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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D&D Encounters: Tyranny of Dragons Kit – Preview

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 24, 2014

tiamatWith the release of the new 5e Dungeons & Dragons comes a new look and feel to D&D public play. D&D Encounters as we know it is changing as it becomes part of the broader public play program known as the D&D Adventure League.

The first adventure in the Tyranny of Dragons story arc is Hoard of the Dragon Queen. The D&D Encounters adventure, which your FLGS can download for free, provides enough material to advance PCs from levels 1-4. The story continues for PCs of level 5 and above in the for-sale product of the same name, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, on sale August 19.

As part of the new 5e public play kick off game shops everywhere will be receiving Tyranny of Dragons Kits full of great free stuff for DMs and players. Today we’re going to share everything that you can expect to find inside including Faction Packs for players, and DM packs that include magic item certificates. Read on.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 11)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 24, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverDuring the last session the PCs learned that a group of Red Wizards were trying to reset all the black gates and undo everything the heroes had accomplished so far. With consequences so dire, three tables (16 PCs) came together to face off against these foes. It was a bit of a grind but in the end two parties of 8 stormed the Masters’ Domain and stopped these Red Wizards from succeeding. The PCs levelled up and most used the Seclusion Crypt to gain the benefits of a long rest before heading into the final fight.

This week we began part 1 of our 2-part grand finale at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto. We had 22 players split among four tables, including two brand new players. The party I ended up running had all the newbies (including Alton from the Recounting Encounters podcast). The roster included a Human Fighter, Elf Ranger, Human Cleric, Elf Mage, and Halfling Rogue.

Tyranny of Dragons. We just received the kits for the next season of D&D Encounters: Tyranny of Dragons. Be sure to visit Dungeon’s Master later this afternoon for our preview article.  — Ameron

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Friday Favourite: How To Introduce A New PC

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on July 18, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From April 28, 2010, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: How To Introduce A New PC.

It happens in almost every game, a PC dies and now you have to figure out how to introduce the new character. Or a new player joins your group and you struggle to explain why they should join the party? There are a many ways to go about answering these questions. From the serious role-playing that this type of event triggers, to the inane and superficial. How you approach this aspect of death and dying in Dungeons & Dragons will come down to the play style of your own group. Different approaches to the game will result in different introductions for new PC.

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