Where’s Judd?

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These are the places you can regularly hear and/or see me talking about gaming or doing the thing and streaming some play. Links are both in the pictures and in the text beneath.

Here’s the link where I store my links.

I’ll update this as more comes up.

The logo for my podcast, Daydreaming about Dragons

In which I have a conversation with you about techniques that are shaking out at the tables where I sit and inspirational media.

Daydreaming about Dragons Podcast

In which Jason and I discuss the Trophy RPG and in doing so end up talking about game culture and techniques that link up to all kinds of tabletop RPG’s.

The Sixth Ring, a Trophy Podcast

I’m often gaming on the Actual Play twitchstream channel.

My first time getting back to Marr’d since I playtested the Dictionary of Mu almost 2 decades ago.

Inspired by our friend, Morgan Ellis’ character that he never got to play, we’re playing something Traveller-ish.

I’ve been honored to play so much on the Actual Play channel, a place where I’ve made wonderful friends and played wondrous games.

I have a Threadless shop. Design examples below:

Curse of Strahd, Session III, Wolves and Souls

Curse of Strahd, Session III, Wolves and Souls

In which the Outlands Expedition Team heads to the village of Barovia and is tested by a pack of wolves.

  • Bugwump throws up a Leomund’s Tiny Hut and everyone tries to get some rest after the battle of Ravenwatch. Kuru was on watch when the wolves came the first time, digging around the magical bubble put up by Bugwump. Then they returned in greater numbers with a villager. When the biggest wolf put his jaws on the villager’s throat, the villager says, “Strahd is the Land and the Land is Strahd!” over and over.

  • Bugwump wanted everyone to just let him sleep but that wasn’t the team consensus. They jumped out and handled the wolves. Helewyn misty-stepped and saved the villager. Kuru threw a lightning bolt and zapped 6 wolves in a shot. In a round of combat the wolves were about wiped.

  • The last wolf vomited out an envelope but the group just shoved it into a fire before retreating into the forest.

  • The villager they saved is named Kobal. Gem of True Seeing showed that Kobal didn’t seem to have a soul. After some discussion and some History and Arcana rolls, they realized that there aren’t enough souls in the demi-plane, some are without. What does this mean?

    Welcome to Ravenloft: Enter the Mists for
    the Gothic Fantasy.

    Stay for the philosophical debates concerning souls.

    Failed Soldier is eyeing Kobal’s body; his current body, the corpse of the thief-god, is starting to decompose.

  • They visited Bildrath’s Mercantile and saw Outlands Expedition Team code (y’know, like the old hobo glyphs). It said that the prices were inflated. And now that is a cool thing in the setting to look for when another team has been somewhere.

  • One of the members of the previous team was a vampire in the initial attack but they’re thinking about the rest of the team. A while ago I asked friends to make up members of an expedition team, so I have fun descriptions of the other team.


    An inquisitive bespectacled dwarf knowledge cleric who has spent a century cataloging various Outland portals. Membership in the OET feeds his need for discovery. Send this fool to Ravenloft.


    An herbalist who rustles when they walk from all the dry leaf-filled pouches they have with them. Their sense of organization is terrible, though. Lot of digging, fair amount of tasting & chewing to verify. Which sometimes leads to minor incapacitation, sure.

    Adjo, a veteran of three wars, a skilled tracker of a dozen terrains, cursed with a soft heart. Also: He could give a shit about the O.E.T., only agreeing to it to use the deputization in his secret quest to find his fugitive daughter.


    A one-eyed Tiefling Warlock pledged to Vecna.  They wield a wickedly sharp sword made of bone and sinew.  They are tasked by Vecna to find strongholds of Kas and destroy them.  The OET is a cover for their real mission. How does the Lady of Pain feel about this?

  • After seeing Helewyn misty-step, Jusko told her about his magic sword, a vorpal blade with a long and ancient history of beheading. “When the time comes, you misty-step to Strahd and you will have this sword. He saw it on me but won’t know that it is on you now…”

human/bat skeleton divder

This t-shirt and more in the Tabletop Role-Playing Games collection…

The Between: The St. James’s Street Ghost

The Between: The St. James’s Street Ghost


“But if one is to engage with the primordial forces of darkness, one must expect a bit of social awkwardness.”

