Friday, December 30, 2022

Idalium Game 116: Field Mycology

Session date: Monday, September 23, 2019
Game date: Saturday, October 15, 211

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 7, hp 41, xp 73511/140000
Caryatid, Magic-user 5, hp 24, xp 23067/40000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 4, hp 15, xp 11969/16000
Adrien, Fighter 4, hp 16, xp 12038/16000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 5, hp 17, xp 17996/32000
Father Chase Pike, Cleric 3, hp 13, xp 5677/6000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 2363/4000
Ms. Vanjie, Thief 1, hp 1, xp 96/1200

With a mind to reduce the "mold problem" in the caverns below Idalium, the adventurers went shopping in the city for gardening tools. They bought a rake, and at "Crazy Harry" the alchemist's shop they bought two pints of Greek fire, which they carefully wrapped in cloth for cushioning. Descending into the dungeons, they had a number of minor encounters on the way to the caverns on the third level, but were able to quickly avoid or overcome the threats without much effort. When they arrived at the shore of the underground lake, they were alarmed to note that the "front line" of the mushroom growth had advanced somewhat since the last time they were here.

The adventurers carefully took samples of the mushrooms and other varieties of fungal forms, placing them carefully in three glass jars they had brought with them. Then, Orin poured out a flask of oil on the ground and lit it with a torch, burning the mushrooms and fungus in a roughly four foot circle. It seemed to writhe and twist as it burned. The air filled with the aroma of sauteed mushrooms. They followed this up with one of the pints of Greek fire, which seemed to spread more effectively and burned a larger area of mushrooms. Caryatid got tired of this piecemeal approach, however, and just cast Fireball into the cave passage, incinerating the fungus coating the walls, floor, and ceiling. The mushrooms seemed to scream as they burned away, but perhaps it was just the sound of the rapidly escaping steam.

On a whim, Simon tried to use his amulet of mindreading on the mushrooms, and his head was suddenly filled with an alarming voice, deep and monotone: "Join us... Come to us... There is nothing to fear... Join with us and be one..." At that moment, four bugbears staggered out of the cave passage, draped in fungal filaments like the seemingly mindless humans they had fought here before. The bugbears lurched stiffly forward. One gaped open its mouth in a croaking, hissing gasp, and they could see the mushrooms growing from its tongue and cheeks, clogging its mouth and spilling out onto its fur.

Caryatid cast Fireball directly on the fungus-enshrouded bugbears. Orin cast Sleep and several of them collapsed, while the others charged forward to attack the remaining one. Chase's mace thumped solidly into the side of the last bugbear standing and it collapsed, but not before a dense cloud of spores erupted from the wound, leaving Chase choking and gasping for fresh air. The group knew that this was bad news, so they returned to the surface, helping the wheezing Father Chase along.

Back in the city of Idalium, they returned to the shopfront chapel that Father Chase had been hired from. They waited anxiously in the drab waiting room while a Brother Todd examined Chase. He returned with the news that the fungal infection could be cured with the right prayers, but that the chapel would require a donation of 1,000 gold darics for the necessary oils and incense, etc. Caryatid paid the fee, and then arranged for her and Father Chase to stay at the chapel overnight (for an additional 5 gp donation apiece), in the event the infection worsened before it could be cured in the morning.

Leaving Father Chase behind, the group made the trek to the Steps to pay a visit to Professor Zinn, the eccentric sage. Professor Zinn was fascinated by the mushroom samples they had brought with them, and offered them 500 silver shekels for each jar. Adrien scoffed at this offer quite rudely, and then Caryatid attempted to smooth the Professor's ruffled feathers with honeyed words and flattery. Simon hinted vaguely about the mysterious voice he had heard in his mind when trying to probe the "thoughts" of the fungus. Professor Zinn eventually offered them 3000 gp for everything, including all the information they knew about the stuff. Caryatid continued to drive a hard bargain, with Adrien chipping in about what a cheapskate the Professor was, and finally Zinn said, "Enough! I'll give you 3500 gold, on the condition that *she* [pointing at Adrien] stay outside from now on! And that she keeps that horrible mangy beast with her!" [referring to Norman, Adrien's pet demonic giant ferret]

The deal being made, the group left their samples with the Professor and returned across the river to the city proper.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Idalium Game 115: Like a Bad Penny

