Gen Con 2016

Just like that the thunderous rolling of thousands of dice has finally ceased as the 49th Gen Con has come to a close. Once again I had the privilege of attending, and once again I more than enjoyed myself as I dabbled in old traditions and fresh wonders. Every year has its reasons to be memorable, and maybe it’s simply because I am fresh from attending but this one feels like it may go down as one of the best ever, well… for me at least. I’ll try to unpack everything as best I can but to be honest, with so much having occurred, I’m certain to leave a few things out.

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WEDNESDAY

Once again I had the pleasure of hooking up with the gang from the Gamerstable Podcast (whom I understand will be ending their podcast run in roughly 20 episodes WHAT!?) for some shared driving, room, and board. After a lengthy goodbye to my wife and two lovely kids (I missed them terribly all con), I made the trek to Illinois for the carpool. We left mid-morning and made Indianapolis in good time and the first thing we noticed was dear sweet Drowzee was Indy a hotbed for Pokestops and ‘mons! After a quick check in at the Sheraton we were off to The Ram!

The Ram has become the go to watering hole for the yearly Gamerstable meetup, and historically I’ve always had something else to do that night. This year I was free and clear to join the festivities though and I’m certainly glad to have done so. Getting the chance to catch up with the guys and gals of Gamerstable was a highlight for me the entire convention. I live within and hour or two of most of them but typically during the year life gets in the way of spending all that much together. I spent the night meeting up with old friends and made a number of new ones. Highlights include having the entire Of Dreams and Magic (ODAM) team come by to pay a visit, meeting Pete Petrusha in person finally, and Toju…TOJU my awesome buddy, and fellow Vagabond Gamer, from Australia that I finally met in person as well!

The Ram was highlighting the new EATdition from Privateer Press this year! ;P

The Ram was highlighting the new EATdition from Privateer Press this year! ;P

The Ram was an awesome hangout spot but that was the only place I needed to stop by Wednesday night. So I took a leisurely walk down to the Union Station Ballroom to catch up with Michael Ross from The RPG Academy. It felt like I was walking into a pocket plane wherein AcadeCon lay within Gen Con. I happened to walk into numerous games already in progress and, not seeing an opening anytime soon, I made due with some brief “nice to see-yas” and made my way back to The Ram to finish the night. I had kind of ditched the ODAM team anyway, so I wanted to get back and resume chatting with them, and others.

The night ended with a glance at the Will Call line and a hearty “Hell no I ain’t standing in that!”. I made my way back to the hotel and collapsed, ready to awaken in like 4-5 more hours to jump in the Press line!

THURSDAY

Thursday morning came real early for me. I woke at 5 a.m. and quietly stole from my hotel room into the dark morning. This year someone made the decision to limit press access to the con floor to just the first 90 press badge holders to jump in line that morning at the press room and I wanted that early access. As I was walking to the line I noticed there was an absence of a line for Will Call so I walked up and got my tickets in less than five mins (looks like skipping it the night before was the right call). I was fortunate to get in line as the number 29th line guy and Michael Ross was number 27! He willingly slid back a spot in line so we could chat about our excitement for the convention. The press line is always a fun time, I get to see a lot of familiar faces. Later on a few other buddies showed up further down the line so Michael and I had some fun tweeting back and forth with Rohit from Gamersplane and Bryce. Bryce made a crack about my beardless face & it hurt me deeply.

Press Badge in hand I realized I left my camera back at the room (I’m really good at this “reporting thing”) so I hoofed it back to the hotel. The trip back and forth from the hotel clocked in at .6 of a mile one way. Perfect distance in my opinion, just far enough away to dissuade me from spending too much time there but close enough for a walk.

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The early access line(s)

After grabbing my camera I made it back to the early access line just in time to discover the snafu that had occurred regarding it. Two lines had formed, I had no way of discerning which was the “true line” so I made the call to just sit near a wall outlet and charge my phone figuring I’d get in early no matter what line I was in. This marks the only time at the convention I ever noticed people actually seeming frustrated enough to cast aspersions on others. I totally got it too, see most of the early access folks were VIG’s (Very Important Gamers), they had paid good money for the privilege of early access and they wanted to ensure they got to the booths they were interested in in order to buy the games they feared were limited. So this two line business meant that effectively many were cutting in front of others. I wanted no part in that, had no interest in buying things right away anyhow.

As and aside, and I’ve struggled with whether or not to even bring this up, I feel Gen Con has an issue with the various access levels that they give Press. Now, being a member of the press pool at Gen Con it may seem like I’m complaining from a bit of a “first world standing” but hear me out. Right now the best access the press has to those on the exhibit room floor is the one hour early access on day one of the Con. We are given the same one hour that the VIG’s and various other specialty groups are given, and this year only 90 of us were even given that. The VIG’s are there to shop, they are going to storm the doors and fill up lines and time with the biggest names out there the second they get through those doors. While I have no qualms talking with some of the smaller groups out there, this is an impediment to our ability to catch some of the bigger fish ad hoc. We are certainly capable of setting up our own interview times, mine you, but it just feels like we should have a bit more access. In my opinion Press should be allowed in an hour early or an hour later on some other day. Give the VIG’s their initial day and let press have a day all their own. Maybe even one hour early on Sunday. Right now, other than the novelty (though I really love and appreciate that novelty!), there isn’t a lot of reason for press to be in there with the horde of VIG’s.

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So lovely

Moving on. That first hour on the floor was nice, if not particularly useful. I got to take in the sights without the crush of people you usually run into. I also noticed immediately that the fine folks of Gen Con made huge efforts to lower the crowds with a large increase in exhibit hall space! Later on in the con weekend I noticed the extra space made for a much more open exhibit floor.  I did get to speak with the creators of one particularly interesting game I’d never seen before. Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok has actually been around in some way since 1993 but it’s most current edition originates in 2005 and now has a second edition that came out in 2012. The books are gorgeous and the mechanics rely on the pulling of runes rather than die rolls, this style is called the “Runic Game System” or RGS. Looks like they were there repping their new book FotN:Ragnarok: Denizens of the North on top of their older, core books. Man these books looked very cool and I wish I’d been able to lay down cash right then and there!

The early access hour evaporated very quickly and after watching the hordes descend onto the con floor I grabbed some lunch, headed back to the hotel to chill for a bit, and then grabbed my Orc Stomp 5k packet! I’m always excited about the 5k, despite some thinking I’m nuts for even doing it. It’s fun just chatting with others getting ready for it too, so packet pickup is a nice easy going experience. After that I hit the exhibit hall floor for just a little longer and then it was back to the hotel yet again to get myself all dressed up for the annual Gamerstable Award Dinner at St. Elmos Steakhouse.

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Eric presenting Monte Cook the coveted Gamerstable Award

This year’s award recipient was Monte Cook, and his plus one was none other than Shanna Germain. I am consistently impressed by the ability Eric Austley has to draw in big names for this award, his recipients all deserve the accolades too. Monte and Shanna were excellent dinner table companions, despite the fact Monte convinced Shanna and I to try a Sichuan Button.  Don’t get me wrong, I like trying new things but… let’s just say it was not for me, not big into “electrocuting” my tongue. There were numerous folks I enjoyed chatting with in attendance as well. I got to meet Chris Hussey, in fact I sat next to him having a pleasurable conversation for about an hour before I finally realized who he was! I was able to catch up with my buddy Scott, The Angry GM. Running back into Michael Ross & Pete Petrusha was great too. Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this was the prime spot to run into Eric (and of course most of the Gamerstable crew; Shannon, Jayson, Mike, Dan, etc.) who was apparently super busy all con because he disappeared like a ghost after that night!

In the afterglow of the dinner I offered to run a pickup game of Savage Worlds: Sundered Skies for a group of us in attendance and I had a blast doing so. I witnessed a new friend of mine, Jason Butz, roll up one of the biggest exploding die continuations ever. His sorcerer meant to just freeze a railing in order to bust it and the grappling hooks attached to it but ended up freezing the entire side of the ship! They lost the cannons on that side of the airship but the pirates who were after them lost 3/4 of the men attempting to board. It was crazy!

Realizing it was midnight and Shannon and I both had to be up at 5 a.m. to run a 5k we called it a night.

FRIDAY

A mere 4-5 hours after going to sleep I found my eyes creaking open and somehow willed myself from my bed to get out the door and head to the Orc Stomp 5k. The second I was out in the cool morning air I found myself waking up instantly, it was a damn fine morning. As with every other time I walked to and from the hotel I casually had Pokemon Go running to grab stops and the myriad of Pokemon that crawled across the city streets of Indy. Many feel like you can’t truly enjoy your surroundings while playing the game but I find I can easily glance at the game off and on while taking in the sites quite well. not to mention I was made aware of some cool historical markers in Downtown Indy that I would have never paid any mind to before. Somehow I wasn’t even aware the Capitol building was right there near the convention center but, I know now!

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The Orc Stomp 5k was held, once again, along the White River Trail. Honestly this is one of the most gorgeous 5k runs I do every year. I met up with a fellow blogger friend of mine, Rob, who two years ago introduced me to the race by letting me run it under one of the free passes obtained by his sponsorship of the run. It was great catching up with him while we all prepped for the race. We had a few laughs about the last time I ran, where I overslept, drove frantically to the race, and then posted my best 5k time ever (something like 27 mins) just trying to finish the already started race! I enjoyed all the costumes immensely and reminded myself I’d like to dress up one year, I then found out that one of the costumed groups actually had a role in the run itself. The “Raptors” were associated with Exile Game Studio, specifically their game Hallow Earth Expeditions. As you can see in the image they dressed up like Raptors and “chased” us throughout the race. Essentially there were two main raptor types, fast and not as fast. If you beat the faster raptor you’d get a gold ribbon, and if you beat the next fastest you’d get a green ribbon. I loved this concept because I’m never going to win a 5k but I can sure beat at least one of them raptors!

