Sunday, August 12, 2018

Some books I like that changed my life in subtle ways


Greetings fellow readers and friends! I have been tagged to list my favorite books that have influenced my life in various ways and I feel I should do more than just post covers. For simplicity sake and to not clog up peoples feeds with me constantly posting I have decided to just make a short write up about a few of my all-time favorites. There are many other books I am overly enthusiastic about but will be written up later.

Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. If we have talked in a book store or even at a party, I have most likely talked to you about this book. Brief spoiler free talk up that will sound familiar “A hero gives up on the life of adventuring, fakes his own death, and now owns a bar. People come in telling stories about his life getting most of the details wrong until a traveling story teller gets him to tell the true story about what really happened, all his great triumphs as well as his horrible failures that still torture him.” I first heard about and started reading this book back in 2008 and I fell in love with it. It is the best thing I have read since Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. When I worked at a book place I hand sold over seven hundred copies and still to this day try to spread the good word. We are graced with a second book entitled The Wise Man’s Fear as well as a novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things. We are waiting on a book three, I feel we are not a world deserving of a book three yet. His books have gotten me out of a few dark spells over the years, they have helped me cope with loss and disappointment. Please check out his Worldbuilders website where geeks can help do go in this world. https://worldbuilders.org/

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, by J.K. Rowling. I was bribed into reading this series as a young adult because I was dumb. My folks bought me book one and within the first chapter I was sold on the series. At that time book four was slated for release in a month or so and I caught up quickly. One of the hardest parts of any series is the wait and with each book the wait felt somehow more painful, with each character loss or the pain of youth being destroyed we would crave the next book. I benefit from these books, I resemble the main character which has helped start many amazing adventures and conversations over the years. It is hard to believe that it is the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Sorcerers Stone. If you have not seen the new covers please check them out. Books one, four, and seven are my favorites. Sorcerers Stone is our, and Harry’s, introduction to the wizarding world, Goblet of Fire had the Triwizard tournament and the awesome hedge labyrinth at the end and horrible heartbreak, and Deathly Hallows gave us resolution to many of the questions that haunted us for years. When Deathly Hallows came out I was working as a kiln technician at a summer camp and read the book in ten hours the night it came out so the campers would not ruin anything for me. Ok, rambling, if you like wizards and have ever wanted to do magic, read these books. The movies are great in their own ways but you miss out on so much if you don’t read the books at least once. I also enjoyed the Cursed Child book, after a few chapters the play format breezed by and it was like visiting old friends you think about often but are too awkward to talk too after all this time.

Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton. When the movie came out I was in third grade and I went with my dad to see it in theatres. As a bit of context, I liked dinosaurs and wanted to sit close to the screen. I had never really watched scary movies at this point either being much younger. I was terrified and curled up in a ball in the seat, there may have been tears. Eventually my dad and I left after the Dilophosaurus ate that guy from Seinfeld, lesson learned. A few months later we went back and were able to see the full movie. In fourth grade my grandfather on my dad’s side passed away suddenly and we were up north for a few days and the only movie we brought with was Jurassic Park, which I must have watched over ten times. I knew the movie pretty well by that point. My dad had read the book so he passed it on to me, so there I was at ten years of age reading Jurassic Park in my after-school day care program, fully immersed. I ended up reading it about six times over the next few years as well as the Lost World. There were cool parts they had left out of the movie and ended up recycling for other movies, which was fine. I loved the books and did not get back to kid’s books for a few years. I also wrote a few letters to Steven Spielberg recommending dinosaurs he should use in the movies and got a response thanking me for my contributions from his desk. Dinosaurs always will spark a flame in my heart, and these books helped.
Practical Demon Keeper, by Christopher Moore. This book I read again while very young, maybe fifth or sixth grade. The story revolves around a demon and its accidental conjurer traveling to a small town in California. The Conjurer is trying to find a way to dispose of his demon and chaos and blood shed ensues. I loved the use of mythology and humor mixed in with the brutality of a demon eating helpless mortals. I still have to read his other novels but I really enjoyed the references to King Solomon and other myths.

Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I had seen bits of the old Rankin-Bass movies growing up but had very little memory of their contents, I had only seen them during a migraine when I was seven or eight. Back before the live action movies came out I decided to check out the books, borrowing my dad’s box set of paperbacks. Over two days in the summer I read the hobbit, learning all about Bilbo and his ring, the giant eagles, and Gandalf with his Odin like wisdom, I was in love with this book. I started reading Lord of the Rings in high school and ruined them in my backpack. They each took a bit longer to read than the Hobbit but were just as fantastic. Each study hall I would sit down and delve into a world with elves, dwarves, hobbits, and trolls in the epic battle of good versus evil. Being a tiny person, I loved that hobbits were relevant in a world of men and monsters and the fate of everything hung in the balance based on their success or failure. I had the chance to see Tolkien’s original notes at the Haggerty Museum here in Milwaukee when they had it on display, it turns out Tolkien had sold the notes to the university. It was awesome, he had charts showing where each character was in every scene even if they weren’t mentioned, drawings of locations, alternate passages, I was in lore heaven. Since then I read the Silmarillion and a few of the books his son has been releasing such as the Children of Hurin and other books released by other authors, like Tolkien’s Ring by David Day. His world was rich in lore and myth and I hope to continue reading about it for years to come. Hobbit will always have a special place in my heart, and for my four years of college it was my nickname. I love both the Lord of the Rings films, the animated films for the Hobbit and Return of the King, and the strange Lord of the Rings film with the rotoscope animation as well as the books. The Hobbit movies were a bit much but I still enjoyed them, they explored lore that was just suggested and built upon it. The book takes me about four hours, the movies nine. Without these books modern fantasy would not be what it is now, most of the authors out there have been influenced in some way by the story of the one ring, which in itself is influenced by Nordic mythology.

Children of Odin, by Padraic Colum. This was the best source of simple and quick Norse mythology and folk tales for many audiences and one of my favorite ways to introduce people to the world of Thor and Loki. It covers everything from the death of Ymir, the giant and the creation of the worlds to Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. When anyone has questions about Norse myth this is my go to book, and now Neil Gaiman has come out with his own Norse Mythology book which I try to pair with Children of Odin to give two different accounts of the stories. Gaiman has a way of humanizing the gods and monsters in fantastic ways.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Shadow Moon ends up encountering mythology in very close and personal ways. Tragedy strikes at home and Shadow has been let out of prison early. He meets a strange man named Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job, to be his man, more driver and bodyguard on the road. It features the old gods in a slow war with the gods of the modern age, technology and the like. This was the first book since Name of the Wind that caused me to lose myself completely to the text. Words danced before me and I was gone. As an amateur folklore and mythology specialist, this book felt like it was written for me to devour, characters I knew made me gleeful, and new characters I did not know sent me to my mythology shelf to research and yes, I have a mythology shelf, it is next to my art shelf. Being from Wisconsin I was excited for them to go to House on the Rock, a strange tourist stop full of oddities such as a giant whale fighting a squid and a carousel you are not allowed to ride. The show they made is pretty cool too, I enjoy the castings for everyone and it is neat to see more from characters in the background of the book.

Crystal Shard, by R. A. Salvatore. This was my introduction to the world of Dungeons and Dragons and the Forgotten Realms. Drizzt, a dark elf escaped from his terrible homeland helps the surface folk fight against a mad wizard and his crystal death star full of monsters and death. In this introduction story we meet the young barbarian Wulfgar, who ends up indentured to the dwarves after his people’s failed attack on Ten-Towns, Bruenor the dwarf leader of the region takes him under his wings as a ward. Bruenor’s other ward is Cattie-Brie, a human girl he has also raised. Cattie-Brie uses archery to defeat her foes. They are joined by Regis, a halfling that rather be fishing than adventuring but has a shadowy past and a magic amulet of persuasion. Drizzt is a drow, a dark elf from deep underground. He is a ranger, duel wielding cruel scimitars and accompanied by a magic panther named Guenhwyvar that he could summon with a figurine he had. With his friends Drizzt would topple tyrants, kill demons, anger the