Sunday, November 8, 2015

OotA: Ep. 2: The Oozing Temple

Last week, me and my small current group found ourselves behind our coffee mugs yet again, ready to pick up our DnD action where we left it, two weeks ago. The group were in serious trouble, as two rivalling bands of demons had crashed the prison escape scene and started a minor air combat inside the large cave.

Jimjar, Deep Gnome Gambler
The drow captors were suddenly too busy to mind their prisoners, so the rather large group of prisoners decided to act, in the belief that this was the signal from the friendly drow who had let them out of their cage. They jumped down the waterfall and found themselves submerged in ice cold water. Soon afterward, a terrible shout echoed in their minds: ”Flesh for the Faceless Lord!”. It came from an Ooze, while it suddenly attacked Jimjar the scoundrel, by the shoreline.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

OotA: Ep. 1: Prisoners of the Drow

Deep Gnome Rogue
Between life, work and, recently, parenting, I've had to pause our main campaign, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, as I don't have the time to travel to my old and trusted RPG group. However, last thursday, me and two of my more local friends got together for some coffee, applecake and the latest DnD campaign. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Miniature Moment: Elementals and Cultists (part two)

To continue my painting challenge and stay true to my promise, I started work on the rest of the elementals and their cultists. There were only two elements left, and since we always double up on our painting services here on Sword Coast Junkie, there wasn't much choice this time. 

On to the minis!
A halfling rogue plays with fire deep inside the temple.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book review: Exile, by R.A. Salvatore

Let's continue our journey through the Underdark with the second part of the Legend of Drizzt series, Exile. This is the book that inspired Chris Perkins while he was writing Out of the Abyss, this season's large DnD campaign. In the foreword, he writes that the book reminds him of Alice in Wonderland. I, too, thought of Alice's adventures while reading Exile, but the read hardly inspired me. Frankly, I found this book quite dull.

My main problem with the story is that Drizzt wanders around the Underdark and things just happen to him. He's hunted by the drow (and a zombie version of his father) and while that may be incentive enough for anyone to move on, it just doesn't make for an interesting novel story. Salvatore throws in lots of encounters, and like Alice in Wonderland, each encounter seems to exist in a vacuum.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Miniature Moment: Elementals and Cultists (part one)

This summer I picked up a copy of Temple of Elemental Evil: the Board Game. It's a part in DnD:s Adventure System games and, so, it contained a lot of miniatures. I figured that even if the board game was bad (I hadn't played the series before) I could use the minis in my DnD campaigns and other adventures.

While reading Homeland by R.A. Salvatore (read the book review here), I got the urge to paint the Earth Elemental, after its appearance in the book. Before long I had also painted the Earth Cultists and carried on to the Air Elemental and cultists. It is now my ambition to paint every miniature in the box since it really makes the game come to life. DnD:s monster gallery wouldn't be the same if they were all the same green color, right?

Earth Elemental and Cultists

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Book review: Homeland, by R.A. Salvatore

It's time for a new feature on Sword Coast Junkie: a book review! I've read vast quantities of D&D-related printed media recently, so these columns will be the place where I gather my thoughts, summarize the plot elements and ultimately decide whether I recommend the book or not.

Homeland is the first book about D&D superstar and posterboy Drizzt Do'Urden. Chronologically only, though, since he first appeared as a sidekick in The Crystal Shard, Salvatore's first book set in the Forgotten Realms. Apparently, the fans liked Drizzt more than the main character, so an origins story became the next project.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

HotDQ: Ep. 2: The Raider’s Camp (part 2)

Our four adventurers continued on through the night, following the trail of the Greenest invaders. The bee encounter had taken some time, giving the raiders opportunity to arrange a rearguard.

The party happened upon such a gathering while sneaking closer to a small cooking fire. Some kobolds and guards had taken up camp and now tried to make supper. It was obvious that the two factions did not get along well. While Kerr hid from plain view, the rest of the party closed in and tried to fit in as cultists. The guards fell for the lie and welcomed the PC:s for supper. After some subtle questioning that didn’t lead to any new clues (the cultists were recently drafted) the party decided to kill their newfound “friends” while on guard duty. Successful ability checks were made and the kobolds scattered as soon as their humanoid masters were no more.

Friday, July 3, 2015

HotDQ: Ep. 2: The Raider’s Camp (part 1)

We started this adventure with describing and playing out Thryggvaels introduction, mentionedin his own post. When “Tryggve” joined the other characters in the Greenest keep, he found them to be quite a loose outfit, only tied together by a common enemy, the Cult of the Dragon, who had ransacked the town, humiliated Victor’s noble pride and now threatened all of the Greenfields.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Meet Thryggvael, our new adventurer!

When playing episode two, our merry group was joined by a new player, Tobias, to fill out the party.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

HotDQ: Ep. 1: Greenest in Flames (part 2)

Last time, we left our player characters (the PC:s) in the  middle of the first episode. They had arrived in a beleagured Greenest, vowed to help the townsfolk, found an old tunnel under the keep and saved some villagers from being burned alive inside the temple of Chauntea. The night had more in store for them, though, as this action-packed episode continued.

The Dragon Attack

While the rain kept falling, the PC:s  stealthily arrived at the keep and returned the saved villagers to the courtyard. Governor Nighthill was suitably pleased, but regretted that he couldn't offer any rewards until the night was over and the damages could be calculated. The PC:s managed to trick an unwilling Escobert into providing his own healing potions, however.

