DnD Reviews: Lights Out at the Nightwatch Lighthouse

source: Unsplash

You don’t forget your first is something that I happily apply to a lot of things. About fifteen years later and I still haven’t forgotten my first ever crab cake that I had at Disney World Orlando and I’m thinking I am also unlikely to ever forget my first Dungeons and Dragons adventure that I ran for my group. I’ve run a bunch more since then and I’ll get to them as well in future posts.

Lights Out at the Nightwatch Lighthouse

by David Barrentine

The small coastal town of Pinepass spends its days in relative peace until the nearby lighthouse stops shining. Nobody knows what could be the cause but with reports of one ship already wrecked along the shores it won’t be much longer before others follow. Travel across open ocean to reach the Nightwatch Lighthouse and reignite the flames above while also investigating the other much darker deeds below.

  • Adventure length: A single night’s play.
  • Pages: 6
  • Levels: 1 to 3 (my players were level 3)
  • Players: 4 to 6 (I had 4)
  • Comes with maps
  • Includes, among other things: Ships. Mystery. Cultists. Harpies.
  • Highlight: There’s a harpoon mounted on a ship and Tom was all over it. Like handing an eager kid a new toy.

While I said above that the adventure fills a single night’s play, I split it into two sessions. That’s mostly since we play online and with text only, which tends to stretch the content artificially. Regardless of that, the pacing of the adventure still held up great and I felt that my players were engaged through it all, from having been sent on their little quest, to returning back to shore with a few wounds to lick.

Preparation time was minimal, and I’m thinking I could have run this after skimming the material, so it’s suitable to be played as a quick “omg, I forgot to prepare” session.

And even so it served perfectly as a smaller standalone story that I could customize and add to my larger campaign, adding plot hooks and clues for the story’s overall mystery to be found throughout the adventure. The author enables this quite easily, since even if the adventure is short, it already comes with a solid mystery of its own.

A mystery that remains largely unanswered.

Yep. It’s open ended!

And that’s great, I think, since the players and the GM can decide whether or not they would like to simply return to shore, get their reward and be off to more adventures, or if they would like to get to the bottom of the Nightwatch Lighthouse’s mystery.

I totally and absolutely recommend this adventure!

Available at the Dungeon Masters Guild: Lights out at the Nightwatch Lighthouse

Taff Campaign Diaries: OMG, Content?! Quests?!

One thing I quickly learned when I set out to run a homebrew campaign (especially one that’s meant to be a reasonably flexible sandbox) is that I’m in dire need of adventures. Because once I’d finished outlining the campaign story and making the map, all I had was a lot of space. Very empty space. Imagine Skyrim with a map and all, some vague idea that you are supposed to be fighting dragons, but not only are there no dragons, there’s also not a single quest to be found anywhere on the map. There aren’t even flowers to pick.

What were my players supposed to do?

My go-to reaction was to panic. Which I do a lot.

Since where do I even start? What sort of stuff works as quests and adventures in a game like that? I mean, I’m a writer, right? I can write up a story and I can build conflict and create obstacles for characters, but at this point, I had absolutely nothing to use as a yardstick. Worse still was the thought of cobbling together and scaling encounters (I still don’t understand that bit, but hey).

I did not have to fret for long though, because then I found Adventure Lookup and Dungeon Masters Guild. That, in turn, made my wallet panic. Which is not something we talk about. Sshh~

So, ah, what are those things?

Adventure Lookup is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a place for looking up (*drumroll*) adventures!

You can pick a system (5th Edition in my case), settings (setting neutral), all the way down to environments and common monsters or even items. The filters are extensive, is what I am trying to say, though the one I find most useful is the one that lets me define level range. This made the search for a quest that’d fit a group of level three characters easy.

Didn’t take long, and I’d found a bunch of adventures that not only had encounters and such in it that suited my player’s level range, but also sounded like I could fold them into my campaign.

Which led me over to Dungeon Masters Guild.

DMSGuild (much like its family member DriveThruRPG) is a marketplace for RPG sources. It’s got adventures, rules, toolkits, items, maps… those sorts of things. There’s a lot of content, and after I’d checked out the handful that I’d come looking for after finding them on Adventure Lookup, I fell down a real deep rabbit hole.

Was worth it though. By the time I was done, I had a whole host of small adventures to my disposal and I started placing them on the map around Ved. Each got its own little plot hook and I adjusted them all to fit into the larger campaign and reveal meaningful things about the story.

Now my players just got to find them.

Granted, there’s probably a lot of other places out there that provide the same content as the places I mentioned above. There’s the official books as well, of which I have a bunch, I’ve just found it difficult to customize them.

