One Off “The Shining Loon”

This was a one-off game DM’d by a friend where I got to be a player. The short version of the story is “Keep the peace in your bar for one God-damned night”.

The Shining Loon is every adventurers’ dream tavern. Cheap beer, great music, friendly brawls… but now it’s in trouble. It turns out the tavern is losing its insurance. The premiums have been bad enough, but without insurance, the tavern will lose its license. Turns out casting Mending as a 5th level spell is not cheap…You’ve worked at The Shining Loon for a while now and feel a deep loyalty to her. After a lot of begging and bribing, you’re given one shot to save it: keep order in your bar for one goddamn night, by any means necessary. Unfortunately for you, tonight is the last night of the Festival of Lapuard.

— Adventure Backdrop

The Characters:

  • Skyler Grey, Human Rogue, Bar Owner.
  • Karl Marxgun the Hateful, Dwarven Abjuration Wizard, Barkeep, Brewer, Mage Hater
  • Draven Grimm, Warlock/Druid, Hermit who lives in the bar and sells nick-nacks out of a corner booth.
  • Eldric Liebowitz, Half-Elf Fighter, part-time bouncer, Lieutenant in the Queen’s Guard
  • Christoph the Dark, Human Gloomstalker Ranger, rat-catcher
  • Roland, Warforged Artificer, decoration that pre-dates the building being a bar
  • Mittens, cat, speaks and knows more than it should
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Savage Coast Domain Map in Progress

Thorfin Tait is the master mapper who has been taking all the classic maps of Mystara and turning them into beautiful modern hex maps. He has also been making them fit with each other in an attempt to create a complete world map of the planet.

I am nowhere near his league, but I needed an editable map of the area near my Mystara Campaign’s location so that my players can rule their domain, having conquered it.

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Mystara: Reality-Twisting Mystery

To recap, the Mystara campaign has three characters who are working to ascend to immortality. Originally, they worked their way through the two hardbacked adventures Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat, but fleshed out with a bit of Princes of the Apocalypse and all set in Mystara. In order to secure support from the Metallic Dragons, the characters promised to help build a secure dragon hatchery for Copper, Brass, and Bronze dragons so they could recover from the casualties inflicted in the battles with Tiamat’s legions of chromatic dragons. The characters found a likely location out on the Savage Coast and secured a ruined castle and a took an oath of fealty to a baron from Eusdria in return for grant of the land, upon the assumption that they aren’t wiped out by the hobgoblin khanate. 

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Retcon: God Kings

So, Home’s major point of uniqueness was the Monster Lords. These were evil deities who bonded their souls to the world. This was inspired by Tolkien’s posthumously published Morgoth’s Ring. I differentiated them by using the capital M for Monster vs monster.

Players always seemed to be a little bit confused by this. First you can’t really hear a capital letter. Second, it is called a monster and people have a reasonable expectation in roleplaying games that they can kill monsters. This goes beyond “don’t give it hp if you don’t want the players to kill it” rule. The game is very literally about killing monsters and saving the world. Naming the gods monsters was incorrectly suggesting players should expect to be able to kill them. Finally, it made new players feel like the Monster Lords were not actually gods. And that was really a big problem.

So, I am renaming them God Kings. This has several advantages. First, God is right there in the name. If you fuck with them, you totally deserve all the horrible things that happen to you. Second, monster is gone so the confusion is gone. Finally, it fits with the bronze-age setting.

Yup, that’s all. Short one.

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City of Heroes owns my soul again

In 2012 NCSOFT shut down City of Heroes, my favorite video game of all time. I participated in a couple of the effforts to save the game, but none of them worked out. Without City, I spent a few years drifting from game to game, stuck with Star Trek Online for quite a long time, but I never found anything else I enjoyed.

The big problems were that most games are exremely negative. Like heroes are actually evil, the world is getting worse no matter what the players do, etc. If the game isn’t negative then the developers/publishers are super greedy and kill it with bad monitization.

