Tag: rpg

Coming to Kickstarter Vol 1: Frostpunk and 7th Citadel

Coming to Kickstarter Vol 1: Frostpunk and 7th Citadel

So I’ve decided as well as doing my Back or Brick and the Waiting on Kickstarter series, “Coming to Kickstarter” where I look at the announced games that are coming and talk about what is or isn’t interesting about them, and kind of why I 

Gencon 2020 – Fantasy Flight In-Flight Report

Gencon 2020 – Fantasy Flight In-Flight Report

So, I’m going to do what I did with Frosthaven when that was announced and talked about on videos, I’m doing a video breakdown. This Fantasy Flight In-Flight report is normally a big deal, kind of a kick-off for Gencon to find out what Fantasy 

Monsteropedia – Behir

Monsteropedia – Behir

Now, this monster is a bit different than the other ones that I’ve talked about. This one is just a monster not with abysmal intelligence but with fairly low INT at 7 (-2 modifier), so it isn’t going to be your plotting or planning sort of monster. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s dumb, the wisdom is actually fairly high. So let’s look at what this monster does.

A Behir is a monster that lives in the underdark and is a huge creature that lives in the tunnels, paths, and dark recesses down there. The advantage for the DM of it being a huge creature is what it has some fun abilities. It can swallow your medium sized PC’s no problem or wrap it up and constrict it. So it’s something different than your normal bite and claw attacks that you get. In fact, while it can certainly bite you, and needs to do so to swallow you, it doesn’t have a claw attack at all. Instead, it gets lightning breath which is something that the PC’s will undoubtedly appreciate.

Now, this creature is clearly not one to be trifled with, at a CR of 11, you are looking at a party of four at eighth level to be able to take it down in a hard combat. If you’re adding in any additional monsters, it is going to be even tougher to take down and you’re probably looking at a party of level 10 or so with a couple of additional opponents that aren’t just one hit cannon fodder.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

In game, I think there are some good ways to use it and I would definitely recommend using it. Because it’s attacks are so different and it has a lot of HP and a decently high armor class, it’s going to be a challenging battle. The attacks are really going to add variety to your game with what otherwise might just be a standard hack and slash encounter. You can certainly use a behir as a random encounter, but I have some other ideas as well.

One idea that I like is to use it as a form of drow transport. It’s a huge sized creature so why not let it pull something. Going back to something I did in a game of mine, have it be a drow circus that the wagons are being pulled by a bunch of behir. This could really start off as a social encounter where the player characters interact with the drow in the circus and eventually find themselves are participants on it to find out that the main attraction is going to be them taking on a behir with some drow elite warriors or assassins not really partaking in the battle, but forcing the player characters back into the confrontation with the behir if they try and run. All while there is a cheering audience around them. As a side quest, I think it could be really cool, even just as something that the players find themselves in for no great reason other than their curiosity, it would give a nice standalone session of and something to do on the way to a larger quest point. I could see using the circus caravan as a way to move the players more quickly through an area to get to where they need to go, but also to have, then the circus battle happen, so not really plot related, but cuts out some of the down time with something more interesting.

Less of a combat encounter, but more of a how do we get away from this, have your players stumble across a pack of behir. Maybe, the players have been tracking down a group of duergar who have something that the players want, some information, ideally written down, and the poor duergar have stumbled across this pack of five behir. Even at level 20, 5 behir are deadly to a party of four, theoretically. So the question then becomes, for the players, how do the player characters get into the area where the dead duergar’s packs are, search the packs, and get back out without the behir killing them as well. Can they figure out a way to chase the behir away, or maybe they can somehow stealth in, or maybe it’s an attempt to out pace, unlikely, or outwit the behir. It could even be a way for them to lure a behir or two at a time and take them out, but give them the situation and see what they come up with. Though, I’d maybe have them run across a behir before hand so that they know what they are getting into.

Are behir a monster you’ve used in your games or seen used in a game? I know that Matt Mercer in Critical Role used a behir in either episode 27 or 28, sounds like introduced in 27 anyways. So that’s something to checkout for ways to use a behir as well. Would you use a behir in your game?

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Dungeons and Dragons: ASI vs Feats

Dungeons and Dragons: ASI vs Feats

In Dungeons and Dragons, you have your character stats, that’ll be things like Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and more. When you start the game you get them locked in and compared to getting +1 armor or a +1 sword in the game, you have limited opportunities 

Back or Brick – The Shivers

Back or Brick – The Shivers

Is this pop-up style board game takes you on an RPG like mystery as you try and investigate, interact with objects and solve what is happening. Pros Mystery adventure game Pop-up book style rooms Artwork Developers project management experience Price RPG Lite Cons Replayability New 

Making Magic Items More Interesting

Making Magic Items More Interesting

In D&D, and other RPG’s, fairly often a special item is just something like a +1 sword, yay, you can hit better and do more damage, but not all that exciting. Every adventurer worth their salt has a +1 sword. The same for a ring of walking on water, okay, that one is cooler. But a lot of the times what players want, because of their practicality is the +1 weapon and the +1 armor. Those a great and fine for mechanically in the game, but not that interesting, and a +1 sword gets tossed aside when the +2 sword comes along.

