July 24th, 2017
marz: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] marz at 08:34am on 24/07/2017 under
I managed to get the game ready enough to start the adventure on Roll20 in time for our usual Sunday game. I thought I would need an extra week, but I powered through a lot on Friday and Saturday and felt comfortable enough that I could run a two hour session easily with what I had prepped.

We had a bit of technical hiccups at the start because while my parents are fairly computer literate, they get frazzled very easily when things aren't what they expect. Once we got that sorted we could begin.

I started the adventure in the inn at Phandelver. I told them they had spent several weeks cleaning up after their adventures. Gundren Rockseeker, the dwarf who had initially hired them and who they saved, had spent the time getting the Lost Mine cleared out and started his profitable mining operation.

The first thing that happened was that Mr Unknown (yes that was my son's character name for his wood elf monk) was missing. All his gear was gone and they couldn't find him. My Dad (Meladin the Paladin) role-played a bit and said that he was with him the night before in the taproom carousing with wenches (Meladin is a paladin and MARRIED to my Mom's character so why he was in the taproom carousing, I have no idea). Anyway, Mom (Marraven the Fighter) was very insistent to try to track down her missing party member. When they asked around the inn, the innkeeper revealed that Mr Unknown had paid him and his staff very well to keep their traps shut. He told them that Mr Unknown wanted to leave without leaving a trace and they were best to keep their noses out of it. I think Marraven was a bit disgruntled by that.

I was amused because I thought I had said to them privately that my son was switching characters and I expected them to just roll with it. Mom's persistence was actually spot on her character traits which is that she would die for one of her party members.

Anyway, Gundren appears soon after telling them that he has a new mission for them if they are willing to accept it. Dad pipes up that they are down one party member and Gundren assures them that he actually had been asked by another person in town to hire an adventurer they knew to the mission. Gundren got their acceptance and wandered off to collect the hired adventurer so he could give the details to everyone involved at once.

Gundren reappears with the town's Zhentarim agent Halia and an unknown Tiefling in long robes. A pseudo dragon was on his shoulder with its tail wrapped around one of the tiefling's horns.

Gundren introduces Halia and Uulbruz the Warlock. He then goes on to explain that he has his first load of platinum ingots that he wishes to send to Red Larch where it would be picked up by a caravan heading to Eastern Lands for a tidy profit. Halia interjects that there are rumours that the roads are plagued by mysterious sudden weather events and an increase in bandits, monsters and other things hassling people on the caravan routes.

Halia makes eye contact with my husband (Mr X the Rogue) and makes the Zhentarim hand signal. She wanders away and Uulbruz and Mr X follow her. She introduces the two men to each other and explains as Zhentarim agents she needs them to work together to discover the origin of a rumour that had reached her in Phandalin. Apparently an important delegation making their way from Mirabar in the north to Waterdeep in the south have gone missing somewhere in the Dessarin Valley. Since Gundren's caravan is heading into the valley, it is their job to discover what they can about the missing delegation. The story came via a trapper in Red Larch and she suggests they start their with their investigations.

After that they spend most of their time on the road travelling. As DM I have to roll every morning, afternoon, evening and midnight for random encounters. I didn't roll very well for the encounters, but I did manage to get three to happen on the route.

The first was a group of pilgrims who arrived at their campsite during the second watch. Uulbruz was on duty and took the approach of waiting and seeing what would happen before alerting his companions. The footsteps and obvious indication of people travelling eventually resulted in someone calling out to the camp and asking if they could share their campsite for the night. Uulbruz then woke his companions to confer with them.

Meladin was NOT having any of it. He was positive the pilgrims were out to do battle with them. Marraven was equally suspicious. Uulbruz the Warlock kept saying "But they are priests!" and Mr X said nothing. He rarely says anything until there is a battle.

Anyway, Meladin basically hooked up the horses to the wagon and had everyone pack up so they could leave at a moment's notice. The pilgrims settled in at the fire and offered to share their tea and stew with them. Marraven and Meladin declined stating poison and dire consequences. Uulbruz had a cup of tea.

The night passed uneventfully and the pilgrims started leaving early. The lead priest thanked them for sharing their fire and blessed the party before heading off in the direction of Phandalin.

The party started off again and made it to the town of Triboar that evening. Just before they reached the town they saw signs of banditry with pieces of wagons strewn at the side of the road, obvious signs of battle and even some hastily dug graves off to the side. They stayed at the local inn and heard more tales of strange weather and missing/overdue people.

