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Dungeons and/or Dragons

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
If you have a local game store around, you could check their social media to see if they're hosting anything. Obviously in-person might be difficult-to-impossible right now, but my local ones often have postings for groups trying to start online stuff. But what Patrick says is right - it's really best to start off with people you know.

I got pretty lucky in that my original D&D campaign I started in 2011 attracted a group of people who I didn't know, but quickly became friends with. It doesn't always go that way, though.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
How does one find a Dungeons and/or Dragons game? I was looking at the listings at roll20 and got extremely overwhelmed. Also... pay to play? That's just. Wow. I guess good(?) DMs are hard enough to find that they're marketable...
I just ran across some tips for finding groups: Playing RPGs Online 101. Basically, check out discords for games or styles that you're interested in and find groups there after getting to know folks. Sounds like good advice to me!
 

Mokrap of Croton

(he/him/his)
I haven't played in quite a while, but just had a Roll20 session this past Friday and it was a blast! It's people I know in real life already (members of my rugby club), so that made it a little smoother. We're running The Curse of Strahd, which I know nothing about and have avoided any spoilers for. I'm a dwarven cleric, which is my go-to character type. One of the guys has never played D&D, tabletop or virtual, so it's been fun getting him immersed in it.

Our first session was set up really just to make sure everyone had their characters worked out and deal with technical issues ("Hello? Can y'all hear me? Ok, who else is getting that echo?" ad nauseum). We managed to get that all done and still had some time for actual play, which was rad. It's been a long time since I had a level one character and I totally forgot how goddamn terrifying the first few fights can be! There is a huge difference between the sort of beating you can take at level 1 versus level 2!
 

Mokrap of Croton

(he/him/his)
I have to say, I feel like a fraud, though. The spirit of D&D is talking forever about getting a game going. Actually playing it is for POSERS
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I haven't played in quite a while, but just had a Roll20 session this past Friday and it was a blast! It's people I know in real life already (members of my rugby club), so that made it a little smoother. We're running The Curse of Strahd, which I know nothing about and have avoided any spoilers for. I'm a dwarven cleric, which is my go-to character type. One of the guys has never played D&D, tabletop or virtual, so it's been fun getting him immersed in it.

Our first session was set up really just to make sure everyone had their characters worked out and deal with technical issues ("Hello? Can y'all hear me? Ok, who else is getting that echo?" ad nauseum). We managed to get that all done and still had some time for actual play, which was rad. It's been a long time since I had a level one character and I totally forgot how goddamn terrifying the first few fights can be! There is a huge difference between the sort of beating you can take at level 1 versus level 2!

I've been running Curse of Strahd for a group of TTers since April or so. Please post your impressions! I'm always interested to hear how things shake out for other groups. It's a very open-ended module.

For example, how did the campaign actually begin for your group? There are a number of ways to introduce Barovia.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
COS is fun! I ran Death House as a Halloween treat for the campaign we were running a few years ago, and then a year later I decided to run a big chunk of COS as a Halloween sequel. For the second part, the characters started on the west end of the map and wandered through various encounters for a while. I think I had one of the NPCs point the characters in directions based on Tarokka cards. They eventually had a showdown with Strahd
on something or other hill? I don't remember the specifics, but it was a great fight and they did as well as they could at that point in the adventure. I believe they had access to Baba Yaga's flying skull vehicle. They "won," but of course his spirit returned to his castle.
I had plans to run the entire castle portion for Halloween the next year, but our campaign had broken up by then.
 
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Mokrap of Croton

(he/him/his)
Ours started with everyone hanging out in a tavern when a messenger burst in, bought everyone a round, and then gave us a letter from the Burgmaster of Barovia begging us for help with a curse/wound of some sort. Promised to make us rich if we helped him. Didn't give us too many details beyond that.
We struck out walking west, have made it to some huge ancient gate. I was able to use stonecunning to figure out that it's hundreds of years old and neglected. We are being followed by a mysterious fog. We ran across a corpse by the road bearing a letter similar to ours, but sliiiiiightly differently worded and got jumped by some wolves. Ended there, as we'd spent most of the sesh getting set up.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
So I followed through on what I said before and abandoned my warforged zealot barbarian because, though I liked the character, the class was so boring to play. Rage, reckless attack, repeat. One time I grabbed a floating creature from the ceiling and body-slammed it to the ground, and the strength/athletics advantage was pretty great for that, but like...even then, there just weren't that many options. So 6.Crunch.34.Fist abandoned the god he'd picked out of a library book just a few months ago and decided to take up fishing instead.

