Monday, January 25, 2016

Llama (D&D 5th Edition)

Llamas are even-mannered camelids, often raised by halflings as livestock, pack animals, and mounts. Because of their relatively small size and skill in navigating rough terrain, these animals are valued by adventurers for dungeoneering. Llamas shy away from combat, preferring to use their Spit ability to blind an attacker while they run away. They can be trained to spit on command, and llama spitting contents are popular events at many halfling festivals.

Medium beast, unaligned

AC: 12
HP: 7 (1d8+2)
Speed: 40 ft.

STR: 13 (+1), DEX: 14 (+2), CON: 15 (+2), INT: 2 (-4), WIS: 12 (+1), CHA: 7 (-2)

Skills: Athletics +3
Senses: Passive Perception 11
Languages: -
Challenge: 1/8 (25 xp)

Beast of Burden: The llama is considered to be a Large animal for the purpose of determining its carrying capacity.

Sure-Footed: The llama has advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws made against effects that would knock it prone.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) piercing damage

Spit (Recharge 5-6). The llama chooses a target within 10 feet of it. That target must make a DC 12 Dexterity Save or be blinded for 1d4 rounds.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Eresh'Ka (a literally dead language)

Eresh’Ka is the ancient secret language of the undead, created by the long-forgotten gods of the Neverborn. Knowledge of this language is gifted upon a creature in the infinite moment when it receives the Bleak Apotheosis of undeath. All undead, despite their mortal origins or heritage, know this language. Even non-sapient undead like skeletons and  zombies understand Eresh’Ka. The language has been compared to the echo an empty tomb, the shifting of charnel ashes, and the groaning of unhallowed earth. 

Ambitious mortals might learn Eresh’Ka from an undying patron or the ancient ghoul-hide tomes of Ur. Finding such a resource is not easy, but once the mortal has access to the language, they can learn it using the normal rules for learning a new language. (For D&D 5th Edition, this means taking the Linguist feat or spending time and money. The money buys exotic psychotropic compounds used to make the mind pliable enough to contemplate the tongue of the dead.)

Learning Eresh’Ka does not leave the mortal unchanged. As they study and contemplate the blasphemous language, the subtle touch of the Neverborn tortures their corpus, permanently reducing the mortal’s Constitution score 1. However, their Wisdom score also permanently increases by 1, as their mind is further opened to forbidden truths of the universe.

It should be noted that knowledge of Eresh’Ka does not give the mortal any special influence over the undead.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Pumpkin Knight (D&D 5th Edition Monster)

And we're back. We moved into a new house right after Gencon, and that was quickly followed up a record busy season at work. Consequentially, I've been away from the blog for a few months. That's all done now.

So, here's a monster that's been tormenting the heroes in my D&D game.

Pumpkin Knights are fey proto-creatures bound into suits of enchanted black plate armor. A flickering green witch-light glows within the jack-o-lantern that serves as the creature's head. These fey beings are often mistaken for constructs or even plant creatures.

Pumpkin Knights are created by the Archfey. They are often used as shock troopers by the Psychedelic Overlords and the armies of the Autumn Court. On the Prime, Pumpkin Knights are sometimes summoned to serve warlocks with pacts to the Archfey. They are often attracted to earthly locations thick with wicked sylvan magic.

Pumpkin Knight
Medium Fey, Neutral Evil

Armor Class: 18 (plate armor)
Hit Points: 85 (10d8+30)
Speed: 30 ft.

STR: 18 (+4), DEX: 12 (+1), CON: 16 (+3), INT: 8 (-1), WIS: 12 (+1), CHA: 16 (+3)

Saving Throws: Constitution +5, Charisma +5
Skills: Athletics +6, Perception +3
Condition Immunities: Charmed, Poisoned
Damage Immunities: Fire, Poison
Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 13
Languages: Sylvan, Abyssal
Challenge: 4 (1,100 xp)

Innate Spellcasting. The Pumpkin Knight's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13). The Pumpkin Knight can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

1/day each: Fear, Invisibility, Tasha's Uncontrollable Laughter

Not of This Earth. If a Pumpkin Knight dies on a plane other than the Feywild, its body, along with all its weapons and armor, instantly falls to ashes and burnt leaves.

