Monday, September 30, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 30: Best DM You've Had

"The road goes ever on and...screw it, I'm outta here!"
Well, today's the final day of this particular "blog challenge" meme. I'm not going to try and fool myself and believe that this series was of any great value to readers. But perhaps it had value for me as an individual. It's definitely given me some things to think about with regard to my own gaming career.
Yes, believe it or not, I got something out of this challenge of questionable value. I mean, just who started this meme again?! I'm not sure...and I try not to dwell on the fact that I don't know who started it! I feel quite like a lemming when I think too much about that...
ANYway...on to the final day topic: Best DM I've had? Hmm, well, I'm going to say everyone DM I've had has been the best. How so? Well, they've all taught me something about DMing, and therefore have allowed me to develop my own DMing skills.
I am thankful for the bad DMs I've had, because they taught me what NOT to do! And then there's the good DMs, like Rich and Bill from my long-running Wednesday night group at All Things Fun in West Berlin, NJ.
So, there you have it, folks! Back to, uh, whatever you'd call my "regularly irregular" posting schedule!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 29: What number you always seem to roll on a d20

I googled d20.

I always seem to roll the wonderful number 3 on the old 20-sider. A lot of good it does me.

That is all.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 28: Character you will never play again

Well, as I've said before, I haven't played all that much in my time as a roleplayer. But, if I had to choose, I would say I probably won't play a Castles & Crusades bard again. I'm not really that fond of bards in the first place, but I thought it would be fun to try the C&C version. I just didn't feel satisfied by the abilities the C&C bard has at lower levels. Then again, by that token, I suppose I haven't given the class a try at higher levels... Oh well. That's all I have to say about that.

Friday, September 27, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 27: Character you want to play in the future


You know, come to think of it, I don't think I've ever played a plain old wizard/mage/arcane spellcaster. Again, as I've said before, I've mostly been a GM. When I've been a player, I've usually played fighters, paladins, rangers, or bards. Yeah, I think a wizardly character is in my future...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 25: Favorite Magic Item

Wow...that's a lot of blasting!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 24: Favorite Energy Type


30 Day D&D Challenge, Days 22 & 23: Favorite (and Least Favorite) Monster Overall

OK, I still need to catch up and these two seemed like a natural pairing, so here goes:


You ready for some more Dragonlance love?


Dragonlance gave us "dragonborn" well before 4th Edition.

Least favorite monster overall: Green slimes. Never had any use for slimes. Perhaps I had a bad experience with them while playing that old Nintendo game Dragon Warrior. I can't remember.

As lame as they look.

Monday, September 23, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 21: Favorite Dragon Type/Color

So, once again I'm playing catch-up with this challenge. Oh well, I am unapologetic! I went on an adventure with the family that included the Sweetest Place on Earth (not Willy Wonka's factory, but still pretty cool), and then we found ourselves at the very excellent Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire!
We had an incredible time at both places, but I'm particularly fond of the Faire, having been there many times over the years, as well as working there on one weekend around the time I graduated from high school. If you're ever in the Lancaster, PA area, do yourself a favor and visit the PA Ren Faire (check out their website if you're cursious about it).
Anyway, on to the Day 21 entry: BLACK DRAGONS! Ready for some more Dragonlance love? Here 'tis: I've had a thing for the evil black dragons since I first read about the dread Khisanth, rising out of the well in Xak Tsaroth to scourge the Companions of the Lance! The group would later encounter, and ultimately slay, the dragon in the bowels of the ruined city. But while she lived, old Khisanth was quite the bitch!

OK, posts for Days 22 and 23 coming later today! Stay tuned...

Friday, September 20, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 20: Favorite Monster (Humanoid)

Krynnish hobgoblins

Let's get some Dragonlance on the blog today, shall we?

Let me give props to the hobgoblins of Krynn! Ah, Krynn, where there is not an orc in sight. Oh no! On Krynn, we have goblins and their larger, stronger hobgoblin kin. And let's not forget the hulking Krynnish ogre! With all that evil humanoid goodness, who needs orcs?

