Friday, December 29, 2017

Sinister Secret of the Saltmarsh update for modern day D&D

I have decided to take module U1 from 1981 and redo the excellent piece of work and flesh out the D&D classic. This video goes over some of the things I am doing -- Watch live at

Friday, December 15, 2017

Orcs on the ramparts? Yup

Returned as DM to Lost Mines of Phandelver last night and the party approached Old Owl Well after bypassing Conyberry and solving the banshee riddle. At Old Owl Well they were almost attacked by necromancer Hamun Kost. Gaius Stoughton immediately recognized his tattoos and was able to talk Hamun down and learn about orcs in the area and gain a safe place to stay that night. Continuing talks late into the night Hamun informed the group of how the orcs at Wyvern Tor were attacking settlements in the country side and causing damage to his excavation area.

Turns out Hamun was looking for a gem to control Agatha the Banshee so he could ask her the location of a powerful Necromancer Book. The party already knew the answer to this and so told him. In return Hamun gave them shelter and learned he was no where near the Wave Echo Cave (and neither were the party).

His zombies on standby guardian the entrance to the fort where the Old Owl Well is located, the party rested and awoke the next morning to the disturbing sounds of orc drums. An attack on the ramparts and the drawbridge was underway. Shara the Cleric noticed them first and so Hamun flew into action and choked the entrance with 5 of his undead servants.

The battle was engaged and within two minutes the orcs were hacking and pushing their way across the drawbridge, decimating the zombies that were there to be roadblocks. The party was not idle however and via missile shots and brave melee attacks the orcs were beaten back. Hamun was left weak and exhausted from controlling the undead but healed by Shara.

The party, with the new found knowledge of a new friend, rested until the next morning and set out for the general area of Wyvern Tor to search for the Orc lair!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

More D&D and getting out of wargaming

Getting out of wargaming has been relatively easy. You cant miss something you weren't doing anymore anyway.

I have already played many games of D&D this month and last, approaching near 10 now as my campaigns continue on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights and scattered one offs during the week.

I exclusively use Fantasy Grounds. If you are a player connecting to a DM host you DO NOT NEED a license...but you should have one. Its cheap (you can pay by month or in one lump sum) and its well worth it for the most robust RPG system on the internet.

Correction:  Yes, you do, UNLESS the GM has the Ultimate License, which allows her to host a full table of demo/free license players. If the GM has a Standard license, then one single demo license player can connect but only if no one else is also connected (basically to manage a character or play a 1:1 game). That is the only benefit the Ultimate license grants. 
Also, SmiteWorks is only 5 guys -- correction, 6 now: they just hired Dave (the Digital Dungeon Master from YouTube) yesterday to do Customer Service -- so players getting their own license not only opens up being able to play for every GM who doesn't have an Ultimate license but also helps support these fine fellows. 
Also, GMs can share their DLC so like if players don't own the Players Handbook, they can click it from the GM Library and it will download to them. HOWEVER, due to the way the sharing mechanism works, DLC has been noted using up to 400% more memory on the player side than it does for the GM. So be careful with that. Players buying their own DLC (or entering the data themselves, etc.) means they can use their local content and not worry about the sharing memory bump.  

There are other resources to find games as well like the FG forums and the reddit sites:

I managed to sell off most of my wargaming titles but I am keeping all COIN titles and anticipating Pendragon. I find the system fun to work with even solo. I like the AI Engine and find it works if you dont know what your doing the AI can really surprise you. So far most of the later titles have been different enough to warrant purchases.

Wednesday night I started Lost Mines of Phandelver as a PLAYER, which is weird because I am currently the Dungeon Master for the game on some nights with a friend. Even though I know what may happen it is still fun because each DM does it differently. My bard Gandolin had some fun last night meeting the other players while running from a bunch of tavern patrons he offended in a song. He hid among the crowd and joined the adventurers by jumping into the wagon to Phandalin.

You can watch the stream here on Zerbious's channel

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sir Gilglind's early adventures: Jasper the Trader

A Dungeons and Dragons one shot summary from December 10th


In his early years Sir Gilglind, or just Gilglind back then, had many adventures that he has yet to transcribe to even his close friend Eron.

One such adventure was the curious case of Jasper the missing dwarf trader, lost along the Sword Coast and hailing from the town of Port Llast. The evils that orcs and goblins can do became highly evident to him.

