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Gabe / 17 hours ago

Brightgrave 1

Jerry is a pro when it comes to streaming his D&D games, and I can do it when summoned, but I much prefer to run my games at home and without an audience. That being said, I just started a new campaign and I’d like to share it with you all because making things and showing you is what I do. So in lue of a streamed game I’ll be doing updates here on the site. I will include art and photos of props when applicable. I’ll post maps and rules that we make up as we go. Basically I’ll do my best to make sure those of you who want to, can follow along at home as we build this world of Brightgrave. Be sure and check out my first post about the game where I give you all the details on the setting. So here’s the breakdown of our very first game. Let me know what you think of this format and anything else you’d like to see here.

The Players
Kalrissa - Kara Krahulik - Tiefling Sorcerer
Valkur - Levin Sadsad - Rock Gnome Wizard
Oleander - Amy Falcone - Half Elf Paladin

Inside the Blackriver inn, a tired looking barmaid serves the handful of customers who have stumbled into this tiny spec of civilization on the edge of Turalum and the Abyss. She walks around the small dimly lit tavern, placing heavy glasses down in front of each of the patrons.

A massive grey orc with a ruined face and a golden coin where her left I should be lifts her glass, drains the mug and wipes a fang filled mouth. Next to her a tiny robed figure reaches for the glass given to him but the Orc snatches this mug as well, and drains it in another massive swig.

The barmaid lazily makes her way over to the next table and places a glass in front of a tiny Rock Gnome whose hat is the only thing visible until his little hands stretch out for the drink. Across from him sits a Paladin in full armor who accepts her drink and nods politely to the barmaid.

In the back of the bar the waitress hesitates. Here, the magical barrier that protects Turalum has shrunk to such a degree that it actually cuts right through the bar. The barmaid approaches a table that is bisected by this wall and places a mug down on her side. She gives the glass a shove and it slides across the table before passing through the translucent wall sending ripples across its shimmering surface. On the other side of the shield sitting at the opposite end of the table, sits a Tiefling who catches the glass and raises it to her lips.

This is how I began our first adventure and introduced the party at the table. At this point there was a bit of RP between the characters on the bright side of the wall and the Paladin, Oleander, offered a toast. Suddenly, four armed men burst into the tavern wearing the royal symbol of Turalum and demanding that the prince return home with them. It became clear quickly that the tiny robed figure with the Orc was in fact prince Alexander Cadil and he had no intention of returning with these knights. The Massive orc came to the princes defense and stepped between him and the knights. In the scuffle that ensued the captain of the guards made it clear that everyone in this bar was under arrest for kidnapping the young prince and that did not sit well with our party. We rolled our first initiative.

They managed to fight off the guards and then introduced themselves to the prince.

“I am prince Alexander William Cadil, but you may call me Alex.” He gestures to the Orc adding “and this is Igu the Wretched.”

“But you may call me Igu” she says dryly.

With that, the party met Igu and Alex, our first major NPCs.

From the boy, they discovered that Alex’s mother, Queen Andyla, has disappeared and it is rumored she was seduced by an Abyssal cult on the edge of Turalum. When Alex’s father King Rowan refused to send a search party, Alex took it upon himself to find his mother. He hired the barbarian mercenary Igu with a ring and promises the party riches upon returning to the castle, should they help him with his quest. Each of the party members has their own reason for seeking this Abyssal cult and they all agree to help. Getting the party all on the same page right out of the gate can be tricky so I worked with each player before hand on what their motivations were. Once I knew that I was able to build a scenario that would hook each of them individually.

Igu has a couple leads and they all agree to investigate a stranger called the Watcher. This is a weird old hermit who lives in a shack near the barrier. He spends his days staring through the wall into the Abyss and it has driven him insane. The party hopes he might have seen the cult operating out here, but he will not speak to them until someone agrees to watch along with him. Valkur agrees and the Watcher explains that looking directly at the Abyss is not a good idea. Instead you need to look through something that will shield your mind. He believes that looking through a spider web is the best way to protect yourself, and the gnome gives it a try. This is, of course, bullshit and this guys is crazy. Valkur is exposed to the Abyss.

