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Dungeons and Dragons story time
  • About a year ago I started a Dungeons and Dragons group with some friends that brought us through the Winter but when the weather got nicer we decided to put it on hiatus and a bunch of people moved away. The game was pretty popular and it was I guess on the rarer side because it featured more women than men. Quite a few of the players in the group were brought into it by their girlfriends, in fact.

    Now that the weather is getting colder in DC we’re starting up again, not the least of which because my friends Dave and Bobby have a big table at their house and like hosting parties. Also, they have a dog, and we have a dog, and our dogs get along.

    It’s 4E because that has the most boardgamey feel to it and is a good introductory point for new players, of whom we have two (Bobby, Dave’s boyfriend, and Erin.)

    So far there are six players and me as the Dungeon Master, which is a larger size group. The first session was two weeks ago and everyone except for Erin, the ranger, showed up. Players are as follows:

    Joe - Playing Rothko the Goliath Warden - Wardens are Defenders (tanks in MMO parlance) that have a primal power source Dave - Playing Ash, the Female Elven Druid (He’s the only not cis-gendered character) Brittany - Playing Alice, the Eladrin (High Elven?) Wizard Bobby - Playing Jimbo, the Goliath Barbarian Erin - Playing Helena, the Razorclaw Shifter Ranger (Razorclaw Shifters are like non-shapeshifting descendents of werepanthers/tigers) Matt - Playing _____, the Dwarven Cleric - He worships a Dwarven version of Oghma, the God of knowledge and booze

    After rolling up characters in the first session, the party all separately came into their local trading village for a market day to discover that it was uninhabited. They searched around for a bit, and found a few dead bodies as well as a bunch of dire rats and rat swarms. Luckily, they dispatched the rats fairly swiftly, although the swarmy nature of rat swarms made it a longer first combat than I had planned for (swarms take 1/2 damage from non-area attacks, but are vulnerable to area attacks.)

    A bit of searching led to them finding that some of the bodies had been dragged inside an inn, where they were propped around the main table. A couple of goblins were sitting at the bar and took offense to their drink time being interrupted. When the party started fighting them, the corpses got up out of their seats! ZOMBIES. The Barbarian was hurt fairly badly in the ensuing combat, getting knocked out twice and a bit worse for wear, especially after the initial goblins were backed up by a hexer (Goblin priest) and a couple of his minions. In 4E, minions are enemies with one hit point. They’re good to clog up the battlefield and represent a Red-shirt kind of enemy. The players notices that the zombie corpses included the local fur trader, which made the elven druid both happy (fur is bad) and sad (she bought the furs she gathered.) Additionally, the mouths of the zombies had been stitched shut.

    I’ve decided that in order for a body to be unwillingly reanimated, a necromancer needs to trap the soul back in the body.

    That was it for that session, with the dwarf finding some gems in the storehouse for the inn. This made him upset, as he was looking for more booze.

    The second session started with a skill challenge and a bit of a mystery. The players needed to find out where the villagers went to. The dwarf noticed that the cuts on the zombies bodies were very clean, and the Eladrin noticed the goblins carried stone weapons. Clean cuts weren’t really their style. In addition, there was a faint presence of illusion magic around the town. Jimbo ran down the road a bit to see if he could find anything, and came across some deep grooves in the dirt a little ways out of town. The Druid and the Ranger noticed that there were hoof-prints as well. A bit further out of town and the tracks got thicker, with some additional prints adding to the trail.

    The players decided to follow the trail into the forest. After a ways down the road they heard the buzzing of what sounded like large insects…

  • 1) I really wish my D&D group hadn’t fallen apart.

    2) This is exactly the sort of thing I’d like to see on the blog.

  • I’m with blucas on both counts.

  • Thanks! To continue the story -

    A brief note - I had the party roll perception checks to hear the buzzing. Those who could came with me into a separate room and I told them what they heard. Those who couldn’t didn’t know.

