Dungeons & Distractions

by Emery Joyce profile

Episode 2 of Social Lycanthropy
Fantasy, Humor

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DND Sim, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Seedcomp 2024

Here's my DND story: The longest campaign I've been in ended after two sessions, but not before my character broke both legs jumping off a cliff and had to be carried around in a bag of holding for the rest of the game. I've done a few other oneshots, but nothing much. I've still been exposed to it enough to be familiar with the basic rules. Also, illithids are cool. In Baldur's Gate 3 that new DND game that everyone was raving about there are illithids and you get an illithid tadpole inside your brain and you can romance one and what was I saying again?

Anyway, so this game is heavily remniscient of my own DND experience. DND is complicated. There's all kinds of rules for combat and spells and levels and so on, and it can easily get overwhelming. When I played, sometimes one player's combat turn would take ten minutes while everyone else (myself included) browsed their phones until the rules and rolls finally got hashed out. Everyone was new to the game, including the DM, which didn't help. It's really not that beginner-friendly.

We still had fun, and there were some hilarious moments, but sometimes the tedium outweighed the fun. For not entirely unrelated reasons, I haven't done any kind of TTRPG in a long time.

Our main character at least has her girlfriend Rachel to help her out. Rachel can go a bit too far with the backseat DMing sometimes, but it's nothing too bad. I think the stuff you deal with in the game is mostly par for the course (and much better than what I've heard of on r/rpghorrorstories - now there's a subreddit to go to if you want to burn some time). Sure it has a supernatural bent to it, but players who talk out of character or get into silly arguments or make decisions the DM wasn't preparing for is just most DND sessions, in my limited experience. You have to roll with the punches. Which is what I ended up doing in my playthrough, and despite everything that went on we did make it to the end with some time to spare. (Side note, four hours seems pretty long for a first-time DND game, but I guess it makes sense if you want to play a oneshot all the way through and have someone more experienced to guide you. I personally feel like I'd be bored to death by the end, but this group of players is probably better than my group.)

I do have some UI quibbles that I think could've made the game a smoother experience: you're given info about the characters and the characters' characters (meta!) at the start of the game, but after that you can't really reference the info again, and it can be hard to remember it all. I never figured out exactly what the "Look around the table to see how everyone is doing" thing does - I think it shows you how distracted everyone is, but it's hard to check exactly since it only gives out textual descriptions. I got in the habit of barely checking it since the descriptions often don't change from one "turn" to the next. Also, is the general Distraction meter just for you, or is it for the whole table? If it's just for you, does every character have their own Distraction meter? But only yours is directly visible? Questions I wasn't totally sure about the answers to. Fun game overall, though.

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EJ, April 20, 2024 - Reply
Thanks for the review!

The characters do all have their own distraction meters, which is the variable that determines each of their "look around the table" descriptions. Not explicitly quantifying how they're feeling is a deliberate decision that I'm sticking to, but you're not the only one to find the system as implemented confusing and opaque, so I'm thinking about how to rework it. My current thought is to make it a node that the player is sent to at intervals (every four scenes or so?), instead of a persistent link, which should make it less repetitive and get rid of the "what does this link even do?" problem, but I'm open to suggestions!

(And yeah, it's not really meant to be a noteworthily disastrous session, just a pretty average one that the PC is nervous about because she feels like she doesn't know what she's doing and is an anxious person in general.)
Cerfeuil, April 25, 2024 - Reply
Oh, that makes sense. I think the node thing would make it more clear, yeah, maybe if it was combined with less repetitive status messages? Thank you for your answer!
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