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Adventures in DM'ing
#1
Scroll-rolled 
I managed to put together a band of brand new players to D&D after failing to look for a group I could join. To do so, I decided to be the DM, so I chose to run the group through the 5e starter set adventure of The Lost Mines of Phandelver. All of the players love it, but because the characters aren't of their own making, I get the sense that they aren't very well invested in their characters. While kinda disappointing from an RP standpoint, my goal is to have the players learn the mechanics of tabletop RPGs first and foremost.  I would like to recount my tale so far as to the lovely headache my party has put me through. And to give everyone an idea as to which characters are included in the starter set (I do recommend running the adventure for its sake, it is pretty good), the set comes with a Dwarven Cleric, a Halfling Rogue, a High Elf Wizard, and two Human Fighters, one specializing in defense, and the other in archery.


So at the very start of the adventure, the group encounters something suspicious while driving a wagon. The rogue immediately jumps out and stealths and comes across a couple of goblins, who didn't see her because she scored higher on her stealth check. She successfully assassinated the first goblin with a nat 20, then tried to assassinate the second. She left it with one hit point left, whereupon the goblin turned around, rolled a nat 20, and dropped her unconscious in one hit. The Cleric wanted to help her, but I reminded him that he didn't know the rogue left since she snuck out the back of the wagon. The cleric decided to inspect the suspicious thing and was ambushed by the remaining goblins. After dispatching two of the remaining goblins and rendering the fourth unconscious via a sleep spell by the wizard, the cleric tried to search for the rogue, and almost stepped on her head several times. After reviving her, the group tied up the goblin before he woke up and convinced it to lead them to its hideout, whereupon they named him Otis.

After going through the goblin hideout, almost getting flushed out (literally), assaulting some chained up wolves, lose Otis, putting a whole cavern of goblins to sleep where they played whack-a-mole with them, and defeating the goblin leader with a dagger throw to the leader's neck when he tried to run away (the wizard slipped climbing down a hole and knocked herself unconscious), the Rogue falls unconscious again, and the party finds Otis and the Rogue takes him as her pet, where I had to homebrew some rules based on the Ranger for him (little did I know this was the start of the party creating more work for me). The party then makes their way to their original destination, Phandalin. They completed their first task, picked up several new quests, and had new players join the group, where we have now have in the party: one wizard, one rogue, and two clerics.

At this time, the new cleric donated all of his gold to a shrine, the Rogue was charged double rent for her having a "pet" goblin (security deposit), and the Rogue later accidentally threatened her aunt, who lives in Phandalin (I forgot who her aunt was and the player didn't read her background, so I had to retcon that she was in disguise). After collecting quests and encountering a band of ruffians, who nearly killed Otis and the Rogue used a potion on him (to the dismay of the Wizard, who hates the goblin) and Otis having a spiritual awakening, the group makes their way to investigate reports of undead, before which an, Archery Fighter joins the party. On their way to find undead, the party spent an entire session travelling. They encountered Stirges who immediately went after the Rogue since she was carrying a glowing sword the second Cleric enchanted. They slept and spent the next day travelling. On the third day, the Rogue woke up to seeing a band of hobgoblins scouting the area around them. The Archery Fighter was out scouting ahead. When she couldn't wake up the rest of the party, she screamed for the name of the fighter and got the attention of the hobgoblins. She went unconscious again (you can see a pattern), and it took a while for the rest of the party to wake up. The hobgoblins were defeated, the party went on their way.

The next session, more travelling (seriously, the group took too many detours), where one of the clerics and the fighter dueled, and there was a lot of nothing happening. So I threw an Ogre at them. The got their team synergy going after two of them nearly dying (the fighter rolled a nat 1 and I had his longbow snap, dealing him damage and he fell unconscious). After the damaged team members got back up, the fighter went melee, cut the ogre's achilles' tendon, the Rogue on top of the Ogre, and after dealing damage, the Fighter dealt the killing blow by slicing off the ogre's *ahem* bits, where he bled out and the fighter was covered in blood and....goo.  The party came across a stream, where the women decided to bathe. The fighter (who is LAWFUL GOOD) followed them and was taken down by Otis, defending the Rogue's honor, upon which he referred to her as a goddess in Goblin. The Rogue learned of this by learning Goblin when she levelled up to level 3 after spending so much time with Otis.

