All the table shots

Here is a page where all it has are photos of our gaming table usually when we had to pause the game because we ran out of time (the 1.5 hours session is up, for example).

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Back to Basic

After a couple of sessions running fifth edition D&D (5e), I’ve come to realise that although Wizards of the Coast did a pretty good job at simplifying this latest incarnation of D&D, it still has a lot of tiny moving parts. Too many moving parts, in my opinion, as compared to Classic D&D.

Sure, old school D&D has a few subsystems for different tasks instead of the one unified 1d20 + modifier rule, but they really are just about two handfuls of rules to learn and then that’s it. With 5e, I feel like it’s a death from a thousand cuts as the dungeon master (DM).

It doesn’t feel like that much rules at the beginning but I could see that as the players level up and they start to get more features, I’d have to put forth challenges and creatures with just as many features for me to learn and run. I probably wouldn’t mind the overhead when I was younger but these days, I don’t have lots of free time after work to figure out challenge ratings and read up on rules and all that adventure prep.

In the end, I asked the players if it’s okay to go back to using Basic Fantasy RPG and they were fine with that. Thankfully.

And so I’ve converted their characters back except for Lavandes and Elfred. I’ve converted Elfred from cleric to ranger to multi-classed fighter/magic-user. For Lavandes, I’ve allowed her to stay as Druid using the supplemental rules for druids.

I also started to look for a new character sheet to use but couldn’t find a form-fillable one I liked. In the end, I liked the 5e character sheet so much that I ended up modifying it a little and used that as our BFRPG character sheet!

I kept the background stuff because I think that helps guide my players as to who their characters are. I also kept the two axis alignment more as a reminder of their character’s moral code. Just for flavour.

If you want to check out the converted sheets for the Guardians group, you can find them here: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AnJOWypFepGXxVsVvOOmWaLbcQhs

The Guardians — Episode 20: Into the darkness

Elfred caught the boat just before it got washed away by the strong current below

This is our second session after we’ve converted to D&D 5e, and our last.

I mean, after this session, I’ve asked my players if it was ok with them if I convert everybody back to Basic Fantasy RPG. Thankfully, they said yes. I’ll write more about this in a future post.

In the meantime, below is the session report for our twentieth session and the first session in 2018. I think we all had fun with it. There were monsters to fight but given the apparent endless supply of them, our heroes decided to focus on getting out of the caves and figuring out how they could do it given their situation.


This session’s PCs:

  • Diana – human paladin, level 3
  • Elfred – high elf ranger, level 3
  • Hermione – human wizard, level 3
  • Lavandes – high elf druid, level 3
  • Oracle – human fighter, level 3

The heroes continued to battle the zombie horde rushing in from the northern tunnel. Diana looked around and realised that the way back out was in the opposite direction. They then agreed to start stepping back from the zombies. Yobak, the goblin collector who decided to follow the group, was very relieved to leave the zombies behind.

The fighters stepped away first leaving Hermione the wizard and Lavandes the Druid in the shape of a wolf behind to fend for themselves. Hermione was able to avoid getting hit and then turned invisible. The zombies ganged up on Lavandes but she bit back and then swiftly backed away as well.

Diana stood by to make sure that everybody was safe and started shooting arrows at any approaching zombies. Oracle convinced her that it was no use trying to fight the zombies as there were just too many of them. She decided to join the rest of the group.

Hermione the Magic-user is discussing with Oracle the fighter about what they were to do next.

Thankfully the zombies didn’t move fast and the Guardians were able to outrun them easily. Unfortunately, they came upon a dead end where the cavern opens up to a ravine. They remembered being in this cavern before. There used to be a rope bridge here but they cut it down when they passed by here a few days ago. They no longer have a way to get to the other side of the cavern.

It was just as well since on the other side of the cavern standing by the cliff were walking skeletons. At that point, the skeletons weren’t paying any attention to them yet.

The only way out seems to be to go down the ravine and walk towards the west end of it where they could see light piercing the darkness in the caves. They could also hear the sound of rushing water so they suspected that there must be some sort of river or stream below. From where they stood, they couldn’t see far enough into the darkness to determine what’s below, even with the elves’ dark vision.

