So it’s All Come Down to This… Black Holes and Bear Traps

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

Waking up the next morning, and heading outside to relieve himself in the street like the Pirate King he is, King Roberto the Pirate King (last time I’ll do that, probably) looked up and saw a familiar figure above him in the sky. Venomfang the dragon swooped down and grabbed him, speeding off with Roberto in his clutches. That’s right, this time it was Samuel, Lordi and Bubbles that were absent from the session, and were left asleep in the pub (possibly where they were in reality too). Thus far only two participants of this D&D adventure have made it to every session – me and the DM. It speaks volumes about my social availability in the evenings. I don’t have a lot going on.

After a long flight, Roberto was dumped on top of a tall Wizards Tower where he found the missing Deano, Rick and Tiny. It turned out they had been up on this tower for several days, having failed to pry open a magically sealed trap door leading downwards. Venomfang wants us to travel to the bottom level of the tower, which oddly is only accessible from the hatch on the top, and retrieve a chest for him. Tiny persists in asking fairly stupid questions, trying his patience, but he does tell us that the chest contains a magic chain, which he wants to give to a Bronze dragon (apparently his love interest for hot dragon-on-dragon romance).  He is very clear, with the threat of imminent violence, that we do not touch the chain.

I mean, obviously we were going to touch the chain.

Indy

The dragon opened the trap door for us, so we all drop down on each other intentionally, causing slight damage to ourselves. The room contains another trap door, also sealed, and a pedestal with a leather pouch on it. There are spikes on the ceiling, presumably attached to a mechanism on the pedestal, so we spend far too long trying to Raiders of the Lost Ark the bag. Finally, we set the trap off, and the spikes come down but stop. Apparently just a warning not to continue, even though the door magically opens. We continue

The stairs turn into a slide on the way down, so we all slightly damage each other again tumbling down. We find a circular room filled with water, with an island in the middle of the room and a flaming torch. In the water these was a skeleton holding an ornate sword, which Deano dove in to grab, and his hand stuck to the sword. It wouldn’t budge, so he started to drown. Rick tried to pass air into his lungs, but just ended up awkwardly kissing him. Roberto dunked the torch into the water, thinking it was magic or something (secretly hoping it was gasoline and he could “accidentally” get rid of Deano, whom he doesn’t trust at all) but that was a bust, and Tiny also tried to be helpful by bringing a flask full of air to Deano, but his small limbs meant he swam too slowly and Deano eventually manages to shift the sword and swim up by himself, with a nifty looking new two handed sword.

Through next trap door we found the room full of bear traps. The floor was completely covered, so we tapped one with a sword to set it off, and as it snapped closed a black hole appeared, summoning a large black bear. As we fought it, more black holes were triggered, bringing in more bears. Peering through one of the singularities before it closed, we saw a lush valley full of calm looking bears. There were now three in the room with us, none of whom appreciated being ripped from the Valley of the Bears, and one of whom was severely injured from our attacks and the two traps attached to his legs.

Slowly we created a path to the next room, first by setting off a trap on purpose, pushing the dying bear through the maw straight away, the black hole closing afterwards without dragging another through. Then we got the idea to use the traps on the bears to send them back to their home. We didn’t want to leave the bears stranded, so in a misguided attempt at setting them free we tried clamping the traps on the bears, opening the vortex directly on them and sending them back to the rolling fields full of their friends. Possibly bleeding to death.

DwarfThe next room was divided by a deep trench across the middle of the room, several feet wide. At the bottom were deadly spikes, and we also discovered that there was a barely visible glass wall on the other side (by Rick jumping in to it and nearly falling to his death). Throwing rocks at the glass revealed that it didn’t go all the way to the ceiling, so we attempted a midget toss using Tiny, tying the rope round him and launching him over the wall. He smashed in to the glass, shattering it, and as he picked the glass out of his face, we all jumped over through the gap he created.

At last, we found the chest we were searching for. Ignoring the dragon’s threats, we opened it and Tiny touched the glowing chain inside. He was enveloped in energy, and was suddenly and permanently bestowed with Gold dragon powers, including the ability to breath fire. His appearance was altered too, with his hair turned to gold and crackling energy surrounding him, turning him into the least subtle thief of all time and resulting in him looking a lot like this…

Trunks

The chain was left grey and depleted. We would have to lie to Venomfang, and try and convince him that we found it like that. We drag the chest all the way to the roof, leaving Tiny down one level, due to his new glowing presence. Disappointed, the dragon nonetheless believed us when we say we didn’t use it, but King Roberto decided to mock him anyway, muttering under his breath. Venomfang casually, yet swiftly, stabbed Roberto with a single claw and nearly one-shotted him on the spot.

