I’ve started gaming again


When the action got started, I got them all up on the deck of a large airship. Sailing was well, skies were okay, and the crew was mostly clueless. They were not used to getting invaded like this, and the truth is until I think I sent just a little bit too much against players on the very first session. The ship began to sway, and after an explosion and one almost sliding off the edge of the boat, a group of bandits bordered from underneath. It was several humans and a couple of Bullywug frog people. They wrestled with the crew and the players, swords flared, and bites happened. The captain jumped off the backend in a trance. At the end of the session, the rest of the crew have either lost their lives or have been thrown overboard. With land barely in sight and ocean underneath them and to frog people there fighting over the wheel, next time we’ll find out can they take the wheel back from from the frogs? Can any of the land an airship? Is this ship even still flyable?

I didn’t have as many people show up as I would’ve liked, but those who did show up were fantastic. I learned more in a single night about fantasy grounds than I did on my own, just trying to figure it out. I have watched hours and hours of fantasy grounds tutorials, but I learned more in that 2 1/2 hours trying to run a game than I have in the rest of the time. I learned better ways to create characters, and I learned how you could tweak spell effects on characters. I learned about box tokens, and I made one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a dungeon Master on his first game. Thank goodness, maybe I can keep that one to just one game? I haven’t played actively in almost 20 years, and it’s kind of amazing to me that it took me this long to get back into it. I think this can be a whole lot of fun.


Creating characters

Fantasy grounds has a great Wizard that will help you build your characters and manipulate them. It’s not a flawed system. I think it’s a great system, but there are a lot of things about it that are not very intuitive, so come to the rescue are a ton of tools across the web that depending on your point of view, may or may not do a better job at getting characters into fantasy grounds. One of the problems that I have with fantasy grounds is that the only way to get equipment onto your characters is to drag and drop it from the items list. The problem is the nerve damage to my hands makes it very difficult to use a mouse. I can use a mouse but not with any degree of accuracy, so I use the pad on my laptop and but when I have to click, and double-click, and drag things, I have to use a knuckle, which makes it difficult and painful after a little while if there’s a whole lot of that. You might wonder why I’m even going with fantasy grounds if doing something like clicking and dragging is a problem, but it is mostly a problem when it comes to dragging a whole lot of things at once. Adding equipment to your character sheet can be quite a bit of clicking and dragging, so the following method makes a lot more sense to me. At least, it worked out a lot easier than I thought it would.

So what I do is I go to D&D beyond, and from there, I create a new character, and once I have a wonderful first level character, it comes pre-populated with starting equipment, which I like a lot. I’m using fantasy grounds, so I want to find my character number on D&D Beyond URL so I can plug it into another website. You take that and throw it into another website called prophets of doom, and that site will create an XML file that you can upload into fantasy grounds. It doesn’t sound effortless, but it’s okay. Part of the problem with my stubbornness in this is that I wanted to make characters the way you’re supposed to create characters, Rather than using the best tools out there. I made kind of a rookie mistake of allowing my first session to be taken up mainly by helping one of the other players make their character when most of the other ones were just pulled in and made beforehand. Better methods will be used moving forward. It will be great for me to create many sample characters this way that people could grab quickly.



Locked tokens

One of the biggest surprises about my first night working with fantasy grounds in a live environment with players is the idea of locked tokens. This is not a terrible idea, and it’s something that I had heard of but didn’t understand. The idea is that on a player’s turn, they move their character, and it shows in lines distances and where the player intends to move, and there’s a little button with a little extra checkmark for me to accept or deny movement. It’s a useful ability, but I didn’t know it was there. I’m not entirely sure whether I have a toggle on to use it or whether the players are just using it with a key combination because I didn’t think I had it set to do anything other than just allow the players to move wherever they wanted to. Suddenly, during the middle of and my first encounter, I had arrows going across the screen, which I couldn’t figure out how to do before to gauge distance and tiny checkboxes that were frankly difficult to click on to accept moves. It was a real surprise to see this in play but not necessarily a terrible shock. I think we can use it, and I think it could be a benefit, but I just have to play with it a little bit longer to see how I want to use that feature.

I love D&D, and I love the idea that all of the rules are baked into this tabletop system. Still, I’m not sure that I like the concreteness you can feel from a move when somebody makes a move, and everybody imagines what’s happening. Then there’s somebody making a move, and it goes click click on the board. Everybody has to read whether the creature got hit or not and how many hit points it has been dealt with in the chat area.

I have to make sure that there is a good way to describe this kind of move in the future so that they do become embedded in the players’ minds as they are playing. This is a challenging concept for me, and I’ll get there.

Deleting all the tokens

At the height of the night, at just the point where I’m trying to create a dramatic cliffhanger to the evening, my knuckles hit the wrong button, and I deleted all the tokens across the entire board. It was not difficult to do. If I work hard enough, I can probably make this mistake again, so I have to be careful about this, especially for me to keep using fantasy grounds. We quickly replaced all of the tokens and got things close to where they needed to be, and then I skipped a few rounds to put one or two more of the bandits overboard and set things up for next week. I may have to offer condolence experience points for when I blow it like that. I’m not making too big a deal of it mostly; I think it’s funny. In the future, I would very much like it if I didn’t accidentally delete all the tokens at the end of the night.

Seeing old friends

By far, the best thing of the entire night was seeing old friends, some of which I haven’t seen outside of reading comments on Facebook, maybe for some 20 years or more. Even if we didn’t get much done game-wise, I had a great time visiting with people that I had no t seen in a very long time.

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