Archive for Wizards of the Coast

Memorable Magic Weapons

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by boccobsblog

Player: What’s in the chest?

DM: You find a +1 staff.

Player *yawns* ok, next room…

In this week’s article we will detail, step by step, how to create memorable magic weapons that players will want to keep throughout the campaign.

For this article I owe a debt to Charles Rodgers, whose Dragon Magazine #180 article, “Not Another Magic Sword”, from 1992 has always stuck with me.

Select weapon

This may seem like a no brainer, but often DM’s will dream up some epic weapon to place in their campaign and never give pause to what weapons their players actually use. It is anticlimactic when your fighter triumphs after a series of grueling quests to find the sword of legend to be a longsword when he’s spent all his feats to specialize in the greatsword.

Select material

What is the weapon made of? Is there a material that fits the weapon’s theme or history better than regular wood or steel? The idea is to create a weapon so unique and interesting that your player will wield it throughout the campaign.

Possible Materials:

  • Baatorian Green Steel (A&EG p13)
  • Gehennan Morghuth-Iron (A&EG p14)
  • Starmetal (CArc p141)
  • Pandemonic Silver (CWar p136)
  • Thinaun(CWar p136)
  • Dwarvencraft Quality (RoS p159)
  • Blue Ice (Frost p80)
  • Aurorum (BoED p38)
  • Frystalline (BoED p38)
  • Serren (BoED p38)
  • Solarian True-Steel (BoED p38)
  • Adamantine (DMG p283)
  • Darkwood (DMG p283)
  • Iron, Cold (DMG p284)
  • Silver, Alchemical (DMG p284)
  • Mithril (DMG p284)

Powers

One thing I have learned as a DM, what I think is cool, isn’t always what the players think is cool. When you custom-make a weapon, have the player in mind. Ask yourself what would fit with the player’s concept. For example: if the weapon has the bane property, is it for a creature that the ranger has as a favored enemy?

Note: if you’ve exhausted the powers in your DMG be sure to check out the magic Item Compendium or DMG2 for new options.

Flavor

What can you add to the weapon to make it unique while not drastically changing its cost or power level? Flavor is anything that adds to the coolness factor of a weapon without any serious in-game benefits. These elements are what will make the weapon memorable. Examples:

  • screams when it delivers a death-blow or critical hit
  • smells of brimstone or another distinct scent
  • vibrates or hums when polished
  • whispers something in a forgotten tongue when unsheathed
  • moves during the night, nothing drastic, but the weapon is in a different place than the pc placed it before going to sleep (though still close to the PC).

Note: see signature traits in DMGII p229 for more ideas.

Description

What does the sword look like? Can you find a picture that matches your idea of the weapon? If you have any artistic ability, draw the weapon on a piece of sketchbook paper.  This is where the Rodgers article really shined; he detailed each piece of the sword making sure to talk about the rare materials used. He drew a mental picture of the blade, hand-guard, handle, pommel, etc.

History

Adding a history to a weapon will deepen its role-play value while not increasing it power level. In addition, if you make the weapon a bit of mystery, it will provide further quest possibilities, and allow character with bardic, or traditional knowledge skills to flex some RP muscle and use a skill often times overlooked.

Name

This one could be up to the PC, but if you have a player that shies away from role-play, you may want to name the weapon for them. Possibilities:

  • Carved into a wooden weapon
  • Runes on the blade
  • A sage, cleric, or arcanist recognizes the weapon and knows its name (think Elrond in The Hobbit when he recognizes the Foe Hammer and the Goblin Cleaver)
  • Perhaps the weapon whispers its name the first time the PC picks it up.
  • Maybe the former wielder tells the PC prior to death. This provides an interesting role-playing angle if the PC gets the weapon after slaying an enemy (as they normally do). Perhaps the dying orc king takes the barbarian pc’s hand and wraps it around the hilt of his magic great ax and whispers the name in orcish or broken common as a gesture that the player is worthy of wielding it. While this idea really only works for honorable villains, it is still a cool option.

