With more and more areas of the world under lockdown due to COVID-19, online gaming groups have blown up. People are finding themselves out of work and need a little escape from the reality around them. Dungeons & Dragons is seeing a rise of new players, ready for epic adventures, during the quarantine.
Recently, I sought out a game group using Roll 20 and was lucky enough to be accepted. Our group consists of newer players on the West Coast, Canada, and even Greece. Each one had heard about Dungeons & Dragons, but their actual experience with the game varied.
Starting Off On The Right Foot
With new players looking for games daily to try out, we’re seeing a strong mixing of backgrounds going into these campaigns. Players with years of experience may find themselves in a brand new Dungeon Master’s first online game experience. That was the case with our game, the DM shared with me that he’d played with his friends a few times, but wanted to use this opportunity to become better at managing campaigns. If you’re a veteran player, I’d highly recommend to always be encouraging and find ways to aid in the story progression so people never feel like they’ve hit a dead end. Players keep things interesting and being a support figure in a group will help your new friends get excited about the adventure.
Where’s The DM?
Everyone’s schedules can be a bit conflicting at the moment as people are unsure about their jobs and other responsibilities. In our game, we ended up losing our initial Dungeon Master due to family obligations. There was a bit of chatter of what would happen with our group. Honestly, online or in real life, finding a group of fun players who all get along can be challenging. This being one of their first experiences with the game system I didn’t want the work and thought they put into their first characters to have been wasted, so I volunteered to keep the game going right where the other DM left-the group’s first monster-slaying quest.
Making Something Your Own
I’ve never been a fan of trying to continue someone else’s game, but the campaign was so early and the players had already weaved their backgrounds into the provided history. The two short sessions we had played were all roleplay with the heroes learning about the brutal king and a group of rebels who had invited them to join. Despite a flashy show of power and inviting them, we still had to prove ourselves by slaying a monster near a town three days away from our location and then ambush a figurehead of the empire. The group consists of three loners, a good guy knight type, and a homebrew troll in control of a clan of monsters-3 orcs, 3 goblins, and 2 trolls from the actual monster manual (I already know what you’re thinking.)
I didn’t think a simple monster slaying and political assassination would bring the group together in a cohesive manner, so I progressed the story along with a twist. A day before the players were to reach the town, they came across a gruesome scene as a Displacer Beast was attacking a carriage. They had all made up in their minds, based on what the previous DM described, that they were going to have a chance to fight one. So they did, each player got two rounds against it before the small monster clan took care of it. No knocked out level one players, just a few goblins eliminated.
Now The Twist
Searching the carriage the heroes discovered a young boy inside. Turned out, the woman attacked by the Displacer Beast had been the queen taking her son to the Eladrin Kingdom. Unknown to anyone outside the royal court, the king had passed only a week ago making the eight-year-old the newly crowned king. The players were at a loss on what course of action to take. The young king was obviously spoiled and belligerent, but the players looked beyond all of that and used real-world logic to understand his current situation. They discarded their plans to join a shadowy rebellion, and instead, escort the young king to the elves where his mother believed he would be safe.
Play The Hero
Using the child king as a plot device proved successful as players were now focused on working together to protect something versus ready to go off and do their own thing. No matter how anti-heroic a character may be, when given the opportunity new players usually want to be a hero. They asked me early on if alignment meant anything to the game and I explained it was sort of a way players challenged themselves to take on different aspects of characters. A veteran player might’ve found several other courses of action to take in the same situation, but despite whatever their alignments were, they all acted heroically with good intentions.
So Much Potential
There’s no doubt in my mind this is a great group of people who are going to enjoy this campaign. It’s my hope I can help them become good players and remember this as one of their fondest of many epic adventures I’m sure they’ll play. If you’re looking for fresh ideas to add to your own campaign, be sure to check out Deadly Garden by Paige Connelly