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Collective Voyage, a D&D Adventure: Innistrad! (Part 6)


Hey everyone! Welcome back to a new episode of Collective Voyage, a show where the MTGGoldfish crew plays the game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), a collective storytelling experience owned by Wizards of the Coast. Each D&D adventure we play in will take place in the worlds of Magic: the Gathering. This time we'll be exploring the world of Innistrad, a setting we've visited twice now in Innistrad and Shadows over Innistrad blocks. This is the sixth and final episode of our Innistrad adventure so if you haven't watched the series from its beginning then I highly recommend starting with episode 1 here.

 

 

Our story so far:

Our adventure takes place during the original Innistrad timeline. Archangel Avacyn, humanity's greatest protector, has been missing for the past few seasons, and her absence is showing. The holy protection magic derived from faith in Avacyn is beginning to wane. Holy wards have not spared remote villages from werewolf attacks or graveyards from meddling necromancers. Holy symbols aren't repelling vampires, and the spirits of the restless dead manifest to attack the living.

In these bleak times, The Church of Avacyn has summoned a group of skilled individuals for a secret mission: Katarina Brunn, a cathar tasked by the Church to study a holy relic known only as the "tuning fork," has abruptly ceased updating the Church on her progress two months ago. The party must travel to Shadowgrange, a remote village in the dangerous province of Stensia, to find what happened to Katarina and retrieve the holy relic.

For more information about the world of Innistrad, check out the official Planeswalker's Guide to Innistrad.

 

Our roster:

  • Jennifer (TwitterTwitch) plays Siglinde Ettlinger, a cloistered cleric embarking on her first journey outside of Thraben to lead this Church-ordered expedition.
  • Jeremy (TwitterTwitchStarCityGames) plays Tristen Nadar, a facilitator of many activities in Nephalia both legal and less so, looking for more information on the mysterious imprisonment and death of his father by the Church of Avacyn.
  • Richard (Twitter) plays Valvias Law, an old cathar coming out of retirement to prove that he's still a capable soldier of Avacyn by volunteering for this dangerous mission into Stensia.
  • Tom (TwitterTwitch) plays Jareth Brylleva, a ranger and captain of a village militia, seeking help from the Church to find the whereabouts of his wife, whom he believes was kidnaped by the Voldaren vampire clan.

FAQ:

  • We are playing the game using the free virtual tabletop website Roll20.
  • All maps of Innistrad - the plane, Stensia, Shadowgrange, and other locations - were created by Seán Ellison-Chen (site).
  • All other artwork is from Magic: the Gathering
  • Tristen Nadar is using the Nephalia Human race from Planeshift Innistrad, and if you want even more options for an all-Human Innistrad adventure I highly recommend People of Innistrad by Seán Ellison-Chen
  • If you are interested in learning to play Dungeons and Dragons, you can pick up the Basic Rules for free here, and if you're looking for a beginner's guide I highly recommend Don't Stop Thinking. If you want a lengthier introduction then Matt Colville is good as well.

 

Post-Adventure Thoughts

And so we've finally come to this adventure's end! Siegfried has been defeated and will not threaten the people of Shadowgrange anymore. Our heroes also recovered the missing piece of the holy tuning fork, though its true purpose is still shrouded in mystery. While the full story is not yet over, this adventure is. I hope you all enjoyed the story as much as I did!

Overall the series was great and I'm proud of what we did. However, there's some problems I wanted to go over first before talking about the good stuff. First, I apologize for the redacted conclusion. I improv'd an end that I didn't like so I took it out; I considered re-adding it as an alternate version but that would've been confusing. For those curious, basically Katarina, now a vampire herself, arrives with Olivia. She dismisses the holy tuning fork and the party's questions as no longer things that interest her. Olivia then thanks the party by promising not to prey on the people of Shadowgrange for a full year.

That ending sucked. In my head, I wanted Katarina to pretend to not care about the tuning fork or the party while under the watch of Olivia, only to later make secret contact with them and discuss her problems more openly. However I didn't convey that intent well at all, which just left the entire party deflated and undercut all the accomplishments they just made. I felt like it was bad enough that I'd cut it out entirely and leave the ending ambiguous to possibly alter later, but honestly I don't know if that's even worse.

The other big regret was not being able to share the music that played during the music puzzle in the mayor's house. Each time I ran the adventure I used a specific violin version of the song "Lullaby" from the movie Pan's Labyrinth, and timed my narration with the song. Obviously this is a copyright song that I can't upload to YouTube, so I had to remove the song from the video. I should've just changed the song to something else that was free use.

Finally, the last thing I regret - and this biggest one - is I, as the DM, need to talk less. It's a nasty habit that I'm trying to fix but it still needs lots of work. I need to cut down on lengthy descriptions and stop verbally guiding the players through scenarios. While editing, it was embarrassing to see how much time I'm talking, sometimes talking over people which is just rude.

With the bad stuff out of the way, let's talk about the good! Big shoutout to the players Jennifer, Jeremy, Richard, and Tom! They all did a fantastic job carrying the story forward in unique ways. I've always stressed that D&D is a collaborative storytelling game and the best players are the ones who are engaged in the story and contribute to it. Each player did that by reacting how their character would, even if the player knew better. We saw this with the naive and sheltered Siglinde and the old and skeptical Valvias. Character involvement also turns mundane throwaway environments / items / NPCs into highlights of sessions. Cheddar was just supposed to be a generic animal companion but Tom worked him into a much more interesting character. Jareth sought out nondescript villagers like Hans the innkeeper and gave them more depth through interaction. That's what I mean by collaborative storytelling: the players have an equal hand shaping the narrative and fleshing out the world and its inhabitants through engagement. I was lucky to have a group that was willing to engage in that regard.

I think the world of Innistrad translates well into a D&D adventure as well. I got a great kick translating MTG cards into D&D stats, tossing in monsters and loot lifted directly from some of my favorite cards. I hope maybe this overlap will get more MTG players interested in dipping their toes into D&D. On that note, if you're looking to run your own D&D/MTG crossover campaign, I highly recommend pre-ordering Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica coming out November 20th!

And that wraps up Collective Voyage: Innistrad! Thanks for watching! Who knows, maybe we'll be back with a new season to explore Ravnica?


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