So far, my players have (almost) completed two of the adventures. And my next planned blog post is a review of the first one that I ran with them, which I think was a lot of fun and deserves its own space on here.

Taff Campaign Diaries: Tom and Sinvik

Art Credit: 
Character art by Deltastic and Saph-y.

Of course the campaign is still going! It’ll hopefully be going for a long while and continue to teach me all those exciting things around DnD, such as making maps, writing campaigns, reading rule books until my eyes bleed, and improvising when the players come up with amazing things. Those sorts of things.

In my next blog post I am probably going to be talking about where our lost souls are right now in their development, alongside of a module/adventure review that I’ve got coming up, but before I get to any of this I really, really, really want to talk about Tomakos and Sinvik a little more. Mostly because I just love talking about them and I love them. Individually and together.

Tomakos Drake belongs to Maegan, and he is the main protagonist in her original novel series, while Sinvik Shielding is mine. Together, we’ve been exploring them (and in my case discovering) over the past two years by playing them in various games, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, and Dungeons and Dragons Online. It was only a natural progression that they’d find their way into a DnD campaign.

So, what’s their deal in Homebound?

Tom arrives in Ved by ship, packing light. He’s got little more than his armour, his weapons, and his winning attitude on him. Oh, and a cat. Sinvik. His guiding light. His anchor.

She’s not always been a cat. It’s a recent thing. Very recent. And she’s certainly not a cat by choice. Though between an agonising death, her soul being pulled apart strand by strand by a curse, and walking the world on four soft paws? What choice did she really have? Better a cat than dead, even if she’s left with an urge to chase butterflies and to purr on occasion.

The curse is a curious thing. It would have tore her soul apart, if not for Tom’s crafty druid friend, who hid her soul by binding her together with a cat. As long as she stays like that, the curse can’t finish what it started.

But no one has got a clue on how to break it.

Thankfully, Tom will stop at nothing to find the warlock who’d cursed her. Heading to the ass end of everything? Psht. Easy. Not worth the mention. That’s what Ved is and no one argues against it. It’s a little known blob on any map and home to no one of import. Used to be it was at least a somewhat decently peaceful place, though that’s changed. What Tom finds as he disembarks, is a land ill at ease. Pirates nip at its heels. Monsters roam its wilds. People vanish into thin air. And those with means to, they pack up and leave for elsewhere.

Not a big deal though. It’s not like he’s here to settle.

Except he also doesn’t have much of a clue on what to do next, save for a vague signature on a half burnt piece of paper. That’s not a lot of a trail, even for someone as good as tracking as him, and so he seeks help from the local adventurer’s guild. Which is doing about as well as the rest of Ved: terribly. It’s fallen out of fashion years ago, its guild hall good as abandoned and empty, and the only member that it’s got left is an old half elf. Rorrik is his name. And even though he’s half blind, broke, and alone, he hasn’t given up tending the guild hall as best as one man possibly can.

The prospect of Tom coming to the guild, to give it some purpose, is enough to excite the old caretaker, and he quickly promises to help. In return, Tom offers his swords and is promptly sent to check on a long abandoned mine a few hours from the hall. One that, Rorrik says, is filled with kobolds that have been sending small parties to harass him most evenings.

But what Tom finds there aren’t kobolds at all. He’s attacked as he approaches, not by a kobold, but by a man. And once he cleared the only still passable mine shaft, he finds a man-made hideout, not a kobold borrow, buried deep into the hollowed out mountain. It’s far from empty, too, and he’s forced to fight a few more people dressed all in thick black robes.

Venturing deeper, and following a rhythmic, metallic GONG reverberating through the air, he eventually finds a large chamber. In that chamber stands a lit brazier, white smoke billowing out from it. Another man, also dressed in black, stands a little in front of it, striking a metal gong while he mutters words under his breath.

Around the brazier, stand a handful of dazed or unconscious figures. They are all dressed in perfectly white gowns. Spotless. Not a smudge on them. And as the man strikes the gong over and over again, whispered words falling from his lips, white tendrils begin to shape from the smoke and drift towards the people in white.

Tom, thinking he’s stepped into some unsavoury ritual, does what any other good adventuring hero does: he interrupts it all.

And something goes awfully wrong. After a blinding flash of light knocks him on his ass, the tendrils fall away from where they hooked themselves into the figures surrounding the brazier, and they all collapse into heaps on the floor. Which at first isn’t all too bad, since they’re all still breathing. A good thing, overall.

Except then a few of them wake up and hoo boy are they confused.

