Tag Archives: dnd

Mumbling Thoughts: Basic D&D (5th Edition)

Interrupting my self-imposed blogging hiatus to ramble a bit about the game everyone is talking about: D&D 5th Edition (at least, the freshly released-for-free Basic D&D game.)

I’m going to be lazy and, first, point you to this awesome post on RPGMusings with DM Samuel’s impressions. Seriously, click it, read it, and resume here. I honestly can’t say it any better than him, and I pretty much echo his sentiment. Exceptions being where he’s got mixed feelings on Backgrounds and Inspiration, I have “Shutup and Take My Money” for them.

I ran a one-shot game over the July 4th weekend, with buddies that I used to regularly play Red Box/Basic old-school D&D with. We all share a love for a game that plays pretty quick, isn’t a bitch about table economy, and where character creation doesn’t involve a whole session of time to itself.

I had minimal preparations — I copied some stat blocks of Monsters from one of the playtest packets into One Note, and kept open a PDF of the adventure module Better Than Any Man (written originally for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.) I didn’t run the adventure proper, but I was in the mood for using its historical backdrop of the Thirty Years War, and took advantage of its setting details and random encounters for guide lines.

imagesInstead I ran a simplistic plot of the heroes being mercenaries answering the call to “weed out” chaos cultists who were plaguing the countryside, killing people in their sleep and converting others into “Pigmen” (read: Orcs) to ransack the villages and cause more panic in a time of witch hunts and pending invasion from the Swiss.

It was a good time, resulting in a couple players getting dropped in combat (and the complete death of the Rogue, whom despite having the Cleric constantly healing him ultimately met the working end of an axe by the last pig-man standing, who was near death but still capable of rolling criticals at full force.)

Having become burnt out on 4th Edition after a two year campaign, and then enjoying older editions (coupled with OSR variants) as well as lighter titles like Warrior, Rogue & Mage and BareBones Fantasy, it was nice to sit down to a whole new edition that maintained the romantic feelings I have for the brand but offer some fresh new mechanics.

I think once the Player Handbook and the other core manuals come out, the full game will be a good bridge between OSR and d20/3.5/Pathfinder types. I have no idea if WoTC plans on expanding rules for more 4E style — I’d probably point new-school die hards to 13th Age (from my impressions of a quick glance through) before 5E. But, man, 5E (from the Basic game standpoint) feels good to this veteran of many games and editions.

Already I’m scheming on a campaign that mostly focuses on Basic rules, with perhaps a sprinkling of options from the PHB. I’d like to see concepts like Barbarians, Bards, Rangers and Paladins be built more like Backgrounds and Class Archetypes of the core four classes (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard and Cleric) than full classes. But even if I am suckered into running the “full” 5E game, it’s nice to know I’ll probably have a much easier time hacking d20 or OSR content than I did with fourth edition.

Which is nice — I practically sold all of my 4E rulebooks. I still have a couple shelves filled with older material — including hefty tomes like Ptolus which I would love to crack open more often. It would be cool to finally have a base rules set that could potentially handle a couple decades of collecting.


Free-For-All Friday: Gory Abominations Edition (6/20/2014)

Pandemonio Released for Free!

121027Pandemonio is an updated “amalgamation”  of the Book of Pandemonium role-playing games by Rafael Chandler, and this week he released it as an early Free RPG Day present! This bills itself as “a fast-paced game of splatterpunk action set in a world of violence and decay.” From the description:

“You’re a Disciple, a supernatural warrior on the front lines. Wielding bizarre magics like Sexpletive, Death Panel, Photobomb, and Gunfetti, you must hunt down the diabolical and divine, rescue innocent civilians, and maintain a grip on the tattered vestiges of your humanity. How far will you go to destroy your enemy? Will you resort to cannibalism? Are you certain? Listen, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”

So far, I’ve only glanced through the Player’s Guide and already I’m blown away with the amount of brutal content that is given away here.  There’s at least 75 pages of Magic that includes some of the most hardcore spell lists I’ve seen in a while.  The artwork varies in styles but it’s all pretty perfect for an over the top, gruesome game. Plus, the system focuses on d12’s — it’s about time they get some more love!

If you’re looking for an off-colored modern day gore-fest of slaying angels and demons, you can’t go wrong with Pandemonio — especially at the cost of Free.


Chaos Hordes Released!

