So, one of the common issues when people are trying to play D&D is scheduling, scheduling is just really hard for everyone because, well, people have busy lives. Now some of this is something as you become older, if you’re playing D&D in high school, …
We’re back after a few weeks off because of a move for some more Dungeons and Dragons, and we’re continuing our Tower of the Gods campaign.
Where we left the crew, they were at Moody’s Bar for some of the duels which Bokken had entered himself into. Barrai and Thrain had beat up a guy at the bar and left only to sneak back in to watch Bokken fight as they didn’t really remember that they were there looking to find where the tunnel that went under Strawgoh came out in Moody’s Bar.
Bokken is facing off against a half-orc who has an okay record in the ring, but isn’t one of top duelists. Bokken comes out of the gate swinging, rushing to cover the ground and pulling out his odachi and getting a hit on the half-orc. The orc swings back hard with his mace connecting, but Bokken continues to press the advantage until he knocks the half-orc down. They get back up again and wallop Bokken pretty well. But Bokken gets through their guard and brings them to the ground where they stay. The healers come out and heal Bokken some as well as take care of healing the half-orc.
After the fight Barrai starts searching for the trapdoor but finds nothing. Bokken, taking a more direct approach asks an older fighter, Jermaine the Wind Storm, if he knows of any tunnel or trapdoor. He says that he knows pretty often students use one that is back by the latrines, but he doesn’t know where it is himself. Bokken passes off that information to Thrain, like Barrai is still searching, but when Thrain goes to look he finds nothing.
They head back to the school and spend more time doing school work, and trying to figure out what is going on with the final. After there has been a little work done to the school, Castillia and Addrus are moved into the barracks which houses Barrai, Bokken, Thrain and Parrag since theirs had been destroyed. They spend some time chatting with them, and Bokken tips Castillia off, since he’s paying he to keep an eye on Narius, about Addrus being one of the spies. Barrai and Thrain spend some time talking with Addrus and find out that there are actually maps of the tower and that the floors, after the proving area, don’t actually change. So if you have the right connections, have enough money, or are in the right guild, you can actually know quite well what you’re going to find on the first nine floors.
Bokken learning about these maps decides to hang out with some of the fighters from the duels, and joins into a group that is hanging out with Sanphire. He asks them what they know about the third floor of the tower, and gets back some general information. One of the fighters tells him that there’s a lot of fire on that floor. Another says that while there are some monsters, there aren’t as many to fight on that floor, and Sanphire lets him know that this floor of the tower is less about fighting and more about stealth and using your head, which isn’t ideal for Bokken who is not the most stealthy of characters. At that point the other duelists start to swap stories about the tower and pester Sanphire as to when he is going to go back into the tower and try and get past floor 25.
All of the characters spend some time shopping with Barrai buying a number of items, a light crossbow and bolts, chalk, ball bearings, a flask of oil, lock and 10′ of chain, a steel mirror, and after some searching, manacles. Thrain also basically gets himself some jars with oil in them and creates Molotov cocktails. Thrain also spends some time trying to figure out the best ways to not start on fire, and Bokken grabs a jug from the kitchen at the school and fills it with water because he is partially wood.
Also during this time they spend some more time trying to figure out who the other spy might be. Thrain decides to go through Addrus’s stuff now that they are in the same barracks and finds one interesting thing, a chain with five keys on it. This seems out of the ordinary but doesn’t help them get any further into figuring out who might be the other spy. Barrai does spend some time tracing the keys, and then with money he gets from his sponsor he get copies of the keys, from those tracings made up.
Bokken decides that following Addrus around might be useful as well in figuring out who he is working with. He is able to follow him around, he seems him meet with an older man and three students from other schools in the area at an open market, he seems him go into a bank and then into a backroom at the bank and then get a few drinks and watch a few duels. Bokken reports back to Barrai and Thrain and they are a bit surprised that Addrus is going to the bank because it’s a nice bank and unless you have a lot of money they wouldn’t probably accept your business and it would be fairly odd for a student to have that much money. They decide that it’s worth staking out the two locations, the market and the bank to see what activity that they can see from other students.
