How To DM: Fighting on the Fly

This week’s How-To post is by my good friend yourdorkmaterials

So. You’ve meticulously planned your big boss fight, carefully balanced your CR’s and come up with cool, integral roles tailored beautifully for each player. It’s going to be epic! Aaaaannnd…two players can’t show. Or the wizard goes down early. Or what was supposed to be a running battle turns into a stubborn slug-fest to the death. 

We’ve all had this happen, and – for me – it’s one of the most challenging aspects of DMing to deal with. 

So let’s talk about tips on how to adjust our combat encounters on the fly in this week’s How To DM!

Manage the Damage: I use the average damage provided in the stat blocks for big fights. It dramatically speeds up combat and lets me manage how much damage I’m putting out each round (especially critical hit damage.)

Build a Weak Wave: Build a wave of weaker enemies to shave off some of those Moon Druid/Bear Barbarian hit points. Those players tend to be overly confident (for good reason) and tend to be less worried about combat initially. I might plan on a weak wave reducing their HP by 30%. Once they reach that total, you can always have them “fail a morale check” and retreat. Need some more damage? Bring them in as reinforcements or have them rally.

PCs Don’t Have to Know the Roll: I roll everything openly at my table. I always hated it when I figured out the DM was letting up to save us. They don’t have to know what those extra rolls are for; and they make players more nervous as the combat wears on. For example, if they’re fighting something that has a chance to give them a disease, I make those saves for them without telling them specifically what they’re for. Players tend to get really nervous, really quick when they’re making “mystery saves”. I find it makes them invest more in the fight.

Take ‘Em Alive: Let enemies grapple. If you’re using optional combat rules from the DMD (which I do), let your enemies trip them, shove them prone, or disarm them. This gives you “attacks” to use that don’t necessarily cause damage. I always bring this up in Session 0 and ultimately allow the players to decide which optional rules they want to include, but – anything they can do, their enemies can do!

Give Them Their Clues: If your Big Bad Evils fly, maybe foreshadow that a bit. One time, I had a flying enemy swoop in, fail a grapple check, and fly off before the player really knew what was happening. He was more than a little freaked out. If they need to use fire to stop the enemy from regenerating, find a way to give subtle hints about that weakness (and then make sure they have a way of using that information in case the wizards/sorcerers are down or absent).

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!

The Haunt 2 (Part 2)

DISCLAIMER: LIKE THE PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT WARNED, THIS ADVENTURE IS GRAPHIC AND CONTAINS POSSIBLE TRIGGERS.

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!

The party engaged the Oblex, for that is what it was that took the form of an Astral Deva, with it temporarily stealing the memories of the spicy cleric!

After a short battle, the Oblex lay defeated and the party stood, victorious. It was then they decided to take a short rest. That was, until…

The Evil Doll was heard running to and fro in the hallway, seen at the last minute by Iul, the party wizard, as it ran across the ceiling in the hall!

After a short fight, with the Doll escaping, the party rested. Seeing a double door exiting the room to the south, the party declined heading back into the hallway, and elected the south exit.

Opening the door, Iul was presented with an evil aura of negative energy and 6 human-sized maggots of a fiendish nature. The gnome mage quickly shut the door with an audible “Nope.”

Opening the door after a better attack plan, Iul cast a fire-based line spell, hitting three of the creatures, killing them instantly.

Quickly, the blood hunter and monk entered, attacking the last three and being affected by some sort of energy emanating from that section of the hall.

The battle won, the party entered the hall, finding yet another one of the infamous drawings. This one was of the mother being found dead in a tub of water, her wrists cut.

There remained one door. THE door. The one with one of the nurse-creatures, and 14 of the demonic aberrant creatures seen from above before.

The paladin/blackguard rushed in, using a frightening aura ability, causing the room (except for the nurse-like creature) to become frightened, preventing their advancement. The “nurse” attacked, putting up a decent fight, but falling under the onslaught of the paladin’s withering two-handed sword attacks.

After a fireball from Iul, the room was cleared. Inside, the party found the 5th of the drawings, with the accompanying vision.

This time, it was of little Carol Anne, hooked up to various tools and whose consciousness was being placed in, you guessed it, the Evil Doll, killing her in the process.

This would be the end, except the ground began shaking and the building and rooms seem to be reconstituting themselves! The party resolved to quickly exit the building.

Trying to head upstairs, the party reached the stairs only to have them turn into a slick ramp, slick with ectoplasm and blood. It was a hard climb, but with Loris the Artificer’s rope of climbing the physically frail party members were able to overcome the ramp.

