Showing posts with label Come Endless Darkness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Come Endless Darkness. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Seasons in The Abyss

A while back I talked about how my players in the Order of the Platinum Dragon are splitting off for one level (14 to 15) to do something different with each of their characters.  We have jokingly referred to as a "vision quest" but in the Mythos of my game world it would be more appropriate to call them "Secret Journies".

They are trapped in the Abyss and each one will visit a different demon world before they hook back up on the Demonweb.  I have no issues with them finding each other across the Abyss; they just will.  A random encounter with a Chaos Stone has them all linked with a minor form of telepathy.

In one case one of the Paladins and the Fighter will be visiting Liberation of the Demon Slayer. The sorcerer will be going to Têhom, the Abyssal layer that had belonged to Tiamat.  Likely he will bring her back to life.  And the others... I have no clue yet.
I know I need one that is a savage world, maybe one with Dragon-lords.

So I dove into my archive at DriveThruRPG to see what might work.

Liberation of the Demon Slayer
The adventure is six levels and 70 pages. VS suggests using 3 0-level characters per player and let everything work out, or a large party of 1st level characters. Nothing is mentioned on how many players, but I am guessing 6 to 8.

There is some background given about the world this adventure lives in. They are all optional, but it does set the mood for the rest of the book. I found the bits about Snake-men and elves to be interesting. The adventure is steeped in a lot of Lovecraftian tropes and we are introduced to some of the "Old Ones" here, albeit with different names.

If you, like me, love eldritch abominations and dark magic then this the adventure for you. The adventure itself "sounds" simple enough. Retrieve a demon-killing sword from the caves to stop the demons attack your village. Easy peasy. Trouble is that the author grew up when dungeons-as-meat-grinders were a thing and everyone was afraid the big bad devil was going to get you. This adventure though is closer in tone and danger to the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen than it is to most Lamentations of the Flame Princess products. With the right DM this could be a great and dangerous adventure where the party could live. Sure they could all easily die too. One can read this and imagine that all of the author's games are a bit like it.

I have known the author for a number of years and yeah this is exactly the kind of things I expect in his games. I think the difference here with this adventure and some of his earlier material is there is a maturity here to accept the absurd. This adventure can be played straight or with a dash of dark humor. Think of it as a horror movie, even the scariest have a touch of humor to them; it sets you up for the bigger punch later down the road.

In my own games I do have an epic weapon for killing demons. In my current world state this sword is lost and a quest is needed to recover it. Maybe this is what I need. If so then the value of this adventure just increased ten-fold for me. I am going to have to spend some quality time with it and a pencil to see if it can be recrafted into something that fits my world a little better.

Lair of the Demon Princess
38 pages. Full color.
This is an older adventure designed for D&D 3.0/d20.
Part 2 of 2 adventures it can easily be run on it's own.  The positive features of this adventure are some new monsters, and use of old monsters in interesting ways.  In fact one of the things I liked most about this was the creative use of use of a Vrock and a Succubus as the main bad guys.  This adventure reminds us that demons need to be played as an intelligent monster.  Bloodthirsty agents of rage and destruction, but intelligent.
The adventure is fine, I think it might be a bit easy for the listed levels of 8-12.  The layout of the module could use a little more work and some the art comes out as blurred or pixelated.

Against the Cult of the Bat God
A while back my players ran into the Demon Bat-God Camazotz.  He managed to get away with the what he thought was the heart of the Sun God (it was his liver).  Since then my players have been itching for a rematch against him.  This adventure might just be the thing.
While the creature here is listed as "Servant of the Bat God" a little tweaking and I could make this into a coastline being terrorized by the Bat God himself.
The characters have three days to complete their task, so it's a nice tight adventure, exactly what I want, and it weighs in at just under 60 pages.
In any case there is a lot of good stuff here to use.

