WMD's D&D Campaign: Strixhaven University

WMD

Mad Scientist
I hope people don’t mind me sharing this here but I'm thinking of keeping a record of a new campaign my group started last night. It's been a while since I DMed and it's my first time in this specific group. The campaign is Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos and is essentially D&D Harry Potter whereby the characters are new students at a magic university and the campaign follows their 4 years of study there and the adventures they have along the way.

Another thing I've decided to do is send them chalkboards with lessons on as I'm not actually going to give them lectures but I think this will help immerse them in the world. I made them as a text box in word with a font that looks like handwriting. I think they came out pretty good. I sent a few to them prior to the first session with some background information as I figured they'd know a bit about the university they were going to attend.

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WMD

Mad Scientist
Session 1

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So the new students arrive at Strixhaven for the start of their new academic life. The group consists of:
  • Archemedes Doomroost (Owlin Rogue)
  • Pythagoras 'Py' Tinker-Topper (Rock Gome Artificer)
  • Kaylah Rai (Half-elf Monk)
  • Timmy Timbers (Rock Gnome Wizard)
  • Ophelia Rubix (Tiefling Sorcerer)
  • Elleva Ferngrove (Wood Elf Druid)
They live together in a dorm house on Central Campus and a day or 2 after moving in and settling down head off to the grand Biblioplex (the very centre of the university) for new student orientation. Elleva is kinda goth and puts on airs of apathy and she hangs around in the lobby not doing much. Py finds a bunch of coffee tables covered in leaflets and rumages through them finding job adverts- he particularly likes the sound of one at the Science Labs where he might he able to further his family research. Kaylah goes into a cafe by the entrance and stares in wonder at the artistic beauty of the living tree walls. Achemedes also goes into the cafe and swipes a sandwich without paying (cheeky bugger). Timmy gets hassled by Kaylah to buy her a coffee and Ophelia waxes lyrical about a fancy geometric pot she has to staff at the Biblioplex.

Eventually they get their act together and head down to the Hall of Oracles for Orientation whereby they are given a fun scavenger hunt to complete in the Biblioplex and get to know the place as it will be a key location for their learning in the years to come. The first clue "You'll forget all about any trouble or plight when you step forward and are ensnarled in light" gets them to touch the snarl (a glowing mass or pure energy) at the centre of the room and they each win a healing potion!

They head back to the cafe to solve "Each group deserves a free treat for their investment. Serve up this list and enjoy your refreshment." Archemedes takes the opportunity to swipe some extra treats.

After that they meet the LARP Guild preping for a demonstration and recruiting members for their club and then head to one of the indoor gardens for the next clue "These leafy beds aren't always what they seem. Give them a pat and see that they glean." They each win a cuddly college mascot plushie representing the college they each want to join in their second year. They also meet a member of the Fantastical Horticulture Club and learn a bit about it.

Next they stumble into the art gallery and realise it pertains to clue "Alumni commission works when they retire, seeking promising mages to inspire." After a bit of faffing they find the right painting and each gain a Strixhaven Pennent corresponding to their colleges and Kaylah works out they magically give of sparkly light when waved about which her artistic nature is very into. They also meet a member of the Distinguished Society of Fine Art recruiting for their club and Kaylah has a great time while the more academic members of the group roll their eyes at her.

That closes our session 1 and next time we will continue with 1 more clue to solve!
 
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WMD

Mad Scientist
Session 2

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So our team are still at orientation and continuing with the scavenger hunt. Just one more clue to solve "Some stars are ancient, enduring, and bright. But others-maybe you!-are born on opening night." They get it into their heads this means literal stars are ask around about an astonomy tower/observation area but as its a library there isn't one.

Py sees the Cogwork Archivists busy around the shelves stacking books and the like and his nerdy mechanical nature is enamoured and he stops to sketch them and interact with the automatons. Meanwhile the others work out the clue may mean some kind of performance and soon find the large stage where they meet overly dramatic and slightly pompous Quentillius trying to gain new members to the Playactors Drama Guild. The artsy Kaylah gets on with him while the others aren't too impressed and she works out to do a performance in the stage. After some interpretive dance a spotlight shines down on her and after some figuring out realise its a lantern she's won as a prize. The others don't feel like performing is their jam so let this one slide.

