Archive for the ‘News, Previews & Reviews’ Category

D&D Rules Expansion: Pros & Cons

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Favicon-jpgNever has D&D felt so elegant and complete “out of the box.”

The number of character concepts alone the D&D 5e PHB covers compared to its PHB predecessors is astounding.  Somehow, the core D&D rulebooks in 5e – the PHB, DMG and MM – along with several rich and inspired “super-adventures” are holding up and keeping this game strong and seamless since summer of 2014.  That’s nearly two years of tremendous D&D!

But what about more?  More rules options?  An official rules expansion?  It’s a question some veteran D&D gamers – used to the onslaught of supplemental rulebooks from previous editions – and even some of many, many new D&D players are asking.

On one hand, I understand wanting a few more options if that’s all you know from previous editions.  On the other, I don’t feel this urgency to add more rules to a game that is running so elegantly at every level of play, smoothly balancing story and game better than any edition in the last d20 years!  While the the PHB, DMG and MM can’t possibly cover 5-10 years of rules and material from previous editions, we’re still incredibly fortunate how much the 5e core rulebooks do cover.

I know our playgroup recently had a passionate discussion about the pros and cons of rules expansion – has yours?

While new and more choices might be nice for the existing minor content gaps (for example, more feats, though they’re optional anyway; and more classic monsters – my beloved girallon, where are you?!), the big consideration that keeps me on the conservative end of rules expansion is game complexity – something that impacts DMs directly.  Which means it impacts everyone and every D&D session!

As you may have seen in my Faster Combat course and ebook, I’m all about smooth gameplay for players and DMs, and I’m especially for not overburdening the DM.  Why add more game balance elements to manage, rule on and worry about?  The DM has enough to do!

And this is the crux of this brief article from the D&D’s Unearthed Arcana survey series.  Ever wonder why, what to consider, and what the real pros and cons are to rule expansion?  If you haven’t started thinking about these questions yet before pounding the table one way or the other, you will after learning more about it here.

P.S. Miss Faster Combat?  An exciting Faster Combat announcement is coming soon!

FC logo 2 sm




D&D Video Gems: Critical Role

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

You may have asked, “Who’s that DM?  He’s awesome!” in last month’s D&D video gem.  I know I did!

He’s voice actor Matthew Mercer from Geek and Sundry’s Critical Role, and he and his (all-voice actor) playgroup remind me a lot of my own immersive roleplaying and storytelling DM style – and all the tremendous laughs we have at our own game table!

Loved episode 1 of Critical Role so much I have to share it:

P.S. I wasn’t sure I’d watch the whole session… but it was so awesome, including all the excited, inspired live viewer comments, that I couldn’t stop – it was an absolute blast!  Make the time, you’ll love it too!


D&D Video Gems: D&Diesel!

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Favicon-jpgPlenty of D&D fans know Vin Diesel plays D&D – has for a long time!  – and he even wrote the foreward for D&D’s 30th anniversary coffee table book.

Vin specializes in kicking all kinds of butt, from big screen to tabletop!

But have you seen him play?  Here you go!


Extended Cut:

P.S. I gotta say, love this playgroup’s style – and their DM is awesome!!

Special thanks to Geek & Sundry and Funny or Die

Here’s to the Best Year of Gaming: This & Next!

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Favicon-jpgLeonine Roar - Logo SSD&D 5th Edition continues to play so beautifully at the young age of around one-and-a-half, and I know I speak for many long-time, new and veteran players and DMs out there when I say I couldn’t be prouder and happier to share this tremendous game and hobby with you.

THANK YOU for making our hobby and this awesome game we love feel and play – once more – like the best roleplaying game of all time that it is!

THANK YOU so much for being a fan of Leonine Roar and my work with Johnn Four and for yet another glorious, gratitude-filled year.

Finally, here’s to my gaming group and all gamers around the world – once more! – and yet another tremendous year of D&D, Dragon Age and so many more great and epic tabletop RPG stories and adventures!

See you in 2016!


D&D Rage of Demons: Launch Trailer

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Favicon-jpgThe top rated comment sums up my thoughts perfectly: “I’m glad to finally live in a world where DnD adventures get movie-style trailers.”


So cool seeing one of D&D’s most iconic heroes featured in the video!  As a League of Legends fan, Riot games always impressed with the ever-increasing quality of theatrical trailers as the world and story evolved. Dragon Age might be king of fantasy genre trailers and movie-style cut scenes.

Sure, D&D has done movie clips before, but this one blows away any they’ve ever released.  Great to see D&D stepping up their movie trailer quality!

Can you spot all the classic D&D heroes and monsters?


To the War Table!

Thursday, 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!

Sword Coast Legends: The Next Generation

Thursday, 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!!



DMG Wishes: 5 Things to Look For

Saturday, 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.


D&D 5e Countdown: D&D Starter Set Previews

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Favicon-jpgdnd_products_dndacc_starterset_pic3_enWe’re only two short weeks away from the D&D Starter Set release on July 15th!

And you know what that means: the core books will soon be ours, starting with the 5th edition D&D Player’s Handbook on August 19th!

Until then, in case you’ve missed out on some of the playtest packets or haven’t seen the Starter Set Previews yet, click and enjoy:

What else comes with the Starter Set?  Read about the adventure, characters, dice and more here.

And now back to my wickedly fun Murder in Baldur’s Gate D&D Next campaign!  See you and our new D&D game in July!

P.S. Not sure which D&D 5e products you should start with or grab?  This might help.


D&D Next: The Final Packet Frontier – To the Realms!

Friday, January 31st, 2014

MiBGFavicon-jpgI’m excited: I’m finally digging into the last rules packet plus my two D&D Next super adventures are on their way!

Murder in Baldur’s Gate and Legacy of the Crystal Shard are now officially on the table as we wrap up our tremendous Dragon Age campaign.  I might use these Forgotten Realms adventures mostly as is, or for inspiration for a new D&D Next mini-campaign.  My last “Seascape” D&D Next mini-campaign was well received – though admittedly the stories, adventures and personalities moreso than the chaos of the playtest packets – so I’m looking forward to putting the DM hat back on in February.

If you haven’t seen them yet, you get D&D Next DM Screens (awesome!) with these Realms adventures, plus they’re sourcebooks too – great value!  And sure, the playtest packets – even the final one – are “unfinished” D&D 2014, but they’re as close as we can get till the real thing hits shelves in mid or late 2014 – and that day I can’t wait for!

The playtest experience was new to everyone, so my playgroup’s reaction was mixed.  I can see where it’s frustrating changing back and forth on rules, and wondering why certain rules are so vague or plain missing.  But then again, like the packets say – it’s playtesting!  You have to expect some of that.  And ultimately, I personally enjoyed being part of the experience and sending them survey feedback. (more…)