Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wizards of the Coast Print On Demand: The Results, Part 3

Today is Tuesday so that means new releases.  Wizards of the Coast has some new classic D&D books up for POD today.  Be sure to check them out.

Today I want to compare the POD 3e Draconomicon to the one I bought my son when it first came out.
A bit of background.  The Draconomicon is a watershed book for the Brannan family.  I got it for my son because he loved dragons. Still does really.  Well he carried this book with him everywhere for years.  Needless to say it is in pretty bad shape.  I have wanted to get him a new one for years and I have seen many at Half-Price books and of course at my FLGS, but none have jumped out at me saying "buy me".  We I opted to spend some of the money from the sales of my own books on the POD version.  I splurged and got the "Premium Heavyweight" paper.

In the pictures the original print in on the left side of your screen, the POD on the right.

Side by side it is hard to know which is which.  The art on the POD version seems a little bigger.  You will notice there is a spot on the bottom where the cover doesn't quite make it to the bottom.  I have seen this before on other books.  Sometimes it prints like this other times it doesn't.

The Heavyweight POD is noticeably thicker than the original print.

The POD does not have the dragon art printed on the inside cover.  The images are repeated in the original printing but only one of each in the POD.  The POD actually looks more interesting.

Inside the books are remarkably identical.

My son was 6 when I got this for him.   He carried it to school for two years straight.

This is the LightningSource/OneBookShelf page added to all the books.   So no chance someone will mistake these for originals if they know to look for this.

Equally, the original features an ISBN barcode.  The the POD has a different one that is not an ISBN.

The spines are also very different. This of course is by necessity to accommodate the varying thickness of the paper choices.

In all I am happy with it.  It doesn't look like my original, but that is fine with me.  It makes it more of a "new" book in some respects.  Yes, just like the original I am giving this to my son for Christmas. Don't tell him.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gaming Weekend

Did a little bit of gaming this weekend. My son got to play some Mongoose Traveller with his other group.  Here at home we started up a new D&D 5 game set in the Skyrim universe that my oldest is going to run.  So far it's a lot of fun. We are hunting down the murderer of the Emporer and have managed to hit level 2 already.

I also got a desire to dust off an older game and give it another go.  It was a lot of fun back in the day and I have been itching to do some more with it.

Should be fun.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Iconic Witches of D&D

No game this past weekend. I wasn't feeling great and my son was at a birthday party.

I was thinking about Friday's post on the witches of Rahasia and of Ravenloft and it occurs to me that D&D lacks in iconic witches.  There are great examples of Vampires, Liches, Wizards, Priests, Paladins, Rangers, enough Thieves to fill a guild, even Bards.

The witches in Rahasia are one thing, but the ones in Ravenloft don't even have proper names really.

Pathfinder does a good job with their iconics.  Feiya is a proper witch, but even the sorceress Seoni is often referred to as a witch.  Not to mention all the witches to be found in Irrisen like Queen Elvanna.

The witches three. Larina, Feiya and Seoni
I have my iconic, Larina.  But she appears mostly in my Pathfinder books.

Who do we have for D&D?

Well for starters and maybe the most iconic is Iggwilv, the Witch-Queen. We also have Elena the Fair, Witch Queen of Summer. Also, while not as a well know or even explicitly a witch is Skyla.

There is also one witch that both D&D and Pathfinder share, Baba Yaga.

There was also Koliada, the Winter Witch. a Level 26 Solo Skirmisher from the 4th ed era adventure "Winter of the Witch". But there is not a lot out there about her.  Interestingly Pathfinder also has a lot Winter and Cold related witches.

Dungeon Crawl Classics gives us Lady Kyleth, The Witch Queen.

Personally I'd love to see more.  There might be more, I just haven't found them all yet.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Gaming

It's been busy time this Christmas.  So far I have gotten a lot of gaming in.
We went to my in-laws to see my wife's sister and her kids and my kids brought out D&D.  I got hit with some allergies and could not run, but my oldest decided to run some games.  He got both of my nephews to play some D&D 5.  They had a great time.  So great in fact that I went out got them some dice, minis, a Starter Set and the Basic Rules.