The next morning they were heading south on The Long Road towards Red Larch. Just after they made it past Black Maw Bog, they were ambushed by a group of strange individuals with shark-toothed longsword and another that shape-shifted into a water serpent. The battle was long and drawn out since both sides missed a lot, but the party was victorious. They found the symbol of the water cult (they don't know for sure it is a water cult, but they used "water cultists" in their descriptions in subsequent interactions). I'm not sure if I slipped in my description, but I was pleased that they identified them as a water cult.

They quickly went south again and saw a homestead (another random encounter, of course I get the non-combat ones). The farmers waved them down asking for news. Meladin quickly says they were just attacked on the road by what appeared to be a group of cultists. The farmer mentions that he has seen hooded robed figures in the hills at night and that most people in the area are afraid to leave their farms. Meladin assures them that the group they encountered were dealt with, but advises caution and to warn any caravans heading north. The farmer assures them that he will do so and also inform his neighbours. He offers them fresh baked bread and the party happily takes it.

They make it to the town of Westbridge and once again stay at an inn. I can see my husband starting to get a bit bored with all the travelling. He is much more of a dungeon crawl player than a story driven player. Still he is playing which is great since he was resistant to even trying D&D. Since it had been close to two hours of gameplay, I decided to have them spend the night at the inn and stop the adventure for that day.

They did encounter the innkeeper who was a jolly halfling. Meladin once again informed him of the dangers they had on the route and the innkeeper said he had heard such happenings from other travellers. He was also worried about a regular customer, a dwarf prospector who hasn't returned to the inn for quite some time. Meladin stated that they had heard lots of reports of missing or delayed people.

And that is where they ended their adventure. It was a lot of travelling, but I think the encounters made it a bit interesting. I know they all prefer a good battle more than just description of travelling, but I can't just instantly teleport them to Red Larch and needed a good increase in tension about the problems in the Dessarin Valley due to the cultists' machinations. My party decided to take their Lost Mines of Phandelver characters into the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure (expect for kiddo who rerolled) so the level 1 to 3 events in Red Larch will be missed and I think that added a lot to build up the impact of the cults rising in power in the Valley.

The plan is to get the party to Red Larch fairly quickly at the start of the next session so they can dig into the rumours and see where they lead them. I'm hoping they go for the air cultists first as that is the lowest level encounter, but knowing them they will beeline to some high level thing and I will be juggling to keep them mostly alive.
July 21st, 2017
aome: pile of books (books)
posted by [personal profile] aome at 11:53pm on 21/07/2017 under , , , ,
Life continues apace, nothing really that exciting going on. I did spend the day in PA on Wed, attending two TKD classes and visiting a friend. This was both good, and concerning. )

Otherwise, it's been steadily hotter and hotter all week, reaching about 96F/35.5C yesterday, and only slightly better today. I skipped exercise class last night because it was still about 100F/37C with the humidity, and even in the shade, exercising outside just didn't seem like the smartest move. On the other hand, our neighbors have been very generous with their pool, and I took the kids over twice this week for some cooling relief. The two youngest kittens (sibs) were spayed/neutered yesterday. I get that the cats are her children, but the amount of worrying Karen does when something like this comes up (from isolating them so they don't eat before surgery, to worrying if the vet techs are giving them enough love, to thinking something might be wrong with the girl kitty because she wasn't hungry right after surgery) is enough to drive me batshit. Oh, and she called me in the middle of the day today to ask how they were doing. Thankfully, they're both pretty much normal at this point.

This morning, Will and I took Two to see the new Spiderman: Homecoming movie. Overall view: I liked it, but didn't love it. But I think that has more to do with where this Spiderman is in his life than as a comment on the movie as a whole - it was definitely done well, but... )

In books, I finished reading Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, which [personal profile] hamsterwoman gave me for my birthday. I'm now re-reading it to Two, because of some of the LGBT themes in the story ) The first part of the book takes awhile to get going, with a lot of worldbuilding and character establishing going on, but I'm only really noticing that when I'm re-reading it aloud to Two. When I was reading it for myself, it didn't really bother me. Of course, some of the "plot twists" in the story you could see coming from a mile away, but that was ok, too. Anyway, I enjoyed the book and will be on the lookout for the sequel, which will seem to be Bells' story. Thank you again, [personal profile] hamsterwoman!

And speaking of reading aloud to Two, we finished reading the second Apollo book by Riordan, The Dark Prophecy. Not too much to say there except that it was typical Riordan in that it blended mythology, adventure and smart-ass humor. Apollo is finally starting to be less of an ass, a trend that I hope we continue to see in the next book, whenever that comes out. Apollo starting all the chapters with a haiku is pretty amusing, too. Anyway, we liked it.

Currently reading Raven Boys #2: The Dream Thieves. Still at the beginning, but I'm enjoying it.

