Dusting off the dice

Looking back at the last couple of years of my blog, I’m slightly surprised that I haven’t posted anything about my return to playing D&D, which has been one of my major recreational activities since the summer before last. Mind you, I didn’t blog at all for much of that time, so maybe it’s not so surprising.

As I mentioned in a previous post (several years ago), I grew up playing roleplaying games (RPGs). I didn’t actually list D&D (that’s Dungeons & Dragons, arguably the classic fantasy RPG, in case you were wondering) in that post, but it was probably the first such game I played (back in the days of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, before even 2nd edition D&D existed). Fairly soon, we moved onto other games and eventually I stopped playing RPGs altogether for quite a few years, though not without occasionally thinking that it would be nice to play again. (I did continue to play computer RPGs from time to time, but it’s really not the same thing.)

About 18 months ago, several friends and I got together to start a D&D campaign, led by one who had actually played fairly recently, though I think this was his first go as dungeon master. By this point, D&D had reached its 5th Edition and this was the one we were, and are, using. We got stuck into the officially published Horde of the Dragon Queen campaign, albeit with quite a lot of additional homebrew material from Rob, the DM. My character was a bard called Vrach Kto (a far too literal Russian translation of “Doctor Who”) and he was quite instrumental in keeping the party together in the early sessions when I was the only one other than Rob with any experience of how RPGs work. Unlike previous editions of D&D, in which bards were seriously gimped, they are actually a pretty useful class in 5e, and probably one of my favourites (though I also have a soft spot for druids and, as in most other things, I tend to the view that variety is the spice of life).

Several months later, Vrach met an unfortunate end when one of his companions rashly set off a gas trap which forced us to flee unprepared into a room full of bad guys. Unperturbed, I created a new character, a dragonborn paladin called Claudius Occulus, and the campaign continued. But not for very long, as we soon took an extended break to allow Rob more time to write his homebrew content for the adventure.

Rather than putting our D&D on hold indefinitely, we launched into a series of one-shot adventures with different members of the group taking turns as DM, and then started on another campaign (The Lost Mines of Phandelver, from the 5e Starter Set), with me at the helm. That’s a much shorter campaign and we are about half-way through by now, but it is proving difficult to get all the players together at the same time so we are still throwing in quite a few one-shots, which is a great opportunity to play a variety of characters at different levels, and doesn’t need the same players (or DM) every time.

This Saturday we’re due to be playing a one-shot with a party of 9th level characters, which should be fun as the highest I’ve ever played under 5e rules (which allow for characters up to level 20) is level 5. I’m in the process of creating a new character for this game, using a more or less random character generation scheme I came up with – so far she’s shaping up to be a female human bard who will probably resemble Vrach Kto to a certain extent, though less inclined to wade into the middle of combat.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we get back to Rob’s campaign too. As I recall, we finished our last session of that one half way up a tower full of fiendish puzzles on our way to hoist a pair of bloomers we’d just stolen from the local nobility on a flagpole as part of a challenge that Claudius, aided by his companions, had taken on in order to impress a guard captain we were trying to persuade to cooperate in our attempt to stop a crazy dragon cult from taking over the known world. Or something like that (it’s been a while!).

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