DM Experience Running Bark at the Moon in DND 5e

I recently ran Bark at the Moon for a DND 5th Edition party. It was a lot of fun and the party seemed to enjoy it. Here are some thoughts on running this adventure published in the year 2000, today.

This write up does include spoilers, so if you hope to enjoy this adventure as a player someday stop reading now.

Bark at the Moon is an adventure that appears in Dungeon magazine #185, published in Feb 2010 by Robert J. Schwalb.

Overall Impression, Two Thumbs Up

This adventure will allow you to play with lycanthropy, visit the Feywild, and it has an element of competing factions and intrigue. The battles will include a variety of werebeats, some magic users, and it is easy to customize to include some random encounters in the Feywild. I think you could say this adventure has something for everyone.

This writeup will assume you have access to the adventure and have read it.

As Written, the Timeline is Tight!

Once the main conflict is launched the players have only two days of game time to complete the adventure with the “best possible outcome.” As written, after two days war is inevitable and the lycanthropes of Brokenstone Vale and the Eladrin from Mithrendain will clash and something similar to the War of the Pelt will ignite again. Should the adventurers still be in the area of the conflict when this occurs, good luck to them. Even if they are not many Eladrin and Brokenstone Vale residents will die and the story arc will end tragically. In all seriousness, I don’t know how I would run the adventure if war broke out, and realistically the party would be caught up in it all and would surely perish.

The time pressure is driven by an imminent attack on Shatterstone Village, where the Jagged Fang Clan will attempt to kidnap Mazan, with intent to kill him later. Depending on what the adventurers decide and how the dice fall the players may prevent the kidnapping at best, or at worst fail to rescue Mazan alive. Also, if the characters do not hurry the war between the lycanthropes and Eladrin will eventually break out and all will be lost.

As DMs know, modern DND 5e players love their long rests. When I ran this I found that the players were inclined to rest after the Jagged Fang Clan attack on Silver Lake village, before the party attempted to explore Silver Lake to find the source of the attacks. Makes sense, as they just had a big battle, but spending this extra day really strains the timeline. In this case the DM will need to get creative.

Here is a brief summary of the timeline that I put together to help me stay on track. In my actual game, they players took an extra day because they long rested after the attack on Silver Lake on Day 0 below. When they finally got around to going to Brokenstone Value on Day 1, they found Mazan dead but still inside of the Jagged Fang’s Lair. I had them confront Querelian before the war broke out. As you can see, I had to stretch it out a bit, or, as written, they likely would have showed up in Brokenstone Vale to find the war already raging on.

Timed Events for Bark at the Moon

  • Day 0
    • 03:00 AM*: Regina Tress screams as she is surrounded by werebeasts in a random forest. The adventures are alerted to her predicament and can follow the noise to investigate.
    • 18:00: Fey Crossing at Wolfheart opens. The mists covering the lake explode with color. Then, as quickly as the light appeared, it ends.
    • 19:00: Silver Lake Villagers begin to gather in The Big House (Silver Lake Village’s Town Hall) and board it up, anticipating another attack.
    • 21:00: Renegade werebeasts from the Jagged Fang clan attack Silver Lake.
  • Day 1
    • 00:00: Shatterstone Villiage (Feywild) comes under attack again by any surviving Jagged Tooth clan members. Their goal is to capture Mazan.
    • 02:00: Jagged Fangs return to Jagged Fang Lair encampment to interrogate Mazan.
    • 02:55: If Mazan captured: Shatterstone Village (Feywild) empties out as the villagers prepare to invade eldarian land.
    • 03:00: Jagged Fang kill Mazan and dump his body in a place where other werebeasts are sure to find it.
    • 05:00: Mazan’s body is found and the furious clans muster to cross the river and renew their war against the eladrin.
    • 06:00: War is all but certain if the adventurers do not reach White Thorn Tower by 6 AM with Mazan alive.
      • The eladrin Querelian dispatches his messenger ravens just before dawn, when his spies report the hordes gathering on the Sorrowful River’s bank. The adventurer’s need to reach the tower before 6 a.m. and confront Querelian.

How to work Bark at the Moon into your existing Campaign

You can place Silver Lake Village and Wolfheart Isle in any location where you could place a tiny village with a lake. That’s all you need.

To get the players to travel to Silver Lake Village, spread some rumors of werebeast attacks, or have Regina show up where your characters are, desperate for help and ready to lead them to Silver Lake Village to assist. Once the players get to Silver Lake Village, you can play Wolfheart Isle rumors as written. Once the players go to Wolfheart Isle and they cross over to Brokenstone Vale in the Feywild and you’re off to the races.

