Sunday, December 21, 2014

My first random encounter table

Not related to the ongoing campaign, but since we won't be able to meet to play over the holidays and I was bored at work I wrote up this d20 random encounter chart for the adventure setting that is contemporary Cairo. There are several inside jokes and probably requires a functional knowledge of current Egyptian politics and a bit of arabic but that's how we roll:

You are adventuring in Cairo when:

  1. Traffic. You are 1d4 hours late to whatever you were hoping to do today; a roll of 4 means an important person is passing and good luck getting anywhere
  2. A group of young men aggressively try to sell you jeans. Make a charisma check at DC 12 or find yourself in an upper story sweatshop trying on pants.
  3. Infrastructure failure (roll 1d4): 
    • 1. Electricity cut
    • 2. Sewage pipeline has exploded in the street
    • 3. Building or bridge collapse
    • 4. The worst pothole (DC 10 Dexterity check, failed save means you fall into infinite gaping void of the pothole. You and all your possessions disappear)
  4. Food poisoning: take 1d8 poison damage and make a constitution save at DC 15; a failed save means the ghost of the questionable meat will take over your body and force you to kill the nearest donkey butcher. 
  5. A ravenous mob of 2d6 Tantes. The tantes use pack tactics and will cast entangling illogical argument and things were better a long time ago. Each turn with the Tantes you must take an intelligence test at DC 10, on failure you will inflict d8 damage to yourself. 
  6. d10 shabab (50% chance that shabab will be riding 1d4 motorbikes), the shabab know the spell mahraganat and cast it at as a level 8 magic user.
  7. Sentient cloud of tear gas
  8. A mysterious alchemist offers to cure any diseases your party suffers from by turning them into skewers of grilled meat
  9. d6 plainclothes police appear and accuse you of violating whatever law is popular this week. They will accept a bribe of d4*100gp
  10. A giant monster formed from mountains of bureaucratic paperwork given life by years of frustration. The monster is immune to non-magical weapons, and unless the proper stamps and signatures are used against it cannot be killed, only banished until it returns after d4 days. On the plus side, the monster is only active between the hours of 10AM-3PM
  11. A taxi driver who will complain and attempt to sexually harass you. You must negotiate a fare to Nasr City. If defeated he has a Staff of Taxi Meter, which can be used d4 times each day to make small distortions to distance, time or monetary amounts.
  12. Black cloud! Suffer 2d6 pollution damage or twice that on a failed save. If the black cloud reduces you to 0HP, you will rise again as a government spokesperson assuring citizens that the matter is under control. 
  13. Zahi Hawass, accompanied by 2d6 undead. He is in possession of the Hat of Indiana Jonsieness (the hat has no magical properties)
  14. Nos Sha’aban - You must head to the nearest bar and drink as much as you can before the bars stop serving at sunset
  15. d10 Salafis casting Shorten Pants and Grow Wiry Beard. Attacks by women deal them an extra die of damage
  16. Siyad’t al wazir al safir al basha al doctor al mostashar. A very important person with d6 bodyguards passes, failure to identify him by the proper titles will cause them to attack unless you donate d6*100 GP to Sanduq Tahya Masr
  17. A muezzin with a truly terrible voice renders the call to prayer so badly that a gateway to hell is opened in front of the masgid. The portal will remain open for 1d4 days but is guarded by a level 10 demon
  18. An urchin tries to sell you Kleenex. If you refuse impolitely the urchin curses you so that the next mundane item you need can only be acquired in ‘Ataba; the search will take 1d6 days through the labyrinthine alleys.
  19. More police, if you have four of anything, if there are four of you, or if anything four related can be a associated with your party you will be accused of being part of the Brother Muslimhood and attacked
  20. Roll again twice on this table and combine the results into one event of a sort only Egypt is likely to produce.

Session 6: Gaining a purpose

We're getting a bit more confident in play by now, so it seems we're moving on towards a character-directed storyline. Should be fun


Well, it seems as if our band of gentle murder-hobos has found a calling. Scroll to the bottom for some useful summary

The night started off simple enough, with Kerouac and Suicidelegs carousing about on the town only to find that a bit of drunken bragging led to a back-alley mugging attempt. The would be robbery was dealt with and the gents met up with Guark, who had his own troubles to deal with later if not now as his loutish brother had deeply offended a ranking aristocrat.

