Monday, August 6, 2018

Status Update

So, it's been a while since I posted anything on this blog, so I thought I'd run a quick reality check.

First, I've written a book. It's a light science fiction novel published by WordFire press. They're awesome because they also publish Dune.

Here is a summary:

In a universe where corporate scions hold aristocratic titles and wield absolute power, a young princess embarks on a mission of mercy to find a new home for the refugees created by her father’s many wars. To her dismay, an invitation to an isolated planetoid that could serve as the perfect home for the poor exiles turns out to be a ploy by the infamous Baron Von Schmidt to add yet another outrage to his repertoire. What starts as an exclusive party in her honor is soon revealed to be something far more sinister: a depraved auction where the item on sale is her royal highness and the bidders are a who’s who of the galaxy’s worst scoundrels! With only enemies in sight and no way to call for help, the young princess has no choice but to rescue herself. This will not be easy. Her foes include a Chinese space pirate, a young Russian duelist, a high-tech samurai, a Venusian Mafiosi, two expert French poisoners recently returned from the horror vacui, a floating Swiss banker of unimaginable wealth, and a British gentleman who also happens to be a pterodactyl. Her arsenal consists of vague memories from classes she mostly slept through, a pile of gadgets for which she’s never read the user manual, and a ferret.

Secondly, there are two cool 90 minute adventures coming soon. One is a spirit quest inspired by ancient Hawaiian mythology. The second is a Star Trek style moral quandary with a twist, inspired by a science fiction radio play from the 50s.

Lastly, I'm not dead. I know the smell coming from my home is suspicious, but this isn't me.

That's all for now. See you very soon!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Young Superheroes

I have decided to try a superheroes game with one of my groups. To that end, I've told the kids that each superhero has the following traits: a mundane identity/ job, a heroic identity/ theme, powers, a tragic background, a heroic inspiration and a secret weakness. This is a summary of the characters they came up with.

Electrowizard is a mechanic who became a superhero after he accidentally electrocuted his family to death in their home pool, only to learn too late that he can also use electric shocks to save lives. He is hydrophobic, but still dedicated to saving lives.

Black Mask is a super hacker who can summon a deadly digital axe and zap his enemies through the internet. He swore to hunt and destroy evil hackers after his family was driven to poverty and disgrace and he was framed for a crime he didn't commit through identity theft.

Ring Man is a pilot who became a hero after meteor fell on his home and killed his family. Inside, he found a ring that allows him to create mobile power fields. Despite being a coward, he swore to use the ring in the cause of justice.

Lightning Bolt is a scientist who became a speedster who can pass through walls after he ran into a power line and was possessed by a sentient lightning bolt. He now seeks to understand his condition for the betterment of all mankind.

Cydog is a cybernetic dog from another dimension who has the ability to turn into a drone in the service of an evil, extradimensional computer. He was originally evil, but Lightning Bolt captured him and reprogrammed him to be good. Despite his great intellect a thrown stick or a whistle would still cause him to run and fetch any week of the day.

Super Smiley is a comedian with the power to make everyone laugh or cry, but sadly no ability to control his own emotions. The smallest mishap will cause him to laugh hysterically or weep bitterly. After being mocked and bullied his entire life, he now just wants to make others happy.

Craft is a football player with a giant brain who can erase and replace memories from a distance. His sister was poisoned by the villainous Doctor Hnanah, which also caused Craft to lose the game and ruined his career. He now lives for one purpose only -- to destroy Doctor Hnanah.


On an unrelated note, if you enjoy my occasional posts and my regular webcomic, please consider dropping a few pennies down my patreon. Even if you don't, come and take a look. We have a cool video and everything. Thanks!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mini Adventure -- DNDkids vs. Frankenstein

With all the excitement of our new webcomic, I've neglected to post a 90-minute-adventure for far too long. We will remedy this presently.

Frankenstain. We all know the story. We all know it ended very poorly for all parties involved. Tonight, we find out what happens if we let a bunch of murderhobos into thsi classic story of hubris and damnation. Perhaps the tragedy will be averted. More likely, it will be increased by an order of magnitude. 

Wanna know what happened when I actually ran it for a dozen fifth graders? Stay put. Oh, and one last thing. Don't use the word "Frankenstein" at any point. Let the players figure out what novel they're inside themselves. It' much more fun that way. For you.

