Behind the Screen: The New Batch

2009 February 22
by Dante

The last time I spoke to you all, it was on the eve of the beginning of our new foray into the new version of D&D. This meant new beginnings of almost everything: we were going to start a new campaign with a new group of people, utilizing a dungeon module for the first time.

What is going well

Honestly, just about everything with 4e. The module we’re using, Keep on the Shadowfell, is just about everything I could need for this first foray. The encounters are designed to be very episodic in nature and our characters seem to follow the prescribed “hints” to get them going into the further areas of the module without much coaxing.

This easy acquisition time by the group has allowed me some time to design my own hooks for further in the campaign right into the pre-existing setting. I can tell this is going to make the rest of my campaign organically grow out of the module which should be a very good experience for my players.

In addition, the non-player characters that the module provides offer just enough description and tone in the provided snippets of dialogue that it was very easy to “get into their skin” and make them very real, three-dimensional characters.

I wonder if it’d be bad form to hug Bruce Cordell or Mike Mearls should I run into them at GenCon this year…

What isn’t going well

It seems to be a lot of “real-world” interference. Our group originally consisted of myself, Stupid Ranger, a coworker of mine and his wife. We got characters rolled during our first session and got underway, everything was going swimmingly. We realized quickly that the module was a little… difficult on the encounter front with only three player characters, so we were very happy when my coworker’s wife had an interested friend willing to join us.

The only downside was that a fair portion of the second session was helping her roll her character and get acclaimated to D&D again, since she hadn’t played 4e yet either. Add into the mix a small herd of three young children, and distractions mounted pretty quickly for our second session despite best efforts to placate the children with movies and video games.

What’s next!

All of these hurdles are either past us or manageable, so I have to say that things are going well at this point! We’re looking forward to our next session in two weeks, and I need to extend a big THANK YOU to those of you that recommended that I read the module through and get comfortable with it. That has really helped my comfort level as we’ve moved into this new experience. Our readers are the greatest!

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Bonemaster permalink
    February 23, 2009

    I understand the real world issues. The gaming group with my wife is limited to playing only about once a month. I would have liked to have it about twice a month. Still it’s hard to get everyone together for a game, since we all have kids and the like.

  2. Todd Bradley permalink
    February 23, 2009

    My group is playing “Keep on the Shadowfell” as our main intro to 4E also. As a player, it’s hard to figure out just how big this adventure is, since there seem to be clues and adventure hooks in every direction from Winterhaven. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

  3. R.M. Walker permalink
    February 24, 2009

    Dante, I’m right there with you. Our own gaming groups’ first foray into 4E started in October, and we’re still playing in Keep on the Shadowfell. I’m not sure how often your game sessions are, but ours last about 6 hours; once a month. We average only about 3-4 encounters per session. It’s a bit slow going, but as everyone gets more familiar with the rules, play gets a lot faster.

    Like your group, my own group consists of adults with children (with one exception, and he’s a good sport to except the other members’ ribbing), so we often have the real-world interruptions of which you speak. All you can really do is persevere. One solution is to combine resources for childcare. I have teenagers, so I occasionally rope them into baby-sitting. They get paid, we get fewer interruptions, and no one goes wanting. Just some thoughts.

    Good luck with the adventure!

  4. Todd Bradley permalink
    February 24, 2009

    I was part of a gaming group for several years that met for an evening game every week. However, in our case, we were confined to only playing at the house of a couple of the players. And then they had kids. And then people started inviting more and more friends to join in.

    Over time, I came to realize that the 3 hour games we schedule from 7 PM to 10 PM each Tuesday were really much shorter, due to interruptions from the kiddos (they got excitable when the rest of the players arrived, and then play came to a halt as the 8:30 bedtime rolled around). Mix in the usual socialization before and during the game, and we really only played for about an hour each night. And divide that by 6 or 7 players, and each person gets very little “spotlight” time. Some weeks, all we’d accomplish for an entire evening of gaming would be 3 rounds of combat, and have to stop in the middle of the battle.

    In the end, it wasn’t worth it for me to spend an entire evening for just one hour of game time, so I started my own game with a much higher signal-to-noise ratio. We now schedule 6 hours every other week. We still spend the first 30 or 45 minutes socializing, and take a break for supper, but we still get in over 4 hours of gaming out of a 6 our commitment.

  5. Todd Bradley permalink
    April 3, 2009

    There sure are a lot of unchecked spam comments here!

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