Session date: Monday, August 12, 2019
Game date: Saturday, September 9, 211

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 7, hp 41, xp 73421/140000
Caryatid, Magic-user 5, hp 24, xp 22955/40000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 4, hp 15, xp 11851/16000
Adrien, Fighter 4, hp 16, xp 11926/16000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 5, hp 17, xp 17940/32000
Father Chase Pike, Cleric 3, hp 13, xp 5618/6000
Kevon, Fighter 2, hp 8, xp 2808/4000
Ms. Vanjie, Thief 1, hp 1, xp 37/1200

Heading down to the 3rd level again, the party had to deal with several restocked encounters on the way. In the Street of Temples, an swarm of bats had roosted on the ceiling, but the group was able to quietly sneak past. In the Temple of Hedonism, they stumbled upon a nest of four giant gecko lizards. Gulleck and Simon used their rings of animal control to immobilize them, but as they were giant animals they could only control one each. The other two lizards attacked angrily. One bit Simon savagely, breaking him out of his trance. Now there were three angry lizards attacking them, but Caryatid put a quick end to the combat with a sleep spell.

They made their way through the caves on the 2nd level to the sloping passage that led down to the beach of the underground lake on the 3rd level. They were alarmed to discover that they had company on the beach: nine skeletons wielding swords and shields, led by a horrid, stitched-together creature wearing the tattered remains of a sack-like coat. They recognized this monstrosity. It was "Mister Beefcake", the cobbled-together horror that Caryatid's clone had created as a bodyguard. Last they had seen him, they thought they had killed him, but apparently he had not been as dead as he seemed. A red glow pulsed beneath the bared flesh of his barrel-like chest, accompanied by a deep throbbing heartbeat. The Beating Heart! They had always suspected that Caryatid the Green had stolen this foul relic, but now they understood that she had used it as part of the dread rituals that had given this creature its parody of life. And now it granted the monster the ability to command the undead!

"Fireball," intoned Caryatid, and the air around the monster and his skeletons exploded with flame. The skeletons were instantly annihilated, scorched bones clattering to the ground. And then the battle was joined. The adventurers swarmed around the monstrous man, slashing and jabbing with their blades. Caryatid sent a magic missile into the fray. And then with a roar of frustration the hulking brute pushed Adrien to the ground and walked away from the battle, striding right into the underground lake. The black water submerged him and closed over his massive, lumpy head.

The adventurers stood on the shore, breathing hard. Father Chase used his staff of healing to treat Adrien's wounds. Once they had caught their breath, they entered the caves of fungus to the north. Taking a mushroom-choked passage on the right, they came to a place where the way was blocked by a pair of giant mushrooms, livid violet in color, with dangerous looking tendrils growing from beneath their caps. They decided to retreat back to the first chamber, for fear of being poisoned or worse.

Taking the left branch, they entered another passage where mushrooms and other fungi were growing densely. At the entrance to the passage, an enormous pale white puffball grew, quivering alarmingly. Gulleck jabbed it with her axe, and it exploded into a cloud of spores, sending Gulleck and several others into a deep sleep from which they could not be awakened. The others waited nervously, guarding against any wandering dangers, and after 20 minutes or so, the sleepers groggily awoke, speaking confusedly about bizarre fever dreams, in which tendrils of mycelium spread underground and alien fruiting bodies sprouted and proliferated.

Once the others had recovered their wits, the group explored the next chamber, in which there was an odd area in the west corner of the cave where no mushrooms grew. The rock was a different color here and the mushrooms stopped growing where the color changed, forming a well-defined perimeter. Gulleck grabbed a chunk of a mushroom and chucked it into the "dead zone", but nothing too dramatic happened.

Caryatid's magically enhanced nose got a sudden whiff of gold from a passage to the northeast, so they moved on from this chamber into a similar one where fungus covered all of the surfaces around them. In the eastern corner, they could see a skeleton, partially covered by a bright yellow fungus, next to a rotting backpack that spilled decayed adventuring gear along with hundreds of gold and silver coins. After their experience with the puffball spores, no one was too keen on disturbing the yellow mold, but Gulleck dared to grab a handful of coins that were farthest from the mold-covered skeleton. This was a tiny portion of the large pile of coins, but sufficed as a souvenir and to have obtained at least some treasure on this delve into the dungeon.

Unwilling to press on further this day, the adventurers returned to the surface.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Monsters of Idalium: Stretchers

One of the more memorable new monsters that I created for the Idalium campaign was the stretcher. (I originally named them stretch ghouls, and then realized years later that this sounded too close to Kickstarter's stretch goals to take seriously.) My players were utterly horrified by these undead creatures, in vast disproportion to their actual statistics. They encountered them two or maybe three times, but the most memorable occasion was the first one, in the sealed Hotel Lethia.

