My First D&D Campaign [Session 1] Melora’s Banishment
My first session went well, though I can admit I maybe went a little skill check heavy. Everyone was there and accounted for, and my players all said they enjoyed having a more conversational first session than one where they all must fight the whole time.
This is a log of what happened, as it happened.
There is a tl;dr version of events at the very bottom of the article if you’d like to skip, but I was quite happy with how it turned out.
My adventurers arrived at Nicodranus, a small coastal city whose economy is based on fishing. They wandered around and got into their own shenanigans. The city was mostly made up of sandstone and brightly painted stucco with the salty breeze flowing from over the ocean straight through the city. The bright blue sky was full of swirling and cawing seagulls, and the scent of both edible and rotten fish hung heavy through the air. The Salted Fish Tavern and Inn sat right outside the docks and right in front of the marketplace, its swinging sign a half-eaten fish with a fork in it.
Manfred, the human warlock, decided to stare out at the ocean on the farthest dock and ponder its depths while his imp familiar, taking raven form, watched out for him above. Our pink-haired half-elf bard, Nia, wisely decided to pay tribute to her deity at the Temple of Melora in the town before moving toward the inn rendezvous. Bran, our aasimar paladin of Sarenrae, decided to head straight to the inn where he met our eccentric and often impulsive Doctor Buer Wollf tending to patients all over the floor of the tavern-turned-makeshift-hospital. Wollf was only known for keeping patients alive, not treating them well, and this temperament caused an instant rift among the townsfolk.
The inn had at least two dozen adventurers around the floor in various phases of consciousness and fear. Some were frozen solid. Bran and Wollf tended to these unfortunate adventurers.
Half siblings Molli (half-elf) and her brother Larz (half-orc) were tending their caregiver’s stall in town. Larz rolled extremely well for selling, while Molli rolled extremely poorly, resulting in the nearly 7-foot-tall blue-grey skinned half-orc making a killing selling carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes to the townsfolk while Molli pouted in the background. Laughing ensued.
Shortly following this, Clove, the childhood friend of Molli, ran onto the scene with pure look of fear to inform the two siblings that Edith, the elven woman who had taken them in since they were teens, was found half frozen on her living room floor and taken by the town guards to the inn. The siblings rushed to Dame Edith’s side, causing the entire group to meet together.
Dame Edith was thawed from the good doctor’s handy alchemist work, and she immediately told her charges that they better not go up that d*mnable mountain or she’d make them eat their own shoe leather. The siblings vowed not to, as long as they didn’t have to. To which the elderly elf just sighed and went back to resting.
At the entrance to the tavern, each player was verbally accosted by a tall man with a broad red mustache, asking what the heck they were doing there, and each adventurer was made to sign a tavern financial ledger that had been turned into an adventurer sign-up. There were at least thirty names that had all been crossed out on this list, and who now inhabited some corner or pallet under a wobbly table in the inn. He laughed only at Nia when she walked up, but let her sign the ledger. When Molli and Larz walked up, he asked if Dame Edith agreed to let them go. They said yes, then rolled a low deception skill, causing the mustached man to throw his hands up and storm out of the tavern just as the Mayor, Regina Pfrotter, walked in. She was dwarven, with long red hair, a straight nose, and an air that demands respect.
She looked defeatedly at the group and shook her head. She offered them each 50 gold each to go up the mountain and make sure the seal on Melora’s Banishment wasn’t failing, and if it was, then they were to deal with the monster inside. Upon further questioning, they learned the banishment happened over a century ago and that the carved edifice on the iron doors had long been worn away by the salty spray that flew with the wind up the craggy cliff under the entrance.
As this happened, one by one, candles started going out and two characters recognized a sharp drop in temperature. Shadows started to flicker into the sides of everyone’s vision, and Mayor Pfrotter said, “Not again.” Suddenly, the raging fire in the fireplace went out, and a low groan could be heard echoing through the inn.
The group drew their weapons, which resulted in an ethereal scream that resulted in psychic damage and the mayor yelling, “Put your weapons away!” The group obeyed. And within several minutes, the shadows left, with each of the unfortunate patients on the ground with their hands over their ears and their faces frozen in a semi-permanent scream. The mayor told them that she believed the shadows were spirits from those that the creature killed, and that they’d never caused actual damage unless threatened. They just caused a frozen paralysis.
Dr. Wollf checked the patients and noted they were not dead, just frozen like they had been before. He concocted another alchemical solution for them before leaving. Manfred thought to look at the journal of a cartographer that had went up with one of the groups earlier on. He found a complicated cipher amid scrawling and crazy handwriting and was able to decipher: Cold, cold, cold. It’s so cold. it’s not real. None of it. They just keep screaming, screaming, screaming. Check the door. Check the door.
The quest was composed of DC checks, investigation checks, and a small battle here or there. My main point of this little quest was to introduce them to each other and to get the hook to the main quest implanted.
