MORE Ravenloft!!!

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on February 23, 2021 by boccobsblog

Fans of the demiplane of dread will be happy to hear that Wizards of the Coast is releasing Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.
According to the WotC D&D Facebook page:

Fans of horror in Dungeons & Dragons know there is much more beyond the Gothic horror in 2016’s Curse of Strahd. That’s where Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft comes in with a refresh of more than 30 Domains of Dread and their infamous Dark Lords. Want to know what’s happening in the surreal fairy tale landscape of Dementlieu? Or in the dark jungles of Valachan? Or what magical horrors D&D players with Dark Gifts will have to contend against in Haslan? Van Richten will be your guide when the mist beckons on May 18th!

Monsters of the Wild

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons, Kickstarter with tags , , on February 19, 2021 by boccobsblog

Andrew Cawood and and his crew of creatives are back with the fourth title in the Monster series: Monsters of the Wilderness – Oswald’s Curse. While the other three titles focused on one environment, Oswald’s Curse traverses seven different biomes, each defined by unique monsters. This beautiful collection of over 100 5e monsters (more if we hit those stretch goals) is entwined with the story of Oswald Myrr, a powerful, and seemingly mad, wizard bent on revenge.

According to their press release:

Now on Kickstarter! Monsters of the Wilderness is the 4th book in our bestselling 5E Monster Series! 140-160 pages, fully-illustrated, full-color with hardcover, softcover, and PDF versions. Up to 120 monsters in 7 distinct regions, adventure hooks, encounter tables, events tables, locations tables, GM advice, and more. Stretch goals include extra monsters, PC subclasses, interior cover art, and custom-made dice from Q-workshop.

 Oswald Myrr is a legendary wizard who has been banished by the Wizard Council. This crazy spellcaster has unleashed a curse on the world after opening numerous portals called ‘Riftgates’. These openings enable travel around the world and to other planes. However, many evil creatures from other worlds and strange, dark energies have come through the Riftgates. 

The book is divided into 7 wilderness regions: Ocean, Arctic, Desert, Swamp/Jungle, Forest, Hills/Lakes, and Mountains. Each region has a wizard or witch from the Wizard Council and a monstrous titan (see below). 

This book features artwork by Travis Hanson. Hanson is the creator of the Life of the Party, and Beam, tabletop RPG comic strips. Hanson has provided the artwork for the previous monster books and given the line a solid, cohesive feel.

Monsters of the Wilderness: Oswald’s Curse is funding now on Kickstarter. Funding will continue until Thu, March 4 2021 7:59 PM CST. Check it out! You can learn more about Cawood Publishing, and grab their D&D5e adventures at worldofmyrr.com

Interview with Author Jean Rabe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 25, 2021 by boccobsblog

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jean Rabe about her latest novel, Black Heart of the Dragon God! I met Jean a few years ago at FlatCon and can honestly say that she is an amazing writer, cunning gamer, and sincere animal-lover.

While your most recent works have been modern mysteries, you’re no stranger to fantasy. How many D&D novels have you written?

A bunch. My first was Red Magic, a Harper’s book, it came out in 1991 … yeah, a good while back. I wrote two pick-a-path novels after that, also set in the D&D realms, then moved to Dragonlance, where I wrote three trilogies and three standalones. So … fifteen!

What is the weirdest thing you learned while writing this novel?

That female mountain goats have horns. I don’t suppose that’s a weird thing … but it was something I hadn’t known.

Did your experience writing Dragonlance novels prepare you for this project?

Certainly. I was a news reporter before I wrote fiction, and so I started with a tight style and used complete sentences. It took Bill Larson, the editor of Red Magic, to get me to relax. He insisted I sit and listen to strangers in cafes and in the park. “People do not talk in complete sentences.” At least not all the time. So I followed his advice, and my dialog got better and better. I still sit and listen to people in the park and in cafes, always with a notebook in hand.

Patrick McGilligan, who edited my Dragonlance novels, taught me to “take time with magic.” He said magic is awesome and amazing, and when you use it, draw it out with imagery. So I never had a character cast a magic missile spell. I had a character who concentrated, thrust out his arm and extended his fingers, felt his skin itch and warm, and then watched as darts of hot, bright light shot forth.

Brian Thomsen, who ran the book department for a while, and who later edited my novels for Tor, taught me to limit magic. The fewer characters able to cast it, the less magic in your world, the more special and wondrous the magic you employ comes across.

So writing Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance gave me better preparation for my own fiction, including Black Heart of the Dragon God.

