I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Belkers

Feast Feature / The Adventure

We met to continue our quest to bring down some troublesome giants, so if you are currently running Pathfinder Society – Year of the Serpent or Storm King’s Thunder, beware possible spoilers ahead. You can also catch up on the previous DM Matt adventures here.

Feast Feature

No matter how much I absolutely love to cook for my friends, there are going to be days I just don’t have the time to prepare a feast. I decided on those occasions that I would take some time to just talk about something I love. I may talk about my favorite cooking utensil, new ingredients I am now obsessed with, a favorite eatery that I think everyone just has to know about, or maybe a treat I think no one should live without. This week the group ventured out for a little convention fun and comic book shop adventures. Once we found all of the games and dice we could not live without, we headed to our next session.

I decided that since I could not cook this time around, we had to have some ice cream. Being a typical Texan, I will only buy Blue Bell ice cream. I was raised with Blue Bell, and like many fellow southerners, I consider it the go to brand. My old stand by is Dutch Chocolate. It is a classic flavor that never gets old. I had to pass it over though because a new flavor was just put out by Blue Bell, and luck would have it that it was in stock when we stopped to grab the cold treats.

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source: kxan

Blue Bell Ice Cream – Ice Cream Cone Flavor

This right here is officially my new favorite. The new flavor combines a vanilla ice cream base with bits of dark chocolate covered cone pieces, chopped peanuts, and a fudge swirled in with the bits. It is like taking a drumstick and crunching it up in vanilla ice cream. I won’t drone on about it (seriously though I could because it is yummy), but it is phenomenal. If you have not tried it yet, I highly recommend it.

The Adventure

I entered the world of D&D as an adult, so I missed out on this massive creative world as a kid. That is why I love seeing kids playing board games and getting into D&D. Future adventurer Jade is lucky to be born into this crazy world of geekery.

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Lemmie is an awesome geeky mama

I love that my niece and nephew are now adventurers in training. They have always loved playing games at our house and going to the comic shop with us, so when they expressed interest in playing D&D, I was the happiest auntie in the world. Our awesome DM let my nephew Riley sit in and help him with this session.

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Don’t let that cute face fool you. He is planning our party’s demise as we speak.

Being a “junior DM” tickled Riley to death. He had the opportunity to see a game in action and take a peak into the DM world. I have a lot to teach him though on the side of not being a murder DM. He wanted to throw every monster he could at us. Look at these happy people. They have no idea a miniature doom-bringer is sitting among them.

Oh and if you squint real hard, you can see my niece in there too. She had a blast going with us to the comic shop and playing board games, but she reached her teenage social limit before the game started and had to retreat to snapchat and facebook.

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A wild Kaitlyn appears!

In our last session, we had finished the tasks for Palhuna (not a bad guy after all) and gained the Monadistic Archive for Wulessa. We headed back to the library to present her with our prize in exchange for more knowledge on giants in the area. She was extremely excited to investigate the archive and asked us to assist her right away in a ritual to open the it. We were a little leery of what going to be inside, but curiosity got the best of us.  The ritual completed and it seemed like nothing happened, but of course that is not how D&D works. Wulessa immediately turned into hag and filled the room with a fog.

source: Forgotten Realms Wiki

Wulessa? You feeling ok?

We take care of the hag but quickly realize we are not in Kansas anymore. The door is no longer a door. It has merged with the wall and offers no way out. The windows in the room won’t open as well. We were stuck in a room that looked like Wulessa’s study but had no clear exit. Larken was looking around for a possible exit and realized there was something weird about this place. The curtains in the room billowed as if a breeze was coming through the window, but that was not possible since the windows were tightly shut. He studies on this fact for a minute and POOF disappears. WHAT?! Larken disappeared! Everyone panic!
As we all freak out and try to figure out what the hell is going on, Larken suddenly appears in a bedroom all alone.

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Hello? Guys?

As Larken looked around this new room, we all start to notice the same weird moving curtains with no wind. One by one, we start to POOF out of the fake study into what looks like a child’s room. Vola spots dolls in the corner and immediately starts playing with them. Wulessa appears in a mirror as we all look around the room. She tells us that is appears the Archive is accessing her memories. This room we are in is her childhood bedroom. Vola on a whim asks Wulessa what her favorite book was as a child. Do not ask me why I thought to ask that. I honestly have no clue because Vola is not a massive reader. Though she would likely enjoy a kids book. When Vola located the book, she looked at it confused and showed it to Wulessa. It should be a child’s fairy tale, but the inside of the book is filled with complicated formulas and seems to be more like a calculus book. As Vola was saying this is an odd book for a child to like, POOF she disappears. Not again!

Vola appeared in a strange checkered room with a swirling void to the side of the room. The room itself was strange as it was covered in these luminescent blue and black checkerboard tiles, but having part of the room fall off into a complete void had Vola more than a little confused. She spit in the void to see if it would float away. Oddly enough it seemed to land as if there was an unseen floor in the void. Very carefully she stepped out from the room and found she could walk around in the void on this invisible floor. She noticed some strange crystal like figure in the middle of the void, so she started walking toward it. She noticed as she walked forward, she made no progress at all. The figure maintained the same distance from her no matter how far she walked.
At this point, the other members of the group started to figure out that by noticing what was not right in the memory (wind where there is none, the wrong book in the room), they were able to move on to the next area. As Ren appeared in the new checkered room, Vola started acting like she was floating away in the void. She passed a respectable deception check and made Ren believe she was “floating away”. She of course blew that performance by laughing the second Ren started freaking out. More people started to appear in the room, so Vola walked back from the void to try something a little more productive.

