Archive for Wizards of the Coast

Hybrid Monster Contest: Round Three

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , , , , on August 2, 2011 by boccobsblog

Ok, it is round three in Wizard’s of the Coast’s Hybrid Monster Contest. It is down to the final four creatures:

Were-Chimera Vs. Displacer Cube

Were-Chimera
The result of a mad artificer who studied lycanthropes, this terrible creature morphs into any form it needs to gain advantage against its prey. In combat, it’s been known to change from a dragon (controller) to a lion (skirmisher), to a goat (charging brute), to still other creatures as necessary.
Displacer Cube
It’s rumored that a gelatinous cube once fed exclusively in displacer beasts, and absorbed something of their qualities. Already difficult to spot, the displacer cube’s actual location may be shifted somewhere else entirely. It attacks with gelatinous tentacles that reach out and inflict acidic damage. It’s noted that while displacer cubes are not necessarily interested in absorbing adventurers, they can nonetheless be very territorial.

 

and

Intellect Tyrant Vs. Displacer Dragon

Intellect Tyrant
Intellect devourers do not breed in the conventional sense. Rather, new larvae spawn from the brain tissue of creatures killed by other intellect devourers. Never does this occur with more terrifying results than when the host creature is a beholder. These hybrids appear as large intellect devourers, but with atrophied limbs and the beholder’s ability to hover; although they lack eye stalks, a visible aura of psionic tendrils surrounds them, used to cast the creature’s mind-controlling abilities. They are the ultimate puppet masters.
The Displacer Dragon
A silent, vengeful specter, this dragon is known to stalk from the darkness, disappearing and reappearing from one shadow to the next. Midnight black, with glowing, golden eyes, the displacer dragon does not have scales but instead a velvet skin, with four large tentacles extending from its shoulders and ending in the spiked pads of displacer beasts.
Vote now at Wizard’s Website.

Fortune Cards: Neverwinter Released Tomorrow

Posted in D&D 4e Content, Dungeons and Dragons, Gaming News with tags , , on July 18, 2011 by boccobsblog

pic via wizards.com

On July 19th Wizards will release their next set of Fortune Cards. The next set will feature a Neverwinter theme to coincide with the release of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting set to release in August.

The response to Fortune Cards has been mixed to say the least. Some players adore any opportunity to add to and modify their game in new and exciting ways, others see them as a just another attempt to get their money.

If you’re unfamiliar with how the cards work; here’s an explanation from Wizards.com:

At the start of each encounter, shuffle your deck and draw a card.

You can play one card per round. It requires no action to play. The rules on each card state when you can play it and what effect it has. A card takes effect just once unless it states otherwise, and you discard the card when its effect ends.

You can have only one Fortune Card in your hand at a time. At the start of each of your turns, you can do one of the following:

  • Discard the card in your hand and draw a new one.
  • Draw a new card if you don’t have one in your hand.
  • Keep the card that’s in your hand if you haven’t played itThe cards will come in booster packs of 8 cards and retail for 3.99 USD

Example cards:

 

 

 

 

 

We would be interested in hearing from anyone that uses Fortune Cards in their game. What do you think of them? Do they improve game play?

For more info on Fortune Cards click here

Wizards Transforms Indy into Neverwinter

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Gaming Culture, Gaming News, Gen Con 2011 with tags , , on July 8, 2011 by boccobsblog

At this year’s Gen Con Wizards of the Coast will be transporting fans to the fabled city of Neverwinter. According to Wizards.com:

This year, Wizards of the Coast is taking Dungeons & Dragons fans back to the iconic, fan-favorite city of Neverwinter with a robust offering of Neverwinter-related products and programs. Gen Con attendees will find themselves fully immersed in the city with hundreds of gaming sessions in the Sagamore Ballroom, a life-sized encounter in the Wizards booth, and the largest Dungeons and Dragons event of the year, D&D Neverwinter Game Day, taking place on Saturday. Fans will also get the chance to experience Neverwinter by participating in the first-ever “mass adventure” happening throughout the show with a chance to earn fun prizes and swag items. A full schedule of seminars and special guests is also planned, including New York Times Best-Selling author R.A. Salvatore.

I’m not sure what a “life-sized encounter” is, but I will be sure to find out and report back live from the con.

We are less than a month away from the 42nd Gen Con!

D&D Monster Mash-up Finalists

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Gaming Culture, Gaming News with tags , on July 6, 2011 by boccobsblog

A while back we posted a link to Wizards creature mash-up contest. The following is a list of the final contestants. We hope yours made the list.

Over the next few weeks fans can vote on Wizards.com/dnd and decide which monster wins.

Were-chimera: The result of a mad artificer who studied lycanthropes, this terrible creature morphs into any form it needs to gain advantage against its prey. In combat, it’s been known to change from a dragon (controller) to a lion (skirmisher), to a goat (charging brute), to still other creatures as necessary.

