Sunday, September 25, 2016

Roper Treats and more from Game Day!

Well after a long 2-3 week wait, it was once again time for game day today.  We had a great session, and I'd tell you more of our adventures, but I'm only up to episode 5 and have a lot more to share with you all before I'll get to today's story.

More important, of course, were the treats for today's game day.  Today we had Roper Cupcakes . . . a tribute to the Roper Madness of last week.

It's a somewhat complicated treat, but so worth it for the reaction.

Step 1: drill four holes in the sugar cone, two on each side of the cone.

Step 2: String Watermelon Twizzler pull-apart licorice through the holes for arms.

Step 3: roll out fondant icing and cut circles for the base of the eyes.

Step 4: Put a mini-chocolate chip in the eye as a cornea (pointy end into fondant).

Step 5: Melt white chocolate chips in a bowl, dip a fork in, and scrape it across the cone to create a yummy, yet gaping, mouth.

Step 6: Plunk ontop of a cupcake.

Step 7: When you serve it, consider having a side of ice cream so you can single scoop into the ice cream cone. It picks up the frosting on the rim and makes for and excellent bite.  Eat it quick though since there are holes drilled into the cones. :)


The other treat we served today was a mozzarella roll.

Very easy to make . . . you buy a bag of Rhodes frozen rolls. Let them rise for a couple of hours, snip open the middle and put 1/3 of a mozzarella stick inside and form the roll around the mozzarella (you can add a pepperoni as well).  Rise for one more hour, then smear the top of the roll with garlic butter before cooking at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Serve with a side of marinara sauce.

It's an easy game day snack that feeds the whole crew.

Love that elf!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

When Last We Left Our Heroes . . . (Episode 5)

The inside of the tree was dusty, and (in my mind) the interior glowed with an eerie blue light (whether that’s what actually happened or not).  It appeared to be much like standard living quarters, just uninhabited for many many years.  Somewhere under that think layer of dust and vines was a mirror, a bed, a table, and a nightstand.

Melancholy approached the center of the room and called out. Avantador had a hard time not being near the door or crawling up the walls, but tried to appear non-threatening . . . I’m sure he looked a bit like a husband spider about to be eaten by a Black Window.

Suddenly a screeching voice cried out, “WHO ARE YOU AND WHY DO YOU DISTURB ME?!”

Melancholy, not knowing or caring that a Banshee could destroy our pitiful level 2 selves in one swipe, simply struck up a conversation and cheerfully talked about how we were on a quest and wanted some information for a very pretty lady who lives back in Phandalin. "She asked us to ask you a question about the original owner of this mysterious spell book, and LOOK she gave us this very pretty and valuable comb to give to you in exchange . . ." *innocent Tiefling smiles* (Although "innocent Tiefling" seems an oxymoron, with Melancholy that's very plausible.)

The Banshee was quite impressed with this comb. She looked it over and said she’s be more than happy to make that exchange for us. (Avantador was still climbing the walls mentally and just wanted to get the heck out of there as fast as possible)


Melancholy restated the question, and the Banshee let us know the name we were looking for (I honestly can't remember -- I'll have to poke the DM next time I see him.)

The Banshee wailed out “NOW LEAVE ME TO MY PEACE!”

“Um thank you! You’re really nice!”


. . . and that was it.  We had our information and a kind of new banshee friend . . . kind of.

On our way back to Sister Graele, we spied a run down tower on a hill and a tent nearby.  We needed to camp for the night and decided to approach the tent.  The only problem was that as we drew close to the camp, the smell of decay was in the air.

Sure enough, out from the tower shambled six zombies. Inching slowly toward us.

The elf pegged one right in the head, Melacholy chucked a dart, Graver threw a bolt of fire . . . and that zombie just didn’t die. *gulp*

I turned to the group and said, “Um, guys, I don’t think we can take these zombies, we should probably get out of here . . . they're moving slow enough we could . . .”

Right then, a man threw open the tent door. “What are you doing?! Can you please not try to kill my servants!”

