I attended the 2012 Dungeons & Dragons Experience convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I couldn’t afford to fly there so I decided to drive my dirty blue Hyundai Accent to a place near Buffalo, NY -a 7 hour drive from my native Montreal- to meet up with fellow Critical-Hits writer, WotC freelancer and all-time superstar Shawn Merwin. He drove the rest of the way and much fun was had.
The convention was awesome, I got to see many friends again, made new ones, ran my own adventure, and, of course, played a few games of D&D Next, the very early prototype of what the next version could be based on.
Like so many other bloggers and freelancers, I’ve signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement so I can’t discuss specific rules. Rather I will do what I like doing best: tell stories of the games I ran, sharing highlights and special DMing and player moments during that 4 day long event. Up first, the genesis of new heroes.
Temple of the Weeping Goddess (Spoiler Warning)
As you may know, my 1st freelance credit for D&D 4e was the publication of rules to make level 0 characters, something that some people working on various editions of D&D wanted to bring back since the publication of AD&D Treasure Hunt adventure module in the late 80s. To supplement these rules, I also wrote a Dungeon magazine adventure featuring a group of orphans escaping a sound trashing at the hands of drunken adventurers only to be thrust into a dangerous quest to save a lost Aspect of Avandra trapped in the Elemental Chaos.
Yes, I thought it would be cool to send pre-heroic characters to the Elemental Chaos.
Highlights of Session 1:
All players made a party of characters that seemed lifted from The Goonies . My favorite character was the dwarven divinely-touched fat crybaby.
Fafir: “But I mean well! It’s not exactly my fault the fish market exploded last month!”
That character’s player went to town with characterization. Whining all the time and trying make up for his many mistakes all the time.
Fafir: I always look up to my big brother.
Bofur: Hey, no size joke, I’m just precocious!
During the first scene, while running away from the drunken adventurers, the players were discussing how to lose their pursuers. They came up with this gem:
Player: Lets lure them into a brothel!
Dragonborn: Yeah! That’s a GREAT idea.
Fafir: Oh, I don’t know guys, I hear brothels are EVIL.
Chatty: Hey, do your characters know what a brothel is?
Player: Not really… I mean, we all heard about them, this is a port city after all.
Fafir’s player: Yeah, Fafir assumes its some dark place where people drink a lot and dance.
(I love playing tweenaged characters.)
Later, the Dragonborn brute had his crowning moment of awesome. One of the bad guys was hidden underneath a fallen cupola sitting in the corner of a room. The character climbed up the wall through the caved-in ceiling and dove, greatclub first into the cupola, making it ring like a church bell, knocking its hapless occupant out.
At that point, I was standing up, acting the scene, hamming up each gestures, sounds and grunts. The dragonborn’s player had a grin so large, I was afraid his head would fall off.
I live for moments like these.
In the sessions’ last scene, where the young adventurers were pleading with the insanely angry and sad goddess, Fafir went to town.
Fafir (with a broken voice full of tears): You’ve got to stop blaming yourself for mistakes you did so long ago. I do mistakes all the time and I feel ashamed, but I always get back up and charge back into life, because I know I’ll get better. Please stop crying my beautiful goddess.
Chatty (stunned): Are your characters serious about loving her or are you just trying to calm her down so she can leave the plane?
Players (all nodding): Oh we’re totally honest here man, we want her to know we care for her.
Chatty: Wow, +6 bonus!
That really was a great game.
But that was just the half of it, I got to see more of Fafir during the weekend. I got served what I think is the greatest example of characterization in my 30 years as a DM.
Up next: My second session of the same adventure, some Fort Wayne stories and traveling tips!