minions of the spider queen, mourn friends both new and old lost, and deal with the past he had hoped to leave behind. I had found these books in the Sci Fi book club and ended up with the entire Icewind Dale trilogy in one book. So began the madness of devouring novels. There are currently thirty-three novels books about Drizzt and his friends as well as a few spin off books about his one time rival as well as the Cleric Quintet. R.A. Salvatore has hurt me over the years but what he does is justified, without trauma or loss these characters would not change or evolve into what they become. I had thought that his title Hero was the last book, but it looks like we will be getting more Drizzt. I enjoyed these books almost to an unhealthy level, each one I would devour in about four hours and then the pining for the next one would begin. A few of the storylines would get repetitive, Drizzt is really good at killing orcs, but there was never a time I gave up on them. If you are going to start the series there are two good places. Crystal Shard was written first and after the fact Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn were written to show where Drizzt came from. I tell most readers to start with Homeland, but Crystal Shard was a bit more exciting of a read for me.
Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. Lightning Thief is about a young boy, Percy Jackson. He has difficulty in school with reading and attention spans, but as it turns out, his brain is hardwired for both ancient Greek and combat. He is the son of one of the Greek gods, and quickly in the series you figure out which. In book one we find out someone has stolen the lightning bolt of Zeus, his master bolt, and he will go to war with the entire world if it is not returned. Percy and his friends Annabeth, a daughter of Athena, and Grover, a satyr protector of demigods, must travel across the land trying to find the bolt and clues on how to save their friends. The first set of books are the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series: Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, Titans Curse, Battle of the Labyrinth, and the Last Olympian follow Percy and his friends in their quest to prevent the end of the gods and mortals. These five books were amazing on their own, and Rick Riordan decided to write more expanding on myth. The Heroes of Olympus series features characters that survived the first series as well as a whole new camp of demigods, hidden away from the Greek camp. It seems there is a Roman camp on the other side of the united states that had no idea of the Greek camp. In this arc we meet Jason, a boy with no memory of where he came from but knows all the Roman names of the gods. He ends up in camp Half-blood with Piper, a girl he might be dating, and Leo, a young man who can build things and can control fire. They find out there is a prophecy that will need seven heroes to save the day. The second book starts with this strange boy named Percy, stricken with a loss of memory that only knows one thing, a girl named Annabeth is probably pissed. He ends up at the Roman camp and receives a similar prophecy. The Heroes of Olympus series is as follows: Lost Hero, Son of Neptune, Mark of Athena, House of Hades, and The Blood of Olympus. There were parts in these books that have destroyed me. He is continuing the Greek and Roman stories now with the Trials of Apollo, the Hidden Oracle, the Dark Prophecy, the Burning Maze, and next year we will be getting the Tyrants’ Tomb. Apollo has been struck down from the heavens for something that happened in the Blood of Olympus and now is a mortal teenager, Lester Papadopoulos, now forced to gain his divinity back by freeing the oracles that have been hidden away from the world by an evil organization bent on domination. He has also written a series about the Norse gods called Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer, the Hammer of Thor, and the Ship of the Dead which all feature a young boy named Magnus trying to stop Ragnarok with the help of a mute elf, a fashion sensible dwarf, and a young Muslim American girl that wants to be a pilot that also happens to be a Valkyrie, we also meet Sam, a kid that is gender fluid, Sam rocks. He also wrote the Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid, Throne of Fire, and the Serpent’s Shadow. Carter and Sadie are forced to save the world with the help of Egyptian gods that must possess human hosts to interact with the world. These all are fun series for getting young adults into mythology, some of the myths are edited for content reasons but still live up to the amazingness that is mythology. Rick Riordan has also been working on getting more children of all ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations in his books. Inclusion is important for these young readers. These books are about accepting who you are and what you came from as well as making your own story. Looking back at the world mythologies, the heroes were from all walks of life, it did not matter if you were old or young, blind or had a gimp leg, everyone has a purpose and a destiny.

Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. Game of Thrones is frustrating and amazing. There is so much to it, so much left out of what we experience in both the shows and the book. We are five books in and seven seasons of the show. The first book I read over the course of a year, getting most of it spoiled along the way, the danger of working in a retail environment. I made sure to work my way quickly through the rest of them, reading the Dance with Dragons in less than a week. Game of Thrones is successful for many reasons, as opposed to the farmer rising up to defeat the tyrant which is many of the fantasy tales we hear, this is nobles backstabbing and burning each other to the ground with their ambitions and treachery. We get mythical beings mentioned in the first scenes that most of the realms think are just stories or fairytales but are actual threats to the Seven Kingdoms, they take a while but are still coming for the south. We eventually get dragons, the exiled princess sold of to the barbaric horse riders in a distant land rises to be the queen of her people and lead them to victory. Characters we get attached too die suddenly, leaving voids in our hearts. We don’t learn, we fall for the next awesome character until they crushed by a mountain. Everyone jokes about the writing of the books and complains about it taking so long to come out. I casually remind people book one came out in 1996, we are in for a wait and the more you bother the author, the longer this is going to take. The show has done a marvelous job adapting the thousands of pages of books into the show, yes characters have been left out or killed off too early. It is a rare thing to see people get this excited and worked up about something in geek culture. The show has gotten millions of people to go out and buy the books in a genre they might have never picked up before. They are not simple reads either, each book is at least nine hundred pages depending on the binding you pick up. After reading so much of Martin I do feel every other book to be a quick read, even when nothing happens for a few hundred pages, I have gotten used to it. And even in the pages where it feels like nothing is happening there are small moments that if missed leave you in the dark to the next big thing on the horizon. Conversations between characters in one chapter can lead to entire families getting wiped out later on. I would also recommend checking out the short story book, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, it follows a knight and his squire navigating the political landscape of Targaryen rule years before the Game of Thrones series takes place. It is an illustrated book with three short stories bordering on novellas.

Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zhan. This was my first adult Star Wars books. I had read many of the Young Jedi Knights books with Jacen and Jaina and young Anikin Solo, which would haunt me later on. Heir to the Empire was the introduction to my favorite once cannon, then not cannon, and now cannon again villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn. He studied the art of the Empire’s enemies and would figure out their weakness. He was intimidating and cool at the same time. He drew together the factions of the Empire after the battle of Endor and was using clones again to fill out the ranks of troopers to help combat the New Republic and their forces. Luke was doing his Jedi things again and was losing touch with the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Leia was pregnant with the twins and being attacked by assassins left and right leading to a cool moment where she was called “Daughter of Vader”. The assassins had worked for Vader and reconized his scent. She went with them and helped their people fix their broken world and gained some protection for herself. The Thrawn series was amazing. There was a Sith named Joruus C'baoth, we meet Mara Jade who became very important for many reasons. This trilogy started me on the path of reading many of the Star Wars novels, which was exclusive to about four years. I read almost half the catalogue except for the X-Wing books and a few others. I loved the New Jedi Order books and still hurt from Vector Prime, I enjoyed having a foe that was absent in the force. I was very excited to see them bring Thrawn back in the Rebels show and it was excellent.

Keep on the Borderlands, by Gary Gygax. This was the first Dungeons and Dragons adventure I ever read through, I felt it needed mentioning, being the gateway to the twist my life has taken, trying to write and hopefully eventually publish a campaign world. I am in my twentieth year playing Dungeons and Dragons, most of it I have spent running the game as the dungeon master, leading parties of adventurers through challenges both great and deadly. The times I was able to play as a character have spawned stories that I will tell for years to come, from the Robank’s Avengers meeting an untimely end in a vampire lair, to Robank, my dwarven bard getting killed by a fear spell and haunting his axe until the party could reincarnate him, to Kannorack my changeling warmage/beguiler/bard, Rakomon Teledonde Orta my dusk blade cursed human with a drastic skin condition, and Drogo my tiefling gold dragon blooded sorcerer that just wanted to flirt with mermaids. I have played around fifty different characters over the years and have run eighteen campaigns, seven of which officially finished, the others either the group moved on or life changed or is still in progress.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Untamed Wilds Session 8!


August 8th 2018 beat the all-time number of players record I had run for before. Our session started with three brand new faces, two kids and a parent playing for the first time. We had many of our usual crowd as well as a few returning faces we had not seen for a bit bringing our party to fourteen players. the party had returned from their oceanic journey about a week before hand and were in full gear festival mode celebrating their victory over Jazina and her gnoll minions. Our group consisted of the new harpy warlock, minotaur bard, satyr barbarian, and the returning catfolk, the warlock, drunken master monk, ranger hunter, blood hunter, human wizard, satyr bard and paladin, lizard folk swashbuckler and druid, centaur barbarian, and crow ranger. Their party was ruined when screams and smoke filled the area and a hydra burst forth to fight the group. Many of the party had attacks that did fire damage naturally so it never had a chance to regenerate, the centaur was able to take many of the heads as the blood hunter’s burning arrows sealed the wounds. As the crow fired arrows straight into its heart the ground shook and the crowds parted to reveal two gorgon metallic bulls. The group had some difficulty getting through their armor but the satyr barbarian was able to lasso one of them and hold it still to grant his allies advantage on their attacks. One was able to use its blast of petrifying gas against a small wedge of characters but they were too hardy to fall prey to its miasma. The druid was able to smack one of the gorgons, granting the neck to the barbarian centaur allowing her to cleave the head right off. Once the gorgons were vanquished four cyclops pulled off their one-use invisibility cloaks and laid into the less armored members of the party. The wizard was offended such base creatures dare attack him and magic flowed freely. Two of the cyclops were charmed by the bard’s hypnotic pattern, one of the others was charmed by the paladin’s fey step which was then ruined when the swashbuckler shot it in the face. The druid knocked the largest over with a tidal wave and the cat folk warlock started him on fire with a flaming sphere. The paladin had asked the cyclops when it was under the charm effect to toss him at the other cyclops but since the charm broke he just fast ball threw him at the druid, getting knocked prone. The monk killed the paladin tosser cyclops and jumped from his paralyzed head to another about thirty feet away using both cat folk grace and monk shenanigans. On his next turn he continued to bash the head in on the cyclops. The harpy warlock used his eldritch blast a few times and decided to go into melee with one of the cyclops after using true strike on himself and also beating up on the same cyclops. the cat folk ranger made great strides in damage with her hunter ability to do additional damage to wounded foes the entire fight. The wizard did cause a bird to get sick in the distance after missing with his ray of sickness and used his rays of frost to deal out more consistent hits, relying on magic missile when the need was dire. ­The swashbuckler was eventually able to hit and it was critically damaging for his foes, the cat folk warlock was able to slowly pepper away at the foes, driving them away from her with each hit. The blood hunters fire arrows helped whittle away at the monsters hit points the entire combat, the satyr bard got to move everyone around the battle field with his inspirations and the minotaur bard got to use his charge attack to drastically wound one of the cyclops. Our rangers, mages, and blood hunter were able to dominate the long-distance game even with a smaller map than the giant pirate ship we had used last time. Our druid was able to use some great poison sprays and close-range spells while the wizard and warlocks definitely wore down the monsters with their arcane arsenal. The centaur barbarian used her great sword to amazing effect, most of the monsters failed to resist her additional lightning damage while the satyr barbarian was able to use one of his additional equipment to change up the battle dynamics. The bards did as bards do and supported everyone the best they could. Healing was hard to come by but luckily the satyr bard was able to give people temporary hit points around the battlefield. Dissonant whispers helped the party as well, with monsters fleeing from them they were granted free attacks each time. The monsters died and eventually the jovial atmosphere returned. Now the question is why did the monsters attack, and possibly who sent them?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Untamed Wilds session 7


