Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Weird and Wonderful World of D&D Merchandising

Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Woodburning Set
Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Woodburning Set

In the 80's at the height of its popularity, Dungeons & Dragons was somewhat known for its vast and sometimes odd licensed product tie-ins. Back in the day, there were the standard items like puffy stickers, action figures, model kits, and beach towels... but there were also some pretty far out stuff like official cross stitch patterns and even a wood-burning kit!

Well, everything old is new again. With the exploding popularity, new product tie-ins are bound to pop up and many have. Some are obvious and expected, while others are maybe just a little off. And of course, there are also those few that are less-than-officially-licensed.

This week I'm taking a look at a few items that might make good gifts... or at least good gag gifts for your Dungeons & Dragons loving friends.

Nerds mascots dressed in D&D attire

D&D cherry potion candies
Last year, there was an unexpected splash when Wizards of the Coast partnered up with Nerds candy. There were even several single-player, single-DM adventures published along with the candy if you turned in your proofs of purchase. You can still find some of the D&D Nerds online, but I don't believe you get those adventures anymore... well, unless you don't know how to Google, that is. 

But did you know there was another over-priced candy tie-in? Apparently, you can get some tiny cherry sours in the shape of healing potions in a Altoid-esque d20 tin. You should probably skip the reviews if you're going to dole out about $7 for what amount to a few rolls of Smarties (and a quite stylish, but also quite small tin).

D&D Clue and D&D Monopoly

Some other product reskins aren't too surprising given Hasbro's domination of the board game industry. Dungeons & Dragons CLUE is not even such a terrible idea. Murder mystery games are always fun and CLUE is a classis family game... even if it does involve murder. D&D isn't exactly known for non-violence anyway.

D&D Adventure Begins board game

D&D Monopoly, on the other hand, is not quite as good a fit. I mean you buy monsters, I guess? And then rent them for... people to put in their dungeons, I suppose. It seems it's a cottage industry in Faerun, apparently. I am hesitant to recommend Monopoly for any family game night as actual violence may erupt. Perhaps avoid the bloodshed and tears and get the cooperative D&D Adventure Begins game instead.

Back in the day, it wasn't all that uncommon to keep all your D&D related paperwork in something like the classic Trapper Keeper. Unfortunately, there is no D&D branded Trapper Keeper... yet (Are you listening, Wizards?). But that doesn't stop you from decorating you notebooks and binders with D&D stickers galore

Official and not-so-official D&D stickers

School organizer with monster face
Of course, I'm not certain all of these are officially licensed properties, so you may want to get your hands on some before Hasbro's lawyers do. In any case, even if we don't have an official Trapper Keeper, you could always pick up something that looks a wee bit like a Binder of Devouring.

I was really hoping to find a beach towel because I missed out on the classic AD&D version. Though there were some pretty cool dragon related beach towels, I didn't find anything specifically branded Dungeons & Dragons until I found this pretty rad dish towel!

And while we on the subject of house wears, along with your dish towel, you can also find some D&D throw pillows and a fuzzy D&D throw blanket for your D&D futon couch.

D&D dish towel, throw pillow, and couch blanket

And as long as we're lounging around the house, you'll want to make sure you have some D&D pajamas. I mean, t-shirts are old news. If you're going to go for the look, you have to have the D&D hat, D&D hoodie, D&D socks, and the D&D underwear. To get that butt, I'm going to need a D&D treadmill.

Sexy times with D&D boxers and panties

Lastly though, if you're going out, bring your D&D wallet secured by an enchanted chain giving Protection from Pick Pockets (and most probably Protection from Women). Also, don't forget your D&D umbrella in case of rain... or Acid Splash.

D&D wallet and D&D umbrella

OH MY GOSH... I almost forgot.

So you can __________ (verb) your ________ (noun) while writing ________ (adjective) anecdotes about the world's __________ (adjective) game.

Of course no article would be complete without showing how we did it back in the day...

Binder covered in D&D stickers D&D with notebook.

