Friday Favourite: Quirks and Memorable Character Traits

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 5, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From April 19, 2013, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Quirks and Memorable Character Traits.

D&D characters are often described by their race, class and weapon selection. This is certainly a good start but without further details it paints a very bland picture. Throw in a theme and a background and now your character is really starting to separate himself from the pack. But is this enough?

In my experience the only reason player choose a background and theme for their character is to gain the mechanical benefits they provide. The fact that they’ve chosen to be from a certain place in the campaign world or that they had a previous occupation before becoming an adventurer rarely come into the role playing. These details that could make the character more interesting only serve to make them better when it comes to rolling the dice.

Rather than choose a background that won’t make a difference to the way the character is played, why not look for a simpler way to make your character unique and memorable. I’m referring to character quirks. These are little details that help your character stand out at the gaming table. They provide absolutely no mechanical benefits or penalties; they’re merely flavour for your character.

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D&D Encounters: Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Episode 1: Session 3)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 4, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2So far the party I’m running has defeated Kobolds who were attacking the good townsfolk of Greenest, escorted the locals safely to the keep, cleared out the old tunnel, saved the mill, captured prisoners, and had their fare share of random encounters with Dragon Cultists and more Kobolds along the way. Between the last session and this one they took a short rest, so now they’re ready to push on and drive the remaining attackers out of Greenest, including the Blue Dragon.

We had another phenomenal week in terms of participants at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto. There were 34 players and 5 DMs. Our streak of initiating new players to 5e D&D continued as we had four newbies this week. All of them had played some D&D before so that helped them catch on quickly. By the end of this week’s session three of the five tables completed Episode 1 while the other two tables expect to complete it next week.

Six of the seven players at my table had earned more than the requisite 300 XP to level up. So everyone but our newest player did so. Two of the players decided to completely rework their characters (which is allowed). So when we finally got started the party consisted of the following PCs: Tiefling Bard, Halfling Ranger, Elf Rogue, Dragonborn Fighter, Drow Sorcerer (reworked from Warlock), Elf Rogue (reworked from Bard), and Human Paladin (our new player).

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Friday Favourite: Back to School Tips for Gamers

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 29, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From September 3, 2013, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Back to School Tips for Gamers.

Going to college was an opportunity for me, as a gaming and comic book nerd, to try and reinvent myself. I could be one of the cool kids if I wanted to be; after all no one knew me so I could try to pass myself off as anything I wanted. Good in theory, but I quickly realized that I’m a gamer and that I couldn’t change or hide that fact. Instead I took my first steps as a gaming ambassador. I shared my love of games – board games, card games and role-playing games – with all of the new people I met while I was away at school. The key was to ease people into it gaming and let them discover for themselves just how much fun gaming can be.

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D&D Encounters: Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Episode 1: Session 2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 28, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2The town of Greenest is under attack. Kobolds and members of the Cult of the Dragon are ransacking the town, accosting villagers, and setting building on fire. In the sky a Blue Dragon continually swoops towards the keep, blasts it with his lightning breath, and flies away. Fortunately a band of adventurers arrived in time to help the locals and fight the evil Dragon Cultists.

During our last session the PCs had their share of entanglements with the forces on the ground, but they made short work of the aggressors. When the PCs reached the keep Governor Nighthill pleaded with them to help save Greenest. The two priorities were securing the mill and capturing a cult lieutenant so they could interrogate him to learn why this attack was happening. The PCs agreed to help and used a secret tunnel to leave the keep undetected.

Our numbers for D&D Encounters continue to grow as 5e attracts more players. We had four more brand new players as well as the return of a few regulars. We had 33 players and 5 DMs this week at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto. I ran a table with seven players; five who were at my table last week and two new players. One new player was brand new to public play but very familiar with D&D. The other brought a level 4 PC who’d already completed the Starter Set adventure Lost Mines of Phandelver. The party broke down like this: Halfling Ranger, Halfling Rogue, Human Fighter (level 4), Dragonborn Fighter, Drow Warlock, and two Tiefling Bards.

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Never Say Bloodied Again

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 27, 2014

wounded-pc-01As we transition from 4e D&D to 5e D&D we have seen significant changes to the way D&D works. The new edition has cherry picked some of the very best aspects of all previous editions to bring us into a D&D sweet spot called 5e. To make this work some things were left out, even things we felt made the game better. For example, the bloodied condition.

For those who may not have played 4e or who are so immersed in 5e they’ve completely forgotten what 4e was like, a creature is considered bloodied when it is reduced to half its maximum hit point. So a monsters with 40 hit points is considered bloodied when it’s down to 20 hit points or less.

I realize that conditions were streamlined and eliminated where possible for 5e so I understand the rationale for not including it as part of the initial base rules, but personally I liked knowing when monsters and PCs were bloodied.