Kerouac, still without his spell book, convinced the gents that they should all seek out a tower with some strange (probably magical) lightning emanating from it on the assumption that wizardly things were going on there. After finding the gravity-mangled corpse of renowned thief Dalia Lorenzo at the base of the tower, however, the party chickened out and tiptoed their way back past the lightning fields. On the plus side, they discovered a new neighborhood, Thornhall, which seems to be a wealthy elvish enclave carved out amongst gargantuan petrified trees.

As they made their quick exit, poor Nadir the manservant mistook Guark for his long-lost master Tariq, and though the suspicious murderhobos didn’t quite to accompany Nadir to whatever store of riches his master had left in safekeeping they did convince the manservant to accompany them as a free hireling (oxymoron!)

For some reason they thought seeking out a mysterious woman would be less dangerous than a weird wizard’s tower, and went looking for Cleopatra, that mysterious young lady on the run from her aristocratic parents. Turns out she’d started hanging out in another bar across town, The Ghastly Stone, populated with poets and anarchist types. The group met Wahida, a member of the local citizens' committee in Diggers’ Den who told them there’d be a public meeting later that day, and settled in to wait for Cleo. In no time Suicidelegs not only worked his proletarian charm but also lost all the loot he’d gotten off the bandits betting on the wrong mutant grub caterpillar (smooth). 

Wahida explained (I mean reminded, of course) that the Plutocrat elites and vampires (not a metaphor, it might seem) were running the city into impoverishment, spying on the citizenry and trading on their very memories for pleasure. Diggers’ Den had managed to organize a semi-autonomous zone with a citizens’ committee organizing security, kicking out the memory markets (where the wealthy bought the memories of the poor for pleasure) and some neighborhood services, but they were still unsure about their ability to make further inroads against the plutocracy. They’re also worried that too aggressive of moves now would cause their uneasy detente with the city watch to break down.

The meeting hour came, and some rousing Braveheart shit type speechifying from the gang. With some rough looking types joining the cause, many were pleased by the thought of some extra muscle but most were cautious about the possibility of actually enacting any of the grand revolutionary moves suggested without more force / a stronger plan. 

Cleopatra, however, noted that the reason she’d run away in the first place was that her parents were involved in planning for a new factory powered by human sacrifice. She said that plans were in the Tower HQ of corporation x, and that if stolen there would be opportunities for sabotage and exposing the plan to the public. She would join the group but most of the others in the bar were still too unsure to commit physical support; this would have to be a wildcat mission.

Kerouac wisely sought out the services of the best thief he knew, Miguel the hands, but the thieves’ stronghold was locked and deserted, neighborhood folk and shopkeepers around said they’d not heard from The Hands or his associates in several days, quite peculiar indeed. Suicidelegs & Guark sought out Sgrot’s aid, who transformed them temporarily into sneaky were-rats. Joining back up the party took a quick peek in Miguel’s hideout courtyard, decided against dealing with the dogs, and made for the Tower headquarters.

They thought the best course of action would be sending in Cleo to distract the thuggish private security out front of the building, but perhaps not yet adjusted to their new rat forms stumbled loudly and the jig was up. Cleo was grabbed by one guard while an alarm was shouted and combat ensued. 

A good day for hired thugs or a bad day for our crew, either way this turned out to be a bloody combat, and further attempts at scaling the tower walls were thwarted when backup arrived and more bloodshed. Our would-be-heroes made their retreat for the night, brushed but perhaps a bit wiser from the experience.

Having failed to secure the plans, the company will likely tighten security, and if the attack can be traced back to its conspirators then retaliation should be expected. 

Friends Made:
Nadir the manservant, who really wants to help his master get his stuff back
Cleo the burgeoning thief/anarchist
Wahida, head of citizens’ protection committees in Diggers’ Den

Other Revelations:
Sgrot seems to be able to transform you into were-rats, this may be worth further exploration
Thornhall, with it’s petrified megatree towers, seems to host the city’s fancy snobby elf community.
The secret police use a series of magical viewing eyes embedded in stones throughout the city

There’s something weird going on at Miguel the Hands’ thievy hideout, might warrant investigation

Session 5: More monster

A shorter session tonight due to dallying and character creation, but enough time to conclude A Single Small Cut, which we began last time. Again, so close to character deaths, so far away.

