From One Dungeon to Another

Hi everyone! Time for another exciting From One Dungeon to Another, the articles where my friend Christina and I blog about the same topic, often with very different conclusions. Christina’s blog can be found here.

Adventurer_In_A_Room_Filling_With_Water_And_Attacked_By_Skeleton_By_David_S_LaForce_from_GygaxDMG_1979

This week we thought we would discuss Unexpected Journeys, basically times that our players’ choices have taken the game in a completely unexpected direction. Since this is a very frequent occurrence in D&D, and I think one of the reasons the game is so fun, Christina and I agreed to narrow our discussion to one time this unexpected turn created amazing results and one time in completely exploded in our faces.

First up, the complete failure.

This was honestly a tough one for me. I have had tons of moments where players have gone “off script” but I have been playing with the same guys for over 7 years now, so I can roughly predict what style of things will appeal to them. I also plan my encounters thinking about creatures’ goals and motivations, which means I can flex around unexpected choices, and still have the players’ create awesome stories. Finally, I have quickly learned to not grow attached to any villains, as the encounters I think will be very cool always end up over fast, and the ones I expected to be easy end up a challenge.

Along those lines, the time player’s going an unexpected turn, resulting in a slightly less cool story happened in my Lost City campaign at college. My Assistant DM (ADM) and I had planned what we thought was an awesome encounter. Basically, the party was at the final part, of the middle arc, of a three arc campaign. They were invading a cult’s base. My ADM and I decided it would be very cool if in the base, the Necromancer lieutenant had the zombie minions, which were the corpses of characters that had died in the Lost City, complete with their magical equipment!

zombie We were very excited for the psychological impact fighting their old team mates would have, plus the zombies were no push over, since they had magical equipment, finally the Necromancer himself we thought was rather impressive. When the moment finally rolled up my ADM, who had done almost all the planning, was practically giddy with excitement. As he described the room we both anticipated the awesome reactions we would get, which would then descend into an awesome multi-round fight.

Not that day! One of the party members logically charged right for the Necromancer and one hit him, after which the cleric was easily able to Turn Undead making zombies fall to dust. Not quite the epic moment we pictured! I guess this isn’t completely an unexpected turn, as we figured they would fight the undead, we just didn’t picture it being such a lackluster fight…

Now onto the positive! Choosing one moment was very difficult; however, one moment, which completely changed the dynamic of the Lost City campaign, in an awesome way, kept coming to mind.

Earlier in the Lost City campaign, the party reached a point where they were aware that a powerful demon lurked underneath the Lost City, and they had concluded they wanted to slay him. One of the players, Aldo’s player in fact, was a Cleric devoted to a fire deity. He had heard of a nearby magma vein, were a very powerful Efreeti was imprisoned. Reasoning that potentially this powerful being may be worth visiting for a boon, as it was a creature of fire, the Cleric took the party on a quick journey to the Efreeti and his salamander minion’s prison. I did not see this coming, at all. I mean who would want to meet with the creature picture below, and try to make a deal! The ancients had imprisoned that creature for a reason?!

efreeti

I forget what the exact initial mission was, some sort of favor, but the party, specifically the fire Cleric, made an agreement with the efreeti that they would try to free him, in return for fighting Zargon. Now the whole party, once meeting the Efreeti, realized the trip was a massive mistake, so they planned on just never following through on the bargain. Unfortunately for the Cleric, this genie was not so easily dissuaded, upon shaking hands on the deal, the Cleric was cursed, his hand blackening, and told the longer it took to free the genie, the further the deadness would spread!

This was an epic moment in the campaign, and really created a turning point in the goals and desires of the group. Half the group wished to keep the Efreeti imprisoned, help the Lost City, and try to find a cure or just let the Cleric die. The other half demanded to free the Efreeti to save the Cleric. This caused a split in the party, which resulted in me actually dividing them, them coming up with plans, and eventually fighting with each other. The faction siding with the Cleric won out, freed the Efreeti, spelling doom for the Lost City and causing the surviving party members to flee the place. This was an epic story, created a ton of memorable moments, and all my players thought it was amazing! Without a few unexpected turns along the way it would never have happened.

Well those are two moments where my D&D games took Unexpected Turns, what are sometimes this has happened for you either as a player or a DM? Was the end result better then imagined or worse?

Please take some time and see what Christina’s moments were here, I am sure she has had some really neat situations crop up!

 

Temple of Elemental Evil: Session 1

Greetings! It finally happened, my group found time that worked for all of us, and we had our next gaming session, starting in on The Temple of Elemental Evil.

temple of elemental evil

I have been very, very excited to start this adventure, as it is on pretty much every “top 10 adventures of all time” list I have seen, and it was written by none other then Gary Gygax! We will be playing through the original adventure combined with the Village Hommlet, as pictured above. Shout out to my awesome girlfriend for giving me this classic adventure as a gift!

