I had a great group of new and old players last night, including three folks who had never played before. We linked up character data using DndBeyond, and we ran the session using video over Discord. Everything went really smoothly. But what about the adventure? What is The Obsidian Keep???
Play time: 4 hours
- Sinclair, the elf rogue
- Levira, the halfling rogue
- Lysander, the human warlock
- Ilefaen, the aasimar bard
- Sardos, the tortle barbarian
- Hultharn, the goliath paladin
We skipped character introductions (because I forgot to do them!) and jumped right into the story. The heroes stood on the deck of a ship, looking out at the wreckage in the harbor of Isla Requia. What happened to this mighty war fleet? And what happened to the evil Obsidian Keep on the island? Well, they had been hired to find out. They climbed down into their longboat and rowed off in search of treasure…and answers!
As they rowed out, Sardos the tortle decided to swim alongside the boat. This quickly attracted a pair of harbor sharks. But Sardos punched one in the nose and they both decided to look for easier prey. They then arrived at a capsized cutter with a hole sawed in its side. A woman named Rosetta in a sailor’s jacket sat in the hole, fishing. The team learned from Rosetta that the fleet was destroyed by a strange storm of red lightning. She was eager to be rescued and hopped into the boat. Levira poked around inside and discovered a heap of blades, included the enchanted Admiral’s Cutlass.
Heading north, they passed over a wreck sitting on the harbor floor 20 feet down. Skeleton sailors shuffled about inside the watery wreck, with hundreds of gold coins under their feet. The group was sorely tempted to try to get the gold, but decided to come back for it later.
A Tale of Two Rafts
Passing by a frenzy of sharks, wood, and blood, the team came up to a large raft with a cottage on it. Three little boys sat on the edge, fishing. Their mother and father approached, and explained that they were locals. A strange “Red Storm” destroyed the invading fleet, which was good, but a volcanic eruption destroyed their cottages on shore, which was bad. But they were happy enough on their new raft. Ilefaen and Lysander pressed the husband, Alfeo, for the treasure that he was “clearly” hiding in his fishing shack, but this produced no wealth, so they left. However, as they rowed away, the wife Velia gave them a toy boat and asked them to give it to her elderly father Oscar, if they ever found him.
Rowing past a pale floating shape, Sardos decided to poke a bloated body and got a face full of poisonous fumes for his trouble.
The next raft was just three rowboats lashed together. An old man called out to them, covered in burns and unable to speak. Ilefaen cleverly spoke to him telepathically, and discovered he was a local fisherman struck by lightning and in need of saving. Rosetta agreed to row him back to the ship on one of the tethered boats. The man repaid this kindness with an oilskin case full of letters from the Archbishop that he had found. Hultharn read with horror that there was a “conqueror worm” and “red priests” on the island.
Friars and Rogues
With the other two boats tied to the stern of their longboat, the group turned past the stone colossus on the cliff wall and approached a small black island. Two men in robes waved to them from a rickety shack. As soon as the boat touched the island, the two men jumped in and started arguing. Ivan, a Friar of Fate, and Matteo, a Friar of Fortune, quickly amused and annoyed everyone with their religious bickering, and they were sent to the back of the boats. Levira and Lysander inspected their shack, but found nothing of interest.
They then spotted a strange red glow from the cliff wall, and decided to have a rogue-throwing contest. Sardos hurled Levira into the narrow crevasse, and she spun deftly through the air to land easily on a thin rocky handhold. Then Hultharn threw Sinclair into the crevasse, who cartwheeled even more deftly through the air to land on a sliver of stone above the water. There, the two rogues recovered an enchanted lantern casting the red light. Lysander also tried to join them, slipped on Sardos’ shell, and plunged into the freezing waters.
Feeling pretty good, the group turned and headed for the beach. Along the way, they passed a giant turtle with a human face, which scared the crap out of Hultharn. But they reached dry land without any more misadventures.
Lysander and Ilefaen approached a clamdigger named Ivo, who offered them some information if they could get him a sail so he could leave the island. Lysander enchanted him instead and learned there was a secret eastern entrance to the Obsidian Keep, but they would need a soldier’s key.
Sardos then went up to a canvas tent and discovered a giant kettle crab attacking a woman and her baby. He promptly bit the crab in half, and then stomped it to death. Hultharn invited the woman to wait in the boats to be rowed out to the ship, and she readily agreed. After finding nothing in the tent, they tore it down and offered the canvas to Ivo to use as his sail.
Sardos then sauntered up the beach to inspect a large metal sphere embedded in the sand. He chose to inspect it by hitting it with his hammer, which detonated the munitions and sent him flying. And on fire. But still alive!
Tents and Trees
Skirting the smoking crater, they approached a gold silk tent and met Hamza, a researcher from their own city, looking for answers. He was studying the strange lightning-made glass, fulgurites, and he had concluded that the “Red Storm” was not natural. Sorcery! He also asked the heroes if they might bring him some red glass from across the stream of lava, and said he had been attacked by ruffians.
Sinclair and Ilefaen carefully (and luckily) jumped the lava without incident and inspected the red glass tree. It contained a black skeleton, which was screaming in agony. They learned this was Prince Orsino, who had evacuated some of the palace servants during the Red Storm. But he was killed by his mother’s sorcery. He begged them to shatter the tree and bury his bones to give him peace, in return for his enchanted circlet. Ilefaen shattered the tree and buried the bones, while Sinclair helped herself to the circlet.
Spotting another tent surrounded by spikes, they decided to investigate. Crossbow bolts flew over their heads and voices warned them away. Sinclair turned invisible and sneaked into the tent where two brigands failed to notice her stealing their silver. Ilefaen took a bolt to the thigh, and the pair skedaddled to safety.
Meanwhile, Levira and Hultharn went to investigate a black-and-red tent. Hultharn met the depressed one-eared fighter Ezio. Levira met the deranged masked lady Magdalena. This lady claimed that everything was fine, the palace was merely undergoing renovations, and the Duke and Duchess were certainly alive. Levira invited them to go wait in the boats, and they accepted. Magdalena looked forward to the pleasure cruise, while Ezio was just grateful for the escape. Levira then ransacked their tent for silverware and jade figurines.
Levira and Hultharn also checked out the cottages at the top of the bluffs, and found them all burned and buried in old lava. Regrouping near the lava stream, the team decided to head north to the Obsidian Keep, with some folks on each side of the lava.
And that’s where we ended!
This was a great session. Everyone had great energy and creativity and teamwork. The new players especially seemed to slide right into the groove and it felt seamless to me. I only had to make a few tweaks to my notes as we went along. The roleplay was a ton of fun, even though most of my harbor-people sounded like they were from Boston.
The group probably visited about two-thirds of the locations that I gave them, which covered a lot of ground, while still leaving a lot of people un-rescued, a lot of treasure un-discovered, and a lot of mysteries un-solved.
I think they treated some of the encounters a bit like a video game. They took things at face value, not asking characters for their names or inspecting their appearance or asking for information. But that’s cool, I will just try to be a bit more aggressive in pointing out details and hooks to get their attention. But even if they don’t unravel all the mysteries of the Obsidian Keep, we’re all having a great time!