New Game of Thrones Trailer

Posted by Labyrinthian


HBO has a new trailer for AGoT.  Though it may look a lot likes a previous trailer called The Game Begins (It does use a lot of the same footage) it is a lot different.  It's another great trailer and if you aren't amped about this series I question whether you have a pulse.
 


Monday Maps: A Map for You

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,


Here is another free map, the latest in the series, that is 100% free for you to use however you see fit.  There are no labels, so the map is ready to be filled in with all the cool names you've come up with.

I love the colors on this one, it's a color scheme I'm sure to use again.  The forest were done very differently than usual using a dual brush technique which I think worked pretty well.

Enjoy this map and make sure to come on back next week for another one.  I won't spoil too much but I will say that there are hexes involved. 


Dragon Age Legends Beta Key Giveaway

Posted by Mike Provencher II


It's time for The Labyrinth's second ever contest! We've got another Dragon Age Legends Beta Key, and we'll be giving it away on Friday. Only this time, we're doing this a little bit different. Instead of a trivia question, we want you to create something. It can be a drawing, a short story, a poem, an NPC, a magic item for the rules set of your choice, whatever you want so long as it's an original piece. We'll pick a winner after our Thursday night game, so you have until around 1:00 a.m. Friday morning to send your entry to Labyrinth.Contest@gmail.com . The winning entry will be featured on the site on Friday, along with the name of the winner. Good luck, and I can't wait to see what you guys can come up with!

DriveThru RPG has Another Great Cause

Posted by Labyrinthian in


DriveThru RPG is back with another great bundle to help a worthy cause. They are offering a bundle worth $338.91 for a mere $20 to help with the relief effort in New Zealand, where a massive earthquake hit the city of Christchurch this past week.

Here is their official description:

A powerful earthquake struck New Zealand's already-bruised city of Christchurch on Tuesday, collapsing buildings, burying vehicles under debris and sending rescuers scrambling to help trapped people amid reports of multiple deaths. DriveThruRPG and several publishers have teamed up to raise funds to aid those affected by this earthquake. We have a new bundle of great products available now. You can also donate directly with our $5 donation offer here.

You can find more information about the New Zealand Red Cross here.  Please note that due to the emergency and high traffic volume it may be difficult to connect to their site.

 A great deal and a worthy cause.  If you are interested in helping and picking up some great product simultaneously, then head over to DriveThur RPG and check it out.

Dragon Age Legends Beta Key Giveaway Winner

Posted by Mike Provencher II





Congratulations to the winner of our Beta Key Giveaway: Tracy Stevens! Thanks to everyone who entered, and be sure to check back next Monday for our next Beta Key Giveaway.

Friday Videos: Dead Alewives Watchtower Part 1 & 2

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Parts 1 and 2 of the Dead Alewives Watchtower are perhaps the funniest D&D parodies ever made. For a couple of reason the first part, by far the shorter of the two, is much better known.  In my opinion the second one is actually better. 

Regardless, they are both classics that every gamer should enjoy. 





KenzerCo raising Price of Knights of the Dinner Table

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,



After six years Kenzerco has been forced to raise the price of their much loved comic series Knights of the Diner Table.  Based on the small writeup on their website it seems that they are uncomfortable with this price increase, but have been backed into a corner financially and forced to if the magazine is to continue.  Because Kenzerco, like many business thrives on repeat customers, or in their case subscribers, they are offering a chance to lock in the currant price for anyone who picks up or extends a subscription prior to March 1. 

I don't think this is going to cost Kenzerco much business.  Price increases are inevitable.  Yes a dollar an issue is kind of a big jump, but there hasn't been a price increase in six years.  In the end I think the dedicated fans Jolly and the rest have built up over the years are willing to pay more to see their beloved magazine, one that has outlived both Dragon and Dungeon magazines, survive. 

Reminder: Last Day to Enter Dragon Age Legends Beta Key Giveaway!

Posted by Labyrinthian


Just a reminder to all you Dragon Age fans, today is the last day to enter our Dragon Age Legends Beta Key Giveaway.  Revil and I will do the drawing around midnight, or whatever time we wrap up playing Call of Cthulhu.  Don't miss your chance to enter.  Details on how to enter can be found here!

The winner will be announced tomorrow, and if that's not you then don't panic!  We will be giving away one more key next week.

New Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Trailer

Posted by Mike Provencher II


If you haven't heard of the Elder Scrolls series, then you probably aren't into video game RPGs. But for those not in the know, the Elder Scrolls series is the premier RPG franchise for single-player sandbox action, with the first Elder Scrolls, Arena, way back in 1994. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was announced at the Spike Video Game Awards a few months ago, and is set to come out on 11-11-11. There have been a few in-game screenshots released, and all of them look flat-out gorgeous. When I woke up this morning I was treated to a brand new trailer for Skyrim that can only be described as epic:

DM Alignment Chart

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , , ,

Characters have an alignment which we use to give a general idea of how he views the world.  We often jokingly assign alignments to players as well, but rarely the man behind the screen. 

Here is the Dungeon Master Alignment chat.  I'm writing a longer piece to go with it that you'll probably see earlier next week, but for now see if you recognize all the DM's on the chart.  They are all running D&D (or an equivalent) in a movie or TV show and are all used to represent one of the nine alignments.

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

Chaosiums classic Call of Cthulhu is getting another edition.  This latest version, the seventh, won't feature a massive overhaul of the system.  Like its predecessors it will feature only a few select changes ensuring that it is compatible with all previous editions.  Chaosium hopes to have the book ready by Gen Con this summer. 

I'm glad I heard about this before I pulled the trigger on buying the 6th edition rulebook.  With luck I'll be able to pick up my 7th edition rulebook at Gen Con in August. 

Browncoats on the Move: Fans Begin Effort to help Nathan Fillion Buy the Rights to Firefly

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,


Apparently Nathan Fillion recently said, "“If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.”.


Oops!

This was just an off hand comment and I don't think Mr. Fillion meant to spark an attempt at Revolution, but that's what has happened all the same.  You'd think by now everyone would realize not to put dangerous ideas in the heads and hearts of fans.  The Browncoats, like the fictional group they take their name from, just don't know when to quit.

That's right, there is now a movement to get Nathan Fillion the money to buy the rights to Firefly.  It's still in its infancy, and it would certainly be an uphill battle, but I don't think that's like to dissuade the fans. 

A model for an internet show to succeed financially is not only a realistic possibility, most think it is inevitable.  Couple that with a fanatic fanbase like the one Firefly has and you have the recipe for potential Revolution.

The organizers of the movement, who are anonymous and plan to remain that way, are not accepting money yet.  They are getting the word out there and testing the waters.  There is no telling how they will find those waters.


One thing remains clear.. the Browncoat mantra, "You Can't Stop the Signal"  remains as true today as when the fans fought to get Serenity made.

Will the other mantra, "Keep on Flying" prove true?

Who can say what will happen? 

Call of Cthulhu Student ID Template

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

By request here is the Miskatonic University Student ID template I used to create student IDs for the PCs in our Call of Cthulhu game.  All that needs to be added is a picture (Yearbooks are the best places to find them) and the character specific information.  I added that with a typewriter font called "Old Typewriter" that can be downloaded for free at Dafont.

Enjoy!

Mazes & Monsters Chapters 1-3

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

The Blog of Holding has released the first three chapters of the Mazes & Monsters rules.  Mazes & Monsters was a terrible anti-D&D movie from 1982 that I just found out was based on a book.  Now that I know that I have to get the book... I'll also see if I can dig up a copy of another book released around the same time and with much the same premise, Hobgoblin

Should make for some hilarious reading. 

Back to the Blog of Holding game; it is both free and frickin amazing.  If you are a fan of the movie you will laugh yourself silly.  I know I did. 

New D&D Song

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

I've got a lot of love for D&D inspired Music.  I wrote about it a while, linking some of my favorites and later added the song 4th Level Fighter to the list.

Yesterday Revil pointed me to in the direction of a new D&D inspired song by S.J. Tucker.


Lyrics:

It started long years ago
weekends, weeknights, when the lights are low
the word goes round to those in the know:
the D&D game is going down
Time set aside to play it hook or crook
millions of gamers a-heading for their books
Gather round lads, forget the funny looks
everyone's dungeon bound
Come bards from the north, elves off the moor,
Gamers off work get down to the store
Scratch your neighbor, what's underneath?
A wizard or a cleric or a thief!

