Archive for AD&D

3 Games of Chance for Your Fantasy RPG

Posted in D&D 3.5, D&D 4e Content, Pathfinder, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by boccobsblog

Gambling is a reoccuring theme in fantasy novels, games, and films. I guess since they have no TVs or Xboxs all Orcs have to do when they have down time from their pilaging is to throw dice and play cards. Today I wanted to show a few games that could be used in-game to add realism and depth to your campaign’s tavern experience.

For brevities sake I will not be going into rules or mechanics of each game, but I will provide links to their site so you can find more information.

Three Dragon Ante

This is supposed to be the premiere card game in the D&D multiverse. TDA works well as a stand-alone card game and is quick and easy enough to be worked into an adventure without taking up the whole night. TDA (and really all of the games mentioned today) give you a great oppurtunity to role play and let those charasmatic players shine. One thing that I really like about TDA is that it has a section in the rule book that lets you us character skills to affect the card game. This option really lets players feel like they didn’t waste those skill points and have a great deal of fun in the process. At the link provided above, you can get a free copy of the rulebook and TDA quest ideas.

Harrow

Not to be outdone by Wizards of the Coast, Paizo has created their own card game for the Pathfinder world. Harrow is a stand-alone card game that can be played in-game or out. One cool feature about Harrow, is that it is can also be used as a furture telling device as well. According to Paizo’s website, Harrow fetures the artwork of Kyle Hunter, whose comics have appeared in Dungeon Magazine. If you would like to learn more about Harrow, the rule book is available as a free download here

The Red Dragon Inn: Gambling? I’m In!

This is actually nine games inspired by Slug fest Game’s The Red Dragon Inn, and can be used interchangably. I had a chance to demo this game (not all nine, but the main game and two others) at last year’s Gen Con and they were all easy to learn and enjoyable. The game includes a 90-card deck and rules for all nine games that can be played as a stand-alone or in-character in any fantasy RPG.

