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The Temple Teller

Mon, 05/13/2013 - 02:20

So, I know I’ve been pretty silent lately. My opportunities to write have largely been taken up by paying jobs (based on my day job, not my hobby) and combine that with the fact that the iPad has taken over for the laptop as my companion many nights and I just end up writing less to boot. My remaining hobby time is given to podcasting where I’m recording an episode a week normally and two episodes a week two weeks per month.

That said, it occurred to me recently…I’m still writing about gaming.

That’s right, I’ve been writing this whole time and haven’t been sharing it with you. How horrible of me. You see, I recently started a new campaign converting the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil as a D&D Next game. As part of that game, I’ve been writing an in-game newsletter, The Temple Teller.

The adventure has been running more or less as written so far, although I’ve tried hard to incorporate some more story elements and hooks for the PCs into the game. I randomly gave each player a background card at the start of the game, tying them to a the history of the adventure. I also gave them all a relationship card, tying them all to each other. Both of these also encourage fleshing out the PCs some more.

Since I learned long ago that players don’t notice when I do recaps on our campaign website I decided this time to make it part of the story. There is an NPC following the PCs around named Samnell (an homage to the DM who first ran me through this adventure) who publishes a regular newsletter about the things going on around town.

What’s more, he writes about the PCs as a matter of routine and is generally suspicious of them. This riled them up a lot, and has them excited to see the Temple Teller each session. “What’d he write about us this time?”, “Is it good or bad?”, etc.

So that’s what I’ve been writing about these days and I realized, I could share them with you. So I’m going to start posting PDFs of the Temple Teller here to share with you. The first page is an in character set of stories from Samnell, recaping events while also letting the players know that their actions resonate beyond themselves. The second page is my DM Report, reviewing the events of the last session.

Due to the formatting efforts and images used I feel that sharing the PDFs is the best way to present this to you. I must warn you, however, that two of them have been lost as a result of my not realizing from the start that I was going to be sharing them here. Sorry about that.

And with that, I present to you, Temple Teller, Vol. 2.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Kicking My Skull Into Gear

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:57

First, I know that I’ve been silent for a while. November had all my attention on other projects (HoNoToGroABeMo and NaNoWriMo), December had me focused on work and the holidays, followed by a few months with lots of deadlines for paid (and potentially paid) writing. But in the meantime my gaming world hasn’t stopped and I’m always running new ideas through my head to discuss here. Today, I want to run something by you that I’ve started exploring recently called Skullkickers.

 

THPSkullkickers

 

Apparently a few years back Image Comics released a title called Skullkickers. I’d read the free issue #0 on my iPad a while back and was intrigued, so when Comixology had a sale offering all the backlog of issues for half-price I loaded up. Recently, I’ve started reading through the book and I thought I’d share.

 

First, a summary of the book. It’s a medieval fantasy setting with two main characters, whose names are deliberately avoided, so we call them Shorty (the stereotype dwarf) and Baldy (the large brute of a man with a unique weapon, a seemingly magical gun that no one has seen before and is enchanted to make people forget it after he leaves).

 

They are more or less heartless mercenaries looking for a chance to make some coin who fall into circumstances beyond their depth to handle and end up saving the day by virtue of it also saving their hides.

 

They’re more than capable warriors but hapless and often hopeless…much like most gaming characters I know.

 

I love the lighthearted take on the story. It’s just serious enough that it tells a good story, but humorous enough to make me feel like I’m in a D&D-style game world. The art style reinforces the story perfectly. It embraces it’s gaming roots, to the point of including D&D-style game stats for the main characters (designed by Robin D. Laws, from the DMG2 and recent GenCon guest on the Tome Show) and mentioning many fantasy-style tropes and creatures.

 

Before I get too far into the love-fest, though, there are some things from what I’ve read so far that I don’t like. Two, to be specific. One, and the most egregious of my complaints, in the style of descriptions used. Where a normal comic might have a “Bam!”, “Sluuurp”, or “Whoosh” Skullkickers has a “Over-the-top Violence”, “Soup Noise”, and “Missed Swing” painted right into the image. I’d rather have the action be left clear in the art and writing and not be spelled out to me like that. This is a strategy that I’ve seen work in Scott Pilgrim, which is imitating video games, but it doesn’t work at all for me in Skullkickers and I find too often i is simply distracting.

 

My second, less problematic issue is the lack of forethought. The creator admits in the end of issue extras (which normally I find to be a waste of pages but find that I rather enjoy in this book) that many of the details of the story and setting weren’t planned from the beginning. Little things, like the name of the town where they start, or the names of the main characters were undecided when the project began is the impression I get and true or not it feels that way.

 

Both of these problems are minor, however and I find that the enjoyment I get out of the book is much greater than the distractions I get from the problems I have, especially if you can get it on sale.

 

It’s a fun comic that feels like a game of D&D. We’ve had some great D&D-like comics around the last few years, I look forward to seeing what I’ll find that inspires me next. What about you? Have you read Skullkickers? What other things do you enjoy that remind you of your gaming hobby? Maybe you’d like to suggest something else for me or other readers to check out. Comment below.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

I’m a Superhero, My Power is Fighting Breast Cancer Via Facial Hair

Fri, 11/16/2012 - 01:49

You may have noticed that my posting here has been sporadic. It’s not that there’s not much doing on, quite the opposite, in fact.

The facts are that my wife ran her first marathon and it turns out there’s a decent amount of time consumed supporting those efforts, and I’m happy to do so. Further, it’s November, which means HoNoToGroABeMo and NaNoWriMo.

I probably just threw a bunch of gobbelty gook at you that you may not understand. So let me put it explain…nearly 40,000 women in the USA will die from Breast Cancer this year. That’s a lot. That’s more than Strahd ever killed in Ravenloft. But it’s getting better, breast cancer used to be much more deadly and with help we can stamp this thing out once and for all.

To those ends I participate in How Not to Grow a Beard Month (HoNoToGroABeMo) wherein shave on November 1st and don’t shave all month, snapping daily photos and writing a bit each day. People sponsor my beard and all the money goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Last year I, alone, raised $500, and the site as a whole raised over $5000.

Equally, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) wherein I am writing at least 1,666 words per day, so that at the end of the month I will have a 50,000 word novel. I am posting my daily writing at HoNoToGroABeMo, making it all the more frightening because I’m not only writing a novel, I’m doing it publicly.

So if I’m quiet for a bit that’s why and I encourage you all to swing by and sponsor my beard…because no matter what edition you play, breast cancer sucks.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Encounter Design for Fast Paced Stories

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 01:33

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about simplifying my game design and session prep, largely as a result of talking to Mike Shea from Sly Flourish. Combine that with reading the Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design for the Tome Show Book Club lately, and I’ve come to a recent idea. Can good prep be summarized in lists of three that can fit on a 3×5 notecard for easy reference at a game.

 

I’d like to take some time to test this out here, but at the same time, encourage everyone to keep an eye on Sly Flourish for the upcoming Lazy DM book. I used this strategy heavily in my recent GammaLoft game (which I hope to write a bit more about later to follow up the previous article on the topic) and it turned out pretty good.

 

The rules are simple. There can be only three things in the list. It must fit on a single 3×5 card. And it needs to provide everything I need for…whatever it is it’s for.

 

The Three Keys of Encounter Design for Fast Paced Stories

 

  1. The Story.

 

Consider every single encounter and the way it impacts or informs the story. If an encounter doesn’t push the story of the game further along then don’t have that encounter. And I don’t mean a little bit, like “this encounter will highlight the dangers of traveling between cities in the world”. Every encounter needs to push harder, “in this encounter the PCs will learn that General Gra’kk has bested the Troll Lord in single combat, thus supplementing his army with the local troll tribes”. The first one is a cop out, the second one might just be meaningless flavor text…or it might lead to a new story hook. The PCs could do nothing with it or could decide that undermining Gra’kk’s authority with the Trolls by becoming the new Troll Lord will help them win the war. Every encounter needs to have the potential to matter in significant ways.

 

  1. The Obstacles.

 

This is the basic parts of an encounter you probably normally consider. What are the monsters, traps, environmental effects, etc. Don’t go crazy with the detail, keep it general, use stats right from the compendium or a book or two that you can have handy, and give general descriptions of the other things and wing it at the table. “Orcs Berserkers, Orc Archers, and a couple Trolls with a boiling mud pot that sometimes explodes”. With that I can open a couple pages, or tabs, or whatever and make up at the table that the mud pot blows on a roll of 6 at the end of every round in a burst of 3 doing d10 damage and slowing any creature (save ends). Done.

 

  1. The Conclusion.

 

How will the encounter end. Always…ALWAYS have an out planned to end the encounter that doesn’t involve “all the monsters are killed”. Something like, “When the PCs kill Harash, the orc master and prove their worth to the trolls” then perhaps the trolls insist on ending the the combat in order to get to know the PCs better. Then we enter a role-playing or skills-based situation that could result in resuming the combat…or not. It could be simple, “they run away when it looks clear that they’re going to lose” or it could be complex, “the PCs shift into another reality as soon as they remove the Orb of Adolescence”. That will end the fight…but you’ll have major repercussions to deal with that can move your game in very new directions.

 

 

So there it is, three, low-prep, encounter design steps that can fit on a 3×5 notecard. Again, this concept (which I think I’ll keep exploring with more lists in the future) is entirely inspired by the work over at Sly Flourish as well as having read the Complete Kobold’s Guide to Game Design. You should check both of them out.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Gamma World One Shot…SCARY?!?

