Finally Off the Starting Line
Because all of my players liked the Yuthi desert so much, the game has started there, specifically in a small desert town named Lostant. The game started with the PCs arriving in Lostant around 7:30 pm, with gas tanks running low and the temperature dropping as it does in the desert.
Lostant is not a big community – it’s about 3500 people or so, and it’s basically just a wide spot on a highway that runs through the Yuthi. It has a number of small businesses, but most weren’t open by the time they got into town. They passed a small newspaper, an auto garage, and a few other places on their way into town and finally came to the one open gas station which was manned by a tired and bored young half-orc who was busy with some homework and only paid half attention to them as they filled their gas tanks, then moved on to the local diner to get a meal.
Their meal went smoothly enough right up until their server was headed to the table with their checks.
At that point, a man (quickly revealed to be the server’s fiance, a typesetter and printing tech for the local newspaper they’d passed on the way into town) stumbled in, wounded and bleeding profusely. The server, predictably, freaked out.
The PCs, being PCs, reacted almost instantly and implemented some quick healing magic. As they were treating him, they took note of the number of shallow, straight, and incredibly clean cuts on the poor guy, shouted for the cook to call the doctor (which he did, immediately) and headed out to the building the local newspaper to find out what had done so much damage to this guy.
Nasty Paper Cut
The PCs reached the newspaper without incident and immediately started scouting. Hala (Grant’s PC) spotted the owner of the newspaper through a window, barricaded in his office with a shotgun. He made eye contact with her and she indicated she was going around. The PCs entered the newspaper to find it completely ransacked. A quick conversation with the owner indicated that the office had been attacked by a group of dragonborn who trashed the place, hit the owner in the head and left him stunned on the floor, called up some kind of monster and left with the order of “kill everyone in this building.” He’d crawled to the office and shut himself in.
The PCs warily approached the printing press area and were immediately attacked by a mob of origami warriors and a paper drake. Both of those creature types were described as being made of (or being like) folded paper, so it seemed thematic. After a fight that was tougher than I’d intended it to be (two of the PCs went down, although thanks to the presence of multiple healers in the party, that only lasted about a round) the PCs prevailed, and the paper blades of the origami warriors did a good job of explaining the wounds Bradley (the print tech they treated and spoke to at the diner) had suffered.
I went with the paper monsters for the first encounter because I’m sick to death of rats, wolves, and goblins for the first encounter of a game (so was Grant, if you remember – in the first battle of his game we fought sahuagin and a reef shark) and the attack on the newspaper (hopefully) is a little more interesting and implies a more active world than skeletons in the tavern basement.
With a wounded Kristoff (the newspaper owner) in tow, the PCs returned to town and went to the office of the town doctor, Dr. Cassandra “Cassie” Larkin. Krissi’s character is a paladin, so she noticed something unusual on the wall of the office: a White Rose Sword, the badge of office and favored weapon of the Order of St. Argan. Dr. Larkin was a little vague about her past with the order, but she revealed that she’d left on good terms and simply considered herself to be more of a healer than a warrior. She also revealed herself to be a considerate person and a thoughtful one, helping the PCs out with a bit of extra medical care and updating them on Bradley’s condition (stable).
While the PCs were there, she also mentioned she was treating two of the three deputies of the local sheriff who had been mauled in a recent manticore attack. By that point, it was getting on close to midnight and the PCs retired to a local hotel she recommended. Thanks to a note she sent, they received a discount on their lodging, and all four PCs turned in to sleep off the fight of the previous day.
Though the session was successful overall, I will admit to having struggled with Roll20 a bit, as this was my first time using it from the GM side of the screen. Also, as the ranger is kind of a sniper build, I need to be cognizant of the battlespace and give him some opportunities to pull back and snipe things. I described his sniper rifle as having been almost defeningly loud in the close confines of the printing room.
The players did find a bunch of useful features in Roll20 that we haven’t been using in Grant’s game and put them to use, though, so that was definitely cool. Hopefully, next session will go a little smoother, logistically-speaking.
It does feel good to be back in the GM saddle as well. Everyone seemed to have fun and the PCs have become involved in the goings-on in Lostant, so I’m going to call this first session a success.