Announcement & A Story

So we’ve run into a perfect storm at the moment. With my current health issues, as well as recent health issues for yourdorkmaterials, my posting schedule has been…difficult to work on. That said, again, I’m not abandoning or quitting The Blog. I just can’t do it.

For those of you who are just readers to those of you who have subscribed to see the randomness of what I post on a near daily basis, I refuse to let any of you down. That said, I have to scale back my operation a bit…

So to illustrate, I’m going to tell a short story that will hopefully explain my dilemma, as well as attempting to NOT spoil parts of Rime of the Frostmaiden that I haven’t gone over yet (and I know that I’m, like, two sessions behind as of yesterday…I’m taking notes so that I can catch up).

So yesterday…

We were running Rime of the Frostmaiden, right? Things are going well, we finish the section of the adventure that we hadn’t finished the previous time (as a heads up, we both got to and finished the cabin bit, and moved on to the pirate ship, which is what we were finishing; gotta give some context without spoilers).

I’d prepared several bits of this chapter where I’d expected the party to head to. Mostly. Then the party finished what they were doing and then took an…alternate route back to Ten Towns. One that put them exactly in the path of another encounter area.

Well…that was…unexpected.

This is what happened.

Now what?

Then, nothing short of a miracle happened. Someone called for a 5-10 minute bathroom break!!!

The dice gods be praised!

Thank goodness I’ve figured out Roll20 to the extent that I have (I’ll be doing a “How-To” on that one as well!), or else this could have been a mess. I quickly set up the map, the dynamic lighting (this is how the player w/ their virtual token can only see what their character would be able to see; it’s a lovely feature), and set up the critters and such that they would be facing, and on the right layer of the map.

WHEW!!

They came back from break, and the structure they saw, they chose to ignore, go back to town, restock/resupply (their axe beak mounts were killed…again.), get new mounts, and head back to see what it was all about.

Thus, they found the…place. I won’t spoil it, but needless to say, the combats took up our time, with the exploration being the next thing that they get to accomplish.

I told this story to say this: my time is jacked.

I have 6 kids, one of which is a 3-year old. He requires attention from me. He’s been into me more than my wife, so it’s a lot of “Hey, Dad! Play cars with me!” or some other such. I have Roll20 maps to work up. I have miniature painting to accomplish because A) Part of my content is miniature painting, and B) It is a super relaxing activity in the midst of my stressful life. Then, to top it all off, I have modules that I am writing as well as another writing project that I am working on with a friend (which we are SO behind on). And as stated, I have a spouse that wishes to have my attention on occasion.

THEREFORE! I will be modifying my posting schedule a bit, thus why that page has been taken down. I’ll still be posting the game summary from my Sunday game (Rime of the Frostmaiden) on Mondays (this week being the exception, as I’ll be posting my catch-up posts this week in lieu of other content), a miniature painting update and How-To on Sundays. I’ll be doing the “How-To DM” again if yourdorkmaterials isn’t feeling better by Thursday, as well as DM stories on Fridays as well. I’m still working on what my Wednesday content will be since my Tuesday group all but fell apart and I’ve just formed a new Tuesday group and haven’t really done much to speak of and/or blog about. I may end up splitting up the post between Tuesdays and my Sunday night Discord group. I don’t know. If you have any ideas, they would be welcome.

Some ideas I’ve had:
-Monster Spotlight
-Encounters You Can Use
-A Stream Recording of one of my games (this one would be cool, but has to wait until I can play in person as I’m not sure how well my Roll20 game would record considering that our audio comes off of Discord and my Video would be off of Roll20; I’ll have to look into it)
-Step-by-Step building an adventure

I’m not sure. If anyone has any better ideas, feel free to comment below. Like seriously, any feedback would be welcome.

Until next time, Dear Readers!

A Very Happy New Year!

Wishing each and every one of you, Dear Readers, a happy, safe, and fruitful 2021.

May your Dice Rolls and RNGs ever be in your favor!

Sincerely,

The Daily DM

Rime of the Frostmaiden: Of Cookies and the Murder Moose

I know I’m a bit behind in my writing, but I’m going to play catch up this week. I’m also going to be getting new articles from yourdorkmaterials for the end of this week. He’d been under the weather and unable to post. There won’t be a post for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

When last we left our intrepid band of heroes, such as they are, they had just helped the town of Dugan’s Hole.

Looking at their options, the party decided to head out towards Brynn Shander to resupply and to see what other information they could find out about the area. After a few hours ride, the party arrived without incident.

After resupplying and heading to the temple to get the curses removed that they picked up while plundering the tomb, the party was asked by the gnomish cleric at the shrine to go and take supplies to a friend of his up at a cabin northwest of Lonelywood. The party agreed to do it after they took care of the moose that was terrorizing Lonelywood.

The trip was not without danger, as a gargantuan white dragon flew off in to the north, northwest, away from Lonelywood. Most of the party hid or cowered in terror, but the few that were not cowed by its terrible presence, noticed that the dragon had a rider and seemed to be afflicted with cataracts, likely relying on its blingsight ability to make its way in the world. The party continued on…

Arriving in Lonelywood, the party decided to find and speak to the town speaker, a halfling who was troubled by the attack on the loggers in the woods nearby. Unfortunately, the only payment she could offer was a basket of her award-winning cookies. The party tasted the cookies, found them the most delicious they’d ever had in their lives, and agreed to go hunting for the elusive white “murder moose.”

