Tuesday, September 25, 2012

D&D Next Campaign Journal: First Four Sessions

The past month, I have been running a D&D Next  campaign via Google+ Hangouts with a variety of friends. I am  thrilled with what I have seen out of the playtest rules so far and expect them to get even better as the process continues.

An important aspect of the rules is that it feels like D&D to me without many of the warts that plague all the other editions I have played (My D&D history thumbnail view: D&D Basic and Expert (Moldvay-style), AD&D 1st and 2nd editions, D&D 3.x, Castles and Crusades, D&D 4e, and back to C&C again), but the most important aspect of the rules is that they are FUN! I am really enjoying the options and simplicity of the rules and how they flow in play. I am DMing and playing Corso Shieldhill, halfling cleric of Arvoreen and have had no problem doing both. 

In this post I am publishing my campaign journal as a window into this incredibly fun experience. I hope you enjoy the story as much as we enjoyed creating it. 

D&D Next Playtest Campaign Journal:
Reclaiming Blingdenstone
A Society for the Advancement of the Adventuring Arts Campaign
A Forgotten Realms Adventure


Roster: I'alia: Elven Warlock
            Merlock: Human Fighter/Bounty Hunter
            Mordane: Human Cleric of Lathander

Newly recruited into SofAAA, the companions are sent into the Underdark to aid the svirfneblin reclaim their lost city: Blingdenstone. After a long and uneventful journey through the dark wilds of the Underdark, the party along with their deep gnome guide arrive in the deep gnome city. They made their way through the defensive maze and emerged into the city. The svirfneblin occupied portions of the city are lighted by violet gems embedded in the ceilings. Their first stop is a small trinket shop run by and aged and wizened svirfneblin woman. The weary adventurers humored her and bought a few trinkets. Then they made their way to the city's government center.

There in a squat building, they met Burrow Warden Kargien Dissengulp. He welcomed the SofAAA members and thanked them for coming to help in the deep gnome's recovery efforts. He also asked the party to find the lost crown of the former--and most recent--king of Blingdenstone: King Schnicktick. The adventurers sensed Kargien wanted the crown more for selfish ambition than any other reason. He also offered a bounty on the scalps of the orcs plaguing his people: 10 gp for each scalp, and 250 gp for the leader's scalp.

The adventurers continued their exploration of the city. In one chamber where weary deep gnome guards stood sentry, an group of orcs attacked. The party quickly dispatched the savage creatures but realized how dangerous the city really is.

From there, the group met Jalless the de facto healer of the city. Her infrimary was filled with wounded deep gnomes. It was here that the adventurers first met the gnome sentries, Diss and Gulp. She gladly accepted the party's offer to help her tend to the wounded gnomes, felled by orc attacks and kobold traps. When Jalless discovered that the party was seeking the crown of the former king, she implored them not to give it to Kargien as she does not believe he is worthy to wear it.

From there, the adventurers made their way to the far eastern side of the city. There they found a deep gnome who talked the adventurers into undertaking a mission to the trade city of Mantol-Derith to buy weapons for the deep gnomes to better fight the orcs and buy, therefore free, any deep gnome slaves on sale there. The drow have made it impossible for the deep gnomes to trade anywhere in the Underdark. The party agreed and made the long journey to the city. There they encountered drow, half orc, duergar, illithid, and beholder merchants and secured the needed goods and one deep gnome slave. In the goods the party brought back, was a scrap of a journal. On one side of the page was a journal entry and the other side, in another hand, was a cryptic poem.

Upon the adventurers' return to Blingdenstone, the deep gnomes are ecstatic and enervated by the success of the party's trade mission. The slave they freed was Jalless' beloved, and the pair had a heart-warming reunion.


Roster: I'alia: Elven Warlock
            Merlock: Human Fighter/Bounty Hunter
            Mordane: Human Cleric of Lathander

After a brief rest from their journey to Mantol-Derith, the adventurers began their quest to rid Blingdenstone of the orc threat. In the course of searching for the savage raiders, the adventurers stumbled upon the city's cold forges. The party found the forge rooms occupied by a humanoid race able to meld with stone and calling themselves pechs.

