Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode XIII - Land of Confusion

Image result for hedge maze d&dLost and confused. It was in this state that our persistent heroes wandered about the hedge maze. Xonthal's Tower, their destination, was visible just ahead. Or was it behind? Or  . . . wait. It was just over there, but . . . so hopelessly lost.

A sun dial at the center of the maze gave them hope. Well, at least initially. For, as they expected, the paths leading away from the sun dial, did not lead where they expected. Shadows on the dial pointed this way and that, but no sense could be made of the cryptic device. 
After wandering for hours (or was it days) the fatigued little rabble did make some progress . . . sort of. Finding themselves in various distinct clearings within the maze, they collected several intriguing gems by accomplishing various tasks and odd puzzles. What puzzles and tasks? Well, Oloril won a boulder throwing contest against an ogre. The entire crew put on a comedy act. Mullyn fed the starving children. Okay, and now it gets weird - they even encountered a second Killian. Yes, that's right. Another one. As if one wasn't enough?
With their new comrade, Killian II, they compiled their thoughts and formulated their plans. Maybe if they placed the gems on the sun dial . . . in all the rights places. Yes, of course! That was the key! With great care, the gemstones were placed in their alloted sections of the sundial. And then . . . the shimmering stones dissappeared into the dial. Gone.
Frustrated, and after watching the same vanishing act happen to his sword when he placed in on the dial, Killian launched himself onto the device. Maybe something interesting would happen. Maybe the items had teleported, and not dissappeared. Hey, if he was wrong, there was another Killian to spare! However, the barbarian was quickly joined by his comrades on the dial. And why not? What did they have to lose? Killian II would remain behind to guard their exit . . . or be the lone survivor to recount the tale of their demise.
Thankfully, the party found themselves transported to another maze. Haha! They had eluded disaster yet again. On the ground in front of them lie all the gems they had placed on the dial. Among them (thank the dear lord) was Killian's sword. We can't have him lose that . . . again! But of even greater significance, Xonthal's tower lie only a short distance away down an unobstructed path. New challenges would await . . .

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - The Fighting Forces

With the decision by the Council of Waterdeep to confront the cult and marshal their combined forces, the stage is set for the final confrontation. Here are the known fighting forces for both sides as it stands now:

Alliance Forces
Cult Forces (Known)
The party
Wyrmspeakers, Cult wizards and clerics
Skyreach Castle
Draakhorn, Dragon Masks, Well of Dragons
Storm giants
Hill giants, Cyclops, Ettins, Trolls, Golems, Ogres
Arcane Brotherhood
Exiled Red Wizards of Thay and their undead
Lord Volmer’s devils
Cult Allied Devils
Water Elemental army
Fire elementals, Mephits
Metallic Dragons
Chromatic Dragons, Wyverns, Half-dragons
Remallia Haventree – Harper mages and scouts
Yugoloths (Arcanaloths, Mezzoloths, Nycaloths, Ultroloths)
Ontharr Frume – Paladins and healing clerics
Ettercaps, Giant Spiders
Delaan Winterhound – Druids, treants, lycanthropes
Lady Silverhand - Waterdeep’s Army & conscript troops
Mercenaries, Doppelgangers
Lord Neverember – Neverwitner conscript troops, mercenaries
Dragonclaws, dragonwings, dragonfangs, dragonsouls
Ambassador Brawnanvil – Dwarven soldiers and dwarf-forged armaments and siege weapons
Hobgoblin and Goblin army
Marshall Ulder Ravengard – Flaming Fist warriors and expert advisers to train conscript troops
Orc army
King Melandrach – Elven eldritch knights
Bugbear army
Taern Hornblade – Army of Silverymoon (Knights of Silver) and Silverymoon conscript troops
Gnoll army
Sir isteval – Purple Dragon Knights and War Wizards
Kobold army


Rise of Tiamat - Episode XII - Unity!

The party, having successfully negotiated an alliance with the five metallic dragon races, returns to Waterdeep, once again riding on the backs of dragons. The ancient silver dragon, in her human form, attends the council (which has a new addition - Mr. Silvergleaming) with the party to inform them of the terms of the alliance. The council is overjoyed at the news... until they learn about the concessions the party made. 33% of the treasure, public apologies for ancient wrongs by the dwarves and the elves, turning over the dragon masks, and (worst of all) the party granted control of a key piece of land between Waterdeep and Baldur's Gate to the bronze dragons. Ultimately, the council knows the good outweighs the bad and accept the terms of the bargain.