The ranger tracked for hours in the woods, finding moose prints, but finding only a regular moose. Using the scroll of speak with animals, they found out that the white moose hangs out at a structure further in the forest. The party headed that way and found a hare being stalked by a fox, the same fox that they had saved from the trapper earlier in their adventures. Having his dinner ruined (although the party furnished him with jerky from their rations), the fox told them where the weird animals that spoke like the “two legs” were, offering to take them there.

The party soon found the structure, an elven tomb with a strange sort of sundial in the center. The party noticed a gazeebo (insert “It’s a gazeebo, Eric…” joke here) with a brazier inside, as well as many statues all pointing towards the tomb. Seeing an opening broken into the tomb, the party cautiously entered inside, where the cleric was ambushed by the infamous albino moose!

The battle was soon joined by the druid that had been awakening all of the animals they had come across that spoke, as well as an awakened shrub.

The battle was hard fought, but as it has been, the party remained victorious.

Plundering the rest of the tomb, the party found a sarcophagus with a friendly mummy that was their companion until it was destroyed.

Going back to Lonelywood, the party resupplied and collected the basket of cookies that they promised, having taken the antlers from the white moose, as well as its hide.

Next week, we’ll talk about the trip to the infamous Black Cabin, where a gnome is said to live, where the party takes supplies to!

Until next time, Dear Readers!

Miniature Painting Christmas Miracle

So I wanted to tell you all a quick story.

I wanted to surprise my wife this Christmas with something I thought she’d appreciate and wouldn’t think that I’d be able to get for her.

You see, she’s been on a HeroForge kick of late. She’s been designing characters left and right. She’s even had the kids design their own characters for our home campaign.

Of note, however, was one she designated “Sky,” her air genasai bard. She absolutely fawned over this design, wanting to play her in our next campaign.

Here is the link to it.

I took careful note of this fact and filed it away for later use.

Then it happened: the perfect storm. She was busy, away from her laptop, and unlikely to show up while I did my thing. Oh, I was slick, Dear Readers!

I got on to her laptop, logged into her HeroForge account, bought the STL file, emailed it to myself, and deleted all evidence of it, down to deleting the emails in her trash.

I contacted a dear friend of mine who had been printing Battletech minis for himself and me to use when we play said game. I asked and he delivered…the Sunday before Christmas, three copies: one flawless copy exactly like the original picture, one flawed copy of the same (it had a strange flat section under the arm so I would have to create an elbow with green stuff), and a mirrored copy of the same.

In a previous conversation, I had told her that if she ordered it, which I told her she should but she declined, that I wouldn’t be willing to paint it for her. she told me that under no certain circumstances did she want me to paint it for her. That bothered me. But I let it go.

Remember how I ordered three copies? Well, I did this for a reason. I fixed and painted one of the flawed copies, the one that was exactly like the original flawless one but with the missing elbow. I fixed the elbow. I primed the mini. And I began my painstaking labor of love to paint it. Here are my steps of progress although I did not take a lot of pictures along the way.

As you can see, at the end I added dull coat to finish it off.

I had exactly one day where my wife was out of the house most of the day to work on it. One day. I worked on that thing for over 9 hours.

I can honestly say, that this was a labor of love. I still have parts of my neck and shoulders that hurt! But it was worth it.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this as much as I enjoyed painting it and seeing her face once she got to see it.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

P.S. – we haven’t really been playing so I don’t have too many games to report on. I will post what little we have played over the Christmas break at a short time later.

Dear Readers

I thought long and hard about continuing posting this week.

Due my own family activities, and likely the activities of you, my Dear Readers, I have decided to take this week off, so that all of us may enjoy our holiday.

I, for example, have soooooo much wrapping to do.

In the mean time, here are some awesome holiday-inspired D&D Monsters!

Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!

Until next time…

P.S. – I will be resuming the Sunday after Christmas.

Painting Update: Manshoon and the Drider

So I finally did it! I finished Manshoon!

He turned out wonderfully. The only thing I have not done is any kind of shading. I’m still trying to get that friend of mine to help me learn that shading technique that he uses. Thus, he’s not fully finished.

In other news, I have started work on an awesome drider. Here she is:

She obviously has a lot of work left to go, but I got the majority of her arachnid body painted. And that underside was no joke!

Unfortunately, that’s all I got for today as I haven’t had a game. I will be taking a break over Christmas, with Christmas Eve Christmas day and the weekend associated being non-posting days. I want everyone to enjoy their holiday!

As always, I appreciate each and every one of you!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

How-To Paint Minis: Painting Minsc

Hello, Dear Readers!

I only have a short post as my recent MS relapse has had me in near constant doctors appointments!

That said, I have something to show you:

Isn’t he wonderful?

I finished painting his base, did some touch-up work, and shaded him.

There is a shading technique that I want to try next time, but we’ll do that on another miniature.

All I have left is to give him a dull-coat lacquer and display him proudly!

Don’t think I have forgotten our dear villain, Mansion either. He’s due some shading and then he’ll be here too.

I’m sorry for the poor quality of the photos. My phone camera stopped working since the last Android update. This will be the second replacement I will have had. Not fun at all.