Source: Dave Rapoza

William, the young son of Alphonse was found in the woods with a broken neck. His nanny Justine is arrested after his locket is found in her pocket. She claims she is innocent, but things don't look good for her.  The PCs are hired by Alphonese to investigate the murder and find the true killer before she is hung for a crime she did not commit.
Alphonse has another son named Victor and an adopted daughter named Elizabeth, to whom Victor is engaged. A friend named Henry is staying in the house as well.
A short time after the murder, Victor disappears, taking with him a rifle and hunting equipment. He didn’t confess to the murder, but he did say it was his fault.

  • Near the site of the murder there are footprints too large for a human being. They lead to a small burned hut. Asking around will reveal it was the home of a blind man (Gaston) who lived with his son (Felix), daughter (Agatha) and Arab daughter-in-law (Safie). They have moved to Geneva after their hut was burned to the ground. If located, Felix can tell that the night before his hut burned, he chased away a giant who attacked his father. The old man, however, says the creature was articulate and pleading rather than aggressive.
  • If the PCs choose to follow Victor's tracks in the woods. They find him half mad in the wilderness. He claims to be guilty for his brother's murder but refuses to give any information. If the PCs pressure him or secretly follow him, they discover he is building a giant woman in a cave. Victor started working on her to appease the monster, but now has second thoughts. What if the two reproduce and create a race of giants that will challenge humanity?
  • If a PC goes alone in the dark, he will see a giant shade that will tell him he didn't mean to kill the child, but he will kill more of Victor's family if not given what he wanted. The shade will then disappear, leaving no tracks. This only happens if a lone PC moves at least 100 meters from any other PC.
  • Victor has a room in his house with some notes related to chemical science, the notes imply the possibility of creating life, but provide no further information. If the players visit his home in Geneva, however, they find detailed documentation related to the creation of artificial life and a final note about the creation being hideous and escaping into the mountains.
  • The giant lives in a desolate cave in the mountains. He is strong and fast, but not invincible. He generally avoids combat, but he will fight to the death if the half-made female is destroyed.
Source: Garry Brown
Day    Event
-3       Hut burned
-2       William killed
-1       Justine arrested
2       Justine executed
5       Henry killed
11     Elizabeth killed
17     Alphonse killed

How the Kids Solved This?
I thought this was actually quite brilliant. It's a wonder no one thought about it before. The kids told Victor to finish the female but to plant an explosive device inside her. Boom. Problem solved.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hunting the Hunters

I ran this adventure many times with both young and mature players in a variety of settings ranging from a gothic version of the modern world to native american fantasy. Each time it failed, but each time it failed in a fun way. However, maybe it will work for you. Who know? Stranger things have happened...

This is a 5e Ravenloft version suitable for 4th level characters. At least one of the characters should be able to cast darkness as a spell or ability.

A group of vampires are sent to an ancient forest to find our why vampires routinely disappear in the area. They discover that the forest is inhabited by a spirit that is to vampries what vampires are to people. To keep the dangerous spirit away from themselves, elder vampires routinely send fledgling vampires to investigate the “mysterious disappearances” in the forest, promising great rewards since they never expect to see the youngsters again.


A large human city where gothic high fashion meets poverty and oppression.

General Kazandra ("The Lady") invites the PCs to a meeting at the Black Unicorn club in Karg. The evening is a vampire party where each guest must come accompanied by a mortal and an animal companion. Lone vampires are banned from entering, even if they bear letters of invitation from the Lady.

The Lady is in her office with a dominated maid she uses as a mobile, living blood bottle and a pet fox (actually a werefox). She tells the party that this is a "community" meeting rather than an official meeting. Several members of the "community" both native and foreign have gone missing in the Vale of Tears. One of them was her apprentice, Vyx, who she sent to return an agent who went missing while performing a secret mission from Azalin himself. She'd like the heroes to find out what's causing vampires to disappear and deal with it. She is especially anxious about the fate of Vyx, of whom she is very fond.

Kazandra is aware of the following victims, though she suspects the actual number of undead destroyed in the forest is much higher:

Tavia (Kargat exile, sent to forest to live in exile for taking bribes)
Marius (Falkvonia vampyre, Ludzig’s agent, purpose unknown)
Valentine (Falkvonian vampyre, was en route to nova vaasa)
Onyx (Darkonian free vampire, went to search for Marius)
Avernus  (Kargat agent, sent to scout for dragon ebb, killed by hunters)
Vyx (Kargat agent, sent to retrieve Avernus) sent a week ago, last seen in Delagia three days ago, room 6

A Halfling town of cheerful fishermen and traders.
Two human siblings with a foreign accent occasionally come to purchase supplies. They are brooding and have a condescending attitude towards the Halflings. No one knows where they live or what do they do for a living, so everyone assumes they’re staying in Sidnar.
Vyx has also been to the town. She made a few expeditions to the mountains, before going to the forest, never to be seen again. She is remembered fondly as a very charming woman who used to sing songs and entertain the kids.

