Sunday, April 20, 2014

Underdark Campaign Log #5

After missing a week because of an emergency I had come up at work, we were able to continue with the adventurers' exploration of the tunnels under the Twisted Tower of Ashaba. Two new players joined us this week, running a catfolk rogue named Tous and a dwarf barbarian named Rurik, and their presence definitely mixed things up in the party.

Cast:
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew)
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake)
  • Tous, Catfolk Rogue (Andy)
  • Rurik, Dwarf Barbarian (Stetson)
After resting for an evening in the lair of the mongrelfolk - who, by the way, mysteriously did not return to their lair while the party rested - the group heard someone farther back in the passage, approaching from the same direction they originally entered the caves. They went to investigate, and found themselves in a standoff with a cat-person of some sort. At the same time, another sound from deeper in the cave alerted them to more company. Facing down a dwarf on one side and a mysterious humanoid cat on the other, the situation was tense to say the least... foreshadowing an even more intense encounter later in the evening.


GM Note: Dealing with the ins and outs of new and missing players is something that all GMs struggle with from time to time - except maybe those who manage to get to a true stopping point after every single session and/or those who just don't care about story continuity. This party meeting went pretty poorly, and I take the blame for that. I should have spent more time trying to figure out why the new characters would be in the underdark and about to meet the players we already had in the group. Instead, I asked the new players (who both seemed experienced in RPGs) to brainstorm right before the session started why their characters would be there. It ended up playing out like a poorly run wandering monster encounter. While it was fine, it was thrown together at the last minute and could have gone much more smoothly. 


After a brief standoff, the group agreed to travel together for the moment. They started back down into the caves the original party members were exploring before taking a rest. The grappling hook Kjell used to scale the wall was missing, and the cat noticed the smell of grimlocks and quaggoths, but otherwise the caverns seemed relatively empty.

They first followed the same tunnel where they fought the giant spiders, exploring further but turning back because it narrowed considerably. GM Note: Crawling? Ain't nobody got time for that!

The next tunnel proved more exciting, as the group was ambushed by a pair of quaggoths and their trained giant spiders. Their efforts yielded a key and a stone with continual light cast on it, as well as a few other minor treasures. As the tunnel descended, they eventually came to a flooded room with an exit on the opposite side. The heroes did manage to find the invisible raft, but pulled it from the water and set it aside rather than using it to cross.

Heading back to the large central cavern, the group chose to explore the next tunnel. Not far down, they came upon a wall of impenetrable darkness. Using the continual light stone they just found, they were able to walk through the darkness in a small bubble of light. The stone didn't extinguish the darkness, but did hold it at bay enough for them to notice a secret passage, which opened into a passage of worked stone rather than the natural caves they had been exploring up to this point - and Kjell even noticed a drow quickly retreat around the corner farther down the passage.

Scouting ahead, the cat and the drow both managed to hide from one another, neither seeing the other pass. It was not until the rest of the party caught up that the drow started its attack, summoning dwarf skeletons to attack while she levitated near the ceiling.

A brutal fight ensued, but the drow was finally knocked unconscious... and then things got complicated. A disagreement over what to do with the unconscious drow quickly escalated into a second stand-off. Rurik and Tous moved to slay their helpless opponent. Kjell moved to interfere, unwilling to kill a helpless woman regardless of the threat she posed moments before. Both dwarf and catfolk went for the coup d'etat, and Kjell was unable to stop them both. Standing over the now-slain woman, he threatened what would happen if they ever did that again. In fact, he wouldn't even allow them to check her possessions for valuables before moving on.

It was the classic confrontation between practicality and ideology, and neither side really won. The group moved on without settling the argument, but Tous still doubled back for loot.

Next week, perhaps we'll see if party members come to blows.

GM Note: I think a "managing PVP conflicts" post might be in the works.
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