Interested in playing Dungeons and Dragons?

Sojourners Awake!
New player guide for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons
Whether you are completely new to adventuring in a fantasy world, or a seasoned traveler looking to spark again the love of role playing games, Sojourners Awake provides exciting adventures.

My mission is to bring family and friends around a table, to grow in health as we share with each other amazing stories, and to teach folks of all ages of this wonderful game known as Dungeons and Dragons. 

See below the link for the New Player Welcome Sheet

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Rn1-dDW_0en_xYNoozSBPXdiVhn7sp8Qovp2TlKPNiY/edit?usp=sharing

And so our story begins
Jonathan Hardin
04/30/2020

Fumbling with keys in the parking lot

Photo by Abdel Rahman Abu Baker on Pexels.com

The restaurant had been in full swing for almost half a year. The family friendly environment and cuisine sophistication had ushered in a variety of parties. Families of six, two high chairs and plenty of spills kept the staff busy. Couples, whether on their first night out or seasoned lovers stopped by for a relaxing and romantic evening. The menu even suggested that just about anyone from the broke college student scarfing down the chicken fried steak lunch special to the classy businessman dining on the 12 ounce Rib-eye, kept company by only his evening alcohol and paperwork. The manager, knowing lunches might slow down during the week implemented a senior’s special lunch menu. Catering to the elderly proved to be profitable as a well-known clientele visited on a regular basis. Now a couple of blue haired ladies walked in through the door, greeted by the young hostess. She couldn’t have been more than 18, but she displayed confidence in her job and had the couple seated down in their preferred booth by the window.

Once seated, the aged gentleman got up from his seat and hobbled over to the bathroom. He smiled as he past the hostess and waved hello. As he rounded the corner, a waiter, buzzing with haste, nearly crashed into the light-framed great-grandfather of seven.

“Oh, excuse me,” blushed the man. “I’m in your way.” He really wasn’t in the spiky haired kid’s way, but moving one foot in front of the other in such a precarious way caused him to linger in one spot for a substantial amount of time. The kid grunted and rocketed past him.

“Dammit, move your slow ass!” mumbled the kid way out of earshot of the gentlemen, now tugging at the restroom door. The kid knew how to complain about his customers and still make decent tips. He just talked about them behind their backs and smiled at the tables. Various ages all walked through the door, but the elderly couple, now in their 80’s, were the only ones who asked if the restaurant could turn the air conditioner down.

“You want it colder?” barked the kid. Well, it was more like a yap, however still resembled the tone you use when you’re in a hurry and not in the mood to deal with this kind of treatment.

“Old people!” He began to mock the strained voice of the lady, “ Could you turn down the air please!’ I’ll turn down the air; I’ll turn off her oxygen. Damn, I hate old people!” Snarling, he prepared the ice water with “extra lemons please” and grabbed a handful of lemons, placing them in a bowl, he stormed off back to the table—smiling, he knew how to make tips. No sooner that he tossed down the drinks, the gentleman arrived back at the table, asking if he could order a hot soup for the two of them. It took the old man about a minute and a half to get the words out. It was long enough for the kid to nod his head over dramatically as if to say…

“I get it, you want one of our two choices of soup.” he began to walk away.

…and could you bring us some napkins, please, said the man behind wrinkling eyes and a smile revealing his missing teeth. As the kid stormed off, the couple began to stare across from each other. It had been 67 years since they met, right here in this restaurant. Before it was Big Louie’s, it was The Mexican Garden and she worked weekends as a waitress. He came out with his buddies after a day at the fair and they all sat in her section. He memorized her shift, but convinced himself that he wasn’t stalking her, he just wanted to meet her in an “evasive way. You know, girls are weirded-out by guys who confront them on the spot. You gotta be smooth and act like it was fate that brought you together.” His words were interrupted by howls of laughter. “Fate, sure!” his buddies roared, “You like her man, fate or no, you can’t keep your eyes away from her.” He smiled, showing all white teeth intact and present and leaned against the table, taking it all in. This table wobbled from time to time, the restaurant wasn’t one of the classiest, mostly just served good food to the community; they were famous for their fajita plates, sizzling and tempting everyone with the smell from the grill. These characters, however, were cheap. They ordered an appetizer and kept the waitress busy bringing out complimentary chips and salsa. She arrived with a hot bowl of chips and two bowls of thick, chunky salsa. All the guys made a big deal about her coming around to their table, but one just smiled with his arms folded, leaning on the table, seated himself opposite of her, all good. She encouraged him by continuously approaching the table opposite him and laughing at all the jokes until she looked at him and then she just smiled, looked down at the table, and looked up at him to see if his gaze was still fixed on her. Yep, he’s a keeper” she mused.

