D&D night

I’m a few hours later than normal, because Friday was the day of the big Dungeons & Dragons game that I’ve been preparing for. I had a lot of last minute preparation to get done, and then it was off to AS’s place, where he was hosting for the evening.

We had five players, plus me Dungeon Mastering. The adventure was set in Ravnica, a giant plane-spanning city first described in the game Magic: the Gathering. I instructed the players that their characters did not know one another before the adventure begins, and that they were to keep their characters secret from each other. When pizza had been consumed and everyone had settled at the table to play, I began the adventure:

Splash!!

You are woken suddenly by cold water pouring over you. A LOT of cold water. You flail around, trying to get your bearings, and realise you have no support – you’re splashing in a pool of deep water. You find the surface and gasp for air. You instantly regret this move as a horrible stench of decay and filth fills your nostrils and lungs. But you need to breathe, so struggle to maintain your position on the surface. Your legs reach down and can’t find anything to stand on. And as you blink frantically with your wet eyes you realise it’s dark. Very dark. Darker than the deepest night in the narrowest alleyways of Ravnica. And as your eyes try in vain to adjust to the darkness, you realise there are other people next to you, also flailing about in the putrid water.

The first thing they had to do was figure out how to not drown. They were in a sewer, and had to swim to a side of the tunnel where there was a narrow ledge where they could crawl out of the water. Once a couple of them had managed this, the crocodiles attacked. This was when they discovered that their most of their weapons and magical gear were missing. A few had concealed daggers, with which they fought off the crocodiles.

Once they had time to breathe (the foul, stinky air), they could introduce themselves to each other. And begin the process of working out what just happened. None of them knew each other and the last thing they remembered was going to sleep at night after a fairly boring day.

And thus the chain of adventure had been set off! They ended up tracking across the city, encountering a disinterested bath house attendant (nothing in this city surprised him any more, and he only wanted to cadge an extra gold coin off each of them for a fresh set of clothes), ogre thugs, a goblin gang, helpful librarians, a mystical dryad, and a torture chamber operated by a demon. By the end of the night they had some idea what they were doing, and we packed up to continue the adventure another day. I think everyone really enjoyed it!

As a helpful prop, I made everyone reference cards for their magic items, so they could instantly see in front of them what they had, and hand them back to me when used up (for example magic potions). Here’s an example of one card:

Lantern of Revealing card

(Lantern image is copyright Wizards of the Coast, reproduced from D&D Beyond, at smaller size for non-profit illustrative purposes only.)

Another thing was that Andrew Coker decided his character would have the personality trait: Loves a good insult, even when directed at him. To assist in coming up with good insults, he and I worked together on a random fantasy insult generator, using our mezzacotta random text generators code that I’ve been taking about previously. We kept this one secret form the other guys until after the game, so it was all new to them. It was very cool seeing Andrew’s character slinging these amazing insults at everyone he met during the game. Do check it out, and perhaps use an insult next time the opportunity strikes.

So, a good night was had by all!

D&D prep

Wednesday is Ethics day, and I took my regular Year 6 class again this morning. We discussed various scenarios where people had to choose between friends or relatives and other people who were more deserving by some measure. It was interesting that in each case there were kids willing to argue in favour of either decision. Also there were some circumstances where they clearly favoured the family/friend while in another scenario with different circumstances they favoured the non-family/non-friend.

One scenario was a girl whose parents buy her a new soccer ball because hers is old and worn out. Her friend’s ball is also old and worn out, but the friend’s parents don’t have as much money, so can’t afford to get her a new ball. The question was, should the wealthier child’s parents buy her friend a ball as well? Most of the class said no, the parents had no obligation to their child’s friend.

Another scenario was a boy out sailing in a custom built two-person boat. Near shore, two people call out to him to take them for a sail: one younger boy who is a sailing club member who helped build the boat, but is not allowed to sail it alone, and the sailor’s friend, who is older but not a club member and didn’t help build the boat. In this case, most of the class said the sailor should take the younger boy, because he helped build the boat. (I get these scenarios in the teacher curriculum – I don’t make them up.)

The other thing I did today was visit Andrew Shellshear, who is hosting Friday night’s D&D extravaganza. I’m doing some stuff with projections for ambience, and we tested out his projector and figured out where to point it. He’s constantly designing board games these days, and showed me his work in progress on a new version of a game he’s been working on for a few months. Our group has been playtesting it and it’s pretty good! Hopefully I’ll be able to point you all at a Kickstarter or something in the future.

This afternoon my wife and I took Scully for a walk at a nearby park. I did some more prep for D&D on Friday, and that was the day. Tomorrow morning I hit the photography set for new comics!

Unforeseen events

Today I planned to photograph a batch of new Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’ve written over the past few days. But first thing this morning I had to visit the dentist for a routine hygiene/clean thingy. Alas, it turned out that I had a cracked tooth, which needed filling…

I ended up spending over two hours there, and left with a numb face. Arriving home a lot later than I thought and not feeling the best, I decided to give the photography a miss and leave it until Thursday. Instead I did some more prep for Friday night’s D&D game, and a bit of coding on a secret new random text generator, which promises to be a lot of fun.

