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

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 2, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2In Episode 2 the PCs followed the Cult of the Dragon raiders back to their camp, infiltrated the camp, and freed the captive Monk, Leosin. Unfortunately the heroes were unable to free any of the other prisoners. So Episode 3 began with Governor Nighthill pleading with the PCs to return to the camp, free any remaining prisoners, and destroy the Dragon eggs they learned about in Episode 2.

The PCs were also approached by Leosin after he’d rested and recovered from his ordeal as a captive of the Dragon Cultists. He offered the PCs 150 gp each if they would do as the Governor bade them. However, he was heading to the city of Elturel, north of Greenest, so the PCs would have to come and find him there when they’d finished at the campsite. They accepted his offer and made preparations to head back out.

This week at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto we ran five table for D&D Encounters. Our overall numbered have dwindled a bit, but that’s to be expected as the students who make up the bulk of our participants get busier with their school work. My table was down to four PCs this week, all of them level 3 – we had a Halfling Ranger, Tiefling Warlock, Elf Rogue, and Dragonborn Fighter.

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Friday Favourite: Traps – Challenge the Players and the Characters

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 26, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From September 27, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Traps – Challenge the Players and the Characters.

Sometimes it’s difficult to separate what the player knows from what the character knows. The reverse can also be true, in a manner of speaking. There are going to be times when the character would have certain knowledge or information that the player would never ever know themselves. This is just part of how the game works. You have to accept it if you’re going to play RPGs.

When it comes to combat there’s rarely any concern between the separation of player and character knowledge. Combat has clearly defined mechanics that involve a lot of dice. It doesn’t matter that I’m not proficient with a great sword, if my PC has the appropriate proficiency then the mechanics account for that and I keep on rolling my dice.

Where this becomes more troublesome is outside of combat. During the non-combat parts of role-playing games players have to be more mindful of separating what they can do from what their character can do. This situation can be troublesome when playing characters with exceptionally high ability scores or playing characters with exceptionally low ability scores.

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D&D Encounters: Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Episode 2, Session 3)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 25, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2The PCs thought they’d tricked a Cultist into vouching for them and fast-tracking them to membership in the Cult of Dragons, instead they were put in irons and forced into servitude. However, they escaped and now wander the camp in search of the missing Monk, Leosin Erlanthar.

Our sessions at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto continue to draw huge numbers. We had over 30 players this week. All five DMs had their hands full with tables at maximum capacity. My party of seven has shown remarkable stability and consistency week to week. The only change to the group this week was the return of a player who’d been off subbing in for an ill DM last week.

My table had the following PCs this week: Halfling Rogue (1), Tiefling Bard (2), Drow Sorcerer (2), Tiefling Warlock (2), Elf Rogue (3), Dragonborn Fighter (3), Halfling Ranger (3).

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Review: Monster Manual (5e D&D)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 19, 2014

monster-manual-5e-coverGamers can pick up their own copy of the 5e Monster Manual today at premier gaming stores. For everyone else the Monster Manual hits shelves on September 30. This is a tricky book to review because it’s just a monster cyclopedia. If you want official 5e monsters stats then you’re going to buy this book no matter what the reviews say.

To help you decide if you should purchase the new 5e Monster Manual I’ve listed 15 things I like about the Monster Manual and 5 things I don’t like. I’ve tried to be fair with my praise and criticisms so that you can make an informed decision about this quality and value of this book before you buy it.

The fact that my pros outweigh my cons by 3:1 should give you a pretty good idea of where I stand. I think this book is fantastic and you’re about to find out why.

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

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 18, 2014

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2The heroes were asked to follow the Dragon Cultists who’d attacked Greenest and then made off with ill-gotten gains and captives from the town. During the last session the PCs caught up to a band of Human and Kobold stragglers and tricked them into fighting each other. When the combat ended the PCs captured the Humans and convinced one of them to lead the party back to the camp. On the way the Rogue spotted two sentries hiding atop a rocky outcropping.

We were back down to five tables this week at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto as one of our DMs was out with illness. However, we still had 28 players bringing most groups to capacity. My table had the following PCs: Halfling Rogue (1), Tiefling Bard (2), Drow Sorcerer (2), Tiefling Warlock (2), Elf Rogue (3), Dragonborn Fighter (3). We’ve been running some D&D Expeditions on the weekend so two of the PCs are now level 3 adding versatility, firepower and hit points to the party.

Before we got started this week, the owner of our FLGS asked us if we’d be willing to poll the players and see if some of them would be willing to play on a different night. He felt that D&D Encounters had grown too large to accommodate the all the D&D players and the Magic players. He was concerned that we’d have to turn away players looking to play with either group. If we could move a table or two to another night it would serve to better accommodate new players. We’ll see if anyone wants to play on another night and go from there. We certainly don’t want to turn anyone away!

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

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 11, 2014


In episode 1 the Cult of the Dragon attacked the town of Greenest in search of gold, silver, and other valuables. The Human Cultists were accompanied by Kobolds, Drakes and even a Blue Dragon. Thanks to a daring band of adventurers, the town and many of the locals were saved. The evildoers eventually retreated; carry what loot they could as they fled south. The PCs took a much needed, and well deserved rest before following the cultists to retrieve what possessions they could and discover more about what motivated these attacks.

Note: I’ve decided to adjust the way I denote the title of these posts. Since the adventure is divided into episodes (chapters) I felt it made a lot more sense to indicate what episode my post covered. With different groups completing episodes at different speeds this should make it easier for DMs to find notes on the exact session they want.

As we continue to attract new players at Hairy T North in Toronto we’ve had to open another table – that brings us up to six. The numbers broke down like this: table 1 (DM Craig) six players, table 2 (DM Hillel) had five players, table 3 (DM Tim) had six players, table 4 (DM Derek) has six players, table 5 (DM Chris) has six players, and table 6 (DM Wayne) had four players. That’s six DMs and 33 players. We had to move into the space where folks play Magic and ask the Magic players to cram into the space where we used to run D&D Encounters.

My table had the following PCs, all returning from previous weeks: Tiefling Bard, Drow Sorcerer, Tiefling Warlock (formerly Tiefling Bard), Halfling Rogue, Elf Rogue, Dragonborn Fighter. The Halfling Rogue was still level 1, but the rest of the PCs were all level 2.

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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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