- The group fought with the goblins on the high bank and the monstrous elder water elemental that had appeared in their midst. The tactical advantage the goblins had proved to be very effectve, and the tide of the combat didn't turn until Taryn pulled out his orb and used its powerful breath weapon.
- It was then that the sole surviving goblin in its area - a spellcaster of some apparent power - took notice. Using a potent stunning spell, he froze Taryn, took the orb from his hands, and disappeared into the grasslands before any of the others were aware of what had happened.
- Now deprived of his second source of power, when he came to the panicked Taryn insisted that they follow the thief. Kael quickly found that the trail suddenly vanished a few hundred feet from the site of the encounter, however. The group interrogated one of the subdued goblins and found that the spellcaster, called Akrisk, had taken over their tribe some months ago - though he couldn't tell them much about his abilities. After releasng him, the group tailed him back to his warren - Ravina's divination having suggested this would be the best way to recover the artifact. There they found a large triibe inhabiting a cavernous hollow in the ground in a small, hilly region of the grasslands...
GM's Note: Ever since Taryn had found that Orb of Dragonkind and I ruled it had actually be held for some of ts abilities to be used, I have been mindful every time he uses it. Sooner or later, I knew that something smart enough to recogniize its power would take interest and try to deprive him of it. As this particular NPC spellcaster was very powerful, I knew if he saw it, he would make a play for it - and I'd given him a couple of spells that would give him a shot. Even so, several things had to go just right for him to be able to pull it off - and I didn't expect it to actually work. So now the players are on a little detour from their time-sensitive misson, and they're having interesting coversations about how and whether to try to get it back.
So a month or two ago someone at our church was talking about needing more musicians. This actually surprised me a bit, as I know we have a lot of talented people. Talking to our worship minister, turns out they have a lot of people that can play, but he's only got a few for any given instrument. By the time you add in scheduling conflicts, he's apparently had some trouble filling all the roles every week. Playing music is fun, and I like to help out, so I told him I could fill in on guitar (lead/rhythm), bass, or drums as necessary.
And I thought, yeah, I miss playing.
Getting the Axe
After that conversation, it occurred to me that it had been some time since I'd even played my SG. Sadly, it and my amp had been in the basement for a year or two - mostly because there isn't an "out of the way" place for them to live. Playing again sounded like fun, so I brought it in and set it up in a corner of the living room. It's not "out of the way", but the biggest problems are keeping the 3yo away from the knobs, and competing with the TV for audio time.
Anyway, the first thing was to change the strings and clean up the fretboard. The second things was a bit less expected: re-solder the input jacks on my amp. They'd been finicky for some time, but apparently they finally snapped - quite literally. The old solder had given out from years of stress and the jacks had simply popped off the circuit board. Luckily, it was about the easiest possible thing to solder, and thus within my meager capabilities.
Since then, I've been playing quite a bit - trying to squeeze in an hour or so most days. I've been working a lot on my fingering, alternate picking, and generally expanding my repertoire of techniques. I've been going through spotify playlists picking out riffs that sound like fun, and then learning how to play them. I haven't tried anythng objectively difficult, but I'm pretty pleased with how I've been able to take something truly challenging for me that I've never attempted before and then be able to play it fairly proficiently after just a little practice. I think I've reached a point now where I'm actually a little better than I was back in college when I was playing a lot more.
So I play through an old Peavey Special 212 Transtube amp I got in the late 90's when my highschool band outgrew my little Fender practice amp. When I got it, I was playing a fender Duo-Sonic my parents got me after I'd been playing for a while (still one of my most memorable Christmas presents). It's still a great amp, but Peavey's favoring of the midrange combined with the darker tone of my SG's humbuckers means that, while you get really fat lead sounds from it, you can't get a rhythm tone that isn't 5-year-old-puddle-jumper-level muddy. After a couple weeks playing on it, I decided I needed to tweak that - and I ordered MXR's 10-band eq pedal.
I (obsessively) looked at a number of eq pedals before landing on this one. The big reasons I decided on this one were that it offers an eq range that's useful for guitar and bass, and that it has a 'gain' slider as well as a simple 'volume'. I figured that bumping the gain would be good for my passive instruments when doing direct-inputs, and I've found that pulling the gain all the way down (when running it post-preamp) quiets the hiss of my amp and enables me to turn the volume and post-gains on my amp up further than "1" (the other thing about my amp is that it's 200 watts - which is great if you're on an outdoor stage, and not-so-great if you're in your small house with sleeping children). I've been pretty happy with it so far.
I'm now looking to expand my pedal selection a bit more - if only so that if I end up playing at my church, I don't have to lug my amp (the other other thing about this amp is that it is unnecessarily heavy). Think I'm going to pick up a distortion pedal, a compressor, and a reverb to start. After (also obsessively) looking at a lot of the options, I've got my eye on some Boss models. They seem to be a solid mix of quality + value, they're well-reviewed, and I know Boss makes good stuff.
