Monday, September 30, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 30 - Best DM You’ve Had

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 30 - Best DM You’ve Had

To be honest, I'm not overly fond of questions like this, because they have the potential to hurt someone's feelings.  However, in my case there's not much to dance around.  I've only had a couple of DMs that I played with long enough to really form an opinion.  Those two DMs were so different from each other that I can't really say either one was better.  Both are excellent for different reasons.

So anyway, that wraps up the 30 Day D&D Challenge.  It's been a fun month of blogging; I hope to do something like it again next year.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 29 - What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 29 - What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?

The random number gods hate me, which is why I don't spend a lot of time in casinos.  I don't actually fumble that often, but I do miss a lot more than I hit.  I seem to get more 4s than anything.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

LFG: Birthday Bash

Game Date: 9/28/2013
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: Looking For A Group, Session 13
System: D&D Next / 5e Playtest
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Baer "Halfbeard" (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Barad Stronghollow (Jeremy) - Dwarf Paladin
Demethius the Holder of Actions (James) - Human Cleric
Doran of Clan Hawk (Eddie) - Human Barbarian
Jared (Rob) - Elf Druid
Keyleth Siannodel (Matt) - Elf Druid
Steif Tartaus (Thomas) - Human Monk
Woil Xurcaine (Daniel) - Gnome Wizard
Zuul the Punching Bag (Graham) - Half-Orc Paladin

The Session:
Last session we killed a gaggle of pirates, and sent a bunch more running.  After freeing the villagers they'd captured, we worried that the fleeing galleon might attack our own ship.  We spent a fair amount of time debating on whether to use the remaining canoes to return to our ship, or trek through the forest, or even split the party and do both.  We picked the forest, with Zuul staying behind to protect the villagers until our return.  It turned out we were worried for nothing, as our ship's captain hadn't even seen the pirates.

Taking The Long Way
We sailed back to the village of Tanaroa, and returned the former captives back to their people.  Chieftess Mira made us honorary members of the island tribes, and asked a special favor of Keyleth.  As part of her induction into Clan Hawk, she asked Keyleth to marry Mira's cousin Doran.  Keyleth asked for some time to think about it.  In the meantime, Doran has joined the party, so he and Keyleth can get to know each other better.

The rest of the party each got to pick their clan:  Hawk, Elk, Tiger, or Turtle.  Between all our party members, we have all four clans covered.  We spent a week in the village, after which the islanders gave us some rations, took us as far as they could, and wished us luck.  Thus began the first of what will probably be several sessions, exploring the jungles of this island in search of an artifact.  We have planned a circuitous route around the island, starting at the outer areas and spiraling inward, in order to cover the ground most thoroughly.

Sleeping Near The Enemy
After a day or two we encountered a pair of dinosaurs with club-like tails.  We approached them cautiously, but they didn't attack so neither did we.  The following day we were camping when a dozen Bugbears tried to sneak up on us.  Luckily Zuul and Demethius were keeping careful watch, and spotted the Bugbears before they could kill us in our sleep.  Zuul attempted to intimidate them before the attack, but he just wasn't scary enough.  He got surrounded right off, taking a beating while the rest of us woke up and got to our feet.  Still, it wasn't that bad a fight.  We got a few bruises and used several healing spells, but the Bugbears didn't last too many rounds.

This Cake Is Not A Lie
After that we spent a couple of more days trekking through the jungle.  One day we were walking along when seven huge spiders came at us.  To be honest, I don't remember much about this battle because that's when the surprise party started.  My wife suddenly showed up in the Game Keep's back room with several of my friends, bearing a cake to celebrate my 40th birthday.  My character used her favorite flame spell on the spiders, and the other players were kind enough to roll my dice when I couldn't pay attention.  But from what I can tell, we defeated the spiders pretty quickly.  After that, we took an extended rest and called it a day.

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 28 - A character you will never play ever again

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 28 - A character you will never play ever again

Nara Cavell was fun to play, but she could also be pretty annoying.  She was a religious nut, and couldn't go six minutes without praising Pelor.  She was the moral center of the party, and the campaign probably would have gone in a completely different direction without her influence.  While most of my characters are good-aligned, I don't see myself going that insanely far with it ever again.  Even if I were to actually play Nara again, I think I would have her mature a little bit, at least enough to know that sometimes you have to commit minor sins for the greater good.