Stardew Valley was one that worked for me. But I kept killing it with mods, lol, and never did get a stable game that I enjoyed. Still, it held me for a very long time too.

I tried Black Desert, Champions, Star Wars The Old Republic, GalCiv, Xcom, Wasteland, Darksiders, and a bunch more I don’t remember.

Then, I heard about SCORE and the illegal CoH servers. Found Homecoming, and haven’t had much of a life left since. So if my blog is empty, and my games show less prep time, blame Leandro and GM Jimmy over at Homecoming. I am starting to work my way back to better prep for the games, and I have gotten some great ideas for fixing dominions and being rulers that I’ll be testing out before the end of the year. I also do have a few posts in draft form that I’m still working on. So, it hasn’t swallowed my soul completely.

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MAGI: Plot Recap and Next Steps

After our last session the party realized that they had too many unanswered questions. We reviewed all of the dangling plot points and discussed what the party wants to do next.

  1. What does the artifact trouble left in Cait do?
  2. Who hired the red plumes?
  3. What is the relationship between the arena, the orc, bully and the red plumes?
  4. How is noble family that rhuddy stole a hand from involved?
  5. What happened to the other 3 artifacts stolen from the amber temple?
  6. When (and who) will come from beyond the veil of death to speak to Arianwyn since she got a new body?
  7. What are the three redheads up to?
  8. Where is Challm’s new property?
  9. What is up with the gang war?
  10. Who are these other people who can travel through the necropolis?
  11. Where is the branch administrator’s key to MAGI property?
  12. What is going on with the elven civil war?
  13. Will the Valmont’s try anything?
  14. Is Nadezdha safe now?
  15. Who was not-siobahn?
  16. Why did she want to talk to an elf?
  17. Is the empire’s platinum safe?
  18. Will the priests of the monsters seek revenge?
  19. Will the howling demon and his succubus do anything to Jacques’ lands? or are they far enough away?
  20. How did olivia know about you guys and where did she go after she sent you to Passau?
  21. Did the new tree on Ash’s farm resolve the problem with teh shadow or not?
  22. If the mirror realm still has temples to all the monster lords, why was their priest too weak to kick out the efreeti?
  23. What happened to the person Challm was using his bar’s abilityto grant sanctuary to?
  24. What’s going on with the mist?
  25. What’s going on with esmerelda’s relationship with her bardic college?
  26. What was the deal with the murder that was the red plume’s first job?

Interrogation of Captain Ehrlich

The Red Plume’s commander was captured at the end of the party’s battle with him and his resurgent god, Goralik. His soul (and that of the mercenary force’s champion) was trapped into the hand of a statue of the god, which Arianwyn transformed into small statues she keeps in the library and has Trouble torment them with annoying questions. She brought out Ehrlich’s statue and activated it, conjuring his spirit in the form of a disembodied head. Esmerelda gave Arianwyn a pouch of some dust that she had custom made by someone who was not as respectful of corpse’s rights as the one who invented the Speak with Dead spell. This version compelled answers and made it very hard to lie. Arianwyn used it on Ehrlich for the following 5 questions (with a little additional side skills checks by the party).

What did the customer who hired the Red Plumes for the three jobs do with the key? He has it on his body, on a chain around his neck. I think he even sleeps with it.

How did he contact you? He sent messengers with a symbol, the signet ring of a noble family that went extinct generations ago.

>> The family was named Samogita but their original name was Zemotijit. Far in the past they were patrons of MAGI and eventually became members of the ministry. Some as agents and some as officers. The family died out, no one knows how. Some rumors about a rivalry with another family, but the details are lost.

What about the future? Future jobs and/or use for the artifacts? He complained about people looking for immortality only getting it half right. Elves live for millennia, undead too. But they can still be obliterated. He wanted to do it right.