This encounter and monster arose directly from a nightmare I had a year or two before the party actually encountered them in the game. Mechanically, I considered them just a variety of ghoul, and based the stat block off of the ghoul, with just some specifics added to cover their unique attack and the way their stretching arms work. This stat block was designed for B/X D&D, but should work in any version of D&D or its retroclones derived from the original D&D lineage.


Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 2**
Move: 90’ (30’)
Attacks: 1 touch
Damage: paralysis / 1d4 life drain
No. Appearing: 1-6 (2-16)
Save As: Fighter:2
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: B
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 30

Stretchers are undead creatures that live in a perpetual dream state, dimly going through the motions of a parody of their former life. They have pallid white (fish belly) flesh, and a vaguely female form, though their bodily and facial features are rudimentary and vague, as if they are only an imitation of a human being. They do not wear clothes. They do not talk, nor do they exhibit any type of human-like intelligence, having a bestial cunning only.

They prefer to live in enclosed rooms underground, and will spend much of their time sleeping (if the undead can sleep) completely covered by a sheet or blanket. They tend to try to avoid being uncovered.

Stretchers have an insatiable hunger for the human life force, and when they encounter the living, they will reach out with a questing arm, which unnaturally stretches up to 30’ feet, moving at a rate of 10’ per round unerringly towards its target. The arm (and the rest of the stretcher) can squeeze through the tiniest cracks, such as through keyholes, under doors, etc. The touch of a stretcher will paralyze any creature of ogre size or smaller (except elves) unless the victim saves vs. Paralysis. Starting on the round after the victim is paralyzed, the stretcher will begin to drain life force from the victim. This causes the victim to lose consciousness (eyes fluttering, gasping for breath), and does 1d4 points of damage per round. The paralysis and unconsciousness induced by a stretcher lasts 2d4 turns, but can be reversed by a cure light wounds spell.

If an amount of damage equal to half the stretcher’s total hit points is done to an arm, it will retract very quickly, though the stretcher may try again with its other arm. If the other arm is “killed”, it will also retract and the stretcher will flee. The stretcher can only be killed by doing its total amount of hit points in damage to its actual body. When killed, stretchers dissolve into a white, rubbery liquid and drain away through cracks and crevices in the ground.

Any creature whose life force is completely drained by a stretcher will dissolve into the same liquid and drain away (raise dead is impossible) and will reform as a new stretcher in 1d4 days.

As undead, stretchers are immune to poison and mind-affecting spells such as sleep and charm person. They can be turned as ghouls.



Thursday, May 12, 2022

Idalium Game 114: Strange Brew

Session date: Monday, August 5, 2019
Game date: Saturday August 27, 211

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 7, hp 41, xp 73405/140000
Caryatid, Magic-user 5, hp 24, xp 22935/40000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 4, hp 15, xp 11830/16000
Adrien, Fighter 4, hp 16, xp 11906/16000
Orehoe Hüfflestüff, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 1377/4000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 5, hp 17, xp 17930/32000
Father Chase Pike, Cleric 3, hp 13, xp 5608/6000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 2353/4000
Ms. Vanjie, Thief 1, hp 1, xp 27/1200
Fritzenbürg, Cleric 1, hp 1, xp 96/1500

We had a large party this time of five players and their retainers, so Gulleck bought another canoe and paid to have it awkwardly lowered down into the ruins of Idalium. On their way through the Temple of Hedonism, a random encounter had them running into a group of five hedonists on their way to an orgy. Another random encounter put 10 skeletons in the temple itself. The hedonists (who are in fact acolytes) turned the skeletons using their "holy symbols", of which the less said the better!

The party paid a visit to the Judge, who was sad that they didn't bring him any tasty gemstones to eat. Then they retrieved their other canoe and rowed across the underground lake to the beach. They had previously noted that an iron rod was driven into the ground near the shore, and a rope tied to it led out into the lake. Pulling the rope taunt they could feel that it was secured on the other end. So they followed the rope in their canoes into the center of the lake, where they found an island. A rowboat was pulled up onto the shore near a similar iron pole where the other end of the rope was tied. A small house or cottage stood in the center of the island, and oddly colored smoke curled from the chimney. Strange stone rubble was strewn across the beach that looked oddly like fragments of granite statues, a forearm here, a booted foot there. Gulleck looked at the rubble with some misgivings.

