[Vacaria Brotherhood] - D&D Expeditions: Drums in the Marsh
Were I to make a joke D&D-themed and it would start like this: two Harpers, two evil-looking warlocks, and two rogues walk into a bar...
Well, I'm not much of a joker, but let me tell you about my last D&D session... This is EXACTLY how it happened!
When the brainiacs at WoTC decided to promote the D&D Encounters (and Expeditions) as a support to D&D's 5th Edition they weren't exactly pushing us into a conundrum. I mean, it's easy to calculate the odds of having six complete strangers walk into a public game having totally incompatible characters!
Is it possible to have both Harpers and Zhentarim in the same party? Check!
Is it possible to have neutral good dwarven clerics and shady warlocks with imps as familiars? Check!
So, yeah, my neutral good dwarven HARPER cleric decided that his ZHENTARIM tiefling comrade-in-arms was simply a guy wearing a kabuki mask, and that his evil-as-fuck devilish IMP was... just an exotic bird!
Otherwise I would need years of therapy in order to understand why exactly we were banding together. You know, because, TIEFLING ZHENTARIM WARLOCKS WITH IMPS AS FAMILIARS are usually what HARPER DWARVEN GOOD CLERICS hunt in the campaign! So forget about any MINOR INCONSISTENCIES in all of this...
So, there you have our starting point for the "Drums in the Marsh" quest. And, yes, we were walking into a bar...
And the reason we were doing it was to search for the missing Best Man for our friend Gilthanas' marriage. A gnome named Archibald something-something-something yet-more-something XIV apparently disappeared while travelling to Phlan. We headed towards an inn in the middle of the road, where we were told that "Archie" had been there, but decided to go into the marsh to investigate the strange drums that sound in the night, and its link to several missing persons from the farmsteads nearby.
This farm boy comes to us in shock, having just returned from the farm belonging to the old couple he works for, finding it attacked, and with the old folks missing.
We take the ferry and rush upriver to the farmstead. On arrival, we observe that the doors were blasted, there were signs of claws on the floor, and marks of cattle being driven out of the farm.
So, do we decide to run after the assailants while the marks are fresh? Well, no...
"Hey guys, look! There's a pouch with 15 gp above the table. It must be the old folks’ savings. Well, let's just steal it..."
This is one of those moments where you can do one of two things:
a) Forget about your character's personality and simply ignore anything roleplay related;
b) Stay in-character and go against five other players, thus earning their hatred both in-character and out-of-character.
Well, with almost 20 years of roleplay over my shoulders this wasn't going to be the first time I'd break character just to gain popularity points. Therefore, Sergeant Khan put his most judging stare over his beard and claimed: NON!
45 minutes later they were still trying to convince me that we were entitled to the pouch because the old folks were probably dead. After much debate the thieving bastards ended up agreeing to give me the coins for safekeeping until the farmers' destiny became known.
My gut feeling was so right about my esteemed companions that as soon as we started the session I told the DM: I'm gonna leave my money (200 gp) entrusted to the Harpers' bank before we leave town..."
Jumping into a barge we sailed upstream, but not before another 45 minutes were lost deciding who was going to row...
*Sigh*... Next time I'm bringing a pony...
Yes, that is a pig inside the barge.
Suddenly, LIZARD MEN! Rising from the waters and throwing nets from the margins. Eldricht blasts, and spears, and arrows, and everything, shooting everywhere. Yay, it's HAMMER TIME! I swing my warhammer... and the die rolls below 4. More eldricht blasts, more arrows, more hits and bumps! I swing my warhammer... and the die rolls below 4. Some comrades get poisoned from the lizards' blowguns, and I don't have enough spells to cure them all. But since it is not lethal, and wears off after one hour, I swing my warhammer... and the die rolls below 4.
Humm... I'm starting to notice a peculiar consistency with my warhammer.
My fellow Harper is put unconscious and dragged by two lizards through the reeds. They would get away with him, if not for my providential guiding bolt shot from inside the barge in the middle of the river. Yes, you can say it: I'm totally awesome. After smoking one of them, they got scared and ran away.
Nightfall was upon us and we needed to rest. Both warlocks said "oh, it's cool, our familiars can stand watch". The tiefling tells his imp to stand watch, and the answer he gets (in Infernal) is something along the line of "sod off". The tiefling throws a stick at the imp. The imp catches the stick and bashes the tiefling in the head with it. Confused, my dwarf watches the entire scene thinking "hmmmm, what an interesting relationship the kabuki masked guy has with his exotic bird..."
We jump into the barge once again, and this time it only takes 38 minutes to decide who would pick up the oars.
A few miles later a giant pinkish tentacle-like thing sprouts out of nowhere and grabs the female warlock.
Prepare yourselves, hentai time is about to start.
We dock the ferry in the right margin and start attacking a half-hidden giant toad. That is when the OTHER giant toad on the LEFT margin decides to "tentacle-grab me" and pull me near him. Oh, this is gonna be great... The other five guys are on the other side, and I have this friendly giant toad all to myself. No problem! I start swinging my hammer... and the die rolls below 4. I scream, and shout, and let it all out, swing my hammer again... and the die rolls below 4.
Showing some solidarity, one of the other players tells me: Well, that die is cursed. Here, try rolling this one.
At this point you are all already guessing what did happen. That's right. I rolled a 1. The toad swallowed my warhammer.
Yeeeah, around this time I'm pretty much thinking I should've stayed home combing my beard. Eventually, the toad is blown by an eldritch blast from the kabuki dude, and now comes the epic scene: I grab my warhammer midair, turn around, decide to spend the "inspiration" I had gained previously, and unleash a thunderous guiding bolt straight at the other toad across the river! The evil marsh batrachian gets toasted, and one of the other players just kicks him dead.
Never mind combing the beard, this dwarf IS GAME!!!!