Barrai watches the bank and sees a few other students go in there, most notably Narius, Edzial (female dwarf barbarian whom hasn’t done much to this point), and Parrag. At the market, Bokken wanders around for a few days and he sees Castillia and Cordon shopping. Narius shopping and then losing his temper when he can’t get stuff for the price he wants. And Dorin actually visits a fairly shady looking stall with occult items. They decide that Narius makes sense to bank at the fancy bank since he comes from a noble family, but Edzial and Parrag that’s a bit odd.
Thrain first follows Edzial and sees her do some shopping picking up trinkets of glass that are of birds, clouds, the sun, and other stuff that you don’t see in an dwarven town. Then she takes them to a courier and gets them loaded into a package. He convinces the courier after Edzial leaves that she had put the wrong address on it and that he was sent to take it to her to get it updated. He takes the package back to the barracks and snoops through it, it’s addressed to Dasthian Corath in the Marthack District, Edfifle, Coldwater Mountains. Thrain knows that Edfifle is a Dwarven town in the Coldwater Mountains, and he finds a love letter form Edzial to Dasthian who is her fiancé. Thrain feels a bit sheepish about that, and returns the package to be sent. He follows Parrag next, Parrag just goes to a bar and has a chat with the bar tender, goes to the bank, and then goes and watches the duels placing a small bet which he loses.
Thrain thinks that’s suspicious and so with Bokken blocking the door, they sit down Parrag and Addrus one evening and accuse Parrag of being the other spy. He tells them that he’s not, but when pushed on it, some of his story about why he banks at such a fancy bank doesn’t make a ton of sense. They don’t get too far with it until Bokken decides to go through Parrag’s stuff and finds a key chain with four keys on it and comparing the keys to the copies that they had made from Addrus’s keys, there are similarities, like they might be for the same sort of location or the same location if that’s why Parrag and Addrus were going to the bank, for a spying reason. Parrag tells another unconvincing reason for going to the bank and it’s when Barrai offers a deal, where they will help keep his cover for him if he admits it that he eventually does. They do some things, like put a lock on their barrack door so that they all have to carry around a key chain, and still keep on acting like they are trying to figure out if Narius or Dorin are spies.
They, and Castillia, go and talk to Assendial and tell her how they figured out who Parrag was and how the small bet after going to the fancy bank first aroused their suspicions. Thrain also asks about the dragon attack and the items that they were shown. Assendial lets it slip, since she thinks they deserve to know a little bit and because they’ve promised Parrag a level of discretion that they can probably be discrete about this, that the scarab item was found underneath the barracks that were destroyed. It seems like whatever the enchantment was caused the dragon to be enraged and want to destroy it, so it attacked the barracks over and over again with acid until the acid ate down to where the scarab was and getting hit, it broke the enchantment on it. They ask for more information, but she sends them off to prepare for their final.
Behind the DM’s screen:
As always, I did limited planning, I basically had planned out the fight, and that was about it. I was curious to see what they would spend time on, and it was actually a really fun session.
With the bank, I knew once I gave Addrus keys that there was going to be something at the bank that the spies needed, most likely a drop or pick-up location for assignments and missions. I also made it so that it made sense for Narius, kid of a noble, to bank there, but it didn’t make sense for the other three, or so it seemed because they didn’t know much about Edzial, hence why I picked her. I tried not to make it too obvious that it was Parrag, and had been planned for it to be him from the beginning, but they did a good job of narrowing things down with their actions.
I also wanted to see what they’d do to prepare for tower test, and they did some fun things with that.
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When we left the group last Bokken was talking with Sanphire and learning how to use a throwing dagger. Thrain and Barrai are down in the tunnel getting ready to explore the area that they had found out about during the dragon attack when they here the sound of a dagger hitting the trapdoor, thrown by Bokken.
