This was my first "in public" open table, in the main hallway in front of the XenGamez shop at Kenmore Village shopping center.
I had four complete new comers to RPG and Tara, an experienced D&D player. There were also several onlookers and potential players.
Nick played Bob (Hill Dwarf, Fighter, Entertainer, CN)
Max played Bran Hornraven (Human, Cleric, Soldier, LN)
Chris played Brandon Bonebreaker (Human, Fighter, Soldier, CG)
Tristan played Elliot Jones (Wood Elf, Ranger, Outlander, N)
Tara the Younger played Blake Riverwood (Hill Dwarf, Rogue, Sage, CG)
The players were given pregens and filled in alignment and name. We left traits, ideals etc. blank for now. I spent about 20 minutes on introductions and brief explanations on how play works and dice are used. Further rules explanations occurred as we played and everyone seemed to grasp and take on board everything first time around.
Next I introduced the players to the list of rumours that they had picked up on:
1. We still have the strange spike in attacks on lumber folk in the south of Polemar.
2. This rumour is mostly known to the elves, poor downtrodden sods. The Lizardfolk are still raiding elf encampments, and stealing away elves as food.
3. A dwarvish cart carrying precious metals and iron has gone missing between the tunnel path and Polemar.
4. An older, refined gentleman is looking for adventurers to go on a paid mission to deliver a shipment of food to some monsters.
5. A crystal palace floating in the clouds has been seen above Mt Surik in the north.
6. Lord Binare has issued a reward of 15sp to anyone who turns in the two elvish terrorists who are working with The Blue Dragon Auros.
After some chat the group decide to head toward Druidstone, and investigate #2 and maybe #6. #4 seemed a bit to shoddy to consider. Maybe #1 would also come into play since they would be heading south.
The group started travelling at 9am. A bit after 10am they were crossing into hex G8, following the road to Druidstone, a meandering cart path that is widened a little and well travelled, when my first random encounter came into play. I rolled up a giant spider. I quickly decided there would be one near the path, a new comer to a colony of 10 that have nests scattered back into the deeper woods. They have web strung across trees as a roadway and partial trap, and tunnels with lids like trapdoor spiders, but they don't pounce.
The players notice a web strand near the road. They attempt some nature checks to know what they are dealing with but fail and become convinced they are dealing with giant flying spiders. They consider going of the path in the other direction to the web and then noticed a trap door lid move (the spider near the road).
A quick explanation of initiative and combat rounds is then followed by Brandon Bonebreaker picking up a fist sized rock and throwing it at the trap door. Bob, Bran Hornraven and Elliot Jones all readied attacks for when the spider jumped out of its hole, Bob moving right up close to use his battleaxe. The spider leapt to attack Bob before Blake Riverwood had a shot with a bow.
Nick's first ever RPG dice roll was a 1. The axe missed with a wild swing and struck the trap door lid. Arrows struck home and then Bob was bitten. Fortunately Bob's dwarvish resistance to poison save the day. Then Blake's arrow struck home. A second round of combat saw the spider dispatched before it could attack and there was much rejoicing! Each player got to add 40xp to their raw experience total (see my xp variant rules ).
The players then used 1 hour for a short rest, so Nick could naturally heal Bob. Bran Hornraven experimented with taking poison from the dead spider. Elliot Jones scouted the spider lairs in the wood and counted 10 possible spider holes. Brandon Bonebreaker helped Blake Riverwood climb down the hole to investigate. There was a deer part way down, a recent catch, and a very decayed elf a bit further down with a pouch of silver (30sp) and a dagger. Then Blake noticed another spider may be hiding under a ledge a bit further down. Blake climbed back out and handed out silver in equal amounts. Then Brandon threw a torch down the hole to light up what was at the bottom. There was a brief view of some metal glints in the chamber at the bottom, some 30 feet bellow but then a second spider began running up the hole.
They had been here for a while and the other spiders had started to notice them, so I had the second one coming up the tube and three more approaching by the trees, each a turn behind the other. This was a potentially deadly situation for the team.
