Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Last Breath of Gunthar Uth Wistan - now available!

I've posted my inaugural 5th Edition Dragonlance adventure!

The Last Breath of Gunthar Uth Wistan starts with the death of one of Krynn's greatest legends...and things only get worse from there! 60+ pages of gods, cults, scumbags and heroes set in the Age of Rebirth.

Please download and plunder to your heart's content. Any and all feedback is absolutely welcome!

Monday, 22 August 2016

D&D Life -- Issue 1 (August 2016)

For all you D&D lifestyle followers out there, here's your August update!

DM Report

Out of the Abyss continues apace! Deep into the third season, the party has thus far: arrived at Gracklstugh; achieved the patronage of Clan Henstak allowing them to move freely around Southfurrow; uncovered a long-held secret of the stone giants; got very worried that the wanted posters for the "Whorlstone Ripper" might actually be Buppido, in whose tender care, unfortunately, they left several friends; and finally might have begun to understand just how much interest the demonic invaders of the Underdark are taking in them.

In my version of OotA, Gracklstugh is core to the campaign, and several layers thick with plot. While I've been a bit concerned about the sheer amount of exposition required in the last couple of sessions, the group assures me they're having a good time, so three o'clock and all is well on that front. In what will come as a surprise to absolutely bloody no-one, I'm increasingly diverging from the text, but at the same time having a lot of fun using the spine of the published campaign as the basis for a pointedly PC-focused game (something I haven't done to this extent before now). There will come a time when this game is completely home-brew, pulling only from the book where needed, but we're a long way from that yet. I'm excited at the prospect -- having chunkified my DM'ing and all that.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Chunkify Your DM'ing

Here's an interesting thing. Turns out that DM'ing in blocks of a few sessions before temporarily handing over to someone else is REALLY GOOD. It's not something I've done before. As a serial over-prepper, it's been an eye-opener.

I can prep around the schedule

In theory our schedule is four weeks on, four weeks off, but RL and finding a natural place to stop does mess with it. Say four weeks minimum. That's four sessions of around three hours each. 12 hours of D&D, which for me that means about 9-12 hours of prep. You kind of want your chunk to finish at a natural stopping point, so in order to achieve that, you start planning little self-contained episodic mini-seasons. You know your starting point, and you know where you want to put the end-of-season cliffhanger. All that remains is prepping sufficient material to achieve those goals.

Friday, 11 December 2015

It must be Christmas!

If I had a cup of D&D, it would seriously be running over right now. An impromptu decision to get a quote for a new gas boiler has borne unexpected fruit. Delicious, succulent, D&D fruit.

For the first time in a long time, Mrs. Chasing and I find ourselves playing in a weekly game of D&D. And 5th Edition D&D no less!

I'll also be running a monthly Out of the Abyss game for that self-same group.

And this is on top of the new Dragonlance campaign starting this weekend, and the online homebrew/Princes of the Apocalypse game I'm running via Skype.

We've never had so much roleplaying going on at once.

Isn't it great?

Friday, 9 October 2015

5E Dragonlance updated

I've pushed some initial content to the Dragonlance 5E page! In this update, I describe how Ansalon is rebuilding five years after the War of the Lance. This will be the starting point for the upcoming campaign.

Next update: less fluff, more crunch!

Friday, 2 October 2015

What's Happening?

5the Edition D&D!

That's what's happening, on a couple of fronts, hopefully with more to come.

Our rewind back into the world of AD&D Dragonlance concluded satisfactorily, with Takhisis banished back into the Abyss where she belongs... and the PC's with her!

I ran a customised ending which, unlike the module, involved the party actually facing down her Dark Maj rather than just getting in the way, and it was all over in three rounds with a by-the-book Dragonlance inserted into her squishy bits by a very high HP Fighter.

With Her divine soul naked and banished back to whatever abyssal pit it came from, the party faced a choice: pursue the Queen of Darkness and try to destroy her forever, or retreat back into the Prime and live the rest of their days as the legendary heroes who saved the world?

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

One man and his d20 (Part 1)

Someone once said to me that when it came to roleplaying, my house was a shrine to D&D.

I think he meant it a little disparagingly, but all it did was fill me with pride.

