This session was played in Italy by a group of seven friends including the DM. After many years, I re-read the Dragonlance novels, and still found them great. I decided to share them with my current best friends, whom I met after I stopped played RPGs. I also realized that Dragonlance modules exists. When I was playing in the eighties, in Italy they were not available (or maybe they were, but just in English, and that was not really an option for a primary school boy). With my former playing friends, we spent an amount of time trying to figure out how to fit the non-advanced D&D rules in the Dragonlance world, without success. When I found the original modules, it was ecstasy. For some reason, with little effort I was able to convince this group of friends to play a session. None of us currently read fantasy books, but this was a great experience. Somehow, given the current hard times in Italy, I like to think about it as in Boccaccio’s Decameron, where the young fellows live outside the city to escape the black death epidemic, and tell stories to each other to kill time. But the stories eventually were more than time killers.
I will publish first some notes about the playing, then the chronicle. I will also publish the chronicle of the first session in two parts. Expect some delay between sessions, because I live abroad and we play in Italy, so this happens only when I go back to my country and we have time to dedicate to it.
Any comment is warmly welcome!
• Tanis’ player comes unexpectedly to my house with a real bow and arrows.
• Tika, played by a non-role-game-experienced-non-Dragonlance-reader female player, tries to hit a drunk Hederick with the pan, because he menaces an old man (Fizban) at the Inn.
• The PCs start an internal division while escaping Solace when they meet an unaware citizen on the road (some decide to continue walking to pretend nothing has happened, others run away).
• First fight with the Draconians: Goldmoon (non-role-gaming-non-Dragonlance-reader female player) realizing that weapons get trapped into the stone corpses, stops fighting with the Blue Crystal Staff (fearing for it to get trapped). Tika (1st level thief, here) kills three Draconians with the pan!
• At the end of the first session non-Dragonlace-aware players still do not know their mission. Sturm’s player says “This is exactly as in real life. No one knows what the hell we should do”. Great satisfaction for the DM (me).
Rules: AD&D 2nd edition, light rules.
Short-run target: completing DL1-2.
Most players around their thirties. We are all Italians and we play in Italian, mixed by:
Gender: 3 females, 4 males including me, DM.
Role-playing experience: 3 males and 1 female had expert-role-playing experience with D&D. One male and the other two females had no experience at all with any kind of role-playing games.
Dragonlance novels’ knowledge: 1 female and two males (including me) have good knowledge of the Dragonlance story. One male has just read Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the other male and two females have no idea at all about Krynn and DL.
I used the stats provided in the DL1, first edition, module, with the exception of Tika, who starts here to be a PC since the beginning.
Tas: played by a female player, by her choice, with knowledge of both DL & RPGs.
Tanis: male player with no prior RPGs knowledge, but with fresh reading of Dragons of Autumn Twilight.
Sturm: male player with expert RPGs knowledge, but no Dragonlance knowledge.
Raistlin: male player with both expert RPGs and Dragonlance knowledge.
Goldmoon: female player with no RPGs and Dragonlance knowledge.
Tika: female player, multiclass, 1st level thief and fighter (after the first fight). Female player with no RPGs and Dragonlance knowledge.
NPCs: Caramon, Flint, Riverwind.
Everyone knows the prior stories in the character sheets.
Being Goldmoon a player with no prior RPG & DL experience, she is REALLY not aware of the possibility for her to cast clerical spells. She thus behaves as a fighter who cannot use spears. About the staff, she only knows it had teleported her and Riverwind once.
Tika starts as a barmaid and has no equipment, with the exception of the “striking” pan and her father’s ring. Only tip: before the game started, I had informed Tika of the emergency exit at the Inn of The Last Home, and that she was supposed to use it in case of troubles. In addition, she was endowed with a map of Solace and of the Inn of the Last Home.
Monster names and stats (HP, mainly) were hidden, excepted vague references to size (e.g., this draconian is bigger than the other, draconians are described and not called “draconians”, etc.).
Dungeon Master’s notes:
- All villains and NPG names, roles, and powers are not known to the characters unless they ask or it is in their background. For example: the players (with except to Tika) do not know that the man falling in the fire is Hederick and his Theocrat role, neither that the hobgoblin leader is Fewmaster Toede, nor that the old man is Fizban.
- I let the final target of the mission completely unknown unless the characters discover it (and they have not yet) themselves. This was a great choice, because it enhances the game with a great underlying tension. Xak-Tsaroth has not been even mentioned in this first session.
