This past week my Wednesday night group play-tested the latest installment of D&D. For those of you not in the know, it is 5th edition.
My initial thoughts of it is that it is a bit of a throwback to 2nd ed. and 2.5 for many of the old mechanics like spell progression and weapons doing a type of damage, bludgeoning, slashing or piercing. There were some differences in a new mechanic called advantage/disadvantage. This is a mechanic that says when a person or group have advantage (like when surprise a band of kobolds) you get to roll 2d20’s and use the higher result. Conversely, if you have disadvantage (like being surprised by a band of would-be heroes righting the wrongs of the Forgotten Realms) you roll 2d20 and take the lower result. Advantage good, disadvantage bad! The new edition also allows you to break up your movement. Meaning you can move, perform an action and then move the rest of your movement. Finally, there is a thing called Inspiration that is sort of a “bennie” used in some of the other game systems. What Inspiration does for you is if you have Inspiration you can spend it to re-roll a d20 or give you advantage on a roll. You can also give it away to others. Inspiration is made up from following your characters background which is made up from Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws. If you play up those aspects of your character, then you get Inspiration. I imagine it is a way to help everyone; the DM has material to work with about his/her players and the players have material to draw from on how to act towards certain peoples or situations. I will admit at first I was pretty grumpy about how it seemed we were having less control of the way we played our characters because of this but I think I am okay with it after having played a session this way.
Having said all that, let me make some introductions:
- Varis – Wood Elf – Ranger
- Talbot Firepot – Luskan Human – Wizard
- Braedek – Luskan Human – Fighter
- Gesh – Dragonborn – Sorcerer
- Gyrleth – Wood Elf – Cleric
- Eliana Amakiir – 1/2 Elf – Charlaton
- Gronk – Outlander 1/2 Orc – Barbarian
- NPC – Mumbles – Halfling Wagoneer/Cook
Our journey started with all of us having signed on to a caravan heading to Greenest from Amn. Each of us had our own stories as to why we would sign on but the greatest underlying reason was that there is safety in numbers.
We journey for about 10 days and entered a mountain pass. Up until this point things were pretty easy going. We did a little hunting and nabbed a deer but also aroused one of the local black bears. Varis was able to use animal handling on it plus his awesome ranger mind-trick, convincing it to let us go unmolested with our deer.
While the 2 wood elves and the 1/2 orc were out hunting, the rest of the caravan experiences a breakdown in one of the wagon wheels. It had a couple broken spokes that needed repair. We were out of complete wheels to replace it with so spokes were needed to made from the raw materials at hand. Talbot tried his hand at making spokes but his choice of green wood left something to be desired for proper materials. He did however manage to use a tensors floating disc to raise the corner of the wagon so that the wheel could be worked on easily without breaking backs. I think people started called that spell Talbot’s Floating Disc or was it Talbot’s Wagon Jack. I can’t remember.
After the groups meet back up and the wagons can move out they travel to a natural stopping point indicated by the basic shrines to several goodly gods and goddesses. Much to our chagrin the shrines were defiles. Not only that but upon closer investigation we find signs of a fight. Gyrleth used one of his spells to communicate with a crow to find out what took place. The only payment for services rendered were eyeballs. The crow actually said “Ah Bitch, I loves me some eyes.” He tells us that some little yappy things came out of the forest and killed the people with the last caravan.
We find the bodies dumped a little ways in the forest and decide to follow the trail made by the “yappy” things hauling the wagon back with them. That and the various bits of clothing and undergarments that were strewn about made the trail easy to follow.
After about half an hour we come across a clearing that sets on the edge of a body of water. A rundown shack rests overlapping both. In the clearing there is a roaring bonfire made from the wagon used to haul all the booty back to this place. Dancing around the fire we see a number of kobolds (yappy creatures), and a lizardman holding a leash connected to a massive alligator.
Luck is with us and we have surprise (advantage) for the first round. With our battle plan figured out (kill’em all) we set upon the little beasts. Varis is first to leap out and upon silent elven feet he sneaks upon two kobolds and slays them both with one slice of each of his short swords. Gyrleth eliminates another with his longbow from cover and then moves forward cautiously. Gesh calls upon his arcane magic and firebolts another to death as he emerges from the brush. Gronk now joins in the melee and runs into camp and hurls his mighty javelin through the raging bonfire to skewer another kobold. Not to be outdone, Talbot makes his way to the edge of the clearing and also drawing upon his arcane ability to cast magic missile. Three missiles emerge and hits three kobolds, killing 1.
The remaining kobolds go on the offensive and attack. The two nearest Varis attack him…and miss. Braedek joins in and he kills a kobold. Eliana uses her adept skills of sneaking and comes upon a kobold from behind that was advancing on Braedek & Gesh and sticks her dagger between its ribs, killing it instantly.
The fight isn’t over yet as the lizard man sicks his pet crocodile “Chompers” on Varis and then engages with Gronk. Chompers in his rush to engage with Varis knocks over 2 kobolds and stuns them momentarily before missing Varis. Gronk isn’t so lucky as he takes a massive hit from the lizardman’s mace. Gyrleth moves over to Gronk and heals him some of the massive damage inflicted upon his body but another blow from that mace might finish Gronk off anyway. Gronk, far from out of the fight returns the favor and hits the lizardman. Talbot finally casts sleep and puts the lizardman to sleep.
The 2 remaining kobolds on Varis try to bodily tackle him and throw him into the raging bonfire. Varis was not so easily dismissed and stands firm against their puny efforts. Eliana and Gyrleth finish off the 2 kobolds that tried to push Varis into the bonfire, allowing Varis to focus on Chompers. Varis manages to hit chompers again freeing him from his mortal coil. With the lizardman asleep and all his troops decimated, we easily dispatch him.
After the battle everyone does their own thing but Gyrleth notices the shack shimmers briefly. He tells the rest of us and then heads over to investigate before disappearing once he gets close to it. Upon the door is a note that reads, “Those that can pierce my veil, what lies within is your. P.S. Don’t forget to feed the cat.” Turns out there is a glamor cast upon the shack and it is really a very well-appointed home, with lots of magics playing about on certain areas or items.
The home has the main floor and two lower levels, the bottom being the lab where we encountered horribly mutated giant rats and a rat swarm. They had odd powers from feasting on various alchemical potions and components. The battle didn’t last long and soon the critters were dispatched. Seems there was a point of contention with Gyrleth using fire to destroy these beasts. Talbot wanted to save the material in case there was anything of use to him while Gyrleth just wanted to be rid of the vermin.
As we are checking out the rooms a strange clockwork cat greets us and latches onto Talbot who has now decided to keep the cat and with any luck make it his familiar. After all the rooms are searched and we claim what we want, we decide to have the rest of the caravan stop here for the night as the accommodations are better than that of a defiled open-air rest stop.
Peace be with you!
More to come…