The Sunless Citadel

There was a change in plans for the library game. All three teenage girls, sisters as it turns out, ambushed me today, hot to play D&D. I wasn’t prepared but I didn’t dare deny them in their youthful enthusiasm.

As it happens, I still had a copy of The Sunless Citadel in my bag, which I had put in there to review its suitability for the Nerd Vice game a week before. It is a short adventure meant to bring players up from level 1 to 3. I’ve run it before and it is as good an introduction to D&D as I was likely to find (or write). So we fired up my laptop, navigated to and made up three characters together.


The three sisters are very different characters themselves. The eldest, 16, is artistic, well-read and interested in theatre. The middle sister, 14, is more interested in combat–a real kick-in-the-door type. The youngest, 12, is quite the introvert, but enthusiasticly participates in everything we do at the library (while not saying much). All three are very quick and intelligent.

Character creation took about an hour and a half. We rolled up stats first (4d6, drop lowest) and everyone was slightly above average. Then we chose races and classes. I let the girls pick their own skills and as the laptop passed from one to the next, I worked with the previous user to fill in modifiers and fill in their character sheets.

To save time, I assigned armor, weapons, and spells. We skipped feats completely. The girls were fine with the omissions because they were eager to get into the game!

The eldest is playing a 1/2 Elf Cleric called Myrtle. We only chose one domain for now (liberation). She chose Avandra as her goddess from the 4E PHB that I had in a box.

The middle child is playing a 1/2 Orc Rogue called Oshiro. Her first choice was to play and evil demon, to which I hastily said no. I didn’t forbid her from playing an evil character but I told her that she wasn’t allowed to work directly against her sisters and that she had to work with them to accomplish their goal.

The youngest is playing an Elven Wizard called Ginny. She didn’t school a school but she has a dragon ring for her bonded object. ‘Ginny’ is an intentional Harry Potter reference and she intends to emulate that character. She’s the quiet one though, so while she hasn’t shown that she is capable of portraying her bold name-sake, we’re all supportive of the choice.

The Game

The Sunless Citadel is a site-based adventure. I started them in Oakhurst, looking for Sir Bradford and his missing companions. The party entered the Ol’ Boar Inn in search of rumors of the knight. The appearance of an 1/2 orc disturbed the few local patrons, who abandoned their drinks and left the common room. Oshiro promptly helped herself to the abandoned drinks at one of the tables while the elven-kind approached the bar.

The girls briefly discussed who would be the best person to speak with the innkeeper based upon their charisma score. They correctly assumed that the Orc’s presence would make discussion more difficult. Ultimately, the cleric stepped forward and engaged in conversation.

Myrtle managed a quiet conversation and got the details that they required—all RP and no skill checks! As a reward, I am allowing them to stay in Sir Bradford’s room, which is paid through the end of the month. Garon, to innkeeper, used to be an adventurer and he has a favorable view of clerics of Avandra.

The party waited until the following morning before setting off for the Citadel. They found the ravine and lowered themselves on to the ledge and faced their first combat. Ginny, the wizard, fell the last few feet down the rope and three dire rats rushed in to take advantage.

Myrtle won the initiative and stepped up to block the rat’s advance. Her first blow dispatched the vile vermin at one go. The two remaining rats attempted to chew through Myrtle’s leggings but only one struck home. Its filthy teeth left a burning gash. Oshiro tried to pick a rat off with her bow but the shot went wide. Ginny stood and threw her spear, but only succeeded in striking her sister’s backside!

In the second round, the rogue closes in and after 2-3 more rounds, they finally dispatch the rats. The party was banged up pretty badly.

At this point, we covered the Cure Light Wounds spell, the Channel Energy class feature, and the Heal skill. Myrtle applied bandages to herself and Oshiro (but she only succeeded in curing herself of the rat’s disease, not that she knows that… yet).

At that point we ran out of time!


All in all, I think that the first session went very well. We glossed over some mechanics and rules but I feel confident that I can work them in as we go. The girls took everything that I threw at them without much pause.

While we played, a 10-year-old came through and quietly flipped through my 4E books while listening in on our game. he treated the books carefully, with respect, so I didn’t break the game to speak with him. When his mother walked into the room, they spoke briefly and she asked if he could join in. Apparently, he already knows about D&D and has played before!

When I began the game program, I told the library that I didn’t want to take children under 12 (I don’t want to baby-sit), but he held himself well land spoke well, so I said yes. We discussed the details and he’ll join us when we resume in three weeks.

I regret the three-week gap but we rescheduled next week’s game day to today because I have a family commitment and will be out of town. Game-day runs on the first and third Saturday of each month.


~ by Hunter Rose on July 30, 2011.

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