So now I'm playing Gark, a Tortle drakewarden ranger, strength-based with sword&shield, and already I'm preferring the variety of decisions and moving pieces I have available to me. One, my bonus action is to command my drake to attack, or to use e.g. a spell - so I used searing smite! I actually didn't take Hunter's Mark because of the new Favored Foe thing, but I could also totally stack them... And then regardless of whether it attacks or not, my drake can also use its reaction to add damage when I (or another ally!) land a hit near it, so if I miss my attack I have a reason to pay attention to everyone else's turns. And playing with all that was just in a single random encounter on our way to the next story mission, even though my drake died. So yeah, I'm liking it so far!
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Ours started with everyone hanging out in a tavern when a messenger burst in, bought everyone a round, and then gave us a letter from the Burgmaster of Barovia begging us for help with a curse/wound of some sort. Promised to make us rich if we helped him. Didn't give us too many details beyond that.
We struck out walking west, have made it to some huge ancient gate. I was able to use stonecunning to figure out that it's hundreds of years old and neglected. We are being followed by a mysterious fog. We ran across a corpse by the road bearing a letter similar to ours, but sliiiiiightly differently worded and got jumped by some wolves. Ended there, as we'd spent most of the sesh getting set up.

Oh cool, cool, yeah, this is just scratching the surface. I'll be interested to see where your DM decides to guide you next from here. There's a fairly clear spot for first-levels to go in the module, but your DM may switch things up or just let you decide where to go. Good luck! Keep us posted!
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Yeah, Barovia is pretty open, and things can play out differently based on where your party goes.

Paul - that Drakewarden sounds fun. I've been looking at a Melee Swarmkeeper (flavored either as air spirits, or a curse like the one in princess Mononoke), using the new alternative features and Shillelagh through Druidic Warrior. Of course, I just started my Artillerist and we already have a Ranger in the party, so it'll be a long time before I get a chance to try it out. Rangers are tons of fun though.

Oh, and I figured out a good way to move the party along a bit once I take over as DM: I'm going to have the boss that they ignored ambush them in town, with the Perytons that they ran away from and a couple of fighters from the local arena as allies. Basically, everything that they've been dragging their feet on is going to team up and come to them. The boss is going to bribe the Dwarf guards to stay out of town when he attacks, so I think they'll be surprised by a big boss fight in town to start the session off. They should be ready to gain another level by then, and it'll get the campaign moving a bit faster.
 

Mommi

Miss or be made.
(She/Her)
How does one find a Dungeons and/or Dragons game? I was looking at the listings at roll20 and got extremely overwhelmed. Also... pay to play? That's just. Wow. I guess good(?) DMs are hard enough to find that they're marketable...
My group is on 4pm Sundays now, I remember it didn't work for you when we were doing it evenings or Saturdays. You're always welcome to join.
 

clarice

bebadosamba
(sorry for my english skills)

When we played Curse Of Strahd, we were led to Barovia trying to escape from wolves. Pretty classic, huh? Our first stop was Barovia (the city), where mostly we chatted with NPCs and learned about the place. There were two combat encounters: one happened when
the group decided what to do with the priest's son, who turned into a vampire: some tried to help him to escape, others tried to kill him. In the end, he was killed; and when we returned later to Barovia the priest had killed himself because of it - pretty bleak stuff.
In the other combat encounter we
met and protected Irene and her brother from a zombie attack where they were mourning their father or something like that. Later her brother asked us to guide Irene to a safe place, and that's why we left Barovia after exploring the city (we were looking for ways to escape from Barovia and all of that). Four notable NPC encounters were; eating delicious alucinogenous buns from an old lady from a certain Mill, talking with a lady about her missing daughter, our first encounter with a Vistani in the tavern and the angry shopkeeper who tried to sell us a canteel of water for 100 PO.

Anyway, i enjoyed Curse of Strahd a lot. After we left Barovia,
we had an encounter with travelling NPCs, which were travelling without weapons. We chatted with them, we traded travelling tips, and when we parted ways, the dungeon master said "and then the werewolves nodded some sort of goodbye and left". Then there was a silence and everyone was... WAIT WHAAAAT Haha, it was fun

But i've came here to actually ask folks for a recommendation! The only RPG i've played my entire life is D&D. Since the covid pandemy, we started playing online and, since we had more free time, we played a lot (272 hours in roll20 and counting). I'll DM the next adventure; i'm thinking if i should try other system. Does anybody recommend a RPG for a group that only played D&D and like it a lot but maybe it would be nice to play other stuff for variety's sake?
 

