Gaming Update – A Tale of Two Campaigns – Part 2

This entry was originally started in March and I am now just getting to wrapping it up. I glossed over some of the finite details like character names and specific place names but I think you will get the idea.

Wednesday nights for me are a wonderful mix of confusion. Confusion from trying to determine which D&D game my friends and I are playing, how to update our characters and who is playing. You see we have two games running at the same time that we alternately play in from week to week because one of our newest guys (really one of the older players that has a hiatus for several years) can only make it every other week and we want him to be in the same game each week. To accommodate this we have been alternating our games each week. I mean, after all we all need a little monster- bashing time. Right?

Last week I described the game that Paul was DM’ing and now I am going to give you the run-down on Ruben’s game.

Set in the world of Athas we are playing within the Darksun campaign setting. If you think of the desert planet from the movie Dune you would have it just about right. You need to throw in horrific creatures trying to eat your faces off – you’re in the open desert not to mention the wondering nomads and desert people who scavenge anything they can. Even if it is one or part of you. Dead or alive!

The planet has become so desolate because terrible powerful scorcerers in eons past used magic that was easy to bend to there will at the terrible cost of leaching of vitality of the immediately surrounding area. Over time, with more and more people using this form of magic and more and more powerful magic being cast, it was inevitable that some cataclysm befall the planet. Our time is set after just such an occurance has happened.

The planet is not devoid of water, of course, nor is it without vegetation. However they are extremely rare and are the true gems of the planet for very few people can truly say to posses them and most of what there is rationed.

There are seven city states that have become the foundation of the known world we live in, each ruled by an evil Lich King. An undead almost all-powerful sorcerer of unknowable power. People live in fear of these sorcerers but often have little choice of leaving the cities where they would assuredly become fodder for the robber/highwayman to cross their paths or a tasty meat-snack for something hungry in the open desert.

Our merry band of adventurers met on a job; we all hired on as guards for a caravan en route to a small town. This is common work to be found for those imbued with skills that are better suited for making war not baskets.

Each of us came with the unique ability of knowing how to survive even among the most difficult situations, and Athas is certainly difficult. As a group of individuals hired to protect the merchant and his goods from point to point not only do you learn to survive but you learn to keep others alive as well.

Not all things work out as you plan however. On our first foray into the deep desert we were besieged by the elements and attacked by desert bandits, people suited for scavenging in the desert. As we were blinded and deafened we were unable to keep track or offer any aid to any other caravan member or get any in return.

We made as good as defensive position as we could with our Cank driven wagons used as protection from both elements and enemy. When the bloody contest was over our employer had been killed and much of his goods were stolen. Turns out we made off better than most of the other wagons and their respective guards. It was almost a complete loss. There were a few stragglers that we did see but for the most part our caravan was completely annihilated.

Since we no longer had a caravan to protect we decided to band together for most of us (player characters) didn’t know one another previously. As we rummaged for what little was left we decided to make our way on a sand skiff to a small free city settled by dwarves.

To speed up the long story to get you caught up somewhat we will skim over the big details and see where we come out.

We cobble together a sand-skiff, basically a sand sail barge. A platform large enough to hold about 6 people and some gear powered by a sail using large tires. Not pretty to look at but it made a huge difference. Exerting as little energy as possible helped us conserve our strength and suffer fewer penalties from being in the harsh elements.

Along our journey we encounter an underground tunnel with crystalline barriers we had to avoid. An oasis where we fought a tembo (really nasty critter, especially at low levels) and a crocodile. We uncovered a subterranean cave that housed some ancient dwelling that had some sort of old preservative magic in place that kept some food stuffs from spoiling.

We do make it to “dwarven” city only to find that it is no longer held by dwarves but by humans. Not only that but it is a slave city and is controlled by what we later find out to be a perverted beholder who had enthralled the populace and placed collars around the necks of almost everyone in the city. During our confrontation with this villain as a final parting blow he activated his mojo to turn to ash all those with a collar on. The sheer devastation and lack of regard for life made me glad we offed him. Must think of the greater good.

While we were in the city we did rescue a woman who was part of an organization we would later come to work for some times. Once we had rid the world of this evil we set about heading to another city and came across a partially sand-covered monolith that we were able to gain entrance to through our vastly superior skills. That and the door was partly ajar i think. We enter and found another subterranean cavern with a tree growing at the edge of a pool of pure water. We all took a dip and were imbued with magical goodness.

