Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rocks fall, no one died!

After nearly 8 years together, and some 15 years of friendship, my spouse finally turned to me and said the magic words.

"I think I want to try Dungeons & Dragons"


The trick seems to be getting him to think it was his own idea.  He knew I wanted to get him to try D&D or some other RPG system, but I had learned to by and large leave the topic alone.  It seems me watching/listening to D&D games on YouTube was the final snare in arousing interest.  For those curious, over the past year or so I've been watching Acquisitions Incorporated, Titansgrave (not D&D, I know), and Critical Role.

Also, this means I'm finally taking a stab as Dungeon Master.  While introducing my other half to role-playing.  No pressure...

I told him that if he pulls together a group of friends, I'll run a game for them.  We have lots of mutual friends, and I easily can pull together a gaming group from people I know, but this is in many ways is starting out as his game.  The final assembly involves 3 people who haven't played any RPG for around a decade and two first timers.

Originally I was looking at maybe doing a 3rd ed game, since I own those already.  But we took a look through the 5e books and both of us found the information flow highly preferable.  So, a unplanned for cash outlay later, the 5e Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual now live in my RPG library.

I'd been kind of mulling around some ideas for a game for some time at this point, but was a bit leery about actually running a game myself.  So this all worked as an impetus to write things out and start filling out the overall storyline.  What I should have realized, but failed to realize until actually starting to go through character creation with the players, is that the players themselves provide incredible amounts of plot fodder.  Also, for folks who haven't taken a look at D&D 5e, they've added tools for providing at least a skeletal character background which we found invaluable in some cases.

We ended up with:
  • a gnome warlock tinkerer with an itch for forbidden knowledge and who is on the outs with the tinkerer's guild after nearly destroying the hall on his first summoning of his archfey
  • a dragonborn barbarian, excommunicated from the order he had hoped to become a paladin of, struggling with chaotic tendencies, and seeking redemption
  • a human monk out in the world for the first time, following clues and rumor about ruins of an elemental citadel on the material plane
  • a half-orc fighter found as an infant by woodelves who raised him, trying to understand his place in the world
  • a wood elf druid seeking to prevent forces from throwing the elemental balance into utter chaos.
Some working of ideas was needed, especially since it turns out I'm not crazy about a lot of the deity stuff in the manuals.  In particular I didn't feel like using Bahamut, and I don't like their interpretation of Tiamat.  I also needed to come up with a workable archfey, and develop the fall (and the seeds of ultimate redemption) of our failed neophyte paladin.  For those curious, based on actual research into gods, went with Tyr instead of Bahamut, and the fall involved misusing a holy weapon in anger and having the weapon and its power shatter (and yes, I am a Dresden Files fan...).  We settled on the Dark Smith of Drontheim as the archfey (cribbed that from Mercy Thompson, but hey, a fae that works with metal fits really well).

Our first game was a kobold dungeon crawl, because kobolds are great for a shakedown quest.  Our adventurers were all in the same town when they noticed a hubbub, and found a gathering crowd of angry townsfolk because it seems kobolds had broken into a home and stolen away an infant.  An offer of payment helped convince them to sign up for kobold hunting & extermination, and off we all went.

The dice... were fractious.  Kobolds in the Monster Manual have an AC of 12.  Their attack bonuses ranged from 1-4, but the players had a beast of a time actually hitting them.  On the bright side, the NPCs were semi useful, and the kobolds were also not that successful in raining down destruction.  But while roughed up, all the players survived.  However the barbarian decided that the best way to deal with a shrine that clearly pre-dated the kobolds and was not a god they're known to worship, was to defile it by defecating on it.  So, now I need to figure out an appropriate way for that to mess things up for him.  Minimal loot was acquired, and no signs of the stolen infant were discovered, but they were paid and celebrated as heroes for eradicating the nest.

The best part is everyone had fun.  The players enjoyed my story telling, as well as their combat and exploration.  Getting people to actually dialog was a challenge, but that was an expected challenge and one that I expect to continue having to push for.  Everyone had fun, no one died, and a main objective was completed within a game.  That's pretty solid, especially as I was worried that they'd roll through the kobold cave and on to the next chapter all too quickly.  I'm really looking forwards to running the next bit, and seeing how the characters and players react to what I have in store.

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