Used +Roll20 to run my test playtest, and it was my first time to do this as GM.

It took me about 3-4 hours to generate a random dungeon using the donjon generator, edit the monsters so that they were thematically more unified (all from the very useful list of Hill Monsters from the DMG or Monster Manual), and then populate it.

As far as I can tell, the best way to do this is to completely generate a fully populated character sheet for each type of NPC or boss monster. Then, to create faceless minions, you duplicate the templates over and over. If you don’t do that, you wind up having to edit each critter.

I was not able to make Dynamic Lighting and reveals work. That was just time pressure. 

I was able to use the map layer and GM layer effectively to add color to each room, and the library of free tokens in Roll20 is extensive enough to really make dungeons pop. I also bought six new sets of tokens from +Devin Night in addition to his 20 free sets. I mean, if you’re doing tokens, you need his stuff, and it’s worth paying him, because excellence deserves your support.

One thing I was not able to do was to automate the attacks. The player sheet has very easy tabular entry for attacks. The GM sheet has a more generic set of Actions, which are –  I think – macro driven. The available documentation deliberately assumes that if you’re the GM you’re already an expert, and isn’t much help (seriously: do it that way, but just put an example in there).

I think you can just put a line like “Scimitar” for the name, or “Slash with Scimitar,” and then maybe some text for description, and a macro for effect. I think.
+Samuel Penn noted that a simple simple attack macro might be something like: /as “@{selected|token_name}” swings his morning star hitting AC [[d20  @{BAB}+@{str}+@{selected|bar3}+ 1]], doing [[1d6 +@{str}]] damage

That’s cool, and would help. 

I could always use PC sheets for the bad guys, I guess. 

This is going to be an evolving project, but I’ve got a simulation-based OrcPower calculator up on Google Drive.

Here’s the link to the file: Orc-O-Matic!


You input basic stats in the yellow boxes. Some input notes:

STR or DEX: the bonus to hit/damage from your attack attribute
Style or Choice: things like the +2 for Archery, or the -5 to hit for exercising the Sharpshooter option
Proficiency: Proficiency bonus

Damage or normal hit: I really wanted a lot of this to auto-calculate, but not sure how to get a formula to be placed into 10,000 cells. So this is there as a placeholder for when I figure it out.

Attacks per round: this is your BASIC number of attacks. Not your bonus attacks for special powers and stuff. You can cheat this along with “Extra Attack”

Resist Mult: this is for things like the barbarian’s resistance to melee attacks.

The DMG per attack yellow requires you to enter a formula for how much damage you do. So if you have lots of bonus funky dice (such as for Hunter’s Mark, or Colossus Slayer) you’ll need to enter these on your own, then FILL DOWN.


There are a bunch of calculated parameters.

Total (in the hit row) is the bonus you’re adding to 1d20; it is repeated as 1d20+X for sanity in “Gut Check.” Likewise for damage, this should look a lot like what your base damage is.

Hit/Crit is the same way. You should be able to look at your hit chance and your foe’s target AC and get within 1% of the answer here, and the Crit should be 5% for “crits on 20” and 10% for “crits on 19-20.”

Attacks/kill is basically 1/the percent chance to kill an foe in one blow. This accounts for lost damage from doing 345 damage against a 15 HP foe. Lacking stuff like cleaving (not automated yet), that 330HP is lost. 

Bonus Att/Round is a formula that shows how often things like when you crit or reduce a foe to 0HP, you get a bonus attack. For the 6th level barbarian, this happens about 40% of the time.


The OrcPower rating is equal to the product of:

Attacks/Kill rating for your foe – how many attacks by your foe will occur before the PC drops.

divided by the foe’s attacks per round – converts this into rounds standing

divided by the PC’s attacks/kill 

multiplied by the PCs attacks/round

The four together: (Foe Attacks/Kill / Attacks/Round) = Rounds per dead PC
                                   (PC Attacks/Round) / Attacks/Kill) = PC kills per round

            Together you get PC foes killed per PC death

Not Included

No methods are provided (yet) for advantage/disadvantage, bonus damage for Sneak Attacks, or other conditionals.

Also not included directly is the impact of a second fighter. 

Spells and items resisted by Saving Throws? Not implemented.

Parting Shot

This calculator is a way to get the basic melee portion of effectiveness down, within certain boundaries. It’s not quite as fully-featured as I’d like, but with this basis, I’m sure that suggested (or direct) modifications can be made.

Anyone that wants to download and modify the Excel sheet has my permission to do so, so long as you give a bit of credit for the starting document. If you look at this and have an entirely new way to do it – say with some real programming code – I obviously don’t need or deserve attribution for that . . . but please share your work!

Holy crap, the ForgedAnvil Character Generator is amazing.

Put in an experience total. Put in your raw die rolls or the “standard array.” Then start choosing, using pre-populated drop-down boxes, all the things that can be chosen. 

Weapons and armor? It’s in there.

Spells? Feats? Languages? Yep.Even handy look-ups for spells and feats.

Multi-class support? Yes. 

Change your mind, and want to convert a Level 15 fighter from Champion to Battle Master? Might take you five minutes. Ten tops.

It also provides a detailed summary of everything your paper man can do, with game mechanics.

I will almost certainly be making my characters with this program for the foreseeable future.

After something like a three-month pause (Peter says 1/9/2015), we return to the Castle of the Mad Archmage. We’d abandoned the arena, and returned to Level 3, looking for stuff to kill and loot in the fine, grand old tradition of delvers everywhere..

After shooting the breeze for nearly an hour, we got down to business. We were moderately loaded with healing potions, so Rul went shopping, and bought 3 more for 500gp.

We decided to continue to avoid the mass of Hobgoblins to the Northeast (“because there’s a ton of them and they have a terrible Treasure Type.”) We elect to head to the area round the pink room, and as per usual, the three ST 16-17 characters all fail to open the door, rollng 5-6 three times on 1d6. Odds of that? 1 in 27.

Guess we need to find another door.

We do, and then Rul actually managed to kick open a door. The occupants of the room are dead, standing, and they turn to look at us but don’t turn to attack just yet. There are four of them.

“Greetings, denizens of the underworld,” says Mirado. We don’t see any treasure about – we say “sorry guys!” and leave.

As we walk, Minister finds a secret door as we go, and opens it. There’s nothing obvious, but we continue down the corridor, finding a dead-end. We all fail the secret door roll, so we miss the obvious second secret door in the dead-end corridor.

We continue.

We come to another door, and Rul opens it this time. Lots of locked doors. There’s a number on the room, so we at least get XP. There’s a bust with crazy hair, on top of a pedestal. It speaks: “Green. Out. Light. Bird. Boat. Club. Cook. What five letter word can be added to these words to make new words?”

Peter nails it early: House.

A secret compartment opens, and there’s something metallic in there – a large brass key. We kick in the door, Mirado is not surprised, and we roll initiative against a “Stun Jelly.” A very large stun jelly.

Mirado stabs the stun jelly, hitting with a 21 for 4 HP. Mir gets hit by the stun jelly for 4 HP. Peter slices for a few HP, and Rul and Minister miss. Rul hits this time, Mirado takes a HP of damage from his blood drinking sword by rolling a 1, and Minister nails Stun Jelly for 10HP.

It’s in a jam now!

