Episode 197

We’re back! After an extra week, we return with EXTRA news! Along with lots of hands on gaming news and kickstarters!

Fortnight in Nerddom, Two Sennights in Sorcery

Gaming News:

Kenna’s Quick Hits:

Rich’s RPG Roundup!

Kickstarters:
Pickstarters: [K] Kenna and {R} Richard

 

Special Interview: Illimat with Keith Baker and Jenn Ellis

We sit down with Keith Baker and Jenn Ellis of Twogether Studios to discuss their upcoming game, Illimat. Long referred to as Project 12, Illimat is a beautiful collaboration with the band, The Decemberists. Once upon a time, the band put a strange piece of set dressing into a photo shoot—an intriguing and arcane parlour game plucked out of an earlier age. Years later, the band approached Keith to see if he could make a game from the mysterious board and Illimat was born!

Blending classic card game mechanics with the Decemberists’ other wordly vibe, Illimat feels like a relic of a time gone by. During the interview we delve into the unusual request of designing from a component and how Illimat evolved from its humble four quadrants. We also learn some insider knowledge about the upcoming Kickstarter, launching October 4th, to fund the publishing of the game.

Join us as we uncover the mysterious Illimat!

Episode 184

We’re back! With summer vacations out of the way, Kenna and I get back on track to bring your our latest adventures in gaming! Plus the latest in Gaming News, Kickstarters, and your listener questions…

Fortnight in Nerddom, Two Sennights in Sorcery

Gaming News:

DMs Guild Masterpiece
Theme song by Michael Iachini

Kickstarters:
Pickstarters: [K] Kenna & {R} Richard

Questions:

Episode 183

With Kenna off on vacation, it’s up to me to get this recap of Gen Con out to the world. With me in this episode is former host and current fiancé, Angela Webber of The Doubleclicks! Join us for Gaming News, Kickstarters, listener questions and more…

Fortnight in Nerddom, Two Sennights in Sorcery

Gaming News:

DMs Guild Masterpiece
Theme song by Michael Iachini

Kickstarters:
Pickstarters: {R} Richard & <A> Angela

Cardboard Republic: Gender Representation in Board Game Cover Art

Questions:

  • @lucia_fasanoWhat are some tips on being creative/uninhibited when making characters/rpging?
  • @ftcupHow do you know when to abandon a character concept your group may find grating in an RPG?
  • @crowgouldWhat is the funniest tabletop game you’ve played?
  • @tperranmitchell: What are some good two player cooperative games?

Episode 182

Just before GenCon, we found time to explore some castles, solve some crimes and explore the Barovian countryside! Meanwhile, there are more boardgame publisher consolidations happening, and other exciting Gaming News. And don’t forget all the great kickstarters! So much to do!

Fortnight in Nerddom, Two Sennights in Sorcery

Gaming News:

DMs Guild Masterpiece
Theme song by Michael Iachini

Kickstarters:
Pickstarters: [K] Kenna & {R} Richard

Questions:

  • Jesse Ferguson: What is the best gaming snack?
  • No Beard the Pirate: What are you looking forward to most at Gen Con? Buying any games while your there?
  • Brian Murray: Have you ever beaten someone at a game so thoroughly that you felt bad about it?

 

Episode 181

Rich is back and has stories of games and travel! We review games about gods, another licensing coup from Lynnvander Studios and Rich’s favorite game of 2016 wins the Spiel De Jares – coming up!

Reminder: Come see us at GenCon as we run you through Tragic Backstory creation and the 1st Mission of Phoenix: Dawn Command! 

Fortnight in Nerddom, Two Sennights in Sorcery

Gaming News:

Kenna’s Licensing Korner

DMs Guild Masterpiece
Theme song by Michael Iachini

Kickstarters:
Pickstarters: [K] Kenna & {R} Richard

 

 

 

DMs Guild Masterpieces: By Blade and Claw

claudio pozasLook, I don’t want to mince words here. My first-ever D&D character was a ranger. As was my second. My third wasn’t a ranger but only because I rolled awful stats, so I had to be a cleric of nature instead, and then it was right back to ranger for character number four. I’ve played a ranger in every single system of D&D, and I’ve never regretted it… until 5e. I’ve never enjoyed animal companions, and the Hunter just doesn’t have that spark that draws me in. The ranger just doesn’t feel dynamic enough compared to the rest of the released classes. When even Christopher Perkins turns D&D’s most iconic ranger, Drizzt Do’urden, into a fighter, you know things are bad.

