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.

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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.

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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!

 

So it’s All Come Down to This… A Dungeon, and Dragons

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

So I’ve finally done it. I figured there was a geeky stereotype I hadn’t tried yet. I read comics, play a crapload of video games, watch anime (and was the treasurer of an anime society at uni), have cosplayed more than once, and even have a superhero tattoo. And I’ve loved every single second of all of it. But D&D? Never tried it. It isn’t that I was ever opposed to it, I just never got around to it or had the opportunity. A year or so ago, after a night of drinking with some old friends in Bristol, I sat and watched (lets assume I was still drinking and probably eating bacon) as they started character creation before a new session of D&D. I had to leave to get back to the big smoke before they finished, so didn’t get to see any of the actual game played, but it looked to be far more fun than I had previously thought. Even the character creation was entertaining, mainly because of some shitty dice rolling that left my good chum James with a shockingly terrible starting character. But with all the people I knew that would play games like D&D either in Bristol and Bournemouth, and me being trapped in the grey hell that is our glorious capital, I figured my chances of trying it out were slim.

Cut to a couple of months ago, and a London based friend checked my interest in playing as a preliminary before seeing if other (less nerdy) friends would be into it. Not long after (really not long after), he informed us that he had ordered the new 5th Edition Starter Set (out last month) and we started organising our first game, to introduce it to everyone and see if it was something people were into and wanted to carry on with. We had a brief discussion at the pub early last week, convinced the unconvinced into trying it out, and set for later in the week to go through our first try. We elected to use preset characters to save a night of rolling for stats, choosing independently what we each wanted to go for, coming up with names and altering back story, personality traits, flaws, bonds etc. to make things a bit more interesting. Snacks were bought, food was ordered, drinks were drunk, and we were ready to start.

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Our Dungeon Master started us off on the ‘Lost Mine of Phandelver’ campaign which, for reasons I don’t really remember, we decided to call the ‘Lost Mine of Fandango’. In our first night we ran through the first part, being ‘Goblin Arrows’. We introduced our characters to each other, I based my character concept on Futurama’s insane robot Roberto, specifically from the version from the heavily D&D influenced film ‘Bender’s Game’. A human(oid robot) nobleman-turned fighter, recently escaped from an asylum. My character trait was simply ‘crazy’, which freed me up to do very stupid things all night. Some worked out, some didn’t. ‘King Roberto’ as I insisted on going by, along with fellow noble ‘Deano’, the halfling rogues ‘Tiny’ and ‘Bubbles’, the high elf wizard Lordy and the homeopathic cleric Samuel, were tasked with guarding a cart along a route between towns, containing various things including oil and ale.

We came across the dead horses of the dwarf paying us for our job, and our cleric then decided to run us straight into a goblin trap, immediately killing one of the two oxen pulling the cart. I tried to attack, missed and then spent the rest of the encounter ‘practicing my stabbing’ on the dead ox. Through some teamwork (and luck) we got through the situation. We then proceeded to waste about an hour by splitting up. The halflings went ahead with the cleric to scout the area (something they were shockingly bad at, the group setting off more traps), the wizard Lordy decided to set off on her/his own quest southwards, and I suggested to the noble Deano that we should drink all the ale. To lighten the load of the surviving ox, obviously. This all turned into a bit of a mess, and we decided to press on to some caves that the goblin trail led to. Along the way, I kept trying to mug my comrades at knifepoint to stay in character. We entered the caves, and found a side room with some angry chained up wolves. Deano calmed them down. Samuel decided they weren’t calm enough, so tried to sing to them. They got angry again and tried to get loose. Lordy threw iron spikes in their eyes, previously covered in blood, shit and gin, This made them blind, but even more pissed off. I then mercy-killed them. I feel pretty bad about that, even if they weren’t real.

While in the cave we set some goblins on fire, Tiny decided to sneakily steal a load of gold and our characters were none the wiser (the cheeky fucker), and after we convinced the second-in-command goblin to turn against the Bugbear leader, Deano rather masterfully revealed this to the leader, selling out the second in command and striking a deal that got us all paid much more than the original job. He did this so out of the blue that I was relatively convinced he was about to sell us out too. He didn’t, but I’m not so sure I trust Deano that much now, the sly New World bastard… Through all this we got some information of where to go next and some of the wider story to come. I even made a few helpful notes.

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And that concluded our first session. I was expecting it to be fun, maybe a bit awkward, but fun all the same in the end. It was much better than I expected, probably in part thanks to a Dungeon Master who managed to roll with a lot of the stupid shit we pulled, and some ingenious and entertaining thinking that pulled us through without it ever being boring. I’m even fairly sure (and hopeful) that the possible skeptics in the group were into it, especially seeing as we are all keen on carrying on. It remains to be decided if we want to carry on with these originally preset characters, or start from scratch, rolling for stats and coming up with new backgrounds.

Ultimately, D&D has always perpetuated as one of the core nerdy stereotypes not just in the media, but in the general social construct of the nerd. The reason why people continue to play it, now 40 years since the original came out, is because it is damn fun. So much fun that we are all going to keep playing. Haven’t given it a try? Check it out! Now is a great time, with the 5th Edition Starter Set just having come out and more on the way, such as the Player’s Handbook next week and the Monster Manual next month. As long as you go in with an open mind (and a full glass, preferably of whisky) and a decent group of like-minded friends, you’ll do fine.

Adam

 

Check out the next part here!