Archive for October, 2009

Rila has been knocked out, Israfel is in search of a pig, and nobody has really introduced new information for a while. Things were entering a bit of a lull, and the players seemed a bit lost. I let the next bit play out a bit longer than I should, but we were all pretty tired by this point.

In search of the Pig

Israfel, noticing that Rose isn’t around at this exact moment, decides to slip into the Inn’s cellar. It’s a small corriador that leads to a set of stairs leading up to a storm door. The only thing of interest is a small wooden bucket. It is damp. Israfel proceeds to steal the bucket and puts it in his bag o’ holding. He then follows the stairs up and out. Once outside, Israfel finds Rose hanging laundry out to dry. This isn’t interesting enough to hold his interest, so he decides to break into Rose’s room and see if he can find anything.

Rose’s Room
It’s a clean room, with lots of sunlight pouring in. It’s very homey. There are lots of small, personal touches. Nothing that keeps Israfel’s interest. Or at least, not until he looks under the bed and finds a small box with 100 gp inside. He takes the money and we never mention it again. It’s worth mentioning that Israfel did move the rug to see if there were any secret passages or the like. There weren’t. From here, Israfel wandered around looking for the pig some more, but didn’t turn up any more information on the matter.

For the record, this took the better part of an hour. Okay, maybe nothing here happened to advance the plot, but the guy playing Israfel is really funny, and it was a nice break from all the OMG MURDER that was going on. I finally realized my story was getting woefully side-tracked, and decided to shift the focus onto Rila for a little bit.

Rila Awakens
Rila opens her eyes in a dark, vaguely cone-shaped room. It appears to be some sort of smoke house. There’s a slaughtered pig hanging from the rafters. There’s a lot of blood directly underneath the pig, except for one area that is perfectly round. There is a pit in the middle of the room, with raked over ashes. There are sturdy ropes hanging from the roof. The only source of light is a hole in the roof, right in the middle of the room. All of this is noticed in an instant, as Rila is far more interested in finding a way out. She tries the door– it’s barred shut. Rather than waste her energy slamming against the door, Rila decides to put her ranger training to work and climb out through the roof.  After about an hour, she makes it out. Taking a moment to savor her victory, she happens to notice that she’s on top of the building next to Jilad’s hut, and that the crying has stopped…

Sorry for the short entry. It gets better, honest.


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When we last left our party, they had split into three seperate groups. Pentaross and Plague were at the inn, trying to get more information from the townsfolk. Cedrick, Indiriana, and Israfel were at Shirley, the witch woman’s hut, trying to divine more information on the murder. Rila volunteered to clean up the body and transport it to the cremation site.


Having spent several hours cleaing up entrails and blood, Rila finally transports the body to the cremation site. This is around 4 PM. The cremation site is in the empty field north of the jail. Being covered in viscera, Rila decides to clean up in a nearby river. To be frank, I wasn’t really planning for any such situation arising, but I had a BRILLIANT IDEA. While bathing in the river, Rila hears a child crying. Knowing that there aren’t any houses nearby, Rila decides to follow the noise to its source. She follows the sound north, and comes upon a small hut.

Inside the Hut

The hut is a small, one room hut.  It is sparsely furnished, and extremely tidy. On the far side of the hut is a woman with dark hair sitting in a rocking chair. She would be pretty, except her face looks fairly beat up. She is staring off into space. There is a cradle next to her with an infant crying. As far as Rila can tell, the baby is less than a year old. Rila goes up to the woman, and puts her hand on the woman’s shoulder. As she does this, everything goes black with a painful thud.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

In an attempt to build suspense, Cedrick, Indiriana, and Israfel are in a panic. Cedrick stops the bleeding while Indiriana finds some bandages for Shirley’s eyes. Israfel decides to head over to the inn, just in time for a frantic man to come bursting in. Sensing someting interesting is going to happen, Israfel siddles over and introduces himself.

“Betsy’s gone missing! I can’t find her anywhere!” the man exclaims, panicked.

“Betsy? Who is Betsy?” Israfel asks, “furthermore, who are you?”

“I’m Ren. I live just southeast of here. Please, you have to help me find Betsy.” the man stammers

“…Okay, what’s she look like? And when did you last see her?” Israfel asks

“I last saw her the night before the murder. I said goodbye to her, like I always do before going to the inn. She’s about a foot high, pink, has black spots and a curly tail…” The man trailed off as he tried to think more about Betsy.

