Reading the Eberron Player’s Guide and Eberron Campaign Guide got me really fired up about the idea of running a game in Eberron. (Those who have been around for a while may remember that my first long-term D&D game took place in Xen’drik.)
Now, the last time I DMed, it was a very short-lived game, with 3 PCs, and from a pre-made module. So the idea of getting behind the screen again and writing my own campaign was a bit intimidating.
I have to admit… it’s very convenient to have the guy who invented the Eberron campaign setting as a client! I’m not bugging Keith Baker too much, but it’s good to get burning questions answered straight from the horse’s mouth.
Setup For the Campaign
- PCs begin at level 5. I wanted them to have some sort of history before the campaign started – a reason or two why they might be known.
- PCs back stories must end in them being arrested. It was up to the player to speculate on the reasons behind their arrest.
Goals For Session One
- PCs wake up in a mysterious prison with the bare minimum necessary for survival. It needs to be very clear that the magic in the jail makes escape by their own means impossible.
- Jes, an elf female, rescues the PCs from the prison. They don’t have to trust her, but going with her is definitely a better idea than sitting around in jail.
- Have PCs worried about their ability to escape alive, and then freaked out more when the airship that rescues them is shot, breaking a strut.
- Make it a fight for your life kind of situation and have the possibility of a PC being left behind.
- Beatdown Machine, Warforged Fighter
- Marthana “Jelly” Gellantara, Half-Elf Cleric
- Cyd, Genasi (? – he’s not really sure what he is) Wizard
- Evan MacDowell, Human Rogue
(This is going to be a bit short since I was focusing more on running the game than taking notes. I should get better at it as things move along.)
After your arrest, you succumbed to a magical sleep. It was a restful sleep, probably the best rest you’ve gotten in a long time. It’s amazing how the body relaxes when the mind is shut down. You each awaken in a cell. It’s about ten feet by ten feet and carved into stone. It smells wet and moldy with a slight stench of burning hair. Your cell contains a small cot, a chamber pot and oddly enough, just inside the bars, encased in what appears to be glass, are your weapons, armor, supplies, and gold pieces. You are wearing a simple prison shift and a metallic ID bracelet engraved with your name and a date.
The PCs explore their cells and discover a few things:
- Any noise they make in the cell seems to bounce off the bars and back at them. They can hear the guards, but the guards can’t hear them and they can’t hear other prisoners (if there are any).
- Sticking your hand outside the bars causes a burn that seems to be linked to the bracelet. The bracelet is tight and does not break.
- The glass case containing their stuff has a plaque with the words “A glimpse of your life that once was. Enjoy.” The glass is unbreakable, despite Beatdown’s attempt to smash it with the chamber pot.
- The bracelet had a date on it that was definitely after their arrest date, but only Evan appeared sure of how many days had passed. (Smart question!! He asked how much beard growth he had.)
You hear a bell ring and hear a slight whirring noise from down the hall. A human guard, rather portly and dressed in hide armor, appears in front of your cell, pushing a hovering metal cart that is held aloft by a tiny whirling elemental. He pulls a small green stone from his pocket and waves it in front of the door before putting it back in his pocket.
Arcane-trained people: You feel a break in the energy field that kept you from being heard outside of your cell.
He pulls a bowl of gruel from the cart and slides it through a conveniently bowl-sized hole in the cell door before stepping back to the wall and reaching back in his pocket for the stone to reseal the Silence field on the cell.
- Talk to the guard and quickly realize he doesn’t know anything. This is just a job, it’s what he does for money to support his family, he doesn’t know or care who runs the place so long as he gets his money.
- Jelly doesn’t talk to the guard. She just watches as he slides the bowl of gruel in and reseals the spell with the green stone.
- Beatdown tries to throw his chamber pot at the guard, but it’s too wide to fit through the bars. It’s okay, warforged don’t eat anyway.
- Cyd is sure the prison is run by the Arcane Congress, but the guard’s confused expression makes it clear this isn’t the case (or at least the guard doesn’t know anything about it).
- Evan hides in the shadows of his cell and the guard walks by, assuming the cell is empty.
The lanterns dim and the chatter of the guards is replaced by the slow pacing of boots as the night guard paces your hall. Soon, even that stops and you hear the sound of heavy snoring from the end of the hall.
While a couple of the PCs are too busy banging chamber pots or pondering what they’re going to do to notice… a couple hear the snoring stop and the sound of an ample body rolling to the ground.
The action begins with Jelly’s cell:
Standing in front of your cell is a hooded female figure dressed all in black. As she turns her head to face you, you notice she has elven features. Just as suddenly as she appears, she teleports through the bars and into your cell. What do you do?
“My name is Jes – one s. I’m here to rescue you, and several others, and move you to safety. What I need from you is utter silence and to follow my directions to the letter. Do you understand?”
