Simon J McDonnell

Creating cool stuff



Sourced from

I’ve always liked the idea of playing D&D. Well, that’s a lie. When I was a teenager I was terrified of letting most people know the things I actually liked, but over the past lock of years I’ve been very interested in playing it. A lot of that had to do with the Penny Arcade podcasts and live D&D games. I started watching and listening to them, and they’re a really great source of entertainment. They are both an enjoyable way for me to pass the time as well as something that makes me excited to play in my own games.

So yeah I read a chunk of 4th Edition books as my brother owned them, but there was no one interested in playing it. Until there was! But those games went really badly. I very much wanted to play, but got stuck with DM’ing, and was quite poor at it because I just straight up did not prepare anything at all, so it was a very dull “kill some guys” adventure.

I also felt it was hampered by 4th Edition and it’s focus on being a tabletop combat game over actually being a collaborative storytelling device (which is what I really wanted). My favourite parts of the aforementioned live games and podcasts were the bits where they creatively solved problems and joked around while doing it. The actual mechanics of combat didn’t really do it for me as much, except when it was as a vehicle for interesting situations and/or character development. Though I do like combat, I think a full RP based adventure would be interesting, but it’d be very difficult to make it not-boring. Combat serves an important role as a method of generating interesting scenarios and making the players feel good about their characters prowess.

My interest in character driven encounters in D&D isn’t really that surprising I guess. When I read I like books to be about the characters, their interactions, and their conflicting motivations, desires, and actions. I’ve gotten into discussions in the past with people who feel differently (Laurel for example), who like environmental stuff to have a heavy focus (that’s not to say they don’t also enjoy characters). It’s one of the key parts of why I don’t like Lord of the Rings, I find it super super boring. There are so so so many descriptions of landscapes that I do not care about. It also fails (at least in the beginning) of setting you up with interesting characters that are enjoyable to watch interact. In my opinion The Hobbit is a much better book.


So anyway, 4th Edition didn’t do it for me so much, but that’s not the hot new kid on the block anymore. That would be 5th Edition, which has a much lighter touch with the combat stuff, and a heavier focus on storytelling. This edition has been out for a while, but it’s only recently that I both A) Found a group that was interested and B) Actually had time to do it. So we off the cuff went through character creation, and I’ve been readying campaign notes and planning out their first adventure.

I’ve been having a real ton of fun with it so far, and have found that it really scratches a creative itch with me. It’s really enjoyable to think up a basic scenario and then flesh it out slowly and evolve it into something unique and interesting. I’m hoping the players enjoy what I’ve thought up, but even if they don’t I can learn and improve, and I’m having fun either way.

I just fucking know they’re going to kill characters I plan out whole arcs for in two seconds though. The fuckers.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.