Start Playing D&D (for free!)

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2019 by boccobsblog

Every day I hear/read people saying that they would like to learn to play D&D but don’t know where to start. Additionally, I’ve met several people who used to play D&D, but who didn’t know how to get back into Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve created a list of resources, some free, some not, that will allow new players to get started playing D&D, as well as aid returning players.

I’ve personally played D&D for the last 27 year, and have played every edition of the game, and I can honestly say 5th edition is the easiest rule set to learn. This is a great time to start playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Free Options

D&D Basic Rules (Free)
“The Basic Rules runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options; in addition, the rules contain 120 spells,
5 backgrounds, and character sheets.” (WotC)

D&D SRD (Free)
The D&D Basic set has a lot of information to get you started, but it only contains a few character classes. When you’re ready to expand into more options, you can use a System Reference Document to access free (under the Open Game License) content legally. There are many SRDs online, I recommend 5thSRD.org as they run a clean site, free of ads. 5thSRD.org can also be downloaded for offline use.

Public Library (Free)
Believe or not, your public library likely has some gaming books, and even if they don’t, they will gladly do an intralibrary loan to borrow the core books from another library.

Character Sheet (Free)
You can get these anywhere, but here are the official WotC sheets.

Die Rollers
Another free option for digital players (those who like to use their phone or tablet at the table) is die rollers programs. You can find many free apps and programs to replace physical dice.

Paid Options

Starter Set (>$20)
“Containing everything you need to leap into a D&D adventure, this boxed set is designed for five to six players, with one of you taking on the role of the game’s lead storyteller, the Dungeon Master.” The starter set is available at your local game store, Walmart, and Target.” (WotC) The Starter Set comes with:

  • 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started
  • 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1-5
  • 5 pre-generated characters, with character sheet
  • 6 dice

Core Rulebooks ($25-$100)
If you decide to play D&D regularly, you’ll need to eventually pick up the core rulebooks. Players will need a Player’s Handbook (PHB), while a Dungeon Master will need the PHB, the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG), and the Monster Manual (MM).

Accessories

Dice (<$10)
Get can get some great dice anywhere, but if you want to outfit your whole table for less than $2 a player, I suggest these dice (5 sets).

A Buttload of Dice (<$25)
If you need a bunch of dice quick, the pound of dice from Chessex is a gamer standard.

DM Screen ($10)
A Dungeon Master’s Screen is not for everyone. They contain a lot of useful information and they can be useful in hiding your notes and miniatures, but some DMs choose to roll and act in the open, lest they be accused of cheating.

Grid Mats
I use a variety of battle mats, but the one that is always on my table is from Chessex. They come in three sizes: Battlemat (23.5 x 26), Megamat (34.5 x 48 inches), and the Mondomat (54 x 102 inches). The Battlemat is a bit small, but a good choice is your table is small. The Mondomat is too big for nearly all tables. I have an eight-foot-long game table and it wouldn’t fit well. My recommendation is the Megamat.

Note: regardless of the pens you use, or what you use to clean your map, they will stain over time. Invest in a piece of clear plexiglass to place over your mat. My Chessex Megamat has never been written on and looks pristine after 5-6 years of play.

Next time we’ll talk about finding a game or starting your own.

20 Pathfinder Witch Quest Ideas

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2019 by boccobsblog

Witch Quest Ideas

Today’s Witch Quest Ideas come from writer/musician Mark Russel:

