My First D&D Campaign: Song of Best Intentions [Session 2]
This session went great!
In this session, the players really adopted their characters and the interactions between them were both hilarious and moving to the story and their individual character arcs. This session I crafted a festival, games, and interactions with NPCs. I wanted the characters to really invest in both the town they were in and in each other. Hooking them into the setting helped push the story forward and everything went well.
There is a tl;dr version of events at the very bottom of the article if you’d like to skip.
The adventurers rested and woke up around noon to realize it was the Midsummer Celebration and festivities had transformed the main market square into a huge festival. The snow left by the dragon had melted, and the entire town was engaged in random games and dancing in the market square.
There was a tall maypole erected in the middle of the square with prepared foods like grilled corn, various roasted meats on sticks, and cinnamon coated fried bread in stained white napkins. Most of the girls were dressed in hues of whites, oranges, yellows, blues, and greens, and every woman had a garland of flowers on their heads. Two long lines of men and women were dancing in the square to lively string music.
Manfred just patiently read his books while the others enjoyed themselves.
There were three games being done that day, a game of What’s That Smell?, Greased Pig Catching, and a big Game Hunt. After light discussion, each player decided what they would end up participating in. Nia, Bran, and Dr. Wollf chose to sit in on the What’s That Smell? contest. Bran and the doctor were eliminated with several other NPCs, leaving Nia and an NPC named Jondal as the last contestants. Jondal was a tall dark-haired human young man with a long straight nose, amber colored eyes, and a wide smile who worked in the stables as a Paladin’s Squire (though his paladin was one of the adventurers that failed going up the mountain).
Nia correctly identified roasted dragon’s thigh, pickled basilisk tongue, and the dwarf judge’s a**, for which she was promptly kicked off the stage, breaking the table under the stage and earning applause from all the observers. She also won 25 gold. Jondal approached her and awkwardly tried to compliment her on knowing what a dwarf’s backside smells like, but scurried off.
Once Wollf dropped out of the game, Molli dragged him to the dance floor and flirted with him unabashedly, causing both the player and character of the dear doctor to panic as Molli’s large blue-skinned, half-orc brother loomed in the distance.
Larz, the half-orc, had won the greased pig catching contest five years in a row and Porkchop, the sow he’d caught, hated him. The rules were that no harm could come to the pig and that all weapons and armor must be removed from the torso. Larz, Bran, and Wollf all decided to participate in the greased pig catching contest, leading to a bunch of mud-covered greasy men by the end. Porkchop charged Larz as soon as she saw him and slammed him into the fence and both Wollf and Bran literally just slid over the top of the pig before Larz got her in a choke hold of squealing, kicking, angry pig.
Molli also just catcalled the doctor the entire time.
Last was the game hunt, which was an easy roll, of which Bran rolled a natural 20 and found the Great White Stag.
Molli found a boar and everyone had a great time. Both Molli and Nia participated in the lively music with Nia playing her pan pipes and Molli singing. Towards the end of the festival, Jondal approached Nia to ask for a dance, to which she just said “No,” and walked off, causing everyone in the group to call her cold blooded for the next several minutes.
After discussing the Blooming Glade with Mayor Pfrotter, she agreed to lend them horses from her own stable temporarily. The group decided to sleep and leave early in the morning. After a tearful conversation with Dame Edith, Larz and Molli finally receive her blessing.
In the morning, the group found Jondal at the front gates with six horses and realized he would be accompanying them to and from the Blooming Glade. He gave the one white horse to Nia, and passed out the other horses to the other adventurers, causing a few of the other players to say “Well, this is awkward.”
On the road, the group ran into a starving man, who asked only for food. Molli and Larz both gave him theirs and he told them that he’d just come from Zadash and there was a group of mercenaries causing trouble there. He advised everyone to avoid that place and then asked about work in Nicodranus–if there was anyone who would hire him. Molli advised him to go to the docks, as they were always looking for dockhands.
