Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Ravenspire "Epilogue"

We play the game to see what happens. 

There's this phrase that gets tossed around a lot in sports: "on paper." On paper, Team A should demolish Team B. On paper, one team has better players/coaches than the other. On paper, this match-up looks to be pretty even. On paper, the Mariners are about an 82 win ball club. Etc.

"Paper" doesn't play the game. "Advanced analytics" and "stats" and "rankings" don't play the game. Perhaps they help set betting lines for sports books (Vegas is pretty good at making money off gamblers), but the games still need to be played. And sometimes teams defy expectations (good or bad)...sometimes in big ways. Sometimes a team like the M's (who I wrote off months ago when they were ten games under .500 and had five teams between them and the last wild card spot) goes on a 22-3 tear, reeling off 14 straight wins, and finds themselves in the driver's seat for a playoff berth heading into the All-Star break. Sometimes a great team like the Sounders lose their best striker (Raul Ruidiaz) and find themselves unable to generate any kind of offense at all without their key piece of the puzzle.

We play the game to see what happens. Because games are entertaining. Being surprised by that unknown is entertaining. My daughter's soccer team won the championship trophy for the gold division in her age bracket in last week's four-day tournament...the final (played Sunday) ended in a 0-0 tie and went down to penalty kicks. The final result was 1 goal made in PKs to 0, with our goalie having to save the final goal. The parents on the sideline were positively shaking by the end of the hands were numb and tingling, my brain light-headed. And I was just a spectator...the players themselves were elated.

We do not play D&D to "tell stories" least, I don't play (or run) D&D to tell stories. We play D&D to experience adventure. To have monumental successes and tragic failures. The stories are what get told after the fact about the experiences we have. We play to see what happens...and to be entertained and (hopefully) moved by fantastic events that would otherwise never occur in our lives. Fighting vampires? I hope not!

The PCs spent some time getting themselves organized: waiting for the paralyzed Sir Patrick to revive, stripping the bodies of Misha and Ireena of useful equipment (mainly magic items), getting Potter up on his feet. It took them about 40 minutes (4 turns) to get set to go, and their stout henchman was just shouldering Misha's bulging backpack of treasure when a friendly voice quietly called out to them from the darkness: Revlin the Ranger!

[Kieran isn't playing with us, but he asked that we take his character along on our adventures as an NPC. Revlin had been left behind in what was deemed to be a "safe" chamber after he'd been reduced to less than 0 hit points. Unfortunately, Strasha came along and drained him from level 3 to level 1, the shock (i.e. hit point loss) finishing him. Salamander's wishes had revived him and restored his hit points AND sanity (as a heal spell), though not his level, and I decided the NPC had spent the last couple hours wandering the dungeon level, tracking the party with his ranger abilities as best he could by torchlight. Just wrapping up loose ends]

After greetings, explanations, and assorted backslapping, Revlin took back his chainmail +1 and Potter donned Misha's chainmail +2 and the party was ready to vacate the premises...when Helga, Strasha's maidservant appeared.

[in the earlier fight, Helga had been the only half-vampire that had survived...well, to have not been reduced to gaseous form...and while her hit points HAD been reduced to 1, plenty of time had passed to allow her full regeneration]

Helga wanted to negotiate with the players: they had slain her mistress, but she would lead them out of the dungeon and allow them to leave the castle unharmed...with the treasure they acquired...if they ceased their ransacking of the castle. So long as they agreed to never return, she would agree not to take revenge upon the party, nor seek to hunt them. 

What about Strasha's crypt? they asked. Surely there are more "goodies" to be found in her actual lair. "This castle was my Lady's 'lair,' and you have already looted her treasury." 

What about the other vampires we fought...Strasha's 'husbands?' Will they honor our agreement? "I will take care of need not worry that they will trouble you."

What will become of you? "I will become the new Countess Clallam of Ravenspire. I am the only 'heir' remaining to Lady Strasha, after all." Will you promise to leave the townsfolk in peace? "I will rule them as I must. Their lives were not terrible under the reign of is YOU who have intruded here."

