Writing For Myself

So I’ve been in the process for the last year of writing a full-fledged campaign for D&D. Complete with descriptions of towns and people and lore. Very recently I polished up one of the settlements called Cliffeld

Location: Cliffeld

A small town with not much to it when you approach from the main road but it has its quirks.

There is a fairly large inn with a bar on the bottom floor. The bar serves food and beer, it’s run by Trina, a human woman who doesn’t trust many but trusts the malnourished Dwarf, Skinny McDirbbles. Skinny actually lives under the bar. At one end of the bar, there is a secret door that can be pushed open. Walk down seven steps and there is Skinny’s home. There is a hammock, a few crates, and a dull gray tapestry hanging on one wall. Making friends with Skinny will let him feel comfortable enough to show you that he has a tunnel behind the tapestry into the warehouse next door.

Opposite the bar of the inn is a courtyard and a small library. The library is unusual books are collected from passing travelers some of them in exchange for food, shelter, or drink. The books are in several languages covering magic, travel, history, and more. Twelve rooms on the second floor of the inn for the weary traveler.

There is a warehouse that backs up to the cliffside and has wide doors leading to the center of town. It’s said that this was where loggers could drop their logs into the ocean to be picked up by transport ships. After Skinny shows someone the tunnel they learn that this warehouse is now a smuggler’s port.

Other buildings in the town is a general merchant selling goods for traveling and a few houses. Things the Merchant, Kernan, doesn’t run out of are rope, iron-tipped arrows, and beans. He lives inside his shop and it’s very hard to steal from.

There is a few homes where people stay. Common tools for woodworking can be found by asking people. There is a lumberjack which, for a fee, will guide someone through the forest or help them track some thing.

My Favorite Card From Kaladesh

So Kaladesh has been out for a month now and I think I finally have my favorite card narrowed down.

Bomat Courier
Bomat Courier

This thing is cool. I really think it could make the start to any match so much better.

Let’s look at some scenario’s

Turn 1: Mountain, Bomat courier, Attack, exile a card.
Turn 2: Smuggler’s Copter, if they put something down maybe hold the attack.
Turn 3: Thraben Inspector, crew the copter and attack with both, exile a card.

At this point, if they block and will kill your Bomat Courier it’s not worth paying the one mountain to get two cards from exile. Unless you’re looking for something particular and it’s not in your hand. Maybe you’re starved for land or maybe you need a different card for your win condition.

I get this out Smuggler’s Copter and Chief of the Foundry. More often than not. Turn three I crew the Copter with the chief and swing with a 2/2 and a 4/4 flier. It’s not a good way to make friends. At this point, your Bomat might trade with something bigger than it and it will exile it’s second or third card depending on the board state.

I was playing a game last night and my opponent had a Bomat Courier and it was mid-to-late game and I was blocking his bigger creatures with a 1/4 lifelink and letting his bomat hit me. He didn’t notice that at any time he could have replenished his hand with 5 cards for one red mana and saccing a 1/1… that’s powerful! That was when I fell in love.

If you build a red deck send me a link and I hope you add the Bomat Courier. Here is the deck I’m working on.

Background Music For Your RPGs.

Do you ever think “I wish I could make this scene more immersive?” Well, one easy trick is to add sound. Whether it be background music, ambient sounds, or a mix of the two it can help out immensely. I’ve got a few options for you to look into.

First is Tabletop Audio, this is a free web-based player with a bunch of 10-minute audio scenes. I’ll be using this player during my next session; Lost Mine, Cavern of Lost Souls, and Skirmish for an epic dungeon playlist. You can also support the project on Patreon

Second is Battle Bards this is the best of the best. This is the Vorpal sword of RPG audio. It’s also web-based and can do playlists but it can also play multiple tracks at a time and has cropping abilities. If you want to spend money and have all the options then this is the audio solution to choose.

Lastly there is My Noise, I’ve used this to create scenes for when the team were walking through forests and there were bugs about. Or when they are in a tavern with people talking and cups clinking. This is a really versatile option. You use sliders to add sound effects or ambience to a scene and it plays indefinitely.

