My D&D adventures fully kicked off when I found myself picking up a campaign team of seven adventurers. The character sheets weren’t fully developed and the last adventure had left the group’s characters split up in different locations. So in agreement with the players I redid the sheets and kicked off the adventure with them all in a tavern and working together again.
The character sheets are a complex world of terms, layout options and maths. It’s not that any one part is hard it’s more that the information on how to fill them in is spread across the player handbook and since there are multiple ways to layout a sheet I couldn’t find a visual how-to online. There are a bunch of places to get pre-made sheets online or generate your own but as the characters already existed, fixing the sheets from the handbook was the only option. Alas the index in both the DM and Player handbooks is awful (made worse by my still burgeoning knowledge of the terminology) so I found myself often looking online for the answers (I’d recommend Roll 20: 5th edition compendium – for general check.)
The players didn’t really know what they had in their supplies so I went online and found that Matthew Perkins has created pay what you want Spell Cards. I printed off the ones matching the spells they had so they had all the details on hand. I did the same with these free Paul Weber’s equipment cards so that each player had a visual list of what they had. (I later found this pay what you want illustrated equipment packs booklet by Sam Mameli which really proved helpful when showing what was in the various packs you start with and choosing which one you’d want).
I opted for an adventure someone else had created for this first foray. I couldn’t use the D&D Starter set adventure because a few of the pupils already had it. The pupil who set up the club has created a world – Salgos – and the idea is that my team are wandering around his world. I was a little concerned about making something set in his land so the Feywild offered a chance to work things out before changing his world map. I found a free adventure on EN World EN5ider ‘Into Feywild’ which handily was for low level characters.
I kicked off the adventure by having them in a tavern and getting a delivery (a late wedding present for Gnomeo and Juliet) of a bag of holding in which was a small pocket mirror – when they picked it up and looked in it sucked them all into the Feywild. It was then a case of following the information in the adventure. Though what I found was that the pupils didn’t always do what you’d hoped – for one they wanted to chop everyone up rather than ask questions or world build.
Luckily I had a wealth of older more experienced pupils I could get help from. I’ve got a pupil who spends his Thursday lunch volunteering in the library who’s sole job is to help me fix the problems my Wednesday game has created and helping me prep for the following week.
Problems like how to pull the group together, deal with the pupils who are just being munchkins or work out exactly what I meant by ‘a gang of pixies kidnap you’. I also find it invaluable in helping me develop my world building and descriptions as I struggled in the first couple of games to give enough of that as I was expecting too much of the players.
It took four sessions to get out the Feywild and I learned a lot in the process, I didn’t put anyone off playing and one of the group decided they wanted to DM, so overall I’d say it was successful despite my failings as a DM. This adventure had more world building than they were interested in and it probably wasn’t a great first adventure for the hour a week setting when what they clearly would rather be doing was hitting things with swords and fire balls. There were some group dynamic issues but I want to discuss them in another post.
What it did do was convince me that D&D was a fun game, that enabling the pupils to play absolutely worth the effort and that I still have a butt load to learn.