2nd D&D Session

D&D NPC character

D&D halfling NPC
Devon, their halfling guide.Why would anyone want to kill this cute little guy? 

Phandalin Adventure

Day 2

Once, again, I couldn’t wait to start my D&D adventure with the boys. I’d done my prep, printed out my handout, (even a very cool ‘weathered’ map), and bought enough munchies to feed an army of starving goblins.

But therein lay my first mistake, and it may very well be why this session didn’t go as well as I’d planned.

To recap, they had been told by their hobbit guide, Devon, that bad guys held his family hostage. Now that he told the group about last session’s ambush, he begged the group to help.

But as I set up the music and sorted my paperwork, the boys voiced thoughts of killing their guide, Devon, the one person they were supposed to help!!!

 Why? I have no idea, it seemed to come out of the blue, but then I had to start the session out by telling them what they couldn’t do. Or at least trying to dissuade them for doing something evil.

Then they tore into the candy like rabid dogs. Before their characters even reached the hobbit’s home,  they’d began to vibrate in their seats. Then they bopped up and down in their chairs. Then, I had to take a break so they could literally run around.

It looked like getting them to focus on the game would become, well, a bit of a challenge.

Their mission though was simple enough. Rescue the hobbit’s family by sneaking in via a secret entrance. But, they were told, the evil guys were expecting a rescue and would be watching the doors and windows, ready to kill the hobbit’s family.

Their hobbit guide, Devon, led them to the secret entrance beneath his home, (an old, underground dwarven forge, long abandoned), that the hobbit used to grow mushrooms – Lots of tasty mushrooms fertilized by the finest poo in the county.

Only one problem – The boys didn’t want to do go through the secret passage.

Full of sugar rage, they wanted to charge in and attack the evil, nasty bad guys. No matter who dies!

D&D NPC character
Buttercup, Devon’s oldest child, a girl. Why would they not want to save her?

My hobbit was horrified. His family would die.

However… The boys didn’t care. Like Vikings, they wanted to fight.

NOW!

Battle, battle, battle, battlebattlebattle, BATTLE!

But I, (playing the hobbit), managed to convince them to try to sneak up on the evil, nasty bad guys, and that’s where I made my second mistake.

Running a game like this means you give the players as much leeway as possible to do whatever they want, and I’d railroaded them into going one route.

Had they gone their route, it’s not likely the little hobbits would have lived, and that’s a consequence that maybe they needed to have.

But forcing them to do something makes it harder for them to be invested in the game. However, NOT forcing them would lead to the death of little kids, and in story-telling, that’s a HUGE no-no.

I was in a pickle. Or ,rather, I’d pickled myself.

Not super interested in their choice, it took an hour for the boys to focus on killing 5 giant rats.

An.

Hour.

With their usual outstanding grasp of tactics, they defeated the rats quite quickly once the fight happened, but it soooooo wasn’t exciting for them. I could see that.

As soon as they won, though, they were hit by a sugar crash and acted like slow-motion turtles eating a leaf.

The session ended without a sense of major accomplishment.

That’s never good.

Would they run home and tell their parents, mom and dad, guess what, we killed rats, OMG it was amazeballs, rats, mom, rats. How cool is that?

No. Not cool at all.

Dammit, I’d goofed.

After I dropped them all off back home, I vowed to do better. However, being nearly impossible to predict what would actually happen in any given adventure, all I knew was that I needed to do 3 things better.

  1. I needed to control the sugar intake a LOT more than I did.
  2. I needed to find stuff they would care about, something magical and fun. Not fighting rats.
  3. I needed to create those epic moments they will talk about for weeks. Or at least hours.

Next week would be critical. I had to be a better DM.

 

What I am. Or Who I am.

And the result is….

Should I change my name to Ragnar? Bjorn? Eric the not-so-red?
Should I change my name to Ragnar? Bjorn? Eric the not-so-red?

Turns out I’m mostly Scandinavian!

Yup. Viking blood flows in these veins.

Vikings… you know, uncouth barbarians. Beserkers. The Scourge of Europe.

I think my mom would not be surprised.

So how does this change my life?

Or why my life makes sense, now…

A Top 10 List

  • First of all, I love the show The Vikings. So, yeah, that makes total sense, now. However, if I based my ancestry on the shows I like, I’d be a Dothraki. Or a hobbit.
  • Due to my heritage, it turns out that I’m not a hoarder, I am a collector. My people, the Vikings, believed that you needed to collect things. Sure, some would call it ‘looting’, but collecting is really what they were all about. So that’s why I have a love of gathering things up and keeping them forever. It’s harder to explain my love of books as my people basically burned them or ate them.
  • I have always loved the legend of Valhalla. I love the fatalistic end to that saga where every great warrior goes out to fight one last battle, a battle they are destined to lose. How epic. How sad. Well, at least now I know why I root for England in the World Cup.
  • I don’t rage-quit games, I am actually feeling the beserkergang fill me. When some asshat shoots me from some hidden sniper position on Call of Duty, I’m not being a sore loser, no, I’m calling upon my Viking ancestors to fill me with the anger of Odin so I can have my revenge upon them!
  • Crepes, croissants, ah the French do know a thing or two about food
    Crepes, croissants, cheese! Ah the French do know a thing or two about food

    It’s why I like to eat. See, my people didn’t have a lot. It’s why they raided other people. All we had were pickled fish, the odd, sad-looking turnip and mead. Now, while I do like pickled fish, turnips and mead (oddly enough, that should have been a sign of my heritage right there), imagine how my people felt when they sacked Paris and ate croissants, brie cheese and crepes. At that moment, a love of food was burned into their DNA.

