Picture of my old party, in quiet celebration of getting 100 followers.
I ran a D&D 3.5 game with four players between January 2010 and June 2012, from level 1 to 9 or 10 (I’m stingy with XP). One character death, one character retirement, three follower deaths and an awful lot of disfiguring injuries.
Three petty criminals and a prison guard meet in the jail of an isolated castle, Greywatch Rock. At first they are tasked with clearing vermin out of the basement and maintaining the security of the outpost, but with a vast Orc army descending from the Northern mountains, this rag-tag bunch of misfits will have to shape up and work together if they want to protect their newfound home…
Top Row, from left:
Stephen “Stevie” Niques, Human Fighter. Founding member, starting out as a jobsworth prison guard, and staying with the party to keep his wayward brother out of trouble. Enemies feared his mighty greatsword, but feared his unusual dancing more. His duties required that he leave the group when their activities took them far from the castle, but he was seen again at the final defense of his home.
Arthur “Biscuits” Niques, Half-Orc Bard and half-brother of Stevie. Notable for revolutionising the medieval music scene, brewing hallucinogens from centipede venom, and generally being a giant green Kieth Moon. Got his ass handed to him in nearly every fight he blundered into, but his luck finally ran out when he found himself blasted to smithereens by an enraged sorceress.
Elmin Stonefoot, Half-Orc Fighter / Monk, and cohort of Grace. This amiable bumpkin befriended Grace and Numbers early on, and followed them to carry their gear. He bravely headlocked drunken thugs and undead horrors alike, until he met an extremely messy end beneath a hill giant’s hammer.
Grace Tolstoy, Human Cleric of Kord / Barbarian. The de facto party leader, though she preferred to lead by charging at high speed into the greatest available danger and hoping the rest of the group would catch up. Given to mighty rages and equally mighty melancholies, Grace found something like friendship with her companions, and something like purpose when she claimed a cursed warhammer inhabited by a renegade Devil, the First Rebel. Following the hammer’s whispers, she led the party to crush tyranny and oppression to feed her weapons’s chaotic bloodlust. No foe could resist her-neither Giant, nor Devil, nor even the monstrous Orc King, Edric. This last came at the price of losing her lover, Yarrow Silverspear. Afterwards, Grace journeyed South alone, to drown her grief in blood.
Bottom Row, from left:
Leekie Squibbletuff, Goblin Rogue. Joining the group late in their adventure, this master spy and assassin was sent to monitor the party on behalf of her employer, a megalomanic Rejkar. Her skills at stealth and deception added a much-needed element of strategy to the party’s progress- to say nothing of the usefulness of her giant mechanical crossbow. Initially self-interested, she eventually warmed to her companions, and avoided a bittersweet ending to the campaign by failing to honour her contract to kill Grace in the last session.
Elwood Kohltiller, Human Archivist. The long suffering brain to Grace’s brawn, Elwood first joined the party as a guide, before staying in the hope of raising his profile enough to get his thesis published. Cursed with both common sense and a sound moral compass, he countered the group’s suicidal or homicidal urges with patience, lateral thinking and the application of vast magical power. His goal, on retiring from adventuring, is to drag the setting into the Russian Enlightenment by sheer force of will.
Numbers, A.K.A. “Shortstack”, Gnome Druid / Ranger. Outcast from the Gnome lands for her free-spirited ways, she wandered the forests on her trusty riding fox until she was landed in jail for ‘rescuing’ some chickens. Though she professed a gnomish love of good food, friendship and the quiet life, her spells and arrows were fearsome enough to deal with anything in her path, and long-ranged enough to keep her well out of harm’s way- she has the distinction of being the only player never to dip below 0 hit points. When the group broke up, she and Leekie remained to deal with the aftermath, protecting the scattered refugee camps from the defeated orcs.
Curio, A.K.A. “Numbers’ Stupid Dog”, Numbers’ giant fox companion. Bravely savaged every enemy he could get his teeth on, and miraculously survived being burned, scarred, and infested by demon leeches, perhaps due to his every-increasing ocean of hit points.
On the table:
Leekie’s bag of plump juicy caterpillars- her one vice, and greatest pleasure. It’s a Goblin thing, apparently.
Assorted Teeth- wolves, bears, werewolves…most of my players were initially very keen to get some kind of tangible ‘loot’ from anything they killed.
THE COMPELLING CUBE- an item of incredible plot-altering power, which the players promptly forgot about after picking it up.
Many severed goblin ears- While giving the players their first major quest (to clear some goblins out of an abandoned mine), I added offhand, “…and the commandant says he’ll pay a small bounty for proof of every goblin disposed of”. Predictably, the results involved many breaches of the Geneva convention’s rules on dealing with surrendered enemies. Players love loot…
Donna Elvira’s Belt of Flight- taken from the body of the sorceress who killed Biscuits. This item, combined with the Invisibility spell, makes the dungeon master bury his head in his hands and shuffle off to redesign all his encounters.
Doctor Libero’s Silver Needle- Filled with the dry blood of a highborn Vampire, this sinister surgical tool provided the vital clue to unmasking the conspiracy that the heart of the cursed city of Ravenna.
The Clockwork Mender- This happy little servitor was picked up casually in a wizard’s study, and found himself spending the rest of the adventure patiently organising the deepest depths of Numbers’ saddlebags. Oh, weep for the forgotten NPCs.