Virgin DM Monologues: The Festival of Brightblade

Welcome to the recap of the ninth session of my Eberron campaign, which took place on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Our adventurers recently found themselves mocked by the Starlight & Shadows wizards, attacked by chairs, and ambushed by drakes in a furniture store.

On the bright side, they realized their little book had some big powers and got a great deal on some magical home goods from grateful store owner Finneus Tribble.

A week later was the festival of Brightblade. In fact, this is the first year Sharn has held a proper celebration of Brightblade since the War, and the people of the city seem excited to throw themselves into festivities for the day.  (Imagine the feeling you had on the first 4th of July after 9/11. It’s a party, but there’s still a lingering hurt.)

From Sharn, City of Towers:

Brightblade, the holy day of Dol Dorn, the Sovereign Lord of Strength and Steel, sees festivals occur in all of the temple districts of the city. Prizefights, wrestling matches and archery contests, and jousts occur throughout the day, culminating in a contest of champions at the Cornerstone arena in Middle Tavick’s Landing. The champions receive generous prizes, and a fortune can be made gambling on the contests.

It’s a holiday from work and Kava encourages the party to take part in the contests. “Just be careful with the gambling. We pay your housing, but we’re not going to feed you if you lose your wages.

The party wandered through the streets of Sharn, checking out the sights, including the festival food on a stick. (Everyone loves food on a stick!)

They come upon a gathering crowd and a young boy yelling about a fighting contest starting soon. Brick and Beatdown step into the ring to fight an extremely large human and a very ugly half-orc with a big tooth that sticks up over his lips.

Eru the bard sings “a song of lies” to try to intimidate their opponents. Jelly uses her keen perception to coach the fighters on the weaknesses of their opponents. Victory was theirs after a 1-2 punch in the half-orc’s teeth! Our brave fighter and warden earn themselves a healing potion each.

Moving on, Eru had wondered out loud if there was a bard contest somewhere. Singing or storytelling or something. Well, it stood to reason that a festival celebrating strength and steel would have bards singing about strength and steel, right? I totally wasn’t planning on it, but whipped a Sharn Idol out of my ass.

In the entertainment district, they stumble on a stage surrounded by a huge crowd. There are three judges – a grumpy one, a cheery/drugged one, and one that speaks like he’s really streetwise.  Eru hops into the line to get on stage to compete.

Before Eru in line was a college aged half-elven guy from the local University. His lute was painted up and tricked out.

I’ll be singing about Gingermittens, the mascot of our university.

The students in the audience went wild. They LOVE Gingermittens!

My song is the Battle of… oh no, wait, okay, sorry, I’m just so nervous. I’m okay, okay. Just let me start again, okay? Okay… My song is the BALLAD of Gingermittens.

He sings about Gingermittens, the best miniature pony in the world, with his ginger fur and his soft mane and his taste for sentient flesh. The students are loving it, but as he continues to sing, he starts forgetting the words to his own song. The judges boot him off the stage, telling him that he’d better remember his words next time. Dawg.

Eru takes the stage and begins to sing the tale of the Arcane Academy and the adventure they had, battling mannequins, plants, and being diplomatic with a library. Jelly worked the crowds and revved them up so much that the judges had to let Eru continue singing even though they weren’t terribly impressed with his song. Despite “activating his star power,” Eru’s song was cut short by the ditzy female judge.

You’ve got so much potential and a wonderful heart, but I think you just need to take some time to get to know YOU… and know yourself and then you’ll be just awesome!

On his way off the stage, an older gentleman slips Eru his card and tells him that he’s welcome to play at his establishment any time.

(I’d like to note here that I absolutely suck at the mechanics of running skill challenges. For the Sharn Idol contest, we just did opposed d20 rolls. Eru rolled and then he had to beat at least two of the judges. In one round, Jelly’s people skills gave Eru a bonus because the crowd was so riled up. I thought for totally doing whatever for that particular challenge, it came out really well – mostly because my party likes to roleplay.)

Eru is a little upset about being booted from the contest, but the party moves on to the Cornerstone Arena, where the Ultimate Battles are taking place. A party representing the Starlight & Shadows wizards had been defeated in the second round, so the party was eager to prove themselves more talented on the battlefield.

All the encounters for the contest were magically created by powerful mages, so none of the opponents were actually real and no one could actually be killed in the games.  It was all for fun, bragging rights, and of course, prizes!

(For these encounters, I pulled the first encounter from the Level 7, 8, and 9 chapters of Dungeon Delve. My party is currently level 7. I beefed up the level 9 encounter by adding an extra devil.)

A booming announcer voice seemed to project out from the heavens:

Our first battle will be between our brave champions and the brute force of the orcs! Make your bets now! Will it be the savages and raiders or this group with their fruity bard and slender, easily-snappable cleric?

Jelly is offended, Eru is depressed, but Beatdown quips:

“That was at least half true!”

In the small arena, the party situates themselves and out of nothing, six orcs appear – three large ones and three regular sized.  They’re a little nervous since it’s such close quarters and they are outnumbered, but the defenders do their jobs quite well!

The crowd goes wild and the announcer voice comes on again:

“Well, they did it! Double or nothing, folks! For our next battle, our champions are pitted against drow of the deepest jungles of Xen’drik!”

This is the encounter where the mean wizards struck out, so the party is eager to prove themselves. At first, it’s just three drow. But as one drow is taken down, a new one appears. The party is getting a little freaked out that it’s going to be a never-ending stream of dark elves, but they finally take down the last one.

“AMAZING!! For the final round of bidding, we present everyone’s worst nightmare – warrior devils from the pits of hell and the tortured souls that serve them! Triple or nothing! The chances of them winning this battle are slim!”

(Okay, I was really kinda angry at how this encounter turned out. I added an extra devil, and it was STILL too easy! That, and I rolled like crap the whole time. But still… my level 7 party is tearing through level 9 encounters and the rogue wasn’t even there. Any DM folks have advice?)

Cyd really shows those other wizards who’s boss. He takes out five tortured souls in his first turn and the other three in his second. The crowd gasps as they watch the lackeys just disappear from the battlefield.

With only the devils to focus on, it’s a bit easier. With one devil remaining, Beatdown Machine turns to wink at the crowd and draws back his weapon for a vicious swipe.  But it was Eru’s cutting words that prove to be the death of the final devil, even though Beatdown has other ideas:

“Look at the way he bled out from his grievous wounds while you were talking to him!”

The crowd cheers as the announcer declares them victorious. Sounds of boos from the other wizards are heard in the stands. The party is awarded a Belt of Lucky Strikes (cigarettes?) and a Lucky Charms (cereal?) necklace, and a letter of marque good for a fine dinner feast at any of Sharn’s restaurants.

Members of the audience start to crowd around the party members and Eru decides to make a “carousing check” to see how he’s going to be spending the night. They ponder having a party at their new apartment…

(Meanwhile, Brick’s player has fired up The Final Countdown on her laptop and is making her mini run laps around the arena.)

All in all, a good game!
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About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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