Simon used his amulet of ESP and sensed the presence of an intelligent mind within the house. Caryatid took off her invisibility and approached the house. Next to the front door a sign on a low post read, "Potions, elixirs, and concoctions sold and traded. Those who are serious about doing business, enter. Those of ill will and time wasters will not be tolerated." Caryatid knocked on the door, and Gulleck joined her.

The door was opened by a strange figure that they realized they had met before. She wore a frayed black dress and a nearly opaque black veil hanging from a wide brimmed hat, such that her face was completely obscured. She greeted them in a businesslike fashion, and after ascertaining that they were here to possibly buy some potions, she invited them in to the cottage.

The room inside was quite spartan. The veiled woman introduced herself as Atropos, and invited them to sit at a small circular table. A cauldron at the other end of the room bubbled away, and a "fume hood" above it whisked the strange vapors away up the chimney. Two very strange creatures were curled up near her feet. They looked like large dogs, but seemed to be made of living stone. Each was gnawing on a piece of granite, presumably from the shattered statues outside.

Atropos showed them many different potions that could be theirs: potions of invisibility, healing, diminution and growth, and even deadly poison. While they were dithering on what to buy, and remembering the sign's admonition against time wasters, Atropos was making small talk and casually mentioned that her sister was the Queen of Nightmares. Caryatid and Gulleck replied neutrally to this, not mentioning that they had only just recently killed the Queen of Nightmares. In the end, they bought two potions of healing so as not to annoy Atropos.

After paddling back across the lake, they took a side passage that sloped upwards and worked their way through natural caverns until they found themselves at the entrance to the Goblin King's palace. The guard room was empty, and the last entry in the guest book was for "Rugger's Raiders". Caryatid wrote "Appointment Canceled!" next to this entry. Then they retraced their steps and returned to the beach. They briefly explored the fungus-engulfed caves again. They found four giant striped beetles in one cavern, but Caryatid and Simon dealt with them quickly with a web spell and Simon's animal control ring. They started to proceed deeper into the caves, but Caryatid got a strong whiff of large animals and they decided it was too late in the evening to deal with that right now. Noting it for later, they paddled back across the lake and returned home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Idalium Game 113: Change and Decay in All Around I See

Session date: Monday, July 1, 2019
Game date: Saturday July 23, 211 to Sunday, July 24, 211

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 7, hp 41, xp 73397/140000
Caryatid, Magic-user 5, hp 24, xp 22926/40000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 4, hp 15, xp 11821/16000
Adrien, Fighter 4, hp 16, xp 11897/16000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 5, hp 17, xp 17925/32000
Father Chase Pike, Cleric 3, hp 13, xp 5602/6000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 2348/4000
Boe, Fighter 1, hp 5, xp 921/2000

There was a notice on the bulletin board of the Rusty Lantern tavern that said that Professor Zinn would pay for evidence of giant ants mining nuggets of gold deep underground.

The group took their usual path down below. On the way they met a quartet of gnomes, who told them that some of the gnomes from their clan had been recruited away to work on some kind of mining project three dungeon levels below here. (Planting plot hook seeds that were never to sprout, alas!)

They visited the Judge, and Simon fed him a gemstone to ask about the "giants" in the garden area. The Judge told him that once their ancestors were the caretakers of the gardens, but left isolated and alone over the generations they reverted to brutish savagery.

They headed east to the shore of the underground lake, getting their canoes out of their wizard-locked storeroom on the way, and paddled across to the north shore of the lake. A natural cave passage led into the rock to the north. A short ways in, it widened and split left and right. To the right, strange mushrooms and other types of fungus grew on the ground and the walls. Cautious and wary of that, the group chose to go left instead. They hadn't gone far before they came upon three people standing oddly in a widened area of the cave. They slouched awkwardly as if uncomfortable in their own bodies.

"Er... howdy!" said Gulleck. One of the figures turned around, revealing a human face, but covered in mushrooms and fungus that grew in its hair and entwined its neck. It wheezed and coughed, and Gulleck could see that its mouth was choked full of small pale mushrooms. It falteringly extended a hand at Gulleck.

The group turned and ran back to the big Y-intersection. Then they composed themselves and decided to charge them. I mean, it was 8 against 3, right? Caryatid started to cast the Web spell, and was confused to see the creature in the front imitating her, waving its hands as if casting a spell. Then the strands of sticky spider silk shot from her hands and entangled all three of the creatures. A cloud of spores erupted all around them. Caryatid coughed as the spores filled her lungs. Gulleck ran up to one of the creatures and hacked its arm off. It let out a horrible wheezing cry, as more spores filled the air (but Gulleck's dwarven constitution was up to the threat). They put the arm in a sack as a sample, and hightailed it back to their canoes.

