|Warning...some spoilers below.|
My friend Tommy has some experience with AD&D2e, D&D 3.5, the D&D Adventure System Board Games and D&D fiction (specifically the Drizzt books).
My friend Russ played in a one off D&D game with his girlfriend in between his first game (Dragon Age) and our Deadlands campaign.
Chrystal, Russ' girlfriend, has some experience with (I believe) 3.5.
I have played everything from 3.5 on back, herald 2nd Edition as my favorite edition, though I do love the 4e-based Adventure System board games.
As you may have read recently, I have become enamored with 5th Edition after the release of the Player's Handbook. Over the last couple of days, we rolled up fresh characters and are planning to turn them loose this Saturday in Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Character creation is pretty easy and smooth. Feels a lot like 2e, with us getting in, getting out, and getting it over with. Good to know, in case the game is as lethal as I've heard. It's not as hyper customized as 3rd Edition or Savage Worlds, but there are enough options that, with only three players, we're fine.
Tommy didn't have great luck on his dice rolls, but generated a Dragonborn (Bronze) Ranger who duel-wields hand axes. Exiled for a crime he didn't commit, his Dragonborn became a Hermit, with few friends, one being the Monk Leosin Erlanthar - who saved the Dragonborn from misguided mob justice - who has summoned him to the town of Greenest. The Dragonborn jealously guards secrets, including his name, and is known only as The Hermit...but his word is his bond and he fully intends to repay the Monk's kindness. The Hermit's meditations have allowed him to peer into the heart of darkness, and he believes he has great insight into how to stop the rising evil of the Tyranny of Dragons.
Russ rolled up a Lawful Good Human Monk, and opted for the variant Human (+1 to two stats, plus a proficiency and a Feat). His family, a tribe of Outlanders, were once in league with the Cult of Dragons, but were violently betrayed. He was spared by the intervention of a wandering Monk who took him back to his Order. When faced with the life his family had lived versus the life the monks live, Shi Yan Hong found himself to be unworthy...and so he sets out from the monastery to rid himself of the last vestiges of his old life...armed with three names: Frulam Mondath, Bog Luck and Rezmir...and he fully intends to avenge the betrayal, and hopefully become worthy of his brothers.
Chrystal created Lerissa, the Barbarian progeny of a warrior woman and a conniving devil (literally). Lerissa was markedly different from her tribe, but her above average (especially in her tribe) Charisma, and her respect for what her people had done before, made her an Entertainer and a Storyteller in her tribe. However, as her mother lay dying, she confided to Lerissa that she had formed a pact with The Cult of the Dragon and that the tribe had been helping the Cult sneak shipments around authorities on the Sword Coast. She begged Lerissa to investigate the Cult, so the Tiefling leaves her people behind to tip the balance back that her own tribe has swung in the favor of evil.
So...I'm pretty excited about these guys. Basically all of this stuff came from the Backgrounds and the additional Bonds provided in Hoard of the Dragon Queen, which gives them built in reasons to give a crap about the events of the campaign (especially seeing as two of them aren't even Good, one being Lawful Neutral and the other being Neutral)!
It seems like it would be exceedingly easy to link The Hermit and Shi Yan Hong together, and Hong and Lerissa could be linked up as well, with little effort, a conversation I'll be having with the group before the game on Saturday. Tommy already has his Ranger Archetype picked out, and Chrystal is giving a lot of thought to her Barbarian's Primal Path.
Given that the adventure is geared for four characters, and we only have three, they may be getting a tagalong NPC to help even the odds (until I get a feel for it, at least, and feel comfortable adjusting up and down based on party size). I'm going Rules As Written for the first session, at least, then seeing if anything needs changing.
Expect a report when we get on the other side!