How-To DM: Strongholds & Businesses

One of the cool things about tabletop games, especially with D&D, is the idea that, during the course of adventures, the party can acquire (and sometimes “acquire” if you catch my meaning…) various things that aren’t traditionally considered treasure.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about businesses and strongholds.

Maybe the king granted the party lands and titles in service for their deeds. Maybe they cleared out a ghost ship and now want to run a passenger or merchant business. Maybe they got given the deed to a supposedly haunted tavern as a reward for returning a kidnapped companion. Or maybe, just maybe, their uncle died and left them his keep if they can just clear it of the hobgoblins that took it over (RIP Grinkle).

However they got it, businesses and strongholds give the party a place to rest/run/play while in-between adventures. Oftentimes, they use it as a base of operations and it is a sweet thing for the DM to allow. Here’s why:

1) You never know how much things cost until you have to pay the bills.

There is a table inside the Dungeon Master’s Guide that was some activities for downtime and one of those is running a business.

So let’s use that example of the party who inherited a tavern. The first thing that they have to do is fix it up and get people to be employed to run the tavern. Sure, in the short term the party can man the tavern themselves, but they are adventurers! Eventually, they’re going to want to go out and adventure, leaving the need for somebody to pay the bills while they do their thing.

Do you know how much upkeep a stronghold requires? You need somebody to run the household, you need somebody or some people to keep up with the cleaning, you need somebody to keep up with the stables, you need somebody to man the battlements while you are gone. Oh, and pay the taxes and tithe to the local ruler/government. And that’s assuming that you actually have a stronghold to start with! We’re not even considering the concept of having to build it from scratch.

All of this is a great way to separate the party from their hard-won gold.

2) Strongholds and businesses can be great springboards for adventures.

Let me ask you this: how many adventures do you have that begin in a tavern? How many campaigns have begun with a part of adventures sitting in a tavern?

Yeah, that was what I thought.

Well, now they own a tavern or an inn, and you can use those tropes as much as often as you want.

Something threatening the local lands? Maybe there is a tribe of hobgoblins nearby that keeps threatening the local lord’s power?

Well, now they are the lord’s that need help. And you can’t just hire adventurers to go do it for you (I mean, maybe you could, but why pay somebody else to do something that you can do yourself, and probably better!). Better go deal with it.

3) It gives the players and their characters a reason to be more invested into the world around them.

When they have hired NPCs that they will most likely, if you are doing your job as a dungeon master, that they will get to know and love. Imagine having your favorite housekeeper kidnapped! Imagine your Castle being under siege while you are away and your brave men at arms are holding the line while you figure out a way to help disperse this enemy from behind.

This kind of goes along with the idea of the property being a springboard for adventure, but those adventures become much more personal when your character has a stake in the outcome.

In Conclusion

Having the party own property can be overwhelming to deal with if not done right. But if you have a plan, it can be an awesome addition to any D&D or tabletop game.

It can help mitigate overwhelming amounts of treasure, be a springboard for other adventures, and give the players yet another reason to be invested in your game world.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Die Cast Miniatures

A while back my friend happened to have been in a store and found the coolest thing. I had heard of it but I hadn’t actually gotten around to buying one. She found them on sale.

Noticed that each one comes with some sort of iconic character or creature.

The first one comes with the iconic red dragon. Nice.

The next one comes with Drizz’t Do Urden, the famous drow Ranger, as well as the iconic mind flayer.

The third one comes with Drizz’t’s companion, Cattie-Brie.

The last one comes with the iconic Minsc and his miniature-sized giant space hamster, as well as a beholder, painted suspiciously similar to the Xanathar.

I have seen these outside of their packages and they are all absolutely amazing. As I purchase them for their collector value to me, and not necessarily for their use, I will likely be keeping them in their packages for display with my other collector memorabilia.

Like so:

Sorry, the photo didn’t turn out quite well.

In any case, it adds well to my collection.

Ooh! Before I forget!

Do you remember how I told you that I have tons of old and original adventures? They include the original Village of Hommlet, the original Tomb of Horrors, etc…

Well, one of the adventures that I own is The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Alan Hammack. Long story short, he happened to have been in town where I was invited to join a game that he would be running, namely, that very adventure. Unfortunately, it came on a day where I was not going to be able to play. A friend of mine that invited me was asked by yours truly to take the adventure and have it signed by him. He kindly obliged to me. Now check it out!

As you can see, sitting in plastic. As it will be.