- Not all PCs entered the game in the beginning. Tika and Goldmoon appeared only at the Inn. While this device made the story more dramatic for the players starting since the beginning, eventually it was not great idea, because it took a while to defeat the first hobgoblins’ group, due to unfortunate throws of dices. So, I had the impression that the two non-playing players were somehow bored.
- Especially in the beginning, I had to address those player’s that exploited the a priori knowledge of DL (e.g. when Fewmaster Toede showed up, Tanis said “That’s Fewmaster Toede!”, and I had to tell the player he should not know that in advance).
- Having Caramon as NPC and Raistlin as PC works very well, because of the duality of the two characters.
On the road to Solace
Tanis, Flint, Sturm, Caramon, Raistlin, and Tas meet on the road to Solace. They are suddenly surrounded by a hobgoblin team and Fewmaster Toede asks for Raistlin’s staff. Raistlin walks to the forefront, together with Caramon and decides to hand the staff. Toede asks the adventurers to leave their weapons at their feet. Sturm obeys immediately, but the others are puzzled and not very keen to leave their weapons. This makes the hobgoblins and their leader nervous, till the situation is resolved by Tas, who says taunting “That's nonsense: this is not the staff you are looking for”, and the hobgoblins attack.
Toede participates clumsily to the fight, till most of the hobgoblins are defeated, and then runs with two hobgoblins when most of the minions are dead, and the companions let them go.
After realizing that it is not a good welcome back home, the companions mumble about the presence of hobgoblins in the neighborhood of Solace. Sturm suggests wearing the hobgoblin armors before entering Solace. Tanis objects that he would never put on such a stinky and blood stained armor. Flint adds that they are home and it makes little sense to dress like hobgoblins. They thus proceed towards the Inn of the Last home.
At the Inn the companions sit and meet the grown up Tika (a PC). In the next table Goldmoon and Riverwind sit (the other players, of course, do not know their names). The Inn is crowded and Fizban is telling stories to some children. Goldmoon sings the Song of Goldmoon, but the room is quite noisy, people do not pay attention and the words are not clearly audible. The companions can thus catch some words, but not the full story, which however raises Sturm’s interest. Sturm then approaches Goldmoon and Riverwind’s table and invites them to join the companions, but Riverwind (and Goldmoon, too, which is a PC!) coldly rejects any socialization attempt. Tas, bored by the situation goes to Fizban to listen the old Gods stories with the children. In the meanwhile, Tika delivers Kitiara’s letter to Tanis, which is not really happy of the content. Flint comments that it is understandable that, after a long trip, it was unexpected for Tanis not to score.
A drunk man approaches Fizban and starts yelling about his fake legends told to children (Hederick, but the companions do not know his name and his role). Hederick grabs the old man by the shoulders and starts to verbally menace him. Together with Kitiara’s letter, Tika has just delivered Otik’s potatoes to the companions, when she sees the scene and tries to hit Hederick with the frying pan. She is comically unsuccessful and the drunk Hederick leaves the old man and grabs and shakes Tika. Sturm runs to help the bargirl, attempting to knock down Hederick, which however avoids Sturm’s fist. To face Sturm, he leaves the hold on Tika, which is again free and strikes – now really effectively - Hederick, who trips over a stone and ends fully in the great fire, burning and badly screaming. The customers in the Inn stand up and crowd around the fire questioning how to take out Hederick. Tas, which is now the closest, grabs a feet and extracts Hederick, burnt to death.
The companions are astonished, while Goldmoon and Riverwind stand up in the crowd, but do nothing. Everyone is pressed from the rear people and Goldmoon looses the hold on her staff in one of the back pushes (failed dexterity check here!), which falls on the dying Hederick, which is healed. When Hederick is awaken, he curses Goldmoon as a witch and people around try to take hold of her, but Riverwind acts as a shield.
Raistlin, still in the corner, casts charme over the crowd. The spell is however not successful over the full group. The frontlines stop yelling at Goldmoon and Raistlin tells the crowd she is not a witch, while the back lines are still angry with the woman and start discussing with the frontlines. Sturm notices that two people suddenly leave the Inn, and tries to surf the crowd to reach them. The situation degenerates till Otik comes out of the kitchen and screams in a failed attempt to sedate the fight and save the Inn from the scuffle. [next post: escape from Solace and first encounter with draconians]