Monday, March 14, 2011

Dungeons of the Cairn Hills: Session 1

Well, we actually got a 1st edition session off the ground at the Guild! Seven players and yours truly in the DM's chair. Far out. I've never run such a large group before (back in the day, I think our AD&D group had 5 players)- I was a little intimidated at first, but soon settled into things. Mick, who initially advertised the game, kindly stood aside to let me DM: he had only committed to DM himself, it seems, in case no-one else wanted to, and was a little unsure of the rules. He had basically advertised a 1st edition game due to declining interest in 4e, which he'd been running, and because he was fascinated with the old orange-spined books he'd recently acquired. Cool, huh? So what we're thinking is that he can run Ravenloft if he wants to later, maybe with the same PCs once they get up to level 5 or so. Perhaps Ravenloft could be a sub-level of Castle Greyhawk. I'm sure I read someone else had done that...

The party: Calidus, male L1 Paladin (played by Ben, who had to leave early.)
                Myrna, female human L1 Cleric of Myhriss, devoutly seeking wealth for construction of a chapel in the Free City ( played by Michael)
                Arrmand, male L1 Ranger, local man and trail wanderer of the Cairn Hills (played by Adam)
                Bronzetoad, male Olman L1 Magic User, a fat, bizarrely clad tribesman from the far south (played by Pete), who had been journeying from the east (?) with            
                Tuzunie, male Baklunish L1 Illusionist, a fellow impressively moustached, a traveller from Ekbir (played by Lachlan)
                Ledivis, male human L1 Fighter, a warrior of an honourable fighting order, from unknown distant lands (played by Mick)
                Faralin, male Elven L1 Thief, urchin of the Free City, ill fated (you'll see), (played by Lewis)

The first part of the evening was all introduction and character gen (Adam, Pete and Lachlan I know, the others I was meeting for the first time). There was banter, questions, explanations for the novices. Eventually we forged on with pretty roughly sketched characters.

Myrna had posted notices about the Free City, requesting companion adventurers for lucrative dungeon-delving. She worked on behalf of her ailing friend Granbarzhi, who sought comrades to explore a ruin he had named simply "Lonesome Hill Dungeon", beneath a ruined tower north of Diamond Lake, several days to the east. Granbarzhi succumbed to his illness just as the party was formed, however, and would never have the chance to complete his exploration of that promising ruin.

Spending a few days amongst the taverns of the River District, the party discussed their options. Castle Greyhawk seemed, according to recent rumours, too deadly. The old Greyhawk Dungeon, to the west, was apparently haunted by brigands as well as monsters. Myrna argued strongly for a foray out to Lonesome Hill, and prevailed.

The three day journey there concerned them, though, and they sought news of a caravan to travel with. In the meantime, amongst other things:
*Ledevis, the proud foreign fighter, sought to better himself at the Great Library.
*Myrna spruiked her goddess's healing magic amongst the sore-backed dock-workers of Hutsham, to earn coin for her planned chapel.
*The (almost) charmingly naive Bronzetoad planned to improve Myrna's prospects for gain by ambushing and injuring wealthy looking bar patrons. He was very lucky not to get himself in dire trouble- that's what cold feet at the last moment are for, I suppose...
*Arrmand acted as bodyguard to Myrna.

 Eventually, Myrna tracked down some caravan guards, bought them many drinks, and convinced them to let the party tag along on a journey culminating in Diamond Lake itself- adventurer muscle wouldn't hurt on those Cairn Hills trails  anyway. Faralin checked with his contacts in the Theives' Guild, and confirmed that the caravan wasn't being staked out for ambush by them- the Guild had interests in the silk trade the caravan was mounting.

The caravan set out at dawn the next day, heading through the thicketed hills to the north after passing through a couple of sleepy hamlets. Myrna conversed with some pilgrims who journeyed with the caravan, devotees of Heironeus who were bound eventually for Goldplain in Urnst. Arrmand pointed out some familiar landmarks to the party, and Ledevis, talking with the caravan guards, heard tell of a recent attack by a dragon upon another caravan to the southeast. The warm day passed without event, and by evening they arrived at the canyon-nestled mining town of Blackstone, where the caravan set up camp.Weary after their journey, the party went to sleep early, and the caravan passed the night unmolested.

The next day, heading further north into the hills, the caravan passed through the mud spattered mine-town of Steaming Springs late in the morning, and felt glad they weren't camping there. In the afternoon, they met an armed patrol of militia from Greyhawk, passing south, who had recently slaughtered a large band of goblins encamped around a gully on the way to Elmshire. Apparently this group of humanoids were skulking, awaiting an easy ambush. The patrol had made short work of them, and pointed out the smoke from the corpsepyre some miles ahead.

Upon approaching the smouldering pile, the party members stopped to look throught he battle-leavings, much to the distaste of the caravaneers. They even tossed through the pathetic discarded weapon pile, Bronzetoad casting Detect Magic in case the patrol had missed a magical item. No such luck. All they found were a half-dozen serviceable javelins.