Increasing Power Over Time

I feel that it adds something significant to a PC’s experience if they keep the same weapon over time. Of course, this idea won’t apply to all players, and you as the DM will be able to judge that for yourself, but as a whole, having a weapon that grows in power with the pc helps to enrich the storytelling process.  Not to mention, you’ve put all this work into creating an awesome item, you don’t want your player to sell it off when he reaches the next level. This idea is common among fantasy literature, heroes don’t trade in their signature weapon, so why should your players?

Possible routes for increasing power:

  • Legacy Weapon (Weapons of Legacy)
  • Legendary Weapon (Unearthed Arcana p162)
  • Item Familiar (Unearthed Arcana p170 )
  • Bonded Item (DMGII p231 )
  • Ancestral Relic (Book of Exalted Deeds p39)
  • Forgo treasure on an adventure and have the player’s deity or a potent caster empower the weapon

Player: What’s in the chest?

DM:  You find an ornately fashioned, darkwood staff roughly five feet long. The shaft has images of orcs fleeing a flaming village. The head of the staff is carved in the likeness of a ruby-eyed red dragon that snarls and breathes a gout of illusory flame as you remove it from the chest. Draconic runes just below the dragon carving spell out what you assume to be a name.

Player: Nice!

D&D Props

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content, D&D 4e Content, D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by boccobsblog
D&D Prop

Warner Bros. Props Department

Here is a list of possible props for use with your D&D, Savage Worlds, Pathfinder, World of Darkness or any fantasy setting.

Beggar’s cup – put a few coins in to make noise, extend the cup to a player (form them to place a coin in), and tilt it so they can see a message folded up inside

Scrolls – Spells printed on parchment and sealed with wax and a seal or a ribbon

Sand timer/ hour-glass – I have always wanted to place a massive hourglass on the timer and announce that the players have one hour to exit the dungeon

Coins – Chocolate coins, foreign coins, or if you really want to shine: Campaign Coins

Lock Picks – Maybe the players didn’t know the NPC was a rogue in disguise until they search his room

Jewelry – I found awesome junk rings and brooches at the Good Will store for next to nothing (unless you count the weird looks from the lady at the counter or the hours of mocking from my wife)

Rocks or Geodes – Tumbled rocks can be purchased at a craft store for cheap. Maybe the work as keys or a spell focus

Compass – Maybe it points to treasure, or the last owner’s killer

Weapons – Every geek has a sword or a mace from the flea market or the Ren faire. Just don’t get all hopped up on Mountain Dew and start swinging it at folks

Sealed Letters – Card shops and specialty store carry fancy envelopes and stationary fit to write an invite to Castle Ravenloft on. Maybe find someone who can knows calligraphy to write the letter for you

Leather pouches – place several small coins, picks, props, notes, red herrings, in there and let the players figure it all out

Game board – I think we’ve all used a chess puzzle at one point or another

Cards – Skip a combat encounter and play a few hands of Three Dragon Ante with your players in their favorite tavern and give them xp for role-playing. Maybe use poker chips or campaign coins

Tarot cards – Read your players fortune and drop hints about upcoming adventures or let the cards write the next adventure for you

Runes – Take flat rocks and paint strange symbols on them. Make custom runes from clay, Sculpey, or Fimo. Place a codex in the dungeon to decode them

Keys – Buy some old skeleton at a junk shop or antique store. Use a fine tip Sharpie or a knife point to make cryptic markings on them

Books – Take an old book from the used bookstore or antique shop and hollow it out, or underline certain words that make a different message

Spell book, journal, – Take a blank book and fill it with dark symbols, runes, sketches, bits of information, lies, misdirection, distress, burn, waterlog the text to make it look ancient. Check out sites on Mythos Tomes to get ideas and inspiration

Puzzle Lock – One year at Gen Con, I went through a True Dungeon Session and we had to pick a lock, rather than rolling dice, the DM had an actual puzzle lock that we had to figure out. There are several degrees of locks available on the web, some are quite challenging

Old bottles – add water, a drop of food color, a cork and you got a potion.

