Dungeons & Dragons: Father and Son

One subject that I don’t discuss as frequently as I like is Dungeons & Dragons. I try to stay up to date regarding the latest supplemental material and core books, etc. But It’s been several years since I actually made a post about the current state of the game.

If you look back on this site, you’ll see my very first entry regarding Dungeons & Dragons is when I discussed the upcoming release of what is now known as Fifth Edition. Dungeons & Dragons has has a tumultuous history. But I think it is safe to say that D&D 5E has ended up being a smashing success. In my opinion, Wizards of the Coast (D&D’s parent company), has finally hit on the right formula. No longer are the bookstore shelves packed will useless, poor quality supplements. Instead, every single release is filled with quality, well tested material. Any “up in the air” play-options are instead posted online in a series of articles called “Unearthed Arcana”. Players are encouraged to download these game options for free and try them out. This allows 5E players to customize the style of the game they are playing, without weighing down the core rules with countless, redundant options.

Recently, my 13-year old son expressed a serious interest in the game. So, I began a search to find a new group of players that are family-friendly. I’m happy to say, I found what I was looking for! For the last month or so, my son and I have been spending our Saturday Nights at a local game shop playing D&D.  It was a bit of a proud moment when I gifted him with his very own copy of the Player’s Handbook… I still remember my father buying mine for me. So far, he has really enjoyed the game. Plus, getting out and meeting new people has also help foster some valuable social skills.

When I started playing again a few years back, I found myself participating in some official, sanctioned games. These days, I no longer concern myself with that. Currently, our DM is running the “Out of the Abyss” adventure, which is an actual official D&D story, but we’re not actually participating the “Adventurer’s League”.  It’s a much more relaxed and laid back atmosphere.

I plan to begin posting a little more regularly about my D&D adventures. I’ll also be covering some of the books that I previously decided against reviewing on the site. Aside from the PHB, DMG and MM, there’s really only been two other “source books” released – the rest have all been hardback adventures. So I had originally planned not to really spend my time on those. But, to keep things chugging along, I have changed my mind about that.  So, sometime within the next month I’ll start discussing some of these. Stay tuned!

Dungeons & Dragons: Volo’s Guide to Monsters

Wow! It’s been a while since I made a Dungeons & Dragons post. Almost two years. But, it’s also been that long since Wizard’s  released a core supplement. Everything they’ve put out in the meantime has either been adventure modules or campaign source material. But finally we have something of interest to talk about;  Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

What we have here is an interesting combination of both a reference book and a monster manual, all rolled into one. The first half of this book deals strictly with monster lore. This is mainly of interest to Dungeon masters who may wish to know more “scientific” details behind some of the more iconic monsters in the game. It’s written much like a research paper. For example, there’s a section on Beholders that includes everything you could ever want to know: life cycle information, physical details, diet, etc.

Second, there’s small area that introduces a handful of optional playable races to the 5th edition game. That’s always interesting, albeit controversial.

Finally, we have the real gem. The Bestiary. And it is filled with tons of classic, forgotten 1e monsters! (Including some of my old favorites; Darklings, Flail Snails, Red Caps…. classic stuff!)

Sadly, I haven’t been playing much D&D lately. But, I’m still relentlessly collecting every official 5E supplement. I know the time will come sooner or later when I will be able to pick up one of my favorite hobbies again.  So, if you’re just getting back into the game, or even if you’ve been trucking along the whole time, Volo’s Guide to Monsters is a quality release. No 5E DM should be without it, in my opinion.

Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Master’s Guide 5E

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Confession time! Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my weekly D&D game, I missed a week back in the fall due to family vacation and I have not played since. The thought of missing a week’s worth of content discouraged me a bit. I guess that’s the drawback to playing a sanctioned game; it goes on with or without you. Despite my lack of playing, I still maintain an interest and I’m still buying the new releases so that when I decide to play again, I’ll have a whole library at my disposal.

