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About the blog

Jason Silverain

Introduced to roleplaying through games such as Bards Tale, Eye of The Beholder and Dungeon on the Amiga and Choose Your Own Adventure Books at a young age I moved on to tabletop games such as Hero Quest and Warhamer Quest in my teens.
Unable to find local groups in Sheffield near to where I lived I mostly relied on video games such as The Baldurs Gate Series, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights. 
Thanks to the Scifi and Fantasy appreciation Society I became a avid player of D&D3.5 during university and have kept in close contact with many of its members who are my regular gaming group. I have since played and ran a wide array of systems and settings over the last decade including World Of Darkness (Werewolf and Mage in particular), Path Finder, Fate, Savage Worlds, Paranoia, various versions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Only War, Wilderness of Mirrors, Kobolds Ate My Baby and looking to widen my experiences even more.

The Sword and Torch Inn initial concept was a way of digitally storing and sharing our groups house rules and writing evolved into a full blog which includes highlights of local events and video game reviews.

Frequently asked questions

Why the name Jason Silverain?

My usual gamer tag didn't really seem appropriate and I've used the user name Silverain in several RPG's over the years but it originated from a Paladin of adventure I played in The Worlds Largest Dungeon. I had grown rather fond of the character and had hoped to play several descendant characters (of varying classes) in future campaigns but this is around the time the group begun moving to systems outside of Dungeons and Dragons and my own participation dwindled for while due to issues with depression so the opportunity never came up.

Did your party hate you playing Paladin? Did you finish the Worlds Largest Dungeon? 

We've kind of completed it, our group played it for four years (with a few months between session at one point) got near the exit area then decided to remain in the dungeon to explore the last two sections we missed, unfortunate the DM (the lovely lady of Buzy Bobbins) is a on 8-10 hour shifts, 6 days a week for months at a time so its been put on hold for over 4 years now. I still hold my DM in highest respect for attempting to run that poorly proof read monster and honestly with the party having beaten the Tarrasque, a army of demons and more than capable of destroying the suspected Lich in a nearby area I personally consider it completed.

I think the biggest thing that has remained with my group is they no longer hate paladins, I played a paladin who worshipped a homebrew god that was very similar to Cayden Cailean. He had the attitude of an old campaign veteran offering words of wisdom and advice but not forcing his opinion upon the party, instead he'd let them continue as he hung back waiting to step in if the situation looked like it may prove to much for the character or they were endangering others. He became like a mentor to the party and eventually received the holy avenger and covered his towershield in dragonhide.

Other honourable mentions:
  • Tiefling Factotum (Original party member): Ceased adventuring and took over a warpack of Gnolls, limits their aggressiveness by using magic to feed them.
  • Thri-kreen Monk (Original party member, my first character): Ceased adventuring remained with Celestials to meditate upon existence.
  • Halfling Warlock: Went kind of crazy and went off to explore alone occasionally reappears and aids the party.
  • Human Psion (Original party member): Likes polymorphing into a cave troll or summoning constructs, remains with the party which is on vacation with elvish forces, de faco leader of the party.
  • Half Dragon Sorcerer (Original party member): Half blue dragon wields a trident, uses sorcery to enhance dragon breath, also remains with the party which is on vacation with elvish forces.
  • Half Giant Psychic Warrior: Late addition to party, found as a slave and was brought up in the dungeon, also with the current party.

Is there anything banned in your groups games?

Rape by players.
Players tend to apply this rule themselves in my group and only had two cases where its occurred.
First occurrence was during my first campaign, a half orc barbarian who had been spending most of his money on ale and wenches (using reincarnation table as random prostitute table) decided to have his way with a kobold captive. Party objected when they hear the racket, healed the kobold afterwards and started letting the half orc nearly get himself killed when he rushed into danger.
The kobold turned up later drug the half orc, castrated him, ate it while he was been pursed so it couldn't be reattached in front of half orc and survived by luring the enraged half orc into a trap as he escaped.

The second occurrence was in a Dark elf campaign in Warhammer fantasy Second Edition, the character was a female slaanesh worshipper who decided to do some very sick things on some skaven slaves using their shortsword as their phallus. We pretty much stopped them three words into description and said it happened off screen, thankfully the player toned it down after that.

Neither offending player is a member of the current group having moved away from the area.

On a lighter note I have a personal rule in D20 games I run which is you cannot shape shift into creatures that you haven't encountered or studied intensely. Specific form spells were exempt from this but the first time you took a shape you had a -4 penalty on any action for a round.

