View Full Version : The mystery gems - A Campaign Journal

2013-11-13, 10:58 PM
Hi! Recently I started DM'ing a campaign for a group of friends. I figured I'd write down a campaign journal to help me in keeping track of the story, as well as to get feedback and new ideas/suggestion from people in the forums.

Please be welcome to read and share any opinions/suggestions/feelings you have about the story, settings, characters, or whatever else!

We're playing standard D&D 4E and we have been using all of the core books plus some things from Essentials. Our group is composed mostly by D&D newbies or people who played for short periods of time in the far past (myself included). One of us has more experience with D&D, but it was previous editions. He DM'ed the previous campaign and now we switched places.

This campaign picks up from the previous one, our previous DM created a character and joined the group, as I stepped out to take the DM role.
As such, it's probably easier if I write a short summary of our previous campaign first:

The previous campaign

The story starts in the small city of Orvil and its outskirts, where the Orvil forest lies.
Nature is going crazy in the forest and a weird mysterious portal is found by the forest's big lake.

We entered the portal, killed some monsters, and exited it only to find we had traveled a few hundreds of years to the future.
Here, with the help of a powerful elf NPC called Altariel we find out that the portal was part of a ritual conjured by an evil doer with the intent of becoming a god.

We later found out that such evil doer was in fact one of the PCs (called Maguyuk), even though he himself was not aware of that.
It turns out he had multiple-personalities and was using some magical gems trafficked by a group of thieves commanded by a drow to make sure the ritual worked as he had planned, which required all of us to be in a given place at a given time.
We also found that one of the side-effects of the ritual was a giant skeleton king, that would bring destruction to a vast area of the world.

In the end, Maguyuk found himself reluctant at the prospect of becoming a god, since he was a Shaman follower of the spirits and had small sympathy for deities, but in an attempt to save his friends from the skeleton king, he became a god and helped everyone.

The group managed to keep the skeleton king from being unleashed into the world and go back to their original time, again with the help of Alatariel.
That's where our new campaign begins.

The group

We have some characters that are coming from the previous campaign and new ones joining now.
The ones following up from the previous one:

Aegon: An elf druid that was raised by a family of human farmers, only to find the whole family killed inexplicably at about the same time he started to discover his nature-controlling powers. He now lives by himself in the Orvil forest. (my own character in the previous campaign)
Garfo: A goliath barbarian that had his whole village murdered, now seeks revenge. Your typical big brute barbarian that hits first and asks later.
Hael: A half-elf bard that leads a chaotic and hedonistic life.
Ilias: An eladrin wizard who quit the magic school out of boredom and in search of new adventures.
Quibrunn: A warlock gnome that is a bit much too keen of herbs.

New characters joining for this campaign:
Greip: Dwarf warden, a bit older than the others, likes his ale and a good conversation, as well as to give advice to the (ones as he perceive as) younger ones. (played by the same guy who previously played the now-a-god Maguyuk)
Johnny: Human rogue, treasure is what he seeks, though he won't steal from those who do not deserve to be stolen (played by our previous DM).
Vinna: A tiefling psion that was raised by humans and is now in search of her own nature. (new player in the group)

In the beginning of the campaign the characters are all in either level 5 or 6.
We started a few weeks ago so I may not remember all the details, but here's a summary of our first day:

Day 1 - Negotiation with Toromir

It all starts with Vinna, Johnny and Greip at the Must Pada tavern in Orvil. Johnny and Greip are old friends, and they have recently met Vinna in the city, though none of them are really locals. In the last few days the city has been alive with talks about weird things happening outside the city, specifically in the forest. People talk about hidden treasures and unknown dangers, and none of the adventurers who have left with intentions of exploiting or exploring have, so far, come back to tell the story.

One drunken adventurer in the tavern tries to recruit partners to investigate what all the fuzz is about but he is, as expected, ignored by everyone - except for a classy, well dressed eladrin, who enters the tavern at the exact time the drunken adventurer is about to get out. The eladrin calms him down and leads him back to his seat, then walks towards a table that is already occupied by a group of people.

Noticing the commotion, and feeling the scent of gold, Johnny approaches the eladrin. Soon Greip and Vinna join the conversation. The eladrin introduces himself as Toromir, and he says he seeks those called the gems of power. He says he hears they can be found at the forest, and offers a certain amount of gold coins to the adventurers in case they are willing to investigate the rumors and bring him any gems they find.
After some negotiations, the eladrin pays 10 gold coins to each one of the three, and promises 100 more for each gem they bring back.
And so they part in direction to the forest.

Day 1 - Forest Webs

Aegon, Garfo, Hael, Ilias and Quibrunn come out of the portal opened by Altariel and are in the forest in the outskirts of Orvil, back in their original time.
As soon as they come out, Aegon notices something is not right in the forest and starts walking ahead of the group. They are attacked by a group of giant spiders and spider swarms.
It's right at that moment that Greip, Johnny and Vinna arrive at the forest, so the two groups join forces against the spiders.

