Narrator: This is Part 1 of Episode 2 of the critically acclaimed (by YOU guys) DnD story, “Dads, Daughters, and DND.” Be sure to check out the first episode before watching this one. The link is given below in the description.
First, a brief recap of the last episode.
The main characters are myself, the DM; my daughter, Selana, a Bard, who plays an innocently naive Elven Princess that is a bit on the shallow side.
Her first quest was to find out what happened to the people of Dinmoor, a small mining town in the forest. She found the town empty except for the goblin, Bagle. She followed him and discovered Bagle and his goblin companions were facing utter horror at the hands of their tyrannical overlord, Morg. They are convinced by Selana to rebel against the tyrant. However, upon finding out that goblins are ugly little creatures, the superficial Princess turned her back on them and left them to die. Bagle was more emotionally hurt by the betrayal than his mangling at the hands of the Morg. A necromancer finds Bagle and revives him, now he is hell bent on revenge. But what awaits her in this episode?
DM: And so Selana the Superficial leaves the small mining town of Dinmoor behind her as she looks for adventure on the horizon.
Selana: I don’t like that.
DM: Like what?
Selana: I know what superficial means. And I don’t like it.
DM: Alright then, Princess Selana, what would you like to do now?
Selana: What are my options?
DM: Well there is the road to the north which is where you came from originally. That will take you back to your home. And there is a road to the south. You remember seeing on a map that there is a giant swamp to the south. It is mostly unexplored but rumor has it that hidden within the swamp is a trove of magical items which are guarded by hideous swamp monsters.
Selana: Magical items . . . (thinking) Like a magical bow, maybe?
DM: You remember a story told to you when you were a little girl – about Teyus the Hunter. He had a bow forged from a fallen star that shot arrows of fire. He came to the swamp to slay a terrible black dragon and never returned. No one knows what happened to Teyus or the black dragon.
Selana: Then it’s settled! I’m going to the swamp to find the bow!
DM: Wonderful! The walk is long and a little boring. The trees begin to change from towering pines to smaller, more scraggly trees. They become twisted and bent; the limbs reach out across the road, making it feel cramped and tight. The air grows heavy and humid. And a pungent, rotting smell assaults your nose.
Selana: Ugh, gross!
DM: The road that was hard packed dirt is getting squishy beneath your boots, as the texture of the ground starts to turn to mud.
Selana: These were my new boots too.
DM: From the twisted and tangled trees you hear a sharp high pitched squeal.
Selana: Does it sound mad or scared?
DM: Definitely scared. Through the dense thicket of trees and scraggly bush you can see a small creature, with what looks like a wide round hat, running toward you.
Selana: Can I see if something is chasing it?
DM: Lumbering behind the small creature is something out of a nightmare. It’s draped in thick wet seaweed-like plants cascading down its body from its head. Long arms that are made up of thick vines grasp for the small creature, narrowly missing it. The little creature looks over its shoulder with wide terror filled eyes.
Selana: I pull out my bow and fire an arrow into the monster!
DM: The arrow flies true and slams into the creature’s shoulder. It reels in pain and bellows out a frustrated earth shaking roar. Red eyes glare at you from beneath wet strands of plant matter and muck. It watches its prey wiggle through a wall of twisted tree roots that it knows it can’t fit through. It roars again in frustration and lumbers back into the waters of the swamp, slowly sinking beneath the black water and disappearing.
Selana: Come here. I’m not gonna hurt you. I put my bow away and show the small creature my open hands. It’s okay.
DM: The creature moves toward you cautiously. As it gets closer you see that it isn’t wearing a hat, but it’s a two foot tall mushroom with large round eyes that look up at you with distrust yet gratitude.
Selena: It’s okay. Come here, little guy. What’s your name?
Sporill: Sporill – (pronounced Spore-ull)
Selana: Hi there. I’m Princess Selana.
DM: He is still watching you skeptically, like he is waiting for you to attack him.
Selana: I want to convince him that I’m good. Maybe he would like a snack?
DM: You have some dried meat in your bag.
