Thursday, July 18, 2013

Best Family Home Evening

An absolute highlight from my time in Utah was playing Dungeons & Dragons with my family Monday night.  I had daydreamed up the premise for a quick adventure at work and happened to have my original basic D&D set from 1988 or '89 with me in New York so I asked Cory and Kristen if they'd be all right with me throwing a special secret FHE activity my first night in town.  I then asked my brothers to please be available, but did not tell them what we'd be doing.  After landing in Utah Owen dropped me off at the SLC library while he finished his day's work and I spent the next two hours writing out the plot of the adventure, it was probably my most productive fit of creativity in all of 2013 so far.

I can say it without reservation, the adventure was a total success.  I arrived with six characters already created so we could get right down to the action.  Everyone was able to quickly pick and name a character, I gave a quick and concise explanation of the rules (to which everyone was very attentive, it was amazing, I didn't have to talk over anyone or ask anyone to pay attention) and then our adventure began.  I had invited Blake and Rachel to join us, assuming that Blake would be down but Rachel wouldn't be too interested, but I was wrong about Rachel, she was a champ, totally surprising me one point by knowing exactly how many arrow's remained in her halfling's quiver.  Blake was also an exceptional Blake, seemingly taking delight in being the one hero struck down during the final confrontation of the game (but is Blake's elf simply unconscious or is he dead? The question lingers!) Ellie and Walker also participated, Ellie helping Becky play as Magik the Magic-User and Walker just looking super-interested the whole time.

Here are pictures that Kristen took.  If you still read my blog, then you probably also read Kristen and Cory's blog and already saw those pictures there.  But they're pretty good pictures, right? So you probably don't mind seeing them a second time.

You might ask "Why is everyone writing so much in these photos?" I don't know, I don't remember there being so much writing.  But it's my guess that Kristen took most of these pictures at the very beginning of the game, when everyone was naming their character and making notes and possibly even drawing a picture of their character.

Two-ish year olds love Dungeons and Dragons!

These are some things I learned from the adventure:
  • Players are extremely cautious!  For example, after their first fight with a few weak kobolds (which they were so reticent to approach or attack), they wanted to return to town to alert their mentor.  I had to improvise that their mentor had told them he'd be gone for the day to force them to move towards their first dungeon.  Likewise, the heroes were always examining for traps or strangeness at every opportunity, a teeny tiny frustration when I just wanted them to proceed (like when they were extremely wary of a magical item they had discovered and almost didn't pick up this plot-essential tool) or when I wanted them to learn a lesson that they should always look for traps but having a trap sprung on them except they looked for it and found it anyway.
  • Six heroes is a lot!  The adventure had recurring encounters with one strong monster and they came dangerously close to killing it right away.  Eventually I had to completely fudge its hit points to keep it alive until the big climactic ending I had planned. Next big bad will have a much better armor class or only be vulnerable to +1 or better magic weapons.
  • I'm not sure if I should provide illustrations of items and encounters or not.  Same goes for mapping dungeons.  Everyone seemed fine with just descriptions.  At first I was very specific about distances and areas, this I got looser and looser about as we were all were getting caught up in the adventure.  And isn't that what it's all about: Everyone getting caught up in an adventure?
So, yes.  Like I said earlier, Dungeons and Dragons night was a full success.  Probably the best DM'ing of my whole life.  Jr. high DM Brigham only wanted to make characters all the time and fights were mathematical (not in the Adventure Time way), now I know it should be about the story telling.  I didn't even keep track of XP during the fight, no one was going to level up, it was just an evening's adventure.  Will our adventurers convene again? I certainly hope so.


sarah said...

That is the best FHE I have ever heard of!

cz said...

I like to think that Spencer had a lot to do with your story telling techniques.

Brigham said...

One thing I definitely learned from Spencer was to prepare a script for all the major parts of the game.

Dad said...

If Walker looked like Bill Murray in your last post, he looks like a cherub in this one, like he could hang out with the two who have their elbows on the bottom frame of the Sistine Madonna.