This game started a couple weeks back, and brought me back into 3.5. I got into D&D when 3.0 came out, played for 3.5, got into 4E and was heavily involved with the community, living forgotten realms, and the like for a number of years before the various playgroups I ran with dried up. I took part in the 5E/D&D Next beta runs, and I approve of where they've taken the franchise.
BUT, 3.5 will always be "My" D&D.
Still, prior to the start of this game, I hadn't touched 3.5 in close to four years, and couldn't really remember very much in detail, save that I really wanted to play a Spellthief. So I started putting one together, I researched character options, I min-maxed- but the various details only came back to memory slowly. So by the time I'd figured out the basics of my character, I'd already made a number of decisions that closed out things I wanted to do in the future. Whoops.
But not to worry, because those limitations have really driven me to work harder on developing this character.
Currently we've had two sessions so far, with another scheduled on Tuesday. I'll recount the first two here, and add an entry each week when we get a new one under our belt.
Getting to the grit, here's the character basics:
Character Name: Rel Feren (Lysanthar Dawnfire)
"Animal Companion": Christofferson V "AKA the Party Tank" [Adult Boar]
Race: Planetouched LA+0 Magic Blooded Celadrin (Elf)
Class: Spellthief 1
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
So right off the bat, you might be able to tell that I'm totally bullshit. The rest of the party has taken advantage of the PGtF Planetouched template so they're all playing 'Outsider descendants' with a couple exceptions. I'm also the only neutral-neutral alignment guy in the party. This will become important later.
The other players are as follows:
Name: Big John
Character: Planetouched LA+0 Zenythri Swordsage 1
Alignment: Neutral Good
Character: Wood Elf "Healbot Jesus" Favored Soul 1
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Character: Water-Orc Fighter 1
Alignment: Neutral Good
Character: Planetouched LA+0 Tiefling Focused Transmuter Wizard 1
Alignment: Chaotic Good
As a preface, our fighter hadn't joined the campaign yet at this point, which is the reason I have the boar. He cost 10gp, and has the highest killcount in the party- but that's getting ahead of myself.
We're playing in a modified Forgotten Realms AU, where the timeline isn't particularly locked down and there's an extra continent, which we're starting on naturally. The local setting is fairly small time. There's a moderately sized human kingdom that claims these territories, but inside one of their woods is an ancient hidden Elf kingdom, protected through ancient magics, Fey backroads, and the like.
My character is the former and currently disgraced Prince of that kingdom- five years ago, a thief seduced him and stole his coronation treasure (a Planar Touchstone Key) which he needed to ascend to the throne. He gathered his resources and set off after the thief, but only recently managed to find them- at which point he discovered the item had never actually left his homeland, and someone from the Kingdom had hired the thief to steal the item.
So right off the bat we have some pregame intrigue that will be part of Rel's long running character arc.
Anyways Rel Farren is the assumed name of the former heir apparent of the elvish kingdom, Lysanthar Dawnfire. In his absence, his adorable imouto has assumed the heir apparency, although she's too young and can't ascend without the coronation treasure. To manage the Kingdom, a small cabal of Nobles (no idea if they're the ones who had the item stolen) have installed a Regent.
Much like in the classical fashion, things have been going to shit. More oppressive laws have been enacted, trade has been stifled, there's secret police on the streets, and the opposition party is more of a resistance than an political ideology.
Which brings us to the start of Session 1, in which Lysanther, in disguise as Rel Farren, Adventurer Extraordinaire, returns to the shores of his homeland.
The character of Rel Farren changed considerably from how I originally envisioned him, due to DM limitations and requirements, and constant shitting on my concept. I wanted to be a foreigner from the Feywild, slumming it on the Prime Material while trying to hunt down his stolen macguffin, but the DM really wanted us all to be podunk locals. The result was I needed to be in disguise, although I actually had the name 'Rel Farren' first. Lysanther Dawnfire came as a result of needing to invent a royal family.
Anyways, as a player I do accents and improv and bluff pretty well. I have aspergers which is relevant insofar as I've made a study of social interaction and character over my lifetime to make up for my weaknesses, and as a result I'm pretty good at that kind of role. I almost never get to play that kind of character though, so this is actually the first time I'm getting into it.
Rel Farren became Rel Farren, Adventurer Extraordinaire. So basically he's Gilderoy Lockhart, from Harry Potter. He's a fancy, prancy, hack, who sells himself up with grand tales of adventures he's been on, and makes money by actually writing his own book series. He actually adventures, but most of the fighting can be laid at the feat of his loyal companion, Christofferson, a noble Fey Porcine (actually just a normal pig). Pigs are totally bullshit, as the DM discovered over the course of our first two sessions.
