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: 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.

Griphi

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.

Vana

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.

Fen

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.

Feyrith

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.