Wooden Puzzle– I found some wooden puzzles at Mejiers for five dollars. My players kept finding small wooden pieces, and finally a strangely shaped lock. (note: you may want to build in a secondary path or make the locked room not essential to the adventure so things don’t grind to a halt if the players can’t figure out the puzzle.)

Puzzle Box– Hide maps, secrets, deeds, etc. in a false bottom

Wand/ Staff – Take a stick from your yard, sand off the bark with coarse grit sandpaper, then smooth with a fine grit. Add a “crystal” to the tip by gluing on a piece of rock salt or quartz. If you really want to get detailed, you could add runes with a knife or a wood burning tool

Figurine – A small glass or wooden animal could serve as a figurine of wondrous power.

Globe – Find an old globe at a yard sale, junk shop or Craigslist and repaint it with your game world map.

Gems – Take plastic or glass ‘gems’ from a craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and use them as gems, or Ioun stones

Hit those junk, antique, and resale shops, as well as the Ren faire and find a prop for your game. If you’re willing to sculpt a story around the object, anything can serve as a great prop.

 

Magic the Gathering Tactics

Posted in Gaming News, Magic the Gathering with tags , , , on February 21, 2011 by boccobsblog

Following our recent post on Magic deck building strategies, I thought I would post a link to the free Magic the Gathering Tactics game.

What is MtG Tactics? Well according to Wizards.com:

Magic: The Gathering – Tactics™ from Sony Online Entertainment, is the first game that brings the iconic characters, spells and settings from the world’s premier trading card game to life in a fully realized 3D world with tactics-style game play. Tackle the challenging single-player scenarios or join legions of gamers worldwide for intense battles of thrilling strategy in casual and tournament formats.

Video Preview 1

Video Preview 2

Castle Ravenloft

Posted in Gaming News, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by boccobsblog

picture via Wizards.com

On August 31st, Wizards will uncover the first in a new line of D&D board games, Castle Ravenloft. The game is based on the famous 1983 AD&D adventure module I6: Ravenloft, by Tracy and Laura Hickman. The game uses newly modified dungeon tiles that connect together like large puzzle pieces to keep the board from moving around. This tile based system allows the game board to be different for each adventure.

There are 5 heroes (cleric, wizard, rogue, ranger, fighter), and several monster to include two large miniatures (a flesh golem and a zombie dragon), and one huge miniature (a dracolich). The miniatures are unpainted (though they are cast in different colors of plastics based on power level), and are in the standard D&D scale. All of the miniatures (with the exception of the dragonborn fighter) are recasts of D&D minis.

The game contains the following pieces:

40 miniatures                     Rules book

Dungeon tiles                    Adventure book

4 card decks (treasure, hero powers, monsters, encounters)

1    20-sided die

The game will retail for $64.95 and be playable for 1-5 players.

If you’d like more information on the game you can follow this link and watch Mike Mearls open a copy of the game and show you what you’ll get for your money.

Not convinced yet? Well then follow this link and download a free copy of the rule book.

Also, if you do buy the game, Wizards has placed two additional adventures on their website for download (here).

-Andy

Gaming on the High Seas

Posted in Gaming News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2010 by boccobsblog

How would you like to play your favorite role-playing game while surrounded by miles of pristine Caribbean ocean? The people at Gamer Adventures can make that dream a reality.

Gamer Adventures combines your love of gaming with your family vacation. What’s really great about it, is that if your spouse isn’t a gamer there are still countless activities for them to do while you enjoy guilt-free game time.

GA currently offers three cruise packages: Alaskan, Caribbean, and Mexican Rivera. Also, they have a trip that travels to Essen, Germany for the world’s largest gaming convention, Spiel. Each trip has scheduled and open gaming events that take place in a private gaming hall on board the ship.

