We begin with some bookkeeping – we need to pick the three magic items we’ve attuned to, which limits the other players more than Nosphryc, since he only has three magic items. Good news is that reading the descriptions of the Sword of Lendorth and Amulet of Ren again, which provided two key abilities that I can draw upon for the undead guys:

  • Amulet of Ren: +1 to AC versus undead; First attack by an undead creature in a turn is at disadvantage (happens once per turn)
  • Sword of Lendorth: Long sword, +1 to attack and damage; +3 to damage versus undead; You gain a bonus action every turn when fighting undead



We start out recovering from the fight, and then proceed to explore some more, following the evidence of foot traffic, assuming traffic is treasure. We decide we’ll use the Lens of Finding in each room to ensure that we don’t bypass any secret doors. It’ll slow us down, but worth it to ensure we don’t miss anything.

We wander for a while, well, purposeful wandering, and come to a T intersection. We can see evidence of a room to the left, so we head that way. Another couple of splits, that seem to head back to an intersection we’ve passed before.

We come to a standing pool in the middle of a small room. The pool is elevated a bit from the floor, maybe a foot. It’s also about a foot deep.

We investigate the pool a bit, checking it for any auras or vibes. As we get close to it, examining the pool, we can tell that the stonework around the pool is itself magical – but not the water. We check out the pool with the Lens of Molnar, and we find that the stone creates and purifies the water within the basin. We replenish our fresh water supplies, and warn Luven not to pee in the pool. Let’s see if Luven’s Mighty Wand can dispell the magic! Let’s not.

We proceed on, and the room to the south contains six rings and eyebolts, that seemed to be for holding animals.

We proceed onwards . . . and walk right the heck into an ambush. Eleven humanoids, with spiked clubs and loincloths. Mixed male and female. They are Grimlocks, a type of creature we’ve not yet seen.


Apparently not vegan.

We are not surprised, but split initiative. Luven hits for 12 HP, which does not kill anyone. And we get rushed by another ten guys from behind.

Nosphryc nails one with a critical hit, using his Archery feat to take -5 to hit and +10 damage. Blasts him for 24 HP, killing him. The second is actually a critical miss, alas. The guys only seem to have about 9-16 HP, so he’ll be splitting his attacks on the guys coming from behind.

Breena rages. She puts one down, and badly injures another. Adzeer throws down a Guardian of Faith – an indistinct sword and shield that wards off hostile creatures, who will take damage if they come too close. Kinds of a Patronus charm, but an angry one.

Dante tries to nail one with a firebolt, but just misses (thus establishing their AC as 11).

Luven fires through the ranks, at a disadvantage, and hits anyway with a 16; he does 18 points of damage even including his 4d6 sneak attack. He kills his foe.

Now the grimlocks are up. First all the guys next to Adzeer’s guardian have to deal with it – three get more or less vaporized, using up the 60 HP of capacity that the thing provides. That’s a nice hit, but still leaves us with six to the south and ten to the west.

Two attack Breena, both hitting. She’s a Grimlock magnet, but her damage taken is halved since she’s raging. Only 4 HP taken. Two attack and miss Adzeer; all the Grimlocks advance down the corridor, and now Nosphryc is sword-out.

He strikes one twice, killing him. Adzeer casts Spiritual Weapon, and a ghostly blade appears. 

We actually discuss this rule for quite a while. Was not clear to everyone in the same way.

Anyway he hits once with the ghostly weapon, and once physically. A total of 20 HP later, and his foe drops.

Breena takes down two, the second with a mighty blow for 17 HP in one shot.

Dante misses again with his firebolt; he’s 0 for 3. Luven klls one for 26 HP – he’s very dead – with his light crossbow.

The Grimlocks attack. One hits Adzeer for 5 HP, and two hit Nosphryc for 10 HP total. 

Nosphryc takes down one next to Luven, leaving him room to use his crossbow. He hits a second foe, but not enough to kill him. Adzeer misses with his Spirit Weapon, but hits hard with a melee attack, killing another.

Breena steps up to the plate with a critical hit for 20 HP, murderizing another. She spins, and attacks the one Nosphryc hit, hitting him and dropping him for 13 HP, enough to ruin his day as well. Dante finally connects with a firebolt, doing 13 HP of flaming death. He’s toast. Grimlock: it’s what’s for dinner! Grimlock: the other white meat. 

Hey, that’s what they get when their battle cry is “YUMMY YUMMY EAT EAT!”

We speculate that this is either the worst ambush ever, or a clever drain on our resources before a real fight.

At this point, we’re down to but four Grimlocks; they flee. One triggers two attacks of opportunity, one from Luven, another from Nosphryc – he dies. Another triggers a spiritual hammer and mace attack from Adzeer, and again takes 15 HP on the first attack, making the second irrelevant. 

Luven decides to give chase; he hits one hard in the back, but doesn’t kill him. We joke that the Grimlocks have isolated the gazelle from the herd. Luven kills one on an attack of opportunity as he flees, and then runs down and kills the last one.

Upon searching the bodies, we find many have a rough cloth bag, most with meat in them. One with a pink diamond (worth 5,000gp), and one with a plush figurine. Of a mind flayer. Yikes.

It could be used as a fetish, but Grimlocks were once the slaves of mindflayers, and they still venerate them. So it could be a holy symbol, a security blanket, or a freakin’ chew toy. No idea.

We continue to explore, looking for the primary room where the dual-pronged ambush came from. We find it – a 40×120+ foot room with pillars supporting a tall ceiling. We check both the pillars and the walls with the Finding Lens, but it’s just a big ol’ room, with periodic pile of poo where the Grimlocks did their thing. Luven, with an eye for treasure, finds something sparkly in the poo – he uses Slight of Hand to nab it. 

We contemplate taking a long rest – and decide to take one. We hole up where we fought the southern wave of Grimlocks, making a 300-like wall of Grimlocks 

We let Breena’s Bear take a watch, then Dante and Nosphryc, then Adzeer and Luven take their turns, and a long rest is embarked upon. We hear sounds of dripping water and the occasional scuffle, the first watch is as still as death. During the second watch, far off in the distance, there is a horrible wailing scream . . . then nothing. The third watch passes without incident as well. We’ve passed around magical items that we can’t attune to, the most notable being a Cloak of Protection (+1).


It’s about 8:30 – we end there. We got 3,010 XP.

We then discuss the attunement rules. We talk about attuning to 2+Proficiency bonus. And a few other options, but no resolution is found just yet.

We started out remembering that we had some magic items to divvy out, since last time we forgot to distribute the freakin’ Ring of Zombie protection.

There were lots of dead undead (?!), and a human figure with a wooden stake driven through the visor of his helmet. The mail is decent quality; this guy was no slouch. Well, other than getting a stake driven through his face, after which slouching was the order of the day, really.

