Saturday, June 12, 2010

Let's Geek Out on Athas

Every week, Wizards of the Coast sponsors a night of Dungeons and Dragons at your local gaming store. They provide the the campaign and the characters, the store supplies the DM, and you bring your dice, some snacks, and all the enthusiasm you can cram into your exoskeleton. What's not to love?

I didn't play in the previous D&D Encounters "season," because the setting didn't feel sun-bleached and barbaric enough for me. Well, no worries there, because this current season is set in Dark Sun, D&D's barbaric sand world, with the look designed by none other than BROM:

I'd always been intrigued by the Dark Sun setting, but somehow the fact that my favorite fantasy artist was the principal designer of the look of the setting had escaped my notice until I started looking into it in preparation for D&D Encounters.

So my friend Kage and I headed over to Eudemonia, one of our local gaming stores, and sat down. I was almost late since I had to get dinner after work, so I ended up devouring my ramen at an alarming speed and leaving my wife at the ramen place to dash over to the game store.

I made it just in time, as in a few more minutes they would have given my spot to someone else. As it was, they had to turn away almost as many players as got to play. I heard that they were hoping to find a second DM for the next week so that more people could play.

I got to play my character of choice, Shikirr, a Thri-Kreen. Now I'm not going to say that I've wanted to play a Thri-Kreen since I saw a Thri-Kreen card in our collection of AD&D 2nd Edition trading cards, but if I did say that, it wouldn't be inaccurate.

I don't know how you spent your past Wednesday, but I spent it as a psionic, four-armed mantis-person. Kyle played as a Tiefling psionicist, while I was technically a Battlemind. This worked out very well, as I tanked the heavy hitters while Kyle brought the damage. Speaking of damage, our DM shone when it came time to describe the grisly deaths our enemies suffered. You'd think that psionic death would be pretty boring, as essentially you kill the other person's mind, but our DM described with relish how blood flowed from our surprised enemies' noses, mouths, and ears. Disgusting. I love it.

My dice rolling left something to be desired, as only one attack hit, but Kage seemingly could do no wrong. When the encounter started, none of our enemies had had their heads popped by psionics before. Kage made sure that, by the time the encounter ended, this was no longer the case. Though I only landed one attack, it was an amplified attack that both did a lot of damage and blinded my opponent. The DM described how I swung my weapon in front of my enemy's eyes, and the enemy just started laughing when the wind of my attack popped his eyeballs. Yuss.

I thought that Wizards did a great job of coming up with a scenario that threw together players who had never gamed before and got them to join up. Just like the players, some of the characters did not know each other and some did. The whole party got thrown together when we were the only survivors of a mysterious shower of obsidian boulders. The players all had name cards with their character's portrait and name, which made it easy to remember who was playing who and broke the ice. We had no choice but to rely on each other, and we found ourselves grabbing supplies as we came under attack from opportunistic lizard people.

The lizard people had the drop on us and were about to be reinforced, so we had to grab supplies as the fight soon went from "kill the lizard people" to "escape with our lives." To complicate things, we were in the middle of a vicious sandstorm that did not bother the lizard people but slowly chipped away at our health whenever we were out in the open, giving us another reason to escape as soon as possible.

The players were almost all completely chill and easy to play with, and the DM brought us all together with enthusiasm. He plowed right into things, minimizing the amount of social interaction we nerds had to do before we got down to doing what we do best: throwing dice and geeking out.

My only complaint was that Wizards of the Coast really dropped the ball on the character sheets. They were plagued with typos, the character art did not match the character descriptions, and from what I've read, the stats were also calculated wrong. But to be honest, these were small gripes and did not take away from my enjoyment of the evening.

In case you're not already insanely jealous, I got some cool loot.

It's a foam drink koozie, and reads as follows:

Athasian Sleeve of Refreshment Level 1
This obsidian-black sheath fits snugly around your favorite drink, shielding it from the warming effects common to the Sea of Silt, the Ivory Triangle, and your gaming table.

Wondrous ItemD&D Encounters
Property: When fitted around a standard can or bottle, this insulating koozie protects your hand from suffering any ill effects that may be caused by holding a frosty beverage, while keeping your drink refreshingly cold.
Special: You can probably get away with not using a coaster.
TM & © 2010 Wizards of the Coast, LLC.

Totally awesome. See you in Athas!

1 comment:

bluefish said...

Just because you can get away with not using a coaster doesn't mean you should.

Also, next time, you should spend the whole session squinting your eyes and quivering a little, and then, when you roll your dice, shout "BOOM!"