They took the deal. 

The party were shown the way out of the castle, found Sal's horse missing (probably taken by orcs servants who left the castle an hour before sundown) and made their way on foot back to Port Angeles proper. Weary, wounded, and over-burdened by treasure, they were within sight of the town when the wandering monster check came up a "1". They heard the howling of wolves: a pack of 10 worgs appeared from the woods some 50 yards away. Deciding to make a run for it, we used the standard evasion rules found in the DMG which gave them a coin flip's chance of reaching the safety of the town lights.

The dice again came up in their favor. The worgs turned away to hunt elsewhere and they beat at the door of the inn till Old Joe was roused from bed to open the door. He forced them to wait outside as he brandished a wooden cross at bedraggled bunch then, satisfied, allowed them shelter. "Hey, we already paid for rooms for a week, remember?" You can't be too careful around here.

Lots of other 'role-playing bits" occurred, but I'll skip that and get to the pertinent stuff:

Even before counting treasure, Potter managed to level up to three with the death of Strasha and surviving the fight with the ghouls/shadows (Diego said, "hey, what did she do to defeat the vampire?!" Well, she was responsible for dispelling most of the half-vamps earlier with the sunblade, she knocked out all of Strasha's mirror images in the first fight, took damage from ghouls that would have otherwise been coming to other party members... "Okay, okay.") Since her hit point roll (a whopping 10 on the d10 plus one point for her CON 15) took her from -9 to +2, I allowed her to return to full adventuring capability without waiting the week of rest.

[this is a particular "house rule" of mine that's been in effect for a while. The instructions on page 82 of the DMG states characters brought to 0 or lower are required to recover for a week, even if brought back to a positive hit point total by cure spells or healing potions, and I abide by that rule. However, it states specifically that a heal spell will allow return to full activity, which for me sets some precedent for a raise to allow my campaign, I give this benefit to characters that manage to level up]

[no, I no longer follow the training rules of AD&D. See my previous list. I have other things for PCs to spend money on]

Once I had a chance to calculate what all was in their backpacks, it turned out to be a pretty good haul (that bag of holding is a godsend). Monetary treasure that could be easily fenced, exchanged or retained came out to 22,804 x.p. worth (based on gold piece value). Monetary treasure that needs to be taken to a larger city than Port Angeles (rare books, really expensive pieces of jewelry) totaled another 15,150 x.p. Magical treasures that the party have used or decided to retain rather than sell (most items) brought in another 12,350 x.p. not including items like Ireena's broadsword +2 or Misha's chainmail +2 (these are items the surviving PCs wanted to keep, but which don't award experience).  With all that glorious experience being awarded, Salamander was able to go to level 6, and Potter and Carnen both to level 5. 

[NPCs Revlin and Patrick did not level, but they also earned lesser shares of treasure IN ADDITION to earning half x.p. as non-player characters]

Considering the amount of energy draining that occurred during their raid on Castle Ravenspire, this still meant each party member ended one level higher than when we started. Not a bad result, despite losing the cleric.

That still left a few unresolved items of treasure. The libram of ineffable evil, the crystal ball (with clairaudience) and the unidentified wand (of illumination) are all items the party has no ability to use...and yet, there are no buyers to be found in Port Angeles for these items, either. The village priest (who agreed to detect magic and heal the party's wounds in exchange for the silver icon of Ravenspire...which will be used to protect the church)...suggested they might find buyers for such items in the Dreaming CityPort Townsend. The sorcerous denizens of the elven citadel are known to truck with demons, practice black magic and pay exorbitant sums for such items...a book like the libram could probably fetch 40,000 gold pieces or more amongst such folk. The party immediately decided a new journey was in order.

[they also decided it was best to get out of town before the local orc community discovered who had butchered their brethren acting as guards and servants at the castle]

Diego asked: but what will be our next adventure, Pops? You don't think traveling through a forbidding wilderness to an elven city of sorcerers to sell a cursed magic tome for huge piles of cash isn't adventure? Oh, right. 

