Again we play the Heretical DnD, and again it works.
This was the beginning of a real campaign, though, not just a playtest. So we did get to take the rules for a spin, but there was a lot of free-wheeling “make stuff up” as well.
Sunshine ( +Peter V. Dell’Orto ) – 1st level human monk (hatchets and martial arts)
Adaemis the Servitor – 1st level cleric to the god of light (mace, shield, and chain mail)
Jack Redwald – 1st level alternate Ranger (longbow, rapier, and leather armor)
Yuri the Soulscarred – 1st level warlock, pact to an archfey
Graves Battleborne – 1st level fighter, chain, warhammer, light crossbow, and glaive
Tom Rakewell – 1st level rogue, leather, rapier, dagger(s), and shortbow
We started out in one of the northernmost cities in the kingdom (call it Duluth) that the adventures launch from, with six mostly down-on-their-luck adventurers deciding that the seediest of the three inns I provided them with descriptions of (thanks, donjon!) was their kind of place.
Friends in Low Places
After kicking it around and winning some money off some folks, they noted that there were two groups that seemed out of place. A dwarven priestess was circulating, talking to folks. Fair and well dressed, she was definitely not from around here. The other was a pair of ragged-looking folks that claimed to be merchants.
Engaging with both in turn, they found out that the two “merchants” had somehow come across a load of a valuable quarry rock as they were moving from the only city farther north than this one – call it Grand Marais. They quickly assembled a “guard” of a few local woodsmen to get the stuff from Grand Marais to Duluth.
But they never made it. Something attacked them in the night, and at the first sign of trouble, they bolted, leaving their erstwhile guards to their fates. The cart and horse that they left behind was their only real possession, and so they arrived in Duluth destitute, and in trouble with the merchants guild to boot.
The priestess revealed that a different caravan had left Grand Marais – there’s a dwarven settlement there – and had never arrived in Duluth. The priestess was slumming because no one was really that interested in tracking it down.
The players concluded that the same threat had gotten both caravans. They went to the merchant’s guild, and told of the plan to go investigate, since no one else would. The guild was happy to have someone go north to investigate – their resources to do so were tied up, and even if they weren’t, the number of missing caravans was worrisome but not catastrophic.
They offered the party the price of a cart and two horses – about 135gp – with 15gp up front. The party negotiated up to 30 gp up front, and 135 if they brought back evidence of what happened. They’re also given a more detailed map of the area, and they reason out the route that the “merchants” must have taken when they fled.
They gear up and head out.
Tracking and Fight
Keeping it short, they head north along the most likely route, and with some very nice rolls, easily find the path that the merchant’s took on their flight south. With some other rolls, including a roll of 25 on a Nature roll, they also see that in weeks before the merchants came south, a Large (game-mechanical large) humanoid had crossed the area. They guess ogre, troll, minotaur type stuff. But they also find traces of pursuit by more human foes, where six to a dozen man-sized creatures, and maybe a horse or two, came south after the merchants.
What to do?
The cleric casts Detect Evil and uses Insight to determine which of the two groups were more evil. The large humanoid wins, but not necessarily a a lot.
They seek it out, and arrive at a cave entrance which has the refuse and smashed remains of human and dwarven civilization strewn around the clearing at its mouth. The party makes a ton of good Stealth rolls (and the monster rolled a 5 for Perception anyway) . . . but then Graves the Fighter shouts out a ringing challenge.
Ogre McStupidface charges out of his cave, into a withering hail of missile fire. This depletes the ogre’s reserve of skill and luck quickly, and he rapidly starts taking wounds.
Still, he closes with graves and deals him a smashing blow to the torso – it might have killed him except for a heavy armor master feat, which turned the blow.
The rest of the group piles on with more missiles, and finally two crits on three consecutive attacks push the ogre over the edge to death.
This game is maybe 60% real game and 40% playtest. The rules are robust enough to just play (yay!), but there are subtleties that come up, that are worth noting.
- I didn’t decide the native religion or pantheon that is core to the area that the adventurers hail from. Fixed that.
- Need a really good starter rumor table to provide inspiration for what’s going on in the town.
- The merchants’ guild featured somewhat heavily in the backstory here (ok, made it up), but fleshing out the importance and role of guilds in the home country is a good background detail
- Need to determine fair prices of stuff, including things like “find and recover.”
- There needs to be a tweak to one of the combat rules based on the monster’s size; that’ll be easy to do, but I want to give it the right amount of thought
- I need to go through the spells again and adjust them for a ranged weapon fix I made. Sigh. That’s a lot of work.
- I got some math wrong on one of the new rules, so larger, more skilled folks are demoralized more easily. Oops. Again, easy fix, but good to catch it now.
- Fixed a new rule about trading exhaustion for another game effect, and everyone discussed and agreed that the new fix was suitable.
- One of the new feats is really, really powerful, and variant humans can get it at first level. Gotta fix that by toning it down.
- A six-on-one battle where the one has no ranged weapons to speak of will not go well for the one in nearly every case. Still, ogre could have one-shotted Graves but for that too-powerful feat.