View Full Version : [3.5 Campaign Journal] Of Heaven, Earth, Hell, and Newbies All Around

2010-03-22, 08:02 PM
March 19, 2010

Greetings, Playgrounders! I recently began DMing a game of my own. For posterity, and because it’s great entertainment, I’ve decided to type up my notes into story form.

Update Schedule

The current plan is to meet at my house after school each Friday night is the scheduling. Expect updates every Monday or so.

The Players

Right now, I have two PCs, both new to go along with my newfound DMing :smallannoyed:. The first, Eric is looking to dominate the Hells in the name of “order”, but suffers from a terribly chaotic personality. Having heard stories of a constant three-way war in the Hells between demons, daemons, and devils, he’s decided to become someone powerful enough to unite all three and keep their conflicts from spilling over into the Material Plane. Of course, he does so not out of any altruism, but because his philosophy truly is like that of a 40K Orc – only the biggest and baddest of them all can stop the fighting. Eric is a Duskblade1 with a greatsword (soon to be falchion), a great physical warrior (18/12/14/14/11/8) with a little extra flash on the side.

Conor suffers from a guilty past (something involving burned villages, dead babies, and other unscrupulous deeds) and, believing himself past normal atonement, is looking for a less scrupulous way to get into the Heavens, currently with a sketchy plan involving intimate relations with an angel and a resulting free “ride” :smallannoyed: in. Conor is a Warlock1 who shoots “frickin’ laser beams” (10/18/13/12/13/14), and manifests them in glaive-form for closer encounters and an at-will 10-foot pole :smallbiggrin: with plans on throwing around undead through The Dead Walk later.

Both our Chaotic Neutral bastards. Eh, not all parties can be virtuous.

The Game Plan

Seeing as this was my first game, I decided to take “heavy inspiration” (that means blatant ripping off of) from a pre-printed campaign, namely “Burning Plague”. I made it a bit easier than it says, though, given that I’m new, my players are new, we have two less PCs than recommended, no healing in the party, blah blah blah etc. I won’t point out all of my changes, because I think I can tell the story well enough on its own.

The Burning Plague

Our two (anti) heroes arrive on a boat from “somewhere overseas”. Both are heading towards Rachea, a bustling metropolis that has all the answers they need. Both are looking to meet an old hero with vast knowledge of the planes to aid them on their respective quests.

Yeah, I know, the story drips of cheese, but it was the best thing we could come up with and to be honest it opens up a lot of hilarious opportunities.

Unfortunately for them, Duvik’s Pass (a small mining town of around 1500) is plagued, and quarantine is in place. The ship can’t even unload its cargo.

They yell messages across to someone named Sendar, Cleric5 and mayor of the city. Our heroes manage to get off by trading their departure at the price of delivering a request for aid to Rachea through the nearest major town, Torche. (Rachea itself is much farther inland.) It takes some demonstration of their competence to prove their worth…

Sendar: So, exactly what can you two fellows do?
Eric: *swings greatsword and strikes a pose* I am a great warrior, simultaneously studying magic to augment my abilities. Aside: Good lord, that was cheesy.
Me: Sigh. Conor?
Conor: I can shoot laser beams out of my eyes.
Sendar/Me: Huh?
Conor: *zaps the ground next to Sendar’s feet*

Thoroughly impressed (although a bit shaken), he hands them both rings that detect plague (heating up in the presence of it, obviously near burning hot right now) and a wand of eternal cure light wounds before they leave. A group of their three strongest and un-plagued miners had left earlier with the same treatment, but it couldn’t hurt to send a second group – the pass is treacherous, and wild animals and raiding humanoids lurk about.

Eric: Isn’t that a bit harsh on us newbies?
Me: *looking over the Monster Manual and adventure* Oh hush, they’re practically XP McNuggets, you’ll be fine.
Conor: I bet all the miners are dead already.
Me: … god damn it.

God damn it because they were certainly right. I didn’t want to have to balance too many NPCs.

Torche is on the other side of the pass, about two days away if haste is made by foot. They unhesitatingly set off.

C-Flat Minor

A mere halfway through the day, find the first of the dead miners in the middle of the road. At first a bit put off they cannily remain very suspicious, cautiously approaching the whole situation. Conor even takes a whack at the body itself with his glaive before touching it.

Out of spite (and a need to reinforce the whole kobolds=traps concept), I put a spiketrap on the underside of the body. Don’t ask how that one works, it just does. Fortunately enough, one unnecessarily-awesome reflex save later, they proceed to loot it shamelessly :smallannoyed: although they find nothing but the signs of previous looting.

Eric: Not even a few coins.
Me: They’re kobolds. Especially not a few coins.
Conor: Alright then, there’s nothing left here. We leave the body?
Me: … you’re leaving a body of a virtuous soul out in the open to rot and be eaten by predators?
Conor: Good point. Before we leave, I burn the body with my lasers.
Me: What.