101 D&D Quest Ideas

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content, D&D 4e Content, Pathfinder with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2011 by boccobsblog
  1. News spreads that a dragon was slain while away from his cave, a search for its unguarded hoard is underway
  2. A thief has stolen a power item from a lich and then joins the party for protection
  3. A wizard/collector wants a live troll to study
  4. Rat catchers are going missing under the city and a plague is spreading in their absence
  5. A local caster has summoned a creature that they cannot contain and it is destroying the area
  6. A charismatic charlatan claims (and has proof) to be the cousin/brother/son of one of the PCs
  7. A wandering merchant trades a pc for their magic item for a fake he claims is more powerful
  8. Shipments from a nearby mine have stopped, when the PCs investigate they find the miners crazed and covered with red welts apparently from exposure to a new element they uncovered
  9. A white dragon is driving monsters from the north into the southern lands
  10. A planar rift has formed and outsiders are seeping through
  11. A powerful noble/wizard is hosting a masquerade ball where the guests are polymorphed into monster as their costume, but an actual monster attends to kill the noble/wizard
  12. A sorcerer has died of old age, strange things are creeping out of his tower as his spells, and dweomers break down
  13. A map has been found that leads to parts of an artifact that once reassembled, will summon a fiendish kraken
  14. The dead are rising as zombies one hour after their death
  15. Slavers are capturing peasants and merchants on the highway and selling them to mindflayers
  16. A shop/traveling merchant sells pets/familiars that are actually polymorphed people
  17. The PC’s are sent to find a hermit that lives on the “moving island”, a zircon/dragon turtle
  18. A traveling circus/faire comes to town and completely vanishes in the morning with several children
  19. An Ur priest cult is killing all the divine casters in the area
  20. Water drawn from a certain well is animating into water elementals/mephitis
  21. An evil druid has taken up residence in the sewers and is waging a guerilla war on civilization
  22. Anyone who reads a cursed book, brought into town by an adventuring party, dies after reading it
  23. A killer is leaving rare flowers in the mouths of his victims
  24. A member of a planar cartographic society offers the PCs membership into the elite group if they can complete a scavenger hunt that leads them across several planes in one day
  25. A mysterious helmed/hooded/masked figure has forged an impressive army by bringing tribes of kobolds, goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins under one banner. The leader is actually a cleric disheartened by the lack of faith and respect of his flock and means to increase belief and prayer for his deity by leading an army of wolves against his flock
  26. The owner of a failing inn claims to have the entrance to a mysterious dungeon in his cellar hoping that the ruse will draw business from adventurers
  27. A pack of displacer beasts/displacer beast lord are preying on farm animals and famers alike
  28. Two rival gangs are actually devils and demons fighting a Blood War battle on the city streets
  29. The daughter/apprentice of a caster that polymorphed himself into a golden cup and placed himself in the hoard of a green dragon in an attempt to learn more about dragons, but it has been weeks and he has not come home contacts the PCs
  30. Reports that a gold dragon is ravaging the countryside turn out to be true. The dragon, sick with a rare disease, has gone mad and must be stopped
  31. Grave robbers working for a necromancer are running out of graves and start looking for easy prey
  32. A “red” dragon demanding tributes from a village is actually an especially greedy copper dragon
  33. A killer is released from prison and the father of one of his victims stages a similar murder in the hopes of framing him
  34. A traveling “holy man” is selling relics that disappear in the morning
  35. The new judge is in fact a devil hoping to harvest souls for not guilty verdicts
  36. A logging camped is being haunted by the ghost of a treant/forest haunt and his dryad followers
  37. A band of fey have been stealing wine from a rural tavern
  38. A good and helpful aranea has been captured and tried for murder while the true culprit is a drider that resides close by
  39. A college that teaches science over magic opens and arcane casters start going missing
  40. Drug related deaths lead the PCs to an evil alchemist
  41. The PCs are hired to retrieve a meteor, but find it is being worshipped by a tribe of goblins/orcs/lizardmen etc
  42. Several woman in the area are pregnant under strange circumstances, an incubus is to blame
  43. An artifact is needed to avert a major catastrophe; its last known owner was Levistus the arch devil trapped within a glacier
  44. The PCs must find a rare herb only known to grow within Gith monasteries
  45. The PCs visit a strange village where all the people are simulacrums, an ancient wizards mark is seen everywhere
  46. The PCs are sent to a distant land to find an NPC that it turns out has been dead for 20 years
  47. The PCs must help an conflicted Erinyes to the Cradle of Creation (phb2) to be reborn into a non-evil body
  48. A map leading to the legendary Shield of Prator has been found, it states that the shield is in the cave of a dracolich. The map was sent by the dracolich’s minions in the hopes of freeing their master who is sealed magically into his cave
  49. A local orphanage is actually run by a demonic cultist that sacrifices the weak children and raises the strong ones to be followers
  50. A powerful artifact that will allow teleportation through the layers of the abyss/hells has been uncovered and a race to claim it has begun. The PCs must beat the groups of devils and demons that see the artifact as a powerful tool to end the Blood War
  51. An overmatched Marut seeks assistance with a powerful lich/vampire/mummy
  52. Rumors of “The most powerful sword” lead the PCs to an evil, intelligent, dancing sword that can animate other weapons to fight for it
  53. The PCs are sent to a battlefield to retrieve a family heirloom from a missing soldier where a necromancer and his corpse collector golem are raising the fallen as undead