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Waiting for the race to start was pretty fun. We discovered the starting line camped two Pokestops and we made use of them while chatting with fellow racers. I never got the name of the racer wielding the giant mallet, but I learned the next day after speaking with my buddies at Dog Might Games that the mallet was theirs, it was pretty damn heavy, and the guy who held it through the entire race had won the 5k the year before. Needless to say he didn’t win this year but man what an achievement to run 3.1 miles carrying that monstrous thing! Soon, the race was off. I made the mistake of running the thing as if I were actually in shape and earned myself a pulled calf muscle for my hubris. Still, I clocked a time of 33 mins, only three mins longer than my average. I was a blast and I even earned myself a green ribbon! I stuck around for the rest of my buddies finishing the race and then we headed back to the hotel.

I was very fortunate to have plenty of time to shower and ready myself for a very exciting portion of my day, the RPG Academy Network Panel.We had a decent crop of network folks at the con so Michael had decided to set up an open panel. It was a lot of fun, the podcasters fielded the majority of the questions early on because, let’s face it, podcasting is sexy as hell. Later in the session though we started delving into some blog, game mastering, advocacy, and regular old gaming questions that I was more than happy to jump in on. Little pleases me more than chatting with others who hold a reverence for this hobby and I enjoyed every moment of it (finally got to meet @theworstDM in person too!). Not to mention after the panel we got to get a little bit of gaming in as Senda and Emily introduced us to their 5 min RPG concept, and by “introduced” I mean slaughtering us mercilessly one after another…in 5 mins or less! This was recorded so you might later hear our downfalls.

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Left to right: Chris, Lucas, Senda, Michael, Emily, Myself

After lunch I stopped by the press room to debate drinking coffee or going back to the hotel for some sleep. While there I ran into Michael Long from Tribality and had a nice chat, then saw Rob Stith in the hall. By then the general lack of sleep had finally caught up to me and I trudged back to the hotel for a nap. Sadly this meant I ended up sleeping through the Phoenix Dawn Command & Shes’s a Super Geek panels that I wanted to attend but I know I needed it!

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I did make it to one of the panels I scheduled that day though. Privateer Press put on a development panel regarding Warmachine and Hordes. In years past I’ve attended panels by these folks regarding new upcoming products so it was interesting to listen in on one that comes on the heels of the major release of the third edition of the game. Many in the crowd, myself included, were hoping for a reveal of the newest faction that has been teased for some time now but we were left wanting. The majority of the panel consisted of some discussion regarding the way they go about creating a concept and the various channels it then goes through before becoming a retail piece. I could tell the room wanted to know more about upcoming items but frankly they didn’t have a ton to show off. If you recall two years ago, in the Unleashed panel, they had computer issues and luckily were able to use my computer to show off their images and such. Well, they had computer issues again and this time I did not bring my own so i couldn’t save the day. One tease we got for the new faction was that they intend to have them use feats completely differently from the other factions, but this is all still in development.  I asked about the Roleplaying Game (because of course I did) and I learned they want to expand on Piracy some more, which sounds fantastic!

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One thing I knew I had to do at Gen Con this year was visit with my friends behind Trapdoor Technologies and the Playbook app. In case you are unaware they have now aligned themselves with Paizo and Pathfinder (their app is even more polished  now than ever before). They were holed away in the Sagamore Ballroom with the rest of the massive Pathfinder realm. The place was truly daunting in size. It was great catching up with Chris and

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The last scheduled event I had for the night was the big one for me, the ENnies. If you are a regular reader you know this but this year I had the esteemed pleasure of actually being nominated for the Best Website category. I was pretty damn certain I wasn’t going to win even the Silver ENnie but I knew I needed to go to the event if only to see my site’s banner flash across the big screen in the front (which I totally neglected to get a photo of… luckily someone else did)! The best part for me was when my site popped up on the screen Kevin Kulp made the comment that my banner was the “Happiest he’d ever seen”, high praise to Wes of Nameless PC’s! Well folks, I didn’t win anything but I am certainly excited that I’ll forever be an ENnie nominated writer. Can’t take that from me eh? I sat there just long enough to see if Michael won Best Podcast for The RPG Academy (sadly he did not), and decided to catch the rest of my group at Giorgio’s Pizza for some excellent deep dish.

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We finished the night with a pick up game of ad-hoc Pathfinder run by Mike Bridges, of Gamerstable fame, where I was so slap happy tired that I ran a rogue modeled loosely after Emperor Norton , the first and last Emperor of these United States. His name was Vernon Lundman, he dressed in the finest of rags, knew everyone, and even minted his own currency known as the “Lundmark”. It was an awesome ending to a crazy day.

SATURDAY

Saturday was much more laid back than the previous two days. I spent most of my time running into friends and chatting a bit. Forgive me if you’re one of those I ran into and you aren’t getting a mention! I really had nothing planned until early afternoon. I ate an awesome Gyro from the Ali Baba’s food truck, which is starting to become a tradition for me. Then I spent some time in the park near the JW Marriott catching Cubones on Pokemon Go until I could evolve to a Marowak, as one does. Soon it was time for me to head to my scheduled game run by none other than Chris Hussman!

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Michael claimed this guy looked like Freddie Mercury

I was joined by Michael Ross and one of his podcast’s faculty members Brad. It ende dup being just the three of us as we weaved our way through a story filled with heartache, high adventure, and good old fashioned “end of days” stopping. I don’t want to go into too much detail, just in case some of you have the chance to ever play in this specific game. I really wouldn’t want to ruin it’s many twists. Suffice it to say it was my favorite game of the con. Michael, Brad, and I played really well off one another and in the end Chris even had some high praise for our roleplay and decisions throughout. I really got into character and loved every moment of it. Reminded me of why I love these games in the first place.

After the game we ran through a playtest of a neat game concept Michael is working on and I went looking for my crew for dinner. At this point, basking in the glow of completing all my scheduled fun I got to be a bit homesick if I’m to be honest. I missed my family a ton but knew I still had some fun times in store.

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Dinner was fun, we sat with the incredible Anna Myers at Champs where she had hung up her massive map of Greyhawk that she had crafted on her own. She is truly a master Cartographer. It was at dinner I where I was convinced to go to the Gencon dance, namely because Toju was going and I hadn’t spent nearly enough time with him. It was one Hell of a way to end the day, I’ll tell you that. The Union Station was filled to the brim with scores of us nerds just dancing (and drinking) the night away. Tons of fun, I only wish my wife could have been there, some of the most fun we have together is hitting the dance floor!

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The dance ended and I hit the hotel, instead of going to sleep I sat up with a number of my roommates. Shannon’s boyfriend Brandon and I chatted about how Goku is kind of a jerk among other awesome anime talk. After that it was lights out.

SUNDAY

Hard to believe the con ever really came to a close. I wandered around aimlessly with Shannon, Brandon, and Jason B. for a bit, then tracked down Michael at his Post Con deal where I ran into Dani and John. We sent a little love via snapchat to our buddy Pierce, who should have been at Gen Con running a Ravenloft game for us (had some weak excuse about buying a house). I then headed back to the con floor to debate once more if I’d make my one purchase of a Hirst Arts Mold but decided against it as I figured I’d spent plenty that weekend already. Thus, I made it through all of Gen Con purchasing nothing but food and lodging.

Lastly the gang and I met up with Toju, where we quietly chatted in the back of the exhibit hall until they shut the thing down signaling the end of another great year. After that the car ride home seemed to take forever as I yearned to get back to my family. Man, what a great time though.

Last thought? Sure wish Wizards of the Coast had been there this year…

Feel free to share Gen Con stories in the comments! Also, if you’ve got a hankering for another con, check out AcadeCon (meet me there!)! There are still passes availiable

-Melvs

PICTURES!

So there were a number of things I now realize I forgot to mention, namely because I can’t recall what day they occurred! I’m going to be lazy and simply put the pictures up with some blurbs.

 

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The Porkchop Express was in town for the event

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Some cool cats eh? Left to right The Carpe DM, myself and Rohit from Gamersplane

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Always awesome catching up with author Hans Cummings

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The RPG Academy Podcast pre-con meetup

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Finally worked up the nerve to shake Jolly Blackburn’s hand

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The ODAM team drops by The Ram

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TOJU! We look eerily similar in the face in this picture.

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Toju and Shannon

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More shots of the Gamerstable meetup at The Ram

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One of many fine brews I had the pleasure of sampling

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Dan and Mike strike a cool pose

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Pete and Jayson.

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Shannon and Rob

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Be proud of carrying that thing man!

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THE RAPTORS!

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The Pathfinder room was HUGE

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Got to the ENnies early enough to get a picture of the empty hall

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Had great fun with this crowd all weekend

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I witnessed the CarpeDM win a goblet scoop of dice from these guys

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Dogmight Games always has me salivating over their products

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My actual roll at the Crit for Success booth

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Cardhalla

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Anna Myers’ full map!

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Brandi & Toju

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The dance was most excellent

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Toju & Mike

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Shannon and Babs got to meet Andy Looney!

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Shannon’s Ash Ketchum was great!

COSPLAY PICS

Here are some great cosplay pictures that Shannon’s cousin Brandon was more than happy to pass my way.

