Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Disintigration is in the Eye of the Beholder

Good ol Kevin Coffey reminded us that we have a blog last week when he wrote up a bit of fiction about his character, Wilster. After reading it, I told Jared that we need to post pics every week from our game. And guess what... I remembered! I even added some special effects to one of the pics...

A knowledge check tells us that ropers hate fire. Wall of fire and summoned fire mephits it is!

These custom made Legend Comics and Coffee d6s are maxing out on some healing!

The irrational and impatient Tribad finds the beholder. The beholder says hello with a death ray.

Before being turned to stone, Jho Kruusha gets in a critical hit on an opportunity attack! Those custom Legend d6s max out again!

With two PCs knocked out and one turned to stone, it's up to Craig and Ehlum!

After a few barrages of arrows from Craig, Ehlum finished the beholder with another wall of fire!

Well, we'll be back next week with more pics! And maybe some other cool stuff in between. In the meantime, the Shining Scorpion crew is going to level up!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wilster Moonshadow: Adventuring in the River Kingdoms

After adventuring for almost a year with the Shining Scorpion and captaining their ship, which a title he earned after killing its former captain in battle, Wilster spent an afternoon being regaled with tales of great ale and strong wine by his new friend, Jak Kruusha, whose frozen stone form Wilster had saved from a basilisk's lair.

After a few too many cups, Wilster's mind went fuzzy. After a few more, it went completely black.
He awoke later on the decks of a ship without his gear. The few men milling about the deck were obviously pirates, but the small band was not dreadful to an experienced warrior such as Wilster.

Closing his eyes, he thought of his blade. Mysterious words whispered through his mind calling his weapon.

With a thud, a door in the deck of the ship flapped open and Wilster's black scimitar flew to his right hand as his left fifst flared with lightning.

"Take me to the captain," he said.

This was a keelboat, no large brig like the ship he captained with the Scorpions. And this captain was no feared sailor.

"I... I'm the captain," he stammered.

"What did you plan to do with me?" Wilster asked as he danced toward the skinny, tattooed man.

"We were going to sell you," he replied without hesitation. "You and that fancy sword."

"You're not selling me now," Wilster said. "You're going to give me the ship."

The captain glanced past Wilster and he gave a quick nod. As Wilster turned, two of the pirates lunched at him with cutlasses. He took a swinging step toward them. One received the shock of lightning from Wilster's balled fist. The other received a slash across the chest from Wilster's fast-moving scimitar.

Both slumped to the deck.

Wilster turned back to the captain.

"Who are you working for?"

"The Bloodstone Swords. A reward of 200 gold pieces has been offered for an elf swining a black blade etched with red runes. We wanted the money," the pirate explained. "Nemas Ricasso hired us. He's building an army in the River Kingdoms."

"Well, let's go see about that reward."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Nightscale - A Peek Behind the GM Screen

So here you have the cover artwork for the Forge of Fury module, minus logos and other cover elements. Upon reading the module for the first time I immediately took issue with the image. Not only is the environment not a cave, Nightscale herself looks bigger then the medium-sized stats within the module. Minor quibbles to be sure, but it still bothers me to this day.

So when it came time to convert Forge of Fury to Pathfinder rules, and to accommodate a larger AND higher level party - I knew Nightscale would need to be addressed.

Immediately I knew I would crank her size to large, but then how to raise her challenge rating (CR)? I found some old D&D 3.5 starts for a CR 11, male black dragon. Now when using stats from 3.5 directly in Pathfinder, it is advised you lower the CR by 1. This would take the dragons down to CR 10. Well, I found CR 10 black dragon stats built for Pathfinder and decided to just use those. She should be a suitable challenge for a party of six to seven, 6th level PCs. For the most part she was, I just played her stupid - which is a shame, because dragons are anything but.


Attacking from the depths of the Black Lake, Nightscale's armor class raises +4, due to being mostly submerged. Nightscale can breathe underwater indefinately as well, so really, she has no reason to leave that extra protection at all. She could use her breath weapon, swim down the underwater river and attack the party from the rear, and repeat this process. But I always want dragons to be big and tough and after her first (and only) use of the breath weapon had her burst out of the water to engage two members of the party in melee. I mean, she does have six attacks when using all of them in a single round. My first mistake. A clever dragon would have used her natural habitat and her advantage gained by it, to stay alive, kill these intruders and add their shit to her hoard.

