If you play Dungeon & Dragons Adventurer’s League and haven’t played DDAL04-02 and don’t want to be surprised, be warned… there be spoilers!
I truly love player driven stories, especially when running AL mods and a player really gets involved in their characters and the story. I like to twist things to along with what the players are doing and how they are reacting (obviously not making drastic changes like removing encounters and things like that.
Last night we ran 4-2 at the store. We also had a new player, one that had never played D&D before. She settled on a monk and put together a 1st level character to ‘get a feel’ for D&D. She and another player who had a new 1st level got swept up by the Mists to land in Orașnou. They met Gregori and got some information about the town and what had been happening. After a small discussion he told them of the Vistani and he told them of how the town traded furs with them to get goods the Vistani had brought from elsewhere. He told them about Laszo and Alina and that they were missing. Oh, but there is a little wolf pup that was found. They don’t usually see wolves, so maybe the hunters were attacked?
The new player (we’ll call her Lisa) bought some dried meat from Gregori and beelined for the pup, petting it and feeding it little bits of jerky. She asked if they could take the pup, maybe he could lead them to his family? Gregory agreed and gave her a leash and off they went.
I mention this because it gave me insight into the player and the character. She loved animals, or at least puppies. I knew what was coming.
Long story short, they found what they found and did what they did and ended up in the wolf den. They found the journal and Lisa became convinced the pup was Alinas offspring. Shortly, Alina and a Dire Wolf came back. Alina, in pain and upset that her ‘home’ have been invaded fell to her hands and knees and (painfully) transformed into a wolf. Both wolves attacked.
The fighter was standing watch but managed to avoid the initial attacks. The rest rush out of the cave to see what the commotion was. When it came to Lisa, she asked if she could talk to Alina (the werewolf). Since I had a good idea of what she was going to try, and in spite of the groans from the rest of the party (“she’s gonna waste a turn!”) I let her give a speech. She explained to Alina that they were sent to find her (and Laszo) and help. They had found her pup and he was alive and well. She went on for a bit talking about helping and safety and not wanting to fight.
I had her make a Persuasion roll. 16.
Okay, next player. I didn’t tell them what happened. Everyone was on edge, Lisa literally so.
The rest of the party decided to Ready, waiting to see if the speech had any impact.
It came to Alinas turn again. I had been thinking during since Lisa gave her speech about what to do, and how to play things. I decided to have Alina Ready as well. The Dire Wolf became very confused and start snapping, not attacking, at the fighter. He waiting to see what Alina was doing.
She again decided to plead with Alina, reiterating their desire to not fight, even putting down her weapons (well, the staff anyway) I need to point out that to this point, Lisa had no reservation against fighting. If fact in the previous encounters she managed to get the killing blow on each monster. Not bad for a Lvl. 1.
Persuasion roll. 18.
The rest of the party Readied again. As did Alina, except this time she actually took a small step backward.
The Dire Wolf, now confused and upset snapped. He charged the fighter and critted, doing 20 points of damage and knocking him prone. He had 2 HP left.
Lisa begged Alina to help.
Persuasion roll. 17.
The rest of the party attacked the Dire Wolf.
Alina’s turn came and she charged the Dire Wolf, knocking it away from the fighter, right into the monk. Who managed to avoid his bite and claw and killed it by driving the silvered knife from the campsite into it’s neck.
After a few moments, Alina changed back and fell into Lisa’s arms. They learned about Laszo attacking her and that the pain of that and childbirth triggered her change. She told them that the village would surely kill her. They asked about Aya possibly helping, but learned through the fighter (half-elf) that they would likely kill her as well.
Lisa’s player was in tears. Literally. She was completely invested in the story. She didn’t know what to do, but when the fighter threatened to slit her throat she stopped him and asked Alina if she wanted to live this way. Eventually Alina said no, that it was no way to live and that she didn’t believe anyone would be able to help her.
So, Lisa, with literal and virtual tears, embraced Alina and slipped the silvered dagger into her heart.
No it wasn’t exactly the mod as written, but nothing significant was changed and the end result was the same. They found Alina, defeated the Dire Wolf and gave Alina a choice. They would have taken her back to the village had she asked. And it had much more player investment and interest. Even the smart-asses at the table, the ones that always make light of everything felt the intensity of the events unfolding. One even telling Lisa’s player that they were following her lead.
It was one of the best games I’ve had the honor to run, and one I will never forget.