Jerry is a pro when it comes to streaming his D&D games, and I can do it when summoned, but I much prefer to run my games at home and without an audience. That being said, I just started a new campaign and I’d like to share it with you all because making things and showing you is what I do. So in lue of a streamed game I’ll be doing updates here on the site. I will include art and photos of props when applicable. I’ll post maps and rules that we make up as we go. Basically I’ll do my best to make sure those of you who want to, can follow along at home as we build this world of Brightgrave. Be sure and check out my first post about the game where I give you all the details on the setting. So here’s the breakdown of our very first game. Let me know what you think of this format and anything else you’d like to see here.
Kalrissa - Kara Krahulik - Tiefling Sorcerer
Valkur - Levin Sadsad - Rock Gnome Wizard
Oleander - Amy Falcone - Half Elf Paladin
Inside the Blackriver inn, a tired looking barmaid serves the handful of customers who have stumbled into this tiny spec of civilization on the edge of Turalum and the Abyss. She walks around the small dimly lit tavern, placing heavy glasses down in front of each of the patrons.
A massive grey orc with a ruined face and a golden coin where her left I should be lifts her glass, drains the mug and wipes a fang filled mouth. Next to her a tiny robed figure reaches for the glass given to him but the Orc snatches this mug as well, and drains it in another massive swig.
The barmaid lazily makes her way over to the next table and places a glass in front of a tiny Rock Gnome whose hat is the only thing visible until his little hands stretch out for the drink. Across from him sits a Paladin in full armor who accepts her drink and nods politely to the barmaid.
In the back of the bar the waitress hesitates. Here, the magical barrier that protects Turalum has shrunk to such a degree that it actually cuts right through the bar. The barmaid approaches a table that is bisected by this wall and places a mug down on her side. She gives the glass a shove and it slides across the table before passing through the translucent wall sending ripples across its shimmering surface. On the other side of the shield sitting at the opposite end of the table, sits a Tiefling who catches the glass and raises it to her lips.
This is how I began our first adventure and introduced the party at the table. At this point there was a bit of RP between the characters on the bright side of the wall and the Paladin, Oleander, offered a toast. Suddenly, four armed men burst into the tavern wearing the royal symbol of Turalum and demanding that the prince return home with them. It became clear quickly that the tiny robed figure with the Orc was in fact prince Alexander Cadil and he had no intention of returning with these knights. The Massive orc came to the princes defense and stepped between him and the knights. In the scuffle that ensued the captain of the guards made it clear that everyone in this bar was under arrest for kidnapping the young prince and that did not sit well with our party. We rolled our first initiative.
They managed to fight off the guards and then introduced themselves to the prince.
“I am prince Alexander William Cadil, but you may call me Alex.” He gestures to the Orc adding “and this is Igu the Wretched.”
“But you may call me Igu” she says dryly.
With that, the party met Igu and Alex, our first major NPCs.
From the boy, they discovered that Alex’s mother, Queen Andyla, has disappeared and it is rumored she was seduced by an Abyssal cult on the edge of Turalum. When Alex’s father King Rowan refused to send a search party, Alex took it upon himself to find his mother. He hired the barbarian mercenary Igu with a ring and promises the party riches upon returning to the castle, should they help him with his quest. Each of the party members has their own reason for seeking this Abyssal cult and they all agree to help. Getting the party all on the same page right out of the gate can be tricky so I worked with each player before hand on what their motivations were. Once I knew that I was able to build a scenario that would hook each of them individually.
Igu has a couple leads and they all agree to investigate a stranger called the Watcher. This is a weird old hermit who lives in a shack near the barrier. He spends his days staring through the wall into the Abyss and it has driven him insane. The party hopes he might have seen the cult operating out here, but he will not speak to them until someone agrees to watch along with him. Valkur agrees and the Watcher explains that looking directly at the Abyss is not a good idea. Instead you need to look through something that will shield your mind. He believes that looking through a spider web is the best way to protect yourself, and the gnome gives it a try. This is, of course, bullshit and this guys is crazy. Valkur is exposed to the Abyss.
