Session Two – Or Ticket To Ride

So we had our second game night yesterday – and despite some tech issues on the voice side for a couple of people we had another successful go at it. My aim as GM this time round is to use this initial simple adventure to get everyone, including myself, used to the rules. I have two people (Lady M and myr s) who haven’t really played much D&D at all, while Mre B, Lady B, and Lord S have played but not in a group with any one else around our virtual table. There’s a lot of adjusting and settling in to do – not least of which is finding the right balance between roleplay and rollplay.

Rollplay is what I’ve started calling those parts of the game that rely more on dice results – things like combat for example – rather than the interaction between characters that allows people to inhabit the fantasy. My aim with this group is to allow it to have as much a say in the direction of the story as possible, with the aim of finding a happy middle ground that satisfies and still challenges each person around the table.

Last night saw the DDC using the tickets bought by the university to travel to Fort Light on the borders of Thrane. Even travelling in relative luxury it was still the best part of the week, and I would have been happy to have the whole session be just them talking nonsense and getting up to hijinx. Unfortunately we had enough voice disruptions due to network bandwidth somewhere that the flow didn’t really get started – so I moved the action along.

As they were travelling through civilised lands there wasn’t any form of banditry or disruption to the service on this occasion – indeed the biggest issues was that of characters who had never had gold before not being sure what the trade up values from copper and silver were for working out their change for bar drinks and meals. The journey across the border from Aundair did at least give me a chance to depict some of the lasting scars of magical conflict on the land, and set the stage for the cultural change as they moved into a theocratic nation.

Some quick bargaining by Alfonso got them a cheap ride to the village described by their patron, and they were soon able to locate one of the shepherds who had found the opening in the hill. With his fresh impressions and extra details in their minds, they had no difficulty finding the way in the morning – “past the blasted oak, through the gate, follow the path and sheep droppings to the top of the ridge and the opening will be below you on the other side where the landslip has left it bare.”

They were expecting a cave, but instead found an enormous hall, wet and cold with fungus and mould. A ramp led down to the floor below, and bodies could be seen between two enormous pillars. A forest of man-tall mushrooms was clustered near a hole in the ground below nearer the back but there was no sign of anything immediately dangerous.

The first body proved to be that of the missing shepherd, with his dog nearby, but as the DDC moved to investigate the second, they grew near enough the mushrooms to trigger a wailing shriek from them that roused skeletal human warriors in archaic armour to move to attack them. Nearer the back of the room, a fungal-covered orc zombie warrior in similarly outdated armour pulled itself out of the soil and began to advance as well.

The fight initially did not go well as the party was scattered, and Kerne the dragonborn sorceror and Caeluma the tiefling cleric were nearly pulled down straight away. It was only Briar’s quick thinking as a druid that turned the tide with a healing word and an entangle spell to buy them some time. Valenia and Alfonso managed to damage some of the skeletons, but Kerne was able to melt one and badly cripple another with an acidic dragonbreath exhalation.

At which point, as a cliffhanger, we paused the game.

So – we’re off to a start, and we’ll see where it takes us from here. I seem so far to be getting the balance right – in as much as there is terror and uncertainty but barring anything outrageous the DDC should be able to pull through without major harm.

The Witch Is Dead

A colleague and fellow geek introduced me to a new game just before Christmas, and to ring in the new year for our Monday group I decided to playtest it. Admittedly this was because half our players were still scattered around the globe, or attending to a number of emergencies. So with two players in attendance, I introduced them to “The Witch Is Dead”

Now, the rules for this roleplay game are simple. So simple, that this picture is the entire rules and scenario:

The Witch Is Dead Rules
Click to Embiggen

Looks simple, doesn’t it? Go on, have a game with some friends; grab a ten sided die, or jury rig some mechanism for generating  a number between 1 and 10; now try playing. Oh, anyone who isn’t the same species as another needs to work out how to communicate. 
I can’t wait to hear your stories.

So, anyway, last night the players rolled a rat and a spider, with the powers of confuse/distract and conjure dinner accordingly. With their witch dead, they worked out they weren’t about to eat each other, and that the rat moved fastest. A trail of blood led to a path, so it all seemed simple.

The rat carried the spider on its back down the path to the nearest village where many rough looking humans were milling about under strands of coloured cloth between buildings. After a few false starts to get up on a roof, the players realised I was badly describing bunting and a village fair. 

This was, to be fair, entirely deliberate on my part as the sort-of fluffy woodland creatures couldn’t read, and had no understanding of what they were seeing. 

After dodging dive-bombing pigeons, summoning a large dinner to attract said pigeons, and casting a distraction on the humans wondering why food was falling out of the sky, the animals left a small riot breaking out, which drew the attention of the guards. Meanwhile the rat and the spider kept crisscrossing the street on the bunting.

 Several false starts later, they identified a large building with noisy drinking people in it as the location of the cowardly witchhunter, and found the kitchen doors ajar. A number of stealthy maneuvers later, and the navigation of stairs and closed doors achieved, they snuck into the room where the witchhunter was drunkenly disrobing and cleaning his axe while trying to eat dinner.

We may have been drinking a bit by this point.

What followed was the application of several confusion charms, the summoning of multiple dinners, and some desperate lunges. The result was a broken mirror, gravy everywhere, an axe toppled on the floor, a knife stuck in the wall and an unconscious witchhunter who had knocked himself out on the bedpost.

Some more shenanigans to maneuver the knife were required to finally slay the foul human, and then the attempts to remove the eyes and transport them to the witch began.

Dearie, dearie me…

You’ve not lived until you’ve heard otherwise sane people describe how their spider might remove an eyeball, or have a debate about how intact the eyes needed to be.

I won’t tell you how the rat transported them, or the spider retrieved them (this is a game of imagination after all), but they managed to complete the task within the allotted session time.

Your turn