It's been a while since we've actually gotten to play some D&D. Having 5 children in the house can make a guy's life pretty chaotic. Our "regular" group never got regular, due to everyone's crazy schedules and the arrival of the baby in my household. So it's been months since we've been able to actually play some proper D&D (I don't count the Castle Ravenloft board game... that served only to whet my appetite but wasn't exactly filling).
Fortunately, an old friend has moved into the neighborhood, and when I asked him the other night if he ever played D&D, he got pretty excited. He's new to 4E, but was quick to pick a feylock after perusing my Player's Handbook. My wife will be playing her eladrin druid, Celindra. There's only one guy from the old group who was pretty reliable, and we'll probably be bringing him back if he's generally available on Sunday afternoon/evenings. That makes 3 PCs, which is not quite a balanced group for 4E, but its workable. I will resist the urge to run a DMPC, because it's an awful idea if I've ever heard one. However, that means I have to tone down the encounters from the guidelines in the DMG, or I have to bolster their ranks with NPCs or henchmen.
By the way, if you live in the St. Louis, MO, area, and are interested in joining a 4E game on (every other) Sunday afternoon/evenings, drop me a line!
My preferred method is to have different NPCs come and go from the group as the story moves along, depending on the challenges I have in store for the party. Along the way, old friends can become villains, and old villains can become allies. You never know how it will work out. Mostly it'll depend on what the players do, I suppose. I like to think I'm fairly good at improvising. The encounters I write myself are way more enjoyable than the ones I've purchased.
Although, to be fair, I am hoping to find a way to work in the 4E Tomb of Horrors. I bought the damn thing, and I want to put it to use! I'm definitely looking forward to breaking out the dice and the DM screen again, though. This whole process of starting up a new game is fraught with peril, of course. I can't wait to get into world creation mode again! Last time, we went with the whole Nentir Vale, as outlined in the DMG. It was functional, but I'm itching to run something a little more fantastic. But that's a whole different post, friends. Til next time!