“Keep .the change, young fellow, you look like you’re working hard.” His hand shook as he handed the brisk young waiter a crisp dollar bill. After an hour and a half of staring at each other, the elderly couple sauntered over to the door, past the register and waved goodbye to the young hostess. She waved back and smiled thinking the lady reminded her of her gone but not forgotten aunt and how she used to make lemonade for the kids after school. Jeremy bolted to the register and woke Sherry up from her day-dreaming.

“Did they leave me anything else up here?” Before she could answer ‘no’, he went on with his tirade, “they sat there for two hours, wasting my time with their damn cups of  “fresh coffee please”, mocking the shrill voice of the lady, “all day long, I have to put up with old people.”

Sherry smiled nervously; seeing Jeremy whine about his customers was funny because he imitated them well. She’ll admit that old people were sometimes a little slow, but she wasn’t upset by them nearly as much as Jeremy was now. Now that she thought about it, Jeremy was always this upset.

            “Why do you hate old peop—um, the elderly?” she asked, correcting herself.

            His answer was brash and preceded with no thought, “Cause they’re slow. They take their time and they need to be in a nursing home.”

            She laughed indignantly, “You don’t deserve them!”

            “Yeah, well, I don’t have to, they leave me a dollar, what the hell am I supposed to do with this, pay my bills?”

            “Well,” she said slowly, “you can give it to me, then.”

            “Hell, no,” he said, and walked away.

 The couple had been outside for a while. The elderly gentleman looked around the parking lot, fumbling his keys in his hands. “I know I parked it here somewhere,” he mumbled quietly. She called from the curb, “Donald, do you think we parked out back?” She hollered loud enough, but his hearing had been gone for a while. She knew he didn’t have to listen anymore; she remained content to listen to him and have him stare and blink at her across the dinner table, but she called out anyway, mostly because she was afraid of the silence. She knew nothing was going on in his head, however, his memory had really gone downhill the last few years. It wasn’t the first time she waited by the curb, cold, tired of standing, looking on as her proud man stood baffled in the parking lot, pretending to fumble with his keys. Donald began to sweat. He had been forgetting more often and it bugged him not to know why, but he would just forget. No occasion, no correlation, just a plain old fashioned memory lapse-he hoped. He had heard plenty about Alzheimer’s, affecting mostly folks over 80, 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Warnings flooded his mind as he recalled the T.V. shows he watched in horror as the white-haired men slowly lost their minds and couldn’t even remember their own names, to the dismay of the heartbroken family. He remember hearing the warnings from magazines and talk shows about how to prevent memory loss, although no one is completely immune to losing memory, it just happens. He wiped his bald head with his handkerchief and began to mutter out loud, mixing curses and prayers together, frozen on the parking lot where no one could help him, he’s lost his memory, and his wife is standing on the curb.

“The curb!” He drove around back where the wheelchair ramp allowed for avoiding the curb step. Her walk was getting weaker, but they had managed to spend time on the town, especially here at this restaurant, because they had a nice wheelchair ramp which they could both walk up with ease. He turned around with a boyish grin and hollered, “Margie, I parked the car next to the wheelchair ramp, if that doesn’t beat all, I thought I was losing it there for a second.”

“Oh dear, I’m so silly, I should have thought of that,” she echoed in apology.

“No, it’s my fault” he replied, “for a second there, I forgot that I parked over there, yes, there it is right there,” he breathed those last words out a little slower as his heart rate dropped back down to normal. He didn’t know how he remembered, or how he forgot for that matter, but he made a promise to himself that for Margie’s sake, he would help himself to remember from now on, even if it meant tying strings around his finger looking like a crackpot professor, he wouldn’t forget again.

