One of "my" presents for Christmas was all three 5e core books. I say "my" because my sons read them first and they are, really, a family gift.
My oldest son volunteered to run a series of games and sons 2 through 4 joined me in making characters. The only restrictions? No sorcerers or warlocks.
The Players and Characters
Me: Alton the Unlucky, halfling rogue with the charlatan background. Rapier, daggers, shortbow. Leather armor.
A huckster and charlatan, Alton gave himself the nickname 'unlucky' and complains often about how much money he loses at cards. Of course, he wins often, he just uses sleight of hand to pocket his winnings to make it look like he loses his roll each time. He has a 20 Dex and put his expertise into investigation and thieves' tools.
Son #2: Finquisst the Scared, half-elf mage with urchin background. Quarterstaff.
Raised in an elven setting where he was shunned for his mixed blood, Finquisst is a skillful mage, decent scholar, and an emotional wreck. He has a thin, querulous voice, a timid manner, and a tendency to apologize for everything. He doesn't like his nickname but answers to it so as not to offend anyone.
Son #3: Morgan Freedwarf, dwarf fighter with the hermit background. Great axe, longbow. Scale mail.
The son of a famous military leader and a scholar Morgan spent many years alone in a remote holt obsessively studying the lore, legends, and history of the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords. One of his corespondents in lore was the sage who convinced him to leave his retreat for this mission. Morgan has a deep, rich voice that calms listeners. He also has a 19 strength and enough bloodlust for any three normal dwarves.
Son #4: Larry, human ranger with the peasant hero background. Long sword, short bow. Leather armor.
A very happy, cheerful man, Larry loves nature, animals, cities, farmers, merchants, kittens, and sing alongs. He is very hopeful, encouraging, and is a good and decent friend. All that being said, he hates evil, humanoids, scoundrels, and anyone who would hurt nature, farmers, merchants, cities, etc.
Set-up and Play
The group was brought together by a local sage who hired us to recover the notes of a long-vanished scholar who 'missing' hermitage he had finally located after years of research. We were promised either 50 g.p. reward/fee (plus whatever we looted that was NOT a particular set of research notes) or (in the case of Morgan) notes on the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords. We were given a map to the suspected location (Alton promptly copied it that very night). We purchased mounts and left early the next day.
After several days or relatively uneventful travel, the last few of which were beyond the borders of civilization (where the ruins of past empires were sometimes seen) we came to the location. It resembled a wide, low hill and passers-by would never give it a second look. But with the map pointing the way we soon found the door in the side of the hill and the small chimney jutting from the hill nearby.
The door itself looked untouched for long decades, although the puzzle lock was intact. And smoke was coming from the chimney!
I was unable to bypass the puzzle lock and determined that each failed effort to solve it would trigger some trap. Rather than risk that the ranger scouted the perimeter of the hill. Inside a dense copse the ranger found two small (4.5'-5') tunnels going into the hill but he also heard a loud buzzing. He fled toward the party. Seeing him running in the open we prepared for trouble.
The 2 giants wasps chasing him were a bit of trouble; one stung Larry, reducing him to half hits, but we dealt with them soon. After checking the entire perimeter and confirming the two tunnels were the only other ways in we marched into the rightmost burrow.
After 30 or so feet we heard a raucous celebration from ahead. I crept forward and found a large chamber, about 20' by 30', with 5 tunnels leading from it, including the one we were in and what was obviously the other burrow. In the middle were 4 large kobolds (well, large for kobolds) playing a game for coppers. There were females and young staring on. The kobolds were all cheering and groaning as the game was played. It was very lively and loud.
Our opening salvo of arrows and fire bolt stunned the unsuspecting kobolds. It also killed 2 of them, grievously wounded one, and set a bundle of sleeping furs on fire (Finquisst missed). As Larry and Morgan charged the large kobolds I drew my rapier to protect Finquisst as he cast more spells. Larry and Morgan were mowing down the warriors, several of the young fled down the interior tunnels, and 2 females hustled to grab slings. Two of the young grabbed daggers and advanced to help fight Larry and Morgan.
Larry and Morgan kept slaughtering their foes, Finquisst missed again, and one of the females hit Finquisst with a sling bullet. I charged the two females, killing them in 2 rounds, as Larry and Morgan mopped up the other combatants.
We heard a commotion from one of the tunnels so we prepared a defensive formation near the exit tunnel and waited. before too long two giant weasels came rushing at use closely followed by the obvious chief and a female dressed rather oddly. I was in the rear firing arrows into weasels as they charged; Finquisst was with me using his cantrips. The weasels injured both Larry and Morgan; Morgan used his Second Wind to keep going. The female went down the first round, the other three by the third, mainly because of lucky rolls and me getting a backstab.
After the battle was over, everything was quiet. The rest of the party stayed in the entrance chamber gathering loot and preparing for attack as I scouted.
The first tunnel was in the direction the chief had come from. Before too long the tunnel pierced a rock wall and beyond was the bedroom of the scholar's home! The kobolds had been using it as the chief's room. Beyond it was what looked like a previous guest room that had been turned into giant weasel pens. There was also another room with a silver-inlaid pentagram on the floor, untouched, and another door which had been seriously barred from this side, obviously by the kobolds. I looted what I could, avoiding the pentagram. Listening at the barred door I heard very faint scuttling sounds.
The next tunnel led to what was obviously a sleeping area for the young and then breached another tunnel from the scholar's home. Again, the door to the rest of the hill was heavily barred. I killed to kobolds in the sleeping area.
The last tunnel led to the scholar's pantry, then his kitchen, where I killed two more kobolds and captured a third. I also found another heavily barred door.
Now that the entire complex up to the barred doors had been scouted and cleared I returned and the party took a short rest. We then went to the kitchen, prepared ourselves, and Morgan kicked open the barred door.
The 3 large giant spiders, each the size of a human, immediately charged us. After a tough fight we killed them, but Larry was knocked below 0 h.p. We stabilized him quickly and he soon made a save. I scouted the corridor and found that it had 3 more doors - two were obviously the other barred doors, the third was untouched for long ages. We retreated to the kitchen where Larry was soon at 1 h.p. We barred the doors, set watch, and took a long rest.
Awaking refreshed we went to the third door and entered. Inside was an old, very old, alchemical lab. Most things had evaporated or decayed over time, but a few stoppered flasks were intact. I spotted something odd on a table and, creeped out by a pile of leather tubes on a table, shot it with my bow.
The grick, which had seemingly once been pickled, attacked. Weakened by being preserved, we slew it quickly. One door from the lab led to a storeroom full of things like powdered iron and chalk dust. The other led to-
A library! While the vastmahority of books had been destroyed by water, rot, time, and bookworms, the notes and such we had been sent for had survived on a table next to the body of the long-dead scholar. We collected it, as well as the 2-3 least-damaged books, and left for home.
Me from playing a halfling rogue.
- This is the first time I have ever willingly taken a party into an adventure without a cleric - and we were fine.
- The fact that backstab works on enemies engaged with your allies is a big deal.
- the ability of halflings to move through spaces occupied by larger creatures means halfling rogues have a lot more chances to backstab people in melee.
My kids in the order they spoke to me.
- From Son #3: it is more fun to play than to read.
- From Son #4: it was enjoyable.
- From Son #2: Good, but not as fun as 2e.
- From Son #1: Solid and the rules meet their goals. Also, in [his] opinion the Basic Rules don't fairly reflect the full rules. In particular, the basic rules made it look a lot easier on the players than it is.
We had a good time and will keep playing through 5th level to test things out.
Everyone made 2nd level, BTW.