I’m running an actual campaign for the first time in ages tomorrow and I’m real excited for it. I have two players, Ben and Luis, who are the players I talked about earlier being decent enough RPers but a lil heavy on the hack n’ slash side of things…And I’m a tiny bit worried that tomorrow’s session will disappoint because the way I have things planned, there will be almost NO combat the entire game, except for a minor skirmish near the very end. But not overly so, to be honest.
I’m setting the story in the land of Rashemen, in the Forgotten Realms. Rashemen is a rugged land of natural beauty, chilling cold, powerful nature spirits, and the Rashemi, a hardy, nature-oriented people that live very closely to the land and it’s guardian spirits. Real-life equivalent, Rashemen would be Canada/Alaska, geographically speaking. This is a 1st level Gestalt game, meaning the PC’s have two character classes. Very high powered, but then, I like gestalting in D&D because it allows for some considerable customization and truly memorable PC’s and NPC’s. My players seem to really prefer the high-powered variant, and although it’s slightly more of a headache for me balancing things, I like it too for the extra flavor, so I’m doing it again. This time, however, I specified at character creation that everyone had to choose at least one Divine class as half of their gestalt (cleric, druid, paladin, favored soul, shugenja, etc) and I wanted a detailed writeup of their alignment and philosophy. I played in a divine gestalt game myself once, and it was one of the best I’d ever been in, if short-lived, and have wanted to do one myself for some time now. So I have a Druid/Sorcerer, and a Warlock/Shugenja. A magic-heavy, but VERRRRYYYY capable party I’m concerned will be a power-gamy headache in short order.
The storyline I have set up for the first game is that Nefistys the Warlock/Shugenja (Ben) will be going on Diwallj, which is a coming of age ceremony all Rashemi go through as an initiation into adulthood. Diwallj is a very free-form ritual, where the potential adult is given a bag of supplies and told by a Hathran elder (the female wise women-leaders of Rashemen) a place to go on pilgrimage to, sites to visit to make offerings to local place spirits, and specific actions that might please said spirits. Once the youth succeeds in gaining a spirit’s favor, the spirit will then offer a token in exchange that the youth will take back to the hathran as proof that he or she possesses an understanding of the guardians of Rashemen and that those guardians recognize the person as worthy of their protection and favor. Normally it might be, say, a piece of bark from a woodland sprite’s favorite tree or a shiny river stone. But Ben and Luis will be gaining their divine spellpower in this session, so they’re going to awaken the spirit of a long-dead priest who wishes the weapon he carried into battle against a dragon returned to his pool. The pool is a hollow in solid rock where the priest made his final stand against a black dragon, slaying the beast, but melting along with the rock. The pool quickly filled with water but the weapon survived and laid there until recently. So in any case, I’m going to do my best to rope Luis along, which shouldn’t be too hard (he gave me the usual "I’m an orphan, etc…" background, so I’m relying on Ben’s more detailed into to get things going).
I will be trying a few new things in this session. For one, I’ve never utilized ambient music in my games. Jeremiah was the first DM to use it (though it was generally some rock’n tunes for combat, it really livened things up!) and I’m downloading some nature soundtracks via Miro as I type to create some forest ambience. Also, I’m going to be making some use of pictures to supplement my descriptions. For instance, I’ve a picture of magic amulets that will be offered as a reward for completing Diwallj by a hathran elder (who isn’t really a hathran elder, thus setting the real storyline in motion) and some pictures of the area they will be trekking to. At some point, I’ll be throwing in props, as appropriate, though I’m not sure what I will be making. In one of my older games, the PC’s were exploring an abandoned Maztican (think Aztec) temple and found the journal of an explorer who’d been sacrificed a century earlier. So I used a trick with tea and cinnamon to darken papers I typed in flowing classical script to look ancient, then tore it into chunks and seared them with a match to make them look moth-eaten. The players loved it, so I will be doing that one again sometime and other similar things. Also I have a typed out note from Ben’s character’s father, Rorger Thundervale, Barbarian Fang of Khellaria and defender of Rashemen. Strong traditionalist who wishes his son would pick up a sword rather than fling magic, but is still proud of his boy nonetheless. His mother will give him his supplies for Diwallj, and among those things is a bottle of jhulid (Rashemi firewine) supposedly watered down by his mother. But none of them know his father switched it back out for regular jhuild unless Ben takes the time to read the back of the wrapper the bottle was wrapped, which he might not (probably wont :P) see is actually a note from his father saying:
Nefistys – To my pride and joy, my only son: News of your soon trial of the manhood has reached ear even here along the Mulsantear. My heart weaps for I know you will poove to be up to the task; you have the proper blood, after all! With your mother’s wits and your father’s spirit no challang can stand before your irun determination!! Take this gift and use it when the time is right; shama-thuzad aun Kellaria!!
P.S.: I swiched out the weak stuff your mother wanted to teethe you on. You’r a man, and a man drinks jhuild, not watered down snoberry juice! This will put hair in all the right places and some you didn’t know you had. Love, Dad.
Hidden joke that he spelled determination right, but not "iron." I think the secret to getting a total RP-only session will be supplementing mere speaking description, so that the player’s don’t get bored. Because no matter how well one RP’s, you’re still in someone’s house using your imagination, and sometimes that can get boring. Assuming all goes well tomorrow, I’ll post a synopsis of the story, to create a game-journal for me and anyone who cares to follow.