Sat, 10/13/2012 - 02:31

Halloween is upon us and I am preparing to return an old tradition, this year, in the form of a Gamma World mashup.

I used to run the old Castle Ravenloft adventure every year at Halloween. But this year, I finally had a chance to run Gamma World, which I purchased oh-so-long ago and have yet to crack the spine on. Oh, what is a DM to do…?

As I was reading the Complete Kobold’s Guide to Game Design for the Tome Show Book Club it occurred to me, a mashup, of course. We’ll run a little Ravenloft-Gamma World!

I chatted it over with my buddies on Behind the DM Screen and started to formulate an idea. Then I thought about some of the Lazy DMing tips that you’re going to get to read about in Mike Shea’s upcoming book over at Sly Flourish and I’ve started to piece together a plan.

I’m going to try to do everything in sets of three. Three plots to follow, three major villains, three major NPCs, three major locations, etc. etc. Then I can list everything on note-cards, have them when I need them, and be ready to go without doing any serious prep work. It’s an experiment on top of an experiment on top of a post-apocalyptic wasteland!

So the setting is the Gamma World version of the town where my game group lives. To making things feel more at home, we’re going to bring in some local politics.

Let’s start with our three Villains:

1. Strahd – he’s taken over the Capitol building and declared himself the Duke of the South. Some of the building will be mapped with iconic features from the old module, some will be familiar with the real building. Plus, you know, vampire politicians hanging out by the blood-warmer (instead of water-cooler).

2. Khill – The current head of the Gamma World School Board, and also leader of the local werewolves. The rest of the board is split between werewolves and vampires.

3. Berdu – The governor who is a mysterious being who is never really seen and works entirely through proxies. In reality, she wasted away due to plague and is almost entirely all robot at this point.

Locations:

1. The School Board Monster Mash – there’s a party going on. This is where things will probably start and something will happen at the party to kick start events. It’ll be held in a park downtown.

2. Strahd’s Castle – i.e. the capitol building.

3. The Governors Manor – it’s spooky, it’s ooky, it’s probably haunted.

Plots:

1. Snagged – Strahd kidnaps Isabelle because she reminds him of his lost love.

2. Vying for Power – Khill tries to get the party to kill Strahd allowing the werewolves to fill in the power vacuum.

3. Revealed – Everyone is curious why the governor hasn’t shown up lately…lets bust in and see what she’s up to (which may be sinister…maybe she’s trying to release a nano-plague to convert everyone into her).

NPCs

1. Isabelle – The mayor’s aide, a cockroach lady, who resembles Strahds lost love. Everyone sees her as an innocent, she’s not as innocent as she seems.

2. Todec – Strahd’s toadie on the School Board, who secretly wants to overthrow Strahd himself.

3. Merle – The large, bear-like cyborg who is the mouthpiece for the mayor. A big, lumbering, slow fellow who secretly likes to eat people.

That’s what I have so far.

I’ve also bookmarked some pages in the various Gamma World books for possible monsters to use/reskin on the fly. I don’t expect to have more than one or two encounter, so I don’t likely need a lot. What I’ve found includes:

Death Knell Bugaboo, Gravog, Zombies, Arks, Tar Horror, Robot Guardbot, Soul Besh.

The only other prep I’ve done is to start to come up with some Fiasco-style character relationships that I’m going to try out (also inspired by Mike from Sly Flourish). I have about 13 of these done so far, I’d like to get to 20. Here’s what I’ve come up with, if you have more ideas please, leave them in the comments…

1. You have a child together

2. They stole your greatest love

3. Your contact with the vampires

4. Your dealer

5. Your teacher

6. Your political advisor

7. Your student

8. You voted for them

9. Dating your sister

10. Caught you spying on the werewolves

11. Is going to introduce you to Isabelle

12. Thinks you know the mayor

13. Your long-lost best friend

14. – 20. ????

 

Lastly, I’m hoping to put together a handful of maps that I can pull out and use for various locations and otherwise find a print out some real world maps of the actual locations as well as pull out my old Ravenloft module to merge in with the rest of the settings. And boom…game prep almost done.

Are there anythings I haven’t done that I need to? Should I work more on getting a few key monsters ready or do I have what I need for making changes on the fly? Should I be prepping specific maps or NPCS? Are there any lists of three I didn’t come up with yet that I probably should? This is my first time trying a really low-prep game session, it’s also my first time running Gamma World, or doing something so kookie for the Halloween game, so I’m an open book…post your suggestions or thoughts below!


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Eating The Lunch of Classes

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 02:01

Are classes becoming less and less important the longer D&D goes on? Is that good or bad? I’ve had this on my list of possible topics to discuss for some time and it’s sort of become a thing around the interwebs these days, so I figured what better time to openly contemplate some things here on THP.

Class is iconic to D&D. Without the concept of class there is no D&D, it would be a completely different game. It’s that important.

Which is strange, because class has become less important/iconic with every iteration of D&D released. At the rate we’ve moving within a decade or two D&D will become a strange classless mutant that has little to nothing to do with the original game. Or not, it seems reasonable that the trend will just stop.

In the beginning class was all. There wasn’t even race, it was all class.

Then race was separated out, and with good reason, and took some of it’s coolness with it, and so D&D characters became all about race and class.

Then the game evolved again and we had class and race, but we also had other defining characteristics. Like prestige classes (Class 2: Electric Bugaloo) and feats. These things also started to define who the character is and why they are unique. It also had the effect that two fighters could both be distinctly fighters and also not play the same, feel the same, or have the same background.

Next we had more things pulled out of class. Epic destinies, paragon paths, themes, backgrounds, etc. They all took just a tiny bit of the emphasis on class away. The way that class defined itself in 4e was with class features and powers. But feats could simulate many class feature style abilities, as good themes. Powers are gained in half a dozen places beyond class as well, and what’s more the powers of one class often feel very similar to another class. And yet, due to some careful design work, for the most part I knew if I was playing a rogue or a wizard. They were different enough, things were now balanced, and I could do these cool things to mechanically tie my character to story/setting.

Now we’re starting to look at the D&D Next playtest and it seems that class is losing a bit more of it’s mojo. Specialties and backgrounds are eating the classes lunch. No class pre-requisites for fetas, class has little impact on skills. Slowly but surely class is losing it’s emphasis.

I’m not sure this is a bad thing. Class has become less and less important because the game has evolved to allow players enough flexibility to use the rules to build a wider and wider variety of characters. I went through a long phase of always wanting to play the odd character that had combinations that shouldn’t work but do, so this increased flexibility is something I can appreciate.

Combinations like the fighter magic-user was always something you could imagine, but could seldom pull off in a way that was supported mechanically.

I feel like it’s a move that may very well be making a better game. If I have any concern it’s that now it’s harder and harder to make a character that fit the iconic archetypes and I hope that’s something that the designers keep in mind. All classes may be able to become acolytes of a temple…but clerics should still be able to be the holiest holy men around.

I do wonder, as the game emphasizes the role of class more and more does the game become D&D less and less? It’s a question that interests me because Next feels like it de-emphasizes the class more than any evolution since dwarf became a race. Which is ironic when the common design goal seems to be to capture the core of what D&D has been and is over the ages.

What do you think? Am I making mountains out of mole hills? Is class actually becoming less important or can we add to the game in one area without taking away from it in another area? If class is becoming less important is that a bad thing? What do you think?

 


Categories: Blogs, D&D

The Floundering Campaign – Cut Bait or Fish?

Tue, 09/11/2012 - 01:55

It’s common for campaigns to start off strong, energy is high, engagement is rampant…and then over time something changes. Today, after thinking about it and listening carefully to things being said at GenCon I’m contemplating my own struggling campaign and evaluating if it’s time to let it go or see if I can save it.

When my gaming group started playtesting D&D Next we decided, at my encouragement, to start a “playtesting campaign” (which I’ve written about before, on RPG Musings). It was an idea that had a lot of engagement from myself and the players. There was a high level of buy in to the setting, which the players helped me create. It was glorious.

This, however, was in the early days of the Friends and Family playtest of Next. As it turns out, it was too early to even think about starting a campaign. We went through one or two versions of the rules at that time. Then the first official playtest document came out and suddenly we lost the ability to make our own characters, so we re-imagined the adventure and started over with a new party in the same setting (who had no connection to the setting/story). Then we got the character creations rules and re-created the original PCs because they had more meaningful connections to the setting and the story…but it was too little too late.

It turns out that playtesting in this way and running a full campaign with it is…problematic. Fluctuating rules, changing characters, and irregular play experience has left everyone feeling a bit disconnected to the story, it seems.

I don’t know that there’s anyone to blame for this. I think the setting is awesome and the campaign concept still works and I still want to get back to it. The question at this point is, do I shelf the concept of the campaign for the time being in hopes of bringing it out when I have a more stable system or do I try and inject some more energy back into it now that we have some playtest rules that are more stable.

Let me walk through the options.

In one case, I can cut bait. I can scrap the campaign and save the concept for another time. I probably wouldn’t save the setting, I’d call it done, blow it up, and recreate Nexus in the future. I’d keep the idea of the sandbox, kitchen-sink setting where the players help me build the world and the story that will allow me to add in all the products that come out as we play. But start over with the whole thing in a year or two when we have D&D Next in something close to it’s final form.

In this case, we would continue to run short mini-campaigns in my group. Right now we’re running Gardmore Abbey, we also have interest in converting Eyes of the Lich Queen, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, and more. We would just keep on doing these mini-campaigns for a while and start another long term campaign when Next is ready for us.