Flaming Greatsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) slashing damage plus 5 (1d10) fire damage.

Fire Breath (Recarge 5-6). After making a successful melee attack, the Pumpkin Knight exhales fire on that same target as a Bonus Action. The target makes a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 14 (4d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

QAGS and Cavemen

Between renovating and moving into the new house, along with getting ready for Gencon, I have let the blog slip a bit. Things should be back to normal in August. For now, though... courage!

QAGS and Cavemen
My current project for Hex Games involves a prehistoric "Cavemen and Dinosaurs" QAGS setting (working title: Dinosaur Act). It' s mostly inspired by old Ray Harryhausen and Bert I. Gordon movies like One Million Years B.C. I'm not attempting scientific accuracy.My general conceit is to depict cavemen and dinosaurs the way I imagined them at age 12.

Plus I get to use plastic dinos and cro-mags as miniatures, so that's fun.

I'm running a test adventure for the setting at Gencon this year, and I'm letting my players make their own PCs. To help them out, I put together a big list of Cavemen QAGS Words, and now I'm going to share it with you.

Hunter, Warrior, Scout, Shaman, Healer, Midwife, Prophet, Beast Keeper, Dino Rider, Gatherer, Crafter, Storyteller

Ancestral Weapon, Hard to Kill, Feat of Strength, Animal Friend, Sharp Senses, Loyal Hunting Dog, Fleet fo Foot, Guided by Spirits, Lucky, Inspiring Story, Great Endurance, Natural Leader, Per Dinosaur, Fertile, Burly, Handsome

Sickly, Born Under a Bad Sign, Small, Clumsy, Monster Bait, Dull Senses, Bully, Overconfident, Prideful, Lone Wolf, Haunted, Smells Like Prey, Foolish, Bestial, Lazy, Doomed, Battle Scars, Jinxed, Past Your Prime, Ugly

Archery, Wrestling, Running, Leadership, Intimidation, Hallucinogens, Cave Painting, Smoke Signals, Child Birthing, Bird Calls, Boasting, Trepanning, Spear, Sling, Skulking, Snares, Wound Binding, Weaving, Skinning, Pottery, Flint Knapping, Fire Making, Weather Sense, Dog Training, Tracking, Storytelling, Listening, Tool Making, Foraging, Club, Leaping

Ron Perlman, Jason Mamoa, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Raquel Welch, Richard Kiel, Richard Moll, Johnny Depp, Paul “The Big Show” White, Nick Nolte, Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, Lucy Lawless, Danny Trejo, Jack Black, Tony Todd, Ving Raimes, Steve “Dollar Sign” John$on, Madds Mikkelsen, Benicio del Toro, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronda Rousey, John Goodman, Carl Weathers, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Rosario Dawson, James Purefoy, Charlize Theron, Megan Gale, Grace Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Samuel L Jackson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Karl Urban, Chris Pratt, Rosie Grier, Lou Ferrigno, Gina Torres, Mako

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gencon Games 2015 (QAGS!)

Games registration for Gencon starts today in just a couple of hours. The Hex Games crew will be running several events this year, and I will be running four QAGS games myself.  Our games havea good history of selling out, so jump on them while you can!

You can see a list of all of the Hex Games events HERE. (You will need to log into the Gencon site.)

Meanwhile, here's a run-down of the games I am running...

UPDATE: Sweet cimmeny Crom! Within three hours of registration opening, two of my games had sold out, and the other two each had one seat left open. As of right now (seven hours after registration), only Death on a Dangerous Planet has an open seat left. This is supremely flattering.

Overall, 12 out of 20 QAGS games have already sold out. Our remaining eight games have only 21 seats left between them. Man, sign up while you can! Exciting!

Hobomancer: The Blight from Beyond (Thursday 7pm)
It’s the height of the Great Depression, and those all-American shamans known as Hobomancers ride the rails defending the soul of this great nation from all manner of supernatural evil. Something uncanny is mutilating cattle out in Big Sky Country, and now it hungers for human prey. It’s up to you to stop this unknown terror before the land is torn asunder!