 As they drove home, she remembered how it was when they were dating. He continually stopped by her parent’s house. He always wanted to take care of her and reminded her of her father, and the way he cared for the family. They had five children together, although one of them died in a miscarriage. They heard plenty of ideas of why the child didn’t make it, but were never given a definite reason. One thing was for sure: she received every bit of emotional support that he could give. He cared for her during that hard time. He was always a sensitive man. His mother was ill most of her life, he grew up learning to care of folks. Maybe that’s why she married him. She looked over at his skinny frame, once built tough and hard: he worked a lot. His eyes were fixed on the road, “just like him”, she thought, “always focused, always keeping his eyes on the road.” She loved his curly black hair. He was mostly bald now except for the the hair around this temples. She had lost her hair too, but it grew back. On her sixty-second birthday, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The treatment had been rough on her body, but she had the support of her children. Most of the help, however, came from her husband. He seemed to thrive in crisis. He told her, “Baby, it’s okay to be emotional all you want, I’ll take care of you.” And he had, and remained her friend. She patted her soft, wool hair as they pulled in the driveway. She had a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. It seems all of their outings nowadays related to their declining health. They both walked up the dusty driveway and onto the front porch where their cat, stretched it’s lithe body along the welcome mat, looking up as if to say, “What took you so long?”

3 pillars of playing Dungeons and Dragons

To explain Dungeons and Dragons, according to the Dungeon Master Guide by Wizards of the Coast, the 5th edition builds adventures off of 3 pillars. These 3 pillars help guide the storyteller, or dungeon master, in creating exciting settings, peoples and items to make this go from a a simple game to a narrative adventure. When adding in the randomness of dice rolls and the creativity of other players at the table, there really is no limit to how much fun this pastime can be. While reading through this, first, you must understand 3 truths about the world of fantasy, in that the world is primarily unexplored, hostile and incredibly diverse. When you factor in that most of the plane has been city built upon ruins from the past, or the entire terrain has been altered due to some tampering with the laws of physics, then you can find much to be discovered. Also, when you think about all of the conflicts between deities, otherworldly beings and even nature having a personality, this then fills the world with competing beings, also known as monsters, possibly inducing combative situations. The last principle about the world in which to engage, is that humans, although plentiful, are one of many races on the plane. Between elves, dwarves, dragons and extra terrestrials, this means your average dinner party brims with customs and manners worth discovering. Interactions become humorous and moving. I hope you enjoy learning about the 3 pillars of playing Dungeons and Dragons.

The world is an unknown place

Exploration of uncharted lands requires adventurers to saddle up and head out into the great blue yonder. Between wilderness and new civilizations, when the world presents interesting locations, players can use their time exploring people, places and things that grabs their attention.

I think these encounters channel up the most imagination in players. A good dungeon master presents a living breathing world to not only explore, but to actively engage and alter the setting. No one wants to touch the backdrop scene only to find that it is made from cheap cardboard and paint. When a player says “I want to dip a bucket into the abandoned city well”, ensure to make it worth their while! If you don’t know what one may discover down the well, then allow the players to assist in the building of that world. Maybe the water has a strange property that gives a clue as to why the city inhabitants evacuated so long ago, therefore aiding the adventures on their quest. Maybe the well links to a basement in the noble’s manor, and a guide presents itself to walk with the players for a time, giving history and lore along the way. Maybe the well looks mundane, but later on, awakens the curse within the city causing a hideous otherworldly being to rise from the ground. If only the players could have read the warning sign!

The world is a hostile place

Between encountering exotic lands and peoples, sometimes adventurers will be required to retrieve weapons to defend themselves. At times, a quest begs the adventurers to oppose a villain using force. Since the world, especially in the wild, presents as hostile, players may find themselves in a situation where they might be on the menu for some hungry monster. Even the natural order that we commonly think works together competes for territory and resources. When you add extra planar beings in the mix along with other worldly entities, worldviews don’t always match up. Players often descend on the food chain and will need to defend themselves to prevent experiencing digestion. Combat may not also be resolved with death, for parlay sometimes brings the best results. Deals can be struck and bonds can be formed. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In a pond of threat, players may realize that it’s not about fighting the big fish, but getting the attention of the bigger fish. That being said, protecting your friends against pure evil, brings out self sacrifice, noble strength that makes a story move us to tears.

The world is a diverse place

It’s not all pit traps, lava monsters and hordes of undead zombies. Social encounters bring Dungeons and Dragons from a game to a theater. The dungeon master plays parts as the townspeople, nobles, tribal guide, or alien emissary and the players act out their respective parts as the adventuring heroes encountering the world. Sometimes social encounter go well and the king hands favor to the players and sadly, at times, these encounters end with the village chasing them out of town. Beware that even a friendly game of cards could end in loss of life! Did you really mean to make a joke about the orc’s mother? Roll for initiative.

If a fellowship of heroes find the world, discovered, safe, and predictable, what would be the use of leaving the comfort of hearth and home? Although, Dungeons and Dragons can be used to tell any tale, even one of simple folk playing out their lives after the war, rebuilding, the story teller must keep in mind these 3 pillars, exploration, combat and social interaction, and like a good book, the setting, conflict and characters keep us entertained for years to come.

