The adventures of a D&D 5e GM and her players, part 1

I figured I’d try something new. Something regular. Something that I can write about each week. But what could I write about every week? Well, I run a 5e D&D game in a 100% custom setting, so let’s give that a try. I will start by introducing the player characters:

  • Andarius Rhyn – A half-elven druid from a lost noble house.
  • Ownka Bronson – A half-orc bard, performer and seeker of knowledge. Identifies more with his human side.
  • Joey “Gruzark” Smith – A half-orc barbarian who grew up as a farm boy. Identifies more with his orc side.
  • Hank – A human ranger with a slightly naive outlook on the world

So, we’re jumping into things mid campaign. Well, not in the middle as we’re still in early days, but this certainly wasn’t the first session; therefore this may be a bit of a long post. The party are level 4, pushing on level 5.

So, what happened? Essentially there has been a lot of build up to this session in the previous ones. The party came across a town that was under attack by local wood elves, which was rather uncharacteristic of them as while wood elves were usually incredibly hostile to outsiders, they never really left their forests. The wood elves retreated as the PCs arrived and the mayor asked the PCs to help him take out the wood elf leader (who had a 500gp bounty on his head for his antics). Logically, what you would imagine people would do would be to help the mayor, end the aggression, claim the bounty and ride off into the sunset. However, these are PCs; normality doesn’t apply.

Afterwards, the town blacksmith ripped off the barbarian, as most of the town worshipped the god of commerce and he identified the barbarian as an easy mark. The mayor refused to help the PCs get their money back, as he was also a worshipper of the god of commerce. This made the PCs not like him that much and so they decided to investigate the wood elves. The elves did attack again, but after the PCs killed a few, the wood elves pulled back for reasons unknown. Joey tried chasing a druid who was trying to carry the some of the wood elf dead from the town. He was peppered by covering fire from nearby wood elves, but pulled the druid back behind a wall. She turned back into her humanoid form, casting a call lightning spell to take out Joey, but not before sustaining a nasty axe wound. Joey survived by making 3 death saves and stabilising (as he was down with no one around to help him).

Hank and Andarius went to investigate at the forest’s edge and Andarius was pulled in by some sort of compulsion effect, walking into the woods somewhat blindly. They were greeted by the same wood elf druid who had dropped Joey, appearing to be an important member of her tribe, and a brief parley was had. The elves asked the PCs to help them kill the mayor and accused him of corrupting their lands and summoning demons. This meeting was interrupted by an attack by a winged demon that almost killed Hank in the ensuing combat.

The PCs went back to town, rested and proceeded to do some further investigations in the morning, but were unable to find any concrete evidence. Ownka also managed to convince a cleric in town to at least see what happens and help the party. They met again with the wood elf druid and had another discussion which was rife with hostility, but Andarius somewhat managed to keep the peace between the two sides. They still offered to help the elves, as the elves assured that were they to corner the mayor he would reveal his true colours, but they only offered their aid in the event the mayor did show his true colours. The wood elf druid and the scout captain with the 500gp bounty on his head (who turned out to be a champion of the wood elven deity) infiltrated the town and met with the PCs to confront the mayor in the town hall.

As soon as they confronted him as he was doing stock of emergency supplies in the basement of the town hall, combat immediately started as the mayor recognised the wood elves and the wood elves immediately went on the offensive. It didn’t take long for the mayor to start summoning demons, summoning the same type flying demon that had attacked and almost killed Hank the first time around, though as he summoned it he called for help from the guards, accusing the PCs of being the ones to summon the demon. The PCs made quick work of the cultists present, but the tiger that had come out of the bag of tricks as well as Fiona, Hank’s wolf, was rendered unconscious by the flying demon’s otherworldly droning. The cleric that Ownka had convinced to help was immediately killed by the demon, but the demon was made short work of when the scout captain got a heavily damaging sneak attack critical hit. As the combat became more desperate for the mayor, he enacted his final gambit and summoned a far more powerful demon which immediately went for Andarius, as Andarius was casting spells that were problematic for the mayor’s second in command.

