Game Night, Sessions 14-16, Zombies & A Bug, Oh My!

A little catching up is in order since there has been 3 game nights since my last post… sorry about that.  I’ve let that pesky “normal life” thing get in the way of things 😉

Lysandra, Bran, Fang and Theren team up quite well and go to work to finish off the zombies.  Then there is a pesky bug to stop, and, of course, that’s not all…

The group work their way from the tower out to the remainder of the zombies.  Theren makes good use of his sensory link to Tolthas for recon.

It takes very little time to find the remaining ogre zombies and reanimated villagers. They pull out all the stops for a final fight with the zombies.  Fang makes good use of a spell of entanglement to help slow down the lumbering ogre zombies.  With the group numbering four now, dispatching zombies takes far less time and less sacrifice of blood.

The bug creature is spotted soon after the last zombie falls.  The group decides that the bug cannot escape.  They pursue it and engage it.

The bug decides to try and dispatch the group quickly by conjuring a poison fog.  Bran takes the brunt of the poison while the rest resist it to some degree.  Once again, Fang comes through with a spell to conjure a globe of swirling winds around him.  Using it disperses a significant amount of the poison fog quickly.  Lysandra heals Bran and they head into melee with the bug.

The bug is not stupid.  It sees that the group is more capable than it thought, given how they dispatched the poison cloud so fast.  But it will not let a group of lesser meat sacks conquer it and it relishes the fight.

Bran, Theren, Fang and Lysandra realize quickly that the bug creature is strong and a capable fighter, but they don’t want it to escape.  Again, Bran’s combat prowess proves very valuable as he doles out damage despite the bug creature’s naturally heavy armor.  It’s carapace is strong and thick.

Ultimately, the group prove themselves the better combatants.  The bug creature falls to the onslaught, clearly underestimating them.

A quick search of the body reveals, among other things of value, a note…

“Find the Chosen.  Set a trap to test their abilities.  Report back. –Erebus”

Apparently the bug was not supposed to kill the group, AND it was supposed to survive…

Questions about this immediately come to their minds.  Then they notice smoke near the lake shore and realize it’s near where Fisk put them ashore and is still waiting for their return.

Lysandra spies a villager returning from one of the hiding spots in the woods to see what has happened.  She let’s him know that the villagers are now safe, tells him to find her father and runs off with the group to find out what is amiss by the lake shore.

At the lake shore they find that Captain Fisk’s boat has been burned to the waterline and there is no sign of him.  They scout the area and discover Krell footprints.  Again, more questions fill their minds as they consider the possibility that Kogan has tracked them here and possibly murdered their ally from Piketon.

Suddenly uncertain about what to do next, they return to South Haven to discuss things and answer some questions for Lysandra. She bears the sigil of Mentari’s Secret on her left hand like them, but knows nothing else.  She wants the rest of the group to fill her in.

Lysandra is relieved to find her father unharmed, and after talking with some of the villagers about what happened and that things now appeared to be safe, the group is invited to rest and recover as needed.

There is concern over how this bug creature and its zombies knew to show up in the village.  There is concern over how Kogan also managed to catch up with them.  But they still have no idea how this is happening.  The group feels compelled to get to Welandar City and find the hidden library in the castle dungeon.  Based on what they do know and Mert’s instructions, getting to that book should provide some insight as to what might be going on.

With Lysandra brought up to speed – which convinces her to join in their quest, they hire a river boat pilot to take them down the Welandar River to the kingdom capital.  Lysandra says goodbye to her father and the group, now numbering four, continue their trek toward Welandar City to find a secret book in a secret library.

Night one of the trip sees them camping on the river bank. They have to deal with the recurring shared dreams that come to haunt them in their sleep and remind them that darkness is coming.  Otherwise, it is a peaceful night of camping.

There next stop is the trading town of Fork.  The riverboat pilot lands them at the docks below the town of Fork and the group makes plans to spend the night there before continuing on to Welandar City.

The walled town of Fork is a bustling trade town located at the confluence of the Welandar River and the Border River.  There are also a couple of roads that converge here.  The town never completely sleeps due to merchants and traders arriving and leaving around the clock to move goods from Fork to other parts of the Kingdom and those with whom they trade.

