Icewind Dale 13 (A D&D 5e Re-Rendering) — Assault on Dragon Eye

Welcome to Icewind Dale, Episode 13 — The Assault on Dragon Eye! Featuring a nail-biting encounter and a boatload of gamer humor, this most recent episode is bound to please those who like their D&D strategy mixed in with a huge helping of tasteless jokes.

The Icewind Dale campaign is a D&D 5e re-rendering of the D&D 2e CRPG produced in the 2000s and now available on Steam. A tactician’s dream, Icewind Dale presents numerous and escalating challenges for players. Those who love exciting tactical scenarios will get their fill in this game. The 5e re-creation by Ted Burgess is true to the game’s original high difficulty and has been amazingly fun to play.

In this 13th episode, the party confronts powerful lizard-folk, dangerous bombardier beetles, and swarms of monstrous spiders as they venture into Dragon Eye. A volcanic structure located in the Spine of the World, Dragon Eye may hide the source of the strange evil plaguing Kuldahar. The party, now level 6, commences its exploration of this dangerous dungeon in episode 13. They are — Roderick (a golden boy Trickery Cleric/Arcane Trickster rogue), Veris (a summoning and healing focused Shepherd Druid), Rueger (a burly goliath Rune-Knight Fighter), Immeral (an elven Monk of the Long Death), and Gaelya (my elven Bladesinger Wizard). Alinar, our great-weapon Sorcadin, takes a break from the action for this session.

As with most of our Icewind Dale games, we’re swiftly drawn into a challenging combat in which each player’s tactical choices generate great impact. If you enjoy deadly encounters, gritty tactics, and light-hearted banter, you’ll probably love this most recent foray into old-school Icewind Dale as 5e D&D.

If you want to catch up on the older games, you can find them here:

The Icewind Dale Campaign and Video Archive

The Icewind Dale Playlist

Homebrew Horrors — A Skeletal Mage for D&D 5e

Artwork by The Lady Blue Wolf

Introducing the first monster in the new Homebrew Horrors as a part of our Dragon’s Dungeon Talk — the Skeletal Mage. Emerging from haunted tombs and dark dungeons, the Skeletal Mage is a dangerous menace that wields potent arcane magics. Whether a remnant of an ancient civilization, summoned by a potent curse, or animated by a powerful necromancer, the Skeletal Mage is a cunning terror drawn to the shadows and fueled by a hatred for all living things.

This Skeletal Mage is a slightly modified version of the one used by Dungeon Master Graham in our Icewind Dale campaign based on the classic 2E computer RPG. Converted to 5e rules, the Skeletal Mage provides Game Masters with a potent spellcaster as a challenge for level 4-7 characters in D&D adventures. Please enjoy our free homebrew 5e D&D Skeletal Mage monster below:

SKELETAL MAGE  — 5e stats

Medium Undead, lawful evil

Armor Class 15 (Mage Armor)
Hit Points: 39 (6d8+12)
Speed 30 ft

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
1014 (+2)15 (+2)108 (-1)16 (+3)

Saving Throws Con +4, Cha +5
Skills  Arcana +2, Intimidation +5

Damage Vulnerabilities: Bludgeoning

Damage Immunities: Poison

Condition Immunities: Exhausted, Poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60, passive Perception 9
Languages Common

Challenge: 3 (700 XP), Proficiency Bonus +2

Spellcasting: Skeletal Mages cast the following spells, acting as a 5th level caster, requiring no spell components and using Charisma as its spellcasting ability (DC 13, +5 to hit).

Cantrips: Chill Touch, Light, Shocking Grasp

Level 1 (4 slots): Absorb Elements, Magic Missile, Mage Armor

Level 2 (3 slots): Acid Arrow

Level 3 (2 slots): Lightning Bolt, Stinking Cloud

ACTIONS

A Skeletal Mage can cast a spell — either a leveled spell or a cantrip.

  • Chill Touch. Ranged Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: (10) (2d8) necrotic damage and target cannot regain hit points until the start of the Skeletal Mage’s next turn.
  • Shocking Grasp. Melee Spell Attack: +5 to hit, melee reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: (10) (2d8) lightning damage and target cannot take reactions until the start of its next turn.

DESCRIPTION

Skeletal mages are gaunt, clothed in tatters, and move with the sound of a scaping menace. Their eyes are illuminated by a malign, green glow.

Robertscribbler on Don’t Split the Party in D&D 5e

In this 45-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore the tactical ins and outs of the old adage “Don’t Split the Party” in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. This video explores different considerations including party vulnerability to AOE, the need to maneuver to hit team monster hard, and the fun of risk-taking in D&D 5e. This guide is intended to balance risk and reward by providing some helpful rules of thumb for both fun and party survival during tough encounters.

Robertscribbler’s Gish Optimized: Optimizing a Longsword with Great Weapon Master in D&D 5e

In this 36-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore how to use the Great Weapon Master feat to optimize the longsword and other one-handed weapons in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. This guide is intended to spread some RAW optimization love to our one-handed and versatile weapon wielders. It is also a supplement to my dexterity based Paladin Charop build.

Robertscribbler on Gish Optimized: The Hexblade and Party-Friendly Darkness With Hunger of Hadar in D&D 5e

Part 2 of the Party-Friendly Darkness mini-series… In this 29-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore how to use the Devil’s Sight ability and darkness-producing spells like Hunger of Hadar in a party-friendly way in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. The previous party-friendly darkness discussion focused on using Summon Fey to conjure a flank-buddy. A Tricksy Fey that helps your Hexblade generate advantage by using of its special ability to drop a five foot cube of darkness. This guide focuses on using Hunger of Hadar as an area denial spell that you can see and shoot through, but many monsters cannot. A supplement to the Raven Queen’s Herald Hexblade-Fighter Charop build.

Robertscribbler on Gish Optimized: The Hexblade and Party-Friendly Darkness With Summon Fey in D&D 5e

In this 29-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore how to use the Devil’s Sight ability and darkness-producing spells like Summon Fey in a party-friendly way in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. A supplement to the Raven Queen’s Herald Hexblade-Fighter Charop build.

Gish Optimized 6: The Barbarian Hellblade Tank, Myra Helkey

So it’s time to crack open our Dungeons and Dragons books again for another episode of Gish Optimized! Because D&D is much more fun when you Gish! And boy are we going to Gish today — in the form of a fantasy character as a D&D character build! She delivers some big booms, a lotta splat, serious tankage, and a heapin’ helping of Hellish sizzle!

Welcome to the Barbarian Hellblade Tank — Myra Helkey!

Thus far in our build series, we’ve explored two straight-classed Gishes — the Stab and Smite Dexadin and the Battle Sorcerer. Both pack a serious punch and demonstrate the 5e truism that you don’t have to multiclass to kick serious character optimization butt in D&D. We’ve also explored three dip Gish builds — the Hexblade-Fighter, the classic Fighter-Mage, and the Tempest Cleric-Storm Sorcerer. All dip builds included just 1-3 levels in their secondary class.

For our Barbarian-Hellblade Tank, we’re going for another dip. We’re just taking one level in a second class — Barbarian — to help enable an explosive piñata style tank that is also primarily a caster.

“Explosive pinata, what the eff does that mean?” you ask?

It’s exactly what it sounds like! This tank basically blows up in the faces of bad guys who beat on it. Now doesn’t that sound like fun? Yeah! Explosive pinata! Say it with me now! Sounds like Mustafa! Explosive pinata! And for our explosive pinata tank, that one level dip in Barbarian is going to carry one helluva lot of beefy, damage-soaking weight. The rest, the ice shards piercing bad guys, the shields of magical fire and cold, the temporary hit points stolen from each fallen foe, will be delivered by the nineteen levels coming from Warlock.

Now let’s jump into it!

Myra Helkey as Explosive Pinata Hellblade

Our new build gets its RP cred straight from the Helkey modern fantasy series that many of you have been enjoying here. Though this build will not perfectly mirror Myra Hellkey’s abilities from Into Infernia, it will provide you with a powerful full caster who’s capable of laying down severe blasts of magical power, of delivering some rather devastating NOVA damage, and, most importantly, of tanking like a champ on the battlefields of D&D. With these goals in mind, we’ll leverage both the Hellishly cool mojo of Myra from our series and the D&D ruleset to give you a great template for combat and RP fun in your games.

Myra steals both secrets and powers from devils. IRL, Myra would side with Ukraine in its existential struggle against the diabolical Vladimir Putin. A conflict that forms one back-drop of this modern fantasy tale.

Story-wise, our Myra gains her magical powers through her name curse tattoo. This source of magic is not a Warlock’s fiendish pact in a strictly traditional sense. Instead, Myra has been gifted by her mage parents with the ability to steal power from fiends — either by slaying them directly or by sheltering souls the fiends have taken in her name curse. These souls, in turn, gift Myra with magical energy. In past role-play, I’ve described Myra taking souls from slain fiends (which end up residing in her shadow, perhaps to be redeemed later) and by liberating the souls of the damned in the lower planes (which end up in her name curse, perhaps to be resurrected or carried to the celestial realms later).

This build is heavily lower planes themed. However, the character’s backstory, I find, works great for almost any campaign. Since there are many ways to render and describe Myra Helkey mechanically in D&D 5e, our guide here will be the first of many for Myra. One made more enjoyable owing to its improbable nature. A Fiend Warlock that steals power from fiends — tipping the tables against them. The build also makes excellent use of a Barbarian dip, often considered non-optimal, to great effect. A reverse Elric of Melnibone — in which the soul-sucking nature of fiends comes back to haunt them. Our version of Myra here is thus a rough-and-tumble Paladin — by other means. It often feels like pulling off a major coup to play her. I hope you enjoy her as much as I have.

Level 1 — Strength, Charisma, Constitution, Dexterity, Half-Elf, Barbarian

Starting with ability scores, the first thing we notice is we’re really, really MAD. We need Charisma for our spellcasting, we need Strength for our melee because man are we gonna melee, and we need Constitution because we want to be tough. In addition, we want a decent Dexterity because we don’t want to have a terrible AC. We also want max Strength and Charisma at high level. That’s a lot. But don’t fret! We have an awesome build plan that’s gonna make all this MADness work out for us. We’re just going to have to do some serious ability score gymnastics to accomplish our admittedly ambitious goals.

We begin with Strength — which is our first primary statistic. Using point buy, we dump 9 points into the physical might and prowess attribute. This gives us a 15 before we begin to tap into our racial bonuses. We’re taking Strength all the way to 20 (unless we gain a Belt of Giant Strength as an item drop, of course) and this buy gives us a great start. It also empowers our melee strikes. Since we are taking Fiend Warlock, not Hexblade for our main class, Strength is going to do a lot of work to help us stand tough in close fights. To this point, we’re not going to avoid close fighting. Instead, we’re going to run right into most fights with a high confidence in our power to take a literal crap-load of incoming physical punishment. Hell yeah! Because our Myra Helkey is a real scrapper. Indeed!

For our next stat, we drop 7 points into Charisma. This gives us a 14 before we access any of our race’s ability modifiers. Charisma’s our casting stat and we don’t want to neglect it. Sure, we’re going to be amazingly tough and badass in melee combat. But we are a Gish after all. And by level 6 we gain access to some seriously heavy blast effects. In addition, we have access to the wonderful Eldritch Blast and related supports. To fail to leverage our caster side in this build would be to hand in our Gish card. And we really don’t want to do that.

Moving on to Constitution, we drop 5 points into the stat for physical toughness and resiliency to end up with a total of 13 before any adds from our race. We’re not as heavily concentration focused as some of our other builds (which we’ll discuss more below). However, we do need the HP since we’re going to be wading into melee quite a lot. And though we don’t rely on any specific set of concentration magic, we may want to avail ourselves of a number of wonderful spells from the Warlock list like Hex, Shadow of Moil, or Spirit Shroud, from time to time.

We’re going to rely on our physical toughness, on our magic, and on the Fiend Warlock’s ability to generate temporary hit points for our main defense. However, we don’t want to have absolutely terrible armor class. Since we’re main-lining a Greatsword for our primary weapon and won’t have use of a shield, and since we’re stuck with medium armor from Barbarian, we want at least a halfway decent Dexterity. I’m gonna go ahead and drop 4 of our remaining points into Dexterity. This buy gives us a 12. We won’t max out medium armor. But starting with a 15 AC together with scale mail and all our other fun features ain’t half bad.

Myra prepares to enter Hell.

After being considerably MAD, we are only left with 2 points to spend on Intelligence and Wisdom. I’m not comfortable dumping Myra’s Int, so I’m going to drop these last 2 to get her a 10 in the smarts stat. That leaves Myra with an 8 Wisdom. I’m cool with her having a lower Wis. She’s always getting herself into trouble in fiction. A low Wisdom in-game lets us really lean into this RP characteristic.

So before choosing our race, we end up with 15 Str, 13 Con, 12 Dex, 10 Int, 8 Wis, and 14 Cha. A solid spread and yet somehow not stretching ourselves too thin.

Moving on, we go ahead and take Half Elf for our race. In RP, Half Elf works great as Myra Helkey is the daughter of the angelic and fey Beatrice Lushael. We could go Aasimar for this RP theme. But I’m more partial to Half-Elf both mechanically and story-wise. For one, Myra’s father, Robert Mori, is Human. Second, Beatrice comes from the very Fey Heaven that is Oesha. Third, Half-Elf gives us some great stats to help us out.

Adding in bonuses (+1, +1, +2) from Half Elf, we boost our Strength to 16, bump our Constitution to 14, and increase our Charisma to 16. Our final ability scores are Str 16, Con 14, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16. These are solid stats. From Half-Elf, we also gain Darkvision, two extra skills (which we can trade for 5 feet of extra movement or a wizard cantrip, though I’m partial to the extra skills or movement, myself), advantage on saves against being charmed and magic can’t put us to sleep.

Now at last we come to class. We’re a Gish. But for our first level in this build we are going all in for Barbarian. We’ll never see another level in this class again. But at first level, we get a lot from the Barb. Our starting HP is 14. Wof! We pick up Scale Mail for a 15 base AC — about average. But we’re not too worried given our combined Rage and high HP. We gain proficiency in Strength and Constitution saves. We grab a Greatsword. For ranged attacks, we pick up hand axes or javelins. And, perhaps most importantly, we gain Rage which effectively doubles our Hit Points relative to physical attacks, buffs our damage, and gives us advantage on Strength checks while raging. In RP, I describe Myra’s Rage as an effect of her magical name curse tattoo. Of course this is pure fluff. But, again, I find this distinction from typical Barbarian Rage to be a fun story element.

Overall, at first level, we have nothing to complain about. Our strong ability scores, high HP, ability to Rage and versatility coming from Half Elf are our high points. We might lag a bit behind pure class Barbarians. But we’re no slackers. Our unique capabilities, however, begin to manifest as we progress to level 2.

Level 2 — Fiend Warlock, Eldritch Blast, Armor of Agathys, Dark One’s Blessing

Here we gain access both to our magical nature and to a rather unique combination that I’m calling the explosive pinata tank. To access this new talent, we take level 2 in Fiend Warlock. Immediately, we gain two Cantrips. I’m taking Eldritch Blast and Light. I enjoy Light for its utility and as a party aid. I often run into parties where members lack Darkvision — which can be a real impediment in dungeons if a light source isn’t available. Eldritch Blast is pretty self explanatory here. It immediately provides us with a medium range attack that does decent damage and scales quickly as we level. We can’t use it while we’re raging. But when we’re raging, we’re also tanking. Just in case we need a ranged attack, we keep a few javelins or hand axes at the ready.

We also gain access to two spells. I’m leaning toward picking up the thematic Burning Hands for a blast. Although Arms of Hadar might be a better choice. In any case, we grab a blast of some kind to give us an AOE option. The second spell, however, is pretty crucial. Armor of Agathys both gives us a resilience buff in the form of 5 temporary hit points (THP). This spell requires no concentration. And it lasts for 1 hour. Due to our short rest spell recharge, we can cast this spell multiple times per day. Combined with our two rages, Armor of Agathys gives us a serious edge as a Tank. Here’s how it works. Right now, we have 21 Hit Points. When we Rage, we take half damage from physical attacks. When we cast Armor of Agathys, we gain an additional 5 THP. And when we are hit, our attackers take 5 cold damage so long as some of the THP from Armor of Agathys remains. With rage active, it turns our 5 points of THP into an effective 10 THP for physical attacks. This means we are more likely to deliver that 5 cold damage multiple times. So attackers are taking damage from hitting us. Their hits are less effective due to our Rage. And we are also smacking them around with our Greatsword for 2d6+5 damage as we Rage. Explosive pinata!