Class-wise, I really didn't like the time I played a Ardent, and I doubt I'll play one again.

Friday, September 27, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 27 - A character you want to play in the future

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 27 - A character you want to play in the future

I've always wanted to play a fairy.  When 4th edition finally got around to releasing the Pixie, it was right at the end of the edition's lifespan (or at least at the end of my group's tolerance for the edition), so I never got the chance.  Well, okay, I did have one chance, but I played a Hamadryad instead (something else I'd always wanted to play).  Let's face it, I've just got a thing for fey characters.

Of course, you know what will happen.  I'll start playing 5e when it comes out, waiting patiently for them to add Pixies to their Player's Handbooks... and they'll finally add it a month before 6e comes out.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 26 - Favorite nonmagic item (your character’s or someone else’s)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 26 - Favorite nonmagic item (your character’s or someone else’s)

A katana.  Sure, in real life they're no more effective than a normal sword, but in fiction it's a great way to separate the awesomesauce swordmasters from the mundane soldiers.  Take a normal sword, bend the blade a bit, and you've got an instant badass.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 25 - Favorite magic item (your character’s or someone else’s)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 25 - Favorite magic item (your character’s or someone else’s)

I like bows that have unlimited arrows.  Even when I'm in a campaign where the DM handwaves your arrow usage, I like having such an item.  I'm just weird that way.  I also like bags of holding, even if the DM doesn't care about encumbrance.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 24 - Favorite energy type

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 24 - Favorite energy type

Acid.  No real reason, it's just the one I tend to pick most when I get to pick an energy type.

Monday, September 23, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 23 - Least Favorite Monster Overall

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 23 - Least Favorite Monster Overall

That's tough... I think even the silliest creatures in the monster manual can be awesome if the DM presents them well.  My least favorites would be the ones that are more annoying than deadly.  Creatures that only takes half damage, or regenerate as fast as you damage them, or that give players multiple status effects on every turn... especially creatures that keep me stunned round after round, preventing me from actually playing the game... those can make D&D less fun.  But again, a good DM can make a difference.

Also annoying are creatures that have ridiculously high AC, though that's often a matter of the DM using inappropriate monsters for that party.  That's another thing - any creatures can be annoying if they're too high level for the party at that time.  One of the most annoying character deaths I've had was when we were ambushed by Bugbears.  They won the initiative and dropped my Sorcerer before I even had a turn.  I didn't make any mistakes that led to my death, and I had to sit and watch the entire encounter without being able to play.  (And it was 4e, so you know the encounter took a while.)  Unpredictable instant death does not make for a fun game.

Fluff-wise, I hate that there's metallic bulls called "Gorgons", while the creatures that should be called Gorgons are called "Medusas".  And it strains my suspension of disbelief a bit that I can kill a gelatinous cube with arrows.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 22 - Favorite Monster Overall

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 22 - Favorite Monster Overall

This probably could have gone under favorite Aberrations, but I didn't want to make the same post twice.

My favorite monster is the Beholder.  Ever since I was a kid I've had a thing for monsters with lots of eyes.  The beholder reminds me of a monster I designed when I was in kindergarten, except mine was more of a humanoid with a beholder-like head, and lots of tentacles instead of arms.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

LFG: This Wall Is On Fiiiiiiiiiiiiire...

Game Date: 9/21/2013
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: Looking For A Group, Session 12
System: D&D Next / 5e Playtest
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Baer "Halfbeard" (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Barad Stronghollow (Jeremy) - Dwarf Paladin
Demethius (James) - Human Cleric
Jared (Rob) - Elf Druid
Keyleth Siannodel (Matt) - Elf Druid
Steif Tartaus (Thomas) - Human Monk
Woil Xurcaine (Daniel) - Gnome Wizard
Zuul (Graham) - Half-Orc Paladin

The Session:
So, we're on a tropical island, in the village of Tanaroa, hoping to eventually search some ruins for a pearl.  But that's on the back burner for now, as we're still trying to endear ourselves to chieftess Mira.  Her brother - or possibly cousin (a confusion I will attribute to inbreeding) - has been captured by pirates.  Mira believed he was being held in a pirate cove on a nearby island.  We agreed to attempt a rescue.

