Dec 31, 2007

GS: The Day After... (Part 1)

It was actually the evening of the Swagfest when the party put their plan in motion...

Even though I'm the DM, I have to admit, I'm not sure what exactly they were trying to accomplish. They didn't actually try to break the assassin out of jail, but instead tried to distract the guard while Theo sneaked upstairs to steal her confiscated stuff.
Theo got caught in the building on his first attempt, but was successful on the second. Meanwhile, Hunter was talking to Jesswin (the assassin) and mentioned where he was staying at (in front of the guard on duty).

The next day, the guard showed up and not only found Hunter and Theo in the same inn, but also found Arti wearing Jesswin's cloak and gloves... needless to say, all three were rounded up and taken to jail. The party tried telling the guards some story about buying stolen goods, but the tail was a little too unbelievable (given their proximity to the stolen items only the night before when they were in guard custody), and anyway, the goods were stolen and therefore guard property as evidence of a crime. Once the items were begrudgingly returned, everyone was let go. One item the party did manage to keep though was Jesswin's dagger, as it was hidden at the Inn and not on anyone's person when they were arrested.

After that little exchange, the town guard thought it would be a good idea for all three of them to leave town... which the party started to arrange...

As they gathered their gear from the inn, they found that the Tome of the Unspeakable had been stolen from while they were in jail. A gold sword, like the ones the cult members under the warehouse all carried, was left as a calling card. After leaving the Inn, everyone headed over to Browyn the Red's place (he's the mage serving as the mentor for Artierion). While there, Browyn revealed some information he uncovered about the ruined temple the party had recently been exploring (see Out of Bounds part 2 and part 3).

It seems after hearing about their underground adventure, Browyn was able to piece together some disconnected bits of information that lead to an unknown underground path.

With the help of Greybear, a true druid in the area researching local ancient history, the party was able to open up this secret path.

Druids: It should be noted that on Krynn, actual druids (per the PHB) are more rare than clerics... the return of the gods, approximately ten years ago (in game time) also heralded the return of true clerics... by contrast, druids and druidic magic only returned to the realm less than one year ago, with the awakening of an ancient druid who had been in stasis for several centuries. Prior to that, people calling themselves druids were most likely herbalists and healers.
The party, including Greybear and his trusty wolf companion, traveled down a long and craggy path, nothing like the well shaped halls and rooms of the temple of Tep Solath, untill the the path opened into into a series of wider paths and rooms, matching the map fragment that Browyn was able to provide the party with.

As the party stared investigating the areas, they began to encounter all sorts of undead creatures, from human skeletons standing in a hallway, to a bugbear zombie in a cell-like room, to a pair of darkmantles (a magical creature that can look like a stalactite or lump of rock when immobile) that flew tried to smoother one of the party members, and another one that was successful in killing Greybear's wolf compaign.

(the session ended with the players defeating the darkmantles and bugbear zombie and beginning to explore other areas of this lair)

Dec 11, 2007

Useful DM (and Player) Links

Here's another great link:

http://www.emass-web.com/index.htm

Here you can create dynamic character sheets choosing from a bunch of blocks to include in the sheet... and once you make your selection, it builds a PDF file for you to keep and reuse as needed.

What I really like is the customizable spell lists. I can select what sources I want to include (just PHB, or do I include BoVD spells as well ?) and what type of caster I am and then... BAM! I got a PDF of spells by level.

The spell descriptions are brief, "just the facts", but also include page refs for the full details. It's not meant to replace PHB, or SC, but I think it does make running spell casters a bit easier.

See for yourself and let me know if you agree...

Dec 5, 2007

GS: Swagfest

After returning to town, the party went to their friend Lucky Forefinger and sold most of the treasure they recovered, not to mention reimbursing Herrick Mendon's local agent for the cost of the lost horse and wagon.

Then they spent a couple of weeks training.

  • Hunter spent his time training with a human male named Davyn. While still a young man, Davyn was quite skillful about woodland matters as well as wielding a bow. Occasionally, he would make references to an elven brother...
  • Theodonis spent his time training with a dwarven thief named Lynn. Lynn was far from the stereotypical dour dwarf; his personal belief was that life was meant to be siezed and enjoyed to the fullest!
  • Arti spent his time training with his mentor, Browyn the Red, learning new spells and expanding his formidable knowledge in various areas.

By the time they were all done training, the city of Flotsam was preparing for the annual event known as Swagfest, a local holiday that commemorates the great sea raid of Drac and Francisco.

Down by the docks a large crowd was gathering to hear Captain Lydon speak. Almost everyone in Flotsam's heard how Lydon's been stumping for a seat on the Captain's Council (they run the day to day administrations in Flotsam and advise the Sea Lord on all major matters) and clearly he was using today's event to throw around some of his money and maybe buy a few votes (and he wouldn't be the first member on the council to do so!).