  1. The Usual Suspect:  A town your witch has recently been visiting starts having the local children go missing.  The leader of the local town guard suspects the witch, and it is up to them to find the children and clear their name.
  2. Improved Familiar:  Your witch’s familiar reveals that it is actually a different sentient creature.  The witch and her familiar still share the same bond, but the familiar seems distant.  When the witch questions their familiar, it lets them know that a collection of similar creatures is in danger.  This is a good way to tie Improved Familiar, a common witch feat choice, into the game world.
  3. Broken Covenant:  A coven of hags has learned about your witch, and wishes to bring them into the fold.  If your witch resists the pull, the party can seek out and destroy the coven.  If, however, they find the offer intriguing, the hags can become patrons of the party.
  4. A Past Life:  An item that the party finds reveals itself to be sentient.  If the Witch interacts with this object in any way, it will reveal that it knew the Witch in a past life.  This can be used to link the witch directly to the events of your main campaign, or lead to a side quest where the Witch can find a powerful magical item.
  5. Healing Wicca:  The party comes to a town where the residents are ill.  The party Witch finds the notes of a past witch who lived in the village, detailing the ingredients needed to cure the illness.  Finishing the potion, however, will require the heart of a powerful monster that lives in the woods.
  6. From Beyond The Grave:  The Witch starts receiving dreams of a person in duress in a nearby cave.  This person shares similarities to the Witch, like a shared trauma or a similar upbringing.  The witch knows that the person is already dead, but the ghost in their dreams promises to lead the witch to a cache of jewels if their spirit is avenged.
  7. A Curse Lifted:  The party comes across a town where the residents seem to be joyless.  The Witch discovers that the town has been cursed by a previous Witch who had a magic item stolen from them.  If the Witch completes a ritual to cleanse the town, they may get the magic item as a reward.
  8. A Total Fraud:  As the party travels through town, they come across a man selling healing potions for a very low price.  If the party buys one, the witch can make a dc 10 arcana check.  On a success, they will notice that the potion is fake.  When the man is questioned he reveals that he is a member of the local thieves guild.
  9. True Love?  The local magistrate has been acting strangely lately.  If the witch gets to talk to him, they can make a DC 10 Arcana check to reveal that the magistrate is under effect of a charm person spell.  When questioned, the magistrate reveals he has recently been smitten by a local shopkeeper.
  10. A Helping Hand:  As the party travels, a girl in a tattered cloak approaches the witch.  The girl reveals that she is a changeling, and that she is currently being hounded by her mother to join a coven.
  11. The Black Cauldron:  While researching at a local library, the witch discovers that there is a magical cauldron in an abandoned estate nearby.  The estate, the report says, was once owned by a mad noble, and is reported to be haunted.
  12. Park Ranger:  The Witch’s Familiar starts acting strangely.  When the Witch communes with their familiar, they sense that it is angry and afraid.  Searching the local woods shows evidence of a person or creature killing animals en masse in some sort of strange ritual.
  13. Bad Dreams:  A local noble comes to The Witch to buy a potion to soothe their dreams.  If the Witch makes a DC 10 Arcana or Religion check, they will realize the noble is being haunted by a banshee.  The noble reveals he recently killed a peasant in a duel.
  14. Animated Object:  As the party travels along the road, an animated broom approaches the Witch.  If the party follows the broom, it will lead them to another witch who is being besieged by monsters.
  15. An Unhappy Medium:  A famous medium has swung through town, promising to reconnect people with their dead loved ones.  If The Witch decides to attend a séance, a DC 10 Arcana or Religion check will reveal that the medium is not communicating with the dead, but is instead using cold reading techniques to part people from their coin.
  16.   An Invitation:  Through dreams, the witch receives a vision of a circle of mushrooms in a local wood.  Upon awakening, an NPC that the party likes, a favorite shopkeeper for example, has gone missing.  When the party goes to the NPC’s residence to investigate, they discover a fey creature.  It says that it will free the NPC if the witch attends a ball as a representative of her patron.
  17.   Overdue:  When the party wakes up from a long rest, they find a Barbed Devil in their room/campsite.  The Devil tells the witch that he has recently bought the debt that she owes to her Patron, and if the party does not find a certain cursed pair of shackles, he will have the legal right to the witches soul.
  18. Outer God’s Favor:  The party hears about a nearby town that has recently gone dark.  When the Party goes to investigate, they find the townspeople have all gone mute.  When the townsfolk see the witch however they point to them and say, “Behold, the master’s chosen has arrived!”
  19. Return the Favor:  The witch receives a letter from a person they have helped in the past.  The letter reveals a location of a very powerful magical item buried deep within a tomb of a long dead witch, deep in the jungle.
  20. Friends in High Places:  While relaxing at a tavern or similar public place, The Witch is approached by a woman wearing a mask.  She promises the witch a considerable amount of coin if she will place a curse on a powerful public official. 

