After all of the endless whining about "losing my smile" that I posted last week, I stumbled across an interesting dungeon online (which shall remain nameless for now), reskinned it, and managed to find some enthusiasm again for this week's session of the Demon Verge campaign. We were slightly short-handed this time, with my brother (Chris V.) unexpectedly finding himself unable to make it to the session, but bravely soldiered on.
The participants were:
Aelaran the Resilient (male cleric), played by Bret
Cadie Stone-Spar (female dwarf), played by Jaime
Garen-Gen (male halfling), played by Dan
Magda the Witch (female magic-user), played by Chris H.
plus their retainers: Kharain, Worford, Ralan the elf, and Mordal the dwarf
The session consisted almost entirely of what many might consider "downtime". We started off by determining which of the Company of the Closed Fist's retainers would be willing to continue working with the party, especially after the terrifying encounter with the green dragon last session. For the first time, I actually adjudicated this properly, by rolling for retainer morale and taking Charisma scores into account. Unfortunately, Aelaran, who is lacking in that department, had hired many of the retainers. However, the dice were in the Company's favor, and all of their hirelings save Bardoon agreed to remain in their employ. (Bardoon, a man fond of referring to himself in the third person, swore never to work for the Company again, particularly after his courage was called into question by Garen-Gen.)
Magda managed to determine that a strange suit of leathern hide armor recovered several sessions ago was magical in nature. As it was originally worn by a hulking, lumpen demi-man of some sort, Garen-Gen planned to have it altered to fit his diminutive dimensions, but found (to his terror) that it molded itself to his frame when he put it on. He was briefly chased about camp by a cleaver-wielding Company physick eager to cut it away, but this scare was mercifully short-lived.
The Company then elected to bring their captive, the young magician called Galtin Vauk, before their sometime benefactor Arjon Tenpher, the acting regent of the city of D'Ansor. The bulk of the session was taken up with roleplaying the scene, with plenty of arguing amongst Galtin, Arjon, and the cleric Aelaran. Though he apparently wanted to take the necromancer's apprentice into his custody, in the end, Arjon stated that he was unconvinced that Galtin's cabal, the Brotherhood of the Broken Crescent, posed as great a threat to D'Ansor as the Company believed, and declined to provide them with more armed assistance (since his two of his personal guard had earlier met their doom in the Company's care). Aelaran expressed his disappointment in no uncertain terms. Ultimately, the party decided to investigate a rumor Arjon relayed to them, about a wizard's tower that was apparently recently toppled. Galtin also managed to secure an oath from Aelaran that the Company would spare his life if he aided them.
After securing the services of another retainer, a tough warrior woman named Kharain (who provided more information regarding the bandits that the party has heard so much about), the Company set out for the ruins of Ebler's Tower. The place the Company sought was four days' travel to the southwest. The journey was largely without incident -- the party did attract the interest of a band of goblins, but the humanoids were unable to surprise the group and were dissuaded by their numbers. At this point, Chris H. (the player of Magda the Witch) had to drop out early, so I decided to wrap up the session by saying that the Company of the Closed Fist had sighted the ruins of the Tower in the distance.
I really enjoyed myself this session. It was devoid of combat and of dungeon-crawling, though there were plenty of dice rolls in the form of morale checks, reaction rolls, and overland travel. I think a big part of DMing, at least for me, is entertaining one's self. For whatever reason, my typical reluctance to cut loose and get into character was largely absent that night, and I had a great time playing Galtin Vauk, the arrogant teenaged magic-user the players took captive last session, and Arjon Tenpher, the rather dismissive local regent. I will admit that most of my interactions were limited to one or two of the PCs, however, which is another thing I'll have to work on remedying in future sessions.