First Quest was an all-exclusive campaign for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Released in 1985, the campaign map and other documentation came packaged as the insert to an epic ambient synth soundtrack meant to score the mission through the hobgoblin kingdom (interspersed with bits of narration, of course).
Blogonomicon has more info if you're interested in actually playing along with the campaign. There was apparently a second version on CD that you can find through various sellers on Amazon, too. Read the rest
Wizards of the Coast have already launched their "Stay at Home, Play at Home" free gaming resource for the Dungeons & Dragons system. But while you're getting your campaign in order — and if you already have access to a 3D-printer — you can take your remote gaming to the next level with these free printable models created by artist Miguel Zavala.
Miguel Zavala’s art project consists of more than 1,900 digital files, and he has nearly 3,000 paying subscribers supporting his work on Patreon. Polygon talked with Zavala about his work, and how (for the most part) he’s been able to avoid the ire of D&D’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast.
Zavala says he studied 3D modeling in college, but after a stint in the advertising industry he left it all behind. That’s until five years ago, when his wife inspired him to make a hobby of creating digital models for his own 3D printer. After getting a good response on Reddit, he started taking commissions for custom figures. Eventually that income became enough to pay the rent, he quit his day job to work at 3D modeling full time.
“I’ve made almost 2,000 models so far” Zavala said, “covering all of the D&D books all the way up to [Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes]. It’s just been a hell of a ride.”
Again, the models are free, but you can also join Zavala's Patreon and support him in his work, which is a good and right thing to do. Read the rest
I love the work that the Italian DIY ambient punk and dungeon drone label, Heimat Der Katastrophe, is doing. They release cassette tapes and digital albums via Bandcamp that are sonic-based old-school D&D adventures. Every cassette comes with a folded tray card with maps, dungeon and character descriptions, and background on the adventure depicted in the music and on the card. You can just listen and enjoy the music, or follow along with the action outlined in the adventure, or play an actual D&D adventure using the music and material provided.
HDK's latest offering is artist Kobold's "The village in the frozen mountains." The music is described as "short dungeon-pop compositions in a 16-bit style with magic melodies that will transport you straight to when you were young and carefree."
The limited edition cassettes sell out immediately. Today's release is already gone. But you can listen to the music free on Bandcamp or buy the digital album which comes with all of the adventure materials.
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Ben of Questing Beast has begun reading all of Gary Gygax's 1979 roleplaying game masterwork, the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, on YouTube, After the first two videos, at around four hours in, it look like he's up to page 33. He estimates it'll take some 40 hours to read the entire book.
Of all of the D&D books, spanning four decades, the DM Guide had the most profound impact on me and will always hold a special place in my nerdy little heart. I'm sure many other RPGers of my generation (and beyond) feel the same way.
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My favorite thing about joke D&D alignment charts is that I am always, always Chaotic Good. I just can't avoid my nature, and everybody knows it.
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some friendly dos/donts
Lawful Good: washing your hands, social distancing, and forwarding your mom's pandemic advice emails to your friends
Neutral Good: taking loong moody walks by yourself at weird hours of the day
Chaotic Good: having a facetime tinder hookup and venmoing your service industry friends what you would have spent at the bar
Lawful Neutral: writing a series of poems/personal essays on what "distance" means to you
True Neutral: putting aside your manuscript to watch all 543 episodes of chopped
Chaotic Neutral: adopting a lizard
Lawful Evil: hoarding hand sanitizer and toilet paper
Neutral Evil: exacerbating panic and yelling at people on the internet
Chaotic Evil: having the privilege and resources to be able to self-isolate and choosing not to because this is America and you feel fine
via Aiden Arata on Instagram
Top image via Wikimedia Commons / CC 4.0 Read the rest
From the Dungeon Masters Guild:
Eat the Rich is a collection of explicitly anticapitalist adventures for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Each original adventure dives into classic D&D tropes, and puts a new spin on them. Tackling issues of workers’ rights, health care, the prison industrial complex, the environment, animal rights, agriculture and more, these adventures will make you passionate to join the revolution.
Eat the Rich features 17 original adventures for tiers 1-4, in a 213 page colour PDF. Set in the Forgotten Realms, Ravnica, Eberron, or ready to be dropped into your own setting, the anthology features work by a global team of new and established designers and artists.
If you want to free the Goblins from the bonds of racial oppression and forge your dwarves together in an iron working union to face down the tyrannical production expectations of the rock giants, now's your chance.
