Meet the Party: D&D5e Back to Basics

For the old hands it’s sometimes difficult to remember what it was like when we first got started. You had whatever starter weapons you’d managed to hang on to or find in your previous life, a couple of gold pieces, a few spells at your fingertips if you were magically inclined, and the clothes on your back. Not for you, yet, were stories of grand heroism or dire villains. Instead there was the tavern in the bad part of town, with whatever work you could find that might pay enough for your next meal and maybe some better gear. So, for old times’ sake and for the truly new to the trade, let’s Meet the Party all the way back at Level 1 for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

It’s been quite some time since I found myself with a Level 1 character on the table in front of me, and the Meet the Party tradition for D&D has been for most parties to start at Level 3, allowing the characters to have a bit more going on and to come into their own. But I’ve had the basic Level 1 character on the mind a lot lately. Partly that’s out of a bit of whimsy; it’s been more than a year since I played a D&D character starting at Level 1, and there’s something to be said for starting at the bottom of the ladder and climbing your way up. Mostly, though, it’s because I have an opportunity coming up to introduce some new players to the game.

BoardGame Empire is a lovely little community/business that got started in Boston a little while back. They’ve got a few ideas up their sleeves, but the heart of what they’re doing is a weekly board game night at the Elephant & Castle every Monday. Long a fan of the Society’s own Rob Almond’s efforts with his Bracebridge Tabletop Gaming Community, I was quite happy to see BGE get started up, never mind that I’m friends with the folks running the thing. You don’t get more people interested in these types of hobbies by looking at games on the shelf with a deep sense of longing; you build the community (and have fun doing it) by getting out and playing games!

Jonathan Krieger and Co. are of course very interested in doing the best they can with BGE, so now and then they pass out little questionnaires asking about how they could improve things. Thinking of Rob’s Community and of Games on Demand, I wrote about maybe having a roleplaying game night alongside the usual board games. Didn’t think much past the ‘it could be cool’ part, but lo and behold a few weeks later Jonathan gets in touch, and suddenly I’m going to be the DM for Dungeons & Dragons for First-Time Players! The event in question will be November 28th, and will consist of two short games. Complete, ready to play character sheets will be prepared for a group of five players, dice will be provided, and I’ll be running everyone through a short scenario that’ll show off what you can do in and with the game. Well, I had already been thinking about Level 1 characters, and now I had to make a bunch of them. So, why not Meet the Party in the process?

Jandar Galanodel, Half-Elf – Level 1 Bard

Hit Point (HP): 10  Armor Class (AC): 13

Strength (Str): Constitution (Con): 14

Dexterity (Dex): 15 Intelligence (Int): 12 

Wisdom (Wis): 10 Charisma (Cha): 17

Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Skill Versatility (Persuasion, Perception), Extra Language, Spellcasting, Bardic Inspiration (d6), Background: Entertainer, By Popular Demand

Gear: Rapier, Entertainer’s Pack, Lute, Leather Armor, Dagger, Flute, Favor from an Admirer, Costume, Belt Pouch with 15 GP

Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, Perception, Deception, Insight, Stealth, Acrobatics, Performance

Tool Proficiencies: Lute, Flute, Drum, Disguise Kit, Bagpipes

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma

Cantrips: Dancing Lights, Vicious Mockery

Spells: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Healing Word, Thunderwave

Jandar Galanodel is the ‘face’ of the party, the one best suited for overcoming social challenges and talking the party into and out of trouble. That’s not all the bard can do, of course. While the bard’s spells offer a few extra tricks in social situations, they also allow for detecting magic, attacking enemies with a magically-infused word, and even with healing Jandar’s allies. Bardic Inspiration allows Jandar or an ally to add 1d6 to a roll, increasing the chance of success. If all else fails, Jandar’s pretty good with a blade.

Kerri Dundragon, Human – Level 1 Wizard

HP: 8  AC: 12

Str: Con: 14 Dex: 15 Int: 16 Wis: 13 Cha: 11

Racial/Class/Background Features: Spellcasting, Arcane Recovery, Background: Sage, Two Extra Languages, Researcher

Gear: Dagger, Component Pouch, Explorer’s Pack, Spellbook, Bottle of Black Ink, Quill, Small Knife, Letter from a Dead Colleague, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Insight, Arcana, History

Tool Proficiencies: N/A

Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom

Cantrips: Mage Hand, Light, Ray of Frost

Spells: Burning Hands, Charm Person, Feather Fall, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Sleep

Kerri Dundragon is as a wizard should be, the magical powerhouse of the party. In the worst case scenario the wizard isn’t actually bad with a dagger, but really it’s all about the magic. From the cantrips that can be cast as many times are as needed to the more powerful spells, Kerri can provide force, flame, and frost to bring down the party’s enemies. There are some interesting utility spells as well, however, that can do things like lifting heavy objects, protecting Kerri from attacks, and putting targets to sleep.