Mark Russell is a writer, musician, and cheese packer. His current project is Ribashda, a high fantasy, horror-influenced world that is 5 times the size of our own. Featuring 5 new classes, 10 new races, tons of new monsters, and new mechanics for GM’s to play with, Ribashda is an exciting and dangerous new homebrew setting for 5th edition. Come adventure in the playground of the gods, just be careful where you step.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Pathfinder Core Rulebook (P2)
Pathfinder Bestiary (P2)
Pathfinder GM Screen (P2)

 

Starfinder Beginner Box Launches Today

Posted in Pathfinder with tags , , , on May 7, 2019 by boccobsblog

The timing seems a bit weird as Starfinder came out a few years ago, but Paizo has released a Starfinder Beginner Box. Check out the Dragon and Things crew in the official commercial:

According to Paizo.com:

Launch into an exciting universe of science fantasy adventure with the Starfinder Beginner Box! Create and customize your own futuristic hero to play through challenging adventures and action-packed battles against dangerous foes! With streamlined rules, this deluxe boxed set is the ideal introduction to the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, an imaginative tabletop roleplaying game for 2-7 players. Welcome to the best launchpad for a lifetime of pulse-pounding adventure among the stars—the only limit is your imagination!

The Starfinder Beginner Box has everything you need to get started:

  • A 96-page Heroes’ Handbook, detailing character creation and general rules for playing the game, plus a short solo adventure
  • A 96-page Game Master’s Guide containing an adventure, alien adversaries, and advice on how to create your own science fantasy tales
  • A complete set of seven polyhedral dice
  • More than 80 full-color pawns depicting diverse heroes and aliens
  • 24 plastic pawn bases
  • Six pregenerated character sheets to throw you right into the action
  • Six blank character sheets to record the abilities of your custom-made hero
  • Six player aid cards for quick rules references
  • A durable, reusable, double-sided Flip-Mat play surface that works with any kind of marker

The Starfinder Beginner Box is crammed with content and retails for $39.99.

 

More Starfinder
Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Armory
Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive
Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive 2

 

Initiative Coffee Company

Posted in Product Review with tags , , on May 1, 2019 by boccobsblog

Initiative Coffee Company 2

This year at LexiCon-IL we were lucky enough to have the Initiative Coffee Company join us and caffeinate our gamers. According to their website:

At Initiative Coffee Company, we believe in working from the ground up.  The partnerships we make allow us to hand select our own roast. We hand make our own syrups.  We even do our build outs on our own.

Initiative Coffee Company has a passion for three things, coffee, games, and community. We’d like to be a part of your community. Your next private event, or public festival is the next place we want to be.

How does it taste?

I don’t personally drink coffee, so I bought a bag for my wife who does. Here is here review:

When your husband makes a career (literally) of going to and running game conventions, you become familiar with receiving gifts purchased at these conventions. T shirts, jewelry, small notebooks — my thoughtful husband has brought them all home for me.

But what you really need when you are the mother of two with a demanding job is coffee. So I was super excited when Andy brought me this freshly ground coffee home from Lexicon.

The coffee from Initiative Coffee Company is solid. I enjoyed the medium roast, which is lighter than my usual Folgers classic roast. My first cup, I used 1 tbsp per cup of water. On day two, I doubled it and liked the stronger flavor.

Andy got to see the coffee being ground! When you open the bag, you see right away that this is not the flawless coffee from a factory. This is course, hearty coffee! The smell is amazing and you really can’t beat the freshness of ground-yesterday-flavor.

Two thumbs up! -Jamie

Initiative Coffee Company

Try it for yourself!

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 2 Review

Posted in Game of Thrones with tags , , , , on April 28, 2019 by boccobsblog

This week’s Game of Thrones Season 8 review comes from sci-fi author, Rey Clark.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

GoTS8E3

It’s difficult to stomach the fact that there are only four more episodes left of the beloved HBO drama Game of Thrones.  The journey has been full of twists and turns, and the show is known for pulling the rug out from under the viewers.  Viewers have learned that no character is safe in the world of Westeros.  With the ominous tone of season 8’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” (episode 2), viewers are left wondering which of characters will die and which will survive.  This episode does a fantastic job of setting up the impending doom of the Battle of Winterfell.  Most of the characters in the episode treat it as their last night to be alive and their last efforts to prepare for an epic showdown between the living and the dead.