Covered in the foul remains of the demonic beast they had just slain, our shaken party took stock of their grim situation. Tirias and Suicidelegs lay unconscious on the floor of the church, brought back from the brink of death but still grievously wounded. Soothed by Fiddlesticks' song of rest, the party regained some vigor; the bard however was still shaken by the jabbering madness of the beast and went off to seek some oblivion at the bottom of a tankard of ale. Likewise, Suicidelegs needed more time to recover and refocus his ki after being brought so close to death. Guark was torn away by circumstances, as his mother-in-law was visiting and orcish mothers are more fearsome than horrible corpse demons.

As Tirias and Kerouac rested on the church steps, debating their next move, a peculiar fellow quietly approached Kerouac, introducing himself as Riverman, a friend of Miguel's, looking for the wizard to pay him a cut of the profits from Miguel's scheme. Asking about the gruesome scene, he was filled in about the church, the crypt, and the mysterious red bell. Riverman, with a cool and inscrutable nonchalance, said he would explore the crypt with them, but he insisted that he would not be party to any theft. 

Descending into the crypt, the trio were immediately confronted with the smell of fresh slaughter. At the entry to a low, narrow stone corridor they saw the mutilated remains of several bodies, torn to pieces beyond recognition. Stepping gingerly past the gore, they continued down the hall flanked with niches housing mouldering bones. At the end of the hall, a large wooden door lay ajar, the huge lock that had barred it lay on the floor, its thick hasp sawn through. Peeking inside this smaller room, the three saw a sarcophagus with its stone lid askew, depicting a knight in repose, and on the floor three more bodies covered in small circular wounds. 

Entering this tomb, they noticed the mummified remains of a knight, his rusted sword and a shield depicting a bird of prey in the sarcophagus with him, as well as a blank scroll. Tirias grabbed the Shield while Kerouac picked up a bloody bag off one of the bodies with some loot in it, when Riverman saw the bell. A large red garnet, meticulously cut, it lay on the floor near the bodies. Amidst a quick debate about what to do with the object, Riverman, with the same cool demeanor, decided to walk over and just pick the damn thing up.

As he casually lifted the bell the clapper struck the mouth, letting out a deafening, resonant clang. Although the party didn’t notice anything further, they decided this would be an excellent cue to exit. Leaving the tomb back to the corridor, they watched in horror as the dismembered bodies began to assemble into another horrible monstrosity, blocking the way out. Riverman, in possession of the bell, heard through it the cacophonous shriek of souls driven mad, as well as a faint, other angry presence. Kerouac fired his ray of frost to slow the approach of the putrid being, while Riverman and Tirias loosed arrows and crossbows at the creature. With the monster still bearing down on them, they let loose blasts of arcane fire and retreated into cover behind the stone sarcophagus. Though smaller than the previous incarnation, the newly formed beast struck more fiercely, and first Riverman then Kerouac fell while blasting it with more fire. Grievously wounded himself, Tirias made one last desperate attack against the beast, which withered and fell. A frantic few minutes passed as the ranger attempted to apply first aid to his dying colleagues. Riverman, on the cusp of oblivion, saw a cackling vision of the inhuman entity he had cheated for his powers, but before the fiend could seize him was revived by Tirias

The three exited the crypt. A bath would be a good idea.

Loot Found: Some sliver coins and candlesticks, and the red bell, now safely swaddled in cloth.

Friends Made: Riverman!

Session 4: Good Plans gone bad

First split-party experience, not exactly ideal for a new DM or a group with limited time to play. I'd planned to trigger Michael Curtis' A Single, Small Cut whenever the party next entered a church, I just didn't expect it to be so soon. 

