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Dungeon Mastering By Dummies

Third Session: Ted

by NotMousse
Oct 25,2004


Third Session: Ted

As you may have noticed last month, my players were not making any friends in Rivertucky, but their luck started to improve when Ted arrived. Ted, for the moment, was my avatar, attempting desperately to pull these trainee heroes back towards the plot without the use of violence upon their characters' (or their players') heads. Now before you go thinking Ted was just a throw away NPC, I'll let you all know that I had (and still have) some great expectations for him, but since it's not been revealed who he really is I'll just let you guess.

While I'm on the subject of Ted, I'll note that one of my players was at the time referred to as Teddy. This lead to confusion and I highly recommend never having players named similarly to your NPCs.

Ted convinces the criminals to aid in Fred's endeavors to reclaim his lost armor and weapon, believed to be within the 'wet' cavern, a place where some adventurous kids go to explore. Thomas' rope is used to fashion crude riding equipment for the horses, and the quartet ride off for the cavern.

I've discovered that sense motive as a skill has entirely too high a recommended DC. While Ted is an important NPC he's still a moron, for which I lowered the DC by 5, and two still failed. The misinterpretations from failed checks confused the characters and at least one of my poor players.

Half a day's journey away the group encounters an old wooden bridge. Ted informs the group that they should cross. The rest of the group eyes him warily, Jaj and Thomas figuring Ted is some sort of elven spy sent to lure them into a trap, Hikaru on the other hand believes him to simply be an idiot lost. Ted on his heavy war horse crosses with just the sounds of creaking wood to make anyone nervous. Thomas crosses without incident. Hikaru's mount, however, falls through the bridge, Hikaru herself only just leaping out of harm's way. Her horse manages to swim to shore a few hundred yards away.

Elves are hated in my campaign, more so than any orc or half breed. Blamed for the near destruction of the world thousands of years ago, ostracized and nearly hunted to extinction. This was done for two general reasons, to deter the over elfenization (one) of my gaming group, and because I don't particularly care for them. The elves were all but erased from the ancient history of the world, only known as those who brought the cataclysm, which goes by many names across the world.

Thomas tosses his rope to Hikaru and Jaj so they may make their way across the broken bridge. Hikaru practices her tightrope act, wavering a bit as she crosses the rope. Jaj first attempts to walk the rope as Hikaru had, quickly abandoning the idea as soon as he steps a wobbly foot on the rope, he then uses an under hang climbing technique to cross the gap in the bridge. Down one horse the group continues on for the day, making camp after a quick hunt turns up a dead boar as the pork's bane, Jaj, trips over it.

The river obviously did not cure any wounds, but the player rolled so poorly I decided he FUBAR'd it and was distracted by a splashing fish when he cast the spell.

The river, which I described as a *horizontal* waterfall, is indeed magical, it just didn't carry Cure Light Wounds. The sad thing is Jaj's player kept thinking it was a vertical waterfall, and had to be told several times with a bit of blunt trauma upon his head that vertical waterfalls are common.

That night Jaj contemplates his rock, casting Detect Magic upon it, when he then makes the discovery that he's sitting next to a river of Cure Light Wounds! After a day's journey the group decides to hunt once again, this time encountering two boars. Gaining surprise over two boars the group launches a volley of crossbow bolts at them. The boars don't seem to like being fired upon as one charges Hikaru, gouging at her abdomen with a tusk, eventually downing her with the help of an errant bolt. Ted fires some good hits, as well as some not so good hits. Hikaru cheats Death thanks to aid from Thomas. Thomas also slings bolts at the boars, along with a whack from his master mace. Jaj fires bolts till his crossbow jams, then wildly flailing his quarter staff when he sees Hikaru fall.

Eventually the group slaughters the boars, splitting up and losing each other along the way. All but Thomas find each other shortly after nightfall, while the cleric camps solo for the night. At daybreak Ted finds Thomas a short distance away and all enjoy some fresh fried hog.

The provider of procine pain perpetrates another poaching of perfectly harmless pigs.

I just wanted to see how much alliteration I could fit into that sentence. Maybe next month I'll try iambic pentameter. After I look up the definition again.