So that brings me to my latest acquisition, the 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. This book was actually released back in December, so I’m a little late with this post. But that’s given ample time to flip through and look over this product and I have to say, I’m very impressed. I’ve spent a lot of time with my nose in various DMGs over the years and I was delightfully surprised to see that the 5E DMG is packed with more content than I’ve seen yet. All the staples that a Dungeon Master would expect from a DMG is here: treasure tables, optional rules, game lore, etc. But while previous manuals have often provided barebones information on many topics, this book really expands on them.

For example, in the older 1e and 2e guides that I’m used to, the section describing Planes of Existence is usually relegated to a paragraph or two with a simple rudimentary diagram, this book gives the planes their own chapter. Which I personally found to be fantastic, as the Outer Planes are one of my favorite aspects of D&D.

So again, this new version of the Dungeon Master’s Guide is just another example of what Wizard’s of the Coast is doing right in the his new edition of the game. Now that the big three core books are out, I’m very curious to see what types of products they are going to offer us next (aside from playable adventures).

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Dungeon & Dragons: Monster Manual 5E

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A brief update here on D&D related things. I’m still attending and enjoying the D&D Encounters at my local games store. I’ve found that buying the “grab bag” boxes of miniatures can be quite addicting… So far I’ve managed to acquire a few neat pieces though.

Recently, I got my hands on the new version of the Monster Manual and I have to say, I’m very impressed with this book. Back in the 1e days, Monster Manuals were very thin and contained only black and white artwork. I enjoyed the old 1e books regardless. By the time the 2nd edition came out, the developer had the terrible idea to release loose-leaf pages of monsters. The plan was for players to create their own monster compendiums using a big white binder, but for me, the pages always got torn or fell out, etc. It was a big pain.

This book on the other hand, is very well put together and feature absolutely breathtaking artwork for each monster. I found the contents of the book itself to cover quite a bit of ground. I see things here that I remember seeing in the old Fiend Folio. I’m very excited to see what might lie in the future monster indexes. So far, I’ve been VERY impressed with this version of D&D.

Dungeons & Dragons: 5E Player’s Handbook and Adventuer’s League experiences

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Last Wednesday I played my first actual game of Dungeons & Dragons in almost twenty years. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had an interest in Dungeons & Dragons since I was around 11 years old. I played my first games with some family friends, a bunch of young AirForce guys. Through them, I learned the basics. We played a few AD&D 1E games, then switched over the brand new 2nd Edition. This occurred while I still living in Japan. Once I got back to the states, I still collected the books, but I had a very hard time finding a dedicated group. A lot of the kids my age didn’t share my maturity level and when I did manage to get a game together, it ended up being filled with people making dick jokes, or pseudo-sexually roleplaying. Not my cup of tea. By the time 3rd Edition came out, I did catch wind of some serious groups in my area, but my interest had shifted to other things.

Over the years, 3rd edition split into 3.5 and then 4th. 3.5 loyalists made their own game; Pathfinder, and it got very fragmented and confusing. But, once I learned a 5th edition was coming, my interest was sparked.

I decided that instead of falling into the trap of trying to get friends to play, I would seek out a group of serious gamers. I used Meetup.com to find an official group in my area, I RSVP’d and took the plunge.  Here’s how it went down:

 

After registering, I went and bought myself a copy of the Player’s Handbook and spent a good part of the afternoon reading over it, and making a character. For the most part the process was fairly straightforward. I did get confused at some points when it came to ability modifiers. I wasn’t sure how to record these accurately at first. Rolling stats was easy. Then came the racial modifiers. Ok. Done. Then came the class modifiers. Ok… Proficiencies were next. I was told to choose 4. Then, I find out that some are assigned to me automatically. Did I need to change my original choices if there was overlap? Where these additional? I found myself jumping between two or three chapters just trying to figure out what exactly I was supposed to record.

When it came to equipping my character, I was given a list of starting items. Then, ANOTHER list when choosing a character background. It was clear as mud at first. It wasn’t until I actually got to the game table and asked other players did things start to clear up.

I guess my biggest gripe is, there’s really no clear cut step 1, step2, step 3, etc, in the PHB. No one is going to read it cover to cover. It is a reference manual. Maybe the basic version of the game or the version in the starter set is a bit clearer, I don’t know. Regardless, that is my big gripe.