This second demon proved too much for the party to handle, afflicting Hank with a confusion spell that rendered him useless for a large part of the fight, as well as stunning Ownka, effectively rendering him incapacitated too. It took down Joey in melee combat after focusing its attacks against the barbarian who was recklessly attacking, and forced Andarius to fall back after losing his wild shape form. However, around this time it seemed that the mayor lost control over the demon and so it turned to escape the battle, anticipating it would eventually fall if it stayed. It brought Joey down and auto-critted with its last attack as Joey went down, causing two failed death saves. It then dropped the barbarian, used a fly spell and flew for the door, bringing Hank and Fiona down on its rampage out. Hank and Fiona both failed their first death saves as the wood elf druid healed Joey to get him back in the fight (after he passed his first death save, where a fail would’ve caused Joey’s death. The druid then brought Hank back up with a healing word as she dispatched guard reinforcements one by one with her quarterstaff under effect of shillelagh.

However, it finally happened. After failing her first death save, Fiona then got a 1 for her next death save, causing two extra fails and actually killing her off. Once the demon escaped, the party managed to kill off the mayor as the scout captain had constantly hounded him with Andarius getting the final hit with an ice knife spell.

As the mayor fell, the last guard went down to Joey’s non-lethal strike and the session ended. The PCs all reached level 5 and next session we pick up where we left off, with the party battered and bruised and in the middle of a potentially very hostile town.

Aftermath of mayor battle

The aftermath of the fight. Everyone is rather worse for wear, but that’s a lot of dead things!

But what happened to the demon that escaped? As it was summoned by other means it has not disappeared with the death of the summoner, so who knows what will happen next…


I really enjoyed GMing this session for my players. I had always planned in that the mayor was a demon summoning cultist who had managed to gain a position of power within a town and I’m hoping that this causes my players to realise that their enemies can be very sneaky without making them paranoid of every mayor they meet. I was also happy to finally start incorporating the general plot of the game into the narrative and start introducing it to the PCs, as this is their first encounter with demons in this campaign. There will be more encounters with demons to come, but now the PCs know that they are out there, especially as the strong one escaped the fight to terrorise people another day.

It was a long session, going from around 8pm to 3:30am for a grand total of about 7.5 hours, but it was worth it. None of us needed to go to work the next day (at least not in the morning) and I feel like everyone enjoyed it, despite this side quest being very dangerous and actually causing the first death in the party (Fiona, Hank’s animal companion).

Also, I appreciate this was a bit of a longer post, but I basically had to condense multiple sessions into this one to recap what had happened or “the PCs did some investigating, then attacked the mayor” would’ve seemed a little bit out of place. Next week will be a shorter post as I will only have to go over the one session!

A Family Shattered – Part 1

Anatheia lay staring at the ceiling in her accommodations in Dalaran. She had not been able to sleep for the past few days and that night was no different; the sun had long since gone down yet still Anatheia found herself lost in thought. It was regarding her little sister, Velurria. She had received word that her father had brought Velurria to the Broken Isles, despite having heard that the Legion had been defeated and driven back. There was one question she could not answer in a positive light: why? What good reason could their father have for bringing Velurria out to this place? No good could come from it.

Regardless, she was meant to meet her two older sisters, Laralla and Ilareth, and her aunt, Valendris, before heading after them. If her father had brought Velurria here in some twisted hopes of teaching her more about fel magic it was entirely possible that they had both become stronger than they already were. Were Anatheia to meet them alone, she would not last long if it turned to violence. Still, she couldn’t help but think about what might have happened to her beloved Velurria. She had run from the problem for too long and felt like this may be the last chance she would have to make amends for her part in Velurria’s fall to darkness. It constantly plagued her mind what might have happened if she had stayed rather than running to Orgrimmar to take on her duties as a diplomat.

