Tempest, Blue Dragonborn Cleric Trickery-Domain (played by Jojo, 14yo)
Folax Huntreouss, Human Gunslinger (played by Evan, 12yo)
To-be-named, Aasimar Wizard Divination-School (played by Mummy)
Warning: This adventure contains a lot of references and spoilers to the ‘Princes of the Apocalypse’ campaign. If you have yet to play through the campaign, be warned that you’re likely to come across the same stuff we did.
During a weekend away, I managed to convince my wife to join in our D&D campaign after showing her this article (https://geekandsundry.com/the-dnd-grandma-shows-youre-never-...) about a grandma who plays D&D. So when we got back, I excitedly announced to the kids this piece of news. I was somewhat surprised by the half-hearted reception.
“What’s up, guys? I think it’s a great idea!”
Evan says, “Well, it’s just that.. It’s mummy! She’ll tell us stuff like, ‘That’s too dangerous!’”
Jojo adds, “And things are going to get harder now! She’ll probably need us to rescue her or something!”
“I’ll be starting her on Level 2. In fact, I’ll go create her character sheet right now.” So laptop in hand, I settle myself in front of my wife who is knitting on the futon, and start asking her questions about what her character is going to be. “I want a character that has some ability associated to sight or vision,” she replies while casting on a yarn thread. “Is there something like a seer?”
I flip through the options from the PHB, and eventually find the Wizard Divination School. “Well, this sounds pretty cool. With the Divination school, you get the ‘Portent’ feature. It allows you to roll two d20s after a long rest and record their values. Then, later on, you can spend and use these Portent values instead of making a d20 roll. That’s actually pretty awesome!”
I then pull up my favourite Fast Character Generator website (http://www.fastcharacter.com/) to quickly generate a Level 2 Wizard of the Divination school. “Hmm. What race do you want?” I scroll down the list of races, and am surprised to see ‘Aasimar’ as a selectable race. Further investigation shows that this is an ‘example’ race that is supplied in the DMG, but is fully playable. Sort of like an inversed Tiefling; instead of having infernal blood, an Aasimar has celestial lineage. My wife liked the idea of having angel-blood, so we now had an Aasimar character. As a character background, she chooses Guild Merchant.
My wife asks. “If I’m an angel descendant, do I have wings?”
I frown. “There is something I read from the ‘Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide’ about letting Tieflings have bat wings in exchange for their Infernal Legacy trait. I suppose we could do the same, and let you have wings in exchange for your Celestial Legacy trait. At Level 2, that means you can’t cast Light as a cantrip.”
Jojo, who had come around to see how things are going, injects here. “Do it, mom. You’ve got darkvision, so who needs light cantrips!?”
Now that we had a generated Level 2 Aasimar Wizard (Divination) character, there was something else I wanted to try. “I’ve been reading up on this character background random generator from ‘Xanathar’s Guide to Everything’. It’s looks pretty cool! Let’s use it to generate your character’s background.”
This is a cool book!
And so, after a lot of dice rolls, here’s her background: Born to a family with four siblings, she inherits her aasimar heritage from her mother’s side. The family lived in a large, but ill-maintained manor, likely a place that belonged to her mother’s side which has seen grander days. Tragically, her mother is devoured by a monster (we did not decide what) to save her children. Her father brought the four kids up as best as he could, but times were generally tough. One other incident of note was when she got lost in the woods, and was rescued by a hedge wizard who recognised her innate magical ability, and taught her the rudiments of magic. Eventually, she leaves home to join a guild specialising in decorative armour as an apprentice, determined to earn enough to keep herself out of a life of poverty. But recently, a falling out with a dangerous adventurer (who was a guild client) has forced her guild mentors to send her away on a ‘business trip’ to keep her out of sight.
Next, wizard spells. Gosh, this was a long list, but eventually, we pick spells like ‘Minor Illusion’ (to help her during sales pitches), ‘Find Familiar’ (who can say ‘No’ to a magic pet?) and ‘Witch Bolt’, which works a lot like the Emperor’s lightning bolts in Star Wars. We also agree that she needs to cackle when she uses it.