Peter gets hit, and barely makes his saving throw, and takes 1 HP.

Then Rul gets hit for 5 HP, is paralyzed, and it moves in to envelop Rul. If we don’t kill it this round, I take half-damage after. But Peter kills him in the next round.

I’m paralyzed for 80min though. They prop me up next to the Beethoven head, hang their armor and shields on me, and use cantrips to take selfies of my paralyzed body. But inside the stun jelly, there’s 35gp and 8pp. Which is not bad for selfies.

We press on, hang a left at a turn, and roll a random polyhedral die in a random roll-low method, and Mirado kicks open the door. There’s no description or number,so we decide in this room, there are spectral warriors moving spectral clowns around on a sand table, which itself is mounted on a 5% slope.

So we keep on moving, and find a door and more hallway. All three of us again fail to open door, as we roll 5,5,5 against a 1-4.

The door opens up anyway, and a large ogre with a bunch of orcs behind him. We win initiative, and Mirado hits him with his ogre head. Rul hits for a major blow – 12 HP, in addition to Mirado’s 6 HP. Ogre’s still up.

Minister sees a dozen orcs behind the ogre, so Minister casts sleep, and rolls 2d6 for 3 – putting three to sleep. The ogre moves into the hallway. The ogre targets Mirado, wielder of the ogre-head (“Was this your brother? Cousin?”) and hits rolling 21, for 9 HP.

Mirado puts the ogre down with a mighty 10HP blow, but misses his cleave. The orcs look more determined than ever. Rul rolls four hits with two natural 20s, killing four with a mighty flurry of blows. The remainig four orcs miss, and once again we gain initiative. Rul kills one, but no joy on the rest. The remaining three suddenly surrender.

We drag these three into the room with their sleeping buddies, and Mirado gets to work starting to recruit them. He’s like that. He’s always the one that wants to talk to the Lynx. And he speaks orcish. “We are recruiting. You are my subjects. We are your new ogre chieftain!”

He flexes a lot as he talks, but his CHA 10 makes it Hans and Franz. “You ah now paht of owr teem!” BUTT FLEXING!!

We tell them that we’ve no intention of killing their women and children, so they join up.

The new three wake up, and go for their weapons. We try and convince them that we’re their chieftain, by shoving the dead ogre’s dead face into their midst. The orcs admit we’re a chieftain. No, we’re their chieftan. You are A chieftain. Mirado has enough of this badinage, and kills one. They run (all of them) in all directions, and we follow the one bolting out to the north.

Out of the door pops the hill giant. We’re told missile fire is impossible, and out come behind the hill giant a large number of orcs and ogres.

Fireballs Coming Online . . . 

We win initiative, and it’s time to throw fireballs. Minister throws an 18 HP fireball, and all the big guys make their saves. The first five orcs in the rushing onslaught are all turned into crispy critters.

The hill giant misses, an ogre hits Rul for 8 HP. Minister gets tagged for 15 HP, which drops him down to 11 HP left.

Mirado and Rul team up on the hill giant, doing 14 HP between them. Minister gets his magic missile on, versus the ogre that hit him, hitting the ogre for 13 HP. He’s reeling but up.

The giant misses Mirado again, even with +10 in bonuses. The ogre misses Rul, but hits Minister, who’s only got 11 HP left . . . bringing him down to -3. He goes down.

Rul rolls like the fifteenth 6 for initiative, which is good, ’cause we need it.

We keep going after the giant, and hit for 6 HP more. We’ve got giant, ogre, ogre attacking Rul Rul Rul. Ouch. Three hits. 17 HP, and 16 HP . . . 33 HP total, leaving me with 1 HP left.

Rul quaffs a extra healing potion, restoring 16 HP. Mirado hits for a few HP. One ogre hits Mirado for 12 HP.

Mirado hits the hill giant for 10 HP, finally killing it, and cleaves, missing. One ogre on each of us, both hit. Rul takes 9 HP, Mirado takes 15 HP. Mirado kills one of the remaining ogres. The last hits Rul, rendering him unconscious. Mirado takes down the last ogre, after being missed in a simultaneous excahnge.

Mirado threatens the orcs; they do not attack. He then heals Minister, bringing him to 3 HP. Minister heals Rul up to 9 HP. Rul heals himself back with 3 regular healing potions, now at 23 HP.

Peter’s the only effective at the moment, though. We have HP, but need to rest.

The downed hill giant has a few gems in his sack, and a belt or something wrapped around his arm. Turns out it’s a Belt of Fortitute, giving +1 HP per HD.

There are about, well, 8-9 orcs in the hallway, and more wandering about. And still more gather. Mirado growls a warning, and we limp out of the dungeon to rest and heal. We give the belt to Minister, to balance out his twenty-something HP total to keep him alive.

The gems are worth 6,500 gp . . . so the delve wasn’t so bad after all. We decide to continue.

We want to go kill some orcs, vengeance. When we get back, there’s a giant barricade in the hallway. Hrm. We try and make our way to an alternate route. We open a door, and find, on a shelf, four bottles of old Aventian wine. Nope. valueless, turned to vinegar.

I got 99 problems, but a ditch ain’t one

We decide to try our luck crossing pits to get to the orc area. We take some construction stuff and make a bridge, but we run up against another barricade. Drat.

We decide to leave a sign in orcish, saying “By order of the Mad Archmage, this illegal barricade must be removed immediately, or horrible magical torture awaits all within the two walls. To Plead No Contest and Pay the 95 GP Fine, Check and Sign Next To The Box.”

We decide to go tear down the northwest barricade

We both roll 1s, and are surprised by 7 giant centipedes. Ooo. Save vs. Death monsters.

Two attack each of us, but of course three are on Minister. They spend their surprise round missing us. Because they’re coming out of the garbage, no one can get more than one cleave.

We lose initiative, and one bites Tim but he saves (at +6), so not dead.

Our round comes, and we kill 5 of the 7. The two centipedes win initiative for the next round, and miss. Peter squishes the remaining two.

We continue through the barricade, and see that they rolled out a very old ballista, which they loose at Mirado as he peeks around the corner. It screams by his head, missing, and after they fire the orcs flee.

We burn it all, since we’ll never get it up all the 5% slopes.

We carefully scout out the area. Noise to the north – wailing of children, stuff being moved around. We bypass it and head back to where we had the big fight, looking for another. Nothing. We keep looking, find a door, and this looks like it was a barracks, within the last couple of weeks. It’s now abandoned.

We continue to make the orcish circuit, filling in blank spaces in our map. Some empty rooms, but we also find on the south wall a viewport, like on a ship.

We find another door, open it, and find three full-sized statues: a female elf, a halfling, and an orc. Rul the imprudent goes into the room, and Minster follows. The door slams shut, and the halfling comes alive, then starts shapechanging into something else, while attacking Minister. He misses.

Rul hits for 7 HP, while Minister fires off 10 HP worth of Magic Missile. Next round Minister steps in for 8 HP. Mimic misses, and Rul crits, hitting for 12 HP. Minister adds his 9 HP, and the thing is still up, but reeling. 7 HP more from Minister, and the mimic falls.

Mirado knocks quietly on the door, and asks “are you done yet? I didn’t want to attract any wandering monsters.”

