The Resistance, Dungeon Master's Guide - Boards & Swords #33

2014-11-25 17.32.06
2014-11-25 17.32.06

Lots of board gaming talk this week! Between Thanksgiving and other side trips, I share plenty of gaming experiences from the past couple of weeks. I've also got the brand new 5th edition Dungeon Master's Guide to talk about, and we breakdown the social deduction game The Resistance!

This podcast is an Obsessive Comics Disorder production. Please visit ocdcast.com for more great videos and podcasts, such as the main Obsessive Comics Disorder podcast, making fun of comics and all the other geeky things we obsess over. Like to contribute to the show? Send me an email with what you are playing to feedback@boardsandswords.com. On twitter, you can find me @ChrisTheProf or on facebook go to facebook.com/obsessivecomicsdisorder. Also check out my instagram (ChrisTheProfessor) to see pictures of all the games that I'm currently playing.

Boards & Swords #000: "Who Am I, & What Is This About?"

photo (3)
photo (3)

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that I'm going to be burying my head in a bunch of work for the rest of the month and unable to publish any blog posts/videos/or podcasts.  But, before I did, I wanted to put out something for you guys to check out while I'm busy.  Recently, I've become a much bigger fan of TableTop gaming, specifically board games and card games.  Ever since, I've had this big desire to put out a podcast where I can talk about these things, but I wasn't able to figure out how I wanted to do it.

Until Now.

What you've got before you now, is a *very* rough idea of what I want to do for this podcast.  I don't have any titles or album art yet, so this is just a barebones pilot episode for me to get some feedback from you guys on how to create this podcast.

In this episode - I introduce myself and give a brief history of my gaming experiences, talk a bit about what I want to do on this podcast, and then go into a review of Wizard of the Coast's latest D&D reprint: the 3.5 Rule Supplement "Magic Item Compendium".

Question of the Week - A question that I'd like answered by you guys and will read responses on my next episodes (for now, email them to chris@ocdcast.com, or comment on this episode).

The D20 Experience: Editions And Whats Next For D&D

The D20 Experience is a column I run on this site where I talk about the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons, both aspects of the game and how they apply to my adventures playing in a regular D&D group. If you are curious as to what D&D is about, I suggest you take a look at this previous article. If you've been around D&D long enough, you've probably heard people talk about "editions" and which edition is their favorite to play. Some people get really heated about which version of the game is the best one. If you want to get a bit of insight into this, and are curious about what this "beta" edition of D&D that is going around, stay tuned for a short story on editions and the thought process I went through when I decided to take a spin in the DM chair.

I had this big post planned out and written up about the various editions of D&D and why people get so fierce about one edition over the other. Well, Evernote decided to erase it before it sync'd back to my account and I lost that post. I was not looking forward to rewriting it, so instead I'm going to summarize it here. For any extra information, I'll point you over to this wikipedia page. There have been 4 editions of Dungeons and Dragons; two by the original company TSR, Inc. and two by Wizards of the Coast when they bought the rights to D&D when TSR went bankrupt. Fourth Edition is the current edition of the game, but many players did not like the changes to the game have stayed with the very popular "3.5 Edition".

There is a 5th edition of the game that is currently being worked on called "D&DNext". Wizards of the Coast has been "beta" testing the game by releasing versions to players for free and encouraging their feedback. They have been incorporating the best aspects of all the other editions and rolling into one improved edition. According to what I've seen, this edition will come out sometime in 2014.

Being a giant D&D nerd, I have been really interested in D&DNext. I have access to all the beta materials, read through all the materials, and have been listening to the official D&D podcast talk about it. Everything that they have been talking about has me really excited to try out the new rules. In our group, our DM has mentioned that if any of us wanted to take the wheel on the adventures for a little bit we were more than welcome to. Given all of this, I started thinking about creating my own D&D story, using it to experiment with the D&DNext rules (and not touch our current campaign).

I've been a DM before, several times in fact. However, usually when I had been running games, I could not get people together often enough to have a regular running campaign. So the adventures that I created were one-time stories, maybe with a possibility of extending into another session if I got the same group of people together. With the regular schedule that my D&D group keeps fairly well, I wanted to experiment with building a "world" and creating an extended story that would last several sessions.

With this in mind, I went about delving into the D&DNext materials to get as knowledgable about the rules as I could. Yet, the more and more I read/heard about the game, the more I began questioning my decision. You see, I would have to teach everyone at the group these new rules, which would make the first couple of sessions rocky to say the least. On top of that, every couple of months they send out revisions of the rules to address concerns/ideas that players had submitted. So, every little bit, I'd have to teach everyone the rules AGAIN. That's when I realized that for now, D&DNext would work best for one off dungeon crawlers instead of a long ongoing story.