As we sailed around all the tiny reefs and sandbars, our ship got caught in some sort of web.  The captain was nonchalant, "It's just sea spiders."  Oh, thank goodness, is that all.  We managed to cut the ship free and continued the trip.  We approached the pirate island with too little subtlety, and their galleon attacked us with its catapults.  We turned the ship around and fled with our tails between our legs. 

But eventually we did manage to take some landing boats and make landfall about fifteen miles from the pirate cove.  Due to the heat, we waited until nightfall to travel.  Around morning we reached the pirate cove.  It was a walled-in compound consisting of about sixteen huts, opening up onto a beach.  It had three watchtowers, and the wall was covered in thorns.  Once again we waited until nightfall so we could attack under cover.

While waiting for sundown, Zuul and Keyleth went foraging and were ambushed by five dire rats.  It wasn't much of a fight. When the sun finally set, we sneaked up to the outer wall and started attacking one section.  After about a round we managed to break through, but the pirates were alerted to our presence.  Most of the battle was clustered around that entry point.  Demethius set large sections of the wall on fire in order to give us more ways in.  We spent a good portion of the fight tracking which sections of the wall had taken damage from the flaming thorns.

As wave after wave of pirates stormed out of their huts to attack us, we faced several moments of peril.  A couple of us went down more than once, and we burned many healing spells and potions to stay on our feet.  About halfway through the encounter, Keyleth started using her Flame Orb spell, making her feel useful for the first time this battle... until her spell set fire to a hut that contained some of the pirates' prisoners.  Zuul bravely rushed through the enemy lines to rescue the captives.

It was a very long battle.  All told we faced forty-three pirates and their leader.  We killed or captured about half of them; the other half fled to the beach and escaped in their rowboats.  While a couple of us came very close to death, we all survived the battle.  After the fight, we found more captives tied up in huts, including Mira's brother/cousin.  We also found a few treasures, including a Ring of Waterwalking.  We ended the session there.

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 21 - Favorite Dragon Color/Type

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 21 - Favorite Dragon Color/Type

Blue.  It's my favorite color, so it's my favorite type of dragon.  For metallic dragons, my favorite is silver.

Friday, September 20, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 20 - Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 20 - Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)

The Displacer Beast (I'm not up on monster categories, but the the 4e Monster Manual assures me is that the Displacer Beast is of Fey origin).  I've always liked creatures with tentacles, and I love any sort of cat.  Though as cool as these creatures are, I do hate fighting them.

Runner-up: Nymph

Thursday, September 19, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 19 - Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 19 - Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)

The way they categorize these questions is really odd.  Why are we grouping elementals with plants?  I'm not very fond of either.  I like Dryads a lot, but I think I would classify them more as fey. But I'll play fair.  The Shambling Mound is pretty cool looking, as is the Vine Horror.  Sticking to elementals, I like the ice-based ones the best.  Fire is too mainstream.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 18 - Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 18 - Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)

I confess I had to Google what qualified as an Outsider.  I like the Xorn, just because they're freaky looking.  Runner-up would be the Succubus.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 17 - Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 17 - Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)

The common housecat, because in some editions it can easily kill a 1st-Level character.

I am Fluffy, the Destroyer of Worlds.

Monday, September 16, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 16 - Favorite Monster (Aberration)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 16 - Favorite Monster (Aberration)

The next few questions are a little difficult because different editions have different ideas of what monsters qualify as Aberrations or Outsiders or just plain ol' animals.  But hey, my blog, my rules.