Rel's two previous 'adventures' he cites are as follows:
Rel Farren and the Goblins of Blackmist Swamp
In this story, Rel leads a small three man group of adventurers to clear out a local group of goblin raiders, rescuing a kidnapped daughter of a local priest, and returning with the treasure the goblins had made off of. He was last seen walking into the sunset astride Christofferson, having claimed only a small amount of payment for his services.
The purpose of this story is to establish Rel as a sort of selfless wanderer sort, who is adept at fighting and managing groups, but doesn't stay too long in any given place. It also teases about adventure and sets the tone for his position of "I know about this because I've seen it before." even when that's totally bullshit.
This adventure actually happened, albeit offscreen, but it mainly consisted of Christofferson the 4th (the precursor to the current one) massacring goblins left right and center.
Rel Farren vs the Balrog of Darkbad Heights
In this adventure, Rel is on his own, searching for the lost treasure of Darkbad Heights- a magic potion. Darkbad Heights is described as a vast underground kingdom formerly of Dwarven possession that is now inhabited by drow, humans, and devils. At one point during the story, Rel got into a fight with a Pit Fiend- or rather, a fight with a Pit Fiend was occuring, and Rel used the distraction to procure the treasure he was searching for. The story ends with him triggering a rube-goldberg series of improbable structural failures, resulting in a very large stone beam tipping off the top of a castle, spinning end over end and conking the Pit Fiend on the head, whereupon it and the beam fell down into the void.
This adventure is total bullshit. He was inspired to write it after seeing some kids of various races playing a game of goblins and guards, and saved one from falling out of a tree. It does provide some interesting information, as the one truthful bit of the whole story covers the death of Christofferson IV. In the story, the pig merely 'got sick' and was the reason he was searching for the magic potion. Meanwhile 'in reality', he butchered the pig (he has the relevant skills for this) after giving him a funeral, and sold the profits to fund the next stage of his expedition. Oh, and to buy and train a new pig.
Anyways, session 1 was the meet and greet. We all got together, had some early roughness, but got together and were contracted to clear out goblins while being criminally underpaid by an overworked guard captain. We caught him at his game, but weren't really in a position to say no or barter for more cash, mainly due to the party wizard, in character, flubbing it all.
So we traveled up the local mountain to an abandoned guard outpost, and killed all the goblins. The combat was just to get our feet wet, and basically entailed eight goblins or so. Christofferson killed four of them, I killed two, the Wizard hid in the back because he didn't want to 'waste any spells', and the swordsage killed the other two. Then our 'reinforcements' from the guard showed up, and that was the end of the day. The party really wanted to go back to town and rest and get paid. I figured we'd go back, get paid, and then go investigate the goblin caves.
lolno, the party decided we needed to do that tomorrow. So we came back, I, as the party face was given a perfect opportunity to skim off the payment and bullshit them about how we were getting screwed, but honestly I'm not here to screw the party- not this early, and not in such a way that can bite me in the ass so soon. I might be chaotic neutral, but I'm no an asshole. I play my alignment as actually reading "Complicated".
So everyone gets their cash, finds places to stay for the night, and session 1 ends.
In this session we got two encounters in. As a social character, I traveled around town looking for local quests, and found a town member talking about a farmer who'd recently had some...creature(s) breaking in and stealing his chickens. As a chicken farmer, this problem had gotten so bad that it was threatening his ability to keep the farm. Dutifully reporting back to the party, we talked and decided to head out and offer our services.
We did some investigating, before deciding to wait for night and ambush the enemies.
So there I was, sitting atop a Chicken coop. My Pig was also atop the Chicken Coop, mostly having involved a lot of rope and liberal use of taking twenty on climb checks. The rest of the party where scattered across the area.
Anyways, what do you know, but a bunch of goblins show up. Some of them are riding medium sized monstrous spiders. Almost immediately my play experience kicks in and I go "oh shit, spiders = poison damage" but I'm an archer, so I was mainly engaging from range. Christofferson charged and started beating on gobbos and spiders.
And then the shit starts. The swordsage runs into combat and starts fighting. Okay. The Favoured Soul runs off on her own and starts trying to whack goblins with her quarterstaff. Every five minutes, she asks us if the quarterstaff has Reach. Every five minutes we tell her it doesn't. That doesn't stop her from forgetting and asking again.
Anyways, at 1d6 damage and with strength as a dump stat, she is not hitting anything. Keeps getting clubbed in the head with a morningstar though.
This was the first session the Fighter joined us, so he was ready to charge in and slap down some goblins. But wait, the Wizard has decided to be useful! He casts enlarge person on the fighter, who charges in and massacres two goblins in two turns.