I think for my next session I’ll be using Tabletop Audio with a little addition from My Noise to give it that added immersion. Try it out for yourself and let me know!

Stranger Things Made Me Want to Play D&D

Have you watched Stranger Things on Netflix and thought “Man, those kids are playing Dungeons and Dragons. It looks like a blast!” Well it is. I’m going to give you some pointers on how to get started playing D&D.

While the kids of Stranger Things probably played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 2nd edition, we’re going to get you set up with D&D 5th Edition. This is the current incarnation and it’s my favorite.

So first you’ll need the rules. There is a few ways to go about this. Also we are going to assume you’ll be the dungeon master for this group.

14360385_10155429176274657_1440454557_o

1. Player’s Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)

So the Player’s Handbook or PHB for short, is the book most needed to play D&D. With it you can create characters, add items to your game, look up stats for spells, and all of the rules for all the nuances you can think of that an adventurer could run in to. This is what I recommend because it really does have everything.

2. Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set

This starter set is what I started with. It has the basic rules that I’ll talk about next and it also has a basic campaign. If you don’t want to create a world from scratch this is a great resource. The cheapest campaign you’ll find. I ran one session with this set and then I bought the PHB so I could add things like different weapons and help create more immersive characters. This also comes with a set of polyhedral dice, saves you a few more dollars.

3. Download the basic rules.

If you’re on an extreme budget you can download this PDF and print it out. That’s the bare minimum you need to start playing. You’ll have to come up with a campaign or world for your players to play in but this free option can get you in the door.

 

After the rules get dice. It’s best if each player has their own set but sharing is an option too.

Let’s adventure!

Ok, you have the rules now let’s get you an adventure. Typically a campaign is played over several sessions. The characters will play through the sessions doing three main things; exploring, fighting, and role playing. Currently I’m running an investigation heavy game. It’s a challenge with all the role playing but it’s a blast and the clues will lead them to some big fights!

What I recommend for your first campaign is to pick up an official D&D campaign. There are several campaigns ready made for 5th edition. That means the math for encounters, the way it fights with the player’s characters and all the other bits and pieces fit very well together with the things in the PHB. Here are the ones I recommend.

  1. Princes of the Apocolypse
  2. Out of the Abyss
  3. Curse of Strahd

Honorable mention is Storm King’s Thunder, it’s getting favorable reviews but I haven’t looked into it.

Once you have a campaign picked out read through it and prepare for session 0. I and many other Dungeon Master’s like to do a character creation session, often called “session zero”. I recently used Brooklyn Indie Game’s Backstory cards. Talk about adding some depth to your characters! This was so easy and added some tension in the characters before first session. If you don’t do that ask each person a problem their character had to get over and give them some family members that live somewhere in the world.

Once characters are built and backstoried set the scene. How the adventurers met, where they are headed and let it flow in to a story that the PCs and the DM tell together. Encourage them to be creative, let them roll dice for weird things, the more abstract you let them be the more immersive the story will be.

Good luck in your campaign and don’t forget to kill the Demogorgon!

Tips

Well, you’ve got characters, you’ve got a story, and hopefully you have players too. You set them down and let them wander in your world but here are some tips.

If someone wants to do something and the outcome doesn’t actually matter. Like they are fishing for information but the NPC doesn’t have any or they want to intimidate the barkeep so the beers are cheaper. Just let them do it. Not everything needs to be rolled. Especially when a failure or success means very little changes in the story.

When your player’s characters have a chance of death, telegraph that it could happen. Like if they think going up against a particular baddy is nothing tell one of them “you remember a story of one of these creatures ripping a knight from limb to limb.” Surprise deaths are a way to get a player to leave your table and never come back.

Make handouts if you’re unsure if the story that day will be exciting or if you have fidgety players. I gave out scrolls with personalized secret messages for each character this last session. It was wildly interesting to see them all have a motive to move the story in different directions.

Here are some resources you can check out.