Everything magical/non-weapony from last few sessions:

  • Potion of Gaseous Form
  • Potion of Animal Friendship
  • ring of zombie protection (disadvantage to attacking zombies)
  • Magic Helmet
  • 4 vials healing potion (1d8+1)
  • Dante (Chris): 10 vials holy water
  • 10 flasks of holy water (a flask is 5 vials)
  • 5 flasks oil
The helmet was the one with the stake jammed through it, but Adzeer knows the Mend cantrip. That fixes up the helmet, and a quick scan reveals a Detect Undead spell on it. 
We agree that it must have had a very short range. We are informed it’s a 60′ range. It’s a greathelm, so we give that to Nosphryc ’cause he can wear it, and the ring of Zombie protection to Breena. 
Luven, against his better judgement, pulls out a tin scroll case, 41 silver bars, 17 gold bar, and a silver chalice (worth 300 gp). Guess he just happened to find that.
The scroll reads: 

“an than we gose don moore long steps too a odder plase tat haz a beg man and a forrezt and than we gose Further pasd a sittee an dat is wer the nomes ar rimemmer too stele da nomes an brigg dem to elias” (Bork bork bork!)

We divvy up the healing potions between Luven and Dante at two each, so everyone has some, as well as two flasks and two vials of holy water each.

We receive the party pog back, and Luven examines the (locked) secret door, and picks it open with his tools. It’s short corridor with a smaller room than the previous one, and since it’s empty, we know to look for secret doors. We find one, expectedly.

Luven continues to rock the door finding and locked-door picking. He uses his earring of echolocation to find secret doors and such. Since the corridor goes only 15′ and then hits a wall, again, we have a hidden door. 

Portrait of Luven

This one enters a room devoid of creatures, but has a black altar and a stone table against the east wall. There’s some soot on the ceiling on either end of the altar – looking at the surface, on the altar below the soot spots, there are traced of black wax. Candles.  Luven is looking for treasuretreasuretreasuretreasure. We decide Luven is like the hamburglar, and he shouts “Man, this is a gyp!” when no treasure is found.

Looking at the altar and the construction of the room, we determine that it’s set up to look like a temple or shrine, but it’s to nobody. It’s basically for show. We speculate that it was to try and make money or run a con.

We decide to give the altar cap a shove, and Breena, with STR 18 and Aspect of the Bear, she puts us all to shame. “Step aside, men. This is women’s work.” Breena pushes the slab off, and the entire thing collapses. The stone table is broken!

Not that anyone cares. 

We look for more secret doors again, and find one behind the table on the east wall. We ask Breena to do it, since lifting is, again, women’s work. Geez, we do a quick survey: Luven is STR 11, Nosphryc and Dante are STR 18, Breena is STR 18 with her magical Aspect of the Bear, and Adzeer is STR 19. Crimeny.

We decide to detect undead, and we both get a faint sense of Undead behind the door, as if it’s a trace of a creature. The secret door itself is locked; Luven picks it, opens it up a crack, and we head down to some sort of sarcophagus. 

Luven goes to check it out and rolls a natural 1 . . . so he just opens the thing up.

“You can roll all the 20s you wan’t, but you can’t fix stupid” – Adzeer

Inside the sarcophagus, there’s about a cubic foot of dirt, and nothing else. It’s probably the vampire’s sacred soil or something, so Nosphryc pours a flask of holy water on the soil. The name on the sarcophagus says  The water starts to bubble and steam; the helmet no longer detects undead.

Sebastian Baynard Finster

Ah. There’s SBF from the letter.
Luven steps into the Sarcophagus drops his pants and piddles all over the vampire’s “sacred” soil.

We go around the area with the Finder’s Lens, but dont’ find much. We head back to the crossroads, and hear noises from the north. Luven heads out on point, and peeks around the corner – he sees some trolls and some hobgoblins, which are known to have pretty good loot.

He tries to gesture to us. We decide there are two Tiger Tanks, a couple of panzers, and he wants a subway meatball sandwich with cheese.

Anyway, we get ready to fight!

Nosphryc rolls poorly, but still better than the trolls. Small favors. 

The hobgoblin starts by saying “I’m going to shove that ‘meh’ up your ass!” and attacks Loven; one hits for 7 HP and the other runs up and misses twice. Now our 18s go,  but a few more hobgoblins just pop into existence as well. We’re now facing at least four hobgoblins and two trolls.

Breena mounts her bear, rides up to a hobgoblin, and tries to grapple him. So a gnome, riding a bear, grapples a hobgoblin. Don’t see much of that! Breena gives him a shove for his second attack (both with advantage). The shove is resisted by Athletics or Acrobatics; the hobgoblin fails, and he’s pinned against the wall by the bulk of the combat bear. Panzerbjorn for the win. The most literal overbearing attack ever. Plus rage. Can’t forget the rage.

Dante steps up and hits the prone, grappled hobgoblin with a firebolt for 13HP worth of damage.  Luven stabs at his foes for 15 HP, with both the Blade of Ung as well as the magical talking sword, Marcus Aurelius. Nosphryc steps up and glaives the prone guy twice for 19 HP, with a crit. He dies.

We manage to block the corridor, more or less, but the tactical advantage does not yet seem with us. Adzeer gets hit once for 2 HP, and two hobgoblins attack Luven, one hitting for 5 HP, the other for another 5 HP. 

Breena attacks with the Battle-Axe of Aknarr, twice, hitting both times, for a total of 19 HP. Not bad, not bad. 

Adzeer kills the wounded fellow with a mighty blow from the Mace of Curn. Dante then steps up to the corner and attacks with the Axe of Delnar, hitting for 11HP. The hobgoblin speaks disparagingly of our ancestry. Luven hits for 21 HP, including 4d6 worth of sneak attack.

Nosprhyc then steps up and hits twice for 15 HP with his glaive.

Now the trolls move up, and Luven gets bitten by a troll, but only for 5 HP; the frantic swinging with the trolls arms does an additional 12 HP of damage. Yowch.

The hobgoblins disappear; they teleport away somewhere. Probably behind us.

Breena hits wtice with her axe for 25 HP, but it’s not magical or fire damage, so it’s going to grow back. Adzeer casts a 3d8 healing spell on Luven for 15 HP to keep him in the not-dead column.

Dante steps to the side and tries to hit the front troll with a firebolt, which he does for 11HP of non-regenerating fire damage. Woof.

Luven quaffs a quick potion using a Cunning Action, and hits with his sword for 23 HP, thanks to a highly distracted troll. Nosphryc hits twice for 19 HP with his glaive. His knees buckle after the second hit, but he doesn’t go down.

A troll chomps at Breena, and rolls a critical hit for 13 HP; another crit with the next arm does 16 HP more, and the final swipe misses. His Aspect of the Bear halves this 29HP down to 15HP, which is fortunate.

Adzeer steps in front of Luven and casts at the troll that was almost dead, but is now recovering. Sacred Flame – it does radiant damage, so not unhealable by trolls, but better than nothing. 13 HP of damage. Dante flings another firebolt, but only hits for 3 HP this time. Luven uses his shortbow and adds his sneak attack damage for 24 HP of damage(!).

Nosrphyc flings a flask of oil at the fallen troll (he’s regenerating), hits, and then hits for 12 HP.

The final troll chomps at Adzeer, and hits AC 21 by rolling 25! He bits for 9 HP, and then misses twice. 

Breena’s player had to step out, but she comes back and gets to take her turn, and then another to start the next round. Two attacks with her axe hit for 27 HP, and then twice more for 28 HP. Those are mighty, mighty blows.