Generations since Gygax
rolling their initiative and scarfing down a snack
it's fun to fill the form in if you roll some awesome stats
you can always earn a couple more
next week comin' back for more
Come gnomes from the north, orcs off the moor
Freaks and geeks get down to the store
Scratch your neighbor, what's underneath?
A paladin, a fighter, or a thief!

Five and twenty halflings
silent in the field
never held for ransom
never made to yield
half-elven lady
known to be a spy
rollin' her charisma
while the gentlemen go by

Come bards from the north, elves off the moor
Gamers off work get down to the store
Scratch your neighbor what's underneath?
A wizard or a cleric or a thief!

Human, half-orc, play the one you like
bust a couple heads instead of studying for psych
long sword, short sword, scimitar, or bow
Everyone's a gamer, don't you know!
Come bards from the north, elves off the moor
Freaks and geeks get down to the store
Scratch your neighbor, what's underneath?
A wizard or a cleric or a thief!
A paladin, a fighter, or a thief!
A wizard or a cleric or a thief
Playing D&D!


Miskatonic Universary Student IDs

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , ,


I wrote previously about the really cool NPC cards that the Professor is using in our current Call of Cthulhu game set at Miskatonic University.  I've also previously mentioned that we were looking for new players for our table and were having some trouble.

Well the trouble is finally over.  We once again have a full table with six PCs, but our two players (Let's Call them Eberis and Elbereth) are pretty new to table top roleplaying.  Elbris has played a little in the past but nothing recent, and Elbereth has never played at all.  All she knows of gaming is what she saw on the recent (and awesome) AD&D episode of Community

For someone new to roleplaying to come into a a game in the middle of a campaign can be a very intimidating experience even if you know what you are an experienced Gamer, but for someone new it can be totally overwhelming.  You have the rules to learn, the setting to get familiar with, the plot to date to review, the NPCs to get to know, oh and the other PCs as well. 

To help with that last bit I created mock Miskatonic Student IDs for each of our characters.  The IDs (Seen above) have a picture of each character (I took a page out of the Professor's book and used old yearbook photos from the 20s and 30s) as well as some important information about each on them, most of which would never be seen on an actual student ID, but that worked well for reference purposes. 

I printed them on card stock so they feel like real IDs minus the lamination. They came out great and worked out well, helping the new guys keep everyone straight.  Everyone's favorite ID was the one of Bear's character, Lagos.

I think it's my favorite too.

Dragon Age Legends Beta Key Giveaway!

Posted by Mike Provencher II



Late last night I got a little surprise in my inbox: I've been invited to play in the Dragon Age Legends closed beta test. If you don't know, Dragon Age Legends is going to be a Facebook game set in the same world as Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. But I didn't just get invited to the closed beta, I was also given two additional keys to give to anyone I like. So we here at The Labyrinth have decided to give the keys away to our readers. We're going to give one key away this week, and the second key will be given away next Monday.

We considered just giving the key away to the first person to respond, but decided against it. Then we thought we'd have a random drawing with anyone that comments on this post, but, again, that was too easy. So instead, we're going to do a random drawing on Friday for anyone who can come up with the correct answer to the following question: 

What's the name of The Labyrinthian's 10th grade English teacher?

The answer can be found somewhere in the archives of this very blog. If you find the answer, send an e-mail to Labyrinth.Contest@gmail.com with the subject line "Beta Key Giveaway". We'll send the key to the winner on Friday afternoon, and post who it is on the blog. Happy hunting!

Monday Maps: Another Free Blank Map!

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,


Last week's free map was such a hit I thought I'd follow it up with another one.  Like its predecessor, this map has no labels on it and is free for your use.  Feel free to fill it in with your own names and use it in your games.

Enjoy!




Dragon Age Redeption Trailer with Felicia Day

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,






The release of BioWare's Dragon Age II is almost upon us.  To help tide us over the last few weeks until its release they gave us the trailer for Dragon Age Redemption.  Due out later this year, Dragon Age Redemption stars Queen of the Geeks, Felicia Day.

From the Official Site:


In Dragon Age: Redemption, Day stars as Tallis, an Elven assassin hired by the Qunari to capture a rogue mage intent on wreaking havoc throughout the world. In her quest to find this dangerous mage, Tallis is joined by other companions who are not always aligned in their beliefs and goals, but who band together to defeat their foe, in an attempt to restore peace and balance to this dark fantasy universe.





