First D&D Game

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Meh… Griff enjoyed it, but I was disappointed.
D&D Player's Handbook
The new Player’s Handbook — a top-notch rewrite of the core rules.
D&D Starter Set
The boxed intro with basic rules, dice, sample characters, and an adventure to get you started.

A week before heading up to the cabin, Griffin and I walked to our local comic shop to pick up a new graphic novel (he chose Journey to the Center of the Earth). While browsing, I noticed that the latest (fifth) edition of Dungeons and Dragons was out. I couldn’t resist picking up the Player’s Handbook and the introductory boxed set. I wanted to read over the new rules, and I rationalized that I’d use them when the D&D activity gets going again at my school this winter. (Also, the fourth edition was garbage, so I hoped the fifth would do better.) Of course I didn’t have time to read them during the week, so I tossed them into my reading bag for the cabin. It wasn’t until we got there that it occurred to me that Griffin might be old enough to get into it. Sarah was game, so after our hike on Saturday, I opened the boxed set and had them choose from the five pre-generated characters. For posterity, here’s the group for our first ever family D&D game:

  • Griffin played an elf wizard named… Griffin!
  • Sarah played a halfling rogue named Sarafina.
  • Maggie played a human fighter named Maggie. (Armed with a two-handed sword, no less.)
  • Andrew, besides being the dungeon master, played a dwarf cleric named Amber. (Those who gamed with me in ages past may recall my appreciation for dwarf clerics.)

A bunch of goblins, some wolves, and a bugbear later and everyone gained a level. Griffin’s first request when we got home was, “Can we play some more D&D today?” (The answer was no, but the request warmed my heart.)

It was neat seeing how Griffin’s five-year-old mind grappled with the complexities of the game. His favorite part was definitely rolling the dice: at one point the group rescued a kidnapped knight and he offered to tell the story of his capture; Griffin responded with, “Can I roll the 20-sided die?” But he definitely followed the story, and has a remarkable memory for detail. He instantly grasped some fairly complicated mechanics around how often he can cast his spells, and a week later he can explain the overall quest and the names of the characters and places in the story. (Including a number of details that I had forgotten!)

Maggie, naturally, had only a loose grasp of things, but also enjoyed rolling the dice and paging through the rulebooks to see the pictures.

With Sarah gone this weekend, we haven’t had a chance for a followup game, but this adds a great new activity to our family menu, especially when the snows blow in. (I always hear Ned Stark… “Winter is coming…”)

Oh, and in case any gamers stumble on this post, my first impression of 5th edition is overwhelmingly positive. The core rules are elegant with an emphasis on flexibility, role-playing, and imaginative fun. The writers captured the spirit of what made the original AD&D so compelling, while streamlining the rules and updating them for the current generation.

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