At some point when I was playing D&D with Mythic, I was walking around a mall when I came across a calendar shop that sold board games on the side. One of them was a D&D Starter Box. Back then, D&D was in it’s fourth edition, the one where people agreed that it played more like an MMO than it did an RPG. I was unaware at the time, but D&D’s fourth edition was in its twilight years, as the version that would eventually become fifth edition, D&D Next, was in production.
Regardless, I bought the box, took it home, and realized its solo capabilities. Almost as soon as I was done doing the Mythic D&D experiment, I was right back into the fray. Rereading the liveblog I made so many years ago, it definitely falls in line with the writing I do now, to the point where it might be better for me to copy and paste snippets of the blog. So I will, but it’ll be in quotes so you get a better idea of where the old blog ends and the new blog begins.
Our story begins with our main hero being escorted to Fallcrest by a Dwarven Merchant for reasons the player will answer themselves. They give some good examples, but I personally think that he’s being sent to get executed. Suddenly Goblins. Lots of them. The game then asks you what the hero does. Does he swing a sword at the goblins? Does he cast a magic spell to either heal the merchant or hurt the goblins? Or does he sneak and backstab the goblins? This is actually how you determine your class, and I find that really interesting.
The book actually tells its own story and plays it in the style of a Choose Your Own Adventure sort of game, with different options of how to do stuff. What do I mean? Well, later on, in the middle of the hero’s first battle, you get to roll the dice for any actions he would do. Attack? Roll a die. Defend? Roll a die. Spell? Dice time. The book will say what happens if you roll over or under your target number in the “if you roll [x] or better, go to [y]” sort of way. It’s this sort of gameplay style that I was talking about in the “Let’s Learn About D&D” liveblog, especially since it actually walks you through creating your character. It addresses my two major flaws with the webpage and makes it fun.
Asides from the four options clearly detailed to say “if you want to be this class, go here”, there’s another option which is basically run and hide. If you actually take that option, the game will just slap your hand and go “no.”, then tell you to choose another option. Though it talks about how it’s a bad choice like so: “Being a coward isn’t heroic, you pussy! Go back and pick a better choice!” I know it’s standard for Choose Your Own Adventures to have the pages where it tells you “No. That’s not the right option!” and forces you to go back to the choices before you, but usually this kind of railroading is discouraged by lots of people. I would have had it so that the game just has the person hide… but the goblins find him/her anyway and force the fight that way. Give them an illusion that they’re off the rails rather than tell them to stick to it, y’know?
So the hero’s fight begins and it walks you through how to write up your character, telling you what stats your character already has midfight. It’s rather interesting. Basically they all do the same thing: Show off the major feature of the class, Eskimo nut kicking from the hero and goblins ensue, and finally a mysterious rider comes just as the goblins leave, seemingly pissed about their failure to steal the wagon. I actually thought the Rider saved the hero ala Obi Wan saving Luke from the Raiders. Then I thought how cool it would be for the Rider to join the party.
Anyways, after the fight, the game tells you about healing surges which probably would have saved my characters’ asses in the liveblogs (as would the Constitution Rank + certain number = Health rule) and after that, the dwarf gives you a sidequest (great. Using CRPG terms for a TRPG game. This will end well.) to go recover his lost box that was stolen by the goblins. When I first read this, I actually had a list of priorities for my character, top one being get to Fallcrest to meet up with someone. However, when I decided to get back into the wagon, the game insists I take the quest. When I refuse, the game just slaps my wrist and barks “No!” again, saying how this is a hook I should bite on, and uses the “you’re supposed to be a hero!” excuse back at the beginning.
This is actually where the alignment system kicks in. If you were stubborn with the merchant or only told him you’ll do the quest if he forks up the money, then the alignment is “Unaligned”. If you accept the man’s offer out of the sake of helping him, then the alignment is “Good”. Accepting the offer if just to bring the Goblins in For Great Justice nets you the “Lawful Good” alignment. The game also offers you the options of an “Evil” and “Chaotic Evil” alignment as well, but if you pick those, the game, you guessed it, slaps your wrist and barks “No!” Heck, they don’t even ask if you want to be a Chaotic Good or Lawful Evil character, though that’s mainly 4th Edition’s doing.
