I know, I know. The title of this article looks like it’s timed with the COVID-19 crisis in mind. I promise I’ve had this post in my back pocket for a while. Now I just have more time at the moment to make it happen. And I really do have D&D fever, which I will definitely take over the current health crisis and the resulting cabin fever.
Since my last D&D article, I’ve played several sessions in 2 different campaigns. Each campaign has offered me very different experiences, and 2 different DMing styles. They’ve both been a wild ride, and a lot of fun. I’ll definitely process some of the campaigns here, but the actual gaming is a small part of my fever.
Escaping into actual play
Actual play podcasts are pretty much the best thing ever.
I started my expedition into these tales of adventure with the d20 Dames. This female-centric, is queer, POC, and family friendly. The dames have so much fun with each episode. It’s full of puns, excitement, suspense, and out of the box thinking. There isn’t a monster they’ve run into that they haven’t tried to befriend.
I binged all of the episodes until I caught up at the end of season 2. Once I caught up, it was tough to adjust to listening to something else everyday during my commute. At least now I savor listening to my favorite ranger, barbarian, druid, and DM, and look forward to them biweekly.
After finishing up Dames, the D&D fever intensified, so I decided to start listening to The Adventure Zone from the beginning. THAT was definitely an odd shift. I hated the show for the first few episodes. What I loved about the d20 Dames? These guys were the opposite. Lots of swearing, lewd jokes, and it seemed like they didn’t know what they were doing. But I stuck it out and I’m glad I did. The story had heart, and it was so worth it. I only listened to their first campaign (Balance). I guess I could only take so much dude humor.
Buying all the shinies!
I keep spending money on D&D (which isn’t really that hard to do.) Lucky for me, I already had a pretty decent dice collection, so I haven’t been obsessively buying dice…yet. There are so many awesome sets out there that I want, but don’t need. Everyone has that problem though, right?
Before even starting the campaign with my friends at home, I bought a custom miniature for my character from Hero Forge. I feel like it was worth the higher price. Their stuff is good quality, and I feel like my first D&D character in 10 years deserves some kind of trophy. Besides, she looks really badass.
I backed the skinny minis Kickstarter. Once I’ve built the confidence to start running games (either at home or in my therapy practice), these will be a game changer. They’re flat and can be stored in a binder, making them super portable. And the the art work is so pretty! I swear this isn’t an ad (the Kickstarter’s over anyway).
I have so many D&D books now. Amazon had a 50% off sale if you bought 3 books a while back. So now I have all 3 source books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual), Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Eberron – Rising from the War. Oh, and I have Rolled and Told’s big pretty vol. 1 collection. The D&D fever definitely hit my pocketbook, and the little free time I have left.
Dungeon Master’s Guide Obsession.
While I’ve opened maybe half the books, and even skimmed through a few of them, one of them got a deep dive. I read the Dungeon Master’s guide. Cover. To. Cover.
I know, I know…some say it might not be possible, but I did it. My wife was worried about me for a bit there. Almost every night she’d lean over and act surprised that I was reading it or shocked at how far I’d gotten.
To be fair, I’ve probably already forgotten 80-90% of what I read…but I feel like I accomplished something. My brain just wanted to know how the game works better. I don’t know if I actually know the game better…but I loved reading about all the magic items and ways to manage situations that come up in game.
I’m a long way from being able to run a game myself, but I think this was a good step.
Finally to the campaigns
After (and during) all the build up and obsessing over storylines, character ideas, and imagined fantasy worlds, I managed to actually play the game!
The first campaign I’ve been a part of has been fun. My wife and I got a few of our friends together to play at our place. We played a few times over the summer/fall, but when the DM and his (now) wife (also our halfling ranger) got married, we had to put the game on hiatus understandably. Over the last 9 months, we’ve played maybe 4 or 5 times.
I will say that the one good thing about COVID-19 is that it’s freed up some time for us to get together and play…online. We’re going to be trying Roll20, and we’ll see how that goes.
I play a half-elf paladin of the ancients. She’s looking to protect the beauty in the world. Kinda think I need some of that in my life right now.
For GT Adventures, the Geek Therapy actual play podcast, I decided to try something I haven’t done before. I picked a class that I usually don’t play (a rogue) and completely randomized it on D&D Beyond. Less goody goody, more know it all, Darkfeet is a dwarf researcher turned to a life of crime.
I have a lot of fun podcasting with my GT buddies, Josué, Lauren, and our fearless leader Brandon. It’s very different playing for a podcast than just a group at home, but I’m learning. Sometimes we have awkward pauses, but it’s ok. We think outside the box and that’s what matters. Pierce, Bonk, and Darkfeet are like the odd throuple I didn’t know needed in my life. Not to toot my own horn, but we’re hilarious.
Each of the two campaigns is giving me very different experiences. My home campaign is a slightly larger group (6 players and a DM), and GT Adventures is smaller (3 players and a DM). Both of my DMs have different styles, but are very laidback, which I appreciate. With all the stress in the world (and my life) I like my games to be fun and go with the flow.
As far as my worries from before…I still feel my role playing skills are so-so, and I don’t speak up much. I have a hard time getting into my roles when they’re so different from who I am. So then I just end up playing me, if I were in a fantasy world. But I suppose there’s something to enjoy from that. I also still don’t do voices.
To wrap it all up, I’m getting into the swing of things with RPGs again. I want to do more, but sometimes it’s hard to find the time. If it’s hard for you to find the time, try to find groups online that might be able to flex schedules.
As of the writing of this post, we’re all in a state of uncertainty and social distancing. It can be scary and lonely, but if you can use things like Roll20 to connect with your group and get some gaming done, do it! A little escapism at a time like this is fine. And you’ll get to be a badass hero (or whatever kind of hero you want to be) while you’re doing it.
Stay home, wash your hands, and destroy your enemies.