Rewarding Tremendous Play: Moments of Greatness vs. Inspiration

May 31st, 2015

Favicon-jpgD&D Encounters - Starter SetRemember D&D 4e: Top 12 Ways to Stop Sounding So Damn Metagamey?  Of course you do!  Fortunately for us, D&D 5e is not gamey at all compared to its immediate predecessor.

But it’s hard to forget how gamey D&D was not too long ago – the rules were many, rigid, and often lifeless.  Quite simply, the rules use to get in the way of the story.  Adventures often felt like exercises in dice rolling and finding every  mathematical advantage around every corner.  Who among us didn’t often forget why our characters were doing what they were doing as another grueling crunch-fest-filled hour dragged by?

Thankfully that’s all changed in 5e!  Beautiful edition, recalling the wonder and balance of the classic storytelling and gaming experience that truly is the heart of D&D.  I love it!  And so does everyone who plays it, novice or veteran.  Just check ratings, reviews and sales and it’s obvious D&D 5th edition is phenomenal.

(Note: To be clear, D&D 5e’s astounding quality and “soul” means we’re mostly reduced to nitpicking a few minor rules – like in this article – rather than criticizing massive chunks of the game like in last edition.  What a relief!  So with this understanding clear, let’s get to the point of this piece.)

However, there is one awkwardly placed section in the PHB that recalled some recent gamey-ness.  The “Inspiration” rule may have been well-intended, but it doesn’t quite feel right.

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To the War Table!

April 30th, 2015

Favicon-jpgInquisition_war_room_conceptOne of the more innovative and engrossing additions to the RPG video game genre is the War Table in Dragon Age: Inquisition. In short, your war council of advisors helps identify, lead and complete missions using markers on a sprawling world map.

The war table adds a strategic, higher level RPG element to the classic first-person RPG missions you take on with your character and small party of adventurers.  Which member of your council leads a specific effort matters as far as results and rewards, as they have different personalities, methods and contacts.

Some efforts are brief and simple (e.g. gathering raw materials), while others are complex and lengthy, involving political alliances, underground contacts or long investigations of people or locales.  The War Table adds more stories to your story, in short, as you coordinate the efforts of others across the world.

Having just completed this tremendous game, the richness of the War Table reminds us to make sure “the world turns” while the PC party goes on its own adventures – or as they participate in or even lead their own war.  There are always more missions, more quests, and more stakes – connected to and beyond the PCs’ desires and reach.  And, through the War Table, a reminder that you have close friends and allies who will help you pursue greater, even global interests.

And having just caught up on the latest season of Vikings, here’s to your inner circles being less like those and more like Dragon Age!

Chronomancy: Time Travel Tonight!

March 31st, 2015

Favicon-jpgAh, chronomancy!  The magic of time travel.  A beloved, dare I sayContinuum romantic fantasy notion.

Some stories pull it off, like Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Others, like Continuum – a SyFy show I enjoy – can get head-explodes confusing.

So how do you smoothly time travel in your games?  That’s the key.  It’s got to be believable (or actually, plausible) while simple enough to process.

The few times I’ve included time travel in my game – and hey, who doesn’t at least once? – it’s been with mixed results.  As DM, I’ve even confused myself!

So here’s a favorite resource of mine: Dragon issue #430; in particular, I like Robert Schwalb’s article, “Unearthed Arcana: Time Travel.”  Some good time travel articles in that issue, and Schwalb’s simply rocks.

(Also check out Schwalb’s new dark fantasy RPG, Shadow of the Demon Lord.  Looks like a Sword Coast Legends D&D meets Dragon Age setting – my kind of gaming!)

 

 

 

Sword Coast Legends: The Next Generation

February 26th, 2015

Favicon-jpgSword Coast Legends looks like our beloved Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale CRPGs: The Next Generation!

And it gets better: the director of Dragon Age: Origins (also a beloved CRPG and instant classic) is bringing us Sword Coast Legends.

Dragon Age: Origins goodness meets D&D’s best CRPGs of all time?  And you can play old school single player with your party (love it!) or multi-player as a party – or… you can DM, too?

Am I dreaming?  This is awesome!!

 

 

D&D Video Gems: Curse of the Sad Mummy

January 28th, 2015

Favicon-jpgLeague of Legends is one of the extremely few games I’ve played off and on for years.  It still captures my imagination (it’s a MOBA with fantasy RPG themes) and fires up my competitive gaming juices every time.  And this is true even after several weeks or months away from the game.

A big draw for me is its unique characters, and just like in D&D – their stories are tremendous and their themes inspire.  I especially love how the the artists “re-imagine” these champions with new looks or skins.

The creators of League of Legends also draw upon, blend and unleash all things fantasy and art, like in this stunningly emotional music video.

Breathtaking.

P.S. Still haven’t watched it?  Tim Burton fan?  Watch it!  Also check out the full Curse of the Sad Mummy site.

D&D Video Gems: One Last Holiday Song

December 31st, 2014

Favicon-jpgIt’s been a tough holiday season for me and my family, so I went and found a belated Xmas song to cheer me up and close out one hell of a (or hellish) year.

My family usually sings the classic version of this song together on Xmas – each of us gets a verse to sing (badly… it’s hilarious).  Hopefully we get back to the song and hilarity next year!

 

Much better.  Bonus XP for the Day 5 gift!

Finally, thank you – here’s to you, all of my gamer friends and Leonine Roar fans and followers – and to a much, much better 2015!

 

DMG Wishes: 5 Things to Look For

November 29th, 2014

Favicon-jpgDnD_DMGSoon the D&D 5th edition core rules will be complete and ours for the creative taking!  The D&D 5th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide will finally slay shelves and be in our hands in less than ten days.

There are a few particular things I can’t wait to investigate… or devour!  Here are five things I’ll be searching its hallowed pages for immediately:

  • Critical Hit Alternative Rules. It’s no secret I love impactful critical hits in my D&D.  Who wants critical hits that don’t… feel critical?  Crits that aren’t scary, that disappoint?  The 5e critical hit is flawed in that you can actually end up with less than a normal strike’s maximum damage, which I find to be no less than ridiculous.  Surely, there’s other options to consider, like a few of those during playtest?  I personally enjoyed the “max your damage and then roll one more die” critical hit from playtest.  But I can do even better!  See my Stop Rolling Your Bonus Crit Dice article for cooler, deadlier crit options for your D&D game.

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D&D Video Gems: Always the First to Die!

October 31st, 2014

Just in time for Halloween, it’s always been a bit scary playing the mage, hasn’t it?

More 8-bit fun?  +9 ogre sword!

 

Game Night: Play More One-Shots

September 30th, 2014

Favicon-jpgDnD_MonsterManualWant something completely different on game night?  Your game night doesn’t have to be the usual, weekly full campaign.

Want to keep D&D, Dragon Age or whatever RPGs you play exciting and easy to jump into, week after week?  Game type variety is what you need!

Full Campaigns: The Bad and the Ugly

There are two big drawbacks to always playing full campaigns.  First, full campaigns can feel overwhelming and long.  Going from levels 1-20 or 1-30 can really feel like a slog for some players – and GMs!  If the pace of XP and level gain isn’t right, you risk never experiencing the whole game – even if you play for a few real-life years!

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D&D Video Gems: Walking In Circles

August 31st, 2014

Favicon-jpgThe D&D 5th edition Player’s Handbook is finally here!  In celebration of D&D 5e parties assembling for the first time around the world, sit back and enjoy a few laughs!

It’s all about the biscuits!

Pick pocket?  Here’s a Bag of Gems.