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REVIEW:5e Adventure Path Curse of Strahd

*Hey guys! Melvin here. Please remember that there is still time to head over to the Acadecon 2016 Kickstarter to get your badge to meet me, and plenty of even cooler people, in Ohio this November! Can’t make the trip? Grab four friends and pick up a virtual game run by myself or one of the other special GMs available!*

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Curse of Strahd is the newest Adventure Path out from Wizards of the Coast, this time in partnership with the original minds behind the iconic vampire lord, Tracy & Laura Hickman. Essentially an updated, and certainly expanded, version of the I6 adventure “Ravenloft”, Curse of Strahd hits the nostalgia levels on all points. If you have a place in your heart for this compelling story of love, despair, and jealousy (mixed with truly unnerving supernatural mystery) you’ll certainly enjoy the update. So if you’ve never had the chance to experience I6, or maybe you have and feel compelled to run the game this book is for you! Those content to merely play the game? I can’t see a compelling reason you’d ever pick up this book beyond enjoying a well crafted product for Dungeon Masters.

If you’ve never had a chance to delve into the world of Ravenloft, or have never met its ultimate baddie Strahd von Zarovich, your players’ characters will be introduced to a cursed realm. The terrified populace of Barovia cowers under Strahd and the dark monstrosities that roam nightly to keep all in check. The adventurers will find themselves ensnared by whatever curses the place, and even more horrifying they will discover that the vampire lord himself takes pleasure in their vain attempts. He knows they are there, he fears them not, and he delights in orchestrating their demise. Their only hope is to take heed of the warnings issued by a mysterious fortune teller, and hopefully discover the means to put Strahd down.

Village of Barovia

Curse of Strahd is gorgeously laid out, has fantastic artwork, and really expands on the original module without taking anything away. I feel like a Dungeon Master would have some real fun running this game for their table. They’ll find the book easy to navigate and will likely find some perverse joy at throwing the supernatural threats within at the player characters. I simply love the eerie feeling to the adventure. I feel the best part of this book is the attention to detail reserved to mapping the adventure. Strahd’s castle is a crazy 45 pages worth of content! I’d also like to point out that many of the encounters within could easily be remapped for use outside of this adventure path. The organization of the book can’t be lauded enough (I think this is roughly the third time I’ve mentioned this fact).

Taroka Deck

Your players will need certain details (location of a powerful weapon, symbols of power, etc.) before they can finally attack the dreaded lord of the realm and that is where fortune telling and a chance meeting with Madam Eva and her Taroka Deck.  The work done to bring the Taroka Deck into the game is great. It randomizes every delve into Curse of Strahd, thus ensuring this Adventure Path actually has what few Pre-Written adventure do, a replay value. I’ve had a chance to see the actual Taroka Deck put out by Wizards of the Coast and it would be an excellent companion purchase with Curse of Strahd. The deck adds something special to the game, and comes with rules for its own card game. Don’t despair though, a standard deck of cards will suffice.

My only complaint is what I alluded to in my introduction. There’s nothing in this book for players beyond one background (Haunted One), a new pack (Monster Hunter’s Pack), and some new “Gothic” trinkets. The Haunted One background is a very well crafted and fits the scene well but man is that a thin offering for a book tied to the Ravenloft Campaign setting. There are a vast quantity of races, classes, and other character options out there to bring to 5e but this book has none of it. My only hope is that we get something Ravenloft specific down the line to explain the absence here.

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If you’re a Dumgeon Master looking to bring some Gothic horror to your 5e D&D table, this is most certainly the place to go. I highly suggest picking it up. Another quality entry into 5e’s Adventure Path line.

Curse of Strahd
Retail: US $49.95 CAN $63.95

BONUS REVIEW: THE SONG OF ARACOS

Song of Aracos

From Ember Design Studios LLC. author Lucas Curell, The Song of Aracos is considered to be a companion piece to Curse of Strahd that takes a paragraph from the introduction in CoS, written by Tracy Hickman, to heart…

“Strahd isn’t a villain who remains out of sight until the final scene. Far from it – he travels as he desires to any place in his realm or his castle, and (from his perspective) the more often he encounters the characters, the better. The characters can and should meet him multiple times before the final encounter…”

— Curse of Strahd pg 10

The adventure is a ghost story, written for five characters of 6th-level and centers on a child’s struggle to reunite with her mother. After an introductory piece of fiction, that perfectly fits the Ravenloft flair I love, the adventure starts right out of the gate with some action with an encounter that makes pulling the players into the story-line easy for the DM. From there the players are led down the rabbit hole of helping not only another man recently trapped in Strahd’s realm but a spirit in need of respite. The trouble is, Strahd is well aware of the character’s movements and of those who seek their aid, and he is not one to lay dormant as the playthings in his interest make their moves.

Curell weaves elements of the main Adventure Path into his adventure with deftness, you’ll never feel that your playing through something not of WotC’s make. He even includes the randomization of the Taroka Deck. The setting, and NPCs involved all fit perfectly with Strahd just as terrifying as ever. Adding in a win and lose circumstance for the players matches up well with the way such things are handled within the actual Adventure Path. I especially like the potential rewards that players can obtain from doing well.

In my opinion this is a must have for anyone planning to run Curse of Strahd for their table, though it can be used as a stand alone adventure. Honestly, it’s a perfect example of what a great idea it was for Wizards of the Coast to open up their content for talented creators through the Dungeon Master’s Guild. Head on over and pick it up!

The Song of Aracos is available via the Dungeon Master’s Guild\Drive Thru RPG for $4.95

-Melvs

 

 

I’m Back!

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…and boy do I have some exciting articles\plans incoming over the next few days, weeks, and months!

I know I’ve been gone a while, but I needed the break. I’m a lone writer out here folks and though I endeavor to keep the posts flowing week to week I needed the downtime to recharge. You probably want to hear more about the teased plans mentioned above though right? Well, I can’t spill all the details just yet but I can offer a taste.

  • in just TWO days the Kickstarter for AcadeCon 2016 will launch. Most of you are aware that I am a proud member of the RPG Academy Network. Due to this I am heavily interested in seeing this convention fund. Though honestly I’m probably less involved in the process than you’d assume due to my membership and I stand to gain less than you likely believe from its funding. When I write my article later this week know that my cheer leading for Michael & Caleb’s little-big convention is coming more from a place of love for the convention and its leadership itself than from anything I actually stand to gain from its funding. I want it to succeed so I have an awesome convention to go to in November, and I want to see you there. As many of you as can make the trip. Let’s sell this thing out folks! I’ll be putting some of my hard earned money toward it even though I don’t have to, I believe in seeing it succeed that much!
  • I have an article to write for Wizards of the Coast. It has taken me a while but I finally finished looking over Curse of Strahd. You may have caught some of my thought’s on Twitter recently but they deserve a full spread.
  • Privateer Press is rolling out a new edition of Warmachine and Hordes. This is huge, the latest edition was released back in 2010 people, it is time for an update. Details are flying around about this new edition and I want to get on top of things and begin to parse down the nitty gritty that you need to know in case you’re interested in how it’ll effect your factions now or, even better, you are just taking notice of this tabletop skirmish game and want to know the best time to get into it (hint: soon).
  • Speaking of WarmaHordes. I’m currently embroiled in an exciting Map Based Campaign titled “The Battle for the Athanc” (basically a high octane version of Risk where actual battles are fought using our WarmaHordes factions). I and my buddy who is running the Campaign have been keeping some battle report type notes and if we actually get our business together I hope to set up a bit of a battlelog for what we’ve done thus far and for how the remaining turns play out. It’s been a blast, even if I’ve had some of the the worst die rolling luck ever throughout.
  • A few fastballs here. I’ll be back at Gencon this year, once more rising with the Gamerstable crew. I’ll be rocking some games at Geekway to the West with Toby from Roll and Groove. I hope to get a bit more serious about writing some helpful essays on how volunteering and\or just gaming with the youth in your community can help foster growth in our hobby. I might even sneak in a post about The Division since that game currently has its talons in me.
  • This last one is going to be vague and for that I’m sorry (well…only a little sorry). I have some plans for the site, I want to become a little more polished. The one thing I can say is I want to drop that pesky little “dot wordpress dot com” from the tail end of my web address. Other than that there are just some things I want to work at for making this site a better place to get gaming information, and more frequent information. Hopefully I can fulfill these self-imposed demands, but one good thing about not running a Patreon or some other form of “actually getting paid for any of this” is I am only really beholden to myself eh?

So there you have it folks. Hope you’re excited to have me back, I’m at least excited to be writing again whether or not you all are happy to have me! 😛

-Melvs

 

 

 

 

Out of the Abyss: Adventures Three & Four

ADVENTURE’S THREE & FOUR

underdark 01

SYNOPSIS:

The brave adventurers crawl through the darkness barely keeping ahead of their pursuers while battling the denizens of the Underdark’s nooks and crannies.

PREPARATION:

Monster tokens… HO BOY was this the chapter for Monster Tokens. These two adventures took place using the details laid out in Chapter 2 of Out of the Abyss so I went crazy and made Monster Tokens for anything they could potentially run into during their long trek through the Underdark facing random encounters.

Another item of prep was rolling randomly on the tables provided in Chapter 2 to set up the myriad of random places\creatures\events that cropped up. I accepted the fact that there was the potential for deviation here but for the most part things fell into line.

OTHER ITEMS OF PREP:

MAPS: I created a variety of maps for potential encounters. I also printed out a map for The Lost Tomb location since that was something I rolled randomly and they found.

  • Lost Tomb – Pulled from the book.
  • Camping Encounter 01 – A nice big map purple circles are giant Mushrooms
  • Camping Encounter 02 – A small map near a pool of fresh water
  • Random Encounter 01 – Never got to use this one but I like it a lot. Ground glows eerily light green. The square block is an old alter of sorts
  • Random Encounter 02 – Used this for the Rocktopus encounter. The craggy semicircles represent a valley they had to go through
  • Dark Lake Encounter 01 – Characters would have been in a boat for this one. Circles are pillars under the water

THE GAME:

THE PLAYERS:

Solaris – Half-Elven Bard.

