On Sunday 11th August, the Rift City Campaign, and my D&D group 'The Wandering Monster Table', had their second birthday. Technically, the second birthday of the Rift City campaign would not be until Tuesday 13th August, but 11th August was the 'the session on the second Sunday in August', and that's close enough as that was the day we inaugurated the group and began the campaign in August 2017. Calendar drift is not my fault! The campaign has been going for two years (and anyway, the 13th was yesterday so it's two years anyway)!
It feels like a decent time to reflect on what we've accomplished. We've had 25 sessions, which have included 30 days of playing-time (if my calculations are correct); we've had 18 players (and me) turn up to games in that time and 6 PC deaths; one of the PCs has reached 4th Level and several 3rd Level; they've explored around 100 rooms on Levels 1 & 2 of a dungeon that I've been building (slowly) that currently contains more than 1,200 rooms (I haven't checked lately, it may be more than 1,500). I suppose an average session has around 6 PCs, though the smallest number so far is 2, the largest I think 11. 22 of the 25 sessions have been in public places where anyone can join in, and that's the point (the other three sessions were held at Berg & Galan's house when we were temporarily homeless). Except one session when I was away, we've played on the second Sunday of the month in that time (I suggested that in order to keep the regular format, someone else could run a one-shot, but the players decided they'd rather I DMed so the session was moved by 1 week). That is a remarkable degree of consistency, I think
I have to mention the great staff at the Black Horse in Aylestone (Facebook page linked here). We've been going down there for the last few months, since our previous venue closed, and they've been very nice to us - making us little reserved signs with messages on saying things like 'Reserved for Elves, Goblins and Minotaurs' and 'Reserved for Questors for the Wand of Wonder' and similar messages. They really are very nice, and it turns out that one of the management used to play fantasy quest computer games back in the 1990s... which ones I don't actually know, but maybe Baldur's Gate? I have told her, she should book a Sunday night off and come and join us. We'll see.
A very different constellation of party-members this session. Of the people who were there last time...
Cnut's player is on holiday, so wasn't available.
Shazam's player was at a family wedding and also was not available.
Nelson's player however was there, the only one from last session.
Of the habitual attendees (obviously, there are a lot more people who've only attended one or two sessions)...
Galan is still suffering from a curse, and I think his player wants him fit before adventuring again.
Berg's player is also on holiday.
Marl's player was at a festival I think.
Karensa's player made!
Gibbet''s player made it!
Brigham's player made it!
Gwynthor's player... well, no-one really knows. He told us he was coming, but we didn't see him!
There was some discussion between Nelson, Gibbet, Brigham and Karensa as to whether they should venture down into the scary Level 2 or stick to the relative safety of Level 1; and as to whether they should hire some meatshields to help, but in the end they decided that it would be Level 2 with no hirelings - the most dangerous (but hopefully most lucrative) option.
The cave entrance they went for was the same as Session 23, the Level 2 entrance on the downhill side of the road. Entering they found it looked undisturbed from last time, but Karensa, remembering that last time they'd encountered a Gelatinous Cube, decided that a reasonable course of action was to shoot an arrow down the corridor and find out if it made a clattering noise or a kind of floopy plop. Happily, it was a clatter, so they crept on. As they ventured down the corridor however they realised that they'd been followed - a mountain lion had strayed inside, seemingly hunting them. They attacked it, and as it (insanely) charged them, arrows already sticking out of it, Nelson the Magic User used his Magic Missile to kill it - just before Karensa and Gibbet both shot it. Gibbet and Karensa retrieved their arrows. Nelson didn't retrieve his spell.
Not perhaps the most efficient use of a Magic Missile but Nelson really didn't want the first encounter of the evening to be up close with a rampaging mountain lion, and who can blame him? Never mind, he still had Web, as well as Read Languages... hoping that some scrolls might appear at some point. Poking around in the entrails, Gibbet found a coin-bag with some copper that the lion must have swallowed at some point.
Venturing on, the party came to wooden portcullis - 'slightly burnt' it said in my notes, as the last time they were here the PCs tried to set fire to it. It had been impossible to open, two days ago - now it opened with ease. On the far side, the PCs found a room, lit by torches stuck in sconces on the walls, that contained a semi-circular pool of water. Of course, what they did was throw the Mountain Lion carcass into the pool to see if there was any magical effect. Isn't that what you would do?