After meeting up the discover the student activities centre and learn about all the other club options at Strixhaven and head into the Student Council Office where Py leaves an application for a new club: the Mechanical Appreciation Society. They then try to break into a locked area but fail as an Arcane Lock spell is in effect.

Soon the atmosphere is ruined as a supplies trunk of the LARPers has come to life and is attacking people! Our group jump into action and take it down but not before Elleva is reduced to 0hp. Afterwards a staff member helps the team back to their feet and the trunk has some black oily substance on it but all magical traces are gone.

The rest of the session was the group deciding on their courses, clubs and possible part time jobs for the upcoming academic year.
 

Eternal chibi

Brigade Leader
I can see you have put a lot of effort in this and I really like that you chose Harry Potter influence but have not just ripped it off entirely and have mixed it with the world of D&D really well, your group is lucky to have a dedicated DM.
 

WMD

Mad Scientist
I can see you have put a lot of effort in this and I really like that you chose Harry Potter influence but have not just ripped it off entirely and have mixed it with the world of D&D really well, your group is lucky to have a dedicated DM.
Its actually from a new book they've released. That gives the basics for the campaign. But it gives a lot of room for the dm to flesh out the world. As they make friends and rivals I'm going to have a lot of fun. And come up with loads of side stories
 

WMD

Mad Scientist
Session 3

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Here's a run down of the clubs/jobs they've picked:

Kaylah: Mage Tower Cheer Squad, Distinguished Society of Fine Artists
Archemedes: Fantastical Horticulture Club, Future Entrepreneurs of Strixhaven
Timmy: Dragonsguard Historical Society, Fantastical Horticulture Club
Elleva: Fantastical Horticulture Club, Bow's End Tavern working as a server
Pythagoras: Biblioplex working on the Cogwork maintenance team. (Has application for new Club pending.)
Ophelia: Dragonchess Club, Strixhaven Star

The first part of the session was running small bits of role play for their first times at one of their clubs/jobs.

Timmy, Archemedes and Elleva went to the Horticulture Club meet in one of the Biblioplexes indoor gardens. They once again met Urzmaktok the 2nd year orc. They got on well with everyone but Elleva has an air of apathy and Archemedes is a bit awkward and mostly talks about potions. Timmy fares better and gets a +1 relationship point with Uzmaktok. The other two stay on 0.

Kaylah goes to the Fine Arts Society and gies back to flirting with Cadoras (who she previously met at orientation recruiting for the club) her hometown rival Nora (in the year above) is also a member and they have a frosty standoff. She gets a +1 for Cadoras and a -1 for Nora.

Ophelia goes to the Dragonchess Club and is aggressively boastful about her skill at the game (somewhat bluffing) she meets Rampart and Tilana and has a game with the blustery elephant man Rampart. She just scraps a win but is all ego about it and takes a -1 with Rampart. Tilana stays on 0.

Py has his first shift at the Biblioplex, learning about the Cogwork Archivists and sorting/cleaning spare parts. On a break he meets Drazhomir the soft spoken minotaur who loves books and learning. They bond well and Drazhomir gets inspired by a drawing Py did of the Cogwork Archivists and writes a poem! Py gets a +1 with Drazhomir.

A great cog turns
A wheel with purpose
A great machine, of magical mechanic sheen
To shelves returned
The books, the archivist nurses

We then jump a couple of weeks into term and one weekend while the gang are hanging out Cadoras runs over and brings them to the Firejolt Cafe where some students found some funny coloured frogs that they've put little costumes on and are going to have a race.