Not a lot of footage, but it's a teaser so that's not much of a surprise.  Looks cool though and I'm looking forward to it. 

There is no release date yet, but rumors say sometime in August. 

Invitation to Westeros

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,



Here is the newest trailer for HBO's upcoming series, A Game of Thrones. This trailer, called "An Invitation to Westeros," focuses on the differing visual look of some of the various areas of Westeros and beyond. 






Saturday Link: Beware the Sacrilege Edition!

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

The Blog of Holding has been doing an absolutely Hilarious series about creating and playing with rules inspired by the awfully awesome movie Mazes & Monsters starring Tom Hanks when he was still young and desperate enough to star in any piece of trash that came along.  Their playtest was a great read that had me laughing from start to finish.  Bizarre rules, such as the one that states that the Maze Controller (GM) must say something "may be a trap" or it can't possibly be one, are so hilariously accurate that it is obvious that writer of tBoH must be a huge Mazes & Monsters fan.  Head over there and check it out, but do yourself a favor and, "Beware the Sacrilege!!!" 

We've never linked to Joe the Lawyer's Wondrous Imaginings here at the Labyrinth which is something of a crying shame.  Joe's site is great and we are from the same area so this is long overdue.  In this link Joe takes a look at the most recent Hasbro Earning reports and speculates on what they might mean for the future of Dungeons and Dragons. 

Big Ball of No Fun is a site that is pretty new to me.  There are so many great gaming sites out there that sometimes you stumble across one that you are amazed you've never seen before.  Here BBoNF takes a look at naming conventions and gives a number of great links to help the GM keep some consistency with his naming. 

Hackmastery is doing a series of articles that take a close look at the mechanics of Hackmaster basic such as Quirks and the Honor System.  Definitely worth checking out. 


Friday Video: Celebrity Dungeons & Dragons

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Keanu Reeves, Arnold Shwarzeneggar, Sean Connery, and Emma Thompson try to play Keep on the Borderlands with  Christopher Walken as their Dungeon Master.



Wednesday Words: Mike Mearls

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Normally this is where we highlight a quote from another great gaming site or blog, but today we are going to take a look as some words from a different source, D&D Head of R&D. 

When we look to the past, we learn that there are far more things that tie us together than tear us apart. The fact that we play this bizarre, arcane game puts us on the fringe of normal. Whether we like powers, feats, ascending or descending AC, Thac0 or base attack bonus, those are all details. We like to dream of worlds beyond the mundane, of great battles and victories that occur only in the shared imagination of a gaming group. To borrow from the forward to the 1st Edition Player’s Handbook: "As diverse as this mélange of enthusiasts is, they all seem to share one commonality: a real love for Dungeons & Dragons and a devotion that few other games can claim."
This is our game, and it is as healthy, vibrant and important as we make it. The rest is details. Don’t let that details drive us apart when the big picture says we should be joined together.

Mearl's attempt to diplomatically unite the Gaming Community is one that I certainly respect, even if I don't have much respect for the edition that he represents.  The fact is that our community is full of unusually (and perhaps overly) opinionated people.   We argue over things that other people would probably deem strange and/or unimportant such as: who would win in a fight between Conan and Drizzt, which is the best Star Wars film, and of course which edition of D&D was the best.  

Amidst the seemingly endless debate, dubbed the "Edition Wars" it is nice to hear someone of notoriety remind everyone that there is more than unites us than divides us, though often it doesn't seem that way. 

Anyone who hasn't should go read the full piece over on the Wizards website

Dragon Age Series Starring Felcia Day

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Dragon Age was a great game with a great setting.  It produced a couple of great videos that caused us here at the Labyrinth to question why couldn't the D&D movie have been that good? Well now they be showing us once again what they can do on film by creating a web based miniseries written and starring Felicia Day.  Day, known for her work on the amazing web series, The Guild, will be bringing a lot to the table on this project, not the least of which is her passion for video games, and her familiarity with Dragon Age in particular. 

Oh, and she stars as a hot Elven Assassin. 

I'm in! 

The miniseries will be called Dragon Age Redemption and will air sometime later this year.  