Armor of Agathys — Ice Armor with a bite.

Moving on to our Fiend Pact, we get a nice cherry on top of our, already strong, resiliency suite as we gain Dark One’s Blessing. This power enables us to pick up 4 THP every time we reduce an enemy to 0 hit points. It doesn’t stack with other sources of THP. But it can give us a carry-over effect. For example, say we enter combat with six kobolds. We have Armor of Agathys already cast. We Rage and run into battle smashing one to bits. We gain 4 THP that doesn’t matter, because we still have 5 THP from Armor of Agathys. All five kobolds attack. Two hit. The first does 6 damage (reduced to 3 because we Raged) and the second one does 5 damage (reduced to 2 because we Raged). Typically, the first hit would take down our Armor of Agathys. Since we Raged, our spikey ice armor survives the first shot. This means that we have now killed two Kobolds as our Armor of Agathys delivers 5 cold damage to each. We’ve taken zero damage off our base HP. Our Armor of Agathys goes down from the second hit. But, we now have 4 THP because our Armor of Agathys killed the second Kobold that hit us. Only two Kobolds remain. They get lucky and we miss our attack. They attack us, again getting lucky and hitting twice. They each do 4 damage. Because of our Rage, we again lose none of our base HP. It all gets taken off the THP we gained from Dark One’s Blessing. Next round, we kill one of the Kobolds and recharge our THP to 4. The last Kobold crits us for 8 damage, which we turn to 4 because of Rage. Then on our turn, we kill the last Kobold and recharge our THP again. So far, we’ve taken 27 damage, reduced to 13 because we Raged, reduced to zero+4 because we racked up 17 THP in total. In addition, two of the hits against us killed enemy attackers.

Explosive pinata, baby!

Level 3 — Agonizing Blast, Hex

At level 3 we pick up Eldritch Invocations from Warlock along with a new spell and our second Warlock slot. For our first Invocation, we take Agonizing Blast. Devil’s Sight is somewhat less useful for us than for the Hexblade-Fighter as we won’t be leveraging magical forms of darkness to gain advantage very often. We also like to have the powerful ranged option provided by Agonizing Blast during the times when we are not raging. Our second spell slot also gives us a number of helpful options. We can, for example, cast Armor of Agayths prior to combat, wade into battle, on round 1 cast an AOE like Thunderwave, Burning Hands or Arms of Hadar. Then, for our bonus action, we activate rage and begin tanking. For our third spell choice, we pick Hex which allows us to further buff our Eldritch Blast to 1d10+1d6+3 when we are not raging. This provides us with a nice switch-hitting option and adds versatility to the character.

Level 4 — Pact of the Blade, Shatter

Reaching level 4 we hit level 3 in Warlock — granting us our Pact. Since we are an explosive pinata style tank, we immediately jump on Pact of the Blade. Now, our attacks count as magical with this amazing weapon we summon from mid-air by invoking the power of our name curse (err… patron). We set aside our second invocation at level 3, so we go ahead and immediately use it to buff our summoned Hellblade with Improved Pact of the Blade — granting us a +1 Greatsword. Mechanically badass and thematic.

Our Warlock spell slots bump up to level 2. Armor of Agathys delivers 10 THP and 10 damage to attackers that hit us in melee. Assessing our tankishness, we’ve probably accessed Half Plate for 16 AC, our base HP is 35 or about in line with the fighter/ranger average. Armor of Agathys gives us 10 THP and Dark One’s Blessing grants 6 THP when we reduce a creature to 0 HP. Rage effectively doubles both our Hit Points and THP against physical attacks. While raging and while Armor of Agathys is up, we also deal about 23 damage per round assuming our Greatsword attack lands and we’ve been hit once. With Rage ongoing, we can expect Armor of Agathys to reliably last for 2-3 hits or more, resulting in 20-30+ single target damage while also effectively absorbing 20 hit points of incoming fire. When Armor of Agathys goes down, we can still boost our survivability through Dark One’s Blessing (at 6 THP per pop) so long as we can land hits and reduce critters to 0 HP.

Last of all, for our new spell choice, we pick up Shatter. This choice grants us another, more powerful AOE which we can use to good effect just prior to activating our Rage.

Level 5 — Great Weapon Master, Misty Step, Mirror Image

This level isn’t as big for us as for many other builds, mainly due to the fact that we dipped into Barbarian right from jump. That said, level 5 does bring with it a number of major perks. First off, we gain a feat/ASI and we use it to pick up Great Weapon Master. Now, we can subtract 5 from our to hit roll to add 10 to our damage. In addition, we can use a bonus action to deliver another attack after we roll a critical hit or reduce a creature to 0 HP. These features provide us with another boost to our melee damage.

Picking up a new spell slot gives us access to the mobility-enhancing Misty Step. We don’t tend to use it as much as other builds due to a combination of high Strength and access to Eldritch Blast. But we have it for a rainy day when we need to get into or out of trouble quick. Eldritch Versatility also allows us to retrain one spell. We use this ability to switch out our level 1 AOE for Mirror Image. Now we have another spell we can cast in addition to Armor of Agathys that does not require concentration and is compatible with our Rage. It also adds to our tankiness. So we’re all over it.

Level 6 — Thirsting Blade, Fireball

At level 6 we get a big boost. First, we pick the Thirsting Blade Invocation. This grants us two attacks per round with our Greatsword. In addition, we gain a new known spell. We pick Fireball from our Fiend Warlock spell list.

By now, in addition to having access to a solid tanking ability, we also have some powerful offensive options. We can enter combat with Armor of Agathys pre-cast to give us 15 THP and 15 explosive pinata damage. On round 1, we might cast Fireball, then bonus action to Rage. If, on a subsequent round, we score a critical hit with Great Weapon Master, we do an average of 46-76 plus 15 reactive damage if we are hit once for a total of 61-91 damage on a NOVA round. Very solid damage for a build that leans more heavily toward tanking.

Our tanking at this level is also pretty badass. We have 49 base HP. But adding in 15 THP from Armor of Agathys brings us to 64. Our Rage effectively doubles our hit points against physical attacks. Due to Rage, our reactive damage from Armor of Agathys likely lasts for 2-3 hits or more for a total of 30-45 off turn damage. Our Dark One’s Blessing adds 8 THP every time we reduce a target to 0 HP. These THP additions now happen more often with our extra attacks and Fireballs.

Level 7 — Dark One’s Own Luck, Fly

By level 7 we pick up a little boost to our saves and ability checks in the form of Dark One’s Own Luck. I’m partial to saving this clutch ability to add a d10 roll onto a failed save or concentration check. We’re already a little weak on our Int, Dex, and Wis saves. Dake One’s Own Luck helps to fill that gap and shore up a major vulnerability. For our spell choice, we gain some amazing mobility options by picking up the Fly spell. Fly allows us to zoom around the battlefield while spreading havoc with our Greatsword or Eldritch Blasts if mobility is something we decide we need.

Level 8 — Eldritch Smite, Fire Shield

Rolling into level 8 we gain another set of enhancements to our explosive pinata style tank. For one, our key Armor of Agathys jumps to 20 THP. With our base HP at 63, Agathys gives us an effective HP of 83. This compares to a typical Barbarian of this level at approx 85 with the addition of reactive damage. We can’t Rage as many times as the Barb’ so we need to choose our moments. But when we do, we are a serious impediment to foes that try to blow through us. Armor of Agathys lasts for at least 3 hits against most physical attacks while we rage for an average of around 60 reactive damage. We are also now getting 10 THP additions from Dark One’s Blessing. This is all pretty amazing for a tank.

For our new Invocation we pick up Eldritch Smite. I’m honestly not as jazzed about Eldritch Smite on this build as I am with other melee Warlocks. However, if we do manage to land a critical hit, we can burn one of our precious spell slots to add 45 average damage to that single strike. Overall, this net effect is lower than casting Armor of Agathys while raging and taking physical hits. But there are encounters when we will find this extra potential critical hit damage more effective — for example, when we need to take down a big bad, when enemies are resistant to cold damage, or when we are dealing with an encounter when we are mainly dealing with energy-based damage and our Rage ability isn’t as effective.

Speaking of energy damage, we look to add some options for resistance in this category and gain some additional reactive damage by picking up Fire Shield for our spell selection. With both Armor of Agathys and Fire Shield active, we can deliver a total of 20+2d8 reactive damage for an average of 29 each time we are hit so long as Agathys is still up. If we’re in combat against a creature that does Fire or Cold damage, and we have the wherewithal to apply Fire Shield to help deflect this damage, our combat tankishness also gets a boost.

Level 9 — 18 Strength, Counterspell, Wall of Fire

At level 9 with get another ASI. If we don’t have Gauntlets of Ogre Power or a Belt of Giant Strength by this time, we boost our Strength to 18. If we do have one of these highly desirable items, we can either increase our Dexterity to 14 and gain some much-needed AC, or we can increase our Charisma to 18 to further buff our spells. I’m more partial to option 2, but you do you.

Assuming no magical Strength enhancement, the ASI boost to 18 gives us 2d6+7 damage with our Greatsword when we Rage, 2d6+17 if we use our Great Weapon Master feature. Solid. Now our NOVA rounds are looking pretty strong at 123-153 if we’re hit once while Armor of Agathys is active, if we crit, and if we activate our Eldritch Smite on a critical hit. Adding such a high damage potential on top of our already impressive tankishness is pretty amazing to say the least. Though our 2 slots from Warlock make such NOVAs a clutch choice as we decide to unload a lot of our available resources into an admittedly powerful combination.

Using Eldritch Versatility, we might switch Shatter to Counterspell. We are heavy on fire-based magic. However, our ability to use Eldritch Blast does provide us with a force option to counter most damage resistances. I tend to want to have access to Counterspell by this level, so I’m going to recommend it for our Myra Helkey Gish.

Wall of Fire is an effective area denial spell.

Speaking of fire, we decide to double down on this particularly hot elemental damage type by gaining access to Wall of Fire. We probably stole this spell from some devils somewhere. So let’s use it wisely to divide up our foes during a clutch moment.

One caveat — if we’re in the lower planes on a hunt for fiendish souls to power our magic, fire becomes less effective. So we may instead want to keep Shatter and take the wonderful area denial spell that is Sickening Radiance if our Myra is out to go get the fiends.

Level 10 — Devil’s Sight, Synaptic Static

At level 10 we gain access to 5th level spells. I’m not super jazzed about our options. But picking up some non fire AOE damage seems like a good choice to me. So I’m going to recommend Synaptic Static — providing us with tough to resist psychic damage and a nice debuff against monsters with even just a little jot of Intelligence. We also gain another Eldritch Invocation. Since we’re stealing powers from fiends, we now pick up the wonderful Devil’s Sight granting us 120 feet of Darkvision that also ignores magical darkness.

Gaining fifth level spell slots also boosts our signature Armor of Agathys to 25 THP. Combined with our base HP of 77, we have 102 effective HP for most encounters. Rage grants us resistance to physical attacks and our Fire Shield can give us resistance to cold or fire, two very common damage types. Our Dark One’s Blessing grants 12 THP when we bring creatures to 0 HP which we now do rather often given our sweet collection of offensive abilities. We can also boost our reactive damage to 25+2d8 for an average of 34. Our Armor of Agathys typically lasts through three or more hits while raging. So we can expect to do upwards of 75-102 reactive damage over the lifespan of Agathys.

Level 11-13 — Fiendish Resilience, Circle of Death, 18 Charisma, Lifedrinker

Reaching level 11, we are now a level 10 Warlock and we access another trait from our name curse (err… Fiend Patron). This trait — Fiendish Resilience — grants us one resistance of our choice at the end of a short or long rest. I’m partial to fire, necrotic, cold or lightning resistance considering we already have access to Rage. This extra resistance pairs nicely with our ability to cast Fire Shield. Yet another helpful addition to our tankish suite. For our level 11 spell choice I’m going to suggest Dispel Magic. It adds still more versatility to our suite. Since we’re getting another spell slot next level, this spell can be pretty clutch. For us, it’s more potent than your typical dispel, as it’s always upcast to level 5.

Level 12 grants us our first Mystic Arcanum. For it we take the very large AOE that is Circle of Death. This spell gives us a huge 60 foot radius area in which we inflict 8d6 necrotic damage. It’s like a gigantic necrotic Fireball. Speaking of Fireball, we can now also cast three of these bad boys at level 5 for 10d6 damage on top of our Circle of Death. Blasting isn’t our main schtick. But our spell choices enable us to still provide powerful blast support when we need to.

By level 13 we’ve hit level 12 in Warlock and gained another ASI. We use it to boost our Charisma to 18 granting us a +4 bonus. As we now lob three Eldritch Blasts, we can do 3d10+12 total damage if all hit. Yet another arrow in our quiver of versatility. Boosting Charisma also fuels our newest Eldritch Invocation — Lifedrinker, which adds our Cha bonus to our Pact Weapon attacks as necrotic damage. Our melee attacks using our Pact Weapon now deal 2d6+9 total damage, 2d6 +11 when we Rage, and up to 2d6 +21 if we use our Great Weapon Master ability to add 10 damage. Pretty badass.

Level 14-17 — Crown of Stars, Hurl Through Hell, Maddening Darkness, Witch Sight, 20 Strength

Level 14 grants us our second Mystic Arcanum. We use it to choose the amazing Crown of Stars. Now we have a ranged bonus action attack that we can use without concentration. This gives us another spell we can cast pre-Rage and use while we Rage. The damage from Crown of Stars at 4d12 is considerable. If we are outside of Rage, this ranged option adds to our already impressive Eldritch Blast. When we wish to, we can buff both of these effects with Hex for a total of 4d12+4d6+3d10+12 or 68.5 average damage per round if all attacks land. Wof!

With the arrival of level 15, we access our final Fiend Warlock feature — Hurl Through Hell. Now, when we hit a creature with any attack, we can take it out of combat until the end of our next turn and inflict 10d10 psychic damage to it if the creature is not a fiend. It’s like a free no-save one-turn banishment combined with a boatload of psychic damage to non-fiends. My fluff for Myra’s RP of this power is that the fiends trapped in her shadow shoot out to engulf the target, temporarily tearing it out of existence and pulling it into a deadly, hellish dimension only to spit it out again six seconds later. On single strike, if we land a critical hit, unload Eldritch Smite and Hurl Through Hell, we do 4d6+12d8+10d10+21 (if we are Raging and if we use Great Weapon Master) or 134 average damage. Our NOVA round damage including Armor of Agathys and Fire Shield is now 224 average. This on a build primarily optimized for HP and THP tanking.

Hell is deadly. So is being hurled into it unexpectedly.

Level 16 grants us our third Mystic Arcanum and we choose the amazing spell that is Maddening Darkness. With this spell, we fill a huge 60 foot radius area with magical darkness that damages opponents for 8d8 psychic each round all while lobbing Eldritch Blasts into the zone. Nasty.

Level 17 provides us with our fourth ASI which we use to boost our Strength to 20. Our Eldritch Blast jumps to 4d10+16 from all missiles. Finally, we pick up the Eldritch Invocation Witch Sight allowing us to see through shape-changing and illusions that mask physical forms. As an alternative, we might want to take Lance of Lethargy to make it more difficult for creatures to leave our damaging area denial zones like Maddening Darkness by reducing their movement by 10 feet when we hit them with our Eldritch Blasts.

Level 18-20 — Foresight, Eldritch Lance, 20 Charisma

Rounding out our high level gains, we pick up Foresight for our Mystic Arcanum at level 18. Foresight grants us advantage on our attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws while causing attacks against us to be made with disadvantage. This powerful buff lasts for eight hours and does not require concentration — meaning it is yet one more spell we can use while we Rage (against the dying of the light…). At level 19 we pick up Eldritch Lance to increase the range of our Eldritch Blast attacks to 300 feet. And last of all, by level 20, we boost our Charisma to 20. If we haven’t yet picked up Spirit Shroud, we go ahead an take it as another melee buff option when we are not Raging. We might need it for some long, high level adventuring days. Spirit Shroud also trades our resilience for some powerful potential NOVA rounds.

For both ranged and melee, we are looking pretty impressive. Our Eldritch Blast attacks now do 4d10+20, our melee attacks with our Greatsword now do 2d6+11 up to 2d6+23 while raging and using Great Weapon Master to boost our damage by 10.