Not gonna lie... the D&D postcard set is pretty cool.

D&D postcard set

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Episode 12: The Rescue - Running Storm King's Thunder

It's been a year (!!!) and it's way past time to update what's going on in SKT. In this video I talk about the ideas I had for the Golden Goose and the Morkoth... and how to spice up those encounters to build tension and fun as the group closes in on the end game. I hope you can use some of these ideas for your own table. Timestamps and some pics from my crafting follow.

00:00  Intro
00:28  One year already?!? What happened?
03:25  Maelstrom re-cap
05:19  Setting up the Golden Goose encounter
07:15  Ideas for the Golden Goose mystery
    09:00  Side bar about the Aboleths, Mind Flayers, and otherworld sea creatures
    10:40  How the Kraken controls its important cultists
12:10  Golden Goose Booze Cruise
15:52  Confronting Drylund
    18:00  Easy crafting for the Golden Goose
    20:00  How 2.5D terrain helped the combat encounter
20:45  The Golden Goose combat
25:05  Here comes the Baby Dragon Turtle!
28:00  I see dead people.
28:25  Finding Hekaton -- we need a boat!
30:35  Search & Rescue Skill Challenge
32:15  Broadsides with the Morkoth
    33:35  Easy crafting for the Morkoth
39:20  Why is the Kraken sinking the Morkoth?
41:20  Hekaton's Rescue and setting up the end game
43:20  Wrapping up and idea summary
44:25  Please like and subscribe!

Friday, March 11, 2022

D&D: Brace yourselves. Dragonlance is coming!

This week's D&D Unearthed Arcana article points convincingly toward a new book for Dragonlance. Given that Wizards has already said they will revisit classic settings this year, there is high chance one will be Dragonlance.

So what do you think they will do with the setting? I have some thoughts and speculations on that. Also, how can you play in the world of Dragonlance *right now* even before a book is released? I'll tell you! (...around minute 21) Timestamps below.

Player's Guide to Dragonlance (2e) - only $4
Drangonlance Campaign Setting (3.x) - about $10

00:00  Intro
00:25  Unearthed Arcana - Heroes of Krynn
02:05  New Dragonlance novels coming
02:52  Wizards' Dragonlance promotion opportunity
03:40  Fans of the original Dragonlance series now have kids playing D&D.
04:58  What will Wizards do with the setting?
05:40  The style of Dragonlance vs. "standard" D&D 5th Edition
07:20  Can superhero fantasy fit with Dragonlance?
09:30  Dragonlance isn't a high power setting.
10:05  How Wizards could tweak 5e to fit the Dragonlance style.
11:30  How Cubicle 7 adapted The One Ring to 5th Edition mechanics.
14:00  How Wizards could adapt Dragonlance to 5th Edition.
14:25  A Dragonlance-specific Player's Handbook / campaign setting book.
17:45  Any Dragonlance book will be a hit, but here's my wishlist.

21:15 Run a Dragonlance campaign!
21:20 What to get if you want to run Dragonlance right now
    22:00  Player's Guide to Dragonlance (2e) - only $4
    24:10  Drangonlance Campaign Setting (3.x) - about $10
26:00  Consider running Dragonlance under an Basic or OSR version
27:45  Rules Cyclopedia - $30 Hardback
29:55  A brief glimpse back at Dragonlance 5th Age
32:00  Outtro -- Please Like and Subscribe!
32:15  What do you think Wizards should do with the Dragonlance setting?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The One Ring Unboxing

Unboxing the The One Ring, which recently released in its second edition by Free League publishing, who also publishes such RPGs as Tales from the Loop, Alien, Twilight: 2000, and Forbidden Lands. I browse the Starter Set contents and Core Rule as well as discuss some of the changes in the game between the first edition and second edition. Timestamps below the video.