Cavemen & Cro-Mags (Friday 10am)
It’s a million years in the past. Mighty reptiles prowl the volcanic jungles of a primitive Earth while fur-clad humans lurk in caves and commune with tribal spirits. A rival tribe has stolen your people’s totem, bringing doom upon your kin. You and your hunting partners must travel to the Valley of Ash and retrieve the sacred object. It’s anachronistic stone age adventure in a time that never was!

Death on a Dangerous Planet (Friday 3pm)
t’s the height of the Cold War, and a strange new planet has been discovered orbiting an exotic star. Planetary Expedition Alpha has disappeared, and it’s your mission to find them. But beware, the Soviets have sent their own teams to this dangerous, psychotropic world. You must overcome enemies both familiar and alien and secure this new world for America.

War Apes of Gorgamoth! (Saturday 12pm)
A savage time in an untamed land calls for heroes of blood and steel! Your band of bold adventurers has been captured by the dreaded War Apes of Gorgamoth. You are doomed to a short life of brutal toil in the Bloodmines unless you find the courage and strength to overthrow your inhuman oppressors. Pulp sword & sorcery action awaits!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Carcosa's Thirteen Races of Man

The psychotronic and savage world of Carcosa is home to 13 races of Man, all of various colors (three of which are quite alien). Geoffrey McKinney’s Carcosa leaves the details of 13 races of Man mostly undefined. There are no mechanical differences between the races. Their cultures, traditions, and physiologies are left to the individual GMs.

Hacking Carcosa to other game systems has been an ongoing pet project of mine. The two game systems I’m most interested in converting Carcosa to are Fate and Barbarians of Lemuria. To properly use aspects and stunts in Fate, and to properly assign boons and flaws in BoL (or, at least, the way I want to do it), we need to have more information about these races.

Thankfully, that kind of stuff is fun to write.

Red Men
The Red Men of Carcosa have lean lanky builds with high foreheads and long legs. Their skin tone ranges from bright scarlet, to dusky rust, to dark crimson. Their hair tends to be several shades darker than their skin, approaching almost-black in crimson-skinned individuals. Their limbs and faces are often decorated with shimmering, geometric tattoos made from ink distilled from golden fire-cacti.

Red Man tribes live as wandering bands in the great desert wastes of Carcosa. They make no permanent settlements but follow the migration of the great stegosaurus herds they hunt. Red Men have a great resistance to heat and sun, and require only half the water of other Men. Due to their nomadic lifestyle, Red Men encounter a greater variety of Carcosan Men than other colors, very often in semi-peaceful trade. As such, the language of the Red Men has become a kind of “common tongue” for the Men of Carcosa.  

The Red men have a complicated and multi-layered system of ancestor worship. A Red Man believes the spirits of all his ancestors for the last seven generations reside within his body, and that the spirits of his ancestors’ ancestors reside within their spirit bodies, and so on and so forth. Red Men often wear the elaborately decorated skins of their ancestors as clothing. This often takes the form of sturdy and surprisingly artistic leather armor.

Yellow Men
The skin of the Yellow Men ranges from a bright lemon color to a sickly, diseased hue like old parchment. Their hair usually matches their skin tone, but takes on a metallic, golden sheen as they age. Their eyes are like beads of amber with no visible pupils or irises. Their ears come to leaf-like points. While not especially tall or short, Yellow Men to be heavy-set and gain weight easily. Unlike all other races of Carcosan Man, Yellow Women do not lay eggs, but birth their young live.

Yellow Men are the only race of Man that makes common use of watercraft. Yellow men are accomplished sailors, and often attack coastal settlements. They are feared sea raiders, and their great, fungus-hulled, wing-masted ships are visions of terror to other Men of Carcosa. Yellow Men build their villages in protected quays in small archipelagos.

