DDN Playtest Session 1

In which a party is assembled and Quests undertaken

Many Routes

The Set-Up

B’Riddick, our guide, turns to us, smirking evilly.

“You lucky sods! I’ve guided you safe through the Underdark and here we are in BlingdenStone. You’ll be bound to find <ahem> good works to do here – no shortage of my folk in need of a helping hand. Heh heh heh.

“Say, if you want me to guide you out, I’ll be around. Just make sure you have plenty of the readies by the time you want to get out to anywhere… heh heh heh.”

The bald-headed, white-eyed Deep-Gnome smirks again and wanders away.

The Party

“We four seem to be the survivors of B’Riddick’s ‘guidance’” the stocky, dark-haired paladin remarks, stating the obvious. “Let us re-introduce ourselves to one another and then decide how to proceed.”

½-Jack Quickfoot, Halfling Rogue

St8 Dx17 Cn14 In12 Wi10 Ch14. ½-Jack struggles under the weight of studded leather armor, two short-swords and a shortbow and quiver. His demeanor is cocky and assertive.

Notes: The pregen.

“Banjo” Carrick Naido, Elf Mage

St8 Dx14 Cn14 In17 Wi12 Ch10. “Banjo” Carrick carries a banjo, which he plucks incessantly, and a Longbow and quiver are slung over his skinny shoulders. A short-sword is strapped to his belt. His demeanor is self-deprecating but cocky.

Notes: The pregen, tweaked to be musical with a change in Lores to Hobby-Music, dropping Planar.

Brother Abram Gaunt, Cleric of Tempus

St17 Dx9 Cn14 In11 Wi17 Ch13. Br Abram is armored in chainmail and bears a sturdy mace. His demeanor is curtly assertive but not rude.

Notes: The pregen, minus a couple of bits of equipment and swapping out domain for a militant one.

Martel “Hammer of Justice” Guerra, Paladin of Tyr

St14 Dx14 Cn14 In14 Wi14 Ch14. Guerra is armored in scale and is thoroughly fitted out with a shield and numerous weapons. Two packs and a packed-down net limit his movement. His demeanor is confident and determined.

Notes: A fully built, point-buy human paladin, using class and background notes as a guide for what gear and lore may be appropriate.

[Player remarks:

Generation using Class and Background seemed very easy and fair, and swapping bits of gear or background/lore out is also easy and fair.

Notes on Lore: Players communicated their picks so that a spread of Lore was assured to some extent but no special strategizing was employed.

Notes on Equipment: The Longsword feels “right” and making it and the Bastard Sword the same thing also seems very sensible. Some missile ranges are “wrong” – for example, the dagger has a maximum range of 120′ which would be well outside what even the world’s greatest knife-throw act could do; and its effective range of 30′ also seems double what it ought to be.  The only Class equipment that appeared “wrong” is the blanket proficiency with Longsword for all rogues. I would place this as a background proficiency option for the Thug, allowing rogues that choose this background to swap a sneaky proficiency for Longsword.

End remarks]

In Quest of Quests

Having rearranged some of the gear – Br Abram carries Guerra’s spare pack – we walk on to the first cavern.

BlingdenStone – or the remains of it – is a perimeter held by battered Deep-Gnome guards, inside which a half-dozen or so large caverns are inhabited by Deep-Gnomes struggling to reclaim their ancient kingdom. We note there are a good many exits, all proper worked stone passages that were once pathways through the Deep-Gnome realm, and all guarded.

The first cavern we come to contains a pool of fresh water. Having watched Banjo Carrick drink safely, we fill our water-skins there, while the more outgoing of us talk to an aged widow who is trying to knock her Phantasm shop (for magic components) into shape.

Quest prompts:

  • Orc raiders – raid

  • Evil elemental – sends elemental attackers

  • The Weapons Trade – Pech weaponsmiths may know something about the Elemental

  • Kargian’s ambition – Burrow Warden Kargian has ambitions, wants the ancient crown

[Player Remarks:

Were checks needed to discover quest threads? No.

