5th Edition Session Zero

Yesterday evening my players and I met to speak about D&D 5th Edition, the Tal’Dorei setting, and eventually create their characters. I was actually surprised how much thought the players have already put into their characters. Overall everyone was quite excited and pretty quickly everyone had a solid concept for their characters.

We actually didn’t talk that much about Tal’Dorei, but focused more on the mechanical aspects of the game and what races and classes were available for player characters. Initially I planned to restrict the race choices to what was listed in the Tal’Dorei book, but when someone mentioned their interest in playing a Kenku rogue, I decided to allow it. Overall I have decided to give my players much more leeway when it comes to what was available to them. In the past I have probably been a bit to restrictive and in a way too protective of my vision of the campaign, but this time I wanted to be more open to their ideas. And in the end I am sure it will make them much more invested in the game which is a win for all sides.

After about 3 and a half hours of talking, laughing, number crunching, and character planning we had the following lineup: a dragonborn sorcerer, a tiefling wizard, a kenku rogue, a drow warlock, and a tiefling blood hunter. Oh my! Aside from the dragonborn sorcerer, which is lawful good, the others have more “flexible” morals, but I asked them not to make outright evil characters. One player couldn’t make it yesterday because his car broke down on the weekend, so we have another character to create before the party is complete.

At the moment the party doesn’t have a dedicated healer, so I have to be careful not to cause a TPK in the first session, but if we’re careful this shouldn’t be an issue in the long run. We already scheduled the first real session, which means I have now about one month to come up with their first adventure, prepare handouts, and create any maps needed. We agreed to try to schedule a session every month, which is a pretty relaxed pace, which suits me fine at this moment.

We also talked briefly about the tone of the game. With the character choices they already told me they are interested in a rather dark game, which suits me fine, and we also decided that intrigue and politics may be a thing, but definitely not the focus. Aside from that I can basically throw at them what I wish. At this moment I am cautiously optimistic when it comes to this new campaign. A lot of campaigns have failed in the past, or I have burned out way too quickly. But this time, I am way more relaxed and my players seem to be genuinely invested. Things are looking good!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

2 thoughts on “5th Edition Session Zero”

  1. With your players how much impact does the characters race have on their role playing? I am only asking as I have often found that with my main group race colours their choices for the first few sessions but after that the characters start to adopt the players personalities and all vestige of race just disappears.

    With your group you could easily imagine a relationship forming between the two tieflings , for instance, for good or for bad.

    1. Hmm, that’s not an easy question to answer. Especially because race (even in a fantasy roleplaying game) is a complicated subject. Personally I find the notion that all members of a race share certain personality traits extremely simplistic at best. The character’s history and culture probably has much more impact on their personality than their race. Should every dwarf be greedy and grumpy, because that’s a common cliché? I don’t think so.

      I don’t mind if players choose character races based on looks and mechanical aspects alone – especially in a game like D&D. I also don’t mind if a character’s personality is getting closer to a player’s personality over time. As long as it’s fun for the players, it’s ok with me.

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