Television is rather a frightening business. But I get all the relaxation I want from my collection of model soldiers.
Peter Cushing

Saturday 22 November 2014

Interregnum - A Review of Dungeons and Dragons: The Lost Mines of Phandelvar

Just a quick note in two parts about my first go at running a roleplaying game in a decade.

Part the First: the game

The new edition of D&D is lovely. It's jettisoned a large amount of clutter from the rules; although it's kept that awful class and level system - although that does have a certain retro charm - the rest of it very much feels like a game that's taken  notice of the evolution of rulessets over the last twenty years.

The use of a D20 makes the odds very unpredictable - there's a huge amount of swing in combats and skills checks; the advantage mechanism - which is a bloody brilliant bit of design - mitigates this somewhat but I've added to that with allowing players to use Inspiration for rerolls.

And Inspiration - we're dealing with an edition of D&D which mechanically rewards players for playing their characters. We're through the looking glass, here.

The Lost Mines is an adventure that comes in the starter box. It's neat, well structured and has a good balance of set-pieces and sandbox freedom that is an excellent introduction to the concept of roleplaying for novices. I can imagine a new GM being a touch overwhelmed by it as I've already had to go quite fast and loose with some elements to make it flow. There is one encounter about halfway through that is going to kill any party that rushes in where angels fear to tread -- which I'm all in favour of.

Basically, if anyone is umm-ing and ahh-ing about buying this new edition, go for it. You won't be disappointed.

Part the Second: the play's the thing

So, we have 3 players. A female Religious Studies teacher; a male RS teacher; and a male IT Network Manager and Web Designer. Respectively, they created a Dwarf Fighter, a Dragonborn Cleric and a Human Wizard. As they hadn't had any RPGs under their belt before, I decided to give them the full experience and have them meet in a tavern.

It didn't go well.

The dwarf threw nuts at the head of the dragonborn; when the cleric went over to batter the 'shortarse runt', the wizard tripped him up -- with a crit, no less. Things went rapidly downhill from there.

I actually missed a trick here - I should have locked them all up and played it as The Usual Suspects; but alas I am rusty and missed the chance. Anyway, by an NPC resorting to bribery, I managed to get them escorting a wagonload of supplies up north.

They traveled for a day without speaking to each other.

They camped the night without speaking to each other (and didn't post a piquet - if that happens again I shall destroy them with a wandering beastie of some description).

The dwarf seems to be developing a drinking problem.

Thankfully, a goblin ambush provided something of a common enemy; party relationships were not helped by the fact that the wizard took out more than the Cleric who is operating under the assumption that he is an effective warrior - he's yet to see the Dwarf fighter go The Full Gimli.

Anyway, we left it where they were heading into the Goblin hideout in pursuit of that most noble of all adventurers - loot.

So basically it took them three hours to go from never having played D&D to breaking into someone's home to nick their stuff. I'd say that counts as a success, wouldn't you?

So my question is - I need some good miniatures for the characters. Any suggestions for the following (and you know I'm happy to convert and sculpt as required):

  • A male human wizard, aged and bearded, robed, quarterstaff and with a pointy hat - no brim. 
  • A male dwarf with a two-handed warhammer, slung shield and chainmail. Flagon of ale would be nice but not essential.
  • A male dragonborn cleric in chainmail with a two-handed warhammer, slung shield. Wings would be nice but not a dealbreaker.

Any thoughts gratefully appreciated.

I promise I'll stop the D&D posts soon and get back to the wargaming - I have another WFB match coming up.


  1. Sounds good - do keep us up-to-date!

    As for miniatures, it might be worth looking at Midlam Miniatures - Oathsworn do nice dwarfs -

  2. These guys are expensive but the sculpts are truely stunning;

    1. They are lovely - Pig Faced Orcs! - but you weren't joking about the price!