Dante hits the oil with the firebolt; the oil bursts into flame as well – 9 HP for the bolt, and 5 HP of fire damage for the oiled-up troll. Both die, and the fight is over.

The trolls, together, have 12 silver bars, and 2 bags each with 15 lbs of rotting meat. Each hobgoblin has a spear, a light crossbow with 12 bolts each, a dagger, and one of the hobgoblins has a small sack tied to his bolt. 

The sack is a bag of holding – there are 71 gold bars, 322 silver bars, 3 more crossbow bolts, and a bedroll. A good WIS roll shows them to be 3 bolts of vampire slaying, which give Advantage and 3x damage. The bedroll is Mildor’s Bedroll of Comfort. It provides perfect sleeping comfort on any semi-horizontal surface at temps of -20 to 120F. It also causes searchers looking for us sleeping to have disadvantage on Perception rolls. Camouflage elven bedroll! (p. 22 in the LL Bean catalog, we think).

The brown sacks to the north are yet unplundered, so we plunder them. Five large sacks, lumpy in the middle of the floor. Each of them is moving as if something inside is breathing. We open them up, and find more gnomes. One of the gnomes with us recognizes them. Good, they can take care of them. 

We inquire how close we might be to their gnome-home. They have no idea. 

After the fighting and searching, we take a short rest, it being a little after noon. The short rest brings most people back to full HP.


We each earn 2980 XP. I get a Feat or stat boost, and . . . hmm.

Nosphyrc’s stats are

STR 18
DEX 14
CON 16
INT 13
WIS 15
CHA 14

So there are quite a few things I could do here.

  • STR stat boost for STR 20. Hits me with +1 to hit, +1 damage for all melee stuff.
  • DEX stat boost for DEX 16. Given me being encased in plate, there’s no AC help for me here, so that’s just +1 to hit with my bow. Probably bad idea.
  • CON 18 would give me +1 HP for the rest of time, and raise my HP maximum, I think. Given I’m a front-line guy, this is not necessarily a bad thing
  • INT 14 WIS 16 would give me +1 to two different stats, both of which have seen use. Perception is a big thing for Nosphryc, and this would help that.
  • Heavy Armor Mastery gives +1 STR for STR 19, plus soaking three points of mundane damage per shot. That’s a good thing.
  • Polearm Mastery is nice because of the extra attack (only 1d4, but includes the STR bonus, so it sorta turns the glaive into 8+1d10+1d4, for 10-22 damage, more with a critical
  • Sharpshooter is nifty, and would be lethal against foes where I have advantage. We have a grappler in the group that likes to throw people down, which would make for a nice one-two combo
  • Finally, Observant for +5 to Perception is sweet.
I was leaning sharpshooter, but that STR boost will always help me. 
Hrm, decisions, decisions.

You can find great outtakes over at The Clash of Spear on Shield.

We picked up where we left off, and the amulet that controlled some sort of transport device. We reviewed prior locations and interesting phenomena, so as to figure where to go next.

We decide to head West, and we see doors which are shiny, iron, dwarven-made doors. They don’t appear to be locked in any way. It’s surprisingly well-made, and there’s some sort of funky non-corroding alloy. Detect magic? Nope. 

We open it up. No demons, just a narrow corridor, another pretty door, and a corridor pointing south. There are two rows of stone tables, and a Dwarven dinner prayer inlaid into the walls. The room to the south is another dinner hall. Apparently this mirrors a room somewhere above – 21 miles away. 

Between the Finder’s Lens and the belt of Dwarvenkind, we determine that the construction here is predating the one above by quite some time. Perhaps the one above was built to mimic this, which was then abandoned?

Also: looking for Montporte-a-potties. I missed some stuff in previous sessions, apparently.

We head through a door to the East, and we find a room full of dark, thick soot. We leave it to our fire expert, who investigates. We look around, and there seemed to be some sort of large iron object; presumably an oven.We do a quick Finder’s lend, finding nothing.

South we expect to find a pantry, since we probably just came from the kitchen. 

We make a full circuit out of it, and find a double-door, behind which is a staircase down. We’ve been mapping and checking out rooms for 90 minutes or so. We descend about . . . five miles. Good grief. That’s a hell of staircase, though apparently the last one was 21 miles deep, so this is “nothing.”

We find a humanoid body, laying face-down on the stairs. It’s a half of a half-elf. So a quarter-elf, really. It was wearing a tunic, trousers, a felt cap, with a backpack. There’s a trail of blood down the steps, and the elf has been almost eviscerated, complete with bite marks on his neck.  There’s nothing immediately obviously screaming “trap-door spider!” or anything.

He’s got a wound on his arm that looks like he got chopped. Everything else looks like multiple claw-marks. The body left a blood trail, and is not yet completely dry.

Holy crap. Not yet completely dry.

Hmm. If we only had a couple of rogues! Alas, they’re gone.

“What have you been doing?”

We find out that the elf is wearing the symbol of Adzeer’s god on him. He’s got a dagger on his belt (clearly not a good fighter, with no blood on his dagger). He’s got the trappings of a Hunter of Adzeer. He’s got 127gp in his backpack, a bone scroll case, a dagger, a ring, and 12 vials. The lens of awesome (Lens of Molnar) identifies them as a bunch of potions (2 healing potions and 10 vials of holy water), a small spellbook, and a Ring of Zombie Protection (Nosphryc gets a good roll). The dagger is nothing special. The spellbook is for a Wizard

The wound definitely looks like a vampire bite, the blade wound could be a sword or knife, and the bite marks look like humans – likely zombies.

The scroll-case actually contains a letter.

Most of us stop and wet ourselves at the line containing the word “lich.” Yikes. Lichs, vampires, zombies, and lots of crypts. Yeesh.

“Who’s the highest-level guy? He needs to say ‘OK, the area is secure.'” like Lieutenant Gorman.

We continue down the stairs for another mile, saying “Lichs and zombies, and vampires, oh my.” For the first bit, we see evidence that the poor half-elf dragged himself. Now we see an occasional bloody footprint.

Oh, and the staircase is no longer dwarven-made. Hell. Probably literally. We descend another sxeven miles. 

We keep descending, and see the body of a wight laying on the ground; farther on is the body of a dead zombie. The wight looks like it has a burned, charred spot on his chest, as if he was hit by some sort of electrical energy. Bet that spellbook has a lightning bolt spell in it.

And on the south wall says “Arlonian Syndicate Waystation 452.” Thanks to a good roll, we know that that Goblins have something resembling guilds, where certain Goblin troops have exclusive trading rights to certain areas.

We decide to take a long rest before we open doors and stuff – actually two of them. We hear a groan during the second watch, but nothing else of consequence. We check out the western staircase, and find a three-way corridor. Huh. Hoped for something that didn’t give more options.

Still, we choose danger. The trail of blood continues, and a zombie body lies in the middle of a 25-foot-long corridor, which is but 5′ wide. We emerge into at least a 25′ square room, with at least five zombies in it.