Getting to the top, the party realized that the ground floor of the hospital had totally reconstituted to its original form. They attempted to leave, only to find the windows and doors unable to be opened. Then they heard a howl and a scream:

What should appear, but the bloody little brother of the Evil Doll/Carol Anne. The battle was coming to a head when the Evil Doll screeched and launched herself at the party, stabbing and dodging and shadow stepping all over the room.

The cleric/warlock, getting an idea, pulled out the drawings she’d been collecting, and fumbled, sending them all over the room. Between the magic missiles from Iul, and fire bolts from the artificer, the drawings were destroyed sending the Evil Doll into a rage and causing her to retreat.

Wasting no more time, the party beat feet out of the building only to watch it crumble.

Silence fell.

Until…

SHE RETURNED!!! Bursting from the rubble, the Evil Doll launched herself once again at the party!

She screamed at the party: “YOU RUINED EVERYTHING! YOU RUINED MY DRAWINGS! So… NOW YOU DIE!”

The fight was hard fought, but the party was victorious, the monk landing the final blow, and the Evil Doll falling, seemingly once and for all, unmoving.

The party was then greeted with the following ending:

As the dawn begins to lighten the early morning sky, the stormy rain squalls cease. The Evil Doll lays on the sodden ground, unmoving. As the first rays of sunlight hit the empty shell of a body, the porcelain skin, ragged hair, and blood stained dress begin to wither and blacken to flecks of charcoal. A moment passes and the Evil Doll quickly break into a small pile of ash that washes away
into the morning puddles. The day is new, and the goodness of light somehow returns to this once forsaken place. You know that this may not last long, however, but for now the world is a better
place.

Thanks for your reading and until next time, dear readers!

Miniature Painting Spotlight: Finally!

So, dear readers, I finally got some painting done. Of course, some of that painting was done today, thus my late post.

This isn’t going to be a long post, but it will have some cool things I’ve been working on.

First, another dear restoration project.

Finally done!

Next is a Wizard of Thay that I am working on for my Tuesday game (Shhhh… don’t tell them!)

Note that both of these miniatures are, in fact, metal and end up looking a tad different than the plastic or resin miniatures.

Speaking of, here’s the tiefling that I’ve been working on.

As you can see, I have the coat pretty much done. I wanted to the inside of his lapels a different color, gold or copper. Not sure yet.

Next week I will be featuring a couple of miniatures painted by a friend of mine. I don’t make any claims about being an expert painter, although I take pride in my work and think I do a fairly good job. After all, I have had a few people have me do commissions for them. But this guy? This guy makes my work look like garbage! Not going to lie, I’m kind of jealous and have asked him to teach me his ways. Once I have learned them, I will, in turn, teach you all that I have. Sharing is caring and all that.

Until next time, dear readers, keep painting and keep playing!

Feel free to link a picture of your miniature that you’ve been working on in the comments!

Sunday Highlights: Assault on Caer Dineval

It just came to my attention that I mis-scheduled this post today, so it’s late. That said, here it is:

We last left our intrepid band of heroes in Targos, having just disposed of Sephek and Torga, had headed off to Bryn Shander to sell loot and gear up for their next task: going to Caer Dineval to check up on Cora the innkeeper’s (The Buried Treasure in Bremen) son, on their way up to Kelvin’s Cairn to rescue the husband (Garret) of the scrimshander (Keegan) in Targos.

The party arrived in Caer Dineval, not sure where to begin. Deciding that, since the inn had been out of business for the better part of two years, that the Uphill Climb Tavern would be their best bet.

The innkeeper, named Roark, told them that he had no rooms to let, but that they may be able to get lodging up at the Caer (the keep) further up the road in town.

After a short discussion, the party headed up the road.

The uninviting and squat keep stood further up on the hill, overlooking the bay. Walking up to the portcullis, they heard a shout from above asking their business. When the party stated their wish to see the Speaker, they were turned away, saying that he was too ill to be seen. When they said that they had a healer with them, the inhabitants balked, yelling about “heathen remedies.”

Deciding that something was definitely amiss, the party pretended to leave and walked around the east side of the keep, and with the Monk’s shape water ability, they walked up a set of snowy stairs to the battlements above. Seeing nobody in the courtyard, and a tower to their immediate north and south, they decided to enter into the south tower, where they were attacked by barely-competent men and women wearing robes and wielding scimitars and wearing a strange crystal around their necks!

