There’s a very important reason for the increasing delay between my Let’s Read Hell’s Rebels posts: for the past few months I’ve been GMing a Dungeon Fantasy campaign.
It all started, ironically, when a friend of mine invited a bunch of people to start a D&D 5th Edition game. He had just acquired a copy of Tales From the Yawning Portal, the book that adapts a lot of older adventures to 5th edition, and wanted to make a casual campaign out of it. I accepted because I liked the idea of participating in a game as a player for once and I didn’t actively dislike vanilla D&D 5th.
This was a weekly game, taking place over Google Hangouts every Sunday morning. It went relatively well for a while. We plowed through Sunless Cidatel and much of Forge of Fury in pure dungeon-crawl mode. One day, though, it happened that only the GM, me, and another player managed to make it into the session, and we found out the hard way how essential numbers are in this edition of D&D.
A fight that should have been something of a speedbump to a party of 4-5 turned into a nearly fatal encounter for a duo, and so we became convinced that it was pointless to make a go at any of the actual set-piece encounters in front of us.
So I ended up proposing an alternate game for when we didn’t have a full party for D&D. I had just acquired both the Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed set and the original Ravenloft module for AD&D, so I proposed a game of DFRPG Ravenloft.
I figured DFRPG delvers would be strong enough to make some progress even when we had a reduced party, and I had a handy list of GURPSified Pathfinder Iconics for them to pick from so that was character creation taken care of.
Pretty much the whole D&D party picked their DFRPG characters - we had Valeros the Fighter, Harsk the Ranger, Kyra the Cleric, Ezren the Wizard, and Seelah the Paladin. The week after that, I GMed the introductory session following the guidelines in the module, and went all-out in roleplaying it and narrating things.
They loved it. It seems at least one of the players was genuinely scared. I’m not bragging about my own skills - rather, I’m saying OG Ravenloft is that good.
There was never an officially announced decision or anything, but our “D&D” group never played another D&D session after that. The backup GURPS Ravenloft game became our main event. I never set out to do this intentionally, but I can’t say I’m not happy with the result.
Tune in next time to learn how Ravenloft claimed yet another party of unwary adventurers.