Redditor Inuyasharuls is a Dungeon Master who runs campaigns for several players with dyslexia. With help from another Redditor and gamer, Axelle123, they created this colorful character sheet alternative, using Comic Sans instead of the standard font found on D&D materials, to make life easier for everyone. Or, well, maybe not everyone, but still for some people. As they explained on Reddit:
They're not for everyone, we definitely customized them to our games. We changed the "experience points" to "other", removed the "personality traits, bonds, flaws, and ideals" entirely, and removed EP from the money tracker, but I think the sheets could help a lot of players, especially with u/luckpack's icons from their sheets, their original sheets found here, which we added in to help differentiate different numbers. Everything has been converted to comic sans font and fully capitalized, and in Page 1 alt 1 the skills have been colour coded to match with the relevant ability modifiers, and added an area for attunement slots. Any comments are welcome, we just really hope it can help other players.
disclaimer - Neither u/Axelle123 nor I are professionals, nor are we experts in dyslexia, this is just what seemed to help our fellow players.
As much as we all like to make fun of Comic Sans, it was actually designed to be readable. While it doesn't work for everyone, Comic Sans has been known to help some people with dyslexia with recognizing and distinguishing between letters and words; color is also known to help, and fortunately, this character sheet offers both options. Read the rest
On Tabletop Witchcraft, John builds an amazing gladiatorial coliseum that is one of the most impressive tabletop builds I've seen in a while. Read the rest
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
Celebrated poet and publisher, Janaka Stucky (Ascend Ascend), has launched a very unique and promising project on Kickstarter. It's called Ekphrastic Beasts.
What the hell does ekphrastic mean? Ekphrastic writing "is the vivid, often dramatic description of visual art."
Janaka has teamed up with four illustrators, Ellie Gill, Jeremy Hush, Joe Keinberger, and Nathan Reidt. Each of them will dredge up creatures from the depths of their subconscious and render what they invoke. Janaka will then take that art and create the names, backstories, and stat blocks for each creature, suitable for play in 5e Dungeons & Dragons. Hence, Ekphrastic Beasts.
I'm in! 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
There has probably never been a better time to cajole your family members and far-flung friends into playing D&D. It's a great escape from the strange world we now find ourselves in and a perfect organized activity that involves planning, social interaction, cooperative story-telling, logic and math, creativity, and the imagination.
To make your shut-in days (weeks and months) a little bit more entertaining and fun, WotC has set up a "Stay at Home, Play at Home" section of their Dungeons & Dragons website. There you can find tons of free online tools to assist you in your games: how to play materials, free basic rules, campaigns, encounters, and even activities and coloring books for younger kids. They also have a resource section for ways to play D&D remotely.
(And yes, that's a dragon wearing an N95 mask on the logo. As I said, strange times.)
Image: Program logo 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
A lot of roleplaying gamers who are used to playing in "theater of the mind" mode (with nothing more than pencil, paper, dice, and vivid imaginations) are often intimidated by the idea of switching over to miniatures and terrain-based gaming. The idea of acquiring and painting the minis, building a gaming board, and making a bunch of terrain and props can be an overwhelming prospect. All of this "dungeon crafting" really is a hobby unto itself for many of us [raises hand].
So, I really like these projects on Dungeon Craft. Basically, you build a stone floor on top of a lazy Susan using insulation foam and some simple walls, doors, and other dungeon furnishings (also out of foam). Your main tool is a gel pen that you use to simply draw/carve the stones into the foam.
You don't need to create a complete dungeons and all of the furnishings to do mini-based RPGs. All you need is this little, moveable theater-in-the-round stage that you can change up with each encounter you're looking to represent to your players.
Image: YouTube Read the rest
The wonderfully talented artist and illustrator, Michelle Rial, posted this D & D character alignment chart to her Twitter feed.
Which alignment are you? Would you use different candy hearts?
Happy Valentine's Day!
Image: Used with Permission Read the rest
James Floyd Kelly runs the excellent Tabletop Engineer channel on YouTube and Bexim's Bazaar, a monthly tabletop gaming magazine (to which I often contribute a game-crafting column).
Like me, Jim was a lover of 80s roleplaying game fanzines. Unlike me, he's decided to use Kickstarter's Zine Quest 2 campaign as an excuse to try his hand at creating one of these homemade, old school zines. His zine, entitled Tavern Tales #1: Lair of the Battle Mage, will be a 32-page mini-adventure delivered in the format of the classic gaming zine (5.5" x 8" size).
To honor the fun and uniqueness and rarity of the handmade, old school fanzines that have survived from the 70s and 80s, no more than 300 physical copies of Tavern Tales #1: Lair of the Battle Mage will be printed and mailed to backers. I'm going old school -- I'll be printing them, folding them, stapling them, and mailing them. I've created the 300 limit because I can only print, assemble and ship so many in the month of October. (Yes, more of Niloshis' tales may make an appearance in future zines, but not this one. Read it, play it, and then tuck it away for someone to discover in a few decades or more.)
