"The Disappearance of Genara" is where our story officially begins. By this time all of the session zeroes are done and my players are eager to play our one-shot, a contained D&D session that is an easy point A to point B game that has a clear problem and resolution. As always my favored enemy is scheduling because even with the quarantine of a pandemic, people are working remotely from home, locations have shifted and the main obstacle is time. I find agreeing on a date to play the biggest hindrance in being a new DM. I know that everyone is excited to play again and introduce new characters in some cases but life still tends to get in the way. I gather all of my notes and set up my webcam and iPad so I can show my players the board that I have created and move their pieces myself. The early days of this game were filled with technical difficulties because I am learning as I go and I am already not all that tech savvy. I was so used to the game being played in person where you have a board or map in front of you and move your tokens as needed. I assumed that it would be just as easy to do virtually. In hindsight, I know that juggling multiple items like storytelling, mapmaking, and music (for the full immersive experience) is a lot, and the idea of moving the player's tokens myself my the direction they give from seeing the board over an iPad camera was not my brightest idea.
We finally agree on a day to play and leading up to it I am awash with nerves. I am scared, anxious, doubtful but also giddy. I have written a story that will play out for my friends. We are playing our game again. Regardless of the distance between our locations, regardless of the pandemic that is still raging outside, regardless of the uncertainty of tomorrow. Tonight I am seeing my friends and we are playing a game we all love. We are reclaiming a moment of whimsy and happiness in a time when there is a lot of sadness outside. I muster all my courage and after a half hour of catching up, the game begins. Our cast of heroes has each been on individual sabbaticals. Some of them trying to find loved ones, some trying to find themselves, and some just trying to find information. After trying to contact their companion, Genara, each makes their way back home to their base of operations. The party encounters two new characters (the paladin and fighter characters) and with a brief introduction, they realize they are all here for a common goal. No one has been in contact with Genara and they discover their keep has been attacked. The group finds twin girls hiding and afraid. They introduce themselves as Genara's new apprentices and advise the group that she has been taken by her father. This confuses the group as the description of the assailant doesn't match that of Genara's adoptive father and he wouldn't attack the keep. The girls relay that Genara didn't seem to recognize him and she was knocked unconscious trying to ensure they were safe but the assailant said that he was Genara's biological father, a shocking fact as the cleric reveals Genara believed both her parents to be dead.
The group recovers a cloak that Genara had thrown to the girls and uses it to Scry (magically divine her location) and attempt a semi-successful teleportation spell. During the game, I am thankful that everyone is being patient with my horrible attempt at voice acting. My iPad disconnects multiple times but the game goes on. Everyone seems to enjoy just being together again, even if it is virtually and playing a D&D again. I try to be mindful of time because the game can go on for hours but people have lives of their own and significant others to get back to.
The place the group teleports to seems familiar to my Eldritch Knight and the party enters a chamber, a sense of foreboding washes over them. Room by room they encounter all types of creatures and the cleric destroys a wave of the undead with a flourish of his hand channeling his divine magic for destructive force. Eventually, they find an altar with a Tiefling seemingly sacrificed, drained of his blood but they find that he is still alive. Rescuing the Tiefling they heal him slightly and tell him to wait outside for their return. He advises them that Genara was taken further in but she was bound and unconscious. The party travels further in and encounters Duergar (dwarfs from the Underdark) who they dispatch before moving on. The party finally finds the temple where Genara is being kept. A cloaked male tells them how Genara was promised to the God of Death before her birth. She is to be his conduit. Her father Gendry lost genara when her mother discovered his plan and has tried for years to get her back but the people she calls family have always been in his way so he manipulated the events of her life to give those that she cared about most their greatest desires to get her alone. He surveilled and attacked when it was least secured.
At this moment while the villain is monologuing our bard takes the opportunity to bypass the villain's shield and pluck Genara from Danger while our paladin rushes through to dispatch the villain's sentries. Our Fighter, Barbarian, and Eldritch Knight unleash chaos on the assembled enemies while the cleric heals Genara and supports the fighters as they take damage. In the ensuing battle Genara comes to and tells the enemy she will not be used and her only father is the one that raised her. The party defeats the onslaught and Gendry is slain. This is the point when the group loots the room and the game comes to a close. The story is told and we could have ended right there. The group is so happy and they ask if I would be interested in continuing the campaign. I am a little overwhelmed because just planning this session was a lot for me. I wasn't sure I could do it but I accomplished it and everyone had fun so I tell them I will think about it. It takes me all of a night to fully commit. I had more fun than I expected running this game and now I am inspired. I want to see where this story can actually go. So now it is just deciding what happens next. I will say that it is not all happy and easy. Although I finished this session in the days to come I ssecond guess everything and I am filled with self-doubt, but now I have a game to plan.