D&D Encounters Information Session

Next Wednesday is the start of the Spring 2010 season of D&D Encounters at Imagine Games here in Winnipeg. This is a 12-week program, running every Wednesday night at 7:00, featuring one encounter an evening, building a mini-campaign that will wrap up in June. You don’t have to come to every session, but there are rewards to be had based on renown points earned during play. There are pregenerated characters to be had, but you can also create your own 1st-level Forgotten Realms character and bring it to play.

This coming Saturday, March 13, I’m going to be at Imagine Games from noon until about 4:00, answering questions and helping people create characters if they wish. I’ll even have my computer with the Character Builder there, so we can run any characters created through the Character Builder for an extra bonus of renown points. Extra points are also awarded if you create a character using a race, class, or feat from Player’s Handbook 3, which releases next week.

So, if you’re in Winnipeg, and you’re interested in D&D Encounters, come on down to the store on Saturday afternoon, and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have. I’ll even help you get set up with a character.

Also, remember that there are limited slots available on Wednesday nights – and I have already had two people reserve seats at the table. If you want to make sure you don’t miss out, drop me a line here, or leave your name at the store. The adventure is designed for 5 players, but I can probably scale it up as high as 7 if required.

See you there.

D&D Encounters: Undermountain

A quick D&D departure.

So, I’ve managed to talk myself into running this first season of D&D Encounters at Imagine Games. This is a 12-week mini-campaign, where you play one encounter every Wednesday night starting March 17 at 7:00. It’s set up so that you can come and play as much or as little of the campaign as you’d like, either with a pregenerated character that we provide, or with an original 1st-level character that you build and bring with you. There are apparently going to be good incentives for players and a fun extended adventure that will advance characters up to somewhere between 2nd and 3rd level.

We don’t have any character creation details (or really, any other details that you don’t see on the official site), but when we do, I’ll be setting up a couple of info and character creation sessions for interested parties.

Now, the kit we’re getting is good for up to two tables of six players and one DM each. I’m the only DM we’ve got right now, so that means there are going to be limited spots. Six is about the maximum I can handle and keep things moving well through a session. If you want to make sure you get a spot, I recommend you either leave your name at the store or contact me through the info posted there to reserve a space.

And if you’re interested in trying to DM a session of 4E D&D, let me know. I’ve got no problem with helping get a new DM started, or sharing with an experienced DM.

As always, let me know if you have questions, and I hope a few of you are interested in joining me for the games.

We now return to the Dresden Files Q&A Deluge.

Player’s Handbook 3 Game Day March 20, 2010

On Saturday, March 20, I will be back behind the DM’s screen at Imagine Games, running the Game Day adventure celebrating the release of the Player’s Handbook 3. Here’s the blurb from the site:

Player’s Handbook 3 Game Day
March 2010
Celebrate the release of Player’s Handbook 3 with a day of adventure! Psionic characters, skill powers, and hybrid classes abound in this essential rulebook. Test out the new classes and rules as you play a unique adventure and grab a copy of Player’s Handbook 3 while you’re there.

Now, that’s not a lot of information, so here’s the intro blurb from the adventure:

Beneath the Lonely Tower

An adventure for five 6th-level characters

The Far Realm’s distance from other planes, reinforced by wards erected at the beginning of time, protects those other worlds from the outer madness. Over the course of history — particularly in the wake of the Dawn War—the wards’ power has weakened, permitting the madness to leak into other planes, including the mortal world.

Recently, a rift to the Far Realm opened beneath an abandoned fortress called the Lonely Tower, twenty miles from the frontier village of Beorunna’s Well. Ten days ago, a troop of foulspawn emerged from the rift and began luring mortals for sacrifice. As each victim dies in the dungeon beneath the tower, the foulspawn ritually gather the escaping life force to expand the rift and to prepare for the arrival of a greater evil.

The braver folk of Beorunna’s Well—barbarians, rangers, and other warlike folk—have mounted two investigative assaults on the Lonely Tower. No one has returned.

This adventure challenges characters to find and close the rift. If they fail, more creatures of madness will pour forth and corrupt the land.

And just to further whet your appetite, here’s a list of the characters available to play:

  • Balashi, Shardmind Psion
  • Caewin, Elf Seeker
  • Foostus, Minotaur Runepriest of Kord
  • Izera, Githzerai Monk
  • Kalen, Half-Elf Ardent
  • Zazenna, Wilden Battlemind

So, if you’re in the city, and you like D&D, or you’d like to try D&D, come on down and play.

It’ll be fun.

Another Casualty of the Crown of Command

Today, my friend Chris ran a demo of the Talisman boardgame at Imagine Games and Hobbies here in Winnipeg.

Now, I realize that what I’m about to confess may cost me a whole pile of grognard geek cred, but I’d never played Talisman before, in any of its incarnations. Don’t really know why; I just never owned it, and neither did any of my friends. And there were always other games to buy. So, I never tried Talisman before today.

I’ve really been missing out.

Yeah, I know everyone else out there who’s reading this has probably played the game to death, and are giggling at my naive wonder. Y’know what? I don’t care. I was blown away.