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D&D Encounters: Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Episode 1: Session 1)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 21, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2Hoard of the Dragon Queen marks season 19 of D&D Encounters and it’s the first to use the new 5e D&D rules. The adventure is available in two formats. The first version is the complete adventure bound in a beautiful hardcover book that you can purchase. It brings characters from level 1 to level 7 as they play through seven chapters (each called an episode). The second version of the adventure is available as a free PDF download for DMs running this as part of the public play Adventurers League program at their FLGS. The PDF only covers the episodes 1-3. The PDF also has additional notes for how to tweak and adjust things for public play.

We had a fantastic turn out at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto. Our attendance during the past few season was about 20 players each week. For Hoard of the Dragon Queen week 1 we had five DMs and 29 players. This was the best turnout we’ve ever had for D&D Encounters and five of our regulars were absent. It looks like we’ll need to recruit another DM fast or we may have to turn people away.

It was interesting to note that almost every player present had their own copy of the 5e Players Handbook. We’ve been telling our group that if they wanted to play a race or class not available in the free D&D Basic Rules PDF that they had to have their own copy of the PHB with them during game play. It looks like that won’t be an issue.

I ran a party of six at my table. The party consisted of a Dragonborn Fighter, Elf Rogue, Drow Warlock, Halfling Ranger, and two Tiefling Bards. Although two of the players at my table were new to D&D Encounters they’d both played previous editions of D&D and a lot of WoW so they caught on really quickly.

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Ameron’s 2014 GenCon Schedule

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 9, 2014

gencon-logo-01The best four days in gaming is less than a week away. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. I’m literally counting the days and hours until I arrive in Indianapolis. I’m not especially wild about the 10 hour trip in the car from Toronto, but I’ll have two buddies along for the ride so that should keep things lively.

This will be my eighth consecutive year attending GenCon. Each year seems to be better than the year before. I’m sure that my familiarity with how things work and my growing list of gaming friends are both contributing factors. If you’re heading to GenCon I encourage you to find me so we can meet in persona and perhaps even play a game together.

For those arriving in Indy Wednesday at a reasonable hour, please come and join us as we’ll be gathering to play board games late into the night. Tweet or email me.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay – Report Card

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 7, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverAs Dead in Thay comes to an end it marks the end of an era for D&D Encounters. This adventure was the second part of the Dream of the Red Wizards, the fourth and final part of the Sundering, and the last adventure that used the D&D Next play test rules. From here we move on to 5e D&D.

But before we do that let’s take a moment to review the season that just finished. Dead in Thay was season 18 of D&D Encounters. It certainly hit a lot of high points, yet there were also some problems. Today we’ll look at the good, the bad, and everything in between.

This season I had the opportunity to act as the event coordinator, DM, and player. I’m not sure if this made the experience better or worse, but it did give me a chance to feel the good and bad from all sides.

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Friday Favourite: Should PCs Charge Other PCs for Services?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 1, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 13, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Should PCs Charge Other PCs for Services?

What if, during the heat of combat, when you’re down to your last few hit points and in desperate need of healing, the Cleric only agrees to use Healing Word if you promise to pay him 500 gp? What about a Rogue who won’t disarm and open a locked treasure chest unless he gets half of whatever’s inside it? Should characters be able to charge party members for performing unique services?

Normally this kind of behaviour isn’t tolerated at any D&D table. The game is cooperative and everyone’s supposed to get along. It’s assumed that all characters bring something useful to the party dynamic. In the end everyone will contribute as necessary to accomplish the greater objective and by doing so everyone is entitled to an equal share of the spoils. But isn’t it reasonable to assume that every once and a while a PC will feel that what they bring to the table far outweighs that of the others? And in these circumstances is it wrong for them to take advantage of the situation for personal gain?

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 12)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 31, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverThis is it; the grand finale! Four parties entered the Phylactery Vault with the goal of destroying any and all phylacteries they might find within. As each group entered one of the three sepulchers on their respective levels of this pyramidal area and destroyed the evils found inside, a Demi-Lich appeared to stop them from doing any further damage. The final fight was about to begin and some PCs would surely give their lives in the ensuing battle.

This week at Hairy T North in Toronto we ran four tables. A few of our regular players were absent and we thought we might have to condense back to three tables; however, five brand new players showed up and we were good to go. Table 1 (DM Craig) had seven players, table 2 (DM Hillel) had five players, table 3 (DM Tim) had six players, and table 4 (DM Derek) had six players.

My group had three returning PCs from last week’s session and three of the brand new players. The party ended up with a Human Fighter, Dwarf Fighter, Human Cleric, Half-Elf Bard, Half-Orc Barbarian, and Elf Ranger. For the first time in 12 sessions I didn’t have a Mage at my table.

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