Saturday, June 9, 2012

Guess Who's Coming to the Session?

If anyone has been reading this blog, s/he may be thinking... "Hey, aren't you supposed to be a DM? When are you actually going to run a game?" Not to fret, imaginary reader. Today's post is about my D&D home campaign - written and run by yours truly.

The adventure is set in the county of Corbais, where the usual monsters of the wilderness have been making uncharacteristic attacks on towns and villages. Our heroes have defended the innocent townsfolk valiantly, and have found several strange primal magic totems attached to various monsters. They confronted the local swamp witch about this, but she fought them off and escaped. Meanwhile, an old adventurer named Reis Uleka has decided to come out of retirement to organize a fighting force, the Silver Company. In light of their dedicated service to the community, Uleka has just agreed to allow our heroes to join Silver Company. They have been assigned their first mission, to investigate some strange dealings in the village of Vervaine.

 3.5 players may recognize Uleka as an
"iconic character" from the Crivis setting...
Or not, because honestly I stumbled upon him
while trolling this D&D wiki.

For this session, we were at least than full strength - only two out of my regular five players could attend. The only two left were our cleric, played by Maggie, and our rouge, played by our friend Carly. However, Maggie also plays a barbarian that makes guests appearances in this adventure. So I decided that, before the party set off for Vervaine, that the barbarian and the rouge would participate in a local competition between strikers called The Blood Thirst Tournament. Teams of two would go head-to-head in illusory arenas... where the hazards are all too real.

A few days before we were due to play, Carly asked if her friends Katia and Alex could come and watch our game. She mentioned that they might be interested in joining us in the future. Since I'm always on the look-out for fresh meat I said, "Great, the more the merrier!" I planned to field some basic questions about how the D&D works and maybe get them interested enough to roll up a character. What I actually got were two experienced 4e players who expected that I would have characters for them to play.

Which, I did not. Neither did I have an adventure for four PCs prepared. What's a DM to do? I could have tried to throw something together on the fly, but that would have taken a big chunk out of our limited playing time. I could have asked them to simply spectate, but I couldn't imagine that would be fun for people who expected to play. So, I tried a compromise - I asked our guests to play each of the opposing teams in the tournament.

There were definite pros and cons to playing the bad guys in this scenario. The major pro is that you get to play around with a whole new set of powers each match-up. The major con is that the game is heavily weighted towards the other team. I tried to find role-playing reasons to even the playing field, but that got me accused of playing favorites. But that's part of DMing - trying to make everyone happy, and often failing.

"But you let that bad guy walk through this square!"
"He's a creature made of shadows,
and he was insubstantial at the time."

In the end the heroes prevailed (of course) and we all had a pretty good time. Katia and Alex are planning to join us for a few sessions, which means we didn't scare them off entirely. Next time we have visitors, though, I'm going to email them myself to find out if they (a) want to actually play and (b) can bring their own characters. As Simon said to Jayne, "'Cause I don't see this working any other way."


Quote of the Week: "Also, I can kill you with my brain." - River Tam


  1. The blood sport tournament was AWESOME. And I have to say, the last match-up between the PCs and the guest bad guys gave us a real run for our money! If the arena our brilliant DM had designed hadn't let forth with a giant tidal wave at an opportune time, I think it would have been curtains for the barbarian and rogue! Which is of course a credit to our brilliant DM and the skill of our guest players.

  2. Yeah, I definitely enjoyed the challenge - even though I was close to death one time. And sorry about not giving you a heads-up about Katja and Alex's experience with D&D! I knew they had played before, but they indicted they might just watch - my bad.
    They said they had fun and are looking forward to our next adventure this weekend!