Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons

After a 26 year break, I'm playing Dungeons and Dragons again.

I've tried online "role playing games", spending the most time on World of Warcraft and EVE Online. They can be engrossing... even addicting, but they don't compare to Dungeons and Dragons.

In junior high and high school I was a D+D fanatic. Of course I didn't make this public knowledge. Today we are living in the Golden Age of Geekery, but this wasn't the case in the early 1980's. Back then D+D was a secret known only to a few friends.

Things have changed. First of all, I have changed. I am past the age where I care what people think of my hobbies. I write fantasy novels. I make longbows. I very occasionally dress in funny clothes and pretend it's the Middle Ages.

I play Dungeons and Dragons.

Think it's weird? I really, truly, honestly don't care. I'm having a blast with my friends. It's great not being in junior high school any more.

The world has changed as well. In the 80's people didn't really realize what geeks were bringing them. Today they do. Like your iPhone? A geek brought you that. Same with your computer and the internet. Enjoy Game of Thrones on HBO? Thank a geek. The popularity of The Big Bang Theory is clear evidence of how far we've come in our acceptance of geekery.

So what triggered my return to D+D? It was this article on i09.

After reading the article I decided to pick up the boxed set. It was only @$12 on, how could I go wrong? The box arrived and I was very impressed. It gave you a campaign and all the rules you need to advance to 5th level.

Of course I then ordered the new Player's Handbook. In fact, just seconds ago, I pre-ordered the Monster Manual. Yep, I'm hooked.

The next step was to find players. I knew Mike Shultz would want in. He's my writing critique partner and we've talked D+D on many occasions. But how to find other players? I was pretty sure Bob and Steve, two friends I've reenacted with would jump aboard. They did. Three players isn't bad, but I wanted a good sized group. How to get more?

"Hey, want to play some Dungeons and Dragons?" Not the easiest question to ask other forty year olds. Mike and I knew that one of our co-workers, Ian, was already in a campaign. We hit him up and he was in. In fact, every single person we asked wanted in. They all thought it was a great idea. Two friends, Jim and Tim, had to back out due to family responsibilities. This is one issue younger players generally don't have to deal with. We did pick up Dan. The group was set. Five players: Mike, Steve, Bob, Ian, and Dan. I would DM.

The band of heroes.
I was very happy to assume the role of Dungeon Master. I'd always done it with my friends, so it was something I was comfortable with. What really had me psyched was that I was going to place the game campaign in the world of my novels. All of the players had read both Eternal Knight and Child of the Knight and were up for campaigning in the world of The Orb series.

How did I adjust the world to fit a D+D setting?

1) The campaign is set 300 years after the events of the last (yet to be published) novel in the series.
2) The Orb of Creation was "unlocked", releasing the ability to do magic into the world. Now more than just elementars, singers, and summoners (you'll read about the singers and summoners in Shadow of the Knight) would be able to do magic.
3) As readers of the books know, Akinos created the giant capcaun and urias, as well as the berserk varcolac and the silver elementars. What readers don't know is that he did more experiments. These other experiments resulted in many other "fantasy" creatures being created.
4) Rigaria is now overrun with monsters, and a place where only high level adventurers dare to go. The East Teren is the "wild west", subject to constant invasions from Rigaria. A good place for new adventurers.

What came of the eternals? The ones that survived (those who separated themselves from the Orb) have become liches. They create pyren (vampires) and ghouls to serve them.

The varcolac split into two lines. Some assumed more of their animal nature and became were-creatures. Those with stronger human influence became orcs.

Dwarves and halflings? Rejected experiments by Akinos. (Don't call a dwarf an "Akinos reject", however. They don't take it well.)

Elves? The spiridus, of course.

Anyway, you get the idea. I've turned The Orb novels into an "origin story" for my D+D world. This wasn't done just for the D+D campaign. I've always thought of the books as an origin story for a more traditional fantasy world. More on this another time.

Well, I was going to write about our characters and their adventures, but this has gone long enough! I'll write another post about the campaign itself. Maybe I'll make it a regular thing.

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