Last week I took a handful of classic D&D creatures and proposed new uses for their stat-blocks, something to lend a bit of diversity to the current roster with minimal need to create, change or modify. If your campaign has a flavour that the Monster Manual simply doesn’t cater for, there are ways and means of accommodating to your tastes. This week I’ll approach from the other side of the coin, declaring what I need for my campaign and using the tools at hand to make a solution.
Once again I’ll be using D&D 5th edition because it’s what I know best… (more…)
Wizards of the Coast have broken some of their former habits. No longer does their release schedule include Monster Manual after Monster Manual, catalogues and folios, instead they’ve turned their focus to stories, campaigns that spark the imagination and drive creative thought, each coming with a range of monsters, player options, magic items and ideas for Dungeon Masters and players alike. And it seems to be going rather well.
But if you’ve grown tired of recycling the same old classics and staples from the Monster Manual, and even grown sick of the additions from various extra sources like Volo’s Guide and the campaigns, here’s a few ideas on re-skinning a few of those monsters you’ve done to death. (more…)
Sessions of D&D are usually not short. Any session that I have been to has ranged between 2-4 hours in general, so I was intrigued to go and see a specifically designed 90 minute D&D base show at The Improv Theatre in Bristol. I was very interested to see how this would work and being a fan of things like Critical Role, and the Acquisitions Incorporated sessions I had no idea how they would make it work and was very pleased with the result.
This is something of a review, because one area I must criticise 4th edition D&D on was the support it received online.
Enjoying 4th edition places you in something of a minority, but it had it’s truly beneficial features. Stripping away to the bare bones of the system and starting again from scratch was a bold step better executed this time around, but in so doing Wizards of the Coast learned a few valuable lessons. However, for players new to the format the at-will/encounter/daily breakdown of powers, spells and abilities made for a readily comprehendible set-up for combat that was easy to grasp, and for DMs it made the process of creating new monsters, traps and various other key elements much easier.
Still I have come to appreciate 4th’s failings, and it’s hideous decline into Essentials – VAMPIRE IS NOT A CLASS YOU ~cough~ – anyway, and I can almost fully understand the outrage many of the die-hards and old school players felt during the releases. I’ve refuted some of it’s so-called weaknesses, espoused it’s strengths, admitted graciously it’s failures, and recognised how the mistakes I made as a 4th edition DM have hardened me into a far stronger practitioner.
But that’s not what this article is about, no edition wars in the comments please!
Wizards of the Coast offered up four pieces of support to subscribers to their Insider services: The Dungeon and Dragon magazines offered supplementary rules, errata updates and useful lore to DMs and players respectively, the former with regular dungeons and/or mini-campaigns, the other expanding on class, race and character options.
The Character Builder began as an excellent tool for… well building characters, and better yet it was a piece of downloadable software you could continue to use long after your subscription had ended, but could only be updated while you’re subscribed, seems reasonable. But when Essentials came around the software became restricted to in-browser only, and there were no more updates. Alright, not a great loss, right?
Adventure Tools started life with a catalogue of monsters that the DM could filter by level, role, and keywords, as well as searching by name. It allowed for easy encounter building, and also included a fantastic monster-building tool that did all the essential maths on your behalf, as well as offering up necessary guidelines to help prevent over- or under-powering your creations. Like the character builder it was available to download and update to subscribers, but subscribers never got the one thing they wanted most from the adventure tools, any other adventure tools. The software lived and died as the monster compendium.
Mini rant out of the way, now credit where credit is due.
5th edition began life as a series of .pdf files that were freely available to everyone with a request for as much playtest feedback as possible so that they could refine the game into a cleanly finished product that could be enjoyed by all, and it worked beautifully. What’s even better is that they have not finished the process.
If you have any kind of internet-capable mobile device that is able, get the Dragon+ app or get it straight to browser, which features a free monthly magazine with news, articles, lore, podcasts, and even better, new character options that are in a constant state of playtest. For example, the Mystic class – a psychic of many talents that falls somewhere between monk and spell-caster – is currently in its second iteration after a few months of being trialled, and is still subject to change as a final version may never reach a published book, and only ever appear in the hands of those who read regularly. The same is true of some Eberron-specific races like Shifters and Warforged, available somewhere in the archives of Dragon+, I forget where.
