Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Recap: Fantasy Cops Co.
D&D in a nutshell
So, as I mentioned last week, D&D Beyond just released their random character generator. As soon as I saw that, I knew I would have to run a game with all-randomly generated characters. Because, you know, science.

So I got all my players signed up for the site, prepped an adventure, and we met up to make characters. Though there was a learning curve to the site, it was definitely a quick build session. Normally character building takes a few hours when I run a "Session 0", but with randomization it took about 45 minutes.

The most complex part was assigning spells and equipment. Fortunately, the D&D Beyond team said they are planning to experiment with different ways to implement those parts of the sheet, so I'm confident that the time we spent figuring out how to add equipment will go down. There were a few other bugs, but nothing that got too much in the way of the session.

The most interesting part of the game was the stats. I've often read that having low stats is a good chance for roleplaying, but because we normally roll 4d6-drop-lowest, I've never really had a group with a low-stat character. Well, except for Rolen from my Storm King's Thunder game. He has a 4 Strength, but it doesn't really come up much now that he got himself a Bag of Holding.

As expected, my players weren't really satisfied with their character's stats. They pushed back, especially those who didn't have great combat stats. But I insisted they use their random characters, especially since I knew the game wouldn't be combat heavy. I told them this ahead of time (because otherwise I don't think they would've played at all), but even then they pushed back.

However, by the end of the game, everyone had a great time, and their stats really did help make the game better.

D&D Beyond Randomizer: Fantasy Cops Co.

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Megan: Abigail, human druid, fresh out of the forest and in love with the city's guard captain
Will: Mandel, dwarven bard, basically the Nickelback of bards, building his brand
Wade: Tystruma (Ty), dwarven barbarian, a really crappy fighter with great charisma who bluffs his way through life
Shannon: Violet, halfing fighter, a capable and intelligent warrior with the charisma of a frog
Makayla: Jazzmyn, human rogue, a fast-talking rogue who worships Olidammara, God of Revelry
Not our party, but about as effective
In the aftermath of the Cult of Kam's ritual to summon their demonic master, the grandiose city of Garton is rebuilding and recuperating. The Lieutenant of Garton, City Watch leader and former adventurer Floris is trying to keep the city safe. However, Ahneria is a dangerous and magical world, and in order to deal with larger threats, Floris has adopted the policy of hiring adventurers of all stripes to keep the city safe.

(Each of the PCs had to have a reason to want to keep Garton safe. Many of them, being sort of misfits, were here because the city allowed them to be who they were. Ty and Jazzmyn were interested in helping people, Mandel and Violet felt like they bleonged in the city, and Abigail simply wanted to do anything to make Floris happy.)

That morning, Floris lined up all the adventurers in front of the Dethklok (a former clocktower now serving as the City Watch's base of operations. Yes, the players picked the name) and told them he had two jobs available. One was to find and eliminate the Bird-Faced Bandits, who had been terrorizing local merchants. The other was to clean the rats out of Mrs. Frisby's basement.

The Bandit job went to a group of adventurers that seemed extremely capable and "optimized". Grigor the human fighter, Eberk the dwarf cleric, Althaea the elven wizard, and Lindal the halfling rogue accepted the work. Meanwhile, the party that remained was given the task of hunting rats. Not dire rats, not swarms of rats, just plain old rats.

Abigail wasn't fazed, since she would do anything for Floris. Jazzmyn and Mandel thought the job was crappy, but at least they were getting paid. Ty, who had already dubbed himself "The Hero of Garton" declared there was no task too small for him. And Violet, with her low charisma, was completely ignored by everyone.

They went to the armory to obtain their city-issued gear. There, Gary the city watch accountant gave them what was leftover after the other adventurers had taken all the good stuff. They all got leather armor and nothing more powerful than shortswords. Jazzmyn asked if their was a rapier available, but there wasn't - although they could clearly see Lindal leaving with three rapiers stuck into his belt.

After strapping on their meager gear, Gary directed them to a pile of unused magic items. The watch had been collecting them due to the effects of a Wild Magic Sorcerer who had worked with them in the past, and the "DPS optimized" party wasn't interested.

After digging through, Mandel pulled out a Brassiere of Infinite Imps, which spawned a little baby impling every 10 minutes. Ty got a potion of Instant Intoxification, and Violet got a Potion of Permanent Levitation. Abigail got the Circlet of Inconsolable Weeping, and Jazzmyn pulled out the Panic Blade, which didn't do damage but caused those hit by it to flee.

The Potion of Instant Inebriation: crafted by the legendary wizard Jack of Daniels
The party followed Floris' directions to find Mrs. Frisby's home, where they were greeting by a kindly old lady who offered them a plate of cookies if they helped her. The group made their way down into the basement. Abigail lit a torch, and they saw rats go scattering under tables, behind boxes, and beneath doors.

Ty decided to place a pool of the instant intoxication potion of the cellar floor and let the rats drink it. The group went upstairs to wait for the rats to try it. Meanwhile, Violet, who still hadn't been noticed by anyone yet, added her permanent levitation potion to the mix.

When they returned to the basement, they found a drunk rat floating against the ceiling. Mandel cast Anmial Friendship on it, and tied a string to its tail, making a rat balloon. After killing a couple rats, the group lead the remaining rats out into the center of the room using their skills at animal handling. By the end of it, everyone except Jazzmyn had a rat balloon of their own.

Jazzmyn found a mysterious ring, which she took to Mrs. Frisby to inspect. It was apparently a Ring of First Impression, which allowed the wearer to give really good handshakes. Mrs. Frisby let them have it as thanks, as well as giving them a plate of cookies made from the finest Breaddington flour.