Penny Dreadful, S1E2, Séance

The Thursday night posse six players, only two could make it. So, I invited a dear friend who I knew was game-hungry (after checking in with the two other players) and read over The Between by Jason Cardova. There are only so many nights for gaming during the Halloween season and the slight chill in the air means tonight is one of them. Felt wrong to cancel; let’s play.

Pumpkin headed ghost things riding black cats on a Hallowe’en card from NYPL’s Digital Collection: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/5b060c20-5234-0132-c398-58d385a7bbd0

I don’t like one-shots. I can do them but just don’t really enjoy them. At cons, even after a great con session, I’m always left feeling, “That was fun but the next session would’ve been even better.” The Between‘s mechanics agree with me. The game’s structure has different phases (Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night). We get through Day and into Dusk in two hours (including chargen). The first session guidelines are very clear. After two hours the mechanics were just starting to get warmed up and we had details generated through play that were good fun.

Bar-armed skeleton


Below are the clues gathered by the intrepid supernatural hunters of the Hargrave House:

Harold’s ledger contains entries for strange household expenses he can’t explain, like “thought-casting” and “dream whisperer” and “pig gifts.”

A porcelain vase filled with fresh, warm blood.

The sound of someone falling down stairs; there’s no one there when you investigate.

A stack of love letters from another time.

Those are right off of the pre-made Threat, The St. James’s Street Ghost out of the book, suggested as the Threat to start with. But it isn’t a monster of the week, where each threat will be tidied up. During the next Day phase I’d probably introduce a new threat. I like the idea of them piling up a bit – not EVERY Day phase but enough that things get a little hectic and busy.

Bar-armed skeleton

Residents of the Hargrave House

Our characters were (with pics of Queen Victoria’s blood-spattered head as bullet-points):

Eoin Clay, the American, the Duchess’ resident American, don’t you know.

Winfree Humes, the Duchess’ servant

Duchess Josephine Thornwood, Duchess of Abercald

Bar-armed skeleton


During the Dusk phase, we set a scene in a room in Hargrave House, the characters’ headquarters, and flesh it out a bit. The question for the Trophy Room asked the table what the hunters of the supernatural who had previously lived in the house had left. We’ve got a box full of vampire teeth, a fire-scorched unicorn’s horn and a jar filled with vinegar with an organ floating in it labelled, Siren’s Voice-Box. The Questions put in place to ask players for these kinds of scenes (painting the scene, Jason calls it) are well wrought, written by someone who has used this technique for years.

I need to talk more about Unscenes but barely got to touch this new toy, only kind of hinted at their existence as we finished the Dusk phase and ended the first session. They come to life in the Night phase. More on Unscenes later.

When I read that the GM didn’t have an idea of what the mystery actually was and would find out through dice rolls along with the rest of the table, I was skeptical. Shit works. The way the Answer a Question move is fed from clues found in the Information Move is really slick.

The Dawn Questions are clearly Blades in the Dark XP tech but choosing 2 of the 5 XP prompts from a list is a classy touch.

Masks are kind of like Resistance Rolls, only instead of rolling the player narrates something about their past or evolves and changes and it nudges the results up a tier. From a miss to a 7-9, from 7-9 to 10-11 and 10-11 to a 12+. You can nudge the dice but doing so either unveils a piece of the character’s history or activates something from their past and brings it into the game as a concrete Threat.

I’m smitten and not because Jason is a friend and co-conspirator. Believe me when I tell you that I’ve played friends’ games before and not written about them. It is $15. Go grab a copy and walk the streets of Victorian London with your friends this Halloween. Let me know how it goes.

Bar-armed skeleton


As the game ended, Mr. Humes handing the Beale baby off to the Duchess’ maid, the Duchess was reading up on London ghosts and Eoin Clay was standing under a neighbor’s eaves in the rain, smoking a cigar, watching the haunted house they were investigating, waiting for something to happen.

Night was about to fall; something was about to occur.

