25 Aug

The Side Quest: Session 2 (Part 2)

When we last left our heroes, Riordan had been grabbed and taken into a cave by an ogre, apparently, for lunch. The elf had shouted that the others should save themselves. For various motivations ranging from heroic streak to the possibility of recovering an ogre’s treasure, the other PCs did not take Riordan’s final exhortation to heart. Instead, the gathered together and cautiously approached the cave into which the ogre and Riordan had disappeared.

Peering into the relatively large cave mouth, they could see that a short corridor of worked stone led to a t-intersection with corridors leading off in two opposite directions. No sound could be heard coming from either direction. Gurdis offered up that they had been in some caves earlier, full of goblins, and that the corridor leading to the east might link up with those caves. Peering down that way, the party could see that the corridor led to another small passageway turning to the south. Reasoning that the ogre wouldn’t have gone that way given the corridor’s small size, they turned to the west.

The western corridor ended in a door. Opening it, the party found a small room that was largely filled with a small pool from, upon further investigation, a natural spring. With no sign of the ogre or Riordan, the party headed down the eastern corridor but before they could get very far, the ogre squeezed through the narrow turn at the end and he was carrying a…

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24 Aug

The Side Quest: Session 2 (Part 1)

Our regular campaign was put on hold again this past session because both RJ and Todd were missing. So, as is now our backup plan, we played The Side Quest again with only one player, Theo, who played in the prior Side Quest session joined by Muse and Rachel, both playing The Side Quest for the first time. Two random characters were created for both of them:

  • Callie Greenbottle: A halfling fighter (duelist) who is a former highway robber and is played by Muse. Callie wants to be rich and famous and will take great risks to achieve both.
  • Grim Tallstag: A less than aptly named human wizard who was an urchin and is played by Muse. Grim is looking to expand his magical repertoire and does not like to have the mismatch between his small stature and his name to be pointed out.
  • Morgraen Brawnanvil: A dwarven rogue and former military scout played by Rachel. Preferring the direct and simple approach to solving problems, Morgraen has difficulty admitting that she’s wrong.
  • Riordan Oakenheel: An elven cleric of Oghma and discredited academic played by Rachel. Riordan has some rather unorthodox theories and seems to be torn between sharing his thoughts and keeping them secret.

Riordan, who has something of an obsession with books and knowledge (and some less than commonly accepted theories on many of the topics of said books), had been discredited from his academic post. In his studies or discussions, he had heard of a fabled library that contained many rare books that was said to be hidden in a valley up in the Nether Mountains, near the settlement of Hawk’s Nest. This library is guarded and cared for by a most unusual ogre.

Not wanting to travel alone in the wilds and having had something of a sheltered life, Riordan sought out a guide who could assist him in his search. This help initially took the form of a dwarven woman, Morgraen Brawnanvil, who claimed to have served as a scout for one of the southern dwarven clans before she had come north to seek out fame and adventure. This pair was joined by a scrawny and short young man who had overheard the deal struck by the pair in one of Neverwinter’s many taverns. With his small stature, wild orange hair, and freckles, not only was Grim Tallstag inappropriately named but he looked nothing like a typical “adventurer” type. He did, however, want to seek his fortune and, hopefully, magical knowledge. Why study under some bossy mentor when you can go out and find the knowledge yourself?

The trio set out together for Hawk’s Nest and Hell’s Haven. As they camped one night, they were not alone. A small halfling, Callie Greenbottle, eyed the group from her hiding spot a short distance away. It became quite apparent that the elf must have something valuable in his pack given how he protectively held it and even used it as a pillow when he settled down to sleep. Although her preferred “prey” were the rich, this person did look to have lived a rather comfortable and pampered life and could easily be one of her favored prey.

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20 Aug

The Side Quest: Session 1 (Part 2)

In my last post, I laid out the first half of our first session of our alternate campaign that we’ll be playing when regular players are missing. RJ, Theo, and Todd each are playing two characters and spent a good portion of the session interacting in the Three Leaves to the Wind Inn in Hawk’s Nest. After a relatively quiet night (only Geth was arrested and caused any real semblance of trouble), the party headed out for Hell’s Haven, a “wall” that cuts off a valley of adventure some six miles from Hawk’s Nest. Yes, the valley is essentially an homage to the Caves of Chaos. However, I’d probably be hard pressed to say that there are really any spoilers for the classic Keep on the Borderlands below the break. For one, I’m using an alternate map and I also pretty much just made it all up as we went. 😉

The “misadventures” of nearly getting their butts handed to them by a handful of goblins are below the break.
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18 Aug

The Side Quest: Session 1 (Part 1)

In our first session of The Side Quest, RJ, Theo, and Todd joined me with their six characters (two each), Ander Liadon, Lavinia Tealeaf, Aramil, Gurdis Fireforge, Darvin Dundragon, and Geth Stormwind. The first thing we needed to determine was why they each were traveling to Hawk’s Nest. While the players may have thought this was just the typical exercise of sharing a little background, it was a bit more than that. Their reasons for coming to this little part of the world would significantly drive what they would actually find when they got to this little part of the world.

Theo decided that Gurdis found killing orcs to be one of the most satisfying things in the world. It turned out that Aramil shared that same interest. The pair, despite being something of an odd couple, found this interest to be enough to travel together. Having heard of Madd Matt and Hell’s Haven, the pair had also heard that bounties were paid for orcs and the like. This brought them to Hawk’s Nest on one fine (very early) spring day.

