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I was so disappointed that the gods were not fair and took away my magic that I have not written in a fyew days.

I see Hakam praying to his god, Anachtyr, every morning, and Belvin prays to Thard Har each morning also. I think that Leokas prays at different times each day that seem to shift by about 45 minutes later each day. I tried to pray to the Maker this morning, since 2 out of 3 of the others pray then, asking him to give me magic back, but I still cannot make anything jump. Is the Maker not powerful enuff? Is the goddess of magic more powerful than he is? I heard the others say that she took away his magic, so he must not be as powerful as she is. How ever, they say that he found a way to get his magic back, a bad way, so maybe he is stronger than she thinks that he is. Why is the way that he got his magic back a bad way? I think that it was bad for them to take away his magic. Why should he not be able to take his magic back from them if they were not fair?

Maybe he did not answer me because he is too far away. How far away is Anachtyr or Thard Har or Solonor? Did the goddess of magic have to be very close to me to take my magic away? Did she sneek in when I was sleeping? Father used to talk to the Maker in person, underneeth the meeting house. The Maker was a face of fire, but the others say that that was just a disgize. Why did the Maker disgize himself? Why does Hakam not need to go to pray underneeth a meeting house? If the Maker did give me magic, would it be bad magic? Would I become bad? I want to be good, like Solisar. I do not want to be bad like a goblin.

Why are goblins bad? The others left me on the flying ship again. When they came back the first time, some of them were hurt and bloody, but they have magic that can make them better. They were attaked by more dead things. Dead things that attak are definitly bad, because dead things should stay dead, because that is what the good gods want. This is what Hakam says.

When they came back the second time, they had big hayry goblins with them or hobgoblins. I lissened to these hobgoblins, and they did not sound bad. They answered all the questions and did not fight. Why does Leokas say that all goblins and hobgoblins are bad? If all hobgoblins are bad, why did they let them go and not make them dead?

When they came back the third time, Kytharrah's fur was falling out. I am worried about him, but Hakam says that he will be fixed soon.

I have many questions. This journal seems to be a book of questions, even though I wrote earlier that I wanted it to be a book of recordings of what has happened.

I just wrote 2 things that happened. One more thing is that they fawt a very very bad hobgoblin with wings and horns. They said that that made him very very bad and not just bad. Kytharrah has horns, and he is good. I do not think that he would be more good if his horns were cut off.

I have many things about good and bad to think about. I will stop writing now.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Wednesday, Jan 24 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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A Record of the Adventures of the Great Prospector and Illusionist Stumblesparkle, Back Cover
On the Manner of Arriving Safely and Accurately at the Spinning Keep

~ Head due west by south four and one half hours from the ruins of Dashadjen. Reach triad of sand columns with tallest ten yards high.

~ Head due south by east ten and one quarter hours. Reach wide crater some 200 yards wide.

~ From south southwest edge of crater, head due southwest one hour to reach dried creek.

~ Follow creek southerly two hours until it curves sharply north and then south again.

~ From southwest by west edge of curve, head due south by west one and three quarter hours to pile of large boulders three yards high and four yards wide at thickest.

~ Head toward the second to the easternmost hill of four hills visible in the southern horizon as a cluster.

~ Summit the hill.

~ The Spinning Keep is located due south southeast from the summit, barely visible as a pearly flicker of light.

[The directions include an accompanying map.]
Session: 100th Game Session! - Wednesday, Jan 24 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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A Record of the Adventures of the Great Prospector and Illusionist Stumblesparkle, Chapter 18
On the morning of the seventh of Mirtul, the Year of Nightsilver, Stumblesparkle, the great prospector, woke up, performed her morning exercises, and began her day's adventure. The following account is most true and accurate.

For breakfast, she ate raisins and pears and a bit of cheese.

The day had at last come. She stripped off her garments and firstly cast a spell to make herself invisible. Next, she opened her eyes to see the true form of things. Finally, she cast a spell to grant her the power of flight. Up to the top of the dodecahedron she flew.

After several hours of miscellaneous manipulations and careful specialized spellcasting, she succeeded in unlocking the "door". The door did not open so much as she found herself falling through one of the twelve sides of the keep. There she was, floating peacefully in nothing but the skin in which she was born. Thankfully, she was also invisible.

She shivered from the bitter cold, another downside of the lack of clothing. The air was moist and humid. The cold seemed to be coming from the... "crystal".

There it was, at the center of the dodecahedral chamber, a grotesque, writhing, wriggling mash of silently screaming genie faces, morphing in and out of each other.