The beer was flowing freely and Lydon was in the middest of his speech when Hunter noticed a woman acting strangely; something about the way she was dressed, how she was trying to hide her face, or the way she moved through the crowd.

In any case Hunter followed her as she got closer to the stage. At the same time Theo was following Hunter through the crowd and picking up a bunch of things people in the crowd had dropped (or were about to drop) and Arterion walking around the back of the stage, and also keeping an eye on this mystery woman.

In a flash the woman lept to the stage and tried to attach Lydon. Hunter, Theodonis and Arterion all sprung in to action protecting Lydon and trying fighting back the assassin. They were quick to subdue her till the town watch came along.

Afterward, Lydon dismissed any questions about the attack and quickly got the crowd back in the festive mood with free beer and various games. Theo took part in one such game where he was trying to fend off the attacks of "sea devils" (actually other townfolk) while using padded weapons. He defeated a few, but was eventually knocked out by a large minotaur.

After that they all wandered around the market square looking at items for sale; Hunter was able to get a nice new bow, but one merchant tried to sell Arti a pointed stick as though it was a magic wand.

Later that day, everyone met for a drink in a pub near the docks and played a few hands of "Dragons" with some locals, costing Hunter a few coins in the process.

The party was also interested in following up on the assassination attempt in the morning and went over to the jail cell. They were able to distract the guard and talk privately to Jesswin, pretending to be working at break her out of jail (even though they were the same ones who foiled her attempt that morning). Theo was also able to sneak upstairs and get a quick layout of the top floor where her equipment was being stored.

During the conversation with Jesswin, she mentioned that she was working for Finn, and the party then went to talk with Lucky Fourfinger and found out that Finn is head of the thieves guild in town, and no one has actually seen him in years, except for a few trusted men.

As the day wore on, everyone joined in on the last of Lydon's games for the day--a hunt all around town for a dire rat that he had just released. The party followed the rat into Scurvytown, one of the worst sections of an already somewhat-seedy town. At one point they noticed someone being harrased by some cloaked men. As the went to investigate, a fight broke out and the party realized they were fighting against Bazz draconians. After trading a few blows back and forth, the party killed the brutes, to the great thanks of the lone elf victim.

As the party made their goodbyes, they noticed the dire rat running down the street! Picking up the chase again, they followed it into an abandoned building. Everyone followed along and the rat lead the party to a sub-cellar where a large spider (with strangely humanoid arms) was feasting on a recently captured victim. Hunter and Theo fought the spider while Arti was busy fighting off a zombie in another room. The spider cast a few spells, affecting Hunter slightly, while the zombie had Arti trapped in a corner. After a few rounds of combat, Theo and Hunter defeated the arachnid, and Theo rushed over to help Arti finish off the zombie.

Afterward, the party was able to find two cocooned people still barely alive. The gathered those folks up, along with some treasures (including the dire rat that was cowering in a corner) and took everyone over to see Father Pete. Pete took care of healing the folks they rescued, while the party returned the dire rat to Captain Lydon and claimed their prize!

All in all, quite a hectic day...

Nov 25, 2007

GS: Out of Bounds - Part 3

... waking up the next day, the party continued exploring this ancient underground complex, now recently the home of marauding kobolds.

Heading back into the row of jail cells, Arti was interested in exploring the one empty cell from the other day. He determined that there was a magical effect in part of the room, but couldn't tell just what it did. Testing the area on himself, he started suffering as though he were splashed with acid until he left that area.

At this point the party went all the way back to the large "trash room" and continued down the other corridor. They came across a statue embedded in the wall that looked similar to one they had previously seen. Before they had a chance to investigate further, several quick moving kobolds raced down a hall and began attacking. The fight was swift but after a few rounds of steel and magic, the kobolds were defeated.

The party was now able to concentrate on the statue and noticed that this new statue was more menacing looking (it's weapon was raised as if ready for combat and it's free hand pointed accusingly at all onlookers). Arti correctly figured out that the two statues represented different natures of the same being, though nobody knew who it represented. While looking at the statue both the goblin and Theo found themselves uncontrollably falling asleep. A few minutes later they awoke but in short order the goblin succumbed to the same magical effect again, leaving the party to drag him out of the room...

The next room was actually a huge pit with a crude rope bridge strung across it. As the party entered, the kobolds on duty started trying to cut the bridge down before anyone could get across. One of the three kobolds involved was able to activate some strange effect and created a cloud of obscuring mist around him. Unfortunately for him, Hunter was skilled enough in the bow to still hit his target to devastating effect and the others were immobilized before the bridge was rendered useless.