The game is great fun. And the addition of the Dungeon and Reaper expansions make for even more fun. There was a great variety of things going on in game, and we didn’t get even half-way through the stack of adventure cards that provide the encounters and events. I can see that the game has some real replay value.

Downsides? Yeah, a couple. Mainly they’re artifacts of the era the game was created in: as a product of the 80s, there are some game design decisions that I don’t think you’d see if the game was designed today. Lot’s of “miss a turn” mechanics, for example, and a huge random factor in play. The game is very luck-based; if the dice don’t like you, all the deep strategizing in the world won’t help you. You need to get the right cards at the right times, and make the right rolls when you need them. For example, I spent six or seven turns just trying to get to the Warlock’s Cave to get a quest in order to get a Talisman to get to the end of the game.

I didn’t get one, and someone beat me to the Crown of Command, then killed the rest of us off, as you’re supposed to do to win the game.

So, some degree of frustration, but not enough to actually sour the play of the game.

Set-up took under 10 minutes, including the time for us to sort out some of the cards. Chris taught us the rules in another ten. So, with someone who knows the game, under 20 minutes from opening the box to the first turn. This is very nice, and a bit of a change for me: most of my games require much more elaborate set-up.

The individual turns also went very quickly, averaging maybe two to three minutes per turn. Nice, quick pace without feeling rushed. Again, a nice change from the number of games I have that have each person’s turn taking five to ten minutes. And it takes some of the sting out the “miss a turn” stuff.

All in all, we played for about four hours, and finished with a nice win by Tania, who now apparently rules the world with her Crown of Command.

The game is, as one would expect from Fantasy Flight Games, absolutely gorgeous, with nice, high-quality and durable components. It’s a little pricey, but considering what you get in the box, it’s worth it. It’s going on my Christmas list.

So, a fun afternoon. Thanks to Chris for running the game, and to Clint and Tania for coming to play with us.

Talisman Demo December 6

My friend Chris is running a boardgame demo at Imagine Games on Sunday, December 6, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm.

He’s going to be showing off Talisman 4th Edition, complete with the Dungeon and Reaper expansions.

Strange as it may seem coming from an old geek like me, I’ve never played the game. I plant to be down there, rolling the dice (and probably getting ganged up on), so come on down and play with us.

It’ll be fun.

Worldwide D&D Game Day – Dungeon Master’s Guide 2

From the WotC site:

Show Them Real Adventure!

Bring your friends and join in the fun as we celebrate the release of Dungeon Master’s Guide 2, packed with new options for your Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition game.

In the spirit of Dungeon Mastering, we’re giving you the opportunity to create and show off your very own adventure! Work as a team to build encounters using the materials provided. After your team has finished, play another team’s adventure or DM the one your team created. We provide you with everything you need — maps, miniatures, monster stats, and how-to instructions. Just bring your imagination, a pencil or pen, and some dice!

Just for playing, you’ll take home the pregenerated character sheet and a miniature of the character you played. If you DM the game, you’ll take home a poster map of the encounter areas and a pack of monster miniatures used in the adventure.

This is a very special activity that has never before been a part of Worldwide D&D Game Day! But don’t worry if you just want to play; you can participate in as much or as little of the adventure-building activity as you want. Nothing, however, beats the satisfaction of hearing another team howl in terror as they fight the foes and traps you placed for them!

A Passage Into Mystery is a special team-created 6th-level adventure that uses tiles from DU3 Caves of Carnage and monsters from the Monster Manual: Legendary Evils miniatures expansion. Come out on September 19 and be a part of the adventure!

On September 19, I will be running this event at Imagine Games and Hobbies here in Winnipeg. Because of the way this event seems to be set up, I’m looking to start at 1:00 with the adventure building part, and hopefully get to the playing part by 3:00.

So, come 0n down and play. It’ll be fun.

World Wide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day – Monster Manual 2 – Postmortem

Last Saturday, I ran the World Wide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day adventure Into the Silver Caves at Imagine Games here in Winnipeg as part of the launch for the Monster Manual 2. We had a really nice turnout – I had two full tables of five players each to run. Unfortunately, because of some delays, neither group made it all the way through the adventure.

That said, each group made it through the first two encounters, which means they got to fight the rust monsters* and deal with the escaping kobold wyrmpriest**. We didn’t get to do the extended skill challenge that made up the third encounter, and I’ve got mixed feelings about that***. The final battle, while it looked interesting, didn’t really introduce all that much new stuff, so I’m fine with having missed it.

Despite the delays and the unfinished adventures, each group got in about two-and-a-quarter to two-and-a-half hours of play, which is not too shabby. And everyone seemed to have fun. And one player even managed to find a very lucky d20 in the communal pile we were using, which he bought immediately after the game.

So, thanks to everyone who came out to play with me. I hope you had as much fun as I did. And it was nice to meet a couple of folks who read the blog.

Next World Wide Game Day looks to be in September. Get ready.



*Wow, the fear these instill, not in the characters, but in the players! “It’s gonna eat my stuff!”

**The second group managed to bring her down, but it was just one character facing the harpy while the others were tied up with orcs and drakes, so he let the harpy escape with the book. What the hell am I talking about? Well, obviously you haven’t played the adventure.