So, the group do a little shopping and set themselves up to spend the night in one of the busier inns near the market area.  Lysandra has been concerned that Theren does not like her given his standoffish personality and the fact that their “trades” are very different (she is a cleric of Nira the Life Giver; he is a warlock that has made a pact with an eldritch being of power).  She purchases a nice scroll case to give him as a gift of friendship.  She hopes that he will appreciate it and use it to protect the special scroll he carries.  This does not seem to be the case when Lysandra presents the gift to Theren…

While in Fork, discussion of where they should go comes up again.  The need to find allies and information is very evident.  The concern about if and/or how they are being tracked has grown significant.  The group is not certain that going straight to Welandar City to find a way into the secret library is the best course of action anymore.  They consider going to Braiton, where this all started, to talk with Perry, the man who helped get all this started.  They also consider the possibility that being near Perry, a known ally, might help deal with the threat that Kogan has become.  They can also get word back to Piketon through Perry about Captain Fisk.

As they continue downriver toward Welandar City, they are ambushed by Krell from the river bank. Bran, Theren, Lysandra and Fang quickly realize that these Krell aren’t ordinary.  They are well trained soldiers and very capable with the weapons at their disposal.  There also gets the strange feeling he had when Slythis – and now Kogan – was nearby.  This reinforces the idea that Kogan is carrying some sort of talisman that has influence over him like the bone dagger had over Slythis.  There is also some concern about what sort of changes Kogan is undergoing… like Slythis did.

The battle between the riverboats and the bank is tough.  The Krell soldiers are well trained and do not get shaken in the face of adversity.  It is initially uncertain if the group can defeat these soldiers… until Fang calls upon his druidic powers and sets upon the Krell with a beam of radiant energy from the sky.  The damage he is able to deal levels the playing field and allows for the group to begin shifting the flow of the fight.

In the end, Lysandra’s healing power, Bran’s combat prowess, Theren’s ability with eldritch magic and Fang’s radiant energy spell overwhelm the Krell soldiers.  They fall except for one that had remained hidden during the fight, and that one is noticed running away from the river through the woods.  They know he will be reporting back to an absent Kogan.  Where was Kogan?  Theren felt a presence, but the group never saw him.  They begin to wonder about the tactics being used by Kogan.

After scouting the area of the fight, they float a little further downriver for another night of camping.  Sometime the next day they will be at the entrance to Welandar City.  Then what?

So, what now?  As of right now the group is sticking with the plan of going to Welandar City to start figuring out a way into the secret library.  They are at a loss as to how the bug and Kogan keep finding them.  The encounter with Kogan and his soldiers makes some sense; Kogan made the assumption that they would head to South Haven and then downriver to Welandar City.  The group’s route took them from Piketon to Lon-Kar and THEN to South Haven, a route that took them along the edge of The Great Lake.  Kogan only had to cross the lake from Piketon.

But how did the bug know where to go? Did it know that the group would be there or just Lysandra who has lived there all her life until now? Who is Erebus?  By what means are they being tracked?  What will Kogan become if he has a talisman like the one that transformed Slythis?  What will they find in Welandar City?  How can they convince the right people to let them into the castle and look for a secret royal library?

Stay tuned 😉

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by clicking the like button.  If you have a question or comment, by all means speak up.  I would love to hear from you.

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Game Night, Session 13; Where’s The Off Switch???

So, in the down time with Fang’s player being out of pocket, we invited another player to join us.  She’s either a glutton for punishment, or… I. DON’T. KNOW. 😉

Welcome, player of Lysandra Bellatore; human cleric of Nira the Life-Bringer!

We ended session 12 during a lull in the fight against the zombie hoard that had formed in South Haven.  Theren, Bran and Fang had taken down an Ogre zombie and several zombies that they suspected were local villagers that had been killed and animated by some nefarious means.

Lysandra’s player was brought in on Sunday night for session 13.  But as DM, I don’t like to just throw another character in the group.  Lysandra Bellatore is actually from South Haven.  Lysandra’s player finds her new character in a bit of a predicament…

Bran, Fang and Theren take a breather as the last zombie in the first wave falls at the base of the bridge.  Bran looks around and spots a stone defense tower a short run from the bridge up the river bank.  It looks like it’s meant to defend against anybody that might try to cause trouble to South Haven from the river.  Bran let’s the others know that he thinks that would be a good spot to regroup and figure out how to handle the rest of the zombies.

