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.

Roasting Chickens and Doors

The Feast / The Adventure / The Recipe

The group that I DM for met to continue their adventures in Phandalin. If you are currently running the D&D Starter Set, beware possible spoilers ahead.

The Feast

I was born and raised in small town Texas, so a large amount of my experience is steeped in southern style cooking. Some southern cooking basics include: cooking with butter, making enough for an army – no matter how many people are coming over, and making sure you say “like my mama makes it” at least four times while cooking.

One of my absolute favorite cooks is Pioneer Woman. She is an amazing cook, hilariously entertaining blogger, and definitely takes southern cooking to another level. Today’s delicious roasted dark meat chicken is based on her recipe here. I added chicken thighs into the mix and tweaked a few things here and there, but this recipe is super easy and leaves you with a tasty chicken dish. The recipe with my added tweaks can be found below.

I was serious though when I said cooking with butter.

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Before you roast the chicken, you basically bathe it in a pan full of butter and spices. I seasoned the butter with seasoned salt, garlic power, and red pepper for a little kick. After thoroughly drowning the chicken limbs in a pool of seasoned butter, I set them on roasting racks and proceeded to brush them with more butter. Seriously, butter on top of butter. I added some black pepper and paprika on top of the butter baste to give the skin some extra flavor.

Speaking of butter, this is the only butter I will ever use now.

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My husband and I went to Ireland last year and were introduced to the joy that is Irish butter. It costs a little more here in the states, but man oh man is it worth the extra coin. I cook and bake with this butter alone now. The taste is way more clean and rich than any processed yellow paste from America. No lie, my chocolate chip cookies became ten times more addictive once I switched to Kerrygold. Dear people of Ireland, thank you for your beautiful country and this heaven in a gold package butter.

So with the power of Irish butter and Pioneer Woman recipes, we ended up with some quite tasty chicken for our heroes’ feast.

Now in our house, you can’t have a feast without bread. I basically married a viking, so meat, potatoes, and bread are a staple for our meals. I have not fully mastered the art of scratch-made yeast rolls yet, so I cheated and bought “Kroger original yeast dinner roll dough”. They make fantastic rolls, so don’t be scared to buy frozen dough. Seriously, all you need is a muffin pan, cooking spray, time enough for the dough to rise, and you guessed it – melted butter for the tops.

Pro tip of the day: If you are ever find your house is just not warm enough to get the dough to rise (yes Texas is cold every great once in a while), a heating pad on a low setting will get those little dough balls on track for dinner.

Another thing about southern cooking is that feasts are always better when you go potluck. You don’t have to shoulder the burden of the whole meal on your own, and you get a nice variety of dishes.
Two of my wonderful adventures brought the best cornbread casserole ever, and some quite tasty (and gorgeous to look at) green beans.

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All in all, it made for a great country style heroes’ feast.

We only use the finest of paper china of course.

Last but not least, never forget the desserts. Maybe it is my inner (and outer) big gal, but you just need something sweet to finish things off. Now I LOVE to bake. My KitchenAid mixer is well loved and definitely well used, but this session my awesome adventures brought the baked goods.

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Whole Foods bakery has some fantastic varieties of cookies and treats. They have made many an appearance at our games. And homemade banana bread, be still my heart. That is one of my favorites, and someone almost earned their way to a DM inspiration die with this delicious loaf of yum.

Of course when you marry a viking, this is what his “dessert” looks like.

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Beast companion Sooba was all to willing to inspect the quality of all food served.

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The Adventure

Once we stuffed ourselves to proper fullness, the adventure began. Since we are all new to this group, let me give you some introductions.

The “Beast” Barbarian
Mordecai Emberbeard
Male Dwarf Barbarian
played by John
The “Trickster” Wizard
Varel Naergel
Male Gnome Wizard
played by Dan
The “Divine” Paladin
Mung
Male Half-Orc Paladin
played by Ross
The “Lost” Ranger
Skylarke Tealeaf
Female Halfling Ranger
played by Delphine
halfling_ranger
Source: RPG Wizzard
The “Bookworm” Druid
Mayastan Kava
Female Dragonborn Druid
played by Shannon
dragonborn_druid
Source: Blogspot
Down with the Redbrands

We started this session immediately after the group had dealt with the Redbrands, the criminal element in Phandalin. They had ventured to the Redbrand hideout to find the leader and run the group out of town.
A little extra back story on our previous session; the last session presented a unique situation for me as a DM. We had two members that needed to step away from our games for a while and two new players that wanted to join the game. It stinks to lose players, but I wanted make sure they could come back one day if they chose to. So my conundrum, hiatus two characters and bring in two new ones all at once. Our bard and monk were mysteriously captured by a magical trap in the hideout, and the group were barred from entering the leader’s study. While looking for another way in, they happened upon our two new characters Mung and Sky in the Redbrand’s dungeon. When they found the leader GlassStaff, instead of fighting the group, he teleported away with the adventurers he had captured, so our players’ characters are still alive but out of game until they group can find them again. Our two new players have also now joined in after being rescued by the group. Problem solved…for now.

