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Deadly Quests
1st Session - Summary
Player introductions were followed by a short speech on the history of Dungeons & Dragons.

  1. Player Introductions
  2. History of Dungeons & Dragons

  3. Dungeons & Dragons was born from a culture of miniature war-gaming. Before the creation of the role-playing game, gaming enthusiasts played games that re-created major historical conflicts using miniatures. Examples of such games were published by companies such as Avalon Hill and Guidon Games.

    The modern role-playing game was first created by Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, Don Kaye, and professor M. A. R. Barker. Each contributed greatly to the origination of role-playing.

    Professor M. A. R. Barker's creation of the concept of a fantasy war-game setting predates the creation of the role-playing game itself. He was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest where he studied culture and linguistics. Professor M. A. R. Barker's contribution to role playing was in his creation of T├ękumel, the first fantasy setting created for miniature war-games. He was the first to use miniature war-games to create a setting not based upon history but rather based upon imaginative speculation. He started down this road while in high school in the 1940s. His campaigns were war-games in a fantasy setting, there did not yet exist the concept of playing the role of individual characters. To get an idea of what these games were like you can view this YouTube Video. Note the lack of role-playing.

    The Tekumel Foundation preserves and expands upon these works.

    Around 1970 Gary Gygax formed the Lake Geneva Tactical Games Association which was a small group of friends that met in Gary's basement to play miniature war-games. From this group an idea was born; to adapt war-gaming rules which simulated realistic combat to a set of rules that allowed for medieval combat and spells. Jeff Perren presented the idea of adding rules for fantasy combat such as spell-casting to war-games. He and Gary Gygax codified the first set of rules for fantasy war-gaming, Chainmail, which was published by Guidon Games in 1971. Gary Gygax's ability to take abstract concepts and translate them in to a refined set of rules was his major contribution to role-playing games.

    Dave Arneson then came up with many of the concepts that we associate with modern role-playing games. In 1970 while playing with Gary Gygax's Chainmail, Dave Arneson created the second setting for fantasy war-games named Blackmoor. Over the next two years he came up with the idea that instead of controlling groups of miniature armies a player could control an individual miniature. That player would not be limited by a discrete list of options for combat but rather could use their imagination to simulate any situation. In so doing, the choices for player actions became limitless. One could play the role of any character that they so wished. He shared the rules that he had created with Gary Gygax and thus the collaboration on Dungeons & Dragons began.

    Gary Gygax started with Dave's ideas. He expanded and refined them in to a set of rules that could be published and sold as a game. In 1972 he created the fantasy role-playing setting of Greyhawk in order to play-test these rules. Gary greatly expanded upon the idea of the fantasy setting by creating a multitude of races, classes, spells and magical items. One of the first players in Greyhawk was Don Kaye. Don was a regular player of miniature war-games with Gary. They finished the rules and attempted to sell them to Guidon Games but were unable to do so.

    Not having enough funds to publish Dungeons & Dragons on his own, Gary Gygax partnered with Don Kaye and in late 1973 TSR was formed. The first version of D&D was published in 1974 and thus the modern role-playing game was born.


    Knowing the history of role-playing is important as it provides a window in to the game. From this viewpoint it is possible to see the convergence of medieval miniature war-games, fantasy, and role-playing. All of these concepts lead up to the creation of Dungeons & Dragons.

  4. Critical Role Excerpts

  5. We then watched the following parts of the show Critical Role.

    Episode 57 32:00 - 45:00 in which a few of the members return to visit Victor, the black-powder merchant. (to illustrate 1st person role-playing)

    Episode 83 0:36:00 - 0:45:00 - in which Vox Machina battles Raishan. (to illustrate combat mechanics)

    Episode 83 3:49:00 - 3:51:00 in which Patrick Rothfuss' characer Kerrek tries to console Keyleth. (to illustrate 3rd person role-playing)

  6. Discussion of the standard character sheet

  7. 6 Stats and how to calculate modifiers
    Saving Throws
    Hit Points
    Armor Class

  8. Introductory Session Part 1

  9. Murder on the Princess Ark.

    A group of fledgling sailors aboard the mighty airship, The Princess Ark, were recruited by virtue of alibi to investigate the murder of the Ambassador's wife. Lead by Rivven Cripplegate, the ship's botswain , to guest suite #8 the group learned that she had been murdered while on board. With the help of a dwarf cleric in guest suite #7 the group came to the conclusion that mystical forces were involved. This soon lead to the cabin of the magister, another guest on-board but not before the intrepid adventurers barraged a hapless gnome professor in guest suite #9. When confronted, the magister immediately attacked. After a lucky dagger throw to the throat, the magister fell unconscious and was near death. The murder weapon was found on his body and he was locked up in the brig.