Before they can get moving, Bran and Theren believe they hear a woman yelling for help…

***

Lysandra Bellatore’s eyes flutter open.  She feels battered and bruised, but otherwise unhurt.  She instantly realizes that she is having a hard time catching her breath and that she is heavily pinned down.  It seems that after whatever knocked her out decided to collapse a house on her.  The memory of that insect-like creature striking her flashes through her mind.

Before Lysandra allows herself to panic, though, she listens and looks around at her situation.  She hears movement nearby and someone shouting in the distance, but she can’t see from underneath the rubble.  She then tests some movement to see if she can get out from underneath the rubble easily.  “Easy” is NOT going to happen.

Again, stifling panic, she prays to Nira for the strength to break free.  Whether the goddess hears her or not, Lysandra calms herself and gathers all the strength she has.  She begins to push against the collapsed wall.  It moves.  She pushes more until she feels her strength about to give out, but as she is about to give up, the wall moves enough for her to wriggle free.

Lysandra lies still on the ground for a moment, breathing deeply and thankful to be free of the wreckage that was once her neighbor’s home.

She then gets up and takes in her surroundings.  She’s looking for the source of the shouting she heard before.  She suddenly realizes that there are zombies – one particularly large zombie – uncomfortably close to her.  She also sees the group a short run across the village from her.  The zombies are between them and her.

With the decision made to risk drawing undue zombie attention, Lysandra sprints toward the group and calls out to them.

***

Bran, Theren and Fang begin their move to the stone defense tower when they hear a woman shouting for help.  They see her running toward them… THROUGH the zombies.

A sudden change of plans to “rescue the girl” is executed and the group joins the fray.

Quite a battle ensues with damage given and taken, but two ogre zombies along with several human zombies begins to shift the odds even against the group now counting 4.  So, they break from the battle and rush for the stone tower as planned.

Upon reaching the tower, the original trio introduce themselves to Lysandra who reciprocates.  Then they begin trying to figure out how to handle the zombies.

Bran, being a trained soldier decides to make use of the two ballistae mounted on the top of the tower for use against enemies striking from the river.  His skills prove very effective as significant amounts of damage are dealt to the ogre zombies.

In short order, the battle will be at the base of the tower…

And this is where we ended the night, right after Lysandra, whose combat effectiveness was thwarted throughout the evening by the dice rolls, took one final shot at one of the ogre zombies.  She rolled a critical hit to end the night.  Let’s hope that continues in the next session 😉

It took a short time to get Lysandra and her player “synced up” in Fantasy Grounds (character creation and learning the interface).  Then the combat took the remainder of the evening.  Tabletop players will understand.  For the layman, D&D (and other RPGs) combat mechanics can get involved, especially when the group wants to switch from theater of the mind to something a bit more interactive and tactical.  FG has the ability to work through combat encounters with exceptional capability of simulating D&D 5E combat mechanics, so why not use them 😉

Session 14 should see the conclusion of the fight with the zombies… one way or the other.  While the group is in a slightly more defensible position, nearly mindless zombies will simply begin working on the tower to bring it down until they can get to their intended targets.  Then there is the bug-like creature that appears to be the reason for the creation of the zombie hoard…

If you like what you’ve read here, let me know by hitting the like button.  If you have questions or comments, please, post them for me.  A conversation is so much more fun than a monologue.

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Game Night, Session 12; So Much for a Nice Float Down the River…

Rewarded and given a weapons upgrade – +1 weapons were an upgrade for the group at this point, Theren, Fang and Bran are leaving Lon-Kar to make the trip to Welandar City.  Their plan was to have Captain Fisk (from Piketon) sail them to the village of South Haven at the mouth of the Welandar River.  From there, they would hire a riverboat pilot to take them downriver to The City.  They had no illusions about the possible difficulties the journey might have in store.  With Kogan, the Krell war captain after them and no idea about his abilities and reach, the group was traveling with the mindset that they would be dealing with danger along the way.

But they weren’t quite ready for this…

Captain Fisk uses his expertise to provide a smooth and efficient ride toward South Haven.  Over the nearly 2-day cruise, Fang brews a couple of healing potions in preparation for the next “bump in the road”.

A few miles from South Haven, the group spots a significant amount of smoke over where the village is supposed to be located.  To get a better “look”, Theren dispatches Tolthas – his familiar pseudodragon-like creature – into the air.  Using his telepathic link, Theren looks through the eyes of his familiar as it gets a little closer to South Haven.