Free core rules are readily available for anyone to download including basics on character building for players and a limited selection of classes, races and spells to pick and choose from (although 114 pages is most of the Players Handbook, so you’re not losing all that much), and for DMs a collection of monsters, how to build encounters with them, and some magic items to hand out afterwards. Without spending a penny you can have enough to dabble into the full game, but they’ve given just enough to make the books well worth buying. If you own the books already get these downloaded onto your phone or tablet though, it helps when travelling light, or for sudden and unexpected gaming situations.
So that’s it, right? All the core rules and a nice little collection of extra supplementary material for free. They can’t give any more away, surely?
No, hypothetical reader, I am not done! And stop interrupting me!
If you’re a stalwart of the WotC flagship product then there’s a few other online tools you’ll be familiar with that some consider an absolute must for play. The virtual tabletops Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 are both now fully endorsed by Wizards and have official support for new releases, making it easier for people who prefer to play online – or are forced to by time and distance – to join in and get a richer experience. Granted that support isn’t free, but there’s a limit as to how much can just be handed out.
The DMs Guild powered by the DriveThru team who support content creators for RPGs is a dedicated platform for writers wanting to generate content for D&D within the official guidelines laid down by WotC. That may sound limiting, especially when you can just use the normal DriveThru RPG platform and make money the same way, but if you play by their rules Wizards might just pick up your content to go official, and the chance to have your work appear alongside the official staff writers. It’s a great way for Wizards to source the best material straight from the fan community, but it’s also a great way for writers to make money and get publicity at the same time.
There’s more, there is so much more, from the fan site toolkit, the Podcast (which featured the writer of Rat Queens one time and I squealed like a fangirl), the Open Gaming License, to associations and respective nods to other major companies, many of which fan-made that have grown to industry giants, some of which seemingly unrelated… like My Little Pony… just, click that link, you’ll be richer for the experience. Is it all perfect? No, but it is a huge step towards improving company-customer relations, and one that a company like Wizards sorely needs in order to keep revenue flowing. Those books aren’t cheap, but when you feel like your money is put to good use it all suddenly becomes a little more worthwhile.
Dammit Hasbro, you cunning puppet-masters, you made me love you a little bit.
With the new year approaching, this is a time we reflect and look forward all at once. Today I found myself considering that this year I have not discovered much, no new bands, I’ve played almost no new games, and I don’t think I’ve even read a new comic, let alone any new books, and it’s not for lack of desire, in all cases I either lack the time or can’t find anything that captures my attention so utterly that I simply have to know more. A few great films have come out, and T.V. series, but nothing truly original, mostly remakes or Marvel properties.
But really it’s not been a wasted effort. On looking back I find that most of my experiences this year have been about remaking, and about shedding new light on things I’d already experienced once before, revisiting things I know and finding that I could still discover more. (more…)
Another games day come and gone and what a fantastic day it was. And another huge thank you to everyone who attended and took part in the many games and competitions.
The two role-plays drew a surprisingly large audience, as well as interested players. Viking Tomato was held on the main stage in the afternoon, it was a parade of heroic vegetables and terrible… terrible puns as it ever is. Daring feats by the Cranberry Saucerer, and Rhubarbarian saw victory over a band of militarised Pringles. Mike, my co-conspirator at Quotes from the Tabletop DM’d, he recently started his own YouTube channel, Bassios!
My game started in the morning in a separate RPG room, I used Kerplunk to build an ever mounting sense of dread, and dread it most certainly created. While my attempts to implement sound failed due to technical difficulties, it didn’t stop the look of abject terror on the face of the young lady who caused a catastrophic loss of marbles.
Here are a few pictures from the rest of the day, thanks to the owners of e-Collectica and CEO Darwin T. Dodo (I’m fairly sure T. stands for the) for providing them. These pictures will be uploaded to our Facebook page, so if you see yourself, tag yourself.
