Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

Shadow of the Necromancer

I admit it. I’m a big fan of Dark Wizard Games. Mark puts out some really cool stuff. I have everything else they’ve done in PDF or hard copy. So when the Kickstarter for Shadow of the Necromancer came around, I had to back it.

Shadow of the Necromancer is a mini-adventure for 1st to 3rd level characters. And is available for both 5E and old-school game. Of course, I grabbed up the old-school version.

The dungeon/adventure is pretty straight forward. Creepy ruined wizard’s tower. Necromancers. Undead. There’s cool puzzles and traps as well as some good variations for low-level undead. It’s a fun dungeon romp like so of Dark Wizard’s modules. As you know, I don’t like going into too much detail on modules. I don’t want to do any spoilers. But as I said, Shadow of the Necromancer is a solid dungeon/adventure.

But I do have a little problem with it. Being a mini-adventure, it should just get to the point. That’s my opinion any way. The background for Shadow of the Necromancer takes up almost a quarter of the page count. This could have been massively edited down. And boxed text. Yeah, way too much. Just about every room has boxed text. I think much of this could have reduced and it would left more room for more useful gaming content.

So is it a good adventure? Yes. Could it have been better. Yes. When I pick up a mini-adventure, I want it to be efficient. As a DM, just give me the bare details that I need to know and I’ll make up the rest to fit into a current campaign or even wing it for a one shot.

You can pick up the old-school version or the 5E version on DrivethruRPG or on Darkwizard Games’ web site.

White Box Wednesday: A Dog With A Bone

It’s been a crazy busy week and I wasn’t sure what exactly to post on White Box. I’ve got a bunch of ideas bouncing around inside my head and not sure which way to jump.

Photo by Lucy Meadows on Pexels.com

In a lot of ways, I feel like a dog who found their favorite bone hidden behind the couch. I haven’t really done anything with White Box games in quite a while. But now there’s this resurgence and the ideas keep popping up.

I’ve got a couple of ideas for genre/settings projects as well as generic fantasy rules hacks. So my question to you dear readers. What do you want to see?

Random 5E D&D Predictions

I admit that I really liked 5E when it first came out but slowly I’ve grown less interested in it for a variety of reasons. So some may say that I don’t have a dog in this fight. Yeah, sure. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have an opinion. And why the heck not? All the cool kids are doing it.

Photo by Emily MacDonald on Pexels.com

I do want to pat myself on the back about being correct on 5E ending up with an “App Store”. Say hello DM’s Guild. But with recent acquisition of D&D Beyond, I think there’s a lot more crazy ahead.

I’m pretty sure most folks agree that WOTC will have a VTT as part of D&D Beyond. There’s conjecture that they may attempt to buy Roll20. I dunno. I bet that price tag would be pretty high. Astral would be cheap since development has been abandon on it. Or they could make their own. So on this one, I got no idea. But they will add a VTT.

So what’s that mean? Here’s where things start get “interesting”. With a VTT, D&D Beyond becomes a one stop shop and WOTC will push it hard on fans. Here’s where I think things start to get crazy. Sure lots of folks have free accounts but if you want those extras, you’ll need a paid account. They will want fans to flock to it. I’m betting that there will exclusive D&D Beyond content. I’m also guessing that the license that DrivethruRPG has for DM’s Guild is going to come up for renegotiation pretty soon. I’m guessing that what is now DM’s Guild will get rolled into D&D Beyond. Pretty soon, it will feel more like an MMO with DLC rather than a table top RPG.

D&D Beyond also hosts forums. So we stack with fan created content that may not be to liking of all. I’ll bet there will some out there who are going to get really butt hurt. In the end, some one will get a time out or an outright ban from those forums. I betting that it will follow the same pattern as many video game publishers where the form is linked to your account. Get banned or a time out, loose access to all that digital content that you paid for.

WOTC has already started to distance itself from the rest of the RPG industry. They don’t even attend Gencon. So with that and the above in mind, I predict that D&D Beyond will end up being the equivalent of a gated and curated community with all us unwashed barbarians at the gate. Plus even less support for your FLGS.