I inform them of the fact that the body is trapped and looted leads them to believe that kobolds are the problem behind it. One natural twenty on a tracking check later :smallannoyed: they beat the fake tracks along the road leading to my planned ambush (oh well) and follow the real ones.

Following these tracks leads to a secondary trail near the main road, letting them sneak up to three kobolds that are inexplicably laying for an ambush. Eric, knowing Draconic, elects to listen into their conversation.

Even the kobolds comment that they have no idea why they’re out there. After some further inane chatter, the kobolds reveal that they (along with a larger party) had killed all three miners. Afterwards, their warchief told them to remain in wait until sundown.

After this, I ran out of things to say, so I ended all useful chatter. Instead of waiting for them to return, following them to find the location of the camp like I had planned…

Conor/Eric: Let’s take them on.
Me: Why? They –
Eric: They’re "XP McNuggets".
Conor: They might have the other wand.
Me: *sigh*

Several rounds of ownage later, in which the last kobold manages to shoot himself in his other uncrippled leg, they take one prisoner (Mr. Cripple) but he reveals nothing of note, spouting fanatical nonsense about how there’re hundreds of them and that their warchief is a powerful sorcerer with the blood of dragons in his veins.

Me: Okay, Sense Motive?
Conor: No need. He’s lying.
Me: You sure?
Conor: We’re level one. You wouldn’t do that to us.

Yeah, they’re right. :smallannoyed: The Kobolds are absolute pushovers with two to four hitpoints each, even with crossbows and small size. Having 18s in combat stats is awesome.

Being the chaotic neutral bastards that they are, they administer a great deal of pain and displeasure to the poor kobold in an attempt to reveal more useful information, namely the location of the camp. As luck would have it, they knock him unconscious after liberal application of blunt force trauma to the groin.

Conor proceeds to execute the prisoner and burn the bodies to ashes (sigh), but not before they loot them, finding the second eternal wand. (I decided that they might need more than two charges for what they were getting into.)

Conor: Told you they had the other wand.
Me: Shut up. :smalltongue: Now what are you going to do?
Eric: Set up our own ambush.
Me: You can’t do… *stroking chin in thought* Hmmm. You’re right.

Players can be smart too, you know. :smallwink:

Later that night, five kobolds trundle into the killzone. Some scuffling and a Burning Hands later, they’re all dead, no prisoners this time. By now it is dark. Conor once again burns away all the evidence and the two heroes fall back several miles to camp for the night. Eric gets to sleep – Conor grumpily stays up to keep watch, his Warlock background mitigating his need for rest.

Into the Mines

They follow the rather obvious tracks that the second investigating group of kobolds left behind to a mine entrance – a mine that has obviously been recently reopened and infested by kobolds. A bit apprehensively, they enter the mines to figure out what happened, and also because they’re adventurers who can’t turn down a dungeon crawl that practically throws itself at them.

The first thing they trip over is the second dead miner. Once again, cautiousness involving an at-will ten foot pole ensues. Again, it reveals nothing, because the trap is actually in a more subtle form, a wire attached to the underside of the body. I figured that they’d learn after the first time something was on the underside of something, but noooooo. Two abysmal search checks later, they set off a thunderstone trap.


Conor fails his fortitude save and is knocked deaf for a few minutes, although Eric gets away with mere annoyance, pointing and laughing.

Also, every kobold in the mine knows that someone’s coming.

At least they find some silver ore and note that they should take it with them if they get out alive. They are at least smart enough to not try and haul it with them in the middle of combat.

Conor: I burn the miner’s body before we leave.
Me: Are you serious? … okay, you’re inside a mine. At your current location, the smoke will fill the room.
Conor: Good point. I’ll burn it on our way out.
Me: :smallannoyed:

The next room is obviously full of kobolds. I nudge them with an “intuition check” and let them realize that using the door as cover lets them break in without sucking down crossbow bolts. Six crossbow bolts into the door later, more ownage occurs, although this time they need to patch up Eric with a casting of cure light wounds (1d8+5 = full heal at this level). They do have four charges, after all… and they’re definitely going to need the next three.

And yes, Conor burns the bodies. The tunnel slopes up here, and he decides to smoke out the next room by using the dead kobolds as fuel. Hey, they already know there are intruders, can’t hurt, eh?

It turns out to be pointless, as the next room is a storeroom (that now stinks of burning kobold). Eric does the whole “I’m a moving door” and charges in, and bounces straight off of a barrel.

Eric: You did that on purpose.
Me: *points to campaign* No, I didn’t. See the room full of kobolds there? Right in order. :smallbiggrin:

While the shelves are uselessly filled with plagued foods (!), there are some barrels full of goodies… and some oversized rats. While they were surprised the first time for some minor damage, Conor’s “my glaive is a ten-foot pole” tactics resulted in less surprise the second time rats came out of a barrel. Tossing aside contagious food (and burning it for good measure anyways), Conor proceeds to blast the barrel and burn it down out of irritation… revealing a secret compartment with jewelry and a potion of invisibility.