The pechs told the adventurers of the Raging Spirit in the Wounded Cavern. The adventurers' interest was piqued, but they wanted to stay focused on their current mission of stopping the orc raiders. They bid the pechs adieu and made their way further north. They encountered Diss and Gulp. The soldiers guided the adventurers to where the most recent orc incursion was. The party went on from there. Into the dark caverns where the svirfneblin ceiling lights do not shed their light. Under the light of the cleric's divine power, the members of the Society for the Advancement of the Adventuring Arts encountered many orcs patrolling these dark and damp halls. One group they found in an abandoned temple to a deep gnome goddess. The orcs were chipping ruby shards from a shattered altar when the adventurers attacked. The orcs through their rage put up a stiff resistance, but in the end were no match for the combined might of the adventurers.

Not far from that temple chamber, the party stumbled upon the orc base of operations. They found the biggest group of orcs thus far. a titanic battle ensued. The orc leader appeared shortly after the battle began, accompanied by his orog lieutenant. The adventurers took down the raging orcs, and even managed to defeat the orog champion, and just as they were about to fell the orc leader, he gained the upper hand. As Merlock was falling to the cold hard stone of the Underdark floor, he saw two squat figures bound over him, duergar weapons in hand and battle cry upon their lips: "For Blingdenstone!" Diss and Gulp had arrived to save the day (and the adventurers).


Roster: I'alia: Elven Warlock
           Sharlo Orcbane: Elven wizard
           Corso Shieldhall: Lightfoot halfling cleric of Arvoreen

The party awoke in Jalless' infirmary. There they were informed that they had been unconscious for three days. They had indeed been saved by Diss and Gulp and a group of svirfneblin soldiers who, with their shiny new duergar blades were able to drive the orc leader away and drag the heroes back to Blingdenstone.

After recuperating a bit more, the adventurers felt strong enough to continue their work aiding the svirfneblin in the reclaiming of their once proud city. Merlock and Mordane decided they wanted to stay and continue to help Jalless in the infirmary, especially now that her lover had returned. She was grateful for some time off to spend with him as they had been separated for over twenty years.

The trustees in charge of watching over the group sent to Blingdenstone saw this through their crystal balls and decided to teleport two new recruits to the gnome city to aid I'alia in continuing their quest to help the deep gnomes. The elven wizard, Sharlo and the halfling priest, Corso were sent immediately. They appeared before the other adventurers and explained their sudden arrival.  They wanted to make sure the orcs had been permanently run out of Blingdenstone and made their way back to the orc base. It was unoccupied, but they found a few items. One of which was a scrap of the same journal as the piece found on their trip to Manto-Derith. From there, I'alia and the pair decided to continue their quest to find the crown of King Schnicktick. They made their way to the House Center, the site of the forces of Blingdenstone during the drow invasion over 100 years ago. It is here that King Schnicktick's body rests. However, the party was told by more than one deep gnome that the House Center was haunted. A ghost story wasn't enough to keep the brave heroes from finding the truth and the crown of Blingdenstone.

A stone building, once the center of government in Blingdenstone, greeted the party as they entered the massive chamber. They found two entrances and were heading toward one when undead orc zombies shuffled out of the building to attack the adventurers. The party made quick work of the undead and entered the House Center. Inside they found and overcame fire beetles, pit traps, giant centipedes, and more zombies. They also found another scrap of the journal on a svirfneblin corpse.

After an extensive search of the House Center, they found site of King Schnicktick's last stand. His corpse was being used as a footstool for the current king of Blingdenstone, a drow wight. He was flanked by a group of skeletons and zombies, ready to do his bidding. After the adventurers refused to bow before the 'King of Blingdenstone,' he sent his undead to remove the disrespectful offenders. The adventurers defended themselves and the wight threw himself into the battle. After a pitched battle, the holy power of Arvoreen through his disciple, Corso and the combined magical might of the wizard and warlock proved to be too much for the 'King of Blingdenstone.' His evil tortured soul was released to the Demonweb Pits. The adventureres took the crown from atop Schnicktick's brow, a healing draught from around his neck, and a holy symbol of Sunnis from him as well. They paused to catch their breaths in the empty and sad throne room of Blingdenstone.


Roster: I'alia: Elven Warlock
           Sharlo Orcbane: Elven wizard
           Corso Shieldhall: Lightfoot halfling cleric of Arvoreen

After defeating the wight claiming to be the rightful king of Blingdenstone and reclaiming the crown of Schnicktick, the adventurers took a brief rest then made their way out of the House Center. When they emerged, the orc leader and six remaining orcs ambushed them. This time, the party defeated the leader with only one orc making his way back into the Underdark. It seems Blingdenstone is now fully purged of the orcish threat.

