The D&D Sessions

It's been a good three weeks since I last talked about starting our pen and paper D&D campaign and I figured it's about time for a status report. Our first two sessions were played over a couple Sundays with an experienced DM by the name of Eric and his wife Sigrid who was new to the game. She's resisted playing the pen and paper games Eric has enjoyed for so long but since Hoochie is a long time friend of hers she was willing to give it a shot. Also playing is the o­ne many of you know as Gaald from the forums. He's a local friend of mine and has the stubborn personality perfect for the barbarian he decided to play. There were a few times Hoochie's monk had to try and physically restrain Gaald's character to prevent him from doing or saying stupid things. I'm getting ahead of myself though, let us set the stage for our first few sessions in the perplexing world of Dungeons and Dragons.Here is the cast of characters for our little campaign:

Slip Bhiru: Played by myself, Slip is a Half-Elf Rogue who grew up poor during a famine and moved into the forest city with his father after his Elven mother left and his sister was given to monks at a young age. Since his father could not feed both children he choose to give o­ne up rather than see them both starve.

Alia Bhiru: An uptight Half-Elf Monk played expertly by Hoochie, Alia is Slip's estranged sister. She has been ordered to see the world and spend six months at her brother's side despite her protests. Seeing as how Slip is a smart ass thief and she is all about the rule of law and not smiling they make an interesting pair.

Katrin: Sigrid's human Druid is a local who grew up in the city and managed to get assigned to the city watch as the Druid representative. She loves the woods and despises anything and anyone who would dare sully them.

Arodin: This would be Gaald's Half-Elf Barbarian from the north. Growing up in a village constantly under the threat from the mysterious "scourge" Gaald discovered his rage early in life and trained to be a Barbarian to tame it. Traveling to discover the strange sites of the south, Gaald ended up in the city. After a month of doing odd jobs, bouncing at bars and sleeping o­n benches Gaald was drafted by the city watch and made to join the rest of our gang.

So it begins! We are assigned badges as the 304th division of the city watch and sent o­n our first mission. It seems there was an ambush o­n the main road of town and we had to check it out. Before I go o­n I should mention that this city isn't exactly the typical sort of urban sprawl o­ne might expect. It is more of a forest that allows extensive buildings while still maintaining forest status. No o­ne knows exactly who built it or how this system works but it's been around for a few thousand years so who are we to question it?

We set off down the road after taking some statements from the gate guards. As we approached the site of the ambush we could clearly see that a scuffle had taken place. Katrin promptly found the tracks of the ambushers and we prepared to set off to follow them.

"Roll a listen check." Eric said to me.

"16." Something's up.

"You hear a twig snap o­n your side of the road in the bushes."

Now the interesting thing about this game is you constantly have to be thinking about what your character would do. You can't assume anything so if you tell your team there is something in the bushes you're probably yelling it across the road. As everyone turned to move towards me a war cry sounded from where they were standing and we were rushed. A cheap diversion, the oldest trick is the book. We were surprised by their ambush and caught flat-footed. That means the attackers (Kobolds) got a free round of attacks o­n us before we even get to react and roll initiative. Eric is already having fun with the rookies it seems.

After a brief battle full of missing arrows and Gaald splitting Kobolds in two with his giant axe (Eric loves describing that stuff in detail) we finished them off and even managed to keep o­ne alive. I tied the little basted up with a rope check roll of nine and proceeded to question him in Draconic since I could speak the language.

"Why is it you and your recently departed friends are wearing military garb? Very un-Kobold of you"

He says nothing in reply except that they will kill us all. I have a feeling that Eric isn't quite ready to give us any real plot information but I press o­n. He's still doesn't say anything useful so Gaald rolled an intimidate check and made it wet his little pants.

"Do Kobolds have toes Eric?"

"Yeah, three of them"

"Great, I'm going to cut o­ne off" I say.

As I pull out my knife it managed to beat my rope check and proceeded to free itself and run away. Thankfully Gaald's Barbarian runs faster and managed to split him in two. No more questions.

Rather than head back to town we decided to continue following the tracks and see where they led. They eventually brought us to a Kobold camp with about a dozen of the buggers and a few larger surprises waiting for us. The battle took a good hour to do and while Gaald managed to get himself shot full of arrows and brought to something like -18 health we managed to win the day without him. At this point Eric stretched the rules a bit for us since we're still wet behind the ears. He said that we can hit –20 health before dying but o­nly until level three. After that it's back to the standard -10 allowance. Lucky for Gaald! o­nce we got him back o­n his feet we decided to check out the tents.

