Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope that 2014 was a good year for you and yours.

More importantly, I wish you nothing but the best for 2015!

And hope you get to play more games!!

Looking Forward to 2015

So another year draws near.

With my oldest returning from Orlando, FL we should be getting back to nearly weekly board gaming.  I'm anxious to try FFG's Imperal Assault.

I'm hoping my second youngest daughter's DnD will get a second session and am trying to work that out right now.

I'm looking forward to playing in Ben B.'s game with my son.

I'm anxiously awaiting Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Hopefully, I'm not being suckered again.

Other movies include Kingsman, Avengers 2, and Ant-Man.

Gaming has me looking forward to Robert J. Schwalb's Kickstarter for Shadow of the Demon Lord.

Princes of the Apocalypse for DnD 5th Edition seems to hold some Elemental Evilness and that always gets me going.

I'm we're lucky, 2015 will be filled with fun, good health, family and wonder.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hard Times in Jarlsburg: High Houses Brought Low!

The Hard Times is Jarlsburg's premier source of news (not necessarily truth) and routinely outsells it's competitor, The Cryer.



Scandal rocks the Dwyer House yet again--death and doom follow the House's dandy!

Baron Bruth Dwyer's eldest son, Kireon, was picked up by members of the Night Watch late last evening after being missing for nearly three days.  Kieron and the Ambassador from Iron Hall, Tibido Hammerstone were last seen leaving Yuseph's Gala on the Oleander on the evening of their disappearance.  While their absence was a source of concern, the young man and his young dwarf companion are known as voracious "pub crawlers" and layabouts.

However, at some point their "romp" turned tragic as members of the Watch found Kireon unconscious and "drugged" and discovered the mutilated corpse of Tibido mere feet from the "heir apparent" of the House Dwyer.

Kireon is currently in the Watch's custody and the murder scene, the former Patrone Home which has been abandoned for over over a decade, has been thouroughly investigated.

Rumors of cult involvement reached this reporter and I have confirmed that the Prime Minsister's Special Task Force on Cult Activity found the young Dwyer.

More as the story develops.

Hera Kirck, Gibbons Beat Reporter
Early-Day Edition on the 32nd Day of Deck in the Second Hundred and Twenty First Year of Thronehold

What I played in 2014

This year has been dominated by DnD 5th Edition.  Wether it was starting the year playtesting and showing it off to my customers or playing it as part of DnD Encounters it dominated my gaming time.

Currently I'm in a sweet game by Ben B. that saw us complete the Phandelver adventure in the Starter set and sees us about to move farther north along the Sword Caost.

I've also both DM'd and played Hoard of the Dragon Queen and have a cool elf named Quarion.

I've dabbled with a wee bit of Dragon Age, Numenera, and Feng Shui 2, but find myself coming back to fantasy.

I've closed out the year playtesting the wonderfully dark and nasty Shadow of the Demon Lord by Robert J. Schwalb.

In years past, I've written about running 2 or even 3 regular games, but right now, 1 is enough and I'm enjoying playing.

And, yes, I still get butterflies every time I run.

Prime Materials: Dagger of the Red Shadow for D&D 5th Edition

Dagger of the Red Shadow

Weapon (dagger), very rare  

The Red Shadow are legendary assassins whose master, To Tonkin, is said to hail from the Shadowfell.  

To Tonkin began recruiting and training his agents nearly one hundred years ago and has earned equal measures of fear and respect from rulers all over the continent.  To this day, To Tonkin himself is a boogeyman used by High Elf parents to frighten unruly children in the East.

Those who wield these daggers gain +1 to hit and damage.

Shadow Walker (requires attunement) Assassins who are attuned to these daggers, have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks to hide and score a critical hit on a roll of 19-20.

Red glare (requires attunement) Wielders who have the Acolyte background and are attuned to these daggers, have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) and Intelligence (Investigation) checks.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a joyful and wonderful Holiday Season.

Thank you for reading my blog this year.