Other than that, it's the usual: prodding kids to do homework, being followed around by Two every moment, chores, errands, exercise, worrying a lot about an flister friend, and trying to sneak in some time for myself now and then. An exciting life.
piratequeen: From the anime One Piece, Nami & Vivi looking confused "um... WTF?!" (WTF?!)
posted by [personal profile] piratequeen at 09:56am on 21/07/2017 under , , ,
I can't even wrap my head around how this is going to happen. This sounds like a terrible idea.

https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2017-07-21/one-piece-manga-gets-live-action-hollywood-tv-show/.119132

Part of the reason why I love One Piece is that it is completely ridiculous. I mean, we have a rubber man for a main character, snails for telephones, fishmen, a shapeshifting reindeer, a cyborg who runs around in a speedo, and an animated skeleton. This is either going to have an effects budget through the roof, or be completely terrible.
piratequeen: From the anime Yuri on Ice, Yuri and Victor hugging "surprise me" (Surprise Me)
Warning: this post contains spoilers for Yuri on Ice!

I'm not really sure where to start with Yuri. I guess I should start with the short version of how I started watching Yuri on Ice, because it ties in with why I love Yuri as a character so much.

spoilers and many images below the cut )
July 17th, 2017
marz: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] marz at 09:43am on 17/07/2017 under
The most funny thing about introducing my family to Dungeons & Dragons is how enthusiastic everyone is. I fully expected to have to drag them to the table kicking and screaming or they would just muddle along for the sake of my son whose friend had already got him hooked on it.

Nope. It is my MOM who is constantly nagging me for when we are going to play again. Apparently my Dad can't stop telling my grandmother how much fun we have playing together as a family. My parents especially like being about to spend two to three hours with us on Sunday while chatting over FaceTime. I think they would prefer to have video feed too, but my internet already bogs down sometimes with Roll20 so I don't want to mess with it. Even my husband has warmed up to it now that he has the hang of it. Switching him from cleric to rogue was the smartest thing I ever did. He loves sneak attack which lets him roll extra damage if it is a surprise round or if an ally is within 5ft of his target. He really likes to get all the bad guys.

So we started Wave Echo Cave, the final dungeon for Lost Mine of Phandelver, while on our vacation and had a remote session this Sunday afternoon. The party kept hugging the northwest passages which just so happens to lead directly to the final boss. The last encounter was a bit harrowing because I hadn't read that not only were there four giant spiders with the final boss wizard, but also two bugbears. I had to put the bugbears in at the last minute, but they made the encounter too difficult. My spiders mostly webbed instead of biting because the bugbears took out half a player's health when they hit (and I didn't count the extra piercing damage and I didn't multi-attack). Everyone was down to less than 10 health at some point in the battle. Hubby died, but Dad used Cure Wounds and got him back up.

I had three of the spiders run away once they were almost dead just to speed up the encounter a little as it was getting really long with all the misses the players were rolling. Being a DM is tricky because I have to play so many bad guys and if I played in an optimal way, my party would die instantly. So I have to be very strategic when I choose to roll to hit because I am very good at hitting them. I do miss and I'm actually happy when that happens, but sometimes I don't realize how low someone is on health and I roll too well on my damage.

Anyway, they didn't say they were going to knock the big bad guy unconscious so they killed him and discovered Gundren Rockseeker's brother who had been captured and interrogated. The other brother was dead at their camp at the entrance to the mine. At this point we had been playing for an hour and a half. The main objective of the campaign was completed. I could have had them clear out the dungeon, but I gave them the option of clearing out the caves or taking the brother back to town and informing the townspeople that the big baddie was dead. They chose to go back to town so the campaign was pretty much done at that point. There are lots of side quests and they could have gone back to clear out the mine for Gundren, but I figured the main story was completed and they wouldn't be too interested in just a dungeon crawl in another session. So I chose to reveal what they missed. They missed a LOT. LOL I think they all were amazed at how direct their route ended up being and how much of the actual dungeon they missed.

You can see the map here: http://prints.mikeschley.com/p856083253/h349521AA#h349521aa.

They went through zones 1, 2, 10. Then in zone 11 they almost wiped in an encounter with five bugbears. The mobs from 18 came at them in the hallway, then 19 for the final boss and 20 to find the dwarf. They missed most of the extra encounters that were meant to wear down their resources to make the final battle even more difficult. In some ways it was easier to run their direct route to the boss. It also made it less interesting because I could have played up the villainous Black Spider creating an army to waylay any who oppose him. In the end there were a bunch of bugbears and they were done.

I think my family REALLY hates bugbears now. Every time they encounter some they have a heck of a time.

Anyway, now I have a whole new campaign to prep! Wheeeeeeee!

