And now for something completely different.
As of late I’ve been running D&D for a couple of friends in the accommodation that I’ve been sharing and writing a campaign diary inspired by Matt Colville’s videos that detailed his own campaign. You can go to the full playlist by clicking here. Since I thought they were very enjoyable to listen to I thought I might as well share my experiences as well and see how you guys enjoy it. I might do more, I might not. I suppose it really depends on the audience reaction to them.
Not too long ago I started a spontaneous D&D campaign with my tower mates Tammy and Troy and decided that it might be a good practice to start a campaign diary like Matt Colville’s video series on YouTube. I’ll write entries after each session in the book I have but I think I’ll upload them a week or two later just so my players can avoid spoilers. Hopefully through writing these I can reflect on what I learned or what I think could be improved.
So who are our characters? Troy is playing a high elf rogue by the name of Tyrone and Tyrone is from the untamed wilderness of the Outlands to the south beyond the great wall that encircles the country. He’s not good with words but he’s basically straight out of cirque du soleil.
Tammy meanwhile is playing the gnomish druid Ecks and is seeking out the answer to a question she has been able to figure out in her long years of solitude in the Outlands. What that question is exactly hasn’t exactly been discussed but I’m sure we’ll figure something out.
Before I get deeper into this I also wanted to mention that I was making pretty much all of this stuff up on the fly. Troy had literally just finished making his character and wanted to play immediately which is probably a very good sign.
The two characters meet up on a dirt road leading north and, seeing as they’re travelling the same way, decide to group up. Wandering down the path they find an ornate scabbard inscribed with an elven name, Sildar Goblin-Bane. I had intended for them to find some random trinket that might play into some story later so I rolled on the trinket table on the player’s handbook. Around the scabbard were a lot of footprints that seem to lead off into the forest. The pair tracks the footprints and the tracks lead them to a camp of goblins! But not just any marauding goblins as these ones seem to be carrying a prisoner with them in a sack. Ecks and Tyrone both briefly debate on what to do before deciding to try and free the prisoner.
They have the advantage of stealth and surprise so the goblins outnumbering them aren’t too much of a problem. Ecks cast entangle on the goblins to keep them from moving around and Tyrone took shots at them with his shortbow, getting a few sneak attacks off and killing their leader instantly. Ecks slays the rest with his poison spray and the goblins are no more.
Untying the sack they find the high elf noble that had been kidnapped, Sildar. I stole the name pretty much directly from the adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver. Sorry, I mean Palandelhoogi. Sildar his happy that he was rescued and decides to buy the party drinks back at the tavern in the nearby town, Hoerest. They also looted the goblins and Ecks found a small crystal of bloodstained quartz which seemed to contain some magical power within it, so he kept it.
But people in town don’t seem that happy to see Sildar and aren’t keen on having adventurers meddle in their affairs, specifically a man named Bodric, an ex-guard farmer and de facto leader of the town. One of his daughters was wounded in a recent goblin raid for food and supplies and so he’s a little on edge.
Sildar ignores Bodric’s jeering and sits at a table with Ecks and Tyrone. He pays them a reward in gold for rescuing him and also gives them a magic dagger that gives a +3 bonus to damage against goblinoid creatures. It’s not exactly a very powerful magic item but it still has its uses. After that Sildar explains his quest to the others and offers to hire them for their assistance in the matter. He wants to clear out the goblins that have been bothering this town in order to truly earn his family name. The party agrees and a party is formed.
Later that night Tyrone decides to head out and explore the town a little as, being a high elf he only needs to meditate for four hours instead of sleeping for a whole night. He had a close encounter with the local night watchman named Tom and an unrelated cat, but otherwise didn’t find anything interesting in town.
The next day the party goes about trying to convince Bodric to let them help out with the goblins. The night before when he was about to go to bed Tyrone had a chat with the local bartender and Bodric’s niece named Ashe. Ashe was sympathetic with them and instructed them to go talk to Bodric’s son Nodric whom she had made sure was in a different field to his father during the harvest. Nodric was willing to help the party out with the goblin problem but as they were talking to him they were interrupted by Bodric. One of his younger sons had seen the party talking to Nodric and told their father.