Initiative is rolled. We don’t do too badly, and retreat to a chokepoint. Breena takes a small hit, and Adzeer rolls a hit, then a bunch of 1’s for damage. Breena rages, and grapples a zombie, in a cool but seemingly cosmically backwards. Breena rolls very well, while the zombie also rolls well, but not well enough. He takes the zombie down with a shove; he’s got advantage on that roll, so the zombie has to beat a 16 or be flung prone. He rolls 20 and 10 (disadvantaged) and takes him down. So he has the guy grappled, which means he’s immobile, can’t get up, and all attacks against him are advantaged. Breena is not disadvantaged by grappleing, so booyah.

Nosphryc moves past Adzeer, and hits the grappled zombie with a critical hit, dispatching him. He uses his second action to plug the hole in the line and attack another zombie, hitting for 9 HP.

A wight moves into the line, and we start making Steven Wight jokes.  A few zombies move up, and one hits Nosphryc for 4 HP, and Breena for 7, reduced because she’s raging.

Our strategy is working; we’re only facing two at a time, and can pretty well concentrate on them. Unfortunately, we forgot to actually give out and equip the freaking Ring of Protection from Zombies. Because we’re stupid.

Goose: “The defense department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.”

Breena and Adzeer do their thing, and Adzeer hits for 12 HP radiant damage to Steven Wight, while Breena hits and kills a zombie with the Battle-Axe of Aknarr, and then hits and wounds another.

Dante moves up and firebolts the Wight, with advatnage thanks to Adzeer’s spell. Hits, but only 5 HP of damage. Nosphryc hits for 13 slashing damage, reducing his target to 0 HP with an undead-slaying sword. So dead-dead.

But on their turn, the wight moves up to Nosphryc, and attacks once with a sword, and misses, and reaches out and drains the life out of Nosphryc with a critical. “He grabs you by the ball-sack, baby. Your descendants are starting out lower level.” 12 HP of damage, and 12 HP from my freakin’ maximum as well. The wight says “Turn your head and cough.”

Nosphryc does so.

The zombie misses Breena.

Adzeer misses with a spell. And Breena misses with one attack, and axes the other for 8 slashing.

Dante continues the streak of misses against the wight. These guys really have a thing against Nosphryc; must be a 1%-er thing.

Nosphrys steps up and crits with the Sword of Lendroth. The wight dies. Another hit on the zombie in front of Breena with the undead-slaying sword kills a second one. We rule on the spot that the Sword of Lendroth (+1 vs everything, +3 vs. Undead) automatically kills undead at 0 HP.

As the zombies step up, we hear a female voice from within the room saying “get them and kill them!” The zombies miss both Nosphryc and Breena for a change.

Adzeer uses Sacred Flame, a cantrip that requires a single save, which he misses; 6 points of radiant damage is dealt. Now Breena steps to the fore, and hacks at a zombie twice for a total of 19 slashing damage. Still up. Wow.

Dante rolls an 8 vs the zombie, hitting, and does 19 points of fire damage, deep-fat frying him. Nosphryc hits twice for 33 slashing damage, killing the second-to-last zombie.

Nosphryc takes another 6 HP, down 22 HP from his former max, one of two PCs to be hit. And a second wave of zombies shows up, along with a token we immediately label Evil Cosplaying Goth Chick – presumably the owner of the voice

Adzeer flings a spell, and the lady laughs maliciously, revealing sharp pointy teeth. Oh, crap. Vampire.

Breena hits twice for 14 slashing damage, while Dante flings a fireball. Dante bends it like Gandalf, and five critters have to make a DEX save or take 9d6 damage.

Suck it, bloodsucker. One zombie makes it, as does the vampire babe. So they take 12 HP, the others take 24 HP.  Only two dead, but hopefully some softening.

Nosphryc kills the zombie in front of him, but misses the vampire chick with a quick-drawn bow shot.

The undead charge in, but only the wight is in close range, and he misses Breena.

Adzeer hits the vampire, but for only 12 HP. We weep for Tim’s continual rolling of 1s when damage happens.

Breena hits the wight twice for 25 HP, killing it. Dante casts an opaque wall of fire, which damages everyone on the far side of the wall, 5d8 within 10′ of the wall. 21 HP of damage if they fail a DX save. The vamp . . . fails her save. We clear the board of everyone but, well, we can’t tell, because wall of fire.

Nosphryc fires two arrows through the wall at where the vamp was, at a disadvatnage. He actually hits twice, for 9 HP piercing damage, and his arrows do not burst into flame. A stupid zombie runs into the wall, immolating himself.

Adzeer casts locate creature on the vampire – a very fitting companion to the nature of his hunter character. He can locate her as long as no one breaks his concentration, she polymorphs, or crosses running water.

Dante drops the wall of fire, and we all charge into the room as far as we can. Breena hits with a few hand-axes. Nosphryc tosses two hand-axes, and actually stuns her. Nosphryc then runs up and makes vampire julienne – actually, she’s not a vampire. She’s a vampire groupie (vampire spawn, technically).

Nosphryc reclaims and cleans his axes.

Besides the vampires and wights in the room, there were three dead zombies, and a dead human in armor. He’s got a wooden stake shoved through his visor.

We search for treasure and likewise search the room. We find a secret door right where she was standing (no surprise there).

We also recover 322 gp, and the human has 280gp, a long sword, a short sword, short bow with 20 arrows, a a bone scroll case. 2 vials. and 15 flasks. The liquids are 2 healing potions. 5 flasks of oil. 10 flasks of holy water.

We end there.


+Ken H used the second-most dangerous category using the DMG to make the encounter (Hard), and tuned it for one more player than we had. Still, we did well, Setting ourselves up in the choke-point was vital, and the undead-slaying sword turned the tide on the early waves. We also put down the vampire spawn fast enough that the vampire spawn couldn’t regenerate fast enough to make a difference.

We each net out 4,100 XP. This brings Nosphryc to just shy of 2,100 XP away from 6th level.

Players were +Tim Shorts+Chris C.+Joshua Macy+Rob Conley

Figured I’d post the character I wound up making before my second session, tomorrow.

I went with “simple.” That being said, given the rolls I got, I think a Monk or Paladin would be a fun second character. Granted, can’t expect the same thing a second time, but those two seem to benefit a lot from lots of good scores in the 14-16 range.

Anyway, to Nosphryc. Mostly I’m going to put up screen captures from the wonderful character sheet in Roll20, which is darn handy. More info: It’s the sheet made by Actoba, and found here, in his character sheet repository.

Core Stats

As noted in the previous character post, the dice treated me well, and choosing a human fighter focusing on STR for his attribute boost pushed him into pretty rarefied air in terms of overall attributes. Sure, I probably could have selected Dwarf or something to push my STR to 19, or played other games for 20, but the +1 to everything you get for being human took both my 15s and both my 13s to the next level that gives a bonus, and even my “dump” stat – an INT of 13, is respectable. 