The Rust Monster holds a special place in my heart.  There's an old story that Gary Gygax stole the design of the Rust Monster from a cheap plastic toy.  Long before I liked D&D, I used to have one of those toys.  I called it a Clodhopper, and one of my Star Wars figures kept it as a pet.  The first time I saw a picture of one in a D&D Monster Manual, the first thing I thought was, "Hey!  I used to have a toy of that!"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 15 - Favorite Monster (Undead)

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 15 - Favorite Monster (Undead)

The Dracolich.  Because I can't imagine a scarier creature than a giant skeletal dragon. It combines the sheer power of D&D's most iconic creature, with the natural fear we have of all things undead. 

To be honest - and no offense to the person who made this challenge - but the next few questions feel a bit lazy to me.  It's like they couldn't quite think of 30 questions, so they stretched "favorite monster" out over several posts.  Personally I would have just kept it as "What are your favorite monsters and why?", then used the extra room for questions like:

What is your favorite miniature?
Do you prefer miniatures or tokens?
What are your favorite dungeon tiles/maps?
Do you prefer grids or hexes?

Then again, I'm obsessed with minis and tiles.  Still, it's a D&D quiz and it doesn't even ask you for your favorite spell.  Maybe this isn't the first time they've done a 30-day challenge, and all the good questions were asked last year.  Or maybe they just didn't want to ask some of the more obvious questions, because those get asked enough.  I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Maybe, if I have time after the 30 days is up, I'll make a bonus post with some of the extra questions I've thought of.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

LFG: Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

Game Date: 9/14/2013
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: Looking For A Group, Session 11
System: D&D Next / 5e Playtest
DM: Rusty

Baer "Halfbeard" (Bryan, subbing for Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Barad Stronghollow (Jeremy) - Dwarf Paladin
Demethius (James) - Human Cleric
Jared (Rob) - Elf Druid
Keyleth Siannodel (Matt) - Elf Druid
Steif Tartaus (Thomas) - Human Monk
Zuul (Graham) - Half-Orc Paladin

The Session:
We've been given a mission to travel to an island and find a mysterious black pearl.  After a lot of preparation, we finally set sail on board a ship called the "Unlucky Halfling", named after its captain.  We spent nearly two weeks at sea, facing a couple of storms and some minor challenges.  On the thirteenth day, as we approached the island, we hit a reef.

While the crew worked on repairs, Halfbeard, Barad, and Zuul went clam diving.  They found a few pearls, but their activity also attracted several large water snakes.  They were unarmored to make swimming easier, which of course meant the snakes had an easy time hitting them.  They were bitten, grappled, and dragged underwater.  Steif jumped in after them, while the rest of us fired at the snakes from the ship, letting loose the occasional healing spell.

It was a difficult fight, and the divers took a lot of damage.  Zuul fared the worst, and for a minute we thought he was a lost cause.  But Barad managed to save his life at the last second, and eventually everyone made it out of the water.  Low on spells and hit dice, we took an extended rest before going any further.  We sailed around the reef and made landfall at the village of Mora.

The village elder, Wan of Clan Hawk, invited us to a feast.  Then she asked us to travel to their sister village of Tanaroa, and meet with the chieftess Mira.  It was a large group of us making the trip, with all our guides and henchmen.  Due to the tropical heat, we had to make a lot of endurance checks, and it was slow going.

We encountered a group of pirate slavers, but it wasn't a difficult battle.  The only hard part was that a lot of us were fighting at disadvantage, due to endurance failures.  We kept the last pirate alive so we could interrogate her. We took their armor because light armors are less exhausting in this heat.  Sweating bullets, we took another extended rest and made the rest of the trek in the cool of night.

Eventually we reached Tanaroa and explored the town.  It was home to four clans, each represented by an animal: Hawk, Elk, Tiger, and Turtle.  It was mostly a normal tribal town, with a religion based on ancestor worship.  The one odd thing that stood out was that they used zombies for labor.  But there wasn't any evil intent to the process.

Just so we wouldn't have to be too far from our ship, we sent an animal messenger to the Halfling captain, requesting that he bring the ship around and dock closer to Tanaroa.  Now that we were all refreshed and ready for adventure, we ended the session.  Next week our search will really begin.

