september 26th 2004:
While still strolling through the sewers of Weskund, the party split up to cover a larger area. 3 of them, the fighter, the favoured soul and the wizard, finally found the werewolf, hunted him and defeated him in battle. But it turned out that this lycantrophe was only afflicted and very desperate. He told the adventureres, that he had been seduced by a beautiful lady with dark hair and a red dress, who turned into a wolf when noone was watching. He barely escaped her fangs but got bitten. The adventurers tried to help and cure the man, but they did not know much about lycantrophy. They had Belladonna with them and gave it to the badly wounded creature. This heavily toxic substance had no effect on the werewolf - besides of killing him.
The adventurers returned to the father of the killed man, but he was not listening to them. He was sure, his son was still out there, drinking and having fun and just avoiding work. So the party sought the girlfriend of the man. After bringing the bad news they asked her about this woman with the red dress. The girl got very upset as her boyfriend had promised to her to keep away from this woman. She could give them some vague directions to the womans house.
The party broke into the house and found something that looked more like a lair than a home. They also found some kind of diary. From this item they learned that the lycantrophe had setteled down here some months ago and that she was very enthusiastic about how easy it was to prey on men. When the party left the building, the fighter got shot by a bolt - a poisened bolt actually, but his high fortitude saved him from further damage. Whoever had shot at him now started running. A wild chase began throughout the poor quarter of the town. Finally they battled and the assassin, a beatiful woman with dark hair, turned into a furious werecreature. Once more the fighter was lucky to have such high fortitude, for he was bitten several times. But in the end the party killed the werewolf - and then they had enough brains to flee the site of the battle, because the wolf turned back into a beautiful, naked woman. It was better not to be seen with the corpse of a naked woman.
A very funny session. In the beginning I wasn\'t very enthusiastic about it, because there were only 3 of 6 players and the event described above should have happende completely different. But I decided to make a 3-player-adventure out of it, split the encounters and made it a little murder hunt. Very funny was that the party didn't know ANYTHING about lycantrophes although they knew they were hunting one. When the wizard got bitten by the afflicted lycantrophe she nearly panicked. And then they saw the creature die when giving the Belladonna to him. So the ran to the next herbalist and threw him out of bed in the middle of the night and asked him what to do with the Belladonna in case of a werewolf-bite. He told them to eat it, but also that it was toxic. The wizard made the Fort-save vs poison, everything was fine. And THEN the herbalist asked, if it had been a natural or an afflicted lycantrophe. Because affliced ones cannot pass on the curse. The looks of the wizard-player in that moment was absolutely a highligh.
I was also a bit surprised that the player who plays the fighter was so much into roleplaying this time. He still is a hack-n-slasher, but it seems like this was just what he had expected of this game.
We\'ll now probably have a break of at least one month, because two of the players are in New Zealand during Octobre. On the other hand - if all left players want to play, it\'s ok for me.
july 7th 2004:
The next morning, the PCs got up early to finish their shopping. The only surprise was that the cleric Kyesstria had made up her mind to leave the group and live at the Pelor-temple and to be a good mentor to the little orphan Tia they\'d rescued earlier in the adventure.
In the evening they went to the big Gouvernor\'s Party. It was rather bad weather, but fortunately the party took place inside. The guys used the party to ... well ... balance their bodyliquids. And the wizardess actually found a boyfried there, the son of one of the nobles. They also met a some other interesting characters there: first of all the young Favoured Soul Sinovia, a person with the blessing of Kord. Then there was the exotic Aikan Ahab Mazuul, a druidic fighter from the Burnt Lands, who lets his dreams and visions guide him. Those visions lead him here, to the town beneath the mine and the dragon.
They also had a private meeting with the gouvernor himself. He asked them to keep an eye on the events in the Borderkeep. For some reason the paladins had taken control of this place and had put it under some kind of quarantaine. And the gouvernor was not the only one interested in those events. The wizard Brawain also asked them to keep him informed and offered all other informations regarding the keep as well as some gold in exchange. And there was a fine young lady who had a little tête-â-tête with Igorzk, the rogue, after he told her some details about the seal in the keep.
The next day the party decided to enter the sewers of Weskund. A young noble was missing since the last full moon and there was talk of werecreatures on the street. They found bloodstains on one entry to the sewers, a place where the young noble had been sighted the last time.
The sewers themselves were a confusing maze and they started to explore this ugly, stinking place.