Our NOVA critical round, while raging, hasn’t improved too much from level 14. But it has risen a bit to the hefty 8d6+12d8+10d10+2d8+72+25 or 242. With Spirit Shroud active, we can boost this NOVA by another 8d8 (subtracting 6 from the loss of Rage) for 272. Right up there with our other powerful NOVA builds.

Our tanking also remains very impressive when we do Rage. Our base Hit Points + THP are now 147+25 or 172. While raging, we take half damage from physical attacks. With Fiendish resilience, we’ve chosen one energy resistance. With Fire Shield, we can gain resistance to cold or fire. With Foresight active, attacks are made at disadvantage against us and we have advantage on our saving throws. When we bring a creature to 0 hit points with one of our powerful attacks, we gain 24 THP. The Barbarian has long since outpaced us on base hit points — averaging about 264. However, we surpass the Barb in average HP + THP if we reduce just four creatures to 0 HP over the course of one or more combats. Meanwhile, our strong suite of magical options provides us with powerful ranged attacks, various other buffs, deadly NOVAs, and amazing area denial and AOE damage effects.

Our girl — Myra Helkey as a Hellblade Tank — is one helluva Gish. She’s got badass RP mojo. As I mentioned from a start, I’ve played many versions of Myra throughout my career as gamer. I’ve enjoyed her so much I’ve even written a book about her. I hope your experience with this build version of Myra Helkey is as fantastic as mine has been. We will likely be returning to explore further D&D build renderings of this particular OC.

Love to you all and happy gaming!! 💙💛

BSO Ragnarok 1.35: Troubles Rise From Yggdrasil’s Roots Part 2 — The Chambers of Grief

Welcome to Part 4 of the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim — an unofficial and unaffiliated OGL Dungeons and Dragons adventure designed to take characters from level 1 all the way to level 5-7! This is the fourth module provided for the larger BSO Ragnarök campaign. Here, the PCs continue their journey as unlikely heroes in the BSO Ragnarök setting. It is also part 2 of the adventure — Troubles Rise from Yggdrasil’s Roots.

Toubles Rise — provides players with a choice of two paths. They can decide to enter Goblin Town — a new gathering of monsters led by Shadow Maw in the hills near Yggdrasil. Or they can decide to investigate the Ramshackle House — which is occupied by PKers in service to Svartalfheim’s lord King Doomshallow. Each opens to a dungeon that characters can explore — providing monsters and/or PKers to defeat, mysteries to uncover, and treasure to be won. These adventures are designed for a party of 4-6 level 2 adventurers and will take the players to level 3-4 or higher when completed. Which path the characters choose will determine the events of the next chapter in the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim series — Safe Zones Lost, Midgard Invaded.

Updated Midgard Campaign Map Including Recent Key Locations. Original map made by Ted Burgess.

To make Troubles Rise… less cumbersome as a blog post, it has been broken into two parts. Part 1 — describing Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors, and Shadow Maw is provided here. Part 2 is below.

I am running Battlestorm Ragnarök as a live campaign. Play is live-streamed on Twitch Saturday Nights about once every three weeks at Ted Burgess’s Twitch page. Afterward, videos of these live games along with character profiles are provided here in the Battlestorm Ragnarök Campaign Archive. In addition, I’m providing walk-throughs of these published modules about once every two weeks every Sunday or Monday Night on my Twitch page.

Below is the Chambers of Grief section of the Dungeons and Dragons adventure module Troubles Rise From Yddgrasil’s Roots. Enjoy it here for free.

Because we love WOTC and Dungeons and Dragons, we want to take this opportunity to promote some of the amazing game books we use at our tables when we play games like this one. Please find them here if you haven’t already: The Monster ManualThe Player’s HandbookThe Dungeon Master’s GuideVolo’s Guide to MonstersXanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of EverythingSword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

(Warning: if you are a player in the Battlestorm Online Ragnarok campaign setting STOP READING NOW.)

INVESTIGATION OF OMINOUS SIGNS REVEAL TWO CHOICES FOR PLAYERS —  INVESTIGATE THE RAMSHACKLE HUT OR TAKE ON GOBLIN TOWN

The players have now begun to learn more about the new troubles besetting Midgard. Following the rescue of Raven and the bittersweet reunion with her daughter Thalia, our heroes went on to uncover up to two new threats facing Midgard. The first is a town of monsters forming in the hills to the East of Yggdrasil. The second is a PKer guild that preys on adventurers in the weakening safe zones of Mio Elysse while hiding out in a Ramshackle House cast into darkness by Yggdrasil’s roots. Depending on the course of your campaign, the players may have completed one or both of these quests before reaching level 2. If the players have completed both, give them the Quest Alert below and the Quest Alert from Troubles Rise Part 1.

If the players decide to Defeat Killz4LULZ and Slay Synthread, read the following recap and introduction. If the players decide to Slay Shadow Maw, skip this section and go to Troubles Rise Part 1.

Venturing into Midgard beneath the new star’s blue light — a star Astrid’s prophecy revealed is the very Eye of Odin come to gaze upon the void — you discovered dark shadows emerging from Yggdrasil’s roots invading Mio Elysse. Within these shadows, Mio Elysse’s safe zone was disrupted. The protection from monsters and other dangers that all BSO players relied on to survive in this deadly virtual world was under threat.

Investigating rumors of player-on-player violence in Mio Elysse, you discovered that a PKer guild called Killz4LULZ was exploiting these safe zone holes to attack other players. Following a trail of clues and various reports of abuse, you came to the shadowy Ramshackle House. This run-down building was infested by Yggdrasil’s roots. It spilled dark root-shadows onto the nearby street. Shadows that shut down Mio Elysse’s safe zone. There, you confronted three murderous members of the PKer Guild Killz4LULZ. These PKers were attacking, pillaging, and killing other players as they walked, unsuspecting, in the streets near their dark hideout. You intended to bring these criminals to justice.

You engaged Killz4LULZ in combat among the shadows of a disrupted safe zone — facing off against murderous players who’d decided to kill others trapped in BSO’s virtual death game. Spells flashed, blades and arrows flew in a battle that, to you, seemed a corrupt abomination. Here were players caught in the same trouble as you but were acting in a manner worse even than the monsters inhabiting this death trap. What motivated Killz4LULZ to behave in such a brutal fashion was beyond you. You only guessed that whatever sickness of mind enthralled them was the same pathology gripping the game’s vile creator — your captor, Gema Masuta. Regardless, your heroic efforts enabled you to turn Killz4LULZ’s ambush against them — forcing its members to flee or capturing them.

After the battle, you approached the Ramshackle House to discover its entryway triggered a new Quest Alert. This dark house represented a Quest location you could access once you achieved level 2. What lurks behind that shadowed entrance has troubled you ever since. Certainly more members of the murder-guild sheltered there. But the gloomy opening seemed to hint at something far more sinister. Yggdrasil’s roots were steadily ripping apart Mio Elysse’s safe haven. An unknown number of players were exploiting this disruption to kill their fellows. What other terrible things might they do if allowed to continue? And what further terrors lay hidden in the shadows behind the dark doorway?

You have now reached level 2. So your thoughts again shift to that looming doorway and its blinking Quest Alert. Following your unsettled rest, you receive a notification from RubyNight — NEW QUEST AVAILABLE!! INVESTIGATE THE RAMSHACKLE HOUSE!! DEFEAT KILLZ4LULZ AND SLAY SYNTHREAD!! MEET WITH QUEST-GIVER RUBYNIGHT TO RECIEVE!! Your own fears validated by RubyNight’s quest, you strike out, the gaping entrance to the Ramshackle House clouding your mind with its hinted horrors.

Helpful Hints from RubyNight — Killz4LULZ working with Drow monsters led by Synthread

Ruby is available to meet with players at the Guild Hall during the day or at Thunderale Tavern during night-time (see Ominous Signs Part 1). At their meeting, Ruby expresses her relief that the players returned safely after facing PKer members of Killz4LULZ and other dangers. Ruby seems sheepish about asking the players to risk themselves again so soon. But she believes she may be able to provide them with helpful hints about the Ramshackle House.

While the players were away, RubyNight and Abigail Barnwallow interrogated members of Killz4LULZ captured by the PCs or by other players. These PKers revealed that not only is the Ramshackle House a hideout for Killz4LULZ, it is also the entry to a larger warren inhabited by Drow under the leadership of a Drider from Svartalfheim called Synthread. The PKers seemed smug in the knowledge that those living in Mio Elysse would soon come under the dominion of Killz4LULZ and Synthread. Unlike other monsters from Svartalfheim, Drow possess the unique and uncanny ability to move freely about in Midgard so long as they have touched a Deep Shard or an item crafted from it. These Drow have coordinated with Killz4LULZ to stake out Mio Elysse. Apparently, both the Drow and the PKers are marking the growth of various safe zone disruptions throughout the city, are crafting and distributing Deep Shard items to its members and allies, and are planning to mount a larger campaign against both player and NPC inhabitants of Mio Elysse. RubyNight believes this coordination between PKers and monsters to assault Mio Elysse may just be the tip of the spear for a larger invasion from Svartalfheim. Even though she knows the risks are high, she asks the players to enter the Ramshackle House, defeat the members of Killz4LULZ, and slay the monsters who inhabit it to include Synthread.

New Quest From RubyNight — Defeat Killz4LULZ and Slay Synthread

A new darkness has emerged in Midgard. Synthread — a terrible Drider servant of Wiltroot — is recruiting PKers and massing Drow forces beneath the streets of Mio Elysse and in other cities across Midgard. If the players undertake this quest, they will directly confront the horrific creature that is Synthread — Lady of the Chambers of Grief and traveler through its terrible net of shadow. What follows is the story of how Synthread is spreading Wiltroot’s baleful influence into Midgard even as she uses Yggdrasil’s shadows as a beach-head from which to launch attacks against players. It is essential reading for the Dungeon Master as the players will either confront Synthread now or later. If the players instead decide to investigate Goblin Town, they’ll be faced with Synthread in the next chapter of this adventure series — Safe Zones Lost, Midgard Invaded.

Quest Background: Synthread, Killz4LULZ and the Drow of Wiltroot

The Dungeon Realm of Svartalfheim is divided into two regions. One is the mountain realm of Soria. This fortress of King Doomshallow is both a city of Duergar and a dark mine that delves into various deep pits. From these pits the Duergar bring up rich materials to forge into weapons, as well as gold, silver, and jewels to enrich themselves. These mining pits run deep, however, tapping poison airs and waters. Dredging up choking smoke and terrible burning fires. These poison airs and fires coalesce into fiends aligned with Doomshallow. One of these is his hound — Shadow Maw — described in part 1 of this module.

Surrounding Soria is the Wiltroot Wood, ruled by a dark druidess of the same name. This dark forest is full of trees corrupted by the poisons spewing out from Soria. It is also home to the Drow — who share the fallen realm of Svartalfheim with their Duergar allies. Together, the Drow of Wiltroot and the Duergar of Soria form a dominion over the other creatures of Svartalfheim whom they’ve enslaved to work in Soria’s mines or to serve in the various slave shops of the Drow.

When Yggdrasil’s roots began to pierce Svartalfheim, a Drider by the name of Synthread and one of Wiltroot’s chief servants, crawled up along a root and discovered a gateway leading to a series of subterranean chambers beneath the city of Mio Elysse. The chambers were filled with shadows spilling out from Yggdrasil’s roots. Synthread found that she was able to touch these shadows and sense the creatures passing through them, read their minds, even send her thoughts to them. Soon, Synthread found that a number of the players inhabiting Mio Elysse harbored malice against their fellows. Exploiting this malice, she whispered to them as they passed, calling them down to the Ramshackle House and into the Chambers of Grief which lay beneath it.

Over time, numerous like-minded malicious players gathered with Synthread in the Ramshackle House and the Chambers beneath. These were joined by numerous Drow of Wiltroot. There they conspired to kill and enslave the inhabitants of Mio Elysse for power and profit. They spied on Mio Elysse. They staged ambushes of its inhabitants. They collected Deep Shard and forged numerous weapons of this substance springing up from each player’s death. They even brought player slaves to Wiltroot.

Now Synthread has filled her Chambers of Grief with allies — both from Killz4LULZ and from Svartalfheim. Crawling along Yggdrasil’s roots, she has started to open gates beneath the other cities of Midgard. For she possesses the special ability to weave gateways out of Yggdrasil’s root shadows. If she is not stopped, she will stage an invasion of Midgard’s cities from within and below. She will do this both by massing her lady Wiltroot’s Drow in the shadows, and by ensnaring the scores of PKers roaming Midgard in her web of dark design.

Quest Alert: Enter the Ramshackle House, Defeat Killz4LULZ, Slay Synthread

Make a copy of the following green highlighted text to give to the players when they receive this Quest from RubyNight:

Situation: Killz4LULZ is staging attacks on players from the Ramshackle House and inside areas of shadow disrupting Mio Elysse’s safe zone. Interrogating captured members of Killz4LULZ reveals that this PKer Guild is coordinating with Synthread — a monster and a leader of Drow living in a series of subterranean caverns beneath the Ramshackle House.

Objective: Enter the Ramshackle House and Defeat Killz4LULZ. If possible capture members of Killz4LULZ. Leaders are high value targets.

Objective: Slay Synthread and her Drow followers living in the chambers beneath the Ramshackle House.

Objective: Learn how Synthread is able to coordinate with PKers and discover how widespread this coordiantion is.

Objective: Learn more about Synthread, its origins and who, if anyone, commands it.

Reward: 750 gold (250 gold awarded by each of the major guilds).

The Ramshackle House and Chambers of Grief Adventure Map

Below is the adventure map for The Ramshackle House and The Chambers of Grief. The map features three main areas — The Ramshackle House (rooms 1-5), Killz4LULZ’s Guild Chambers (10-15), and Synthread’s Lair (19-24). These areas are connected by a dungeon environment hosting those loyal to Synthread, members of Killz4LULZ, and other monsters.

The Chambers of Grief

Lighting within The Ramshackle House is generally dim. Lighting in areas 6-16 is dark. Lighting in areas 17-24 is dim. Areas within 10 feet of a Yggdrasil root are dark. In addition, Yggdrasil roots reduce the intensity of light sources within 20 feet by 1 level (bright light to dim light etc). Braziers marked on the map provide bright light out to 20 feet and dim light out to 40 feet. Wiltroot growth — marked dark green on the map — provides dim light.

Within The Chambers of Grief and throughout Mio Elysse, Yggdrasil root shadows also provide scrying pools for Synthread. The Drider can see anyone passing within 20 feet of a Yggdrasil root shadow so long as she’s focusing on that shadow. In addition, she may telepathically communicate with creatures in this zone. Finally, she may cast detect thoughts on any such creature. If one of her allies (either from Killz4LULZ or from her Drow contingent) steps into a Yggdrasil root shadow and calls Synthread’s name, she is immediately alerted and can then receive reports. In this way, it is likely that Synthread quickly becomes aware of the players. At which point, she will attempt to use detect thoughts (DC 13) on players entering Yggdrasil root shadows to gain more information about their plans.

Unlike monsters, Killz4LULZ members do not immediately die when reduced to zero hit points. Like player characters, they must fail three death saves. In addition, players cannot loot gear or money from dead Killz4LULZ members even outside of the safe zone. Like all players in the game, Killz4LULZ members possess teleportation crystals. However, these crystals have now been altered by Synthread. When activated, they can instead be used to teleport Killz4LULZ members to area 14 or to area 23. If large groups of Killz4LULZ members face defeat, particularly in areas 10-15, they will fall back to area 23 given the opportunity.

Areas marked C are Killz4LULZ checkpoints. They are each manned by two Bandits and commanded by one Thug. The Bandits are each armed with a Minor Deep Shard Scimitar and wear studded leather armor (AC 13). The Thug is armed with a Minor Deep Shard Mace and also wears studded leather armor (AC 12). Each Thug at these checkpoints is also equipped with a horn. If attacked, the Thugs spend a minor action to sound the horn which alerts all Killz4LULZ members in areas 10-15 and causes those in areas 10-12 and at the other checkpoint to mobilize.