There’s another thing I want to bring up in this post. D&D made big bucks last year. I attribute much of this to the COVID lock downs. What else are people going to do with their friends? Plus, look around. The economy sucks right now. People have a lot less disposable income. One of the first things that people cut out of their budgets is entertainment. So maybe not so many folks will be buying that cool set of virtual dice?

Just thoughts, folks. Don’t get to hung up in everything. Sit back and roll some dice.

DEATHBRINGER!

If you’ve followed me for a while then you know that I’m a big fan of the Dungeon Craft Youtube Channel. Not only am I fan, I’m also a Patron so I’ve seen these rules for a while but now that they are in the wild, I figured I give them a quick review.

So what the heck is Deathbringer? Well, it’s a bit a toolkit. It’s an attitude. And it’s an implied setting. Rumor is that the full setting will be coming in the future. And since I’m Patron, I’ve seen multiple versions of Deathbringer as it evolved.

Every mechanic is easily recognizable to anyone who has played any edition of D&D. It’s the same stats but drop the 3 to 18 and just use the modifier. Plus the modifier improves as a character progresses to simulate a character’s proficiency with that Stat. So there’s no skills. Just attribute checks.

There are five classes: Deathbringer (Fighter), Grimscribe (Magic-User), Scoundrel (Thief). There aren’t clerics but we have two other classes that can sort of fill that role: Witch Hunter and Plague Doctor. Hit points follow the same mechanic as 5E Hardcore mode (Con Bonus doesn’t count.) Grimscribes “roll to cast” with possibility of bad things happening. And there are no non-human races.

Spells & Monsters: Here’s where I think it shines. If you’re like me then you have shelves of various editions, retro-clones, supplements, and various other rule books. Just convert whatever spells and monsters you want with handy and quick notes in the PDF. Really, I don’t need another version of Magic Missile nor another stat block for an orc.

And then there’s the Deathbringer Dice. I like this and I’m using a variation in my current home game. At it’s very basics, it’s a pool of dice for characters to use to add to most die rolls. It’s a cool and flexible little tool for the characters to pull their bacon out of the fire.

All of this (plus a little more) is crammed into four pages. I know the price may seem a bit steep but they are a good four pages with good tools to add to your game not matter what happens to be your rules of choice.

Now you could (and should) watch a bunch of videos and you could maybe reverse engineer this or even tweak it further to your tastes. And that’s a good thing. And I’m pretty sure there’s going to be plenty of updates to this PDF.

So go ahead and check it out on DrivethruRPG.

And remember folks. Roll dice. Kill monsters, Take their stuff. And have fun!

White Box Wednesday: Random Minimalist Campaign

I had mentioned this idea many years ago. Heck, I don’t even think it was on this blog but an old one. But here’s my elevator pitch. White Box gaming is really easy on the players. So why shouldn’t also be easy on the DM?

The campaign starts out with a pseudo-Keep on the Borderlands type area. Make the Keep. Make about 4 to 5 Bullet points for it. Make 4 to 5 interesting things in the area then start playing. Add any extra details that you may need based on the player characters but everything just roll it. And I’ve got the tools in my good old DM toolbox.

That’s right Rory’s Story Cubes plus some random dungeon style dice. Sure I could use a bunch of the many random charts that are sitting on my harddrive plus there’s many more out there on the internet. But I figured this could be the easiest and the most fun. And who knows where the dice may lead.

I know there are some DM’s who absolutely hate improv. They want to plan as much as possible in advance. Sure I do planning but I really love the improv and making stuff up on the fly. As a DM sometimes I like to be surprised by what happens too.

Yes, I know I said this about White Box. So let me go into why this is perfect for White Box play. It lies with the simplicity and power level of the characters. It keeps things at a level that’s it’s easy for the DM to keep all the character’s abilities in mind when making things up. Monster stat blocks aren’t complicated and can be digested in a glance. Heck, the whole rule book can almost fit in your pocket.

So yes. I love White Box. But, unfortunately, I haven’t as much opportunity to run it as I would like. But this is one idea that I’ve stuck in my back pocket for future use. Just in case. Besides. I think that it’d be fun as hell.