“…. Sir, is Betsy a pig?” Israfel seems a bit downhearted by the news

“Yes, didn’t I say that? Please help me find her!”

Israfel places his hands on the table and leans towards Ren. “Sir,” Israfel states, “Did your pig have any enemies?” (Israfel’s player did his best to keep a straight face, but failed.)

“No, none! Who would want to hurt my Betsy?”

“I guess I’ll go find her,” Israfel says, and then walks away, having failed his “give a crap” roll.


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The Story thus far

When we last left our intrepid adventurers, they had just arrived in the small town of Westmoore, where a grisly murder had occurred.  The victim was the sheriff, and he was murdered in his own jail. Before entering the jail, Rila the Ranger noticed Dragon-born footprints (critical DM fail!), but didn’t have a chance to bring it up before seeing the carnage inside.

The Jail

The jail is a small two room building. The larger of the two rooms is the sheriff’s office. There is a hat rack in the corner with a jacket on it. A man, presumably the sheriff, is slumped against a sturdy wooden desk. He is obviously dead, since most living people don’t have their organs arranged in a lovely 8-pointed spiral outside of their bodies. There is blood everywhere, putting Johnny Depp’s death in Nightmare on Elm Street to shame. For those visually inclined, here’s my five-minute drawn-in-paint version:

Not shown: entrails in an 8-pointed spirial

Not shown: entrails

At this point, Pentaross took over the examination of the room. He rolled high, so he found all four important clues here.

  1. There is a knife right next to the sheriff, within reach. It appears he tried to fight back against whatever killed him.
  2. Under the desk is half of a letter. While the top half is missing, what remains says “I can’t do this anymore. Please don’t come near me again. -Rose” This is also liberally splattered with blood.
  3. Inside of the coat is half a locket. It has the picture of a pretty dark-haired woman.
  4. Looking at the wounds, it appears that something ripped him open. It doesn’t look like his injuries were caused by a knife.

The characters marvel for a minute because holy crap, that’s a lot of blood before Indiriana, the warlock, and Cedrick, the paladin, examine the pattern to see if they recognize it. While they both roll high, neither of them have any knowledge of such a symbol. After this, the party turns to the mayor for more information about the night of the murder.

The Night of the Crime

The night of the crime started off like any other in this small town. The sheriff, Joe, was drinking with his brother Chuck (also the deputy of the town), and his friend, Ren (listed as Bob on the map) at the inn, as they usually do. As usual, Joe flirted with Rose a bit before stumbling home. That was around 11:00 PM. Chuck offered to help Joe get home, but was refused. Around 12:30 AM, Chuck and Ren went to the Jail to get the key to Chuck’s house. It was then they found the body. They ran back to the inn, in a panic about the murder. Jilad, another patron at the bar, secured the scene, while the innkeeper took care of Chuck. That day it rained fairly heavily until about midnight, leaving three sets of prints: Chuck’s, Ren’s and Jilad’s.

On being asked if the sheriff had any enemies, Josh seems shocked. “He was elected unanimously! Heck, he even got along with Jilad.”

By this point, the characters are brimming with curiousity about this Jilad character. They push for a little more information on the matter and learn the following: Jilad is a dragonborn who keeps to himself most days and that he came to the town the same time Rose did.

The mayor also mentions that the witch woman, Shirley, who had left town two days ago to help with a particularly difficult birth in another town. She had said she be back later today. Since it looks like some sort of ritual, she might be able to help.

The Investigation

With this information, the party splits up. While the rest of the party goes to the inn, Rila decides to stay behind in order to clean up the jail and move the body to where it will be cremated that evening. She as hopint to see if anybody in the town showed an untoward interest in the crime scene. **SPOILER ALERT** nobody did. The mayor agrees to leave a cart so she can easily transport the body.

While Rila is cleaning up viscera, Pentaross leads the party to the inn. Given that it’s about noon, the inn is fairly empty. There are three people there, however. The first is a woman behind the counter. Pentaross recognizes her immediately as the woman from the locket. The second is a dragon-born man who only has one arm (his left, for nitpicky details that will probably come up later) and is eating some typical tavern food (re: Stew). The third is a man in his late twenties, sitting in the corner, crying.

