Eberron: Rising from the Last War

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I’m late to the review game here folks, but I’d never forget to do a write up on my favorite Campaign Setting for Dungeons and Dragons. Eberron!

If you want to get my thoughts right out front, Eberron: Rising from the Last War is great. Coming in at 320 pages it is very meaty, and long on assistance for the Dungeon Master. Has some excellent tidbits for players too. It’s pretty much what I expect to see from an Eberron Campaign setting book. We’ve seen this before in two previous editions of D&D. This setting in particular always does a great job of introducing the world, without getting long winded. You get the perfect bare bones rundown, and are then handed the tools necessary to run with it. That’s the book in a nutshell. If you want to run games in this Campaign Setting, grab this book and you’ll have all the setup you will likely ever need.

Now, let’s flesh this out!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with a toast to the alternate cover art. It is one of my favorites since they started down this road of providing such a thing. If you have a choice between the standard cover and the alternate it is really a no-brainer here. Vance Kelly knocked it out of the park. A perfect companion to this weird little pulpy, noir, high fantasy, steampunk world. Does everything you need to set the tone. As for the standard cover (pictured above) I’m not a huge fan, simply because it highlights an area of the world setting I never really play around in, personally I preferred the working cover art, which does make an appearance in the book at least.

The first part of the book spends some needed time introducing players to the basics of Eberron. The background of the world, and what to expect about play style. Eberron has always been set almost immediately after a shaky peace has been negotiated between countries that have been at war for a generation. This sets up a very conflicted world that really allows a DM to play around. With this many groups vying to find their place in a newfound world you can go in a myriad of directions. The best thing about how this has always been handled, and continues to be handled, is that there is very little hand holding for the DM. You get the info you need to create, but aren’t told specifically which direction to go with it. We don’t even get to know what caused the major cataclysm that instigated the world to sit up and force a peace! That’s on you to explore. It can make for a somewhat advanced treatment for a DM on where to go, some may need a little more help than that, but I have always appreciated the freedom to stretch my imagination some.

Chapter One kicks off some character creation stuff, and this is where player characters will be spending most of their time. This isn’t a tidbit chunk added to appease folks looking for a few new character options, here we get a solid rundown of the changes you’ll find for races of old, and four whole new races to look at.

  • Changelings – Descended from doppelgangers these individuals can change appearances with ease. Often choosing a static humanoid form to be their day to day appearance because their natural form typically earns them nothing but mistrust. Changeling
  • Kalashtar – Tough to describe but they are essentially the blending of humans and psychic spirits. Certainly new type of race to play around with. In fact I’m reminded that I’ve never done much with them personally. Maybe that should change. Kalashtar
  • Shifters – Descended from Lychanthropes, can take on bestial characteristics in order to enhance their natural abilities.Shifter
  • Warforged – Metallic constructs given sentience for the purposes of war. Where they fit in during a peace time their race has never encountered is up to the player. One of my personal favorite additions.Warforged

We are also given a new class to play with known as the Artificer. This is a classic Eberron class that approaches magic with a mixture of tech, often giving a steampunk feel to the style. The Artificer can currently advance in their roles as Alchemists, who delve into potions and other mixtures, Artillerists, that essentially bring a magical turret to the battlemat, or Battle Smiths who function almost like a combat medic. Overall the Artificer is very setting appropriate, but certainly a class for players who have a bit of experience under their belt. There seems to be a lot going on with this class and you’ll want to be prepped.

Artificer

Another great element to the character creation chapter is the addition of Dragonmarks, which have always been a staple of Eberron, namely I like how they are implemented in 5e. In fact this is probably my favorite implementation to date. In 5e, choosing to take on a Dragonmark replaces your chosen racial/subracial traits. It basically pot commits you to the choice. Really forces a PC’s hand to make use of the role-play aspects of their chosen Dragonmarked house. Definitely a go-to for someone wanting to try something a little different that is setting unique.

DragonMark

Chapter Two delves into Khorvaire, the core of the Eberron world. Here we are informed on the major countries, organizations, faiths, etc. of the lands where the bulk of the action seems to take place in Eberron. At the center of this land mass lies the ever elusive, and highly dangerous, Mournland. The Mournland used to be the country of Cyre until a magical cataclysm turned it into a wasteland of horrific monstrosities and magical hazards. This destruction helped force the uneasy peace that keeps the other powers at be in check, no one wants such a thing to happen in their own backyard.

