You might not be aware of this, but it is a tradition in the Grognard house that Junior Grognard runs a one-off session of his own on Boxing Day or as close as possible thereto. So it was this year; he had been working away on it for several days and was soon installed behind the DM’s screen with books, paperwork and dice – just like a real DM.
We (Mummy Grognard and I) rolled up two characters apiece – I got a cleric and a pretty good set of rolls for my second character (13/14/11/13/12/15) and decided this was a perfect F/Mu/Th, therefore half-elven and I plumped for a female character, partly because I’d played so few in years gone by and partly because JG had acquired a set of pre-painted WotC minis for Christmas and one of these was a cool sword-wielding female elf. MG found herself with a M/U and a thief; we set the levels at 2nd, diced up spells and hit points and got going.
Our party entered the tavern and were enjoying our drinks when we were told by a man who had come rushing in that it was blowing a blizzard outside; it had just started after we came in. The barman (unjustly putting two and two together to make five, perhaps) told us that finding the reason for this was down to us. So, we finished our pints and set off to find out what was going on.
We marched through the woods until we saw ahead a mound, the only thing around not covered by snow. I misheard JG and thought he said ‘man’ (possibly Dognard whining and howling in the living room might have made the word difficult to hear) and approached it; unfortunately, it started to spit bolts of fire at my half-elf and she was pretty soon down to minus hit points.
The rest of the party dragged her to safety, healed her and rather sensibly decided to avoid the mound if all it was going to do was attack us. A little while later, we came to a frozen lake. Suspecting that the ice was less than supportive, I declared that we would go around it, only to be told it was so big that we couldn’t do that. It turned out to be a frozen fjord rather than a lake, so we decided to try our luck on the ice. Luckily, we made some good rolls (the d20 of doom was on our side this time) and we managed to get across with no unpleasant consequences.
On the far side, a snowman stood, with a flask of warmth as a gift for us. This had six doses and each dose would enable the drinker to endure the wintry conditions for two hours. Each member of the party took a mouthful and we saved the remainder for later.
The blizzard showed no signs of stopping and we decided to camp in the woods. It was getting late but that was no deterrent for the gang of orcs that decided to pay us a visit. To make matters worse, when I asked which was the leader, so our M/U could cast Friends and try to influence him, it was revealed that the orcs were being led by an owlbear. Aieee!
My half-elf cast Spider Climb and shimmied up the nearest tree, unpacking an oil bomb and launching it at the owlbear. I thought an attack on the leader might deter the rest of the band from pressing home their assault. I hurled it, with a 19 and then chose the d30 to roll for damage. An 11 was not as good as I’d hoped for but better than might have been the case if I’d gone for standard damage.
Down on the ground, things were not going the party’s way; the cleric and the M/U were brought down and we were not making much of a dent on the opposition. Finally, after a dagger and bow attack from on high, the orcs withdrew, along with their owlbear leader and we licked our wounds, regained our strength and waited for morning (and Cure Lights).
Sunrise revealed the source of the blizzard – a huge mountain towards which we made our way. We had to cross plains of ice that had once been pastureland but any cattle that might have used them were probably now frozen beef. Far off, we spotted a large figure by a spire of rock and set off to find out if he was friend or foe. It turned out to be the former – a frost giant with his feet stuck in ice. We used our weapons and torches to free him and in return he told us that we needed to find Father Christmas who would give us something to help us get up the mountain, which, apparently, could not be climbed by conventional methods.
Find him we did, camped nearby with his reindeer. He had a golden crossbow with a silver bolt loaded in it, which we were advised to fire at the top of the mountain.
Before this, we had another obstacle to get around; a gang of monsters with white spiky fingers and noses. They were ice orcs and it was their job to stop us getting up the mountain. They were led by a larger creature who announced that he was Jack Frost. This cut little ice with us (hehe) and we piled into combat, shattering two of the ice orcs and discomfiting the others sufficiently that they retreated, uttering the standard threats of unspecified revenge.
We were now clear to fire the golden crossbow at the mountain. When we did this, the rope attached formed a cable up which we all climbed (having to make a STR roll to avoid losing our grip and falling – although the damage was minimal as my half-elf found out – a bit of a damage magnet, this one).
At the top of the mountain, we found Luck, the blizzard hound. The snow and icy wind was coming from his gaping jaws. He was howling because he had lost his coin in the ice maze. We calmed him and promised that we would find his coin.
We set off for the ice maze; at its entrance, we found two large statues – they appeared to be frozen creatures who we promised to try and help if we could. Inside the maze, we came across the figures of long-dead adventurers sealed inside the icy walls; a chilling reminder of the danger that the maze presented. We were soon confronted by a choice of passages. I turned left, but found a dead end. Right took us to a room where there was a magic sword hidden behind a stone wall. The central passage led to a t-junction – we took the right-hand passage first and found ourselves in a room where a set of stepping stones led across a pool of icy blue liquid to a pedestal. The thief managed to get across with some good DEX rolls and found that the pedestal contained a glowing coin. Yay, we thought – first time lucky.
Of course, it was nowhere near that simple – as the thief grasped the coin, it crumbled to dust in his hand. A decoy chamber to throw us off the scent. The thief retraced his steps to safety and we chose the left-hand passage which led us to another chamber. This time, we were fairly confident that the coin was the real deal but the thief managed to trigger a trap that did not harm him but caused a number of spikes to come out of the walls where the rest of the party was standing. We dodged out of the way, which was not hard since they didn’t move at Raiders of the Lost Ark speed but the thief was now stuck inside the room.
Fortunately, it was not long till the spikes retracted and the thief was able to escape with the coin. We left the ice maze, finding that the frozen figures at the entrance were now freed from their icy confinement. We climbed back up to where Luck the Blizzard Dog was waiting. We handed over the coin and in gratitude, he teleported us back to the tavern where we had started the adventure. Waiting for us were individual presents that were in fact wishes which we could use for anything we wanted.
It's a welcome change to be on the other side of the DM's screen and reminds me that I haven't played in many a year. Hopefully, someday one or more of my players will get a game of their own going and I might be able to run characters again. Until then, it's Team Adventure 2013 coming soon.