Looking forward to finding out what and how this trio will deal with it, what we’ll learn about them in the process.

Bar-armed skeleton


Curse of Strahd, Session II, Battle of Ravenwatch

Curse of Strahd / Session II / Battle of Ravenatch with bats fluttering in the light of a huge moon
human/bat skeleton
  • Kuru, being followed by Strahd, throws a fake amulet in another direction so he can get to Jusko and turn invisible. Deception with Dex bonus; Strahd falls for the sleight of hand.

  • Battle on the stairway continues with Failed Soldier, Corpseflea Grave Cleric, Helewynn, Moon Elf Barbarian and Bugwump, Frog-kin Wizard. Interesting judgment call when the cleric cast Daylight. Does it count as sunlight against vampires? Third level cleric spell, I said it does (to great effect). It doesn’t say so in the spell description but…seems clear to me.


  • Failed Soldier opened a portal door near a shrine to Ulmed to what usually leads to a Godroad but it was only a closet with old scrolls with desperate unanswered prayers. No Godroads in Ravenloft, it seems.

    There was a prayer from a young lady who has dreams about being chased and killed by Strahd…

  • Jusko tried to intimidate Strahd but they tied. Would it have damaged Strahd’s mystique if he had pulled back his forces after an intimidation check? Maybe.

    It was a cool-ass speech.

  • Trundle tried to save the Cardinal Inquisitor’s life after his chest was ripped open by Strahd but they died for good when Strahd threw a fireball at Kuru, the Halfling Rogue, Jusko, Human Fighter and Trundle, Dwarven Ranger. He damaged them badly, some folks were in single digits at that point.

    Jusko talked shit to him about throwing a spell.

  • Then Jusko and Trundle joined the battle on the stairwell, leaving Kuru alone and invisible in the room with the portal to Sigil. Strahd polymorphed into Jusko and begged the City Agent to take away the telekinetic block on their side of the portal. The block came down and Kuru attempted to destroy the portal with his knife that can cut spells. He did 18 of 20 points of damage but didn’t quite bring it down. Next round, Strahd would walk through the portal into Sigil.

  • Helewynn traded blows with a Moon Elf sworn to Strahd. Helewynn expressed disdain for one of her own kind serving a monster; the Moon Elf sister answered, “You should learn more about the Lady of Pain before judging me for serving Strahd.”

    For those following at home, Rahadin is now a Moon Elf maiden.

    In the end, Rahadin misty-stepped away as Strahd departed.

  • Jusko tackled Strahd and Trundle cut him with a flame-brand short sword, leaving a scar. Strahd turned to mist and withdrew as Bugwup took position in front of the portal, rocking a, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

    Strahd could’ve made it through the portal but he would’ve been damaged during daylight (it was day in Sigil) in a strange new place. He had seen a Githyanki mage and a Drider on the other side. Nah, he’ll withdraw and come at it another way.

  • They grabbed what they could from the monastery and headed out into the forest.

    Stuff: magic sword from Cardinal Inquisitor, map of Barovia, Book of Strahd, Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, Books on Monster Hunting, Books on Demi-Planar Theory, cloaks, foodstuffs, etc.

    One of the dead vampires was a member of the former Outlands Expedition Team

  • No levels this session via the Bingo Board XP:

human/bat skeleton

This design and more in the Tabletop Role-Playing Game Collection…

    Curse of Strahd, Session I: Welcome to Barovia

    Curse of Strahd, Session I: Welcome to Barovia

    Curse of Strahd I Welcome to Barovia
    Skeleton with bat-skeleton wings, section divider
    • The Outlands Expedition Team goes through a portal in an abandoned side-street of Sigil into Ravenwatch, a monastery in Ravenloft, the Demi-Plane of Dread, being used as a chapterhouse by the Ulmist Inquisitors. The Outlands Expedition Team’s mission is to retrieve any living members of the last team to attempt this mission and stop Strahd from breaking free of Ravenloft.

    • The Godroads have been their ace in the hole and their research to find out if the Godroads reach into the Demi-Plane of Dread was inconclusive. They found a vague mention of it in Jusko’s great-great aunt’s diary: “No prayers seem to reach this fell place.”

