Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Raging Owlbear Interviews Chris O'Neill

Continuing my "interview series" (used very loosely) this month, I speak with Chris O’Neill, co-founder of 9th Level Games, best known for the comic RPG "Kobolds Ate My Baby!"  9th Level has also broadened its offerings in recent years with card and board games like Schrödinger's Cats, Knuckle Sammich, Bearicades, and Hot 16.

This month, 9th Level launches its newest Kickstarter, Tragedies of Middle School, a collection of tongue-in-cheek RPG horror games about the nightmarish experiences of pre-teen grade schoolers. Tragedies of Middle School includes 21 short-form storytelling RPGs, LARPS, and activities for only $10 in PDF and a mere $20 in print.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gargantuan Dragons invade Owlbear Lair!


Gargantuan Red and Green Dragons from
the Pathfinder Battles miniatures line.
I’m a bit of a miniatures nut when it comes to dragons (or really, just a miniature nut... period). I was lucky enough to chance upon the Paizo website when they had both the Pathfinder Battles Gargantuan Red and Gargantuan Green dragons temporarily in stock over the summer. Both of these models have been out of print for some time, but Paizo occasionally gets restock from random distributors. The Gargantuan Red Dragon is complete sold out now, but Paizo.com still has the Gargantuan Green Dragon in its store (last chance to pick one up for under $50 with shipping).

I was extremely surprised to see the Gargantuan Red come back in stock, and I’m pretty certain I got one of the last, if not the last one on their shelves. I had been hesitant to buy both of these models earlier due to luke warm reviews, but the Green and Red were the only chromatic dragons I did not yet have in the Gargantuan/Colossal size category. No one else, to my knowledge, has put out a pre-painted green dragon of this size, and the larger pre-painted red dragons are all ridiculously priced on the secondary markets. I kick myself to this day that I did not pick up the ICONS Colossal Red Dragon when they were only about $60!

Both models are beautifully sculpted. From an artistic standpoint, they really do stand out with very dynamic poses. However, they both suffer from what I consider a serious design flaw when it comes to tabletop play… They are both looking up. Both poses have the neck and head craning in something akin to an upward roar. From an artistic standpoint, I suppose I understand why the sculptor went in that direction, but I am disappointed that they are not looking down at the PC miniatures with an “I’m totally going to eat you!” menace.

The Gargantuan Red also has one wing folded inward in what appears to be a packaging consideration. I may try to use the heated water method to see if I can get a little bit more spread from the left wing. The painting on each is reasonably good, although I think the green dragon's color palette could have used a little more contrast.

The Pathfinder Battles Gargantuan Dragons are slightly smaller than the amazing WotC ICONS from 2006 - 2007.
From a size perspective, the models are unsurprisingly smaller than the legendary ICONS miniatures from Wizards of the Coast, but they are decently large, and considerably more bulky than the Elder Dragon models that came out later in the D&D Miniatures line.

While these may not be my absolute favorite dragons in my collection, they are impressive models and I am glad I was able to pick these up for retail pricing. The secondary market for large dragons is quite ridiculous. Don't wait until they are gone!

The Gargantuans fit favorably well in size category with the huge WotC Elder Dragons from 2009 - 2010.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

GM 101: Basics of Stealth and Hiding in D&D

Dragon Magazine #88 cover by Jim Holloway
Why is stealth so hard in D&D?

Based on recent social media chatter, it appears GM’s have some confusion when adjudicating stealth and hiding, and players believe their Rogue skills give them Advantage more than the rules as written would suggest. A re-review of the rules as written with a few examples should help.

To break this down a bit, let’s start with the rules as stated in the SRD 5.0 (bold emphasis added).
___________

Stealth

Make a Dexterity (Stealth) check when you attempt to conceal yourself from enemies, slink past guards, slip away without being noticed, or sneak up on someone without being seen or heard.

Hiding

The GM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding. When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check’s total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence.

You can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly, and you give away your position if you make noise, such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase. An invisible creature can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, and it does have to stay quiet.

In combat, most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, so if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it usually sees you. However, under certain circumstances, the GM might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack roll before you are seen.

Passive Perception

When you hide, there’s a chance someone will notice you even if they aren’t searching. To determine whether such a creature notices you, the GM compares your Dexterity (Stealth) check with that creature’s passive Wisdom (Perception) score.
__________

So there are a few things that are implied by the above rules that could be stated more clearly, or at least clarified with examples.
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