Nich

stuck in baby prison
(he/him)
But i've came here to actually ask folks for a recommendation! The only RPG i've played my entire life is D&D. Since the covid pandemy, we started playing online and, since we had more free time, we played a lot (272 hours in roll20 and counting). I'll DM the next adventure; i'm thinking if i should try other system. Does anybody recommend a RPG for a group that only played D&D and like it a lot but maybe it would be nice to play other stuff for variety's sake?

There are so many other cool RPGs out there that it's hard to answer this without narrowing it down a bit. What kind of thing is your group interested in doing? Ghibli-style pastoral adventure? Tactical mecha combat? Something more cyberpunk? Whatever it is, there's probably a neat RPG tailored to delivering that experience, so find out what they want and we can help you identify some choices.
 

clarice

bebadosamba
So far, i'm thinking of doing a 'medieval fantasy murder mystery', but i might change the 'medieval fantasy' part.

Edit:
(In our group, we have a DM rotation - since it takes more time to prepare stuff - and the setting is left to the DM. As far as group goes, we like to talk with NPCs and the occasional combat, but we're not into dungeon crawling. And i'm still thinking about my possibilities)
 
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periodical

asleep at the wheel
(he/him)
I really like the Lasers and Feelings system, which can easily be adapted to any setting if you can create a simple skill dichotomy (Words and Fists, Magic and Muscle, etc.)


We also did a Call of Cthulu one-shot and it was a pretty smooth experience for a group that mostly has only 5e experience.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
My favorite non-DND rpg is Blades in the Dark. It would be a great system for a murder mystery. It does take some work up front to learn the system though.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
(sorry for my english skills)

When we played Curse Of Strahd, we were led to Barovia trying to escape from wolves. Pretty classic, huh? Our first stop was Barovia (the city), where mostly we chatted with NPCs and learned about the place. There were two combat encounters: one happened when
the group decided what to do with the priest's son, who turned into a vampire: some tried to help him to escape, others tried to kill him. In the end, he was killed; and when we returned later to Barovia the priest had killed himself because of it - pretty bleak stuff.
In the other combat encounter we
met and protected Irene and her brother from a zombie attack where they were mourning their father or something like that. Later her brother asked us to guide Irene to a safe place, and that's why we left Barovia after exploring the city (we were looking for ways to escape from Barovia and all of that). Four notable NPC encounters were; eating delicious alucinogenous buns from an old lady from a certain Mill, talking with a lady about her missing daughter, our first encounter with a Vistani in the tavern and the angry shopkeeper who tried to sell us a canteel of water for 100 PO.

In Barovia (the town), my players

Killed the the priest's son, but managed to talk down the priest from killing himself by promising they would get him returned to life. They then proceeded to haul this dead vampire around with them around Barovia for literal months of sessions until they managed to find someone who could manage the restoration/resurrection spells needed to revive him successfully.

We also had encounters with

the old lady selling the "dream pies," which has led to an ongoing rivalry with the lady and her "sisters." The group is probably over halfway to a module endpoint by now and still have not managed to solve the dream pies problem.
 

clarice

bebadosamba
Thanks for the tips, everyone!

Re: Dracula.

Oh, that's fun! Carrying a dead vampire reminds me of the coffin in Dragon Quest, haha. In our version of it, the only NPC we found who knew ressurection was the Abott. When we needed to revive a character (my charater, actually - he was killed by Arrigal, when he tried to retrieve the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind), we went to ask him for help (and we were going to Kresk anyway because of Irene). He traded the ressurection spell for a wedding dress for his bride. Our rogue had ripped the wedding dress in the burgomaster mansion in Valáquia, so we thought "sheesh, sure it would be nice knowing the location of an intact wedding dress right now" while looking sideways to her, haha. But yeah, the encounter with the Abott was fun - pretending friendship until we had revived my character and the son of the mayor of Kresk and then unleashing fury in a very tense and hard fight. It was also fun that it took us a long time to reach Kresk, since the The Skeletal Rider made us do a detour when he almost killed our party. When we were strong enough, the dice once again made us meet The Skeletal Rider, and it was great destroying him. Gosh, Curse of Strahd is fun.

As far as the dream pies go, our group (well, most of it) had loved them and we tried to go to the Mill so we could have more. That did not went well. Haha
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Since I'm playing an Artillerist Artificer, I've been looking around for guides and advice on builds. I've only found a few things about Artificers, and not much specific to the Artillerist. So I've been looking over their class features and thinking about how I could build my character effectively. I realized that Artillerists are kind of a weird class since they're a half caster, but they basically play like a full caster. Instead of getting more spell slots, their features just make those limited spell slots better. Also, Artificers round their levels up when multiclassing. because of these weird features, they would get a huge boost from taking one level of Wizard at level 6. Since I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere, I wrote up a little guide:

Artillerist Artificers have access to a powerful spellcasting toolbox by level five, but they’re limited to two cantrips and six spell slots. And, they won’t get significant increases to either until levels nine and ten. Very few campaigns last beyond that, and most end earlier. Instead of waiting half of your campaign for a power boost that may never come, you should cut in line by taking one level of Wizard at level six.