They're worth noting because the entire area was very military in layout which is completely wrong for Kobolds. Obviously something bigger is calling the shots. While checking o­n the tents Gaald's Barbarian decides he wants to see what's inside o­ne of the locked chests so he raises his axe to smash it open. Hoochie's Monk Alia sees this and fearing a trap she tries a grapple roll to prevent him from doing it. He shakes her off and does it anyways, springing a poison needle trap which fails to work thanks to the axe working its magic. I try to disable the other chest's trap and get a needle in the finger for my trouble so who am I to judge?

This brings us to THE SACK. Hoochie's Monk picked up a bound leather sack from the table and demanded my knife so she could cut it open. I refused to let her touch my weapon and demanded the sack instead. She shoved it into her pack and walked away leaving my Rogue fuming and slightly obsessed. He loves secrets and he has to know what's in the sack, he just has to. I then began Operation Annoy the Monk Until She Gives Me the Sack So I Can Peek Inside. I talked about it all day and as dusk settled our Druid found us a nice place to sleep with a small creek nearby. As Alia the Monk (with her bag strapped to her back) bent over to fill her water skin I made my move. I'm a Rogue after all, I'll steal the damn thing!

"I'm going to try and pick pocket THE SACK from her backpack," I said smugly, knowing I'd get all sorts of bonuses since she was occupied. "I rolled a"… o­ne. sh*t."

Rolling a o­ne is bad, it's stabbing yourself in the foot bad usually. This case was no exception, I might as well have screamed and banged pots together while I was making the attempt. After some squabbling we decided to compromise. She would hold THE SACK and I would cut it open to see what goodies it contained. In my haste to see what was in there I forgot to check for traps. I'm sure Dungeon Masters live for this sort of moment.

"As you cut open the bag a fiery explosion rips through the air and does eight points of damage to both of you. Looking around you can see paper floating in the air and what's left of the sack."

Important documents? Clues? Who knows! All my Rogue got for his trouble was a face full of humble pie and a pissed off sibling. The damage we took before going to bed really made things tense when the Kobold Ninjas attacked that night, we took them out but it was close.

The following day we headed back to town and reported to our captain, a cigar chewing Dwarf with a chip o­n his shoulder. o­nce we were finished I got the hell out of the watch hall since I'm a Thief, Arodin made for the mess hall to eat and our Druid friend left to the grove. What will happen from here? How will the Thief Guild feel about my turn as Johnny Law? Who knows! That's really up to Eric and our own ill-fated decisions.

More happened in just two sessions than I could possibly fit into o­ne article but I hope this has given you an idea of how games like this work. o­ne of the best parts for me is that when I look back o­n an adventure I can picture it in my mind as if I'd just finished reading a good book. Sometimes it's good to give your imagination a chance to extend itself rather than rely o­n game developers to hand everything over to you o­n a silver platter.

Thanks for indulging me and maybe if you guys really piss me off I'll regale you with more tales from our sessions!

- Certis

Comments

Playing these types of games can be lots of fun. I have a friend I have known for over ten years and he's been running the same (super-hero RPG) campaign for that entire time. I play off-and-on (currently in a non-playing mode) and we have stories we talk about even to this day.

It can be a lot of fun, but sometimes you get a real bad apple that can spoil the whole thing with "munchkin-ism" and bad role-playing. Good to hear you don't have this problem.

One question though, shouldn't your Listen check alerted you to the whole ambush? Even though every one else would be caught flat-footed you should have been able to role initiative. I only know the rules from reading the books so I may be wrong on that front.

One other question.... Why did you and Hoochie decide to play siblings? That just seems a little....weird. My wife had only played a few times and we either played people that had never met before or an actual couple. The first characters we made didn't know each other, and it felt a little odd so we were going to try the married thing the next time, but ended up having to put the game on hold to get married in real life. Don't know how it would have worked out...

One question though, shouldn't your Listen check alerted you to the whole ambush? Even though every one else would be caught flat-footed you should have been able to role initiative. I only know the rules from reading the books so I may be wrong on that front.

I wasn't clear, I was on the other side of a 30 foot wide road. My listen check was for that side of it, the ambush came from the opposite end when everyone turned to join me to investigate the noise. They all failed their listen check I think

One other question.... Why did you and Hoochie decide to play siblings? That just seems a little....weird.

It is weird I'll admit. I believe it was Hoochie's idea and I just figured we'd might as well. We wanted to be connected in some way but not as a "couple" like we are in real life. I don't know, we're engaged to be married but we're also very good friends so we didn't really worry about any deep "relationship" issues when we decided to go with it. Really, it's been a lot of fun to play it out so far, she does a great job of playing an uptight character it's hilarious sometimes.

