D&D: Season 1

Over the past 9 months we have been playing Dungeons & Dragons nearly every Sunday. We wanted to spend more time in person with our friends doing something collaborative and creative. A role that was previously filled by puzzle hunt development. After listening to The Adventure Zone and stumbling on to Matt Colville’s YouTube channel we decided that D&D would be the next activity to try.

Throughout this season we played two different campaigns with our Sunday group. First we played through Curse of Strahd. I was playing a Circle of the Moon Druid.

Playing as a druid was fantastic. The class is versatile both in and out of combat. I had plenty of spell options while still being able to absorb a lot of damage thanks to wildshape. I even managed to have the highest kill count in our party (thanks Conjure Animals!).

The Curse of Strahd campaign contained many plot twists and interesting moments, but often we were left aimlessly wandering around Barovia trying to find our next mission. Sandboxes can be fun but require a lot of prep work from the dungeon master to adequately provide plot hooks to all of the available missions.

After Curse of Strahd, we played Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. I volunteered to be the dungeon master for this campaign. I chose Dragon Heist because it is heavily based on mystery, investigation, and social intrigue. All of which were less prominent in Curse of Strahd. The short timeline, only levels 1-5, meant that it would not be a large commitment. Another attractive quality since we are still a new group and still learning how to play with each other.

Since it had been nearly a year since Dragon Heist was released, many other groups have published their experiences and modifications to the campaign. Which provided a large collection of material for me to pull from while planning. I based the overall structure of the campaign on Dragon Heist: The Alexandrian Remix. The main motivation of the remix is to use all of the material and villains in the published adventure, instead of only the one that fits within your current “season”.

I also incorporated four different one-shot adventures based around Waterdeep to explore different gameplay styles with the players while they earn money to open Trollskull Manor.

Some lessons learned:

Overall, I found that running the game meshes well with the way my brain works. An unending list of problems to solve and nearly limitless tools and a clear objective. I love both solving problems and telling stories and I look forwarding to doing both in future campaigns.