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One of the goals I wrote down when I decided to move back home was to play Dungeons and Dragons with an actual group of players. I accomplished that task last Wednesday when I attended a D&D Encounters group at a local mall and played in a live party for the first time in 13 years, and I had a blast.
I returned to D&D in January after listening to live play shows like Critical Role and Dungeon Drunks. While I’ve spent the last six months playing D&D online and in play-by-post forums, I had an itch to return to the table and interact with real people.
Five days after I returned home, I purchased a fifth edition D&D Players Handbook and searching for groups and found the weekly Wednesday D&D session at a local mall.
With my dice and book in hand, I stepped into a local Uncle’s Game Store and found a table occupied by other players and a dungeon master. After a brief introduction, I sat and created a first-level character.
Chazrael Teadrinker is born.
A combination of experienced players and one person new to the game made up the group. It was a well-rounded party featuring a paladin as the tank, a cleric as a healer and two warlocks who were the magic users. The party also included a bard who added magic and support, and myself, a halfling ranger.
The ranger, named Chazrael Teadrinker, was an original character I developed, inspired by halflings from Lord of the Rings, the Belmont family from Castlevania. In looks, he resembles a smaller version of Ron Swanson, complete with the hair and moustache.
I never intended to create Chazrael as a D&D character but when I had to create a first-level character, I couldn’t think of anything else to play.
Rangers are one of my favorite D&D classes because I love animals and the classic ranger archetype. However, I would have chosen something different had I known the DM was going to have the party begin the adventure in a city rather than the forest.
For the campaign, we are playing "Waterdeep: Dragon Heist."
Dragon Heist was recently released by Wizards of the Coast and is the current storyline in D&D lore. While many adventures focus on heroes exploring dangerous ruins in forest and other wild environments, Dragon Heist takes place in the city of Waterdeep and is for levels 1-4. As the name suggests, the story focuses on a group of villains plotting to steal a large hoard of gold—called “dragons”—in Waterdeep. The DM can choose from one of four villains for the adventure, and players will work together to prevent the bad guys from taking the gold.
Dragon Heist is the first part of a campaign focused in Waterdeep. In November, Wizards of the Coast will release “Dungeon of the Mad Mage,” which will continue where Dragon Heist left off. Players will have the chance to progress from the first adventure and delve into Undermountain. During the game, the DM said he plans on having the party go from Dragon Heist to Dungeon of the Mad Mage.
Since Waterdeep is a city, rangers can be a fish out of water because they mainly work in a forest environment.
However, I was excited to be playing in Waterdeep as it is one of my favorite cities to visit in D&D, and it was the setting for my favorite campaigns back in 2005. Waterdeep is a place where characters, even rangers, can find their niche and go from level 1 to 20 without leaving the city.
The Adventure Begins
Like all journeys, the group’s adventure began at the Yawning Portal, an inn located in Waterdeep with an entrance to Undermountain. We found ourselves fighting a troll within the first several minutes of the game.
After we helped dispatch the troll, the group met with Volothamp Geddarm and answered his request with finding his friend, who had been missing after a night of drinking. The search took the group through the streets and to a warehouse where we defeated kenku henchmen and stumbled upon the hideout of one of the Xanathar Guild.
While most of the group was searching for gold, I had Chazrael go upstairs where he set off an alarm to alert the City Watch. It wasn’t all bad as I found the first magic item of the game, a paper bird, which is a magical piece of paper that allows me to send messages to the rest of the group.
The next day, the party traveled through the sewers, defeating a goblin and gazer along the way.
The group found a room where they defeated a bandit and a duergar before they met what appears to be the final boss of the dungeon.
Still learning after 13 years
For it being my first D&D session in 13 years, I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting and playing with a group of strangers and having the opportunity to play a new character.
I still have a ways to go in learning the ins and outs of D&D fifth edition, and I am debating on the direction I want to take Chazrael. Most rangers I’ve played before were focused on close combat, but I will likely have him specialize in bows an ranged combat.
While I have a basic map planned for my ranger, I am looking forward to seeing how he bonds with the rest of the party.
Most of all, I’m glad to be back playing Dungeons and Dragons and I am looking forward to my future adventures.