What is seen is not good.  It appears that parts of the village are on fire and/or in ruin.  As Tolthas makes a final pass, a large humanoid is seen moving through the northern crops.  It looks like an ogre… that has died… trying to pursue Tolthas.

A discussion aboard the fishing boat takes place as they try to decide what, if anything, they should do. A zombie ogre and possibly other zombies is not what the group had in mind.

The group agrees that something must be done, especially if there are any survivors in the village.  They don’t want to just pull up to a pier and try to storm the village.  They have no clear knowledge of the zombie situation.

It’s Captain Fisk that comes up with a sound plan.  He wants to land on the opposite side of the Welandar River from the village and allow the group to approach by stealth.  Fisk agrees to wait for one day for them.  If he does not hear from them at the end of that day, he will sail to every landing along the lake shore to warn others of the situation at South Haven.

With a plan in mind, Fisk guides the fishing boat to the shore.  Fang, Theren and Bran debark and find a foot path that leads to the bridge to South Haven.  Theren sends Tolthas ahead to scout.  Tolthas does, in fact, spot other zombies milling about in the ruined parts of the village.  Theren also perceives – through the telepathic link – an insect-looking creature skulking about.  It walks on two legs and has four limbs the equivalent of arms.

None of them have any idea what the bug-like creature could be and begin to wonder what is really happening in the village.

The group reaches the east side of the bridge and huddles there to try and get a read on what they are about to encounter.  Tolthas makes another pass at Theren’s command.  With the “lay of the land” before them, they decide to move onto the bridge and start a fight.

“Zombies, zombies everywhere” becomes the mantra as the group engages a wave of villagers turned zombies and, apparently, one of an unknown number of ogre zombies.  The give and take of the fight is substantial, but better tactics and some strategic use of eldritch magic on Theren’s part and healing from Fang puts the group on the winning side of the fight… for now.

The first wave of zombies is put down, but more are making their way to where the ruckus is on the village side of the bridge, and there’s no sign of the bug-creature…

And that’s where the session ended.  Tune in for the next session 😉

By the way, it will be a bit for the next session post.  Fang’s player is out of pocket for about another week.  So, it might be a week or two before the next session.  If you have any ideas for some post topics, let me know.

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, click that like button.  I also welcome questions and comments.  I hope to hear from you.

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Long Distance Tabletop Gaming. I CAN BE TAUGHT

cropped-game-dice.jpg I have been a gamer for over 30 years now. Yep, I’m one of those old farts from the 80s that worshiped Gygax; I guess I still do to some degree 😉

When I moved from my home town to establish myself as an “adult” in the world, I moved away from my gaming friends.  It was a sad thing for me for sure.

But I didn’t set too idle.  I found another gaming group as soon as I could.  I have been fortunate to not be shy or self-conscious about being a tabletop gamer.  So, I have freely talked about it when the chance has presented itself.  That helped me to meet other gamers in my new town all those years ago, and I was able to continue my hobby for a while longer.

Things change, though, as they always do.

I played with different RPG groups for quite some time after I successfully started meeting gamers where I lived.  We played a variety of games including Alternity, Vampire and Shadowrun.  I established a couple of good friendships, too, making life in my new location something enjoyable.  But changes and obligations in my life and other people’s lives helped reduce the amount of game nights to effectively zero after a while.

It happens.  I wasn’t friends with all the people on my gaming groups.  Sometimes we quit getting along.  Others moved away.  Others still, had to put gaming aside for a myriad of other reasons.  So, the groups faded and others quit forming.

I went through a dry spell until my daughter got old enough to really be interested in the fact that dad “had been a gamer”.  “Had been,” Bah!

I took advantage of her interest and taught her and her friends how to play D&D.  We gamed on Friday nights for a little over a year.  Then, as the kids evolved, they decided that they wanted to do it on their own – it’s not cool to keep hanging with the parents, apparently; heh, heh, heh.  And I can’t say that I had a problem with it.  I had taught them which was a very rewarding experience, and I understood their point of view.

Besides, I had other prospects floating around again with gamers closer to my own age.  So, I transitioned into a another gaming group to play Shadowrun.  They were a pretty good group, except for one.  He refused to get along with me.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it was me, but I’ll never know.  And that was my last group again for a bit.