    Helena (Erin) took to her character (the aforementioned Ranger) pretty quickly and used a high stealth rating to scout ahead - She came across a trio of stirges (essentially enormous, magical mosquito beasts) sucking on the blood of something at the side of the road. She let the rest of the group know about it, and they started to plan what to do next. I had them roll initiative at this point to take turns in order, and Ash (Dave) was first to act - He moved up and used frostfire to hit one of the stirges with an admixture of ice and flame. Unfortunately, next to act were the magical beasts, who flew to him and raked him with their beaks and claws. Luckily, none latched on to him, but he still took a good chunk of damage, as all three hit.

    Dave and Bobby’s roommate, Rachel, was playing Matt’s Dwarven Cleric, and took an opportunity to heal Ash, prior to striking one of the stirges with a sacred flame, which took the guise of a blew geyser of exhaled high proof booze, healing Ash a bit more in the process. A few rounds went by and the first stirge was readily dispatched, while the second one was bloodied and succeeded to latching onto the dwarven cleric’s face. While the dwarf thrashed about it was more difficult for the party to get a solid hit until he tore himself free, and the stirge was quickly stamped out. A similar fate struck the Barbarian, as a stirge attached itself to his shoulder. It was a bit simpler for him to break free of the hooked nose of the beast (higher Escape roll due to better strength) and the three giant insects (BATS AREN’T BUGS) were dispatched.

    The party found out what the stirge was feasting on shortly after (an elf corpse). A check of the remains led to the dwarf finding some ligature marks around the elf’s ankles, as well as a broken leg. Underneath the corpse was a scrap of grey cloth, similar to a piece that the party found in town, with the word Halthan inscribed on it in elvish, with a question mark. The only person in the party who could read the script was Ash. Additionally, there were two sets of tally marks beneath the word, counting 40, and a few over 100, as well as a charcoal sketch of a person in a grey cloak and heavy armor with a skull mask.

    The Eladrin and the Elf both wracked their memories for the meaning of the word Halthan. Ash found it to be most similar to a sort of Atlantis, a lost city of a long gone culture, while Alice remembered it as a hub for trading that hadn’t been contacted for a century or more. Both noted that it was a city belonging to a civilization known as the Fremen.

    The group moved on.

    A bit further down the road, as dusk approached, and about three hours out of the village, they noted a dwarf moving down the road. The dwarf hailed them and asked if they’d come from the village that they’d originally traveled from. I had the group make perception checks here, but none of them rolled exceptionally well. Helena, the ranger, was sneaking through the woods as an advance guard and I had her make a stealth check as well.

    The Barbarian, Jimbo (Bobby) decided to go and make a new friend. In the process of running down the road, a Goliath came sprinting out of the woods, leaped at Jimbo, and raked into him with a set of claws. Slowly, Jimbo felt his legs weakening, and his movement slowing.

    He turned to the Goliath, to notice half his jaw rotting away from his flesh. Similarly, the party took a second look at the dwarf and saw that one of the legs sticking out from under a long cloak was just a bone.

    Ghouls.

    The party rapidly clustered up around the Barbarian and a mixture of ranged attacks and decent rolls in melee injured the Goliath Ghoul. In the meantime, the Ranger was attacked by an Orc ghoul in the scrub, and was concealed to the rest of the party. Her first hit against the orc was a critical hit, and she nearly bloodied him in the first blow. After Helena’s initial immobilization she dodged a few successive attacks and used her natural nimbleness to evade out of the woods while covering her retreat. Jimbo the Barbarian was knocked unconscious again during the encounter, but was healed back to consciousness to face the Dwarven Ghoul as well as the Goliath ghoul who had been knocked out by a sleep spell. Jimbo reacted as many of us would with a coup de grace against the unconscious Goliath undead creation.