The episode begins with a pivotal moment in Jamie Lannister’s redemption character arc.  Jamie has been humbled throughout the show and has been on the road of redemption ever since he lost his hand.  Brienne happened to be one to vouch for Jamie at Winterfell.  Jamie also had a moment with Bran where he apologized for pushing him out the window and crippling him as a child.  Bran accepts Jamie’s apology when faced with the logic that Bran would not have become the three-eyed raven if Jamie had not pushed him from the window.  Bran also hints that he isn’t really Bran Stark anymore and that he is someone else entirely.  As a viewer, I would love to know more about the three-eyed raven, and I’m hoping more will be revealed in the final episodes.  One line seemed to jump out at me during this conversation.  Bran asks Jamie, “how do you know there is an afterward?”  I’ve always wondered if the end is simple in the fact that the Night King wins and everyone dies.

Daenerys attempts to ally with Sansa, and I’m impressed with the way Sansa handled herself.  During the conversation, I couldn’t help but see a little of Cersei in Sansa.  Sansa’s time in King’s Landing was tragic, but it seems like Sansa learned a lot about playing the game in her time there.  There was a moment where I though Daenerys might succeed in manipulating Sansa.  When Daenerys argued that Jon manipulated her rather than the other way around; Sansa had a moment of clarity in realizing that almost seemed to be the case.  The conversation took a turn when Sansa asked Daenerys “What about the North.”  The North fought for independence and Sansa isn’t going to give it up without a fight.

The plan to use Bran as bait seems like a terrible idea, and the fact that Theon and the Ironborn will be protecting him isn’t a great comfort.  My question is that if Bran and the Night King have a connection that borders on a physic bond then isn’t it possible the Night King already knows about the plan.  It is fitting that this showdown is planned to take place by the Weirwood.  I wonder if the tree will play any role in this encounter.  The Weirwoods seem to have magical qualities.  Is Bran planning on using this?

There were a few relationships that seemed to spring up this late in the game.  There is speculation that Sansa and Theon might become the next coupling.  I don’t see that happening.  Sansa did have an emotional reaction to seeing Theon, but he is more like a brother to Sansa.  Remember that Theon grew up with the Starks, so he is like a member of the family.  Having him back home to fight for Winterfell and his childhood home was touching.  The fans were rooting for the Arya, and Gendry hook up, and they got it in this episode, but there was some fan backlash.  I felt like it fit Arya’s character.  She’s become a powerful character, and Arya has always done her own thing.  So it makes sense she wanted to experience sex before possibly dying.  Let’s not forget that Arya isn’t an innocent child anymore.  She killed the Frey’s and fed them to their father before killing him as retribution for the Red Wedding.  Last season she executed Littlefinger by slitting his throat.  Bottom line; Arya isn’t a little girl anymore, and if she wants to proposition Gendry, then that’s her prerogative.

I think one of the best scenes from episode 2 was around the fireplace with Tyrion, Jamie, Davos, Brienne, Podrick and Tormund.  My favorite was the chest puffing between Tormund and Jamie over Brienne’s attention.  Tormund’s giant story was hilariously awkward, but then perhaps that’s how you pick up girls north of the wall.  Jamie’s decision to knight Brienne was an emotional moment, and Brienne deserved her moment of recognition.  Podrick’s song was both beautiful and foreboding.  There is speculation that the song foreshadows events to come, but we won’t know for sure until episode 3 airs.  While the song played, the viewer was given what might be the last time we see some of these characters alive.  We also see the last battlement preparations of dragonglass spikes, moats, and weapons distribution.  The dead are upon them and what they have ready now is what they have for the battle.  Time is up, and their enemy has arrived.

Just before the warning bells sound, Daenerys finds Jon in the crypt at the tomb of Lyanna Stark, and she learns of Jon’s Targaryen lineage and his substantial claim to the Iron Throne.  Daenerys didn’t get time to react to the information before they were summoned to the battlements.  She needs to set it aside and focus on the battle at hand first.  But is Daenerys capable of doing that?

Some questions to ponder before episode 3 “Battle of Winterfell”:

Who will live and who will die?  I think it’s safe to assume we will lose more than half of the remaining characters.  Who those characters will be is anyone’s guess

If Winterfell is overrun by the dead will Daenerys go full Mad Queen?  Will Daenerys burn Winterfell with dragon fire if the dead get inside survivors or not.

Are the crypts safe?  The Night King can raise the dead so being surrounded by the dead doesn’t seem like a safe option.

Will we see zombie Hodor?  We might see other characters return as zombies as well which could be interesting.

Will the Night King even show up?  A lot is riding on the idea that the Night King will come for Bran.  What if the Night King doesn’t show up?  What if he shows up and defeating the Night King doesn’t defeat the dead?

