Session 0.5 & character creation.

My preferred number of players is six, not because I think six is a good number to have at the table, but because with six players it is likely that each week I will have 4+ players (as people cancel for other life commitments).I allow my players to create a character from any source book, and encourage imaginative backstory or homebrew tweaks. As a player I have always wanted to run a necromancer (shock!) and the 5e source books just arent up to scratch. 3.5e had some really good material, especially in books such as The Libris Mortis, but I’ve had very little luck with DMs allowing me to use it in a 5e game. I think that variety enriches the game and so, after I’ve checked it is balanced, I let my players have free(ish) reign. With their blinkers off, and the wind in their mane, my players created the following motley crew.

The Werk – Warforged – Cleric of the Forge.
A thousand year old construct made by a reclusive gnome hidden away in the jungle of Chult. He heard the voice of Gond, Lord of the Forge, and now travels the land trying to understand life and spread invention wherever he goes.

Felix – Human – Fighter (medic).
A child soldier who grew in to a grizzled war veteran and medic. Capable with a sword and a scalpel, she cuts her enemies down and sews her allies back up again.

Calwen – Half elf – Bard.
A bard with a tragic past. His scars are a constant reminder of the pain those closest to you can cause. With the god of suffering guiding his footsteps, he travels the land helping those who most need it.

Goblin – Gnome – Wizard.
Tired of the countless wars he fought with his trusted retinue, it was not until they were hired by an Empress, and offered a life of comfort and gold, that Goblin decided to leave his friends and find his own way in the world.

Kallista – Tiefling (gnome) – Monk.
A gnome with cursed blood, her pale blue skin and black horns set her apart from her kin. Alone in the world she focused on her monastic studies to master The Way of the Long Death and become a fearsome killer.

Rhys – Half Elf – Wizard.
The bastard son of a powerful lord he uses his wit and good looks to get by. Always looking over his shoulder for the assassin sent by his half-brother, now Lord of the lands he left so many years ago.

5,604 Miles and a New Campaign

I’ve recently moved continents, for a multitude of reasons, which I wont get in to here. The most important point is that before I moved, I checked that there was a gaming community in my new city. Lucky for me, there wasnt just a little community, but a booming group of like-minded nerds, and a selection of gaming cafe and hobby shops to get stuck in to!

As is common in most places there is an abundance of players, and only a small selection of DMs. Although I hoped I would have the chance to play in a game of D&D, I am more than happy to don the paper crown of Dungeon Master and invite people in to the dark recesses of my imagination. I’ll likely be running a few different games while I’m here, but I will mostly be writing about one main game.

We have so far had a session 0.5, and session 1 proper, with five and six players attending. I like to run an enclosed and linear adventure when starting a new campaign, especially with a new group, so that options are limited, and everyone can get used to each other, my style of DMing, and test out their characters.

I stumbled across an adventure called The Mad Manor of Astabar, by David Dudka, which served this need quite well. I have since played through it several times with different groups, and each time I have moulded it and changed it to enrich the story and make it more of a horror theme. It is a fairly typical haunted house setup, and the original can be found here.

I’m not going to refer to the original when describing the adventure and what the players get up to, but I still want to give credit to David for his wonderful work.

A beginning of sorts.

Where to start? Maybe the best place to start is with a little history.

I have a memory, its a couple of images, that may or may not be true, but they serve as a reminder of how my love of horror began. The first is full of sunshine, I’m walking along the road leading from my childhood home, to another house. I’m holding someones hand, and although I cant see her, I know its the hand of my babysitter, I am 4, maybe 5 years old. The second memory is standing in her living room, she is off to my left somewhere, I think in the kitchen, and I am standing in the living room looking at a dark cabinet with a glass front. Inside the cabinet is a selection of VHS (this would have been 1991 or 1992, she’s not a hipster, hipster hasnt even been invened yet), I spy with my childs eye, a VHS with a red haired clown on it. The title just says ‘IT’ and it has a red 18 certificate. My memory images end there, but I know after some begging and promising that I wouldnt be scared, my babysitter let me watch ‘IT’.

I was terrified, and I’m not sure I made it through the movie, I’m also pretty sure that I had to have an adult nearby whenever I used the toilet from fear that Pennywise would reach up through the pipes and grab me.

The terror eventually subsided, and I wanted to watch ‘IT’ again, and any other horror movie I could get my little chubby hands on. Luckily my parents were pretty liberal, and seeing that I enjoyed the films, I was given freedom to choose what I wanted from Blockbusters (retro!).

That love of horror translated in to the films I watched, the books I read (the first book I bought with my pocket money was Clive Barker’s ‘Books of Blood’), the art I created. It also crept in to a game I’ve been playing for the past 18 years, Dungeons and Dragons.

I am the Dungeon Master of a game I run with seven guys, and each week they plunge headfirst in to my imagination. They are routinely horrified by the things they encounter, and these are usually the cleaned up, and wiped down versions of whats lurking in my head.

This is going to be a place where I talk about my weekly prep, my ideas and thoughts of how I take horror aspects from film, book, folklore, and myth and bring it alive at the table.