  • Py and Ophelia put their nerd minds together to try and work out which frog will be best and slyly use a cheeky guidance spell to aid their attempt. They tell Arcemedes who sets about organising a betting racket to try and fleece people. Ophelia is racing the red frog in suspenders.
  • Kaylah persuades Cadoras to race and cheers him on with the violet frog in a Cape. She tries to add an artistic flourish to the Cape but makes a bit of a mess.
  • Elleva gets Javenesh (her superior at the Bow's End Tavern) to have a race with the blue frig in a top hat and cheers him on.
  • Timmy decides to race the orange frog in a bow tie but he's all on his own.

The race gets underway and Timmys frog soon loses interest hopping off the course by itself. Cadoras does well cheered by Kaylah but loses ground at the half way mark. The other 2 are neck and neck but in the end Javenesh is more outgoing and able to coax his frog better as Ophelia loses steam and her arms tire. Javenesh wins 30gp which he splits with Ellva for her support and she gets a +1 relationship point with him. Archemedes only makes 40gp (stood to make 90gp if Ophelia won) and she slpits it with her conspirators.

All of a sudden the frogs start belching strangely and grow in size and start lashing out at the crowd.as other students scatter and plucky heros step up and beat them back eventually making them docile again...to be continued.

So players may be part of 2 clubs or 1 club and have a part time job. Club membership grants you an extra d4 to use for 2 specific check once a day. A job gets you 5gp a week. They also allow for relationship building.

When you become friends with someone you get a small role play boon but if you are able to develop it further into a beloved status (platonic or romantic) you get a pretty good bonus for the game. You can also form a rivalry where you get a role play bane and also in terms of story they will be around to hassle you. I really want everyone to get their own Draco Malfoy. Will be so much fun.
 

WMD

Mad Scientist
Session 4

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So our team picked up investigating the frogs. They soon discovered they had beleched up an oily black substance similar to what they found on the trunk that attacked people at the Biblioplex. Except this time it has a sweet aroma. Py takes a sample to investigate later. They decide to head to the Biblioplex to ask if any staff might help them. They get the names of Verelda Lang, Arcano-Biologist and Brenneth Blackstone, Scriptology Star. Py also takes the opportunity to browse for some books that might be useful. He doesn't roll very well but he doesn't know that yet.

Py wants to go to back to the dorm house and start investigating but the others overule him and go to the Bow's End Tavern to relax. They drink some beers and listen to some live music. Kaylah gets up to dance but she's had a few too many to drink and is an absolute disaster, bumping into people and tables and swiftly clears the dance floor. Archemedes goes crawling about the floor to hear any gossip ot news he can use to his advantage later on. I have him roll investigation and he does well and will work out later what he hears. Py spends his time reading the books and he almost spills some beer on them but just manages to save and gets it on himself instead.

Elleva spends some time hanging with Javenesh and gets on well with him and gets another relationship point with him. She now gets a bond boon from him whereby his tough guy reputation follows you around and if peers would be aggressive towards you they will back down more easily.

Eventually they head back to the dorm and Py can finally do some research on the oils. Kaylah passes out and starts snoring much to his annoyance but he plows on. I have him roll investigation, medicine and nature rolls. He rolls quite well but his bad book choices will let him down.

Exam time! Their 1st exams are for the Magical Physiologies course and will be on Slaadi.

First they get to study. They get to make any check they like as long as they can justify it. I have also decided they can't simply use the same check every time or they'd always study with their best ability check. Kaylah uses performance to create physical mnemonic devices. Archemedes spends time at the labs studying samples and uses nature. Timmy does book work and uses investigation. Elleva spends time outdoors searching for their environment and recreating footprints and uses survival. Py simply spends time recalling their lectures and remembering and uses history. And Ophelia goes the revision notes route and uses investigation.

The exams are in 2 parts and they will make a specific check for each one. Part 1 is multiple choice on Slaad facts and requires an Arcana check part 2 is essay writing on Slaad confrontations using Insight.

Py and Ophelia ace the exams and get 2 student dice (a student die is a d4 they can use once a day to add to a check used from an exam - in this case Acarana and Insight).
Timmy, Kaylah and Elleva pass and get 1 student die each.
Unfortunately Archemedes fails the exams and then banned from extracurricular clubs and part time jobs as he has to do make up classes until he passes a future exam.

