DM Story: The Day the Barbarian Lost His Head

This story takes place some 15ish years ago. It is also a collection of stories from the same campaign adventure. Enjoy!

I was running City of the Spider Queen for my game group, the one that I’d been running for since back in the 2nd Edition days.

Do you all know those games where everything is going well and people are taking the game seriously and everyone’s having a good time? You know those same times where somebody says something funny and it turns into a total comedy hour? Yeah, that’s what happened here.

Story 1:

So the party is lacking in the ability to get things appraised, and the Cleric decides to use an ability she has to cast a select arcane spell to cast find familiar.

She gets: a celestial hedgehog that happens to have a fairly high appraisal skill. The problem is, under rules for familiars and speaking with animals, animals tend to appraise things from their point of view. That means that human appraisal values don’t really mean much to them. When asked to appraise a valuable piece of artwork, I decided that the hedgehog would appraise things based on its value in barrels of nuts.

I thought it was clever. My player thought it was hilarious.

Story 2:

We had a new player join us, can’t remember who he was other than a mutual friend of some of the other players. He decides that he wants to play, but he wants to play a barbarian because he thought Conan was cool. Okay, fine. When asked to engage, he did what he thought a barbarian was supposed to do, which was run right out in front of everyone. In a normal combat situation, that wouldn’t be a terrible idea. The problem was, he played his character like he was an idiot. Although he was not an idiot. Therefore, his character died. A lot. His character died so often, and was brought back by the party so often, that I decided that his god, Tempus, the Lord of Battle, gave him a “Frequent Die-ers Card” which granted every 10th death a free resurrection spell. This got a good laugh from the party, for obvious reasons.

His 10th death? The party saw a balor guarding the entrance to a cave that they needed to go into. For those that are unaware, these particular demons carry a very large great sword that has the ability to cut the head off of anyone that it crits on. The party began formulating a plan to take on the creature when the barbarian’s player tells me he just charges the balor. I look at him. I look at the party. I look back at him.

“Okay. He gets an opportunity attack against you. Also, since you are charging, you get a +2 to attack and a -2 to AC.” (Remember: 3rd Edition)

“That’s fine. I can waste him.”

The party proceeds to groan. I tell them I am rolling in the open for this one. The balor threatens a crit on a 19-20. The barbarian’s AC? 18. The balor’s bonus to hit stuff? +19. Therefore, according to 3rd Edition rules, If my first roll to hit him is a 19 or 20, as long as I don’t roll a 1 on a subsequent roll to confirm the critical, I automatically lob off his head. This is why the party is groaning.

I roll onto the table. It comes up: a NATURAL 20. People, I can’t make this up. I roll the second roll. 19. I describe as the barbarian screams a death cry, charging up to the balor. I also then describe the Baylor casually turning and flicking his sword at the barbarian whose head lops off and rolls back towards the party. Combat ensues.

Story 3:

The party has just finished defeating Hydra. One of the players, a wizard I believe, knows that parts of a Hydra are good for certain spell components. Therefore, the wizard starts digging into the Hydra for parts. One of the player’s character is very engrossed in the new magic items they had found. He fails his spot check to see the wizard preparing to prank him.

The real world, the player who is getting pranked has his nose in a book trying to look up the properties of a new magic item he acquired and wasn’t really paying attention.

After the wizard makes a crack about swimming in the hydra’s innards being like “warm spaghetti” (becoming a long-time running gag), he pops up over the side of the Hydra wearing its dead head on his own, rolling high to make a convincing hydra roar.

I ask the player who’s nose had been in a book to make another spot check. He looks up at me and rolls.

“Uhhh…what am I rolling for? I’m by the Hydra body, right?”

“You’ll see. Just roll.”

Heroes and gets a rather low roll. I describe how he sees movement out of the corner of his eye. He turns and looks and sees a hydra head coming over the edge of the body. I asked him what he does. He launches a dagger. A magical dagger. The wizard gets hit. Hilarity ensues, with the new phrase “Hey look guys, I’m a hydra!” entering our vernacular for years to come.

This was a great campaign, as I remember it, and I’m sad to say that I haven’t spoken to those guys in over a decade. And so it goes, I guess.

Well, I hope you enjoyed these DM stories! Until next time, dear readers!

Sunday Game: Rime of the Frost Maiden; Finding Sephek

The ranger, realizing that the creature in the water was a plesiosaurus, quaffed one of his potions of animal friendship and began speaking with it. It responded with a polite “Hello!”