As they looked around this odd room, one of the tiles changed to a picture of an eye and then shifted to a question mark. We guessed that whatever was taking note of Wulessa’s memories must be trying to “speak” to them. We start asking questions like “where are we”, “what are you”, “what do you want”. It shifted between a set of scales and a chain breaking and then reforming. We had no idea what it was trying to tell us, so we proceeded down the only passage we could see.
We entered a room that was a balcony overlooking a room below with a large angel statue opposite the balcony. There were walkways to make way to the statue without falling into the room below. As we made our way on to the walkways, Wulessa’s face appears on the statue. She told us this place is another memory of hers. She and fellow adventurers came here seeking a golden idol. She warns the group that this place is dangerous. Two of her fellow adventurers died here, and we should get out quickly. She then told us to “take this” and a rope appeared before Theren. We now had the Rope of Climbing to help us get to the room below. We did not have much time to figure this out though as two shadowy creatures appeared in the upper area of the room with us. These nasty little creatures where Belkers, and they started moving in to attack us all on the narrow elevated walkways.

belker

source: Legacy of Fire

Nooooooo thank you!

We immediately started to nope the hell out of that part of the room. We did not want to fight these guys, so we tried to find a way out of the room below. Before jumping down with the rest of us, Ren checked the angel statue Wulessa’s face had appeared on, and she found a false compartment holding a glass idol. She joined us below quickly though as the belkers began to close in on her. The only way out of the room was a massive, thick glass door that looked like it should have ropes or chains to raise the door, but of course there were no chains in sight. The group started attacking the door, but it was massive and strong. Very little progress was being made and the belkers where closing in on them. Getting aggrivated, Vola used thunderous smite and blew the door apart. The belkers vanished and the way seemed cleared, but the group found they still could not leave. Oh right. Weird memory rooms. What is out of place? Ren remembered that they idol that Wulessa spoke of what gold, and the idol she found was glass. Bingo! The group POOFED into the next area.

We found ourselves in another checker room, and the eye appeared on the walls again. We asked again what it wanted. It showed us a picture of Wulessa on a scroll, and then the scroll rolling up and being put away. Larken drew a picture of Wulessa on to a scroll he had and presented it to the eye to see how literal it was being. It showed red X and then a picture of rats being swept out with a broom. I guess this unseen figure was growing tired of us and wanted us to get out. Believe me, we were trying to do just that. After not making headway yet again with the eye character, we POOFED into a new room. This time we were in Palhuna’s shop. You know, the guy that was absolutely a bad guy but not really. Palhuna enters the room, but he is not quite right. He looked like Palhuna, but did not speak and seemed to flicker in place even. The fake Palhuna produced a golden key and gestured to a door. This was the way out, and he had to key to leaving. He looked to Ren, held out the key, and put his hand out for her to give him something. She then realized she was holding a scroll, and on this scroll is a drawing of Wulessa. It was almost as if he was saying “give me Wulessa and you can leave”. Giving him the scroll was the group’s way of saying they would not fight him on taking Wulessa’s mind into the archive.
There was no way we were just going to let the archive take her. We were convinced this would kill her. Larken rolled a magnificent slide of hand check and switched the scroll Ren was holding for the one he drew earlier. Maybe we could trick him into letting us out without giving up Wulessa. Fake Palhuna tapped his foot impenitently and shook his head no. I guess you can’t trick someone that controls the entire reality of where you are currently. Damn.

There is no way we are going to give Wulessa up without knowing if she would be safe, and we tell the fake Palhuna no. He did NOT like that answer. We were pushed back to the checker room with the massive void. We see a large figure coming out of the void towards us. You know how I mentioned earlier that Riley was the “junior DM” for this session. Well Matt let him pick a monster for us to fight. He picked this big guy.

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This big iron golem had a ton of damage immunities. Melee fighters like myself are pretty much useless against this guy. Thanks Riley! After some adjustment of tactics, we were able to take the golem down; much to Riley’s dismay. Seriously this kid wanted his monster to win.
Seeing that his golem did not defeat us, the archivist himself decided to be rid of us himself. The crystal figure in the middle of the void started moving our direction quickly. Before we knew it, we had this crazy looking beast to deal with.

archivist

source: Pathfinder Society – Year of the Serpent cover

We managed to defeat the archivist, and Ink got the killing blow, stabbing up through the bottom of the creature and shattering him in a million crystalline pieces. We returned to the real world, and Wulessa was alive and well-ish. She seemed terribly exhausted from the ordeal, but she was very grateful to be alive. She gave Theren the actual Rope of Climbing from her adventuring days as a thank you and told us to return once she has rested to receive the info we were seeking. That was where we ended the session. Riley had a blast even though his monster died. I leave you now with the cutest picture of future adventurer Jade and adventurer in training Riley.

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Until the next adventure, Bon Dungeon Eats!

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Chicken Potpie and Bedroom Suggestions

The Feast / The Adventure / The Recipe

The final encounter has begun in the quest to save Phandalin, so if you are currently running the D&D Starter Set, beware possible spoilers ahead. You can also catch up on the previous Chef DM adventures here.

The Feast

Growing up as a little southern girl, one of my favorite “pop in the oven and go” meals was chicken potpie. Warm, comforting, and can be found in almost any Texas freezer. I decided to take that childhood favorite and scale it up to adventurer’s size feast this week. I found a recipe that I liked as a base and then modified to fit the occasion. The recipe with my modifications can be found below.

I love a good ol’ fashion pie crust potpie, but something pulled me to trying a puff pastry style topper for this feast. I have become a little obsessed with puff pastry every since I tired making beef wellington for the first time. Rather than a sheet of pie crust, this recipe calls for a lattice of puff pastry. It makes for a super flaky top, and who does not like playing with dough.

