pole Security, Forge Adept Artificer with a candy cane sword.

My local friend played Rudolph the Red-Nosed reflavored centaur Celestial Sorcerer. Obv Captain of the Reindeer Corps.

My friend joining us via Discord played Falafel Quinoa, Wood Elf Wizard, Head of Logistics and Fulfillment for The North Pole.

We began in the town of Nog, at Aex' (pronounced Eggs) Tavern and Hot Springs, with our heroes soaking in a hot spring fed hot tub on the first day of the annual 7 day vacation, January 7th. (I chose it because it's the day after Epiphany, and thus the end of the Christmas season) Everyone in Christmas, North Pole, takes a 7 day holiday, with the executive staff starting on the 7th, and other teams starting theirs over the next few days, so that Christmas gets fully cleaned up and everything gets readied for returning to work. Little bits like this are a big part of my DMing style. Moments and details that don't matter, but that contribute to the world feeling like it exists even when the PCs aren't looking at it.

Some conversation amongst themselves and with Aex the Tavern owner, and I tell them they hear the sounds of sleighbells, and reindeer landing. I tell Rudolph that he can tell it's a rough landing.

our heroes go out into the cold, to find a group of elves lead by Siff, one of Cookie's lieutenants, and including a couple regular staff at the Workshop. They tell the party that Christmas has been attacked, and no one can find The Big Man, or his wife Myra. I have one of the reindeer motion for Rudolph to take th lead if he wants, but Rudolph declines and tells the young buck "You've got it covered". The younger buck is very excited by this.

The team flies like a shot to Christmas, and land in a silent, empty, courtyard. Poking around they knock on a door, and an old man tells them what he's seen and heard. From there they find some frost mephits, one-shot one with firebolt, and badly injure the other, and then interrogate him. He mentions a She who has lead the attack, and I give the PCs their first hint of their history, describing how they are all ancient, having been with Santa before he built Christmas, when the world was darker and Winter more brutal. I tell them how there was an enemy that Santa and Myra dealt with on their own, how they were gone for weeks, and returned to the half-built Christmas town dirty and hurting and bandaged, and told them that She was no longer a threat. And She wasn't, for a thousand years. So long that the three had mostly forgotten that time, and who and what they were then, and what Her name was. But the mephit reminded them of a name she was called, Queen Night.

The mephit also complains about Gurt, after a long list of rhyming and alliterative names as he counts up how many came to assault Christmas. Gurt is his boss, and an annoying true believer, always yelling "Blood on the snow!" and "The Night is long, ans She is without mercy!" and other obnoxious preachy nonsense. According to the mephit, most of them were there because it's a job.

This is gonna be too long if I keep typing out this much of what happened lol

Okay, so they go into the workshop, seeing a plume of black smoke toward the center. They poke around, find some presents which they open, rolling on a table with stuff like healing cookies, coal, gold pieces, and magic items from the end of the adventure document. They also murder the crap out of some frost goblins, smack talk some snow sprites, and make their way to the central room of the top floor, the main workshop. Giant circular room with huge vaulted ceilings, and a massive ethereal mechanical clock set into the floor.

By this time I've interjected a few int saving throws, sometimes when the story demanded it, other times as a devil's bargain to let them push their abilities beyond the scope of the rules. So, when they face off against Gurt, 3 goblins, and 2 mephits, and Cookie casts Spiritual Weapon to summon a spectral candy cane, and gets the kill shot with it after juicing how far she could move if as part of her turn to she can hit with it this turn by making an int save for me, I describe to her a memory of coming for Santa Claus, she of the black iron sword, worked but unforged, primeval death, and him besting her and showing her mercy, and setting her loose protecting the elves and other folk of what would become Christmas. As she came to from that moment, the candy cane spiritual weapon darkens and turns into a blade with no hilt, made of dark unforged iron, melding into the sword in her hand, ribbons of blood making a dark candy cane pattern against the black blade.

There is a bit with a giant christmas tree that is a mimic, which I chose to have it be friendly and eager to eat goblins.

Rudolph has a moment of memory as well, but makes his save and so isn't pulled deep into the memory, but recalls moments of charging into battle pulling a chariot, a 12 foot long spear with a blade of black ice flying over his head.

The party moves on, and almost passes a locked door that leads to the chamber of an old friend. Jack in the Box. The team recalls (I tell them) that Jack is an ally, but is also dangerous, and his gifts are often ambiguous. They decide they have to take the risk, and go in. I sang the melody of In The Hall of The Mountain King as Falafel cranks the lever to the ancient box, and finally an eerily slender figure emerges from the box, and is quite pleased to see his old friends. he asks the group what they want for Christmas (even though that doesn't come for almost a year!) they have trouble deciding, and Rudolph asks for the ability to fly at-will, which he has lost over time. Jack asks him if he recalls the battle of Icingfell Gulch, and as Rudolph starts to reply, i ask him to make an int save at disadvantage, and he fails it badly.

Rudolph relives a memory of flying into battle with Santa on his back, straight into the face of a massive frost dragon, ramming it with his glowing antlers and Santa stabs at it with his great spear. We see Cookie, wild and dark and extremely scary, jump onto the dragons head and stabbing at it, and then Rudolph gets his back hooves onto the dragon's lower jaw, and with a great bellow rips the dragon's head apart. As Rudolph shakes off the memory of dragonsblood and the fierce wild joy of battle, he realizes that he is large, and the power of flight is fully his again.