    • Speaking of Jusko, his family abandoned his ancestral home. Turns out someone (psst, it is Jusko who did it) wrote the family name on a young world and the family has left to live there, as it is their birthright. I’ve been sitting on that detail for months; it was nice to finally have a good reason to share it.

    • Another bit of lore they dug up, talking to Jusko’s dead great-grandfather, is that Strahd had a wizard counselor who became a lich and left Barovia to rule a domain of his own in the Demi-Plane of Dread. If anyone might know a way out of Ravenloft, it’d be Azalin Rex…

    • The portal is locked on the Sigil-side by a Githyanki psionicist who blocks it with a telekinetic wall. As they enter into Ravenwatch’s cellar, Strahd’s attack begins. Swarms of bats and rats cover the floor and ceiling.

    • Bugwump thunderwaves the swarms back, clearing the path for Failed Soldier and Hellewyn to take the fight to the stairs, where heavily armored vampire spawn are attacking with zombies on chains like hounds. They feel Strahd’s fell presence move by them at great speed but do not see him.

    • In a moment of the battle in which Bugwump thunderwaves the vampire spawn and their zombies, Hellewyn sees a moon-elf, of similar lineage to her own, fighting on Strahd’s side at the top of the steps.

    • Jusko stayed in the room with the portal, seeing himself as the link between the split party. As Strahd passes, he welcomes his cousin, Jusko Hajek, to Barovia. Jusko, vorpal sword in hand, beckons Strahd to come closer. Strahd recognizes the ancient blade and declines. “We will talk under more hospitable circumstances. Welcome to Barovia.” Jusko feels Strahd move away.

    • Kuru and Trundle use oil and fire to clear the swarms, trying to get to a secret armory. The inquisitor is killed by Strahd, who plunges his hands into his chest cavity and opens him up like a can of beans. Kuru’s failed Perception check tells him that the Inquisitor is dead; there is no saving him.

    • I forgot to look at the map I keyed weeks ago and the notes I made for that map. *sigh*

      Still, it was a fun start. We ended in the midst of the battle and will begin there next week.

    Return of the Skeleton with bat-skeleton wings, section divider

    If you want to read more about the Ulmist Inquisitors, I wrote up 13 fell pages in a pdf.

    Dungeons and Dragons and Me

    The Third Bedroom was the room where the entrance to the attic was and it was filled with stuff my parents did not know what to do with – luggage, old crafting supplies and this little game in a box called Dungeons & Dragons. My parents had it as received as a gift at some point in the late 70’s, early 80’s.

    Every once in a while I’d go into this room that had never been repainted, still with those lime green walls, I’d open what is called by old school folks as the Holmes Boxed Set. I’d roll the dice in the box-top and read it over. I couldn’t ever quite make sense of it. When I asked my mom, she told me it was a game that did not use a board and took place only in our imaginations.

    I was intrigued but I didn’t get it.

    A local kid I knew had the AD&D hardcovers. I asked him about them. He told me that I’d need the Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual at least, if I wanted to play. I told my mom this and she told me that was nonsense, the game took place in one’s imagination. She never told me I couldn’t have those books but just wanted me to know that kid was probably wrong.

    I sat on that for a year or so and that is when I met Rob. Rob was a few years older and his backyard and my backyard were connected. I could see his house from the northern window in the lime-green Third Bedroom. He introduced me to Marvel’s FASERIP and brought me in to the D&D group. I started 6th grade that year and the only fun social interactions I had in middle school were with a bunch of eighth graders in the library before school.

    Now I’m a librarian. Coincidence?

    The unforgettable FASERIP chart.

    The group was playing AD&D. I made a Kender/Thief because I heard they had a power where I could make fun of a bad guy and make them angry. As a stuttering 6th grader that sounded amazing. I hadn’t read the Dragonlance books.

    The AD&D books were opaque to me. I was the youngest in the group and did not understand them.

    Outside the box thinking – sure. Making up fun, goofy shit – absolutely. But I started to tell the group and told myself that I just didn’t have the head for these game mechanics.