This was initially to stop the druid players abuse of our extensive bestiary collection and the fact I was a beginning DM.
However it did allow me to craft some of the most memorable encounters in the campaign which included:
  • The reservation of Creatures Arcana (Imagine London Zoo full of creatures that have been enhanced, crossbred or created through magic. Party favourite was the Blink Parrots which they spent repeated visits trying to teach them phrases)
  • The druid roping the party into trekking through an hellhole of a forest that was fiercely guarded by a group of druids who didn't allowed entry beyond the first mile to outsides and who were irate to say the least.)
  • Party barbarian using druid as fishing bait trying to attract sea monsters.
It certainly made the party enjoy finding new critters.

I don't even understand how you could go about running a campaign with worshippers of the Chaos Gods I can't even imagine how you'd go about trying to run a campaign when the "CN Rogue" response of "burn down every village and orphanage" is genuinely how they're supposed to act. Tzeetch might be manageable. His followers have self-control. But all chaos worshippers are completely and irretrievably insane.

We've had several over the years and they are basically an excuse for silly mayhem and we would always have a mixture of evils depending on the theme and always of the risk of party kills.
The thing is while yes all chaos worshippers are completely and irretrievably insane they can be at high functioning levels. Our Khornite warrior may dislike and be poor at sneaking in but he has good tactical awareness and once he is set loose is near unstoppable, the Nurgle priest no one wants to be near but as long as he keeps his pestilence clear from us and/or particular people we don't mind him spreading cold/flu/diarrhoea amongst the homeless, I'm the Tzeetch worshipping people person with 5+ layers of convoluted plans, keeps the party under control and has the more nasty subtle mutations. Slaanesh has fallen out of favour but these followers usually played as a experience seeking spellcasters or rogue types.

Usually in evil campaigns we are kept in check by been pawns of a higher power and find that we usually do his wishes under fear of been killed. (until we grow powerful enough to kill him and take over with a truce pact between the party.) Normally we are so busy trying to fix the build of problems cause by our screw ups we don't have time to murder each other.

The dark elf campaign was the original evil campaign though and its concept was that we enter a major port city stealthily and take out its key members and defences. This went wrong from night one as our first act was to infiltrate the 10 floor engineer guild tower and ended up been spotted from the 3rd floor. The Slaanesh worshipper (who was also a flesh crafter) then started casting Fleshy Curse at the town guard left, right and centre (Which means they turn into ever growing giant cancerous lumps until fire is applied) and it turned a race to kill the chief engineer and escape before the town army could cut its way through the former town guard to gain entrance.

Long story short, we wiped every important person in town, along with most of its army, three battle wizards, a gryphon (which the Slaanesh worshipper infuriated by castrating while it was sleeping with a sword enchanted with a pain spell.) a skaven army and a horrible nurgle priest in the sewers who came back three times in giant monstrous forms due to chaos manifestations caused by our spellcasting. However we had caused so much ruckus in three days that reinforcements were arriving and our lord would be sure to execute us for failure, half the party died as in the final battle with the last wizard as the dying Slaanesh worshipper devoured a bag of warpstone then casting a spell as she was warping into a gigantic chaos spawn bone cathedral that messed up so badly part of the town turned into a mini chaos waste. Several street blocks became demon possessed and the entire food market animating and fighting each other for dominance (the hive mind telekinetic yams winning if your interested.)
Only myself and a single other party member survived and realising that everyone who had witnessed us had died and that humans couldn't tell the difference between elves we snuck outside the city then re-entered claiming to be adventurers to help. Que gathering the remaining populous and defeating our own invasion force looting the best gear from the colossal mess and sneaking away before too many questions were asked.

That set a high bar for utter crazy in evil campaigns we have tried to top since.

As a DM what would does your party consider to be your most memorable moments? 

 A difficult choice but I'll try to detail a few.

Operation Bright light my first Paranoia adventure had my players laughing from the start, with someone losing a clone from the start after been asked "Are you a member of a secret society?" on a questionnaire and answering honestly, a disastrous monorail ride that had the trail stop several feet from the station, followed by failure to jump to the platform and fall hundreds of feet to their death, landing in a power plant and their grenades detonating destroying it and blacking out the sector and finally the fact the whole mission was to change a lightbulb.   

A double doppleganger murder mystery which I made up on the fly and sincerely wish I still had the notes I made mid session so I could share it. Initially I planned for a single doppleganger to be present but realised it would be too easy to figure out who it was so I improvised a second one, during all the murdering I also continuously subtly baited the players to attempt to kill a rival corrupt noble who had been a major antagonist to several of the party. Surprisingly the party was well restrained and didn't take the bait but very much enjoyed figuring out what happened and slaying the dopplegangers in a duel in a burning library. 

