Apparently you can teach this old dog some new tricks. My son Gar and I went to Joe Procopio’s house for a convening of what is the “off-week” game (usually roleplaying) and played in the adventure THE GLACIAL RIFT OF THE FROST GIANT JARL. This is a D&D adventure of some legendary fame in game lore, dating back in original form to the 1980s, and the second in the series called AGAINST THE GIANTS (the G series).
I had not played in real, face to face D&D in at least two decades. I never got actually tired of it or disliked it, it just went to a ‘second tier fascination’ with my kids coming on the scene, and career obligations and real world stuff. It’s just hard to get together once a week. It’s still hard to do that, but I am managing to get in roughly monthly game sessions these days now that my kids are grown, and I was eager to try D&D again. Much of this desire to play comes from basic nostalgia, but I’ve also been listening to the Nerd Poker podcast a lot this last year, and their campaigns sound so fun, they have rekindled my desire to get involved with a narrative building pastime. With one of those kids in tow. So Garrett and trundled up to Joe Procopio’s pad and gave it a try.
My character (as I mentioned before) was a halfling thief (ahem they are “Rogues” now). This is a template kind of character for me. I like hobbits, and I like a character that has lots of practical skills beyond just chopping monsters into chutney.
My character was 12th level, which usually means one thing; we’re going to encounter some real high level opposition. Yeah. It’s giants, right? Never a cakewalk. The funny thing for me was I’ve been in this dungeon before– I remember playing this one (run by Super-DM Bob Sargent) waaay back in the day. Fortunately I don’t have an eidetic memory, so it was all new to me (or mostly).
Fifth Edition D&D is an experience. I really enjoy this version. Cloyer has all kinds of abilities and traits that I had never dreamed of back in the 1980s. In particular, the sneak attack ability is a game changer. Because of the character’s level, he can enter an area with opposition in it, HIDE behind another character and then ATTACK with 6D6 dice damage (if it hits). I found myself using this as much as I could, naturally. A Rogue isn’t a front line fighter if he can help it; however, as he does possess some immensely useful practical skills in trap detection and elimination, sneak attacks, scouting and disguise, he usually ends up in the second rank. So my character got into a few scraps.
Our first big challenge of the evening was a pack of Yeti in a smallish cavern off of the Rift itself. I scouted the room in advance rolling well for being sneaky but mediocre for perception– so I reported “movement, they are larger than me, but I’m a hobbit, so take it with a grain of salt. More than three of them”. I often ponder how the monsters view situations like this. Here’s a gang of yeti, maybe eking out a miserable existence in this frozen cavern, eating God knows what and surviving day to day. Suddenly a pack of foes jumps in to your cavern and slaughters every one of you in point blimfark. I can maybe see why they got upset.
The yeti cave was a short and brutal combat, for them. Their leader of sorts attacked with a cold-wielding blade. We got the better of him as well, and ended up taking it away from him. We moved out into the main hallway of the steading, and came to an intersection of sorts where we could see another cave, a long stairway going down and the hallway moving farther forward with a steep precipice on the left. The steps were going down that precipice. Not having encountered anything of note, the dwarf decided to go out on a walkabout. As we
were mucking about upstairs, he kept going down, and down, and down…
My character, being the practical guy he is, improvised a rescue plan he called “Christmas Vacation“. He borrowed a shield from one of the clerics, sat in it, and leaned back, holding on to the edges, and went down the stairs on an improvised toboggan, using the light from his Flame Tongue sword to guide the way. Athletics is one of the things Cloyer can do relatively well, and I passed two athletics checks on the way down. Jared (the DM) gave me the choice to slow the shield down, steer it somewhere else, or ride it into the nearest wolf. As I was shredding in high style at the moment, I decided to plow into the wolf at top speed. That did the trick– at least one of the attackers was now distracted by a hobbit on a sled. Wolfs in a straight up attack were a lot for my guy to handle, but fortunately one of the magic wielders had “feather fall” which can handle about 5 people. So the rest of the party leaped off the precipice, and counted the seconds, with the spell going off about 30 feet above the bottom. The late arriving reinforcements came in very handy for ending that conflict but it drew even more wolves which I lent a hand in dispatching. I firmly hold to the ancient credo of “protect your cleric no matter what else” and ran to assist the two clerics who got jumped by new wolves farther down the passageway.
As we recuperated once again a character wandered off on a scout while we tangled with some Sabre Toothed cats. They rejected my advances of friendship and offer of dead Yeti meat for a shot at live hobbit. Foolishly, I had tried to entice them by myself. Liv and learn!.
Meanwhile, our ranger guy ended up blundering into one of these:
Whatever it was, it was big, centipede like and it could make fire in its tummy. The Ranger blundered into his “ambush area” and it completely got the better of him. As in to the point of it trying to digest the Ranger. This was another big fight which inflicted a lot of damage on everyone who got close to this thing. This wasn’t a fight I was going to win in hand to hand, so I stayed back and ambushed with short bow, which certainly helped. After that was done (and the Ranger resurrected) it was then 10 PM in real time, and we called it a night.
What can I say? I loved it. I really enjoy 5th edition which is highly detailed and adds a lot of new stuff to think about, but most of the time you only really need to memorize a few statistics and skills. D&D 2.0 (which was my jam back in the 80s) had this level of detail but it was a whole level of magnitude less densely written. Garrett also had a great time, but he has much more recent fifth edition experience than I do (or anyone else at the game had, actually). The players were (mostly) new to me, with a few exceptions, and a very nice, friendly group of people who didn’t hesitate to explain concepts to this relative newb.
A great time was had by all, and I look forward to shredding in the Steading of the Frost Giant Jarl again in our next session.