With their inauspicious color and their affinity for seas and lakes, many suspect that the Yellow Men are somehow connected to Hastur (The King in Yellow). These suspicions are not unfounded. Indeed, many Yellow Men believe they are descended from the Unnamable One. More than one Yellow warlord has taken the title “The Yellow King.” None have died peacefully or well.

Purple Women
The Purple Women of Carcosa are an all-female race. The skin tone of these amazons ranges from dusky lavender to deep plumb. They are tall and athletic, and their lips and gums are black, as is their blood. Purple Women must mate with other races in order to procreate. Children from these unions are always Purple Women. The clothing, gear, and armor of Purple Women are often decorated with the bones or teeth of their mothers and grandmothers.

Purple Women live in the rolling hills and valleys of Carcosa, where they herd and breed various breeds of dinosaur. These dinosaurs are used as mounts or beasts of burden, and Purple Women are expert dino-wranglers. Raptors, triceratops, and ankylosaurs are especially favored. The Infinite War Queen of Stars is said to have rode a laser-breathing tyrannosaurus. Purple villages are usually protected by earthen walls and ruled by the most proficient warrior.

Purple Women live in fear of their ancestors’ angry ghosts. Their religious rituals and sacrifices are designed to appease these spirits. “Grandmother Ghosts” still long for battle, even after death. By wearing the bones of their ancestors into combat, the Purple Women hope to satisfy these spirits’ bloodlust.

Black Men
The Black Men of Carcosa are tall and powerfully built. A six-foot-tall Black Man is considered short by his peers, and many stand well over seven-feet-tall, approaching eight. Their skin is jet black, ranging from glossy like onyx to matte like charcoal. The eyes of a Black Man are like orbs of onyx with white or purple pupils. Their teeth are dark gray and their blood is silver. Their bodies, both male and female, are utterly hairless.

Black Men prefer to make their settlements in mountains. They inhabit caves or build small keeps of unmortared stone. Such keeps often use tamed giant scorpions as guards.

Black Men revere and worship thunderstorms, and call themselves “Children of The Violent Skies” in their own tongue. Initiate shamans are lashed to tall poles on storm battered mountain peaks and left there until they are struck by lighting. If they survive, they are considered to be blessed by the Storms Favor. Their scorched bodies and lightning-addled brains give them the gifts of prophecy.

White Men
The subterranean White Men of Carcosa are small and wiry. Few White Men ever reach the height of five feet, and their stooped posture makes them appear even smaller. Despite this, they are quick and agile. A White Man has long, dexterous hands with six four-knuckled fingers on each. White Men have large eyes, easily twice the size of a normal Man’s, that rarely blink and see well in the dark. Their skin is a dull white like chalk, but is often marred with dirt and scars. Their this hair tends towards a pale bone-yellow tint.

White Men make their homes in tunnels and caverns deep underground where light rarely shines. Sometimes these are natural caverns, sometimes they are dug by monsterous worms, sometimes they are excavated by White Men and their slaves. Many White men are supernaturally fearful of the open sky. The stars and sun terrify them.

White Men revere the great worms of Carcosa. Though they do not worship them, they respect the worms’ tenacity, hunger, and industry. As a rite of adulthood, a White Man places 40 flesh-gnawing maggots on his skin, allowing the creatures to chew spiraling scars and patterns across his skin. It is said that a grub-shaman can read a White Man’s future in these scars.

Orange Men
Carcosa’s Orange Men have sharp, angular features with prominent bone structures and knobby joints. There is little variance in their coloration, and most are a uniform candy-corn-orange. Their hair is the same shade as their skin, and facial hair is unknown among them. Orange men all share a strange, familial resemblance to each other, and other races tend to have trouble telling one Orange Man from another.

Orange Men have a weird affinity for Space Aliens and their technology. They display an almost instinctive ability for salvaging and using alien devices. Most Orange communities make their homes in the ruins of old, abandoned alien facilities or even crashed flying saucers. Some Orange Man settlements willing ally themselves with the Space Aliens, pledging their loyalty, service, and genetic stock to the aliens in exchange for protection, tutoring, and augmentation.

