Saturday, December 10, 2011

Elves, Oreos, and a New Beginning

The start of a D&D campaign is always an exciting time, so I had been looking forward to this past Thursday night’s session when we’d begin a brand new adventure. We’d dove right into our last couple of adventures (Tomb of Horrors and Expedition to Castle Ravenloft) with higher level heroic tier characters, but we decided to start off our new campaign with a party of still-wet-behind-the-ears Level 1 heroes.

After much serious contemplation, metaphysical cogitation, and geeky conceptualizing, the guys decided they’d play:

  • Blake— a razorclaw shifter barbarian, who makes some mean mashed potatoes (Andy).

  • Boojum— a pixie wizard, who enjoys riding around on his fey panther beast companion (Steve).

  • Dagon— a watersoul genasi artificer (Robert).

  • Gaultis— a goliath warden (Chad, a new player joining our group).

  • Silas— an eladrin vampire with special ties to the Raven Queen (Drew).

  • I, of course, would continue in my firmly established role of chaotic evil DM.

DM Tip: With Chad joining us for the first time, I was sure to inform him beforehand of a long-standing tradition that whenever a new guy joins our group, he has to bring a package of Double Stuf Oreos to his first session. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a “long-standing tradition” in the sense that we’ve ever had a new guy do it before… but, hey, traditions have to start somewhere, right? (What I didn’t tell Chad is that if he had neglected to bring the oreos, his character would’ve quickly found himself trapped all alone in a dark room with a very angry Level 22 elder red dragon. Chad must have suspected there might be trouble, though, since he brought three packages of oreos with him. Woo hoo! Don’t tell the others, but you are my new favorite player, Chad.)

The Adventure Begins…

Six months ago, Blake, Dagon, Gaultis, and Silas had volunteered for a short stint in the kingdom of Arbroath’s militia. After escorting a high ranking government official to the northern city of Hume, their enlistment was just five days away from expiring. Rather than travel all the way back south to the capital city of Forlindon (a ten day journey) before being discharged, they were given the option to stay in Hume for the last five days of their enlistment and take their discharge from there.

They chose to stay in Hume, so they were told they’d have to do some work with the city guards for those last five days of their enlistment. On their first day of patroling the city streets, the four friends came upon a disturbance that required their attention. Angry shouts and the sound of loud crashes were coming from a shop in the theater district. As they entered the shop, our heroes saw that it looked as if a tornado had torn through it. A pixie, its tiny arms full of costume jewelry, was flitting around in the air, chased by an angry shopkeeper waving a broom. The mischevious fey was squealing, “Ooooo, shiny! So pretty! Shiny, shiny, shiny!”

That was their introduction to Boojum. After calming the shopkeeper and sternly lecturing the apologetic pixie, Blake, Dagon, Gaultis, and Silas continued their assigned patrol, only to find that Boojum had unilaterally attached himself to their party. “I’m a fey, just like you!” he shouted in Silas’ ear as he perched on the unamused eladrin’s shoulder. “Ooooo, you’re a big ‘un!” he cried as he flitted around Gaultis. “Neat hammers! Can I have one?” he asked as he examined the throwing hammers tucked into Blake’s belt. “Like, hey, dude! Surf’s up! Ha ha ha!” he laughed as he circled around Dagon’s head.

Despite—or perhaps because of— the pixie’s continuing childlike antics, our four heroes found themselves accepting Boojum into their tight knit circle over the next four days, as the pixie followed them everywhere they went.

When they weren’t on duty, the party spent quite a bit of time exploring Hume’s offerings in the way of taverns. In several of the taverns, they heard that Lord Falkirk Bothwell of the barony of Newhaven had recently issued a call for adventurers to help with some kind of trouble in his realm. During their time together in the militia, the four comrades-in-arms had discovered that none of them particularly wanted to return to their previous lives after their enlistment was up. In fact, they found that they all shared a thirst for adventure and a desire to make a name for themselves out in the wide world. To that end, the four companions (and their new friend, Boojum— who is always up for some fun and excitement), decided they’d travel north to Newhaven just as soon as their enlistment expired.

That’s how our five heroes came to be walking (well, except for Boojum, who was riding his fey panther named Fred) north along the Trade Road. Along the way, they stayed for a night in the Armoured Duck Inn and met the innkeeper, a dragonborn named Balasar. While at the Armoured Duck, the party found out that Lord Bothwell—a paladin of Bahamut— resided at a fortress called The Citadel, which they would come to as they continued north on the Trade Road. Bothwell, they were told, had captured The Citadel about five years ago from an evil band of adventurers called the Six Hands of Fortune. Bothwell and his companions had slain four of the Hands, but the remaining two had escaped. Our five heroes also learned of rumors that spoke of some kind of recent trouble with the elves up in the Wintermist Forest. Balasar said he could hardly credit such rumors, though, as there had never before been any trouble with the Wintermist elves.

