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D&D at the drop of a hat

On Fedi, someone asked an interesting question:

You’ve got four friends over. They don’t play D&D, or any TTRPGs. They spot your cabinet full of awesome D&D minis, and your cool poly dice, and say ‘hey could we play now?’ What do you do?

Do you have anything prepared for this? Do you say, no but come back in a week?

Do you say, yes, here are four pre-gen character sheets, let’s play a random short one-shot?

Yes, I’m ready for that situation since this is a common daydream. 👍🏻

I can drop ‘em right into my ongoing campaign, plenty of stuff for them to do and explore there, and I have many ways of making characters that are all compatible up with the big 5e game down the line. From pregens or the Essentials Kit to something in the middle like Dungeonesque and if they’re really non-nerdy and just wanna dip their toes, I have my own “Searcher” class. I don’t use it if I think they are serious about getting into full D&D but it’s nice because it only has two stats and those are both derived straight up from level. So in short, if I think they’re future nerds I’ll use the Essentials Kit and if I think they’re pretty set in their non-nerd ways I’ll use my searcher class, and it’s no big deal if I guess wrong because it’s easy to switch over.

I’ve gotten so much mileage out of Dungeonesque but the Essentials Kit is pretty darn great, too. You can be bards!

I run theatre-of-the-mind so we’re ready to go. If they are looking for more of a dice&minis type thing I have that Castle Ravenloft board game that came out in 2010. Easy to learn and plays in an hour and teaches basic attack rolls & hitpoints stuff and is still called “D&D”.

Although I wouldn’t hesitate to refer to Shadowdark, Svärd & Svartkonst, or any other OSR game as “D&D” either. There’s no trademark lawyer in my living room. 💁🏻‍♀️

Even outside of home if someone is curious I sometimes just say a scene and ask what they’d do or where they’d go 🤷🏻‍♀️

You’re at the edge of a misty, dewey forest at the break of dawn. In front of you is a castle, and there’s the forest behind you all glittering from dewdrops on the cobwebs. The nearest village is six miles away; you could get there in two hours or so. There’s a well outside the castle a couple of hundred feet to the left of the entrance, which is right in front of you. Whaddayado?

It wouldn’t be as blorby as I prefer but it’d be an intro to the main gameplay loop.