Just another piece of collector memorabilia that I am proud to own.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Do you own any cool memorabilia? Share it with us in the comment section below.

Until next time, Dear Readers….

Mini Painting Update: Aasimar and Elf

You all may remember my previous post about the two mins I have been working on for the young ladies I DM for on Wednesdays.

After looking at the previous pictures, I realized that they weren’t doing them justice, really.

Here is the aasimar paladin again, with better lighting:

I think I did a good job on him, and he’s probably one of, if not THE, best jobs I have done.

Here is the elven rogue:

She’s just about done. I need to do her washes and paint her hands, which I ironically forgot to do.

Did the hands and added Citadel’s Martian Ironearth texture paint to the base. It’s a cool texture paint that cracks like a desert hard pack ground. It’s a pretty neat effect and I thought it would complement the rogue’s earthy tones.

Lastly, before I forget!

I got some stickers in as a test for the Ingrates and the Daily DM Blog. If I get enough interest I’ll put them up for sale at $2 each including domestic shipping.

As it is, I’ll be giving away one of the daily DM Blog stickers to one lucky subscriber next week, so if you haven’t subscribed, hit that subscribe button today to follow us and get updates.

Next week we will also be giving away one of our Inglorious Ingrates stickers to one lucky Premium Subscriber! So if you want to get a preview to the Inglorious Ingrates podcast as well as be in the running for regular giveaways, subscribe to our Premium Content at only $5 per month!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

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Organized Play

Dear Readers, as you may know, or at least could have guessed, I am an organizer for Adventurers League, Wizards of the Coast organized Play for Dungeons and Dragons.

Organized Play is very different than “normal” D&D play in a variety of ways. It’s actually, in addition to being called organized play, called “standardized” play.

Here’s how it’s different:

The Cons:

1) Stats Are Standardized

All stats are standardized. This means that there are exactly two ways to generate ability scores (point buy or array) and hit points are max plus Constitution modifier at first level, but average plus Con modifier thereafter. You only have the option of equipment packages at first level, and the only gold you get is any you have from your background. Anything you roll is for the flavor items, such as flaws, bonds, and such.

2) All Play is Rules as Written

There are no homebrew rules here! Unless the season’s adventure calls for special rules for something or another, it is always Rules as Written (RaW). A good example of an exception is for Tomb of Annihilation, where all death is permadeath, and even that has an exception.

3) There Are Limits to Parts of Play

To balance the game, gold and magic items have limits. Adventurers League doles out a max gold per hour of play up to a set amount one can acquire per level based on your tier of play.

Additionally, they put limits on how many permanent magic items you can have at any one time, again based on tier.

Lastly, for those that usually prefer experience points as the method of advancement, Adventurers League now prefers to allow leveling based on the milestone method. This has its advantages, as we’ll discuss below.

Pros

1) There is Always a New “Schtick” For Each New Season

There is always some neat new mechanic that they introduce when a new season goes out. For the current season (Season 10; Rime of the Frostmaiden), it’s the entire concept of levels of cold that can kill a player that doesn’t have resistance to cold. Even then, there are things more dangerous. In previous adventures, it can be the novelty and constraints that an urban environment can provide, or, as in the previously discussed Tomb of Annihilation, the concept of permadeath.

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden | Dungeons & Dragons

2) It’s a Great Learning Environment

Adventurers League is a wonderful place to learn the rules and mechanics of D&D without getting confused by homebrew/house rules. It’s the concept of RaW (see above) that makes it such. It’s a wonderful place, especially, to learn action economy and to have more group diversity.

Of note, one of my League DMs and I ran a Wednesday evening game for a bunch of young people (see my previous post on that) comprised of young ladies ages 12-15 who wanted to learn how to play. We decided that, since they were such a large group, that teaching them on Sundays would be cumbersome and they would have a hard time keeping up with the story line while learning the rules as well, so we started the Wednesday Night D&D Primer event. We are now transitioning them to Sundays, and they will make a wonderful addition, continuing to learn and grow as players. Even better, is that one of them wishes to learn how to be a Dungeon Master! I plan on taking that table next season, while allowing the new DM trainee to begin cutting her teeth on running the table, under supervision.

3) It Puts Limits on Some Aspects of Play

The idea that limits are put on aspects of play, such as leveling, gold, and magic items makes things way more level when a new player comes to the table. Additionally, it keeps things fair and equitable around the table, resource-wise. It makes the next concept much easier as well.

