So it’s All Come Down to This… Cave-ins and Betrayals

Adam has started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in London. Here is his account of their first epic journey.

So it’s all come down to this. With everyone fed and drinks poured, we got an early start on the last night of The Lost Mines of Fandango campaign. The group had no idea what to expect, with conversations with the DM hinting at various nefarious plans of his to ensure that not everyone would make it out alive. Perhaps even none of us. As always, it started back up at the inn.

Bubbles threw the customary herpes roll for the start of each game, to see if they had a flare up or not. A natural 20. With no sign for two sessions now, was the viral disease gone? Was it linked to Glass-staff, and now we had snuffed him out Bubbles was clear? Was this dice roll indicative of a successful night? Doubtful. That isn’t really how probability works.

With Gundrin safe, we learned more about Wave Echo Cave.  The Forge of Spells located there was created by wizards and dwarves, but they were later all killed by orcs. Those orcs in turn all died in a cave-in, so now all that resides in the caverns are the Black Spider and his minions, stirges and various members of the undead, such as ghouls, zombies and skeletons. Not to be deterred, we restocked (and got some new bling) and headed off.

As we approached the cave, King Roberto the Pirate King used the power of his eyepatch to summon a storm, raising his his sword as a mast to attract the lightning into the blade while yelling a vague attempt at the Unrelenting Force dragon shout from Skyrim. Barely hurting himself, he managed to trap the bolt into the longsword Talon, giving it +1 lightning damage for the rest of the day.

Thunder

Excitedly, the homeopathic cleric Samuel tried to replicate this. Every step was slightly off, starting with the fact that Samuel doesn’t have the same ability to summon lightning. He then raised his hatchet, rubbing it on his head to generate static electricity. Rather than imbuing his weapon with lightning, he slightly scalped himself and suffered minor damage before we even went into the cave. Finally, Tiny forgot to tie up his poorly named horse again (now with 3 names: Asymmetry/Raider/Rascal). He lost his horse in our 1st edition game for forgetting to tie it up, which he failed to learn a lesson from, but luckily since getting it in this game has not had it stolen or wander off. Yet.

We went in to the cave, finding one of Gundrin’s brothers dead. As is tradition, we looted the body but he didn’t have anything of use. So we stole his shoes. Dead men walk no trails. Or something. The only other thing in the cave was a hole and a rope down into the darkness. Tiny went down to look around quietly, but Samuel shouted down after him and two skeletons appeared. He managed to stay hidden, but Samuel dropped down after him and hurt himself. Deano followed, and he and Tiny quickly saw off the skeletons. King Roberto and Lordi dropped down too and hurt themselves a little, while Bubbles landed perfectly, “slut-dropping” to celebrate and/or taunt the others.

SD

We had two choices here, one corridor appeared to have acid damage down it but with no visible traps, so we concluded that there was likely some kind of acid spewing nasty awaiting us. The other direction did not have acid damage. We chose the path of least acidification, arriving in a large constructed cavern, littered with bones. Tiny and Bubbles investigated (with Tiny hearing a voice in his head say “You’re a cunt”), spying a group of ten stirges in ceiling. Lordi tried to sneak round the room, but made too much noise and got swarmed by half of them, the other half went onto Roberto. A swarm of the little buggers could be nasty, as they hit for much more damage than you’d expect for a weird mosquito/vampire bat/bird cross, but they also take little more than a backhand to kill, so the group made short work of them.

Lordi and Roberto did take a fair bit of damage, leaving the former fairly close to being knocked out, so we went up to a guard room for a quick rest. However, there was no such luck as nine skeletons rose up to meet us. Deano attacks with burning hands (which I always hear as if a stoner is chanting “burning maaaannn!”) charring several. Samuel then ran in, smashing one of the smoldering skeletons to pieces, which may have been his first ever kill. Throwing his extra attacks around like a big-shot, sure to not put himself in great danger later, King Roberto walked into the room confidently,  killing two and damaging another, while getting hit himself for a savage critical.

Skeletons

Much to everyone’s surprise (possibly because he is a cleric, and not a very good one) Samuel killed another two by dual wielding even though he has no proficiency for doing that, caving in their skulls. Roberto gave him a fist bump as congratulations and the DM gave him a disadvantage on the next roll. Worth it. Deano kills another. From the door, a heavily damaged Lordi attempted a cone of ice spell from the door on the last skeleton, already only crawling slowly along the ground towards the party. They missed, and the skeleton continued to inch towards the caster, before King Roberto just walked up to it and crushed its head under his foot.