We search the room, and find nothing We push over the statues that remain out of spite – we hate orcs so much we’ll even kill orc statues.

We continue on, and barely avoiding getting hit by a Lurker from Above. In our turn, the three of us hit for 25 HP total, each hitting solidly. Lurker misses Rul.

A few more blows traded, Rul for 10 HP. and the Lurker hits Rul for 24 HP on a crit, and then hits for 8 HP more as it slowly crushes me to death; Rul’s down to 8 HP now.

Rul hits from inside for 4 HP, and Magic Missile hits for 14 HP more, killing it.

Whew. Mirado hits me with a healing spell and I quaff a potion, bringing back 19 HP.

We look around for treasure, finding none. Alas.

We contiue to wander around a bit, revealing more and more random bends. We find one more door, and just have to kick it in.

Or try. Mirado kicks poorly, but Rul busts it open. And six theater masks are hanging on the walls. Sadness, Happiness, Chorus, Neutral, Oaf, and Age. “Which of us is telling the truth?”

One of us is telling the truth.
Two of us are teeling the truth, says the next . . .

We just close the door, because most of us have been drinking and it’s 11pm CST.


Tim gets 1000 extra XP for the belt, and 7,305 base XP, x 1.15 for bonuses is 8,400 XP. I’m not something like 4,000 XP away from Level 7.

We start off east of the bridge entering the city, and observe from a half-mile away that there’s a knight and three yeoman interrogating those who wish to cross. Based on our familiarity with this area, we know there’s a manor nearby – actually, lots of them. This is thanks to a poor set of Perception rolls by everyone but one character – we decided that +Tim Shorts and my characters were looking at squirrels. 

And thus the first title of the post was decided in the first five minutes of the transcript. Go team.

We decide that a  Paladin on quest isn’t one to be interfered with, and the rest of the PCs are “with the Paladin.” And the reptile man will threaten to eat anyone who says different.

They ride up to us after they spot us, and call “Halt!” 

“I am Mark Bludiell, a Paladin of Veritas on Quest,” I say, rolling a 23 Persuasion check. 

“Um, uh. He looks kinda elvish. Is he elvish? Who’s Veritas? Um, yeah, there’s rebellion and stuff, and we’re checking it out . . . um, please proceed!” they say, to our retreating backs.

(before the fold: +Rob Conley explains what a Sheriff is, and +Chris C. throws down some adventure sound bites of maximum inappropriateness)

In reality, we are dropping off armor at the Church of Mitra. And coming down the Trollwatch road, we run into a band of a half-dozen adventurer types, each wearing a green tabard with an 8-pointed star on it. They point at Leshar, clearly recognizing him. “They finally let you loose, eh!”

“So to speak. You wouldn’t happen to be the Twilight Company, would you?”

They refer us to the Jug Inn, and let us know that business is good. 

As we pass through the town, we see a temple of Set, and a temple of Mitra, with a pair of Overlord’s guards outside. We approach, claiming business inside. 

“The Temple is closed. The priests have been arrested. Who are you?”

I tell him I’m a Paladin of Veritas again; I make another good Persuasion roll, and they tell us that we can check with the Steward at Caer Tain. We decide to go get a room at the Jug Inn; on our way there we pass an apothecary, a merchant’s hall, and the millwrights . . . a chandlery for supplies, etc.

I ask Rob if he’s making all this up as we go, building by building. No, he says. That’s the advantage of using Harn fan-made stuff. Lots of detail.

As we continue, we see a merchant’s shop, and we recognize the name Herone. 

Dun dun dun!!

Unsurprisingly, across the street from the Jug Inn is a brothel. 

The innkeeper asks if we have our Tokens. We were supposed to check in with the Sheriff. She can’t let us in, but we could stable our horses while we check in. Mark pays the two days minimum to stable our horses and gear; he has no use for money anyway.

Between the Paladin in full armor and the lizard man, as Tim notes, “we don’t do subtle.”

While it is against my better nature as an RPGer, we decide that this group is of the “Hey, diddle, diddle, straight up the middle” strategy.

We head off to the Sheriff’s office at the main castle, Caer Tain. We get to the gate, walk through without being stopped. There’s a bunch of adventurers in line, and we debate whether to wait in line or play Paladin on Quest.

We decide to wait . . . and Leshar the Lizard Man yells out “Make way, the Paladin’s coming through!”

All the guards ready their weapons, the guy manning the table stands up as if he’s been shocked, and stuff is about to get real.

Mark Bludiell calls his light; “I am a Paladin of Veritas on Quest. There is no need for violence here.”

They tell us that we have to check in, and if we do anything, check in with them. 

I go all Holy Might on him, rolling Intimidation of 22, “You wish to get between the High Lord Veritas and the object of his quest? I know not what I am called to do, but I brook no interference.”

They look shaken, and bring food, egged on by Leshar the Lizard Man asking for food, ale, and cheese. “Don’t pay too much attention to Leshar,”  Vognur says. “Leshar gets this way when he hasn’t eaten anyone for a few days.

Food is brought, we eat, and then we’re escorted to the Sheriff.

We have a very animated, hostile confrontation with the Sheriff. I score a few points, but eventually he invokes his right as minister of the law to kick us out of the city. That’s within his right, so we start to depart.

I start to try and pry out the source of his trouble so we can find an amicable solution, but he’s having none of it.

So Keyar Nailo shoots him. Twice. For 21 points of damage. He’s still up. Leshar, who has been planning this bit of inspired violence with Keyar for a bit, slashes at, and kills, one of the guards.

Oh, it’s on now. There are only two guards inside the room. So that shouldn’t be too bad, but when we try and leave, we might find it a tetch more difficult.

Since we surprised the GM too, everyone rolls initiative.

Mark tries to Command the Sheriff to “Yield!” But he rolls a 23, and does not. He then attacks me three times, hitting me once for 12 HP. I guess I can defend myself now. 

Keyar uses Colossus Slayer and hits twice, adding but 2 HP using the ability, for 20 HP more. Vognur also attacks the largest threat, trying to clear the table (Athletics check at DC 10, rolls 7), but attacks at -2, hitting for 14 slashing, and then second attack for 11 HP. That’s 25 more.

He’s now taken over 60 HP of damage, and he’s still up. Yeesh.

Leshar takes another shot at a guard, and hits for 14 HP, and he goes down. Leshar jumps up on the table (rolls 26!) and gets in the faces of the two noble dandy-boys and smiles like a Kzin.

Mark hits, on his first attack, for 19 HP, invoking Divine Smite to do so. 

This guy is still up. 

And he hits me three times, hitting me for a total of 51 HP of damage. Yowch. I’m at -25 HP.

Keyar does slight damage (6 HP), and Vognur does 9 HP more. He’s still up. 

Mark fails his first death check. He gets a lingering injury, a minor scar that won’t be removed without major magic. Guess Veritas was displeased.

He steps over to Keyar and smacks him twice for 35 HP. We have to deal with this guy.

Keyar adds Hunter’s Mark to his roll, hits for 12 piercing damage, and our 111 HP foe finally goes down (he was 15th level!).

Tain is now under new management.

Vognur does Second Wind to pick up a lame 6 HP, bringing him back up to 20 HP. He then tries to stabilize Mark Bludiell with a Medicine check, rolling a 10, which stabilizes him. Whew.

