Duels of Non-Canon
Posted on November 07, 2017
Our first campaign was by far the longest we've ever had, and I have no idea how we kept it going, for we were a pretty big group, with nine players and me. We played D&D 4e (don't judge, we had no idea of other editions—I saw a red box in a store that said D&D starter set and didn't think twice) and the campaign lasted two years. Of course, there being nine players and only myself as a first-time Dungeon Master, randomness and silly jokes that sometimes changed that world's history were inevitable. But those stories are for another day.
What I really enjoyed from these sessions were the non-canon duels. Basically, while I was setting up the game and it hadn't started yet, or after it finished and we were packing our stuff, some players would pit their characters in quick 1v1 brawls that wouldn't actually happen in the campaign. These were incredibly ludicrous and hilarious. Sometimes I would just slow down whatever I was doing to give the match enough time to finish, so I could hear the amazing conclusion.
The two PCs that participated the most in this minigame were the Halfling Wizard and the Human Barbarian. Here's the catch: the Wizard had chosen mostly spells that would keep him alive, like Arcane Shield, Blur and Magician's Escape, while the Barbarian had skills that were focused on keeping her tanky self even more alive, with temporary hit points, bonus AC, and hit point regeneration. So basically their bouts took ages to end, with years spent only to land a single hit.
However, these two were one of the most creative players i've ever seen, so when things started taking too long and spells and skills started to become scarce, they would start relying on stuff that was hard too see coming, like environmental advantage from terrain that wasn't there a few seconds ago or even items that were temporarily "borrowed" from other PCs. And these two would carry the win or loss to the actual game, for example, the loser having to comply to a "request" from the victor, or just the sheer desire for vengeance.
This campaign, being the first RPG experience ever for all of us, united us, and made us want to play more and more, just hanging out, playing, and eating pizza. Baring laughter and sometimes even actual fighting between us, it made us learn even more about each other, and I am thankful for that. Despite still being together until this day, our following campaigns never were quite the same.