Hunar Brawnanvil – Dwarven Cleric, Brother of Rurick, from Mithral Hall

Rurick Brawnanvil – Dwarven Barbarian, Brother of Hunar, from Mithral Hall

Ander – Half-Elven Paladin, Spent some time in the Underdark before his capture. Wielder of Dawnbringer

Corbin Honeyhump – Half-Elven Sorcerer, Has sworn revenge on Ilvara for her role in the deaths of Tosy & Turvy

NOTABLE NPCS:

COHORTS

BUPPIDO – Derro. Surprisingly affable.
PRINCE DERENDIL – Quaggoth who claims to truly be a cursed elven prince.
ELDETH FELDRUN – Shield Dwarf from Gaultlgrym. Heroic to a fault. Willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the group.
JIMJAR – Taking all in stride this Deep Gnome is also a compulsive gambler. Even when there’s nothing to gamble.
SARITH KZEKARIT – A drow imprisoned for the murder of another drow. Though he claims no memory of it.
SHUUSHAR THE AWAKENED – A Kuo-toa pacifist. He hopes to one day spread his message to others of his kind.
STOOL aka (“TimTum”) – A childlike Mychonid Sprout. Bonded from day one to Rurick
DAWNBRINGER – Sentient Longsword, was locked away for ages. Fears the dark, wishes only to be brought out and to shine a light against it’s enemies. She has now bonded to Ander.

ENEMIES

The Pursuit Party:

ILVARA MIZZRYM – Drow Priestess of Lloth. Recently imprisoned the PCs and their Cohorts with intention to turn them into slaves. Now she hunts them all across the Underdaaarrrrrk! (“I’ll get you!”).
ASHA VANDREE – Junior Preistess of Lloth.
SHOOR VANDREE – Drow Elite, current lover to Ilvara.
JORLAN DUSKRYN – Drow Elite, spurned lover to Ilvara. Assited in the PC’s escape to spite Ilvara.

OTHERS

Runnar Haftholder – Dwarven Scout, had just left the city of Sloobludop. Was convinced to return with the PC’s and NPC Cohorts in tow.

ADVENTURES THREE & FOUR:

Battlebards Cue: “Dark Elf Temple” by Mike Bridge

I combined these two adventures because they represent the long, 8 day, crawl through the Underdark the players had to accomplish as they proceeded to their next destination of Sloobludop, city of the Kuo-Toa (Look… I know Gary Gygax created the Kuo-Toa, but I’m not certain if he is the one to blame for their F$%*ing names. If he is… man is he lucky I have so much more to thank him for…).

Right from the start they realize that they are going to have to rely on someone very unreliable to guide them… the Drow, Sarith Kzekarit. He was the only one who truly knew his way to Dark Lake where Sloobludop lay. Shuushar could assist if they got near Dark Lake but he had no clue how to get there. The fact that their Drow captors quickly revealed that they were in pursuit ensured that the matter was quickly put to rest and they pushed on.

Funny thing about the depths of Fearun, you can never tell when it’s day or night. However, the heroes had to rest at some point. Beaten and bedraggled they prayed for a full rest. They were not so lucky. Only a matter of hours later they were beset by an Orcan..Orcian…ORCISH raiding party. The fight was fortunately brief but they were really starting to feel their wounds. They opted to move out rather than attempt to rest again, fearing the pursuing Drow. They opted for a normal speed of travel. They could have moved faster, with penalties to perception checks, or slower, to improve stealth and foraging, they were pretty good on supplies from when they luckily found their gear though.

Trudging through the next day they were relieved to encounter no beasts and to get a full rest beneath the protective domes of some giant shrooms. Three more days passed like this with only one brief encounter with some forward scouts from their pursuers and a cave-in that they barely survived. Sarith had a rare moment of pleasant chatter when he mentioned that the cave-in would at least slow down Ilvara and company.

Joy at that was short lived however when they happened upon the lair of a Rocktopus! It really wanted to have a few adventurers for dinner. Turns out things went the other way for the beastie.

On the sixth night all were awoken by a ruckus as they discovered a crazed Sarith treating Shuushar to a frenzied beating. They pulled the slavering drow off the poor wretched Kou-toa and restrained him. While most of the group tended to Shuushar Solaris worked up the nerve to delve into the deranged Drow’s mind. Casting Detect Thoughts he was immediately beset by waves of terror and madness that permeated every inch of his surface thoughts. Probing deeper, because Sarith had little willpower to resist anything at this point, Solaris began to feel the Drow’s connection to some great entity. An obsession to find & serve her. He could go no further though, the madness was too much.

Day seven of their trudge brought about something strange. They began to feel almost a whisper in their minds. Soon it began to take form. They discover they are hearing a mental communication. A feminine voice echoes in their mind claiming to be lost and in need of rescue. Fearful of the dark. The group was almost split in its decision of whether or not to follow the vague impressions being given to them of where to follow. Eventually they decided to trust that someone truly did need their aid and they followed. They happened upon an ornate door.

The players left the NPCs behind for this one, asking Derindel to keep a close eye on Sarith, thought the Drow had been silent for most the day. They entered the structure beyond the door. Upon entering they discovered a diorama depicting the fact that this was the tomb of a long dead sorcerer, Brysis Khaem. They continued searching, often being urged on by the mysterious voice. They found what appeared to be the room of the main Sarcophagi. It turned out to be a ruse however, as a curse burst forth while a Magic Mouth uttered a dire threat. Rurick found himself disadvantaged on Attack Rolls and Saving Throws as a result of failing the saving throw. They fought a group of Spectres in a room filled with small coffins, Rurick laboring under the effects of the curse.

After fighting the Spectres Rurick was done, simply raging at his misfortune. He wanted to leave. However, another of the adventurers spotted some rollers affixed to one of the smaller tombs and they pushed it aside revealing a final room in the tomb. Within it was the true resting place of Brysis Khaem, but the sorcerer had arisen once more in the dark form of a Wraith! A battle ensued, throughout the fight the voice continued to cry out that it was “Right here, come grab me! Please! I can help!”. 

It wasn’t until after the fight that the players discovered the source of the pleas for help. A long sword, finely crafted and apparently sentient. Her name was Dawnbringer. She immediately felt a kinship to the party’s Paladin, Ander. They were soon bonded.

Upon leaving the tomb, and discovering to their relief nothing amiss had occurred while they delved, they moved on. Near the end of their long day they discovered the lapping shore of Dark Lake. It’s size was immense, they knew of no way to cross it. However they did notice a small flicker of flame coming from a nearby cave. They decided to brave it.

Within the cave was a Dwarven scout by the name of Runnar Haftholder. Runnar had actually just come from Sloobudop, and had no desire to return. He quickly changed his mind however when told of the impending Drow slaver group heading this way. Grumbling about the crazy Kuo-toa he finally agreed to take the group on the boat he had “acquired” from the fish people.

They slept, knowing the next day they might at last be in some form of civilization, despite Runnar’s harsh words for Shuushar’s people.

POST GAME THOUGHTS:

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE DONE:

I fully believe I could have made the Underdark more interesting. I spent a lot of time prepping physical props for these games and less on just how I was going to package the oddity of the place to the group. I did better on their second night of Underdark crawlin’, especially with the Lost Tomb, but I could sense they were just ready to get to civilization. Though, Sloobludop was a terrible place anyway, so they weren’t all that excited to get there (more on that in the next write-up as I realize I’ve tipped my hand at being late to write these up).

In the Lost Tomb I forgot that the place was infested with an essence known to inhabit portions of the Underdark known as faerzress. This chaotic magic causes magic to react weirldy and can spawn rolls on the Wild Magic Surge table from the PHB. Really bummed I missed my chance at wielding that tool.

THINGS I LIKE/DISLIKE ABOUT OotA: Chapter Two

  • LIKES:
    • Chapter 2’s Random Generation tables and details are legit. They take care to have encounters based on the denizens of the deep and some interesting locales. Often times both.
    • Chapter 2 doesn’t only craft the encounters for the trip to Sloobludop (though that will almost always be the direction the characters will first head), it covers any trek through the Underdark, and some of these treks are a Month or more long in game time!
    • Random encounters aren’t always bad, plenty of desirable things can happen as well.
    • Careful attention was paid to include some BIG encounters as well, my players found the Lost Tomb and
  • DISLIKES:
    • There is a strong chance your players might tire of trudging through the Underdark and from the look of things, this is going to happen a lot. It is becoming apparent that it may take a lot of time for the players to be doing ANYTHING beyond struggling around and getting mixed up in things they probably don’t care about.
      • The trick I need to work on is figuring out how to get them more invested in things beyond survival alone.

Well, that’s it for these two adventures! Join me soon for Adventure 5! If you have any questions or wish for some embellishment on something I mentioned hit me up in the comments. Or on Twitter @SharnDM.

-Melvs

Lessons From the Library

Starter Set

So I had the esteemed pleasure of running a Dungeons and Dragons game for a rare breed of gamer over the weekend. Hank, and his three awesome kids, came to game day at the library in an effort to get even more role-playing under their collective belts than they had been able to at home, and Hank himself wanted to get some experience from another DM. You see, Hank may have played D&D a bit when he was his kids’ age but he didn’t stick with it. Now, decades later, he and his kin came across the D&D Starter Set and did something I didn’t think was honestly happening out there. They picked it up and tried to teach themselves to play. I can likely count on one hand the amount of people I know who have come across D&D\RPGs in the wilds and have attempted to learn them with little to no guidance. It’s practically unheard of honestly, and after speaking with Hank I came to the understanding that his long ago playing of the game had very little measurable effect on his ability to parse the Starter Set. Essentially he was starting from scratch.

