Episode #124: The Wayfarer’s Escape Part 1 of 3 – a Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Based on the World of The Thirteenth Hour
Despite having grown during the 80s, I never got into the whole Dungeons and Dragons fad. I think I might have liked it had I had a group of like-minded friends to play it with, like in Stranger Things, but I didn’t know anyone like that. It was also a lot harder to find out information in those days, so if it wasn’t in the public library or the Yellow Pages, it might as well not have existed. I did discover bits and pieces that were related, like D and D game books, but really had no conception of what an actual role playing game was until much later, and when I actually found out it was like acting in a play, I was woefully disappointed. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it surely wasn’t a big game of make believe – that was for kids, wasn’t it?
So, although I had to admit, the little figures and the game books always held a certain curiosity, my interest never really went any further than that. In addition, it all looked needlessly complicated, and in the day and age of computers, what appeal could imaginary landscapes, dice, and turn based battles have?
A lot, actually.
Like a lot of things, your perception and experience of them depends on whether you are at a point in life to be receptive to them. At this stage of my life, while I still enjoy playing a handful of video games (generally limited to times when I run on a treadmill), I often find the idea of them more appealing than actually playing. While video games have the capacity of awakening the senses and transporting you to a virtual world and an immersive story, more often than not, I find myself getting frustrated with how much like work they seem. If I’m lucky enough to have a few minutes free, the last thing I want to do it spend it on some mindlessly repetitive fetch quest or filler that game developers stuck in to add bloat to their game. And as someone with young children, I find it increasingly frustrating to combat the inevitability of all the screen time in the average child’s life these days (and that’s to say nothing for the average adult, who might spend much of the day in front of a computer screen tapping out TPS reports or something similar). There’s something appealing about slower paced, more analog forms of entertainment.
Enter Dungeons and Dragons – as an adult. If it weren’t for my brother, who also discovered D and D later in life, none of this would have happened. But after he got into it, played a few campaigns, and began functioning as a dungeon master (the person who organizes and coordinates the whole campaign for the other players and serves as narrator and referee), he offered to create a 1:1 campaign to allow me to experience this little piece of the 1980s that I missed.
And that’s what the next few weeks will be – a showcase into a little, self-contained campaign that Jeremy created based on a little segment for the next Thirteenth Hour book. I gave him only a few lines and character sketches to go by, but from those humble beginnings generated several hours of play that opened my eyes and changed my mind as to what this slower paced gameplay could be like. And I finally understood not only how much fun an actual role playing game could me (and not just a digital representation), but how people could spend all day on a D and D campaign, forget to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom 🙂
The main character is this little adventure, who features heavily in the next two Thirteenth Hour books, is called the Wayfarer, a half-elf freedom fighter who has been captured and locked up in a makeshift dungeon. While the method of his escape wasn’t something that I was planing to go into in the actual book, it made for a great backstory and gave Jeremy room to add and modify it as he wished to make the campaign more interesting.
In this episode, I talk a little about the backstory to set up the gameplay. Since I audio-recorded a few parts, there will be a part the includes the first battle, which actually went on a little longer than anticipated and made me think of “turn based combat” in a while new way.
Here are some pictures from the campaign. We didn’t go entirely analog, though. Jeremy used a program called Tabletop Simulator to create visuals to simulate the little figurines, maps, and gameboards that can add depth to a game a help a D and D Luddite like me understand what’s going on.
I finally learned what all the funny shaped dice were for. It was also a great exercise as a writer to create my character, the Wayfarer (since I had to do that anyway). There’s something about the D and D character creation process, though, that helps to make more fully fleshed out, 3D fantasy characters.
Below are a few Hero Forge digital figurines Jeremy created to represent the Wayfarer (the jetpack comes in part 3).
This fellow (not sure where he came from) provided Jeremy the inspiration for Abram, the Wayfarer’s prison break accomplice.
So in summary, I’d have to say that as a parent, I’d much rather have my kids get together with actual, live, in-the-flesh human beings and use their imaginations and problem solving skills to go through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign than play the equivalent in digital form with virtual players. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!
Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.
The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube. This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.
Stay tuned. Follow along on Spotify! There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.
As always, thanks for listening! Thanks for coming on the show, Brent! It was a pleasure!
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