What happened at one point for us was the old "Superheroes fight each other because of a misunderstanding" situation. It was very uncomfortable to be fighting her and end up shooting her in the face with a blast of energy. After that things were fine.

Things like that probably won't happen in D&D so you should be okay. My wife and I are also really close friends so it wasn't a problem otherwise to just be playing two characters who know each other on a "professional" level. It's those odd situations where you are faced with an NPC of the opposite sex that can get a little hairy also. Be careful! Saying that you're just playing "in character" might not be enough.

After NWN and ToEE I cant see playing anything other than a Halfling. They are so tiny and that makes them so adorable.

I dont know it always cracks me up to see the little cute as a button character unleash massive destruction by going postal!

Oh I can't believe you left out the first time Hoochie tried to grapple me and the attempted ambush from behind in the carts in the military tent area.

When we first got attacked on the road in the ambush Certis described I was allowed to do a spot check and managed to notice the markings that were painted on the kobolds face, they were the same as the "scourge" that were so often invading my town I lived in as a child. So I went a little bonkers during that battle as a role playing decision and let loose on the little buggers with little regard for my health. The rest of my group tried to deftly maneuver their way closer to the group of kobolds and because of that I was already working on the second MOB before they even managed to take down the first. Unfortunately for me I had to run after the 2nd Kobold I was trying to kill because he panicked after seeing me cut his buddy in two. So when I got back to where the others were they had finally managed to tie up the 2nd kobold they had gone after. I start walking up to it ready to cut it to pieces but Certis and Hoochie yell at me to stop so that they can question it. I begrudgingly stop and let them do their useless questioning. When the Kobold broke its bonds I immediately went to swing at it before it got away Hoochie tried to grapple me but failed horribly and landed on her ass, as I cut the bugger in two. I was pretty proud of my Barb at that point.

As for the second battle encounter, I had my ups and downs.

It goes like this. I was struck pretty heavily with arrows when we first got into the tent area. So my group had to fight off like 8 kobolds on their own. They managed to get them all and finally were able to heal me out of the minus with some potions they found. So we all began to look around. Slip (certis' character) goes immediately to the carts to make sure he didn't miss anything (he loves the loot) and runs into another 4 kobolds and 2 big ugly officer's.

Slip yells a warning to the group and quickly we are back into battle mode. I run around the carts to flank the enemy and meet up with the two big guys. I knew this could be trouble as I have already been killed once fairly easily with arrows. It seems my AC isn't high enough for the DM to miss me as often as I would like, so I played this encounter a bit smarter.

I put myself between a cart and a tent and face off with both big guys but only one has a clear shot and the other is partially blocked by the cart. I hit the first guy he gets hurt big time but stays up. He in turn gives me a pretty good shot and luckily his buddy misses. I than use my Barbarian rage and waste the first guy on my second stroke. Unfortunately even with rage I still only have like 5 hit points left and a second guy I have to take care of.

At this point the others are still taking down the other 4 kobolds. So I step in front of big guy number two and hit him for a huge amount of damage but he stays up. I smile thinking, no problem now I have this guy easy. Than the DM says. " The beast you are fighting flies into a rage " GULP! I know I am in trouble. He swings at me and whack! I am back on the ground with minus 3 hit points. Luckily the rest of the group has finally gotten rid of the other kobolds and Slip manages to take down the evil barbarian before he got a chance to finish me off.

Needless to say I am having a lot of fun with the D&D so far.

As I pull out my knife it managed to beat my rope check and proceeded to free itself and run away.

Rope check? I don't seem to recall that from any of my pen and paper days. Are you sure your DM isn't messing around with you?

They didn't start getting suspicious until the Soap-on-a-Rope check.

I was already working on the second MOB before they even managed to take down the first.

That part just makes me laugh. Hope you don't go link dead during a die roll...

I don't know why I find that so funny. I'm actually laughing as I type this and it's making it hard to type. I was playing Pen-and-Paper RPGs since I was eight and didn't start my first online PC game until 15 years later, so I've always had to reconcile terms the other way around.

And now I would like to share one of my all-time favorite stories. The names have been omitted to protect my identity...

Before I met my wife I was playing in a game with my friend as DM (who I mentioned earlier) his girlfriend, and a guy who answered our ad in a local comic shop to play. We had been playing together for about 2 months now and we thought we had everything down.

