Background – My DM is a bit unhinged. And when he runs a campaign we have a habit of being dragged through hell and run into and (usually) through the depths of madness. This is the story of one such campaign. A D&D 5E campaign with several subsystems either lifted from elsewhere or created by my DM. These include sanity (with associated score), rumormongering, and sieges. The campaign takes place in real world 1930 Arkham, Mass, and the Dream World connected to ours. Our characters were orphans and ranged from ages 5 – 12 (my character) for the more freeform character sheetless real world sections. They took on personas while in the Dreamworld, the crunchier character sheeted portions of the game took over. Enough babble, on to the story!
2 August 1930
Today was a strange day. I decided to climb the wall again, just because I could and because I needed to get away from the other orphans. Being 12 and having no prospective parents wanting to adopt you makes life very sad. When the others are always clamoring for attention, it really gets to you, you know? So I climbed over the wall, ready to head into Arkham proper. Luckily none of the officers that know I'm an orphan were on route today or I would have been sent back to the orphanage right quick. While exploring I found a bunch of flyers for a technology demo in an old, I guess almost abandoned, theater. So I went.
A lot people that still had some form of money were able to go inside, they had fancy clothes and proper hats! When I saw that they were producing tickets I knew I wouldn't be able to go in the front door. I tried to be the same as my favorite detective, Mr. Troy. He would sometimes tell me his stories about his work when he would catch me and send me back to the orphanage. Now we have a game where I try to follow him and see if he'll notice me. Usually he does and I get sent back. Anyway, I went to the back of the theater and crawled behind some stacked boards and trash. Unfortunately it all fell on the ground in a big Crash! Lucky for me no one was back there, and a door was even unlocked!
I made my way inside and climbed up to the rafters where some of the equipment was kept. I sat myself down, wishing I could go and get some of the snacks that the rich people brought in with them. Then a large man appeared in a puff of smoke onstage! I thought this was about technology, not magic! He had olive skin, was covered in nice perfumes, and had a shiny, shiny beard. He was also wearing a turbin and sounded like he was from a different country. Maybe Arabia? I don't know other countries that well. On stage with him were a bunch of different metal machines.
There were two large towers with round things on top of them, and when the man threw a lever they exploded with lightning! The lightning kept dancing between the two towers, and made funny noises depending on the different things he threw between the towers. The crowd was real excited for that. Then he showed us more, a lot more! He showed us a television without antennas, a box that melted stuff real quick, and even floating metal plates! He set them up then flipped another switch and he used them as a staircase! I was worried for that one because he climbed so high up he was only a little below me when he stopped and started descending again. Then came the finishing act, a machine that made a funny noise and a bunch of swirly lights. Then he spoke, what seemed like for the first time. His voice was rich, and deep, but soft, like velvet. He told everyone to start heading underground, where his master needed their help. I scratched my head, it seemed a strange thing to do, but then the audience did it! They all started heading downstairs. I ignored them and paid attention to his machines again. But then I remembered what he said, and felt like going underground was the right thing to do.
Lucky for me his plates were still up and I was able to use those to get down. I didn't even feel scared slowly climbing down from plate to plate. I must have made a noise when I hit the stage because the man turned around and looked at me. "Hello little one," he said. I could feel him looking me over as I started toward the door, but before I got more than two feet he put his hand on my shoulder and stopped me. "You are very special young man. I think your help would best be used elsewhere." Then he reached out and poked me in the forehead with his index finger. Darkness…
I woke up and found myself in a big leather chair, the smell of cigar smoke and mothballs hanging in the air. Across a large desk from me was a big man, rotund almost, with a big bushy walrus mustache. He greeted me but didn't tell me his name, so I didn't tell him mine. After inquiring as to why I was here and where I was he informed me I was in the Dreamlands. We talked for a little while before he got to the point of why I was here. I was special and was able to visit these Dreamlands. So were some of the others that I knew, but they were already in the Dreamlands and I might meet up with them later. He told me we were supposed to do something important. The gods in the Dreamlands were gone, they disappeared and no one was able to find out why or where they went. It was up to us to do so. I could smell a mystery so I held out my hand, quickly engulfed with his own, and shook saying we were on the case. Finally, a real mystery! He sent me into another room where one of the gods, Hypnos, managed to make contact with this part of the realm, saying he had questions for me.
After going to that other room Hypnos asked me a series of questions, seven of them I think. Every question seemed to be simple, who my hero was, what I wanted to be. Then the last question, which I didn't really understand. This god asked me, "What did your face look like before you were born." That one really made my brain itch and hurt. I remembered something from our schoolings, about evolution and we came from something else? So I answered "Scalie," then fell asleep again.