Traveling down a wide hallway, they entered a room filled with nooks. Each nook held an open upright coffin. Many of them also held kobolds that had been set up to try and ambush the party as they entered. The ranger, the kender, the mage, and even the goblin spread out and were able to defeat the kobolds without taking any serious injury. After the battle, they searched the room and found two secret passages, one lead to a new area while the other lead back to the statue room. (The puzzle that the party never really figured out was if they arranged the heads in a certain manner, it would reveal the secret passage)

The party then proceeded down the secret passage to a new area and found themselves in a strange room. On one wall was a large "mirror" that was actually a magical window that looked through the rock and shown nearby rooms. The device could also be moved along the wall to look in to other rooms, depending on where it was positioned. Magically suspended in the air in the center of the room was a huge glass container. It was open on the bottom, but the remaining 5 sides were solid glass. Also in the room was an old statue of a man in robes, though it was hard to tell if the statue was a mage or cleric.

After a few moments in the room, a small group of kobolds ran in and began attacking the players (what the party never figured out was that the kobolds were summoned by the tribe leader to come to this room). Once fighting broke out, the statue became animated and randomly attacked anyone in the room.

At one point Theo ran under the glass container, wherein it dropped around him. It did no damage, but trapped him inside for a little less than a minute. During this, most of the kobolds had been defeated, but coming down the hallway opposite the one they used to enter the room, Hunter noticed a horrible abomination of a creature moving closer.

It walked on two feet and bore some resemblance to a kobold, but it was much large, about the size of an adult male. It had four arms and wielded a deadly looking trident. It's worst feature, that Hunter and everyone soon found out, was the creatures ability to walk through walls.

Instead of coming down the hallway as Hunter expected, it soon popped out of a wall behind him and began attacking and using it's phase ability to it's advantage. In the ensuing melee everyone scrambled to attack the creature but at first it seemed too powerful, knocking Arti unconscious and bleeding to death, and almost killing the goblin with it's mighty blows.

But the conscious memebers all pulled together and did enough damage to force the abomination to retreat into the walls for parts unknown. With everyone exhausted and hurt, they decided to retreat to the statue room to rest, recuperate, and heal.

The next morning, everyone was feeling a little better and went back to exploring this ancient catacomb. Their first destination was to explore the hallway the kobold abomination had come from. The hallway lead to a room that Arti deduced was a casting chamber (and he was correct). Everyone was hesitant to stand atop the faintly glowing alter in the far end of the room, but as they explored around the area, they found a large collection of treasure -- piles of various coins and a few weapons littered the area (and represented the choicest items from the kobolds raids on unsuspecting travelers on the nearby road). Before the party could get away with this hard earned loot, the kobold abomination returned to try and feed off the party one last time. Time time, everyone was more prepared, and more effective in their attacking. After just a few rounds of combat, they wounded the creature enough to chase him away for good.

The party gathered up all they could carry and left this ancient dwelling...
(It should be noted that the party chose not to investigate at least one area they knew about... and no one know who or what was back in that last area?)

Once outside they found that the horse and cart they previously left outside was gone (it had been about 3 days now since they first went in) and they were forced to try and walk back to town (a journey that would take about two days). As luck would have it, a local patrol from Flotsam was returning to town and had just enough room for the party and their goods, assuming they were willing to make a "donation" for the guards services. It was money well spent to get back to the city and the comfort of their homes that night.

(The "Out of Bounds" adventure took more than three sessions to complete, these entries combine more than one game session)

Nov 19, 2007

Useful DM Links

First in a series of posts on some of my favorite links for D&D.

The Hypertext d20 SRD

This is without a doubt one of the most useful links I have. I've just recently gotten back into the DM's chair (and my first time running a lengthly 3.5 game) and I find this site useful for so many reasons. The encounter calculator alone is worth this link being at the top of any DM's list, but the hyperlinked SRD content is also valuable when you need to look up a spell, feat, or almost anything else.

Granted, not everything in the D&D Core Books is in the SRD, but there's enough to satisfy most of your needs, and if you keep up on what didn't make it to the SRD, you shoudn't get too frustrated when you can't find it there.

Nov 16, 2007

GS: Out of Bounds - Part 2

... so the party was able to follow the track marks deeper into the forest. They tethered their horse and wagon before venturing further. After a short trip, the found the tracks going into thick overgrowth.

Clearing away the camouflage, they found the remains of what looked like part of an old room built into the hillside. Inside was a heavy, engraved door (that soon turned out to be a false door) and statues on either wall. The door showed what looked like a skeletal man cradling a sick and dying man while feeding him some liquid. It was clear from the engraving that the skeletal figure was not causing, but trying to easy the dying man's pain. The statues on one side appeared to be the skeletal man, while the opposite statue looked like the dying man.

