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Remembering Stan

It’s hard to be too upset about the loss of Stan Lee. Don’t think me callous, instead look at a man who lived ninety-five years of life, and left a legacy that will outlive his grandchildren’s grandchildren. How many authors and artists become household names, not merely within those households with comic books on the shelves, but in the homes of anyone who has ever been to see a film in the last decade. (more…)

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Dungeon Situational – Books and Their Secrets

Books, rich tomes of lore and knowledge, and in a world of magic, power, monsters, worse, and better, knowledge can reveal so much about the world that you can use to twist and bend to your advantage. Eldritch secrets, long forgotten treasures, and far darker mysteries abound to those with the patience to settle down and get some reading done.

As per usual, Dungeon Situational uses Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules but should be readily modified. It’s all just ideas to get you thinking about how to stock your own fantasy library.

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Review – The Haunting of Hill House

Ok, one more post-spooky-season horror review, I’ve just sat and binged another of Netflix’s later efforts, and it’s worthy of discussion. This series tells the tale of a family of house flippers looking to land their biggest payday, one final renovation project before they settle in to an easy life, but as the narrative of their future tells us, we know they never got that far, and everything has fallen apart. (more…)


Dungeon Situational – Three Quest Specific Spells

The spells of D&D 5e – as contained within the Players Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to everything and other sources – appeal to a broad range of characters with applications in combat and in many instances of day to day life. In a world of unexpected and varied dangers it pays to cover all bases… but what if the more a plot unravels, the more specific forms of magic become useful to you?

Presented here are very specific spells designed to inspire ideas specific to your own campaign, referring to motives of specific factions or parties, designed for combating a particular type of opponent, or overcome a particular type of obstacle. The rules as listed use Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, but should be readily modified to suit most fantasy systems. Here are three campaign-specific spells.

Abjure Serpents

3rd level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, M (A trilliant cut emerald worth at least 200 GP)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes.

Snakes, yuan-ti, hydras, and other serpentine creatures within 10 feet of you must succeed on a wisdom saving throw or be afraid of you. While afraid of you they cannot use their action for anything other than dashing away from you. Creatures must repeat the saving throw when they enter or start their turn within the range of the spell. Creatures you designate within the range have advantage on saving throws against poison effects, and resistance to poison damage.

At higher levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, you may increase the radius of the spell by 10 feet, and again when you use a 7th level spell slot, and again when you use a 9th level spell slot.

Decipher

6th level divination (ritual)
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Touch
Components: V, M (a complex puzzle of wooden or metal pieces that has been solved)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour.

For the duration your mind sees through elaborate and complicated patterns as if they were childishly simple, isolating clues, and comprehending solutions. The affected creature has a +10 bonus to intelligence checks made to solve riddles, puzzles, and devices. This bonus applies to all checks made to recall knowledge concerning the riddle, puzzle, or device, and to investigation checks made to search for clues, hidden components, or hidden patterns.

The spell does not account for active deceptions, or any knowledge not overtly possessed by the creature, such as languages it does not understand. If a component is missing, the spell will allow the creature to observe this fact, but will not reveal the location of the missing object, unless it is something they have already encountered, or if it is something that can be found within areas the creature investigates while affected by the spell.

Mark of Bel’Taln

Transmutation Cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: S
Duration: 1 hour

When you cast Mark of Bel’Taln, take 1 fire damage. A brand in the shape of the arcane mark appears on your skin on a location of your choosing, and remains there for the duration before fading.

The mark is used to identify members of the cult of Worshipful Bel’Taln to one another, and can only be taught to members by other members. A creature does not need to have the spellcasting feature to be able to cast Mark of Bel’Taln, but you must have a wisdom or charisma score of 13 or higher. This spell cannot be learned by elves or half elves.

When you reach 5th level, and good standing within the cult, you may be granted one of the additional features listed below. You may gain additional features at 11th level, and again at 17th. You must be granted these features by a a higher ranking member of the cult. When you cast the Mark of Bel’Taln, you take additional fire damage equal to twice the number of additional features you know.

  • While you bear his mark, you may speak the language of Bel’Taln. You can understand and be understood by monstrosities as if you shared a language, and you have advantage on charisma checks and animal handling checks made to influence their behaviour.
  • While you bear his mark, you have the blessing of Bel’Taln. You have resistance to acid and cold damage. Your unarmed attacks deal bludgeoning damage equal to your proficiency modifier, and you may choose to make unarmed attacks using your spellcasting modifier instead of strength.
  • While you bear his mark, you know the heart of Bel’Taln. You may teach the cantrip Mark of Bel’Taln to another creature. Doing so takes 1 hour, and the process ordains the creature into the cult of Worshipful Bel’Taln. That creature must meet the requirements to learn the cantrip as listed above.
  • While you bear his mark, you know the wrath of Bel’Taln. When a creature makes a melee attack against you, you may use your reaction to deal an amount of acid damage to that creature equal to your spellcasting modifier.
  • While you bear his mark, you know the enemies of Bel’Taln. You have advantage on skill checks when they specifically pertain to elves. For example, you have advantage on stealth checks made to hide from elves, or insight checks made to sense the motives of elves.

Ok, I think we run this series through November and then put it to rest for a few months. I have had an idea for something else for next year, and I have some films chalked up to review. As for next week:

Books and their secrets, some tomes of knowledge that grant unexpected benefits, such as spells, formulas for magic items, or unveiling the location of incredible treasures.