  • I love to travel. See, contrary to what most people think, the Vikings loved to go sight-seeing. Everywhere. They got to the Black Sea, cruised the Mediterranean and even snuck out to see Canada. Sure, they went there to loot stuff or trade, but it’s still basically the same – My people NEEDED to see the world. Like me.

    Thor
    Thor or me, it’s hard to tell sometimes.
  • I kinda look like this guy. (if, you know, you drink a lot and forget your glasses at home.)
  • My favourite character on the Muppets was the Swedish Chef.
  • My second favourite NFL team is Minnesota.
  • Scotland was ruled by the Vikings for so long, that if you say you’re Scottish, odds are you’re the result of the Picts and Gaels, well, let’s say ‘intermixing’ with the Vikings.  And that means,  I can still be Scottish!  Whoohooo!

So, there you have it. I know what I am. I’m oddly very excited by all of this.

The actual results are below.

58% Scandinavia – Vikings!

The Muppet's Swedish Chef. How poetic.
The Muppet’s Swedish Chef. How poetic.

28% Finland/NW Russia – Kinda Vikings!

4% Asia (think Uzbekistan) – Errr, maybe where the Vikings pitched a tent once?

4% Irish – cuz, you know, as Silk said, everyone has a bit of Irish in them.

4% English – Due to the fish and chips which my people would have loved.

1% Iberian (that’s Spain) – ah, who knows what happened here.

 

So that’s it. I will still own my Scottish heritage and proudly wear my kilt, but knowing where I came from has anchored me in the world in a very unexpected way. So if you’ve ever wanting to sort out your true DNA history, I say give Ancestry.ca a look.

What are you?

The Best Day Part III

gollumSo, for a moment, imagine if the Hobbits had said, yah, you know what, no, that whole dropping the ring in the fiery pit of Mt Doom, yah, we’re not going to do that. Or what if Kyle Reese had said, damn, yo, look at that terminator thing, I’m outta here? Or what if Batman had looked at Bane and said, you’re right, Mr. Bane, Gotham kinda sucks, it’s all yours?

That was what was threatening my D&D adventure. I had one hero who didn’t want to be a hero. At least, not a traditional D&D hero.

But I had to drive on.  I mean, did Sam give up when Frodo went all limp biscuit? Did Harry Potter wilt when he was told he had to die? Did Will Ferrell wander off to make snowmen after being told to leave the Elf community?

No!

So I would find a way to make this adventure work.

I picked up after the non-bar fight, where the ogre had given all his cash to avoid violence. Luckily, such things still impress people so he was hired to look into a missing caravan. Joined by his brother, the most blood-thirsty warrior ever born, and my friend who played a veteran soldier, they began their search where the caravan had been headed.

mohicansBeing all rangerie like Aragorn or the Last of the Mohicans guy, The Youngest’s character tracked the tracks, and they found the caravan without too much trouble. Oddly enough, there were no bodies, though. Not a one. Lots of blood, sure. Some goods stolen. A few goblin arrows sticking into dead oxen, but so much was off about this scene.

Where had the bodies gone? Why would the Goblins leave their arrows behind? Why would they not steal everything in sight, even eating the oxen? Hey, goblins are all about the bling-bling, and the hack and slash, and BBQ afterwards.

So what was really going on?

As The Oldest – playing the Ogre – looked around for clues and The Youngest began to dismantle all of my carefully built trees, the goblin trail was discovered. Following it and knowing the forest as they do, they were able to sneak up on some of the goblins who, like all good goblins, were waiting in ambush for them.

Ah ha! Another classic battle in the making. Good guys sneak up on the green goobers and slaughter them.

But, this is not the Ogre way. No.

He did something – again – I’d never seen in D&D.

He tried to scare them off by running at them. Like a big-ass bowling ball, he roared into them, flailing his arms, shouting Ogrish nonsense and knocking them all over.

While stunned and not a little surprised, the Youngest rained arrows at the Goblins, and my friend took out her trusty sword and slashed and hewed about her like any good fantasy hero.

orcsThe Goblins, caught off guard, didn’t really know what to do, so they shot a few arrows at the Ogre and tried to reform in some sort of battle order. As they mustered around their leader, the Ogre, not content to merely roar and run around, climbed a tree that bent with his weight and fell on them.

Call it Ogre-slamming. I think the Rock tried something like this once.

Anyway, there was like this big mushroom cloud of dirt and clover and leaves as 500lbs of Ogre hit the ground, squishing Goblins underneath him.

The Youngest, with epic shots (for those who’ve actually played, he rolled three back-to-back 20s) mowed down the few Goblins who staggered away from the Ogre-slamming, while my friend finished off whose who who tried to flee.

They’d won. But at a cost.

The Ogre, desperate not to kill anyone, ended up with an arrow in his chest. As he lay on the ground dying, his hands dug into the earth and he watched the trees sway above him, shedding leaves like tears.

None of the other characters had the power to save him.

He was simply too badly injured.

The Ogre would need a miracle.

Yet, miracles do happen in D&D.

All the time.

But that’s where the adventure ended.

At least for now.

See, now here’s the thing. Here’s why I refound my love for D&D…

I’ve never seen a character use himself as a bowling ball. I’ve never seen someone roll 3 critical hits in a row, even my old D&D friend who had a knack for lucky rolls. I’ve never seen an Ogre try to turn himself into a club and smack a group of Goblins unconscious. Nor, I think, have the Goblins.

It’s why D&D really can be such a fun game.

You never know what would happen.

ogre d&DAnd would I really let a character die for being heroic?

Stay tuned for the next adventure. Sometime in December.