In any case, since my (new) Tuesday group has yet to meet, I won’t have a game summary for you tomorrow, so likely you’ll get more miniature painting updates!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

DESIGNING ENCOUNTERS (PART 4) – HOW TO DM

Hello everyone! We’ve spent a good bit of time talking about it, so today I’d like to post up an actual encounter I designed and ran following these principles.

Our group consists of a Goblin Totem Barbarian, a Halfling Moon Druid, A Human Fighter Archer, a Human TWF Hunter Ranger, and a Tabaxi Archer Gloomstalker Ranger. Tons of HP up front with some pretty squishy folks in the back with absolutely no real magical support.

By the way, I’m running Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden for them, but this encounter is entirely my own design, so you don’t have to worry about spoilers.

So, let’s talk about tips on designing encounters in this week’s How To DM!

First, I wanted to add a little horror and inspire some fearsome creepiness. I picked Dougan’s Hole because it already had a solid “Lovecraftian” feel to it. If I got one good WTF! Moment out of this thing, I’d be satisfied.

With a party composition like that, my players were steamrolling through most of my encounters. They don’t negotiate; they certainly don’t run.

It only takes one hit point. | Dungeons and dragons memes, Dnd funny, D&d  dungeons and dragons

With no magic of their own, I just felt like loading up the enemy with spells was deliberately designing against them.

So, I rewrote Dougan’s Hole and brought in some monsters that I knew they wouldn’t recognize no matter how long they’d been playing – the Wendigo.

I pulled the monster’s stat block from Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos which is a fantastic book that I highly recommend. This book is set up for 5e with great rules for putting some horror into your D&D campaign.

The premise was – the poor town of Dougan’s Hole has resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. They have all succumbed to the influence of the Wendigo spirits.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t design encounters with a “I’ll get you my pretties for walking through my monsters!” mentality. I don’t need them to die; I just need them to believe they’re going to die. The PC’s were in Dougan’s Hole to intercept a bounty target. The innkeeper was super-friendly. Gave them great prices on rooms and bowls “of the brown” (and yes…it was Chef Boyardee with extra chef included). After a good old time, the PC’s set out to look for good ambush spots.

All they had to do was figure out a way to survive the incoming blizzard until daybreak. The encounter didn’t start until they stepped outside Dougan’s Hole’s tiny little tavern.

The tavern door will be bolted behind them. Just at the edge of the lamp light, the entire population of Dougan’s Hole – men, women, and children – will be standing silently in the frigid cold, armed with whatever they have…just watching.

I didn’t even bother to assign these people hit points. Their purpose was to rush in in a maddened frenzy and distract the PC’s (there were some jokes about how easy this was going to be). Just so I could bring the Wendigo in after 2-3 of combat.

I didn’t even bother to decide how many Wendigo there were. I brought them in slowly in small groups, had them attack and them fly off into the darkness.

However, Wendigo fly. I introduced them by having one just barely fail a check to grapple a PC and carry them off. That was a nice WTF moment, and my one warning that the PC’s were not going to be able to stand there and fight it out. They’re fighting in the dark, snow swirling with only the two whale oil lamps outside the tavern to provide weak light.

D&D Hack: A Scarlet Letter | Dungeons and dragons, Dungeons and dragons  memes, Dnd funny

So, now they’re going to have enemies on the ground that they recognize, and enemies above that they don’t know.

The villagers will attack and then suddenly rush off to the north. The Wendigo swoop in trying to carry PC’s off. One will land and attack in melee, but Wendigo only attack targets that are farthest away from the lamps as a hint that Wendigo are vulnerable to fire.

I want to guide the encounter so the PC’s end up running through the blizzard-choked streets. If they stop, they’re attacked. If they try to duck into a building the villagers start chopping at the doors, or a Wendigo crashes through the ceiling.

I want to drive them into the Speaker’s House which is the largest and best-constructed structure in the village. Of course, there is a suitably horrible tableaux inside, and – after some super-creepy dialogue – the Speaker will commit suicide in front of them by smashing lamps on the oil-soaked floor. This releases the final Big Bad Wendigo, but the fires will negate its regeneration ability, so they’ll have a fighting chance.

At this point, I want them desperate and confused. I switch targets as needed to not focus-fire a particular PC. I will leave this Wendigo locked in melee so they can kill it.

In the morning, the village is half-burned down, the entire population lies dead in the snow, there’s no loot, and they’ll all be barely alive.

Now. Here’s a beautiful thing that happened when we actually got to the table. A fellow DM’s table had most of his players no-show, so I invited them to mine. So instead of having 5 players…I had 9. But…because I had a purpose in mind…it was very easy to elevate this encounter to accommodate such a large group on the fly.

I got my share of WTF moments. My PC’s told me after how confused they were; some were already thinking of what character they would roll up next. All told…a success!

What tips, tricks and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!

Tuesday Shenanigans: Disintegration

So, with me going back into full quarantine to avoid getting the current Biblical-type plague that is flying across the globe, I’ve moved my games to a virtual tabletop, specifically, Roll20. That is both a blessing and a curse.

The Good

It works like a charm, now that I’ve figured it out. I found out how to do dynamic lighting and how to give people darkvision, etc…so yeah, we are good to go. I’ve already run a number of sessions from Roll20 and, with the exception of the video and voice (which we use Discord for), we’ve had zero problems. I have the maps imported, the encounters built, etc…and it’s almost like being at the table with them.