Mechanically I’m asking players confronted with the Abyss to make Wisdom saving throws. I give Kalrissa the Tiefling advantage on these rolls since her race has a connection to the Abyss. Sadly, Valkur failed his check and immediately took damage as well as becoming convinced he had snakes crawling all over his body for a while. The Watcher was happy though and let slip that he had indeed seen strange cultists performing rituals not far from his shack.
The party camps out and waits in hopes that the cultists will return. A few days later their patience is rewarded and a strange convoy arrives from the west following the edge of the barrier. Igu and Alex are off hunting and the party hides inside the watcher’s hovel as seven cultists arrive with a simple horse drawn wagon. They all wear dark robes except for one who’s black cloak is lined with bright red. This one begins speaking towards the wall in a strange guttural tongue that only Valkur understands because Levin was smart enough to take Abyssal. Soon a massive shape appears on the opposite side of the shield. At first it is just an unrecognizable shadow in the Abyssal darkness but as it nears the barrier it resolves into a sickening beast. A pile of chittering skulls sit piled atop a writhing insectoid body. Long stingers hang from its abdomen dripping poison. Green sacks of what look like eggs squirm on the creature’s back. Only Valkur understands the terrible language it speaks. “THE BLOOD WILL SET YOU FREE” it bellows and the cult members on their side respond in kind. “The blood will set us free!”
Kalrissa recognizes the monster as an Ekolid after a killer Arcana check.
The party watches this strange ceremony until a number of the cultists drag a figure from the back of the wagon. It is a simple looking farmer who appears to be under the effect of some poison or spell that has rendered him docile. It becomes clear that these cultists intend to push this man through the wall and it is at this moment that the party acts. Oleander leaps out of the shack and draws the cult’s attention. The leader sends three of his lackeys to deal with this new threat but Oleander raises her glaive and uses Turn the Faithless, forcing two of the cultists to stop and question their allegiance. They don’t get to think long though because Kalrissa hurls a chromatic orb that leaves them charred and moaning in the dirt.
For this fight I used Cultists and a Cult Fanatic for my monsters. The Fanatic had a few spells at his disposal and ended up being a great challenge for the party. Eventually they managed to deal with the remaining cult members and save the poor farmer. Igu and Alex returned from their hunting trip and Igu helped get some info out of a cultist who was still alive. The party learned that this was the Cult of the Devourer. They each carry a bronze amulet depicting a snake coiled around itself and eating an egg.They also learn that their goal is the destruction of the barrier and they are using a nearby abandoned fortress as a meeting area. The cultist did not survive further questioning by the barbarian.
Kalrissa succeeds on a history check and remembers the way to the fortress. It’s a long hike that takes them along the barrier and all of them have to make wisdom saves to avoid terrible nightmares when they make camp. The party gets to know each other a bit and Prince Alex makes it clear that he believes his mother is being held at this fort, but Igu urges him not to get his hopes up. The next day they arrive at the fort to find that much of it has been consumed by the Abyss over the long ages since its creation. A ruined stained glass window and broken clock dominate the facade of the ancient fort. The shattered window depicts the Turalum Lighthouse in all its glory. Below it, the clock’s iron hands are twisted and frozen in place marking the exact time of some ancient calamity.
I like to use puzzles from video games in a lot of my adventures. In this case, I wanted to seal the entrance to this cultist layer with something that would take the party a while to solve and ended up taking an idea from the DS game I’m playing right now Alliance Alive. The party realised they could light torches to cast shadows across a large stone altar. Eventually it became clear to them that these shadows functioned like hands of a clock and finally Valkur stepped outside to make note of the time frozen on the ancient clock outside. They lit the proper configuration of torches and holy shit a magic door opened up!
And that is where we left our heroes.
So there you go. That’s a quick rundown of our first adventure into Brightgrave. I’ve got some cool plans for this group but they all have their own agendas and I’m excited about the story we will write together. I know Amy will be keeping her own character journal and making it available on her Tweeter at some point. Hit me up on my Tweeter if you have any questions about Brightgrave!