Selana: Mushrooms don’t eat meat.
DM: Oh? Then what do mushrooms eat?
Selana: (long pause) Do you want some jerky? I get a strip out of my bag and hold it out for him.
DM: You see two small slits in between his large round eyes flare at the smell of the salted meat you’re holding in your hand. He edges forward, his small white hand extended. In a burst of motion he snatches the meat out of your hand and gobbles it up.
Selana: Aww. I guess mushrooms do eat meat. Who knew? Do you want another piece?
DM: Sporill’s purple spotted cap bounces up and down as he nods his head vigorously.
Selana: I hand him another piece and ask him, “What was that creature that was chasing you? And why was he doing so?”
Sporill: *cat like hiss* I don’t know what it is, but it has been taking my people! I found their village at the center of the swamp to rescue my friends, but I was spotted. If it wasn’t for your help I would have been eaten for sure.
DM: His face splits in an almost impossibly wide smile and he throws his small rubbery arms around your legs and squeezes.
Sporill: Thank you.
Selana: Maybe these are the swamp monsters that are guarding the magical bow?
DM: Maybe . . .
Sporill: I want to show my gratitude for saving me. Please come with me to my village. I know my people would want to meet such a brave and heroic young Princess.
DM: He reaches out and takes your hand in his, and gently tugs.
Selana: I’ll follow him to his village. Maybe they will have more answers about these monsters and the treasure.
DM: Sporill leads you further down the muddy road before he veers off onto a narrow path that divides two large murky ponds. Large lily pads float over the dark water, insects flit to and fro, and reeds sway in a light humid breeze. A small fish jumps out of the water to snatch a fly out of mid-air. The swamp is teeming with life.
Selana: Your home is wonderful. Well, except for the smell. I wrinkle my nose and laugh.
Sporill: (derisive snort - scoff) It isn’t like this everywhere. Something has been happening. Those... things have been happening.
DM: As he guides further down the winding path through the swamp, you notice less and less creatures: less insects flying around, less fish swimming in the ponds. The plants are marred with black spots. Another mile passes and the plants are withered, shriveled black husks. Disease has consumed this part of the swamp. The original smell of the swamp that you had become accustomed to has been replaced with the septic smell of death and rot.
Selana: This is . . . terrible.
DM: Sporill doesn’t respond. He just stares directly ahead and marches toward a cluster of buildings constructed out of rotting logs and swamp reeds. Small clusters of mushrooms sprout from rotting logs. As you reach the village proper, you can feel eyes watching you.
Sporill: It’s okay everyone, come out.
DM: Slowly, small mushroom creatures poke their heads out of the small reed huts. They all watch you cautiously, unsure of what to think about the tall beautiful elven woman following Sporill.
Selana: How do they look? Other than scared.
DM: Thin. And hungry. Sporill notices you and follows your gaze.
Sporill: It has been hard to get food with those creatures out there. I’m not sure how much longer we can last . . .
Selana: How much food do I have?
DM: You have enough food for yourself for three days. It’s mostly dried meat, dried fruit, some elvish bread, and some water.
Selana: Here. I hand him the dried meat for him to give and hand out as best he can.
Sporill: You‘re too generous, my Lady!
DM: The mushrooms share the strips of dried meat and a glimmer of hope shows on their little round faces.
Selana: I’m going to rescue your friends and family and put a stop to these horrible monsters!
DM: A small cheer erupts from the mushrooms, a few even do a little dance at your proclamation.
Selana: Show me where the village is. (Cold and confident – steely)
DM: Sporill is taken aback by the tone of your voice and nods quickly. As he leads you away from the village back through the dying plants, you notice that there are no animals at all. You would expect to see dead fish floating in the brackish ponds.
Selana: Sporill, what happened to the fish?
Sporill: We gathered them up and buried them. One of my kins ate one and got terribly ill.
DM: He answered your question very quickly. Like he had been expecting that question.
Sporill: Shhh we need to be quiet from here on forward. This is their territory now . . .
DM: In the distance you can hear something large wading through swamp water.
