After running a number of one-shots with the new D&D Next playtest, I wanted to see how the rules held up over the course of a proper campaign. With the release of advancement up to 10th level, coupled with reasonable xp progression, encounter building guidelines, and loot tables, the tools were all there to put a full-fledged campaign on the table. And so I dusted off an idea I'd been kicking around ever since I read this excellent story hour.
A Town Called Fortune
Twenty years ago, an adventurer named Brom discovered an elaborate dungeon complex carved into a mountain, filled with elaborate traps, fabulous treasure, and all the foul denizens who made the place their home. Brom made several forays into the dungeon, but ultimately fell prey to its peril. But not before others heard of the riches he'd pulled from that foul place.
A gold rush began. Adventurers of every stripe flocked to the dungeon, but they found that natural forces had blocked the cavern's entrance; a rushing underground river now flowed through the chamber that had been the entrance. One of the first true authorities to arrive was the Church of Tiamat herself; ever diligent in their pursuit of wealth, the Church seized control of the area and built a town. They called it Fortune, and the Exarch ruled over it. She commanded her magi to make open the way once a week by magically stopping the river, that adventurers could enter and seek their riches.
Now, the town of Fortune is abuzz with activity. Once every week, the forces of Tiamat hold Parade Day, where they march to the dungeon's entry with all the adventurers brave or foolish enough to enter. The whole town caters to the adventurers; the notary signs people up in advance for funerals (if you don't have one purchased, your body defaults to the Church of Tiamat after death for 'questioning'). The Mourning Girls offer their services, both to mourn at your funeral and as whores. Coffin shops are common, as are armories, weaponsmiths, and mercenary companies.
Those who have braved the dungeon and returned with noteworthy treasure are awarded an enchanted iron bracelet by the Church. Thus adventurers of great experience may wear a number of such bracelets, and command the respect of those in town. They may also draw the eyes of the noble Patrons, most of whom are masked, who may choose to sponsor adventurers on certain tasks. Furthermore, the higher-ups in the Church of Tiamat are always watchful for those who may become strong enough to become a threat. Better they die in the dungeon than cause problems later.
The Original Party
They numbered four, initially. Here is a quick rundown of the PCs:
Brolf, Male Human Fighter - Endurance Specialist, Thug Background - A big, dumb, extra-burly warrior. Did I mention dumb? Not very observant either. Typically rolled a d4 for listen checks.
Handmaiden Valanthe Siannodel, Female Elven Cleric of Pelor - Healer Specialty, Sage Background - A zealous cleric seeking to burn the scourge of undeath wherever she can find it. Also zealous in recording her findings on undeath in a big book.
Estoriel Trelayen, Female Elven Wizard (Academic) - Arcanist Specialty, Thug Background - An ambitious young scion of the Trelayen crime family (elven mafia who control a human town). She's seeking power and resources to take over the family business. By force.
Mink of the House of Mork and Mindy, Male Dwarven Monk - Endurance Specialist, Bounty Hunter Background - A monk. Not a lot of character to this one (as the name might suggest). He was mostly quiet.
The First Delve
The four PCs had all been hired on to guard a wagon with a huge cask of ale bound for the town of Fortune. Over the course of the two day trip to the town, they discovered they shared a common interest in seeing what the dungeon had to offer, so they decided they'd best join forces and venture down. There was a fair bit of drinking and partying once they arrived in Fortune, where they spent a couple days lingering in town.
After learning the fate of those who didn't have a funeral, all but Mink decided to put ten gold down with the notary so their remains wouldn't be disturbed by the Church of Tiamat. They also hired on a mercenary, an elven rogue named Palisa, who agreed to accompany them for thirty gold pieces. Prepared for their venture, they joined the procession on Parade Day, and made their way out to the dungeon.
They ventured inside, avoided several traps, then found their way down to the first level of the dungeon proper. They travelled south, and found the lair of the kobolds. In short order, Brolf fell into a thirty foot pit and nearly died. They climbed back out, Valanthe offered up some of Pelor's healing, and they carried on. They found an underground lake, with some fire beetles lurking on the shore. Though the beetles were not aggressive, Brolf was not to be denied the chance to smash things with his maul, so he attacked. Two of the beetles had the chance to sink their mandibles into poor Brolf, critting once and dealing eight damage in total. But Brolf and his friends prevailed, slaughtering the beetles.
Under the hood: The beetles totalled 40 xp, which is an easy encounter for the party. Only some dice luck on my part made it anywhere near threatening, and the outcome was never in doubt.
The warrior was patched up once again, and the party proceeded into the water. They began to swim when they heard something moving through the water towards them. Rapidly, they made an attempt to cut back to the beach, but only the wizard Estoriel and Mink managed to reach the shore! Palisa and Valanthe were near the shore, but Brolf was still well out and moving slowly, thanks to his heavy armor.
Under the hood: A pair of giant snakes are worth 200 xp, which is a challenging encounter for a group of five 1st level PCs. This was meant to be a challenging encounter.
One of the snakes attacked and coiled around Brolf, dealing a substantial amount of damage! The poor warrior's AC of 16 was doing nothing for him. The PCs struck back, but Mink's lack of any ranged weaponry and Estoriel's lack of a 0th level offensive spell were proving to be serious deficiencies. Valanthe managed to reach the shore, where she used lance of faith to great effect, but the second snake attacked Palisa and bit her in half and pulled her into the water.
Brolf managed to land the killing blow on his snake. Wounded, and desperate to get out of the water, he drew an opportunity attack from the second snake, who handily hit and dropped Brolf to -10 (not enough to kill him). Mink used his rope to lasso the warrior, but he couldn't pull him from the snake's clutches. The others managed to harm the snake, but not before it made another attack, this time lunging for the cleric, Valanthe! Her AC of 17 protected her, however, and the snake was slain.
Brolf was healed with a potion, and with Estoriel out of spells, it looked like it was time to rest.
End of Session One.