Not only that, my second mistake was to let her stay in melee too long. The fighter hit harder than anticipated and when she did decide to return to the lake, the rest of the adventuring party had arrived to support their friends.

Nightscale was wounded and her thoughts went to her treasure. She wouldn't let them have it. She again appeared out of the water and climbed up onto the small island in the middle of the lake where her hoard was strewn about. She began to kick it all into the depths of the Black Lake where she could retrieve it later if needed and these air breathers would have a very hard time getting to it. Next thing she knew, one of the spell-casters was on the island with her. She turned her full fury upon him, yet this was another mistake. A smart dragon would have fled. She does have an underwater tunnel which leads out of the mountain and could get away clean. But again, I wanted Nightscale to instill fear. But the wizard had a bunch of mirror images going and they took some of her fury and the wizard lived. Arrows from the shoreline was the end of Nightscale after that.

Foolish me. I wanted Nightscale to escape and become a returning villain. But I pushed it too far. I always do when playing a dragon. But hey, the players had a blast and they feel awesome after slaying their first dragon so that's pretty cool.

One of the players gave me an idea on how to continue Nightscale's legacy though ... so maybe all is not lost after all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Idalla, the succubus - A Peek Behind the GM Screen

Area 49:) Idalla's Den
A member of a previous expedition into Khundrukarr, a cunning and malicious wizard, died near this spot. Before he died he summoned and bound a succubus to this room with the condition that she is stuck there until someone of good intentions (any good alignment) attacks her or gives her enough verbal permission to leave the room. The succubus, who calls herself Idalla, doesn't know why the wizard summoned her or that he is dead. She does know she is fucking bored and will do just about anything to get out of the room.

I was super excited for the PCs to meet Idalla. It almost worked in Idalla's favor too.

The heroes of the Shinning Scorpion had just fought over a dozen orc and dwarf skeltons just outside the old library, which happens to be the room where Idalla was bound. She heard the paladin, Steelheels, descimate almost all of the skeletons at once with prayer and blessings, powered by her god. Idalla was then able to prepare herself for someone's arrival. She used her natural ability to detect alignment and literally got tingles when she felt the paladin's goodness.

At this point the party decided to rest in the great hall and Idalla was left to plan for their return. The next day the Shinning Scorpion debated where to continue their exploration of the Foundry level and the paladin, Steelheels, walked in the direction of the old library. She began to call up her ability to detect evil when the remainder of the Scorpion called her into another direction. Almost discovered Idalla.

When the Scorpion had finally reached her, Idalla had changed her shape to appear as a human woman. She knew the party members that had opened the door to the library were not good, but she begged them to rescue her from a wizard who had trapped her here. She claimed that he used her for experiments on extending life, which would explain how she was here after 100 years. She easily took the minds of those who she first interacted with and sent them to bring their "good" friends to her to beg for release and rescue.

Idalla was set to banter back and forth with the PCs, she had many lies and a few half truths ready to go. But the party pretty much attacked her on sight. Maybe it's their past encounter with Ned, back in Saltmarsh, that they no longer trust anyone found in dungeons and ruins. Either way, she did have a lot of free time on her hands, due to being bound, and had gained much knowledge on Khundrukkar and some of its current inhabitants. She had read the whole library multiple times, the things of value learned, she could have shared if the PCs had just talked her up a bit. But their near immediate attacks really pissed her off. She focused all of that attention onto Steelheels once she strode into the room.

Good vs. evil. Although Idalla did her best, it wasn't enough. Steelheels did not fall for the seduction of the demon. Not even with her enchanted kiss did Idalla sway Steelheel's blade. Powered by her god, the holy blade sent Idalla back to whatever hell she spawned from.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Forge of Fury - A Peek Behind the GM Screen

As the heroes of the Shinning Scorpion make their way through the Foundry level of Khundrukar they find themselves in dwarven halls that once served as living quarters. These rooms and passages seem filled with undead, the remains of the 100 year gone battle that was the fall of the dwarven stronghold.

As GameMaster I am privy to the details of these halls, yet the players only get a fraction of that info. Even when they do explore rooms only so much can be shared with them as they go, which leaves behind a lot of cool story they may never learn. Story which could be hard to separate as character knowledge and player knowledge. 
But now that they've already explored most of the area I thought it would be nice to detail them here, away from the table, where it can be extra story that will not influence the game. Nor will it cause the players to make choices solely based on this extra knowledge picked up during their gameplay.

