Sorry of the long silence; as The Longest Term grinds toward its distant end, hobby time has dwindled. Hopefully some more to report tomorrow but for today, a report on our second session of 5th Edition D&D.
One of our players wasn't able to make it. In the grand tradition of gaming, the other players metaphorically strapped his character to a sackbarrow and wheeled him round like artillery.
We left our Heroes bickering outside of a Goblin bandit hideout. They sent the Dwarf in as he could see in the dark. After being left to talk to the Wizard for the few minutes, the Dragonborn Cleric decided to go in as well. Hilarity promptly ensued as he tripped over the dwarf in the dark.
After dealing with a sentry quite stealthily, our noble warriors promptly screwed up Stealth checks and stumbled into the main Goblin barracks where they fought a handful of green skins; the dwarf fighter got quite badly injured and one of them rushed off to the next cavern; our heroes gave hot pursuit and promptly staggered into an ambush. The dwarf, in true dwarven fashion, charged into the middle of the stalagmite studded chamber and came face to face with the Bugbear bandit chieftain and his pet wolf. The cleric tried a flanking maneuver and a bumped into the goblin who'd run in.. He also got shot by another goblin somewhere else.
There then developed one of those lovely fights you get in RPGs which make the players feel like they're in an action movie. The dwarf was chipping away at the bugbear: the cleric cast a divine rebuke blast of holy light at the chieftain,which made it turn and charge him while the wizard put the goblins to sleep. The bugbear smashed the cleric down to -1 HP and into the realm of Death Saves while the wizard went round staving the heads of the sleeping goblins in with his staff.
The dwarf out the bugbear down and yen totally failed to hit the wolf. The cleric failed a death save, passed one... (Under the new rules, a death save is straight 50-50 on a d20 - three fails and you're gone) And then. Critical - he's back in the game!
All three of them now gather round what is apparently the hardest wolf in gaming history as none of them seem to be able to hit it. Eventually, they put it down and pause, gasping, to take stock.
Well, all except the dwarf, who immediately starts drinking.
After looting the area and divvying up the treasure they decided to barricade the door and take a rest so that the Cleric could try and regain some HP.
The rules around rests make this a feature of longish explorations; it looks like most groups are going have to have rest after 3 or so major events. Mechanically, this is a great chance to build up tension - can they afford to camp here? Who takes watch and therefore doesn't get a rest? And does the DM roll on a wandering monster table? Or what are the other goblins doing? It's soemthing to build into adventure design.
As it was their first, I allow them to rest without incident and, after a discussion in the party about the fact the cleric has so far completely failed to hit anything with his hammer - is he actually unable to use it and just carrying it to compensate for something? - they head off.
Into, I should say, the bit of the dungeon they should have gone to first. There's a lovely scripted bit in this Starter Pack Adventure, The Lost Mine of Phandelvar, where they have to negotiate with a goblin chieftain who is holding a hostage over a long drop. They partly have to decided whether to trust him or, if they attack, work out how without risking the hostage. It's a situation ripe with tactical and dramatic potential.
What actually happened in play was that the party ran in like a Mediaeval SWAT team; before the goblin could even pick up the hostage, the wizard blasted half the goblins with burning hands and the cleric blasted the remainder with his lighting breath. The dwarf sprinted through the cavern, up the steps and smashed the goblin chief down with one hit.
All in one turn.
So, having completely annihilated one of the major dramatic scenes they got to interact with the prisoner - a human who I played as Sean Bean (so they're probably expecting him to die soon) - and got some ideas in what is going on in the area and where the kidnapped dwarf has got to.
There were some other shenanigans involving a cart a day's travel away and stolen supplies and a truly astonishing desire to not lose a single scrap of possible loot, but that was more or less it. The session was enough to put them up to Level 2.
My impressions of this new Edition of D&D seem to be confirmed. It's really is an excellent piece of game design; streamlined, intuitive and easy to pick up. It's so much easier to run than 3rd edition and the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanism is simple brilliant; there's no general modifiers - you're either making a straight roll or an advantaged or disadvantaged one. On an advantaged roll, you roll 2d20 and take the highest and the opposite for disadvantage. It's incredibly elegant - too fuzzy for a wargame but exceptionally good for an rpg when you want the scene to keep moving.
The starter adventure is very good; in the first section they've basically done a dungeon and got to learn how their characters work and pick up the rules. The next bit is basically a town and a load of adventure leads where they get to do whatever they like.
If you've ever thought of having a go at any sort of role-playing game, this is probably the best time if you can get a group together. This new edition of D&D is honestly the best gateway drug imaginable.