D&D Next Playtest
At the beginning of last year, Wizards of the Coast announced the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons. At the time, I was in the midst of two Fourth Edition D&D campaigns, one as a player and one as a DM. And while Fourth Edition has proven an incredible vehicle for epic length storytelling, I never really fell in love with it. Maybe that’s because my first taste of D&D was on the last day of summer camp in the 90s waiting for my parents to pick me up. Or maybe it’s due to growing up as a Third Edition player and DM. For whatever reasons, both myself and the DM of the group I played in, longed for a return to 3.5.
Being in the midst of two campaigns, it can be difficult to find time to run the playtest. In addition, we had begun planning for an all day one shot we’d end up hosting in June 2012. But national holidays are wonderful things and we gathered our available friends and ventured forth into the Caves of Chaos on Memorial Day 2012.1 The new rules were still d20-based, the classes were limited to only a few levels but felt like good starting points. I played as the elf wizard and used that shocking grasp to great effect.
By far the most memorable sequence from that playtest was lead by my mom. Our party was standing in a hallway, we had peeked into the next room and saw it filled with goblins, bolts and arrows knocked and hidden behind overturned tables. This was not a good look for us. My mom, playing a fighter, had the fake coins we took from the troll and tossed them into the goblins’ room. One curious goblin opened up the bag but quickly realized they were the fake ones used to by the troll off in the first place. But it was a fatal mistake anyways.
Mom: “I toss in the bag of coins.”
DM: One of the goblins comes out of hiding and picks up the bag looking at the coins. It looks at you as it realizes that the coins are really just coppers.
Mom: “Can I shoot the goblin?”
Stunned silence around the table.
DM: “Yes, yes you can.
And so the battle started. I may have misremembered the exact words but stunned silence plus agape mouths was amusing as everyone realized that my mom had just come up with the Best Idea Ever(tm).
Late last fall we got another in another playtest session. We again ventured into the Caves but took a different path. We ended up TPK’ed a couple of times but this packet had my favorite class by far, the Sorcerer. This was not your 3E or 4E sorcerer. This was really more of an expansion of the idea behind the Dragon Disciple prestige class from Third Edition’s Tome and Blood. And I think it was executed marvelously. I was really disappointed by it’s disappearance from the next packet. Personally, I feel it gave a real distinction between Sorcerers and Wizards instead of Sorcerers are just Wizards with less utility but more firepower. It honestly felt like an arcane paladin, something that I’ve never felt has been successfully accomplished by any of the other attempts.
Anyways, enough about the playtest experience thus far, this post is really meant to introduce my latest campaign which is set on the continent of Torgrim. I will freely admit a major inspiration for me has been George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. I read the book a while back in preparation for the TV series but I haven’t kept up with either.2 Other inspirations are Bioware’s Dragon Age and WotC’s Eberron.
Torgrim is dominated by the Sunsteel Empire, a large majority human empire that covers most of the southeast. There are two smaller human kingdoms in the same area but both pay some modicum of tribute to the Empire in exchange for retaining their territory. The dwarves have taken root in Silverpeak, a large mountain that divides the humans from most of the other races and the Citadel, a larger hill in the southwest. Elves inhabit the south and west forest covered coasts. Evil humanoids and a human tribal civilization reside in the north. Finally, there is another human empire on a continent to the east of Torgrim.
Torgrim will be my D&D Next Playtest world for the forseeable future as I’m unsure how long this campaign will last. Our group goes through cycles where we can generally get everyone together through Spring and Summer but Fall rolls around and only one or two people can play. But if that happens, I may finally consider running a play-by-post game because I’d really like to explore the world of Torgrim.