Area 41) The Kitchens
A century ago, one of Durgeddin's chief advisors was a high-level cleric of Moradin who prepared many defensive spells in and around the Foundry. One of the surprises he left was an animated object - a large table - in this room, with orders to attack any non-dwarf who entered. The cleric's exact orders were "Attack any non-dwarf who enters this room, unless a dwarf tells you to stand still."

I guess Durgeddin didn't have any guests over for dinner who weren't dwarf.

Area 42) Desecrated Shrine
Durgeddin made his last stand in this very chamber, laying about with his sword until his orc enemies finally overwhelmed him. The orc war-priests wanted to make sure that their terrible enemy would never return; they pronounced dire curses over the remains of their hated foe. Then they chose a fierce orc warrior to remain here forever in undeath to slay any who found this place. The orc champion became a wight and was supported by three large skeletons, powerful creatures who once served the orcs. In life they were a minotaur and a pair of equiceph (similar to minotaurs but horse humanoids).

Areas 43 & 46) The Dwarf Halls & Common Room
The dwaves of Khundrukar lived in private rooms to the north of the Great Hall. The orc horde pillaged most of these rooms, cutting down all the dwarves they found and carrying off any treasure they came across. These areas became the demesne of an undead dwarf - the cleric Arundil - who now exists as a wraith. Once the leading priest of Khundrukar he fled during the final assault using his magic to escape the slaughter. He returned later to find all of his kinfolk dead. In his despair and guilt he attempted to repair some of the defenses for the complex, animating dead warriors - both dwarf and orc, to kill intruders who may return. Arundil went mad in his grief and perished a mere few weeks later.

Well, there's some detail on the recently explored areas. Who knows what the players will stumble into next as they search the ancient halls? Well, the GameMaster knows ...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Douglas and Dragons - Episode 2!

Return of the Funky Ones!

The guys do a little investigating and find that the Dockway in Magnimar is infested with Goblins! After talking to Rory the Town Guard the guys remember the whereabouts of the Midnight Milk warehouse. Are they ready for what they will find within..?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Centaur Miniatures - D&D and Pathfinder

Thanks to Jared (@WoolyToots on Twitter)

"Centaurs! D&D got Pathfinder on size but the latter added a female, so they take the prize. Although my fave is still D&D's centaur hero miniature. The black and white color scheme which flows through the mane and beard is pretty original."

"The whole clan rides out together! Nine centaurs strong!"

 "Pathfinder left, D&D right"

"D&D centaur war hulk on left, Pathfinder on the right"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Forge of Fury - June 18th 2014

After defeating a magically animated table, the crew stumbles across some big, undead monsters! From Jared: "Forge of Fury - Desecrated Shrine. Once dedicated to dwarven gods, now defiled by orcs. Orc war-priests bound a fierce Orc warrior to slay any who found this place. The Orc champion, now a wight, is flanked by minotaur and equiceph skeletons."

Steelheals softens them up by channeling positive energy.

Not wanting to waste the haste spell Ehlum cast, the crew sprints to the next room, kicks down the door and fights an incorporeal monster!

Time to search for loot. What do they find?

... a magically animated floor rug of death that wants to squeeze the life out of the Shining Scorpion adventuring party!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blue Dragons - Miniatures

Here are some photos of Jared's D&D blue Dragon minis along side my Pathfinder gargantuan blue Dragon mini.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Douglas and Dragons - My Actual Play Pathfinder Podcast

Douglas and Dragons is an online Pathfinder game I put together with some guys I know from Twitter:

Doug @MonkeySquadOne
Alan @NewMutant
Jason @thunderduck360
Sean @potatowast3

The game came about after Doug and I were discussing the Nerd Poker podcast via Twitter. He said that he'd never played D&D before, and that Nerd Poker made him want to play. After Alan, Sean, and Jason said that they'd play a game with him, I offered to DM the thing. We've since played 3 sessions using a combination of Skype and Roll20, but failed to record the first adventure. So, session 2 is now episode 1, and the 3rd session will be split into episodes 2 and 3. As much fun as we had the first time, it's probably a good thing that it wasn't recorded because everyone was still trying to get everything figured out.