What sets your protagonist, Goranth, apart?

He’s a musclebound former pirate who is wildly strong, wholly embraces life … and yet has a soft side and is willing to stick his neck out for strangers. He loves wealth, but he’s not greedy about it; he only wants his share.

Where would he land on the pineapple on pizza debate?

Never pineapple on pizza. Just meat.

Have you and Craig Martelle worked together before?

Craig edited an anthology called Metamorphosis Alpha 3: A Generation Ship Catastrophe Survived (Chronicles from the Warden). Here’s the link. I had a story in it; robots that went deadly nuts. Craig emailed me and asked why we hadn’t written anything together. I had a sword & sorcery novel outline in my computer that I’d not gotten around to writing. I sent it to him, asked if he was interested. I had such great fun writing with him. It turned into Black Heart of the Dragon God. We hope to get another Goranth the Mighty book out by summer’s end.

How does the sword & sorcery genre differ from high fantasy?

Hmmmmmmmm. I think sword & sorcery can be high fantasy, but not all high fantasy can be considered sword & sorcery. To me, a good sword & sorcery yarn is gritty, magic is limited, the main character is big and bold, and there is a good amount of blood. A lot of sword fights. I think high fantasy can be more polite and more politically complex. But … that’s just my take.

Could Goranth defeat Eleanor Roosevelt in a thumb wrestling match?

No. Goranth the Mighty would not participate in a thumb-wrestling match. Thumb wrestling is for children and drunkards.

Who is your cover artist?

Ain’t he great? Goranth’s artist is Didier Graffet, a French painter who specializes in fantasy and steampunk.

What was the most difficult part of writing this novel?

The death scenes. I love to kill characters. I think it makes the struggle or goal or prize more costly and feel more real when you off characters. Hopefully it gives readers a bit of a “gut punch.” But I also hate to kill characters … saying goodbye to someone you crafted.

Where can B3 readers purchase a copy of Black Heart of the Dragon God?

It goes on sale January 25th. It is available for pre-order now in ebook form. Paperbacks can be ordered on the twenty-fifth. I think people will want a paper copy because of the gorgeous Didier cover. Here’s the link.

An old friend gave us an awesome blurb/review. I feel compelled to share:

Ed Greenwood, Internationally Bestselling creator of Forgotten Realms had this to say…What if Conan wasn’t a grim loner, but a stalwart in a band who banter, bicker, and brawl their way through life? Then he’d be one of the heroes in Black Heart of the Dragon God. Real people, in the heart of adventure. This tale plunges you into their midst, to see and smell and feel what they do–as they change the world. And they’re good company; I can’t wait for sequels! Dangerous company, though. They start by hunting dragons…

My web page: www.jeanrabe.com

I am on Twitter

My Amazon author page

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about weird news items, pics of my dogs, discussions of upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here.



The Great Dulmuti is Here!

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast with tags , on November 17, 2020 by boccobsblog

The Great Dulmuti

The Great Dulmuti was a game by Magic: the Gathering creator Richard Garfield. Garfield based the game on a much older card game called, President, and published it in 1995. Now WotC has revised the game and given it a D&D theme. According to their website:

A Fast-Paced Card Game of One-Upmanship

Sometimes you roll a 1…

… and sometimes you roll a 20 and crush it! In the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game, the dice may control your fate, but in The Great Dalmuti, it’s about how cleverly you play the cards you’re dealt. One round you’re polishing your royal crown, and the next you’re whacking rats in a filthy alley. It’s a gloat-filled, winner-take-all contest in this D&D-themed version of the classic card game.

Item details

Price: $14.99
Release Date: 17 November, 2020
Format: 4-8 players, ages 8 and up

Here are some samples of the cards:

You can see all the cards here. Do you use game like this or Three-Dragon Ante in your campaign?  The Great Dulmuti is available at your FLGS and Amazon.

Ravenloft Revamped

Posted in D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on October 20, 2020 by boccobsblog

WotC has revised the Curse of Strahd adventure, and released it as a boxed set. According to WotC:

Bury Yourself in Gothic Horror

Unearth the terror of Ravenloft in this boxed adventure for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

Under raging storm clouds, the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich stands silhouetted against the ancient walls of Castle Ravenloft. Rumbling thunder pounds the castle spires. The wind’s howling increases as he turns his gaze down toward the village of Barovia.

Far below, yet not beyond his keen eyesight, a party of adventurers has just entered his domain. Strahd’s face forms the barest hint of a smile as his dark plan unfolds. He knew they were coming, and he knows why they came—all according to his plan.