We explained our innocence and declared our self-defense to the strange man who smelled of foreign incense.

“Well of course they were, they’re my guards!” and with a wave of his hand, the “friendly” necromancer waved off the zombies, who then shambled back toward the tower.

“Sorry, we didn’t know…”

“It’s so hard to keep these alive with adventures always traipsing through here and messing with my servants. Speaking of which, you look to be just that . . . adventurers that is.”


“We went and talked to a Banshee today and she was really nice!” blurted out Melancholy uncomfortably.

“A Banshee?! Not the Banshee in the Fey Woods?”

“Yeah, she was really nice, and she told us all about the owner of a spell book.”

“Well, I’ve not met many people that have survived a Banshee and let alone thought one was nice . . . would you like to come inside and have a cup of tea?”

. . . and there it was, Melancholy's trigger word.  Tea.  “YES!” wailed Melancholy . . . and with that, we were inside the Necromancer’s tent . . . having tea.

(to be continued)

Friday, September 23, 2016

I Am The Roper!

Ahhhh, The Roper.  I honestly had a nightmare about this thing two nights ago.  Why?  My lunchtime D&D group (it's a totally separate thing from Althea and Company) ran into a Roper and a nest of Piercers.  It was terrifying, and I had completely forgotten about these beasts.

I don't know how I could have forgotten this monstrosity.  It was right there on the bottom right corner of the cover of the old Monster Manual, and I remember reading its entry several times and just being terrified by it.


Anyway, we ran into one and I thought someone was going to get eaten.  Luckily we ran away and only one NPC was bitten.  The boat we were on got severely munched though.  It's being held together by webbing at this point.

I came home today and told the tale of how I used Tasha's Hideous Laughter on it with my Arcane Trickster and rolled a natural 20 to sever one of the tentacles with my hand crossbow . . . it was all very amazing . . . but you can bet I ran away as fast as I could to get out of the range of those terrifying tentacles. GET ME THE FREAK OUT OF THERE!

Anyway, I started chanting "I am the roper, I've come to bite you" in my head after talking with my kids (and imagining what a Roper might look like after a crazy fit of laughter), and this . . . is the result . . . I apologize in advance.

. . . at least I made my youngest laugh with the roper song. :)

Love that Elf!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When We Last Left Our Heroes . . . (episode 4)

In the morning Avantador discovered Graver in his closet. (*Successful perception check) He was none too pleased: “Listen, it doesn’t even cost that much to pay for a room . . . and we just got paid for a job!  You can afford this!” It surely fell on deaf ears.

At least Avantador was able to convince Graver to slip back out the window, so it wouldn’t look . . . uh, suspicious. (*rolls another successful athletics check) . . . and that's what he did. Graver was out the window and heading back in to the inn through the front door.

When our adventurers finally all pulled back together in the tavern. The proprietors were already serving tea to Melancholy and looking at the rest of us like . . . what’s wrong with this one? Why did she sleep here under a table? (I believe this is when the now infamous teaching moment happened with Melancholy where we went over how money worked.) 

Did I mention Althea spent the night in the forest?


After this short meeting we immediately went to Sister Garaele’s church and picked up a beautiful golden comb.  It was explained to us that there was a Banshee in the fey woods, which sat a couple days out of town.  The Banshee would take this trinket in exchange for information that Sister Garaele was seeking (something about a spell book?) . . . unless the Banshee decided to kill us first. HAHahaha! *nervous NPC laughter. 

Melancholy grabbed the comb, hugged Sister Garaele, and bolted! And we followed! And suddenly we were on the quest to talk to a Banshee! (Yup, forget the town full of red cloaks. Forget Gundrun Rockseeker.  Melancholy was on the job, and the rest of us were just trying to keep up.)

After a day’s travel it was time for us to take watches. Althea had found a so-called "great" spot for us to hole up in for the night (*failed survival check from the elf), and Graver and Avantador would take the first watch. As it turned out (*failed perception check from the night watch), a couple of wolves got the jump on Avantador and suddenly he had one stuck to his shoulder in a death-grip bite.