The adventurers then relate the rest of their many adventures since their last meeting with the council (see everything from Rise of Tiamat Episode III until to now). The council is extremely impressed and grateful for all the party has done. It seems that the party has offered some hope of the factions putting aside their own interests and petty squabbling to unite against the cult. The council retires to deliberate. They will summon the party when they have reached a decision.

Roscoe, Oloril, and Mullyn are reunited with their new air genasi wives and establish households for them. Oloril's new house is next to Mullyn's, much to Mullyn's chagrin. Dain is reunited with his wife and infant son and spends a great deal of time with them.

Udofire, Oloril's father, stops by for a visit and offers to throw an extravagant wedding celebration for his son. This raises Oloril's suspicions because this is uncharacteristically fatherly. They haul Udofire before Lucien and Bardu, who divine that Udofire is, in fact, a doppelganger charge with extremely powerful magic. The real Udofire stands revealed as the Great Deceiver and Lucien's sight is returned upon the successful completion of his holy quest.

The characters are then summoned back to the council who has reached their decision. All factions vote in full confidence of the party and stand united, pledging the resources at their disposal to fight the cult!

The party is then informed of the chance to prevent the final battle before it begins - a rogue cultist has made contact with the council claiming to be in possession of the blue dragon mask. If the heroes can recover it, they could potentially thrwart the cult's plans entirely! The party teleports back to the hunting lodge near the destroyed town of Parnast and travels to the mysterious and magical Xonthal's Tower!

Rise of Tiamat - Episode XI - Dragonriders!

The party returns to Waterdeep where Lady Silverhand meets them and promptly tells them they have a extremely important quest - to attend a meeting of the five metallic dragon races. The party's goal is to persuade the dragons to act in concert with the humanoid factions rather than on their own. The party is introduced to three humanoids who transform into an ancient silver dragon, an adult gold dragon, and a bronze dragon. The party has been granted the boon of riding the dragons to the meeting of the dragons and they set off at once.

During the second day of travel, the chromatic dragons and dragon riders emerge from the clouds and strike! The cult is trying to stop the heroes! With the stakes high, the heroes fearlessly engage the adult red, adult blue, and ancient white dragons and their cult riders, including Galvan the Blue Wyrmspeaker. The aerial battle is epic, with powerful breath weapons and spells being deployed by both sides. When the blue Wyrmspeaker falls, the blue dragon exits the fray, giving the advantage to the heroes. When the heroes slay the ancient white dragon, the red dragon quickly flees, allowing the heroes to proceed on toward the dragon council.

Once there, the heroes are brought before five ancient dragons, one for each metallic dragon race. The party listens as each dragon explains what it thinks is the wisest course of action. Initially, most of the dragons are in favor of independent action without the humanoids. There were some rough moments (like when Dain is accused of being a thief), but through the wise use of diplomacy, concessions, and, let's face it, bribery, the party slowly sways the mood of the dragons.

Ultimately, the dragons vote to ally themselves with the humanoids in fighting the evil dragon cult. Additionally, the party will be able to assign one flight of each color metallic dragon to protect human settlements or otherwise assist the factions prior to the final battle.

In fact, the party has so successfully swayed the dragons that they are each granted one magical item from an ancient dragon's personal magical hoard. Mullyn is given an incredibly powerful staff of power. Dain is giving a Dwarven Thrower; Roscoe is given Glamoured Studded Leather +2; and Oloril is giving a Manual of Quickness of Action (to replace the one unfairly used by Kaelthiros), a arrow of blue dragon slaying, and the head of the ancient white dragon, Aveiturace, who fell in the aerial combat.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode X - Snipper Strikes

Roscoe rejoins the party and attempts to open the tower door, and succeeds. Inside, devils assail them from all around. The party defeats them, although Dain falls. The party ascends the tower.  Finally, they encounter Lord Diamond and Sorrowswallow. Oloril attempts to place Sorrowswallow in the bag of holding, but it releases psychic damage knocking all but Mullyn to the ground.

In a last great effort, the party captures Lord Diamond and takes the talkative Sorrowswallow. Once the party escapes with both, they meet Nulara and Lord Valmlor.   The cauldron is given to Lord Valmor and Nulara, as an envoy for the demon lord, makes contact with the council on their behalf.