After a short discussion, the party found that this talking plesiosaur was ensorcelled to become sentient by a druid who’s instructions were to terrorize the people of Bremen or else become a dumb creature once again. After some cajoling and convincing, the party managed to convince him that the effect of the spell was permanent and that he did not have to prey on the people of Bremen.

Finding that he did not have a name, the party decided to name him Bob, which he decided was a great name, not having had one before.

Bob towed them back towards Bremen and was asked to wait so they could introduce him to a new friend. Getting Tali, the half-elf whom the journal was for, the party introduced them, much to Tali’s pleasure.

Heading back to the inn, the party found that Sephek asked about them and checked out with the rest of the merchants he travelled with. The ranger attempted to track him, but lost the tracks on the edge of town.

Deciding to rest, the party stayed overnight, and left the next day, heading to Targos and hoping to find evidence of Sephek’s whereabouts.

Arriving in Targos, the party quickly located Torga and her retinue. They found that she and her crew were leaving in the morning.

To kill time, the party decided to partake in a local festival called Liar’s Night. The contest was one of a pumpkin carving contest, of which the monk won with a traditional jack-o’-lantern design. The ensuing chaos over the loss of a ring garnered everyone with a ring that, when worn, imbues the weather with a translucent mask in the design of their pumpkins.

The festivities concluded, the party decided to check out Torga and found that she was a most unsavory character, who engaged in extortion, blackmail, protect rackets, and even murder for hire. The party decided that she, too, should meet her end, and therefore would eliminate all of her retinue.

Setting up an ambush at the fork in the road, a blizzard fell upon the area. The dogsled teams of Torga came into view, led by Sephek himself! The party let loose with a heavy barrage of attacks.

The battle was hard fought, with the balance of advantage teetering one way then the next. After the fall of Torga, Sephek too was soon killed. The remaining four guards followed soon after.

After looting the bodies and disposing of the same, the party took the sleds and dogs, and headed towards Brynn Shander, selling them and splitting the loot.

Deciding not to stay long, the party set their sights onto Caer Dineval, the town on the way to Caer Konig, where they had a search for a missing husband.

Will they find him? What will happen along the way?

Join us next Monday, dear readers, to find out!

Tuesday Adventurers: Catch Up

The party realized that they still owed a favor to the Red Wizards, and were obligated to eliminate a mutual enemy: a fortress cabal of Red Wizard Exiles, survivors of the Red Wizard civil war.

The party found the crumbling fortress easy enough and decided to attack at night.

It was a hard-fought battle, fighting four separate wizards and multiple guards and nights, as well as a small horde of ghouls. One character fell no less than 5 times in battle!

The party fought against an apprentice and an illusionist with the guards at the start. Later, the ghouls joined the fight with a necromancer and an evoker. Before his escape, the necromancer told the evoker that he would hold the invaders off and to warn Khumed that their cabal had been compromised and attacked.

The party had no clue who Khumed was.

After the fight and after looking for more clues as to whom their enemy wad, a shooting star streaked across the sky right over their heads, and landing on the edge of the nearby river. Investigating the crater, the party found a most curious sight: a sort of manhole cover, open, and a man poking his head out. Water beginning to flood the crater, the curious man was helped exit the crater.

After using a helm of comprehend languages to bypass their language barrier, the man explained that he was from, not a different plane of existence, but a different world altogether. In point of fact, the man was an artificer from the continent of Khorvair on the world of Eberron.

The party, still confused at his origins, welcomed the new member of their band, who simply wished to document this, to him, strange, backwards, new world.

Heading back to Waterdeep, the party presented the heads of the renegade Red Wizards to the Red Wizard enclave in Waterdeep, thereby gaining the ability to travel to the elemental plane of fire where Connor was set to be.

The party found out that the tuning fork, which was a material component for the spell, was required to be attuned to a creature who was either a native or itself attuned to the plane of fire. The red wizard suggested hunting down a known red dragon in the hills near the Wyrm Forest, some 500-600 miles away.

The party prepared for their journey and headed south, Southeast. It was an uneventful trip, passing through Daggerford, and giving a wide berth to Dragonspire Castle.

After some extensive tracking, the party found the lair of the Red Dragon known as Ember.

What the party hoped for
What they actually found…

The party fawned over the rather large red dragon, an adult. The dragon fell for the party’s flattery and agreed to attune the tuning fork in exchange for a future favor at his calling. Three members of the party submitted themselves to a geas spell where they bound themselves to the dragon’s later whim.

The party travelled back towards Waterdeep, with members very wary of their new commitment, and what it means for them.

What lay in store for our intrepid band of heroes? Will they ever find Connor and retrieve the Nether Scrolls at the Old Owl Well?