The group level up to 2nd level!
 

WMD

Mad Scientist
Session 5
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So we start this time with the second club activities from everyone. Archemedes is barred from clubs while he has make up lessons. Ophelia goes to the Stixhaven Star where she wants to write factual/intellectual pieces. She has a bit of a to do with Grayson Wildemere who writes the Gossip Column. After he storms off in a huff she becomes friendly with Mina Lee, one of the student paper's investigative journalists. She gets a -1 with Grayson and a +1 with Mina.

Kaylah goes to Mage Tower Cheer Squad practice which is led by the ever enthusiastic Zanther Bowen. Kaylah joins in with his enthusiasm and rolls well on persuasion to get the whole club geed up and into practice. Kaylah gets a +1 with Zanther.

Py gets called to the Student Council Room. Outside he gets accosted by Newton Issacson, a son of a rival arms manufacturer to Py's family. Newton is from new money as opposed to Py and there's instant tension and name calling. They head into the room and it turns out Newton is the council treasurer. The VP explains to Py that although he appreciated his ambition his aloof many of requesting yo start a new Club (from orientation day) doesn't follow the rules and expectation of Strixhaven. Newton is loving the dressing down Py is getting but Py defends himself with a few subtle jabs at Newton's expense. Obviously Py gets a -1 with Newton.

Timmy goes to the Dragonsguard Historical Society and meets Bhedum and few others discussing an ancient battle. A great tyrant welding a powerful magical item was taken down by 3 armies. The 3 armies then turned on each other and the relic was lost to history. Hope this becomes a fun side adventure for Timmy and the group. By being well engaged with Bhedum and the others he gets a +1 with Bhedum.

Elleva goes to work at the Bow's End Tavern. She's working as a server and impresses Javenesh with her persuasion skills to get more people to buy drinks.

The others soon arrive, led by Mina as some students found some Wizzard Gizzard boxes to play some games with. Old magic boxes used to teach students how to aim magic rays but they become unpredictable with age and students take them for this pub game. Basically you have 1 minute to land as many shots as possible in a bucket 20ft away. There are 4 boxes and there will be 2 heats before a final. Heat one has Py (who does and Arcana check to try and find the most reliable one), cheered on by Timmy. Newton is present and decides take on Py. They have some cutting words with one another and Py slyly uses an Artificer ability to make a medal of Newton's start to smell badly.

Kaylah also chooses to play which brings Nora out to take her on. The stare one another down and then Kaylah spots Cadoras across the pub and calls him over to support her. Archemedes knowing Py thinks he's onto a winner goes of to hustle the crowd taking bets.

The game begins and Newton gets a paltry 4 in the bucket. Nora manages 5. Kaylah comes second with 6 but Py walks away with it with a mighty 9 shots in the bucket! Archemedes nets a whopping 80gp.

We end the session there and will continue with the second heat next time.

Edit: the conversation Archemedes overheard last time was:
"...if we can't get the money we're screwed" a student says in a panicked whisper.

"I know that" the other replies harshly. He grinds his teeth and mutters "we can't be the only ones he's dug up dirt on."

"But how did he find out!" The first one says his voice rising.

"Shut up. We'll discuss this later."
 

WMD

Mad Scientist
Session 6

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We pick up for the 2nd heat of the Wizzard Gizzard game in the Bow's End Tavern. Ophelia, Timmy and Elleva from the group are joined by Zanther to compete in this round. The standard in this heat is far lower than the last one and the crowd deflates somewhat. Ophelia only gets 2. Timmy and Zanther each get 3 and Ellva wins the round with only a 4. Archemedes decides he can't really rig the betting this time so wanders around the crowd instead.