Blake Riverwood threw the trap door shut, dragged the dead spider body onto it and stood on it as well. The spider tried shoving the weight off but failed.
There were attempts at using intimidate to scare the other approaching spiders, waving around legs ripped off the dead spider, but they did little more than startle the spiders.
One had started climbing down a fairly thin tree so Bob took a swing and cleaved the tree with his battle axe. With the axe gash and the weight of the spider the tree fell, falling on and pinning the spider. The pinned spider was dispatched before it could clamber out from under the trunk.
Two other spiders attack with web, constraining Blake to the top of the spider hole. Bran Hornraven is bitten and ends up with only 1hp left, so he uses a cure wounds spell on himself as his next action.
Bob succeeded on a fairly difficult acrobatics check to climb the tree where a spider was approaching by web, and chop the branch the web was attached to causing the spider to fall back. Blake lit a flask of oil and threw it at the tree where the spider had fallen and the tree burst into flame fairly quickly.
The spiders reacted by scattering. Brandon Bonebreaker chased one south as it ran along the road. This became an extended chase. The one that had fallen, however, ran at Blake Riverwood who was still standing on the trap door, holding another spider at bay. Bran Hornraven and Elliot Jones had been fronting up against some of the other spiders and now turned back toward Blake's position. At this point Bob jumped out of the tree to make an axe attack on the onrushing spider, and landed on its back.
This is where I find 5th Ed D&D comes into its own with the ease of allowing complex and unusual situations. The spider wanted to throw Bob off. Bob didn't want to get off but to press the advantage of already having the axe stuck in the spiders thorax carapace. So some struggle checks followed. The spider ran off with Bob aboard heading back to the colony around the burning trees (now 3 are alight). Bran Hornraven and Elliot Jones give chase. Blake continues to stand on the trapdoor, wondering how to get off safely.
Bob attempts to either kill the spider or control its motion, and succeeds in forcing it to stumble of course to the right in a gradual ark. Bran Hornraven and Elliot Jones use animal handling checks to try and coral the spider and slow it down. At this point Nick expresses an interest in trying to take control of the spider, as if it where a wild horse. The others think this is a peachy keen idea.
After several rounds they manage to wrangle the spider. I consider it possible to break in, but it will always be running on instinct to catch prey, eat food, so it will be much harder to keep and use than a horse, which is after all a herbivore.
Meanwhile Brandon Bonebreaker has given up the chase as the spider manages to pull away. Then he realises how far from the rest of the group he is and has a creepy few moments making his way back toward the fire and smoke hoping he hasn't been cut off by other spiders. Fortunately he hasn't.
Blake Riverwood, meantime has decided to pour his remaining oil flask into the webbing all around the trap door, set it alight and jump. This results in the spider throwing the trap door open just in time to be set alight and to fall back down the funnel in a ball of flame.
Five trees in total catch fire but then begin to burn down.
So the group set up a camp to rest and heal. Bob cuts down some saplings and builds a corral around the currently restrained spider, closing the saplings together at the top above the spider. He names the spider Steve and sets about trying to think of ways to apply tack and harness and saddle. They as a group consider strapping a shield on it as some armour. Elliot Jones hunts down some rabbits and squirrels for food and they give one to the spider which is a bit of a small morsel for it.
Once the heat and smoke dies down Blake Riverwood climbs down the hole again. A failed check while climbing leads to a fall onto the crispy spider at the bottom. There Blake finds 30gp. Blake reports to the group that there is no treasure down there, just some shiny rocks. He sees some tunnels leading off and decides its best to leave. They close and block the trap door again and then keep watches through the night. Blake ties a bell with some string to the spider so that if it does escape they can track it by sound.
During the watches of the night it clouds over (weather event) and Elliot Jones stares down a giant owl (random encounter) that flies off to look for easier prey.
The next day they head off, Bob riding on Steve with a makeshift harness. Steve has a tendency to wander off road or try to climb trees which requires some rough handling and slows progress a little. By afternoon they are approaching the farmland on the outskirts of Druidstone when they are waylaid by a bunch of 4 elves. The leader calls out “stand and deliver!”.