Sharn

Anyone familiar with Eberron will recognize this iconic artwork.

Chapter Three highlights just one city located on the continent of Khorvaire. What can be so special about the city of Sharn that it gets a chapter all its own? Just to whet your appetite, the city is so massive it must be contained via magic to support it’s growth upwards rather than out. The city of Sharn is aptly referred to as the City of Towers for this reason. If you’re looking for the noir aspects claimed by lovers of this campaign setting here is where you might want to set down some roots. Shadows loom lengthy in a city where those above you get richer as the layers get laid. Mysteries abound around every corner as groups like the Boromar Clan operate like gangsters, or the Tyrants utilize Changelings for information dealing. I’ve personally used Sharn frequently for some excellent adventures. Truly a unique city for tabletop rpgs. The book gives some great detail on districts and organizations. Just enough for you to work with as usual.

Chapter 4 is the Dungeon Master’s toolbox essentially. Lots of great embellishment of villainous groups, and some morally gray ones at that. With the exception of perhaps the Emerald Claw most groups aren’t outright evil, they just find themselves at odds with what many would consider “good” when they start looking out for themselves. You’ll find details of places beyond Khorvaire here, some good maps, travel considerations, and more. Plus, lots and lots of random roll tables to help pad some stuff out. Rounding thing out, we are gifted with a nice little adventure, titled Forgotten Relics, for a DM to either use or peruse in order to get an idea of what an adventure in this setting might look like. Looks to be a one shot that could last two or three sessions.

Emerald Claw Adv Hooks

Chapter 5 focuses on treasure specific to Eberron. Everything here is something you’d find unique to such a world. It isn’t the highlight chapter of the book for me but it is a nice added touch. With over 20 new magic items to dole out it will be easy to nudge one of these items out for the players.

Chapter 6 is a 40 page highlight of some of the NPCs and foes you might run into in this world. I’m always a fan of more baddies to throw at my players, especially ones fresh to a setting so they might not be privy to all the information about the beast. I mean, we need to know what lurks in the Mournland right, or the jungles of Xen’Drik? If the players are foolis…I mean brave enough to try and muck about in such places, I need to be prepared!

My opening remarks stand. Eberron: Rising from the Last War is a gem. One of the best additions to this particular edition’s line of books. If future Campaign Setting source books follow suit we are looking at some great content. It is doubly fun because I could see this book working for the player and the Dungeon Master equally (with a slight edge to the DM, which is to be expected). Quality books or no, the line of large campaign books we’ve seen of late are typically just a DM’s tool with little to offer the players. Here we have some added content that a player character will enjoy. Would have loved to see such a thing for Ravenloft rather than the adventure we received honestly, not that it was a bad adventure just left a lot of opportunity on the table.

I feel like Eberron: Rising from the Last War is a must have.

-Melvs 

P.S. If you’re looking for more Eberron lore to pad your adventures I’d suggest looking into some of the books from previous editions. One of the great things about never advancing the timeline for the setting is that those source books hold up. I personally love Sharn: City of Towers and Five Nations the most. Also, we are starting to see a full crop of Eberron support on DMs Guild (including the pdfs of the two books I mentioned above).

 

 

RPG Academy Network Panel

rpg-academy-banner-long RPG Gamer Dad logo SASGEEK LOGO tribality-e1440169002946 sharkbone-e1440436120771 gamerplane-e1440436134110 eldritchfire-e1440169052749 City of Brass LOGO Smaller Twitter Avatar Talking Tabletop

A few Fridays ago a number of the excellent folks within the RPG Academy Network got together to do our first ever YouTube panel. Titled “The RPG Academy Network: A GM Summit” the panel was dedicated to the minds within our Network discussing, and oft times debating, their different methods for being a Game Master. Through pre-prepped questions and some excellent audience involvement they were able to give some great advice. If you haven’t seen it (or heard it in my case), and have two hours to kill, I’m embedding the link right here:

Sadly, as you may have noticed, I was unable to attend the GM Summit so you didn’t get any of my right\wrong opinions on some of the questions. Well, I copied down the questions as I went along so I can answer them right here. Hopefully I can offer up some advice just as useful as my peers!

What is my favorite system and why?