From there, the party returned to the infirmary to inform Jalless and Merlock and Mordane of their success in recovering the crown. Jalless once again pled with the adventurers not to turn the crown over to Kargien. They assured they would not--at least not yet. They wanted to take some more time to see if they could find a true heir among the remaining deep gnomes. Merlock and Mordane decided to stay and help Jalless even though the number of wounded was way less than before the orcs had been vanquished.

On their way to see Kargien to report their progress so far, they reentered the trinket store run by Henkala Shadowsong whom they met upon first entering Blingdenstone. When asked about heirs to the Schnicktick's crown, she mentions that Gurmadden's family is said to stretch back to the early days of Blingdenstone. She has heard rumor that he may be a lost cousin or some such of Schnicktick.

She has also had heard tale of the adventurers' deeds and aid to Blingdenstone, she felt she could trust the heroes. She asked the adventurers to rid the city of the evil elemental spirit known as Ogremach's Bane. Henkala knows the pechs can help them with the Bane as they are very in tune with the stone and with elementals. She implores the adventurers to ask the pechs for aid. Destroying or banishing the Ogremach's Bane would go a long way to returning Blingdenstone to its former glory.

The adventurers agreed and made for the forges immediately. On their way they discovered the Singing Stones, a tavern and meeting place for the weary gnome soldiers. The proprietor, Gurmadden, is eager to have the adventurers purge Blingdenstone of the kobolds and also to enter the Wormwrithings to find singing stones to replace the ones the drow smashed when they invaded. Gurmadden feels that if the singing stones were replaced, they could raise the morale of the deep gnomes and bring back a sense of wonder sorely lacking in the city.

The adventurers are not impressed with Gurmadden as a possible heir to the crown, and they feel that their mission to purge Ogremach's Bane is currently more important than replacing the Singing Stones. They plan on taking care of the kobold threats after.

They continue on their way to the forges to parlay with the pechs. After a lengthy negotiation, the pechs agree to help the party heal the Wounded Cavern but in return, they want a meeting with Kargien about a peaceful coexistence. The svirfneblin see the pechs as a pest who constantly closes their caverns, not having the patience for the pechs' claims they are healing the stone.

When the adventurers try to lead the pechs into Blingdenstone proper, the sentries refuse them entry. The party relents and decides to send I'alia to Kargien to tell him of the pechs' request for parlay and Sharlo and Corso escort the pechs back to the forges.

After a brief lunch with Kargien, I'alia convinces him to accompany her to the pechs, so they can talk. He is intrested in getting rid of the Bane, but is reluctant to allow the pechs into his city.

Kargien negotiates with the pechs and agrees to allow them to live in the caverns where the forges currently are in return for their help in purging the Bane. However, he still refuses them entry into Blingdenstone proper. They must circumnavigate the city to get to the Wounded Cavern.

The pechs agree. The party escorts them to where the Bane holds sway.  Before they made their way into the Wounded Cavern, one of the pechs detected the Sunnis holy symbol in I'alia's pouch. Gallus, the leader of the pechs, told the adventurers the holy symbol could be an effective weapon vs. the evil spirit. He also had mentioned that the Ogremach's Bane could only be harmed by magic. The pechs then formed a protective circle around the party, and they all advanced into the chamber where the Ogremach's Bane resided. Elementals surged toward them but swiftly turned and fled the power of the pechs. The Bane itself formed into a cloud of stone, rock, and debris and addressed the party. The adventurers weren't in the mood for much discussion and waded into battle. The pechs' circle protected them and the adventurers began to sling spells into the  cloud. The Bane tried in vain to harm them...until Corso flung himself into the cloud, wielding the Sunnis holy symbol. Corso got pummeled and cut but did significant damage carrying the holy symbol into the heart of the Bane. In the end, the Bane was destroyed, its cloud falling to the chamber floor. In the remains, the adventurers found some gems and a tattered piece of Evarell's Journal. After the defeat of the Bane, the adventurers escorted the pechs back to their chambers and are on their way to report to Henkala and Kargien.

I will be posting more entries every so often to keep you all posted on the exploits of the members of the Society for the Advancement of the Adventuring Arts. Thanks for reading. 

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