Well, there was a lot of shaggin in this session. Even the girls tried to get their piece of cake, although they were not so ruthless like the guys. The party took a lot of time although nothing extraordinary happened. One thing I noticed once again was my disability to remember important details - or better: details, that would make characters and situations important and more alive. I don\'t know how to get better in those things. Game sessions are ofter rather hectic for me because the party usually splits up when they are not in dungeons or on a journey. But the hell shall freeze if I\'d forbid them this behaviour. It\'s great fun for them after all. And I\'m still a newb-DM. Things will get better with the time going on.
july 10th 2004:
There\'s a dragon up there on the summit. That\'s all they knew for sure. Or maybe even not so sure - the miners might have confused the beast with a dragon. But in the morning there was no more doubt. The dragon had killed a miner named Frenk just next to the camp. There had been lots of witnesses and most of them agreed that the dragon had been either grey or white.
After careful preparation of their spells the party started their journey towards the southern summit. After some hours of walking and climbing they had to walk down a narrow path of ice. On one side there was the summit, on the other side a deep abyss. That\'s where the dragon attacked.
He burrowed through the ice, destroyed the path behind them and came out in a white explosion of ice and snow, hovering in front of the party for one second. Then he flew in making his first attack, trying to freeze them with his icy breath. But the cleric and the ranger had already startet casting protection spells and so the damage he did was limited.
First the dragon tried to stay out of range, but when the wizard started using her fireball he decided to land and use his full attack. The way towards the wizard was blocked, so he attacked the halforc.
The battle raged for several rounds, until the third fireball hit him and he decided to flee to his lair. The lair was just 100 ft above them, but there was a steep icy wall to climb first. The thief managed to get up there. He rammed this rapier into the ground and fixed a rope on it, so the rest of the party could get up there easily. In the lair there was a huge skeleton of a dragon. So far they had been rather silent, but when the thief started hitting the skull of the dragon to get one of his teeth, the other dragon returned from deeper in the cave where he had been treating his wounds. But he was already too weak and while he tried to get past the PCs and flee once again he was slain by the wizards flaming sphere.
When searching the lair, the party found another skeleton, this time of a human. He still wore his plate armor, and although there where only bones left of its wearer the armor itself did not even had rust on it. They also found lots of gold, silver and some potions. After severing the dragon\'s head they returned to the miners camp with their trophy.
There was a celebration in the camp and when they returned to the miner\'s guild the next day, they got their reward plus an invitation to the gouvernor\'s party on the next evening. They could not go there in their adventuring gear, so they went to see the tailor. and some other merchants. actually it turned out into a shopping spree.
I\'m not sure what to think about this session. The party played not too bad, there was some nice roleplaying and even creative use of spells - the cleric and the wizard worked together to create an icy bridge over the chasm made by the dragon (create water + ray of frost).
I\'m just having some problems with the dragon. First I played it too easy, because i feared to make a TPK. Then the dragon was almost dead, all of a sudden. Darn fireballs... I also forgot 2 important things: 1. using the dragons aura of fear and 2. using the dragons spell resistance. It would have been much more interesting. And there would have been much more blood.
However, the game was nice so far. The players and I spent more than one hour discussing multiclassing - I had to explain them the concept. Sometimes I just forget that d&d is completely new to them. Now some of them think of multiclassing. I just hope they don\'t screw their characters completely.
june 14th 2004:
After the battle for the keep had ended, the party decided to enter the temple once more to have a look at the strange sign on the floor. They call it the \"seal\" and they are confident that this seal is some kind of entry to ... somewhere. They also found a little inscription on a pillar near the seal. It was written in an unknown alphabeth, but thanks to the magic abilities of the cleric they were able to decipher it. The inscription says \"The gate opens only for the good man\" - whatever that may mean. They did not make the seal do anything and they did not find anybody who could help them. The Curate, the religious leader of the keep had died in the battle and the Castellan had withdrawn to the inner parts of the keep.
After some unsatisfying investigations they decided to collect their wage and return to the city of Weskund. On their way the Ghaele visited them and thanked them for fulfilling their task. He offered them to make one of their weapons or armor magical. The party was very excited about this.
On returning to Weskund they first tried to find out something about the \"disappearing people\". They did not hear much on this topic (or maybe they just overheared some facts?), but instead found out that one merchant in town needed some help of some sort immediately and that the miners guild was searching for some battle-proven support.
