Last week’s introduction to D&D Next left an impression on my son Daniel, and he began asking me when we could play again. So this weekend we sat down to finish the Dwarf Brothers’ adventure in the goblin caves.
He insisted on using minis and a map this time, but I insisted he finish it the way he’d began it — dice and paper only. To compromise, I pulled out a couple of painted minis to represent our two characters, so that he could have them there to look at during play. Next time, I promised him a map.
When last we left our intrepid pair, the Dwarf Brothers (Dwarfio and Morgan) had cleared the goblins out of a guard room but weren’t sure if they had been detected or not by goblins further in. To facilitate more non-combat play, I decided that the dwarves were not immediately detected. This let my son go into explorer mode for a bit.
[At this point, I should note that I ultimately diverged from the exact map layout for the Goblin caves in the Caves of Chaos, to facilitate a better experience for Daniel. So if you’re trying to follow along — stop.]
Dwarfio and Morgan searched along a corridor where they encountered two short side halls that ended in stench — one a garbage heap, one the communal privy. I got to laugh at the way my son scrunched his nose and refused to even consider searching through either one (let’s face it, a more seasoned adventurer would be elbow-deep in garbage hoping for a discarded dagger +1). Beyond this hallway was the goblin communal room, full of 20 goblins and their children.
At this point, to make a long story short, the Dwarf Brothers were noticed — Daniel isn’t very good at thinking stealth — and before long the entire room of goblins was chasing them. When Dwarfio turned left instead of right trying to run away (I made Daniel roll WIS to remember which way to go while they fled), the dwarves were cornered and then captured. This let Daniel play out his first ever D&D prison break — achievement unlocked! — and since they waited until the middle of the night to do it, they were able to tiptoe out past the sleeping guards and flee into the woods.
This would not be a very satisfying ending to his first encounter, so I decided to make things more climactic. During our capture we’d briefly met the goblin chieftain, and on a lark I’d thrown in a big, beefy, not-so-brainy hobgoblin as the chief’s bodyguard. Since the plot setup had been to convince the goblins to stop attacking the dwarf mines, I used Morgan to feed Dwarfio an idea: return to the cave and challenge the hobgoblin to single combat.
Daniel loved the idea, so we went back to the cave. I beefed up the hobgoblin on the fly, doubling his hit points and giving him the first-level fighter power Reaper, and we roleplayed the challenge together. Of course, Dwarfio defeated the beefed-up hobgoblin in a few rounds, but I think they’re the rounds my son will remember best about the whole dungeon, since he got to be the hero.
At the end of the game, not only did Daniel say he wanted to play again, but he said that he would love to invite friends over to play, too. And while a group of eight year olds was not my ideal choice for a regular gaming group, I have promised him that I’d put together at least one game once character creation rules come out. I can think of far worse things to do with D&D Next then use it to bring new, young players to the game.
Now, I just need the next iteration of rules for D&D Next. Soon, I hope …