So, time to dust off the keyboard and get back to posting. I'm hoping to build up some momentum so that I can get somewhat regular again. "Blogging fiber" shall we say?
[Aside: Speaking of fiber, has anyone else seen the new television commercial featuring the animated graphic of the purple poo slipping its way through the intestinal tract? ~shudder~ WAAAAY worse than the "blue liquid poured out onto the 'pad' from the glass representation of the female reproductive system" commercials. I'm not even sure what the commercial was advertising. The phrase 'slippy-slidey purple poo' was much used over the holidays in my house, though. End aside.]
So, for New Year's Eve, the kids all clamored to play a little D&D. Several years ago we started a campaign using the WOTC 3.5 Beginner's Box. At the time, it was a convenient way to present the game to them. For those who may have never seen it, it comes with individual Players' Handbooks for each of the four pre-generated characters, explaining basic abilities, stats, equipment, etc. It also comes with some nice map tiles, a set of polyhedral dice, and some basic minis. The basic adventures included are geared to get the characters to 2nd-level and include an encounter with a young blue dragon. (You can read a bit more about the Basic Set at my previous post HERE.)
Unfortunately, we don't get to play as often as I would like (or as often as the kids would like) but we've had some great sessions over the past few years...the most memorable were sitting in our trailer, late at night, in a hidden meadow in the mountains of Idaho. There were some other relatives there in other camps, and all I could think of was how cozy and familial it was to sit there and play, surrounded by my children. That and what shock and horror my conservative relations would feel if they peered in at the windows, blazing with light.
Anyway, I digress. Two year's ago on New Year's we had started playing through Dyson’s Delve. (Again, reference HERE for details of that game.) In the intervening time, the home-made battle mats/maps had been destroyed and lost, I was tired and didn't feel well, so I wasn't up to picking up where I left off. So--and I ask you all to forgive me for this--I used a trite-and-foolish trope: the "wake up in an inn and realize everything that you remember from the last session was a dream." I honestly felt a little dirty about it. But it gave me a chance to use a new map I got just after Christmas (more on that later), an old map from Dragon Magazine of the "Sleeping Dragon Inn." (I got it for half off during the Great Golem Sale in November (again, more on this later).)
Wow. Digressions are afoot this morning.
Cast of Characters
Lanin: elf wizard (17-year-old daughter)
Carn: human rogue (15-year-old daughter)
Regdar: human fighter (13-year-old son)
Dothal: dwarven cleric (9-year-old son)
Hollow's Last Hope, mostly because I had run it before and knew it reasonably well-enough that it would balance out my poor health. The basis of the adventure is a quest to find ingredients to cure a plague infesting the town. Well, Bob and the adventurers were apparently the only ones in the inn that were NOT infected. Bob showed them into a private dining room where they were served breakfast; the kids ran into Bob as they explored the inn. Well, they found him slaughtering the pig in the kitchen, actually. My poor kids weren't quite sure what to do. My oldest boy went and talked to some of the sick townsfolk in the common room while my younger boy proposed to go up and look through some of the other rooms. I had to gently ask him what HE would do if some stranger opened up his bedroom door and started rummaging around. He thought for a moment and then said, "Oh. Right. Umm. Never mind. I'll go talk to Bob too."
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!! (And to my Players: this means STAY OUT.)
Once the kids got their bearings, and got some information about the two healers in the town, they set about on their search. They told me their plan, and I warned them about splitting the party. To no avail: half of them went to the herbalist's shop while the others went to visit the local cleric at the temple. The cleric was ineffectual at healing the plague, so my son's questioning offended the cleric. When they met back up at the herbalist's place, my oldest daughter assumed he had screwed up and went to the temple herself; her meddling made the cleric even MORE upset. Meanwhile, the herbalist told them there were three ingredients she needed--strange ones--and that they could help her by finding them. One was to be found near the oldest tree in the forest, one at an old dwarven monastery to the north, and one at a witch's home deep in the forest. My oldest daughter immediately wanted to split the party and send one group to the old tree and the other to the monastery (which is intended to be the climax of the adventure). I asked her if she was sure, and she replied that it was the most efficient use of time. I decided not to pull my punches; I'd already warned them.
The group heading to the monastery ("Group A") traveled deep into the forest before they had a random encounter: a kobold zombie. My littlest one had the highest initiative roll and immediately charged the kobold. She hit first, then the dog savaged the kobold a bit. Then the other two kids in Group A missed their attack rolls and Zarra attacked with her spear again. Well, I'm a bit proud of myself; the image just came to me. This is what I described to them:
Just imagine a cloud of ice crystals coming up from that turkey, and you'll have it exactly: a partially-frozen, completely rotten kobold zombie being burst open. You cannot imagine the gleeful horror expressed! Oohs, aahs, and "Oh, gross"-es. My littlest one started cackling. I felt like a successful dad at that moment. (They had just seen it before Christmas...I knew the scene had made an impression on them and was still fresh in their minds, so I ran with it.)
Group A made it to the monastery grounds just at twilight where they were attacked by two wolves. They dispatched the wolves fairly quickly, again with the help of the halfling and her doggie. She was definitely the star of the night.
Group B, meanwhile, traveled to a logging camp and endured some verbal abuse from the loggers and the foreman before speaking to a woodsman who knew the locations of the tree they were seeking as well as the witch's home. He drew them a map and promised whatever other help he could give; his nephew is suffering from the plague and he was anxious to help the adventurers find a cure. Shortly thereafter, Group B was ambushed by a bugbear. Our rogue got hurt and broke her bowstring (with a natural 1, of course) while the fighter soon dispatched the bugbear with ease.
And that's where we had to leave it, as it was close to midnight. When we pick back up, Group B is in for a nasty, nasty shock when they run in to one of my new favorite critters. Group A will also have a bad surprise when they meet the current residents of the monastery. In both cases, I think they'll learn the wisdom of keeping the party together. I'm just worried that I'll be looking at a TPK.
I'll give you some updates when we manage to play again. Hopefully by this weekend.
Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.