Role playing Regina Tress

As DM you should be able to get a lot of mileage out of Regina Tress, assuming she doesn’t die. Here are some ideas.

  • Regina could be determined to convince the adventurers to aid Silver Lake Village. Perhaps most of the able warriors were killed in the most recent attack by the werebeasts. Perhaps the attacks have become so frequent that she is at her wits end and desperately looking for aid. She can promise the adventurers money, silvered weapons, and to be a guide when they take the fight to the werebeasts on Wolfheart Isle.
    • It should be reasonable to assume that Silver Lake, a town that has been beleaguered by sporadic lycanthrope attacks, has a healthy supply of silvered weapons on hand.
  • This is as written, but if Regina crosses over into the Feywild and learns that her husband was killed, you can play it up by having her take a hardline pushing the adventurers to forget negotiating and to do whatever it takes to destroy the werebeasts in Brokenstone Vale. Why prevent the war when they could support the Eladrin and wipe the lycanthropes from Brokenstone Vale, and likely the Feywild, completely?

Challenges and Ideas for Running this Adventure

Werebeasts – Lycanthropy and Silvered Weapons oh My!

The party will face many werebeasts in this campaign, specifically when the Jagged Fang Clan attacks Silver Lake Village, and when the party attacks the clan in the Jagged Fang Clan’s hideout. They may also encounter werebeats in their first encounter with Regina Tess if you set it up so the adventurers find Regina Tess as she is being attacked.

Be sure that the party has access to some means of removing the curse of lycanthropy should they become afflicted. Since all it takes is a bite and a failed saving throw, you can expect that some will get afflicted. They can do this with a Remove Curse spell, though when running this adventure clerics in your party should barely be at the level required to cast that. When I ran this, it was a group of five to six level 4 adventurers.

Ensure the party has means to damage werebeasts. The party will need magic and/or silver. Don’t forget about the monk.

BBEG Stat Block for Querelian

The unmodified stat block for an Eladrin in the Monsters of the Multiverse will likely be too powerful for a 4th or 5th level party, so you may need to tone this down.

Stat Blocks for some special Werebeats

You might want to find some enhcnaced stat blocks for werebeats to keep things interesting. I cooked up a stronger statblock for a boss werewolf I put in the Jagged Fang’s Lair. I was also considering using another custom lycanthrope to accompany Querelian in the final confrontation.

Gnome Illusionists

The gnome illusionists that are in the Jagged Fang’s Lair can be a good plot device to keep the story moving. Come up with some dialog to use if the illusionists are captured. Play up the fact that their true form will be revealed as the illusion drops if they are defeated in battle.

Lycanthrope Clans Unite! (What other clans?)

Beyond the Jagged Fang Clan there seems to be very little established lore on what other lycanthrope clans live in Brokenstone Vale in the Feywild. Occasionally my players would ask questions as they tried to get an understanding of how big the conflict between the lycanthropes and the Eladrin would actually be. Recommend making up some lore to make the scale understandable. You may even want to have some members of other clans run across the party at some point.

Summary

That’s what I’ve got for now. This is a great adventure. Find a copy of the old Dungeon magazine #185, published in Feb 2010 by Robert J. Schwalb and give it a shot for yourself. A party should be able to finish it in about four 2-hour sessions!

Visiting Iron Heart Tokyo – Denim and Flannel

I finally decided to make the trek to the IRON HEART store in Tokyo. If you live in central Tokyo the Iron Heart store location is still far. The nearest train station is Hachioji on the Chuo line. After you arrive at Hachioji station it’s recommended to take a bus, because it’s still a 55 minute walk from the station!!! You can also take a cab.

You can occasionally find Iron Heart products in other shops in Tokyo, for example at the famous Hinoya Honten in Ueno, but they do not have the variety of selection and I’ve personally never seen Iron Heart shirts there.

Iron Heart is famous for their tough denim, and they’re over the top heavy flannel shirts known as ultra heavy flannel.

Iron Heart, like many Japanese denim and high-quality clothing brands, has some loyal followers. For a good read of why people love Iron Heart stuff check out this Reddit thread

Once you get to Hachioji station follow the signs to the bus stops at the North Exit. As of writing. You want to get bus No.1 or 2 which will head in the direction of Utsukidai 宇都木台. As always, check your maps app.

Iron Heart jeans will be in good supply when you get to the store. Shirts however have limited quantities due to production schedules and their popularity. For example, I went in February, and they said that the light blue ultra heavy flannel was sold out in medium all over Japan. The next seasonal ultra heavy flannel will be produced in September or October. I asked about all of their flannels, and all of the mediums were sold out.