Eat the Rich, Volume 1 [Dungeon Masters Guild]
Image: Huntleigh / Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0) Read the rest
Ever since reading Gary Fine's Shared Fantasy: Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds, in 1983, I have been keen on the idea of using RPGs as a learning tool, for sandboxing social interactions for the socially challenged, and as a potential therapeutic tool. This idea seems to really be gaining traction during the current D&D/RPG explosion that we are in the midst of.
In this article on Kotaku, Cecilia D'Anastasio looks at several therapy groups employing D&D:
Adam Davis, co-founder of the Dungeons & Dragons therapy group Wheelhouse Workshop, thinks kids with social issues aren’t being asked the right questions. In a dreary school counselor’s office, it can be hard to engage with “Why aren’t you doing your homework?” and “Have you tried joining clubs?” For Davis, more fruitful lines of inquiry start with “Who has the axe? Is it two-handed? What specialty of wizard to you want to be?”
Davis, who runs Wheelhouse Workshop out of an office in a large, brick arts building in Seattle, is used to seeing sides of kids that don’t usually come out in school. He, along with co-founder Adam Johns, designs D&D games that are less like hack-and-slash dungeon-crawls and more like therapy with dragons. In D&D’s Forgotten Realms world, the kids’ psyches run amok.
Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast. Read the rest
Karen Wang launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday for custom gaming dice with a modest funding goal of $20,000. Twenty-four hours later she's raised $1.66 million and the number continues to go up. I am especially enamored of the enamel pins she made:
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John Darnielle, the singer/guitarist of the acclaimed indie band the Mountain Goats, has never hidden his nerdy inclinations. Even his 2014 novel debut, Wolf in White Van, was a mesmerizing downward-spiral descent into the maddening mind of a disfigured man who runs mail-order tabletop RPG games from his bedroom. As a musician, his band had previously released "concept albums" (of a sort) loosely themed around such things Biblical verses, Goth bands, and professional wrestling—so it was only a matter of time before the Mountain Goats put out a self-proclaimed "dragon noir" record, in the form of 2019's "In League With Dragons."
(Or, as the ever-delightful Hard Times put it, "Mountain Goats Make Second Album In a Row About People Who Don’t Get Enough Sun.")
To celebrate the new album (which is excellent, by the way), Darnielle sat down with Vice to play a Dungeons & Dragons campaign loosely inspired by his own album, including a a red dragon and a wizard king who craves clemency. (The album also features songs about Ozzy Osbourne and cadaver-sniffing dogs, but alas, these are absent from the game). Along the way, Darnielle shares his thoughts on storytelling and D&D in general, and the catharsis we can find through communal fantasy gaming.
During the video, Darnielle is also gifted a custom figurine which is so eerily accurate that I'm pretty sure it's actually a voodoo doll. I fully plan to steal this artifact to force him to cover more Fall Out Boy songs for me. Read the rest
Heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons have an interconnected history that goes beyond just being targeted during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Over at Kerrang, John Reppion draws the links from Black Sabbath until today. From Kerrang
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The November 1987 edition of UK RPG magazine White Dwarf was advertised as a ‘Thrash Rock Special’. “Your eyes and minds have been devastated by White Dwarf for the past ten years, now it’s time for your ears to get it!” an ad in the back of the previous issue warned. The magazine came with a free flexidisc whose single track, Blood For The Blood God, was specially written and recorded by British thrashers Sabbat for WD. Printed on the disc are the words “Based on Games Workshop’s Warhammer fantasy roleplay game”, making Blood For The Blood God the first ever official RPG tie-in metal record.
Two years later, death-grind band Bolt Thrower released their second album, Realm Of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness, on Earache Records. The album’s cover art came courtesy of Nottingham-based RPG maker and retailer Games Workshop. Many of the song titles and lyrics related directly to the store’s own sci-fi fantasy RPG, Warhammer 40,000 – of which members of Bolt Thrower were dedicated players. Copies of the album were even sold in Games Workshop, alongside the usual miniatures and rulebooks....
Perhaps the most overtly RPG-inspired band of the moment are Gygax. Named in honour of D&D’s creator, the Californian four-piece play Thin Lizzy-esque hard rock with themes lifted directly from the players’ handbook.
Ingo Dwelling designed a Braille D20 die and uploaded the model to Thingiverse. Here's a time-lapse of it being 3D printed by the folks at Adafruit. Read the rest
Here are some recent game releases of note and some of what I've been up to in hobby gaming over the past month or so.