I was never really "a drummer" - Justin always took care of that. But I have always loved to play drums. I think it's the energy in feeling the music that comes with it. When my brother started playing, I developed a habit of playing his drums pretty often, teaching myself the basics and developing that particular kind of coordination. Actually, I think it made me a better musician overall.
Since then, I've played drums in a few ad-hoc music groups - usually praise bands at camps/churches/whatever. Basically, wherever someone was just needed. I don't know that I would pass too many auditions, but I can keep a beat and I play well enough on simple stuff to get by. I'm the percussive equivalent of that guitar player who only plays straight rhythms with with open fingerings - I'll get it done, but it's usually nothing special.
That's not to say I'm satisfied with my meager skill level. I'd love to practice more, but I don't have a kit of my own, so I'm kind of stuck here for now.
So last week I was asked to play drums for service this sunday. We had a rehearsal last night, which went fairly well. I've been deemed passable - which I consider a success if only because the guy playing percussion is a good drummer, and he said he didn't hear any big issues with my playing. Still, the once-through rehersal was not enough for someone like me who likes to be over-prepared. I've been told we'll go through everything "for real" on sunday morning. Meanwhile, I'm scrambling to make recognizable notes on what I was doing that worked vs. what didn't. As the new guy, it's maybe 1/4 the rehearsal time I'd like, but it's been a ton of fun.
Until yesterday, I actually hadn't played drums in at least a few years. Just haven't had the opportunity. Knowing this, I made arrangements to get to the church a couple of hours early to warm up, break off some rust, and generally have a blast rocking out. I played for about 2 hours straight, soaked myself pretty good with sweat, and made my shoulders sore. If I end up doing this regularly, I think I'm going to need to get a kit. Or make arrangements to be at the church...often.
Yesterday was the first time since playing my brother's that I got to sit down, undisturbed, and really get comfortable with a kit. I have to say, that by itself was awesome. The difference between then and now, however, is that this kit is electronic.
Like a lot of actual drummers, I prefer the feel of an acoustic kit. Unlike others, I do like the tighter sound of the electronic kits (maybe I just haven't played a really good acoustic), and the fact that I can, in a church, hit drums hard and not have to worry about being uncontrollably loud is fantastic. The "gentler" I have to play, the worse I am - or, at least, the less I can pull off.
The church's electronic kit is pretty decent. As you can see from the photo, it's a Roland kit, and it uses the TD9 module which is solid enough. I actually read the owners manual ahead of time so I was able to program the sounds I wanted into my own kit on the thing (piccolo snare is a must). The drum pads have all-mesh heads, and the response feels good. The cymbals are decent to play on, if nothing particularly amazing. The hats are really my only complaint. They're not the worst I've played on, but like most of them, the trigger is "lazy" in that letting up on the foot controller after hitting the pad doesn't change the sound. This is my continual pet peeve on electronic hats. I do know that Roland makes a hat trigger system that mounts on an actual hi-hat stand that doesn't have this annoying behavior - I've just only got to play on one for like 10 minutes at a Guitar Center.
All this has brought my songwriting back onto the radar. Other than recording a dozen or so chord progressions as voice notes on my phone, I haven't done much with it yet - but if the musical momentum continues, I'm hoping to be able to channel it there.
- Lily had a conversation with the innkeeper Helia, giving her a few more details than they'd told most of the townsfolk. She also asked if anyone unusual had been through town, and after talking to a local farmer, they discovered that someone matchng the description of the missing Aegus Rothan had been seen several months ago.
- Using some magic from Ravina and Kael's sense of direction, the group headed north toward the Navlin Forest and the road into the Elmhine Mountains that would lead them to the abandoned Ver'Sheole keep. The river, however, kept pushing them further west, and they eventually decided to cross at a ford, where they found themselves ambushed by goblins...
- As the group left the library, they found a young elven woman weeping at a run-down shrine originally devoted to Corellon Larethian. As Lily engaged in conversation with her, it became increasingly clear that something was wrong with her. The woman became increasingly agitated, and apparently reached a breaking point when an unearthly shriek came out of her. The sound was loud enough to vibrate the surrounding structures - and attract the attention of the bebilith that had entered the Courthall.
- Lily attempted to ignite the webs the spider-demon had constructed across the street, but found that they would not burn well. The party had just begun hacking their way through when the spider burst through the large, half-open doors of the building. Kael fired arrows and Lily summoned a celestial creature to distract the monster as they made their escape.
- Back in town, the group rested at the inn and told the townsfolk some of what they found at the keep on the hill. Most were troubled at the news, but few seemed surprised. Taryn had another chat with a strange but familiar swordsman, and Lily also was visited by a strange old woman whom she later decided must have been the hag she and her friends had encountered when the first arrived in the region. Apparently she came to tell them that orcs were massing in the western corners of the area, organized by something claiming an eye/tooth symbol...
This game has been going for a while, and I found it very satisfying to (finally) get to bring in a hook from all the way back at the start of the campaign. This narrative thread was so old that we've added 2 players to the group since it was on-screen. When the PCs had spared this hag and saved her "pet" hydra, she told them she would not forget their kindness - and has now made good on that by alerting them to a growing problem they otherwise had no way of knowing about.
