DnD – Updates galore!

Ah, it has been a while and I apologise. I’ve been very busy finishing my degree (only a few days before my very last assessment is due).

So The Phandelvers have continued, with the lead party recounts attached below.

As for the girls one, that has sadly sat on the side a little with my own time pressures and their school term starting back up again.

However, they are in the middle of some minor tasks around the campaign. They’ve visited the Hag, neither group thought to ask it a different question. The girls have also visited the traveling mage and provided feedback to the town. Lastly they found their way to Thundertree village and started looking about. They’re not too keen on engaging the spiders or the dragon (unlike another bunch I know!)

However both groups now know where Cragmaw Castle is, and the “not my girls group” now have someone to guide them to the mine, both groups are soon to head into the final chapter of this adventure. Exciting times….

DnD: The Phandelvers…..

So three game reports for you. First up, parts 4 & 5 of the lead game.

But not to be left out, the girls have pushed through their very different game…

Their party headed back to one of the earlier rooms, surprising a pair of bugbears that were tormenting a goblin. The goblin fainted when they burst in and was not in the fight at all.

And again the girls played it differently, knocking the last bugbear out. Interrogating both the bugbear and goblin when they woke up, the party has learnt a lot about the hideout, including that there are other secret doors, where Cragmaw Castle is (the lead party don’t have many clues on this yet), where Glassstaff is and what opposition is left in the Redbrands hideout.

Leaving the bugbear all tied up (and probably dieing from his wounds) they approached the nearby barracks and made short work of the Redbrands in there too. (DM Note: I think I might be softening the opponents up too much, maybe for both groups). Again they interrogated a dieing one, but learnt little new.

Slowly getting through the Manor.

Now they are headed for Glassstaff, but unlike the main party, they have a chance to surprise him by having the goblin show them the secret ways into his rooms.

The gnome, the dwarf and the teifling are stacked ready to enter the next secret door…

Not sure when the girls next round will be. The lead party will be just less than two weeks away (we play on a fortnightly schedule).

DnD: The Other Phandelver continues

The girls got stuck into their game yesterday. A few dropped hints by the townsfolk and they (finally) headed into the Manor. They have a very different approach to the other group. The girls are sneaking by default, and carefully listen at every door they have come across. As you can see from the exploration below this has taken them through the area with a lot of back tracking. For example, at the sight of the skeletons propped up in their caskets the party immediately withdrew. Not sure if they smelled something fishy there.

However, they actually fight quite well. The three Redbrands that set upon them in one room were forced to fight one at a time as the party stayed in the narrow hallway, using ranged attacks over the gnome fighter holding the front line (actually the party is conveniently sized, with the fighter a gnome, the cleric a dwarf and the wizard up the back a tiefling). Without any ranged weapons the bandits were forced to wait until the one in front was dead before they could attack.

My new gaming mat gets its first use…
The session ends after defeating one group of Redbrands, the party moves back into the cellar to decide upon their next action.

They’ve uncovered a trap in advance, found a secret door, and carefully moved back away from any door that had any noise behind it.

The other group just went left and opened everything they came across….

While no way as convenient as uncovering parts of a map on a screen for people across the country, the gaming mat is working well. The Manor fits almost perfectly on this sized one, but I am not sure what will happen with larger maps. (Maybe I need some more mats…).

And sure sometimes my bandit appears as a plate armour wearing fighter or my nothic looks remarkably like a mummy, (and my gnome fighter looks remarkably like a dwarf) but the minis are working well.

Until next game.

DnD: Reporting on 2 games…

My main game seems to be going well. The party has been working steadily through the Redbrands Hideout, but so far have not met their leader GlassStaff. They have a new member too, finding a monk locked in the hideout. Check back in a few days and I’ll have added the write up as well.

The players really seem to be enjoying it, and I am too. Even for our odd time (8am on Sunday morning) their participation is high. I haven’t had any rumours or niggles about people leaving. That tells me that they are enjoying it, and my work as DM is going fine. Most of the support they’ve given me directly has been about their own characters (like the detail of Magic Missile, or Comprehend Languages) so they’re comfortable with the way the game is running.

The biggest drama from the session was that one character who until now, had never been hit, got hit. No biggie you say, but this is the paladin who leads the way into each room and spends each combat toe to toe with the enemy, who have not hit him at all. However, a pair of guards in the hideout managed to strike him several times. I almost made the rest of the party have one round of surprise in response.