Cannibal cow: Carnivorous pack animals, typically found in lightly settled plains and scrublands. Some say a wizard crossed a bull and a lion in a fit of magical animal husbandry, some say a barbarian tribe held a yurt-raising that went too far. A mane of fur around their necks and a lion’s tail differentiate them from lesser cattle. Their teeth have adapted to ripping and tearing flesh, using their dim intelligence to bring down smaller animals and to herd larger ones. They have been known to raid farms, rustling cattle for their own herds. The wisest and cruelest of them worship the Horned King, Baphomet.

Enfield: A creature with the head of a fox, the feathered breast and foreclaws of an eagle, and the body of a wolf; the enfield possess the subtlety and cunning of the fox, the fortitude, grace and honor of the eagle, and the fierceness and loyalty of the wolf. In Celtic mythology, the enfield protected the fallen bodies of chieftains against desecration by the enemy until the tribesmen of such chiefs could give them proper funerary rites; although it appears in real-world heraldry (such as the coat of arms of the London Borough of Enfield), this hybrid has never before appeared in the game.

Platypotamus: This immense semi-aquatic animal has a beak shaped like an axe-head, a huge flat tail that it uses to propel through the water (or to swamp boats that venture too close), and venomous spurs on its hind legs.

Rust Grub: Also known as Anvilbane Worms, these species of grubs range in size from 1′ to 1″ and secrete an oxidizing enzyme that breaks down most metals into a digestible format. They travel in swarms and have been known to ruin entire mines, not to mention suits of armor.

Grivvin: This foul creature is a combination of hyena and vulture. While it has the wings, tail, and hind feet of a vulture, its head and forelegs are that of a hyena. The grivvin is a carrion eater, loathsome enough that it will even eat the undead. Its wild maniacal laugh is said to be one of the few things that unnerves undead creatures!

Displacer Cube: It’s rumored that a gelatinous cube once fed exclusively in displacer beasts, and absorbed something of their qualities. Already difficult to spot, the displacer cube’s actual location may be shifted somewhere else entirely. It attacks with gelatinous tentacles that reach out and inflict acidic damage. It’s noted that while displacer cubes are not necessarily interested in absorbing adventurers, they can nonetheless be very territorial.

Mantiplacer: The wizard Bubanta is known by many wealthy patrons who seek his services as a breeder of rare beasts for mounts and guardians. One such beast is the mantiplacer, a creature comprised of the aspects of the sadistic manticore and the predatory displacer beast. With the head of a man (albeit with catlike features), the body of the beast retains its six legs and panther form and can reach a full fifteen feet in length at adulthood. Its claws and poisonous bite are formidable weapons, but the mantiplacer also possesses two tails endowed with long spikes that can be hurled with great accuracy; furthermore, the beast can strike with its spiked tentacles or buffet foes with its bat-like wings—pushing them away to a preferable distance.

Abolithids: The foul results of a mind flayer experiment on ceremorphosis using an aboleth host. Unfortunately for the inquisitive mind flayers, the abolithids had the combined psionic power of both races as well as their pride and greed, and they quickly enslaved their creators. They largely ignore the humanoid races, as the abolithids’ size and power make eating such tiny, dull brains impractical; instead, they feast on the brains of aboleths and dragons, and let the their enslaved servants do what they want with the humanoid vermin.

Intellect Tyrant: Intellect devourers do not breed in the conventional sense. Rather, new larvae spawn from the brain tissue of creatures killed by other intellect devourers. Never does this occur with more terrifying results than when the host creature is a beholder. These hybrids appear as large intellect devourers, but with atrophied limbs and the beholder’s ability to hover; although they lack eye stalks, a visible aura of psionic tendrils surrounds them, used to cast the creature’s mind-controlling abilities. They are the ultimate puppet masters.

Ruxie: This fey creature combines the worst traits of a pixie and a rust monster. It appears as a tiny feral humanoid with a double set of gossamer wings, a malevolent glare in its eye, and an oversized mustache ending in twirling prehensile whiskers, usually a ruddy brown color. Able to fly quickly, turn invisible, and create powerful illusions, its most feared power may be that any ferrous metal touched by the whiskers is instantly reduced to a pile of rust.

Stirgethid: Seemingly a cross between a stirge and illithid, they are very similar in size and appearance to a stirge but with tentacles surrounding a lamprey-like mouth instead of a proboscis. The stirgethid attacks in a similar manner as a stirge; however its diet includes the brains of its victims—wrapping its tentacles around its victim’s head and latching on.

Elder Brain in a Jar: The great necromantic generals of the drow armies are said to have captured and enslaved an elder brain, keeping it in a state of near death in a magically animated jar of viscous fluid. The fluid preserves the brain and suppresses its will, making it subject to the control of the drow. Its psionic powers, however, are unparalleled.

