Friday Favourite: Holiday Shopping Skill Challenge

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 19, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From December 11, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Holiday Shopping Skill Challenge.

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving gifts. Regardless of your personal or religious reasons for celebrating during the holiday season, everyone likes getting gifts. This is no secret to retail merchants. They know that you’ll be shopping for everyone on your list at this time of year and they want you to spend, spend, spend.

Shopping for Christmas presents can be a lot of hard, grueling work. It’s the part of the holidays that I like the least. So I decided to look at a challenging, real life situation through my D&D coloured glasses (as I so often do). A few months ago we put together a skill challenge called Battle for the Remote. It’s in that same vein that I present a holiday themed, real life skill challenge called Holiday Shopping.

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Friday Favourite: Should Monsters Employ Smart Tactics?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 5, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 17, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Should Monsters Employ Smart Tactics?

As the DM it’s my job to control all of the monsters during a fight. Each player runs his own character but everyone else involved in the battle is my responsibility. In some cases the Monster Manual provides tactics (albeit very basic tactics), but in the vast majority of situations it’s completely up to me to decide which monster attacks which PC and what power they use.

As the DM I have to decide if the monsters are going to do what’s most tacitly sound (basically, what’s best for the monsters), or are they going to do what seems most fair to the players at my gaming table? For a long time I’ve been doing what’s fair and paid little attention to tactics. But the more I’ve been thinking about this approach the more I think that it’s hurting my game.

D&D isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the DM vs. the players. It’s a cooperative, story-telling experience with a lot of thrilling combat thrown in. Although we often joke about winning D&D when the PCs defeat all the monsters during an encounter, this is obviously not the case. Yet if a PC dies during combat the player certainly feels like he’s lost the game. For this reason I generally try not to pick on one PC and have the monsters gang up on him. After all, no one like it when their PC dies. But am I really doing the players any favours by not having the monsters employ sound tactics?

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Review: Dungeon Master’s Guide (5e D&D)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 28, 2014

dmg-5e-coverIt’s finally here: the third and final core book for 5e D&D – the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Let me tell you it was worth the wait. This books if fantastic. It is 320 pages of everything I was expecting from the 5e DMG. If you’re planning to stick with 5e then there’s no question, you’ll want this book.

I’m going to go through the highs and lows of each chapter. The DMG is massive and there is a lot of great material here. I can’t possibly do it all justice so I’m going to really try and focus on the things that I felt were worth noting; the things I’d want to know if I was reading a review of the 5e DMG. If you have questions about any of the things I discuss or you want to know about something you thought was in there but I didn’t cover, leave me a comment below.

After I’ve had my piece I’ll give you my final thoughts on the book and then it’s up to you to decide if you want to buy it or not.

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The Dungeon Master’s Guide 5e Disclaimer

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 26, 2014

dmg-5e-coverWe have the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide. Tomorrow Friday* we’ll be sharing our review of this magnificent book and on Friday many of you will have a chance to pick up your very own copy from select premium game stores. Until then, we thought we’d give you a teaser by sharing the new disclaimer. Enjoy.

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Friday Favourite: Tavern Trappings

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 14, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From May 14, 2010, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Tavern Trappings.

old world tavernLast week we provided a list of 118 Tavern Names. In the article, Wimwick provided some good positioning around making a tavern more than just a typical, average, run-of-the-mill establishment. Giving it a name is an excellent start. But why stop there?

Considering how often PCs find themselves in taverns, it’s important that you take some time to make each one unique and memorable. You don’t have to spend hours on it; a few minutes will do the trick. Adding those little details brings the setting to life. Without these details your tavern is just a forgettable background. So before the PCs head to the next watering hole for a quick drink, take a minute to flesh it out a little bit. Using our list to find an appropriate tavern name is a great start, but don’t forget to describe the staff, the patrons and the décor.

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D&D Encounters: Hoard of the Dragon Queen – Report Card

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 13, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2This was the new beginning for D&D. It may have been season 19 of D&D Encounters, but this was the first adventure that used the official new 5e rules so in a way it was like season 1 again. We had high expectation for 5e, especially after participating in the D&D Next playtest for so long, and we had high hopes for the first adventure that used the new rules. It was a lot of fun and there were plenty of memorable encounters at the tables I ran.

