The rutted track emerges from a wooded hillside, and they party catches the first glimpse of Phandalin. The town, nestled in the lowlands in the Cusp of the Frontier, conists of forty to fifty simple log buildings, some of which are built on the old fieldstone foundations. More old ruins – crumbling stone walls covered in ivy and briars – surround the newer houses and shops, showing how this must have been a much larger town in centuries past. Most of the newer buildings are set on the sides of the cart track, which widens into a muddy main street as it climbs toward the hill at the east of town, where the remnants of an old manor watches down on the frontier town.
As they search the city of Barthen’s Provisions, bring the grave news that Gundred has been taken by a horde simply know as Cragmaw, they see children playing on the town green and townsfolk tending to chores or running errands at shops, all of them offering subtle glances only to look away when the party looks. Passing the a woodcutter’s shop and a weapons shop call the Blue Lion, the party is passed by a small pack of men, all of which we are wearing bright splashes of crimsons in the form of scarfs, cloaks, and kerchiefs wrapped around their neck. One of the members, a man with an eyepatch centered with a single ruby, offers a toothy grin as he eyes their cart of provisions. Taros bares a toothy grin to the mine, and flashes the blade of his axe, and quickly the one-eyed man looks away, grumbling something to himself.
“First Harbin hires those red fools and they run a muck in the city,” Barthen grumbled, “then those Cragmaws start prowling around, and now this… What else can go wrong?”
Giving the players a little tap of Expository dialog, but first an update from the DM.
Keeping a blog, keeping it maintained, working a job, and writing full time is getting… well, challenging. For those of you who have been coming back post after post, I apologize for not keeping the place regularly updated (ie, a post every three or four days), but I am making moves to change that. For my players who frequent this site, I also apologize for information not being updated (and ask for you to give me any and all notes to help me improve the experience for all of us).
One of the main reasons I started this blog was to not only catalog the campaign experience but to also give tips and tricks to any DM, young or old, who is looking to spice their games up, or are just looking to see how another DM does things. With that said, when it comes to posts about “sessions,” if nothing particularly challenge comes up, the post will be little more than a narrative with a small recap. Not all sessions will be cataloged in full detail, it just isn’t possible (because sometimes “they hit them and then got hit” over and over again just is only entertaining when you’re a part of it).
With that out of the way, here’s the challenge I faced with the second half of our first session
With Sildar gone (being killed off by Yeemick) it is now time to find another character to dump some exposition on the players, and who better to fill that roll than Barthen, who now has a Texan accent. Roleplaying is always fun, yet uncomfortable for me. It gives me a chance to actually play, but it also gives me the oppurtunity to stuff exposition into the players’ brains without muddying around, saying things like “so he tells you that this, then this, then that happened.” That kind of exposition is just noise to most players. Sure, a few might sit there and jot somethings down, but those are just notes, and notes can be forgotten.
Now I’m not a master at character voices, my own voice is bad enough, but I recommend trying a few out before you sit down at the table. If at all possible, try out a few and record them, listen to which ones you like and dislike, but save the really special ones for really special characters.
Aside from that, the rest of this session went off without a hitch. In following with the RedBrand threat to the city of Phandalin, I skipped the whole “here’s how your players can confront the RedBrand” portion in the Lost Mines of Phandelver module and just through them at the party. It was a quick and easy fight, but it got the point across – This city belongs to the RedBrand. What happened the following session… Now that’s when the world starts opening up a bit.
Check back next time for the recap of session two, where we introduce the drunken paladin and dig around in the politics of Phandalin. Until then, let’s kick this pig!