The trip took six hours, following the pin of light in Nia’s eye as the guiding point. They approached steep craggy mountains, with Manfred in the lead. He failed an animal-handling check and nearly was dismounted, but Jondal ran from the back of the group and grabbed the reins of the black horse, pressing his own forehead to the horse’s and calmed it by shushing and petting it. Nia said, “Maybe I should have danced with him…”
Jondal led the group from carefully leading Manfred’s horse and the group found themselves in an eerily quiet and dark forest. The line from the craggy and rocky dirt stopped abruptly and turned into thick lush foliage. Nia took the lead, leading her horse beside Jondal as she followed the light in her eye.
The path was lit by sunlight and framed by daisies and buttercups on either side. Molli knew the correct flower to follow was daisies when the path split from Dame Edith teaching her meanings of flowers at the festival. They made it to a meadow beside a steep mountain wall with vines crosshatched over it. An investigation check revealed a secret path under the vines and they all filed through the tiny passageway, just big enough for one horse at a time.
About 100 yards in front, the trees, brambles, and vines seemed to make their own fencing with an open arch. As the group approached, three firbolgs with long curved staves ran forward and demanded the group leave. Nia claimed the Goddess led her there and two firbolgs could see the spark in her eye left by the goddess.
Through the entrance, the trees parted and bright sunlight poured through to a large meadow covered in flowers, gravestones, two small houses made of wood, and a large wooden home with a sharply arched roof and a silver bell with the emblem of Melora carved into it. The elder firbolg led them to the temple, lit an incense stick, and gave a long prayer asking for entry into the depths of the temple. Then she obviously kicked a tiny panel on the altar and the large statue of Melora twisted out of the way to reveal a staircase.
The bottom of the stairs opened up into a small fifteen-foot square room that actively buzzed. Straight across the room was a large wooden door. In each corner, a massive, mud splattered beehive dripping with honey had grown over each side of the door. The team fought eight swarms of bees and surprisingly did very poorly. Larz also collected honey from the hive, which I thought was silly, but turned out it was brilliant.
The next room had a picture of a bear and man on the door, and the room had a large dark caveto one corner with all sorts of berry bushes and trees everywhere. The group headed toward the cave only to see a huge bear come running out at them and started roaring.
- Larz: “Can I roll Animal Handling and use the honey to distract it?”
- Me: “You can certainly try.”
- Larz: “Natural 20.”
- Me: Seriously? The bear is enraptured by the gooey yellow concoction and completely forgets you guys are there as he tries to lick the bottle clean.
Everyone ran to the door and opened it, then left the bear (now named Pooh) eating his pot of honey. I did not expect that to happen.
The next room featured two long platforms separated by five pedestals over a dark pit. Each pedestal was a pressure plate and all five needed a weight on them to trigger the walkway that connected the platforms. Manfred had a grappling hook that helped the more acrobatic players get to pedestals, but that left the doctor and Manfred to make the farthest trek to a pedestal. Manfred fell several times into the pit and onto a swarm of poisonous snakes. He climbed out and fell in at least three times. It was mostly just bad luck rolls, but it was hilarious. Molli had to save him several times.
No one attempted to throw anything on the pressure plates or for Manfred to use his Mage Hand to push one down. I think that made it even longer. But finally, they hit all the pedestals and the walkway lifted up for them to escape.
A long hallway that depicted Melora creating the wilderness and sea, and various other myths and legends, led down a short staircase toward double doors opening up to a room with a half inch of water covering the floor with a flooding pool in the corner. Manfred and Bran carefully walked towards the doors on the other side of the room and were enveloped in a swirling spiral of water that culminated into a Water Elemental. Bran wiggled out of the grapple, but Manfred was caught inside of it and given like two minutes before drowning.