00:15  Introduction
01:35  Core Rule Book and Box set covers
02:30  Mini-GM screen in the box lid
04:10  Poster map
06:13  Starter Set (white) and Sauron (black) dice
10:00  Stance / Journey Cards
11:25  Equipment Cards
14:00  Endurance vs. Load encumbrance system
15:20  Timeline and content focus of The One Ring 1st edition vs 2nd edition
18:00  Hobbit pre-gens
19:54  Starter Set booklets
20:40  Twitch viewer comment about BattleTech
21:05  The One Ring core rule book
22:40  Free League publishing art direction
24:20  Second Edition vs First Edition art style
32:30  Comparison of Middle-Earth maps in the editions
34:15 Map of Eriador
37:45  Map of the Shire
39:40  Hobbit characters
41:15  Attributes and Skills
44:25  How Skill rolls work
48:00  Travel and Journeys
52:00  Starter Set rules vs. Core rules content
52:30  PC Cultures in Middle Earth
54:25  Monster Bestiary
56:00  Content left out of the 2nd edition. Possible supplements?
58:50  Adventures In Middle Earth
1:00:20 Outtro

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Easy Modular Roads for Car Wars and Gaslands

Here's a supremely easy craft that will allow you to DIY your own road sections for Car Wars and Gaslands. If you don't already have some of the necessary tools and hardboard, it's not as cheap as desired, but I already had some of the materials to create them so I went with it. Whether you go with the not-quite-as-cheap-as-hoped cardboard, or with the fancier neoprene depends largely what you already have available. 

Neoprene Road Tiles -
Road Tape (4 inch) -
Road Tape (2 inch) -
12x12 Hardboard -
Glue Dots -

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

D&D 5e: Short Campaigns and One Shots

D&D hardback adventure covers

About 6 months ago (already?), I suggested that running one of the long hardback adventures from Wizards of the Coast may not be the best idea for a new Dungeon Master. You can watch the video for all the details, but to summarize:

  • The Wizards hardbacks are often long intricate plots involving a large number of NPCs.
  • You have to read and digest a couple hundred pages (at least) to fully understand everything going on and be able to foreshadow events (which generally is not done well in the adventure itself).
  • They span as many as 10 to 15 levels of play, which is a lot of game to bite off for your first campaign.
  • It's a lot just to learn to run the game much less keep 200+ pages of heavy plot in your noggin.
  • Short episodic adventures give the DM much more freedom to improvise with much less preparation.

Instead, I suggested perhaps a more short-form campaign would be a better choice. Prepping smaller 3 to 5 session modules and one-shots (single session length) adventures might be better for the new DM. A shorter length campaign (5 to 7 levels) is also a better introduction to the challenges of game mastering.

There are a few exception. If you are a new DM and you haven't run the D&D Essentials Kit or the Starter Set adventures, those are both amazing introductory (and relatively short) adventures. The Dragon of Icespire Peak (Essentials Kit) is a little more modular and has more bite-sized chunks for the newer DM, but the Lost Mine of Phandelver (Starter Set) is also a very well done scenario with a plot arc the underlies all the encounters. Together, they can be used to introduce a new group of players to the Sword Coast (Forgotten Realms). Tales from the Yawning Portal, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, and Candlekeep Mysteries also contain shorter length adventures that are self-contained.

But, that's not what I'm here to talk about.

Short Campaigns and One Shots

This topic resurfaced because I was asked on social media, "What are some good one-shot or short multi-session adventures that can span a number of levels?" 

Boy, howdy... there are lots. I do have some recommendations for publishers I've enjoyed. I've come to prefer the more episodic "monster of the week" style campaign because you're not locked into a really long plot arc that the players may lose interest in over time. Smaller adventures are over in 3 to 5 sessions and if one of them just isn't working out, you can scrub that particular mission without feeling like you lost $50 and tons of prep work. Just move on to the next episode.

Horror Shorts

For my first recommendation, I wrote out a list of One-Shot Halloween adventures a few years ago. These are great 1 to 2 session length adventures, but they are largely horror themed, so I wanted to include a broader variety of adventure types for this post.