Responding to a wanted poster while passing near the town, Gilglind partied up with Zebrious the dwarf cleric, Antonio a rather odd human singer, Arjhan the dwarf cousin of Jasper and fighter, and the ranger Enjar, a fellow elf from Neverwinter Wood. The team set out to follow some recently discovered hobgoblin tracks that fit suspiciously with Jasper's last planned route. 

The tracks were easy enough to follow and indeed led them to the hollow cave entrance of what was believed to be a place of great danger and recent despair. Most of the tracks, as discovered by Enjar, were heavy enough to be hobgoblins and showed traces of dragging something behind them. The group only assumed that it was poor Jasper and indeed the townsfolk had merit to be scared if hobgoblins had moved into the area. The entrance was poorly hidden but deep in the bowels of a hill. Distant light from within showed it to be inhabited for sure. The party did not hesitate to enter and steel themselves for eventual conflict. 

Art by
Inside the lair the investigative team strode, slowly to avoid detection. Not 80 feet in they came upon a room with the sound of scuffling and movement emanating from it. Readying weapons, Enjar saw it first: a thin tripwire across the entrance to the room that spelled out the hobgoblins were not dumb and did have early detection devices scattered about. Closer now the voices could be heard clearly even though most the parties knew not what they said. Hobgoblins were a flutter and scurrying about not noticing the party. Hobgoblins always know one thing: attack first ask questions later. 

"Here we go lads....hang tight." 

Leaping the tripwire Enjar struck first, the silver sheen of his scimitar immediately ruined as it dug into the shoulder blade of the closest of two hobgoblins, shattering bone and sinew. The ranger, quite resplendent with his earthy toned intricately carved leather armor, made for a frightful site as he unleashed a second swing with his off hand, slicing the hobgoblins chest. 

Despite his rather unassuming nature the human bard Antonio pushed his way into the room and pulled forth a oaken carved lute, hoisted it to his shoulder and strummed a ear splitting tune that reverberated across the room, sending shockwaves into the second hobgoblin that was still shocked he was beset upon by intruders. The hobgoblin flew backwards and smashed into some crates in the corner. He was still alert and sprung up, drawing his sickly coated bastard sword and uttering a warcry as he charged at the bard. 

Gilglind stepped forward and felt the weight of the javelin he had produced and noted how well balanced it was. True elven crafting would make sure it flew straight and narrow. He flung the javelin at the charger, meeting it square in the chest. A small "yeeep" was gasped by the assailant and the hobgoblin dropped, dead as a evergreen tree in the stark harshness of winter.

The final hobgoblins, reeling and bleeding from Enjar's assault, ran for a door at the north end of the room. By this time Arjhan had already made the door, cutting off the beasts retreat and sinking his longsword straight into the chest of the vile denizen. 

Zerbious rounded the corner and strode into the room. The cleric looked surprised that the hobgoblins were already dead and seemed out of breath. 

"Well apparently we are on the right track and I missed the fun. I need to move up in the group ranks I think!" he bellowed, twirling his stubby fingers through his mangy blonde beard. 

The room turned out to be empty, but drag marks through the door to the north led the team to think that Jasper was deeper into trouble than they figured.

"Arjhan...wait!" Enjar screamed as Jasper's cousin bashed the door down and ran into the hallway. Abruptly Arjhan stopped, slapping a palm to his neck after a loud click resounded once he turned the corner. Staggering back Arjhan yanked a object out of his neck as his knees folded under him , a woozy look overcoming his eyes. Poison dart traps...and they had found their mark.

"Everyone back out!" screamed Gilglind. More darts flew down the hallway and snapped into the back wall, breaking harmlessly on the dirt floor.

It took almost 2 hours to negate the traps the hobgoblins had set, wasting this kind of time worried the group and by the point that Arjhan had recovered and was ready to go again the party feared for Jasper's well being. It had been well over a day since his vanishing and time was running short. Hobgoblins rarely kept prey alive without torture and desecration.

A scream from far in told the party that their fears were true, and in an attempt to move deeper in the hobgoblins had the group where they wanted them to stall their progression.

Leading the defenses was Garg the Bloodhanded, a notorious vile Hobgoblin leader that had been rallying the forces in the hills about him. Gilglind saw him first, but Arjhan reacted too fast and charged in. The final showdown had begun as the hobgoblins commander rallied his forces in front of a rather ornate door to the north of his chambers it was obvious he wanted no one opening.