A bard without an instrument, a wizard without a book
Herbert Fiddlesticks, thought to be lost at sea, washes up in the muck of the banks of the River of Sorrows, bereft of his sweet gear. He slowly regains consciousness and hears two men, thinking him dead or close enough, discussing finishing the poor sap off and selling the body to someone called Zastra who’s apparently paying a premium for fresh corpses. He takes a club to the face but responds with a psychically charged insult, the men lose nerve and back off. Wandering through the city, Herbert finds himself at one of the fanciest clubs in town
 (probably looked something like this)
in Highmark, and smooth talks the bouncer into letting him in through the back to fix the plumbing. There, he destroys the confidence of the band’s organist (jerk) and blows them away with an inspired performance; The Haunted Dolls get booked for a regular gig thanks to Herb, and they pay him well for the help and ask him to jam with them anytime. Reading in the papers about the brewery explosion and Kerouac's (or is it Kevin?) arrest, he goes to Crystal Hall (not before grabbing that waitress’ contact info) to the scene to try and find clues of his comrades. Grabbing a few impossibly lavish custards that fell off the back of a truck headed to the palace, he follows the trail of the previous day’s chase and bribing a one of the denizens of The Scabs, makes it to the Harmless Moon and reunites with Suicidelegs and Tirias, to try and figure out how to help poor Kerouac.
Kerouac meanwhile also finds himself on the River of Sorrows, locked in a cell on a prison hulk awaiting his trial date. A new prisoner is walked in, who almost seems like he’s there by choice he’s so cavalier, and introduces himself as Miguel The Hands, an artist and dealer in art and "other interesting things.” Miguel not only knows about the Sexy Drawings:
 hidden on Kerouac’s person, but is interested in them and offers to trade them in exchange for helping Kevin, err Kerouac, escape. Miguel picks the first lock, and the pair walk to what turns out to be the galley. Ignoring the chef they move forward, to the duty captain’s office. The sound of the lock being picked wakes the sleeping captain, but hardly does he open his eyes before Miguel cuts his throat (the guy seems…effective). Kerouac cleverly grabs the hourglass off the desk to enable him to cast his sleep spell if needed. Above deck Kerouac decides not to tempt fate, leaving his equipment and spell book behind and jumping to Miguel’s waiting rowboat. The alarm however is raised, and the two escapees have to row for dear life amidst a hail of crossbow fire. Channeling some heretofore unknown endurance (do you even nat20, bro?), they escape relatively unharmed. Miguel takes the drawings and agrees to bring Kerouac his 10% once he closes the deal.

Law and Order: Justice is in the Pie of the Beholder
Suicidelegs and Tirias wake to the depressing absence of their smarmy wizard companion. Going for a nooner at the HM, they have a tearful reunion with the Tabor Denizen fills them in on some of the intricacies of trial by pie, telling them they need a specialist attorney to bake the pies or else the wizard won’t stand a chance and will be sent to the fighting pits. Getting a recommendation from Tabor, they make their way to the offices of Olga Selfrin; unfortunately, they can’t afford her retainer, but they start to work out a trade for some exotic ingredients. They give her a hundred of the telepathic silver snails (the snails are inconsolably upset at being sold), and as she’s about to send them off for more ingredients, suddenly the mood changes. Herbert turns up the charm (another goddamn 20!) and works out an “alternative payment plan” while Suicidelegs and Tirias wait outside. Olga takes the case.

Not content with letting the law run its course, our heroes start to cook up a backup plan in case the trial goes south. They seek out an armorer for some simple weapons, and asking about gunpowder, are surprised to find that it exists in this world (*ahem*), but it’s very rare and only found amongst clergy of the Church of the Eminent Machine, which the gang knows little about other than their love of machinery, speed, and a bizarre notion of “progress”. The blacksmith points them to the nearest church, and they enter and are greeted by a man calling himself Father Brass. Herb puts on a good show of piety, and the father agrees to help them but requests they leave their weapons at the door (everyone successfully bluffs their way into keeping daggers concealed on their person, Suicidelegs doesn’t even give a shit about weapons). The padre walks them up the nave and everything seems great until he’s got a piano wire around Fiddlesticks' neck and crossbowmen are firing at the other guys from the gallery. Suicidelegs, with blinding monk speed, moves to engage immediately with two shooters, as Tirias tries to save his strangled friend. Some more quick persuasion and a knife to the throat leads to a classic standoff, which is duly interrupted by two more brigands busting out of the crypt and running for the door. A nightmarish roar is then heard, as a huge, shambling corpse beast makes its way out of the crypt, screaming from its many mouths and flatulently rolling its orifice laden hulk towards the assembled party. 

Everybody runs for their lives.

