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.

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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.

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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.

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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… Redbrands, Skeletons and Barmaids

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

Continuing our epic adventure where we left off (part 1 here!), following a level up at the end of the last dungeon, we finally arrived at the town of Phandalin, our goal for dropping off the cart and oxen (our original mission, still not really our priority) and essentially a quest hub. For this leg of the adventure, our companions Lordy and Samuel went off on their own  quest temporarily. However, we were joined by the human cleric (training to be a paladin) Rick, and the elven wizard Varm. They had longer names. I do not remember them.

We elected first to check out the Stonehill Inn to find out some information about the town. After a couple of failed attempts to question the proprietor, King Roberto decided to mug, at knife point, a farmer who was trying to have a quiet drink. Terrified, he tells us the town is plagued by Redbrands, human bandits who burned his crops. Bubbles discovered some secret Thieves’ cant writing supporting this, and a warning to beware of ‘The Sleeping Giant, another pub in the area. Deano, helpfully, then attempted to hook up with the barmaid, but a bad roll meant all he got was a polite smile and half a free beer. Immediately after Deano struck out, Roberto attempted the same and definitively did not strike out, disappearing up to the innkeeper’s chambers for an encounter with Elsa the barmaid.

After one or two turns of passion with Elsa (one turn is approximately 6 seconds apparently), King Roberto then took Rick and Deano to investigate the woodcarver’s house, who had been killed by the bandits and his wife and children kidnapped. Deano and Rick blundered into the dark house through its open door, failing to light a lantern to see where they are going. Roberto decided to light one of his javelins, the pointy end, to illuminate the room. There wasn’t much in the house, but the commotion made brought attention in the form of the sound of footsteps and drawn swords outside. Deano called out and used his silver tongue to convince the approaching red brands that we were also Redbrands (specifically a Redbrand named Tim), and that they weren’t needed here, so they returned to Tresendar Manor. Which we decided to call Trent Reznor Manor.

On the other side of town, Tiny, Bubbles and Varm left to scope out The Sleeping Giant, a dank and raucous pub. Bubbles is specifically looking for Glass-Staff the Wizard, the possible leader of the Redbrands who previously tried to kill Tiny and probably gave Bubbles herpes. Bubbles entered the inn and was confronted by 4 Redbrands inside. Varm burst in and set them on fire, while Bubbles fired an arrow through the eye of the biggest bandit.. Tiny, having climbed in the 1st floor window, crept down the stairs, saw another one off. King Roberto then charged through the open door, without surveying what was going on, ramming the still-flaming javelin through the face of the Redbrand advancing towards the halflings, exploding his head.

The final man ran, and Varm attempted to freeze his legs to stop him warning the others and to allow the party to question him. Unfortunately the spell wasn’t accurate enough, and the forward momentum caused the legs to freeze to the ground but crack off at the knees, leaving the stumps behind and killing him in seconds through shock and blood loss. It turns out that this was the real Tim, now dead in the mud, with a pocket watch from his lover, the barmaid Elsa (plot twist!) congratulating him on his first day. The proprietor informed us that Glass-Staff was holed up in the ruins under Trent Reznor Manor, and Tiny found a note in Thieves’ cant stating ‘Beware the wizard Glass-Staff. He is not what he seems. The Black Spider controls all.’. The party then headed back to their inn for bed. Roberto attempted to get back into bed with Elsa the bar maid, but apparently being covered head to toe in the blood and brains of his enemies is a deal breaker for some reason, and  she left him to the comfiest room in the  inn.

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The next morning, the group went through some Lionshield chests from the caves last time, containing standard adventurer gear including a shiny rope. Lying to the woman working at the Lionshield Coster that we only found one of their crates, and all it contained was random gear, we find out that it is called the Rope of Light, and that it was for a very important person overseas. We then headed to Barthen’s, the trader for whom we were supposed to deliver the cart to, who only gave us half the gold each we were due because we drank all the ale, used the oil and got one of the oxen killed. What a dick.

We decided to head to Trent Reznor Manor. With nothing of note outside, the group headed down some stone steps beneath. Deano went down a corridor on his own, falling down a trap. Rick used the rope of light to pull him back up, but when gripped at both ends the rope created spider’s webs, trapping Deano further. Letting go dissipated the webs, allowing Bubbles to use a normal rope to pull Deano up. The three of them proceeded to jump across the hole, heading down the corridor into a new room containing three sarcophagi and three skeletons crumpled up against them. The skeletons came to life, and the 3 companions quickly came up with a plan – Deano would run to the end of the room, Rick would throw him the other end of the Rope of Light, trapping the skeletons, whereupon Bubbles would jump on Rick’s shoulders to shoot the trapped skeletons. What actually happened was Deano tripped, fumbling the plan somewhat, setting a small fire nearby in the process and trapping himself with the skeletons. Together, Bubbles and Rick killed one skeleton. Two remained, slowly breaking free of the spider webs and moving towards them.

Meanwhile Tiny, Varm and Roberto venture into another room at the bottom of the stairs. There they found 3 Redbrands in bunk beds, two asleep and one awake reading a letter. Varm put the last one asleep with a spell, allowing Roberto  read the letter, addressed to Francis. It is from Elsa (the same barmaid who Roberto slept with), who turns out to be pregnant with Francis’s baby (further plot twist!). Francis was tied up and woken for questioning. He tells them that Black Spider hired the Redbrands, Tiny left to join the other group, but fell down the same trap hole that Deano set off. Then, for reasons that he himself doesn’t quite remember, King Roberto decided to tell Elsa’s baby daddy that not only was she unfaithful to him with a man named Tim, but she was also unfaithful with Roberto himself the previous night. Enraged, Francis tried to escape his bonds, vowing to kill this ‘Tim’ (who is already dead). Roberto then murdered him horribly, for more reasons he can’t quite remember.

And then it was late, and we all needed to make it to the last tube, so we called it a night. Picking up mid-dungeon and mid-combat next time!

Adam

 

Check out part 3 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!