The Other DM
MAY contain SPOILERS for the STORM KING’S THUNDER
“The Lament of the AL Ranger Beast Master”
It has been a long time since I played an RPG. How long, I am not sure. At least a decade.
Welcome back to the world of Dungeons and Dragons! Nobody actually said that, but I like to imagine that Dungeon Master from the first edition AD&D DM’s Guide opening those doors for me once again.
My first game back was a short little adventure where someone had stolen some books from a library. Ended up dying when I shot a baby black dragon in the eye. Dragon breath, even from a baby dragon, is enough to kill a first level character. I should have known better, I remember playing a wizard in 1st edition that had 2 HP.
I don’t recall ever having a character die before, so this was a nice welcome back to the world of D&D. I played D&D back when wizards could end up with 1 HP to start the game, so I had no illusions about my chances of survival. I had never played a bard before and he didn’t last long enough to really say I “played” a bard. The world was not ready for his gothic songs and emo style.
I rejoined the party with a Drow Ranger. Apparently there is a really famous Drow Ranger out there, but I don’t really know much about it. I’ve seen tons of art featuring the dark-skinned Elves and I thought it would be fun to play a race that people did not always trust and accept. So far I have no complaints about the race, although the stereotyping from some of the older players is kind of funny.
Little did I know that the Beast Master archetype is severely underpowered in Adventurer’s League play, so after four months of using this character I am stuck with an animal that stopped being dangerous at level 4. Apparently, everyone knew this, but did not say anything because I was new and they didn’t want to influence my choices. While I am jealous of the other Ranger in our party and his high damage as a Hunter, I have to admit that those weak pets have provided some interesting roleplaying moments. At first I had a giant crab, which I would wear on my head when entering a town. Later on when our adventure took us farther north, I sent my crab back to the sea and made friends with a large bobcat. Many times when we camped for a long rest, my pet Bob woke us up when danger approached. After we gained access to an airship, it became difficult to take my pet Bobcat into combat. I mean the ship CAN land, but climbing up the ropes to make a quick escape was almost impossible with the cat around. I decided to change my pet into something smaller and easier to control; essentially a pet that stayed out of combat and didn’t waste my actions. Now I have a poisonous snake that I wear wrapped around my arm, which makes it a little easier to make a coordinated strike and his poison allows me to add a few more dice to my damage.
When it was time for us to head the Maelstrom, I took a snake, because the poison would add a little extra damage to my attacks. It is very difficult in 5th edition to increase your damage output, so any little boost helps. Apparently the monsters don’t carry gold and magic weapons around with them anymore.
I don’t want to spoil too much of the SKT book, but when we demanded an audience with the regent, we were led to guest rooms to await her summons. As we waited for food to arrive, courtesy of our giant “hosts”, I sent the snake out to do recon, using the BEAST SENSE spell. What I heard was two storm giant princesses command a handful of giant lords to go and murder us. Informing my party of what I had seen and heard, we quickly moved into action. I managed to create a distraction while my party raced passed the giant guards, making their way to the Princess and offering to help her find her father and avenge her mother. The giant guards gave me a nice beating, but not to death and thanks to some smooth roleplaying we got passed a very dangerous chapter in the book. As much as I wish I could do more damage with my attacks, without that little snake we would have been caught off-guard and the four of us would have been forced to face the combined might of a storm giant, a frost giant, a cloud giant, a fire giant and a stone giant. If you’ve never fought a giant, trust me it sucks. They hit hard and rarely miss. There isn’t a pet in the game you can get that can withstand a hit from a giant, even from the stupid Hill Giants. Unfortunately, in Adventurer’s League you can’t rebuild your character after level 5, so I am stuck with a pet for the rest of the campaign. It’s nice to be the guy who does the damage on the team but D&D isn’t a video game. I have a high charisma stat for no reason other than flavor. I just have to think of the pet the same way; as another tool to role-play with. There is one cool attack I am pull off with the snake; if my blade is coated with poison we can do a simultaneous poisoning attack, adding 2d4 damage to both strikes. Sure, I could do more damage with a battle-axe but there are lots of classes that can swing an axe, not everyone can attack with a dagger and a snake. There is something reassuring about a great sword coated in poison.
Until next time, may the dice be ever in your favor.