A hamlet of snobbish elf astronomers and philosophers
The elves have seen odd siblings who boasted of hunting the most dangerous game in the forest. They asked a lot of questions about a fox woman and when no one could answer them, they went away, never to be seen again. Investigation will reveal that many of the houses in the town have images of a fox that shines like the sun. Interviewing locals will reveal that these are traditional marks against evil. No one remembers their origins.
Two kids saw Vyx approaching the village before suddenly turning around and fleeing with an expression of abject terror.

A vast forest crisscrossed by rivers and streams

The Sun Fox is not interested in material possessions, so small piles of ash with clothing and personal belonging can be found in various spots in the forest.  One includes a message carved in bark (see below).
There is a sect of maniacal Halfling cannibal bandits who prey on strangers, always eating half and leaving the other half as a warning. They never attack Sidnari and Delagians and in return the locals leave tools in the forest. While critical of their methods, the locals value the red walkers since they keep foreigners away.

Mount Nyad
Desolate mountains where nothing lives or grows

The Shadow Dragon Ebb lives in a giant cave inside the mountain. She is quite fond of polite visitors as long as they don’t touch her treasure. She sleeps most of the time, but doesn’t get angry if woken up with due reverence.
Ebb knows of more than a hundred undead creatures who’ve been destroyed in the forest over the last 300 years. Most committed suicide at sunrise. She has always assumed they did it because of self-loathing, although if questioned, she will point out she recalls feeling a strong force of light in the area about the time of their destruction.
Her latest observation was a naked young woman looking defiantly at the sun before catching on fire and turning to dust. She can direct the PCs to the spot, but she will not bother to leave the cave.

Dramatis Personae

Funny and Sunny
A brother-sister pair of undead slayers – Sunny is a 5th level paladin and Funny is a 5th level cleric. The pair have killed many minor undead and one vampire —Avernus. Presently, they’re looking for the Sun Fox in the hopes of joining forces with it. They are refugees from Nova Vaasa and speak with a strong Vaasi accent.

The Sun Fox
The Sun Fox feeds by devouring a vampire's life essence when it's destroyed by the light of the rising sun. It has two forms – a gorgeous fox that shines like the sun, or a wild woman dressed in hides and bones. It has been part of the forest for as long as the forest has existed. Just like the vale, its past is lost in the mists.
AC 16 (+2 leather)
HP 100
Speed 40
Saves str +2, dex +7, con +7, int +0, wis +6, cha +4
Every time a vampire is damaged in the forest, the spirit heals as many hit points
Sunlight at will (darkness negates)
Fox shape
Fist +7 (1d6+2 and 1d6 radiant)
DC 15 Dominate attack that only affects vampires and can only affect one vampire at a time. While dominated, the vampire is free to speak, but must move however the fox instructs it.
Tree stride
Weakness: None of its powers work in magical darkness. Also, should it ever leave the forest, it will become sick and die soon.

Random Vampire Powers
1 Animate Dead (short rest)
2 Misty Step (60')
3 Beast Form (CR 1 or less)
4 Fire Resistance (20)
5 Mist Form (long rest)
6 Invisibility (short rest)
7 Darkness (at will)
8 Sharp Senses (scent, blindsight)
9 Enhanced Ability (+4, roll which)
10 Turn and Radiant Resistance (+4/20)

The players can either find it at on the cliff where Vyx died or see it in Ebb’s collection, whichever comes first. I recommend printing the letter in handsome cursive and then burning its edges to give it the appearance of something recovered from a fire.

To: The Lady of the Black Unicorn

For the past few days I have wrestled with an increasing desire to see the sunrise from a cliff overlooking Lake Korst. It has now become clear to me that it is a battle that I cannot win on my own. Noble Kazandra, please come quickly for I fear that without your deliverance I am doomed.

