Sunday, September 30, 2012

Falling Into Autumn

"Gee, I like this season best of all!  The trees are like nature's own fireworks display!"
- Hobbes

Autumn is upon us, and I'm quite thrilled.  For me, autumn always means new releases (for some reason, the stuff that comes out in the fall is always my favorite), and the Michigan colors are getting ready to turn.  I couldn't ask for anything better.

With all the new releases, there's plenty of inspiration for D&D campaigns and adventure hooks.  This weekend has been a plethora of new stuff, and the gears in my mind have been turning.

First, this weekend marked the start of Clone Wars Season 5.  Darth Maul and Savage Opress came back in full force.  If you haven't seen Clone Wars, I highly recommend it for a couple of reasons.  One, it's Star Wars.  You can't get any better than that.  Secondly, Clone Wars is a great resource for how to create episodic stories.  Chris Perkins writes a lot about how he considers his campaigns to be like TV sitcoms.

Clone Wars episodes are about 22 minutes a piece, divided into three story arcs.  Even when they are in a story arc (3 to 4 episodes), each episode definitely has a beginning, a middle and an end.  The viewer always wants to watch more and see what happens, yet they are still satisfied with what they have been given.  It's a great format for TV shows as well as D&D games.

The Season 5 premiere is available on, which leads off solidly.  If you have access to some of the older seasons, the episode Lair of Grievous from Season 1 is a solid illustration of how to have a kick ass session for the evening.  The episode Bounty Hunters from Season 4 is another solid episode, with a twist and moral decision.

In short, check this show out.

Before I ever started playing D&D, I was heavily involved with Magic the Gathering (another WotC game).  This weekend was the pre-release for the newest set, Return to Ravnica.  We first journeyed to Ravnica six years ago (although it feels much longer).  The premise of the set was a large city-world with 10 different guilds vying for power.  Each guild had a different feel/played differently.  It is my favorite Magic set of all time.

My favorite guild was the Golgari (I started off a Gruul fan, but the Golgari were so much cooler as I dove into them).  At the pre-release, you got to choose one out of five available guilds.  You were given a box with your guild symbol.  My box looked like this:

 The inside of the box had a letter from the guildmaster, all your cards (random, you then had to build a deck to play), as well as a guild symbol sticker.

 Personally, I think the stickers are awesome.  The problem is, I don't know where I would stick it to, which kind of defeats the purpose of it. 

I also got a sweet pre-release promotional card for the Golgari.  My little brother opened up the guild leader in foil, so we were able to trade, so now I have a new Commander deck.

At this point, I can hear all my (faithful?) readers asking what the point of reading this blog post was.  Well, besides telling you about the great weekend I had, I also wanted to re-iterate the fact that just because something isn't Dungeons & Dragons doesn't mean that there isn't potential to plunder for stories.  Magic the Gathering has great art (and has over ten years worth).  Think about all those galleries you could plunder to look for inspiration for your campaigns.  Think of the character concepts you can find.  Think of a new world setting you could develop for a new campaign.

Let me give you my own real life example.

I was 15 when Revenge of the Sith came out.  I was super stoked (seeing it twice in theaters).  I though Anakin Skywalker had the greatest story ever, despite his fall.  To this day, I still understand his reasons for joining the Dark Side (and the Clone Wars show has been showing this more and more).  About a year ago, I experienced his temptations firsthand and understood them: if we truly thought the person we loved most was going to die, we would do anything to save them.  I spent a week wondering if my fiancee was going to be ok after a horrible, horrible car accident.  Miraculously, everything turned out great, but it's always been something that dwells in the back of my mind.

Anyway, as a 15 year old self, I was creating a new character for some story ideas my friends and I were doing.  I came up with a druid (since I was always the earth/nature guy), but I made his order of druids a lot like the Jedi Order.  My characters name was Ragnarok Senzez, and he was also a werewolf.  He had some attachment issues.  I tried to give him some differentiation from Anakin (for one, he never fell from least he was never temped to), but Star Wars was heavily inspiring my life at that point (it always had, but with the completion of the six movies, it was going on in full force).

In conclusion, inspiration is all around us.  Appreciate the little things, try something new, or look at your non D&D loves as a source of new D&D ideas.  As always, leave your comments below and be sure to follow me on Twitter @artificeralf

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