This summer, I started running my own Dungeons & Dragons game for my friends using the 5th edition starter campaign, Lost Mine of Phandelver. It’s a pretty solid opening campaign, especially for a group of people that range from haven’t played in several years to “What’s a d20?” There are plenty of opportunities to learn the ins-and-outs of the Forgotten Realms, how to solve a problem without violence, and what to do when the players go off the rails for a bit. I’ve learned a lot and my players have been really enjoying themselves.

One of the greatest struggles of any D&D campaign, however, is scheduling. With five players and a DM/father to four children, trying to align schedules can be akin to befriending a beholder. Especially during the holidays. After more than a month with no opportunities to play together, we managed to lay our schedules upon the altar of good fortune in a runic pattern capable of opening a gateway to Toril in the Prime Material Plane so that my adventurers could continue their journey. Alas, it was not to be.

Our Druid managed to injure her back and apparently the D&D books don’t actually give you magical powers, despite everything I was told as a child. As such, healing her was not an option and we decided to find an alternate activity for the evening.

Luckily, my cousin (one of my players) decided he would run a one-off campaign for the rest of us. We quickly rolled up a few characters (or grabbed a pre-gen from Wizards’ website) and dove into an Adventurer’s League campaign for a night of mayhem.

One of my favorite aspects of D&D is the collaborative nature of the experience. While the Dungeon Master sets out to guide the players on a journey with delineated plot points, adventure hooks, and designated goals, once the game starts it becomes a joint effort to tell the story. Players often find ways to alter the course of the adventure and force the DM to think on his or her feet. In this particular instance, while being mobbed by a swarm of miniaturized goblins, I decided to keep one as a pet by shoving it in my bags. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that its curse would soon wear off and he would restore to full size. In an effort to keep my new companion, I asked the DM if I could determine the nature of the curse and make it permanent. While explicitly stated within the pages of the adventure that the curse would wear off in time, my cousin let me put the goblin in a confined space and make a Strength check (a die roll with my character’s Strength used to add a bonus on top of that roll) to keep the goblin compressed when the curse wore off, preventing him from returning to full size. My new companion, Pocket the Goblin, gets to travel with me on my journey, all because the DM decided to “Yes, and” instead of “No, but”.

In the end, my character’s choices won’t bear much significance, as our next session will return us to our regularly scheduled campaign. But I still had a blast playing again and have some great ideas for future encounters for my players, thanks to my brief stint as an adventurer. I’m looking forward to digging out the Dwarven Warlock, Thu’udin Hjalgrim, for his next excursion, whatever it may be. He was a lot of fun to play, and I hope his future journeys are filled with laughter in the face of darkness.

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