  • DMs Guild, official store of digital content for D&D 5th edition.
  • Drivethru RPG, digital store for many RPGs. Can find system agnostic items.
  • The Tome Show, a podcast focused on discussing everything D&D.
  • JUX Games Twitter, I’ll happily answer any questions you have about D&D.

P.S. If you haven’t watched Stranger Things, get on it! Get all your friends watching it and then send them this post.

Disclaimer: The Amazon links in this article generate a few pennies for me, the author, if used to purchase something. If you use them, I thank you.

 

Monte Cook Games – Invisible Sun

Could have had a better title but this new RPG looks slick. Ok, maybe I’m just biased because I’ve been following MCG for a few years and all of their products look slick, but this is new! So it’s fresh slick… I’ll stop saying slick now.

An RPG, ok not unusual…
A new setting, ok that’s always fun…
Escaping reality, umm… what?

No it’s not suicide, it’s a concept of finding a new reality. I think. There really isn’t too much about Invisible Sun. Here is what the website currently says.

Do you dream of escape, but you don’t know from what, or to where? Looking for a chance to escape the insanity of the world, and immerse yourself into something rich, deep, and fantastical? Something that challenges the limits of your creativity and your intellect?

If so, then join us and escape the Shadow of the real world. Enter a new Actuality of surreal fantasy where mystical characters wielding fabulous powers discover the secrets of reality itself. Invisible Sun is a roleplaying game that extends play beyond the table to accommodate the busy schedule of your life. Play at home with your friends, play online, play one-on-one with the GM at the coffee shop. Become engrossed in compelling stories, with characters as complex and interesting as any in fiction.

Escape

Invisible Sun is deep. It’s smart. Just like you. Invisible Sun will change the way you play rpgs.

Here are some links you want to keep track of.

Path of Suns for the lead up to the Kickstarter.
Invisible Sun RPG for everything else.

Just two days until this kickstarter so make sure to check it out!

My Favorite MTG Card From Eldritch Moon.

I was already using a blue/white spirit deck I made from cards of Shadows Over Innistrad. So, naturally when I started looking at card in Eldritch Moon Spell Queller really caught my eye.

Spell Queller

So this card may look unexciting at first but with the cards currently in standard there is a lot to work with. I’m already taking things out of play and then back in so I can use Topplegeist’s ETB ability of tapping opponents creatures. With this I can cast and prevent anything. A creature, enchantment, artifact, anything as long as it’s CMC is 4 or less.

So you’ve got this card and it prevents anything. Even things that say “cannot be countered” will be exiled. This could swing the momentum of the game especially mid-game.

in my head I see this playing out as you prevent a 2/2 flier, or a 3/3 on the ground or a myriad of other medium sized creatures that can pose a problem. So you remove their creature right now while putting a 2/3 on the board. Such a good trade.

Then 3 or 4 turns later they deal with the Spell Queller and their early/mid-game creature or spell gets cast and it’s much, much less detrimental. Unless it’s a burn spell. 3 life now or 3 life later may not make a difference.

I just really like the control this card can give you.

Their turn, they cast Gisela and you say “cute” and respond with Spell Queller. They wont have their bomb on the table and you’ll have a 2/3 flier. It’ll take at least a turn for them to respond but you’ll at least have a possible attack with a 2/3 or just not get hit for 4 the following turn.

What cards do you like out of this newest set?

My 5 Pokemon Go hints

  1. Catch everything! One of the resources in the game that is harder to come by is Stardust. You get stardust from catching Pokemon. Even if you already have 13 Ratattas and 42 Pidgeys still catch more.
  2. Catch those commons. Some places get an obnoxious amount of Zubats, here I see Ratatta everywhere. Other people say they see too many Geodudes. When you get to level 9 you get a lucky egg and that is when you’ll evolve all your commons. If you evolve 8 pidgeys that’s 8,000xp. As far as I have seen it is the fastest way to level.
  3. Capture gyms with at least 2 of your friends. Capture the gym and plan from the bottom up stick a 400 – 600cp pokemon in there then all three train against is. Rig the fights so you know everyone will win. Then when it’s level 4-6 put the other pokemon in the gym that are 500 – 1500cp.
  4. Find a facebook group for your area where people are planning meetups. I’m going to downtown this weekend where several of my friends and maybe 50+ others will be. Incense + lures + meeting new people = winning.
  5. Find a copilot or a driver. I drive my wife around and she catches Pokemon and she gets all the pokestops. I don’t even look at my phone. She just gets excited that we are both getting new creatures and all the goodies from the pokestops. It’s incredibly efficient. Just please, don’t drive and Pokemon. It’s way too distracting.

