In order to keep things simple he game us a choice out of a selection of races and careers and then rolled up characters for us to use. This both allowed him to test out a wide variety of the new rules as well as making sure we didn't create too many surprises for him...well...the former definitely...the latter might be my paranoia showing through.
It's worth noting that though all of us have some experience of role-playing and many of us also with GMing for that matter it's been quite a while since any of us had anything to do with Dungeons and Dragons and had nothing at all to do with 5th Edition so everything was somewhat new. Meaning we were no doubt going to make some mistakes but luckily our GM had done his research and had given us more than enough information to get on with...
First, some background on the area of the world we'll be exploring that the GM has created for us...
The Kingdom of Arndor
Arndor is a landlocked country on the continent of Tellis. Arndor’s population is predominantly human though being one of the more hospitable races, the other races of Tellis are more common within it’s borders. To the North Arndor is bordered by the Dragonborn realm of Kezz’mir, the East by the Elven Forest kingdom of Cellioed and to the South by the mountain hold of Rodahn and to the West lies the Giant realm of Nasshar which is at almost constant war with one race or another, the last ending five years ago. The surface races of Tellis exist largely in peace though some are slow to forget ancient grudges.
King: Regis Achette
The Fiefdom of Otteria
Otteria is a small and largely unimportant fief in the warmer north of Arndor. Primarily made up of small farming communities it is also home to a few small village, made more important as the centres of tax collection and what little military power Otteria can offer. The Fief’s capital of Oakvale is little more than a village itself, being primarily a market town and a centre for exporting lumber from the local willow woods. Sadly Reeve Billings has recently passed away, with the title being awarded to a young noble named Ryman Beringer.
Editors Note - The picture was roughly sketched while at work by our GM...please don't judge him, lol.
Those of you who follow the RPG articles on the blog will know that I tend to write-up the sessions as a kind of narrative and this one will be no exception...in fact...here we go...
Introduction - The Message
The Reeve sends a message far and wide, asking for adventurers to come to Oakvale to rid it of strange creatures terrorising the area.
The following heroes were amongst those that answered the call....
Andrew's character: Gur'ash Ironjaw - Half Orc Fighter (Soldier)
Dave's character: Darrius Evermier - Human Rogue (Criminal)
Garreth's character: Lucius Glimmerscale - Dragonborn Sorcerer (Noble)
Steph's character: Fauna - Tiefling Ranger (Outlander)
Steve's character: Sharn Blightender - Half Elf Ranger (Folk Hero)
...and an NPC Cleric named Trevellan Weatherly that we pick up later...
Each of us was provided with a brief paragraph of information as well.
Gur'ash Ironjaw - Half Orc Fighter
Life as a half Orc is hard as Orc kind are despised across Tellis. Your human mother spoke little of your father other than that she loved him, unlike many couplings of Orc and Man there’s was a mutual lust. Life was good however you still never fit in so when the recruiters came to town you were quick to join up. You've seen few battles since the end of the giants war. Your tour of duty up you have been sent to Oakvale to be discharged, the need for more burns within you however.
Darrius Evermier - Human Rogue
A famed second story man, in the right circles, you've recently found work running dry. Hailing from the capital city of Winborne, the recent raise in guards and security in the city has left most thieves hard on their luck,but you are not most thieves. One especially murky eve you find yourself acquiring some property from a messenger from the fief of Otteria, a message included within informs you that the new Reeve is asking adventurers to meet in Oakvale to aid with trouble plaguing the area and promising a handsome purse of gold for the trouble.
Lucius Glimmerscale - Dragonborn Sorcerer
You are a noble from the dragon empire of Kezz’mir, and from a well respected clan. For decades now you’re people have been at peace with their human and elf southern neighbours, however raids from beneath the earth’s surface keep your warriors busy. It is concern about these raids that brings you south into the human realm of Arndor. The elder’s of your clan believe something in the human realm is driving the goblin kin and their ilk to the surface. Not long after entering the human’s country you are met by a messenger from the Fief of Otteria, he informs you that the new Reeve is asking adventurers to meet in Oakvale to aid with trouble plaguing the area.