What follows is some interesting tension. The elves are a little intimidated by Steve. The players don't really want to be robbed. They try interesting the eleves in helping them find the two elves that Lord Binare is seeking, maybe sharing the reward? The elf leader Lathor laughs this off.
“Binare is just a bigot.” says Lathor.
Bran Hornraven decides maybe they can persuade the elves to help with the problem the woodcutters are facing south of Polamar and offers the elves a silver piece each as a friendly gesture. This lowers tension and Lothar invites the group to come to their hamlet and discuss things further.
At the hamlet of about 50 elves they feast and Lothar explains that they believe Binare is after elves who the elvish locals consider to be heroes. They have helped to rescue elves from lizardfolk and the lizardfolk have certainly become a problem recently. Lothar thinks the lizardfolk have been having a conflict with Black Dragon Bileous' bullywug minions.
The elves consider the problem of how to manage Steve and build a portable coral for Bob, show the group how to milk a small amount of poison each day that can be used on weapons and may remain potent for up to 4 weeks. They also suggest the spiders web can be harvested to make a few feet of spider silk cloth each month.
The next day seven elves go with the players back to Polemar where they negotiate with the mayor to help with the problems facing the woodcutters for some pay. Bob sells some spider poison and the group makes a bit of a name for themselves having a harnessed giant spider in town.
By the end of the session the players each had 20xp converted to “gained” and 225xp sitting in “raw”. Everyone seems to have had a great time and I'm looking forward to the next session on the Saturday, 11th of march.
And here is the write up for session 4.
- [+] Dice rolls
As a consequence of the encounter with the spiders I sat down at home and played out the combat a few times, trying different tactics for the spiders. I hadn't realised, but do now, that their big strength lies in using their web action as often as possible. Disable players so they cannot act as they struggle to release themselves. Then attack anyone free with bites while the web recharges. I didn't use that so much in the actual encounter and its probably good that I didn't as we might have seen a few new characters being hastily generated.
Note for next game: have at least six spare pregen characters on hand for each session.
The idea of getting the elves to help in Polemar changes a few of the adventure hooks but creates some interesting new opportunities that I will flesh out before the next session.
Handling the spider as a mount is going to be interesting. Its thought processes are generally "burrow", "lay web paths", "catch food", "eat food", "avoid hurty things". Nick's character has become a "hurty thing" but also a food source. Every now and then I think there will have to be some checks to avoid Steve webbing and eating someone or suddenly climbing a building and webbing the roof tops.
It also looks like we might be good to go for a second DM. My friend Andras has raised his hand but hasn't got lots of time free for set up, so I will do the preliminary design for his 100mile region. I'm thinking of having a halfling country occupy a big chunk of it. And a few more dragons.
Might not be ready with the second area till April.
- [+] Dice rolls
There was sooo much more in there than I remember during the playthrough. Heaps to keep in mind for next round though. Gotta get Steve to do some more killings though!
Thanks for running it Danny, it was heaps of fun!
- [+] Dice rolls
- Welcome. I'm hanging out for the next play.
- [+] Dice rolls
I'm putting together a gazette of happenings and rumours that will grow as the campaign goes on.
Its first entries will have news of Gudrid's rescue of elves from lizard folk, the formation of the Polemar Foresters (the elves now protecting the woodcutters) and the appearance of a sort of tame giant spider called Steve under the guiding hand of Bob the Dwarf.
Among these things are non-player generated elements such as the floating castle sighting, the missing dwarvish caravan and Lord Binare's reward posting. Each session the players can go over the gazette to get a feel what has been going on and pick up some additional rumours before heading of on whatever adventure they choose.
- [+] Dice rolls
- The Polemar Foresters today started building The Quiet Glen, an elvish rest house and tavern on the southern outskirts of Polemar. They have hired on a couple of halflings from the lands to the west, Ms Milta Thitsow and Master Frep Draywagon. This may become a centre where non-humans to gather.
- [+] Dice rolls
- Chris Kang
- Wait what do you mean you are hanging out?
- [+] Dice rolls