Well, we actually got the new AD&D campaign underway last night. While we did ultimately have the traditional “meeting in the tavern”, I actually directed each of the characters there for reasons that fit their own agendas. Because we only have three players (plus me as DM), each player is currently controlling two characters. The party make up is:
- Jaimie (mrjaimie)
- Fighter: An artistocratic nobleman wanna-be desperate to curry favour with the local ruling class. Has a bit of a Sean-Connery-with-a-mouth-full-of-marbles speach pattern, considers himself the head of the party, and is prone to barking out instructions to the other party members, addressing them by their profession rather than their name.
- Duskblade (fighter/mage hybrid from PHB2): A cryptic misfit elf who is searching for some reason to be good, but doesn’t quite feel it; seems a bit shifty.
- Druid: Burned out stoner tree-hugger. Cross between Donald Sutherland in Kelly’s Heros and Tommy Chong. Has a pet wolf named “Moriarty” who can assist him in combat.
- Thief: Eager, greedy, and utterly green half-elf. Adventuring for the money, wants to prove himself, shows signs of severe ADD. Alignment “chaotic everywhere”. Bit of a coward.
- Dave (surrdave)
- Priest: Human Cleric who fancies himself a bit of a crusader, wants to do good in the world. Hasn’t quite figured out how the world works; seems to be very trusting of the Fighter, who he has just met.
- Mage: Human Female Sorcerer. Hasn’t yet had much opportunity to show her personality, though Dave assures me he has a character concept in mind.
(I apologize for not using the character names in this account, but I’ve not learned them all to memory yet):
The fighter was hoping to ingratiate himself with the local Duke who rules the town and district of Kelvin (I’m still using the old Karameikos maps from waybackwhen, because I like them and the concept of the Kingdom), so he arranged a meeting with the Lord Chamberlain (a character who bears no small resemblance to Alan Rickman), hoping he might find a way to latch onto the court.
J: I was hoping I might find some way I could be of service.
LC: How are you with a shovel?
J: Excuse me?
LC: The stables are filthy.
J: Um, well, I’m really more of a warrior.
The Lord Chamberlain suggests he might be useful as a guard, which our would-be noble chafes at. He then suggets that he might have a task that a “ambitious young man such as yourself” might undertake. In the mining town of Threshold, in the mountains to the northwest, there have been reports of some sort of sickness or plague. “Go and gather a small group to look into it, and let me know what you find.”
With some reservations, our hero sets out to do just this, not overhearing the LC’s sotto voce remark to himself as he leaves: “God, I love men like him. You don’t have to pay them.”
Each of the characters, searching for whatever motivates them, eventually winds up at the Shady Dragon Inn, where the fighter announces he’s trying to assemble a party, and our group collects around him. Having detailed the mission, everyone agrees to set out in the morning. Their trip is uneventful — too uneventful…they pass no one on the road between Kelvin and Threshold over the course of the six-day journey. The finally reach the town, and find the Mayor, who fills them in on the sickness that has struck the town. It appears that something has (magically?) contaminated the drinking water. Many among the elderly and children have died, and almost everyone is afflicted. Worse, a large number of the healthy and able-bodied from the mines have ceased coming home, and a search party sent to check on them did not return. The Mayor implores our heroes to check out the missing miners, so they set off to the mine site, about a mile north of town.
Entering the mine, they find a body underneath an overturned mine cart. Disturbing the cart snaps a line which brings a thunderstone down, deafening the priest and causing a huge ruckus. The priest examines the body, and determines that the dead man has been dead for at least 2 weeks, and while he was infected with the same plague afflicting the town, determines that the proximate cause of death was a sudden case of crossbow bolts.
The party proceeded down the short hallway to the west, which ended at an unlocked door. The thief checked it for traps, then, finding none, opened it and looked inside. Four crossbow bolts whiz by, all missing, and he presses himself against the wall outside the door and calls back. The next round, he realizes that he’s suddenly alone at the door, having failed to fall back and is dropped by a bolt. The druid runs up and uses an Obscuring Mist spell to provide cover, and the fighter drags him back to the end of the hallway, where the priest heals him.
