When we started playing Dungeons and Dragons, a laundry list of things every player must know ballooned in my head.
Some things I just told them.
For instance, before play I gave them a heads up on door spiking and ten foot poles. Another example was the new sledgehammer mechanic in Barrowmaze. Just stuff I feel their characters would know.
Other things should be experienced.
I grabbed a copy of The Dungeon Alphabet (it was the Erol Otus cover that got me), but I would never end up using it as a resource. The girls would read it before bedtime and now have the dungeon alphabet memorized.
They needed their own dice. They were using mine our first few sessions. We purchased some awesome dice from Q-workshop. However, these would take some time to arrive, so we went to the local game store.
Up until this point, I had no opinion on 4E. After 3E, my interest in WotC was long dead. While the girls picked out their dice, the owner told me there was going to be an Encounters session in 30 minutes and invited us to join. I asked the girls what they thought and we decided to give it a shot. You can’t knock it, until you’ve tried it, right?
The Red Box caught my eye. I had no idea WotC was reproducing classic content. I was really excited! When would WotC come out with the The Blue Box?
As you already know, I was holding snake oil in my hands (fuck you very much, WotC).
Thankfully, the owner explained that it was not what I thought, so no money was wasted.
“You’re here [place minis on map]; you’re in a skill challenge, so roll d20 a bunch of times; then these monsters attack you [place more minis on map]; now spend the next hour fighting them.”
I feel like I could copy and paste The Aspiring Lich’s experience with Encounters and be done with this post, but I have a few more things to add. Besides, I’d have to edit his experience and change it to three fucking painful hours.
What? Three hours isn’t enough time to form an opinion?
I wrote our first 4E game off as a bad start. Maybe the DM was just out of sorts? So we finished the damn season. A season I thought was about Keep on the Borderlands (more WotC bullshit), but was just another wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Three weeks. All three hour sessions. All combat, after the DM read a wall of text.
To justify the nine hours of masochism, the first session was a genuine interest. The second was a second chance. The third was to finish the season, because why the hell not?
Below are memories that stick out in my head.
- Sue was handed her pregenerated character and she immediately asked where her Thac0 was.
- Sue wondering why her armor class was so bad (ascending AC).
- Kay being frustrated she couldn’t do anything, except what was on her power cards in order to be effective in combat (I think that’s what they were called).
- Kay using her daily power right off the bat, despite the DM warning that she wouldn’t be able to use it in future sessions.
“I know you can’t control my character. I’m using it.“
- Sue and Kay explaining to the other players what a Gelatinous Cube was, including size, paralysis effects and how to use them to your advantage (like disposing bodies).
- Kay wandering around the store bored between turns.
- The girls conspiring to kill one of the players, because she was a drow (they still rightfully fear the Underdark).
What I Got From 4E
In conclusion, the other players were nice and the DM was very helpful and answered all of our questions. 4E is just not our game.
What’s that? WotC discontinued it? You have my sympathies.
It wasn’t a complete disaster. I was flipping through Thunderspire Labyrinth while we waited and I straight up stole a bunch of elements for our campaign. The girls were still playing Wrath of the Minotaur at the time. I thought keeping with the minotaur theme was appropriate. The end result would not be Thunderspire Labyrinth as presented in 4E, but I will give credit to WotC for giving me a little nudge.
A four year run for a couple inspired ideas? Thanks!
The best part was that I didn’t have to buy the product. Suck on that, WotC.