Damn straight it is.

Like many others, my first taste of fantasy role-playing was the Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone Fighting Fantasy game-books. The first one I played, ironically, was Starship Traveller, bought as part of a school scheme to encourage us to read outside of the class-room (can you imagine a game-book being part of such a scheme now?!).

Traveller was one of the hardest and least rewarding of the series, but it certainly got me interested. (By the way I absolutely refused to cheat my way through, and still, to this day, have never completed it!)

I would have been 8 or 9 at the time. Afterwards, pocket money, birthdays, and Christmas were all earmarked as occasions to fill out my Fighting Fantasy collection. There was no internet to learn about release schedules. My search engine was a weekly trip to the John Menzies' book department.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

First Impressions Review: Princes of the Apocalypse

Format: Hardback

Price: ~£30

Rating: A


Things are happening differently over at Wizards towers. The tide of source-books which characterized 3E and 4E has been stemmed. Latest in its new line of story-driven mega-adventures, Princes of the Apocalypse is a hardback adventure module featuring exploration, investigation, and a whole lot of dungeon crawling.

Advanced word on this one was very good, so I expected to be impressed. For £30 or thereabouts, it didn't disappoint. Quality is evident inside and out: 250+ pages of terrific art, cartography, and writing. There's a hundred or more hours of role-playing in this thing, and that makes it great value.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

D&D 5E Player's Handbook Review Part 1 - First Impressions

New editions of D&D are a very special time for this geek. I've run and played dozens of different RPG's, but you can never get away from the fact that D&D came first. Every time I play something that isn't D&D, I'm asking myself: how does it measure up? What's different about it? What's the same? By D&D shall all these pretenders be judged. I make no apologies for it... after all, most gamers are defined by their earliest experiences.

Shiny! No, seriously. Very difficult to photograh.
At the end of what seems like a very long and public journey, D&D 5th Edition has finally arrived.

In absolute terms, it's actually ahead of schedule, with "D&D Next" announced only four years into 4E's rocky tenure. On the other hand, as changes in the gaming landscape and commercial pressures have forced the rights-holders into ever more frequent re-thinks, you could say it's pretty much on the curve. Basic to AD&D was an early blip at a mere three years; AD&D 2E arrived twelve years after that; 3E eleven years later; 4E eight years after that; and now 5E lands a mere six years on from its predecessor, with two years of open play-testing built in to that. (That list doesn't include mid-cycle "refreshes" which I don't consider different or exciting enough to qualify as a new edition.)

From a gamer's point of view, these new editions have all brought different things to the table. AD&D 2E was very much a tidy-up of a ragged but beloved set of rules; 3E essentially rejuvenated the whole brand, which was dead in the water after years of mismanagement, bringing a ground-up re-design which combined modern thinking with all the classic D&D tropes; and 4E, the most recent incarnation before today, was then arguably a response to d20's/OGL's market saturation, introducing a radical new mechanical approach but in doing so sundering the community -- and its paying punters -- into multiple camps. Consequently, the 5E Player's Handbook lands for the first time in a market where D&D isn't necessarily the biggest name in town.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

D&D's Theatre of the Mind (Part 2)

Combat without the battle-mat is set for a come-back in 5E. For DM's accustomed to having the battle-mat as a visual aid, this might take some getting used to. This was certainly the case for me when running some AD&D recently, so here are some ideas on running effective encounters where everything is literally in your head...

Player vs. PC awareness - It's in the nature of the game for players to have limited knowledge. What they do know depends entirely on the DM, how he describes a scene and how he responds to their questions and actions.

Their characters, on the other hand, should always be assumed to have any knowledge that they could reasonably glean from their environment.

This is doubly true in combat, where bad information costs lives, and triply true in Theatre of the Mind, where it could reasonably be claimed that a hill giant throwing boulders from the back of the fight would probably have been something the PC's would have noticed.

So make sure your players have all the information they need to make good decisions, and be willing to roll-back the round if they make a good case for it. Be generous. TotM gives you, the DM, almost all authority, so you have it in your power to make the game run smoothly, fairly, and dramatically for everyone. The best DM's exercise this power to the fullest.