I could have sacrificed the extra STR (+2) for a Feat – Heavy Armor Mastery, still giving me STR 17 and three points of damage absorption or whatever you call it. But I chose the raw STR for now, and my next ability score improvement is only just shy of 7,000 XP away. This last session was basically one fight, and we got through that with about 1350. Looking at past games, that’s the lowest award in five or six sessions, and ranges go from about 2,500-9,000+. So I’d expect 1-5 more sessions, and I can pick up that Feat, and maybe Polearm Mastery. Or maybe the other order, since getting the attack of opportunity when a foe enters or leaves my reach is darn handy. I’ll pick up five more “attribute increases” even past that, so there will be plenty of feats on my plate. I’ll also have to see if there are better ways to get +1 to damage than STR 20. But Heavy Armor Mastery would push me to STR 19, and taking a stat boost to get to STR 20, WIS 16 (I like good Perception rolls), then picking up some nice feats from there would make sense to me.


I chose proficiencies in Athletics (for grappling) and Perception (to notice stuff). My background gave me History and Persuasion. At anywhere from +4 to +7 bonuses to these skills, I’m fairly happy with them.

These were fun details with game-mechanical weight assigned to most of them. They helped steer the character’s conception quite well, and led to a nice background, captured by +Ken H in this evocative opening to his session notes:

The Prelude
Nosphryc Azurecoat was surrounded by the season warriors of his family at the start of the solemn ritual in the chapel of the family castle. The family’s cleric pronounced the admonitions and blessings, as the men and women in armed splendor looked on.

When the final affirmation of the congregation is spoken, Nosphryc would be teleported to a destination chosen by the family’s gods where he would hopefully prove his worth as a brave and true hero, fit to rule his people. Of course, the hope was that Nosphryc would bring back a few wagon loads of booty as well.

The deal is that Nosphryc (and I think Azurecoat is a temporary thing, much like Kara Zor-El had to undergo the Kryptonian Trials before she could wear her family crest in the Last Daughter of Krypton books) needs to prove himself worthy to rule. It’s a family thing, basically an analog of the aforementioned Kryptonian Trials, where the children of the family (need to come up with a real name) go adventuring to become heroes, conquerors, and of course to raise cash to support the noble line’s obligations.

I think he’ll be the fifth child (ROY G BIV), thus the blue surcoat.


Not too much to talk about here; I don’t think Roll20 accounts for the improved critical chance (that’d be nice, though). The two attacks is nice, and I’ve used Second Wind once already, as a prelude to a healing aura, which brought me back up to my full allotment of HP before tomorrow’s game.


Most of the time, I’ve used the bow. Going to need to figure out where to get a stash of arrows, and I have to wonder if I can talk the GM into letting me put a ton of them into my Bag of Holding. I must have gone through at least 6-10 of them last game, and we’re 21 miles down. I’m going to run out Real Soon Now.

Parting Shot

Overall, Nosphryc has held his own, save for an unfortunate tendency to shoot gnomes in the back. He’s amongst the lowest level in the group, as befits his beginning status. But 6th level can’t be too far behind, and the current group’s lead is 8th level, I think. That’s about 26,000 XP away, which again could be done in 3-6 games. That’s two ability score increases and the Remarkable Athlete feature, which will allow me to add +2 to a bunch of rolls at 9th level, +1 until then.

Until then, he could probably use some magical protection, but honestly, AC 18 seems fairly decent, and I’m not sure how much better it needs to be in 5e. A basic magic glaive or halberd would rock, as would an an enchanted bow, just so that he can affect critters that are only affected by magic.

I also need to round out his mundane items; he’s got the Explorer’s Pack, and those items need to appear on my character sheet. I’m also a big fan of alchemist’s fire . . . 

I got invited to join +Ken H and his crew for their regular Monday night Monteport game, now running in D&D5e. I got to play with some great folks: +Tim Shorts and +Rob Conley, whom I’ve interacted with before. Plus +Chris C.Daniel McEntee, and +Joshua Macy. It was a good time, and my character, Nosphryc, got dropped right into it . . . 

We started out making a marching order, and then lots of banter. This is a good thing. We started out to go talk to Daria (?), and had to get across a fairly wide chasm. We tie a safety rope on to Adzeer and then levitate him across. We joke about falling into the mile-deep chasm and taking 528d6 damage.

I step away for some food, and when I return, +Tim Shorts is apparently starting to plummet to his death. He’s saved by a last-minute Levitation spell. And a rope. So briefly Tim becomes a kite, and we bounce him across the top of the cave. Ouch. Stalactites suck.

The brief errand at that side of the cave taken care of, we form up and decide to go through the iron, dwarven-forged door. Luven Lightfinger carefully examines the door, which is neither locked nor trapped.

(We also, FINALLY, thanks to +Rob Conley , fix my longstanding sound problems. Go Rob!)

We continue to journey through doors, and find a pink spider or two. With really large mandibles. And a “dwarven lego.” And more and more spiders keep coming. And another type, clearly larger.

It’s all about the boom- so we toss a fireball into the room, and back off and slam the door. The spell goes off, and Dante ( +Chris Cosk3 announces that that was his last spell slot. He hits for 38 points of damage, so the poor guys all die save for two of them. 

The spiders get to go, and one moves, and the big blue one does something that makes a huge “gong” sound, and everyone saves vs CON. Well, except for Tim, who of course rolls a natural one. In some other universe, Tim rolled a 20. But not this universe.

It’s the Gong Show! Adzeer and Nosphryc (and someone else, it turns out) both fail their saves, taking 13 HP and are stunned for a round. The giant wall of metal up front is stunned. Awesome.

We go through the initiative order, and Luven cracks open the door, and flings a dagger at one of the “pink” spiders. He kills it! A pink pepto-bismol looking blood comes out.

Dante’s turn, and he shoots a firebolt at the big-ol’ blue spider. Nailing it for 2d10+8 = 18 points of damage. 

Doug: Easy game, eh?Everyone else: Don’t. Say. That. Ever.

Just as I say, that, turns out we just got our butt flanked by another seven more. Breena shoves her bear out of the way (!) and hurls a . . . huh. There are gnomes in the way. Disadvantage. He rolls 18 and 26 anyway, and hits for 7 slashing damage. Her second attack misses.

Nosphryc gets his first real action in the fight, and on a roll with disadvantage, I roll a natural 20 . . . and a natural 1. Oops. Crit fail. I hit a gnome. For 10 damage. Oops. A gnome goes down. Nosphryc’s mission to prove himself worthy of leading fellow men has just excluded gnomes.

Tim: Easy game, eh?

Duncan webs the spiders. And two gnomes. The gnomes are not happy with us.

Adzeer notes that he has a Ring of Spider something or other that allows him to talk to spiders. 

We note that before we started flinging fireballs and webs and axes and stuff. He doesn’t get a lot out of them. And Luven stealths so he can gank some more spiders.

The spiders keep noting that they’d really like to not die.

Adzeer hits, thanks to advantage. But rolls a 1, of course, on damage. We all mock Tim for a while. 

Nosphryc redeems himself by killing a spider with two longbow hits. for 11 damage. We keep making spider jokes: “Poor Charlottte. I knew her well!”

Duncan heals the gnome I skewered, as a firebolt is cast and burns up a spider pretty good. “Which sonovabitch shot me in the back?!”

Nosphryc Azurecoat (Doug): Those blue arrows with blue feathers make it really hard to point to the other guy and say “Bobnan did it!”Ken H. (GM): Plus a whole group of gnomes pointingNosphryc Azurecoat (Doug): Fair point. I was kinda hoping they were ALL looking the other way

Adzeer nail another one with a crossbow. Slight damage, but enough to bring him down. 