Orange Men revere no gods, but often worship some unfathomable piece of alien machinery. More than one Orange tribe has dedicated itself to an insane super-computer or atomic super-weapon. Some monastic gnostic sects of Orange Men revere the very concept of “knowledge” itself. The Orange language is composed of monosyllabic words that each have a mathematical value.

Blue Men
The Blue Men are widely considered the most beautiful of the races of Carcosa. They are uniformly healthy and attractive and retain their vitality well into old age. Blue Men show the greatest variety in skin tone of all the races of men. Light sky blue, rich turquoise, electric cyan, dusty slate, to deep indigo can all be found among the cities of the blue men. Hair, skin, and eye color are usually all different hues. A not-uncommon genetic mutation sometimes causes Blue men to be born with white, orange, green, or purple hair. These individuals are believed to be destined for greatness or infamy.

Blue Men are strict carnivores and have trouble digesting plant matter. Their teeth are all sharp and predatory, and Blue Men take great pride in their care. Blue courtship and sex is a violent affair. Both males and females count their lovers by the bite scars they leave hidden on their flesh.

Blue Men are the only race of Man to build large cities, sometimes housing over a thousand blue men and slaves. These are dangerous, decadent settlements of tiered manses and narcotic gardens, where the pleasures of Blue Men and Women is all-important. These cities are maintained by slaves, either broken into submission or drugged into supplication. Small armies of brain-washed slave-soldiers protect their Blue Man overlords.

Blue Men worship no gods, spirits, or monsters. Indeed they find the entire idea distasteful.

Green Men
The Green Men live in the deep, steamy jungles of Carcosa. They are androgynous hermaphrodites, possessing the sexual organs and characteristics of both males and females. Their skin tone ranges from a dark pine green, to avocado, to an almost neon lime. The skin of most Green Men is mottled with multiple shades, giving them a kind of natural camouflage in their jungle homes.

Green Men make their homes on platforms high in the branches of mighty jungle trees. Larger villages may actually carve out homes and spaces inside the trunks of huge, ancient trees. These villages are only accessible by rope ladders or elaborate and secret climbing paths that twist from branch to branch.

The Green Men venerate a number of animal totems, especially insects. In addition to each individual’s personal totem, each village reveres a communal totem, which gives the tribe its name. In combat, Green Men often wear masks and mantles that depict their totem creature. Thanks to their jungle homes, Green Men are one of the few races that have regular access to wood for their crafts.

Brown Men
Brown Men are stocky and barrel-chested with thick limbs and strong hands. The skins of young Brown Men are light brown, only a little darker than brown paper. Their skin darkens as they age, eventually becoming a deep mahogany in late adulthood. Brown Men have yellow, goat-like eyes with square pupils.

Brown Men make their secluded villages in cold fens and marshes. These villages are usually unwalled, but guarded by numerous watchtowers with sharp-eyed scouts. Brown settlements are lead by the tribe’s greatest hunter. This distinction is made once a year by a tribunal and vote of all the village warriors and hunters. They are the only race of Men that knows how to forge steel. Brown Men have also developed crude form of black powder explosive crafted from charcoal and the rennet of Fen-Shugs, dangerous semi-mineral ogre-like beasts that haunt the cold marshlands. Brown Men use a style of primitive matchlock musket that fires a stone or crystal slug.

Brown Men have a proud oral tradition and revere a wide variety of culture heroes and legendary ancestors. Brown Man children are usually named after some past village hero whose feats their parents hope they emulate. Brown men are famous for being blunt and honest, almost to the point of rudeness. Lying is almost unknown to them. Sentences in the sing-song language of the Brown Men are structured as phonetic palindromes, which does not translate well to other languages.

Bone Men
Bone Men have transparent skin, flesh, viscera, and blood. Only their bones are opaque and visible. They are utterly hairless. The flesh of sick or very old Bone Men sometimes takes a yellowish cast, giving them a weird topaz look. Bone Men are vain, and tend to shun all but the most essential of clothing, to better show off their lovely bones. Some Bone Men will undergo painfully invasive deep-flesh tattooing to carve and decorate their bones.