The whole experience was enlightening. While I was running the game there kept being these interesting moments where Hank would say something to the effect of “of course! I should have been doing that all along!”. These were not situations where he just liked my style of running the game either, these were things I had always considered common knowledge DM facts. The most glaring was when one of the players asked me for a monster’s Armor Class and I simply mentioned that I wasn’t going to tell him that, I mean c’mon! everyone knows the DM Doesn’t share that kind of information right? Well, turns out Hank had been pretty open about monster details and when I thought on it (and after a little post game look through the rules) I couldn’t really figure out where that information would have ever been mentioned. It’s just kind of something we experienced DM’s know, and certainly something we’d pass along to anyone learning to run games. It made perfect sense to Hank in hindsight but it also makes sense to me why he would have made that mistake. To be fair, nothing says you can’t share that information either though.

It all speaks to what I’ve been saying for a while now. D&D, and I’d argue most RPG’s out there, require that close friend or relative to really teach the game. Hank struck me as a smart guy who’d obviously been doing well enough because his kids were really into getting to play but, by his own admission, he was still struggling to polish his ability. There is a large barrier of entry into our hobby and I don’t know if there is an answer on the game creators’ side of things to lowering the barrier, and if there is I don’t know yet what it would be. However, if that’s not a call to arms to become a fiercer advocate for tabletop gaming I don’t know what is.

I might find myself doing a little more “here’s how to do it” work in the near future honestly. From talking to Hank it sounds like he had the chance to catch helpful videos and podcasts, and I certainly know a few podcasts I’ll send his way. I think I’d like to add to that category out there. If I make a video that helps even one person learn a bit more about running or playing an RPG, I think I would like that. In fact it seems like an organic progression from my current level of advocacy. I’ve planted the seed in my hometown, why not get a bit more widespread!

Take care, and good gaming,

-Melvs

P.S. If for some reason you read this Hank, I hope you don’t mind I shared your story. I had an absolute blast running a game for your family this past weekend. You all have taken to Tabletop RPGs like fish to water, you gasped in all the right spots and I felt very humbled by your constant admiration at my DM’ing skills. I hope I get the chance to run a game for you all again soon! Or maybe, you can run a game that I play in ;P . Feel free to hit me up with any questions you may have! This goes for anyone honestly.

WotC & Drive Thru RPG Present Dungeon Masters Guild

In a huge move toward including its fan-base in the creative process Wizards of the Coast has apparently teamed with Drive Thru RPG to craft a website where fans can generate D&D content, and get paid for it. There’s obviously more to it and I’d try to explain it myself but my rep over at Wizards sent me a great breakdown so I’ll re-post it here.

Dungeons & Dragons is all about creativity. For more than 40 years, the folks who spent the bulk of their time creating amazing adventures, those noble Dungeon Masters, did not have a convenient outlet to share them with the gamers who weren’t sitting at their table. You either had to raise money to publish a physical book or zine on your own, or convince a publisher you had the chops. Now, the Dungeon Masters Guild puts the power to share that creativity firmly in the hands of the DM.

Dungeon Masters Guild

DMs Guild website, as well as browse submissions from some of gaming’s most esteemed designers.The Dungeon Masters Guild is a collaboration between Dungeons & Dragons and our friends at DriveThruRPG, and it is designed to support and reward you – whether you’re an experienced DM or just starting out. Today, you can upload your creations to the

For the first time ever, you’ll be able to self-publish material set in the Forgotten Realms using monsters, spells, characters, and locations previously unavailable. Set your side trek in Neverwinter or Baldur’s Gate, have your characters go toe-to-toe with the Xanathar, the beholder crime lord of Waterdeep, or fall in with some traitorous drow in Menzoberranzan. With some exceptions noted on the DMs Guild website, the Forgotten Realms is at your fingertips.

You can set whatever price you like for your creation; you can give your new monster away for free or charge a few gold coins. If you do decide to ask for money, you’ll get half of the revenue while DriveThruRPG and Dungeons & Dragons will split the other. We care about our creators and that’s why they get the biggest cut!

Creators can upload whatever kind of Forgotten Realms material they’d like to the Dungeon Masters Guild, but we’ll be featuring side treks, monsters, and backgrounds on the site. For now, the Guild is only accepting Forgotten Realms material that uses the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. For everything else, we’ve updated the Open Gaming License so that publishers can continue releasing their own material. Read more about the updated OGL here.

Head to dungeonmastersguild.com to see what’s available to download right now.

On Friday, January 15th starting at 10am PT, Mike Mearls and Chris Lindsay from the Dungeons & Dragons team will host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on the D&D sub-Reddit page to speak directly with the public on how the Dungeon Masters Guild works.

So there it is folks, it looks like WotC has finally updated their OGL. If you’re like me you’ll probably nose around this a bunch in the next few weeks. Sadly it looks to be Forgotten Realms only at this time (unless further delving proves otherwise) but this is really neat!

Let me know in the comments if you discover something really cool about this or if it isn’t as good as it seems!

-Melvs

City of Brass

CityofBrass_1000w

**SUBSCRIBE to City of Brass now! Use the coupon code ACADECON16 for 10% off!**

Move over Obsidian Portal! Just into the slow lane though, because you’re still cool, don’t completely get off the road or anything. City of Brass is just a touch cooler is all. Damn… now I’m worried I hurt Obsidian Portal’s feelings… ah, what can you do?

FireLogo_1200City of Brass is a web based application from Ember Design Studios LLC. dedicated to bringing the tools you need to the table electronically in order to run, or play, your game as efficiently as possible. Especially if you want to free up some table space by avoiding reams of paper. Those that run the game and those that play can use their City of Brass avatars to become members of their own affiliation, set in a world of their own creation (hosted on the site) if they like, to have everything they need in easy reach to get around the table and play. Early into my exploration for this review I knew some solid craft went into this product. I think you’ll not be disappointed.

ResidentOne of the first things you’ll do when signing onto City of Brass will be to create an avatar, or Resident as they are called, to represent yourself within the City. This is a fluff touch that you can be as creative with as you like, or simply use as a name to work with for your future affiliations with other Residents. True to form I went as far as to craft a descriptor for “Melvin Smif” as a “Bearded Wordsmith” and even a backstory of sorts for his place in the metropolis. I like this as it already goes to making me feel like I’m affiliated with all the other users of the site. Considering group collaboration is presented as a hallmark of CoB, anything that makes you feel more associated with the group as a whole is great.

Once you’ve crafted your avatar where you go next is up to you. Though, you might find yourself checking out the forum, known as the Symposium. There you’ll chat about potential game ideas with others, read news about updates to site, hit up the FAQs or Support areas, or just gab in the general area. Your typical forum but with a layout I find easy to use. It’s an excellent resource to get a grasp on some of the current goings on of the site and tips for handling the other features. It’s also a great place to gain some affiliates.

The meat of the site lies with the ability to craft your own page to house everything you’d need for your game table, all housed under the Campaign Manager. Many of the users on the site have gone to great lengths to feature their own home-brew worlds & games but you could certainly carve out details of an established campaign setting that are relevant to your group’s adventuring. There are a number of micro sites within the larger whole used to craft everything located in your Campaign Manager. These three Builder platforms are on the site under the Toolkit drop-down and are known as the Entity Builder, the World Builder, and the Story Builder.

The Entity Builder is where you build player characters (if you’re simply playing the game), npcs, and monsters. This isn’t a pure character generator, although many choices are auto-populated, this is a place where you will need to ensure certain modifiers are entered in the correct spots based on race and class. I found it a bit fiddly but was able to work my way through. Thankfully the site provides some great tutorials in the form of YouTube videos for any of the areas you might be struggling with. The end result is a solid character sheet, npc, or monster you can incorporate into a game. Currently anything you upload is available to you alone and to others you provide the url to, stock images and characters are currently in the realm of the admins, but there are steps being taken to add a “Community Content” portion to the site.

World Builder

The World Builder would be the next logical step for a GM, players tend to stick with just making a character. Here you can go into some great depth with world-craft. You can add a bevy of items here. Under the Atlas Entry you can add pictures of maps you’ve crafted and add explanations of the world they represent. Through Inhabitant you can help other explore the unique NPCs or various races that make up your populace. The choices are many, and varied. Religions & Deities, articles of Lore, various Planes of existence, etc. There are many worlds out there already that are open to public viewing, labeled as Districts in the City, and I’ve seen some really detailed worlds out there. Of course your world can be divided into public items and secret ones. There are just somethings your players don’t need to see yet.

Lastly we have the Story Builder. Once again I checked out the YouTube tutorial available on the site for this builder, though by now I’m getting the hang of everything pretty well as there’s a lot of similarities between the building engines (this is well executed). Through the Story Builder you can really craft a great adventure. Most of what you’ll do is add written content but you can pull in any stock pictures, creatures, and npcs that you might need from the website as a whole or from your own pool. Another nice feature is the Handouts portion that allows the players to see only the items placed there, blocking the rest of the adventure but allowing for them to know what they need.

After using all the builders to craft the various worlds, adventures, and entities populating the two you move things over to the Campaign Manager. Here you mash it all together into a fine working Campaign machine. You can showcase adventure logs, player characters, the world you’re operating in, etc. All the parts leading to a nicely crafted whole.

Before I scoot out, one thing I’d love to see are some character generators that are a bit better at filling in the details for you (for those systems where it’s legal to craft a character generator of course). I have to imagine things like that are in constant evolution though, and to be honest many of these systems have generators all over the net so you aren’t missing much.

I really enjoyed checking out City of Brass and I hope my words have peaked your interest. Though, if you want to know more it’s best you check it out yourself. There’s a free 30 day trial, so you can log in and tinker around. If you like what you see, sign on for another month, at only $3.00 a month, or at a discounted rate of $24.00 for an entire year.  Here’s the awesome news though. Readers of my blog are getting some love from the the ruling class within the City of Brass.