As the monster makes itself at home within the church, the gang decides that some revenge is in order and decides to kill the supposed priest as he flees. Kerouac shows up in time to slow him down with frost, and the rest is just an old fashioned murderin’. They find a note on his body saying something about taking the red bell tomorrow. Further interrogation proves fruitless as this man is dead. Actual members of the Church of the Eminent Machine show up, and strike a deal with the heroes to give them some blackpowder and whatever they find in the crypt if they help with the giant shambling flesh monster problem. 

A horrible battle ensues; the monster seems to have incredible staying power, as attack after attack fall into the corpse-flesh body, whittling away blood, meat and gristle but not killing the beast fast enough as it screamed and wailed from motley orifices. It lashes out with horrendous tentacles tipped with sphincter like mouths and mismatched teeth and bits of jawbone, rending flesh with each strike. First Suicidelegs then Tirias fall unconscious under the withering attacks, as the beleaguered mage and bard deal the killing blows they only hope they will be in time to stabilize their dying companions. The monster finally explodes in a hail of giblets, bone, fluids and flesh. And the two survivors run over to stabilize their dying friends’ wounds (George the hawk even helped, although in retrospect the hawk should not have been able to do so but rolling with it). 

I had a bit of trouble converting the Corrector of Sins' stats from LotFP to DnD5e, but with some HP fudging behind the scenes made it respectably deadly; Also, the stabilization and resuscitation rules in 5e make it seem like it's quite difficult for characters to die in normal circumstances, unless of course everyone is down for the count at the same time. Two players here were within a turn of dying and were saved, although I suppose it's fortunate that the other two killed the monster at the same time so they could actually provide help bringing their comrades back.   

Session 3 Report: Don't get caught.

After a few strange rounds at the pub, it was clear that something was wrong with the beer. Not only was the tavern filled with many more belligerent drunks than usual, several people were being yelled at by various small animals, and several beers were talking, singing even through some strange medium. Kerouac, and a rather inebriated Tirias (who was trying to get away from the annoying conversation of the barkeep’s dog) headed to the Stormhammer brewery, a short walk across the city in the Crystal Hall neighborhood.

In front of the brewery a mob of drunks and teetotalers faced off, and the two adventurers convinced the picketers to let them through. Inside, a strangely quiet and placid front office. The receptionist, with a bovine look in her eyes, strongly encouraged our heroes to take the brewery tour. She then was very keen on having the boys try the newest batch of Fustre’s "No. Really. you. must.” Wanting no part in the dubious brew, Kerouac attempted to knock her unconscious but merely sent her reeling and calling for security. 

Security arrived, a much larger and more heavily armed clutch of guards than one would expect at a brewery, perhaps mercenaries who’d been drinking too much of the new Fustre’s themselves (they did have a strange look on their skin and eyes, didn’t they?)? Things looked brief as the guards grabbed both Tirias and Kerouac, dragging them into the back rooms, until Guark arrived (unable to convince the teetotaler’s to let him through, his axe did the talking and started a riot outside) and provided some needed bolstering

After a close call with the guards and a spot of rest, the gang continued the tour self-guided and entered the main brewing floor, where huge blobs of sentient, chattering yeast colonies spoke of hatred from their enslavement to produce beer for so long. The yeast was a potentially deadly foe, wounding and poisoning Guark; he swung his mighty axe only to see the mass split into two new foes. Fortunately, evocation savant Kerouac made handy use of his frost ray to hold the monstrosities in place, turning a potentially fatal encounter into a winnable fight.

The gang decided that to be sure they’d put a stop to the yeast they had to torch the brewery, and left the building doing that cool walk-away-from-the-explosion move… right in front of a large complement of city guards dispatched to quell the rioting. A chase ensued through markets and back alleys, across the rooftops and rope bridges of the buildings. At the last moment, escape in sight, Kerouac fumbled and catastrophically lost his footing, finding himself in the dust, surrounded and caught.

The wizard was taken to a holding cell awaiting a trial by pie, one of the city’s bizarre baroque means of inquisition. The others retreated to their encampment in Sgrot’s sanctuary, but not before seeing another band of wolves in the dark alleyways feeding on…something; too tired to engage the beasts, they returned home.

Meanwhile, last we heard of our bard, Herbert Fiddlesticks was off seeking his muse in the forest. Rumours have reached the party that he thought to return to the high seas for one last stint of piracy, but the ship he sailed on was lost at sea. That said, something tells you that he’s still singing songs, not yet having them sung about him. 