Their visit at the merchants home was a bit unlucky. The wife of the merchant had been kidnapped by ogres and he wanted her back without paying the ransom. But the party did not act very seriously and just seemed greedy to him and so he threw them out.
At the miners guild they were a bit more cautious. So they got the job to find a dragon that\'s been terrorizing the iron mine in the Kundrat Mountains for months. They immediately travelled to the miners camp. That\'s a site where the miners sleep and the ore is brought down from the mine and loaded into small wagons. The foreman there told them that there was a dragon around killing his men while carrying the ore down from the mine to this camp. He had never seen the dragon himself so the party had to ask the other miners. The people all told different stories and had seen all kinds of colours and sizes of dragons, but at least they agreed that the dragon always retreated to the southern summit after killing somebody.
The sun was already very low and so they decided to stay at the camp for the night and search the southern summit the next day.
This was an OK session. It did not involve any fighting, but lots of roleplaying. We had a littlebit of an argument when the merchant threw them out but I could explain to them that the NPCs are not stupid and if they don\'t treat them serious they must accept the consequences. Unfortunately the session was rather short - a bit more than 3 hours all in all. And the last session was more than one month ago. That sucks a bit when the party needs 10 minutes before they know again what happened last time and where they stand now and what they wanted to to, not to mention the names and titles of the important persons.
What\'s quite funny for me is how they wet their pants now because of the dragon. They only accepted the quest because there was nothing else to do (or so it seems to them for this is absolutely not true). Some of them already think of what character they should play next when they now get fried by the dragon. I won\'t resolve their fears - it\'s really funny to watch.
april 24th 2004:
The party spent another day in Weskund, doing some shopping and leaving little Tia at the temple of Pelor. Most of them went to bed rather early to be ready for the next day.
On the next day they met the Chosen Knight of the Paladins of Heironeus in front of the western gate. After a short time they started to ride towards the fortress. A small group of soldiers and paladins had already cleared the way for them and so they passed only some bodies of dead orcs and goblins. They rode as long as they could without wrecking their horses and then stopped for the night. After nightfall, Tabra Genchur, the Chosen Knight, offered them two possibilities of taking part in the fight. They could either sneak into the back of the orcish army and try to destroy the war machines of the enemy, or they could take part in the main assault.
After a short discussion they decided to sneak around with some men. Their commanding officer was Huagh Hilthy, a half-orc and expirienced fighter.
Before sunrise they made a hard ride through the wood. The cleric and the ranger fell back and so they missed the part where some snipers of the Weskund Army eliminated a small orcish patrol. But there was no more time to loose. The attack was started immediately. While the biggest part of the orcish army was drawn away by the furious main attack, the party and some rangers led by Sergeant Hilty stormed out of the woods attacking the remaining orcs at the catapults. They lost some rangers but the party did rather good - even though Grunz, the halforc fighter missed his enemies about 75 % of the time.
After that they made their way towards the Keep - just in time to see a horde of orcs breaking through a breach in the walls. They hurried upwards and fought another battle against some orcs and ogres.
Then something strange caught the eye of Igorzk, the dwarf. He saw a wolf running through the battle and disappearing in the chapel, the Temple of Many Gods. They immediately decided to investigate. When peering around the corner they saw a little flying demon going amok in the chapel. It seemed as if he was searching for something in there. But they wasted no more time. One shot with a lightning bolt and a slight hit on the head and the demon returned to the Abyss or wherever demons go when they die.
Now the heroes started searching the chapel. But all they found was some kind of symbol in the floor, showing some religious signs. They did not know what to do with it, so they decided to leave the chapel - for now.
Out in the streets of the Keep people where already cheering and celebrating their quick victory.
The war for the Keep was won.
This session was not very satisfying for me. The huge battle was definitely too much - not only for me but much more for the attention of my players. I had about 40 npcs to lead in battle and the bad guys came right behind the allied npcs in the initiative order. So there was A LOT of rolling for me while my players got more and more bored.
Another point that disturbed me a bit was the feeling that my players didn\'t take my world serious. At some point, for example, they asked an npc where he was coming from. When he said that he came from Leonce, the answer of the PC was: \"So, you are a frenchman?\" I just hate this kind of comment. There is no France in this world and that\'s nothing the character could know about. But when I say \"OK, minus 100 XP for you.\" it\'s like \"Why always me? I didn\'t do anything!\".