I hope you head on over and try it out, I know I’ve enjoyed my time in the City of Brass. I hope you will too. Also, look me up and add me as an Affiliate! Also, if you have any further questions you could always reach out to the creators on Twitter, on Facebook, Youtube, or check out their FAQs.

-Melvs

Out of the Abyss: Adventure Two

Travel-Settlement

ADVENTURE TWO

SYNOPSIS:

Last night’s game was a slug-fest. I mean, I knew it would be but I never imagined the fight would last the entire session! The guys went toe to toe with some of the nastiest denizens of Velkynvelve and scrapped out a win… as in they survived long enough to flee into the depths of the Underdark.

PREPARATION:

Thankfully my prep for this adventure was supplemented mostly by Adventure One’s prep. I already had all the monster tokens I needed for the fight and had printed off the bulk of the monster stats from my scanned MM pages. There were only a few other items of note.

OTHER ITEMS OF PREP:

  • I needed a battle map so I did what I typically do. I use the one inch by one inch excel sheet I made to craft one
    • Here’s my take on the ledge overlooking the drop-off where the lift runs. I made it a little bit larger than the map in the book dictates because things would have been incredibly crowded for the fight. If you take issue with my deviating from the written source material just remember that I typically don’t run pre-made games anyway.
  • I devised a roll system to determine how long the guys would have before the following things occurred. Essentially, at the start of the fight I rolled a d6 to see how many rounds it would take for the Vrock and the Chasme Demons to finish their little spar. After that I used a D4 to determine how many rounds until reinforcements and a D6 to see what kind of reinforcements would show.
    • D6 for what kind of Reinforcements
      • D1 – Ilvara, Asha, Shoor, and Jorlen Show up
      • D2-3 – Three Drow
      • D3-4 – Two Quaggoth
      • D6 – Two Drow & a Drow Elite
  • I also figured that for every person on the lift beyond 5 I would make it a 20% chance the lift would break under the additional strain. I told the guys it looked like it could fit 4 people comfortably but I knew it could handle the weight of 5 easily.
  • I decided it would take 8 rounds for the lift to get to the floor and return.

THE GAME:

THE PLAYERS:

  • Solaris – Half-Elven Bard
  • Hunar Brawnanvil – Dwarven Cleric
    • Brother of Rurick, from Mithral Hall
  • Rurick Brawnanvil – Dwarven Barbarian
    • Brother of Hunar, from Mithral Hall
  • Ander – Half-Elven Paladin
    • Spent some time in the Underdark before his capture
  • Corbin Honeyhump – Half-Elven Sorcerer
    • Has sworn revenge on Ilvara for her role in the deaths of Tosy & Turvy

ADVENTURE TWO:

Battlebards Cue: “Dark Elf Temple” by Mike Bridge

Not much to tell story wise, merely a play by play of action. The guys equipped themselves while the outpost continued to defend itself from the rampaging demons that flew above them. They attempted to deliberate and come up with a plan but their time was short as the Vrock fell from the air, crushing open the side of the stalactite they were taking refuge in. This left them fully open to the contingent of drow and quaggoth on the ledge near the lift. A battle began.

The first thing they did was ignore the stunned Vrock, and with good reason as the beast decimated a drow before it took back off into the air. The fight was a good one though and only two of the heroes were ever dropped, our paladin Ander and the Dwaven NPC Eldeth. Hunar was able to heal Ander, getting him back into the fight, and Edleth was stabilized last minute by Shuushar.

The PCs were not alone during the fight, the NPCs helped as well. Prince Derendil gave in fully to his quaggoth nature and dropped a number of enemies with assistance from Jimjar and Eldeth as well. Shushaar remained true to his pacifist nature, Buppido simply held back near Stool, Sarith spent most of the time muttering to himself and clutching his head, and Ront…well Ront decided to be a right bastard.

Ront

Ront… you’re a prick

At about the midpoint of the fight Ront fled directly to the lift and used the distraction everyone else was providing to escape to the floor below. Solaris attempted to stop him but was unable to battle against the orc’s brute strength. The players watched with no small measure of rage as the orc fled into the darkness below.

From there it was a matter of clearing out the enemies left over, doing a bit of searching, and sending a number of groups down the lift. Solaris was fortunate in finding something he thought odd on one of the Drow warriors. A lute imbued with magical power, quite the treasure for the Bard. As the last group was heading downward there was an attempt above to stop the lift. At least they’d learned one thing from Ront’s cowardly act, they know they could counteract the braking mechanism. Soon they were all fleeing into the Underdark wilds themselves.

POST GAME THOUGHTS:

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE DONE:

Can’t say I went in unprepared here. The fight was long but it went smoothly.

THINGS I LIKE/DISLIKE SO FAR ABOUT OOTA: Chapter One

  • LIKES:
    • The start off point is solid and different. Throws the players directly into survival mode.
    • A few solid ideas were given for potential escape points. The Jorlen concept is great and I love that even though the players may never know the full reason he’d be willing to release them they ensure the DM knows exactly why.
    • I really like the next part, Chapter 2, but I can’t really go into great detail about that.
  • DISLIKES:
    • The Players had very little chance of getting out of prison without a DM push for them. My group noticed Jorlen and pursued getting him on their side but not a lot of groups would think to do that.
    • The NPCs should come with stats. All it would have taken was one extra page in Appendix C.
    • Would have been nice to detail some daily routines in the Outpost.
    • Wizards of the Coast needs to give us the ability to purchase .pdfs of their Monster Manual at least. Having to choose to flip back and forth between two books for monster stats is terrible and I know for a fact their core books are already available for illegal download anyway so I really don’t grasp their fears in this arena (Barely a commentary on OotA and more of an “overall” complaint I know but… c’mon Wizards).

 

Out of the Abyss: Adventure One

OUT_OF_THE_ABYSS Main Picture

Detracting from my typical style, I have decided to run a premade 5th Edition D&D setting for my players. For this I decided to choose the most alien concept possible for them, the newest addition to Wizards of the Coast’s (WotC) line of super adventures, Out of the Abyss. For those unfamiliar, OotA is a setting placed almost exclusively within the Underdark of the Forgotten Realms. A world beneath the surface filled with treachery and danger, wildly strange to anyone who calls the topside of Forgotten Realms home. I found myself excited by the prospect of running something so tied to this strange land and was really glad the guys agreed to give it a go. Once I discovered the sandbox feel this Campaign Setting provided I was doubly glad to use it. So without further ado, I’ll begin my first post-game write-up!

ADVENTURE ONE

SYNOPSIS:

Velkynelve, an outpost high above a cavern floor. Home to the dreaded drow, their quaggoth servants, & giant spider pets.

Velkynelve, an outpost high above a cavern floor. Home to the dreaded drow, their quaggoth servants, & giant spider pets…and our PCs prison!

The players begin this Campaign in some pretty dire straits. They have been captured and imprisoned by a group of Drow located at an Outpost far away from any civilization, even the Underdark kind. They are not alone either, there are ten fellow prisoners NPCs trapped with them. Many of these NPCs are denizens of the Underdark but that doesn’t save anyone from the slaver’s binds. The PCs and their NPC companions must attempt to work together if they are to escape before they are carted off to the Drow city of Menzoberranzan where chances are even slimmer for escape.

PREPARATION:

Man there’s a lot of prep leading into this adventure. There are TEN potentially friendly NPCs to juggle. For me that was a lot of time spent getting a rough idea of what to sound like when roleplaying these individuals and ensuring I was familiar enough with their stats to use them in any potential combats or skill based encounters. Fortunately I found a resource a Reddit user posted that gives a great three page spread of these NPCs where you have their stats laid bare for use.

NPC1: BUPPIDO - Male Derro. Surprisingly affable.

NPC1: BUPPIDO – Male Derro. Surprisingly affable.

NPC 2: Prince Derendil - Quaggoth who claims to truly be a cursed elven prince.

NPC 2: Prince Derendil – Quaggoth who claims to truly be a cursed elven prince.

NPC 3: ELDETH FELDRUN - Shield Dwarf from Gaultlgrym. Heroic to a fault. Willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the group.

NPC 3: ELDETH FELDRUN – Shield Dwarf from Gaultlgrym. Heroic to a fault. Willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the group.

NPC 4: JIMJAR - Taking all in stride this Deep Gnome is also a compulsive gambler. Even when there's nothing to gamble.

NPC 4: JIMJAR – Taking all in stride this Deep Gnome is also a compulsive gambler. Even when there’s nothing to gamble.

NPC 5: RONT - A bully of an Orc. Tries to intimidate others but falls under the same pressure easily.

NPC 5: RONT – A bully of an Orc. Tries to intimidate others but falls under the same pressure easily.

NPC 6: SARITH KZEKARIT - A drow imprisoned for the murder of another drow. Though he claims no memory of it.

NPC 6: SARITH KZEKARIT – A drow imprisoned for the murder of another drow. Though he claims no memory of it.

NPC 7: SHUUSHAR THE AWAKENED - A Kuo-toa pacifist. He hopes to one day spread his message to others of his kind.

NPC 7: SHUUSHAR THE AWAKENED – A Kuo-toa pacifist. He hopes to one day spread his message to others of his kind.

NPC 8: STOOL (aka "TimTum") - A childlike Mychonid Sprout.

NPC 8: STOOL (aka “TimTum”) – A childlike Mychonid Sprout.

NPCs 9 & 10: TOPSY & TURVY - Two quiet Deep Gnomes, share very little and keep to themselves.