In the other option we can try and add new energy into the current Nexus game. I have some ideas on how to do this, but it would take some buy in and work from the players and myself. I’d want to start back at character generation, maybe then also add back into the idea of adding some more to the setting to help the PCs better connect to the world, and even then it may not work.

The risk is that Next will continue to change enough that we run into the same problem and lose the energy again. However, it seems that we have character creation rules now…we’re not likely to lose the again. So I think if my players buy in we could still salvage this thing…so maybe we should just go ahead and fish with what we have.

If we choose to save the current Nexus then we still have one other issue to address. How to we run it. We were running our sessions in two parts. An encounter or two of our normal campaign each game session followed by a couple of encounters worth of Next. It worked fine at the time…but lately we’ve been rather enjoying running Gardmore straight through.

We could also do our mini-campaigns and then do a short, 1-3 session Next campaign in between each mini-campaign. Allow us to give each campaign the amount of time that, perhaps, they deserve.

This is where I tell you that none of this discussion or any suggestions you might give actually matter. I mean, it’s a decision that has to be made by myself and, more importantly, my players. However, I’m still interested in what you think.

Do I “cut bait” or do I “fish”? What would you do? Should we split each 6+ hour game session or focus on one at a time?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, make sure to leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.

Also, if your still waiting for my lessons from a 1-30 campaign, rest assured, it is not forgotten…but it was put on hold for a bit around GenCon. But I am getting myself back into the habit and it’s high on the list.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Charon’s Claw Showed Me The Way

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 01:52

A while back I received a review copy of the latest R.A. Salvatore book, Charon’s Claw and in preparation for an interview I did with the author for The Tome Show, I read through the book this month. This is the third time in as many years that I’ve interviewed Salvatore and I have to admit, after the first couple of times getting to know the New York Times Best Selling author there were things that bothered me about his philosophy for writing Forgotten Realms novels.

I don’t know if I was getting a more sincere response, if he’s grown as an author, or if I’ve just gotten better as an interviewer and/or reader, but this year, I have set all those fears aside and have come to a much greater appreciation for Salvatore and his Drizzt novels.

Let me be straight, I have always enjoyed Drizzt novels but I don’t think I ever appropriately appreciated them. My journey goes a bit like this.

I started reading Drizzt novels in 9th grade. I found rollicking adventure stories that inspired my adolescent D&D mind. Over time I got more and more into gaming and more and more into the Forgotten Realms as a setting.

Whenever I went back to a Drizzt novel, however, I was working from the expectations of 9th grade me. That’s not a bad thing. It took me back to that time and place and pointed me towards a place of joy. This is probably why I loved the Ghost King novel so much. A villain who is an undead, psionic dragon with a powerful artifact fused to it’s horn really spoke to the over the top action I remembered loving from Drizzt.

Over time I saw the author trying to inject more serious themes and I struggled to take them seriously. He didn’t seem as steeped in Realmslore, instead writing what he wanted and making the setting adjust to him, and his admission, in previous years, that his Realmslore wasn’t strong and he didn’t have time to read other people’s work in the setting chaffed me. And like others, Drizzt felt a bit Mary Sue-ish to me. A character who never loses any battle, gets the girl, and has perfectly loyal friends.

And all of this was fine. I knew what I was getting and I really loved it for what it was.

Over the last few years, though, I’ve come to a realization. I haven’t given these stories enough credit.

This realization first came with the Pirate King novel when a friend, Jeremiah McCoy mentioned to me that the book was an allegory for the Iraq situation. He was right, there was a larger lesson there and because I came in with my 9th grade expectations I didn’t appreciate it, even when it was pointed out to me.

The last few years of novels have been a struggle trying to get a handle on the new situation for the character. Not only is he just 100 years in the future but his behavior seemed inconsistent to me compared with what I expected from previous books.

Sure, Salvatore had told me that the character isn’t as mature as I’d given him credit for, but his history, experience, and mature relationships (both romantic and friendships) told me otherwise.

Finally, in this new book, Charon’s Claw, I had an epiphany. I have started seeing the character closer to the way I believe Salvatore intended. Drizzt has a lot of experience and wisdom, sure, but he’s also very emotionally immature. That’s not  combination we’re used to seeing because as humans it’s hard for us to understand someone who could be hundreds of years old and have the emotional maturity of a teenager. I think that was a key component I was missing.

The epiphany came in a moment when I realized just how unreliable Drizzt is as a narrator. He mentions something about Entreri not caring what others think about him…and then immediately Entreri gets mad about people naming stuff after him. Clearly he cares or he wouldn’t be mad, and Drizzt just doesn’t see it at all, doesn’t understand people’s emotions and motivations. Entereri continues to show how much he cares about what others think through the book.

It was from that moment that I started to see the flaws in the character going back decades. And not flaws as in problems, but flaws as in humanizing characteristics.

Salvatore also made it clear how much he does to to work within the canon of the Realms and mentioned that he has a “to read” list of FR books, which was nice to hear. He still struggles with Realmslore, a bit.

Throughout the book the Netherese Empire is a looming villain but his depiction of this realm is quite different than what I expected from other works on the subject. And he admitted in the interview that he didn’t know a lot about that part of Realmslore, but explained his interpretation of them and how he thinks they can fit into the larger setting.

One of the things I wish all FR authors did was better integrate Realmslore and tell stories that can only be told in that setting using the continuity built upon by their peers and Salvatore can still improve in this area.

But, it turns out, there are other places where he is leaps and bounds ahead of others and I never gave him the credit he deserves for all these years.

Charon’s Claw is a great example of great storytelling with fully detailed characters. No author I know takes the time to bring villains and side-characters to life quite like Salvatore does and it’s a rip-roaring good opportunity to see what it’s like when an author can tell a long form story that isn’t just contained within one book.

I still prefer the deeper story telling when it’s fully about the people in the stories in a meaningful and individual way and less about society and larger themes of the sort (like Pirate King), but Charon’s Claw does this better than I recall from other novels in the series.

In this case, it’s a story all about coming out from the things that enslave you, be it your past, your hatred, or a magical artifact as well as seeing what happens when you try to redeem those who might be irredeemable and how to cope with the loss of your life as you knew it.

If this is your first Drizzt novel I think you’ll struggle to really appreciate the story, but if you have a history with the character this is a novel that should serve you quite well.

 

Amazon.com Widgets


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Kaijudo for Kids (and Me)

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 19:59

For months now I have been getting press releases and links and information about a new card game called Kaijudo from Wizards of the Coast. It held almost no interest for me.

 

The problem is that is looked like Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic, or some other such collectible card game. How often do these sorts of games show up and then fade away. With a few exceptions these are generally fickle fads without staying power, so why invest my money and energy into acquiring and building a strategy for doing well at this new fad-game?

 

Then WotC sent me a review copy of the first Kaijudo offering, so I figured, “alright, fine, I’ll try it out”. My son (6 years old) was very excited when he saw the box and so the next day we broke it out and gave it a whirl. 

 

I have to say, he loved it, and I found myself enjoying it as well.

 

The set comes with two pre-built decks with decent boxes for carrying/organizing your decks, play mats, and instructions on how to play that literally fit onto a small piece of paper. 

 

That’s how easy the game is to learn and play. 

 

The rules feel exceedingly like a simplified version of Magic. Strip out all the interruption effects, the large pool of life points, and using land for mana and you’re very close to this game. 

 

It uses some interesting mechanics to replace these things that add a layer of interest to the game while keeping playing (and I imagine deck building as the offerings for the line grow). 

 

Instead of land for mana, you actually use your normal cards for mana. So no need to make sure you have enough land in your deck and it adds the added strategic element of deciding which card your going to use for mana (making it otherwise unusable). 

 

Instead of life points you have five shield cards. Cards drawn at random from your deck and placed face down, so no one knows what cards they are. When they’re gone you can be attacked directly…and one successful such attack ends the game. It makes the pacing of the game very fast. There are some creatures you can summon that can block attacks, but not too many, and with only 5 chances to survive before the game is over things move wrap up fast. What’s more, when one of your shields is broken in an attack, you get to add that card to your hand. So being attacked has a benefit. 

 

So I guess the gist is that Kaijudo is interesting, simple enough to play that my 6 year old does an okay job at it (some of of the deeper strategy was difficult for him to grasp, but that was more due to a refusal to read all of his cards before he decided what to do), but complex enough that I enjoyed the strategy of the game. 

It needs some growth to be sustainable, I think (more cards, more varieties) and how that happens will be the trick to the success of the line. It could become a money-vacuum that drives me out as other CCGs have, it could become overly complex to the point that I can’t play it with my young son…but it could, just maybe, become a really good bridge for my son to step up his gaming exposure to more complex games with time while still being fun to play for many many years. 

 

I still don’t know if this is going to be yet another fad in the CCG turnstile, but for a relatively cheap price I can get the two first decks and have a great game to play between a father and a son.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Preparing For Gardmore

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 01:22

My 4 year 1-30 Forgotten Realms campaign is over and now it’s time to move on to our next adventure, Madness At Gardmore Abbey. After 4 years of running one campaign our group decided it would be nice to use this opportunity to try out some new things before D&D Next becomes developed enough that we can feel good about using it as our main system (assuming it is that good). And after 4 years of making my own adventures, encounters, and story lines the options that I put up for a vote amongst my players for this first post-1-30 round was published adventures (note, I wasn’t the only person in my group offering to run something).