28 of the best DnD Memes

The Bad

It is most assuredly NOT the same as being around a table. Granted, once the logistics were worked out, we were good, but there was a learning curve that playing in person just doesn’t have. Second, not everyone is actually up to playing on a virtual tabletop or actually refuse to even try. I was devastated when that exact thing happened to me this week. It happened in my Tuesday group, gutting it down to three players. Lovely. Three, although usually fine, does not make a group in this particular mixture.

dnd-memes-npc-12k

That’s the good and the bad of having to migrate to a virtual tabletop.

The Plan

Well, I have enough Discord D&D friends that I can actually put a virtual table together with my current remaining Tuesday folks. I have to come up with a TOTALLY new campaign, and frankly I have no idea what I am running. I’m considering running a bunch of level-appropriate adventures, probably unrelated, and running the campaign episodically. It’s what I am leaning towards the most.

dnd-memes-dm-rolls-12k

So, there was no campaign summary today. The “Restoration of Netheril” Tuesday group story will either die ignobly, or be reborn after there is a vaccine for the pandemic virus.

Items · A Journal of the Plague Year · Covid-19 Archive

Tomorrow, yourdorkmaterials will be finishing up his Encounter series, so stay tuned!

Until next time, Dear Readers!

Rime of the Frostmaiden: Helping Hillbillies and Delving Into a Mine

When last we left our band of heroes, they had just completed their trip to Brynn Shander to remove curses, restock their gear and head out to see about the troubles of Dougan’s Hole (they also had picked up a job delivering supplies to a reclusive gnome north of Lonelywood and heading to a pirate ship that the tabaxi rogue [whose name I can’t actually put down due to him using the name of a famous cat-person in Skyrim and that’s copyrighted] used to be crew of).

The party set off across the tundra, eschewing the roads in favor of the short cut, due to the ranger’s favored terrain being tundra. Along the way, they had a short encounter with some wolves that ended peaceably with the party feeding the poor creatures.

The party arrived in Dugan’s Hole.

There wasn’t much there, in terms of friendliness, services, nor comforts. It was a town on the fringes, and everyone seemed to resemble everyone else, with mild to moderate deformities running rampant. This was a town that…kept things in the family.

They hear whispered rumors of a pair of winter wolves trying to extort the town of treasure and food. They had apparently already been party to kidnapping two teens, whom the town speaker presumed dead.

Deciding to try their luck, they left town and, sure enough, was approached by a limping winter wolf.

Talking with them, the party was suspicious of their actual motivations, but decided to go with them to deal with the alleged frost giant they claimed was abusing them.

They found the lodge, huge and made of ice. The wolves stayed outside, claiming that the giant was gone and willing to signal his return. Still suspicious, the party entered anyways.

The rogue scouted ahead silently, finding a dead giant as well as a mammoth, apparently awakened, mourning the loss of its master.

The party approached, and the madness screamed at them as if they were to blame for the death of the frost giant. As it began to charge, the party was able to calm it, and get it to talk.

They found that the frost giant had been killed by another group of adventurers. The party cleric agreed to perform a funeral right on behalf of the frost giant, composing a wonderful and well thought-out ode.

Well this was going on, the party continue to explore the hold, in the process finding three kobolds, who had snuck in but were trapped due to the killer mammoth. The party agreed to help them get out and in exchange, the kobolds said they would serve the party. This really didn’t matter, as the party forgot about them as the dwarf went outside to check on the wolves only to be attacked by them!

The battle was pitched, with the dwarf nearly being killed. But the party won in the end, skating the wolves and taking some of the loot from the lodge with them. They headed back to Dugan’s Hole, the captives in tow, with a grateful populace.

Deciding that their work there was done, the party headed out toward Brynn Shander, to resupply, and make their way north to Termalaine.

Termalaine was apparently having troubles with cobalts in their mines.

Arriving at Termalaine, the party quickly found that the speaker one a contentious election, the opposing side being a Zhentarim agent. They found that the senior officers of the Town watch had somehow been influenced by this agent. The party immediately knew that the person behind all of the trouble was the speaker of Targos. Deciding to deal with that issue later, the party agreed to go into the mine to deal with their kobold problem.

The party entered the mine, soon coming across two kobolds trying to sabotage a wooden walkway. Capturing them, the party intimidated them into taking the party to their leader, Trex, who suddenly became smarter and more well-spoken.

The party descend further into the mine, soon feeling like they were being watched, but not seeing anything.

The party soon met Trex, the smart kobold.

The kobold, in perfect common, explained that they moved into the mine because they were forced out of Kelvin’s Cairn by yeti, and that all they wanted was to be given a chance in town. The party agreed to be go-betweens with the town speaker.

Suddenly, the rogue felt a tug at his consciousness. Investigating a side cave, he found a strange crystal…

Psi Crystal

After some trial and error, the party wizard came to the conclusion that it was a psi crystal, a psionic object, and that it was “pulling” at the wielder’s consciousness towards a location far to the south, in the mountains.

The party decided that they needed to deal with the creature stalking them, and then with the kobolds.

Will the party successfully negotiate on behalf of the kobolds? Will they be able to face off against that strange foe stalking them? Time will tell…

Until next time, Dear Readers!

How To DM – Building Encounters (Part Three)

Hello Everyone and welcome! Last week we discussed some numbers and mechanics. Today, I’d like to talk about some ideas I use to balance out an encounter but still leave it challenging for everyone. For me, designing an encounter and then running that encounter are two entirely different things.