On other campaign worlds there are goblins and orcs, and the hobgoblin does not appear all that often (or so it seems to me). This makes things difficult, such as when you must tell your players that goblins speak goblin and orcs speak orc! Why two different languages? If you have goblins and hobgoblins, BAM! Both speak goblin, as their names imply! No more embarrassing moments where orcs speak goblin! That makes no sense at all!

Oh hobgoblin, oft forgotten hobgoblin! How I admire thee! Who could forget the wonderfully inept Fewmaster Toede of the Dragonlance Chronicles:

And of all the Spiderman villains, I always liked the Hobgoblin the best. I mean, come on, he has a Halloween theme going, right down to the jack o' lantern-shaped bombs:

Yes, my favorite humanoid is the hobgoblin. Especially because this wonderful bit of weird came up when I was searching for hobgoblin images on the internet:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 19: Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)

Make mine paraelementals! Specifically, the magma elemental!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 18: Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)


30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 17: Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)

The animal we all wanted airbrushed on the sides of our conversion vans back in the day: WOLVES!

Monday, September 16, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 16: Favorite Monster (Aberration)

"Mmm, your face looks delicious!"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 15: Favorite Monster (Undead)

Oh yeah. It's Dragonlance time again. If you ain't already noticed, you should get used to it around this blog.
So, Lord Soth. And by extension, the type of undead we call death knights. That's what I'm talking about.
There's something about a formerly good knight who is tempted to conduct acts so heinous that he is cursed to the eternal torment of unlife.

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 14: Favorite NPC

I missed posting this Day 14 entry yesterday, so I'm doing a two-fer today, while I watch the Eagles and quaff a lovely Leinenkugel Oktoberfest!
Speaking of libations, that brings me to my favorite NPC: the innkeeper! Ah, how many innkeepers have I depicted during my GMing career! Fat ones, thin ones...bald ones and ones that sport unruly mops of hair...honest ones and ones that would rob you blind while you weren't looking...gregarious ones and ones that would do more glaring than speaking...those that had an earnest desire to please customers and those who were falsely fawning, hating you secretly behind servile smiles...males and females...on and on and on. Most recently, there was an innkeeper with a preference for elven ladies, and his vengeful wife who would applaud when he was slapped for his lecherous ways.
There are those that disparage the cliché of "you find yourselves in a tavern" in D&D-type roleplaying, but I find it a comfort to most players. And it gives me an opportunity to try out a new type of innkeeper.

Friday, September 13, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 13: Favorite Trap/Puzzle

This is an easy one for me, because my answer is EVERY TRAP IN EVERY GRIMTOOTH'S TRAPS EVER PUBLISHED.
Seriously. Every single one. From the simplest to the ones that would make Rube Goldberg weep with joy.
I may not have used many of them, but the books are a damned hoot to read. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 12: Favorite Dungeon Type/Location

"Oh, that looks like a nice place to rest! Let's see who's home!"

Everybody seems manic for megadungeons these days, eh? Sure, I like dungeons as much as the next red-blooded roleplayer. But, of equal interest to yours truly is the castle! Call it an "inverted dungeon"! 
More specifically, there's the haunted castle! To me, there's no better location to inject a bit of gothic horror into your game.
There are, of course, a goodly number of old-school D&D examples of castles. Beyond the obvious infamous D&D locations such as Castle Ravenloft and Castle Greyhawk (which really seems to be a "front door" for a dungeon system, but you get the idea), there's also more recent OSR examples such as Castle of the Mad Archmage. Heck, I daresay the Temple of Elemental Evil is also something of a castle...right? For added inspiration, seek out gothic horror literature such as the famous "Castle of Otranto."
Even though there's something to be said for the anticipatory dread of a dungeon, I think the ruins of a castle can be just as intimidating. Whereas a dungeon can bestow the fear of the unknown hazards that lurk beneath the earth, a dungeon can instill fear and foreboding simply by its imposing appearance. Here is not just the rumor of twisting passageways filled with danger in the form of traps and monsters. Upon first glimpsing the brooding, towering walls and towers of a fortress, one is immediately hit with a physical manifestation of the dangers to come. The structure itself becomes almost a foreshadowing, the first "encounter" of the adventure.
So, please share! What castles have you encountered on your adventures?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 11: Favorite Adventure