We went back out to visit and Liam ended up running Hoard of the Dragon Queen.  Instead of Tiamat he used his own creation, Aži Dahāka.  It went fantastic.  Really fantastic.

Even their other cousin and her boyfriend joined in for a couple of sessions.

They had such great time that the brand new Xbox One went largely ignored.  Not to bad really.

So I got 4 new people into gaming this holiday.  How did you do?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Question of the Day: Anyone run/play a fight against Orcus

Still feeling pretty sick today.

But I was looking over some of my adventures I have laying around and I noticed a theme.

For 1st Ed I have the Bloodstone Wars modules.
For 3rd Ed I have a bunch of stuff from Necromancer Games.
For 4th Ed I have the HPE series of nine modules.
And now for 5th ed I have Into the Abyss.

What do they all have in common?

Looking pretty damn scary in his new 5e form.

Well, in the broadest terms they all deal with destroying the Demon Prince Orcus.
(ok 5e is about all demons)
Or at the very least stopping his machinations.

I mean, I get it. Orcus is the most metal of all the demon lords.

Back in the day we gleefully killed him in H4 Throne of Bloodstone.  I was looking forward to doing it again under 4e in E3 Prince of Undeath.   So there is an allure.

So how about you all?
Did you ever run/play a game where the PCs went after Orcus?

If yes, what adventure did you use?
If no, would it be something you would consider?

Bonus question.  Why doesn't Demogorgon get any of this attention?

Orcus Links (I have talked about this before)

Friday, August 21, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 21

Day 21: Favorite RPG Setting

Hard call. It really is a toss up between my home brewed Mystoerth campaign world for *D&D or Victorian England.

Mystoerth grew out of a need for my then DM and I to merge our worlds.  He was a huge Greyhawk fan (as was I, but less so) and my world was the known world of Msytara.

Map by Rich Trickey aka chatdemon

We did not call our world Mystoerth. That name as far as I can tell came from +James Mishler and +Rich Trickey.  Rich made that nice map.

It has worked well for me over the years.

Monday, August 17, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 17

Day 17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

No question.  Dungeons and Dragons.



Hail to the King baby.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 8

Day 8: Favorite Appearance of RPGs in the Media

I have seen a few and I always find them amusing.  Supernatural usually does a nice job.  But my favorite still has to be from the X-files.

The first from "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" Season 3, Episode 20

Jose Chung: Aren't you nervous telling me all this? Receiving all those death threats?
Blaine: Well, hey, I didn't spend all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons and not learn a little something about courage.

The next one comes from another one of my favorite episodes, "Unusual Suspects" Season 5, Episode 1.

Langly: Elron the Druid bets 50! Cash only, Elron... no cheques for the bank of Middle Earth! Come on Natural 20. Daddy needs a new Sword of Wounding. [Byers and Frohike enter] What's the big idea of bringing the Nark in here?
Frohike: Me and the Nark have a proposition for you.
Langly: What proposition?
Frohike: The coolest hack in the world.
Elron the Druid: Lord Manhammer?!
Langly: Say it. Say it!
Frohike: [reluctantly] Your Kung-Fu is the best...

When the Lone Gunmen "died" in the series I rose a toast in my next D&D game to Lord Manhammer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New D&D from WotC

One of the biggest problems of hanging in mostly old-school areas is people still seem to want to bitch and complain about Wizards of the Coast.

I don't get that.

It's ok not to like them. It's ok not to care for 3rd, 4th or 5th edition D&D.  But they are not the freaking devil.

We have the OGL from WotC which honestly has made the entire OSR possible.

