King Arthur Pendragon

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Greyhawk Campaign - Sessions 1 & 2

Tomorrow I run the third session of our group's campaign set in Greyhawk. I had little time before to write about our first two sessions so I collect my thoughts on this post. We are playing the Keep on the Borderlands, set in Greyhawk, most specifically on the border of Ulek and Pomarj. The group was Edralas (half-elf fighter/magic-user), Areth (human ranger), Lyriel (elf thief), Eric (human cleric) and Shivar Vir (a human monk). I say was, because they players changed from the first to the second session, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The group approached the gates of the Windark fort, a lonely keep, on the mountains that border Pomarj. The guards observed the group as they approached, crossbows at the ready. Someone demanded their identification and purpose. I always ask the players to introduce their characters by saying their names and describing what the others see. After introductions were made, the portcullis was slowly raised and the gate slowly lowered to bridge the gap between the road and the keep. Inside they were greeted by a rather gruff dwarf with a eye-patch and plate mail, called Gwyron, and a slim and tall human with a tunic and hood and white beard, the scribe Master Edwyn, who registered each of the character's names in a book. After handing over their weapons that are strictly forbidden inside, Gwyron warned the characters to keep on their toes as the guard wouldn't tolerate violence or crimes of any sort.

The group was directed to the local inn, The Black Rooster, owned by a cheerful fellow called Rolo. The characters were forced to accept lodgings in the common room as they were low on coins After that they explored the keep and the tavern, The Royal Retreat. Although it was a rather uncomfortable place with a low ceiling, the guards on leave were happily drinking away their hard earned pay. There were other costumers, among them a rather unsavory fellow who didn't like elves and tried to sell his sword to the group by trying to persuade them that they were better off without the Lyriel, and a merchant - Redoc - who had been attacked outside the keep by goblins. He had lost all his goods and hands, including his brother, and he was looking for people to rescue his brother. This seemed like work and the players decided to purchase equipment and explore the wilderness. Since this is a sandbox of sorts, I never once guided the players. They were free to roam however they wanted and do whatever they wanted within the confines of the area.

They picked up a few rumors on the keep, mainly about some caves of chaos where, some said, lived all manner of beasts (orcs, goblins, hobgoblins and kobolds). No one knew where the caves where as the region was too wild and the keep so undermanned that they didn't have enough men to do a thorough search. There was also a rumor of a beautiful maiden imprisoned in the caves.

The group started their exploration from the point where the caravan had been attacked, some distance away. Eventually, they entered the surrounding forests. The ranger player wanted to follow the goblin trail but no tracks were seen so the thief player had the idea of climbing a tree and checking their surroundings. They noticed a thin column of smoke rising from the northwest. They followed it and entered a clearing with a tall oak in the center. Someone was moving inside the oak and a mountain lion was lazily sleeping on a branch. An old, haggard man confronted them, rambling about lost crops and Mielikki (whom the characters recognized as goddess of the forest). Eventually he became violent, believing the group wanted to steal his treasure and food. We had our first taste of combat but the thief played it cagey (she has only 3 hp) and decided to search the inside of the tree. Perhaps she could barter with his treasure. She eventually stole his coins but decided to return them when the group finally subdued the old hermit and released him when he was calmer. He was so incoherent that they could not find anything about their surroundings or the goblins. They decided to walk to the east in the direction of some rock outcroppings.

At this point, the monk player left for personal reason so I ruled he had been killed during the combat by the hermit, but a human fighter - Sidimatus - joined them. He literally ran into them on his way to the fort. After some brief negotiations, they decided to join forces.

The group eventually left the woods and made camp in the rock outcroppings. Night was quickly falling. They took turns on watch. A wise decision as they were attacked by a group of wandering kobolds. I previously agreed with the players that whenever they would say something would happen, it would happen. For instance, when entering a dungeon, if no one says he's drawing his weapons, then when combat occurs, he still has to drawn them. In this case, the kobolds noticed the light campfire and weren't surprise. There was a quick combat that showed the players how deadly and gritty combat can be on the lower levels. Lyriel and Sidimatus fell to the creatures' blows. Fortunately, in AD&D one doesn't die when they reach 0 hit points, so the group's cleric stabilized them until he could study his Cure Light Wounds spells and cast them (he had previously spent them during the combat with the hermit).

The group returned to the keep where they were forced to rest for a full week. So, they spent this time interacting with the locals. Sidimatus, in particular, showed a great deal of interest in the local chapel dedicated to Obhalan, god of warriors, soldiers, explorers. The player is playing his character like a sort of barbarian-like fighter with an intense curiosity in other cultures. Redoc, the merchant, was none too happy that the group had to spend so much time recovering, so he decided to seek help elsewhere. The group also met Rogobar, a scholar, who was seeking artifacts from an ancient culture that supposedly occupied the entire Pomarj peninsula and parts of the wild coast. He had a small book of notes with ancient maps of the area that the group was interested in (perhaps they could pinpoint the location of the caves of chaos using old references). Lyriel pilfered the book but then Rogobard decided to show them his notes. When he found the book missing, hilarity ensued. The group denied having stolen the book, the guards were brough in. It all ended when Lyriel disposed of the book in a corner of the room and Rogobar found it. He was confused so he suspected the characters but he had no proof. On the other hand, he was rightly confused so he he wasn't sure if the book had been stolen or lost.

Finally, the group decided to enlist the help of some locals. They learned of a like-minded cleric who was staying at the inn with his acolytes. His name his Tivor and he showed a great deal of interest in the caves of chaos. He immediately asked to join the group with his two acolytes in fighting the creatures. Thus the session ended with the players happy with their new found ally.
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