Monday, July 4, 2011

A Ghoul's Plight

My 6-year-old decided he wanted to try D&D again. He had tried when he was 5, playing along with his brother who is a couple years older. It was a bit much for him to follow along with, and he couldn't read so it really held him back.

So, to let him try again, I dusted off his dwarven cleric named Adrik, printed off some power cards that he could read himself, and put together a scenario.

The setup was this: Adrik was passing through a small town, and settling own to an evening of ale and storytelling. As he finishes a story, a local tells him about an old woodcutter who has been having trouble in his woods - something about pests among the trees keeping him from being able to collect his wood.

Not one to turn away from a plea for help, Adrik follows the dirt path through the forest. He arrives as the afternoon is starting its transition into evening at a wooden house amongst the trees. Using the end of his war hammer to rap on the door, an old voice calls him inside.

In the far corner sits a grey old man. The two share an exchange that informs Adrik of the pests in the woods. Wild animals that attack whenever he tries to go out far enough to collect wood. He tells Adrik that there's a clearing just beyond the line of trees. It is there that he has been attacked. The old man promises whatever valuables he has as a reward.

Adrik finds the opening and confidently but quietly heads into the clearing. Ready for some wolves or some such beast, he acts as though he was there to chop wood, trying to anticipate any attack. As the evenings light fades, Adrik turns to leave, disappointed at the calmness of the forest. It is then, as Adrik lowers his hammer and begins to head for the path through the trees back to the house, that he catches a glimpse of motion from the ground.

Boney fingers begin wriggling through the dirt, eventually punching through the surface and pulling skeletal frames through the earth. Within moments, Adrik finds himself surrounded by clattering bones of skeletal warriors. Most clutch bones as crude clubs, though behind him stands a sturdy skeleton clad in rusted armor and wielding a sword of well worn metal.

It turns out Adrik was a born skeleton destroyer. It was only due to the sheer number of undead foes that Adrik breaks a sweat. In the end, Adrik stood among piles of crushed bones. Were these the things that were attacking the old man? Adrik heads back to the house to inform him of what has transpired.

The old man is visibly surprised when Adrik returns. Adrik begins to explain what happened, but the old man's expression changes from surprise to rage. As he rises from his chair, Adrik is caught off guard at the strength the old man exhibits. It's then that Adrik notices the mans eyes - no longer cloudy and grey, they burn with a yellowish anger. His fingers are tipped with razor-like nails. This is no ordinary old man.

It turns out the old woodsman was killed and eaten by a ghoul. The ghoul was possessing the remains of his victims, using them to help capture more flesh on which he would feed. Adrik was never meant to survive the attack. The ghoul attempts to finish Adrik off himself, though the cleric is able to trade blows and eventually overpower the creature.

In the end, bloodied and tired, Adrik returns to the ale house he left that afternoon, and had another pint of ale. Much as the adventure began, he found himself relating another heroic tale to whomever would listen.

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