One of the nobles tries to flee, the other hits Leshar for 7 HP. Leshar sneers, misses, and we hear “The Sheriff is down! The Sheriff is down!” from below. Sigh. 

The second noble breaks and runs, provoking an attack of opportunity which hits for 13 HP. He’s badly wounded, but escapes down the circular staircase; Keyar gives chase. The Sheriff also fails his first death check, picking up a minor scar on the roll. Mark and Sheriff match now.

Keyar runs down the stairs closest to him, and takes out a guard down there.

Vognur takes a moment to kill the Sheriff, and takes his sword – which turns out to be a +2 sword, a very nice find in D&D5. 

Leshar makes a Perception check, and hears the guys below complaining loudly about being trapped in a room filled with nothing but arrow slits. “I can help you fit through the arrow slits!” snarls Leshar – which would have been much cooler had he not blown his roll. But he still gets an Intimidation check; they’re going to stand their ground.

A guard rushes Keyar, and misses. Keyar backs off to shoot (attack of opportunity misses), and shoots him twice for 22 HP, finishing off everyone upstairs.

Vognur heads down the spiral stairs, and attacks with the new longsword pillaged from the Sheriff. He hits for 18 slashing damage, and the injured guard goes down.

The final guard begs for his life. That leaves Leshar the Lizard Man, who grants him mercy this day, and the stale stench of urine hits Leshar’s nose.

That’s the combat, for now. Keyar closes and bars the double doors, while Vognur ties up the surviving guards.

Keyar enters a room, and gets surprised and stabbed by a bunch of guards laying in wait. He gets tagged for 3 HP. Keyar backs out (provoking attacks of opportunity, which miss), and he marks and shoots both, killing one. They slam the door shut, and bolt or block the door. Keyar picks up a dead body from the floor and uses him as a battering ram (+1 damage!) to slam into the door. A roll of 13 (net) is sufficient to open the door! 

Vognur and Leshar hear the fighting through the arrowslits. They run upstairs through the hall, passing Mark’s unconscious body.

Keyar’s turn, and he once again takes a step back, provoking a failed attack of opportunity, but misses both times. One of the guards hits Keyar, for 9 HP.

Keyar pulls his rapier, misses twice, and he’s struck in turn for 5 HP.

Vognur arrives, and quickly dispatches the two guards. 

We’re out of combat again, so we decide that we’re about done for the night. Keyar applies Cure Light Wounds to Mark B. We note that the guys outside were carrying Knight-Killer crossbows. 

We’re in a world of hurt. We expend most of our healing magic. Three Cure Light Wounds and all of Mark’s 20 HP of Lay on Hands later . . . and we’re still in a world of hurt.

Good news is that Mark sneaks over the border to Level 5. This will net him +3 instead of +2 for proficiency, an Extra Attack, an extra 1st level and two second level spell slots. I also realize that I’ve been doing my Paladin spells wrong – but no worries, easily fixed if I live to get another Long Rest.

+Rob Conley +Tim Shorts +Joshua Macy +Daniel McEntee +Chris C. 

We pick up after a two-week hiatus, and we’re joined by Leshar, a lizard-man former gladiator and fighter on behalf of Mitra.This is +Tim Shorts‘ new character, and he seems a fighter of some ability.

We learn from him that the revolt in City State was quite real, but that the Regent has pretty much got the City-State buckled up, but he’s turning his attention to fighting Dracolindis.

That pretty much leaves us on our own. 

To interrogate, we have Halia Thorton, Settite and the person that runs the miner’s guild, and Sir Varius, general thug and horse lord of Highgarden.

The mayor, Arno, left behind something that might prove useful. It’s 2′ long, 8″ high, filled with writing implements. And the Seal of a Magistrate of City-State.

Hrm. We talk about fake credentials, but hey – Paladin. We have a hungry lizard man, a priest with a thirsty blade, and a Paladin whose idiom is pretty direct. What could go wrong here?

We eschew obfuscation, and make a beeline to the Highgarden Manor. We elect a pathway to enhance our sneakitude . . . but fail miserably on a series of awful rolls. 


As we go, we pass an inn covered in turtle skulls. The innkeeper asks us what’s going on, we say we’re headed to the Manor. 

“Sir Varius isn’t there,” she says.“I know,” says our Paladin. Not necessarily a master of the reassurances, is he. Truth, not comfort.

There are people going about their daily lives inside the Manor. We knock. A bar is lifted, and a woman says “YEEEP!” and flees in terror.

No worries, we say. The reptile man comes in peace. Really. Vognur rolls a 1, and Leshar notes that he could  have bit off her hand and ate it and gotten a better reaction. We speculate that Vognur may have met that maiden before, explaining the reaction.

The whole place is run-down, like Varius’ armor. We follow her, and she’s shrieking “They’re warriors!” 

The Paladin shows his holy symbol, “we mean no violence here.” She finally sees Carmina, Elder of Mitra, and breathes a sigh of relief – “please tell me that awful knight is dead!”

“Who dares enter here? You’d best be gone or you’ll be in no end of trouble.” There’s some shouting and a scream, as the people inside engage in a vigorous religious discussion.

We kick in the door. There are three women huddled over a trap door leading down. They see us and they back away. There appears to be the steward of the manor, laying in the basement with a broken neck, dead. 

The eldest woman says, defiantly: “I do not regret his death. He was a bad man.”
Leshar the very violent reptile-man says: “Was this your first kill?” He sounds very approving.

We go in, and see the broken body of a priest of Mitra; he’s barely alive. The paladin lays on hands, and he revives, says “Praise Mitra!” and falls asleep.

The household gathers, and we get it sorted out. The manor servants and occupants do not look healthy or well-off. The stores, upon examination, shows food of middling quality for Sir Varius, and utter crap for everyone else.

We encourage the remainder to make a meal of Sir Varius’ stores, for themselves. The priest awakens, and we find he is Elder Gefgist.

“Forgive me for not getting up.”

We get his story. The messenger came. Elder Gefgist was listening with the other townsfolk. Some of the peasants, in league with Sir Varius, informed. The visiting elder escaped, but Elder Gefgist was taken, and tortured. But Sir Varius couldn’t even get torture right.

We then search the rest of the house, looking for papers and information. The rooms seems to be of common size. It looks like Varius tried to get involved in a lot of things, but not even the bad guys wanted him on his team.

We look for ties to Hilda, and find it – but she’s not that interested in this thuggish knight as a partner either. 

There is one thing of interest – there is one connection to a Master Palad – a mercantyler (merchant) in Tain – about an interesting proposition. But alas, no details on the proposition itself. But a list of five people, including Herone. Ah, ha.

We continue to search the manor, and our eagle-eyed Lizard rocks it. As we’re searching, Leshar wanders out carrying a large box, for which we find a key on the dead body of the Steward. It contains 500d and 10 gold crowns, plus the charter for the manor.

Elder Gefgist gives us each 1 gold crown, worth 320d each. We eat, offer blessings to Veritas and Mitra, and then we have to decide what to do.

There’s one yeoman left, who promptly surrenders and joins us, and six militia. They all have harvest to bring in. We also remember that Tormar is the village/manor of the knight we captured and ransomed. But wait – we still need to drop off the gear in Tain. We probably have until mid-month before we have broken any pledges.