This is a great move by Bioware in my opinion.  Felicia Day has a great reputation among games for more than just her good looks.  She brings a very real passion to her projects.  Add to that her web series cred from the Guild and you have a built in winner.  This will really grow Dragon Age's reputation and will certainly bring in new fans to the series.  
Since Dragon Age II is set to be released in March my only guess is that we will see the web series release coincide with the first expansion.

I'm pretty excited, but it also gets me thinking...  With great online series like The Guild, JourneyQuest, Gold, and now Dragon Age Redemption is it just me or are good online shows starting to outnumber good shows on traditional television?

NPC Cards

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , , , ,


 I wanted to share something really cool from our currant Call of Cthulhu game.  I'm not running the game, The Professor is.  He, like the rest of us, was new to the system when we began, but that has not impeded his ability to GM.  So far the game is absolutely awesome and part of it is the small things like his NPC Cards.

The concept is simple and certainly not a new one, but there is a reason this has been around for a while... It's a great idea.  The Professor's execution of the concept is flawless.  He lists pertinent information to the character like their name, nickname, and a Fraternity or Sorority if they belong to one.  Then he gives some key biographical notes like where they are from, what their major is, what clubs and/or sports they are involved in, etc.  Finally he lists character traits and events that have become clear as the PCs have interacted with them.  For example, Ruth has proved untrusting of the PCs every time they have met her, Beth has a short temper and constantly yells, and Bobby beat the crap out of Revil's character, Kenneth.  


Perhaps the most important feature of the card is the photo.  Ever one for authenticity, The Professor has gone back into archives of old yearbooks and pulled actual student photos from the late 20s.  It's a great touch that makes each NPC seem that much more real and gives each NPC card a yearbook-ish feel.  That works really well as our characters have gone to old Yearsbooks as important sources of information on various persons around campus.

One person in particular, Reginald St. Birmingham III, has been of particular interest to our characters.  Birmingham is the villain of this chapter of the story and is obviously up to some shenanigans, though our characters aren't sure of exactly what at the present time.  When investigating him we started our research (where else?) in the yearbook.   His entry provided some background information and some important clues on where to look next.    One of the characters, Charles (Doodle's character) is also from Newport and had heard of the affluent St. Birmingham family and knew what kind of business they were in, their general reputation, and where they live.  We proceeded with our investigation by looking into the activities Reggie was involved in, specifically the Bohemian Club and Sigma Phi.  While we haven't cracked the case yet, this information certainly put us on the right track.

NPC cards like this are easy to make and definitely worth the time and effort.  They help yours players connect with the various important NPCs and provide them with a quick reference guide to the pertinent facts about them.  If you are playing a CoC game, particularly one set at Miskatonic University, you will want to also follow the Professor's lead and lean heavily on old yearbooks from the 20s and 30s as a resource of both pictures and great information about the time.

Music to Inspire Your Game

Posted by Mike Provencher II in , ,


Gamers can find inspiration for adventure or campaign ideas nearly anywhere. But unless you’re careful it can be tough to hide the fact that you just stole the plot of The Wizard of Oz from your players. The main problem with taking inspiration from movies, TV shows, or books is that your players tend to have similar tastes as you do in these areas. Not only that, but there are only a limited number of movies and TV shows released in a year, so the odds of at least one of your players having seen or heard about the movie or show you’re basing your plot on is high. It’s a little easier with books due to the sheer number of books out there, however the “your players tend to have similar tastes” problem is a particularly large one here. It’s compounded because, while there are a lot of books to take inspiration from, not all of them are very good, and when you do find a good book it’s hard not to share it with your friends. But there’s one medium that not only gets overlooked as a source of inspiration, but is also one where tastes very wildly from one person to the next; music.

            Within a single group of gamers the range of musical preference can be staggering. Taking our group for example, we’ve got members that listen to everything from Anime Theme Songs to Viking Metal to Indy Rock to Gangster Rap to American Pop. Not only that, but the sheer amount of music that’s released in a year is so staggering that even two different fans of one genre of music may not listen to the same bands. Plus, interpretation of music tends to vary somewhat from person to person, so if you decide to take inspiration from a song it’s likely that your players may not realize it even if it’s one they love.