There is one young man working at the Tokyo shop who speaks excellent English. He explained that they get many customers from the U.S. military bases in Japan, as well as from UK, Germany, and surprisingly Malaysia and Indonesia. Malaysia and Indonesia are countries with hot climates… but apparently die hard fans still want to wear Iron Heart’s heavy duty clothing. Respect.

The shop has two simple changing rooms where you can try things on. 

After you are done shopping if you don’t want to figure out the bus back to the station the shop can call you a taxi. The return trip to Hachioji station will cost about 2000 yen.

Thankfully, once you have been to the shop and tried some things on you can confidently use their online ordering system!

Be ready in September… might be fun. 

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Visit Japan! Catch Beans! Setsubun

If you happen to be in Japan in early February you should be able to catch a Mame-maki event at a local shrine. Early February is when Setsubun 節分 occurs, and the main event is mamemaki.

At home, usually the father of the house will throw a paper demon (oni) mask over their face, stand in the entryway to the home (genkan), and growl as the rest of the family members throw beans at them while shouting, “oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” 鬼は外!福は内!

If you can get to an event at a shrine you may be able to participate in something like this…

This particular event happened a Nogi Shrine 乃木神社 in 2024. You can bet they will do it most every year baring something like… COVID.

They are tossing bags of soy beans, like this. In 2024, at this specific shrine event, some of the bags had a number attached to them. You could then bring that number to a booth at the shrine and exchange it for a fancy prize. The prizes were everything from boxes of bottle green tea, to sake, to bags of Japanese snacks.

Beans! Specifically daizu beans. Soy beans.

If you’re in Japan in early Feb, seek out a shrine during setsubun! Might be fun!

Hokkawa Onsen in Izu

Thee days so much information is available on the internet it almost seems silly write an in-depth review of a location… but here’s a onsen in Izu called Hokkawa 北川 that I recommend.

Hokkawa Onsen location on Google Maps

It’s right on the ocean and super basic.

Here’s some tips:

  • Leave your valuables in your car or hotel because there are no lockers.
  • If you don’t have a towel, you can buy the usual long thin Japanese onsen towel for 200 yen from the ticket salesman.
  • The baths for men and women are split (only recently it seems). The men’s side has two baths, one hotter than the other. The women’s side only has one bath.
  • There is no toilet. Take care of it first.
  • It’s a super basic wooden shelter with some plastic baskets for your clothes and a shoe rack. Just get naked and get in the water. That’s it.

if you’re in Izu and looking for a great unique onsen experience, check it out! Might be fun.

Japanese Lesson from Radiant Historia

I finally started properly playing Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology on my 3DS. It’s fully voiced which is always a huge bonus in a game that you’re trying to learn language from.

I didn’t know this phrase, 差し当たり。 it means, for the time being…

そうだなー差し当たり「お守り」だと思っておけ

He says…

そうだなー差し当たり「お守り」だと思っておけ

For the time being… think of it as a good luck charm…

Cool phrase. Can’t wait to try this expression out and see what kind of reaction I get. Not sure if it’s commonly used, or some weird flowery language that only shines in literature and video games.

Give it a shot, might be fun!

Visit Taketomi island from Ishigaki, Okinawa

Taketomi is a picturesque island that is frequented by international and domestic tourists to Okinawa.

Once you are in Ishigaki your can decide to take a trip to Taketomi the morning of no problem. No need to plan especially far in advance.

If you wake up in the morning and decide you want to go, pack your bag with some extra water, pack a good hat and some sunglasses and head to Ishigaki Port. the trip is less than 20 minutes by ferry. The ferry times at time of posting are in the image below.

If you want to get into the water at Kondoi Beach pack a swimsuit and towel. Note, my family did not bring a swimsuit and we did not regret it, but we are old and were traveling with young children. The beach was just too hot to bear (30C!) and sunbathing isn’t our thing. The water was beautiful though and we did wade in. There were lots of younger people swimming and enjoying the water in their swimsuits and bikinis. Do bring a change of clothes, the locals do not want to see people in swimsuits walking around town.

As soon as you arrive on the island you will see signs for bicycle rental shops. You need one.

The bicycle rental thing is sort of advertised as a nice fun thing to do on Taketomi, but actually it is absolutely necessary. I guess you could walk the island, or some how taxi… but to be honest I don’t think the taxi option is even practical or possible.

Get a bicycle.

Most shops have a few bicycles that are kid sized, and a few that have back or front seats to carry a toddler.

One of the much advertised things to do on Taketomi is to take a ride on a wagon pulled by a water buffalo. We didn’t do this and didn’t regret it, but it’s near seeing them in the village.