We even are getting new content we can use in our games from them all them thanks to

The 3.5 Edition of the Player's Handbook is now out for example.
Why is this a big deal? Because the 3.5 books all got the "deluxe" reprints. There general wisdom has been that reprints have not been getting PDFs.  Well if this is a change we can soon see 1st and 2nd edition core book pdfs.  We already see that with the Basic lines and much of the supplemental materials.

You might not play D&D 5 or have any interest in the current "Elemental Evil" arc, you have to agree that The Elemental Evil Player's Companion is a very important product.  Why? Well it is free, so there is that, but more importantly this is the first product WotC is doing "Print on Demand".  This is a HUGE deal.  Could you imagine it they started offering old school products not just as PDF but as POD?  Copies of old modules for a fraction of what the aftermarket charges?  The ability to have people new to the game buy the classics in book form?

Dragon is coming back AND it looks like it will be free. The new incarnation is Dragon+.

There is a new member of their "D&D Adventure System Cooperative Play board games", Temple of Elemental Evil.  Which looks like it could be fun.

So regardless of what system you are playing, there should be something in all this new AND old content you can use.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Checking in on my Plan

Over the years I have discussed my Plan.  The Plan is what adventures I am going to take my kids through.

For D&D 3.x I was content to take anything as it came, make stuff up and generally going towards a  stopping the cult of Tiamat plot.  It was/has been fun and we are nearing the end of that.

For the new adventures I was looking at 3rd, then 4th, then 1st and now 5th Edition as the primary game system.

At the present here is where I am.
  • B1 Into the Unknown, levels 1-3
  • B2 Keep on the Borderlands, levels 1-3
  • L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, levels 2-4
  • X2 Castle Amber, levels 3-6 (where we are now!)
  • I6 Ravenloft, levels 5-7
  • A0-5 Slave Lords, levels 4-7
  • G123, Against the Giants, levels 8-12 (I also have the Stone Giant one from Dragonsfoot, just need to find it)
  • D12,3 Against the Drow, levels 8,9-14
  • Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, 10-14
  • CM2 Death's Ride, levels 15-20. (Again, unless I use it in my current 3.x game which the boys want me to do)
If I don't do Death's Ride I am seriously considering the classic H series to go after Orcus.
  • H1 Bloodstone Pass, levels 15+
  • H2 The Mines of Bloodstone, levels 16-18
  • H3 The Bloodstone Wars, levels 17-20
  • H4 The Throne of Bloodstone, levels 18-100
But I would REALLY edit these since they have a lot of issues.  Truthfully my best plan is to just use H4 and add bits from H1-3 and maybe even some stuff from the 4th Ed E-Series.  But that is if I want to have Orcus as the big bad guy at the end.  It has appeal.

Also I have the mind flayer adventure A Darkness Gathering to work into the mix.

It has taken me a while to get through all this because I am alternating with my 3.x game, some AS&SH and other games.

So far the adventures have seemed random and the characters are wandering about.  But they are about to get some items in the X2/I6 series that will help them later on.  

Right now, with out their knowing about it the Drow, Vampires and Illithids have gathered together to put the final phase of their ultimate plan into motion.  The PCs will discover a little of this plan when they encounter the Slavers.  The slavers are all vampires now and they are not dealing in slaves, but human cattle.    After they have defeated them the last part of the bad guys plan comes into fruition.  

The sun goes completely out.  

There is panic. Everyone gathers in the Freecity of Greyhawk.  The Church of Pelor/Ixion is hardest hit, but also the loudest voice.  All the "big names" are there and they are trying to figure out what to do.
There is a plan to set the moon a flame, but the various clergy of the Moon Goddesses are against that.  Finally they agree to instead use a large asteroid to keep life going till they can re-ignite the sun.
While all the big names are trying to figure this out the PCs have to deal with some raids nearby of giants...

The PCs will then go through the GDQ series to discover the plan and that the drow are working with mind flayers.  After defeating Lolth in Q1 the PCs will have to deal with the vampires who have Pelor captured.  In order to re ignite the sun they will need to set him free from his prison in ..... and that is all I have.