Mechanically I’m asking players confronted with the Abyss to make Wisdom saving throws. I give Kalrissa the Tiefling advantage on these rolls since her race has a connection to the Abyss. Sadly, Valkur failed his check and immediately took damage as well as becoming convinced he had snakes crawling all over his body for a while. The Watcher was happy though and let slip that he had indeed seen strange cultists performing rituals not far from his shack.

The party camps out and waits in hopes that the cultists will return. A few days later their patience is rewarded and a strange convoy arrives from the west following the edge of the barrier. Igu and Alex are off hunting and the party hides inside the watcher’s hovel as seven cultists arrive with a simple horse drawn wagon. They all wear dark robes except for one who’s black cloak is lined with bright red. This one begins speaking towards the wall in a strange guttural tongue that only Valkur understands because Levin was smart enough to take Abyssal. Soon a massive shape appears on the opposite side of the shield. At first it is just an unrecognizable shadow in the Abyssal darkness but as it nears the barrier it resolves into a sickening beast. A pile of chittering skulls sit piled atop a writhing insectoid body. Long stingers hang from its abdomen dripping poison. Green sacks of what look like eggs squirm on the creature’s back. Only Valkur understands the terrible language it speaks. “THE BLOOD WILL SET YOU FREE” it bellows and the cult members on their side respond in kind. “The blood will set us free!”

Kalrissa recognizes the monster as an Ekolid after a killer Arcana check.

The party watches this strange ceremony until a number of the cultists drag a figure from the back of the wagon. It is a simple looking farmer who appears to be under the effect of some poison or spell that has rendered him docile. It becomes clear that these cultists intend to push this man through the wall and it is at this moment that the party acts. Oleander leaps out of the shack and draws the cult’s attention. The leader sends three of his lackeys to deal with this new threat but Oleander raises her glaive and uses Turn the Faithless, forcing two of the cultists to stop and question their allegiance. They don’t get to think long though because Kalrissa hurls a chromatic orb that leaves them charred and moaning in the dirt.

For this fight I used Cultists and a Cult Fanatic for my monsters. The Fanatic had a few spells at his disposal and ended up being a great challenge for the party. Eventually they managed to deal with the remaining cult members and save the poor farmer. Igu and Alex returned from their hunting trip and Igu helped get some info out of a cultist who was still alive. The party learned that this was the Cult of the Devourer. They each carry a bronze amulet depicting a snake coiled around itself and eating an egg.They also learn that their goal is the destruction of the barrier and they are using a nearby abandoned fortress as a meeting area. The cultist did not survive further questioning by the barbarian.

Kalrissa succeeds on a history check and remembers the way to the fortress. It’s a long hike that takes them along the barrier and all of them have to make wisdom saves to avoid terrible nightmares when they make camp. The party gets to know each other a bit and Prince Alex makes it clear that he believes his mother is being held at this fort, but Igu urges him not to get his hopes up. The next day they arrive at the fort to find that much of it has been consumed by the Abyss over the long ages since its creation. A ruined stained glass window and broken clock dominate the facade of the ancient fort. The shattered window depicts the Turalum Lighthouse in all its glory. Below it, the clock’s iron hands are twisted and frozen in place marking the exact time of some ancient calamity.

I like to use puzzles from video games in a lot of my adventures. In this case, I wanted to seal the entrance to this cultist layer with something that would take the party a while to solve and ended up taking an idea from the DS game I’m playing right now Alliance Alive. The party realised they could light torches to cast shadows across a large stone altar. Eventually it became clear to them that these shadows functioned like hands of a clock and finally Valkur stepped outside to make note of the time frozen on the ancient clock outside. They lit the proper configuration of torches and holy shit a magic door opened up!

And that is where we left our heroes.