There are several places to eat in Taketomi. Google Maps will serve you well. We happened to go to a place and were surprised to learn the 70+ owners were originally from Osaka, having moved to Taketomi about 20 years ago. Like us, they complains about the heat!

If you visit Ishigaki you’ll want to visit one of the other islands, and Taketomi is the closest, but most touristy. It’s still fun, check it out!

Buffalo cart in Taketomi
Kondoi Beach

How To Upgrade your Playstation 5 Storage

There are many guides showing how to upgrade your PS5 storage. Here’s another one to help folks find the answers they need even faster!

The PlayStation 5 has one (1) internal slot for an additional solid-state drive (SSD) that you can use to upgrade your storage capacity. You’ll need to take off the PS5 case, open the slot cover, insert your SSD, close everything up, and then boot up your PS5 and format the card. You’ll then be able to use the card to store some of your PS5 data.

It’s actually not that difficult, but like all tech things that involve opening up a $500 dollar gadget, it can be intimidating at first.

Here’s what you need to do.

Get an SSD that works with the PS5

  1. Purchase an M.2 SSD, it should have specs similar to below.:
  • Interface: PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Capacity: 250 GB to 4 TB
  • Size: 22 mm width (25 mm wide drives are not supported), up to 11.25 mm height (with a heatsink). Be sure it comes wit heatsink!

If all that sounds, complicated, don’t worry because most manufacturers will specially say whether their product can be used with the PS5 right on the website.

Here’s what I got. Two terrabytes of powerrrrrrr.

Shut it down! Get a screw driver!

Before you do anything, completely shut down your PS5 and unplug all the cables. Remove the stand if you are using that. Move the PS5 and the SSD to a clean well lit spot where you can get to work. You will need a Phillips screwdriver.

Take off the cover

Strangely this may be the hardest part. You do not need any tools to take the cover off. You need to take of the or “bottom” cover to access the SSD slot. Since the PS5 can be set vertically or horizontally this can be confusing. The disc drive should be pointed away from you and on the left side, and the PS logo should be on the underside of the unit. If it is oriented that way, you’re i the right positoin to take off the cover and access the SSD slot.

To get the cover off, you need to push slide and pull up simultaneously. Watch a few videos. When you finally get it off it will come off way easier than you expected. I was having trouble. Took a break, and my elementary school kid literally got the cover off while I was watching a video. It’s all about the direction and angle, not the force.

Open the SSD slot

Locate the SSD slot, which is located on the bottom of the console. Remove the SSD slot cover by unscrewing the single screw that holds it in place.

You can see that the screw has been removed in the above photo.

Remove the SSD slot cover

There is one more small screw that will be revealed once you remove the SDD slot cover. You can remove this screw, and use it in a future step to screw down your SSD.

Insert the SSD

Insert the SSD into the slot at an angle and gently push it in until it clicks into place.

Use the screw you removed in the previous step to screw down the SSD.

Now put it back together!

Now just do everything inreverse.

Replace the SSD slot cover and screw it back in.

Reattach the console cover.

Plug in all the cables, and power it up.

When your PS5 boots up boots it should immediately recognize that the SDD is installed and prompt you to format it. Do this.

Confirm that the storage is available

Turn on the console and go to Settings > Storage > Installation Location to see the status of your storage set up, and also to move things around.

Video Time!

Now, fi you want to see a video, and an even better explanation than this, try this video!

Here is the YouTube video that I used to figure this out. Enjoy!

Check out the Giant Gundam in Tokyo Odaiba Diver City

The Gundam statue in Odaiba, Tokyo, was first built in 2009 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Gundam anime series. The original statue was 18 meters tall and stood in Odaiba’s Shiokaze Park for a limited time before being taken down.

Since then, the statue has been replaced with newer versions several times, with the most recent iteration, the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, being unveiled in 2017. The Unicorn Gundam statue stands at 19.7 meters tall and features a more advanced design with moving parts and special lighting effects. Check it out in DiverCity Tokyo Plaza.

RX-0 Unicorn Gundam! People for scale.

The lighting effects and moving parts are, well not the most impressive thing ever, but it’s still pretty cool and crowds will wait around for it. If you’re there, you have no reason to skip it, so stick around.

If you like what you see you can visit a hobby shop, or big box electronics store like Bic Camera to shop for a plastic Gundam model to take home as a souvenir. You should be able to find the same RX-0 Gundam that you see here in Odaiba.

What? You’ve never heard of Gundam?