The most popular choice was Gardmore Abbey. So we’re sticking with 4e for the time being, but going back to heroic tier where we haven’t played in several years. As soon as I saw that Gardmore was starting to pull ahead in the voting I pulled it out and started reading. I’ve now read through the whole thing and have a good idea of what I’m doing with it. That said, just because I’m running a published adventure doesn’t mean I don’t care about the players feeling connected to the story and feeling like it has a dynamic pace.

So there are some things I’m thinking about as I do my prep and some things I’m attempting to do to help the players feel more connected to the game and get more enjoyment out of the story and role-playing.

First, I am making restrictions on character creation. Well, not many, not since we decided to keep the adventure in the Nentir Vale (rather than move it to another setting) but I did create some character creation preferences as well. Some bonus, 1st level, feats if you choose a class or race that best evokes the story and setting. I’m not too worried about imbalancing things with a few bonus feats, they’re 1st level, so they’re only “so” powerful and the players won’t be using these PCs beyond 3 levels.

Second, I’m asking my players to look at the background information about the setting and trying to find inspiration from that to make their characters, rather than make a character and then see if you can fit it into the setting. I’ve told them that making a character you want to play is the number one priority…but see if you can do it by getting ideas from the setting.

Along with that I’ve asked them to contact me regularly and talk to me as they work on their characters so that I can help them fit what their doing into my vision of the Nentir Vale (which I have limited knowledge of anyway).

While character creation starts to wrap up I also am planning to give the PCs different quests (the adventure has 21 quests listed, about half a dozen of which can act as initial adventure hooks). This could create some interesting role-playing (“hey, we found a cool sword”, “uh, yeah, I need to take that and give it to someone, actually”) and connect them personally to the story (and in some cases each other).

All those different quests will hopefully act as a way of bringing them together at the right time and place to start the adventure and form a party.

Likewise, I’m interested in trying to keep things dynamic in the adventure…luckily, the adventure has a lot of that built in. It specifically says, “if you kill a lot of those and then leave, this is how things change while you’re gone”. That’s awesome, I don’t have to worry about it.

I’ve also used leveling as a way to highlight what the PCs were doing was important and when. I abandoned experience points a long time ago. I’m glad for it and don’t miss them at all. Good riddance, I say. But now I’m running a campaign of 3 levels in a published sandbox-style, dynamic adventure…it’s hard to know when/how to level the PCs using the same method. They could, after all, hit all the high points of the adventure right at the end…I can’t justify giving them two levels right after another after weeks of no leveling.

I mentioned that there were 21 quests in the game, I created a spreadsheet to track them all, and I considered just splitting them up. Complete 8 quests, get a level. This does feel a little like a compromise between what I want to do (level them when it feels right with the story) and experience points.

So those are the things I’m contemplating as I work on running Gardmore Abbey. I like the general direction I’m going, although I’ve had some blowback. I have some players who seem to be struggling with restrictions and being given guidelines on building characters. They just aren’t used to it, they’ve never dealt with it before, and I’m afraid it’s going to lead to some of them just not investing at all about their characters.

Likewise, quest-based leveling could feel just as uncompromising, uninspiring, and mechanical as experience points, so I’m even less sure on that idea than I am on the others.

What do you think? Am I being too limiting on my character creation ideals? Is quest-based leveling just experience points with easier math to track, but otherwise has all the same baggage? If it is, is that all bad?


Categories: Blogs, D&D

On Realms Forgotten

Sun, 07/08/2012 - 13:59

There has been a bit of discussion in some corners of the community regarding D&D Next and the Forgotten Realms. It started, from what I could find, with Matt James posting a statement around social networks that he was going to be booing at GenCon if they announced that they were rebooting the Realms. At it’s face, I think I agree.

So far we’ve that WotC plans to support the Forgotten Realms from the start of the D&D Next release. This isn’t as telling or meaningful as some people have made it. I’ve heard claims that the Realms will be the default setting for the new edition. I can’t confirm that anywhere other than speculation and some people turn to support at launch as evidence (why support it from the start if it’s not ingrained into the game?).

Of course, the 4e Realms were released very shortly after 4e launched (the same summer)…that’s support pretty much from launch, and we are all aware that the Realms are not the default 4e setting, that was what the Nentir Vale grew up to be.

The 3e Realms were released a bit less than a year after the 3e core books but more telling is that during the 3e era WotC published a new Realms sourcebook practically every single month. Can’t get much more supportive than that. But the 3e default setting was Greyhawk.

So suffice it to say, I have a hard time believing that launch-day support means that the Realms must be the core setting.

What’s more, they have announced that Ed Greenwood, creator of the Realms, would not just be involved in the new Realms, but would lead it’s design. This is a positive thing for any Realms fan, to be sure. But Ed is also a WotC freelancer.

He doesn’t work for the company. This might be more evidence that the Realms won’t be the default setting. Would they put the default setting into the hands of someone who doesn’t work for them? Well, maybe, they put the design of Next into the hands of some freelancers as well. So it’s not out of line to think it’s possible…but this, in my mind, leans away from a default setting of the Realms.

What’s more, the Realms are filled to the brim with a long, complicated, and sometimes unfriendly continuity. This would not make it a welcoming default setting to players who aren’t already fans of the setting except by great effort or a worldwide reboot. And thus we approach the statement originally made by Matt James.

Do the Realms need a reboot?

The sweeping changes made to the setting with the 4e launch were certainly not popular and a reboot would allow them to undo all that. But it’s happened, and people have played in that changed setting, a whole legion of 4e players have been exposed to the post-Spellplague realms through Living Forgotten Realms organized play, novels about some of our favorite characters and some new favorites have been written in the new Realms.

As unpopular as the changes to the Realms were with 4e, it’s spawned new fans who only know those Realms and gained acceptance amongst some long time, die hard Realms fans along the way. The Realms have a large continuity and history because there’s been an attempt to make as many of the stories (be they in novels, modules, video games, or comics) part of that world’s canon. Whenever possible the Realms have been added to, and only when blatant contradictions happened did something have to be taken out.

A reboot would break from the very thing that makes the Realms the Realms.

I love the Forgotten Realms because of the continuity, not despite it. If I wanted a low continuity world that doesn’t have all that history I have…well….pretty much every D&D setting ever published that wasn’t the Forgotten Realms.

The Realms, like them or leave them, have developed something unique and rare in it’s shared world concept and success that is a meaningful part of the culture that should not be taken lightly.

I know the taking massive story continuity properties and rebooting them is very popular (and so far successful) right now. I am specifically thinking of the DC Universe reboot (the New 52) and the recent announcement that Marvel is going to be following in their footsteps to some degree.

I am saying, however, that WotC need not do this. I’m a big DC reader and I’ve made the transition from the old continuity to the new universe. I can tell you, the reboot is not what is making the New 52 successful for me…it’s great story telling and creativity. WotC is creative enough that they can tell great stories without starting over or rewinding the timeline.

There has been talk that maybe WotC will support several different eras of the Realms at once (this seems well supported by things said by WotC staff). I’m okay with this at it’s face. I think it may constrain storytelling (in terms of novels written and modules designed) and someone is going to have to be very very careful about maintaining the continuity of the world (since all past stories have to fit in with all future stories), but I think maybe…MAYBE, this can be done if the writers and designers are very careful and maintain high standards over time.

Over time. That’s the trick.

I feel confident that they could do this and do it well at first, but 5 years, 10 years down the road (I may be optimistic about the longevity of the new edition)? That’s a much harder commitment to be hold out hope for such careful maintenance.

It’s good that Ed Greenwood is at the helm of the new Realms, if there’s anyone I trust to take on that role it’s him and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to invalidate his own work (he’s written a decent amount in the 4e Realms) and that leaves me with hope. I’ve mentioned that I don’t think the Realms will be the default setting…but should it be? I think that may be an article for another day.

Regardless, most of this is based on speculation. Speculation from people who have a lot of Realms knowledge and experience with WotC, it’s staff, and it’s history. Some people have taken their speculation to a place of some surety, even. But I can’t find any corroboration that is meaningful yet, and so I add my standard, “it’s not been announced and nothing is released…let’s not over-reach with our predictions yet”.

What do you think? Should the Realms be the default setting? Should they reboot it to a previous timeline? Is it reasonable to think that they might be able to support 3 or 4 points in the same setting’s timeline at once? Leave a comment below.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

The Future Is Now

Thu, 07/05/2012 - 01:18

So I’ve been contemplating a plan for my digital life for some months now. I started talking to people privately about it a month or so ago, I contacted people directly impacted by it a couple weeks ago, and I publicly posted about it a week ago here on THP along with a poll. I’ve looked at that poll and it’s results to see if what I was thinking was likely to be well received. I discussed the subject with some trusted friends and successful internet personalities. And so I’ve made a decision.

From this point forward Temporary Hit Points will be my (text based) gaming corner of the internet, although I may choose to finish up some things from the old, player-focus days. That’s part of what I like about the new focus for the site, I have the freedom to allow myself to write and publish whatever I want.

I am working on a new look to help represent this change and you may see some changes for a while as we get settled in. That said, none of the old stuff is going away. I’m not wiping the slate clean and starting fresh, we’re just pivoting from this point in the road and moving a slightly different direction.

I may even throw in some non-gaming, but geek-focused things here now and then. I had an article series I really liked over at Troll in the Corner called “Greatest Ever…” that was only occasionally gaming specific. I look forward to writing with this new sense of freedom and using it as a chance to boost up my productivity. No more spreading myself thin. If it’s gaming and I’m writing it, it’ll be here (unless someone pays me to write it for them…anyone who wants to do that is welcome to).

