Adventures at D&D in a Castle
In 2021, my friend Erin mentioned an event that had graced her via Facebook ads for a tabletop gaming vacation, D&D in a Castle. Little did I know that when I agreed to go I would be attending one of the best-organized vacation experiences in my life. I eagerly signed up for round 6, for October 2022 with her immediately, and waited for our time to attend.
I decided to fly into London as I’d never been to the UK before, the history nerd in me needed to see a few of the sites and explore the British Museum. I arrived early on Saturday morning and stayed at The Dixon, Tower Bridge, which was extremely close to my high-priority site, the Tower of London. Walking across Tower Bridge you can see amazing views of the White Tower, originally built by William the Conquerer after his arrival in Great Britain in 1066. The Tower also houses the Crown Jewels, the tower ravens, royal apartments (it is considered a working royal residence, and enough history to make someone like me drool.
After a few hours at the Tower, I took the tube to the British Museum to view the Rosetta Stone at the request of my daughter. I was exhausted after my overnight flight and took a taxi back to my hotel to check into my room, before hopping on a Hop On-Hop Off tour around the city. This was a great choice for me as my limited time in London prevented me from touring everything on foot. The bus allowed me to see the city, and the sites, and relax for the 2.5-hour loop back to my hotel.
I slept well that night and used Gett to order a taxi the next morning to deliver me to Kings Cross Station for my train north to Newcastle.
The train ride took about 2 hours and 45 minutes, and I was greeted by my friend Louisa who is local. We joined Erin and the rest of the D&D crew and players at Nero Cafe for about an hour before we boarded a bus to take us to Lumley Castle.
Justin and Eric greeted us first at the train station, with Jay arriving with players who had been picked up at the airport. Along the way, we started bonding as players as Jay asked us questions about D&D and we wondered what the day would hold for us.
You Meet in a Tavern.
On arrival, we entered the Baron’s Bar, directly next to the guard room, which we think was part of the original dungeon complex of the castle. The room itself is dark and creepy. We were served snacks and non-alcoholic cocktails, while alcoholic beverages were available for purchase. Guinness (my go-to beer) was 6.15 per pint. There was also a selection of D&D-themed cocktails.
After some socializing, the DMs gathered to call forth their parties and each of us went to our respective gaming rooms for Session Zero.
Session Zero is time set aside before your game to set ground rules, and expectations, meet each other, and determine how your party met. While we knew that much of our campaign would be subterranean we had yet to determine how our party came together. My monk, Brenna, had been born to Wizard parents but was not very magically adept. The time she spent in monasteries while her parents researched magic, led her to love the martial ways of the different monks she came in contact with as she grew up. Eventually, she met Carvill, another wizard with whom she bonded and traveled after leaving her parents behind. During their travels, they encountered Drusilla, a druid sage, and Malus a Dragon-Knight fighter at Candlekeep. After attempting to investigate the disappearance of one of the librarians at Candlekeep and inadvertently releasing a fiend into the world, they decided they needed a vacation and traveled to Wolf Haven, for the Celebration of the Ores, which is where our adventure would begin.
Once Session Zero was complete we went to registration to receive our room keys, unpack, and rest before the banquet that was planned for later that night. My room was a castle room, up a very steep spiral staircase, so if you have mobility issues be sure to make that known when you reserve your room. There is no lift to this area and the stairs can be appropriately treacherous for a 14th-century castle. Thankfully, our bags had been delivered to our rooms and Erin was just across from me in a deluxe castle stateroom.
I opted to explore the castle before the banquet. I returned to the Baron’s Bar for a Guinness, and then set off exploring when I discovered the Library Bar (which would quickly become the default location for most members of the event.) The courtyard is a beautiful outdoor location, where you can view the infamous well, which Lily Lumley was thrown into for refusing to convert to Catholicism. Just outside the Library Bar in a small hallway is another underground area where Lily Lumley is reputed to be seen. I’ll have more on this area later as it turned out to be a very creepy and haunted area.
I opted not to dress up for the banquet though many brought out their finest cosplays and fantasy-themed outfits for the evening. We started in the large ballroom just adjacent to the dining room, in which Justin taught us an incredibly fun country dance. Now, I’ve always been incredibly self-conscious when dancing, but Justin made it very easy to learn and by the end I was having a fantastic time, getting to come face-to-face with all of the players and most of the DMs.
After the dance, we were sorted into different stone groups for the evening. These groups would participate in a variety of activities together over the next few nights, in competition for a prize on the last night. I was sorted into Obsidian, and once per day during my game had the power to create a psychic wall to block psychic attacks.
Dinner that night was wonderful, I was seated with my DM, Jason Charles Miller, and the other members of the Obsidian Stone team. Live music by Shallelgih Sessions filled the hall while course after course of really well-made and delicious food was delivered. I couldn’t even finish most of the last course or dessert because it was so much food, at it was so good. Paul Foxcroft, our MC, entertained us with announcements and regaled us with stories of acting and improv. I should also note Paul is an incredibly talented comedian and miniature painter.
After dinner, I found my way back to the Library Bar, with my party members Charles, Kait, and Nick. We gathered with others and bought several rounds of drinks (Negroni Spagliato with Prosecco and more) for each other while talking about all things nerdy, the trip, and our excitement. We closed the bar down, every night staying up late and socializing with everyone. The energy was electric and we all genuinely liked each other’s company. I also spent some time getting to know Jay Casual and about some of the amazing projects he’s working on in the D&D realm. Stay tuned to learn more about those in the future.
Eventually, we realized we had a big day and retired to our rooms for a few hours of sleep.
Our Zero Day was over, and we were all ready for the amazing adventures to come.
Stay tuned for more of my recap of D&D in a Castle, interviews, and news about the event as well as a massive gallery of photos!