Mullyn receives a message to go to Baldur's Gate. They are to test the town's resoluteness against the cult, and then proceed to the Misty Forrest and the report back. They also discover that Dain's soul is bound to the Underdark.

They arrive in Baldur's Gate and resurrect Dain. Lord Diamond is turned in to the authorities, and the party sets up a meeting with the Council. At the meeting, Rivatra, a known adventurer, reaffirms the town's dedication to destroying the cult. During the speech, many council members are assassinated by the infamous Snipper - who also severely injures Mullyn. Oddly, he seems to recognize Mullyn. After doing his damage, he disappears from sight . . .

Friday, July 1, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode IX - Into the Keep

Off the party intends  to confront Lord Diamond in Eriabor. They teleport to Greenest with plans to walk the rest of the way. They land 100 miles away . . . The next day, they teleport successfully to Greenest. On horseback, they head to Eriabor. After arrival, Mullyn and Killian investigate the town to determine the location of Lord Diamond and the Cauldron. They determine his location, and discover that Diamond has not been seen for days.

At night, the party sneaks behind the keep. Upon crossing the fence, an alarm sounds and the party begins to fall  . . . upwards. Mullyn flies stopping his fall. The rest of the party continues their rapid ascent. Eventually, they begin to fall to the ground. At the last minute, Mullyn teleports them to (relative) safety.

Nights later, they fly across and land on the castle balcony. Inside the castle, they are attacked by guards. Quick work is made of the defenders, and the party proceeds to the basement. The enemies there are obliterated.

The next target our heroes choose is a nearby tower.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode VIII - Vision of Death

Another enemy has evaded defeat. Skywalker assists the party collect Jolnur's treasure, and the party escorts Skywalker and the villagers through the portal - following closely behind. On the other side, at the Hunting Lodge, the party is greeted by the sight of the Farseer.

Immediately, they prepare themselves to take the Farseer through the underwater path to the tower. Oloril and Myllyn transport the Farkeeper to a sanctuary where they are able to determine the location of the impending cataclysm - Alvator's Hidden Sanctuary, under the Sea of Swords near Candlekeep.

Killian and Dain return to Waterdeep to report and to the Council and witness the birth of Fal'lel Battlehammer, Dain's son.

The party regroups at the lodge and enters the icy teleportation circle to discover several dragons circling the Palace of Burning Ice. Wisely, they quickly teleport out and return to base. They send a message to Bardu alerting them to this information, and then teleport to Candlekeep. Hiring a ship and crew, they set out on the Sea of Swords.

They find their mark, Killian detecting a half-elf and man made structures deep below the surface. Down they go. On the bottom they make passage through a large opaque wall into the presence of a large undersea castle. They enter. And meet Alvator, the half elf. Welcomed warmly, they rest the night in the submarine abode.

In the morning he suggests that the party needs to work to unify the counsel. Mistrusts must be overcome. Alvator allows the party to scry through an orb - which allows them to see the well of dragons. They see a caldera in a temple. The Greypeak mountains are blighted.  Dragon flights, patrols of hill giants, legions of devils, encampments of mercenaries, cultist troops, red wizards guard the temple. It is a bleak vision. Alvator explains that the party will die, but they can use this to their advantage.

With this in mind, the party returns to base.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode VII - Jolnur the Elusive

 The party finds itself with a dead companion and a burning hatred for the elusive blue dragon, Jolnur. The first step they take is to search for traces of their enemy. Along their way they encounter a large group of over-sized scorpions in a large cavern. With Killian leading the assault, the group engages in heated battle, Without issue, the arachnids are slaughtered.

The room now cleared, a shaft is visible 40 feet above. Light shines down. With the help of Oloril's magical tower and some rope, making their way out is a simple task. Above, no sign of the dragon can be detected. They climb to the top of a nearby mountain, but still gain to indication of their nemesis.

They do, however, see a vulture fly towards them, and transform into a genasi. The genasi introduces himself, quite arrogantly, as Skywalker. Returning to the cave, Skywalker prepares a feast (from somewhere) that greatly strengthens the heroes. Still no sign of the dragon - even after many hours of searching.