Until recently…

Technology is a wonderful but sometimes scary thing.  I make a living in the electronics industry, so I embrace tech to get a paycheck (hey, that rhymed… yay me).  I’m so very glad that I don’t shun knew ways to do things with the help of new technology.  That is especially the case now because it has gotten me gaming again with some old hometown gamers/friends and one that lives over an hour away from me.

I’ve discovered the “virtual tabletop”.  My best friend (who lives 10 hours away) and I decided a while back that there had to be some way to get the gaming ball rolling again.  So, he and I started looking around for the means to run a tabletop RPG long distance.  We checked out a few sites and read a lot of forum threads trying to find what would work for us.  We kept coming back to one that stood out… a piece of software called Fantasy Grounds.

My buddy bought it and decided to try and get a Shadowrun game going through it.  The rest of our long distance group waited while he worked to make things happen.  Then we would download Fantasy Grounds and give it a go.  We were all pretty stoked.

But once again, that whole real life thing got in the way.  My buddy just didn’t have time to bring things together enough to start a Shadowrun game.  But he did sing the praises to the Fantasy Grounds software.  So, things kind of died on the vine… until I got pissed off about not having an RPG group.

I decided that I would make the time to learn Fantasy Grounds and get something going.  I announced a few months back that I was going to purchase Fantasy Grounds myself, along with a couple of the D&D 5E core rule-book modules for FG.  I also announced that I was putting together a home-brew campaign and that my buddy and the rest of the long distance group had first crack at being a part of my new group.  If not, I was going to find others – that’s how “angry” I was about not having a tabletop gaming group.

Needless to say, they all jumped on board.  Apparently they knew me well enough to know that my agitation was going to drive me to make this happen.  They let me know that they were looking forward to it.  That made me feel pretty good.  Thanks, guys.

Well, that ball did get rolling.  I am now running a D&D 5E home-brew campaign in my own custom world.  We are still learning Fantasy Grounds, but it’s going great.  FG is a rather powerful tool that runs the 5E game mechanics quite well, and it’s customizable to the nines.

We use Discord for voice chat and FG for game mechanic resolution and character sheets, etc.  All we had to do was be willing to learn, which for a gamer, is not hard at all 😉

It did not take long at all to adapt to sitting in front my computer and having only voice (we don’t all have webcams) and the FG interface to run/play a tabletop game.  The others in the group have all said the same thing.  Theater of the mind works quite well with our virtual tabletop.  We are all having a good time, and all we had to do was learn how to use the technology already available to us.

The software does not need a high-end computer or super-fast internet connection.  We need just enough bandwidth to handle voice and swap some data for the game.

Gaming once a week again – long distance – has been a nice restoration of my hobby.  Don’t let miles separate you from your gaming friends.  Don’t let yourself be deprived of something you enjoy.

I (WE) CAN BE TAUGHT…

If you have questions about long distance gaming, feel free to ask.  I’ll be happy to tell you how my group handles different things.  Fantasy Grounds is a little pricey, but I have decided it’s well worth it.  AND… only the DM/GM has to actually purchase it.  Players can download it and play for free.  That’s not to say, though, that things like Roll 20 don’t work.  We just decided the investment in FG was worth it.  It has been…

Thanks for stopping by.  As always, if you like what you’ve read here, click that like button.  If you have questions or comments, please, leave them.  Conversations are much more fun than monologues.

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Game Night, Session 11; Lon-Kar

At Bran’s request, the group traveled to Lon-Kar, a Dwergar city to return the battleaxe he recovered from the murdered Dwerg smith they encountered when they were dealing with Slythis on Piketon Road.  This session was all role-playing since they were there in hopes of collecting a reward and Bran getting the chance to honor his connection to the Dwergar (he was raised by a Dwerg… more on that later).

Fang, Bran and Theren leave the peer where Captain Fisk’s boat is docked and walk toward the walled town on the hill.  As they climb, they see small roads that head off along the hillside in both directions.  Most of the roads lead to what appear to be mine entrances.  They are well guarded.

The group is stopped at the entrance to Lon-Kar by the local guard.  They are questioned about their business.  The guards are definitely on alert.  A short conversation reveals that there has been a recent attack on Lon-Kar by Krell.  They were repelled, but the town guard is still looking for any information and anyone that might have ill intent toward Lon-Kar and its citizens.

Bran passes on what they know about Krell activity and explains the reason they are there.  The guardsman thanks him and allows the group into Lon-Kar.