Within sight of the Drake’s Fortune the party decided it was time to plan. The crow ranger used the spyglass and could see four different Jazinas walking around the ship, ogres with small ballista walking the triple decks of the ship, a blue ogre talking to the Jazina at the helm, odd Nothic eye beasts patrolling parts of the decks, gnolls manning small row boats filling the water, and a dark shape looming under the massive ship. They chose to toss in the titan hydra scale and then address their troops, the fifty minotaur and the two ogres they had on board with them as well as the quickling and the human cleric Kiel. As the captain, the satyr paladin, was summing up the plan with as much forethought as “get em” they heard sizzling from the water, the waves shifted, and the titan hydra grabbed the kraken from under the water and body-slammed it on the fleet of row boats that were surrounding the Drake’s Fortune. The quickling was sent aboard the Drake’s Fortune to cause havoc but no sign of him was seen since he ran across the water, stabbing gnoll as he passed. The party drew their ship in close to the Drake’s Fortune and sent ballista bolts with ropes attached to them to latch onto the ship. The ship had come in close enough that the barbarian centaur just jumped the twenty-foot distance, the paladin close on her hooves. They quickly encountered and distracted the three ogres with the oversized crossbows while other foes made to slow the party down. The lizard swashbuckler used one of the ballista and shot an ogre on the lower deck, which the ogre tried to return by shooting it back with his oversized crossbow but just became tangled in the rope having not pulled it from his body the proper way. Both the crow ranger and the catfolk blood hunter launched long range arrows at the crew and captain of the ship, drawing her attention. She used her wand of fireball to return the favor, hitting most of the party and burning their sails. After that the ranged fighters chose to spread out and get to the other ship by piggybacking with the minotaur over the open water. The minotaur started pulling the ships closer together via their ropes, keeping the ships from drifting too far apart and a boarding crew took the chance to climb aboard and go looking for their captured kin. The other group of party members went into the lower decks to battle against unseen foes. The paladin rode on the barbarian’s back helping her bash ogres and Nothic eye beast monsters in the thick of things. Our swashbuckler made his way over on one of the ropes and closed in on the rope confused ogre, which had fled into one of the doorways inside the ship. The swashbuckler turned the corner and ran the ogre through and noticed Jazina further in the ship. She cast a spell at him which caused his balance to be wrecked, making both walking and shooting his bow somewhat difficult, and she ran back into the ship, locking the door. While off kilter the swashbuckler was able to pull off a trick shot bounced off of Kiel’s helm and into an ogre. At this point the blood hunter made his way over and helped the swashbuckler right himself. The minotaur with the crow on its back had breached one of the doors and found the oar room with most of the minotaur chained to oars being whipped by a sickly gnoll and at his feet was the quickling laying in a pool of its own blood. The minotaur siege team took quick care of the gnoll and made to unlock their allies. Off at the back end of the room Jazina could be seen leveling a long tube with a wooden grip at the crow, a loud bang filled the air along with smoke and an inch sphere of metal lodged into him. The tube had blown up a bit and the Jazina dove behind minotaur for cover. The crow waited till she popped back up, being rewarded with her rising up with a wand leveled at him. He put two arrows into her face and as she fell back the wand discharged creating a globe of fire hitting a large portion of the minotaur. The crow spent the rest of the battle helping heal the wounded and saving the worse off ones from death, even the quickling, he also helped unbind the minotaur to help the others. The more abled bodied made their way deeper into the ship, taking out unseen threats. After the last ogre on deck perished from terrible blows from arrows, war hammers, and electric great sword strikes, the forgotten blue ogre caught the paladin, barbarian, and cleric Kiel in a cone of cold and ice, bringing them close to death. Two Jazinas made their way to the party, one creating fear in the minds of the cleric and the barbarian causing them to flee, and the other trying and failing to dominate the paladin. The blood hunter was attempting to scout other areas of the ship and ran face first into another eye beast, which he slammed the door on and attempted to brace it and flee, the creature did get off one of its eye effects, causing the blood hunter’s skin to rot. The blood hunter ran all the way back to the other ship, leaving the swashbuckler to deal with this dire foe. After a few attempts the swashbuckler was able to rend the foe and start sending arrows at the ogre as well. Kiel tried to keep up with the healing but there were so many injuries to work on that he was spread thin. Seeing the tables turning the paladin used his dance charm to catch Jazinas but failing to catch the ogre. The barbarian fled and after a few moments to calm herself charged on a lower deck and brought pain to the lesser of the two dancing Jazina, which also took an arrow to the skull from the blood hunter a few ships away, ending her threat. The ogre, seeing things were looking dire, if not just odd, charmed the paladin to stop dancing and Jazina cast her teleportation spell taking the ogre along with her. The party took stock of their situation as a few odd booms shook the ship and noted that not only did two of them get away, but another Jazina did not join the fight, the ship was starting to tip just slightly. The two sailors on the group realized the ship was slowly sinking from the way it was pitching and started looting the ship for supplies and munitions. Once they secured their gear and survivors the titan hydra thanked them for the chance of battle and offered to help speed their travel home with their liberated friends. Each player gets to choose either a plus one weapon or armor now as a reward for completing this story arc.