Bone Men live in swamps and bogs where other races of Men dare not go. Mud and dirt does not stick to their weird, transparent flesh, and Bone Men remain remarkably clean even in the worst quagmire. Bone Man villages consist of low, round-topped houses raised over the ground on stilts. Such villages are rarely walled, but often protected by labyrinthine moats, channels full of tamed eels, and tar traps.

Bone Men are shunned and mistrusted by the other races of men. A Bone Man changes his name every morning, when he wakes up, dedicating himself to whatever he hopes to accomplish that day. This constant shifting of names does not help endear them to other Men. Bone shamans collect noxious swamp gas in thin bladders, which they then inhale to create prophetic hallucinations.

Jale Men
Jale Men are tall--usually well over six-feet tall--but thin, with mannerisms uncomfortably reminiscent of mantises or stick-insects. Their eyes are lusterless orbs of cosmic darkness. They are utterly genderless, and the very concept is alien to them. At irregular times in their life, a Jale Man will grow a crystalline cyst within their abdominal cavity. When the cyst grows to the size of coin, the Jale Man cuts the cyst out of their torso, usually with a special ritual knife. Within the gem-like Jale-colored cyst, one can see the black, tadpole-like Jale embryo, like a fly in amber. The embryo can remain suspended like this indefinitely. If the crystal cyst is placed into the living body another Man--either orally, surgically, or otherwise--the cyst dissolves, and the embryo awakens and rapidly grows, devouring its host from the inside out. Less than five minutes later, an adolescent Jale Man busts out of its hosts ruptured body.

Jale Men have a disturbing affinity for sorcery, psionics, and the alien science of the Serpent Men. Given their unnatural reproductive practices, it is widely believed that the Jale Men artificial creatures, created wholly by the Serpent Men. Tribes of Jale Men seem subconsciously drawn to Serpent Man ruins, and most Jale communities settle in ancient citadels and temples.

Jale Men revere snakes, honoring them for their cunning, wisdom, and mastery of alchemy and poisons. Given their predilection for sorcery, it should not be surprising that many Jale men devote themselves to the Great Old Ones and other alien gods.

Dolm Men
Dolm Men are squat but powerfully built, and rarely stand much taller than five feet. Their teeth are flat and blunt, and they have no visible ears. Each hand has three fingers and two thumbs, one on each side of the palm. Almost all Dolm Men are male. Each community has but one female, a massive and bloated “queen” who is mother to all the males of tribe. The Dolm Queen has no mate, instead producing her children through strange parthenogenesis. Dolm men have functional sex organs, but given the nature of Dolm Queens, no one is sure why.

Dolm Men make their villages in the fungal forests of carcosa. They build homes in the hollow trunks of massive toadstools and other fungi, trusting in the natural poisons to ward off most predators and foes. The manse of the Dolm Queen is always in the center of the village, where her best and most capable sons guard and attend to her needs. Due to their close association with fungal toxins, Dolm Men are especially resistant to poisons and narcotics of all sorts.

Dolm Men worship no gods or spirits, instead focusing all their devotion onto their queen and their community. The Queen can live for centuries and serves as a living goddess, dispensing her wisdom and guidance in return for her son’s devotion and obsequience. Dolm Men are ritual cannibals. When one of their brothers die, they tribe cooks and devours his flesh, so he will live on through them.

Ulfire Men
Ulfire Men vary drastically in size depending on their gender. Females remain small and stocky, rarely standing much over four feet tall, while the lean males stand over six feet. Both genders sport think, mane-like hair, but are otherwise hairless. Jale Men ritually etch their skin with acid, recording their achievements and failures with hieroglyphic scars so they will not be forgotten. Ulfire Men do not have blood. The flesh their shimmering skin has been compared to plant matter.

Ulfire Men make their homes in the icy wastes and cold northern climes of Carcosa. Their sprawling, communal houses are surrounded by protective walls of stone or ice and guarded by razorbirds. No matter where they are built, Ulfire villages always have a clear view of the great open sky. Ulfire settlements are led by a counsel of tribal elders who have proven themselves through a life of wise deeds.

