Over the holiday break, a couple of the kids talked me into running them through a session of D&D. They were watching Teen Titans Go! a while back, saw the episode with the D&D reference, one thing led to another…
If I’m going to actually run any flavor of D&D, it’ll be an old version; if for no other reason, just because those are the books I’ve got handy. I quickly scanned the character creation section of the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, and we were off!
Youngest kid was the more enthusiastic. He decided to roll up a magic-user, called “The Shadow”. He’s cursed, you see, so he looks like a human shadow, and nobody knows his real name or face. He’s 26 years old, and just venturing out into the world after his apprenticeship. Having spent all his money on a horse to carry his heavy spell book, he starts off without a coin in his pocket, but with a bundle of bread, cheese, and onions to sustain him on his travels.
The Shadow: 1st level magic-user; Align: Neutral; Str 9, Int 14, Wis 9, Dex 8, Con 12, Cha 6; AC 10; HP 4; Spells: read magic, charm person; Equipment: spell book, staff, riding horse with saddle, 1 week standard rations.
Next-to-youngest wasn’t interested until he heard about the super-cool cursed magic user who could enchant people into being friends. He rolled up a thief named “Styx”, a skinny 21 year old human just leaving his guild to seek his fortune. Playing to the strengths of the 1st-level thief, he’s a second-story man, with a good selection of climbing equipment.
Styx: 1st level thief; Align: Neutral; Str 4, Int 7, Wis 5, Dex 14, Con 13, Cha 10; AC 6; HP 5; Equipment: thieves’ tools, rope, 1 week standard rations, 3 daggers, leather armor, long cloak, large sack, 20 iron spikes, hammer, belt pouch, 6 torches.
(Strangely enough, back when I started playing D&D, at about the same age, I think “Shadow” and “Styx” were two of my first three characters’ names. Some things never change, I guess.)
Shadow and Styx left their homes in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos (oh, yeah, unashamedly Known World) to seek adventure and fortune in the frontier town of Threshold, riding double on Shadow’s horse. Towards the end of the day, they started looking for a good camping site for the night, one with fresh water for the horse.
As it happened, they came into sight of a small mountain lake near the road. An old, roofless ruin stood on the far side of the lake. Figuring that this looked like a good spot, they approached the ruin. They found a circle of stones for a fire outside the old walls. Someone long ago had driven a spike into a nearby boulder, and they tied the horse to the rusty iron ring.
While Shadow set about starting a fire, Styx went to investigate the ruins. There were two open doorways on the nearest wall, but he chose to scale the wall halfway in between, instead. Peeking over the wall, he discovered a trio of goblins, set to ambush anyone coming through the doors!
The goblins saw Styx, too. Their ambush spoiled, they shouted battle cries and rushed outside. As Shadow stepped around the camp fire, one ran towards him, brandishing an ax. Luckily, he had memorized charm person that morning, and so he made a new friend.
The nearer of the two other goblins came around underneath Styx, just in time for the thief to kill him with a thrown dagger. The second picked up his fallen comrade’s ax and approached more cautiously. The goblin threw an ax at Styx, even as the thief jumped off the wall in an attempt to stab him. Thanks to simultaneous initiative, they both succeeded, and both were brought to exactly 0 Hit Points!
As luck would have it, only one of the fallen warriors had friends standing. Despite lacking a shared language, Shadow and his new goblin buddy worked together to drag Styx over to the fire, where Shadow bandaged him up. Later, Shadow would catch some fish in the lake. He made stew, taking special care to be sure that Styx was well-fed, then sharing with the nameless goblin.
That night, their sleep was disturbed by wild, distant howls. Through sign language, the goblin managed to communicate that there was a scary monster, not to be trifled with.
The next day, while Styx rested, Shadow explored a bit. He found the goblin’s treasure chest, and even convinced the surviving goblin to let him take a peek. Three pearls! After some trickery and misdirection, he was eventually able to sneak back and pocket the gems without the goblin noticing.
That night, the howls came again.
The next day, with Styx back on his feet, the humans convinced the goblin that it was time to check out that scary monster. They went deeper into the ruins, eventually finding an old stairway leading down into a dungeon. At the foot of the stairs, they found an old stone coffin.
Thinking of the possibility of valuable grave goods, Shadow rushed ahead to open the coffin. Both he and the occupant, a ghoul, were surprised to see each other! While the others hurried to catch up, the ghoul nearly caught him with a paralyzing claw, but missed. Knowing that his only spell would be ineffective against the undead, the magic user desperately swung his staff, catching the ghoul on the temple, cracking its skull.
Searching the coffin turned up a pendant on a gold chain, and an extremely nice sword. They pocketed the jewelry and gave the sword to the goblin. Congratulating themselves on a profitable adventure, they turned back towards the road to Threshold!