We did have a brief session weeks ago, during which the party drank and celebrated in Oakhurst, Noble got pick pocketed and lost 25 gp. While on the road to Hommlet the party met a peddler and discussed their past adventures. Finally, they used their survival skills to survive through an especially bad thunderstorm. As a reminder to readers, the party was attempting to apprehend several Death’s Head Cultist which escaped Oakhurst, and were seen on the road to Hommlet.

Right, onto the session, we got a lot done, so buckle in…

hommlet

Entering the village Hommlet, the party noticed that this settlement was larger then Oakhurst. It had an impressive multi-storied inn named “The Welcoming Wench,” which of course immediately started the joked that it was a brothel.

The group also had a tower up, on a hill, overlooking the village, which appeared to have a castle being constructed around it.

castle_being_built

Starfall, took note of an ancient looking grove, which was growing in the center of the village, where the village green would normally be. Searching her Knowledge Nature, she realized this was a Druid groove, and Hommlet must subscribe to the Old Faith, which is a Druid based faith. She took a mental note to seek out the Druid of this circle in the future.

The party, drawn in by the inviting smells of stew and the sounds of merry making entered the very busy inn. They saw several locals nursing beers and talking with each other, a large Half-Orc with an arsenal of weapons and a thin Tiefling at another table, and two busy young female barmaids taking care of tables. The Half-Orc was drinking a massive ale, which was in a mug that was essentially a mini barrel cut in half. Behind the bar was a female Half-Elf, named Gianna Farstrider, who seemed to be taking note of everything happening in the inn, while keeping special attention on the barmaids.

I was honestly shocked that Starfall did not make an immediate beeline for her fellow Tiefling; however, Starfall , Milbee, and Aman strolled to the bar. Starfall started by ordering a drinking, discovering the inn had quite an extensive drink menu. The original adventure module listed half a dozen wines, which I promptly improvised more interesting names for. After hearing the wine names, Starfall decided on a bottle of the “Emerald Green” a shimmering, lime, green wine, which was brewed by the Wood Elf people to the West.

Aman was practically bouncing with impatience to order his own drink, eyeing up the halfbarrel ale the Half-Orc had; however, Starfall focused on tracking down the cultist began asking Gianna questions. Unfortunately for Starfall and Aman, the questions were a bit too blunt and obvious, causing Gianna to view the pair with suspicion. The Half-Elf quickly exited back into the kitchen, claiming she had to look in on the cook. Aman was quite put out, realizing he would have to wait even longer for his drink!

Busy Inn

After a few minutes, the male Human walked behind the bar, introducing himself as Fred Farstrider, Gianna’s husband. Aman quickly ordered the halfbarrel ale, before his party members had a chance to chase off this bartender too. The Mul then happily drank away, as his party members chatted with the Fred. They found out that Gianna was the head of the militia, and that the two barmaids, who had a hint of elvish about them, were actually Fred’s and Gianna’s daughters; the family owned the Inn.

Noble, concerned about room arrangements, paid for the best room in the house, the suite, which was included a sitting room and a feather bed! Aldo, eyeing up the busy crowd, saw a chance to potentially earn some coin, and asked if he could play in the common room. Fred, excited to see the potential business music could bring in, offered Aldo free room and board in return for playing 2 hours a night.

At this point the whole group began to do a ton of very fun and entertaining roleplaying of their character’s actions in the bar, drinking, singing, more drinking, and drunkenly stumbling around, this was a blast and is something I haven’t had a group really get into before. Rather then going into to full details, I will hit the highlights.

  • Aldo played a very entertaining song for the common room (complete with actual music for the group to hear). As an additional interest, Milbee added a silent image of moving images telling a heroic story of dwarf fighters banding with human tribesmen to fend off the Death’s Head cult. Amazed and very entertained an even larger crowd was pulled into the inn. The pair received a whole bottle of wine from 3 very pleased audience members. Aldo held his alcohol well, but Milbee quickly became quite drunk. The second song was less clean, and instead of an interesting image, Milbee created dozens of dancing sheep, which only he and a few audience members found amusing (Milbee is an ex-sheppard and so frequently descends into rants about sheep). This then drunkenly devolved into dozens of sheep mating in the air, with Milbee and one audience member cheering and highly amused.
    • One of the many admirers Aldo talked to was a flamboyantly dressed Gnome, who tipped him a who gold piece, thanking him for bringing some culture to this backwater. The gnome dressed very smartly, had 5 different daggers strapped on his belt.
  • Aman bought a shot of Fire Whiskey for himself, Aldo, and Milbee, which Fred wore a mask while pouring. The liquor caught fire once poured into a mortar-like shot glass. Blowing the flame out, Aman promptly took the shot, as did Milbee, Aldo Sleight of Handed to look like he drank it. Aman then became quite drunk, stumbling through the crowded common room looking for the Half-Orc he saw when entering the bar; however, he was unable to find him, which did not stop him from wandering around looking for the rest of the night.
  • At the bar, Aldo met Elmo, a burly human who rambled about the dagger his “brudder” gave him, and lamented his lack of adventuring opportunity.
  • Starfall, pretty buzzed from her bottle of wine, was hit on by several of the locals. One particularly persistent local got screamed at by Starfall, until Noble knocked her out and dragged her upstairs into her own room.
  • Noble, the only party member not drinking, played the role of the watchful parent, making sure nothing happened to the party, and dragging members up to their rooms when they became too belligerent. Apparently, their experiences in the inn at Oakhurst had left an impression on Noble :).