This is tough for me, because to be honest I haven't used that many published adventures over the years. I've used them more in the last couple years, during my return to roleplaying, but this still only amounts to a handful of adventures.
And frankly, most of the adventures I used were serviceable rather than extraordinary. Meaning, I embellished them a lot, which is my philosophy on how to run published adventures. I use them as a foundation, as inspiration, and rarely rely on boxed text, the exact monster stats, etc. I suppose that's how most GMs worth their salt run published adventures, so there's nothing exceptional about that.
If I have to choose, I'd say that running The Keep on the Borderlands on Free RPG Day 2011 was the most fun I've had running a module.
I think most of my enjoyment came from knowing that I was running a classic adventure, if not THE archetypal adventure. Yes, I know I was basically using AD&D (via Castles & Crusades) to run a module for Basic D&D, but whatever! We all know it just takes a little bit of tweaking to do such a thing.
Another joy came from the simple act of reading The Keep on the Borderlands. Even the name of the adventure is evocative, conjuring images of a remote outpost on the edge of an unexplored and dangerous wilderness. As stated, I didn't use many modules as a teen, so this was an opportunity to go back and read something that I missed back in my youth. This is especially true because I started out with AD&D, and much later than many bloggers (I got into RPGs in the late 80's).
So, Keep on the Borderlands is definitely my favorite adventure!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 10: Craziest Thing(s) I've Seen

Imagine this with a lot of treasure piled in it.
Back in spring and summer 2011, I played my half-elf paladin Drance in a City State of the Invincible Overlord campaign (via Castles & Crusades rules). There were some pretty fun times during that campaign!
I have to say, though, that there wasn't just one craziest thing/moment from that campaign (which was basically the first continuous fantasy RPG campaign I've played in for...decades!). No, indeed there were many memorable moments that perhaps did stray into the "crazy" realm.
I think there were several factors behind why we got up to so many wacky hijinks during that campaign. One reason was the incredible GM we had in a fellow blogger named Rich, who was as creative and open-minded a GM as I've ever seen.
The other reason was that, at the time, our group of regular gamers was just getting together, just getting to know each other. That always seems to be a heady time, because you're testing the boundaries of what other gamers are open to doing during an adventure.
Also with regard to meeting new gamers, there's the simple, joyous feeling of encountering people that are kindred spirits, with which you click and can have a good time. People you can relax around and just have fun. That can be a rarity in the table-top RPG world, and we're pretty lucky.
Anyway, onto the hijinks. Perhaps the following things won't be crazy to some of you maniacs out there, but hey, it's all a matter of perspective, right?
So, here are some moments I cherish from that campaign: 
  • Setting everything we could on fire. If we thought it could burn, we torched it. I think the first thing we burned down was a tannery. Probably covering up evidence of some misdeed of ours.
  • Inciting a feud between two noble houses, which worked out much better than expected... perhaps a bit too well...given that we threw most of the city into chaos for a while!
  • Seeing what happens when 1st level NPCs get level-drained. In Rich's world, they burst into purple smoke.
  • Beating a "big bad," which was some sort of powerful undead (who turned the above-mentioned NPCs to purple smoke) and stealing what was, apparently, a funereal boat/barge from his hideout. Said barge was loaded with treasure. So, of course, our group wound up wheeling the boat as sneakily as possible (as sneaky as you can be wheeling an entire boat around) through the streets of the City State at night.
There are other moments, but right now Perhaps some of my fellow Wednesday-Nighters can chime in with other tales? Some have been know to frequent this here blog from time to time. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

So, I got Playing at the World from the library... know, that book about the origins of wargames and RPGs? Well, I borrowed it from the Texas A&M University library, to be precise. The funny thing is, I live in South Jersey.

