Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!

(Editor’s Note:  NERDS!)

I haven’t written about Dungeons and Dragons yet for a couple of reasons that are closely related.  Mainly, because Chris doesn’t play, we haven’t made it a part of our monthly game nights.  More generally, I haven’t played D&D since AD&D 2nd edition and haven’t even though about the game since moving about a decade ago and putting all those books up in the attic.  For some reason, during the summer, I got interested in the state of the game again.   I went in search of the new editions, tried to find some free and relatively quick adventures, and tested out the game.

I went with 3.5 to make my characters and for the rule books.  4th editions seemed a like it simplified things a little too much for me and the 3.5 character sheets looked like what I remember as D&D.  I rolled a party of five (not the old TV show, but a half-elf fighter, eladrin ranger, human rogue, elven wizard, and a dwarven cleric), wrote some brief personalities and histories for them (just enough to get started), downloaded an adventure, and got to it.

As you may imagine, playing D&D solo was not nearly as much fun as getting together with some friends.  I started to wish that I had Wednesday nights off to be able to go to the Encounters nights at the local-ish game store.  I tried to think of ways that I could get some of the old crew together (maybe via Skype) to play some games.  Nothing came of either of those plans, but my brainstorming led to Roll20 and Meetup.  Roll20 is an online community that allows you to play roleplaying games with others.  Meetup is more general, but I joined a group of comic fans, gamers, and sci-fi enthusiasts.  These ventures haven’t led to anything yet, either, but I will hopefully have the time to dedicate to figuring out how to use either or both of them to my benefit.

One unexpected positive to come out of my resurgence of interest in the game is that I have rediscovered my Dragonlance books.  As of writing this article, I have only found the Annotated Chronicles from my collection, but they should be enough to get me started.  (Editor’s Note:  I have since visited a local used bookstore and picked up 3 more books for my birthday.)  I have plan to revisit Dragonlance in an article that I will post tomorrow on the main page, so that will be another hopefully entertaining and interesting trip back to the roots of my nerdiness.  For now, though, back to the topic.

A reason for this article is that the 5th edition of the game was released last year.  (Mostly self-promoted) hype on my Facebook feed proclaim the update as the perfect time to get back into the game.  Let’s inspect to see if it actually is, or we should take the advice of Public Enemy on this one.  First impression is that it is D&D.  I don’t see much difference in the core elements of the game.  All of the races, classes, attributes, spells, and saving throws are still there.  This is a good thing since the core of the game has always been strong and the basis of many copycats and clones.  To be honest, at first glance, I don’t see any reason to choose this over the others, but maybe I will find something to distinguish it as I take a closer look.

So, let’s start by making a character.  My go to first character has always been an elf (or usually a half-elf) magic-user of some sort.  I think to change it up, I’ll choose a druid this time.  the race and class combination could make for an interesting back story for the character.  Given up for adoption by an elven mother to a group of druids because the human father died (killed in war?), left (intentionally?  driven away?), he now looks over a spring used by local villagers.  Whatever, the beauty of the game is that I can fill in the details later.

More importantly, I posted something on my Facebook about the new edition and how I wanted to find a group again.  Because most of us work during the week, it would have to be a weekend group.  All of the local stores only run them during the week.  However, a friend mentioned that he has been looking for a group, too.  We got our families together for dinner the other day and I mentioned Roll20 to him.  We both explored the site more and decided that it more that does what we want.  He sent out some invites and I sent out a couple to old friends about joining.  So far, we have 5 or 6 that are willing to play, so we definitely have the makings of a group.

I probably won’t use my earlier character for that group.  I might incorporate him into a series of short stories that I can share on the web page.  I was going to do something like that when I first got back into the game and couldn’t find others to play.  As I am currently writing him, the druid seems like he would work better in stories than a campaign.  Since he is a loner and with little desire to change that status, it might take too long for him to enter civilization and find companions.  Admittedly, you can always accelerate time in these games, but I’d rather roll a different character for the campaign.  (Editor’s Note:  I am falling on the proverbial sword for the group and rolling a dwarven cleric again.)

Well, it appears that the new edition of D&D is not just all hype.  It has inspired me to write a little bit.  It got me together with new and old friends to plan a campaign.  It’s gotten me excited about the prospects of playing the game again.  If you’re like me and you used to play D&D, but haven’t looked at it in a while, I would definitely check out the 5th edition.  Admittedly, I have not tried any of the other rules for any extended period, but if they are as intuitive as the character creation, then we are going to have some fun with this and you probably will, too.

One final note.  As far as I know, we are up to 6 for our Roll20 campaign.  If you take a look at some of the materials from 5th edition and like what you see, give a thought to joining us.  We can always use more players for greater flexibility.  We are mostly born again noobs, but if that sounds like your speed, send an email or leave a comment.

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