Starry Cradle to the Grave

Orphans vs Urchins - a 5e mini series


10/24/20234 min read

Welcome to what we hope will be an entertaining Adventurer’s League style story.

Players will create a character and then prepare for adventure, but there are some restrictions with respect to races allowed as will soon become apparent. You can download the Player Reference PDF.


You and your ‘family’ were orphans living in the city of Waterdeep. You resided within the Starry Cradles Orphanage along the Dock Ward. You weren’t rich but you were happy and surrounded by loving friends and caretakers. As far as the life of a child goes, it wasn’t half bad. You spent the mornings doing chores and coursework and afternoons going on adventures with your “adventuring party” and saving the city at least once a week. Your nights were spent retelling the tales and thinking about what “terrible” threat was coming to attack your domain next.

Some adventures were more exciting than others and sometimes as happens, you had conflict and scuffles with other “adventuring parties,” but they were quickly broken up by the city guard and everyone was sent home with a warning.

As with youth, everyone eventually grows up and begins their life of adulthood, and so it was with you and your brothers and sisters.

Character Quick Notes

  • Starting Level is 4

  • Start with Standard equipment

  • 100 gold for whatever you wish to purchase

  • 1 Common Magic Item

  • 1 Uncommon Magic Item

Due to the setting and city, there are only specific races that can be chosen as they would likely to be present enough to have children found in an orphanage. They are:

  • Dwarf (Hill or Mountain)

  • Elf (wood)

  • Gnome (Forest or Rock)

  • Half-elf (Wood)

  • Human (Human or Variant)

  • Halfling (lightfoot Or stout)

All of the orphans you grew up with are of similar age. To determine your current age, roll 2d4 and add that to 18. The youngest you can be is 20 and the oldest is 26.

Now Create your younger self


  1. Make a copy of your character

  2. Reduce to level 1

  3. Reduce 13 from your age (age should now be between 7 and 13)

  4. Remove Feats (even the variant human – you’re just a child)

  5. Remove Background

  6. Remove all Equipment

  7. Ability scores:

    1. Scores of 15,14,13 and 12 all change to 9

    2. Scores of 10 change to 8

    3. Scores of 8 change to 7

  8. Hit Points: 3 + con modifier .... (minimum of 2)

Think about what a kid would use for equipment if they were pretending to be on an adventure but be respective of what class they are:

  • stick(s) for a sword / club / axe / dagger

  • pot for a helmet

  • rocks for magic missile, eldritch blast, arrows, darts

  • they can coat a rock in baking powder so it leave a trail as a spell

  • baking sheet for shield

“Magic” / Skills
As a child, you don’t have divine or arcane mastery yet, but you can improvise:

  • Silence spell is covering ears (con save is trying to escape)

  • Blindness covering the eyes

  • Stinking cloud is.. well you get the idea

  • Tasha’s hideous Laughter is telling jokes and tickling

  • Grapple checks (that’s a contested hug)

Disregard all special class and race abilities that a child wouldnt be able to do. Things like:

  • Psionic attack

  • sneak attack

  • cantrips

  • etc

This is set to be a 2 or 3 mini adventure / one shot.

The first session.

“Lets relive one of those youthful adventures as you sit around the tavern.”

Everyone is a child and growing up in an orphanage, spending the mornings in schooling and the afternoon pretending to be adventurers. What was today’s adventure? fighting dragons (a farmer cart) or dethrone a corrupt magistrate or evil wizard (usually a shop merchant or playful guard). For this story, let the adventure begin as normal and let them decide what they will face for this adventure. (This tells the story for today)

  • Ask them who is with them: “–that younger kid that always tagged along.”

  • Let them decide on the name, size, characteristics. – That becomes your NPC.

    • I like to think of it as a younger sibling, maybe 2 years younger than the youngest .. and just a small boy or girl named Tim or Sam or Nell, someone they will trust and care for. (its worth it)

The combat
Somewhere alone the way they meet the urchins and it becomes a quickly heated combat between children, sticks, rocks, etc. because the enemy force trying to overthrow the kingdom and your castle (the orphanage) . Maybe one of the urchins hits one of your team in the head with a rock and everyone gets angry.. or shoves someone in the mud in retaliation. Someone cries.

In that ensuing fight and aftermath, someone from the other side gets carried away and tries to set fire to your orphanage. and one of your “sisters/brothers” ends up lost as a casualty. As the guards break it up and everyone mourns the loss of one of the children. The urchins scatter and you mourn the lost of your brother/sister.

End session with the funeral of the lost child.

Second Session

(LEVEL 4 – 13 years later)

"You have all grown up and gone your separate ways. but have returned to the city of Waterdeep due to an event:

  • a strange missive sent to them:

  • Orphanage has mysteriously disappeared

  • Orphanage children are going missing.

  • Sister matron or father patron was very ill and wanted to see you all, but has now passed away and the funeral is forthcoming.


This leads into several secondary adventure options:

  1. A Domain of dread with the orphanage in it. and the child who was lost seemingly alive and there (but obviously not) …. think “house of lament” (in fact you could run a form of that module)

  2. The Fey Circus is in town (The Wild beyond the Witchlight) and orphanage children are going missing from it.

  3. The orphanage is being foreclosed upon and they need to save it. In a twist. it was some of the urchins saving and thieving their way to purchase it and shut it down.

  4. etc

Personally, I like #1. the haunted domain and the lost child back from the dead. not knowing they are dead… believing they are alive. When the adventurers first see them. still young. but as they realize the adventurers are older. they ages as well when no one is looking, but they dont have newer knowledge of adventures. They always been “at the orphanage”

I prefer to play this out in 2 parts:

The first part (session two) being the build up to being trapped in the domain and plot hook (You recognize this is “insert name here” and that’s where we’ll end this session)

Part 3 being the resolution and escape if its a domain.