After searching the room and trying to figure out where the tracks had gone, Hunter got the smart idea to pour liquid down the throat of the statue representing the dying man. The liquid affected a buoyant mechanism in the statue and released the lock on the hidden passage way.

The party moved in cautiously down the underground path and soon found themselves in a room with a bunch of kobolds. Most of them were busy playing a game with crude dice, while only one stood alert. Everyone rushed in and engaged the kobolds before they had a chance to arm themselves and organize their attacks. Many of them were dispatched quickly, but one managed to slip out an exit on the far side of the room. The party soon followed but there was no sign of him.

They continued down the hall and came across a statue, a shrine actually. Unfortunately there was no one in the party familiar enough with the various religions to determine who or what this represented. As they moved toward the next room, the escaping kobold tried to attack the party again on the stairs, where they had to travel single file and seemed a bit more vulnerable. This was not the case and he soon broke off his attack and ran away a second time.

The next room was very large, but was actually divided in two by a huge pile of debris piled in the middle like a great wall. The party was able to notice a small gap in the wall at one end, while Hunter was able to slowly and quietly climb the mound to get a look at the other side.

In the other half of the room were a bunch of kobolds drinking and throwing daggers into the corpse of a human male as target practice. Theo was able to sneak in a attack one of the kobolds before he was noticed, while Hunter used his position to rain arrows down and Arti wielded arcane magic to deadly effect. In short order all the kobolds in this room were as dead as the corpse they had been defiling minutes before.

Exploring further into the underground lair, they ran across a dire weasel and his kobold owner. The strange thing was that the weasel had the unusual ability to breath a cone of rocks and pebbles as a short range attack. Fortunately the party quickly dispatched the weasel and it's kobold master with little injury to themselves.

Further in the lair, they found a collection of jail cells, and at the far end of the hall, a female kobold, clad in robes, fixing a stew. The kobold turned out to wield divine magical power and attempted to use it against the party. Hunter was in the front line of the battle and along with Theo and Arti stopped her before she could do much harm. A search of her body revealed the keys to the other jail cells in the hallway.

In one cell the party found a small gaggle of strange dog-rat looking creatures (this wasn't some twisted magic experiment, but a unique creature to the Dragonlance setting that's more familiar to underground races, hence the reason the PCs didn't recognize them). The party chose to leave them in their breeding cage and checked the other cells. One was empty, one had two kobold prisoners. They were in tatters and malnourished, clearly no threat to anyone. Hunter wanted to release them, and everyone else agreed. Once freed, the kobolds began scrounging for food from the nearby kitchen. The last cell contained another prisoner, but this one was a goblin. He was in better shape than the kobolds, and once freed, seemed to want to follow the party. They gave him a crude dagger they picked up earlier let him follow along. Since he didn't speak the common tongue, communication was crude at best.

After looking in the cells, everyone proceeded down the new corridor near the kitchen. This path was strange in that there was little evidence of traffic in this area, as if the kobolds avoided the whole area. At the end of the corridor, the party found a strange room full of statues. Each held a different weapon in it's hand and while the statues were on opposite sides of the room, none of them actually faced each other. Also strange was that the heads of the statues could be rotated, but that was all. Everyone thought there was some trick or puzzle to the statues, but after some time they gave up and used this undisturbed area as a safe spot to rest, heal and regain spells...

Nov 10, 2007

Game Session - Out of Bounds

It had been a couple of weeks since we finished up the first adventure (real life schedules getting in the way) and now we were about to start the next one. In between sessions we exchanged some emails to deal with the treasure, cost of training (they were both now level 2) and some other mundane matters. The party was still in possession of a book ("The Way of the Unspeakable One") that no one could comprehend, and some ceremonial swords cult members had on them (some were sold for coin).

The original job that they were hired to do was to deliver some papers to Herrick Mendon, a merchant who worked out of Flotsam and Dun Eamon (aka The Grey Citadel), so they still had that task to complete. Before they could do that, an agent for Herrick approached them with an offer. Delay your trip to Dun Eamon for a few weeks and escort a special item to The Grey Citadel along with the papers, for an additional few. The PCs agreed as they didn't have anything else pressing at the moment. The downtime allowed them to train and gain more skills.

When the package arrived, the PCs were met again by the agent and another person going along with them on the trip; a mage named Arterion. (The PCs didn't ask but the reason was because of recent attacks on lone wagons on the roads around Flotsam).

The party now consists of:

  • Hunter - half-elf ranger
  • Theodonis - kender rogue
  • Arterion - elven (Silvenesti) mage
The trip to Dun Eamon was about 6 days and there were no real incidents along the way. Hunter used his bow skills to bag fresh game when possible and the party met a lone traveler (spice trader) one afternoon. They shared a meal and exchanged information. The traveler had heard mention of the trouble around Flotsam but little of what was going on at the Grey Citadel. After a fine meal, they both went their own ways.

