So far we’ve had three sessions in our new D&D 5e campaign (set in Ancient Mesopotamia — I’ve always wanted to run a game in that world ever since I read Scott Bennie’s “Testament” D&D supplement, basically THE GREATEST D&D SUPPLEMENT EVER, WHICH SHOULD NEVER GO OUT OF PRINT. Ahem). I’m really enjoying the new system although some things are a little weird and untested; we simply haven’t had enough scenarios/fights yet and I’m not familiar with all the new rules.
The first game was basically setup: the characters met in a bar, almost got in a fight but one player short-circuited it cleverly, avoided one plot thread and chose another, then set off on a mission. We ended on a cliffhanger as they were about to be attacked by pirates.
The second game was much more action-filled and surprising: the characters escaped the pirates but ended up stranded in an area of jungles and mangrove swamps, en route to find and invade the pirates’ camp. Things went very unexpectedly when the party decided to ally with, rather than fight, the lizardfolk who lived in the swamp. As DM, I was able to roll with the new direction, and what could have been an infiltrate-the-pirate-camp scene turned into a mass-attack-on-the-pirates with the player-characters leading a small army of lizardmen. This game went well.
The third game found the player-characters escaping from the lizardmen after a cultural misunderstanding (one of them had inadvertently become engaged to the lizard prince) and sailing away in the pirate ship, climaxing in a battle with the pirate captain who had escaped the slaughter and stowed away onboard. I think everyone had a good time, although I don’t think it went as well as the previous adventure because there wasn’t as much meaningful choice-making: I steered the action a bit more, at one point asking a player to roll for luck to see if a NPC character survived after getting blasted over the edge of the ship and falling into the water, then ignoring the bad-luck roll and deciding the NPC was unconscious but still alive because it would be more interesting and more entertaining to have them rescue her from sharks instead of just depressingly realizing she’d been dead since before she hit the water. >_> I don’t think anybody minded, since I didn’t make a big deal about the switch (“she seems dead… no wait, she’s still faintly alive”), but this is the kind of small DMing mistake that bugs me when I make it.
But hopefully that’s just me being obsessive, and I think everyone had a good time. They failed to take the pirate captain alive and interrogate her, which was a notable decision point. In the next game, I wonder if they’ll sail into port to defend it from being attacked by a dragon, or if they’ll fear for their own lives and run away?
NEXT UPDATE: Wednesday!