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You can change out the vegetables to some of your favorites, but I like carrots, potatoes, and peas for this casserole. The classics. I broke out my new favorite Pioneer Woman casserole dish and gave this small frozen classic a “cook for an army” southern style makeover.

This is a great dish and definitely gave me that nostalgic feeling. I will admit however that there were a few mistakes made here. Never shy away from admitting your mistakes. There is not a cook alive that has made all dishes perfect on the first try every time. There are two things I am now going to look out for next time.  I added potatoes to the recipe, and I should have known they would need some pre-cooking before putting them in the casserole, but I competently forgot that step. Lesson learned. If you add potatoes to your potpie casserole, do NOT forget to boil them first so they are slightly softened. If not, you will have some raw potatoes to crunch through.
Mistake number two was not thinking about how doubling the recipe for “cooking for an army” would effect the puff pastry top. Mine was a little doughy in the middle since I did not adjust the timing and temp to let the pastry cook a little longer before it had fully browned. The overall dish was still very delicious.

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Beast companion Kitty made a rare appearance as soon as I pulled the chicken out of the stock pot to cool. She was more than happy to serve as quality control and test the chicken for me.

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One of the best things to come out of an adventurer’s cooking blog is that my players are getting inspired to make their own geeky treats. Delphine and Ross brought an amazing dessert to commemorate the last session’s encounter with the owlbear. They celebrated the newly liberated beast with the absolutely cutest Owlbear Paw Brownies.

Dear lord look at those little almond slice claws. LOOK A THEM! Paws down the cutest surprise of the day. They were equal parts creative and tasty.

Dan was also inspired to recreate a dish from his current gaming obsession Final Fantasy XV. There are tons of recipes to recreate from the game. Seriously a ton. Dan decided to create two versions of the Mystery Meat sushi.  He made one with the king of all meats made of complete mystery parts, Spam.

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Gross looking sodium-filled meat log

Spam is such a paradox “food product”. It smells and looks awful when you take it out of the can. It is horrible for you, but dear God it taste so much better than it really should once you cook it. To off set the crazy bad for you Spam, Dan also made a selection of the mystery meat sushi with tofu. Both versions were extremely tasty.

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And if I do say so, the comparison to in game is pretty damn good.

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Nicely done Chef Dan

During Dan’s sushi making, we realized that Spam is apparently imbued with dog summoning abilities. Our beast companions Sooba and Flynn like to stay close when food is being prepared, but man oh man they were memorized by Dan and refused to leave his side while Spam was being handled.

I guess I now know to keep Spam on hand should dog-kind ever decide to turn on us all and attempt to take over the world.

With copious amounts of delicious food, we were ready to feast and jump in to the end game of our starter campaign.

The Adventure

In the last session, the group bested King Grol and a very sneaky doppelganger, and they finally found Gundren Rockseeker. Recovering from the confusion the doppelganger had created, Sky asked Mordecai if he had the map. He cryptically replied that it was safe. Sky did not know why he was being so secretive, but she chose to believe it was for good reason. They healed Gundren to a stable state, and decided the best course was to get him back to Phandalin to the healers at the Shrine of Luck. Kava beast shaped into a horse to pull Gundren along on an improvised stretcher, and the group headed back to town.

Once Gundren had recovered enough to speak with them, Mordecai asked to speak to Gundren alone. Dwarf to dwarf. He first told Gundren of his people; the weretiger dwarves of Giants Run. He even shifted to show Gundren he was being truthful. He wanted Gundren to know he could trust him. He then gave Gundren back his map and told him there were people looking for him and his map. More than just the goblins that had captured him. Mordecai explained that he is employed by the El Ahimar to find people or items for pay. He normally asks no questions and delivers the item/person as contracted. It is not his place to assume the purpose these people are meant to be found is either for evil or for good. It is merely his job to track. Mordecai had been given a contract to deliver Gundren. Like all other contracts, there is no reason why. Just a name and a general area of where they can be found. Of course as this adventure has continued to unfold, Mordecai is fairly certain that this contract is because of the Echo Wave Cave. There as no way he was going to turn over a fellow dwarf that sought to recover and restore a dwarven forge. He asked Gundren to make another map, one that looked close to the one leading to Wave Echo Cave but with changes that would not lead to the entrance right away. Maybe the forge could be reclaimed before this unknown contractor found the cave. Gundren agreed as long as Mordecai promised to help clear the cave and reclaim the forge for him.

Up until this point, the other members of the group had no idea that Mordecai was a tracker for a criminal organization. Though unsure what that would mean in the future, he did show by not turning over Gundren that his involvement with the El Ahimar was not malicious in nature. They all headed out to find Wave Echo Cave to clear it out per Gundren’s wishes. They were well on the way to starting the final conflicts of this campaign, and conflicts there would be.

No there is not a frost beholder in the cave. He is a placeholder for a mini I could not find online.

When the group entered the massive cave entrance, they found the camp the Rockseeker brother had set up as a base before entering the full cave. Unfortunately while Gundren was out to get more supplies and to hire help to clear the cave, the camp was ambushed. They found his brother Tharden’s body in the cave, killed by the ambushers, and Nundro was no where to be seen. They had to proceed further if they hoped to find Nundro and clear the ambushers out of the cave.

This place is MASSIVE, so I started printing the maps rather than hand drawing them.

There was a 20 foot drop into a cavern leading to the North or South-East. Having no real bearings on which way best to go, the team decided to head northward further into the massive cave complex. Most of the group passed their strength checks and descended safely down into the cavern. Unfortunately the two smaller members of the group rolled really low and fell straight over the edge. Luckily Mordecai, in hybrid form, and Kava, naturally large as a dragonborn, reacted quickly catching Sky and Varel before they fell headfirst into the ground. They all found themselves in a tangle of winding tunnels. Some branching to new tunnels, other dead-ending into piles of rubble. Wanting to be meticulous in their investigations, the team made sure to check every dead end. Unfortunately for Sky, the tunnel she picked to investigate contained an Ochre Jelly waiting for lost creatures to devour.

