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!

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.

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!

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 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!

Short Announcement

So here’s the deal: I have Multiple Sclerosis. Today has been…challenging and I haven’t been able to finish my posts. Yeah, I know, but I’m symptomatic as all can be, and my pain levels are through the roof.

I am sorry that I couldn’t get content out. I should be good by Monday.

I appreciate your understanding in this time.

Until tomorrow dear readers.

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.