- Though wearing down quickly, the group continued the fight against the demons until their leader noticed the monstrous demonic spider trying to gain entry to the hall - at which point it fled and its remaining lackies went with it.
- After taking a moment to regain their strength, the party decided they would make a search of this main structure of the keep. Its upper floors contained the bodies of quite a few dead demons, the most of which were piled before the door of a small study. Having discovered there was someone inside, they had a brief conversation through the locked door before he vanished. It wasn't until later that Lily realized who it was: Aulthust, the marked man.
- The group picked the lock and searched through the room, finding that the man was apparently concerned with books on elven lore and history and something pertaining to a dwarven settlement - and they learned a few tidbits from the open books they found and decided they would head to the keep's library. There they found more info about the keep they're heading to - Ver'Sheole - and saw more evidence of Aulthust's search for information on a place called Ur'Galek...
- Unable to trace the tattooed man (suspecting he was an illusion) and aware that demons in the streets around them were closing in, they made the decision to smash their way through a window of the large, central building.
- Once in position, Tyrrox shattered the glass and metal of the window and everyone scrambled up and through it. Though their efforts were well coordinated, they soon found themselves under attack and pressed between a gang of demons from inside the building, and the monstrous, demonic spider from outside...
|Saturday March 16, 2019 at 5:00pm||no thank you evil, towing hobgoblins, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
- The Inspector directed the Pirate Olivia and her Pretty Pony to take the hobgoblins they'd captured to Lucy Lawful in Out The Window.
- On the way to the Crossroads, they saved Edwin Bear from a gang of Fluff Spiders.
- They encountered That Imp at the Crossroads, but they managed to get past him by convincing him that his demanded toll of three Unicorn Feathers didn't make any sense.
- Once through the Crossroads and into Out The Window, they searched the crowded city streets for Lucy Lawful's office. Just when they found it, however, a wave of Bobgoblins swept them into Nortorious Inc. where Olivia found herself locked in a filing room...
- The party gathered themselves together and made their way deeper into the keep. They found the central building structure - likely the lord's manor and court they were seeking. Between them and the entrance, however, was a great deal of webbing they believed was probably from the massive demonic spider Lily had seen earlier. From the attic of a nearby tavern, they were able to get a slighly better view of the area. They were deciding whether to go through the webs, traverse the rooftops over them, or smash their way through one of the high windows when they caught sight of someone moving in the abandoned city: a tall man with a curling tattoo of a two-headed dragon on his face...
- The group was continuing its struggle against the Gelugon and its Bone Devil minions when a small horde of Babau demons were alerted to the situation. Taryn had managed to distract and anger the ice fiend - which was both good and bad. As the Babau rushed in, the Gelugon once more blasted the entire area with a wave of frost, further wearing down the already-battered PCs and the demons alike. The PCs collectively decided to let the mortal enemy fiends take out each other while they disengaged.
- Unfortunately, the injured Kael found himself pinned down against one of the buildings in the street as the fight between the outsiders raged around him. Taking aim at the Gelugon's head, fortune smiled on the desperate ranger - giving him a perfect shot that felled the devil. As it exploded into shards of ice, the Babau horde chased after the remaining Bone Devils, leaving the PCs alone on the frozen streets...
Over the weekend, Sheri & I played Between Two Cities with our daughter. We'd bought the game for her for Christmas - our friend Tony had recommended it as a good age-accessible game - but with everything else going on, we hadn't managed to bring it to the table before now. Actually, Hannah had even forgotten about it entirely.
Since Sheri & I are both into various tabletop games, we like to encourage that with our kids - especially with Hannah, now that she's getting old enough to really play some of the more interesting games. I mean, Candyland has its limits.
Between Two Cities is a great quick-play game for 3-7 people. The fact that it supports more than 4 players is an automatic bonus for us, since we frequently play games with larger groups of friends. It actually has a solo variant as well, if that's your thing. We played the game through twice in about half an hour or so. We were only playing with three, but because of the way the game works, I don't imagine that increasing the number of players will greatly affect the play time (I'll let you know if I find out differently). The game has a competitive goal, but it is actually played cooperatively - which is a very interesting dichotomy.
During the three "rounds" of the game, you will be building two different cities: one with the player to your left, and the other with the player to your right. On each turn, you'll choose a couple of tiles from your hand, and you will to place one in each - then, you and your partners will decide where to place the tiles in your city for best effect. There are several different types of tiles, and each scores points in a different way; the goal is to create the best cities you can with what you have. Note that you have to focus on both cities, because your personal score will be equal to whichever of your cities scores the lowest.
Hannah loved the game. At 7, she can't quite keep all of the considerations in her head while placing tiles - but then, neither can I. She said she really wants to play it again, though she's also really excited to play Stuffed Fables and to do more No Thank You Evil. She went to bed that night having encountered, for the first time, the "Gamer's Dilemma": So Many Games, So Little Time.