Yeah it is kinda story-gamey.  It's my game, my house and my kids. They will eat this up.
I guess it is hard for me to get away from the idea of vampires as the big bads.

Those of you who have been reading this blog a long time might notice that there was a similar plot in my Buffy Season 7 game, Episode 12 No Other Troy.  Though that one the sun being blocked was a side effect. 

I am inclined to use Orcus as the big bad holding Pelor.  
I have a huge ass mini of him and a crap ton of material for him.

But I have also wanted to use Camazotz as the demon-god of Vampires in his abyssal plane of Xibalba.  Maybe I still can use him in some way.  It is possible he is something like a high priest to Orcus and his job is to sacrifice Pelor on a bloody altar.  Once that is done Orcus will suck up his godly powers and reign as the God of Death and Darkness.

And he would have gotten away with it too had it not been for those meddling PCs.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

On the Road to Averoigne

So over the weekend my D&D5 group completed the castle portion of Castle Amber and the adventurers have entered Averoigne.  They are currently taking a long rest before heading out to find the four items they need to return home.

So far this adventure has been fantastic.  I forgot how much fun X2 was, both as a player and as a DM.

I am still playing around with the 5e rules.  I might use the option that makes healing more like AD&D, but so far I still very happy with how things go.

Story wise I have been dropping hints of the "Oncoming Darkness" with both the ghouls and the Brain Collector/Neh-Thalggu mentioning it.   Once they complete their quest here typically they are brought back to their own world.  Instead I am going to have them go directly to Ravenloft via the mists and defeat Strahd.  In both adventures they get items necessary for them to survive the adventures to come.

I am going to try out this Ravenloft I6 D&D 5 conversion I found here.
Ravenloft is one of my favorite adventures and I am really looking forward to it.

I still need them to come up with a name for their group.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: A Red & Pleasant Land

I picked up a copy of +Zak Smith's "A Red & Pleasant Land" on PDF recently.  I like enough to also pick it up in dead tree version as a post-Christmas present for myself (35.75€ or about $45).

I want to say off the bat that when I heard Zak was doing an Alice in Wonderland-ish sort of adventure my expectations were high, but guarded.  I have seen Alice done a number of bad ways; mostly ones that relied on a one to one translation between story to game.  That is all well and good, but ends up robbing the story of what makes it good and ends up short-changing the player's experience in the game.  To be blunt, it's not a D&D adventure.  I had reasonable assurances that this would not happen here, I didn't know what sort of thing we would end up with.

Also, and I have admitted this many times, I am not a fan of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  But I can say that LotFP and James Raggi do have an amazing art vision and the budget to match and it seems (to me any way) that James leaves people the hell alone and lets them create.  You saw that in Zak's last work Vornheim, you can see it Rafel Chandler's "No Salvation for Witches", and you can see it this book as well.  While the LotFP rules are in mind when this was made, you can either run it with all the free rules that James gives away for free (another credit to him) or use whatever rules you want.  This is important to me and I will talk about it more later on.

So what *is* A Red & Pleasant Land?
Overtly it is an adventure, in the broadest sense.  It can also be a campaign guide to a strange new land (or world).  Breaking it down to it's atomic elements it is Vampiric court intrigue with the cast of Dracula, Elizabeth Bathory and Alice.  But that is like saying that putting salt on your meal is the same as putting Sodium and Chloride on your steak and trying to eat it.

Let me instead start on the outside and work my way in.  This book is gorgeous. It really is.  If you have Vornheim or spent anytime on Zak's blog then you have an idea of what you will be looking at, but that is not quite it either.  The art comes just this side of reality short of being phantasmagorical. Just slightly out of sync with what you should be seeing.  This is intentional since that is also the feeling of the adventure/text itself.  (I am going to keep calling this an adventure since that is the easiest translation).  Honestly, get this bound in red with gold trim and it would be a book better suited for a coffee table rather than a gaming table.  I don't mean that derisively, I mean that in open honesty.
If the art is fantastic then the maps are amazing. I love all sorts of old-school maps and I love a lot of different styles. But these again are very evocative of the setting.