Is this a problem? Maybe. The set-up requires that both Gnomes and Adventurers have ‘positive’ attitudes to one another, so there should be no difficulty talking to a shopkeeper. But with no check, players have no way of evaluating which the widow thinks is a real problem and which is routine grumbling.]

End remarks]

We walk through to the largest cavern, “Central” and spot Kargian [Notice checks] as we look over a major building [Int check to work out what it could be]. Guerra encourages Brother Abram to speak to the Deep-Gnome, and ½-Jack joins in.

Quest prompts:

  • Kargian’s ambition: the evil is located in the old House Center and he wants the crown that is likely to be there.

Guerra asks, “Are there bounties on these orcs?” to which Kargian shakes his head, saying “No, we kill these foul usurpers of our realm when they attack, but don’t go seeking them.”

“If we do track down the crown and bring it back, where’s the king for us to give it to?” ½-Jack asks. He is suspicious of Kargian: [Wisdom check] Kargian has his own ambitions he decides, suspecting that the Burrow-Warden intends to become king.

[Notice] Kargian wears a fine gold pendant with an Emerald set in it.

We bargain with Kargian (Guerra seems keen on settling matters formally with bounties and expenses) but Kargian merely promises that we will be shown hospitality while in BlingdenStone and that whatever we loot is ours, except for the crown. We tentatively agree to try for the crown once we are ready. We assure ourselves that plenty of other Deep-Gnome bystanders hear the verbal contract to allow us to keep everything we find, save the crown itself.

[Player remarks:

Were checks needed to secure quests? No.

Is this a problem? No. In terms of bargaining, both sides are positive to one another. There may be disagreement about final terms but a check would not change this, so should not be required.

End remarks]

We walk south to a cavern dominated by barracks where Deep-Gnomes are resting off-duty; and by the ruins of the Singing Stones tavern. Its proprietor is a bard. Guerra encourages Carrick to speak to him and attempts to restrain ½-Jack, who so far has inserted himself into every conversation.

“This was once my fine tavern,” Gurmadden Stonesinger explains, “but I won’t be able to rally a singalong until I get my stone back-up singers!”

Quest prompts:

  • Singing Stone Recovery: Stones, or crystals, with the magical property the bard needs, are to be found in WyrmWrithings to the south-east. He will pay 10gp per stone, up to 6 stones. The area is the domain of kobolds.

  • Get a pick, otherwise you won’t be able to get the stones.

[Notice] The bard wears a fine signet ring with a ruby in it. We agree to recover stones.

[Player remarks:

Was any Lore required? No. Is this a problem? Maybe. Singing Stones are unusual enough that one of several Lore checks might have been useful.

End remarks]

We walk east to a cavern where a Deep-Gnome priest is tending seven standing stones arranged in a circle. Or at least, the largest and most obvious number seven. Guerra encourages Brother Abram to speak to him and attempts to restrain ½-Jack, who still managed to insert himself into the previous conversation.

“These are the Speaking Stones,” explains Pingtu the Priest. “But last time I tried to use them to get my old master to explain why they don’t work properly I was interrupted by a raid and they just muttered a bit.”

“Why that’s simple then,” exclaims Brother Abram, “We’ll guard you while you do that!”

Actions:

Banjo Carrick [cantrip/cantrip/cantrip] lights three stones and uses them as beacons at each nearby exit;

Guerra asks Br Abram to ready the bullseye lantern and it is readied in case ½-Jack needs to light it.

Spare gear is laid down.

All ready for action, Pingtu communes with his dead master.

Quest prompts: Speaking Stones quest

  • 7 bright stones – collect all 7 to make a set!

  • 7 arms (meaning weapons of the Drow that died when the master did) – break all 7 to make a smash hit!

  • Do Kargian’s quest to gain the emerald; do Gurmadden’s quest to gain the ruby.