Warlord Games, $63, 2-4 players, Ages: 12+
In this skirmish game from Warlord, you play the mutant search and destroy agents, the Strontium Dogs, from the pages of the venerable UK comic magazine, 2000 AD. Designed by the masterful Andy Chambers (Warhammer 40K, Battlefleet Gothic, Blood Red Skies), the game pits the Dogs and their mutant, pirate, and renegade bounty against each other as the two forces duke it out across the galaxy. The very well put-together two-player starter set includes a 122-page rule book, a scenario book, 8 metal miniatures, dice, cards, and other components. The set even includes some cool laser-cut MDF terrain. I love when games include terrain, but you don't often see it and rarely in a game that's not well over $100. Here's a video of Andy Chambers himself describing Strontium Dog.
Mantic Games, Prices Vary
After a very successful Kickstarter campaign (which I backed), Mantic has now released a broad range of affordable fantasy and sci-fi terrain pieces under the Terrain Crate name. Each crate is themed (Dungeon, Battle Field, Dark Lord's Tower, Starship Scenery, Industrial Zone) and includes a generous amount of highly-detailed plastic scenery. The pieces are designed to be used as-is and they also paint up like a charm. I love playing RPGs and tabletop games with lots of evocative scenery and terrain, so I have always wanted a terrain collection this extensive, this affordable, and this well done. Read the rest
Today marks the publication of the $100 Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana box-set, which contains a 400-page retrospective of the classic art of D&D, a reprint of the notoriously hard Tomb of Horrors module (designed by Gary Gygax to challenge the most overpowered characters), and frameable lithos.
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In the early 1990s Dragon magazine published AD&D stats for various cartoon characters. Bugs Bunny is a 15th-level illusionist with a chaotic good alignment. Popeye is Lawful Neutral and he is either a 9th-level fighter or an 18-level fighter. Rocky and Bullwinkle are an inseparable pair of fighters, with Rocky providing the brains and Bullwinkle providing the brawn. Read the rest
Did you know that there's such a thing as "dungeon crafting?" I didn't, until recently. There are a growing number of YouTube channels dedicated to teaching viewers how to craft all manner of terrain and building components to be used in Dungeons and Dragons and other roleplaying and tabletop games.
My friend, Make: and Geek Dad contributor Jim Kelly, has recently launched a new dungeon crafting channel called Game Terrain Engineering. So far, he has posted videos for such projects as making towers, tombs, crypts, columns and doors, and my favorite, how to make monuments to your fallen D&D characters!
In the latest episode (above), Jim gets to work on creating a set of red herring playing pieces for his (and my) current favorite game, Frostgrave (read my WINK review of Frostgrave here). Osprey Games, makers of Frostgrave, have just released an awesome new expansion for the game, a deck of 40 cards called Ulterior Motives. These cards contain special game objectives that players draw before beginning play. I love this game mechanic of adding individual player objectives to an existing game via a deck of cards. Frostgrave is not an RPG, it's a narrative fantasy skirmish wargame. Adding these individual motives helps to bring more play-depth and narrative flavor to the game.
Some of the objectives in the Ulterior Motives pack are revealed right when the card is drawn. Others remain secret until you make your move as indicated on the card. To get other players off the stink of what you're up to, there are a series of red herring terrain pieces that are called for (a statue, a zombie, a pit, a portal, a sarcophagus, a trap door, an arcane disk, and a runic stone). Read the rest
Neural networks, it is said, cannot explain their decisions. Which is probably a good thing, at least when it comes to the machine mind's ideas for new Dungeons & Dragons spells, as guided by
Janelle Shane. [via Patrick Ziselberger]
It’s a really small dataset, actually - so small that in almost no time at all, it learned to reproduce the original input data verbatim, in order. But by setting the “temperature” flag to a really high value (i.e. it has a higher chance of NOT going with its best guess for the next character in the phrase), I can at least induce spelling mistakes. Then the neural network has to try to recover from these, with often entertaining results.
Moss Healing Word
Heat on Farm
Finger of Enftebtemang
Fomend’s Beating Sphere
For the best one you'll have to click through. Read the rest
Our dungeon master is back from his honeymoon so we are starting up out game again. Feeling generous, I bought this 35-pack of d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20 dice to make things easier. It's $(removed) For $(removed), you get a 100-pack.
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