The great prospector, despite her usual bravery, nearly lost her raisins, pears, and bit of cheese.

On the other hand, she felt a strange surge of power, as if her tiny, delicate muscles were rippling with strength.

The genies did not seem to be happy all squished together like this.

The walls of the chamber were covered in sharp blades and razors. Thankfully, the great prospector continued to float. There was no gravity there.

She had to avoid an arc of positive energy that shot from the writhing "crystal" to one of the walls and did so with great finesse. The narrator can confirm this with all honesty. It in no way struck her on the backside. Had it done so, she might have found that the scratch that she had on her knee from the previous day's adventure had been supernaturally repaired.

A few seconds later, and there was another spark. This one was the color of negative energy. She avoided it as well. Time passed and with it came another negative arc. This one struck the baelnorn.

The narrator forgot to mention that the elven lich sitteth, or rather floateth, placidly in the space above the wriggling mush of faces. In the present case, his eyes remained closed, meditating on his boredom, most likely, seemingly oblivious to being shocked with a red-colored bolt of undead-awakening power.

The lich kept boring company in his boring chamber, a pack of boring air elementals, who were quite dull in their behaviors or lack of them.

Then the melancholy lich opened his slanted eyes and wiggled his pointed ears and looked like he had just seen a stranger in a disrobed state.

It was then that the great prospector realized that her first spell had faded. She quickly covered her modesty and smiled sheepishly at the millennia-old tel-quessir, who, it is noted, did not appear amused.

Now the dull, boring air elementals suddenly seemed excited and very un-bored, and began spinning into little whirlwinds. The narrator suspecteth that they wanted to blow and bash and break the tiny, fragile protagonist against the razor walls. How hospitable!

Her second spell had also faded by now, of course, which meant that the great prospector now saw a large diamond where once the genie-faced horror floated. (The prospector counted some 30 facets on two sides, before contemplating that counting faces on an illusory diamond was not the wisest choice of action when a dozen whirlwinds and an angry baelnorn were about to annihilate her.) Though it was utter darkness in the chamber otherwise, the crystal shone with its own light, as if reflecting the sun.

As the narrator hath already described, the prospector had pondered the wisdom of counting instead of fleeing, and as it so happened, the power that she felt seemingly extended to more than just her little gnomish muscles. In the next moment, just before the first creature of air flew against her, she wished to be absent from her present company and found herself in Pandesmos without any equipment or clothing.

Apparently, she could now plane shift. Fascinating.

Perhaps, she pondered, she should have planned her exit strategy a bit better than she had.

For dinner, the great prospector used her new, fading genie powers to create raisins, pears, and a bit of cheese, items that she fancied, if it hath not already been noticed.

The narrator will describe the adventure of how Stumblesparkle simultaneously returns to the Material Plane and manages to conserve her modesty in the next exciting chapter.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Wednesday, Jan 24 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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The Arrival: Legacy
Session 36: Murder, Mushrooms, and Mayonnaise
The session opened with the party traveling north through the streets of Yalba, unsure of their next steps in the aftermath of Teoshi’s al-Surai’s demise. On their way towards the Sultan’s Palace, they noticed a conclave of guards gathered at the Athenaeum. According to Raha al-Kharii and Nurata, who were overseeing the apparent crime scene within, a break-in had occurred the night of the ball. The two librarians who were tasked with guarding the quarters of Racha’s gynosphinx had been killed! The party decided to lend their preternatural abilities to ascertain what had occurred at the Athenaeum before dealing with the owlbear in the room: the fact that the F.I.A was still not in agreement about their next steps.

With the hesitant approval of Sekmet al-Id, the F.I.A was allowed temporary access to the hallway that led to the divine gynosphinx. Before entering the darkened chamber, Midzaynov used her Headband of Thoughts to scan the mind of Nurata, who was also examining the crime scene. Midzaynov picked up on a few errant thoughts as she was speaking to the party: “Contact,” “Network,” “Investigation,” “Conspiracy,” and “The Weavers.” The party also learned that Nurata was not a member of The Hellraisers, although she was closely affiliated with them. Entering the chamber, Wykeera found that both humanoid footprints and an irregular, amorphous shape had made its way through the ancient dust and gravel that lined the chamber’s floor. Deductible deduced that the large, winding shape was consistent with the tracks of a massive snake. The tracks revealed that whatever creatures had entered the gynosphinx’s chambers had also left it.

