Joseph Harper joins a gang, goes marauding and gets surprisingly emo playing the tabletop fantasy role-player Dungeons & Dragons 4e.
I started playing Dungeons & Dragons about six months ago. Our group are all beginners apart from our Dungeon Master, who is an old hand and is German. I play as a 160-year-old gnome named Nim. Nim is a classic rogue who loves getting on the beer and carries a few varieties of pipe weed that buff his wis. and lowers his dex. Being a gnome is cool because you get to go invisible if you get hurt in a fight. Plus I have a magic dagger (made of demon horn) that gives me a bonus roll against enemy scum bigger than me. Since Nim is 3”2, pretty much everyone is bigger than me, but I can bust on in and do the damage.
Our adventurers began by meeting in some random tower thing because it was raining outside, but quickly a plot unfurled involving a gang of gnolls and goblins called The Blood Ghosts. We began roving the land (mostly involving running away from chaotic self-created situations) and lately we’ve been marauding in the metropolis of Waterdeep with the aim of recruiting the city’s guilds into the battle against the Ghosts. We’ve come to call ourselves the Peppermint Gang because one week we performed a kind of hostile takeover on a Little Rascals-style crew of ne’er do-wells who hoarded a big bag of mints. Now we chuck mints down enemies’ throats as a kind of coup de grâce.
I’ve read that the 4th edition of D&D, which we are playing, is a bit more finicky than other editions. There’s definitely a lot of tactical shifting and maneuvering of miniatures during the battle sequences. At the start of our campaign it slowed us down but we got used to it pretty fast. I’m not certain, but all the technicalities of 4e seemed to make a good introduction to the sport of tabletop RPG – and it was definitely useful as a crutch during our initially awkward role-playing sessions.
Last week we got into some heavy shit. Our battle against the Blood Ghosts got kind of dire after we shot a horse outside a bazaar. The local authorities got involved and, long story short, the Ghosts cut a finger off the brother of our fighter Largo Rivers and blackmailed us into retrieving some fancy compass. The compass was guarded by a group of dark mages in an old tower and our quest to get it was initially going pretty well. We managed to fight through a barrage of underlings and break through various levels of illusions and traps.
Then we tried to sneak past a dining room, our ranger Elms the Eladrin botched the roll, and next thing you know we were elbow-deep in a bucket of trouble. We were over-matched and outgunned and generally getting wasted by a bunch of brutes. The session ended with all of us bleeding out on the floor. It was pretty rough. We spilled out into the night totally shell-shocked and I spent the next week feeling pretty emo about the prospect of my special little guy kicking it.
I was a little bit excited about the prospect of creating a new character: Warforged Paladin, who unflinchingly serves whomsoever sets it free. But mostly I was sad that Nim, the little guy I’d invested six months of thought and energy into, was probably going to die.
The next session we managed to waste everyone using a little fey trickery and the assistance of a massive shape-shifting demon. So it was fine. But our little brush with death really made me appreciate Dungeons & Dragons, and the very real emotional appeal of tabletop roleplaying games in general.
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