I do understand, however, where they’re going with this. They’re training whoever reads this, which is going to probably be people who are new to Dungeons and Dragons, to understand the basic methods and themes of D&D, which is meant to be a fantasy story with heroes in it. If you are a coward, you can’t really be considered a hero. If you refuse the requests to help someone in need, you can’t really be considered a hero. If you want to be a total dick to your friends, you can’t really be considered a hero. At this point, it’s not telling someone “don’t ruin the fun for everyone else!” but instead telling them “The point of this game is to be a hero, not a coward or a jerk.” And for that, I give kudos.
The game then works with you to write up a good chunk of your character sheet (your skills and attributes) to play out the next phase, which is using your skills to achieve certain tasks. Basically, you have two quests to take, though they both lead you to the same end: Find the rider and who he is, or get the box. Your beginning choices for this phase is to look at the rider’s horse tracks, try and find where the goblins went off to, or go Batman and interrogate a dying goblin.
My personal advice is to go with the latter, since there’s no chance of you triggering an attack from the goblins unless you manage to botch up the roll and kill the dying goblin (you need to heal him to interrogate him), and you manage to find out the rider’s identity. The rider’s name is Malareth, and to my initial disappointment, he’s the guy who sent the Goblins in the first place (Okay, it’s really a bugbear named Kurrash, but he takes orders from Malareth as well) and you have the option to Pet the Dog by healing the Goblin if you did a successful Diplomacy check.
After that, you fill out more of your sheet, which now details all the benefits your race and class give you, as well as picking out a feat and getting items. And now, we begin the battle. Our hero, a Human Fighter named Hugh Mann, is now out in the caves.
The battle in question is breaking down the battle into skill checks and attack checks, so I’ll go about that the normal way.
The Goblins needed to make a Perception check (fun fact, this Edition is where the sensory checks like Spot and Listen are condensed into Perception) but they fail and I make the theory that they were smoking their version of weed and that the hero is a psychopath out to kill Goblins for the blood god. However, it comes down to the point where I end up ending the fight because it felt like Eskimo nut kicking. The battle was brutal and the book uses that as an in-story excuse as to why the player, who had been playing solo at this point, now needs to get players involved. It’s a pretty interesting segue to the GM book for sure and an even better cliffhanger for a solo player to make three more characters to continue playing.
Guess which route I took? Most of the characters don’t have any sort of huge backstory like the last game, but they were varied. Hugh Mann, the character I played as, was a Human Fighter. The others were fairly standard: Elf Wizard, Dwarf Rogue, and Halfling Cleric… Whoops! At the time, I didn’t realize the standard formula for what Race fits which Class thematically, so that led to an interesting mix where the big, bulky Dwarf was a sneaky guy while the small, tiny Hobbit was a healer. Fighter and Wizard got their proper Races, though that might be due to how I harkened back to the days of Redgar and Aramil.
And so, we begin the game proper.
When we last left off the liveblog, our hero, Hugh Mann, was too much of a pussy to be handling shit on his own, so he goes back and drags along three other people, who I will consider mercenaries. So, shall we return?
We switch books to continue with the story, and now we’re following the Dungeon Master’s book, as it tells us just what a Dungeon Master is. Basically, if you’ve seen one “What a GM is” section, you seen them all. To sum up, you’re the guy who tells the story, points out the rules, and controls the baddies. They also explain how you can change the DM role every now and then and give someone else a chance to run the dungeons, though also tells them that being DM doesn’t mean being the antagonist to the heroes, or trying to win.
The book also explains that we’re picking up where we last left off for the Player’s Book. From here, it begins to play out like a classic Dungeons and Dragons game, with a DM and 3-4 players. It sums up what will happen, like the fact that your characters will go to the 2nd level by the end of the adventure. Provided they make it to the end, that is. Oh, and there’s also a setting detail at the end if you’re interested in the lore.
The book also explains a bit about how adventures could work, be it a Monster of the Week style story, or a story with a Myth Arc. And then the book proceeds to shill some other books for you to buy. And yet, the books are more cheaper than the Warhammer 40k Starter Set. There’s also some tips for the DM to have, but they’re basic. When in doubt, make it up. Don’t play favourites. Be fair. Pay attention. That sort of thing.