How playing Dungeons and Dragons improves child interactions.

Blending the tabletop role playing game Dungeons and Dragons into strong and positive education for children

Parents possess so many opportunities for their children to be successful. As you search for activities for your child this summer, consider getting them involved in Dungeons and Dragons. Let me share three values of playing this well-established tabletop role playing game. 


What is tabletop role playing?

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Peer over the edge of your imagination.

One of the questions I am asked when talking about Dungeons and Dragons is “what kind of video game is it?” Most people imagine children glued to a screen and nothing could be further from the truth! If video games are your thing, then have a blast, but if you are looking for something for your child which involves more social connection, then consider tabletop role playing. Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, is a simple game where people gather around a table and tell a story. At most the supplies you need are pencil, paper and a polyhedral dice called a “d20”. 

d20 Make a choice in game, and roll the dice! The higher the number, the more successful you are. The lower the number, well, time to think of another solution.

Wizards of the Coast, founded 30 years ago, are constantly improving upon the content they release and with the 2014 5th edition update, the books and manuals are geared towards a more diverse audience. The clean artwork captures imagination and the instructions read like a choose your own adventure novel. My 9 year old son has plenty of the content memorized and let me tell you, he reminds me of the rules to the game frequently! If you are a long time player, or brand new to the scene, many parents, like myself, are wanting to get their children involved in such as beloved pastime.

In our over stimulated world, we can quickly become isolated. While our smartphones hold our attention, our family tables are left empty. Although we have plenty of wireless connection, people are now less connected than ever. Whatever happened to simply getting together and enjoying each other’s company? Look around, we even have products like Yondr, which are designed to create “cell phone free spaces” so that people can enjoy live entertainment once again. Being present can a problem.

Dungeons and Dragons requires you to be present to play! Much like an afternoon softball game, if you play the field, you remain present your teammates.

The game begins by one person called the dungeon master (DM), setting up a storyline in a make believe world. After the DM sets the stage full of a world with history, interesting locations, fascinating people and problems to solve, then the game is ready to introduce the player characters (PCs). In case you were wondering, Wizards of the Coast produces great story lines like Dragon of Icespire Peak , ready for you to read and play through to completion. If your kids enjoy chasing after dragons, then this story will hold their attention. 

Next, we introduce players, individuals who take on certain roles in a group called a party. One player may act as a guide, while another acts as a champion. Another player takes on the role of a healer in case anyone is injured while another player acts as the plucky comic relief, making up songs and cheering everyone up when times get sad.  I have described to you some of the job descriptions or classes any PC make perform, such as a ranger, fighter, cleric and bard. When you mix in that fantasy worlds of the imagination often times include more than humans, you now have a party of an elf ranger, a dwarven fighter, a human cleric and a hobbit bard. You can imagine what kind of hero your child will want to play! Much like popular stories such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, each actor plays a different kind of character to balance out the skills of the party. With each session lasting anywhere from 2 hours to an entire day, people spend time together, creating memorable stories.

This brings us to another value of the game. In D&D, players collaborate, rather than compete with each other. Everyone can take on the hero role, and everyone can win as long as they listen. While most board games involve individuals vying for power, money and spaces on the boardwalk, Dungeons and Dragons has always been about players working together to solve logical problems. 

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Children practice arithmetic and logic in a group game

For example, if our party comes across a drawbridge manned by hideous monsters, each of the players indicate what their character would do in that situation. The ranger would scout ahead looking for a secret way in, the fighter would stand their ground and protect the party, the cleric would hold back some healing power in case one of their comrades needed aid and the bard would taunt the enemy, seeking to distract them. This kind of play promotes active listening. D&D allows each player to talk around the table, scribble notes and spur each other on much like friends telling ghost stories around a campfire. While one player shares, the others listen and from there, plan their next action. This kind of play promotes children learning to listen to the dungeon master and each other and therefore developing empathy, understanding and teamwork.

Of course, this highlights another value. Dungeons and dragons teaches children how to problem solve. The dungeon master works to set up a verisimilar conflict in a simulated world. Sometimes this problem involves a trap door in a dungeon, a small village threatened by an incoming tornado, or a city guard needing convincing to aid in setting the prisoner free. Keep in mind, a life of adventure poses many challenges throughout the average day! After perceiving the problem, each player goes around the table generating ideas and discussing how they plan to rectify the situation. Much like the improvisational music of jazz or blues, each player needs to show up in the scene if they want to support each other. In role playing games, each child plays a part to create a good story worth telling over and over again.

