Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Lost Mine of Phandelver 4: Everyone wants to kill the drow

WARNING: The following article contains material from “The Lost Mine of Phandelver”, which is an official module from D&D 5th edition. If you’re planning on playing it, stop reading right away, otherwise this strange spirit will tickle you in places where darkvision doesn’t work.

So, recapping the key events of the previous sessions, a trio of dwarven brothers was looking for the fabled Lost Mine of Phandelver. Their intent was cut short by the deeds of a drow known as "Black Spider". After dealing with a band of thugs in the city of Phandalin, and rescuing Gandrid Rockseeker from captivity in the ruins of Cragmaw Castle, the most awesome adventuring party in Faerûn, known as “The Divine Flame”, caught the track of the lost mine…

We had already covered a lot of ground inside the mine when we were surprised by a half-naked half-elf, running from half-goblins (hobgoblins), half-in-trouble-with-the-baker because of the baker's wife. Don't ask… my gnome was half-confused with the whole story!
After rescuing Gilthanas from the fiends' paws, we carried our course. Our attention was claimed by the second inner building, the one right next to THE FORGE OF SPELLS - which became rightfully mine by holy and divine inheritance, thanks to the spirit from the previous session (yeah, the ugly one that looked like a beholder) . Now we were faced with a problem. A NEW spirit was inside the building, claiming that the Forge was his! WHAT? Such defiance cannot withstand! The Forge of Spells belongs to Baccardi Riga The Third - that being me!
Words were lost trying to reason with the spirit, which by no account understood that he was dead. But he had a treasure chest, and allowed us to pick ONE item from it. Needless to say we took them all... Since we have no rogue in the party, and being Mage Hand a cantrip, I took the time to levitate each diamond, coin, and whatsoever (a classy pipe) into the half-elf’s bag of holding.

With absolutely no weight on our consciences we continued our path, peacefully killing bugbears and hobgoblins. My gnome's batteries were probably exhausted, since he spent most of the time shooting Firebolts at the ceiling!
Hey! Look, the paladin did a critical with his sword! Wow, the cleric smashed the ugly bugbear with 15+ damage! Ouch, the druid just shot an arrow through the hobgoblin’s eye! And… the gnome just rolled another 4…
Alas! At least I have a magical Forge…

Eventually we reached Black Spider’s lair, being the drow accompanied by the third dwarven brother, which was in fact a doppelganger, trying to convince us that Gandrid was a greedy guy wanting the mine for himself.
And there I was, willing to dialogue with the drow, and hoping for a possibility to avoid bloodshed, which is quite probably the most anti-Dungeons-&-Dragons thing ever, and ever, and ever, and when I looked over my shoulder both the paladin and the cleric were hammering the drow into oblivion… Oh, wait! This is the module’s boss! This is the ultimate BBEG (big bad evil guy)! I’m sure he is an all-powerful wizard with countless spells, shooting acid arrows from his fingers, and spitting fireballs, and… and… and the bastard’s dead even before getting up from the chair where he was sitting.
I mean… COME OOOOOOON! I can’t even shoot a fracking hobgoblin in the face, and the paladin and cleric take the BIG BAD EVIL GUY DROW OF DOOM AND HELL AND STUFF in the first round? I want a refund…
Well, at least it wasn’t a total waste. I managed to hit the doppelganger with a Chromatic Orb… and then failed two more subsequent hits… Ok, guys, I’m just going to wait for you all up there by my forge… No, no, don’t bother… I’ll just sit there, blowing the embers till you’re finished…

And thus it came to pass! All evil was banished, the mine was cleared, the wee, nameless, random people of Phandalin can once again thrive, and we got a bag full of gold and XP!
The Lost Mine of Phandelver is a very nice introductory module for Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th Edition. It can keep a group of players entertained for around five gaming sessions, presenting several adventuring locations, with good roleplaying opportunities, and finishing with a classic dungeon crawl. I enjoyed a lot the initial sessions, where we had plenty of time and liberty for roleplaying, unlike this final bit where we had to somewhat rush the last part of the cave / mine / dungeon, and didn’t have a chance to roleplay amongst us. BUT, the DM already announced that a side quest was left in stand-by… so, I’m sure you’ll hear again about the misadventures of THE DIVINE FLAME!

And just so that we’re absolutely clear on the matter… the Forge IS legitimately mine! I have papers proving it!
Well, of course the papers are forged! We’re talking, after all, about a Forge! =)

Monday, 19 January 2015

Session II.19 – Saints and Sinners

The Green Council
Last session was all about the "Green Council". A gathering of the most proeminent representatives of the Theo (god) of Nature. I've always enjoyed, now and then, preparing role scenes where the players assume the roles of NPCs gathered for kingdom-changing events.
The idea behind this was simple: leprechaun spies have sighted a horde of kobolds heading toward the human kingdom - the same kingdom which has been less than kind for the followers of the green god. What will be their take on the matter? Will they join forces with the humans, thus revealing their power and existence? Will they allow Nature to follow its course? Will they embrace the new additional power coming from the dark god? What will their counsel be to the new Great Druid, a 12 year old human girl?

The player that roles Thorkron (a level 12 thaumathurgist, follower of the green god) had made a brief reference, in his original background, to a ring he bears named "samvete", which could be special, or mundane (DM's decision). So, I kept him waiting, and waiting, and waiting, pretending that I had overlooked that piece of info. When I started developing the scene for the Green Council in my head, I knew it was time for samvete to "awaken".
The first idea I had in my mind was to teleport him away in the middle of a trial he is expected to attend (catching the player off-guard). But when the party decided to visit the old powerful crazy wizard that lives in the bay, asking for magical weapons to kill dragons, I immediately knew this was it! We're going for a boat ride! And it would be an amazing character development opportunity, with NPC-bonding.
And so, Thorkron was summoned to the Green Council, with the other players (secretly informed by the DM beforehand) creating power NPCs, such as the oldest treant in the world, a gnome with over 12 centuries, and a young kitsune tribal leader. As to myself, I assumed several identities during the scene, trying to shake all the ideas that were coming to the table.
All in all, a great roleplaying session.

Saint Bellerophon
Before the major event of the session I had another surprise prepared for another player. Oh yes, I am the kind of DM that enjoys keeping the players on their toes!
The player that portrays the paladin Bellerophon has had countless moral debates with the other players. Instead of "looking the other way" from time to time, he always keeps true to the paladinhood ideals, something that has recurrently earned him the rageful hatred of his companions. I wanted to find a way in-game to value that attitude, but without giving him more power (he already is obnoxiously strong and impossible to hit). Therefore, in coherence with the setting, I sent an angel with a few aasimars to proclaim him a saint, thus becoming his followers. The funny thing is, although he doesn't know yet, he really HAS attained some level of holiness. But, as Uncle Ben taught us, with great power comes great responsibility. And so the angel is a flying helmet that remembers everything he sees or hears. Now, Saint Bellerophon, can't really look the other way.
Let's see how this is going to play out. It's something new (at least for me, as GM), and hopefully memorable.

Session Chronicle and Epilogue (Portuguese): link