D: Where’d you guys go??
J: I *said* to form a defensive perimeter.
D: I don’t know what that means! Why do you have to use big words? If you wanted to run away, you could have just said “run away”
Me (as DM): “Run Away” doesn’t sound very heroic. I think he prefers “Strategic Withdrawal”.
The party is not pursued, so they regroup and decide that their best course of action is to put the druid and the duskblade into the cart, along with the wolf, and for the fighter and priest to then push-charge it into the room. They proceed to do this,and barged in on four kobolds (not, however, kobold, who is one of a kind, I’m sure) barricaded behind overturned tables. One of them managed to hit the druid for a full 8 points of damage with a crossbow before the whole party had spilled in and initiative was rolled.
The druid hopped down out of the cart in order to be behind the overturned tables, and turns to shoot the nearest kobold, who is in an adjacent square. This leads to perhaps the funniest (and, for the druid, the most embarrassing) moment of the night:
D: I shoot the kobold next to me.
Me: Er, he’s in an adjacent square.
D: I know.
Me: He’ll get an attack of opportunity.
D: Not if he’s using a crossbow.
Me: He can make an unarmed attack.
D: Well, true. Ok, go ahead.
Me: (Rolls a natural 20; fails to crit. Arbitrarily decides the kobold will do 1d3 damage for a punch) Take 1 point of damage.
D: I drop. (at 0 hp, he is incapacitated, but not unconscious)
D: I cast a cure on myself
Me: He’ll get another attack of opportunity. (rolls….a 19). Take 3 points of damage.
D: (falls over, unconscious).
And so Don becomes the first character I can recall to be subdued by a kobold in unarmed combat.
Luckily, the party dispatches the kobolds pretty quickly, heals the druid, and gathers their loot, including an iron key which opens the door to the north, which leads to a storeroom, where five more kobolds were hiding behind a half-dozen barrels. They entered this room a bit more bravely, knowing better what they were up against, and promptly had several large sacks of flour dropped from the ceiling in front of them, sending up a big cloud of powder that obscured their vision. (Kobolds aren’t the most formidable combat opponents, but if you play them right they can be a wily adversaries. This is the mistake most DMs make when using them, I think, and why they therefore get little respect.)
The fighter-oriented characters (and the thief) rushed up to engage the kobolds, leaving the druid standing back as a rear guard. This led to the druid cementing the Having A Bad Day award for the session, as he was attacked two rounds later by a large furry animal, which bit him hard on the back of the thigh and clamped down.
Me: It’s about five feet long, and looks a bit like a huge ferret.
Dave: What is it, some kind of dire weasel?
Me: (holding up the module page) As a matter of fact.
Dave: You’re kidding me??
Me: I didn’t write this!
Don: Get it off me! Get it off me!
The dire weasel has a special attack where, once it’s bitten you, it can clamp on and do a blood drain. This makes it much easier to hit, but allows it to automatically do 2d4 CON damage every round. Worse, the druid had no melee weapon and no way to easily attack the animal behind it with his bow. The wolf rushed over to help his master, but based on his attack rolls felt the best way to deal with the foe was by barking at it. The others rushed over to assist and they managed to kill the creature, but the druid was reduced to 1 Con. At this point, it was after 11, so we broke for the night.
I had forgotten how much fun it is to be 1st level. We’ve been playing mid-high level characters for so long, it was a blast to return to the days when every fight is a scrap, because you are so small and inexperienced and don’t yet have all the resources of an experienced character at your disposal. Best yet, all the characters are *characters*, though Jaimie has expressed to me concern that the party lacks a good straight man to be the real leader. As the DM, I think this is just fine, because the RP possibilities are endless.
I’m looking forward to next week’s session.