"Our weary maggots have shown up to free their fodder! Welcome to Skorgun Hollow!" Garg snorted, hefting his club and wading into the fight with his minions. The battle ebbed to and fro with hobgoblins falling by the wayside until at last Enjar and Gilglind buried their swords up to the hilt in the chest of Garg.

"You....are...too late....meat sacks....." he murmured, sliding over dead, tongue rolling out of his mouth.

The door to the north of the commanders room swung open as Zerbious stopped short of entering what he saw beyond.

"What do you see Zerbious?? WHAT!" Arjhan screamed.

"Do not approach my friend....stay your anger.." Zerbious warned.

Antonio and Gilglind attempted to hold Arjhan back but the strength of a determined dwarf is not to be reckoned with. Storming from his friend's grasps he strode past the dwarf cleric blocking the door and stood aghast at what he beheld.

There, at the far end, was his cousin. Long missing now...limp and lifeless on the floor to the north of what appeared to be some sacrificial altar. Sconces still burned in four alcoves about the chamber, the ceremony just ending. In the center of the chamber was some great portal filled with a swirling mist. A portal opened by some evil witchcraft set forth by the ritual slaying of Arjhan's cousin. The perpetrators of the unworldly ceremony were nowhere to be found but later that night Enjar figured that the tracks disappearing into the foggy portal were no doubt the summoners. They had arrived hours late and to no avail.

Moments like those, thinking back and pondering on the horrible things he had seen, only served to drive Gilglind forward and stoke the fires of his hate for all things orcish. These encounters and countless visions of death and destruction the offshoot races of orcs and goblins brought to the land of Faerun shaped his future goal to eradicate them.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The story of Sir Gilglind of the XXth Company, Holy Tribunal

Cormanthor, after its reclamation from Demons in the Weeping War, is the home for all our stalwart characters as we focus in on their lives. This is located in the middle of the Faerun map right below Thar. (artwork below by GerryArthur on deviantART)

Though they now adventure and call the west shores of the Forgotten Realms home, it was quite a different tale of woe and heartache that brought these elves together.

After Cormanthor was rebuilt and became the mighty capital of Cormanthyr it was still under constant hostile attack by waves of orc tribes migrating into the forests from the Kingdom of Many Arrows. The armies of Gruumsh were constantly probing and attacking their neighbors. Once orcs threatened to move south through Lurkwood and toward the Evermoors and Waterdeep it was decided by the good races to send a mighty army to stop the southward advance of Gruumsh's tribes.

Cormanthor put together a contingent of its finest: housed from the nobles of the land and a strike force from the Holy Tribunal, a military organization devoted to spreading the word of Corellon Larethian patron god of all Elves. The god Corellon long approved of all those who killed orcs and the followers of Lolth the Demonweb Queen.

So it was that Sir Gilglind, a man of exceptional personal wealth from a high elf noble line, gathered his detachment and rode west to face the orc hordes. With him his long time friend Algarfin Dunhare who sang the songs of battle and lore for the Tribunal XXth Company, Faen Imiril the druid who hailed from further away but was Gilglind's advisor and confidant in the ways of travel, and scribe and weaver of the magic arts Eron Fingoneth, Sorcerer of Cormanthor.

West they rode 150 strong through Tilverton Scar, the Stonelands and Well of Dragons. Along the way they cleansed the Crypt of the Six, the High Moor and gained more soldiers from hidden villages in the High Forest a place of great mystery. Though casualties were light Gilglind knew the true test lay ahead against the hordes of Gruumsh and his commanders.

Arriving at Mithral Hall,  the great home of Bruenor Battlehammer (see RA Salvatore's The Thousand Orcs ) Gilglind set about taking up position to defend the pass to the north and the road that came down from Dark Arrow keep. Gruumsh had other plans however and struck south from Spire of the World Mountains, threatening Luskan almost immediately. With a two pronged assault Bruenor was forced to gather the majority of his forces east as the treaty he had signed with Obould Many Arrows so long ago disintegrated before his eyes. Gilglind set off with the Tribunal to the east and skirting Lurkwood and looking to relieve Mirabar which was under heavy siege. Arriving at the scene Gilglind found Mirabar in disrepair and not in state to withstand siege (Mirabar has its own seedy history see ). He immediately assumed control and in his perceived overconfidence decided to strike north to break the orc willpower and send a message. 