A lightning flash rips through the darkness, but Strahd is gone. Only the howling of the wind fills the midnight air. The master of Castle Ravenloft is having guests for dinner. And you are invited.

Coffin Components

Curse of Strahd, one of the most popular Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game products of all time, split into three parts: a 224-page perfect-bound adventure for characters of levels 1–10, a 20-page Creatures of Horror booklet of new monsters that appear in the adventure, and an 8-page Tarokka Deck booklet.

A cover sheet with Strahd von Zarovich’s image on one side and Strahd’s monster stat block on the other.

A sturdy, four-panel Dungeon Master’s screen designed for use with the adventure.

A double-sided poster map showing the domain of Barovia on one side and Castle Ravenloft on the other.

54 foil-stamped Tarokka cards, which help determine the heroes’ path through the adventure.

A tuck box to hold the Tarokka deck.

12 postcards (3 copies each of 4 different cards), which you can use to invite friends to your game.

Is this new boxed set just a money grab? Is it in response to recent criticism to WotC handling of the handicapped NPC or the Vistini? In either case, will you be taking your players through the mists to the Demiplane of Dread?

Natural 20 Shirts

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2020 by boccobsblog

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Carl Huber of Natural 20 Shirts. Carl asked me to review his line of gamer T-shirts. Natural 20 has a variety of nerdy tees. There is a virtual treasure trove of original D&D designs, as well as Bob’s Burgers and Rick and Morty merch.

According to their website:

We specialize in Dungeons & Dragons tshirts, and nerdy tshirts of all kinds. Find your favorite TV show here, like Bob’s Burgers tshirts or Rick and Morty tshirts. Find Star Trek tshirts and more! Don’t forget we also offer our designs on coffee mugs, notebooks, stickers, and all sorts of great items.

Quality

I own the Dungeon Master tee shown above. It fits great, is soft, and the images are high-quality. I’ve worn my shirt several times since getting it in the mail and it has held up well to being washed. Compared to other D&D T-shirts (and I own several), the Natural 20 shirts are superior.

Variety

Natural 20 Shirts uses Teepublic, Threadless, and Redbubble to produce and deliver their products, this allows customers to use a website they prefer and trust, as well as get the design of their choosing on mugs, phone cases, pillows, notebooks, etc.

Natural 20 Shirts has the best collection of D&D gifts, merch, and clothing, hands down. I love the original designs. Often social media is crammed with the same old puns and images on D&D shirts.

Check them out!

D&D Adventure Begins

Posted in board game, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on October 1, 2020 by boccobsblog

Looking for a gateway game to get the next generation hooked on Dungeons and Dragons? WotC has a new D&D themed board game for children ages ten and up. According to their website:

Your Fast, Fun Entry into the World of D&D

Step into the exciting world of D&D with the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Begins board game! Choose your character and work together along the journey through the lands of Neverwinter, facing fantastic obstacles, battling monsters, and defeating the boss monster terrorizing the realm. The role of Dungeon Master passes from player to player with each turn, so everyone gets to be part of the storytelling.

Features

QUICK ENTRY TO DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: Step into the exciting world of D&D with the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Begins board game. Designed for 2-4 players, ages 10 and up.
COOPERATIVE FANTASY GAME: This fantasy board game is a portal to the monsters, magic, and heroes of Dungeons & Dragons. Players work together as they journey through the lands of Neverwinter.

QUICK GAMEPLAY: Players can choose and customize their heroes, battle iconic D&D monsters, and experience a new adventure every time. So, step forward, brave heroes; adventure awaits!

CHOOSE A JOURNEY FOR YOUR PARTY: Choose a journey and which Boss your party of heroes will fight in the end. Choose from Felbris (Beholder), Orn (Fire Giant), Deathsleep (Green Dragon), and the Kraken.

D&D MINIATURE FIGURES: The game includes 4 plastic mini figures that correspond with the heroes featured in gameplay.

This isn’t the first D&D themed board game for kids, Dungeon has been around nearly as long as D&D itself. But Adventure Begins does look pretty awesome!

 

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , on September 15, 2020 by boccobsblog

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden drops today. This arctic-themed adventure, set in Icewind Dale, takes players from level 1 through 12.

According to WotC:

Some Secrets are Worth Dying For

Feel the cold touch of death in this adventure for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

In Icewind Dale, adventure is a dish best served cold.