There were two other exits to the room, one opposite the door they'd entered and one to the right. They tried the door to the right and when they got it open, realised that there was a large hall-like room beyond the door. The far end was too far to make out, even with Infravision. Also, near the far end (I randomly determined how far away) there was a collection of gigantic ants. The PCs shot some arrows at them, then retreated to the door so they could control the frontage the ants could attack on. A couple more hits on the lead ant without it going down was starting to worry the players I could see. Gibbet was remembering the last time they'd encountered some, and how much carnage had ensued. This was in Session 21, and then Gibbet had had to beg a Healing Potion from Karensa because he'd sustained some heavy damage. Well, probably, this time he did too. Certainly there was some damage about. But, Nelson cast Web and the giant ants were stuck trying to get through the door.
This was the party's cue to run away (stopping only to definitely kill the one ant that had got through the doorway and grab one of the torches from the wall - Nelson was damn sure he wasn't wasting his own torches if people were giving them away for free), then start shooting arrows down corridors again, in case the Gelatinous Cube was lurking. Eventually, as they traversed a very long corridor, the Cube moved to attack; but they don't move very fast, so the party retreated up the corridor peppering it with arrows until it exploded.
Moving forward again (taking care to once more loot the gooey mess and this time pick up some gold) the PCs turned north, hoping I think to get into the rear of the ants' room. However, as they'd made a mistake with their map (they'd only drawn the corridor as 120', though I told them it was around 150') the corridor they went north up led them to a different room. This one had a sliding door on the east wall, which led to a room that contained some Shriekers, who of course freaked out at the light and noise. Shriekers don't harm adventurers, just summon things that do harm them, so butchering the giant mushrooms quickly became a priority. However, it wasn't fast enough to shut up the Shriekers' alarms, as shortly afterwards some shambling figures appeared in the room behind the party.
Zap! Karensa cast Sleep at them. Oof! the party said, as I told them it didn't seem to have any effect. Another spell wasted, as these were Ghouls. A short and vicious fight ensued, with no-one succumbing to Ghoul-touch, and the Ghouls were defeated, and quickly looted, whereup a nice haul of funerary jewellery was discovered. Also part of the treasure in the room was more coinage, and an axe leaning against a wall. In Basic D&D, Magic Users are only permitted to use daggers, and Clerics are not allowed to use edged weapons, so only Gibbet the Thief and Karensa the Elf could have taken the axe to use anyway; but Karensa already has a magic sword, so Gibbet took it.
Heading out again, the PCs realised that some more monsters were investigating the Shriekers' noise - this time some large flying insects coming down the corridor at them. The party disposed of them but several people were bitten. Again it was giant insects that ended up doing the damage, with the less-armoured Nelson and Gibbet getting the worst of it I think. I'm sure that, by the end of the session, everyone had taken damage but Brigham, and both Brigham and Karensa had used their healing magic (Cure Light Wounds and a Potion of Healing respectively, Brigham I think on Nelson and Karensa on herself).
So, somewhat depleted in resources, the party decided to head for home. As they passed the room where they'd fought the ants, they realised that the web, the ants and the lion had all gone, back they surmised into the room where the ants had been originally. Sneaking past they made a break for the exit - but between them and safety was a bunch of angry giant centipedes. However, they don't have many missile weapons, so the party again peppered them arrows from down the corridor. Five died; the other two, deciding they didn't like the hail of death much, retreated. The PCs ran the last bit I think and made it back into the clean air once more, to fight another day.
Heading for home, they would no doubt have noticed the beginning of the Lunar Eclipse that was a feature of the calendar I'd noticed recently (I generated the calendar some time ago from Donjon's Fantasy Calendar Generator). I'd told Galan's player that this was when the Elves at the Sanctuary would perform a Remove Curse spell for him, as eclipses were especially auspicious times for such magic.
Dividing up the loot the PCs found they'd come away with a decent haul - a couple of thousand in jewellery and platinum pieces and a couple of hundred in loose change, as well as a potentially magic hand-axe, which was OK between four. And nobody died!