Loven does what Luven does best . . . and rolls a 1 for surprising the spider. The spider is not surprised.  Nosphryc hits twice more for 17 HP, thanks a bit to advantaged in the web, and he’s veyr hurt but not dead.

A bunch of spiders break free of the web, and flee towards the big blue guy Luven revealed in the hallway. 

Luven tries the same technique he started the combat with – he opens the door (unspiking it with a DEX roll) and flings two daggers, hitting for 9 piercing damage with one of the daggers.

Breena moves in, and chops up the last spider in the first room. That still leaves five of them and a big blue dude. Nosphyrc comes up with a move and hacks at one of them twice with his glaive, for 16 total damage. We note that with Pole(arm) mastery that it would have allowed a butt attack.

A vast, vast silence occurs. No one walks into that opening, as it were.

The spiders get a turn to do something not running away, and miss both Breena and Nosphryc. And then there’s another blue gong sound. Another 5 or 11 HP to various people, and those that fail the save are stunned for a round.

Dante’s up, and he gives himself some temp HP, while Adzeer nails a spider with Sacred Flame for a couple of d8 damage, for 15 HP of fire damage to the thorax. Like a spider boss.

Luven comes up behind the Bleu Gong Spider and backstabs him with a nasty, sentient magic sword for 17 HP of damage. Nosphryic continues to glaive the guy in front of him, hitting twice for 14 HP, yelling “Flank the blue guy!” in fear that the gong can be done over and over.

Breena gets tagged by a spider, as does Nosphryc, bringing him down to 25 of 52 HP. Dante moves to flank the blue guy, as requested, and misses with a firebolt, while Duncan chuks a dagger at the guy for 25HP. Tim unloads with Sacred Flame again, hitting for 9HP – between the two attacks, he dies.  Luven’s up, he moves around the spider, sheathing Marcus Aurelias, and unsheaths the Sword of Karn; he uses the blade of Ung to hit for 16HP. Kills the blue guy. 

This obviates the flanking strategy. 

Breena beheads the last one, hitting for 12 slashing, killing his foe, as does Nosphryc.

We’re all down some HP, so Tim casts a 4th level healing spell and gets us all up by 20HP, and Nosphryc tops himself off back to his full 52 with Second Wind.

We search the room, and find pieces of the two blue spiders; the body still shimmers, and a Nature roll by Nosphryc shows that the critter actually excretes silver from the body. We burn the bodies and extract a bit of silver. The main room has a dwarven altar and shrine – 

We look around, and find a secret door. Specifically, Duncan (8th Level Arcane Trickster – Rogue subclass) finds it,does a look-see, and doesn’t find anything bad. He opens it with a mage hand – he sees a needle snickt out and poke the mage hand, which does nothing. We proceed. There’s lots of bones, pieces of armor, weapons, remnants of crates, boxes, and barrels on the west wall. Looking closely at the bones, they’re dwarven as well. The armor is a bit rusted and beat up; looking around with the Lens of Molnar (the ultimate detect magic/hidding things item). We do find 10 gold bars and 200 silver bars. Nice. A bar is worth 50 coin, so 500gp and 10,000 sp equivalent.

We explore some more, finding tons of spider debris and residue, including fallen humanoids and skeletons. We do see a fairly freshly killed goblin, with a backpack. There are five golden bars, 8 silver bars, two vials, and a metal box with four blue gems inset into it. Each gem is about the size of a small coin. The Lens reveals a Gaseous Form potion, and one Animal Friendship potion. The box is a controller for a vehicle or some sort of transport device. 

The goblins are fey; they’re known to travel around in a big-ass wagon thing. So we figure that this guy was grabbed from the wagon, which is stalled out somewhere. Odds are they didn’t come with it.

And that wraps it up. We all get 1,365 XP.

Parting Shot

Fifth Edition is recognizably D&D. Since I also play in +Erik Tenkar‘s S&W game, it was very similar to that . . . 

. . . but with some exceptions. The 18 skills provide a nice overview of adventuring tasks, and I’m sure the Basic and PHB rules tell you what skills to use to identify a magic item, or value an item. Nosphyric did use a Nature roll to figure out the silver spider thing, after all.

The Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic is a thing of sublime beauty. It absolved, in many cases, the GM and players from any sort of specific calculation in terms of penalties for “bad stuff” or “good stuff.” Just declare advantage or disadvantage, and have done with it. I “caught” +Ken H a few times thinking about a penalty, after which he would just say “you’ve got disadvantage on this roll.”

And that was enough.

I really like the feel of the game. It’s more in depth than OSR, and invites a broader array of tactics. Are your friends hotly engaged with a foe? Then you can chuck or shoot ranged weapons at him and get a “sneak attack” since he can’t see you. Makes sense! It was phrased in mechanical terms that obscure what was going on a bit – but that was the crux of it, and it works.

The short/long rest thing allows some pretty impressive combats, and some nice reccovery and replay value. Some powerful healing magic can get you back to fresh HP pretty fast, but by and large, you”l play through a fun combat and some exploration, and when your group gets together again, you’ll start out being able to do something, and not just “Hit him with my mace.”

It did not hurt anything that the group has a ton of fun, and it was an easy integration into their gaming group.

All in all, I look forward to next Monday’s game.

OK, given my choices below I think I have a fun character to play. However, given these four constraints:

  1. Your basic die rolls are 12, 15, 13, 13, 15, and 14. Nothing to complain about here.
  2. The character should be a weapon specialist of some sort – not necessarily fighter only, but a fighty-type. 
  3. He’s going to need a reason to wind up miles underground in the Monteport dungeon
  4. He’ll start with exactly as many XP as he needs to be 5th level

What would you do with those stats in order to provide more weapon and meat to the party.

This coming Monday, I’ll play in my first game with the new D&D rules, and I’m pretty excited about it. Now that I’ve gone through a character generation cycle, I find myself very impressed with the integrated Roll20 support for D&D. Lots of macros, auto-calculations, etc. Good stuff.

I’ll get to the numbers in a moment, but I really enjoyed how the roleplaying elements of the new edition interacted with the die rolls for statistics. When I happened to roll a very nice set of stats, the ideals, flaws, and other motivational aspects pushed me to choose the Noble. That is a solid step up over the “you’re on your own” support for roleplaying in, say, Swords and Wizardry. That which is measured or supported with mechanics is more likely to be acted on, and the six background elements (more later) there are a nice touch.

So here we go . . . 