Beneath the unyielding night sky, you stand before a towering glacier and recite an ancient rhyme, causing a crack to form in the great wall of ice. Beyond this yawning fissure, the Caves of Hunger await. And past this icy dungeon is a secret so old and terrifying that few dare speak of it. The mad wizards of the Arcane Brotherhood long to possess that which the god of winter’s wrath has so coldly preserved—as do you! What fantastic secrets and treasures are entombed in the sunless heart of the glacier, and what will their discovery mean for the denizens of Icewind Dale? Can you save Ten-Towns from the Frostmaiden’s everlasting night?

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden is a tale of dark terror that revisits the forlorn, flickering candlelights of civilization known as Ten-Towns and sheds light on the many bone-chilling locations that surround these frontier settlements.

Item details

Price: $49.95
Release Date: 15 September, 2020
Format: Hardcover

Will you be taking your players to the frozen wastes of Icewind Dale?

One-on-One Roleplay

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , on September 1, 2020 by boccobsblog

Today David Clark of To Have And To Roll is writing about one-on-one roleplaying.

You find yourself in a room. You have no memory of how you got here or why you are here. All you have is the clothes on your back, the feeling of cold stone beneath your feet, and a faint shaft of torchlight, streaming in from the edges of a trapdoor above you. The door is too high for your to reach on your own. Looking about, the only notable object in the room is a heavy stone lever. What do you do?

This is my way of introducing people to tabletop roleplaying games. No dice. No rulebooks. Only a scenario with an open-ended solution. It is the simplest way to get someone into the action and playing a game, and it is also the simplest form of a one-on-one roleplaying game.

When a coworker or an acquaintance asks you what this whole tabletop thing is about, you can respond by telling them about your last session, how the rules work, when your gaming group meets, etc. Or you can simply show them. Tell them they find themselves in a room, give them some sort of means of escape, and tailor what they find along the way to match with their interests. I have brought many a friend into the hobby this way and it has always at least provided a window into what I find so enjoyable about gaming.

As soon as your friend starts making decisions or asking questions, they’re playing the game. Pull the lever, and the walls start closing in. I’ve had people jump out, wait until the walls are close enough to brace themselves and climb through, or just wait and die, praying for a god to watch over their soul when they are gone. Does this provoke a divine intervention? Does the story then shift to the journey of their soul through the afterlife? All of these are relevant paths. The important part about this scenario is that it is a learning experience. Your only goal is to convey why people play tabletop games, not how. Once out of the room, they might find themselves in an orc camp or an orbital prison. They could be in the depths of a drow stronghold, seeking escape from torment and slavery. They might be in a medical ward, with no memory of how they got there and no staff to answer their questions, only bloody footprints and a chained door that rattles and shakes from time to time. Whatever brings the spark of interest to the player’s eye is the right answer, and things that don’t can be glossed over as you present them with more points of interest.

For more experienced players seeking a longer format game than “you find yourself in a room,” you can use mechanics as deep as they want. You could have a single player character with nothing but their starting equipment on their back and a single plot hook to get them on the path to adventure. Your player could run an entire adventure path, complete with a full party of 4-6 adventurers, all crafted and piloted by your one player. They could be a monarch in charge of a kingdom at war, with a full mass combat and resource management system at their disposal. The level of detail is something you will want to discuss beforehand.

One-on-one games often have a more personal tone, which can be both a benefit and a challenge. On one hand, there are some stories that would be too personal to cover in a large group. A personal vendetta with a master assassin or vengeful rival might have more chance to develop when it’s only the Player Character and their nemesis in the room. Scheduling becomes much easier, pacing is handled at whatever rate the two of you care to form, and cancellations are as easily solved as finding the next time two of you have a couple of hours free. If you’re playing with someone you already spend a lot of time with, you can have impromptu sessions when you’re just hanging out. The next time you are waiting for a pizza delivery, just hit them with “When last we left our hero…” On the other hand, there is no group for the player to discuss their plans with. Roleplaying will have less banter and more direct interaction with the world. Combats are much more involved, as there is no time to plan your turns or to relax while others take their actions.

To run a one-on-one game, there are few considerations that must be taken into account before you begin. Many of these aspects will depend on what type of game you want to run, and what level of involvement your player wants in the mechanics and planning.