The party carried on to a local pub for the die-hards who just couldn’t let go. The after-party is one of my favourite parts of the day, and I hope that even when the event starts extending into the evening that the after-party still happens.
Wheels are already in motion for e-Collectica games days next year, and we want to make them bigger and better than ever. Not to mention that the the October Games Day of 2016 will be the store’s 10th birthday, so they are looking to make it a real party. We’ll keep you up to date with the plans nearer to the time, or you can follow e-Collectica on their Facebook page for up-to-date news and info on the massive array of games they stock.
I’m busy writing the most elaborate one-shot game I’ve ever made, using D&D 5th edition as my basic format. In keeping with the season I’m going for a horror theme with a shamelessly childish twist, but I take pride in my work! No matter how childish my source material I’m working hard to keep it as traumatising as possible. When I play for fear, I go for the throat, and everything I can bring in to build atmosphere I will be using. It’s the kind of work I only put into an event-grade game.
e-Collectica Games Day is upon us, and we’re pulling out all the stops. Along with a battery of new and old games including some Star Wars X-Wing and Armada, it’ll also see the return of Viking Tomato, the ever popular fruit and vegetable based roleplay based on Quotes from the Tabletop‘s very own Mike/Bassios.
More importantly, if this games day goes well, then next year the event can get even bigger! There are speculations on taking the 9:30 – 4:30 event into the evening, and at next the next birthday party – the big 1-0 – even a mini-cosplay competition.
This is how bigger events are born, they grow from the support of the good people like you. People are coming from all over the country for this so if you’re anywhere in or near Shropshire, come down and join us. There’s still time before Saturday to get your ticket for £2.50, unless you want to pay the full £3 on the door, hey we don’t mind. Games start at 9:30 in the Morris Hall on Bellstone.
Anyway, enough of this shameless advertising. Back to work…
Whether you’re looking for a bite to eat, or looking for something far more adventurous than that, fungi are pretty cool. I mean they look pretty funky, they are called fungi and they’re somewhat… mushy? Well, okay then. You chose it, we grew it. But what mushrooms and fungi made it into our list? Were these mushrooms good for growth, or were they just too trippy to be forgotten?
Ah, I know, we’re getting too punny up here. Hey, don’t leave now I’m honestly a fun guy! Okay, on with the list :)
**WARNING** We do not advocate hallucinogenics… But in the contexts of mushrooms, it’s too funny to miss out on those puns. We’re so not sorry for this one. You’ve been forewarned!
10 – The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet
Science Fiction, don’t you just love how one minute it can be very serious and telling you to prepare the proton lasers to blast apart the frigate… Then the next minute, it could be telling you the wonderfully imaginative story of two children who learn about an adventure to travel to the Mushroom Planet in a spaceship they build themselves. Of course, they couldn’t go alone, they had to take a mascot if they wanted to go into space. So two children and a hen go into space and travel to the Mushroom Planet.
Needless to say when they get there, they see a planet which is covered with mushrooms… Tree sized mushrooms, small mushroom bushes, you name it – Mushrooms everywhere. Nothing psychedelic about this experience so far. Instead, the boys meet the Martians of the Mushroom Planet, who aren’t doing so well. So, since this is a lovely child’s story, the two boys end up finding out all of the woes of these Martians and end up saving the Mushroom Planet. How… Lovely. I wonder if they brought any mushrooms home with them, y’know, for “sampling”?
9 – Glowing Mushrooms, The Elder Scrolls
Other than the fact that these Glowing Mushrooms are really good for your Alchemy skill and the fact they’re relatively common and easy to find, there’s no true reason to pick these over the other mushrooms in The Elder Scrolls. All things considered, they’re relatively simple for mushrooms, but hey, they’re certainly quite striking and memorable. I mean they show up nicely in Skyrim, so it only serves its purpose as the mushroom that most people remember from the series.
Some people might say the fungi that grows on the side of trees are more memorable, but hey, these Glowing Mushrooms look cool and they make a lot of really useful potions for you to use. Some of their uses include Fortify Health and Resist Shock! Pretty useful potions compared to some of them. Plus, these Mushrooms will see you through caves quite safely and happily. They’re useful as they help to light your way but only just. They’re only bright enough to be seen, but not bright enough to guide you around.