Today I’m going to take a long, hard look at Hoard of the Dragon Queen. I’m going to identify the good and the bad and then judge it on its merits. Was it a good adventure? Did it work as a season of D&D Encounters? Read on and find out.

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On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From July 20, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Eenie, Meennie, Mini.

beholderI wasn’t a fan of minis until 4e came along. The introduction of very tactical combat made the conversion easy. I enjoy the different perspective that a large mini represents on the battlefield, how lines of sight might be affected and how the battle in general unfolds. Of course it has also led to several members of the Dungeon’s Master team to develop rather large collections of minis. Which is all to my benefit as a player and DM.

One of the questions I’m constantly debating is whether to use a mini that matches the monster they player’s are fighting. Now let me clear up that last statement. If the players are fighting a dragon, a beholder or a giant I use the appropriate mini. The dragon might not be the right colour, thought that’s usually not a problem, but the mini at least represents the monster.

Where I’m less specific is with humanoid combatants. My half-orc’s might look like humans, and my minotaurs might look like elves. As long as I have a mini on the table I’m usually satisfied.

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D&D Encounters: Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Episode 3, Session 4)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 6, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2The party defeated the half-Dragon and his five fanatical Barbarian underlings in the Dragon Shrine during the last session. Most of the PCs were pretty banged up so they took another short rest before advancing to the Dragon Hatchery this week. Fortunately none of the creatures still inside the caverns stumbled upon the PCs while they rested so after an hour it was down the stairs into the bowels of the cave.

We ran four table this week at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto. Three groups are nearing the end of Episode 3 while the fourth table has already moved on to Episode 4. Our usual fifth which has also already moved onto Episode 4 decided to play on a different night beginning this week. It’s good for us because it frees up some space and it’s good for them because they’re now on a night where there’s nothing else going on at our FLGS giving them free run of the place.

This week I had seven players at my table, six of my regulars and one brand new player. The new players had a lot of experience with D&D 2e and 3e, but none with 5e. The table rounded out as follows: Elf Rogue / Arcane Trickster (4), Dragonborn Fighter (4), Halfling Rogue / Assassin (3), Tiefling Bard (3), Tiefling Warlock (3), Elf Ranger (3), Human Fighter (1).

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Win a Free Hex Dice Chest – One Day Only!

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 31, 2014

dice-chest-01If it’s one things games never have enough of, it’s dice. And with a massive collection of dice comes the inevitable problem of where to store them all. Well, if you’re sick of keeping you dice in a purple, crushed-velvet Crown Royal bag then you should check out Hex Dice Chests.

Quentin and Dan are just a couple of gamers with a passion for woodworking. They’ve got an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign on right now where you can order your own Hex Dice Chest. It’s already 1,000% funded! The Kickstarter runs until the end of day Sunday, November 2. Check it out.

Now if you think these Hex Dice Chests are just the thing for you, but you’re a bit short of funds right now, you’re in luck. Quentin and Dan have graciously donated 4 free Hex Dice Chests to our readers. We’ve decided the fairest way to dole out these prizes is to have a random drawing.

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Friday Favourite: Zombies – Breathing Life into an Overused Undead

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 31, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From April 30, 2013, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Zombies – Breathing Life into an Overused Undead.

First it was Vampires. Then it was werewolves. Now the popular media seems obsessed with zombies. Where the Vampires and Werewolves got the Twilight treatment and were essentially emasculated by removing the fear factor, zombies for the most part have stayed true to their traditional monstrous selves that everyone’s come to know and expect.

Zombies are everywhere. AMC’s Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on TV, and the comic that it’s based on is still going strong after 100 issues. It seems that there are more and more zombie novels on the shelves these days than ever before, and there have never been as many big-budget Hollywood movies featuring the undead menace as there are this year.

We’ve practically reached a point where zombies have become a cliché. They’re overused and dare I say it, are starting to bore us. After all, how many different ways can you tell a story that involves a zombie apocalypse? Well, that depends on how imaginative you are. The key to telling an interesting zombie story, or in the case of gamers, running an interesting zombie-themed camping, is to use an angle that we haven’t seen before or at least hasn’t been used to death.

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