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source: Sword Coast Legends Wikia

Gross. Gross. GROOOOOOOOSSSS!

The jelly oozed from the cracks in the walls and immediately attacked Sky. Being too close to use her customary bow and arrow attack, Sky attempted to slash the jelly with her short sword. Unfortunately when she landed two strikes on the jelly, it split off two more jellies. Ochre jellies have a bad habit of doing this when they take lightening or slashing damage. The rest of the group rushed back from their respective dead end investigations to help keep the jelly from dissolving Sky. They dispatched the jelly(s) and decide to stick together in these tunnels from now on.

Winding through many possible twists and turns, the team found their way into a large cavern with a pool of stagnant water. Finding no other creatures in this cavern, at first they could only see a single staircase leading into another tunnel; but as Mordecai investigated the pool further, he found a small opening that seems to be the source of the water slowly trickling in. The space is far too small for him to swim through in his large hybrid from, so he shifted to his full cat from to progress further down the passage.

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brb guys

As he made his way down the small waterway, his keen senses picked up the sound of distant voices. He stopped short of the opening to the next cavern hearing more voices as he approached. He reported back to the group on knowing the next cavern over had multiple people moving about. Rather than trying to squeeze the entire group through the mystery passage, they decided to see what was up the stairway first. So many choices! Learning their lesson from the Cragmaw Castle endless fighting, the team moved as stealthy as possible. They found a door slightly ajar and were able to observe the hobgoblins inside without alerting them. After discussing at length what they should do next, Mordecai rushed in and gave the closest hobgoblin a massive scare. How often does a massive black and red striped weretiger run into your room claws and teeth bared?

The fight progressed as usual with your customary melee, ranged, and spell attacks; but in grand Varel fashion, our favorite gnome wizard found an opportunity to put his unique spin on this fight. As they all entered the room with the hobgoblins, they noticed that directly across the room was another door; but for some reason, the hobgoblins are barricaded this door with beds and mattresses. One of the hobgoblins started pulling the improvised barricaded down in order to escape or to possibly get reinforcements. Varel cast Suggestion on the hobgoblin and told him to “stack all of the mattresses in this room in front of that door”. The hobgoblin failed his saving throw and proceeded to re-barricade the door, in the middle of battle, while Varel cackled with laughter. As his fellow hobgoblins fell in battle, all this guy could think is “I gotta block this door!”. Varel was enjoying this so much, that when the other enemies were all cleared, Varel told the team to wait to attack his mattress moving friend. He wanted to revel in the comedy of the situation for as long as possible.

Incidentally, the work the hobgoblin did on this door made for a nice safe resting place for the group once they finally dispatched him as well.  They settled in for a long rest as they realized this was going to be a large endeavor to find their way through this entire complex cave system. They have no idea just how massive this place is. For reference, they only made it through this much of the cave:

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That was where we ended the session for now. They have a long way to go still and PLENTY of bad guys to contend with on the way. Who knows? Maybe there will be more mattress stacking to entertain Varel.

Until the next adventure, Bon Dungeon Eats!

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Recipe: Puff Pastry Chicken Potpie

This recipe comes from a Taste of Home and can be found here.

I made a few modifications to the recipe. I did use frozen peas, but I decided to buy fresh carrots rather than frozen. If you want to use fresh carrots as well, wash, peel, and cube them in prep for the potpie. I also boiled a whole chicken with some spices rather than using the called for chicken breast and can broth. This let me have white and dark meat chicken to shred and some homemade broth for the casserole. You do not have to make your broth. I just like to do this when making a chicken based casserole because it lets me put my chosen flavors in the broth as it cooks the chicken.

I also included potatoes in the recipe. To include potatoes, you will need to peel and cube your potatoes and boil them until they are starting to soften but are not fully cooked through. Add in the precooked potato cubes in step four of the recipe with all of the other vegetables.

A warning on the puff pastry top for the casserole. I was making a very large casserole, so I doubled most of the ingredients. If you plan to do the same, you will need to adjust your timing and oven temp so the pastry has a little more time to cook completely. Mine was a little doughy still in the middle, so I suggest bringing the temp down a little so you can cook longer before the pastry has fully browned. That or you can prepare in two smaller casserole dishes at the recipe’s noted temp and timing rather than one large dish.

One modification that I did not make but thought would be a good addition was to add in some sliced or cubed mushrooms. I like mushrooms in everything though.

Twice Baked Potatoes and a Double Dose of Malice

The Feast / The Adventure / The Recipe

Our adventures in Phandalin continue, so if you are currently running the D&D Starter Set, beware possible spoilers ahead. You can also catch up on the previous Chef DM adventures here.

The Feast

Normally there is a bit of a theme to what I cook for our sessions. Sometimes it’s rustic cooking, southern dishes, or all geeky desserts. This session though, we decided to go all over the map. I knew I wanted to make some twice baked potatoes, but the rest evolved like pregnant woman shopping for groceries right before lunch. Pure craving based decisions.

I found a recipe for a twice baked potato casserole that I had to make. It looked delicious and gave me a chance to use my new Pioneer Woman casserole dish.

20170205_115930The recipe can be found below.

Fair warning, it makes enough to feed an army, so be prepared with a very large mixing bowl for the prep. Also, when you are mixing, I would add the milk slowly and mix as you go. I dumped the milk in without realizing it was going to make things a little soupy. Don’t get me wrong, it was still absolutely delicious, but there was some gloopy factor with mine.