To create the campaign I am writing my own adventures and encounters that stem from the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Magnimar, City of Monuments. The game so far is full of kung fu, arm wrestling apes, the smoking of sweet leaf, and gruesome finishing moves. We have a lot of fun recording the thing, and I laughed my ass off re-listening to episode 1. Hopefully that all translates for something good for others to listen to!

Episode 1 is here: Douglas and Dragons - Episode 1. It's also available on iTunes. Go listen!

You will also be able to see screenshots, character art, etc, on the podcast's blog.

- John

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ehlum's Beast - Evolution at Level 6

The Shining Scorpion Adventuring Crew reached level 6 in our Pathfinder game after defeating a room full of orc and dwarf skeletons last night. My summoner, Ehlum, doesn't get a lot for himself at this level, but his eidolon gets a nice boost. Also, the party came across a +1 flaming warhammer that no one can really use. Those with the proficiency already have weapons they like. So, with 9 evolution points I'm likely going to present the quadruped like this at next Wednesday's game:

Limbs, legs (2)
Bite (1d8)
Claws (1d4 x 2)
Limbs, arms
Improved Damage (Bite)
Improved Natural Armor (+2 AC) x2
Pounce (full attack after charge)

New feat: Martial Weapon Proficiency (warhammer)

So now, his attacks will look like this:

1d8+6, + 1d6 fire
2 Claws

That +6 damage added to the warhammer is dependent on the eidolon swinging with both hands. Otherwise it's +4. 

Here's a quick sketch I did of Ehlum's beast with these evolutions:

click picture to enlarge

I would like to add reach to his warhammer swing, so I may drop something like improved damage on the bite. I'm also considering giving him the mount evolution and using the enlarge person spell on the beast often.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shining Scorpion in the Forge of Fury

The party has been through a lot. Currently, at fifth level, the Shining Scorpion adventuring crew tackles the Forge of Fury and tries to unlock the secrets of Durgeddin the Black. Tonight they awakened a big group of orc and dwarf skeletons. Steelheals takes out half of them with a blast of channeled positive energy, allowing the rest of the crew to clean up.

Monday, May 19, 2014

D&D Next Release Dates and My Apathy

Wizards announced that the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons will officially be released on July 15th, 2014, beginning with a starter set including six dice, a 64 page rulebook and adventure, rules for characters of level 1-5, and 5 pre-generated characters. They are also releasing a starter set of miniatures called Icons of the Realms at this time.

Following this in August, they will release the core rulebook for $50, and a 96 page adventure developed by Kobold Press titled Hoard of the Dragon Queen. At this time it they will also release a 44 piece set of miniatures available as booster packs. The Monster Manual will be out in September, and the Dungeon Master's Guide in November.

I'm am curious about how all of this is going to go, but truth be told I'm much more excited for the monthly releases from Paizo for the Pathfinder RPG. I really don't have a lot of faith that Wizards will continue to provide strong support for this edition of D&D after the first year or so. Meanwhile, Paizo keeps giving us more and more quality adventures, additional rules, excellent pre-painted miniatures, etc. I would love to be wrong about Wizards, but even if that is so, it would take a lot to get me to switch my weekly games from Pathfinder to D&D's new edition. I will buy the minis, but I doubt I'll get any of the books. Besides, why aren't they releasing the Player's Guide, Monster Manual, and DM's Guide at the same time? I'm not really interested in buying one without the others. Another reason I'm not super excited about this news.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Grokk - Human Barbarian

Here is the barbarian I painted recently, and used during the recent D&D gameday event.

Grokk and his party members, including another barbarian, a rogue, a cleric and a fighter, didn't accomplish much that day. Sure, they killed some goblins (which Grokk was proud of and wrote on the walls in chalk "Grokk was here, smashed many goblin heads"), but once they got into town everything went downhill. The barbarians were ripped off by a racist apothecary and rather than taking on 20 town guards, they decided to return at night to steal from him.

The rogue and the other barbarian (I forget their names) brought Grokk along and had him on lookout duty as they broke into the apothecary in the middle of the night. With astounding stealth, the rogue entered the building and found loot, even though he was poisoned by the trap on the door. In an attempt to open a locked chest he found, he released a poisoned mist and couldn't keep from coughing.