(At this point the players had a long discussion about the rules of the Permanent Levitation. Would the rats be able to float over Mt. Doom and drop the magic ring in? I said they would, but as Will pointed out, we had to factor in that the rats were also drunk)

Mrs. Frisby recommended the group go to the Burning Bush Tavern to celebrate. She also suggested they might be able to help the owner take care of a lowlife that had been hanging around his establishment, Skeevy Pete.

The party went to the Burning Bush and Ty, who had been saving up his gold, ordered drinks for everyone. Abigail got roped into a game of cards and immediately lost all of her money. Mandel decided to play onstage, and did surprisingly well. He managed to convince a lady in the crowd to buy his Brassiere of Infinite Imps, and was suddenly flush with gold. Which, of course, he immediately bet on a game of darts. Fortunately, he didn't take any losses.

Tavern is love, Tavern is life
Ty and Jazzmyn went to the owner to ask about Skeevy Pete. The owner, a portly and good-natured man named Venro, told them that the wrong sorts of people had been hanging around ever since a new tavern had opened up right across the street from him.

Curious, the adventurers inquired more. The new tavern was called Starbeex, and was run by an Aarakocra from the north. They offered drinks and Potions of Wakefulness at incredibly low prices, and were undercutting the business of merchants all over. Additionally, Venro believed they were behind the Bird-Faced Bandit attacks. Jazzmyn pointed out that this was a bit racist, assuming a bird race was behind the bird-faced bandits. Venro didn't seem to notice.

The party made their way (downtown, walking fast, faces passed, and I'm homebound) to Starbeex. Inside, they noticed how unusual of a tavern it was: it served no food except small snacks and desserts, but they had plenty of drink options. The entire place was very modern, with polished tone furnishings, nearly all of which were occupied by young authors and poets. There was a small stage, but it was reserved for a band called My Morning Waistcoat.

Behind the counter was the owner, a rooster-like aarakocra (as Shannon pointed out, this made him a baroosta) whose name was Gachi. The group asked Gachi a bunch of questions, but he seemed innocent. Gachi pointed out that he couldn't really address the rumors one way or another in public, since acknowledging them would make him look even guiltier. He had planned to simply wait out the storm until the Bird-Faced Bandits showed up. Even more suspiciously, they had never robbed Starbeex.

Unsatisfied, the group made their way to another bar, where Violet had a contact in the Garton royal spy network. They went to the Coldiron Inn, run by proprietor Griffin Coldiron, dwarf barkeep and high-level informant. Mandel played more music, and Abigail said hello to an awkward tiefling wizard at the bar.

Griffin was a good friend of Captain Floris. He let them know that the Bird-faced bandits were only hitting Merchant's Guild taverns, which meant that it was possible the taverns were colluding to drive Starbeex out of town. Griffin also knew that Venro kept really good records, so if they had a chance to look at his ledger, they might be able to figure out if a theft had really happened.

The group decided to go back to Dethklok first, though, to let Floris know they had completed the rat-killing quest (sort of). They showed him their rat balloons, and he just rolled his eyes.
I really wish this wasn't a real thing
As they were heading back to Venro's, Abigail saw a shadowy figure out of the corner of her eye: Skeevy Pete! They immediately gave chase, but he was just too skeevy to be stopped! Just before he ran out of sight, Ty tackled him and sat on him to keep him from moving.

The group questioned him, Jazzmyn using her Thieves' Cant to speak secretly with him. He admitted that he was behind the Bird-Faced Bandits, and Venro was paying him to organize them. The group couldn't really trust Skeevy Pete, though, so they went back to Dethklok to get a warrant to search Venro's tavern.

Floris decided that the group could search without a warrant, and sent Gary with them to look at Venro's ledger. On their way out, they passed the "minmax" party, who had murderhobo'd a bunch of Bird-Faced Bandits and not really discovered any information. Also, they were arguing bitterly among themselves, and Lindal was quite drunk.

The party showed back up at the Burning Bush, and Mandel created a distraction by playing horrible music on the stage. Venro stormed over to him and asked what he thought he was doing. Mandel claimed that Venro just didn't understand his art. Venro started beating up Mandel.

Meanwhile, the group snuck back into Venro's office and Gary took a look at his ledger. Sure enough, there were suspicious charges equal to the amount of "stolen" goods. They went back out into the tavern, where Venro had slapped Mandel unconscious for his insolence.

Venro agreed to go along with them, and they returned to Dethklok. In the face of the evidence mounted against him, Venro admitted he was behind the Bird-Faced bandits. Floris arrested him, but also decided that Starbeex should have to join the Merchant's Guild and charge reasonable prices for their wares. Mandel, a staunch capitalist, opposed this plan.

The successful heroes were paid, given proper equipment, and promised training to bring them up to competent levels. Meanwhile, the "optimized" party was told to sod off to some dungeon or something. There was much rejoicing.


A little while later, Abigail finally got the courage up to ask Guard captain Floris on a date. He looked over the skyline of Garton as the wind whipped his hair. "The city is my only true love." And she fell even harder for him.
Dramatic hair flip activate!
I have to say, this was one of the most fun games I have ran. People played fast and loose, there was little concern for combat and skill optimization, and everyone had a great time just messing around in character.

D&D Beyond also proved quite functional for at-the-table use. The compendium of spells and equipment was nice, minus a few omissions (no arcane focus???), and the interface was usable enough for quick reference. I'm hoping future iterations improve on this.

Thanks for reading!

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