dungeons and dragons tagged posts

Dark Sun: More Money More Problems?

The Dark Sun setting presents us with a problem. Part of the foundation of the setting fundamentally conflicts with one of the main tenants of Dungeons and Dragons, specifically in the party motivation department.  I speak of course of mad loot, and the pursuit there of. Almost universally, adventuring parties are in it, to quote the Bandit, “For the money, for the glory, and for the fun… mostly for the money.” However, in Athas most of the money and the glory are non-existent. The world being pretty much a stiff wind away from tumbling off a cliff into oblivion, there are not large coffers of gold to pilfer, or vast vaults of magic items to plunder.  I suppose you could just try and motivate them with an endless group of bar wenches who actually do think homemade chain-mail is sexy, but that will only get you so far. Plus you’ll end up learning more about your fellow players than you probably want to.

Read More

So You Want to Be a Dungeon Master

For many Dungeons and Dragons players, the Dungeon Masters Guide remains a tome of incredible mystery. Their experience with it amounts to leafing through it in the back of a Barnes and Noble, or tossing it aside when they pick-up their Fourth Edition Core Rulebooks set. The prospects of actually managing and controlling the machniations of an entire universe seem daunting when compared to merely having to help steer a loot obsessed character through never ending waves of monsters laced with experience points.

In truth, being the DM can be as easy or difficult as you would like it to be. There are a myriad of published materials, guides, and adventures which can reduce the role of the DM almost down to being a glorified tour guide. On the other end of the spectrum are the true world designers, who craft entire adventure arcs complete with original NPCs, cities, and sometimes even races. In the end, these elements aren’t what make a good dungeon master. 

So, for those brave enough to want to take up the mantle, we’ve compiled a handy set of do’s and do nots to get you on your way. We will update this post periodically with new tips and encourage you to leave comments with your own, making this a veritable compendium of dungeon mastery.

Read More

Double Feature: Movies & Gaming

Home for the holidays? Try something new!Thanksgiving has come and gone and everyone looks forward to the holidays at the end of December. Whether you made it home for some turkey (or even live in the U.S.) you probably are looking forward to spending some time with family and exchanging a few gifts. I’m looking forward to seeing my own family but also planning on trips to the theater to relieve some of the cabin fever that inevitably occurs when adult-life meets childhood-life. I’m also looking forward to seeing the old gaming group and having some fun face-to-face rather than Skype-to-Skype time.

Many of you might be doing the same, or you might not game with your old group anymore but would love an excuse to get the gang back together. I recommend some neat one-off games for when you can’t commit to a full campaign and, while you’re at it, why not do something totally off the wall? In fact, how about drawing some inspiration from those same movies that are already planned for the holidays; a double-feature of cinema and games. When I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallowsrecently I was already thinking about playing a wand-wielding duelist laying low Death Eaters in a terrifying wizardingcivil war. Of course, there’s no Harry Potter RPG but why should that stop me? There are dozens of truly inspired and awesome role-playing games out there and more than one should fit the bill depending on the asthetic of the world you want to adapt. In fact, let me lay things out for three recently released/upcoming films right here and now!

Read More

It’s Alive! Wizards Announces D&D Virtual Table

In the words of Dr. Frankenstein, “It’s alive…it’s alive!” Just announced by Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Virtual Table seems to be the evolution of the promise that was made originally when the DDI adventure tool set was first discussed a few years ago. A promise that it seemed was going to be unfulfilled. The Virtual table program will allow players to get together to game across the Internet, integrate dungeon tiles, character avatars, stats and everything else that makes Dungeons and Dragons great in one place. For years, gamers trying to keep a party together across time zones have been using third party applications like MapTools, and while those are great, having the guys at WOTC take the reigns for an official medium is really outstanding and long overdue.

Beta invites started going out TODAY November 18th. While the beta is closed at the moment, notice in the FAQ that there are some plans to expand it in the future, with Dungeon and Dragons Insiders (DDI) getting preference.

