So, I’ve run a few sessions of D&D 5e using the Starter Set, and found it entertaining. But now, the youngest Mangler has stepped up to be the DM for a new campaign, running the Hoard of the Dragon Queen. (Or, as I will now be calling it the Horde of the Dragon-kin.)
The Manglers have put forth a paladin (my character), a druid, a ranger, and a cleric/sorcerer to tackle the campaign.
In our first session of the campaign last Thursday, we showed up at the town of Greenest as it was being ransacked by kobolds, cultists and a big dragon. We charged in and steamrolled the first few encounters–kobold bodies laying everywhere–some getting face-melted by the cleric, some getting death-from-aboved by the ranger. (None being bothered in the slightest by the poor druid’s Pass Gas spell–or maybe it was Poison Spray?) We rescued some villagers by taking them to the town’s keep, and then things took a turn for the worse when we tried to get back out of the keep.
A couple of rat swarms nearly flayed the skin from our bones, and then kobold slingers took their toll and got their first KO of the evening. Trying to plug a hole in the keep’s defenses elsewhere saw more of us being KO’d by cultists and kobolds. But we didn’t die. Then the dragon showed up again.
Luckily the ranger had some bow skills, and his well-placed arrows drove the beast away–but not before it had smashed half the keep’s archers. By then it was the dead of night, and we hoped to just go to sleep, but no. Back out of the keep to protect the city’s grain supply. Our ambush was barely effective, but we avoided the counter-ambush, and some very careful hit-n-run tactics (and the druid’s newfound ability to Bear UP!) helped our cause. But running low on HPs, and out of spells, we tried a desperate gambit to buy the loyalty of the mercenaries fighting alongside the cultists. (One perfect Persuasion roll later.) They agreed to our idea, and turned on the cultists, and left the field with our bribe. Now, we’re stuck at the mill, with about 20 hit points among the 4 of us, no spells, and running low on ammo. It’s gonna be a long night.
I have to say, I love this game. I haven’t felt this excited about D&D since the first few levels of 3rd edition. I’m redesigning my character sheet, making spell cards, contemplating sword-and-board versus greatsword, and debating exactly how V,S,M components work with the “free” environment action economy. The combat runs quickly; there’s really no need for a DM screen except for conditions; the DM has his/her authority back to make calls; and there are kobolds to be killed.
I can’t really review the adventure much because so much of an adventure depends on GM choices, but I can say that this first session felt heroic and stressful and made me really feel the pain of resource management. With no long rest in sight, some of us might die in the next session, and it’s never really crossed my mind that the adventure failed to “balance” the encounters. The game gives what it gives–random encounters and all–and you take it, roll the dice, hope for 20s, and try not to let the thoughts about what class you’ll play if your dude dies get too strong.
I predict a long life for Hieronymous Drakeslayer III, my leg-breaker turned paladin. I’ll keep you posted.