Thursday, March 3, 2016

D&D 5E with the Kids, Part 1

I recently acquired a copy of the D&D 5E Starter Set, which includes the introductory adventure "Lost Mine of Phandelver." My friend Tim "the Younger" ran this adventure for our regular gaming group, and it seems like a great introduction to the new edition for my kids (ages 10 and almost 12). They have played a few sessions each of D&D v.3.5, Pathfinder, and Earthdawn, but D&D 5E is somewhat less complicated than any of those systems, so seems like a better match for them at this point in their gaming careers. I invited Jeff, a friend who was not part of the previous run, and his two sons (ages 12 and 16) to join us, and they eagerly accepted.

(By the way, I won't be giving the kids' names here, since they're minors. I'll use their character names or race/class instead.)

We met last month to create characters. The party consists of five 1st-level adventurers:
  • Sothleene, Human Rogue (Charlatan)
  • Starfright. Dragonborn Barbarian (Outlander)
  • Bahli Kegstander, Hill Dwarf Cleric of Moradin (War Domain, Guild Artisan)
  • Gybrush Threepwood, Human Wizard (Sage)
  • Caboose, Forest Gnome Bard (Entertainer)
(L-R): Sothleene, Starfright, Caboose, Bahli, Gybrush
We had our first session of actual play this past weekend. All of my players are new to 5E, and I'm new to DMing it, so most of this session was devoted to making sure everyone understood the rules as they came up in play--attacks, skills, saves, spellcasting, healing, short and long rests, (dis)advantage, etc. 

Here's where you need to stop reading if you don't want to be spoiled for "Lost Mine of Phandelver."

The adventure starts with the party being hired to take a wagon load of supplies to the village of Phandelin, while their employer and his escort ride ahead to take care of other business. The first encounter was an ambush by a handful of goblins. This scene has a pretty simple set-up, being specifically designed to teach the basics of combat. Despite a couple characters taking some arrow hits, the party (mostly the barbarian and cleric) took out the goblins pretty quickly. The cleric's War Priest feature gives him a bonus melee attack, and both front-line characters could easily take out a goblin with a good damage roll. 

Searching the area let the party know that their employer and his escort were captured here and dragged down a trail away from the road. The players spent some time debating what to do next, and eventually decided to hide the wagon in the woods and follow the trail, taking the oxen with them to keep them from being stolen. The big challenge here, for me as DM and for both Jeff and me as parents, was to have the patience to let the kids work all that out for themselves, with minimal nudging from us adults. Jeff very pointedly did not want to have his cleric end up as party leader just because he was the adult and the experienced gamer. 

Once the party settled on their plan, they followed the trail, and narrowly avoided a couple of traps along the way. They found the goblin cave, and were surprised by two sentries hiding in a thicket beside the entrance. After the goblins shot a couple PCs, the party rushed their position. The wizard's sleep spell took out the goblins, allowing his allies to kill them quickly. Between the two fights, the party had used up most of their 1st-level spells and Hit Dice, so decided they needed to retreat, camp, and rest before entering the goblin cave. This meant the goblins would almost certainly be on the alert when they returned, but the players didn't like their chances without recovering first.

The night passed uneventfully, and they returned to the cave to fight a new pair of sentries. They took these out more efficiently--in large part because the rogue successfully used Stealth to get close enough to sneak attack them (and her critical hit was pure overkill).

We stopped there because the kids were getting tired and restless. Also, the rest of this location will likely require a couple more hours to play out, with far less convenient stopping points. Overall, the session was a success, and everyone is looking forward to our next session, later this month.

[Edited 12/8/2016 to add photo of PCs' miniatures.]

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