    As the Orcish ghoul emerged from the wood it was cut down by a successive series of attacks as it charged the Barbarian and the Ranger (provoking attacks of opportunity) and a magic missile from Alice finally slew it. The dwarven ghoul turned to flee and Rothko the Warden decapitated it with his halberd. The party found that the Dwarf’s hide armor was enchanted (+1 Horn Tusk armor, when the bearer is reduced to 0 HP he/she can make a standard attack 1/day) and the Goliath carried a sack of bones from a dead elf that also contained a Wand of Force Orb +1 made out of yew.

    Unlike previous undead, these dead bore no signs of their souls being bound or forced into their mortal remains, suggesting that in undeath they made a willing compact.

    At this point, the party sought camp for the night. Rothko looked for suitable shelter nearby and found a deer trail running into the woods. The party debated going down the trail for a bit, or camping in the woods just off the road, or camping in the road itself. They chose to venture down the trail and found another body at the side of the road.

    This one wore grey.

    And there was blood leading further down the trail.

    The party sent Helena ahead and she noted a cave a bit further off, with a bear outside the cave. As she returned, the bear heard something and moved towards the party. They rolled initiative, and Alice acted first - firing a Ray of Enfeeblement and missing the beast. Jimbo was next to move, and he ran up to the bear and used Intimidate to get it to back down. In the near darkness he noted that the bear had a spear sticking out of its side and its fur was matted with blood. The druid then used her training in the lore of the wild to calm the bear down, and the cleric began to heal it through magic and with natural skill (rolled a 20 on a heal check.) Further attention from Helena lead to the bear being totally calmed.

    Ash shifted into bear form and checked out the cave, trying to make sure that he didn’t disturb any cubs. There were two more corpses in grey in the cave mouth. Both of them were “bigger than a dwarf, but smaller and softer than a goliath.” One had a magical Halberd of Terror and the other had a Flameburst Longbow - Simple magic items.

    The party, having befriended the resident, made camp in the bear cave for the night.

  • Bookmarked this thread to read later. Keep it coming.

  • While we haven’t played in several months I’m part of a campaign that dates back to 9th motherfucking grade, which is kind of crazy to think about. I’m the only one whose original character is still alive, having made an accidental transformation from a self-centered, opportunistic asshole into an anarchist rebel leader. Who also happens to have the spirit of an ancient and possibly evil wizard riding shotgun in his brain now, so we’ll see how that works out.

  • Hell yeah, this is awesome and it’s making me jealous.

  • The next day the party picked up the trail again. After doing some quick tracking math (Nature) they figured that they should be able to catch up to the main wagon train. They had gotten to sleep early the night before and woke at the start of the day.

    Unfortunately, their early start meant that they came to a ford in the river with a group of grey uniformed creatures on the other side, one of whom wore a skull mask covering his face. Again, these things looked to be like hairy elves or taller dwarves. They stood shorter than a goliath, save for the one in the skull mask, who was about the size of a goliath whelp. There were five, total, and a wagoned horse. One of them was a scout, tending to the horse, and two were dressed similarly to the dead guy in the cave, with long halberds and heavier armor. The last two were the big guy in the skull mask and a lighter, older one in simpler clothing and lighter armor.

    The one dressed in simpler clothing and a lighter uniform called out to the group in broken trade language, asking if they’d seen a dwarf on the road. He let them know that in a set of caves nearby there was a Goliath who wore a bleeding feather around his neck that was responsible for the undead. The party asked where the group came from, and he seemed a little puzzled by that, before responding that they were Fremen, and they came from Halthan.

    Ash asked their leader to describe Halthan, and he stumbled across some phrases - “Many towns,” was the first try, and then he dropped into Elvish and used the word for Empire. The dwarf tried to see if the leader knew dwarven and the leader responded in an archaic form that he “Was somewhat familiar with the ancient ways-and-tongues-of-the-clans-from-before-the-time-of-the-green-ones-and-after-the-great-split.”

