Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cormyr Campaign: Session 1

As I have mentioned in previous posts, this past Friday I finally got the chance to sit around the table to play some AD&D with my old gaming buddies for the first time in many years.  We ran 2e, but more or less I run a hybrid of 1e and 2e.  The campaign is set in the Forgotten Realms in the northeastern part of Cormyr in a city called Tilverton.  I chose this spot because it sits along the border of the kingdom and for all intents and purposes is still very much a frontier town in an otherwise stable kingdom.
Some Realms purists may note I took a bit of liberty with the NPCs and factions here in order to make things more intriguing for my players.  For example, Tilverton is the only major city in Cormyr with a thieve's guild inside its walls.  The Purple Dragons have a garrison 850 men strong (considerably high for most cities and towns in the kingdom) in order to quell raids by the "border raiders" in the Stonelands region adjacent to the city.  The Stonelands themselves are an area rife with goblins, orcs, ogres, and brigands, not to mention the Zhentarim, so a strong military presence is required in order to keep the peace in the region.  As such, the posting here by a Purple Dragon soldier is a very dangerous one compared to most other postings in the kingdom.  So, I decided to add a bit of a twist here with many of the Purple Dragon soldiers, including the garrison commander, being "on the take" from the thieve's guild, aka the Rogues of Tilverton.  The Rogues provide the soldiers with a little extra money on the side to turn a blind eye to their underground actvities, of which there are many.  The logic behind this being, due to the danger of the posting at this garrison, many of the soldiers feel they deserve a little something "extra" to compensate for putting their necks on the line in a region filled with danger and strife.  Of course, when the game begins, the players don't know this.
Cast of characters:
Sir Bryndan Lowman of White Forks - Human, Fighter, 1st level.  A hedge knight from the nation of Cormyr.  His family squandered away all of his lands and holdings so all he has left is his title.
Kylar - Elf, Ranger, 1st level
Clangar - Dwarf, Fighter/Cleric, 1st level
Maverick - Half-elf, Thief, 1st level
Solaris - Elf, Thief/Mage, 1st level
Myst - Human female, Mage, 1st level
Sylana - Human, female, Bard, 1st level
Session 1 Summary:
The PC's enter the city, and are directed by the Purple Dragon soldiers at the gate that the best inn in town is Grimwald's Revenge in the oldtown section.  The PC's one by one made their way to the inn.  The patrons in the inn don't look to be travelers at all, and seem to be a bit on the shady side.  They PC's pay for their rooms and sit down to enjoy some dinner when one of the men in the inn approaches them each individually asking them if they want to play in a card game with he and two of his friends.  Solaris, Kylar, and Sylana accepted the offer to play, while the others chose not to.  The other PC's who did not play in the card game, received some free ale courtesy of a strange man in the corner of the inn.  The PC's who were not playing, go over to talk to the gentleman kind enough to buy them a drink. 
During the game, Sylana, the bard, attempted to cheat using a sleight of hand cantrip, and was caught, which caused quite a ruckus.  The local and his two friends stood up, along with just about everyone else in the inn, expecting a fight.  They put their hands to their daggers, but the bard, who did not win the game despite cheating, managed to talk her way out of a fight.  After the game, each of the party members ended up sitting together with the strange man in the corner of the inn.
The man introduced himself as Lasander Highmoon of Arabel, and owner of the Red Sun Trading Coster.  He tells the party that Grimwald's Revenge is not safe, and that they should seek out another inn in town called the Whispering Witch.  He agrees to meet them there after one hour.  One by one, the PCs slowly filter out of Grimwald's met with stares by the locals in the inn.  After a while, they all meet up at the Whispering Witch where Highmoon tells them Grimwald's Revenge is actually a front, and is in truth the headquarters of the Rogues of Tilverton.  The Rogues pay the Purple Dragons working the gates to send any adventurers and mercenaries they see entering the town to the inn.  This allows the Rogues to measure up any threats, and deal with them if need be.
Highmoon goes on to tell the party that he was on a journey from Arabel to the Moonseas with his wares when he was met upon the road by brigands who stole his goods.  These brigands were actually members of the Rogues, he later found out, and after some information gathering, he was able to determine that the Rogues had his wares in an abandoned warehouse in the city.  He is willing to pay the party 1,000 gold pieces (Gold Lions) to retrieve his wares from the warehouse.
The party, seeing an opportunity to make a good amount of coin, agree to the mission.  Highmoon takes them into the city and shows them the warehouse, which appears to be completely abandoned and boarded up from the outside.  Some of the party members pay attention to the area trying to spot guards or spotters for the Rogues, of which they find none.  Highmoon tells the party there are three ways into the building; the front door, a sewer access route which the Rogues use to transport their stolen goods and sell them in the sewers in the black market, and a small access door on the roof of the structure.
After discreetly casing the warehouse, they all go back to the Whispering Witch Inn to formulate a plan.  Solaris, however, stays behind to further case out and investigate the warehouse.  After deciding on a plan (or not deciding as it were), the party came back to the warehouse.  At this point, Maverick, using his infravision, was able to spot a figure on top of the warehouse, but could not make out any details.  This figure was Solaris, who was now on the roof.  Solaris dropped a rope down the side of the warehouse in an alley so the party could ascend to the roof.  Maverick sees the rope, but no one else in the party was able to notice.  Maverick decided not to pass this information onto the party.  Instead, they go to the front door of the warehouse, and attempt to listen in.  They hear nothing, and after a few moments, Maverick rattles the doors gently and whispers.  He does this several times, until finally he hears footsteps inside the warehouse approaching the door.