Examining the guards, the party determined that their cause of death was most likely a series of deep cuts on their torsos. Wykeera deduced that the cuts were made by a bladed weapon from an especially high vantage point. The librarians were close to their posts at the time of their deaths, meaning that whatever killed them was able to get close without alerting suspicion. Examining the floor next to the winding double staircase that led to the gynosphinx’s chambers, Thane found a translucent pliable convex object with an emerald-colored center about the size of his thumb. It was a contact lens - a rare object usually coveted by elites who can afford such a commodity. The party recalled the only individual that they knew who had emerald eyes: Sisava al-Surai. At the moment, however, there appeared to be no concrete evidence to link her to the crime.

As the party geared up to leave the Athenaeum, their investigation completed for the moment, Hagar pulled Raha aside. He informed her that their party was soon leaving for the Feywild, and offered to stay behind in Yalba and help to rebuild the city in the meantime. Raha nodded slowly, pulled Zari away from the rest of the party, and asked her when she was planning to tell her best friend that she was leaving for an epic adventure on another plane of existence. They caught up in the brief time they had, and Raha informed Zari that Makaria would act as her retainer for the immediate future. The two had a tearful farewell that was in no way interrupted by Thane. The F.I.A had officially decided on their next step: they would enter the Feywild to answer the Queen of Air and Darkness' invitation. Hagar would stay behind in the interim to nurture the growth of the Yalban Parliament, build the FIAting Pit, and reinforce the strength of his network of contacts.

The F.I.A began to prepare for their extraplanar journey. Zari decided that she should tell her friends and loved ones that she was leaving Yalba for the foreseeable future, and casually informed the party that she had slept with Zaeshir. When Zari visited her home temple to tell her family of her impending adventure, she found Rashad speaking to her mother in the main foyer. Her on-again off-again romantic partner was wearing ... ceremonial robes of Kielel!? Zari immediately broke out in a cold sweat. She was here to unofficially break things off between them, but was he about to … propose? No. He couldn’t be. He wouldn’t. They hadn’t even talked about it, why would he -

And then he dropped to one knee.

Zari just about had a heart attack before she realized that her tiefling companion had simply dropped a ceremonial bangle and had knelt down to pick it up. The shell-shocked cleric let her heart rate slowly fall as Tulsi explained that Rashad planned to help out around the Temple of Kielel for the time being, seemingly anticipating her daughter’s growing sense of wanderlust. Before she departed, Tulsi reiterated the situation with her siblings. Twenty years ago, when Zari was too young to remember, Tulsi decided to scatter her children to the corners of the earth in a desperate bid to keep them safe from Urilesh. Tulsi had taken Zari’s magic potential as a child as a sign that Kielel had a special plan for her, and kept her under her watch Yalba. When several years had passed and the Miszas thought that the threat of Urilesh was behind them, they had Hamza. Tulsi explained that she gave each sibling’s caretaker an amulet, and instructed them to never let the child be without it. With one amulet, another amulet could be found - that way, even though Tulsi would not know her children’s whereabouts, they could perhaps find each other one day when the danger had permanently left them.

As Zari was leaving, she found a strangely beautiful tiefling man closely examining the Temple of Kielel. The mystical figure introduced himself as Zaric, an emissary from the Queen of Air and Darkness who had been sent to ensure that the F.I.A reach their destination of the Winter Court safe and sound. Zaric had an airy, otherworldly quality about him. He had traveled to Yalba with the aid of a former enemy - Raam the jackalwere! The three of them made introductions and caught up. Meanwhile, Hagar visited Belet again, and Midi gave him 10 platinum to give to the beleaguered tiefling. As Midzaynov was wishing Quespa farewell, she told her to not steal from people unless they were bad, and promised to take her to Kelkenheim one day. Thane gave Atka spending some spending money to live off of while they were away. The party bought supplies in the form of rations and spell material components, bade a temporary farewell to Hagar, and head to the River Room within the Yalban Catacombs to begin the next chapter in their journey. Utilizing the fish scale that Meekroot had given Wykeera, the F.I.A passed through the azure glow of the recently-restored Fey Crossing by immersing themselves in the river’s currents. When the F.I.A broke the surface of the water once more, they had emerged in another world.

This realm, known as the Feydark, was brightly-colored, otherworldly, and filled to the brim with magic. Thane made the decision to travel in his changeling form for the time being. As Lyndra emerged from the Fey Crossing, a new form was revealed. Citing a phenomenon known as “Planar Vitality,” Lyndra revealed that her humanoid-sized form was due to her re-emergence into her home plane. She explained that there are certain creatures in Aldion who have a unique connection to one of the planes of existence. For those creatures, a return to their connected plane can lead to a resurgence of vitality; by the same token, being separated from their plane for long periods of time can lead to their gradual enervation.

