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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
Recipe: Twice Baked Potato Casserole
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.