Apologising and bleeding profusely, we gave him the chain and he gave us back our ropes so we could join them together and climb down from the tower. As we made our way back to our compatriots, King Roberto mused on what he had learned that day. Mainly, that Level 4 players can’t take a dragon, and as such should probably avoid antagonising them.

Adam

 

Check out part 7 here!

So it’s All Come Down to This… Zombies and Herpes Arrows

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

We returned straight back into the fray outside the cave at Wyvern Tor, with a group of orcs rushing towards the entrance to fight us. The ogre Gog was at the forefront, but as he reached us the dragon Venomfang made his reappearance. He swooped down, grabbing Rick and Deano in each of his claws, picking up Tiny by his pack hanging from his teeth (guess which three party members were away for this session?), and flew off with them, cackling. At the sight of the dragon, the ogre turned tail and ran for the nearby hills. This still left 4 orcs and their huge leader Brugor to attack our now depleted party of four.

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Bubbles quickly dispatched one with a herpes arrow to the face. I should explain. Part of Bubbles’ backstory is that they probably/definitely have herpes. At the start of every session, a dice roll is required to see if there is a particularly bad flare-up that day. The dice roll was poor this time, but Bubbles coated an arrow with the herpes to make it… poisonous? More powerful? Disgusting?

Disgusting.

So this poor orc died, from a combination of herpes and an arrow to the face. King Roberto took out another, ramming a javelin up under its chin not unlike what happens to Timothy Dalton in Hot Fuzz, but driving it home through the brainpan instead. The orc leader Brugor was gradually hacked down by the group, leaving two left who immediately surrendered. They were questioned about the location of Cragmoor Castle, but unhappy with the answers from the first now defenceless orc, Roberto slit his throat. The other, very panicked now, gives us gold and a magic coin.

This session, the DM brought in magic items (most of which he bought real-world versions of, from Claire’s Accessories, and which had to be brought along to each session if the holder wanted to use its effects). Lordy yelled ‘MINE!’ straight away, as they did most of the subsequent magic items, which isn’t really how teamwork functions. The orc told us the wizard Cost, the necromancer who sent us to kill all the orcs, was their friend. After letting him go, we set to cutting off all the ears of the dead orcs, and Brugor’s entire head as proof of a job well done. As is tradition, we looted the bodies, where we found a lovely note from one of their kids . Apparently orcs have blue highlighters.

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On way back during the night, Bubbles stole Lordy’s lucky coin. Lots of hassle ensued, and probable meta gaming that probably should have been punished. Back at the Owls Nest, we found Glass-Staff inside the tent talking with Cost, who tried to silently indicate to us to come back later. Bubbles and Glass-Staff recognise each other an have an awkward moment (as Glass-Staff was the one who gave Bubbles herpes) but before any further discussion Lordy attacked for what were very good reasons I’m sure. Cost joined our side in the fight, using a ring to summon a poisonous snake. Trying to take Glass-Staff out non-lethally so we could question him, King Roberto hit him with the bag of ears. Then cut off his right arm. And left leg.

Cost’s snake bit him, the poison from which quickly killed him. Samuel picked up Glass-Staff’s glass staff, and we found a strange bracelet on him, which Lordy took. Cost then attacked us too, after we ask him why he was dealing with our enemy. We defeated his summoned snake, took the snake ring and killed Cost. Then the horde (is eleven a horde?) of zombies attacked through the tent, but it turned out the bracelet could control the zombies. So that’s what we did.

Heading back to Phandolin to rest up, followed by our retinue of zombies, we crossed paths with two Paladins, Goodwin and Tuck, on horseback. Rewarding us for killing both Cost and Glass-Staff, they were however very aggressively opposed to our plan of having our zombie slaves wait outside the peaceful town while we rested at the inn. We agree to give them the bracelet to destroy, which they did, in exchange for some magic shackles and a fucking magic eyepatch, taken from the Pirate King Saltwater Perkins. King Roberto immediately put on the eyepatch, without waiting for the explanation of its powers. The eyepatch bored out his left eye,  but granted him the ability to summon a storm and use lightning powers once a day. Also +1 charisma! So henceforth his new name would be King Roberto the Pirate King.

pirate king

On our way back the sky darkened, and Venomfang circled above us, dropping Tiny’s thieves toolkit and before flying off towards Thundertree laughing. King Roberto the Pirate King started to formulate a plan to liberate (or pillage the already dead bodies of) his companions up at the deserted town, and fight the dragon with his nifty new storm powers.