Once I had the potato goodness decided, things descended into the “oh shiny” realm of meal planning. I decided some pork cutlets would go nicely with a potato dish which is not left field at all…yet.
Since pork cutlets are so thin, you only need to pan-sear them a short amount of time on each side. You can go with a light seasoning, or you can marinade for some extra set in flavor. I mixed some minced garlic, vegetable stock, and melted butter to give the pork a little flavor bath beforehand.

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I sprinkled a little salt, pepper, and a tiny pinch of cayenne on the pork cutlets before I seared them. These are super simple and fast to cook, so they are easy to add to any meal.

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I promptly decided that we needed naan for this meal. I love naan, so I will often insert it into pretty much any meal, Indian in nature or not. I am still not a bread making expert (I’m working on it), so I bought my favorite pre-made brand.

Hand-made naan is the best, but Stonefire is really fantastic for the “still learning” bread makers like myself.
Beast companion Flynn agrees with our choice of naan with the meal.

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Now since I wanted naan, hummus was a logical addition. Who does not love some red pepper hummus with their baked potato casserole?
PITA CHIPS! We need those too. Imagine a chunky Texan girl wondering around a Kroger and shouting this as she puts everything you can find on an end cap into the basket. I swear I get distracted when food shopping like a little kid on a sugar high.

You know what goes with a southern casserole, pork, and Indian bread? Kolaches of course. See what I mean about random cravings? Our favorite rogue and paladin duo brought a delicious variety of treats from Kolache Factory. If you have one of these around your location, stop by. They have great savory and sweet kolaches.

Fun Fact Time: Texans have a huge love of kolaches. Especially if you live anywhere near Austin. There is a place outside of West, Texas called the Czech Stop. It is gas station off I-35 with a kolache shop inside. It does not look like much from the highway, but this place is massively famous here in Texas. There is always a line out the door for these kolaches, and I am biased living not too far(ish) from West, but man oh man they are fantastic. If you drive down I-35 in central Texas and don’t stop at the Czech Stop, you will get surprised gasps all around.

Obviously we had way more food than necessary for this adventure, so the session began with our overstuffed groans of contentedness.

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The Adventure

We left off on our last adventure with the group walking right into an encounter with a band of very oblivious goblins. Despite me rolling numerous perception rolls as the group bashed away at the outside door, the eight goblins in the dining hall did not notice the noise coming from the backdoor. The goblins remained completely unaware of the party until Mordecai opened the door to the dining hall. Fighting ensued, and Varel decided to cast a flaming sphere to try to take out the boss in the room. In the process, he lit one of the very large dining hall tables on fire. Varel really likes his fire.
With chaos erupting from the growing fire, the group focused on the boss goblin; and as his forces scattered about, the leader went down fairly quickly. Seeing their shot caller go down, the other goblins lost their will to fight and attempted to run away. Kava acted fast and put herself between two fleeing goblins. She cast thunder wave and annihilated them both swiftly. Unfortunately thunder wave also lets out a loud boom that is audible within 300 feet of her. The castle is big, but not over 300 feet big; so all surprise and stealth has effectively been taken away. Monsters in the immediate area rushed in to attack after hearing the boom, and it became clear that it was going to be constant fighting from here on out.

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source: Myinstants

…shit

Kava’s luck did not improve as they progressed through the castle. She beast shaped into a wolf, and while backing away from a door for a better position to strike anything that may come through that door, she managed to step on a trip wire triggering a cave in where she was standing. Hearing yet another loud noise, the hobgoblins in the next area rushed in to attack the group. The non stop fighting continues as the group dispatches the newest appearance of baddies without major indecent.
As they made their way through the castle, they found a room with a bloodied alter and goblin worshipers bowed before it. These were zealot followers of the gnome and dwarf hating god Maglubiyet. Seeing the group enter, the worshipers rushed them hoping to add them to the sacrifice on the bloody alter. The group has dealt with many a goblin, so these zealots were not too difficult to deal with. However, as the zealots started to go down, the leader starting whistling to unseen help. Mung, being a half-orc of high goodly religious conviction, dispatched the lead worshiper of the heretic god with a mighty blow from his mace. Unfortunately as he was making mince of the leader’s face, two large gricks rushed into the room just in time to see the death of their keeper.

source: Epic Path

Ewwwwwww

These nasty little fellows took offense to Mung’s actions and immediately attacked him. The group was able to do away with the two slithering face grabbers, but Mung did take some serious damage during the fight. A short rest with some much needed healing was in order before they moved on. Despite his brush with monstrous face chewing, Mung was ecstatic to find a shrine in the next room depicting many deities, including dear old “dad” Lathander.

Refreshed and ready to proceed, the group moved on hoping to find Gundren. They encountered more hobgoblins and attempted to lure them out using an illusion of Sky running from their position. Unfortunately the hobgoblins had been waiting for the group after hearing the loud boom, so they were not easily fooled into the trap. The hobgoblins were dispatched fairly easily, and the group made their way into what appeared to be a barracks for the brunt of the hobgoblins they had faced so far. While investigating this room, they heard scratching and muffled noises coming from a locked and barred door. Unsure if this was Gundren Rockseeker or another waiting monster, Mordecai and Kava tried to listen for clues as to what may be waiting on the other side of the door.
The noises they heard were definitely not human and seemed like they may be some kind of beast. Feeling like they must be getting closer to the final encounter of this castle, they opted to conserve some energy and spells and bet on this possibly being a beast looking to escape rather than fight. Mordecai retrieved a crate of salted meats from a nearby storeroom and slid a few pieces under the door to see the reaction of the beast. Hearing sounds of ravenous eating and eager scratching for more food, the group placed the crate in the middle of the room and stood back leaving a clear path to the crate. Varel used mage hand to open the door from a safe distance, and a VERY hungry owlbear burst from the room with wild eyes and a slobbering maw.