So let’s talk for a minute about design balance using our 5 man party and those 52 kobolds.

How Terrain Helps. This is probably not the first time some hostiles have wandered into the kobold’s home, so they probably have taken at least some measures to build defenses. They’re small and individually weak, so ranged weapons and spears make sense to me. They’re also expert tunnellers so modifying a cave is no great task.

If I can put archers on a ledge of some kind with some cover so melee combatants can’t reach them easily, then that’s worth about an extra 10 kobolds or so. So, I reduce their numbers to 42. If they’ve also cleared out the entrance so the enemy has no cover, then I would drop their total by another 5. The melee characters can’t get to them, and the party’s ranged characters can only kill 2 kobolds a turn. 15 archer kobolds on a ledge is still plenty of firepower, and we’re down to 37 kobolds to assign.

Surely, they would have erected some barriers or perhaps dug pits to hinder/direct enemy charges. If the melee’s can only reach them single file while the kobolds attack them from cover with spears, then that’s worth another 10 kobolds to me. So, now we’re down to 27 total, and I would put 10 spearmen up front.

My party is very weak on the magic side. A kobold sorcerer with the right spells could easily be worth another 10 kobolds. We’ll talk about spells more in a moment, but a single sorcerer now brings us down to 7 “unassigned” kobolds, and I might just eliminate them all-together or just use them as reinforcements.

Spells, Spells, Spells. Boy, these can make an encounter go south quickly for the party and for your monsters. I find that most of the spell selections given in a creature’s stat block to be circumstantial or useless really. I just cut them out; it’s less for me to keep up with.

How to pick them fairly though? I usually avoid “save or suck” spells that just take a player out of the game. No one likes it when their bad-ass barbarian is just sitting there paralyzed and none of the other players can do anything about it. In my opinion, I would just be punishing the party because no one wanted to play a cleric.

I will normally choose one useful combat spell per level and let it go at that, but spells should be useful to the monsters’ community and not tailor-made to specifically counter your party.

Give Your Monster’s A Goal. Especially, your more intelligent ones. Most creatures, even animals, are not going to fight to the death unless they have no other option. These kobolds probably want to left alone. They are fighting to protect their turf and community, but they’re probably not going to be psychopathic about it. If they can drive off a threat without a bunch of them getting hurt, then wouldn’t that be the best option for them?

This also can open up great role-playing opportunities as the players try to parley for information or safe passage. If the PCs are looking for an ogre’s lair and the kobolds know where it is, why wouldn’t they give that ogre up? Murderous adventurers and hungry ogre gone.

Be Realistic in Your Targeting. This is the last point I’d like to make. I like to play my monsters as smart and prepared as they would realistically be. If a kobold can safely shoot a PC, then that’s probably who they would choose, especially if there’s no strong commander. They’re not suicidal after all. Be careful about Int 7 creatures always making the most optimal choice in who they attack. This gives me a framework to use in response to the PC’s tactical choices.

What tips, tricks and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!

Apologies

Hey, Dear Readers,

Due to the fact that I just got out of the hospital and am really fighting this relapse ending, I won’t likely be posting much until Monday and Wednesday.

I am so sorry. I feel like I’m letting you all down.

This is NOT the end of The Daily DM, though! I’ll be back in full-swing in about a week or so. I have a lot of stuff planned:

-A holiday session with the adventure “How the Lich Stole Christmas”
-More from my sessions on Sundays and Tuesdays
-yourdorkmaterials is still doing “How-To DM” and “DM Stories”

Stay Tuned!

Rime of the Frostmaiden: Operation “Housekeeping” a Success

Dear Readers, due to my having just been discharged from the hospital yesterday, I missed getting my post out, and we didn’t end up playing. Therefore, today I’ll be giving a brief overview of what happened Sunday to make up for missing that post. Thanks for your love and understanding.

~The Daily DM

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We last left our heroes in Good Meade, where they were investigating rumors of giants and the flow of mead being interrupted.

Getting into town and heading over to the mead hall, they almost immediately ran into a man rushing into town disturbed over finding 5 members of the town watch bashed to a pulp. Heading to the mead hall, the party found the townsfolk having issues with choosing a new town speaker due to the last one getting killed by some sort of giant who stole their last kegs of mead, leaving them dry.

Deciding to help the town recover their mead and put down the threat to them from these giants, the party headed the direction of the giants, eventually coming across a mammoth skull that made for a very convenient bridge to some caves where the tracks led. Along the way they saw two sets of prints: some large giant creature and that of an ogre. Lovely.

Making their way inside, the party decided to actually try “Operation: Housekeeping” again. What is this, you may ask?

Well, since the beginning of this campaign, whenever they approach a place that they plan on making a frontal assault onto, they announce themselves as “Housekeeping!” with the hopeful intent on actually pulling it off and getting access to the premises. This had not so far worked. Yet. But we’ll get to that.

In any case, they came across the ogre and fought it, dispatching it easy enough, as well as the “giant” which was found to be a furbeeg. Not too shabby with a full party of 7 characters. They ran into a polar bear, but convinced it with a Handle Animal check to have at the goats and sheep in the pen in the cave instead of them.