Ulfire men are famed for their knowledge of astrology and divination. They have made great studies of the stars and planets and can predict how the dread heavens will influence the life of a man and his descendants for generations to come. Ulfire men do not generally worship entities, but instead revere the stars and the fates the influence. The worship of Ithaqua has always been a popular heresy among the Ulfire Men.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lost Mine of Phandelver, Session 4 – Party Time

Lost Mine of Phandelver, Session 4 – Party Time

Our Heroes
Atticus Digby: Half-Elf Bard/Wizard
Bramble: Green Gnome Arcane Trickster
Kokiri: Wood Elf Assassin
Roan Vines: Human Hunter
Skeld: Mountain Dwarf Cleric of Wotan
Vandalar: Silver Dragonborn Paladin

Our heroes head back into town after clearing the ruins of Tresendar Manor of the villainous Redbrands. They have three Redbrands and the traitorous wizard Iarno Albrecht as their prisoners. They also have three former prisoners of the Redbrands (Mirna Dendrar and her children Nars and Nilsa) with them, as well as the cowardly goblin semi-henchman Droop. Bringing a free goblin into town will cause trouble, so Bramble uses her formidable disguise talents to make Droop look like a gnome. He's not very convincing (he doesn't speak Gnomish, for one) but all the gnomes in Phandalin are Rock Gnomes, so they just assume Droop is one of those backwards, foolish Green Gnomes.

Sildar Hall escorts the Dendrars back to their home, while the PCs take their prisoners to Town Hall and the makeshift jail—where they unwittingly left their previous prisoners under the watch of a Doppleganger disguised as their henchman Pete. Once they enter the hall, they immediately smell the scent of death. Bramble runs down to the cellar and discovers the cells open. Bruno the Redbrand captain and the three Cragmaw goblins have had their heads bashed in, as though by a mace, hammer, or something with a slam attack.

Upstairs, the rest of the party hears someone calling from inside Mayor Wester's office.

“Who's out there? Hall? Skeld?” The mayor has barricaded himself in his office. There's a heavy scraping of furniture, and the mayor lets the heroes in. “He went crazy, that halfling! He killed them! He killed them all and ran south. Probably towards those orcs near Basilisk Spur. If you hurry you might catch him!”

The. Heroes. Aren't. Buying. It.

With a couple well-made perception rolls they notice splatters of blood on Wester's collar (the mayor is not wounded). They also notice a couple small drops of blood near the unusually large steamer trunk at the back of the office. As Bramble goes to open the trunk, the “mayor” makes his move.

Skeld has his sword drawn, and Wester takes a swing at him. The mayor's flesh ripples as mass shifts down his arm and into his fist. His knuckes grow hard and horned as his fist slams the dwarf twice with the force of a mace.

The battle is on. The mayor's head shifts to that of Pete's smiling halfling face. “Hey buddy!” he taunts. “He fought so hard, your friend. He wanted so badly not to disappoint you. But in the end he died like a child—crying for his mother and shitting his pants.”

The PCs are enraged. The Doppleganger is tough, but they outnumber him. The battle is short and brutal. Soon the monstrosity lies dead on the ground, its gray putty flesh oozing black oily blood. The team opens the steamer trunk. Inside lies the fat, naked corpse of mayor Wester, along with poor dead Pete's armor gear. In Pete's backpack, along with his extra shirts, they find a letter to Pete's parents.

The feels!

The town hall is full of dead bodies now, and the heroes aren't sure what to do next. They go outside to try and find Sildar, but as soon as they take a step outside, they are accosted by a large group townsfolk.

“Hey!” shouts a burly farmer. “Are you they ones that killed all the Redbrands?”

“Ummm... yeah.” Replies Digby.

The farmer smiles and the crowd cheers! Before the team can do or say anything about the bodies of the prisoners, the doppleganger, or the mayor, the PCs are drug into the street, hoisted onto shoulders, and paraded about town as heroes! A massive celebration is quickly organized.