But watch out for trolls to the northeast, orcs to the southeast in the woods, so these villages must stay protected. And of course, there’s a dragon at Thunderkeep (T), and the keep of Valion between us and Tain.

We have several missions, all of which seem to take us to Tain. 

Sir Melius, though – his rep among the people of Highgarden is better than Sir Varius, and way better than Sir Colin. We decide to head over to Lervin, where there’s Sir Tunnon, who is known to be Mitran, and so we try and chat him up, hoping to enlist him and delegate settling Mardan, since the loss of Sir Colin may have upset things.

We see more-alert militia at Lervin, and they’ve set up a barricade; troops file on the bridge. We approach openly, and by the time we hit the ford, Sir Tunnon and four militia approach. The townsmen in the field seem mostly organized.

He recognizes Leshar, but not Elder Carmina. He asks us what we want, and we tell him it’s to chat. We accept. 

We tell him that Phandalin has revolted against the Overlord and declared for Dracolindes ad Mitra. This caused Sir Varius and Sir Colin to try and take Phandalin. They fell in battle, killing Colin and taking Varius prisoner. And oh-by-the-way, Sir Melius of Tormar attacked us and ransomed his armor. Carmina is on his way to Tain, with messages to the Bishops and to drop off the armor. 

Sir Tunnon says that the magistrate of Valion must have screwed up; there’s a lot of fighting up that way. There were a bunch of troops tried to march to Lervin (oh, that was us too), and so the Lervinites were prepared for trouble.

He thinks that this is all good news. He holds out a message from Baron Theodar of Greenstream. He wants to gather those sworn to the cause of Mitra to join him there.

Hrm. Well, our desire is to see that the people of this area are at least safe, and so it occurred to us that whatever we could offer up for mutual defense and protection would be good. He asks us who we left in charge – the Elders of Mitra in Phandalin and Highgarden. 

Tunnon is heading down to Greenstream. The reeve has things well in hand. We could come with him to Greenstream.

We decide to head to Tain, deliver the armor, and deliver the Bishop’s messages. Tunnon reminds us that being caught in Mitran robes. He also advises us that as a group, we’re a major military force.

We head off to Tain. We crest the ridge on the way to the keep of Valion, and see a pillar of smoke rising above the valley. The keep itself is burning, and there are other buildings on fire or burned (B). There are people around, tending chickens – any battle is quite over, perhaps.

The keep is just a burned-out shell. Vognur walks up to the first peasant he sees to ask what’s up. Mostly they back off, but two stand firm, and we come up holding out empty hands. We ask what happened, other than the obvious – a battle.

The magistrate said that we are now under the authority of Dracolindes; the local horse-lord knights took exception. The horse-lords are at the gate, and the harvest must continue. 

What happened to the forces of the Dracolindes? He received a message from the Baron of Greenstream, so they left. They hope that the guy that freed the starving village (Leshar ducks his head) will save them too.

The question is do we slip across the river in the night, and not get entangled in a fight? We take a wide berth to direct line-of-sight to the keep. As we approach the bridge and ford, a single guy on horseback rides out to investigate us.

Leshar starts walking directly at the horse lord. He fires two bowshots at Leshar (and rolls a 1!) and we decide not to return fire, and move along.

“A shot that bad is its own punishment.”


We pause here, having done the entire session without smiting anyone. We’ll have to make u for it next turn. Tain awaits. 250xp were awarded.

Players this session: +Tim Shorts+Chris C.+Joshua Macy , +Ken H , +Rob Conley 

Preview map:


A lot of plot development this time, but still, we had to decide which of many forks to take. Tain seems the best bet, as we have concrete things to do there. Still, the manor of Sir Colin and the meeting with the Baron at Greenstream loom large on our minds.

We see action coming out of the manor as we start out. Ten spearmen, a couple of men-at-arms, and a few carts and wagons. We decide to anticipate them heading to Lervin, so we can set an ambush at the bridge (B) from Lervin to Phandalin – the route with the best road.

We guess correctly, and high-tail it first down the same road as they will take, but then cut cross-country to come at the bridge from the south.

We wanted to set a Rune of Boom on the bridge, triggering it when the bad guys are on the bridge, but the Glyph is not that easy to set up. We estimate it’ll only take 1-2 hours to get there for them, so we’re going to have to move it move it to get set up and prepared.

The good news is that we can probably move several times as fast to cover the roughly 2 miles from Highgarden to the bridge at Lervin. Even at 10 mph, that’s about 12-24 minutes. So we’ll have anything from abut 35 minutes to as long as 1 hour and 45min to get ready for them. Most likely is something like a bit more than an hour – just enough time to set up the Glyph of Explody Bits and then have a bit of time to wait for them to come.

We set up behind as much cover and concealment as possible, missile weapons at the ready. We figure if we can down the two knights first and foremost, the “host” will likely be ineffective even if we don’t destroy them all. 

The Glyph of Warding explodes in a 20′ radius, so we steer clear of that. Keyar Nailo sets up a very concealed trap (natural 20!) at the south end of the bridge. 

We set up . . . and wait. We decide anything fancy is not in the cards, and (potentially against my better judgement) fail to set up a classic L-shaped ambush. 

The small force approaches; the knights are riding to the east and west of the short column, with ten spearmen and a man-at arms.

They walk right into the spell trap. BOOM. The stone-plank bridge is on fire.

Sir Varius is up front, and he takes 23 points of damage, as he fails to save. The man-at-arms takes 9 HP; the seven spearmen each take 25 HP, wiping them all out.

We’re instantly down to a wounded knight, a less-wounded man-at-arms, three spearmen, and an unharmed Sir Colin. Keyar takes aim at Sir Colin; Mark at Sir Varius, and Aevin Steelhand shoots Sir Varius for 7 HP. Mark’s arrow ricochet’s off his armor (AC 18). Sir Colin is spared a similar impalement by his armor. Vognur whiffs as well.

Markbludiell continues his streak of poor initiative rolls, nearly at the bottom of the heap with an 11. The spearmen on the other side rock it with a 20, so they go first. we’ll see.

Aevin goes first, and shoots with advantage at Sir Varius, which also glances off the armor. Sir Varius snaps out of it, and charges at Markbludiell. His horse takes a tumble, and we hear the ugly snap of a broken leg as Varius hits the pit trap that Keyar set. He takes 10 HP from the fall; the horse is down, screaming.

Sir Varius is on the ground, and Vognur draws his sword and moves to the attack; Vognur has advantage due to his being prone.

The spearmen start to break and run, but Sir Colin strikes one down; the rest are well motivated, and charge the PCs. Sir Colin himself runs up next to Aevin, striking once for a crit, and missing a second attack. He hits Aevin for 23 HP!


Markbludiell casts Sacred Weapon, but misses Sir Colin with a sword attack anyway. The yeoman sergeant moves up and shoots Markbludiell with a crossbow, rolling 19 but bouncing off of his armor and shield.

Aevin invokes Second Wind to heal 1d10+4 HP, getting 9 HP back. He also does Action Surge for two attacks to Sir Colin, who was paralyzed by a spell in the prior round; Colin is hit twice for 27 HP of slashing damage. 

Sir Varius gets up (!) and attacks Vognur twice, hitting once for 16 HP. 