B1 Journey to Hell
I bought it on a whim based solely on level and "hell". First off you get a lot of adventure for your buck. 45 pages of adventures and maps (granted it is the same adventure twice, but still). The artwork is great, coming primarily from sources like The Inferno. This is quite fitting given that the adventure itself is quite reminiscent of Dante's great tale. It does include some art from the Larry Elmore CD that was out years ago, but doesn't properly cite it in their OGL page. It is dual stated for the OSRIC and Altus Adventum Role-Playing Game, always a plus in my book, but it can be played with any number of OSR systems or their fore-bearers.

Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
After dealing with the Queen of Spiders, maybe the Queen of Ants would be fun.
This 21 page (cover, OGL, and 19 pages) book is the first of the GODS,DEMI-GODS, AND CULTS series. This one features Khraliche Karinkhamür the Chaos Queen of Ants. Presented here is plenty of detail about the cult, the sub cults and the important figures. Worshipers are detailed and discussed. We also get some new spells for both Wizards and Clerics and some new monsters.

BTL005: Brave the Labyrinth - Issue #5
An OSR Zine, but filled with more useful content than some books.
We get a new Elvish-Demon Lord, some elf-sub races and a castle to adventure in.  I immediately decided that all of these are connected and the Demon Lord, Erebus has these elves in his castle.
There are some patron saints of Good. Some magical tools and some new lycanthropes.

Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds
Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds, or GTFO (cute huh) is again a case of me getting something that is exactly what I need.  While I am not going to play it as-is, there is a tweak mentioned in the book itself that works perfectly for me.  In fact, a lot of this book works perfectly for me and my next set of adventures.  I can't believe I am saying this, but I will turn up the gore factor in this Lamentations product for my needs.
Not a real fan of the art inside but I see why it works for this.


There are plenty more.  I just need a few.   One for the cleric/paladin and fighter, one for the Dragonborn paladin, one for the Dragonborn sorcerer, one for the two elves (a thief and ranger) with maybe the half-pixie NPC (Brave the Labyrinth is looking like a good choice for them).

This is going to be a fun winter!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 7: How can a GM make the stakes important?

Welcome back to the #RPGaDAY for 2018.

This is hosted every year by Dave Chapman over at his blog AUTOCRATIK.


Today is Day 7 and How can a GM make the stakes important?

For me the GM can make the stakes important by getting player and character buy-in early on.  While the normal carrot for adventurers is the gold, that might not be enough for some groups.

In my "Come Endless Darkness" games there is over-riding issue that the sun is out and the sun gods are all dead.  The characters are invested because their world is in danger.  The players want to keep playing in this world so they are working hard, even doing things they would not do if gold was the only motivator. 

Of couse, if the stakes are important, then the rewards need to be equally important.  One of my players is even asking what it takes to become a god now!

External motivation is good, but internal motivation will help get worlds built.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Father's Day Weekend Gaming

Had a fairly packed weekend game wise.

Friday was our local Public Library sale.  Sometimes we can find some gems, but this time all we found was this book on potions.


Saturday was Free RPG Day.  We all went and got some books.  Of course, we still ended up buying a bunch of stuff too.



Sunday, Father's Day, we went back to the Nentir Vale to finish off the Blood Reavers.  The Demon Slayers found some more clues and are headed to the Well of Demons now.



We want to add more 4e feel to this game.  Just like our Order of the Platinum Dragon 5e game is more "old school" in feel and the Second Campaign has more of a 3e feel.


I have some Encounter Cards I want to use and I'd love to work "Bloodied" into our combats.  I think that might be fun.  Using some 4e stats the monsters are much tougher and these characters are already having more issues than their other 5e counterparts.

For reasons too various to name, our gnome druid, Dimbel Timbers, has adopted this has his theme song:


Every character should have a theme song.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Campaign Updates:2018

Work has me crazy busy, but this is a good thing.  The downside is I have not had the time to blog as much as I want or even get in the campaign prep in at night.  So I thought I would kill two birds today and see where I am in my games.