Now get back to spending time with loved ones and hopefully good food and napping!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

We've Cleared the Lost Mine of Phandelver or One Door Closes and Another Door Opens

Our Thursday group, run by the wonderful Ben B. just wrapped up the Lost Mines of Phandelver and stabilized the village of Phandalin.  We started this game right around the release of the DnD 5th Edition Starter Set.  And we just finished it.

And it was awesome.

Sure we joked about other groups that "cleared" it in a week or two.  But we didn't.  We investigated and bickered and built in-game relationships and we have a pretty clear idea of who are characters are and what motivates them.

As a a matter of fact, when the game picks up in two weeks and we hit level 5, not all of the characters are going on to Neverwinter.  My character, Hollis (Halfling Barbarian), Bruenor (Dwarf Wizard), and Kesh (Dragonborn Fighter) are staying in Phandalin to build a brewery (Bruenor), learn elven (me), goblin (Kesh), become sherif and possibly mayor (me) and establish a trade route to Mithral Hall (Kesh).

It's pretty cool.

The rest of the party is following Singular to Neverwinter.  I'll be making a new character (still not sure what) and we'll be adding a Monk and a Warlock and a Cleric.

Its what a game should be.

I'm proud to be playing in it.

I hope everyone enjoys the the Starter as much as we did.

As an aside, I vastly prefer the sandbox style of the Starter vs the railroad of the Tyranny of Dragons books (and I understand why they had to be different, but I hope Princes of the Apocalypse shares more with the Starter than the first campaign).

Hard Times in Jarlsburg: A Task Worth Undertaking

The Hard Times is Jarlsburg's premier source of news (not necessarily the full truth) and routinely outsells it's competitor, The Kryer.



The Oleander Council and High Inquisitor Lot have been extra busy.  In the wake of the devastation at the Caliban Club, a Task Force has been created to oversee the slew of cult related activity within the city over the last year.

I guess the citizens should be thankful that the activities have finally affected our richest and most powerful?  Perhaps the Caliban Club should have been amongst the first casualties in these callous and cruel chicaneries!

The Task Force is being overseen by a "Silvercloak" of long standing, Inquisitor Wolverton Kincaid and he has chosen to staff comprise with the first responders from the Caliban Club case, who, if reports are to be believed have already faced off against some "demonic embryo", according to official report from the scene.

Rumors have circulated that the Task Force has already been investigating the Red Travellers of Ruth, who were exiled from Thronehold several years ago, after being accused of grifting several members of the Royal Family.

The Red Travellers are suspected to be lead by Giteon Rojas, the older brother of Gilroy, Lord General of the Adamantine Battle Legion which has recently been hired to defend the Line of Slovachia against the Blizzard King's rebel forces.

Giteon disappeared nearly two decades ago while in the service of Queen Selestia IV of Floria during the Siege of Ram Poon.

There are whispers that Red Travellers revere the ancient Red Death, whose worshipers was banished from the Twin Rivers region over 1000 years ago.

More as this story develops.

Melynda Dae Odell, Yeti Beat Reporter
Evening Edition on the 17th Day of Deck in the Second Hundred and Twenty First Year of Thronehold.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Primeval Thule: Tribal Outcast for D&D 5th Edition

Backgrounds here are bases on the Narratives in Primeval Thule, so they will gain abilities as a character levels.  They are only intended for use in the Primeval Thule setting and are not designed to be mixed with standard Backgrounds.

Also, some of the abilities require the expenditure of a resource, for this reason and for how dangerous the setting is, each character gains the Lucky Feat for free and may take the Lucky Feat one additional time.

Tribal Outcast

Areas of Proficiency (1st level): You are proficient in Nature and Survival.

Langauges (1st level): One of your choice.

Tools (1st level): One of your choice.

Isolated Action (Level 1):  You can spend a Luck point when you make an attack roll against a target, and if no creatures other than you are adjacent to that target, you have advantage on the attack roll.
A New Identity (6th level): You pick up the practices of a new life, and while you’ll always have your heritage, you have new experiences that mold you. You gain the 1st-level Skill Bonuses from a second background from Primeval Thule. You can only apply the bonus from one background at a time.
Optionally this is a feat and can only be taken if you have this background and are at least 4th level, additionally you gain +1 Charisma.