            So what kinds of things can music inspire? Well, to be blunt, anything you want. It can be as grandiose as an entire campaign, as specific as an adventure, or as intimate as a PC or NPC. The idea is to take anything that makes you say, “Oh, that’s interesting” and turning it into something that you can use as a GM or a player. The idea of this feature is for one of us here at the Labyrinth to give you a song you may have never heard and then give you some ideas of how to use that to better your game. So, without further ado, please allow me to present to you the first Song to Inspire Your Game: Skeleton’s on Parade by Ludo.





Okay, this one is kind of a gimmie as this song doesn’t so much inspire a game as it does lay out an entire adventure for you, up to and including giving you a solution to the town’s problems. But it's not a song that your players are likely to have heard before, so I think it works well. It’s easy to see the PCs coming across this cursed town, who’s residents are so busy praying and cleaning the local graveyard they pay little to no attention to the PCs. When night starts to fall, all of the residents of the town scurry inside and board up their doors and windows, leaving the bewildered PCs out on the streets if they haven’t found shelter before the sun goes down. No one will answer their door, and before long a horde of skeletons descends on the town, attacking any living person they see and doing as much property damage as possible. The PCs fight them, but find that even when one is struck down, within moments it’s back up and at full strength. The PCs manage to survive the night, only to faintly hear an old woman singing in the direction of the graveyard. “Goodnight all my children now, you must lay down your heads. You wouldn’t want the sun to catch you risen from your beds…” If the PCs are smart they’ll realize that the only way to stop the menace is to somehow keep the skeletons from getting back to their graves before the sun comes up the next morning.


With a little alteration, this adventure can be made to fit almost any Fantasy game. Want to run it as a low-level adventure? Make it so the skeletons only attack town members, and completely ignore the PCs unless they attack first. It’s the townspeople who are cursed after all, not the PCs. Are your PCs too high level for skeletons to pose a challenge? Change them to something stronger like a Ghoul or a Ghast. Or make sure the skeletons break into a few houses, and have protecting the townspeople be the actual challenge, instead of just killing skeletons. There are a ton of ways you can go with this one, but no matter what you do, make sure you comment and let us know how it goes. We always love to hear your stories.

Monday Morning Maps: Free Map!

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Recently someone pointed out to me that my finished maps, while hopefully fun and interesting to look at, are less of a useful resource than a map with all the labels left off it.  Not being able to depute the claim I present to you the first of many maps left blank for your use!

This particular map is a regional map depicting a coast and a number of off shore islands.  There are towns, ruins, forests, rivers, even a castle for you to name and explore!

Future maps may not be regional, they might be world maps, town maps, or even a dungeon map or two.

Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,



Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.  Here's hoping all of your V-Day dreams come true.  Should you need any help on your seduction technique, check out how my all time favorite Bard does it in the film Dorkness Rising.

Skip to the 3 minute mark to see him work his magic.


Saturday Links: The "Raistlin Majere was healthy" Edition

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,



I've always found Statistics to be fun... Well as they pertain to fun things like Sports and Gaming anyway.  You find out some very fascinating things when examining stats in gaming.  That is why this week's links are all about the numbers!

The Jovial Priest looks asserts that an ability score of 3 is unplayable.  In fact, he feels that most people aren't able to conceptualize what a 3 would really mean.  He takes a look at famous twin brothers Raistlin and Caramon as an example.  Most people feel that Raist's CON score was a 3 and Caramon's INT, while probably not a 3, was still very low.  The reality may surprise you.

Matthew Neagley over at Gnome Stew has a great primer on probability for beginners. 

This link examines the ramifications of substituting all d20 rolls in D&D with 3d6.

Highprogrammer has an entire page dedicated to weapon damage graphs. 

Kevin Sullivan has a page dedicated to looking at stats in D&D such as opposed skill rolls and character attributes.  He also has a great great chart plotting ability score probabilities.

Prestonpoulter has a great graph comparing a number of different ability score generation methods which can be seen below.  



Friday Video: "I'm Wearing Boots of Escaping!!!"

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

What happens when a DM shoots a player with a longbow to prove his point?  The Reno Police show up to clear up the situation!

This week's video is a hilarious clip from an episode of Reno 911 where a DM tries frantically to explain what happened before trying to make his getaway shouting "I'm wearing boots of escaping!"




"Gather close that you might harken... the story of Fat Neil."