  • Get a hammer; otherwise you won’t be able to break the arms.

There are also 7 sweet prayers required – leave that to Pingtu, he says. “Why, then, all we need to do is collect some gems. What kind?” asks Guerra. “We are all taught the tenets of seven gem kinds,” Pingtu explains, and reels them off. “I have an aquamarine already,” he adds. “And we can get a ruby off the bard and an emerald off Kargian,” ½-Jack proclaims.

We discuss ways to convince Gurmadden and Kargian then ask where Pingtu thinks the Drow weapons might be. “They got moved from where my master was tortured; maybe under the Ruby on the Rough over in Central?” he guesses.

We walk north, passing by some relatively quiet areas until we reach Fendrick Pestle’s store. This Deep-Gnome is gloomily tending his lackluster business.

We all speak to him and discover that business has been badly affected by a lack of merchandise: the Pech weaponsmiths, north-east of here in the old Armorers and Weaponsmiths Guild, are no friends to the Deep-Gnomes and though gems are available to trade, no weapons are forthcoming.

Quest prompts:

  • The Weapons Trade – requires some subterfuge as the Pech cannot discover who is bankrolling the trade.

  • Singing stone recovery: Fendrick has a pick.

As the trader pauses, Banjo Carrick asks, “Do you know anything of the seven weapons of the Drow, that were supposedly buried along with the old priest?” “Why, I think I might have them, stashed out in the secure lock-up,” Fendrick replies.

As he leads us there he pauses: “The lock’s bust and there’s no guard…”

Actions:

The team generally readies itself, lightening loads where need be. ½-Jack hides [Expertise] behind Guerra.

A group of kobolds, sensing they have been discovered, bursts from the lock-up. [Notice] One is noticeably larger than the others and wears scraps of chainmail. Otherwise they are similarly armed with knives.

Initiatives:

  • ½-Jack
  • Gnomes
  • Guerra
  • Carrick
  • Kobolds
  • Abram

Round 1: ½-Jack Readies: his cue will be a melee attack on Guerra, at which point he will attack. Fendrick hurries towards the shed, hollerin’ for the tunnel guards. Guerra throws one javelin at the kobold leader and misses, narrowly. Carrick walks beyond his companions and unleashes a thunderclap of sound [Thunderwave: cube 15’ on a side]! All kobolds and Fendrick are hurled back into or against the lock-up; only Fendrick and the leader appear to be alive after the shockwave passes! The kobold leader charges Carrick, but misses his swing. Abram thumps forward, swinging his mace, but misses the kobold.

Round 2: ½-Jack dashes out and attacks the kobold [Sneak attack] missing [luck trait activated by rolling a 1 but still misses]. Guerra draws out his net and advances, calling “take him alive!” Carrick thrusts his hands out and sparks leap across the kobold’s chest [Shocking Grasp: Dex save, effect fails]. Surrounded, the kobold flees [disengage then move]. Abram thumps after him, catching him up but missing his swing.

Round 3: ½-Jack dashes lightly after the fugitive, but again misses. Guerra also pursues, flinging the net which snags on a piece of gear and falls at his feet. Carrick sights and unleashes a blue-white ray [Ray of frost: 50’ range attack] which kills the kobold outright. Abram hurries to Fendrick and ensures he remains alive [Spare the Dying as Fendrick was on zero hp].

Guerra compliments Carrick on the power of his spellcraft, and ½-Jack on keeping to the agreed tactics (even though ½-Jack had gotten riled by Guerra assuming he could ordain tactics).

[Combat notes: Cantrips are at-will casting and there is no limit, which appears to grant a Mage too much power as, for example, Ray of Frost will do 1d8 damage, escalating as levels progress [L5/L10 etc]. Compare the at-will Ray of Frost to L1 Magic Missile, where damage is 3x(d4+1) but a higher slot is required for damage progression. Also compare the at-will, no limit, cantrips to “booking required” higher spell levels.