    The books I would borrow and flip through and skim and read over and over were the Monster Manual, the Monster Manual 2 and the beloved Fiend Folio. I’d spend whole afternoons just slowly flipped through them and daydreaming.

    By the time I was coaxed into DMing a game, 2nd edition had come out. After years of bouncing off D&D game books, I wasn’t that interested in the Player’s Handbook or the Dungeon Master’s Guide but I loved the new Monster Manuals. Again, I’d flip through them for hours.

    Monstrous Compendium volume one, the old 3-ringed binder.

    When we talked about game mechanics, everyone had strong opinions that mostly led to – system doesn’t matter, the people at the table matter more. Game mechanics seemed to get in the way, teenage Judd thought.

    I didn’t know the rules real well but I read every fantasy novel I could get my hands on and had daydreamed enough about monsters that I had ideas on where to insert them and how to play them. Repetition and osmosis had given me enough of a grasp on the mechanics to run a game.

    I ran a D&D game in high school, ripping off the Wheel of Time. Taking what D&D mythology I could glean from here and there, I ran a game in the pre-history of D&D, where elves (the Drow hadn’t left yet, the were rumors of demon-spider cults) and dwarves had just ended a long war; Vecna was still a human wizard-emperor with a loyal knight named Kaz.

    In college I found Ars Magica, Deadlands and Legend of the Five Rings. I went away to Japan and didn’t game at all. When I got back, 3rd Edition was in full swing. I picked it up and liked it. I liked the chapter where they walked through making a new class, the Witch. The game seemed to know that the players were going to hack the game.

    In the months before Fellowship of the Ring came out, I rolled up a bunch of Hobbit (okay, Halfling) characters and ran a game where they found a dragon egg and had to protect it against evil forces.

    Late twenties were a blur – RPG.net, the Forge, Dust Devils, Sorcerer, Riddle of Steel, Unknown Armies, Burning Wheel…

    Holy shit, I’m 30-something.

    4th Edition came out.

    I had watched 3rd Edition’s release on Eric Noah’s site that is now EN World. But 4th Edition was the first time I saw D&D under the full weight of the internet’s gaze. I liked D&D but I had other games I could go to. I didn’t feel like I needed D&D to be any particular thing.

    I never DMed 4th edition but I played it a bit and liked it. The online vitriol surrounding it was odd to me. It was the first edition that came out where I didn’t approach the text with a I’m-no-good-with-game-mechanics mindset. I felt confident in my ability to understand a game and had other games to go to if I didn’t like this one.

    D&D 4e Player’s Handbook.

    My most profound 4e moment: A friend told me about a campaign he was playing in and his character was getting into arguments with other characters. Tensions were high. I suggested that he, “Stop playing Burning Wheel and enjoy D&D 4th for what it is. There is no way to mechanically make those arguments have any weight. Enjoy the teamwork and the synergy. Enjoy D&D.” He took my advice, pivoted and enjoyed the game.

    My 4th edition books went to a friend who was getting into a game right as I was moving; I gave him the books with no obligation to ever return them. I didn’t hate 4e but wasn’t sure I’d ever run it.

    “It is a cool game, just not for me right now,” I said as I piled a few boxes of books into a friend’s car.

    D&D Player’s Handbook, 5e

    5th edition came out when I was on the verge of turning 40. There are so many indie RPG’s I enjoy playing that I felt pretty distant from it.

    Nowadays, I GM a D&D 5e game on Thursday nights, not streamed. That game began as the pandemic started and a friend was feeling poorly. We weren’t sure what it was and I asked if I could do something for him – “Can I grab you something from the pharmacy or do some food shopping for you?”

    “Could you run a game this Thursday?”

    “Of course I can,” and we’ve been gaming most Thursdays since then.

    And that is where we are. D&D is the 800 pound gorilla of the industry. I’m not sure what the industry has to do with me. It sometimes feels odd to play a game a friend didn’t make.

    D&D is the category, tag and hashtag that gets lots of eyes on words. Mostly D&D is the game we play on Thursday night.

    I don’t hack and homebrew D&D rules (BINGO!) because I need D&D to be anything. I hack and homebrew because I want tools to help our sessions be better.

