Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Tragedy of The Drunken Troll

 Alright, game 2 of the new Roll20 campaign "Trade and Turpitude," taking place in the last caravan season of the year in the Southern Shires of the kingdom. 

Everybody showed up. Good sign. Though I won't usually consider it a campaign until after game three. Law of averages dictate somebody will drop out by then, but everybody seems to be having a good time and are interacting with the material in the ways I like them too. I think I come up with some interesting ideas here and there, along with lots of trope stuff. Something like 40 years of GMing will give you that. And my old experiences with "out in the weeds" stuff in the deep past; Arduin and Judges Guild and such, lets me interject some more wacky elements, but mostly keeping it D&D. I look to more modern sources for ideas, random tables and such, but usually if I think the hell out of something various angles and hooks emerge that I think will be interesting to an encounter. Hey, there is plenty to brag about when you pluck most of the ideas you integrate into play out of your own head. 

Haha, really, a DM's ideas should come from all over the place. Anyway, I was sort of having trouble coming up with some things. The first few games of this campaign will be travelling around with a small caravan of high-end merchants from the big city up north. Besides some village and town encounters already in my head, I need to come up with some incidental encounters that can occur along the way. Things to fit in here and there along the way when I need some filler. 

I look at various random tables online, road and country encounters. Most of them aren't very filling. Things like "you meet an old man who is not what he seems," or "You see a coffin up against a tree with the lid closed. Do you investigate?" OK, these are meant to be filled in, but are hardly things you can't think up with nice creamy filling on your own. I wish these examples were a little deeper. 

But if I mull on it a bit (couple refreshing adult beverages never hurt) I usually hit on something. For this game it was "..hmmm, what if the caravan comes across a troll laying across the road, passed out from drinking barrels of powerful whiskey." 

We were still in the tavern with the party meeting the caravan master, having finished the previous games encounters there. But off to the caravan grounds to meet the merchants. 

A wine merchant, a weapon seller/trainer, a music teacher and instrument seller, a bookseller, and a clothier. It was night, but the wineseller still had a few local lords tasting some wine. The party immediately noticed a heavy set, traveler shoplifting a couple bottles of expensive cabernet. "Fat Mike the Traveler," a professional thief and con man. 

Size increased to show texture.

It was an amusing little encounter, and the long and short of it was the PC's got a few gold richer by getting the wine back and extorting Fat Mike for some coin. A typical "give you my wallet? No, give me YOUR wallet" situation. 

Next day when the caravan got on the road for a couple hours, it was second encounter time. This time it was the caravan coming around the corner on a country road and almost running into a bit old troll passed out drunk and blocking the way. 

Size NOT increased to show texture. Nobody
wants to get too close a look at this. 

Clearly it as a troll who stole a cart of big whiskey barrels and he was passed out snoring in the road. Even had a nice big puddle of whiskey puke next to him. Ew. 

Turning the caravan around in the smallish area to do it would have been time consuming and noisy. Plus at least one character didn't want it on his conscious to have a hungover troll around for others to bump into. But what to do? 

Slit his throat and roll him out of the way? No way, man. He's a troll. You can cut a trolls head off and it will still be active, the head still alive and controlling the body. Trolls are very coup de gras resistant. Get some fires going? Well, everything was wet from light rain. 

Everybody, character and players, knew that they were no match for the thing if it got up and started laying into them. As they moved around trying to figure it all out, the troll seemed to almost wake up a time or two. The shadow elf ranger was a monster hunter, and he just wanted to start chopping into it. But the cooler heads gathered, torches and lanterns fetched from the wagons, and lantern oil was spread over the blacked out beast.  

With the wetness, and me not going old school napalm with the oil (I have always said; oil is for keeping lanterns lit, not for going all Apocalypse Now like so many neckbeards from times bygone like it too). But with the troll waking up, they had to go on the attack with what they had. 

In 5th edition any fire damage will keep the regeneration from working for that round. That combined with the characters getting some licks in before it could even stand up (with some advantage) helped. I mean, they were scared. My number one new player "M" sounded a little annoyed that I was hitting them with such a strong creature. But I certainly gave it disadvantage that first round. It all helps out. Because one solid blow could kill a 1st level PC. I did explain that I am old school and that characters need to be over their head now and again. At any rate, after the fact she apologized for doubting me when the encounter was won (though it's not really over even though they think it is). 

But they did alright. I mean, this was kind of a puzzle encounter, where the trick was to attack while you had as much advantages as possible. They did alright with that, and its hit points were plummeting down. "Zip" the commoner fighter made the spectacular move. There was still a full barrel on the cart. He opened it, set it aflame (I had it be strong dwarvish stuff), and the cart became an instant fireball. He turned it around and ran it right into the suffering troll. Woosh! That roll went up like an old dry Xmas tree. It was pretty cool. That took it right down, and as we were going late we had to end right there. 

This "trade roads" portion of the campaign seems to be going well, and the theme feels like it will remain even after they are off the road. But what was going to be a couple of game portion of the campaign is probably going to be more like a 5 or 6 game portion before I get them to my version of Apple Lane and Gringles Pawnshop. It's going so well and there is great character development here. 

I don't plan to post about every session. Who needs that, right? And there are other aspects to the Roll20 experience I want to write about. I'm loving it, and in all honestly it may be my format for good. Player M said she is done with the face to face group experience, and I kind of feel the same way. I don't really like having people who are not close friends in my place, and I don't always like to schlep to another persons house, especially as you cannot really control the gaming environment in that. But online I have all the control. Its awesome. 

But however I do it, it feels great having a full group. My besties B and L, my boardgame buddies I talk about all the time here, are wanting in on some Roll20 as well, so my player pool is for sure deepening. I'm so glad I took another chance on getting a group going from that sketchy Roll20 forum area. I finally lucked out! 


No comments:

Post a Comment