So what can you do to make magic items still be useful but more interesting? There are several different ways you can do that, and it ties some into my Friday Night D&D that was also posted today, but you can name the weapon, make it sentient, make it cursed, give it unique properties, or let it evolve.

Named

The point of naming a weapon is that a +1 long sword isn’t that exciting, but Gregor Falhelm’s Long Sword or The Shadow Blade, those are interesting. Who is Gregor Falhelm and why is this sword known as that? That’s something the players can checkout. The Shadow Blade clearly has a lot of history with it as well. Now, they’ll still probably toss it aside when a +2 sword comes along, but in the mean time, you can have a quest for them to track down the history of the sword. Maybe Gregor Falhelm was a famed adventurer who was known for something and now the player will try and live up to it. Or The Shadow Blade is a weapon from a famed assassin that had belonged to a thieve’s guild years ago but had gone missing, and now that you have it and people have seen it, the thieve’s guild wants it back. The names can generate more story for you to play with and make it more memorable than just a +1 long sword.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Sentient

Another thing you can do is give the weapon a personality. Allow it to communicate telepathically with it’s wielder. Maybe Gregor Falhelm died defending an orphanage and because of that his soul was attached to the blade and he can tell them about years ago or give advice when needed. Or The Shadow Blade because of all of the assassinations it has helped with and all the blood on it, maybe it has a dark personality that urges that player to kill. Again, only a +1 sword, no extra abilities, but now you have something more for the player to interact with. How do they deal with a sword that is constantly urging them to kill? Gregor Falhelm is interesting to listen to, but very long winded, what does the player think of that. Give it a unique personality so that the players get a memorable experience with that weapon and it’ll be more than just a +1 long sword to them.

Cursed

Cursing a weapon is always a fun surprise to pull to make it memorable as well. With a curse, make it something that is annoying but not game breaking. Maybe The Shadow Blade thirsts for blood and will cut the wearer if they don’t get blood on it otherwise. Maybe if they get too far away from it the cursed soul of Gregor Falhelm, because he couldn’t save the orphans and now it’s just a constant weeping that only the player can hear from the sadness and they have disadvantage to hit because Falhelm doesn’t want to kill anymore. There are a lot of negative things you could add to a magic item to make it more interesting. A wand of fireballs, but you don’t know where they’ll go. A ring of water walking that walks your feet along the surface of the water, but from the bottom side. Be creative with the negative affects because again, we’re trying to make things more memorable.

Unique Properties

Unique properties is one that is fairly tame, kind of like naming the weapon. Just give it something small or as big that it can do as well. +1 sword, well there’s a magical word to make it glow. Now you don’t need more torches, but the sword is more interesting. Or the word for the glowing sword is common so it’s possible that it could be triggered at the wrong time by anyone saying the wrong thing. One idea I had was a sword of reincarnation. If you died by that sword, within 7 days your soul would find a new body to go into, so you really aren’t dead, but you’re probably pissed that someone tried to kill you. That makes for a great story. It could just be that the +1 sword of Gregor Falhelm glows blue whenever an orphan is near. Or The Shadow Blade adds a mark for each person it’s killed on the blade and if it ever gets full something will happen.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Evolving

Finally, make it evolve. Take what you’ve learned from above and make it get better along with the player. Now The Shadow Blade, which was just a +1 sword will start to grant a bonus for stealth the more the person kills with it, or when the player character hits level twelve, not only do they get a +2 to attack and damage now it gives a +2 to stealth and deception. Gregor Falhelm’s sword glows in the presence of orphans but the player can unlock what is basically the ability the detect evil with the sword once per long rest or once per short rest. The example I gave in the Friday Night D&D was to make Mjolnir. Don’t start off with this amazing hammer that the person can use to fly with and call lighting with, but start out with just a simple +1 hammer, eventually it does an extra 1d4 of lightning damage. Then the player can once per long rest do 3d10 lightning damage on an attack. Eventually at a higher level, at the start of combat the player can cast call lightning and either use it as a one off level 9 call lightning or it can deal and extra 3d10 on every successful attack. Mjolnir, then, which might have started out as at level one as just a regular war hammer could be for the final epic battle a hammer that grants the user flight (though technically it’s just throwing it and forgetting to let go), throwing it and it returning, +3 to hit, +3 to damage, call lightning at level 9 for a one time affect or call lightning at level 3 for an additional 3d10 lightning damage on every attack. You have the weapon evolve with the player and they don’t forget their their awesome weapon.

So there are a lot of interesting things you can do to make it more than just a +1 long sword or a +1 shield, or even a ring of water walking. You can create something unique and create unique situations for them to use it in. It’s silly for Gregor Falhelm’s sword to glow around orphans, but useful if an orphan is lost in a labyrinth and it glows brighter the closer to the orphan you are. So if you create something odd like that, use it in the story. That’s the other and really the biggest thing, none of these things will make the magical item stand out unless you use it in the story. The item being part of the story and important to the world is going to make it more memorable than anything else, so maybe The Shadow Blade is just a regular long sword with a +1, but if the thieve’s guild is coming after the players, it’s interesting.