“And lastly, a name. What is your character’s name?”
My wife thinks. And thinks some more. “Um, I don’t have a name yet. Can we start without one?”
I shrug. “Yeah, sure. It’ll be hard, but I think we’ll manage.”
That weekend, we gather together for our first session together with Mummy.
“She’s an ass-what?”
“An AYE-si-mar,” I reply primly. I explain about the celestial heritage, and the kids are somewhat impressed.
“What’s her name?”
“She hasn’t decided yet.”
“Then what are we going to call her? A-S-M-R?”
“We’ll manage,” I reply through gritted teeth.
Jojo declares. “I’m calling her Fred.”
“I don’t want to be called Fred!”
I roll my eyes and turn to Mummy. “I think since this is your first session, we should start with how you get to the Dessarin Valley. We’ve already established that you were sent away from your guild headquarters for your own safety because of a ‘falling out’ with a dangerous adventurer. Now, let’s figure out where exactly is your guild headquarters. I think I have a pretty good idea where though.”
I trace a finger along a westward road from the Dessarin Valley map. “As we know, following the Long Road south brings us to Waterdeep, the City of Splendors. Well, there’s this road towards the west, which leads to another city. This is Neverwinter, the City of Skilled Hands. I think that’s the perfect place where your guild headquarters is located, because it’s a city of merchants and craftsmen.”
I fill them in on some background history of Neverwinter, a half-ruined but bustling city still recovering from a catastrophic earthquake that ripped open a chasm to the Underdark. “Aside from your home village, and the city of Neverwinter, you’ve never really been anywhere else. As an excuse for your business trip, your mentors tell you that they’ve received word that there is a group of very wealthy wannabe nobles from Waterdeep who have established a ‘flying club’ in the Dessarin Valley. Your mentors want you to make contact with this group, and offer them services to create specialised armor, perhaps with winged motifs.”
The kids exchange glances when I mention the ‘flying club’, but don’t say anything.
“Can I fly there?” asks Mummy.
I shrug. “Flying is about the same as walking. It’s not advisable though. There are plenty of monsters that fly, and you’d draw too much attention to yourself if you fly. It’s probably best to travel in a group, like with a caravan that’s heading the same way.” I relate how mummy’s character arrives late at night in Red Larch on a caravan coach. She checks her tired self into the Swinging Sword Inn, and goes straight to bed.
The next morning, she comes down and meets Kaylessa the inn-keeper for a proper greeting. “Hi! I’m Kaylessa - I checked you in late last night. If you have anything you need, just let me know!”
“Thanks,” says Mummy. “Um, do you know where I can find the ‘flying club’?”
Kaylessa immediately goes quiet. “I.. don’t have much to do with the ‘flying club’,” she says hesitantly. “What do you want with the ‘flying club’?”
Mummy explains that she’s a guild representative looking to contact the ‘flying club’. Kaylessa seems dismissive. “Guild representative? Are you part of the Lord’s Alliance? If you are, you might find some help across the road at ‘Tarnlar’s’. He sells clothes, and deals with the Lord’s Alliance as well.” I explain to Mummy that she’s definitely heard of the ‘Lord’s Alliance’ - it’s a loose conglomerate of merchant lords who formed an alliance to protect trade. Her own guild is recognised by the Lord’s Alliance.
Mummy thanks Kaylessa again, and heads outside. Just as she leaves, Kaylessa calls out after her, “Oh! And mind the large sinkhole in the street! It turned up about ten days ago!”
“I didn’t see it when I arrived last night?” asks Mummy.
“It was late at night, and you were tired,” I reply. “Thank goodness you didn’t fall in!”
The large sinkhole in the middle of the street now has ropes around it to keep people away. There seems to be a team of humans and dwarves discussing things near the sinkhole. Mummy skirts around the sinkhole and crosses the street.
“What about your wings?” I ask Mummy. “Do you show them openly, or do you hide them beneath a cloak?”
“I hide them,” decides Mummy. “Since my childhood, I’ve found that being stared at very annoying.”
