So last night I was privileged enough to play 5E on Google Hangouts with the writer of the blog “Power Score.” If you don’t know what Power Score is but you’ve found my site I have no idea what to tell you. That’s like not knowing what Jaws is but you love Grizzly. GO READ IT. He puts so much effort and detail and useful information into his posts and reviews, you really ought to be reading this site.
I was worried about Google Hangouts but it turned out to be not an issue at all. I’ve found roll20 to be annoying to play with. I can never remember the macros I’m supposed to use to roll dice and its just a hassle. And putting up maps, sweet Jesus, I can never find the token or map I want to use or get it to look right. I’d much rather use Maptools where I have a big searchable library. Google hangouts was perfect because it came straight through to my phone. Great! I plugged the phone in, didn’t have to fuck with a mic or headset and I thought it went pretty damn well.
The writer had put out a call on Twitter to join up with his game and as a fan with an open weekend you say yes to that sort of thing. Not knowing what kind of world I was going into I opted to be a Bard because it’s a strong support class in 5E I’ve never played before. I usually play rogues or warlocks but I didn’t want the stress of being responsible for the party’s damage output. I wanted to do something different since I wasn’t sure if this would be a one shot or what, I figured if I hate it I’ll be something else.
For a Race, against the advice of the internet, I decided to be a Forest Gnome. There were a couple reasons for that, for one thing I didn’t want to be the same race as someone else. Since the Rise of the Half-Elf as one of the most powerful options in 5E you always see two of them in every group. I never like stepping on someone else’s toes or mechanics in a group. I figured no one else would be a gnome. Also in my prep email, the DM asked me why I would know a wizard. So I thought the Gnome Cunning might be important which grants advantage to Int/Wis/Charisma saving throws (so Wisdom Saving Throws). Plus as a bard, that would be where I might pick up the few magic tricks bards do.
The big problem was that 5E gnomes kind of suck as bards. While the 4E Gnome was designed to pair well with the Bard class in 5E they do not hangout at the same parties. Gnomes get a +2 Intelligence, Bards are Charisma casters. Not much to do with that stat. This is mitigated by the fact that I didn’t really care about playing a suboptimal race. As Ivan Drago said, if he dies, he dies. Valar Morghulis. This is doubly true for a one shot character. I don’t even know this person.
This was also mitigated by our good DM. He didn’t tell us what our equipment was or even how we should come up with stats which I really liked. As a DM, I get anxious when people ask me how to do their starting gear. There’s a part of me that wants to say, I don’t know, what do you think your character has? I realize as DM it’s the fuckin’ job to answer that question but I’m content not to ask it. This was resolved for me when I decided that my gnome bard was a runner for this wizard person I was supposed to know. Running messages and errands, dropping off and picking up little parcels. I usually make my own backgrounds but the As Written Urchin Background worked perfectly for my needs. I decided on the standard stat array from the PHB, gave myself a dagger, a harp, and leather armor and considered the character done. For a name I went with Gurn Sirensong, a gnome bad guy from one of my favorite 3.5 books, Exemplars of Evil.
More characterization came as the game got underway. There were two other players, a Half-Orc Warlock and a Halfling Rogue. For reasons probably subconscious, I found myself playing the foil to the halfling rogue. He seemed to play his character as boisterous, knowing, with a confidence bordering on arrogance. If he couldn’t pick a lock it couldn’t be picked! Yeah I had a pretty good dexterity and proficiency in Thieves’ Tools but it would be stepping on that players toes to point this out. I decided that Gurn’s gullibility was his defining character trait. When the big bad of the adventure, an invisible imp, began yelling at him, Gurn assumed this was the voice of some deity calling on him to serve. He preceded to call on the imp’s favor throughout the rest of the adventure, assuming the trials of the dungeon to be tests of faith, and casting himself in the role of Abraham sacrificing a ram in place of his son when the imp demanded he turn on his party members. When the Warlock told him to go draw the imp into a trap, Gurn assumed it was for benign reasons to better glorify his deity. The adventure ended with Gurn in tears choosing his friends over his God as he destroyed the imp with a thunderwave, although I realized the next morning that I fucked up and used one spell more than the two I was supposed to have. Surely this destruction was simply the will of the God ascending to a higher plane of existence.
This was a good use of two hours. If I had to do it over again with the same character I would’ve liked to duplicate the rogue’s talents a bit less but all in all I was pleased with this character and this game. I felt useful as a reliable support character to two high damage characters.