We had our last regularly scheduled club meeting of the year last night. With next Saturday being our big Overday celebration, my co-teacher and I need most of next week to prepare for the Overday. We had video games, Magic, general hanging out, Betrayal at House on the Hill and Dungeons and Dragons.
I set the stage for this episode by recapping a lot of the interweaving plot lines from past games. One of our players was poisoned by a malevolent black ooze that he decided to lick off of a wall to be funny (?). This is evidence of an impending invasion related to a Black Dragon and Wizard the party encountered in the second session. One player’s mentor had been captured by the parents of another, and while the player attempted to pursue his parent’s, his own father shot him in the back with arrows, leaving him paralyzed. Its been quite the dramatic game so far!
last night’s session began to tie all of these plotlines together as the player’s traveled to the northern elven stronghold of Valkyrie to seek medical, philosophical and magical aide, as well as to track down the parent kidnappers. We got a new player last night. He did not come to see me before playing to establish a character class and he was disappointed with the pre-gen I had on hand. It was a good opportunity to remind him of the importance of planning ahead for things like this. This will become important later on.
I described the Eladrin of the realm as very xenophobic. I don’t follow canon of any world I choose to cull background from. This was an important quandary for the party as they are very pluralistic in their attitudes and character races and classes. As they approached the forest with their paralyzed comrade in a cart, an allied NPC raced toward them. A powerful Eladrin in her own right, she explained to them that the northern Elven kingdom had fallen to the Drow and that the Eladrin must be liberated if evil is to be repressed. The players were reminded that the Elves of this realm cycle through periods of high and low power and that they were currently in their “Mid Winter” phase of weakening.
The group decided to go through the dangerous forest of the Elves than attempt to confront any border guards (this is a low level game). The forest is very much alive and pulsing with magical energy. This energy makes the local fauna even more dangerous over the eons of Elvish rule. As they went through the forest, giant birds scattered. Fearing an attack the players readied themselves, but were surprised to find the birds swoop away to avoid a volley of iron spikes flying towards them. Rolling a 1 on the attack, I had a player pinned to a tree very lightly rather than damaged. The spikes came from a Manticore, a fearsome mythological beast with the wings of a bat, the body and head of a lion, and a spiked tail that can shoot iron spikes. The players were out-classed level-wise, but I adjusted the stats on the fly to give a sense of danger but not to make the fight impossible. The players chipped away slowly at the Manticore as it “dive-bombed” them with spikes.
The highlight of the session was the new player, after hearing that Manticores are sentient and have motives from a Nature roll of another player, decided to try to negotiate with the beast. It was a Diplomacy versus Will test and the player rolled exactly the high DC I set. I also expected a persuasive speech and he delivered. He convinced the Manticore to take one of their horses rather than risk further slaughter. With his original intent to be to capture the Manticore, and somewhat dis-satisfied with the game not going exactly as he wanted, he decided to leave the party to pursue the Manticore. Time was almost up anyway, and I will keep that in my pocket as a future asset in the final game this year.
Reaching the edge of the Elven city of Valkyrie, the players enlisted the aide of the party rogue to sneak past the watch towersusing guidance about camouflage. The rogue had the toughest tests to roll and each party member had to hit a small target number to aide or subtract from the rogue’s hiding abilities. They successfully crossed.
The session ended with a glimpse at the city from afar. The players were shocked to find the Drow controlling the city: and freely allowing characters of all races and creeds to walk around this city. This will create an interesting dichotomy for the final session. the Eladrin are “good” but highly xenophobic and unaccepting. The Drow are classically considered “evil”, but are accepting multiple species into the city. Both sides have their pros and cons, and its a good lesson in the shades of grey of life issues. Of course, I want to establish pluralism as good and xenophobia as “bad”, but I want them to really think about the issues, not just spoon feed them a line.
The session ended with the paralyzed character getting the healing he needed to prepare for the final battle. In less than two weeks, all of these plotlines will converge into a final confrontation.