The Box Is Red Because There Will Be Blood

Psyga 315

Part 1: Starter

Hello, everyone. Psyga here again. I know I’ve just ended my second D&D Liveblog a few days to a week ago (as of 1/13/13) but I felt like doing this. See, if you have been keeping track of my previous liveblogs, the system I used was somewhere close to 3.5. For this liveblog, I’m jumping an edition and playing what some call 4.5, or Essentials as the officials call it. Instead of playing a made up story, I’m going for the story seen in the starter set of Dungeons and Dragons for this very edition, the Red Box.

Another departure from my D&D Liveblogs is that I’ll recap it like I do my other Liveblogs as opposed to a narrative. I will put up the dice rolls though, because I like them. So, let’s open the Red Box and see what adventure we have inside...

Our story begins with our main hero being escorted to Fallcrest by a Dwarven Merchant for reasons the player will answer themselves. They give some good examples, but I personally think that he’s being sent to get executed. Suddenly Goblins. Lots of them. The game then asks you what the hero does. Does he swing a sword at the goblins? Does he cast a magic spell to either heal the merchant or hurt the goblins? Or does he sneak and backstab the goblins? This is actually how you determine your class, and I find that really interesting.

The book actually tells its own story and plays it in the style of a Choose Your Own Adventure sort of game, with different options of how to do stuff. What do I mean? Well, later on, in the middle of the hero’s first battle, you get to roll the dice for any actions he would do. Attack? Roll a die. Defend? Roll a die. Spell? Dice time. The book will say what happens if you roll over or under your target number in the “if you roll [x] or better, go to [y]” sort of way. It’s this sort of gameplay style that I was talking about in the “Let’s Learn About D&D” liveblog, especially since it actually walks you through creating your character. It addresses my two major flaws with the webpage and makes it fun.

Asides from the four options clearly detailed to say “if you want to be this class, go here”, there’s another option which is basically run and hide. If you actually take that option, the game will just slap your hand and go “no.”, then tell you to choose another option. Though it talks about how it’s a bad choice like so: “Being a coward isn’t heroic, you pussy! Go back and pick a better choice!” I know it’s standard for Choose Your Own Adventures to have the pages where it tells you “No. That’s not the right option!” and forces you to go back to the choices before you, but usually this kind of railroading is discouraged by lots of people. I would have had it so that the game just has the person hide... but the goblins find him/her anyway and force the fight that way. Give them an illusion that they’re off the rails rather than tell them to stick to it, y’know?

So the hero’s fight begins and it walks you through how to write up your character, telling you what stats your character already has midfight. It’s rather interesting. Basically they all do the same thing: Show off the major feature of the class, Eskimo nut kicking from the hero and goblins ensue, and finally a mysterious rider comes just as the goblins leave, seemingly pissed about their failure to steal the wagon. I actually thought the Rider saved the hero ala Obi Wan saving Luke from the Raiders. Then I thought how cool it would be for the Rider to join the party.

Anyways, after the fight, the game tells you about healing surges which probably would have saved my characters’ asses in the liveblogs (as would the Constitution Rank + certain number = Health rule) and after that, the dwarf gives you a sidequest (great. Using CRPG terms for a TRPG game. This will end well.) to go recover his lost box that was stolen by the goblins. When I first read this, I actually had a list of priorities for my character, top one being get to Fallcrest to meet up with someone. However, when I decided to get back into the wagon, the game insists I take the quest. When I refuse, the game just slaps my wrist and barks “No!” again, saying how this is a hook I should bite on, and uses the “you’re supposed to be a hero!” excuse back at the beginning.

This is actually where the alignment system kicks in. If you were stubborn with the merchant or only told him you’ll do the quest if he forks up the money, then the alignment is “Unaligned”. If you accept the man’s offer out of the sake of helping him, then the alignment is “Good”. Accepting the offer if just to bring the Goblins in For Great Justice nets you the “Lawful Good” alignment. The game also offers you the options of an “Evil” and “Chaotic Evil” alignment as well, but if you pick those, the game, you guessed it, slaps your wrist and barks “No!” Heck, they don’t even ask if you want to be a Chaotic Good or Lawful Evil character, though that’s mainly 4th Edition’s doing.