4) It Truly Is “Drag and Drop” Play for Players and DMs Alike

Because of the standardization of play, as well as the accompanying record sheets that verify information, a player can go from table to table, as long as the table matches the tier of their character (level 1-4 for tier 1, 5-10 for tier 2, 11-16 for tier 3, and 17-20 for tier 4). This means that if they can’t show for a few sessions, even if they miss some sessions, they can join any table of their tier as long as they don’t repeat a section of the adventure.

This also makes it really easy for new players that want to join, having previously been part of another Adventurers League game or to bring your characters to a convention

Conclusion

There are several and many pros and cons to playing in Adventurers League. Personally, for me, the pros outweigh the cons, and I have a rather large group (upwards of 8-9 tables, mostly with 6-7 players!) that enjoys playing. My only real problems are table space and DM burnout, both of which are greatly manageable.

As many can attest, D&D Adventurers League is a fun experience where you can play with a diverse group of players in a good environment.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Have any of you played in Adventurers League? If so, what have your experiences been? Let me know in the comment section below!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Don’t forget that you can support The Blog now in several ways. You can click on our support us tab above and give a one-time donation or a recurring subscription (the recurring subscription of course giving you access to all of our premium subscriber benefits!), Or you can go HERE and HERE to get merch to support the blog!

Another Bunch of Shamelessly Stolen D&D Memes; Last One is For the Ingrates

A shamelessly stolen bunch of D&D memes. The last one is specifically for my Inglorious Ingrates. The first one of them that sends me a description of the last meme gets DM Inspiration. As for the rest of you, Dear Readers, subscribe to see who got it (if any of them!)

TGAPP: Catastrophic Celebration

When last we followed the tales of the Inglorious Ingrates, they had received an invitation, via Dacyria’s old social pal Felicity, to a party hosted at Dacyria’s home, and this party was meant to be a celebration of a mysterious truce between House Targana and Mogumir. Seeking to learn more about what was causing the collective amnesia and unexplained burning of loved one’s property, the group accepted they would attend this function. The group had about a week, so they all sought different objectives. Several members sought to learn new and helpful skills and spells, others sought to seek out information or people, and some took to calming the nerves through hunting or shopping. A couple of days before the party, the group met a young male wood elf named Aramel who sought a group that could take him on a real adventure as long as they made use of his stealth and reconnaissance skills. As this tended to be a weak spot for the Ingrates, they gladly accepted the wood elf in their ranks.

On the day of the party, the group all dressed up in their finest attire, and made way to the party with little to no plans agreed upon beforehand. Prior to heading over to the main celebration, the group met up with Felicity to ride together as her guest, but several sharp members noticed something strange happened to the young noble lady. At some point in their ride over, Felicity had her eyes roll into the back of her head momentarily, and the next moment she seemed fine as ever. With little else to follow up on this odd behavior, our companions rode the carriage through the gates of the Targana estate, and they were welcomed by a beautiful manor decorated for the occasion. Inside was even more spectacular as a large assortment of food was spread out on a table, and the guests appeared to be dressed in fanciful gowns and robes. Though the most spectacular thing in the ballroom was a dazzling blue gemstone floating in the middle of everything, and it gave off obvious magical influences yet no one in the group could discern its nature. The group shortly went to work at finding information on the gemstone and the Baron. Idris was successful in meeting Felicity’s mother, and the mother was able to connect Idris with meeting the Baron Mogumir under the guise Idris was a maritime merchant. However, something peculiar was evident to the party as they walked around the ballroom. After they had first entered, Felicity claimed to not know who Dacyria was despite calling her name when they first rode over together. As timed passed, all the members of the Ingrates, except Dacyria and Arkon, also had forgotten about Dacyria and her entire existence!

The group tried to salvage the plan, but before any major discoveries could be made in the case of the magical gemstone, Aramel had succeeding at making a scene to where he made the guards believed he had been poisoned, and this information spread like wildfire. Next thing everyone knew, the party goers were in a panic and trying to escape, but the guards pointed the weapons at them and stated everyone needed to be questioned. Seeing no obvious culprit in the pseudo-poisoning scheme, the guards let everyone go, and the party was called to a close before any major announcements could be made. The party split and went their separate ways for the night with few leads to follow up on. Yet fate had different plans for the party.