Finally, Mullyn casts a spell locating the dragon. It is less than 1,000 ft away in the direction of the village. They march forward . .  and meet it. Then, taunting the group from the mountain, the dragon then disappears and appears behind them - spewing lightning breath on Oloril! The battle commences!

The battle is grueling. The party attacks fiercely, slashing away at the dragons strength. But the dragon flees to its lair, summoning air elementals and ahnkeg in its wake. A skirmish ensues, wasting precious time.

They clear the hoard and re-engage the dragon . . . who escapes, yet again.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode VI - The Blue Dragon

So, what have our heroes been up to? Well, they made it back to the Council (sans Varam) and reported what knowledge they had discovered. Whilst with the Council, they discovered a traitor in their midst - a relatively unknown little fellow named Pip. Pip, however, killed himself as soon as he was discovered. Do other traitors to the cause of righteousness infect the Council? Perhaps even those close to the party? We shall see.

In the meanwhile, the party is given various tasks to thwart Tiamat's plan. They return to the Lodge to prepare the way, and free villagers from the grasp of the cult. Once that is done, they set out to test the remaining unexplored portals.

The first portal takes them to a sand village filled with cultists. The party artfully eliminates all the opposition, and receive gifts (and wives) from the grateful tribesman. Then, hearing of a blue dragon, our group hunts it down and engages it in battle. While they did manage to severly wound it, the dragon escaspes their grasp - and not without a price. Poor Roscoe, is dead.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode V - What of Veram?

The party located Veram in the underground complex, about to be sacrificed by a serpent like people. Killian was able to exchange his father's sword for Veram. A heavy price, but worth it f they could gather intelligence from their captive. Oloril seemed to have other ideas, however, nearly killing Veram. Questionable? Yes. Out of character for Oloril? Not necessarily. Roscoe made a strange request of Veram, asking him if there was something he wanted to show him? A symbol or badge of allegiance perhaps? Odd indeed.

Needless to say the party was attacked on their way back to Waterdeep - by a dragon. And, as fate would have it, Veram was stolen away. Was anything gained from Killian's exchange? Perhaps not . . .

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode IV - The Search for Wisdom

Making their way out of Scornubal, our heroes ventured North to the small town of Subar. There they were informed that a dwarf matching Veram's description had ventured into the Serpent Hills with a dozen or so companions. This was welcome news to our little band. They traveled hastily toward the Serpent Hills, where they came across what appeared to be a ruin of an old town.

In the abandoned area, several graves were found. After digging two of them up, the group discovered the bodies of two of Veram's companions - one lacerated with a thousand magical cuts and the other burned to a crisp. More searching and the party discovered two giant stone colossi. When approached, one of the stone collosi asked the party if they sought wisdom or knowledge. Caught off gaurd, Killian whispered a suggestion to Dain, "Wisdom." For better or for worse, the colossus took Killian's covert proposal as the final answer. So, with the permission of the colossi, the party made it's way forward into a narrow crevasse. Perhaps this "wisdom", should they find it, would lead them to Veram.

The passageway led to a series of rooms in which they ecountered many strange obstacles, including a magical mosaic chimera, trolls, a large white-bearded humanoid on an oversized throne, and a table populated by otherworldly devils.

When they came to what appeared to be the last room, the party noticed a divination pool filled with some kind of liquid. Could it hold the wisdom they sought? Would it give them insight into the whereabouts of Veram the White? Well, at the suggestion of Mullyn and Dain, Killian peered downward into the shimmering depths - this was not good. For, as soon as he did so, he became seemingly possessed, attacking the party and floating through the air. Quite the spectacle.

Thankfully, Mullyn dispelled whatever foul nonsense controlled the barbarian. The pool was clearly not the answer . . . but what was?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Creatures Encountered List - Third Update

Here's a up-to-date, cumulative, and comprehensive list of all of the villains, bad guys, monsters, and creatures the party has encountered and/or fought since the beginning of level 1:

Adult Blue Dragon
Adult Red Dragon
Adult Black Dragon
Ambush Drakes
Ash Zombie
Bullywugs (including Pharblex Spattergoo)
Cloud Giants (didn't fight)
Commoners (innocent and not innocent villagers)
Cultists of various ranks
Cultists (Named): Favric, Rezmir, Frulam Mondath, Langdedrosa Cyanwrath, Dralmorrer Borngray, cult ally Captain Othelstan, and encountered but did not fight Talis the White)
Death Tyrant
Dragon Eggs (Red, White, and Black)
Evil Mage
Flame Elemental (didn't fight)
Flesh Golems
Giant Bat
Giant Boar
Giant Centipedes
Giant Frogs
Giant Lizards
Giant Spiders
Gray Ooze
Guard Drakes
Half-Dragon (Blue and Black)
Helmed Horror
Hobgoblin Captains
Hobgoblin Warlord
Kuo-Toa Archpriest
Kuo-Toa Whip
Ochre Jelly
Redbrand Ruffian
Red Wizards of Thay (Azbara Jos and Rath Modar)
Stone Golem
Swarms of Bats
Swarms of Rats
Swarms of Centipedes
Vampire Spawn
Violet Fungi
Will-O-Wisps (didn't fight)
Winged Kobolds
Young Green Dragon
Young White Dragon
Yuan-ti Malisons
Yuan-ti Purebloods

That list keeps getting longer and longer! What a variety of villainy vanquished by our voyagers! Have we exhausted the endless variety of the monster manual? NO! But even at level 12, the party can still be sent running to the hills by stirges! Beware the stirges!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rise of Tiamat - Episode III - The Sorcerer and the White Dwarf

After pilfering their weasly black guts out, the party continued their search of the icy subterrane. It was not long before they encoutered a group of scholarly frost toads who had evidently taken it upon themselves to document a detailed history of the great white dragon, Arathator. Through conversation with these bookish amphibians, our heroes leaned that the Drachorn, once owned by Arathator, was traded to a group of men dressed in black not long ago. Not only this, but allegedly McCaff the Crimson was residing on this very glacier!

Thankfully, without much trouble, the long lost sorcerer was located. After the group persuaded her to accompany them back to Waterdeep, they convinced the Frost Toads to come along - with their invaluable draconic tomes! Marflub was delighted to know his life's work was to be published!

And so, the council of Waterdeep warmly welcomed our adventures' return. Much had been learned by the council in the party's absence, however. Leosin advised the group that a Zhentarim thief had stolen a white dragon mask from a Dwarf named Varram the White - a dragonspeaker! This Dwarf was last seen near Bariskyr Bridge. There was no time to waste. Leosin gave the party a pass to use a teleportation circle leading to Scornuble, and tasked our intrepid lot with capturing or killing the dragonspeaker.

Rise of Tiamat - Episode II - The Demise of Arathator

The party quickly found a ship, the Frostskimmer, captained by Larista Half-Face. For days they sailed the icy sea in search of any clue that could guide them. Killian, using an old ritual, took an opportunity to commune with the natural world around him. It was through this that he learned of a populated iceberg nearby.

Upon reaching the iceberg, the group encountered a small village of native. Although not too friendly, Killian questioned the local chief how best to demonstrate their good intentions and earn the respect of the village. The answer was to best their greatest warrior in combat. A challenge gladly accepted by the young Killian.

It was a quick duel. Killian bested his opponent with little effort. Now, having earned the respect of the village, they were given shelter for the night. During the night the local shaman visited the party and informed them that an evil white dragon, Arathator, and his mate were nearby. He led them to a secret tunnel that would take them to their foe and possibly the Tiefling they sought, but warned them of the dangers that lie ahead.

Sure enough, the encountered Arathator in the depths of the icy cavern. Now was the time when the newest members of the party demonstrated their calibur. Killian grappled the great beast with his bare hands - crikey! While the rest of the group took the opportunity to assault the beast, Roscoe, a halfling who had joined the party in the underdark, used a relic to summon a giant flame elemental. After much ado, Arathator was nothing but ash.

Rise of Tiamat - Episode I - The Darkkorn Calls

The return to Waterdeep was bittersweet. Kaelthiros could not be resurrected, and there was no hope of bringing back Murry. Gundren sought out some much needed recouperation, and Mullyn rejoined the party.

Moments later, the city square in which they stood was invaded by a band of cultists led by none other than the long-forgotten Redbrand, Frank. During their skirmish with these opponents, the party encountered a new ally - a young tribesman native to the area North of the Greypeak Mountains named Killian Wolfrunner. After the cultists fled, Killian explained that his people had sought refuge in Waterdeep after being driven from their land. The party accepted his request to join the party.