So there you go. That’s a quick rundown of our first adventure into Brightgrave. I’ve got some cool plans for this group but they all have their own agendas and I’m excited about the story we will write together. I know Amy will be keeping her own character journal and making it available on her Tweeter at some point. Hit me up on my Tweeter if you have any questions about Brightgrave!

-Gabe out

Tycho / 20 hours ago

Seeing as the cliffhanger for the last Acquisitions Incorporated game at Unplugged had one Jim Darkmagic standing atop a small elevated stage while no less than six articulated saws tried to make his insides outsides.  Coulda gone a couple ways.

Independent of actually watching him and knowing for yourself the level of fucking execution the man is capable of, Jeremy Crawford is Chris Perkins’ DM.  I feel like that is a very succinct way of establishing his credentials.  But!  We also had WWE Superstar Xavier Woods at the table.  I got in trouble with Sony PR once because I didn’t internally capitalize the word Playstation correctly.  I can never remember it.  Also: I can never remember if its “capital” or “capitol” and I have to look it up every time.  I resented it.  But I never hesitate when asked to fully type out WWE Superstar for a host of reasons.  One, no doubt neglecting to do so would put me at odds with an ever-growing pantheon of martial god-men.  Two, it’s sufficiently ridiculous that merely typing it is a joy.  Anyway, Xavier was such a fun addition to the table that I’m trying to tuck him into games now he isn’t even slated for.  We’ll see. I don’t even want to tell you what we got up to - you should just feast on the Twitch VOD.

For the PAX aficionado, their favorite PAX isn’t merely a function of scale.  We certainly have larger shows.  We have we have PAX Aus, which we have previously established is demonstrably more southern even than PAX South.  But it does have its own pace and density that result in a very good weekend.  We had great concerts, hours and hours of live roleplay, you can eat real good at night around here, and then we capped the show off with a Beyblade battle, best of Fifteen battle between Shadowr1ku and Wynder that Wynder eventually took, but not before R1ku started strong and then mounted a vigorous comeback.  You can catch a glimpse of that, if you’re interested.  I just watched it again. The show just has a distinct, welcoming identity and it was so good to be back.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 4 days ago

Of course, the latest version of the story dutifully presented to is that - let me see if I have this correctly - all games exist in a kind of superposition in a silvery twilight realm, at once real and not real, so the open world game they used to distract us from the previous, higher profile cancellation served its purpose…?  We posit a quantum conundrum in today’s . incomparable strip.

For me, Electronic Arts is now the company that pays Respawn to make games and honestly that’s fine.  I guess they also make the sports games that Gabriel plays for two weeks.  And that’s great.  Anybody should be proud.

Hey, what are you doing this weekend?  I’m thinking about operating a gaming convention down here in San Antonio - and if you’re physically near, why not be physically here?  I’m thinking about calling it PAX or something like that.  I’ll figure out what it stands for later.  But what if you’ve erected an impervious, subterranean shell in which to spend your remaining days?  One, I get it, but two, that doesn’t mean you can’t attend PAX in your way.  As long as you’ve pulled a copper or fiber hardline into your otherwise hermetic bunker, you can come along.  Hit up PAX or PAX2 on Twitch and check the schedule for a menu of fleeting delights.

Alright!  Now it’s time to shave with fragrant hotel conditioner because I forgot all my shit.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 6 days ago

I push The Three-Body Problem on every-fuckin’-body.  People usually say it dips in the middle and finishes strong, but I can’t really agree with that - I think the story in general becomes something we’re not supposed to fully understand.  To explain why would be telling.  But the first volume is legitimately substantial and I went after it like a porterhouse.

I pushed it on Gabriel for a specific reason: there is a concept in there that may be one most profound I’ve ever encountered in or out of fiction and I wanted to make sure he knew about it while also not wanting to tell him myself.  I wanted the idea to arrive in its own time and context and then, just… pulp him.  He finally got into it via an Audiobook, and I can’t wait to see what he thinks of “that part,” but when he was talking about the audio version he let it slip that he was privy to some secret, possibly sacred conduit that sprayed an unlimited amount of soothing, audible books.  What follows is essentially our conversation.