The Die Rolls

I started with +Ken H telling me that the die-rolling method was 4d6 drop the lowest, allocate as I’d like. I tend to start with fighters, and human fighters specifically, in games in the fantasy genre with which I’m not familiar. Also, he gave me the cast of characters, and I noted that there was only one fighter-type, and a Barbarian at that:

  • Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the Second Circle (Half Orc, 8th Level Cleric)
  • Breena Honey-Badger Warrick (Gnome, 5th Level Barbarian)
  • Dante Rathburn (Human, 7th Level Warlock)
  • Duncan Kern (Gnome, 7th Level Rogue)
  • Luven Lightfingers (Human, 8th Level Rogue)
So I figured a straight-up fighter-type would be appropriate. I’m starting at 5th level, the lowest in the party along with said (gnome!) Barbarain.
In any case: the dice were kind. Raw rolls of 12, 15, 13, 13, 15, and 14! Choosing human gave me +1 to each of these (!), and I allocated them with my highest scores in STR and CON, and my third in WIS, since Wisdom is closely linked to perception rolls, and I like being able to notice stuff. I’d had a suggestion that since I was likely going to wear plate armor, that I could/should ignore DEX, but the concept of ignoring DEX as a fighter seems backwards to me. I put my “lowest” score,  a 13, in INT instead, and put my 14s in DEX and CHA. With the +2 CHA bonus, I felt that it was an indication of polish and sophistication. 
Leveling up and making choices

I started with 6500 experience points, at the start of 5th level. So I got +2 to one of my stats, or +1 to each . . . or a Feat. Some of those seem cool, and I was tempted, but I figured I’d leverage the opportunity to start with a really obnoxiously high STR instead. That also kept new rules to a minimum, and since I don’t yet have the Players Handbook, it meant I could do it all from the Basic Rules.
Mixing a few things together, I wound up choosing the Archery fighting style, and the Champion archetype (the only one in Basic, but it fit anyway). I chose a Noble background, combined with my skill choices has given me Athletics (grappling!) at +7, History at 14, Perception at 15, and Persuasion at 15 as well.
In terms of other choices, Ken and I decided that Nosphryc (I looked around my room, and saw Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I took Crypto and Stephanson, came up with Cryptoson, and said, hmmm, maybe backwards. Nosotpyrc. Eh – Nospyrc? Nosphryc. There we go.) would have “a Wizard did it” as the basic reason he showed up miles underground in full armor and gear. 
But then I came up with the idea that it was voluntary. That part of the family tradition was that potential rulers have to go adventuring in order to both increase the wealth of the family and prove that they’re heroic and noble enough to rule. That inspired the choices for the roleplaying elements, and that led to the choices below.
A Full and Proper Kit

Ken allowed me to, since I was 5th level, start with plate armor. I decided that all of his weapon choices would be large and two-handed – no shields for him, though he could use them if he chose. So with the martial weapon proficiency, he picked up a Longbow, a glaive, a pair of handaxes, and a longsword. 
Ken also gave me a bunch of magic stuff: a +1 Sword, +3 vs. Undead (the Sword of Lendorth), an amulet that gives me +1 AC vs the undead (Amulet of Ren), Quickboots (40′ move regardless of encumbrance), a Medium Bag of Holding (to put all the loot in I need to bring back to my family), and a small handful of healing potions. When I’m not tramping around in my armor, I have fine clothes, a signet ring and scroll of pedigree, an explorer’s pack (which I’ll populate with the proper stuff before Monday), and his tokens of vice: a set of playing cards and a white, sequined lady’s glove that is not of good quality. At all.
Parting Shot

I’m gong to enjoy playing him, I think. He’s got decent mobility and AC 18, which I’m told is pretty decent. Against non-undead, he’ll roll 1d20+8 to hit with his sword, 1d20+7 but at longer reach to hit with his glaive. So in melee combat, he’ll range between 5 to 14 points of damage per hit, and 8-17 vs undead. Ranged weapons are the bow, which will reach out quite far, at 1d20+5 to hit, 3-10 damage, and the handaxes, closer-in but 1d20+7 and 5-10 points, for a smaller minimum. It’s slashing, though, rather than piercing, which is probably good against creatures that don’t have much structure to them. Skeletons and the like.
His STR and proficiency make him an excellent grappler , and he’s got good Perception to detect threats. I suspect he won’t be sneakin’ up on anyone, since his heavy armor disadvantages him on Stealth, but what with two rogues in the party, I think he’s more likely to be on the lookout to provide fire support when the rogues are out on point getting themselves in trouble.
I usually don’t play front-line types. I like me my rangers. But I wanted to stay basic for the start, and the Archery fighting style gives me a decent stand-off. I’ll definitely be looking for magical bows and arrows, though. If I could mitigate the clanky-clanky of the plate, he’d be a good point man – put a wall of metal and muscle up front.

I’m very excited. I asked to join a DnD game with some names you’re going to recognize when I post session reports, and was invited to join.

Because I don’t have access to the PHB, I”m sticking with the basics. Fifth level fighter, and he’s developing a nice backstory.

I rolled ridiculously well for stats: 4d6 drop lowest, plus being human, gave me 13, 16, 14, 14, 16, 15.


Right now, I’m considering Heavy Armor Feat instead of the +2 to stats, but I’m unsure. I don’t really have access to the feat list. If I just do stats, I can rock out with STR 18, DEX 15, CON 16, INT 13, WIS 14, CHA 14 or I can go with STR 17 and DEX 16. I like high DX for both the AC as well as often a bonus with ranged weapons. I’ve got an Archery specialty at the moment, but Great Weapon Fighting might be fun too. He’s going to let me start with plate armor, and my loadout is a longsword, longbow, glaive, and two handaxes.

The back story on him is At a certain age (18, 21, whatever) the noble scions of the House of the Azure Tabard (or some such) are sent on Quest. They’re teleported (voluntarily) way the hell away. They must adventure, thrive, enrich themselves to show they are worthy, lead men, follow men, slay monsters, fight for law, and . . . eventually . . . return home.

I’ve got some other notes on him, and I’ll post a final character when I’m done.
For now, though – I’m open to suggestions! What am I missing?

This post has been a long time coming; I first mentioned it back when I interviewed +Kenneth Hite maybe. It’s not that important, but it’s an idea that has been growing on me for a while, and I think my discussion with Ken crystalized something.

Frankly, it’s why I want to play a game of Night’s Black Agents, since my mind was jarred like Hawkeye’s in the Avengers when Ken told me that your point totals were only peripherally related to your ability with a given skill in Night’s Black Agents.

No, what the points measure is how many times you can be awesome in any given scene. They were related to skill, obviously, since if you can be awesome a lot, you’re probably good at something.

But ultimately, NBA is about screen time, as in “movie or TV.” It’s a narrative-based game.

And that’s OK.

Don’t Fight the System

Each game is going to be tailored to a particular style of play. The games I’ve been playing lately couldn’t really be more different on the cover. +Matt Finch‘s Swords and Wizardry Complete, GM’d by +Erik Tenkar, and GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, by either +Nathan Joy or Emily Smirle. Both of those, by the way, are converted D&D modules.

I have tons of fun in both games, but they’re different. Very different. Not “better” or “worse,” but very different.

Swords and Wizardry

To me, the thing about S&W (and based on the free version, D&D5 as well) is that the key is really in resource management. You are either going to run out of resources – spells, hit points, healing of various types – before you destroy your foe(s), or you won’t. At lower levels, and for some classes perhaps even higher levels – you don’t really have much of a choice to make.

Rul Scararm is a fighter. On any given turn, his only choice is really “shoot with my bow, or take a magical sword out of my golf bag and smite away.” Other than what target I’m swinging at – which is usually “the one in front of me,” or failing that “the one with the lowest HP,” since it’s better to take a guy out of the fight than whittle down a few of them – my choices are few.