Vognur attacks Sir Varius, but misses. Keyar is up, and crits on Sir Colin, which we need, for 22 HP, and Sir Colin goes down. The horse goes into a frenzy and attacks Aevin, and +Rob Conley rolls another crit, doing 20 HP to Aevin. 

Even the f**king horse rolls 20s. And an attempt to use Animal Handling on the horse by Mark fails. Carmina attacks Varius with burning hands for 10 HP.  Kayar hits Varius for 21 HP, and with an arrow through his throat, goes down hard.

The sergeant at arms breaks and flees. Sir Varius passes a death check.

Vognur pursues the sergeant; we want to take him captive. Sergeant can’t run without disengaging. The horse critically misses against Mark, which gives him the opportunity to Dash after the sergeant without provoking an attack of opportunity or disengaging. 

Carmina casts a healing spell on Aevin for 7 HP. Keyar snipes a fleeing yeoman, dropping him. The yeoman sergeant snarls and says “I’ll die fighting, rebel scum!” He attacks twice, rolling 9 and 21, hitting Vognur for 8 HP. 

Aevin moves over to Sir Varius to tie him up as he bleeds out; Sir Varius survives another death check. One more and he stabilizes. 

Vognur swings and misses. The yeomen flee for their lives. The horse bolts away, and Sir Colin fails a death check, his first one. Mark Bludiell misses badly again, despite Sacred Weapon. 

Mark has not done a single effective thing the entire fight; Keyar drills the final yeoman, who is slain.

Yeoman Sergeant draws a shortsword and attacks with two weapons, hitting with the shortsword for 4 HP.

Vognur finally connects, much to his player’s relief, doing 9 HP.  Sir Colin passes a death check, so he’s not out yet. Mark Bludiell finally connects, doing 11 HP, plus 3 HP for Divine Smite, which is so puny he takes Veritas’ name in vain. Come, on, really? Nothing is going well for Mr Paladin today.

Mr. Yeoman Sergeant misses three times with two longsword attacks and another shortsword attack. Keyar makes a Medicine roll for Colin thanks to a Bless ability. Sir Varius misses another death check. 

Mark actually hits again, and does 13 HP of damage, again most of it’s due to spending a spell slot for more juice.

Carmina plays horse whisperer, rolls 20 on Animal Handling thanks to Guidance, and calms a fleeing angry warhorse. Go him.

Keyar hits the sergeant with an arrow in the throat, and he finally goes down. He yanks the arrow out of Varius’ throat, which kills him. 

Mark stabilizes the yeoman sergeant for later interrogation. 

We loot the bodies, finding 100d on Sir Varius; another 50d on Sir Colin. Sir Colin’s armor is actually worth something – his full panoply and the warhorse is worth about 4,000d. Not bad. The carts hold 1,000d worth of supplies, which we can take back to Phandalin. Plus a pair of mules.

That just about makes up for the diamond dust we spent on exploding runes.

We get a short rest in, and Sidwin comes walking up the road from the South. He was supposed to be in Tain. 

We head to Phandalin, it’ll take us about two hours to cover the 4.5 miles to the town. Keyar goes to scout out Lervin to see what was going on there, why no one came to see the fight, nor the explosion. Sidwin was delayed in his journey to Tain when he had to fight off some ghouls, losing his henchman but saving some commoners in the process.

He did find a courier’s sash, though, as well as an iron rod, with a dragon’s claw holding a broken glass orb. We hand it over to Keyar; we inspect it, and it was clearly once magical. But the real treasure was the courier sash, which came from a fresher body; the orb came from a skeleton. Wands in that style were used by elven mages involved in creating magic items. You are not sure exactly; it’s definitely not a traditional wand. Maybe it’s a focus for creation, control, or focus. It’s definitely from 400-1,000 years ago.

We arrive in Phandalin between 3-5pm. We see the barricade manned by two militia. We introduce ourselves, and while being cheered for our victory, we head back and incarcerate Sir Colin and his Sergeant at arms. 

We take a Long Rest, and chain up the Sergeant and Sir Colin. 

Sir Colin eventually wakes with a grunt, spitting out some half-congealed blood. “Nice bit of spell work; only way you would have taken me down. You’re lucky we had a pretty little lady to cast these spells for you.”

We ask if Sir Colin is willing to give us his parole, as a properly captured knight. He says he can’t speak, he says. 

Yeah, right.

“Hrmph. You’re smarter than you look. Your best bet is to kill me here where I stand. I’d never give my parole to scum like you.”

Mark asks about the priest captured and tortured back in Highgarden. Last time Sir Colin saw him he was just blubbering. 

Markbludiell slams a sword through his chest, ending the life of a brutal, evil thug (he asked Vertias first. Sir Colin was the very definition of evil). 

Sidwin shakes his head, walks out of the building, and keeps walking. Night falls as Sidwin heads for Tain.


That’s the session. 

“The only bad time to cast explosive runes is inside a room of less than 20′ radius.”

We chat for a bit, trying to figure the next move.

OK, we jump right back in, waking up in Phandelver with the town still intact, and us heading out to Tain via Highgarden Manor. We look to see if we could bring a few fast riders, that we could dispatch in case we need to send a “LOOK OUT, VIOLENCE” warning back to Phandelver. We look around, and there are no horses, let alone fast horses, to be found anywhere. Only mules, oxen, and other mining-friendly beasts. We decide on runners instead, and Devan and Tomas step up. One of them brags he brought a midwife to town – there and back – in the time it usually takes to get just there.

He’s hired.

We head out to Highgarden Manor, crossing a ridge along the way. As we crest the ridge, we see a knight and a couple spearmen. We decide to approach. Mark’ s a more “Hey, diddle diddle, straight up the middle” type. Keyar Nailo, our resident elven ranger, sneaks through the underbrush, while the rest of us approach openly.

We get to about 500yds away before we’re noticed. They stop abruptly, then ride closer, readying weapons cautiously. They take out weapons. So do we. Mark reminds Tomas and Devan, our “spear-carrier” messengers, that their job is to carry messages, not fight.

We are challenged by a knight – not Sir Varius – who demands that our Elder of Mitra surrender her weapons, as the Mitrans are unlawfully in rebellion against the overlord.

Hmm. Well, that’s true, but we’re not giving up weapons for nothing. Carmina tried Hold Person, but our foe resists easily, recognizes that an attempt to bewitch was made, and orders an attack.

Our ranger misses with a surprise bow shot (grar!), while Aevin steelhand crits with a crossbow shot and nails him for 8 HP. Carmina herself casts Sacred Fire, and our target fails his saving throw, taking another 9 HP. 

The knight delivers two blows to Carmina, hitting with one of the blows for 14 HP. So if he’s a fighter, he’s level 5 or higher. So this guy could easily have 40 HP or so. Keyar fires again. Mark steps up, using Sacred Weapon to add his CHA bonus to his strikes attack rolls, and spends a spell slot to increase damage. He barely hits rolling 15+4, and does 16 HP total, badly injuring him. Aevin hits again for 8 HP, and the knight falls to the ground.

Now it’s just the two Yeomen, one seems likely to run, but the other calls out “We must save Sir Melius!” and hey stand firm. One hits Aevin Steelhand for 9 HP, which ain’t bad for him.