So what did I do? That's a story for next time :)

 

 

Chronicles of a D20: Meet The Crew

This week, I'm testing out a new series that I'm dubbing (for now) Chronicles of a D20. I've found an awesome D&D group over the past year that gets together most weeks to play. These sessions are filled with all kinds of entertainment and I figured some might enjoy reading of our adventures. Also, for the next few adventures, I will be playing the role of DM, so I can share all kinds of behind the scenes information on our adventures.

Today, I'll start off by describing the group dynamic to the best of my ability by introducing all the players. Now, since I didn't ask permission first, I'm going to strip out their names and just describe them by their class and how they play their characters. Let's get started...

Fire Mage - This is my character (when I'm a player). I play a human wizard who specializes in fire, and by that I mean he's a pyro. If too much discussion is going on during a role-playing moment, or if my character gets bored, he'll just start setting stuff on fire. This has worked against me a few times, as I've accidentally set most of the party on fire multiple times. But, if you need someone to quick set ablaze a group of minions, then I'm your guy.

Other Mage - Another human wizard, only this one has more lightning/ice spells (and isn't a pyro). He started out as an apprentice to a shopkeeper that we ran across. When the town was in trouble, he blew up the shop as a distraction and joined our crew. He is tricky and manipulative like my character, and often times will scheme with him to create all kinds of magical disasters. Sometimes, he and my character will sit back and smoke some pipes while we wait for the rest of the group to sort out situations.

Psion - I'm not kidding you when I say that he's a diva - his race is literally called Deva. Supposedly he's an immortal spirit now walking among our plane as flesh. The more charismatic member of the group, he is typically the one who tries to barter with people or bluff them to suit our needs (or just his). He is also a disciple of Magnar, and wishes to spread the good news to whomever will listen. Who is Magnar? He is basically a person who found enlightenment by setting himself on fire, and the Psion wants others to find the same enlightenment (my character is usually very eager to aide said followers).

Cleric - A gypsy healer, she was frozen in time for a long while and then thawed out by the group and joined with them. Along the way, she has found the descendants of her family, who currently offer us a home base to come back to in between our adventures.

Fighter - A giant who follows the attack first, skip the questions later, he is usually running head strong into a fight, with the rest of us typically trying to catch up. Along the way, he got bit by a werewolf and began to change every now and then. Eventually, we found a group of shifters who helped him control his abilities. Now we occasionally have a giant mindless dog who is easily distracted by a runaway squirrel.

Paladin - Our other noble healer, she is a cat like humanoid who while wearing chainmail is wearing very little of it. I'm not sure what god she serves but one of his commandments must be if youve got it, flaunt it. This works for when we need a guard or anyone else distracted. At the same time, she is most of the group's conscious, usually suggesting we take the moral high ground in a decision.

Warlock - A dragonborn, this warlock typically takes on the role of the leader. This is largely due to the fact that he seems to be the only one who can make sense out of the random personalities in our adventuring crew. He doesn't take any crap, and is fully ready to open a star on top of you if you get in his way.

Ranger - This human is that guy in the group - the one everyone makes fun of for his seemingly bad luck with rolls. It has gotten to the point that many party members will purposefully stay out of his line of sight to keep from accidently getting hit with an arrow. Honestly, I've never seen anyone perform a double attack and roll critical fails both times! His accuracy aside, he often has several ideas for how to approach the fight, giving the rest of us ideas to think about during the combat.

Rogue - One of the more recent additions to our party, this half-orc is not the sneaky sneaky assassin type rogues that you typically find in D&D. No, this rogue is more of the henchman type, always performing acrobatic stunts over enemies to get into a good position to stab them. Can be intimidating, but my character managed to magically persuade him to work for us for free during our first mission (hehehe). I just hope that doesn't come back to hurt me later...

There you have it. Internet, meet the party; party, meet the internet. Every adventuring crew has to have a great name, and we've dubbed ourselves Azrael's Bane, after a baddie that we've stood up against a few times. However, the unofficial name that we've given ourselves is much more fitting:

The Douchebags of Holding.

 


 

 

D&D Review: "Dungeons of Dread"

Last week, I received a review copy of "Dungeons of Dread"; one of the latest D&D products from Wizards of the Coast.  It is a collection and reprinting of some of the more infamous 1st edition D&D modules  - the S series.  This book contains modules S1 through S4: S1 - Tomb of Horrors

S2 - White Plume Mountain

S3 - Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

S4 - Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

Read onwards to learn more about these adventures and my thoughts on the collection.

 

For the first Origins game festival, Gary Gygax (the creator of D&D) created a new adventure to premiere at that event.    Having heard many players brag about how powerful their characters were, he designed the module to be a real challenge for players.  That module was called the "Tomb of Horrors", and was later released to the general public under the code S1 - starting off the "Special" series.

"Dungeons of Dread" collects "Tomb of Horrors" along with the other 3 S-series modules in a beautiful hard bound book.  Inside, all of the original illustrations and maps have been preserved and reprinted in a black and white format along with the original gameplay text that accompanied them.  The cover harkens back to the design of other 1st edition books, making it clear which version of the game this is for.

