Last weekend, the boys started their first adventure in the new campaign. I will note for the record that the boys are twelve and eight years old, so we're good for about an hour before Secondborn's attention span runs out. But, as it turns out, that's a fine length of play for a Sunday morning.
I began by reading them the introduction, then had them explain why their characters had decided to accept Lord Ardivil's offer.
Lithos, Firstborn's human paladin, signed up to gain experience and for the greater glory of his order. He's there to protect people and make sure things get done right.
Legacil, Secondborn's elvish druid, wants to explore this strange new place and see if there are any forgotten people still living there.
Nistril, my half-elf rogue, is looking to escape his life of crime, so the the opportunity to earn pay as a professional explorer intrigued him.
In addition to those three, the initial expedition includes Lord Ardivil himself, the expedition leader Victoria, and three drivers -- one for each wagon. Lord Ardivil is only a minor noble; he's actually better known as a scholar, but he has enough money and backing to put the expedition together. He plans to write fascinating historical monographs on his discoveries, and possibly found a museum. Victoria is trained as a fighter, but her primary job is to keep the caravan organized: make sure the wagons are properly loaded and in good repair, oversee the drivers, keep track of food and supplies, and generally handle the logistics.
The expedition follows the trade road towards the inland city of Dravish for the first two days, then takes a turn-off onto a clay road that heads back into the hills -- a route mostly used by loggers and the occasional hunter or trapper. They are camped for the night when a group of brigands appears and demands the horses and wagons.
The group of bad guys consist of three warriors (stats), plus a human wizard and a halfling sorcerer (both quick-generated here).
As the drivers try to take cover behind the wagons, the paladin stands up and charges forward, putting himself in front of everybody else. That takes care of the surprise round. We roll for initiative, and (not terribly surprising, end up with the following sequence: Nistril, Lithos, Evil Wizard, Legacil and his wolf, brigand warriors, and Evil Halfling Sorcerer. The half-elf rogue goes first, and darts away from the fire to disappear behind one of the wagons. The paladin finishes moving in and attacks, felling one of the warriors with a mighty blow. The Evil Wizard casts Magic Missile, and does some damage to the paladin. The druid promptly drops Entangle on the brigands, rather effectively holding them in place, while his wolf races up and rips out the throat of a second warrior. The remaining warrior tries to free himself from the grasses, vines, and branches wrapping around him, but fails. Finally, the halfling sorcerer decides against trying to cast a spell and throws Alchemist's Fire instead, singing the wolf.
The rogue comes around the side of the wagon, and throws a dart at the halfling sorcerer. It hits, but doesn't kill him. The wizard is too far back for the paladin to get to him, so he steps into the Entangle spell (and makes his save, so he can still move) and cuts down the remaining warrior instead. The wizard finds that he's already used up his best spell, so he casts Frost Ray at the paladin... which hurts a bit, but not enough to make the paladin do anything except look at him like, "Really, dude?" (The wizard, as a free action, responds with, "Uh oh.") The druid moves forward and readies his sling, but doesn't have a chance to attack. The halfling sorcerer decides that they're in real trouble and tries to cast a spell, but he's thoroughly entangled at this point and fails his concentration check.
The rogue throws another dart and finishes off the halfling sorcerer. The druid decides that it's time to dismiss his Entangle, and stops the effect. The wizard promptly throws his arms up and yells, "I surrender!"
"Bring him to me," commands Lord Ardivil.
So the characters promptly marches the wizard over the aristocrat. "This seems an odd place for brigands," he observes. "This isn't a trade route, and there aren't any towns nearby."
The wizard promptly explains that they were hired to stop the caravan, steal the wagons, and leave Lord Ardivil stranded. The rest of the group didn't matter; they could be killed or spared as the brigands preferred.
So who hired them? A tall, lean man, respectably dressed and wearing a mask. He had a particular way of moving his hands when he talked. He hadn't given a name.
Lord Ardivil nodded anyway. "Benthis," he said. "I'd bet money on it. He's a steward for Lord Hallorand. My friends, it seems we have a rival."
...And on that dramatic note we promptly stopped the game and sent everybody off to fidget elsewhere. Because there was definitely fidgeting going on at the DnD table.
Overall, though, I'm really pleased. Secondborn likes his character -- the druid was a really good choice for him -- and I think Firstborn will make a surprisingly good paladin. We have a basic plot and an opening event with the promise of more conflict, and as long as we keep the sessions short I think I can even keep up with running the game. Hooray!