An extra planar encounter table, detailing potential encounters within… let’s see… Carceri! The Prison Plane, the inescapable torment.

Or three different ways in which paladins can embrace or interpret their oaths, and the laws that they abide by.


Review – Daredevil Season 3

No preamble, I’ve done this enough times to give you guys the short version. Some spoilers, some of them are bigger than others. TL;DR? I liked it. Let’s get into the meat of the review, shall we? (more…)


GeekOut Shrewsbury October ’18 – Lycanthropy

You’ll excuse me if I was glad of a quieter GeekOut this month, it’s been an exhausting few weeks, culminating in being unwillingly decorated for Hallowe’en last Friday. The bruising is almost faded, the blood is almost gone from my eye, but I’m still exhausted.

Still, after a quiet start – just me and Cal for a couple of hours or so – I think we amounted to a little under twenty of us altogether, and a huge thanks to all of those who came, those who joined in the costume competition, and the two sentence horror story competition, and thanks to Nicole for demanding she run a game of Werewolf so that I’d sit and play a game for a short while.

Premeet – The Boiler Room

Pay not attention to the content of the notebook…

I had about half an hour or so to sit and get some work done before I was joined by Cal, not pictured are the efforts of the werewolf costume and the beard that could rival mine that will become more apparent later in the gallery. Not an awful lot to say here, other than the world was proverbially set to rights over coffee and raspberry milkshake before we moved on to a similarly empty Monty’s Tower.

Monty’s

First of all, congratulations to Hannah for winning the two sentence horror story competition, which was very heavily laden with in-jokes, I hadn’t realised how many of those we’d come to develop over the last year and a half. Hannah’s entry sickened me beyond words, and has left me with a greater trauma than any recent criminal activity made against my person:

There was an adorable puppy.
It died, horribly.

And you can see the photos, no guessing who won the competition for best costume, but considering where I found Cal in summer, I really should be more careful putting a costume competition on the docket.

All assembled personages have since been checked for signs of metamorphosis, and argyrophobia, results have proven inconclusive.

A New Toy

Regulars know Vinni by now, right? Possibly by face if not by name, for he has many. Well, aside from being the one local holder of a copy of Gloomhaven that I know about, he also works heavily with wood, and has previously brought custom game boards, and has also been spotted in the wild peddling wooden wares (check out Wreathen Works for more), and most recently he has constructed something for a friendly local dungeon master:

Serious cannot begin to thank Vinni for this one, a custom, fully branded GM screen made of black valchromat, sprayed and carved into shape, with plans to attach metal strips for the purpose of adding magnetised notes to the back some time after the Hallowe’en game at Whittington castle (for which one place remains if anyone is interested) where the screen will be making its glorious debut.


Next event is on the 29th of November, NaNoGeKo… which is a terrible pun! And no, no novel writing will be required, but writing discussion is actively encouraged, and if people are in the mood for a mini-round table, I’m up for it if you are. It will be a quiz month, and I promise to try and tone down the difficulty, still got a lot of fine-tuning to do.

See you then.


Dungeon Situational – 20 Rumours

Information is a valuable commodity to an adventuring party, no matter the setting. Whether the group are seeking information on a quest they’re already involved in, or looking for a job to keep them in gold and hot meals, keeping an ear to the ground in taverns or out in the street can be an excellent source of information, but only once they have separated out all of the misinformation from the truth.

Among the rumours listed below is a mixture of truth, half-truth, and out and out lies, and within that information there are hooks for two quests, the location of a dungeon, and one piece of mundane gossip. It is up to your players how they will learn which is which, and up to you where the truth is.

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Video Game Review – Arkham City

Tim, no reading, there may be spoilers.

As for the rest of you, it’s been ample time for you all to have played, but as Tim recently played Arkham Asylum for the first time ever, it seems a good time to talk about the sequel. Arkham City is fodder for every gaming hall of fame going, a neat blend of sandbox with high quality story, stealth and action, puzzles and combat, and perhaps one of the best representations of Batman ever put to a screen of any size. Arkham City was also going to be the last ever appearance of Mark Hamill as the Joker, promising he’d only return if they ever animated The Killing Joke (they did, he did). (more…)


Dungeon Situational – Three Curses

Among the many weapons in the DMs arsenal, often we overlook the idea of curses. Monsters and traps aplenty, puzzles and challenges, sure, but a curse is something wholly other. Disease is frequently too random, we rarely use disease because it is not something earned through foolish action, but a curse can be laid upon a player who does something foolish, or stumbles across something terrible.

These curses broadly use Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but can easily be adjusted for other systems and settings.

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HorrorBabble: Audiobooks and Dramatic Readings

As a compromise to my ever declining reading habits, I have instead decided to embrace audiobooks with a passion. My recent Lovecraft addiction has ultimately led me to HorrorBabble, a small UK based narration group who read from a short list of public domain and permitted authors, as well as a few original creations. They have an affiliation with Rue Morgue, an international horror magazine* and production company, so in a short space of time they’re already part of a larger media empire, and with good reason.

Simple, beautifully recorded audio, hours of books recorded by a collection of readers, almost entirely Ian Gordon who has been the bulk of my listening habits thusfar. Ian is not the most lively reader, one might be forgiven – in those moments when two characters are talking to one another – for confusing one character for another to an extent, but his voice is soft and clear, at once relaxing, and a little chilling. As cofounder, he also records some of his own material for the channel. (more…)