 The other thing is this adventure is big.  While the form factor is small, the book has 197 pages.  There is a lot here.  Zak  suggests that you can use parts of this book or the whole. I will add that if you opt for the parts alternative then there is absolutely something in this book you can use.

Working in, the adventure and background are all woven together in such a way that it is all familiar and yet new at the same time.  It's like returning to a place you have been years and years later. Except when you were at the place back then you were on LSD the entire time. You memories of it have not faded per se but are warped.  This is like that but now your memories are perfect and the reality is warped.

This actually touches on the first issue I have with running this adventure. Now by "I" I mean just that. Me. Not extrapolating it to anywhere else.  I don't think I could run this as a D&D adventure for my group.  To be blunt about it my kids (which is my group) don't yet know enough about Dracula, Alice or any of the other elements in this to make it worthwhile.   This is an adventure for older, wiser and maybe even a little bit jaded players.  This adventure needs to be played by people that have tried to play Dungeonland and found it lacking.

You are going to need the right group for this adventure. The book it totally worth getting just to look at, read or steal ideas from, but if you are going to run it then you need to take stock of your own group and make sure it works for them.  If your group is more of the "kick in the door, kill the monster, get the gold, move to next door" type then this will only have some utility for you.  That is fine there are plenty of fun adventures for those groups.   I suppose that if you have read "A Midsummer's Night Dream" and thought to yourself that it would make a great adventure of intrigue then this one might work for you.   As point of reference, duels are covered as being something that can be deadly. And so are Banquets.  Again some people will scratch their heads on this but I can think of at least three players off the top of my head right now that would totally run with this idea.
It is a prime example of Zak making things he wants to play and if you like it you can come along too.

Back on track.  The Alice.  This is a neat idea, but for me one of the weaker links. I totally get what Zak is doing here and maybe even a little of why. But Alice comes off as an ersatz, but weaker, Slayer, ala Buffy or maybe even the Schmuck quality from Army of Darkness. Though to be 100% this quote from the book is very awesome:
"Alices forever find themselves falling into cursed rabbit holes, accidentally killing witches, having their halfbrothers stolen by goblin kings, being willed magic rings, finding demons inserted in their chests or having armored knights ride through their homes at bedtime. Obscure gods, however, sympathize with them (they are often born to powerful families), and an Alice is a boon to any adventuring party. Some Alices wear striped stockings, some Alistairs wear pointed shoes."  - AR&PL, p. 30.
I love that image. In my games I have called these types of characters Dorothies.  The Exasperation Table really makes this character shine and makes it something unique.

The land itself, Voivodja, is in the truest sense of the word a nightmarescape.  It's not that it is just horrific, there is more. The best nightmares lull you into a false sense of hope or familiarity. You think you know what this is all about, but you don't.  The land is big, densely packed and old. Very old.  The main feature (well, to me anyway) is the intrigue between the Vampire Courts and the potential of what you can do with those.  Think about it really. Ancient, decedent vampire royalty fighting protracted war.  Sure. We did all that in the 90s with Vampire the Masquerade; but this is yet another new take on that.

The monster/NPC section is great. So many ideas.  If you are going to smorgasbord this book then start here.  There are unique vampire nobles and strange animals, so really enough to keep characters of any level busy. That's misleading...I personally think the vampire nobles in this book work better as non-combatants.  Their job is not to be sullied with the likes of mere adventurers.  But engaging them in courtly battles. That's where they shine.  Really, this is one of the first adventures where a battle of wits to the death (!) is not only likely, but likely to happen before breakfast.

We end this book with more random tables that you could (or should maybe) ever use.  30 pages worth.

