Adam has started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in London. Here is his account of their first epic (drunken) journey.
So I’ve finally done it. I figured there was a geeky stereotype I hadn’t tried yet. I read comics, play a crapload of video games, watch anime (and was the treasurer of an anime society at uni), have cosplayed more than once, and even have a superhero tattoo. And I’ve loved every single second of all of it. But D&D? Never tried it. It isn’t that I was ever opposed to it, I just never got around to it or had the opportunity. A year or so ago, after a night of drinking with some old friends in Bristol, I sat and watched (lets assume I was still drinking and probably eating bacon) as they started character creation before a new session of D&D. I had to leave to get back to the big smoke before they finished, so didn’t get to see any of the actual game played, but it looked to be far more fun than I had previously thought. Even the character creation was entertaining, mainly because of some shitty dice rolling that left my good chum James with a shockingly terrible starting character. But with all the people I knew that would play games like D&D either in Bristol and Bournemouth, and me being trapped in the grey hell that is our glorious capital, I figured my chances of trying it out were slim.
Cut to a couple of months ago, and a London based friend checked my interest in playing as a preliminary before seeing if other (less nerdy) friends would be into it. Not long after (really not long after), he informed us that he had ordered the new 5th Edition Starter Set (out last month) and we started organising our first game, to introduce it to everyone and see if it was something people were into and wanted to carry on with. We had a brief discussion at the pub early last week, convinced the unconvinced into trying it out, and set for later in the week to go through our first try. We elected to use preset characters to save a night of rolling for stats, choosing independently what we each wanted to go for, coming up with names and altering back story, personality traits, flaws, bonds etc. to make things a bit more interesting. Snacks were bought, food was ordered, drinks were drunk, and we were ready to start.
Our Dungeon Master started us off on the ‘Lost Mine of Phandelver’ campaign which, for reasons I don’t really remember, we decided to call the ‘Lost Mine of Fandango’. In our first night we ran through the first part, being ‘Goblin Arrows’. We introduced our characters to each other, I based my character concept on Futurama’s insane robot Roberto, specifically from the version from the heavily D&D influenced film ‘Bender’s Game’. A human(oid robot) nobleman-turned fighter, recently escaped from an asylum. My character trait was simply ‘crazy’, which freed me up to do very stupid things all night. Some worked out, some didn’t. ‘King Roberto’ as I insisted on going by, along with fellow noble ‘Deano’, the halfling rogues ‘Tiny’ and ‘Bubbles’, the high elf wizard Lordy and the homeopathic cleric Samuel, were tasked with guarding a cart along a route between towns, containing various things including oil and ale.
We came across the dead horses of the dwarf paying us for our job, and our cleric then decided to run us straight into a goblin trap, immediately killing one of the two oxen pulling the cart. I tried to attack, missed and then spent the rest of the encounter ‘practicing my stabbing’ on the dead ox. Through some teamwork (and luck) we got through the situation. We then proceeded to waste about an hour by splitting up. The halflings went ahead with the cleric to scout the area (something they were shockingly bad at, the group setting off more traps), the wizard Lordy decided to set off on her/his own quest southwards, and I suggested to the noble Deano that we should drink all the ale. To lighten the load of the surviving ox, obviously. This all turned into a bit of a mess, and we decided to press on to some caves that the goblin trail led to. Along the way, I kept trying to mug my comrades at knifepoint to stay in character. We entered the caves, and found a side room with some angry chained up wolves. Deano calmed them down. Samuel decided they weren’t calm enough, so tried to sing to them. They got angry again and tried to get loose. Lordy threw iron spikes in their eyes, previously covered in blood, shit and gin, This made them blind, but even more pissed off. I then mercy-killed them. I feel pretty bad about that, even if they weren’t real.
While in the cave we set some goblins on fire, Tiny decided to sneakily steal a load of gold and our characters were none the wiser (the cheeky fucker), and after we convinced the second-in-command goblin to turn against the Bugbear leader, Deano rather masterfully revealed this to the leader, selling out the second in command and striking a deal that got us all paid much more than the original job. He did this so out of the blue that I was relatively convinced he was about to sell us out too. He didn’t, but I’m not so sure I trust Deano that much now, the sly New World bastard… Through all this we got some information of where to go next and some of the wider story to come. I even made a few helpful notes.
And that concluded our first session. I was expecting it to be fun, maybe a bit awkward, but fun all the same in the end. It was much better than I expected, probably in part thanks to a Dungeon Master who managed to roll with a lot of the stupid shit we pulled, and some ingenious and entertaining thinking that pulled us through without it ever being boring. I’m even fairly sure (and hopeful) that the possible skeptics in the group were into it, especially seeing as we are all keen on carrying on. It remains to be decided if we want to carry on with these originally preset characters, or start from scratch, rolling for stats and coming up with new backgrounds.
Ultimately, D&D has always perpetuated as one of the core nerdy stereotypes not just in the media, but in the general social construct of the nerd. The reason why people continue to play it, now 40 years since the original came out, is because it is damn fun. So much fun that we are all going to keep playing. Haven’t given it a try? Check it out! Now is a great time, with the 5th Edition Starter Set just having come out and more on the way, such as the Player’s Handbook next week and the Monster Manual next month. As long as you go in with an open mind (and a full glass, preferably of whisky) and a decent group of like-minded friends, you’ll do fine.
Check out the next part here!