The horse (!) is a tough foe as it is; it goes into a blood frenzy, but stumbles (critical miss). 

Carmina casts Spare the Dying on Sir Melius; we have no wish to see him dead, we just aren’t going to be giving up our arms to anyone.

Mark casts Command: “SURRENDER!” at DC 14, and the final yeoman surrenders, and drops his weapons. Aevin tries to use Athletics to grab the reins of the horse. Naturally, he crits, rolling 26. He tugs it down, and the horse stands trembling, quieted.

Aevin passes the reins to Mark, who makes a nice Animal Handling roll (he’s got skill in it) to pacify and hobble the horse. We set to work making our foes safe.

The ransom of arms and armor of a defeated foe is part of the social structure. What we know about this guy is that he’s a horse barbarian. Full of honor, pride, and duty – but with more “modern” gear and a really nice horse. Fully trained warhorse.

His holy symbol is that of the Lars; a traditionalist. He’s not a threat from that perspective. He is a full supporter of the Overlord, and Phandelver is not normally part of his responsibility. 

We wake him up, restoring 10 HP via Lay on Hands. He wakes and gives his ransom amount (500sp), and being told his men are alive, gives the parole for the bunch of them. “I’m in your power, maiden,” he sneers in a derogatory way. 

“I’d prefer to be addressed as Elder,” Carmina says gently. “You may not believe this, but I have no quarrel with you. I was reacting to the injustice of your demands.”

“I didn’t seek it either, but you won, so I have no choice but to ransom myself, my arms, and my horse.”

Mark grills Sir Melius a bit, and says he was just out and about patrolling his land after some messengers from the Church of Mitra caused a rebellion on his lands. He’s heard that the regent has draconic support. He’d also been requested to join Sir Varius at Highgarden, but Melius thinks Varius is a twit, so he had better things to do.

We huddle up, to discuss.

We make Insight rolls, and know that we can leave horse and armor with the Temple of Mitra, in escrow. 1500sp to the Temple, in exchange for the parole and that’ll keep him off the playing field for a few weeks. 

We move on, and proceed on to Highgarden. Keyar will scope out the place, using a bit of subterfuge and looking like a wandering hunter. Which he is. He grabs some dead rabbits and goes to look around. As he gets closer to town, he draws curiosity but not alarm.

In front of the main manor, Keyar sees weapons, arrows, arms, and provisions being stacked in wagons in front of the main manor. In the center of the area, to the west of the center of town, is a burning or burned temple of Mitra. There is weapons practice going on, loudly, near the town center as well. There are 36 4″ turtle shells tied up in an odd bundle in front of the tavern. 

In the manner of one transacting business, Keyar asks to sell the rabbits. A garrulous trader want to buy, and tells him that the Mitrans have truly overthrown the City State. The Dracolindes will save them all, kegs of mead, happy times are hear again, etc.

About fifteen minutes after that, Various chased him out of the village; he returned without killing the guy, then burned out the temple. 

They keep transacting, and chatting, and Keyar provisions himself up. Varius is offering a silver a day to go beat up Phandelver.

Because the Phandelver guys are raising an army to attack the Sheriff of Tain.

Sir Colin brought his troops over the other night; he’s the guy to talk to, but he’s a hard man. Fair, but hard. The magistrate is on his way to Tain with the miners. The troops planned to leave at noon, but that won’t happen. They’ll be leaving this afternoon at the latest, though. There’s about a dozen fighters, two knights. Mitra go with you. And Keyar has concluded a spectacular recon foray.

We write the messages and intel out, and immediately dispatch our two runners back to Phandelver. It’s about 2 hours walking, 4-6 by wagon.

Oh, and as the missing priest of Mitra is mentioned, the area next to the manor is darkened by the hand of Veritas. Evil has been committed within. Markbludiell starts to get all twitchy; he really wants to get into the manor house, and bring out either the body of the priest, or his healed and talkative self. Plus any records that might be in the place.

We decide, though, that the two knights are primary. They’re the fulcrum on which a lot of pain may arise; stopping them 


We break there. We all get 200XP for gaming, and we give 100XP to +Daniel McEntee as MVP. +Ken H , +Joshua Macy +Chris C. , +Peter V. Dell’Orto +Rob Conley 

We start out having breakfast at an inn. +Peter V. Dell’Orto joins us playing an Elder of Mitra.

I believe the conversation begins trying to mitigate an uprising and prevent a war, or at least a slaughter, should actual troops come to put down the threat to the economic center that is Phandelver.

Carmina proposes confronting Halia and getting us to tell us what’s the deal with the list of people that she’s paying off that seems to be separate from her whole operation of purchasing fugitives to sell to the CityState as slaves.

That whole slave operation is a direct betrayal of her superiors, right up to the Invincible Overlord himself. Even if the Mitran revolution gets reversed, she’s in deep trouble there. That’s not kosher no matter who’s in charge.

I do a quick check on what the lay of the land is. Phandalin is kind of a nothing town. But the money from the mine has been shut off, and that will be noticed. We probably have a month at the near end, and three at the most, before the Big Dogs notice. Even before that, the local foes of Phandalin may show up to remind the townsfolk that they are, in fact, messing with the source of coin in the local region. The mine supplies the coin, which is used to buy food and other items from the surrounds. No mine, no economy.

An arrogant merchant comes in and starts insulting everyone. Not recognizing a Paladin of Veritas, she mouths off a bit. Mark stands up and calls divine light, rolling Intimidation at an advantage, hitting a 22, and she beats a hasty and chastened retreat. Mission accomplished.

We do a politics overview. The regents are led by the Myrmidon of Set. City State has been taken over by the forces of Mitra. The church of Mitra is present in the neighboring country of Modron, who had paid to finance a future rebellion. The Principality of Modron is a Ghinorian Successor Realm dominated by the Church of Mitra but is not a theocracy but the church of Tain.

Markbludiell speculates that the rumor of uprising in City State was planted. The inflammation caused the uprising (the casus belli) and the shutdown of the money from the mines provides the reason to actually care.

We discuss threats and eventualites and politics – and a young man bursts into the room shouting that the Redbrands (?) are back, and are under the inn. This seems to have been a feature of a previous campaign. 

Apparently “Carp” is in trouble. Little Timmy has fallen into the well, more or less. Rob pulls the ‘if conversation goes on too long, have ninjas kick in the door’

We pile into the area under the Inn, which can only be called a dungeon.

We advance, and eventually see a mage, four thugs, and Carp. The mage says “describe them again, starting from the top.”

Poor Carp starts spilling his guts. About the members of our party that he knows about. In great detail.

Sidwin the Sharp takes careful aim (“Hit him in the hit points!” says +Peter V. Dell’Orto), and rolls a 23 (and a 19! ” +Tim Shorts are you OK? Neither of those was a 1!”). The sneak attack strikes home and he hits for 15 HP total. 

Now for initiative, and Markbludiell rolls a 2. Gah. I am become Tim, roller of 1s. Look upon my order, ye mighty, and laugh maniacally. Sigh.

Carmina closes the distance to the northeast door. The mage then turns around and casts a Web spell at Sidwin. Web is good at preventing closing the distance, but doesn’t prevent a guy with a ranged weapon from peppering you with arrows. Vognur moves, sees the web, says “Aw, Crap!” and tries to start hacking through the web, not wishing to set the web on fire with Sidwin in it.