I should probably explain that Warhammer 40K nod. The mall had a small Games Workshop store that I visited and at one point, I decided to play their in-store demo. It felt fun, cinematic, and really hooked me in. When I decided to buy into the game, they told me of the Starter Set… Then promptly warned me of its high price tag. Were it not for the asking price of about 200 bucks, I might have become a Wargamer instead of a Roleplayer. Imagine that.
And so we begin with our first encounter… Outside of the Eskimo nut kick contest in the caves, that didn’t count, apparently. Anyways, our heroes are now on the road, and suddenly they get ambushed by goblins and wolves.
This is where I decided to be a little creative with the set, as they gave me a map to play the game on. I used the Wizard to get onto the rock and stab into one of the Wolves, thus prompting me to use the prototype of the Advantage system in 5e: adding +2 to a roll.
I can understand why they made the switch. Adding a +2 to a die roll would work in games where you’re rolling dice with less faces, like Powered By The Apocalypse, where +2 to your 2d6 could very well mean the difference between rolling a success and rolling a critical, but not in a game where the most common dice you roll has twenty faces. It only increases your odds of succeeding by about 5-10%. I say 5 because this doesn’t change the fact that one of the faces you’ll roll on is a 1, which in most cases (if not all cases if you house rule the idea of Natural 1s being skill fails as well), is a failure.
Advantage, on the other hand, increases your chances significantly. You roll two dice and take the highest of the two, which helps big time. That 5% chance of rolling a 1? It’s now a 0.25%. You’re almost guaranteed to roll a high number and even more likely to roll that critical. However, it’s very powerful and handing these out whenever your characters get even a minor edge over the opponent or task seems like overkill.
Perhaps they could have used both methods. The +2 would be for using minor advantages, such as using a rock to have the higher ground, and using the highest of two dice would be for major advantages, such as two wolves ganging up on you.
Speaking of, one thing I liked about this Edition is that it gives you suggestions on what the monsters should do. For instance, the wolves we were fighting took advantage of their Pack Tactics. I kinda want that for 5E, but I guess we traded tactics for lore when switching editions. The encounter ends with a party member heavily injured and me wondering what the point of the battle was.
In retrospect, I felt as though it was to introduce the other players to D&D, GM included, as the solo player had a crash course with the first book, but the others didn’t.
So, that encounter was there for… I don’t know why. After that, it just talks about how to run Dungeons and Dragons and the phases of the game. I’m not gonna bore you with the details (after all, you came for the dungeoning, I assume), but basically it gives you all you need to know about DMing the adventure set before you. There are five modes:
- Setup Mode: Where you and the others set up the adventure before you by you telling the intro of the adventure to them and by the players buying supplies.
- Exploration Mode: Where you describe the dungeon before your players and ask them what they wish to discover first.
- Conversation Mode: Where your players will talk to NPCs.
- Encounter Mode: Where combat and skill challenges take place.
- And finally, Passing Time Mode: Where you rest up.
After that it tells you why the system for D&D is called the D20 system, and then it goes into a lot of detail over how combat works, because hey, D&D is combat orientated. It basically explains a whole lot about combat, but for now I’m skipping it, though a quick skim is recommended. We now begin our adventure, which is called The Twisting Halls, in which the basic story behind it is that minotaurs built a large temple honouring four noble gods, while having a fifth hidden shrine dedicated to the Prince of Demons. Needless to say, the noble gods were pissed when they found out and kicked their asses out. Then it became populated by goblins and then Malareth took over the temple and used it for necromancy.
The quest is to retrieve a small wooden box that the goblins stole from the Dwarven merchant Traevus. It also tells me that people get 100 XP for completing a quest, and I pretty much had Hugh achieve the Find out the Rider quest, so…
[100 EXP EARNED!]
That, and it seemed I had to divvy up the EXP earned between the four people. I knew that it was just too easy for Hugh to reach Level 2 by the middle of the adventure (he was already at 650 by the time I found this out) That won’t be a problem. It’s only 350 EXP they gained.
[TOTAL EXP TO DIVVY: 87.5]
Or not. Well, to make them even out, I’ll have it be 85 experience. Oh, and action points. Yay. They also tell us that you should inform the players to decide on a time to rest up to regain healing surges and daily powers. After an introductory blurb, we present the player a choice between Encounter 1 or Encounter 2, further stating that the previous encounters don’t count. Well, I usually like to go in order, especially since this is a liveblog soooooooooooo… WHAT’S BEHIND DOOOOOOOOOOR NUMBER OOOOOOOOOONEEEEEEEE!?
