We’re back again after a pretty long holiday break with some more of the Tower of the Gods campaign. Things are starting to become a little bit clearer for the players as to what is going on. Though they still seem to be fixated on …
Back into Dungeons and Dragons settings with Dragonlance. This one is probably best known for the D&D books that came out around it, though it is one of the oldest settings for D&D. Dragonlance falls into that more classic fantasy flavor, which makes sense for …
So, I had thought of splitting it into two parts, one for the players and for the DM/GM. But that felt a little bit silly, and I want to encourage more players to become DM/GM’s, so if you have a player in your life who you think might be good or interested, these will be good ideas for them. But it’ll also have a lot of ideas for players as well.
Dice Set – Now, I am going to primarily suggest that you get the normal 7 dice set which has a D20, D12, D10, D10 Percentile, D8, D6, and D4. These are the most common, and for games like D&D and Pathfinder. If you play other systems, you need to look at what dice those games use. The Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG and Genesys use specific dice that you can use normal dice for, but having a couple of sets of those dice make the game easier for everyone as well.
Dice Tray/Dice Tower – These are not something that you need for playing an RPG, but they can be useful. Both of them are basically something that can add for rolling dice. It’s nice if you have a wood table or something like that to use a dice tray as they are often padded so it makes rolling dice less noisy. It also keeps an enthusiastic roller from rolling them off of the table. A dice tower doesn’t make it any quieter, but it does the rolling for you. And it’s kind of fun to hear or see it bonk down the dice tower until it’s rolled.
The Core D&D Books – This is for someone who is getting into RPG’s and wants to run a game, the core D&D books are going to be great for getting them up and running. You get the Players Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide. That’s enough to run as many games of D&D as you want. It’s possible that they already have some of them, but you can buy them separately or as a bundle. If they don’t have them, the bundles sometimes have cool covers. I wouldn’t spring this on someone who hasn’t expressed any interest in DM’ing though, because they might feel like you’re pressuring them into DM’ing.
Adventure Modules – Now, it might be that you have someone who likes D&D plays, as a player, fairly often, but is intimidated by running their own game from scratch. This is where you can use the adventure modules. The starter kit would be a great one to get them, but there are a lot of other adventures. Curse of Strahd is generally the best received one, and while I didn’t have the best time running it, I think that it is put together well and that my issue was more the group than it was the module itself. But you have a ton to choose from, so if you want dragons, you can get that, demons you can get that, or giants, that’s out there as well. This is where I’d encourage someone who likes D&D a lot to maybe thing about DM’ing by giving them an adventure module.
DM Screen – This one is definitely for the person who is the DM in you game, otherwise there’s no real need for it, but if they have a makeshift DM screen, get them an official one or a cool one off of Etsy. The basic one from Dungeons and Dragons/Wizards of the Coast is fine, and I have it and I like it, but there are some custom CNC cut wood ones that are amazing out there and if you want to bling out your game, a custom DM screen, some with built in dice towers, but those tend to be a bunch spendier.
Adventure Zone Comic Books – What, this isn’t an RPG, no, but it’s RPG related, and with all the RPG podcast information out there, and all the people who are doing them, even me for a while. But this takes one of the actual play podcasts that is extremely popular and turns it into a comic. Definitely good for someone who likes the podcast and got into D&D because of the podcast, or just loves the podcast. I’ve looked a little bit at the books, but the artwork is nice, and definitely looks like a fun time.
Legacy of Dragonholt – This is often put into an area between choose your own adventure and RPG and board game, but I think that it’d scratch the itch for people who like the ideas of RPG’s but aren’t ready to make the leap. The character creation is simple, the role playing piece is low in it, but it’s story driven, and you have a character that can do things. It works simply on you either being able to do something or not. It is also a game that can be played solo, so if there is someone in your life who doesn’t have a group or who can’t play as often as they would want, this would be a solid option as well, though, a serious min/maxing player will find this way to light.
There’s so much more out there. There are a lot of indie RPG’s that people can check out as well that give you more specific settings than fantasy. And I talked only about the basic Dungeons and Dragons books and adventures, but there are other books that add in more monsters, more character options and many other things. Overall, there is a ton out there for RPG’s right now, and it’s a hobby that is growing still, which is cool. If you have someone who you think might like an RPG, you can also just give the gift of running a game for them, maybe you have a relative who they are their friends want to try and RPG, but none of them want to run it, you can give the gift of running a few sessions.
