Thursday, 15 January 2015

Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies

It’s a curious saying that floats around our D&D table. The general gist – piss off the DM, bad things will happen to you. And the party. At least that’s my interpretation. It could also be interpreted as a warning to check for traps – a warning our party failed to heed the last time we played, fortunately not to our untimely doom. Though there was this moment where we nearly brought about the end of the world, but then one of the best, lightning-bolt-from-the-gods, right-at-the-last-second critical success rolls saved not our bacon, but the world’s bacon too. And we like bacon.

Oh, by the way, you’re welcome world. Fantasy world, but nonetheless, we saved your asses. You’re welcome. Just saying.

If you haven’t guessed already, today I am going to be talking about Dungeons & Dragons. It’s been given a paragraph of attention, once upon a many Moon ago. But one of my DMs (I have at least four, depending on campaign), Harlequin, queried my lack of a dedicated D&D post. In the interest of rocks not falling and everybody not dying, it seemed about time. Plus my conversion from D&D novice to D&D adept is now complete. Not only do I own the requisite Player’s Handbook, I invested in the Monster’s Manual and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. I’m a long way from making rocks fall and killing everyone, but the intent is now there.

In the brief paragraph written once upon a many Moon ago (a phrase I appear to be awfully fond of), I described my first steps into the world of tabletop roleplaying games. Here now, a brief overview of some highlights from the year that has been my first in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons. First off – the heist caper.

This was something from our primary campaign, run by Harlequin. We’ve progressed to Act Two of her campaign’s story arc and we’re learning more about the nefarious big bads and exactly what we’re up against. But we need more information. The hitch – that information is in the heavily guarded Royal Palace. Wait! There’s an opportunity though. The Prince’s birthday. Under the cloak of the festivities we could sneak in, find the information...oh and rescue some of our comrades who had been unceremoniously captured. (My character, an undead fire mage who has died not once but thrice in the course of the campaign, was one of them).

Rolling a temporary player character, we plotted our way in, we planned our very own heist caper. Our rogue would gamble his way into gaining an invitation to the Prince’s birthday party (featuring a beautifully done poker rolling mechanic) and then help distract the Royal Family. How does he achieve this? Well, it wasn’t part of the plan, but...he led the Royal Family in raucous drinking song. That’s right. He got the King, the Queen and the young Prince utterly plastered and sang. Loudly. Which was fortuitous, because behind the scenes, the rest of us were busy killing people.

The heist was brilliant. It was great fun. I got to roll a different character then return to my original character, which was a nice change of pace and renewed my appreciation for the fire mage with a propensity for blowing himself up. And our plan for the caper was flawless! Well, nearly.

We may have forgotten to plan our exit route. This resulted in my undead mage being stuck in a water pipe (luckily he doesn’t need to breath) behind three others who kept getting stuck and the my temporary character, a Psion gnome, having to escape through the palace’s effluent pipes. Nearly drowning in them in the process. That boy is going to have some serious psychological issues with toilets for the rest of his life. So there’s a note for next time. MAKE A FRAKKIN’ ESCAPE PLAN!

Also in our campaign we’ve engaged in a little bit of piracy...a kind of side-mission, off the main quest, which resulted in our rogue reducing an entire Navy frigate to cinders. Suffice it to say, my fire mage is unimpressed with this demarcation of his duties as the party’s official burner of things. Oh and we now have a stake in a pirate ship. Sometimes a bit of mutiny can be a good thing. I mean, this pirate ship could find itself coming in immensely handy during our campaign.

But this isn’t the only campaign we engage in. Harlequin’s campaign has been referred to as a “homebrew”. The settings, the country and its cities, have all been devised by her. We also play a campaign run by Jester, who has set his in the worlds of the Forgotten Realms (all I really know is that it’s a D&D campaign setting and Jester is pretty much an undisputed expert on all things within the Forgotten Realms).

Within Jester’s Forgotten Realms campaign, I am once again rolling a fire mage. Does anyone see a pattern emerging here? Except, instead of incinerating himself to death, it would appear my character has a vested interest in killing the party outright. In our first session of this campaign, I decided that there was this one building that Jester had described in an interesting way. It seemed really, really important. But no one wanted to investigate it. So when everyone had settled in for the night and it was my watch, I decided to saunter off on my own and investigate. In the process lighting a torch and essentially summoning a company of orcs right down on top of my head.

Fortunately for me, one of my party didn’t trust me, remained awake and watched me sneak out. There was a neat bit of battling, I got a bit of a telling off, then we headed off to the big spooky house on top of hill, the spooky house that wasn’t reduced to rubble in a city laid to waste. I guess I was interested in entirely the wrong building...

I could go on, explain in depth and detail all my D&D exploits...but then I think I’d be missing some kind of point. I’ll be honest, I went into this post not exactly sure what I was going to say. I think the general gist of what I’ve been trying to say with my anecdotes of fun times in D&D is that this is an awfully fun game. I thank Harlequin and Jester for drawing me into this world and I look forward to the raucous drinking song, rampant piracy and rambunctious escapades our parties will find themselves in during our various campaigns this year.

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