It’s a pretty cool idea, check it out.

Gameradventures.com

Penny Arcade and D&D

Posted in D&D 4e Content, Gaming News with tags , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by boccobsblog

I have been a fan of Penny Arcade for many years now, but in the last year or so since Gabe started playing D&D, the site has gotten even better. It all started when Wizards of the Coast asked the creators of Penny Arcade to play-test fourth edition and record the session for a podcast that would be released via the D&D website and available from Itunes.

The podcast was a huge success and the guys have since done two additional “seasons”. The second series of podcasts added Wil Wheaton to the cast (whose character gets killed live on the air), and the third is set in Athas as the guys test Darksun with Tycho as the DM.

I find it so unbelievable that Gabe has never played D&D before, he has posted some of his quests on the site and they are nothing short of amazing.

If you like Penny Arcade, then you will greatly enjoy listening to the podcasts, and even if you don’t know what PA is, you’ll enjoy listening to some very funny guys play D&D and crack jokes as they go.

-Andy

The Podcasts

Penny Arcade’s site

Gabe’s D&D Page

Gabe’s D&D Twitter

Are you being cheated out of your critical hits?

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 4e Content, Gaming News, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by boccobsblog

That’s what the people at Game Science claim. Their founder, Louis Zocchi, says that because modern dice companies roll their dice in rock tumblers and use sub-standard plastics to make their dice, that they are not as statistically accurate as his dice are.

I tested several of the dice I purchased this year at Gen Con and I have to admit, Zocchi’s claims appear to be true (as “proved” by my very non-scientific test). I tested dice in groups of three to reduce the amount of time I spent rolling dice.

Results: Out of 150 rolls (tested 3 times), the Game Science dice rolled 15 20’s, while his competitors (three other large dice companies) only yielded 8 20’s.

I have conducted other similar tests for the unbelieving  gamers in my groups and come up with similar results.  Granted that a much larger data set would be needed to come to any firm decision, but the dice seem to yield more 20’s.

Has anyone else out there done any testing of their own? If so tell us about it.

-Andy

Highlights of Gen Con Indy 2010

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 4e Content, Gaming News, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by boccobsblog

Well, Gen Con Indy is over. As always, it was an amazing experience. Where else in the world can you see 28,000 gamers in one place? Where else can you have a deep conversation about kobold battle tactics with a 45-year-old man in a homemade Pikachu costume and have no one judge you? The rest of the world could learn a lot about diversity and tolerance at Gen Con.

Here are some of the highlights:

 

 

Costumes 

The attendants of this year’s Gen Con did not disappoint. There were some amazing costumes and everyone I saw was very patient, allowing themselves to be photographed again and again.

Free Demos 

There were more games at GC than you could ever hope to try in four days. We tried some great new games and we will be sure to give each of them a full review in the weeks to come.

The Vendors 

You have to admire people who are willing to spend four days dressed as a luchador, or a pirate, or wear a chicken on their head in hopes of moving their product.

Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton

This was the only part of the con that was a bit sour for me. I had hoped to meet the cast of The Guild, but the line was very long, so I walked up to the rope and took a few pictures. Shortly after I started snapping shots, security approached me and asked that I, “please put my pants back on and step away from the crew”. Well as you can imagine I was outraged, so I pulled my boffer sword and started to kick ass all the while screaming that Wil Wheaton had stolen my prized Degu. Any who…things got a bit intense and I was tazed several times and asked to leave. I didn’t let it ruin my day.

 Wizards of the Coast Displays

WotC had some amazing displays outside the Sagamon Ballroom, where they unveiled both the 4th edition incarnation of Darksun and the Castle Ravenloft Board game. There was a huge 3D red dragon representation of the Essential D&D Starter set that drop on September 7th. Also, there was a life-sized (can there be a life-sized version of a make-believe creature?) Beholder. It stood well over 12 feet tall. It was awesome.