Caverns with green floor have been polluted by an outgrowth of plants from Wiltroot. The soils of Wiltroot were corrupted by the toxic oily liquids of Lake Niflheim. An effect of these fluids allows plants to subsist in darkness by feeding on the life of animals and by drinking blood. Wiltroot and Killz4LULZ brings its victims to die in the Yggdrasil root shadows in these areas to both feed these dark mosses and grasses and to form Deep Shard. Eventually, these mosses and grasses will grow to spawn Twig Blights, Needle Blights, Vine Blights, Meenlocks, and other corrupted plant creatures.

Gridded Version of The Chambers of Grief

Yggdrasil roots within the Chambers of Grief contain higher amounts of oily toxins from Lake Niflheim. Examination of these roots using Arcana or Nature (DC 14), discovers the substance. Further examination reveals the toxin has a corrupting effect associated with undeath (DC 17). If the players have collected other root samples, they notice the same toxin in lesser amounts. Its discovery presents a mystery. Perhaps the root shadows themselves are not the source of the undead that so often appear near Yggdrasil roots. As these shadows have served as a gateway for Drow and Duergar, perhaps the shadows of Ginnungagap are merely a suitable environment for the undead that appear there.

Leveling — as the players progress, they may reach level 3 and possibly level 4 by the end of this adventure. Remember that players will need to return to Mio Elysse and visit an Inn to complete a long rest and to receive the training needed to gain a level. Time spent leveling will likely result in the players meeting more prepared and determined foes once they return.

Returning to the Ramshackle House

Your return to the Ramshackle House is, at first, uneventful. Players passing on the street now stay well away from the shadows. Word has spread of their danger, thanks in large part to your efforts. The tattered and dilapidated house still turns your eyes from it. Possessed, perhaps, by some Drow enchantment that repels sight. But the inky shadows spilling out toward Roc Talon Traders are unmistakable. You enter the shadows. WARNING: LEAVING SAFE ZONE flickers on your head’s up display. The dark building squats before you. Silent for now.

With members of its guild captured and players venturing on the streets of Mio Elysse at higher alert, Killz4LULZ has withdrawn to take stock, to assess, and to swell the ranks of its members. Synthread’s plans are coming close to fruition and the leader of Killz4LULZ — CLOWNFORCE9 — has pulled the bulk of his members back to the Chambers of Grief. Though The Ramshackle House is warded by a level 2 quest alert, neither Synthread nor CLOWNFORCE9 believe that barrier will last long. They’re aware that a higher level group of adventurers is likely on the way. The house has thus been fortified with a garrison of Drow and Killz4LULZ members even as Synthread and CLOWNFORCE9 continue to conduct raids and seek followers from other locations in Mio Elysse and elsewhere.

The Ramshackle House

1. Front Room

The door opens to a large room over-run by Yggdrasil roots and clogged with shadow. In contrast, various lanterns and a large fireplace spill light into this choking darkness. Near the fireplace are three figures. You assume by their gear that they are adventurers — members of the PKer guild Killz4LULZ. Shadows to your right and left block your vision, creating a kind of tunnel of darkness around you.

Clustered near the fireplace is the front room garrison provided by Killz4LULZ. Their leader is a Thug named BluntIS. He is armed with a Minor Deep Shard Mace — adding 1 point of necrotic damage on a critical hit. With him is MyURL, an Apprentice Wizard, armed with a Minor Deep Shard Dagger, and KithRA, an Acolyte also armed with a Minor Deep Shard Mace. This group is a recent rotation from Killz4LULZ. They are alerted by the Drow in the shadows of any non-stealthy approach by the players.

Two Drow stand in the Yggdrasil root shadows near the door. They are hidden (DC 14 Perception). Peering through cracks in the front wall facing the street, they monitor the entrance and alert their Killz4LULZ companions to the approach of any adventurers. Each Drow is armed with a Minor Deep Shard Short Sword.

The ceiling of this room in collapsed. A small platform of flooring remains intact near a window overlooking the street which is unoccupied. The stairs are rotten. Anyone walking on the stairs must make a DC 14 Acrobatics check or fall through the stairs into the closet underneath. Within the closet beneath the stairs (A) is a cluster of Yggdrasil roots. This area is a shrouded in darkness and is totally obscured. Lurking within the closet is a Swarm of Rot Grubs. The Rot Grubs attack anyone falling through the stairs or opening the closet door.

Treasure: The chest in the southwest contains a pair of fine boots worth 50 gold. The Drow wear two chain shirts (sellable for half value). Collectively, the Drow keep 7 gold, 16 silver, and 12 copper between them.

2. DArkFLYTE’s Room

DArkFLYTE is one of Killz4LULZ’s chief spies. She lurks in the Guild Hall, at Thunderale Tavern and among other gatherings of adventurers to listen to scuttlebutt, learn about prominent players, and to establish marks for PK ambushes or recruiting. Recently, she’s been coordinating with Chillsting (see Room 4) to develop a defense of The Chambers of Grief by fortifying the Ramshackle House against a potential assault.

DArkFLYTE is a rogue who uses the Spy stat block with the following exceptions. She is an elf with darkvision of 60 and wears studded leather armor (AC 14). She has a speed of 35 feet. She wields a Minor Deep Shard Short Sword and has a quiver filled with 20 Minor Deep Shard Quarrels for her hand crossbow.

If DArkFLYTE hears combat in room 1, she moves through the door to aid her allies and companions. Keeping to the Yggdrasil root shadows, she uses her cunning action to hide and then to attack with advantage. If the combat tips against DArkFLYTE, she uses her cunning action to flee to room 4. Once there, she directs the Meenlock Stinkbark toward the battle then uses the ladder to descend to area 6. If she makes it to area 6, she uses the boat to cross the waters, then knocks a hole in the boat. From there she moves on to warn CLOWNFORCE9 in area 15 and then steps into some Yggdrasil root shadows to send a message to Synthread. If unable to flee by this route, DArkFLYTE uses her teleport crystal to return to area 14. If DArkFLYTE is captured, she uses her social skills to plead for her life, then tries to escape at first opportunity.

Treasure: In addition to her Deep Shard items, DArkFLYTE wears an onyx tiara worth 50 gold. Her studded leather armor and hand crossbow are sellable at half value. All of these items are on her person. But she will use them for barter if the players will let her go. Her trunk has a secret compartment (DC 17 Perception) containing a pouch with 10 platinum pieces that she hasn’t yet added to her inventory.

3. Drow Reserve

Two Drow occupy this room. They’re the reserve rotation for the Drow presently in room 1. If the Drow in this room hear combat in area 1, they rally to aid their allies, arriving on round 2. Each Drow wields a Minor Deep Shard Shortsword in addition to their normal equipment.

Treasure: If the Drow are defeated, the players find 11 gold and 7 silver on them. In addition to their Deep Shard items, the players can also retrieve one sellable chain shirt. The trunk in this room contains normal Drow sized clothing.

4. Chillsting

Once she realized the Ramshackle House was under threat of attack, Synthread sent her lieutenant Chillsting to lead its defense. One of the first Drow to gain possession of a Deep Shard item, Chillsting has passed many times between Midgard and Svartalfheim. One of Wiltroot’s, first invaders, Chillsting spied on adventurers near Yggdrasil, led assaults against players, and has consulted with Shadowmaw. When Synthread established her own stronghold beneath the streets of Mio Elysse, Wiltroot sent Chillsting to aid Synthread with her invasion plans.

Walking within Yggdrasil’s root shadows for so long has left the oily mark of undeath on Chillsting. He contracted the Creeping Death (see Appendix) and transforming him into a terrible undead. Now a Sword Wraith Warrior, Chillsting lusts for the deaths of adventurers even more. Retaining his Drow cunning (Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 12), Chillsting has developed what he believes to be a strong defense against any assault by the players. If Chillsting hears combat in room 1, he lifts his Major Deep Shard Longsword (granting him +1 to hit and damage and an addtional 1 necrotic damage on a crit) and rushes to join the fray (arriving on round 3). Chillsting lusts for player deaths — attacking recklessly using his martial fury ability.

Treasure: The chest to the north of the room is locked (DC 20 Thievery). Inside are three bags of coins — 100 gold, 50 silver, 30 copper. Chillsting also holds a Major Deep Shard Longsword, wears a still serviceable chain shirt, carries a shield, and holds a longbow along with 20 arrows. All normal items are sellable at half price.

5. Open Pit

The floor boards in the southeast section of this room have been removed revealing an open pit. Along the pit’s edge Yggdrasil roots grow, spilling out cold shadows. A rickety ladder descends through mists and darkness. The sound of rushing water can be heard rising up from the pit below. Another Yggdrasil growth shrouds a section of the north wall in shadow.

A Meenlock named Stinkbark hides in the Yggdrasil roots along the north wall. He remains hidden (DC 21 Perception) unless the Yggdrasil roots are directly examined. If he hasn’t yet been alerted by DArkFLYTE, he waits for an opportune time to ambush the party. Descending the ladder, for example, provides an ideal moment for Stinkbark to strike. Stinkbark holds a Deep Shard in his mouth.

The rickety ladder descends fifty feet into area 6 ending on a small island amidst swirling waters (see area 6). The ladder is in ill repair (DC 12 Perception) and can only bear about four hundred pounds of weight. If the ladder is over-loaded, it will collapse. All on the ladder will fall. A person near the ladder’s upper section (within five feet of area 5’s floor) can grasp the floor and hang on by making a successful DC 13 Dexterity save. Everyone else on the ladder falls from their present height and onto the rocky island below.

Mists swirl ten feet below the pit’s edge. These mists are ten feet thick. The area they occupy is heavily obscured. When players break through the mist, they emerge thirty feet up the ladder in area 6. At this point, they are likely to attract the attention of the Ghoulish Giant Bat guards lurking in the chamber below.

6. The Chamber of Whirlpools

The roar of rushing water rises up as you descend through the mists. All around, darkness presses in as the ladder plunges down into blackness.

If the player on the ladder has a light source, read the following description:

Your light pushes against the blackness revealing an expansive cavern. Directly below you the ladder continues down to an island swarming with Yggdrasil root shadows. Surrounding the island are swirling waters riled by two whirlpools. A damp beach covered in cave rocks skirts the raging waters. From the chamber’s walls sprout numerous Yggdrasil root shadows — shrouding large sections of wall in darkness.

Three Ghoulish Giant Bats occupy this chamber. These monsters use the Giant Bat stat block with the following exceptions. They are Undead. They are immune to poison damage. They are immune to the charmed, exhausted, and poisoned conditions. They also possess the Ghoul claws attack action (including ghoul paralysis). These bats were among a number of pets kept by Synthread in Wiltroot. In Svartalfheim, they aided in her night-time hunts for prey. When Synthread came to Midgard, the bats journeyed with her. Frequent exposure to Yggdrasil’s death-tainted roots rising up from Niflheim and running through Ginnungagap stained the bats with the poisons of Lake Niflheim and rendered them undead. They cling to the wall, using the root shadows of Ginnungagap to hide while they scan the chamber with echolocation. The bats fly out to confront anyone entering the chamber. They recognize members of Killz4LULZ and the followers of Wiltroot. They will attack the players immediately as intruders.

Waters swirling around the island flow down from the waterfall in area 8 and under then bridge in area 7. They plunge through two whirlpools into a subterranean rapids that flow beneath Mio Elysse and finally spill out in a waterfall on Mio Elysse’s coast. Anyone swimming or boating in the areas marked by the whirlpools are pulled into these rapids. Without some form of water breathing, anyone caught in these rapids will drown as the passage to the coast takes ten minutes without air. Even with water breathing, those caught in the rapids are battered for 4d6 bludgeoning damage before being expelled in a waterfall that drops twenty feet into a coastal grotto. Swimming outside of the whirlpools is difficult (DC 19 Athletics). A successful Athletics check allows players to swim at half speed. Failure means swimmers make no progress and merely keep pace against the current. Failure by 5 or more while swimming in area 6 means the swimmers are drawn into the whirlpools.

A boat is either pulled ashore on the island or on the beach. Its location is dependent on whether DArkFLYTE passed through area 6 on her way to warn CLOWNFORCE9 and Synthread. If DArkFLYTE passed through, the boat is on the far shore with a hole in its bottom. If DArkFLYTE was captured or killed by the players or was forced to teleport, the boat is on the island. This boat is a small dingy capable of carrying two passengers at a time. It is equipped with oars and if launched from the far side of the island requires only a DC 12 Water Vehicles check or a DC 12 Dexterity check to row safely to the far shore. Failure means no progress is made. Failure by 5 or more means the boat is pulled into one of the whirlpools. A player holding an oar can make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw to plant an oar in the bottom and prevent the boat from being drawn into a whirlpool. If two players are on the boat, both can attempt this saving throw. If one succeeds, then the boat is saved. Players who save the boat from the whirlpools can then again attempt Water Vehicles or Dexterity skill checks to bring them safely to shore.

7. Croaker’s Bridge

A fire burns in a pit beside a crude bridge. The bridge is a haphazard construction of logs and various debris crossing rapids rushing below. Hunkered down beside the fire is a large, green-skinned monster. He sits on a number of fat sacks. His black eyes follow you. Thrusting a warty hand toward you, he snarls “pay to pass.”

The monster is Croaker. A Troll, and an original monster who inhabited this area prior to the appearance of Synthread and Killz4LULZ, Croaker has occupied this narrow area. He demands tribute from anyone who passes. The cost of passage is 1 gold piece per person. Croaker is equally happy to fight and slay any who refuse the toll. He is always hungry and the profit from battle is often greater than from the tolls.

Practically anyone observing the bridge immediately realizes it is superficial and unnecessary (DC 8 Insight). The rapids here are swift and deep, but narrow. It is thus easy enough to cross them by jumping. In addition, anyone can walk around the beach in area 6 to get to either side of the rapids if need be.

Synthread and CLOWNFORCE9 have decided to allow Croaker to remain where he is. His tolls, though high priced, are not enough to disrupt their operations. In addition, he serves as a second line of defense against incursion.

Treasure: Croaker has accumulated 342 gold pieces which he holds in his sacks. In addition, he keeps a Wand of the War Mage +1 with the following additional property — whenever the wand is used as an arcane focus to cast Magic Missile, one additional bolt of force is produced. Croaker presently uses the wand as a tooth pick.

8. Fisher’s Falls

A subterranean river spills over a series of falls and down into a pool surrounded by a gravel beach. The water then swiftly flows west. The chamber’s ceiling rises about thirty feet above. Sections of the wall and ceiling are shrouded in pools of shadow.

A solitary Cave Fisher hunts from the ceiling of this chamber. Using its spider climb ability, it occupies a cleft above the room’s center. From this location, it can drop its adhesive filaments onto anyone below. Perceptive players who think to look up may spot the Cave Fisher with a successful active Perception Check (DC 15). Otherwise, a passive Perception of 20 reveals the Cave Fisher and its hiding place.

The Cave Fisher will typically pick a smaller target, drop its filament toward it, and wait for the target to become entangled. It then reels the prey to its location 30 feet above and attacks. Victims who free themselves fall into the water (1d4 bludgeoning damage) or onto the ground (3d6 bludgeoning damage). If a victim remains grappled, the Cave Fisher pulls it into the cleft, granting it half cover, and then proceeds to attack the victim with its claws.

Treasure: The Cave Fisher’s body, filaments, and alcoholic blood are all quiet valuable. Cave Fisher meat will sell for 50 gold, its alcoholic blood for 75 gold, and its filaments for 25 gold (150 gold total).

9. Root Gate to Nidavellir

The floor here takes on a greenish tint as strange mosses and grasses sprout and grow. They release a metallic odor that makes your eyes water. Up ahead, two large Yggdrasil roots flank a curtain of shadow interspersed with flickering lights. You recognize this as a root gateway. To where, you dare not guess.

This root gateway leads to a number of chambers beneath Nidavellir. These have also been occupied by Killz4LULZ and Drow. Though not yet as organized as the group here in Mio Elysse, they represent a serious threat to Nidavellir as Yggrasil roots also begin to disrupt that city’s safe zone.

The gateway is guarded by two Bandits — BRat9 and HahnTED — members of Killz4LULZ, two Drow, and one Bandit Captain — SMASHBALZ — from Killz4LULZ. Each Bandit wears studded leather armor (AC 13) and wields a Minor Deep Shard Scimitar. The Bandit Captain and the Drow each wield a Minor Deep Shard Shortsword.

Even if the players defeat this gate guard, they cannot use the gate unless they have possessed a Deep Shard item for more than ten days or are a Drow who presently possesses a Deep Shard item.

Treasure: In addition to the Drow equipment (players do not drop loot when killed or defeated), the Drow carry 3 platinum and 10 gold between them.