Elfred tied her rope to one of the posts that used to support the rope bridge and started climbing downward. Hermione reappeared and then started to levitate. Diana guided Hermione’s floating person to the cliff. From there, Hermione started pulling herself down into the ravine’s depths.

Oracle looked at the cave structure and felt that smashing the nearby rocks could possibly cause the tunnel where they came from to collapse. With that, he started hitting the sides of the cave with his hammer with all his might. It seemed to be working.

From a distance, they could overhear one of the undead shouting commands at the others to get out of his way. It was not an ordinary zombie. It was possibly a wight. Eventually, the wight was able to stand beside Oracle. He shouted at the skeletons at the other end of the chasm to start shooting at the heroes. The wight then slashed his longsword at Oracle multiple times.

The wight slashed Oracle in the arm but then Oracle ducked away from the wight’s second strike. The wight accidentally hit the tunnel wall that Oracle was working on and caused a chain reaction that collapsed the tunnel where the zombies were.

Lavandes changed back into her normal elf form and cast a Heat Metal spell at the wight’s sword but to no apparent effect.

The skeletons on the other side started shooting their arrows. Arrows rained on the heroes wounding some of them but most of the arrows missed.

Elfred eventually reached the end of her rope and could still not see the bottom of the ravine. She needed more rope. Lavandes threw her rope to Diana and then Diana dropped the rope to Elfred. Elfred then tied that rope to the end of her rope which allowed her to descend further down.

She saw that the bottom of the ravine was raging rapids. She suspects that diving into it could prove fatal for them. With the armour and equipment they were carrying, they would just drown if they go in. She shouted back to the group what she saw. They needed some sort of boat.

It was unfortunate that they didn’t buy the box that magically unfolded into a boat from Yobak the collector earlier. Fortunately, Yobak was actually with them and had brought with him the magical folding boat. Yobak volunteered that he had the boat but he wanted to sell it to them. They all struck a deal that they could all use the boat if Yobak could join them and that they would owe Yobak.

To activate the boat, it needed Yobak to say a magic word. So not only do they need to bring the box to the bottom along with Yobak. They agreed to have Yobak hand the box to Hermione and then Yobak climb on Hermione’s back. Then Hermione will pull them slowly to the bottom of the ravine as she continued to levitate.

The skeletons shot arrows at the heroes again. One of the arrows nearly struck the Yobak dead. Hermione saw the arrow flying and decided to turn quickly and take the arrow painfully on her right arm instead. She told the “gremlin” to remember this moment. The “gremlin” reminded her that his name was “Yobak”!

At the bottom of the ravine, Hermione threw the box at the water as Yobak shouted the magic word that unfolded the boat on the water. Elfred then quickly held on to the boat with one hand as she tightly gripped on the rope with her other hand. Yobak jumped into the boat and yelled at the others to come down now.

With the boat only able to hold about four medium sized people plus the goblin, Hermione will have to continue levitating and be pulled along by the boat down the rapids.

However, Lavandes, Oracle and Diana were all still at the top of the ravine fighting off the wight and fending themselves from the rain of arrows from the other side of the cavern.

Will they all be able to make it out in one piece? To be continued.

House rules – revised for 2018

After over a year of running two separate campaigns with Basic Fantasy RPG, I’ve decided to change the house rules I use around character classes based on what I’ve seen in play.

Now that I’ve decided that I will no longer run D&D 5e and had to convert my players’ characters back to BFRPG, I want to make sure extra sure that my players will be happy with their characters, especially those who are fighters.


On top of the normal benefits a character gets for his/her class, I have additional Class benefits for the PCs.

Fighter

Pick one special skill at levels 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18.

