Begin at the Beginning…

It only seems appropriate that my first blog about D&D should cover my first session as a DM. I was voluntold a little while ago, by my husband, that I would be DMing for a group of players that we work with. All of these players had far more experience than I, but none of them had ANY playtime in 4th edition, which is all I have ever known. Thus, my fate was sealed.

I was pretty nervous going in, so I decided to go with a pre-made off Wizards Dungeon Magazine (which I eventually abandoned 90% of, more on that later). However, our first session was to be a short one, and I wanted a quick little adventure to introduce the players to the new edition, and to teach our one player who was new to D&D in a controlled environment. So they started at a stereotypical Tavern.

I created my Tavern story in Neverwinter, not knowing about the Beached Leviathan until after I finished, so I went back and stole a few names and the description from that background. Aside from that, the Tavern was largely my own invention. The players talked to locals about a creepy silent child who lived with her barmaid mother at the Tavern (the barmaid had a questionable relationship with the Tavern owner), had a short battle with a local human gang (a handful of minions and a leader), discovered the barmaid dead, and were harassed to pay for battle damages from the Tavern owner when he discovered the ruckus, all before being called to a meaningful quest to save Neverwinter.

The local gang was the perfect little encounter to teach the mechanics of fighting, and get the players some experience with their powers. I was a little upset that none of my players got drunk before it started, because I was looking forward to telling them “minus one to attack, but plus two to damage” which is the drunk ratio I had decided upon beforehand. Alcoholism aside, the pace was perfect for 4 players with 5 minions and 1 leader, level 1 players fighting level 2 monsters. Yes they blew through it, but the battle was easy so that when we stopped to explain things it wouldn’t feel like everything was “dragging.” The result was a perfect balance.

In the next encounter with the Tavern owner (who discovered the players had trashed his establishment), the players had the option of fighting him or negotiating for reparations. I set this up as a skill challenge to introduce everyone to the 2nd form of encounters, and they chose not to fight so it ended up being a very interesting dynamic. As some players slipped into a different room to discover the dead barmaid, others argued over the fair price of tables and chairs. Players had to decide whether or not to tell the Tavern owner about the dead barmaid, all while trying not to push any of his “buttons” that would turn everything into a fight. They were successful, they made payment at a fair price, cleaned up the bloody bodies, and broke the news to the poor chap without triggering any backlash upon themselves. After meeting the so-called “creepy” child and failing to get any communication from her, they decided she wasn’t creepy at all, just a little strange, very silent, and very emotionless. They spent the night in the tavern unconcerned about her situation.

During the night, I introduced the Wizards pre made I was going to use: the Shards of Selune. The players awoke to a vision calling them to Lady Jasmine at a temple nearby, which they quickly took off to find, followed by the little girl. At the Temple Lady Jasmine explained that the goddess Selune had shed three tears in the form of shards, which were intended to be united and used to save the city of Neverwinter. This is the extent of the pre made that I used, because beyond that information I wasn’t thrilled with the setup.

When lady Jasmine asked the players to find the first shard, they all just sort of said “no thank you, I don’t care about your goddess.” I was pretty irritated, they had to be bribed with promises of rooms of treasure and titles of nobility, should they succeed. That hooked ’em in. Will they ever get any of it? That remains to be seen… no spoilers here. It’s mostly up to them, anyhow.

They took off to the first shard location, encountered some orcs (which were much more challenging and bloodied a few players), and that was the end of our first session.

All of this occurred before I had received any of my DM tools in the mail, so my DM screen consisted of three cereal boxes, and the minis were on home-printed maps on paper held together by staples. It was a little ghetto.

Our second session was far more involved, and I was able to go completely out on my own and get super creative with some riddles and puzzles. Tune in next time for some fun tips you can steal for your own game!

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~ by DM's-R-Us on October 21, 2011.

One Response to “Begin at the Beginning…”

  1. Bravo my dear, bravo! You’ve learned some valuable lessons there. 🙂

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