Students of Strixhaven EP 1 – Disorientation Day

Welcome to Students of Strixhaven! This is Episode 1 in the new campaign, based on the Strixhaven sourcebook by Wizards of the Coast. If you want some pre-game discussion on characters and the setting, you can listen to EP 0.

The episode starts off with introducing the cast:

  • Ben, the Game Master.
  • Jackson, playing Edolkar, a Minotaur Barbarian.
  • Luke, playing Arth, a Human Bard.
  • Michelle, playing Pulsatrix (Trix), an Owlin Rogue.
  • And Ze, playing Khorvus, a Triton Paladin.

The Strixhaven setting encompasses a “magical university”, comprised of five different themed colleges, and will follow the adventures of the characters as they complete their studies on campus. To start, the story begins with examining each character’s arrival to Strixhaven on their first day, with each player rolling a D20 to determine whose character goes first. The order becomes: Trix, Edolkar, Khorvus, Arth.

Trix is located in the Feywild, and lives in a small area called “Nox”, which contains a large majestic tree called Noxwood and where it is eternally night. Many Owlins live amongst the branches and within the hollows. On the night before Trix is due to depart for Strixhaven, she is looking for her grandfather, to seek his advice. She looks in her Grandfather’s study, but only finds her mother instead, cleaning the room. Trix asks if her mother has seen him, to which she says he is probably out and about on another study mission. When Trix asks for advice, she is encouraged to follow her heart. As Trix returns to her bedroom, she finds her cousin, Athena, sitting on the bed. After a brief conversation where Athena tells Trix she thinks she’ll be “running behind” Athena, just like in Noxwood. Athena departs, leaving Trix to do a last minute check of her books and supplies, before doing a little bit more study, then falling asleep.

Trix wakes some time later, feeling well rested. To her surprise, the purple haze of twilight (to indicate a day-night cycle in Noxwood) is in full swing. Trix looks to her clockwork alarm, which she had set to wake her up early, but finds it has been tampered with, not going off when she had expected. She throws together her books and supplies and flies out the door. As she looks out from a branch, she spots Athena and a few other Owlin students awaiting to travel through a portal, the magic imbued into an ancient tree that bends to form a semicircle. Trix continues to sprint, duck and dive through the branches, before making her way to the forest floor and towards the portal. By the time she arrives, she finds the portal closed, with her only way to Strixhaven now closed.

As she sits down in a panic, a short time passes before her Grandfather, Aegolius, places his wing on her shoulder. She explains that she must have slept in late, and has missed the portal. Aegolius wipes away a tear from Trix’s eye, and moves towards the bent tree branch, sitting beneath it. He mutters a chant, before burning what looks to be an incense, and a brief flash, the portal to Strixhaven re-opens. Aegolius tells Trix she must take care, and she asks for any last-minute advice. He says that he is not sure what he could teach, but offers her a… challenge. He pulls out from a small bag a bust, made of some sort of marble or stone and indicates the bust was given to him by a colleague, who was unsure of its origins, and he passes it to Trix. As Trix grabs the bust, she hears muffled speech. Aegolius encourages her to take a look later, and travel through the portal before it closes. Trix sees the faint glimmer of the white stone buildings of the main Strixhaven campus, and she steps through the portal.

In a quiet part of the Material Plane, Edolkar awakens in a pristine noble manor, located at the top of a newly-founded settlement in a mostly untouched valley. His lodgings and equipment, prepared and paid for by his “adoptive” parents, have all the amenities one could need. For Edolkar, it does not feel like his real home, which is known only as Look’aer, a small village, nestled much deeper and hidden in the valley. Edolkar often remembers the day in which he was taken whilst on a hunting trip, and becoming another subject of the Stoutarm family, a well-known noble family with deep magical ties.

He gets out of bed, contemplating having to travel even further away from his homeland. A butler arrives and directs him to the main dining room, where Regus and Falastra, his “adoptive parents” are enjoying a meal. Regus welcomes him, (referring to him as Robern, a new, designated name), asking about his preparedness for Strixhaven. A meal is served for Edolkar, which he picks at. Regus engages in conversation, reminding him to remember the prestige his new family brings, and that thanks to their contributions, he has been granted an admission for this year. As Regus and Falastra depart for other matters, he converses briefly with Gherom, a young servant and now-friend of Edolkar. Gherom wishes Edolkar the best of luck with leaving, and indicates a hedge wizard is outside, preparing a teleportation circle for Edolkar to use. Edolkar goes outside, taking in one last look upon the valley to which he used to hunt and roam, before approaching the elderly wizard. A circle is arrayed with a series of markings and a glowing hue, with the wizard instructing Edolkar to step onto the circle. After a brief ritual, the circle activates, and Edolkar is teleported somewhere far away.

Deep below the ocean’s surface, Khorvus, a young Triton, lives in the city of Levinas, a Triton colony settled in the depths of the Leviathan Trench. Having served with the local military force, Khorvus now shifts his thoughts to a life of adventure, serving as a Paladin under the God Persana. The colony is in a day of celebration and ceremony. Khorvus awaiting to participate in the farewell ceremony, where chosen Triton’s are sent off above the surface to learn, adapt and bring back knowledge and resources to help the colony.