Now, I have a confession to make here: I have never played 1st edition D&D.  I did not get into D&D until the 3.5 edition in college.  I have, however, played a bit of the 4th edition revamp of the Tomb of Horrors.  Let me just say that as someone who has both played D&D as a character and run a game as a DM, looking through the original Tomb of Horrors module scares me.  Gary Gygax did not hold back with this adventure, it was very much made to kill player characters.  There are drastic, no holds barred death traps that can be encountered prior to even setting foot in the actual Tomb.

I haven't yet looked through the other adventures in this book as I want to do them justice and take my time reading through all their intricacies.  I have flipped through them a bit and I am pretty excited to see what's in store.  One of the dungeons appears to even take place on a spaceship!  In D&D - a *Fantasy* setting!  But apparently the player characters stumble onto a spaceship filled with aliens and various technology; including some funky looking space weapons.

Who is this book designed for?  Well, primarily, if you ever played the 1st edition version of D&D, then I think you are going to want this book.  I can imagine there will be lots of nostalgia flipping through the pages and reading the different mechanics of each adventure.  Players of later editions, like myself, may find it hard to understand all the instructions and gameplay.  For instance, I've been playing D&D for almost 10 years now across 2 editions and I still have no idea what some of the terms are in this book.  Yet, that difficulty aside, if you are like me and never played 1st edition D&D I think you are *really* going to like this book as it gives you a sense of the history of where this game that we love to play has come from.  All four of these dungeons are considered to be some of the best modules of D&D ever to be written, so it would be wise for modern DM's to take a look through the pages of Dungeons of Dread to try and find out why - and how they can use it to improve upon their own campaigns and storylines.

What editions of D&D have you played?  Let me know in the comments below.

Dungeons & Dragons...& Wikis?

I've been lucky enough to find a good group of people to play D&D with on a regular basis (and by regular I mean just about every week). However, as is common with some gaming groups, it is hard getting the same group of people together every single week. Our group solves the problem by having a large number of people in it - when everyone shows up, there can be like 10-12 people playing! That's quite a lot of people for a single D&D group; which is a good and a bad thing. When everyone shows up, encounters may take awhile and we may not get through much story, but when we have weeks where a couple of people cannot show up, we still typically have enough people that we can still play. Yet, this presents another problem; which I'll talk about along with how one of our members solved it past the break.

With not having the same group of members playing week to week, it can be hard trying to keep everyone informed about what has been happening. If someone can't make it for a couple of weeks in a row (like I have once or twice), they could miss out on a lot of story and not understand where the group is at when they return. This puts a lot of pressure on the DM to try and recap what has happened recently, but people's memories of our "adventures" tend to deteriorate past a week or more.

This is a problem that isn't limited to our group; any gaming group playing through a long storyline in their pen & paper RPGs runs into the issue of trying to recall what happened last time to help get everyone back into the adventure. Back when I was in college, we would be lucky to get everyone together once a month to continue our adventures. Unless the DM still had really good notes from his previous session, it would be hard to recapture all that had taken place; and even if they did recap it, there was bound to be some small details left out that could impact the story later. After college, when I ran a Star Wars RPG group and would use Facebook to organize when and where we would meet, I used the group's Facebook page to post up a summary of what had happened in the previous adventure. This help mitigate this problem to a certain extent, but it just added another task onto myself as the GM (game master) to do in my prep for the next adventure. For those that have never run a game before, let me tell you, there is already a decent amount of work that needs to be done by the GM prior to the gaming.

So, a couple of months ago, one of the guys in our current group came up with a solution to the problem. He had won a free domain name in a contest from a podcast that he listens to and set up the domain name to link to a Wiki that he had started for our group (no, I'm not going to give you the address). On the wiki, there are pages where each of us can create pages for our characters, allowing us to tell our backstories. More importantly, each time we meet, there is a page posted up on the wiki describing what happened during that session. During the actual session, one of us will write down all the important/funny/interesting things that happen during that session on a laptop (or iPad in my case), and then post it to the wiki when they get a free chance. If one of us misses a session, now all we have to do is logon to the wiki and read the synopsis that was posted. Even better, if we get deep into a campaign and forget why we are doing this "quest" in the first place, we can go back a few sessions and remind ourselves of what happened.

This has become a very useful tool for our group over the past few months. It takes some of the load of recapping the previous adventures off of the DM (dungeon master, what game masters are called in D&D). Yeah, it does mean one of us has to sit and type down what happens (and yeah maybe we haven't rotated the job as much as we should), but I think of it as a small price to pay. Plus, as an additional benefit, the fact that other players have been posting their character's backstories made me sit down and actually think about my character and his backstory.

So in conclusion, many props to that guy for getting this all set up for us, and I just wanted to this out there to you other gamers as a suggestion that you could take for your gaming groups as well.

In a related question - what pen and paper games are you guys playing? I've been curious recently to try out some different games besides D&D and would love to hear your suggestions. Comment below or send them to Chris@ocdcast.com.