Thrain and Barrai spooked by the noise decided to book it towards the direction of the mess hall. There they run into a stone wall and Barrai thinks it’s a dead end but Thrain, with his dwarven eyes study it and see that there appears to be a single stone, large, that looks like it’s loose that he could push out of the way. It takes some effort and Barrai’s help but they push the door out of the way and they see that they are in the cellar where they were supposed to have gone for shelter during the dragon attack.
Bokken thinking that everything is good leaves Sanphire up in the tower after their dagger throwing competition and heads back into the mess hall through the kitchen. In the kitchen he is caught by Narius. But Narius, after having gotten beaten up by their group once decides not to fight him and just finishes drinking his water. Bokken settles down watching the door for the night.
Thrain and Barrai thinking that they are being smart decide to loop back around, sneaking outside to see whom they can see who was following them down the tunnel. They make it to a corner and they see Sanphire, out of the tower where he had been keeping watch, going to pick up the two daggers. One of the daggers is lying by the trapdoor which is propped ever so slightly open by a piton. Barrai, thinking quickly, decides to try and cast sleep on Sanphire. However, the spell doesn’t seem to have an affect on him, instead there is a thump from down inside the tunnel and Sanphire notices the trapdoor and the piton. He throws open the trapdoor and messages Tormin. Tormin sees the trapdoor and looks surprised by it. He wakes up the other teachers and they all come out. Barrai, watching the proceedings notices that neither the teachers Dadellous or Linken seem surprised or as surprised as they should be by the trapdoor. Or at least as surprised as Assendial and Tormin did. Barrai and Thrain sneak back inside.
Inside they go back to sleep and are awakened early in the morning by Assendial and Tormin who wake up all the students. Tormin tells them about the secret tunnel and that something was found underneath the barracks where the dragon had attacked and where Castillia had gotten her leg broken. They then tell the students that they are going to question them one by one and start on that process while Linken and Dadellous continue to study the tunnels.
Bokken is the first to go in to be questioned. He steps in and realizes that the room has had some spell cast on it, a zone of truth, and that he has to tell the truth, not Liar Liar style but he cannot right out lie. Assendial is sitting there and she asks him if he knew about the tunnel or any secret passage prior to Tormin telling them about it. He answers truthfully that he did. She asks him what entrance to it he knew of, he answers truthfully. She pulls out four items, a necklace, a scarab, an amulet, and rock with runes etched into it, she asks him if he knows which was found down in the tunnel underneath the barracks. He answers truthfully that he doesn’t.
Barrai is next, and he also fails his saving throw against the zone of truth. Realizing this he hems and haws a bit about it. Assendial asks him to clarify if he knew about it, and he hems and haws some more. She next asks him where an entrance is, he gives a vague answer but not a lie about how a place as old as this there are probably several entrances. Finally she asks him which of the items was under the barracks. He guesses that a dragon would probably want the items that have the most value and that the necklace, amulet and scarab are all golden. Or maybe it’s the rune covered rock because that’s different.
Parrag goes in next followed by Thrain. Thrain who has a very high charisma doesn’t fail the saving throw and he and Assendial know it. She asks him if he knows about the tunnel, he answers truthfully that he does. She asks him if he knows where they are or if he’s been down in there. He successfully deceives her that he knows less about the tunnels and where they go then he actually does. She pulls out the items and asks him about them, about their origins, which was found under ground, what he knows about their magical properties. Thrain is 100% truthful with her that he really doesn’t know much about them. She believes him.
Everyone else is sent back into a large group except for Narius, Addrus, Barrai and two second year students. They are all brought into one room together with all the teachers and are asked a couple of questions, the first that they had to write down was how many different directions the tunnel splits at it’s single junction point. Narius says outloud 4, but had written down 2. Addrus says 4 and has written down 4, Barrai says 4 and has written down 4, one second year has said 4 and written down 4, the last one has written down “?” and says 4. Next they are asked where the four directions of the tunnel go. The first 2nd year just writes down “I don’t know” and says “I don’t know”, the next one says “Moody’s Bar, the field, the cellar, and the tower” and has written that down. Barrai has written down “Not not the field, not not the cellar, not not somewhere fun, and not not somewhere awesome” and says that. Addrus gives the same answer the second year who knew all the directions. Narius, on the other hand, gives all the right answers but only had written down “the field, the food, and the drink”.