Avantador staggered and yelped, “Wolves!” to wake up Althea and Melancholy while retaliating to the bite by using his silver Dragonborn breath to not only freeze the wolf on his shoulder but also give the other wolf a severe case of frost-bitten hide. Graver sprung up to action and dragged his dagger through the wolf that was biting Avantador . . . and dealt a killing blow. 

The other wolf was outta there as it now realized it was outnumbered 4 to 1, even though Althea and Melancholy both woke sobbing, “Don’t hurt the puppies!” 

“BUT IT BIT ME!” yelled Avantador.

*blank uncaring stares from Althea and Melancholy at Avantador*

“. . . look who's got dinner? . . . ”

*Insert gasps of anger and sadness from the dog lovers*

(Click to enlarge)

. . . and here is where our DM grins and says, “You hear the sounds of wolf pups in the background . . . it appears you’ve slept in a wolf den.” Avantador glared at Althea and mumbled under his breath “Nice place to camp.”

The adventurers made the smart decision to now move camp for the night to well outside of the Den. The dog lovers of the group also left another full day’s rations there for the now-single-parent-wolf-with-frost-bite.

The rest of the night finished without event. Althea and Melancholy watched the other wolf return for the pups (and the free food) during the second watch and all appeared right again in the wolf den . . . minus one parent. 

. . . there was a reluctant burial for what ended up NOT being dinner in the morning . . .



The next day our adventurers ended up approaching a ridge where below there was a sad small town with the fey forest in the distance.

The next night was thankfully also spent uneventfully. (They all can't be action packed days, right? Right!)

As the group moved through the town the next day, they were approached by a strange man who asked our business there. While the most part of the group tried to be very curt in our responses, Melancholy was ready to spill the most minute details of our plan . . . including the fact that we owned a semi-precious golden comb . . . to this not-so-upstanding-looking gentleman.  Thankfully he decided not to try anything with us. (*there was definitely the sound of rolls being made by the DM here) Something about him looked off, but at least he verified the rumors of a Banshee in the woods.


As we made our way into the Fey Forest, the woods seemed to have its eyes upon us. Twisted bark seemed to grab at our feet. Darkened branches seemed to scratch at our faces. The sounds of the magical fey world chirped and whirred around us. In a word it was creepy. 

Eventually we came to a clearing with a huge gnarled tree that had a door in its trunk.  This had to be the Banshee’s home. Althea and Graver stayed outside the tree as lookouts, and Melancholy and Avantador slowly opened the door to say hello.

(to be continued . . .)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What We're Watching / Listening to for D&D

Hello readers!

I just wanted to make a quick post here that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Althea & Company other than to plug a few online D&D series that the players of our group have enjoyed over the past year or so.

1- Critical Roll. This D&D series from Geek and Sundry is probably the end-all be-all of Dungeons and Dragon playing online. There truly is nothing greater than Voice Actors playing D&D. It typically runs in 3 hour blocks on Twitch initially and then is ported over to YouTube

This one is something our DM, Jeff, likes to put on and let run in the background and is all he really needs for D&D online entertainment. Personally I can't sit still for 3 hours straight and it would be highly distracting for me to listen to at work . . . i can't quasi-pay attention to stuff like that. I need to focus.

2- YogsCast D&D High Rollers. This one is all Tessa (aka Melancholy). For a long time this was Tessa's favorite way to view D&D. And Tessa's favorite player from the group was Kim.  KIM KIM KIM all the time . . . KIM! 

3- Nerdist's Force Grey. This is a shorter series and highly edited. This one is ALL ME!  Well Jeff listened to it as well, but I loved this series and especially since the episodes were short, edited, and easily digestible. My only complaint is that it's over! This features Matthew Mercer as the DM, who you would be very familiar with if you enjoy Critical Roll.