  • Heavy hitter:
    • Rank 1: Do +2 melee damage but get -1 to initiative.
    • Rank 2: Do +2 melee damage but no initiative penalty.
  • Weapon Mastery (chose weapon):
    • Rank 1: Gain +1 to hit and +1 damage with a chosen weapon type (chose upon picking this option)
    • Rank 2: For the same weapon in Rank 1, gain +2 to hit and +1 damage.
    • Rank 3: For the same weapon in Rank 2, gain +2 to hit and +2 damage and increase attack rate (the original rate of fire of 1 per 2 rounds becomes 1 per round; 1 per round becomes 2 per round; and 2 per round becomes 3 per round).
  • Swashbuckler:
    • Rank 1: Gain +1 AC when wearing chain mail, lighter armor or no armor.
    • Rank 2: Gain +2 AC when wearing chain mail, lighter armor or no armor. Also gain an AC bonus equal to your Strength modifier.
    • Rank 3: Gain +3 AC when wearing chain mail, lighter armor or no armor. Also gain an AC bonus equal to your Strength modifier and any attack bonuses due to held weapon’s magical attack bonuses.

Magic-user

  • Arcane Blast: This is a bolt of raw magic. To avoid getting hit, the target rolls a save vs. magic wands with a penalty equal to the caster’s Intelligence modifier. The bolt has a range of 30 feet and does 1d4 magic damage. Since it is pure magic, it will affect creatures which are only affected by magical weapons, but does not affect inanimate objects.
  • Cast Cantrips (Minor Magic): Magic-users are allowed to cast everyday magic at will. This is usable once per round if no other action taken. This ability is for non-combat use only. Attempting something abusive fails automatically. Abusive uses include pickpocket attempts, combat effects, etc.
  • Read Magic: Can be cast at will. No spell slot is required and it’s automatically known.
  • Spell Bonus based on Intelligence:
    • 13 to 15: +1 Level 1 spell
    • 16 to 17: +2 Level 1 spells
    • 18 above: +2 Level 1 spells and +1 Level 2 spell

Cleric

  • Spell Bonus based on Wisdom:
    • 13 to 15: +1 Level 1 spell
    • 16 to 17: +2 Level 1 spells
    • 18 above: +2 Level 1 spells and +1 Level 2 spell

Thief

  • Hit Dice of 1d6: Instead of 1d4.
  • Racial bonus to skills:
    • Dwarf: pick pockets +5, remove traps +5, listen +5, climb -10.
    • Elf: open locks -5, remove traps -5, move silently +5, hide +5, listen +5.
    • Halfling: pick pockets +5, move silently +5, hide +5, listen +5, climb -15.
  • Ability score bonus (5% per +1 modifier):
    • Dexterity: open locks, pick pockets, move silently.
    • Intelligence: remove traps, hide.
    • Wisdom: listen.
    • Strength: climb.
  • Knife Fighting: Cause 1d6 damage with daggers, knives, dirks, stilettos and similar weapons that normally deal only 1d4 damage.

The Guardians – Episode 19: Checkout time

This is my first ever game of D&D 5e. We’ve just migrated the existing characters of our Basic Fantasy RPG campaign to D&D 5e. I like it. I hope my players like the system too.

It’s relatively easy to run. Although I have all three core rule books, I intentionally narrowed down the scope of the game down to only what’s in the free Basic Rules plus whatever is in the free SRD. This way, my players can easily access any of that information even if they didn’t buy any of the books.

Creating level 3 characters from scratch is a bit more time consuming in 5e over classic D&D but it does a better job at finishing character creation with a PC that has background and personality all sorted. It definitely encourages new players to think of their PCs as actual living breathing characters and not just a bunch of stats.

The other good thing about it is that there are now more player options and these options are not necessarily that complex. The description for each feature tends to be described in one or two short paragraphs. It’s so easy to just have the player read out loud the description so that we both know what it does during play.

Switching to a more modern version of D&D, I was worried combats would be slower. It turned out that it’s pretty much the same speed, but with more stuff to do. I think this translates to more fun at the table. I’ll have to watch this more closely over a few more sessions though. My worry is that too many options could overwhelm the players.

Anyway, I actually feel happy with 5e. I think it’s what I wanted D&D to be but now I don’t have to use Classic D&D and home brew it to the nth degree. 5e already does what I want out of the box.

Plus the community/fan support for the game is pretty awesome. I now have access to awesome online and app tools that can help me prepare and run games that I never had before.

I think I might convert my other campaign to 5e too.