The celebration was held inside the city walls which closed after dark, and thus, everyone was blocked from returning to Avery’s home. This situation pushed Arkon and Dacyria to visit Dacyria’s old mentor home after discovering days prior that it appeared to have been abandoned after the mentor mysteriously left. However, upon their entrance into the home, the pair soon discovered that this place was not abandoned, but in fact, the mentor laid their before the two sleeping in a pile of rags. They prodded the old man until they jolted him awake, and he glared at them with a dirty, unshaven look of someone who had seen better days. To their surprise, he instantly recognized Dacyria, and which invited Dacyria to reconnect with her mentor and figure out what the Inglorious Ingrates would do next…

What will happen next? What happened to the mentor to make him live a life of squaller? What was causing the collective amnesia at the party? Find out in our next post of the Inglorious Ingrates!

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The Ingrates are back at it again, this time at a ball for the nobility! What kind of shenanigans will the Ingrates get themselves into this time?!

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Short Post: Mini Update

Sorry for the short post today, but I’ve got a lot of doctors appointments and other such things.

On top of it, I have the young ladies’ group this evening that I have to prep for.

Like I said. Long day.

But that doesn’t mean I have nothing to give you today!

Do you remember this mini (the one on the left)?

Well, as you may remember, I have replaced her with a better mini that represents her:

She wields dual rapiers, so when I found this, I was stoked.

As you can see, she’s coming along quite well.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Don’t forget that you can support The Blog now in several ways. You can click on our support us tab above and give a one-time donation or a recurring subscription (the recurring subscription of course giving you access to all of our premium subscriber benefits!), Or you can go HERE and HERE to get merch to support the blog!

Thanks again!

Miniature Painting Project: Aasimar Paladin

Have you ever gotten so caught up in a project that it just consumed you for a little while?

Yeah, that was me. Remember that Paladin I was painting?

I totally forgot to take step by step pictures.

Dear Readers, for about 2 hours, this miniature became my obsession. I was tapped by the miniature painting muse.

Voila!

Here is the backside.

This truly was a labor of love. I am so excited to show it to the young lady that I painted it for.

Of note, the white cloak ended up turning a super pale blue as I used Citadel (Dry) Chronus Blue to attempt to dry brush, nearly washing away all of the blue wash I used on the miniature.

Okay, I can recover from this, I thought.

I then used the army painter D&D Miniature Painting set Lawful White (otherwise known as Matt White), and dry brushed that over the top. It turned out spectacularly.

I then used Army Painter Oak Brown for his pants, contrasting with the Army Painter Leather Brown that I used for all the straps and belts.

Lastly, I did, with a detailed brush, the Army Painter “The Psycho” to be specific, the filigree on his shield.

It may not be perfect, but I painted all of it by hand. No shortcut techniques here.

What’s next for me? Well, there’s another little girl awaiting her own miniature to be painted. I need to have them both done before Wednesday evening.

Here’s where I stand on that one.

As you can see, I still have a ways to go. In fact, I have quite a bit of ways to go. I’m going to end up repainting all of her non-bronzy armor a darker brown, and then using a lighter brown to highlight everything with dry brushing. Since I seem to have gotten the technique, I’m going to use it. Especially since I found a good brush to do it with.

Ladies, if you happen to be reading my blog: to the one of you playing the paladin, I hope you like what you’re getting this week. To the one who is playing the rogue, just you wait, you’ll love yours as well.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Don’t forget that you can support The Blog now in several ways. You can click on our support us tab above and give a one-time donation or a recurring subscription (the recurring subscription of course giving you access to all of our premium subscriber benefits!), Or you can go HERE and HERE to get merch to support the blog!

How-To DM: Converting Old Modules/Adventures

If there’s an activity that I enjoy as much as I enjoy miniature painting, it is the act of converting old modules.

As I have detailed before, there’s an old adventure in Dungeon magazine issue 53, called “Clarshh’s Sepulchre” that is easily one of my most enjoyable modules to run. The best part of this module is that the entire thing is very easily converted to 5e. The only thing I needed to do was do a Homebrew creation of a monster that has not yet been officially converted to 5th edition. I actually found a pretty good conversion of it elsewhere on the web, then did my own conversion and posted it on D&D Beyond.

In any case, one of my daughters and her friends wanted to play and asked me to run. I decided, after much deliberation, to run Keep on the Borderlands as a sort of one shot. They would get as far as they get and all the girls would end up going off to college.

That was the plan.

Then they decided they wanted to finish playing the module and keep playing for a while. Okay, I can do that via Roll20. The only problem was that I could not find the adventure on Roll20. What I did find was a really good knockoff that was not populated. It had all the dynamic lighting and everything else already done, it just needed populating. Easy enough, I can do that.