Sneak attack worked fine.

Spell in melee range: Opportunity attack was missed: may need to make a simple summary of what a character can do engaged vs not engaged.

No minis used: combat sped up as a result but Halfling was uncertain where to position. This could matter in larger melees.]

(Unseen, Br Abram heals Fendrick. “Don’t tell the others,” he cautions.)

We leave Fendrick with no assurance that we are able to follow up on his trade idea. ½-Jack thinks it workable, if the two humans act as guards, Carrick pretends to be a merchant, and he does the talking. But Abram has serious doubts.

With the pick, and a hammer for breaking the weapons, and a crate of weapons weighing down the obliging paladin, we walk to the north-west caverns and find a field surgery has been set up in the Traders Grotto. A Deep-Gnome priestess or similar is tending wounded guards. Again, Br Abram steps up to open the conversation. Her name is Giless. Abram is physically restrained when he giggles “Gelat’nous?” and tries to poke her.

Quest prompts:

  • Orc raiders: Confirmed that any business with orc raiders is reactive. They may inhabit the same area that the evil elemental does. An idea of numbers is gained.

  • Singing Stone Recovery: Further ideas on Wyrm Writhings such as a guide being required.

[Notice] Guerra notices a gemstone of some kind is waste material from the surgery plaster-crafting. We learn that these citrines are to be found in the Wym Writhings. That’s another gemstone down, only three to locate.

After Br Abram assists with the more seriously wounded, it is time for a short rest: we walk all the way back to the Singing Stones ruin, and inform Gurmadden we will be leaving on his quest, and rest. Banjo Carrick re-learns his Thunderwave spell.

[Player remarks:

Short rest is an area where GM may have more discretion than intended. Players may ret-con what they did, in hindsight.

End remarks]

We are now ready to explore to the south-east, where Wyrm Writhings lies, and where we may find singing stones (and citrines, apparently). In the interval, a guide named Milgan the Scout has learned of our mission and presents himself. The passages lead through a labyrinth, he assures us, and we will need him there and back. [Wisdom check] He seems trustworthy though odiferous.

[Player remarks:

Wisdom check “Sense Motive” is worded very broadly and may be extending wider than intended. That is, per description, it can be used to fully read an NPC’s character, regardless of whether they are deliberately attempting to lie. This in turn cramps the GM as to what they can legitimately conceal. Think “The Mentalist” vs. an ordinary person’s ability with body language.

End remarks]

Guerra suggests that party order place Milgan at the front, though with instructions to drop back immediately any danger presents. Guerra then Br Abram will be next, Banjo Carrick last, and ½-Jack can move freely through any of them but will notionally stay around the middle. This is accepted. Carrick decides to map, just in case Milgan is one of those “bribe demanded half way” guides, or in case he dies.

We trek approximately a kilometer, at last arriving at an area where Milgan is much more cautious. Readying equipment, we begin entering a cavern, shaking out into looser order.

[Notice] No-one gains sufficient warning of hiding foes.

Surprise round:

[Dexterity check] As net drops Guerra fails, Abram and ½-Jack OK, Carrick and Milgan not in range.

Kobolds advance screaming war-cries!

They are quickly dispatched over the next two rounds, though they do cost the Mage a Magic Missile and two arrows. “My tally is eleven now,” Carrick boasts cockily. “I did ask that you take that last one a prisoner,” Guerra chides gently. “He was no danger to us and could have told us more about our goal.” “Meh,” Banjo Carrick shrugs, retrieving his banjo.

Session Notes:

Having just come off the back of six sessions of Dark Heresy, a lot of the action felt familiar. Action and Reaction and Readying are identical to DH as far as I can tell. Movement during a round seems sensible though may be prone to abuse without a battle-map and minis.

There are some warnings flags on the field but so far it all seems clear and straightforward.

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About andrewmclaren26

Weekly Roleplayer, Wargamer when I can
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