Saturday, January 10, 2015

Friday Game Night: First session for the 5E campaign

We played the first session of our new D&D 5E campaign last night, set in the city of Grimfest (detailed in the last few blog posts).  There were a lot of logistical elements at work here, so let me break it all down.

First, I have ten players in the campaign, which is far too many for the table.  What I've done is set up three gaming sessions a month on the calendar, and asked everyone to pick two of them, with a general cap of six or seven per session.  So far for January, that has worked for most people, although at least two could only make one of the sessions.  I'm not sure how to handle experience points for the people who can't make two sessions a month and having them get behind the others, but I'll puzzle that out later.

The group's composition:

  • half-orc paladin
  • elf monk
  • human rogue
  • tiefling warlock
  • dragonborn sorcerer
  • elf druid
  • dwarf ranger
  • half-elf bard
  • human cleric
  • undecided
The first six played in the session last night.  They got to wander the city of bit, take in some of the sights, and get introduced to the ruling nobility, the Larvate Sublimity.  Eventually two mountain men approached them to see if they were willing to explore a strange subterranean tomb the two men found out far from civilization in return for a share of the treasure.  The group agreed and set out for the first dungeon exploration.

Now, the tomb of the 99 Mad Monks (which is where they were headed) was created by me using the book Central Casting: Dungeons, which is a great resource for generating random dungeons of the old-school variety.  The downside?  It's a random dungeon of the old school variety, meaning lots of apparently pointless, meandering tunnels and vacant rooms.  Neither of those things is really de rigueur for the current fantasy RPG scene, however, and for a group that was largely raised on 4E three-room dungeon delves, it was a bit of a shock.  By "shock" I mean, "some grumbling and getting bored."

But here's the thing.  I don't like designing dungeon maps. I don't have a knack for it.  I'm more than half tempted to start ripping off ones online rather than put the effort into it.  I like the vaguely random feel of Central Casting: Dungeons, but whatever my gifts as a GM might be, trying to figure out which 20' by 40' room goes where isn't it.

Also humorous?  I stock the dungeon with a bit of variety in the way of monsters, and the group wanders to every room with skeletons in it.  That got boring for them after a while too, but that's player agency for you.

Another quick 5E observation.  Lucky hits kill 1st level PC's.  Two of them dropped below zero last night and had to be healed up.  That's a new thing for them too.

It started to drag near the end, so we concluded the first session.  Turns out the group had nearly made its way through first level, and will likely level up in their next session.

According to the post-game review, the two best things that happened were the druid rushing into a room of skeletons because she was first on initiative, and then realizing to her chagrin that the skeletons were second, and the rogue ducking back out of the dungeon at the very beginning and killing both the mountain men.  She got lucky--their bodies happened to be gnawed on by two bears who were in the area and they were credited with killing them.

A good start, maybe not a great start, but a good start.  Hopefully the campaign will hit its stride soon.


  1. I think Tim's game has about 7. 10 sound like a lot to juggle.

  2. I'm limiting the number of the people at the table at any time to six or seven, because ten is too many to do at once.