 The World of Darkness Lounge 

White Wolf had an excellent longue set up in the center of the con. The lounge, fully staffed by vampires, offered a bar, live music and an opulent seating area decorated with gothic-style furniture.

All in all it was a great con. There is much more to say and I could go on forever posting pictures, but then I’d wouldn’t get any gaming done. If you attended the con I hope you had as good a time as I did, and if you didn’t get a chance to go, I hope to see you there next year. Enjoy these pictures.

-Andy 

 

 

 

 

 

Felicia Day.

Buy my game or I’ll body slam you!

20 free 3.5e monsters

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content with tags , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by boccobsblog

Do you want some new monsters but don’t want to pay for additional monster manuals? Well the following are monsters from the D&D 3.5 archive and posted here for use in your game.

Alkilith (Tanar’ri), Myrmyxicus (Tanar’ri),Fey Touched Template  (Fiend Folio)

Effigy, Gravorg, Mountain Giant (MM II)

Ambush Drake, Boneclaw, Dracotaur, Grisgol, Summoning Ooze, Wood Woad  (MM III)

Black Rock Triskelion, Defacer, Dwarf Ancestor, Bluespawn Godslayer (MM IV)

Arcadian Avenger, Dragons of the Great Game, Verdant Reaver  (MM V)

Shunned (Drow of the Underdark)

The 3.5 archives are full of valuable information and though it is more difficult to find since 4th edition, it is still there if you’re willing to hunt around for it.

-Andy

Tired of the base classes? Here’s 34 other options

Posted in D&D 3.5 e Content, D&D 3.5e DM Content with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2010 by boccobsblog

Are you ready for a new challenge? Are you ready to step away from the base classes in the Player’s Handbook? Well many gamers don’t realize that there are several 20-level classes available to 3.5 players. The following is a list of 34, 20-level classes from the D&D 3.5 canon listed by the book they are found in.

Complete Adventurer

Ninja- stealthy assassin with ki powers

Scout- focuses on stealth and movement

Spellthief- a mage/thief that steals spells from other casters

Complete Arcane

Warlock- dark caster with unlimited eldritch blasts

Warmage- armored spellcaster

Wu Jen- elemental caster with unique spells

Complete Divine

Favored Soul- spontaneous divine caster (think divine sorcerer)

Shugenja- elemental divine caster

Spirit Shaman- spiritual nature healer

Complete Psionic

Ardent- versatile manifester

Divine Mind- divine manifester

Lurk- psionic assassin

Complete Warrior

Hexblade- blends curses and swordplay

Samurai- honor bound warrior

Swashbuckler- fighter that focuses on speed and skill

Dragon Magic

Dragonfire Adept- Draconic caster with breath weapon, similar to Dragon Shaman

Dungeonscape

Factoum- a true jack of all trades

Heroes of Horror

Archivist-erudite divine caster that exploits monsters through knowledge

Dread Necromancer-master of undeath on the road to lichdom

Magic of Incarnum

Incarnate- caster that embodies his alignment

Soulborn- blends incarnum and martial combat

Totemist- calls on the souls of nature

Miniatures Handbook

Healer- a specialist in curative magic

Marshal- a born leader and commander

Player’s Handbook II

Beguiler-master of lies and deception

Duskblade-fighter mage class without multiclassing

Dragon Shaman-dragon worshiper with a breath weapon

Knight- mounted warrior

Tome of Battle- The Book of Nine Swords

Crusader- holy warriors

Swordsage-blade wizards

Warblade-master of martial combat

Tome of Magic

Binder- summons powerful beings and bargains with them for power

Shadowcaster-masters of the power of darkness

Truenamer- uses the power of Truespeak

While Wizard’s may no longer be publishing books for the 3.5 edition, there is enough existing content out there to keep us gaming for several hundred lifetimes. (Classes from the Player’s Handbook and Expanded Psionics Handbook were not listed.)

Did I forgot any canonical 20-level classes? If so, post them in the comments section.