On the way out they visited the Judge again and fed him a piece of amber to ask about the fungus. "Bor was here to visit the other day, and he mentioned he saw a spreading fungus on the other side of the lake." But he had no useful advice, so they went home to seek a cure for Caryatid, who was looking green around the gills and wheezing.

Back above ground, they made their way through the bustling streets and alleys of Idalium to Father Chase's "temporary clerical staffing" chapel and waited to be seen by High Elder Flimwitz. Caryatid balked at the "requested donation" of 1,000 gold darics for a Cure Disease spell, but after a restless night full of strange and alien dreams of mushrooms and mycelium and the unearthly beauty of decay, Caryatid scurried back to the chapel the next morning to cough up the cash and get healed of whatever the spores were that had lodged in her lungs.

Idalium Game 112: Lullaby to Nightmares

Session date: Monday, June 10, 2019
Game date: Sunday, July 3, 211

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 7, hp 41, xp 73282/140000
Caryatid, Magic-user 5, hp 24, xp 22782/40000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 4, hp 15, xp 11670/16000
Adrien, Fighter 4, hp 16, xp 11753/16000
Orehoe Hüfflestüff, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 1226/4000
Frosty Beans, Fighter 1, hp 5, xp 1696/2000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 5, hp 17, xp 17853/32000
Father Chase Pike, Cleric 3, hp 13, xp 5526/6000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 2276/4000
Fritzenbürg, Cleric 1, hp 1, xp 24/1500

The COVID-19 lockdowns caused the Idalium campaign to fizzle out, sadly. We tried playing online via Discord and Roll20 for a few sessions, but it just wasn't the same. (And don't tell anyone, but I was reaching the end of the levels of the dungeon that I had mapped and keyed, and not feeling motivated to design the next level or two.) In an attempt to catch up on the campaign journals and, after writing 111 journal entries, get some proper closure on the campaign journal at least, I'm going to try to write these in a more abbreviated form. Hopefully, the lack of vivid description doesn't disappoint too much. (Also, it's been almost three years since these sessions and my memories are vague!)

Unusually, we picked up the story one day after we had left off, for the Queen of Nightmares' curse had left the vast majority of the party unable to sleep! They tossed and turned all night, and felt a strange compulsion drawing them back to the palace of the Queen of Nightmares. Only Caryatid, Simon, Meat, and Frosty were unaffected. Even Marcel the monkey and Norman the giant demon ferret spent a miserable night awake!

Caryatid experimented with the crystal ball they had taken from the Queen of Nightmares' treasure room. First she was able to remotely view her goose (that in theory lays golden eggs when provided with the right feed). Then she turned its gaze to the Queen of Nightmares' throne room. To her grim horror, she saw the Queen of Nightmares, reconstituted in human form, stalking her rooms in a rage.

They descended below to finish the job and hopefully restore their ability to sleep. First they stopped in to see "The Judge". The talking stone face told them that a large group of tall lanky goblins (bugbears) had come this way yesterday, heading upstairs, but returned in the middle of the night talking about how they were unable to sleep. They made their way towards the palace of the Queen, stopping to speak with the bewildered and delirious hermit Bor through the door of his chambers. Bor was of little help to them and eventually told them to go away. They pulled out the crystal ball again and viewed the Queen of Nightmares' bedroom. Through the open door they could see her speaking to a group of her bugbear slaves.

Making their way into the grand hall of the Queen's palace, they cleared away the piles of broken furniture that made a barricade in front of the door to the throne room. This snagged a tripwire that caused a portcullis to drop at either end of the hall, but other party members on the "good" side of the portcullis had previously found the crank to raise it, and quickly went round to do so.

The group entered the throne room of the Queen of Nightmares, which seemed empty until six bugbears stepped out from behind the stone columns that supported the ceiling and attacked! A bugbear snared Fritzenbürg with a garrotte and strangled him into unconsciousness. Gulleck and Adrien managed to kill a bugbear, and Orin cast a spell to put one to sleep. Boe fell to another bugbear's vicious strangulation. Caryatid cast sleep and another three bugbears dropped, and Gulleck put an axe in the chest of the last one.

Fritzenbürg and Boe turned out to be still alive and able to continue, barely. The adventurers collected a few gold coins and two ears from each bugbear (the latter to sell as bounties to the dwarves upstairs). Then they carefully made their way beyond the throne room to confront the Queen of Nightmares herself.