After finally making their way to the location where there were undead, the Rogue decided to try to stealth into a tent set up in the middle of the ruin, where she was paralyzed by a wizard who deemed her harmless and sent her on her way. The party decided to enter the ruin, where they aggro'd a group of zombies. The wizard, identified as a necromancer, was not happy and took the Rogue as a hostage and used the party to remove some orcs for him. The party went to the Orc cave, and managed to bloody parlay them to defeat the necromancer, which led to what we term "The Lord of the Rings Epic Battle". I had to roll for two separate armies attacking each other. The sheer amount of side work I had to do was a headache and I spent more time rolling and figuring out damage and describing what I'm doing to myself than the players doing much. Anyway, the players and their Orc army defeated the Zombies, the necromancer was smashed by a Ogre's club, and the Orcs and the party fought after a turn of betrayal and the Orcs were eliminated. 

That's pretty much the gist of what's going on in the adventure and how much of it has derailed. Let me know what you guys think of it so far and I'll try to update the story as it progresses.
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#2
*Note* I forgot to give names to the characters. One of the clerics' names is Striker, and the other is named Daver, The wizard is Gurrita, The rogue is Seraphina, her goblin is Otis, and the archery fighter is Squanch.

The party took a rest at the former Orc camp after a long battle. Gurrita saw some old carvings and letters in the ruins where the necromancer was staying at, and decided to stay and research them, Striker with her for protection. Upon separating, the rest of the party travelled to the ruins of Conyberry to seek out a banshee named Agatha. The party made their way into Neverwinter Woods, where they found a domed structure made from growing branches, inside of which they found a dwelling of sorts composed of very old furniture that are elven in design. Daver stayed outside to keep watch while Seraphina, Squanch, and Otis went inside the dome structure. After they entered, they summoned the Banshee, and Seraphina realized that she did not have the jeweled comb that they were asked to present to Agatha. She requested that the banshee wait a moment, and grabbed Daver. While Daver was trying to figure out what to say, Seraphina got impatient and demanded that Agatha tell them one thing in exchange for the comb. Agatha did not take to the way Seraphina spoke to her, so she faded away. The party made their way back to Phandalin, arriving very late and managed to find a place to sleep in Daran Edermath's barn; a former adventurer and Squanch's master (Squanch was a new player so I had to introduce him into the game).

After a rest, the party visited the Townmaster to collect the reward on killing the orc raiders. When they entered the Townmaster's Hall, they came across the Townmaster's assistant, and Seraphina presented a sack of Orc heads to her, stating that they wished to see the Townmaster. Looking sick at the sight of the bloody bag and the decapitated Orc head Seraphina pulled out, the assistant said that the Townmaster was currently with someone else. The party then heard an argument escalate in the Townmaster's office, and a human in fancy-looking chainmail armor stormed out, furious. Seraphina told Squanch to follow him, on a hunch that he would be useful, and she went into the Townmaster's office. She presented the heads to the Townmaster, at the sight of which he panicked, gave her the reward, and told her to leave with the sack of heads. She walked out, and plopped the sack on top of the assistant's desk, and as she left, she heard a door open, the assistant shriek, and the door shutting again.

The human Squanch followed is a human fighter named Kojack, who was in town after hearing that Sildar Hallwinter, the human the party rescued from the Goblin cave, recently travelled there. He heard around town about the problems with a gang called the Redbrands, and he went to the Townmaster to ask for his support in dealing with them and did not get anywhere with the man. Kojack agreed to join the party in their mission to take care of the Redbrands, and the party went back to the barn to wait until night to invade the Redbrand's hideout.

