This past Sunday was the due date for my player's homework. I had assigned them all a little writing project: basic background on their character. The results were pretty awesome, and the players responded positively. In addition to making the players think about their characters, it also made me think about them, and I now know them better than just "gnome rogue, gnome cleric, human dude, elf shubalub, etch".
There was one snag, however. The Temple of Elemental Evil is set in the world of Greyhawk. My players, however, are not playing in Greyhawk. I apparently did not make this clear to them. Therefore, all their histories make references to Greyhawk locals, political systems, and people. There be some retconning in the future.
I think I'm going to have to take some time and write up a little primer to my campaign world, along with a map, and pass it out to my players. Something I should have done at the start.
My newest player decided he wanted to switch characters, and had a warrior already rolled up, so I hit his old one with a DM's Fireball and promptly inserted his new one. It was about as inelegant as it gets, and I really should have had something more interesting befall that character, but I wanted to work the new one into the game as quickly as possible and wasn't feeling particularly clever.
I'm happy to report that the rule of "what comes out of your mouth comes out of your character's mouth" worked splendidly. It kept the game waaaay more focused and got the characters, not the players, actually talking to each other, to my great delight. Made the game a thousand more times enjoyable, to me at least.
Anyway, game report time. The group is currently on the second level of the TOEE, having recently ransacked the Air Temple and blundered into the Water Temple. They killed two priests, rescued a kidnapped warrior, caught the head priest unawares (and promptly murdered him), had a bit of a row with an inter-dimensional, telepathic acid pond creature, and then there was the Trident incident.
Among the recently murdered head priests possessions are 1. Cloak of the Manta Ray - which polymorphs the wearer into a manta ray upon entering seawater and 2. Trident of Yearning - a cursed weapon that gives it's bearer an uncontrollable urge to submerse himself in water, also the wielder of the trident cannot bear the thought of not holding the trident. Only a water breathing spell while submerged or a wish spell will break the curse.
During the looting process, the hobbit bard immediately seized the trident, and then sprinted screaming for the altar basin in the front of the temple that contained seawater. When the party caught up with him, they found him happily drowning. After several smackings, wackings, bodyslams, and finally the cleric spell Command: Sleep, the gnomish cleric finally wrenched the trident away from him, only to fall victim to the cursed trident's effects himself and promptly jump in the altar basin. Luckily for him, he was wearing the Cloak of the Manta Ray. As manta rays have no hands, he let go of the trident, and as the cloak grants water breathing, as per a manta ray, the curse was broken.
Shortly thereafter, the party made its way back to the surface via a newly discovered short cut, and called it a night.
One of my new favorite things is filling out the details of the party's keep. I've been making NPC's for the party's servants, and as the need has arisen, the party has sent out servants to bring back specialized persons to fulfill roles in the day to day running of the castle. The current Master of the keep is an ex-pirate named Leonard whom they saved from captivity in the Temple. Besides random household servants, they have a master steward named Gangles, who I imagine resembles Marty Feldman, and a "town crier" who is a random child.
They also have three potential master-at-arms candidates, an accountant, and a sage on the way. Pretty soon, they'll have a proper castle town.