Z: Z is for “ZENOPUS THE SORCERER”

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I am participating in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, and my theme is Dungeons and Dragons.

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One hundred years ago the sorcerer Zenopus built a tower on the low hills overlooking Portown. The tower was close to the sea cliff west of the town and, appropriately, next door to the graveyard. Rumor has it that the magician made extensive cellars and tunnels underneath the tower. The town is located on the ruins of a much older city of doubtful history, land Zenopus was said to excavate in his cellars in search of ancient treasures.

Fifty years ago, on a cold wintry night, the wizard’s tower was suddenly engulfed in green flame. Several of his human servants escaped the holocaust, saying their master had been destroyed by some powerful force he had unleashed in the depths of the tower. Needless to say the tower stood vacant for a while after this, but then the neighbors and the night watchmen complained that ghostly blue lights appeared in the windows at night, that ghastly screams could be heard emanating from the tower at all hours, and goblin figures could be seen dancing on the tower roof in the moonlight. Finally the authorities had a catapult rolled through the streets of the town and the tower was battered to rubble. This stopped the tauntings but the townsfolk continue to shun the ruins. The entrance to the old dungeons can be easily located as a flight of broad stone steps leading down into darkness, but the few adventurous souls who hove descended into crypts below the ruin have either reported only empty stone corridors or have failed to return at all. Other magic-users have moved into the town but the site of the old tower remains abandoned.

Whispered tales are told of fabulous treasure and unspeakable monsters in the underground passages below the hilltop, and the story tellers are always careful to point out that the reputed dungeons lie in close proximity to the foundations of the older, pre-human city, to the graveyard, and to the sea.

Portown is a small but busy city linking the caravan routes from the south to the merchant ships that dare the pirate-infested waters of the Northern Sea. Humans and non-humans from all over the globe meet here. At the Green Dragon Inn, the players of the game gather their characters for an assault on the fabulous passages beneath the ruined Wizard’s tower.

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Y: Y is for “YOCHLOL”

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I’m participating in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge and my theme of choice is Dungeons & Dragons.

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Yochlols are lesser tanar’ri demons and handmaidens of Lolth, the drow goddess of Spiders. Dwelling amongst the outer planes and being regularly summoned by the Queen of Spider’s priestesses to witness sacrifices in the name of their dark goddess, Lolth. The summoning process tests the very fiber of the high priestesses dedication. Establishing a mental connection to its summoners, yochlol scour their thoughts and memories to find proof of their loyalty to Lolth. It proves to be a rather unpleasant experience for all who are present, but the yochlols’ connection to Lolth also proves to be fairly useful when a family feels they have obtained something to please her.

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yochlol

 Yochlols appear as tentacled blobs of melted wax and continually emit a foul stench. They also have the power to change their shapes—usually to a comely drow female or to a spider. They can also change themselves into a gaseous form, allowing their unknowing victims to inhale them, and then suffocating them. It is possible that they originate as the souls of high priestesses of Lolth who died in the favor of their goddess.

Yochlols are chaotic evil creatures, as are all tanar’ri demons. They take great pleasure in dominating other, lesser creatures. They are cruel and enjoy a good battle, exulting in the rage that fills them when beings defy their goddess’ will. All yochlol serve Lolth and work well together. Never will one betray, endanger, or attack another. All yochlol share a telepathic bond.

They take special delight in escaping the control of those who have summoned them (whom they must serve faithfully for one deed, as decreed by Lolth), and wandering free about the Prime Material Plane. Such a yochlol uses its various forms as disguises to carry out cunning ploys and evil subterfuges to turn beings to chaos and evil. Unless enemies of Lolth are present, yochlol will not engage in killing sprees or frenzies of mindless violence. Yochlol often hiss, whisper, or scream when in combat, even telling their opponents their names, in case the victim should escape. In that way, the victim knows that a particular Handmaiden somewhere out there will someday return to finish its business with the character.

Yochol
Yochol

X: X is for “XORIAT”

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I’m participating in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge and my theme of choice is Dungeons & Dragons.

