And here we go.
Last night began the first session of a probable 9-12 month campaign I wrote as a sequel to Curse of Strahd set in the universe of Eberron. As everyone has known each other for years before they started letting me run D&D games for them it could’ve sucked and it still would’ve been fun to see each other again. I’ll put a picture of the group on my twitter account (@snarkknight1) if only to beg for a RT from Keith Baker. I’m also wearing my shirt from Total Party Thrill (http://www.totalpartythrillcast.com/) because they put out an excellent podcast and they also went above and beyond in replying to my request for some feedback on my campaign plot ideas. The least I can do for them is shill a bit.
I realized after I was done writing and map making that my one-shot campaign opener would probably be more like two shots. There is just too much potential combat to get through and the monsters I chose were golems and oozes, which are big ole sacks of hit points that take some time to wear down.
I wanted to get things going fairly quickly so I rushed through some opening narration. After defeating Strahd, the party decides to track down the evil spirit that one PC released from the Amber Temple. The Wizard Mordenkainen says they might want to find an oracle or god, he recommends Heimdall, The Watcher From Asgard. This was a mistake on my part. I probably should have just said he’d send them to wherever the spirit was or something better because I knew and they knew Eberron was the destination.
The opening scene I ripped off from Captain America in keeping with the idea that in Eberron, these PCs are the Avengers. A bunch of snooty military scientist types are looking down on them until there’s an explosion! Oh no! And they can see they’re not in a courtyard, they’re on a floating castle! And there’s a dragon flying overhead dropping soldiers all around them! Holy Shit! Combat followed, good combat. It wasn’t hard but it wasn’t nothing. Damage was dealt and they needed to expend resources which is why they didn’t take more damage. This scene really worked well. The Order of The Emerald Claw announced themselves and proved They Are Assholes. And as intended, the PCs weren’t sure where they were or what they should do. Then an exposition spell comes along telling them, not asking, to make their way down the tower. This is basically The Patronus spell used to carry a message in order to prod the PCs along.
The PCs continued, there was some good roleplay when they found a Devil bound inside a magical cage asking the PCs to release her. I fucked up here, I forgot she was supposed to offer them the keys to one of the Vaults in the castle as well as her Rope of Entanglement. In the end the PCs decided to Banish the devil back to her home plane. They encountered another wizard. Here I fucked up again, I had anticipated they would get there big chance to ask what the hell is going on after they finished this adventure, but I realized that there is no reason this NPC wouldn’t talk to them. I tried to move the scene along quickly. I’m not sure if I should bring this NPC back, maybe I’ll think on that.
Next up the PCs headed for the Alchemy/Necromancy Lab. Again, the Necromancy Lab wasn’t a cakewalk but they overcame it quickly with the smart expenditure of resources. The sort of story of what’s going on is that the PCs were summoned to this wizard school and the bad guys are using one charge counterspell charms and cockatrices (which can petrify someone for 24 hours) to overcome the defenses of the place in their blitz attack. The Druid almost, ALMOST, got petrified and that would’ve been a great moment. We decided to end for the night as the PCs entered the Alchemy Lab only to come face to face with THE ALCHEMICAL GOLEM. The PCs have the speed to ransack the place and get out but we decided they’d rather fight and we didn’t have time for another combat.
One thing I’ve been thinking about since last night is the problem of dropping names in adventures. Two PCs found they had dragonmarks and asked what they were. I tried to explain from the perspective on the NPC but I dropped a lot of names doing it. The Order of the Emerald Claw captives kept saying things like “For Karrnath!” or invoking the Blood of Vol. The PCs don’t know what these things are yet and would they care enough if they knew right now? Probably not. A DM needs to be careful about how fast they drop names of things into their campaign. For the DM, names always have context but for the players the question is “what does this person mean to the situation I’m in right now.”
We live in our worlds. Players are just visiting. I can make myself fall asleep when I try and imagine what House Phiarlan is going to think of these strangers who’ve arrived into their world. But trying to explain House Phiarlan or The Shadow Schism to someone new to Eberron is going to be like explaining Game of Thrones to someone starting in season 6. It’s just not going to work. I don’t know if there’s a way to get past that strangeness other than time. They have to live in this world as they lived in Barovia. In a way, their fish out of water feeling is very much intentional to this campaign. I sent them to Eberron knowing this would be an issue. While trying to solve one problem, they’re asked to solve another set of problems for people they might not like.
It was really great to DM for this group again. If I didn’t have work the next day I could’ve gone another few hours. Obviously there were things that I wish I’d done differently in hindsight but there always are.