Yesterday I just found my way back onto the Dungeonmaster’s seat at our gaming table. In short words, it was great. In longer ones I’ll give you a brief but still depth review of yesterday’s happenings…
Our gaming group consists of 6 players + 1 dungeon master, mostly 1-2 players are missing, so we had a party of four characters yesterday afternoon and evening, of which 2 were newly introduced. The initial meetup was in a tavern without me steering or adding more than a bit of atmosphere (food and drink served by the tavern owner himself), the tavern is located in the capital Immilmar (of Rashemen – Forgotten Realms – Toril – D&D setting…) and called A Stormy Night’s Tavern (Sturmnachttaverne). The initial meetup was disturbed by a young fellow carrying an informal and friendly invitation for Daec (one of the characters) to join the local (lonely) Oghma cleric who’s attending a library inmidst a land of barbarians, he received two gifts (handmade copies of writings he was more or less asking for) and parted in best spirits with the librarian. Currently we’re closing in on winter in the campaign, therefore light snow and freezing wind was adding to a tense atmosphere whenever someone entered or left the tavern. The young, 12-yearish nephew of the librarian seemingly caught the sympathy of several characters (and their players) when he mentioned that he was not very happy with reading all day long. (Even Daec understood his point, being more than an bookworm himself)… It was a busy day on the streets of Immilmar, one of the market celebration’s that take place only a few times a year, traders from far away places (even Halruaa) were participating and enjoying. So was Enelya (another character), herself a barbarian from the north and already enjoying Jhuild (rashemi firewine) for quite a while, when she first came to taste the real stuff, Jhuild from Urling. Seemingly happy with the content and good price she could achieve on the market she headed back to the tavern to meet with the others later that evening. Lysalis (the half elven warrior) and Wuhrynia (herself a dwarven cleric of Moradin) were back in the tavern as well… With growing hours the tavern was filling up to approximately 30 people, most of them traders from the vincinity of Rashemen and beyond, a handful of immilmar berserkers from the giant stag’s lodge and two warriors, who were probably swords for hire and accompanying a few of the traders. This is when Lysalis and Daec both recognized a feeling they had already had earlier that day, someone was watching them – and then – hell broke loose.(Hey I made a small mistake there, having the will save of the charm set a little too high and resulting in having 4 of 4 going loose on the tavern – but it was probably making things even a bit easier in this situation.) The hell that broke loose were characters berserking half-a-minute to kill (in mostly bestial ways) every single participant in the tavern, but the tavern-owner himself who was protected by an invisible wall of force. Every single one of the characters was trapped inside himself and experiencing a nightmare come true… All of this was ended when Daec cast two spells beyond his normal capabilities, dispelling another wall of force, surrounding the tavern exits and raising the dead to let them loose on whomever was close-by on the streets. In the heat of the fight, Lysalis beheaded a Wychlaran (a witch of the land, the highest judicators and upholders of the law in one person) and all warriors alike ended without causing more than a little distress to the party. The witch uttered a dying-curse on Lysalis leaving her with pustles all over her face and most of her body. When they teleported (another spell the are not capable of yet) out of the tavern and recovered from the bestial intrusion and control, they quickly gathered their wits and headed straight out of the city, back to an old druidic grove where they expected a pathway to the source of this evil. They arrived only to find the portal sealed shut from their side, having it rendered it useless for the time being.