My most memorable trap was actually a series of minor traps finalising with one final deadly surprise and was originally written to be used on a party of 3-6 level 3 PCs. The story behind this was that a wyvern has ransacked several merchants and stolen the carts without really inspecting them to use as nesting material, later after the wyvern was slain by a kobold tribe they found one of the carts contained several doors and locks which they decided to use to train their own apprentice trapsmiths.
In particular the fact the party was so psyched up that they charged into the final room which was a harpoon trap and this scene always comes to mind when we talk of it.

 In fact that whole adventure I consider the best thing I've made.

More details on the trap please?

Okay this will be long just warning you now.

I'll provide a few DCs but don't be afraid to reduce them if they are a bit high and this layout can be broken down in to two completely different encounters. Another important note for the finale is that the area has no light source of its own so the party will hopefully using torch light or lanterns. 

The trap begins by having a side passage that appears to have been badly hidden behind a tapestry or wall hanging (DC8 Spot Check) this should act as ideal bait.
After about 20ft a shoddy simple door with a simple lock (Open Lock DC 20) blocks the corridor and has a minor CR1 trap on it (I tend to favour a Dart Trap )
The party should have no issues bypassing this but unless anyone inspects the inner door frame they will not notice the portcullis grooves on the other side.
After the first door opens they find there is another 10ft of corridor at the end of which there is a slightly better quality door (Open Lock DC 28, Strength Check to Break down DC 15) which has a Poison Needle Trap trap on it.
Inspecting the corridor the party will notice it is hole ridden and in seemingly bad condition though a Dwarfs Stone Cunning will let them know that in spite of its looks the corridor is study, the reason for the condition is to hide the Fusillade of Darts trap lining the length of the corridor (Search DC 20 due to camouflage) but short of plugging up every hole which would take at least 30 minutes and a considerable amount of material such as clay there is no way to disarm it as the mechanisms are beyond reach and the darts in too deep to be fished out however at this time it is no threat to the party as activate yet.

When the party bypass this second door (which has the same grooves as the first door on the other side) there is another 15ft of corridor at the end of which lies a good quality metal studded door (Open Lock DC 30, Break down DC:18), and the first 10ft of corridor between the 2nd and 3rd door contains two Wall Blade Traps (again these are no threat to the party and do not activate yet).
In addition anyone entering the corridor should get a DC:20 spot check (+5 bonus to anyone stating they are inspecting the ceiling specificity) to notice that 5ft away from the studded door there is a portcullis groove and if lowered it would cut off anyone standing at the door from the rest of the party.
At this point hopefully the party will begin sensing a pattern and stand a little further back because this is exactly what the last two traps were meant to accomplish. The metal studded door is not trapped but as it opens it releases the tension holding the counter weights for the portcullis in place and all three now drop possibly impaling those stood below them. Whoever is in the 5ft by the metal studded door is completely safe if cut off from the group (in my group the rogue who had been thrown unwilling towards the last two door rather enjoyed this reversal of fortune) as now all the wall traps activate with the Wall Blades only deactivating once the two portcullis's have been lifted or they are disarmed/destroyed. 
 If the party have trouble lifting the portcullis and try closing the metal studded door to make them raise again have them note that while it doesn't make the portcullis reset closing the door does lock them in place meaning that if they lift them slightly they can close the door to stop them dropping.

Beyond the studded door is another Portcullis groove and 20ft of corridor with the walls been ornately patterned with corridor long grooves at human head and knee height and the floor is lined with small spikes (treat as caltrops statwise). A large stone door stands at the end with a glowing red rune in its centre. The rune is a Rune of Inflict Minor Wounds with 30 charges and is easy enough to avoid, this door isn't locked but requires a Strength check of 20 to move though a failure of 5 more more means they brush the rune by accident.
This corridor is trapped with a Tripping Chain at knee height and 4 Duster traps (one for each 5ft of corridor) in the head height groove, in case you don't have the duster trap stats here they are below:

DMG2 Duster trap: 
CR 1/2; mechanical device; touch trigger; no reset; fragile container of fine powder (Atk +5 melee touch, blindness for 1d3 rounds, DC 12 Fortitude negates); Search DC 15; Disable Device DC 15

The duster traps are relatively easy to spot/disarm and the tripping chain can be avoided by anyone willing to partly climb up the wall and both will activate when the stone door is opened (remember anyone pushing the door will be attacked by the Tripping Chain at least once), perhaps more annoyingly for the party any portcullis not destroyed or jammed will now lower again with the addition of the one at the entrance to this corridor.