    An example bingo board; how we level up on Thursdays…

    I like playing it with my friends. I like how that play inspires stuff I can publish.

    After years of playing, writing forum posts about, podcasting about and thinking about indie RPG’s, I struggled with a bunch of guilt playing a corporate game. I still do. This game, owned by Hasbro, that has contorted and changed as I’ve grown up gaming is just another game I play sometimes.

    Check out this design and more in the TTRPG Collection…


    Cozy, Melancholy and Inspiring

    While moving, our mail was on hold; I was delighted to find that Wanderhome had arrived. Janaki and I are looking over the playbooks and just savoring the amazing design. The game is cozy, melancholy and inspiring.

    Wanderhome, fresh out of the box at the post office.

    Here’s an amazing interview on Slice and Dice with Jay Dragon, Wanderhome’s designer and co-founder of Possum Creek Games.

    Check out this tweet thread about Wanderhome by @Pandatheist if you’d like to know more:

    My creepy subject divider skeleton to lead into links to a game about ghosts…

    The Possum Creek Games crew is about to kickstart Our Haunt by Jammi the Sword Queen.

    Grab yourself some October Hugs, in goth and autumnal colors only.


    All artist’s proceeds to the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network.

    Questions before the Curse of Strahd

    Questions before the Curse of Strahd

    Curse of Strahd, big moon, bats, castle…you get the idea.

    I like having an online community for a particular game night and/or campaign (Oy, I miss G+). One of the things I’ve been doing is asking the players questions in the week before the game. If they answer it, GREAT, I have material to inspire the game. If they don’t answer the question because they’re busy or don’t spend as much time on social media platforms, GREAT (and legit), I can ask the question during the game and get inspiration and energy during the session.

    Even if I don’t ask these questions in play and the player never answers it out loud, seeing the question gets the players thinking and daydreaming about the answers and more often than not, the idea comes out in play through the players’ actions. Asking good questions is a good tool for getting the vibe of the game across.

    Vampire Bones paragraph divider

    Jusko – Your family’s ancestral lands neighbored ancient Barovia. What was the Hajek family’s relationship to the cursed von Zarovich clan?

    Jusko is a human fighter with a complicated family and a sense of honor about him that I enjoy. Clearly, his family knew Strahd’s family when he was mortal, back in the day. There have also been clear hints that the Mists are interested in Jusko as possible Darklord material.

    Vampire Bones paragraph divider

    Helewyn – How do you (or your Goddess) feel about lycanthropes who change shape with the full moon?

    Helewyn is an Eladrin Barbarian who served a moon goddess. The player’s answer was awesome and gave me clear ties to lycanthropes and their relationship to the moon.

    Vampire Bones paragraph divider

    Kuru – What do you remember of the nomadic Vistani people who would stay for a season near the shire you where you were raised and trade with your family?

    My question for Kuru, Halfling Rogue (but really, he’s an old school Thief all the way) brought out a great conversation about the depiction of the Vistani, racism against the Romany people and not wanting to punch down. It was a valuable conversation, not only for the real life implications but because it really tied Kuru to the Vistani people in a real way and allowed me to, as Apocalypse World would say, announce future badness (link to AP post about the previous session if you want to see the Future Badness in action).

    Vampire Bones paragraph divider

    Trundle – What was Trundle’s first brush with the darker parts of the forest, where sun never penetrates the canopy and fell beasts hunt the weak?

    I didn’t get an answer to Trundle’s question, so I’ll save it for the game. I might ask during play or might ask before play when we’re just getting prepped and putting our dice in order in our pre-game.

    Vampire Bones paragraph divider

    Bugwump – What had you uncovered about the Demi-Plane of Dread when you were an Arch-Mage?

    Bugwump’s character handed me a gift that I’ve written about before. The player treated Ravenloft with an appropriate amount of dread and foreboding in his answer. Even as an Arch-Mage, his character avoided the Demi-Plane of Dread. Cool stuff.

    Vampire Bones paragraph divider

    Failed Soldier – What does your religion’s parables say about the First Vampire, Strahd, a great warrior whose fell deeds drew the attention of fell powers?