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Dungeons and Dragons makes for great education!

Lastly, on a personal note, as a first time player in 2017, I introduced Dungeons and Dragons to my children, ages 5-9, both boys and girls. I noticed their love for reading and writing skyrocketed over one summer adventure we played together. Dungeons and Dragons was like rocket fuel to their education. Whether it was math or language arts, every subject improved the more they played. Without any prompting, they spent their days drawing maps, writing stories and stapling the pages together to make little books. And when we were done, they then spent time outside, acting out the adventures once again. Their attention span increased. They found a love for reading books to each other and this filled my heart with joy. In a world where we increase our connection to screens, I express gratitude to this game of storytelling. Dungeons and Dragons has helped me and my children connect to each other. My family will be upholding this value for a long time.

rhythms


 

Speaking on feelings

About 6 years ago, I began searching for the dictionary definition of “introvert”, which led me to find the definition of “extrovert” and 4 hours later, I had wondered how I made it this far in life without the map of Meyer’s Briggs to navigate in life.

I made a hard attempt to understand people, especially those I may influence on a daily basis, like my wife, kids, birth family and so on out from there. There are tons of resources and perspectives out there on personality, but the one I gratefully hitched my wagon to was http://www.personalityhacker.com

I consumed their podcasts, (and quite a few of their products!) all day long, and enjoyed what would have otherwise been windshield time on the road. I learned not only about introversion and extraversion, but brace yourself, there are many types of the two. And even deeper I dug, to find that certain parts called cognitive functions stacked in different orders were responsible for the emergence of different personalities.

Also, I made some friends, which is an interesting phenomenon to feel a connection with someone in your earbud that you have never really met. But although that brings along warm and fuzzy feelings, what I really wanted to share today is my conversation with my children.

“Who can tell me what “competence” is?” They scrunched their eyebrows as if trying to recall one of those really big words they learned in school. “Competence is doing something really well.” Their eyes brightened and locked onto the definition dad handed them.

“ISTJ children find it very important that their parents believe them to be competent. And they don’t often “act” like kids running amuck, but rather position themselves to be the first when an adult says something like, “I need a helper.”

I believe I may have one of these little creatures in my care, which is characterized by the enlightening statement from them, “Dad, when people cry I don’t feel anything!”

I hope I do well to help them navigate the complex world of feelings and emotions that I, for example, have not had much difficulty understanding. But now, I am charting territory and creating language to help these practical folks describe their feelings.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention by newfound internet friend and resource Susan http://www.psychologyjunkie.com who helps people, especially little ones and their parents, understand the world of personality.

Check them out! Enjoy who they are and what they bring to the world. Seeking first to understand, and begin by listening.

 

 

The Luck o’ the Halfling

The luck o’ the Halfling

I have two halflings in my game that I DM now and like to make luck feature a little more interesting than just simply mindlessly rerolling natural ones. To be clear, I think of natural 20s as successful opportunity meets preparation kind of payoffs. But for the lucky feet, I think that despite failure the odds are still in your favor anyway. Here are some creative ways to use luck!

Strength – you attempt to heave the loot past the ogre cave and into a safe distance around your allies. You pull the bag and it tears open leaving the gold coins scattered on the ground. Oh look. Someone missed this ruby worth 500 Gp with magic abilities. Looks like I could pocket this for now…

Dexterity – you reach your hand to untie your self from the guards mount. Your hands slip as you spook the horse. Now you are charging ahead at the mercy of the steed. Oh well, at least the guard didn’t notice you gone … yet.

Acrobatics- You slip on the stoney crevasse, plummeting to your 5d8 damage! Whoops! Your pants catch on a wicked root protruding out of the cliff side. A little help?

Perception- your eyes peer out into the darkened wild keeping watch for your allies. A bloodthirsty owlbear sneaks up on you but at the last minute while relieving your self near a tree you cast thamatury on your body fluid making the noise sound like thunder. The owlbear heads for the hills.

Investigation – You inspect the hallway for traps. Looks like the coast is clear y’all! Only to literally walk the path to disarm the trap as designed and intended. Ahhh, I’ll just keep that to myself.

Investigation – You read through the text searching for clues, anything that would show the way out of the castle. Nothing! Darn! Oh wait , a love letter from the lord to the mayor. Looks like I found me a little blackmail.

