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Willow Palecek
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Like D&D? Like Warrior Princesses? I wrote one of the adventures for Tales of the Warrior Princesses, now on Kickstarter.

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Conclave Ashcan is now available! Just $10.

#Fastcast Episode 43: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

We talk about Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

You can listen to our full playsession here:

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Hi Everyone!

My game that needs playtesting is called Exploding Kingdoms! It's a high-action tactical combat roleplaying game game, akin to D&D 4E, Final Fantasy Tactics or Descent. It does what it does very unabashedly, and has some storygamey bits to keep things moving along. The setting is a high-gonzo mashup of elemental mecha, gunmages, explodomancers, heroes with giant swords, and a playable race that is basically sword-elementals.

We have a playtest adventure and rules all ready to go and ready for download- click the link on this post and then click on the big red 'playtest' button.

What we're looking for:

A group of GM + 3-5 players to make characters and play the adventure featured on the website. It should take a single 3-4 hour session to do so.

What we want to know is:

Does the game work without one of the designers at the table? Are the rules clear enough to communicate how to play the game? Are there any concepts that seem unclear or need additional explanation? Did the power balance of the character options seem right- did some classes feel more powerful than others, and why?

Thanks! We've been developing this game for about three years, and are excited to be looking for beta testers.

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#Fastcast Episode 42: Stranger Things

Things get even Stranger than usual on the Fastcast, when we discuss the Netflix series Stranger Things.

Forge Midwest 2017 will be held April 7-9.


If you are the sort of person who is predisposed to buy a gift for the girl who has everything, you can see what she doesn't have on her Amazon wish list. 

#Fastcast Episode 41: Where No One Should Ever Go, Part II

We finish up our watching of the worst Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, with The Outrageous Okona, Shades of Gray, and Sub Rosa.

Curse of Strahd Sessions 11 ½ and 12

In Which The Accountant Is Rescued, Pies are Eaten, and a Promise is Made

We had last left Heile and Sola (along with Ezmerelda and Ireena) in the crypt of Sergei von Zarovich, face to face with Strahd himself. I decided to do a solo session with those two players, since there were concerns that one of them couldn’t make the next session. (As it happens, I couldn’t make the next session either, so there wasn’t one, but it was still a good idea to have done this, since it was a lot of spotlight on two players.)

Ezmerlda eagerly closed into combat with Strahd, her magical weapons at the ready, bolstered by potions. Heile loosed a few spells; Strahd made his save against all of them, including her Turn Undead. Sola stood her ground with Ezmerelda, but it was soon clear this fight would not be won. Sola used Misty Step to get past Strahd and break into Sergei’s coffin, where she found a sword, but not the sword she sought.

Fleeing from the battle, Ezmerelda (grabbed by Strahd) yelled at them to come back and fight, first boldly, as if she thought the battle might yet be won, then begging for help. As her cries faded, they were replaced with Strahds laughter, seeming to come from every direction at once...

They made their way back to the staircase and crawled through the hole they had made, to be accosted by a Vampire Spawn on the other side. No quarter was to be given here, and there was no escape, and a brutal battle was had, with Sergei’s sword allowing Sola to at least bypass the vampire’s damage resistance. Sola fired off a few smites early, but with Heile missing with her Sacred Flame or casting other spells, regeneration meant it healed almost as quickly as Sola could damage it. At one point, it was under 10 hit points, but then regenerated back to over 40! Eventually, with sword and radiant damage, the sisters managed to defeat the foul spawn of Strahd.

Making their way back to the main halls, they were startled by the cat, who seemed to take a liking to Ireena. They found Lief Lipseige, who told them their friends had gone upstairs, and up they went, marveling at the destruction to be found in the hallway- a sure sign their allies had passed.

Session 12

They were reunited with the rest of the hunters, and it was agreed that they must make their escape from the castle at once. They went down to the accountant’s room, and both Rowan and Mordekai attempted to pick the lock, but to no avail. Sola lifted her hammer to strike the chains, and in a panic, Leif pulled the alarm cord, summoning a Wraith. The hunters fired off a volley of attacks, and Sola and Heile stood fast to fight the spirit while the others escaped. They found themselves soon entangled in combat. A massive energy drain attack reduced Heile’s hit points considerably, but from then on the dice were with them and the Wraith did not land any more hits. It was finally defeated, when Mordekai, doubling back stealthily, stabbed it through the back with his rapier.

Meanwhile Orrick, Rowan, and Izmark were scouting out the exit. With some teamwork, they managed to push open the front doors. Having gained entry to the courtyard, their carriage was missing, and the drawbridge was up. Orrick went to scout for a way around to the other courtyards, and Izmark and Rowan investigated the guardhouse of the drawbridge.