Kylar, standing back with his bow ready, notices a small slot open in the window adjacent to the door, and after a few seconds it closes again.  In the meantime, Solaris, thinking the rest of the party is coming up the rope to back him up, decides to open the access door on the roof.  In doing so, he is unable to avoid the door squeaking, and he opens it to find 5 men sitting around a table in a room below.  Hearing the door open they look up, but are caught off guard.  Solaris casts a sleep spell knocking out 4 of them.  The other, a mage, attempts to cast a sleep spell on Solaris, not realizing he is an elf.  Solaris resists the sleep spell and tumbles into the room.  The mage wins the initiative, and attempts to cast a spook spell on Solaris, which again fails.  Solaris misses his attacks the next round, and the mage turns to run away.  He manages to get away, and Solaris slits the throats of the other 4 men in the room.
Meanwhile, down at the front door, Clangar and Bryndan decide to bash the hinges off the door.  Clangar was successful in doing this, bringing the door halfway from the door frame.  He ripped the rest of the door down, and the group entered a long horizontal hallway.  Back inside the warehouse, Solaris is finishing off the last of the 4 he put to sleep when the mage returns, this time with 2 of his friends armed with crossbows.  Solaris attempts an escape up the ladder to the access door, but the men fire shots from their crossbows.  The bolts are laced with poison, and Solaris fails his saving throw, and falls unconscious.
After ripping to door down at the front of the warehouse, the rest of the party suddenly hears a bell ringing within the warehouse, and decide to retreat back to the inn.  They arrive back at the inn to find Highmoon, stunned to see them back so soon, and of course, without his wares in tow.  He tells the party that the Rogues will most certainly be moving the stolen goods in the warehouse through the sewers and into the black market after this botched attempt to raid the place.  The party, fearing to traverse the complex network of tunnels in the sewers instead learn from Highmoon that there is an access tunnel from the Stonelands that leads into the sewers underneath the city.  This tunnel is used to transport stolen goods from the black market by the goblins and border raiders in the Stonelands.  Not knowing where this tunnel is, the party decides to go into the Stonelands to find the tunnel and attempt to take back the wares.
Meanwhile, after a bit, Solaris wakes up to find himself bound in a chair with 3 men in the room, one standing directly behind him.  One of the men, apparently senior to the other 2, begins to interrogate Solaris.  Solaris attempts to convince them that he was working alone, and was trying to display his worth in an attempt to join the guild, to which the interrogator scoffs.  He knocks Solaris back out and orders him thrown into a cell.
Highmoon sneaks the rest of the party out of the city in the back of a cart, and tells them he will meet them in a small village south of Tilverton in one week.  If they fail to bring the wares in one week, the deal is off, and he will have to move on to other options.  That night, the party entered the Stonelands and set up camp.  The next day after essentially walking aimlessly in the Stonelands for half a day, Kylar scouts ahead and discovers a trail with recent wagon tracks leading west away from the direction of the city.  The party decides to follow this trail for a while with Kylar scouting ahead.  After some time, Kylar discovers a goblin ambush party situated near the road ahead and reports this back to the party.  The party engages the band of 6 goblins and defeats them.  Myst managed to put 3 of the goblins to sleep with a color spray spell, and after the battle, Maverick slits the throats of the 3 remaining goblins.  It was here that we ended our first session.
Reflections on the first session:
I noticed several things the party did wrong, specifically Maverick, which did not make sense to me.  Upon the initial raid on the warehouse, he saw the rope come down, and chose not to investigate or even tell anyone else in the party.  He was simply metagaming because he knew out of character that it was Solaris that dropped the rope.  Why he chose to ignore this, is beyond me.  The next gaffe came on the goblin ambush in the Stonelands, which was really nothing more than a random encounter.  The party knew that goblins used the tunnel access point to get into the sewers, but they had no idea where the tunnel was or how to find it.  One would think it a good idea to capture and question one of the goblins they had managed to put to sleep.  Instead, Maverick chose to slit their throats.  So, now when we pick back up, they will still be roaming around in the Stonelands, which are vast, looking for a tunnel in which they haven't the slightest clue where it might be and is likely hidden from plain view anyway.
It was an odd session to say the least.  I was expecting an extreme manner of caution when approaching the warehouse and they all were fairly careful in how they approached the situation.  I touched upon this in my previous post, Why Not 4th Edition, but a major difference in that game and old school DnD is game balance.  In 4th edition, the players know that whatever challenge they face, they have an opportunity to defeat the enemy, succeed in their skill challenges, and effectively "win" the scenario.  In old school DnD, that is not always the case, and most of my players know this because most of them (with the exception of Maverick, Myst, and Solaris) have been playing old school DnD for years.  In old school DnD, you can't simply bust in the front door and expect to win every fight, because you never know what's on the other side of that door.  After breaking the door down, and hearing the warning bells, one of the veteran players immediately yelled out to run.  Knowing when to run is just as important as knowing when to fight in old school DnD.  After the botched raid, they were all commenting on how epic of a fail it was, while I simply reassured them, no, you're still alive.
It was still a lot of fun to sit around the table again. The players were really into it, although they obviously had some tactical issues with raiding the warehouse. Most of all I noticed no one really seemed to want to take charge, and make a decision the party could agree with. Still yet, we are planning on playing again next month, so I look forward to playing and updating on their antics.