The battle raged, and were soon joined by similarly dressed people coming from the north tower, and then from the stairs in the south tower, as well as the south west tower, and an additional force of two spellcasters from the northwest towers (the party holding the line in and by the southeast tower), with the fallen turning to solid ice statues. After a relatively easy battle between the groups, the party stood, triumphant, with a captured prisoner: Huarwar, the wayward son of Cora the innkeeper. Binding and gagging him, the party knocked him unconscious and left him in a pile of boxes to be retrieved later on.

Entering into the courtyard, the party made a plan to enter the main keep, which they did in short order, meeting a young servant girl, who seemed reluctant to help for fear of someone by the name of Kadroth and Avarice, both tieflings, with Avarice being albino. They asked her to point the way to Kadroth, which she did, and point out where the speaker was being held.

The party went first to Kadroth’s office, running into another of the robed men, whom they dispatched with no difficulty (and who also turned into an ice statue), but not before he alerted Kadroth of their presence. Kadroth came out of his appropriated office, only to be seen wearing the infamous necklace, and was cut down. Kadroth, curiously, did not turn into a statue, although he wore the same crystal.

Kadroth

Heading up to the room where the Speaker was being held, they burst into the room to find the Speaker on the chamber pot, and his jailer standing watch over the room. The party eliminated the guard, and let the Speaker finish his…business…before asking him about his captors. Finding out that the cult members (for that was what they were) were of Levistus, one of the Dukes of the Nine Hells, and were holding several of his servants hostage down in the cistern. Additionally, they heard of a n old soothsayer inside that may also be part of the cult.

Finding out this, the party headed downstairs and into the trap door into the cistern. Not finding much, they found a small alcove where they found a shrine to Levistus. Heading to an adjacent room, the party found an albino tiefling studying over some books, who told them simply, without looking up “Get out. Now.”

The party ignored her and engaged her in conversation. Apparently glad to have Kadroth eliminated, she attempted to make a deal with the party to help her find the Lost Netherese City of Ythryn in exchange for a share of the treasure found there. The party declined, asking her what reason they shouldn’t kill her and just take everything they find, where she turned around holding a staff of frost aimed at them.

Both sides, deciding to cut their losses, the party made her give her word that she would not return to Caer Dineval, although she refused to agree to leaving Ten Towns. The party allowed her to leave, having no more use of Caer Dineval with her cult-members having been decimated.

After rescuing the cold and hungry servants, the party went off to find the soothsayer, who greeted them, knowing her own life was coming to an end, knowing her fate in the Nine Hells, and yet wanting another group to succeed. She spoke of one named Xardorok Sunblight, a duergar warlord, who was preparing some sort of terrible fate for the people of Ten Towns. After giving them the information, she died, and that of old age.

The Cult Soothsayer

Not knowing what she was talking about, the party informed the Speaker of the success of their winning his freedom, and prepared to leave.

Miniature Painting Spotlight: 10/25/2020

Hello, dear readers. Today’s miniature painting spotlight is brought to you by “Unfinished Works”. Unfinished works, were all I’ve done is prime some stuff and paint little else.

In all seriousness I started painting again, but realized a lot of what I needed to paint needed priming first. Remember when I told you that Dungeons & Dragons miniatures aren’t the only thing I paint? Well guess what, I’ve got some inclusions there.

First in our list is Xanathar. I’ve been trying to get this stupid miniature primed for some time now. Unfortunately, I keep finding places where I’ve missed priming. But on a larger mini, I’m not totally surprised about this. I’ll get him all primed before I truly start on him. The biggest problem, as I’ve told you before, is having to paint the inside of his mouth before I could glue on his lips and teeth. Well, I got that done and glued on his lips and teeth. Additionally, I have painted and assembled the base to his miniature.

I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.

Here he is, just sitting on top of his stand:

As you may be able to tell, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, I used liquid green stuff to fill in the gaps around his lips. It’s a little messy, but I got the spots filled in.

Next on our list is one of my restoration projects. You may remember her.

Well, I had a harder time than I had previously thought I would in finding the specific type of green that matches her cloak. It took me two tries but I did get it and I’ve started to restore the back where it was particularly chipped. The staff is already looking very good.

Ashley of our D&D miniatures, is a tiefling warlock that I began. Mostly, I painted his chest hands and tail. He is, of course, largely unfinished, but that won’t last the week.