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 14 - Favorite NPC

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 14 - Favorite NPC

Yeah, that's how I remember it.
Tough call, but I think I'll go with Thuldrin Kreed from our Unlikely Heroes campaign.  We was both our nemesis and our chief employer, and probably the most fleshed-out NPC I've met in a game so far.   The DM said the character reminded him of Gene Hackman's character in - well, some Western.  (Sorry, Western fans, I just don't find the genre very entertaining or memorable.  Westerns are too manly to hold my interest.)  Also, Kreed had a bodyguard named, um... Payden?  Paydum?  Paycheck?  Payday?  Never did get that right…  Anyway, Kreed’s henchman was a pretty cool character too.

Friday, September 13, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 13 - Favorite Trap/Puzzle

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 13 - Favorite Trap/Puzzle

I'm heavily into miniatures and props, so I'm drawn toward any cool visual display of the trap or puzzle.  I saw on Penny Arcade where they used a laser pointer for a mirror puzzle; I thought that was pretty nifty.  I even stole the idea for my "Sunken Temple of Pelor" module, but I never got a chance to run it.  That module later evolved into "Zombie Cyborgs from Outer Space", but the laser puzzle didn't make the transition.

As a DM, though, I don't usually use a lot of puzzles or traps.  I'm too nice, and traps often come across as random DM jerkiness.  Sometimes it's like, "You didn't actually SAY you were staring ahead of you while you were walking down the hallway, so now you've fallen into a pit trap, OKAY?"  (I'm so glad passive perception was invented.)  I don't tend to put a lot of puzzles in my modules either, other than the "this door's key is held by a villain all the way on the opposite side of the dungeon" type.  I did make a few traps and puzzles in my "Temple of Elemental Weevils" session, but none of them were particularly difficult.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 12 - Favorite Dungeon Type/Location

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 12 - Favorite Dungeon Type/Location

Typically, whichever one I'm currently in.  I do have a slight preference for traditional dungeon crawls, but only because it took so long for me to get in one.  The first D&D campaign I played in, while an excellent campaign, never had any dungeons in it.  As a new player, I was itching to get into my first dungeon and fight my first dragon, but it would be a long time before I experienced either.

When running a game, a lot of my dungeons seem to be of the "abandoned lab" variety.  Players find an old, usually underground research facility, which is still populated by the weird experiments of a long-dead scientist.  "Zombie Cyborgs from Outer Space" is a prime example, but "Death By Chocolate" also has elements of this trope, as do several areas in my old NeverWinter Nights module, Itropa.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 11 - Favorite Adventure You Have Run

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 11 - Favorite Adventure You Have Run

Easy.  That would be my Itropa module, "Zombie Cyborgs from Outer Space".  Unfortunately we had to call the session short, but we got through the most important encounters, and a good time was had by all.  Runner up would be my Halloween Gamma World session, "Death by Chocolate".

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 10 - Craziest Thing That’s Happened

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 10 - Craziest Thing That’s Happened That You Saw (to party/character/your players etc)

It was at a Living Forgotten Realms game, and it involved a player who later wound up in my regular D&D group.  Now, this guy's play style might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he's definitely one of those players who makes games interesting.  He was playing a Drow Rogue named Dee.  We had been hired to track down a bad guy.  We were told that if we managed to bring him back alive, we would get an additional reward.

Later in the session, the bad guy attacked us, and we fought his henchmen while trying to convince their leader to surrender.  We succeeded in convincing him, though his henchmen continued to fight us.  Dee was still angry about the leader's opening attack, and wouldn't accept the surrender.  While the rest of us were still busy fighting henchmen, Dee fought the boss solo.  Despite the fact that the leader was worth more alive, and despite the rest of the party shouting death threats, Dee killed the boss before we could get over there to stop him.  (A more complete recap of the session is here.)

Honorable mentions:
Morrigan attacks a party member's mount during battle.
Alek fights the cave squid.
Vex and Durp kill the party ninja.

Monday, September 9, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 9 - Favorite Character You Haven’t Played

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 9 - Favorite Character You Haven’t Played

I usually have several characters wandering around in my head, waiting for the perfect campaign.  I've got quite a few Bards hopping around in there, but I really don't want to be one of those players who constantly plays the same class, so I keep those at the end of the line.  The most fleshed-out non-Bard I can think of is Vanya, a Human Barbarian.  She has a hefty backstory, but she'll probably never get used because I've yet to really fall in love with any edition's Barbarian class.

