I think I can safely call ByW’s recently concluded campaign the first full campaign in which I have participated as a player. We went far in my dad’s campaign as kids, but he had a lot of content we never saw and possibly no real end. Since that time, I’ve played in one-shots, started some campaigns that didn’t go anywhere, and mostly GMed. Raglan’s story was a twisty one, starting in 3.5 and moving to 5e when we picked it up again after a long pause. My reports on it in Raglan’s Journal begin after our move to 5e and Raglan received a powerful magic item called the Hero’s Journal, allowing him to draw power from recording his acts (as a Bard and Barbarian).
The journal entries are linked below (in case you care about the story), followed by an analysis of some of the things I learned from the campaign.
5e D&D Works
It took a while, but this campaign eventually convinced me to buy a bunch of 5e books. I now have 8 5e dedicated books, previous to this being happy to use my home brewed Mind Weave system and make up everything as I go. I use these books for adapting quickly to Mind Weave content, but I also anticipate running 5e for the my small children in the near future. It’s a solid enough system (and easy enough to design for) that if it had existed when I was in college I may never have made Mind Weave, instead integrating my vision for the magic system into it (although, arguably I would have done the same with 1e if I had played it back then, since two sessions into a short campaign with that system I am very impressed with it, bought those books, too; imagine spending money on a hobby!).
High Power Is Fun
ByW gave us absurd power, including epic boons at maybe level 10, powerful magical items that grew with us, and lots of other good equipment (including +5 astrite armor and weapons). Do I recommend this for every campaign? No, but the final encounter for The Answer Is Dragons was a confrontation with Tiamat herself, and the whole campaign was based on us punching way above our weight class. We got to fight crazy things with relatively low level spells because we had items to boost us. I got to play a sub-optimal character and feel powerful just the same because of powerful items. I usually like gritty, low power myself, but this definitely opened a door for me to go for the high end some time.
Though we’ve had a lot of success with ad hoc role-play epilogues by decades in the past at the ends of my campaigns, ByW did something I think I want to implement in the future. He asked everyone to send him their visions for their epilogue and then compiled it all into a story he read to us before our next prologue session. It took less table time, resulted in a better story, and felt good and smooth. I will probably do the same at the end of Primordial Frontier.
Journal Entries Add Immersion
Writing Raglan’s journal greatly helped me in connecting with his character, allowing him to go from an eager librarian turned adventurer to a hardened veteran who had seen too much death to talk to a king sending men to their deaths without threatening his own death. He delved into eldrich tomes in his library he never would have noticed before seeing a war he was desperate to end. All of my future characters will have a similar written report from their perspective to help me get in their head and play them realistically. Alvin’s Letters and The Book of Jex are the first fruits of this lesson.
Safety is Okay
One of my favorite playing memories is the time in my dad’s campaign that our party stumbled from a fight with a trapper directly into 9 hobgoblins without healing. Five of the six party members fell before the thief finished the battle and got everyone else stable. I will never forget the thrill of desperation in that fight. That said, we had dozens of thrilling fights in this campaign, only one of which felt very dangerous.
This campaign was a real trip. I couldn’t let it slip into the past without rescuing some lessons from the memory hole.