If you haven't checked out the Zine Quest 2 campaign, do! There is an embarrassment of retro-gaming riches here.
Image: Kickstarter Screengrab Read the rest
Here is a collection of horrifying games to keep you entertained this Fall.
Call of Cthulhu Starter Set
Chaosium, Inc., $21.40
When I got the latest Call of Cthulhu Starter Set from Chaosium, I got all verklempt. After D&D, Call of Cthulhu was the next RPG I moved on to via the original Call of Cthulhu Starter Set. I loved that product, so I had great rushes of nostalgia unboxing this updated version. Mike Mason and Chaosium have done an excellent job creating a gateway, a hell-portal if you will, into the world of Cthulhu-based RPGing at a super affordable price. For under 22 bones, you get three saddle-stitched books, one that's an intro to the world of Cthulhu and includes a solo adventure to teach you the game, a basic rulebook, and a book with three starter adventures. You also get 5 ready-to-play investigators, blank character sheets, player hand-outs, and 6 RPG dice. It feels a little less substantial than the original (which included a thick, 100-page rulebook), but overall, it offers a satisfying and immersive introduction to Cthulhu gaming on the cheap.
Ravensburger, $35, 1-5 players, Ages 10+
As much as I enjoy the Lovecraft mythos and some of the zombie genre, I have to admit to being both bored and overwhelmed with how dominant these themes have become in the gaming hobby. So, I was thrilled to see Horrified, a cooperative horror strategy game featuring the Universal Studios monsters: Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Frankenstein monster, bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Invisible Man. Read the rest
There are so many things to love about Stephen Colbert. For me, his unapologetic nerdiness is high on that list. His obviously large and tender heart is, too. These two impulses come together in this Critcal Role video, done as a fundraiser for Red Nose Day, dedicated to the fight against childhood poverty in America.
In the 52-minute one-on-one D&D adventure, Matt Mercer does a masterful job of taking Stephen, as the half-elf bard, Capo, and his bee sidekick, Eric, on a harrowing adventure in search of the Crimson Sphere of Generosity.
Besides the fun D&D adventure and the do-gooder intent of the episode, we also get to see Stephen play D&D for the first time in some 30 years. His joy and sense of wonder are palpable. He even has to stop to tell Matt how much he's freaking out as childhood memories of playing with friends overwhelm him. "I can feel the chest hairs growing as we speak," he jokes. At one point, Stephen laughs at one of Matt's colorful descriptions of a gory encounter with an undead beast. "I haven't heard the word ichor in over 30 years."
We also learn more about the origins of Stephen's gaming past. He was a Metamorphosis Alpha player before D&D and he got in on D&D early. He even says that he went to GenCon the year that the first AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide was released. And he admits that he still has his friend's copy (they got switched at the con) which was signed by Gary Gygax. Read the rest
Battletech: A Game of Armored Combat
BattleTech Beginner Box
Catalyst Games, $60 (core set), $20 (Beginner's Box)
Catalyst Games was kind enough to send me a bundle o' new BattleTech goodies. They sent the new BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat (the core game), the BattleTech Beginner Box, the BattleMech Manual, and the Map Pack expansion.
The Beginner Box is positioned as a convenient and cheap way of getting people into the game at a third the price of the new core box. In the Beginner Box, you get 2 Mech miniatures and 8 cardboard standee Mechs. The stater rules are somewhat streamlined with no heat management/Heat Phase, no Internal Structure Diagram (ISD), and no torso movement. All of the movement and attack modifiers are retained from the original game. The rules still have those clunky and crunchy old-school mechanics under the hood, but like OGRE and Car Wars, for those of us with fond memories of this game, however cumbersome, that's maybe now part of its old-school charm.
The hardbound Mech Manual is lovely, well-designed, and laid out for easy reference. The Core Box comes with 8 beautifully sculpted Mech miniatures, a 56-page rule book, a 16-page Universe Primer, Pilot stat cards, a pad of Mech record sheets, two terrain maps, dice, and additional standees and terrain markers. The core system does retain the ISD, heat manangement, and torso movement rules. Both boxed sets also include novellas, which is kind of a nice way of immersing oneself, especially newbies, in the BattleTech universe before play. Read the rest
I really enjoyed these two interviews on the D&D Beyond channel with actors Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood, Daredevil) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Justice League, Magic Mike), both D&D fanatics. In Deborah's interview, she talks about how she got started in the hobby, what kind of characters she likes to play (fighters, surprisingly enough), and her thoughts on the current D&D renaissance.