Another one I've really wanted to play is Lynnia Krynn, a Half-Elf Warlock, though she might be too similar to some of the Bards I've played.  I actually have played Lynnia once, but it was just a test game.  I have summaries of Lynnia and Vanya (and several others) in this post.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 8 - Favorite Character You Have Played

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 8 - Favorite Character You Have Played

Between pencil-and-paper and NeverWinter Nights, I've played a variety of characters.  My favorites usually have bubbly personalities, and generally aren't that great in battle.  For PnP, my favorite character was probably Aria Thatcher, the Half-Elf Bard from our Scarred Lands campaign.  In NeverWinter Nights my favorite was Brynwyn Elswyth, an Elf Arcane Archer that I played on the Silver Marches server.  I also liked Dervish a great deal, but she was a bit more serious than my other characters.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

LFG: Squid Happens

Game Date: 9/7/2013
Location: The Game Keep
Campaign: Looking For A Group, Session 10
System: D&D Next / 5e Playtest
DM: Rusty

Barad (Jeremy) - Dwarf Paladin
Demethius (James) - Human Cleric
Flip (Eddie, subbing for Trevor) - Halfling Rogue
Halfbeard (Cliff) - Dwarf Fighter
Keyleth (Matt) - Elf Druid
Steve (Daniel, subbing for Thomas) - Human Monk
Woil (Daniel) - Gnome Wizard
Zuul (Graham) - Half-Orc Paladin

The Session:
I missed session 9, in which they cleared out a few more rooms in the Lost Temple. They encountered a powerful Wight who gave them clues to complete the dungeon.  They fought a grey ooze, which damaged Halfbeard's weapon.  They also fought some rats, Zuul collected some tapestries, and they kept hearing a ghostly xylophone sound.

This week began with us barely avoiding a blade trap.  We entered one room and found the body of a dead Dwarf, reaching toward a pool of water in the center of the room.  The room also contained a giant toad statue, which came to life and attacked Barad.  Once we killed the toad, we looted the Dwarf and found a map, along with some notes about a mysterious island.  More on that later.

Another room contained six statues of female warriors.  On the opposite side of the room was a bricked-up doorway.  As we entered the room, the statues requested that we identify ourselves.  Since it was his church, Zuul took the lead and told them of his mission.  The statues parted, and a speaker over the doorway asked Zuul a history question.  He gave the correct answer, and the bricks opened up to allow us to proceed.

In the next room was a giant statue of a dragon, holding a book.  While Zuul read the book, the rest of us explored the room until we found a secret door.  The secret room held the shield we had been sent to find.  One final puzzle requested that we "prove that you are Halav's friend."  Since Halav was cremated, the correct answer was to produce flames.  Out-of-character, none of us figured it out, but the DM gave it to us due to some high religion checks.  Our Cleric used a flame spell, and the shield was ours.

But wait - Zuul and Barad each wanted this artifact for their own church.  We had a neutral party member carry the shield until we got back to town, then we voted on whether to give the shield to Barad or Zuul.  Although it meant a much smaller monetary reward, we gave it to Zuul because it was more closely related to his religion.  He took it to his church, and they requested he hold on to it a bit longer.  They asked us to take it to their main church in the capital city.

We were smuggled on board a Gnome-run riverboat called the "Prancing Queen".  It was a four-day voyage, with stops at a few towns along the way.   On board we met the Gnome Wizard Woil, who joined our party.  It was a relaxing cruise filled with fun and gambling.

Release the Kraken!
One night, while Halfbeard, Flip, and Barad were up on deck, several giant tentacles burst out of the water.  The paddle boat was being attacked by a giant squid.  Tentacles grabbed several passengers and crew members, dragging them beneath the waves to their deaths.  As the party members above decks attacked the tendrils, the rest of us made our way past the fleeing passengers to join the fight.