Khorvus’ friend, Yaldas, greets him, and they begin to walk towards the packed stadium, along with Khorvus’ family who are eager to watch the ceremony. As they split off from his family, the pair discuss their respective assignments, with Khorvus being sent to Strixhaven, and Yaldas being sent to a place called the Society of Sensation. As the ten selected individuals arrive to the platform, the crowd simmers and a priestess of Persana approaches. She provides words of inspiration to Khorvus and the others, before finishing with a humble prayer. As the priestess steps down, the captain of the Coral Guard approaches, working through the line of ten Tritons. As he meets with Khorvus, the captain speaks briefly, before presenting him with a wrapped seaweed parcel, that he calls a gift and reminder of home. As the others now on assignment begin to depart to their respective destinations, Khorvus enjoys a last moment with his family, including his mother, father, and sister. Khorvus’ father shows concern for the world above, having not ventured up there himself. Khorvus is directed towards a large dome, pocketed with breathable air. Inside, mages begin to prepare travel portals to different destinations for all the chosen, including one to Strixhaven. Khorvus collects the last of his gear, then steps backwards through the portal.

Week’s before Arth‘s depature, the young late-20s man stands at the edge of town, with his family walking with him to stay goodbye, before he travels to the hub city of Portsmouth. Arth’s father instructs Arth to find his old adventuring partner Zaneus, located in the city, who can provide accomodation for a few days before Strixhaven begins for the year. Arth thanks his family for their time together, and promises to learn more about the world, and write often. Arth’s young sister, Celeste, expresses disappoint that Arth will miss her upcoming birthday. Arth apologies, hugs his family, and begins to depart for Portsmouth.

Weeks later, on the day Arth is due to depart, Arth awakes and sits down for breakfast with Zaneus, in his lodgings in the industrial quarter of Portsmouth. Zaneus, pondering over books and scrolls, enquires if Arth is finally leaving, to which he ignores the snide and asks for another adventuring story. Zaneus searches through some archived boxes, until he finds a small photo, of a younger Zaneus and two other adventures. Arth begins to recognise the other two as his mother and father, as Zaneus admits he forgets what the actual adventure was really about. Zaneus instructs Arth to seriously consider that at some point, like many before him, he will be faced with a challenge; continue his quest for knowledge, including understanding the truths of the universe, or accept compromise, and follow in his father’s footsteps. After they finish their meals, Arth packs his things and prepares to leave.

A short time later, Arth and Zaneus arrive at The Hub, an enchanted building designated for facilitating magical travel, both regional and multidimensional. They arrive at a side room, with two cold, stone pillars in the middle of the room. He examines a scroll, taps the pillars with his staff, and mutters an incantation under his breath. The dimension door opens, and Zaneus offers Arth an apprentice job if things don’t work out. As Arth steps through the doorway, he jokingly asks if he could be taught the dimension door spell that Zaneus just cast.

With the party members now having travelled from their respective locations, we venture now to Strixhaven. Each character sees for a moment the white marble structures of the central campus, before finding themselves yanked, physically being hurled away from their intended destinations, into a dark and murky swamp. Edolkar is the first to arrive, noticing a small gnome scrawling at a teleportation circle embedded into the soil. Khorvus and Arth fly in, landing in the swampy water nearby. Khorvus notes the unsettling welcome he has been offered, while Arth quickly examines the other people around him. A few moments later, Trix teleports in, splashing into the water as well. As she walks towards the others, she expresses her concern. The gnome, realising that the four others are now around him, goes into a panic. Khorvus approaches the gnome, asking what he did. The gnome indicates he is a Sorcerer, and that when he panics or during moments of high stress, sometime odd things can happen. He suspects that he has somehow overridden the destination of the others. The gnome introduces himself as Darius Zadelwort. Having take some time to notice their surroundings, Arth and Khorvus realise the swamp they are in as the Detention Bog, a part of the Witherbloom campus, and still on the demiplane that comprises Strixhaven. The party continue their introductions, before being interrupted by Darius, asking if they can stop the pleasantries, and help Darius remove the teleportation circle. He points out a number of small creatures emerging from the water, that he asks the party to keep away, while he tries to calm himself in order to break the circle. Several Sea Snakes begin to approach, hostile towards the people who have landed on their nesting grounds.

The group enter into combat. The snakes, very aggressive, land a few bites towards the party, attacking Edolkar as the largest of the five. Khorvus, with a naturally high AC, is able to dodge the creatures or otherwise absorb the blows. Arth, not yet confident in the use of his father’s long sword, fails to swing at one of the creatures. Trix flutters over, striking at one of the larger snakes with her Rapier. Another snake strikes, hitting a blow against Arth. Khorvus turns his attention towards the larger snake, swinging his war hammer down against it. Edolkar reaches down and grapples one of the snakes. Edolkar aims and throws the snake far into the depths of the swamp. Darius, maintaining focus, begins to see the circle around him fade.

In the second round, a snake attacks against Edolkar, but overreaches and misses. A second snake moves against Khorvus, which also fails. Arth, feeling more confident, lands a successful blow against one of the smaller snakes, slicing it in half. Trix moves and darts under Edolkar’s legs, then slices one of the remaining snakes. Khorvus throws an overconfident blow against the last, final snake, but fails in their strike. The snake climbs up the handle of the war hammer, towards Khorvus. Edolkar strides over, grappling the final snake, then throws (yeets) it far off into the swamp. The teleportation circle’s magic fades entirely, and Darius breathes deeply. Darius thanks everyone for their help, and everyone reflects on their fighting styles.

A rough, barky voice calls out to the group from the distance. With the appearance of an elderly witch, the woman, appearing as a tree, approaches. She asks what they are doing out in the “bog”. Darius tries to explain, but panics again. Arth chimes in, explaining they accidentally got sent here instead of the central campus. She begins to direct the group out of the bog.

The newly-formed party fight off Bog Snakes while Darius tries to remove his teleportation magic.