Lastly, is my attempt at painting my battle tech miniatures of course, they are all plastic and need primer. That’s perfectly fine, but there are a lot of nooks, crannies, and crevices. they send it up being a much more daunting task than I expected, and will likely be using spray primer next time. Priming these things by hand has become the bane of my existence. Thankfully, I’m doing my learning on the two miniatures that came with the starter set. They will likely just augment my normal neck forces so it’s not too big of a deal. That said, I sat next to it and unpainted/primed miniature so that you can see the difference between prime and unprimed in the greys.

If you can’t tell, The one on the left is the one that has been primed. You may be able to notice all the crevices that are still the same color as the one on the right. Part of the problem, was that I didn’t follow my own advice. I forgot to wash the mini before I painted. It’s an important step, but even people who have an idea of what they’re doing can screw up and skip a step once in awhile.

Well, that’s what I got this week. I know you may have wished for more, but so did I. Next week I should have the tiefling done, and my restoration projects completed.

Until next time, dear readers.

DM Stories: My Discord Group and Clarshh’s Sepulchre, a.k.a. How Elren Befriended “Benjamin”

I have a wonderful Discord group that meets (now) on Sunday evenings after I get back from Adventurers League. A big thanks to @Momo (Claa P. Trap), @Bisharp (Elren), @DoctorIcky (Momon), @Lurker (Vin Smoke), and @Legion (Calla), you guys are absolutely awesome. Claa and Calla do not appear in this story as they came in later.

The group began in a small town (in a homebrew world), getting recruited by an Arcane, a blue giant that specialized in magic and magical items. Their job: be caravan guards and delve into a lost sepulchre of a deceased cult leader to acquire a cube of force that Sereen (the name of the Arcane) already had a buyer for.

Sereen was a weird dude…

Once the party arrived at the small abandoned hamlet where the entraunce to the tomb was supposed to lay, the party got to work looking for the items that the clues pointed to.

The party investigated around the town. They found some monsters, destroyed them, and found some answers to some of the clues. All good. All ordinary.

Cool puzzle solving part of this adventure

Until the bathhouse. That stupid bathhouse.

So, there I was, describing this, and I ask for a Wisdom (Perception) check. This was to see if anyone noticed the spider caught in the furthest ceramic tub.

Elren (played by @bisharp, one of the very first players I recruited for this campaign, if not the first; thanks buddy!), saw it. Being a wood elf, he has an… affinity for nature. Sure, he was a monk, but still, a wood elf.

The aasimar rogue (@Lurker) and the wizard (@DoctorIcky) said to kill it with fire and the bathhouse with it.

What was it, you ask?

Well, what I thought I described was:

Picture is property of owner’s. All rights reserved.

But Elren said something to the effect of, “Oh, leave him be. You’re scaring him.”

I asked @bisharp to roll a Wisdom (Handle Animal) and set the DC stupid high for a group of level ones.

It’s at this time I should mention a house/table rule of mine: A roll of a Nat 1, regardless of anything else, ALWAYS fails, and usually (okay, almost always) results in something bad happening, while a roll of a Nat 20, regardless of anything, is ALWAYS a success, with something awesome happening. It is my belief that anyone, regardless of skill, can mess something up or do something awesome by blind luck/misfortune.

Can you guess what that elf rolled?

No?

A NATURAL STUPID 20.

Remember how I described it?

This is what it turned into:

Image belongs to Lucas the Spider. All rights reserved.

And Elren named him Benjamin.

Oooooooooooof course he did.

Of note, later, when the party was in an escapable deathtrap, with a ceiling slowly falling (and partly due to the player being bad at puzzles) yells, “Run Benjamin! Save yourself!!!” The party was thrilled at that one.

But, Benjamin had won over their hearts. Especially when he pulled a…

Image from “Home Alone,” and property of its owner. All rights reserved.

…and saved the party. Go team Benjamin, and go Exploding Rats Party (the name of their band)!

Until next time, dear readers…

How to DM: Creating Memorable Villains

What do you think of when you hear names like, Cruella DeVille, Melificent, Jafar, Scar (other than I can only seem to think of things Disney rolled out…)? They are memorable villains! Who can forget how awesome that fight between Prince Philip and Melificent was when she turned into a dragon? Who can forget the epic fight between an all-powerful sorcerer and a simple rogue? Who, in their right mind, can forget the voice of Jeremy Iron as Scar, his claws in that of Mufasa, leaning in and saying “Long live the king…” while throwing Mufasa to his death?!