Behind this final door is a 5ft of passage before stopping eruptly at a wall on which is written a rather mocking poem in Draconic focusing on the bullheaded foolishness of the greedy and some rather insulting graffiti of the effects of the various traps on stickmen.
However this is not the end there is one final trap which this corridor has been building up to, as you see the whole point of this corridor is not to really damage the party but to get the characters/players so invested, irate and eager for payback they jump straight in to the final trap.

So hopefully we have a angry and hopefully slightly wounded party at a seemingly dead end with a insulting poem. Anyone searching or inspecting the wall will find that it is a pretty obvious fake wall (DC:15) and muffled sounds of chatter and laughter beyond the wall though anyone listening for an extended period of time will get a Listen Check (DC: 15) notice nothing seems to be clear and the laughter seems to happen regularly.
This is because the noise is been caused by a repeating Ghost Sound in the next room but hopefully the party is too eager for blood to wait and will jump straight in as the door opens.

Opening the door will reveal a 25ft (wide) by 50ft room, numerous spikes and holes from human thigh to head hight line the walls, while the floor is tiled. Sitting 45ft away from the door is a small stone pedestal built into which is a large chest, either side of the chest are unlit brazier stuff with oil soaked rags. This pedestal is the only safe area from the wall trap. If you want to particularly cruel have a illusion of several kobolds sat at table feasting in the centre of the room.

Now the trap in this room is activated by the pressure plates in the floor and uses the following stats:

Harpoon Hall Trap
CR 4; mechanical; location trigger; Automatic reset; Atk +14 ranged 2X(1d8+4, Harpoon); Search DC 20; Disable Device DC 18.
Special properties: 
  • Harpoons are launched from both sides of the room so two attacks are made to see if either side strikes.
  • If the Harpoon does damage it is considered embedded in its target and at the end of each round the trap and the victim do opposed strength tests (Trap at +6) if the victim fails the he/she is pulled 5 feet closer to the wall in the direction they were struck from. 
  • If struck by harpoons on both sides and the strength check is failed the victim takes an addition 1d4 points of damage as they are slowly pulled apart 
  • The victim succeeding a strength check by 5+ can remove a harpoon from their body at the cost of 1d4 damage, a DC 15 Heal check can remove the harpoon without further injury. 
  • If a victim is pulled against the wall then they are attacked as if flat footed using a dagger at +5 to hit each round they remain on the wall. 
  • A harpooned creature must make an opposed Strength check to move more then 30 feet away from the wall section the harpoon came from. 
  • Any harpoon that misses takes a round to be retraced leaving the rope vulnerable to attack.
Safe methods of avoidance include levitation or flight over the floor and crawling on ones belly in the centre line (going to close to either wall runs the risk of been struck by the opposite walls Harpoons due to firing arc).

Since only a single harpoon fires from each wall segment the trap segments can be disarmed by a rogue rather easily if they reach it or if someone has already taken a hit and been impaled. Though a much more brute force method would involve attempting to cut the rope of each harpoon. 
In two such examples I've had a rather nimble party member dodge and weave as the fighter followed catching and sundering a rope each round. While for another party a monk with regeneration managed to get impaled by nearly every harpoon in the room and barely survived as the party rushed to cut them free.

The chest itself doesn't have to be trapped but if your wanting to twist the knife one last time and if the party still hasn't learned then here is my last trap combo.

The chest doesn't have any visible lock but a simple riddle of "I rise only in the breath of the red dragon." is engraved in Draconic on the lid hints that light the braziers is the way to open the chest.
Alternatively a detect magic spell will reveal the link between the brazier and chest and Knock or a DC 25 Strength test can force it open but once the party opens the chest the final chest my final trap begins.
Inside that 5 foot or so chest is a pair of ragged skeletons buried beneath Brown Mold:

Brown Mold (CR 2)
Brown mold feeds on warmth, drawing heat from anything around it. It normally comes in patches 5 feet in diameter, and the temperature is always cold in a 30-foot radius around it. Living creatures within 5 feet of it take 3d6 points of nonlethal cold damage. Fire brought within 5 feet of brown mold causes it to instantly double in size. Cold damage, such as from a cone of cold, instantly destroys it.

The two braziers are within 2 ft of the chest and thus the Mold cause it to swell out to first 10ft diameter then 20ft diameter extinguishing both as it does so. During this there is a good chance it will cover some of the party near the chest who may be also carrying torches which would then make it double in size again as well as extinguishing them leaving the party in pitch blackness.
I like to have the two skeletons to be previous adventurers who were so covered by the mold it was impossible for the kobolds to loot them without killing it entirely so they use 10ft poles to lift them into the chest. However with the mold destroying anything organic the only loot left would be full metal weapons, armour plates, coins and jewellery.

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