Remember that dilapidated old Winterbole Forest Journal the party wizard picked up back in Thunderspire at the House of Books shop? Well, that particular storytelling technique was meant to be rather short-lived; however, DM Ben’s fondness for this beat-up diary runs rather deep. So much so that he’s decided to extend its clue-giving-life for his Pyramid of Shadows’ campaign. That decision means this subsequent adventure log entry is rather critical for building a bridge to the next module.
Thunderspire Labyrinth’s module finale is filled with all sorts of unique terrain pieces. And your last dance with Paldemar is meant to be a real humdinger. Every DM always want that final battle to be a memorable one so let’s see how Ben set forth to do just that.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled Red Rover terrain programming to joyfully bring you a long-awaited pre-painted miniatures review. Our monthly character sacrifices to the RPG Gods apparently worked because for the first time in 16 painful months, we have new boxes of finely made miniatures to unwrap. Hazah! Join Ben as he shares his take on Pathfinder’s inaugural set.
Let’s ring in the New Year with a brand new terrain-building blog series. Code named, Project Red Rover (Red Rover), Ben will provide step-by-step posts for his next D&D game environment – 4e’s the Pyramid of Shadows. Our first blog post will talk all about the inspiration for this amazing new terrain. Ben can’t build anything unless he’s got the itch. So what were his motivations exactly?
Let’s take the very last blog entry of this wonderful year and share with you all the things Ben’s thankful for in 2011. Hopefully you’ll unwrap a few more D&D items, bookmarks and Twitter followers to add your own RPG Pile.
What a glorious digital age us gamers live in these days! We can play actual D&D games in real-time with friends all over the country, build our D&D characters online (be gone errata supplements) in minutes, and download RPG eBooks in a seconds. But most of all – we have YouTube. An ever-growing video library filled with terrain inspiration and game enhancing ideas.
The official halfway point of our A to Z series just so happens to be Ben’s absolute favorite RPF category bar none…that’s right, the word is miniatures. Ben harkens back to his old childhood army men days as the only logical explanation of why he’s become obsessed with these tiny works of art.
We forge ahead to letter “C” in our wordsmith series. This one was tricky until Ben realized that RPGers are crazy for this devilish game. There’s simply no other way to explain the dedication. So, let’s see which miniatures represent by finding the figs with the craziest faces.
Choices are abundant but Ben will selectively snipe a few off each manufacturer’s shelf.
Let’s start off by applauding the theme – we seemed overdue for a classic dungeon expansion from the talented crew over at the Forge. As you know, reusability is always key when deciding on what terrain to buy (or create) and the Ruins are universal in their setting. That valuable layout flexibility means they can be used by DM’s in countless scenarios. The window sills even let you transform the Ruins from a damaged indoor dungeon room to a battered outdoor building (think 80s reversible jacket).
Ben was once again awe-struck in the set’s detail. Everybody knows personal touches ultimately define one’s RPG landscape. In the case of the Ruins set, we’ve got scattered leaves, finite floor cracks, and tiny rocks strewn throughout the individual pieces. The joyous kicker is the added depth brought out by the layered dirt and stone. You even have pull away stones for those pesky traps or treasure-filled hiding places.
The Ruins also has some slick solo bits including a ladder, thin stone pieces, and stand-alone wall barriers. Ben just drools over these babies as they can be used with any other DF set with ease. You do own at least one set of each Dwarven Forge theme, don’t you? (wink, wink)
Hirst Arts creators should be pleased as well as the set provides the usual pallets of inspiration and makes it easy to integrate into Bruce’s Fieldstone series. Ben tends to favor Dwarven Forge over Hirst when taking his game on the road because of the added durability of the pieces (and their mysteriously light-weight).
There are even smaller, thinner floor pieces that give you lots of 3-D opportunities – a technique Ben and the gang have used in the past with Wizard’s dungeon tiles’ series. Try and get creative here.
At $89, the Ruins set is reasonably priced and you can certainly get by with two sets. Ben nabbed three because he had to snag that bonus, killer Dragon’s nest.
There’s no denying the pride of ownership when building your own terrain but there’s always a right time, perfect place and strong case for buying the best – and that my friends, is Dwarven Forge.
Questions to Ponder: How many Dwarven Forge sets do you own? What is your favorite set? Would you use the Ruins in an indoor or outdoor setting first? What D&D modules might require a Ruins layout?
The first campaign setting of D&D 4E is a blockbuster affair of intriguing mystery and ferocious combat. You won’t believe what lies ahead – well, that is if you survive long enough to see it.
Gen Con attendees got a real treat when Rodney Thompson and Rich Baker (anyone happen to know his Twitter address?) of Wotc R&D sat down with convention go-ers to reveal the ravaged world that is Dark Sun. Listen to this podcast before you crack those books open.
Ben’s RPG Pile played the upcoming World Wide Game Day module, The Lost Cistern of Aravek, which is coming to a game store near you on 8/21. If you plan on attending, it might be best to hold off on our Dark Sun review due to spoilers. If you can’t go, give our own video podcast of the game a try.
Enjoy our first Dark Sun impressions:
- Game Changer: There are enough differences in the regular 4E to make you stop and think. Ben was worried about creating confusion as he’s just starting to understand regular 4E but it’s a minor risk worth taking.
- Monsters Rule: The baddies from the Creature Catalog are vicious. Our fourth level party of five fought a level 6 solo skirmisher that could max its damage at 56 in a single round (along with some other nasty effects). Pretty brutal considering our characters averaged about 45 hp.
- Intensity Level: The battle tactics, unique terrain, and monster strength kept Ben on his toes – literally. If you ain’t standing around your table for much of Dark Sun, you’re really not playing (or are dead already).
- New Terrain: Ben can turn his game board into a 3-D dungeon in a snap but a desert? Well, that’s a different story. DMs will need time to ramp up. Of course, Ben welcomes this new challenge.
Best of all, we recorded our Dark Sun initiation as part of our ongoing Friday Night Strike series. You can download all eight parts of our video podcast on iTunes. Consider it a helpful test drive.
Bottom line – Dark Sun is a sensational new 4E setting. You will absolutely love it. Well, what are you waiting for? Get down to your local game store, buy the books and try it firsthand. By the way, do you have any water to spare?
Questions to Ponder: Will you play Dark Sun? Why or why not? Would you run a Dark Sun campaign and a regular D&D 4E campaign simultaneously? What campaign setting do you want to see next?