Tag: D&D (page 3 of 7)

Beyond the Vale: A Brief History, part 1

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast

The party of D&D characters I guide on Tuesday nights (who didn’t meet last night) is close to embarking upon a larger world. I’ve touched on some things they are likely to encounter as they leave the Nentir Vale in the larger world beyond, and I think it’s time I revise some of that historical and cultural background, so that it makes some sort of sense. My first attempt is available here, and as Ernest Hemingway reminds us, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Also, I’d like to put together an actual map of these places soon, so it’s on something other than graph paper. Anyway, here’s what I’ve laid down so far.

For several hundred years, the descendants of Nerath ruled every acre of land south of the Stonemarch and west of the Feystride. Founded on an unholy alliance of the churches of Asmodeus and Bane, their rule was an ironclad and thoroughly corrupt one. Lordlings, knights and princes all paid due homage to the crown, who in turn dispensed blessings and punishments seemingly on a whim.

Finally, the prince of Adamanton, the lord marshall of the Vale and the duke of Shoredale made entreaties to the dwarves, elves and eladrin, respectively. None of the bordering races were friends to the Empire and agreed to join the humans in overthrowing their unjust rulers. When the uprising began, a priest of Bane bundled up the Emperor’s children and fled across the sea, to the Imperial Colonies far to the west. While Bane’s word was to live to conquer another day, Asmodeus’ acolytes suggested the Emperor crush the rebellion immediately, rather than give up an iota of power. The Emperor had the lot of them killed. It is said this angered Asmodeus and caused the downfall of the first Empire, but Bane was already preoccupied with other plans.

With the Emperor slain and his forces scattered or surrendered, a brief conflict over succession followed. The other races withdrew at that point, and the prince of Adamanton won his crown. He was quick to establish lucrative trade agreements with the dwarves, arrangements for the eladrin to treat with his royal magicians and a non-agression pact with the various tribes of elves prevelant in the woods and the Vale. An uneasy peace followed…

Into the Nentir Vale: Part 9

Logo courtesy Wizards of the Coast

The Nentir Vale is a campaign setting provided to new players of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It’s present in the Red Box and most of the starting materials. For a party almost all completely new to D&D and a DM re-familiarizing himself with the latest edition, it’s a great place to start a campaign. This will be an ongoing recollection of what happens to the party as they make their way through the Nentir Vale. Enjoy.

Previously: Caravans & Standing Stones

The disorienting teleportation effect faded from the foursome and they found themselves in a dark, underground room lit by sconces and populated with goblins. A half-dozen, to be exact, with a couple vicious drakes in cages. Before any of them could move, however, Melanie was already preparing a spell to doom the diminutive greenskins.

“She does critical damage to TIME and SPACE!” – Eric, on Melanie’s initiative roll of 30.

The goblin in charge was Snilvor, an emissary from Irontooth, and he did his utmost to hex the party into submission. As they tore into his minions, however, he ordered the drakes released. The beasts were far more dangerous than their goblin handlers, but were poorly trained and hungry, snapping at anything with meat on it that wandered too close. Lyria alighted onto one of the cages and stabbed one before it could grab hold of a teammate rather than a goblin. Snilvor’s attempts to dominate members of the party failed, with Andrasian taking the brunt of the damage in the form of a skull-splitting headache.

While the minions were easily dispatched, Snilvor turned out to be something of an annoyance, avoiding close range with the adventurers while flinging his spells. An area on the raised dias in the room caused damage to all who entered it, pushing Andrasian to his limits. However, there was only so much room for Snilvor to use in his attempts to escape, and Lyria’s knives finally silenced the emissary.

“We live to suck another day!” – Mike, having nearly dropped to 0 HP during the fight.

Beyond the doors from that room was the workshop proper, a converted reflection hall in which the undead mage Yisarn had laid out the bones of a dragon. A glimmerweb spider crouched in the corner, and skeletal minions turned towards the interlopers. Upon stepping into the room, however, a trap was triggered and Krillorien fell into a pit, barely avoiding getting impaled by the spikes waiting for him. As Lyria ran along the wall to reach the other side, Andrasian took a running leap while Melanie slipped into the pit after the cleric of Pelor.

“Crap, one of these deflated. I’m using Ghost Hand to hold it up!” – Eric, on the damage done to Melanie’s ‘girls’

Despite their weakened state, the foursome put up a valiant fight against the undead. Krillorien’s divine light tore through the defenses of Yisarn’s minions, and Andrasian’s axe did the rest. Yisarn himself proved a difficult foe, lightning leaping from his skeletal hand and ice blasting across the room in focused shards. The good news was that in the confusion, the spider was unable to ensnare anyone with its bright, blinding webs. Without the stealth upon which it usually relied, it was a marginalized threat.

The party focused on Yisarn, taking down the undead mage before it could either kill them or awaken its dark experiment. After the unlife had left the bones wrapped in robes, they turned to the spider and chased it around the room in a scene reminiscent of their fight with Snilvor. While dangerous, it was still only a beast at the mercy of the four seasoned adventurers. After it was over, they gathered up what items of interest they could find.