Wandering further inside to loot the place and look for the kegs, the party found an ancient burial chamber, taking the wand of the warmage and the pearl of power that they found there. One of the two thought this suspicious that there weren’t some sort of protection on them. Hmm…

Remember how I said that “Operation: Housekeeping” was coming up? Yeah, so they began to leave when they heard a voice outside, calling presumably to the former furbeeg occupant of the caves. Imagine a lady furbeeg that has the voice like that of Grenda from the show “Gravity Falls.” Apparently, she was a suiter of the male furbeeg that lay dead beyond her sight in the cave.

The half-orc, having actually purchased a French-maid type costume back in Brynn Shander, decided to shoot his shot to keep her outside. The exchange was something like this:

“Duhg, you home?!” calls out the furbeeg.
“Uhh, not really…” says the party.
“Who are you?!”
“Housekeeping!” (rolls CHA (Deception) check…gets good roll)
Me, rolling WIS (Insight) check: a Nat 1. Holy smokes.
“She believes you.”
“OPERATION HOUSEKEEPING A SUCCESS!!!”
“What happened to Duhg?”
“His polar bear got him. We couldn’t save him.”
“AAAAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!” (she proceeds to fight the polar bear in revenge then goes to bury Duhg)
The party takes the casks and leave.

At some point when almost back to Good Meade, the party found out that she realized the wounds weren’t from a polar bear. She came after them. They took her out pretty easily due to her weakened state from the polar bear combat.

Walking triumphantly into town, the party returned the mead and, after a brief strange encounter where the (just found to be) Zhentarim dwarf was defeated in the election of the Town Speaker over the woman who genuinely cares for the town itself.

During their long rest, the party found that two of their member were plagued with nightmares, unable to get any rest. Remember those magic items? Cursed. They headed back to Brynn Shander for a couple castings of remove curse with the intention of heading out to Dugan’s Hole the next day.

What will they find there? There were rumors of wolves plaguing the town, but, as it has always seemed, there is generally more than meets the eye going on!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Short Post: Not Feeling Well

Sorry guys, but this thing is really kicking me in the tail. I promise that I’ll get back to posting better as soon as possible.

I was feeling pretty good yesterday, but my back spasms have me in a ton of pain today, and this alone is taking a lot out of me to type out.

That said, here is a very punctuated story of what happened yesterday.

Yesterday, I ran Rime of the Frostmaiden from my hospital bed on Roll20. It was awesome. I hadn’t figured out how to do dynamic lighting until today, so that was…interesting. I got the fog of war working though and revealed areas bit by bit. It worked out okay, I guess.

They were in Good Meade and took care of the Ferbeeg issue they were having and recovered the stolen mead. Additionally, they got the good guy (gal, actually) to be the new town speaker. All good in the hood, easy peasey lemon squeezy.

Next time they are on the way to Dugan’s Hole, I believe. It’s going to be hilarious as it’s the…more…banjos and in-breeding sort of town. Think a slightly more friendly Deliverance (the movie).

My evening Discord game was continuing to go through the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (which I would like to point out, is a Russian folktale witch, pronounced Baba yee GAH). This was the group I did the group hightlight of. That session was so funny and awesome to run that I will tell of that session. It was so much fun.

In any case, I wanted to give you something despite my issues. I’m trying to fight my way through it.

You, Dear Readers, have been amazingly understanding with my disease and how it’s affecting my posting schedule.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Character Profile: Ad hoc Discord Group Playing “The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga”

As some of you know, I’m back in the hospital for an MS flare up. Not fun. That said, I got bored last night and began running Baba Yaga with a group consisting of a couple of people I know in person and two of my Discord internet friends via voice chat on Discord. This is not so much about the game itself as it is about the players.

IT WAS AWESOME!

First off, my players got along great, which is a real treat for me as a DM. Secondly, they did very well, especially drawing in the one player that was pretty shy at first. He really seemed to get into it.

I’ll be referring to folks by their first name or User name as I know them.

Firstly is one of my longest known internet friends, Christober. He changes his username often enough that I generally call him by his character name from our Sunday night game, Elren. I’ve told some stories about him (the one about his pet tarantula, Benjamin).

Next is Legion. He and I became friends on a Discord server where we are both admins. It’s called Arryn, and everyone should join/check it out. It’s a great community run by a guy named Gobfish and his right hand Byproduct. They are all about the gaming and D&D and other such comments. In any case, Legion has become a buddy of mine and now plays in the same game as Elren since we were down a player. He’d apparently heard good things about my campaigns and wanted to join.

Next is Joe. When I met him, he was a highschooler who joined my first ever Adventurers League group as my second DM. He’s a wonderful DM and I was lucky to have him. He was a DM in the highschool Game Club in Nebraska where we used to live. He’s a college student now, and he plays mostly by internet if I’m not mistaken. Joe is a gentleman and a scholar and I am proud to mentor him, be it at the table or over life itself. He has become a great friend over time.

Lastly, but not least, is Ethan, Joe’s boyfriend. I’ve only become acquainted with him recently, but he seems like a sweet guy. He was my shy player…at first. Then he really got into playing. He seemed amused at the first time he played with my Thursday Humblewood group, and they TPK’d their first session. Long story, but it began with “Okay guys, let’s split up to explore this abandoned town…Ooh, look! Shiny!” Hilarity ensued. We are rebooting said campaign this Thursday if I can. Really depends on where I am, be it here in the hospital (not likely), at home (slightly more likely), or a physical rehab facility (more likely). If I’m at the rehab facility, I’m not sure of the internet situation, so playing may not be a thing.

