1st Day of D&D

The D&D 5e Adventure Begins!

I hide behind this D&D screen.
Their quest – the chest.

The D&D day had finally arrived.

I picked up the four boys after school and brought them to our place. The-Youngest and I had transformed the rec room into the new D&D room. We had chips for them. We had pop and candy. We had chairs that weren’t going to collapse and The-Youngest had taped off areas on the table so everyone knew how far they could spread their stuff out.

We were about as ready as possible.

When the boys arrived, I had to let them settle down. 12-year-olds have energy I can only remember, that kind that makes it impossible to sit still, to not talk quickly and loudly, or focus on any one thing. It was awesome to see, actually. That energy meant they were excited

After a short while, they calmed down a bit.

D&D, being a complex game with many, many rules, created my first challenge. We’d gotten together before this first session to roll up characters, (a ranger, wizard, a paladin, and a rogue), so we didn’t have to do that, but there was still stuff they needed to know if they were to play.

To speed things along, I filled out their character sheets and reviewed changes. (For the nerdy folks, that means weapons and damage, armor and armor class, skill bonuses and equipment).

Their miniatures were given out and they were wow’d. I’m not a super good miniature painter, but having a little rogue, ranger, paladin and gnome made the game come alive.

From there, like any good film, we started with the big picture. Let us begin with the world. So let us start there.

The realms are at peace, a peace that has lasted eighty years. The Six kingdoms are united under the All-father, the king of kings, an undying ruler who governs with benevolent grace, bringing prosperity and harmony to all the peace-loving people of the land.

Or at least that’s what has been taught in the schools, in the cathedrals of the Holy Light, and in the great halls and homes of men.

But ask the Dwarves, at what price did this peace come, their kingdoms smashed, their once-proud nation reduced to clan-enclaves in mountains or crafting halls in the hills and towns?

Ask the elves when men came to cut down the trees for lumber, when they slaughtered the fey and treants out of fear, and then when the Elves fought back, burned the elven treehomes.

Ask the Halflings why they are wanderers or relegated to the poor quarters, thought of only as dirty thieves and bringers of bad luck. Ask them if they know peace.

Indeed, if you are not of mankind, you might have an entirely different opinion of this peace and prosperity. 

After conquering the last kingdom, the All-father destroyed the old orders, tore down ancient fortresses, built churches of the Holy Light in every village, and set up puppet rulers to govern his lands. While most of the conquered kingdoms fell into line, the last Kingdom never fully bowed to the All-father’s will, and nearly a year, ago, as repression became harsher and harsher, many of the old races united to rebel.

Against the All-father, against his Red Legions and Wizards of Flame, against the martial might of the Order of the Holy Light, they didn’t have a chance. They were slaughtered.

After the rebellion, the Purity Laws came into effect. No non-human could hold a position in government, could not attend any of the Arcane Academies, and could not hold title to land. Travel was restricted and there are rumors that the All-father may soon offer a bounty on non-humans.

It is into this world that our players find themselves.

Thus began the adventure for the boys.

  • Sherlock – a gnomish wizard.
  • Leroy the Ranger.
  • Brad Armpit the rogue.
  • Honor the Dragonborn paladin.




Playing D&D Part 1

The First Great D&D Adventure

All players need a place to start

I don’t think anyone in the universe prepared for a first adventure as much as I did.

I won’t lie, I was nervous about running a pack of 12-year-olds through a 5E D&D adventure.  I hadn’t played this new-fangled version of the game, and being a DM (the guy who ran the game) meant I had to know my rules.

So, being me, I turned to the internet and found a great collection of YouTube videos on line that taught me the rules and gave me some advice on DMing.

Gosh, there was so much that was new, but after 2 weeks, I felt like I had a handle on most of the rules and I wasn’t shy about making it up if worse came to worse.

All I had to do was make it fun.

Easy, right?

Well…. Not always.

Now, for those few people who have never played D&D, the basics are actually pretty simple. It’s a table-top role-playing game, played in person, with real people sitting next to you and tossing Doritos at you. To quote the designers of the game, “The core of D&D is storytelling. You and your friends tell a story together, guiding your heroes through quests for treasure, battles with deadly foes, daring rescues, courtly intrigue, and much more.”

One person ‘runs’ the game. That’s the Dungeon Master or DM. That’sa me. It’s my job to make sure the players have fun. I’m the guy behind the curtain (or in this case, the DM screen.)

And those are the critical words there. Have. Fun.

It’s not a game that pits one player against another like Risk. No, it’s cooperative, and that’s what can make it so much fun, but if the DM sucks or has to spend a ton of time looking stuff up, no amount of great story-telling will make it fun. It’ll be a disaster.

See, the stakes were high for me. I really wanted the boys to like D&D, to play it for years, maybe even meet their love of their life while playing, and form nerdy friendships that last forever. Heck I met my first wife, Margot, and my best friend through D&D.

I know I set a high bar for myself, but for me, I’d been known as a good DM 400 years, ago, so I wanted to keep my rep intact.

So, like I said, I prepared. (NERD WARNING!) I bought a DM screen, printed out maps, made maps on graph paper, created character backstories, researched all the character’s abilities, finished off the boys’ character sheets, made initiative cards, found pictures of the monsters and characters, made monster cards, made ‘condition’ cards, bought miniatures for each boy, painted the hell out of them, sealed them with indestructible sealant, made potions from bottles bought by my friend and fellow nerd, Sheila. I bought coins to be used as special tokens, I bought trees that could be used on the tabletop. I wrote out a world history, a local history and even, whew, a history of one of the pivotal non-player characters.

I even read through the Monster manual to find the best monsters for them to fight, read through the DM guide to find the perfect treasure rewards, and bookmarked the Player’s Handbook, so I could find things quickly.


I bought snacks, set up a table, moved all my D&D books to our new D&D rec room, set up lamps for better light, moved my painted minis to a shelf in the D&D rec room, fixed chairs that were broken, found more miniatures to use as villains, printed out pictures of all the non-player characters so the boys could put a face to a name, and found a jewelry chest that would remind players what their goal was.

Ready to go! Got my minis. Got my Rubbermaid container of dice. Got my character cheat sheets.

Yes. I had prepared. I wanted to have a lot of visual aids because I felt the boys wouldn’t be keen on me talking for hours about a chest or the world or Buttons the halfling. I wanted them to see the battle, not just imagine it, to move their miniatures through a forest to fight the evil Blackskulls who terrorized the area. When they went to drink a potion of healing, I wanted there to be a potion that they actually drank.

After all, these boys were coming from Fortnite, GTA or Assassin’s Creed. They had been brought up on visuals so I needed to make it as visual as possible. Heck, if I could have programmed holographic maps with 3D characters, I would have done so.

But after two weeks of preparation, would it all pay off? Had I been overthinking this? (not that I ever do that.) Would the boys have fun? Would they become life-long players?

Well, at the risk of creating a spoiler, let me just say that, as if typical when you design and run an adventure, nothing quite goes as planned.

So, hey, if you want to check out more pictures, see the instagram account or check out the pinterest page.

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