The Displacer Dragon: A silent, vengeful specter, this dragon is known to stalk from the darkness, disappearing and reappearing from one shadow to the next. Midnight black, with glowing, golden eyes, the displacer dragon does not have scales but instead a velvet skin, with four large tentacles extending from its shoulders and ending in the spiked pads of displacer beasts.

Gray Matter: This odd creature—easily one of the most intelligent oozes—resembles a throbbing mass of brain matter. Seeking out the dark corners of humanoid settlements, it waits patiently for a suitable victim to take over with its psionic powers, a portion of itself entering the victim’s body and taking control; this new puppet is sent back into its community to lure more victims. After several days in a host body, the original mind is consumed. The victim will be abandoned, expelling a fully grown gray matter. In this way, an entire community might be consumed and outgrown in a matter of weeks.

The Legendary Medusa Hydra: This scaly, four-legged beast resembles a multi-headed hydra (with the hydra’s regenerative and multiplicative powers)—yet each head is that of a medusa, with a petrifying gaze.

You can read the complete article here

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.

Magic the Gathering Tactics

Posted in Gaming News, Magic the Gathering with tags , , , on February 21, 2011 by boccobsblog

Following our recent post on Magic deck building strategies, I thought I would post a link to the free Magic the Gathering Tactics game.

What is MtG Tactics? Well according to Wizards.com:

Magic: The Gathering – Tactics™ from Sony Online Entertainment, is the first game that brings the iconic characters, spells and settings from the world’s premier trading card game to life in a fully realized 3D world with tactics-style game play. Tackle the challenging single-player scenarios or join legions of gamers worldwide for intense battles of thrilling strategy in casual and tournament formats.

Video Preview 1

Video Preview 2

Castle Ravenloft

Posted in Gaming News, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by boccobsblog

picture via Wizards.com

On August 31st, Wizards will uncover the first in a new line of D&D board games, Castle Ravenloft. The game is based on the famous 1983 AD&D adventure module I6: Ravenloft, by Tracy and Laura Hickman. The game uses newly modified dungeon tiles that connect together like large puzzle pieces to keep the board from moving around. This tile based system allows the game board to be different for each adventure.

There are 5 heroes (cleric, wizard, rogue, ranger, fighter), and several monster to include two large miniatures (a flesh golem and a zombie dragon), and one huge miniature (a dracolich). The miniatures are unpainted (though they are cast in different colors of plastics based on power level), and are in the standard D&D scale. All of the miniatures (with the exception of the dragonborn fighter) are recasts of D&D minis.

The game contains the following pieces:

40 miniatures                     Rules book

Dungeon tiles                    Adventure book

4 card decks (treasure, hero powers, monsters, encounters)

1    20-sided die

The game will retail for $64.95 and be playable for 1-5 players.

If you’d like more information on the game you can follow this link and watch Mike Mearls open a copy of the game and show you what you’ll get for your money.

Not convinced yet? Well then follow this link and download a free copy of the rule book.

Also, if you do buy the game, Wizards has placed two additional adventures on their website for download (here).

-Andy

Gaming on the High Seas

Posted in Gaming News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2010 by boccobsblog

How would you like to play your favorite role-playing game while surrounded by miles of pristine Caribbean ocean? The people at Gamer Adventures can make that dream a reality.

Gamer Adventures combines your love of gaming with your family vacation. What’s really great about it, is that if your spouse isn’t a gamer there are still countless activities for them to do while you enjoy guilt-free game time.

GA currently offers three cruise packages: Alaskan, Caribbean, and Mexican Rivera. Also, they have a trip that travels to Essen, Germany for the world’s largest gaming convention, Spiel. Each trip has scheduled and open gaming events that take place in a private gaming hall on board the ship.

It’s a pretty cool idea, check it out.

Gameradventures.com

Penny Arcade and D&D

Posted in D&D 4e Content, Gaming News with tags , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by boccobsblog

I have been a fan of Penny Arcade for many years now, but in the last year or so since Gabe started playing D&D, the site has gotten even better. It all started when Wizards of the Coast asked the creators of Penny Arcade to play-test fourth edition and record the session for a podcast that would be released via the D&D website and available from Itunes.

The podcast was a huge success and the guys have since done two additional “seasons”. The second series of podcasts added Wil Wheaton to the cast (whose character gets killed live on the air), and the third is set in Athas as the guys test Darksun with Tycho as the DM.

I find it so unbelievable that Gabe has never played D&D before, he has posted some of his quests on the site and they are nothing short of amazing.

If you like Penny Arcade, then you will greatly enjoy listening to the podcasts, and even if you don’t know what PA is, you’ll enjoy listening to some very funny guys play D&D and crack jokes as they go.

-Andy

The Podcasts

Penny Arcade’s site

Gabe’s D&D Page

Gabe’s D&D Twitter

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