As the F.I.A traveled through subterranean tunnels, neon-hued mushrooms gave electrum coins as thanks for interacting with them. The party traveled through winding passageways and past flora-covered rocks until they came across a wide cavern full of bipedal mushroom-like beings. The party consented to the apparent wishes of these mute, ambulatory mushroom creatures and were herded towards the center of their settlement. Glowing spores shot from the caps of these myconids, allowing for a psychic form of communication between the two groups. Between immense, moss-covered stones, a towering myconid made their presence known. This myconid sovereign introduced himself as Bulon, and welcomed the F.I.A to Penumbra Grove. The party made note of several elven spore servants - fallen beings who were found in the underdark and reanimated by the myconids to serve as temporary labor.

The F.I.A was informed that because they entered the myconids’ domain peacefully, they would be allowed passage through their home. Upon hearing of the F.I.A’s goals, Bulon offered them an escort out of the Feydark in exchange for a favor: embarrassing a cyclops known as Grusktooth. The Feydark was full of cyclopes, but this one in particular apparently found great pleasure in dismembering the myconid scouts who left from Penumbra Grove to gather resources. The myconids were a peaceful race, so outright violence was out of the question. A bit of mischief, though … that was acceptable. The party was also warned of a race of giants known as fomorians - perceptive and hideous beings who had betrayed the fey queens in an age long past and now commanded the cyclopes of the Feydark. The party agreed to Bulon’s request, came up with a plan, and left Penumbra Grove to find Grusktooth.

The F.I.A successfully followed Bulon’s directions on their way to the cyclopes’ den, stealthed past humongous beetles that occupied the top of the massive cavern, and passed by a crevice in the cave wall that seemed to contain a campsite. The F.I.A created a very realistic-looking replica of a myconid using druidcraft and Wykeera’s basketweaving skills, and then filled it to the brim with four gallons of mayonnaise created from the Jug of Alchemy. The party used Zaric’s invisibility spell to sneak into Grusktooth’s den, which contained dozens of menacing one-eyed giants. The party found Grusktooth mouthing off to two other cyclopses in the main thoroughfare of their makeshift underground city, found a suitable hiding place beneath a large crack in the stone of one of their streets, and captured Grusktooth’s attention just enough for him to see the myconid replica. Grusktooh picked the myconid up with one massive hand, and began waving it around, indicating to all of the other cyclopes in the vicinity of his capture. Just as Grusktooth was about to crush the myconid in his hand, Zaric unleashed two eldritch blasts at the dummy! The myconid replica exploded, unleashing mayonnaise into the cyclops’ eye. The giant screamed, grabbed at its eye, and stumbled backwards … right into Midzaynov’s unseen servant. Grusktooth lost his balance and fell ass-first onto a lighting fixture, causing the roar of dozens of cyclopses’ laughter to shake the very foundation of the Feydark itself.

Unfortunately, there was one enemy that the party was not able to fool. Catching onto Zaric’s second eldritch blast, a formorian made its hideous presence known, stomping directly for the F.I.A’s hiding spot! The party turned invisible and ran before the giant could use his massive hand to upturn the small section of road that they managed to hide under, barely escaping their dire straits. The session ended as the party returned to Penumbra Grove, excited to tell their tale to the myconids ...
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The Wounded World
Players, Make Sure Your Characters Actually Want To Be Here
from Neal Litherland, Improved Initiative blog

I've been talking to the DMs a lot in my Monday posts of late, so I figured it was time to take a moment to address the players out there. Because there's a big trap that almost all of us fall into in our gaming careers, and it can ruin the game for the rest of the folks at the table... especially if more than one of you fell into it without even knowing it.

In short, a lot of us make characters who practically have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the adventure... and we should all take a moment to stop that.

Bandits, huh? Doesn't sound like my problem.

Apathetic Characters Make For Frustrated Storytellers

I mentioned this back in 5 Tips To Get The Most Out of Your Next LARP, and it was the tip that got the most love. As such, I figured it was worth repeating, and elaborating on, for the folks in back.

Do not make a recalcitrant character. Do not make an apathetic character. Do not make a character who is looking for absolutely any reason to abandon the party and go do their own thing. This is a cooperative game, and it works best if everyone there has a character they want to play, and that character wants to be part of this story.