Active Games

The Dragon Slayers
A 3.x game that was briefly 5e and now fully converted to 1st Edition AD&D.  The characters were trapped in Baba Yaga's Hut for nearly a year. They freed the Old Crone and her daughter Elena the Fair.  Up next the final battle. I am using the Tom Moldvay adventure Twilight Calling for this.

Next are my three interlinked 5th edition games collectively known as Come Endless Darkness. Tharizdûn is returning to the multiverse and the PCs of the three campaigns need to stop him.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon
The Order has defeated all the giants and are now wandering the Underdark looking for the Drow. The big bads here are Lolth and Graz'zt.  Graz'zt is setting up Lolth much like he is described doing in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (for 3.5e).  I try to focus on classic monsters in this one.

Second Campaign
The Treasure Hunters of the Second Campaign have just entered the Forbidden City. Here the big bad is Demogorgon.  Here the focus is on other creatures that might not see normal games.

Into the Netir Vale
Known by my kids as the Orcus campaign. This is my revived and converted 4e campaign brought over whole cloth. I might lessed the involvement with the Raven Queen and play up Shar since this is part of the Forgotten Realms in my house.

All three games will meet up at the Temple of Elemental Evil to battle it out with the risen Tharizdûn.  So roughly 18 characters of 18th to 20th level.  It's gonna be wild.

Inactive/On-hold Games
These games are all inactive for a number of reasons.

Star Trek: Voyages of the USS Protector
This game is will be using White Star with my own "Black Star" rules modifications.  I have the first adventures ready to go, "The Stars Are Right" and "These Are the Voyages".  I have two more nearly ready "Ghost Ship" and "Abraxas Down".  I want to do two more.  I have been scribbling notes on rule changes and feel like the rest I can do while the game is moving along. 
What is really slowing me down is the wiring of the LED lights I want to put into my USS Protector Model!

Spirit of '76
On indefinite hold.

Hero's Journey to Middle Earth
This one is requiring some significant reading on my part.  As my first REALY foray into Middle Earth as a game world I want to do it right.

Magic School 
This one is on hold till I am done with Come Endless Darkness. Since this one will use D&D Rules Cyclopedia and I really want it to feel like a separate game.   Plus things that happen in CED will change the world of the Magic School and I don't know what those are yet!

War of the Witch Queens
This is the higher level version of the Magic School kids.  What happens here will also be determined by what the PCs do in CED.  I have all the adventures for this, just not the end game.



The Incredibly Awesome (and Not At All Made-Up) Adventures of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle!
Huh...ok this one was a little bit of a joke, but I keep getting asked about it.  I do have one adventure worked out that introduces the PCs to the world. Called "Damn It Barry Allen!" it sets up Booster and Blue as the true heroes of the DC world, it's just that no one can remember them.

I still have to get my new Blue Rose campaign going.  I ran the first adventure, Kingdom of Rain, and it went great.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Weekend Gaming: Descent!

Sumer of 1982 I was in Jr. High.  My good friend Jon Cook was our regular DM only by dint he had been playing longer than my 2 and half years and he owned most of the hardcover books.  He also owned a copy of D1-2 Descent into the Depth of the Earth.  I remember flipping through it thinking how much fun it would be to run this adventure.  In my mind, it really was what made Advanced D&D "advanced".  That hex map was above and beyond anything I had seen up to that point.  I told myself that once I knew more about the game I would run that adventure.

Well, this weekend some 36 years later I finally made good on that promise.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon rode a mine cart down, down, down to the underdark (before it was even named such) and began their quest to find the drow responsible for getting the giants to raid the human lands.

The first session went great with the Order making it to the first checkpoint.  They tried to bluff their way through, but that only got them so far.  They had to fight their way out of the checkpoint.  They are now holed up in a side cave looking to heal.

(The Order, surrounded on all sides by Drow)




I have a bunch of material from a variety of sources. Enough to keep us busy for a while.

My wife even had to comment on how much fun we all seemed to have!  It really was worth all the weeks of prep and years decades of thought.  This is going to be great.

The boys are already plotting on how they can get the houses into a civil war to gain the advantage.




