It’s been a hectic week but we did get the Wednesday Librarian game in – picking up from where we left them in a grimy hole in the wall bar with their new friends.
The gang didn’t have a name or anything like that, but drinks were consumed before they headed off out. The two kenku accompanying them were a great source of interest as the players worked out how to communicate with creatures who could only mimic other sounds.
They did at least confirm that the apprentices they were looking for worked in The Mortuary which was next door. There seemed to be some mirth around this that wasn’t explained. Half the party were by now drunk – specifically those specialising in lock picking – and so attempts to gain entry took a little longer. This provided a great deal of entertainment for the locals, who seemed unconcerned by all this activity.
Eventually, by various means, they broke in to the locked up building to find that it was in fact a book depository full of jumbled shelves and stacks of old newspapers. A cursed book of tongue twisters left Xander the artificer literally tongue tied until Wilhem lifted the enchantment. It was carefully stowed away as the group found a trapdoor.
This in turn led to a deeper cellar carved into the bedrock that featured a wide set of magical runes, the two apprentices, and the animated objects that they had just been about to make fight. On spotting the group, they directed their creations to attack and tried to make a run for it. The potted shrub was slow but moved to block the group, while the broom flew quickly and aggressively.
And this will be the one where I suddenly remember five minutes in that i haven’t actually exported the expected map and uploaded and configured it and proceed to do this in the background.
Its also the session where the simple “go here, hit this person, and return with the stolen item” mission became a huge and convoluted conspiracy theory necessitating the on-the-fly generation of a dozen semi-fleshed out NPCs, including four high levels wizards and a street gang who the group talked into not trying to mug them and instead took them down the pub.
It’s also the game that was utterly derailed by a wizard with the name Thunderstaff, how he was a big noise in the community, and frankly everyone was desperate to get their hands on him. That’s about as PG as I can make that conversation.
Welcome to a new Eberron campaign where the players are mostly librarians, with a rogue teacher, and a couple of the polycule for good measure. There are two rogues, two gothic elf death priests, and an artificer with amnesia who’s a little bit bemused by it all.
We had great fun. I have no idea where we’re going to end up.
An amazing session of D&D this evening. We’re all quietly buzzed afterward, and a lot of chatter and gossip filled the chat channel after the stream.
The whole thing picked up where we left off last time. We had the group facing off against a pack of werewolves on the way to Thorin’s homeland under the orange light of one of the twelve moons. Battle was soon joined, and at first seemed to be going well. Thorin held the bridge, raging and striking at anything trying to pass. The rest of the group began to tackle anything that got past him. And then Thorin killed the first werewolf and as it fell it reverted to its original form – a dwarf wearing the tattered remains of clothing in Thorin’s clan colours.
You could have heard a pin drop. And in that moment Caeluma and Valenia were bitten. As another werewolf fell and reverted, Caeluma was bitten again, and in the stress of the battle turned into a werewolf too.
Well, if there was stress and shock before, it was doubled now. Thorin was bitten as well and the group tried to switch to non-lethal subduing efforts to end the battle. Kerne used a charm monster spell to stop Caeluma and calm them and eventually the group was able to subdue two of the original werewolves and knock them out.
The group hurriedly retreated into the shelter of the forest away from the moonlight as Caeluma reverted to their true self with little memory of what had happened. As their captives regained consciousness and lucidity in their original dwarvish forms they began to reveal what had happened.
According to their captives, Thorins father was indeed ill. Thorin’s sister had returned to the Hold with deep mining dwarves who brought news of a cure and they were welcomed in. Overnight however, Hold fell to creatures from below, the night full of teeth and eyes, and Thorin’s sister was revealed as a werewolf who began to infect prisoners with her bite, releasing them into the night to spread chaos and madness across the mountains. The Hold now lies full of death and madness, but no one knows the final fate of Thorin’s family.
I’ve just finished part two of a Session Zero D&D game with some colleagues from work and it looks like it’s going to be a very different style of game. Everyone has played to some degree before but not all in an online way so there’s a familiar enough learning curve – but I think it’s going to be an interesting counterpoint to the Sunday game.
In this game the players work for Morgrave University Library. Yep, you guessed it – Librarian-based shenanigans involving the retrieval and acquisition of rare books and the punishment of those stealing or damaging stock are incoming…
We’re calling the adventure: Don’t Annoy The Librarians
The Sunday game saw the DDC completing its trip between Marketplace and the dour fortress city known as Cragwar. It nestles in a cleft in the mountains, dominated by brutal fortifications – most notably the thick North to South running curtain walls that could be seen from miles away.
There was no doubt that they had now crossed the border into Breland. The traces of the Last War were still being patched, and there was a grey dourness quite at odds with the bright streets of Windhaven. Conversations were muted, as were many of the colours in common use in the streets. Still, as the main gateway to Breland, it was also a major trade hub.
Most of the population was a mix of humans and dwarves, with a sprinkling of goliaths and half orcs. Thorin recalled that historic battles had been fought against orc and goliath tribes in the mountains – so their presence even in small numbers bored well for peaceable encounters while they travelled.
Arrangements were made to stable their pack animal and cart for a couple of weeks, and ponies secured for the journey into the mountains. They were warned that the roads to the Amberhammer lands were not as widely travelled and certainly not as well maintained as what they had been using.
Of note as well was the presence outside the gates of a large body of armed soldiers and cavalry under the flag of The Silver Flame. The tension between the City Watch and the church knights seemed ready to boil over, so the DDC kept their head down and made haste to leave.
And so, into the mountains and up into chillier temperatures. The howls of wolves in the distance kept them company through the day and they made good time. As the sun set and the full moons rose they came to a wooden bridge that had been set to replace an older broken span. And that’s when they encountered the werewolves.
