Archive for family

Tabletop Thursday – D&D Reunion

Posted in Tabletop Thursday with tags , , , on April 9, 2009 by hergeek

“The corridor is 10′ wide, stretching ahead of you into a lighted room.  You hear the sounds of high-pitched voices chattering with excitement, and an occasional loud crack, sounding like stone striking stone.  Brandis, you cautiously creep ahead and peer into the room.  You see three small draconic-looking humanoids, up on a 10′ tall ledge, whirling slings over their heads, firing stones down at a bloodied armored orc cowering behind a pillar.”  [Dice are rolled] Brandis, one of the kobolds has noticed you, and is pointing and chittering excitedly in your direction.  Everyone roll for initiative.”

At this point I looked up from behind the DM’s screen as the dice clattered across the table.  My best buddy, Joe, is sitting on my right hand side, where he always sits, mapping, as he always does.  Next to him is John, making a funny remark about his die roll, as usual.  And then the surreal hit me.

Because sitting at the head of the table, opposite me, was Joe’s 18 year old son.  Across from John was my daughter, and next to her was my brother’s daughter.  It was a reunion game, getting my D&D buddies growing up together to play again, some 30 years after we got started, and this time with our kids.

And it was funny how quickly we fell back into our roles.  Me as DM.  Joe playing a rogue, as always, and handling the mapping and note taking.  John as the fighter, and the comic relief.  It was amazing how comfortable it was.  The only thing missing was my brother, who couldn’t play because of chronic back problems.  But his teenage daughter was there, and she sat in for him.

I had been talking up D&D 4E to Joe for a while now, and on a whim I sent out an e-mail to all parties before leaving to visit, and the idea was enthusiastically embraced.  We convened at my parents, as always, but the difference was that instead of being banished to the basement as usual, we got to play in the dining room.    I took about 15 minutes to explain the new rules, and then we just embarked, with me and my daughter (so proud of her!) helping them through the various combat situations until about the 3rd encounter, when they finally had a good handle on how to play their characters.

Of course, some things were different.  There were plenty of snacks, but they were a bit better than our usual Doritos, Mountain Dew and French Onion dip (although we had those too.)  We were watching our language a bit more than we did in the past, since we had younger kids around.  My mom was amused to no end, watching us play.  At one point, she walked through and said “Well, at least I know where you all are, instead of running around getting into trouble.”  We got a big chuckle out of that one.  She also said “I can remember when I was nervous you were all going to go to hell for playing D&D.”  John, a 23 year veteran of the army, who served 4 tours of duty in Iraq, wryly spoke up and said “Some of us DID go to hell for a while.  But I got better.”

We played from 4 in the afternoon until midnight, when we had to stop because the grown ups had to get up early for work the next morning.  It was the longest marathon gaming session I have played in years.  All parties had a great time, and they all insisted that the next time I come down to visit my parents, that we continue the game.  My niece, who had never played before, fell in love with the game, at different times would exclaim “This is so intense!” 

The next day, she was talking to me and my daughter about the game, and she said “Is there any danger to becoming addicted to the game?  All I can do is think about playing now!”  I looked at her, smiled and said, “It’s 30 years since I first played, and I’m still playing.  Nah, I don’t see a problem with it being addictive.”

(This post is dedicated to Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, who passed away yesterday.  Thanks, Dave, for contributing to all of the hours/days/weeks/months of fun I had, and am having.  RIP.)


Tabletop Thursday – That’s My Girl!

Posted in Tabletop Thursday with tags , , , on January 29, 2009 by hergeek

So we were playing D&D 4E this week.  I’m GMing, running Keep on the Shadowfell. The players are my wife (cleric) and one of her friends (rogue), two gaming buddies (fighter and warlock), and my 13 year old daughter (wizard).

Now my daughter has been fairly disengaged in the game, just pretty much standing in the back of the group and using magic missile over and over again, with the occasional thunderwave if beasties get too close. I’ve been encouraging her to look at all of her spells, see if she can figure out a good way to use some of her other abilities, but so far it has really been “Magic Missile, Magic Missile, Magic Missile”.

So last night, they are venturing into the undead part of the keep. They plowed through a group of zombies with little to no problems, thanks to a couple of criticals dropping the big zombies and the Fighter Cleaving the zombie rotters. They boldly strode into the next room, where they were faced with a long narrow room with a glow from the far end, and sarcophagi lining the walls. Cautiously, expecting a trap, they moved in a clump down the room when suddenly with a series of explosive bangs the lids on the coffins all explode outward and skeletons appear. The group is halfway down the room, surrounded by skeletons.

Where's Jason???

Where's Jason???

I put the skeletons on the mapboard, initiative is rolled, and my daughter ended up with the first action. She pulls out her cards, and has a green one in her hand. I’m thinking “Yep. Magic Missile, ” Then she pauses, and really gives the mapboard a look. She puts the green card back in her hand, and looks at me.

“These skeletons down here,” she said, gesturing down the room behind the party,”What do they look like?”

“Well, they are a bunch of nasty looking skeletons. They aren’t moving really that fast, and they are armed with longsword and shield.”

“OK…what about the ones in front of us? What do they look like?”

“Well, most look the same, but there are two in front that in addition to the sword and shield they have the tattered remains of armor on them, and appear to be a bit better put together.”

She pauses and thinks, and looks at her stack of cards. Looks at the map again, smiles, pulls out a her black card and says, “I’ll cast Freezing Cloud.” Still smiling, she points to a square on the map board just outside of the party. “Right there. It’s a burst 2, so that will get all four of these skeletons, who I assume are minions, and hopefully that will take out a few of them”

Everyone looks at her, and I smile, and I say “OK, lets make your attack rolls.”

“And, to make sure I hit well, I’m going to use my wand of accuracy power, which will give me an additional +3 on my rolls. I want to hit these guys hard!”

And she did. She immediately dropped 3 of the six skeletons at that end of the room, and when the skeletons had their round the cloud was still in effect, and took down the other three. Then, since the cloud remained until the end of her next turn, when 2 more skeletons appeared from the sarcophagi at the beginning of the round, they appeared right in the middle of the cloud and were dropped immediately.

She then stayed in the rearguard, taking down any new skeletons that appeared with thunderwave and magic missile, and let the rest of the party take down the bigger, nastier skeleton warriors. Everyone in the group congratulated her on what a great job she did. By herself she took down 15 of the 18 minions they faced. When she went to bed, she gave me a hug, and I said “That was really smart, using your freezing cloud right there. That fight would have been a lot tougher if you hadn’t tried that out, especially since Mom was rolling so badly. (Missed every single target with her turn undead)” She just smiled, gave me a kiss and said “I can’t wait until next Monday to find out what’s behind the next door!”