That was my group. As Elren/Christober and Legion are part of my Sunday evening, post League group (which has moved totally online due to a positive Covid-19 case at the store where we play), they will be back to back games, and we are looking at having Joe and Ethan join us for continuing this ad hoc game one-shot tonight, if the rest of the group is up for it, then continuing our other game after this is done. I suspect it will be a lot of fun.

I hope everyone enjoyed this player profile! Join us tomorrow for my summary of my Sunday game, and Tuesday for…something else. Not sure what I’ll have that day since I can’t have my miniature painting stuff. I guess it depends on where I am and what I can actually do.

Until next time, Dear Readers!

THE ZIGS – ONE WAY TRIP

By yourdorkmaterials

I have some pretty amazing players in my weekly game.

I admit that I was more than a little nervous at first. This started out as a pick-up game at my local for Adventurer’s League. With one exception, I didn’t know them, or even know anything about them, and vice-versa. Would we mesh well? Would they get along with each other? Did they prefer a beer-and-pretzel-type game or something more serious?

It has all worked out beautifully so far. Lots of surprises and lots of laughs. Privately, I’ve started calling them The Zigs because they definitely tend to zig when I plan on them zagging.

So…here’s the Zigs in all their glory:

“17” – A Goblin Totem Barbarian who is turning out to be the most “moral” of the group.

Guy Blankenship – A Human Battlemaster Archer who is perpetually on the hunt for glory and fame.

Kylor – A Tabaxi Gloomstalker Ranger-Archer who has a serious dislike of humans and a penchant for removing the eyes of his enemies.

Mordren – A Human Hunter Ranger two-weapon whirlwind of death with a disturbingly pragmatic moral code.

Winzu – A Ghostwise Halfling Moon Druid who is a hair’s breadth away from going feral.

The Story

I started them out in Saltmarsh because I wanted to get a few weeks into the Rime of the Frostmaiden game I’m playing in before I moved them north to Ten Towns. They discovered a strange alliance between the local lizardfolk and a band of pirates where the lizardfolk were attacking the outlying farms and villages, taking captives, and selling the people to the pirate-slavers in exchange for better weapons.

Being the intrepid heroes that they are, the Zigs stepped up and took the fight to the lizardfolk and had some good success initially over the course of a few games. Saltmarsh’s leaders are starting to include them in plans and seek the Zig’s counsel. Their growing reputation amongst the people of Saltmarsh means they’re living the high life; they can’t pay for a meal, a room, or a drink anywhere in the town. Things are definitely Going Well.

Thanks for reading. We’ll see ya’ll next time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May we all be thankful for each Nat 20, attack roll, and each successful death save!

I and yourdorkmaterials are so thankful for each and every one of you that reads The Blog. You all are truly amazing.

Have a good one, y’all!

Lack of Game Tuesday and Lack of Post Yesterday

Hey all. I’ve talked about it a couple of times, but today I want to break off from my usual type of posts and talk about the reason I’m posting this mostly using voice to text, and even that is difficult…

So, as I have said before, I have Multiple Sclerosis. More specifically, I have Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. What does this mean?

Well, imagine your fuse box. Now imagine that a chunk of the wires are frayed. Now imagine that your house is your body, and the fuse box is your brain and that the frayed wires are your nerves. Yeah, not too fun.

What’s specifically going on? My immune system is attacking the myelin coating on my nerves in my brain and brain stem. Then chaos ensues for me.

Myelin Sheath: What They Are, Their Function, & Damage From MS
This is a nerve cell.

In my body, this signal disruption appears as my left side going numb. Sometimes all of it, sometimes parts that become numb then radiate outwards. Like this time, for example. This time, it’s my left hand, and it’s spread to my left arm. My first major episode was my left shoulder and arm and spread throughout my left side. Pretty screwy.

Additionally, mine comes with partial or full paralysis (no pattern or rhyme as to when it will come with one or another), painful back spasms (called muscle spasticity), a weird blind spot in my right eye (controlled by left side of brain), and facial numbness on about 60-70% of the right side of my face (relatively new). I also have balance issues with walking (thus my powered wheelchair, or at minimum, my cane), depression (this one is pretty bad and messes with my military service induced PTSD in a way that REALLY screws with me) and cognitive issues, where I get confused as to where I am, aphasia (problems with word finding or just finding any words when speaking) or dysphasia (same thing, just less severe?), and the FATIGUE.

Symptoms of MS | USF Health
This is just a sampling of symptoms folks get.

OH MY GOODNESS, THE FATIGUE!

There are “morning birds”. Then there are “night owls.” I, my Dear Readers, am the “all day exhausted ostrich.”

It’s more than just being “tired.” It’s EXHAUSTED. Imagine taking a nap. Then imagine waking up and you are just as tired. Imagine being so wiped that you have zero energy to do anything. Now imagine it being all the time. It’s pretty intense. The worse part? You can “over do it” to bring on the fatigue worse than normal. Doing too much in too short a time (driving a chunk of the day did it to me more than once) is likely to do it.

Although I mentioned it before, the depression symptom that almost 15% of people get is really bad. I can’t stress that one enough. But you guys help me get through it. You have no idea what kind of joy it brings me to see people reading and following my blog, a labor of love, that I and my partner (yourdorkmaterials) put out.

In any case, that’s been my deal.

And unfortunately, it’s putting me back in the hospital.