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Xoriat, the Realm of Madness, is beyond description. By merely visiting the plane non-natives risk having their minds shattered at the sight of the chaos. Xoriat consists of many stacks of translucent layers, an apparently infinite amount of planes stacked upon one another. Its inhabitants exist on multiple layers simultaneously. Massive, drifting entities too large to notice visitors to the plane; free-floating rivers of milk-white liquid; rains of blue globes falling from unseen heights, only to burst and release horse-sized ticks when they strike another object — these are typical sights on Xoriat. Gelatinous worms wriggle from layer to layer, wending through tentacled vegetation encrusted with orange moss, all suspended above an amoebic sea.

 

V: V is for “VAPRAK, THE DESTROYER”

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I am participating in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, and my theme is Dungeons and Dragons.

a-to-z-letters-v Vaprak is the deity worshiped by ogres, trolls, and other savage races. Vaprak is also known as “The Destroyer” or Jammudaru. His symbol is a dismembered, taloned hand. It is sometimes confused with the Hand of Vecna. He makes his home in Shatterstone, the 524th layer of the Abyss. There, he dwells in a pitiful cave at the base of a great cliff.

Vaprak has a humanoid form colored an exceedingly horrid mottled brown and green. He has an elemental, savage quality that endears him to ogres and trolls. Vaprak holds the other giantish gods in awe and respect, however, and fears that his race may abandon him to worship them. He is not a planner or a thinker; he merely destroys, ferociously, as quickly as he can, urging his followers to do the same.

Vaprak’s priests wear blood red plate mail and war helms. They must be ferocious and constantly on the look out for opportunities to fight. They must devour all they can, but remain physically fit. They often exercise by ritually bashing one another with clubs, which helps decide rank in their violent society. Vaprak’s favored weapon is the greatclub.

VAPRAK
VAPRAK

One curious rite practiced among the ogres of one tribe is the “Six Day Night,” where ambitious tribesmen demonstrate their loyalty to Vaprak and their tribal leader by being placed in a dark cavern for six days with no food and only a small amount of water. If the initiate survives this ordeal, his status is greatly increased.

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U: U is for “UNI THE UNICORN”

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I am participating in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, and my theme is Dungeons and Dragons.

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Uni is a young unicorn who the heroes meet when she is fleeing from an angered Tiamat. Afterwards she befriends the heroes with Bobby adopting her as a pet. She communicates by bleating words but the phrases are often repeating what somebody has just suggested as means of affirmation. She even mutters an incantation while gripping Presto’s hat in her mouth during  P.R.E.S.T.O. Spells Disaster and manages to conjure a flying carpet.
Uni belongs to a herd of unicorns that live in a valley concealed behind a waterfall, and on meeting the leader called Silvermane she learns how to teleport by copying him where it is revealed that a unicorn’s horn lets unicorns teleport once per day. Like other unicorns, if she loses her horn she becomes grey, enfeebled and unable to teleport. However, despite learning this Uni only teleports in one other episode and only when prompted by Bobby. After discovering the unicorn herd Uni chooses to continue with the heroes instead of remaining in the valley.
In the Quest Of The Skeleton Warrior Uni casts no reflection in one of the magical mirrors that reflect the viewer’s fear. This could imply she has no deep-rooted fear to exploit or that being a unicorn she is not eligible to become a Celestial Knight so the mirror ignores her presence, reflecting nothing instead.
In the Maze Of Darkness she is unaffected by one of the hypnotic light traps that make people attack each other.
She likes carrots and baked potatoes, as shown in The Hall Of Bones and The Dungeon At The Heart Of Dawn respectively but Eric confirms that her main diet is grass at the end of Treasure Of Tardos.

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T: T is for “THE TEMPUS COIN”

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One of the Seven Coins of Tempus

The Tempus Coin is actually one of seven identical silver coins given to Tempus, the god of war, by the being known as Cyndor. This artifact holds the ability to affect time and space, allowing its user to travel backwards or forwards in the streams of time. Not only can unscrupulous people use it to wreak havoc in the past and take advantage of knowledge from the future, but a single misstep could forever alter the course of history. Therefore, the Coins are closely guarded by chosen Angelic beings loyal to the forces of Good.

