D&D - The other side of the table

February 15, 2012

Now that the DM role in my group has been transferred, I finally had the opportunity to approach 4th edition as a player, and, well, it was fantastic.

I don't really want to gush on and on about this, but a little setup: I was playing an invoker (controller role) with 3 others: a melee striker, and two leaders - one optimized to support me and the other optimized to support the striker. We all started at level 6, sort of continuing the power progression of the previous campaign. And the synergy between our abilities was just sick. As this was his first time out, the DM's encounters landed a little on the easy side, but we quite simply obliterated them, waltzing through one without taking a point of damage.

I encountered joy of a different variety than I usually do sitting on the other side of the table. As a DM, I love to create. I love engineering encounters that really make the players think on their feet and then watching them try and do so when we actually sit down and play. But I design my monsters to be defeated. If my creations turn around and start obliterating the players, that makes me sad. I'm playing a game that I have set up to lose every time, so it is beneficial that I simply enjoy having other people experience my creativity.

I mean, I'm not creating an epic Flash RPG and giving it away for free solely so that I can play it. I'm doing it because I want others to experience the joy of playing a great game.

And so let me tell you, there is joy in simply sitting back and playing, even if the encounters are relatively mundane. Having a whole host of abilities set out before you and figuring out which are the best to use in conjunction with the powers of your teammates to achieve maximum effect...well, it was a glory to behold. The highlight was when I used a minor to pull the shaman/warlord closer to me so that he was in range to use a move action that allowed me to shift closer to the striker so that I was close enough to him that the shaman could drop an encounter that let us both use basic attacks. I attacked first to slide a monster in range of the striker's blade, which he used to mow down the foe. It wasn't a tremendous attack that destroyed everything in it's path (though I did have some of those, as well), but it was enough damage to drop the foe and the choreography of it was just beautiful and highly satisfying.

Obviously playing anything new for the first time is going to get your brain excited. We were all happy to be trying out new characters. But I think there is a real draw in the dynamics of the game when it is played with the in-depth thoughtfulness that my group plays with (most of the time). All I can say at this point is that I am really looking forward to sitting down and playing again this Saturday, and if the DM follows through on this threat to ramp up the difficulty, I think I'll be looking forward to games for a long time to come.


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