When it comes to writing about D&D, one of the things that complicates my portion of the tale is that I am the DM. Being behind the screen and knowing that at any time one of my Players could read the article means I have to be worried about contradicting, exposing, or even creating information that is new to the world. However, I think that the effort of writing about the time behind the screen, its troubles and trials, is worth the potential risks, at least right now, and I’ve resolved to write more frequently on the adventure that I am currently running.
Last we left off, two of the characters had fled the the battle and three were bleeding out on the cold stones of the bridge. Baalgrin had returned to Parminium as a new supplicant to the great one, Atalian was still recovering from his wounds, and Carric had sought out the assistance of some of the local thieves Guild, and was out for the time being. This meant that, along with the two players who had dead characters making new ones, Carric would also be making a new character, all of whom would have to be introduced.
Fortuneatly for me, One of the players had brought his own hook. He is playing a discredited magical scholar who had a radical concept of what had happened in the Brakwood. Another was seeking to integrate himself into a large group in order to increase his chances of survival. The other took over the slot of a Half-giant paladin I’d introduced earlier, who had joined the OVR after he was found in the catacombs beneath the the Monestary of Dagor that the group had visited.
Atalian happened into the Sage and his bodyguard, and they joined forces. together they convinced Baalgrin to tag along, which simply consisted simply of providing him coin. Vrothgar felt the pull of Dagor into the wood, as well, and joined up. Together, they set off into the Brakwood at the behest of Atalians Patron, the affluent and influential dwarf lord, Castin.
Now, I’m going to delve deeper into my brain for a bit, about both the adventure and how I thought it panned out.
This is where the adventure took a turn, and I started making a bunch of either rookie mistakes, or just plain bad decisions. I don’t have the Brackwood mapped out, because I think its important, sometimes, to have portions of the game that are mysteries to both the players and the DM, and to have places that can just be improvised. Coming into this session I still wasn’t completely sure where the PC’s were going, so I’d left a lot of mystery to the Brackwood.
Well, now it was coming to bite me in the ass. As a group, they had decided to investigate the Brackwood and were starting with the Mages Tower. Fortunately, I had discussed a few aspects of the tower with my brother when I had first introduced the Brackwood. Though I had a basic concept, I still didn’t have detailed information on the tower. I knew they were likely to go there, and I should have.
I made another mistake as they traveled to, and then within, the Brackwood, I hadn’t really fixed on the reason that the forest is like it is. I had posited three different reasons I could be, but I hadn’t decided from among them which one it really was. Sadly, this left me with trying to make creatures, encounters and a general session that revolved around the unknown. The most significant problem with that situation was that I strongly desired to keep the mystery alive, and I was extremely hesitant to have an encounter that would cement, in the minds of the players, the likely cause. I also failed to convey, in any significant way, the sheer malice that curses the land, the plants, and the animals of the ‘Wood. I really blew it on sparking that dread.
I tried with each of three encounters over the course of the evening. The first, I didn’t feel positively about, the second was enjoyable, and the third was the end of the session, so I don’t really have a judge.
The first encounter was an “on watch” Encounter with the unnamed creature, and it was by all known measurments, the worst of the night. I didn’t know what I wanted, and I really didn’t know what the players expected, so I just kind of hacked it, poorly. . The player on watch woke everyone up and they messed with it a little, but I decided it was more scared of them than they were of it, and it just stayed away.
The Phantom was a ton of fun. A midsized, elegantly dressed and robed man wandered into the camp, glowing pink and green. Baalgrin immediately attacked but his axe passed completely through the ephemeral body. I made sure not to answer the question of “who are you” that the characters asked, but simply told them to leave. this section of the woods was his, and they are not welcome. They tried to discuss the particulars with him, but he simply vanished.
The orb was the final encounter, and it drew them towards it. Glowing green and far away, It was a signpost for the wizards tower off towards the coast. It turned out to be charged with electricity. We ended the night with me feeling duped and bad, but the players in highish spirits.
Next time we meet up, I’m going to have a plan. I’v recently settled on the cause of the brackwood, and eagerly await its discovery and learning about how they players intend to deal with it.