Last week John Arcadian over at Gnome Stew posted the article Bucket Lists For Players and Characters. The article encourages players to create a bucket lists for their character in order to help define their motivation. This in turn can help the DM come up with cool and interesting adventures that will really excite the players around the gaming table. He also suggests that players themselves should have gaming-related bucket lists as well for pretty much the same reason. This is a fantastic idea and one that I’m jealous I didn’t think of myself.
Although I didn’t think of this idea I’m still going to run with it (after giving credit where credit is due). Today I’m going to share my bucket list. These are all the things that I’ve always wanted to do as a player under the D&D umbrella. My list doesn’t have anything specific to one character or another (because that would be boring for readers who don’t know my specific characters). Instead these are general things that could be accomplished by just about any character.
I’ve played a lot of D&D over the years and during that time I’ve probably played as often as I’ve been the DM. During my adventures I’ve had characters face a lot of monsters. With a few exceptions my PCs have defeated almost every monster they’ve faced. Yet there are still a few that remain elusive. Creatures that I’ve read about in the Monster Manual but never had a chance to face. I’m not suggesting that I fight them alone (although that would be cool), I just want to go toe-to-toe with some of these creature of legend.
- Dragons: I’ve fought many dragons in my gaming career but I don’t remember any one character fighting one of each colour. Knowing that this was on my bucket list I actually ran a campaign that had the players do just this. Unfortunately I was on the other side of the screen running the dragons. It’s close, but not the same. (See Stop Abusing Dragons!)
- Balor: The Balor mini was the first one I ever bought. I’ve always found the monster cool, but seeing it in 3D, scaled proportionately to other minis really did it for me. From that point on I wanted to fight one, or two, or three, of these demons. I’ve since used the mini to represent huge opponents but I’ve never actually faced the Balor.
- Tarrasque: Although diminished greatly when it was re-imagined for 4e I’ve always found the Tarrasque one of the most fascinating monsters in D&D. The notion that (originally) you had to kill it and then use a wish to erase its very essence from reality clearly set it apart from any other monster in the Monster Manual. With my current 4e D&D campaign in epic I’ve been hinting pretty hard to the DM that he should throw a Tarrasque at us. I sure hope he’s been listening. (See M.I.A. – The Tarrasque.)
2) Standing in the dark
Ever since I played D&D with a blind person I’ve wanted to try playing a session without any visual aids of any kind – a total theater of the mind. I think that an interesting way to accomplish this would be to have the PCs in an environment where they couldn’t see. It could be something as simple as the absence of light or it could be some device that denies them use of their eyes (magical blindness, blindfolds, whatever).
I envision (no pun intended) a battle where everyone, the heroes and the monsters, are blind until they accomplish a goal which will restore their vision. If the goal is something they can accomplish during the encounter (maybe touch the sun symbol hidden somewhere in the cavern) then there is additional danger that the monster regain their sight before the PCs. An encounter like this would force PCs to be imaginative and rely on cues from their other senses. (See How a Blind Player Improved Our Game.)
3) All talk, no action
Fighting and killing monsters is an integral part of D&D. One could argue that without the combat it’s not D&D. But there is still plenty to work with using the established mechanics for the non-combat parts of the game (skill challenges, for example) to run long sessions that focus on just the role-playing. Just once I’d like to earn enough XP to advance though a whole level without any fighting, just role-playing. I can already hear people saying that there are plenty of other RPGs that do this all the time, but for my bucket list I want to try this while playing D&D.
4) Low or no magic
In 4e we’ve belittled and devalued magic items. No one takes any pride of ownership any more. Items are commonplace. I’d like to go back to the magic-poor days when a single item is considered godly and to have it was its own reward. I know this is unlikely to happen with 4e even if you’re using the inherent bonus options but wouldn’t it be something to play out an adventure where there was no magic items, or maybe just one. I’m not sure if I’d love it or hate it, but I really want to try it. (See What’s a +1 Sword?)
Some adventures are so well known that everyone just assumes that we’ve all played them. I am saddened to say that I have never played some of the biggest and most well-known adventures of all time. My goal is to play all of the adventures listed below. I’m not picky about edition; I just want to play them.
- Tomb of Horrors: This was #1 on my list for a very long time. I finally got to play it over a year ago with a group of players who, like myself, always wanted to but had never before had the chance. My goal was not only to play this death-trap dungeon but survive. And we did. (See Tomb of Horrors: Actual Play Podcasts.)
- Queen of the Demonweb Pits: I love anything and everything to do with the Drow. Knowing that this was one of their very first appearances in classic D&D makes me want to play this adventure even more. I finally got my hands on an original copy a few years back but I don’t want to read it as that would ruin my experience when I someday get to play it.
- Castle Ravenloft: This is the adventure that eventually spawned an entire campaign system. While in high school my group ran a year-long campaign in Ravenloft and more recently we played Return to Castle Ravenloft, but I have yet to play the game that started it all.
- Temple of Elemental Evil: This one gets a half-check mark as I’ve only half-played it… twice. Both times I started this adventure I recall it being exciting and a lot of fun. I also remember it being really, really long which was why in both previous attempts we didn’t finish it. Eventually I want to play this one all the way through.
6) Lucky dice
This one comes down to probability, mathematics, greed and luck. I want to roll four natural 20s in a row during combat. I’ve seen other players at my table roll three natural 20s in a row on two separate occasions. I’ve never witnessed it happen four times in a row. The best I’ve ever done is two back-to-back 20s (both as a player and a DM). Call me greedy but I want to roll four 20s.
7) Be a completist
I want to play every race and every class in 4e D&D at least once. I realize that’s a lot of games featuring a lot of characters, but I’d still like to try it. When I took a quick look over the lists I realized I’m already well over half way. I guess the only thing stopping me from accomplishing this one is time. Considering how often I play D&D I see this item being the one I’m most likely to complete next.
With every edition of D&D there are inevitably entire mechanics provided for mounted combat. Yet in all the years I’ve played D&D we’ve never used them. Sure we’ve had the occasional fight where one guy is on horseback but I want to play in an entire adventure where mounted combat matters; it matters so much that people take feats and powers to get good at it. It doesn’t even have to be horses, any game on land, sea or air where all the PC were mounted a lot and would fight on that mount would be acceptable. Let’s actually use that section of the rules that are all but ignored in almost every game.
9) Go all the way
I’ve always wanted to play the same character from level 1 to level 30. I’ve come close but it’s never happened. With so many new classes and races flooding every edition there’s always something else that just looks so appealing that I have to try it. The other hurdle is that running a campaign for 30 levels is a tremendous amount of work which one DM couldn’t possible hope to accomplish in one marathon stint. The result is that campaigns are put on hold and then never return to the forefront. Just once it would be nice to see the character from humble beginnings ascend to godhood or sacrifice himself at the campaign’s end in order to save the multiverse.
10) I’ve gotta be me
I’ve always wanted to play myself as a D&D character. I don’t care how it’s explained; it could be me the player becoming the character (like in Guardians of the Flame) or some accident that transports me to the D&D world. Regardless of why, I just want to try it out. I want to have my character know what I know. No more separation of player knowledge and PC knowledge. I don’t know how long this kind of campaign would remain interesting or fun but I really want to try it. (See Playing Yourself as a D&D Character.)
Now that I’ve shared the top 10 items from my D&D Bucket List what are some of the things on yours? Is there anything on my list that you would have on yours? How many of the things on my list have you already done?