The others get their requests in, Cookie gaining a belt of giant's strength and Falafel asked for something that would help him stay safe, and then asked about a wizard hat, and Jack became very excited, and reminded Falafel that jack had tried to give him a wizard's hat centuries ago, but falafel had been taking himself much too seriously back then. He gives him the hat he'd kept for hundreds of years (which reads Whizzard on the brim), and tells him that it will let him cast a fairly simple spell at-will, gaining a signature spell per the wizard class feature. The party is only level 5, but hey it's a one-shot. He chooses scorching ray.

jack also says something to him that makes him remember how they first met, and Falafel recalls a memory of the day he fled from Queen Night with a stolen Jack, pursued by hunting wolves and nightmares of the Deep Night. At a narrow pass, a massive polar bear of a man stands, nearly 8ft tall and broad like an immovable wall of physical might, calmly holding a spear twice his height. Falafel tries to run around the man, and I ask him what he thinks he was in ancient times, because the player hasn't quite given me as much to work with as the other two in this regard. We bounce some ideas back and forth, and come to a sort of jack frost trickster of the deceptive ice and snow flurries that make wandering in the winter so dangerous, and that people called him The Cutting Ice or something like that. As he tries to dash by the big man, Santa catches his eye, and time slows to a crawl around them, and he asks Falafel, "How would you like to go to a place where I'm building a home, where you can stop looking over your shoulder and decide who you really want to be?" and Falafel nods, Santa asks his real name, and assures him that his own name is very silly. Falafel tells him and Santa grins a grin so warm it's like the sun of late winter reminding you what a sunny day feels like, and tells him his own very silly name. and then asks him to stand with him here, in this pass, and stop running. They stand shoulder to shoulder, and then back to back, and Jack pops out and murders nightmares like he's playing with toys, and the three of them butcher the pursuers, and leave blood on the snow.

Falafel snaps out of his reverie to find blades of ice forming on this clothing, and hair, and basically anywhere close to him.

Blood on the snow. That phrase keeps coming up. As they leave Jack's room, mildly disquieted (i'm not doing jack justice here, I was a bit scary in this role I must say, but in a friendly way), they are ambushed by several snowy bugbears, and I let them simply narrate how they cut them down in moments, no need to roll anything. They're beyond the need to worry about simple bugbears, now. Again.

The party moves on again, going down the stairs to reach Santa's office, which is bright and warm and safe, and they are able to gain the benefits of a short rest while the do research into the Queen of Night, and other related stuff. They find out that her name is Eldara, that she is the sister of Myra Claus, and that she is the darkest hour of the longest night of the year, while Myra is the dawning hour, when night has not quite succumbed to day, but the terrors of the deep night have passed. They have a third sister named Vesper, who is the twilight hour of dusk.

The also remember collectively some of what Santa really is, about what blood on the snow means, how midwinter was once a time of blood on the snow to bring the spring, a time of fear and cold and finding the hard will to persist and survive to see spring, and now it is Christmas, and places like the office they're in. A time of hope and joy. They remember what Santa means, and I let them know that in this place, steeped in their memories as they are, they could learn what none of them evr knew. What was Santa before Christmas? They all agree to avoid that.

Lots of useful items are collected, some sillier than others. They become aware that they could choose to go back to the selves they started the adventure as, or they could lean into falling back into their old selves, and they notice that in an umbrella basket there are two items. The first is the spear Santa used to weild, etched every inch with cryptic runes where once it had been smooth black ice, but still an artifact of a younger and darker Claus. The other is a warm, fur lined, red and white coat. They debate for a bit, raising arguements about necessity, about the point of all of this, about choosing who you want to be, and they choose to take the coat to Santa, rather than the spear.

As they leave the study, they lose the gifts of old memories, reverting to the forms they had chosen over the centuries, but keeping the magic items they'd picked up along the way, including winged boots! We all agree they are for Rudolph.

they descend, and find Eldara chanting and holding a mistletoe staff in a circle of white runes, and the Clauses surrounded by a matching circle in the center of a round chamber deep under Christmas, where Santa keeps his secrets. Falafel remembers helping Santa build this, so long ago, but is unbothered by the memory, having become immune to the stunning reveries of the journey here. There are 4 glass orbs at the compass points of the room, that power the rune circle.

Cookie casts Vortex Warp, and Eldara fails her save, and I lament not modifying her stat block to be legendary. She is teleported out of her protective circle, and I call for initiative. First up is Falafel, who shoots scorching rays at the enemy, and the group finds out that fire and radiant damage they deal does double damage because they chose the coat over the spear. The party is now very excited, and as the battle rages they fairly get Eldara down over about 3 rounds (Rudolph throws around a ton of fire and radiant, including a custom spell we made together called Exploding Sun, which is a radiant fireball, and the orbs smashed, but they find that as Eldara falls, the Clauses are covered in ice and then animated by the ice, becoming monstrous ice creatures. Cookie throws the coat over Santa, and hugs him, and I ask her to roll 3d6 warmth damage. Soon enough Santa is freed, and he reaches out his hand and the motion seems to make his spear exist in the appropriate space, and he slams it on the ground. The ice creature animating his wife leaves her, bows to Santa, and turns into inert water.

Rudolph casts spare the dying on Eldara, and Santa approves after Rudolph reminds him that Christmas is a time of joy and hope, and giving people a chance, and choosing who and what you want to be. After all, the Deep Night is necessary, and weren't all of them once beings of the cold dark? So Santa pulls a tin out of his coat, and opens it, and as steam rises from the fresh baked cookies he hands it to Eldara, who stares at it unblinking, seeming to have dissociated in shock.

Santa gives a small speech basically summing up the point of the story (which developed organically from the interactions at the table), and we cut to the next night, and the main workshop is acting as a great feast hall, with everyone present, including Eldara.

And that was it. We talked about the feast, had a little RP talk, and I wrapped up with a narration befitting a christmas story, and we called it a night.

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