Triumphant Return (10th level): Your former tribe is ready for reconciliation. Whether you accept the offer is up to you, but as a token of sincerity, you have been given a tribal heirloom. Work with your GM to choose an appropriate magic item of (up to 25,000 gp in value), which is yours until you return it to your tribe.
Optionally this is a feat and can only be taken if you have this background and are at least 8th level.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hard Times in Jarlsburg: Hellfire Rages through Coppertown

The Hard Times is Jarlsburg's premier source of news (not necessarily the full truth) and routinely outsells it's competitor, The Kryer.



The infamous Montauk House caught fire and collapsed this evening just prior to midnight, several people are confirmed dead!!!!

The Montauk House has been the home of the prestigious Caliban Club, whose members count amongst the rich and powerful from all over the continent, for the last 66 years.  It has been confirmed by a seargent of the Watch that at least two members lost their lives in the blaze.

Montauk House prior to the devastation.

Witnesses report that nearly half a dozen members of the Watch, mostly Ironcloaks, were seen moving cautiously into the Club before it caught fire and strange tremors brought the whole structure down and caused minor damage to the surrounding block.

One witness, Pervy McClintock of Paulson Avenue claims to have seen a battle between an Ironclad and a "wicked black figure who moved along the outside of der house like a spider or rat or spider-rat!"

Thus far the only comment from the Watch has been that "an investigation is ongoing".

Just after the collapse one of the Caliban Clubs Black Carriages was seen retrieving a man from the site, the man had been surrounded by Ironcloaks before his departure.

Over a dozen witness claimed to have smelled foul odors emanating from the Club and heard battle prior to its destruction.  Several of them compared the smell to brimstone.

The Caliban Club was founded 107 years ago by Sebastian and Nicollette Halifax, as a private club whose membership is closely guarded secret.  The club had been based in Thronehold until unproven allocations of diabolism made the Inner Circle, the Club's leadership, decide to relocate to the Montauk House.

The Montauk House was the site of the mass murder of the Bischoff family, seventeen family members and thirteen servants, on the Feast of Narwhal 86 years ago.  While Willem Doobwah, the only survivor of the massacre, was found guilty of the crime and hung, many at the time doubted his guilt.

More as this story develops.

Gershwin Verge,  Elder Beat Reporter
Early Morning Edition on the 4th Day of Deck in the Second Hundred and Twenty First Year of Thronehold.

While I was Sleeping...

Apparently something called #gamergate occurred.  Apparently it caused quite the fuss.  Apparently someone made a card game about it and it got banned from  Supposedly, Evil Hat threatened to pull their products.

Wow.  I work in a comics and games store and this whole thing is crazy to me.  I'm really glad that half my staff is female, that we welcome everyone in the store and we don't have to deal with and wouldn't tolerate any form of harassment.  I'm also glad, that I'm learned to live "without drama" and wish more people would.

As an aside, I used to thrive on drama and spent nearly two decades, generally in some form of conflict over gaming.  I finally realized I was, at minimum, 50% of any conflict I was in and adopted the "No Drama" mantra.  Things came full circle when a player who was ready to take a break, but didn't no how to articulate it, started trying to cause drama and I pulled him aside and told him take some time off.  Done, no hard feelings, no anger, just take some time.  Good for everyone.  Life is to short to do something you don't enjoy.  It was nice to avoid conflict.

Now, back to this "issue".  If feels they need to pull a title, that's there decision (I wouldn't have bought either way).  But if Evil Hat really used their "weight" to pressure OBS, that sucks.  Now, I won't lie I'm no fan of Evil Hat.  I was foolish enough to waste years waiting for FATE and then stared at this game engine that is supposed to be lean and story based, but has the complexity of Shadowrun.  That provides rules for things we've all done in games for years, without said rules.

Sadly, I should've just played Hero Wars/HeroQuest.

