D&D5E Campaign Update – Facing the Black Spider, and Goodbye to a Friend

We brought the Lost Mines of Phandelver campaign to a close just in time for my friend to move away. He actually put his moving day back so we could squeeze one last session in, and we managed to wrap everything up. There was a lot of combat and I’m just saying it right now, my DM did a great job. He bought a 3D printer the week before and had been printing some models, which came out really well. Including this –


But we’ll get to that later.

This is actually going to be talking about a couple of sessions as we had two either side of the weekend, but all we did was go through the lost mine. We fought some ooze (which was a really cool model) a flaming skull, a wraith, a spectator, and more! The Half-Orc warlock in our party got a new gift from his patron while I and the Rogue were doing tons of damage with our attacks. But the best was saved for the last session.

We ended up going to the boss room a little earlier than expected, but before that Neil had to have his swansong. He was playing a sorcerer with a terrible memory, but it turned out that he had merely forgotten that he was a level 20 legend. So he had a whole new character sheet and had to take on a dragon that the gem guarding the black spider brought forth from a hellish dimension. The rest of us took a back seat, which was fine because it was Neil’s last session, and we were happy to be given a glimpse into what it’s like to see a level 20 character in action.

The final cherry though is that the DM had recorded some snippets of conversation and modulated them for the dragon, and he played these through his phone, which added another level of creepiness to the encounter. It was tremendous work and I applaud him for it. The battle raged and Neil had a suitably epic death, and left us with some parting presents.

But we still had the Black Spider to face, who had been the person terrorising the region. During the battle we became poisoned, which meant we had to roll with disadvantage, but funnily enough my disadvantage rolls were actually higher than my normal rolls! I’m glad we had Neil’s battle because the fight with the Black Spider was a little anti-climactic, so the iconic moment for us was saying goodbye to our friend.

So we travelled back to the town and were given a 10% stake in the mine’s profits, which hopefully we’re going to use to renovate the mansion. Oh, and we put the flaming skull in charge of the mansion. Because that seemed like a good idea.  I also ended up with four quarterstaffs so I’ve begun a collection of those and each of them are a little different.

This was the first full D&D campaign I played through and it was really fun. I love my character, and the story was pretty good too, although there were points where we went months in between sessions. We’ve played it more regularly over the summer and it definitely makes a difference. There’s only going to be three of us in the party now so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out, but I think as the campaign has gone on we’ve become better players, and Dan has really grown into the role of DM, as this was the first time he’d ever done it. We’re starting The Hoard of the Dragon Queen next, so I’m looking forward to beginning a new story and getting a few more abilities!


Movie Review – Paper Towns (2015)

Director: Jake Schreier

Stars: Nat Wolff, Carla Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage

Quentin (Wolff) used to be friends with Margo (Delevingne) who has a love of mysteries. She often disappears, and after one crazy night where she ropes in Quentin she vanishes again, but this time Quentin thinks that she left so he could find her. In an effort to live life to its fullest he takes a risk and goes after her, hoping that she’ll be waiting for him.

Live life to its fullest and appreciate the people around you, that’s the basic message of Paper Towns and it doesn’t amount to much more than that. I found it highly disappointing. The basic story is uninteresting and I was never interested in Quentin as a character, he just seemed to be a bit, well, pathetic. This isn’t a criticism of Delevingne but the film was at its best without her on the screen as I found it much more enjoyable when it was a buddy road trip movie, but whenever the focus was on Quentin and Margo’s ‘relationship’ the film ground to a halt.

It begins with Margo roping Quentin into a night of revenge, where she gets back at her boyfriend for cheating on her. Some of these pranks just seemed cruel and didn’t do anything to endear me to either character. It seemed that basically these were kids making their own problems out of nothing. Boo hoo, get over it. Much more interesting was Ben’s attempts to move on from a high school nickname, or Radar’s struggles to incorporate his girlfriend into his life when he was afraid that she might find things odd, or Lacey’s yearning to be seen as something more than just a beautiful girl. The pining of Quentin was shallow, and should not have been the focus of the film.

