Adam continues his descent into roleplaying games in a new D&D campaign
Last year, along with some friends up in London, I tried Dungeons & Dragons for the first time. Clearly I was looking for the final feather in my nerd cap, the last nerd scout badge I needed, or some third terrible made up idiom. We checked out The Lost Mines of Phandelver Starter Set adventure from the new 5th edition D&D, using pre-rolled character sheets that we clumsily made up backgrounds for. We made it through almost unscathed, with only one character dying in the final confrontation due entirely to one of our number being evil and untrustworthy.
So after our first attempt at a Dungeons & Dragons (you didn’t read my tales of that adventure? Start here!), all of us were locked in for a more regular game. We were locked in for Hoard of the Dragon Queen. We all took some time with our Player’s Handbooks to carefully decide on our new characters, met up over drinks in busy central London pubs and poured over them, discussing our new backgrounds while others at tables around us talked about work or X-Voice or Strictly Come Splash. Then we all started rolling for our characters.
We actually ended up with a pretty eclectic, interesting and well rounded group. Our adventuring company is 8 strong – potentially quite crowded, but the chances of everyone being able to make a session is fairly low, especially as we scheduled them fortnightly. I decided to be boring, and created another human character. Essentially a poorly made Red Sonja clone, my character ‘Red’ (I should be a writer, my imagination is so vivid and original) is a human barbarian, the sole survivor from an Iluksan hunting tribe that was annihilated by orcs led by the war chief Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka (I can steal ideas from more than one source, that one is from Warhammer 40K). 7 days after burying her father, his grave marker twisted into the shape of a hilt, formed of strong wood stained with blood. Pulling it from the grave, she now wields the +1 longsword ‘Yggdrasil’ alongside her trusty greataxe. Swearing a blood vengeance against the orc chief who destroyed her home and her tribe, she heads south from The Lurkwood to hunt them, and to drink and brawl with anyone who looks at her wrong.
Joining up with Red is a fairly multicultural mix of characters. Ravoprax is a dragonborn druid, shouldering guilt from failing to save his clan from a black dragon and the cultists following it. ナウシカ (Nausicaä) is a half-Genasi (genie) bard, with a penchant for serenading. Carnicula Vorator is a wood elf sorcerer who hates music, Artin Holderhek is a dwarf fighter whose player actually knows what gender their character is this time. Eldo Timbers Cracklebang is a forest gnome cleric, who naively pledges his loyalty to Talos, a tempest god he doesn’t realise is evil. Daria Do’Urden is a half drow (dark elf) monk who likes roundhouse kicks. Amber Braunanvil is a mountain dwarf ranger, who will regularly be late for any session so will take on a position of a ringer. Possibly more than half of us have a ‘clan killed, seeking vengeance’ back story. I imagine it is a fairly tried and true formula for D&D.
Those of us that were at the first session when we rolled our stats (I rolled very well, presumably to balance out how badly I’ll roll during the actual game) were thrown in to a mini game where we could all fight in an arena. In a random town I’m not sure we were told the name of, the annual Summer’s Day Fair was on. In the middle in a tent was the ‘Ring of Punchfight’, with a pit that had been set up for All Vs. All combat tended to by top class healers that can bring anyone back from even death – so no holds barred. The prize was 100 gold and a flagon on unending ale, so Red’s interest as a barbarian and lover of alcohol in all its forms was piqued. We all took up position in the arena full of holes, a gorge with a bridge and with strange gates on the outside.
Ravoprax attacked first, firing a poison spray at Red but missing. I rolled a natural 20, so she responded by cutting him in half with her great axe. Eldo Timbers Cracklebang cast a fog spell over the whole pit, rendering it the worst spectator event ever. Nausicaä severely damaged Red with discordant whisper, and then put her to sleep with a follow up spell, while Artin Holderhek and Carnicula Vorator scrapped in a tower in the middle of the area. Eldo killed them both with a thunderwave attack, and then the strange gates opened and lava poured out. The sound of the gates woke up the groggy Red, just before the lava reached her, and she sprinted towards Nausicaä, flinging a hand axe at them and causing them to tumble in to a pit. Before she could turn or hide, Eldo finished her off with raging light, engulfing her in a bright pillar.
With the fight over, and everyone put back together and brought back by the healers, Eldo was given the option of choosing what never-ending fluid would be in his flagon. For reasons I’m sure will never become clear, he chose dragon’s blood. I don’t know how a substance like the blood of an ancient monster could be constantly replenished in a flask, but then again I don’t think I quite understand the physics of how it would work with ale or wine either. Magic. Got it.
So that was the first session of many into our new campaign, to give us an idea of how our new characters function and interact. Next time, we start the Hoard off the Dragon Queen story. Join us for that soon!