The store owner came down the stairs with a magical floating lantern behind him, and spotted the rogue. The other barbarian was standing in the doorway as the shop owner was about to say something, perhaps to cast a spell or yell for the town guard. With incredible aim (nat 20), however, the barbarian tossed a dagger that buried itself in the store owner's throat before any words could escape. In a panic the barbarian rushed in to grab goods, making enough noise to wake the store owner's wife. In his haste the barbarian broke a number of potions as he swept them into his bag. Broken glass tore the bag and a mixture of magical liquids leaked out, leaving a trail as he left the store. Meanwhile Grokk moved to the end of the alley to get a better view of the area.

Once in the alley, the barbarian and the rogue decided to start a trash fire to distract the town guard after they hear the blood curdling scream from the apothecary owner's wife. When the barbarian lit his torch, however, the magical fumes emanating from his satchel ignited. The fire rushed along the trail of magic juice leading back into the building, causing a magical explosion larger than Grokk and probably most people had ever seen. The rogue and the barbarian were burnt to a crisp and torn apart by the explosion, along with the apothecary owner's wife and their three children, and another five or six citizens in nearby homes. Grokk was knocked to the ground by the blast. When he looked back to see the grim results, he witnessed the entire area collapse into a pin hole sized spot in the air, leaving literally nothing but empty space, looking as if a giant hand had reached down from the sky and scooped up all it could grab.

Grokk reached for a piece of chalk and started writing "Grokk was not here" on the ground before he thought better of it and ran back to the inn where he was staying.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Misfits Origins: Tribad, Vishkanya Ninja

Written by Kevin Guthrie

Tribad closes her eyes. She tries to picture her mother. She can't. She can't remember her father either. Did she have a family? They are only faceless forms out of a shrouded child's memory. The lights of her real parents are both lost to history. Instead, her memories transform to those who raised her from a child. Those who raised her were shadows of her childhood.

The guild was her family. Her brothers and sisters would help her, guide her, and protect her. But just like normal siblings, they would dare her to do things. It was only childhood rivalry. The first dare was the town drunk. The second dare was a merchant who sold worthless baubles. The third dare was a farmer. Tribad had already killed three people before completing her 10th cycle of rebirth.

The assassin's guild is a hard place to grow up, but it has advantages. Food meant you didn't go hungry. A bed meant you were safe for the night. It also meant you had the skills necessary to survive on your own. They trained her. They taught her how to use weapons, poison, and shadow to her advantage. They gave her a purpose -- a dark purpose.

Tribad had completed all her training and passed all the tests, except one. She was given an assignment. Complete the assignment and become an official member of the guild. There was a prominent merchant in a neighboring town that wanted a problem eliminated. Tribad's assignment was to fulfill the contract.

Tribad "borrowed" a small wagon from a farmer and proceeded to her assignment. The two-day trip was uneventful. She found a small clearing and hitched the horse and wagon in seclusion. Proceeding to the manor, she felt very confident in achieving her objective, a second story window and eliminate the target.

She waited for twilight and take advantage of the approach of darkness. Enter the window, no problem. Find the objective, no problem. The lady was sleeping in bed, no problem. Hear a baby's cry, problem. She muffled the lady's startled cry and discovered a dark truth. The merchant had hired the guild to kill his wife, Bella.

Tribad had lost her parents, her family, her heritage. She had been sent to do the same to another. She couldn't do it. But, she couldn't avoid it either. The guild looks most unfavorably to failure.

Just as Tribad struggles to resolve her conflict, somebody enters the room. Swiftly, instinctively, Tribad swings her sword. Bella's personal maid lay dying on the floor. In killing, Tribad finds her salvation.

Tribad returned to the guild with the braided locks of Bella's hair wrapped in swaddling cloth. The guild was pleased and commended Tribad with completion of her task. The merchant was less enthusiastic with the empty burned husk of his manor. Several burned bodies remained in the building. All were dead. No witnesses.

Tribad's experience leaves her with a new resolve. As she leaves the guild in good standing, she leaves with a wry smile and never looks back. Time to find the light.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Swamp Surprise

After dealing with the huecuva and the ghouls, the Shining Scorpion adventuring party heads down the last hall of the dark, abandoned smuggler caves to a flooded room. The space is rectangular, with 4 columns in the center of the room that rise from the water to the ceiling. The water seems to have seeped in from a large crack in the wall, but there is no indication that the water in this area rises any further during high tide. After finding danger in every other area of the caverns, the party is hesitant to move into the room. The summoner, Ehlum Davusaam, summons a small water elemental to scout ahead. Confirming it's orders in the bubbly sounding language of the elemental water plane, the creature turns and then dives into the small pool. The hall is silent except for the light sloshing sounds coming from the pool, but then a roar erupts as water suddenly comes to life! 