An encounter with not one, not two, but three goblins! Hey, Gobby escaped and became a monster for this encounter! Oh, and there’s also a horse as well…
The battle begins with the Goblin releasing a Guard Drake while two other Goblins tip over some Braziers to light the heroes on fire. The battle was pretty brutal, leading to the first character death. At one point, I decided to have a Goblin escape on a horse, then replace the dead wizard with a new character. Not sure if I just renamed the old character or made a new one whole cloth via the rulebooks. While I like the writing style I had, for this, where I was riffing on the events like I’m watching a movie, it’s very hard to understand what I did out of character.
So, after a fiery battle (pun intended), the new character predicts that the party will die in a chess field after looking into a pond and seeing a room further into the dungeon. I noticed in the next section that I was getting bored. From what I was reading though, it seemed pretty epic. You had people being set on fire, horses running off, new people coming out of the blue. Add in Mythic and you’d have a rather epic encounter on your hands.
The new character, whose name is Adran, who I nicknamed Agent Smith because his art kinda looked like Agent Smith, tells us that he was old pals with Malareth, but got screwed over in his newest deal so he wants to stab him in the back. We then get another encounter, but this time with Kobolds.
Now, I kinda like the Minion idea, where monsters have 1 HP. It allows you to pit yourself against multiple opponents without worrying about having attacks do little damage to them. Given how the Goblin encounters were very brutal, it would have been much better to have the Kobold minions be the starting challenge.
At some point, I did give the characters… well, character. Adran kept stealing Darerris’s kills. Darerris being the Dwarven Rogue. I also had Hollyhana, the Halfling Cleric, go around some statues during the battle to worship them, as they were the statues of the gods. The group then go and meet a dragon (because it wouldn’t be an early solo game of D&D without the obligatory dragon). They proceed to what I feel is one of the better parts of D&D 4E: Skill Challenges.
These are where roleplaying shines the brightest, as instead of battling, the players must utilize their abilities and roleplay to get past difficulties. These are stuff like Hollyhana referring to Bahamut to try and sweet talk the White Dragon (I pointed how bizarre this was in the original post) while Adran tells the group how the dragon was also screwed out of the deal by Malareth. The Dragon seems almost convinced to help them… Until Darerris screws up in stealing from him and we have combat. Because it isn’t a game of D&D without the rogue screwing up.
As for how difficult the dragon is… Well, I’ll let past me describe the situation:
The good news is we don’t have to fight him. We can just escape. The bad news is we have to run to the exit. The good news is two of my characters are near the exit. The bad news is my two other characters aren’t. The good news is that it’s the Wizard and the Cleric, who can take on the dragon. The bad news is that the Dragon has a strong attack range. The good news is that if this is a Total Party Kill, I’ll just reset it so that the Dragon is cool with Darerris taking the magic armor (that’s what I was aiming for). The bad news is that then I just rejected reality and substituted my own.
While Hugh, Hollyhana, and Darerris get out safely, Adran was not so lucky and was killed by the dragon. I decided to stop rolling up wizards and let them continue without one. The next room seems pretty intriguing as it’s mostly a trap-based room. Namely pit traps. It’s basically a battle with some dire rats and goblins that doesn’t get too exciting until Adran comes back as it turns out he wasn’t killed by the dragon and was instead told to leave as soon as Malareth is dead.
After that room, the group enters the chess room that Adran had seen the vision of. It’s here that my past self has a rather interesting insight on the dungeon:
When we last left off our heroes, they stomped a hole in a rat and made an actual hole somewhere else. Oh, and Agent Smith is alive. Now we play chess… Although I noticed something when I was setting up this encounter.
Each of these encounters had set up something about the game. The first encounter set up just that: the encounter. The next encounter explored dungeon crawling, the second encounter in the dungeon discussed Skill Challenges, and the previous room was the first encounter with traps. They’re pretty much teaching the DM all the necessarily features to a typical dungeon crawl/adventure, but they don’t do it in a way that feels like a Kingdom Hearts tutorial and have the book directly talk to you and say “Now we’ll learn how to employ traps in your game!”
So what does this room employ? Well, from what I have read in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, puzzles. And the feature in this is a pretty good sounding match at that. Players enter a chess-like room, and once they enter, they’re locked into a certain chess piece’s movement. Failure to move like chess pieces do will result in getting Mind Raped. No, seriously, move the wrong way, and you get five psychic damage.