After the common room cleared out, Aldo and Noble gained a chance to talk to Gianna, Fred, and their dwarven cook. They then presented their letter of introduction from the mayor of Oakhurst, which helped smooth over any lingering suspicion Gianna had.

Aldo and Noble discovered that the cultist they were following had been in town a few days ago, and visited several location, including the laborers working on the keep. Apparently the keep was to be the home of Burne the Fighter and Rufus the Wizard. They were adventurers who had gained a reputation after slaying a Green Dragon to the West, and some Bandits to the East. They also were the people in charge of “Burne’s Rangers” a local mercenary group with a good reputation.

Worried about the potential security risk cultist could cause in the building of the castle Aldo and Noble decided to visit the tower Burne and Rufus were staying in the next day.

tower

 

The following day, the party quickly ventured to the lone tower, overlooking the town. They discovered an orderly grouping of tents where the laborers stayed. In the construction they saw about a dozen laborers, a burly human that Gianna identified as Burne, and a dozen of Burne’s rangers; all working on the foundation of the keep. She also pointed out a elf male, Rufus, studying some papers on a table.

Hailing Burne and Rufus, she quietly introduced the party, and then made her way back to the Welcoming Wench. Rufus invited the party into the tower, stating their were too many ears about outside. The party bantered back and forth with the pair, mainly with Rufus. Milbee became quite intrigued by Rufus’s spell of Create Food and Water, asking if he could learn it.

They discovered an old base of the cult was to the West, a place known only as the Ruined Moat House. It was shunned by the locals, but had frequently become a base for bandits, orcs, and other being with ill intent.

The party asked the Wizard what he knew of the Temple of Elemental Evil, he knew very little, except that it was supposed to be a ruin which was to the South West of the village of Nulb, a settlement North West of Hommlet.  The party bought a map of the area off the Wizard, in order to easily find Nulb and the Temple.

The party then began to discus their own trials in the Sunless Citadel, mentioning the book of Amansur. Shocked that they had found such a treasure, Rufus stated that they must destroy the evil book at once. Amansure would have placed a piece of his own self into the book, and possessing it, much less using it, was far too dangerous to risk.

Noble and Milbee, both who had flipped through the book, looked at each other with worry and asked when sign of such corruption would show. They were assured that such corruption would manifest within hours, if it was to happen.

The party agreed to hand the book over to Rufus, who in return gave the party a choice between a Potion of Greater Healing or a Scroll of Create Food and Water. Milbee obviously chose the scroll, looking forward to learning the spell in the future. After an intricate ritual, Rufus then destroyed the evil spell book, awarding each party member 1000 experience points, enough for them to level up!

Leaving the tower, the party split up, with Milbee and Aldo heading back to the Inn, Starfall to the grove, Noble looking for an old man in the common room who seemed to know about the temple, and Aman for the blacksmith.

For each of these separate interactions I decided to split the group up and interact with them separately in a different room. In a different order then the actual interactions occurred first up Starfall.

UlraedGrove

Investigating the ancient grove, Starfall was at first unable to find an way in, past the bramble barrier; however, the vegetation opened up for her, and a wizened Elf, leaning on a oak staff introduced himself as Jaroo Ashstaff, the Druid of this grove. He invited her in, stating it would be good to talk with a fellow Druid.

Entering the grove, Starfall was amazed that the place seemed much bigger inside, almost like a complete forest. Several animals were seen among the trees. Starfall then talked with Jaroo attempting to find out more about the Temple. She found out that Jaroo knew very little, but offered his assistance and healing to the party when they needed it. He also warned Starfall to tread carefully, because not everyone in the town was who they seemed, the agents of the cult were everywhere.

Aman, meanwhile unsuccessfully looked for Plate Armor at the smith, and then returned to the inn.

Noble, unfortunately, wandering through town, discovered that the town was not as safe as it seemed. He realized he had gained a tail, and darted down a abandoned pathway. He attempted to cast Hold Person on his tail, but the darkly robed humanoid shrugged off the effects of the spell, charging the Cleric with a snarl. The hood of the robes fell back, revealing the figure to be a orc!