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

More Game Prep (Come Endless Darkness)

Not much to discuss today.  I have a HUGE project deadline at the end of the month so can't dedicate too much time here.  No worries, it will pay off!

In the meantime, I got some more material for my Descent into the Depths of the Earth game.
A cooler looking player's map and more Kuo-toa minis.



A new Encyclopedia Subterranica map.



And all my "Drow" dice.

Been wanting to do this one for so long.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Slight Shift in Plans: Down, Down to Drow Town

Over the extended Christmas break we got to play quite a lot of D&D5.  My son, when not playing or running games for his cousins, also spent some time updating our Order of the Platinum Dragon characters. Everyone is right at 13th level and he wants to play them again.

So I am pulling out my Descent into the Depths of the Earth to get going on their first underdark hexcrawl.  I am of course using the Classic Modules Today conversion for 5e.


I am going to let them find their own way here, though maybe not as much as I could let them.
I really only need them to go up one more level before The Vault of the Drow.

To aid me in this I found a great alternate Player's Map at Blog of Exalted Deeds that I really like.


Looking forward to running this piece of AD&D history with my kids.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Into the Nentir Vale, 5e Style

Vacation day today.  So the boys and I are starting our "Halloween" adventures of Into the Nentir Vale.  Yes, I am converting the 4e the adventures to 5e.  I started these adventures back when 4e came out and they really had an impact on what I am doing now with Come Endless Darkness.


So today we start H1, Keep on the Shadowfell.


I have done the conversions to 5e and they look good.



We are going to stick with this one for a bit and pick up Vault of the Drow when we go to Gen Con in 2018.  That would be a good time to do that!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Temples of Elemental Evil in the Multiverse

I have been thinking a lot about my interconnected D&D 5 campaigns.
  • There is the Mystara/Oerth combination on my wold of Mystoerth I have been running for The Order of the Platinum Dragon. Which cover all the classic "Greyhawk" modules.  Big bad is Lolth.
  • There is the one I have been calling The Second Campaign which I have started in the Forgotten Realms (2017 is my year to be introduced to the Realms).  I am running other classic 1st modules here too.  Big Bad here is Asmodeus.  I am including some elements of Dark Sun here too. 
  • There is a third campaign I have not started completely just yet. It is a resurrection of my old 4e game and deals with the rise of Orcus.  Originally I wanted this one to be the Realms but I am likely to set it in the Nentir Vale.  Have not decided yet. If I do then I need a better home for the Second Campaign.  I'd love to play a little with Krynn, to be honest. 
I still have some details to work out. But all of these fall under the larger umbrella of Come Endless Darkness. Tharizdûn is returning to the multiverse and the PCs of the three campaigns need to stop him.

But I need to know my end game. I know all three are coming together at the very end.  In the "main" Order of the Platinum Dragon game, the PCs have already been to Hommlett. They know about the Temple of Elemental Evil, so they have a pretty good idea that they are headed back there.

I know that I am planning that have the big bads, or at least their proxies, in the final battle too. But how do I get the characters of three universes together?

Then it dawned on me. There is a Temple of Elemental Evil in every game world.


Let's look at it from this point of view.  Nearly every game world (notable exception Mystara) got its genesis from First Edition AD&D.  The first level First Edition adventure was T1 The Village of Hommlett.   So if you played regularly in any game world there is a good chance that that world had a Hommlett and accordingly a Temple of Elemental Evil.

I thought at first I wanted a Tanelorn-style temple that flitted from world to world.  But that is unsatisfactory to me and I already had something like that in Halfway. I thought about having it as a place that exists on all worlds at the same time,  but I also have that in West Haven.
So instead I am thinking of something more along the lines of the Altgeld Castles here in Illinois.

On five different campuses here in Illinois there are five gothic-style castles all (except one) called Altgeld Hall. Named after Gov. Altgeld.   The rumor was that all these buildings can be combined, Voltron-style, to make one complete castle.  There is no facts to back this up, but it is much more fun than the rumors that usually surround campuses in Illinois.