The party has grown now, to 6. Large for the module, so I’ve upped the HP on their opponents generally. This makes the combat last, without skewing the encounter too much. Seemed to work so far.

The second party, currently Miss 12, with the odd appearance of Miss 9 has also arrived in Phandalin. Provided the same scenarios they’ve headed off in quite a different direction. This was quite interesting watching these two have quite different reactions and fixate on quite different things. Miss 9 immediately focused on getting paid and pushed to not look through the town, but head off to complete the first task they would get a reward for. Miss 12 was more interested in the Redbrands.

As they basically got up, got a task and bailed from the town I didn’t get a chance to skew them to investigate the Redbrands. They ended up in the wilderness chasing some Orcs.

The orc fight went well though I really had to modify it. With a small party and an encounter more aimed at level 3 characters, I took away several of the additional opponents. I didn’t want to Total Party Kill them in their first game. That would not set a good impression. Doesn’t mean it couldn’t go close though….

So I have two happy parties. I’m enjoying myself and getting a solid amount of DnD in. It gives them something to do when they’re off screen time too. So it’s only positive.

DnD: You want a turn too?

A while back I attempted to get my two interested in playing Dungeons and Dragons. Having not played myself for many years, I rolled out the Basic Set (Red Books) and started them through the adventure included there.

They did show some interest, even more when a friend donated some miniatures to paint up. However they were not interested in a repeat.

Skip forward 3 years and I’m a running the Lost Mines with a group as you know. Sunday afternoon, well after the game, Miss 12 asked if she could have a go. Umm, I certainly wasn’t going to say no. Apart from the whole – get my kids involved in my interests its easier for me to spend time on it selfish motivation, I think there are a couple of positives in D&D. It’s a social game, and most players play face to face. When kids are behind their devices or screens, D&D gives them some “real life” interaction. And there’s another, time away from screens. Even if I used D&D Beyond to hold our characters and as a reference, its still away from the device.

But one of the bigger ones is that it is something that is creative. Sure the DM tells a story, but the DM really sets the scene, what happens is up to the Players. It’s a group storytelling activity, with some supportive mechanics to help with some randomness and tension!

But its also about doing stuff together with my kids.

So Miss 12 rolled a wizard, I added a fighter in support and we started the Lost Mines. I hope it was partly my improved skills and familiarity with being a DM, but I’m sure it was also the more streamlined nature of 5E and the better module but it seemed like she had fun.

Enough that she asked to play again after dinner. And this time Miss 9 joined in too. This was fortuitous as we’d been in some combat and were really looking for some heals! So the premade Cleric joined the party.

We finished the evening having cleared most of the first goblin hideout, though we are stopped having just peeked into a final room full of goblins, but I think they should be able to manage it.

Now we see if they want to play again.

DnD Session 2: First contact with the Redbrands.

Session 2 was a short one this morning. Myself and another player both had commitments so finishing early suited us. The session finished after a first room cleared within the Redbrand’s hideout. A nice clean place to stop.

After two sessions, I am (perhaps a little proudly) pretty confident that these experienced players are enjoying my adventure (The Lost Mines is a pretty good one according to most accounts) and they are enjoying my efforts as DM. Certainly my youngest, busy with Roblox on the computer next to me, seemed amused as I role played some NPCs.

I’m slowly getting the hang of Roll20 and it sure is well thought out. I do think practicing the keyboard shortcuts will help though.

At the moment, the hardest part I am finding is my lack of knowledge of the players abilities. Roll20 (and D&D Beyond does it as well) you can click on spells etc and the details show up in the chat. This helps a lot.

I am in two minds about buying resources though. I like the idea of a shelf full of books of D&D, but having spent all my study using online texts or ebooks, I am torn. The coolness of having the books and being able to open them and look at the art etc, vs the ease and less expense of the online. Then there is the trouble of do I buy it in D&D Beyond, or Roll20? They’re not transferable or compatible? Any thoughts?

Oh, as soon as I can I’ll post up this weeks session write up when our scribe completes it, so watch out for that.

DnD: Session 2 is coming

That first session went really well. My new group of victims players turned up, so we had a full party. I’ll attach a fantastic write up that one of them did for your entertainment.

I thought my DMing went pretty well. I dropped them straight in where the last group left (though the write up starts from the very beginning) and away we went. There is a lot to learn, but I am still most decidedly a beginner, but having players familiar with the game meant that I had to accept their word on their abilities and actions a lot. However, I seem to be able to trust them. For a couple of them, I think they are definitely enjoying the opportunity to be players again, to “take a break” from being the DM.