After a rest, we walked through a cavern full of mushrooms and spores. Some erupted near King Roberto and the DM tried to make him roll for poisoning, forgetting that he, Deano, Tiny and Rick all found rings of resist poison in the wizards tower. The DM was unhappy about not getting to poison someone. This would not be the first time the DM would be irritated that his plans didn’t work out entirely. Before stashing some of these mushrooms, Deano used his resistance to openly eat one in front of Samuel, mocking him and his susceptibility to poison and hunger.

We arrived a hall with a starry ceiling. Feeling magic coming from two attached rooms, Samuel went straight into the first, as he couldn’t bothered to be helpful anymore. It was burnt out, and contains a wraith named Mormesk. He was once a wizard, and one of the founders of the Forge of Spells. We tried to get information and convince him to give us his treasure, but Samuel got bored and attacked. Predictably, Tiny sneaked in mid-combat,  stealing the treasure. After a quick fight, Samuel finished off the wraith. He was having a killer night.

The opposite room contained a brazier (we all laughed) of green flame – the Forge of Spells. A multi-eyed floating monster calling himself The Spectator (a relation of a Beholder) used a psychic voice, telling us that he watches the forge. Lordi, after being ignored a few times while yelling “ray of ice”, hit him with a ray of ice. Once again mid-combat, Tiny stole some shiny weapons from the sides of the room. The fight was looking to get pretty hairy, but Samuel in a stroke of genius used a Control Water spell to desiccate the monster’s multiple eyes, removing all of the fluid and blinding him. No longer able to fulfil his roll as a spectator, he disappeared. Suspecting that we were coming up to the end, we all used the forge, which temporarily granted +1 stats to all of our weapons.

Spectator

Finally, we headed up through the arch at the end of the hall, finding a large room lined with stone pillars and a giant dwarf statue at the end with huge emerald eyes. At the foot of the steps up to the statue was a campsite, where two bugbears and a dark elf got to their feet. The Black Spider and his cronies. Boss fight time.

Immediately four of us were webbed up by four giant spiders crawling down from the ceiling. We all struggled free, as the Black Spider disappeared. Once again Roberto’s resist poison ring came in useful, avoiding succumbing to a spider bite. He eventually took out the spider facing him and another, while Tiny and Bubbles brought down one each. We were all taking heavy damage, first from the spiders and then the bugbears. Samuel was hit badly, and tried to escape to the exit but was knocked out. Our first actual KO. And while nobody was looking, preoccupied with the battle at hand, clawed hands dragged his unconscious body away…

It looked like the battle may be turning in our favour. All throughout, the invisible Black Spider was using his telepathic powers to plant suggestions into the heads of various party members, to get them to turn on their companions, but we were lucky with out rolling so they were all shrugged off. With a well placed magic missile, Lordi managed to simultaneously knock out the Black Spider and kill the more wounded bugbear.

With only one enemy left, it looked like we had this in the bag. Suddenly an imp came down from the ceiling, appearing to be Scratch’s true form (Deano’s pet psychic rat), who started pulling at one of the eyes on the statue. All through the boss fight, and in fact the whole dungeon, Deano had been constantly messaging the DM. Secret plans had been afoot. He then used thunderwave on the whole room, damaging everyone and throwing Tiny to the side of the room. I flat out ask him if we need to get out, and he said it would probably be a good idea.

Not quick enough though. Scratch yelled ‘I did it!’ and yanked the eye free. The room started to shake, the pillars fell and the ceiling collapsed. Deano was already at the door, with Bubbles and Tiny nimbly making it through too. King Roberto stumbled but just got there in time (I fucked up the first roll, but used an inspiration point to re-roll and scraped by). Lordi though, failed the dexterity roll and was crushed to death instantly.

nothic

Once the dust was cleared, with the last bugbear, the Black Spider and our companion Lordi all dead from the cascade of rock, we found Samuel’s corpse horribly mutilated nearby with his heart removed. It turned out that Deano had been continuing his friendship with the Nothic, the beast he had been feeding dead and live bodies to back in Trent Reznor Manor, and had promised him plenty more bodies to feast on in Wave Echo Cave if he came along as insurance. When it turned out that most of the creatures in the cave were light on meat and heavy on bone, he offered a new deal – us.

He planned the cave-in using Scratch, but unfortunately for him far more of us survived than he had thought. So he played the innocent. And he played it well. The most infuriating thing about his betrayal and the nature of the RPG is that we knew full well that he had tried to stab us in the back. We knew he had been doing similar things all along, and that ultimately he could and would betray us. But our characters didn’t know. He never did anything so blatant, until this, that we could accuse him of. We never had a chance to catch him in the act. And even if we had, he was one of our strongest fighters. A confrontation may have left us more than just one man down. Well played you cunning bastard. If fewer of us had escaped the cave in, he almost certainly would have finished us off too.

