It’s an adventurer’s job to take care of other people’s problems. For Nadia, Castiel and Arianna in our Dungeons and Dragons adventure, that means finding out which troublemaker is causing trouble in beautiful Sewanna. Time for a little detective work!
On the hunt for the lost skull
Mysterious events are happening in the pirate town of Sewanna, and everyone is talking about this topic right now. Whether in the city’s numerous taverns or in the main square, people are whispering and waiting in anticipation to see what will happen next. So do our heroes Castiel, Nadia and Arianna.
But instead of just puzzling, these three tangible pieces of evidence went on a hunt for the culprits. For them, two main suspects emerged: the obscure witch Etta and the old pirate warhorse Silas with his two drinking buddies. Silas was particularly interesting because they had been given his name some time ago by the powerful sorceress Alizon Evanora, who had commissioned them to search for her missing skull minions. And one of those skulls should be with that same Silas.
Tarot reading can be a useful skill for game masters. If you want to use original D&D cards for this, get the “Tarokka Deck” from “The Curse of Strahd”. Source: Buffed Nevertheless, the adventurers paid Etta a visit first. This old woman lives outside the city walls in a seedy neighborhood in a hovel. When our heroes got to her, Etta offered to read their cards because she hires herself out as a psychic. Nadia and Castiel accepted the offer and had to realize that Etta was good at her art and told them some things that were only too true to their faces. Although Etta struck them as crazy and a little mischievous, she didn’t connect to what was happening in town.
In the evening, the adventurers waited for Silas and his buddies in the “Zum Holzbein” pub in order to confront him too. But he didn’t show up, despite the innkeeper’s claim that he stopped by every night. That was suspicious, because the next morning another incident shocked the city: suddenly, in the middle of the main square, there was a gigantic, dead whale with the names of ten young women carved into its body. Enough is enough, which is why Castiel then flew straight to Silas’ home while Nadia sneaked after him in secret.
Castiel first confronted Silas, knowing that Silas had a Flaming Skull that wasn’t his. When the angel told the old sea dog who the real owner of the skull was (namely the notorious magician of Flame Island) and intimidated him with it, Silas voluntarily gave the skull out. Who wants to be burned to briquettes by a grumpy magician? After that, Castiel asked a few more questions about what was happening in town, but Silas and his buddies kept quiet. They only said that they needed the skull to power themselves with magical power.
However, Nadia, lying low on the wharf, cast her Detect Good and Evil spell from outside to check Castiel’s vitals. Now that he’s an angel and one of the Celestials, she can use it to locate him. She realized that there were three Fey beings in the little house next to Castiel and the undead skull. Hags, obviously. For the moment they left the three men alone, because now it’s time to make plans! Everything indicates that they have found the culprits.
Unexpectedly comes often – level up
Because we’re playing with milestones instead of experience points, I decided before the campaign started what the adventurers level up for. These important breakpoints are distributed across the three Kelux Islands and include securing the three skulls for the magician Alizon. However, I didn’t expect that Castiel would just manage to get Silas’ skull off in this session!
He threatened the three men with the only thing that really scares them – and his threat was also true. I asked him to do an intimidate check, which he passed with ease. And already he had the skull in his possession and thus brought the adventurers the level up to level four. I like it when players come up with creative solutions to problems, so I didn’t dream of changing the milestone after the fact to make it a little harder for them.
Reading Tarot Cards – Important Game Master Skills
For the seer Etta in session 23 I used the tarot cards from the “Witches’ ABC of Love”. The first row shows Castiel’s fate, the second row of cards that of Nadia. Source: Gillian Kemp; nymphenburger in the FA Herbig Verlagsbuchhandlung Do you believe in the mysterious arts of fortune tellers? Palm reading, looking into the crystal ball or reading tarot cards? It doesn’t matter whether you can do something with this particular branch of mysticism in real life, but if you plan to include a fortune teller in one of your campaigns as a game master, you’d better deal with the matter a little.
Personally, I much prefer actually laying out the cards to my players in-game than just describing the process verbally. Most of the time I use a set of actual tarot cards for this; but last time felt more right about another set of cards I was given as a teenager: “The Witch’s 101 of Love” by Gillian Kemp, with delightfully illustrated witch cards. I chose one of the simplest, classic laying techniques:
First I shuffled the deck, then I let the player cut with his left hand. I put the drawn cards aside and let Sven and Dominik (aka Nadia and Castiel) choose three cards each from the rest. These stand for the past, the present and the future. I said a few sentences about each card, which of course were perfectly tailored to the hero character. Then a little enigmatic mumbling about the tortuous paths of fate and that’s it. Such games work better if you already know your heroes a bit; at the very beginning of a campaign, card reading is a lot more difficult.