I look forward to seeing where the future will take us…because the future is now!


Categories: Blogs, D&D

The Future?!?!?

Thu, 06/28/2012 - 01:33

So I’ve come to decision time.

Temporary Hit Points is a website for the D&D Player. A need that I saw generally not being filled in a focused way on the internet which seems odd to me given that there are a lot more players than DMs. Things started really strong. We set a pace of at least one article a week. We had some great contributors and fantastic (and popular) one shots from industry guests. The site grew slowly but surely. It never went gang busters or got the attention that I thought some of the contributions of some of our writers deserved, but that first year is something I am extremely proud of.

The second year was less successful. The pacing started to flag to “an occasional article”. We brought in some GREAT new contributors, but the number of contributors started to flag in general (all for very good and reasonable reasons). David, specifically, has done some great things and I’ve been proud to have them on the site.

Now we are looking at the start of year three of Temporary Hit Points and something has to change…I’m not entirely sure what that something is going to be yet, but I have some ideas.

What’s more the gaming work of Jeff Greiner needs a change as well. I am currently spread very thin contributing to a lot of different sites and projects to some detriment. I end up barely contributing to any of them and that is pretty demotivating.

There are a few options I’m considering and I’m curious what you guys think. I may or may not go with the most popular choice, but the feedback you give me will definitely impact my decision making process.

Option 1: Keep things going the way they are. I can promise to try and pick things up, finish the player-design series (that I was enjoying but ran into a hefty one…and then D&D Next has me questioning the need at this point). David, and Jeff D. and former contributors would continue to be welcome to do their thing and I would put out the call to try to find more writers for the site. All that said, I can’t promise any of this would go anywhere and the result might be that the site continues to limp along.

Option 2: Turn THP into the Jeff Greiner Gaming Blog (not using that name). Instead of contributing to a dozen different sites barely and with constraints that I’ve created for myself I would re-brand and re-built Temporary Hit Points to become a place where I talk about gaming. I might continue some of the series I’ve started elsewhere and here but I would also feel liberated to be able to write about whatever I want to write about even it doesn’t fit a theme or series that’s been established. If there was something I want to talk about, this is where I’d do it. I’ve already talked to David, who is really the only regular contributor anymore, and I have ways to help him find a home. I refuse to let him stop writing because his stuff is great. This does abandon one of my goals when I started writing more about gaming, that being to organizing my digital life by creating a little corner of the internet for each thing I was trying to do. If I wanted to write about a certain thing and didn’t have a place to do it, I’d start a new project or start contributing to another site. In this option I would organize my life into: podcasting (The Tome Show), gaming stuff (THP), or non-gaming stuff (somewhere else). It should mean an increase in posting here as well.

Option 3: Just let THP die. If I want to go on to other things I can start something new or just use RPG Musings to house all of my stuff or something.

Option 4: Something I haven’t considered yet. Leave a comment, I’m open to suggestion.

So those are the things I’m thinking about. I’ve tried to talk to everyone directly impacted by this (contributors to this site as well as owners of sites I’ve been writing for) so no one who should be in the know should find this as a surprise. If I missed it, believe me, it was not intentional. But now it’s your turn…what do you think I should do? I’ll probably post next week to let you know where I’m going with things.

Give me your wisdom…

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Categories: Blogs, D&D

Role-Playing With Cards

Tue, 05/22/2012 - 01:30

Power cards have becomes a large part of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. While cards themselves date back to the boxes of spell cards sold during 2nd Edition, 4e has embraced power cards as a core element of game play and they are handy, as they dramatically reducing the need to reference books during play.

Anyone who has used either of the official Character Builders has seen (and likely used) power cards.  The Red Box includes cards for the pre-gens, and the Character Record Sheets included blank cards. And anyone who picked-up a class’ boxes of pre-printed cards has certainly seen them. The designers even worry about card game elements such as “hand size”.

However, power cards can also be something of a crutch: instead of imaging all the things their character could do, players instead look down at the table and see what the game says their character can do. Power cards artificially impose mental limits on a character’s actions. When the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer every problem seems like a nail, and when every card on the table says “deal damage and impose a condition” every obstacle seems like an incentive to roll initiative.

While the mechanics of powers are limited for reasons of combat balance, with a little creativity – and some DM adjudication – they do not have to be.

Playing with Power

Here’s how it works: you take your At-Will and Encounter power cards and flip them over. (No, I’m not suggesting the don’t-look-at-your-cards approach; this is only Step #1.) On the backs of the flipped cards copy the name and flavour text of the powers. You now have power cards divorced from mechanic constraints, power cards that are limited only by the description provided.

The empty space below the flavour text is a good place to jot down some ideas of creative uses of the power, unbounded by the restrictions of combat balance or mechanics. Within reason and subject to DM adjudication of course.

This way, when you look down at the table in a role-playing or exploratory situation, instead of being confronted by cards pushing you into combat situations or limiting creativity, there are a series of cards offering starting points for imaginative, creative solutions.

I suggest limiting this to At-Will and Encounter powers because it’s easy to flip them all back over at the start of combat. If Daily powers were included players would have to remember which powers were and were not used at the start of each combat. There’s also the question of the expenditure of Daily powers outside of combat: does dropping a fireball to light a campfire expend the power? Logically it should, but doing so penalizes the player; it’s hard asking a player to improvise with a power they can only use once a day. And ignoring Daily powers also side-steps the question of if Daily powers should be more effective or useful than Encounter powers as they’re a limited resource.

It’s easier to just stick to Encounter powers that can be quickly recharged after “five-minutes and a sandwich.”

I also like writing down the name of the power in appropriately coloured ink, so I can easily tell if it’s an At-Will or Encounter power. Even outside of combat players shouldn’t be firing off Encounter powers in rapid succession without a break.

The DM should reserve the right to veto options, restrict them to far weaker opponents, or call for checks such as attack rolls or skill checks.

Example of Use

My current 4e character is a changeling psion with the telepath build. Telepath psions are a good example of what I’m doing because, despite being called telepaths, they have no powers that let them read and enemy’s thoughts or alter minds outside of a combat situation. For example, using the Memory Hole power my psion can make himself telepathically invisible, but only while dealing d6s of damage. He can remove himself from the minds of guards blocking a door, but in doing so he’ll likely kill them.

The power Memory Hole has the following flavour text: “You sift through your foe’s mind for the mental representation of yourself within it and brutally rip it out.”The “brutally” bit seems aimed at explaining the damage, but sometimes it’d be nice to have the option of finesse, a character who is a little more Professor X and a little less Scanners.

Flipping the card over, I copy the name and the fluff. Below that I write down a couple creative uses of the power, inspired by the fluff text (and a little by the mechanics on the front side).

  • I make myself, an ally, or an object invisible
  • I fuzzy someone’s recent memories of me, so they don’t recognise me
  • I add myself to someone’s mind, creating a fake memory or a false image of myself

Suddenly the power becomes a lot more open to creative use. My psion could become virtually invisible while sneaking into the King’s bedchamber, erase the details of his appearance from the Queen when she suddenly awakens, make the magically sealed glassteel chest containing the crown jewels seem empty, and then add the false image of someone running away down the hall. This leaves the chamber empty long enough for the jewels to be liberated while the guards chase after a fading memory.

Or he could do something as mundane as walking up to a veteran at the bar and insisting they served together in “the war”. Because no one likes to drink alone.

The DM might allow me to freely alter the minds of weak flunkies or minions, but call for an attack roll to see if I penetrate a more formidable person’s mental defences. Alternatively, an Arcana skill check might be needed to see if I can unnoticeably alter the target’s perceptions or if my manipulation ends up looking like some obvious low-budget green screen trickery.

Sample Cards

Included below are a few power cards with a few simple examples of how to take powers and add some depth or variety of use. (Plus, it’s a lovely excuse to make some power cards for earlier blog posts by myself and others.)

I’ll start with the theme power from my adapted vampire theme, posted here, with the power revised to accommodate feedback. This is a little bit of a tricky one as tapping a vein tends to be a fairly overtly hostile act. Without a built-in vampiric seduction power or flavour it doesn’t fly in social situations. But I included a few ideas anyway.

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Next we have the kwom, which is another hard power as it’s very mechanically and doesn’t exactly have a whole lot of flavour behind it. Kwom stop crits; that’s pretty much their entire mechanical shtick. They’re stubborn extra-planar dwarves who get really pissy when things go bad, which is a fun character hook but doesn’t lend itself to powers.

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Lastly, we have the three shifter races. The inspiration for the creative use of the various shifting powers comes from the source animals. The descendant of a werebear, when shifting into a bear-like form, should probably gain some bear-like traits. I fought the urge to include “steal picnic baskets” and “poop in the woods” as options.

This is the Tuskhunt shifter race, one of the three by Jared Glenn of the now defunct Power Source podcast. That article can be found here.

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Another race from the shifter series, this one can be found here.

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And the last of the shifter races by Mr. Glenn. This one was originally posted here.

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And that’s it for now. I hope to get something else written sooner rather than later, baring more illness and distractions like the last couple months.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

i4e For You!

Fri, 03/09/2012 - 03:11

Remember back when I reviewed iOS apps for D&D players?

