Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Moulding Young Minds and Other Madness

This post was supposed to be the third session report of my D&D campaign with my daughters but I'll be combining several weeks of play into this post to bring you all up to speed and talk about a few of the developments.

We're still using The Black Hack by David Black along with the legendary D&D Module, B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. I've made changes to both since we started but the biggest change is the expansion of the group.

I volunteered to watch my friend's son while she took her daughter to the clinic one evening and since it was D&D night, after supper I asked him if he wanted to play. Carter had never even heard of Dungeons and Dragons so I described it as "like a video game, but everything happens in your head." He thought that sounded cool so we rolled up a character. He decided on a Warrior named Dabber. When he rolled four for his Charisma he asked if his character could be missing an eye with a big scar and loose flap of skin. I was a little worried I'd need to draw that so I suggested a scar with a metal plate nailed into his skull to hide his empty socket. Carter thought that was a great idea and we were off!

The Black Hack Character Sheet for Dabber, the Warrior played by Carter, 9

Getting him to the rest of the party was easy enough, he simply followed the trail of corpses in the goblin cave to the supply room where the girl's characters were finishing up a short rest. Their rest had been interrupted early on by some hobgoblins coming through a secret door, but they were ready to go. They accepted their new party member since he was a bad-ass looking warrior and the Conjurer was tired of getting wailed on in combat.

It didn't take them long to find the seat of power for the goblin caves. I swapped out the original chieftain, honour guard and mates for a goblin queen and her retinue in her nest. I described it like something out of a HR Giger painting and they ate it up. The kids loved the large, bloated queen with her chain-mail stretched across her heavy body, swinging her great-axe at them while shouting in goblin. The large black eggs stuck to the walls and floor where goblins hatched as full-sized and functioning adults was alien and great scenery for them to work with as they moved around the room fighting the queen's honour guard.

They managed to kill the queen and ran through the last of the honour guard after she surrendered. Not much for mercy, these kids. My daughters also argued over who got to stab the goblins that fell to the Sleep spells because they both wanted to do it.

That was also the session where they started chanting, "One, one, one!" while rolling important hits in hopes of encouraging a crit.

With their huge treasure hall they were able to buy better armour and spend a month at the Keep trying to learn the Goblin and Giant languages from some people they found who were willing to teach them for a fee. They made their Intelligence tests at the end of the month and each added the language they had studied to their respective character sheets. Then they made another delve into the goblin caves only to find a giant spider had taken up residence in the common hall.

Apparently Carter talked about D&D and how much fun he had non-stop for a week. Since it worked out for everyone's schedule I offered to take him and his older sister on Wednesday so they all could play. Hailey was a little wary since Carter's excited descriptions made zero sense to her, but since my youngest, Pascale, was playing she said she'd try it out.

Hailey rolled up a character with both a high Strength and Dexterity. She decided to play a Thief like Pascale's character but wanted to use a giant, two-handed hammer. Since weapon damage is by class in The Black Hack and I had thrown out the weapon restrictions on day one anyway, I saw no reason to say no to her idea. Erie started tiptoeing around the caves with a giant hammer on her shoulder.

Erie, the maul-wielding Thief played by Hailey, 10

The group spent time bribing the ogre (now that they could talk to him) for safe passage and using their sneak attack on the hobgoblins that they found behind the secret door in the store room. My oldest, Chloe, thought it was hilarious that the hobgoblins had looted all the stuff from the goblins that the party wasn't able to carry in the previous session.

They tangled with the Hobgoblin Queen and ended up in a huge fight since coming in the back door allowed the bad guys to raise the alarm. The crazy fight stretched over several rooms and took the better part of the session. Two characters where knocked Out of Action, but the cleric's spells held out long enough to get them on their feet again and good rolls left them no worse for wear. Dabber ended up going toe-to-toe in an epic battle with the Hobgoblin Queen. She was immense and had as many hit points as the ogre from earlier that they were afraid to fight as a group. He held her off in her throne room until the rest of the party was able to mop up everyone else and pitch in.

Old Wojeb, the NPC Cleric they like having around even though his
abysmal strength and occasional cowardice make him kind of useless.

The kids poked around the room until they found all the treasure, but didn't even bother opening the doors to the rookery, or searching for the secret door into the complex. They were all satisfied with the crazy combat and wanted to get their characters back to the keep to sell their loot and heal up.

The next session they went back in through the goblin caves to get back into the hobgoblin lair to chase down the rumour about a captured merchant. They decided they weren't going to chance sneaking past the ogre's cave now that tow of them had chain-mail and they weren't paying the ogre any more money. Instead they drew him out into the open where they delayed him with a wand of web they had and filled him full of arrows before closing for melee. Some good rolling kept the party safe from thrown boulders and they took him down. They stripped of his outfit in the hopes of getting some gold for the bear pelts he was wearing.

This time they found the rookery. My 13-year-old felt pretty silly about not finding it or the secret door the first time. They destroyed the eggs and made their way into the armoury. They found out that telling the guards they had killed the queen was a bad idea but won that fight too.

Olys, the Conjurer played by Chloe, 13

They wanted to tap and scratch at every wall in the hopes of finding secret door but also wanted to be stealthy and sneak around. When I pointed out it was impossible to do both they decided on stealth.

The funniest part of the session is when my oldest decided to bluff the goblins preparing the hall for a feast into believing that they had paid the queen for the return of one of the prisoners and had gotten turned around in the caves. My youngest was trying to goad her sister into casting Sleep instead, "I don't think it's very heroic to lie to them."

Snekava, the Thief played by Pascale, 9

They pulled it off and got directions to the prisoners. A short battle and a running fight later and they were high-tailing it out of the ravine and heading for the Keep.

So far they've cleared out the goblins, the ogre and crippled the hobgoblins. It should be interesting to see where they go next. At this point they still trust the chaos priest spy at the Keep and have promised to come and get him to help them if they ever find any chaos altars, worshipers or relics.

As far as the rules go, I found the 4D6 HD for the Sleep spell was hugely overpowered when spell slots are only lost on a bad roll. I decided to use the LotFP version with only 2D8 HD affected by the Sleep. It's working out much better.

When we started I used the ablative armour with the recovery on short rests. I found it worked OK, but I slowly phased it out in favour of the damage reduction optional rule, starting with shields first and eventually moving to all the armour as damage reduction. The damage reduction solves the shield problem and speeds things up a bit. The monsters still get extra hit points from armour because hitting for zero damage is not fun!

The party is shaping up! They only have a handful of low-powered magic items, but they are well equipped now that two of them have plate mail and everyone else has exactly what they need. The Conjurer has added a spell to her spell book and the party has a townhouse rented inside the walls of the Keep for the next month. They are building relationships with the NPCs in the Keep and getting a feel for the Caves of Chaos. The characters are second and third level and they've all had a couple of stats increase while leveling.

All four are having the time of their lives and can't wait to play again!