Trips through time are exercises in causality. Traveling into the past might set in motion a chain of actions culminating in different major historical events. Conceivably, history could be altered in a way that prompts the Soviet Union to invade and conquer North America. Perhaps the characters can’t even return to their own time because the person who invented the crucial component of the time machine was never born, for some reason. In short, the permutations of cause and effect can be infinitely mind-boggling.

Another potential side-effect of time travel is the alternate reality. The timestream in which time travel is invented continues to exist. Situations that create significant changes or temporal paradoxes serves as the locus or intersection point where realities diverge. The time travelers might encounter worlds very similar to or different from their own.

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S: S is for the “SWORD of SELVETARM”

I’m participating in the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and my theme of choice is Dungeons & Dragons.

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a-to-z-letters-sSelvetarm is a Drow god of war known as The Spider That Waits. As Lolth’s son, champion, and vassal, he serves her without question. However, he harbors a deep resentment and hatred for Lolth, as well as, every other living thing. He is merciless, mad, and bloodthirsty.

To empower his brutal followers to greater depths of violence against the enemies of Lolth, Selvetarm granted his favorite sword to a powerful Drow warrior. As time passed, the blade was lost in the Underdark. It is only a matter of time until the Sword is recovered.  If Lolth’s enemies uncover it, they will perhaps have opportunity to destroy it. If, however, the followers of Selvetarm find the sword first, they will have a powerful weapon to use in their endless battles against the foes of the Queen of the Demonweb pits.

In the hands of a Non-Drow evil character, the Sword of Selvetarm functions as a +2 longsword. If a non-evil character attempts to wield the Sword, it bestows 2 negative levels on the wielder. Although these negative levels never result in actual level loss, they remain as long as the sword is in the wielder’s possession and cannot be overcome in any way, ever. The negative levels disappear when the sword leaves the wearer’s possession.

In the hands of an evil drow, however, the true power of the sword emerges.

  • It functions as a +5 elf bane unholy vorpal longsword.
  • The wielder gains a +5 enhancement bonus to Dexterity.
  • The wielder gains an additional +10 enhancement bonus on Hide checks.
  • The wielder can rage as though a 16th-level barbarian.
  • The wielder can cast at will as if a 16th-level caster: spider climb, web.
  • Once a day, the wielder can cast as if a 16th-level caster: fire spider, phantom steed.
  • Once a month, the wielder can summon a yochlol, which will allow the user to commune with Lolth or Selvetarm on their home plane, the Demonweb.

The sword is intelligent (Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 19, Ego 25) and lawful evil. It does not like to be kept from battle, and it will try to propel its owner into any fight. The sword cannot speak, except to call out the name of Selvetarm in the heat of combat, but it can communicate telepathically with its owner. It will attempt to dominate any nondrow who wields it, forcing them to support the cause of Selvetarm and Lolth.

To destroy the sword, it must be forced to deal damage to either Lolth or Selvetarm while located in the Demonweb.

So goes the legend of Selvetarm’s Sword.

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R: R is for “The Resurrection Machine”

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I’m participating in the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and my theme of choice is Dungeons & Dragons.

Resurrection is an interesting topic for discussion in AD&D, and D&D. Depending on your view and use, it alters and defines your campaign. I believe that a Gamemaster or Dungeon Master should put some thought into exactly what purpose it should serve in the campaign.

a-to-z-letters-rWill the playing characters have to go on a massive quest to seek out an artifact or deity? Will they have to gather up a gazillion gold coins to pay Pope Hat Bob to resurrect a fallen friend? Do they simply have to drag their buddy down to ‘Resurrections R Us’ to have a priest say a few words? Or is it really Resurrection In A Bottle where the characters buy a few Resurrection potions at the Quickie Mart before an adventure and start downing them like Red Bull?