Even though it’s 40 years old, every anime fan should know about Gundam. Gundam is significant as a robot anime for several reasons:

  1. It introduced the concept of realistic mecha: Before Gundam, mecha in anime were typically portrayed as fantastical, larger-than-life robots. Gundam introduced the concept of mecha as realistic military machines, with an emphasis on their engineering and design.
  2. Gundam explored mature themes: Gundam was one of the first mecha anime to explore mature themes such as war, politics, and the human cost of conflict.
  3. Many anime, manga, and video games draw their inspiration from Gundam.
  4. Gundam spawned a successful franchise: Gundam is not just a single anime series, but a franchise that includes multiple anime, manga, video games, and other media.

There are a few other giant robot statues in Japan as well.

Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor) is in Kobe Wakamatsu Park. The statue is 18 meters tall and was erected in 2009 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kobe city.

EVA-01 Test Type in Hakone. It’s located in the Hakone area near Mount Fuji, and is a replica of the EVA-01 Test Type from the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s 15.8 meters tall.

There may be more, but that’s all I’m tracking at the moment.

If you’re in Tokyo and want to see a giant robot… Odaiba is the place to go!

Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Promenade along Meguro River

Cherry blossom season!

We tried the Tokyo Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Promenade (Nakameguro Sakura Tsutsumi) on a Japanese holiday morning that fell in middle of the week. Crowds weren’t that bad, but, we also arrived toke army in the season. Read on for more!

This is the route to get to the cherry blossom area from Nakameguro Station. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the station.

We came about a week too early so the Sakura were not in full bloom. ZANNEN, but that’s fine. You have to miss the timing a few times to fully appreciate the blossoms.

The Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Promenade is famous for its picturesque cherry blossom trees that line the Meguro River. During the cherry blossom season in Japan, which usually takes place in late March to early April (global warming has entered the chat!), the trees along the promenade bloom in beautiful shades of pink and white.

Once you’re done with the Meguro River area you can wander around Nakameguro. It’s known for its trendy cafes, boutiques, and restaurants, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists year-round.

Meguro River

If you’re in Japan during cherry blossom season be sure to stop by Nakameguro! Might be fun!

Asakusa and Sensouji Temple – Already on Your Japan Bucket List

If you visit Tokyo you’ll probably end up putting Asakusa and Sensouji Temple on your must do list.

Sensouji 浅草寺 is the oldest temple in Tokyo, and it is believed to have been built in the year 628 making it more than 1,300 years old. However, the current structure is not the original. Sensouji has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The temple complex as it stands today was largely rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s after being damaged during World War II.

When you visit your senses will be stimulated by the hustle and bustle of tourists and shopkeepers as the crowd slowly moves down the main strip towards the temple. When you get closer you’ll smell burning incense and see the smoke, and you’ll notice many Japanese paying to get their fortunes (mikuji みくじ) from the temple shop. It really is an exciting and unforgettable scene.

Sensouji remains an important spiritual and cultural center and is estimated to receive around 30 million visitors annually. When local Japanese friends from Osaka came to visit in Tokyo, Asakusa was one of the places that we visited. It’s popular with Japanese tourists and foreign tourists alike.

Today, Sensō-ji continues to be an important place of worship for Buddhists and is also a major tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Pro Tip

There is a pretty decent free observation deck at Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center across the street from Sensouji that doesn’t get much traffic. It’s open from 9:00 to 22:00 as of writing. Here is the view from the top.

View of Sensoji Temple from Asakusa Tourist Information Center
View of Tokyo Sky Tree and the Asahi building from Asakusa Tourist Information Center

The viewing deck is on the 8th floor, offering panoramic views of the city. From the deck you can see the city skyline and landmarks such as Tokyo Skytree and the Asahi Beer building. You can also get food there, but to be honest, I wouldn’t recommended it as there are much more delicious options down on street level.

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center Viewing Deck 8F 9am to 10pm

Access:

To access Asakusa and Sensouji Temple, you can take the Ginza Subway line and get off at Asakusa station.

The journey takes about 15 minutes from Tokyo Station and costs around 170 yen. From Asakusa Station, Sensouji Temple is a 10-minute walk and is extremely easy to spot due to the flow of the tourist traffic and signage. If you can just get to Asakusa Station you can’t miss it.

Also Nearby:

Don’t forget to also check out Hoppy Street if you get hungry after visiting the temple! It’s a short 10-15 minute walk away, and is lined with Japanese izakaya’s with seating spilling out into the street. It’s a fun environment and somewhat kid friendly. Kid friendly as in, some shops won’t care if you bring kids — that’s about as far as it goes.

Don’t miss a visit to Asakusa Sensouji Temple if you’re in Tokyo! Might be fun!