Well, I finally sat down for the first session with my new group. In a nutshell - it went well.
With the chargen guidelines sent to them, I really left it up to the players to make what they wanted, knowing that I would worry about the details later. To my surprise, they came up with a group that was somewhat coherent.
- Human Monk
- Human Fighter
- Dwarf Fighter
- Dwarf Fighter #2
- Dwarf Wizard
- Dwarf Wizard #2
Rather than bore you with the details of what happened on the adventure, I'll comment on the experience in general. I've never gamed with a new group like this. All my non-con gaming was pretty much with the same group I'd had for 20+ years (with some people adding/subtracting over time), so to sit down with a bunch of strangers was interesting, but strangely, not intimidating.
Once the characters had been set up and we were ready to go, I told the group that all I was really looking for was for all of us to have some fun. I wanted to basically "roll dice and kill things." Character and campaign development could come later. I really just wanted everyone to get re-familiarized with the rules.
Over the roughly five hours of the session, things went well. Rules were indeed grasped, some character personalities started to come out, and some player personalities as well. I have a player who likes to dominate (though I wonder if that was more from lack of experience on the other player's part), I have another player that just likes to "be there" and not say a whole heck of a lot.
I felt it was a success in that some definite "bonding" occurred amongst the players over their characters and each other (I should mention that all of the players know each other in some capacity). Even when one of the PCs died (after valiant efforts to save him), there was some good humor about it all.
If there was one area I think things fell a little flat, it was Pacing. It took too long to get to the meat of the adventure. It was something I wanted to avoid, but I think some old habits of mine kicked in, and I (unintentionally) slowed things down, most likely in an effort to squeeze some role-playing out of them (not much came out in this first session). I was able to move some elements along, but it's something I need to look out for in the future.
In the end, we did not finish the adventure. The PCs actually are being forced to leave the dungeon and head back to town to heal up. This is good because it will allow James to get a new PC in the group, and also force us to get back together (in 2 weeks). Once done, we'll be able to take a closer look at how we want to proceed as a group from that point.
Feels good to roll the dice and stand behind the screen once again though.