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Collective Voyage, a D&D Adventure: Ixalan (Season Finale)

Hey everyone! Welcome back to Collective Voyage, a new series here on MTG Goldfish, where the crew plays the game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), a collective storytelling RPG created by Wizards of the Coast, the same company that brings us Magic: the Gathering. Each D&D adventure we play in will take place in the worlds of Magic: the Gathering.

Here's a quick FAQ on the series:

  • We are currently playing an official D&D adventure set in the Magic world of Ixalan, a free adventure called "X Marks the Spot"
  • We are playing the game using the free virtual tabletop website Roll20
  • All battle maps come from 2 Minute Table Top
  • Unfortunately I don't know the source of the image used for Zotz, the Bat Demon
  • All other artwork is from Magic: the Gathering
  • If you are interested in learning to play Dungeons and Dragons, you can pick up the Basic Rules for free here, and if you're looking for a beginner's guide I highly recommend Don't Stop Thinking. If you want a lengthier introduction then Matt Colville is good as well.

Since this series is so different from what we usually produce, we're going to be listening to what you all have to say about it! Basically, if enough people like this concept, we'll continue doing more in the future. So let us know what you think in the comments section!

Post-Adventure Thoughts

This was our first time playing D&D together. For Richard and Seth, this was the first time they've played D&D ever. It was also the first time we've ever used Roll 20. So going into the first recording I had no idea how it would turn out. Thankfully though, perhaps due to our past experience playing in Commander Clash together, everything clicked rather quickly. Things just got better and better as we got more comfortable with the game system, our characters, and the digital gaming platform.

My favorite part of the adventure was how each player developed their characters and interacted with each other: Artinoq was a detached realist that made logical decisions; Turk Two-Coins was not just some lowly Rogue but an ambitious thug who pursued fame and fortune — will he one day earn that title of Greatest Thief in the Multiverse? And of course, Alan and Velisha, both morally good characters whose goals made them mortal enemies. I loved that conflict between those two! Those types of interesting dynamics highlight the strengths of a game system like D&D.

There is room for improvement, of course. I regret a couple decisions I made during the adventure that I'll try not to repeat if we do more of these. The first was the trials leading to the Primal Wellspring. That was inserted by me as a roleplay opportunity because the written adventure was giving me nothing to work with. I think the trial concept is fine, but the tone didn't really match the adventure, specifically saying that it was created by the River Merfolk when lore-wise I don't think they'd make such a silly thing. Tone is an important thing to keep consistent and when it's so radically changed it messes with the overall experience.

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My second regret was how I handled the bat demon, Zotz. Again, the adventure didn't give me anything to work with, so I crafted what I think was a cool boss stage, with the boss hiding as a stalactite and being able to speak with the adventurers telepathically. Before saying more than a sentence, however, I had Zotz reveal himself and swoop down beside the party, initiating combat. This is a rookie mistake. Every Dungeon Master has stories about how they planned for the Big Bad to have this totally cool interaction with the adventurers — a villainous monologue, an elaborate combat maneuver — only for the Big Bad to get immediately shut down and killed before any cool thing could actually happen.

In this case I had Zotz in the perfect situation to do whatever he wants! The adventurers don't know where he is and he has telepathy! He can take his time conversing with them, taunting them, explaining his goals to his doomed guests, all while the adventurers try and figure where this mysterious voice in their heads is coming from! Instead I completely squnadered my own sweet encounter by making him drop down immediately. Ugh. Bad Tomer, bad! Ah well. The nice thing is that I like this particular encounter so much that I'll pocket it and perhaps use it in a different adventure for a different playgroup, and next time I'll know how to run it better!

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Let Us Know If You Want More!

The Goldfish crew is enthusiastic about doing more Collective Voyage episodes. I already have the next adventure lined up, along with a ton of improvements to the show that I want to implement like adding an audio-only podcast version, fixing audio issues, bigger webcam portraits, and more professional video overlays. Right now we're just seeing if there's a big enough audience for us to keep spending time making this. So let us know what your thoughts are about us continuing this!

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