10, 11, and 12 — Killz4LULZ Garrisons

These three areas contain ready groups of Killz4LULZ raiders. Typically sent out to adventure on the surface in Midgard or to ambush weak and unsuspecting groups of players in areas where safe zones are flickering, these raid groups were recalled once members of Killz4LULZ were captured. CLOWNFORCE9 and other guild leaders have instead decided to focus efforts on defense until Wiltroot’s invasion plans unfold. The guild leadership is aware that Wiltroot and Doomshallow are planning their own separate but concordant assaults on Midgard. Killz4LULZ believes these attacks will provide an opportunity for revenge against those who targeted their members. In the meantime, the PKer guild has focused on defense.

If attacked, the defenders are quick to respond. They move swiftly and fight tactically — letting the heavier fighters shift to the front while taking pot-shots at range or attempting to flank. The Acolytes focus on healing and standing those at 0 hp back up. If half or more of the defenders are killed or knocked out, CLev7RWIT will order the remaining defenders to use their teleport crystals to fall back to area 14.

These PKer guild members relish nothing more than ambushing and bullying the weak. If they recognize fellow players, they are liberal with taunts, cut-downs, and intimidation as they attempt to wear down their foes will to fight. Though the rank and file are unlikely to show mercy, CLev7RWIT will recognize the value in capturing the players for questioning should such an event arise (a clever GM could turn a capture into an exciting series of skill challenges, for example).

Area 10 is home to three Bandits — FalayM8, WhyHERD, and TA8ntPANtZ — and one Acolyte named whiGGYN. If alerted by the horn, whiGGYN casts Bless on her companions as they advance to attack. She then saves her last two spell slots for Cure Wounds. All Bandits are armed with Minor Deep Shard Scimitars. The Acolyte is armed with a Minor Deep Shard Mace.

Sleeping mats and mess kits litter the area surrounding the brazier. A small sack of unallotted loot offers the only treasure.

Treasure: 11 gold, 7 silver.

Area 11’s camp has two Bandits 007Evylle, KLick01, an Acolyte HayWUDup, and a Wizard Apprentice PopFizFiz. At the horn’s signal, the adventurers here move swiftly to the alerting checkpoint. The Acolyte casts bless on himself and the two Bandits while en-route. Bandits are armed with Minor Deep Shard Scimitars. The Acolyte is armed with a Minor Deep Shard Mace. The Wizard Apprentice is armed with a Minor Deep Shard Dagger.

Treasure: 9 gold and 12 silver pieces can be found in the bedrolls and bags scattered across this chamber.

Area 12 serves as the command post for CLev7RWIT — a Veteran in charge of this outer ring of defense for the main Killz4LULZ guild hall in areas 13-15. CLev7RWIT is joined by HiLABEAST, a Bandit, WilEPete, an Acolyte, and a Sorcerer — THaSHoCKER (from BSO Ragnarok 1.25).

If alerted by the horns, CLev7RWIT sends his Bandit to warn CLOWNFORCE9 of a possible incursion then takes the rest of his group forward to investigate. On the way, the Acolyte casts Bless on himself, THaSHoCKER, and CLev7RWIT. THaSHoCKER will immediately recognize any players who fought against him and his companions at the Ramshackle House. When battle is joined, he’ll do his best to take down the party’s healers. If the battle goes against him and his fellow defenders, THaSHoCKER will flee to area 13. If the route to area 13 is blocked, he instead attempts to flee to area 23. Whichever route he takes, THaSHoCKER raises the alarm along the way. If unable to flee by foot, THaSHoCKER uses his teleport crystal to transport himself to area 14.

HiLABEAST holds a Minor Deep Shard Scimitar. WilEPete possesses a Minor Deep Shard Mace. CLev7RWIT holds a Major Deep Shard Longsword and a Minor Deep Shard Short Sword. THaSHoCKER retains his Minor Deep Shard Dagger.

Treasure: A small gaming table is covered with the left overs of a poker match totalling 4 platinum, 35 gold, and 43 silver.

13, 14 and 15 — Killz4LULZ’s Underground Guild Hall

This collection of underground chambers serves as Killz4LULZ’s makeshift guild hall. Here CLOWNFORCE9 plans raids, plots to bully and extort adventurers, and coordinates with Synthread’s designs to invade Midgard. The main features in this collection of rooms are the guard towers and the teleportation circle — both described in area 14.

Killz4LULZ Guild Hall

Area 13 houses Killz4LULZ’s heavy reaction team. Commanded by BREWTAL, a Veteran, this team is ready to respond to any attacks on the main guild hall in area 14. BREWTAL commands two Bandits, NuGGiTZ and SPangst55, and one Thug, GReeFEATER.

BREWTAL is a fanatic who enjoys nothing more than slaying players in combat. His armor bears eight skulls — each with a PK symbol drawn in blood red. These symbols of his player kills are plainly visible. He wades into battle with reckless abandon as he seeks new kills. His shouted insults ring out loudly through the din of combat. Though BREWTAL uses a Veteran’s stat block, his hit points are advanced to 78. He also has the reckless attack ability — allowing him to make attacks with advantage even as attacks against him are made with advantage.

NuGGiTZ and SPangst55 each wield a Minor Deep Shard Scimitar. GReeFEATER possesses a Minor Deep Shard Mace. BREWTAL rushes into combat with his Major Deep Shard Battle Axe and a Minor Deep Shard Hand Axe.

Treasure: A chest in the room’s south corner contains 134 gold, 99 silver, a tiger eye worth 25 gold, a peridot worth 25 gold, a Potion of Heroism and a Scroll of Aganazzar’s Scorcher.

Area 14 comprises Killz4LULZ’s main guild hall. When the players enter, read the following description:

The walls of this large chamber are covered in macabre graffiti. Scrawled leering faces, bleeding bodies, and other obscenities seem to jump toward you as you enter. Bedrolls and small tables lay clustered around fires at the bases of three looming towers. In the room’s center, a magic circle casts a green light onto the walls and ceiling. A curtain with the words Killz4LULZ covers a passage to the northeast.

The main features of this room are three towers to the northeast, east, and southeast and the magic circle at the room’s center. Fires burning at the base of each tower and the magic circle’s green light provide dim illumination. A cluster of Yggdrasil roots in the east wall creates an oily pool of darkness.

Each tower is manned by one Bandit and one Wizard Apprentice. The towers provide half cover. They are accessible by 10 foot tall ladders. Moving up the ladders reduces speed by half. Clustered around the magic circle are three Acolytes. If wounded Killz4LULZ members appear in the magic circle, the Acolytes first cast Cure Wounds. They continue healing their companions until they are out of spells at which point they engage in combat. Huddled within the Yggdrasil root shadows are two Meenlocks. The Meenlocks are agents of Synthread. They creep out to opportunistically attack players after one round of combat.

If DArkFLYTE successfully withdrew from the Ramshackle House, she occupies the central tower. From there, she’ll attack players at range. If the tide of battle shifts against Killz4LULZ, DArkFLYTE will use her teleportation crystal to travel to the magic circle in area 23. From there she warns Synthread of Killz4LULZ impending defeat.

The Bandits are CRewLAR, PunkODIN, and VivICE. They’re each armed with a Minor Deep Shard Short Sword. The Wizard Apprentices are SOXstank, ColeFYR, and JeLLyJET. Each wields a Minor Deep Shard Dagger. The Acolytes are NoTOUCH, BLYzART, and WarZYN. They use Minor Deep Shard Maces.

The Creeping Death: If members of Killz4LULZ are captured, there is a 50 percent chance that each displays long term effects from holding a Deep Shard item and from passing through Yggdrasil root gates. Yggdrasil roots are tainted by the oily liquids of Lake Niflheim — the Lake of the Dead. The roots thus exude a necrotic influence. Each time the root gates are used, living players and monsters must make a DC 10 Constitution save. If they fail, they have contracted the Creeping Death — a disease that will turn them into an undead if they fail three DC 13 Constitution saves before they succeed on three such saves. Those contracting this disease make saves at the end of each day until they are either well or transformed into an undead. The type of undead they become depends on their level or hit dice (1-2: zombie or skeleton (50 percent), 3-4: Shadow, 4-5: Sword Wraith Warrior, 5-6+: Wraith). Those afflicted by the Creeping Death are visibly ill (DC 13 Insight or a DC 10 Medicine check). An Arcana or Religion check (DC 15) reveals that those sick with this illness exhibit some undead traits.

Treasure: Scattered around the room are 124 gold, 77 silver, and 88 copper.

Area 15 is sectioned off by a banner painted with “Killz4LULZ.” Behind the barrier is CLOWNFORCE9’s command room. He is attended by his aide — an Acolyte named SIMPath — and a Drow agent of Synthread named Bluet.

CLOWNFORCE9 is a Bard with the following changes. He has a Charisma and Dexterity of 16. He wears +1 studded leather armor (AC 16). Charm person is replaced with cause fear on his first level list. Invisibility is replaced with mirror image on his second level list. He wields a Major Deep Shard Rapier. He also possesses the psychic blades (+2d6 up to three times) and words of terror abilities from the College of Whispers. CLOWNFORCE9 uses his first round of combat to cast mirror image, then gleefully joins in battle.

CLOWNFORCE9 is a terrifying presence. He wears white make-up in the design of a skull on his face. His red-dyed, spiked hair is reminiscent of blood. His bardic magic manifests as bloody spectral spikes that pierce the hearts and ears of those he engages with in combat.

The Acolyte SIMPath is a lovingly devout follower of his leader. In combat, he casts Bless on CLOWNFORCE9, himself and Bluet, then saves his healing spells for his leader.

Bluet is a special agent of Synthread sent to monitor CLOWNFORCE9 and Killz4LULZ. A Drow of Wiltroot, Bluet has grown sick at heart for the fall of the once vital forest into corruption and undeath. Her work with the maniacal leader of Killz4LULZ, who glories only in terror and death, has added to her malaise. Though she has dutifully served Synthread and given no sign of her deeper regrets, Bluet is searching for an opportunity to escape. If the players attack Killz4LULZ, Bluet moves out with CLOWNFORCE9 and SIMPath. She then uses her movement to shift closer to the players even as she turns to cast Faerie Fire on a large cluster of Killz4LULZ members.

If Bluet survives, she can provide a wealth of information to the players. She is a former resident of Wiltroot. She witnessed the forest’s fall into corruption as Doomshallow intensified his mining efforts. She knows about the Creeping Death — that it is caused by passage along Yggdrasil’s roots. And she knows that the undeath comes from Yggdrasil’s roots plunging down into Lake Niflheim and drawing their death-tainted waters up with them as they expand up through the lower regions of the Ginnungagap.

Treasure: A war chest contains 351 gold, 113 silver, a topaz worth 150 gold and a sapphire worth 150 gold. Among the treasure is also a crystal needle filled with a glowing reddish ink and set with a backing shaped like a heart. This magical needle is a Lifewell Tattoo. When attuned, the needle scribes an intricate heart-shaped tattoo about the size of a fist on an area of skin chosen by the player.

16. The Confused Dead

A Yggdrasil root belches a pool of darkness into this chamber. Within the darkness, you hear the shuffling feet of various undead. As you watch, two zombies, one Drow, one human, lurch from the darkness toward you. The looks on their faces displays momentary confusion. The Drow is clothed in the regalia of Svartalfheim, the human has Killz4LULZ painted across the remnants of a hide armor breastplate.

This room contains two Zombies, two Skeletons, and one Shadow. They are Drow and members of Killz4LULZ banished here after contracting the Creeping Death. They await Synthread’s summons — as Synthread is able to command undead created by this terrible disease. As recently transformed undead, they act sluggishly and have disadvantage on any initiative rolls. However, like most undead, they will attack the living. Drow and Killz4LULZ members thus avoid this chamber as they wait for Synthread to assert her control.

17. Root Gate to Losaelfar

An unnatural growth of glowing grass and moss casts dim illumination about this chamber. Two large Yggdrasil roots grow from the southwest wall. A pall of darkness blankets the area between them. Within the darkness, a swarm of winking yellow lights drift. You recognize the area between the Yggdrasil roots as a gateway. Perhaps it leads to Svartalfheim. Perhaps elsewhere.

Two Needle Blights, Two Drow, a Meenlock and a Sword Wraith Warrior named Valanthis guard this gateway. Valanthis was once a Drow. But he has succumbed to the Creeping Death and transformed into an undead after numerous journeys along Yggdrasil’s tainted roots. He is now charged by Synthread to guard the root gate leading to chambers beneath Losaelfar. As with Nidavellir, a combination of Drow from Wiltroot and Killz4LULZ members have also established a foothold beneath Losaelfar. There they prey on players where safe zones fail and when the opportunity arises. Each Drow carries a Minor Deep Shard Short Sword. The Meenlock and the Twig Blights hold Deep Shards in their mouths. Valanthis wields a Major Deep Shard Longsword.

Treasure: In addition to the various Deep Shard items, the monsters drop 4 platinum, 22 gold and 42 silver if they are slain.

18. Flumph Philosophy

Wafts of metallic stench rise from the floor’s unnatural growths as you approach this chamber. Up ahead, the fungus and lichen rise up in a veritable garden. As you come closer to this profusion, the foul air suddenly clears. Floating within the rich fungus is a plate-like creature. Two eye stalks sprout from its shiny, gelatinous body. Beneath it wave at least twenty blue tendrils. The creature seems to exude emotion. As it drifts forward, you feel equal parts kindness and curiosity wafting out from it.

The creature, of course, is a Flumph named Delfina. Delfina has occupied this cavern since the game’s commencement. It is a kind creature who has developed a deep sympathy for the players’ plight. Stuck here among Drow and PKers she does her best to be a good listener. Though she is horrified by Killz4LULZ penchant for violence and by the Drow’s own ambitions to invade Midgard, she does her best to blunt their darkest passions. Though she is mostly unsuccessful, neither group views her as a threat. Since she is a good listener, members of each group often come into the soothing airs of this chamber to unburden their thoughts.

Delfina’s favorite visitor, however, was Peter Smith. A captive of Killz4LULZ, Peter convinced CLOWNFORCE9 that he wanted to be a full member of the PKer guild. Peter wasn’t telling the truth, though. He just wanted free reign to wander about in the Drow section of The Chambers of Grief. Peter had glimpsed the Drow Queen Wiltroot from afar. Her look of profound sadness beguiled him. Ever since, he sought for a way to journey to her. He procured a Minor Dark Shard Item and joined the ranks of Killz4LULZ. Though he never killed another player, Peter was not proud of his time with the griefer guild. After ten days, he slipped off into Synthread’s domain and made his way to Svartalfheim through Wiltroot’s Tree Tangle.

Peter often came to visit Delfina. So the Flumph knows much of his story. He also shared his plans with her to enter Svartalfheim. Delfina worries terribly over the fate of her friend. Delfina knows that Wiltroot is almost certain death. Even if conflicted, she represents a mortal threat to Peter. Once Delphina is able to suss out the players, she confesses her worry to them and asks them to venture to Svartalfheim to find and save Peter (resulting in the new Quest Alert — Find and Save Peter Smith!!).

Delfina is also able to provide the players with general information about Synthread and the Drow. She tells them that they have Meenlock, Twig Blight, and Mad Dwarf (Redcap) servants. She also tells them that some of the Drow have ‘gone undead’ due to exposure to Yggdrasil’s tainted roots. If the players ask her about the roots, she tells them that the taint of undeath they bear is due to them dredging up the oily liquids of Lake Niflheim.

19, 20 and 21 Captain Xyndar’s Anvil of Darkness

A Sword Wraith Warrior by the name of Captain Xyndar commands a group of six Drow in area 19. Each Drow is equipped with a Minor Deep Shard Short Sword. Captain Xyndar holds a Major Deep Shard Rapier. In addition, these Drow and Captain Xyndar have each received the Blossom of Dark Eyes blessing from Wiltroot. This gift creates a black rose petal growth around their eyes and allows them to see in magical darkness.

Captain Xyndar keeps two Drow on constant alert near the passage intersection. If the Drow sense intruders, they signal to Xyndar who immediately sends a warning to Synthread through the Yggdrasil root shadows on the chamber’s southeast end. Synthread then alerts the four Meenlocks in area 20 and 21 (two in each area). Each Meenlock in these areas holds a Deep Shard in its mouth and has also received the Blossom of Dark Eyes blessing.

