I know I haven’t talked about it on the site before, but I have a weekly Dungeons and Dragons group. In the old days, once my group figured out I was a story teller, they immediately thrust the role of Dungeon Master onto my shoulders. I can understand to a degree. I like a good story too, and since I have practice building realistic worlds I’m the obvious choice. Problem is that as a story teller, I never told a little story. Modules are okay, but they always seem to leave certain innovative approaches or questions unaccounted for in their pages. Me? I told great big stories of dynamic worlds and multilayered plots in an open world long before games like GTA or Skyrim ever existed.
So, somehow by accident I fell into a situation where I – for the first time in so long I can’t remember – am not being asked to run the game. I get to develop just one character and interact with someone else’s rules and story. My character is Ambrose, spawn of Vyselior, plague among the disease normally known as elfdom. I’m a half-elven accident, abandoned in the woods as a newborn, pitied by a woodsman just long enough to eject me onto slum alleyways. Sickness and being subjected to the worst of the elements left me with severely diminished strength and constitution. I had to rely on my slightly above average wits, but moreso manipulation, pity and other charms. I conned my way onto a ship very young and worked my way up from cabin boy over almost two decades. The captain that originally hired me was a meticulously fair man who shared his profits with the crew in the same measure as he did with his officers.
Unfortunately, the officers didn’t all like their cut so they eventually mutinied. I didn’t participate in the rebellion, but having no where to go I stayed with the ship. The captain had powerful friends in his home barony. They sent corsairs to retake the ship and punish all involved in the mutiny and murder. Long bio shortened, the barony finally overtook the ship and sent me over the side to meet my maker – not that bastard elf that sired me.
Drowning, desperate, I was approached by a power that offered me revenge in exchange for service. I’d been harboring a lot of anger for a long time, so I took life and vengeance. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother with any of the fine print and found myself irrevocably tied to an enormously powerful demon. For those of you wanting game mechanics, Ambrose is Lawful Neutral, terrified of large bodies of water, has an extreme dedication to fair play, and tends to react even more extremely when betrayed.
My demonic patron has demanded my participation in a quest to find keys needed to unseal an old manor house where its (possibly) deceased owner opened a gate to the underworld. I learned that the third key rests on the Island of Seafarer’s Bane. If you can’t tell by the name, it’s the kind of place people don’t escape alive. It also happens to be across a lot of water.
After a lot of preparation and no small number of tortures/inducements and one suicide attempt which forced a ring of water walking onto my hand, I informed my group about third key. I advised them that NO ONE would sail us to this island willingly no matter how much we offered them and once they knew our destination (upon arrival) they’d weigh anchor and sail away like my patron was on their heels. Our cleric (played by my daughter) refused to let us steal a ship and press-gang a crew. Her temple extorted passage out of some ship, paying them obscene sums.
Guess what happened when we got to the island? They tried to leave. Duh! Above you see me running across the water trying to disable the ship. I succeeded in part, but was unable to defeat a sorcerer twice my level and take the ship back – though I have it in confidence that one more hit would’ve taken him, pity I don’t meta-game. I caught up with the party on the beach, told them what had happened, and they decided to let the ship (and our only known way off the island) go. *Sigh*
This island? Well, look for yourself. It’s a jungle of extra-worldly plants, some almost benign and others carnivorous and sentient. We’ve found bushes of berries the size of apples that grow you when consumed and an unending supply of hulkified insects. [Ignore the castle, that’s just the DM’s screen.]
As we enter each section of jungle, the DM is rolling for encounters every 10 minutes of game time. After we’ve fought our way through about five, the encounter frequency drops to one an hour. If you’ve ever played, you can imagine we’re just barely staying alive. Replenishing spells for our ranger and our cleric is a nightmare and most of us are using melee and cantrips as mainstays and saving the big canons for when we’re in deep trouble. Somewhere at the center of this island, probably inside the big nasty volcanic mountain our DM built (he loves building all this stuff) is probably a ruin which holds our key – a key most of us really don’t want to find. I mean who really wants to take down a barrier surrounding a gate directly into the underworld? (Other than my daughter who just REALLY likes killing undead.) By the way, that’s her in the last two pictures next to the big nasty carnivorous plant the DM named “Angry Carrot” in Latin. Damn thing did it’s best can crusher imitation, trying to swallow canned halfling, platemail and all.
As for story plot, this island is big on combat and light on anything interesting. We’ve brought a little ourselves. Our 6’6″ barbarian is eyeing the enlargement berries with an eye toward 10′ height. An elf ranger got marooned with us. The cleric won’t let me kill her, something about her being marooned means she’s not a spy – as if my patron hasn’t infiltrated the group a couple times to “test” us with big nasty surprises. Seems he likes to keep his warlocks on their toes (not to mention prune the number of clerics from the party, we’re down to one from an original three.)
Seems a shame not to share pictures of all the work our DM puts into our campaign, so I’ll post more later.That’s it for D&D until next week’s adventure.
“We’re never getting off this island,” Casi, Halfling Cleric