Old School Dungeon Mastering

In January of this year, members of our high school Dungeons & Dragons Club gathered for a reunion game. We had such a great time that we’ve met every month since, which is impressive considering one of our members drives down from Chicago each time, never mind the press that adult lives have on each of us. But we’ve made it work and had a ball doing so.

Before each game session I generally write a little something to set the night’s tone. This coming Saturday we’ll be back at the dicing table and I thought you might like a glimpse into what we’ve got cooking. Enjoy.

The Griffonstead Port District,  more commonly known as Throatpunch Alley, stretches out from the walls of Ventakorum into the easternmost waters of Wyvern Bay. Its reputation as a wretched hive of scum and villainy is not lost on you as your party passes beneath the raised portcullis and into the bustling heart of this sordid marketplace. Haunted eyes watch you wearily as your band enters the throng of beggars and vendors. Rank odors merge with the smell of the sea casting an ominous pall on your progress.

Beware of cutpurses, gentlemen,” Thurston hisses. “We’re surrounded by the desperate and foolhardy.

Feeling at home, are we burglar?” Cassius laughs.

Takes a thief to know a thief,” Grammoline adds.

Cutting a wake thru the throng, your band spies Bald Hrolfsson, Wulfgar’s First Knarl on board The Vargdreki. In his company are a half dozen Northmen loaded down with lumber and supplies. They are flanked by four maidens, shields keeping the pressing horde at bay.

Hail and Well Again, Wulfgar,” the towering Northman calls. “Repairs to our longship are underway and we should be seaworthy within  four days.”

Four?” Wulfgar growls. “You have two. Work without sleep if need be. Our Jarl awaits his Princess Bride and I will not have him wait any longer than need be.

By your command,” Hrolfsson replies. “As to our saboteurs, we were approached by one who claims to know the culprits and has agreed to lead you to their master. I have crossed his palm with silver and he awaits you at the threshold of The Bucket of Blood.

Well done, Brave Bald. We will see to it. Return to The Vargdreki and see to her repair. Ride the men hard and the women harder. I long to taste the salt of the sea on my lips.

One more thing, Brother Wolf,” Hrolfsson adds, drawing close. “There is a darkness here. The people are fearful. There are rumours… of someone… some thing… preying on them in the night. We have heard the cries of the dying in the ink black of night, and the echo of this ravenous beast floating on the mist.

Wulfgar smiles, “The All-Father wove the skein of our lives a long time ago. Our fate is fixed. Fear profits a man nothing. We will deal with the ones who dishonored my ship, and if some beast comes upon us in the black, then we shall deal with it as well.”

” Let us get on with this quest,” Sir Gavin barks,” and let Tyr’s hand guide our time spent here. There is justice to be served.”

“Justice indeed”, Cassius adds.

You press on through the crowd until you spy a sign o’er head that reads Bucket of Blood. Below it, wrapped in thick furs and heavy cowl, waits a diminutive figure.

Well met, pink skins,” the goblin calls out. “My Captain has agreed to grant you an audience. But no trickses. No pointy stabby things. No wizarding ways. Hell to pay, otherwise methinks. True words?”

And thus ends my rambling preamble. Our game begins thus, before the opened door into the infamous Bucket of Blood. A doorman awaits,flashing a smile with few teeth to show, and those that do, chipped and blackened. The goblin tosses him a bent coin, platinum, and he opens a side door leading to a rising stair. It is now time to choose your marching order, single file.

Let the dice fall where they may.

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