Anyway, here is the actual recap of our session…


This session’s PCs:

  • Diana – human paladin, level 3
  • Elfred – high elf ranger, level 3
  • Fredo – stout halfling rogue, level 3
  • Hermione – human wizard, level 3
  • Lavandes – high elf druid, level 3
  • Oracle – human fighter, level 3

The heroes have spent a couple of days at the underground goblin settlement where the weaker goblins managed to escape to before the Lich Kranis Volan has destroyed their main lair and killed their goblin king. They were waiting for the shaman to return so that they could enquire about the phylactery.

Looking around town, they dropped by the smith’s forge to see if there were weapons or arms worth buying. There was nothing of interest so they went to another shop that sells potions.

The old balding goblin was a collector of interesting items and went by the name of Yobak. He tried to sell them a few things including a folding boat, a wand of the war mage and an immobilesed rod. In the end Hermione purchased the wand whilst Elfred got a magical Dagger (+1).

As they stepped back outside of Yobak’s place, they heard a commotion. The shaman had returned and he was gravely injured. The goblins brought him into his own hut in a stretcher and laid him in bed.

The heroes came into the hut with Charuk, the goblin boss of the settlement. The shaman weakly opened his eyes and saw the tall people and nodded at them.

They had lots of questions for the shaman. His party was ambushed by the undead and he was the only survivor. The shaman handed them the phylactery. It was a shiny box made of black stone. He told them that they needed to bring the box to the Hellmouth and throw it into the fiery lake within it. He told them that the Hellmouth is a gateway to Hell and the closest one lies sealed under the Town of Landseal, their hometown.

Charuk wanted them to leave the caves and go straight back to Landseal as soon as they could and destroy the phylactery. For all of their sakes.

Outside, the guards yelled that the undead had found them. One of the goblins in the hut murmured that the old fool had led the undead straight to them.

The heroes went back up the narrow passage that they used to get to the goblin lair days ago while the goblins prepared themselves to defend the settlement from the onslaught of undead.

As the heroes climbed up the passage, they could hear the sounds of screaming, clanking metal and burning behind them. Yobak, fearful for his life, followed the group. All he had was a sack of his belongings and he gave the group a healing potion each so that he could join them in their escape.

Once they were back in the main tunnel above, they could hear the faint screeching and moaning sound of the undead echoing along the walls. They were faced with a decision: go left back to the surface in the direction from where they had come from originally or go right into unknown territory.

They chose to go right. Immediately, they saw three skeletons brandishing short swords coming right at them. Everybody braced for a fight. Hermione cast a protection spell, Lavandes changed into a wolf, Fredo leapt forward, Elfred, Oracle and Diana readied themselves.

They engaged the skeletons. Hermione cast a thunderwave spell that pushed back one skeleton. Lavandes bit on one of the skeletons and pulled it to the ground. Elfred shot fire bolts at the skeletons. Fredo struck with his dagger and shortsword. Diana shot with her longbow. Oracle swung with his magical longsword.

Soon, all three skeletons were defeated.

Unfortunately, a second wave of undead was approaching with a wight at the lead. The heroes engaged the undead force again. As they came closer to the undead to attack them, they realised that there are a lot more of them coming toward them. If they do not move soon, the undead will overrun them.

Would the heroes press with the attack? Would they turn around and try to leave the caves?

To be continued…

The Dragonslayers – Session 6: Let’s keep the book

This session’s PCs:

  • Alistair – male human magic-user, level 3
  • Beka – female elf fighter, level 4
  • Chichi – female halfling thief, level 5
  • Elrond – male elf magic-user, level 4
  • Gambit – female elf fighter, level 4
  • Goldmoon – female human cleric, level 4
  • Pedro – male human fighter, level 4

The Dragonslayers arrived in the town of Erstone where they were reunited with the rest of the group. They met up in the tavern to discuss what to do with the Book of Making. Elrond took a moment to study the book and was reminded of his early education in magic.

The Book of Making was a book present at the moment of Creation wherein an angel inscribed the events that led to the Creation of everything. After some time, the book was lost and then was found by someone who became the First Magi. The First Magi passed on her knowledge to her disciples and from there, more magic-users came into the world. Afraid that the book could fall into the wrong hands, the First Magi and her disciples have placed protective spells on it, locked the book shut and hid it away.