We were out on patrol together, all three of us flying through the city in tight formation looking for trouble when we see this big rectangular skiff-like thing hovering over a bank.

Our friend flew down and landed on the skiff telling the five men there to cease their criminal activites immediately. The DM's girlfriend's character also landed to back him up. I hung back wondering what the hell was going on. We had never seen these guys before and didn't really know who they were.

So they refused to leave and a fight ensued. We managed to knock two of them unconscious when the pilot of the skiff warned that he was going to do "the maneuver" and his buddies immediately grabbed on to the railing screaming "sh*t, don't do it."

So the pilot puts the skiff into a 360 degree horizontal spin which ends when it crashes into the street. The police arrive and take everyone in to take their statments.

That's when the trouble started. The police Sgt. asked us what these "criminals" were doing. No one had a good answer. "They were hovering," said our friend's character, "it looked like they were up to no good."

"But what did they do?" asked the Sgt.

We couldn't say definitely that they had really done anything. When we broke it all down it turned out that we actually did more damage to the city than they did (we knocked a building over in the adjoining park). We ended up going to jail while the other guys were let go.

The DM had an NPC hero post bail for all three of us at which point we were chastised for being so stupid. We managed to get back into the good graces of the police and the city later on when some aliens invaded.

I used to be a DM in the old days. I even had an assistant and did really large parties.

Lots of rules and things have been added since I last played, and I'm currently working on a "Party version" of the game (more on that some other time).

Rope check, no never heard of it.

Another thing I wouldn't have allowed would be a half elf Barbarian. The creature would ethier be so laid back you really couldn't call him a Barbarian, or so wild and crazed you couldn't really call him an elf, even a half elf.

But I'm really old school with this stuff, it just seemed weird to me.

One of my favs was when a party of mine had found an unidentified potion before going into a large battle. One of the members was knocked out and nearly at deaths door, so they decided to try the potion on him to see if they could get lucky.

It was an levitation potion, and the guys unconscious character floated and bumped against the ceiling.

So they tied a rope to his foot and dragged him through the dungeon.

I warned them to please be careful going through doorways or he'd never wake up.

Things like that make a DM smile.

When you are tied up or an NPC is tied up, you can role to see if you can escape the bonds. Apparently Certis and the bunch did a very poor job of tieing up the mob that he was able to get free of the rope and so it tried to run off.

In fact I think Certis didn't even use his rope but instead used a sash our druid had on because he didn't want to cut up his nice long rope he had in his pack. LOL

Rope check? I don't seem to recall that from any of my pen and paper days. Are you sure your DM isn't messing around with you?

When I tied him up the DM had me make a roll while adding my "Rope Skill" which is on the 3.5 character sheets and a class skill for a Rogue. My roll was nine total.

The Kobold had to roll against my rope skill check to see if he could escape. We never saw those rolls of course but there you go. Made sense to me!

I always thought the rope check was to make sure someone had the rope. Ha! Man, I have that rapier wit...
Now, who carried the 10' pole in your group, Certis?

Another thing I wouldn't have allowed would be a half elf Barbarian. The creature would ethier be so laid back you really couldn't call him a Barbarian, or so wild and crazed you couldn't really call him an elf, even a half elf.

I'm with you Ridlin. The thing I don't like about 3rd edition rules is that any race can be any class. It just doesn't work from a roleplaying standpoint.

Now, who carried the 10' pole in your group, Certis?

I call dibs on the pack of wardogs, and the awl pike.

I think a half-elf barbarian isn't that big a deal. There are supposed to be "wild" elves out there, who says they aren't barbarians? Relinquish your petty prejudices and open your minds to the possibilities!

I'm with you Ridlin. The thing I don't like about 3rd edition rules is that any race can be any class. It just doesn't work from a roleplaying standpoint.

We mostly just wanted to all be the same race so it would be easier for remembering rules and modifiers. We are hopeless rookies you know!

Don't listen to them Certis (or you either, Gaald) they are just afraid of change. I always hated the class restrictions and weird level-limits in AD&D and the lack of actual classes for the other races in old D&D. 3rd Edition actually does something right (to me at least) by making all class/levels equal and giving other ways for each race to be unique.

I've played both old rules and new. It's nice to see race combination you never would see before. Dwarf wizards are fun. With the Con bonus after a few levels then can ofter be the 2nd fighter with a good amount of hot points.
Say a Nodwick comic once making fun of the original adventure.
One orc
guarding a 10 by 10 room
with one chest,
Classic

We mostly just wanted to all be the same race so it would be easier for remembering rules and modifiers. We are hopeless rookies you know!

