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The YachtCollege Mariner: Adventuring in the South Sound

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Wade Webber and Ethan HD joined us to play D&D

Editor’s note: This is the third of a series that will chronicle YachtCollege.


Everyone knows someone who played Dungeons & Dragons during college, maybe it was even you. With the surge in popularity of the world’s oldest role-playing game, YachtCollege expanded its course load into the game that has helped so many deal with social isolation during the pandemic and since 1974. DDD 253: Invasion of the Trees was a 1st level adventure with two celebrities and four generous donors that guided the party of six adventurers through the Prosperityburg region of the Dusk Sea, and also introduced watchers to the basics of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons.

Sounder at Heart Founder Dave Clark (yes, me) was the Dungeon Master and professor. The rest of the cast included first-time player Ethan HD, Tacoma Defiance head coach Wade Webber returning to the game after a couple decades, and four other donors with experience. The mix of skills meant that gameplay was sometimes paused to introduce rules and play concepts, which felt more college-y.

The adventure started in a tavern. This trope felt like the simplest and quickest way to introduce those not experienced with D&D to the game. One of my goals in creating the Invasion of the Trees was to have a bar scene, a social encounter, an ambush, a dungeon scene, and a dragon, of course.

The region of the Dusk Sea has a few callouts to the Pacific Northwest, with each named area a reflection of Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. Bonus points to the reader who assigns the names to their real world counterpart and the justification for the name change.

Map made via Perilous Shores

Due to time constraints — running a six-player adventure of people you’ve never gamed within three hours is hard — there were two social encounters at the start. The group talked to the bartender at Royle’s Snug as well as a reverse-cursed werebear named Jaque.

The next scene was expected to be a mix of social and exploration, but the group decided to attack some bandits. They were lucky and survived. They were nearly out of spells, and Lennel was quite weak. After a Long Rest (which included a pause for the real-world players with a short conversation about Wade’s past D&D experience and Ethan’s time wrestling in India) the group advanced to Castle Highberg.

Castle Highberg
Map by Carol Brouillette

We fast-forwarded past a social encounter at the North Fort as well as the fight with the Awakened Trees, instead passing through those areas quickly and exploring the depths of Castle Highberg.

There needed to be a dungeon. This is, after all, Dungeons & Dragons. So the group explored the deeps of the south building through the stench and the mold to discover a dragon.

It was a smaller green dragon inside a complex where it couldn’t fly, so the large party was able to withstand its danger. Lots of big blows and Du-Rag grabbing its leg so it couldn’t escape meant that Lorenzo was able to put it to sleep.

The party finished off the dragon and built a bonfire. What next for our adventurers? Only time will tell.

Cast of Characters

  • Dungeon Master: Dave Clark – Founder of Sounder at Heart and 5th edition D&D blogger, Dave ran the adventure.
  • Lorenzo: Wade Webber – 253 born and raised, Wade is now the Tacoma Defiance Head Coach. Webber played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons back in the day.
  • Du-Rag: Ethan HD – Tacoma born and raised, Ethan is a professional wrestler with Defy and owns Destiny City Comics. This was his first time playing D&D.
  • Lennel: Randall is playing a tortle warlock, connected to the sea. He values the connection between the port town and the Dusk Sea, working to build camaraderie between the peoples.
  • Yelfir: Kris is playing goliath fighter. Born in mountains, she tests her strength and serves the greater good of the community.
  • Rezani: Jason is playing another axe-wielder. A half-orc barbarian, Rezani shuns armor as he stares down the greatest dangers.
  • Qulile: Doug is playing swashbuckling fishfolk knows the run of the streets and remains calm under pressure, right up until the point he runs.