Savage Worlds Logo

Things began with this nice little warm up question, one I find very difficult to narrow down. Should I focus on pure nostalgia and go with Dungeons and Dragons? It has been the staple system in my core group and certainly the game I’ve played the most. However, I think if I really had to choose a system to dedicate the rest of my gaming on I’d go with Savage Worlds. I’ve spoken on it many time in this blog so if you’re a committed reader, you know I love it. It’s just the best little generic system money can buy, and it slips oh so perfectly into damn near any genre.

What are some tips on handling feedback from your players?

I think most of the group hit the nail on the head with this one by mentioning that if you are honestly looking for feedback you need to be ready to receive it. This doesn’t mean you need to sit there while someone lambastes your game but you should certainly take the time to consider if their critiques might actually hold some constructive value. In the past I’ve been very easy going with how I sought critiques and I get them but they are almost always positive in nature, I may need to be a bit more formal with my requests if I plan to get any true feedback.

How do you set expectations for your games?

I rarely run something that is limiting to my group. I choose a system and let them pick from all available options. The only time this will change is if whatever group I’m planning to run a game for collectively with me decide we want to run something very specific. For example I ran a one shot game where the players were all Bullywugs trying to protect their swamplands from humans. Obviously my players would need to know going in that they are restricted to that race. I can’t really point to a time where I sprung a long list of expectations on anyone. To me deciding the next game is highly collaborative.

For a first time GM how much should be planned/not planned. Thoughts on houseruling?

I am a terrible person to ask about planning anything. From day one my games have been highly improvisational, and I plan very little beyond a core concept of the first adventure. I will usually have an idea where that first game will go, and usually have a group of enemies set aside, but I am blessed with being very quick on my feet in game and few can even tell I’m flying completely off the cuff. True story, one night my entire set of notes for the upcoming adventure were the words “Giant Vultures seem cool”.

This approach is not for everyone, and certainly not a beginner, unless you have a solid knowledge of the game world you are playing around in. I’m hardly perfect either last year I had the players fight against a werewolf as a random encounter in my Eberron Campaign only to recall midfight that the Church of the Silver Flame had long ago eradicated lycanthropes (and all other –thropes for that matter). Most of the time I do a pretty good job though!

With this approach I usually take copious notes during my games and utilize the direction the players are driving the story to set up for the next adventure so I can avoid any plot holes by omitting some info (or an NPC’s name) the next time around. The best use for this method, if you’ve a solid grasp of it, is to use it during one offs. You don’t need to worry about plot holes there!

As far as “houseruling” I would avoid actively houseruling prior to starting the game. Meaning during PC creation and the like. During the game though, don’t be afraid to break a minor rule here and there to do what makes sense to the group if you can’t immediately recall how to do something. Just make a note of the confusion and come back to it during a break or something. Lengthy rule searching can bog things down and your table might even adapt the new style of doing things after all.

Improv Game, scenes from a hat.

88665-fiasco

I wish I’d been on the panel for this question. As mentioned above I love improv, I have a lot of experience with the theatrical improv scene on up to the collegiate level and honestly RPGs are a way I specifically scratch the itch I have to act and play an improv game. I think the creation of a game using a “Scenes from a Hat” method could be fun but it would really depend on the system and if the players are also game.

There are games that essentially do this anyway, Fiasco specifically comes to mind. You could easily draw a scene at random there and then the rest is practically random generation anyway. If you’re hell-bent on doing this with D&D recall that there are a lot of random generation tables in the DMG this time around.

What keeps a game from falling apart?

I’ve GM’d a lot, and I’d call myself a strong GM. This does not keep every game I run from falling apart though. Sometimes it just happens and you need to be prepared for it. It happened far less when I was a teenager and a college student naturally because a big part of the problem these days can simply be attributed to having to adult. You will never be able to fully stop this from happening and really you shouldn’t try. I feel people need to be honest with themselves whether they have time to game, and it is a commitment. If you feel shaky about the group just do short stories or one shots.

Beyond the unavoidable pitfalls of life keeping the player’s interest in your game mostly boils down to player investment. If even on player isn’t invested they have the capability to bring exciting moments to a dead stop and even sour the rest of the players’ excitement levels for the game. The next question seems like a good place to expound on this!

In a long Campaign how do you keep things fresh?

So how do you keep things fresh, for everyone, all the time? Well… you likely won’t but you can sure as Hell try! I really attempt to work a player’s background into the game early on and make their character’s choices from that background and in game going forward matter. It usually does the trick for some of the more story loving types, and it’s why I usually suggest at least a bit of a background (and love seeing the 3 pager backgrounds!).