Date Unknown, Location Unknown
I woke again to observe my surroundings, my tongue flicking out to taste the air. I appear to be in a prison cell, though this one is sized for someone 10 times my size, as are the furnishings within and without it. The bars are so large I can just step outside without effort, my equipment a familiar weight as I move outside. I gnash my teeth and flex my arms, assured of the strength in my jaws and scales, then check my swords, tools, and gear is all in place. I observe my surroundings closer, seeing a mousehole, large enough for me to escape through, a writing desk, chair, and giant door leading out. Instead of heading for immediate freedom I decide to observe what I can through the door. Somehow I got my head under the jamb but couldn't get my shoulders through, so I just called out for a response. "Hello. Is anyone out there?"
I was shocked when a response came back asking for help. I couldn't see where the voice originated from location but could see that it was another room filled with giant furniture, and a giant hearth as well. The voice asked for my name and my response came out automatically, "Korth Greenscale, at your service." A bit of a shock for me, but it felt right, as everything has since awakening again. Promising to help I pulled my head from the jamb and started coming up with a plan. The closest I came up with was to move the chair in the office close to the door to open it up. It took some muscle, but I was able to get it over there. Unfortunately the door was locked. I pulled my short swords from my belt and had a rough time jimmying the lock open using them as a set of thieves' tools like the regular size set on my belt.
The door swung open and I was able to get to the other room finally. Heading out, swords at the ready in case of attack, I turned a blind corner and saw who had been calling for me. A woman, about 20 years of age had been calling for help from a cage built for people our size, though looking at it it seemed as though it were a giant sized mouse trap. Along with her were 14 other humans, ranging from ages of 7 or 8 to 16 or so.
There were also three goblins, two of which kept their backs to me at all times. The third was rather strange looking, wearing a bandit mask and a pair of the most colorful socks I've ever seen. He was wearing a potato sack and had a hole for his raccoon tail as well. The woman I discovered was named Brenda, and she was the impromptu leader of this group of humans by dint of being the oldest. I quickly opened the three cages, and had the strange goblin talking to me almost immediately. Turns out he calls himself Socks, because of his fancy socks.
Brenda was worried about the giant that had captured them all, saying they were from some place called Brettonia and wanted to go back, but didn't know how to escape. I explained there was a mouse hole in the next room that looked promising for moving through the walls but to move everyone in front of it while I explored. Socks volunteered to go with me, collecting a small selection of rocks for throwing, before saying he would look for an exit. He ran ahead of me and came back saying there was a giant rat in the wall and he couldn't get past it. I handed him a spare dagger and went into the hole asking where he had seen it.
He pointed in the direction and I started traveling that way, soon coming to a small warren and the rat, which was chewing on something bloody. I immediately set upon it with my short swords, cutting into its mangy hide and dropping it at my feet. I asked Socks if he had seen any more while watching ahead of us. His answer of "Nope!" followed by a scream was less than reassuring. Turning back I saw another rat had snuck up behind him. In the small space I couldn't reach the rat, so I called for him to get behind me while I faced off with the beast. It managed to nip me with its nasty teeth, luckily they failed to break through my tough green scales. I responded by stabbing it in the chest and biting it myself, ripping into its throat and allowing its vitality to fill me.
Confidence overflowing I decided we should explore further. We followed the direction the second rat had come from and found ourselves ascending, leading up to the rafters in an enormous room. Peeking around the corner I saw a large mushroom man, and several smaller white blobby men hanging out on the rafter. After describing them to Socks he said we should avoid them, they gave off a bad smell and filled lungs with spores. I agreed with his sentiment and traveled back down to the ground floor. We took the other direction, going through the warren where the first rat was killed and found ourselves in a small area with water running under us and enormous spider webs nearby. Looking carefully we could see the two spiders who had laid the traps. Deciding to pull them into the tunnels where we could fight them one on one I asked Socks to throw a stone at the first spider.
We drew its ire and retreated, facing it in the tight confines of the tunnel where I was sure my short stabbing blades would give me an advantage. I was right…mostly. Socks continued to pelt it with rocks from behind me, injuring its eyes and allowing me to get several good stabs on its thorax. Its response was enthusiastic as it bit at me, poison dripping from its mandibles. At one juncture it wrapped them around my calf, crushing it and leaving a fierce bruise I was sure. I managed to end the fight shortly after, but winded and wounded I asked Socks if he had any experience as a healer. When he replied negatively I suggested we get that last spider out of the way.