Deception – You attempt a little trickery into getting the ferry master to allow you passage. But your disguise begins to melt away as the sun ascends into the sky. Poor ferry master though, he thinks you diseased and will do anything you want, just don’t poison me with Waxface!

Saving throws – any ideas?

Combat rolls-

Melee Attacks

you fumble and miss your target, but land your weapon into another nearby enemy causing damage to that new target instead.

You swing your blade and watch it slip from your sweaty grip – only for it to catch another target square in the chest nearby.

Ranged attacks

You let loose an arrow completely in the wrong direction, your enemy laughs at your ineptitude and steps closer in confidence only to walk right into a natural trap – sealing the same damage as your weapon! Haha! Who’s laughing now?

Your hand axe spirals through the air, bouncing off the shield of your friendly ally! Sorry friend! This causes your ally to immediately spin around catching the edge of an enemy noggin. Roll for damage!

Spell attacks – your fire bolt leaps from your fingers arching high over the enemies head. Lo! The flames caused a branch to catch flame and fall to the ground, roll for damage! 🔥

A sickening ray shoots from your palm, fully intended for your target at a distance. Oh no! Darn that magic, it’s spiraling out of control but lands on a nearby attacker with only enough HP left to be reduced to 0. Well, that was nice.

Hope you enjoyed this!

The Lost Mine of Phandelver – week 2

 

This week on the Lost Mine of Phandelver our travelers, with goblin prisoner in tow, trekked through the crude trail through the Neverwinter Wood on their way to the alleged goblin hideout. As they headed out, Meric stood still, the stout halfling form in the forest.

“You go on without me. There’s something peaceful about last night that I need to explore. Something is calling me to stay and involves more than chasing after goblins in the woods. I don’t know what it is, but …”

“Say no more,” replied Elric, and he pushed Fhedi the goblin ahead of him and began walking on the trail.

Meric resumed his pose up in the tree the night before, closed his eyes and focused on the rising sun in the east.

“Ugh!” exclaimed Kelfborn, “it’s a snare. The forest gnome stood their, scimitar in hand with a rope secured around his ankle. A quick reflex and cut through the cord kept her from becoming the victim of a goblin trap. “I bet there is another further in,” and before long, they came across an already activated pit trap, capturing a small white rabbit 10 feet below.

“Oy! Are you just going to stand there or get me out?” cried the surly beast. Kelfborn instinctively understood every barking order the rabbit gave. She explained the situation to the team, who of course, were already moving beyond the pit, not seeing the concern over this woodland creature.

“We could call him “Dyner,” Perrin slyly remarked. His grin began to appear as he stroked his chin, pretending to contemplate.

“Oh, let’s move on!” Nissa broke the inactivity and invoked mage hand scooping the rabbit up (uttering terrible curses so the gnome heard) and released the creature bolting into the woods. “Any more traps?” she asked, looking towards the goblin. He had barely time to answer before a flash and smoke on a nearby tree caught Nissa’s eye. “Come on,” she pushed him forward off the trail, “you’re going first.”

A while passed as Nissa and Fehdi wandered off the trail. When she returned, Nissa had a dark look in her eye. “The Traveler communicated with me.” Even as she uttered these words, the forest went silent, as if listening to see if she would reveal the message. She turned towards the trail and began walking, muttering under her breath, “beware of…what?”

 


 

Before the party lay the mouth of a ominous cave. Naturally delved into the mountain, a shallow stream spewed out alongside a rugged path. While wondering if guarding presence remained an obstacle into the entrance. Rather than taking a stealthy approach, Kelfborn shouted out “anyone there?” consequently waking two goblins hiding behind a brier patch. Instantly two arrows shot past Perrin’s head. “Praise Kelemvor, I live another day!” he exclaimed. Within seconds, the party, as one, rushed the goblin defense. Elric charged his firebolt without flinching and launched it zinging past one of the guards, taking off his right ear.

As soon as the warning shots fired past Perrin, Nissa took it upon herself to secure their guide as ransom. Recalling some information on knots she read in a book a couple years ago, “this shouldn’t be too hard, hold still,  you vermin!” In a flash, she had Fehdi completely restrained and positioned to watch this skirmish take place from a safe distance. Charging into the fray, she raised her quarterstaff, thinking to save her best spells for a real challenge.

In less than a minute, the team had completely scorched the goblins, mostly due to Elric’s and Perrin’s flames. Frustrated that this encounter took so long, the team hid the guards further into their bramble post and set out into the cave, only to hear the sounds of snarling wolf guards.

