Game Session 4: No Murder Hobos Here!



Last weekend we had played, and I got to tell you, I really didn’t want to. It had been a hard week, we had a very expected death in the family and between family functions and my job, my life was pretty hard! I hadn’t even thought about D&D, not once! I had a major section on my map to figure out, and I wanted to add some more random encounters, but I didn’t do it. Come Saturday, my friends came over and expected a game, so I bucked up and after a while, I actually started to feel better. I started the game in a foul mood, mentally occupied, and unfocused. I figured that the game would suck, but at least I could say that I had tried.

It took a bit to get into the groove of things, I hadn’t even looked at my notes since last month, so I had to take some time to do that, but since we were all friends, the players have no problem with talking to each other while they wait for me to figure out what is going on.

As a group, we were in huge trouble! I had designed the mine with a wizard in mind, but our player who played the mage had quit, so it makes the game that more difficult. I was also down 2 players, and they had reached the working sections of the mine. Our wizard had quit months ago, so it wasn’t a surprise that they would have to solve some problems creatively, I had hid some potions of Water Breathing, but they didn’t find them. Thankfully the Cleric put two and two together and had access to the spell! The conditions of the mine are horrid, most of the corridors and shafts are filled with water, in order to have a chance to move around undetected, they had to stay hidden. Hundreds of thousands of orcs and slaves worked in this thing; it is the major base of operations for the orcish invasion. This mine is a fortress!

This game turned out to be very satisfying, we only had one combat encounter and the rest was being sneaky, taking some calculated risks, and a whole lot of problem solving! My notes that I had made supplied all of the information that I really needed to run the scenario. I had a few hiccups, I missed some details that I had to correct here and there, and I had miscalculated the attack range of one of my monsters, which accidently made the one combat encounter too easy, though I did adjust the amount of attacks to their full potential, giving each orc at least 2 attacks per round, and it worked fine.

What I would really like to talk about this session is Murder Hoboing, in a word, I hate it. It is an easy way out, and like many DM’s, I offer it as an option, but I reward you for not taking that route.  To be more specific, the thing that makes the mine desirable for the orcs, namely the water which allows work to be done faster and gives them the ability to move the arms to the war front quickly, is also a fatal flaw to the mine. The party had been able to talk to a dwarf who knew the history of the place. The mine was originally worked by his people; however tragedy struck when the miners accidently broke into a huge underground lake. The miners and the mine was dead for centuries until the Illithids discovered it, and through powerful magic, were able to partially stop up the hole, however now that the mindflayers are dead, all slain by the orcs, their magic is ignored, and this spot, deep in the mine, if broken, will destroy the mine and everything in it. If the party wished, or if they underestimated the power being held at bay by a simple rune of power, they could sacrifice themselves and the countless lives of the slaves to quickly destroy this place.

My players, like many, tend to travel with a wake of destruction and mayhem. It is fun to blow off some steam from time to time! But, as far as story goes, one can get a richer and more fulfilling experience from ignoring those tendencies.  This time they chose not to blow the mine to hell. They have plans to free the men, women, and children enslaved in this hellish place. They successfully broke into the mine and did intelligence. They found enough information to know exactly what was going on in the place, discovered a fatal weakness that can be exploited if they had to, and recognized this place as a heart of the orcish invasion which can be exploited, but not at the expense of the lives subjugated by it.

It was a very productive game! They got what they wanted, and they found a way to get out without being detected. Besides mining, an elevator system had been constructed by the orcs which led up to the surface where they harvested trees to build boxes to ship the materials out.  They were able to pose as members of the Black Network, who are currently allied with the orcs, that were there just doing inspections. They were able to fool the stupid orc in charge of the elevator, which was just enough to get them outside.

The dice gods cooperated with them too. They had no idea where they were once they escaped, and got turned around in the thick forests of the Thunderpeaks, and accidently discovered the highly fortified fortress that was the true opening to the mine. Fate had also allowed them to sneak into the mine by an opening that was not known to the orcs.

How are they going to free the slaves? I have no idea. Discovering that is what makes this particular scenario so much fun! I think that that is what makes a good game that is fun for everybody; the DM decides ahead of time exactly what the enemies had done in the past, what they are doing now, and if left unchecked, what they will do in the future, and then let the players have at it while everybody, including the DM tries to figure out what is going on and how to stop it.

For a game that I really didn’t feel like playing, we had a really great time! I did a lot of healing, just by participating; I got to really stretch my DMing muscles, jumping from style to style on the fly. Why do we play Dungeons & Dragons? I think that it is because the more that we give to it, the more that it gives back to us in return.

Thanks for reading!

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