Session Two – Healer needs healing

We have the same cast as before:

  • Rhogar Norixius (me) – Dragonborn draconic sorceror who doesn’t realize that he’s magic because he assumes that all of his dragon blood abilities come from his dragon blood instead
  • Verbrork Cliffgaze (Cliff) – Human draconic sorceror whose dad sticking his dick in a dragon. Apparently during the long rest last session he got drunk and made a pact with Cthulhu that he doesn’t remember, for a warlock level
  • Kithri Underbough – The female halfling rogue
  • Shadow Halfman – The male halfling rogue
  • Levin Bandageweaver – Half-elf nature cleric who is our only source of healing. His player was out because of a kidney stone, so the DM took him over, rolling a d4 to see whether he would heal or attack
  • Asmund – A half-elf fighter, pretty boring but he can take a hit and gets the most kills

We started where the last session left off, at the entrance of the goblin cave. We followed a stream in, found a side path, and decided to go that way because we figured we would hit less resistance. Many hijinks were had trying to the cleric up the slope because he had a negative dex modifier, but we eventually made it. Following that side path, we found a human fighter chained to a wall and six sleeping goblins (because we attacked at sparrowfart.) Some of the goblins woke up, but we managed to mow them all down in a single round. We freed the fighter, Sildar Hallwinter, who led us to our mutual employer at the other end of the cave.

There we found Gundren being held by three goblins, opposite a bugbear, a human wizard, and some kind of spider-xenomorph thing I believe was an Ankheg. I opened up with an ice knife on the bugbear and managed to deal about half of its health in one shot, the ankheg burrowed underground, the wizard took me down to half health with a magic missile, and everyone else fought the goblins. Next round autopilot Levin healed me, I managed to hit the wizard with a Firebolt, everyone else managed to take down the bugbear, and the ankheg managed to perma-kill Levin with 31 points of damage in one hit. I was suspicious, because I figured he had to have at least 16 health, and because something that can deal 31 points on a non-critical should be way above the challenge rating of a level two party, but that was the ruling. Then the wizard cast some kind of shield spell, everyone else finished off the rest of the goblins, and through several attacks we figured out that whatever the shield was raised the wizard’s armor class to at least 25, meaning none of us had enough of an attack bonus to even land a hit. Then the wizard called off the ankheg, told us she already got the location of the mine from Gundren, and left.


We high-tailed it to Phandalin with Gundren, but without his map he couldn’t get to the mine, so we couldn’t do anything else for him for the time being. So we took our money and headed back to Neverwinter, where we saw a mysterious island out in the ocean that wasn’t there. Someone important offered land and a title to anyone who could figure out what was going on, so we found a ship and headed that way. We couldn’t afford passage normally, so we promised the captain 20% of any treasure we found if we survived. Along the way, we were attacked by pirates, and a battle full of swinging and cannons later, we all blacked out (again) and found ourselves scattered across an unfamiliar beach.

We were all torn about Levin, because on one hand nobody liked the character, but on the other, it sucks for your character to die because you couldn’t make it because you were busy peeing blood. Luckily, his player told us afterward that was planned, because he decided he didn’t like being a nature cleric, and wanted to help fix our screwed up party composition. That made us all feel significantly less conflicted. He’s planning on switching to a bard-barian he statted up between sessions zero and one, so he can play support and tank.

I also have to say that the DM did a pretty smooth job of transitioning us off of the starter module and onto his homebrew content. Having an NPC steal Gundren’s map so he couldn’t take us to the mine with him was a good way to tie off that plotline.

Session One – Goblin Giblets, Chaotic-Stupid Clerics, and a Daring DM

I said I would be back for session one, and so I am. You’re not going to be abandoned that easily!

I managed to catch (almost) everyone’s names this time, so that’s a step in the right direction. Our cast is:

  • Rhogar Norixius (me) – Dragonborn draconic sorceror who doesn’t realize that he’s magic because he assumes that all of his dragon blood abilities come from his dragon blood instead
  • Verbrork Cliffgaze (Cliff) – Human draconic sorceror who still doesn’t have a backstory beyond his dad sticking his dick in a dragon
  • Kithri Underbough – The female halfling rogue
  • Shadow Halfman – The male halfling rogue
  • Levin Bandageweaver – Half-elf nature cleric who is our only source of healing, which becomes important later
  • Asmund – A half-elf fighter, who was a new addition because we had someone join the group and needed someone capable of taking a hit (as much as anyone is at level one at least)

We picked up slightly before where the last session left off, last time we stopped on the road to Phandalin, this time we picked up just before we departed to introduce the new guy, the half-elf fighter Asmund. Introductions went pretty except for Levin, who stopped the game for about 15 minutes to interrogate Asmund’s player about his appearance.

“What color is he?”

“I dunno, pale I guess.”

“White pale or black pale?”

“Somewhere in between?”