  54. A cult of Tiamat have discovered a spell that ages living creatures and they are trying to use it on dragon eggs to raise powerful allies
  55. The PCs are sent to deal with a raiding ogre that turns out to be a gnome illusionist
  56. The PCs are looking for an arrow used to slay a dragon a hundred years earlier, but when they pull the arrow from the dragon’s skeleton, it animates and attacks
  57. The PCs need the help/information of a treant that will only add them if they agree to be shrunk down to clear out an infestation of insects that invaded his roots
  58. The PCs are invited to a Three Dragon Ante tourney, either as guards, VIPs, or to play
  59. A lawful good lich (Monsters of Faerun) seeks the PCs to protect him from a zealous paladin on a quest to rid the world of undead
  60. Thieves have plundered a tomb and until his golden burial mask is returned, a ghost/ghast/specter will continue to kill innocent people
  61. A group of fire giants has taken up residence in an inactive volcano, their activity threatens to awaken the volcano and cause widespread devastation
  62. A grandmotherly, if slightly senile, NPC asks the players to rid her attic of rats. The rats are in fact a group of thieves trying to open a magical doorway left by the wizard that previously owned the home
  63. A monster seen roaming close to town is actually a cursed person and not evil
  64. The PCs find a genie in a bottle, but the genie agrees to help/grant wishes/serve only after the players travel to the City of Brass and save someone the genie cares about
  65. The PCs find a wounded angel that is being hunted by powerful outsiders
  66. A newly discovered dungeon is actually a complex trap to harvest souls/magic/life energy
  67. The PCs must break an innocent man from a complex magical prison
  68. Murders attributed to a small girl are being done by her doll, a slaymate (libris motris)
  69. An ancient beholder has gone mad and his destroying the Underdark, driving monsters to the surface
  70. A gnome settlement has been overrun by Drow displacing hundreds of citizens
  71. A mad wizard has been selling potions that have poisonous/odd effects
  72. Mind flayers are draining people of their quintessence in hopes of using the substance to return to the far realm from which aberrations came
  73. A spelljammer has crashed in a remote forest/jungle and the inhabitants seek materials to repair their helm
  74. A foreign diplomat seeks the party’s monk to protect him on a mission to a country/city where magic and weapons are not allowed
  75. The tarrasque is wreaking havoc on the countryside and the party (lvl 10ish) must slow it down until the champions (20th) can arrive, but the tarrasque is actually a simulacrum (cr 10) sent by an outsider/caster/etc and not the real thing
  76. Cultist seek a tablet that depicts a ritual that will summon a Fist of Spite (BoVD)
  77. The party must save an NPC from the stomach demiplane of Dalmosh (MM5)
  78. The guild master of the cooper’s guild wants to discredit the owner of a local winery with whom he has had an argument by poisoning his barrels
  79. A local sage/astronomer is convinced that a massive meteor is going to strike the kingdom/city/town
  80. The normally-inert gargoyles atop the temple/castle/mansion has have animated and started attacking people that approach the building
  81. A group of bulettes are keeping anyone from entering or leaving the city/town/inn
  82. A doppelganger/changeling serial killer claims the identity of their most recent victim for one week before killing again
  83. A gnome settlement has been overrun by fiendish duergar led by a demon
  84. PCs seek out a powerful dwarven, smith that traded his soul to Asmodeus for unearthly crafting abilities. Before the smith will help the PCs they must reclaim his soul from the arch devil
  85. The players find/are sent to a city that that reflects the entire multiverse scaled down with a neutral inn in the center run by a power caster
  86. The PCs search for a legendary library that when found, has no books only the corpses of long-dead sages and librarian clerics that use speak with dead to obtain the knowledge
  87. The PCs need a party member/NPC raised from the dead but the only cleric powerful enough to do so has recently been turned by a vampire he was hunting
  88. The PCs find/buy/are given a strange bag of holding that has a small pocket dimension inside it where a frightened caster hides. He/she created the bag to hide in and saw that it ended up in the PCs hands to keep it safe
  89. The PCs seek an answer/information from a forgotten bard. When they find him, he is a ghost and he will only help them if they give him peace by finishing his final poem/song/movement
  90. A chaotic good horselord (CAd) has lead all the horses in the region/city/town away into the hills to freedom
  91. The huntsman of a local lord/mayor has kidnapped the NPC’s daughter, and only a highly trained tracker can follow the trail and find the girl
  92. An aged and grizzled warrior is going town to town offering his magic sword/shield/armor to any fighter that can best him in honorable combat
  93. After returning from a diplomatic journey, the noble/diplomat/prince/queen is acting strangely. The PCs are asked to look into it only to find that the NPC is a doppelganger/changeling/simulacrum/charmed/possessed
  94. A pair of ethereal filchers are stealing all the curative magic in the area/city/town
  95. The answer/riddle/name/code that the PCs require is etched onto the helm of a massive golem that paces a deadly dungeon
  96. Monthly full moon attacks are blamed on a good lycan, and are actually being carried out by a pack of Moon Rats (MM2)
  97. Summoned Thoqqua threaten to compromise the structural integrity of the city/town/inn/dungeon/ as they melt tunnels through the ground below
  98. Centaur knights (phb2) are running any humanoid from their forest
  99. The PCs are sought by the patrons of a desert land where a despotic temple of cleric charges impossibly high rates for fresh water to people not of their faith
  100. A temple has hired a large number of bards for a festival where music is to be played from sun up until sundown, the only problem is that no one recalls the obscure holiday because it is a ruse to mask the sound of tomb robbers breaking into sealed vaults below the church
  101. A xenophobic elvish lord has begun to arrest non-elves after his daughter eloped with a human

