D & D 5e & DDO

I am still in “prep” mode in DDO – I have been gaming mostly in EQ2 but logging into DDO a few times a week to build comfort. I have decided to research less, and go for it more – there too is a very deep advanced mode to spend points in that I have no clue about or where to start understanding. So I just read tooltips and picked things that seemed to be synergistic to soloing. Which is what I plan on doing in DDO until I get comfort. I toy with the idea of starting on a fresh, level 1 to experience the game in the kind of bite sized chunks that are often best learned from the start. I still may do that but the Paladin is the class I am most interested in there, and mine is already level 7. That is a lot of duplication. Sometimes it is more fun the hard way.

I don’t know where or why but suddenly I became interested in re-exploring Dungeons and Dragons. I have often talked about PnP games here and lately I have had a bigger desire to reengage. This is mostly because PnP games don’t suffer from the same lack of imagination as their online counterparts – but come with much heavier challenges to get involved in. You need bigger blocks of time, away from your creature comforts, and your real life has to stop. That is called immersion. Conversely, I can game at home, pause and walk away to change the laundry, answer a work call, etc. etc. Gaming is convenience, PnP is immersion. I wish they were closer to one another. Sadly I am forced (by life circumstances, mostly) to stick to gaming.

I have read the new Players Handbook for 5e, and the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Both were very enjoyable. I especially like the new spin on classes they have introduced – The Oath of the Ancients Paladin, being my favorite (on paper). I have been reading and absorbing 5e material without an outlet – or likely space for one – but that still has been fun. I even downloaded the Critical Role podcast and am Episode 4. Critical Role is “old news”‘ for most, I suspect, but basically it is some Hollywood voice actors playing out an extensive D&D campaign. Each episode is over 2 hours in length but they are doing a nice job so far. It’s great as a “to work” and “from work” break. It is also a good exercise to understand what works and doesn’t work in a group dynamic. Listening to the first four episodes you realize quickly who doesn’t know when to listen instead of talk, and some need to take a back seat to let others make decisions and try things. I think that is part of a good learning curve for PnP players and people who plan to be.

This, of course, made me look closer at games in the Dungeons and Dragons universe beyond DDO – and I landed on Baldur’s Gate. They have done an enhanced edition (as well as BG2, and the other parts of the universe) and with that as the most deliberate D&D experience right down to rolls on the screen. It is not the latest edition, however, and the graphics are rightly from the era the game was created in 1998. The experience has been streamlined and I have spent a dozen hours playing it.

Sadly my print screen shortcut wasn’t working via steam as it was for my regular gaming and I didn’t realize it so have no screenshots captured – except the above, which was the first unidentified magic item I had found (and put on, without identifying) and it was cursed! Of course in the 2018 edition that shouldn’t be a curse but a benefit – think of the role-playing options for a thief, for example. Still – that kind of creativity and flavor items are what help made this game fun and I remember spending a ton of hours in it back in the day. Curious how the refined version plays through – and in the short term, it’s been better than expected. Anyone who has tried to go back and play XCOM (original) will appreciate what that feels like.

PnP games aren’t really supportive for a mid 40s, married with child, busy body with work and child based activities dominating the adulting required to “make it in this world”. And while that is a shame, it doesn’t stop me from trying new things, investigating and reading further, and still finding ways to enjoy myself. After all much of this is the base of what our MMOs and RPGs were/are made from – and the source material is as good as ever.

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. There are plenty of role playing board games around, I’ve used those a lot to play with my kids. D&D can get messed up with dozens of dice rolls and no one moving, so it’s hard to find the right balance. Gloomhaven is too much, but a simplified version of Descent seems to fly over well.

    That and they like to peer over my shoulder when I’m on a PC RPG. Walking them through decision points seems to keep them interested for a little bit. Then I have to save the game and let them have fun…

    May a run through Fallout is in the cards – hmm.

    1. My son is into shooters (where did I go wrong?!?) but is definitely sucked in by progression – his friends are all playing OW, PvsZ, and Now Fortnite Battle Royale. He’s 12 =)

      1. Descent has a variant called Star Wars Imperial Assault. Board game, dice, star wars, missions, progress between missions. The downside is someone has to play the bad guy.

        Co-op progress game… Shadows of Brimstone? Similar progress model.

        My kids like the tactile portion of miniatures. Always a challenge with D&D if you can’t see things and are using graph paper to stage fights.

        1. Interesting on Descent – my son has an interest in board games too (Settlers of Cataan, etc.) so lots of variations of Star Wars in any game tends to work! Will check out Brimstone too – Co-op and progress sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. I’ve been re-reading Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay tomes recently, too. I really love the Warhammer setting, and played a bit of PnP when I was younger. Nowadays I sometimes thumb through some old modules and background fluff on the iPad – everything is digitized these days – and let the imagination run amok for a little bit. The days of marathon roleplaying sessions ended in university, however.

    Like Asmiroth says there’s tons of dungeon crawlers out there which you can use as role-playing lite for two to three hours per session, and maybe scratch that itch. Once a month I go to a board game / RPG meet-up and one-off scenarios always go down well. Character progression is saved and stashed away in the game boxes, but beyond that there is no ongoing commitment required.

    1. Reading the materials still scratches the itch! I a toying with the idea of getting into an online game but it really depends on the commitment and session length. I can probably do 2 hour chunks regularly on a Sunday night or something, but otherwise I have a very busy life. Modern technology is making this easier.

      The local game shop has a “learn how to D&D” game once a month that is a 4 hour session I may do just to get a taste of the new rules (and it’s easy to commit to a one off!) but who knows. There are a lot of real life distractions and games to play as well. Weird – just noticed your blog isn’t updating on my blogroll – will check that out!

      1. you went dark for 6 months so moved you to my “Writers Resting in Paradise” list – glad you are back and I have some reading to catch up on!

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