Suddenly, explosion-like loud noises erupted from the parapet. The party headed up the ladder to find several guards under attack by the large blue dragon himself! Groups of guards fell to a single lightning blast as the azure reptile swooped by. They soon realised that they couldn't do much about the situation, although Kerr had to be talked into not jumping onto the dragon mid-flight.
Back in the safety of Nighthills headquarters, the PC:s learned that the local mill was under attack by invaders in dark cloaks. Through a spying glass, they also spotted the invader leaders on the town square; a large half-dragon and an armored woman seemed to be in charge of the looting operations. Governor Nighthill was also very interested in securing a prisoner to be interrogated once the PC:s made it back.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


The Dungeon Master's Guide suggests two systems when it comes to gaining levels and developing characters. There are experience points and there are milestones.

A problem

The old XP model is a classic and I think it comes naturally to most players. Defeat a monster, save the prince or disable a trap and gain an amount of XP that corresponds to the difficulty of the task. Gain enough and you will eventually get over the next level threshold. However, I think that 5th edition’s worst rule is the encounter building and XP budget system. In it, the character’s levels define a set number of XP to gain each day. It scales according to monster challenge rating and number of individuals in an encounter. Trying to figure out a well-balanced fight is a chore which involves cross-referencing two or more tables.

Furthermore, the XP system in a table RPG poses several questions. For example, what exactly happens when you gain a level and how can you reach such insights that you are suddenly twice as powerful and equipped with a new set of abilities in the middle of a fight? What about that last, killing hit taught you all of that? Where/when do players gain levels, how does experience work on a psychological level and why are players rewarded when going on killing sprees?

Friday, June 5, 2015

HotDQ: Ep. 1: Greenest in Flames (part 1)

So it’s time to recap our first session of our first campaign in 5th edition DnD. After discussing table rules, creating characters and explaining the basic rules as well as the inspiration system, we were finally off to Faerûn for some action. At this time I had been waiting for this moment for the better part of the last six months, so I was rightfully excited.

As you will notice, I decided on combining the missions available to the characters and let a central quest giver hand them out. I figured it would be a familiar scenario structure so that we could instead focus on the characters and explore the new system.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Corrections and another table rule

Yes, it appears that I am not only a lazy DM, I am also somewhat ignorant. David told me that, first of all, his character is called Adoaver and nothing else. I also forgot his very good table rule! Without further ado, here's:

5. My turn; my decisions

When playing board games like Descent, where there are several players in one team vs. one ”overlord” (a setup similar to a tabletop RPG) there is a tendency toward one or a few players playing out all the player turns. These turns can take forever, as the dominant player(s) discuss and lobby their thoughts around in order to make as few mistakes as possible. This leads to a: that the quiet, often inexperienced, players never progress and b: that it can feel like playing against an AI. Making mistakes is perfectly fine and makes for far more memorable sessions than the effective, win-against-all-odds attitude.

Players like to talk about their own stats, feats and actions, and how powerful they are. They like to talk about other players characters even more, in terms of comparison. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't want that discussion in the middle of a session. Instruct or advice your fellow adventurers outside the game, preferably in one of the several pauses that comes up sooner or later.

As experienced roleplayers, we should already be aware of all of this, but tendencies toward the ”power” or ”min/max” playstyle may creep in when the party is in a tight spot. That's why we decided to let every player make his or her own decisions, without other interference than in-game character talk. This makes for far faster combat rounds and, I think, happier and better players.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Let's talk table rules

Before kicking off our new campaign, Hoard of the dragon queen, I gathered everyone around the table in a conversation about table rules. I've played a lot of RPG:s with Ola and loads of tabletop and board games with David, but I haven't played that much with Björn, despite knowing him for a couple of years now. I guess I was inspired by office meetings since I wanted my players to know what I expected from them and what they expected from me.

These answers are probably not the solution for your group, but I thought it would benefit the community to share the topics we discussed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Meet our adventurers!

So, we finally got together in my home town for a full day of nothing but DnD and the occasional pizza. It almost felt like christmas.

I decided a while ago that I wanted to run Hoard of the Dragon Queen as our first campaign. First of all because the campaign was last season's DnD Encounters scenario. I presume that it meant the first forage into 5th edition for many players (beyond the starter set) so it would probably suit us as well. Secondly, I really liked following the adventures of other blogs through the first three or so scenarios. I couldn't wait to see what my own friends would come up with once we had our own run. Thirdly, I had all of the maps and other periferals at the ready, as well as having read the whole campaign for a second time recently.

Later on I hope to share some of the tricks that worked well for me as a DM in our first session, which saw us running through the entire first episode, Greenest in Flames. But today's update is devoted to our heroes.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A fresh start

It's been way too long, but I finally made it through the hardest ordeal in becoming a DM: finding a group.

Since moving away from my earlier RPG friends, friends I've been rolling d20:s with since high school, it's been a struggle to get even the most basic game nights going.

DnD is challenging in that way. Where Ticket to Ride, Smallworld and even Descent manage to infiltrate even the most conservative dinner party nowadays, DnD requires so much more of its players. Although I am constantly surprised that DnD passes as conversation topic during lunch hours at work, I find that the amount of time and devotion the game requires also turns most aspiring adventurers away.

Where no other edition of DnD has caught my fancy since picking up AD&D on a trip to London in the nineties, 5th edition seems tailor-made for me. For me, it's an enabler. The rules make it easy to get a story going, giving the players suitable goals and ambitions on-the-fly and not bogging down completely when it's time to roll for initiative. I hope to elaborate on all these topics in future posts, as well as giving fellow DMs my view of running a game and sharing some tricks of the trade.

Anyway, now that I've got a new group of old friends I'm a happy camper again and will look forward to a monthly sunday full of hit modifiers, XP budgets and, of course, new stories.

Sword Coast Junkie is my blog devoted to the 5th Edition of DnD and I invite you all to come along on our adventures.