After removing the curse of the wychlaran, it was time, that they decided for a little rest, having Wuhrynia cast a Divination to ask Moradin for guidance in the dark and having Daec at the same time uncover a few clues of the Journal-copy he received back in Immilmar. The divination was a riddle for itself, asking to ignore some strange giant and face the wrongdoer behind it all, and there was a clue pointing to a swamp in the south of the forest they were already in. A more detailled interpretation of this swamp should follow by Daec’s words, when he uncovered that a “Lord of Order”, one of the old ones, directly part of a long-ago battle against fire and ice (this is a heading and title of the whole campaign created by the former dungeon master), who is sleeping in the swamp for quite a while now… Only little later they faced a obviously crazy old man, himself very protective of a secret spot of mushrooms in the south, but besides an repelling stink friendly (though probably mad). After a short struggle, especially with the dwarf he belittled, the old eremite left for his home…
Another day with little more happening, than a arrow-like-thorns shooting bush, passed and the party made it finally to the borders of the swamps. It didn’t take long for them to spot “the best trail is here” – with Lysalis pointing in a different direction and trying to make a statement by heading into that direction. To her (very) misfortune, she was heading through an area that would usually be pretty deep in terms of water, but to her utmost misfortune she walked straight onto a diving (and hunting) 7-headed Cryohydra. A challenge for the weary warriors unfolded that almost took the life of a few of them, but in the end they could seperate four of the heads and the Hydra took the opportunity for a retreat, not to end as a dinner herself. (and it was really, really close – having Daec down to 1hp, and the other warriors all but at full health during the fight. It should be one of the remarkable days with a few not-so-lucky dice-botches… About an hour later, it was Enelya who faced a swamphole with underwater climbing plants that entangled her within a wink and pulled her down into a puddle of acid, living in a symbiotic relationship with the swampplants. The acid instantly gnawed on Enelya’s skin and armor alike, an in the futile attempt to rescue the barbarian it was Lysalis to join her on her side in the pool only a little later. It was the rashemi firewine that saved both their lives and on the surface Daec and Wuhrynia both took immediately care of Lysalis’ and Enelya’s wounds…
Then, after another rest and with little hope of finding the root of the evil (or the one who faced the evils before) I had a little bit of riddle-time prepared for them. First it was a translation riddle (I deny the use of comprehend languages for the attempt, since I think it’s a good practice and fun-time the players have when facing challenges together). With Daec leading their route and himself hardly aware of the pyramidic cairn in front of them, they first had the decrypt the meaning of the old runes in front of the cairn, then after entering had to decide by following a 9-picture riddle “crossroad” to apply a substance to the old guardian of the grave. If they decided right or wrong, trapped with the iron golem on little to no space will be obvious the next time and will get us straight into the action.
Special thanks for the outstanding performance of my players –
Andrea as Daec the Mystic Theurge, always good for a surprise and I think it’s the best character she has played so far, there is some faint smell of humor always surrounding “the youngster” as Daec was called by the two dwarves Brorim and Latizan. Eversince I’ve come to love this character and mentioning yesterday, the spaghetti (with and magnificent salmon sauce and an outstanding salad) – just unforgetable!
Jenny as the frontal approach barbarian with a player behind the screen that is enjoying her role pretty much (I think & hope) and who is really role-playing a character quite diametrical aligned to herself (in regards of books and knowledge at least). Quick-witted is something all your characters are and it’s very enjoyable that way.
Roman as Wuhrynia (I’m sure I’ve misspelled this one and I apologize for it) – back in the familiar dwarven clothes, though this time there are some minor differences (Ma’am). The dwarven cleric is quite/rather/very new, but I’m already fond of her. Roman did an outstanding job in seperating player’s and character knowledge yesterday (speaking of an old, mad man and his mushrooms) – that was pretty outstanding.
Thomas likes his characters very lawful aligned, I think he’ll always be the most tactical experienced and at the same time creative warfarer in the parties. He’s probably one of the reasons, how they managed to best the Cryohydra back in the swamp and does more than just an average job on keeping us all involved in rules and mechanics of the game.
Post Scriptum: I really enjoyed the gaming round yesterday, the players gave overall good feedback and did very much the same I think. Freemind was making my life as dungeon master very, very easy. So I recommend to use it as planning tool. To be honest, I can’t wait to sit on the dm’s seat again and hope to have them enthralled in their campaign, in their world and their actions all within the next weeks. My personal favorite was the acid-blob/pudding/jelly which was a spontaneous idea and felt just right – challenging, action, everything a good not-really-combat-encounter needs. Just nice to have these players around – they really make my day!
By the way I’ll be in Milano, Italy in the next days, have a nice week everyone. (Unfortunately it’s just a business trip) :-).