Here the basic FAQ that was released along with the image, both courtesy of Wizards.com. Notice support for Macintosh, right off the bat:

Read More

NYC Comic Con: D&D Castle Ravenloft Review

Easily the single most important thing for me going into New York Comic Con was getting some time with the recently released Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft board game. The game supports 1-5 players and involves the party traveling into the dreaded Castle Ravenloft to complete any of the dozen scenarios included with the game (with many more available online for download).

Players can choose from any of five classic Dungeons & Dragons characters. The rogue, ranger, fighter, wizard, and cleric all make appearances. At the start of the game players are allowed some control over customizing their character by choosing a certain number of at wills, daily and utility powers. these work in the same way as their fourth edition counterparts. The reason there are no encounter powers is because there are not separate encounters, so a daily power can only be used once unless the player draws a treasure card earning them a recharge (more on those shortly).

Read More

D&D One Hour Review: Psionic Power

Hey again! So, the other D&D product I was excited for this month, besides the Dark Sun products, was Psionic Power. This product is obviously released in conjunction with Dark Sun since that setting relies so heavily on psionics and DMs and players alike are probably as primed as ever for more material for the power source. In the Dark Sun Campaign Setting it is explained that “All living creatures on Athas have some minor ability to affect the world with their minds. Most folk fail to tap into these abilities, experiencing deja vu or random flashes of insight at best.” Obviously, psionics is different and intrinsic to Athas so “dressing up” magical fantasy elements as psionics is less than ideal. This is why there is a new battlemind build in the Dark Sun Campaign Setting and the wild talent optional system but there could be more.

Read More

Athas Awaits! D&D Dark Sun 4e Review

Ahoy adventurers! The long year wait is just about at an end. Ever since Gen Con 2009, we’ve eagerly awaited the release of the 4th edition version of the Dark Sun campaign setting. The ability to play in a world so unlike the others that Dungeons and Dragons has to offer is what most appeals to me. So much so that I’ll be launching a full campaign in the near future, in my first true foray into the realm of the DM. But that is a different story. Here now, a first hand account of the new campaign setting from our friend Mephit James.

I made the amazing discovery today that my Friendly Local Gaming Shop (FLGS) is getting pre-releases of Wizards of the Coast products now. I should have made this discovery last month when they had all of July’s products out early but this is the norm now. Life just got kicked up a notch. I heartily recommend that all of you stop by your own stores to see if you are as lucky.

Regardless, I saw the Dark Sun line of books just staring at me when I walked in the store, shining in their auburn-toned glory. I played Dark Sun when it was still a toddler, not quite from the start but well before 2e was called 2e. This setting for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was different, intriguing, and brutal: the perfect combination for a young teenaged boy. One of my favorite books, the Complete Gladiator’s Handbook, had pages upon pages of different deadly practices with which to fight; I had more than one series of adventures (just shy of a full campaign) which involved nothing more than being gladiators trying to win our freedom and eventually failing in ways too graphic for an innocent cooking site.

Needless to say, I have high expectations for Dark Sun in Fourth Edition.

Read More

Top Chef DC Alignment: Week 7

Only eight contestants remain on Top Chef: DC, and we are at that point in the season where chefs who really have no business still being on the show are finally getting cut left and right. The only reason these people stayed as long as they did was because other people made bigger mistakes, but as was the case with Andrea and Stephen the past two weeks, if you are consistently on the bottom, eventually you’re going home.

Before getting to the graph and the changes in trends, a word. Chefs need to stop saying “I didn’t get a chance to show who I really am” and “I don’t need four people at a table to tell me I can cook” when they get eliminated. Andrea, I’m looking at you specifically, but this is something that happens at least once or twice per season. If you survived more than half the season and still “haven’t shown who you are”, you deserve to leave. What are you waiting for? If you get eliminated in the first or second episode and there are some esoteric challenges that don’t fit your cooking style, then fine, that might be a legitimate gripe, but when you have plenty of challenges and even make a few recipes that “I’ve made before at my restaurant and they work”, I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen “who you are” (that was too many quotations marks). Additionally, everyone who is on the show can cook, they wouldn’t be there if they couldn’t. What the four judges are telling you is that on that particular night you weren’t good, end of story.

Read More