It's been three months since I last left a cblog about what was going on in my life. Things have been hard emotionally, starting over, going cold turkey, cutting a part of my life off in order to move forward. Everyday was a new ball of anxiety of what I was going to do in order to justify my existance on this world. Luckily, I was aware enough to do something about it, and one of my outlets was talking to my old friends as a coping mechanism and support. If you use any amount of social media, you may be familar with just connecting with friends but not really using it a whole lot to actually talk. You'd just see a timeline of memes and posts. Instead, I went out of my way to talk to people I haven't talked to in years and finding an outlet to talk about my life.
Another coping mechanism I love is having a routine. I always go on a walk, exercise, and every week I DM for friends for some D&D. As someone who has played more than DM, I've been having a lot of fun crafting a narrative and doing joint storycrafting with my friends. I've been DM'ing every other week for about 3 months now, and I feel like getting the story of my friends down for posterity.
Human female paladin, Thia: The only physical combat player character. It was a little hard listening to my male friend describe her figure, especially having been a few weeks off my divorce and being particularly thirsty, but I digress. Thia is the typical lawful,religious paladin on the group. She was raised by her father and an order of monks but knows nothing of her mother, who was also a righteous paladin before her. She took up her shield with her family coat of arms and decided to travel the world to help the needy and banish evil, but she also carries a mission to discover what happened to her mother when she disappeared as a child.
Aarakocra male bard, Rolly: My friend styled his bard to be a superstar performance bard after the aesthetic of K-Pop that he's a big fan of. Rolly is a former member of an all aarkocra singing group known as Bird's Generation, but left the group in scandal after dating and marrying an elf from a competing performance group. While Rolly is a sort of airheaded bard who looks forward to singing his heart out (despite me constantly having NPCs sandbagging his fame and popularity), he's also journeying across the land to find out why his fledgeling family was murdered in cold blood by a mysterious organization.
Xero, the bugbear rogue: The PC controlling Xero is the type of player who role-plays in the simplest terms possible and relishes more in rolling his sneak attack dice and evaporating the monsters I put in front of him. Most of the interaction I get out of him boils down to whether he can drink or whether he can loot. Still, I look forward to drawing out more role-playing out of him with various story hooks and skill checks to test his mettle. He is very min-maxed to take full advantage of the rogue suite, and if nothing else, I'll dangle drinks in front of him for story.
Jenova, the female Assamir ranger: It took several months before I realize Jenova was Jenova and not a person with a name who was a Genasi. It also took me a while to realize he was playing a female when he said he took down her hair to unleash her celestial hair. As a ranger, Jenova has absolutely hit her mark nearly everytime she attacks due to her insane profeciencies. She's not a huge damage dealer, but she can be expected to deal damage when it counts. Jenova is also a proper member of the Adventurer's Guild, and is often the fallback for more official channels thanks to her guild connections.
The story began in the merchant town of Grizby, a bustling trade city which was boasting an auction house opening up for it's annual end of new season event, this year promising artifacts and relics of a forgotten age. This event brings the party together with the contracting from a monastic group to gather together certain "items" that may be dangerous to the wider world. Two groups are fighting for control over the fate of the material world with a cataclysimic event threatening to drive the world to madness.
Taking themes and ideas of madness and insanity from Bloodborne when I finished it last year, I created an entity known in common as N'Agorra, a being normally depicted as a pitch black sperm whale that swims the Astral Sea in an eternal search for knowledge to quell its hunger. When emotionally roused out of its perpetual state of calm curiouosity, the entirety of its nose reveal countless eyes staring off in all directions. As an elder god, its mere presence can drive people to madness as the entirely of its knowledge psionically radiates off it and seeps into any nearby mortal minds, driving them mad if they don't die from the shock of having learned a lifetime and more of unknowlable knowledge in mere moments.
The Order of the Closed Eye seeks to find and purge the relics of their inert energies, as they can be used in a ceremony to summon N'Agorra to the material plane. The Order are descendants of the original kingdom who was obsessed with knowledge and ended up summoning N'Agorra once, destroying their kingdom by sending it spiraling into a hysterical week long riot.
