February 18, 2013

D&D Campaign History - Part 2

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This is the story of the 5-year D&D campaign I played in while at high-school. Part 1 of the story follows the ever-changing party through a series of unconnected dungeon crawls. Now after about a year of play, the group has settled down into a bunch or regulars around level 5 under the old first edition D&D rules. Having gained significant powers, money and notoriety they are becoming noticed by local rulers.

The party consisted of 5 characters:

  • Greymarel – an alcoholic wizard
  • Bandance – a pyromaniac evil wizard, often getting in arguments with the rest of the party
  • Kur-Tas Kai – a war priest of Kiri-Jolith, and the organiser of the party (if not de facto leader)
  • Talin – a brave, but occasionally foolhardy, ranger
  • Ugarit – a fighter

The party sailed into Karameikos on their return leg from the primitive southern isles they recently explored (Isle Of Dread). Before heading back to their home in the northern borderlands a week’s march to the north, they planned to spend a few days in the large civilised city – enjoying its delights and spending their recently acquired gold. They quickly found themselves surrounded by the city guardsmen and required to present themselves to the local Duke (technically their liege, as their hometown was just inside his territory). He had a proposition. A distant ally of the Duke required some irregular soldiers to deal with a number of hostile nomads raiding his lands. If the party agreed to help the ally he would pardon a number of treasonous offences they committed in the course of their earlier adventures (aiding certain hostile northern Elvish tribes). The party agreed and went to join the foreign army as it assembled. Thus started Master of the Desert Nomads.

Upon arriving at the assembly point the party realised they were late and joined a bunch of stragglers on their way to join the army. However, after a few days and many bruising skirmishes with various monsters, the party became separated from the larger group. Increasingly lost in river marshes and hunted by an evil force, I realised the party had a problem. The adventure was too hard for the characters’ level. I had been using my character, Bandance, as a backstop, but this wasn’t enough. When Kur-Tas prayed to his war-god I had an idea. Kiri-Jolith himself appeared and offered the party help. The party received a staff of healing and resurrection (only usable by a lawful cleric) and in return they needed to destroy a certain evil artefact at the gates of hell. The quest was distant; it would be many years of game time before it was complete. The staff was of immediate use. An immensely powerful item – once a month it could heal someone to almost full heath and also instantly resurrect a dead person if they were of good standing with Kiri-Jolith. Thus both the front line fighters (Talin & Ugarit) could fight the death once a month with essentially no penalty. It was like adding an extra fighter to the party. After this point there were a few jokes about how often Talin died – I think he got upto around 9 deaths by the time the game faded away.

With the fear of death quickly receding from their minds the party slaughtered their way out of the marshes and joined a merchant caravan crossing the desert. After crossing the desert they met up with some friendly nomads. Here they learnt that their army had been defeated and that the enemy nomad army was held together by the power of the Master, an evil priest from the nearby land of Hule. The party resolved to defeat the army by travelling to Hule and assassinating this “Master”.

On the way to the mountain pass to Hule they fought a number of tough battles – most notably at an abbey guarding the pass to Hule full of evil doppelgangers (pretending to be good priests). The party’s naturally suspicious demeanour served them well and the deceit was quickly uncovered. I think it was around this point that the person playing Ugarit left the campaign after personal differences with some other players. I vaguely remember (probably apocryphally) that after the player left, Ugarit went down nobly fighting a rearguard action as the rest of the party escaped the abbey and headed into the mountain pass.

Now down to 4 characters, the party transitioned to the Temple of Death adventure (which began in the pass). Easily getting through the pass and then staying hidden while crossing Hule, the party came upon the Master’s temple headquarters without much difficultly. They then spent some time observing the site and its surrounds. Finding a hidden passage into the complex and (correctly) guessing that the Master would be at the top of the temple, the party moved quickly to the climax. After defeating the Master and then escaping by flying away, they began their return home.

The return was most notable for an argument. By now my character, Bandance, was causing serious friction within the party. As I knew the details of every encounter, Bandance didn’t participate much in the discussions of what to do (so as not to give anything away). In combat he stayed back and blasted fire-based spells at opponents, and ran at the first sign of more serious trouble (he was not in good standing with Kiri-Jolith and thus could not be resurrected by Kur-Tas Kai’s staff). He would demand a larger than fair share of the treasure and generally caused problems. By the time the game reached Hule, it was clear he would have to go, but it never seemed like the right time. The extra firepower a second spellcaster brought was very handy. However, in the end the party made the decision I couldn’t.

In the first town the party reached after leaving the desert, Bandance and Greymarel had an argument in a tavern over a magic item (I can’t remember exactly what it was). The rest of the party all quickly supported Greymarel and it escalated fast. I had Bandance jump out the window and run into the market crowds. The party didn’t give chase – I wouldn’t have let them catch them if they had, he was too useful as a villain. From here on, every time there the party heard of a mad, evil wizard the comment was “is it Bandance?” Whether or when, he would return and seek vengeance was a recurring discussion, as was teasing me that my character had got whooped.

The party was now down the three members, and quickly realised that a new member was required. A new player was found, but he wouldn’t be able to play until after the holidays – another month or so. In the meantime the characters travelled back to Karameikos collected their rewards and new orders. All the players were by now fantastically rich by local standards with tens of thousands of gold each. I was concerned they may want to settle down rather than adventure so reminded them of their duty to the Duke and their quest for Kiri-Jolith. I needn’t have worried; they were keen to hit the road. The Duke pointed them in the direction of the Isle of Dawn where an ongoing war between his allies the “Thyatian’s”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thyatis and the opposed “Alphatian’s”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphatia had reached deadlock. Perhaps they could help out?

The trip to the Isle of Dawn took about a month’s worth of realtime – very handily meaning the journey’s completion matched up with the start of our new player. On the way the party generally messed about with freeform play through various cities. Drinking, wenching and brawling were the order of the day. They also spent a few days vanquishing a mad mage in his inverted tower.

Upon arrival at the Isle of Dawn the party met up with Raven, a human fighter. Over 7 feet tall and with spikes covering his armour, he became instant friends with the characters and joined the party. I’ve always found it difficult to arrange a decent story for why a new player joins a party. Here there was no attempt. More a case of “hey, you look cool, what to adventure with us?”. Oh well, it worked out ok. Thus after two years of play the party was back up to 4 characters, all around level 7.

Next up the party does a little soldiering, but can’t stop thinking about how to complete their dangerous quest for Kiri-Jolith. Part 3 is here.

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