Fauna - Tiefling Ranger
You have lived in the wild for as long as you remember. You know a little of your lineage from your mother but she was unwilling to speak to you much about her time in Nasshar (the home of the giant kin). You have been free from slavery but still caught in its shadow. You are content with life in the wilds and feel at one with nature however, of late creatures of darkness are stirring through the forest. You've combated them as best you can, but you sense something amiss. By chance you happen across a messenger from the Fief of Otteria, he informs you that the new Reeve is asking adventurers to meet in Oakvale to aid with trouble plaguing the area and the Oaken forest.
Sharn Blightender - Half Elf Ranger
While your family hail from the Elven kingdom of Cellioed circumstances brought your father to Arndor when you were young. Your father was the healer in the town of Oakvale for human generations, your birth was the happiest moment too short lived before the Goblin raids took him in your twenty third year. Fraught with rage you set out to end the blight of goblin kin. You do not often speak of that day but you still remember the screams as the goblins fell to your blade. since then you have been hailed as a hero by the locals. In recent times reports of strange creatures have surfaced and the town is once again afraid and looking toward their hero.
Act One - 'Answering the Call'
On arriving at the Northern gate Lucius found it to be locked and an anxious looking guard was ushering any who approached around the town to the Southern side. Lucius had no intention of traversing the towns outer wall like some kind of peasant while he was standing right in front of a perfectly usable town gate and relayed this opinion as forcefully as possible to the guard who being somewhat overwhelmed by the situation of being berated by an obviously wealthy and important representative of the Dragonborn clans relented and allowed him access. Being unfortunately of lower birth the Half-Orc Gur'ash was unable to gain the same benefit and instead traipsed around the perimeter to the opposite town entrance.
Editors Note - Our GM tends to err on the side of role-playing rather than dice rolling so if you do a conversation well in character you can usually get away without needing to do a test if the situation isn't particularly critical. It's also a bit lame if you do an awesome in character bit of role-playing and then fail because of rolling a one...
On the other side of town Lucius acquired himself the closest thing he could find to some food of quality and then found himself a fairly clean and acceptable seating area near the front of the prepared meeting place so as to avoid having to push his way through the rabble at a later point. After some time the area began to fill with people wishing to hear the reason for the summons by their new ruler and as well as curious locals there were significant numbers of those with the look of adventurers drawn by the promise of fame and fortune.
The Reeve is accompanied by an amiable looking halfling and without preamble begins the speech that you have all been waiting for.
"Many of you have heard rumours or seen some evidence of the creatures, farms to the north and south of the village have been pillaged and left empty. We ask that you brave folk go out to investigate and hopefully stop these troubles. I offer the sum of 1,000 gold pieces to anyone who can save Otteria."
As soon as the speech was completed several groups of locals armed with the most basic of equipment grouped together and headed off while several like minded adventurers were also banding together presumably as they knew each other from previous adventurous activities.
Editors Note - 'Lucius' has a high Charisma score which combined with being a noble enables him to get away with being a dick (up to a point of course). Charisma is also the stat used for his particular type of magic (Sorcery) as the Sorcerers magic is based on him using internal power to impose his will upon the world whereas some-one playing a Wizard would prioritise Intelligence as his magic comes from spells written in a spell-book.
Meanwhile the thief Darrius was looking out for any interesting potential marks in the area and was somewhat amused to see Sharn attempting to play it cool on sighting the Dragonborn and failing quite badly before pulling himself together. Immediately Darrius put Sharn in the 'mark' category and decided to introduce himself. Lucius was used to such reactions from impressionable members of inferior races and so chose not to comment on it but was somewhat more impressed by the human nearby who carried himself confidently despite being no doubt impressed. Both the human and the half-elf moved close enough to hopefully hear the subsequent conversation in the hope of learning more about the local situation.