Welcome to the wonderful world of interlibrary loan!
Or maybe it's not so wonderful. Because, well, you'd think that they'd give me, oh, at least three weeks (the usual timeframe for checking out a book) to read the thing. Note that the book (correction: TOME!) is over 600 pages of dense, dense text. How dense? Here's a typical two-page spread:

Wow. I really didn't know how, um, scholarly (text book-y?) Playing at the World was going to be. Oh well, I'm going to get through as much as I can before I need to give it back.
Oh, right, speaking of giving it back...well, how wonderful is it that my local library system has a delightfully cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all lending policy with regard to interlibrary loan? Meaning that no matter how big or dense a book may be, all you get is two weeks. So, you can get Playing at the World or, let's say, Oh the Thinks you can Think by Dr. Seuss (a personal fave). It doesn't matter that one dwarfs the other. You get two weeks.
Nevermind how much it must have cost the library to ship Playing at the World to my local branch for pick-up, etc. Right? Two weeks. Makes total sense.
Some of you might already be saying "go buy the book you cheap bastard if you want ample time to read it." Sure, sure. Of course I could do that.
Or, you know, libraries could start making sense in how they lend books.
Enough bitching, I have reading to do...wish me luck.

"Two weeks!"

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 9: Favorite Character I Haven't Played

Hate to see you go, love to watch you leave!

Why, a drow anti-paladin, of COURSE!
Heh. I kid, I kid.
A couple guys I knew when I was a teen playing 2E had some gonzo characters, but a particular fave (of at least one of the guys) was a drow anti-paladin. The guy was also fond of jumping up from his chair during combat encounters and showing his character's exact movements for every attack.
ANYway, a favorite character I haven't played? Again, I mostly GM, so my limited time as a player has, therefore, limited the number of characters I've played in my time. Also, I've depicted so many NPCs in my time that there isn't a character I haven't stepped into.
But, if I had to choose, it would have to be some sort of assassin-type character that wasn't just a skulker in the dark. He would be equally proficient in appearing in plain sight as a smooth talker, casing potential targets face-to-face as well as from the shadows.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 8: Favorite Character


Well, I have to say, I've mostly been a GM over the majority of my roleplaying career. So, there aren't a lot of characters that I've played for me to choose from. If I have to pick one, though, it might just be a character I played very recently; i.e. a character I've played since I've come back to gaming. The character in question? A half-elf paladin called Drance! He was a bit grittier and world-weary than your stereotypical paladin. I played him in a City State of the Invincible Overlord campaign (using Castles & Crusades). Drance had a bit of a sarcastic relationship with the party's mage, and the two shared barbed exchanges most of the time. Good times!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 7: Favorite Edition

New Edition, of course!
Oh, what edition of D&D? Sorry for the confusion.
My favorite edition of D&D is....
I've written about my love for C&C before, as well as how "it's all D&D to me." I don't care what you call the game you're playing. If it has the D&D "DNA" (i.e. based on D&D mechanics), then you are playing D&D. And C&C is my preferred version of AD&D, these days. It does what I need it to do, period. And it's the spiritual successor to AD&D. If you've never checked it out, do yourself a favor and take a look!

Friday, September 6, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 6: Favorite Deity

Lithe, dark, and EVIL!
My favorite deity is Takhisis from the wonderful world of Dragonlance! Who, I suppose, is also known as Tiamat in other planes of existence. If she can't seduce you to to her cause, she'll just destroy you! And she has five different breath weapons to do that destroying! All shall love her and despair!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 5: Favorite Dice

A sorta bad pic of my lovelies...
See the pic above for my favorite dice! The image is rather poor, I suppose, but believe me when I say those babies are an awesome shade of "mystical" purple, with all sorts of "swirlies" and sheen and stuff like that there!
Also shown are two silvery six-siders that are literally heavy metal! I got those puppies from Noble Knight Games, and they are hefty indeed. I daresay I could take down any GM screen with those bad boys!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 4: Favorite Gameworld

