So, the first day of the Tweetup Tour was in Glasgow, a 6 hour express coach journey from Leeds. It meant an early’ish start from Otley in order to get to Leeds and then hang about in Leeds waiting. The coach ride itself can be divided into 2 sections – the up and down, tight corners of the coach going from Leeds to the M6 via country roads, and then the smooth quick progress up the M6 to Glasgow. As someone who gets travel sick, the first part of that journey was not fun!
My coach got in on time, and as this wasn’t my first time in Glasgow, I had a good idea where I was going. I got to the venue and found it to be a dark cavernous mass of stairs and walkways, with a crazily hot interior atmosphere… Even with big blower fans, there was little impact on the air. I met up with 5 out of the 7 players, and we got some food – I was in scotland so it would have been rude not to have Haggis Neeps and Tatties… Of the 5 players, I knew Chris from previous tweetups, Tamsyn vaguely through twitter, and Ryan vaguely through twitter.
Tamsyn can actually be blamed for the whole Tweetup On tour thing. When my eyesight took a turn for the worse and it was clear I wouldn’t be able to do the Hadrians Wall walk, I tweeted to see if anyone was interested in me coming up for a game. Tamsyn was one of the first to reply, suggesting I go up to Glasgow and run D&D Next for her group. I love Glasgow, and if i’d not been asked to go up there, who knows, I might have just knocked the idea on its head.
With all the groups I visited I gave them multiple options – D&D Next, D&D 4 – with the 3d lair assault, D&D 4e – backstabbing Kalarels Revenge goodness, Star Wars Edge of the Empire… they asked for Next, and I did warn them that D&D Next would require something homebrew since all the Next adventures I had were due to be sold by WotC in the coming months. I opted to run something on the Isle of Dread, a simple exploration to find the ruins of Thanaclan. My original plan was to have them explore Farshore and choose from a variety of guides – each would come with a specific encounter – a hydra, a kraken etc Unfortunately, work got in the way, and these guides just didn’t get written. The adventure I planned had them going from Farshore in the opposite way to other adventurers, climbing a waterfall, trekking through the jungle, being attacked by a t-rex, finding the sacrificial caves beneath the volcano, finding the ruins of Thanaclan, and exploring the caverns beneath those ruins…
Mike Mearls has made a big fuss about the 3 pillars in D&D Next and how an adventure should have exploration, interaction and combat. We gamed for 3 hours and we did manage to fit all 3 pillars in, though I’m beginning to think that Next has a massive issue with exploration… The stuck to the original adventure plan I had, though when it became clear we were running out of time, I threw an extra combat rather than have them fully explore the caverns.
We had 2 combats – the first started with a surprise attack from the T-Rex, chomping down on the guide. I used the Allosaurus stats from the public packet, and the encounter was over quickly thanks to divine ‘powers’ adding serious damage to the attacks. The second fight was with 16 troglodytes, a leader, and 3 pet giant lizards. I’d not printed the troglodytes page, so just used lizardmen stats. This combat was slow, but not particularly deadly.
On the whole, I think the group liked D&D Next. There were conflicting opinions around the table as to whether healing allowed too much hp regain, and that fights seem swingy they are either quick or drawn out. From my side of the DM’s screen (not that I used one), I think theres a major issue in Next where you can burn seriously powerful resources while exploring without worry, because you know you are going to be resting… A combat represent 5 or so minutes of intensive activity and use a quarter of your resource, but while exploring you might take 6 hours to hack through a forest without any loss of resources. That, from my point of view is seriously imbalanced.
We left the encounter on a cliffhanger, they’d found the ruins of thanaclan, and mapped the route which is what they were being paid to do, but they’d also sent the shapechanged druid ahead to see what was in the caverns below… deep guano deposits, but with tracks in them…