I’m so into Dungeons and Dragons right now that I nearly announced going on hiatus so I can focus on world building and DMing for my campaign.
But, I’ve developed a knack for writing about whatever I’m doing, thus I will write about D&D.
Yes, I did attend a university that had an exceptional concentration of nerds, but it seemed doubly so for my floor of the dorm. Weekend nights were spent all-nighting Soulcalibur in the lounge, and occasionally, I was fortunate enough to witness a few sessions of D&D.
I was so intrigued that even as a spectator I blurted out some helpful advice to one of the players in my excitement, but the DM vetoed it as I was outsider.
Another time, one of the player characters got captured and separated from the group which led to the DM running a solo campaign for him to bust out of the holding facility. Even if he got out, he was so far away from the group, I had no idea how he would catch up to them.
That’s when I knew I was hooked.
Eight years later, I would roll my first D20.
Aerois is the name of the campaign and world designed by High Rollers DM Mark Hulmes.
I was initially drawn to the podcast because I’m a world-builder and sandbox-style DM myself, and was intrigued by the home-brewed classes and races, as well as the inclusion of future technology and magic juxtaposed to a magical but middle-aged world.
The Critical Role livestream from Geek and Sundry does set a ridiculously high bar as the entire adventuring group are all veteran voice actors supported by equally impressive production quality with music and battle map/figurine sets.
However, the narrative of their campaign is far too focused on the everyday streams of consciousness of the adventuring group, whereas in Aerois, there is always a looming and mysterious narrative above the players, literally so as the world is split between the lower lands and the sky cities above.
I initially made the mistake of skipping most of the introductory videos about Aerois and its characters, and so I was bored when the campaign began with the players immediately rolling initiative.
In fact, I actually SKIPPED the combat so I could get some backstory on who these characters are and why they are together. A few days later, I realized my mistake and gave the campaign another shot, watching all the introductions, and restarting the episode properly.
Mark really is a sand-box style DM. Like, crash land out of a plane and figure out what to do next sort of sandbox.
He’s also quite innovative, as he has re-balanced 5e to include an injury-table system that introduces a lingering consequence for players hitting 0 HP, as opposed to the non-consequential healing mechanics in traditional play.
Lastly, my favorite thing about the stream is how punishing (but fair) Mark can be on his cast. Specifically, half of the party came up with a great diversion tactic, but the other half wanted to deliberate more, which led to the plan’s eventual employment having only half of it’s effectiveness.
I don’t want to spend time rating all of the other player’s performances, but I’ll just say Chris Trott’s flamboyant High-Elf Daddy’s boy Lucius is definitely the most fun character to watch, and he even called it out ahead of time himself at Day 1.
The cast of characters is quite diverse, and Mark will also unpack more of Aerois’ mysteries through the backstories and goals of some of the characters.
Three episodes in, the Campaign is edge-of-your-seat action and suspense, but has surprisingly refreshing humor despite the desperate situation of the player characters!
It’s a really great start to a campaign, as I have no idea where it’s headed next, and if all of the characters make it out of their current situation alive, I myself will join them in the greatest sigh of relief that could even be heard through the Astral Plane.
Thoughts? Do you play D&D, or have any streams to recommend? Let me know in the comments.
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