What was it about these horrible people that made them so memorable? They had depth and motive. Melificent was evil, but wronged for not being invited to the party for baby Aurora. Jafar was eager to take power over the sultan and take the throne for himself. Scar was similarly motivated, but desired the rulership of the Pridelands to be the ultimate revenge for his brother taking what he believed to be his birthright.

So, how do you build these villains?

Remember how we were building the adventure? Let’s go back there. Let’s say that our adventure is exploring a dungeon with a long buried treasure. Of course there’s going to be plenty of monster encounters, traps, puzzles, etc…You’re an expert now in building encounters, right? Right! But what’s guarding the final treasure room?

This encounter is what is commonly referred to as a BBEG: Big Bad Evil Guy. Of course it doesn’t have to be a guy, but this is the term generally used. The BBEG is the “final boss” of the adventure. In our adventure, depending on the level of the party, it could be as simple as a mummy, or maybe as dangerous as a lich or demilich! The sky’s the limit on this.

One of my favorite movies is The Incredibles. The final villain in the first movie is absolutely awesome, if you think about it. It’s a kid who felt wronged and hurt, who turned that hurt into anger and revenge. His whole goal was to eliminate Mr. Incredible. Also, if you look at it, Mr. Incredible was responsible for creating Syndrome!

Let’s dissect this further. Syndrome obviously had an intimate relationship with Mirage, who turned on him when Mr. Incredible threatened to kill her during his capture. This shows the ruthlessness of Syndrome even in his personal relationships when it comes to his revenge plans. Further, you can see how Syndrome, although he makes the occasional blunder (like making the robot AI too smart), he shows himself to be an insanely smart villain. He planned and executed the death of several of the super heroes. He lured Mr. Incredible to his capture. His technology sales created a mass fortune, enough that he purchased an island, built a huge and elaborate base, and had a personal army/security force at his beck and call.

Then there are his flaws: he believed his plan unstoppable. He monologues enough to nearly be defeated by Mr. Incredible. His arrogance at his belief that his technology was enough to do what superheroes could do. These are all flaws, and some of them fatal.

There’s another school of thought on villains. That of the good guy who is following a path because he truly believes what he is doing is right. I’m not talking about that evil witch “Professor” Umbridge of the Harry Potter universe. She was absolute evil incarnate, and frankly, worse of a villain than that of Voldemort. Fight me if you think I’m wrong. No, I’m talking about those antagonists that believe whose goals are directly opposed to that of the protagonist, but who, themselves, are not “bad guys.” These are awesome and memorable antagonists, because it combines the need to ensure the party’s goals, with the moral and ethical dilemma of defeating a good person. Why are their goals different? Who knows. Maybe it’s a Boromir situation, in which they are taunted by the magical artifact.

Sometimes, and this is a great adventure and even campaign plot, the party are inadvertently the bad guys! One of my favorite episodes of Puffin Forrest involves the party working for a mysterious person, who has tasked them with finding some magic crystals. The only problem? This figure was the BBEG, and the party was inadvertantly putting together his ability to rise to power again!

Then there is this story (beware, wall of text):

I know it’s a little blurry, but hopefully you get the idea. Sometimes the BBEG can be the best good guy.

Personally, I love these kinds of BBEG. The ones you think, “Hmm, I think he has a point…”

When I play video games, especially the ones like Mass Effect or Fable, or even the Fallout series, when I play an evil character, they always have a single virtue (conversely my good characters have a flaw; for example, my good character had a wife in every town, where my evil character was faithful to his wife: Lady Grey). This helps give more depth to the villain.

The other thing I give my villains is a memorable “voice.” Maybe it’s an accent or way of speaking when I, as the DM, speak for him. Maybe he’s got the accent of a Bond Villain. Maybe he’s more “Dr. Evil.” Whatever the case, make your villain’s dialogue unique.

One Villain, the Emperor from my (in)famous pirate campaign was voiced by the player who played him. Beforehand, however, we discussed his cadence, his speech pattern, all of these things when he unmasked himself as the primary villain of the campaign (sort of). Great villain.

So, go out, make a villain, and make him/her awesome!

Until next time, dear readers!

Tuesday Game: The Haunt 2 (part 1)

So today I am going over “The Haunt: 2.” It actually has a “Parental Discretion Advised” warning on the first page. As y’all know, I don’t do things too graphically, but, you know, trigger warning and all that. You’ve been warned.

Last time, on “The Haunt: the Series…”

“The hail’s too much! We have to find shelter!”