Kickstarters and The Problem of Serial Crowdfunders.

Kickstarter is great for small companies or individuals to launch their product without huge financial risk.

What grinds my gears is when an established company crowdfunds a project when they have the resources to do it in house. I feel it takes away from the culture of people breaking out and creates noise in the kickstarter system when there is already enough of that. I follow a lot of tabletop gaming projects and I’ve seen this company do so many kickstarters that I’m not sure they know any other way to launch a product.

CoolMiniOrNot, Inc has done 24 projects each one was wildly successful and their current is poised to be their top funded project yet. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to get my hands on 3–4 of their games including the one currently being funded. What I don’t like is that while they are producing tons of games and many are top 1,000 sellers on Amazon in the Games > Board Games category they still need to be kick started.

Zombicide (May 2012), Arcadia Quest (March 2014), Xenoshyft Onslaught (June 2014), and Blood Rage (March 2016) all were successfully funded with hundreds of thousands more than the goal. To me this means that they don’t need to be on Kickstarter but need to be taking pre-orders, on their site, and let crowdfunding be for the little guys.

I don’t think what CoolMiniOrNot is doing is bad but I don’t think it’s the most healthy the gaming community. I believe leaving the door open for more diverse projects to be seen without the giant shadow of an established giant is good for the consumer. I’d like to see more teams of 2–5 posting games where they really have no choice but to crowdfund for their game.

I do have a hunch that the first few games launched on kickstarter needed it. They needed funding because they were created by someone else but produced by CMON. From what I can tell the last several projects were not created by someone else but created by CMON.

I’ll be honest though I don’t know all of their financials or how their setup is. I just have a feeling a company that is working with millions of dollars on the regular should be able to leave Kickstarter to those that need kick starting. Just hire a dev to create a preorder page.

Shogun, The Japanese Risk… Kinda

Recommendation time! Okay this is an “epic” I played it a few weeks ago and I’m really excited to play it again.

Shogun!

It’s spendy but it’s worth it. A game with one of the coolest mechanics to settle battles, a distinct read your opponents and guess their moves game. This game had everything I crave in a game. There is several turns each round while people satisfy the 8 actions they secretly choose at the beginning of the round.

Like risk you try and conquer your opponents areas for more points in a region, like Catan you build things for points, and unlike any other game you shake up a ton of wooden blocks and throw them down a dice tower. @,@ What? Yes, the blocks represent the troops you have in your region the opponent adds the blocks they are attacking with, then throw them all in together and some will get stuck. The ones that come out are the survivors. The survivors cancel each other out until one team is wiped out. The winner takes the territory. The stuck blocks live to “fight” another day in the system. So if another person comes to attack you, you may have a bunch more defenders in the tower that will roll out at the end.

This game just had everything. Suspense, strategy, some randomness, great theme, and last but not least it was a ton of fun!

Magic The Gathering – Prerelease

Soon the Eldritch Moon prerelease will be here and I’m very excited.

A Magic prerelease is a casual tournament where you get the cards a week before the newest set comes out.

I’ve had more fun at Magic prerelease tournaments than most other gaming events I’ve done. At the last one I went to I went 1 win and 2 losses but I’m ok with that. Learning new cards and playing against people is really all that matters.

It’s so relaxed even if you take a few minutes to reread a card or make a mis-play no one will think less of you. I recommend it as the way to get introduced to MTG tournaments.

So I hope to see you in a few weeks at your friendly local game store. 😄