How to Make Friends – or not!

How to Make Friends – or Not (as the case may be)

Chapter 2 – (Almost) a dungeon crawl

Well a month later here we are again with the second thrill chapter of the adventures of our new D&D group. The previous session ended up with the team making it from 1st level to 2nd level. And what is more I managed to keep them all alive (at times against my better judgement).

The group consists of:

Me – the DM.

Gary – playing as Quaite, now a 2nd level human paladin. .

Dave – playing as Talwin (the Tof), a 2nd level halfling rogue.

Adam – playing as Flint Dankil, a 2nd level dwarf fighter.

Joshua – playing as Gerome “The Trippy Gnome”, a 2nd level gnome rogue.

So the results of the first session have revealed that despite the paladin professing to being a good character and following the rules, he seems to have developed a slight bloodthirsty streak (for Wolves!!! – Paladin comment!). Talwin is showing up as a classic halfing with lots of sneaking around attempting (badly) to hit things from a distance, Flint is developing a good ability as a brick-wall (ie, he is a dwarf), and Gerome is a clear-cut sneaky little rat that the whole team already wants to drown.

Yet again we are playing at the office. I’ve banished Gary to the far side of the table to he can’t sneak at what’s going on behind my screen – although I have already warned them all that I won’t be so gentle this time.

When I arrive the team are already there – utilising their time wisely by watching old episodes of IT Crowd – can’t say I blame them. Having set-up, Joshua receives a phone call and disappears outside – to fill the time Gary and David decide to wander down to the local pizza shop to ensure the essential food supplies are available. The liquid supplies are still at hand in the office fridge thanks to some left-over bottles of ale from a session Joshua had in the office a few weekends ago.

Gary has gone all high-tech, and now has his character sheet on his tablet. The others are all paper based. I must admit that I am using mainly paper – it’s just quicker to adjust the hit-points for a monster on paper than having to use a spreadsheet, but I do use both at times.

So, with Joshua back, I perform a recap. Yes, they all remember where they are and what they were doing – and naturally, they all remember that they were still waiting to get paid from the last mission! Naturally they want to get the hands on the gold, so I set them off in the right direction and wait for the mayhem to occur.

Having been paid, the team decide to head to a local shrine (excluding Gerome who decides to sit outside and wonder if the local tavern named “The Sleeping Giant” has a giant sized door and whether there are any giants in it.

The team are actually looking for some potions of healing. Given the damage they took last time this is actually a smart move. I use this as a hook to get them into a side mission on behalf of the acolyte at the shrine. It’s a nice simple mission – but I am sure the team will be able to stuff it up somehow.

Leaving the shrine, the team enjoy the local morning air in the town whilst the paladin heads off to the local town hall to find out what’s happening in town. Naturally nothing can go wrong can it?

Gerome in the meantime has decided that he wants to investigate this unusually named tavern. This is despite the information the team has already received as to this being a “no-go” zone. It is also one of the main launch-pads for the main adventure in this area. It’s just too good an opportunity for me to miss, so I launch four ruffians at Gerome.

At this point it’s all just banter and verbal abuse. Gerome is giving as good as he gets, but is starting to back up the alley away from the ruffians. Luckily Flint and Talwin have spotted what is happening and decide to come to the rescue. Well Flint does. Talwin loiters behind a bit using the dwarf as cover.

The abuse increases in tempo. It gets personal. Implications about the physical relationship between the gnome and the dwarf are made (by the gnome!??!) (Gerome, the Gender Fluid Gnome? – Paladins PC Comment). The dwarf bat’s his eyes and leers! The ruffian’s respond with more crude comments, before finally all semblance of discussion ends and swords are drawn (and battleaxes).

For a change I don’t have to pull my punches. The team have it in hand easily and within three rounds the ruffians are dead or dying on the floor. Quaite finally puts in an appearance, puffing into view after finally hearing the sound of battle whilst he was talking in the town hall…. I guess his conversation about keeping the peace is irrelevant now.