Tales of the Old Margreve
Tales of the Old Margreve

Tales of the Old Margreve is not a full campaign, but more a collection of short adventures centered on a particular region of Kobold Press' Midgard campaign setting. Three of the adventures are directly linked and can be run as a part of a plot arc, but the rest are are just nice little 1 to 3 session vignettes that can be dropped into almost any campaign. Hollow was a nice starter adventure to set the tone. The introductory adventure leans toward the horror theme as well, but most of the book involves forces of the fey as opposed to forces of darkness.

Prepared - A Dozen One Shots for Fifth Edition

Prepared #1 and Prepared #2

Sticking with Kobold Press for a moment, the Prepared series is a wonderful collection of short adventures intended to be dropped into a campaign with a very small amount of prep work. They're all just a handful of pages, so one could read them on a Friday afternoon in preparation for a Friday night game, and the adventures span from level 1 to 15, so there is almost always something that you can mine for your campaign.

Quests of Doom

The Quests of Doom series from Frog God Games is written to emulate an "old school" play style found in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. These adventures are not only available for D&D 5th Edition, but Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry as well. The writers include notables such as Ed Greenwood, Matt Finch, Skip Williams, and Jim Ward. The Darkening of Namjan Forest is one of my favorites and will cause your players to poop their pants when they encounter shadows everywhere!

Fifth Edition Fantasy cover
Fifth Edition Fantasy

Known for their old school Dungeon Crawl Classics line of adventures and DCC RPG, Goodman Games also produced Fifth Edition Fantasy which is another series of relatively short adventures that can be dropped into any 5th Edition campaign. The adventures can run anywhere from roughly 16 to 24 pages and usually completed in just a few sessions. 

Dungeons On Demand

Dan Coleman Productions puts out the Dungeons On Demand series. These short adventures can be bought individually or as bundled collections at a discount. Dan uses maps with friendly iconography that allow the DM to easily see where the most important points of interest, clues, encounters and other details are at a glance. These are also collections where you can reasonably read most of the adventures the day of your game and still run them proficiently that night.

Assault on Blacktooth Ridge

5th Edition Adventures

Last but certainly not least is Troll Lord Games 5th Edition Adventures series. The Troll Lords are know for releasing the Castles & Crusades RPG back in 2004, arguably the first "Old School Revival" RPGs. Their 5th Edition line is largely translations of the C&C adventures over the years, but sometimes with additional content that did not appear in the originals. Two of the absolute best campaign starters are A1 Assault on Blacktooth Ridge and A0 The Rising Knight

In Summary

This list really only scratches the surface of what's out there, and it is likely I will need to create another follow up list highlighting adventures from the but that may have to wait for another day. In the meantime, check out Nothing Unusual Here -- a weird little tale about a village and its unusual fondness for their pet dwarf pigs. I hope this is a good start for those looking for short adventures for their home brew game.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Car Wars 6e Vehicle Card Overview

Car War 6th Edition has largely been the big news in my gaming world lately. In this latest video, I do an overview of the vehicle building cards included in the Double Ace pledge, which includes the Core set, Vehicle Expansion #1 and #3, Armory Pack, Linked Weapons Pack, Dropped Weapons pack and the Crew Pack. The Uncle Albert's expansion is included in the early bird pledges, but hasn't shipped as of this video. Timestamps below.

00:00  Overview of Vehicle build system
05:30  Example pre-generated vehicle
10:25  Driver (Crew) cards
14:50  Gunner (Crew) cards
16:50  Crew Equipment cards
19:40  Vehicle Accessories
21:05  Structure (Armor) upgrades
25:12  Vehicle Upgrades
27:00  Dropped Weapons - Mines, Oil, Smoke, Spikes
28:10  Lasers and Shock Weapons
29:10  Blast (Rocket) Weapons
29:50  Flamethrowers
30:15  "Melee" Weapons
31:05  Machine Guns
33:10  Slug Weapons -- Recoilless Rifles, Tanks Guns, etc.
34:55  Internal Damage Cards
38:40  Summing Up

Other Owlbear musings