When my son requested that we start a new campaign, one where the characters can be played longer than for one adventure, and where they can level up and get stronger, I remembered my futile attempts to recruit players for a game of Original Dungeons and Dragons, using the Rules as laid out in “Delving Deeper“.
What follows is an Actual Play of the campaign about a wizard (actually two of them), an Elf, a Cleric and a Snowman, each with a sidekick, a faithful retainer, to bolster their numbers and make up for the relative deficit of raw combat power.
The sidekicks are managed by the respective players.
We use Delving Deeper by immersive ink.
The characters were built by rolling 3d6, 6 times. HP by rolling 1d6, starting money by rolling 3d6, multiplied by 10. Horses and winter clothing were provided by the GM for free.
Their sidekicks were built the same way.
Finally, in a slight deviation from Delving Deeper, every mage was granted free pick of three first level spells for the spell book, to choose from every morning.
Arkbald the Wizard, level 1, 6 HP, fluent in 8 languages and owner of an interesting Dungeon Map, originator and mastermind of the expedition.
Spells: Read Magic, Sleep, Gazeback.
His friend and retainer: Jay the bandit. 6 HP.
The Snowman. An actual snowman, built on the basic rules of a fighter level 1, 8 HP.
His creator and best friend: Andy the Berserk. 4 HP.
Evelyn Silverstone the Elf, quick of mind and hand, level 1, 5 HP.
Spells: Read Magic, Comprehend Languages, Protection from Evil.
Her best friend Bob the Elf. 3 HP.
Archibald Lysanderoth the Mage, Master of Deception. Level 1, 4 HP.
Spells: Charm Person, Gazeback, Protection from Evil.
His mounted bodyguard is a southernland nomad, a Surjan horsed archer called King Dragon, 3 HP.
The party is complete with Nameless the Cleric, level 1, 4 HP, and his Dervish Silent, 3 HP.
The adventure begins in the Northern Kingdom of Walden, where various Clans live under the rule of their tribal chiefs and kings. A High King is overlord in name only. The players are strangers to the land, adventurers from the southern, more civilized kingdom of Merc.
The party is in an Inn, on their way to leave the North Road and seek out the old ruins in this area.
Leader of the expedition is Arkbald the Magic User, who has found a map to an old underground complex where he hopes to find magical loot. He is a smart guy with INT 16 and speaks all kinds of languages, among them the language of the North. He is eager to level up, as he finds it unbecoming of a true mage to be limited to one spell per day.
His loyal sidekick is the former bandit Jay, the only Chaotic member of the troupe.
With Arkbald are Evelyn Silverstone the Elf Archer and her sidekick Bob the Elf Spearman,
As well as the Cleric Nameless with his sidekick Silent.
They meet up with the magic user Archibald Lysanderoth, Master of Deception, and his trusty sidekick, the southernland nomad “King Dragon”.
As they reach the Inn to spend the night, they meet a very strong fighter called “Snowman”, an actual living snowman, who was just created with a spell scroll cast by his young sidekick Andy.
They share the night with a group of huntsmen who keep to themselves and start out early. The now 10 strong party enjoys a good breakfast and follows in due time, going west into the snowy forest.
Suddenly they become aware of the sounds of fighting and close in to investigate. They see group of huntsmen surrounded by a mix of armored brigands and wild wood barbarians with spears, fighting for their lifes against a force more than twice as strong as they.
They decide to intervene. From the cover of some trees, Arkbald casts Sleep into the thickest gaggle of armored attackers, and manages to take out half of the attacking force and two of the defenders. Then the rest of the party wades in with bare blades and accurate shots.
King Dragon executes the last brigand with a well-placed shot to the throat and says: “King Dragon sends his regards!” Archibald Lysanderoth casts Charm Person on a random Barbarian, winning his trust. The snowman suffers a heavy wound and Bob the Elf a scratch, otherwise the huntsmen and their new allies make short work of the barbarians, who nevertheless win their morale rolls and fight to the last man.
After that, one of the huntsmen reveals his true identity: he is King Iorik the Quick of the Blue Hill Tribe – one of the lesser kings of the patchwork tribal lands in the area – and now feels indebted to his rescuers for saving his life and the life of his son, Prince Eggar. He would execute the sleeping attackers, but the party does not stand for that, and the King lets them have their wish: “You were those who overcame them, so their lifes are yours.”
The party searches and binds the captives, finds a good sum of money on them, and interrogates them. They admit that they were paid by a shady character in the same Inn where the party has stayed, albeit a day earlier. They know not why or for whom they worked, they just did it for the money.
Again the fate of the captives hangs in the balance. Most of the party would just leave them out in the wilderness, but the snowman argues passionately against such crass behaviour and demands that they must be handed over to legitimate authorities.
“But they actually LIVE in the wilderness…” Archibald Lysanderoth tries to argue, but the snowman remains unmoved: “It would be too cruel to leave them all alone out here.”
So the party leads 11 prisoners back to the North Road and has them locked up. Lysanderoth ends his spell on the random Barbarian.
The adventurers decide that the shady character must be found and brought to justice. They spend the night to rest and refuel their spells, then follow the hints gathered from Innkeep and stableboy north to the next Inn, where that stableboy informs them that the shady character is indeed here, in a room on the top floor.
The party storms in without further ado and forces open all doors to the rooms. Arkbald the mage is too feeble and throws himself against the door in vain, but everyone else – even weak Lysanderoth – manages to force open their doors. It is the snowman who happens to find the shady person and his retainer, surprising them completely. (Who expects a snowman bursting through the door?)
“I found em!” shouts the snowman “Here is the shady character and one friend of his!”
“Kill him, Jimmy,” says the shady character as he flees through the window.
But the snowman kills Jimmy. With one mighty stab he ends the man and warns everyone: “He climbs out through the window!”
Nameless the Cleric jumps through the window in the room he entered, but he falls into a thick pile of snow and struggles to free himself. Silent races down the stairs at top speed, like Lysanderoth. The shady guy runs to the stables, and King Dragon directs the others to find him from his vantage point up on another window.
Silent is the first to reach the man and tackle him, then others follow and they all pile on him to pin him to the ground. Archibald Lysanderoth ends the fisticuffs by casting Charm Person on the struggling foe.
So the man stops and confesses: His name is Kyrill, and he has been handsomely paid by the Queen Maeve of Shard Valley to attempt an assassination of the King and his son. He figured that this hunting trip would be the perfect opportunity, but he did not want to risk it himself, so he subcontracted that attack on six brigands, and they hired a gang of wilderlanders to back them up.
“Let’s get him to prison!” decides the snowman. But Archibald Lysanderoth, Master of Deception, fast-talks the others into letting him keep Kyrill the Killer as a new, second sidekick.
“So now to the ruins, as planned?” asks Jay.
“No..” says Arkbald the Wizard. “..Northwards.”
(The players found handling the dice rolls easy and were happy with the strong focus on only two types of dice – d20 and d6. There were fewer questions about the mechanics than in other systems. Having the retainers/sidekicks was a real boon, as only two of the main cast, namely the snowman and Nameless the Cleric, showed real combat aptitude. The sidekicks turned out to be a good fighting unit and got a lot of hits in. Plot-wise, the group not only never reached the dungeon, but now abandoned it as a goal altogether. I am curious as to what they will do in the north.)
(Funny 1: The snowman distraught about the cruelty of leaving the poor barbarians all alone in their native woods)
(Funny 2: The sidekicks Jay, Silent, and Bob)
(Funny 3: Archibald Lysanderoth, Master of Deception, and King Dragon)
Image: Jill Wellington, on Pexels