So I propose the following:

Every game world has a Temple of Elemental Evil.  Some are decrepit and decayed, others are active and strong, and others still are only just starting.  The main feature of these is that all are connected.  They can be combined together across time and space to form a giant Temple and Cathedral of Elemental Evil.

For locations, I went to the experts online.
They have given me some good ideas. I didn't go to Eberron or Dark Sun since I know very little about either world other than the most basic basics.  I figure they have them as well.

For maps, it will be easy.  I can grab one from the T1-4 Supermodule for each world. I can also grab an absolute ton of material from the Princes of the Apocalypse.  Appendix C of PotA gives me plenty of ideas of different loacations and backgrounds for the Temple in various game worlds too.



Heroes of the Three Worlds will have to come together to defeat evil and face the ultimate evil in Tharizdûn.

It's gonna be epic!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Eclavdra, D&D Beyond test and stats

I have a big three-ring binder FULL of stuff for my upcoming D12-3/Q1 adventures.  I have been wanting to do this for years and I am very excited.

To that end, I have been prepping on various fronts.  Here are the fruits of some of that labor.

As you might remember I signed up for D&D Beyond.  I am in for the whole deal, the books the builder all of it.  So I have been trying out different sorts of characters to get a feel for what works.

So far I find it superior to the builders I used for 3e and 4e from WotC but not quite as flexible as Hero Lab.  But for D&D 5 with all the content at my finger tips is great.  The HUGE plus for me is the ability to do it all on my Chromebook, switch to my Windows PC or laptop, switch to my phone or tablet or even use my Ubuntu Linux Frankencomputer.   For me, that is the best selling point.  I use too many different technologies that are cross compatible now, I expect that in the tech I use for fun as well.  While working on characters for this post I moved seamlessly between my Chromebook and Android phone.  I have not tried it on an iPad yet.

So far I have only used the character builder and the ability to look up material.   There is a lot here and I have to admit I get a kick anytime a bit of art from 3e and 4e pops up.

Eclavdra
I figure what better to test out this tool and to prep for my "Against the Drow" adventures is to stat up a new version of the classic Drow High Priestess Eclavdra.
Note: This is not going to be a "Power Score" like retrospective like +Sean McG does.  He does a far better job at that than I can do.



We get very little about her in the pages of G3. She is a Drow High Priestess of Lolth. She has some fighter ability and she is also serving the Elder Elemental Eye/Elder Elemental God/Tharizdûn.  +Joseph Bloch would know more and has likely talked about it a lot on his blog.
I have seen 3rd and 4th edition stats for her and I know I have 2nd ed stats for her somewhere.
I was hoping that the recent Tales from the Yawning Portal would have something more "5e-ish" for her, but other than some neat art (above) and a mention, nothing.  Not even the basic stats we got in the original G3.

Last year I talked about Eclavdra when I was getting ready to run the Giants series. I noted then that she was listed as:

Eclavdra (10th level cleric/fighter; H.P.: 60, Wisdom 17, Dexterity 18, Constitution 10, Charisma 18; Armor Class -8 = +3 shield, +5 chainmail, and +4 dexterity bonus).

So I started with that and compared it to the 4e stats I had at hand.



 I know I wanted to change her around a bit, keep her levels of Cleric but instead of Fighter, I gave her 4 levels of a Blade Pact Warlock of Tharizdûn.  I used some feats to also round out her fighting ability and I am very pleased with what I came up with.


A couple of things.  AD&D had lower ability scores but more powerful magic items.  This Eclavdra has greater Charisma and Wisdom, but she is unlikely to have a magic +5 anything.  So her 5e Armor Class of 16 seems weak compared to her AD&D AC of -8.  I might make her elven chain a little more powerful.

I am limited to the items in the software; that is until I make some more myself to use.  Good candidates here are +3 Elven Chain and her Tentacle Rod (not in the software or her sheets just yet).
But all in all I am pleased.  Like I mentioned above the ability to go back and forth on the platforms I use all the time appeals to me.  The phone version is also not too bad. I created a complete character on my phone with no difficulty.



