We were cut down this week with our running time, technical difficulties plagued us. One of the upsides of virtual tabletops, ease of access; the downside is potential reliability of servers and end user systems. The players take on hunts, and head out to find the source of the spreading fungus near Prime City.
With the short session, I will give a short synopsis; but I want to go over what I’ve learned over the past few weeks as well…
This was the first chance for players to experience downtime, and it turned into one of the longest role playing sessions we’ve had in ages. I had expected maybe an hour or so of role playing, but it was nearly double that before the players actually headed off into the wilderness.
In Union City they practiced professions, trained a little bit, researched, looked for new rumors, and checked out the guild hunt board. What’d they find out?
- A mysterious and creepy tree like creature haunts and stalks people roughly a month north of Prime City, leaving just remains behind for those unlucky enough to encounter it.
- Rare cockatrice known as Greatbeaks stalk nesting grounds around Prime city, their beaks are known to make amazing blade materials.
- The famous bard, Maedroor Redsong’s, page from his last unfinished piece was found over a month away from Prime City.
- The Seekers guild has three hunts needing tended; dog sized rats have been spotted in Prime City and they want a live healthy specimen, they need a live small Blight to study, and there are strange vines that they’d like to study several days northeast of Prime city they need at least four brought back.
With all of this knowledge in hand, and a little bit extra, they went to Prime to fetch mounts, finish shopping and head out. To their dismay, their source for Crawler mounts was out of stock and the owner out trying to get more. They were told to visit a half elf by the name of Kalen (Kah-lehn), he runs a shop on the north side of the city. The players found their spot when they were distracted by a fifteen foot large spider munching on pineapple the size of a couple of watermelons. What appeared to be a topless woman was lifting barrels of hay and feeding a horse with an orange mane of fleece. As ‘she’ turned around, they realized it was a slender but toned looking half elf, his soft voice greeted them “Kalen at your service.”
After some haggling and discussion, the players rented three of these spiders known as Krepids, and the Fey Horse which hooves barely touched the ground with a gentle orange glow. They were told how to care fore them during the trek. They’d be in debt from the start, with some having to work it off when they return, but arrangements were made and they were off back to fungus town.
As they left the city through the southeast gate, they learned just how much has changed in a week. Piles of dead and dying blights in all shapes and sizes were being harvested and ripped apart for their living wood. Small adventuring parties and guilds were even quarreling over territory. The players were not interested, they needed a single living one, and to study the source.
After a few days of travel, they discovered that they would have never made it on crawler mounts, as the fungal infestation surprised them. It hadn’t spread any further, but it had well over tripled in size of mushrooms and the sheer number. Their specialized mounts allowed them to travel through, spiders climbing and webbing through the massive trees, the fey horse carefully floating about. Till they finally reached the water filled swamp.
Six hours of travel lead them to the center of the swamp, where only water, mud, trees, and a small 20 foot mud island was. They spotted something that flecked the mud with yellow white spots. As they approached they realized it was likely the bones of something. Once near it, it was confirmed. The bones of a horse or stag that was maybe 20 feet long in life. Its neck had been crushed in but its skull was missing.
The players investigated it, the dwarf was the first to touch it. The jungle and swamp around went dead quiet and a cold chill filled the air. As the dwarf lifted his head, he locked his eyes to glowing red eyes and the ghostly visage of a 15 foot tall, 20 foot long stag. The very one that haunted the fringe of his memory. The players attempted to console it or stand ground, but the dwarf was petrified with fear, and soon the dragonborn… The night ended with an overgrowth of briarthorn spreading nearly 30 feet out from the ghostly beast.
I was sad we didn’t get to get into it more. There are many possible outcomes to this situation as the players are, but are not in combat with this thing. Can they find a peaceful resolution? Will this end in a bloody brawl? I’m not sure just yet. It seems the players are actually intent on a peaceful resolution and I am extremely excited if that’s the case.
The downtime was a massive success. Players learned that things are more expensive in Union City and Prime City. The nature of their location, their success, so much has gone in and changed, that it’s impossible to metagame against these cities. With all of that, we actually don’t do buying and selling between games, but as part of the start of the night; only in cities. It really allows the chance to haggle, and role play and give more information to the players. All of this changes what they may purchase, or gives them goals. It’s no longer (yeah I bought some stuff) and then find out it’s useless later on, or stuff happening with no reason between sessions. I love it. Many of the monsters have been slightly changed from the monster manual, and combat has so far, been very exciting. Sure some fights have been easier than needed, hard to predict what six players can pull off, but they were each SUPER memorable.
I blame this on several things; I have worked hard to remember describing things properly, D&D 5e’s better action system, the monsters have just been better designed, and strawpolls. So much has gone in from all angles that everything feels better, and exciting to me. The straw polls let the viewers interact, as well as let the players vote on the outcome of their actions, which also feeds me something to work with on descriptions.
With all of these changes made, using downtime, not discussing rules and the game between sessions, it’s forced the players to be more open about discussion and talk to eachother as well as myself. It’s no longer an awkward conversation back and forth on Facebook or email. It’s become stuff that is roleplayed at the table, or discussed with everyone beforehand… Which is something I’ve worked so hard for. 5e just happened at the right time as I wanted to run a campaign setting different from anything I’ve done before.
I hope my players are enjoying it as much as I am, they seem to be.
Till next time,