"How dare you intrude again in my domain!" The Queen of Nightmares stepped out of her room, dressed again in her tattered black robes. She began casting a spell. Caryatid slipped on her invisibility ring, and Frosty (who had borrowed Simon's) did the same. Stepping out from behind the Queen of Nightmares was the horrifying visage of a medusa. This turned out to be an illusion cast by the Queen, but Adrien and Meat failed their saving throws, and went rigid and still, believing themselves to have been turned to stone! Caryatid cast Magic Missile on the Queen of Nightmares, rolling the big green d30 for 17 points. Next round both I and Orehoe's player rolled the d30 for initiative, as it was important for both sides to get an attack off first. I won initiative, for once. The Queen cast Sleep at the party, and Orehoe, Orin, and Chase all fell to the ground in awkward heaps. That left only Gulleck, Caryatid, Simon, and Frosty to finish the fight. The Queen of Nightmares attempted to charm Caryatid, who made her saving throw, but only barely! Caryatid used her wand of fear and the Queen of Nightmares recoiled in panic and began to run away.

At this point there was a long discussion of what to do. They assumed she would just get away again and they'd have to do this all over again, if they didn't decisively end things now. Caryatid seriously considered just fireballing the entire room. That would probably kill several of the party members with low hit points, but at least it would solve the problem. But then Frosty Beans (our newest player) ran up invisibly, and stabbed the Queen of Nightmares in the back with her own magical dagger!

Almost shocked at their own victory, the adventurers cut the head off the Queen, burned her body with oil, and headed back to the surface for a well-deserved and long-deferred sleep!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

From Out of the Darkness?


It's been a while. The Idalium campaign fizzled out, a victim of the COVID-19 lockdowns. We tried playing online with Discord and for a few sessions, using scanned versions of my maps and scans of the character sheets, but it felt kind of awkward and clumsy. And truth be told, I was itching to start a D&D 5e campaign of "Curse of Strahd", which turned out to be much better suited to online play, with all of the maps, tokens, etc., provided for you.

But suddenly I felt the desire to reopen this creaky trapdoor. John Arendt (formerly known as Beedo) has been recently posting again on his Dreams in the Lich House blog. (Ironically, he has also moved from B/X to 5e.) And I figured, I have this blog and it doesn't have to be limited to the one campaign, so why not use it? I haven't stopped playing D&D and this blog was never meant to be solely a campaign journal.

As my Curse of Strahd campaign nears the end (the party just hit level 9 and has one last area to explore before they tackle Castle Ravenloft and the vampire Count Strahd himself) my thoughts turn the next campaign. I'll probably offer the group a vote on a selection of the 5e hardcover adventures, but I've also been giving a lot of thought to running a very free-form, sandbox style campaign in the Forgotten Realms. Since we would be using the 5e rules, I'd probably set it in the "current" era of the Realms (1489+ DR) but increasingly, I've been attracted to the idea of leaning most heavily on the original AD&D (1e) Forgotten Realms Campaign Set as a baseline, and using later materials (including 5e material) on a pick-and-choose basis. One of my issues with the Forgotten Realms has always been the immense amount of materials available for it. It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this is a major attraction of the Realms, that so much of the world building has been done for you and you can let your players just roam around and it is easy to just wing it using the existing materials. On the other hand, all this material (and the history of "Realms-shaking events") tends to pile up and become a tangible weight on the setting. With so many demigodlike NPCs walking around, is there really room for adventuring? So I like the idea of rolling back all that cruft and leaving it as a "what if" or a "maybe it happened that way, who knows?" Rather than have Elminster be an immortal and nearly omniscient demigod and the Chosen of Mystra, I'd rather have the players meet Elminster the eccentric sage who is more concerned with his project to comprehensively catalog the butterflies of the ruins of Myth Drannor than in saving the multiverse from the latest and greatest apocalypse.

But we'll see! Maybe I'll even find a place on the map of Faerûn to plop down the city of Idalium. We never did explore too much of the world outside the city.

If I end up going ahead with the sandbox campaign idea, I might use this blog to post some world-building ideas as I put together my version of the Realms. In the meantime, I'm planning on posting a couple of the new monsters I created for the Idalium campaign. And maybe (no promises) I might be able to catch up on some of the Idalium campaign journals. Writing full journals is a bit of a time sink, and I might do these (as well as any future journals) in a more abbreviated format. It would be nice to have closure of the campaign for the handful of loyal readers that I did have.