4- Maximum Fun's Adventure Zone. Tessa jumped from High Rollers over to Adventure Zone at the recommendation of a friend.  This is a high quality podcast with tight editing and an awesome vibe. It features the McElroy brothers . . . including Justin McElroy the amazing game journalist. I've only listened to a few episodes myself, but Tessa is caught up and listened to everything they've had to offer. The word "ravenous" comes to mind when I think of how she attacked their content.

Anyway, I actually made a very rough remix of the theme song, which, come to find out, is actually Ataraxia by Mort Garson.

I may have to come back to this some day and do it justice


. . . and I believe that wraps it up for what we're currently watching / listening to when it comes to D&D Online.  If you have something you'd like to suggest, please leave it in the comments.

Love that Elf!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Character Profile: Melacholy


(I had to fight for this picture)

Class: Monk
Race: Tiefling
Background: Hermit
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Original Artifact: Bracelet made of Amethyst and Amazonite.
Backstory: Melancholy grew up in a secluded monastery, dropped off as a crying infant by an unknown guardian to be raised by the three human monks that lived there. The monastery was a place for meditation, training and exploration of self, all of which Melancholy became proficient at. The monks, however, weren't the best parents as they sheltered and babied Melancholy her entire life, not realizing that she should be experiencing the world instead of being trapped in the secluded area of the monastery. Due to the babying Melancholy never learned to control her emotions since the monks believed she should be allowed to express her emotions as she saw fit, although they tried to teach her to control it though meditation. Now she is set off into the world to explore and gain knowledge after spending her entire life sheltered. Although her emotions may be fragile, she is more than prepared to fight if need be.

Monk Teacher Backgrounds: 
Mona: Female monk teacher with light brown skin and dark hair. Taught unarmed strikes and quarter staff moves, was the most distant to Melancholy. Melancholy wanted to impress her, and occasionally did, but never to the extent that melancholy felt satisfied.

Gabriel: Agender Monk teacher with dark skin. Taught melancholy self exploration and meditation and was the closest to Melancholy. Gave Melancholy a bracelet made of Amethyst and Amazonite.

Jewel: Female Monk teacher with fair skin. Taught stealth, medicine, some history, and survival tactics to Melancholy. Spent a lot of time with Melancholy but wasn't as close to her as Gabriel was.
Personality Traits: Oblivious to etiquette and social expectations
Ideals: Curiosity
Bonds: Only close to the monks that raised her
Flaws: Very emotionally fragile and enjoys the world a bit too much
Languages: Common

Monday, September 19, 2016

When last we left our heroes . . . (episode 3)



We gathered up the remaining supplies in the Hobgoblin cave and found a couple of healing potions along the way as well as a very cool looking statuette, which the party members seemed to argue over the valuation of for an excessively long time.

Eventually the statuette made its way to Melancholy’s hands, Althea kept one of the healing potions, and Graver kept the other (as well as a few wooden teeth from the goblins). As for Avantador, he was just happy to be alive. Plus he realized a larger reward would be at the end of the adventure if they returned all the crates back to the Lionshield Coster in Phandalin.

So Avantador loaded up the crates into the carriage and our adventurers were now headed to Phandalin with a very grateful Sildar in tow. Sildar let the rest of the part in on the disappearance of Gundrun and how they were separated. Gundrun unfortunately would need to be rescued from a keep.

When our adventurers finally arrived in Phandalin things seemed just a bit off . . . both within the party and with the town.  This is where the group split off into three different directions.

What’s the first rule of D&D? Don’t split the party. What did we do? We split the party.

Avantador’s adventure
Avantador unfortunately was stuck with the dirty work of returning the crates to the Lionshield folks. Everyone else split, and it was upon the most responsible 15-year-old dragonborn you’ve ever seen. He’s like a dad.

While crossing town from the local shop to the Lionshield establishment, it was pretty clear that there was a militant force that had pretty much over run the town, and they were strong-arming everyone in town for “taxes.” They were the "red cloaks."