It’s up to you.

Recently I stumbled across the following articles dealing with Resurrection. The first is from StupidRanger.com and discusses both the good and bad of raising characters from the dead. And the second is from Runecarver discussing mainly the downside of Resurrection. Give both a read if you wish, and then also take some time looking here, too.

In my campaign, I believe that Resurrection should be used, but sparingly. It is a tool for the Dungeon Master to deploy in extreme circumstances as a plot device, quest for the playing characters, or divine intervention. So anyway, damn the torpedoes … let’s discuss quickly.

  1. PLOT DEVICE:  “A plot device is an object or character in a story whose sole purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot.” So an example of this would be the story of Lazarus of Bethany. The resurrection in and of itself is used to make the story and the campaign stronger. Perhaps the party goes on a quest to resurrection one of their own fallen recently in combat. Or maybe they are going to turn a nice bit of coin by setting into a dungeon looking for an artifact that will bring the Baron’s daughter back to life. Or maybe a divine being grants the party a favor due to some massive deed, and they wish for their buddy the halfling to return to life after being pincushioned by a million arrows. Either way, it’s all about making the campaign stronger because the resurrection takes some blood, sweat, and tears. Just don’t overdo it.
  2. HOOK: “A narrative hook (or hook) is a literary technique in the opening of a story that “hooks” the reader’s attention so that he or she will keep on reading.” Again, this is used by the Dungeon Master to make the story and campaign better. Maybe the characters are looking for the Fountain of Youth, or a Red Bull of Resurrection. If it gets the ball rolling and the players are interested, then it’s not a bad idea. Again, don’t overdo it.
  3. QUEST: Fighting your way through Hell to kill a bunch of devils is cool. Fighting a bunch of devils to get a cool magical item that brings your buddy back to life is even cooler. Making the resurrection an active quest allows it to become a part of the story. It’s not just the knee jerk reaction of a DM who is responding to a player who does nothing but whine about his character dying. “But but but … he was my FAVORITE first level fighter!”
  4. DIVINE INTERVENTION: A higher power takes interest in the playing character, and restores her/him to life. I think now of a Dragonlance campaign from my high school years. A major character decided to take on Kitiara Uth Matar and was promptly killed by her Blue Dragon‘s breath weapon. The remaining characters watched as the Elf’s smoldering body fell from the walls of the castle, and lay smoking in the courtyard. They gathered his body up and took it to the priests. However, Paladine was the being who granted resurrection, claiming that it was a miracle for the True Gods. Another good example would be the return of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings. He was “sent back to complete his mission.”

So there you have it … my thoughts on the Resurrection Machine. I’d like to hear how you handle this topic within your own campaign. And remember … not only the good guys get Resurrected. Sometimes even Bargle can come back for a little fun thanks to a handy resurrection spell.

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Q: Q is for “Quest, Holy Avenger.”

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I am participating in the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and my theme is Dungeons & Dragons.

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The sword known as “Quest” was forged in the bowels of the craft known as “Demonwing, Ship of the Abyss.” It was made on the demonic forges and crafted of cold steel, decorated with runes on the handle and blade to combat devils of any kind. First, the sword acts as a +2 cold iron longsword becomes a +5 holy cold iron longsword in the hands of a paladin, but only while fighting a Devil or ArchDevil. Secondly, Quest provides magical resistance to its user, allowing for a +5 to all saving throws against spells cast by wizards and clerics. Lastly, the sword allows its wielder to use Greater Dispel Magic.

This blade is another tool created for use in the Blood War. Although few are aware of its current location, some think that it is lost in one of the many layers of the Nine Hells just waiting for a paladin to put it to good use again.

Strong abjuration; Price 120,630 gp

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QUEST

P: P IS FOR “PEREGRIN TOOK”

I’m participating in the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and my theme of choice is Dungeons & Dragons.

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a-to-z-letters-pWhen you are playing Dungeons & Dragons, there is always a Peregrin Took at the table.