I then began the painstaking labor of populating the entire dungeon complex. Some things were easy, like an owlbear, some things were a little more difficult. In several instances, I just used upgraded forms of the original creatures. For example, for the hobgoblin cave, I used regular hobgoblins as they were, upgraded hobgoblins as hobgoblin captains, and their leader was a hobgoblin Warlord.

For those of you that are familiar with this particular campaign, the sheer volume of creatures is sometimes… prodigiously numerous to say the least.

As I do this, I realized that I can actually write out the conversion that I am doing and put it up on the DMs Guild website. I’ll do that some other time, as I have this to run in the near future. The only thing I have left to do is the… Well, some of those players may end up reading this blog so I don’t want to post any spoilers.

Nice try, ladies.

In any case, when doing conversions, there’s a lot of options in the Monster Manual alone that enable you to put forth various critters.

For example, with hobgoblins, you have the standard hobgoblin, the hobgoblin captain, and the hobgoblin warlord. Depending on your needs for the adventure, you can utilize what you want. This way, you have fewer things that you need to create from scratch. Not that doing that is bad, but it’s much easier when doing conversions.

The only time things get a little sticky is when you can’t find a version of the monster that hasn’t been released yet, like the arcane from the aforementioned adventure “Clarshh’s Sepulchre.” Thankfully, he isn’t really needed and is not essential to the adventure. Of course, the crypt thing at the end of the adventure (sorry for any spoilers) I had to find online, then go ahead and put up in the Homebrew section of D&D Beyond. The rest of the critters are easily found in the monster manual and other such places.

Even more so when you have to improvise certain things like substituting various kinds of poisons and traps. The Dungeon Masters Guide provides a significant amount of guidance as to what kind of traps you’re looking at and how to substitute various trap DCs. Again, very vanilla.

Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, when you have some kind of wonky sort of mechanic that worked really well in the older editions of D&D, you may have to improvise in 5e. Recently, I ran Treasure Hunt, a wonderful adventure that actually starts players at level zero. I had to improvise that particular element.

Basically, I let them have their race, and their background, and nothing else. The adventure actually begins with the party not having any equipment either. It actually turns out to be really fun. For those of you who are premium subscribers, you have heard, at least in part, this adventure at the Episode 0 of the Inglorious Ingrates. It’s a really interesting mechanic and I was forced to improvise even some of that.

I know this hasn’t been much about what I said the post was about, but it was interesting enough I thought you all would want some tips about old module conversions.

Thanks again, Dear Readers.

Until next time…

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Anything is appreciated!

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I Finally Have Them All!!

As many of you know, Dear Readers, my favorite adventure of the pre-published kind is Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. It is easily one of, if not the best pre-printed adventures that Wizards of the Coast have published.

Why?

Great Question.

It has action, mystery, adventure, dungeon delving, political intrigue, more action, incredible fight scenes and locations. It also has interesting and complex villains.

And that is our discussion today. The villains.

I have finally collected each and every miniature of the major villains from the adventure. Some of them you are familiar with, some of them you are going to get to know. These are their stories (dun dun!).

The Xanathar

First off, we have that famous, or rather infamous beholder that everyone loves to hate: The Xanathar.

As you may have seen in a previous post, this is a guy that I painted personally after assembling him with much trepidation. He was one of the D&D Collector’s Series line of miniatures.

Manshoon

This is also a miniature that I have painted. Head of the Black Network, mansion is a clone of his original self. He too comes from the D&D Collector’s Series line of miniatures.

Jarlaxle

The drow that everyone loves. Well, the second favorite drow. We all know who the first one is.

This guy is also from the D&D Collector’s Series, and I assembled him long before I did The Xanathar. Much like The Xanathar, I have been rather intimidated in painting him, mostly because of the fact that he is made of resin and is so ridiculously delicate.

Victoro and Ammalia Cassalanter

These two were recent acquisitions. They come from the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist set of pre-painted miniatures.

I acquired these two off of the Miniature Market website. They were the only two that I had not yet acquired and that were not part of the D&D Collector’s Series. But with them, I finally acquired all of the main villains from that beloved adventure of mine.

There you have it. I finally have the whole set. And I’m so tickled pink about it.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Tell me in the comment section below!

Thanks, as always for reading.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Running Sooooo Many Games! & D&D Magic the Gathering

You may remember my post a long time ago about being the “Forever DM.” Yeah, that’s totally me. And I bring it upon myself.