Oh, and on the way home from the dentist, I got swooped by a magpie! It’s still the middle of winter, but it’s so warm and spring-like already that the magpies are apparently nesting already. It hit me full in the back of the shoulder and head as it dive-bombed me. I was rather shocked as I haven’t really been attacked by a magpie for several years – I’m usually pretty cautious when I know they’re nesting, but it never would have occurred to me that they’d be laying eggs so early in the year.

It really has been an amazingly warm winter here. There are still trees with autumn and even pre-autumn green foliage that hasn’t dropped, while other trees are sprouting new spring foliage already. And the magnolias are in full bloom:

Comic writing…

I knuckled down and wrote a big batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips today. I’ll photograph them tomorrow morning and then assemble them over the next few days. Might show off a preview photo or two tomorrow. But the main question I had today was a matter of pirate grammar: Which of these is most correct?

  • the cook ne’er been captured
  • the cook ne’er bein’ captured
  • the cook ne’er be bein’ captured
  • the cook ne’er been bein’ captured

Speaking of comics, I’ve had some new submissions for Lightning Made of Owls after a big period of no new strips coming in. A new one was published last Friday, and another today.

Then I did some stuff with character sheets from my players for Friday evening’s upcoming D&D game. I’m letting them generate 5th level characters to start the game with, and so granting them some magic items. They have some limited choice, but I’m deciding the final items. I’m trying to pick things that would fit their characters and which will be useful and fun in play.

The other main thing I did today was house painting. We had some work done a while back to repair some minor cracks in the walls and gaps along ceiling joints and stuff, and rather than pay the repairers to paint, I decided to just do the painting myself. I’ve been slowly doing it in bursts, as there’s a lot of undercoating and then top coats to apply to all the various surfaces. The cool thing is I get to use the drybrushing technique I learnt for painting miniature gaming figures to blend the touch-up paint colour with the original paint. The touch-up paint is almost the same colour as the original paint, but it’s just possible to discern a difference if you look carefully. But much harder with a drybrushed transition between them. Gaming skills in real life, yeah!

New movies!

Bit of a hodge-podge day today. Made a dentist appointment, dropped off some dry cleaning, did some grocery shopping…

Oh, I worked some more on the D&D adventure I mentioned yesterday. It’s not complete, but it’s now in a state where I can share it with interested people to get some comments, and see if they want to try playtesting it with their own D&D groups. I’ve uploaded it to my Secret Patron Page, which Patreon patrons have access to. (If you’d like to see work in progress like this, please consider sponsoring me on Patreon!)

And I did a bit more coding work on the mezzacotta random generators, exposing the board game description generator (work in progress), and the version 2.0 incarnation of mezzacotta Cinématique (that link is version 1), the random movie generator. And it has a shiny new high-res logo (click on the image or here to go to the new version 2.0):

Cinématique v 2.0 logo

And finally I did a thing I’ve been meaning to do for some time. I contacted the after school child care centre near the school where I teach Ethics classes, and volunteered to supervise kids one afternoon a week. Specifically on Wednesdays, during the weekly chess/games club. I’m offering to supervise a group of 4-6 children and Dungeon Master a game of Dungeons & Dragons for them! I don’t know if they will take up my offer, but at least I’ve made the move. One thing I have going for me is that I have a few years of experience working with primary school students, as well as being accredited by the State Government to work in a child supervision role. So hopefully it’ll work out! I’ll keep you updated.

Adventure creation

Today was a designated writing day, specifically for a Dungeons & Dragons adventure that I’m planning to run with my friends on Friday week. We’re starting a new campaign and this is going to be the introductory adventure to a game set in the world of Ravnica.

Ravnica is a world first developed for Magic: the Gathering, being the setting for a trio of card sets released back in 2005. At the time we were heavily into playing Magic, and we played a lot of draft tournaments with this block. I really enjoyed the setting and the world building that went into it. At the time, I said I really wanted to run a D&D campaign set in Ravnica.

Wind forward 14 years, and the time has finally come. Wizards of the Coast have even released an official D&D sourcebook based on Ravnica, so I don’t have to do as much work as I would have years ago. Anyway, the date has been set for 8 days hence, and I am most of the way through writing the adventure. I spent time today adding details and scenes and game mechanics notes. It’s not quite finished but I’m confident I have plenty of material for the first session.

Once this adventure is complete, I plan to publish it, probably on DM’s Guild. I’ve always enjoyed writing RPG material, and have several publications for the GURPS roleplaying game. My plan for the near future is to write more material, mostly for D&D but possibly also some generic stuff, and publish either on DM’s Guild or RPGNow. Stay tuned for when my adventures and other source material becomes available!