An Essential Sandbox: Session 2 Play Report

  • Embra (2nd-level dwarf evocation mage)
  • Paion (2nd-level human sun warpriest)
  • Thirur (2nd-level dwarf axe slayer)

The party came across a cave about a day and a half out from Black Hollow. They'd been hired to locate a tribe of lizardfolk that had been abducting farmers and exterminate them. If they came back with any survivors, they'd get a bonus.

They didn't get far in the cavern before coming across a small group of lizardfolk. They were gathered about a fire, and one was carrying the still form of a villager. They were able to ambush and slay the them with little difficulty, but the villager's throat had been slit open some time ago.

Further inside they found a pair of lizardfolk flanking a magic circle that had been carved into the cavern floor. One was clad in a robe made of scaly hide. His arms were raised, and he was chanting loudly in their own language. The other was carrying a large, bloody club, and simply stood there watching. The circle glowed a bright crimson, and the corpses of humans were heaped nearby.

Things weren't looking good for their bonus.

Thirur moved closer, concealing himself in a nearby crevice, while Embra drew their attention with a magic missile. As they rushed towards her Paion moved to intercept, and Thurir leaped form his hiding place. The robed lizardfolk was able to draw poisonous gases seemingly out of the walls and ground with his words, so Paion and Embra focused on him while Thurir kept the warrior engaged.

Paion's prayers cleansed the poison, while Embra's fiery magic quickly incinerated the spellcasting lizardfolk, and the warrior fell soon after. They examined the magic circle, and Embra deduced that it was gathering the souls of the sacrificed and funneling them somewhere. She had no way to dispel it, and when Thirur tried to destroy it with his axe discovered that it was seemingly impervious.

There was only one tunnel leading from the chamber, so they followed it and ambushed another pair of lizardfolk that they assumed were bathing in a stream. They were able to kill one, but the other escaped through a door and barricaded it. Wasting no time, Paion and Thirur hacked their way through.

The room beyond was dominated by a wide flight of stairs that stood before a pit. A lizardfolk stood at the top, clad in a scaly cloak similar to the one they'd fought before. He was preparing to slit the throat of a bound human, who vainly begged for his life. The lizardfolk they'd ambushed was frantically hissing at him from the bottom of the stairs, presumably warning him about the adventurers that had just barged their way in.

Embra conjured a pillar of flames at the top of the stairs. She was able mentally command them, so they spared the villager while engulfing the robed lizardfolk. The villager took the opportunity to bolt, stumbling down the stairs and ducking out of sight. The robed lizardfolk leaped down to the pit. He whispered into it, and a red drake, a reptilian beast the size of a wolf, just with sharper teeth and thicker skin, crawled forth.

The drake charged towards Embra, knocking her to the ground and tearing at her flesh. Thirur drove his axe into its back, and when he had its attention Paion pulled Embra to safety and revived her with a short prayer. She remained back, blasting the lizardfolk and drake with bolts of lightning, while Paion and Thirur pressed the attack. Like the other spellcaster, this one could conjure poisonous clouds, but Paion had expected this and called upon his god to shield them from harm.

Once they were both slain, the characters found a group of villagers at the back of the chamber. They were bound, filthy, and wounded, but still alive. The characters set them free, collected whatever valuables the lizardfolk had managed to accrue, and returned victorious to Black Hollow.

Behind the Scenes
Melissa whipped up a small hex map, and since our kids were playing essentially gave us two simple adventure hooks to choose from: deal with some bandits at an estate, or rescue the farmers. She even took the time to set up a map using Dungeon Tiles, which added a nice visual punch to the crawl.

In the end we got some silver, a bit of gold, a big-ass red gem, and a +1 lifedrinking spear. None of us are especially good at using spears, but it's magical so fuck it.

I'm going to run the next session, which will give me a chance to playtest an adventure I've been wanting to write. Our goal is to have a kind of character roster, allowing the kids (and even us) to make new characters and go on adventures in the sandbox, slowly growing it as they explore and deal with problems in the region.

Who knows, maybe I'll get to make the high-level warlord I've always wanted, and/or use one of my Orcus minis!

Over time I'm going to implement more houserules; I just want Melissa to have a good handle on how to run Dungeons & Dragons before shaking things up too much.

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After only a couple hours of design and writing, The Swordmage is good to go. If you want a solid fighter/wizard hybrid with twenty-five advanced moves to choose from (in addition to some other extras), pick it up.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out!

Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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