Join us next week to see the continuation of our story!

Just a note, as we are in “Spook-tober” next week’s adventure (and likely throughout October) will be horror-based. Join us for our horror spooktactular extravaganza!

DM How To: Creating Adventure Hooks

So you know how to DM. And you know how to build an adventure. And you know how to build an encounter.

The next question, then, is this: how do you get those @#&$+%! players to jump into your awesome adventure filled with equally awesome encounters?

You give ’em a hook, a PLOT HOOK!!

So let’s go fishing.

There are basically only a few kinds of plot hooks: agnostic/general, background-based, story-based, and Deus Ex Machina.

AGNOSTIC/GENERAL

These plot hooks are the ones you may be most familiar with. These are the plot hooks that involve helping a random stranger, for riches and glory, etc… These ones only work if your players are the kind to do things for riches and glory, or out of the kindness of their hearts with no true promise of reward. Examples of this one would be a mysterious stranger approaching the party about an ancient legend of a dungeon guarding an ancient treasure, or the party coming across a strange house in the middle of nowhere. The possibilities here are endless, but many of them have been overdone and not too many players are willing to bite on these poorly baited plot hooks.

BACKGROUND BASED

These plot hugs require quite a bit more work on both your and the player’s parts. The player, out of necessity, should have a background on how and why they became adventurers and what they were doing beforehand. I’m not just talking about that character trait on their character sheet that gives them a proficiency and languages and maybe some gold. I’m talking at least a paragraph of backstory on why that character is the way they are. Using this, you can craft plot hooks that reel in a single player, who can turn to his party and ask for help. Some examples of this are the family farm is going to be overrun by orcs, or the players uncle is leaving the player a keep on his deathbed, or bandits have captured a character’s mentor. With a decent background, there are lots of possibilities here.

DEUS EX MACHINA

This sort of plot hook should be avoided, unless absolutely necessary. These kind of plot hooks involve someone or something of great power pushing the characters into action. An example of this would be a commandment to a divine caster from their deity, or a powerful NPC threatening the characters with total destruction unless they undertake the quest. These sort of plot hooks make players feel as if their characters are being railroaded.

STORY-BASED

These are easily some of the best plot hooks you can find. These are the sort of plot hooks you find in continuing campaigns. The plot hook from Adventure to Adventure revolves around something left undone or some new information that the characters get from a previous adventure. In this way, the characters are prodded on by their own willingness to be part of the story. Examples of this can be found in so many places and in so many pre-published adventures that they are too numerous to list. Practically, one technique that I use is keeping a sort of “quest log” for the party. I list out all unresolved story points that the players haven’t addressed, that I can later exploit for writing an adventure. A recent example, if you’re reading this blog, is the fact that the party is looking for a magic item salesman / wizard named Connor. Why are they looking for Connor? Because Connor has something the party needs that they previously sold to him by mistake. Therefore, the party is willing to undergo a number of tasks in order to get the information and ability to travel to Connor’s location. The party spent the better part of a month and a half simply trying to find where Connor was and gaining the ability to travel to his location. This doesn’t even include the adventures had along the way while they were traveling. an example of this would be the trip from Waterdeep to Memnon, the trip from Memnon to Calimport, the events that occurred there, and their trip back to Waterdeep. These were all story-based adventure hooks. With the party have willingly escorted the princess to Calimport from Memnon? Maybe, maybe not. but the fact that the party needed to get to Calimport anyways made their willingness to accept the plot hook all the easier. Many agnostic / general plot hooks can be made into story plot hooks.

So there you have it. Now you know how to get your players invested into your adventures.

Next week we’re going to talk about campaign building. If there are any other topics you would like me to cover, comment below.

Until tomorrow dear readers.

Tuesday Game: Curing the Beholder’s Mind and Mage Smackdown in the Desert

So I didn’t write during a week when we actually played. As a result, this blog post is going to be rather… long. Yes, it is technically an old recap, but nothing that happened tonight would make sense without it. So I will just catch you up.

For those interested, this takes place as a Part 2 to “Object of Desire” completing that adventure and moving on to Calimport. I am going to be less detailed than usual, so as to be able to catch you all up with where we are now…

So the party managed to help the beholder recover his mind with the potion recipe that they had discovered in the journal of the scribe. Come to find out the beholder was really a sultan who had been transformed by an evil wizard on account of him eloping with the wizard’s daughter. The evil wizard kidnapped his daughter and turned her into a crystal statue while having transformed the sultan into said beholder.

