In the 2nd introduction to our Adventures in Middle-Earth campaign we join an elf on parol deep in the southern reached of Mirkwood.
Our friend Joelle Mellon wrote a short story for a contest sponsored by winetourismspain.com. It is about some strange creatures from another world who stumble upon Earth and have a close encounter with Spanish wine. I thought it was funny, and she wanted to share it with our readers. So, without further ado:
Aliens of La Mancha
Glog had been piloting his ship all night, but reluctantly, he pressed the navigation stick steadily down to the floor, causing the craft to land.
“Are we finally home?” his wife demanded, “We only have one bottle of Ikoe left!”
He knew they should have packed more. Glog and Xemvahr derived all of their nourishment from alcohol-based beverages, just as plants photosynthesize sunlight.
“I’m afraid not, dear,” he ventured, timidly.
“I told you to let the ship drive itself, but would you listen?” she demanded, “Where in Drahkt’s name are we?”
“According to the navigation module,” he said, squinting, “We seem to be on — Earth. Specifically, Spain. Even more specifically — La Mancha.”
“Why does that sound so familiar?”
“Not sure,” Glog replied, “Something from intergalactic broadcast?”
“That’s it!” she exclaimed, “The film from that Earth director with all the bright colors, remember?”
“Oooh, yes,” her huband agreed, “Almodovar.”
“Almodovar,” the ship’s computer repeated in a monotone, thinking that the shouted name had been a request for entertainment. Almost instantly, it queued up Volver and began playing it on a screen.
“We know there’s alcohol here, anyhow,” she said, “Let’s go find some.”
Xemvahr, ever the more practical of the two, took the precaution of strapping the last bottle of Ikoe to her belt, in case they didn’t find anything suitable to drink soon. At the push of a button, the ship’s hatch opened, and the two aliens ventured out into the night. She led them toward an area where the most lights seemed to still be twinkling, assuming that would be their best chance at finding some drinks. Soon, they came to a friendly looking cafe with the words,
“La Fabula” emblazoned over the door in silver script. Several tables had been set outside on the sidewalk. Hurrying over to one of them, they zeroed in on two half-full bottles of wine, which had been mysteriously abandoned by their owners.
“Tempranillo,” Glog read aloud.
Tipping the bottle into his mouth, he was filled with a sense of unabashed pleasure as the wine warmed and filled his translucent body. Almost immediately, he turned a deep shade of burgundy red. If just a mouthful was this much more nutritionally efficient that Ikoe, he realized, what remained in these two bottles would keep them going for weeks.
“Malvar,” his wife pronounced, reading her label.
She swallowed, and a pale golden color suffused her, almost seeming to make her glow with happiness. After a moment, however, an expression of concern settled over her features.
“We don’t have any local currency,” she said.
An hour later, one of the cafe employees came outside to bring the tables in for the night. Much to his surprise, he saw that a full bottle of some exotic blue liqueur had been left behind.
“Hey,” he called back into the restaurant, “I think Manuel’s been ordering some weird stuff again. Want to try it?”
To find out more about the competition and explore the idea of Spanish wine tourism, be sure to check out: Winetourismspain.com
One of the first magical items seen in the Harry Potter series, and certainly the loudest, is Hagrid’s enchanted motorbike. Hagrid has always been one of my favorite character from the books, and the thought of creating a version of his bike that could work in a D&D game amused me to no end.
Wondrous Item, Unique
Originally belonging to Sirius Black it was passed on to Rubeus Hagrid after the deaths of Lily and James Potter. This enchanted enchanted motorbike is capable of flying over long distances at great speed. It was later modified to include defensive measures meant to aid in the escort of Harry Potter during The Second Wizard War.
Normally the enchanted motorbike has a flying movement of 150 ft., and a ground movement of 75 ft.
The headlight is capable of producing bright light directly in front of itself for a distance of 50 ft.
One weakness of the enchanted motorbike is that it is extremely loud and easy to track magically. Characters attempting to make a Dexterity (Stealth) check while using the enchanted motorbike have disadvantage and suffer a -10 penalty to their roll. Spells rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks made to attempt to track the motorbike’s movement have advantage.
The traps and defenses added to the enchanted motorbike make it far more powerful, but each can only be used once per day. The motorbike regains the use of these powers after 24 hours.
Net: Loaded with an enchanted net that is expelled from the exhaust pipe it functions much the same as a Muggle net, but is propelled magically. See pg. 148 of The Player’s Handbook for rules on nets.