One of my favorite apps in that list was called i4e, which was one of the best 4e character sheet apps out there by far. Well, it’s been through some updates and now it’s even better. The importing still isn’t perfect…but it’s pretty darn good. You still have to double check some of the math, but the mistakes are fewer and fewer…and just as seldom as any other service or app I’ve seen.

If you don’t have a DDI account it’s still hugely useful and I found that you can enter your PC through the import site pretty easily without having to type it all up on your iPod/Pad/Phone’s touchscreen keyboard. All in all, when I’m playing D&D…this is the app I use almost exclusively these days.

And here’s the best news, you can win a copy of i4e RIGHT NOW!

The creator of the app has offered up 4 download codes for Tracy Hurley and myself to give away via our various websites.

All you have to do is head over to Tracy’s site, Sarah Darkmagic and take the quiz, filling in your name and email and BAM, you’re entered to win.

Every day of the contest we will promote this in a different place and offer a hint towards one of the questions. Your hint here is that in case you’re not familiar with fantasy economics, it may be useful to know that the Darkmagic clan owns a Rainbow mine…they just love the taste!

Alright there’s your hint. Head over to Sarah Darkmagic and enter to win. If you want to find the other clues keep an eye out on Tracy’s twitter @SarahDarkmagic and mine @Squach

Enjoy!


Categories: Blogs, D&D

New Sub-Races

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 19:52
New Sub-Races

Variant races are hardly something new: in First Edition AD&D there were already three different types of elves (plus sea elves), a couple different gnomes, a trio of halflings, and handful of dwarves. Sub-races have made an appearance in almost every edition to date.

In 4th Edition, sub-races were initially handled via feats in the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide, which made them difficult to implement at first level. It took some time for true sub-races to make their début for4th Edition, finally appearing in the Neverwinter campaign guide (excluding the dragonborn subrace that appeared in Dragon magazine) .

Here are a five new sub-races for your game, designed to add a dash of variety to existing races. For simplicity, each race only has their power swapped-out and replaced so little modification has to be done to printed character sheets. Power cards have also been provided, so the new options can be slipped into your game as seamlessly as possible.

Deva, Tasked

Unlike other mortal beings whose souls depart following death, the race of descended angels known as devas are locked into a cycle of reincarnation and rebirth. Devas who fall in battle return to the World, but only after a period of dormancy as their soul slowly creates a new vessel to host their consciousness.

Tasked deva are different, being chosen for a divine purpose and unable rest, which prevents a leisurely return life; instead, tasked deva return after a number of days, consuming some essence of past lives to either fuel their rebirth or sustain current incarnation. This is not done lightly: if a tasked deva resurrects itself too often they risk using all of their previous lives and destroying their own soul in the process, permanently dying with no chance of reincarnation.

The duty of a tasked deva is typically a holy mission assigned by their favoured deity. The deva is typically privy to the details of the quest, but some have only vague impression of their quest. Other devas became tasked after vowing to complete a deed or perform some service, and feel personally responsible to see it to completion. A rare few were tricked into an unbreakable oath or signed a magical contract and are now compelled to fulfil their end of the bargain.

Role-Playing a Tasked Deva

Bear the weight of several lifetimes. Deva are functionally immortal, never truly dying. However, most have only hazy memories of their pasts, which fade after reincarnation. You remember everything: if your quest takes generation you recall all of the intervening time.

Dedicated to the task. You are focused on your sworn duty, be it a simple yet lengthy mission or an impossible task. All tasked deva have a strong sense of obligation and responsibility or they would shirk their task or would let their oath lapse with death. How you handle the burden varies: you might drift into obsession with your duty or view the quest as a journey to be enjoyed.

Remember death and dying.  The difference between a deva on a quest and a tasked deva and is that a tasked deva has died and refused to stay dead. All deva have died and been reincarnated, but you remember your deaths, remember the agony of dying, and fear of the unknown.

Tasked Deva Benefits

When creating a tasked deva, you gain the following benefits. These benefits replace memory of a thousand lifetimes.

Refusal to Die: Tasked deva refuse to die easily, knowing the time it takes to regenerate and resurrect might add months or even years to their task. They use some of the accrued energy of past lifetimes to sustain themselves and recover from injury. Benefit: You die after four failed Death saving throws, instead of three.  Additionally, on a successful death saving throw, you can choose to use Second Wind as no action.

Self Resurrection: Instead of dying and then reincarnating on a distant holy site, tasked devas regenerate their injured bodies to continue their mission. This is a painful and unpleasant process that destroys some of the deva’s past lives, essentially consuming a part of its own soul. This does require the tasked deva’s body to be mostly intact and too much damage forces the deva to reincarnate normally and hope they remember enough to continue their quest. Benefit: Each day after dying you can make a death saving throw as if you were only dying and not dead. If the result a 20 or higher you a can spend a healing surge normally and return to life. You suffer penalties as if the Raise Dead ritual had been used. If in the intervening time, your companions instead perform the Raise Dead ritual, the ritual costs a quarter of the normal amount and the death penalty fades after only two milestones.

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Dragonborn, Winged

The draconic heritage of dragonborn typically manifests in their breath weapon, suggesting the colour of their ancient progenitor. Some dragonborns inherent a different gift from their wyrm ancestors, and are born with wings.

Some suggested winged dragonborn are secretly the offspring of polymorphed dragons, the chosen of one of the dragon gods, or simple freaks of nature. Dragonborn themselves are split between believing their winged offspring are throwbacks to an earlier lineage or are fated for great things with their wings symbolizing their destiny.

Winged dragonborn do not always breed true. The children of winged dragonborn might also have wings, dragonbreath, or even the rarer ability to radiate dragonfear. There are small communities of dragonborn exclusively with wings, but even in these villages the occasional wingless dragonborn hatches.

Role-Playing a Winged Dragonborn

The burden of greatness. Winged dragonborn are seldom seen as insignificant; even when viewed as dangerous abominations they are noteworthy. You have never been ignored and are used to standing out in a crowd. Your whole life you have been told you were special or had a destiny. You might grow arrogant under the attention or just long to be normal.

Feel the wind beneath your wings. Other races and peoples run, but you soar. Nothing else is the same and you long to be in the air, with the ground far below. As such, you are used to observing the world from the sky, seeing a little farther than others, and always wondering what’s just over the next ridge.

Live with a different perspective.You might view yourself as superior to your land-locked brethren. This might be because you believe the rumours your are more in touch with your draconic heritage or graced by the blood of Io. Or this might be because you often literally look down upon you neighbours.

Winged Dragonborn Benefit

Flight: A winged dragonborn seldom has the energy or strength to carry themselves over long distances. Flying is exhausting, especially in a tactical situation. Benefit: Once per encounter, you gain a fly speed equal to your land speed that lasts until the end of your turn. If you are not on solid ground at the end of your turn, you glide to the ground and do not take damage. Outside of combat, this power can be sustained with a standard action. This benefit replaces dragon breath.

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Gnomes, Crazed

All gnomes are a little off, either originating from a magical fey world or living in a realm that is not their own. However, normal gnomes seem grounded and boring compared to crazed gnomes. Crazed gnomes prefer terms such as “focused” or “dedicated”, but they are best described as obsessive. The natural gnomish curiosity is much more dominant among crazed gnomes, and they feel a pressing urge to solve mysteries, explain events, and fix problems. Crazed gnomes are logical but often manic, with too many thoughts going on in their head: they often skip ahead in conversations, assume esoteric facts are common knowledge, and mutter to themselves.

It’s often assumed crazed gnomes are innately less magical than standard gnomes, which isn’t always true. Many crazed gnomes are deeply interested in magic, fervently exploring the mystical arts and seeking arcane mysteries and discoveries.  However, unlike other gnomes, crazed gnomes are fascinated by science and technology; some abandon magic to focus on science while others try to fuse magic and technology inventing improbable creations.

In some lands crazed gnomes outnumber other gnomes. In these unfortunate places, standard gnomes are labelled as “mad gnomes” because, to a gnome, sanity is statistical.

Role-playing a Crazed Gnome

Puzzles must be solved. Mysteries keep you awake at night and unanswered question, both large and small, nibble at your mind. You know, deep in your being, that every problem has a perfect solution, every lock has a key, and every riddle has an answer.

Seek knowledge for its own sake. You dislike the unknown; gaps in knowledge irritate you like a stone in your boot. You seek out information not necessarily to be used or because it is needed, but out of the sole desire to learn and expand your worldview.

There is elegance in complexity.You know that simple minds create simple things. Complexity is to be admired and strived for, or added if something is not complex enough. You plan with multiple redundancies and back-up plans, and like to add extra features or options to equipment and weaponry.

Crazed Gnome Benefit

Gnomish Device: Crazed gnomes like their toys and gizmos, and most have some useful device on their purpose. It might be a magical item you have not finished enchanting, a mechanical device still being perfected, or some combination of the two. The gnomish device has two powers, one intended and one a misfire. You decide which purpose is the intended function of the device. Benefit: You gain the gnomish device power. This power replaces fade away.

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Minotaurs, the Seareavers

Hailing from northern coastal lands and islands, seareaver minotaurs are so named for their piracy and their nautical lifestyle. Like most races, the majority of seareaver minotaurs are labourers and farmers, but most folk only encounter the savage raiders.

Common minotaurs hail from inland mountains and have smaller horns that curve upward and away from the head, but there are a multitude of different breeds of minotaurs. The honourable minotaurs of the far east have heads resembling water buffalo, while the shamanistic minotaurs of the northern tundra and plains have heads similar to bison. The seareaver resemble longhorn cattle, with horns that curve down over the face.

