Friday, August 23, 2013

The Demon Verge: Session 2

The first session of the Demon Verge campaign must not have been too awful, because everybody returned for the second, to wit:

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.
Ondola the Blunt (female fighter), played by Chris V.
plus their retainers: Wart, Otto, and Bardoon

Last session, the player characters took a staircase to the second level of an abandoned outpost and started spiking the sliding door that led out of its first room. This alerted goons on both the second and the first floors (the latter of which they had not cleared) to their presence. Though they got out mostly intact (more on that in a bit), it was a lot of fun watching the players figure out how to deal with the orcs and goblins that started arriving in waves from both the stairwell and the doorway, potentially leaving them with no exit.

I'm happy to say that using a relatively small dungeon that I mapped and keyed myself has contributed greatly to my own confidence in running a D&D session. It helped me have a better idea of how things interconnect and interrelate. Knowing your dungeon well enough to have its various denizens react appropriately when adventurers start stomping around and killing their buddies is not only realistic, it makes the dungeon scarier. It allowed me to avoid the unfortunate syndrome where monsters sit and patiently wait to be killed, ignoring the ruckus that the PCs are raising.

Also, one of the orcs scored a natural 20 on my brother's fighter, Ondola the Blunt, and reduced her well below 0 hit points, which let me try out my house rules on both critical hits and mortally wounded characters. (I use the term "house rules" loosely here -- I have lifted these rules wholesale from Adventurer Conqueror King.) After a couple of die rolls it ended up that Ondola was unconscious and had lost an arm. This did deflate the session for a bit, and my brother elected to drop out of the game for the night. I felt kind of bad about this, to be honest -- I wondered if it wouldn't have been better for me to simply declare the character dead -- but it looks like my brother is going to soldier on with his one-armed fighter for at least a little while.

The PCs managed to escape the dungeon, though they were pursued and had to bluff their way out. Also, an orc that Aelaran the cleric had managed to talk into aiding the party was slain by an overzealous guardsman when they returned to town. (That guardsman has since been charmed into their service.) Sadly, most of their retainers elected to retire with the treasure they'd won. I did squeeze in some (rather awkward) roleplaying with the local nobility, which I think was nice for a change.

Next week, the players are planning on clearing out the rest of the Falcon Hall, and have procured large amounts of oil, new men-at-arms, and five sheep to that end. This can only end well.

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