Printable version:

101quests

Want more? Here is another 101 quests

Monte Cook’s Dungeon a Day

Posted in D&D 3.5, D&D 3.5e DM Content, Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2011 by boccobsblog

New 3.5e / Pathfinder Game Content

Whenever a new edition of a game system comes out you will have some holdouts that refuse to move on (myself being one of them). Perhaps they like the rules for the previous edition, maybe they’ve just invested too much time and money, or maybe they are just nostalgic. Whatever the reasons for not moving on, these players soon find themselves without new content which can be a serious bummer.

Well for those of you that still play 3.5e there are still options available to you. One such option is Dungeonaday.com. This site is written by gaming legend, Monte Cook. Cook was instrumental in the creation of third edition and co-authored the player’s handbook (among other titles).

As the name implies, Dungeon a Day adds new content daily to include new monsters, spells, items, feats, artifacts, etc. The site also offers quests, player handouts, and maps penned by Ed Bourelle.

It should be noted that Dungeon a Day comes complete with a Pathfinder version as well. And even if you’ve left d20, 4e DMs as well as GM’s of any fantasy system will find useful ideas and maps on the site.

The site does require a subscription, but the rates are very reasonable given the amount of content you get. ($9 for a month, $24 for four months, or 81 for an entire year) If you consider what you spend on game books and quests, it is not a bad deal.

Check it out.

Dungeon a Day Website

Example Map

Dungeon Excerpt

Memorable Magic Weapons

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by boccobsblog

Player: What’s in the chest?

DM: You find a +1 staff.

Player *yawns* ok, next room…

In this week’s article we will detail, step by step, how to create memorable magic weapons that players will want to keep throughout the campaign.

For this article I owe a debt to Charles Rodgers, whose Dragon Magazine #180 article, “Not Another Magic Sword”, from 1992 has always stuck with me.

Select weapon

This may seem like a no brainer, but often DM’s will dream up some epic weapon to place in their campaign and never give pause to what weapons their players actually use. It is anticlimactic when your fighter triumphs after a series of grueling quests to find the sword of legend to be a longsword when he’s spent all his feats to specialize in the greatsword.

Select material

What is the weapon made of? Is there a material that fits the weapon’s theme or history better than regular wood or steel? The idea is to create a weapon so unique and interesting that your player will wield it throughout the campaign.

Possible Materials:

  • Baatorian Green Steel (A&EG p13)
  • Gehennan Morghuth-Iron (A&EG p14)
  • Starmetal (CArc p141)
  • Pandemonic Silver (CWar p136)
  • Thinaun(CWar p136)
  • Dwarvencraft Quality (RoS p159)
  • Blue Ice (Frost p80)
  • Aurorum (BoED p38)
  • Frystalline (BoED p38)
  • Serren (BoED p38)
  • Solarian True-Steel (BoED p38)
  • Adamantine (DMG p283)
  • Darkwood (DMG p283)
  • Iron, Cold (DMG p284)
  • Silver, Alchemical (DMG p284)
  • Mithril (DMG p284)

Powers

One thing I have learned as a DM, what I think is cool, isn’t always what the players think is cool. When you custom-make a weapon, have the player in mind. Ask yourself what would fit with the player’s concept. For example: if the weapon has the bane property, is it for a creature that the ranger has as a favored enemy?

Note: if you’ve exhausted the powers in your DMG be sure to check out the magic Item Compendium or DMG2 for new options.

Flavor

What can you add to the weapon to make it unique while not drastically changing its cost or power level? Flavor is anything that adds to the coolness factor of a weapon without any serious in-game benefits. These elements are what will make the weapon memorable. Examples:

  • screams when it delivers a death-blow or critical hit
  • smells of brimstone or another distinct scent
  • vibrates or hums when polished
  • whispers something in a forgotten tongue when unsheathed
  • moves during the night, nothing drastic, but the weapon is in a different place than the pc placed it before going to sleep (though still close to the PC).

Note: see signature traits in DMGII p229 for more ideas.

Description

What does the sword look like? Can you find a picture that matches your idea of the weapon? If you have any artistic ability, draw the weapon on a piece of sketchbook paper.  This is where the Rodgers article really shined; he detailed each piece of the sword making sure to talk about the rare materials used. He drew a mental picture of the blade, hand-guard, handle, pommel, etc.