While the party is underway, Digby manages to sneak away and talk to Rom, the dwarven priest of Death Itself who serves as town undertaker and gravedigger. He arranges for the priest and his associates to discretely “clean” the town hall. The town is happy and celebrating. The team will break the news about the mayor's murder in the morning.

At the party, there's drinking and dancing a'plenty. Even since the PCs came to town, the PCs have been too busy to mingle. The party gives them an opportunity to finally meet all the important and interesting people in town.

Stuff that happened at the party:
  • Tim and Tam, the Copperheel brothers strike up their gnomish fiddles and fill the night with lively music. Digby joins them for a few songs with his ukelele (a gnomish instrument of repute).
  • Mirna thanks the PCs for rescuing her family. She tells them about a valuable family heirloom they left in Thundertree when she was a girl. She still hopes to find her dead husband's body.
  • Digby dances with Mairn'as 18 year old daughter and they have a nice moonlit walk around the orchards.
  • Young Nars asks Vandalar stupid questions. “So you're a dragon or something, huh?” “So what's a paladin do, anyway?” “Oh wow, tell me everything you know about Bahamut!”
  • Tuck and Qelina Alderleaf introduce themselves as the heads of the local farmers collective. Tuck tells some long rambling stories about the strange demon-monster that's been killing sheep. Several farmers have seen it, but exact descriptions vary.
  • Halia Thornton introduces herself as the leader of the local miner's exchange. She tells Kokiri that “ even though Sildar wants to take Iarno to Horizon to stand trial, many people think the wizard is too dangerous to keep alive. If something should happen to him before he reaches Horizon, certain parties would be grateful.” Kokiri, hoever, is very drunk and may or may not pick up on Halia's meaning.
  • Sister Graele thanks the heroes for showing mercy and restraint by taking at least some of the Redbrands alive.
  • Toblin Stonehill introduces himself and offers the heroes free room and board for the extent of their stay in Phandalin.
  • They meet Yor Peaceforge, the town blacksmith and the only Orcbrood (half-orc) in Phandalin. He gets angry when the team asks him if he can make weapons or armor. “NO! I will never again make the tools of war!”
  • Linene Graywind walks up to Bramble, holding Mouser and Fafhrd, Bramble's horrible, filthy alley cats. "Are these yours?" she asks angrily. When Brambles confirms that they are, Linene drops them in the Gnome's lap. "Keep those horrible creatures out of my store!" she shouts and walks away, muttering under her breath. 
Towards the end of the night, the celebration suddenly grows quiet. The crowd parts at scarred, crippled, old Daran Edermath walks into the town square, wearing his old elven chainmail with his sword at his belt. He carries a case of his fine apple brandy under one arm. Whispering the crowd tell the heroes that Daran hasn't worn his armor in many years.

Daran looks to the PCs. “Come see me when you have a free moment. But for now, drinks are on me.” He sets the bottles on a table, smiles slightly, and limps back home.

After a few more hours, the party winds down, and the heroes go to see Daran in his home. His living room, once cluttered, is now empty except for a large fire in the hearth, a ceramic jug and several clay mugs. Daran stands in the room, a boar-skin cloak over his shoulders and holding an elaborately carved oaken cudgel.

“You have proven yourselves, young heroes. You are ready now to be fully sworn into the House of Hrothgar. In doing so, you will dedicate yourself to actively stand against evil and protect the weak. If you cannot swear this, leave no. None will think the less of you.”

Bramble leaves, unsure if she can make such a pledge. Thus is the path of the Neutral.

The rest each place one hand on the cudgel and swear the Oath of Hrothgar:

That my strength
Shall shield the weak,
That none shall suffer tyranny
Beneath my watch,
Lest my arms grow weak
And my eyes grow dim,
I so swear.

Then they all drink a mug of mead and toss the clay mug into the fire. The heroes have achieved the rank of “Blooded!”

Thus the session ends. The heroes still have several quests to follow up on, and poor Gundren Rockseeker is still missing. Digby and Skeld also want to return to the Three Boar Trail and find Pete's body for proper burial (or maybe resurrection?).