The thugs all shoot crossbows at Sidwin, two of which hit for 15 HP of damage. 

We discuss making the Shield spell +2d4 to AC instead of a flat +5 to make it less deterministic if it’s worth casting.

Markbludiell moves to the doorway as well, but cannot see a foe. Carmina charges to the south entrance, which she remembers comes around the back of the bad guys, though a 10′ pit must be crossed to get to them. 

Lamar burns away a section of web. 

The mage casts magic missile at Sidwin; he reacts with a shield spell. “You’ll have to do better than that!” and rolls an Intimidation check with DC 15 – he rolls 19 and nails it. They are intimidated.

Alb Irex moves forward and goes for another interaction – “Give up, and we’l spare your lives!”  We all laugh, so at least we aren’t intimidated.

Sidwin comes up and gets in an action, but then gets pasted for another 15HP. He’s down 30 HP, so this is bad news for him. 

We are having real issues with the web, and that’s when, of course, the mage throws a fireball down the corridor. 

“How many HP do you have left?” “Not enough to survive a fireball from a 7th level (or so) mage, likely”

Sidwin rolls a crit, and the door slams shut. The web burns away. And Carp, poor kid, turns into a crispy critter, screaming as he burns. Those that saved take 1/4 damage, those that don’t take half damage, thanks to the quick reaction/critical from Sidwin.

Vognur charges in “You killed Carp; he was just a boy!” but doesn’t get to attack. Alb Irex charges in, and casts a healing spell, healing him completely by the power of Mitra.

Sidwin charges forward, jumps on the mage with the neck, and gives him a little stabby stabby in the neck neck, to quote the player.

He also rolls an intimidation roll and nails it. The thugs are mostly cowering, but some are still active.

Markbludiell rolls in and protects the priest of Mitra and now-healed but still fallen child. It’s what he does.

Carmina rolls some flaming flaminess. “I’ll see your pokey stabbiness, and raise you flamy flaminess! It’s a third level burn!”

We basically finish the mage off. “That’s for Carp!” 

“Um, he’s alive!” “Tim doesn’t know that.”

There is still fighting to the south, with a bunch of bad guys peppering Carmina with crossbow bolts, so Markbludiell dashes forward, leaps a pit, and tries to close with the bad guys. Sidwin also jumps the pit and advances to the fray.

Tim runs forward and has cast Disguise Person on himself; he impersonates the mage and tells the remaining thugs that their cause is lost. They throw down their weapons, and we come forward, and Sidwin drops his disguise. 

We have six captured thugs and one dead mage. We loot ’em all, scoring a magic wand that shoots Web spells, 660d in coin, and a letter. We also find a blacked silver dragonhead token. It’s a sign of Pan Caulderax – she is a dragon. An actual, no-crap dragon that lives in Warwick, north of here. She’s been wanting to infringe on City State territories. 

My divine intuition tells me that this is one of the prime movers in my holy calling. Not the revolution, but the currents being stirred by the dragon.
We interrogate the prisoners. Mori is a green dragon, living south of us, in Dearthwood. Maud is, perhaps, “some girl,” so say the thugs. They also mention a Vermian. And being killed by Herone (?) since they failed. They need to tell Vermian it’s time to come home. 
They did visit the Glasstaff. Oh, and Vermian is Mori’s offspring. The dragon in Thundertree sounds like a young dragon.
Pan Caulderax is well known to the elves. The Silverwood, home of the elves, was taken out by an army of orcs led by that dragon. That army also took out the dwaven stronghold of the Majestic Fastness, which is rumored to be the dragon’s lair to this day.
Herone is a merchant in Tain – just north of here.
Markbludiell prays for guidance; the gods cannot or do not take a side in that matter. 
Intervening in the workings of the locak bad-guy Knight (Sir Varius of Highgarden Manor) is within the realm of human choice. Other pertinent detail: There is probably a dozen other manors between Vallon and Phandelver each with a knight and 2 to 4 yeoman. But their allegiance is fragmented; they might break any direction. Set, Mitra, pro-overlord, the Lars (ancestor worship), etc. 
We do a lot of discussion. There’s a dearth of information. We don’t know whether the Knight of Highgarden Manor is about to mount an attack on Phandelver, or not. We don’t really know if the Regency has really been overthrown by Mitra (we suspect “hell no.”) We do know that the dragon Pan Caulderax is at the center of one of the major plot stirrings. We also suspect that Sir Varius isn’t bright/motivated enough to attack without being poked in that direction.
We decide to head through Highgarden and then on to Tain, looking for mobilization. Sidwin (Tim will be absent next monday) will go ahead to Tain, paving the way for a later visit. We can intervene in Highgarden if bad stuff is happening there. If not, onward to Tain to get info on whether the political situation that motivated the revolt in Phandelver was underpinned by a real upheaval in the capital, or not.
We end there, having spent but a day in-game. We will execute the plan next game time.

In yesterday’s post on +Rob Conley‘s Majestic Wilderness D&D Campaign, I noted the difficulty of keeping all of everything straight.

Part of that was trying to integrate the map and geography, the PCs themselves, getting a feel for my own character, as well as being dropped in the middle of things. Ready? OneTwoThreeFIGHT!

But the more I think about it, the more I think that what I described as a relationship map is a really good idea for this. +Christian Blouin did something like this for factions in his Middle-Earth-based campaign, with the dwarves of Moria (I think) interaction as factions, clans, etc.

There’d be a couple of ways to get this done, but for what Rob has exposed us to thus far, I think what we need is probably a two-method map to start. Probably something like the example to the right, which is based on a business, but modified. The blue boxes would be factions. Right now I think we have Mitra, Set, the Draco-lindes (?), and whomever is opposing the Draco-lindes. Some of those factions, I think, overlap to some extent, such that I believe the Draco-lindes faction is allied or part of the Mitra faction – or else they’re behaving that way.

Within each box would go characters. So Halia, the disliked priestess of Set, goes in the “Set” box, and would have interactions, generally poor, with other characters.

That means we need an axis for interpersonal relationships as well. Something like the second example.

This uses colors to describe 12 kinds of interactions, from “had sex with” to “dating/dated” to loves and hates. That’s probably too much for initial needs for the MW campaign, but at least an “opposed/allied/neutral” demarkation would be useful. Combined with the right kind of hierarchy, and you could get close to the board from Chuck, or the Murder Board from Castle. Either are giving the same basic information – what are the connections between the “players” in the scheme.

Now, none of this tells WHY or WHAT people are doing just yet; that might be sub-factions within each one. That would turn the blue boxes above into a Venn diagram.

Each player could join one or more factions within factions easily. Sure, Bogia the priest is interested in spreading the Peace of Mitra across the land, but he’s not willing to use violence to do it. On the other hand, Myxkill the Faux Paladin might agree that the Peace of Mitra needs spreading, but anyone that isn’t properly spread needs to die, alas for them.

I’m sure I could start with something like XMind, though perhaps Realmworks has better tools, having been conceived around this type of thing anyway.

Ultimately, though, from both a GM and player perspective, some sort of relationship map seems very important for keeping this sort of faction-based play straight in the heads of the people who are moving our paper men around the world.