So there are a lot of reasons to buy this book.  The only one that matters though is do you have the right kind of group for it? If any of these ideas appeal to you then get it. If you are unsure, well I am sure there is something here to make it worth your time and money.

Personally I want to give it a go under Ghosts of Albion.

In any case I think it is a solid hit.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dungeon Master's Guide 5th Edition

I got my copy of the 5th Edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide the other day.  I have not read through the entire book in detail yet but I have read a good deal of it.

I am prepared at this point to make the claim that this is one of the best editions of the DMG ever.

It stands up extremely well to the classic 1st Edition DMG.  It is hard to match the 1st Ed DMG in terms of content, but this new book does an extremely good job of coming close.

It is certainly better than the 2nd and 4th Ed versions.  It has an edge over the 3rd Ed version as well, but that is only because at the moment I know the 3rd ed one better and the 5th ed one seems to have more material.

Of so far it seems that 1e, 3e, and 5e are the stand outs.

What strikes me the most about the new 5th ed DMG is that it is full of options, not rules.  It gives DMs ideas on how to make rulings, much like old-school games but leaves the details up to the DM.

Honestly if you are an old-school DM and you can't find something of use in this book then you are being unnecessarily obstinate.

This book continues the trend of reading like a "Greatest Hits" of D&D.  Everything from the earliest supplements to 4th edition is here in one form or another.   Sure you won't find the table of Harlots here, but the sample dungeon (also reprinted in 3e) is here.

The Great Wheel cosmology is here along with Sigil (covering 1st and 2nd Ed) the define your own multiverse is here (3rd Ed) and places like the Feywild and Shadowfell (4e) are here.   In fact this book makes all my 4e fluff books usable again. Yeah the mechanics will need to be altered in some cases, but so fare things like DC still line up real nice.

I am looking forward to spending more time with this book.  I am also looking forward to going back to my 1st Ed DMG to compare and contrast.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #6 July 1975

Owl & Weasel #6 from July 1975 will be forever immortalized as the "Dungeons & Dragons" issue.

Page 1 of the issue describes the game we all know so well and it is interesting to read something like this; the game as something new and different.  The editors admit they are already obsessed with it and there is even a dragon on the masthead, making the issue temporarily Dragon, Owl & Weasel.
The article is continued later in the issue. Steve Jackson describes the contents of the box, 3 "little" books and not thousands of pieces.  Though he adds that he thinks $10.00 is "too much" to pay for the game.  Some things never change really. Jackson concludes calling D&D a "modern classic".

Moving on in the issue. The Letters page has a letter complaining about the lack women in gaming.  Again some things never changing.

Later on Steve Jackson discusses the costs of D&D. Again the $10.00 price tag is mentioned, but also $5.00 for Chainmail and "at least" $2.50 for dice.  Minifigs are also mentioned with several genres mentioned.   Additionally Games Workshop reports that they will be selling D&D in at least three weeks.

Page 11 is the second part of Percy Kenyon's coverage of Mah Jong. Interesting and more complicated than I realized. I mean I new Mah Jong was a strategy game (and not the solitaire version found on lots of computers) but I guess I didn't think about how detailed it was.

The back page features a TSR price listing of what will be soon available in the U.K.

The enthusiasm in this article abounds. Sitting here comfortably on the other side of nearly 40 years (and after the largest Gen Con on record) it is easy to forget that once upon a time this hobby of ours was new. Not just new, it had a start and that start is documented here.   I am not trying to sound all sappy here. I am big proponent of always looking forward, but sometimes you have to look back to see where you have been.  Sometimes it doesn't amount to much, other times the difference is so striking that it leaves you somewhat agape or stunned. This is one of those moments.  Sure some of the actual words said are even the same (it costs too much, where are the women?) but these are the first times they have been said and that is something important.

Not sure what the next issues will bring, but for me I am looking for that joy of discovery of a new thing.  But I guess that is what it is all about all the time really.

eta: The middle pages

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