I was stupid enough to wait way too long first for Spirit of the Century and then the Dresden Files.  Along the way, let's just say I realized I don't see eye to eye with the creators.  They rub me the wrong way.  If this latest action is true, well let's just say that I'll simply make their products special order only in my stores.  Not that thats a big deal, because I can't give FATE products away.  But thats just my store.

Honestly, I hope this thing goes away.  I hope everyone involved grows up and learn to live a less dramatic life.  I hope the game makers remember that we only expect them to make games.  And I hope the game players, realize that playing games should be a pass time and fun.
I'd like to say that I'll pick up the Gamer Gate Card game to support the publisher, but I'd never play it.  And thats what game are for.  But, I hope they sell some copies.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In the Shadow of the Demon Lord

As I've mentioned before I'm super jazzed about Robert J. Schwalb's forthcoming RPG, Shadow of the Demon Lord.  I was incredibly lucky to get to demo it with Rob, himself and I invite all of you to get your Local Game Store to set up a demo with him on his Facebook page.

Additionally, Rob's been giving previews of the game each week on his blog and implore everyone to get a sneak peak at what the new game is shaping into.

As much as I enjoy DnD 5th Edition, the previews of Shadow of the Demon Lord showcase a game engine that's highly functional, yet stays out of the way when not needed.  I can't wait.

My Appendix N

Trey over at From the Sorcerer's Skull posted his Appendix N yesterday and I decided to follow suit.

I didn't start reading fantasy novels until after I started gaming, so it was in college and I was probably 18 or 19.  My roots lean more to other other media.

This list is in roughly chronological order:

Herculoids introduced me to Science Fantasy, my favorite sub-genre to this day.

Clash of the Titans made me love mythology and learn the legends of the Greeks and Romans.  Sadly, the film never lived up to my expectations...until the remake.

Thundarr the Barbarian was an awesome combination of Star Wars and Post-Apocalyptic action, its still my favorite cartoon of all time.

Masters of the Universe toys and cartoons are still a huge part of my life and they established my deep love for Science Fantasy and shaped my basic preferences going forward for high octane fantasy.

Arak, Son of Thunder from DC Comics was the first fantasy comic I ever read and I still dig it.  I used to try to convince my 11 year old self that maybe he was Thundarr's son.

Conan the Barbarian comics from Marvel (Roy Thomas and John Buscema) introduced me to grittier fantasy and swords and sorcery.

The Belgariad by David Eddings was a gift from a member of my gaming
group our first Christmas together.  I was a bit sad that he got my best friend some Forgotten Realms novels.  But then I read the series and really, really adored it.  It shaped my opinions of magic and fueled my hatred for DnD's "Vancian" magic for years.

Robert E. Howard's work really fueled my love for dark fantasy and fantastic horror.  It permeates my game mastering to this day.

Robert Lee Byers's Thayan Trilogy of Undead, Unclean and Unholy for the Forgotten Realms are among my top DnD novels and I am a huge fan of the man's work.

Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind is in the top 3 of my favorite novels of all time.  Its an amazing work, but I read it believing his trilogy was completed and now, I refuse to finish until that day comes.  I'm not going to get "George R.R. Martined".

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Primeval Thule: Starlore Adept for D&D 5th Edition

Backgrounds here are bases on the Narratives in Primeval Thule, so they will gain abilities as a character levels.  They are only intended for use in the Primeval Thule setting and are not designed to be mixed with standard Backgrounds.

Also, some of the abilities require the expenditure of a resource, for this reason and for how dangerous the setting is, each character gains the Lucky Feat for free and may take the Lucky Feat one additional time.

Star-lore Adept

Areas of Proficiency (1st level): You are proficient in Arcana.

Langauges (1st level): Choose one from Benthic, Draconic, or Mi-Go.

Tools (1st level): Magical Devices.

Potent Lore (Level 1):  You can spend a Luck point as a free action on your turn to increase the caster level of the next arcane spell you cast by +4. By calling upon the arcane secrets of alien races, star-lore adepts can create unex- pectedly powerful magical effects.