Krillorien found a half-burnt holy symbol of Pelor. It looked familiar, but he was unable to place where he’d seen it before. Perhaps Marla of Fallcrest would know. Meanwhile, Melanie found a sack of gold, Andrasian uncovered a small handful of gems, and Lyria plucked a ring from the finger of Yisarn. It was a platinum ring with an obsidian inlay of a lightning bolt, but neither Melanie the wizard nor Krillorien the eladrin were able to determine its purpose. Weighing it in her hand, Lyria estimated it was worth over three hundred gold.

“Wait! How does she know what it’s worth but we don’t know what it does?”
“I’m a fence! … I mean…” – Ben and Danielle on the failed Arcana rolls and Lyria’s ability to appraise

The party took time to rest. They needed to return to the Woodsingers to report on their success, and pray that they would not be too late to save the Harkenwold from the Iron Circle…

Next: The Battle of Albridge

All locations, NPCs, spells and equipment copyright Wizards of the Coast unless otherwise noted.

Into the Nentir Vale, Part 8

Logo courtesy Wizards of the Coast

The Nentir Vale is a campaign setting provided to new players of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It’s present in the Red Box and most of the starting materials. For a party almost all completely new to D&D and a DM re-familiarizing himself with the latest edition, it’s a great place to start a campaign. This will be an ongoing recollection of what happens to the party as they make their way through the Nentir Vale. Enjoy.

Previously: The Resistance Grows

In the wake of the brawl, the four adventurers are directed to the livery in the northern part of Albridge. There they finally meet Dar Gramath, the de facto leader of the resistance against the Iron Circle. Faced with needing to organize his people into an armed resistance, Dar Gramath suggested to the heroes that interdicting some of the supply runs taking place across the Harkenwold would disrupt Iron Circle operations and distract them from what were, essentially, troop movements. The party was in favor of this plan, especially Lyria.

“I come from a long line of…”
“… grizzlies!”
– Danielle, Mike & Ben on Lyria’s lineage

The supply routes used by the Iron Circle are known to Dar Gramath, but nobody has undertaken operations against the mercenaries due to fear of reprisal against their families. The foursome of outsiders, on the other hand, have no such concerns and plan an ambush. The chosen area has some standing stones by the side of the road, making for excellent cover. As Lyria and Andrasian adeptly get into position on top of the stones, Krillorien gives Melanie a boost, only to have her slip and fall on top of him.

“I like this plan.”
“Try again.”
“wait, no, give me a second down here…”
– Mike and Ben after Ben fails his roll and gets a face full of Melanie’s good melons

After surviving his vision of marshmallow hell, Krillorien gets Melanie in position and gets into a hiding place himself.

Ben was a little confused on skill rolls, Danielle tried to explain:
“Say you have to roll dungeoneering for something.”
“‘You have to roll dungeoneering for something.'”
“Say you have to do that.”
“‘You have to do that.'”

The caravan came into sight after a short wait. It was a single horse-drawn cart flanked by Iron Circle soldiers and lead by a hound-like construct. It did not catch the scent of the party, and they set upon the caravan before the dark adept sitting beside the cart’s driver knew what was happening. The horse was freed from its restraints and bolted down the path a bit as the fighting ensued. Melanie needed a moment to gather her wits for spellcasting after taking a bad step off of the ledge she’d been hiding on.

“You must have popped a lung when you landed on your boobs.” – Ben

It wasn’t long before Melanie’s spells took their toll upon the Iron Circle.

“My bosoms emit a phantasmal energy!” – Eric

With the guardians of the cargo dead, the party claimed it for themselves. They also took ownership of the horse, debating whether to cede it to Dar Gramath or keep it as well.

“You can ride it back,” Krillorien told Melanie, “as long as you don’t ride side-saddle.”

“No problem!” Melanie favored the men with a smile as Lyria rolled her eyes.

“I don’t think you’re talking about the same thing anymore.”

They returned to Albridge to discover that, thanks to their distraction, Dar Gramath had contacted Tor’s Hold to begin organizing those willing to fight the Iron Circle. However, to ensure that all of the Harkenwold would rise up against the oppressors, they would need the allgiance of the Woodsinger elves living deep in the forest. Andrasian did not like this turn of events; it’s possible he and his family do not get along for some reason.

The Woodsingers are a cagey, xenophobic tribe, and were unwilling to join up with the others within the Harkenwold facing Iron Circle rule without proof that their sacrifice was warranted. To prove their good faith, the adventurers were charged with destroying an ancient evil within the forest. A travelling cleric from elsewhere in the Nentir Vale, who matched the description of Malareth, had been seen in the wood near ancient standing stones serving as the entry to a forgotten elven city. The only way in involved a vial of green dragon’s blood and the name of the city.

With this information, the party made their way to the standing stones. Goblin minions bearing the mark of Irontooth slept nearby in a broken-down cart as large spiders roamed the canopies of the trees. Sneaking through the underbrush, Andrasian poured the blood onto the plinth and spoke the name of the city, and the party found themselves whisked away by ancient, arcane means…

Next: Dal Nystiere

All locations, NPCs, spells and equipment copyright Wizards of the Coast unless otherwise noted.

