Monday, November 26, 2018

Wizards quietly updates D&D Basic Rules PDF

You may have already read that Wizards of the Coast updated the errata PDFs for the Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master's Guide found here. But you may not have noticed that the D&D Basic Rules PDF has also been updated as of November 2018.

This update includes a fairly major overhaul of the content and layout. A good amount of artwork and stylistic improvements have been added to the text. The grayscale line art is particularly nice for a document which will be printed primarily on a home or office printer.

While previous versions of the Basic Rules separated the Player and Dungeon Master rules into two PDFs, the new document incorporates all the rules together. This is a big improvement... However, there is still a lot to be desired even with the combined rules document.

Wizards of the Coast has not addressed the organization of the monster stat blocks. Dragons are still not found under "D" and Giants are not found under "G". Instead of any categorization, there is literal alphabetization such as "Adult Red Dragon" appearing under "A" and "Young Green Dragon" appearing under "Y". These are also the only two dragons appearing in the entire document.

While I don't expect every monster in the SRD to appear in the Basic Rules, the fact that there are only two dragons contained in the Basic Rules is a massive failure. The name of the game is Dungeons & DRAGONS, for Pete's sake. The Basic Rules should at least contain some variety of dragon types -- a wyrmling or two, a couple examples of young dragons, a couple examples of adult dragons, at the least.

I'm really glad to see re-released, cleaner version of the Basic Rules that includes artwork, but the decision to overhaul the document without fixing the monster stat section and adding at least a few more selected creatures from the SRD has me scratching my head.

Warduke, by Richard Whitters (source: Basic Rules)
So, Mike Mearls, if your are listening, here's what you should do.
  1. Add more dragons. Seriously. This is a no-brainer. I mean... C'mon. Perhaps also pick a few others creatures from the SRD not currently in the Basic Rules.

  2. Put a Print-On-Demand version of the Basic Rules (with a really cool cover) on the DM's Guild for a relatively low price point ($10 - $15 if possible). 
Obviously, you would not want to put the Basic Rules into retail as this could cause consumer confusion and competition for the PHB, Monster Manual, etc. I get that. However, for D&D fans who want a cheap, introductory game to give to friends, a Print-On-Demand Basic Rules set (with a few more monsters) would make an amazing low-barrier-to-entry gift for non-gamers. I guarantee it would make enough money to be worth the minor amount of additional editing, and another great way to introduce new players.

Edit: For clarity, one thing to note is that the D&D Starter Set does not include the section on the Basic classes with the character generation rules, all the class features, and spells, etc. A PoD Basic would be a low-cost, portable and complete rule set with monsters stats.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Ep 9: Kraken's Gamble - Running Storm King's Thunder

In Episode 9 of Running Storm King's Thunder, I recap my group's run through Kraken's Gamble with an emphasis on what I did right and wrong and how you can adjust the encounters to make an exciting adventure for your group.

  0:00  Introduction to Kraken's Gamble (only $3!)
  1:25  The Kraken's Motivational Gaps
  3:30  Integrating Kraken's Gamble into larger SKT plot
  5:20  Oosith's Motives
  7:10  Developing new hooks into Yartar
  7:30  Giant Slayer Sword (Triboar Quest)
  8:06  Oosith and the Hand of Yartar
11:30  Missing Nobles
14:55  Challenging higher level PCs
16:00  Ramping up the Koa Toa encounter
17:30  Koa Toa tactics
18:40  Encounter balance considerations
19:10  Spreading out PC damage output
22:45  Simple ways to enhance the grid with 3D elements
28:30  Ramping up the Aboleth encounter
29:50  Dealing with Banishment
34:10  Using Domination wisely
36:00  Misdirection with Phantasmal Force
38:20  Limiting meta-gaming
40:45  Aboleth tactics
42:10  Concealment and Escape
43:10  Lair and Legendary actions
44:40  Using Domination on PCs
47:20  Altering the water flow to create more danger
50:40  Aboleth tactics recap
54:15  Aftermath and Future Yartar Hooks

Here are the pics from the terrain I set up (or created from scratch):

While the party is distracted by the Otyough, the Koa Toa attack from behind.

Level 2 - In the Aboleth lair, I simply carved and painted packing styrofoam to add some depth to the reservoir.

Level 1 - I combined 3D printed tiles alongside Dwarven Forge to build the full sewer layout

Other Owlbear musings