On Tuesday we had a rousing game of Dungeons and Dragons!
The first thing I should say is that the dice and books from our mysterious benefactor made a huge difference in the game. We were able to quickly look up rules and level all of our characters to Level 2 in about a half an hour.
Nine people played, which I was thrilled with. It was pretty much the upper limit of what I could handle, but I’m willing to push the limits to get kids chances to have good role-playing experiences. Not to be cruel, but kids tell me about their role-playing experiences at LGS’ all the time and there are some real unhelpful GMs running free games in our area that are not modelling good social skills. This doesn’t exactly surprise me, but its all the more reason to have role-playing in a school environment where the resident adult has a responsibility to pluralistic, caring teaching. I consider it part of my duties as a teacher and gamer to give people good experiences, for the sake of the hobby, not just from the perspective of a professional.
The story itself played like this:
We left the adventuring group with having slain three werewolves. The third escaped. The Manticore and several party members were wounded. The party decided (after some prodding from me) to let the Manticore live, especially from the perspective that they might be able to fly on his back at some point.
A group split off to take a Manticore spike to town as “evidence” that the Manticore had been killed. They also had a shopping list from their party members. The group waited patiently as we quickly conducted the purchases in town.
The group bought healing potions, some ponies and some riding horses. The Chieftess of Clan Bear also rewarded them with the following loot for “killing” the Manticore:
1000 gold pieces
9 healing potions
A Wand of Cure Wounds (Level 3/10 charges/must be used by a spellcaster)
A Silver Short Sword
They were then summoned to the High Priestess of Silvanus, who gave them a very stern warning that Clan Bear’s grasp of the politics of the Orcs and Frost Giants was minimal.
In the first adventure, Captain Alek Toothborn had explained some history of Frostreach. He said that Pack Alpha (the military arm of Clan Bear) had been fighting the Orcs in a full scale war as of late. He also explained how the Frost Giants and Orcs rarely interacted with each other based upon Ranger Recon™. The Gap, a location to the North that was not well surveyed, was in a very thin strip of land between Orc and Frost Giant territory and that it may hold the key to entering an impenetrable wall of mountains and uncharted territory that could shift the balance of the war.
The High Priestess, who is the liaison between Clan Bear Outpost and the Druids in the North, warned the PCs that Druid intelligence on the activities of the Orcs and Frost Giants was far more advanced. She explained that the Orcs and Frost Giants had united under a common banner. She urged them to hurry to the North to investigate the Gap. Her divinations had revealed a snow storm coming and urged them to find a cave to shelter in enroute, but that it was still critical to leave immediately. She gifted the PCs a silver dagger, a mastercraft shortbow with nature iconography, and a special letter that would grant them safe passage through Druid lands.
The PCs heard a rousing round of “Manticore the Terrible” on the way out of town, as they were now local celebrities.
When the PCs returned to the rest of the group, they set out. Winter weather hit them soon and after only a few hours of travel they were making constitution checks to avoid the cold. Several PCs lost hit points from the extreme cold and a foot of snow had fallen in just 30 minutes so they had little choice but to enter a large cave they found. The cave mouth itself was large and they were able to go 100 feet back to escape the cold and start a fire. There were no threats inside the cave. Passages led back into the cave and they decided to explore. The Manticore, Candace, and Matt stayed at the mouth of the Cave as the passageways were too narrow for the horses or Manticore to explore. By this time, night had fallen and another foot of snow had descended on the outside.
The “exploration group” of about six players and the NPC Spinnett travelled about 30 minutes into the cave and found nothing. Emma found it interesting that the farther they went into the cave, the less her wounds from the prior adventure “itched”. She and Dom decided to head back to the mouth of the cave. That may have been a bit of metagaming (?) because while this was happening I took the three players who remained out into the hallway to explain what was happening the the cave mouth.
The piling snow shifted and rumbled and a gigantic paw stepped into the cave…then a second one. A long white snout broke through the blizzard and into the cave, with blue vapor coming from its mouth. This gigantic Winter Wolf laid down and addressed the group in a deep guttural voice. It said that it was exhausted from its journey from the North and requested a truce until daybreak. The PCs left in the cave wisely complied.
At this point, Emma and Dom returned. The Winter Wolf commented with amusement that he could tell that Emma and the Manticore had been “kissed by the Moon”. The snowfall outside slowed and the clouds passed, revealing a Full Moon. Emma’s mysterious “itching” revealed itself and she turned into a werewolf. The Manticore turned into a humanoid from his curse of lycanthropy.
At this same moment, the “exploration group” got a point in the cave where they found snow. They had been looking for a way out and it appeared as if there was a hole in the ceiling of the cave, plugged by snow. They climbed to investigate. They cleared the snow, revealing a clear sky: and the full Moon. Ana had also been itchy and she turned into a werewolf too!
This was a very dangerous situation because with divided strength, the party really had to call on all options to avoid killing their werewolf comrades while also staying alive themselves. As we battled, I gave the werewolf players new character sheets (I handled Tyler’s Manticore humanoid on my own with his input). At the end of every round, the werewolves could attempt a Wisdom save to try to gain control of their bloodlust. The first one was at disadvantage, and everyone failed. The second also resulted in failure and they attacked with vigor after each of these saves!
Tyler’s Manticore could act without penalty during this time, although he was essentially a weaponless naked man. When Emma wolfed out, he decided that it would be best to tackle her to avoid her killing any of the horses, or, worse yet, attack the Winter Wolf. He succeeded on his charge and knocked her down. While this happened, Matt sent three Magic Missiles into Emma, not taking any chances with her predator-nature. Candace backed away. As a fragile sorcerer she knew that she couldn’t be involved and survive. I had to give Matt the old: “Attacking the Winter Wolf could be very very very bad for you all at this stage.” ;P
During this time, the Winter Wolf just chuckled, amused.
The “exploration group” was lucky in that the first random individual that Ana attacked was Spinnett, the party Damage Soak™ (I did role randomly). Ana was struggling to make the saves and Dominique had the good idea to use her Speak with Animals spell to try to “talk her down”. I gave Ana an immediate save with advantage and she made it!
Time was running very short (managing it can be very hard with teenagers), so I made the decision to call it at the werewolves getting under control. The Winter Wolf, seeing this play out, said to the “cave mouth” group: “This has been quite amusing, watching an individuals first encounter with the Kiss of the Moon. I could easily slaughter you all right now. Yet, I think I’d rather have you have to solve this one. I’m hungry and I’d like to take a bite out of Clan Bear, since I’m so close. We will meet again.” He bounded out of the Cave and into the night. This ended up working well because I can set up a potential recurring villain.
I also had to be cautious with ending this one correctly because our next game will be at the Overday and not all students can attend this event. It is our primary fundraiser and has a modest cost. Students with demonstrable financial need can get a waiver through the school to attend, but not all students can sacrifice their weekend schedules to make it. I don’t want anyone who can’t attend to miss critical components. Now I just have to decide whether next Saturday’s game will be a limited continuation, a flash back, a side quest, or a completely different set of characters. Liam and I have also discussed the possibility of having a MERGED game with both of our groups. It will be up to him to find some time next week where we can both meet and discuss it.
Fun was had by all and the kids left with imaginations and questions running on overdrive. That is what role-playing is supposed to do!