Children of Sorrow


Herein will be the play and record of a solo (1 player, 1 gamemaster) Fiction First, Story Now, No Myth 4E D&D game between myself (as GM) and @Nephis . We will partake of many standard Heroic Fantasy tropes and themes, including many classic D&Disms, but nothing is canonical until it shows up in actual play.

We held a Session Zero in which the player created four PCs, with rough personalities (described with pithy drives/goals/ambitions), and then we collaboratively "drew the map" for the game (theater-of-the-mind style), defining a few key locales in which to start play. Then the player crafted Minor Quests, which will serve to drive play forward. The game will be player driven, which is to say scenes and challenges will be framed around and from PC concerns and the actions they take. Fiction will be emergent.

The PCs are

(1) Jendi, Half-elf Warlock MC Wizard, son of Juniper (a renowned if marginalized witch living at the edge of the forest near Ravenswood) and an expelled student from The Order of the Ebony Tower in Blackstone, lured into pursuit of the dark arts, having forged a Pact with The Raven Queen,

(2) Mylistra, Drow Cleric MC Assassin, a hedge witch passing herself off as a member of society, if marginalized, in the surface world in Juniper House, after renouncing the mad (literally) society of her people,

(3) Nemo, Halfling Rogue, a teen shipyard worker and freedom fighter, who befriended the charismatic Jendi and holds a fascination with the feyfolk, and

(4) Toriq, Half-orc Warden MC Ranger, Juniper's daughter and half-sister to Jendi and member of the Guardians of the Ruby Spire, an enchanted Grove of eternal spring surrounding a great crystal ... growth? fallen object from the sky? ... deep within the forest outside Ravenswood.

The player-crafted Beliefs/Drives/Instincts, followed by initial Minor Quests:

J • Seek the dark mysteries
• Relish in the Raven Queen's power

M • Always keep to the shadows
• Seek new horizons
• Find a cure for the madness that besets Drow society

N • Free my people (Halflings from tyranny of Humans/Half-orcs)
• Trust reluctantly but tenaciously

T • Protect the (secrets of the) forest
• Return kindness with kind


J • Retrieve lost Armor of Dark Majesty rumored to be within the Sunken Vault

M • Help Elena escape her father

N • Free Cousin Beppa from prison

T • Protect the Dryad Dryope of the Primordial Chestnut Grove

After @Nephis posts the mechanical character summaries, I will frame a scene drawing upon one or more of these Quests and we will do some free play to find the initial conflict therein.

Here is the rough setting as worked out in Session Zero:


Industrial logging and mill town; manufactories, magical and industrial pollutants

• 3-caste hierarchy: Human and Half-orc citizens > outsiders > Halfling and Goblin underclass; run by trade guilds, with appointed Lord Mayor

• Frontier vibe; connected to civilization by river trade (Blackstone)

The Forest

• Beset by industry, logging, pollution

• Magical location: The Ruby Spire, eternal spring, aberrant creatures, protected by order of primal guardians

• Settlement: Grimmglimtë, subterranean city of Drow; plagued by madness induced by Ravenswood pollution

• Forest fey: Goblins, Elves, unicorns, spiders, Centaurs, Satyrs, Dryads, Harpies, Hags


• Cosmopolitan capital; hereditary Gynarch and her court; aloof and hedonistic citizenry

• Center of magic and learning; Order of the Ebony Tower
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Here are the stats of my party:

Jendi, level 1
Half-Elf, Warlock
Eldritch Strike: Eldritch Strike Charisma
Eldritch Pact: Sorcerer-King Pact
Half-Elf Power Selection: Dilettante
Background: Blackstone (Waterdeep Benefit)
Theme: Order Adept (of the Ebony Tower)

Str 8, Con 14, Dex 12, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 18.

Str 8, Con 12, Dex 12, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 16.

AC: 15 Fort: 12 Reflex: 14 Will: 15
HP: 26 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 6

Religion +8, Diplomacy +13, History +8, Intimidate +9, Arcana +8

Acrobatics +1, Bluff +4, Dungeoneering, Endurance +2, Heal, Insight +2, Nature, Perception, Stealth +1, Streetwise +4, Thievery +1, Athletics -1

Level 1: Arcane Initiate

Arcane Initiate: Winged Horde
Dilettante: Beguiling Strands
Order Adept: Argent Rain
Warlock at-will Eldritch Blast: Eldritch Strike
Warlock at-will Hand of Blight
Warlock encounter 1: Shadow Tentacles
Warlock daily 1: Star Shackles

Adventurer's Kit, Leather Armor, Staff Implement, Potion of Healing (heroic tier)

Mylistra, level 1
Drow, Cleric
Cleric: Battle Cleric's Lore
Background: Fugitive from a Vengeful Rival (Fugitive from a Vengeful Rival Benefit)
Theme: Secret Apostate

Str 8, Con 12, Dex 16, Int 11, Wis 18, Cha 14.

Str 8, Con 12, Dex 14, Int 11, Wis 16, Cha 14.