Tom, on some god’s whim, ended up interfering in a ritual (it’s purpose unknown) that caused a few lost souls to be yanked from their perfectly mundane world into a perfectly chaotic one. And just like that, he’s got more than just Sinvik’s curse to worry about, since what sort of hero would he be if he’d left those poor souls to fend for themselves.

And this, my dear readers, is how Tom and Vik got mixed up with the Homebound campaign.

Taff Campaign Diaries: The Cast

Art Credit:
Character art by Trashmuh / Princess-Triton and Saph-y.
Logos and stuff made by Taff with assets from Unsplash.

When I started the campaign, I prepared a handful of level three characters that my lost soul players could shop for. Which put me a little on the spot, since what do I know about what stats a warlock needs?
Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. Mav pulled my ass out of the fire and helped me set them up, and that left me with the time and flexibility to get to doing the really important bits:

Write their physical descriptions and give each of them a life. Because, see, the players (my lost souls) weren’t going to actually know about the lives of the bodies they’d just been put into. Instead, they will accidentally bump into story triggers as the campaign progresses, slowly unravelling their personal mysteries.

Needles to say, this GM is hoping that it will be at the most inconvenient of moments.

But this GM is also not without heart, and so I recruited a guide for them. Or, rather, I sent a character on an important quest, one that made him cross paths with our lost souls.

Tomakos Drake

Guide – Dork – Real Good Hugger

Born into a divine inheritance of murder and bloodlust – oh, and being a werewolf on top of that – Tom tries to make the best of it. He’s a good person, he swears (really, he is), and he even managed to become a knight until word of his true nature got out. Now traveling up and down Faerun, his lycanthropy keeping him unable to stay in one place for long, Tom has all but dedicated his life to adventuring and doing what’s right, battling evil wherever he might find it. Because who says monsters can’t be nice?

Sinvik Shielding

Plot on paws – Not actually a cat

A soul rending curse would have been the end of her, but a druid’s clever work twisted fate the other way around. Now, forced to walk on soft paws (and pretty kittened off about it), Sinvik’s life lies in Tom’s hands. Luckily, Tom would turn entire planes inside out if that’s what it’d take to hear her voice again, and chasing halfway across Faerun to try and catch the warlock who’d almost killed his lover is barely worth the mention.


Cute – Cuter – Burdened by Darkness

This lithe Tiefling with her thick, black hair and those short, stubby horns that look to be a little out of alignment, lived a mysterious and dark life before a lost soul found itself misplaced in her body. Her skin is a dull, milky purple, patterned generously by large, light splotches ranging from stone grey to almost white, and her eyes are a soft hue of silver.

Griphi, so far, has learned that her dreams are full of countless curious eyes whispering dark promises at the edge of the black. She’s found out she’s a warlock, and pierced through the thick fog of memories that aren’t quite hers to learn the use of her cantrips.


Really likes fast cars – Accidentally zaps kobolds

This dark-skinned Aasimar, with her thick locks of black hair textured by threads of grey, has a soft dusting of feathers adorning her shoulder blades and delicate, fiery tattoos dancing down her arms. They match her dark eyes flecked with smouldering fire.  

The misplaced soul who’d found himself in Vana quickly found out two important details: She- he- is no longer a man. And she’s a wizard. Oh, and a Pirate Queen, as it turns out. Wanted for 3000 gold for murder, kidnapping, theft, pillaging, more theft, more murder, and a whole lot of indecency.

Brolla Treegrower

Mmm, food – Soft – Raunchy Jokes

This plump, strong, and sturdy half-orc has tusks almost big enough to pass for a pure blooded one. He keeps his brown hair cropped unevenly and his eyes are a kind, soft green.

Broll is a druid, as the lost soul found out only recently. He’s also a man, so that was a bit of thing for the soul to adjust to. Though at least his name is known for merriment, joy, and good food, rather than plunder. Broll has learned how to bust a nut in the last session, by which I mean he’s found his druidcraft spell and made a small green sprout grow from an actual nut that came from a tree.


Feisty – %&!” – Sleepy

She’s a sturdily built halfling who keeps her hair long with cleanly cut bangs stopping just short above her dark brown eyes. A single ear stud adorns her left ear, simple and with a green stone set in it.

Fen was the most recent lost soul to have joined the group, what with how Tom and Vana intercepted her getting marched towards Seaspite Town so the local clergy could destroy the demon that’d taken over her body. A body that is decidedly more woman than the soul had been used to, and- well- shorter.