All my attempts to flee these accursed woodlands or to contact my friends at Krag via magical or mundane means have been frustrated by the spirit that haunts me. Yes, I am now convinced that what I at first took to be my own mind betraying me in this lovely wilderness is in fact the work of a powerful spirit that works towards my destruction. My sole hope now lies with a halfling woodsman whom I’ve paid handsomely to deliver this message. I hope he does not lose it for I don’t have much ink left and no parchment save this sheet.

The scoundrel has discarded my letter but has kept my gold! Though my heart cries for Karg, my feet march to Sidnar. The elves are now my only hope and it is a slim hope indeed.

The  lake is beautiful and I expect the sun rising from the misty trees should be beautiful as well. I will find solace in the beauty that surrounds me and of which, I fancy, I will now forever be a part. I will face my end with pride and courage. Oh happy traveler who finds this message in a pile of ash and dust and discarded clothing – tell my mistress that I did not disgrace her. Tell her that

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

With the Giants

It is very rare for kids to finish a campaign unless they're forced to do so by circumstances outside of their control. It is even rarer for kids to finish a campaign that they have devised for themselves. Today, I want to tell you about one such instance.

One of my groups was tasked with fighting hill giant bandits who were plundering the lowlands. After a single encounter with a hill giant, they have abandoned this quest and chose a random mountain range on the map as their next location because they liked the way it was drawn. As soon as they finished scaling the mountains, the kids found themselves bombarded by boulders. Enraged, they charged in the direction of their attackers only to find two stone giant children who apologized profusely for the incident, claiming they didn’t see the little people entering their ranging ground.

Illustration by Ekaterina Burmak

As a compensation, the young giants invited the kids to visit their lair. There, the kids were more than content to live in a basket and nibble on a huge wheel of cheese, both objects being gifts made by children's mother, a giantess named Red Shawl on account of always wearing a red shawl.

However, as if often the case with happy PCs, their newfound domestic joy was not long-lived. One day, the kids returned to the giants’ lair to find Red Shawl in a state of agitation uncharacteristic of her normally sanguine disposition – her children went to practice rock throwing in the morning and haven't returned for supper. She asked her tribe to help her search for her children, but the elders refused, arguing that all that transpires is the will of the stones and to attempt to challenge this force of nature is both impious and futile. Seeing their friend so saddened, the kids have suggested, of their own accord, to join her on an expedition to find and return her children.

The very next morning, the kids and Red Shawl went to the stoning range. There, they found some stone giant blood and a colossal feather. Following the marks, the party came upon a massive bird with oddly sparkling eyes. With the aid of the mighty Red Shawl, they defeated the bird and discovered the sparkles to be a form of fairy dust used by evil pixies to enthrall beasts and humanoids. Using magic rituals, the group traced the source of the fairy dust to a faraway mountain. Along the way, they bested an ambush by enthralled gnolls, a pixie attack, and countless attempts to bribe or dissuade them from their quest.
Illustration by Werility
Eventually, the party reached a dormant volcano filled with monsters and traps. To their dismay, the kids have discovered that due to the narrowness of the entrance, Red Shawl, whom they used as a very effective artillery unit, could not follow them inside the mountain. All that was left to the poor creature was to anxiously wait for their return while making sure no one attacked them from behind.

Inside, the kids passed a trapped door, yet more pixies, and a room with murderous shadows, losing three party members in the process. Eventually, they found the young giants hewing a corridor for the pixies. The kids announced they came to return the children to their mother, but were met with blows instead of hugs, since the giant children were firmly under pixie command. Despite taking a savage beating, the party eventually saved the day by washing the pixie dust from the giants’ eyes using improvised water siphons, thereby releasing the giants from pixie domination. Again ignoring bribes and threats, the kids made their way back to Red Shawl through corridors of blood and ruin. They came out to a tearful reunion of Red Shawl and her dazed but unharmed children.

At this point, the cleric of the party has received an animal messenger from a different group of kids, who requested their immediate assistance in a raid against an ancient temple filled with potent artifacts and powerful undead. However, after consultation, the group decided they want to end the year as honored guests of the stone giants instead of joining a new adventure, leaving the other group to fend for itself against insurmountable odds, Rorschach style.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

DNDkids: The Webcomic!

For years, you have demanded a DNDkids webcomic, so Jamie Keys and I have produced one in partnership with Ghostwoods Books and Media for your pleasure and entertainment.
This is going to be a weekly feature, so stay tuned.
If you like what you see, recommend it to your family and friends. If you don't, warn them instead.