Our lure worked a second time, perhaps too well as this spider was angry. I barely managed to stab it once before it jumped on me, knocking me to the ground and flicking one of my blades away. I pounded at its head with my closed fists, but it sank its mandibles deep into my less protected stomach, piercing through the scales and filling me with its venom. I blacked out from the pain and poisonous ichor flowing through my veins.
I came to with Brenda hanging over me, my stomach fully healed and the poison in a pile of my vomit close by. I don't know what Socks did to save my hide, but he gave me back my short sword and went to go wring out his potato sack, mask, and socks of the ichor left by the spider. After thanking Brenda profusely I got back to my feet, a large scar across my abdomen and a distinctive distaste for spiders my trophies from the battle. I found the carcasses and quickly broke off pieces of its carapace to forge into a quick shield for Socks as thanks. To get over the running water I headed back to the giant office, shovel in hand. Using it like an axe I broke of a large splinter of the wood from the chair to use as a bridge. Using it to cross the water Socks and I found another hole in the wall that allowed us to peek into the next room.
In it was a giant throne, and in that throne was a Giant! I now understood who owned this place. Making obeisance to him were a dozen strange pale creatures, of my own size, perhaps a bit larger. They were grossly rotund with skinny arms and legs, tiny tentacle like appendages coming out of their faces about where their mouths should be. Something primal in me snarled in fear, wanting to destroy these abominations, though I didn't know why. Even stranger than their appearance was their speech, a high pitched buzzing whine that made sense if you cocked your head the right way. They were negotiating with the Giant for witches he had captured from Brettonia.
They offered "Moon Gems", pearls and rubies the size of my chest for 15 'brides'. Shuddering I listened as they bargained back and forth, trying to make sense of everything. It appears these gems are useful for capturing magical enchantment and the giant was looking to make rings of power for himself. When their business concluded the Giant indicated the moon men should remain in the throne room while he obtained the prisoners for the trade. Fear bolting through me I rushed back to Brenda and the other witches, nearly falling into the water until Socks helped pull me up.
"Brenda! Call the others into the mousehole, now! The Giant is coming!"
The only way through the other room was by confronting the moon men, and I'd rather not have the witches be in their clutches, so I decided we had to go and confront the mushrooms from the ceiling rafters instead. Rushing up the wall and into the rafters the mushrooms were still there, and as I stepped out they started surrounding me, though they seemed more curious than hostile. Instead of drawing my blade forth or my lips back I indicated, as quickly as I could through mime work, for them to back off. The largest mushroom man in the back seemed to understand and called the others back, allowing us safe passage. I stood at the hole into the wall, ushering everyone else forward. Socks and Brenda led the way across the rafters to another hole in the opposite wall, and as the final witches were through I heard through the wall, "WHERE ARE MY PRISONERS?! FEE FI FO FUM! I SMELL THE BLOOD OF A LIZARD MAN! I WILL FIND YOU SCALED ONE!" Fear again bolted through my bones as I rushed to the other side of the rafters and through the mouse hole. I wound up at the front of the group and led the way, glancing back every so often to check that everyone was still with the group.
The mouse hole led to the outside of the…castle I soon found out. What stopped me was the sheer drop off the side. Looking down led to a moment of vertigo as the only thing below me was…cloud. The white puffy stuff rolled beneath us, as though the castle were floating high in the sky. Unsure of what to do I froze. Socks, more brave, or more foolish than myself, immediately leapt down I turned, watching the first friend I made in this world plummet to his doom. Until he landed on the cloud, bouncing twice and calling for us all to follow him down. I immediately leapt, and after I landed safely was able to convince Brenda and the rest of the prisoners to follow Socks' example.
With everyone out of the castle we started looking for ways to escape, as the sounds of Giant feet could be heard just on the other side of the large structure. Brenda was the one who pointed out a green stalk, just over our height, and slowly moving along the cloudy ground. Taking that as our only chance we rushed to it. It was a long way down, but I asked Socks to lead the way as I could see the Giant turning the corner toward us. Socks started climbing down as the cloud the castle was situated on continued to float on, slowly leaving the beanstalk alone in the air. I held back, ensuring the rest of the group started making it down before climbing myself. We got lucky, the cloud was too far away from the stalk by the time the Giant reached us, his cursing loud as thunder, and twice as striking.
Reaching the ground we found we were in an abandoned farmstead. Socks and I started exploring the house and reached the kitchen when we heard voices…