Paper Towns, at times, did seem to be deconstructing the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ trope, in which a female character is quirky and odd, and also exactly what the main character needs in order to save him from his loneliness (examples of this are Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown or Natalie Portman’s in Garden State). This film does go to lengths to show that Quentin is in love with his idea of Margo rather than the reality, but the climax does undercut this somewhat so I don’t think it goes as far as it could have in deconstructing the romantic quest.

The film does have some laughs however, including a good use of the Pokémon theme, but ultimately it was lacking.  I actually considered walking out part of the way through simply because I didn’t find it interesting. It was dull and the overarching message isn’t one that’s revolutionary or original. This is one to avoid, most definitely.

D&D5e Campaign Update – The Race to Level 5

Okay, so in this one some metagaming played a part. We’re coming to the end of the Lost Mines of Phandelver campaign but one of our group is moving away, so we’re trying to get t finished in a couple of sessions before he leaves. However, our DM thought it might take a bit longer, and since we were close to level five he suggested the other three of us have a session where we can level up and get that sorted out, so we don’t have to stop and start in our next session.

We started off heading to Wave Echo cave where we ran into some Bugbears and a few other nasties. Apparently this encounter wasn’t in the scenario guide, but later on I am going to mention a couple of spoilers so if you’d rather not know about some of the things waiting in Wave Echo Cave, beware!

Since I have the ability to reduce damage from ranged attacks I was happy to sit in the middle and have javelins thrown at me, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Luckily I have the movement to run around and catch up with the fights. We finished the fight handily, and were confident we’d reach level five in no time. One nice touch is that the DM had the Bugbear kill himself rather than subject himself to our interrogation methods, because our Rogue and Half-Orc have a tendency to kill people no matter what.

We go into Wave Echo Cave and our DM realises that he’s made a little miscalculation. It’s actually 6500 to level five, not 6000, so he has to make some adjustments on the fly. Anyway, we split up and explore the cave when this glob creature attacks us. The DM did a great job with the model, and it was a fun fight. Then, because I have a curious nature, I flung a set of doors open and ghouls came out. This time it was a little more tense because they have the ability to paralyse, requiring a constitution save to escape. For some reason I was rolling pretty well yesterday, but on the CON saves I was doing terribly. Anyway, we make it through that one alive and then we explore a little more and find some stairs. I get excited and run up the stairs only to find about nine ghouls waiting for us.

Oh no.

We’re also bottle-necked, which is okay in some respects because it meant that not all of them could attack. I also made good use of my Patient Defense ability (until the start of my next turn all attacks made against me by attackers I can see are made with disadvantage). This was particularly nice when my DM rolled a crit, but had to take the lower dice score, and thanks to my AC of 18 I was fairly safe. Not so my friends. The Half-Orc misty-stepped to the rear of the pack and tried to do Burning Hands but he didn’t roll much damage, and since he went into battle with half his hit points (despite us telling him to use a healing potion) he was down fairly quickly. Then the rogue fell soon after that, and at this point I’m still only level four so I only have four Ki points. I can still make two attacks but I can no longer use my patient defense.

The other guys do their saving rolls while my AC does its job and I manage to keep whittling away at the ghouls. Both my comrades get down to 2 saves and 2 fails, and thanks to some ingenuity by the DM they manage not to suffer perma-death. Meanwhile I get struck down to 2 hit points while there are two fresh enemies remaining, but Corrin Lyvan stands strong and manages to end the fight with a crit.

Phew. That was damn tense considering it was only supposed to be a quick session. We made it to level five as well, and I’m now halfway to level six! I’m excited for level five though. Proficiencies go up by one so I get some extra modifiers on my attacks. For my monk abilities I get an extra attack, just because, so on my turn I can do a maximum of four attacks if I use Flurry of Blows. I also get Stunning Strike, where I can attempt to stun someone I’ve hit, paralysing them until the start of my next turn, which I think will be rather fun. With my fast movement I think it’ll all me to attack and move, setting up the enemies for my allies to knock down. My monk damage die has gone up from a d4 to a d6 as well, so my unarmed strikes have the chance to do more damage.

All in all it’s shaping up well and I can’t wait to try out these new abilities!