At Dun Eamon, the party met Herrick Mendon (and older, dour sort of fellow) and learned the package was for the mage-in-residence, Elinda Bannon. They received payment, and even had to correct Herrick when it appeared he "accidentally" short-changed them.

They headed over to the Market Tavern (the nearby Tavern and Inn) and talked a bit with the dwarven bartender, Flitch, about Elinda. She wasn't in the bar at the moment but was often found in her tower or playing a game of Khas with her friend Brother Cael.

She wasn't at Brother Cael's, but they learned that Cael was Cael Angus, brother of Arb and Bron Angus, who were the town ruler and captain of the watch, respectively. After going to her town, but finding no way in (her magic obscured any possible enterance inside), they were lucky enough to run in to her outside her place as she came back from some errands.

They chatted for a bit on the street corner. Then, with a wave of her hand, an enterance appeared and she invited them inside for some tea. They showed her the book regarding the "Unspeakable One" but she was as much at a loss as they were regarding the exact contents. Her specialty was in ancient and complex magic devices, not dark divine powers (as she deduced from the book's title). The party soon left and retired to the Market Tavern to get a room for the night.

The next morning they set off for the return trip home. The first few days passed without event, but then in the forested area, about a day and a half outside of Flotsam, they found an overturned wagon and a dead horse. The horse had been carved with some sharp blade and not simply eaten by a savage animal. Hunter was able to see tracks that looked like a body being dragged away and the footprints of about a dozen or so small shoeless bipeds. They all followed the trail deeper into the forest...

Nov 8, 2007

Game Session - In the City

With the PCs back on ship and the Eye of the Sea Dragon in their possession, only one task remained... to return the gem and Captain Fletcher's bones to the Temple of the Pirate God...

As the ship sailed into Flotsam and the PCs got to see construction on a nearby island of a large building (they would later learn it will be a massive lighthouse for the port city). At the docks they saw all manner of ships from elven and minotaur ships, to merchant vessels from all around the continent dropping off and taking on passengers and cargo. The ghostly Captain Fletcher gave the PCs directions to the Temple and promptly disappeared, so as not to frighten the general populace.

When the party arrived at the Temple of the Pirate God, they found the ghost of Captain Fletcher already there and talking to his old friend, Peg-Leg Peligro, commonly known these days as Father Pete, head of the church. He was glad for the return of the missing item and thanked the party for their great efforts. Leading everyone to the back of the church, Father Pete revealed a trapdoor that lead to the temple's basement. Down there, were all the church's treasures and offerings from it's more successful parishioners, from bags of coins of all denominations, to precious works of art and exquisite jewerly. But the center piece of the room was the huge statue at the one end of the room. On top of a high base, was the bronze statue of a dragon turtle, in repose. It's head reared up and looking down benevolently. One eye of the statue was a large spherical ruby, while the other eye socket was empty. Father Pete deftly climbed up to the top of the statue and placed the returned gem in the empty socket. He made a small parting prayer before escorting everyone topside.

One back upstairs, the ghost of Captain Fletcher starting making his goodbyes, prepared for his journey on the River of Souls to the afterlife. But before he could depart the mortal coil, there was a loud crash coming from the basement. Peg-leg Peligro raced to the back of the church to investigate the strange noise. When he opened the trapdoor again, smoke and dust caming billowing out of the basement. As it cleared, Father Pete went down for a better look, as did the party.

Once down there, everyone could see that the statue had be toppled over, and that now both eye sockets were empty of the precious stones that made up their visage. It appeared that magic had been used to allow thieves entrance into the lower level of the building and had also resulted in knocking over the statue. Everyone searched for some trace of a clue to show who might have taken the stones, or where they might be. With all other avenues exhausted, everyone helped replace the huge statue back on it's base. In the empty eye sockets, Father Pete placed lit candles and made a prayer of guidance to his god. The smoke from the candles coalesced into a wall of vapor and showed brief images to all who were in the room. In the vapor was a warehouse door, with a strange symbol above it, people in a cavern wearing robes and chanting around a stone altar, and both "eyes" on top of a crude flat surface.

Father Pete was able to recognize the symbol and the door as part of a building in the warehouse district. He gave the party directions to where it was located this building.

Hunter, Theo, and Royan staked out the place for a while and saw no activity in or out of the place. After a while the entered to investigate further. The large warehouse appeared empty and dimly lite. As Theo moved in closer, one of the hidden guards tried to attack. Combat ensued for a while as Theo and his assailant faced off and Hunter tried dealing with a second hidden person, this one wielding magical power. The two guards fought fanatically to their deaths.

Afterward the party had time to search the warehouse where they uncovered a hidden entrance to a natural underground cavern. They slowly and softly proceeded down in the depths.