Once the alert has been sent, three Drow each cast Darkness. The other three Drow and Xyndar attack — using the Darkness as cover and to gain advantage. On round 2, the other three Drow cast Darkness. Meanwhile, the Meenlocks from area 21 rush down the Yggdrasil root shadows to area 19 by round 2. The Meenlocks from area 20 scamper down the corridor toward the invaders.

If the players defeat this ambush, it is almost certain that Synthread has now been put on high alert and is ready for the player’s approach. Depending on the situation, she may order a further sortie from her forces in area 22, 23, and 24. If Xyndar is able to, he will retreat through the root shadows to area 23. From there, he will help to coordinate Synthread’s defense and counter-attacks.

Treasure: Captain Xyndar has a silk purse that contains 25 platinum pieces. The remaining Drow keep 27 gold and 72 silver.

22, 23, and 24 Synthread’s Lair

This area is Synthread’s lair beneath Mio Elysse from which she sends her Drow spies, coordinates with her PKer allies, and works with Wiltroot to plan a larger invasion of Midgard. If the players do not defeat Synthread here, she will constitute a large and dangerous force to invade Midgard’s cities and safe zones. Defeating her will severely hamper Wiltroot’s invasion. However, she will still be able to use her other bases beneath Nidavellir and Losaelfar to mount smaller invasions. The main threat, if the players succeed here, will come from Shadowmaw and Goblin Town during chapter 4 of this adventure series.

The entire floor of Synthread’s lair is covered with a thin growth of corrupted plants drinking from the deathly liquids of Lake Niflheim. These plants grow without sunlight, emit their own ghostly glow, and exude a foul metallic stench. The ghostly glow they emit provides dim light in areas 22, 23, and 24.

Areas of Yggdrasil roots here serve as Synthread’s eyes and paths. She can see through any Yggdrasil root shadows and travel through them instantly as if passing into adjacent terrain.

Battle map for Synthread’s Lair

Area 22 holds a garrison of four Drow led by a Redcap named Skullstomp. Originally a Duergar in the service of Doomshallow, Skullstomp was among a group of shrunken dwarves who migrated to Wiltroot after being rejected by Soria. Over the years, they’ve taken on fey aspects, transforming into Redcaps. Skullstomp has worked with Synthread for many years and has secured her confidence. If attacked, he orders two Drow forward while the second two cast faerie fire. He then wades into battle with reckless abandon.

Each Drow holds a Minor Deep Shard Shortsword.

Treasure: The Drow drop 7 platinum, 23 gold, and 12 silver. Skullstomp carries a sack holding a peridot, an amethyst and a topaz. The peridot and amethyst are each worth 50 gold. The topaz is worth 100 gold.

Area 23 is dominated by Synthread’s teleportation circle — a magical link to her Killz4LULZ allies. Members of Killz4LULZ may have fled here if the party attacked the Killz4LULZ guild hall in areas 13, 14, and 15. All Killz4LULZ members have added this teleportation circle’s address to their teleport crystals. If they do teleport in, wounded members of Killz4LULZ will receive aid in the form of cure wounds from PUTynFASCION and THudFLUFFER.

This location is commanded by a Drow Druid named Bluebark. Bluebark uses the Druid stat block but also possesses a Drow’s innate darkvision and spellcasting. Bluebark commands two Drow and two Acolytes from Killz4LULZ named PUTynFASCION and THudFLUFFER. If attacked, she pivots to provide support for Synthread by attempting to flank and/or lock down players as they attack.

Each Drow holds a Minor Deep Shard Shortsword. The Acolytes wield Minor Deep Shard Maces. The Drow Druid holds a Minor Deep Shard Scimitar.

Treasure: The Drow Druid holds a rose quartz worth 100 gold. The Drow have 3 platinum and 5 gold between them.

Area 24 is dominated by Synthread’s Tree, Yggdrasil root shadows, a tangled wall of thorns springing up from the unnatural floor growth, and a gateway to Svartalfheim at the tree’s base. The following flavor text sets the scene:

A massive tree covered in oily bark and sprouting leaves dripping with a toxic substance grows in the corner of this large chamber. At its base, Yggdrasil roots spill shadows. Near the southwest corner, a root gateway to another realm spills both darkness and flickering light. Around the tree runs a hedge of thick thorns bulging with Yggdrasil root shadows. Within the tree is a large spider and dark-elf hybrid. She stares balefully down at you with red eyes that seem to bloom out of black rose petals.

Squares containing thorny vines are difficult terrain to players. In addition, any player walking through a thorny vine square takes 1d4 damage per 5 feet as they are lashed by these dark and spikey growths. Two areas of darkness spread by Yggdrasil roots within the thorns contain a Meenlock. Two Vine Blights (Monster Manual, 32) also inhabit this growth. These monsters advance to try to entangle and constrict any players who approach Synthread’s Tree. The vines ignore Drow, Vine Blights, Meenlocks, Synthread and her other allies.

A Yggdrasil root gateway to the Tangle Tree in Svartalfheim’s Wiltroot forest is in Synthread’s Tree’s southeast corner. It is guarded by two Drow. The gateway leads directly to Wiltroot Forest. But it cannot be accessed by players unless they have held a Deep Shard item for ten days or more. Each Drow holds a Minor Deep Shard Scimitar.

Synthread’s Tree rises fifty feet to the chamber’s ceiling. From her perch on the Tree, Synthread can easily observe all of area 23 and 24 while commanding her followers by telepathy. Synthread is a Drider with the following exceptions. Synthread has received the Blossom of Dark Eyes blessing from Wiltroot — allowing her to see in magical darkness. She can communicate telepathically with any creature of Svartalfheim who stands on the toxic growth of Wiltroot blanketing this chamber. She can use a bonus action to teleport to any square filled by a Yggdrasil root shadow. Synthread wields a Major Deep Shard Longsword. At the first sign of trouble — likely coming from a player incursion into area 22 — Synthread casts darkness on her sword. She then uses the Yggdrasil root shadows to teleport around her lair to hit the players where they are most vulnerable or to fire arrows at them from brambles in front of her tree in an attempt to lure them there. Synthread will have used the Yggdrasil root shadows to spy on the players in advance of any assault on her lair to assess their capabilities. If she senses any weaknesses in the party’s cohesion through her ability to detect thoughts, she attempts to exploit these to sow fear and doubt during the battle.

Treasure: A root at the base of Synthread’s tree creates a bowl in which she keeps her treasure. Here is 55 platinum and 101 gold, two diamonds worth 250 gold each, and a scimitar scabbarded in black leather woven with spider silk (150 gold value). The scimitar is a dormant legendary item named Moonscythe (See Appendix) — a special magical silvered weapon.

APPENDIX

This module includes one new magic item in the form of Moonscythe.

Magic Items

Moonscythe (Legendary, Weapon, Dormant)

This item appears to be a mithral scimitar etched with three elfish runes. When drawn in anger or self-defense, the runes flare with pearlescence, creating an area of dim light in a 20 foot radius. All creatures within the radius of this light, including the wielder, have advantage on death saving throws.

Moonscythe is a +1 silvered weapon at present. Otherwise, it acts as a Moon Sickle.

Gish Optimized 5 — The Draconic Battle Sorcerer, Glede of Gloaming

Wow! It’s already time for another Gish Optimized episode. The time when we take a break from all our creative projects for a bit of D&D character optimization fun!

During our last three episodes, the Hexblade-Fighter, the classic Fighter-Mage, and the Cleric-Sorcerer, we explored three builds that each took a 1-3 level dip in a second class. For our newest bit of 5e Dungeons and Dragons character construction fun, we’re harkening back to a pure single-classed gish build. But unlike the stab and smite dexadin, this new draconic sorceress build is pretty heavy on the blast.

Glede of Gloaming

As a model for the draconic battle sorceress, I’m drawing heavily on Glede of Gloaming in the Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign series DM’d by Ted Burgess (YouTube list of live play episodes here). Storywise, Glede’s a punker street girl from the subdivision of Gloaming in Waterdeep. Her mother Aethelhorne, a golden dragon, married a Paladin of Bahamut named Rydan Redcrest. She lived her life with Rydan in human form and produced Glede as their only child. Aethelhorne met tragedy at the hands of Zhentarim dragon slayers and treasure hunters. They gained no profit from this murder as Aethelhorne had already donated her treasures to benefit the poor of Waterdeep. Aethelhorne’s loss drove Rydan into depression. Seeking drink as his only solace, he soon became an invalid and unfit guardian for Glede. Glede, still a child, turned to the streets of Waterdeep as a member of the Good Rats gang. Retaining the draconic blood of her mother and exhibiting its power as sorcery, Glede scraped out a living for herself and her father on the rough streets of Waterdeep.

Though human, Glede is covered in a thin patina of barely visible white-golden scales. Her hair is also-white-gold. Twin draconic horns sprout from her head. Her draconic eyes hint of the powerful flames she is able to conjure.

Glede’s Token from Rime of the Frostmaiden

Of course, you will probably wish to devise your own story for your battle sorcerer/sorceress. I simply provide Glede here as an example and to showcase how I’m setting up this character build in RP.

As an overview, our battle sorceress gish will have relatively high armor class values, she’ll possess cleric-range hit points, and she’ll wield some martial weapons to provide her with various melee opportunities in addition to possessing a powerful suite of blast spells. Though her primary strength is blast magic and area of effect, she’ll combine feats with sorcerer features and spells to enhance her abilities as a melee combatant.

Level 1 — Charisma, Dexterity, Constitution, Weapon Master, Variant Human, Draconic Sorcerer

OK! So let’s jump right in to our character build starting with ability scores! We’ll be taking Sorcerer all the way to level 20 so there’s little surprise regarding our starting stat. You guessed it, we’ll be going ahead and dumping 9 points, using the point buy system, into Charisma. This gives us a 15 in our primary spellcasting stat right from jump and before applying any racial modifiers. That’s pretty key as we’ll be throwing down a lot spells. These will primarily be blast spells, powerful single target attacks, and powerful defensive buffs. Charisma’s a cornerstone to all this magical might. It also helps us make friends and build alliances through our battle sorceress’s winning personality. We can also be a bit tricksy, given our high Deception skill.

Moving quickly on to our other main stat, we go ahead and dump 9 more points into Dexterity. This gives us a 15 Dex before we add any ability bonuses from Human. And we’re going to need it as we look to the rapier for most of our melee attacks barring access to some potent belts of strength or gauntlets of ogre power. It’s worth noting that Dexterity is also pretty key for us as we attempt to gain higher AC values — helping us wade into melee with confidence.

For our third stat, we pick Constitution. We’re going to want to be tough enough to stand near the front and take some heat in battle. Con also helps us with those crucial concentration checks. And we’re going to be concentrating on spells rather often. For starters, we dump 5 points into Constitution, giving us a 13.

After spending most of our points on Cha, Dex, and Con, we only have 4 points left for Str, Int, and Wis. I’m partial to having higher Intelligence and Wisdom. So I’m putting two points in each for 10 Intelligence and 10 Wisdom. Our Strength becomes a dump stat at 8.

We’ve got our base ability scores for our battle sorceress set. So now we move onto race. Though we could go elf or half-elf, I’m relatively partial to human for this build. For me, it provides the flavor I’m looking for. Elf or Half Elf will give similar options — particularly by gaining access to Elfin Weapon Training. So if you prefer to go fey for your battle sorceress — have at!

Human grants us a number of key benefits. As a variant, we gain an extra skill proficiency. We also gain a feat. For this feat, I’m taking the half-feat Weapon Master. This feat allows us to increase our Dexterity or Strength by 1. With Str as a dump stat, we go ahead and bump Dexterity up to 16. The feat also gives us proficiency in four martial weapons of our choice. I’m choosing the rapier, the longsword, and the greatsword for melee weapons and the longbow for a ranged option. These choices give us a good mix. We’ll primarily focus on the rapier. But longsword and greatsword grant us access to strength-based weapons should we find a belt or a set of magical gauntlets to bump our strength up. Depending on campaign, you may want to ask you DM for a switch. For example, Glede has a laser rifle in Frostmaiden. That’s a nice thing to have, particularly when combined with Haste and Quicken Spellcasting (see below).

Human Variant also gives us two +1s to add to any of our starting abilities. We go ahead and assign these to Constitution and Charisma. Now our full starting array is Str 8, Con 14, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 16. Solid! We’re tough, fast, and we’ve got Charisma!

Class… What can we say about it??? What we say is we’re going Draconic Sorcerer and never looking back! From jump, this class and subclass combo gives us some amazing abilities. We pick golden dragon subtype because it fits our RP flavor and it’s just made up of frigging awesome. Starting with our draconic features, we gain a scaley skin that grants us a 13 base AC plus our Dexterity modifier for a total of 16 AC unarmored. Nice! For cantrips, we take Firebolt, Greenflame Blade, Light and Booming Blade. For level 1 spells we pick Shield and Magic Missile. We’re light on AOE right now. But that changes pretty fast as we level up. Draconic also gives us +1 to hit points so we start out with 9. The combination of 16 AC, 9 HP, and the ability to cast Shield makes us surprisingly tough at level 1 for a caster. Once we gain access to a rapier, we’re pretty happy to wade into melee and spam Greenflame Blade attacks all over the place. But be careful. We’re not a barbarian. So don’t get over zealous.

For starting equipment, we take a dagger or two, pick up an arcane focus, and get a kit with a hammer and some pitons. We’ll want to buy a rapier as soon as possible. If we can swing a rapier purchase with starting resources, even better.

Greenflame Blade is a very effective melee attack in the hands of a draconic sorcerer with fire affinity and quicken spell. Image by WoldyBoldy.

For our battle sorceress, I’m moving away from Strixhaven backgrounds. I understand there’s some controversy in the community over balance RE Strixhaven. So I’m going to steer clear for this build. I went ahead and picked up Urchin for my Glede RP persona — which provides cool flavor and some nice features. But that’s not core to the build so feel free to pick what you like.

Level 2 — Thunderwave, Sorcery Points

We were pretty tough at level 1. We get a bit tougher by level 2 even as we add some blast to our sorcerer mojo. Our HP jumps to 16 — which is just 2 behind a cleric with the same attributes. We now also have 3 first level spell slots to our name. Picking up Thunderwave gives us some much-needed blasts. Between Shield, Magic Missile, and Thunderwave we have a spell option for most battle occasions at level 2. Sorcery Points also give us the ability to effectively cast 4 level 1 spells each day. Not too shabby. By level 2 we’ve probably picked up a rapier and possibly even a longbow. It’s worth noting that this build is as fun to play as it is simple and compact. And there’s a kind of elegance in that simplicity.

Level 3 — Metamagic, Shatter, Retraining Thunderwave to Absorb Elements

By level 3, we’re starting to really access our battle sorcerer mojo. We got 2 Sorcery Points at level 2. By level 3, these increase to 3. We also now gain the wonderful thing that is Metamagic. For our battle sorceress we’re looking for two things — added power to our blasts and action economy. So as our Metamagic options we pick Quicken Spell and Empower Spell. A lot of folks pick Twin Spell in addition to Quicken. This is also an amazing option. However, we’re looking to boost damage from our blasts so we’re taking Empower instead. It’s worth noting that empower is also low-cost compared to Twin — which can really burn through your Sorcery points quick. Now with Quicken Spell we gain access to a mini NOVA comparable to the Fighter’s Action Surge. At this point, we’re only able to use Quicken once per day. But with it we can do things like cast Shatter for 13.5 damage as a bonus action, then cast Greenflame Blade for 1d8+3 or 7.5 damage with our rapier. That totals 21 or 25.5 on a crit against a single target, 13.5 for the Shatter +3 for the splash damage from Greenflame Blade for 16.5 on a second target, and another 13.5 damage on maybe one or two other targets. In addition, we can empower Shatter to boost that damage even further. Not too shabby! We already mentioned Shatter — which we take for our level 2 spell slot. Now we have big blasts, some of the best defensive spells in the game at low level, action economy, the ability to boost our blast damage, and a little focus fire. We’re sitting pretty.

Level 4 — Misty Step and 18 Dexterity

At level 4 we boost our Dexterity to 18. This bumps our base armor class to 17 even as we jump to +4 to hit and damage with our rapier attacks. When we trigger the Shield spell our AC boosts all the way to 22. Our defenses aren’t as high as a bladesinger, for example. But our hit points are now 30 — four ahead of the bladesinger base at this level of 26. To this point, we may have also used Sorcerous Versatility to retrain Magic Missile to False Life — granting us access to temporary hit points for increased durability. Regardless, we also trade out Thunderwave for Absorb Elements. For our spell choice, we pick Misty Step for the added mobility. We’re going to want to save our 3 level 2 spell slots for Shatters. But if we need to teleport out of the maw of some nasty beast, across a deadly obstacle course, or out of a trap, the option is open to us.

