D&D: the Summer Campaign

Before the Mexican escapade, I was effectively drafted into running a game of the roleplaying variety over the summer for my friends formerly of high school. I'd loved to have done this a year ago, especially now that I'm on a schedule: in September I'm leaving to Ashland for four years (with frequent returns as car access permits).

Monday was our first tentative session, and all in all it went pretty well.

Of the five people playing (plus me DMing), there's two who have actually played the game before (Samantha and James, the latter being the one who suggested it in the first place, the former having only ever played with the Nightmare Group from Hell). The rest have, at most, extensive experience with Final Fantasy games (Jill and a man we shall call Mr. X), or no clue at all what is happening (Danielle).

Samantha very enthusiastically helped Jill and Danielle make characters, for which I am very grateful. In retrospect, having some stock pre-gens would've been easier, though not as satisfying to use for what will become a long campaign.

Our dramatis personae as they stand:

Blanca (Jill) - A ranger of indeterminate gender. In further retrospect, when she was sitting next to me with nothing to do, I should've hashed out character background and other traits with her, but I am not very good at this.

Nameless and Vaguely Bruce Willis-like (Danielle) - A female fighter. In submission to Danielle and Samantha's ursophilia I let her have a brown bear as a mount. I should probably nerf its hit-dice down to four to bring it closer in power to a heavy warhorse.

Nameless (Samantha) - Samantha's character is a female druid who's been out in the woods so long she doesn't have a name anymore. Only having a dog for an animal companion (I think we got the HD rules for animal companions wrong, I'll fix that), and seeing as Danielle got a bear (which she prompted, anyway! It's all her fault! Her fault!) she got a moose as a mount.

Sing Song John (James) - Ye spoony bard (male). We spent a few minutes going through bardic names (Billie Holiday? Freddie Mercury? Hendrix?) before he settled on that one.

and finally...
Johnny Goodboy Dredd (Mr. X) - If Jack Chick was a paladin.

And yes, they all ended up being human (despite Samantha's distate for humans. "They're just so average")

Making characters in 3rd Edition with new players led to some revelations about 4th Edition. In particular, the Coolness Factor.

On the (excessively comprehensive) character sheet I printed out, there's a space up by class/level for ECL (effective class level). Twice I was asked about this, twice I answered "It's for if you're playing something like, say, a dragon" and twice I got the response "Hot damn, I want to play a dragon!"

(In even more retrospect, I should've brought my Savage Species book so they could.)

This made me realize the simple genius of putting dragonkin and tieflings as core races in 4th Edition (though I think the artist's conception leaves a bit to be desired, but that's aside the point). When given the option of a dragon person or a devil that isn't forced to be evil, how many people are going to pick a magical midget (gnomes)?

After characters were made, I realized that dang it, there's two hours left and they expect me to do something.

I gave a very rickety background to the world I'd made (ruins left by titans, generic fantasy races, magical tyrant on floating island showed up and rules everybody yes I stole that from Chrono Trigger shut up) and showed them a map of the world ("There's a claw-shaped peninsula." "Yeah, it's called Crab Claw Peninsula." "It's got a city named Dungeness." "Yes I know shut up.") and tossed them in the village of Rosmin ("It's like any fishing town in Newfoundland." "Newfinlund." "Whatever.") where a vampire had taken the mayor's daughter hostage in a crypt.

Without further ado from the players ("Let's dungeon-crawl this shit!") they prepared themselves ("We go to the market and get stakes." "Are you buying them or pulling them out of people's tents?" "Hmmm...") and went forth.

I discovered that irrelevant in-jokes can, in an impromptu game, become canon (we have this thing about Orson Welles, and I had the Wells family as the owners of the crypt).

Finding the vampire in Patriarch Orson's hidden burial chamber (reveled by a French fry-like switch in his statue's beard), menacing the mayor's daughter with a dagger, Sing Song John tried to negotiate with the vampire. This was interrupted after his demand for a cart full of gold by the Paladin Dredd's trident.

This is when I found out that vargouilles are a lot of fun to throw at people.

"Your trident strikes him square in the back, toppling him over..."
"And his head flies off."
"Just a minute, call on my cell."

With a shrieking bat-winged head flying around the room, combat ensued in ernest. The paladin, without his trident, grappled the vargouille. This did not stop other characters from assaulting it with bladed and blunt instruments. This would've been fine, except that the greataxe-wielding fighter and gauntlet-fisted bard both rolled natural 1s, breaking and nearly severing our poor paladin's arm. After a healing spell from the druid, he dashed the head against the bas relief of the tomb.

The corpse of Patriarch Orson did not give up its fine champagne to the bard's prying. No respect for the dead. They did, however, get a basketball-sized black pearl from the mayor ("From the biggest clam we ever dug. We lost two men to that thing.") that sold for a neat 500 gold.

All in all, fun and a success for everyone. Which means I have to come up with something for them to do next time. Dang it.

1 responses:

Orson Welles Vargouille. Awwwww yeah!

If this was half as fun to play as it was to read, it was pretty damn fun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 8:34:00 AM PDT  

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