My parents and husband want to keep their current characters while my son wants to play something new rather than continue with his monk. So he is going with a Tiefling warlock with a pseudodragon familiar and has Mephistopheles as a patron. Should be fun! He has to start at level 5 so I will have to go over his character sheet carefully so he understands what he can and cannot do.

Since this will be a longer campaign, I'm going to have to discuss backstory with the players. I already made my hubby an assassin who is wanted for killing a member of royalty as part of his reveal from cleric to rogue. Dad had a backstory for his paladin where he was an urchin who was rescued by kind hearted paladin. He served as a page and eventually became a paladin as well. Mom is a half-orc who was a quartermaster in an army. We will have to figure out more story for her origin.

Looks like I have a lot of Sunday D&D in my future now.
July 15th, 2017
aome: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] aome at 11:41pm on 15/07/2017 under , , , ,
For MiniPlu's official birthday, last Thurs (13 Jul), she had one request: for me to take her and a couple of friends to the beach. Beach, lunch, and dinner - the good, the bad and the ugly )

So, kind of a mixed bag for MiniPlu's birthday, but hopefully the positives outweighed the negatives for her.

One thing that was weird, though: Twice - both on the way to the beach and on the way to dinner - Google maps decided, about 3/4 of the way to the destination, to randomly *change* the destination and start giving me directions that made no sense. Fortunately, both times we pinged onto that and pulled over to see what the heck Maps thought it was doing, and discovered the problem, but still - I have no idea why it was doing that. For the beach trip, the diversion was fairly minor - it tried directing me to a nearby town that was further inland, but not *that* far off track. On the way to dinner, however, Maps suddenly thought I wanted to go to ... Norfolk, VA. I have no idea why.

Friday night we drove up to Springfield, MA, where we stayed overnight so we'd be poised to pick up Two from camp by 10am on Saturday. Yet ANOTHER long road trip, whee, plus some camp stories )

So, anyway, kidlet is back, which is both good and stressful. We dumped the entire cloth-based contents of his duffle into the washing machine as soon as we got home, so at least that's already done.

For those who may have missed it, I posted MiniPlu's birthday and throwback pics at LJ here. You will need to be logged into LJ to see them.
July 11th, 2017
aome: (mischief managed)
posted by [personal profile] aome at 11:54pm on 11/07/2017 under , , , ,
So, last week was spent cleaning the hell out of the house in anticipation of MiniPlu's birthday party on Saturday. It went well, mostly. )

The day before the party, I'd gone to PA for the day so I could get to a couple of TKD classes, having not been to any since the middle of June. TKD and librarian )

Sunday was the day we took Two to camp, up in New Hampshire. We lopped off about 30 mins from the drive time by moving to NJ, but it's still a long trek, about 5 hours of actual driving time, not counting stops for gas/food. We had a little extra stress coming through NYC on the way home when the onramp we needed was blocked off due to an accident, and Google Maps tried to reroute us by ... driving in a circle and trying again. :P But the cops on the scene were able to direct us more usefully and we were soon on our way again. On the other hand - oy, we are SO tired of long drives by now!

I really do love camp drop-off, though. (And pickup, too, I guess, but somehow drop-off is better, in terms of seeing people?) It's great seeing all the other kids just like Two, many of whom look perfectly ordinary, but you just *know*, since otherwise they wouldn't be at camp, and all their supportive families. It's nice having that affirmation that there are so many other households like ours, you know? (On the other hand, MiniPlu *hates* camp drop-off. Even this year, when she didn't even come, because she still had party guests when we left (plus, why come all that way when there are now adults at home and she doesn't have to?). She and Two might fight, and she might find him frequently annoying as hell, but she misses him terribly when he goes to camp, so she was a sad pooh-bah when we came home without him that night. And she's really looking forward to coming with us to pick him up this weekend.

Reading: I finished a short story collection of bits and bobs by Pottermore: Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, which was full of fun tidbits. And I also inhaled Simon VS the Homo-Sapiens Agenda (a gift from [personal profile] hamsterwoman. Like, I was up until 1am two nights in a row because I couldn't put it down. I LOVED IT. ) I just loved pretty much everything about this (thank you again, [personal profile] hamsterwoman!), was completely charmed by it, and I'm DYING to read the author's next book except that I have quite a few birthday books remaining, plus my usual "to-read" shelf, and I'm trying hard NOT to buy more right now. But I waaaaannt it.

Currently reading Daughter of the Pirate King, which is a fun romp but also feels somewhat predictable, at least as far as the main relationship goes.

And now, I really must crash. Oh, did I mention that the NC crew are back again? They arrived Sun evening, before we got back from camp drop-off, and will be here until next Sun. Sigh.

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