Level 5 — Fireball!

As we reach level 5, we gain access to some substantial benefits. First, Greenflame Blade boosts our melee attacks to 2d8+4 damage together with a potential 1d8+3 splash damage. With Quicken Spell, we can make this attack again using our bonus action. Our hit points are now 37 — so we continue to be a rather tough caster. But the big boost for this level comes with our access to Fireball. With two spell slots and our sorcery points, we can now cast this powerful spell three times. It’s worth noting that some campaigns will feature monsters with fire resistance at this level. So your mileage may vary. But for most campaigns, when you combine sorcery points, Empower Spell metamagic, and Fireball, you’re one of the most potent blasters in the game at this level. Meanwhile, your melee capability is a solid backup to your blasting specialty.

Level 6 — Haste and Elemental Affinity

At level 6, we pick up Haste. This spell provides another powerful boost to our melee capability. Particularly if we’ve picked up a magical rapier or various strength items together with a magical greatsword. We also gain Elemental Affinity — which now adds 3 fire damage from our Charisma modifier to our fire attacks thanks to our gold dragon ancestry. Now our Fireball and Greenflame Blade attacks are even more potent. Together with Haste and Quicken Spell, we’ve also gained access to a spell+melee NOVA combination. To achieve this NOVA, we cast Haste on round 1. Then on round 2, we cast Fireball using Quicken Spell, with our attack action we cast Greenflame Blade, and then with our Hasted action we attack with our rapier. Against a single target failing its Fireball save, we do 8d6+3+2d8+7+1d8+4 damage for a total average of 54.5. If Greenflame Blade crits, this average boosts to 63.5. On a second target, we do 8d6+3+1d8+3 from Fireball and then from the splash damage applied by Greenflame Blade for a total average of 37.5 damage if the target fails its Fireball save. Not to mention the other targets you just did 30.5 average damage to from Fireball. A rather potent NOVA round that we can further enhance through Empower Spell. Elemental Affinity also gives us resistance to fire damage for a sorcery point — which is a nice added rider to all the wonderful benefits we’ve gained thus far.

Level 7 — Sickening Radiance

By level 7, we now access more choices. Thus far, we’ve relied on elemental damage — particularly fire damage — for our blast effects. For fall-back, we’ve taken Shatter, Booming Blade and, to a lesser extent, Magic Missile (if we didn’t retrain Magic Missile to False Life). Now, with access to 4th level spells, we choose the long-lasting Sickening Radiance. Accessing radiant damage through this spell is a key enabler for us against various resistant foes. It also gives us a large area denial effect. For the most part, though, we continue to rely on Haste and Fireball. But if faced with a horde of fire resistant foes or an immune big bad, we now have a fall-back that we can maintain over multiple combat rounds.

Level 8 — Fireshield, 18 Charisma, Counterspell

Level 8 gives another ASI. We immediately use it to dump 2 points into Charisma — boosting our key spellcasting stat to 18. Now we deal +4 damage with our fire spells and our spell save DCs boost to 15. This ability bump grants both our Fireball and Greenflame Blade attacks some extra juice. We also pick up Fireshield both for its long duration reactive 2d8 fire or cold damage and for fire or cold resistance. Combined with Shield, Elemental Affinity, and Absorb Elements, Fire Shield adds to significant suite of defensive magic. We can also now concurrently deploy three energy resistance options. Our hit points are also a cleric-range 58 without magical supports. Last of all, we’re going to retrain Magic Missile or False Life for Counterspell — keeping the ability to shut down enemy magic in our back pocket.

Level 9 — Summon Draconic Spirit

Accessing 5th level spells as we reach our 9th character level, we choose the amazing Summon Draconic Spirit. This spell grants us the ability to summon a powerful spirit dragon. It has 50 hit points, it’s large, possesses a fly speed of 60, has blindsight, is capable of delivering two melee attacks and a breath weapon attack, and it has a 19 AC when cast at 5th level. We must concentrate on this spell. However, so long as we concentrate, it lasts for a full hour. For my Glede RP persona, this draconic spirit will emulate her mother — Aethelhorne. Our draconic spirit grants us some pretty amazing consistent damage in the form of 2d6+18 from its dual rend attacks plus 2d6 from its 30 foot cone breath weapon. If we attack with Greenflame Blade, we’re adding 2d8+8 and 1d8+4 splash damage to a second target. It’s a potent combo that delivers 49 damage to a single target, 15.5 damage to a secondary target and 7 points of damage to numerous creatures in a zone. If we quicken a level 4 fireball into this set, we deal 83.5 damage to a single target (92.5 damage on a crit), 50 damage to a secondary target and 41.5 damage to multiple additional targets caught in the overlapping zones from fireball and dragon breath.

Summon Draconic Spirit conjures the mighty spirit of a dragon to join you in battle. Image source: Spell Rankings for Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.

Level 10 — Transmuted Spell, Cone of Cold

With level 10 comes another Metamagic choice. And boy do we love Transmuted Spell which allows us to change our non-fire spells into devastating flaming conflagrations. On our present list, we can now change Shatter to a 3d8+4 (17.5 average on a failed save) 10 foot radius blast of flame. Transmuted Spell also allows us to switch our Fireballs for balls of Thunder, Lightning, Cold or Acid if we run into one of the many enemies resistant or immune to fire damage. Transmuted Spell comes at the perfect level for us to pick Cone of Cold for our spell list. This huge, 60-foot cone deals 8d8 cold damage to creatures caught in its freezing blast wave. Transmuted to fire, our draconic battle sorceress deals an extra +4 fire damage for an average of 40.5 fire damage to foes in this cone of devastation.

Level 11 — Chain Lightning, Increased Cantrip Damage

By level 11 our cantrips again bump up in power. Now, our Greenflame Blade rapier attacks deal 3d8+8 damage to a single target (21.5) and splash 2d8+4 (13) damage to a secondary target. With Quicken Spell, we can double that. Level 11 also gives us level 6 spells. We pick up Chain Lightning for 12d6 lightning damage (40.5) against up to five targets. Transmuting this to fire bumps the multi-target damage on a failed save to 44.5. Of course, we might just want to up-cast Summon Draconic Spirit to level 6. Doing that, we gain a 60 HP, 20 AC dragon with three rend attacks that each average 13.5 damage on a hit (40.5) and the ability to breathe for an additional 7 average damage to multiple targets. Quickening a transmuted Cone of Cold on top of these dragon attacks and casting Greenflame Blade with our action deals 81+21.5+7 for 110 damage to a single target target that fails all three saves, 123 damage on a crit. A secondary target takes 40.5+7+13 or 60.5 damage from the two AOEs and the splash damage from Greenflame Blade. Other targets in the overlapping Cone of Cold (fire) and dragon breath take 47.5 damage on a failed save. A notably strong single target NOVA overlapping a pretty devastating blast.

Level 12 — Elemental Adept

We waited a long time to ignore resistance to fire damage. As level 12 rolls around, we finally address this chink in our AOE devastation by picking up Elemental Adept — Fire as a feat. Now all 1’s count as 2’s on spells’ fire damage dice. In addition, yep, you guessed it, we ignore fire resistance when casting Fireball, transmuted Cones of Cold, Shatters, and Chain Lightnings. Even our humble Greenflame Blade attacks now ignore fire resistance. Rolls of 1s counting as 2s also increases our average damage. The aforementioned Greenflame Blade now averages 22.5 damage netting +1. Fireballs cast at level 3 do 36 rather than 32. A fire-transmuted Cone of Cold does 44 average damage instead of 40. The mighty fire-transmuted Chain Lightning averages 52 instead of 46. If our dragon spirit breathes fire, it now adds an overlapping AOE to these blasts that increases damage by 8 (12 on the first shot due to the sorcerer Elemental Affinity ability) on a failed save (instead of 7). We can further bump these high averages by using Empower Spell metamagic. Our suite of blasts now deliver consistent devastation against foes. Meanwhile, Transmuted Spell and Elemental Adept allows us to circumvent or overcome most enemy resistances.

Level 13 — Draconic Transformation

Our AOEs just got a big boost at level 12. They’re taking another jump now as we pick up Draconic Transformation at Level 13. Another concentration spell, this powerful magical buff grants us aspects of a dragon overlapping our present physical form. We gain blindsight. We sprout wings and gain a fly speed of 60 feet. Even better, though, we can now use a bonus action to breathe a 60 foot cone of magical force that deals 6d8 damage. On the round we use a bonus action to cast this spell, we breathe our cone for 27 average damage, then we use our action to attack with Greenflame Blade for 22.5 average damage for 49.5 damage to a single target, 40 damage to a secondary target, and 27 damage to multiple targets if they fail their save. A concentration spell, this effect primarily enables our blasts, however. On a subsequent round, we might cast a fire-transmuted Cone of Cold (44 average) on top of the force blast as a bonus action (27 average) for a total of 71 average on two failed saves within these overlapping 60 foot cones. Dropping an fire-transmuted Chain Lightning nets 79 damage. Even casting the now somewhat ‘humble’ Fireball into such an over-lapping zone averages 63 damage on a failed save. Draconic Transformation thus gives us a means to provide a major consistent boost to our larger AOEs. On the flip side, Summon Draconic Spirit is still the king of focus fire for our battle sorceress.

Level 14, 15, 16 — Dragon Wings, Sun Burst, 20 Charisma

Between Draconic Transformation and Summon Draconic Spirit, we have multiple means of accessing flight. Now, at level 14, we can sprout Dragon Wings for non-spell source flying at our base movement speed. This innate feature is welcome as we remove concentration-based dependence on flying. Plus we don’t need to worry about armor restrictions as we continue to rely on our Dexterity and draconic scales for our AC.

Level 15 grants us access 8th level spells. We pick up Sun Burst for its huge radius and ability to blind our enemies. However, we’ve got some competition for our 8th level spell slot as Summon Draconic Spirit gives us an 80 HP, 22 AC dragon capable of making four melee attacks at 15.5 damage each for a total of 70 damage when adding in its breath weapon. With Greenflame Blade active, we deal 92.5 damage to a single target, 22 damage to a secondary target and 8 damage to multiple targets on a failed save. Quickening a fire-transmuted Chain Lightning into this mix and critting with the Greenflame Blade nets us 107 + 52 for 159 against a single target, 74 damage against a secondary target, and 60 against multiple targets if saves fail. Brutal!

At level 16 we bump our Charisma to 20. This further increases our save DCs, adds more damage to our fire-based spell attacks, and helps us with our RP mojo even more. Greenflame Blade now does 14.5+9 for 23.5 damage without magic item support and all our fiery bursts just got that much more potent.

Level 17-20 Meteor Swarm, Distant Spell, Draconic Presence, 20 Dexterity, and Sorcerous Restoration

Hitting level 17, we access Meteor Swarm. This is an extraordinarly powerful AOE. In our hands, it’s even more devastating — doing an average of 155 damage on a failed save (vs 140 for a ‘normal’ casting). If we Empower Meteor Swarm, we might average 160 or more on a failed save. We also pick up another meta magic ability. I’m partial to Distant Spell at this level. Distant Counterspell, for example, is a clutch way to shut down enemy spellcasters at 65 to 90 feet away while outranging their own Counterspell options. In addition, we’re keeping to our theme of low cost meta-magic so we can continue to throw down powerful enhancements to our spells over longer periods of time.

Level 18 gives us Draconic Presence. Mass fear or charm can be extremely useful given the situation. But it costs us 5 sorcery points and our concentration, which makes it less useful. At level 19 we max out our Dexterity at 20. Our Greenflame Blade attacks now do an average of 29.5 and splashes for 20 damage without magic item support. Finally, level 20 brings us Sorcerous Restoration — which means we get 4 sorcery points back on a short rest. Now we’re gonna have to work pretty hard to burn all those meta-magic points!

Though our battle sorceress is a capable melee combatant, her main strength is laying down powerful fiery blasts. Image source: Pintrest.

For a final tally, let’s provide some examples of focus fire and AOE NOVAs. For focus fire, we Summon Draconic Spirit at level 8 for a total of 70 average damage from rend and breath weapon. We quicken and empower Meteor Swarm for 160. Then we use our regular action to cast Greenflame Blade for 29.5. This nets us 259.5 average damage assuming failed saves and 279 on a crit — without magic item support. For our AOE NOVA, we simply apply our Draconic Transformation on round 1, then cast an empowered Meteor Swarm on round 2. Now we do 187 average damage to multiple targets on a failed save. Though it’s worth noting that with Draconic Spirit, and the above focus fire NOVA we’re still doing 168 to multiple targets. So not a huge difference.

Turning to mostly melee, Glede is a pretty simple striker at high levels. For most optimal, long duration melee fights, Glede will conjure her mother’s Draconic Spirit Aethelhorne. Riding this large summons into battle, Glede will attack with Greenflame Blade for 29.5 damage — often twice with Quicken Spell for 29.5-59 average damage. Her Draconic spirit summons will deal an additional 62 damage if all attacks land plus 8 from breath weapon. This combination does 99.5-129 damage to a single target if all attacks land. Very solid.

We’ve talked a lot about damage — and well we should considering that this build focuses heavily on blasting the enemy to smithereens while laying waste with our Greenflame Blade — but let’s finish off by looking a bit at our battle sorceress’s survivability. By level 20, without magic item support, we have a solid 142 Hit Points, a base AC of 18 which jumps to 23 with Shield, and the ability to access numerous resistances. For mobility we have access to three forms of flight, one form comes from our very own set of dragon wings which we can unfurl without the use of a spell. We keep Misty Step for teleporting. But at level 19, for added versatility, we likely retrain one of our spells for Wish and another for Teleport. Our core, though, is blasting with a hefty side of Greenflame Blade bashing. And for consistent blasts, this build is probably our best so far.

Our Battle Sorceress Build is Now Complete!

So that finalizes our battle sorceress. For my part, the Glede of Gloaming build is one of my favorites. It might not have the options and higher pure power potential of our classic Fighter-Mage — Gaelya the Ghost. It’s not as tough as our Hexblade-Fighter — Beatrice Lushael. And Glede isn’t so single target NOVA-focused as our Dexadin — Morgen Schnee. But for consistently throwing down powerful blasts while also retaining the ability to melee like a champ, it’s tough to beat good ol’ Glede. I’ve played her through three different campaign series now and she never disappoints. Plus, her happy-go-lucky nature despite a tragic background makes her a very enjoyable character to play. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of this build as I have! If you want to watch Glede in action, you can join me on Twitch Saturdays about once every three weeks for our Rime of the Frostmaiden game. Or you can check out our livestream archive here.

Battlestorm Online Ragnarök — Livestream Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Play, Character Profiles and Video Archive

This blog contains an archive of live-streaming games for the Battlestorm Online, Ragnarök campaign. It also introduces you to the heroes of Ragnarök — Slade, Amuriel, Agmundr, Justice, Nerium, and Sanna. Ragnarök is part of the larger Battlestorm Online (BSO) game. A campaign played as a virtual reality death trap in a Dungeons and Dragons MMO, BSO Ragnarök is GM’d by myself and originally streams on Twitch through Ted Burgess’s profile.

Within this world, Ted and I are co-GMing two separate Battlestorm Online games. Ted’s game — Valhalla — follows the main story arc and occurs weekly on most Thursday nights between 9:30 PM and midnight EST. The game I’m running — Ragnarök — is a follow-on but equally critical storyline. It will livestream on Friday nights 1-2 times per month. A separate Valhalla archive of streaming games along with character profiles is here.

Adventure Opening Story

Our heroes log into Battlestorm Online only to find that they are trapped! Their Ghost Gear is rigged to emit rapid flashes of light that trigger brain aneurisms for those wearing this deadly gear if they die in-game, if they try to log out, or if someone tampers with their headgear. All gamers are thus trapped and forced to defeat the challenges laid out in the virtual fantasy world of Valhalla. If their avatars die while fighting monsters in Valhalla or exploring its hazardous environment, the Ghost Gear sends out its vicious strobe and kills their real bodies.