If you want to check her out for yourself here is the PDF output the builder gives you.

Eclavdra, D&D Beyond Sheet.

It might not be perfect, but it is pretty good.

Most of the nitpicks I have with it are rule interpretations that I thought I had known.  So before I call them "bugs" I want to recheck my rulebook.

Is it worth the price tag?  Yeah, for me it is, but we are playing a lot of D&D 5 in this house these days.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review: Module G123 Against the Giants

Want to get some more reviews in.  I figure since we just finished this one it was a great choice.

G123 Against the Giants

Getting to play AD&D at the height of its popularity was one of the best things about growing up in the 80s.  Even living in a small town in Central Illinois there were multiple, independent D&D groups going on everywhere.  It was not uncommon to hear talk of an adventure, or a rules debate or anything else.  One of the adventures that everyone seemed to be playing was the Against the Giants series.

Talk of Ombi, King Snurre Ironbelly, and Eclavdra were not daily topics of conversation, but they were common enough that there was a shared set of experiences. It was something we all could relate too and talk about even when we knew those other groups were playing it all "wrong"!  It is no surprise then that G1-3 have been ranked as some of the greatest *D&D adventures of all time and have been updated for every version of the D&D rules since it was published back in 1978 (and combined in 1981).

The Giants series began as three individual adventures. They were run as part of the AD&D Tournament at Origins '78.  When later released they became the first ever published adventures for the then new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) game.  Each adventure dealt with raids from a different race of giants; Hill, Frost and Fire respectively. They were aided by other giants and giant type creatures including ogres, stone giants and even a couple of white dragons in G2.  But what really grabbed the attention of many players, and certainly this player, was the big reveal that the masterminds behind these giant raids were none other than the Drow; evil, dark elves that lived underground.  This elevated the adventure from mere dungeon crawl and searching in giant's bags to a conspiracy.  The giant-Drow alliance became Evil with a capital E.

The giants themselves were new-ish monsters then.  Giants had appeared in the Original D&D rules, but all six races were "detailed" in a paragraph.  In the (then new) Monster Manual for AD&D 1st Edition giants were given significantly more space and more details.  It would be difficult to say which really came first, but we do know that Gygax worked on and published the Monster Manual before the Giants series came out.  Notes from one certainly could have influenced the other.
What of the adventures themselves?  I had the chance to play this as a player way back in the early 80s.  So my memories of it are quite fond. So fond in fact that I also ran this adventure with my sons as the players and using the newest edition of the D&D rules.  My experiences playing under 1st Edition AD&D compare very favorably to my experiences running it under 5th Edition D&D nearly 40 years later.


The 32-page combined adventure splits into three easy parts that represent the three original modules.

G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief
Here the characters and the players are introduced to the World of Greyhawk, or at least this small section of it.  They learn that giants of various types have been raiding the local villages and the character have been pressed into doing something about it.  Now the original modules put a threat into the characters to investigate, I find that by appealing to their higher moral codes and motives (and the ability to keep all the treasure) works so much better.

Soon the Steading of Hill Giant Chief Nostra is discovered and even a party of 9th+ level adventurers will soon discover that bigger often does mean better.  Giants, even Hill Giants, are not dumb monsters. They are not bigger orcs or ogres with more hit points.  This is their home and they will defend it.  I am quite impressed anytime I think about how this was run as a tournament.   It took me many sessions to get through all three and when I reran for my kids at Gen Con I had wanted to do each one a different night.  Didn't happen that way.  This adventure requires the players to plan, to hit hard and then run away.  Many times they would send in the assassin to take out a giant and then follow it up with a barrage of magic from a distance.  Combat can honestly be a slog here.  But the action is often very fast paced.  There is a lot going on.