Session: Campaign Logistics Planning - Friday, Apr 07 2017 from 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM
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Tyranny of Dragons
Session 44 (6 April 2017) Xonthal's Tower
Using the hourglass key, they are transported to a room that is clearly not in the tower, however, if it is below the tower or on another plane entirely is unclear.

In this room are three dead cultists and a blood trail leading to a room that contains a fire and two earth elementals. Speaking with these Magnus learns that they are here to destroy intruders and that Magnus & Co are intruders. The party then decides to get their retaliation in first.

The fire elemental is dispatched speedily by Krega but the earth elementals are more problematic as they use their Earth Glide ability to conceal themselves in the walls, floors and ceilings and strike from unexpected directions. Eventually, Ella banishes one of them and Rider holds the other and the fight comes to an end.

They then pass through a series of rooms that are clearly the laboratory, study and library of a wizard including a room with a portal to the City of Brass. Crossing a passageway hanging unsupported in a starry void, they narrowly avoid being struck by shooting stars.

In a hourglass shaped chamber containing two huge hourglasses the come upon the dead body the cultist Iskander and the Blue Dragon mask. They secure the mask and Ella raises Iskander, who is suitably grateful while still remaining an evil, despicable but disillusioned dragon cultist. He explains that Severns plan to bring Tiamat to the world would be a disaster for everyone and while he is a selfish, greedy pig with no concern for anyone but himself, Iskander knows that he falls within the group "everyone" and what is bad for "everyone" is bad for him.

The party takes a well needed short rest and bonds with the magic items they have found, Rider claiming the blue dragon mask. It's a fake! Rider is particularly peeved and wants to do something drastic and possibly terminal to Iskander. However, close questioning under magical interrogation confirms that the mask being a fake is just as much a surprise to Iskander as it is to the party. Rider sheathes his rapier mumbling under his breath about how he never gets andy magic items, consarn it!

They finish exploring this area by interacting with an imprisoned efreet named Tariz the Fair. In return for a promise that he will never harm them they Banish him back to his home plane Tariz cannot believe the bargain he got as he was willing to do anything to escape.
Session: Session 44 - Thursday, Apr 06 2017 from 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM
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Tags: Battle , Journal , Recap , Summary
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Tyranny of Dragons
Session 43 (30 March 2017) Xonthal's Tower
Having divined the meaning of the shadows, the party resolves the puzzle with only a minor misstep at 3 shadows and a slight delay at 8 until Rider gets an epiphany.

Reaching the base of the tower they discover that it is constructed without doors or windows, only a balcony high above and a teleportation circle on the ground before it. Stepping onto the circle they are transported to another circle within the tower in a large empty audience chamber with internal balconies above.

The teleportation circle they are standing on has strange symbols arranged in a control panel: a chair, two chairs, an upside-down "L", a rectangle, a flame, a star, a square, an hourglass and a right triangle. Ella immediately writes down where she thinks each of the symbols will take them, she is completely wrong but that has never deterred her in the past.

Some experimentation leads them to discover:
  • the chair: takes them to the audience chamber
  • two chairs: takes them to the balconies above the audience chamber. The left symbol to the left balcony, the right to the right.
  • the upside-down "L": a level of small rooms, currently used as barracks, where they kill a few cultists
  • the star: an observetory where they fight four mages. Rider is agressively disinterested in the battle and only deigns to help when Krega is held by a wizard's spell; returning to his inspection of the telescope as soon as that wizard is dead but before the battle is actually over. One of the wizards is carrying a key in the exact shape of the hourglass symbol on the teleporters.
Session: Session 43 - Thursday, Mar 30 2017 from 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM
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Tags: Journal , Recap , Summary
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Tyranny of Dragons
Session 42 (24 March 2017) Xonthal's Tower
The party arrives at Xonthal's Tower (the village) to discover that Xonthal's Tower (the tower) is within a magical maze. Residents tell them that the tower has long been deserted but over the last year or so there have been strange lights observed.