Last week produced at special and unexpted treat, an episode of the comedy show Community that focused on Dungeons & Dragons.  I don't watch the show (though that is likely to change now), but fortunetly Revil told me about it and let me know that the episode entittled Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was a must watch for obvious reasons.  I'm glad he told me about it because it is one of the best episodes of any show I've ever seen.  It so good that it was easy for me to list these five reason to love it.  


(Beware of Spoilers!)



Reason #1 - Accessibility
Neil feeling better after defeating some Goblins


As I said, I have never seen a single episode of the show other than this one.  Despite the show already being in its second season I had no problem jumping right into the story and its fairly simple premise.  Everything you need to know is provided by the narrator at the beginning of the episode.  Neil, a chubby boy at the college has been made fun of for being fat his whole life, but thought things would change when he left high school.  He finds out he was wrong when he gains the nickname "Fat Neil" around Greendale Community College.  Severely depressed Neil contemplates suicide as a means of escape, but his friends deduce his plans and think of a way to stop him: Make him feel better by having a game of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  They are sure all he needs to do is feel like a winner for a change, something the game is sure to accomplish.   


Reason #2 - The Characters

Just as the story is accessible, the characters are people you can quickly and easily understand and have motives you can sympathize with and root for.  Well, except Pierce, but we'll get to that. 

"I am Brutalitops!  The Magician!  Magic User, baby!"
The episode features eight characters involved in the game, seven players and one Dungeon Master.  The Dungeon Master, Abed is frankly amazing.  He is idiosyncratic, amazingly entertaining, and absolutely dedicated to the game and his role as the Dungeon Master.  Throughout the game he is asked to help the heroes by just giving them items and information they need as well as helping them against the villain, but he always refuses stating that he needs to be impartial or the game has no meaning. 

As for the characters the most entertaining is probably the shortest lived.  Chang, who the group never meant to be there is the first place, proves right away that he is the most dedicated to the game by dressing up in full Drow makeup and wig.  His introduction of his character Brutalitops is nothing short of amazing.  I had the misfortune to be drinking some soda during this part and things didn't end well.  Unfortunately the brightest flames burn out the quickest and this mighty Brutalitops was decapitated not half way though the show. 
Jeff, skeptical about the game

The leader of the group, Jeff, is the one who originally figured out Neil's plan and organized the group to take steps to prevent it.  He doesn't think much of Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced or otherwise, but he is firmly committed to helping Neil.  Just like everyone else, Jeff finds himself really getting into the game by the end, driving the group toward their objective of obtaining a Pegasus when even Neil wants to quit and cheering during crucial moments.

Britta trying to stop the opression

Another one of the characters, Britta, was very entertaining for Revil and I because she reminds us so much of the way one the members of our group (Bear) plays the game.  When the party is ambushed by Goblins at the start of the adventure Britta launches into a theory that it is probably THEIR rightful land and from their perspective they are the trespassers.  Before she can continue her theory though she is shot by an arrow, which I found thoroughly entertaining.  Later in the adventure she continues he Hermione-esc championing of lesser races when she meets an oppressed gnome waiter.  When the waiter later dies, Britta is horrified at the injustice, much to Jeff's incredulity. 

Annie describing her lovemaking techniques
The other characters, Troy, Annie, and Shirley all have their roles to play and their moments in the sun.  In fact, one of the most entertaining parts of the episode was when Annie, who ended up with the character Hector the Well Endowed, had to seduce the beautiful Elf Maiden who guarded the Pegasi so the group could catch up with Pierce.  There is a montage as the she and Abed play out the the love scene while Troy takes notes. 

Each of the characters has something that makes them unique and special, just like a D&D adventuring party.  Their skills and passions, Annie with her love making and Britta with her indignation for people less fortunate, not only comes into play but is essential to the party's eventual success against their dreaded foe. 

A somewhat over supportive Troy
Speaking of their foe, Pierce Hawthorn, played by the always entertaining Chevy Chase, is in so many ways the perfect villain for this tale.  As the narrators points out "For reasons that should be obvious, Pierce the Insensitive, also known as Pierce the Dickish, and Grampa the Flatulent was not invited."  This lack of invitation is what spurred Pierce's ire, much like Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.  However, much like the black Queen of dread, Pierce doesn't need an excuse to be a dick... hence the nickname. 

