Tag Archives: Fifth Edition

Session Summary: Child of the Serpent Star-Part 1

Well, we had another session of the 5E Sword & Sorcery game this weekend. I didn’t post about the last session but then I should have. So I’ll throw a little bit of that in here too.

The party had just rescued their favorite henchman, Bob, from being possessed by an ancient necromaner. This whole adventure was my own quick take on the Necromaner’s Knife from The Spider-God’s Bride and Other Tales.

After a bout of carousing, the party is approached by Lord Josef (a minor noble in the city). He needs to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Kalia. They haggle for even more money but in the end agree to help. Since this an investigative session, there was no combat at all and I’m only go to do the highlights here and not in chronological order.

Their first round of investigation they learned that that Josef has not received a ransom demand. They eliminated any actions my rival noble house. They also learn that the local Temple of Set is searching for a woman who bears the mark of the Serpent Star. It doesn’t take them long to figure out that the missing Kalia is the one who bears this mark (according to her handmaidens). They deduce based on the cult’s actions that they haven’t this out yet.

The party does a little research on the Temple of Set and the Legend of the Serpent Star. They learn that there are two factions within the Cult of Set. One believed that Set and Yig are just two names for the same god. While the “orthodox” view is that Set is the son/brother of the ancient serpent god Yig the Father of Serpents. Set tricks and imprisons Yig to steal his power.

The party questions Kalia’s hand maidens and searches her room. They learn that Kalia has been having nightmares the last few weeks. In the room, they find an ancient hold symbol of Yig, a small book written in an ancient language that no one in the party can decipher, and some pieces of the snake skin in her bed (as if a snake had molted). They also find the marks where a grappling hook was attached to her window and where one was used on the wall surrounding the villa. The party’s Druid changes into a wolf and literally begins snooping around. She tracks Kalia from her window across the courtyard to and over the wall. Kalia travels further into the city (in the opposite direction from the the Temple of Set) and meets a snake? And shortly after that the Druid lost the trail in the city.

The party takes the small book to a sage for translation. It’s short and the sage tells them to return the next day for the translation. They return and the sage has been murdered and the book is gone. Examination of the body reveals that while the sage did suffer wounds from a fight the main cause of death was from what appears to be an unusually large venomous snake bite. They also find a scrap of parchment in the sage’s hand. Written on it, “I shall return.”

Here ends this session. Stay tuned.

D&D Live. Where’s my Steak Knives?

You’ve probably heard that this last weekend was the whole D&D Live thing. It streamed live via Youtube, Twitch, and Peacock. It was sort of a virtual WOTC pat itself on the back event.

OK, yeah. They did announce two new products. And there were some celebrity actual plays. I do admit there were a lot of the celebrities were folks who’s work I have followed over the years and have enjoyed. And even some panel type discussions. I didn’t torture myself with whole thing but I did do a lot of skipping around and watching as much as I could until I started to feel sleazy.

I understand that this was just a corporate marketing push. But they could have at least been a little more subtle about it. Watching as little as I did, I still couldn’t help feel like I was being force fed saccharine. As soon as I got through the sales pitch for the time share then they’d give me a free set of steak knives.

Rant over.

How’d The Weekend Gaming Go?

Well, it went pretty good. Our little group kicked off the 5E Sword & Sorcery game. As I said before I took a lot of the rules from Xoth.

The party consists of a barbarian, monk, druid, and courtier. The courtier player couldn’t make it so an NPC (Fighter/Rogue) stepped in to keep them from totally getting their butts kicked.

This was combo of Session 0 and intro adventure. Actually, we did a lot of the Session 0 stuff before hand via a Facebook Group. It was pretty simple at the beginning. Guard a merchant caravan through the desert. What could go wrong? At first, not much. Some bandits tried to sneak into the caravan at night and steal some stuff. No problem for our group of adventurers.

Then I did a little railroading. OK, a lot of railroading. I wanted to create an event that would give the characters a reason to bond even if it was against a common enemy. So the player characters (+another guard) got drugged and wake up in chains. They had been handed over to a bunch of slavers. Since I pulled this little nasty narrative trick on them, I did give them each an Inspiration Point.