Chichi attempted to unlock the padlock on the book again but she failed and was jolted by dark energy that originated from the book. Pedro suggested they open the book by force but decided better of it.

What they have decided was that they weren’t just going to turn over the book to Kheldratus either. Elrond has suspicions as to Kheldratus’s moral alignment.

While at the tavern, Gaylord Thatcher the bard approached them about their latest escapade. They reminded him that they were no longer the Blacksmith’s Heroes but the Dragonslayers. Gaylord was pleased because this would make the stories he would sing about the group all the more epic.

When the bard sat at the corner to play some music for the people at the tavern, an old man approached the heroes asking if they were the Blacksmith’s Heroes. They clarified again that they were now known as the Dragonslayers. Anyway, he asked for their help.

The old man introduced himself as Pat. His daughter Moira and granddaughter Anna live in a miner’s village of Stonescar, six days’ walk to the north of Erstone. His daughter would send him letters every week but he had not received any in the past 2 weeks. He’s worried that something might have happened to them. He didn’t have much money but the heroes were happy to help investigate.

Before leaving town, they visited Duncan the blacksmith and upgraded their armour. Chichi handed Duncan the green dragon scales he harvested from the temple and asked him if he could make it into a leather armour. Duncan said he could do it in five days. Chichi gave him 50gp as down payment and said she’ll pay him another 50gp on pick up.

Just before setting out of town, Alistair cast Invisibility on the bag that carried the Book of Making as an additional precaution against those who might covet it. Pedro carried the huge tome as he was the strongest of the group.

While they were walking along the path through woodland forest on the way to the miners’ village of Stonescar, some of them noticed that there seemed to be shadows following them from a distance. Suddenly arrows flew out of the trees and struck some of the heroes. Combat ensued.

Photo courtesy of Mel

They spotted four elves surrounding them, hiding in the bushes. One shouted at them demanding that they surrender the Book of Making to them. The group feigned ignorance.

Chichi pounced on the nearest one and sliced him in the stomach with her dagger. Goldmoon and Pedro followed Chichi into battle but both missed the elf.

Beka closed in on another elf and stabbed him with her rapier. Gambit took a shot at the same elf but missed the elf. Unfortunately, it hit Beka instead. Elrond put one elf to sleep with his magic and Alistair shot off a magic missile and arcane blasts at another.

Eventually, three elves were down and the last one ran away. The decided not to pursue the last elf. They weren’t planning on staying put for too long.

After they’ve stripped the three elves of their valuables and tied the sleeping elf on a tree, the heroes decided to press on, in case more elves appear.

When it got dark, they set up camp at a clearing. Gambit set traps along the perimeter. Goldmoon used up all her healing to get everybody to maximum health. Alistair and Elrond studied the spellbooks they got from the fallen elves and learned new spells.

Beka volunteered to be the first watch while the rest slept around the fireplace.

Four hours later, Beka spotted a large black dog with glowing eyes in the distance. She roused Chichi, Pedro and Gambit from their sleep. She was careful not to wake up any of the spell casters to ensure they are in full energy in the morning. Chichi leapt into action. Gambit followed suit. However, Pedro was sleeping so soundly that he did not wake.

The dark creature ran toward Beka to bite her. On closer inspection, they saw that it’s a huge dog with fire gushing out of its eyes and mouth. It managed to avoid Gambit’s trap as it attacked Beka.

Beka and Chichi both struck it with their weapons. Gambit wanted to put on her armour first before engaging the black dog. She also kick Pedro in an attempt to wake him but Pedro only stirred a little and went back to sleep.

Gambit finally let loose an arrow at the dog and hit it on the shoulder. The dog snarled at her and breathed fire out toward her direction. The fire engulfed both Gambit and the sleeping Pedro who was now wide awake after being singed.

But before Gambit or Pedro could retaliate, Chichi stabbed the dog to death and the combat was over.

It stunk of rotten flesh and sulphur so they had to move it away from camp temporarily. In the morning, Elrond was able to identify it as a creature called a hellhound. It’s an extraplanar creature that shouldn’t be on their world. Why there’s one around was still a mystery.