The halfling who introduced himself as Fredrick hadn't a great deal of extra information other than pointing them towards the Willowwood family whose lumber-yard and associated camp had been one of the locations attacked. Apparently the whole population of the camp had disappeared along with many of the families servants. Fredrick also informed the Dragonborn noble and the Half-Orc that the most likely place to find them would be the main temple in the centre of town. The town was (in Lucius's opinion at least) poorly laid out and where (as far as he was concerned) there should be a path there was instead a large hedge. Sharn seeing a way of ingratiating himself with the noble as well as getting himself involved with the meeting offered to help with directions and the two groups of two became a single group of four. Fauna's curiosity was also piqued but as she was still unsure about joining up with the group she instead followed stealthily in order to avoid any attention and such was her skill in that area that her presence was completely unnoticed.
Inside the temple a ceremony of some kind was going on that appeared to be the ordination of a cleric or priest and a considerable crowd was in attendance. It also appeared that the temple was the place that the locals had gone to for shelter from the external threats as a large number of makeshift beds and the like were scattered around the outer areas. While Lucius was distracted by the ceremony Darrius made his way through the milling throng and located the aforementioned Willowwoods. Darrius made some basic introductions while waiting for the rest of the fledgling group to join them and once the rest were gathered he left Lucius to do the talking while he looked around for any potential marks amongst the crowd.
After moving into a more private side-room the Willowwoods relayed the tale of the mysterious disappearance of their workers and servants, strange creatures in the woods and Lucius sympathised with the inconvenience they were no doubt experiencing having to function without their usual retainers. After some pertinent questions from the others Lucius gained access to the Willowwoods carriage and horse for the purpose of transporting themselves to the abandoned woodland camp with Sharn offering to find them a driver of some description as none of them had any skill in this area. Gur'ash had embraced the role of group bodyguard as this felt like a natural extension of his previous role as soldier and had taken to positioning himself where he could best act in their defence and had taken position outside the room in order to prevent any unwanted interruptions. Despite his alertness he completely failed to notice the Teifling Fauna stealthily observing the exchange nearby.
Editors Note - Faunas player Steph apparently has the ability to pass any test relating to stealth at will and in spectacular fashion.
Now having more detailed information on the problem, a location to begin their investigations and most of what was necessary to get there they needed to go it was decided to spend the night at the local inn and begin their journey tomorrow morning. Deciding that this would be an ideal time to introduce herself Fauna approached the Dragonborn and having some skill with animals pointed out that there was no need to obtain the services of a coach driver as she herself was more than capable of taking on that role herself. With the final obstacle to their journey now overcome with Fauna's addition to the group they each went to spend their evenings as their personal preferences dictated. Lucius obtained himself the best suite of rooms that the inn had to offer with Gur'ash utilising one for himself in his self adopted role as the nobles protector and this suited the Dragonborn just fine. Sharn as a local celebrity was given a comfortable room at a bargain price to use once he grew weary of dealing with the crowd of well wishes that seemed to follow him everywhere in the inn he went. Darrius opted to stay at an establishment of a different kind where rooms could be hired together with a female companion whose affections and services could be obtained for a negotiable fee.
Fauna opted to spend the night in the branches of the magical oak at the centre of town where she felt most comfortable and her life in the forest had more than adequately equipped her to agilely climb to a likely vantage point with her faithful wolf keeping watch nearby.
Act Two - 'The Lumber-yard'
Before beginning their journey Lucius paid a visit to the halfling Frederick to inform him of their destination and to extract from him some supplies for their journey. He managed to acquire a considerable hamper of food and drink from the impressionable young halfling as well as an offer of future assistance should they require it.
After spending some time familiarising herself with the horse Fauna informed everyone that she was ready for them to go and though she noted that the horse seemed to have an unusual magical aura of it's own she decided to keep this information to herself for now. Lucius took one of the seats inside the carriage with Darrius taking the other. Sharn perched himself on the top which left Gur'ash to hang onto the back as best as he could but at least it beat walking. Fauna's wolf seemed happy to trot alongside and the others paid it little attention once she had admitted that it belonged to her.
Editors Note - 'Fauna' didn't have a specific skill for riding a carriage but had enough other abilities that the GM allowed her to use these to test against and it was these that she passed. Our GM however decided that as the abilities in question weren't specific to the task she was attempting that there would be some issues with the ride...hence the bumps...and the tests to stay on board for those clinging to the outside...