If you want to be a little ahead of the common person, if you want to camp on the very cusp of the possible, I think you should invest some portion of yourself into Dicey Dungeons.

Designer Terry Cavanagh put a version on, like Crazy Games or something, ladeled over a chiptune version of Haddaway’s “What is Love,” which is a strangely appropriate soundtrack to a roguelike.  I don’t mean that one.  I mean the one on, with the rad music by chipzel and the rad art by Marlowe Dobbe.  It’s similar to Rogue, but every class has a fundamentally different way of approaching the dice you roll to the extent that each class feels like its own game.  It’s neat and cute and sounds good and the boss I fought at the end of my run was a malevolent Girl Scout.  It’s young yet - like I say, you’d be ahead of the curve a bit.  But I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Oh, and for PAX South: you might recall that at the Unplugged game, Acquisitions Incorporated found its way to Ravnica somehow and now we have a suite of incredibly novel problems.  Here’s the info for the official South game:

That is correct: we will be matching with with inimitable WWE Superstar Xavier Woods, in the guise of weirdo, steampunk goliath Bobby Zimeruski. Hopefully he can help us spring Jim out of his current predicament, which could be described as “a dark nest of evil, ravenous saws.”

(CW)TB out.

My new D&D Campaign

It’s been about eight years since I ran a home campaign but I’ve decided to start another one. My players are going to be my wife Kara along with my friends Amy the Falcone and Levin Sadsad. I asked them if they wanted to play straight up D&D or if I could futz with it a little bit. They all agreed that they were up for some futzing and so I went to work building out a little custom campaign setting. So we will be playing D&D 5e but it will be set in the world of Brightgrave. Here’s what the players know so far.


Not much is known about the events that took place more than 500 years ago. Much of the story is told through myth and song these days. They all relate a similar tale though. The Fall, when it came was sudden, and all the world was covered in darkness. Terrifying creatures beyond description appeared and the air itself turned thick and acrid. Priests of the day called it the Abyss and said it was a nightmare realm made of chaotic evil. The songs tell us it was the holy scholars of the temples who identified the Abyss, but it was the Magi who saved us from it.

In an effort to save what remained of their world, seven powerful Magi constructed seven spires across the world. They entombed themselves within these towers and through magical arts long lost, created the Lighthouses. These seven massive towers covered all the lands around them in a protective shield that held back the Abyss. As generations passed and the world was consumed by evil these seven Lighthouses became the last refuge for the survivors. Great capital cities grew up around the towers and life went on beneath the protection of their sprawling domes.

In the early days of the Lighthouses many of the capitals built elaborate monuments to mark the edges of their walls, sometimes even stationing guards there should the spell fail at some point. As the generations passed two things became clear. Nothing of the Abyss could penetrate the barrier a Lighthouse created and the spells themselves were slowly diminishing. Today these forts and statutes have been abandoned to the encroaching Abyss.

This knight’s sword tip once marked the edge of the barrier that protects the capital of Turalum.

In recent years the weakening of the shield walls has become more apparent.  Not only are the shields themselves slowly shrinking, but many of the people who used to live out near the edges of the capitals, have begun to move Lightward towards the spires. They report the strange behavior of animals near the barrier and even new beasts they cannot explain lurking in thier woods. Some even tell stories of Abyssal cults trying to communicate with creatures on the other side of the shield. Furthermore, the sudden appearance of Tieflings in the world has caused quite a stir. They are still few and far between but they appear to be able to navigate the Abyssal territory between cities without harm.

In ancient times people often made pilgrimages out to see the barrier. Today the lands around the walls are dark and haunted places. That is where the party finds themselves now. In the small town of Wardview on the very edge of Turalum and the Abyss.

So there is my setup. They have all created characters and Amy has already done some rad art.

Our first game will probably happen over queso and margaritas during PAX South. Not sure how often we will play just yet, but I will update you all as the campaign progresses with new art and stories of their adventure.

-Gabe out


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