Just on evening, they arrived at the pretty halfling settlement of Elmshire, nestled on the reedy banks of the Nyr Dyv. Already, the myriad lanterns and candles burned in windowsills and doorstoops, creating a lovely tranquil scene of merriment after their grimy day. Groups of friendly halflings came out to greet the caravan, which set up an impromptu fireside cloth market, pleasing the halfling goodwives no end. In response, local cellarer's wheeled out ale and mead stalls, and a jolly party ensued, presided over by no less a personage than the mayor, Windsor Greenshade. Myrna, Arrmand and Calidus, appreciative of the hospitality, enjoyed the festivities all evening. Other party members were somewhat more... wayward.

*Bronzetoad, the slightly cracked Olmen Magic-User, haggled with a local craftsman to purchase a handnet, then, having wallowed through the reedy shallows to catch a swarm of croaking lake-frogs, payed the remainder of the net's bill -in frogs- to the bewildered old halfling, and set off back to the fire to cook and devour his own share of the unlucky amphibians...

*Ledivis, the supposedly honourable foreign Fighter, stole a bale of black cloth from one of the wagons...

*But the real jaunt was on the part of the moustachioed Illusionist, Tuzunie, and the Elven Thief, Faralin. Tuzunie convinced Faralin that, with the mayor occupied with the festivities, the time was ripe for plundering his mansion...


Little did they know- Windsor Greenshade, the mayor, was a retired adventurer, not above unscrupulous activities of his own so long as it aided his beloved town of Elmshire. Kind of a halfling Al Swearingen, if you will. At least, thats what I took from his brief write-up in GoF on the fly...

So they finally find the biggest halfling tunnel-house in town, but its not actually abandoned, as they can tell. Lights are on, people are moving about etc. They sneak around the back, finding a lovely herb garden by the open kitchen door, and a halfling matron cooking tasty-smelling pies, and voices from the next room.

Lurking in the shadows, our pair of rascals determines to:
A: Light Tuzunie's torch with a tinderbox, and set the herb-garden on fire.
B: Cast Phantasmal Force, making phantasmal flames appear to set the roof on fire.
C: In the confusion, Tuzunie will pose as a heroic helpful bystander, whilst Faralin loots the house.

Whatever the quality of this plan, the dice were not kind:
A: The matron, hearing the tinderbox outside the door, and seeing the garden alight, shouts "Nob, Rollo! Someone's in the garden, quick!"
B: Male voices shout, drawn weapons are heard
C: The rascals, missing their cue, do NOT flee.
D: The illusion is cast, while Faralin lurks.
E: Nob, a black-clad tough-looking halfling, seeing the house alight, rushes to get a bucket of water.
F: Rollo, another black-clad tough-looking halfling goes outside to see what's up, and easily spots Faralin. "OI! What are you up to?!"
G: Faralin sheepishly steps out of the shadows, open handed- "I, um, came... to help..."
H: Rollo draws his snazzy shortsword, "Do you think I was born yesterday?"
I: Giving up concentrating on his illusion, the unseen Tuzunie flees into the streets...
J: Faralin fails initiative. Rollo stabs him in the guts (straight to 0 hp), and the elf, aghast, blacks out from the pain.


Tuzunie, dodging curious neighbours, eventually made his way back to the caravan. Eventually, Faralin awoke, hands bound, a poultice on his stinging stab-wound, and stripped down to his breeches. Rollo, Nob and the matron were going through his equipment. "What were you up to? Who were you with?" Rollo demanded, his sword at the elf's jugular. Faralin shrugged. "I was going to rob you. I was by myself."

This approach won Faralin the grudging respect of the halflings. The last thing he heard as Rollo dragged him out the back way, was the matron explaining to neighbours that she had poured hot oil in the garden, and started a fire. Faralin realised the nasty hobbits were going to pinch his stuff...

Rollo dragged Faralin down into a creek-bed at sword point, and saying "Consider yourself lucky!", cold-cocked him and left him there. He awoke near dawn, black-eyed, bare-footed, shirtless, and on 1 hp.

We left it there this week, as it was late. Great game, nice guys one and all. Next week they should arrive at Lonesome Hill, albeit with an equipmentless Thief...   :)



  1. I don't generally enjoy reading other people's session recaps, but you had me thoroughly hooked and I finished the post with a laugh and a smile. Well done on a great first session.

  2. Thanks Dave! I kind of barrelled on with prep for this game despite various niggling self-doubts, but everyone had a great time. Very much looking forward to next week- we should get a lot more done now character generation is done...

  3. Agree with Austro. I am on record for only enjoying few and far between session reports, this was a good read brimming with Greyhawkian (is there such a word?) yumminess. Or maybe it's just that I like the idea of a hobbit Sweringen.

    Seriously a great kickoff for the campaign.

  4. Thanks, ckutalik! I don't mind the odd session recap myself, although I too tend to read them based on whether I enjoy the writer's style. I also enjoy reading textual extrapolations of settings I like based on the experience of players therein.

    As a DM, and if I can be that diligent, I'd like to keep a record for the group, and give a printed copy to any interested participants as a memento at the end. I guess we'll see whether that happens or not... ;)