Monday, August 11, 2014

"The Lost Mine of Elder Flinch", Chapter 1

This week, we decide to re-boot the campaign using Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition.

The Scene
When we left our party, they were in Swallow. Some were recuperating, some were training, others were researching the identity and provenance of recently acquired magical items.

I had given the group experience points, which I allow them to distribute amongst themselves as they see fit, and was all set to run them through the Defile of Castragon. The players, Woobee, Scott, and Trevor, were sitting around doing bookkeeping and arguing about the proper and fair distribution and allocation of experience points.

It was Friday. The D&D Fifth Edition Players Handbook had just been released. We had talked about switching to Fifth Edition at some point in the near future. However, my plan was to delay until October or

My Reasons
My reasons for the planned delay were due to the following:
  1. When we switched from Dungeon Crawl Classics to AD&D, Lucinda purchased an AD&D Players Handbook on eBay. I wanted to make sure she got the most bang from her purchase.
  2. Lucinda is expecting a baby and would likely go on maternity leave in October or November.
  3. The Monster Manual won't be released until September 30th. Not having a Monster Manual is a severe restraint on my improvisation of new adventure material.
  4. My birthday is August 28th and I was planning on getting the Fifth Edition PHB for my birthday.
However, in the past few weeks I have become increasingly annoyed at some of the idiosyncrasies and complexities of AD&D. I had made a decision early on to use as much AD&D as-written as possible and keep house-ruling to a minimum. It had now become evident that had I to decide all over again on a system to convert to from DCC, I would choose essentially Basic Fantasy RPG, a retro-clone of Basic that splits class and race.

Anyway, so we were talking about converting, my plans for the conversion, and my reasons for the delay. In addition to the reasons I listed above, I added the following caveats:
  • A. Even if we converted right now, due to my lack of a Monster Manual, I'd only be able to run published adventures: either the Lost Mine of Phandelver or the Tyranny of Dragons.
  • B. Because I lacked the PHB, and wasn't expecting to have one until the 28th, the players would be limited to Basic classes and races.
  • C. As a result of A and B, the players wouldn't be able to convert existing characters over. They'd have to start at first level with new characters.
Then Trevor said, "Well, I have a Player's Handbook!" And we all said, "WHUH???"
Trevor had a Fifth Edition PHB. He had stopped off at Guardian Games on the way to gaming and picked one up.

Woobee and Scott started looking through it. They loved it.

Suddenly, I was sick of AD&D. I was done. Also, I saw an opportunity to end the stupid argument/debate over XP allocation that I knew would probably lead to inter-player conflict, passive-aggressiveness, and future complaints.

Pulling the Trigger
I said, "Fuck it! Let's play fifth edition!"

I decided to run the Lost Mines of Phandelver. Everyone would have to make new first-level characters (only later did I figure out way to convert existing characters, but they'd have to start over at first level, see below).

So Woobee, Scott, and Trevor made first-level characters:

  • Woobee made a Hill-folk (Halfling) Ranger (soldier background).
  • Scott made a Sylvan (Forest Elf) Druid (hermit background).
  • Trevor made a Half-Orc Barbarian (hermit background).

I decided to continue the campaign in the world of Agartha. Everyone agreed that we had invested a lot of time and imagination in this setting and it had become a place everyone was familiar with. It had become "real". I'll have to make some adjustments to the setting. I'll also have to make adjustments to the adventure to remove the Forgotten Realms and insert it somewhere in or around the Xanthus River Valley. For example, instead of Waterdeep, the PCs would start in Horek. Instead of Phaldelver, they'd be headed for Flinch.

The Lost Mine of Elder Flinch
The new party started in Horek. They were hired by a dwarven miner to escort a caravan through the Defile of Castragon to the village of Flinch. Their employer and his human fighter bodyguard were to travel ahead and make preparations. The party was to drive a slow ox-cart full of supplies through the pass and meet their employer in Flinch.