Fauna brought the carriage to an abrupt halt in the facilities main courtyard. There were piles of wood in one corner, a large warehouse and what seemed to be a building that functioned as living quarters. Darrius noted that there were several signs of recent habitation including washing hung out to dry and other small signs that a thief such as himself would take as indicating that some-one was home. Fauna together with her wolf 'Echo' and Sharn utilised their respective tracking skills to look for signs of activity, Darrius continued to assess the area with a thieves eye and Gur'ash moved to protect the two Rangers from any potential danger at Lucius's suggestion. Lucius himself stayed with the carriage as he was used to having other people perform tasks on his behalf rather than doing any actual work himself and as the others seemed happy to do so he was happy to let them...for now at least...
Editors Note - Well...actually he found a really valuable coin but he did such a good job of hiding the fact that 'officially' none of our characters know he found anything at all.
Utilising the abilities he normally reserved for more criminally orientated activities the Rogue Darrius continued his search of the room though it was Fauna who noticed something odd about one of the tapestries on the wall. On further investigation she discovered that one of the wall hangings seemed to be at an odd angle and swiftly revealed a door behind before calling Darrius over to check the lock. The others moved closer to see what he had discovered as Darrius started work on the doors lock and impressed every-one with the speed at which he managed to open it...
Editors Note - Apparently it wasn't actually locked...which is probably why the GM was chuckling at this point...
The door opened to reveal a small but well decorated office with a desk roughly in it's centre. Sitting behind the desk was a corpse that had all the signs of having been there for months if not years. It seemed highly unlikely that no-one in the lumber-yard camp had known that the room was there or that they had simply left a dead man in there while going about there business. Lucius and those of the others with knowledge of such things immediately leapt to the conclusion that the outlawed magic of Necromancy was involved. Taking no chances Lucius drew upon his inner reserves of sorcererous power and fired a bolt of flame into the bodies chest much to every-ones surprise as up to this point he'd gave no indication of having any such powers.
With the investigation of the inside completed the rangers returned to the outside of the complex in order to complete their search for a trail to follow and between the two rangers and the wolf soon discovered tracks at the rear of the block they'd recently explored. The track was barely wide enough for the carriage but Fauna was confident she could navigate the route while driving the carriage though the ride might be a bit bumpy...well...bumpier...After a brief period of consultation with the others related to their relative strengths and weaknesses as a group their lack of any-one with healing skills became worryingly apparent. It was decided to return to town to attempt to find the services of a healer of practitioner of healing magics that would be willing to accompany them on the remainder of their quest. With this decided they returned to town...
Act Three - '...and then there were six...and a wolf...'
Fauna was more familiar with their transport and the terrain with this being the third time she'd traversed the route and the ride was a tad smoother than previous journeys though no less rapid. Progress was slower once the previously discovered trail was followed and the adventurers were forced to either make camp or travel through the night and they decided upon the former. Fortunately their stop was uneventful and the journey continued next morning. The trail eventually led to a temple to the goddess of magic Mystra which those with local knowledge stated had been abandoned for some time presumably due to the fact that the goddess herself had apparently been destroyed.
The temple was surprisingly well maintained considering it's allegedly 'abandoned' status and several magical effects were still active including swirling patterns in the floor and a magical illusion that projected a representation of the goddess that greeted those that approached the main altar. Lucius noted that these were actually very basic uses of the Prestidigitation spell and was significantly less impressed than the others at what he considered pretty much parlour tricks.
Editors Note - There are a lot of gods in the various planes of existence of these worlds and generally the races only show significant levels of respect to the ones they personally worship, Lucius for example worships Bahumut and therefore is unlikely to be impressed by any deity that isn't a bloody great dragon...
Darrius attention was drawn to the altar though more likely from a desire to remove anything of value from it rather than any real attempt at investigation but none the less found to his interest that the large altar showed signs of having been moved at some point. After a brief inspection he found an inadequately concealed mechanism and upon activation the whole thing slid backward to reveal a stairway beneath. While the others lit torches, Lucius cast a minor spell that caused several glowing lights to appear and guided them ahead to illuminate their route. This increased light revealed an entirely different type of iconography belonging not to Mystra but rather to Myrkul, a minor god of death and magic. Before Darrius could attempt to open the double doors ahead of them the magical light of Lucius's spell appeared to activate some arcane trigger built into them and as glowing lines spread from the locks the doors themselves swung open. Unsure if her skills extended to combat Lucius turned to offer Fauna his own magical dagger and was surprised to find that she was brandishing a pair of crossbows. Evidentially there was a martial aspect to her skills that had been previously un-revealed.
