You know, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying my return to table-top roleplaying. It's sessions like the one last night that make me thank my proverbial lucky stars that I've made it back to the hobby.
This past Wednesday night found me slipping back into the GM's chair for the first session of my Altered Oerth campaign. What makes it "Altered"? Well, first of all, there's no guarantee that I will follow any of the "canonical" events of any of the Greyhawk materials published over the last few decades. I know, has anyone ever really used a published setting completely by the book? And is such a thing even possible? Probably not. My players aren't all that familiar with the setting at any rate, so they're not really coming into this with a lot of expectations.
Also, I'm not using the traditional Greyhawk pantheon. Instead, I'm using the "truncated" 4th Edition D&D pantheon. There were just way too many gods in the Greyhawk firmament for my tastes. The 4E pantheon has some of the key Oerth deities (Pelor, etc.) with a Forgotten Realms god here and there (Bane, for example), and some other gods that I'm pretty sure were made up for 4E (Zehir).
There are some firsts for me in this campaign. First, I've never GM'd a game where anyone played a gnome. And one of the players rolled up a gnome illusionist! I'm pretty much as anti-gnome as you can get, but I'm willing to put aside my dislike for this campaign!
I've also never run a game where someone was an assassin or a monk. Back in my teenage AD&D games all those years ago, no one ever really strayed too far from the core fighter/thief/cleric/magic-user (though there were a lot of paladins in my group as I recall).
So the characters (all starting at first level) consist of a half-orc barbarian, a human monk, a half-elf assassin, and the aforementioned gnome illusionist. As it stands, my players and I are pretty much in new character class territory here. Should be interesting.
Highlights from the session:
The first session starts the campaign early in the month of Readying in 591 Common Year (CY). So, it's very early spring and there's still snow on the ground. The place: the frontier city of Safeton on the Wild Coast. It's the last bastion of civilization before on encounters the goblinoid-controlled Empire of the Pomarj to the south.
The party members all meet each other for the first time in, of course, a tavern. This one is called the Loyal Dog. The monk has come to sell some fish she caught. The half-orc comes looking for work busting heads. The assassin uses the place as a safe house. And the gnome, well, he's out for a stroll to cause, well, mischief of course.
The gnome causes the ale in the mugs of four rowdy sailors to splash up into said sailors' faces. As they stand up to start a fight, the assassin rolls some marbles under their feet, causing one to fall on his arse. The group begins to think this is the beginning of a beautiful fellowship.
While in the Loyal Dog, a herald passes by outside, crying out about a recent rash of disappearances. There are rumors of holes being found in local Dock Quarter tenements, as if something has come up from below the earth to drag victims into the depths. There's also word of a madman who has been roaming the streets raving of strange ruins on the coast of the nearby Wooly Bay.
The PCs decide to start investigating the disappearances after a drunk laborer tells them he knows where they can find one of those infamous holes in the earth. He leads them to an abandoned house and takes his leave. Once inside, the characters disturb a nest of stirges (and what nasty little creatures they turned out to be!). After fighting off the stirges (but not before some of the PCs were drained of some precious blood) they group did indeed find a large hole in the floor of one room, at the bottom of which they could see an old section of defunct sewer. They decided to head to the Custom House of the Dock Quarter, to alert the harbor master of their discoveries.
The harbor master was less than impressed with their findings, however, and was even less than impressed with the appearance of the adventurers (being himself a well-dressed merchant). The gnome decided to charm the harbor master and was successful. The party proceeded to convince their new friend to hand over all manner of equipment. This however seemed to attract the unwanted attention of the Custom House guards as well as the functionaries who work for the harbor master. The group eventually decided to stop pressing their luck and left with their new gear, heading back to the dark hole to the old sewer system...
The session ended there. We only played for two hours, having taken up the first hour to look over the new characters and get everyone acclimated to the new setting. I'm looking forward to the unfolding adventures in the weeks ahead!