Will Melisandre return with help in time?  We know that Melisandre will eventually return to Westeros.  She revealed to Varys last season that she is destined to die in Westeros.  I wonder if she will return with a magical army of Red Wizards.  If so will that be enough to save Winterfell, or is Winterfell destined to fall?

Rey Clark Fantasy and Science Fiction Author, www.reyclark.com, reyclarkauthor@gmail.com, Facebook: @reyclarkauthor, Twitter: @authorreyclark, YouTube: Rey Clark and MurderHobos Inc, Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Rey-Clark/e/B06XKGWW5M

Upcoming titles:

  • Path of Ascension Trilogy: Flames of Valor, Fire Forged, Inferno Rising
    (August 2019)
  • Titan Code Series: Dawn of Genesis, Age of Redemption (early 2020), Final Legacy (2021)
  • Legends Chronicles: Legends of the Vale, Legends of the Weirded Ways (2020), Legends of the Phoenix Flame (2022)
  • Runemaster Saga: Dusk (2019)
  • Fortune’s Coast; Void Path Gaming System (2020)
  • Titanholm Adventures for 5th Ed Dungeons and Dragons (2020)
  • Realm of Thraul: short story adventures in a shared world (2020)

 

 

 

 

20 D&D Warlock Quest Ideas

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2019 by boccobsblog

D&amp;D Warlock Quest Ideas

Today’s D&D Quest ideas are tailor-made for the party’s warlock, and come courtesy of Adventure.EXE’s Sarah Ellis Fox and Matt Klassen.

  1. Warlock-Sibling Rivalry. Your patron has grown bored and decided to pit you against another of their favored warlocks, in a race to complete a series of increasingly dangerous requests.
  2. Unwelcome Wagon. Due to recent cult activity (and what really amounts to closed-mindedness!), an edict from local administration has been issued, ordering the removal of those who have pacts with otherworldly entities.
  3. Two Weeks Notice. Your patron abruptly sends you a message: in two weeks time, the powers you had been granted will be rescinded unless you can convince them otherwise with a grand gesture.
  4. It’s In You To Give. Your patron has sent omens to you indicating that it’s time for their centennial blood drive! You need several gallons of blood to sacrifice to them, but you’ve been given a lot of freedom to interpret exactly how the blood should be obtained…
  5. The Kids Aren’t Alright. A group of local schoolchildren have discovered an Eldritch tome, causing a litany of bizarre occurrences to fall upon the settlement. You recognize those occurrences as omens of a disturbing event that could come to pass should the tome not be stored safely.
  6. They Walk Among Us. Your patron has decided to take a vacation on the material plane and has requested you be the ‘tour guide’ for their clueless avatar.
  7. Which One Do I Shoot? A con-artist has stolen your identity and invoked your patron in inappropriate ways. You must find the imposter and clear your name.
  8. Mr. Sandman. You come upon a sleepy small town — where no one will wake up! Try as you might, all the townsfolk are locked in an unending slumber. And on top of that, you discover that drawing upon your eldritch magic here causes you to have strange, dreamlike visions.
  9. Best In Show. The annual Westmarch Familiar Show is happening soon, and warlocks from all over will be attending to celebrate the sport and glory of purebred familiars. This year, your (second) sight is set on the coveted Best In Show trophy!
  10. Face on the Milk Carton. Your familiar has gone missing, and even the Find Familiar spell fails automatically when you try to cast it. You must now seek answers to the bizarre disappearance of your trusted friend.
  11. Groundhog Daze. Your patron has become mad at you for a reason you don’t understand. As punishment, you and your friends have been trapped in a horrific demiplane where you’re forced to relive the same day over and over again until you understand what you’ve done wrong.
  12. Night at the Arboretum. You’ve been tasked with ‘acquiring’ a rare magical herb from an arboretum. But when the light of the full moon falls through the skylights, you’re shocked to see the plants come to life — and they’re hungry!
  13. Love Shack. A disembodied voice wakes you up to an unknown environment and begins to narrate your actions. You find yourself in a strange locked keep, along with several other confused individuals. No one remembers how they got here, but the voice is encouraging everyone to find true love.
  14. Last Destination. You begin to experience visions of the imminent deaths of various people around you. You can warn them and change fate, but when you cheat death, there is a price to be paid.
  15. Dancing Fever. A curse has befallen a small town, where everyone has become unable to stop dancing. You’ve been asked to employ your knowledge of curses and try to root out the cause of this strange malady.
  16. The Hills Have Eyes and At Least Three Mouths. The superstitious townspeople insist that a strange aberration is living in the hills behind the town. You’ve decided to take it upon yourself to prove to them that such a strange creature couldn’t possibly exist — but you’re in for a terrible surprise.
  17. Harassed By An Angel. One of the mightiest of celestial beings – an angel – has come from on High to teach people the error of their ways. And to your great annoyance, they’ve decided to make you their pet project.
  18. Big Trouble In Little Waterdeep. A group of tiny people from a strange tiny version of your plane of existence have summoned you – a giant – to help them overthrow the horrific creatures that plague them.
  19. Seven Hags for Seven Brothers? A forlorn green hag has approached you with a problem: each of her sisters is engaged to be wed in a massive wedding ceremony, and she needs help finding a spouse fast.
  20. Scruffy the Vampire Slayer. An elderly town busybody frequently insists that they are a notorious vampire slayer. No one believes them, but when bodies with twin bite marks on the neck start showing up all over town, you’re forced to turn to them for help.