The spellcasters have more choices; they’re the Omega of the game. Have the fighters hold the line, the wizard casts Web, and basically it’s all over but the looting. Or it’s not, in which case the fighters mop up. Now, the alternate rule Erik uses allows you to keep attacking (cleave) if you kill a guy, so the fighters can cleave up to their level, while other classes can cleave once. +Peter V. Dell’Orto and I each have lain waste to 3-4 foes in one round this way.

So we’re useful, and we open a lot of doors with brute force. But the rate limiting step on our adventures is really a combination of our combined HP, the priest’s healing spells, the group’s potions (we always clean out the shop every adventure start), and the magic-user’s spells.

We embrace this. I’ve not noticed +Joe D (our magic-user) or +Tim Shorts (the cleric) complaining at all. Rul and Mirado go in first (sometimes we scout), set up a wall of pain, and then the other guys do something impressive if they can, or provide some additional carnage if they can’t. Any individual encounter isn’t that tense; the question is how much loot and how many experience points can we get before we deplete our resources. If we run out before we voluntarily quit – very likely someone’s going to die, or be about to die.

We don’t struggle against that. We strive to clear the most rooms and get the coolest stuff. We banter in and out of character. We tell really awful jokes, and without question it’s the most fun I have gaming these days.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy – All Options ON

In Nate and Emily’s games, we use the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy genre treatment. Well, sort of. They turn on a lot of Martial Arts switches. Emily has decided to use the same Technical Grappling variant Peter uses. We use a lot of Low-Tech armor rules, and even a nifty new armor system made by +Mark Langsdorf. They don’t like the regular spell magic system, so we’re using some sort of Threshold Magic.

Here, the challenge is that any fight can be deadly.

Any. Fight.

Get cocky and throw some All-Out Attack? Expect to be nailed if you don’t kill your foe, because you can’t defend. And unless you have DR 10+, you are likely to be vulnerable. With the TG system i place, getting thrown down and grappled by a monster is a real threat.

DF character templates are cool enough that there are lots of options for each blow, too. You aren’t limited by low skills. You can easily step up with Weapon-16 through Weapon-20 right out of the gate, They key is using your unique skill set to do tactically superior and effective things on any given turn.

Most fights are over in a couple of very long (in real time) turns, but every action has tension. You can critically succeed or fail, which means you can be suddenly awesome or really in trouble. My Warrior Saint, Cadmus, dispatched a swordsman with Broadsword-30 in one blow . . . because he turned his back on me while within my Move radius. Splorch.

The key bit here is that the GURPS rules as we were using them reward detailed tactical choices, and the system is deadly enough that you’re not going to have a hundred turns of it.

Now, GURPS can be played fast and loose. I’ve never run it that way, but I’ve played it that way. But I think that, in terms of not fighting the system, GURPS really shines when you can turn the detail up as high as your group’s comfort/enjoyment level will allow.


I fought the system, and the system won. I just didn’t get it, so I played my character in Trail of Cthulhu like I would a GURPS character. My focus was on any specific task, not on “do I want to be Awsome this scene, or not.”

In a way, the General and Investigative spends make GUMSHOE systems games of narrative resource management rather than tactical resource management.

The kicker here is that’s true of combat too. And if you fight the system, and it bothers you to a large degree that a .50BMG and a punch to the face really aren’t that different in potential effects, then you’re going to hate it. A lot.

But if you don’t fight the system, if you decide that your awesome martial artist is going to simply hold his own this fight, and accept the narrative, rather than the tactical, consequences (because when you get to that final battle in the episode, it’s on, baby) then you can enjoy it the way it’s meant to be played.

Parting Shot

Recently I spoke about games I’d like to play, and NBA and FATE were high on the list. I’ve never played in a game of FATE, but I made Thor as a character with +Leonard Balsera, and I’d love to experience the game. +Sean Punch recommends it as a narratively crunchy, rather than tactically cruchy, bag of fun.

Once I can guarantee my schedule is such that I can make the game, I’ll probably pester +James Introcaso to run a game or five of D&D5 for me (and Peter) at the very least, so I can experience the new thing.

But ultimately, it would probably behoove designers to both know and say what kind of game they expect you to be running, and how they designed the rules to support that game. For a game like GURPS, which can support many genre flavors, advice on “well, if you want tactical crunch, do X, Y, and Z with these books,” while if you want narrative, low-detail flavor, you simply must have Impulse Buys, and may need to hide Low-Tech and Tactical Shooting in a deep, dark hole.

By and large, I have a lot of fun gaming. The few times I have not, it can nearly always be attributed to expectations mismatch.

There’s a lesson there.

Right now I’m in basically two games. I play a weekly Dungeon Fantasy game that used to be running through the Jade Regent Adventure Path, but with GURPS. The other is a monthly-ish Swords and Wizardry game.

I used to play in a Pathfinder game as well, and a brief dabble with Trail of Cthulhu.

But there are other games I’d like to play in, to experience them for both how they flow mechanically and narratively.

So, what games would I like to experience?


I’m terribly curious about how this one would run. I ran through creating Thor in my interview with +Leonard Balsera  and I would be interested to see, in the hands of an experienced group, how the game would go. Not just “oh, I played this one session, and it sucked/was awesome,” but a real min-arc at least, so I can feel what it’s like to experience a variety of challenges and see what character growth feels like.

Now, saying “I want to play a game of FATE” is like saying “I want to play a game of HERO, or GURPS.” It’s a ruleset, not a genre.

So I’d probably want to try it out in a genre that traditionally GURPS does less well – full-on four-color superheroes, for example. Making Thor was so easy with FATE Accelerated that I’d like to try something in a similar vein.

Night’s Black Agents

Again, this one was brought on by my interview with +Kenneth Hite. I’d been pointed to the system before, and grilled him pretty hard about the mechanical choices in a GUMSHOE game. I left feeling very impressed, and with a much greater understanding of how that system is supposed to run, and what point spends mean.

Ironically, or perhaps not, in rereading my interview with Leonard, I see it was he, core designer of FATE, that turned me on to NBA. Small world, small world.

There’s an entire post in that – how not to fight the mechanics – but for now, what I really want to do is run through a campaign of NBA. Experience how a Vampyramid/Conspiramid unfolds. See if I can make my own web of intrigue, like the interactions board we saw in Chuck (I wonder if Zachary Levi kept the Tron poster?).

Playing Jason Bourne fighting vampires sounds like my kind of game.

Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition

I’ve been enjoying the S&W game, and frankly D&D5 feels a lot like that to me, but with more options and what is certainly going to be copious support. As a creator, if you’re going to write for something, you can do worse to try your hand at D&D, also.

But it is how I got introduced to RPGing, with the Moldvay Basic set and the awesome splendor of AD&D. I’ve played a bit of Pathfinder. So I’m familiar with some of the forebears to what is still (lumping WotC and Paizo together) the only force in the market, if you’re going to be honest.

So I’d love to experience what the new D&D is at the hands of someone who loves it. Maybe +James Introcaso can hook me up.