If I had to pick a campaign world that I've used in my campaigns - in other words, a world I've actually experienced at the game table - I would have to say the Forgotten Realms. Yes, warts, baggage, and all. Say what you will about the Realms, but it's got a lot of good stuff to it, a richness and depth from decades of existence. I know, Drizzt is a Mary Sue, the Time of Troubles was a bit ridiculous, etc. But I love the Realms in all it's iterations.
Well, perhaps the recent Spellplague iteration is where I draw the line.
But, I'm hoping for some Realms "redemption" with the new Sundering "reboot" coming out in the (near?) future. 
I never owned the legendary "Grey Box" version, but when I ran my recent Realms campaign I used the 3E version. And I consider that campaign to be my most successful effort, at least when it comes to my return to the table-top within the last few years.
However...all that said, I have some of the old TSR materials for Fritz Leiber's Nehwon that I've been dying to use for the longest time! It is very intriguing to me when I think about running a campaign set in the city of Lankhmar and the world beyond! That's definitely on my RPG bucket list.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 3: Favorite Playable Class

I like playing paladins. Probably because they've got a touch of cleric-ness without people coming to expect you to be the stereotype of the healbot. Also because they're more of a fighter than the cleric. I always considered both clerics and paladins to be holy warriors, but paladins are more warrior and "less holy." A paladin just seems to be more of a leader of men, who can lead the charge into battle. Whereas the cleric is the holy warrior that needs to be in a support role (i.e. behind better fighters, including the paladin). Oh, and who doesn't want to be immune to disease and emanate an aura of power, right?

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 2: Favorite Playable Race

Tanis, sans beard.
You have to remember, when going into these blog memes, there are those that think they're not worthwhile. And you know what? They might just be right! But I've never been the most prudent fellow, and have been know to do some corny-ass stuff, so...onward with the post for Day 2! *

* I know I'm still a day behind. Working on my Day 3 post for later today, in order to catch up.

I love the half-elf. This affection might have started with Tanis Half-Elven, tormented co-protagonist of Dragonlance fame. I suppose, like any socially awkward youth, I related to the character's internal struggles.

In the image above, the ears are way too pointy for my tastes. They scream "full elf" to me. I like my half-elf ears to be a lot more subtle.

Anyway, the half-elf also appeals because in 1E AD&D, as well as 2E and my beloved Castles & Crusades, they have some elf abilities but not the weaknesses. OK, I'm generalizing quite a bit with that statement. I'm not an "RPG scholar" and I don't have the books in front of me (and for the purposes of this post, I don't feel an urge to study too hard), but here's what I'm going on based on memory (which could very well be pretty sketchy):
  • In 1E, the half-elf is a bit less restricted in class choice compared to the elf.
  • 2E introduced the concept of elves getting +1 to Dex and -1 to Con. Half-elves did not suffer this, but instead the whole "child of two races, accepted by neither" was reinforced. Cry me a river. I'll take a "roleplaying incentive" over a mechanical penalty any day. 
  • Castles & Crusades did a sort of Middle-Earth thing with half-elves. Meaning, they can choose to take after the elven or human side, and doing so gives different benefits (see Elrond and his, uh, dead brother who chose to lean toward the human side). Translation = made half-elves even cooler.

Again, for any of the above, I welcome corrections/expansions of what I've written.
Now, over the years, I haven't played much D&D, but rather mostly served as GM. But those few times I've played, I've mostly gone with half-elves. There was one half-elf ranger in there, of course, as cliched as that is (did I mention I'm a Dragonlance fan?). Most recently, I played a half-elf paladin (named Drance, of course) in a Castles & Crusades-based City-State of the Invincible Overlord campaign.
Anyway, that's me and half-elves. Onward to the next challenge post!

Monday, September 2, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 1: How You Got Started

Aww yeah, meme time! I KNOW, I'm a day late starting. Whatever. I'll do my Day 2 post today as well. Happy?
So, how I got started. Well, I've already written about that extensively in my testimonial. To be more precise, you can read about my early roleplaying years in the first post in that testimonial series. In reading other people's Day 1 posts, I'm feeling rather like a youngun, since I didn't really get started with RPGs until about 1987 or so. But please, if you are interested to know more about my roleplaying background, read the post mentioned above. And please let me know if  you're doing the challenge so I can read about your gamer origins!