Monday, July 19, 2021

DM Report of Play: Into the Northwest!

 A quick session on Sunday was a ton of fun. The players and characters were:

Jack - Lenard, 4th level nobleman

Sam - Ludwig, 4th level nobleman

Nick - Akira, 7th level monk

Theo - Sir Dredd, 5th level fighter

Daniel - Sanguinius, 5th level cleric

Henchmen - a religious brother, a hedge mage, a bushi, an wu-jen/ninja, and a man-at-arms, all 3rd level

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Patron-only Blog Post Up

   Just an FYI, I lost my day job to layoffs (based on supply chain issues) so I am gently reminding people of my Patreon.

  And adding more value to it, of course. Podcasts will come back to the Patreon page, too.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

One Heck of a Side Mission

   Last night three players set out to check on side effects of the destruction of the Deep Altar as well as scout the top levels of Skull Mountain. It was pitched as a 'short little scout in force'.

Jack played Seeker and Seeker's henchmen

Sam played Conrad and his many henchmen

Nick played Anarawn, who can't have henchmen yet

Both Anarawn and Conrad had never been to the mountain before.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Midsummer at Skull Mountain

   It's that time again! The players prepared for Midsummer and sent in a pretty serious team of PCs.

Jack played Seeker, a 7/7 Mage/Thief. He brought two henchmen

Alex played Starfalcon, a 6th level elf ranger

Jennifer played Ingrid, a 7th level fighter. She brought two henchmen.

Nick played Talner, a 7th level cleric. he brought two henchmen.

Sam played Clint, a 6th level paladin. He brought 5 henchmen.

Sam also began play with Clarence, a 6th/6th fighter/ninja. he brought one henchman.

Seeker had his 4 heavy crossbowmen and 4 heavy footmen from his level. The other players combined added 8 more heavy brossbowmen and 8 more heavy footmen as well as a cook, a healer, and a valet.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Review: 'The Paths of Cormanor' by Jim Breyfogle

    I was very lucky and was able to get a review copy of Jim Breyfogle's book Paths of Cormanor last week. I read it as an ebook formatted for iBooks.

The Technical and Such: The ebook layout was far superior to the majority with good, crisp fonts and text, a nice layout, proper use of various textual cues, and top-notch editing. If there was a spelling or grammar error, I missed it. The team of writer-copyeditor-editor-layout did a fine job and I was actually impressed with an ebook's composition!

The Plot and Such: Breyfogle did a fine job by keeping the plot very simple and straightforward. This does not mean the characters don't face mysteries or quandaries, it does not mean it is predictable, and it does not mean it is not entertaining. he just understands that a simple plot combined with good pacing and good writing makes a great story.

  The characters were well-drawn and engaging and had a verisimilitude that I find lacking in a lot of contemporary fiction. There were even understandable motivations driving the errors made by the various characters, another thing that seems rare these days. Even minor characters were well-defined.

  The setting was well-crafted and built by hints and implications rather than a data dump. The magic within the book was very, very far from World of Warcraft and retained a sense of wonder rather than a sense of level grinding.

  The worldbuilding was subtle rather than ham-handed and very engaging. I liked the strong sense of a German/Polish/Russian culture that was not intrusive.

The Review: The book is quite good and I heartily recommend it. Although Breyfogle's writing style is different the setting and story reminded me of Vance and Lyonesse while the action was akin to Burroughs in A Fighting Man of Mars. It has been some time since I enjoyed a fantasy novel as much as I did this one, and that book was over 50 years old!

  I can't wait to read his next book.

Monday, June 21, 2021


   We started this session in May and finished it over Father's day weekend, which just passed.

  The Players:

  Jack- Athanasius, 6th level Cleric

  Jennifer- Ingrid, 6th level fighter

  Alex- Seeker, 8th level thief

  Sam- Graystar, 6th level wizard

  Nick- Akira, the Man with the Eldritch Fists, 6th level monk

  Theo- Sir Dread, 5th level Fighter (hologram of his first character)

  Henchmen- only 6, but includes a paladin, a monk, and a 6th level Religious Brother

The Setup:

The Company of the Dark Moon has been tasked with occupying Whitehill's Castle to prevent it from falling into enemy hands and to begin patrolling the wild, lawless areas south of the capitol city. There had been scattered settlements in the past, but in the time since the death of Whitehill and the Scouring of the Treacher's Way more people have moved into thearea. 

  The Company only patrols along the road that stretches from the Fords of the White River to the ruins of Pirateport and within about 8-10 miles of the fortress proper. Scouts and rumors reported that there was a witch in the areas south of the road and west of the patrols and that, worse, livestock and people were starting to vanish in the same area. A group of Company members saddles up and set out


  The growth of small 2-3 family thorps with rough palisades in the area startled the PCs a little bit. There were many reasons: the open areas near the Briars were, well - near the Briars; the lands around Wyvern Keep were first in line if the orcs ever went to war again; the places near Eastport were also subject to raids and war. With the Company and Whitehill's Castle the area was seen as a great place for 2nd and 3rd sons to get a plot of land large enough to live well.