There are players who are just there for the boardgame aspect of the game though and it is important to shake things up mechanically from time to time. If you run the same combat over and over (doesn’t matter if it’s against different monsters) you won’t grab these folks’ attention. Mix it up, be sure to have a fight that really showcases a certain PC’s style sometimes. You’ll catch their eye!

How do you deal with being thrown for a loop by the players?

I think you can likely surmise my method for this. It’s hard to be thrown for a loop when you go into a game expecting the players to do a lot of driving the story for you. I run into the opposite issue sometimes with newer groups that expect me to drive things exclusively so that’s something I personally need to be aware of.

Where do you start writing a campaign?

So my style doesn’t allow for pages upon pages of prepped material going into a campaign but I have gone into a new game with a minimalistic view of the story I’d like to tell. I might conceive of a big bad for example that I want to be the final showdown and then let the game organically include them. I sometimes make a bit of a plot point graph where I want certain events to occur and, as stated above, let the game pull me to them (or sometimes change them completely). I just don’t spend a lot of time on prep unless it’s an encounter, a trap, a skill challenge I want to add in, or maybe even an NPC. Even then I sometimes don’t know when those items will show up until it just feels right.

What’s one extra piece of advice for new GMs?

Take notes during the game, especially when something appears out of nowhere. Some players are really interested in continuity so if you called a last second crafted innkeeper Mac last session and described how he spit polished a glass with only 9 fingers gripping the rag you don’t want to accidently forget these facts. Some will certainly call you on it.

Most of all, have fun with it and be ready to be a bit self-deprecating. When I admitted my error with the werewolf my players started calling my campaign setting “SmEberron” (Smith’s Eberron) claiming, in a tongue and cheek manner, that I wildly detract from the setting all the time. I got a good laugh out of it as well.

Essentially Tabletop RPG’s are ultimately games. They can be very personal games and hold some powerful sway in our lives if you’re one of the die-hard fans, but if at any point you aren’t enjoying yourself, the majority of the time, take a step back and analyze why that might be. Things should be fun. As the flagship folks of The RPG Academy Network say “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right”.

You know what, I say one more thing. Bring folks into the fold, be open to new players. The impetus to grow our gaming community lies with us for the most part. So if you’ve a gift for sharing this awesome hobby of ours, do so please!

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I can honestly say it has been a very rewarding experience for me!

Take care folks, have a blast, and feel free to hit me up with any other questions you may have!

Hope to see some of you at AcadeCon!!!

-Melvs

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Melvin Smif’s Geekery 2015 Contest Winners

Roughly a month ago I celebrated my birthday, and the successful funding of AcadCon, with a contest. I tasked folks with an adventure write-off seeking two concepts, one for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition and one for Savage Worlds (originally just the Deadlands setting, and then later any Savage Worlds setting).  After numerous submissions and two weeks to review them all I’ve chosen the winners! A big congratulations Garrett Weinstein and Aaron Tudyk.

Garrett  is the proud new owner of a copy of the Savage Worlds Explorer Edition, signed and personalized by Shane Hensley. Garrett brings us a Deadlands adventure that caught my attention namely with its initial hook, see if it catches yours – “A woman stumbles into town, half-dead from thirst and exhaustion, and shackled to a pine coffin that she’s dragging behind her. She has a rather fresh-looking bloody scar on her forehead that has been bleeding into her left eye, and an empty holster at her waist. Her gun-belt is also empty of bullets.”  Tell me that doesn’t grab your attention, make you want to saddle up, and save the day?

Aaron’s entry was by far the most involved. While it doesn’t lay out any of the adventure itself but it did come with an incredibly detailed backstory leading up to the beginning where the players would first encounter the issue at hand. Starting with the common trope of a small village besieged by an unknown threat the concept makes for a great adventure that will flip some expectations on their ear.

Now I can’t go into great detail because I plan to run at least one of these at AcadeCon, both if I have time. After that, with the authors’ permission, I’ll be sure to post both to the site with my full write-ups on each. Hopefully my changes won’t rankle too much ;).