Sarah Ellis Fox and Matt Klassen are from Vancouver, Canada and run the comedy D&D podcast Adventure.exe. Now in its second season, the show has a colorful cast of unique and horrifically unoptimized characters in a rich homebrew multiverse. You can listen to the first episode here, see the latest updates on Facebook and Twitter or throw a couple of coins in their Patreon here.

Warlock Adventure Ideas

Side note: Apparently the Olive Garden requires its customers to keep their pants on at all times. Help me pay my legal fees by clicking these links:

Limitless Encounters vol. 1
Dungeons & Dragons Tactical Maps Reincarnated
Stranger Things D&D Roleplaying Game Starter Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 1 Review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 21, 2019 by boccobsblog

Got

The Wall That Martin Built
A review of Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode One.

By Ben Baer

The man who created the narrative should wield the pen. If you would take a man’s story, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear its final arc. And, if you cannot bear to do that well, then perhaps the story does not deserve to be told.
These are the thoughts that come to mind as we see the final season premiere of Game of Thrones. A television show that has become a phenomenon and, like many creative ventures in the fantasy and science fiction realm, has grown to Balerion sized proportions causing its creator to lose control of the reigns. George R.R. Martin wrote a master work of fantasy, but it has yet to be completed. His intricacies of foreshadowing, the appropriation of historic events into his narrative (such as the Black Dinner), and resonating lines such as Ned Stark’s thoughts on execution made a wonderful tale. Then, like a horde of white walkers, the fandom came for it.  They tore through every plot point and scrutinized every novel; they tore through the wall of foreshadowing and predicted, early on and very accurately, who the true heir to the Targaryen line would be. Perhaps it is these acts that have seemingly placed Martin into a writer’s paralysis. Whatever the reason, the show for the past two years has suffered from the absence of Martin’s source material, and the premiere of the final season exemplifies this absence.

Horn Blast One… Brothers Returning to the Watch

Game of Thrones has a complex cast of characters, which is the most compelling part of Season 8, episode 1. Everyone seems to be drawn to Winterfell, where we anticipate a final climactic battle.  It is also very interesting to see how the opening sequence has involved. A vast map that once spanned continents is now focused on the intricacies inside these locations. All of these characters and their story arcs have been building to fewer and fewer places. No one would have dreamt during season one while riding with the khalasar that someday Dany would find her way to Winterfell.

There is also a striking parallel plot structure between this episode and the very first episode.  The episode begins with Daenerys entering Winterfell like King Robert long ago. It also ends with Jaime Lannister interacting with Bran, but in an obviously inverted dynamic.

There is a strong amount of dread and mystery developed in the scene where the young lord is stapled to the wall in a white walker fire swastika of doom. This symbol has been left before, and leaves a solid enigma for the viewers to contemplate. If you wander into the fandom there are a number of theories regarding this, including some who have said it is a recreation of the Targaryen crest; what this could possibly mean has intriguing implications.

