I’m 46 Live in Southport not far from Bolton and like you we used to play rpg’s from the age of 12 many years ago through those long summers.
And have recently got in touch with the old gang & are doing a 5th ed d&d ‘old scrote’ once a month session. Would you like to join sometime ?
1st Jan, 2016 – Ric Gillett
It was an offer we couldn’t refuse. On the very first day of this year we were invited to join the ‘Old Scrotes’ club in nearby Southport. After a few exchanges of emails, it seemed a perfect opportunity to learn more about 5th edition D&D.
We have played an online opening game of Mines of Phandelver from the D&D Starter Pack, which starts at 1st level and works up to 4-5, but how do the new mechanics handle adventures at a high level?
Blythy and I made the journey through the endless fields of sprouts towards the quaint seaside town of Southport that’s known in Bolton as ‘God’s Waiting Room’, as it is the place where people of the North West gravitate towards to retire.
The Old Scrotes Club very generously invited us to join in their quarterly game, where they congregate from all corners of the North, to gather for a mammoth 12 hour session. They have an ongoing campaign in the Under Dark titled ‘The Steam Dwarves’ as the party are all Dwarves. In previous adventures, they have mastered huge Iron Suits with fire and water elementals bound into them that give them steam-powers and flame-throwing abilities.
I’ve interviewed Ric and Tim (the Games Master) for the podcast and will be appearing soon, where they’ll talk about their experiences back in the day and how they have found playing 5th edition D&D.
It’s all good stuff, but in the mean time, these are my top 4 highlights from the session and one low blow.
- THE ANTICIPATION
We were to play gnomes. Deep gnomes. Svirfneblin (bless you.) At first we thought it was some kind of joke. They are after all borderline scousers, so we thought it might be some way of cutting the Woolly Backs down to size.
Using the 5th Edition, it is possible to create characters of different fantasy races with colour and interesting detail. Blythy played a druid (almost a boring cleric, but the daisy chains make all the difference) and he studied the spells very, very carefully ahead of play, waiting for the dramatic moment when he could transform to an elemental. Erky Ningle kept a scorpion in a box too, ready for the moment when he could make it giant, (cue endless debate over it being ‘Gnome Giant’ or ‘Giant’).
I was to be rogue with slippers of spider climb, hence he was known as Nackel ‘Sticky Foot’ Bilge, friend of the druid who accompanied him from recently destroyed Gnome Market to seek assistance from the Dwarves.
2.THE DWARVEN COUNCIL
Tim the DM carefully wove a back story for why we were making contact with the Dwarves, who had successfully secured a fortified keep in the Under Dark. Drow, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Dwarves and Gnomes had all begun to behave strangely, as if in the grip of a madness. The gnomes had seen an Intellect Devourer escape from the brain of one of their clan who had been affected. They were keen to seek help to destroy the Illithid hive and put an end to the madness, so the Gnome Market could open once more.
Now. We have a small group, which usually means doubling up characters, so we have got into the habit of using reported speech, “well, I’ll say this in a harsh manner etc.” and tend to avoid to getting into ‘acting out’ the scene. We use it occasionally, at key moments, to crank up the tension.
The Old Scroates were masters at speaking in character, for the first hour Tim the DM went for a fag, while the players engaged in argument and counter argument in Scottish accents. The wizard believed that their small army should revive the Gnome Market and win the hearts and minds of the people of the Under Dark (a post-Iraq option), while the Cleric and Ranger believed that a recon mission, with force, should seek out the Illithid hive and neutralise it.
It was very absorbing. I felt like I was actually there, cowering before Cherry, the buxom member of council, pleading for assistance to free capital within the Under Dark.
The discussion was interrupted by green smoke emitting from the vaults below the keep.
3. UNLUCKY STICKY AND THE EVIL DICE
Once in the underground vaults of the keep, exploring the haunted crypts, the Cursed Dice Cup managed to confound the Old Scroates as I managed to roll a row of successive ones.
At one time, when I had ‘the advantage’ I rolled a one and a two. My D20 was sealed in a small box that once stored baby rusks. It was banished there until it could learn to behave.
There followed an experiment where the dice was ducked in water to prove it had a bias … a bubble inside … or a witch …or something.
4. UNDEAD ARMY
What does 5th edition do at high levels? Well, I don’t want to steal our podcast thunder, but it has the capacity to provide ‘the spectacular’. After creeping carefully through the crypt we were tormented by a Necromancer/ Litch type creature who was entering our heads, imploring to leave the place.
Evidence was everywhere that he had been attempting to zombify creatures and soon, we made the encounter – 200 plus dwarven zombies with wraiths, zombie beholders and ogres thrown in for good measure.
Spells were cast. Axes were swung in whirlwind attacks. The Cleric cried ‘turn again zombies, turn again’!
Meanwhile, Sticky Foot was on the ceiling, sneak-attacking with a bow and dodging disintegrating rays from the Zombie Beholder like Lionel Richie with a ferret down my pants. One of them hit too.
5. BRING IN THE TANK
We had late-coming Old Scroate. We had been missing a much needed fighter, but fortunately in the late afternoon he’d turned up when the rest of the party were exhausted and with his assistance the dwarves and gnomes thrashed through a zoo of zombies, including a Medusa, Gelentious Cube, a Grell and a rust monster.
OUT OF STEAM
6.WHERE DID THE TIME GO?
The only downside was that it seem to come to an end so soon. Time is transcendental as well as physical. Those 11 hours seemed to pass so quickly that it came to an end before had chance to realise the extent of the destruction that the Slaadi caused.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have hit the lid off that bottle.