Izmark and Rowan found two giant winch mechanisms that seemed like they had to be activated at the same time, but neither of them were strong enough to push them. However Rowan was splashed by a puddle of Green Slime that seemed to be just lurking there for someone to hang out. Fortunately, he dodged the worst of it.

Orrick was soon joined by Mordekai, and with the aid of his familiar and hazy memories, identified where the stable house was, but could see no mechanism to lift the winch. When asked about the portcullis, Lief suggested it might be activated by a magic password. Heile showed up and began randomly guessing magic passwords.

Sola managed to get one winch turned, while Izmark and Rowan together activated the other winch. Teamwork!

Heile got the bright idea to use her shield to scoop up some green slime and to use that to try to melt the gate. It was almost a good idea, but she failed her roll and managed to splatter herself with green slime, reducing her below 0 hit points and screaming in pain. Sola used lay on hands. Someone (Sola?) saw that the shield had in fact collected some green ooze, and went ahead and tossed it on the gate. It didn’t make nearly enough space for the carriage to go through, but the rogues could squeeze through and investigate. Rowan and Mordekai made their way to the carriage house, where they took anything they needed from the wagon, and broke the Magic Mirror, which screamed when broken.

They left on foot, making it past the creaky decrepit drawbridge, and then on the way down the hill, were accosted by bats, dozens, hundreds of bats, enough to blot out the moon. I gave the characters a free round of actions, during which Izmark fired a volley of bolts and Mordekai cast a very effective Sleep spell. Heile tried to hide, but failed her stealth roll, and drew attention of the bats to her anyway, and was knocked out. Bats then swarmed over the hunters, biting and flying about. Izmark’s sharpshooter attacks were pretty effective, each bolt skewering several bats at a time, and the cat that Ireena was holding even killed a couple of bats.

Continuing onward, exhausted, wet from the rain, and miserable, they decided the windmill and pie shop was their best and closest refuge. The howls of wolves in the distance, and coming closer, they made it to the doorstep of the windmill, and were admitted by the old woman, who welcomed them in and allowed them to sleep on the second floor of the tower, cramped conditions made worse by the millstone in the center of the room and the pervasive dust, but better than being eaten by wolves.

Breakfast was served, delicious pies for everyone, and Sola, Lief, and Ireena all fell into a deep happy sleep, but were rudely awakened by their comrades.

The old woman extracted an agreement from Rowan that he would offer her a boon. Heile protested profusely, and was proved right (but rude) when the old woman insisted that he deliver the heart of the White Stag, and that he had a month or there would be Dire Consequences. Heile identified the White Stag as a creature of purity, and later cast an Augury confirming her suspicions that killing it would be a Bad Thing. But at least the pie was delicious. Seriously, those pies are great.

Going towards Villaki, with the intention of meeting with Van Richten at his Tower, they found a Vistani wagon (no horses) on the side of the road, and speculated it might be Ezmerelda’s wagon. The door had a sturdy padlock and a sign that said Do Not Enter, so Rowan popped that lock off and opened the door, triggering the most ridiculous trap ever: a tripwire tied to the handle, tied to the stopper of a flask of Alchemist’s fire, hanging over a pile of ONE HUNDRED flasks of alchemist’s fire. The resulting explosion put Rowan and Sola flat on their backs, and caught Orrick and Mordekai in the burst. Fortunately for them, they’d just had a Long Rest and a level up to level 6. Pretty much all of the equipment in the wagon was destroyed... except for a single item, which landed at Heile’s feet, a platinum holy symbol, which she soon identified as The Symbol of Ravenkind, the von Zarovich family holy symbol, one of the three prophesied items, and kind of a big deal.

Making their way to Villaki without further incident, they purchased some supplies, and Heile asked the local priest about the Symbol of Ravenkind, and also learned about the Icon of Ravenloft, a silver statue that sounded suspiciously similar to one she had walked past several times in the chapel of Ravenloft. Rowan paid for a carriage for Leif so he could travel to the village of Barovia and maybe make a real life for himself.

They pushed onward to the tower, where they saw Van Richten’s wagon. Knocking on the front door of the tower, Izmark activated the lightning trap, and took some electrocution. Van Richten then opened it from inside, and welcomed them in. They discussed their plans, the safety of the tower (in which Heile discovered she could not cast spells), and the future. The hunters decided that they would go investigate Argynvostholt, an abandoned monastery of an order of good knights, then meet up with Kasimir and investigate the Amber Temple, at which point they should be ready to return to the castle. Van Richten agreed to guard Ireena in the tower, and teach her some techniques to defend herself. And then they rested, eager to strike forth soon on their own terms.

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#Fastcast Episode 40: Where No One Should Ever Go: Part I

We sit down to watch the five worst Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes ever. This episode features discussion of Fistful of Datas and Up The Long Ladder. With special guest Brendan Day.
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