I informed the players that Port Townsend is four days journey overland to an isolated portion of the (Olympic) peninsula. OR they could purchase a small coastal sailing ship, outfit it, and sail there within a day. The latter would be pricey, but they could also purchase a load of timber, say 30 tons (at 100 g.p. per ton)'s well known that the elves will pay 2-4 times that amount for good cedar wood, rather than log it themselves.  In a town like Port Angeles, such arrangements can be made in a matter of days (or faster, if the PCs are willing to spend more from their bulging coffers). 

The players immediately jumped at the latter choice. "You better not wreck our ride this time!" Well, we'll see what the dice say.
; )

Perhaps now my gentle reader will understand why the word "Epilogue" in my post's title has quotation marks around's really NOT an epilogue, because my players haven't come to the end of their story. Not yet. In fact, they're still young adventurers, just starting to reach what I'd call "mid-level"...there is plenty left for them to do in their careers, even knowing that (as demi- and semi-humans) they will eventually hit a maximum level. They've had success, they've had set-backs, and they've certainly created stories worth telling people about their "adventures." But they're not playing the game for the story...they're playing the game for the experience. And so far they're enjoying it mightily.

Enjoy your day, folks.


  1. Well put, there isn't an epilogue because there's no end to the adventure

  2. I don't have anything insightful to say, but I wanted to let you know how enjoyable it has been to read these recaps of your campaign. I hope it's been at least as much fun to play as it has been to read!

    1. Hey, KG: I appreciate that. I'm having quite a lot of fun being a 1E DM again...maybe too much fun (sometimes it distracts me from my other tasks).

      Still, I wish I could devote MORE time and energy to my game. It's probably a good thing my wife ISN'T a gamer, or I'd quickly become a very one-sided personality!
      ; )

  3. I will likely reread this all when I get home from work tonight but one thing in particular struck me as intriguing...

    "We do not play D&D to "tell stories" least, I don't play (or run) D&D to tell stories. We play D&D to experience adventure."

    Why can't it be both? Perhaps it is a uniquely D&D viewpoint and as such one I am not privy to but I tend to tell stories AND experience adventure. Just because a game session or campaign has a plot of some sort doesn't mean we aren't playing to see what happens.

    RPGs have always been that way for me. Even when I played and ran D&D.

    1. Perhaps when you reread my post you’ll find an answer to your question

      Adam: have you ever written a story? Short fiction? Novel? All the authors I’ve ever heard (or read) talk about the writing process assert that an author must have a FIRM DESTINATION in mind when they sit down to write. They don’t always know how they’ll get to where they’re going, but they know where they want to end up.

      You cannot set out to “tell a story” when playing D&D (or any worthwhile RPG…in my opinion) because doing that presupposes the end result. It removes player autonomy; it puts an adventure on the proverbial “railroad.”

      I mean, you CAN do that…but I find it a shabby form of gaming and the derision that has been heaped on such games over the years is rightly deserved.

      I don’t know how else to make it clear, Adam. You can tell stories about what happened when playing, but creating stories isn’t the reason one plays D&D. Well, not “good” D&D anyway.

  4. Epilogue...only until the next adventure.
    Well I will not recommend I10 Ravenloft II: House on Gryphon Hill even though I had a blast with it. But looking forward to seeing how you follow this one up.

    1. Mm. I have read I10...I sincerely doubt I would ever run it. 'Nuff said.

      The adventurers are moving on to other pastures, but there will still be a Countess Clallam in Ravenspire...and Helga will not be as cavalier with adventurers as her predecessor was.
      ; )

  5. Kelvin said it first: this has been a great read following along, thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome, Jensan. Glad folks find it entertaining.

  6. “We play the game to see what happens.” I love it! A big part of “what happens” is the interaction between players through their characters and their interaction with the setting, which is a collective hallucination. As a 14-year-old DM, I didn’t grasp the concept. Any scenario I came up with seemed boring because I only saw what was “on paper”: the party will win, the party will lose, the party will run away… Eventually, I came around to “We make it up as we go along!” The game is more fun that way.