That night, the party snuck into the Redbrand hideout via a hidden tunnel. They entered a cavern with a crevasse inside. Seraphina and Otis scouted ahead, with Seraphina finding two doors with voices behind both of them to the west, and Otis scouting to the north and finding a storage room (Seraphina learned Goblin from Otis from the time she spent with him). The party went down the west hallway and stormed the door. Kojack kicked the door in with such force that it blew in and hitting two bugbears in the room. The party rushed in and attacked. After a fierce battle that included Kojack lodging his greataxe in the wall, Seraphina trying to swing upon one of the bugbears and because her momentum was so great, she flung herself too high, hit the ceiling, and fell to the floor, and Squanch and Kojack getting beat up pretty badly. With Seraphina and Otis making an incredible combo attack on the Bugbear leader and Squanch decapitating the last standing bugbear, we leave the party at the moment of their victory, where the story will continue next week.
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#3
I enjoyed reading this very much. Please keep sharing!
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#4
Ouch, snapped his longbow on a nat 1? That's pretty rough.
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#5
(09-30-2015, 07:16 AM)mentalburnout Wrote: Ouch, snapped his longbow on a nat 1? That's pretty rough.
When I DM, a nat 1 is an epic fail, and that sometimes includes breaking a weapon, losing one, hitting an ally, or whatever I randomly decide. I actually incorporated that into Squanch having a reputation in Phandalin in breaking longbows along with a humorous interaction between him and the storekeeper at the Lionshield Coster XD
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#6
Crazy. Do you confirm crits or is it an auto epic fail on 1s?
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#7
(09-30-2015, 08:29 AM)SuperZeo Wrote: When I DM, a nat 1 is an epic fail, and that sometimes includes breaking a weapon, losing one, hitting an ally, or whatever I randomly decide. I actually incorporated that into Squanch having a reputation in Phandalin in breaking longbows along with a humorous interaction between him and the storekeeper at the Lionshield Coster XD

 That's where being a Halfling would come in handy!  Yay for Halflings!!
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#8
(09-30-2015, 09:51 AM)mentalburnout Wrote: Crazy. Do you confirm crits or is it an auto epic fail on 1s?

Auto epic fail on nat 1s. I find epic fails are just as fun as crits for the group. They're designed to add an additional challenge to the battle present to increase the sense of suspense and danger. They take it pretty well. I do it to keep them flexible in their thinking, and to give me some entertainment >Grinning

(09-30-2015, 11:08 AM)misstray Wrote:
(09-30-2015, 08:29 AM)SuperZeo Wrote: When I DM, a nat 1 is an epic fail, and that sometimes includes breaking a weapon, losing one, hitting an ally, or whatever I randomly decide. I actually incorporated that into Squanch having a reputation in Phandalin in breaking longbows along with a humorous interaction between him and the storekeeper at the Lionshield Coster XD

 That's where being a Halfling would come in handy!  Yay for Halflings!!

Yeah, Seraphina is a Halfling Rogue and she forgot to use that trait.
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#9
Well as long as the players are comfortable with it. Its not my style, especially just deciding the fail based on "whatever I feel like happening". If i were to do a critical fail/success i would want a table the players could roll on so they at least have some control over what happens and the results are fair to the whole group. But every campaign has a different feel to it and if everyone is enjoying themselves thats what matters.
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#10
(10-01-2015, 01:47 PM)mentalburnout Wrote: Well as long as the players are comfortable with it. Its not my style, especially just deciding the fail based on "whatever I feel like happening". If i were to do a critical fail/success i would want a table the players could roll on so they at least have some control over what happens and the results are fair to the whole group. But every campaign has a different feel to it and if everyone is enjoying themselves thats what matters.

I thought about that, and I figured it would make things predictable. For example, in the fight with the bugbears in the second part, Seraphina rolled a nat 20 on an Athletics check to see if she could jump on one of the bugbears' back, followed by a nat 1 on her attack roll. So I made her epically run up to the bugbear, jump and grab on the hair on its arm, swing up, ready to stab it. But because she rolled a 1 on the attack, I made it so that her momentum was too strong, and she flung herself into the ceiling and fell to the floor, taking fall damage 'cause she fell 10 feet, and was knocked prone. If I had a table for nat 1s, that wouldn't have happened, and the creativity behind the game gets stale. I like getting creative with what happens, but I'm more limited as the DM; therefore describing nat 20s and nat 1s as epic attacks or fails is part of the fun I get to have. The nat 1 policy also applies to enemy creatures.  In the case with the ogre I threw at them, it rolled a 1 in an attempt to grab Seraphina as she was on on top of his back. I had it smack itself in the face, taking damage. Same with with the party facing the zombie horde. The zombies rolled 1s and attacked each other. A player really doesn't have control over what happens since it's all up to a roll of the die.
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