This line of thinking was getting her nowhere. She got out of bed and walked to where her robes were hanging. She had chosen her blue and black robes, as she did not want to stand out as a Horde official while here on personal business by wearing her usual red ensemble. She slipped back into her robes, put her boots and gloves on and walked out the door to her room, down the stairs of the inn and out into the city streets. It was chilly and the cold nipped at her ears and fingertips. She was aware she likely looked awful, but she needed to get some fresh air and try to clear her mind. She stared into the sky and took a deep breath as she reached the end of the road. It was a peaceful night, though she could not shake the unease surrounding her reasons for being there.

“Can’t sleep?” came a voice from behind her. She saw Laralla standing in full plate armour, glaive strapped across her back. Anatheia’s eyes lit up as she saw her eldest sister and she rushed over to give her a hug.

“I’m so happy to see you, sis,” Anatheia said as she embraced Laralla, squeezing her tightly before realising she was being rather improper. She released Laralla from the hug and took a step back, clearing her throat. “I know we haven’t always-…”

Laralla held up a hand. “No need. I’m happy to see you too, sister,” Laralla responded, cutting Anatheia off mid-sentence. “Have you seen Valendris?”

Anatheia shook her head. “I haven’t seen her or Ilareth. You’re the first I’ve seen.”

Laralla nodded. “I made my way here with Ilareth, so she’s here too. Haven’t seen Valendris yet, which is a tad annoying as I want to ask what she knows of the situation.”

“I only have the basics and I’m trying to piece it together myself.”

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s up for interpretation. It’s bad.”

Anatheia nodded. “I thought so.”

“However, I will ask that you do not hate our father for what he has done. As you ran away you have not seen the full picture; this was all born of a frustration and a desire to raise a worthy successor for the Flameweaver name,” Laralla said, eyes locked with Anatheia’s, her tone taking a far more serious turn.

“Not sure I know what you mean. He’s always been cold to me,” Anatheia said with a shrug, looking to the side to avoid eye contact with her older sister.

“It’s best you know the truth and I won’t mince around it.” Laralla stepped forward, placing an armoured hand on Anatheia’s chin, gently turning her head to make eye contact once more. Once the two made eye contact once more, Laralla’s hand returned to her side. “Father is a bit of a tragic tale that I have pieced together over the years. Did you know he originally wanted a son to carry on the family name? He finally got one with our little brother, but alas he had no talent for magic and then proceeded to fall at the hands of the Scourge. You were his hope to carry on the Flameweaver name, but you ran away and threw aside your heritage because you did not agree with his teachings; teachings that he was only giving you to make you stronger and give you a solid foundation when you eventually did take over the family titles.”

“Where are you going with this?” Anatheia snapped, folding her arms tight to her chest and looking away again.

“You need to accept responsibility!” Laralla snapped back, a deep frown on her face. “Our father dipped more and more into fel magic after you left. He grew desperate and only had one more chance to train a worthy successor. He set his sights on Velurria who lacked the strength of will you had. She felt sorry for him and was slowly drawn into the darkness that has now consumed him and I fear that darkness will also consume her.”

“We’re done here,” Anatheia replied, hastily walking past Laralla, though she felt Laralla’s armoured gauntlet grab onto her arm. She turned, locking eyes with her older sister once more.

“You think you’re the only one with scars in this family? How do you think this entire situation has weighed upon me? Our father despises the idea of a simple paladin such as myself taking over the family name. When I brought it up after you left, the way he looked at me…” Laralla said, her tone quietening as she released her grip on Anatheia’s arm. “He cares more about the family legacy than his own daughter. How do you think I feel about that? How do you think I feel about living with that every day of my life and still carrying out his will?”

Anatheia stared at her sister for a moment before sighing, her own expression softening. “I’m sorry, Lara. I try not to give the situation thought, but every time something like this happens all the old wounds open right up.”

“All I ask is that you accept responsibility for your part in all of this. Whether we like it or not, we are all tied to this and we all need to do our part to stop it from escalating any further.”

“Well, I’m here aren’t I?” Anatheia answered before turning back and making her way back down the road.

“Rest well, little Ana. You’re going to need it for what we will likely face tomorrow,” Laralla muttered quietly as Anatheia walked away.