You can find Garrett at his site Ninjas Riding Dinosaurs and Aaron on Twitter @Skydut. Me you can find here of course or on Twitter @SharnDM

-Melvs

 

 

RPGaDAY 2015!

rpg-a-day-2015

Last year I dutifully posted a single post dedicated to this topic daily, even during my trip to Gen Con 2014. Well, last year’s Kevin apparently had time on his hands because it didn’t even register as a possibility this year. No worries though, I’m feeding you all the info you need today. I know you’ve been waiting for this with baited breath (my answers to this…not who won the contest right?). So let’s get to it!


AUGUST 1ST: FORTHCOMING GAME YOU’RE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO

Pheonix dawn command

That would be Phoenix Dawn Command by Keith Baker. The premise excites me the most, player characters expected to die heroically and return from the dead to fight once more. It’s been kickstarted and I for one can’t wait for the final product!

AUGUST 2ND: KICKSTARTED GAME YOU’RE MOST PLEASED YOU BACKED

Spirit of '77

I actually missed out on Phoenix Dawn Command so I can’t reiterate that campaign. However, it’d be hard pressed to out-due my love for Spirit of ’77 anyway! I’ve had some immense fun reading through the rule-book ever since it arrived. Easily the most groovy Kickstarted I’ve ever been a part of.

AUGUST 3RD: FAVORITE NEW GAME OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS

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Has to be Unleashed. I wrote about it extensively here on the blog, and you should certainly check it out for yourself. The game uniquely places its players in the boots of some of the most savage “heroes” you could muster up. The concept works on all levels, and I can’t wait to run more of it at my table.

AUGUST 4TH: MOST SURPRISING GAME

gamma world

I’d go with Gamma World, the version made with a hack of the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition rule-set. What surprises me the most is how well it actually works. I’ve always been a fan of 4th Edition but I think some of the gaming concepts the edition brings to the table actually work best in Gamma World. A really fun, quick to set up, game. Still a go-to for me when I need something last minute.

AUGUST 5TH: MOST RECENT RPG PURCHASE

I don’t purchase a lot of RPG’s from the established companies these days, perk of being a blogger. I do back some of the Kickstarters I believe in the most though as they don’t have the resources to simply gift me a review copy. Some of the Kickstarters I’ve back recently have been Spirit of ’77, BattleBards, Of Dreams and Magic, Feng Shui 2, Karthun, & Fae Nightmares. I realize BattleBards isn’t preceisely an RPG but I like them enough to put them on the list.

AUGUST 6TH: MOST RECENT RPG PLAYED

I took a jaunt over to Illinois recently to hang out with some of my buddies over at the Gamerstable Podcast to… help with something I’m not at liberty to discuss. Anyway, I got to play Pathfinder for the first time. I played a ton of D&D 3.X back in the day so it wasn’t anything I found myself being “introduced to”, it’s the same game really. I did get to play Greyhawk for the first time ever though. It was a huge pleasure playing games with those folks, always a good time.

AUGUST 7TH: FAVORITE FREE RPG

OSH

Nothing has changed from last year, my favorite free RPG continues to be Old School Hack. A fantastic little pick up game with some great support on it’s website. An honorable mention does go out to FATE though. I need to dig into that a bit more.

AUGUST 8TH: FAVORITE APPEARANCE OF RPG’S IN THE MEDIA

I imagine this was meant to be “popular media” and I generally don’t care for how it’s portrayed honestly. I think Role-Play Gaming is just too personal a thing for me and any time I see someone trying to portray it they just get it wrong somehow. It can be the smallest quirk in how they decide to play and I’m out. I don’t get angry though, a poor portrayal isn’t going to ruin the game for me anyway.

AUGUST 9TH: FAVORITE MEDIA YOU WISH WAS AN RPG

Steven Universe

I kindof just let my brain leap to the first thing I’d love to play and I think I’d love an expanded world of Steven Universe to play around in. For those not familiar with the show I’d check it out. Has a great mix of comedy and an utterly intriguing world. Would be awesome to play a character as some form of Gem. I’d also love to play a crazed Rick and Morty RPG.

rick and morty

AUGUST 10TH: FAVORITE RPG PUBLISHER

I’d have to go with Pinnacle Entertainment Group. They make Savage Worlds and a number of the Campaign Settings I love from the rule-set. I’m also a huge fan of Privateer Press these days, I mean Iron Kingdoms and Unleashed are amazing.

AUGUST 11TH: FAVORITE RPG WRITER

This one’s tough but I’ll go with Keith Baker. The guy is just so friendly to fans and he made my favorite D&D setting of all time, Eberron.