Kelfborn stayed back for a minute, surveying the canine guards, they seemed famished, thin gaunt wolves, chained to the rock in the cave shelf. Matching the motions of the wolves, she began to silently crawl towards the beast and said, “this will be easier if any of you have some meat.” The starving wolves gobbled up the meat and in their distraction, Perrin lifted the chains, and the beasts were freed. Kelborn then led them out of the cave and spoke in wolf tongue, “there’s a rabbit out there, go!”

Perrin scoffed, “so you’re ok the wolves eating Dyner, but not us?”

Kelborn still in wolf-mode, just acted to bristle her fur. A couple dried leaves fell to the ground along with an empty caterpillar cocoon.

No matter, Perrin, Nissa and Kelfborn approached the wolves den and found a chimney. The natural exit from the den served as a fire place leading up into, well, that’s what Perrin was good for. “Give me a boost,” he said. The chimney provided plenty of handholds and lead up and around for about 10 feet. Perrin thought it a good idea to extinguish his light cantrip. The bright glow from his sheild dimmed and in darkness he proceeded.

A new glow flickered towards the exit of this tunnel. He began to hear a voice, talking in solidarity. “Klarg is King of goblins, king of the worlds!”

“Just a quick peek,” and the halfling’s curly black hair appeared in the entrance to a large overweight bugbear’s lair. In the middle of the room sat a dire wolf, engrossed in her dinner, feverishly gnawing at a bone. A smoldering campfire was lit, providing light in this cavern with the smoke rising to release in cracks in the cavern ceiling. The fat bugbear sat amidst loot and supplies, unpacking them like a greedy child on Christmas morning. Neither seemed to notice the spy, so Perrin kept on observing. While Klarg (as he called himself in third person) played with a longsword, two goblin sentries came into the room from the north entrance.

“King Klarg, your majesty,” one interrupted.

“King Klarg is very busy,” snarled the oaf. “I can take a message for him.” and he began trade personalities acting as a member of his court.

“Fedhi hasn’t returned from his scouting excursion.” There was a brief pause of ignorance, so the other goblin spoke up,

“The scout hasn’t come back, what do you want us to do?”

“Ugh! Find scout!” Klarg was dropping his pretense and appeared sincerely angered. And he began to have a tantrum, the dire wolf looking up attentively. Both the goblins backed out of the room, excusing themselves between “yes, your majesties” and “of course sire!”

Perrin thought this a good time to exit his time in the smelly cavern and relay this to his comrades. But before he could finish a total description of the tale, a voice shouted from up the passage into the cave, “Fehdi! Where you been!? Get your sorry green ass back to Klarg with report!”

While the team was collecting intel, Fehdi was by now, untied and standing in the passageway. Within seconds, the team scrambled a makeshift battle. The noise caused the goblin sentry up the path on on the bridge to notice the trouble. Perrin saw the creature begin to scamper away, no doubt going for reinforcements. He channeled the divine energy and launched a holy flame of fire at the bridge incinerating right before the goblin leaped away. Unfortunatly, a cry echoed through the cave, “release the flood!”

Time slowed for the team as Kelfborn and Perrin, in melee combat with the two goblins and Nissa and Elric hanging back, firing away, and guarding their goblin captive. A surge of water rushed down the tunnel catching those in the path. Kelborn had a stoke of  luck. Turning around, she found three handholds and briskly climbed up the stone wall. The water grazed past her, soaking her boots, but she was able to resist the current. Perrin, however, still focusing on the flame and preparing for another strike, found himself caught abruptly in the flow. The two goblins carried along with him out of the cave entrance received most of the beating and their bodies went limp. Nissa and Elric leaned out of the wolves den and watch the flood rush past their feet, burying the stairs.

Outside the cave, Perrin lay flat, face on the ground. Looking up, he sighed, pushed himself up, muttered a prayer and said, “let’s try this again.”

 

 

 

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Images credits: Wizards of the Coast

The Lost Mine of Phandelver – Week 1

Last week on the Lost Mine of Phandelver:

Gundren Rockseeker left his adventuring band in charge of a wagon full of supplies. He then left for Phandalin early to take care of some business with his escort Sildar Hallwinter. The adventuring band, while on the Triboar trail to Phandalin found themselves ambushed in the exact same spot as horses, which we found out belonged to Gundren and Sildar. The team is made up of Elric the dragonborn wizard, unconventional and quite charismatic, Nissa, the elf warlock, buried in her studies, Meric the Halfling monk with a quick eye and quicker feet, Perrin, the grave cleric with always a hand to bless and Kelfborn the backwoods gnome of the forest. While investigating the slaughter of the steeds, a group of savage goblins pounced on the unsuspecting group. After a couple of arrows found their target, the highlight of the skirmish was Elric showing off his dragon breath attack, completely incinerating a goblin warrior to ashes. Nissa, then mortally wounded and unaware of the pool of blood at her feet, retired to her comforting space in her studies. We witnessed a tender moment, as Perrin kindly stepped over and healed Nissa without her having to even glance up from her pages.

