Wednesday, November 30, 2016

D&D: Giant Miniatures Are Back (and giant) Again!

Even since the earliest days of D&D Miniatures Game (the skirmish game), I have been collecting the skirmish minis for use with the D&D table top game as well. I'd hazard a guess that the great majority of the consumers of the random booster packs were actually using the minis for D&D table top and not necessarily for the skirmish game. In 2008, Wizards of the Coast stopped selling the skirmish game, but continued to sell random booster packs of miniatures. The most recent line, Icons of the Realms, is licensed for production through WizKids.

Due to the high price of plastic, larger miniature were quite expensive to produce, and were therefore almost always rare creatures. The sculpts themselves were also often not particularly large in order to save production costs. Wizards of the Coast tried to mitigate some of this problem by introducing booster sets that specifically included at least 1 large or huge creature in each booster pack, but large creatures were still rare and pretty expensive on the secondary markets. With Storm King's Thunder, Wizards of the Coast (through WizKids) has brought back huge miniatures, and they don't disappoint. It is likely the falling price of oil (the main ingredient in plastic resin) has made these much larger figures cheaper to produce than in prior years.

A line up of the new giants showing the enlarged scale - Fomorian, Frost, Cloud, Fire, Hill. You can get them here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

D&D 5e: Haunting Halloween Adventures

Looking for a spooky adventure for your Halloween game? It's that time of year again when people are searching for thematic adventures with a Halloween twist. So, what if you are not running Curse of Strahd?  Is there anything else out there which will scratch that Halloween itch?

Well, you are in luck. There are several 1 to 2 session length adventures that can add a spooky side trek into your current campaign. Here are a few quickies that might work out. A couple of these might take a bit of translation for D&D 5th Edition, but the work will be well worth the fun.

The Darkening of Namjan Forest (Quests of Doom 1 Volume 2)
Frog God Game's excellent Quests of Doom series contains this excellent gem of an an adventure set in a forest overwhelmed by elemental shadow. The PCs must find the source of the infection from the Plane of Shadow. Watch gleefully when they crap their pants over the strength-draining shadow creatures. For PC levels 3 to 5 and 5th Edition compatible.

Dead by Dawn - Dungeon Magazine, issue #176
Originally written for D&D 4th edition, this Dawn of the Dead hommage takes place in a ruined temple where the PCs must hold out until dawn while wave after wave of under attempt to break in and devours the poor souls. An 5th Edition adventure conversion guide (written by yours truly) has been published as a PWYW download (Please support!). Conversion for level 3 PCs.

Lord of the White Field - Dungeon Magazine, issue #184
Also originally a 4th edition adventure, this side trek explore what happens when a sliver the Ghoul King's power leaks into a small village. This is another zombie... er... ghoul apocalypse style adventure that make the PCs solve the mystery before the realm is overrun by ghouls. This has not been converted to 5e, but a quick conversion using ghouls right out of the Monster Manual would likely create an adventure for about levels 4 to 6 (give or take).

Night of the Walking Dead
Noted in the comments by one of my readers, Night of the Walking Dead is a classic zombie horde adventure written originally for AD&D 2nd Edition. This adventure would be fairly easily translated to 5th Edition with a straight conversion using the D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual and still have the roughly the same encounter balance. For levels 1 to 3 (perhaps leaning toward the higher side of that range).

Horror at Havels Cross
A level 2 adventure written for Basic D&D (5e) with ghoulish entanglements.

The Wolves of Welton
A "basic" starter quest that may be more than meets the eye. PWYW for levels 2 to 3.

The Ghost and the Peddler
A unqiue take on a "haunting" with lots of role-playing potential. For levels 3 to 5.

A Haunting in Brenton
While I have not (yet) read through this adventure, it's a PWYW so you can try before you buy. For level 7 PCs.

The Haunting at Velston
A free 2-encounter side trek from Kobold Press. Impactful and emotional.

Swamp Witch Monster Party
Not an adventure per se, but a pre-loaded encounter group for dropping into any campaign or overland travel. Encounter for level 3 PCs. PWYW.

Some ideas for incorporating spooky non-combat haunt effects into your game. PWYW.

There are a few others tagged with the "Halloween" keyword on DM's Guild. I expect several others will show up before the week's end.

Happy Haunting and please support the PWYW publishers!

(Oh, and please add your own suggestions in the comments!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

D&D 5e: Fee, Fly, Foe, Fund - A Storm King's Thunder Adventure

In my effort to fill some gaps and repair some holes in the plot in Storm King's Thunder,  I've searched across the internet high and low (and DM's Guild) for additional content or ideas. In my efforts, I came across one intriguing adventure that ties in rather satisfyingly with the other plot threads within Storm King's Thunder.