Since the beginning of DMs Guild, I have spent far too much time searching for a quick fix to a class which seems too underwhelming to live up to my hopes and dreams. And it’s obvious there are many of us who feel the same way because there are just so many of them! While there are plenty of ways to make the ranger different from the version found in the PHB, it takes a certain level of skill to build something that is interesting without going completely overboard to get every ranger concept into a single class. Do you want a spellcaster or a beastmaster? A silent stalker or an urban investigator? The list of two star reviews is staggering, as no one seems to be able to hit the perfect vision of what the ranger class should be.

After a series of dashed hopes, I caught a glimmer of wonder when I saw the name Claudio Pozas attached to a recent release. I’ve been following Claudio’s artistic work for years online, and I was very excited when he broke through and helped write multiple books for 4E as well as becoming an artistic contributor to the 5E PHB. With his recent experience, I knew that By Blade and Claw would be something very exciting to bring into a campaign.

Do you want to play a ranger without spells, but with a more Tolkein-esque ability to move and heal using herbs and poultices? Check. Or what about a beastmaster ranger that uses powerful new Bond spells to permanently enhance their pet at the cost of some spell slots? Yup. Or an entirely new Seeker archetype, with archery cantrips and options to allow your spirit companion to wreak havoc on the battlefield? Claudio’s got that too. Plus new animal training options and a host of new animal companion stat blocks. And best of all? The entire document is filled with original and fantastic artwork.

Clearly, Claudio takes my own point of view: that rangers are like, totally rad. The options presented in By Blade and Claw are very powerful, and DMs looking for a more low-powered game may want to read closely and consider how well they fit into their campaign. The archery cantrips provide strong and unlimited firepower to a ranger, and the Seeker gains a lot of options compared to the PHB ranger archetypes. But in the right hands, this supplement will make your ranger truly shine.

By Blade and Claw is a fun and inventive take on the ranger class which will bring powerful new options to your story and campaign! Listen in for more on why it caught my attention in Episode 176!

dungeon-masters-guild-2

Are you a 5E D&D Superfan? Then the DMs Guild is for you! Check out this marketplace of fantasy ideas for the latest in what D&D fans are writing, all using an official license from Wizards of the Coast and the official Forgotten Realms setting! Every episode, Rich scours the Guild for the most clever and ingenious options to add to your campaign. 

DMs Guild Masterpieces: Death in the Cornfields

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 2.45.42 PM

There’s something about a side quest that gives me a great deal of satisfaction, both as a DM and a player. Maybe it’s a lifetime of playing video games like Dragon Age, where I’d wrap up everything I could before moving onto the main storyline. But even in a tabletop RPG, sometimes I just want to skip out on the epic plot and deal with something minor, interesting, and most importantly, finite. But making that something worth playing can be tough to do.

A side quest needs to reinforce the themes of the campaign and allow for character growth, while not really advancing the overall story. So it can’t just be a random villain-of-the-week, because stopping that villain just stalls the plot without adding to the overall sense of lore in the game. And I don’t play D&D to live in the world of CSI. I need some serious character advancement, even when we’re taking a break from the plot.

So I was extremely happy to see the release of a fantastic standalone adventure from DMs Guild author Merric Blackman. Death in the Cornfields is a horror themed short story, which any DM can run in just a single night. And it should certainly be played at night! Merric writes in his summary that his Barovian-inspired adventure “does not have a happy ending.” With a warning like that, you should probably play it by candlelight.

Without giving too much away, let me just say that Death in the Cornfields does two things very well. First, it’s a great side trek into Ravenloft. It’s mysterious without being too big of a mystery for one session. It’s concise, creepy, and best of all, complete. Merric has done an excellent job telling a full story in such a short moment. Players are going to remember this one.

And really, that’s my favorite part of this adventure. By ensuring from the outset that there won’t be a happy ending, players are forced to confront how an unhappy conclusion affects their characters. The session after you play Death in the Cornfields will certainly start with a conversation about how everyone dealt with the horrific events of that dark day. Small events that lead to meaningful character growth? I couldn’t ask for anything more perfect from a little side quest.