As they made their trek toward the top of the mountain ridge that lay to the east of Nicodranus, Dr. Wollf became distracted by a shadow that seemed to call to him, and he tried to chase it through the clogged back alleys covered in fishing nets, buckets, and fishing refuse. A few party members have decided they don’t trust the good doctor and chase him, only to find him relieving himself around a corner on one of the buildings. I laughed.
All plant life has shriveled up and died within a 30 ft radius of the door on the mountain. There are two tall, warped tree husk trunks on either side of the door coated with frost, though the season is summer, and the ground plants blow away like ash in the wind. In between these two gnarled husks is a massive black iron door with rust eating away at the edges. The front is engraved with an epic scene of the Allmother casting some creature into banishment, though the effigy at the base of door has long been worn away from the bits of salt spray that can reach on high tide. The air smells of salt and high wind.
An investigation check revealed locks that Molli had to pick while making a Wisdom save due to an enchantment on the door. Touching the door created an illusion of gargoyles watching, screaming, then circling them from up above. All players had to make a wisdom save, or be frightened, and those lucky jerks all made it.
Two huge handles emerged from panels in the door, and the group had to make a group strength check to get it open. The first room was long and narrow with one turn leading to a large iron gate and huge hand crank the size of a wagon wheel on the wall. All over the room are carven runes and warnings in Celestial telling the group that to go further is an insult to Melora and would only lead to certain death. We nearly lost Nia, as she was a devoted worshipper. Manfred, with his calligraphy tools, reminded her that these writings were written by the constructors of the tomb, not necessarily the goddess herself and by the looks of the death growing outside, the seals were failing. Nia agreed to uphold her goddess’s original intentions. Woo! I love character interactions.
They managed to get it open and into the next room carved from blue stone with a similar wagon wheel. Once they started cranking this one, the one behind them started to close. I wanted them to figure out how to keep both of them open, but this group decided they didn’t care! So, the 1-ton gate slammed behind them, locking them in.
They entered a room with three faux doors (though they didn’t know that) and a statue of Melora.
Melora’s statue is one of polished tiger oak, her skin covered in swaths of beige and deep brown. Her eyes are downcast under a huge garland of flowers and her hair is made of flowering bushes. She is unclothed except for a blood red scarf that hangs low across her chest and her hands are presented forward, almost in offering. Between her arm and torso, a long-snarled staff with a spiral head sits a glimmering stone in the middle of it.
Her voice was calm and resonant, as if telling a bedtime story. Her eyes did not open and her mouth didn’t move. “Who defies me, Melora, the Allmother, Goddess of the wilderness and the sea? Begone while I still show mercy. This tomb is not for you, don’t let it become so.”
Manfred started drilling the statue with questions, who was only enchanted to say three things. At first he asked, “What is entombed here?”
“A young white dragon threatened my holy glade, and as such it was sealed here as I couldn’t bring myself to harm it. It was only looking for a safe home.” And any other question he asked was responded with: “I do not know your intent, so I shall not tell you.”
The group continued to question it to the point of the statue learning a new phrase of “You are trying my patience. Begone.” And the doctor tried to climb the statue, which resulted in him getting thrown across the room by a bramble making up her hair. As this was happening, the rogue found a hidden panel and unlocked it, unfortunately sending the majority of the group (minus the thrown doctor, Larz trying to move a faux door, and Molli) down a trapped door right in front of the statue and into a huge pit of thorn bushes.
Once Molli got them out with her lockpicking again, (I swear there were other ways to get through) they were opened into a long highly polished blue hallway with six cubbies behind translucent rock.
It was very cold.
A set of ornate daggers with opal handles, a white book, an ancient dwarven helm, a bag of jewelry with white stones, a bag of gold, and a roll of canvas. They all managed to break the stone and get the treasure behind, several of them trapped or illusioned. The helm just turned out to be an ancient helm with the words “It only likes white,” scratched on the inside of it.
The book turned out to be a mimic, and the doctor ended its life by making it chomp down on his own hand holding a bottle of alchemist’s fire. And the half-orc just kept hitting the floor and chipped his axe on a critical fail.
The Push to the End
The group managed to see another iron gate on the other side of the translucent rock on the end of the hallway. and Larz made up for his bad fighting by blasting the rock away in one hit. The moment the door was touched, shadows and spirits filled the far part of the hallway, screaming and moaning and moving ever so slowly towards the party. The hallway was maybe sixty feet, and every 10 feet they came closer, the party had to roll for a level of exhaustion due to extreme cold. Bran was the only one to get TWO levels of exhaustion. Poor Bran.
This part was to freak them out, and it worked. Shadows started crawling up the walls on all fours and crawling backwards towards them and moaning. The group nearly all said at the same time “Don’t draw your weapons!” remembering what the mayor had said earlier–and Molli working her little rogue butt off to get all the locks undone.
At this point, they knew that they were going into the tomb of the dragon with no knowledge if it was just walking around or restrained, while running away from terrifying shadow things. Two players screamed. I loved it.
