The Quest for 5th Edition
Out of the blue, my 12-year-old son, Andrew, tells me that he wants to play Dungeons & Dragons. I was immediately excited and crushed at the same time. Excited, because I remember playing and enjoying D&D as a kid; and crushed, because I don’t want to contribute to the delinquency dorkiness of a minor.
I used to play during the heydays days of D&D in the 80’s. You kids would call me a Grognard. And I owned it all; the Basic Box, the Expert Box, all of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragon books, all of the 2nd Edition AD&D books, most of the modules (and all of the Dragon Magazine Top 30), and all of the Campaign Settings, from Krynn, to Greyhawk, and my favorite, the Forgotten Realms of Faerun.
You would think that I could set my son up pretty sweet for his D&D endeavor. Of course not. In the mid-90’s, when jobs and girls and life got in the way of having fun, I stopped playing. And when a teenaged daughter of a friend said she wanted to start playing, I gave her everything. All of it. I am an idiot. A very nice, caring and sharing, idiot.
So, for my sons, and only for my sons, I have to start up my, I mean my boy’s, D&D collection from scratch again. And I’m really glad I did. Beyond just being able to rekindle a fun hobby. Both my boys and I have bonded fantastically over this shared story that we get to tell together. (As opposed to me just reading to them, which was great at 5, not so great at 10 and 12.)
On these pages I will try and relate our experience of playing a role-playing game with children. Specifically using the published adventures, how successful were we at playing them, how good are the adventures themselves, where do they needed fixing, what I did to, hopefully, improve them, and are they even worth it?
So, you want to play D&D with your kids. Where do you begin? Well, the first thing I bought was the Starter Box Set. $20 invested into our new “hobby”. It’s actually a pretty good deal.
You get a booklet of basic rules, a pretty meaty adventure with a ridiculous title, 5 pre-generated characters, and a set of dragon dice. Do they still call them that or am I just old?
The pre-generated characters are good, average characters of the basic D&D tropes, two fighters, a cleric, a wizard, and a thief. They have great backstory “hooks” that weave them into the storyline.
For those who don’t know, a hook is plot device that uses a part of the character’s backstory, which is created by the player, to further involve that character into the main story. For example, if a player happens to write into the backstory that his character has a sister, or whatever, that he cares about, I can guarantee that, at some point during the adventure, the sister will be kidnapped, turn evil, or both.
I will do a full review of the 5th edition game system itself. Suffice it to say that you can absolutely play the game right out of the Starter Box. The rules will tell you how to play, but unless you’ve played before, most of the rules will seem confusing. If you want to understand why some of the game mechanics are a certain way, or if you want to change your character in ways not dictated by the module, then you will need to purchase the Players Handbook.
Next week, we will start with the First Session of the Adventure, “The Lost Mine of Phandelver”. I told you the title was ridiculous.
There’s a call to adventure. It’s something in the inner psyche of humanity. – Gary Gygax