To beholder, having regime is mine, decided to ask the party to help him save his true love. The party agreed to do so. The party infiltrated the evil Wizard’s lair, rescued from enslaved commoners, rescued and enslaved efreeti, rescued a polymorphed apprentice (a talking monkey), stole his personal dining room furniture and decorations, defeated the evil wizard with the help of destroying the wizard’s power base, and with the help of the beholder/sultan helped save his beloved.

The party got back having freed both and restoring the sultan’s form, the party rescued princess Yasmin, and continued on their way to Calimport.

It was there that they discovered that Mhendi was living under the pseudonym of his Calimport crime syndicate name, who was found to have a shop in the slums. On the way, the paladin decided to become a saint by healing the sick and injured of the slums, being dubbed Saint Severn.

At some point during that entire business, the party had an attempted pickpocket whom they decided to take pity on and adopt. This would come to haunt them later.

Mhendi told them that he wanted, as a favor to help them find Connor, to eliminate a business rival of his. The name of the business rival: Artemis Entreri the master assassin. Mhendi’s primary goal was to ensure that Artemis would not be interfering in his business dealings so the party decided to try to pay off Artemis into leaving town for awhile. While trying to decide how to find Artemis, Artemis found them first. His issue with the party? They were softening his son whom he was wanting to live and grow up hard on the streets so that he could groom him into being his protege.

Image is the property of its owner, all rights reserved.

This devastated the spicy cleric, Whitlock, Who cried ugly tears trying to tell Kasim that they could not take him with after all because someone told them that they couldn’t. Kasim became very calm and reassured Whitlock that it was okay and that he would find that person and destroy them for what they did to destroy the life that he could have had.

The players, of course, realize the gravity of what just happened: Artemis’ sun will not grow up to be his protege, but instead grow to hate him and want to kill him. This may come back to haunt them one day.

Artemis agreed to being paid to leave town for a while, which was fortunate as he had a contract to complete in Waterdeep. Having concluded their business, they went back to Mhendi, where they were able to get the information they sought. Connor was on the plane of fire, likely in the City of Brass.

Deciding not to take the oceanic route back to Waterdeep, the party hired a mage to cast teleport on one of them while the rest stayed within the Bag of Lodging (think like a Leomund’s Tiny Hut crossed with a bag of holding).

Unfortunately, there was a mishap and the party ended up in Baldur’s Gate.

Deciding that travelling back to Waterdeep by boat is the best coarse of action, they sailed back.

Getting to Waterdeep, the party realized that they had another job to do, which was to eliminate the Red Wizard Exile fortress and find out what they would about it.

That’s about all I have in me for now.

Friday, since I am playing catch-up, I will finish the story of the assault on the Red Wizard Exile fortress, what they find out, and what they did last night!

Rime of the Frost Maiden (part 1)

Hello! I know, again, my posting schedule has previously been erratic. I posting schedule will be more consistent at this point, now that the new season has begun and things have settled down. I plan on posting some more pictures of other minis I did, as well as continuing my series on how to DM and how to paint minis. If there are any other subjects you want me to explore, please let me know in the comments below. With no further ado, here’s the story so far…

Our story begins with a party of four adventurers heading through the Spine of the World, all for varying reasons, and all with a secret…

Before anyone could do anything, a horrific avalanche was triggered and was falling towards them at a frightening speed. The party had nowhere to go. Looking up, they saw Snow White muskrat gesturing towards small fissure that they had previously missed due to the covering of ice and snow.

Following the small rodent, party found themselves sliding into a cave where a talking walrus, called Mother Tusk asked them for help in finding some snow otter scouts. She tells the party that, in exchange for their lives which she had just caused to be saved, she asked that the party check up on the otter, Spritzer, and his company of otters.

Our party is brave heroes consisted of: a half drow bard / warlock, a tabaxi rogue, a half-elf ranger, and a dragonborn sorceress. The Ranger, proficient in these sort of jobs, tracked down evidence of the otters passing. Unfortunately, there were also wolf prints following said otters.

Running ahead, the party came across a group of 12 otters being chased by a group of five wolves, one of which was as large as a horse. It was a dire wolf. Seeing the wolves jump down into large holes in the ground after the otters, the party jumped in after sliding down ice slides until they were dumped ceremoniously into a cavern filled with a foot of water and the five wolves snapping and chasing the poor otters.

The party engaged in a hard-fought fight, with several of their member coming close to dying, only to be saved by the sorceress who had access to healing magic.

The party, cold and wet, used oil from their packs to light the wolf carcasses on fire that they made warm up and dry out off their clothing before heading back.