Have sword, will travel.
It's true that part of this relies on the DM working with you to make sure your character fits into the game. However, you are responsible for the final form your character takes, the drives they possess, and the actions they end up taking. Which is why it's important to think about not just what would make them fun to play, and what their personal objectives and goals are, but about how they interact with the wider world.

Lastly, it's important for you to come up with reasons for them to get involved.

You Have To Want To Be Involved (Even If The PC Doesn't)

Despite the title of this post, and everything I just said, I will admit that sometimes you want to play the reluctant badass character. The old campaigner who laid their sword aside, the wizard who's just too busy to bother with all this adventuring nonsense, or the monk who's trying to learn deeper meanings of the world instead of brawling with bugbears.

I get it. This is literally one of my favorite archetypes as a player. However, what I will tell you from experience is that if you are going to bring this character to the game, then it is up to you as the player to come up with a reason they are getting involved in the plot rather than putting that burden on the DM.

A blind old woman rolled the bones? Good enough for me!
Take the example of the retired hardass. Sure, he's got the skills, but he hung up his sword when he came back from the war, and he wants to be just a simple farmer now. However, if you want to be involved in the game, you need to provide a reason that Aethor takes that wall hanger down from over the fireplace and hits the campaign trail again.

It could literally be anything you want it to be! For instance...

- He Cares About Another Party Member: Maybe the wizard is his nephew, or the bard is an old friend that he knows gets into trouble when he's not around. Whatever the reason, he's not letting them risk their lives without him to watch their back. He still doesn't care about the bandit lord, or the goblin horde, because those things aren't his prerogative, but he's fully invested.

- It's The Right Thing To Do: Paladins aren't the only ones with a strong code of ethics. If the town is looking for people to make a stand, whether it's against a necromancer defiling graves to build an undead army, or gnolls raiding a settlement and taking people as slaves, somebody has to put a stop to that. Rule 303; you've got the means and skills, so you've got the responsibility to do something about it.

- He Owes Someone a Favor: This is particularly true for scenarios that I mentioned in Did Your Character Have A Former Life? Maybe they don't want to leave the farm, the forge, or the tavern behind, but they've got a debt to pay. It might be an old friend they would have helped for the asking, or a grim, John Wick-style blood debt, but whatever it is should get them out the door and on the adventure path to clear their ledger.

- Someone Ordered Him To: This is, perhaps, the easiest form of motivation in the history of a storytelling; you go to do the thing because it's your job, and your problem. Whether you're the local priest, a militia sergeant, a town guard, a sheriff's deputy, or a hedge knight charged with patrolling the highways, whatever is going wrong is something you've been ordered to fix. And because you like your job, you go do the thing.

Those are just some of the most common instances I could suggest. However, the important thing to remember is that you need to be the one that provides this hook for your PC to get in on the action. This may require you to talk with the DM and hash out some quick ideas, but generally speaking anytime you're saving the person behind the screen the work of roping you in it's something they're going to appreciate.

You Are In Control of Your Character

One of the most frustrating things you can hear as a DM is the phrase, "My character wouldn't be interested in that." Any time you feel the urge to say this, stop, take a step back, and look at the situation from a different angle. Find a reason, even if it means you have to alter your character just a bit in order to smooth the way forward.

They took children, you said? I'm in.
Take Shadrick Vars, known to most as the Gray Man. He's a bad man to fool with, and it's said he won't so much as lift a finger unless there's a coin in it for him. Hardly the sort of character you'd expect to show up to help hunt down a set of kidnappers; especially if the bounty for them is hardly worth a day's work. But if you're the player at the controls, it's your job to ask why he's opted to take on this mostly altruistic task. Even (or especially) if it's out of character for him to do so.

Is it because Shadrick was taken from his parents at a young age, sold to a cartel boss and trained as an enforcer, and he wants to put that part of him to rest by helping this child? Does he know the family, perhaps suspecting they might actually be distant kin of his? Does he have a strict, "No spouses, no kids," rule, and he means to make an example of those who offend his sensibilities on his home turf? All of these are possible, and it wouldn't require changing the fundamental nature of the character. Each one of these reasons gets him out on the adventure, though, and give the character a compelling reason to see this arc through to the end.

The key thing is to take the initiative. Don't sit around waiting for the DM to give you personal attention to get you to come along, or for the rest of the table to ask pretty please; find a reason to set your character to the task, and get involved. Once you do that, the momentum builds, and everything gets a whole lot easier.
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