RJ started with Ander, the young wizard. Apparently, his mentor had gifted another of his apprentices with [sorry RJ, I forgot exactly what it was…a wand?]. Somehow, Ander had gotten it in his head that this item should actually be his. Ander, apparently, has issues of some sort. This fellow apprentice had headed of to the area of Hawk’s Nest to seek adventure the prior “season” and had taken the item with him. Lavinia had happened upon this young wizard in a tavern in Silverymoon. She plied him with drink and learned of his plans. Despite having a relatively lucrative position in one of the city’s merchant guilds, she decided to just abandon all that and head off with this person that she had just met.

Todd explained that Darvin (who is using the false identity of Gorstag) was seeking vengeance. His mother had worked for a powerful person in Silverymoon. She had been killed by another powerful person who had been visiting and working with her employer. It turns out that this “person” was actually a dragon. Gorstag/Darvin had heard a rumor that a powerful blade, something of a dragonsbane, had been lost in the area of Hawk’s Nest. So he set off in search of it.

Geth, I believe, was on the move to avoid some past acquaintances who were a bit interested in seeing him…or at least his head…and the item that he had taken from them which was, in turn, taken from him. He had joined up with a caravan that was traveling through Silverymoon Pass. When they arrived at Hawk’s Nest, Geth took his leave. It may have helped that he had broken the nose of the caravan master’s son, Vaesel, in a bit of a scuffle and debate over the nature and position of Geth’s mother’s boots when Vaesel last saw her…wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

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17 Aug

The Side Quest: Introduction

Absent players slightly derailed our Starter Set campaign this past session. Rachel and Muse both ended up having to miss this session. That left us with half of the players (2) and half of the characters (3). We are also going to have a number of upcoming sessions where at least one player will be missing. So I’ve decided (and I think everyone is okay with it) that we’ll have a side campaign for when we don’t have enough players for the regular campaign but still want to play. We also had a new player, Theo, joining us for the first time this session.

The Side Quest, as I’m calling this alternate campaign, is still going to be using the 5th Edition rules and will be a sandbox where the players will largely be dictating what they do each session. Whoever shows up, plays. Whoever doesn’t show, has their character(s) sit out that session. The characters were randomly generated…even the backgrounds, traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws. Personally, I think it is a great exercise for players to play these type of random characters.

The cast of PCs includes:

  • Ander Liadon: A wood elf wizard who is a folk hero and is played by RJ.
  • Aramil: A high elven fighter who is an ex-soldier and is played by Theo.
  • Darvin Dundragon: A human cleric with the charlatan background who is going by the name of Gorstag Greycastle who is played by Todd.
  • Geth Stormwind: A human fighter who is an ex-enforcer (criminal) who is played by Todd.
  • Gurdis Fireforge: A mountain dwarf cleric who is a bounty hunter (outlander) and is played by Theo.
  • Lavinia Tealeaf: A lightfoot halfling rogue who is a guild merchant and is played by RJ.

There are also a number of guidelines that I set out for The Side Quest, in no particular order, and additional information below the break.
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10 Aug

D&D Starter Set Session 5

At the end of our fourth session with the D&D Starter Set, the party had made their way to the frontier town of Phandalin after experiencing the horror of a doppleganger and the psychoses of goblins. They had learned of the death of Bran’s brother-in-law, Thell, and the disappearance of his sister, niece, and nephew as well as about the Redbrands, a gang terrorizing the town. Various interactions with NPCs had given them various bits of information, some allies, and, most likely, some enemies. Baren had left town with two young clerks and two oxen from Barthen’s provisions to recover the supplies and wagon the party had left behind. The others had gathered at the Stonehill Inn to get rooms for the night and to have some lunch. While the others continued to relax at the inn, Feran left to go buy some arrows on his own. Shortly after leaving the inn, he ran into trouble.

There are potential spoilers below the break for the Starter Set adventure, Lost Mine of Phandelver. This write-up is from yours truly. My GM comments, as typical, are in [brackets and italics].

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08 Aug

With You All the Way

I started playing D&D back in 1978 when I was in Junior High School. One day, during lunch, I walked into the library and saw some guys sitting around a table rolling some weird looking dice. One of them, Dave, was a kid on my soccer team so I went over and asked what they were doing. The answer, of course, was Dungeons & Dragons. Someone handed me the Monster Manual and I spent the next few lunch hours reading it. I proceeded to then spend many a weekend night playing D&D with my friends (Jim, Pat, Rich, Russ, and Wayne) all through junior high and high school with Jim being our main DM.

Player Handbooks

Today I picked up the newest edition of D&D from Secret Headquarters, one of Tallahassee’s gaming stores.

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05 Aug

D&D Starter Set Session 4

When we last left our party, they had set out in search of their missing oxen and had found a small cave containing some goblins. The party’s exploration had led to Corlinn hitting his head against some rocks and being knocked out (i.e., zero hit points). Valanthe had attempted to bluff the goblins in essentially surrendering. Instead, she ended up making a deal with one goblin to take on a little mission on his behalf. He, in exchange, would release a prisoner they were holding once the mission was completed. The party was just getting started on this “mission.”

Before continuing, we’ve got some happy news! Todd has a schedule that now allows him to join us in playing! Rather than take one of the characters of off the hands of Rachel or RJ (who are both playing two characters), we all decided that it might be best for him to play his own character. Bran Hornraven, a human wizard, makes his debut this session.

There are potential spoilers below the break for the Starter Set adventure, Lost Mine of Phandelver. This write-up is from yours truly. My GM comments, as typical, are in [brackets and italics].

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