Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Caliban Postmortem

(2:22am at the Sam Ramon Marriott Hotel time to pack up and head home...)
The quest into Caliban, 5th Edition mod, was entertaining for sure. My good friend Ickbard took the reins to DM much of the scenario (his first convention run) and, man alive, does dude know his 5e!

We had a 100% show with Chris, er Bill (j.k.) running his fighter, Albort's halfling sorcerer, Dan the eldritch knight, Matthew's half-tiefling lycanthrope barbarian, Tiffany's lawful good cleric, Rob's fate spinner (ha, damn that class is a pain in the ass for dungeon master's), Jeff and the halfling rogue, finally Eric with Sven the Champion!

Other than the noise and side-bar conversations it seemed to run well and everyone stayed to the 2:00am end, which is unusual for a Friday night convention game. I am very appreciative of the group for sure!

So thoughts number 1, the overland and dangers outside Caliban went very well. Got the players where they were supposed to be and properly set the mood of the unnatural-ness of the tower even in an average fantasy world.

Second, though, the interior had too many empty spaces for a convention game. I had supposed "neutral" descriptions for the vacant rooms which everyone (including Joe) played around with for awhile. Unfortunately, no treasure in these places so, well, there you go.

Thirdsies was that the dungeon could have been deadlier except I didn't understand enough about the fate-spinner to figure out how the baddies would counter some of the spinner's effects which were pretty profound.

Last, I have come to the conclusion that running for 8 players, in a convention setting where folks may not know each other and I certainly don't know them, is probably more difficult than it needs to be getting everyone engaged. Probably a hack and slash would be easier, but investigation relies heavily on the sneaks and investigative types for long stretches between combat which can detach more combative types.

Next Year:
  1. Run for no more than 6 players and keep a grip on side bar convos;
  2. Make sure encounters link up with mostly quick interludes (may be room for a sneaky bit, but make it the exception rather than the norm);
  3. Ha, and still this is always my Achilles heal, try to balance out some concluding encounter that starts to manifest around midnight.
Preview for next year? Maybe I'll run Under the Storm Giant's Caste? "Pins pins kill the pins!"

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Frozen from Fire

After taking snow runner ship from the white elves, party envisions a long rest tho the wolves cry off from the south east. Second watch lizard-cleric with his infravision suddenly spots two score archers taking aim at the disabled ski-boat, as arrows rain down white elf swordslingers throw over their concealing frozen cloaks and rush adventurers encampment.

Follows is a fiery and bloodied combat, horde of white elves versus seven heroes: lizard-cleric, haughty paladin, dragonborn, elf mage-thief, barbarian half-orc, man-with-no-name, and paladin of smite.

Mage-thief's fireballs are most effective as any white elves not slew end trapped with feet frozen into the ice. At battles end these white elves frozen consume some flask, smiling at the party, their captors. With nary more than little talk their throats begin to bulge and burst with writhing worm-like leeches spilling on to the snow and slithering toward the adventurer inquisitors when mage-thief burns it all.

The white elf host disembarked from another elven snow runner ship, discovered 200 yards to the north. This craft also bears a violet oval portal ostensibly what permitted the small army of white elves arriving suddenly through the snow.

Having just obliterated 100 white elves in a matter of moments, haughty paladin leads the way through the magic portal where they land in the middle of an evil drum circle serenading him ...

(art by Tom Baxa)
And about 200 of his brethren. And a small-odd platoon of white elves. And a cat-beast.

Man-with-no-name reaches out "Shadow walk!" and the party moves along the border between prime and shadow for a brief 5 seconds then steps back into prime.

Now among a gray, dead forest of only wood, bereft of leaves, the heroes decide to rest and heal their wounds inside the extradimensional space of a rope trick. As they climb to enter the space, Paladin of Smite spies upon a hillock some distance away, a unnaturally tall, slim figure in black plate and a skull-like helm of bright silver.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

All Queued Up for DunDraCon #43

Whew! Completed my 5th Edition conversion of Dave Hargrave's Arduin Dungeon #1 "Caliban" (1979) with five days to spare. A kind soul on the soon-to-be-ex Google+ Arduin Community gifted me some weapon card write-ups, and I was like "Oh $hit! I forgot about cards!" Dave Hargrave was big on handing out cards for magik items, and providing monster cards for DMs to use.

You can still purchase the Arduin Fantasy Card Collection from Emperors Choice on DriveThruRPG. Sadly none of the dungeon modules are presently available with their particular cards.

I used the card template that was shared with me to re-do the original basically OD&D write-ups to 5th Edition with somewhat funky results, but close enough for rock & roll.

It is also unfortunate that there is no clear way for any fan conversions to be publicly released to keep some of this Arduin fantasy alive. Of course Dave did "borrow" a ton of his ideas from other sources, which means a lot of the time there is a legally acceptable way to create a stat block based on Dave's third party source material. Emperor's choice, since they are sitting on the lion's share of Arduin intellectual property, ought to come up with some way to utilize the fan base to generate interest in the old Arduin classics.

Conversions into 5th Edition were fairly straightforward, probably the most I fudged on were experience points (ha, so am I that bad to think PCs level too fast?). Mostly I could find some root critter that was an aspect of what Dave had imagined, then just build in the other attributes. Many of Dave's beasties are amalgams of various thinks: Octopus-gorilla, Shadow and Titan, centaur-medusa, basilisk and griffin, etc. Easy-peasy to write up.

The magic items were fun too. Only trying to consider which ones required attunement was taxing.

The supporting gazette is the thing I wish I could share publicly. Around 50 pages of Arduin monsters, spells, and magik items. Oh well... Fight On Friday February 15th!