Considering werewolves are meant to be all but extinct in Khorvaire, this was a nasty surprise. Baying for blood, the werewolves closed on the group despite Thorin’s attempt to hold the bridge and the spells deployed to try and drive them away.
I’m still, in some ways, processing the death of Queen Elizabeth and the change that brings to the sensation of what I’m calling the touchstones of normality. That said, my work has required me to be involved in making sure that protocols and agreements are rolled out effectively in how my libraries operate and communicate at this time.
There’s nothing outrageous, just a lot of communication and relaying of questions up and down the chain – and thanking everyone working for me for their hard work and resilience during some fast-changing times.
That’s partly why today I herded the polycule all into one place so we could just spend some time together at Geek Retreat to chat, gossip, and support each other. One touchstone may have gone, but we have each other and the affirmation of being in each other’s company as another touchstone.
Tomorrow will be a quiet day of recharging batteries and, for me at least, some prepping of options for the D&D game in the evening.
Sunday’s game saw the group on the road in a freshly-bought cart, using dinosaurs as mounts. After an extended journey in the lap of luxury, the minor aches and problems of living rough called for some creative thinking.
First and foremost among that was provisioning, but that was mostly solved with some creative use of the “Create Food and Water” spell, seasoned magically with the aid of a wonderous pouch that magically generates spices and seasonings.
It did lead to the coining of the phrase “holy tofu” to describe the divinely supplied foodstuffs…
Then the practicalities of setting watches meant some opportunities arose both for pranks and some world building.
Late night travellers included one of the steam-driven constructs hauling a merchant caravan owned by goblins, and a cheery wave saw them pass by the camp with no problems. That said, the first evening they were still within settled farmlands rather than the wilds. Travelling further took them past an old battlefield, and into true wilderness.
That’s when the gnoll raiders sprang their trap, and we ended on that cliffhanger.
We had a good transitional session on Sunday with the DDC. There were no battles, but we had a lot of opportunities for people to roleplay gently and develop their characters while they sorted out provisions and transport for the next portion of their journey to Thorin’s homelands. The lightning rail had deposited them at the town of Marketplace, not far from the border to Breland, and the beginning of the road to Cragwar to the South.
Farewells were made to travelling companions – passionately so in Valenia’s case – and tables outside a pub by one of the main market squares became an impromptu staging point for the group. Caeluma had their first chance to really stretch their new wings, and so took to the skies before finding a group of aarakocra merchants to seek their advice on the care and maintenance of wings and feathers. They learned the importance of dustbaths, and were sold some high grade dust for a luxury experience.
Meanwhile, Valenia and Arwan went in search of transport – observing various drovers and cart sellers before settling on one selling a range of draft and riding dinosaurs. The sights and sounds brought back fond memories of the Talenta Plains for Arwan, and it tipped the balance towards buying something called a Wideback with heavy plating on its back and a balled tip to its tail to pull the cart, and some clawfoot mounts for Arwan and Thorin so they could act as outriders.
Thorin, after a few drinks, went wandering looking for books – and after a little effort found that the mysterious lurid novels named after him had made their way here too. He signed a copy for the bookseller, who was a fan, and promised to come back and sign the new ones due for delivery soon.
Caeluma, perhaps unsurprisingly, found a new pet. In this case it was a mechanical mastiff known as an Iron Defender – a twin in design to the one they had fallen head over heels with when first meeting the Dean of the Faculty of Goblin History. He dug deep into his pockets, and secured it for himself, much to the bemusement of the rest of the group.
Kerne sat at the table all the while, with a mug of minted tea, and looked after everyone’s coats while they studied and reviewed their adventures.
Valenia also found a postcard to send home to her parents:
We’ve got a general approach with the D&D game that if someone is unwell or hasn’t the reserves to play that we pause. While we stream and do charity events, it is after all just a fun thing to do rather than a job.
On a purely selfish level, the creative writer in me is a bit relieved this week as I’d been struggling with story beats and potential set pieces for the next section. I’ve at least been able to use this extra time to do some poking around in various wiki sites like https://eberron.fandom.com/wiki/World_of_Eberron and the various books I’ve accumulated.
I almost have a plan. It could always go sideways if (more likely when) the adventurers go off on a tangent, but I believe they’re invested enough in the story to be curious about where their current path takes them. At the moment that path is taking them to Thorin’s home and a mounting tangle of mysteries.
The summons home came from Thorin’s long-lost sister. His father’s axe was delivered in the mail. A paladin-Inquisitor of The Silver Flame tracked him down and started asking veiled questions about his sister, and now there has been an assassination attempt.
Like the group, I can’t wait to find out what happens next – this really is part of the joy of collaborative play.
Despite the best efforts of the rain to knock out our Internet connection we spent this Father’s Day evening back in the world of Eberron for the further adventures of the DDC.
Our last session had seen dreams and prophecy mix with nightmares and a redemptive struggle that ended with Caeluma losing some of their infernal heritage and instead growing feathered wings.
By contrast this week saw a brief couple of hours layover at the Lightning Rail station at Passage, where Valenia got lucky and Thorin was discretely quizzed by an Inquisitor from the Silver Flame about the whereabouts of Thorin’s sister and any recent contacts.
And then the journey continued uneventfully for a couple more days. On the second night, a group of assassins landed on the roof of one of the carriages and made their way in. They began trying to separate the front of the train from the rest of it, and seemed intent on isolating and killing Thorin.
The surprise attack was thwarted by Thorin and Valenia both being light sleepers. Thorin grabbed his axe and charged down the orcs leading the assault, while valenia tackled another and kicked them from the train before they could disconnect the carriages.
The rest of the group was roused by the sounds of conflict, and battle was joined. One of the orc assassins dropped a magical darkness in the train’s corridor and a brief but frenzied exchange of blows followed…