The two second years are let out of the room as is Barrai while Narius and Addrus are kept in the room to answer more questions.
The group decides to go to Moody’s bar, since they assume that the trapdoor and the hidden door into the cellar will be blocked off for good now, and they should try and find another way in. Moody’s Bar is the one where the fighting circle that Barrai and Thrain had made some money before, and they had seen Sanphire and Esmelda fight. Bokken decides to give them a good cover as they search around. Barrai and Thrain spot Zaphir, an older student from another school whom they’d swindled before in a fixed fight. They go up to him and see if he wants to bet with them on the Bokken fight. He recognizes them and knowing that they had taken his money before, he orders two beers, plus he has one in front of him. When the beers arrive, he takes one in each hand and smashes them into the faces of Barrai and Thrain. A bar fight ensues and Thrain unleashes an eldritch blast on him, plus hex damage and takes him down. The bartender kicks them out of the bar so that they don’t get in more trouble since technically Zaphir started it, and they head out just until Zaphir is gone. Then they sneak back in wearing fake moustaches (a Dwarf and a Tiefling) and join the crowds who are getting ready for the first fight. They get their program which has the betting odds and see they can get 5 for one on Bokken, slightly worse than normal first time fighters. So Thrain puts down two gold and Barrai puts down 10 gold, that he’d stolen off of Zaphir. And the announcer came out….
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the week night fights…. Let’s get ready to rumble………”
Behind the DM’s screen:
Most of this session was ad libbed. I had some plans for them down in the tunnels, but because of choices that were made, mainly Bokken heading back when he did and not picking up the daggers things changed. Had he picked up the daggers even, they could have gone through the cellar, come back around, and repeated the process. I’m assuming they would have been the ones to find the odd object in the tunnel under the barracks, instead of the teachers. And that was going to be my main plan, things clearly went differently.
One thing that was a lot of fun was the Zone of Truth just to see the different tacts and different successes for passing. I like how Zone of Truth works where you know as the person who is in it what is happening so you can talk around the truth, but the caster also knows if you pass or fail. It makes for some interesting moments in gaming.
And Zaphir being at the bar was totally something the players asked about. So the fact there was a bar fight is on them, Zaphir survived to fight another day.
We’ll have a few weeks off now from any more Tower of the Gods. I’m in the midst of moving and seeing as this is remote, I’m not sure when I’ll have my computer and full set-up ready to go again.
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When we left our adventurers they were just getting back to the mess hall after there had been a dragon attack. During the attack, Bokken had rescued Cordin and Castillia from their barracks which was being dissolved by the dragons acid breath, gotten Barrai off the battlefield, and Thrain had sneaked off and found a trapdoor near where Bokken had seen Addruss talking to someone in the shadows right before the attack.
Things pick up immediately with Assendial calling up everyone from the cellar. Dorin tries to sneak into that group, but Barrai spots him coming out of some bushes that he had been looking in last time and had been hiding in during the dragon attack. Barrai calls that to everyones attention and Dorin tries to convince everyone that he was trying to be helpful and out of the way, not just cowering in the corner, but Barrai calls him out on that.
Meanwhile, Addruss comes out of the basement where Bokken knew he hadn’t been before. They call out Addruss on that and he says that he had come in after that fact since he had been outside and with a second year student when the attack had occurred, he hadn’t realized he was supposed to go to the cellar until later. Barrai calls him out on that, but he says that Barrai was probably unconscious when he came in so he wouldn’t have known.
Assendial, having enough off all of this, sent the rest of the students to the mess hall. Parrag and Cordin help Castillia to the nurses station to get her leg treated. Once everyone else has left, she gets the truth from Dorin that he’d been looking for threatening messages in the bush like he’d found before and that he’d just gotten scared. Addruss says that he came in a side entrance which is why Barrai, Bokken, and Thrain wouldn’t have noticed him. Assendial doesn’t look fully convinced, but sends them all into the mess hall.