What are some memorable magical items or moments with magical items in D&D or other RPG’s that you’ve had in a game? Do you use magic items a lot?

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Friday Night D&D – Rebirth

Friday Night D&D – Rebirth

The old gods have fallen and new ones have risen up in there place. But the lands are not any better, that is the world your players find themselves in. Everything is dirty, everything is grim, the new gods care only about themselves and their 

Board Game Battles: Roll Player vs Sagrada

Board Game Battles: Roll Player vs Sagrada

Now, I know what people are going to say, these games aren’t the same, but there are some similarities to them that I want to look at, and I think for a number of people they might scratch the same itch with the dice placement. 

My First D&D Character

My First D&D Character

Now, this isn’t actually my first D&D character, I’m still waiting for a chance to roll up one, forever a DM. But I want to talk about some things to think about when creating your first D&D character and how you’re going to want to roll them up. This is going to be pretty general, I’m not going to tell you what gear to pick, what class is the easiest, anything like that. Instead, I want to give you some bigger picture things to think about when you create your first D&D character.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

What Archetype Of Character Do I Want To Be

This is pretty big, but we’re talking about a pretty big generality here, do you want to be a sneaky character, or maybe a helpful one, maybe you want to be able to rush into battle or sling spells from afar. Think about the broad terms that you can play. Bring this general idea to the table for your character creation as it’ll give you something to build off of and help you make more informed choices. Another way to do this is to think about your favorite people, normally in fiction, but could be from the real world, and think about what makes them them. If you love Yoda, what is essential Yoda, we have the age, the wisdom and the force powers, but when he was younger, slightly, also could be a nimble fighter. So look for those characters or people you really love and think about what would make them an interesting D&D character.

This Is a Chance to Play Pretend But Start Similar To Yourself

Now, I just got done saying, pick your archetype and pick whatever sounds like fun, but infuse it with your personality. Playing a role playing game is great because you get to take on other personalities and dive into a life and a world that isn’t you, but for your first character, unless you’ve done a lot of acting, it’s going to generally be you. Even if you don’t want it to be, unless your a seasoned actor or improv performer, you’re going to drop back into playing yourself or making decisions based off of what you’d actually do. So instead of pulling away from that and being frustrated when it does happen or feeling like you aren’t on the level of Critical Role, instead make your first character like you, but with a few twists on it. Give yourself a few fun things that you can interact with that are different than yourself, but keep general personality pretty close to your own, because most of the time it’ll end up there for your early player characters.

Constitution Is Your Friend

I don’t care that you want to be this wispy elf wizard who is gaunt and stares off into the distance while vowing to never eat again, constitution is your friend. It’s easy to think that it mainly matters for fighters or barbarians or anyone on the front line, and that stat is very important to them, but a -1 on constitution for a wizard who has D6 for their hit die, that means you start off with 5 health. There are a lot of monsters that can kill you at that point. At worst have a 0 in constitution, but most classes and characters, I really think having a +1 one is huge, even if your just taking the average of your hit die, that +1 is really important, and if you’re rolling for your hit points each level, that keeps you from ever doing too poorly.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Backgrounds Can Evolve

With the background you are picking some personality traits, ideals, flaws, and bonds. For your first character I’m telling you to keep a broader picture of who they are going to be, and the background can feel like it’s locking you in. Talk with your DM, and they should know this already, but backgrounds and personality are fairly fluid in the first few sessions. You might have wanted this charismatic Barbarian, but instead they are kind of a dick to everyone. Or maybe you want them to be the face, but instead they use their charisma as a quiet confidence and less of the face. Less the background will be changing, but the personality traits, flaws, bonds, and ideals might change and evolve as you go. Totally expect this to happen, especially if you are going with a bigger departure from your own personality.

Finally, Being Bad at Something Isn’t Bad, It’s Good

When playing an imaginary character there’s a strong desire to be good at everything, because who doesn’t want to be awesome at everything all the time? But that’s not going to be the most fun character. It might be pretty fun for you, but it won’t be fun for the other people at the table if you’re better at the things they’re supposed to be good at. But beyond that, you’re playing a character who is supposed to grow and evolve throughout the game. And, you are also going to be put in more fun and interesting situations if you aren’t good at everything. Maybe you’re the fighter, why should you be good at sneaking around, you’re just ready to bash stuff with a sword, so when you fail to sneak all the time, that’s something you can play into. Your deficiencies on the character sheet are not weaknesses but role playing opportunities for you to create a fun and memorable character.

Now, there’s a whole lot more I could talk about when building your first character, and I’ll probably go more into the details of it in future articles, but these are some big picture items to consider when building your first character that might be overlooked. What general advice have you given new players, if you’ve played a bunch before, for their first character? What piece of advice stands out to you from this article?

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Back or Brick – Roll Player Adventure

Back or Brick – Roll Player Adventure

Take your heroes on an adventure in this story driven follow-up to the popular game Roll Player. Pros Successful Kickstarter Company Based off of a good game Great demo at GenCon 2019 Campaign/Story driven game Solo play Cons Dice Luckiness Thoughts On The Page Great