The introduction was short-lived however, a great disturbance was felt in the very fabric of nature - a breeze, and a strange silence overtook them all. Strange. The party took the now-polymorphed Frank (thanks Mullyn) to the council of Waterdeep to see what could be learned. It was soon discovered that a relic named the Darkkorn had been blown, calling all dragons towards it. An ill change of fate indeed. The council informed our adventurers that the Drachorn was last seen with a Tiefling who was part of the Arcane Brotherhood, McCaff the Crimson. She was last seen in the Sea of Moving Ice. And that is where they would go.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Aftermath - Episode XII - The End of an Era

There was one chance to save Gundren from being sacrificed: to complete a task for the Kuo-toa tribe which held them captive. Specifically, they were to kill an evil one-eyed creature and retrieve a magical staff. Should those objectives be achieved the Kuo-toa would create a teleportation circle for the party to exit the Underdark with Gundren.

Through various trials and winding tunnels the party traveled, until they came upon a large golden portal suspended in mid air. On the other side, in an enclosed arena, a Death Tyrant waited for them, guarding a magical staff. It was there that our heroes made their stand. The Death Tyrant finally fell - but not alone. Kaelthiros and Murry both had been reduced to little more than a pile of dust by great beams shot from the Tyrant’s eye stalks.

The ashes of Murry had been sucked back into the now-sealed bottle to which he had been attached - immovable and unbreakable. However, Dain was able to pocket some of the ranger’s ashes. Perhaps he could still be resurrected . . . time would tell.

The remnant traveled back to the Kuo-toa tribal village with proof of their deed, and the magical staff in hand. True to their word, The Kuo-toa allowed the party to exit the Underdark with Gundren.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Aftermath - Episode XI - To Gundren

Our heroes battled many foes, pressed on through magical darkness, and suffered mental distortion and influence from some unknown source. Oh, and Murry is attached to a genie's bottle. Now, here they sit. Captives in the Underdark. Prisoners of a mysterious underground amphibious race. With their arms and feet bound, our heroes stare straight ahead, viewing the long lost Gundren atop a stone altar. Will they manage escape and rescue their dwarven ally from being sacrificed? Or, will some terrible tragedy befall them?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Aftermath - Episode X - Return to Wave Echo Cave

Having defeated two young dragons in Thundertree, our party returned to Phandolin to speak with Yennon Thorton. Onece they arrived, Yennon tasked them with locating the forge in the now-open Wave Echo Cave. The team was led by a halfling named Snipper (who apparently can walk on ceilings with his boots). While they discovered the forge shattered beyond repair, they discovered traces of Gundren - signs that he may yet live!

Our heroes followed the signs deep into the cavern, fighting a water genie along the way. Will they find Gundren as they travel deeper? Time will tell . . .

