Sunday, September 14, 2008

To the Right of the Screen

While the intent of this blog is to chronicle my return to my gaming roots and the construction of the dungeon complex that accompanies that return, it might become necessary to mention some of my experiences as a player as well. Thus, To the Right of the Screen is born.

The title refers to my location at the gaming table as a player, as opposed to my position behind the screen as a DM. While the experiences and attitudes between the two positions can differ vastly, there’s nothing a good DM can’t learn from playing as well as running a game. The latest edition of D&D might be trying to equalize the two roles in the game somewhat, but coming from the apprenticeship program of learning to run a game from an experienced DM that many old-school players grew up with, a good DM must always remember that his players will make or break any campaign.

A recent turn of events in the game I play in makes those experiences pertinent to what I intend to discuss here. That event is our first actual dungeon delve. Because of the structure of the campaign, we’ve had a few cave crawls, a keep clearing and a tower travesty, but until last night, we’ve never actually set foot in a dungeon with the set goal to get every piece of loot we could and woe-be-it to whatever stands in our way.

It should be interesting, if simply only because of the demographic of the players. We’re a group of six including DM, with an age range between the mid-twenties and early fifties. On occasion, we’re joined by one of the player’s fourteen-year old daughter. Experience-wise, it runs the gamut from 25+ years of playing to the novice. For one person, this is going to be their first dungeon crawl. I’ve already let the rest of the group know that I’m going to be taking a backseat in the exploration process, simply because I don’t want to rob some of them from that first “not quite sure what we’re doing” flavor of dungeon exploration.

I did nominate myself to buy the supplies for the expedition though. In addition to the kit we normally carry, the shopping list looked like this:
  • 20 large sacks
  • 24 iron spikes
  • 2 hooded lanterns
  • 20 torches
  • 12 candles
  • 20 flasks of oil
  • 12 pieces of parchment
  • 1 crowbar
  • 1 pick axe
  • 1 10’ pole
  • 50’ of rope
  • 10 1 lb. bags of salt
  • 1 5 lb. bag of flour
  • 1 jar of grease or lard
  • 1 bag of caltrops
  • Pack mule w/ pack saddle and bag

The joy I had putting this list together was immense. Just seeing it written out on paper brought back a slew of memories. Some of the items brought about a few questions from the less experienced players. In fact, when questioned about the salt, one guy asked if I expected to run into “giant slugs or something?”

The answer, without an ounce of sarcasm, was: “Possibly.”

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