Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Carrow Campaign: Play Report 1

"David, kill the Queen!"
 I promised play reports, and here's the first. But I didn't want to take the usual route and tell you how the game went myself - after all, most RPG bloggers are GMs. You've had that point of view. Instead, I've asked my players to write the reports, which I'll then add my own commentary to. That way we get a complete picture, which seems much more instructive, and a hell of a lot more entertaining.

Without further adieu, here's Steph Cherrywell's report from her first session - which also happened to be my first session in a long time:

"Here is the journal of Spucky Conkerbucket, gnomish druid. Dungeons and Dragons has been a very different and rewarding experience for me so far. I play World of Warcraft on an RP server, and while I enjoy it a lot , the fact is that the "roleplaying" element and the "gameplay" element are entirely divorced from each other. You can make up any story you want, but your character is never in danger of (really) dying or being arrested unless you decided that's what you want happening in your storyline. And you can go through a dungeon with friends 'in-character', but at the end you have just one choice -- "kill the boss". You can't arrest him and drag him back to the city in chains, or infiltrate the pirate crew and then steal his ship, or decide you agree with him and throw in your lot with his gang, or anything else, gameplay-wise. So it's very exciting to get to try this out!

Spucky, level 1, is walking along with her animal companion, Chops the riding St. Bernard, when she hears the sounds of an argument. It's two monks - Sputnam and Ham - who are arguing about the location of a third, Toby, who went off in the woods to use the bathroom and hasn't returned. Spucky, being a Neutral Good meddling do-gooder sort, offers to help find him, and off we go in the woods. Lucky, Spucky's first feat is Track, and soon we found ourselves at the base of a fallen tree. No sooner did Spucky get up close to look at it than a giant spider popped out and bit her with a surprise attack! Luckily, she didn't get poisoned. Since this was the first session and I didn't know what I was doing, I hadn't chosen any spells beforehand, figuring I'd just decide on what to have when I needed it - just a wee bit against the rules, there! For future sessions I would decide on a 'default' list of spells which would be the ones Spucky had prepared at the start of the adventure unless I said otherwise. I also didn't even consider the possibility of trying to use Charm Animal until Chops had already given the spider a good return bite, and of course, it wouldn't have worked anyway because spiders are Vermin rather than animals. So two ignorants made a right, there! There was an intense combat with Chops biting, Spucky swinging with her quarterstaff, and the two monks doing rushing punch attacks. One of the monks was knocked down and took damage, and Spucky used her sole first-level spell (another little error -- I was supposed to have an extra one due to Wisdom bonus!) to Cure Light Wounds. Yay, my first heal!

[And a major one - he was actually dying. Being behind the wheel of the spider, I almost felt bad for her - it was like that scene at the end of Shaun of the Dead where they are all standing around in a circle screaming and beating on the zombie while Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" blares from the juke box.]

Eventually the spider is defeated without too much trouble, and Spucky and the older monk descended into the hole to look for Toby. I got a little nervous on Spucky's behalf because Chops couldn't come down with her, not being very good at rope-climbing, and at Level 1 most of her attack potential came from his mighty bite and not from the little junior-sized attack staff wielded by a 40-pound spellcaster. The logistics of dog-down-the-rope would come up in the next adventure too -- but he's still a good animal companion to have because he can easily carry a lot more than Spucky herself can. [Chops is like our mascot now. When his turn comes everyone is like "Go Chops!"]

Inside the hole were lots o' webs, some of them with mysterious lumps. We decided to cut loose the most promising lump and see if it was Toby, but in the middle of cutting, scuttling sounds were heard from the darkened part of the room. It turned out there was another spider in the nest! I started to be very paranoid about having Spucky take on an enemy with just one other person and no dog, so we got the bundle out as quickly as possible. However, the spider (which could talk) was actually happy that the other spider was dead. Turns out she was going to mate with and then kill him. I was still a little antsy, probably more than was strictly in-character -- something I need to work on. I am still expecting to do something wrong and get a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style YOU HAVE DIED. I probably will at some point, too, but I bought the Manual of the Planes, so there are lots of nice afterlives Spucky could pick from.

[Steph doesn't give herself enough credit. I had no idea how worried she was about her character getting killed. This was a fun little reversal for me, where there was a massive amount of tension while they knew the spider was there watching them try to get out as fast as they could, all for it to turn out it was as frightened as they were. This was a way to show that immediately attacking everything isn't always the best solution. Oh, between the talking male and the venom-less female I sort of invented a new species of giant spider.]

There seemed to be other things going on in the spider pit, but I didn't want to explore it alone [there were, but they aren't going anywhere], so Spucky went up the rope as quickly as possible and we cut open the web-lump. Toby was inside, and using Detect Poison I was able to determine that he was paralyzed but apparently not dying [I said the female was venom-less. The male still has a role in preparing the nest, like it or not]. We still thought it was a good idea to get him to a healer as quickly as possible, though, and I wasn't going to cut it! The recently-widowered smaller spider ran up out of the pit and scurried off, while we took Toby back to the cart and set off in search of someone who could cure him! Also, I would find out later that the spider's poison glands were apparently worth something. Oops. This may be why I still have barely any money, even a couple sessions later! [No, you don't have any money because I'm a jerk and make barrows full of gold collapse on you. More on that in a later report] I need to learn who has expensive things growing in them, and how to get at the goodies. You can see that I still have quite a bit to pick up, but it's all been very fun so far!

Next time, Spucky meets Agartha the barbarian, and an expedition to the Farm of Doom!"


  1. Steph never does give herself enough credit. =) I miss seeing her regularly in our WoW guild.

    A question for you, what program are you using to run your game? Reading this makes me miss DMing even more than I already did, and I have been toying with the idea of getting an online game together for a while now, since all the people I'd want to play with are scattered across North America.

  2. I'm sorry, I meant to make that a link. It's MapTools, you can get it for free here:

    It takes some learning, because it's open-source and therefore shares the curse most open-source stuff does: The interface is messy and unintuitive. But it works really well and can do some neat stuff, and you can find tons of tutorials for it. I intend to do a write-up of how I use it, where I found resources, all that.

    In the meantime, a word of warning - if you let it, MapTools will turn into a giant time sink. It's hard to resist making that dungeon just a little more detailed... and a little more... and a little more...

  3. *chuckles* Yeah, I can see that sucking you in to the point that you realize you've just spent three hours on the first two rooms.

    Thanks for the info, looks like I've got a bit of researching to do this weekend.

  4. You actually just described the first time I sat down and made a map with it.

  5. *laughs* Give a GM who is also a designer a graphical tool and we are doomed, aren't we.