The Mysterious Tower Defeated!
I count myself very fortunate that I get to play in two very different, yet very enjoyable, gaming groups. I’m doubly fortunate in that I have a chance to DM D&D for both groups. The second group (so named only because they formed some time after the first group) is small but, far from being an obstacle, this has opened up a number of opportunities that don’t present themselves in the other group. One such opportunity has been to start up a casual, ‘old school’ campaign of loosely-linked adventures. I unashamedly admit that this campaign (such as it is) focuses far more on hack-and-slash than roleplaying, political intrigue and city adventuring.
I was not willing to sacrifice any time to fully craft my own adventures so Dungeon Crawl Classics was an obvious choice. The players had expressed their concern about getting wiped out at lower character levels (there was an incident with a fiendish dire weasel that was still fresh in one player’s mind) so the consensus was to start the party off at 5th level.
I happened to already own DCC #3 The Mysterious Tower so it appeared that our course was predetermined.
What follows is a most entertaining recount of the complete first adventure of the campaign, wonderfully written by Stephen, one of the players. Careful readers familiar with the original module will note that I couldn’t help myself and added a twist or two of my own. Some of these were even intentional. In particular, I needed to cater for the fact that there was no rogue in the party. Also, I wanted to add orcs. And a big lizard man thing. Just … because.
A big thank you to Stephen for taking the time to put pen to paper, and a very big thank you to Stephen, Mick and Dean for being such amazing players. Finally, I’d like to give special mention to Don, the fifth member and heart of our group, who has not been able to make it to gaming of late but is always there in spirit.
The Rogue’s Gallery
Stephen: Mailcon pen Annwn (human male druid 5 -- Unearthed Arcana simple variant allowing for ranger and monk abilities) and Logan (wolverine animal companion)
Mick: Bas (half-orc male barbarian 5)
Dean: Tyrant (human male fighter 5\vindicator of the Storm Coast 2 – the VotSC is a homebrew prestige class)
[DM’s Note: I didn’t actually require character backgrounds for this campaign given its nature. One thing led to another, however, and well, you’ll just have to see for yourself …]
Character Background for Mailcon pen Annwn
In a distant land, a tiny kingdom is gripped in the tyranny of the 3 Storm Lords….
In the mountains bordering that kingdom, a young orphan boy is raised by a grizzled tracker and his wife. The boy, Mailcon, learns to read the trails and spoor of animals but is restless for more. Eventually he leaves to join a travelling caravan that moves between the towns and villages of the kingdom. He learns quickly and soon becomes the master of his own wagon, transporting pork and ham goods from the farms to the towns.
In one coastal town he meets a group of Monks from a land over the seas that have set up a temple here and befriends a young monk named Wing. One day, while visiting, he joins Wing at the wharf of the town awaiting a ship that carries the young monk's bride to be. However, disaster strikes when the followers of the bandit Storm Lord kidnaps her. They also steal Mailcon's wagon.
Mailcon joins the monks on his first adventure as they, with the assistance of a wise elderly mage called Eggerol, raid the Storm Lord's fortress to rescue her. They succeed, but are forced to flee the town in a ship. The weather reflects the Storm Lord's anger however, and Mailcon is washed from the desk of ship into the turbulent water.
The following day he wakes on a tiny beach, miles from the town. Weakly he drags himself to the shelter of a cave and spends a fevered night slowly dying. He is saved, surprisingly enough, by a wild wolverine that appears from nowhere and brings him food that it caught. Over the next few days Mailcon recovers his strength and marvels at his new friendship. After regaining enough strength to travel, he is even more surprised when the wolverine, which he has named Logan, leads him into the mountains.
After many weeks of dodging Storm Lord patrols they eventually reach a cave hidden deep in the mountains. Here they meet a Druid named Obie-Won who reveals to Mailcon his heritage. He is the last of the pen Annwn's. They were a family opposed to the Storm Lords and their undead Lich master King Pan (called the Low Pan in his current state). Although his family was killed by the Lords, Obie-Won convinces Mailcon that is his destiny to oppose the Storm Lords and eventually destroy the Low Pan in his mountain lair.
Mailcon learns the ways of the Druid, gaining in strength and having many adventures with rebels against the Storm Lords. This comes to an end after a few years, when one night, Obie-Won's hideaway is discovered and Mailcon's mentor is slain. His dying words to his young apprentice is to seek out Obie-Won's own master, a Halfling Druid called Ker-Met.
Mailcon vows to do so, and has now left the land of youth, travelling with his loyal friend Logan in far away places. He doesn't know where to find Ker-Met, or even if he still lives, but he continues to look.
(Part of him also wants his wagon back too).
Apologies to any pun-nishing damage caused
Character Background for Bas
[DM’s Note: Mick is relatively new to RPGs and came from a Battletech background. Mick took to the game (which had adapted a slight tongue-in-cheek nature) like a rust monster to an iron breastplate.]
Further Embellishment on my Character.