A quick interlude at “The Sleeping Giant” validates to Gerome that it does not contain giants. However the meeting with the female dwarf proprietor does send the team off of a side discussion about dwarfs and their apparent low birth rate. I simply allude that it’s all down to the beards and they take it from there.

Anyway with the team’s blood up it doesn’t take long for them to find out that the ruffian’s headquarters is in the ruins of an old manor up the road from where they already are. Here Talwin display’s some common sense and actually decides to check for traps as they approach. Wow. I’m impressed. Pity there aren’t any and it is completely clear. Sad really as he failed his roll so if there had been he would have got walloped by them.

Reaching the ruins the team quickly work out they are in for a dungeon crawl as the cellars under the ruins are the only intact part of the manor and hence where the villains are hiding. I’m getting a good view of how this team thinks. They are like pit-ponies. The blinkers are on and its whats in front that they see. So, rather than scout the surrounding areas they head for the main entrance. The first part does go exceedingly well though! The team sneak down, entering the first rooms, scouting and looking for traps and quickly identify a side room that Talwin can hear voices from.

However he then decides to ignore that, and rather than searching this room well he heads out of another door and along a corridor up to two large imposing doors. No noise here so he goes back and attempts to get the team to following him. Gerome is having none of it. He’s sitting on the top step (from the way in) and isn’t going anywhere. Ok, so they leave him to it – and with Talwin leading they had into the corridor and walk blithely into a pit trap. It’s weight activated, so Talwin leading skips over it easily leaving Quaite and Flint’s who even individually is more than heavy enough to set it off to take the fall (pun intended)! With an incredible dexterity roll the dwarf actually saves himself from the fall, but poor Quaite decides to fall the full 20 feet to the bottom where my dice fail to inflict serious damage (blast!). (plenty of pre-Paladin drunken falls skills came into play I feel – Paladin commentary!).

Finally with Gerome now on the scene, they recover Quaite and investigate through the doors at the end. Ooh a crypt! Well they all know how this is going to go, so they decide to leave it for the moment and deal with the voices Talwin heard earlier.

Again this turns out to be very one-sided. Quaite has realised he has the skill of intimidation and uses it regularly. This in turn causes one of the occupants of the room to remain quivering in his bed whilst the other two are dispatched swiftly by the rest of the team. They question this poor wretch and I give them lots of information before Gerome decides that he has enough information and ends the questioning session with a knife into the back of the head of his victim. (Gerome the Gender Fluid Sociopathic Gnome – Paladins Comment) (my note – I must remember to block Gary/Quaite from editing this!)

I get them to do some intelligence checks – nope – looks like they are all failing, so I don’t remind them about some of the things I have just told them (I told you they are pit-ponies!) – I can happily let them blunder on. The only things they can remember is the ruffian’s guess on the number of inhabitants of the chambers and the fact that his boss is a wizard.

So it’s off to the crypt (which they could have avoided but “forgot” that bit of information their captive gave them). Yup it’s an introduction to skeletons. Only three of them and again the team is on fire with all three being given their coup de grâce by Gerome. I think he’s getting cocky.

The next few encounters don’t even deserve discussion, although Gerome avoids most of the combat with some spectacular gymnastics and actually displays some compassion in helping release some prisoners the villains had taken. The team have acquired some treasure, but the rewards have been very light. Even the rings and bits they have found are not magical. Gerome and Talwin are making grumbling noises about the lack of goodies… Perhaps this accounts for the change of approach that suddenly occurs.

Talwin spots a hidden door, but before anyone can act, Gerome is through it and off into the chambers beyond. Time for me to have some fun again.

Gerome gets handed a note simply saying “Hello”. He stops and calls out to the team who are approaching him slowly. In the meantime I pass him another saying “Do you want to be my friend?”. He’s getting creeped out. I indicate to him that he is hearing a voice in his head – that the others can’t hear (at this point). I am enjoying this. He really doesn’t know what to do in this situation, so I ham it up and keep the notes coming. At this point if it got violent the party could take some casualties, so I go easy on them – after all this is actually the toughest monster here. It can be bribed with food though and Gerome eventually takes the bait and actually offers up his precious bugbear ears (from session 1) following which he finally spots a shadowy shape appear from a dark crevasse to obtain them. I decide to ham it up even more and get the creature to become quite friendly towards Gerome. Quaite on the other hand is having kittens in the corner as he can tell this thing is as evil as they come.