Amber Ironfist, Hill Dwarf – Level 1 Cleric

HP: 12  AC: 18

Str: 13 Con: 16 Dex: 8 Int: 10 Wis: 16 Cha: 12

Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Dwarven Resilience, Dwarven Combat Training, Bonus Profiency: Smith’s Tools, Dwarven Toughness, Spellcasting, Divine Domain: Life, Bonus Proficiency: Heavy Armor, Disciple of Life, Background: Acolyte, Two Extra Languages, Shelter of the Faithful

Gear: Warhammer, Chain Mail Mail, Javelin, Priest’s Pack, Shield, Holy Symbol, Prayer Book, 5 Sticks of Incense, Vestments, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 15 GP

Skill Proficiencies: History, Medicine, Insight, Religion

Tool Proficiencies: N/A

Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma

Cantrips: Guidance, Sacred Flame, Spare the Dying

Spells: Guiding Bolt, Shield of Faith, Healing Word, Purify Food and Water, Bless, Cure Wounds

Amber Ironfist is here to help the party survive and carry on through to victory, all with the help of a deity. The cleric is the primary healer of the party, using Spare the Dying to prevent the worst and Cure Wounds and Healing Word to sooth away injuries. Amber also has some offensive magic, sending out holy fire and light to smite the party’s enemies. The cleric isn’t the best at swinging that warhammer, but is a much harder target to hit than most of the party.

Bree Thorngage, Lightfoot Halfling – Level 1 Rogue

HP: 8  AC: 14

Str:Con: 10 Dex: 17 Int: 13 Wis: 12 Cha: 15

Racial/Class/Background Features: Lucky, Brave, Halfling Nimbleness, Naturally Stealthy, Expertise (Deception, Stealth), Sneak Attack, Thieves’ Cant, Background: Criminal, Criminal Contact

Gear: Shortswod, Shortbow with 20 Arrows, Burglar’s Pack, Leather Armor, Dagger x2, Thieves’ Tools, Crowbar, Dark Common Cloths Including a Hood, Belt Pouch with 15GP

Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Investigation, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, Deception, Stealth

Tool Proficiencies: Cards, Thieves’ Tools

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Intelligence

Bree Thorngage is, in a way, among the deadliest (if not thedeadliest) members of the party. That’s because there is little more dangerous than an attack you don’t see coming. Thanks to Sneak Attack whenever Bree catches someone by surprise, teams up with a fellow party member, or otherwise catches the target at a disadvantage, the little rogue can deal extra damage. Bree also has access to a number of skills and equipment unique in the party and not technically welcome in polite society, all of which can come in handy.

Thokk, Half-Orc – Level 1 Fighter

HP: 12 AC: 19

Str: 17 Con: 15 Dex: 8 Int: 10 Wis: 13 Cha: 12

Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Menacing (Intimidation Proficiency), Relentless Endurance, Savage Attack, Fighting Style: Defense, Second Wind, Background: Soldier, Military Rank

Gear: Chain Mail, Longsword, Shield, Handaxe x2, Dungeoneer’s Pack, Insignia of Rank, Trophy Taken From a Fallen Enemy, Deck of Cards, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP

Skill Proficiencies: Intimidation, Insight, Perception, Athletics

Tool Proficiencies: Cards, Vehicles (Land)

Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution

Thokk is by far the toughest member of the party, a living tank on legs with a longsword. Being tied for highest HP and with the highest AC in the party would probably be enough, but Relentless Endurance lets the fighter recover from going down and Second Wind allows self-healing. Thokk might not be able to target more than one person at a time but will be dangerously competent at it, with Savage Attack making any critical hits even more damaging.

As more experienced hands will be able to tell, I’ve kept this lot pretty straightforward. Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard just like all the old parties, with the Bard for some added flavor. I have also picked out what spells the magic users know and/or have prepared, so there’s pretty much nothing left for the players to do except start playing!

No Who The Are or How They Interact this time. I’ll be choosing personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws provided by their backgrounds and adding them to the character sheets for Who They Are. As for How They Interact, well, this is a party quite possibly on its first job together, so that one will be up to the players!

If you happen to be near Boston on November 28th, swing by the Elephant & Castle. If you’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons, or any roleplaying game at all for that matter, I’ll be there to guide you through a quick game that’ll hopefully give you a taste for this awesome hobby (and I’ll explain anything of the above that you don’t understand, I promise).  Even if you’re not, if you’re truly new to D&D find yourself a DM (or try becoming one yourself) and take these characters on an adventure! And if you’re an old hand, why not go back to Level 1 one more time, just to remind yourself how much fun it was?

Will our newcomers to the adventuring trade start off on the right foot or never get out of that first tavern? That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!

You can check out BoardGame Empire and the Dungeons & Dragons for First-Time Players event at the links above, or on Twitter @PlayBGEmpire.

Originally posted 11/11/16 on the Mad Adventurers Society!

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