Of course, the barbarian rages and breaks his chains and the fight begins (without a real plan by the party). It was bloody and tough fight for the PC’s who didn’t have any armor or weapons. The NPC who really saved their bacon was the no-name, no-class, lowly NPC guard. With just damned lucky rolls, he was able to wrestle the Slaver Boss to ground and keep him occupied for half the fight. Ah, when the dice decide that they want the story to in an odd direction, that’s a cool thing about gaming.

The party frees the other slaves and quickly realize that the slavers weren’t nice folks and that they only had about half the water they needed to make it out of the desert. It was a tough trip and a couple of the NPC’s died along the way but they made it to the big city and new they are looking for that bastard merchant who double crossed them.

And on a final, I’ve already had a couple of folks inquire about starting a second game. But more on that later.

Getting The Band Back Together

Well, it’s been a year of almost no gaming at all. Sure there have been little tiny blasts of playtesting something or a little one shot but nothing solid.

Finally, I just made the time to do some gaming. Half the players are from the Thursday Night Crew and the other half are pretty much brand new. Of course, the extra challenge is that half the group has never gamed with the other half. So we’ll see how that goes. There was a very early no politics rule right up front.

So what are we playing? Well, the newbies have only been exposed to 5E so I thought that was the best way to start before throwing them into an old school game (which IMHO would be easier to run online). Plus it’s the only books that everyone has access to. Now I did cut down on choices and options and our campaign is going to be mostly based around Xoth with some extras thrown in to make it have a bit of the weird tone and inspiration from Hyperborea.

I have high hopes that this will be a fun one. I’ll do some random posts about the antics and few things that I feel are just neat. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish up planning their first adventure.

That Old School State of Mind

Well, I opened my mouth and the gang answered. So looks like it’s time head back into the DM chair. Sure I’m an old-school guy and that’s what I prefer but about half the players are brand new and their only exposure is to 5 E. So I figured I break them in gently and run 5 E. I know. Like many others, I’m still a bit miffed about a bunch of the crap that WOTC has pulled but I’ve already got the core books so what the heck.

When 5E came out there was a rush to make it more old school. I even was thinking that way. Thinking more and more about it. There’s more than just game mechanics when it that old school style of play. There’s rulings not rules. Flying by the seat of your pants and making up thing as you go along.

Many of us old timers complain about the reliance on skills. It’s OK to hit those skill uses with the rulings not rules. In general, I go towards the “Tell me what you’re doing and then I’ll tell what to roll”. If the description is good enough then there might not even be a need for a roll. And how difficult is that check? Well, it depends. Just think about: “I search the room for traps.” “I search the desk for traps.” “I search the desk drawer for traps.” And “I search the strange box that we found in the desk drawer for traps.” So make it up.

The other complaint is about the social skills. That really falls into the “Tell me first” category. Do something cool enough and there might not even need to a roll. Then there’s also the complaint that there’s no need for them. Well, I do like them but I don’t few them as “hard” skills. It’s not just roll. It’s always a description. If there needs to be a roll then I view it as a measure of those things that the player may not be able to articulate like subtle intonations, body language, and timing.

But what about healing? It’s so fast in 5E. OK. Just google it. There’s plenty of options out there. Personally, this I’m leaning for the idea of characters gaining a level of exhaustion every time they do to 0 HP. Characters end up with penalties without screwing around with a lot of underlying mechanics.

All those crazy class abilities and feats and stuff? What about that? Well, that’s a tough one. In the hey day of 2nd Edition, there were all those crazy Kits. So I’m kind of bring up those memories and how to deal with it. It’s either learn all of it. Be like most players and just know the rough abilities of each character. Or just make it up as you go along. Yeah. I’m saying that one a lot.

And sure there’s thing about “balanced” encounters and long and usually tragic back stories. Get all that crap out of the way at beginning even before you start.

Yes, I know things are different when you run at a con, FLGS, or some other public venue. However, private games. Just talk and explain to the players. Some may like it. Some won’t. Some might whine or stamp their feet and walk out. It’s always been opinion that it’s not the public and organized play that really makes the “game”. It’s all those private games that you never hear about.

No matter the edition. Remember. Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Taker their stuff. And have fun.