8 – Violet Fungus, Dungeons & Dragons
The Violet Fungus in Dungeons & Dragons are the type of enemies that really helps to get players into the habit of “Oh, let’s remember to keep our eyes peeled. There could be Fungi near us, ready to eat us!” These fungal monstrosities are completely neutral, because they seemingly have one purpose in their miserable lives – Flail their tentacle ridden arms around like it’s nobodies business. They’re particularly annoying enemies that can do some good damage to an unsuspecting player.
There’s not too much to say about them. They’re usually purple hence their name, but they sometimes take on duller colours. They sometimes work with other enemies, if it’s beneficial to the Fungus, but in truth, it’s not like the Fungus really even thinks about it. It just likes to whip things with its tentacles.
7 – Fungi and Mushrooms, The Sims 3 Supernatural Expansion
Exactly what you might think these Mushrooms are – They are possible to grow and require a good gardening skill to be able to look after them. They can be used in alchemy which exists in The Sims 3, because you know, real life. The fact they were included in the Supernatural expansion I think is just for the use of alchemy and nothing else… A shame, as it’d be nice to see what other properties they could have given these shrooms in the game.
Of course that isn’t to say that the modding community hasn’t had a crack at it. The modding community weirdly though have decided to stick away from the dangerous side of Mushrooms and have made it so they’re easier to look after and grow. Pity. I was looking forward to watching my Sims freak out! Know of any weird Sims mods? Let us know in the comments below!
6 – The Mushroom Men
There’s a relatively unknown game called The Mushroom Men which is for Nintendo consoles (DS and Wii). In this game, there are literal Mushroom Men who are around 3 foot tall and these pipsqueaks are in a war one another. To survive, the Mushroom Men had created tribes to be a part of, whilst humans basically just never noticed because a harmless green dust never needs to be investigated.
A typical little fantasy, but it’s such an unknown game it deserved a nod. It was a unique take on fungal people. You would play as Pax from the Bolete tribe and as you roam around the world, you collected different items to string together and create unique weapons. Considering this was around 2008, that’s quite innovative for its time. The game was met with very mixed reviews, but hey – It holds a place in my spore-ridden heart.
5 – Fungal Giant, World of Warcraft
Huge but slow, the Fungal Giants of Zangarmarsh are an imposing figure in the World of Warcraft. They are sentient fungi who actually are really good for farming if you want to get your Herbalism levels up too. Yes, once you kill them, you can gather herbs off of them, because who wouldn’t want to put sweaty Fungal Giant fungi in their potions? Still, these guys have a seriously fun back plot, revolving entirely around Zangarmarsh, but they have been found elsewhere. If you play the game, I would seriously recommend exploring Zangarmarsh fully as it’s so pretty! It was easily my favourite Outland zone.
These Giants are usually relatively tame creatures, but sometimes they will be driven crazy enough to invoke their wrath on those who would do damage to the spores of Zangarmarsh. Being a host of three hearts, these giants are durable and all around very unique looking. One more interesting thing about the Fungal Giants I read, was that their faces seem to resemble that of the metal band Mushroomhead. Feel free to look into that as you will.
4 – Mooshroom, Minecraft
Yes, the fungal bovine creatures get to make an appearance here on a Top 10 list, as they’re pretty unique and an all around fun creature to see in the game. The Mooshroom is literally a combination of “Moo” and “Shroom”, making it a mushroom cow. When you look at it, you can see the shrooms growing off of it and amusingly you can shear the Mushrooms off of a Mooshroom.
Mooshrooms are a great resource to farm if you’re looking to make giant mushrooms for buildings or just for decoration. They’re also useful for complimenting the brown mushrooms if you ever felt like farming those separately to red mushrooms. Then you can have as much Mushroom soup as you could handle. Colourful and they live in the Mushroom biomes, the Mooshrooms are certainly some of the strangest encounters in the wonderfully imaginative realms of Minecraft.