It was an exciting battle.  Several party members were grappled at various points during the battle, some getting dragged underwater to fight the squid itself.  Flip was brought very near death, at one point getting accosted by two tentacles at once.  Woil managed to push the monster away from the boat using a Thunderwave spell, while other party members used automated Gnomish rescue boats to retrieve some of the overboard party members.

Battling underwater, it was Barad who dealt the final death blow, using some fancy shmancy Paladin power.  The ship's captain was very appreciative of our service, and invited us to a fine dinner featuring calamari.  Our ship was detained a bit to assess the need for repairs, so we didn't reach the capital city until after midnight.  Nevertheless, we headed straight to the church and woke up the staff.  They were a little bit miffed until they saw the shield.  Then we were heroes.

We were given rooms at the best inn in town, and invited to a conference the following morning.  Reasoning that this shield should be used for heroic deeds rather than sit in some cathedral gathering dust, they decided that Zuul should keep it to protect him in battle.  During the debriefing, Zuul gave them the map and notes we'd found on the dead Dwarf.  They looked over the notes and gave us a new quest.

We've been tasked with finding a black pearl hidden on an island.  They gave us 3500 gold to buy supplies for the mission.  We debated a bit on whether to rent a boat or buy one, finally deciding to buy it.  We'll be ready to set sail next session.  Hopefully we won't see any more squid.

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 7 - Favorite Edition

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 7 - Favorite Edition

Tough question.  For tactical fighting, nothing beats 4e.  But for a roleplay-heavy campaign, I'd rather go with 3rd.  The real truth is, my favorite edition is the version of 3rd used in the NeverWinter Nights computer game.  The character creation rules are basically the same as in PnP 3e, but I like the fast healing and simplistic shortcuts they had to use to make it work as a computer game.  NWN's Bard is especially different from the PnP version, and yet it's one of my favorite versions of the Bard.

I like having a lot of options to customize my character.  One thing that bugs me about 4e is that the classes don't feel very customizable to me.  Yes, they published over 100 builds, which should be more than enough for me.  But if you have a character concept that doesn't fit one of those builds, it can be difficult to make what you want.  It's hard to explain what I mean, but the best example I can think of is my friend Bryan.  He loves to play rogues, and he loves to wield two weapons.  In 4e, there's only a couple of builds that really work for two-weapon fighting.  The Tempest Fighter, the melee Ranger, and maybe one or two more... but no Rogue.  A Rogue can still hold two weapons, and even take a couple of feats that give you better AC or whatever when dual-wielding, but they have very few options if they want to attack twice in one round.  Again, over 100 builds... and a dual-wielding rogue never occurred to them.

But in 3rd, you could turn any character into a two-weapon duelist.  All it took was a DEX of 15 and three feats.  It wasn't always the best idea, but if you had a particular character concept in mind, you could usually build it.  On the other hand, I don't want too much freedom when building my character, because then things get too complicated.  I've found that I don't really care for point-buy systems like GURPS, because (in my experience) making a character takes longer than it should, and dopes like me can easily build a completely useless character.  So when it comes to character creation, I want a good balance between customizability and simplicity.  With any luck, 5e will draw the best elements from both 3rd and 4th.

Friday, September 6, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 6 - Favorite Deity

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 6 - Favorite Deity

I don't really have one, but generally I favor Corellon and Melora.  Generally it depends on the character concept.  When I was playing the Cleric Nara, she was extremely devout and mentioned Pelor all the time.  But Pelor isn't actually one of my favorites.  I've always wanted to play someone who worships Sune, but I don't think such a character would really work with most groups I've played in.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 5 - Favorite Dice

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 5 - Your Favorite Set of Dice / Individual Die

The first set of dice that I used regularly was this blue set of Chessex Lustrous dice.  These are still probably my favorites, though I don't use them as often as I used to.

More recently I've developed a fondness for this set of Chessex Festive dice, because they look like tie-dye.  However, I tend to roll badly when I use them.  Well, worse than usual.

Honorable mention goes to these Q-Workshop Forest dice.  They are beautiful, and I absolutely love them for Ranger/Druid-type characters (I often like to use dice that match my characters).  However, they are difficult to read, which makes them less useful.

As for favorite single die, just for the fun of it, I'm going to go with the Smiley Face die.  It's just fun.

