[DnD5e] Planning for the Campaign

I’ve been playing rpgs since ten and most of that time (24ish years) I have been a GM. And I have never ran Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, I started with ANKH that was in essence just a D&D clone in Finnish. But the actual grandfather of rpgs has been a bit of a boogieman for me. The Old School Renaissance introduced me to DCCRPG and most recently I tried out 5th edition while I participated in Out of the Abyss. But now I think I would like to try to run DnD5e.

In this post I share me ideas for my first campaign as well as my impression and thoughts on the subject of starting such a campaign and about DnD5e in general as a first timer.

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Maps and Level Design

Maps. Most roleplayers (that I know of) like them. Some (like me) are even fascinated by them. In my opinion they make many situations in games easier to handle and might even inspire the players. Last night while playing Eldritch Sigils the group explored the subway tunnels under Berlin and I happened to draw a map I was exceptionally contended with. This made me think about mapping while playing in general and I decided to share a few of my thoughts.

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From 13th Age to Fate Core: Same World, Different Systems


I started a 13th Age game late this summer. I like the world and I admire the design, so I wanted to try it out. The sessions, however, were quite far apart, which was a clear signal that something wasn’t quite right. I wanted to continue the story of the characters and talked the players into converting them to Fate Core; now, I want to share my observations on how system matters. Continue reading

From Kickstarter: Loot

9c551d727b15f475c09a3c7ab821a45f_originalWhile browsing our IG feed I came across an card pack that looked interesting – it featured a magic sword with stats and art. Since I was brewing a new Dungeon World campaign (more about that later) it sparked my interested and found out it was a part of a Kickstarter campaign. Since we have been occasionally discussing with Aki and Ville about occasionally reviewing Kickstarters I thought this would be a great place to start.

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Casual Forum Roleplay

Let’s make things clear. I’m not talking about fantasies on Tumblr. Savvy?

What I’m going to talk about is my experience on running, taking part of and closely following rpgs played on our private forum. Since gaming time is an issue for grownups playing via forum might become handy every now and then.

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Underdark Without Nightvision #5

spoilerSpoiler Warning! Underdark Without Nightvision is a based on my experiences on playing Out of the Abyss campaign as a human ranger (deep stalker) and will include a host of spoilers. Thread carefully!

It took us four sessions (and then some) to get into the ages old question in a roleplaying game: Who is our party leader?
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Underdark Without Darkvision #4

Out of the Abyss #4Spoiler Warning! Underdark Without Darkvision is a based on my experiences on playing Out of the Abyss campaign and will include a host of spoilers. Thread carefully!

Thanks WotC for ruining my perfect blogging title. After the third session I reached the 3rd level. I was going to choose hunter for my ranger as an Archtype but Mikko brought to my attention that Wizards had published an Unearthed Arcana that included a new Archtype for rangers – Deep Stalker.

In essence this means that I got darkvision and the whole concept of my character was about to change. I even joked about not choosing this path but while thinking about my character it seemed like to natural way to go.

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Underdark Without Nightvision #3

Spoiler Warning! Underdark Without Darkvision is a based on my experiences on playing Out of the Abyss campaign and will include a host of spoilers. Thread carefully!

After the second session I was not that sure if I liked where things were going. I really do not have a lot of free time for gaming anymore and I usually like to spend it on games that are interesting and entertaining. And lets face it – random encounters are not high on my list of “interesting and entertaining”.

I was a bit hesitant about the third session but Sami (DM) had been telling me that he had been planing the upcoming session and was prepared to enhance the story aspects of the game. And since the undertone of Out of the Abyss is quite excellent I (luckily) came to my senses and took part to this third session.

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Underdark Without Darkvision #1

Spoiler Warning! Underdark Without Darkvision is a based on my experiences on playing Out of the Abyss campaign and will include a host of spoilers. Thread carefully!

D_D5E-RageOfDemons-OutOfTheAbyss_1024x1024This week we started yet another campaign and in this one I get to take the seat of a player for a change. The game in question will be the Out of the Abyss campaign for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.

Sami will be the DM for the campaign (he ran the famous Duck Tales game as well as the Sailor at the Starless Sea last year). He introduced this campaign to me as a “horror game set into the Underdark” and I was immediately sold. We are trying to play this biweekly and hopefully get to finish this (not a given fact considering our past success with campaigns…).

In this series “Underdark Without Darkvision” I will discuss the game as it progresses. I will be playing a human ranger without darkvision (hence the name).

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D&D fifth edition. On characters and design choices

At the point where I am writing this the Dungeon Master’s Guide is not out yet, so this is really too early to form a cohesive opinion about it. My comments will be all over the place; because there is so much that I know that will fit into place only in larger context, and when the game has seen at least a year of usage.

Let’s start with the races. There are all the Tolkienesque races first and after a brief disclaimer the rarer races are introduced. Familiar from D&D4, none of the races get any minuses for their abilities, only bonuses. I like this approach better, as I firmly believe that not handing out bonuses is penalty enough in itself. Dwarves are good fighty types, as much is to be expected. But Mountain dwarf armor training bonus does not mesh with powergaming aspect at all. Same can be said of the half-orc/barbarian combo. Half-orc already has bonuses that a barbarian will get later on, so powergamers won’t get to squeeze all the juice out of it. Wood elves and lightfoot halflings are naturally sneaky and they have Dexterity bonuses as well, so it is a good idea to put them in sneaky classes. There’s no powergaming un-synergy going on in those latter cases. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why!

There’s much unbalance going on here, and it is a good thing in my book! D&D4 tried really hard to be mathematically balanced (without a 100% success, I might add), and ended up being a somewhat bland numbers-crunching game. It is a very good game though, just not for me.

Briefly about the classes. Much has changed, but special mentions go to:

  1. Barbarian. Despite from what is written in the book, the barbarian does not need a high Constitution (at least from where I am looking at things at the moment). They already have the biggest hit die, and proficiency in Constitution saves. Why put a third bonus into the same basket? They get some class features that would enable the barbarian being an unarmored type, but they also get the a similar benefit from using a medium armor. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why!
  2. Fighter. Does not need a high Dexterity. This has been true from the days of D&D3, but now it is even more pronounced. They most probably use heavy armor, so they don’t get to add any Dexterity bonus to Armor Class.
  3. Sorcerer: Oh man I love this. Finally they have realized that sorcerers are all about metamagic! D&D 3.x actually hindered sorcerer’s metamagic usage, and I have no idea what 4e did for them, as I stopped following the line before sorcerer was published.

Right. Onto spells. They have condensed and streamlined whole spell “chains”. Some of the spells are really unbalanced. These unbalances are by design choice. For example, a high level druid could create a whole forest of loyal awakened trees to serve him, without any kind of limiting factor. Why? Because Fuck you, that’s why!

It is as if the design team would have had an epiphany that it is not their problem what goes on in each individual gaming table, it is the job of the dungeon masters to even things out. This is a real improvement to the viewpoint that both 3.x and 4e tried to convey. “We tell you how it is supposed to be played”.

That much said, I must say that I have never been a fan of high level play in D&D. With this edition, I probably wouldn’t go much higher than the 7th level. To conclude, I say that it is very well made, and I will definitely give it a spin someday. There are probably some kinks here and there, but nothing that a little good old fashioned GM work won’t smoothen out.