When Pierce shows up he demands to be put into the game as himself.  Abed complies and informs everyone that his character will die of exposure because he is naked.  Neil, finally meeting one of his greatest tormentors in an arena where he is both confident and powerful introduces himself as Ducane of Clan Ducan.  He also gives Pierce his cloak so he won't die from the cold.  At which point Grampa Flatulent says that Ducane is a stupid name and takes Neils sword, kills Brutalitops, and runs away.  Everyone shouts at Pierce to give Neil back his sword and Neil himself confesses that it took him "10 years and 50 campaigns to get that sword" which is a one of a kind sword forged by his character's ancestors.   Pierce, the villain that he is describes that he is rubbing his balls on the sword. 

"I Won!  I Won Dungeons & Dragons... and it was Advanced!"
Without meaning to, Pierce has provided the most vital piece of the puzzle for the game to succeed.  All great story's need great villains and you can't achieve true victory without some great obstacle to overcome.  The game really mirrors life in this episode and just as Neil attempts to overcome his tormentors in real life he is now forced to do the same within the game.  Pierce has given him an area to work through his "Fat Neil" issues, not with any good will in mind, but still a vital contribution. 


Reason #3 - The Adventure

The adventure, Caverns of Draconis, is not a real adventure, but it both looks and feels like one the way it is described.  It has a simple premise; nearby dwells the legendary Red Dragon Draconis who possess a mighty hoard of treasure.  The party's objective is to slay Draconis and claim the treasure for their own.   The adventure's simple but effective concept is perfect for this episode.
Abed the Dungeon Master with the adventure


Now like I said, the Caverns of Dragon's is not a real adventure, but I'll be shocked if someone doesn't make a full version.  This episode oozes inspiration and I bet before the end of the month we'll see a playable version or two of this adventure. 

Shirley praying for success

Reason #4 - The Climax 

All great adventures deserve a great ending and this one has one.  Neil, our downtrodden hero recovers the sword of his ancestors hurls it at the amulet that Pierce acquired which has allowed him to take control of the mighty Draconis.  The Dungeon Master informs Neil that his called shot is very difficult and will require an 18 or higher to succeed.  Everyone hold their breath and crosses their fingers as the die is being rolled.

The die lands and the camera zooms in... You might have expected a 20, I know I did, but instead the die reads 19.  It is a success and the group goes wild!


Now many people feel that the one thing wrong with this episode is that it wasn't a 20, and I kind of agree.  It would have been the perfect time for one.  It makes me wonder why the writers opted for a 19 instead of a 20.  Maybe it is because there was a 20 rolled earlier when Pierce decapitated Brutalitops, but I for one would have loved to see that magical two-zero on the die.  Oh well, it's a minor thing I suppose.  

Reason #5 - The Portrayal of the Game

Wherefor art thou, 20?
Amazingly, and in stark contrast to the glory days of AD&D, the game is showed in an amazingly positive light in this show.  Those who play it are not your stereotypical nerds sitting in their mom's basement eating chips and drinking mountain dew, but rather normal people.  Niel himself may be somewhat outcast because of his weight, but he obviously has the capacity to make friends.  Those who gathered for the game are doing it for him because he is their friend.

The game is also portrayed as a safe environment for people to work through their issues.  Neil is depressed, lacks confidence, feels ashamed of his weight, and is constantly bullied by Pierce and people like him.  By the end though he is able to get past that, gain confidence, and stand up to Pierce.  More than that he realizes that Pierce is such a miserable human being who only wants to torture and torment others because Pierce himself is not happy.  At that moment Neil takes an entire turn to pity Pierce within the game and that pity turns out to be the party's saving grace. 

Above all the group is portrayed as having fun during the game.  These are normal people who don't often game, but they have a really good time none the less.  AD&D isn't portrayed as some weird activity that only social rejects can enjoy, it is portrayed as a game that anyone can play and enjoy. 


In the end there are a ton of reasons to love this episode of Community, feel free to add yours in the comments section.  A couple of things of note before I close this one out. 

First, I thought it was odd that the DM did all the rolling for this game.  Has anyone ever played in a game with worked like that?  I'm guessing that this was just the show's creators wanting to keep things simple, but maybe there are those that play that way and I've never heard of it. 

Secondly, why didn't they use D&D 4e?  It is after-all the current version of the game so why go with AD&D?  Personally I'm glad they did, but it is something to think about.