The doorway opened into a spacious meeting or dining room filled with tables across which a large number of dead bodies were conspicuously placed in various states of decay. Some were sitting as if they had died halfway through a meal while others were sprawled across tables or lying in odd crumpled angles on the floor. Several doors led from the room and a well was incongruously located in one corner. Before the party could investigate further a robed figure emerged from a doorway in one corner with a look of obvious surprise on his face at encountering the interlopers however before Lucius could attempt any form of conversation his more martially inclined companions had drew their weapons. The figure began to chant in a strange language and as he did so the corpses scattered around the room lurched into life with several of them brandishing bows and battered but functional melee weapons.
Editors Note - It's possible we spent a round of combat stabbing, hacking and shooting fire into an already deceased enemy...better to be safe than sorry I suppose...
With the immediate threat eliminated the area was carefully searched though much to Darrius's disappointment there was little of value outside of some low denomination coins in the occasional corpses pocket.
Act Four - 'Into the Crypt...'
The first of the side doors investigated led to what would once have been a food storage area though the contents were now long passed the point of safe consumption, the well seemed to have no significance and so it was decided to move deeper into the complex. Before moving on Darrius suggested that claiming their reward should they successfully eliminate the threat to Oakvale would require some proof and on examination of their foes corpse he suggested that removal of a piece of skin upon which an arcane and disturbing tattoo had been inked might serve the purpose. No-one else seemed inclined to make the attempt but unfortunately he made such a mess of the extraction that the piece of skin was pretty much unrecognisable by the time he'd finished.
Editors Note - I think this was our first critical failure (the rolling of an unmodified one is bad news in Dungeons and Dragons terms) of the session...it was not to be the last though...
The next room was filled with bunks and the various lockers and containers that one would expect to find in such seeping quarters and other than a few coins held little that could be considered treasure. After a thorough inspection the group moved on guided by their own torches and the light provided by Lucius's own spell to a crossroads. The right hand passage led back to the room of their initial encounter and a short corridor ahead of them was the next place they chose to look. Darrius had seemingly adopted the role of 'point' man and given the skill with locks he had exhibited so far the others were happy to let him do so. Narrowly avoiding several darts launched across the corridor led Darrius to notice that certain of the floor tiles were somewhat raised and it was these that were the trigger for the traps he had encountered up to this point. Once discovered these were fairly obvious and after pointing this out to his current companions he bypassed the lock on the door ahead and found himself in a small armoury. Though the contents might be of some minor value there were no weapons that were superior to those already possessed by the explorers and so they were left behind for the time being.
The projectile weapons of his ranger allies were similarly ineffective and thudded harmlessly into the library walls behind the foe, Realising that his offensive cantrips would be insufficient on this occasion the Sorcerer Lucius instead summoned a cloud of magical daggers in the midst of these new enemies and though they passed harmlessly through his allies they did considerable damage to the creatures giving Darrius a moment of respite. The cleric once again drew upon his own magical talents but this time instead of a direct attack against the attackers he focussed power into the parties weapons which began to glow brightly at which point they began to actually cause damage to their previously untouchable foes. Having no significant martial skills to speak of Lucius moved away from danger while concentrating on keeping his magical onslaught supporting those that did. With their weapons now hurting their enemies as they would a flesh and blood enemy the heroes soon overcame the spectral ambushers.
Editors Note - Our GM created a magic item for Lucius that is a mix of the attributes of several other magical items. Effectively it has a number of pockets that contain useful items that shouldn't really be able to fit in them which allows him to carry a full compliment of adventuring gear without actually looking like he's carrying anything at all. In practical terms this doesn't give him any more benefit than carrying a big sack of gear but is a nice representation of his noble status without unbalancing the party.