So we had two characters die, Samuel and Lordi. But then out of nowhere, and possibly in his first selfless act of the game, Tiny announced that he had a scroll of revivify. Presumably taken from one of the many treasure chests he looted without telling us, he could revive one dead character. Despite having had an excellent night, Samuel was done. His player wanted to move on to a new character after this, and didn’t mind being the sacrifice. So Lordi was revived, and Samuel remained dead and horribly torn apart. What a guy.

Epitaph

Samuel the Cleric 2014-2015

And that was it for our first campaign in D&D. We had a deal with Gundrin for 10% each of the profits from the Forge of Spells, the kind of potential fake in-game money that a person can retire on. We all had a blast trying this out, as for almost all of us it was a first foray into pen and paper RPGs. Even those that were initially skeptical ended up loving it, and nearly all of us picked up the Player’s Handbook. In the end we all decided to start up some new characters for the next session, as these had all been presets with modified backgrounds. Now everyone has had a feel for the game, everything is going to get a bit more in depth and the stakes are likely to be higher, but everyone is in.

I may go back to my first character at some point, but for now this is King Roberto the Pirate King signing off.

Roberto

These D&D adventure write ups may continue in some form on the site as we make the games a little more regular with our new characters. I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles, please let us know any feedback you may have from them in the comments below!

Adam

 

So it’s All Come Down to This… Doppelgängers and Eviscerations

Adam has started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in London. Here is his account of their first epic journey.

This was the first night back since before Christmas, and we were all keen to finish off The Lost Mines of Fandango storyline, so the DM organised this and the next session close together. But as it had been such a long break, and everyone was due to go up to level 4, we had a very slow start to this first night as everyone sorted out their new stats and abilities.

After their adventure in the tower, King Roberto the Pirate King, Rick, Deano and Tiny all headed back to town to regroup with the others. Along the way Rick wandered off on his own somewhere, our first absentee, and unfortunately he would not return for the finale either. Back in Phandalin, we filled the others in on where we had been, why Tiny now had lizard-like eyes and was crackling, and asked why they didn’t seem to have really wondered where we had been for several days. After a successful herpes roll for Bubbles, avoiding a flare up, we headed to the shops to grab some new gear. Our second missing player for this session was Samuel, as he was bedridden upstairs in the pub with gastroenteritis, shitting all over the room and himself.

After nearly being killed in one hit by Venomfang the dragon last time, King Roberto was in the market to improve his armour class and attack power. Following pre-game discussion with Lordi, he convinced them that the +1 longsword ‘Talon’ would be put to much better use in the hands of a primarily melee character like him, instead of a wizard who should be hanging back and actually casting spells for once. They begrudgingly acquiesced, giving Talon over on loan (there was a signed contract and everything). The magic longsword provided +1 to attack rolls and damage upon hitting.

The group headed to the nearby smith to buy some better gear too, while Tiny was outside using his considerably higher wealth and other treasure to acquire a horse for some reason. He named it Asymmetry. Inside the shop, a combination of charm and threats were deployed to make a deal for better armour for those who could use it and some rumours. The smith’s cousin went missing under Trent Reznor manor,  but we didn’t care because we’ve already been there. The Black Spider (whom many of the group didn’t understand is likely not a huge spider, rather someone using a pseudonym) had Gundrin, the man who hired us for our original wagon trail right at the start of the quest, and has taken over Wave Echo Cave, where the Forge of Spells is located. All very ominous sounding.

After gearing up we headed to Cragmaw Castle. At the south entrance, Deano conversed with his psychic rat Scratch (which we don’t know about in-game, but the fact that he continues not to tell us about him makes me trust him less) and told us to head to the north where there was a broken wall. Heading through the hole, Lordi rushed through into the first room, finding nothing. Clumsily bursting through the next door,  Lordi stumbled upon a meeting between a huge old bugbear and a female drow (a dark elf), with a spider patch on her cloak. The bugbear, King Groll, was also guarded by the wolf Snarl. We could see Gundrin tied up in the corner, in a bit of a bad way.

wolf

We started to persuade them we were sent by Glass-staff (whom we previously murdered fairly terribly), continuing our attempt to use the red cloaks we stole to disguise ourselves as redbrands. The drow, named Verith, wanted to take Gundrin to Wave Echo Cave. It turned out that Cragmaw castle was full of hobgoblins and goblins, an owlbear and a grick, whatever that is. For some reason, Lordi snuck into the corner and turned Gundrin invisible. Verith asked what the hell we were doing, and not seeing a way of talking our way out of it, King Roberto the Pirate King attempted to stab his longsword into her neck, missing completely.