This works so well because Artillerist subclass abilities all increase the effectiveness of spell slots and cantrips. The Eldritch Cannon is an efficient use of first level spell slots, and the Arcane Firearm increases the damage of every Artificer cantrip and spell. All they need is more cantrips and spell slots, and one level of Wizard gives them exactly that. Here are the upsides and downsides of this build:

+ Get three extra cantrips. You can now take ranged and melee damage cantrips without having to skip Mending and other utility options.

+ Recover a first level spell slot on a short rest via Arcane Recovery.

+ Because Artificers round up when multiclassing, get all higher level spell slots one level early. You’ll have an extra 2nd level spell slot at level six, and two 3rd level spell slots at level eight.

+ You learn and prepare 6 Wizard spells. These can cover low level staples and rituals, so you can prepare more interesting Artificer spells. you also get access to cantrips and spells like Minor Illusion, Mind Sliver, Find Familiar, and Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. And, you can transcribe additional found Wizard spells and you can cast rituals from your spellbook.

- All Artillerist features will be delayed by one level.

- Your Eldritch Cannon will have 5 fewer hp.

- One of your hit die will be a d6.

Getting Artillerist features late will be mitigated by having more cantrips and spell slots and getting higher level slots earlier. You’ll be able to upcast spells and will feel more free to use spell slots when you need them. With just one level of Wizard you will be much more versatile and powerful than a pure Artillerist, and you’ll have more fun in the levels that you’re most likely to play.

Our party is level 4 right now, so I should be able to test this out pretty soon.
 

Tangent

(she/her)
A close friend got me and my wife into D&D about a year ago, and we've got a small group that's been using roll20 to meet every other week. The friend who brought the group together DMed a campaign in a custom setting, and encouraged me to give DMing a try when theirs reached a nice stopping point.

I wanted to make it easy on myself, so I started out running the whole Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign for them. Over time I've been deviating further and further from the book and setting up hooks that I'm hoping can bridge the party to a longer adventure. Last Friday they reached level 5 and the end of everything that bears a resemblance to the published adventure, and I established the stakes for the larger campaign.

Trying to DM with only a tiny bit of experience as a player has been a steep learning curve, but I've also found that I really like it - probably more than I like being a player.

Some of the others in the group want to try their hand at DMing, and the person who started it wants to get back to that first campaign at some point, so the players might be rotating away from my setting for a bit. I wonder if anybody on the board here has advice about switching between different campaigns with a group. Is it best to just run a single campaign from beginning to end without any breaks? If the group has been away from your setting for 6+ months, what do you do as a DM to help them get back into the flow of things?
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Some of the others in the group want to try their hand at DMing, and the person who started it wants to get back to that first campaign at some point, so the players might be rotating away from my setting for a bit. I wonder if anybody on the board here has advice about switching between different campaigns with a group. Is it best to just run a single campaign from beginning to end without any breaks? If the group has been away from your setting for 6+ months, what do you do as a DM to help them get back into the flow of things?

In my experience, players forget the details of their last adventure not in six months, but in one week. I think as long as you can give them a somewhat detailed recap of what happened when you left off, and supply them with 1-3 good adventure hooks, you'll be good to go.
 

periodical

asleep at the wheel
(he/him)
Yea, my group swaps games a lot depending on who has time to prep, and keeping notes is really the key. I tend to write them as we play and share them a few days before we play that specific game again. It also helps that my games have very simple but bombastic plots, so they are easy to recall in full.

It often seems like the player and their connection to the character they play in the campaign is more important. One person always plays Monks with similar names, and can never remember what's going on in the world. The others, who make unique characters for the setting, are much better at getting back into it.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
It often seems like the player and their connection to the character they play in the campaign is more important. One person always plays Monks with similar names, and can never remember what's going on in the world. The others, who make unique characters for the setting, are much better at getting back into it.

This. This is probably outside the bounds of your requested advice at this point, but when I design stuff in my game worlds I generally assume it's for my enjoyment, and if a player ends up engaging with it, that's a bonus. It's valid for players to engage with your world as much or as little as they want to, so I never consider it a burden to remind them the name of the enemy they're supposed to be fighting for the 150th time. Of course there are subtle ways to help keep your players engaged, but these techniques come with time and experience.
 