Character Name: Balthazar Abdiel Sakti Tahirah Abbán Radhika Dagmar
Just call me “Bas” for short. I'm named after each of my fathers. I have two ailments.
The first, heterochromia iridis, which doesn’t cause too many problems, although when people look at me they do tend to stare.
Secondly I suffer from Rhabdophobia. (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Rhabdophobia
I used to have Amnesiphobia, …………………………………………………………… What was I talking about again?
My last partner (female) suffered from Medorthophobia, which was extremely troublesome for our relationship. She is no longer with us. She died of multiple stab wounds and multiple axe wounds. There were no suspicious circumstances.
My third father (Sakti) wanted me to take up Lapidary, however, I much preferred killing things.
“Bas” wields a great axe with devastating power and is terrified of magic (read roleplaying challenge!).
[DM’s Note: After crafting Mailcon’s pun-filled background, Stephen had some puns left over so he had a go at Bas’]
On those occasions when the half-orc can't sleep he pulls out a special scroll and likes someone to read it to him. It is a scroll given to him by a wise elder before he left his village. It's a story called....
The Chronicles of Bas
And there came a day when a witch delivered a prophecy to the King called Vol. The prophecy stated the King could be a King for Eternity and Little or a King of All and Briefly . The King laughed as he wiped the witch's blood from his sword and proclaimed he would henceforth be the Mortal Vol. He then went on to conquer his neighbouring lands.
The Mortal Vol did well, as few could offer him true resistance. One of the few was a mercenary group known as the Griffin Door. They were a rowdy crew, lead by the powerful wizard Balthazar, and named for his habit of summoning Griffins and creative use of the spell Dimension Door. In their home kingdom they gave the Mortal Vol great offence for denying him so effectively.
After one stunning victory against the armies of Vol, one of the Griffins, an orc named Hermione, partied hard into the night with several of the group, including the wizard Balthazar. The result of this was discovered a couple of months later when Hermione discovered herself with child. As none of the group could decide who the father would be, they closed ranks and all chose to take responsibility for the child. So it was that, a few months later, Balthazar Abdiel Sakti Tahirah Abbán Radhika Dagmar was born, named after each of his fathers. Everyone just called him Bas.
The war went on for several years, but eventually the Mortal Vol gained the upper hand and the Griffins were trapped in a burning city. It came to be that the close family found themselves facing the Mortal Vol himself. Balthazar was the first to fall, Hermione the last. The young boy was faced with the horror of watching his family being cut down and, when he was the last, lashed out in anger. The Mortal Vol sneered and laughed harshly as the small half-orc broke a staff across the King's ankle.
The King was blinded by bloodlust and arrogance; otherwise he would have noticed the staff was actually Balthazar's Staff of Wizardry. The resulting explosion was the turning point of the war as a good part of the army leadership was eliminated in one stroke. When the city folk returned to the smoking crater, after driving off the routed army, they were amazed to find the half-orc boy still alive.
He was sent to Balthazar's family in the magic college in Privet Lane to recover. Being magical scholars they came up with a theory about Zero-Point Thaumatical Exclusion Bubbles to explain Bas's survival but couldn't convince anyone to take a Staff of Wizardry and test the theory. Everyone who wasn't a magic-user just called it a miracle and left it at that.
Bas did recover, but from then on he had a fear of magic that he couldn't shake. Living with wizards didn't help and he took to living in the cupboard under the stairs. When he began showing signs of Rage, they finally decided it was a sensible thing to send him to his orc relatives in the wilderness to the north.
His relatives lived in a little village called Hog's Wart. Bas liked it here as the temperament of the orcish peoples suited him. He grew big and strong and was well on his way to becoming a great warrior when war came to Hog's Wart.
The Mortal Vol had also somehow survived the explosion and had reformed his army, stronger than ever. The wilderness was one of the last places to be conquered but the Vol found a people what would not easily submit.
Bas battled for many years, growing in strength and power and had many great adventures . But finally the end came. An unexpected end. The Mortal Vol now ruled many rich lands, and their wealth flowed into his coffers. Life in the capital grew decadent and lazy. Over time the war in the orcish wilderness became a burden for the Mortal Vol. It was a poor land taking a great amount of resources and time and he decided he had better things to do.
And so, peace came to the wilderness. A peace that most of the orcs celebrated. Not so Bas. A young man who knew only battle now found no outlet for his Rages. So the elders of the tribe suggested to him that he may want to explore the greater world. A bored Bas agrees, and gifted with suitable equipment and this scroll, he left in search of adventure.
months later finds him self in rather unexpected company.
Bas sleepy now......
Character Background for Tyrant
[DM’s Note: Dean’s single-sentence intro of Tyrant was thus:
Tyrant is a seasoned veteran of a number of campaigns in the Duchy of Urnst and the country of Onnwal.
Dean was bringing in his long-running character from the First Group. Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words so here was Tyrant’s background as Dean saw it. Awesome …]