Saturday, January 9, 2016

DM's Note: Daern's Instant Fortress - A Complete User's Guide

Last gaming session, the characters discovered the rare magical item, Daern's Instant Fortress in a white dragon's hoard. The player's jaws dropped as I read the description:
You can use an action to place this 1-inch metal cube on the ground and speak its command word. The cube rapidly grows into a fortress that remains until you use an action to speak the command word that dismisses it, which works only if the fortress is empty. 
The fortress is a square tower, 20 feet on a side and 30 feet high, with arrows slits on all sides and a battlement atop it. Its interior is divided into two floors, with a ladder running along one wall to connect them. The ladder ends at a trapdoor leading to the roof. When activated, the tower has a small door on the side facing you. The door opens only at your command, which you can speak as a bonus action. It is immune to the knock spell and similar magic, such as that of a chime of opening.
Each creature in the area where the fortress appears must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 10d10 bludgeoning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. In either case, the creature is pushed to an unoccupied space outside but next to the fortress. Objects in the area that aren't being worn or carried take this damaged and are pushed automatically.
The tower is made of adamantine, and its magic prevents it from being tipped over. The roof, the door, and the walls each have 100 hit points, immunity to damage from nonmagical weapons excluding siege weapons, and resistance to all other damage. Only a wish spell can repair the fortress (this use of the spell counts as replicating a spell of 8th level or lower). Each casting of wish causes the roof, the door, or one wall or regain 50 hit points.
 Now, that might seem pretty straight forward... but I think it leaves a lot of room for elaboration, particularly since this magical item is incredibly powerful. See my DM rulings below:
  • How does placing the cube work and how does it enlarge? The cube must be placed on solid ground in an adjacent square to the possessor. When the command word is spoken, the cube will grow to full height instantly, during the activator's turn. It enlarges in a predictable pattern: The door faces the activator in the space where the shrunken tower was activated. The tower extends 5' to the left of the door, 10' to the right of the door, and the far wall of the tower is 20' away from the door. If unmovable barriers (such as a cave ceiling or walls) would prevent the full growth of the fortress, it does not enlarge at all.  
  • Who is the "you" referenced in the description? Attunement isn't necessary to operate this magical item. But clearly the description references a "you" as the sole operator of the fortress. It wouldn't do much good to have an unbreakable door if anyone who overhears the door's command word could open it. The "you" referenced in the description is the character that initially activated the fortress by using an action to speak it's command word. As long as the tower is enlarged, the activator remains the only person able to control the doors and shrink the tower.
  • Does the fortress need to be 100% empty for it to shrink? Yes. No living or nonliving objects can be inside of it... but we're not going to go crazy with this idea, either. If a mosquito flies in one of the arrow slits and stays inside the fortress will still shrink. 
  • Who can open and close the door and the trap door? The description clearly states that ONLY the activator can open the door by speaking the door's command word using a bonus action. This also applies to the trap door in the roof as well. Speaking the command word is necessary to open either door when entering and exiting. Anyone can close the doors (both of which open out, by the way).
  • Arrow slits? How many? Where? The fortress has eight arrow slits - two centrally located on each side and only on the second floor. 
  • How does firing from an arrow slot work? Firing through an arrow slot restricts the angles the attacker can see targets to a 90o cone shape. The attacker cannot fire on targets directly adjacent to the fortress.
  • Is there a defensive bonus from arrow slots? Enemies outside the tower can attempt to attack through an arrow slit. Arrow slits provide 3/4 cover, granting +5 to AC and Dexterity saving throws. Spells that rely on line of sight can also be cast through an arrow slit.
  • What is the defensive bonus from crenellations? Within each 5' square a character can decide if they are fully behind the merlons (the solid portion) or the crenels (the gap) at any point in their turn. Crenels gives 1/2 cover from attacks outside the tower which gives +2 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws. Merlons grant total cover from attacks outside the tower, preventing the character behind a merlon from being targeted with attacks.
  • How does the ladder work? Climbing the ladder requires no roll but every 5' counts as 10' of movement.  
  • How can the tower be damaged? The description notes that the tower has immunity to "damage from nonmagical weapons." The tower's resistance to all other damage is applied to magical weapons, siege weapons, spells, breath weapons, spell-like effects or other non-weapon attacks.

Friday, January 8, 2016

DM's Note: Building Daern's Instant Fortress

So, last gaming session, the players found the rare and powerful magical item, Daern's Instant Fortress. DM problem... how to make this thing a reality on the gaming table. I just know this thing is going to be used in combat on the grid. So I decided to make a practical Daern's Instant Fortress.

First step, making the descriptive text a reality. I did some quick sketches based on the description of the item and the picture in the DMG. Placement of doors, arrow slits, the ladder, and trap door had to be worked out.

Daern's Instant Fortress
Next, I gathered supplies. I figured I would want the model to be more practical than pretty. I decided that having all four sides open would allow everyone to see exact positions inside the fortress and access their miniatures to move them around. I purchased shishkabob skewers to make the ladder, square dowel rods for the corners, plain cardboard for the levels and crenelations, wood glue, an off-silver metallic spray paint to cover the whole thing, and some extreme sharpie markers to make sure I could write on the paint.
Daern's Instant Fortress

Then, I became carefully measuring and cutting cardboard, skewers, and dowel rods. I glued it together one piece at a time and then gave the entire structure several layers of spray paint. Lastly, I drew the 1' grid with the sharpie marker and indicated where unique features are located.

The end result, while not the prettiest, should be functional in the game.

Ground level - I indicated the original placement of the fortress's shrunken cube from which the structure enlarges. The door is also on this space. The ladder is on the opposite wall.

Second story - 15' up from the first floor, this level has one section missing to allow character to climb the ladder. The arrow slits are indicated with a single line inside two squares on each side.

Roof - Another 15' up from the second story. The crenellations were designed so that each 5' square had the option of total cover or half cover. The T in the corner indicates the trap door.