One interesting observation she makes about RPGs as a unique form of acting/theater: When a party saves a character or survives an ordeal, or otherwise experiences a dramatic moment, there's often an intense, visceral response from the players that she says she doesn't experience in any other type of acting. As an actor, she longs to evoke this kind of response in people, so that's one of the things that draws her to D&D.
In the Joe Manganiello video, we get a tour of his E. Gary Gygax Memorial Dungeon (think: MTV Cribs for nerds) and hear about how he got back into the hobby after a long hiatus and how he went about converting his basement wine cellar into this enviable game space. The large dragon, beholder, and mind flayer sculptures are very cool. Joe also talks about the impact that D&D had on him as a kid and how he learned foundational skills in storytelling, world-building, and acting that he later employed as a professional actor. D&D was his gateway drug.
In mid-December of 2018, Geek & Sundry announced a new D&D-themed show, coming in February, starring Deborah Woll. Read the rest
If you have an avid gamer on your holiday gift list, here are some great game gift recommendations for 2018. You can also find plenty of other candidates in the "What's new in tabletop gaming" pieces I posted this year. Also, check out the Boing Boing Toys and Games gift guide for a few additional suggestions.
Game design doyen Martin Wallace is probably best known for railroad and civilization-building games (Age of Steam, Railways of the World, Brass, London, Struggle of Empires). His latest, Wildlands, is a grand and glorious departure. The game, published by Osprey, is gorgeous, easy-to-learn, fun to play, and very replayable, with lots of play choices and tactical depth (and already emerging expansions). Designed for up to 4 players, Wildlands is a card-driven fantasy skirmish board game with 20 beautifully-detailed, primed, and pre-washed miniatures. Four different factions, with different strengths and abilities, attempt to collect “arcane crystals” scattered over one of a two-sided game board. A hand of action cards, with multiple choices on each card, determine what each faction can do on each turn in their quest to vanquish foes and acquire crystals. The mechanics are elegant, the action, relentless and tense. Like last year’s Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, Wildlands is a great way to introduce timid newbies to the world of fantasy miniature gaming and light dungeon delving.
Axis & Allies & Zombies ($33)
If you like Axis & Allies and want to try throwing a wrench (or in this case, hordes of brain-eating undead) into the typical mechanics of the game, then you'll likely find Axis & Allies & Zombies a fun new twist. Read the rest
On Game Terrain Engineering, Jim Kelly posted this great tutorial on building a wall-mounted display for your lovingly-painted fantasy miniatures collection. The display, while looking quite elaborate and substantial, is little more than a cheap wooden picture frame, some foam board, and lots of time and hot glue. The Archdevil Moloch statue in the middle was 3D printed. That is, of course, optional.
Months ago, well-known dungeon crafter, DM Scotty, posted some similar wall displays on Facebook that used a printed image on their back walls (relevant to the theme of the minis on display) and simpler shelving. Scotty's might be an overall better solution for displaying your minis in a less busy but still thematic way. Jim admits that the lighting/viewability of some of the miniatures on his dungeon-themed display is not the best. He’s considering adding LED lighting.
I am definitely going to build some of these displays. With all of the time I’m putting into painting minis these days, I don’t want to hide my hard work away in cases when it could be enjoyed by others. I think this is a really fun way to do it. I can’t wait to plan out and create thematic frame-displays for my Frostgrave, Gaslands, Blood Bowl, and All Quiet on the Martian Front minis. For displaying years of collected Warhammer 40,000 armies? We’re going to need a bigger boat.
BTW: The latest D&D game book, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, includes the exiled Archdevil Moloch in its bestiary, with great artwork, background, and stat block. Read the rest
I have been a tabletop/roleplaying gamer, off and on, for most of my life. Miniature modeling, painting, and terrain building have always been my favorite aspects of this wide-ranging and very maker-friendly hobby. As I've given in even more completely to my game-related obsessions these past few years (I may be in line for an intervention), painting minis has become my daily go-to activity for relaxation, creative expression, and escapism. I pretty much live for my painting and modeling sessions each night.
I'm really enjoying focusing on painting and trying to get as good at it as possible. I am currently painting up a bunch of Frostgrave wizard warbands, adversaries, and terrain, several teams for Gaslands (and suitably Mad Max-ian terrain), and the recent plastic OGRE miniatures.
After several years of nearly daily painting, I can now look back on my experience with some sense of what I did wrong. I was struck when I saw this video on Miniac because Scott touches on most of the key tips and cautions that I would share at this point.
Besides what he listed, I would add a few of my own.
You really only need one good brush
There is a trap that new or inexperienced painters fall into of thinking that they need a different size brush for each type of painting operation (e.g., a size 1 or 2 for base coating, a 0 for highlighting, a 00 – or ridiculous sizes like 5/0 or 18/0 – for painting eyeballs and super-detailing). Read the rest