We did a podcast


Four years ago, my friends and I recorded a podcast. They have their own website dedicated to comics, video games and movies and wanted to try out Dungeons and Dragons, or in this case I ran an adventure in Pathfinder for them. Their Podcast is https://thenerdgasmpod.com and the link to the adventure is here https://thenerdgasmpod.com/2014/07/23/ep-41-dungeons-dragons/ Enjoy!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Untamed Wilds Session 6


With the antidote in hand the party healed everyone on their ship from the affliction of “Turned to Deer” and heard an odd sound, they looked overboard and found a small boat with a sleeping dwarf in it. When he woke up pulled out a rusty knife and jokingly threatened to take over the ship. They brought him aboard and fed him while he introduced himself to the party and the other people on the boat. He was a dwarf from the north island that had become separated from his fellow travelers. The lizard folk worked together to set up a wall of fishbones to replace the wall that was missing from the back of the boat where the captain’s quarters used to be, the wall was only a few feet high. They set sail on the trail of Jazina and her pirates and consulted their map again, the bard taking a bit of time to identify the map finding it was not only ancient but elven made and had a secret phrase that would unlock its hidden bounty. He spoke the elvish word for “reveal” and two islands showed up as well as an odd rock formation they would have to pass to get to Jazina and her flag ship, the Drakes Fortune. They sailed through the afternoon and came within sight of the first island, which as they got closer they observed abandoned boats. A few were newer, but most of them looked beaten and worn down by the sea and time. They gave it some distance and as night fell they saw fire in the center of the island and could hear some sort of revel taking place. The night air was filled with the smells of a delicious feast and the sounds of a good time, but the party stayed away from it. During the night they had a few visitors, a greeting was heard from the water and the druid lizard folk saw a small kobold on a boat that was set up like a general store. He offered the party wares for gold and trade. The group was split into two groups, one side wanted to murder him and take everything he had, the other side wanted to trade and would attempt to stop the other group if stupidity overtook them. They traded away their magic speaking golden monkey skulls for a spyglass, the other spyglass was in the captain’s quarters that sank to the deep. They bought some lumber, chains, potions, healers kits, and a potentially cursed yo-yo. He bid them ado and rowed off into the night after telling them the first island had food that was so good you never wanted to leave and the other island had shepherds that would sell you sheep if you had things to trade. The next watch saw a few whales off in the distance coming up for air and the following watch felt something rock their boat. With their torches they noticed a column of green scales that lead to the face of a sea serpent flickering in the light. The serpent asked in a booming voice for Jazina to show herself, which woke the entire boat sending the party scurrying. Diplomacy mixed with selective phrasing was attempted by the bard and monk leading to a quick and to the point discussion. The swashbuckler tried to hide his Jazina hats he had taken as spoils of battle. He looked into the water and saw another serpent head rising up. The heads both started sniffing the boat and eventually found the hats. The party found out the beast was an enemy of the creature that Jazina employed to destroy her enemies, the dreaded kraken. The party informed it where her ship was and they were not her friends. It left them a scale to throw into the water when they were close to her ship to bring him into the fray. Left confused, the party went back to sleep and finished off their watches. In the morning they sailed further past the second island, a hilly rock with herds of sheep milling about. They decided again to stay off and away from the island for fear of another deer incident. After a few more hours of sailing and some minor reef navigation they drew close to an odd bit of water full of broken ships, floating bodies, and in the distance large columns of stone jutting up from the ocean known as the Titan’s Ribcage. With their spyglass the ranger and blood hunter noticed odd forms flying around the ribs, recognizing them as more stitched together dragon creatures and they were eating something. With their combined effort in the crow’s nest and the centaur navigator they started making for the ribs, knowing from their map there was only one safe way through without wrecking the ship and ending up like the rest of the flotsam. As they started their progress they were almost caught off guard by one of the dragon creatures dive booming the deck. The bard knocked it out of the sky and into the water with a spell of laughter and it was struck by the boat as it continued moving forward. The centaur tied off the wheel and started her charge toward the front of the ship where all the action was taking place, the quickling guarding the wheel from danger if need be. The other two dragons hovered above the deck and blasted people with their chilling breath, the party all rushing up to deal with their foes. the minotaur had been ordered to attack anything they could with the ballista on the sides of the ship but were unable to bring anything to bear quick enough to deal with the dragons, some drawing smaller crossbows to shoot at the winged threats. The new dwarf friend called down a few pillars of radiant light to vex the scaled beasts and the monk was quick to land quite a few punishing blows against it, knocking it prone again. The first dragon eventually fell to the centaurs assault as well as electrical vengeance. The second dragon realized people were shooting at it and attacked the crow’s nest mercilessly with both chilling breath and tooth and nail. The blood hunter fell first, just to the floor of the crow’s nest and not out of it. The cleric threw a small ranged healing spell to him, hoping to keep him around for a bit longer. The ranger stabbed at the beast also taking a few hits too and eventually fled, almost succumbing to the pain. The third dragon had gone after the minotaur manning the ballista and was quickly punched in the back by repeat attacks of the monk and the dwarf cleric. The centaur had a few good hits as well and the beast fell. The monk, seeing his friends in the crow’s nest were in trouble, ran up to help them. The bard threw around a few spells to harry the minds of the dragons and enabled his allies to last longer in the combat as well as limited mobility bonuses, the druid threw fire at the dragons, attempting to burn them away, and while it was difficult to throw the flame the ship did not catch fire. The minotaur attempted to detach a few of the ballista to shoot at the dragons on deck and missed terribly. The swashbuckler had little luck with his bow. The crow’s nest was a mess, the ranger had fled and the blood hunter climbed away from the beast while it was preoccupied with the fleeing ranger, eventually the monk was able to bludgeon the life out of the dragon and it fell to the deck in a heap of broken bone and gristle. The party gathered their wits and continued piloting their ship before it continued its crash course with the ribs and were able to safely make their way within sight of the Drake’s Fortune, stationary on the sea on the horizon. The party has now made it to 5th level.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Untamed Wilds Session 5


