On Saturday I joined a new D&D 4th Edition game which was starting up and will be having sessions every two weeks or so. My play availability will probably be extremely limited once the baby’s born but I intend to enjoy it until then. I’m looking forward to the next session, as this one was a lot of fun. We were all starting at 3rd level, and for a couple of the players I think it was their first time playing D&D (for me it had been a while), or at least their first time with 4th Edition. Some of the rest are min-max hack-n-slashers (one in particular, and the other player and DM are a little bit like that though they do value story and roleplay at least a bit). I wasn’t the DM, by the way, just one of the players. The session went something like this.
Our party was apparently guarding a trading vessel as it traveled downriver (it seems there must be something in this setting to guard a river boat from? River pirates, or some sort of monsters?) Somewhat disconcertingly, they were dropped off and paid outside a small town before reaching the boat’s destination city, with the explanation that their protection wasn’t needed past that point. There they were, this ragtag group of adventurers, unceremoniously dumped into the gameworld.
Desh, human barbarian, whose backstory is a direct rip off of the Conan movies (the min-maxer); Kalen, elven ranger, with accompanying hawk (one of the players new to the game); Kezon, dragonborn fighter (the other player new to the game); Elarion, elven cleric of a dwarven goddess–an odd choice for sure–and a foul-mouthed pedophile, if the roleplay and jokes throughout the session are to be believed; and Gavin Celticroots, elven druid, wandering avatar of the natural world who lives in the moment more than worrying about the past and future, or good and evil (me).
From their position they could see a village not far away with red roofs on every building, a purple lighthouse beyond it to the south, mountains beyond the village to the west, and some forest to the north of the village. They headed to the village and, as they approached, noticed many boarded up windows, and a sealed off well. People were moving about as if to finish their business quickly, but the one they stopped didn’t give much of an answer about what was going on, only telling them to go look for trouble at the tavern, if that was what they wanted.
When they arrived at the tavern, the proprietor wanted to hear their adventuring stories, and they had little to tell him. There was a round of drinks which Gavin had to pay for despite the fact that he only drank water, since most of the others had no money (they had already spent it in character creation), and because the tavern was giving another patron a free drink as they had walked in, which was misinterpreted as free drinks for all by the party.
The tavernkeeper told them the well was sealed to keep things out, and mentioned a comet which had fallen in the mountains to the northwest recently, one which had previously shown up in the sky every twenty-seven years. He also described a gnome toymaker, a master craftsman and an asshole, if the bartender was to be believed, who would visit town to sell his exquisitely detailed toys and then return to his home in the deep, dark forest to the north. All he could say of the reasons for his opinion about the gnome was that he guy was an arrogant jerk.
Just after the party left the tavern, a distressed woman ran into it, and the group followed her back in to see what was going on. Apparently her son and daughter, Billy and Cassandra, had just run off toward the forest to the north carrying some toys made by the toymaker, and she’d found the toys in their rooms (which had not been made by the gnome) destroyed. Desh wanted to know where the toymaker was, and the barkeep said he was probably at home in the forest, but that wasn’t good enough. He asked who else in the area made toys, and was told that the smith made some. Desh and Elarion led the party out into the town to search for the gnome, who wasn’t in the town, and found the smith and began to ask him questions. Gavin didn’t care about any of that, and started heading north into the woods to get the kids.
The party followed. Not far north of the town, the woods began, light forest with only very eerie trees about which Gavin told the party what he knew: that they would not feed on water but on blood spilled nearby. The trees were about thirty feet apart and nothing grew in between them. Gavin had no trouble following the path of the children, and the party caught up with them just outside the border of the deep forest. The deep forest consisted of more normal trees, however they were so densely packed that no light reached the forest floor. On spotting the children, Gavin called out to them, and as they turned, two large rage drakes and four fey panthers, all somehow warped to be aberrant creatures, emerged from the forest behind the kids.
A fun combat followed, during which the children presumably just cowered and were completely ignored by the monsters, and the party dispatched the creatures. Afterwards, the children, mastercrafted toys in hand, told the group that they hadn’t been the ones to destroy their other toys, that they’d found them that way, and had run off to try to find the toymaker to get more toys. This made the adventurers suspect that the toys made by the gnome may have actually attacked the other toys (though now that I think of it, I would never have believed such a silly excuse from a kid in real life; funny how that works in a fantasy world).
On the way back, Desh for some reason thought it would be a good idea to wipe the blood from the slain monsters off on one of the blood-eating trees. He was immediately seized by the tree’s roots and held as the tree began to drain him of blood. The rest of the party was hesitant to help him out of his self-imposed predicament, but started to attack the tree to get it off of him. The roots released and the party continued the attack; only a few seconds passed before roots emerged again to capture all but two of the party members (apparently they could reach a distance of twenty-five feet from the tree). The group was saved when Kalen interrupted the attack, firing off an arrow which finished the tree off.
Upon returning the kids to the town, the group were praised as heroes, and told that a celebration would be held that very afternoon. Some of the party members wanted to go out looking for the toymaker, but it seemed like it would be rude to skip out on their own party. So they stayed and listened as Sylvia Moonbeam, an elven elder of the town (looking ageless as the elves do for most of their lives) stood before everyone in the town and thanked the group for their deed. They ate and drank, and Desh tried clumsily to hit on the elven woman (“Hi, I’m Desh. Want to have sex with me?”). Elarion (paragon of virtue that he is) came by to join in on the conquest, and both were rejected and chastised for their behavior.
The adventurers decided to leave the town and go after the toymaker despite the growing darkness, figuring that it would be just as dark either way inside the forest (and most of the players wanted to get some use out of their action points before they lost them). Before they left the town, the tavernkeeper approached to offer them free rooms for the night and ask if they’d want to sleep and leave for the forest first thing in the morning. The group rejected the notion and headed out.
Elarion carried a torch while Gavin easily guided the party through the light forest. Once inside the deep forest, the entire party had to use their skills to keep the group on the right track through the darkness, but they eventually came upon the lake they’d been told to look for, and headed around its western bank in search of the gnome’s abode. Continuing still required the skill of the entire party to stay on course, but they were successful and came upon an abandoned church near the lake, with boarded up windows on the bottom floor and broken ones on the top. Kezon was able to piece together enough of the stained-glass shards littering the ground to discover that it was a temple of Pelor.
The party began hearing groaning sounds and movement in the forest around them, jarring after the unnatural silence that was the place’s norm. Desh climbed into a top-floor window and caught the rope Gavin threw him. The adventurers all hurried up the rope, just as a horde of zombies shambled toward the church. They went downstairs and took up positions as the zombies bashed through the three boarded up windows and started entering the church one at a time through each.
After fighting for a while the adventurers felt forced to retreat up the stairs as the zombies continued to come, and while Kezon and Desh held the stairs, Gavin and Kalen rained down attacks on the zombies outside two of the windows. The third window below did not have another directly above it, so after the groups outside the first two were destroyed the party had to descend to finish off the remaining zombies.
Once the fight was finished the party noticed one of the zombies was holding a finely crafted toy, and the session finished with finding another that had a convenient note tied to it.
So you’re big heroes now? I won’t let you ruin my plans. You’d better hurry if you want to play.