Eventually he was satisfied, so we left for Phandalin. Along the way, we stopped a tinker named Ben Abernathy fix his broken wagon, which was strange because he offered to repay us by fixing stuff for us in the future. He also gave us a couple potions of healing, which immediately silenced those concerns.

Later down the road, we came across a couple dead horses, which we assumed to be a trap, and a letter addressed to our employer, Gundren Rockseeker, which confirmed it. Immediately after reading that, 4 goblins popped out of the woods and started shooting at us. The rogues both failed to hit anything, Asmund killed one, Rhogar killed one, one escaped, and we interrogated the last one for the location of our employer. Asmund found a Deck of Many Things on one of the bodies (there’s the daring DM part), which brought everything to a halt. Levin tried to persuade Asmund to let him draw a card, Shadow tried to steal it, much fun was had.

Eventually they gave up and we were able to get back off track and start looking for our boss. On the way, we found a goblin who fell into a pit trap. It turned out he was the one who fled from us earlier, and in his haste forgot about his own trap. Levin, Asmund, and Shadow brought things to a halt again to try to shoot the goblin in the dick with their crossbows. After a couple rounds of everyone missing, Cliff decided to finish off the goblin, but ended up getting hit by a couple missed shots instead. Eventually Asmund got bored and killed the goblin with his battleaxe. Shadow tried again and managed to steal the deck this time.

We finally got to the the cave the goblins are living in and there was a group of three guards outside. We engaged them, the first one went down, and Levin immediately went to loot the body, even though he was already engaged in combat with another goblin. I guess he really thought there was going to be another magic item in the very next fight. Goblin got an opportunity attack because of course, and he immediately went down. Two sessions out of two that our healer has gone down first entirely due to his own actions. But at least he got some beef jerky for his trouble.

At that point we decided to take a long rest, rather than blowing our healing resources on something that dumb. Nothing interrupts us in the night, so when we wake up we enter the goblin stronghold and immediately see 3 sleeping wolves. Rogues decide to sneak attack, fail to kill them, Kithri gets taken down by a critical, and everyone else kills the wolves, but not before they can let out a howl and raise the alarm. And that’s where the session ended.

Everyone got a chance to do something relevant to their class this time, so it already went better than the intro in session zero did. The new guy (Asmund) got to kick ass and take names, so he was pretty happy. The cleric got to go down early due to his own stupidity, so he was happy. Seriously, we need to kill off his cleric and make him roll a barbarian, since that’s how he wants to play.

Session Zero

I know, I said I didn’t want to abandon this blog immediately after setting it up, then I abandoned it after the first post. Well, I’m back! If nothing else, I’ll at least post D&D write ups here.

We had our session zero last night. The aim of a session zero is to get everyone on the same page in terms of play style, house rules, controversial topics like sexuality, and so on. We went through all of that, nothing surprising or unusual there because most of the players were new, then we started creating characters. We threw party balance to the wind and ended up with:

  • A female halfling rogue whose name I can’t remember.
  • A male halfling rogue named Shadow Throatslitter or something edgelordy like that.
  • A human dragon sorceror who goes by Cliff because nobody can pronounce his real name. His entire backstory is that his human dad really wanted to have sex with a dragon.
  • A dragonborn dragon sorceror named Rhogar who doesn’t realize he’s a sorceror (me). The idea is that a dragonborn draconic sorceror wouldn’t be able to tell that they’re a sorceror. Dragon scales start showing up? Their eyes look like dragon eyes? They already look like that. Elemental dragon abilities? They already have them.
  • A half-elf nature cleric whose name I can’t remember. All I know is that he’s racist against elves.

So we have two squishy skill monkey DPS characters, two squishy magic DPS characters, and our only tank is also the healer. Perfect. I’d also like to note that the players of the male halfling rogue, human dragon, and cleric all rolled for stats, and they averaged something like a 14. The rogue has 19 dex at level one and I’m pretty sure human dragon was the only one who got a negative modifier on anything.

After character creation, the DM ran us through a one-shot story he wrote, because three of the players have never played D&D. Instead of the typical “you all meet in a tavern”, we met outside the tavern, after everyone spent a long day on the road heading into Neverwinter. We hear a scream, turn around, and see a red haired thief stealing a satchel from a priestess of Tyr. Questioning and an Insight check of 24 reveal nothing useful, other than that the stolen money was supposed to go toward revitalizing the poor district, she goes to get guards while we investigate, and we find a matchbox dropped by the thief engraved with a fiddle logo. She comes back with guards, one of them (named Carl) recognizes the fiddle, and takes us to a seedy bar called The Silent Fiddle (ironically in the poor district that the money was already going to.)

The bar is empty, save for the bartender (Barney), a couple guys playing cards, and a drunk passed out in the corner. Questioning the bartender reveals only that he hasn’t given out any of the matchboxes for years, and he doesn’t remember giving one out to a redhead. Nature cleric starts asking the spiders if they’ve seen a redhead, they spell out in their webs Charlotte’s Web-stype that they haven’t seen anything, laughs were had all around. Drunk (Steve) wakes up, freaks out about being late, and wanders off, with the rogues trailing him. Barkeep mentions that Steve just got a new job, and that he’s been seen with a redhead lately.

