Author Archives: Dennis

“Klassen” Documentary Series

With the success of documentary series like Tegenlicht and Schuldig I was really happy to see that the tradition of thought provoking and well produced documentary was continued with Klassen (NPO Start link). It means “classes” and it deals with the elementary school system in the Netherlands and how the education level of your parents will influence your education results. How the family you were born into dictates the likelihood of your own success and how the education system determines upward mobility.

It’s equal parts heart warming, soul destroying, confidence inspiring and rage inducing.  Amazing.

Rats!

Previously, the Heroes of the White Eye entered the carceratum in search of the rebel lords with the purpose of liberating them. The prisoners had overrun the prison and the heroes were unsure what they would find there. Once inside, the prisoners tried to repel the and a fight broke out in which Luca killed several prisoners and Astrid beat several of them into unconsciousness.

The prisoners retreated and a dialogue was opened. It turned out that the two rebel lords, one of which had been wounded in an attempt on his life, had allied themselves with two senior prisoners in order to break out into the ancient waterways, only to have stumbled upon a large host of skaven.

Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waning. Bloodmoon is waning. Darkmoon is waning.)

James, after staying at the rear until it was clear how some of the prisoners who belonged to the Sunken Knuckles gang would respond to his presence, moved up to the area of the carceratum where the prisoners had made their stand. The prisoners unfortunate enough to get in Astrid’s way were slowly regaining consciousness behind him and moving to rejoin the rest of the prisoners.

After having engaged the prisoners as well as the rebel lords in a discussion, the heroes found that they had found a way out of the carceratum by breaking through a wall into the waterways. Garvan, a member of the Steady Hand who was a specialist in moving about the waterways, was confident that once they could get into the waterways and get past the skaven he could get everyone to the surface within ten minutes, emerging anywhere in or around Steward Square.

The different options were discussed. Taking the rebel lords out of the prison by way of Luca’s proposed portals was met with hesitation from lord Fabian, as the two lords had given their word to Yurina and Garvan that they would make sure they would be liberated as well. It was clear that a small group of the prisoners believed that surrendering to the crownsguard would lead to their immediate execution, while others believed they would be punished very harshly. James suggested that those who felt in danger could possibly be smuggled out of the prison by Emrys turning them invisible. Lastly, there was the option of going into the waterways and fighting the skaven opposition they would find there.

In a surprising turn of eloquence, Blackstar spoke to Luca and told him that it believed that evil men shouldn’t be executed for fear of “swelling the wrong ranks in the war to come.” It volunteered to reap them instead.

A decision was made to clear the hole in the wall which lead to the waterways and see what the skaven opposition was like. Using Blackstar’s uncanny ability to detect the souls in the vicinity, Luca noticed that there were in excess of three dozen souls in the area. In the meantime, James went to inspect the assassin, who had been chained up in one of the cells. When the assassin was about to exclaim praise for Melchior, his father, James had heard enough and shot an arrow into the man’s chest, killing him instantly.

Once Quentin and Astrid broke through the barrier and moved into the waterways, a foul smelling sewer tunnel whose bricks were slick with slime and phosphorescent moss, they were beset from all sides by the vicious skaven, quickly swarming forth in a bid to overwhelm them. There were over a dozen of them, ranging from the small and feeble to the larger, ogre-sized skaven, ridden by their whip-wielding taskmasters. Among them, was another shaman, which had caused them so much trouble in the catacombs underneath the Sheridan estate.

The Responsibility of Running an RPG Campaign

As most of you must know about me is that I’ve consistently been involved in a RPG group since I was about ten years old. I find it an incredibly enriching and rewarding hobby and it’s a perfect place for me to channel my creative energy. The collaborative storytelling element is fantastic; it’s social, it’s creative and it caters to my desire for escapism.

Playing in a game is great fun, but I find that my desire to create campaigns for players to engage with often outweighs my desire to play. I take it seriously and put a lot of time and effort into it. For the past couple of years I have been getting back into D&D. For the current campaign I’ve created a world, several pantheons and religions, a history, a timeline, a central tension, a theme, a continent, twelve countries, dozens of cities, organisations, people, a story with events that evolve the setting, etc. etc. It’s taken me hundreds of hours to create all of that.