Lon-Kar

Location: West of the Great Lake less than a day’s walk inside the western border of the Kingdom of Welandar.

Description: Lon-Kar is a walled town of mostly Dwergar. It sits on top of a rather defensible hill/small plateau about a day from the Border River.

There are many mines around the area with some entrances within the town.  All are well guarded.

Lon-Kar is a source of silver and iron along with other small amounts of precious metals and a few semi-precious stones.

Lon-Kar benefits from autonomy and some protection from the kingdom.  Welandar’s protection comes in the form of trade agreements and a military alliance that is meant to protect Welandar’s interest as much as Lon-Kar’s.

Population: Around 5000; mostly Dwergar with small representation from human, Nidawi, Elwyn, Hin, Gnome and Krell

While there is no overt racism:

  • Dwerg get along/tolerate most, but are slow to trust
  • They are least tolerant of Krell
  • Hin get along with everybody
  • Gnomes keep to themselves, but will accept anybody they trust and/or do business with
  • The Krell citizens are actually well-behaved, but they’re still Krell
  • The Faye are similar to the Gnomes; they will work with anybody, but will generally opt for their own kind in more social settings

The group is directed to the market area in the center of town to find a place to stay, any gear and materials they might want or need and The Office of Family Affairs.  Fang goes and secures lodging at the Midnight Star.  He then goes to The Park.  He finds a small but wonderful patch of nature to ease his tension and discomfort from being in a city of man-made stone and wood.

Bran and Theren make their way to The Office of Family Affairs where the Dwerg family leaders conduct daily business for their respective families. Bran is seeking the Ironstar family office so that he can return the battle-axe he recovered from the murdered Dwerg on Piketon Road.  He used it for a killing blow to Slythis to avenge the Dwerg’s death.  Bran’s background of being raised by a Dwerg compels him to honor the family by returning the blood-stained axe to the family to let them know of the loss and the vengeance.

Bran and Theren get an audience with the leader of the Ironstar family.  Bran tells the story of finding the murdered Dwerg and the groups pursuit of the murderer.  Matthius Ironstar accepts the axe and commends Bran and the rest of the group.  He invites them to a dinner at Gimli’s Beard to meet the entire group and discuss a reward.

After some shopping (Bran buys a set of smith’s tools and Fang buys ingredients to brew a Potion of Healing), they meet at the Midnight Star to stow their gear and get cleaned up for dinner.

In typical Dwerg fashion, dinner is informal but delicious.  Everybody eats and drinks well.  Theren gets a bit drunk (he failed a constitution save).  The conversation is pleasant and simple until Matthius Ironstar wants to know a bit more about the group’s travels and more detail about Slythis and what happened to the Dwerg smith.

Matthius dismisses everybody in the room when the group makes it obvious they have things to say that they do not wish just anybody to know.  Matthius understands this but wants to know whatever the group will tell him about their situation.

Bran, Fang and Theren relay their story including the sigils on their hands.  Matthius does not fully comprehend what it all means since he is not part of Mentari’s Secret.  That, however, does not stop him from wanting to help the group.  In addition to a nice stack of gold coins, he upgrades their favored weapons to master-crafted with a little magical boost (+1 weapons… their first magical weapons).

They part with Matthius appreciative of his reward and knowing they have a potential ally in the coming days to thwart whatever evil may be coming.  They return to their room at the Midnight Star and plan to leave the next day.  They will not be heading for Welandar City to seek out the secret library and investigate the circumstances of the king’s murder.

Session 12 looks to be a little more “busy”.  They will be making their way to Welandar City, and well… there’s no way things are going to go perfectly 😉

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by clicking the like button.  If you have questions or want to comment on something, please, do so.  I welcome conversation, criticism, whatever.

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The Kingdom of Welandar… Almost Dead Before It Was Born.

Would you like to know where the world I’m using for Game Night came from?  Heh… Yeah, me, too.  All I can say is as a gamer and/or writer, DON’T throw anything away that “speaks” to you in any way.  It might just be worth something to you later…

About 25 years ago, I had an idea to create my own Dungeons & Dragons game world…

By that point I had been gaming for about a decade.  My favorite world to run, regardless of D&D edition, was Mystara.  It was the game world that the OD&D (the original boxed sets) game used.  There was so much great information about the world that had come in the form of a series of books called, “Gazeteers”.  They were published by TSR (the company that put D&D on the map) to support the OD&D game.