Their way back was difficult due to a blizzard that hit but they prevailed and getting back to Mother Tusk. As a reward for saving her “children,” she had one of the chipmunks she cares for leave the party towards the road that would lead to the town of Brynn Shader. She also gave them some treasure, to include two scrolls of cure wounds.

Heading into town and towards the end, with nightfall, at an early 2:00 p.m. due to the perpetual winter of the area, the party was approached by an old female dwarf who requested assistance in tracking down and killing a serial killer. The party was also approached by a group of dwarves who requested assistance with tracking down a sled that they had to abandon due to a yeti attack. Lastly, the party heard rumors of some sort of lake monster plaguing the town of Bremen. Accepting both quests the party purchased mounts, winter axebeaks, and headed out to find the aforementioned sled.

The Ranger, still as capable of a tracker as any, found the tracks of small humanoids having taken the sled. Not soon after, the party found the sled being pulled by a number of goblins wearing snowshoes heading towards a large wagon that appeared to be pulled by two angry looking polar bears.

What will happen to the party? Will they succeed in recovering the sled from the goblins? Will the party locate the serial killer?

Only time will tell. Join us next week to see what happens!

More Prequel from Tuesday

The party headed off to Waterdeep in search of a scholar to translate the mysterious Netherese inscription.

Arriving in town, the party headed to the Yawning Portal to get a place to stay and a place to have as a home base. They got a large adventurers room to save on coin.

Heading into the North Ward, they found the shop door ajar and nobody home. The place appeared ransacked, although the coin box had been untouched, which was very odd. Looking around the street outside, the party decided to head to the general goods shop directly across the street to find out what was going on.

There, they got a lot of silence and not much cooperation, when suddenly everyone inside went silent, glass-eyed, and then attacked those of the party inside.

On the outside, one of their number spotted an elf with a rod topped with what looked like a small crown, who, upon being spotted, ran away. They joined in with the party and cast sleep on the lot, knocking some out, which brought them to their senses. Upon waking, nobody remembered what happened.

Remembering the rod and wanting to know what it was, they searched for a magic item shop to see what they could find, and discovered Connor’s Magical Goods. Connor was very reluctant to speak, asking over 500 gp to speak so that he could get out of town. The party decided, while questioning Connor, to trade their newly acquired rod of resurrection for a variety of lesser items for each of the party members. Connor left them the deed to the shop, packed his things and disappeared in a flash.

Just as the party were discussing how shady it was that nobody wanted to speak, and those that finally did mentioned a bald man with tattoos and armor with other bald men, a man in dark armor and a dark cloak walked into the shop demanding the scroll that he had paid for up front. Percell, the cleric/druid, handed him a rolled up blank piece of parchment telling him “Don’t open it up until you need it.” The man nodded and left.

The party then headed off back towards the Yawning Portal. Along the way, they were accosted by a man in a dark cloak who claimed to have somebody who could tell them more about what they were facing if they would but follow him down in alleyway. Doing so, they were ambushed by a number of thugs and cut throats. It was a hard fought battle, but the party came out on top. After searching pockets for loose change, on the leader they found a note that said that the party had been asking too many questions and that they were to be eliminated. It was signed Mhendi. Asking around town, they find out that this person is an elf who has begun a new criminal syndicate, supposedly rivaling the Xanathar Guild. Doing some searching and investigating, they found where Mendy keeps his office. Upon arriving, they are told that they were expected and are asked to step into his office. Walking in, they noticed that a fair portion of the objects in the office and the building, while looking expensive, are fakes and knockoffs. Seated behind a nice desk is an elf with a hottie look on his face, who is flanked by two large goliath warriors. Mhendi explains to them that he, himself, was under orders and that it was “just business.” He then put the ball in the player character’s court by asking them if they would rather fight or to calmly discuss their mutual problem. The players chose to talk.

The players found out that Mhendi was strong armed into doing what he had been doing by several members of the Red Wizards of Thay. He says that these are not official members of that organization, and are part of an offshoot. Claims to have been threatened by them into subservience, which he had no choice but to accept. he was unfortunately unable to tell them how to contact them or where to find them but pointed them towards a halfling posing as a child urgent that hangs out elsewhere in the Dock Ward, pleasing people of their gold. He says her name is Tilna.

The druid/cleric of the group asked about the rod, which Mhendi says that he still has and will not give up. The druid/cleric told him that he would one day have a reckoning.

Heading elsewhere in the Dock Ward, they found where Tilna hung out. Approaching her, the party attempted to keep her from running, at which point she threw sand in the druid / clerics eyes, while attempting to flee (“pocket sand!”).