Loot found:
  • A set of drawings, from life it seems, not unskilled, of a young aristocratic lady in compromising positions (hidden in Kerouac’s robes in the cell with him)
  • A bag of telepathic snails with shells made of pure silver (700 of them!). You could sell them for their shells, but every time you do the snails protest, saying they’d really rather not be sold. (with Guark or Tirias)
  • A tidy sum of gold, I forget how much, nicked from the brewery’s till.
Friends made:

  • None, unless you count some dubious adoration by the prohibitionists for blowing up the brewery

Session 2: Urban Renewal

Nobody really cared much for the Lost Mines of Phandelver, so against all good sense we decided to switch to an urban-based campaign running on a sandbox/freeform basis keeping the characters but waving away the discontinuity/travel. Using Vornheim as a basis for generating the city, and a few random tables and an excellent one page dungeon by Matthew Adams to begin the adventure.

So the story picks up with everyone finding themselves in Zaira, a seemingly huge city with its warped and cobbled-together towers dominating the landscape and looming over its twisting streets. Everyone had the simultaneous feeling of knowing where they were yet knowing nothing about how they had gotten there, sensing that they had been there forever and that their previous adventures were some sort of dream.

The boys quickly sought out the nearest tavern, which upon entering was a wrecked, burned, fucked to death shell of a pub. Apparently there had been a fight between some local tough guys the previous week, but no one had any other details about that.

Dipping over to the Harmless Moon down the street, our party spied a mysterious noblewoman looking to hide from her parents, and a sobbing rat catcher begging them to help him with an infestation that was too great for his problems. The party agreed, but not before Tirias had his fortune read (“A card game will lead to an erotic encounter”) Fortunes told in Zaira always come true, eventually.

Following the rat catcher, our party descended into an old well long since dried out, the chain ringing and announcing their arrival to below. After having boiling oil and rocks thrown at them, Tirias and Guark were fairly convinced they were not dealing with rats until a giant rat wearing armor and wielding a mace ran screaming at them yelling “FOR SGROT!” 

A room full of kidnapped people, mostly children. Many had already been taken away not to return. A promise to help. 

Suicidelegs at one point hits a rat with the heart of another rat he just ripped out with his bare hands.

Many more guerrilla rats and several giant spiders later, our adventurers found a huge rat idol with crystal eyes (presumably Sgrot), where standing at the base of it was a nefarious bard, a piper, who had been controlling the rats and conducting sacrifices for some unknown purpose.

Negotiation failed and battle began, with our dashing trio dealing some outrageous damage to the Piper right off the bat; however they could not kill him soon enough, as the piper hummed a dissonant Dave Matthews Couplet in Guark’s ear, sending him shrieking with fear only to be stabbed in the back by the piper’s rapier.

That’s right, Guark died (well, mortally wounded and thankfully healed by Tirias)

Our enraged bowman and kung-fu master flew into a blind fury, avenging their comrade. The piper, himself grievously struck, blew a tune and fled combat, whereupon SGROT announced him/her/itself to the party as the rat god, freed by their actions from the piper’s spell. 

Our heroes agreed to become Champions of Sgrot, lest the piper strike again or the city (home to rats and men) be threatened. Sgrot has allowed our heroes free use of the cavernous layer, and also handed out some sweet magical loot.

Goggles of rat vision (see in the dark! maybe other good stuff?)
A ring (or was it shoes?) of rat movement (climb up stuff! squeeze into impossibly tight spaces!)

Finally, our heroes went back to the tavern with the rescued children, walking past a group of wolves feasting on…something. At the tavern the boys got a free round of drinks and watched as Guark broke Raul the Ratcatcher’s thumbs.

Reflections: A variation on everyone's favorite level one clear the rats in the basement 'quest'. The pied piper thing here worked alright. I rolled up a level three bard who turned out to be deadly enough but unfortunately I forgot to adjust the hitpoints so he ended up dying a bit too quickly. 

