2011 19 Mar

D&D – Dark Sun: First Game

Author: Matt Categories: Dark Sun

When :

17 March 2011


Euan’s house


Matt (DM), Drew (Lactose the Intolerant), Thom (Phye) and Euan (Jin)


I won’t go too much into the story here as Euan will be publishing a narrative account of the evening’s play.  Let’s just say there was flipping and dying.

A few points before starting.  Most of us haven’t role played seriously in quite a few years.  For a couple of us (me included) it was back in junior high school, ie 20 years ago, so we are kind of finding our way.  One thing we do need to try and do more of actual role playing, rather than meta gaming which is easy to fall into after playing a lot of Euro board games recently.  Having Euan and Thom in the group is going be a great help as they have RP’ed more than the rest of us, and when a couple of people get into it, it makes it easier for the rest of the group to pick up on the cues and go along with it.

We have started off our Dark Sun campaign with the introductory 3 encounter adventure found in the Dark Sun Campaign Setting Book.  This leads nicely into the adventure “The Vault of Darom Madar” which will then lead into Marauders of the Dune Sea.  By that time I feel we will have become comfortable with our characters and the mechanics and I can focus more on story related DM’ing rather than just “encounter – whack a monster” situations and following someone else’s lead.

Looking at the game from a DM perspective we sorted out a few issues that left the combat feeling a bit stale.  We didn’t quite understand the shifting rule and a couple of other movement rules which left parts of our second battle bogged down with the characters and monsters not moving for fear of opportunity attacks.

I thought there must be some way for the battles to move around the grid more and it turns out our understanding of shifting was a bit off, so this should help with next weeks session.  From my point of view, I think I need to roleplay the creatures a bit better.  Silt Runners, being savage tribal types, might take into account opportunity attacks and change tactics accordingly, but in our second battle the Kruthiks are basically non-sentient so wouldn’t care about opportunity attacks.  They would just focus on the most dangerous enemy in their line of sight and go for it!

I was also put on the spot fairly quick smart with some interesting questions from Euan and Thom (in character) which led to my first real bout of “make stuff up on the spot”.  But then again, that’s what roleplaying should really be.  The danger with 4E as I can see it, is that you can become too bogged down in details, rules and meta gaming, especially with the miniatures and grids.  Characters should be encouraged to come up with interesting ideas and actions and should be rewarded for doing so.  As a DM, I should be focusing on letting my players create their own world with a little help from me.

One thing which did turn out well was the use of 3D terrain pieces which I whipped up over the weekend.  I will be making some more, but the use of terrain and miniatures really did help create a more “3D fleshed out world” and helped the gameplay.  I will be looking at a mix of papercraft scenery pieces and styrofoam terrain pieces.


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One Response to “D&D – Dark Sun: First Game”

  1. Drew Says:

    Totally agree on all points. Someone pointed out on the official D&D forums that 4E is very rules structured in that everything combat related can be studied to the smallest detail by flicking through the rule books. But at the same time, the game is really only as structured as you want it to be. And supposedly 4E (and Essentials in particular) is even less about reading rule books and following formula than 3E was.

    I’m pretty sure we broke a ton of rules in our last game, especially with Euan flipping around all over the place, but that is what roleplaying is about, and the game was still challenging even whilst breaking those rules. If you can climb a rock spire, kick off any incoming armoured crab beasts and then do a flip onto a wagon, then forget the rules and just do difficulty checks to see if you manage it or not. The most memorable part of this session was when Thom and I lay dying on the ground, failed 2 saving throws, and Euan managed to do crazy acrobatics shit (whilst fighting off monsters) to get to Thom and get him back on his feet.

    I think the more we play, the more we will get into roleplaying mode, especially if we play each week and make this a consistent thing. Rules for me have already started to become second nature, with us only really referring to the rule books a few times during this session, compared to when we first played and had our faces in the rule book for 90% of the time.

    The other thing is that the more we play, the more our characters start to develop a history and a personality of their own, and that is where storytelling and an actual sense of adventure will come from.

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing what is inside that big stone tower we discovered in the middle of the desert 😉

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