Tonight was Dungeons and Dragons night, and dang was it a good one! It was the first time I had this particular DM. My team consisted of a young woman I’d previously played with, and a family of four whom I’ve seen at the store many times but never had the opportunity to adventure with. Although I didn’t get as much chance to speak as I would have liked, the adventure was still thrilling, emotionally engaging, and delightfully challenging. The DM said at the outset that he was going to try killing a character, which raised the stakes!
My character for the night was Arric Stargrass, my poorly designed yet surprisingly sturdy wood elf bard. Arric was designed essentially to be my opposite, somewhat unintentionally. He is at level 4 and although he initially relied heavily on Vicious Mockery, over time he has become quite good at using longswords and daggers. His spell set consists largely of ranged spells that create damaging illusions in the minds of opponents, plus one fantastic spell that I’d not been able to use until tonight.
Our mission began aboard an elven airship floating a mile overhead. As the DM started things off, describing the ins and outs of the ship, I was enthralled by the descriptive scenery. In the past I’d dabbled with creating crew complements for Star Trek starships, I was curious to know how detailed he would get. It was fairly detailed, but what most interested me was the engine – it was actually conscious and sentient. The navigator would communicate with the engine and it would communicate with the navigator using a screen of symbols. I told the engine a joke and it responded by making a symbol glow brighter. I don’t know what emotion that conveyed. At one point he explained how the navigator would sometimes put her hand on a heart shaped spot on the engine’s interface during nasty weather or combat – a calming touch. I thought that was really adorable and sweet.
A pair of dueling storm giants created a nasty thunderstorm that turned into hail, which our airship had to fly through. I loved the descriptions of the rain and hail. In my mind’s eye I was able to really envision the sight and hear the sound of hail thunking off the wooden deck. Then we were attacked by what could only be described as an airborne kraken, which dropped Grell onto the ship. Grell look like brains with a beak and tentacles – similar to a Tentacruel but not quite. Arric nearly met his doom when I rolled a nat 1 and almost lost my longsword. Although I kept my grip I also ended up dangling precariously over the ship’s edge, a Grell badly bleeding and trying to drag me with it to the ground. A teammate helped finish it off and saved me from what would have been a deadly fall.
The ship arrived at its destination and we landed at the wreckage of the craft we were seeking, another elven aircraft. Arric went in with bad Intelligence (8 with a -1 modifier). A similarly bad Perception check left me basically useless to the investigation. Then we were attacked by mangled pirate-like humanoids flying on jetpacks. Yes, jetpacks! As soon as the combat began four of them swarmed together and I became giddy because the one spell I’d been unable to use for two months was now my perfect shot.
My turn came. I declared the spell I wanted to use, which flying pirate I wanted to possess, and had the DM make a Wisdom saving throw. The throw failed, and I was in control.
Crown of Madness is a brilliant spell. It’s represented by the possessed creature’s eyes glowing and a crown of thorns appearing on its head. So long as it doesn’t roll well enough to break free, every turn I get to make it do my bidding, as long as that ends with it attacking something. This pirate was part of a group of four all next to each other. I instructed the pirate to fire its pistol at the jetpack of the one next to it.
An explosion of gnome guts and shrapnel ensued, as the group of four was obliterated, and the area of damage caused a fifth one to fly off, out of control, to its demise. I laughed ecstatically and nefariously knowing I’d just wiped out 5 of the 7 attacking creatures in a single, brilliant move. I was actually physically hyped up about this, I had adrenaline going. I imagined Arric had his hands partially raised, in control of the pirate. Then when the possessed creature was obliterated he returned to his own self, jolted back a little by the senses of dying in the explosion, then laughed excitedly. My teammates dispatched the other two easily.
Our goal was to retrieve the engine of the downed ship, which was the sister to the one which brought us here, and also some of its valuable cargo. On the snowy cliff where the pirates appeared, a Mind Flayer crawled up. Tied to it was our cargo. It didn’t climb up very far though. Our cleric summed a strong wind that pushed the Flayer down, then the rest of the team cleverly coordinated their skills to save the cargo from falling. The Flayer teleported away, enabling us to get the cargo.
What we didn’t get, though, was the engine of the ship. Apparently the engines of these ships are conscious and can manifest a ghostlike form to talk to its crew? Well this one did, and explained it understood its sister craft was all but lost. We got back to the guild hall, but were left on a cliffhanger – there was a Mind Flayer in the cargo! What happened next? We don’t know, the mission ended there.
In all we had a good DM, a good team, and a creative, engaging mission. Definitely one of the better D&D sessions I’ve been in.