If you seek to run a traditional homebrew campaign or pre-written adventure, expect a level of adaptation. Both rules and content may need to change to suit your needs. In a one-player run of Pathfinder’s Curse of the Crimson Throne, my player has elected to run a four-person party. One of our early discoveries was simply the need to call for rolls that other players might ask for in a large group. Don’t be afraid to remind your player to doubt someone’s story or check for traps from time to time. In a large group, these are things that someone usually interjects with, but when it’s only you and a single player, sometimes you may need to break the immersion to remind them of mechanics, or point out a plot hook that has special resonance with one character if they are controlling multiples. In these instances, it’s only too much if your player says so.

Running a multi-character party may also necessitate a change in scope. Rather than inhabiting a singleplayer character’s perspective and abilities, the player will be acting more like a manager of the party, as one might find in a video game. They could choose to have a single point-of-view character with NPC companions or alternate between party members. If they chose to have NPC companions, make sure these companions aren’t stealing the spotlight. They can have their own stories and their own moments, but ultimately they are there to complement the point-of-view character.

If you player chooses to act as a manager for a group entirely consisting of Player Characters, it may be best for both of you to treat the game as taking more of a third-person perspective. Conversations among group members can involve swapping off who has control of which character, with the Game Master taking control of player characters in ways that you and your player have worked out. You might describe actions in longer form, much like a novel. If your player likes acting out their characters, don’t be afraid to stop and ask who’s talking at any given time, as this can also get confusing if there is less distinction between individual character voices. Append descriptions of action to break up dialogue. Take a step back from their character perspective and talk about the events of the game in a more omniscient tone.

As the only other person involved in the game, you will also have to do more book-keeping if you elect to run a more traditional party-based game. Tasks which could usually be delegated to other players, such as managing inventory or keeping a journal of quest activities and plot points will have to be managed by either you or your player. Most likely, you will both find yourselves doing these things to make sure everything is recorded accurately. If neither of you care for those things, feel free to reduce all loot to money that can be spent on gear, or just give more experience.

All-in-all, with the proper set-up, and the proper mindset, a one-on-one game can be a great way to fill in for days that you can’t organize a large group. It is, however, by no means a replacement for gaming in a group. By its nature, the stories you tell will tend to be more limited in scope, as you are not seeking to entertain an entire table. There is no reason you can’t face down an ancient dragon, blow up a planet-destroying space laser, or bring a mafia boss to justice in this format. But the scale will almost certainly change to accommodate the smaller pool of participants. There is also nothing that beats the harebrained schemes that a full party of 4 or more players can come up with.

For those that seek to play more games or just have an easy fall-back when larger sessions cancel, this can be a great extra tool to have in your Game-Mastering repertoire. So grab one of your favorite players, find a time that works for both of you, and try a one-on-one. The best way to learn is to play.

About the Author:

David Clark is the Game Master and producer of To Have and To Roll, the treasurer for the Plot Bubble podcast network, and an active participant in many online tabletop discussion groups. If you would like to hear some of these techniques in practice, check out tohaveandtoroll.com, where he and his wife are recording Paizo’s Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path for Pathfinder First Edition as an actual-play podcast. You can follow the podcast @tohaveandtoroll on Twitter or on Tumblr at tohaveandtoroll.tumblr.com. David is active on twitter as @rane0

Looking for some free D&D adventures? Look no further!

Adult Sapphire Dragon Miniature

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , on August 17, 2020 by boccobsblog

Sapphire Dragon

As a part of  D&D’s 45 Anniversary, WotC, in partnership with WizKids has released a gem dragon mini (maxi? it’s pretty big). According to WotC:

Celebrating 45 years of Dungeons & Dragons!

The glittering sapphire dragons are the most territorial of all the gem dragons to a dangerous degree. They collect magical weapons and armor as the centerpieces of their hoards and vault them away in isolated caverns.

A sapphire dragon’s psionic nature is evident in horn and bone structures of their body. Their tail barbs and horn tips are all separate pieces, but they float in place, held aloft by the dragon’s psychic force while the dragon lives. These levitating horns and spines shift slightly with the dragon’s mood, bobbing in amusement or flaring dangerously with anger. Its scales and wing membranes are varied shades of blue, ranging from the light tones of a spring sky, to the rich, crystalline azure of sapphire gems and compressed glacial ice. In the light, many of their scales glitter and shine with luminous starburst images.

Over 160mm tall, this miniature is based on the all new art for thesapphire dragon, released by Wizards of the Coast for the 45th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. Completely translucent with gemlike effects on the wings and body, this dragon is a great foe for your next adventure or a beautiful piece for display!

Item details

Price: $69.99
Release Date: 30 August, 2020 (it’s actually available now)

Need a gem dragon for your D&D campaign? You can get one here.