    Again, Failed Soldier’s player didn’t answer, which is great, I’ll ask later. Failed Soldier (whose name is derived from the first corpse the Corpseflea character was in when the game began) is a Grave Cleric. I can’t wait to get this character to Ravenloft. I think it is going to be fun.

    Vampire Bones paragraph divider

    Mistakes Were Made (it was fun) and more designs like this in my TTRPG Collection…

    Post-Tomb of Annihilation/Pre-Curse of Strahd

    Post-Tomb of Annihilation/Pre-Curse of Strahd

    Omu: the Lost City in their past, Curse of Strahd in their future.

    Back from thwarting Acererak (but not facing him directly), the Outlands Expeditions Team returns to Sigil in the midst of the 1000 Faces Festival. Music and dancing in the streets at all hours…

    Silver Sword/Lich Queen line separator

    I did a few things with the Facebook group to get some details and flesh some things out. I made a poll with a bunch of masks for characters to wear during the festival. Some chose from the choices, others made up their own.

    And I asked questions to get into the spirit of heading to the Demi-Plane of Dread.

    Jusko – Your family’s ancestral lands neighbored ancient Barovia. What was the Hajek family’s relationship to the cursed von Zarovich clan?

    Helewyn – How do you (or your Goddess) feel about lycanthropes who change shape with the full moon?

    Kuru – What do you remember of the nomadic Vistani people who would stay for a season near the shire you where you were raised and trade with your family?

    Trundle – What was Trundle’s first brush with the darker parts of the forest, where sun never penetrates the canopy and fell beasts hunt the weak?

    Bugwump – What had you uncovered about the Demi-Plane of Dread when you were an Arch-Mage?

    Failed Soldier – What does your religion’s parables say about the First Vampire, Strahd, a great warrior whose fell deeds drew the attention of fell powers?

    Not everyone answers but the answers I get I use. It led to a good discussion about the Vistani and not wanting to punch down in our depiction of them. Those who didn’t answer in type I’ll ask “face to face” over Zoom at the next game; I forgot to do so tonight.

    Basic, ask questions and use the answers stuff but having a digital home for the game makes asking the questions easy.

    Outlands Expedition Team, Deputized by the Lady of Pain, Clerk Ward, Sigil
    • Trundle got into the spirit of things, wearing a Devil mask and doing a public carving celebrating their last adventure, carving a triptych of hobbits upon dinosaurs out of a piece of wood the size of an elephant.

    • Anthony described Kuru wearing a kind of rosary beads that Vistani would recognize. I told him that in Barovia the gods are Mother Night and the Morning Lord. Perhaps the beads are Mother Night’s stars. He met an old woman and had his fortune read. I dropped some game details as per the module.

    • Kuru specifically asked about allies, which is part of the fortune telling in the book. I offered a few – a Mad Mage near Mount Bartok, an undead knight in his old order’s keep and the people they would meet upon arriving, could be allies, if any survived. “Your arrival will be covered in blood. I doubt any will survive.”

    • Bugwump took what the woman said very seriously, having known about the Demi-Plane of Dread from his Arch-Mage days. He sought out an arcane historian and learned that Strahd was the First Vampire and is a capable wizard in his own right. He also learned that Strahd seeks out Tatyanna because she is a capable Planar Arcanist who could help him escape his prison.

    • Kuru visited the tenement building the Vistani were staying with in Sigil and learned that *DUN DUN DUN* /dramatic music Mother Eva had been dead for a week! He had been visited by her spirit. It was a nice way to wrap up a low-key game.

    I’m looking forward to getting into Ravenloft just as Autumn approaches. Our next game isn’t for 2 weeks, a friend at the table pointed out that we’d be heading to Ravenloft as Halloween approaches, which is fun.

    As we approach Ravenloft, this shirt seems relevant. Check out this design and more at this link.