Here are the number of games that I run:

I run my Adventurers League table on Sundays, and just picked up an online game earlier in the day, and a Discord game that evening. Monday nights I may or may not have BattleTech. Tuesday nights I run the Inglourious Ingrates. Wednesday nights, at least for now before school starts, I run the young people’s group.

Add that up, I’m playing tabletop games six times a week. 5 days a week. Something has got to give, or I will be in DM Burnoutâ„¢.

This, phenomenon, too, have I posted about.

Don’t get me wrong, I love DMing, but I would like to play. Even for a one-shot.

T’would be a grand time.

I even have a character planned: Anton Evenwood, Bard Extraordinaire! Either that, or my Elven Bladesinger who wields her family’s ancestral moonblade. Or my justicar cleric of the Grave Domain, Azrael. Depending on the adventure and level. All fun (I imagine) to play.

In any case, enough of my ranting. You didn’t come here to listen to me rant.

D&D Magic the Gathering

So I used to play magic, a long time ago. It was a fun game to play. I still enjoy playing it on occasion. But I haven’t touched it in a while.

Until now.

Now, I’ve gone back into that bottomless pit. Why? Because I have to collect everything. Everything Dungeons and Dragons, apparently.

So I signed up to get a set booster box and one of those boxes that comes with, usually, and oversized counter plus 15 boosters. Can’t remember what they’re called. In any case, I have more cards on the way.

So I opened. And I opened more. And now I have Brunor Battlehammer, Acererack, Zariel, Drizz’t Do Urden, Asmodeus, and some really nice dracolich, among many other cards. It was a blast opening all of them. I have the wish spell and meteor swarm both as Magic the Gathering cards.

Will I likely make a deck out of these? Probably not. I own them for the collector value more than anything. I have a bunch of the art cards and are hoping to get more.

Above our several other cards that I got of note. You can see, I got a really nice set.

Minsc and Drizz’t are, undoubtedly, my favorites. It should also be noted, that I actually got Gwenevar’s token card.

So, yeah, good haul. And I am buying another Set Booster box.

What is wrong with me?! đŸ˜‰

In any case, next month is going to be busy with some plans that hopefully pan out for Adventurers League and our Tuesday night game night, with September being very busy.

OOOOHHHH!!! BEFORE I FORGET!!!

I had been invited to an exclusive game run by Allen Hammack, the author of The Ghost Tower of Inverness, who would be running said adventure! Unfortunately it fell on a Saturday so I was unable to go, BUT!

I actually own the original adventure, and asked a buddy of mine who would be attending to have it signed by Mr. Hammack, to which he agreed. Hopefully, after next weekend, I will have that signed copy!

Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s post, Dear Readers!

Until next time…

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How-To DM: Absent Players

We’ve all been there: you either have a regular session every week, or every two weeks, or even monthly. It’s scheduled out. But come the day of or the day before, and they cancel on you. Or, they just tell you they’re going to be gone that day and they can’t make that session.

What do you do with the character? They are there, even if the player is not. Here are some suggestions.

“Magic Portal”

When the player is not available to play, the character magically disappears. It’s like an elephant in the room: they are gone but nobody talks about it. This is probably the easiest way to deal with the problem, albeit the least realistic.

The “PC turned NPC”

This one comes really easy, however it should be agreed upon by the player of said character before doing it.

The premise of this is basically that the character is still there but now under the control of the dungeon master. Things get even more sticky if something horrible happens to said character.

Sometimes, the player trusts in another player you know, the absent player will hand their character over to one of the other players to run in addition to theirs. Beware of this however, as described above if something terrible happens to that character.

The “I’m Not There So They Aren’t There”

Maybe the character has some sort of family obligation going on. Maybe they’d rather sit at the tavern and drink. Or maybe, just maybe, just don’t want to go on this little part of the quest. Whatever it is, your absence is explained away in the fact that they just are not there.

When done in the middle of an adventure, or maybe a dungeon crawl, it’s usually explained away by having them watch the camp or that they needed a break.

The Bag of Lodging

Long ago, in a basement far far away, there was a dungeon master who would one day be known as The Daily Dungeon Master. He was running a game with his friends from high school while in his early twenties, when high school wasn’t that long ago. The Daily Dungeon Master loved running Adventures found in the Dungeon magazines that he had a subscription for.

Then one day, he found it. The absolutely perfect magic item. It was unbelievable.

The item, known as the Bag of Lodging, was a cross between a Leomund’s Tiny Hut spell and a bag of holding. One would only have to use the command word, and the small bag with open to a ladder going down into what was essentially a permanent extra dimensional space that had unseen servants, unlimited water, air, and food. To get out, one would either have to speak command word on the outside, or from the inside.