Fee, Fly, Foe, Fund - A Storm King's Thunder Adventure

Fee, Fly, Foe, Fund not only ties together the Nightstone thread with Golden Fields encounters, but was also written by none other than Greg Bilsland (of Wizards of the Coast) for the 2016 Extra Life fundraiser.

Without giving too much away, Fee, Fly, Foe, Fund addresses where the other Hill Giant wives have roamed off while Guh (pronounced "Goo" apparently) rules the roost. It's mostly a combat side-trek, but could be tweaked for diplomacy (the suggested diplomatic approach is nearly impossible).

My only complaint is that the included map is just bad... MS Paint bad. I mean, this PDF was probably just thrown together because fans who may have watched the Extra Life streams asked for it, so I don't expect much, but there are so many ways to make a decent encounter map even without hiring a master cartographer.

The best thing about Fee, Fly, Foe, Fund is that it is Pay What You Want... and 50% of the proceeds goes to Children's Miracle Network.

So throw a couple bucks at it, even if you can just download it for free.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

D&D 5e: Storm King's Thunder - Quick Critiques

TLDR Summary: Storm King's Thunder has a lot to like within its covers, but also has some glaring adventure design issues that will annoy you and require some extra DM modification.


If you've been living under a rock (or just don't pay attention to social media much), you might not know that Storm King's Thunder is the latest adventure path for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

In previous adventures, the PCs have had to deal with Dragons, Demons, Drow, Elementals, and Undead. This iteration, it's time for the Giants.

This isn't technically a full review. I've only read through the first few chapters, and this is more of a first impressions post. This is not a "buy or don't buy" review article, but just some [very subjective] observations of mine. I may follow up with a more thorough review once I've read through the whole book and start running it for my group.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

D&D Neverwinter PS4

So, this is a fun thing that happened.

A couple weeks back, I entered a little contest by sharing a Tweet and FB message from the Neverwinter MMO team. The prize was a PS4 with a really sweet Tiamat skin.

Oddly enough, I actually won one of the PS4's they were giving away. This was really cool, but what made it even more fun was a small token on the part of the Neverwinter team.

Inside the box, was the PS4, a D&D sticker, and a hand-written, hand-aged note. Basically, they wrote a nice letter and used what I assume to be the "tea bag aging" process to stain the note and make it look like old parchment. While this was just a small gesture, it really added something extra special to the whole prize package.

Table top gamers have been known to scoff at MMO players from time to time, but this was a small reminder to me that no matter the media format in which one enjoys the Dungeons & Dragons game, we all love the fantasy genre and have a deep-rooted passion for D&D.

Before our kids, my wife and I played Neverwinter on the PC when we had time to spare. After kids, that time is even more sparse, but I look forward to returning to the game with the new PS4.

Thanks to the Neverwinter team for pouring their passion into the D&D genre. The note was an awesome touch.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hero Forge Miniatures: Grey Plastic back in Beta

Hero Forge rendering of my Gnome Druid
Just a quick FYI for anyone waiting to buy. I received a note from the friends at Hero Forge Miniatures, that they have re-opened their beta period for the new "Gray Plastic" material.

As I noted in my last review, the Gray Plastic is much more durable than the Ultra Detail material, has better detail and is just a superior product in every way.

[ Read the full review of the Gray Plastic here ]

On a tragic side note, I did manage to break the arm on my gnome. This was in no way the fault of the material, but just through own stupidity while I was packing for Origins this year. A typical metal miniature would have suffered the same fate. #dndproblems

If you are thinking about a gift, keep in mind there may be a 4 to 6 week fulfillment based on demand. So, if you are in the market for a custom miniature, now is the time to order... and you may want to hurry because this is bound to be a popular selection!

Gray Plastic (left) beats the detail, paintability and durability of Ultra Detail by a wide margin.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Missing Gen Con

In a prior post, I mentioned that I will probably not do another Gen Con for many years, preferring smaller, more local cons (with Origins being one of the better "large" cons at 15,000 attendees). Between lodging, transportation, long lines, massive crowds and severely limited number of seats in the games I'd like to play, Gen Con just isn't as attractive.

And yet...

Seeing all the social media posts and the pre-game excitement... I really want to be there.

There are few other times and places where you can rub elbows with the designers themselves. Many of them do attend Origins, or other small cons that are regional to their homes, but you can count on just about anybody who is anybody to be at Gen Con.

And one has to admit the there is a certain energy of having over 65,000 table top gamers all in one place. There's just nothing else like that feeling of being amongst a community of people who all share a common love of games.

And I'm bummed that I'm missing out on that. This is my tribe. These are my people.

D&D Red Box display at Gen Con 2010 

Larry Elmore helped shape the direction of fantasy artwork during the AD&D era.

Playing X-wing with a great group of gamers. Ran into the fellow in black at Origins this year, too!

D&D Epics

13th Age

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