y’all wanted highlights of my D&D game, I believe:

  • I had this fantasy that it would take 3-4 hours. It took almost exactly 6. Which isn’t that bad, really. I’ve heard of one-shots that accidentally ran far longer.
  • I was unreasonably stressed out when it started, in part because one player bowed out last minute (she realized she did, in fact, have to get sleep), and partly just because I’ve never DMed before
  • some of them described themselves as I’d been picturing them, some did not. Highlights were a greasy soulpatch for the Rogue and the Cleric looking like a “crazy great-aunt”
  • the Ranger got knocked unconscious four times, twice in the first fight. Awakened trees deal a lot of damage, you guys.
    • the first time was when she tried to attack the cleric for hitting her with Thunderwave, and the Tree got an attack of opportunity.
  • me, a voice from the heavens, to the Sorceress: cough chromatic orb can cause fire cough
  • the Rogue tried to flirt with a dryad. The dryad was not impressed.
  • the Warlock tried to play Feywild politics with a dryad. The dryad was not impressed.
  • when they got to a village of forest gnomes and were offered food and drink, they spent fifteen minutes debating the lactation of various mammals and whether you could make cheese from it, and the taxonomic classification of platypi
    • platypuses?
  • they got to roll for random loot - well, they got to roll for which magical items table I would roll for random loot on, because these villagers have been collecting the loot of fallen strangers for centuries - and then we all spent ten minutes furiously googling to figure out whether Universal Solvent could dissolve the magical barrier (coughWall of Forcecough) keeping everyone trapped in this forest.
  • the Wall of Force, and great deal of ambient magic (which gave rise to a great many dangerous monsters and sentient plantlife, etc.) which was, by the way, created by/as a result of a lich in a ruined old tower. Who they tried to fight.
    • emphasis: the party of lv3 PCs tried to fight a lv21-monster lich.
    • in absolute fairness, I did not tell them it was a lich.
    • I did, however, say it was “very, VERY undead” and “very powerful and dark” and “there’s plant life growing over the whole tower, vines and a couple flowers and even a tree, and it’s very alive but it’s also, like, rotting. It’s not living-alive. It’s like…the Feywild is a very lifey place, everything is very full of life and that’s why it’s all trying to attack you half the time. This place is kind of like that but…fucked up. And there are still moving shadows in the trees.”
  • This resulted in the fourth time the Ranger got knocked out, as well as the rest of the party. The lich had two very good opportunities to kill them and forebore both times. She used Cloudkill both times and knocked them the fuck out.
    • I GOT TO USE THE DWARF FIGHTER’S GEAS TO KNOCK HIM OUT, ACTUALLY, AND IT WAS GREAT. See, he was actually ensorcelled by the duergar girl’s evil wizard father to protect her, in a war between dwarves and duergar years ago, so I decreed that if she dropped below half her HP, the spell would interpret that as him not doing his job and he would take the psychic damage penalty. It’s not exactly the best solution because he gets knocked out and can’t do jackshit to protect her then, but hey, the evil wizard was under stress at the time, and the spell just follows the rules. Gosh, it was FUN.
  • Then some rebellious teenagers from the village found them again, would-be adventurers, and gave them a few HP each and helped them figure out that the lich couldn’t maintain the Wall while also protecting the village from the fiercest monsters and, say, a forest fire…
    • I swear I’d been hinting this when they were in the village earlier. I made the teens a little more explicit, though, but I think it’s also that earlier, the players were thinking more ‘fight/reason with the source of the Wall’ than the slightly twisty situation that was actually required.
    • I would’ve let them reason with the lich - they did try a bit - but she’s a bit mad and it would’ve required some absolutely HELLA Persuasion rolls. Like, a nat20. And it’s not purely that she kidnaps adventurers for help in keeping monsters away from the gnome village she protects - they’re entertaining, too, as they fight for their lives. :)c
  • So they talked the villagers into building a bit of a firebreak, just so they wouldn’t all die instantly, and then they set half the forest on fire and waited for the lich to be distracted enough to let the barrier flicker.
  • Me: You see a dark, hooded figure atop the wave, with her hand raised up, and then she brings it down just like the statue and the water crashes down all over the fire. It doesn’t go out, though, so she raises her hands again, the water following her movement - and for a moment, she looks right at you, right in the eye you can’t see, and you can feel this hatred, and rage, and the tiniest bit of disappointment-
    Ranger: I give her the middle finger.
  • Overall, I think it went pretty well! Two people had to duck out before it was over, but time zones and schedules are hard. I do feel more confident about doing this again. I’m kinda tempted to actually buy books, because PDFs are convenient but I have to keep flipping between screens…I’m probably going to run a campaign this summer, and going longer, of an all-bard party traveling down totally-not-the-American-West-Coast to totally-not-LA for a Battle of the Bards.

A beautiful short film made by Gary Weston to document the first day of our collaborative residency aboard LV21.