The stone was rough and natural rooms formed down here. As they proceeded down the hall the found a storeroom with spare supplies in one area. In another "room" there was a sleeping pallet, a small chest, and even a table and chair. On the table they found a strange book. The writing was unknown to any of the party, but the title was in common for all to see, "The Way of the Unspeakable One". Theo grabbed the book as they all made their way further into the cavern.

Just rounding a corner, they all started hearing chanting in the upcoming room. As they turned another corner, they could see the unholy site. All around a central stone dais were several robed figures chanting, one clearly leading the others in some unnatural prayer. Dim torches lit the full room and a light haze of smoke filled the air with a sweat, pungent aroma. Atop the dais were the two stones missing from the statues eyes.

Theo, and Hunter were the first to rush into the room, attacking the cultists with drawn weapons. Royan followed just on their heals. Most of the cultist stopped their chanting and unsheathed their own ornate short swords. The cult leader continued chanting while the other members were able to press the attack against Hunter and Theo. Surrounded by cult members, Hunter and Theo fell unconscious from the attacks. The last thing either of them could see before passing out was Royan tring to fight through the cult members on his way over to their leader...

A few hours later Hunter and Theo awoke to find themselves still in the lower cavern. Next to them was the dead body of Royan, having been run through with several swords. Looking further around the room, they were horrified to see all the bodies of the cult members savagely dismembered and scattered around the room like so many broken toys. Then they noticed on top of the alter the two stolen jems still remained, untouched and otherwise undisturbed amidst all this carnage. Hunter and Theo gathered up the gems and carried the body of their fallen comrade back to the the Temple of the Pirate God. They were able to take sidestreets and otherwise remain out of view of the local guard.

Back at the temple they were able to return the stones and allow the ghost of Captain Fletcher to continue his journey on the River of Souls. For the living left behind, more questions than answered remained. Who is the unspeakable one? What exactly happened in that cavern? And will it come back again?
(end of session 3)

Oct 27, 2007

Game Session - (Sea) Devil Island

In between the previous session and this one, not only did the missing player drop out, but so did another player (leaving us with only one player), who also happened to be the host. He had a great space for playing... sorry to lose that space. So I suspended the game until we could get some players. Out of the several who seemed interested, only one actually made it to the point of creating a character... The next session would soon be on.

Since the session was going to begin with the PCs on the boat to the island, I did a little retcon and said that Theo (the new character) was always on the ship, the dwarf (who had never actually played) was never there, and the mage (who did take part in the first session) was staying behind to guard the ship. So now we had a half-elf ranger, a kender rogue, and I added in one of the pirates (named Royan) to help explore the sea devils lair as an NPC "fighter" I controlled.

Once on the island, they already knew from the ghost of Captain Fletcher where to go. They also knew that most of the Sea Devils were out of the lair (on a deep sea raid) at the time. At the end of a long cave enterance, the PCs entered an open space. Spread around the floor were the recently dead bodies of several sailors. As they entered the room, the animated corpses of 3 of the sailors rose and begain attacking the party. They spread out and defeated the undead attackers in a few rounds. From there they did a little more exploring, first in an empty refuse room in the north, to a larger, empty room in the east.

The eastern room was like a beach front, with water filling a large part of the space. Hunter and Theo drank the remaining underwater breathing potions, while the pirate stayed watch on the underground shore. From there, Hunter and Theo explored a nearby room (also partly on dry land) and found a sea devil before a strange alter. Combat ensued and Hunter was charmed to flee the scene, but Theo defeated the Sea Devil and broke the magical bond on his companion. They gathered some of the treasures at the alter and continued on their search for the Eye of the Sea Dragon.

Next the two sailed through some of the underground passages and found themselves in a completely submerged room. All around was a varied collection of treasures, from coins, and jewelry, to weapons and gems, including the Eye of the Sea Dragon. But what the party quickly realized was that they were not alone in the room. In a corner, hiding behind a large trunk was what appeared to be a sea elf. But this was no prisoner, and no one in need of saving. As the party approached, she rose up and attacked the party with the trident she was carrying.

Hunter and Theo were able to surround her so that she was unable to escape and she fought to the death. Afterward they were able to gather up some of her ill-gotten treasures in addition to the Eye that they were tasked to retrieve.

With the Eye of the Sea Dragon in their possession, Hunter and Theo returned to Royan and they all made their escape. A short trip back to the pirates waiting by the canoe, and they were quickly on the ship heading for Flotsam, and the last leg of their journey.

End of Session Two
(Once again, since I was looking to add new players to the game, this seemed like a logical place to end for the night)

Oct 23, 2007

Dragonlance Movie Trailer

If you haven't heard, an animated version of the first Dragonlance book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight is coming out on DVD later this year.