History

Adding a history to a weapon will deepen its role-play value while not increasing it power level. In addition, if you make the weapon a bit of mystery, it will provide further quest possibilities, and allow character with bardic, or traditional knowledge skills to flex some RP muscle and use a skill often times overlooked.

Name

This one could be up to the PC, but if you have a player that shies away from role-play, you may want to name the weapon for them. Possibilities:

  • Carved into a wooden weapon
  • Runes on the blade
  • A sage, cleric, or arcanist recognizes the weapon and knows its name (think Elrond in The Hobbit when he recognizes the Foe Hammer and the Goblin Cleaver)
  • Perhaps the weapon whispers its name the first time the PC picks it up.
  • Maybe the former wielder tells the PC prior to death. This provides an interesting role-playing angle if the PC gets the weapon after slaying an enemy (as they normally do). Perhaps the dying orc king takes the barbarian pc’s hand and wraps it around the hilt of his magic great ax and whispers the name in orcish or broken common as a gesture that the player is worthy of wielding it. While this idea really only works for honorable villains, it is still a cool option.

Increasing Power Over Time

I feel that it adds something significant to a PC’s experience if they keep the same weapon over time. Of course, this idea won’t apply to all players, and you as the DM will be able to judge that for yourself, but as a whole, having a weapon that grows in power with the pc helps to enrich the storytelling process.  Not to mention, you’ve put all this work into creating an awesome item, you don’t want your player to sell it off when he reaches the next level. This idea is common among fantasy literature, heroes don’t trade in their signature weapon, so why should your players?

Possible routes for increasing power:

  • Legacy Weapon (Weapons of Legacy)
  • Legendary Weapon (Unearthed Arcana p162)
  • Item Familiar (Unearthed Arcana p170 )
  • Bonded Item (DMGII p231 )
  • Ancestral Relic (Book of Exalted Deeds p39)
  • Forgo treasure on an adventure and have the player’s deity or a potent caster empower the weapon

Player: What’s in the chest?

DM:  You find an ornately fashioned, darkwood staff roughly five feet long. The shaft has images of orcs fleeing a flaming village. The head of the staff is carved in the likeness of a ruby-eyed red dragon that snarls and breathes a gout of illusory flame as you remove it from the chest. Draconic runes just below the dragon carving spell out what you assume to be a name.

Player: Nice!

D&D Props

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content, D&D 4e Content, The Crafty DM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by boccobsblog

I have been reluctant to post this article, as my groups rarely use props (beyond the letter or map). That is not to say I wouldn’t use props, I think they could add a lot given the right group. Here is a list of possible props for use with your D&D, Savage Worlds, World of Darkness or any fantasy setting.

Beggar’s cup- put a few coins in to make noise, extend the cup to a player (form them to place a coin in), and tilt it so they can see a message folded up inside

Scrolls- Spells printed on parchment and sealed with wax and a seal or a ribbon

Sand timer/ hour-glass- I have always wanted to place a massive hourglass on the timer and announce that the players have one hour to exit the dungeon

Coins- Chocolate coins, foreign coins, or if you really want to shine: Campaign Coins

Lock Picks- Maybe the players didn’t know the NPC was a rogue in disguise until they search his room

Jewelry- I found awesome junk rings and brooches at the Good Will store for next to nothing (unless you count the weird looks from the lady at the counter or the hours of mocking from my wife)

Rocks or Geodes- Tumbled rocks can be purchased at a craft store for cheap. Maybe the work as keys or a spell focus

Compass- Maybe it points to treasure, or the last owner’s killer

Weapons- Every geek has a sword or a mace from the flea market or the Renn faire. Just don’t get all hopped up on Mountain Dew and start swinging it at folks

Sealed Letters- Card shops and specialty store carry fancy envelopes and stationary fit to write an invite to Castle Ravenloft on. Maybe find someone who can knows calligraphy to write the letter for you

Leather pouches- place a number of small coins, picks, props, notes, red herrings, in there and let the players figure it all out

Game board- I think we’ve all used a chess puzzle at one point or another

Cards- Skip a combat encounter and play a few hands of Three Dragon Ante with your players in their favorite tavern and give them xp for role-playing. Maybe use poker chips or campaign coins

