Introducing Dungeons and Dragons Fridays

Drinks and Dragons CoverSince Friday’s are shaping up to be Dungeons and Dragons post days, I may as well spend some time sharing some of my D&D lessons learned with you. I have a YouTube channel where I put some D&D tutorials and general commentary, but I haven’t posted anything to it in over a year. It’s still out there if anyone is interested in watching me be a complete goofball.

That said, I’d like to turn this Friday post into a recurring D&D Q&A deal, so if anyone has any questions they’d like for me to tackle or subjects they’d like for me to discuss, send them along – either in the comments section or by using the contact form on the blog.

I’m still relatively new to D&D5e, but each session brings something new both as a player and a Dungeon Master. I DMd the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set starting in 2016 and that campaign lasted about 6 months. I’m currently DMing my first homegrown campaign and we’ve been going strong since early December and I expect it to stretch into March. I’ve also created and DMd several one-shots along the way as well.

So, let me know what questions you have! Some topics might be, just based on my own experiences so far:

  • How to handle difficult players
  • The different types of playing styles
  • How to create a balanced and fun encounter
  • Understanding Challenge Ratings
  • Creating sessions without combat
  • How to DM combat
  • How to play in a combat encounter
  • How to create a fun one-shot

Those are just a few potential topics off the top of my head, but I’ll let the gamers who read this blog, point me where they want me to go.

Happy gaming!

Change of pace: a Dungeons and Dragons post

Sometimes when the political environment gets too toxic, when Facebook gets too nauseating, when Twitter gets too trolly – all of which seems to be the case all the time these days – you must have somewhere to retreat. Sanity demands it.

For James Taylor, that place was up on the roof. For the Flock of Seagulls, it was just a matter of running, running so far away. For me, that place is Dungeons and Dragons.

Of course, D&D is not a physical place, it’s a game. And it’s not a “regular” game where there is a defined objective with winners and losers, it’s a role-playing adventure game. D&D is more of a shared story-telling experience, set in a fantasy genre, than it is a game with boards, pieces, and moves.

I have a regular group of players that I play D&D with and each of us takes a turn “running” the game. The person who runs the game is affectionately known as the Dungeon Master or DM for short. A “game” can last anywhere between a single session of a few hours (called a one-shot) to an entire campaign which might last months, or even years! I’ve been the DM on this current campaign since early December.

Here’s what I’ve discovered after picking up D&D again, several editions and about thirty years since I last played. There are different kinds of players out there. There are the psychos: people who play evil characters who just want to roll dice and kill things. There are the grid lovers: people who spend an hour arguing over whether the shape of a particular spell hits a certain person because of the location and distance of all the stalactites and stalagmites in a cave. There are the rule hounds: people who keep their player handbooks open so that they can quickly question, check, and recheck every decision the Dungeon Master makes to ensure it comports with the rules.

And then there are guys like the guys I found. The role players.

For my money, this is where the game turns in to the retreat you want it to be. The role players create dynamic, flawed, interesting characters and play true to their character’s strengths and weaknesses. But more than that, they breathe life into the characters they have created. They give them accents. They create interesting back-stories for their characters and play them according to what baggage they might be carrying with them – figuratively and literally. They let the dice determine the outcomes – for better or worse. They trust the DM to sculpt the story in such a way that they are surprised, motivated, frightened, and above all, entertained.

The more immersive one is with the characters that he or she plays, the more fun everyone has.

If you enjoyed this change of pace, stay tuned because I’ll be writing more on D&D in future posts. I’m also working on some Dungeon and Dragons inspired fiction which I may share some snippets of here as well.

Happy gaming!

My D&D Story

Sometimes you just need to mix it up a bit.

And after the 2016 election I, yes even I who loves politics and who has a degree in Political Science, became sick of the spectacle. I didn’t publish anything on this page because I didn’t want to link my name with the political shenanigans I was seeing unfold. So I let the page go dark.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my new creative outlet had been taking shape.

Perhaps it was sparked by my first visit to Dragon Con in 2016. Perhaps this is my latent nerd finally emerging from its nerdy little cocoon. Perhaps this is just my midlife crises! Whatever the spark, I rediscovered after about a 30-year hiatus, the game of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

I played D&D when I was in middle school but then high school happened and I became too busy, too cool, too whatever, and so I stopped. Let’s face it, the quarterback of the football team was probably not playing D&D. You know who was playing? The nerds.

Fast forward 30 years and do you know what people are calling those same nerds? The boss!

The world has changed. The richest most influential people on the planet are nerds. Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Musk. These are the movers, shakers, and innovators. But to be honest, I’m not playing D&D again because geek is chic (which it is); I’m playing because it’s an absolute blast!

I’ll post more updates as we go, but believe it or not, I’ve started a YouTube channel exploring  my new hobby (D&D)! I expect it will have a VERY niche audience, but that’s fine too. Happy gaming.

How to Make a Character in D&D 5e – Step 3 Proficiency Bonus

Filling out your first player character sheet in Dungeons and Dragons can be intimidating, so this video playlist is intended to help dispel some of the fear and mystery behind all of those numbers!

This is the third in my series. The first two videos covered selecting your race and your class as well as understanding ability scores and their modifiers. This video I spend some time talking about the proficiency bonus and what it means to be proficient with something or in a given skill.

I hope you enjoy this third video in what I hope becomes a very instructive playlist for the beginning player!

Happy gaming!

Back to D&D basics – creating a character (VIDEO)

After my little detour in to some of the more, shall we say, asinine things that pop up from time to time regarding Dungeons and Dragons, it feels nice to get back in to some classic D&D basics. Namely, making your own character.

For me, this is admittedly one of the more intimidating tasks in D&D but also one of the most fun! There are so many inputs in to character creation that it’s difficult to chunk it in to logical steps. But at the same time, the fact there are so many inputs is what makes creating your own player character so much fun.

The other cool thing about making a character is that it’s a part of the game that doesn’t require you to try to schedule a bunch of time with a bunch of different people.

It’s just you, your player’s handbook, your imagination, and a blank character sheet.

I hope you enjoy video 1 in what I hope becomes a very instructive playlist for the beginning player.