Of course, our characters don’t know that… though… Yeah. Remember how they have a guy who used to be in cahoots with the Big Bad and current owner of the dungeon? Yeah. It would be too easy for him to go “Hey, this room has traps,” so I’m gonna test his knowledge on the dungeon to know this, and since he’s been in the dungeon quite a few times, I’ll do medium DC.
Admittedly, it was a pretty fun puzzle, even if I bent some of the rules (like having the chess pieces be “captured”) and I had thought about pitting monsters against each other in a skirmish… Hmmmmmmm….
Anyways, the group then encounter some thugs who have rather unique abilities. No, not like X-Men, but rather they’re able to “mark” an enemy and so, when they’re about to hurt one of their allies, they can interrupt them with an attack of their own. You know, for as much as people rag on about 4E, it had some rather creative monsters.
The battle intensifies as one of the thugs manages to backstab one of his allies, only to reveal that it’s a Doppelganger by the name of Jixin, who, like Adran, the Dragon, and the dwarf fellow from the beginning of the game, also had dirty dealings with Malareth, but we get some more backstory on it. It turns out he gotten crazy after exploring the dungeon and the others were slowly and surely cut out of a huge deal that he had put them all in.
So, basically Malareth dun goofed and this story’s protagonist is really Adran. Okay, if I wrote this as a story, this might be an okay story… Anyways, there’s the penultimate battle with Malareth’s second-in-command, Kurrash. But really, I think I’m more interested in this possibly being the final battle of Gobby, a goblin who kept escaping the party at every battle.
As it turns out, he managed to escape to the next room after Kurrash tips an urn over and burns a majority of his own party. Kurrash tries to escape as well, but is bolted to death with some Magic Missiles. And then, the final battle.
The final battle.
Okay, so first off, Malareth is a necromancer. He has an aura that buffs Undead creatures as well as a damaging burst attack that deals 2d8 necromantic damage. He also has a Ray of Immobilization, which stuns people when hit and a bone staff that gives him 5 temporary hit points every time he hits with it. He has a hulking zombie who has 70 HP and packs a wallop. Then you have three skeletons who are at AC 19 and gain +2 to their attack roll and a D6 to their damage roll if they get an opportunity attack.
And these characters were still at Level 1.
There’s some banter between Adran and Malareth, but Malareth is crazy as hell so he just sends his goons out on the party. Despite having the upper hand, my party still fell to the zombie horde (okay, technically not true, Adran used a powerful fire-based spell that killed Hugh), all while I decided to be meta again and have Malareth address me directly.
So, here’s the skimmy of the plot. Malareth had access to a skull called the Eternal Skull of Jokers. It effectively acts as a tool for him to ask yes or no questions, which he uses to kill the dragon the party met earlier and the Cleric-Wizard-Fighter-Rogue hybrid that I made back during the first game of D&D I played.
Malareth then turns the skull on me and zaps me, causing me to vanish as the skull declares take two of the Mythic test…
More on that next time, though Past Me would like to give a few words on the Starter Box as a whole.
Assuming we did beat Malareth, we would have taken the skull (It’s a human skull, not the cyber skull, though that’s obvious) to Traevus. We could call him out for having a box filled with a skull full of necromantic power, but he insists that he was just taking it to some monks to destroy it… And then the RPG more or less suggests that it’s Blatant Lies and he’s trying to seize power. Everyone would have gained a level and we’d be advised on which skills to take when we levelled, though we had to buy another book to get past second level. There’s also a small blurb telling you about what kind of players there are, which is the abridged version of 4th Edition’s first DM Guide’s way of telling you what kind of players there are.
It then explains to you the many quest ideas that you can come up with… Which aren’t really much to behold. From reading them, I’m reminded of nearly every MMORPG cliché there is. The Fetch Quest. The Escort Mission. Kill twenty bears and get their asses. The usual. I shouldn’t be viewing it as a video game, but I sort of do… I see it like some sort of customizable Fire Emblem. The old-school Fire Emblem. Thankfully, the game states that you should incorporate story in it and not make it so obvious that you’re just doing quests that don’t look out of place in World Of Warcraft. It also states you can even do quests that the adventure suggests, like Morgana or Traevus either trying to rule the world or having to destroy the skull.
