I was just standing there, minding my own business, when a messenger came up the stairs leading to the temple of Pelor. I was just a Cleric looking for a library to rest in, see if there were any good books about Ioun I hadn’t read before. I wasn’t looking for adventure, or really even to help anyone, but the Paladin who ran the temple was heading out to investigate something or other–some villagers had gone missing in a marsh and all that jazz. So what’s a Dragonborn to do but help, you know?
Thus began the first Dungeons and Dragons game I’ve played in about 7 years. And it was awesome.
I don’t get where all the hate for 4th edition comes from, either. From a 4e newbie, it’s significantly streamlined from 3.0, and about as far from THAC0 as you can get. Our DM is pretty lenient in terms of rules, in that he follows the only one that matters: let nothing get in the way of telling the story.
We only got about halfway through the adventure Khyber’s Harvest; however, we still had enough time for our group to prove to me that D&D is full of what I love best: stories and silly moments to remember.
Memorable Moment #1: The Living Lawn Dart
One of our team’s 9-year-old stepson was playing for the first time. He was a Shardmind Rune Priest with a bloodlust I haven’t seen outside of hungry jungle cats. He wanted to kill his stepfather for stealing his house (literally–the house was just gone, he says!), so his introduction to the group was a sneak attack from a roof. He leapt off the roof toward our party…and rolled a natural “1″ on his D20.
The DM chuckled and informed us that we saw a six-foot-tall man made out of crystal fall from the sky and embed himself (face-first) in the street beside us like a lawn dart.
Memorable Moment Number 2: Grandpa Eskimo
In Khyber’s Harvest, an elderly orc approaches your party and tells you to beware of the harvest and that everyone in the village has disappeared. He’s crazy and fairly useless outside of that bit of information.
But he grabbed me! Me!
So I pull him inside the cottage and my Paladin friend accidentally roughs him up a bit (by accident–another natural “1″) and knocks him out. We find some blood and decide to follow it’s trail. But loving Cleric that I am, I can’t leave the old orc alone in the village to disappear like everyone else. So I pick him up and carry him Superman-style down the road and to our dungeon.
Eventually, he regains consciousness and screams all the time about not knowing who we are or what we’re doing to him because apparently, he was set-dressing for the adventure that was meant to be forgotten once his message had been delivered. However, as we made our way deeper into the cultist’s cavern, I protected him and made sure my senile old orc was okay and with me for every step of the encounter.
I loved him and named him Grandpa Eskimo. I can’t wait to get back to him next session.
Memorable Moment #3: You’ll Poke Your Eye Out
Apparently, the Khyber’s Harvest adventure has a mid-point boss. You enter a room with a cultist priest (complete with tentacle shoulders!), a gigantic orc in armor, bunches of cultist minions, and a 25-foot-tall eyeball embedded into the wall.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: we have to blow up that eyeball!
I thought it, too. So did my Warlock friend. So we, being Dragonborn and very large of stature, convince the Shardmind that his earlier stunt could actually come in handy to us here. So we tell the DM that we are picking him up and throwing him like a dart directly into the giant, pulsing eye in the wall.
Our DM then promptly has an aneurysm. I roll a 22 for the DC check, and my Warlock friend rolls a 19. So we toss him. Perfectly. The giant eyeball explodes into a gooey mess as our Shardmind friend flies through the air and right into the pupil.
Then the problem comes in: he falls 40 feet and takes fall damage to where he’s within 1 saving throw from death.
And you know what else? The giant eyeball wasn’t actually the boss. It wasn’t even connected with the boss. It was the doorknob–it just opened the gate to the next area. All we managed to do was kill one of our teammates and really, really piss off the real bosses in the room–the big ole orc and tentacle priest.
Needless to say, the encounter was a bit tougher than it otherwise should have been.
We quit soon after that encounter because it was getting late, but already, there are stories to tell. Our first night together, and there are already memes–Grandpa Eskimo! Stay back!–and we had a lot of laughs.
That’s what gaming is about, and why I remember having so much fun with D&D back in college. What makes D&D unique is how it puts the players in control of the narrative (it is their story, after all) and that’s what we remember about gaming. None of us remember the 15th time we kill a boss in an MMO, but I sure as hell remember blowing a dog whistle near some sleeping demon mastiffs back in college, and my buddy asking the devil a riddle before we beat him to death. I remember that because it was fun, because it was us, and because it was unscripted.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of Khyber’s Harvest holds.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to see where I left Grandpa Eskimo. He needs me.