Tangent

(she/her)
It also helps that my games have very simple but bombastic plots, so they are easy to recall in full.
The players in my campaign are all fans of the Bioware style of RPG video games, so "simple but bombastic" is what I've been trying to deliver for them. :)

My approach for dealing with forgetful players (I have one who forgets stuff while I'm in the middle of saying it) has been to start each session with a kind of "quest log" rundown. I go over major plot developments from the last session, and then run down whatever open leads the PCs are supposed to be aware of. It lets me subtly inform the players of what avenues I'm best prepared for in that session, and they don't feel like it is railroading because they are so used to a quest log in a video game.

This is probably outside the bounds of your requested advice at this point, but when I design stuff in my game worlds I generally assume it's for my enjoyment, and if a player ends up engaging with it, that's a bonus. It's valid for players to engage with your world as much or as little as they want to...
Yeah, I'm definitely seeing this. My group is all people who've been friends a long time, and a big part of the reason for doing D&D at all is to have an excuse to hang out when everybody has spouses and/or kids. The party for my campaign are a trio of tiefling sisters and at least 75% of the enjoyment they get out of any given session is bickering with one another like siblings. One of them who grew up with sisters occasionally stops to say "I've missed this." Another will screen-share random clips from Slayers whenever I put them in a scenario that is even remotely similar to something they remember.

As a DM it's great because there are giant stretches where they are just entertaining themselves and I'm off the hook.
 

periodical

asleep at the wheel
(he/him)
That sounds awesome! We're a mish-mash of childhood friends and later additions to the group, but at this point it's been 5 years of games so we're all doing the same joke routines anyway. There was a 3-week gap recently because of various life events, and when we finally got back on Skype we spent the first hour just making puns and talking about music.

I think that idea of creating a world you like and letting your players react to it is a perfect description. I will say we did a very fun event where we did a "fantasy draft" for world-building ideas, as a way to all invest in the creation of the campaign. Picks could be very broad or very specific, and the idea was that the campaign would be blank except for these concepts and their logical outcomes of interaction. Picks weren't always predetermined, so there's a fun element of improv to it as well. We then handed the list of concepts off to a DM and so far it's been amazing! This was our draft that I am taking on, in case it helps clarify the concept;

Round 1;
"Goblin War"
"Unicorns"
"Pest Exterminators"
"Fungal Landscape"
"Faiths are Polytheistic"
"Medieval Technology Level"

Round 2;
"Megafauna"
"Underwater Landscape"
"Age of Inquisition"
"Vegan Society"
"Legalized Sex Work"
"Jazz Music"

So far it's taking the shape of moonshinin' Gorkamorka-style submarine blockade runners on Zangarmarsh from WoW where they have to stay underwater to be not detected but the megafauna have a taste for alcohol, but I'm still tweaking it...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Yeah, a couple of my players are Not Another D&D Podcast superfans, and they will make references to it frequently. I'm not familiar with the podcast at all, so I just run with it and that's usually enough to get peals of laughter out of them. If the players are laughing and joking that's how you know you're doing the DM job right! (y)
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
We had a fun session last night. We were tasked with retrieving a Dwarven artifact from some Lizardfolk. Our patron says that she needs the artifacts to build some sort of anti-Dwarf weapon. We rolled well on insight so we're going along with it, even though it sounds very suspicious. We passed a few other Lizardfolk camps while trudging through the Chaos Swamp, but we knew that the artifact was in their main settlement. We did try talking to them in Draconic and giving them gifts, but they were super hostile towards us so we had a big fight anyway.

This time the enemies were much more reasonable for our level, and I had a lot of fun as an Artillerist. I was able to use Detect Magic early on in the session, I used my tinkering to infuse a wooden frog with the noise of waves as a gift for the lizardfolk, and I had my Homunculus drop a big rock on the far side of their settlement as a distraction right before the fight. I picked Force Ballista as my cannon option, so I was able to push lizardfolk in to the Druid's Moonbeam, which was really satisfying. I cast Bless (from the Fey Touched feat) and Cure Wounds during the fight. I had the option to cast Shield and I decided to preserve my spell slots, which was a huge mistake as I got hit for 3/4 of my total HP. This is all to say, I feel like I had a lot of strategic options and that I contributed a lot, and we all made it out of the fight alive.

And, I've been having fun playing as Nicknack. Since Kobolds are pack animals, I play him as super cowardly, but he gets a lot of confidence when he's in a big group. Also, it's really nice to play as an intelligent character for once. I have had fun being the dumb strong character, or the dumb charming character or whatever, but I often find myself playing to type and refraining from being too clever. With this character I feel a bit more free to strategize with the party and really think through situations. It's nice!
 
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