They continued their forced march toward Stonescar village for about five days. They walked along a rocky hill to get to it. It was already dusk when they arrived and it started to gently rain. It was an abandoned small town. The wooden buildings there had been torn and burnt.

They also noticed the the tavern was all boarded up from the inside. Beka approached the tavern door and knocked. After a few moments, they heard the sound of nails being pulled as the wooden planks barring the front door were pulled away to allow them through.

Somebody hurried them inside. Once they all stepped in, they quickly began nailing the doors shut again behind them.

Inside, the tables have been turned to their sides to act as shields. There were mostly women and children in the room behind the tables and bar. There were two men with short swords and one old man behind them nailing the doors shut.

To be continued…

The Guardians – Episode 18: The old goblin lair

This session’s PCs:

  • Diana – female human fighter, level 4
  • Elfred – female elf cleric, level 4
  • Fredo – male halfling thief, level 5
  • Hermione – female human magic-user, level 4
  • Mistamojo – male human cleric, level 5
  • Mystic – female elf magic-user, level 3
  • Oracle – male human fighter, level 4
  • Rusty – male dwarf fighter, level 4

Before leaving the rope bridge, Rusty suggested that they cut the ropes enough to keep the bridge together but as soon as somebody steps on to it, it would snap and break.

Tarukbo the goblin led the heroes down a hidden narrow passageway that led to an old goblin lair deep underground.

Due to the steepness of the passageway, everybody slipped and slid down into a large mud pool. Everybody was able to jump clear of it except for Elfred, Aragorn, Hermione and Fredo.

Rusty easily pulled Elfred out of the muddy pool but Aragorn, Hermione and Fredo were stuck at the far end of it. Tarukbo told the heroes that his people will get their friends out of the pool. In the meantime, he wanted them to follow him to the boss’s home.

The goblin lair was like a village where buildings were built along the walls of a large cave. Rope bridges connected the different buildings along the wall. There was also no sunlight down there but it was illuminated by phosphorescent algae and moss that were all over the walls, ceiling and floor. Most of the goblins in the lair were women, children and old.

Boss Charuk, the late goblin king’s brother

The heroes met Charuk who was actually the Goblin King’s brother. The king was killed by the Lich when it came to their current lair near the surface. Thankfully, Charuk was able to convince the king to let him evacuate their people to the old lair in case it didn’t go the way the king planned. Charuk did not agree with freeing the Lich in the first place.

Supposedly, the shaman still has the phylactery still but he was currently unavailable. He wasn’t in the lair at that moment.

A guard interrupted their meeting to say that there were incoming skeletons. They needed to lead the skeletons inside the lair so that they could close the lair’s gate and trap the monsters inside. Then they should kill the monsters so they couldn’t report back to the Lich.

Once hidden around the entrance, they waited for the skeletons to come in. What they saw was Brioche who had come back from the dead but not quite alive. With him were two large bone golems with four arms each equipped with swords.

With the doors closed behind the undead Brioche and the bone golems, they first tried to talk sense to Brioche but he would not listen. He touched Mistamojo which weakened him. The bone golems started attacking everybody.

Mystic eventually thought that if they kill Brioche, nobody would control the bone golems anymore. So they did. With Brioche dead again, the bone golems actually just went berserk and attacked randomly.

Everybody contributed to put down the bone golems:

  • Elfred with her spiritual hammer
  • Mystic with her Web and Magic Missile
  • Oracle with his magic sword and climbing on the back of one of the golems
  • Diana with her sword (which ended up not hurting the golems)
  • Mistamojo with his mace (which ended up not hurting the golems)

With the golems were out of commission, the goblins cheered the heroes. They were invited to have dinner at the mess hall and were given two houses where they can stay.

To be continued…


Lesson learned this session:

  • Don’t let a retired player play an antagonist. If I had control over the antagonist, I would have consciously tried to go for a dramatic encounter.
  • Remember to add an environmental element that could help the PCs in combat if the direct way wasn’t working for them.
  • Design adventures dependent on player group preferences. One size does not fit all.