At this moment I pulled a bunch of spiders out of the dark areas of the forest. One of them was busy for a few rounds spinning webs around Aegon (my character)'s body, while the others kept the group busy. The spider kidnaps the elf, as the group finishes off the other ones and start off after their friend.

This is what happened in our first day. We've played a few more times since then, but I will stop writing for now. Please let me know what you think!

2013-11-14, 07:47 PM
Day 2 - Down the spider hole

The two groups join forces against the spiders and finish all them off, then start tracking the spider that kidnapped Aegon. Eventually they reach a small hill that has the entrance to a cave.
The group is a bit cautious, but they decide to go in the cave, after the spider.

The cave is moist and they can hear droplets echoing inside. Eventually, they reach a spot where the tunnel they've been following splits in three directions.
They roll perception to try to identify the most likely of the directions the spider could have followed through, and get a natural 20! It seems like there are "spider-pawn-prints" in two of the three different directions, but one of them seems fresher, so they move on following it, through the southern-most tunnel.

After some more time walking, they see a faint light ahead and start moving more slowly. They spot a group of goblins sitting, cooking and talking around a fire in a hall in the cave. The goblins are still unaware of their presence, they are still far.

They move carefully, Johnny - the rogue - surprises them with a sure crossbow bolt. The barbarian charges into the group and rages through the goblin group, he doesn't waste time (nor dailies).
The combat seems relatively easy, though the goblins are accompanied by two spiders that manage to get a few of the players poisoned (and to make Johnny pretty upset since they keep teleporting away from his melee attacks).
Johnny remembers he has oil in his backpack, so he throws it on one of the spiders, hoping someone else would push the spider onto the fire, which Hael, the bard, does.
They capture two goblins, but let one escape.

They split the two captured goblins and interrogate them separately. They want to know more information about a spider carrying a body, as they want to rescue their friend.

One of the goblins, Hobbart, is pretty violent and refuses to help the group, specially since he's received quite a lot of strikes already.

"We're all damned!!!! They will soon be here and then will be nothing to talk or nowhere to run!"
"Who will be here?"
"It don't matter, it's all over anyway, you idiots!"

After trying to get more information off the goblin, unsuccessfully, they just end up making the goblin act crazy at the perspective of painfully dying at "their" hands, so the group finishes him off mercifully.

The other goblin is a different story though. Gazzbrok doesn't want to die just yet, but he won't talk. He seems afraid. The group realizes he might be afraid somebody will listen to what he has to say, so Ilias, the wizard, conjures a colorful light around them and the others pretend that he created a sound-proof area.

Gazzbrok is not ready to die just yet, and now that he's convinced no hidden ears will hear what he has to say, he will help the group as much as possible in exchange of being set free to run away.

"Please, let me go! I don't wanna die here! And they will soon be here!"
"Who are they?"
"Who? The drows, of course!!!!!! The damn drows!!!!! 'Do this, Gazzbrok', 'Do that, Gazzbrok!', 'Where are the gems now??? The prophet will be back soon!', damn they!!!"
"Drows?.. Are they down the cave? How many of them?"
"How many? Grazzbok don't know! Lots! A whole city full of drows! You are lost, are you?"
"City? That's strange, do you know the path to the city?"
"It's just ahead, but I can't go in. Hobbart can, he knows."
"Oh, well, let's just say Hobbart can't help us now… How far from here is this city?"
"One hour walking, maybe two. Three? Grazzbok don't know, but not too far. We have to run, the will kill us!"

As the group talks to the goblin, Greip, the warden, starts slowly moving ahead the tunnel, shield up.
A few steps ahead, and he is surprised with an arrow right on his shield. He can see a green liquid flowing down the arrow head that is deep in his shield.
The group notices the action, Gazzbrok runs for his life, yelling "They are here! run! save you!!!!!! they will kill all!!!!"

2013-11-15, 12:51 PM
Day 3 - Arrows in the Dark

The group is alarmed by a warning arrow in the dark. Ilias casts a light ahead and they see a group of drows approaching. Combat ensues, and it proves more challenging than the group first expected.

A group of drow soldiers move ahead as another group of archers fires arrows at the group.
The archers are minions, but the group has trouble getting to them as the soldiers block their way.

Johnny and Garfo charge ahead, causing a lot of damage to the dark elves, but are eventually brought down by three drow soldiers. Greip finally gets to the front lines and manages to distract the drows for quite a while. This gives Hael time to save them with his healing notes and move them out of trouble. Meanwhile, the rest of the group finishes the work.

When the battle is almost over, the goblin that had managed to escape comes back running through their lines, and manages to snatch off Garfo's backpack, and darts away back to where he came from. Unfortunately for the goblin, Garfo is quickly back on his feet thanks to Hael, and the goblin is brought down as well.