A common expression in coastal settlements is “only death stops a minotaur.” Seareavers gained their feared reputation because of their resolve: they are unrelenting and merciless. They give victims one chance to surrender peaceful and escape with their lives, but if anyone resists they do not hesitate to wipe-out entire villages. Seareaver offer no second chances and do not change their minds. The sole exception is the elderly; seareavers respect those who have survived to old age and will not harm them… unless they resist.

Role-Playing a Seareaver Minotaur

Respect elders. You were raised to respect the old ways and traditions, which have kept your people alive. The world is also a harsh places, so anyone who has survived to their senior years is worthy of respect.

The sea has no mercy. You were raised on the sea, and it provides for you and your people. But it is unforgiving and does not accept weakness or tolerate mistakes, so neither should you.

Stand your ground.You are not merely stubborn, but unyielding. Only the weak cannot stand by their ideals or uphold their morals. However, you can admit your mistakes, as only a fool does not make way for the tide.

Seareaver Minotaur Benefits

Bull Headed: Your race has inspired the term “bull-headed” and refuse to do anything against their will. Even when magically compelled, they fight to maintain their free will. Benefit: Once per encounter, at the start of your turn you can roll saving throws against the dominate, daze, or stun conditions, and against any effects with the fear or enchantment keyword. This benefit replaces goring charge.

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Tieflings, Abyssal

Spawned from humans interbreeding with demons, abyssal tieflings are notably different from their infernal kin. Most tieflings have ties with devils, either devil worshipers or those who made pacts with factions from the Nine Hells for power or influence. Abyssal tieflings are different, as chaotic demons do not typically mate or parlay with mortal beings.

Demonic tieflings are often the descendants of mortals corrupted by the Abyss, either through Abyssal energies or too much time spent on that plane, or who foolishly tried to use the power of the Abyss. Some former adventurers have found their offspring altered by their adventuring career. A rare few tieflings are the result of violence against an ancestor, typically instances where the victim was rescued before the demon could finish its murder.

Abyssal tieflings are less human, owing to the more unnatural appearance of demons. Likewise, abyssal tieflings are prone to rage and erratic behaviour, being influenced and touched by chaos, but are more resilient than other mortals. The appearance of abyssal tieflings is much less consistant. Some have the typical horns and tail, but others have cloven feet, forked tongues, pointed teeth, clawed hands, glowing eyes, sulphurous breath, or other unusual traits. Because of the influence of chaos, no two abyssal tieflings look exactly alike.

Role-Playing an Abyssal Tiefling

Born from chaos and flame. You are innately passionate yet mercurial, chaotic and temperamental. Your emotions burn hot and are hard to control but change quickly and without warning. You are a being of extremes, always having a strong opinion and seldom seeing any middle ground.

Watch the world burn. Demons are driven to destroy and kill until their inevitable messy ends. Likewise, a part of you enjoys ruin and death. You might be able to channel this in productive ways, focusing on killing those who deserve it, but you will always enjoy it a little more than is good for you.

Hold your beliefs true. While your impulses are wild, you do not change your values or what is truly important. You are just as likely to be moral as other mortals. What matters to you will always matter even when your mood shifts.

Abyssal Tiefling Benefits

Reactive Resistance: You have inherited some of the unnatural resilience of demons, which augments your natural resistance to fire, but cannot Benefit:  Once per encounter, when you are hit by an attack that deals acid, cold, lightning, or thunder damage, you gain resistance to that energy type equal to your fire resistance until the next time you take hit point damage from that energy type or until the end of the encounter. This benefit replaces infernal wrath.

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Until next time readers, likely in a month or so, when I’ll see if I’ll write about designing some role-playing powers for 4e. Kinda. You’ll have to wait and see.

I like how the cards turned out on the website (but they need some fine tuning). I might have to revisit the vampire theme with cards some day.


Categories: Blogs, D&D

New Skill Challenge Mechanics

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 22:46

I love the idea of Skill Challenges. They’re a dynamic yet way of codifying complex skill checks and running skill-based encounters. They’re a lovely framework and addition to the game. But I’ve always felt something was missing with Skill Challenges, that something just wasn’t quite right. I believe the total lack of resource management in the Skill Challenge system is a problem, and one that must be rectified.

At its most basic level, D&D is a resource management game. Each round is broken up into three actions to be spent, while players balance the expenditure of powers and health in each encounter to gain the maximum number of encounters per day. Players also determine which encounter to spend their Daily power(s), when in each encounter they use their Encounter powers, how many Healing Surges to use, and when to spend that ever important Action Point. But there are no resources to manage in a Skill Challenge; there’s no opportunity for pyrrhic victories or partially successes: Skill Challenges are either absolute victory or complete defeat. Sometimes, the penalty for failure might be the loss of Healing Surges but lost surges occur after the Challenge, and thus are not a resource being managed. Likewise, the few (very few) powers grant bonuses to skills all but grant automatic successes. During a Skill Challenge, you cannot spend Healing Surges or Action Points or use most Magic Items. A long drawn-out day of multiple skill-based encounters (as long as they’re successful) will not leave a party exhausted and spent, and they’d be just as ready for combat if they’d spent the entire day at a spa having a hot stone massages and facial.

Disclaimer: this article, while focused on rule options for Player Characters, does require a little extra DM buy-in. Run this by your Dungeon Master first and make sure she’s okay with everything. I’ll also throw-in some extra DM advice for no additional charge.

Using Healing Surges

Healing Surges are an abstract representation for physical health—much like hit points—but denoting overall energy and health. Healing Surges are a good gauge of how tired a PC is and how much longer they can adventure. They’re the 4e equivalent of the standard video game fatigue bar.

Players can spend a healing surge to “unlock” an alternative skill, one not part of the base skill list of the Challenge or unsuited for the particular type Challenge.

For example, the fighter can use Athletics to strike a pose an impress the king, but in doing so he has to really exert himself and loses a healing surge. The wizard can use her command of the magical arts to use Arcana in a travel-based Skill Challenge, but it’s physically and mentally exhausting. The difficulty of using this unlocked skill should be a Hard DC, but the chances of success might still be higher than using an un-optimized skill.

Whether or not a skill can be unlocked via a Healing Surge is up the DM. And at the DM’s discretion, a skill might require two Healing Surges to unlock if using the skill is very implausible. Each character can only spend a single Healing Surge per encounter. Player should still try and “sell” the skill, justifying its use for that situation.

Design Background

Not every skill is automatically useful in every Skill Challenge, and it’s awkward using skills unsuited for a certain type of encounter. However, some characters just do not have appropriate skills for every type of Skill Challenge: the fighter might have amazing Athletics, Endurance, and Perception but no social skills sidelining them during an important negotiation. The typical response is just to allow them to use any skill without penalty, just so the player doesn’t feel bored.

Current design recommends two types of skills for a Skill Challenge, primary skills that tend to be Moderate DCs and grant successes and secondary skills that are Hard DCs are might cancel a failure, confer a bonus, or grant a limited number of successes. This subsystem adds a third type of skill, a tertiary skill that confers a potential success at a cost.

DM Advice

One of the design tenants for Skill Challenges is to add a variety of skills, and DMs are encouraged to design Challenges to match their party. One advantage of allowing alternate skills to be used at the cost of a surge, is that Challenges can be designed with fewer built-in skill options and DMs can restrict themselves to the most obvious and logical skill options, during which players can either remain passive or choose to participate at a cost. And players are encouraged to build characters with a range of skills, rather than trusting the DM to build Challenges to accommodate their narrow focus.

Using Action Points

Action Points are used to “break” the action economy of the game, allowing a character to do more in a single turn. There are a couple ways Actions Points could be used in a Skill Challenge while sticking with the concept of breaking of the action economy.

Action Points can be used to enable a character to potentially negate a failure. A character can spend an Action Point (as an immediate interrupt, triggered by a failed check) to re-roll a skill check. Alternatively, after a character has earned a failure, a different character can spend an Action Point (as an immediate reaction, triggered by a failed check) to make a new skill check to cancel the triggering failure.

Design Background

Using the base rules, Action Points are a little useless in a Skill Challenge because Challenges seldom rely on initiative or a strict turn structure. There’s no advantage to spending an Action Point because it’s easy for the rest of the party to pass, delay, or use the Aid action, allowing a single character to roll away repeatedly.

Maintaining stricter turn tracking for some or all Skill Challenges (not returning to a character until the rest of the table has had their turn) has a few advantages, and one is making Action Points interesting for Skill Challenges. The character suited for the Challenge is encouraged to spend an Action Point to stack an extra success, because the Challenge could conceivable fail before their turn comes again.

Adding a player-based method of cancelling failures also adds a lovely “safety net” mechanic to the Skill Challenge system. There’s no pressing need for players to rely on their best skill for every roll, because if they try something else and fumble there are ways to recover.

DM Advice

The catch with allowing Action Points to grant an opportunity to cancel a failure is that Action Points reset every day, so if a Skill Challenge is not followed by a combat encounter, the expenditure of the Action Point has little sting. There’s some balance as players do not know there’s no planned combat, as long as they’re not forewarned. If the design of the Challenge suggests it is very unlikely for a combat to follow, it’s permissible to make the Challenge a little bit harder and not “pull any punches”.

This optional rule also takes some pressure off the DM to include “baked-in” methods of cancelling a failure in a Skill Challenge. The players can respond to a series of bad rolls and failures with their own response, deciding if success is worth spending resources on or not. It also allows DMs to present harder and longer Skill Challenges knowing players can marshal resources to succeed if they wish.