After several players received one or two levels of exhaustion, they were able to close the door and seal the shadows out. The room they entered seemed to be a giant iron walled room filled with humidity, lush vegetation, and a flowing spring in one corner. The ground was covered in flowers and soft moss, and the frozen bits of sweat on their brows started to thaw. They all rolled to fix one level of exhaustion with the immediate temperature increase.
And then the doctor decided to flip the door switch and the shadows crawled in, causing a roll for another level of exhaustion and the door sealed back. He said it was “For science.” Everyone was mad. Poor Bran lost a level of exhaustion only to gain it back.
Sitting right in the middle of the floor was a 5×5 black iron cube with handles on each of the cardinal surfaces. Four players (after a short rest) pulled the handles, and from the ceiling, a young white dragon descended in a silvery-blue mist onto the pedestal revealed inside the cube. Had they torn up some of the moss, there were engravings in the floor. But they didn’t.
The dragon was curled up in fear, but was unmoving, as if it was having a nightmare.
While the characters tried to decide what to do, Dr. Wollf reached out and touched it, breaking its spell of frozen animation and causing the dragon to rear up and stumble backwards over two players and hide in the bushes while begging for its life.
Manfred, who speaks Draconic, thought this behavior was a little peculiar. Though coaxing, the group learned that the dragon was actually a Dramoni (a race I invented), or the chosen elves of Bahamut blessed by him to shapeshift between a dragon form and an elven form. Then they all realized she was pregnant. And then Manfred’s history check revealed that the last known tribe of the Dramoni were hunted and killed by the followers of Tiamat over three hundred years ago. And her name was Arydun.
Then the dragon roared and clutched her side and begged them to let her free, and the pink-haired half-elf said “Uh, guys, she’s in labor.”
And the doctor feared he will have to deliver a dragon baby. He feared with scientific glee.
The dragon was panicking and the temperature in the room started to fall as they tried to decide what to do and what to tell her. The doctor didn’t want to die, so he just opened the gate (everyone was mad again) but they found the shadows were gone, and the dragon left faster than any could follow. They heard a roar and a smash and then nothing.
They realized they could not go out the way they came, but our rogue found a trap pit in the middle of the thorn bushes; Nia cleverly pulled down the tapestries I kept referencing and threw them down to land on–good thing because it was poison ivy. This room led to a glowing green pool that healed them for 4d6 hit points and relieved 1 level of exhaustion. So, Bran could move faster than 5 feet per turn.
And the Why.
A small teleportation circle brought them back to the room with a tiger oak statue of Melora; the far iron door that had locked them in had been frozen and shattered by the dragon. They all headed to the hole to leave when a sharp snap of wood was heard, as if the twisting snap of an entire trunk of a tree.
Molli and Nia turned around to see the statue of Melora reaching out towards them, her leg snapped away from its base, as if trying to walk. Her eyes were open and glowing with radiant energy and she spoke directly into the mind of Nia, her only devoted worshipper. “Please,” the voice was different now, resonating within her mind like a swarm of bees. “Find the divine keys before they do. The Six Dark Ones are trying to open the Divine Gate. Go to my Blooming Glade and retrieve my key. Six are needed, 12 exist, two are missing. Please. If they open it, cataclysm will occur, the dead will rise, and the good will fall. Do not let them rise.”
The channel of the goddess also said, “You are not chosen, you are all that’s left. Many have failed before you. No time…” Then the statue went back to its original stance, its broken thigh roughly crunching and snapping as it grew back together. The shimmering gem in the staff now was cracked and dull.
Nia shared this information with the group, and they decided to discuss it back at town. The group returned and was hailed as heroes. The town of Nicodranus was powdered with a soft, thin snow, and it was the Midsummer Festival the next night.
That is where our session ended.
Our valiant group of adventurers decided to set out to help investigate a tomb of banishment from the Goddess Melora near the coastside town of Nicodranus. The group navigated several trials of mind and the spirits of the undead only to find a sealed young white female dragon, terrified and with child. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that this dragon was a Dramoni, a long thought extinct race, chosen of Bahamut and a joining of elven and draconic blood.
Upon opening the seal, the frightened dragon, heavy with child, escaped out of the tomb before her would-be attackers (or saviors) could change their minds. Promising to escape far north, she disappeared.
The group, upon their attempt to exit, were hailed by the Goddess herself speaking through an enchanted statue. It called for their help, as a Divine Gate that held back both good and evil gods, was at risk of being opened. Twelve keys in all, 6 needed to open the gate, and 2 already in the wrong hands, the group is called to help save the world from cataclysm.
If you have any questions or ideas or suggestions, please let me know! I’m very excited that our first session went well, and I will be sure to put more battles into the game in the next session.
Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed the article! If you’d like to see some related content, and support Exclusively Games in the process, click on our Amazon Affiliate links listed below to find related products. – EG Staff