Near Phandolin, we briefly headed into the woods to slaughter some cultists who had just murdered a group of villagers and were about to sacrifice a boy. Back in town, we turned the boy over to guards. The boy, impressed by King Roberto the Pirate King’s eyepatch, gave him a jar with a tarantula inside for helping him. He was unsure of what to do with it, but as tarantulas are delicious it could prove a useful snack later. For helping with the cultists, the guard set us up with free rooms at the inn. However, as soon as they enter, Elsa the barmaid can’t resist the draw of the eyepatch, wordlessly leading King Roberto the Pirate King off to the best room in the house.

Thus endeth the session. Come back next week for ‘Blackholes and Bear Traps’!

Adam

 

Check out part 6 here!

So it’s All Come Down to This… Owlbears and Dragons

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

At the start of our fourth session, we all hit Level 3 and were able to pick what sub-classes we wanted to go with. For fighters we were given the option of two martial archetypes: Champion or Eldritch Knight. Deano went with Eldritch Knight, which allowed him to pick a couple of basic spells. As there are two fighters in our group, and picking the same thing would be boring, I went with the Champion martial archetype, granting me improved critical hits – now a natural roll of 19 or 20 will score a critical hit in combat, and that improves even more in higher levels. King Roberto has been practicing his stabbing, and it has paid off!  As rogues, Bubbles chose the Assassin subclass, and Tiny chose to go with thief (because he is a thieving thief), Paladin Rick went down the Path of Devotion (which sounds like a euphemism), and Lordi and Samuel arrived late so we didn’t bother picking their subclasses until next time.

Back in the pub, after a full night of rest, we set about finding some more information about where to go next. King Roberto “questioned” a man that was very similar but not at all the same guy he threatened to stab back in the first session. Regardless, threats worked again. We got leads on nearby Thundertree where Mt. Hootenanny recent erupted and zombies killed the townsfolk, Old Owl Well, Cragmoor Castle where Glass-Staff apparently fled to (and someone wanted us to take care of him and clear the castle), and Coney Island. The problem with writing down joke names for everything is that you rarely remember the proper names later on. Nor do you care. We also spoke to a Sister Gabriel, who wanted us to head to Coney Island to look for the spellbook of Mr Bojangles. There we would find the Banshee Agatha. Banshees sound like fun, so we headed that way.

On the way we were attacked by an Owlbear (Half owl, half bear, all Owlbear). After we dispatched it, with King Roberto finishing it off by ramming a javelin through it’s throat (fast becoming his go-to move – ranged stabbing), we discovered it had been magically shacked. Animal cruelty, so mutilating it was a kindness. Sort of. Propping it up as some sort of meat puppet to ward off attackers while we slept is probably a bit more difficult to justify.

cousin it

We then wasted ages trying to sort out a problem Lordi had developed during the end of the last dungeon, which I forgot to mention. They drank a potion that granted them invisibility, but simultaneously caused all the hair on their body to grow rapidly resulting in a Cousin Itt look (that no one could actually see). Everyone took it in turns at this point (about a full in-game day after the problem arose, not really a priority) to permanently remove the hair, most of which resulted in damage to Lordi. After a lot of pissing around, a dragon suddenly appeared above us. As a mighty level 3 Champion, Roberto started to ponder the implications of attempting to stab the dragon, but thought better of it. For now. The dragon, named Venomfang, did not attack but did mock the goody-two-shoes-paladin-in-training Rick. He departed, indicating that it wasn’t the last we would see of him.

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Arriving at Coney Island, Lordi ignored the rest of the group and tried to confront the Banshee (while Tiny sneaked in to steal something), going about as well as you would expect. Failing to brashly convince Agatha to give up Mr. Bojangles’ book, Lordi was ignored by the Banshee who haughtily told us that the necromancer Seeroff had the book. Giving no more help, the Banshee left. With nothing else to do there, and no more leads, the party headed out of Coney Island and up a worn path.

We came to Old Owl Well, where we saw a large tent and a ruined tower nearby, found to be full of zombies. An aura of dark magic indicated that a necromancer was inside the tent, so Deano attempted to fake Venomfang’s voice to scare him. It failed, as Deano doesn’t actually sound like a dragon, but the necromancer did not attack anyway. We ask about Cragmoor Castle, and he agreed to tell us if we head to the nearby Wyvern Tor (not a name that filled me with anything other than dread) to murder a group of orcs with extreme prejudice, bringing back their ears as proof. Not opposed to wholesale murder for a man who desecrates and summons the dead, we headed off.

A guard outside the cave where the orcs are holed up was quickly and silently dispatched with an arrow to the face by Bubbles, very much taking to that new role of Assassin. Then we set to preparing to fight numerous orcs (and a troll apparently). As we did this Lordi, for reasons totally unknown to everyone, fluttered in some sort of weird love note to the orc leader into the cave, alerting them to our presence. Rick and Deano attempted once again to throw the rope of light between them, to cover the entrance of the cave so we could pick the orcs off. It fails, again, as Ser “Dropper” Deano fumbled the catch, again. The orcs were seconds from the entrance, troll in the lead…

… and we had to call it a night. It was a week night, and everyone had to get back across London to their various homes, very much restricted by the fact that main form of public transport in the capital of this country stops at around midnight. Big ol’ rumble as soon as we start next time!