With the ship still afloat, the group decided to multitask, one group went after whatever was left in the captain’s quarters and the other went below deck to find any remaining opposition on board. The crow ranger, the lizard swashbuckler, and the lizard druid entered Jazina’s cabin finding a book on the desk, a four-corner bed, and a few chairs. The book was disturbed by the swashbuckler, causing the entire cabin to slide off the ship, bars fell and locked into place on the windows, and the bed turned to stone causing the entire room to start sinking into the ocean. They first attempted the door, which sent an electric shock through them from the doorknob. The ranger slapped the book back on the desk, causing it to flip open and reveal the explosive runes charm. They took damage from the inferno and most of the room that was not submerged in water was now on fire. The druid used thunder wave to blow a hole in the ceiling and push the ranger through, but he got stuck. She tried to push him but accidentally was a bit frisky. The swashbuckler was able to get him free and push him out into the open ocean. They were able to swim up to the surface, realizing they had sunk almost ninety feet in less than a minute. They watched in the darkness as the room hit something serpentine and continue sinking. They joined the rest of their group on the ship. Meanwhile the paladin and the barbarian found and freed the minotaur below deck and found two other adventurers, a human wizard and a cat folk druid, as well as a strange mythical beast known as a Kirin. As soon as they opened the Kirin’s cell it flew off and the paladin swung a few points of healing on it as it passed him. They also found two ogres sleeping in the crew cabins, the paladin grabbed the pirate queens head, tossed it in their room and told them their master was dead, they could either join the crew proper or sink in the ocean. He gave them a few moments alone in their room and they came out to call him captain. The group all took jobs on the ship, the paladin acting as captain, the swashbuckler acting as first mate, the centaur as navigator, and everyone else looked into the food shortage issue having over fifty mouths to feed and bodies to get healthy. A few of the party took to fishing or assisting the ones fishing with magic, they were able to catch many odd fish and found out one of their new ogre friends was the ship's cook. They went with him to the kitchen and found it not up to ship standards, full of garbage, and the bones of many fish strewn about. They helped him clean it out and start over. The minotaur were all malnourished and exhausted from their time as gnoll prisoners and needed proper rest. The party checked out the map on board and realized it was a magic map showing them the entire sea as well as tiny boats to indicate where they were. They noticed the Drake’s Fortune was a about a day ahead of them and found two more islands that would have food to restock their larder, one labeled “fruits” and the other “meats”. The party made speed to the fruits island and found it, observing the island to only be a few miles wide with a large mountain surrounded by dense fruit bearing trees. The rangers and the blood hunter used their heightened senses to scan the island for other life and only found a few monsters lived on top of the mountain. The party used their away boats to ferry to gather the fruit, a few of the party and the ogre taste testing the product they were taking. They noticed the apple banana hybrid fruit to be overly delicious almost to the point of instant addiction, high in sugar and flavor, the wizard noticed all of it radiated mild transmutation magic. Seeing nothing instantaneous they figured it was good eating, even the tree sap was delicious, the centaur had one of the ogres try it and he tried to throw one of the trees to the ship so they could bring it with. The druids and paladin decided they needed to take saplings with them and returned to the boat. They decided to stay within eyesight of the island overnight and sail out in the morning, the first watch noticed a chilling green light on the island and when they went to wake the next watch both the paladin and the barbarian, the two that had tried the fruit had turned into deer. They switched out the watch and experimented with the fruit a bit finding no way to change them back. In the morning they realized they had never stopped the crew from continuing eating the fruit, and they also were all turned into deer, even Kiel and their quickling friend, who became a small cat sized deer. Realizing they had no real choice, they made their way back to the island and went to where they sensed the monsters the day before. They found a large ruined city and a temple built into the mountain. Inside the temple they found ancient broken traps and proceeded to break into every room and disturbing everything within, first finding spider webs and a room of spoiled goods, double doors with eyes painted on them, a broken dart trap that just blew whiffs of air, and a large spider and its three corpses it had been feeding on. The party was hesitant to open the double doors and had split into three smaller groups to deal with whatever the temple had left to throw at them. The spider was easy pickings for the party, it missed the druid with an attack and fell victim to fire and hoof attacks, leading into a hall with a gelatinous cube. The other small group found a skeletal man with green eyes sitting on a heavy chair in an empty room, he spoke in a strange tongue the bird and blood hunter did not recognize. The bird shot him twice, the skeleton spoke strange words and the bird disappeared in a flash of green smoke. The blood hunter continued to launch arrows into the skeleton until it tried to summon a larger spell to take out these invaders, bringing forth a shifting blue cube of elemental energy. The blood hunter weighed his options and shot the cube, causing the creature to drop it, causing a ten-foot radius sphere of nothingness to disintegrate part of the room as well as the creature. Those who spoke the human tongue heard it say “Oh shit” before a tearing sound ripped it from this world. Many members of the group gathered around to see what the commotion was on this side, leaving the paladin and the catfolk druid with the gelatinous cube, which was able to get off a few hits on the paladin while he and the cat both fled in opposite directions. At this point the bird fell to the ground in the main chamber with two odd women, one had a normal looking upper body but her legs were the body of a lion, the other had the lower body of a serpent. They welcomed the bird, asking them to help them drive out the invaders using magic to persuade him. The catfolk druid was investigating the murals and mosaics trying to figure out what this place was and from studying the wall art gleaned a bit of history. These creatures that lived here were like gods, they were worshiped by lesser things. They tried to gain more power by summoning a demon or devil, and it killed their gods and destroyed their cities, now only two of these creatures remain. She was also able to glean the order of cisterns to fix her friends. Most of the party was investigating a trio of cisterns and an arrow just missed the wizard, he turned to see the bird shooting at him, a strange snake lady try to charm him, and a lion woman charge him. Chaos ensued as the group tried to deal with these creatures. The paladin, having just gained some distance from the cube saw the bird shooting at his friends and started dancing, compelling the bird and the snake woman to start dancing as well. The party pummeled the Lamia, and realizing they were outmatched the lamia pled for mercy, promising treasure and a cure for the deer. The party took their word, spared them and gained the cure to save themselves and their crew. They returned to the ship with even more fruit, the antidote acted as a vaccine against the magic of the fruit, something the lamia had used to punish those that would steal from them without leaving tribute. They also admitted to selling deer to traveling merchants.

Untamed Wilds super session


On July eleventh, our session had an abnormally large turn out for players. We had a three of the regular players unable to make it and had four new players start. We were joined by a human life cleric, a human wizard, a cat folk drunken master monk, and a half elf eldritch knight fighter. Having prepared more of their sea voyage I had to change up my plans, pitting this army of twelve heroes against a force of invading ogres and hill giants. The giant kin were trying to attack Godmoot, the home of many of the players and the encounter went better than expected, each player getting moments to shine while combating the small attack force of giant kin. There was also a Nothic, an eye attack-based creature that ran on all fours and creeped everyone out, it was able to sneak up on the party members that were hiding out in the rear of the battlefield. It was a good two and a half hours of combat but it worked well, the monk catfolk stealing kills, the wizard crippling an ogre and freezing another. The paladin and our new cleric were able to magically bless a few of the new members as well, adding to their chances of success. Combinations of good crowd control from the bard and many arrows from the blood hunter and crow ranger helped whittle down their oversized foes. The cat folk ranger critically wounded one of the giants as it was fleeing the bard when the whole group got to attack it for free and the druid lizard was able to use her flame scimitar to great dismay of the ogres. Ray of sickness seemed to be a fun punishment against the ogres as well.