More pics of my dice collection can be found here and here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 4 - Favorite Gameworld

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 4 - Favorite Gameworld

This one's a bit tough.  I've played in several worlds, but in most of them the world itself didn't have a lot of effect on gameplay.  But having read a few of the D&D novels, I'm going to have to go with Greyhawk.  There's no specific reason why; I just enjoyed the universe presented in those books.  My second choice would have to be Forgotten Realms, but only because I'm most familiar with it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 3 - Favorite Playable Class

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 3 - Favorite Playable Class

Bards are generally my favorite class.  I like Charisma-based characters, and I like "Jack of all trades, master of none" types.  It's fun having a lot of options in front of you.  You'll never outshine the other players, but you can bet the party will always have use of you. 

My second choice would be archers, regardless of the base class.   They could be a Ranger, Fighter, Arcane Archer, or even Bard, as long as they're build around archery.

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 2 - Favorite Playable Race

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 2 - Favorite Playable Race

I would have to go with the Half-Elf, but it's hard to say why.  I can relate to them somehow.  They're torn between worlds.  In an all-human environment, they're a little bit magical.  In an elven village, they're a little bit down-to-earth.  In a way they seem sort of androgynous to me - the human side representing the male, while the elf side represents the female. 

But that's just roleplay.  Mechanically, in most editions they suck.  If I'm actually trying to build an effective character, I tend to go full-Elf, assuming it works for the class.

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day 1 - How you got started

Note - This post is part of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.

Day 1 - How you got started

I have previously posted a long version of my D&D history here, but to sum up:

I got into D&D late in life.  There were several times in my youth that I almost played it, or sort of played it, and I was always curious about it.  But most of my friends came from religious families that wouldn't let them play, and my brother kept telling me those kinds of games were boring.  In college I got addicted to a MUD, but I still wasn't sure if pencil-and-paper games were for me.  Later I started reading Knights of the Dinner Table, and the table dynamic looked like a lot of fun.

Several years ago I got into a deep depression, and the ability to live another life for a while was very enticing.  I spent a lot of time on NeverWinter Nights roleplay servers, where I could stay in character and think through my characters.  In retrospect it probably wasn't the healthiest thing I could do, but I bet it saved me from suicide.

As I got better, I knew it would help me to make more friends with common interests, so I started looking into finding a PnP group.  I used Pen And Paper Games to help me find a group, and I started playing D&D 4e.

30 Day D&D Challenge

I'm a little behind on this because I just came across it this morning, but all this month I'm going to be posting my answers to the "30 Day Dungeons and Dragons Challenge."  Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with it.  Some days I'll post several paragraphs; other days it's just going to be a sentence or two.

From the other sites: "The 30 Day Dungeons and Dragons Challenge is a take-off on the 30 Day Photo Challenge, but even more fun, because it's for nerds!! Entries may be a photo, a short write up, and can take any form you like! Status updates, notes, blog entries ... have fun with this!"

Day 1-How you got started
Day 2-Favorite Playable Race
Day 3-Favorite Playable Class
Day 4-Favorite Gameworld
Day 5-Your favorite set of dice/individual die
Day 6-Favorite Diety
Day 7-Favorite Edition
Day 8-Favorite Character You Have Played
Day 9-Favorite Character You Haven’t Played
Day 10-Craziest thing that’s happened that you saw (to party/character/your players etc)
Day 11-Favorite Adventure You Have Ran
Day 12-Favorite Dungeon Type/Location
Day 13-Favorite Trap/Puzzle
Day 14-Favorite NPC
Day 15-Favorite Monster (Undead)
Day 16-Favorite Monster (Abberation)
Day 17-Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)
Day 18-Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)
Day 19-Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)
Day 20-Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)
Day 21-Favorite Dragon Color/Type
Day 22-Favorite Monster Overall
Day 23-Least Favorite Monster Overall
Day 24-Favorite energy type
Day 25-Favorite magic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 26-Favorite nonmagic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 27-A character you want to play in the future
Day 28-A character you will never play ever again
Day 29-What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?
Day 30-Best DM You’ve Had