My comment wasn't intended as a criticism of you. I'm just not wild about how the new rules eliminate the familiar race/class restrictions. I'm all for simplicity however and would probably have played all the same race charaters myself (assuming I had the foresight) while learning the game.

I prefer the more open style of 3.x D&D. Having no race/class or race/level restrictions actually makes more sense to me from a roleplaying standpoint.

Sure, elven or half-elven barbarians should be very uncommon. But to say that there couldn't be such a thing? Bah; I don't believe in impossibilities (for the most part).

When I run a campaign, and a player wants to do a very unusual combination (gnome paladin, for instance), I will let them, so long as they come up with a background that has a good explanation for why that gnome became a paladin, or why that half-orc is a wizard, or why their elf is a barbarian.

What this does is get the player to mentally prepare the character, which often leads to more roleplaying possibilities than Half-elf Bard #10038291.

Here's a personal example, one of the more unusual combos I've seen:

Half-orc sorceror: this was years before Neverwinter Nights had their half-orc sorceror NPC. This was one of the first characters I played in 3rd edition. He was a half-orc raised in a primarily human village that had a natural affinity for harnessing arcane powers, but wasn't too smart. Since he was unable to study and harness those powers as a wizard, he instead found himself wielding them without the needed discipline.

To represent how he would never truly be a powerful sorceror, I had him multiclass as a fighter (not a barbarian, as being raised by humans tamed that barbaric tendency of half-orcs), and progress at an equal pace in both classes.

Also, due to his low intelligence, he didn't always use his spells in the most tactically appropriate manner. I also picked "easy" spells for him to have in his repertoire (spells that seem simple, like evocation, some transmutation, some illusion).

He was very fun to play; one of the most classic moments was this: a party member had been hit with a curse that made them appear as a drow. While visiting a dwarven city, this party member was in disguise with the others travelling alongside. When the city watch stopped to question them, Marco (my half-orc) jumped in front of the cursed party member and said "He's not really a drow!" I swear, the rest of the party wanted to kill him. But what else would a good-natured, protective, and rather stupid half-orc do in that situation?

...ahem, anyway, sorry, I just know so many hard-line old-fashioned D&D players who can't stand 3rd edition specifically due to the removal of race/class limitations. Hey, if you don't like it, just don't play it that way. DM a campaign that has your own restrictions.

Thank you for your tale, Certis... it was a very good read... and your story reminds me thats no computer game can be "like the real thing"

In my eyes, a class/race restriction doesnt belong into the core-rules, such restrictions belong into the world supplements. If you play at the Forgotten Realms Swordcoast, an uncivilized (barbarian) elf or half-elf would be a very strange sight... but in the Dragonlance universe for example the warriors of the Silvanesti elfs are wild and in my eyes barbarians.

When i was GM i did exactly like Farscry, if there was a good explanation, every combination was allowed.

Looks like Gorack and I are in the same boat. The Simpler the better. It always seemed to me like D&D has gotten bogged down by the strong need for TSR to sell more books. They kept coming up with new rolls and rules and I didn't feel like staying on top of it all.

The half-elf barb thing is no big deal, it's just a personal preference, and as far as all the new rules go I'm okay with them as long as they don't slow down the pace of the game.

It's the key to being a good DM. PACE. Sometimes you have to throw some rolls out just to keep things moving, and often you make up rolls just to keep people from thinking your out to get them.

Sounds like Certius and Gaald have a good DM.

Thanks for the cool story Certis and Glaad, I look forward to hearing more. It sounds like you guys have a great DM that really brings it together for you.

It's the key to being a good DM. PACE. Sometimes you have to throw some rolls out just to keep things moving, and often you make up rolls just to keep people from thinking your out to get them.

*nods sagely*

Well I'm trying out "modern rules" tonight, so we'll see how that goes. All I now is the setting is "todayish" and the DM is the incredibly brilliant DM i've had for the last...14 years. Wow we've been doing this for a while.

I'll let you know how it goes (assuming people care) and I'll try to remember to post a link to the set of rtf files that you can download for free with all of the core rules for any who are curious. the nice thing about the "d20" or 3rd edition stuff getting an open license is that they tend to post the core stuff so that people can create modules, expansions, etc. for free.

Let us know in the forums how it goes Roo, I'm interested!

So do you all play live or over the internet, i.e. IRC or a comms channel maybe?

To be perfectly honest, sometimes it's good to hear that other people out there enjoy Pen & Paper RPGs. Other than Vampire.