Tiny snuck round and hacked at the bugbears legs, while King Roberto stabbed him in the neck. Verith grabbed Gundrin and held a knife to his throat, but Deano used shocking grasp on her, stunning her and causing her appearance to flicker, revealing herself to be a shapeshifting Doppelgänger. Snarl the wolf attacked King Roberto, somehow biting through his new armour and doing some fairly nasty damage. He responded by snapping the wolf’s neck with his shield. Grim. Deano, having bound his two handed sword to himself magically, faked out the bugbear, making him look the wrong way before disappearing the sword and teleporting it back into his hands on the other side, hacking at him. He called this an alley-oop.

alley oop

The grick crashed through the door, joining the party. It sounds like some sort of hentai nightmare, a long snake like creature with a beak mouth surrounded by tentacles. Tiny attempted to throw alchemists fire at it, but missed. In fact, we were all missing a lot and this battle was dragging along. The bugbear, now heavily wounded but still not dead due to some terrible dice rolling from everyone, still managed to take off half of Deano’s HP in one hit. He was finally taken down by a combination of an arrow from Bubbles and being run through by Deano.

grick

King Roberto beheaded the Doppelgänger, and luckily the Grick missed the whole party multiple times, and after a few good spells from Lordi it was finished off by Bubbles. Before we rested, King Roberto the Pirate King hit level 5, ahead of everyone else on account of him not missing a session.

Did I sing the Final Fantasy level up music? You bet I did.

In addition to another HP boost, at level 5 fighters get an extra attack every combat turn, which I was looking forward to abusing. With two basic attacks, plus the action surge ability and second wind I could attack 3 times in a row and heal myself, though the latter two abilities can only be used once per fight before needing a rest to recover them.

After we rested, a goblin came to the door to ask if everything was OK. Roberto and Deano, separately, attempted to fake the dead King Groll’s voice. We pulled him into the room, threatening him and convinced him to tell us where the treasure in the castle was. We woke Gundrin up, who told us the location of Wave Echo Cave. He said if we helped him take it over, clearing out the Black Spider, we would get a cut of 10% each from the profits that the use of the Forge of Spells would provide, as an ongoing business venture. We agreed, and set to leaving the castle. King Roberto, turning back into the room with the nonchalance of someone who has forgotten his keys, stabbed the goblin in the throat before joining his companions.

Slowly and quietly, the group headed to the room the now very dead goblin had pointed out as the treasure room, stealthily skirting past the dining hall where the sounds of goblins eating could be heard. Lordi crashed straight through the door, only to be smacked to the floor by an angry owlbear. In fact if we hadn’t rested they would have been knocked unconscious at least. I think the DM was planning on this being a much longer fight, but King Roberto strode into the room, full of the bravado that a level up provides, scoring a critical hit by ramming a javelin up the owlbear’s throat, and a second critical hit hacking into his neck with his sword. The now heavily damaged owlbear did unleash a multi attack on King Roberto, but his health was now so high that it didn’t really worry him. Bubbles then also scored a critical, burying an arrow into the owlbear’s head and finishing him off.

This room was largely bereft of treasure, so any remorse for killing the goblin that King Roberto didn’t feel would have been misplaced as he had lied to us. Looking at our maps however, we saw a room of interest that may contain something of value. Heading to it, we saw steps and two separate entrances covered with a curtain. Very quietly (possibly too quietly for two fighters in splint heavy armour), King Roberto and Deano sneaked up to the curtains, surveying the room. It contained an altar, with three robed goblins praying before it. In perfect synchronisation, with the same dice rolls, the pair of fighters crept up the steps to the altar and beheaded two of the goblins at the same time. They threatened the last, who revealed it was an altar to the goblin god Maglubiyet, whom they had sacrificed humans to. In fact we saw some hand crafted statues of various birds in the corner that could well have belonged to such a sacrifice.

We asked “What would happen if we sacrificed a goblin to your god?”

He looked at his dead friends and said “They’re dead, it has to be a live sacrifice…”

“You’re alive”

And so we took the golden knife and eviscerated him, disemboweling and sacrificing him to his own god. Neither of us was entirely sure why we did it, but were in total agreement that we should. We felt a chill, but no goblin god appeared to enact revenge (I think mainly because we caught the DM off guard). Taking all of the blood stained gold implements, and the bird statues, we then sneaked out of the castle. The rest of the group looking increasingly uncomfortable being around Deano and Roberto right now. With Gundrin rescued, we headed back to town to rest up before heading to Wave Echo Cave.

Adam

 

Check out the finale here!