    Further D&D-but-Pirates Daydreaming

    I’m listening the audiobook of Mid-shipman Hornblower and I’ve got a D&D but Pirates pinterest board, so I guess this is getting pretty serious (from when it started way back a few weeks ago). 😛

    I was looking over the nautical rules in Ghosts of Saltmarsh and have vague ideas that ships have full stats, including Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma based on their class and history. Ship classes are monster names. Big, dramatic dragon-class ships, sleek, fast griffon-class ships, slow, well armored dragon-turtle-class ships…etc. Maybe you can level ships up?

    Dungeons and Dragons with a gold pirate skull and a nautical map thingie…

    My dad is visiting and I had this idea about getting friends together and running a game with him. Give them some choices:

    Blockade Runners getting goods past a line of ships in the midst of a vicious war.

    Privateers with a Letter of Marque from a liege.

    Straight-up Pirates, looking to grow their fleet or support their secret port.

    Zealot Pirates worshipping some kind of sea deity that we’d make up together.

    I’m thinking Ship sheets inspired by Blades in the Dark‘s crew sheets or maybe choose the type of piratical fun based on the type of ship…ala Scum and Villainy each with its own starting Situation.

    Captain, First Mate, Bosun, Carpenter, Press Ganged as Backgrounds, perhaps. But I like the idea of pirates who were once Folk Heroes, Scholars, Acolytes or Marines…nah, no new backgrounds.

    The Skull and Shackle Adventure Path is ripe for pillaging, says I.

    The nautical daydreaming shall continue. I’m seeing a homebrew world of islands and storm saints. The sea is calling to me…

    If you be daydreaming about pirates, check out this design for your t-shirt, button, mask, notebook or shower curtain…

    Tomb of Annihilation – Hit and Run Finale

    Tomb of Annihilation – Hit and Run Finale

    Tomb of Annihilation cover by me.
    • The team shamed the Red Wizards into dealing with every other puzzle room. They dealt with a room with anti-gravity and a whirling death fan. Two of the Red Wizards died and when the anti-gravity ended it rained death down on their friends. Kuru the Halfling Rogue subtly mage-handed the magic items on the dead wizards; it was a good haul.

    • Having smart NPCs handle 2 of the puzzle rooms was a fun way to speed it up. I made some rolls on their behalf to see how they did. My disdain of some parts of this adventure were made known to my friends.

    • Then they jumped into the room with the Godling and the Soulmonger, the engine that Acererak was using to make his own death god. The Soulmonger was held up by Adamantine struts. Cut down one strut and the engine falls into the lava below. I secretly hoped that Jusko’s vorpal sword would cut down a strut.

    • They dog-piled the Godling. I forgot lots of stuff in the room that would’ve made he fight harder. It was still fun, still felt epic.

    • Before they entered the final room, Trundle the Dwarf Ranger did the math on the nearest Godroad; it was a hundred yards from the opening of the dungeon back the way they came.

    • While everyone else was killing the Demi-Lich’s Godling, Trundle was poking around the balconies and found a portal to an altar. And there was a doorway to a Godroad. They had an exit plan. Nice work.

    • At one point Bugwump the Frog-kin Wizard made a HUGE Arcana check on the Godling and realized that Acererak would arrive within a few rounds of them killing it due to a spell on it. I rolled a d4 when the Godling died. 3 rounds.

    • Jusko the Human Fighter, Helewyn the Elf Barbarian and Failed Soldier the Corpse-flea Grave Cleric were doing their best on the struts but not having much luck. Then Jusko talked to his word and beseeched it to do its old head-lopping job (what Drew said was way cooler). Nat 20. Boo-ya.

    • They ran out the fading door to the Godroads just as Acererak arrived, screaming in frustration. – mission accomplished.

    • They earned a boatload of levels on the Bingo Board. 7 levels to be divvied up among the party.

    • We’ll do some fun downtime during Sigil’s carnivale/Mardi Gras-style mask party holiday. I’m going to make up funky carousing rules based on what mask they choose to wear.

    • Then we’re off to the Demi-Plane of Dread, where a neighboring Outlands Expedition Team went on a mission and went missing.

    Outlands Expedition Team, Deputized by the Lady of Pain, Clerk Ward, Sigil

    In honor of those vorpal blade 20’s that come right when you need them, you deserve a Talk Sh!t; Roll Crits t-shirt.