AUGUST 12TH: FAVORITE RPG ILLUSTRATION

Currently I’m digging the bar fight from the cover of the Unleashed book.

unleashed bar fight

AUGUST 13TH: FAVORITE RPG PRODUCT

My most go-to RPG Product would be my dice I guess.

My three strongest sets of rollers!

My three strongest sets of rollers!

AUGUST 14TH: FAVORITE RPG ACCESSORY

I’ve always been really excited by the prospect of what the folks at Trapdoor Technologies keeps trying to bring us and they seem to have found their place lately with their app Playbook. It’s a soft launch of the product with more to come but go check it out!

AUGUST 15TH: LONGEST CAMPAIGN PLAYED

Back in high school our main DM Mike “The Meatfist” ran a D&D 3.5 game set in the Forgotten Realms that lasted years and took us from level 1 to level 18. Solidly long game. Wish we’d actually tied it up with a true ending.

AUGUST 16TH: LONGEST GAME SESSION PLAYED

Honestly this could be represented by any number of games I played back in college. There were times we’d start in the afternoon and leave the house with the sun peeking out for sunrise. I can’t name one single time that was the longest though.

AUGUST 17TH: FAVORITE FANTASY RPG

It’s Dungeons and Dragons, it will probably always be.

AUGUST 18TH: FAVORITE SF RPG

I love the concepts in Numenera, and would love to play it more, I just can’t run the game. I have a mind built for fantasy and Numenera is too weird for me there!

AUGUST 19TH: FAVORITE SUPERS RPG

Eh, never been a huge fan. Maybe I just need a GM who can introduce me to a game where I actually enjoy it.

AUGUST 20TH: FAVORITE HORROR RPG

Dread. I love the added thrill of the Jenga tower. I do need more exposure to other horror games though.

AUGUST 21ST: FAVORITE RPG SETTING

EBERRON!

combat_eberron

AUGUST 22ND: PERFECT GAMING ENVIRONMENT

With friends. Cheesy as Hell, but there it is. I do prefer an in person game to one over the net.

AUGUST 23RD: PERFECT GAME FOR YOU

One where everyone is involved with only slight distraction for cutting a few jokes. Plenty of role-play with characters that everyone wants to play, and interesting combat.

AUGUST 24TH: FAVORITE HOUSE RULE

Not worrying about stuff like arrows or food and water.

AUGUST 25TH: FAVORITE REVOLUTIONARY GAME MECHANIC

The 20 sided die.

AUGUST 26TH: FAVORITE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR GAME

Conversations with friends and colleagues. I love tapping into resources like The RPG Academy Network I’m a part of or The Vagabond Gamers G+ group I helped start. We are all gifted creatives and bouncing ideas off one another rocks.

AUGUST 27TH: FAVORITE IDEA FOR MERGING TWO GAMES INTO ONE

Can’t say I have tons of experience with this one but I do enjoy taking a gaming style from on area and making it work in Savage Worlds. For example when Gamerstable took Conan and used Savage Worlds to run it.

AUGUST 28TH: FAVORITE GAME YOU NO LONGER PLAY

My Eberron game from a few years back. Loved the players’ characters, my NPC’s, and where the story was headed. Sadly it fell apart. Non-Revivable.

AUGUST 29TH: FAVORITE RPG WEBSITE/BLOG

You mean other than Melvin Smif’s Geekery? I’m a huge fan of everyone in the RPG Academy Network, you should certainly check them out. Other than that I like The Angry GM‘s stuff, Gamerstable Podcast, Monkey in the Cage, and Dyvers.

AUGUST 30TH: FAVORITE RPG PLAYING CELEBRITY

Probably Steven Colbert. He wears it on his sleeve pretty heavily and I think the more you see that the more likely others are going to want to try the games.

AUGUST 31ST: FAVORITE NON-RPG THING TO COME OUT OF RPG’ING

Video Games. Without RPG’s most of the things people really dig in video games would have been less likely to ever show up. Hit Points, Experience, Levels. You can thank RPGs for that.


There you have it folks! Let me know some of you answers below! As an added note, I’ll have the winners of my contest posted by Friday September 11th! Don’t forget about the AcadeCon Kickstarter either! It’s winding down but there are still badges to pick up. Would love to see you there.

-Melvs.