Upon arriving at the game store, I went to the gameroom in the back. There were five tables and they were already filling up. Four games of 5E D&D and 1 Pathfinder game. Everyone was friendly and handshakes went around as you might expect. Shortly after taking a seat, I was handed a DCI enrollment card. This is apparently to officially register me in the DCI rankings for Wizards of the Coast. My membership number allows me to participate in official convention games as well as track my progress in the new “Adventurer’s League”. Upon registering on the website later that day, I didn’t really see any way to keep up with this, however.

The game ran for two hours. I didn’t really expect much to get done honestly, but we did actually play for a while. For the record, I rolled a Tiefling Rogue. I’ve always enjoyed playing “thief” type characters, and the Tiefling race was new to me. This was something we didn’t have in the old days. The game we started was the Tyranny of Dragons. This is official storyline/module that is running between now and March of 2015. For more information on this, click here: Tyranny of Dragons

The official game-world in fifth edition is Forgotten Realms. This felt comfortable to me from my days playing 1e and 2e. Not a lot of backstory was provided, I get the feeling that the Dungeon Master was a bit of a rookie… I heard a lot more detail coming from some of the other tables. But, I’m not going to complain. At this point, I’m certainly no pro. I’ve been out of the game for a long long time, and I had PLENTY of questions. Everyone was nice enough to take the time to answer them, so again, no complaints. I was given a print out with a description of several factions. I was told I could choose a faction to align my character with if I wished. I picked one and then was given a very nice folder to keep. Inside were some official character sheets, a description of the faction and some sort of registrations codes. One was to redeem an item in the D&D Neverwinter MMO, the other… I’m still not sure what it’s for yet. Still, it was a nice unexpected freebie.

The gist of our night was this: rumors of a town being ransacked by bands of Kobolds. Call to arms for all abled adventurers, etc etc. Upon arriving, we do indeed find a town in peril. Smoke is billowing from the ruined city and a dragon is circling the skies overhead. Our party made it’s way into the city and joined up with a group of characters that were being attacked by roaming bands of Kobolds. Battles ensued. Then another, and another and another…. the rest of the night was basically battles as we made our way through the town towards the keep. Despite what seems to be slow progress, I had a lot of fun. It was a blast.

There was a lot more combat right out of the gate than I expected. The DM seemed unclear on certain things when asked, but overall it went very well. At this point, I’m still in the learning stage so I’m not taking things too seriously. I plan to attend this week and I will again post my assessment of this week’s game as well.

Dungeons & Dragons: Character Creation

Tonight for the first time in nearly twenty years, I’m going to play Dungeons & Dragons. As I’ve mentioned here before, the 5th edition of D&D was recently released. A free version of the rules were published online for anyone to use, and a low-budget starter set was also released as well. This week, the first core rulebook appeared on store shelves.

I decided a while back that I really wanted to get back into this hobby and the release of the 5th edition was the perfect opportunity to do so. Recently, I joined a local group on Meetup.com and the first officially sanctioned game is tonight. This morning, I went to my local hobby store and picked up a copy of the Player’s Handbook. I plan to fully review this book in the coming weeks once I’ve had a chance to really sink my teeth into it.

As for tonight’s game, I’ll also post my thoughts on the experience. This is first time I’ve ever sat down to play a game like this with total strangers, so I’m not really sure what to expect. We shall see how it goes.

Now, I have to sit down and actually prepare a character for tonight’s event. A quick glance at the book shows a lot of changes from what I’m used to. Back in the old days of 1e and 2e, things seemed quite simple. From what I’ve seen so far, there are some rather exotic options (half-dragons, half-demons). Also the classes seem to include areas of specialty that you can choose. This is also something I’ll need to wrap my head around.

My working knowledge of D&D pretty much ends with the first and second edition. I’ve heard bits and pieces of 3E and 4E,  and I have a very rough concept of how the D20 system worked. The word on the street is that this current version is truly the best of the old and new. So, with an open mind and no real expectations I’m about to roll the dice and see what happens. Stay tuned in the coming days for updates.