NPCs 9 & 10: TOPSY & TURVY – Two quiet Deep Gnomes, share very little and keep to themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really feel like the burden was placed squarely on the DMs of the world to produce the stats for these NPCs. This is something that should have had at least a page of info on in the book. The OotA guide does a great job of providing background info on all these characters, why not their stats as well? Especially because it is heavily insinuated that these characters might be around for some time.

OTHER ITEMS OF PREP:

  • Created my own set of Monster/NPC tokens to print off and use as Minis
  • Made a spreadsheet, that will continue to grow, detailing what Monsters/NPCs might appear per chapter and where to find the stats for them in the Monster Manual or in the back of OotA.
  • Scanned the stats for all the potential monsters so I could print them off separately instead of trying to flip back and forth in the MM &/or OotA in Combat (Hey WotC… SELL US SOME DAMN .PDF VERSIONS OF YOUR CORE BOOKS ALREADY!)
  • Decided which events I wanted to occur to facilitate a potential escape
    • The book details a number of options the players might go with and even provides the DM with some “nudge” options that I liked.
  • Ran through what I’d downloaded from my Battlebards material to set the mood music and even some sound effects
    • I chose the Musical Score “Underground Lake City” by Richard Daskas as my ambiance music as I enjoyed not only the subtle darkness of the piece but the fact that the water effects played nicely with the fact there is a waterfall present at this outpost.
  • Rolled randomly to determine where the drow would be storing the player’s stolen gear. I decided pre-game that they would have to stumble upon it, I was not going to ensure they would get it back as many expect in a prisoner situation. They would have to get lucky, or clear the place out.

THE GAME:

THE PLAYERS:

Sadly I’ve not received any fully fleshed out backstories from the guys yet but they might fill in those details a bit later. I do have a few bits to share though.

  • Solaris – Half-Elven Bard
  • Hunar Brawnanvil – Dwarven Cleric
    • Brother of Rurick, from Mithral Hall
  • Rurick Brawnanvil – Dwarven Barbarian
    • Brother of Hunar, from Mithral Hall
  • Ander – Half-Elven Paladin
    • Spent some time in the Underdark before his capture
  • Corbin Honeyhump – Half-Elven Sorcerer

ADVENTURE ONE:

Battlebards

Battlebards Cue: “Underground Lake City” by Richard Daskas

The guys were informed right away that they were imprisoned by the Drow (my buddy was betting on Duergar and was sorely disappointed). Learning they were not alone they spent a little time getting to know some of the other prisoners. Corbin found himself approaching the reserved Deep Gnome twins Topsy and Turvy. He found their behaviors and mannerisms strange, but they’d been in here the longest (decided by random roll) so who was he to judge. From them he learned just how much the cards were stacked against escape as they detailed a large squad of Drow, Drow elites, and Quaggoth that stood in the way of escape. Rurick, immediately establishing his boisterous attitude to this particular setback, found himself befriending the Mychonid named Stool. Rurick nicknamed the little guy “Timtum” before finally hugging the fungal humanoid allowing some “rapport spores” to enter his brain via his ears and suddenly the two could talk. Though the connection was a psychic one Rurick continued to speak his end of the conversation aloud, which simply made him look mad to the others.

Ilvara - Drow Priestess of Lloth

Ilvara – Drow Priestess of Lloth

 

Time passed and the guards decided to bring a few of the prisoners out to the “yard” to do some demeaning labor. Rurick, Solaris, and Stool were chosen to go but Ander somehow convinced the guards he should go in Stool’s place. The labor was essentially moving large rocks to the side of the cliff and dropping them over. This served no other purpose than further discouraging escape as it showed the players that the only escape from this outpost was down past enormous webs guarded by giant spiders. Rurick attempted to hit a spider with a rock but failed. Solaris sang a little and actually did so well the guards enjoyed it. Meanwhile, Ander had decided he’d already had enough. Sensing an opportunity he succeeded in thieving a short sword right out of the hilt of a distracted guard and began some combat.

Things went better for the three than was to be expected. Ander immediately killed the drow he had stolen his weapon from with a blast of divine might that sent its body flailing over the cliff. As the drow flew a number of drow poisoned bolts fell upon the ground and Ander scooped them up. Rurick squared off against two drow and built up a furious rage, punching one square in the face. Solaris proved the most helpful however as he fully charmed one of the quaggoths standing nearby and sending it into the fray on behalf of the players.

Quaggoth

In the four rounds of combat before reinforcements showed up the players and their quaggoth recruit killed two drow, two quaggoth, and almost downed a drow elite. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t enough. During this time one of the prisoners, Jimjar the deep gnome, attempted to do some wagering with Hunar about the survival of the three combatants. Hunar was not amused. Soon, Ilvara Mizzrym, the Drow Priestess of Lloth in charge of the outpost, herself came with Tentacle Rod in hand. With her were ten more drow, hand crossbows pointed at the players. Solaris surrendered, Anders struck down the staggered quaggoth in front of him and set a defiant pose, Rurick simply didn’t cease his fighting. All three of the tentacles struck home, dropping Solaris and Ander. Rurick remained standing though and said simply “You’d better kill me!”  With that, ten drow bolts were launched that eventually dropped him, miraculously not killing him.

Ilvara drug the unconscious three to her chambers for a few days of torture, making a show of it to the other prisoners. The next two days did not go well for the three upstarts.

For the next two days the rest of the prisoners remained submissive to their captors, who were doubly cruel after losing a few of their own to the fray. Corbin started paying attention to the guard rotations and noticed that one of the guards was a drow wearing the garb of an elite, a heavily scarred individual known as Jorlen. He was the only elite who ever had to pull guard duty and by the looks of him he did not care for the assignment, quickly dismissing the other drow who were supposed to run the detail with him. Corbin decided to attempt to speak with the dark elf.

Jorlen was not very receptive at first but Corbin proved most diplomatic and persuasive so Jorlen eventually opened up. Corbin was able to discern that Jorlen was deeply unhappy with the way things were currently. He was once the right-hand elf and lover of Ilvara but that changed after an accident robbed him of the full use of his right arm and his features. These days she flaunts her new relationship with a younger drow elite named Shoor. Shoor takes full advantage of his position as the new head of the regular drow and the elites. It is he who placed Jorlen on guard duty. Corbin attempts to leverage the dark elf’s disdain into something of use but the drow merely continues to mock the captives.

Jorlen does let slip one bit of advice though. Ilvara intends to make an example of one or more of the prisoners after she tires of torturing the three who started the fight. He cautions Corbin to not “stand out” in the near future. True to his word when Ilvara brings the victims of her scourge back the very next day she declares one of the lot will be fed to the spiders. She chooses Topsy, one of the deep gnome twins, seemingly at random. Corbin attempts to persuade her to take him instead but she laughs off his noble gesture. When the guards grab for Topsy her brother Turvy attempts to stop them resulting in his being drug away as well. The rest of the prisoners overhear their plaintive cries as they are thrown to the spiders. Corbin vows revenge for the poor deep gnomes.

A few days later some items of interest arise. Corbin continues to foster a relationship of sorts with Jorlen, who appears to tolerate it with a measure of tedium. Stool convinces Rurick to get the others to accept the Rapport Spores so they can speak in secret via the telepathy it allows. The group begins to get desperate as it is well known the envoy from Menzoberranzan approaches. Their chance comes soon though from an unlikely source. Jorlen shows up for his shift in a rage of a mood. He also shows up with the character’s daily meal, a chore he was apparently given this day by Shoor. Feeding the prisoners is apparently quite the slight because he pulls Corbin aside and declares his intentions to leave their cell door unlocked so their escape attempt can be an embarrassment for Ilvara and Shoor. It is apparent he holds no real love for Corbin or the others though as he laughs off Corbin’s gratitude stating that he doesn’t believe they will actually make it very far, and they’ll receive no further help from him.

The group of prisoners agree with one another that it’s worth the risk of torture to attempt an escape when Jorlen leaves the cell unlocked, even if it might be a trap. Over their time as captives they had collected a few items the could use as potential weapons (an iron bar and a drow poison dart) but they knew that stealth would likely assist more. As Jorlen leaves he casually drops a dagger at the cell door and begins his walk. The captives discover the cell door unlocked, true to Jorlen’s word, and then witness him flippantly tossing a drow over the ledge to the spiders. It seems Jorlen’s temper was in rare form. The players and their NPC fellows slipped out into the quiet camp.

They headed to the right, as this was the direction of the waterfall they normally cleaned their chamber pots in. They had noticed the path continued past the waterfall but had never ventured that far. As they went beyond their regular route they came upon a cave where a few quaggoth slept, the smell giving away that the cave represented the quaggoths’ lair. Ahead of them was a small building hanging off the ledge, overlooking the gorge below. Corbin and Ander snuck ahead and peered inside. A pair of drow were holding casual conversation, apparently they eagerly awaited the arrival of the relief group from Menzoberranzan. The two drow would never see that group however as Ander and Corbin made sure the two fell to bottom of the cavern below, they never saw the attack coming. Ander was even able to lift a short sword off one of the drow before killing him.

Corbin exited the building and looked down. He could see that a pool from the waterfall lay below them, but was unable to tell its depth. He took a chance and sent some dancing lights towards the water below. He was just making note of the fact it was too grimy on top to determine its depth when a shrill screech was emitted from below. The dancing lights had disturbed the rest of a foul creature, identified by Hunar, as a Vrock. A chain reaction then tool place. The Vrock awakened all in the outpost and they began to defend themselves, but the Vrock was more concerned with another, bug-like, creature that began attacking it. It was chaos.