Gruumsh, not wanting to the chance to lose the opportunity to snatch Mirabar at the same time had sent 1000 orcs to reinforce the siege and in a bizarre twist of fate the battle of Mirabar was set into motion.

Meeting just north of Mirabar Gruumsh's reinforcements clashed with the strike force of Sir Gilglind. Gildlind had kept the river on his right expecting attacks from the east. Instead the armies of Gruumsh smashed him from the west and pinned him against the river. In three days of bloody hectic battle Gilglind was forced to retreat south and east and had the river to his back. Amid massive losses he launched retreat barges across the river Mirar, then after extracting his forces, assailed the weakest point of the orc siege of Mirabar and had to break into the very city he was trying to free from encirclement.
Andrew Woodyard's drawing of Mirabar
​After the slaughter of many of his close friends and troops Gilglind was crushed and out of hope that the city would stand. Suffering three weeks of siege and constant bombardment and down to the last of their rations the city was about to fall when Bruenor Battlehammer was able to approach from the East and relieve Mirabar.

Gilglind had arrived with over 250 men and been afforded almost 300 more by local garrisons. Now he was exiting to rest and recuperate with fewer than 50. By his side however his friends still stood despite him turning over his command and retiring from military service in the months to follow. While the battles north of Mirabar and Mithral Hall still rage Gilglind had retired back home and not seen his friends for many years.

News travels swiftly however and when word reached him that his old Bard friend Algarfin had fallen into trouble with a powerful noble Gilglind decided to step in and take personal charge of having crime accusations against the bard dropped. Reunited the two shared tales of what had transpired since that fateful battle so long ago and they wondered now where the rest of their friends were....and if perhaps it was time to once again reignite their sense of adventure and prove they still had the ability to do good across the land though each had their own inner demons.

Last weekend's return to DM'ing

I finally got back into the swing of being a Dungeon Master after a long while. I had originally returned to 5th Edition with Temple of Elemental Evil and found it to be quite different DM'ing now as opposed to 1987. The  modules were bigger, badder and required more prep. Basically ToEE was NOT the best starting point to come into.

So this time around I was more prepared and ready to advance the plot faster. Last time it was a 4 hour RPG session which isnt bad but the ToEE module is so confusing with its factions and open sandbox ideas you can get lost if not prepared.

So with careful prep Crabby Old Gamer and I embarked on a new adventure with his cleric, ranger, wizard and monk. 

We played for about 7 hours and got deep into the module I was running. The more we played the more we got familiar with the rules once again. I found 5th to be easier to run but skill checks and opposed skill checks are still a bit confusing when it comes to stealth and hiding and sneak attacks. The group ran into a bit of trouble in a town road bandit fight but were aided by an NPC and had to retreat and rest after winning the fight.

We left off there and will pick it up again this weekend most likely. The expansive part of the module is ahead and the PC's hit level 2 so they will be better prepared.

Using Fantasy Grounds is getting easier and easier the more we do it. I will eventually be providing a page for all the links I find on this blog so that they can be shared with others.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sunday D&D Session 2: deeper into the jungle

Playing again with my now level 3 rogue Driscol. Tomb of Annihilation week 2 continues. I am coming in two weeks late on this campaign which is online with Fantasy Grounds and the DM is Wintermute (website here

Following last weeks encounter:
However this is Chult, and unexpected stuff happens on a daily basis.  As the group hides, two velociraptors run out of the jungle and attack the stegosaurus.  The group finds it odd that two small creatures would attack one of such size.  Seconds after that thought had passed thru the group, here comes the rest of the pack.  The adventurers have their hands full  when a pissed off 6800 pound (3100kg) dinosaur turns it’ attention on them.
We went further into the jungle and stumbled upon a raised altar of sorts in the wilds. On top a giant skull on a raised dais. Immediately out of the jungle came 10-11 screaming goblins being pursued by 2 allosauruses (kind of a miniature T-Rex). The two dinosaurs proceeded to eat a majority of the goblins and after a close call where our cleric went down we managed to bring the two baddies down. That left us with hordes of screaming goblins one of which knocked out Driscol in hand to hand combat. After being revived and clearing the goblins out we rested and trekked on.

Through a clearing we saw a massive temple in the jungle. Approaching it and trying to climb the vine congested steps proved dangerous. We camped at the foot of the structure and the players agreed to wait until next week to see what could be done to clear the plants out. If harmed or cut the vines are simply growing back and there seems to be some force bubble around the whole thing. More details soon.