Brick Wall: Functioning similarly to the spell Wall of Stone the Enchanted Motorbike expels a solid brick wall directly in the path of an oncoming pursuer. This version of the spell has the benefit of requiring no components, or concentration to be maintained. Once the wall is created it remains present unless destroyed. See pg. 287 of The Player’s Handbook for the full explanation of the spell.
Dragon Fire: A line of flame erupts from the exhaust pipe sending the Enchanted Motorbike rocketing forward, effectively doubling its movement speed for one round. The range of the line is 100 ft., any creature standing directly in the path of the line must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed saving throw the hit creatures take 10d10 fire damage, on a successful saving throw they take half damage.
Speed 150 mph
Damage Threshold 10
-An account from the personal papers of Laurlias Appleborn XVI, bard of some acclaim, and slayer of the demonic harpist of Lion’s Share, thank you very much.
A very special inn nestled on a bustling main street, at a glance the building stands out among the neighboring structures. Tall and spindly-looking the roof splits into a trio of steeples and a small army of chimneys that belch forth smoke day and night. Large windows of multicolored enchanted glass display scenes of battle, heroism, and the news of the day moving as though they were alive. The more looking respectable shopfronts surrounding the inn make it look even more unworldly and out of place.
Tearing your eyes from the steeples and the wondrous shards of glass though and you’ll find the entryway standing open night and day. Wrought from solid gold, but with the appearance of wood the archway cut into the edifice glows dimly permeating warmth and comfort to all.
On any day you’ll find a crowd gathered outside, held at bay by lengths of chain stretched between iron poles along the street. A thick thread of red rope, the inn’s namesake, is drawn across the open archway. You’ll also spot a 12 foot tall legless golem bestride a mechanical wheelchair. Carved from white stone trace with sigils and runes that glow hot pink the golem lurks outside keeping a wary eye on the crowds, and barring passage to anyone attempting to make their way inside. Woe betide anyone who thinks they’re clever enough or fast enough to slip past the golem.
Precious few souls ever set foot indoors though, for only those lucky few whose names appear on The List will be allowed entry. At a glance it might appear to be nothing more than a bit of rolled parchment, but as with many things it is more than it appears to be. Each name on the list belongs to a great living hero, or at least one destined to rise to the uppermost heights of fame and adventure. The document will accept no ink, and any quill set to it immediately burst into flames. Each day the names change, some remaining in place, while others are added or removed.
When someone is lucky enough to be allowed passage they’ll almost always find themselves besieged by the onlookers waiting outside. Desperate souls, representatives dispatched at the behest of governing bodies from around the world, sycophants, fortune seekers, autograph hunters, and all manner of people find reason to wait outside. The golem keeps the throngs at bay and the heroes pass through the entry way, music sounding as they do. The type of music is always different.Sometimes long blasts of a hunting horn ring out, for others the stringing of a harp, in at least one case a somber melody made up of a twelve piece orchestra flooded the street for a full hour.
Immediately within one will see the grand chamber, the central room that welcomes everyone. A stone hearth blazes brightly with a large fire encircled by twenty or so small wooden tables. Armchairs, stools, and benches rest against the wall beneath a large window on the first floor. (At last inspection the window portrayed Hela daughter of No-Man arm-wrestling the troll chief Lurug Speartooth.) Upon approaching one of the tables a seat appropriate to the size and preferences of the occupant will soar across the floor settling itself beneath them. The grand chamber does not want for decoration. Tapestries and portraits hang in abundance.
Playing host to the world’s greatest heroes who are in need of a safe place to rest their heads, the comfort of a warm hearth, a good meal, or a night of frivolity is a nightly affair for the innkeeper. Barra Beararms was an adventurer in her younger days, she spent many nights beneath the roof of The Red Rope, and after years of wandering one evening she chose to remain. Innkeeper, retired hero, and landlady all rolled into one. She greets everyone who entering her inn personally and sees to their needs, doing the work of twelve herself.
Food and drink flow from the kitchens into the grand room and special orders are never a cause for concern. Don’t try to find your way into the kitchen to filch a midnight snack however, no one’s ever been able to find it. Once you’ve been filled to bursting Barra will deposit a key to your room and shove you upstairs to your bed.
The main stair leading up to the high floors is an avalanche of a staircase, a massive and imposing lumberyard nailed together from polished dark wood. Numerous scholars, academics, and tricksters have tried to puzzle out the mystery of this staircase for years without success. You see there are at least seven stories to The Red Rope, eight if you count the attic rooms, but the stair will deliver anyone climbing it immediately to whatever floor their room is on.
