Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back in the Saddle!

This Pack of Gnolls has finally begun a new Dungeons and Dragons game! I was gifted a Fifth Edition Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual for Christmas this past year by my father-in-law, and promptly picked up a Dungeon Master’s Guide soon after. I was impressed with what I read, to be sure, and was quite eager to get a game started with my kids.

Unfortunately, that proved difficult. At the time I was working at the Iowa Fertilizer Plant in Southeast Iowa, some 200 hundred miles from home. The money was good, a lot of overtime, but it was damn hard being away from my family. A month ago, there was a massive lay-off at the plant (even though construction wasn’t even close to complete) which sent some 1500 construction workers packing.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for my union hall to find me new employment close to home, and an actual 40-hour work week has given me time for an actual life. It wasn’t long before a good friend asked if I’d be interested in some D&D; he and his buddies hadn’t played in several years. I was eager to give 5th Edition a spin, so characters were made and a game begun!

We have four players; a Halfling thief, a Drow ranger, a Dwarf paladin, and a Tiefling druid. The setting is about as straightforward as it gets for D&D. A big bad red dragon has taken over the peak of a mountain and has started demanding tribute from the city at the base of the mountain. Of course, a long time ago, the mountain was home to a Dwarven kingdom. Now, those ancient halls are filling with monsters answering the dragon’s call for minions and treasure.

We’ve had two sessions so far. With the first we only got as far as a roadway encounter with some goblins as the team made their way to the mountain. With the second they found their way into the mountain, did battle with a couple of bears and a group of orcs. Both sessions resulted in enough experience points for all the characters to level up at the end of each.

I certainly made the critical mistake of really only skimming through the rules before getting started with the game. I’ve read through so many different editions of D&D, including retro-clones, that a lot of the rulesets tend to run together. So the first couple of sessions certainly suffered from a lot of looking-up the rules timeouts, but we are starting to get the hang of it.

I know I didn’t expect the characters to level up quite so quickly, although I did certainly throw some challenging encounters their way, so they earned it.

So far, the only complaint I really have about 5E is that the monsters seem to have just too damn many hit points. For the time being, I feel like I should trust the playtesters before changing very much, and see how it plays out as we progress. I imagine that the rate of progression for the PCs will slow after another session or two, especially as they get deeper into the mountain and the challenges become more cerebral and less combat-oriented.

It is very good to be rolling the dice again, and having a creative outlet. Hopefully, I will be able to start up a game for my kids as well, but that depends on their behavior around the house to get that up and running. I do have some good ideas written up for them, if they can get their acts together! 

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