At the clothes store, there is a signboard of a well-dressed lord and lady in front. I tell her, “It’s such a surprise to see a shop like this here! Red Larch hardly seems like the sort of place to have a nice clothing store!”
Jojo says. “You mean, I’ve been in Red Larch all this while, and I didn’t know about this clothes store!?”
I reply, “Your dragonborn’s passed this store many times, but Tempest wasn’t that interested to check it out.”
Mummy enters the place, and I describe the racks of well-made clothes. A portly man introduces himself as Helvur Tarnlar, the store owner. “Ah yes, a pleasure to meet you, my lady! And where might your guardian or chaperone be?”
“I’m here by myself,” replies Mummy.
Helvur tsks. “Oh, but of course! It must be very… liberal… where you come from!”
Just then, a young woman appears from the backroom, carrying a few new clothes. I get Mummy to roll a d20, and explain that this is a Charisma roll. Mummy opts to use her Portent roll of 18. “This young woman gasps when she sees you! She calls you out by name, um-mmh-rmm” I mumble something indistinct.
Jojo says, “I TOLD you this would be hard without a name!”
An old room mate!
It turns out that Mummy knows this young woman from her early days in Neverwinter. Maegla, or just Meg, used to be her room-mate when they were both looking for apprenticeship in various guilds. Eventually, Meg was accepted into the Clothiers Guild, and moved into her guild living quarters.
“Meg brings you to the backroom, and you both catch up on what’s happened since you’ve both seen each other. Apparently, Meg’s family arranged a marriage for her to Helvur Tarnlar, and she’s been here in Red Larch ever since. ‘The Tarnlars were in the wagon-building business,’ says Meg. ‘But their business was going down the drain. They couldn’t compete with the quality of Thelorn’s wagons, nor the price of Waelvur’s wagons, so it was a losing battle. In the end, I dropped a few suggestions that perhaps the business should change to this clothing store, and here we are!’ She gives a proud nod. ‘We are the only quality clothing store for miles around, and I figured that once wagon-drivers and caravaneers have had enough of driving around in the rain, they’d appreciate good, sturdy, trendy travel clothing!’”
Mummy nods approvingly. “She’s got good business sense!”
I reply, “Yes, and in fact, you soon figure out that Meg is the brains behind this whole operation. Her husband Helvur struts around pretending that he’s in charge, but he’s just a pompous snob.” Meg is soon inspecting Mummy’s boots, and insists on giving her a pair of new travel boots. In return, Mummy insists on buying a new cloak as well.
“Have you heard about the ‘flying club’?” Mummy asks.
Meg shrugs. “All I know is that they can be found at Feathergale Spire. Apparently there’s a clear road to get there now, although it’s still dangerous to travel there without an escort. Perhaps you can try asking some of the local heroes if they can help get you there?”
Mummy asks more about the ‘local heroes’, and Meg fills her in on all the juicy details about how ten days ago several townsfolk were found to be part of a secret society who have murdered innocent travellers in ritual sacrifice. Waelvur and Melli have been arrested and Constable Harburk is escorting them to Waterdeep to stand trial. And Landro, one of the tavern-keepers, has disappeared, along with Grund the half-orc simpleton who used to live at the fairgrounds selling pickles.
“What? Landro’s gone!? That sucks!” complains Evan. “Where am I staying then!?”
“You’re still staying at Landro’s tavern,” I reply. “There’s police cordon rope across the doorway, but you just duck under them and sleep on the couch!”
“As for the local heroes, you should be able to find them at the Helm at Highsun,” says Meg. With that, Mummy thanks Meg again and promises to drop in again soon. As she leaves, Helvur starts with, “Oh, nice boots! I hope that Meg gave you a good discount-” and quietens when he sees his wife’s scowl.
I describe the Helm at Highsun to Mummy as she arrives at the tavern. “The place is bustling inside with lots of people. You make your way to the bar counter, and a friendly bar-tender introduces himself as Garl to you and takes your order.”
“Hello, Garl,” says Mummy. “Would you know where I can find the local heroes here?”
