Thursday, March 26, 2015

Heroes of the Sword Coast (Session 3)

This session was orignally recorded 1/18/2015.

From the Journal of Lydia the Halfling


We decide to stay and rest at the inn for the day.  The next day we head out to the manor to attempt to find the Red Brand.  

After bantering with a random human child, the dragonborn found a tunnel in the side of a hill.  This was purported to lead to the Red Brand hideout.

Not long after we enter the tunnel we find a creature that was once a wizard:  a nothic, which we kill.


We search the cavern futher and find a hidden door near the back.  Inside there are two rooms and there are red cloaks in one, which we all put on.  Then we head to the other room which contains (illegible).

We exit the secret area to check another place down another tunnel.  We find a wizard's quarters, as there is plenty of magical gear around.  There is a note that says the wizard has left.

Monday, March 23, 2015

D&D Realms: Mystara - The Known World

For the record, we are talking about the Known World...the Hollow World will get it's own discussion.
The Dungeons & Dragons game has a great many settings.  More than a few of them are what we'd call "generic" style fantasy, meaning there's not really anything setting them apart from any of the other worlds.  These are what I consider to be "basic" settings, or "normal".

Sure, each of these settings has a particular flavor all its own.  For instance, Greyhawk is Greyhawk, with the oldest gaming tropes fully integrated in the customs of the land.  The Forgotten Realms are The Forgotten Realms, replete with every real-world cultural facsimile totally assimilated into the world.  Then, we also have Mystara, the often overlooked "basic" campaign setting.

So...what's so nifty about what amounts to "just another" generic fantasy setting?  Mystara is linked to the entire series of Dungeons & Dragons modules, to make it as convenient as possible for new players.  The ruleset used (Rules Cyclopedia) has some nifty things that make it different from other settings, but how to quantify this difference?

In order to keep the three "basic" campaign settings separate experiences that don't simply mesh together, it's important to consider what might have been the motivation behind each of the three worlds.  I'm no insider, but after reading most of the material I feel I can speak to this point.  The main differences between Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk and Mystara is the overall tones or themes presented in each.

Forgotten Realms is High Fantasy, Greyhawk is Dark Fantasy and Mystara is Heroic Fantasy.  Heroes in this setting, following the built-in game rules and modules, will rise up to be leaders of the realms and eventually, perhaps, ascend to join the ranks of the Immortals.  That's the sort of story arc you don't get in most games, but it's pretty much part and parcel of Mystara.  Therein lies the second difference:  Mystara's scope is grander than the other settings in that as you progress through levels, your influence on the world is reflected in the Rules Cyclopedia's systems.

The Known World is also one of the more developed worlds, as far as published products.  The Gazetteer series of supplements each focus on an area of the world and expand it greatly.  These are some of the best products TSR managed to create, and that's why they cost an arm and a leg on eBay.  In addition to expanding the game world, the rules themselves get expanded in each as well.  It's a nice touch as this provides more depth to each specific area and to the game in general.

The realms, regions and kingdoms of Mystara are unique enough as well.   Almost all cultural stereotypes of the the real world are represented in the Known World.  Vikings, Mongols, Native Americans, Anglo-Saxon Knights, Romans...the list goes on.

Magic is at a high level, as there are flying airships in the world.  Dragons appear on wandering monster lists pretty regularly in the modules.  People trade subdued dragons and Rods of Cancellation back and forth at rather low levels (I'm looking at you, Horror on the Hill), but this isn't a bad thing as far as gaming opportunities go.

One final note:  the setting gives us the most freedom to conduct warfare out of all the other settings.  Sure, there are wars on other spheres - but the conquest part of the game is already assumed in the rules, and Mystara goes out of the way to provide plenty of land ripe for your armies to fight over.  We have a huge miniature collection, and you can be sure we want to use it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Heroes of the Sword Coast (Session 2)

This session was orignally recorded 1/11/2015.

From the Journal of Lydia the Halfling


We find a human in the cave that tells us Gundran Rockseeker has been taken by the goblins to Cragmaw Castle.  We decide to take him back to the town with us.  As we head back out of the cave, we hear the sound of cracking timber and rushing water.

A flood from the stream comes rushing through the cave and washes the humans and dragonborn out toward the mouth of the cave.  They all seem to be hurt badly.  The rest of the group rushes forward to help them.  They are healed by the cleric and druid so they will not die immediately.


Silder the human tells us on the way back to town that he was a griffon rider, and one of three brothers.  They are trying to build the town up to be a city as it used to be.  We reach town and take the ale to the provisioner.  Silder lets the provisioner know that Gundran is missing.

We buy other supplies and head to the Lion's Head in search of javelins.  The Innkeeper tells us that there is a band of mercenaries in town and they are causing trouble.  He also tells us that a druid called Quilene Alderleaf, from and orchard northwest of town, might be able to tell us how to get to Cragmaw Castle.


We all get rooms in the inn after a failed attempt by Zinge to sell the ale to the innkeeper.  We spend the next little while enjoying a drink at the inn and listening to the tales of other travelers.


The next day we head to the shrine of Luck.  We had heard someone had been attacked while in the woods.  We find Sister Gorrell, the Shrine Keeper, to ask what had happened.  She tells us that she had some trouble bargaining with Agatha, a banshee.  She was looking for an old spellbook she believed Agatha to possess, belonging to a mage called Bogentell.

After we head back into town to talk with the provisioner again, we meet up with a group of four Red Hand mercenaries and start to fight with them.  The dragonborn, Nils and Boris are beaten almost to death, but we manage to defeat all but one.  The last Red Hand escaped.


I run to the shrine of Luck and ask for help from Sister Gorrell.  She returns with me to help heal the party.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Circle of Stones

"Behold, ye losers,"  cried the witch, "flowers!"
Our Circle of Stones started life as a small model box bought from Hastings at the checkout.  I think it was meant to be one of those Zen garden style things.  It had puzzle pieces forming a decorative (though flimsy) base.  Foley picked it up and put it together, enjoying it's simplicity.  

Somehow, it sat for ages in a dark and forgotten area of shelf.  Eventually, Foley dug it out and reported it for finishing.  Taking a bit of flat baseboard, she went to work on the project that was at least a year old.

"So, who's got a cool ritual?"
The base was sprayed a nice Hunter Green.  The original base was placed on it, but there was some warping due to the glue.  The original base was even flimsier than I originally suspected.

From there, Foley took to the supply bins and raided a bunch of cool material to flock and finish out the base with.  Notice the Army Painter Meadow Flowers tufts in there.  Very...uh...Spring-y?  Admittedly, not what I expected when Foley told me she was finishing a ritual circle.

I probably should have, though.

The finished product is good on the table.  The little addition of a bright spot on the battlefield can change the whole look of the table layout.  The Circle will probably feature in some objective driven scenario play as well.  All in all, well worth what amounts to just the $5 spent on a box in the checkout line at Hastings.