The Sunless Citadel: Session 2

kobolds

Hello everyone! I hope you enjoyed Aldo’s ballad as much as I did (if you did please tell me in the comments, I am sure more positive reinforcement will push him to write a second part). While I will not be writing in verse, it is time for me to discuss my second D&D session playing through The Sunless Citadel.

When we ended before, the party had just discovered an old keg, which had a small Water Elemental trapped inside. After scaring the creature away, the party was fairly battered. Seeing an empty room, complete with a door, the party barricaded themselves in the room and rested. Aman made some excellent use of his Dungeoneers Kit, spiking the door shut.

At the start of the next day, quite a lot of noise was made opening the door, which alerted a Kobold patrol. Swinging the door open, the party gained initiative on the poor creatures, and before any offer of parley could be discussed, the spindly foes were sliced down.

Ironically, in the following room the party was swayed by the crying form of Meepo the Kobold, who was sad that his dragon had been stolen.

meepo_the_kobold_better

Some highlights of this interaction included various party members playing off the pitiful voice and sniveling I gave this Kobold. Starfall the Persistent, keeping to his character’s personality, immediately felt sorry for the Kobold and wanted to help the creature. Persuading the rest of the group, Starfall decided to help Meepo and meet the Kobold chieftain.

Both Aldo and Milbee, while the rest of the party interacted with Meepo, stuffed the killed Kobold patrol into the keg the Water Elemental had retreated into. This required cutting and hacking the corpses into smaller more manageable pieces, but it was accomplished,  the Water Elemental is going to have quite the surprise when it returns from the pipes!

Traveling through some twisting and twining passageways, the party had a tense meeting with Yusdrayl, the Kobold sorcerer. I really tried to play up how badly this could end if the party did not interact respectfully and tactfully. During the negotiations I continually described to the party the horde or 20 some Kobolds crammed into the audience chamber behind them.

After some great roleplaying from all my players, the party found out that the Goblin tribe follows a being named Belak the Outcast, who arrived some time relatively recent. The mysterious magical fruit was also revealed to come from the Gulthias Tree (though they did not figure out what that means). The young Dragon, which was a vital element of the Kobolds’ arsenal, was recently stolen by the Goblins, swaying the power balance heavily in favor of the Goblins.

The party agreed, in return for some reward negotiated by Aldo, to return the dragon to the Kobolds’. Some of the players, Aldo specifically, grew concerned what would happened if the Kobold tribe became the ascendant power in the Citadel; however, his worries were largely brushed aside.

After venturing towards a rear entrance into Goblin territory, the party opened a sealed door, freeing 5 skeletons. I rolled a crazy number of critical hits knocking out 4/5 of the party members during various points of the combat. With a plethora of tense saves versus death, near misses by party members, and last minute heroics the animated bones were vanquished, which provided just enough experience points to hit level 2.

4e_skeletonsAt this point I informed the party that to advance in level they would have to return to the town to get a safe full nights rest.

Moving out of the Sunless Citadel, the party began the journey back to Oakhurst. Along the way we had a very excellent and creepy encounter on the road. Using scary music and vivid descriptions, I described to the party how they were hearing a strange whispering and rattling to the side of the road, in the underbrush. Thin trails of mist twisted across the road, shadowing a congealed dark pool of blood. The blood trail led into the underbrush, right towards the strange sound.

There were several tense moments as each player looked at each other, waiting for someone to declare an action. Noble, the past player of Legon, boldly declared, “I run past the pool of blood and down the road.” Relief etched itself across the rest of the players’ faces, as they all followed in suit. This was a really rewarding moment. Rather then charging into the underbrush, because there was a monster there, the party reacted to the mood and description fleeing down the road.

The party arrived at Oakhurst unmolested; however, this is where I think I began to make some DMing errors. The party stayed in the Ol’ Boar Inn, receiving some food and drinks as rewards for regaling the Innkeep with tales of their adventure.

Unbeknownst to the party, the Innkeep and Bar maid were followers of Belak the Outcast. The party’s drinks were poisoned paralyzing them in their sleep. The party then woke up, unable to move, in a wagon driving through the woods. After struggling to regain use of their limbs they arrived at a creepy stone sacrificial circle, where  their dark robed drivers met other robed cultists and began to place the characters on  stone slabs.

The party fought back, slaying the robed figures before any damage was done. After searching the cultists the party discovered the Innkeep and barmaid nefarious actions. Three cultists, town guards, were taken alive and questioned. The party discovered a few more prominent town members were also Belak’s followers, including a promiment member of the Town Guard.

The scent of blood, and the time the party spent questioning the guards, drew over a dozen Twig Blights, and for the first time in the campaign the party faced the creepy twig beings. Vanquishing them with some very nice use of fire spells (turns out over half the party has fire spells). Starfall, investigating the piles of twigs felt a great deal of revulsion, declaring them to be unnatural beings, and affront to Nature.

twig_blight

After some discussion the party determined it was too risky to head back into town just yet, so they would return to the Sunless Citadel.

This final part, with the cult, while very cool, felt more forced then I like to have happen. The rest of the adventure flowed very well, with character decisions clearly guiding how the adventure flowed. Though I think my party had fun during the final portion, I think they felt it was more of a jarring transition.

I have thought a bit on how this part could have been done better. I think allowing the party to level up with the dungeon, and only returning to town when they really wanted to, would have been a good step. I also think giving a few more cues of suspicious activity at the hands of the Innkeeper and Bar Maid would have made this part of the adventure more interactive, and just better.  This highlights a really important way to improve your DMing, constantly evaluate yourself after a session, think what worked, what didn’t, try to figure out how to avoid the bad things again, and how to build off the good. All DMs make mistakes, but good DMs recognize their mistakes, and try not to make them again :).

Other then the mistakes at the end, this session went really well. We had a great blend of roleplaying and combat, everyone participated in both types of encounters. I also think I role-played the Kobolds very effectively, using voices and body language to give each major Kobold character their own personality, which then amped up my own player’s roleplaying. Finally, I think my use of music and dramatic description, really helped improve the feel of the creepier encounters.

I would love to hear people’s reactions to the spin I have begun to put on the adventure, as well as your thoughts on my player poisoning incident.

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