Session one, Lost mines of Phandelver

Wherein our intrepid heroes answer the call of adventure. Flying well off the seat off my pants, I ran the first part of LMoP. We put together some characters and decided to play the first segment of the adventure, nobody died. I think it worked out well, although the bog standard fantasy wasn't exactly an electrifying introduction to this group of cynical beer drinking newbies.

tl;dr: they eviscerate many goblins and a bugbear.

Lo, let me sing to you a song of noble adventurers, bound together not by fealty or faith but by the test of fate and promise of a quick buck. Our story begins in Neverwinter, coastal metropolis of such reknown that I’m sure we all know of it and nod accordingly and ‘hm’ and ‘haw’ at its mention. In a tavern sat Lionolo Suicide legs” X, a warrior monk fleeing from a troubled past. He had been contacted by his old friend Gundren Rockseeker, a dwarf of no small daring himself, to help escort a wagon of supplies in exchange for a tidy sum of money and the promise of further amazements. While in the tavern (The Troll and Manticore, if you have to know in order to score it on Yelp or whatever), he struck up a conversation with several other unsavory types seeking similar exploits. Over a simple meal of rounded cheesed-dough they formed the Adventurers’ Friends League Society; they were Herbert Fiddlesticks, a sharp-tongued pirate whose tenure as ship’s bard was cut short due to budget reasons, Tirias, son of Teclas a sullen ranger looking for purpose at the tip of an arrowhead, and Kerouac the wizard, an elf with a penchant for dense books, strong wine and trying challenges. An odd bunch they made, but they were united by their love of a good drink, a good challenge, and that cheese bread stuff that P’izza the gnomish publican was dishing out.

Our merry band embarked on the road from Neverwinter to Phandelver, escorting Gundren’s wagon full of mining junk because, fuck it, there was cash to be had, when they were stopped by the sickly sweet stench of rotting horsemeat blocking the road. Thoroughly poking at the arrow-studed corpses, Suicide-Legs and Kerouac realized they belonged to Gundren and his companion Sildar Hallwinter, but no sooner had they done so then our party was set upon by goblin ambushers rushing down from the escarpment on either side of narrow path. Finally, some action! Fortunately, they had prepared for such treachery, and Tirias, hiding in the bush, gave one of the noisome monsters an arrow monocle or some witty way of saying he killed the shit out of it, while Fiddlesticks lashed out with a stream of magical insults that, while they did not hurt the creature much, still really hurt the goblin, you know? Like, ow, why would you say something like that. Kerouac thoroughly blasted one of the goblins with a frost ray, saying “you need to chill out” or something cool like that, while Fiddlesticks and the object of his invective charged at one another. Suicidelegs charged at the other two vermin, unleashing his martial fury but failing to kill his opponents and taking a rather pretty nasty looking scimitar wound in the process. A few seconds later, in a fury of insults, daggers and arrows, two more fiends were dead and the third broke and ran for safety. Suicidelegs, displeased about that whole scimtar thing, knocked the bastard cold with his spear and tied him up for interrogation.

Here begins the story of Meat Pie, the goblin apple of his goblin mother’s eye, aspiring henchman and entrepreneur, known for leagues amongst goblins for his...ok nobody cares, he is tied up and he has definitely at this point soiled himself. Kerouac did play the “goode coppe” to the “bad coppe” of Fiddlesticks, and between the two of them they did glean much information about the wherabouts of the Adventurers’ Friends League Society’s (AFLS) patron and traveling companion. Meat Pie had lost a few more pints of blood than he usually needs to keep his facts straight, so was all a bit roundabout. This Black Spider sounded like a real piece of shit, but the AFLS decided to follow Meat Pie’s advice to go with him to the Craggamaw hideout and rescue Sildar, because, well, look at the little guy he’s so cute like a puppy.

At the mouth of the hideout our heroes let loose a barrage of arrows, spears and daggers at the unexpecting guards, fruitless as it was. The first guard, Bernard, turning to his colleague Harold to comment on all the missed attacks, found himself speaking to a block of ice as Harold had been dispatched by Kerouac’s vicious frost ray moments prior. The realization that his friend was dead went through his mind at about the same time as the arrow did.

Oh look who it is! Guark the Young, stout and hardy wildman, childhood friend of Fiddlesticks. He drank too many ales last night so he’s late to the party, but eager to squish some bad guys.