The Order of N'Agorra are a splinter group of the kingdom, who believe more power can be gleaned from N'Agorra's infinite knowledge if summoned again. They are common seen throughout the kingdom in purple cult robes, seemingly pulling the strings from the background.
After driving out the presence of the cult in Grisby, including the locale masoleum, our heroes traveled north, following the Grand River to the northern small town of Bridge Town West, one of half of a town that prepares travelers who attempt to cross the Grand River via its mile long bridge. They're must cross the bridge to reach Coalwall, on the other end of the river. Along the way, Rolly the bard is challenged by a wandering bard at a game of theatrics to determine who is the better performer. Rolly beats him at a knife juggling challenge and takes a cantrip book for himself.
Captain of the guard Jim sends the group across the bridge with census data to compare to Bridge Town East, but the group defeats a bandit group who had camped out in the middle with a floating hideout tied to the bridge support. They managed to take the leader alive to deliver to the town guard in Bridge Town East.
After arriving in Bridge Town East and meeting with captain of the guard Tim, they're notified of a string of child disappearances in town. Despite being on their way to Coalwall, the group can't say no to a town in need, and end up slaying a hag camped out on the side of the river, saving one child but discovering the remains of all the previous kids. Thia narrowly avoided getting pushed into the river too.
The gang hitches a ride with a traveling merchant caravan in order to reach Coalwall deeper into the borderlands of civilization. They make friends with an array of merchants including the proud dragonborn leader, the militaristic faith healer, the flamboyant tailor, and Big Stinky Phil, the smith.
Having arrived in Coalwall, the gang find the city gathered in town square to deal with the collapsed mine situation. Ogre the ogre, a mild mannered and well dressed Ogre is addressing the rough and tumble populace filled with dwarves, halflings, dragonborn, goblins, and half-orcs. With rumors of the cult being in the mine as well, the gang decide to help out if it means getting more information from the cult. Battling their way down the mine shaft with a minecart filled with explosives to clear the path (payload) and cutting through a group of trolls, they free the miners at the bottom and find a worried and hungry cultist alongside the miners. He agrees to go peacefully if it just means leaving the mine safely. He was supposed to create a portal deep in the mine but it never worked, but on his person is a ledger outlining the cult's plans. They were behind the murder of Rolly's family as well as a string of scandals and conspiracies that tore apart the larger bardic guild Rolly was apart of, the Great Bardic Alliance. The cult saw their position of spreading inspiration and courage through song as an obstacle to accepting the knowledge of N'Agorra, so they dismantled the Alliance, group by group until the greater collection of bards was scattered to the winds.
Just as the group was getting ready to leave the mine, a blind light appears in the seemingly unfinished summoning circle. The party hides behind a minecart as the pressure of two immensely powerful figures step out, one being undead which, bound by oath, Thia stands to confront, but while wearing a cultist robe to fool them. A Mind Flayer attempts to probe the truth from out of her but several rolls keep his attempts muddied before he slowly discovers the truth with detect thoughts. Believing the jig to be up, Rolly stands up in a cultist robe as well to try to disarm the situation but by then the Mind Flayer knows the situation and demands the whole group to hand over his "employee" and no one will get hurt.
As the Mind Flayer prepares to leave through the portal, closing it for good as the location has been compromised, Thia asks why the dark figure behind him has a similar symbol on its armor. By now, dimwitted Thia doesn't know the symbol to be a family coat of arms, but the Mind Flayer suggests to her that if she and the jet black armor behind him share a coat of arms, surely they have something in common. As the Mind Flayer steps through, the Death Knight continues to stare at Thia for a few more seconds before stepping through the closing portal as well.
And that's where I left my group. Thia is a hearty tank who really holds down the frontlines and the rest of the party pretty much either DPSes their encounters of debuffs the enemies fairly well. The last two plot twists were a lot of fun dropping on my friends and I look forward to trying to do more with my other PCs as well as handing them fun loot and NPCs to role-play against. Maybe I'll continue letting you guys know how their adventures go in the future, but if you have local friends to do D&D, I highly suggest you try it, because its a very social and fun experience and it certainly saves me from my emotional problems.