    It didn’t take very long for the party to start asking the Fremen about what happened to the villagers. The Fremen leader responded that they were being relocated for their protection, as there was an encroaching “Shadow.” He attempted to try and explain the apposition of the Dark and the Green, which Alice interpreted as something having to do with the Feywild and the Shadowfell. He seemed to recognize her use of both of the terms.

    The other Fremen were getting agitated by the conversation and a bit antsy. The big bloke kept reaching for his axe.

    During this interchange, Helena had snuck through the woods and was waiting on the opposite side of the bank with her bow out, should anything get rough.

  • Yeah, this is great. I think the last time I played the 90s were still a pretty fresh memory. I would totally play again if I encountered the right group of people who were, you know, into that kind of thing.

    I am still a 2nd edition traditionalist when it comes to classes and races, though. Half Orc PCs and elven paladins are wack.

  • So eventually the party decide to press him on the issue of what it means that all these villagers are gone and he decides “You know what, enough with the questions,” and steps back, conjuring eldritch energy around his fingertips. Helena shoots off a couple of arrows from the woods into one of the soldier, and Rothko, the first Goliath, takes a running jump across the stream/river/body of water separating the two sections and slams into the leader. Jimbo the Goliath Barbarian is short behind him and knocks one of the halberd types fairly soundly with his flail before spending an action point, using a daily power, and bloodying the mage and the first guard, but not before their Skull-helmed dude has jumped across and swung at Helena.

    Luckily, she’s a ranger, and is able to elude him while peppering him with arrows fairly successfully. She ends up bloodying him before they even emerge from the woods onto the road, at which point she and Alice (Eladrin Wizard/my fiance) finish him off. He was their berserker.

    The guy with the bow near the horse decides that he’s going to try and ride the horse off after taking a couple potshots at Jimbo and not even slowing him down. Jimbo decides he doesn’t like that plan and bullrushes the guy off of his horse. Ash, the druid, then conjures a mass of vines from the surrounding undergrowth, and uses them to drag the archer into the river. In the process, she finds out how deep the river is. Deep enough to drown the archer.

    Jimbo decides that he’s going to be mounted calvalry for the rest of the encounter, and goes around smiting folks with his flail. Rothko, as a defender, successfully tanks most of the damage, and the unnamed dwarf priest provides a mixture of healing and ranged support as necessary.

    Their wizard throws around some balls of lightning, but after the guards fall, he decides to hightail it as well. Alice hits him with a natural 20 on an acid arrow, follows it up with a magic missile, and Ash brings him down with thorn whip.

    The unnamed dwarf priest revives him, but not before Ash and Alice recall the nightmare bedtime stories of the creeping plague that drove the elves from their ancient cities, pushing the Eladrin into the Feywild and separating the great tribes of elves.

    That’s right. Humans. The Fremen are the boogeyman, nightmarish, creeping across the globe threat to the idyllic pastoral way of elven life. They’re humans.

    So the dwarf spends some time ministering to the mage, and Ash just keeps killing him every time the priest revives him. Finally they interrogate him to the point where they seem to realize that the kidnapping of entire villages is probably a long-term problem, but an undead horde coming from the Goliath with the bloody feather is a much bigger short term problem.

    That’s where we are! Sorry I haven’t updated this since last session but this catches you up to this week’s game, where we’re going to be dealing with a monastery of undead, just in time for October.

  • Spent the evening making Pathfinder Society characters. Only after she was all done did my wife realize that her polyglot CG Varisian witch with a monkey familiar is basically Dora the Explorer. Gonna ask the GM if she can get a bonus to knowledge checks while wearing her backpack

  • Dora is Iris’s favorite female toolkit.

  • I’ve got a bit of free time right now and I’m thinking of running a play-by-chat minicampaign, if anyone’s looking for a distraction. Not D&D at all though. Sort of a film noir murder mystery thing.

  • Oh man I have done an awful job of recapping here

  • Should any of y’all attempt to run a campaign online, give me a shout!