A mad month of events is almost over for me, so this should be the last late article for a little while… should be.
Within every nation, powerful factions rise to serve a singular purpose. Military, academic, economic, and philosophical affiliations cause people to draw together, to organise, and to work together in pursuit of a common goal. Where adventurers are concerned, a faction can be a powerful ally, or a dangerous enemy, and the line between the two can be a delicate one, and each step in favour of one can lead powerful individuals away from another. (more…)
I’m not much of a “Spell Component” guy, at least not material components, but the visual effect of one fusing chemicals in one’s bear hands to create fire or toxin, or vial of consecrated soil that shatters and causes the undead to flee before you, it’s all very stunning, I just find it a nuisance to track.
But to stumble across a rare material or strange artifact that might imbue a spell with power beyond its typical capabilities, even as a singular use consumable treasure, makes for an interesting treasure with unique appeal that might capture the imagination of your favourite spellslinger. (more…)
Shields, the piece of metal or wood between you and pain, and the thing that turns your fighter from a bucket of hit points into an indomitable tank. Because it’s not dealing damage it often gets overlooked by today’s modern bloodthirsty types, and it might take more than a hefty plank with handles to convince your players to maybe drop a sword in favour of some protection.
Presented below, five examples of shields with story, magical power, secrets, or just present something more interesting than a boost to armour class. The rules referenced are for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, but can be readily modified for other editions or systems. (more…)
Growing in popularity thanks to their frequent reoccurrence in Critical Role’s second campaign, the race of gentle fey giants appearing in Volo’s Guide to Monsters are forest-dwelling wardens and guardians, living peacefully and quietly with nature until situation demands that they act to protect their sworn homes. Despite their incredible size, they are more adept in matters of stealth and ambuscade, and are better fit to silently exterminate interlopers in the night than to assault them head-on.
A quick review of firbolgs as they appear in Volo’s, they’re tough to fit into an adventuring party without some heavy modifications to narrative: they abhor greed, prefer not to leave their homes, and are generally peaceful and slow to resort to violence. They also utterly lack a physical description, but general opinion seems to lean more toward hints of the bovine, hircine, or cervine elements mixed into an oversized humanoid body.
Here I present ten ideas on how to use this race, in which I will be including a few variations on the theme, none of which will be characters from Critical Role (although some artwork from the series may appear). (more…)
Among the many weapons in the DMs arsenal, often we overlook the idea of curses. Monsters and traps aplenty, puzzles and challenges, sure, but a curse is something wholly other. Disease is frequently too random, we rarely use disease because it is not something earned through foolish action, but a curse can be laid upon a player who does something foolish, or stumbles across something terrible.
These curses broadly use Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but can easily be adjusted for other systems and settings.
A three-way tie between the choices: three dragons, three NPCs, and three extra-planar threats. This can only mean one thing. You get one of each.
As usual I will generally be drawing upon Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but most of the content here should easily be modifiable to any other system or edition you choose. (more…)
Ever hear of Tucker’s Kobolds? If you have then you know that a half-dozen hit points does not mean an easy fight. In this week’s Dungeon Situational I’ll pitch a few ideas for the kinds of traps that kobolds may construct given their stature, disposition, and available resources.
As usual I’ll be using D&D 5e rules, but all rules and numbers can be adjusted to suit your campaign in other editions, systems, or for varying levels. (more…)
Dungeon Situational is a new series for Dungeons & Dragons players easily modified for other editions and roleplaying systems that feature ideas for DMs and players that can (hopefully) help you make your characters and your campaigns uniquely yours. Spells, creatures, trinkets, encounters, rewards, and obstacles of any and all sorts.
For today, something I often find my spellcasters lacking, unique magical implements. These are no mere wands and staves, these trinkets are intrinsically magical in their own right, and have minor magical properties of their own that should not unbalance the game… certainly no worse than your average magic item. (more…)
There’s a difference between flogging an intellectual property until everyone hates it, and having an idea that just keeps getting bigger until you can’t slow down.
The obvious example of the former, with each successive console supporting several new Mario titles in some form or another, either as the featured attraction or simply making a celebrity appearance such as in Smash Bros. or randomly showing his face in a Legend of Zelda game. The original format is spectacular, and it’s great that’s it’s maintained such a legacy, but there’s no denying that the squat italian is overstaying his welcome a little. Ever notice that you hardly ever see anything with Mickey Mouse as the main character these days? Disney knows when to retire a character better than Nintendo do.
Mario has had some variety, and is quick to pick up the best adaptions the platforming genre picks up as time goes on (where Sonic has rather failed), so it’s not to say that he’s grown stale over the years. He’s become the staple, the go-to, and while Nintedo’s catalogue grows ever wider there’s no denying that between the quantity, fluctuating quality, and exposure of Mario that they’re hitting a certain infuriating saturation point.
But they’ll keep Mario alive while the name and sexy, sexy moustache are still bringing in the money. While it’s nice that a new generation also get to experience the joys of stomping mushrooms and dragon-turtles to death, they’ll also get to experience getting sick of it like the rest of us…
Let me hold that up against another, more recent IP that’s seems to have overrun the market.
Maybe this is a huge cash-cow for Ubisoft, but at its core you can practically hear the echoes of the original conversation. Constantly reincarnating as an assassin working for the same order throughout history, appearing in every major culture as a pivotal figure in the ongoing war between the Templar and the Creed, a storyline that spans lifetimes, just the thought of that could spawn so many ideas, most of which you’d never be able to tie to a single narrative arc.
The story of Desmond Miles may be long over, but the nature of the idea still has a lot to offer. Taking the same raw concept and plunging it into the greatest civilizations of the world at their height creates stories almost organically, even if at times certain historical figures are shoehorned into place. With the recent addition of the Chronicles series that detail the stories of the lesser players in the many lives of the serial assassin, it’s given the creators chance to really delve deeper into that episodic narrative that their big-budget features wouldn’t normally allow.
And maybe some of us are sick of seeing it, to be honest the gameplay never gripped me but the concept I enjoy thoroughly. There are places where the zeal of the publisher shines through and the rushed titles suffer a little much like poor old Mario, but there’s still places where genuine warmth and affection for the core design and idea still resonates.
I’m not saying there’s not still love in the world for the old and overdone titles, least of all in the studios creating the games in question. Pokémon and Zelda both show profound love for the basic concept in (almost) every title. By comparison the Sims is eternally run out of the box like it’s fresh and new, and it’s just the same thing with a fresh coat of mesh, the title is a boundless well for random DLC concepts.
Love for a title shines through no matter how old that title becomes, and an idea that sparks in the head of one person that catches real fire can spread to other people, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m sure most of you have had that one idea that doesn’t let you go until you’ve seen it to its eventual conclusion – or burn out, and know the thrills it can bring to see those ideas come to life. Now imagine you have a Triple-A budget behind that idea.
What a life that must be.