Tyrone, in an attempt to defuse the situation, tries to argue that they only want to help out with the harvest. I have Troy roll for persuasion and, wouldn’t you know it? He rolls a natural 20!
Boric is genuinely surprised by this. Adventurers to him never seemed to want to do any kind of honest work and this has turned around his perception of the party at least. So he hands them all some tools and they spend the rest of the day pulling up turnips, carrots and potatoes.
That night at the inn Bodric chats with the party. He knows that they’re still planning on dealing with the goblins and refuses to let his son go with them. Why? Because he’s going with them instead. This was a pretty big surprise to the party and a very cool moment. Everyone’s happy and so they decide to go rest for the night. Unfortunately nobody is quite sure where the goblins have made their base, but there are a few possibilities like an old caved-in mineshaft a little while outside of town or a giant hollow oak tree.
After his meditation, Tyrone gets bored and decides to patrol the town with Tom. And it’s a good thing he did too because a group of goblin scouts appear and attack! Tom hollers out and alarm, alerting the townsfolk as the fight begins. At the end of it there are two dead goblins and Tom has the third in a chokehold. He and Bodric decide to keep this one alive to question (read: beat up and interrogate) this goblin and the others decide to go back to bed, even if Ecks isn’t terribly okay with the implied torture.
Tyrone however decides to make some small talk with Ashe and gets roped into a drinking contest with her. Despite his low charisma they seem to have really hit it off. Against all odds Tyrone actually manages to hold his liquor and wins the contest which ends with Tyrone walking Ashe home. After he gets back to the tavern Sildar taunts him a little as he overheard basically everything through the floorboards and Tyrone retreats back to his room.
Morning comes and the party rides out into the forest. Bodric has identified the location of the hideout, which was the old mineshaft. They take with them a barrel of oil with the intent to smoke the goblins out.
After dealing with the sentries outside and the goblins inside, the party see something surprising; an orc standing over the corpse of a slain and mutilated bugbear, the actual boss of the goblins. Nobody has any idea how this orc got in here, but they know he’s angry and about to attack them. Ecks also noticed that the bloodstained quartz seemed to react with the altar in the corner of the room, which was dedicated to the goblin god Maglubiyet.
Battle began and the party were absolutely terrified of this orc! Rightly so because as a boss monster I gave him a hit point boost and a few legendary actions, so he was tougher than a normal orc but could even act on the players’ turns which really threw them for a loop! Ecks managed to bait him out to the front of the mine where he cast entangle once more and the party peppered the orc with arrows until he fell.
That was where we stopped playing for that session but it was still a good few hours of play and extremely fun for everyone involved.
So what did I learn that session? Well, flying by the seat of your pants is a little difficult but a lot of fun when done right! I imagine that it’d get harder as things go on so I’ll probably have to make more notes so it doesn’t become a jumbled snarl of loose threads.
But as for other things I feel I could change or improve, I need to remember what stuff the party has at their disposal. For instance I completely forgot about the bloodstained quartz until Tammy mentioned it again. That and I should get better with managing the party NPCs as I ran Sildar basically without a statblock. But then again maybe I didn’t really need to as Sildar still served his purpose and didn’t get in the way of the players having fun. But it did feel a little weird not having any concrete stats for him, so that might change in the future.
Speaking of the future, what are my plans for next session? Well, that orc got into that mine somehow without getting noticed by all those goblins and managed to assassinate their leader. Maybe it could be something as petty as warring tribes, but it could be a part of something bigger like a rivalry between Gruumsh and Maglubiyet. I’ll have to think a bit more about this in my own time.
Hope you guys enjoyed reading this! If you guys wanted to hear more about all of this be sure to say so! I’d be happy to share more of my campaign with you guys!