The players are not initially aware of their predicament until a few hundred unfortunates — who attempt to log out, have their avatars slain by monsters, or have their Ghost Gear tampered with — are instantly killed. The game’s psychotic-genius creator, Gema Masuta, then makes an announcement to every player, explaining their situation and the stakes involved. Players are trapped until they win the game or are killed. If the final boss monster in the last dungeon is slain, then the game is won and all the players are freed. From that point forward, adventures in Valhalla take on a dire edge.

Rather than join the forces of adventurers on the front lines, the characters of Ragnarök are initially reluctant. For whatever reason, they are unwilling to risk their lives as adventurers. For a month, they spend time becoming vital members of communities within Home Towns, doing what they can to contribute to the game-win effort indirectly. However… events soon catch up to them as the safety of all players within BSO starts to fall under threat.

Character Profiles

What follows are the character profiles for Slade, Amuriel, Justice, Nerium, and Sanna. Presently these heroes are all level one. The party has only just completed its first adventure and is still trying to suss out the shifting threats of the Battlestorm Online world.

Agmundr — is a Human Twilight Cleric in-game. Run and conceived by Eric, Agmundr keeps to the shadows during roleplay to disguise his true nature and intent. He has, however, taken more of a shine to the other players after experiencing a few adventures with them. A powerful healer and spell wielder, Agmundr acts boldly in combat by stepping up to help when his companions are in trouble.

Agmundr’s Token

In real life, Agmundr’s player is Kevin Larson — a 35 year old park ranger who’s been diagnosed with terminal melanoma.

Until he was diagnosed, Kevin worked as a park ranger at the Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. Reserved and quietly intense, Kevin’s eyes reveal a deep, emotional intelligence. A man of few words, but many thoughts, he enjoys the contemplation and solitude afforded by his work as a park ranger. Kevin was never deeply religious, but, if pressed, would describe himself as spiritual.

Throughout his life, Kevin lived in peace with nature. He befriended animals — fellows he would often see taken by the natural circle of life. These deaths disturbed and saddened him. Though he accepted such partings as an innate working of the world, he never fully pondered his own mortality. That is, until he was diagnosed with stage III melanoma. With a 50% chance that he’d succumb to the cancer within 5 years, he was now staring what had once seemed an abstract cycle of life and death directly in the face.

It’d gotten personal in the most real way imaginable. For the first time in his life, Kevin was angry. He raged at the god/gods/deities. He didn’t care which, what, or who. Kevin was consumed by an emotion he’d never felt before — hate.

The diagnosis came 2 years before BSO. As the years passed, Kevin meandered his way through the stages of grief sometimes stumbling backward but mostly moving forward. He began to live again; camping, fishing, and hiking as often as possible – against doctor’s orders, of course.

Kevin finally accepted himself in that circle of life and death he’d witnessed so many time in the past. He pondered the transition he’d likely make in the near future. At last, he’d made his peace. That’s when the cancer started metastasizing again, even through the seemingly constant rounds of chemo, and Kevin was told that he would need to undergo a serious and very dangerous round of surgeries. It seemed he faced a choice. One more battle, or acceptance and peace.

After embracing his likely impending transition to death, Kevin was hesitant to go forward with the proposed treatment. However, his parents were not ready let him go. They pleaded with Kevin to accept the surgery and risky follow-on treatments. Feeling a great debt to his parents who’d stood by him his entire life, Kevin at last agreed.

As Kevin lay on the cold, hard hospital bed preparing himself for the anesthetic from which he was not sure he’d awake, his doctor and friend of two grueling years presented Kevin with a gift. Instead of the usual anesthesia, Kevin’s doctor offered Kevin a spot in the new and very exclusive BSO game! The VR gear would block Kevin’s nerves effectively acting as an anesthetic and Kevin would not lose consciousness during the procedure – unless something went wrong, of course. Swayed by the promise of running through woods and fields of wildflowers during the procedure, Kevin agreed and logged in.

Amuriel — is an Aasimar Conquest Paladin in-game. Run and conceived by Niki, Amuriel is a tough tank front liner who focuses on melee attacks while wielding a shield. Also an off-healer, Amuriel isn’t shy to help her team mates. In roleplay, Amuriel takes on the role of a kind, grandmotherly figure. A stark contrast to her character’s imposing avatar.

Amuriel’s Token

In real life, the person behind Amuril is Muriel Lebowitz — an 89 year old retiree presently living in Bocan Raton, FL who’s enjoying her golden years with her husband Eustice (see Justice below). She fell in love with Eustice long ago in her New Jersey hometown at Hoboken High School. Following graduation, Muriel received an early childhood education degree at NYU while Eustice fought in the Vietnam War. She married Eustice when the Vietnam War ended. Eustice got a job pouring concrete then started his own business in the trade ten years later. During this time, Muriel had four children, taught the 4th grade, and wrote a mildly popular modern teen fantasy series set in New Jersey. Some of her titles included: “Hobgoblin in Hoboken,” “Triton in Trenton,” and “Kraken Attack in Hackensack.” In total, Muriel’s career lasted for 40 years before a happy retirement.

Muriel and her husband never had much interest in electronic games or RPGs. However, they were avid fantasy buffs — with bookshelves filled with the likes of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, and R.A. Salvatore. So when one of their many grandchildren handed them a copy of BSO — offering them a chance to spend the last of their golden years in a heroic video game based on the setting they so deeply and passionately loved — they jumped.

For Muriel, there was some confusion during the character creation process. When Muriel was asked her name, she responded “Uh, Muriel” which the game’s character creation engine recognized as Amuriel.

Justice Cleverwits — played by Greg, is a Wood Elf Drake Warden Ranger in-game. Both a melee and a ranged threat, he really leaned into the front-liner role during the first session. This is quite generous. But it also shines a light on the fact that the party includes a lot of squishy-types. Like Amuriel, Justice takes on a mentor role during RP and gives off an bit of an Obi-Wan vibe.

Justice’s Token

In real life, Justice is Eustice Lebowitz — aged 91 years. Eustice now lives with his wife in Boca Raton, FL after spending much of his life in Hoboken, NJ. Eustice fell in love with is high-school sweetheart Muriel. But the Vietnam War intervened to separate them. While she went to college at NYU, he served in a combat engineers company. Justice survived the ordeal, returned to the states, and married the love of his life. A hard worker, he started out after the war pouring concrete. The anti-war sentiment of the time spilling over onto the troops didn’t bother him. “People sometimes have their fears exploited. It’s not about me,” he said at the time. In just ten years, he’d earned enough to start his own concrete company and stood at its helm for 35 years until his retirement. In the intervening time, he and Muriel ended up with four children whom they love dearly. Now, in retirement, Eustice’s joy is enhanced by his numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

An avid fantasy reader, Eustice spent much of his retirement enfolded in many books both new and old. When one of his young scions introduced Eustice to Battlestorm Online, he was enthralled by the notion of spending the rest of his days as one of the fantasy heroes he so deeply admired.

Like Muriel, the name generation engine ended up mangling Eustice Lebowitz’s name — turning it into Justice Cleverwits. Eustice finds this new moniker to be surprisingly appropriate.

Nerium Senicle — is a Yuan-ti Pureblood College of Lore Bard in-game. Played by Chauncey, Nerium uses his broad base of skills and magics to enable his friends, uncover various mysteries, and foil his enemies. Nerium has a well known affinity for snakes and is one of the few players who has a good working relationship with snake NPCs. Also a former teacher, Nerium has taken on the role of helping other players develop their skills.

Nerium’s Token

In real life, Nerium is James De La Cuesta, Age 35. He hails from Boston, Massachusetts.

A professor of Conservational and Wildlife Biology, James is obsessed with poisonous plants and venomous snakes. Highly regarded if rather eccentric, James is well-known for frequently exhorting his students to become herpetologists (those who study reptiles and amphibians). One day, after giving what would become a famous lecture on the under-utilization of medicinal plants, a group of students blind-sided him by recommending he play the new BSO game.

James had oft spoken nostalgically of his youthful forays into Latin America to research venomous snakes. Alas, during his final project, he was bitten by a tiger snake — resulting in a debilitating leg amputation. Even worse, this trauma triggered a phobia that kept him from venturing into the field thereafter. James never lost his love for the research, though. When his students confronted him with the odd notion of fulfilling his lost passion for researching snakes in BSO, it grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go.

James found himself compelled to explore the new VR world and all its wonders. But he was worried the experience could lead him back to the dark times following the snake bite incident. Losing his ability to walk was a nightmare. Adjusting to a new existence of endless physical therapy and learning to live with a prosthetic leg nearly ruined him. It was finally his students, who formed a helpful online support network, that tipped him over the edge and into BSO. With their help, James could maintain a positive mental state while also overcoming his IRL limitations.

The game afforded James a number of surprising options. He chose the Yuan-ti race for their poison immunity and ability to befriend snakes. The bard class’s ability to focus on lore and its diverse skills mirrored his own deep knowledge IRL. However, the bard’s jack of trades nature provided extra appeal. A professor’s life is often so narrow — focused on just one field but sacrificing a wealth of generalization. His new life in-the-making instead offered a little bit of everything.

The resulting month-long confinement in BSO was oddly liberating — granting the freedom James as Nerium had always longed for. James was enabled to pursue his passion for research, with a touch of magic in his back-pocket. He filled his days by venturing out near safe zones to gather herbs, to speak with his beloved snakes, and to search for that perfect someone. A snake companion. Neri, as he’s called in-game, is now well-known for his numerous snake associations. The herbs, meanwhile, earn a little money the game’s markets. Though Neri/James mainly gives the helpful herbs to his student-players at break-even prices. Meanwhile, he never really left teaching. Moonlighting as an in-game trainer, he helps players learn nature, history, perception, and other helpful skills — occasionally treating them to one of his famous lectures.

Before his most recent adventure, Neri spent what free time he had listening to the latest gossip at inns, tea houses, and coffee shops. Now, he finds himself well-informed as he takes on a new passion for adventure. One that, thus far, has overcome his fears.

Sanaa — is a Rock Gnome Artificer in-game played by Ravi. A conjurer various cool tricks, Sanaa is a cunning combatant. Outside of combat, she has quite the bag o’ options to help the party with exploration, investigation, and making new arcane discoveries. Sanaa has her own special goal in-game. She seeks a person important to her who’s recently been lost, possibly kidnapped as a result of the invasions coming from Svartalfheim.

Sanaa’s Token

In real life, Sanaa is Emily Hooper. She resides in Columbus, Ohio and is presently a Computer Science student at MIT. Emily is 21.

Since age 5, Emily wanted only one thing — to be an inventor. Yet, for reasons unknown, her skill seemed to lag behind her enthusiasm. Despite all the great ideas she had, bringing them into the physical world never worked. They either couldn’t get off the ground, like her leggo buildings crashing down in mid-construction. Or they’d go everywhere but the ground, like her automated soda dispenser that led to very sticky walls and ceilings.

Sadly, her ideas didn’t help her get along with other kids in the neighborhood and at school. Either put off by her eagerness to try a new experiment, or afraid of disastrous results, any child who tried hanging out with Emily withdrew after a couple playdates. An only child, Emily’s malfunctioning contraptions ended up as her only friends. So she led a lonely, if intellectually rich, childhood.

Events came to a head around the 9th grade. Emily was attempting to make a house-cleaning robot out of old car-parts, discarded motion sensors, and a butane-powered propeller. The result was a catastrophic explosion and that burned down half the garage. The fire then leapt to the neighbor’s house before it was at last put out. If not for her father (one of the best carpenters on the coast) and mother (the mayor’s head of PR with incredible diplomatic skills), the repercussions could have been ugly. Emily’s parents had always been supportive of their daughters drive to invent and innovate. They now figured a different tack was needed. Not wanting to stifle her desire to learn, they bought Emily a computer and a beginner’s guide to programming. Emily was happy enough to explore this new avenue of invention, where the materials were logical concepts rather than physical pieces. Everyone was relieved. Now, her experiments would only be a source of chaos for the VMs of her personal cyberspace.

At back of her mind, however, Emily never forgot the frustration of failing to bring the ideas in her head to the material world. By the time Emily graduated high school, she had become a skilled programmer, and enrolled in MIT. Academically, she was a star. Social life was still… challenging. The lack of peers growing up made it difficult to interact with fellow students. Feeling awkward outside the virtual environment, Emily instead immersed herself in schoolwork and games.

Then, in her sophomore year, Emily stumbled into the world of hacking when she discovered a website exploit while browsing the internet. To Emily, this discover opened up a whole new world of possibility. Unlike others, Emily didn’t become a hacker for malicious or selfish reasons. Instead, hacking became a wondrous new avenue for exploration. If an occasional hack gave her a bonus item in a game, no biggie. It was around the same time she met Peter Smith, a fellow comp sci major who transferred from NYU. Despite Emily’s shyness, the two became friends. Peter introduced Emily to the graphic novel series The Gaslamp Saga. Gaslamp depicted a world run by Sparks — mad-scientist-style savants with globe-spanning ambitions. Emily quickly fell in love with the series. The heroine of the story, Sanaa, had a history similar to hers: — a struggling inventor since childhood. But what truly drew Emily in was how Sanaa later overcame her hurdles, both within and without, to become one of the setting’s greatest Sparks. Gaslamp relit the old flame of invention in Emily’s mind.

Emily was thrilled to receive an invitation to join the deep-dive VR world of BSO. Having a passing familiarity with D&D, she was intrigued by the fantasy version of the inventor: the Artificer. A chance to combine her dual loves of programming and inventing in a reality that felt like the real world? It was a dream come true!

Now that the dream has become a nightmare, Emily will need to harness all her knowledge in programming, hacking, and inventing to survive this deadly adventure. Only fitting that her avatar is based on a girl who has five deadly adventures before breakfast: Sanaa, the Gnome Genius!

(This character is inspired by Girl Genius, which Ravi loves. Check out this amazing web comic series here!)

Slayde — run by Ted, is a High Elf Order of Scribes Wizard. In combat, Slayde provides a lot of the arcane oomph. A versatile generalist, Slayde can often find the right tool for the job. Out of combat, Slayde lends his expertise and considerable innate knowledge.

Slayde’s Token

In real life, Sladye is Enzo — an interpreter for the US Department of State, fluent in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and ASL.

Eighteen months before logging in to BSO, Slayde’s wife, Jane, tragically passed. He now survives with his daughter — Sofia — who attends NYU. While Sofia continues to live with Enzo, coming home to crash or scarfing down a hurried breakfast, she’s mostly away from home.

Enzo took up playing MMOs to help pass the time and assuage his loneliness. More recently, he started playing D&D in AL when invited by a co-worker. He hadn’t played D&D since 2nd edition during his time in the Navy. When BSO was announced, it was the spell-casting system that really caught his attention. Actively using your hands and spoken words to cast spells really intrigued him. So, logically, he chose the Wizard class.

Stuck on picking a name after choosing to be a high elf, he’d considered Merlin and Gandalf but expected they’d be denied. Instead, he went with a variation of a more obscure reference from an anime he loved back when he first started playing D&D — Slayde.

A month into the game, Enzo spends most of his time in the Grand Guild Hall where he’s been interviewing players about quests, events, maps, and dungeon details to help create guides for other players. With the tales he’s heard describing the game world’s dangers, he’s been timid about going anywhere outside the safe zones. At game start, he’s not yet met the other party members.

Episodes

Episode 1 — Ominous Signs Before the Breach I. In this episode, our heroes uncover a startling mystery as a strange new star comes to light in the night sky above Midgard.

Episode 2 — Ominous Signs Before the Breach II. In this episode, our heroes learn more about Mio Elysse’s shrinking safe zones. Then, venturing to Yggdrasil, they discover what’s happening to Midgard’s missing monsters.

Episode 3 — Astrid’s Prophecy. Undertaking a perilous journey through the Winter Wood, hunted by Skoll and Hati, our heroes attempt to reach Astrid and learn her prophecy.

Episode 4 — the Chambers of Grief Part 1. Returning empowered with the knowledge of prophecy, our heroes move to confront Killz4LULZ in the Chambers of Grief.

Last Notes

For now, we conclude our gaming archive and related character profiles for Battlestorm Online — Ragnarök. Return for updates and new video archives occurring about 1-2 times a month. Also, I’ll be updating our character profiles when the situation warrants.

If you’re interested in using our campaign materials for your own games take a look at the Battlestorm Online Player’s Guide and our fourteen original Battlestorm Online Backgrounds. In addition, the first module is now available for free here. I’ll be posting more Game Master materials for this campaign over the coming weeks which you’ll be able to find in the Gaming Studio.

Thank you for stopping by!

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