Monster_Manual_5e_-_Owlbear_-_p249

source: Forgotten Realms Wikia

It’s so CUTE but oh man it can KILL you!

Their planning paid off because luckily it was more interested in eating the meats and escaping the castle than tearing their insides out. They were able to move on without harming the captive creature. See kids, you can solve problems without fighting!

They made their way to the last room of the castle to find a large grizzled bugbear named King Grol holding an unconscious Gundren at knife point. He demanded 1000 gold or he would kill Gundren and never tell the group where to find Gundren’s map to the Wave Echo Cave. Being a fairly new adventuring band, they had no where near 1000 gold to pay off King Grol, and with the element of surprise being taken away, there was little hope they could attack before Grol killed Gundren.
Things looking grim, Mordecai pulled off a truly epic move that likely saved Gundren from certain death. He agreed to pay Grol the 1000 gold and proceed to throw a “sack of money” to Grol as payment. As soon as Grol caught the bag, a cloud of two doses of malice poison exploded from the bag blinding Grol instantly…for 8 hours. This massive boss encounter has now been turned into a bugbear madly fumbling around as the group proceeded to hand him his own ass. Sometimes a DM can plan an intricate fight, and then have your boss completely disabled by a clever player. I’m not bitter at all. I swear…

So the group had it made in the shade. No problem. Walk in the park. THINK AGAIN!
As Sky backed up from King Grol to get a good bead on him (rangers shoot things after all), she was suddenly grappled from an unseen assailant. Waiting in a small room to the side of Grol’s quarters, a female drow seized the opportunity to attack as soon as Sky stepped in front of that door. Sky feels the arms wrap around her and a sharp pain in her side. This counted as a surprise attack from the held action of the drow, and as bad luck would have it for the group, the drow’s initiative hit next. She disengaged from Sky, grabbed something from under a close by bedroll, and headed out of the room. Sky was able to perceive that what the drow had grabbed was a map, so the group knew this had to be Gundren’s map to the Wave Echo Cave. Jeez Grol, crap hiding place much?

Mordecai and Kava broke away from the fight to pursue the drow. In Kava’s fast wolf form and Mordecai’s long stride as a hybrid, they were able to keep pace with the drow. The drow could tell that escape was not going to happen, so she turned to fight her pursuers. While this chase was happening, Varel, Mung, and Sky neutralized Grol and stabilized Gundren. Mung went after Kava and Mordecai while Varel and Sky stayed back to cover the interrogation of Grol. The drow attacked Mordecai, stabbing at him with her dagger. When she hit though, she revealed more than she intended. In Mordecai’s hybrid form, he becomes immune to bludgeoning damage, so when he took no damage from what looked to be a slashing weapon, he knew something weird was going on. Before he could really consider it more, Mung arrived and as Kava knocked the map free from the “drow’s” grasp she and Mung began holding the “drow” at bay so Mordecai could grab the map and run. He shifted to his full cat form and proceed to dash far away from the fray.
Seeing Mordecai take off into the castle, the “drow” darted through the door to the hobgoblin barracks and locked Mung and Kava out. As the “drow” ran, Kava did get an attack of opportunity, bit the “drow”, and rolled a good perception; so she noticed the blood of the “drow” was a strange purplish color. What is the deal with this lady? Sky was still holding between the barracks and Grol’s quarters, and I will admit I enjoyed the confusion in the moment I told Delphine “as you wait, Mung comes out of the barracks in front of you”. Now Delphine knows Mung is not in the barracks, but her character has no clue where Mung is currently. Unless she rolls well on insight, so has no idea that is not really Mung. She did not roll well on insight.

The “Mung” grabbed Sky and put his mace to her throat. He shouted demands that her friends return with the map or she would be killed immediately. Mordecai, Mung, and Kava did roll a high enough perception to hear this yell, so they began to return to Grol’s quarters. Mordecai made a quick stop at a grain barrel though and stashed the map before returning. Imagine Mung’s surprise when he came back into the room and saw himself holding Sky captive. As the group was left scratching their heads at this situation, Sky was able to break the grapple and begin attacking the “not Mung, Mung”. At this point it became all hands on deck attacking this creature, and Sky luckily landed the killing blow. As she killed the “not Mung”, she saw the creatures face begin to haphazardly change between multiple visages until it became a mostly featureless purple humanoid and fell dead to the floor. Bum bum buuuuuuum, doppelganger.

Doppelganger-5e

source: Forgotten Realms Wikia

Shifty bastard. ZING

And on that strange note of “what the hell is going on here”, that was where we ended the session. The plot thickens, and our group is left to wonder what they will run into next.

Until the next adventure, Bon Dungeon Eats!

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Recipe: Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This recipe comes straight from my favorite Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, so the recipe can be found here.

One small step I added, when I was finishing the casserole, I turned on the broiler before I took the dish out and let the top brown a little. If you want to brown the top, make sure to keep a close eye on it so it does not burn.

Don’t forget it makes enough to feed an army, so be prepared with a very large mixing bowl for the prep; and when you are mixing, I would add the milk slowly and mix as you go. This will keep you from ending up with an over soupy mix.

Dragon Eggs and Gambled Years

The Feast / The Adventure / The Recipe

While I love DMing, I do get to kick back and enjoy being an adventurer as well. The group I play with as a character met to continue our quest investigating increasing giant activity. If you are currently running Pathfinder Society – Year of the Serpent or Storm King’s Thunder, beware possible spoilers ahead.