A quick reconnaissance and the team pass through the secret door they missed at the start before a nice rest – they know they are getting close to the end and want to be on full power for it! Gerome’s new friend is still guarding it’s crevasse, but lets them pass – after all Gerome has promised to bring it back some more bugbear ears – and in exchange it will let them have its treasure chest. (It’s obviously got this thing about ears).

Well, its a corridor with two doors at the end. Voices beyond the one on the left are ignored as the team move to the right into what is obviously a wizard’s workshop, which they manage to trash very quickly. It’s at this point the team realise that their skill set is not a good match with anything magical. Gerome is tempted to drink some of what appear to be liquid potions on the shelf but settles himself for killing a rat that scurries out from under the desk.

David immediately comments “I hope that wasn’t the wizard’s familiar”. Well, guess what? It was.

The team wait. Nothing happens. Then nothing happens again. Nothing continues to happen for some time.

Given the large amount of nothingness that has occurred they decide to investigate the next room which is the wizards bedroom – a nicely decorated room with heavy hangings covering the walls – here they find indications of a hasty departure, along with a clue for the next adventure but fail (yet again) to consider there may be a secret exit from the room.

So they decide to head back to the previously heard voices. Gerome doesn’t even give the team a chance. He simply walks up and kicks the door open, bursting into the room with the rest of the team frantically scrambling to play catch-up.

It’s almost one-sided. I manage to get one good hit in on Flint before the ruffians here are dead.

There are coins all over the room following the fight and Gerome seeks to pocket as much as he can – a bit of sleight-of-hand and the rest of the team will be none the wiser. Sadly this doesn’t work this time and the clatter of coins falling from his sleeves causes much merriment amongst the team – along with more threats to shake him upside down and see what falls out.

Now it’s nearly all over. They know they have bugbears to face and are thinking of resting up before tackling them. In the meantime though Gerome is off again investigating. A looping corridor leads back to the room with the nasty monster in. This time however it’s no longer friendly. Turns out that once the wizard is alerted to the team by the death of its familiar, he flees, taking the opportunity to tell this monster that it must kill everyone else.

So there is more note passing as I try to convey this creatures need to kill the team to Gerome whilst everyone else discusses the upcoming bugbear fight.

When Gerome gets the note saying “Just stay still, the pain will be over quickly” he squeals and flees down the corridor, not stopping until he is safely past the rest of the team. Flint and Quaite by now don’t even blink, they just ready weapons knowing that Gerome has triggered something bad.

I’ve been in two minds over this encounter. It is by far the most dangerous one the team have been in – and there is a good chance it could turn fatal. The room the team are in has two exits. One the direction Gerome has just fled from and the other from where they came in. Now – if they were smart they would retreat to the wizard’s workshop and bedroom and discover the hidden door behind the wall-drapes (which is even still slightly open!). Then they could avoid the monster completely and escape without damage.

Perhaps they could lure it in through one door and flee out of the other – after all it can’t be in two places at once.

Nah – they decide to give combat. And what a combat. I attack the team at random – and every time they made their saving throw stopping them from taking damage. Every turn they inflict heavy damage on the creature. It’s becoming a slaughter. Flint ends it all by stepping up to the creature and (yes!) I finally manage to make a hit on its behalf before Flint finishes it off.

I can’t believe it! Most of the team have got through the night completely unscathed! They are feeling cocky – and rush off to recover this creatures treasure chest. Lots of nice goodies are there – not that they know what they are – they really need someone with some intelligence (or at least some arcane knowledge) to help them out.

And there we left it for it was getting late. The bugbears are still waiting – and so is the acolyte for her side-mission, which I think the team has forgotten about now! Half the team have levelled up and the other two are very close behind, so we will see what the next session brings in about a month’s time.

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