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Ok, so the word should be out by now. WotC revealed they are hard at work designing the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons. If you missed this announcement you can check it out here. When I first read the news, I was curious and intrigued. I had been following the Legends & Lore columns of both Mike Mearls and newly re-hired Monte Cook for the last few months. I very much enjoyed their ruminations on past editions of the game, what we learned from them, and how they might impact modern design goals. The comments frequently devolved into a hot mess of hate-on-hate action but were frequently peppered with thought provoking responses. It was a heady time and a fun place to be as we all collectively speculated if these seemingly innocuous conversations had some higher purpose. It turns out they did. Hit the jump to find out how. Continue Reading »

Troll Lord Games, the publisher of The Castles & Crusades Roleplaying Game are always working on new products. Anything in the process and not yet completed is considered to be “on the anvil“. Well, one of the biggest projects on the anvil this year has been Classic Monsters: The Manual. It’s a new monster book for C&C that is pulling in many of the most classic monsters from the 1E Monster Manual and Fiend Folio. It will feature more than 100 monsters statted for C&C (which is compatible with 1E AD&D) with new flavor text, ecology information and beautiful artwork by Peter Bradley. They’ve recently revealed they’ll be publishing it via kickstarter. They’re soliciting buy-in for the next 30 days and if they hit their target, all participants will get some pretty sweet loot. Head on over and take a look. If you’re a fan of the game, this is a great opportunity to get what looks to be a solid product as well as helping it move along through the process.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-classic-monster-a-monster-man/widget/card.html

I may have mentioned before that I’m slowly but surely trying to coax my current 4E group to give Castles & Crusades a try. We’re currently very happy with 4E but we all agree it’s a good idea to intersperse other experiences just to make sure neither the game, nor the group starts to feel stale.  For my money, C&C is the perfect option. The rules-lite system and streamlined game mechanics line up nicely with the goal of getting a good experience in just a single night of gaming or over the course of a short “vacation” campaign.  Since there’s not a lot of rules overhead and because what rules ARE there are based on previous editions of the game, familiarity should come pretty easily. I’m confident that a good session could be had right out of the gate.

To this end, I’ve started some pre-prep for when that happens. I’ve started boning up on my C&C rules and resolution. I’ve been familiarizing myself with the old-school stat blocks and spell mechanics. It’s been a real blast. Recently my preprep has included the search for some published material to run. Since this won’t likely be a long term campaign, I’ve decided not to customize too much, or put a large amount of design time into the game. The first adventure I’ve had the opportunity to take a look at is Shadows of The Halfling Hall by Mike Stewart. I chose this adventure for two reasons. First is that I’ve seen it in many places, including Amazon, Ebay and the Troll Lords site. It seems to be a successful module for entry level play. Second is that I listen to a podcast called SaveOrDie and Mike Stewart is one of the hosts whom I very much enjoy listening to. The podcast is dedicated to Old School D&D boxed sets, specifically, the Holmes set, Moldvay and Mentzer. Mike appears to be a guy who knows his stuff. Keep reading for my review of this very old-school C&C adventure. Continue Reading »

So this months RPG Blog carnival centers on something near and dear to every intrepid adventurer. The Loot.  You know something is important, something has reached that apex of necessity and desire when it starts to have 733t (1337?) spellings. In this case, we could be talking about loot, or perhaps da-lOOts or even phat l3wts.  In any case, it represents the same thing, those delicious little treats that are peppered throughout adventures. In some cases, they occupy a dragons hoard, or perhaps the crypt of a buried king. They may even be the subject of myth and legend.  However, the point of this blog carnival is to discuss when those trophies of adventure take that extra step beyond the predictable, beyond a simple object of desire and become a part of the plot. Continue Reading »

I suppose, based on the name of this blog, that it was only a matter of time before John Flanagan’s popular franchise of young-adult fantasy novels came to my attention. The series is called Ranger’s Apprentice and chronicles what I like to call, “The Birth of a Ranger”. The first entry is titled The Ruins of Gorlan. It introduces us to the protagonist, Will, the eponymous apprentice of established Ranger of the realm, Halt. Halt takes Will in as his apprentice but only after Will is basically refused as an apprentice by all the other stewards. Will is a ward of the barony, a child without a parent and the book starts off shortly before “The Choosing”, the day in each wards life where they both choose a profession and are likewise chosen as a student by a craftmaster.  In Will’s case, he wants desperately to be a Knight.  Knowing little of his father other than that he died a hero, Will imagines his father must have been a valiant Knight and looks to follow in his footsteps. The Ruins of Gorlan is 300 pages of Will learning that his childhood fantasy is far from the truth. Continue Reading »