One wasn’t familiar with the Roll20 system, but we seemed to get it going no worries. One of the previous group has let us keep using their discord server so that was nice.

After a couple of hours we finished up and all agreed to return for this second session. That was my first success!

This part is a bit more, free choice, as they are in a village without a particular goal and not crawling about in a dungeon. I think it will be a good test of whether I can cope with the random directions that they choose.

So enjoy the write up, and I’ll hopefully have another for you in a week or so.

DnD: There’s no TIME!

I’ve kicked off this DM caper and it was pretty much going ok. I didn’t feel like the guys were bored and the other new folk were keeping up. There were some technical difficulties experienced in the Roll20 space – mostly our voice comms were a bit iffy. One of the guys had a discord server, so we jumped onto that and away we went.

We managed have managed two sessions since then. Initially weekly, it dropped to fortnightly and I had different people each one. Then all except one admitted they really couldn’t make the timings so we were about to close it all up.

This is disappointing to me as I really want to play and I’ve decided to DM as it seems like its a good way to actually get a game going (people are more likely to say they’ll play if they don’t have to DM). I know part of the reason is the really awkward time – Sunday morning. This is a really odd time to play, but I really don’t have any choice – the rest of my (life) weekend is all pretty full. I even went as far as making a diagram to see if there was another time I could play.

And there is – 11pm to 1am or so… that time’s free every night….

So as we were about to close up the game, I put a last invitation up on the work boards.

I was amazed when we got about 4 new players. These are experienced guys so it will be interesting to DM them. At least two of them regularly DM, so are looking for a break and just be a player. Next game is next week and so I will see how it goes.

At this stage I’m just going to drop them into where the story was up to. I’ll have a chat with them and see if they are interested in resetting it.

I’m also hoping they might offer suggestion on any of the published modules that they might be interested in. I’m really keen to buy one and can’t decide which. I’m hoping this group stays together and I can run them through something. As I keep reading reviews and such my choice keep changing, but at the moment I am thinking one of these:

  • Out of the Abyss
  • Curse of Strahd
  • Princes of the Apocalypse
  • Tales of the Yawning Portal

Me, Dungeon Master???

About two months ago, I briefly joined in a couple of rounds with a nearby D&D group before it was clear that the timings weren’t going to work for me. This was 5e, and I hadn’t played since 1e when I was in high school (I’ll let you work out how many decades ago that was), so long ago that when I brushed aside the cobwebs the notes had wasted away to nothing anyway. I still have a 1988 printed PHB on the shelf (rats just gave away the answer).

Enthused, but not sure what to do, I asked around across the work network and found a half dozen of us who were all keen to play, mostly all new. So in a fit of altruism, and in order to get the idea moving I volunteered to DM.

Which I haven’t done for that same number of decades… and maybe only once then too.

Being geographically disparate we decided to use Roll20 website to run the game. This gives us an online game board to draw and create on, while providing automated character sheets and a host of other tools to use. It also has audio and video.

We’ve had two sessions so far. I hope its been enjoyable. Its a steep learning curve for me as I try to learn all of the players abilities and manage the game, while we all learn Roll20 and its capabilities. Each session has left me with some homework on things to study and read up on. I also try to make sure that I am reading ahead and preparing so that the short 2 hours that we have is of maximum benefit.

But both sessions have included new people joining, so there’s the inevitable period of setting up characters, things not working and the learning we are all doing about both D&D and Roll20. A couple more sessions and I’m sure we’ll be in the swing of it.

I’m running the group through a module called “Lost Mines of Phandelver”, which was included in the D&D Starter Set. It’s designed for new players (and DMs) so a good start for us.

There is also a host of resources online (which didn’t exist when I started, heck online barely existed when I started). Youtube videos that explain rules more clearly, tips and tricks – both generic and specific to the Lost Mines. The official D&D website and the Roll20 wiki have a heap of stuff as well. I had already picked up the Starter Set a year or more back when the Mini Mabs showed some interest and just before the foray into the other group I picked up the D&D box set with PHB, DM guide & screen and MM. So plenty of references.

I am enjoying it, the group is settling in together. I’d like to see it continue, I’d also like to rotate through as a player, but I’d rather keep the group than force the issue. Because I do enjoy the DMing as well. If it does continue, I’d like to get the Storm King’s Thunder as that looks pretty interesting. Maybe keep the same characters or let them restart…. I think that is some time away as there are at least 3 out of 4 chapters to complete in this one first.