Along the river leading to the cave our adventurers find a tiny water man who directs them to continue down the river. Finally at the cave entrance our heroes find a super deformed devil that amuses them all with it's irate dancing and tiny pitchfork. Ted in turn amuses the imp with his juggling display, which horrifies Hikaru and Thomas who recognize the flasks to be filled with Alchemist's fire. Jaj of course doesn't notice as he's fiddling with his shiny rock.

While voicing the water elemental I realized that I cannot gargle and speak at the same time. So after the water elemental had 'drown' and the group heckled me we took a break to keep me from putting a gelatinous pit trap below them.

Additionally one should never rely solely on the CR of a monster, as designers may forget that special abilities can raise the threat any opponent may be as the case was with the imp. Imps are to my current experience the best example of deceptive CR, with the ability to shrug off damage, resist spells, and regeneration it proved to be more than a match for my first level party. Next time I'll make sure to look out for such things.

Hikaru pulls the absent minded sorcerer from Ted's horse, allowing Ted to let a flask slip and burst over the impish lil scamp. The imp enjoys the show, dancing in the flames. Hikaru attempts to punt the small unnatural creature, which just angers the cute ball of hellish loathing. Jaj, having cleared the jam in his crossbow attempts to fire it again, this time Hikaru's back happens to be in the way of his bolt, dropping Hikaru before she can even cry out 'medic'. Thomas also fires upon the imp, grazing it slightly. The imp growls as it's flaming good time has been ruined by these interlopers. At seeing his Hikaru fall Jaj snaps, crying out 'Hikaru!' as a sudden flurry of Magic Missiles obliterate the minute hellspawn. After seeing the opposition at the cave the group decides to train a bit before entering the cave.

I must remind you that Jaj's player bribes me and I said I'd attempt to keep characters alive till they reached 5th level. Otherwise I would have let Hikaru die, and the new character slaughter Jaj. The picture of a grief stricken, even if he caused it, mage suddenly exploding with magical energy akin to a veritech fighter releasing volleys of missiles just seemed too cool to pass up.

Oh, and I was told to note that I had neglected to read the rules on firing into melee and that is the reason that Jaj turned into a backstabber.

With winter starting to set in, our heroes, heh, set forth into the cavern. Less than a fifty yards in Thomas goes down a pit trap with Ted and the others looking on in amusement. Hikaru lands on the other side of the pit, wobbly legged, but safely. Ted leaps the pit with the greatest of ease. Jaj ends up in the pit as well, thus he and Thomas are hauled out by the other members of the group. After awhile the group crosses a bridge, at Ted's suggestion, without incident.

Loud shouting is heard, thus our heroes look on with a little interest. Two troglodytes are found bickering with a gang of six goblins and their orc leader, who happens to be sporting some severe tan lines, and little in the way of armor. Ted, in his infinite wisdom, decides to juggle some more flasks of alchemist's fire, succeeding in dropping all three at his feet. Ted is aflame!

These tan lines lead the players to assume that the armor he was lacking was the oversized armor that the goblin was sporting a week or two earlier. I wasn't about to correct them. Besides, letting them revisit towns just means less time spent fleshing out new towns and more time figuring out which situation I could put them through is more amusing.

Ted isn't much of a juggler, but I thought it would be neat if they took him as the comedic relief. That is till Jaj decided to steal that role for himself.

Noticing the sudden gout of flames licking at the cavern ceiling the gang attacks our heroes and the troglodytes. Ted eventually puts himself out, then attacks. The orc drops Hikaru to one knee, who retaliates after some healing from Thomas. Thomas summons a badger which goes about glaring at goblins till it enters a staring contest with one. Jaj finds himself outside of the melee, firing bolts into the crowd at every opportunity. A goblin unwittingly commits seppuku. As the battle winds down Hikaru charges a goblin, grunting in surprise as she finds herself with a pierced liver via the surviving troglodyte, and then drops. The last goblin attempts to stab Hikaru, just missing her head and getting his short sword stuck in the ground. This doesn't matter much as the goblin's taken down right after. Hikaru plays ding dong ditch at Death's door, again thanks to the aid of Thomas. Medium rare Ted tosses another flask of alchemist's fire at the last standing foe, burning the troglodyte to death.

Generally when a character 'drops to one knee' it means that the character has very few HP remaining, if any. It signals other characters, both PC and NPC, and in some cases players to act. Not only dramatic, but can often shift the entire tide of battle as they scramble to either preserve or dispatch those nearing death.

End session.

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What do you think?

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