Entering the cave, our heroes noted two chained wolves guarding the goblin lair. Tirias, friend of all of nature’s creatures, placated the beasts and kept them distracted while the others snuck by; unfortunately no amount of play could detract from Guark’s pungent orkish odor. No sooner had the wolves started growling, however, when they were dispatched by withering insults from Fiddlesticks (bad dog, bad!) and a flurry of quick attacks (for children reading, they were sent upstate to live on a nice family farm).

Feeling fresh, Guark decides to climb the natural chimney in the cave for a better view, but his hangover caught up with him about halfway up the climb and a misstep sent him tumbling back down. With a “Fuck this chimney, I’m not doing that again,” our band of merry madmen decided to press onwards up the stream.

At the next branch in the path, our elven wizard Kerouac decided to climb up a steep escarpment to the chamber above, but after another tumble down the hill the party swore off any further obstacle management for the day. Tirias, perhaps a bit upset by the experience with the wolves, is pretty sure that a squirrel is in distress nearby and heeds the call of nature, but not before nearly decapitating a goblin guarding the bridge ahead with another pointy arrow.

At the end of the path, three goblins stood guard in a large room where a waterfall fed the stream they had followed. Convinced they heard the sweet sweet beckoning of some ladygoblins coming from the other room, the hapless dolts were facing the wrong way and thoroughly unprepared to die, but die they did. One survived the first barrage and ran, “I gotta tell the boss, tell the boss!” he gurgled as Lionolo’s spear found the back of his head.

Warned of the dangers ahead and their approach muffled by din of the waterfall, our twin magic men took the vanguard. In a cavernous chamber sat two goblins around a fire in the middle of the room, but more importantly there was Klarg himself, bugbear amongst bugbears, sitting by a pile of ill gotten loot with his pet wolf. Kerouac lulled the two guards and wolf to sleep, but the only lullaby that reached Klarg’s ears was a dyschordant symphony from one of Fiddlesticks’ more edgy experimental albums. The bugbear was racked with pyschic pain, grabbing his head and reeling to the corner of the chamber to escape the bard’s sweet melodies. “If it’s too loud, you’re too old, punk” said Fiddlesticks, as Guark, who fucking loves that song, got amped up and sent into a rage by the music, bringing his axes down on the bugbear while Suicidelegs showed the beast where he got his nickname with a kung fu flurry of stabbing and kicking. Klarg don’t live here no more.

The sleeping escorts never woke up again, and our heroes availed themselves of Klarg’s loot before pressing onwards across the rickety bridge to find Sildar. The goblins in the common room heard the resonant voice of their bugbear leader call out to them “OI, YOU LOT, PUT YOUR SHIT DOWN AND GET OVER HERE, IS HAPPY HOUR AND KLARG DON’T DRINK ALONE.” Enticed by the promise of free libations, three of the goblins made their way to the treasure room but the only thing on tap was whoopass, and lit up by the bluish glow of Fiddlesticks’ faerie fire they made easy targets. Even their two remaining companions, still armed with their bows, could only watch as the raging barbarian, ninja monk guitar bard wizard tide rolled over them.

Sidlar, trussed up on the escarpment above, heard the telltale sounds of goblin disembowlment and called out to the adventurers, thanking them for the rescue. The man told them of the Rockseeker brother’s rediscovery of the legendary Wave Echo Cave, and how Klarg was under orders from King Gnol (himself hired by the Black Spider) to waylay the dwarf and confiscate the precious map, now with Gnol at Craggmaw Castle. Our heroes are eager to take the castle, but agree to escort Sidlar back to Phandalin for a bit of gold and the promise of a shower and hot meal.

They pack up the loot from Klarg’s stash to take it back to the wagon and head outside, where Sidlar points to a tied up goblin and says “Who the hell is that?”

Reflections: I may have been too generous (I was definitely too nice overall), but Minor Illusion and particularly the fact that it can emulate voices is a pretty damn powerful cantrip to be throwing around blind corners. Also, a lucky roll on the sleep spell and a few terrible rolls from the bugbear prevented the party from being absolutely slaughtered in the boss fight. I think the worst damage everyone took was from falling, which is perhaps unsurprising at level one.

Hello World

I'm using this blog to archive actual play sessions for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign populated entirely by amateurs. I've never played, but have found myself DM'ing as I am the only one who has read the rules. Despite our ignorance we press onward.