Sir Olivar has a problem…
His wife, the Lady Angela, has given birth on the night of a full moon. That means that the curse that has afflicted his small community of Maiden’s Vale comes to pass: the Lady in White, a mysterious ghostly figure, will appear in the hills outside the village and in three days his child will pass away with no hope of recovery. Sir Olivar has journeyed into the woods to find the Lady in White, only he hasn’t returned.
In the meantime, he cousin Maxim has seized control of the manor house with a small army of mercenaries and tossed out Angela and her baby. He figures that between his cousin’s likely death and the death of his son, he can claim the vassal state for himself.
But unbeknownst to him, Angela’s second cousin Franz is heading towards Maiden’s Vale escorting a nanny who will be serving the Lady Angela. With him is a small ground of ragtag sell-swords and occasional heroes. But one of them will find death at the hands of the Lady in White…
Sometimes, when the tables indicate the encounter is “Deadly,” it actually is. This gaming session featured an interesting mix of players, with one player bringing an old friend who was visiting from out of town and two newbies showing up to watch a Dungeons & Dragons game for the first time. It is really interesting to note that the two newbies had learned about D&D from listening to gaming podcasts and were curious about seeing how the game was played in person. In turn it was also likely the last game for several of the gaming group as they were getting ready to head off to college. So this was going to be a one-shot that would serve as both an introductory adventure and a send-off.
From the jump, the dice were terrible to everyone, especially the players. We would go round and around cycling through the initiative order and would be lucky if a couple of hit points would get shaved off from a casting of Vicious Mockery. When the dice did turn, it was rarely in favor of the players. The group was missing a tank, so relied on the semi-decent AC of the tortle monk and, unfortunately, the drow cleric. That was particularly bad because the group got hit by two hellhounds who hosed the PC’s with flame breath and took the cleric out completely. To make matters worse, this was by daughter’s character and her last game before college. Once the healer was out, the rest of the party barely made it through and narrowly missed a TPK. In the final battle all of the PC’s but one were taken out as the Lady in White and the guest player’s warlock were just duking it out with spells. So this little one-shot turned out to be weirdly tense and could have really sent the campaign off the rails.
The good news is that everyone, including my daughter, had a great time and while some of them won’t be coming back, the others were enthusiastic to play again.
This is a moment of a somewhat liminal nature for the campaign/gaming group. I am losing at least one player, and as many as four (three college students and one college professor). Three of those four were at the start of this particular gaming group. Now I have one of the originals (for every other session), one later addition, and perhaps three who may be joining at this juncture. That feels like an opportunity for a bit of a “reset” in terms of campaign style, while still maintaining continuity in terms of characters. For example I could introduce a megadungeon, or a large region to explore as a hexcrawl, rather than the one- or two-shot plot-driven adventures that I have been doing up to this point.
So some decisions to make, with no real wrong answer… Comments welcome!