Using his ever useful entangle spell, as well as a hold person spell, the party subdued her. With her, they found out the same information that they had before: tall, bald, and tattooed men threatened her into complying. She knew exactly where they hung out and could even tell them where the drop point was for information that she came across. She wanted 50 gold to be able to disappear. The party, tired of having to bribe people, refused. The party then left, but not before unwittingly being pickpocketed by Tilna. Tilda managed to get a hold of only one object: the druid / cleric’s bag of holding, which held almost all of his worldly possessions, to include the inscription that they had originally come to Waterdeep to translate.

After they realized that they had been pickpocketed, the party went to go find her. After many castings of locate person, they discovered that she was somewhere in the sewers.

Well, that’s all I have time for today. Tune in next time to discover more on this prequel on how the party got where they are.

Monthly Group: Birthday One-Shot

In honor of the birthday of one of our number, our group changed it up and one of the players DM while the rest played.

The Adventure Cover

Having adventure together for quite a while, The adventuring party decided it was time for a break and a vacation. Deciding to head for the coast, we ignored multiple calls to adventure knowing that we had been spread too thin.

Hopping from town to town, inn to tavern, we arrived out of town on our map along the way. This town was supposed to be the beginning of our vacation. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the town was empty.

Wandering through, the fighter, and leader of the band, Torbek, had someone go take care of the emaciated horses that had been tied for who knows how long to the post outside of the inn.

At the center of town however was a large circus tent. The party went to investigate.

Inside the tent the party heard the sounds of whimpering, as if from a small child. Drawing their weapons, the party went in and found nothing but a wagon with a small child whimpering outside. The small child described how everyone in town went into the wagon and how nobody had come out.

Something was obviously wrong here. Especially considering that wagon was not big enough for a town full of people.

Investigating the wagon on the party walked inside of it and found some magic items, particularly that of a ring of featherfall which the fighter took. Additionally were some disguise kits and other such sundries. The oddest thing, however, was the open wardrobe which contains stairs going and possibly downward and away from the wagon. Drawing their weapons, the party went into the unknown.

The party soon came across a room with a faceless person. We were asked each to sit in a chair and were asked each to be subject to this faceless person and doing some sort of enchantment. It appeared that if failed to resist the enchantment, we would believe our wildest dreams were in the next room whereas if we resisted the charm, we would be uttered into a different room. The two half-orc brothers, the fighter being one of them, and the human warlock, all “failed” the enchantment. The others were dropped into a room of darkness.

Those I should into the next room found themselves inside of a room with a strange and sadistic man yielding chains with hooks pulling the souls out of people. Deciding that this was a terrible thing, the fighter charged with his halberd, severely wounding the grotesque man with chains. The man fled through a strange door that appeared like a clown’s visage. Looking at the room, the fighter saw that this grotesque man had been storing these souls and bottles. The fighter began freeing these souls hoping that they find their way to a final rest of some sort.

Meanwhile, the other group found themselves in a hall of mirrors. This hall did not merely show the reflections, but showed the reflections of what might have been. Single, crucial forks in the lives of those reflected and what their life may have looked like had they chosen a different path. The Ranger was so disturbed by the visage presented to her, that she shattered panel of glass mirror that she was presented with.

Those back in the soul room continued onwards finding themselves also in the hall of mirrors. The fighter, though, sorry most disturbing sight: him carrying the dead body of his brother. He instinctively knew that this was the result of a decision in his past enabling him to not get to his brother in time to save him. In a moment of pain, the fighter dropped his halberd and put his hand to the mirror at which point he was sucked in! Out of the mirror came a different fighter. He was cold, jaded, and it perpetually angry. Angry with himself over the loss of his brother, having made different life choices that led to that moment. he did not know his companions, for in his experience he never met them. Having been explained what was going on, however, the fighter picked up the fallen halberd and trudged on with the body of his brother, swearing to get revenge on the woman whose carnival this was.

The next room was curious indeed with a being who appeared to be an amalgamation of each member of the party! This being was seated in a chair in a center of an otherwise black room. This being told us that we each must give up a memory to proceed, gaining a different memory in exchange, as well as the ability to proceed onward. Each gave up something, the fighter giving up the memory of how his brother died.

Being allowed to proceed on work, the party found themselves in a disturbing room: arriving massive tentacles was tormenting people in two separate cages, plucking a limb off of one of them and replacing it with a tentacle from their own person.

