After all the preparation we’ve done, what’s next? Well, actually running the thing… but wait, there’s more!
The thing about any good tabletop game is that it only ends when people stop playing it. And usually, that means the GM has to generate more content. You may notice that I didn’t put many details to the town, or the structure of the sewer… Actually, there are many, wide-open sections of the world that I just haven’t defined. Honestly, I do that for good reason.
Ultimately, you’re going to have to get out there and make stuff up. And depending on what happens in the first adventure, the entire tone of the adventure may be established, or at least affected. After playing one session, here are some things that happened—
The player (yes, I ran it for one player) turned out to be a female human paladin, who grew up in a monastic environment and learned to fight when some calamity befell her land.
I like to start off with somewhat collaborative GMing for the first adventure, because the players get more immersed in something they helped start and it allows them choice—they choose the tone of how they embark on the adventure, and at least where they start.
I asked the player why they came to the beach they just arrived at. We decided to hike in the woods while we started the campaign (yes, in real life) and had just hit the beach as well. As we walked along, she told me how her deity had sent her a vision, which took her here in pursuit of some great evil.
I was ecstatic.
I had told the player nothing of the adventure, and she practically handed me the intro to the campaign! I was already planning for her to somehow make it through a portal so that I could play out the scene where she meets Leonizar and the Lillithians, and I know that I had already set up Leonarraza to believe that the player(s) were destined for something great. Now her character has the ultimate personal tie to the story—divine mandate choosing her.
And the best part, the part that you can’t force as a GM, is that the player made that choice for themselves. You try to coax and guide things, but ultimately these sorts of games are, and will always be, a communal storytelling experience. And if you embrace that, with a good group, you can be amazed at the magic that happens between the lot of you.
So, the player was walking along the beach, searching for some unknown evil thing. In order to give them someone to interact with, I made up an NPC on the spot—Alden, a young Orphan boy under the care of the nuns. He was determined to follow her because he was curious, and despite her annoyance, she let him.
I slowly built up tension as the Paladin, Pamela (sometimes called Maple) walked along the beach, regularly detecting evil. Alden was sort of playing along, climbing on logs and such. Pamela detected evil behind them, and sensed a spiritual darkness all around them, so she ordered Alden to stay behind her, which he complied with (though not without being reminded a few times). Her and Alden made small talk, and he begged her not to tell the nuns when she caught him secretly picking up rocks for the slingshot he was hiding. The tension rose when Alden tried to skip rocks, oblivious to the danger, and loud, metallic ring played out as the rock struck the water. Soon they heard massive footsteps started rumbling behind them. Pamela had Alden hide, and then everything went quiet. Suddenly the black, shadowy monster was towering over a thirty-foot tall tree, and staring down at her with one terrifying red eye.
Alden booked it, and Pamela was soon to follow. They ran, finding no place to escape or hide, until she saw a small pathway up into the woods. (She found it in real life. When life hands you lemons, use them to make the adventure more awesome.).
In the midst of the forest, they thought they escaped until the monster headed them off through the trees. A force field surrounded them in roughly 50 foot radius, and the thing began gathering energy into its eye.
“Well, at least I’ll go to Heaven now. I think I’ve been a pretty good boy.” Alden said. Pamela swore not to let him go yet. She grabbed him and started heading up hill.
As luck (or providence?) would have it, they saw a portal. Though Pamela was hesitant, a strange humanoid with bluish skin burst from it, and yelled at them to stop waiting around—“…the Lillithian is going to destroy this entire forest!”
And so they met Leonizar, went through the portal, and found themselves on a ghostly ship, sailing through the Astral Sea of swirling energies in endless space. The swirling energies of the place was slowing dissipating their physical forms until Leonizar bound them to the boat so they would not disintegrate. Three Lillithians began approaching, and so he stepped off the boat, standing on nothing, and kicked them off toward a gate. He faced the Lillithians alone, wielding mystic knives even as they towered above him, collecting energy to fire at him.
They could not see the outcome, but as they went through the gate, a stray blast from the Lillithians split the boat in two, separating Alden and Pamela. Bound to the boat, Pamela could only yell and promise to find Alden as she was sent to one world and him… who knows?
She found herself in a wood, and after some time recovering from the tragedy, she tried to make sense of the foreign world. She eventually found a gnome, who guided her to a town.
This is another character I made up on the spot, so that the player would have someone to interact with. An important thing to remember is that NPCs are the GMs interface with the player, and so it’s important to have them so that the players have someone to roleplay with.
As the gnome basically called her nuts for her story about other worlds and giant one-eyed shadows, he also asked a lot of questions about her past, which really helped her establish her history more. That’s an important lesson I learned right then—if you want to help the player get into character, have NPCs (not you as GM) ask the character about themselves.).
When they arrived at the city of Jademeadow, Pamela decided to try and find signs of Leonizar or Alden, or some way home. The funny little gnome, who liked the name Leonizar and decided to change his name to that, disappeared to go “experiment on children,” which Pamela objected to despite his insistence that the experiments were “mostly harmless.” Before she could stop him, he was gone, and after exploring, she eventually sought shelter—and more importantly a good meal—at the Inn.
Seeing the perfect opportunity for an encounter, I had the Innkeeper offer her free room and board for as long as she was staying if she would stand guard against the skeletons. He explained that the guards weren’t doing anything about the dead walking the streets at night, and that no one knows where they came from. Janet (see Characters) called out that the guards “never do anything about anything.” Pamela agreed, and stood watch that night.
The skeletons eventually stalked to the tavern, accompanied by eerie fog. Even though there came in two waves of four, Pamela’s armor was strong enough they barely scratched her, and she took them all down. An easy encounter, but a very atmospheric and satisfying one. The shopkeeper came out that morning and thanked her for her service. Janet bumped into her on her way out, looked at the piles of bones, and gave a gruff “not bad,” on her way out.
That’s how the adventure went. If you have any questions, or want to know more about how I made the decisions I did, please post in the comments!
Next time, I’ll talk about preparing for the next session, with what I learned from this one.
The latest version of Legend of Luth is available for download here.
All images, writing, characters, artwork and related indicia are (c) Earl Isbell
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