Each room in the inn is large, and well furnished with an odd assortment of comfortable oddities. Without exception everyone who spends a night in the Red Rope professes it to e the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had. Aside from the rooms the inn boasts a number of other amenities including: a fully-stocked alchemical laboratory, a working forge, a sauna, a heated bath, an extensive library with books on almost every subject, a map room boasting a spinning globe the size of a carriage, an archery range, a hedge maze and indoor garden, a tomb for the honored dead, a dock with at least two ships, an open air aviary, a courtyard with extensive footpaths, and more privies than anyone has a right to.
When the time comes to leave, the heroes all settle the tab in the same way. They leave something dear to them behind for safekeeping. Barra displays these items proudly telling tales of the heroes who dined in her halls and sought the comfort of her inn. Once in a while someone will point out an item and she’ll grow quiet before returning to the task of running the inn.
If one was of a mind to seek the comfort of The Red Rope I would do so without delay, but be certain it is what you want. More than one mercenary or war hero has had their hopes dashed as they barred entry and left standing in the streets outside. I was shocked enough when I entered, in truth I’d never heard of the inn. Barra explained the whole business to me while I feasted on the finest blackberry pie I’ve ever eaten.
Edit: I updated the range of the Lasso of Truth on the advice of a few folks. Sorry if people are disappointed. You can always adjust it as you see fit in your own game.
A few days ago I saw a short clip of Wonder Woman using The Lasso of Truth in her upcoming movie. Wonder Woman has some of the coolest gear in all of the superhero world! She has an invisible jet (I think it is great and I don’t care what anyone else has to say on the matter), bracelets that can deflect bullets, a variety of Amazonian weapons, an of course a magical lasso capable of forcing anyone to tell the truth. After seeing the video I immediately wanted to create a Dungeons & Dragons version of it.
Creating it was a bit difficult though, I mean this is an item forged by a literal god and used by one of the most powerful heroes in all of history. I took a look at the Rope of Entanglement in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, but that just wouldn’t do so I went back to the drawing board.
I know some people will say it is too powerful, but you know what? In my mind it SHOULD be super powerful. Anyway I hope some people like this, and maybe it will find a home in some D&D games.
The Lasso of Truth
Legendary item (requires attunement)
This Lasso of Truth is infinitely long extending itself as the user wishes, but only weighing 15 pounds. Any creature bound by Lasso of Truth is compelled to speak only the truth, and will answer any questions imposed on it to the best of its ability. If you hold one end of The Lasso of Truth you can make an attack using your Dexterity, on a hit the target is restrained by it. The effective range of the Lasso of Truth is 80 ft./160ft. As an action you can extend the rope an additional 15 feet.
You can release the creature by using a bonus action. A target restrained by the rope can use an action to make a DC 25 Strength or Dexterity check (the target’s choice). On a success, the creature is no longer restrained by the rope. As an action you can also fling a bound target dealing 2d12 + your Strength modifier bludgeoning damage.
Creatures vulnerable to radiant damage are incapacitated while bound by The Lasso of Truth.
Forged by Hephaestus himself he Lasso of Truth is unbreakable, only a true denial of the truth or a god/goddess of deception might prove capable of destroying it.
The Lasso of Truth provides bright light source in a 5 foot vicinity.
The Cloak of Levitation
Armor (cloth armor), wondrous
Securely displayed within The Sanctum in New York City even the current Sorcerer Supreme could not win over this fickle artifact.
While wearing The Cloak of Levitation gain a flight speed of 45 ft. You also increase your AC by +3 and you have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
Confounding Cloth. The Cloak of Levitation can bind itself around an enemy blinding them quite effectively. It is capable of making an attack with a +5 bonus to hit, on a hit the target is blinded and takes 1d6+1 bludgeoning damage. This is not counted as an action for the player character wearing it. A target may attempt to escape by making a Dexterity or Strength saving throw with a DC of 16 as an action.
Freedom of Movement. The Cloak of Levitation is able to move of its own accord. It has a flying movement speed of 30 ft. when it is not being worn.
Sentience. The Cloak of Levitation is a sentient chaotic good item with an Intelligence score of 16, a Wisdom score of 14, Charisma 18. It has hearing and normal vision out to a range of 60 ft. The Cloak of Levitation does not speak , but it understands many languages and it communicates through simple gestures.
Personality. Described by the Sorcerer Supreme as a fickle thing The Cloak of Levitation accepts no wearer lightly, but it is fiercely loyal and protective when it does allow someone to don it. However it remains willful and is not above dragging a resistant sorcerer like an errant apprentice.