“Well, the manor is out, now that it’s crumbled to the ground…”

“Well, surviving the manor won’t matter if we’re crushed under hail stones!”

“Quick! Over there! A stairwell! Maybe we can actually get some shelter from this accursed storm!”

The tagline on this is just the best, right?

The party scrambled downstairs into a large room with a single double door, which appeared to be an old, abandoned, and dilapidated waiting room. After the ordeal in the mansion, the party decided to take a rest, taking them into what was presumably the morning, although one couldn’t tell by the dark and stormy skies above.

In the waiting room was a ruined desk of some sort, maybe a receptionist’s desk. Searching the strangely sturdy portion of the desk (having been broken into with a warhammer!), the spicy cleric found the oddest thing:

Upon picking it up, she was tossed into a vision of a young girl, a very familiar young girl, the one who was stabbed by the doll in the room prior to meeting Gertrude, holding hands and walking and talking with Gertrude! The cleric/warlock got a glimpse of Gertrude’s hag form for a moment, before the vision faded, gleaning some sort of information regarding the girl’s mother and some sort of “present.”

Concluding their rest, the party ventured through the double doors and further into this basement.

They came to a hallway with three possibilities: South, West, and East.

The party decided for the west door. Opening the door, the party was struck with a horrid stench, looking at four, seemingly fresh puddles of vomit. Upon closer inspection, the cleric was attacked by those puddles, as they were some strange form of ooze! The battle was short, but fierce, the party victorious. Finding nothing more, the party moved on to the east door.

There they found several tubs of rusty and algae-covered water as well as a curtain that separated them from another section of room. The spicy cleric tears down the curtain and dust billows around her as she coughs and chokes a little, but otherwise seems okay. What they found was a maternity birthing ward, with holes along the floor. There was a singular bed and bassinet at the end of the room that seemed to have fresh blood in them. Using his shadow step ability, the monk teleported over to see what was going on.

No sooner did he look in then a demonic, bloody, needle-toothed infant jumped from the crib, launching itself with a deadly wail, at the monk. The monk dodged this way and that, and when able to, struck with deadly precision the demonic creature, destroying it utterly.

The party, having checking around the corner, or looking that direction, saw the cleric/warlock wanting to look below. Having someone hold her legs, she was dipped in the hole in the floor only to see some 15 creatures, one seemingly dressed in a nurse’s uniform. The cleric was pulled back up, deciding to skip that room once they come to it, and realizing that there is a floor below theirs.

Understanding that there was only one room remaining, the party headed south.  Opening the door, they were at least six beds, three on either side, with a moaning figure into far back right.  Additionally, being noticed that, besides the double tour the ritual you came into this room, there was another room exiting off this area separated by a door.  Upon closer examination, the figure was an armless and legless ghoul.  The monk, being the morbid sort, flipped it onto its face and tied it onto his back.  They decided to call him Nugget.  The party decided to take a short rest when they heard a familiar girlish giggle…

It leapt from the ceiling, knife and it claws extended, standing the gnome wizard.  It stabbed and slashed at her, and disappeared without a trace after attacking once more, this time at cleric, as it had surprise round and first in initiative.  The party tentatively finished their short rest before heading to the door, and down the stairs they found.

The party came to yet another long hallway, bending to the right. At the bottom of the stairs, though, they found what looked like a large brown carpet. The air felt chilly. Feeling the cold, the dragonborn sorcerer cast fire bolt at the patch, causing it to grow! The whole party began freezing, their skin cracking and damaged from what they realized was brown mold. Seeing the need, the dragonborn used her breath weapon of fire on the whole lot, killing the brown mold and damaging the party in the process.

Seeing the double doors on the left and right, as well as the left, but further along the hall, the party opened the left door, heading east. They saw a horrid sight: four of the creatures dressed as nurses. They didn’t seem to be reacting to the party, and so the party realized that it must not react to any sort of sound. Deciding to see what happened, the monk tossed “Nugget” into the room, at which point it was cut, bitten, and slashed apart by the creatures! A rat ran across the room and the same effect happened. Realizing that the creatures reacted to movement, the party used mage hand to retrieve what appeared to be another child’s drawing. The “nurses” ran after the paper, but the party closed the doors before anything else could come through.

The cleric took the paper, and was subjected to yet another vision…

The young, blonde girl is seen again, and again with Gertrude. This time, they came across the scene of a woman, dead and covered in blood, giving birth to a hideously deformed and demonic-looking child, stillborn. A man, whom they know as General Montarthas, sit nearby, sobbing. Gertrude calls the girl to leave, calling her Carol Anne…

Again the cleric came back from the vision, shaken at what she had seen, telling the party the name of the little girl.

