I’ve been planning on writing up this recap of our local gaming store’s participation in the June 15th D&D Game Day event “Vault of the Dracolich” and I had a big post in my head but due to the involvement in running the event and it backing right up on Father’s Day here in the US and a forthcoming vacation that I have to get ready for I need to just post this to give my thanks and appreciation before it’s no longer relevant. So here goes…
Saturday we ran the D&D Game Day event “Vault of the Dracolich”. It was a multiple table event where separate groups of players all participated in the same story but from different areas. Basically, there was a large dungeon and each party of adventurers entered from a different area within the dungeon – all with the same purpose: Find the idols, lower the magical field and defeat the Dracolich (a big, undead dragon).
I’d never played a multi-table role playing game event before much less coordinated it but I was working with a couple of great people who were going to run the tables for me and I’d intended to be the coordinator and just run between the tables and keep all the groups up to date with what the others were doing.
As it turned out, we had 15 players signed up and ready to before “Go” time and we all had to make a decision to split the group up onto three tables. We were pushing maximum capacity as there was another event going on at the store that day. Two more players showed up shortly thereafter so it was the right decision but it forced me to sit down in the gamemaster’s seat and try and figure out how to both run a game and the event at the same time.
As luck and fate would have it, one of our mutual friends who’d sworn off D&D for Pathfinder was with us at the store and he graciously volunteered to play the part of the coordinator and he kept track of the parties, our mutual interactions, and kept up with this pesky Dracolich which was prone to wander about trying to eat the characters.
I’m going to cut out a lot of the details to wrap this thing up sooner than later but I want to say this. This was probably the best game of Dungeons & Dragons I have ever played.
I was running a great group of 7 players who thought up creative solutions to problems, made their characters do things that were creative and believable, they spoke over each other and realized they were doing it and kept going back to “let’s let everyone share their ideas”, and they made our table’s experience unique from the other two tables – just like different groups would function in the real world trying to tackle a common goal.
And with all that going on I ran back and forth between other tables to let the other gamemasters know what just happened at my table, what kind of messes we left behind the rooms we just left, and what their players would find if they followed us. My players left traps unsprung, large piles of gold and gems hidden behind illusionary walls, and had their way with the dragon’s massive vault of coins, artifacts, weapons and armor. They really had their pick of the crop with regards to the Dracolich’s cache. It was a sight to see.
So let me close out with some “thank you”s. Thanks to the folks who designed this game and wrote the encounters and the adventure, playtested it and packaged it up for us. Thanks to my FLGS, Swords and Superheroes for hosting us and making room for our group as it expanded. Thanks to the players familiar and new who came out to participate – you guys made the game fun for me, too. Thanks to David and Deryk for DM’ing the other two tables and helped keep this story moving while being completely off the rails at the same time. And thanks to Matt who stepped up and coordinated the three tables for us. It was a very collaborative event to run between us all and I really enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed rolling the dice.
A quick word about the D&D Next rules which we used. They felt fun and fluid. I didn’t feel constrained by them nor did I feel like I was “doing it wrong” when I had to make a few rulings along the way. We played the big bulk of the adventure with not minis or 1″ square play mats. We all enjoyed the theater of the mind elements but did use dice as markers a few times just to line up where everyone was located- nothing to scale, but great to help visualize. The final battle WAS on a playmat, but we really handwaved a lot of that anyway. So, I feel optimistic about D&D Next and hope you give it a try whatever side of the “Version Wars” you side on or if you’re a die-hard Pathfinder fan. And if you’re very new to the game, as one of our participants was, I hope you come in and just have some fun with it.
I sure did.