Pentaross makes a beeline to the woman behind the counter. Turning on the charm, he introduces himself and explains why he’s here. After some good diplomacy checks, Pentaross gets the following information out of Rose.

  1. She came to this town about five years ago, after her previous town was destroyed by brigands.
  2. The sheriff had been flirting with her for a while. It was harmless at first, but recently had gotten annoying. She had written the letter to ask him to stop. **ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT** It didn’t work and he continued to pester her.
  3. She had been missing half of her locket for about 9 months. Her half of the locket contains a picture of her dead fiancée.
  4. Rose corroborates the mayor’s story.
  5. Chuck is a bit of a simpleton. Apparently he had an accident when he was a kid, leaving him a little slow and confused about some things.

While Pentaross is talking to Rose, our resident Paladin decides to get some delicious stew and talk to the one-armed Dragonborn. Cedrick doesn’t learn much, but does once again corroborate the mayor’s story. He also gets some backstory on Rose and Jilad. After Jilad lost his arm during a battle, he was deemed unable to fight. He became a woodsman, using traps and snares to capture prey. He settled down in the same small town where Rose was originally from. While most of the townspeople there weren’t exactly welcoming, Rose did everything she could to make him part of the community. And, for a time, he was. At least, until the brigands came and killed almost everyone. Rose and Jilad were away, getting supplies for her inn when it happened. Deciding to move on, they moved on to Westmoore, and Rose set up an inn there.

Around this time, word gets to the inn that Shirley, the wise woman, is back. Indiriana, Cedrick, and Israfel all decide to pay her a visit, while Pentaross decides to talk to more townspeople at the inn. Plague volunteers to help out at the inn, hoping to learn something by eavesdropping.

At The Wise Woman’s

The wise woman’s hut is a short walk directly south of the inn. It is a small, thatched roof hut with a sheep pen next to it. There is a goat in the pen with all the sheep. It bleats at the party when they get close. The interior of the hut is suitably “witchy.” There are dribbly candles and occult symbols, even if they are next to wool shears and skeins of yarn. The woman is in a rocking chair, knitting. The party exchanges glances when they notice this, but shrug it off as being “normal enough.”

The party explains what’s going on, why they need her help, and ask if she has any advice. After mulling over this barrage of information, she agrees to help. She will go into a trance, and see if any of her spiritual guides can help her. She makes herself ready, still in her rocking chair and still knitting. Her eyes roll up into her head, and a gutteral voice emits from her mouth:

“an eye for an eye, those guilty will be punished for their sins.”

And with that, she takes her knitting needles and stabs herself in the eyes.

Party: *gasps*
Israfel: Israfel isn’t bored anymore.

And with that, I decided to end for the night. I figure I did okay when the group, even though it’s really late, was like “Aaaaaaaaaaagh, what happens next?” I consider this my first real success as DM. That’s good, because the next session had more DM fumbles than I would care to admit…


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This is the story of the first campaign I ever crafted. This is also the story of my first DMing experience, ever.

I never really planned on being a DM.  My halfling Paladin, Bimbi, was doing a bang-up job of teaching me the complexities of playing D&D, and I was really digging the story that our DM was running. Also, my job schedule could only be described as erratic as best and often left my physically exhausted at the end of the day. But then something happened. Something so scary, it can only be described in all caps: THE RECESSION. My job function changed to a more stable 9-5 desk job, but our DM had to start working more irregular hours. This left him with precious little time to organize his over-arching story. One day, he asked us (the players) if one of us could fill in for a spell. I agreed to do it because I suddenly had massive amounts of time in the evening that I was looking to fill. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The Players