CONTEST! From Me to You on my Birthday

Hey all, it’s my birthday! I turned 30 today and I’ve got gifts on the brain, but not for me, for you! Not only that but this is my 100th post! I’ve been wanting to hold a contest for a while now and figured today would be the best day to roll it out. So with out further adieu I present:

Melvin Smif’s Pitch Me a Game 

(Just imagine I put some picture of me throwing a 20 sider to a baseball catcher or something. I…I really didn’t feel like doing that.)

RPG Academy Logo

So I’m very excited for AcadeCon, and the Kickstarter, as you may recall from my most recent post. I plan to run a number of games while I’m there and have some great ideas for all of them but I’m willing to bet some of you might have some better ones so I’m going to ask you to pitch me your best concept for a Savage Worlds: Deadlands and/or 5th Edition D&D (bonus points if you use the Eberron setting!).

The pitch can be as brief or as lengthy as you wish it to be (though I’ll admit the more creative you get the more I’ll likely dig it) and I’m going to pick two winners. One for the best Deadlands pitch and one for the best 5th Edition pitch. The winners will be receiving some source books.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen

The winner for the best 5th Edition D&D pitch will receive a copy of the adventure Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

Savage Worlds Logo

The winner for the best Savage Worlds Deadlands pitch will receive a copy of the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition signed and personalized for them by Shane Hensley himself!

If I really like the pitches I’ll probably write those adventures up and they may feature at AcadeCon with your names mentioned as Co-Authors of course. After you win you are welcome to continue helping me polish your games if you can;t make it to AcadeCon, or if you can I will run the game for you. After AcadeCon I will feature the adventures on the site.So here’s how you enter. Send an email to melsmifcontest@gmail.com. In the subject line give me “YOUR NAME – ADVENTURE NAME/CONCEPT – SYSTEM” after that it’s all you, give me a sentence, paragraph, word doc, etc. put as much into it as you want! Like I said above, more effort will earn the best chances but hey, who knows you may line up the best couple of words I’ve ever seen so don’t let that discourage you ;)!

Contest will run for two weeks and I’ll have the winners within another two weeks tops!

Feel free to ask questions below or even share your ideas. Good luck folks!

-Melvs

Introducing AcadeCon

AcadeCon will take place November 13-15th 2015 at the Hueston Lodge in Oxford, Ohio.

RPG Academy Logo

Not long ago I became a proud member of the ever-growing “RPG Academy Network”. We are a collaborative group of gaming-centric creatives spanning many areas including blogging, podcasting, and even online gaming. The flagship for our group is The RPG Academy, podcast and online gamers extraordinaire. Michael and Caleb G. run the site and Podcast with an ever interesting rotation of faculty from the site and guest stars to spice things up on their actual plays and podcasts, not to mention a number of useful blog posts and gaming tools.

I’m not here to talk about all that though, I’m here to let you know about AcadeCon. In the past, Michael and Caleb G. have thrown a small version of the con in their neck of the woods but this year they are growing things a bit. This year’s AcadeCon, taking place November 13-15th at the Hueston Lodge in Oxford, Ohio, will be the first step into the brave new world of planning a larger scale convention.

Lodge

The lodge is a beautiful looking place for a convention. Also, could be just creepy enough at night for a good game of Dread!

They have space set aside for roughly 150 badge carrying players and gamemasters, and the con’s special guests. Not only will many of the RPG Academy Network be there (myself included) but they’ve managed to put together a truly enticing list of notables from around the community. Podcasting guests include James D’Mato & Kat Kuhl, from the One Shot & Campaign Podcasts, and DM’s Mitch and Chris, from the Dungeon Master’s Block Podcast. Following that are makers of games many of you play and love. Big names like Rich Baker, Rob Schwalb, John Wick, and Shawn Carman. For being the first AcadeCon truly thrown to the public, the special guest list is packed!

So, AcadeCon has already funded. This means it’s on, we are having a Con. The thing is there are still badges available for people to attend. You should get on this. I can’t imagine the convention remaining a 150 person soiree in future years so this is your chance to get in on the ground floor and be one of those folks who raises their hand when asked if they’ve been to every year. A better selling point is the mixture of the big names mentioned above and the limited size of the con. Like I said, I can’t see this con being this small ever again so if you want a great chance to mingle with some of the folks who make these games, this year’s your chance!