After clearing the hideout, freeing our two newest adventurers from the dungeon, and encountering the leader GlassStaff, our team had to decide what to do next. Sky being new to the area asked if this hideout was all the criminal gang had. The Redbrands actually operate out of a tavern at the edge of town as well, so of course Varel suggested they go and finish the gang off and burn their tavern to the ground. Varel is not afraid of some mischief and loves a chance use his fire spells. Varel had managed to take the leader’s glass staff from him before he teleported away, so he suggested he and Mordecai walk through the front door declaring their leader defeated while Sky sneaked in from the second floor balcony and the rest of the group flank from the back of the tavern. In true grand Varel fashion, he walks in the front door with the glass staff in hand proclaiming their wizard leader bested, and Mordecai was in his fully intimidating hybrid weretiger form. Unique quality of Mordecai, he comes from a line of dwarves that have the ability to shift into a large cat form and humanoid weretiger form. It makes for quite an entrance when they are heading into a fight.

weretigerSource: Deviant Art

They definitely surprised the Redbrands in the tavern and took them all out without too much trouble. Mung did have a great moment that had us all laughing. He walks in the backdoor of the tavern and rather than attack, he used the spell Command speaking “repent” to attempt to make one of the thieves turn from his evil ways. Mung is a paladin that actually believes he is the son of The Morning Lord Lathander. He is a half-orc that literally thinks his mother was impregnated by a god. Mung is pretty special. So when the thief succeeded on his constitution save and told Mung to piss off rather than repent, Mung took offense to that. John was about to have Mordecai attack that thief, and Ross asked him to let Mung have that one. He then had Mung punish the Redbrand for his heretical words by way of a morningstar to the head. Don’t blaspheme to Mung, man.

With the Redbands fully wiped out, the group took a cask of ale from the tavern, set the place on fire, and proceeded back to town to celebrate. Picture a dwarf, gnome, dragonborn, half-orc, and halfling walking away from a building on fire all badass style with epic music in the background. They were met by the townsfolk with great appreciation for clearing out the troublesome Redbrands. A night of partying was in order. Varel of course told stories of how he single-handedly took out the Redbands and their leader and showed off his new staff to the ladies. Varel loves any chance to gloat about his triumphs. Mung took this time to speak to the folk in the tavern about the greatness that is Lathander. He wants the world to know about the grace of dear old “dad”. Kava, being the quiet sort, sat back enjoying the sight of it all. The children of the town have been fascinated with her in the past as they had never seen a dragonborn, so before she knew it, she was surrounded by curious kids looking at her in awed reverence. Also, dragonborn tails are apparently the best jungle gym in town.

After a night of well earned revelry, the party rested and immediately set out on the next leg of their journey. GlassStaff after all was just a small fish in the big pond, and they wanted to find out who was orchestrating the woes of Phandalin. The whole adventure started with goblin attacks outside of the town and is culminating to large plot of an unseen evil wishing to claim the long lost mines that once made the town a thriving center. Through intel gathering and a partnership with Sildar Hallwinter, a member of the Lord’s Alliance, the party found their only real lead with in the Cragmaw castle. A long forgotten ruined castle that had become an outpost for goblins, hobgoblins, and other nefarious sort. They hoped here they would find Sildar’s traveling companion Gundren Rockseeker. Gundren is believed to be the last link to finding the Wave Echo Caves and the lost mines.
The group found the castle with no problem and were able to scout an inconspicuous side entrance they felt would give them quiet entrance to the castle. Little did they know that they would face their mightiest foe before they even set foot inside the castle. In true Critical Role like fashion, the group were almost undone by…a locked door. The first approach was to quietly pick the lock. Mordecai is even proficient in lock picking and has the tools. Sadly John rolled pretty low, so Mordecai just could not get the damn thing to open. Sky wanted to try her hand at it, but one low roll and unfamiliarity with how lock picks work led to a broken pick. I am starting to feel bad for them and thinking about lowering the DC on this lock, but then Varel walks up Mr Cocky and says let him try. Low rolls continue and another pick is almost broken. Mordecai has had enough at this point and said screw the stealth and swung his great axe at the door. Unfortunately this is a strong outer door and another low roll…the door was barely nicked. Mung stepped up and took a swing with an axe that deals full damage to wood based creatures. Since the door is not living though, that bonus does not count, and you guessed it, low roll again. The door stands mocking them. Varel gets tired of this all and shoots a fire bolt at the door. Low damage roll leaves the door only lightly weakened, BUT it is on fire now. Mordecai in a fit of rage slams the now lower DC door with his great axe and huzzah they are through. FINALLY IN THE CASTLE.

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An artist I am not, so please know the maps are not very impressive.

Now I know what you are thinking, that much noise to get through the door; something is waiting for them on the other side right? Nope. I rolled perception for every single enemy in the next room every single time they made noise. I kid you not, all 5s and 6s. The MOST unperceptive bunch of goblins you have ever encountered. So the group is expecting their cover to be blown and just waltz into the next room. There are eight, EIGHT, goblins having a meal totally unknowing they are there until that door opened to the dining hall.

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OH, hey guys. How’s it going?

Unfortunately we ran out of time and had to end the adventure at this point. I had an entire castle worth of bad guys ready for the session, and they beat up a door. Gotta love some D&D.

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Next time fellas. Next time.

Now to plan the rest of the castle incursion. This group keeps me on my toes, so I am sure it will be thrilling and require some epic treats.

Until the next adventure, Bon Dungeon Eats!

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Recipe: Roasted Dark Meat Chicken

  • 10 chicken legs with skin
  • 8 chicken thighs with skin
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper (or spicy seasoning of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (or to taste)

Preheat your oven to 400-degrees. Melt your butter in a saucepan and add the lemon juice, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and red pepper. Stir until combined. You can taste the mixture to make sure you have the right garlic/lemon ratio and heat. Add more seasoning as you need to get this mixture the way you like it.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken legs and thighs. With metal tongs, transfer them one by one into the butter mixture and then to a rack over a baking sheet. Once all of the chicken pieces are coated and on the rack, take a pastry brush and coat the chicken pieces one more time. Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice. I used black pepper and a light amount of paprika.

Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, and then check the thigh temperature (165°F is suggested for safely cooked chicken temp). Once the temperature is close to done, turn your broiler on to give them a nice golden color on the skin. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn though. Pull the chicken out of the oven once you are happy with the color and enjoy!