Peregrin Took is a Hobbit who causes nothing but problems for his adventuring friends. The Peter Jackson version of Fellowship of the Ring points this out very well. Whether pointing Frodo out to all the Men in the Prancing Pony, saying something foolish during the Secret Coucil meeting in Rivendell, tossing rocks into the water to wake the Watcher, knocking the clanky bits down the well to summon every goblin in Moria, or gazing into a palantír to attract the attention of the Eye of Sauron … Peregrin Took is a pain in the ass.

He is young, inexperienced, and impetuous. His actions are usually born out of greed, boredom, or unthoughtfulness. Whatever he does usually goes to hell and despite the scolding of those around him, he refuses to learn from his mistakes until the very end. It’s like he’s doing it all on purpose, although we all know that Peregrin is innocently acting a fool without overt malice.

Pippin: “Great. Where are we going?”

Every role-playing group has a Peregrin Took. And more often that not, there’s  a Meriadoc Brandybuck along for the ride. Pipin is bad enough, but then Merry joins in and all hell breaks loose. It can ruin a night of gaming.

Pippin: “Anyways, you need people of intelligence on this sort of… mission… quest… thing.”
Merry: “Well, that rules you out, Pip.”

You know the type. It’s the player who makes sure that his character does nothing but disrupt the overall game, refuses to cooperate with the players or DM, and generally makes the entire group frustrated with his antics. All the while, he is laughing and having a great time ruining everyone else’s fun. He’s thoughtless, and annoying.

In the comic strip “Knights of the Dinner Table” a good example of this person is Robert Samuel “Bob” Herzog.

Or maybe he’s not overtly ruining the game. Maybe he’s not paying attention during the game and staring off at a TV, Ipad, or Smart Phone. Maybe he slows down the game by constantly being indecisive about what his character is going to do. Whatever he’s doing, it’s causing trouble in the game.

So the question is … how do you deal with DISRUPTIVE PLAYERS?

Some players will find more enjoyment in spoiling a good night of gaming than actually playing it, and it ruins the fun for everyone else. As a DM you must prevent this from happening. Here are some suggestions:

  • Talk to him in private and tell him to knock off the disruptive behavior, or please go home.
  • Address it directly and firmly. “Bob you are acting foolish and ruining everyone’s fun.”
  • Ask them to leave if they do not want to stop with their annoying behavior.
  • Exclude them from future gaming sessions.
  • Allow the other participants to use peer pressure to steer the disruptive player to the proper course.

Whatever you do, make sure that you properly deal with the situation, and then explain to anyone else involved what your course of action will be from here on in.

Merry (right) and Pippin in Ralph Bakshi's ani...

In the fabled words of Chris Perkins, I offer his letter to a difficult player:

Dear Player . . .

D&D is a game about heroes working as a team to complete quests, defeat villains and monsters, and interact with the campaign that I’ve created. Right now, because of you, our D&D game isn’t working, and I need your help to fix it.

It’s my job as the Dungeon Master to present a world for your character to explore and fun challenges to overcome. It’s also my job to set the rules of the game, be fair to all players, and keep things exciting. I’m hoping the campaign can last a while, and that your characters have a chance to become more powerful and face new threats at higher level. It’s a lot of work—and frankly, you’re not making it easy on me.

It’s your role as a player to have a good time, but not at the expense of me, the campaign, or the other players. When we sit down to play, there’s an unspoken agreement that must be respected so that everyone has a good time. You can’t have a rock band if one player refuses to take it seriously or doesn’t allow everyone else to enjoy the experience. The same holds true for D&D games. That’s not to say you can’t have fun, but we need to agree on what’s fun for everyone.

Here’s what I’d like to do: I want to create the best, most fun campaign—not just for me, and not just for you, but for all of us. In return, I want to hear about the things you like and don’t like about the campaign, as well as ways I can make it more suitable for your style of play so that you’re having fun. I also want you to think about what makes the game fun for me and everyone else. Ultimately, we all want to have a good time, but right now that’s not happening.”

That way everyone can have fun, and enjoy a night of gaming.

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