Jes pulls a small stone from her pocket, touches it to the glass case containing your armor, and the glass swings open to allow you access to your things. “Quickly,” she says, “Get dressed. They can’t hear you until I move you outside the bars.” She taps the stone to the bracelet and it falls to the ground with a clink.
- Jelly follows the directions, Jes puts an arm around her waist, and teleports them both outside the bars. She then moves to each of the other PCs’ cells.
- Beatdown is skeptical and wants to know if he goes with her if he’ll get to kill things. Jes assures him that he’ll be able to kill things.
- Cyd intrigues Jes. They told her he’d look… different… but she didn’t think he’d be this interesting. She walks around him and checks out his weird elemental humanoid from all angles. He’s concerned that she’s from the Arcane Congress and taking him back there. She says that she can’t prove she’s NOT from the Arcane Congress, but that date on his bracelet means he’ll be executed tomorrow. He’ll just have to trust her for now.
- Evan chooses not to hide from Jes and she laments the fact that she has to deliver him to her employer rather than hire him to work with her. She’s heard much about his assassination skills.
Jes leads you down the hallway and you realize, you were the only people on this hallway. You move up the stairs and on to the roof of a building that appears to be carved into a mountain. Water surrounds the building. It’s pitch black out and the only light comes from the rooftop lights. Some shipping boxes are on the roof and a green circle is painted on the floor in the center.
Jes points to the sky and you see in the distance a burning circle of fire, an airship, quickly approaching. She explains that now you just need to wait for Ren to arrive. He’s the youngest and best airship pilot in House Lyrandar and if anyone can pull off an escape like this, it’s him. He won’t be able to hover, but the PCs can grab the rope ladder and climb up into the ship. Jes stands in the center of the circle, raises her arms in the air, and shoots up a beam of light to guide Ren in.
The PCs aren’t alone on the roof. But they all roll poorly, and it appears that the airship is far more interesting than the fact that stirring in the corner is a chain golem.
The original plan was for the golem to be pretty hard, but level 12 for 4 level 5 PCs seemed a little crazy, so after talking it over with Dante from StupidRanger, I decided to nerf the golem a little bit.
I had originally thought about it being really hard for the PCs to hit and having Jes help out, but then decided it wouldn’t be much fun if they couldn’t feel useful in their own escape. Jes got to hold up the “bat signal” until Ren was almost close enough to drop the rope ladder, giving the PCs updates as Ren’s airship got closer and closer.
The golem was a bit overnerfed and died sooner than I’d hoped. But that’s okay, because the alarms went off and eight guards showed up, four of which came out of a secret door that nobody had noticed. About halfway through the battle with the guards, Ren drops the rope ladder which begins to slide across the roof.
Jelly, unfortunately, is horrible with ladders. In fact, it took Beatdown Machine picking her up and attaching her to the ladder before she managed to get off the roof at all. Luckily, a burst of adrenaline came in and she scurried the rest of the way up.
Our rogue, Evan, climbed halfway up the ladder and shot crossbow bolts at the guards from up above. In true wizard fashion, Cyd set a bunch of guards on fire. But the cool move of the encounter goes to Beatdown, who grabbed the bottom of the ladder and rode it past a guard, slicing him to the ground as he flew by. Jes hopped on the ladder last, jumping off the side of the building and swinging in the air, cape billowing behind her. (She’s a bit of a showoff.)
On the airship, the party meets the captain, Ren d’Lyrandar, a young half-elf with a babyface. Jelly figures he can’t be older than 17. He and Jes embrace and appear to know each other quite well. (Romantic? Who knows?) But the happy reunion is interrupted by the sound of a cannon firing, and a ball of force hits the airship, cracking one of the struts.
The ship bucks and many of its passengers fall to the deck. Ren runs back to take back control from his co-pilot and Jes stands at the center of the deck, telling the PCs to protect her while she casts a ritual to repair the broken strut.
… and protect her they’ll have to do, because five archers on soarsleds arrive on the scene, shooting at the PCs and Jes. (This is modeled on the encounter in the back of the Eberron Campaign Guide.) Three members of the ship’s crew come up to man the light ballistas.
While Jes was fired on by the archers, she didn’t get hit (which kinda bummed me out!). The unstable elemental still shook the boat, knocking people over. But the PCs and crew fought on and finally took down all of the archers, sending them toppling into the ocean. (Beatdown shoved the one who was on deck off the edge, just to be sure he was gone for good.)
Cyd, of course, went with the fireball method when one of the archers landed on the deck of the airship.
Jes finished the ritual and collapsed to the ground, exhausted. Ren came back out and helped her back to his cabin to rest for the rest of the ride, leaving the PCs alone to wonder about the whole jailbreak situation.
The airship eventually comes to a stop and Jes and the PCs go down the ladder and into the Ghallanda enclave. It is very, very early in the morning and they all go directly to their rooms to rest. They can figure things out in the morning.