Halfway through the first day, while ascending the twisting ravines of the Defile of Castragon, the party came across the remains of their employer's horses. There was no sign of their employer or his bodyguard.

The hill-folk ranger noticed movement in the boulders above them overlooking the ravine and spotted two rock-goblins. Before he could shout ambush, two other rock-goblins unleashed a volley of arrows as the party. The ranger fired back, killing a goblin. The second fired an arrow at the sylvan, hitting him between the eyes! The druid fell limp to the ground.

The other two began clambering down the hill to join in melee battle. The barbarian fired back, killing the second rock-goblin. The two remaining rock-goblins met our heroes in battle. The brave ranger rushed to the aid of the dying sylvan but was unable to save him. The sylvan druid's life slipped away despite the efforts of his diminutive companion.

It was the ranger who was next to fall, cut down by the scimitar of a vile goblinoid killer. The barbarian then made short work of the two rock-goblins before rushing to the aid of his tiny companion. The ranger was saved by the immediate ministrations of his barbarian colleague.

The pair lamented and mourned the loss of their colleague of their travelling companion. After a few hours of rest, the ranger felt well enough to continue.

From the remains of the ambush it became clear that their dwarven employer and his human bodyguard had been captured and taken away as prisoners. Their tracks led to a trail among the rocks. The pair decided to follow the trail and rescue their employer.

The ranger and the barbarian followed the trail for several hours. The pair narrowly avoided a snare set by the rock-goblins but the ranger missed a deep pit, into which he fell and injured himself.

Eventually, they found a stream emanating from a cave in the mountainside. The cave mouth was covered in cactus-like thorn bushes common to this side of the Great Wall mountain range. Lurking nearby they encountered another sylvan!

The sylvan was a fighter, a distant relative to their druid companion who had recently died, as it happened. The elven fighter had been searching for these goblins for some time now and had only recently found their lair. They decided to work together to rescue the dwarf and his bodyguard and eliminate the rock-goblin raiders.

As they stealthily approached the cave entrance, they spotted two rock-goblin guards sleeping behind a blind of cactus thorn-bush. The trio quietly prepared their bows and fired into the goblinoids, killing them before they could wake.

At that, they splashed into the stream and ventured into the dark void of the cave.


After Thoughts
I couldn't wait for my birthday. I went out and bought my own PHB on Saturday. I regret nothing!

I really like Fifth Edition. Here's a list of all the things I like:
  • The simple skill/proficiency system
  • Advantage/Disadvantage
  • Backgrounds
  • Spell slots
  • Armor
It's a nice synthesis of all the good parts of all previous editions. I can easily tell what parts are first edition, what parts are third edition, what parts are fourth edition, and what parts are innovations. Wizards did a really good job.

I gave my players an option. They can create new first-level characters or they can convert their existing characters over but re-start at first edition.

I feel bad about re-starting the campaign at first level. My original plan was to wait until I got a Monster Manual and then convert existing characters over. There were two things wrong with that plan:
  1. It's a new edition and I think its important for players to start from the beginning to get a feel for what their options are in play.
  2. I would have to wait until October!
Lucinda has chosen to convert Babu. He will be re-set at first level. Here's what happened:
Babu (and any other character starting over) woke up in the temple of Thumina in Swallow. The last thing they remember is being in Swallow. Weeks have passed. Babu has no possessions and no memory of the last several weeks.

Babu (and any others) was the victim of a vampire! He has had his levels drained and was near death. He (and any others) have spent the last few weeks recuperating.

He must start anew. He must create a new spellbook and fill it with magic. He must re-learn all his skills!
Soon, he (and any others) will be sent on a quest to Flinch to deal with some ruffians that have moved in. There Babu will meet up with any survivors of the Rock-Goblin's lair.

Trevor, on the other hand, is keeping Thaddeus off-line until we finish this adventure. Then he'll convert Thaddeus over and we'll pick up more or less where we left off.