And it's time for the grand final! Javenesh comes out from the bar and offers up a grey bag of tricks for the winner. We have Py and Elleva as the heat winners joined by Kaylah and Nora as the highest scoring losers. But beforehand Py wants to get his hands back on the box he used in teh first heat...but oh no! Elleva just used it and she's kept it in hand. Archemedes sneaks round behind Elleva and then Py uses Mage hand to knock her ankle and try and trip her. Archemedes jumps out to catch her and with a deft bit of sleight of hand swaps the boxes for one Py has damaged.

And the final is underway. Elleva having lost interest only manages 1. A titanic battle ensues amongst the others with Kaylah scoring 5 and both Nora and Py 6. It's a tie! The crowd is going wild! Nora and Py head to sudden death, Kaylah gets members of the Cheer Squad to cheer for Py and get the crowd rowdy. The shoot out starts and Py brings his A game and delivers a a storming final round to win!

Amid the celebrations he tries out his new bag of tricks and produces a badger and a panther which waste no time attacking his rival Newton. Py pretends to be the bug man and get them to stop but they both know it was deliberate.

Soon the chelf comes bursting out from the kitchens yelling in fear. Some Steam Mephits have appeared and are cuasing carnage in the kitchen. Our team step up and battle the mephits and soon take them down as they explode in ball of scalding steam. We leave off there with the post battle investigation to come.

Side note: as DM I'm a little annoyed at how I played this battle. I basically started initiative straight away after the chef alerted everyone and the group proceeded to hang around the door firing in spells. The kitchen was quite large so by the time the mephits made the trek over 2 if the 4 were already dead. I wish I had waited to start initiative until they had decided to go into the kitchen. Would have made the battle far more engaging.
 

WMD

Mad Scientist
Session 7
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So we pick up in the aftermath of their battle with the steam mephits. Kaylah investigates the cooking pots and finds the black goop on them that's been at other events. Archemedes tries to act as a voice in her head but she recognises his voice. Py still riding his panther collects some sample and Ophelia and Timmy assess to see if there's any magical remnants but find nothing.

Kaylah and Elleva go to speak to Chef Curtie and get her account of events. She does lots of experimental (magic assisted) cooking but the dish has never come alive before! They find out the pots and kitchen ware regularly go to the maintenance department for special cleaning/fixing up. They get free drinks for the rest of the night and scheme and plot for their next moves. Archemedes also revels the conversations he's overheard. (In the last session he discovered the 2 guys from previously huddled away in a corner and overheard this snippet of conversation:

"...oh god oh god oh god!" Mutters one of them "he said he's gona start leaking our secrets."

"Yeah" the other replies dejectedly, "we couldn't meet his deadlines and that was that. But we have to keep trying and stop the worst being revealed."

"Oh god oh god oh god, what makes you think we can turn this around?"

"We have no choice. We have to try."

At this point I explain to the players that going forward the game will effectively alternate between the ain't events and a period of free time (the main campaign itself is very linear as its structured around academic years). In each period of free time each player can do 1 thing. "1 thing" could last a long time and they can bring along anyone from the group for their thing. They could choose to investigate main story stuff. Go to their club and further relationships/rivalries. Investigate their own thing- a few have seeds for their own b plots at this point.

So Elleva goes first and heads to work at the Bow's End Tavern to see Javenesh and also further investigate the pots. She brings Kaylah along who can work a charm offensive. For some reason they decide to pretend that Kaylah is a new EHS Officer at the uni and somehow convince people at the pub. They collect some pots from the pub and head to the Maintenance Department building. Kaylah decides she likes the role of EHS Officer and continues the deception as she announces she's there f9r an inspection and gets taken to the Cullinary Supplies department workshop. Turkin Blackstone is the manager who begrudgingly gives her a tour.

She inspects the cleaning area, repairs area and final preparations area and sees staff using various potions and balms on the pots. Nothing is the same colour/consistency as the black goop but she notes some of the potions being used. Flame Balm to help with heat distribution of the pots to cook well. Ferrous Elixer to help with the mechanical rigidity of the pots. Arcano Salve to give special resistance to the pots based around Chef Curtie's cooking. And Eldritch Balm which adds general protections and helps the other potions.

Next time we will continue with Elleva at work.
 
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