The Feast

This week I wanted to take one of my favorite baked goods and put a little D&D spin on it. I love making cake balls because they are fairly easy and really versatile on the variety you can make. My old stand by, and viking husband’s favorite, is strawberry cream cheese cake balls with a dark chocolate shell.
The latest story-line for Critical Role has left me with dragons on the brain; especially red dragon eggs, so I decided to take my cake ball recipe and tailor it to a dragon egg theme. The recipe can be found below.
Like all cake balls, you first have to make a delicious cake (in this case a Pillsbury Funfetti cake) and absolutely destroy it so you can roll it up into bite size spheres.

Well not quite spheres this time around since I was going for the egg shape. If you have never made cake balls, you take a freshly made cake, mush it into bits, add icing to give it some sticky/solidness, and roll them up to your desired shape/size. Now don’t obsess over the shape too much to start. You will put these in the fridge for a bit to stiffen up some, so you can finish out shaping them before you coat them in the chocolate.
I wanted to get some extra texture with the shells on these, so I took some red sugar sprinkles and mixed in them in with the melting chocolate.

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It took so much will power to not just eat this with a spoon.

It gave the chocolate a nice shimmer and extra crunch. I did not want to go for a perfect smooth egg look. In my mind, a red dragon egg would be housed in a hot lava filled cavern. I wanted to go for a cooled lava texture as if the eggs were coated in lava to give them a hard protective shell and be encased in the heat. I made sure my chocolate was a little thicker to get that caked on look and then added a touch more red sprinkles just to give the eggs some extra shine. I absolutely love how they turned out!

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Seriously, I took a bajillion pictures of them.

Most importantly, they tasted great too. I love it when a baking project turns out. Believe me plenty of them absolutely do not. Cake balls though are normally the more cooperative variety of  baking endeavors.

Speaking of tasty baked noms, Justin and Raven broke out some of the best Oreo truffles I have ever had.

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Sweet, rich, and absolutely to die for. Not to mention they were a great pairing with the dragon eggs.

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Best friends forever.

Since I took the baking route this time around, the rest of the group brought the savory goods. Raven provided a game night favorite.

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Pigs in a blanket, YEAH! Easy, delicious, bite-size, and a staple for gaming. My mom would make this little treats for our game nights, so I was probably more excited than normal when she brought these out.
Now I know pizza is pizza and there is a million and one types and brands, but the pizza Lemmie brought to cook was down right delicious. I like pizza just like 99.9% of the rest of the world, but finding a brand you can cook at home that tastes fantastic can be difficult.

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This right here, Mama Cozzi’s Pizza Kitchen, yea ma’am. Great take and bake that you can get from Aldi. Just like I said last week, don’t be afraid to buy things frozen because you really can find something that tastes homemade.

Time to chow down and prepare for our next adventure.

Lemmie’s little future adventurer Jade was saving her energy for the battles to come.

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And beast companion Jake was on standby for any treats that could be sent his way.

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I love this little guy. I try to steal him every time we come over.

The Adventure

Just like last week, I will give everyone a little intro to our adventuring party.

The “Nature-loving” Druid
Sariel Oakenheel
Female Elf Druid
played by Raven
elf_druid
Source: Deviant Art
The “Giant Expert” Rouge
Iniko Tealeaf
Female Halfling Rouge
played by Lemmie
halfling_rogue
Source: we are Rogue
The “Cautious” Warlock
Theren Evenwood
Male Half-elf Warlock
played by Justin
halfelf_warlock
Source: Deviant Art
The “Death-watcher” Cleric
Larken Ironwood
Male Dwarf Cleric
played by John
dwarf_cleric
Source: rpg setting
The “Mysterious” Sorcerer
Renata Valkaria
Female Tiefling Sorcerer
played by Melany
The “Missing” Barbarian
Viclannan Ironhouse
Male Dwarf Barbarian
played by Johnny
dwarf_barbarian
Source: Deviant Art
The “Joy-filled” Paladin
Vola Helder
Female Half-orc Paladin
played by ME!
halforc_paladin
Source: wikia
The “Killer of all you love” DM
Matt Abernathy
Male Human Dungeon Master
played by Matt
dm
Source: wikiHow
Don’t book a judge by his lover

We had made our way to Daggerford in our previous session and needed more information about the increase in giant activity in the area. After meeting our newest member Ink, and making a deal with a seriously shady individual, we were out fulfilling the requests for “Mr McShadyassguy”. He had asked us to trade some goods with a band of gnolls for him, clear some entity out of a mask, and procure a mirror by way of gambling…with years. Seriously this guys is SOOOO shady. We had all pretty much decided he needed to go after we finished up these tasks. We could not let him keep conducting such shady deeds in town.
We started the session after we had dealt with the gnolls previously and discovered the cargo he was trading for were baby white lions. Unfortunately a low perception roll on the crates did not show they had what appeared to be breathing holes. Larken tossed one of the boxes to open it, and well yeah the baby lion inside did not survive. Sari was so very upset about that one. Thankfully after realizing what was inside, we stopped Larken from breaking the other box in the same manner. That baby lion, while freaked out, was quite alive. We decided to go ahead and clear out the mask. Our cleric Larken activated the mask, and a bunch of nasty little Magmin popped out. Not knowing what we would face, we tired to talk to the first one that popped out. It just took off towards some bushes hell bent to catch them on fire. Great, little pyromaniacs.

