So, since I’ve neglected this blog for so long, I’m going to do a real quick summation of the last three sessions in prep for session 14, which we are playing tonight! Because I can’t possible document everything that has happened since session 10, this post will be mostly highlights and also probably serve as a reflection of how I’ve grown as a DM over the past several months.
To begin, with the gang back together (or for Melon, the band, haha), the party worked together to fight off the big scary thing that had risen out of the floor. But before they could, they took out some Doppelgangers of themselves, an encounter I’d had planned for weeks, and which I had quite a bit of fun with. So it’s unfortunate I didn’t get around to recording the session, but some highlights include: Melon’s Dopple attempting to Crown of Madness Melon by flirting with him; Amber having to kill Einkel’s Dopple because she had accidently taken out her own in the mysterious room she’d been transported to and from, and Carric drinking a potion that gave him fire breath.
After finishing up their Doppelgangers, they fought the giant demon-ie thing. However, because everyone was getting kinda tired from a combat heavy session, I had the demon take a dive and get caught in a cage that had been previously set for it (but before you jump down my throat about a cop-out, this had been prepped, but I just went for it a little bit earlier). A party member wanted to end things there, so we broke for the night.
When we returned, the party left the chamber (and didn’t investigate at all?? Any DMs out there have tips for how to get characters to investigate more? We had a player that was a scaredy-cat, and they’ve since dropped out of the game, but boy did they really slow stuff down and miss things ‘cause their character never wanted to take it easy). I presented them with several options as to places to exit the dungeon underground, three exits leading up into the city and one tiny hole they’d have to squeeze through. They took the hole, and came out into the Neddwan forest. The trees and stuff there are weird and semi-psychic, which they discovered pretty quickly. After hanging out trying to figure out what to do (and finally talking about who and what they saw in the church/room) they decided they wanted to head to Skiesdale, as per the advice of the owl in the room Carric and Amber went to.
Now, because I know my players may be reading this blog, I won’t go into why this decision totally caught me off guard. I felt like I had been way too obvious about the “right” choice, if you could even call it that (really, just the choice I would have made), but whatever. At that moment though, a gnome child poked her head out of the forest and asked what they were doing there. The characters, I guess forgetting about their plans, volunteered to lead her home. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that to get through the forest, you gotta have some extremely high Wis or the practice. So the kid led them back to her village. Everyone there of course freaked out because of the new war going on between Arcane and Neddwan, but they managed to get an audience with the town elder to clear their name (but not without some determined belligerence from Carric). Serenity told the elder that she had to rest somewhere in order to get Einkel back, who she had, in a panic during their last fight, blinked onto the Astral plane (whoops). The elder let them stay, and the guards led them to some huts/jail cells for them to sleep in.
Now, this is where some stuff outside the game kinda made things within the game hard to deal with. Carric’s player had to drop DnD (I won’t go into detail here, but maybe I’ll reflect on it more in a future post), so during the night, I had the elder call him in to talk with him about things, and afterward he walked into the forest. This put the players in a sticky situation because they knew Carric’s player wouldn’t be returning, but their characters would want to go after them. They decided that Einkel came first, especially since it had seemed like Carric’s decision to leave. So Serenity attempted to return to the Astral plane to get Einkel, but unfortunately, this didn’t quite work since they had moved so far away physically from where they had been when Serenity lost Einkel.
So the elder made a deal with them. He sent them into the forest in a vain hope that maybe a couple more people wandering around out there would turn up the Shaman’s body. That’s right, the Shaman, the whole reason the party had originally set out for Neddwan, had been killed by a human (who the characters presumed was Graves), and no one could find the body. So the characters set out into the forest, slowly learning the trick of how to get through.
As they traveled, they met some druids who guarded a magical/mystical/whatever portal type drop off that, if you fell, would spit you back out at the top. After a misunderstanding and a quick skirmish between the party and these druids, the druids allowed them to rest a while in their home. Viara was especially interested in these druids’ interpretation of nature and how they learned their wild shape. Twenty (one of the druids) gave her a stone that would help he navigate the forest, and wished her luck on their journey.
The last session concluded with them stumbling into a village, where Serenity met a Tiefling named Hope who ran a shop that contained nearly anything you could imagine. Unfortunately, this Tiefling didn’t know much of the race’s history and hadn’t done much searching for it. She then said that if the group needed a place to stay for the night, they could always go to Billy’s, and she directed them there.
This is where things got kinda weird? At this point, I was getting tired, and my stomach was hurting, and I hadn’t planned out this village very much except that it was there and there were shops. The past couple sessions had been mostly free form like this, and while I liked the openness, I knew that some of the world consistency could go helter-skelter if I wasn’t careful. And this time I wasn’t. They went and knocked on Billy’s door, and a ten-year-old gnome answered. Then as a joke, I had him shut the door and open it almost immediately after as a 50-something Elf. So yeah, I created a shapeshifter. So then over the course of the conversation the PCs had with this Billy, I had to think up the rules for this guy. Which I did, but man, for a moment I was panicking. The session ended there, and since then I’ve thought out more of the plot and figured out the story of this guy.
That moment was a strange one for me as a DM. That last session was the first we played without Carric’s player, and I knew everyone felt off, and it showed in the RP and decisions everyone was making. So I think it’s OK if we had a silly time. However, I think I should have planned for character, not just player, reactions more. Honestly, having to deal with losing Carric really hurt my ability to DM that night, especially since I didn’t know how the announcement would go at the table since it was not an amiable drop-out. But I think after tonight’s session, we will be able to get on just fine. Also, I did some plot writing, since the party had almost completely gutted my original plan (as expected), and I’m feeling better about the campaign’s direction.
Anyway, there’s the gloss over of three sessions. Hopefully I won’t wait this long after tonight to get session 14 recorded. Let me know what you think, and as always, any advice or questions about DMing are welcome!