This adventure shares a lot in common with its sibling B1 Keep on the Borderlands. While designed for two different versions of the D&D game, there are similarities that should not be ignored. In fact, I would like to think that they are there on purpose.  Each represents a "beginner" view of dungeon crawling, but the Giants adventures, if you pardon the pun, get more advanced.
This adventure gives only our first clues to the larger conspiracy, namely that the Hill Giants are taking direction from Giants, quite literally further up.  Completing this adventure only leads the characters to the Frost Giants.

G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
Going further up the mountains we get the first hints of how the AD&D game is different than the D&D one.  We now have rules for cold and the wind and most importantly getting lost in the snow.  Like the Hill Giants before, some sections are left to the Dungeon Master to detail.  This is partly due to the desire for a sandbox style play and largely due to the tournament origins of these adventures.

Again in this adventure planning is required. The characters cannot just rush in blindly and hope to overwhelm these creatures.  In fact, assuming they are mere "monsters" is a good way to get killed fast.  The  Dungeon Master is encouraged to play these giants as the personages they are. Sure, Guard #4 in area 19 might not have a name, but he does have a purpose.  Even the white dragon has a purpose.  I could not help but think that the white dragon cloak worn by Snurre had not been one of the Frost Giant Jarl's dragons.  In fact I hope it was. Their haltered of each other is overridden by the fear they feel at the hands of the drow. How powerful are these dark elves?

In this adventure, it should become obvious that much more is going on than raids and attacks of opportunity. There is a force uniting these giant clans and directing to grim purpose.

G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King
Here the conspiracy is laid bare and the character will discover what and who is directing the Giants. But first they must survive a live and active volcano.  The walls, for example, are hot to the touch. How hot? Try 2d6 hp damage per touch hot.  The giants here are smart and coordinated by a strong King. They will lay traps and ambushes for the party. They will try to stop them at every turn.  This adventure is not only significantly deadlier than the other two, it is also about 50% longer.  Not only do the players have coordinated giant attacks to deal with, burning walls and King Snurre himself but also hiding out on level 3 are the drow.   For many players back in the day this was their first introduction to the dark elves.  I liken it to the big reveal that Romulans were related to the Vulcans in the original series of Star Trek's The Balance of Terror.  It is something in our post-Drizzt world that we have lost.
Here the Drow are discovered to be pulling the strings, but we don't yet know why.  We do that they are lead by a High Priestess, an unearthly beautiful drow by the name of Eclavdra. She is no monster, but an NPC worthy of her own motives, desires and schemes.
In the last time I ran this adventure my kids figured out right away that they needed to take out the King in order to not die right away. So they hunted Snurre down.  With him out of the way the other fire giants lost their direction and were much easier to defeat.   The red dragon and the drow though were still a problem.  They managed to kill all but two; Eclavdra and her enchanter.   The characters were last seen chasing the drow down to the Depths of the Earth to complete the next series of adventures.

While the books are small, the adventures take a while to run.  The combats can be long and the characters really should take the time to explore every inch of the three giant strongholds.  There is more treasure here than any group of characters need but also there are plenty of prisoners to free and some have information on what is going on.

There had been D&D adventures before this, but this was the first epic.

Legacy
There are good reasons why we are still talking about these adventures today nearly 40 years later.

Some of it, of course, is just good old-fashioned nostalgia.  People loved these adventures then and now they want to share that love with new players today.  That is exactly what I did and there is no shame in admitting it.  But the reason why people loved them is also the reason why they stand the test of time. The adventures are just plain good.  These adventures combined a lot of things that people loved; great locations and sandbox-like play. Iconic and classic monsters mixed with new ones. Not mention an engaging story with memorable NPCs.  When gamers wax nostalgic over adventures like Tomb of Horrors, they think of things like the traps or character deaths.  In the Giants series they also mention things, like the Hill Giant Chief's dining hall, but also they remember names, like I mentioned above; Ombi, Snurre, Eclavdra.  When I played this back in the 80s Ombi nearly killed my whole party.  I survived all these giants just to be killed by a Dwarf with some potions and magic item. Well that and a DM that knew how to make a character memorable.  Imagine my shock and surprise when my kids plan and take out Ombi in two rounds!