The party sees the shape of the Ehlum's summoned creature ahead, seemingly wrestling with twisting vortex of water that is rising from the pool. A separate water elemental, larger than the small creature Ehlum sent forth, surprised the smaller creature and has attacked! Acting quickly, the party uses ranged attacks on the liquid beast as the smaller elemental uses it's own slam attacks. Shortly after the battle begins the fetchling ranger, Craig Shadowbane, fires the final arrow that disrupts the lurking creature's cohesion, and the water settles again into stillness. If one could understand Aquan, the language of the elemental plane of water, they would hear the small elemental yelling insults at the larger, defeated creature. The party searches the pool of water but come up with nothing. They then rest, wait for the tide to go back down, go back for the coins in the sea cave and head back to Saltmarsh. 

Over the next few days the party hires the first of their crew, Mavron the retired pirate that sits on the city council, and a few of his cronies. They take the time to remove the cursed stone from Ehlum's possession, and cure Steelheal's blight. The party discusses their options from here. Before sailing on, they decide to investigate the old, abandoned Vanderbeek mansion in hopes of finding more treasure and leaving the area a bit safer for the people of Saltmarsh. 

First thing in the morning the crew leaves and trudges through the swamplands to the ruined Vanderbeek mansion, but they have a hard time keeping track of and staying on the path. They see remnants of abandoned buildings that used to be part of Saltmarsh. The crew notices that there is an odd absence of large animals in the swamp during their 2nd hour of travel, and a complete absence of all animals during the 3rd hour. Ehlum's eidolon senses that there is something ahead off to the side of the trail, some type of large creature in the water. Craig the ranger decides to use stealth to flank the mysterious, submerged lump. He climbs a tree, but can't see much more. He sends the pseudodragon Felaket to inspect it. The tiny dragon says that it's Swamp Chomps, and it's dead, having been ripped in half. Craig decides to investigate closer, and sees that it is the corpse of a saltwater crocodile. It's been dead for a while. 

As the party concludes the investigation, the eidolon sees the destination ahead in the distance. The Vanderbeek "mansion" is just a collection of broken walls with no roof whatsoever. The crew spreads out with the stealthy ones taking the lead. As they enter the grounds of the estate, Craig notices tracks from a huge creature. They don't seem to lead anywhere in particular, but rather they move back and forth throughout the area. Felaket and the eidolon investigate the ruined mansion. The tiny dragon finds a stairwell that leads underground, but as the party moves towards it they are attacked by a marsh giant! The creature is grotesque, with slimy grey skin and an oval shaped maw full of pointed teeth. It's black eyeballs add to its unnatural and horrific appearance.  


Ehlum starts it off by casting haste on Steelheals the paladin, Craig the ranger, Tribad the ninja, and himself. A couple of missed ranged attacks from the party are followed by the marsh giant attempting to curse the paladin, but her willpower is enough to overcome it. The beast moves forward, and Ehlum casts mage armor on it. The beast then runs up and bites the giant with a reach attack. The ranger hits it with an arrow, as does the ninja. The creature roars in anger and swings its gaff twice at the paladin and hits with the second attack, dealing a lot of damage and bloodying her. The rogue runs up and stabs the giant with his dagger. Ehlum uses his haste and runs around to flank, activates his elemental strike and strikes the monster. The party misses a number of attacks, and the ugly beast swings even more wildly, doing major damage once again, this time to the summoner Ehlum. 

And that's where we had to end it. We play again tomorrow night. Will the marsh giant prove to be too much for our strange collection of adventurers to handle? Will they all survive?!?!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Craig Shadowbane sat on the deck with his back against the forecastle. The shadows reached out with an embrace and he accepted, his gray skin blurring at the edges.

He looked up and watched the pseudodragon ride the warm air currents, her violet scales almost lost with the setting of the sun. 

 Somehow in the heat of battle they had bonded and now there was a presence in the back of his mind.

So much had happened since he met Steelheals and he didn’t know what to think or who to trust. She was the only one he did.