The bartender grins. “Ah yes, of course, the person you’re looking for is here! The Helm at Highsun, of course, is well frequented by our local heroes!” He points at a table. I tell Mummy, “There are a number of people at this table, but they all seem to be paying attention to one particular individual. This individual is a notable-looking dragonborn wearing a cleric’s robe. But most notably, she is also wearing... a whole necklace of sporks!” Jojo hoots in laughter and gives me a high-five.
Garl proudly tells Mummy, “Yes, our local dragonborn hero loves her sporks. I introduced them to her, you know.”
“How interesting,” says Mummy. She thanks Garl and finds a place at the dragonborn cleric’s table. I let Jojo and Mummy introduce themselves to each other in character (a real feat for Mummy’s character who still has no name), and when Mummy asks about the recent events, Jojo tells her all about her adventures in Red Larch. Tempest also takes out S'il-vous-plaît and introduces the spectral sword to Mummy. The spectral apparition in the blade says, “Hi! You can handle me any time!” A brief pause before he realises what he said and he blurts, “Um. Bye!” and vanishes in an embarrassed swish.
“Well, I was hoping that you could help escort me to Feathergale Spire,” says Mummy.
Tempest replies, “Oh, that place. Well, there’s a problem with that place. Rumours are that once you go to Feathergale Spire, you don’t come back.”
“No one knows. Only that when people go there, they chose to stay there instead of coming back. Why do you want to go there anyway?”
Mummy says, “I sell decorative armour, and my guild wants me to try to sell these to them. In fact, if you’re interested in some decorative armour yourself, I’d be glad to-”
I interrupt, “Someone else cuts in! A young woman dressed in gleaming leather armour from head to toe! She declares angrily, ‘If Tempest is going to buy any sort of armour, it will be Chansyrl armour!’”
I tell Jojo, “You know this young woman. After the events from ten days ago, everyone has been celebrating you and Folax as ‘Red Larch’s local heroes’. This woman Chansyrl owns the leather goods store in Red Larch, which includes leather armour. Chansyrl is a walking advertisement for her store, with the ‘Chansyrl’ logo stamped on all her gear. She’s been trying very hard to get you to wear her armour, particularly if you can display the Chansyrl brand logo prominently, and perhaps mention that you use Chansyrl armour when you are in battle.”
”I might be Surprised and Prone, foul beast, but I also have Chansyrl’s leather armour!!”
Tempest rolls her eyes and tells Chansyrl, “Look, I haven’t agreed to wear anything of yours, so go away!”
Chansyrl’s face takes on an almost puppy-eyed look. “But.. you’re Red Larch heroes! And I run a store in Red Larch! Don’t you want to support Red Larch business!?” This however does not change Tempest’s mind, and the young woman slinks away.
I say, “Just then, the tavern door bangs open, and an excited but ugly-looking human wearing scale armour comes in. ‘They’re getting my wagon out!’ he states loudly.’They are going to use some sort of contraption to lift it out!’” I explain to everyone that the town authorities have decided on plans to build some sort of underground street in the chambers recently discovered under the town. And they have to remove the wagon because it was in the way.
Tempest introduces Folax to Mummy who offers to buy Folax a drink. Folax immediately requests for Hag-fish brew, the most expensive drink in the tavern. Mummy offers to buy him a beer instead. “I hate beer!” retorts the gunslinger.
I intervene. “Actually, that’s true. Since Landro disappeared, Folax has been coming here to the Helm on Highsun for drinks. And ever since he complained to Justran, the brewer who works for Garl, about the quality of beer here, Folax has noticed that every beer he drinks here seems worse than everyone else’s.”
Evan declares, “That’s it! I’m not drinking any beer from here! Urgh!”
It felt right to kick off the next ‘season’ of our adventures through the introduction of Mummy’s character. Although the kids did not participate much, they were quite entertained all the same.
This session was definitely a ‘setup’ session. Plenty of potential plot hooks, and I took the liberty to introduce a whole host of new NPCs from Red Larch, namely Helvur Tarnlar and Maegla (Meg), Chansyrl of ‘Chansyrl armour’, and Justran the beer brewer. Let’s toss them into the mix and see what comes up.