I do understand, however, where they’re going with this. They’re training whoever reads this, which is going to probably be people who are new to Dungeons and Dragons, to understand the basic methods and themes of D&D, which is meant to be a fantasy story with heroes in it. If you are a coward, you can’t really be considered a hero. If you refuse the requests to help someone in need, you can’t really be considered a hero. If you want to be a total dick to your friends, you can’t really be considered a hero. At this point, it’s not telling someone “don’t ruin the fun for everyone else!” but instead telling them “The point of this game is to be a hero, not a coward or a jerk.” And for that, I give kudos.

The game then works with you to write up a good chunk of your character sheet (your skills and attributes) to play out the next phase, which is using your skills to achieve certain tasks. Basically, you have two quests to take, though they both lead you to the same end: Find the rider and who he is, or get the box. Your beginning choices for this phase is to look at the rider’s horse tracks, try and find where the goblins went off to, or go Batman and interrogate a dying goblin.

My personal advice is to go with the latter, since there’s no chance of you triggering an attack from the goblins unless you manage to botch up the roll and kill the dying goblin (you need to heal him to interrogate him), and you manage to find out the rider’s identity. The rider’s name is Malareth, and to my initial disappointment, he’s the guy who sent the Goblins in the first place (Okay, it’s really a bugbear named Kurrash, but he takes orders from Malareth as well) and you have the option to Pet the Dog by healing the Goblin if you did a successful Diplomacy check.

After that, you fill out more of your sheet, which now details all the benefits your race and class give you, as well as picking out a feat and getting items. And now, we begin the battle. Our hero, a Human Fighter named Hugh Mann, is now out in the caves. Even though the battle hasn’t started, I do have to do the initiative rolls

  • Goblins: 23
  • Hugh: 4

The Goblins have no idea that Hugh is like, right outside their cave, so they vege a bit, though one of them does try to make a spot check, because hey, it’s Dungeons and Dragons, you always need to do a spot check. Huh? They’re calling it Perception now? Strange.

[Skill Challenge: Hugh’s Stealth (+1 in Dex) Vs. Goblin’s Perception (+2 in Perception). Roll... Hugh: 18, Goblin: 5]

Aaaaand he doesn’t spot him. He just resumes his smoking of the goblin pot, I assume. Then our hero just barges in and screams his head off about “blood for the blood god” or whatever, and the Goblins are like “WTF!? Dude’s invading our home!” and begin to attack. Two of them try to stab him.

[Attack Roll: Short Sword (+6) Vs. AC (17). Roll... 21] [Damage is an automatic 4]

[Attack Roll: Short Sword (+6) Vs. AC (17). Roll... 13]

And one hits our hero, knocking him to thirty HP. The other two reach up to him and do the same thing.

[Attack Roll: Short Sword (+6) Vs. AC (17). Roll... 10]

[Attack Roll: Short Sword (+6) Vs. AC (17). Roll... 25] [Damage is an automatic 4]

And he gets stabbed again. But now it’s Hugh’s turn, and Hugh will happily impale his sword into the first goblin he sees.

[Attack Roll: Greatsword (+6) Vs. AC (15). Roll... 17] [Goblin is automatically dead due to being minion]

And he murders him. Which causes the others to go all “RAEG!” and try to kill him.

[Attack Roll: Short Sword (+6) Vs. AC (17). Roll... 18]

[Attack Roll: Short Sword (+6) Vs. AC (17). Roll... 10]

[Attack Roll: Short Sword (+6) Vs. AC (17). Roll... 22]

And our hero is down two. I can see how this is gonna end now. Like two Eskimos kicking each other in the nuts, this is just gonna be how long until they all drop dead, so I decided to roll Hugh’s next three rolls and see if he can get them all dead in a single swing. And you know what? He did.

The game, however, tells us that I should get three to four other people to play the game, one of them being the GM. However, as you guys may know, I tend to play the game by playing as all the characters, to provide a liveblog experience. So, here’s our characters for this adventure:

Will the game end in a Total Party Kill? Find out next time!