Therefore: when the player was not there the character went in the bag. When they were there, they came out of the bag. It. Was. Awesome.

In Conclusion

However you do it, having players come in and out, or characters come in and out can always be problematic. That said, it happens. As long as we have a plan or a method for how they come and go things can always work out.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Do you have a method for your characters to pop in and out when needed? Did I miss something? Tell me in the comment section below.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

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TGAPP: Racing After Rumors in Red Fern

Pardon to everyone, but I was out the session prior to the writing of this post, but I will do my best to summarize events since then.

The Inglorious Ingrates faced the undead king Torgrym after unlocking the central pillar, but the undead ruler was waylaid shortly after meeting the Ingrates. The victors helped themselves to the treasure of Torgrym, and proceeded to head back to Borest. On their return back, they saw the sprigs no longer bothered them, and the town appeared to be free from the malevolent rule of the goblins. Without any leads as to what happened to the goblins, the party made their way back to Redfurn the capital of the Kingdom of Endyr as well as home of several members. After rest and rearming, the companions traveled several days north to Red Fern. Upon their arrival, the Ingrates discovered several oddities had transpired after being enslaved for six months: the orphanage several members had spent time in had burned down, Idris’ siblings had gone missing, and Dacyria was believed to have been killed.

Finding few to no leads on the cause of these developments, the Ingrates traveled to Avery’s home, but even her home had been affected. In the time since her disappearance, someone had come to Avery’s household, and the man claimed to be her biological father who had out been adventuring for all of her life. Though, Avery was not alone in finding lost family, for as the group wandered the streets of Redfurn, Idris was very lucky in noticing his sister, Elama, wandering the streets as an urchin. Elama also appeared to be suffering from some mental illness that made it difficult to recall who Idris was, but Avery offered that Elama could be taken care of at her house. Soon after rescuing the sister, several guards accosted the group to see if they had seen an escaped asylum patient.

After several hours of fruitless searching and wandering, several members required a need to relieve stress, so Sakura, formerly Gye, traveled to her old stomping grounds in the back of an alley where a small fighting group was gathered. Arkon, was the first to step into the ring with an impressively muscled half-orc, who made quick work of Arkon, and the half-orc proceeded to deal with Sakura just as efficiently after finishing Arkon. Afterwards, Avery and Dacyria fell to the half-orc quickly too. Despite seeing his companions fall one-after-the-other, Winter stepped forward to challenge the champion, and with a luckily placed shot, Winter emerged victorious from the street brawl.

The next day, Dacyria invited the Ingrates to help gather information on why her family believed her to be dead. Their investigation led them to visit Dacyria’s old social acquaintance Felicity Marleth, a friend of Dacyria’s from a House Minor who recognized her immediately and began revealing the gossip of the Redfurn. The biggest takeaway from Felicity’s revelations was the union that had magically come about soon after Dacyria’s supposed death and despite the Targana and Mogumir having a long history of hating one another. To cement this new friendship, the Duke Targana was hosting a party in which the Baron Mogumir would also be attending. This opportunity was too good to pass up, so the party prepared to crash the party…

Will they succeed? What can they learn? Find out what happens on our next blog post, and until next time, may the dice rolls ever be in your favor!

How-To Play: Types of Games

Dear readers, as you can see, I’m starting a new series called “How to Play.” I hope you enjoy it!

Last week as well as last night I had the privilege of running a game for my daughter and several of her friends, all of whom are ladies whose ages range in age from 18 to mid-20s.

They are a blast.

My daughter is getting ready to leave for college and wanted a “last hurrah” with her friends who either played Dungeons & Dragons or wanted to learn. I was requested to dungeon master and find something to run. I decided to go with an oldie but goodie: The Keep on the Borderlands by Gary Gygax himself. Even better? I’m converting the original adventure, which I am using as we play, on the fly using dndbeyond.com (not to put too fine a point on it, but this kind of “on the fly” conversion wouldn’t be possible without such a tool to use!).

Now, just checking through the module as written, there aren’t written too many role-playing encounters. In fact, this is back in the day where most areas had to be described by the DM and there weren’t any “gray box text”to use. It was kind of a challenge for me as a DM who is gotten used to the gray box text since it’s far back as 2nd Edition AD&D.

My dad tells me that the ability to make the descriptions vivid without being boring or sounding canned are the hallmarks of a good dungeon master. My players tell me I’m pretty good. Okay, they actually tell me I’m pretty fantastic. I don’t like to brag about this. Frankly because I think I’m an average dungeon master at best. At the very least, all of my players told me they have a lot of fun at my games.