Pentaross, Eladrin Warlord. He’s kind of gruff and take-charge. He might have the highest diplomacy of the group, so he usually does the talking. Also, this particular player enjoys finding clever ways out of perilous situations.
Rila, Elven Ranger. Rila is brusque. She is pretty disdainful of most people (especially Cedrick), and she is stupidly devoted to her job. She takes every watch. The player actually keeps a tally of how many nights it’s been since she slept last.
Indiriana, Eladrin Warlock. She likes to figure out puzzles and relationships between things. This particular player is a little more reserved, letting other people do the role-playing.
Israfel, Eladrin Rogue. This character gets bored easily. Like, in-the-middle-of-combat getting bored. He rolls dice to decide how much of a crap he cares about any particular situation. He’s heavy on the role-playing, and it’s always amusing, as we shall see later.
Cedrick, Half-elven Paladin. Cedrick is good-looking, but dumb. He’s a nice guy, but his INT isn’t his highest stat. He once forgot the name of his goddess, something we will never, ever ever let him live down.
Plague, Elven (I think?) Warrior- A former serving wench/slave. Now she kills things. Kills them dead. She’s a more reserved player, usually content to watch and listen.
At this point, my character is the only one in the party that is not Elvish in some way. Just wanted to point that out.

The set-up
Our heroic PCs, are left among the burnt out ruins of the town they helped defend the night before. It’s a very long story, but to sum up, the party was left without an employer. A man, well-dressed by country standards, comes running up to Pentaross, asking for their former boss. Obviously, that guy isn’t around. The man is the mayor of a small town, and they need some help investigating a murder.

“Wait a minute,” Pentaross says. “Why can’t your law enforcement take care of this situation?”

The mayor, Jeff,  hems and haws for a moment before admitting that the victim is the small town’s sheriff.

After some nominal conferring, and reaching the agreement that they won’t advance the story make any money just standing around, they agree to help out Jeff. And so our story really begins.

The Town

Image: Ye olde small town. Designed in 10 minutes. There’s more to the town, but nothing of particular interest, so it’s not on the map.

This is a very small town. There are more buildings to the north, but nothing of interest. Here is where the mayor and the rest of the town live and farm. This is primarily a town of farmers. Very important not to forget this. When the PCs arrive into town, Jeff leads them immediately to the Jail. Rila, being a ranger, noticed several sets of footprints outside of the jail. Only one set stood out, as they were very obviously not-human. Or rather, as I in my newb status pointed out, she noticed a set that appeared to be from a dragon-born. Damnation. But that small slip-up was soon forgotten (for a moment at least) by the scene that lay before them inside the jail cell…


parchment texture on map shamelessly taken from Empty-dreams Deviantart site

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I am an unabashed nerd. Even though I am not innately good with figures, frequently misplacing and transposing numbers, I enjoy working on math problems. It may take me a long time to get to the solution, and sometimes (oftentimes)  my answer is wrong, but I’m fascinated by the process. I like that there are clear, structured rules for breaking down the truth as expressed in pure mathematics. In a chaotic life, Pythagorus stands true and immutable; even in the most uncertain of times, a^2 + b^2 will always equal c^2 for any triangle containing a right angle.

This is my English major way of saying that, despite being heavy on rules, I like 4.0 quite a bit. To be fair, I only played 2nd edition twice, and 3/3.5 edition once (a story for a different time), so I cannot view 4th edition as a part of a progression.  I cannot be outraged that x and y have been removed, because I never experienced x or y to begin with. The rules in combat are simple, but constant. Roll initiative. Move as needed. Perform a major action. Perform a minor action. Do any free actions that are necessary. Repeat as needed. Once the order has been learned, combat flows very smoothly. Even I, as a very inexperienced DM, can run an encounter with a minimum of fuss.This is a Very Good Thing. For those that say otherwise, I would like to say that I’m learning how to build a campaign, run it, keep my party of 6-9 PCs in line, and keeping the details of my (soon-to-be) epic story straight. Complexity is for the story that I’m crafting. Encounters are for beating the crap out of whatever enemy I pull out of my posterior needs to be defeated for the Greater Good.

“But zab, while you are a lovely and talented DM, there are more rules to Dungeons and Dragons than those pertaining to combat! Like skill checks and conditions,” I hear you exclaim. You are right, but skill checks are also bound up in a unmutable ritual. Roll a dice. Add a modifier. Compare the numbers. If it’s higher than or equal than the check, then great success results. It’s all very logical and ordered, and above all, simple and easy to remember.

I can’t really argue too much about conditions. But then again, as DM, I can also control the situation somewhat so those effects are minimized, should I so choose. That’s right, as DM, I can twist things so I’m essentially creating my own home-brew system. And it’s awesome that D&D is flexible enough to allow that.

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It’s a blog! How exciting! It is unique and beautiful, and not like any number of blogs out there.

Let’s see where this goes.

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