I just had the feeling that I can\'t draw some players into my world and, more important, into my story. [rant off]
The Story so far...:
This is the session-diary of my rpg-group, playing my mostly selfmade campaign. The group consists of a halforc fighter, an elven barbarian (probalbly a wildelf although he has normal highelf stats – my bad), a human cleric of pelor, a halfelf ranger, an elven wizard and a dwarven thief (yes, he IS a thief, not just a rogue). The group is complete new to pen&paper-rpg, as well as I am. After some little adventure with absolutely no background, that only consisted of some dungeoncrawling, I laid my hands on a copy of the 2E version of “Keep on the Borderlands”. This is where my campaign actually starts.
The group reached the Borderkeep, drawn towards it by noumerous tales of the mysterious “Caves of Chaos” and the riches within. They spent some days in the keep and its surroundings, searching for the entrance to the caves. The first usable directions they got from the only survivor of a thieve’s gang, which had been cut down by the party with some help of the guard of the keep. They met the gang more by accident after secretly following a very suspicious acting priest on account of the keeps Curate. The priest also was part of a strange ritual, where a demon-like creature had been summoned. Finally the adventurers found a cave west of the keep. During multiple tries they fought their way through the different orc-, hobgoblin- and ogretribes, which lived in the upper levels of the cave-system. Once and again they found signs of a planned attack on the Borderkeep. Deeper in the mountain, behind bugbears and minotaurs, they found a secret temple, guarded by undead skeleton warriors and some strange priests. After killing the Highpriest of the temple, the undead weren’t a problem anymore.
So far, the adventure was more or less the “Keep on the Borderlands” adventure. As the my copy of the adventure was 2E I had to convert it anyway. Doing this I changed some things of the story that I found rather stupid. The original adventure had practically no atmosphere. Especially the adventure hooks were very weak. It just lead to mindless killing some greenskins. Also the attack plans of this handfull of orcs could hardly be serious. So I changed those plans. Now the orcs did not take part in the attack but rather cared for weapons and supplies for the army, that was marching in from the northwest. And the attackers themselves were a REAL army, consisting of well trained orcs, goblin-worgriders and some ogres, lead by a powerful general. The army should arrive while the PCs where in the caves. To avoid cutting the PCs from supplies I added a druid, that camped near the river in the southwest. Nobody in the keep knew of this druid as he had just settled down there and had no interest in social connections. And I already had some special plans with the druid.
The only real connection between the caves and the attack was the highpriest of the temple. He should have supported the army with countless undead. Without the undead company, which could be sent at the fortress without great losses, the attack on the keep froze a bit and mutated into a siege.
At this point the party left the caves and turned towards the Borderkeep.
So they moved cautiously towards the keep und stumbled over a orcish patrol – a very well equipped and trained patrol. At least compared to the orcs they had met in the caves.
The nearer the came the more obvious it became that their asumptions on a attack on the keep had been fully justified. As cautiously as possible they crawled towards the treeline where they could see the army camp surrounding the keep.
Unsure what to do, they withdrew deeper into the forest. Shortly after they encountered a big patrol engaging a single man – the druid. They immediately started a counter attack on the patrol, but it turned out that the man would not have needed their help at all. He defended himself not only with his sword but also by burning his enemies to ashes with rays that came out of his eyes. As he finally shapechanged and unfolded a pair of wings, attacking the orcs and goblin worgriders from above it was clear that this only could be an extraplanar being. After the battle the “angel” told the group that he had been looking for them. He gave them the task to get to the next town, Weskund, and inform the Captain of th Guard about the ongoing siege. He gave them a sealed letter and told them that they had a maximum of 7 days. Until then a army had to arrive at the keep or the fortress would fall to the orcish army. The “angel” would sabotage the construction of siege weapons during this time.
The group accepted the task and made its way towards Weskund, carefully avoiding all orc patrols. They reached a bridge, but when crossing it, it turned out to be a trap. The statues, flanking the bridge, suddenly got animated and attacked the party on the narrow bridge. Unfortunately the statues lacked intelligence and were destroyed faster than expected. In the small customs house on the other side of the bridge they found the family of the customs officer slain by demonic claws.
My first 100% handmade campaign had started off unexpectedly well. It did not disturb the atmosphere that my players had been assuming that the keep had already been raided, it actually added a lot of atmosphere confirming their fears. Intruducing the “angel” called for a lot of meta-game-thinking – but the group is new to the game and I plan to eliminate those roleplaying problems slowly and one after another. We’ve got time.
