Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tabletop Tuesday! D&D, Speed Dating Style



Greetings and welcome to another Tabletop Tuesday! I have a fun post topic for today: what happens when you combine the idea behind speed dating with tabletop gaming!

My favorite DM organized a mixer for the D&D players at our local comic store. Since this past spring, Wednesday night D&D has really grown in popularity at the store. There are currently four regular Adventurers League groups, each with between 4 and 7 players. This mixer let us break away from our usual groups and play with a bunch of different people and DMs.



A mixer like this is a great way for a store (or library, or rec center) to drum up interest in D&D and get some new players involved. Hit the jump to read more about this event!

The goal of this round-robin style event was to spend a day playing D&D with as many different players and DMs as possible, in order to see what you like in a DM and player group, meet some new people, or even play for the first time! It was a low-key environment, with players of all styles and experience levels welcome. I met some new university students as well as some players who have been gaming at the store for years, who I never had to chance to meet personally before.



For these games we played the first Expedition in the newest Season of the D&D Adventurers League, Rage of Demons. This adventure, called Harried in Hillsfar, consists of five mini-adventures and was a perfect choice for this event. Each mini-adventure only took about 60-90 minutes to complete, and was simple enough that the various group combinations could power through the combat without getting overwhelmed.

Harried in Hillsfar was designed for character levels 1-4, and optimized for level 1 characters. To keep the groups on even footing, and to account for the fact that most of the store's Wednesday night D&D crowd plays characters over level 5, everyone was asked to create a fresh level 1 for this event.

The mixer began with an hour-long character creation walk-through. This gave new players the chance to arrive early and make their own characters under the supervision of more experienced players and DMs. There was also a selection of pre-generated characters for people to choose from if they preferred not to make a character, or didn't have time. Pre-generated characters are a great way to introduce new players to the game mechanics, and can be customized by the players - my own level 5 Halfling Rogue was inspired by a Halfling Rogue I played during a D&D demo at SDCC in 2014!

I decided to make my character at home during the week, and tried playing a Dwarf Fighter for the first time. She was a lot of fun to play, and did a lot of damage with her battle axe. I developed the initial idea and backstory for this character when I first started playing D&D in the spring, and even had a miniature painted and ready to use!



Once the character creation walk-through was over, everyone was given a schedule. We had four tables with DMs, and each round the DMs all ran the same part of the adventure. Round one was "The Birth," which had us fighting demon goats. Once that was finished, everyone moved on to their round two table, where we all played "The Growth," a short adventure where we aided a struggling beet farmer. And so on, for four rounds.

By doing it this way, everyone was running an adventure of the same length at the same time, with the same base rewards (XP, gold, new weapons), and the DMs got to play a different adventure each round too, keeping it interesting for them since they got to follow the overarching storyline instead of rehashing the same adventure for four different groups.

Over the four mini-adventures, I got to play with four DMs, two of which I had never played with before. I also got to play with five players I had never grouped with before, three of which were brand new to the game. We had a pretty good turnout - I counted a minimum of 20 people at the event, and I know a few had to leave early that I missed. This number was perfect, since the games were rarely over 4-5 players.

Dice make great improvised character tokens!

In addition to the first four mini-adventures, we took an hour to have lunch and socialize. Some people packed lunches, while others ordered in pizza. This was a time for people to chat and get to know each other, without derailing their adventure or making their group run longer than the others during a round.

The day finished with some players and DMs staying on to play the fifth mini-adventure. We had enough people for two tables of seven players each. While it was mostly the regular Wednesday night players who stuck around for this, we split ourselves into different groups than usual, which made it a lot of fun. I got to play this round with players from my weekend group, and a few who I hadn't played with in a month or two, so this round was my favorite. And somehow all of us girls (all four of us!) ended up at this table together! I've never been in a game with more than one other female player before, let alone the majority of players!





Everyone agreed, the mixer was a success. I really enjoyed this event, and there has already been talk of doing another one when the next Adventurers League season releases this winter. These mini-adventures are perfect for this kind of event, and it was a great chance to meet new people and learn more about different DMing styles.



I know this blog series has been really heavy on the tabletop RPGs this summer, especially D&D, but next week I will be writing about some new board and card games. On the Fall schedule is Sushi Go, Munchkin, a month of zombie-themed games for Halloween, and miniatures month in November. As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, leave them below, and until next time, GAME ON!

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