Kind of short – Foot, meet Mouth

He’s a bit short for an elf. His long, thick red hair is the colour of greedy fire, offset by the strands of fabric and beads woven into it, which come mostly in hues of green and blues. Sharp, grey eyes laced with shreds of green look on keen an alert, and he’s lithe and well built. Honed, maybe, a little more by intent than his craft. Holes in his ears indicate he’s had piercings. 

The soul placed into Feyrith hasn’t learned much about himself yet, aside of that he’s shorter now than he used to be, and that his dreams are filled with memories of mortal pleasures.

The unChosen

Griphi, Broll, Vana, Fen, and Feyrith weren’t the only characters I’d prepared. They were the ones that my players picked, but I am not about to forget about the ones that didn’t get pulled from the hat.

Patterned in a mottled mess of browns and reds and whites, Bright Button is an especially puffy Tabaxi with a bushy tail and tufty ears. They’re slender, with narrow shoulders and narrow hips, and keen eyes the colour of the setting sun.

Herdek lost his hair somewhere on the way, or decided to turn it upside down, what with his thick, long ashen blond beard that reaches past the middle of his chest. It’s well kept, braided here, cropped there, and how he eats without staining it is anyone’s best guess. His eyes are the colour of a storm encroaching on brilliant blue skies. But unlike a storm, they are steady and kind.

Faegella is a young (and probably still growing) Firbolg with pale, thick skin lightly dusted with mossy green, a colour that matches her large eyes. She has ridiculously long hair the colour of lightly red straw, which she keeps bound in a thick tail.

And here we are.

The characters have arrived on the board and they’ve got a whole world to explore. On top of a cat to turn into a woman again, of course. And spells to learn without blowing themselves up. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll also try and look for a way home.

Taff Campaign Diaries: My first DnD Campaign and it’s an Isekai.


Sometimes in June, I mentioned on Discord how it’d be a lot of fun to try my hand at Game Mastering. And, being surrounded by talented and fantastic writers who are always eager to find another way to procrastinate, I got a bunch of people wanting to play.

To be more precise, it started a little like this:

Continued on to:

And ended with a bunch of excited:

Up until this point, my only proper experience with TTRPGs had been participating in one campaign (which was amazing, by the way), and watching bits of Critical Role. It always seemed very exciting, but also horribly daunting, because rules and numbers and what if I mess up? So when I ended up framing the whole thing as if I was just trying to run a crack campaign, no strings attached, that initial apprehension kind of went poof.

Because what could possibly go wrong with that plan?

I’ll tell you what went wrong:

I got carried away. Not just a little, either. Within the span of a week, I turned my hehe, this crack idea will be a laff into And here is a homebrew continent, a homebrew campaign, and now there are two epic quests too, because why not.


Tools were important too, of course. Oh, and the rule system. Can’t forget that. I’d considered Pathfinder at first, but there was that little problem of me still flailing around uselessly about pretty much everything, and so I picked DND 5e. It seemed like a choice easily backed up by tools that’d make my life easier and were accessible without too much hassle.

Like DnD Beyond. Took about one Hmmm said out loud and then I had suddenly nabbed almost all the rule books from there. How else was I going to make characters for my future players but in this shiny new toy I just got, huh? I like toys.

Then I had to decide on a Virtual Table Top platform, too, because Taff not only likes toys, she also likes maps. Likes them so much, she dug out her old Campaign Cartographer and started making her own, but that’s a topic for another post. For the virtual table top platform I chose Roll20. This one took me a bit longer to decide on, especially since I gave both Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds a try. Ultimately, I decided Roll20 was going to be easier for my players and me. Especially since the majority of playing and rolling is happening on Discord anyway while we have our character sheets stored on DnD Beyond. Fantasy Grounds is a much more complete package and its features would probably be mostly wasted on us.

So. Yeah. Here I was. Armed with DnD Beyond and books and a virtual tabletop, stars in my eyes and ears burning… and with a bunch of amazing friends who were willing to put up with my crazy.

Two weeks later, we started and Homebound was born.

It’s not what it was originally supposed to be. Not entirely, anyway. Where I was first shooting for lots of laughs and very little coherent story, I now have a complex campaign in front of me that my players will need to navigate if they want their characters to return home. It’s scattered all over a large continent and up to them to figure out, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

Or if they’re going to decide to settle down and try corner the donuts market. Are there donuts in DnD?!

Anyway. Welcome to my Campaign Diaries for Homebound. In our next post we are going to meet the cast and find out just what they’ve been up to in our first few sessions.

Though I am also going to be talking about the resources I been finding, what YouTube channels I been hooked on, and where I dig up maps and adventures to seed the world with. It’ll be exciting.