  The party spent the night in the barn of a young family (the religious brother baptized their newborn daughter) and learned that the farmer had seen the threats - dragons! Not very big and obviously not very old, a pair of red dragons were starting to prey on the new locals.

  The big shock was finding the witch. She was a skilled hedge mage! She and her husband, a retired city guard, had settled here in hopes of a living as the local wise woman. The shock was they had moved into one of the lairs of the Red Maiden! It was a stone house with the outside carved and painted to look like a gingerbread house. With the Red Maiden's illusions it must have been a deadly place for wanderers.

  While speaking with the pair Athanasius checked for magic and the party soon realized that the husband of the hedge mage was charmed! With a Dispel and some questioning he'd been surprised in the forest and one of the dragons had charmed him. When he had gone for water he had warned the dragons of adventurers via a lantern. The party and the couple fled for their lives.

  They were able to evade the pair of dragons, but the stone hut of the Red Maiden was destroyed. The couple left for Adrian to rethink and the party went on.

  Soon they found the lair, another old bolt-hole of the Red Maiden., in the Graywal Mountains. The entrance was a 60' diameter tunnel stretching 300'+ into the granite then opening into an enormous cavern divided into two sections - the front section was level with the tunnel, the rear half was essentially a massive ledge 180' up a steep slope. In the ceiling's highest point was a natural gas vent that was alight, fulling the entire space with an eerie, dim, flickering, bluish light.

  Graystar's Clairvoyance spell confirmed that both dragons were asleep! The party carefully and quietly crept into the cavern. Akira clambered up the sloped and pulled the rest up with ropes. The two dragons, each with a separate sleeping hoard, were about 200' from each other, the largest in the back. The plan was to attempt to kill the small one in its sleep and then deal with the larger, hoping the loss of the smaller would make it easier to parley or subdue.

  The party attacked and through planning and the luck killed the first one in it's sleep. Carefully following all the AD&D 1e rules, the other remained snoozing. They quietly shuffled over to the bigger one and - also killed it in one round before it awoke, a stunning feat. Theo got a round of applause because his first two combat rolls were both 19's and his first two damage rolls were 1 off max and then max damage.

  The party really worked hard and the encounter was much more intense than this summary can convey including the monk rolling a 02 for danger sense, barely avoiding setting off an Alarm spell that would have awoken the big dragon when the party was too far away to charge and too close to flee.

The Loot:

  The gold and such was good, but a bit below what was expected. The magic items were a bit better and included a Cube of Force! The treasure had a surprising number of traps and tricks and the party decided to carefully examine the cavern, eventually finding a large (10' x 12') secret door that opened to a tunnel heading south-southwest along the mountains. The door had the entrance to Skull Mountain on the inner face.

  There was also a huge scroll, the size of a king mattress, to the dragons from their sire, the dragon of Caerfadch Daw, giving them the rules he expected them to follow. The points that stuck out to the PCs were that he got all gnomes and that the two dragons were to 'obey the treaty with the men from Skull Tunnel'.

  When Sam had Graystar read the letter he specifically folded up the bottom of the scroll and said,

"I will not read the signature, at all."

He then gave it to Athanasius who said,

"You know what? I cast Dispel Magic on it."

  My notes on the scroll? 'Anyone reading the signature must save vs Spell or be Charmed by Tyraxus unless the scroll is Dispelled.'

  That's right, they dodged it. They also learned that Tyraxus, the dragon from Caerfadch Daw, is a powerful mage, too.


  Then, in a bit I did not expect, Athanasius and Ingrid used spells and potions to fly up to and through the jet of fire in the ceiling - and found a tunnel. A tunnel I hid in 1983 and no one else has ever found. Following it they eventually entered a room high on the cliffs of the mountain they were in. The room was a semaphore station with one set aimed to and from the closest island in the Demon's Tears, aother aimed at a mountain further west, and the third aimed at the ferry crossing where the Adrian and Freshet Rivers meet.


  Every character and henchman leveled up, many to the edge of domain play. This led to a wonderful 3 hours talk over dinner about the domain game, the frontier of Seaward, Seaward's history, and PC plans that I wish I had recorded as a podcast. 

  The summary, though, is that the players expect 2-5 characters to enter the domain game within the year and are starting to prepare for that level of play

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

 One of the things Gary emphasized most strongly in the DMG was time records have to be kept. And they must be accurate.

He was correct, of course.

But why? and what does this mean?