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Thread: Italian Dragons of Autumn Twilight

  1. #1
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    Default Italian Dragons of Autumn Twilight

    Foreword

    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!

    Session Highlights

    • 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.

    Players

    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.

    Characters-Players

    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.

    Information set

    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.

    Journal


    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.

    The Inn

    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]

  2. #2
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    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to reading more.
    "It's not a game of Final Fantasy where you can step outside the plot for a bit and train up your stats, it's a potentially apocalyptic final chapter in an epic drama." - Brass Tiger Captain

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply and the interest Elder!

  4. #4
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    Default First Session, Second Part

    Escape from Solace

    The companions realize almost immediately that cutting the rope to descend from the Inn was not a brilliant idea since… people can still use the stairs. None is following them currently, so they spend some time deciding what to do. They eventually agree to exit Solace and go elsewhere, but with no hurry. The reasons is not to look suspicious by rushing out of the city. At a certain point, they meet a citizen of Solace coming towards them, not really caring. They re-set their decision and, to some extent… quarrel! Sturm, Raistlin, and Tika suggest keeping on the masquerade of walking quietly, while the remaining part of the party prefers running away. Since they do not come to an agreement… they split! Sturm, Raistlin, and Tika continue walking, while the others run away. This surprises to some extent the walking citizen; but he does not bother. However, the three “walkers” suddenly hear screams after them, and start running themselves. Fortunately, they can reach the other. The crowd is hunting them on the main road, so the companions decided to walk into the woods. None hazards to follow them at night. The cries fade away and the companions decide to camp in the woods. No guard turns? Lucky guys.

    First draconian encounter

    After a good night of sleep (and luckily for them with no random encounters), the companions decide to walk south. They have no clear idea of what to do or why doing it, only they know that it is better to stay away from Solace for a while, that Darken Wood is bad place, and that the staff does strange things. The random encounters draw the first draconian encounter. At daytime, the companions arrive at a glade, where ten monks in grey robes are praying with their backs to the companions. When the companions enter the clearing, one the monk stands and approaches them. He says, without showing his face, that they are clerics of Mishakal, and they are wandering around in search of the Blue Cristall Staff and of the Disks of Mishakal. The cleric also asks whether they have any information regarding these items. My players are quite suspicious of the monk, and Goldmoon does not reveal her staff. Raistlin says that they have nothing of what they are searching for, and salute the monks. The party then retreats in the wood. [I believe that most of the players here were sincere. Also those that were aware of the Autumn Twilight story did not remember the draconians clerics trick, and where just suspicious of these monks looking as well for their staff]. After a while, the draconians ambush the party and engage in battle.

    First draconian fight

    Here it was great that half of the companions (Goldmoon, Sturm, Tika) did not even know what draconians were, and they fought accordingly. The melee was harsh and quite long to run due to several unlucky dice -throws on the companions side (a statistically unbelievable number of 1 and 2/20). The group is not very well organized. Tanis is engaged by three draconians. Caramon and Raistlin fight together, as well as Flint and Tas (which are the worst fighters here, but also best at avoiding draconians slashes). Tika has no weapon, and she thus uses only her pan… which proves to be the best! With her 1d6 strokes she helps substantially Tanis, which is in serious troubles and kills some draconians by herself. Power to the kitchen! The pan has also the benefit that does not get blocked into the stone. By contrast, Sturm finds his weapon blocked into a draconian, and Riverwind (NPC) comes to help him before a draconian attacks. Realizing what happened to Sturm’s sword, Goldmoon (which does not know anything about RPGs and Dragonlance) is scared that her staff remains into the dead draconians bodies and retires from the fight. It worth mentioning also a peculiar choice of Raistlin (expert player), who at the beginning of the round announces to cast darkness, but when it is its turn of choice – getting that darkness would have affected also is mates – discards darkness (and thus loses the spell) and casts flame hands. Not without effort, the companions defeat the draconians, but at a cost. Most PC are seriously wounded (Caramon and Tanis have lost about half of their hit points, and the others are wounded as well).

    Then, my friends look into each other’s eyes, and say - so, what are we doing now? What’s our quest -, and Sturm answers – it is like in the real world, no one knows what to do and what is the final end. A good reward for the DM! But then it was about 1am in the real world, and we had to stop our first meeting.
    Last edited by Alizar; 07-25-2013 at 07:22 PM.

  5. #5
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    It's been a long time since I perused these boards; but it's nice to see someone playing the old modules using my favorite edition (AD&D 2nd Edition)....looking forward to the next session report!

    -Max

  6. #6
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    Thanks Max. It is as when I resumed skiing after ten years. My skiing suite was quite out of fashion (the entire one! not the split, fashionable), and also my skies where long, straight ones (not carvings). But I was still descending very fast, faster than the others! That has been the same with DL. How would the world be without 1d4?
    Last edited by Alizar; 10-01-2013 at 05:46 PM.

  7. #7
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    Very interesting! (I too am Italian, living in the UK since 2006.)
    Notice that AD&D 2e dragons are way too strong for the DL series. I'd suggest you either use the dragon's hit dice in the modules (expanding with the additional abilities of 2e dragons) or completely rework the age progressions of dragons. Otherwise you'll risk total party kills every time a dragon appears. When using the 1e rules instead, dragons are tough but can be killed by smart and resourceful players.
    It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. Never hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you [...] YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER.
    E. G. Gygax, Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Turambar! I sincerely did not notice the differences between the first and second edition, and I was thinking however to use the stats in the original modules. I am still puzzled regarding how dragon breath's damages. I was used to a 3-per-day breath with damage equal to the dragon hit points (but should the dragon be hurt, will the damage be reduced?). I now read somewhere that the damage is 1d8 per hit dice, and that breath is somehow unlimited.

    However, we are going to play the second session (yes! after more than a year, and some changes due to life changes in the group) in the next days.

    Cheers!

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