They finally killed it without having Manfred drown and with a lot of help from Nia casting Dissonant Whispers and causing it to constantly run away. In this room, an investigation check revealed a false wall, two chests, and a small box. They received six scrolls, a silver dagger, a gilded statue of Melora, a leopard fur pouch filled with quartz pieces, several gems, and three potions.
The doors opened to one more room made of sandstone. A large door was carved with depictions of Melora, and three carvings of a crocodile, ape, and black bear sat along the wall across from three golden arcane circles on the ground. Nia, Bran, and Larz each stood on the arcane circles, and a wall of thick vines shot up, splitting the group from one another. The animalistic carvings turn to reveal ancient druids with skin like bark and voices like their animalistic carvings who attack immediately.
Manfred noticed writing on the door that appeared after the wall appeared. He slowly deciphered what it said, and revealed the druids were the chosen of Melora from ancient times and would protect this temple from those who would do harm. After several rounds of combat, Nia actually took a moment to read the arcane circles and finds a rune meaning place or surrender.
Manfred screamed for them all to place their weapons on the arcane circles, even though he wasn’t in there and his character didn’t have this knowledge (stay in character people!). The three of them abandoned their weapons on the circles and asked for Melora’s protection. The druids nodded and climbed back into their tombs and the wall falls.
The central altar room held thousands of flowers and vine-covered walls. There was another arcane circle on the floor, only permitting the devoted to enter. Nia, the only follower of Melora, stepped up the stairs to the long altar with a polished tigerwood box on it. She slowly cracked the top open to reveal a beautiful garland of oleander, daisies, and primroses coiled with white ribbon in the box and nothing else. Nia gingerly picked it up, puzzled, and placed it on her head.
Images of Melora crafting the wilderness from nothing and the sea from her own tears flashed in her mind’s eye, all with the Allmother wearing this garland of flowers in her hair. It was Melora’s Garland, and it was Melora’s Key. The garland granted the wearer +1 to all wisdom saves and ability checks. Once placed upon Nia’s head, small tendrils reached out and affix itself to her hair and head, holding it in place.
A final check of this room revealed a chest behind some vines with a cloak, boots, coil of rope, and bag in it.
The group made their way back up through the temple unhindered, said farewell to the firbolgs, who bowed gently to Nia when she appeared with the garland, and started their path back towards Nicodranus. Jondal waited patiently with all the horses and had made friends with the firbolgs while they were in the temple. As they made their way through the craggy hills, the sun had started to go down. Streaks of purple hinted in the far horizon and just as the group started to discuss spending the night in the forest, Molli noticed a huge plume of dust coming from a rider on the road.
Clove, her childhood friend, was riding a chestnut mare as fast as it would go, tearing clumps of dirt and dust behind it, a look of extreme determination and fear on her face. And then the party noticed, from the direction of Nicodranus, dark plumes of thick black smoke lazily coiling up into the sky.
And that’s where it ended.
Our adventurers had a grand time in Nicodranus at the Midsummer festival playing games and dancing. The group was donated several horses from the mayor and made their way towards the Blooming Glade, running into a starving peasant who advised them to avoid the mercenary outpost situated outside of Zadash.
They carved their way through the wilderness and enter Melora’s temple, fighting swarms of insects, tricking bears, and falling into too many snake pits. After defeating a water elemental and a group of angry druids, our adventurers found Melora’s Key in the form of her gorgeous flower garland. Nia put it on her head and the group left with their found treasure.
Once out of the craggy cliffs and damp forest, Clove, Molli’s best friend, was seen tearing up the road towards them with a look of fear, and in the distance towards Nicodranus, dark plumes of thick black smoke lazily coiling up into the sky.
If you have any questions or ideas or suggestions, please let me know! The group enjoyed the session, and everyone groaned when I revealed the black smoke at the end. Molli said “Don’t you dare kill Edith.” And Nia, whose entire family is in Zadash, really wants to go home for a visit now.
Feel free to guess what’s happening or give any ideas. Maybe there’s just a town barbeque? Who really knows?
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