Here's the first trailer:

Oct 22, 2007

Second Group, First Session - A Little Night Light

Ok... so last time I left off with the characters having just fought off some crazed pirates from a derelict ship. The PCs never tried to figure out just what was going on here, so I may end up trying to tie this scene into something larger later in the campaign.

That night the ranger saw a distant light getting closer and closer and clearly heading in their direction. As the light got closer, the ranger (Hunter is the character name) saw the ghostly image of a man walking on the water. Hunter waited to see what the ghost wanted and watched as it "walked" into the bottom of the ship and levitate up through the floors to reach topside.

Quickly the elven mage, Hunter, and the ship captain (named Jonas Grumby, btw) talked to the ghostly image of a dead pirate who sought out the PCs to help free his soul and end his undead state. Captain Fletcher needed the PCs to retrieve an item (a gem known as the Eye of the Sea Dragon) and return it to the Temple of the Pirate God in the city of Flotsam (where the PCs were headed anyway).

In exchange for this service, the PCs could keep anything else of value they found. Since this was taking place on the ship, Captain Grumby cut himself in for 20% of the take. The eye was on Captain Fletcher's sunk ship, which was nearby, it having been sunk by some "sea devils" a few weeks ago.

The PCs were immediately cautious of the ghost, and rightly so, but also wondered how they were going to spend time underwater; no one had any water breathing ability. (BTW, both PC groups had this concern early on, and the module didn't address this till later in the module, so I had to reorder some of the captain's info the the PCs). Seems the captain had some water breathing potions in his private stash on the ship and was able to tell the PCs were to find them.

Due to the trauma of his death, the captain hadn't actually been on the ship since the actual event. With this group, one of the PCs swam down (it was shallow water) and retrieved the potions. Then after taking the potions, the two PCs went back. (I recall the first group using an unseen servant spell to retrieve the potions, rather than either player going down)

Also going back onto the ship was the ghost... he walked directly to where he thought his body was, and didn't take part in much of the ship exploration... The PCs went from floor to floor. When they found the ghost over his corpse, he begged them to take his bones back to Flotsam for a proper burial. They agreed and he disappeared.

The PCs continued to search the ship and encountered some underwater ghouls feasting on the dead bodies in the bottom of the ship. The ghouls were dispatched (I made a point to emphasize how the blood for wounds clouded up the underwater combat) and the PCs searched the ship damage. Clear signs of directed shark attacks were seen. Outside one of the holes in the ship a weapon was seen in the sea floor. (This group didn't follow the clue, while the first group was following it to the next location when we stopped the session).

The PCs returned to the ship (and brought back Captain Fletcher's bones), as Hunter was pretty hurt from the combat. Captain Grumby was able to trade a healing potion he had stashed for an additional 5% of the total loot (which at this point wasn't much). They used the Fletcher ghost to scout the immediate area to determine where the "sea devils" were located before the next step. After two days, Fletcher returned and pointed them in the correct direction... the session ended with the PCs on a canoe to the island, since my goal was to incorporate the missing player in the next session and this was logical point to do that.

End of Session One

Oct 14, 2007

Second Group, First Session - Sailing the Seas of Adventure

Note: This is the second time I ran this module. The first group fell apart before completing the module and I chose to rerun the beginning again with a second group. (I'll add some commentary about differences from the first and second group where notable)

For the first session, the party consisted of:

  • (Silvenesti) Elven Mage
  • Half-Elf Ranger
  • (We were supposed to have dwarven fighter, but that player didn't show up and dropped out before actually playing)
The group started out in the city of Solace (well know from the original Dragonlance novels). I didn't worry too much about why they were there, but they were all recruited by a business man to take some documents (a trade agreement) by boat to a merchant working out of the city of Dun Eamon and Flotsam.

The agreement was, at this point, just the catalyst to move people from A to B. (But there might be further advs that involve either of these business men or the agreement in general... I always like to keep my options open).

On the way to Flotsam, they come across a derelict ship. When the captain pulls along side of the boat (the PCs didn't stress any caution to the ship's Captain, nor would I really expect them too), men from the "derelict" ship boarded the other ship and attacked, in an ill reasoned plan to take the ship by force. There were about 6 attackers and the PCs (and NPC sailors) were easily able to dispatch all of them. The mage disabled a few of them with a sleep spell and later questioning didn't yield anything useful. The mage did think to search the ship for supplies, info, etc, but there was nothing of value (the first group did not search the derelict, nor did the module mention the possibility of a search, though I was able to figure out that there would be little of value based on the encounter notes)

There was nothing special about this combat, just a straight up attack, which I thought was a good way to get things rolling, since most of these people (players and characters) didn't really know each other.

Later that night, the ranger, currently topside sees a light on the distant night water... getting closer and closer and headed straight for the ship...