AC: 17 Fort: 11 Reflex: 13 Will: 16
HP: 24 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 6

Religion +5, Heal +9, Insight +9, Bluff +8, Stealth +11

Acrobatics +3, Arcana, Diplomacy +2, Dungeoneering +4, Endurance +1, History, Intimidate +4, Nature +4, Perception +4, Streetwise +2, Thievery +3, Athletics -1

Cleric: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Acolyte of the Veil

Channel Divinity: Healer's Mercy
Channel Divinity: Favor of the Gods
Secret Apostate: Apostate's Freedom
Cleric at-will 1: Gaze of Defiance
Cleric at-will 1: Sehanine's Reprisal (Sonnlinor's Hammer)
Lolthtouched: Cloud of Darkness
Cleric encounter 1: Cause Fear
Cleric daily 1: Moment of Glory

Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Holy Symbol, Leather Armor, Dagger (2), Disguise, Mystic Salves (Heal) (10), Ki Focus
Brew Potion, Comrades' Succor

Nemo, level 1
Halfling, Rogue
Rogue Tactics: Artful Dodger
Rogue: Rogue Weapon Talent
Background: River Smuggler (River Smuggler Benefit)
Theme: Child of Sorrow (Son of Alogondar)

Str 12, Con 12, Dex 20, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14.

Str 12, Con 12, Dex 18, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12.

AC: 17 Fort: 11 Reflex: 17 Will: 12
HP: 24 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 6

Stealth +10, Thievery +12, Athletics +7, Bluff +7, Streetwise +8, Acrobatics +12

Arcana -1, Diplomacy +2, Dungeoneering, Endurance +1, Heal, History -1, Insight, Intimidate +2, Nature, Perception, Religion -1

Level 1: Cunning Stalker

Child of Sorrow (Son of Alogondar): Low Blow
Rogue at-will 1: Acrobatic Strike
Rogue at-will 1: Sly Flourish
Rogue encounter 1: Acrobat's Blade Trick
Rogue daily 1: Duelist's Prowess

Adventurer's Kit, Leather Armor, Dagger (3), Thieves' Tools, Faerie Puppet

Toriq, level 1
Half-Orc, Warden
Guardian Might: Wildblood
Background: Forest Warden (Forest Warden Benefit)
Theme: Guardian (of the Ruby Spire)

Str 18, Con 13, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.

Str 16, Con 13, Dex 11, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.

AC: 18 Fort: 15 Reflex: 13 Will: 14
HP: 30 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 7

Nature +9, Endurance +5, Perception +9, Athletics +6, Dungeoneering +8

Acrobatics -2, Arcana, Bluff -1, Diplomacy -1, Heal +3, History, Insight +3, Intimidate +1, Religion, Stealth -2, Streetwise -1, Thievery -2

Level 1: Warrior of the Wild

Guardian: Guardian's Counter
Warden at-will 1: Weight of Earth
Warden at-will 1: Thorn Strike
Warden encounter 1: Wildblood Frenzy
Warden daily 1: Form of Winter's Herald

Adventurer's Kit, Hide Armor, Heavy Shield, Longsword, Climber's Kit, Javelin (3)
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The men who came to Juniper House, bearing torches and reeking of drink and arrogance, clearly were sent by the Sheriff of Ravenswood, though they were more armed hooligans than sanctioned posse. Stern words from Jendi and Toriq's threatening presence drove them off before they could cause real mischief, or worse, but it's clear it's time to get out of Dodge, at least temporarily. The men mentioned Elena by name, and it's clear her father will no longer brook the soothsaying and more Mylistra has provided his daughter. The men will be back, looking for a time when Jendi and, especially, Toriq cannot offer their protection.

What's more, the men had spoken of a new logging operation planned for the Chestnut Grove! The Sheriff must be hiring loggers to do his dirty work now.

So under the darkness of before dawn, the three residents of Juniper House, along with young Nemo, who raced from the docks with forewarning of the coming threat, are faced with a decision how to proceed.

Do you head into Ravenswood (stealthily, perhaps in disguise? in direct confrontation? in some other fashion and with some other plan?) to try and help Elena escape her domineering father, the Sheriff, and risk making powerful enemies? Or do you try to put a stop to the logging industry's incursion into the Chestnut Grove, where Dryope makes her home and where each felled tree is a physical blow to her being? If the latter, what will be your approach (ambush and perhaps combat? frightening off the loggers somehow? beseeching the Guildmaster directly to change his plan?)?

Or do you have something else in mind entirely? What do you do?

Whatever you choose here will have mechanical impact down the road: the conflict you choose first (even if it's not related to any of the 2 situations above), as it develops, will be at-level, and the ensuing conflict will be level +2.


Mylistra exchanges worried glances with her mentor: it seems that Elena's situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Juniper grimaces and says wryly, "Davos must truly need that alliance his daughter's marriage will make. Otherwise, he would never send thugs to threaten my house. He holds too strongly to his long-held... shall we call it respect? ... for my gifts otherwise. Perhaps caution - at the moment - would be prudent."

Her apprentice nods her head reluctantly, then turns to look at Toriq and asks a question of her friend.

