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.
We’re back! After a two week absence our weekly D&D Encounters adventure is back on track. During the last session the PCs faced off against a lot of Kobolds, a few Flying Kobolds, and some really nasty Guard Drakes. The combat was so loud and took so long that more Kobolds from the next room heard the sounds of combat and joined the fight.
Eventually the PCs defeated the all the monsters, but it was a close call. The heroes took refuge in the Kobolds Barracks, now empty since all the monsters left the room to join the fighting. After completing a short rest they were ready to descend the rocky, staircase into the darkness in pursuit of Dragon Eggs and treasure.
Over the past two weeks at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto we’ve deviated from our typical D&D night path. Two tables finished Episode 3 and decided to play some D&D Expeditions for a couple of weeks. The other tables took a break from D&D Encounters for Canadian Thanksgiving, but many players still showed up at the FLGS and joined in their own D&D Expeditions. This week three tables began the night in the Kobold Barracks (area #8) while the other two tables began Episode 4. But we’ll talk more about that later.
My table had our usual seven players. Everyone had played one or more D&D Expeditions adventure since I last ran the group, so there had been some levelling and character swapping. The party now consisted of the following PCs: Elf Rogue / Arcane Trickster (4), Dragonborn Fighter (4), Halfling Rogue / Assassin (3), Tiefling Bard (3), Tiefling Warlock (3), Elf Ranger (3), Elf Cleric (2). The player running the new Cleric has a level 4 PC but didn’t want to level out of tier 1 yet so she switched to a new PC she’d already run at D&D Expeditions.
On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From May 21, 2010, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: What Music Is Playing During Your Battle?
In grade 5 my teacher asked the class if we could only have one song playing as our theme song, what would it be?
For the life of me I don’t recall what song I selected. However, John Arcadian’s post at Gnome Stew got me thinking about this again. John highlights the tool Pandora. Now, because I live in Canada I don’t have access to this nice tool. I do however have access to my ipod and all the CDs I still haven’t copied over to a digital format.
John’s article brought me back to that question my grade 5 teacher asked, only this time it was what songs would compose my D&D soundtrack?
On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 8, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Playing Yourself as a D&D Character.
Last week fantasy author Joel Rosenberg died. Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series was my introduction to fantasy fiction. In book one, real world college students become the characters they created when they are transported into their fantasy role playing game. Once inside the game world they realize that in addition to possessing all of the powers and skills of their characters, they still also know everything they did in real life. These characters apply their modern beliefs and values along with rudimentary technology into the game world and become a powerful force striving to make an imperfect world better. As an avid gamer I thought this was the most brilliant premise I’d ever heard the first time I read these books.
The series capped at 10 books, but for many fans the essence of what made this series great ended with book five. Books six through 10 saw the real world character retire (or die) and their children become the focus of the adventures. I’ve read those first five books many times. And even though I’ve read hundreds of other fantasy novels since then I still think that the initial premise of the series holds up. I mean, really, who among us hasn’t imagined themselves as their character at one time or another?
On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From August 7, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: The Gaming Jerk.
During a recent D&D game at my Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS) I got stuck next to a gaming jerk for four hours. Being the nice guy that I am I didn’t say anything at the time, but the more I thought about it afterwards the more I realized that gaming jerks need to be singled out and reprimanded for the good of the game.
The PCs returned to the Dragon Cultists camp and began exploring the cave in which they believe they’d find treasure and dragon eggs. During the last session they faced Dragonclaw Guards, Violet Fungi, Kobolds, and Striges. This week they continue deeper into the caverns in search of stronger opposition and valuable treasure.
We continue to run five tables at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto. We had one new player this week, keeping our streak of new players every week alive. One of the groups completed Episode 3 last week so they’ve decided to run some D&D Expeditions until the rest of the tables catch up.
I had six players at my table this week, all familiar faces – Halfling Rogue, Halfling Ranger, Elf Rogue, Tiefling Bard, Tiefling Warlock, and Dragonborn Fighter. All were level 3 except for the Halfling Rogue who is still level 2.
In 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.
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.
The 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).
Gamers 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.