OK – he’s not going to lie to you…Ben has been dying to use that Lord of the Rings’ play-on-words headline for some time now. Still, can you ever have enough door variety in your D&D terrain life? With that obvious answer, here’s installment number 2 in this gripping series.
Ben loves to mix up the entry and exit points in his dungeons. Big or small, wide or tall, it simply doesn’t matter. He relishes the game group’s reaction and tactics based on the mere appearance of the barrier in front of them. With that said, here’s our latest batch of door goodness.
We’ve utilized the portcullis from Dwarven Forge (from Wicked Editions Set I) – a must-own). Our homebrewed jail cell doors work great for your typical prison area but could also serve as slick gates.
We crafted an imposing door to serve as our entry way into the second Horned Hold tower inside Thunderspire Labyrinth. A small door served as a special getaway inside the Duerger Trading Post cave.
Ben mustered a broken door for Brugg’s Halfmoon Inn assault. And he even made a partially clawed door in a recent Friday Night Strike Dungeon Delve.
Seem like overkill? Too much? Nah – remember, variety is the spice of life.
Stop Ben if you’ve heard this classic exchange: “Blast 5 goes like this, right? No, no – that’s a burst. Wait, stop and pass me the PHB.” For some illogical-Spock-like reason, we just get those two darn terms mixed up. Hence, our desire to make some handy home-brewed blast and burst templates.
Of course you can look up the descriptions (pg. 272) but that’s such a game momentum killer. Better to have a few handy templates to place over the game board.
There are a few options out there. Ben snagged some 4th Edition Blast Templates from Dragonfire Lasercrafts but using them felt like a twisted math experiment gone awry. Paizo had some GameMastery Spell Templates for 3.5 but unfortunately they just don’t translate into 4E.
Our latest home brew D&D experiment involved some plexiglass (found in the windows section of any Home Depot) and some fancy line-drawin’. The stickers were a classy touch.
This RPG game group doesn’t need the templates as much as we used to just because of sheer practice. In our minds, we’ve classified a “burst” as a grenade-effect and a “blast” as simply coming out from your body. Still, these templates are great for the new player to learn the ropes.
Sure, they could use some helpful identifying labels and a quick spray (to protect against scratches) but all in all, we’re just trying to open our minds up to bigger and better things. And it’s those incredible possibilities that keeps us going.
The real enemy of any game table is the dangerous and stealthy Min/Maxing monster – playing a character strictly by the numbers rather than by its quirky traits.
Mike Shea of Sly Flourish shared a great method during Critical Hits podcast at D&D Experience on how to counteract this age-old RPG problem. The idea is to create and distribute trait cards to help nudge the players into putting some real personality behind their characters. Try Daniel Rivera’s template for a spiffy card layout.
Ben’s game group has a couple of “newbies” who unknowingly make near-perfect tactical decisions rather than truly playing the role. Thus, these cards were an instant hit and immediately elevated everyone’s overall game (even the veterans). Be sure to see how it went on a future podcast.
Here are some of our initial favorite home-brewed traits:
- You worship yourself in an attempt to receive a divine rating.
- You are obsessed with origami and leave pieces on slain victims.
- Your OCD makes you cross any threshold 1d3 times.
- You love percentages and answer every question with a bogus calculation.
Ben has even built in minor annoyances for players who ignore their new-found persona while subtly rewarding others for exceptional game play.
Even if your group is filled with longtime gamers, try passing a few cards out just to shake things up a bit. Maybe a trait pops up after a blow to the head or via a drink from a mysterious elixir.
Min/Maxing is for the birds. Feel free to post some of your favorite character traits here for others to peruse.
As a DM, it’s time for you to take a stand.
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Be honest now…when has a bridge crossing on your game board ever passed over without incident? The answer is of course, never. Ya see no certifiably sane DM can resist an encounter in such a tantalizing environment – the opportunities are endless.
Ben scours the RPG landscape for bridges on a regular basis. He stumbled across a particularly palatable piece from Miniature Building Authority’s original High Adventure Series. The exquisite detail sealed the deal with perfectly painted planks, weathered ropes, and a couple gaping holes.
D&D 4E’s Thunderspire Labyrinth gave Ben a prime opportunity to test his coveted find (as each fortress of the Horned Hold is connected by a bridge over a deep chasm). Athletic checks and jaw-dropping dice roll rescue checks ensued. Be sure to watch the fun unfold on a future video podcast.
Still lots of options are there for the taking. Ben has tried to build his own with some mild success. Hirst Arts opens your creative mind with Mold 282 (bridge planks) and the imposing Fieldstone Bridge Mold #74 (the complete package).
Every GM needs a bridge in his arsenal cause simply skipping across it just ain’t fun. There’s blood to be had.
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What in the bloody hell happened to our once proud world of miniatures?! We go from a bursting abundance to near annihilation in less than four months! Wizards officially gave the bad news back in January that they were cutting back to one little ol’ set (Lord of Madness) for all of 2010.
Reaper Miniatures, long known for its unpainted metal sculps, decided to dip its toes in the pre-painted arena in March 2007 with Legendary Encounters. The depth of its first line (5 figs) is paltry in comparison to the WotC Harbinger debut (80 minis) in November 2003.
The results are encouraging though. Monsters like the spider, great worm and ghost are slam dunks for any D&D game session. However, Reaper’s release schedule is painfully slow – maybe those boats from China just need more horsepower.
Reaper has released additional miniatures since then but sadly, at a near glacial pace. New product managers, poor selection (a unicorn – really?) and the rising cost of raw materials are the biggest culprits. Still, one can only dream if Reaper had gotten right and could have capitalized on Wizards’ downsize decision.
Ben gives props to Reaper for giving it the college try. They brought us the pack concept (Skeletons and Orcs). And they’re only one of two companies (with Rackham being the other) to try and give Wizards a run for their money.
It’s a very high probability that the industry will move to depressing flat cardboard tokens for 2010. Let’s say a prayer to Bahamut that this isn’t the case. Let minis reign!
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