His new companions were busy moving around the ship. Wilster, with his new hat, was playing at captain and Ehlum was speaking with the air elementals. The ninja was nowhere to be seen. These Scorpions, as they called themselves, were as varied a crew as he had ever seen. But so were they he knew, him and Steelheals, an Aasimar and a Kayal—one of Light and one of Shadow. 

So far they worked well together, even though they were watching each other’s actions. Trust wasn’t built overnight.

He was getting hungry but he didn’t want to leave the safety of his shadows. His supper mustn’t have been enough.

Across the deck the door to the sterncastle opened and Steelheals walked out. Her skin seemed to glow white in the dying light of dusk. She scanned the horizon until her eyes found Craig and she made her way over.

Above, the pseudodragon dove towards the surf.

“You should join them Craig. We need to find out how much good is in them,” she said when she made her way over.

Craig smiled, “How much is on your list?”

“Only the Drow, we will need to turn him in soon.”

“And his dog?”

“Let it run free.”

“Alright. I’ll watch the ninja and Aicho. When it’s time I’ll draw them out.”

“Then watch, learn.” She stood at parade rest with her hands clasped behind her back. 

His stomach growled and he looked away from his dragon to Steelheals. “Your list must be getting heavy. That is quite a burden you carry.”


He raised his hand to silence her and reached for his bow while pulling more shadows around him. He felt…danger?

He looked around but the feeling went away. Slowly he let the shadows return to where they came from.

“What was it?”

“I thought I felt danger.”

“Let me see if I sense anything.”

Overhead he saw the pseudodragon land on the mainmast spar. There was some sort of fish in its mouth and as Craig watched she ripped into it. Soon his hunger vanished.

“Craig, I sense nothing.”

“It’s ok,” he said, “Go and talk. I’ll watch.”

She walked away and he watched his new friend. She soared on the updrafts and with her talons swiped three more fish from the blue waters below. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Forging the black blade

Wilster had a lot to reflect on after clearing out the Saltmarsh smugglers. He now had more money than he had ever seen. He was unsure of his new compatriots, but trusted them more and more after doing battle with them. Running a ship would be difficult, but he knew he was right one for the job. And those dreams of that far-off city just would not leave his head.

But he had to put all of those thoughts out of his head. The magical tomes he found in the old house and those he borrowed from Sorthen, the wise old mage in town, would finally allow him to complete the next step in his arcane ascension.

Wilster studied the dusty old books whenever he had time. He gathered the necessary spell components. Now all he needed was a quiet, dark room and time.

In his quarters on the ship, the ritual's first hours went by slowly as he cast the initial spells. Illuminated by a few candles and the light that came through a porthole window, the room grew darker and darker as light seemed to be sucked into the center of the room.

Hours passed. Wilster continued to concentrate on the work at hand to continue the spell. The room became so dark, he could no longer check the magical tomes to make sure he was performing the spell correctly. He continued to say the words he memorized and the time went by and by and by.

Eventually, Wilster could not tell if he was asleep or awake. He blinked his eyes and there was no change. He noticed he was still speaking, albeit without thinking about it. And when he thought the room could become no darker - black as pitch - he just noticed that light was creeping in again through the porthole.

It was morning. The next day.

Looking down, Wilster saw sitting on the floor was a curved, black blade. Blood-red writing ran from the hilt up the blade. It was a language Wilster had never seen, but he understood it.

"Pick me up," Wilster heard whispered to him in the same language.

It was the blade.

Wilster did not know how, but he felt drawn to the sword. When he slid his hand into the hilt, he felt absolutely connected to it like nothing could separate them.

And he felt the blade's power pluse up through his wrist and shoulder.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Turn Rocks Caves

Last time, the Shining Scorpion adventuring party continued exploring the hidden caves under the turn rocks just offshore of the town of Saltmarsh. After fighting some ghouls, the group decided to open a stuck door that opened to a cavern that looked as if it would fill with water come high tide. Ehlum the summoner had sent his eidolon to swim ahead of the group and scout. The creature ventured forth, followed by Craig's psuedodragon companion, and swam nearly 100' through a tunnel of waist deep seawater before finding a large cave of deeper water.