About half an hour later, Tormin comes in and informs the students that they are going to be sleeping in there for the next few nights just for their protection in case something comes to attack again. Barrai has a lot of questions about what they should and shouldn’t do if something attacks and what the biggest things to attack are from the tower and if they are as targeted as this one was. Tormin says that most attacks haven’t been targeted and that this was an adult dragon and he’s seen ancient dragons come out of the tower before, and if the players see any sort of dragon, to run to the cellar. Barrai asks a few more clarifying questions and they all decide to call it a night.
Once the lights are out, Barrai and Thrain sneak out through the kitchen and Bokken, after losing his plate armor exoskeleton sneaks poorly after them. They notice that there is something up in the watch tower on the campus that is glinting every thirty seconds and Barrai uses minor illusion to create an image of Addruss sneaking. The illusion is spotted and after a few seconds Tormin comes to the door and tells Addruss to get back inside and then mutters under his breath, which Bokken hears, that they wonder why they had recruited an idiot like Addruss. They decide not to sneak to the trapdoor that night.
So next morning, Bokken, to get sunlight to recharge, goes to the top of the tower and meets a flashy half-elf who is smoking a cigarette. They chat for a little bit and Bokken finds out that he is one of two adventurers hired by the school to keep watch just in case something else happens. They chat some about dueling and Bokken is able to get some lessons or sparring with the half-elf. He finds out from Barrai, later, that the half elf is likely Sanphire whom Barrain and Thrain had seen fight in the duels.
They go about their school day until they can get a hold of Parrag and have him join them in talking with Assendial. They tell her that they know that Addruss is one of the spies and that they had found that out from Tormin. Assendial is pissed off at Tormin for letting it slip, but generally keeps a pretty good poker face. Parrag, after the initial shock is pretty pleased that the group has brought him in on that for the credit. They ask him if he’s a spy and he tells them, unshockingly, that he is not.
Barrai interested when the watch shifts sees that there is a female dragonborn up in the tower and goes up to find out who it is. It is Esmelda from the duels whom he’s seen before. He has a brief conversation, and he gets the information that he needs for Bokken that Sanphire will be taking over the watch at midnight.
They wait until midnight and put together a plan where Bokken has grabbed some dried meats and beer during dinner and he’s going to take those out to Sanphire to chat more and learn some fighting skills. Meanwhile, Barrai and Thrain will sneak to the trapdoor and go and explore down there. The party decided to split themselves, not me. It works well, and Bokken goes out and is sent a message by Sanphire to hurry up to the watch tower before any of the teachers spot him. He goes up there and they start to talk about his past and about how he wants to learn skills with throwing knives. He shows off some good dexterity to Sanphire and he suggests that they throw at a target to practice their skills, the target happens to be the barely propped open trapdoor.
During this time, Thrain and Barrai sneak over to the trapdoor and get it open. Barrai stick a piton in to hold the trapdoor just barely open and they climb down the ladder in pitch dark. At the bottom Barrai lights a candle and they can see that there are three passages, one leading under the messhall, one leading away from the tower and one leading towards it. They start out heading down the one leading to the mess hall to see if they can find an easier access when there is a thud and an echo in the tunnel from something hitting the trapdoor.
Behind the DM’s Screen:
Life has been busy so I didn’t have much time to plan. This is a reason that I like to end my sessions on a cliffhanger or in the middle of a scene. It means that even if I don’t have the full session planned out that I can then have a few minutes as we wrap up what was previously going on.
Also, I think I rolled dice twice or maybe three times in the session, it wasn’t much. This was heavier role play and playing off of the role play from what happened in the previous session.
All role play sessions or heavier role play sessions are interesting because it gives the characters chances to interact more and develop what is going on and gives me a chance to see who they care to interact with and what they are thinking. Doing this allows you, as the DM, to figure out which characters they think are important and give them a bigger role in the story being told.
So what can you take away to add into your own game?
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