They also tell them that the only way into the tower is through the hedge maze. Aerial scouting shows that the maze appears to be a normal (if large) hedge maze but that it cannot be flown over. Upon entering the maze it soon becomes apparent that it is anything but normal.

Flying above the maze reveals that it extends indefinitely in all directions and that they only external landmarks, the sun and the tower, move unpredictably. Sometimes the sun is behind the tower and ahead the the right but after walking a few paces the sun is now to the left and the tower is behind to the right even though the direction of travel is unchanged.

Through trial and error , they discover that the key to the maze is a magical sundial. The first time they encounter it it has a single shadow pointing to one of the eight paths which they follow. This brings them back to the sundial (or maybe a different sundial) but now with 2 shadows pointing to paths 90 degrees apart.

Following these paths leads them to a chuul pool, a cyclops meadow, a deranged dao (that is deranged from the party's point of view - being a homicidal maniac is normal behaviour for a dao) and a courtyard of animated armour. In each they discover that they must locate a gemstone in order to return back to the sundial (or again, possibly another sundial) or else they simply return to the last place they visited and must find the gems again. The gems annoyingly disappear between the area they are found in and the sundial whenever they are not being watched: literally in the blink of an eye if necessary.

Finally, a Commune spell tells them to "split the shadows" (gnomish gods are so helpful). Pondering this, we leave them by the sundial.
Session: Session 42 - Thursday, Mar 23 2017 from 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM
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Tags: Journal , Recap , Summary
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Session Summary #1
The heroes were brought together by the gnomish merchant 'Rantin' and his orcish traveling companion 'Pwomp', whom had hired each of the heroes individually to accompany him on his travel to Elia from Prelice. Near the end of the trip, a strange occurrence happened in which all four hero's minds started to spin and race beyond reason. It began with their thoughts rushing by them too fast, and eventually turned into their thoughts not being their own. This caused a panic amongst the heroes, ending with them blurting out "AM I GOING CRAZY!", in a very strange and "perfect" unison. This was very surprising to Pwomp and Rantin, as these adventurers had not even said two words to anyone the whole trip. As embarrassing as this was for them, this ended up bringing the four heroes together, as such a strange occurrence should not go unstudied.

After arrival in Elia, one of the heroes heard that Elia has been experiencing some strange occurrences, and asked the rest of the party if they wished to investigate with him. Deciding it would be best to stick together after such a strange occurrence, the party made their way to the inn to seek out a man named Yorick Tergas, the sheriff of Elia.

Barely escaping getting kicked out of the inn after trying to swindle drinks from Ahja, the owner of the bar, they found that Yorick could be found in the town hall and set path towards it. Upon arrival, they saw Yorick engaged in conversation with a man, Onson Jalan, who was pleading to the sheriff for help to clean out his recently built manor that had been overrun by kobolds. Yorick was empathetic, but could not accept the request, as Elia did not have the men nor resources to attempt such a task. Seeing an opportunity to both help the town and make some gold, the party told Onson they would help him clear out the kobolds, and set forth to protect his manor on the outskirts of town.

On the way to the manor, the party came across some kobolds trying to set a pit trap to protect their newly gained 2 story manor, quite the home base for a group of kobolds! The party dispatched 3 of the vermin, but one, a winged kobold, escaped towards the manor. Entering the clearing to the manor, the party took a good look around, and decided to investigate a shed they found. Unfortunately for the heroes, the winged kobold had alerted the group of kobolds guarding the manor to their presence, inspiring the kobolds to use make-shift fortifications in attempt ambush the adventurers from inside the shed. After a long fight starting with the barbarian Xuruk bashing down the door, and ending with the No-Named druid obliterating 3 kobolds with a wave of thunder, the kobold guards were destroyed...though so was shed, and with it, everything inside.

With the manor in front of them, and a burnt down shed behind them, the party plots their next move. What awaits them inside the manor? Are there more kobolds that know of the presence? Will they burn down even more of the property they said protect from the kobolds? FIND OUT NEXT TIME ON D & D.
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