Ehlum's eidolon, an intelligent, extra-planar creature that shares a close bond with the summoner and is currently in the form of a two-headed dog-like beast, swims into the open cave. Its darkvision allows it to see a door on the other side of the pool of water. This impressive ability fails the creature, however, as it doesn't see the ripples in the water heading for it. A large shark splashes out of the water and attempts to take a large bite out of the hide of the eidolon. The beast just dodges the creature's attack. 

Back at the entrance to the area, Ehlum hears the beast tell him of the sea creature thanks to an active message cantrip. The summoner relays the information to the rest of the party, activates his bond senses ability to see through the eidolon's eyes, and starts towards the cave. Meanwhile the beast successfully bites the shark with both of its heads, doing a good amount of damage. The shark is powerful though, and it lunges through the water, brutally clamping its jaws down upon the eidolon's shoulder. The two creatures continue to trade blows, gnawing on each other as the rest of the party tries to join the fight.

As they move through the sea tunnel towards the fight in the cave, the party has trouble staying on their feet in the waist-high waters. Tribad the ninja is the first to make it to the cave, but isn't quick enough to save the beast from being torn apart and banished back to its home plane of existence. Unable to gain purchase on the cave walls to better use his bow, Tribad instead drops below the surface of the water delivers an arrow directly into the shark's gaping maw, finishing the sea-creature off instantly.

As the rest of the party catches up, they find that the door on the other side of the pool is barred from the other side. Wilster the magus begins hacking at the door, and Ehlum summons a small elemental to follow another tunnel under the water, leading out of the cave. The party finds a small 10' x 10' room on the other side of the door. On the floor is a skeletal corpse wearing armor and clutching a scroll in one hand. Upon inspecting the scroll, Wilster finds that it is a map of a jungle further up the coast, showing the way to the lost city of Tamoachan. Ehlum detects magic on the other side of the back wall, and upon searching Tribad finds a hidden door that opens to a room that is slightly bigger than the previous room. Inside are 3 chests filled with a lot of coin, gems, and valuable potions. Not able to swim out with the chests easily, the party collects the gems and potions, leaving the coin behind for now. When they are ready to head back out of the area, the summoned elemental returns to Ehlum and informs him that the underwater tunnel leads to the bay, indicating that this is how the shark entered the cave.
The party leaves the sea cave and heads for the unexplored tunnel. Craig, still suffering from a bunch of DEX damage, moves in first only to find another group of four ghouls occupying a side room. One of them is actually a former human cleric, Veldemar Krund, who is now a powerful, un-dead huecuva. Craig begins firing arrows and Wilster slashes with his scimitar, and together they quickly dispatch the first monster. 

Ehlum invokes the power of his suli-jann heritage and lightning begins to dance in his eyes, along the length of his arms, and to his morningstar. He recklessly charges one of the enemies, but his gambit pays off as he crushes the ghoul with three hits from his electrified weapon while the creature's own attacks are met with a shocking feedback. Steelheals the paladin, Zav Zod Zoz the rogue and Aichio the tengu witch stream in to attack the third ghoul, while Tribad and Wilster charge the huecuva.

The crew dispatches the final ghoul henchman, and everyone then joins Wilster and Tribad in fighting the huecuva. Wilster finishes off the huecuva using scorching ray. The Shining Scorpion party heals up and continues down the tunnel, which seems to end with another pool of water.

And that's it! Also, it's time to level up to 4. We'll be back next week, probably finishing off these secret sea caves and then heading back to Saltmarsh to divide the treasure.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Concluding The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and Moving On

We've been playing, but we haven't been posting. I'll start putting more detailed updates up at the end of the nights of our games, which are usually Wednesdays. For now, here is a rundown of everything that has happened since the last post and up to this point.

The Shining Scorpion adventuring crew ends up entering the house through the back door. They tangle with some giant centipedes on the first floor, a giant snake in a well outside, and then some giant spiders on the second floor. A few members end up taking a lot of poison damage, They do gain a small amount of treasure for their trouble, however, and they also come across another adventurer who has been hit in the back of the head and tied up. His name is Ted, and most of the group members don't really trust him. The group proceeds to investigate the attic, only to be attacked by a bunch of bloodbugs. They find a bit more treasure and then make their way to the basement. At the top of the stairs the Shining Scorpion party triggers another fear spell. It affects a few of the group, but they continue on their way. 

The house no longer seems haunted, and the party gets a feeling that the place has been set up specifically to scare people away. This is confirmed by a trap that they come across in the basement.