The fighter left at the tentacled mass, severing several of its tentacles in the process. The bard polymorphed the tentacle mass into a chicken. Taking the key from the chicken, the fighter unlocked the cages freeing the poor villagers that had been trapped within. severing the tentacle from the poor woman and healing her wound, the party proceeded onwards, promising to lead the villagers to safety.

The next room was disturbingly calm, as it was nothing more than a bedroom. This was likely the bedroom of the infamous Tasha for whom this carnival was named. Taking a rest, the party contemplated what horrors would lay and wait further inside this madhouse.

Will the party find their way out? Will they find this Tasha? Will they save the townsfolk?

Stay tuned for next month when we find out!

Sunday League: What the Devil?

The party continued through the dwarven tomb, easily handling the flying crystalline battle axes. They eventually came to the actual tomb, and were mentally accosted by an Entity known as Abidos, who promised help in exchange for its freedom. The party declined, and figured out the puzzle, with the (believed to be) demon trapped in the enchanted pillars.

The dwarven barbarian took the loot, consisting of a shield with the symbol of Dumathoin (a dwarven deity) that was a sentinel shield as well as an adamantine war pick.

The party continued back along their original route, eventually finding a portal. They used the stone key they had found previously (or rather, given in exchange for a task being completed), and passed through, finding themselves in an underground swamp.

Continuing forward, the party ran into a trio of bullywugs that immediately retreated east. The party followed and became acquainted with the leader of the frog-like bullywugs, who spoke entirely in thieve’s cant, asking who they were and what they wanted. Answering that they were just passing through, and being a large, well-armed and armored group, the bullywugs offered to point them to the way to the next level down.

Enjoying the prospect of not having to fight their way through a bunch of bullywugs, the party agreed to pass through.

The party continued through, down a long passage, reaching level 9 of the dungeon.

Soon after arriving, they were approached by an older man with wild gray hair and gray robes. The man looked identical to a portrait they assumed to previously was Hallaster, the infamous Mad Mage, who greeted them warmly and offered any arcane spellcasters the option of studying in their school.

They declined, wishing to continue looking for treasure. Hallaster agreed to let them pass through on the condition that they either provide a single magic item apiece, or deal with a bone devil that was bothersome to their school.

Being who they are, the party chose the latter.

The party was led that direction, and walked into the area with the bone devil. They attempted to make contact and find out if they could deal with it. Finding that is a reasonable fiend, the cleric offered to banish it back to the Nine Hells. Drawing up a contract, which the cleric signed, the bone devil was banished back where it came from.

Additionally, after dealing with the phone devil they found another portal leading further into Undermountain.

Speaking to Hallaster, they left through the portal.

Where did they end up? What is going to happen to them? Will they survive this far in the dungeon?

Until next week…

Tuesday Game: Object of Desire

I was exhausted coming home last night from my normal game so I didn’t write this until today. Sue me.

So the when I last ended, the party were slaves and were heading for the slave market.

Unfortunately, I had decided that I shouldn’t have done that and was considering a Deus Ex Machina.

Mood.

To add insult to injury, I had 4 players who were unable to come for various reasons: my earth genasai barbarian can’t come any longer due to work/new home distance, the monk was out of town, as was the Pally/Warlock, and Bubby, the kobold wizard had a rough day at work and needed to take the night off.

Oof. BIG oof.

Again, mood.

That said, another table had most of his table not show. This table is DM’d by the same guy who plays/played Moe, the tabaxi swashbuckler.

I make a proposition: take who you have and bring them to my table. Agreements were made all around, for Moe’s player and the two from his table that showed up. Then, we had the new guy from Sunday’s game (the one playing the half-orc barbarian/paladin, remember him?) playing a wrestler-type character, show up as well. With the three from my original table (the paladin, the bloodhunter/sorcerer, and the warlock/cleric), we had a nice, full table.

I thought to myself: think, Daily DM! You’ve improved worse! How do you get them out of slavery while at the same time incorporating the new members?!

Then it came to me: I have the perfect filler adventure!!

I was a huge reader, back in the day, of the Dungeon Magazines. HUGE fan. Ready made adventures, with the occasional adventure path that formed a mini- or full campaign. WONDERFUL resource for DMs. I had to go searching for it, but I found it: The Object of Desire by Gary O’Connell and Lucya Szzachnowski (if you are interested, it’s in issue #50).

So, here’s how it went:

The three new folks were in the employ of the sultan of Memnon. He, in the story of the adventure, needed adventurers to escort his niece to Calimport to marry her beloved, a prince (Nice story so far, right?). Needing more people to fill out the escort, the three were tasked with going to the slave market and offering freedom to a group of adventurers it was rumored that came in with a rumored pirate ship that doubled as a slaver ship. The pirate ship would be, in turn, captured and the crew enslaved for engaging in piracy, and their gear returned to them. In return for their freedom, they would only need to agree to escort the princess Yasmin to her beloved out in Calimport.