A desperate fight ensued, with a second assailant attacking Noble from behind. Though he fought well, Noble was knocked out.

As the party arrived at the Welcoming Wench, they soon realized that Noble was missing. Gianna brought over a letter that she said had been dropped off for the party. Opening it they read:

We have your friend, if you wish him to live, leave town, now! Once you leave town we will set him free a week later. If you do not leave we shall kill him!

After some joking that they would publicly announce their plan to remain, the party slunk out of town, but remained about an hour outside of the settlement. They determined that Noble was most likely being held at the Ruined Moat House. Aldo, using his disguise kit, changed his appearance and then went back into Hommlet, Starfall, shape changed into a mouse went along with him.

They sought out a Tailor they had heard was in town. It turned out to be the foppish gnome who introduced himself as Trim Mossrock. Aldo, trusting the gnome, revealed his identity, and asked the gnome if he could make 2 identical cultist robes to the one they already had. The gnome nodded, and said it would cost 50 gp, he then asked if he could join the party, stating that the militia wouldn’t let him join because they thought he was too weak to be helpful, an adventure would surely prove differently. Aldo, taking a liking to the Gnome, agreed to let him join the party, with an agreed upon price of 3% of the treasure.

The party then ventured to the borders of the ruined moathouse, with their cultist disguises, and looked on the ruin where their friend was being held…

moathouse

This is where we decided to stop, on a nice cliff hanger to get the party excited for our next session. Whew that was a lot more then I initially thought! I would love to hear peoples’ thoughts, reactions, and comments. Also, if you have any requests for topics please feel free to put them in the comments!

From One Dungeon to Another

Hello Everyone! Today I am writing another exciting “From One Dungeon to Another.” This is a series of articles where my fellow D&D blogger Christina and I post about the same topic, and then provide links to each other’s posts, to provide interesting contrast. You can find Christina’s blog here.

Onto the topic, for this “From One Dungeon to Another” we will be discussing our top 3 favorite Player Classes, for simplicity sake we kept it limited to the classes in the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook. As my regular readers will know, I rarely get to play as a player, so these are based on older games, or impressions.

In no particular order, here we GO!

The Barbarian 

Conan (1)

I have always really liked the idea of these lightly armored, berserk warriors. There is something iconic about the fur clad, roaring barbarian, that just screams Dungeons and Dragons. Plus there are a lot of really nice chances for roleplaying with the Barbarian class, you can be the short spoken Barbarian, or shock your fellow players with being insightful and wise, similar to Logan Ninefingers from the First Law Trilogy. Even Conan, the poster boy for the short spoken strong man, knew what is best in life :D!

I also really enjoy the wilderness aspect of the Barbarian class, Survival and Wilderness Lore are things which always seem needed in the group, but are often lacking. It add some nice potential when thinking about character background, and creative things for your character to do out of combat. Maybe the Barbarian is passionate about wildlife preservation, or is an avid gardener.

Finally, I think Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition has added a lot of really neat feature to the class to give it a very different feel from the common fighter. The variety in the totem in particular interests me.

The Paladin

paladin

The Paladin is a class that I think has so much potential. You can play the holy avenger, the knight in shining armor, or the wise warrior.

One of my favorite characters, which I have mentioned before, was Sir Edmond De Le Guile, the Lawful Neutral Paladin. He was an elitist, arrogant knight. He was a blast to roleplay, I loved using my share of the loot to pay NPCs to be my valet, cooking my meals and cleaning my clothes. I called party members peasant, and would perk up at the mention of damsels in distress. Perhaps I was a bit TOO much of a caricature, but it was great for the one-off he was used in. I would love to give the Paladin another go, but I would potentially try to jovial but absurdly good knight this time.

Finally, rules wise I really enjoy the changes 5th edition has given to the class. They feel very unique and bring a lot of fun additions to the game. There magic is actually useful, and you can channel Smite against any enemy, very cool!

The Wizard

Wizard

The master of magic, the wonder of whimsy, yup my final favorite class is the classic Wizard! Since I can remember, one of my all time favorite fictional characters has been Gandalf, and during my initial forays into D&D I always played a Wizard, which I imagined as Gandalf.

As I gained a deeper understanding of the game, I was intrigued by the potential that powerful spells could bring to the table. I also really felt drawn to the less straightforward play style Wizards had. The variety of spells the Wizard has over the Sorcerer also gives the class a great deal of flexibility, which I enjoy.

While I haven’t played a Wizard for a long time, it remains one of my all time favorite classes. It is an icon of D&D and I always love DMing a party that has a creative Wizard.

Well that is it for my top 3 favorite classes. What are your favorite classes? Are there any on my list you were surprised by?

Be sure to check out Christina’s post here and see what here favorite classes are.