In a strange coincidence, I happened to find a series of YouTube videos from the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons R&D team recorded (and edited with extra material such as maps) as they play tested D&D Next rules (an upcoming edition of D&D that will follow 4th Edition) and began watching them on the same weekend that is considered the 40th anniversary of the venerable and seminal fantasy role playing game.
The coincidence was that I didn’t realize it was the D&D 40th until social media told me so and I was already watching along happily when I found out. Yay social media, yay serendipity.
Let me say up front that I haven’t played D&D since 3rd edition and really cut my teeth on 1st Edition back in the proverbial day. I’ve been listening to some audio of 4th Edition gameplay via the Major Spoilers Critical Hit podcast and felt myself torn between nostalgia for what the game used to be and a new set of rules that seemed to be a blend of classic D&D and video game sensibilities.
However, watching the D&D R&D (research and development, not Rodents & Dungeons) team joke, roll play and role play through a 3rd Edition adventure called “The Lich-Queen’s Beloved” that has been converted for D&D Next playtest rules restored my faith that this was still D&D. These guys had fun and it wasn’t overpowered like I was suspecting 4th Edition was, even with them playing 17th level characters.
I’m still not sure I’m cool with my characters “surging”, and man I miss THAC0 cuz I’m old school like that, yet I really like touches such as the bonds and faults and etc that have been added that encourage role playing along with roll playing.
Hopefully you’ll come away with the same sense of learning something new (assuming you are not up on your D&D editions) while laughing with these guys as they joke around and remind you what role playing can be among buddies. The way it ends is pretty classic as well and the DM managed to keep things going when lesser DMs would have cracked and bolted after the derailment began.
I’ll post the embedded videos below, all 5 parts.
The playtesters (at least those that were in the final couple of sessions) were:
- Rodney Thompson: DM (@wotc_rodney)
- Tom Olsen: A cleric that likes to literally bring the house down
- Chris Sims: A surly half something (@ChrisSSims). At one point there was a discussion of whether Chris in real life could rage lift a big table. Why do I enjoy that sort of thing so much?
- Matt Sernett: A wizard that does wizardly things and is kinda sorta scary (@Sernett)
- Greg Bilsland: A fighter I believe, and a bit hard to describe. Arr. (@gregbilsland)
There was also a failed dwarven rapper (yes like an MC rapper) towards the beginning who wore a metal tuxedo for armor but he only lasted one session. You heard that right.
And with no further fuss, grab your popcorn and turn your suspension of disbelief knob to 11 and away we go.
The Lich-Queen’s Beloved, a Comedic Tragedy in 5 Parts