***After using them extensively in play, I am shying away from the formalized skill challenges, and leaning more toward using a more free-form structure for them. That said, it’s nice to see something like that make it into an official demo adventure.

Monster Manual 2 and World Wide Game Day

First, a quick update about the World Wide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day this Saturday, May 23, at Imagine Games. As mentioned previously, we were too late to get the official support package for the day. However, we were able to get the adventure and maps needed to run the game, and I’ve got just about all the correct official minis, as well. What we don’t have are the official giveaways, so we’ll be making do with some unofficial ones.

If you’re in Winnipeg, and want to come play with some of the new monsters, we start at 12:30 pm at the store. If there’s enough interest, there will be a second session at 3:30 pm. If not, then not.

I look forward to seeing folks there.

And now, about the Monster Manual 2.

It’s a good book. It’s got some very nice additions to the monsters, along with some that I think they could have skipped. Of course, with a monster book like this, that’s always going to be the case, and my idea of a good inclusion is probably someone else’s idea of a waste of space.

A couple of specific thoughts:

  • Rust monsters. I hate ’em. Always have, always will. Yet, according to the official WotC site, they are fan favourites*. This incarnation is a little more lenient on character gear, but still are really just a “screw you” monster. There is a nice little catch to them, though, that might actually go some way towards addressing some of the magic item economy imbalances** – if you let a rust monster eat a magic item and then kill it and cut it open, you can reclaim the full value of that item in residuum. So now I envision places in Sigil and the City of Brass where you can take an unwanted magic item and have them feed it to a rust monster for you, kill the rust monster, and give you back full value, less the cost of the rust monster and a commission.
  • Demons and devils. These are always popular categories, and every monster book seems to have a heaping helping of new flavours. Sure, they’re useful monsters to throw at parties that are in areas that have few options for other creatures***, but that’s something that can be ameliorated by spending fewer pages on demons and devils and more pages on other monsters. I think we could do with less.
  • Angels and archons and elementals. We’ve got a solid base of these, now, which was needed. Let’s not fall into the same trap as with the demons and devils.
  • Metallic dragons. Welcome back, fellas! And my, aren’t you all bad-ass now?
  • Humans and Eladrin. More stat blocks for variations of both. Very welcome.
  • Half-Elves and Devas and Goliaths and Half-Orcs. Nice to have a few stat blocks for them.
  • Elves and Dwarves and Tieflings and Dragonborn and Halflings. Nothing new. I am sad.
  • Gnomes. I don’t like gnomes. Though my players hate them more than I do, so I still use them sometimes.
  • Formorians. Yay! I like these!
  • Firbolgs. Interesting take on them. I like it.
  • Beholders and Mind Flayers. Four new types of beholder, nothing new for the mindflayer. Huh.
  • Barghests. This version is very nice.
  • Gnolls. The new flavours make me happy.
  • Shadar-kai. Now extending up into the mid-Paragon tier.
  • Myconids. Now at least they don’t look like they should be dancing in a Disney movie.

Those are the things that really stand out to me. Anyway, as I said, a good book. Wizards is really keeping the production values high, and turning out some solid material for 4E.

I am pleased.


*What is wrong with people?
**Reclaiming residuum from a magic item through the disenchant ritual nets you 20% of the market value of the item in residuum. Enchanting a magic item costs 100% of the market value in residuum (or other components). Thus, it takes recycling five of an item to get enough materials to create an identical item. Also, selling magic items nets you 20% of the market value. So the question becomes, who makes such items, and how can they afford to sell them?
***”All the desert monsters suck. I’m just gonna throw a couple vrocks at the party.”

Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day – Player’s Handbook 2

Just got word from Pedro and Wendy over at Imagine Games that we’re a go for March 21st for the next Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day – Player’s Handbook 2. I’ll be there running sessions in the demo at 12:30, 3:00, and 5:30, as long as people show up to play. For the curious, here’s the text from the Wizards of the Coast promo:

Ready an Action to Play on March 21st!

Prepare yourself (and your friends) to join D&D fans all around the world on March 21st for Worldwide D&D Game Day: Player’s Handbook 2. Everything you need to play will be on-hand, so it’s a great chance for new players, as well as veterans, to band together and find some adventure.

Come try out the new races (such as the gnome) and the new classes (like the invoker and barbarian) while you battle wicked fiends and thwart dark plots. No matter if you’re new to the game or a 4th Edition veteran; we’ll have everything you need to embark on an all-new adventure.

One Dark Night in Weeping Briar – A stormy night, an empty town, and a small girl that holds the key to thestrange disappearances. An adventure for 5 pregenerated 11th-level characters. The characters are:

  • Ilvarra, drow avenger
  • Markaria, tiefling invoker
  • Roswyn, gnome bard
  • Squeaks, warforged barbarian
  • Balasar, dragonborn paladin (uses material from the upcoming Divine Power product)


So, if you’re in Winnipeg and interested in trying out the new material from the PHB2, or you’re curious about 4th Edition or roleplaying games in general, come on down and play.

It’ll be fun.