Tarot cards- Read your players fortune and drop hints about upcoming adventures or let the cards write the next adventure for you

Runes- Take flat rocks and paint strange symbols on them. Make custom runes from clay, Sculpy, or Fimo. Place a codex in the dungeon to decode them

Keys- Buy some old skeleton at a junk shop or antique store. Use a fine tip Sharpie or a knife point to make cryptic markings on them

Books- Take an old book from the used book store or antique shop and hollow it out, or underline certain words that make a different message

Spell book, journal, – Take a blank book and fill it with dark symbols, runes, sketches, bits of information, lies, misdirection, distress, burn, waterlog the text to make it look ancient. Check out sites on Mythos Tomes to get ideas and inspiration

Puzzle Lock- One year at Gen Con, I went through a True Dungeon Session and we had to pick a lock, rather than rolling dice, the DM had an actual puzzle lock that we had to figure out. There are several degrees of locks available on the web, some are quite challenging

Old bottles- add water, a drop of food color, a cork and you got a potion.

Wooden Puzzle- I found some wooden puzzles at Mejiers for five dollars. My players kept finding small wooden pieces, and finally a strangely shaped lock. (note: you may want to build in a secondary path or make the locked room not essential to the adventure so things don’t grind to a halt if the player’s can’t figure out the puzzle.)

Puzzle Box- Hide maps, secrets, deeds, etc in a false bottom

Wand/ Staff- Take a stick from your yard, sand off the bark with coarse grit sandpaper, then smooth with a fine grit. Add a “crystal” to the tip by gluing on a piece of rock salt or quartz. If you really want to get detailed you could add runes with a knife or a wood burning tool

Figurine- A small glass or wooden animal could serve as a figurine of wondrous power.

Globe – Find an old globe at a yard sale, junk shop or Craigslist and repaint it with your game world map.

Gems- Take plastic or glass ‘gems’ from a craft store like Michaels or Hobbylobby and use them as gems, or Ioun stones

Hit those junk, antique,  and resale shops, as well as the Renn faire and find a prop for your game. As long as you’re willing to sculpt a story around the object, anything can serve as a great prop.

How Teaching Helps Me Be A Better DM

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content, D&D 4e Content with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by boccobsblog

When I’m not writing blog posts or running games, I work as an English instructor at my local community college. The longer I teach, the more I see my teacher-side creeping into my game table, and I think this is actually a good thing. Several of the strategies I use in the classroom have actually provided more enjoyment and an all-around better game (at least in my opinion).

Give your players homework

I find giving my players some small task to do during downtime creates a richer role-playing experience and helps to foster better-developed characters. I always offer some reward as an incentive, usually in the way of XP, but you could offer gold, items, or possibly agree to indulge the play in a side quest or goal.

Examples:

  • Write a summary of the night’s adventure
  • Write a back story for their character
  • Detail the contents of their backpack (a braid of his wife’s hair, the flint his father carried, etc). This one really helps create back story and depth.
  • Map the dungeon or countryside
  • Create a code by which the character lives (I’ve found the easiest way is to make a list of things the player will never do, harm a child, steal from the poor, etc. It helps to define their alignment for them.)
  • Detail a fear or phobia the character has and why
  • Write a brief summary of what your character’s goals are
  • Create a family tree
  • Ask bards to write a poem or a story

Give handouts

As a teacher I like my students to have something tangible they can look at after class and think about we’ve worked on. The same holds true for the game table; as a PC and a DM I enjoy these handouts immensely, especially maps. This may seem weird (but I’m sure I’m not alone on this), but I enjoy looking at maps of the game world and trying to imagine what secrets reside on those hexes, what adventures are waiting for me.

Note: I think handouts differ from props slightly. We’ll cover props in a different article. Where did I put my foam sword…?