Mystic Signs (6th level): Through mystic gestures and motions, you can identify yourself as an initiate in unearthly lore to creatures that are otherwise hostile to humans and their ilk. You have advantage on any Charisma checks or savings throw when dealing with any extraterrene or extraplanar creatures.
Optionally this is a feat and can only be taken if you have this background and are at least 4th level.

The Stars Are Right (10th level): Once during each character level at 10th level and above, you can call upon powerful alien entities to perform services for you. This functions as the extraterrene calling spell, except that you can use the spell even if you are not normally able to cast it. You need not provide the ally with any payment, since it has little interest in terrestrial possessions.
Optionally this is a feat and can only be taken if you have this background and are at least 8th level.

Extraterrene Calling4th-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 50 feet.
Components: V, S, M (offerings worth at least 500 gp) 
Duration: Instantaneous

By casting this spell, you call out to your patron Great Old One to send you an extraterrene creature of 6 Hit Dice or less. You may ask the creature to perform one task in exchange for a payment from you. Tasks might range from the simple tothe complex. You are able to communicate with the crea- ture called for the purposes of establishing this bargain.

On behalf of the Great Old One it serves, the creature called requires a payment for its services. The payment depends on the nature of the Great Old One, and may involve valuable gifts, living sacrifice, or some other action or service that you provide that aligns with the entity’s goals and can be completed within an agreed upon timeframe. The bargaining takes at least 1 round, so any actions by the creature begin in the round after it arrives.

At the end of its task, or when the duration bargained for expires, the creature returns from whence it came.

When you use a calling spell that calls an air, chaotic, earth, evil, fire, good, lawful, or water creature, it is a spell of that type.

Special: Your patron deity must be a Great Old One.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, you may call a single extraterrene creature of 12 Hit Dice or less, or two creatures of the same kind whose Hit Dice total no more than 12, but they require an offering worth 1250 gp.  When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 8th level or higher, you may call a single extraterrene creature of 18 Hit Dice or less, or up to three creatures of the same kind whose Hit Dice total no more than 18, but they require an offering worth 2500 gp.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jarlsburg: Earthquakes and Lightnin'

We made characters for the next chapter of Jarlsburg monday night.  I have a Goblin Rogue, a Warforged Fighter, a second Warforged Fighter and a Tiefling Wizard.  Well not really, because I'm not running DnD, but since I'm playtesting a rules set, I'll keep the specifics quiet.

The set up will have to do with the prophecies of an insane young woman, named Mina Blake.

High Inquisitor Lot has seen enough of her ravings proving true in the past few weeks, that he takes heed of her predictions showing the destruction of a local landmark and assembles the team she's named in her vision.

While he will try to stop the vision, he will call together the people she shows him drawings penned in her own blood.

The people in her terrible drawings are, of course, the players.

It will lead them into a confrontation with the owner's of the property destroyed, the Caliban Club (think the hell-fire clubs of 19th century).

It will start with a dark and stormy night and only get worse from there...

Daughters & Dragons: Greti for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Editon.

My 10 year old daughter ran the Lost Mines of Phandelver for my son, his friend and sunday afternoon.  She quickly adjusted the plot and locale and had us tracking a Hobble Gobble, one of several monsters she made up on the spot.  Here is her second monster.

Large humanoid, unaligned                                         

Armor Class 13 (Natural Armor)

Hit Points 17(2d10+3) 
Speed 35 ft.

   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
19 (+4)     11 (+0)     16 (+3)      8 (-1)     13 (+1)     6 (-2)

Skills Athletics +6, Stealth +2
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages -
Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)

Melee Attack—Maul +6 to hit (reach 10 ft.; one creature). 
Hit: 1d6+3 slashing damage.

Ranged Attack—Stink Cloud (Recharge 6) Every creature in a 30 ft. radius must make a DC 11 Constitution check or have disadvantage on all attack rolls until the end of their next turn.

The Greti or Grizzly Yeti is the angrier, more ferocious cousin to the Yeti and is the apex predator of the woods surrounding Phandelver.

Thundarr the Movie

As a life-long comics fan and a retailer with a quarter century of experience, I was today years old when I discovered that Buzz Dixon and ...