Back On Track


The holidays can throw everybody for a loop. I’m no different. Travel schedules, inclement weather and other factors unique to this time of year tend to play havoc with routines and timetables. Things have started to normalize a bit and it’s time I took a bit of stock of where I am now and where I’m heading.


Citizen in the Wilds is out for test reading. I’m eager to get some reaction and feedback, even if it takes the form of “CHANGE EVERYTHING ‘CAUSE IT SUCKS.” I’ve started compiling and expanding some notes I’ve jotted down on the next Acradea book. I’m going to edit The Jovian Gambit for this Saturday’s Free Fiction, and after that? I’m not sure. Possibly a hard-boiled Cthulhu detective story in the style of C.J. Hendersen, or perhaps a sequel to Akuma. I’m also getting back in the habit of writing for my Warcraft characters, both on forums and in the game proper.


The feedback on the first ICFN video has been generally positive, if somewhat cautious. I’m somewhat trepidatious myself, if I’m honest. I think I’m going to shoot for a new video every month and traditional audio enties in the intervening weeks. The poll will return for those audio entries, and as for the videos, I have a few films in mind. Stay tuned.

Dungeons & Dragons

Everybody in the group’s been a little off their game, no pun intended. We’ll be resuming our normal schedule of Tuesday night games, which means I’ll be returning to posting the adventures (or misadventures) of Andrasian, Krillorien, Lyria and Melanie on Tuesday afternoons. After this current printed advneture (Reavers of Harkenwold from the Dungeon Master Kit) I may move them into homegrown content rather than shoehorning Caern of the Winter King from the Monster Vault into the campaign. Or Wizards might have worked a smooth transition in already. More to come on this.

Magic: the Gathering

The local comic/gaming store has free casual play on Thursday nights, $5 FNM events on Fridays and special events like previews of the upcoming expansion Mirrodin Besieged. Attending paid events is a matter of my entertainment budget, and considering it’s something I enjoy alone and the entertainment budget must cover activies for both my wife and myself, it’s hard for me to justify the expense at this time. And I tend to watch my ICFN audio entries the Thursday night before I post the review. There’s simply not enough time, usually. Again, more to come.

World of Warcraft

Cataclysm has rekindled my interest and enjoyment of this game even more than I’d expected. Between the new areas, the promise of dungeons being challenging again (until the next nerf hits) and the resurgence of interaction with guild mates, this game is the other reason I’ll likely have less time for other activities. However, since I play it with my wife as we have since we’ve met, it’s a much more comfortable expense to work into our slender budget.

Classholes Anonymous Podcast

This is more dependant on Black Eagle’s band schedule than anything else.

This Blog

I plan to keep updating every day. Sometimes I’ll have a notion in mind for days before I post it, and some days – like today – I’m stumped up until lunchtime. Comes from everything else on this list as well as the day job and the other responsibilities of adulthood, I guess.

Until I rebel.

Courtesy Hyperbole and a Half

Truly Forgotten Realms, Part 2

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast

Continuing an examination of the many campaign worlds of Dungeons & Dragons.


The world of Krynn feels eerily similar to Faerûn, though in the case of Krynn the novels came before the setting. It was dreamed up by Laura & Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, and features a well-storied history and geography along with a very successful trilogy of novels (Chronicles) at its core. I never felt quite right playing in Dragonlance, though. I always felt like no matter what I did, I’d be playing second fiddle to the likes of Tanis and Raistlin.


With Dungeons & Dragons as a foundation, Ravenloft is where Castlevania meets the World of Darkness. No character is above corruption, but even a fallen hero is someone to whom the innocent can appeal for help with vampiric overlords. It makes for an interesting change of pace from the more traditional “high” fantasy settings of D&D, but I’ve never really invested in a full campaign here. I think it’d quickly become a dark, dismal affair. Not to say that dark, dismal campaigns aren’t fun… I was once in a Forgotten Realms campaign set during the War of the Spider Queen with all of the characters (including myself) being drow or drow-related. Dark? Yes. Fun? Hells yes.

Dark Sun

Here’s a campaign world I’d like to spend more time in, especially given the new life it’s received in the latest edition. D&D took a stab at a world with a bit of the old Arabian Nights flavor called Al-Qadim once, but it didn’t have quite the hook that Dark Sun does. The world is dying, magic is feared, sorcerer-kings plot and scheme to maintain their power and what heroes remain are in for a struggle even if they choose to move from one settlement to another. I hear nothing but good things, and while I’ve never yet entered this dying world, it holds a lot of appeal for me.


I miss this campaign world. While Sigil and many of the other aspects of this setting have been folded into the Manual of the Planes, setting an entire campaign in and around the City of Doors takes a lot more legwork than it used to. Still, if you want to cast the players as nomads either doing good throughout the planes or seeking plunder from disparate worlds for some purpose, this is the way to do it. Just don’t ever, ever cross the Lady of Pain.


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