Final Thoughts

So that’s how I add a little flair to the Skill Challenge system.

I’d have loved to have thought of a way to use Magic Items in Skill Challenges. Too often wonderous magic items are reduced to just providing a brief tactical bonus in combat. But there was no satisfying solution that didn’t negate the existence of items that already work with Skill Challenges, and there’s so much variety in items for a single large fix.

Regardless, I hope this offers some options and new ways of thinking about Skill Challenges. They’re a great system but are entirely the purview of the DM and very little has been aimed at players. It was about time for a change…


Categories: Blogs, D&D

Dragon Riders

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 06:58

With Anne McCaffrey having recently passed, this article becomes a topical albeit melancholy. While the Pern books were much more sci-fi than fantasy, this blog post is still dedicated to her memory.

The Dragonlance novels were partially responsible for my introduction to D&D and RPGs. If there’s one memorable part of the Dragonlance saga it’s the epic battle of good versus evil and love versus hate. But if there’s two memorable parts, the second would be knights on dragons fighting other dragons. Dragon rider combat was featured prominently on the cover of the Third Edition campaign setting and novels such as Legend of Huma. Dragon mounts are a perfect example of something that just belongs in the Paragon Tier: riding your very own dragon is beyond a Heroic Tier party yet lacks the planar or divine hook of the Epic Tier. It’s perfect for the game, but can be a little tricky to pull off in 4e.

As solo monsters, dragons are formidable foes for an entire party. Even young low-level dragons are sizable beasts, with fair number of hit points and numerous abilities. It would be inappropriate to use an existing dragon’s statistics for a mount. But the flexible nature of 4th Edition monsters means a level 5 solo monster can be adapted and altered into a level 15 standard monster. As mounts should be simple to run, it’s mostly a matter of reducing powers and tweaking the remaining abilities to be slightly less powerful.

There are two dragon mounts already in the game: a githyanki red dragon from Dragonomicon I and a summoned paladin mount from Class Acts: Cavalier (Dragon #393). Sadly, the latter is an Epic Tier mount (but having a celestial silver dragon at your beck and call is rather epic). There are also the drakkensteeds from Draconomicon II, which are a work-around using a true dragon as a mount, but not quite as satisfying.

Sample Dragon Mounts

Below are a five examples of possible draconic mounts, one for each of the traditional metallic dragons. If requested, I might write-up adamantine and iron another day.

    

Game Considerations

The big hurdle with dragon mounts is that they either lead to aerial combat or half their fun is lost. Not every combat needs to be on dragons, but a token draconic dogfight is fun: every Paragon or Epic campaign should include at least one battle in the sky.

Three Dimensional combat is not always as easy in 4th Edition, given its emphasis on tactical tabletop battles. A 3D fight can be made a little easier with props and game aides. There are a number of companies offering flying stands, but it’s possible to make do with elevation recording dice beside the minis or clear plastic dice boxes.

Dragon on Dragon Violence

Aerial fights in 4e have the added bonus that effects which stun or prone also cause a flying creature to fall. This makes for a lovely way to speed-up combat. At high altitudes, a flying creature can fall 500 feet (100 squares) before stopping, effectively taking them out of the combat. This makes a multi-dragon aerial battle very possible without a long slog against multiple beasts with high hit point totals.

It’s also fun to face multiple opponents, also on dragons. Knocking the mount prone is still a viable tactic in this instance, but forced movement is also useful. At a DM’s discretion, forced movement can  violently dismount a rider. This makes for a very cinematic combat, with enemy dragon riders knocked from their saddles hundreds of feet above the ground.

IF building a character for a little aerial dragon combat, remember to take powers that can prone or push. But also look for utilities that can negate forced movement. As fun as it is to unsaddle an opponent, you don’t want to follow them down. Magical items that can slow a fall are also desirable.

And what is Dragonlance without lances? Thankfully for this article, lances were recently reintroduced to the game in Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium. So buy a copy of MME, grab a lance (with the dragonslayer enchantment of course), saddle-up your copper dragon and take to the sky!

 

“Jester” David Gibson has contributed to the ”Dragon” magazine, Goodman Game’s “Book of Rituals”, Powersource Podcast,  the At-Will Blog, and is been a longtime member of the Ravenloft fan-community the “Fraternity of Shadows”. His semi-regular blog can be read on the Wizards of the Coast community site. You can follow him on Twitter at: twitter.com/DnDJester
Categories: Blogs, D&D

Helping Your DM Get His Groove Back

Tue, 11/15/2011 - 00:36

It’s been a while, but last time we talked about how to rejuvenate when you’ve lost the will to play. Today I’m going to tackle a similar topic. How can you as a player help your DM when his will to play starts to wane?

Let’s frame up some context to facilitate easier discussion. We’ll even give the DM a placeholder name: Wilfred. Wilfred has been your DM for a little bit, and you think you know him pretty well. The campaign has been running for a few sessions, and there’s been some fun had by all.

Warning Signs

Things started out great: compelling NPCs, interesting plots, exciting combats. Now things have changed, and not for the better. It wasn’t a big change at first. Wilfred didn’t do a funny voice for that new NPC. Instead of the usual ridiculous name, that halfling merchant has a devastatingly boring name. Plot has either almost disappeared or skyrocketed to an incomprehensible level.

If Wilfred was prone to planning before, his planning is minimal now. If he didn’t plan all that much before, his planning is non-existent now.[1] Note that I’m not talking about a willful change in technique in order to be a better DM here. It might be unintentional or intentional, but it’s happening all the same.

It might be that Wilfred’s DM toolbox seems to have developed a hole large enough to walk through. He’s forgotten useful techniques that he’s used in the past. Conflict that he had no problem adjudicating now seems difficult.

Maybe it’s none of these; maybe it’s even more subtle than these. Maybe Wilfred’s attitude at the table is different. “Man, Wilfred doesn’t seem to have that fire in him anymore when we get into a rules discussion!” If your table is a more collaborative one, does he seem to be quieter than he used to be? Is he getting more irritated over minor things?

I’m Only a Player

Someone might ask, “What can I do about this, I’m just a player?” I’m glad you asked. Some of what I’m about to say next you’ve probably already heard. It’s good advice in general for players. However, when your DM is losing his mojo for the campaign, these become even more important.

First up, be a pig, not a chicken. By that, I mean, be all-in on the campaign. Be on time (maybe even early) to show that you’re committed. Try and be organized. Have your character sheet out and ready to go when it’s time to play. Get into your character and help the other players do the same. Endeavor to try something awesome at the next play session with your character, even if it’s not the typical thing. Take a minute and describe what you’re doing. For example, instead of just attacking, take a higher risk move and describe the action. The oft-quoted swinging-on-the-chandelier situation is an excellent example.

Show some interest for the campaign when you’re not at the table (if possible). Talk to Wilfred about your character and how things in the story are affecting him. Let him know what your character is thinking or feeling. We now have unprecedented ways to keep in touch with our DMs, and a quick email or tweet can go a long way.

If Wilfred does something cool (new monster, deadly trap, etc.) tell him it was cool.  If you’re into that whole social media scene, tweet it, update your Facebook status (not during the game obviously, because no one does that).

The gist of all of this is to keep the lines of communication open. Talk with your DM regularly. Ask him whether he’s having fun. How does he think the campaign is going? Maybe he needs a break. Watch a movie or some television shows to try and inspire him with ideas (Dr. Who is a good series, but I might be biased). You might even have to step up and DM for a while and let him be a player. It might be just the break he needs to come back with a vengeance.

Wrapping Up

I’m not saying that if you do these things, Wilfred will re-gain interest. It’s possible that what’s happening at the table has nothing to do with the campaign itself. But these are ways to help your DM if it IS the campaign. I can say that if you take my advice, at least the campaign has a fighting chance. And that’s what you want, right? A chance for your DM and his campaign to be all he and it can be…

Have you ever been the DM and felt this way? Have you (as a player) seen your DM’s will flagging? Leave a comment below. Also feel free to ask questions about these or other suggestions. Heck, you could even tell us about your campaign and how we might help in particular.

[1] I know some DMs come to embrace a more improvisational approach once they become more comfortable with the system, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a change without a lot of thought behind it.

Jeremy Morgan (TriskalJM on Twitter) has been playing RPGs for a while, first the computer variety and now the pen and paper kind. He’s been following the hobby for longer than he’s played, having bought a source book here and there for years before ever getting the chance to play. This leads to some interesting conversations, as he has knowledge beyond his years at the table. He’s even got his own blog over at Stormin’ Da Castle.
Categories: Blogs, D&D

For The Ladies!

Sun, 11/13/2011 - 23:14

Hey all,

Jeff here! Before you get a new awesome article from Jeremy tomorrow I wanted to let you know about something non-D&D, but important none-the-less.

I just wanted to send some information that I am participating in HoNoToGroABeMo again this year. That stands for How Not to Grow A Beard Month. A bunch of geeks from around the internet shave on November 1st and then don’t shave again until December. Then we regularly (daily in my case) post thoughts and pictures of our manly face-manes and ask people to sponsor our beards (because it’s proven that money makes beards grow). All the money goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I’d love it if you’d all check it out and consider sponsoring my beard, even if just for a couple of bucks.

You can visit HoNoToGroABeMo here, and here you can see all of my posts exclusively…and naturally, this link will take you to the page where you can sponsor me!

Thanks for your support, and for helping women everywhere!


Categories: Blogs, D&D

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