This adventure also shaped much of what would become D&D's own mythology.  Giants of any sort working together soon became shorthand for bad news.  The drow, scantly described here, would go on to become one of the most infamous humanoids in all of the D&D worlds. Their underground city, only hinted at here, would be the template for nearly every Drow-realted product written in the late 80s and beyond to the present day.  G123 is not just the seed, it is also the fertile earth of much of what would become recognizable as "D&D".

TSR and then later Wizards of the Coast would go back to the Giants again and again. In 1987 TSR combined the G series with its sequels the D and Q modules for GDQ Queen of Spiders, one of the first Supermodules.  In 1999 they were reprinted and expanded again for the 2nd Edition of the AD&D game in Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff.  In 2009 Wizards of the Coast released Revenge of the Giants for the 4th Edition D&D game.   For the 5th Edition game Wizards of the Coast went back not once, but twice, to giant country with Storm King's Thunder (2016) and Tales from the Yawning Portal (2017). Storm King is more a spiritual successor to the original Giants series, but G123's DNA is all over it.  Tales from the Yawning Portal is a direct reprint of the original Giants adventures but updated to the new D&D 5th Edition rules with new full-color maps and art.  It has lost none of the punch of the original.




Not only have there been official Giant-related products from TSR and Wizards over the years, other publishers got into Giant business.  Notably there is a "missing" set of giants from these adventures; the Cloud Giants. I went to track down a cloud giant based adventure to slot in and easily found 4-5 all based on Cloud Giants. Actually, most of them dealt with a Cloud Giant castle.




Think about it, what was one of the first stories you remember hearing as a child? Jack in the Beanstalk might have been one of the very first.  The giant living in his castle in the clouds with a goose that lays golden eggs and a harp that sings on its own.  Think of the stories from our shared consciousness.  Giants living the mountains, David fighting Goliath, Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Giant's Causeway, the Frost Giants of Norse myth, the Titans of Greek myth, to Attack on Titan, and so many, many more.   These are the tales we tell. Tales from antiquity to last week's Game of Thrones.  It should then be no wonder why these adventures speak to us and call to us to join the battle.

Monday, August 21, 2017

D&D Beyond

I signed up for D&D Beyond this morning.



I pretty much knew I was going to sign up anyway, but gaming over the weekend convinced me.

Currently, I am running two D&D 5 games, the Come Endless Darkness game and The Second Campaign.  Eventually, I am going to get my aborted 4e game converted over to 5e and I'll get that going too, tentatively called Into the Nentir Vale.

My son is also running games. A D&D 5 game with his friends,  the same adventures (with different characters) with my youngest son and his friends (average age 14) AND the occasional one we take turns running for his cousins (aged 13 to 22).



So six D&D 5 games with about 40 characters total.
To say we have lost some sheets here and there is an understatement.  To say we need to be able to access our materials in a bunch of different places is also pretty clear.

So I pulled the trigger this morning and got a DM's Subscription and picked up the three core books.

I know there has been a lot of complaining online about the price.
For me, the price compared to what I get was worth it. I was a fan of the 4e character builder and I used it quite a lot.   When Beyond was in Beta I also used it a lot.  So far I am pleased with my purchase so far.

Are there cheaper tools? Of course.
Are there better tools? Maybe.
Are there tools that do everything that Beyond does? None that I know of.

So I'll be sharing my thoughts on this tool over the next few days.  Need to load about 3 dozen characters into it now.

Anyone else using this?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Weekend Gaming: The Giants Fall

Today the Order of the Platinum Dragon completed their quest to stop the giants.  With King Snuure and his wives defeated, rounding up the rest was easier to do.  Including getting rid of a bunch of giant fire beetles and some red dragons.



Though the brave heroes did not count on the drow on the third level.  They took out many of their elite fighters, but a mysterious drow priestess and her wizard attendant got away.


A satisfying end to an adventure that began at Gen Con last year.

Now it is time for the heroes to descend into the depth of the earth!


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