Who were they protecting that he hired them to kill instead (1st job)? A minor noble family, from the mountains, they have a home here in the city. Their names were Evzan and Lada Ptacek. The wife was the target, the husband… well, he shouldn’t have tried to protect her.

Note: in other conversations it had been revealed that during the assassination the customer died too, but then later showed back up again in a different body.

>> Ash asked: what happened to the body of the customer? Int. Check: Nat 1. No idea.

What were the tells that allowed him to know the person in different bodies and/or anything his men might have told him? Ehrlich explained that he knew the client regardless of which body he appeared in because of the way he walked and moved. As a fighter that was relatively easy for Ehrlich to pick up on. Arianwyn wanted to know what where those tells, but being an archivist she couldn’t understand what he was saying. That is until Sir Bel came over and acted it all out and explained what was going on. Now everyone in the party can identify the customer regardless of what body he wears.

>> Ash asked her rats to check on the bodies: Yes the nobles were buried in her graveyard, and yes there was an unidentified body with them. The body was rendered down for glue and candles. One candle is left, which is now in Ash’s possession.

Trouble asked her contact Sam about the history of the families. The feud expanded until it reached hatfield vs mckoy levels. They kept using more and more powerful magic and even stealing from MAGI to use artifacts against each other. Rumors hold that when the first family died out their servants became a secret society dedicated to wiping out the others. Even MAGI started to hunt them both due to the thefts and artifact useage. Eventually there was no one left. The histories all say MAGI won in the end having taken out everyone involved.

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Three Ways to Resolve Solo Stories in a Group Game


This is an extended “behind the scenes”/DM Advice post. Recently in the MAGI campaign, three separate situations arose where characters were separated from the group as a cliff-hanger ending to a session. None of them were planned by the DM, they just happened organically. In order to minimize the impact on the next session, the DM resolved portions of their experiences with the players away from the table. Each situation and each player is different and so this post looks at how each one was handled with a little insight into the why of it. It also serves as a look at what might have been if the players had made different choices.  

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Vampire Build 2: Warlock

The Magical Vampire (Warlock, Pact of the Tome, Undying Patron) 

Resources for this build: 

Who is the Warlock Vampire – Mina Harker

As noted in my first vampire build post, I had a new player who wanted help building a vampire for their PC. The specific request was for a character that was beautiful, deadly, magical, could make people fall in love with them, was able to pick up anything and be good with it, move so fast they seem to teleport, etc. A lot of the positives without the emo baggage the World of Darkness dumps onto their vampires basically. 

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Divine Relationships Part 4: The Exalted

Deities, Followers, and Divine Casters

After one of my games a conversation came up about what is the relationship between a deity and a paladin vs a deity and a regular follower or an exalted being who has access to divine power. My answer to the player was unsatisfactory to us both so I thought I would explore it in more detail, especially as there are so many different ways that player characters can draw power from or have a relationship with their deity. This is part 4 of a 4-part series because I think about this sort of thing way too much.

  1. Introduction and Clerics
  2. Paladins
  3. Warlocks
  4. The Exalted

Final Comparison 

So how do these three things come together to define what makes the three classes similar and different? 

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Divine Relationships Part 3: Warlocks

Deities, Followers, and Divine Casters

After one of my games a conversation came up about what is the relationship between a deity and a paladin vs a deity and a regular follower or an exalted being who has access to divine power. My answer to the player was unsatisfactory to us both so I thought I would explore it in more detail, especially as there are so many different ways that player characters can draw power from or have a relationship with their deity. This is part 3 of a 4-part series because I think about this sort of thing way too much.

  1. Introduction and Clerics
  2. Paladins
  3. Warlocks
  4. The Exalted


With Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, WoTC introduced the celestial pact for warlocks. This is not the only reason I am including warlocks in the current series. Every form of warlock draws power from a source that is “greater than mere mortals” and every warlock has a relationship with that patron that is both similar to and unique from the way clerics and paladins relate to their gods.

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