Each session takes me about four hours to prepare for. If we play weekly, that means that I spend about that amount of time to prepare every week. But even outside of that time, it’s often on my mind. When I watch films, when I read books, when I visit a museum, or go hiking; I draw inspiration from everywhere. I make maps for continents, and cities, which leads me to read up on geography and late medieval cities. I read up on early banks and guilds and feudal systems and nobility and how the invention of the loom and how it changed society. I read about folklore and superstitions, about the role of the clergy and how the church wielded power. About politics and how countries, kingdoms and city states engaged with one another…

The point is, I spent a lot of time on it.

One of the main reasons I spend a lot of time on it, is because I think that when a group of three or four people give me four hours of their time every week in order to play in a game that they expect me to have prepared I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to waste their time. I don’t want them to show up and I have nothing prepared, have nothing to say, or I am an unresponsive participant.

Some sessions run better than others. You can’t always guarantee that everyone will have as much fun from one week to the next. Our lives are complicated and sometimes someone can’t make it, or has to cancel last minute, or just doesn’t have the space to fully engage with the rest because their week has been exhausting. Sometimes everyone is having a great time and everything moves along nicely. Most of the time it’s a mix of both; some people are present and engaging, while others take a bit of a back seat. All good. I just don’t ever want to be so poorly prepared that it’s the reason that the session doesn’t run well. It would break my heart.

The Rebel Lords

Previously, the players concluded their investigations into the queen’s illness in Kingsport and decided to go on Callum the Diviner’s expedition to Eastmarsh to find out more about the cursed khazra head. Before their departure, they decided to help lady Annabella and lady commander Miranda in liberating the rebel lords from the Kingsport Carceratum.

Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waning. Bloodmoon is waning. Darkmoon is waning.)

Just prior to entering the carceratum Luca and James bought two sets of commoner’s clothes and discovered that behind the Magisterium, overlooking the rear of the House of the Raven Queen there was an alleyway connecting two small squares that were perfect places where Luca could take the rebel lords using the translocation magic he had recently discovered.

When everyone was finally ready to enter the carceratum, they found the inside hallway as heavily barricade by the prisoners as the outside hallway had been barricaded by the crownsguard. The prisoners hurled garbage and furniture from the top of a barricaded staircase, making it very difficult to engage them. Much to James’ chagrin they also did not seem open to conversation or discussion. Astrid and Quentin scaled the barricades while Luca hurled angry bolts of eldritch energy at the prisoners, killing several of them. Once Astrid got her hands on some of them, pummelling them into unconsciousness, a retreat was called for from further in the dungeons and the prisoners began to fall back.

The heroes approached and again attempted a parley, which was reciprocated by an elderly man they soon found out to be lord Fabian Fetterling, a man Luca remembered to have been at the Seat of Friendship, debating brother Shakeslocke when he called for the persecution of warlocks and witches.

The rebel lord had taken command of a group of prisoners in the wake of an attack on lord Szymon, who was left injured. The assassin was carrying a wicked dagger but had been fought off just shy of killing lord Szymon and was now held in one of the cells, shackled to the wall.

Two prisoners had been instrumental in an escape plan; Garvan the Tunneler, a member of the Steady Hand who worked for the night master as an expert in the ancient waterways, and Yurina, a vicious member of the Sunken Knuckles who had filed down her teeth for a more gruesome appearance. They had found the perfect place to break through a wall and enter from the carceratum into the ancient waterways. Unfortunately the part of the waterways they had entered into was infested with skaven, and the prisoners were forced to retreat back into the carceratum for their safety.

Rules: Vision and Light

A quick reminder on the visibility rules in D&D 5e:

  • Lightly Obscured: dim light, patchy fog, moderate foliage; creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
  • Heavily Obscured: darkness, opaque fog, dense foliage; creatures suffer from the blinded condition.
  • Blinded: creature automatically fails any ability check that requires sight. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
  • Darkvision: a creature with darkvision can see in darkness as if the darkness were dim light. So areas of darkness are only lightly obscured as far as the creature is concerned.