Death in the Cornfields is an outstanding short adventure that will surely bring some mystery and horror to your campaign! Listen in for more on why it caught my attention in Episode 175!

dungeon-masters-guild-2

Are you a 5E D&D Superfan? Then the DMs Guild is for you! Check out this marketplace of fantasy ideas for the latest in what D&D fans are writing, all using an official license from Wizards of the Coast and the official Forgotten Realms setting! Every episode, Rich scours the Guild for the most clever and ingenious options to add to your campaign. 

DMs Guild Masterpieces: 5E Player Cheat Sheet

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.34.32 PMI’m a big fan of introducing games to new players. Whether that’s running Pathfinder Society or Phoenix: Dawn Command, or even just Settlers of Catan, I want to bring my love of games to someone who’s never seen it before. And an amazing trend in board gaming is to create a brief rules summary that every player can keep in front of them during the game. Finding out the solution for yourself is always a better option than simply being told the answer… I mean, that’s a professional teacher answer, sure. But since I’m a professional teacher, there you are.

So look, RPGs. Your books are enormous. Massive. And while that gives me so many options to play with, it also gives me too many choices to show to a new player before the first session. I need help. I need a document that’s short and outlines the important rules a new player is likely to need in a game.

I need the D&D 5E Player’s Cheat Sheet by Sean Wickett.

This document is a single page, front and back, which outlines most of the rules your character will need in a combat situation. All of the Actions, Conditions, Spell Effects, and more are all laid out in a simple fashion where anyone can find their answers in record time. Even for experienced players, it’s such a handy reference that I know I’ll be printing it out every time I play from now on.

Is there anything new in this guide? Absolutely not, but that was never the intention. The Cheat Sheet is just the simplest reference outside of memorizing the PHB that I’ve ever seen. And with its clear layout and structure, it’s a steal at a Pay What You Want price. This may be the most useful document I’ve grabbed yet from DMs Guild.

The D&D 5E Player’s Cheat Sheet is an excellent resource for DMs and players alike who just want to reference the rules in a quick and easy fashion. Listen in for more on why it caught my eye in Episode 174!

dungeon-masters-guild-2

Are you a 5E D&D Superfan? Then the DMs Guild is for you! Check out this marketplace of fantasy ideas for the latest in what D&D fans are writing, all using an official license from Wizards of the Coast and the official Forgotten Realms setting! Every episode, Rich scours the Guild for the most clever and ingenious options to add to your campaign. 

DMs Guild Masterpieces: Adversaries & Allies

A few weeks back, I decided to try my hand Adversaries and Alliesat a brand spanking new campaign world. I’ve played a lot of pre-written adventures set in Golarion and Forgotten Realms in the last five years or so, and it turns out that I’ve lost my knack for building NPCs. Personalities? Fine. But if one of my players wants to make a Diplomacy check, I need to know what kind of stats my little shopkeeper has! And making it up on the spot always left me feeling a little cold. So books like Paizo’s NPC Codex easily find a place on my shelf. 

And yet, I felt a bit of trepidation when my gaze landed on Adversaries & Allies by Dan Layman-Kennedy. Sometimes, an NPC guide is too focused on building commoners rather than villains. But if it swings too far the other way, you lose the ability to populate your world. Without a solid mix of both, an NPC book loses its usefulness to a DM like me. Would this 38 page document be able to make the cut?

Are you holding your breath? Go ahead and let it out, because Dan figured out the ideal balance.

Look, this book is filled with fantastic NPCs. Your world certainly needs sailors, farmers, rulers, and scholars. But it’s also going to need to fill out every rank of an evil wizards’ guild. Or a host of rogues and fighters. You need skalds, oracles, masterminds, and diabolists. Some of the entries even have variants just in case you find yourself in the mood for something a little different.

Finally, like many of my favorite DMs Guild resources, Adversaries & Allies includes two pages of design notes from Dan about his choices throughout the document. Dan seems to be well versed in the kinds of characters a DM truly needs to make a world seem filled with developed characters, even if the DM doesn’t quite have the time to round out every single NPC. This is clearly a labour of love, and I am so satisfied with the results.

Adversaries & Allies is an excellent resource for anyone looking to build their own world and fill it with a horde of realistic NPCs. Listen in for more on why it caught my eye in Episode 173!

dungeon-masters-guild-2

Are you a 5E D&D Superfan? Then the DMs Guild is for you! Check out this marketplace of fantasy ideas for the latest in what D&D fans are writing, all using an official license from Wizards of the Coast and the official Forgotten Realms setting! Every episode, Rich scours the Guild for the most clever and ingenious options to add to your campaign.