My best friend and I started playing D&D together about 2 years ago, and after growing tired of the excessive and limiting rules at the one-shot game nights of the game store we’d been going to, we along with a few friends we made there decided to start a homebrew campaign. My best friend took the role of DM, with the rest of us playing a halfling rogue named Cade, a half-orc paladin named Bonk, a Tiefling barbarian named Grey, and myself as a half-elf ranger named Siren.
First a little preface, and I promise this is all relevant to the main story. The basic plot of this campaign is that we are in a pre-magic world, where there has always been basic cantrip abilities but the discovery of actual real, powerful magic is fairly new and being studied and explored for the first time. Many people are fascinated by magic and in support of everyone having access to it, but many are afraid or want the power of magic to themselves and are vying to prohibit it from public use. The main antagonist is – naturally – a power hungry green dragon who wants the magic all to himself. All of our characters have interesting and unique quirks that our DM built the story line around, mine being that Siren was raised by a lone female brass dragon named Keeva, hidden deep in a valley surrounded by a heavily fey inhabited forest. Siren truly believes that she is a dragon who just happens to be a runt with a breath weapon that never fully developed, because Keeva told her such to avoid the hardship of telling her the truth. This truth is that Siren’s real mother – a full elf who lost her human husband to illness – sought out the antagonist Vinidicus after hearing rumors of his magic, hoping that he could grant her child the same longevity of life that elves have so that she wouldn’t have to bury her daughter like she did her husband. She pleaded to him that ‘my child not die before me’, and being the twisted, evil monster that he was, killed the elf and took the baby, cruelly granting the elf her wish in dying first. Keeva, who’d had run-ins with Vinidicus before, discovered him with the child, and enraged over what he’d done, stole Siren and fled back to her hidden homeland to raise the half-elf as her own. Vinidicus has been searching for them ever since, intent to reclaim his prize.
Seeing as she was literally raised by a dragon, Siren is a true wild woman, having been romping through a magic-filled forest her entire life and never seeing a city or other humanoid. She’s a very innocent, curious, adventurous, and often times rebellious Chaotic Good character who ended up with the party after Keeva left to ‘get supplies’, warning Siren not to leave the forest as usual. She disobeys this time and attempts to follow her mother, ending up displaced from her home and lost in a huge city. She’s quite a sight to see in any city, wearing dirty furs and hide armor, with red and white streaked hair that’s tied in several raggedy, unkempt braids with plenty of loose strands falling inbetween, lightly tinted olive skin, sharpened teeth and long sharpened nails. A series of odd, random, and traumatizing events banded the group together to keep Siren out of the clutches of Vinidicus and find Cade’s important magical research papers which had been stolen by an old classmate who was working with the antagonist. They leave the city and head towards Alexandria, which is a good ways away and is known for it’s esteemed college and massive library for scholars and researchers. This is where Cade came from, and they believe his classmate is headed back there.
We’ve had several sessions and made it up to level 3 at this point, passing through a few towns and forests and solving a few problems for the inhabitants along the way. While the party is traveling they accidentally cross over a line of mushrooms into an enchanted forest, where they end up separated and lost with Siren and Grey both alone and Cade & Bonk together. As the group attempts to navigate the strange and dangerous forest and regroup, Siren encounters what we refer to as a ‘Pupodile’, which is essentially a dog/crocodile hybrid. This creature is 10 ft long and encroaching on 1,000 lbs, so what does she do? Feed it some squirrels (which is what she mainly hunts for food and always has a handful on her), name it Atrux and bring it along with her as a pet. Now I never intended for Siren to have any kind of familiar – I gave her the Gloom Stalker archetype from Xanthar’s guide since she was raised in a dark cave and is adept at hiding and hunting, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t have an excuse to end up with a wolf familiar, as I try to break away from common tropes with my D&D characters. However, sometimes things happen you don’t expect. Leave it to the unsupervised ranger to find a giant half dog, half crocodile creature meant to kill her and instead befriend and adopt it, even without proficiency in animal handling. Of course, her experience with large reptilian creatures probably helped. Eventually the group finds each other and after a series of misadventures with a witch, a couple of howlers (siren-like creatures, my character’s name being unrelated), a pack of large fey hounds which Siren collected the pelt of after having to kill one, and an odd fun house filled with random, some harmless and some very dangerous rooms, they manage to get out of the forest and end up in a new town.
The first perfect mistake is that the party immediately splits, thinking that since they’re in town it’s safe to do so. Grey (who’s player wasn’t present for this session) had disappeared before arriving in the town to follow a strange bird creature that followed them out of the forest, Cade wandered off to find information and see if he could get his hands on any magic books and items, Bonk visited a clinic to inquire about improving his medical abilities before dropping by a temple dedicated to his deity, and Siren chased after Atrux who could smell food from the market and wanted it very badly. This is where the real trouble begins.