Self aggrandizement aside, it kind of made me realize something after last night’s game: my groups’ play style determined how that game went, as did any group for those kinds of adventures back in the day. I mean, there was a keep, there were the caves, and then there were the other things like the crazy hermit, the lizardman mound, stuff like that. So overall, there wasn’t much in the way of missions or quests…per se.

A lot of it had to be self-driven. Sure, there were rumors that a merchant had been taken Ransom in the caves and that anyone who rescued him would receive a reward.

Sure, the Caves of Chaos were rumored to be filled with all sorts of monsters and treasure. But you gotta understand: back then, this was all the motivation a player character needed!

So were this group of ladies, I told them that the castellan, after they had done a different job in taking down a group of bandits that had been plaguing the roads, had asked them to clear out the evil caves of the monstrous presences there. Easy enough.

After our game session last night I realized that I had several players of different gaming styles in my group. All perfectly valid in their own right.

Role-playing

The character Edmund, of my characters last night, was the character created for role-playing. He does a lot of the talking, does a lot of the emoting, and generally is the life of the party. Can you guess what class he is?

Yeah, Bard. Go figure.

The role player wants to know motivations, and names, and backgrounds. The person who likes role play games wants to know The who and the why of people in games.

The same bard, for example, had a background where he had some, let’s say, Daddy issues. As a result, he tended to latch on to anybody who gave him approval. Unfortunately for him, the first person who he latched on to for approval was an evil cleric that the newest party member, a paladin, discovered was actually an evil cleric of Therizdun. It was an interesting fight to watch him fight them.

The discovery, the feelings of betrayal, the actual fight itself, and the delivery of the body back to the keep. All this was done through copious amounts of epic role play.

Keep an eye on these players as they can sometimes quickly take over the game, so make sure the other players get a say in the encounters!

You keep these characters happy by involving their backstories into the game and giving them colorful and vibrant non-player characters to interact with.

Hack ‘n Slash

These players absolutely love combat. These players enjoy finding groups of monsters and unleashing their horde of magical and martial abilities upon them.

These players can be martial characters or spellcasters.

Spellcaster example? One word…well, spell:

Fireball.

In the same group, I have a druid who has found a wonderfully useful event to cast the spell entangle. In fact, they came up with a tactic where the druid would cast entangle while the bard would cast shatter.

Do you even know what that does to a group of kobolds?! I mean, they have 5 hp! If they roll average damage, it will be more than twice a kobold’s hp, meaning, even if they make a successful save, they still die. Not cool, man.

Be careful, these sorts of players, when bored, can easily turn into total murder hobos.

Keep these players Happy by giving them chances to use their big cool spells, as well as hordes of small tiny creatures for those wonderful AOE (area of effect) spells. Additionally, give them awesome and fantastical locations in which to have these combat encounters!

Something In-between

Let’s face it, no campaign is one thing or another. Most Dungeons & Dragons games are a good blend of kicking indoors and talking to the townsfolk.

Talking to the keep castellan and offering your services as a world-class chef as well as using your wild shape ability to turn itself into a cat to see if the rest of the keep is on the up and up and not some weird evil trap are both awesome role-play encounters.

Going into the Caves of Chaos and waltzing into the owlbear and just slaughtering it is also a fun game, as is going into the kobold caverns of said caves and using the spell shatter to destroy 16 kobolds rushing you.

Lastly, finding out that the jovial cleric of Lathander that has been accompanying you is really an evil cleric of Therizdun, and subsequently having to fight and kill him and his three acolytes is always a lark!

In Conclusion

Whatever game style you and your players happen to engage in, just remember, that this is a cooperative game. We make sure that everybody gets a chance to shine and that everybody is having fun.

After all, if we aren’t having fun…why play?

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Short Post: Miniature Painting by Someone Else!

Hey everyone!

I figured that all of you would be tired of seeing my miniature painting, and would like to see some others’ paintings.

Here you go!

A Githzerai Artificer painted by my friend Nick.
Outstanding job.
Backside of the mini.
Darren’s minis of our monthly group!
Recognize these? They are the Ingrates! Idris hasn’t been painted so he isn’t shown.
Dacyria
Arkon
Avery
Winter
Mewsie
Sakura…okay I lied a little. I did this one, but Darren finished her.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Let me know in the comments section what you think!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Artist Debut: Spider

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