I had a great time using and re-using that game world for quite a few different campaigns and gaming groups.  While I was a fan of Forgotten Realms and I had played in a couple of Dragon Lance campaigns, I always circled back to Mystara.  I would work very hard to adapt the game world to whatever edition of D&D I was playing at the time.  From what I could tell, a good time was had by all.

Then I got a bug in my brain.  I wanted to have my own game world.  I wanted to write stories and create adventures in a world created the way I wanted it.  Though I lacked any real skill at doing so, I was motivated and began scribbling out ideas about a whole new fantasy world.

My world was a shotgun blast of different thoughts and notions about a world where magic existed.  Since I’m a “traditionalist”, the basic theme was classic fantasy “swords and sorcery” type stuff.  There were supposed to be dwarves, elves, orcs… the whole gambit of fantasy races.  And that’s how it began and started to evolve.

My progress was very slow.  I would make notes in a notebook whenever an idea popped up.  But I never pushed on it.  I let it remain a back burner thing.

Then I lost my notes.  I have no idea how I lost them.  I had moved a couple of times, so maybe they got lost or thrown away during all the activities involved in moving.  Nonetheless, I had lost my notes.  I don’t know if it was a big loss considering that I never got real sad or angry about it.  In fact, I just didn’t really care.  My ideas for it were just not something to which I had gotten attached. I have no idea why.

I had not lost everything, though.

At some point during my pursuit of a custom world I bought a sketch pad.  At some point after buying that sketch pad, I decided to try my hand at making a map of my world.  I got a hold of some colored pencils and a coffee can lid to use as a stencil for my world map.  I traced around the lid twice to create the two hemispheres.  I then lightly and carefully started drawing land masses.  Then came the colored pencils to add basic biomes to the land masses and color the oceans.

As I did this, the names of the continents came to me… Welandaria, Arcandara, Lucianius and Cantalus.  The world now had some color and terrain and a couple of names.

Then that map sat. I did not get rid of it despite several “opportunities” while cleaning things out.  Without the notes, I wasn’t sure if the map was worth anything to me, but for some reason, I held on to it.

A couple of years ago, I “found” the sketch pad in the back of a shelf underneath a stack of binders and notebooks containing years of accumulated gaming notes.  As soon as I opened the pad and saw that map, my brain sparked.

Again, I have not pushed to build a lot of detail… until recently.  I just would look at that map and then start writing down ideas for stories and characters.  It really didn’t get anywhere… until recently.

Now it’s the world in which my current D&D group plays.  I finally got that home brew game world I wanted.

The color and the depth of the world is certainly growing now.  I’ve created a couple of good maps using a piece of software called Campaign Cartographer.  I have a “few” notes again.  And the best thing I have is a few friends enjoying some adventures there.  I guess it’s my world, but it’s also theirs.  That’s what tabletop RPGs are all about.

Thanks for giving this a read.  Remember.  Inspiration is not something that always comes easily. So, hang on to it when you find it.

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, click the like button.  If you have a question or something you want to say to me or about what you’ve read, please, do so.  I welcome conversation and feedback.

Type to you later 😉

Game Night. Session 8. I Thought It Went Great ;-)

Here’s a work in progress of the continent where the Kingdom of Welandar is located.

Welandar Snipit

I’ve started, once again, plugging away at getting some more solid background information for this campaign world.  I realized a couple game nights ago that I have been lacking in that area.  This became especially apparent to me when I began really struggling to come up with the next mission/quest for my players.  They’re almost to the point where they will need this to continue.  It’s one thing to have a plot idea, but something completely different to create enough details and generate hooks to get your players involved in that plot idea.

So, I decided to act on own my philosophy; having a good background/setting  makes for creating the story/adventure much easier and helps connect the players and their characters to the world.  Seems pretty obvious, right?  Well… the density of the author sometimes overrides his grasp on the “reality” of the situation.  I have been a dumb-ass and not fleshed out enough of the setting to facilitate reasons/motivations for the characters to take action, whether by my design or their own.  You see?  If there is enough color and depth to the setting, and you have the players “educated” with that information, the characters they have chosen to play can become the “people/heroes” of the world they are supposed to be and act on their own – even with little to no prompting from the DM.  Then all the DM has to do is prepare for their next moves and dole out “consequences” for the actions the characters have taken.  The plot devices also drop in much easier because they will make sense to the players and thus, their characters.