The barrels contain meat (with rats), cheese and loot (with more rats), wine, ale, salt, and a barrel of oil. Tossing aside all the plagued food, Eric gets the bright idea to take the barrel of oil with them for the lulz.

On their way out, a dire weasel (kobold equivalent of a trained hunting dog) attempts to ambush Conor, the squishier caster. Eric’s sharp spot check against the weasel’s admittedly lame hide check means that Eric bisects the thing with an AoO as it attempts to sneak past him to make its strike. Conor thanks Eric profusely.

As they roll down into the penultimate downwards sloping chamber full of stalagmites, a small chasm, and kobolds with crossbows, Eric’s barrel falls into a random-ass pit-trap, albeit without damage. A few minutes later to recover the thing (persistent bastards), it proves its worth as it provides cover for the prepared crossbow shots that surprise them, saving him a lot of potential pain until -

Me: Rolls to hit... oh crap.
Eric: Eh?
Me: Roll to confirm...
Eric: Come on, you said they need like 19s to hit me, I should get off with a minor injury -
Me: Confirmed...
Eric: F--- me.
Me: 12 damage. Drop you, -2. :smallannoyed:

Conor quickly drags Eric’s limp form behind a stalagmite large enough for total cover, plucks the bolt out of his skull, and heals him… and then the session ended, as they had to scurry home before midnight.

END… for now.

Final Statistics

Conor: 4/7 Hp
Eric: 8/10hp

Kobolds cremated: 14
Dire weasels bisected: 1
Rats squished: 6
Miners given proper cremation: 1
Miners to be given proper cremation: 1
Traps dodged: 1
Traps sprung: 2
Traps noticed: 0 :smallannoyed:

This makes a good opening for any new players to make a classic “big damn heroes” entrance. Right now I’m looking at a possible sword throwing Factotum (don’t even try asking) and a priest that uses Dragon Shaman rules, possible being the key word.

Help a Poor DM!

I’m not sure as to how to further the whole conflict of Heaven/Hell right now, so it’d be awesome if anyone could drop me a line to pull on. That, and if anyone had comments to my DMing, my players, or simply anything at all, feel free to drop them off.

2010-03-22, 09:16 PM
So searching the body (assuming keep it laying down) doesn't release the trap only turning it over?

I guess that make sense.

mere halfway through the day, find the first of the dead miners in the middle of the road. At first a bit put off they cannily remain very suspicious, cautiously approaching the whole situation. Conor even takes a whack at the body itself with his glaive before touching it.

Out of spite (and a need to reinforce the whole kobolds=traps concept), I put a spiketrap on the underside of the body. Don’t ask how that one works, it just does. Fortunately enough, one unnecessarily-awesome reflex save later, they proceed to loot it shamelessly although they find nothing but the signs of previous looting.

How did they release this one? By hitting it with glaive?

2010-03-22, 09:56 PM
I interpretted "search the body" as "eye it suspiciously and look for anything that might be out of the ordinary". Upon finding nothing, they actually put their hands onto it, which is a whole different story.

Come to think of it, that might be a pretty poor way to handle the mechanic. :smallannoyed:

To tell the truth, I'm not quite sure exactly how the trap would work.

Maybe you whack the backside of the body, nothing happens, but lay one hand on the front of the torso (which is currently face down) and you set off a plate of spikes slipped into the shirt.

Regardless, he rolled a 19 for his reflex save, plus four from reflex. I shrugged and called it a save. I would have been satisfied with a 13 at the very least.

2010-03-23, 08:36 AM
Okay, so I'm going to talk with my players about just what sort of things they might expect to be doing in the future.

Problem is, I have no idea how to introduce a couple of level 1 (maaaaybe 2) players to any sorts of major, intelligent, plot-worthy Outsiders without them imploding like so many overripe tomatoes. Angels and Balors are right out, and things like Quasits seem underwhelming at best, no matter how "difficult" they actually might be.

To summarize, I need ideas for a set of "Celestial" and "Abyssal" contacts, for my players to have contact with and receive assignment from. Any help out there?

Kol Korran
2010-03-23, 08:56 AM
maybe they can't contact the celestial/fiesndish creatures themselves, but that's what their servitors are for. or in other words- cults. create some sort of an angelic or hellish creature (or half/ half? some sort of a hybrid?), proabably closer to mortals than most outsiders, who either:
- acts as a sort of an emmisery between the two large groups
- or was banished from both groups for being untrustworthy.

anyway, this guy is a scheming bastard, and he seeks followers to further his plans on the material plane. make some sort of adventure where Eric and Conor stand out (hopefully), and a member of a small secretive cult that follows this angelic/devilish creature, contacts them, offers them to join as recruits.

from here onwards the two do the following:
- perform missions for the cult leaders.
- perform a "direct guidnace" mission from the outsider.
- raise their own status within the cult, perhaps on the expense of others.
- try toi figure out what are the real intentions of the outsider (which are up to you, but can work with or against your characters goals.

sounds ok?