Selana: I want to sneak and see if I can avoid the monster.
DM: You slip low in the cold water, deftly moving away from the monster. You can see it roughly 100 yards away plunging its arms into the water and fishing around the bottom for something. It is too distracted by what it’s doing to notice you.
Sporill: The village is that way.
DM: You follow Sporill’s gesture. In the center of a large pond on a large flat island is a cluster of trees. The trunks twist around each other forming a gigantic knotted tree its massive root system spreads into the waters on the edge of the island. The trees tower overhead, blocking out the sun. The sudden drop in temperature sends a chill deep into your bones. And just inside the twisting knot of roots, you can see a number of small cages made from vines with mushroom creatures trapped inside.
Selana: I’m going in. You stay here and keep a lookout. If things don’t go well, I will try to lead the monsters away so you can sneak in and free your friends.
Sporill: Good luck.
Selana: I sneak forward in the water.
DM: The pond is pretty shallow, the water never getting higher than your neck. Your feet slip a little on the muddy bottom and something slimy brushes up against your back.
Selana: Ugghh! I keep going as fast as I can while trying to be quiet.
DM: You come out of the water, your boots covered in black mud that squish loudly with each step you take. A small black and yellow spotted salamander has also managed to hitch a ride on your shoulder. But other than the salamander you don’t think anything has noticed you yet.
Selana: I’m going to rush to the cages and set the mushroom people free.
DM: You get to the cages, surprising the mushrooms. They whimper in fear and back away from you.
Selana: Don’t worry, I’m gonna get you out of here.
DM: The cages don’t have locks but instead thick vines that have grown together, locking the door of the cages.
Selana: I guess I’ll need to cut the vines, then. I draw my sword and swing.
DM: Your sword hits the vines with a loud THWACK that echoes among the twisting roots and trunks of the trees. With one blow you manage to nearly sever the vines though.
Selana: I swing again!
DM: The sword slices through the vine, the cage door swings open easily. But a loud, terrible roar turns your ahead away from the cage. Red eyes lock onto you from across the pond. It lurches forward into the pond, headed directly for you.
Selana: I try to cut through the rest of the cages as fast as I can.
DM: There are three more cages; each one will take two swings. You might be able to cut them all open before it reaches you.
Selana: Alright, I’ll keep swinging.
DM: Chop after chop, and you cut the cages open. The mushroom people scurry out past you with squeaky words of thanks. The monster is lumbering through the water, quickly closing the distance between you and it. It belts out a terrible roar as it watches its captives escape into the swamp. There is one cage left. Cut it open, run, or fight?
Selana: I put everything into my swing.
DM: Your blade slices through the vine, cutting it in two with one swing!
Selana: I help the mushroom out and turn to the swamp creature and shout, “Hah! I bet you taste like kale! Gross!”
Selana: Yeah, it's disgusting. I know you don’t like the smoothies mom makes.
DM: . . . Don’t tell your mother! The monster reels back, clutching the sides of its head as it takes 3 psychic damage. Vines shoot out of its arms, trying to ensnare you, but you easily avoid the clumsy vines.
Selana: Hah! I turn and run!
DM: You take off, nimbly jumping on logs and small patches of ground, clearing the pond in a few graceful leaps. You are standing on a log on the edge of the pond; thick bush blocks your way that you will need to jump over.
Selana: I stick my tongue out at the monster then jump over the bush.
DM: Your feet land squarely in soft mud that hungrily sucks your legs in. You try to move your legs which only forces them to sink lower and lower in the quicksand. The swamp monster looms over you; its red eyes stare down at you as you helplessly struggle in the quicksand. Vines slowly grow from the ends of its arms and wrap themselves around your body. They start to squeeze tighter and tighter; it's becoming increasingly difficult to breath. You can smell the creature’s foul breath as it closes in on you. There is no escaping this . . .
The necromancer and Bagle step into the swamp. Animals turn their noses at the stench of death and flee to their homes.
Bagle smells the humid swamp air. He knows she was here recently...