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Showing posts from January, 2012

Putting the Dragon Back in Dungeons and Dragons

"Never laugh at live dragons." - J.R.R. Tolkien
Today, while picking up a few extra gifts for my little little brother's birthday, I saw the Dragons Collector Boxed Set on sale at my friendly neighborhood gaming shop.  So, I picked it up.
First of all, I'm very impressed.  I'm ready to have these dragons throw down against an unsuspecting party.  Or, maybe a suspecting party.  Half of the reason I picked it up was because dragons are the iconic monster of Dungeons and Dragons (the game is named after them).  The more I've been thinking about it though, the more I've realized that the monster has seemed to fall out of favor.
Maybe this isn't true for every game and every group.  However, in my experience, I always pass over dragons and simply look for other "big bads".  In heroic tier, it's a goblin lord, or a gnoll chieftain, or some evil from the Feywild.  By the time epic tier hits, people are fighting gods and what not.  What happene…

The Call of Cthulhu (or Really, the Call of the Kraken)

"Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth..." - Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Kraken
A year ago, my friends all wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons.  I was but a player in our group, and the last session had ended with a giant explosion that left the party split up and floating on debris in the middle of the ocean.  It was quite the cliffhanger, and we were all eager to find out what would happen next.  However, it was not to be.  Why? Our DM was not going to be there that night.
You can imagine the horror and the disappointment.  Everybody was geared up and ready, and yet there was no adventure to be had.  I was determined to still play, so I decided to take on the role of DM for the night.  I had about two hours before everybody arrived and need to come up with an adventure of quality.
I knew three things at this point: The characters were afloat in the sea.The adventure had to end t…

How to Build the Harrowing Halls

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex...It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein
Looking through Dungeon Tile reviews, I noticed that other articles wrote about how awesome the Harrowing Halls dungeon tiles set is, yet there are no instructions for how to assemble the pieces.  This confused me, as it seemed like something the Dungeons and Dragons community should have access to, let alone be able to google and get a result.  The best thing I could find was a fast 40 second video from Newbie DM of assembling a platform.  I know that the set came out a little while ago, but since you can still find them in stores, I figured a tutorial couldn't hurt.
1. It's important to notice that though many of the tiles have the same shape, the location of the cuts is different.  Some are at the top of the tile, some at the bottom.  Whenever you're constructing a box/stairwell/ect., it's al…

Map Attack!

"I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then I'm gonna put pins into all the locations that I've traveled to. But first, I'm gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won't fall down.”  - Frederic P. Miller
To me, the coolest part about any foreign realm (and the real life ones) are the maps.  Even when I was a child, my favorite part of going to the zoo was getting the huge fold out map that showed where all the animals were, among other things.  Something about maps just kind of lets the imagination run wild.  And so, as I grew older, I began to map out my own realms.

Tolkien really inspired me.  I was in 5th grade and was reading The Hobbit, and it was such a completely different book from everything that I had ever read.  Everything about it blew me away.  Up until that point, I spent most of 5th grade reading The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (The Black Cauldron, ect).  Both had awesome maps.  The cool part about Prydain…

Realms of the Masterminds: Chapter III

"Danger, danger, danger" - Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter
NOTE: Be sure to read Whispers in the Dark Chapter I and II before reading this, as the campaign split into two different parts!
Standing amongst the bodies of the two fey who had died on their attempted escape from the goblin fortress of Feuerbrennt, Dawgsin gave them both the blessing of Bahamut, wishing them peace in their next life.   "Cut off some of their hair," Ragnarok instructed, "we may have the chance to resurrect them at a later time."  Dawgsin did so without question, and Ragnarok put the hair in a pouch on his belt.
"We need to keep moving," Dawgsin said quietly, his raspy voice echoing off the stone walls.  Ragnarok nodded.  As they were about to leave, two more figures ran through the door: a half-orc and an elf maiden.
"We fight here!" the half-orc shouted at the elf.  Dawgsin looked at Ragnarok, who simply nodded.  Sensing the druid's thought…

Prologue: Whispers in the Dark/Realms of the Masterminds Part II of II

"After all, the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." - Albus Dumbledore
Stranded in the chambers below the Goblin Fortress of Feuerbrennt, Syn'Dral had grudgingly agreed to follow Ragnarok's lead, and the druid wasted no opportunity by leading them through the next doorway. Before them lay a great hall, and the two goblin guards they had run away from after they escaped their cells.  One goblin began shouting in goblin "get them!" while drawing a long wicked looking knife.  Dawgsin charged to the back of the room when four goblins suddenly appeared from among the storage crates, all of them waiting to stab the young halfling.

Ragnarok commanded Llenherd to help Dawgsin.  As the giant teddy bear hamster ran, the floor beneath him gave way, opening into a giant chasm.  Luckiliy, Llenherd was quick enough to jump back in time, staring at the darkness that almost swallowed him up.

Krent ran past Dawgsin, taking out the two g…

Prologue: Whispers in the Dark/Realms of the Masterminds Part I of II

"Catch a man a fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime." - Old Saying
While many have been pestering me about posting new DnD stuff, it just hasn't happened.  My group has been very busy, and, suffice to say, the campaign has not been moving at the speed at which I envisioned.  However, I've been able to plan the next adventure for about two to three months, so I'm really looking forward to us sitting down in the next couple of weeks and cranking it out.
What does that mean for right now though?  I realized that planning wasn't enough; I wanted to play.  I also happen to have a younger brother who loves the game, and will most likely start DMing for his friends as he gets older (he's about half my age).
The DM's Guide and lots of material are great at explaining how the game works and how to build encounters and what not, but it doesn't help with ideas.  It doesn't help with running the game.  I re…

Grave Secrets: Chapter II

"Heroes Are Made By The Times" - The Clone Wars
Outside the Fallen Cathedral, an undead horde was ready to lay siege to the living beings inside it.  Inside the Fallen Cathedral, our heroes knew they had to act fast.

Chainer suggested that they begin by fortifying the structure.  As they were about to begin to prepare for the assault, Frenzy heard a voice inside his head.

"I seek your help.  I am a friend."

Frenzy, disturbed by this mental voice, commanded the voice to show itself.  A moment later, a Shardmind emerged from the shadows.

"I am Megamind," he spoke telepathically.  "I need your help to fight them off."

While Niz and Frenzy were skeptical, Chainer shrugged, knowing that they needed all the help they could get.  As they started to shove materials and barricade the doors, a few zombies burst through.  As the group began defending themselves, they became aware of a disturbing revelation: the zombies were trying to get at …

Grave Secrets: Chapter I

"It's not the destination so much as the journey"- Captain Jack Sparrow
Dungeons and Dragons revolves around everybody playing their own character (much like many popular video games).  Unlike video games, the characters here aren't limited to programming, but to the player's own minds.  These character concepts are all their own, with a few things borrowed here and there.
Nizumo Misoka - A elven pirate (rogue in game terms), Niz is a tonfa wielding ex-slave who took to life on the high seas.  His charm and optimism (along with his thievery skills) make him a valuable asset to any party.
Chainer - A human shadow mage (nethermancer in game terms), Chainer spent most of his life battling in the gladiatorial arenas, seeking for a prize that would give him even greater power.  He speaks to few, and even fewer speak to him, on account of the giant spiked chain he wields with extreme skill.
Frenzy Forgestoker - A dwarf mercenary (knight in game terms), Fren…