After the battle, the groups is quite weak, they have used a lot of their dailies and healing surges. Also, they are deep in the underground, but it must be late night at this time, so they decide to camp right there and re-use some of the goblins' camp utilities. They are worried about their kidnapped friend, but they can't press forward and risk all of their lives.

Before resting, they go on to loot their enemies. Jonny finds a gem hidden in a secret pocket underneath one of the drow soldiers' armor. He shows it to the group, and Vinna concludes it must be one of the power gems Toromir wants.

The other part of the group, namely Ilias, Hael, Garfo and Quibrunn notices this gem looks a lot like the gems that had been used in the ritual that had brought the Skeleton King alive, though this one seems to be "de-activated" (it has not been used for magic, nor holds any type of energy).

Also before they rest, Hael sends his cat companion, Nyan, ahead in the cave, to see if it can find more clues about the city that supposedly lies ahead.

Day 4 - Spider Nest

The group wakes up unarmed. Nyan comes back and reports back to Hael, who informs the group that the cat hadn't noticed anything special in the cave after a couple of hours walking, so it just came back.

The group is now a bit more cautious about pressing forward, specially facing the perspective of getting at the doors of a drow-infested city.

Ilias suggests they go back and explore the other areas of the cave, which everyone agrees to.
They go back to the spot where the cave path splits in 3, and go to the path in the center now, which also has spider pawn-prints on the floor.

After some time walking, they start to see small spider webs covering the walls. As they move on, the webs get thicker and cover more of the walls, floor and ceilings, until they feel like they are almost walking down a spider web tunnel.

Eventually, they hear the sounds of giggles, and a female voice says "I was waiting for you…".
Johnny throws his torch forward, and they see three drows.

The one in the center wears a long cloak around herself, and she's flanked by two drow archers. Behind them the group can see one giant spider, and two smaller ones.

Another encounter begins. The drows realize they have an eladrin in the group, and focus most of their arrows on him. The eladrin eventually falls unconscious, but is helped out by the others.

Ilias casts a magical hand that grabs and immobilizes the drow priestess, making the encounter a lot easier for the strikers Johnny and Garfo. After the priestess is neutered and the archers are dealt with, they have no trouble finishing off the spiders.

Now something interesting happens.

The group believes this priestess must be somebody influential in the drow community, as she seems to have been expecting them there and to have been protected by the other two drows. With that in mind, they grab her and try to interrogate her before she's unconscious.

Garfo has no trouble holding her down with the blunt sides of his big axe, but she doesn't seem too keen on helping them.

- Where's our friend Aegon? Is he dead?
- By now he's probably wishing he would be!
- Where is he?
- Deep in the city of Nolzo-Gerrazon!
- Is that the city further in the cave?
- What else would be? I didn't expect you to be so stupid!
- How can we get into the city?
- How do you get into any city? Through the gates, are you idiot?

Not too pleasant with the conversation, the group tries to threaten her.
Hael threatens to pierce her eye with his dagger, but Greip stops him:

- She's already down, no need for that.

So Hael gets one of the other drows, already dead, and starts to sadistically cut off his head with his dagger, trying to frighten the priestess.

Greip, Johnny and Vinna are not too pleased with that. They don't know these people, they were trying to help, but now they start questioning if these people deserve their help. Surely, drows are usually evil and they are certainly up to something bad, but if this is the business of two evil groups killing each other, the three heroes want nothing with it.

Ilias tries to convince the priestess just by touching her face, bringing ire to the eyes of the priestess. She despises the eladrin, and would rather die than having to negotiate with one.
Aware of that, Hael, Garfo and Ilias decide to finisher her off.

Meanwhile, Greip, Johnny and Vinna are already on their way back, they are afraid of the others, and don't want to be stuck in a cave with that type of people.

DM notes

The last encounter failed my expectations completely.
I wanted to do something challenging and exciting, but it's hard to balance that with the number of players and without making it too hard. In the last two encounters we had players going unconscious and I wonder if that can be frustrating for them.

Here something we had already talked about came up: Johnny, Vinna and Greip are "good" characters, while Garfo and Hael and are pretty much chaotic. We had mentioned that this could cause trouble, and it started to on this day.

This session ended with a big question mark "What now? Are we going to split the group? That would be a mess!"

Looking back, I realize I should probably have given some more clues to Hael on his cat's quest, though I wanted to keep it aligned with the story. Having no clues made him feel a bit lost as he's not sure what he has to do to accomplish his goal (rescue his friend).

I had to plan a bit more for the session that came afterwards to try to fix some of these issues. I will post later how that turned out.

There's only one more day to write down and I will have caught up with where we are at the story.
I am not sure anyone's reading even, should I keep writing it? It certainly helps me to organize my thoughts and to keep track and organize the story, so there's value in that.
But it would be awesome to get some feedback even if it's just "This is a bit boring" or "TL;DR", please let me know if you have any!