The warden, lost in thought, fails to hear herself being addressed at first. But the second inquiry catches her attention. "Apologies, sister of my heart, what was your question?"

Mylistra repeats her query, asking if Toriq has heard news from her beloved Dryope. Frown lines deepen on the warden's face as she shakes her head. "I should have heard from her yesterday morning, but ... nothing. No birds, no messenger, only silence. I was already thinking I should check in with her, but now ..."

Her brother quickly looks up from the notes and maps he's been studying for what seems like weeks, even if he's only returned to Juniper House a mere three nights ago.

"Of course you should go! I'll come with you!" Jendi says as he hastily stuffs everything into his satchel.

This, he thinks to himself, is precisely the opportunity I've been looking for! At least one of the legends points in this direction!

The young halfling looks from one face to another to another, these tall folk, kin to his new Elven friend, potential allies? Perhaps his aiding them will bear the fruit of aid for his cause?

"How may I be of service?" Nemo asks of no one in particular.

We're going to head to where the logging road approaches the Chestnut Grove and if we can frighten the loggers off.
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Okay, it sounds like we've found our first conflict! This sounds like a Skill Challenge, Frighten off the Loggers, L1, C2 (6 Successes before 3 Failures; DCs 8/12/19, 1 Hard DC, 2 Secondary Skills, repeat use of same skill steps up DC Easy -> Moderate -> Hard -> Hard +5). Stakes: Success means the loggers will refuse to return to the Chestnut Grove; Failure means they double down and combat, potentially lethal, ensues, such is their fear of the Guildmaster's reprisal.

It is not much past dawn at the border of Dryope's Grove when the loggers first make their approach. The light is still dim, morning not penetrating the thick canopy above with much efficacy. Sounds travel far and echo. Hoots and screeches, weird chitterings and the low whistle of the wind through the dry leaves of the branches emanate from everywhere and nowhere.

The logging party's advance trailblazers, a grizzled woodsman and his teenage son, by the looks of him, are primed for ... something. Their heads turn warily this way and that, and they whisper together fearfully, the father holding his torch before him like a sword at the ready. Clearly, they haven't seen you yet. Behind them, still a quarter-mile off by the sound of it, though sound travels strangely in this place, the logging train proper can be heard laughing and quarreling as folk do to keep their spirits up.

What do you do? This is a Moderate DC (12).


At the sound of the two figures approaching, Mylistra immediately lifts her hand and closes it into a fist, causing Nemo to stop immediately, soon followed by Toriq and her brother. The cleric then lifts her finger to her lips, indicating a need for silence, before pointing out the two men cautiously moving along.

Jendi's eyes gleam as his lips quirk into a smile full of mischief.

* Group Primary Skill Stealth check: Mylistra +11, Nemo +10 = Autosuccess vs. 8 Easy DC

1 Success/0 Failures


"Father, what was that?!?" the boy asks in fright. At first you think he has spotted one of you, but then Toriq sees it: a spider as large as an adult bear moving through the overhead branches; not far from the woodsman and his son; clearly in search of a tasty morsel. It will likely have one, too, for the pair before you has stopped cold in their advance, directly below the beast. And they haven't noticed it above them, maneuvering its pedipalps along a branch in preparation for a leap!

This is the Hard DC, 19. Failure would mean we shift to combat against the spider (unless you allow the spider its meal, which would bring the rest of the logging train immediately into the scene in response). If you choose an attack power of some kind rather than a Skill check, use 17 for AC (Soldier)/13 for NAD to resolve the attack.


MYLISTRA, reaching up with one hand to clasp the moonstone pendant around her neck, bares her teeth and thrusts her other hand out in a gesture of repulsion.

The teenaged boy gives a cry of terror and turns around, running back in the direction they they have just come from, his father's hand reaching unsuccessfully to halt his retreat.

* Mylistra casts Cause Fear (Enc) vs. Teenaged Boy: r(9) + 4 + 2 Encounter Power = 15 vs 13 NAD, Success

2 Successes/0 Failures
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"Hansel, wait! Come back!" The woodsman chases after the lad, his torch jumping erratically up and down like a bobber on a fishing line that's done its business.

The spider, however, seems none too pleased. It turns three pairs of lambent red eyes in your party's direction and begins to scuttle forward, clearly set on a replacement meal!

You still have that Hard DC to beat. Or you can go with another attack power vs 17/13 for Success vs Moderate.


TORIQ leans down to murmur in her brother's ear, something about the common fears of spiders that might give them some insight into keeping them at bay.

JENDI, thinking quickly about what he may hold in his "bag of tricks," stares directly at the enormous arachnid with a menacing grin. Then, he begins to swirl his hands around each other, creating an ominous ball of crackling black sparks within them.

  • Toriq makes a Secondary Skill Nature check: +9 = Autosuccess vs 8 Easy DC for a +2 bonus for
  • Jendi uses Hand of Blight to make a Primary Skill Intimidate check to scare off the Spider: r(5) + 9 + 2 = 16 vs. 19 Hard DC, Failure

2 Successes/1 Failure
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