The Cloak of Levitation’s primary purpose is to serve and protect its wearer, even risking its own destruction without a second thought. It will however, sometimes decide on the best course for serving a sorcerer without consulting them.
This is the first installment in what I hope will be an ongoing series on the new Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game from Evil Hat Productions. Please note, these articles are meant to serve as helpful tips for players who are trying to improve their gameplay, or who’re are hoping to make gameplay a bit easier. I will be posting an actual review of the game as a podcast on Sunday March 12, 2017 though so please keep an eye out for it if you’re interested.
Before jumping into the tips I do want to offer a warning, there will be spoilers contained in these articles. If you haven’t read The Dresden Files books and you care about maintaining secrecy than please, stop reading now.
So you’ve purchased your copy of the core game and maybe a couple of the expansions, and you’ve played a couple of games, maybe by yourself or with a group of players. One of the first things you’ll have to learn to tackle are the obstacles. Obstacles vary greatly from book to both in the actual effects they bring to table and the number you’ll have to overcome. Ranging from one to three they’re often going to hinder your progress if not bring it to a complete halt.
For example Lunar Cycle from Fool Moon prevents hits from being added to either of the Loup Garou foes. This will protect the most powerful enemies in this book.
Meanwhile Harry Captured from Death Masks prevents Harry from Attacking or Investigating. Since every game uses Harry Dresden this effectively prevents him from helping the players move towards their primary goals.
Remember this is a cooperative game so all of the players need to work together if they’re going to have any chance at winning. One of the first things you should be doing is looking at the obstacles in play and seeing how they interact with the the foes and cases. Determine if the obstacle is a major hurdle or just an inconvenience, although in most situations you’re group will probably want to prioritize getting rid of the obstacle as soon as possible.
Harry’s Talent for moving obstacles and advantages around is one key strategy to bypassing these problematic hurdles. It allows him to move far away obstacles to a more advantageous position in the row is important in that it helps minimize the cost for getting rid of them. All of the characters have abilities that allow them to remove obstacles, but some are better at it than others.
Thomas Raith’s card Family Power allows to overcome all of the obstacles in 1 row for 5 fate points. This is perfect given the wealth and prestige of the White Court Vampires with the Raith family. (In one instance we see his sister Lara Raith arrange an airlift by the U.S. Navy.) Now a cost of 5 fate points is nothing to laugh at, but if multiple obstacles happen to fall in the same row, especially n a game with 2-3 obstacles Thomas can wipe them out in a single go. Again, you have to weigh the cost and consider the opportunities carefully. In a game with only one obstacle in player this is almost certainly too high of a cost to pay.
Every character has a 1 range ability to overcome obstacles costing a single fate point. These pair very well with Harry’s ability to move the obstacles around when he discards for fate points. This of course means in many of your games you’ll have a chance at overcoming obstacles for a minimum cost. This strategy only works if you can get the obstacle where you need it to be and when you need it to be there.
Many characters have an ability with a variable fate cost or a variable range. A few of those cards have a fixed cost and range, which comes in handy. The variable cost cards are…not great. These should only be used in a moment of most dire need as they’re usually better for generating some much needed fate points. Besides t is so hard to be cool when you have to borrow your parent’s cars or you’re driving around in a beetle held together by the will of an underpaid wizard and duct tape.
Molly Carpenter’s card Borrow the Family Minivan is an example of one of these less optimal cards. As we can see it can eat up to five of your precious fate points, but it has a fixed range of 3.
Some characters like Sanya have attacks that allow them to overcome obstacles while adding hits. There aren’t too many of these cards so it is a great boon if you happen to get one. Since you can’t always count on a Knight of the Cross swooping into save the day these shouldn’t be counted on, if you happen to get one though you’re certainly going to want to use it. In general any cards that let you do more than one thing are going to be very helpful.
In short my tips are figure out what the obstacles are doing to your early on and then prioritize them. In most games you’re going to want to get rid of them straight away. Use Harry’s talent to move the obstacles around to help position them so that they can be overcome for a minimum cost if possible. If you have variable cards they should only be used when absolutely needed. Special cards like Family Power and Esperacchius are fantastic when the circumstances support them. Hopefully this helps everyone with getting over obstacles. I still think we need a Harry card that says “When a player overcomes an obstacle if Harry’s player shouts ‘Parkour” get x number of fate points.” Don’t judge me.
I do not own the Dresden Files and all of the art for this article was created by Tyler Walpole and Christian Mcgrath