The only exit from the room led to a second crossroads of which Darrius took the left passage and the rest followed. The door at the end of the room had a lock that the thief was unable to penetrate despite several attempts. Lucius pointed out that he had magical talents that could open the door if necessary but so doing would tax him considerably and could possibly render him too weak to cast more offensive spells later. It was decided to explore the other passages first and return here later should they still be willing and able to do so. The next passage ended in a similar doorway down a corridor that had a considerable quantity of the booby-trapped tiles discovered earlier and a firmly secure locked door at the end. The quality and sophistication of this lock indicated that it was obviously designed to protect something of considerable value and in his concentration to bypass the mechanism he initially failed to notice a magical trap built into the door. A crackle of energy building up alerted him to this threat and he leapt aside in the nick of time...
The blast of energy avoided by Darrius was brought to a stop by the first intervening object which unfortunately happened to be the dragonborn Lucius standing further down the passage and the high energy impact blasted him backwards. Trevellan was again forced to use his talents to heal a party member and Lucius himself began to regret being so quick to save the thief from the wraith they'd encountered earlier. The room contained a number of chests containing a large quantity of small value coins and several weapons of an obviously magical nature. These magical weapons were divided amongst those with the skills to use them should another creature immune to conventional harm be encountered.
Editors Note - Bear in mind that this adventure was initially meant to be a one-off so some of these items might prove to only be short-term in effectiveness...I doubt we'll all end up still with a magic sword each by the time the next session roll's around, lol.
With the weapons shared out and the chests of coins being left for later retrieval they moved on to the final passageway of the corridor. Ominously this door was unlocked...
Seated upon a throne at the far end of the room was a skeletal figure flanked by a pair of emaciated looking ogres holding large sledgehammer like clubs. The adventurers warily spread out in anticipation of an attack and during this brief respite Lucius addressed the creature directly. The figure seemed almost amused at being spoken to and Lucius was surprised to be able to extract some information from it during which time the rest moved to better attack positions and readied themselves for the inevitable time that violence was needed.
The lich revealed that it had sacrificed many of the captured villagers and turned the rest into the undead they had faced on their journey through the underground complex. The disposed of victims bodies it revealed had been hurled down the well they had noted earlier and it planned to expand it's army imminently. Seeing no other alternative they chose this moment to attack.
The projectiles launched by Fauna at the creature were deflected at the last minute by an unseen energy. Testing to see if only mundane attacks were blocked by this defence Lucius fired a magical bolt of energy in it's direction only to find this diverted as well. The source of this power would need to be found before their enemy could be assaulted directly and an object on an altar in the centre of the room seemed like an obvious place to start and as they advanced upon the altar the ogres began to advance upon them. The strange object was indeed the source of the protective field and once it was destroyed the real battle could begin.
Lucius once again summoned the cloud of daggers and caught both the Lich and his bodyguards in it's area of effect causing many wounds to them though none proved fatal. Trevellan used his remaining energies to destroy one of the wounded bodyguards while the half-orc attacked the second with Echo staying at the side of it's mistress while Fauna fired bolt after bolt into the foul creature. Gur'ash proved to be a match for the second bodyguard as Darrius and Sharn engaged the Lich who was now desperately trying to defend itself from attacks from all directions. Against this relentless onslaught their enemy succumbed to the inevitable...
Now all that remained was to make their escape...
Back to Reality.
Over to our GM for a brief overview of how he thought the session went...
In my opinion the session went really well if a little over-long. 5th ed is a really well made system that's got IMO the perfect balance of rules to story telling, no more floating modifiers just a simple advantage/ disadvantage system. I honestly can't praise the stripped backed rules enough and also the scope of choice the core books now offer to both players and GM
The group dealt really well with the characters they were given, especially as they only had a few sentences to work with and a background paragraph. It has been really rewarding to know the guys wanted more. As such the short story of the heroes if Oakvales has now become the epic tome that is "The return of Thrassyl'iax".
Hopefully I'll have some more input after next session as I'm putting more if the rules into play. I've also begun an article on the system and D&D's rebirth you may see if GMort deems it worthy.
Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.