Crossing the hall, the party entered into the last room, seeing a ruined chapel with an angelic deva laying injured on the floor, calling for help. The cleric attempted to cast a ranged healing spell and the deva began dragging itself across the floor towards the cleric who came out towards the deva. Just as the cleric got close, the deva revealed itself to be a large red blob…

Will the party survive the encounter? Will they make it out of this hellish former hospital? Join us next week to find out!

Until next time, dear readers!

Not A Mini-Painting Spotlight: The Haunt (part 2)

As you can tell from the title, this is NOT the mini-painting spotlight that I normally do. This is for two reasons: 1) I have had ZERO time to paint in recent days, and my ability to do so when I am symptomatic are hampered severely, and 2) I have a lot of catching up to do for my various game stories.

Therefore, today will be dedicated to finishing out The Haunt. Enjoy!

When last we left the party, they were preparing to enter into the room with the double doors. They carefully checked it for both traps and locks. Finding none, they entered into the room…

They entered into a large room that appeared to be a spellcasting chamber including three stone practice dummies. Seeing yet another set of double doors to the east, they continued onwards.

A fire had gutted this once beautiful library. Charred books and the remains of several skeletons lay around the ground. The only intact thing in the room seemed to be a leather cloak hanging on a melted metal coat rack on the far back of the room. Ignoring caution, the bloodhunter bounded across the room to examine the cloak. The cloak, not being a cloak but a cloaker, turned on him and attacked, fully enveloping him in its folds!

After a difficult fight, in which the tabaxi bloodhunter was injured as he was wrapped up by the cloaker, with the death of the cloaker and the bloodhunter surviving.

Deciding to go back and finish exploring the rest of the house, they continued to be harried by the evil doll, with the cackling gleeful laughter and horrid lullaby predicating its attack.

Along the way, the party noticed the portcullis covering the stairs was lifted, but the party decided to finish exploring the first level.

They made their way back to the tea room, where the party went to the dining room, seeing a ghostly visage of people eating around the table. The artificer decided to simultaneously and independently check out the fireplace, where the evil doll attacked yet again! Fending her off, who disappeared into the shadows yet again, the party continued onward.

This time, the ghostly visage began anew, and the party was accosted by the visage of, what they could only assume was the General himself. The visage and ghostly meal concluding, the party continued onward toward the double doors to the south.

As soon as they entered, they were witness to a ghostly scene from the past, in which Gertrude and the General made plans to run away together, despite the General’s marriage to his wife. As the scene dissipated, the party noticed that, within this grand ballroom, to the east was a set of mirrored doors. The party set themselves to open it.

They find themselves on the edge of an outdoor pool area, although the pool itself is a murky algae, with the occasional ripple disturbing its surface. On the far side of the pool, laying on the stonework, is a jewel-encrusted sword.

The monk, using his shadowstep ability, teleported to the far side and picked up the sword. What rose from the depths of the algae-covered pool will haunt the nightmares of the party for years to come: a beholder zombie.

Of course, a fight ensued, with one character nearly hit with the creature’s disintegration eye beam! All that, however, was for naught, for the beholder zombie, as the dragonborn sorceress cast a fireball at it, the zombie dodging right into the line of fire (beholder zombie rolled a Nat 1 on it’s Dex save and my table rules state this causes double damage; a way for non-crit type spells to be able to crit)! The beholder zombie was obliterated to ashes at the immense ball of flame that struck it.

Upon examination, the sword ended up being enchanted!

Going back to the stairs, the first level being explored, the party decided to forgo the basement and head upstairs. Seeing a hallway, they followed the hallways to the right, and ended up in a waiting room of sorts, with the killer evil doll smiling demonically at the end.

Initiative began and the doll carved its way into the party but the party was nearly too much for the evil toy, which disappeared at the last, into the shadows once more. Cursing their luck at being unable to defeat the doll for good, the party continued through the next door.

Here, they met a curious sight! A skeleton writing at a desk over a ghostly ledger. The skeleton bade them welcome, telling them that they were expected. Suddenly, the door flew open, sucking in all but two of the party!

There they were met with a ghastly sight: Gertrude, her masked beauty unveiled to show her wicked demeanor as a night hag! The poor general, plastered to the ceiling a green gem stuck in his chest, and some sort of tentacles throughout, seemingly sucking the life out of him.