The rogues follow Steve to an alley, where he meets up with the redheaded thief and yells at him about poisoning him. The rogues get ambushed and both are knocked out inside of a couple rounds.

Back at the bar, the bartender mentions that Steve passed out much faster than usual, so the nature cleric licks his glass to see if he was poisoned, and immediately passes out. The sorcerors question the bartender about his serving practices to try to figure out if the glass was poisoned, he pours himself a pint, and immediately passes out. Sorcerors realize that it’s the suspiciously unmarked keg that is poisoned, open it up to investigate, and the card players pass out. Both sorcerors try to get out to the street to get some fresh air, but human dragon fails the con save and passes out. Dragon dragon tries to use his shirt as a makeshift gas mask, which doesn’t work but he makes the con save anyway, and drags the cleric out. He tries to put some holes in the building to ventilate it, but fails, and makes another con save. He then tries to use Ray of Frost to freeze the alcohol and stop it from vaporizing, but ends up freezing the wood of the keg instead, and it shatters and spills everywhere instead. He finally fails a con save and passes out.

The entire party wakes up inside the bar, naked and missing all of their equipment and money. A dwarf comes by, explains that several adventurers every week are taken by this scam, replaces all of their equipment, and asks them to escort a caravan to Phandalin and help him investigate a mine. That’s where we left off for session one.

The goal the entire time was for all of us to pass out either via combat or the keg trap, so it wasn’t just that we sucked. Actually, we lasted longer than expected, especially the dragon dragon making 4 con saves of increasing difficulty before finally failing because of a difficulty spike.

I’ll admit that at times I felt a little railroaded, but I think that’s inherent in any one shot with a story. In a normal story, you can let the players work at their own pace and spend multiple sessions exploring side plots if need be, and come back to the main thread in their own time. In a one shot with a story, you don’t have any time to waste, you have to keep them on track the entire time. The only ways I’ve seen to handle it are railroading during the session and railroading before the session, by giving them a very explicit premise.

More importantly, the first timers all seemed to enjoy it pretty well, even if they did spend a good chunk of it unconscious. The rogues got to sneak, the human dragon got to solve mysteries, and the cleric got to get wasted. We never had any major playing style or alignment conflicts. We only had two rounds of combat, and the only ones who saw it were the rogues, so the others haven’t had a chance to get used to it, but we’ll cross that bridge in a couple weeks.

Observations about AI from an outsider

I don’t really have anything to talk about, but I made this blog yesterday and I want to make it more than 24 hours before I abandon it, so I’m forcing myself to write something. It’s not like it matters because nobody is reading this. I just put it up because I pay $10/year for and I’m doing nothing with it.

I’ve always wanted to learn about AI, but I never had any idea where to start, because I didn’t know anything about the field. Lately, I’ve seen a few job postings about machine learning and natural language processing that mention TensorFlow as a requirement, so I figured that must be a reasonable place to start.

Turns out that was a pretty naive assumption. It turns out that AI is hellishly complex, and even with a great tool like TensorFlow helping you out, it’s still extremely confusing and difficult to get into. Luckily, Martin Görner did this great talk at Google Next to help people like me break into the field.

I think the first thing you need to know about the field is that nobody has any idea how intelligence works. It’s easy to program computers to be good at a single task, but that’s not really intelligence. A human still has to think of all of the use cases, all of the things that can go wrong, and tell the computer what to do in every one of those cases.

The only true intelligence we know of, as in a system that can adapt and change itself, comes from organic brains. Programmers like to copy structures from nature and from other disciplines, so naturally we implement artificial intelligence with neural nets.


My understanding is that a neural net is like a plinko board. In plinko, you drop a chip from the top, it bounces around in the pegs, and eventually lands in one of the slots at the bottom. To some degree, you can predict where the chip will go based on where you drop it from and how it hits the pegs. In a neural network, you drop an input in, it bounces around the neurons, and something usable falls out. You train a neural network by giving it an input and telling it what the output should be, so it can adjust how the neurons bounce things around to produce the right output. It’s weird and arcane and I still don’t get it, but it’s a lot better than my prior understanding of “it’s literally magic.”

So yeah, AIs are weird arcane plinko boards that you put problems into and answers come out. Kind of like how computers are weird arcane transistors that you put problems into and answers come out.

First blog post

A couple years ago, I bought and decided I was going to set up a Jekyll blog through It was a noble goal, and I like writing in Markdown, but the themes don’t give you any navigation, and I didn’t feel like styling everything in Bootstrap just to have a working blog. Blogging wasn’t a high priority anyway, so I abandoned it just like most of my other pet projects.

Recently I thought about it again and realized that it would be trivial to set up a WordPress blog and point my domain to it. So here we are. I hate contributing to the fact that a quarter of the internet uses PHP, because PHP is a terrible language, but WordPress is just the path of least resistance.