My dwarf campaign finally got on its way, and what a great start it was! My players did their best to get into their characters, we managed to finish what I prepared for my players by the end of the session, what else can a DM ask for?
Here are the heroes of the campaign:
- Thorgar Redhammer, Cleric of Moradin’s Fire
- Tormodan Horren, Paladin of the Legion of Ancestors
- Bärin’Dour Irongrip, Apprentice Wizard of Groimdäll Icebeard
- Borin from the Clan of Clanging Cannons, Master Engineer
- Dimwar, Barbarian who is yet to get a name for himself
The story started in the small town of Millerstone, where a small group of dwarves lived after having to abandon their old home, the kingdom of Silver Vein a good fifty years ago. A comet crossed the sky about two months ago and many thought it was a sign to find a new home in the heart of a mountain again. The dwarves called the meteor Moradin’s Spark.
Bundragur, a veteran warrior and leader of the dwarves of Millerstone sent for the young dwarves and asked them to meet the Rockmawer brothers who went out a month ago in search of a legend. They should have come back or at least sent a message by now, and the old dwarf was getting worried about them. As Thorgar and Tormodan just came back from a pilgrimage, they weren’t really enhusiastic at first, but a few tankards of dwarven ale quickly raised their spirits. Borin received a gift from his father, a gunpowder horn, gauded with silver, bearing his name in runes. Bärin also got a little gift from his master, Groimdäll Icebeard, a wand of magic missiles with a few charges left in it.
The group set out the day after, but Thorgar was adamant on celebrating the morning prayer for Moradin at the shrine. His booming voice echoed throughout the town as he praised the Allfather, blessing the dwarves in his name. Then the company took off towards the town a Phandalin, taking the road to the northwest. On the second day, late in the afternoon they found a cart with two humans shot in the back and the mule also had arrows sticking out from its neck. Thorgar recognised immediately that the arrows were of kobold work, while Dimwar found a cape tossed aside on a hill, near the forest, bearing a dwarven brooch. Upon further tracking the party found tracks leading into the woods and after a few hours of tracking they found a cave enterance. Just as they were about to enter, a chunk of honey-comb fell in front of Tormodan’s feet from above and soon a bear charged from the trees. It wounded the paladin, but Borin felled the beast with a single shot of his boomstick.
Finally they entered the caverns and found some really neasty surprises inside, the crafty little beasts were prepared for the intruders very much. Dimwar “found” a pit trap first and twisted his ankle in the process, but from that point forward, the careful dwarves managed to disarm or avoid all further inconveniences, except for the moment when the kobolds threw two boxes of giant centipedes in front of them. Tormodan couldn’t stand insects in any way, so even after emerging victorius, he kept whacking at the carapaces. In a large hall they were bombarded with rocks by the inhabitants, a lucky shot almost crushed Thorgar’s skull, and after Borin shot down a winged kobold they fled towards a tunnel to the west. Bärin and his friends didn’t fall for the trick and didn’t pursue, but rather took the other tunnel to the east and what a good call it was! They not only managed to avoid fighting a pair of giant spiders, Khyz and Nax, but also found the youngest of the Rockmawer brothers, Nudrek.
After the party managed to get out of the tunnels they wisely decided to collapse the enterance with the help of Dimwar’s dinamites. The young barbarian watched the destruction with tears of joy in his eyes. Nudrek (or Noodle, as Borin called him from their childhood) told them, that they indeed found some clues to the enterance of the legendary Wave Echo Cave, and he was sent as an envoy by his brothers to ask for the help of some of his sturdy brethren. Borin assured him that they will do what they can to help him and his brothers and they pressed on to the troubled town of Phandalin…
The DM’s note: I took the time in the beginning to build the mood for the campaign, and just wrote a short, introductory adventure for the first session, linking it with the Starter Set’s adventure, the Lost Mine of Phandelver. I won’t be telling the exact same story, but Wave Echo Cave and Phandalin are solid foundations at least for the next few occasions, probably even more. I leave it up to my players where they take the campaign. I am not pushing the story towards combat or dungeon after dungeon, if the guys feel comfortable just playing their characters and offer many great opportunities to move things forward only by roleplaying, so be it, I’m trying to be prepared either way.
A thing I learned over the years is that you shouldn’t be disappointed if the players aren’t going in the direction you want them to, or if they don’t explore evereything you designed for them. In this session they purposely went the other direction, didn’t let the winged kobolds lure them to the spiders and hence they missed the only loot opportunity of the game, but they stayed alive. On level one, the loss of even 3-4 hit points can be a great deal to a character. They were already a bit winded from the traps and the bombardment they took from the nifty little kobolds, so they tried to avoid further complications and they made a good call!
Also, a final note: you could see that there were only two “real” battles during the session, against the bear and the centipedes. The bombardment was rather a cutscene than a real encounter, after one of their kin died the kobolds retreated, trying to leave the dirty work to the spiders. I tried to emphasize the craftiness of the kobolds, I wanted them to annoy the dwarves, who intruded into their domain, and I succeeded in doing so. Fortunately the players didn’t mind at all, and played along, grumbling at the cowardness and tactics of their foes.