Today was the first session of my Dungeons & Dragons & Disney game, which came out of the idea, “let’s play D&D where all the characters are Disney princesses.” The idea was born mostly as an excuse to get a game which my sister-in-law Allie couldn’t back out of, being a big Disney fan who hasn’t been able to game much since having her daughter Emma; now Dad gets a turn to babysit while Mom goes out and rolls the dice.
It’s also an all-girl game: I realised I know quite a few female gamers, some of which I haven’t gamed with in some time. So I invited all the girls over, kicked Tim upstairs, and we had some Dungeons and Dragons and Disney fun.
First was character creation. I want to thank everyone who helped me brainstorm ideas for which princess should be which class, especially my friend Shari and the people on rpg.net. I intentionally did all the level 1 character creation myself: the players involved aren’t particularly system heads.
Allie picked Rapunzel, looking forward to hair kung fu, frying pan action, and singing to people to heal them. (Monk, multiclass to bard). Allie was the only player who had not played D&D 4th before, so we did a quick go over of the basic rules, which she picked up very quickly once she had a character sheet in front of her and could see the minis in play.
Amelia picked Cinderella, the Warlock. Her only qualifier was ‘not a ranger,’ since she played one in Tim’s D&D game, and wanted a slight change of pace- Warlock being a ranged striker is still familiar for her to play, but a little different. She also talked about not minding switching characters if needed.
Shari is a huge Tinkerbell fan, so of course played Tinkerbell, the artificer and group’s only leader (after offering to let someone else have a chance; I commented that it felt like some of us were trying to out-courteous each other). Shari is probably the second most experienced person at the table at D&D, so she sat next to Allie and helped out with some of her rules questions.
Misha wanted a big fierce character, so played Fiona from Shrek, a berserker barbarian. Misha is also no stranger to D&D.
Rebecca had a hard time picking which character to play, but decided that Tianna, the Witch, sounded fun. A plus is that Tianna has alchemy, which she enjoyed using as her previous character, an artificer. Rebecca has played D&D 4 before but it has been awhile so she was a little rusty with the rules.
Caroline wanted to play a not-magic character (her last D&D 4 character was a Warlock), so picked Mulan, the knight fighter. Like Rebecca, she has played D&D 4 but has been out of practice.
I felt like I made the right decision starting the game at 1st level- it was easy for Allie to get into the game, with only a handful of powers to worry about, even the relatively complex Full Discipline monk powers. I suspect Rebecca and Caroline also both benefited from this. When they last played D&D 4, they entered existing paragon tier games, with characters with large selections of powers, and often seemed to have analysis paralysis. They seemed more confident with the simpler characters.
There was some difficultly printing out the character sheets; character builder didn’t want to talk to the printer. But eventually, we got them to print.
When Shari went on her vacation to Disneyworld, she looked far and wide for D&D scale princess minis, but was unable to find any. She got me a very nice set, however, they’re scaled to about the ‘large’ size, so aren’t really appropriate for this sort of play. (Maybe they’ll get an excursion to Wonderland and find some Drink Me Potions of Growth at some point.) However, she recently found a Disney princess play kit at a bookstore, with minis for the ‘core’ princesses at the perfect size. Shari also has a Tinkerbelle mini, but uses it in another game.
So, we had an actual mini for Cinderalla. Allie suggested using Aurora’s mini for Rapunzel, since they’re both blond. Shari used a butterfly for Tinkerbelle. Caroline picked out a martial artist fig for Mulan, Misha picked out a goliath warrior fig for Fionna, and Rebecca found that the pathfinder Human Druid is a pretty close fit for Tianna.
After a quick description of the situation (all the Princes have been captured, and everyone’s kingdom is falling apart, and all the villains are back), I framed their opening scene: the Princesses teaming up and going to look for information in that wretched hive of scum and villainy, the Snuggly Ducking Tavern. (Yes, the D&D&D game started in a tavern, but no, the princesses did not all meet there.) The goons in resident immediately spotted the princesses and yelled ‘get them!’
The Pub Goons were based on a reskin of the Halflings in my kickstarter supplement, Heroic Threats. I used two Bravos, a skirmisher with an extra attack that can only be used against those granting it combat advantage, two Pickpockets, a lurker with the ability to steal unattended items, but also to attack against Reflex, and 6 Lookouts, an Artillery Minion that can get an extra move once per encounter. To ease up on the difficulty a little bit, on what would otherwise be a level 2 encounter, I dropped the Second Chance ability from the Pub Goons but kept all other stats. (As an aside, one thing this session reminds me is that a level +1 encounter is much tougher at low heroic than it is at high-paragon or epic, which is what I’ve been mostly playing recently.)
The princesses kicked down the door, and entered. The enemy had much better initiative, so the Lookouts were able to plink them with slingstones before scattering. The two Pickpockets engaged, one hitting with a charge, the other missing with its pickpocket ability. One of the Bravos engaged and started dealing damage, and the other one had to round the bar to join the fight, which worked in the players’ favor.
Mulan and Fionna got good mileage out of their Heroic Auras, making sure that they were attacked rather than the less armored casters. Cinderella went out from behind this cover to get better shots, and ended up getting knocked out twice, taking up both of Tinkerbelle’s Curative Infusions and Rapunzel’s daily Majestic Word. Fionna got bloodied, having positioned herself where the rest of the Lookouts had to ping her, but that only mad her angrier. (Misha says she enjoys playing strikers the most.)
Some other cool things that happened: we discover that Tinkerbelle swears all the time, but she does it so quietly that no one can hear, battlefield Prestidigitation so Cinderella’s bloodstained dress won’t clash, Tianna spends an action point to get to one of the Tavern’s side exits and smashes a door on a minion- the Athletics check fails, sadly, but the stunt sets her up to take him out the next round.
One of the things I implemented to establish the Disney ‘tone’ was to state that no one ever dies- bad guys who are beaten up are knocked unconscious, and presumably mend their ways, the Princesses themselves cannot die, but instead must ‘retire’ if they would die by the rules, and major villains always fall to their deaths, killed by Fate, not the hand of the Princesses. So afterwards, there was a skill challenge to get information out of the Pub Goons. Cinderella used some Thievery to tie up the bartender, and everyone else used a mix of Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidate to get information out of the guy. He revealed that they were working for the “G Men,” two wizards who captured the princes and were going to go after the princesses next, and that apparently roses are the key to their magic.
After wards, I asked them what they wanted to pursue next, and they agreed that they wanted Aurora’s expertise of roses, so the next session will involve the sleeping curse hanging over Aurora’s kingdom.