Examples:

  • Maps (hand-drawn is fine by me)
  • Fiction from the game world (Pepper these in with the treasure, they will add depth, explain back-story or world history without bogging down the session. The Elder Scrolls series of video games does this seamlessly.)
  • Letters (use a font that resembles hand writing, and don’t be afraid to spill something on it or burn the edges, it’s a bit junior high, but so what it adds flavor. Download a rune font or elvish script.)
  • NPC Portraits (use the archive here, print them out on card stock or photo paper— 4.25×5.5 so you can fit four to a page.)
  • Menus (What’s for dinner at the local tavern?)
  • Treasure Maps (Use these a unique treasure that sets you up for a side quest, don’t level scale either, a treasure hunt should be rough, and have a huge payout)
  • Wanted Posters (makes for great side quests, again don’t level scale, let the gold piece value of the reward and the list of crimes give the players an indication of the difficulty)
  • Scrolls (print of the spell’s effect, maybe print it on parchment-style paper. Seal it with wax if you want to go from handout to prop. This idea also serves to save time during combat. Your player doesn’t have to stop and look up the spell in question. Find obscure spells or spells your player won’t normally take)
  • Newspaper (ok this may seem silly, but in the right setting, Sigil, Sharn, etc it might make perfect sense.)

Make time to plan your class

Students (and players) can tell when you’ve thrown a game together at the last second. It really hurts the game experience because it puts your players closer to reality, while the purpose of role-playing is to immerse yourself in a secondary world and lose yourself for a few hours. One thing that I find that helps with campaign planning is to keep a log of all the happening in the night’s adventure. Keep a list of people and places that players interact with. You will be amazed at how many adventure hooks the players will create for you. (The guy they picked a fight with at the tavern, the person whose pocket they picked, the loved ones of the monster or npc they killed. Etc) While occasionally it is fun to play a session on the fly, more often than not you’ll want a series of possibilities open, and unless you run a pre-planned world, you’ll need to sit down and prep. (Note: We ran an article a while back that provided prep-time reducing handouts for the DM, a list of NPC names by race, and a list of treasures by encounter level. Both can be found here.)

Give course evaluations

Evaluations, when given in a thoughtful, honest manner, can make you a better teacher. If my students didn’t care for a certain text or film, I generally choose something different the next time I teach the course. The great thing about teaching at the college level is that every sixteen weeks I get to try things differently.

The same approach holds true at the table. Ask your players for honest feedback. Ask your players what they like and write to that. I have some players for example, that could really do without combat, while I can’t remove all they action from the game, and I always try to put some level of mental challenge or puzzle in for that player when they’re present. Sometimes DMs write for themselves rather than for their players. Don’t be afraid to ask your players what they like and dislike about your game. It may be awkward at first, but it will lead to a more enjoyable experience.

-Andy

Goodbye Minis, Hello Tokens

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 4e Content, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2011 by boccobsblog

Wizard’s has stopped production on their miniatures line. To help fill this gap, they have begun producing more 2D tokens.

We ran an article several months ago showing how you could easily make these tokens at home, but several players have expressed that they haven’t the time to make their own so, that said, here is a list of Wizard’s products that contain good D&D tokens.

Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Game (2000)

This was a 3.0 edition basic game for people new to the hobby. It contains several sheets of one-sided, gray-scale tokens. Some of the tokens are of strange sizes because the sizing was different in 3.0 (large tall, large long, etc.), but this only affects a few tokens. This set is getting hard to find, but can still be bought on Amazon or E-bay for about 5 dollars. While not flimsy, these tokens are made out of much thinner material than the 4e tokens, but they are your cheapest option.

D&D Role-Playing Game Starter Set (2008)

This is essentially the fourth edition equivalent of the above-mentioned product. It came with a few sheets of dungeon tiles and several sheets of two-sided, full color tokens made out of the same material as Dungeon Tiles. The down side to this product is that it didn’t remain in production for very long and prices online are expensive with new sets selling for 50 dollars on Amazon.

The Red Box (2010)

The “Red Box” contains two sheets of token similar (but not exactly the same) as those contained in the fourth ed. Starter set from 2008. The Red Box sells for about twenty dollars and can be found online, Wal-Mart, and Target (although hopefully you’ll support your local game store if you have one)

Dungeon Master’s Kit (2010)

This box set contains another 3 sheets of die-cut tokens made from the Dungeon Tile material. Two sheets contain monsters and one sheet is PC’s of various races and classes. At forty dollars, this is the most expensive option, because the tokens are just a small part of the product.

Monster Vault (2010)

This 4e product is a treasure trove of monster tokens containing 10 full sheets of iconic D&D monsters. Again, these tokens are die-cut and made from the same material as Dungeon Tiles. At thirty dollars, it is one of the pricier options, but it is filled with some beautiful tokens of varying sizes.

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