Over on Dungeons Master, Wimwick has a now-complete two part article on The Future of D&D. He starts out by rating core elements of 4E D&D as being a success or failure. Unlike some of the people in his comment section, he does so without the drama of hating on Essentials or comparing the game to an MMO. After reading his articles it got me to thinking. How do I think the current direction of 4E will influence the development of 5E as well as what would I want to see in a new ruleset. Or conversely, what would I want them to change and/or learn from what they’ve done in 4E?  Having had a lot of fun with every edition of D&D I’ve tried, this is no easy question to answer. However, I have a few ideas that would make D&D even better for me and my table. Hopefully, I can discuss these ideas without breaking the game for anyone else. Let’s give it a shot, shall we? Continue Reading »

The Verdant Passage

This summer I decided I would try to go back and read some of those novels that looked so interesting when I was younger, but that I never had the opportunity to buy or read. These are novels that are either direct tie-ins to the D&D world, or are heavily influenced by it.  I remember seeing them on bookstore shelves, often positioned next to D&D source books and wondering if they were as good as the game I was playing. However, with limited funds at the time (most of my early D&D books were purchased with paper route money), I had to choose between game books, Dragon Magazine and D&D novels. Generally, it was the novels that got passed by. Now that I’m older and have a bit more disposable income, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to go back and find those books that called to me but that went unanswered.  The first book in this little summer series was The Verdant Passage by Troy Denning. Continue Reading »

So I was trolling the WotC product catalog and I noticed a book that was absent has made a return to the release schedule. It’s Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium. It’s billed as “A wondrous collection of magical treasures for any campaign.” and shows a release date of September 20, 2011. It was originally scheduled for release in April of this year but was pulled off the schedule sometime in January.  Word on the WotC boards and some podcasts was that the content would still be released, but likely digitally. They had said that they were not sure of the best way to release the content. I was one of the many gamers who were disappointed with this change. I had read that this was going to be similar in concept to the earlier Adventurer Vault books but with a greater focus on flavor and story. This is exactly what I had hoped the Adventurers Vault books would have been rather than simple compendiums of magical items. Don’t get me wrong, I love the AV books, but they could definitely be improved with the inclusion of more story elements. WotC has been doing a good job lately in that respect. Products like the Monster Vaults, Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Heroes of Shadow have done a lot to move the ball downfield with regard to infusing greater amounts of story into the content. I look forward to getting my hands on the newest feast of magical items come September. Continue Reading »

I was recently involved in an online conversation. A player relatively new to 4E was asking a group of more experienced gamers, myself included, about a situation he encountered and how we would have adjudicated it.  I gave my answer and was surprised at some of the answers that came back. I’d like to throw this out there and see what others think and why?

So here’s the pertinent info for the scenario:

The player in question was a Psion. He was outside a window of a small dwelling. An enemy combatant was inside the building and adjacent to the barred window. The Psion opted to use his Kinetic Trawl (Augment 2) power as he had line of sight and arguably line of effect to the enemy he could see through the window.  DDi Compendium explains Kinetic Trawl thusly:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Psion made it clear his goal was to do damage to the enemy while trying to pull him, smashing him into the bars of the window, possibly doing more damage.  The Psion successfully scored a hit and normal damage was dealt for the attack. But how, as a DM would you rule on the forced movement?   Please answer below and explain in the comments.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about The Nentir Vale. As I’ve mentioned, the main campaign I’m running takes place there and my group has really enjoyed fleshing out the details of the setting, both by using published materials and through the collaborative process. In many cases, the former is what has informed our use of maps.  There are lots of fun maps out there that are designed to be used in the base D&D world.  The latest of which is a tileset produced by WotC called Dungeon Tiles: The Witchlight Fens.  If you’ve been following WotC products releases as all, you’ll likely know the last year has been spent releasing The Essentials line of products. Included in this “evergreen” product line were a series of Dungeon Tile Master Sets. They covered, The Dungeon, The City and The Wilderness.  The Dungeon was a solid product, hitting the sweet spot between generic usability and inclusion of added details. The City was a bit weaker in design, burning too much tilespace on completely barren indoor buildings and not enough tiles for city streets (the box tops were building roofs), alleys, markets and other urban areas. The Wilderness was an outlier in that it really did exactly what it needed to do while staying focused on the most typical outdoor and woodland settings found in The Nentir Vale.  While these 3 tilesets do mostly what they set out to do: give a DM the ability to quickly map out the most common settings, they simply can’t do justice to all the little niches that are built into The Nentir Vale setting. Things like The Cairngorm Peaks, The Gray Downs and The Witchlight Fens are nigh unmappable with The Essentials tilesets. Yet, these areas represent some of the most interesting locations in the setting.  With the release of the latest tileset for The Witchlight Fens however, it appears WotC is looking to remedy this glaring omission.

Continue Reading »