Switching the night we gamed from Tuesday to Friday changed the way the game felt. It felt like a party, not like something in the middle of the week that I enjoy but also have to maneuver my adult life around.
Smoky Night at the Chalk & Wand
The players had a few days to kill until the halfling caravan headed out to study Deadshire, guided by the player-characters. Janaki said something interesting about wanting to explore Big Shire more, get to know the town. They talked to Hugh Briskett, their trusty NPC guide about where tall-folk foreigners could go to sample local culture. Jokes were made about having an authentic halfling experience. He suggested a wizard’s tavern in the River Farthing called the Chalk and Wand. The C&W has cool slate walls for drawing arcane theorems in chalk, hookahs in the middle of every table for smoking fine halfling weed and lots of wizards on sabbatical, who have come to Big Shire to chill out.
The players (two drow and a quaggoth) cloaked up and took a table. They overheard a wizard proving to his comrades that the underdark was in fact Hell itself. A skill roll later, Fal’ethon (Drow/Rogue/Scholar) had proven that the Underdark was in fact only an underground set of caverns. The wizards were excited to meet new folks, sat at their table, re-stocked the table with some Fine Halfling Weed and it was a DC 10 Con check to see if the PC’s could handle their shit.
They couldn’t. I made an impromptu Halfling Weed Failure table. 1-2 Honest, 3-4 Paranoid, 5-6 Stupid Deep. Each player rolled a different effect and it made for a fun night.
Backgrounds are fun. They give the D&D group a different way to connect to the world. It can connect just like their class: Rogue/Criminal, Wizard/Scholar, Cleric/Acolyte or it can play against type in really interesting ways. I’m sold on them. I dig ’em.
The night ended with the players stumbling home in the pre-dawn light, running across the dwarven adventurer in a shirriff’s crow’s cage, the one who had figured out that the thousand years were up and venturing into the underdark was fair game. Both Zuul, the Quaggoth Ranger/ and Saav, the Drow Monk/Acolyte both felt they should free the dwarf, that he was a kindred soul who only wanted to explore (and perhaps loot) a new world. The Quaggoth failed a Strength roll to bend the bars, making lots of noise, so by the time a Fallathon picked the lock a halfling sling-stone was raining down on them, causing damage to Zuul.
They told their guide Hugh to head home and ran like hell to Bil’s place with the sound of shirriff riding dogs barking in the distance. Bil hid them until it was time to leave Big Shire.
Yes, they inspired a group of guild wizards to go looking into the underground world for themselves.
Disintegration of the Halfling Fellowship and the Random Encounter Ghost
Fal’ethon, in an argument with the halfling caravan on its way to Deadshire, showed her drowness. They all freaked out and the total lack of a chain of command showed itself. At the end of the day, only Regina, the leader if the cart drivers sent by Bil, stayed with her posse. They were clearly hardened criminals sent by Bil to oversee his interests. They expressed interest in both Deadshire and heading into the underdark to look over business opportunities.
The game ended with a ghost entering camp on Fal’ethon’s watch. It was a lightly armored human lady with a spike through her torso. After talking to her a bit they found that she was an Ululan mail-carrier who was ambushed by a manticore while she was flying on her giant owl (Janaki and Laura got pretty excited about procuring their own giant owls). They buried her with her armor, sword and ring on her body, marking the grave that was high on a hill. They agreed to deliver her mail in Corvuston, holy city of the Raven Queen.
I love how this group is really interested in exploring and experiencing the surface world. What’s more, the players are enjoying what they are finding, which is fun.
Random Encounter Tables continue to be good fun. Because these characters often travel by night, it makes the encounters quite different. When they met up with a mercenary company, they were on a hilltop, camped for the night. The players got to decide whether or not to engage. With the ghost, they were on a daytime schedule, so the ghost came to them during Fal’ethon’s watch (rolled randomly) and when they agreed to help her out, she felt no need to possess anyone.
So, a little behind-the-screen thinking: I rolled a 10 on the Random Encounter Chart for the Area Around Big Shire, that asked me to roll again on the Random Encounter Chart for the Area Around Corvuston. I rolled a ghost but had no idea the ghost of who or what. I saw that Corvuston also had Ululan Riders, and figured that would make for a solid ghost with nice setting details and motivations. It took me a while to come up with that. I let it stew, asking the players questions about how they set up their watches at night and rolled randomly to see who was on watch when the ghost stumbled in.
Mental note to self: There is a manticore in this area.
I’ll need to make some rules on followers. It seems like a bunch of PC’s have NPC’s who are following them. We have the goblin (tentatively named, Floyd the Biter), the scholar (Yon) and now the dwarf adventurer (Falko) and each aligns pretty well with a PC. When the player is gone, is their follower available to the group? I’m thinking they’d have to ask the player for permission. How do they level? I’m thinkig they gain a level appropriate to their actions, 3 for every 1 the PC gains. You can have 1 follower +1 for every point of Charisma bonus the PC has unless you get the Followers Feat, which will allow for more.
I feel like I missed an opportunity when they left Big Shire. I should have made space for the players to say good-bye to their guide, Hugh and his trusty riding mastiff, Abernathy.
Lots of little details come up about their homes underground. I need to have index cards so the players can write this stuff down.
I need to write up a map of the Underdark, using my Underground Cities and this post to figure out the political situation underground and write up a map of each layer, where the cities are located and maybe think to myself how they relate to the above-ground.