3 – Of Man and Manta
We’re going back into the realms of sci-fi folks and the lovely childrens story from earlier isn’t the only sci-fi book that covered fungi. No, there’s Of Man and Manta, a fantastic series of books written by Piers Anthony from the late 60s into the mid 70s. It’s a trilogy that’s well worth picking up and having a flick through. It has some really unique character devices in, from the inclusion of characters with strict dietary requirements
Omnivore, one of the three books, is focused primarily on the fungi on the planet Nacre Of these fungi, there are intelligent Mantas. I guess if there were truly sentient fungi, this would be the book to read! I’m going to look to the skies tonight to see if I can be like the three main characters and be able to see Nacre. If I can, I’m going to go and make me a couple of million for discovering it. Or I’m going to go to bed and wonder what is wrong with my vision when I am seeing things that just aren’t there.
2 – Toad
Toad doesn’t even need to be introduced to the majority of gamers and even a good selection of non-gamers, but I feel it’d be an injustice to not introduce this little Mushroom man anyway. Unlike all of our previous entrants to the Top 10, Toad does have serious story behind him. He’s also been in a lot of games, from Super Mario Bros, to Paper Mario and even to Mario Kart. Toad has been around the block and is certainly one of the most lovable characters in the whole Mario franchise.
There are times that you went to rescue Princess Peach, only for Toad to be there to tell you that our Princess is in another castle (Seriously, why are you in that castle Toad? Surely Bowser can’t be that into Mushroom men). Then how about in games like Super Mario 64, where Toad serves to tell you some useful information? What about the times you literally will see paintings of Toad around in different places. The only problem with Toad is we don’t actually know the extent of how many games he’s been in… For one, it’s uncertain if “Toad” was in the original Super Mario Bros.
1 – Fungus, Final Fantasy: Unlimited
A weird choice here, but hear me out. This is from an anime called Final Fantasy: Unlimited and this is a man whose name is literally “Fungus”. He is supposedly unable to die, as even if he is chopped up into teeny tiny pieces, he’ll reform. Amusingly, whenever this happens, he reforms a lot smaller than his original stature, so he has to wait for a while before he turns back to his full size.
He serves a major development in the plot. He appears humanoid, but he is actually a sentient fungus that seemingly serves the bad guys. He’s seen frequently at the start of the series, but as time goes on, you begin to realise that his aspirations throughout the series are slightly more noble… To a point. He wants to rebuild his destroyed fungus world, which sounds great until you realise that he was a powerful general of said fungi… And then he just turns into a power creep. Someone, go eat this man before it’s too late.
The fungi listed above were pretty damn good, but let’s now check all of the undergrowth of this shroom patch. Now put your hands together for some that deserves a nod, but aren’t quite good enough to be the star attraction of this delectable list.
Okay, this isn’t anything in particular, but it’s such a niche of fantasy and especially that of fairies that I thought it was a nice inclusion to the list. They’re nothing special, they’re relatively unremarkable, but the very idea that something has hallowed out a mushroom to live inside of is really quite cool. It does imply there are teeny, tiny people, lurking in the underbushes… They could even be outside, right now, with their tiny little aerial signal televisions and their chimney pipes blowing smoke out of their Mushroom…
Be right back folks, I’m going fairy hunting.
Mushrooms, Don’t Starve
You know you’re doing something right when picking up a Mushroom and eating it is truly risky business. In Don’t Starve, a game where you have to survive out in the wilderness all by yourself, (or with some other players if you play Don’t Starve Together, I guess,) you get the chance to see a variety of different kinds of mushrooms and depending on when you pick it up, the condition the mushroom was in etc, they can have different effects.
Of course, the whole point of games like Don’t Starve are to make you use your noggin a little bit and not pick up all of the dangerous mushrooms. Sadly, this isn’t the most dangerous thing you can uncover in the game, but at least they make you think twice before picking them up! There’s a whole wikia page dedicated to Mushrooms in the game.
I hope you’ve had your fill of mushrooms and fungi now. But of course, now it’s over to you – What did you think of the list? Let us know in the comments below and let us know if there were any mushrooms we forgot about! Don’t forget to let us know your feelings over on Facebook and Twitter and vote for next weeks Top 10!