The battle was quick and brutal, the party successful in defeating Gertrude. At the end, the general fell to the floor, whispering thanks as he disappeared into dust, the evil green gem left behind. It was then the house began to shake.

The party, deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, broke the large bay window and jumped or teleported out of the house to the ground below, watching as the large manor house collapsed upon itself, the party standing in awe.

This is the ending the party received:

You manage to escape the falling manor, which has been the epitome of true evil. The night hag, Gertrude, has been defeated and the undead have been laid to rest. You know not who the hag’s victim was, however, but they did leave you the emerald in their departure. Now, standing before you, are the piles of rubble and decayed remains of the manor; finally resting in peace. The night begins to grow old as the first hints of dawn start to creep over the horizon. It is then, among the woods that surround the manor; you all notice a pair of glowing crystal blue eyes.

A horrifying girlish giggle carries over the, now, still night air, and the eyes fade into blackness.”

Suddenly, the previous storm began to produce hail the size of one’s fist, and the party found the rubble of a building, with stairs going down as the only refuge from the storm…

Stay tuned for “The Haunt: 2” this coming Tuesday!

Tuesday Game: The Haunt (Part 1)

So, this week, to celebrate “Spooktober,” I decided to run one of my favorite horror-themed adventures, and set this adventure on their path back to Waterdeep.

October is a spook-tacular month in which to run spooky adventures. The brave and dedicated adventurers that investigate the strange and messed up stories are members of a rag-tag group of a B-List group known as “Those Guys.” This is their story.

DUHN DUHN!!!

The heroes began by approaching the house, seeing through the darkened windows a pair of crystal blue eyes. No matter what they tried, the doors to the house would not so much as budge. Deciding to go around back, the door opened, seemingly of its own accord.

Entering the large mansion, party found in the entryway two statues, like that of grotesque demons. Looking around and seeing no sign of what would cause those blue eyes, the party artificer advanced further into the mansion. Once he passed the two statues, they animated and attacked!

The battle did not last long, and the party triumphed easily over the two gargoyles.

Advancing upwards to a landing, the party managed to find a stairwell going up and down, but contained a portcullis blocking the stairs. Tries they might, the parties unable to open it. The party did, however, find a couch with a strange doll laying on it. The party warlock / cleric picked up the doll and tied it to her sentient glass jar of flying mothballs. The artificer found a small statuette with a raised arm of a Griffin.

Pulling down the arm, the party heard a sound as if two doors were opening or shutting. Hearing that it came from the large tea room off of the entryway where they were, the party went down the short stairs onward, seeing an open part of the wall to their right, and another room up a short set of steps to their left.

Deciding to go into the room to the door that was opening and shutting, the party decided to go left towards the door, leaving the bloodhunter by the statue. The artificer crossed to the door when…

CRASH!!!!

…the chandellier above crashed into the middle of the room!

The party waited only a minute before heading onward, before the cleric/warlock realized that the doll was no longer tied to her jar.

That…was not good.

The party called for the bloodhunter to pull the lever, and they observed that the door ahead closed, but they heard two doors move. Deciding that the monk would go in, the monk went inwards, whereas the party stayed outside and had them observe the goings on in the short hall beyond what was likely a secret room. The monk entered and the door behind him was shut as a passage in front of him opened!

The monk stepped through and after doing so, the party, sans the bloodhunter, entered the hallway beyond the secret door, so the party could make their way through. After trying ways to wedge the door and finding none, the party prepared to have the bloodhunter pull the lever, cutting him off from the party and joining them with the monk, who found himself in a large room with a set of double doors to the southeast, and a single door to the south.

The bloodhunter, alone with his thoughts, was attacked, the sound of small footsteps and a girlish giggle predicating it!

The doll, with a knife in hand and claws extended in the other, flew from the ceiling and stabbed and clawed at the bloodhunter, who reeled in pain. The battle lasted only a moment, before the evil doll had disappeared without a trace into the shadows, the sound of giggles and footsteps fading away, as he yelled for the party to come to his aid.

Leaving the cleric/warlock as a companion, the remaining party entered into the room with the monk, who led them to the single door, finding a small wizard’s study. The brittle and ancient remains left only a single scroll tube (containing a spell scroll of invisibility), and a page out of a journal, detailing the descent into madness of the General after a new advisor, Gertrude, had come into the picture.

After seeing that there was nothing left to find, the party decided on heading into the double doors…

What happens next? Join us later for part 2!