Adam

 

Check out part 5 here!

So it’s All Come Down to This… Smells Like Doritos and Virginity

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

For this third night, and all sessions from now onwards, the Dungeon Master instigated ‘inspiration points’ as a reward for decisions and gameplay made that he considered true to our characters, and told us there would be punishments for ‘meta-gaming’, so any information gained by us that our characters would not know could not be acted upon. This way, if one of us (Tiny) found some loot and didn’t want to share it, none of us could use the fact that we clearly just heard about it to make him share. The bastard. In addition to this, players were encouraged to message the GM or pass notes for anything they wanted to do and keep secret from the rest of us. Some have used this facility more than others. Like Deano. The bastard.

As with the second night, and the busy schedules of everyone involved, the line up for this session changed again. This time it was Varm who couldn’t make it, written out as having just wandered off by himself. Lordi and Samuel, absent last time as they went off on their own quest, were discovered captured and chained up (presumably by the redbrands) in the room adjacent to where we left our adventurers last time battling a small group of skeletons. After the group saw them off (and Tiny managed to finally extract himself from the hole he was stuck in), Rick ninja-rolled (rickrolled?) through the unlocked door, freeing Sam and Lordi along with a few other hostages. The group found some red cloaks nearby, putting them all on to fool any other redbrands they came across in the rest of the dungeon. Proceeding through a door in the storeroom, we all came to a large cavern with a dark crevasse in the middle and a few small bridges crossing to stairs the other side.

As we entered the cavern, everyone was suddenly stuck by different telepathic messages. King Roberto’s was “Not as good at stabbing as you think you are”, but while he ignored the sentiment as ridiculous, was heartened to find out that for once everyone else was hearing voices in their heads too. Further into the cave, everyone received a second, but this time identical, telepathic message – “Feed me and I will let you live”. Rick used his magic to enchant one of the many beaver pelts he had taken from the storeroom, turning it basically into a glowstick, before throwing it into the darkness to light the way. We then dropped Francis’ corpse (the man Roberto tormented and murdered last time) into the hole, allowing a quick glimpse of the creature communicating with us as it tore apart the carcass. Lordi, the most impulsive player in the group, decided he/she/they were bored of this and fired at the creature. Tiny also tried to steal from a treasure chest hidden under the bridge, and so the creature, revealed to be a Nothic (see the title image!) attacked. Deano placated him by dropping in another body.

Meanwhile, King Roberto, Rick and Sam all headed down some stairs to investigate the rest of the cavern. In one room, they found four drunken redbrands sitting round a table. Thanks to the red cloaks and some quick talking they managed to convince them that they are just new recruits and join them in a drink. Not long after this, Roberto decided to use the disappearing pencil trick from ‘The Dark Knight‘ with his dagger on the nearest redbrand, killing him instantly before slashing at the next nearest. Bubbles takes out one, Rick melons another in the head with a mallet. Bloody combat.

In the room opposite this, Tiny and Bubbles crept inside to find a lab. Seeing a rat, Tiny scored possibly his first kill of the entire adventure. With a ranged attack. On a defenceless rat. This rat turns out to be Glass-staff’s (the guy we are looking for), who was asleep next door and psychically linked to the rodent. Now awake and in agony, he retreated through a secret door and escaped.

During this session Roberto developed an obsession with getting hold of an eyepatch, and continued his distrust of Deano. Mainly because he was feeding every corpse we created to the Nothic down the hole. On the plus side, he developed a friendship with it and scored plenty of information about Glass-Staff, Black Spider and their plans. However, as this has all been telepathically communicated to Deano, he chose to lie and says he got the information from Glass-staff’s desk. Filthy lies. After finding some nifty loot, we headed back to town, ready to head out for the next part of the adventure.

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Finally, we all recently started another new campaign, this time a dungeon run by a very senior member of our lab using the 1st Edition of the Advanced Monster Manual – nearly 40 years old! My character in this game is Texas BBQ (pronounced ‘Tehas Beh Beh Que’), a female half-elf thief. The rules are far less forgiving than the 5th edition, plunging deep into a decades-old dungeon full of zombies, rogues, wizards, orcs and teleporters. While it will be a less frequent game, it is also pretty interesting comparing how different the 1st and 5th edition games are. I think the chances of me dying horribly are much higher though, having barely avoided death by the skin of my teeth already.

Adam

 

Check out part 4 here!