You see, when my flare-ups (when my symptoms come back suddenly and I go into full relapse) get to where symptoms don’t go away after more than 3-4 days, I’m having a relapse. When I am having a relapse, it is generally good practice to go to the ER. I sent a secure message to my doctor and that’s what he wants: me to go to the ER.

And since I don’t know the Wi-Fi situation there, I’m not sure what my posting schedule will look like, frankly.

I have worked hard to bring you guys the content that I do. And although I’m going to a Roll20 format for my games (my players are excited, and so am I, for my monthly as well as both weekly games!), I’ll still be able to bring you the awesome content that I have, with the exception of miniature painting updates, as they won’t let me have my mini-painting stuff in the hospital.

I’m not sure what I will be doing for those days. Maybe yourdorkmaterials will be picking up a post, but he’s generally just as busy as I am. Maybe I’ll talk about my hospital visit? Who knows.

On the plus side, I’ll have tons of time to do nothing. On the minus side, the primary treatment for MS in the hospital is a veritable crap-ton of intravenous steroids, and I’m restless as all can be as well as one hungry-hungry hippo (they make you feel like you are starving).

Either way, I’ll be getting you what I can as I can.

On another note, there will not be a post on Thursday, as it’s America’s Thanksgiving Day (a national holiday), and I will hopefully be busy with Thanksgiving activities. They won’t feed me what I actually eat in the hospital so I’m waiting for Thursday to be over and hopefully going first thing on Friday (to the ER, that is).

There should be a post on Friday.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

PS – My Patreon site has a deal going on until the end of the month! Find the link under “Support Us” above!

How-To DM: So There Wasn’t a Sunday Game For My Table, But Here’s a Post

So, as the title says, I didn’t have a game this past Sunday. The reason? Because I just needed a break. Today, we’re going to talk about DM burnout.

It happens to the best of us: we DM time and time again, likely for multiple games and for multiple days, that stretch into weeks, months, and even years. I’ve played all of three game sessions in the last year, if that tells you something.

Remember my article Why I Am the Forever DM? If you haven’t read it, go ahead and check it out. I’ll wait.

Here’s a D&D Meme for those waiting with me:

Okay, now that you’ve read it, you can see that being the Forever DM, however rewarding has a major drawback: burnout.

So, here are my tips to avoid burnout.

1: Take a Break (like I’m doing this week):

Seriously, take a break. Especially if it’s a weekly game or something, take a week off! I’ve known many a DM that not only DMs every week, but hosts as well (I know this because I’m one of them, at least pre-Covid). A break, like any type of vacation can do wonders for the mind and body of a Dungeon Master.

Think of it like being at work. You go there day after day after day, right? And what happens at the end of the week? You get some sort of day off or weekend or some such to recharge.

What do I use my breaks from being Dungeon Mastering to do? I write. I plan for the campaign. I write adventures. Or, sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly burned out, I don’t do anything related to Dungeons and Dragons or any other sort of tabletop roleplaying game! I actually took a break! I hung out with my kids, particularly my 3-year old in just a special time to play with him. My family is really cool. We watched Hamilton. Awesome production.

You do you. But you do you in a relaxing and recharging sort of way.

2. Have Someone Else DM a One-Shot or Short Adventure/Campaign:

This cannot be stressed enough for the Forever DM: LET SOMEONE ELSE HAVE THE REIGNS AND DM!

I have control issues, okay? Most Dungeon masters that I know have this problem to one degree or another. It is part of the reason, in my humble opinion, why we are good at what we do.

But be willing to give up the reigns and play.

You cannot imagine the relief it can be to be the obnoxious player for once (just kidding! Be a good player!). Be the rules lawyer. Be the model player that you want your players to be.

Try to enjoy yourself with playing, planning your character out, creating that character you thought would be awesome but had to make an NPC instead!

The possibilities for this are endless here.

Here’s the catch: what if none of your players wants to step up and DM to give you a break? Well, pretty easy fix: do step one (above) and find a game while you are taking your break. Find a Discord or Roll20.net game.

Two of my favorite servers on Discord are Arryn or the DnDBeyond servers. Easy to find a game to play in.

Roll20, on the other hand, has a “Join a Game” option, where you can find a game to play. It’s got a customizable search function to find just the right game for you.

3. Change Game Systems and/or Genre:

Okay, now I’m going to say something that may offend some of you. Are you ready? Yes? Okay. Here it goes.

Dungeons and Dragons isn’t the only RPG system or genre out there.

There, I said it.

There are SO many systems and genres out there. To name a few: Runequest, GURPS, Pathfinder, d20 series (Modern, Future, Apocalypse, Past, etc…), Shadowrun, and the list goes on and on and on.

I can remember being disillusioned with D&D. Yeah that happened. Remember that edition we don’t like to talk about? 4th Edition? Yeah, that made me quit playing D&D.

The next game I ran? A Fallout themed d20 Future/Apocalypse game that went swimmingly and turned into a zombie survival game (long story; I’ll tell you all about it some time; I even incorporated The 100 in it). It was one of the best campaigns I have ever run and my players still love to talk about it. In fact, when I moved away from there, they got me a Super Mutant Pop! figure as a parting gift, signed by everyone.

Switching things up a bit can always help alleviate boredom and burnout.

Do you have any tips about avoiding DM burnout? Leave them in the comment section below!

Until next time, Dear Readers!