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

hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-cover-2

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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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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