Session 8, to me went pretty great…

Fang, Theren and Bran had split up to conduct some business as soon as they reached Piketon.

Fang and Theren got the cart repairs set up and started asking about where to find Mert.  Fang also made sure to keep an eye and ear out for anything “unusual” in hopes of getting the underlying lay of the land in Piketon.

Bran struck out on his own to find the town blacksmith.  He stopped at a Kingdom outpost on his way to see if there was any information concerning the kingdom and let them know about the patrol that got killed during the journey up here.  Bran found out that the garrison here is very recent.  There was some concern about Krell (orcs) raiding from the north, so with the agreement of Bran Touchwater (the town leader), the kingdom began the process of establishing a permanent kingdom garrison in Piketon.

At the town blacksmith’s business, Bran meets Berault Stormbringer.  Bran explains the situation with the battleaxe he kept from the body of the murdered Dwerg they encountered on the road to Piketon.  Berault recognizes the trademark on the weapon as the Ironstar family.  He explains to Bran that they can be found in Lon-Kar on the other side of the Great Lake.  He even speculates that the return of the axe might earn a reward.

As the evening begins, the group meets up at the Pike’s Tooth Inn – THE inn of Piketon.  They eat there meal and keep their eyes and ears open for any information about Mert and the general goings on in and near Piketon.

Fang leaves the inn shortly after the meal to get some “fresh air”.  He uses his druidic abilities to turn into a “town stray hound dog” so that he may roam freely through the town.  He doesn’t overhear anything overly secretive or sinister, but he hears a conversation about the Krell raiding party that struck a short time back.

After he plays a game of chess with the local “master”, Theren is directed to a small shelf in the common room of the inn that contains some books and scrolls for his entertainment – something else to read besides his special scroll.  During his perusal, he finds a scroll that has various notes and numbers, likely concerning basic town business. What makes it so interesting, though, is that it has a interesting mark written very small in a corner.  The mark is identical to the sigils that are tattooed on their left hands.

While Theren is working on his discovery, Bran decides to join the dice game that is getting quite spirited.  Bran’s skill at this form of gambling turns out to be quite high.  He ultimately “cleans house” going against another traveler with rather deep pockets.  In spite of the high stakes, the game ends amicably and with the traveler’s dignity – if not his coin pouch – intact.

By the time the game reaches its end and Theren discovers the mark on the scroll, Fang returns from his recon.  A short discussion leads to Fang approaching Bran Touchwater, inn proprietor and town leader, about the mark on the scroll.  Touchwater feigns ignorance, but Fang can tell that he knows more and is concerned about the fact that someone recognized the mark.

This closes the evening and the group retires to the room they rented.

The next morning they set out to find Mert whom they were told is about a half day’s walk east from Piketon along the lake shore.

About an hour from where Mert is supposedly located, the group encounters a group of six Krell.  Without any obvious options for sneaking around given the terrain, Theren, Bran and Fang engage the Krell.  The fight gets serious.  The Krell are trained and well-equipped.  Theren, despite his magic, is heavily injured and nearly dies.  Fang and Bran fair a little better, but were not without some scrapes.

Once again, though, they use their capabilities – Bran as a trained soldier, Theren as a warlock with eldritch magic and Fang with the ability to call on animal totems and use healing magic – to good effect and destroy the Krell.  Bran made excellent use of his halberd and his combat abilities to fend of attacks and deliver considerable bodily harm.  Fang’s totem, druidic magic and skill with his scimitar aided the party with buffs, entangling some of the enemy and taking down a couple of Krell.  Theren stood tough against the onslaught of javelins and great-axes and managed to unleash some of the eldritch energies of his patron. One blast, in particular, absolutely obliterated a Krell (turned inside out, smoldering, etc.).  He also gave back some of what he took from the others.

And that is where we ended the session.  The group got a little loot for their troubles. But they didn’t quite make it to Mert and find out what she knows about the sigils tattooed on their hands – which occasionally glow and get warm in certain situations.  Hopefully, she’ll have some idea of what they mean and what is required to get rid of them.

As always, if you like the story, click the like button.  Let me know what you think or ask questions in the comments section.  I’m more than happy to talk about my home-brew world and the players I game with.  If you still want it, I’ll keep it coming as the story unfolds.