“Shaumur Kung excitedly invited the Goliath man into his inn, having never had a chance to converse with the famed denizens of the Mountains of the Sun. The people shied away from the hulking goliath, but Shaumur’s wife Imzel, ever the angel, welcomed the man warmly, asking about his needs. After enjoying the atmosphere of the inn, Harbard inquired about any rumours of giants. Shaumur knew of no giants, but felt that the clerics in the temple of Pelor centered at the heart of the Mountains of the Sun would know. Harbard thanked the man and decided to head back into the mountains. Shaumur sounded a warning to him as he stepped out to beware the lone black direwolf that stalks the mountains with its red eyes and its smell of magic. Harbard only grunted back, worried only about continuing his journey.”
So back to the middle of Shawn and I’s first session, and we were only an hour and a half in. I had steam in me and he was ready to keep going. So the first thing at hand was I had encounter a couple of NPC’s I had randomly generated with not too much backstory. It was hard, I h ad to make up voices and keep it up, making sure to differentiate well. I had to use a female voice, which was hard for me to think of besides just making a high pitched voice. I also used my face and gestures to bring these people to life to make Shawn feel not that he was Shawn playing the game, but Harbard Stonehand in his world.
His first few social encounters in this inn turned out well. I think he had fun getting to interact with characters. I think my favorite encounter was his attempt to beat a tipster in the inn at dragon chess by rolling a 20. Even with the -1 from his intelligence, I somehow managed to roll in the single digits, losing out. It was a funny thought to imagine, a huge Goliath man randomly moving pieces on a small board resulting in a win.
It eventually did lead him to a tip to go to the Temple in the center of the mountains since the priest were well-traveled. The next issue I had to deal with was the fact that Shawn was playing a solo campaign. He needed some help or else he could never take on half the things thrown out at him without the monsters being underleveled in their challenge ratings. Instead I decided to give him an NPC wolf that I would control, but would willingly follow Harbard. It would solve the issue of mechanics. Barbarians aren’t meant to have animal companions, since that wasn’t part of the ruleset, but I needed Harbard to have a companion. So I would play the wolf that way, it wouldn’t completely break or complicate the game.
He chased down the bandits attacking the wolf, and met a dying angry wolf, and like watching Shawn care for his dog that at the time he had just gotten, he nurse the wolf’s wounds and gave it food to eat. While it was roleplay and he meant to make this an exchange for Harbard and this wolf, I couldn’t help but see a reflection of him holding little baby Thor and caring for it the same. So he set out to continue to the temple in a rush, to get directions, but mostly healing for his new found friend.
“The wolf growled at him, its unnatural red eyes filled with anger and spite, matching the blood coming from the wounds the bandits had delivered it. Harbard crouched, carefully pulling his jerky from his pack and held it out. The wolf sniffed, and gingerly stepped forward, before collapsing in its pain and wounds. Harbard rushed forward, and held the wolf in his arms. He fed it, and brought it water as he staunched its bleeding best he could. Then, wrapping it up gingerly, he picked up the wolf and began to sprint towards the Temple of the Sun, hoping for help.”