This week I discovered Prismatic GM’s old-school blog The Borderlands via re-posts sharing his latest project, Chaos Hordes.  A compilation of his Fortnight of Chaos articles, the document is a collection of Warhammer Fantasy inspired write ups for various chaos marauders, demons and mutations for use with OSR-styled systems. I’ve always enjoyed the Warhammer setting and universe, but have always struggled to acquire or run the games with my groups. This fan project has delivered in all the right places, and now I’m seriously contemplating using it along with Lamentations of the Flame Princess to run a very “grim dark” setting.

Sigil & Shadow News:

I’ve started sharing with a select circle of peeps for possible play testing and feedback.  Already have had some good ideas returned to me, and I’m hoping to get some more actual playtime in over the next couple weeks with some separate play groups.


That’s all I got for this week! Hope everyone has a good weekend (remember it’s Free RPG Day at participating game shops!)


My Useful Apps Spotlight: Jan 2014

The beautiful part of tabletop games as a hobby is once the lights go out, the games go on. But it still doesn’t hurt to take advantage of our modern wonders to help speed things up a bit (or, at least, lighten the load for game night and free up some table space.)

In the past I’ve praised Masterplan for being one of the most complete software suites from Dungeon Masters. The only downside is a lot of the software itself aims specifically at 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. While a lot of the bells and whistles are system agnostic, I felt trying to ignore the 4e-centric tools made for too much distraction in my game prep process.

So this past weekend, with the kickoff of our d20/3.5 Ptolus campaign, I was pleased as punch with the alternatives I found to assist in my campaign prep and combat management, all maintained on my mobile devices and rarely was a book needed to be cracked open on my end.

OneNote (Windows 8, Web via Skydrive, and Android)

Generally speaking, I prefer open sourced alternatives to Microsoft Office (LibreOffice being my favorite.) That said, when I bought my new Windows 8 laptop I was instantly smitten with OneNote MX preinstalled (but is free on the Windows 8 store.) While I’ve tried to adopt services like Evernote or Google’s Keep, OneNote has been the only service that behaves the way I want it to. One of the biggest features is simply how you can organize your information on a page: you can create and edit blocks of text however you need to, not just locked in like a word processor page. I’m able to not only write up the notes for a scene, but keep track of stat blocks to the side, import images or maps for reference, and if I have to I can even keep track of initiative or health on the fly. Prior to this weekend, I’ve used it extensively for REWIRED as well as Fate Accelerated.  I actually keep templates I’ve thrown together in a general “Gaming” notebook so I can quickly slap NPC stats down.

A glimpse of one of my encounters in OneNote. Encounter text, monster stat block, and a map for reference.

The cool part here is not only can keep multiple pages of notes in a campaign file, but entire sections of pages, and even set pages up as sub-pages. You can also link to other notepages, allowing you to setup quick references throughout your plans. And the best part for me? Not being restricted to a single platform. I was able to work on the OneNote MX app on my laptop, the web version on my desktop, and then run the game entire through the Android app on my Nexus 7 tablet.

Combat Assistant

Combat Assistant is an initiative tracker for Android devices. It was primarily designed for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, but with the customized field options it’s easy to use with 3.5 or other editions as well.  It may not be perfect, and is definitely NOT a “universal” solution (it pretty much sticks to rolling a d20 for initiative) but what it does, it does well.

Customizing fields from 4E to d20/3.5
Customizing fields from 4E to d20/3.5
A look at the combat screen, with players and monsters mixed in. Plus conditions.
A look at the combat screen, with players and monsters mixed in. Plus conditions.
Picture taken from the Play Store Page, demonstrating how you can add thumbnail images.
Picture taken from the Google Play Store Page, demonstrating how you can add thumbnail images.












You can try out a free version, but the $0.99 price tag for the full version is perfectly worth being able to save, edit, and even backup your NPC’s, Monsters and Players for future use.

Handy Website Find: Mikael Börjesson’s Monster Project

One of the neatest finds I discovered completely by accident was this Swedish site that has translated a ton of the d20 OGL monster stat blocks into the Monster Manual IV format, both in Swedish and English. While there’s a lot of things I love about D&D third edition, book keeping on the Monster end drove me batshit. The revised stat blocks for these critters has made me incredibly happy, especially since they copy and paste perfectly into OneNote.

So while it’s been a while since I ran D&D, especially any third edition (easily it’s been five years…) it was awesome to find a couple digital assistants that have really aided in not only my prep time, but also kept the pace of the actual play pretty quick. If you have any other solutions you enjoy, and think I should check out, feel free to drop a note in the comments.