Okay, I was very harsh on that section, especially rereading it now. The examples of quests weren’t as cliche as I made them out to be. For the most part, the quest section of the Dungeon Master’s book was pretty good for beginners on how to make quests of their own, even using the story they just completed as a starting off point.
Though I’m not taking back what I said about it being Fire Emblem. It definitely feels like Fire Emblem.
It then tells you about the first part of the title: the Dungeons. However, they’re not dungeons… They’re more like abandoned castles or temples. Basically anything that is long abandoned and is now filled with monsters. Or perhaps it’s not abandoned and is still doing its original function… Just that the people there are evil and needed to be fought. Heck, it might just be a large cave with deep inner workings. It also tells you that you can use the Twisting Halls map to create your own dungeon, or you can just draw on graph paper… or use the Dungeon Generators you can find online.
Oh, and to rub salt onto the wound, they tell us how to make our own encounters and try to make them pretty balanced. YEAH. BECAUSE HULKING ZOMBIES AND AC 19 SKELETONS AND A NECROMANCER WHO BUFFS THE UNDEAD SOUND TOTALLY BALANCED. Seriously, even without Gobby, who is just one level behind the Skeletons, the challenge looked to be very hard. The Encounter Level was four levels higher than the entire party sans Jixin. I know, it’s supposed to be challenging and I shouldn’t go all It’s Hard, So It Sucks!, but it’s odd when the game gives you an encounter that’s four levels higher than a party of four, then proceeds to tell you that you should probably tweak it to be just one to three levels higher. Then again, the dice seemed to make it hard. That and I probably shouldn’t have killed Hugh with that Fountain of Flame.
After telling us how the Monster Roles go (basically monsters have classes too… sort of… It just tells you what that monster is good at. For example, Skirmishers are good at speed, Brutes are good at strength, Solos are the big powerful bosses, etc.), they tell us the monsters to behold in the game. Skipping that, we get to rewards, which tells us that there’s three kinds of rewards: Gold, Experience, and Treasures. Oh, and Action Points… which I have never spent. Odd… After telling us the basic knowledge of the rewards, it then tells us of The Nentir Vale, the setting for this starting set. If you want a good setting, there you go. In the end, it gives you a brief know-how of conditions, attack modifiers, DC checks, and speed. Well, I guess that’s it.
My thoughts? Well… it’s hard. Really hard. I stressed this already, so I’ll just say it’s sort of repetitive. It’s the basic Eskimo nut kicking I gestured about in the beginning where you roll a dice, see if you hit, then roll for your opponent. The reason why this update came so late instead of Monday like usual was that I was just driven to sheer boredom trying to roll dice for every person. I even tried to spice it up sometimes, but in the end, we just had a total Curbstomp Battle from Malareth and his Hulking Zombie with 19 AC Skeletons.
Is it a good starting set for people new to Dungeons and Dragons? Well, that depends. My RPG love increased after I picked up this set, so I guess it could very well be a good set for newbies. However, prepare for a difficulty spike, a necessity to buy more products, and encounters up the wazoo. The story for the game is alright at best. Malareth comes off as a lazy person. Brilliant, but Lazy. There wasn’t really a lot of memorable story moments except for Jixin (the Doppelganger) and Farallax the Dragon.
If you ask me, the Pathfinder Starting Box does a much better job at what it’s supposed to do. And that’s pretty easy considering it’s 3.5 Edition with a fresh coat of paint. The hand-holding through creating your character is better, the adventure has less encounters and it’s more easier (it pits you against a level 3 or so dragon, but you get a Dragon-slaying sword before the battle and it’s prone to Rage Quit when it gets its ass kicked… Though it’s easy to get a TPK if you manage to screw up easily.) and best of all, it feels like a lite version of the Core Rulebook instead of some starting adventure that throws people into a random adventure. It even comes with prebuilt characters. So yeah, despite the Red Box being what kick-started my love for RPGs again, I’d prefer the Pathfinder’s Starting Box than the Red Box.
And that is pretty much it for this retelling of an old RPG I played. A rather long story, if I do say so myself. Next time, we tackle the first part of the finale to my time solo roleplaying games in a time before Solo RPG Voyages, where I finally dip my feet into writing out a story based entirely off rolling in an RPG.