Saturday, August 2, 2014
Frozen in Time with D&D
This time, the game was four hours long. Didn't feel like using an adventure I had published. Maybe something really old school, I thought. Perhaps even something I've never run before...
Rummaging around my desk for a suitable AD&D adventure, I came across a slim Dungeon Crawl Classics book called Frozen in Time. I started reading the introduction and was intrigued enough to keep going. That's a good sign.
Suitable for 1st level characters, science-fantasy, and big on exploration. This fit the bill.
Since I had given 5e a try RAW [rules as written] a couple weeks ago, I felt free enough to try it without so much of the dot-circling. Tried melding the provided backgrounds with my own tables from Liberation of the Demon Slayer. Successfully, I think.
A few of the players either knew the D&D rules already or had them printed out / on some kind of tablet device. So, at times it was difficult to rule one way while a couple of players were telling their neighbor the "real" ruling. But that's ok. It happens. Especially with a fresh group all set for a one-shot game that hasn't even been released yet. Sure, we have the basic version and stuff from the Starter box but let's face it - all the really good stuff has yet to come out.
Old school time! 3d6 in order. Sure, there were some sad sacks in the bunch, yet nothing catastrophic. I went over the pros and cons of making your own character. Hopefully, some kind of personal attachment was forged by all the dice rolling and picking of race, class, motivation, etc.
Anyways, after making characters without worry about skills, racial bonuses, which saving throws get to add the proficiency bonus, as well as, a lively discussion about proficiency bonuses and initiative... the adventurers climbed up that glacier. I'm not going to give away anything. Just know that Frozen in Time did an admirable job. Sure, I simplified one thing over here and added complexity to that other thing over there... that's just how I GM.
Since we were deep into DCC country, I used the mercurial magic system. Fiona was playing the sole wizard; an Elf, no less. When casting detect magic, six duplicates appeared for a round before vanishing again into the dimensional aether. One player imaginatively suggested that each doppelganger was testing a potential magic item in a different way so as to determine exactly what that item did (assuming it was magical). On the spot, I said "Yes!" and we went with it.
At the halfway mark, I let the characters hit 2nd level. We quickly rolled hit points, more tablet searching for feats and whatnot commenced, and I dolled out a couple more spells for the wizard and cleric. Man, that mercurial magic is like an instant awesome-ifier! Just that table alone and a party of two or three magic-users could be an adventure in itself.
Oddly, very few players used their inspiration to gain advantage on a role. Though, I still saw plenty of roleplaying take place. The session was a bit light on combat (two) and interaction (the barbarian at the beginning and some dude with amnesia at the end). I could have dropped more encounters in... probably needed a boss fight with some hot gypsies thrown in for good measure.
Alas, no session is perfect. There were a couple missed opportunities, besides the aforementioned. I should have had the rogue's cyber forearm do something useful by the end - maybe tie into the ship's computer [not really spoiling anything since that part I made up on the spot]?
First time around, it's difficult for a module to feel like home. There are growing pains. Fumbling. Discrepancies. Hunting for details. A halting narrative. Oh well, there's always next time.
All in all, everyone had fun. The 5th edition rules held up, just as customizable as they seemed during its maiden voyage. Obviously, having the PHB and DMG in hand will smooth out the rough edges. Frozen in Time could also do with some sanding; however, that's 99% of adventures, in my book. Without the GM's input, it's just words on a page.
p.s. Here are some aftermath quotes from the players...
"Had a great time, great GM and group. Fun one shot I'd not seen before! You've inspired me to try to run some of my own!"
"You might be happy to know that I am now the proud owner of a fifth addition starter set. I had a great time. Thanks again for DMing [Venger]!"
"I went and bought some dice today. I am getting corrupted. :)"