Ian: Greetings, adventurers, and welcome to a very exciting collaborative post! I’m here to talk about my first experience with Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, but I’m not doing it alone – today I am joined by Kris and Rachel of Double Jump to talk about their first campaign too! I’m really excited to hear from them the sort of shenanigans they are experiencing and what kinds of characters they play, and I’m particularly interested in hearing their perspectives as relative newcomers to the tabletop scene and how they differ from my perspective as an experienced player and game master who has mostly stayed within the indie scene. Rachel, I’m gonna start with you – can you tell us about the character you’re playing?
Rachel: Thanks for having us, Ian! It’s always fun to talk about Dungeons and Dragons with others. In the campaign I’m part of, I play a Sorcerer Wood Elf named Sapphire. She’s a hermit, a bit afraid of most things, and loves to eat. When it comes to battle, she favors her fire magic over everything else. She can pack a punch too when the dice decide to roll well.
Ian: Funny, there’s a wood elf sorcerer in the game I am playing as well! A popular class, perhaps. I can certainly see the appeal compared to the wizard, where you have the added challenge of preparing magic in advance for each situation. And I love that one of her personality traits is “loves to eat.” I bet that creates a lot of roleplaying opportunities! So Kris, what kind of character are you playing?
Kris: Hi Ian! My character is a Ranger Half-Elf named Kalythra. It was a bit of a toss-up between ranger and rogue for my first character, as those two types of classes are a couple of my favorites in RPGs, but I’m loving the ranger class. She came from the wilderness and is not too great with people, having open confusion when they encounter bosses and the like, questioning what their motivation is more often than not. Animals are better than people if you ask her, and I accidentally adopted two NPC wolves who now travel with the party… and tend to do better with rolls than the player characters, to be honest.
Ian: That’s pretty much the way of things! Dice are fickle things. It sounds like we have similar preferences in characters, Kris – the rogue and ranger archetypes are my favorite to play and I’m actually playing a wood elf rogue in the D&D campaign I’m playing in currently. For me, tabletop roleplaying was something I wanted to try since I was a kid, and ranger was the class I thought was coolest back then. Some things never change, I suppose. Have you all been interested in tabletops for a long time, or was this more of a spur-of-the-moment activity for the two of you?
Rachel: Dice really are fickle. Some sessions I do well and others… not so much. I can’t remember when exactly we got into tabletop games, to be honest. We always knew it existed and one of our favorite YouTubers talks a lot about Dungeons and Dragons and was part of a D&D show. We watched it and thought it was such a cool idea. We just needed others to try it out with. We’re part of a local writer’s group and one of the members is a teen librarian. I saw her post a picture of her dice on Instagram one day. Apparently, she runs a D&D group for teens at her library. We asked her about it and lucky for us, a D&D group was born with friends we had already known for such a long time.
Kris: The idea of D&D was always in the back of my mind but, as Rachel mentioned, we just needed to meet people who were actually interested in playing with us. Considering we now have a great group comprised of some of our writers group’s friends and their roommates, we’ve been having a great time. I’m really enjoying D&D and just wish that I had more time to play! With that said, Ian, you’ve mentioned that you prefer other tabletop RPGs to D&D. I haven’t really explored too many other tabletop RPGs, so this may seem like a silly question, but what’s the biggest difference you’ve found between D&D and your favorite tabletop RPG?
Ian: It’s funny you should phrase the question that way because my current favorite tabletop is Dungeon World, which is a game that is thematically very similar to D&D. They’re both fantasy roleplaying with a Tolkien-like setting, they share the same classes and even the same names for many of the spells. Where they differ is in their mechanics. Dungeon World uses a 2d6 + modifier system instead of a 1d20 + modifier, which balances your rolls more towards the middle. The resolution system also has tiers of success so there’s a middle option between success and failure where you generally have to make a choice about what your action costs you or how it complicates things. These factors work together to create a game where you succeed more often than in D&D, so your characters feel more capable (particularly in their highest stats), but those successes are still compelling because you have to think about what it costs you to get what you want. Rachel, you mentioned that one of your favorite YouTube personalities was part of what inspired you to check out Dungeons and Dragons – what roleplaying shows have you all watched and how do you think that has influenced your play style or your expectations about roleplaying?
Rachel: I’ve never heard of Dungeon World, that sounds awesome though. We definitely have some research to do when it comes to other tabletop games. Dungeons and Dragons is fun, but I’ve love to explore the genre more with different versions and various other games. To answer your question, we’ve watched Dice, Camera, Action and Trapped in the Birdcage. Both were shows on the Dungeons and Dragons channels on YouTube and Twitch. They were entertaining and engaging and so much fun to watch. I need to find more shows to watch so I can learn more about the game itself.
Ian: I’ve watched a little bit of Dice, Camera, Action and it’s certainly a fun place to go for what I would say is a pretty traditional tabletop viewing experience. If you’re looking for more shows in a similar vein to that one, Critical Role of course is the big one for Dungeons and Dragons content. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about Rivals of Waterdeep. I don’t watch either though so I can’t necessarily recommend them from personal experience. I get most of my roleplaying content from Roll20 Presents; they do have D&D shows but I prefer to watch them play other games. I also like their approach because with most games, they spotlight the mechanics more than other channels I have watched. Kris, Rachel touched a bit on what she is interested in doing in the future regarding tabletops when she mentioned that she wants to try different games – what would you say is the next thing you are most interested in trying when it comes to tabletop roleplaying?
Kris: Considering I’ve never really thought about other tabletop roleplaying other than D&D, I’m down for anything. I’m having a great time learning the mechanics of D&D and I’m eager to research and try out other tabletop roleplaying games to learn their mechanics as well. I do have great interest in trying my hand at writing roleplaying adventures. I used to be on writing sites that allowed for “choose-your-own-adventure” types of stories, and I adore writing those. When Rachel and I were younger, we actually ran a few forums for text roleplaying, most notably for fandoms like the Warriors book series by Erin Hunter, Pokemon, and X-Men. I have the beginnings of a Harry Potter story for D&D and ideas for a Legend of Zelda one as well. Crafting the different mechanics and stats for various races and characters is a challenge I’m enjoying, and I would love to get a bit more practice as a Dungeon or Game Master.
Ian: That’s awesome! Being the game master was something that appealed to me right away when I started playing RPGs and it’s still my favorite thing to do years later, so I hope when you get the opportunity to try it out that you love it too. On that note, I think we’ll wrap up our discussion. It’s been great talking tabletops with you all! Where can Adventure Rules readers find your other musings on RPGs as well as your video game content?
Kris: This has been such a fun discussion! Thanks again for having us on your blog, Ian! Rachel and I are located at DoublexJump.com for our main blog, and we have the same handle if anyone wants to chat with us on Twitter. We also stream fairly regularly on Twitch at xDoubleJump, if anyone wants to check us out there.