At The Citadel

When the party finally reached The Citadel, they found it to be an imposing stone bastion situated on a commanding hilltop. (I gave each player a map of the The Citadel so they could use it to keep notes on various locations and NPCs, if they so wished. Some of you may recognize the fortress from the D&D website as Restwell Keep or “The Keep on the Chaos Scar.” The website is where got this map.)

After being granted entry into The Citadel, the party was escorted to the inner bailey and into the fortress where Lord Bothwell (who bears a striking resemblance to Sean Connery) met them in the great hall. Bothwell asked the party many questions about their adventuring experience. Garrick Blackoak, the veteran sergeant of the guard, was ready to show the party the door when they confessed their only experience up to that point had been as members of Arbroath’s militia (and Boojum’s greatest feat of arms had been in a ‘war’ with some troublesome squirrels), but Bothwell reminded Blackoak that everyone has to start somewhere. Bothwell said he’d be quite pleased to hire the party to investigate the trouble up in the Wintermist Forest for him, and offered them 150 gp to undertake this quest. Despite the fact that they possessed zero experience as adventurers, Boojum and Silas decided they wanted to haggle a bit, and the pixie ended up convincing Lord Bothwell to increase their fee to 200 gp.

During the conversation, a jolly priest of Avandra had entered the hall and Bothwell introduced him as Halix Breland, a member of his Privy Council. Breland offered to put the party up in the Chapel of Avandra for the night, and Bothwell agreed. During dinner with Breland in the chapel’s living quarters, the party found out some more information about The Citadel. They learned that the two surviving members of the Hands were Thaliost (a male tiefling) and Deneith (a male human), but no one knew where they went after escaping from Bothwell’s attack on The Citadel. The talkative preist said that Beren Kell, Bothwell’s bailiff and another member of the Privy Council, had also served the Hands. “I was a bit surprised Falkirk kept him on since Kell’d served the Hands, but that’s all water under the bridge, as they say,” Breland told them.

When they asked him about the trouble up near the Wintermist Forest, Breland said he had heard the rumors about the elves, but he also could hardly credit such nonsense since there had never before been any difficulty with the Wintermist elves. When Dagon asked the priest if he had anything he could give them that might help them on their quest, the priest gave them a bag of holding that has the symbol of Avandra inscribed on it.

Elves Gone Wild

After traveling northeast from The Citadel for three days, the party came upon the smoldering remains of a farmstead. Dead farm animals littered the fields. A few corpses, some burned, revealed that the attackers were wanton and merciless. Dagon found a potion of healing and 10 sp in the remains of the farmhouse. As Silas examined some of the arrows that were still embedded in the farm family’s bodies, he realized that the arrows were elven in origin. Tracks in the muddy ground led off into the forest.

As the party followed the tracks, black arrows suddenly hissed out from the foliage near a grove of birch, elm, and maples. The PCs found themselves in a vicious battle against four elves and four hunting wolves.

  • Phystal— medium fey humanoid, elf (Level 2 Controller)

  • 3 Blackleaf Snipers— medium fey humanoid, elf (Level 1 Artillery)

  • 4 Hunting Wolves—medium natural beast (Level 2 Minion Skirmisher)

The PCs managed to hold their own against the surprise attack, and then they slowly gained the upper hand as they fought the elves through the thick underbrush and bracken. At the end of the battle, our heroes were able to capture Phystal, the elven war party’s leader. As they searched the bodies of their enemies, the party found 110 gp and an amulet of physical resolve. When no one was looking, Boojum shrunk the amulet down to tiny size and slipped it around his neck.

To learn something from Phystal, the party had to get past the defiance in her soulless black eyes. The party succeeded at the skill challenge that allowed them to interrogate the elf. They learned that the magical curse afflicting Phystal had an elemental origin. A victory in the skill challenge let them lift the curse corrupting Phystal’s mind. When she came to her senses, she warned, “There is evil in the forest, ancient and abominable. It whispers in the darkness, poisoning our minds. Beware, friends, lest you succumb to the same corruption.” After imparting those glad tidings, Phystal offered to lead our heroes to the grove in the center of the forest where the mysterious corruption seems to be originating.

What will our heroes find next week as they follow Phystal deeper into the forest?


DM Tip: To represent the elves in this encounter, I used some plastic Munchkin figures that I picked up quite a while ago at Total Escape Games, my FLGS. These fun plastic minis come in male and female, six to a pack, and each figure is a different color. They’re just the right size to use in a D&D game and so I turn to them them quite a bit to represent humanoid NPCs or monsters, and since each of the six figures is a different color, it makes it easy for me to track damage and whatnot (“The red elf takes six damage.” “The blue elf is slowed.”).

* I neglected to take any photos last Thursday night (even though I had put the camera in my backpack, I just totally spaced on remembering that I had it), but I’ll try to remedy that oversight in our future sessions.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to say that I ordered a flask of beer "to go" when I left the lucky duck. I'm saving it for when we capture the 2 ecaped fugitives...