Atrux, being a large wild creature with an Intel of 4 and even less city sense than Siren, barrels right for a meat stand, and Siren is barely able to pull him back by his tail to keep him from destroying it. The shopkeeper is not at all impressed by this near miss and demands she leave and take her crazy dog with her. Now Siren – having been raised by a dragon – speaks pretty much only draconic with a very light understanding of common. By sheer luck Cade and Bonk can communicate with her in draconic through comprehend languages and just happening to have learned the language, but very few NPC’s that they encounter speak it. She managed to understand that the keeper wanted her to leave, but she insisted – in draconic- that her dog was hungry and they needed to buy food. Completely thrown by this wild woman with a weird pet now growling and hissing at him in a language he doesn’t understand, he immediately calls for guards. 3 heavily armored men arrive and the guard captain tells Siren she needs to leave. Not understanding why, she does what she always does in an attempt to make peace and offers the guards a dead squirrel. The second guard accepts it but the first insists that she needs to come with him and grabs her by the arm. She’s having none of being manhandled by a stranger and since she has no real understanding of their authority, moves to punch him in the face despite his full face helmet. This attack gets her swiftly arrested, and after a brief strength struggle with Atrux biting a guard’s armored leg in defense of Siren, the two are hauled off to jail to wait for the party to find and rescue them. She has all her weapons taken from her and after being unable to read a firebolt scroll which the guards thought was merely paper, and putting 50 gold into a Picked Pocket (magic bag that exchanges 50gp/item worth 50gp for a random item off a pre-decided roll table) and only receiving a piece of lint in return, she is out of ideas for the moment and paces in her cell. I express this, to which the DM responds ‘come up with an idea’. Challenge accepted.
Eventually Cade and Bonk meet up in the market, and after hearing many exaggerated versions of the arrest, know immediately that the ‘wild dragon woman with a huge lizard who ripped the legs off of 20 guards’ was their party member and set off to find where she’s being kept. Bonk uses his association with his deity to gain the guards trust, explaining that their friend is a little ‘wild’ and they’d just like to take her off their hands and get her out of their city for good. The guards agree she should go but insist that they pay a 200gp bond, which the party doesn’t have, and Bonk is unable to convince them to forgo it. Siren can hear her friends voices but can’t see them, and this is where things start to get really interesting.
One of her spells is fog cloud, which she thinks is her undeveloped breath weapon, and with no other real options, she casts the spell in an attempt at drawing the guards to her before promptly disappearing in the darkened corner of her cell, as one of her Gloom Stalker feats enables her to be completely hidden in darkness, even from darkvision. The guards are immediately concerned as this fog cloud suddenly fills the dungeon hall, and recognizing that Siren is behind this Cade is quick to ask “When you took her weapons, did you take her magic necklace too?” Now this question was so quick and brilliant that the DM was shocked and confused, giving me a look that silently said ‘what magic necklace?’ I knew immediately where Cade was going with this because Siren does not have a necklace of any kind. Bonk catches on quickly too and with a panicked look in his eyes says “We need to get her out of here right now!” Naturally the guards are frightened and confused, asking for clarification. “We need to get her out of here before she fully transforms! There’s a reason she thinks she’s a dragon, and this is only the beginning of what she can do!” Cade adds on quickly. I nearly lost my mind with the sheer brilliance of this, and the impressed DM doesn’t even require a persuasion check. The guards are immediately panicked, fumbling over themselves and running into doors and walls in their desperate and blinded struggle to get to Siren’s cell in the fog. Finally, the guard who had taken the squirrel gets her cell door unlocked and Atrux immediately tackles him, rooting his nose around to find the squirrel. While two more guards struggle to pull him off, Siren slips out of her hiding spot and into the fog. She finds Bonk while Cade quickly gathers her weapons (and pockets a couple things for himself, like rogues do), and with Bonk telling her in draconic to act like she’s gone totally crazy, Siren begins roaring, hissing, and banging on the walls. They convince the guard captain that she’s transforming and manage to get out of the manor where the dungeon was. She whistles for Atrux who rushes after them and together the party makes a break for it. Now paranoid that guards will be looking for them, Siren and Cade both use Disguise Self to transform into an Elven noble and a young girl respectively, with Siren using the large fey hound pelt she’d acquired to tie around Atrux and give him a somewhat more canine appearance. Bonk relies on his association with his deity to gain trust should anyone approach them. They then head quickly for the harbor at the other end of town, where Bonk makes up a quick story about needing to get to Alexandria with the ‘Elven noble’, who the sailor is clearly enthralled with and after some giggling and lash fluttering from Siren, the sailor convinces the ship captain to let the party have free passage as long as Bonk helps with labor aboard the ship. After a narrow miss being caught by Vinidicus who was searching the boat for ‘fugitives’ (aka the party), the group is safely setting sail for Alexandria. End session.
The entire group was absolutely thrilled with the events of this session, Bonk’s player expressing his delight at finally being able to bluff and deceive his way out of a situation, and I felt pretty damn good about starting this distraction plot that actually worked. It took quick thinking and teamwork from all 3 of us as well as some things just falling into place, and is by far one of my favorite moments from any adventure I’ve done. It was even better because the DM was so impressed, that we were rewarded with success without having to roll for it. I can’t wait to see what other shenanigans this party can get themselves in and out of in the sessions to come.
Link to the art we referenced for the pupodile: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/68740024250/?lp=true