Avantador did a great job of avoiding conflicts with these folks and made his way to his destination. While he almost had a run in with a very . . . um . . . not-so-bright workhand, things were righted quickly, and the fees were collected for a job well done.  Avantador had money to split with the group!

Graver’s adventure
Graver wandered around town and found what appeared to be a run-down, closed toy store.  THAT, was incredibly interesting. I mean, he did consider himself to be the foremost tinker and toy maker.  It was like a certain DM just planted this store in town for him. *cough cough*

The only problem here is that the toy store was directly across from a place called the Sleeping Giant Inn. The Sleeping Giant Inn was a Red Cloak dive and they were out in droves . . . like bees swarming the joint and . . . happily drinking ROOTBEERS. Right.  Rootbeers. Wayyyy too many rootbeers.

Anyway, Graver started fiddling with the door knob on the run down toy store and was trying to essentially break into the place when a group of Red Cloaks across the road saw what he was up to and yelled across the street for him to knock it off. “HEY! Get out of there what are you doing?!”

Graver then went on a very long tale about how he was a toymaker and a magician and a gnome and here with his friends and on and on and on. He simply didn't have the foggiest that these were bad guys. After thoroughly convincing them that toys were cool, the Red Cloaks seemed fascinated and asked him to show them a few tricks. Graver then started a “show” of sorts by shooting cantrip spells into the air. It was going pretty well . . . and then a firebolt grazed the corner of the toy store and almost caught it on fire. “Whoa whoa whoa . . . you gotta be careful little guy. Stay away from that store in the future and be careful.”

Graver agreed and then went to meet up with Avantador at the designated meeting spot . . . the Stone Hill Inn, an inn with much less Red Cloak presence.

Althea and Melancholy’s adventure
The last thing on Althea and Melancholy’s minds was delivering crates to people in town. Nope. It was now time to EXPLORE, and so they headed down to a nice little spot in the south of town where there was a nice Apple Orchard.

There they met a nice man by the name of Daran Edermath. He was of course, an apple farmer. Before Althea and Melancholy could steal any more apples off of his trees, he invited them in to talk and offered them some nice apple cider.

Daran talked to them a long time and told them of his old exploits as an adventurer himself. Those days were over now, of course, and he was an upstanding part of the town! Unfortunately . . . yup, the Red Cloaks (you guessed it) had been taxing people unfairly and it was getting out of hand.

Eventually Althea and Melancholy thanked Daran and bid him farewell. It was time to meet back up with Graver and Avantador at the Stone Hill Inn.


Back at the Stone Hill Inn . . .
Eventually the Dungeon Master no longer had to redirect his attention to three different story lines and the gang was back together and sharing information about what they had discovered in town.  It was pretty obvious the Red Cloaks were a big problem in Phandalin.

Meanwhile, Avantador had struck a deal with the proprietors of the Stone Hill Inn to play some music there for the night in exchange for lodging, and so he began to play, and you know what?  The dice rolls told us all it was a pretty freaking amazing show. :)

In the midst of Avantador’s set *record scratch* enter Sister Garaele. It was obvious that Melancholy was instantly taken with Sister Garaele’s beauty right way, “YOU’RE PRETTY!” she barked. Oh, Melancholy . . . so awkwardly honest with your emotions.

Anyway, as fate would have it, Sister Garaele herself had a quest for a group of adventurers and asked them to come by her Temple in the morning. Melancholy, being completely taken with this person, insisted that this would be the FIRST thing that would happen the next morning. No if’s, no and’s, no buts.

After Avantador's set, everyone was pretty tired. Avantador went upstairs to go to bed. Althea decided to sleep out in the woods with her deer buddy.  Melancholy hid in a corner of the bar and slept under a table (you can't make this stuff up).

Graver . . . Graver went outside and waited . . . and waited . . . and when the time was right, he did a triple backflip up the side of the building (seriously, this was an amazing acrobatics roll), jumped up to Avantador’s windowsill, slipped inside his room, and snuck into his closet.  And went to sleep.

(click to enlarge)

(to be continued . . .)