Next... a light in the night

Oct 9, 2007

A New Campaign

I know I was going to write about the first game session, but I also want to touch a bit on the campaign, in some broad strokes.

First, I always like to think of D&D in terms of campaigns, there's a beginning (typically characters at 1st level), and a series of adventures. Some are directly connected to a longer plot, some are just one-and-done adventures, and others seemingly have no connection, but in the end turn out to be related to the main plot. I came up with this idea long before shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Files, but I see them as great examples of what I try to do in my games. They were great at doing long arcs as well as one-shot eps that had no real connection to the over-all plot.

For my games, I typically work backward. I usually know the climax adventure (which is never a 1st level adv) and then work at filling in the advs that would lead a party from 1st level to the level and location of the beginning of the finale. I'll use published mods from a variety of sources as well as writing up my own stuff.

For this current game, I'm not writing so much from whole cloth, as I'm modifying a bunch of stuff from mags, etc to fit the vision and theme I'm thinking about. I also need to mod most adventures since I use the Dragonlance setting and there are enough unique quirks that almost no adventure fits in smoothly without some tweaking...

For this campaign, I started off with a module from an issue of Dungeon/Polyheadon. In fact the module is actually from the Poly section of the mag and tied in to some third part products that were available at the time (I'm intentionally vague here as it could give away certain future plot elements). I liked that it had a unique setup (if rather a basic premise) and some unusual encounters, especially at first level. There was underwater combat and a bit of urban and underground encounters... and not a kobold in sight (I have countless 1st level advs that ALL seem to involve every manner of kobold encounter). The other reasons for choosing the module were a) it's from a mag and therefore rather short. b) it's broken up into 3 discrete sections which turned out to be a boon for me (as you'll see later) and c) it did tie in to some of the other advs I have planned.

Unlike other advs or campaigns, I'm setting this one in a rather lawless and seedy town, which is in direct contrast to other campaigns where the city is usually a safe haven will most manner of resources and little in the way of direct threats to the party. This time, the city may end up being just as dangerous as the wilderness or any dungeon, depending on who they befriend and who they make enemies... I'll go into more detail on the city of Flotsam in another post.

Next time... first session (for real, I think :) )

Oct 4, 2007

Disappearing Players

I know I've commented on the trials and tribulations of trying to get players for the D&D game I've just started, but I'm still amazed at all the ways players (or in this case potential players) wig out on me.

This time, and it appears to be happening concurrently among three different potential people (which is not to say that they are not fully formed people, though that may be the case here) have all seemingly vanished, in a move that would make David Copperfield jealous.

All I had to do with each of these people is say "When can we get together to make a character?" It turns out those seemingly innocuous words have more effect than a dozen "Power Word, Kill" spells to render certain people non-existant (at least to me). Oh well, at least I have three players (as of today), and a forth session already lined up...

Next Time: A (previous) game session report

Sep 27, 2007

Rounding up Players

I've been trying to get a D&D game started for a while now (at least 6 months). I thought it would be a easy as posting a quick message and then watching the offers just pour in. I suspect that this comes from the same delusional place in a man's mind that tells him online dating is easy.

Well it's not, in fact online dating is a snap compared to getting a game started. With online dating all you're trying to do is get one person to meet you for a cup of coffee... one-time, 30 minutes. Trying to get a game started is like trying to juggle a baseball, golf ball, bowling ball, and a puppy!

Here's some of the highlights (or lowlights) of trying to get started:

  • I'd have 1 or 2 people interested, but I'd lose them before getting a 3rd or 4th.
  • I had a couple of people interested, but when I tried to find out what days worked for them, no one would commit to even one day a week.
  • One time I had 3 ready for a game, which ended up being two. We meet once to make characters, and once for the first session. After that, one person kept saying he was available, but blew off the game sessions and wouldn't even apologize for it. The first time he had some lame excuse about locking himself out of his apartment without his cell phone. The second (and last) time, he didn't even bother to offer an excuse. What a 'bag? Can I get a "hell yeah!"?
  • Recently I had five people ready for a game... One dropped out before we even set the first meeting date. One said he was busy with work till X. When I contacted him after X, he just ignored my emails. One guy made it to the first session where he made a character, but then said he was too busy to show up anymore. And one guy made it through the first session and then he too was now too busy. The last guy... thank goodness is still around.
So now I have two players with two more coming on board (I hope) and we've played three sessions so far...

It used to be a lot easier getting players when I started playing in college, or when I was playing with my friends back home... I miss them more than they know, and the easy comfort of our weekly game.

Sep 25, 2007

First Post

Hey, this is going to be a blog about a Dungeons and Dragons game I started running a little while ago. The first couple of entries will try and get up to spend and then I hope to post one or more entries after each game session.