We continue our journey and met up with some bad dudes riding a giant stone scorpion that are using blood magic, that is to say blood from living sacrifice, to control it. They demand tribute or ransom of some sort or they will destroy another small town. Well we can’t have that can we so we whooped some ass and moved on.

We eventually made our way to the free city of Tyr whereby we were in need of employment. And what better way to get noticed for said employment that to enter the arena against the undefeated critter (T-Rex), a fight to the death. After a while against the DM’s cheater monster we were victorious and found ourselves with a wealth of money as we bet on ourselves and notoriety.

While in the city I ran across one of my clutch mates. He was old and had but three of his arms remaining. He was a hunter when I knew him and the protector of a new clan of kreen. His enemies, an elven gang called the Tooth Cutters, became my new clutches enemies and we sought out and destroyed them gaining even more street cred in the process. Now that we had “taken care of bid-ness” we now needed to protect all “our people” since our clutch had grown in some relative safety. To that end we purchased a warehouse that had some terrible accident happen in. Like the last owners were horribly murdered.

Once we had acquired the warehouse with the winnings from our arena win we settled in and decided to uncover what had killed the last owners. We found a trap door leading down into the “old city” that the new city was built upon. here we found grizzly evidence of terrible deeds and cruel monsters. We sought out and destroyed some and were chased off by some others. We chose to fight another day. We had secured our home for the time being and that is all we cared about.

We now had city representatives coming to us asking for our help investigating some “disappearances” that had been taking place in one of the poorer parts of the city. We investigated and found another gang, this one of cannibalistic halflings were responsible. We dealt with them like the blunt instrument of doom we are and went on our merry.

By this time we were getting a little stir crazy and wanted some time away from the city plus we had been approached by a rep of the city guard to deal with some slavers that may be responsible for the disappearance of all the dwarves from the city we encountered with the sadistic beholder in power that killed everyone with a collar on. We jumped at the opportunity to help free some slaves and offer a little payback. Many of us in the group have had slavery impact our lives negatively in one way or another. It was decided. We were outfitted with a large sail barge of some sort. If you can imagine what the Jawas travelled in the Star Wars movie you would have it just about right. It lumbered along slow but steady and had enough room to house a large population of rescued slaves.

We made it to the Devils Bowl where we had it on good authority the slavers were to be found. After some searching we came across a nest of them. After the normal posturing took place we laid the beat-down on the bad guys and had ourselves some couple dozen freed slaves. We armed and armored them with the deceased slavers gear and left them in the cave to defend themselves until we came back for them. It turns out there were several other slaver group operating within the Devils Bowl. We moved on to the next one.

While driving another sail barge type conveyance we were forced to maneuver around a debris field that prohibited our movement directly to the next slavers cave. We steered around and were assaulted by a large silt worm thing. It had more tentacles than a dog had fleas, a mouth bigger than a Dark Sun halfling and the idea we looked good for a tasty meat snack.

After the initial assault came we gave a beat down like we can and after a drawn out battle we were left with the creature escaping and leaving the DM frustrated that he could not kill our friendly neighborhood defender – Graub. Graub uses only invigorating powers that give him temp hit points on a hit or miss, armor that grants a healing surge when he is reduced to 0 or fewer HP’s and a pretty high AC to make him able to stay in the fight longer. It worked. The DM had done more than 260 HP’s worth of damage to Graub and was not able to kill him – the DM’s words not mine. To that end at the end of the battle the DM was so frustrated at not being able to challenge us in his own mind threw up his hands and declared an end to that campaign.

Graug broke our DM! I think our barbarian, played by my brother who’s name escapes me now also help to break the DM as he delivers about 160+ of damage in 3 hits. OUCH! Craig and my characters did what we do, offer healing, give extra attacks to out tanks and plink the tentacles that manifested al over the place.

Soon we will start a new game in a different system that give our Dark Sun DM a time to rest and just play. Give him some time to reflect on what makes gaming fun for him. personally I think the pressure of coming up with material every other week was getting to him and he didn’t want to disappoint us. Collectively we decided to end the current Dark Sun game and move on.

That is the tales of two games. I will update our other D&D game occasionally as the story is heating up.

More to come…

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