With a clever maneuver, Kelfborn set up camp and hid the precious wagon in the forest off the trail. She discovered a collection of goblin and human footprints, suggesting more was…uh, afoot in this mystery. However, she kept this information to herself, but Elric suspecting something was… afoot, uh, also found tracks with keen eyes towards a trail.

All bed down for the night, while Meric kept second watch. The Halfling, cross-legged, balanced up in a tree high above the campsite, kept a perceptive watch out for anything stirring in the forest. While the party slept, Meric witnessed a goblin sentry bumbling down the trail in search of his companions. With a flash and speed, Meric pounced on the goblin like a panther on his prey. In seconds, the goblin, despite a struggle, was knocked out, gagged and bound. The stout Halfling drug the prisoner to the campsite and let him wake up when conscious, only to scamper up the tree and resume meditating.

Upon waking, the party interrogated the goblin, named Feedy, and even threatened to make food out of Feedy, until he confessed the whereabouts of the dwarf in Cragmaw hideout, held prisoner by Klarg. The adventures also learned of King Grol sending out more warriors to transfer the dwarf to Cragmaw Castle. Feedy agreed to lead them to the cave, but only after being charmed, intimidated and downright stripped of any goblin decency. Only then, did the goblin willingly lead the party away from the campsite and deeper into the forest.

Learning from Dungeons and Dragons III

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A heavy winter rain began to fall as the travelers plowed through the muddy street. In this small village of peasants and farmers, the people toiled daily and the weariness flowed through every interaction.

The town mayor, a humble looking man in his forties, hailed from the tavern, welcoming them into the dry and warm community center. After warming themselves between the keg tap and the hearth, the mayor spoke quietly.

“It all started last year, slowly, but I remember, one of our farmers reported missing livestock, not just small goats, but even his cattle. In this village, even the smallest report of a missing animal warrants attention. But after a month, we heard no more.”

Quenlin peer from behind his mug of a stout brown drink, questioning the look in the man’s eyes, searching for sincerity. He seemed and honest and sane man.

The mayor continued, “but then, everything changed. Many reports of livestock missing and then, finally,” he paused here and quickly scanned the room, “people started to go missing. We don’t know how or why, or if they’re alive, or not. But we need help. I sent the letter to our lord in Chisdale, and as I understand, here you’ve come.”

At this, Strom leaned forward with a confident expression and pride in his voice, “We help the weak, seek out oppression all over this land. We will gladly help.” His weathered face dealt kindness towards the mayor, despite its grizzled features. Yasbagee answered her fellows remark with, “this should be good, I’ve been wanting to hunt something down for a couple of months now. My blades are getting thirsty.”

 

 

One thing I have noticed in these tales of bravery and adventure is that despite threat of death, these characters always find themselves staring down a haunted mine, or  looking into a menacing swamp, and then they just walk in!

The point being that motivation makes people move. Otherwise, we continue on with our lives without risking danger or threat. No one in their right mind would enter the cave unless they had a higher motivation than self – preservation.

I think one of the reasons D&D captivates our attention is that we get the chance to risk life and limb through the characters strength and valor, but truly our own as well. Most stories involve rescuing a village from terror, retrieving magic artifacts to keep evil from obtaining them, or pulling off a stunt to stop an evil lord from rising to power. I have learned this is what is categorized as an “epic” campaign. Classic good vs evil storyline.

Everyone one of us has a point where we say, “enough.” Adventures are simply those of us who respond first. None of the D&D characters I have met in the Forgotten Realms or Middle Earth would I ask to baby sit or mow my lawn, but upon news of an invading army of bloodthirsty orcs, these battle worn travelers would be the first I would call.

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I think I sometimes view myself as that mayor. I see the problems, I feel the pain of the people, but at the end of the day, the most I can offer is asking for help. Maybe that’s something else I have learned: if you have enough peril, and sometimes enough gold or bartering, a hero will answer your call for help and maybe teach you how to draw your blade.