Actual Play VI: The Trial of Aphrodite (Part One)
In the Garden of Hesperides
Once the heroes had obtained The Golden Galleon with Polyphemus the cyclops acting as navigator, the crew set sail further east deep to the very edge of the world to find the Garden of Hesperides. They arrived to an island with a huge stone wall. They circumnavigated the island looking for a gate, but found none. They did, however, discover a small boat tucked into a cove. They got out to investigate only to discover it belonged to their old friend Kalikilla! (who was now an NPC) She wore a deep cloak of rich blue, and was carrying with her a gift from her father, the Cap of Hades. She figured she would run into them on the island, and warned that the apples inside the walls are guarded by a hundred-headed dragon named Ladon, as well as the Hesperides, nymphs who were daughters of Atlas.
All the heroes welcomed Kalikilla back except for Echo, the beautiful daughter of Aphrodite. She assumed that Kalikilla could not be trusted and refused to allow her out of her sight. Kalikilla told the players she had found a secret cave that lead to the garden, taking them beneath the walls that surrounded it. Most of the players were on board with this plan, except Echo who felt like it must be some sort of trap.
When the heroes entered the cave, they came across a pack of hungry wolves. They were quickly out numbered. Mighty Lycaneous used his throwing axes to take one down, then smashed another across the room with the Stone of Ares. Echo and Kalikilla shot arrows at the wolves, but the heroes were soon pushed back. Wise Saphildur came up with the plan to run out of the cave and cast Thunderclap to cause a cave-in. The heroes barely fled with their lives as the tunnel collapsed behind them.
As the dust settled, they realized the tunnel was a no go. Instead a new plan was formed, they returned to The Golden Galleon and came back with a long rope and Echo's jug of enchanted wine. Previously, the players had earned some small treasure in the form of potions. But instead of potions, they were sealed vases filled with blessed wine. The images on the outside of the vase illustrated what type of potion they were.
- Saphildur had received a vase with a man swimming with fish on the side. It was a potion of water-breathing.
- Lycaneous received a vase with Hercules depicted on the side. It was a potion of heroism.
- Echo received a vase with a woman working at the loom surrounded by spiders. It was a potion of spider climbing.
- Creos received a vase with a man breathing fire painted on it. It was a potion of fire breathing.
It was during this time that Kalikilla gently pulled Lycaneous to speak to him privately, when no one was looking. Lycaneous made a wisdom saving throw and failed! He was now charmed by Kalikilla who smiled a big toothy grin at the Son of Ares, revealing her vampire fangs.
At this point, only Lycaneous knew that Kalikilla was a vampire, but because he was now charmed by her, he could do nothing to jeopardize her plans or hurt her. He had to agree with anything she wanted as long as it did not involve hurting his friends. The way I played this out, so as not to tip off the other players, was I pulled Lycaneous aside before class, on a completely different day. I handed him his character sheet and told him Kalikilla pulled him casually aside and asked him to make a wisdom saving throw.
"Oh no, why?" he moaned as he rolled poorly and factored in his low Wisdom score. Lycaneous was an amazing roleplayer though, he kept her vampiric identity a secret from the rest of the party, agreed with almost anything Kalikilla suggested and really played it up well. When players really dig in deep to the story telling and playing the scene is when DnD really comes to life for me as something special. My other favorite part is watching them solve problems using their imaginations.