So in grand adventurer fashion, we proceeded to lay into the little trouble makers, hoping to make short work of them. Too bad they had the unfortunate side effect of exploding when you kill them. Man that splash damage was a bitch. Despite that unpleasant surprise, we were able to finish the lot of them off without massive loss.
Now we had to decide what to do “Mr CreepyMcCreeperson”. Do we give him the baby lions and mask, or do we take him out? I mean come on!? Who trades for rare baby lions with shady gnolls and has a mask that contains exploding fire creatures? Bad guys, that’s who. We needed to make some stops before we dealt with this “totally a bad guy”, so the group split up and finished out some to-dos.
Ren and my character Vola met with the future wife of the city’s new duke to deliver the unfortunate news that her grandfather had passed. Fun stuff right? While we dealt with that grim task, Sari took some time to comfort the baby lion. She loves all things nature and animal, so she had him all fed, comforted, and named by the time we came back. Larken had waited by the town market with the trade goods owed to “absolutely a bad guy”. A random passerby stopped thinking Larken was selling said goods at the market. Well of course he was. Knowing we were not going to be dealing with “I swear he is really a bad guy” much longer, Larken began selling the goods. He even set up an area where we could give blessing from his god Kelemvor…Lord of the Dead. A mom stopped and asked him to set her mischievous son straight, so Larken proceeded to tell the young boy about the city of the dead and all the horrors that await the faithless and bad little boys. The little boy ran away crying, and the mother, very satisfied, dropped silver in Larken’s donation box.
While Larken made a quick sliver off the people of Daggerford, Ink and Theren returned to the town library to see what they could find on the giants in the region, and Ren and I asked around for some information on possible wild life reserves for the baby lion. We asked a town guard about what one might do with wild life they came upon, and he told us of an oddball townsfolk that had a sister that ran a wild life reserve. That oddball townsfolk turned out to be “HE’S A BAD GUY DAMN IT!”. Of course. OF COURSE! Apparently despite his creepiness, that guy is some sort of philanthropist and was likely saving the lions from the gnolls. The mask could only be used to trap fire based creatures, so he was clearing it out to possibly catch more. ARGH! Come on!

But wait! We still had to deal with the last task. He wanted a magic mirror from this woman who was doing research on how to harness time. The only way to get the mirror was to gamble 20 years of your life to her research. Now that is some bad guy like stuff there, right? At this point future adventurer Jade was awake and completely enthralled in this quest.

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Little known fact, vikings have natural baby soothing abilities.

The members of the group with longer life spans stepped up to gamble the years. The game was called 20 bones, and you could bet years to add a D20 to your roll. For each D20 that you rolled higher than her, you got your bet year for that die and one of her years back. For each D20 lower than the one she rolled, you lose your year to her and she keeps hers. She had 20 years in the pot, and the 20 years from our group was split between Sari, Larken, and Ink. Well, despite their best effort, and ton of slight of hand checks, our group lost all 20 of our years. Luckily the price of the mirror was simply to play, but we had hoped to not have 20 years sucked out of our friends. And when I say sucked out, that was exactly how she did it. They were hooked up to a crazy magic and science based machine that sucked the years from a tube shoved down your throat. Ouch.
So through the weirdest game possible, we had this mysterious mirror to give to “I’m still not convinced he is not a bad guy”. When we give him the baby lion, he tells us it was in fact a gift for his niece to take to the wild life reserve his sister has. That mask? He had told us about an abandon warehouse far outside of town where we could clear out the mask. Oh yeah, that was probably a better idea than the edge of town and fairly thoughtful to others’ safety. Yeah well that mirror, surely that is something evil. Kinda. Apparently the mirror can be used to trap people in it, AH HA, but he was trying to get the mirror to rescue an adventurer that had been trapped inside. Oh, so he really is a good guy. DAMN IT!

So here we were about to take out a guy we thought was evil, and he turns out to be some creepy version of Mother Teresa. Crap. Vola was trying to glean a pearl of wisdom learned from this almost debacle, and unfortunately she is not the most intelligent of the group; so the lesson we are left from all this is to “never book a judge by his lover”.

Until the next adventure, Bon Dungeon Eats!

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Recipe: Red Dragon Cake Balls

  • 1 box cake mix (I used funfetti mix to give extra texture)
  • 1 16 oz. container of icing (I used cream cheese icing)
  • oil (for cake mix – see box for amounts)
  • eggs (for cake mix – see box for amounts)
  • 2-3 bags of melting wafers (I used ghirardelli melting dark chocolate)
  • red sugar sprinkles

Prepare the cake as instructed on the box. Once the cake is ready, set it aside and allow it to cool completely. If you try to make the cake balls while the cake is still warm, they will not keep their shape.
Take the cooled cake and crumble it up in a large mixing bowl. Add roughly half of the icing to the crumbled cake and mix together. You want the texture to be soft but firm enough to shape into balls. If the mix is still too crumbly, add more icing a tablespoon at a time until it is a good shaping texture. If you put in too much icing, it may be too mushy to shape, so add slowly and test often.
Once the mix is right, shape into roughly egg size/shape balls. Don’t worry about the shape being perfect at this stage. You will be able to shape them more before you add the chocolate shells. Place them on a plate or cookie sheet as you go and transfer them to the refrigerator to set for at least an hour.
Once the cake balls have stiffened in the refrigerator, melt your chocolate wafers by the instructions on the bag. For the dragon egg texture, you want the chocolate to be a little thick. Add the red sugar sprinkles to the melted chocolate. Just sprinkle in enough to give the chocolate a little texture, but not too much so the chocolate becomes too clumpy.
Take each egg and roll in the chocolate mix. Be messy with it because you are not going for perfect. You want that rough rolled on look. If you did want perfect smooth eggs, place all of the eggs on baking racks and pour the chocolate evenly over them. As you coat the eggs, sprinkle your red sugar sprinkles over the tops to give them the extra shimmer. Place them on baking racks (or the same plate/cookie sheet if you do not have racks), and transfer them back into the refrigerator to harden completely. You will notice the chocolate hardens quickly even before you put them in the refrigerator, so it should only take 30 minutes to an hour before they are fully set.