Jimjar mentioned above the din that he had seen a lift when he was brought in, but it was on the other side of the outpost. The group decided to utilize the chaos of the creatures fighting to try and push through. They ducked through one of the stalactites, taking out the distracted drow inside, and hoofed it towards the lift. They decided against seeking out Ilvara, and her junior priestess Asha, and ran past the shrine to Lloth. They spied the lift in the distance but there were a lot of drow and quaggoth between they and it so they ducked into another stalactite. Inside they defeated a drow elitie warrior while a few of the others held back the drow who were trying to get in the room. In a group of chests the PC’s discovered their looted gear. It was at this point we all called it a night.

POST GAME THOUGHTS:

Overall the first adventure was a lot of fun and had us all playing later than we typically would. My pre-game prep was solid and there were only a few takeaways I feel i could have considered better ahead of time.

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE DONE:

  • I could have done a better job coming up with scenarios for the NPCs to instigate conversations with the players. By nature a number of players aren’t the type to instigate that sort of thing.
  • I wish I would have encouraged everyone to take Undercommon as a language, even if it meant coming up with reasons why they would. It will certainly be interesting to see where this goes with needing multiple language to convey things however. I may end up liking the difficulty.
  • I did all of the battles without laying out a battle grid and while I like how fast narrative battling ends up making things move I can tell the guys were a bit put off by it. They like their minis and the strategies that a grid based combat allows for.

THINGS I LIKE/DISLIKE SO FAR ABOUT OOTA:

  • LIKES:
    • The start off point is solid and different. Throws the players directly into survival mode.
    • A few solid ideas were given for potential escape points. The Jorlen concept is great and I love that even though the players may never know the full reason he’d be willing to release them they ensure the DM knows exactly why.
    • I really like the next part, Chapter 2, but I can’t really go into great detail about that.
  • DISLIKES:
    • The Players had very little chance of getting out of prison without a DM push for them. My group noticed Jorlen and pursued getting him on their side but not a lot of groups would think to do that.
    • The NPCs should come with stats. All it would have taken was one extra page in Appendix C.
    • Would have been nice to detail some daily routines in the Outpost.
    • Wizards of the Coast needs to give us the ability to purchase .pdfs of their Monster Manual at least. Having to choose to flip back and forth between two books for monster stats is terrible and I know for a fact their core books are already available for illegal download anyway so I really don’t grasp their fears in this arena (Barely a commentary on OotA and more of an “overall” complaint I know but… c’mon Wizards).

So far Out of the Abyss is great stuff. I can’t wait to see where this leads and the guys seem to really be digging it. Let’s see if they survive eh? Please feel free to comment below!

-Melvs

AcadeCon 2015: Into the Wilds

Acadecon

I had been eagerly awaiting AcadeCon 2015 for longer than it had even existed in its current format. Back about a year ago it was slated to be a convention in only name as it was likely going to be held in a basement in Ohio in either Michael or Caleb’s basement, I can’t recall who’s. To think it has now come and gone, and supported a group of roughly 150 badgeholders, faculty and Network members, and VIPs, is frankly staggering. The RPG Academy crowd is beaming, and have all rights to do so.

Since the day their Kickstarter funded I had a good feeling about the con (if I’m to be honest I had assumed they’d fund from day one). I wasn’t let down in the least, well worth the nearly six hour drive from Missouri to Ohio. When I arrived late Thursday night I was immediately impressed with the venue, the Hueston Woods Lodge and Conference Center provided a gorgeous, rustic vibe that only added to the feeling that I was “getting away from it all” for some solid gaming. I arrived at the cabin I was sharing with the creators of the con and was thrown headlong into a game of Mysterium right away.

Very rustic... plenty of "well fed" vultures atop roofs!

Very rustic… plenty of “well fed” vultures atop roofs!

For those who may have missed my recap of Geekway 2015, Mysterium was easily one of my favorite board games. At Geekway I played the Polish version of the game, it hadn’t been ported to the States yet. The game places one player as the ghost of a murder victim attempting to encourage others to solve their murder. Using cards to represent images sent during the player’s dreams the ghost is essentially sending clues as to the place they were murdered, the person and the weapon. The ghost cannot communicate in any other fashion and has to hope the players interpret the image cards correctly. This copy was the Asmodee version of the game, made for english speaking players, and I have to say I was impressed with the little touches they added to the game. Especially adding a shield for the ghost to use that keeps the various places, people, and weapons organized behind it. We won the game solidly, I made for a much better ghost than I have in the past!

After Mysterium we played a game of King of Tokyo and chatted until about 2 am and the next thing I knew it was Friday morning, time to start the con! I helped set things up a bit and, after the opening ceremonies, I got ready to run what would end up being my only game GM’ing during the con (despite bringing just about every game I own). I simply had to run it though as it was one of the adventure concepts sent in for my contest back in August. I ended up using Garrett Weinstein’s Savage Worlds Deadlands Reloaded adventure The Lady and the Caskett rather than Aaron Tudyk’s The Leeching Jug for 5th Edition D&D because there were already a ton of 5e games being run this year. I plan to craft a One Sheet for the adventure I crafted using Garrett’s concept of a woman collapsing in a small town, handcuffed to a coffin she’d been dragging through the wilds. The concept remains great and I hope I did it justice! Just you wait for the One Sheet.

wpid-20151113_154632.jpg

I swear they aren’t bored. At this point they thought they’d been beat! They were scrounging for ideas and lamenting their fate. (No worries, they pulled it off)

My game

Running my game, which I think went pretty well, was the only planned activity I had for the rest of the weekend so I was free to pursue games run by others. I ended up running into some friends from Gencon (Dani and John) and was invited into John’s Numenera game for that evening. Highlights include Dani’s animal loving character constantly learning the hard lesson that animals in the world of Numenera don’t love you back, they only hurt you, my Nano evolving into a foodie interested in preparing, and serving, inter-dimensional cuisine, and many other laugh out loud moments. It was the best game of Numenera I’ve ever had occasion to play.

John, you ran a damn fine game sah'!

John, you ran a damn fine game sah’!

To round out Friday night Lucas, one of the creators of City of Brass and fellow member of the RPG Academy Network, and his buddy Aaron, joined me for a game of Arkham Horror. I didn’t have a lot of hope, there were only the three of us, but surprisingly we pulled it off! I believe by the end of the game we had a total of five rumors going and the next turn spelled certain doom. Not sure if I can ever top that game of Arkham Horror to be honest. I called it a night once more at roughly 2 am, knowing I had to be up again in roughly four hours. It was worth it though.

I almost skipped Saturday morning’s game, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I was fortunate enough to get a seat at Rob Schwalb’s table to play in a game run via his newest Tabletop RPG Shadow of the Demon Lord. The game was raunchy fun, and downright difficult to survive. If you get a chance to play a game of this run by Rob, I say go for it. Great times… though my Goblin PC had to change his pants after the game was over.

Shadow of the Demon Lord

Middle of the day antics included me joining a game currently in beta testing called Measure of a Badass. The concept is that you play iterations of action heroes, not specific ones but their aspects. This game was loads of fun. Our GM was was Heather Brooks, one of the Co-Creators of the game. I didn’t know it at the time but this was her first experience running the game solo for a group and I’m not certain she was expecting just how much we were willing to run with the concept of being 80’s action heroes. Many times we took the most outrageous approaches to resolving even the smallest of problems our characters faced, simply to add that 80’s action star gleam to things. The best part hands down was how utterly ridiculous our Wheelman flying our helicopter and our Eagle Eye on board with him handled things. They were all over the place, no helicopter should have been able to do the things they made it do. It was great!

Measure of a Badass

Heather Brooks everybody

So sadly I had to work on Monday, and part of me really wanted to get home and go deer hunting the next day so I made the difficult decision to cancel playing in a game run by a new friend Rob Stith, a horror game using a system he was designing. By all accounts it sounded great, but if I’d left at 10 pm I wouldn’t have gotten home until  4 am. I’m adding that to a pile of regrets actually.

Biggest regrets, beyond canceling on Rob last minute, would include missing Rohit’s game Sunday morning due to having to leave Saturday night (something I’ll avoid next year hopefully),  not taking advantage of the celebrity game designers more, and only gaming with one other RPG Academy Network member (Lucas played in my Deadlands game). Being part of the Network granted me Faculty privileges but other than a few short conversations with the likes of John Wick and Rich Baker, I only really got to meet with Rob Schwalb (no small thing mind you). Even then I didn’t really make huge use of the time for this blog’s purposes. Oh well, I spend Gencon hitting things up for the blog. I was happy to just game at AcadeCon. I was also put out that i once again missed a chance to play a game with the You Too Can Cthulhu gang! I try to get in one of their games every Gencon and fail. Here I had a much better chance and missed it again!

One last regret, I swear. I had really wanted to run a game of ODAM (Of Dream And Magic). Ever since they fulfilled their obligations from their successful Kickstarter I’ve really wanted to either play in a game or run one. I thought about it too late to schedule a game and it just didn’t work out to run a pickup game either. I need to rectify my lack of playing and/or running this system. It looks awesome!

Bottom line I had a blast, I really enjoyed the rustic setting and even the hordes of vultures perched atop the conference center. The lodge was the only source of food nearby, and they made you pay for it, but having a bar on site was pretty slick. The cell service was awful but free WiFi made that manageable. I made a lot of new friends and feel like I deepened my relationships with my network colleagues and friends of cons past. 100% intend to attend again next year. I hope you join me! I feel like AcadeCon can only grow, it’s got a strong team backing it. Trust me when I say they are already planning 2016. Our network channels are humming!

Some epic games of Dread were had

Some epic games of Dread were had

-Melvin Smif

P.S. Thanks especially go to Tressa who not only came through with Ibuprofen to cure an impending migraine but also purchased some metallic markers so I could get the network members to sign the copy of Hoard of the Dragon Queen I still need to send off to Aaron Tudyk! Thanks Tressa!!!

Sig

P.P.S If I played a game with you and neglected to mention you by name drop me a line in the comments!