What would you want for your pen and paper RPG collection? Is there something on the list that looks really cool?
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So, as I prep for my Star Wars game (aka daydream about it), I was thinking about monsters and how to create a good cohesive campaign with fun cool monsters that make sense. The Monster Manual from Wizards of the Coast and now Volo’s Guide to Monsters provide so many amazing monsters. Sure, there are the normal ones that you want to play with because they are classic like Goblins, Orcs, Trolls, Giants and, of course, Dragons. But there are so many other interesting monsters out there. There are some really cool devils and demons in the books, there are owlbears, bugbears, and bear bears.
So, how do you pick what you want to use in a way that doesn’t make it seem like you’re just picking from the book at random or what looks like it’s the coolest?
One helpful tool is that in the Dungeon Master’s Guide they have different monsters and creatures split out by habitat, so you can go ahead and pick out what works for the area that you are in. If you are in the jungle, you’re probably not going to see a frost giant, if you are in a freezing cold mountain and there’s a dragon, it’s probably a white dragon. That’s one way to help keep things focused in, but what if you really want to pick crazy monsters from the book?
My suggestion there would be, instead of having an obvious story reaching over everything, be a group of big game hunters who are paid to go around and find these wild and exotic creatures. You could need to bring them back alive, or maybe someone really want to have the horns of a minitaur, the shell of a flail snail and the beak of a owlbear for their collection. It would be an interesting game to play, and if you have a group where sometimes people miss, it would be easy because you don’t need everyone there to play, you just need enough people to kill the beast (hopefully) and birng it back.
But what if you’re already in a game and you’ve bounced around the world and you have a big story going, but you want to bring in something that wouldn’t make sense?
You have a few options, maybe you have the creature get loose form a cargo ship or a zoo. You can try and fit the monster into your story some way, there are a ton of different options. For example, in Dungeons and Flagons, the group has faced off against human pirates, Yuan-Ti, goblins, hobgoblins, a red dragon, elementals, devils and/or demons, and are now facing off against a beholder. They’ve been hopping somewhat all over the globe, but each of the monsters had their part to play, including the hobgoblins who were mainly there to be a distraction.
Finally, what do you do but the monster is too powerful or too weak?
Goblins are puny, if any of the characters in Dungeons and Flagons were to attack a goblin, it would either be killed a single sho or they would use their second attack on a turn ot kill it. How do you make your goblins scarier? You bring them in large numbers. When each player has four goblins attacking them, that is scary, even if they can dispatch one per turn, they’ll still get attacked a minimum of six times. Or maybe you don’t think that would be that much fun, well, maybe you have the goblins be a scouting party and signal another group of goblins who are a distance away, after the adventuring party has finished off that first group and is starting to think about looting the goblins bodies, you bring in that second group.
But sometimes you really want them to face off against that one really strong boss, and that boss is supposed to be a goblin, but the toughest goblin in the book isn’t tough enough. My first option would be to have other goblins with him, but sometimes that doens’t work or that isn’t what makes sense for your story. The second option would be to find a creature that makes more sense to face off against the characters (aka. is stronger) and call it a goblin. They have, in the back of both monster books NPC stat blocks for different types of people. There is a necromancer back there, it doesn’t say that it’s a goblin necromancer, but you’re in charge of your game, so you get to decide. Grab that harder bad guy and pu them in front of the players. Then instead of describing your necromancer as a pale human with a guant face who is wearing dark robes, describe it as a goblin who has a staff and who has raised the zombie horde that you saw in the courtyard. He has dark tattoos of demonic symbols across his body, roll initiative. And there you have two characters who would be the same stat block, have the same skills, and might even have the same evil plan, but ones a goblin.
That’s an easy conversion, but sometimes conversions make less sense. You want a really strong brawler to come up and challenge your group of adventurers and take a swing at them in a bar but you don’t like any of the options in the back of the book. Well, depending on what level they are, look at an owlbear or bugbear or some other creature. Sure an Owlbear is a bear body with an owl head and has a bite attack, but just don’t use the bite attack, use the claw attack and call it punches. Simply by reflavoring the attacks and calling them something different, you can take on creature and make it into another.