|What are we playing again?|
Gambling Den - Jean Eugene Buland
So.. Every table is different. Each group of players bring their own experiences and expectations to the game. I've been running games for something like 30 years (why did I fall into the role of the eternal-DM?) so I've seen a lot of different combinations.
This is one of my first all-newbie groups.
It started last year when Stranger Things was airing its second season. One of my classmates said hey, one of these days I'd like to try D&D. I of course offered to run a game. A couple of others in the room asked to join in as well. Hey, instant group!
I was nervous. I'd run games for my friends in school and uni. I'd run games for colleagues while working at a computer-games company. But this was an assortment of folk taking part in a culinary school elective class.
Are they geeks like me?
I tried to ask what kind of D&D they wanted to play. The full experience! The pure game! Well, I didn't want to get into the nitty gritty of rule sets or rules variants. So I found the new hotness of the D&D 5e starter set and ran them through "The Lost Mine of Phandelvar". Pre-made characters and all.
It was a hit. Human Noble Fighter, Dwarven Soldier Cleric, Halfling Criminal Rogue, and Human Hero Fighter. Nessa, Hendrik, Arry, May. They rescued Sildar, went to town and gathered folk to rescue cousin Gundren, planned a decisive attack on Cragmoor Castle, and dived into the Lost Mines. Along the way Arry gained revenge against his nemesis, they made arrangements with criminals, and eventually drove off the dragon of Thundertree.
The game paused over the summer as we scattered around to world to work at various restaurants. We came back with winter approaching and a few questions arose - can we play some more?
The things that my players loved most of all was getting into their character's stories. Not in a I want to develop a big backstory, but how would my character react to these events. Often the players chafed at the pre-made backstories. But they also enjoyed how they fit into the adventure. They had hooks into the game world they could pull at when they couldn't imagine anything else to do. So some pre-made hooks for RP are important
My first tentative steps into letting the players make their own characters was a bit of a failure. I showed them the 5e Player's Handbook... Classes, Specialisations, Feats, Spells, Skills, Equipment Lists! Umm... you know we have to work on those days... maybe we can start next month..
So I decided to do a little pruning. Taking inspirations from B/X Essentials I used as many options as I could to streamline choices. Offering a choice when the option isn't understood is a false choice. This leads to dissatisfaction. I only wanted to offer a few, clear and understandable, choices.
As said before in Meet the Characters I used random character generation. This made the basics into a kind of mini-game - lets make a story around the results of these die rolls - which is the perfect kind of fun to have while everyone is full of munchies and wine. And I reduced the class choices, solve problems with Violence, Magic, or Cunning. After reading the DMs guide I transformed skills into keywords of class and background. Since one of my players is excited by exploring magic (possibly finding a magic school) I had to do something about the magic system. I got rid of the horror of 5e spell slots etc by using the magic system from Wonders & Wickedness: much simpler and full of more "magical" magic :)
But... the actual system is still in flux. So far we've only played a couple of session. One of those wasn't even D&D. I'll have to give some more thought in how to run the characters in play... and more importantly, how do they level up?