Horn Blast Two…. Enemies Approaching

While there are some enigmas to contemplate, this episode also has various obvious moments of pandering to fans. For example, there was the scene where Dany and Jon recreate How to Train Your Dragon by taking a leisurely ride, despite the fact that there is a horde of enemies approaching. Let us also not forget that the Night King has at his disposal surface-to-dragon zombifying spears!

This episode was also filled with inconsistent and irrelevant characters. Everything which occurs at King Landing now seems insubstantial, especially when it contains the scenery-chewing character of Euron Greyjoy. We are left with Cersei’s line about, “ If you want a whore buy her. If you want a queen…,” apparently wait for about 30 seconds. Their whole relationship development has been painful to watch.

Speaking of Greyjoys, who cares about them whatsoever? Go to Winterfell; don’t; set sail for Asshai; let the Iron Islands sink into the sea- this arc is stale. Another superfluous story line for fan service is the dilemma of Bronn. This sellsword has been impishly fun to watch from the days he kicked a knight out the moon door and was promised a castle, but squeezing him into this premier seems like another simple fan service. It was also a cheap excuse to squeeze in nudity, which HBO has had to seemingly had to leave out lately due to the inconveniences of having to cover actual plot.

Horn Blast Three… The Others

The place where a lack of source material becomes most obvious is in the clumsy dialogue upon which the exposition has become so dependent.  As said before, we had lines in the first season which were literature: “He who passes the sentence should swing the sword…,”  as well as, “A mind needs a book like a sword needs a whetstone.”  This episode has not one, but TWO different jokes about people’s balls. In fact, the first testicular crack is delivered by Tyrion himself, and it is almost as if the show has become self-aware of its own inadequacies as Sansa says to him, “I used to believe you were the cleverest man alive.” Perhaps he was more clever when the writers were more capable.  Jokes about gonads aside, the entire episode is filled with other groaner lines.  Whether it be a joke about blue eyes, tongue-in-cheek lines about Bran’s powers, or whining about not having elephants, much of the dialogue comes off like the nineties sitcom version of what is actually a rather gritty narrative.

The Wall Comes Down

Criticism of the dialogue aside, one can take heart that this saga is reaching its end.  It will be captivating if the show finds the shock and tragedy which won over its viewers in the past. Westeros has taught us that it is an unsafe world. Knowing that this is the last season, we may say goodbye to a number of characters before the last episode and that can have the potential to be both captivating and heartbreaking.  One can hope that at some point we will see this band of characters fight a desperate last stand at Winterfell versus the Others.  No matter what happens, night gathers and the end of our Watch begins. We are the watchers. We shall pledge to watch the next episode, and all other episodes to come until our Watch has ended.

Fantasy Shopping Table Review

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons, Product Review with tags , , , on April 17, 2019 by boccobsblog

JBT

The following is my review of the Fantasy Shopping Table (FST): A random encounter generator for D&D, by Jason Bradley Thompson.

A San Francisco native, Jason is a talented author and game designer.  He is from Mockman Press, and well-known to fans of D&D for his comic walk-throughs of classic adventures. Longtime B3 readers may recall our review of Jason’s hit game, Mangaka, or our review of his unique D&D5e divine caster class, The Priestess. FST has great artwork by Konstantin Pogorelov, as well as an easy-to-navigate layout by Jumana Al Hashal.

In the author’s words, “Fantasy Shopping Table gives adventurers who like shopping as many plot hooks as adventurers who like binge-drinking in seedy establishments.” FST makes buying gear and items more exciting than simply looking up the item in the Player’s Handbook. The FST separates markets into Common and Black, a designation which affects both the cost of items, and their availability.

What I especially like about FST is that a player’s background factors into the shopping experience. Backgrounds are often forgotten immediately after character creation.  Additionally, FST is packed with dozens of tables that leads to deals, steals, double-crosses, fights and adventures.

Fantasy Shopping Table is available now on the Dungeon Master’s Guide, where the
16-page PDF retails for $2.99. Personally, I think it is worth every penny as it creates a more dynamic downtime shopping experience.

Details:
Fantasy Shopping Table
Price: $2.99 USD
Format: 16-page PDF
Available on Dungeon Master’s Guide
Jason Bradley Thompson (writer & interior art)
Jumana Al Hashal (graphic designer & editor)
Konstantin Pogorelov (cover artist)

 

More from Mockman Press
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and Other Stories
Manga: The Complete Guide
King of RPGs 1
King of RPGs 2
Mangaka