Knowing that they were heading that way anyhow, the party agreed. Yes, I know that this may seem…lazy. And, to be frank, it was. I had not had the time to campaign plan and I really didn’t want to do the whole “Yeah, the last week was a dream…yeah, that’s right. You wake up and everything that happened with the slaver ship never happened.” THAT, my dear readers, is lazy. Like…too lazy.

ANYHOW

The party began the voyage. Moe, the swashbuckler, was a pirate and helped with the ship, as had one of his players that was playing at my table. After a day of sailing, the ship was attacked by a giant sea snake, which the party handily defeated and whom also chose to skin and fillet.

After dealing with the constant whining from the vizier who was the chaperone of the princess (as well as the cousin of the sultan), his egotistical and insufferable attitude, and belittling treatment of everyone, the party was attacked by a large force of four-armed gargoyles.

In the midst of battle, one party member saw a flash under the door of the princess’s cabin, and a tiny ball of scintillating light float away towards the coastline. Finishing off the gargoyles, the party set out in the 8-person dinghy towards the shore, finding a beach and 5 caves. The party left the man-sized crabs they found on the beach alone (although the wrestler-esque character wanted to eat crab) and proceeded into the dark caves where they were attacked by three ghouls, which the paladin dispatched quite easily with his glaive.

Finding a chest with treasures (and splitting said treasures which included a ring of truthtelling, an enchanted ring that gives advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks to detect someone lying to you), as well as stairs going up, the party continued onward towards the stairs which led to a small room and then up to a narrow ravine, with more rough-hewn stairs, eventually overlooking the lagoon where the ship was left. Looking back to the deck, they saw that the vizier was having his things moved to the princess’s cabin. Jerk.

The party looked around, and in the distance, further inland across much sand (about 3-4 miles away) was a large structure with two towers. Heading there, the party figured that was the only clue as to where the princess might be.

Upon arriving, they walk through the ruins, just rubble now, of small walls, previously of what was at least a small town, and more likely a larger city. They come to the qal’at, with a stone wall all around and the following inscription above the entrance:

Let it be known that this qal’at and the court of Sultan Firouz al-Algarin are cursed by the wizard Nazir al-Azrad, whose anger is mighty and whose vengeance is eternal.

Sounds…foreboding. One of the party remembered the story of how, a long time ago, a sultan married the daughter of a crazy wizard, who came on their wedding day and turned him into a hideous monster, while fleeing to parts unknown with his daughter, for flaunting his wishes and spiriting her away in the first place. Legend has it that he placed a curse even upon his own daughter for her betrayal.

Upon entering into the courtyard, they see a dried fountain (which they avoid) and several statues in various poses on their left. Checking out the statues, they find that they are the petrified remains of adventurers that apparently came to this place and turned to stone. The erosion was so bad, however, that they would not be able to be saved. Looking around the base, the party found a dropped item, called a staff of striking which the wrestler took.

Wandering into the palace itself, they saw a curious sight: A beholder laying on a stack of silken cushions, with a beautiful woman attending to it, with the princess in a gilded cage.

Image was taken from the magazine adventure. All rights reserved and are the property of Dungeon Magazine and Paizo Publishing.

Upon watching, the woman is told that her beauty doesn’t please the beholder any longer, and is turned to stone, while being told that the princess would be his bride!

Before the party can rush in to stop this, a ghost appears, bearing the resemblance of a slight man with a bookish look to him, beckoning them not to attack and waving them on towards one of the stair cases.

Following him there, the party finds the study of the now long-deceased royal librarian and scribe. Looking at his desk, they find a curious account…

Image was taken from the magazine adventure. All rights reserved and are the property of Dungeon Magazine and Paizo Publishing.

Oof again.

Using dust made from crushing some of the warlock/cleric’s candy, they found they could sprinkle it in the scratch marks the pen had made, regardless of the ink spilled on the page, and found that they needed a pearl from the cleric that was to marry them (supposedly killed by Nazir during the wedding), a golden cup, and the purest water. The pearl would dissolve in the cup with the prayer uttered in the chapel, and if given to the cursed sultan.

After gathering the cup and finding an elaborate silken wedding dress, we ended for the night.

I hope you all stick around for next week when we conclude this adventure and continue with the search for Mhendi in Calimport!