We're in between rows of chicken coops, where there is about five feet of width. There's NO WAY a size large creature is fitting in there and able to maneuver, so the guy gets stuck, strength checks rip apart like four of the coops giving him some room to maneuver. But the spell still lasts for like seven rounds.
I jump between rooftops, snipe a bit- an then realize that Healbot Jesus is flanked and gets knocked down to the negatives. Because the DM isn't pulling punches, the one goblin is going to coup de grace her.
The other flanker moved to fight the swordsage and got a sword in his face for his troubles. Christofferson also killed two goblins and moved to intercept one flanking the Fighter. The wizard decides that, oh hey, maybe I should cast Mage Armor on myself, after nearly getting a javalin in the face.
So consider this- we're basically in grid lines, I have direct line of sight to the favoured soul, but nobody else does. She gone die- and my character weighs his chances of getting out of this alive (piss easy) versus his need to stay hidden, cause if locals recognize him it gone be bad (main priority) versus not wanting party member who has been totally inoffensive and also ostensibly 'one of his subjects' to die.
So he uses his racial 1/day SLA of SCORCHING RAY to fire a bolt of blazing fire from his eyes. Ranged touch attack, hits, does 4d6 fire damage.
There's nothing left of the goblin but his boots- if he were wearing boots- so there's basically just a big pile of ash and corpse dust.
The fighter sees a flash of light, the wizard sees some sort of fireball, and Rel bluffs it as having no idea what that was, acing the check.
After all the goblins are dead, we gather our shit up, throw the spiders in a pile, and sleep for the night. In the morning we tell the farmer to burn the spiders, and he goes to get our reward. Oh also, two coops burnt down because the DM decided scorching ray does splash damage. You might be going "that's bullshit", but I assure you, he's going to regret it later when I start using it to light shit on fire.
Anyways, the farmer returns with a sack. A sack of money. I can practically hear the other members of the party's panties drop, because they're thinking that he's got a shitload of gold he's gonna dump on us. So they're all excited and happy, and I'm facepalming, on the inside. Because the way the DM is presenting this, I know exactly what this is: Namely, his entire savings. Hundred copper, fifty silver, thirty gold.
Oh and we destroyed like six Chicken Coops, even if we saved all his Chickens. As a player- and as a character, neither of these feel like a fair accounting, so after taking the money, my character gives the farmer back 10 gp to pay for the damages. The party bluffed (in my case it was more 'didn't talk') about the origin of the damages, so it was blamed on the goblins. But this was still a minor quest with no agreed upon payment.
So I give some of the money back. The Transmuter goes apeshit about it not better not be coming out of his share, and the swordsage is all frowny face, so in character I basically go "Man, fuck you guys, here's your damn money" and pay for it out of pocket from my previous earnings from session 1 (we got 20 gp, so I was down to 10).
Keeping in mind that they are all neutral to chaotic good. I am the only neutral-neutral character. And I'm the one being a decent guy? Whatever.
Anyways thanks to the pig and some DM fiat, we manage to track the goblins back to a human outpost they'd taken over, and spent a short combat killing some of the defenders, trying to figure out how to open the doors, before finally being told they were unlocked and why did we think the gates would be barred herpa derpa? I was already not in the best of moods, so this was just eh-
But fortunately, we ran out of time (bus schedules!) so we broke for the night and got XP. We're all a smidgeon from hitting level 2 (about 50 xp), so that'll happen next session, in which we deal with the rest of the goblins and then delve into the warren/dungeon for some actual loot and cool stuff.
Anyways I'm preparing for the alignment chat with my DM, who will probably give me the 'that was a pretty good aligned thing to do, do you want to switch to chaotic good?' speech. No, no I do not wish to switch to chaotic good. Because the truth is, sure, my character is a nice guy. I'm a nice guy. But that's just because I choose to be. Rel Farren is a cultivated identity that has none of the guile, cruelty, or hedonism of the Prince. Lysanthar, as the players might discover over the course of this campaign, is not going to be shy about being 'evil' when the situation calls for it. That ranges from leaving a trail of lovers and broken hearts across the seven seas, taking messy vengeance on those who he feels deserve it, and killing when it really isn't necessary.
But even with that darkness, he's still capable of incredibly selfless acts for those he cares about- including those he considers under his protection or duty of care, working to better their lives and give them bright futures.
Underneath it all, he is fundamentally broken, distorted. It's the reason he ran, left his kingdom after his treasure was stolen. And at some point, that's going to come out, and he's going to break. It won't be for quite a while, but I'm really looking forward to it.
See you all next session!