Return to Undermountain, Pembs Style!
GM’s Perspective on the First Session – GM Jamie D
Well, it was certainly an interesting one, I’ll give it that! Who would have thought that an hour of game time (within the dungeon, anyway) would be so hectic! Still, I’ll deal with this in order.
So far, both Chris and Paul have developed their backgrounds, and Paul’s is quite amusing. Chris’ will give me a chance to introduce a new NPC, maybe a side quest, and we’ll see how the others do. Alignment wise, There have already been some infractions, but nothing worth whacking an alignment change on yet. The party mechanics have also proved interesting, as this unlikely quad (split right down the middle on worship and outlook) have made some very intriguing choices regarding leadership and dynamics. But to the summary!
Pre-Dungeon: The party enters the Yawning Portal Inn, where the thief immediately starts looking for loose purses in the crowd (and wisely demurs, when he notes the only one that looks loose is actually cunningly tied so as to alert the owner… a big burly dwarf… that it’s been taken.)
Most of the party quickly befriends the owner, Durnan, due to their wit and cunning in defeating the party bard’s attempt to get out of buying a full round, and their taste and discernment in ordering both elverquisst (the thief) and Gutbuster brew (Dwarves). Serafine is also accosted by a fellow bard, who tells them of a lady selling maps to the dungeon level… in the dungeon level. The party discusses this pre entry, and comes to the conclusion that it’s a trap of some sort. They then proceed to pay Durnan, and enter the well, accepting the Blessing from his wife. Timing begins from here.
0:00 – The party reaches the bottom of the Entry Well. They spend the next 5 minutes looking at the graffiti, and a one-way secret door. They decide to move on. The lighting is currently provided by Tordek’s Light , cast on his warhammer.
0:05 – The party then hears goblins behind a wall. The rogue of the party checks out the secret door.
0:06 – After much discussion and fiddling with the secret door, the door is slammed open by the goblin ambush party (8 fighters, one leader), catching the Rogue by surprise, and injuring him before combat begins by the means of opening the door in his face.
0:07 – The goblins, with the exception of the leader, have been slaughtered, as the party had surrounded the door prior to combat, and, with the exception of the rogue being unconscious (from combined head and chest trauma, from door and morningstars respectively), are unharmed. The first potential alignment violation comes in here, as the two CN players discuss the merits of using goblin limbs as torches. With only a little prompting, the LG dwarves veto the idea as desecration of the dead. Torches are made from a campfire, and the thief searches the bodies and keeps the coin portion to himself while nobody’s looking. Fighter suspects, but can do nothing. A wand of silence is also recovered, and is duly handed to the cleric. Wishes are expressed by the party that it is to be used on the bard, despite his song having had a minor positive impact on the combat. 1 torch, carried by the bard, is now the method of lighting.
0:18 – The party comes across the “map seller” and her bodyguards. The dwarves are restrained by the other pair, as the bodyguards happen to be Bugbears. the map is declined, and she wanders south, after Tordek and Grussk (Bodyguard B) exchange insults. The decision is taken to follow the goblin, who is assumed to have gone north, toward what appears to be his tribe’s territory. Another discussion on “slaughtering the tribe” occurs, but the party moves north, the CN Cyric worshippers having deceived the LG dwarves into believing it is just to do so.
0:20 – The party comes across what is described as a “log trap”, tripping the bard and hurling the rogue into the dwarves. Goblin laughter is heard from both sides of the corridor.
0:21 – After discussion, it is discovered, to the whole party’s chagrin, that the trap is in fact, still active. Everyone is injured. More laughter, more discussion.
0:22 – The trap is, to the player’s shock, and the “bleeding” status of both rogue and bard, still active. The party wisely decides to retreat, and heals back at the crossroads. Due to the noise of the party, four wandering monster checks have been made, all negative. Fate is being relatively kind to them, it seems. The trap’s mechanism is revealed as they retreat. The log is in fact, connected to a steel “trapeze”, propelled by springs in the ceiling, which lock back into place as the log reaches the other side. The goblins have merely been pulling a lever repeatedly and laughing their heads off.
0:28 – The party is heavily wounded, and decide to return to the Inn, largely empty handed.
0:34 – The party returns to the Entry Well. Money is raised up to Durnan, to allow them passage back.
0:36 – The money is accepted, and the rope lowered.
0:38 – The rogue and bard are strapped into the hoist, being considered the more injured and lighter of the party. They are beginning to be raised when another ambush begins, with a creature they have never seen before.
0:39 – Combat is finished, with a surprising ending. The ambush consisted of three goblins prodding a large slug-like creature (a Metalmaster Slug) into combat. Half of the party are unable to act, being on the hoist and being rapidly pushed back and forth by the metalmaster’s repulsion and attraction abilities. The dwarves have much trouble fighting it, and are both seriously injured. However, the loss of the torch (thrown to the party, but missed, and gone out) is actually a godsend, for when the cleric casts his last “light” spell, the slug panics and retreats, shredding its handlers as it does so.
0:50 – The party is finally raised, and take two nights of bed rest. Further dreams ensue, but this is not revealed until next session.
All in all, a damn eventful game-hour! The players loved the trap (thus proving I haven’t lost my ability to make content on the fly), and the in-character rationalisations have been most enlightening. The decision that the map was a trap was an interesting one, and sadly ended to their detriment (as their own map contains three rooms, two secret doors, and a trap at the moment), as was their decision to “follow” the goblin (who, in the ten or so minutes they spent crafting torches and looting bodies, could have sprinted to the north exit on the west end of the chapter map by the time they were finished.) Party dynamics are also interesting, as, despite being the butt of practical jokes and mild derision in-character, the bard is the “face” and leader of the group. I’m mildly worried by Morse’s decision to reroll his character, as I feel, with a little work, he can truly make it his own. Still, if he levels up as warlock, I’ve got no problems with that, and if he chooses to reroll as a warlock, I will merely lament the loss of the only party member who can notice and disarm traps at the moment (of which there will be many in days to come)
I also didn’t give too much away, although talking about the caryatid column in room 3 was a dumb move. But hey, they wouldn’t have fought it anyways, so maybe it was for the best. At least I don’t remember telling them when it attacks and why...
Anyway, there may be an alignment smackdown in the future if evil thoughts and deeds continue to creep into the cyric worshippers (which would make perfect sense IC, anyways), but generally, I’m impressed with the party, as they are the only party I’ve run RtoU for that managed to plausibly drive off the Metalmaster (thus reaping extra XP).
Before I forget, the next session’s encounters must be rolled, treasure wise, before the next session. The goblins could have used that wand of silence, dammit!