A little fault disturbed my a bit: why didn’t the “angel” fly to the next town himself and leave the sabotageing to the party? It would have been much faster! The problem was, of course, that I had not been thinking of the possibility my players could ask such a question. But they did, and I was not prepared. So I had to send them away with rather strange arguments, which makes the character of the angel a bit … suspicious. Maybe I’ll find an explaination for this “strange behaviour” later in the game.
But after all the start of my campaign went well. So far I had planned for almost all eventualities and so I was rather flexible to my parties decisions. The encounters had been a bit too easy, but I had expected my players to have much more battles while they tried to evade battles as good as possible. The Situation on the bridge was great, by the way, as nobody knew why the statues suddenly moved and attacked – especially afer the dwarfen thief had just had a look at them and found them to be harmless.
Another thing to mention would be that I tested a new concept comensating for missing players. I controled the PCs myself, without roleplaying them. They should just be there for the battles and for using their special skills. They got half the XP for the battles and of course none for roleplaying. I’m not sure if I’ll keep with this concept. In any case I’m for now rid of winging ridiculous stories about how and why some Chars come and go all the time. And it’s of course easier planning combat, and not to readjust the difficulty every session.
The PCs came to a trade post, where they hoped to buy some horses. But the post was abandoned and all doors locked. There were horses, but the group was just too nosy and wanted to know what had been going on here. They tried to enter the main building. Only one broken window stated that something was not right at this place. The doors of the main building where locked and barricaded from the inside. As the party did not find a way to get inside, the halforc warrior decided to ring the bell at the entrance. Immediately on the sound of the bell a vulturelike being broke through one window in a rain of glass splinters. It hovered one moment above the group and then dived to attack. Fortunately the creature, that was identified as a Vrock, had been hurt during a battle inside the main building. Still it managed to bring the fighter down (which had been almost invincible until that day) and severely hurt the ranger and the mage before finally being slain by the barbarian. After that the party forced the doors of the main building open and searched the house for survivers. All guests and inhabitants but one had been killed by the demon – the only surviver was the cooks daughter, little Tia. The party’s cleric decided to take the girl with her.
Then they saddled up and rode to Weskund, forcing the last out of themselves and their horses. After nightfall they reached the gates of Weskund. It turned out to be unexpectedly difficult to get into town, just because the halforc did not know when to better shut his mouth. Finally only showing the seal of the letter to the guard opened the doors to them. They approached the next tavern and stayed there for the rest of the night. On the next morning a female uniformed soldier walked up to them and asked a lot of questions until she revealed herself as the Captain of the Guard. She took the letter with her and told the party that she would send them information on her next steps in the evening. So the party had a “day off”. They used the time to split up and explore the town. While the “girls” tried a more methodically approach and first tried to get a map, the “guys” just went straight on. Both reached their goals, but while the “guys” lost their way and had to struggle with some thieves, the girls had no problems at all.
In the evening they became a message that they should come to the Guard HQ at dawn. There they finally got some information about what was going on. The Guard and the Highpriests of the Temple had made a secret contract with the “angel”, whom they called “the ghaele”. As part of the contract they had the duty to keep the Borderkeep from being taken by the orcs by all means. Why the Ghaele demanded this was not clear, but the responsible persons did not even think of not fulfilling their part of the contract. An army was already being summoned and as they were in need of every man able to ride a horse, they asked the party to take part in the war. Although the group had been talking about there was no way they would participate in a war before, they now surprisingly agreed. So they got the order to be at the Western Gate on the next morning. Tia, the orphant from the trading post, was left to the care of the priests of Pelor in between.
There were some troubles in this session. First there was some tension between the players, mostly because the halforc-player was accused of playing more comedy than RPG. And sometimes he just reached the point where his comments were not funny anymore. That’s why I plan to give XP-penalties for bad roleplaying in the next session. 100 points minus for every OOC-speaking – for now only within a conversation with the NPCs, because I personally think that most of the comments are really funny and even contribute to having a good session.
The second problem was caused by me: The Vrock was just too much for the party. Would I have played him correctly the party would have been swept away. That’s why I did not use his special abilities and assumed that he was hurt and exhausted from the battle with the inhabitants of the trading post. CR 9 was just too much for an unexperienced party (and for some reason I believed the Vrock to be CR 6). But it turned out that my decision to take “absent” Characters along the way was a good one, for it was the “absent” barbarian who saved the Fighter from dying by killing the demon in the last second. I’ll just have to watch out that this does not happen to regularly – don’t want this deus-ex-machina-feelin coming up.