Before I let you go just know that this promises to be a weekend of great gaming fun. I know I’ll be up late playing and running games (likely running more games than I even promised to run). It’ll be awesome to be involved with this landmark beginning of what I see becoming a big deal. If you have any questions feel free to ask me and if I can’t answer I’ll pass it along to those who can. Hope to see you there, come game with us folks!

Games I plan to run:

  • Savage Worlds: Deadlands
  • Savage Worlds: Homebrew game featuring Bullywug PC’s
  • 5th Edition D&D Eberron

Games I’ll have on hand that I’d love to run:

  • Iron Kingdoms Unleashed
  • Dread
  • Anything Savage Worlds
  • 4th Edition Gamma World

-Melvs

Kickstarter Vid:

5e Eberron and The Purpose of Unearthed Arcana

Big news from Wizards today as we receive our first tidbit of information ever on Eberron content for 5th Edition!

Eberron

The information on Eberron has been rolled out as a part of what Wizards is calling their ‘Unearthed Arcana’ article series that is to be promoted as a “monthly workshop where D&D R&D shows off a variety of new and interesting pieces of RPG design for use at your gaming table”.  Essentially we are getting a behind the scenes look at what the folks are working on over on the coast, and I was of course delighted when I found they are working on Eberron.

Sharn

Sharn: Kind of a big deal…definitely a big place!

 

I’ve made many a mention regarding Eberron being my favorite D&D setting.  My twitter handle incorporates the name of the setting’s largest city and location of my most successful campaign to date, Sharn, and I’m even running a 5e game there as we speak!  It is easy enough to do but the players have been limited to what’s been available thus far regarding character choices and I’m certainly ready to incorporate certain races and classes into my NPC pool.

Eberron is not only popular but is certainly a setting that will require little in the way of an update, so it is natural to be a first choice when deciding to add to their pool of settings.  The world of Khorvaire has always been at its best set a mere five years after the close of the “Last War”, and that’s not just my opinion but one held by its prime creator Keith Baker.  So we’ve no need for a large update on lore, simply some mechanics. 

So it is with no more fanfare that I provide you with the LINK to the article so you can download the pdf yourself.  Now, lets see what is being offered as the rough cut for Eberron rules!

A FEW NEW RACES:

CHANGELING: Looks like getting that amazing Shapechanger ability caused some pullback on Ability Score benefits.

SHIFTER: Shifting is a Bonus action! They also brought back the many Subraces of Shifter, nice.

WARFORGED: Pretty standard stuff here, they get an extra +1 AC (bigger deal in this edition). No mention of how that works with Armor though.  5e’s emphasis on removing fiddly bits may just mean they start at a base of 11 AC.

A NEW WIZARD TRADITION:

ARTIFICER: Looks like the Artificer, who has been a class all its own in previous versions, has been rolled into the Wizard pool of Traditions to choose from.  Looks pretty damn cool too, spending spell slots to brew potions, infuse scrolls, and infuse Weapons/Armor.  Lots of rules that try to keep you in check from spamming such things though.

AN EBERRON SPECIFIC RULE:

ACTION POINTS: Looks like Action points inspired the “Hero Points” optional rule in the DMG.  Hell, I’d forgotten about Action Points.

AND A NEW FEAT:

DRAGONMARKS: It was initially odd to me to see these as a feat rather than a Background until I remembered that Backgrounds are reserved for what your characters used to be, not who they are now and many would like to actually play out their inclusion in Dragonmarked houses.  Looks like Dragonmark Benefits give you a group of spells to pull from and increases in power without ever having to spend more feat slots.  That’s a nice change, it was pretty dismal in 3.5 having to spend copious amounts of much needed feat slots just to make your Dragonmark stronger.  Also, to represent an Aberrant Dragonmark all one needs to do is choose the “Magic Initiate” feat from the PHB.

MY FULL TAKE:

As excited as a Warforged Juggernaut geting to take out a puny wooden door!

As excited as a Warforged Juggernaut geting to take out a puny wooden door!

I’m liking the rules provided after my initial scan, and honestly wondering why we would ever need much more than what is provided here.  Maybe it still needs some tweaks, I’ll see for myself playing these out, but the lore is already expansive so I doubt anyone would need to actually buy a book on it.  I still maintain we’ll probably see an Adventurer’s League series based in Eberron where all of this will be introduced.  Who knows, I like what I see though!  what about you?

 

-Melvs