Monday, August 31, 2015

Making Monsters Memorable

I remember when I first started playing D&D.  Like many earlier players of the day, my initiation took place in the Caves of Chaos, Keep on the Borderlands. I remember being so excited and scared about everything I encountered in those caves. I didn't know what a goblin or orc or a kobold was and everything around the next corner was a deadly threat.  I remember getting the snot kicked out my party by a group of 7 orcs. Orcs at the time seemed like the scariest thing imaginable. We ran......a lot.  In those days, when dungeons were new and monsters were still scary to encounter, even encountering an orc was a thrill.

But now it seems, the thrill of encountering most monsters these days is gone as seasoned players aren't as fearful of the monsters I set before them. Often I hear " oh, its a troll, get out the torches", " don't touch the rust monster with your metal weapons", and even worse...... "oh, its just more orcs".
Humanoids really weren't all that different back then either- an orc or kobold or goblin or gnoll were pretty much all the same- just a humanoid to kill- some types possessing more  hit points than others.  It was good to see later editions of the game try and give the humanoids each their own encounter personality such as Tuckers kobolds and Pathfinders goblins.

One thing Ive tried to do to spice things up for players, is to change up the abilities monsters have. It spices things up when they come across a gelatinous cube that's touch causes shock damage and can teleport about, or divide in two. Or the Troll that breathed fire and was only damaged by cold, or the kobolds who could spider climb. Ive seen even the most jaded character turn a deep shade of "what the fuc...", and suddenly that glimmer of fear the unknown is seen in their eyes.

Presented here is a table of monsters I mostly pulled from Basic/Expert book and a list of abilities those monsters might possess. Randomly roll for the monster then for its Special Ability or choose to suit your needs.  I don't suggest you do this all the time, but maybe once in a while to keep the players on their toes. Nothing is more fun than when your  players come upon a room of trolls, and roll their eyes as they order torches to be lit only to find out not only are those trolls immune to fire, but their breathing fire down on their asses....

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Play a Character...

Alexi D. Smolensk, one of the writers of a blog I regularly follow over at The Tao of D&D has recently published a short (114 pg) booklet I thought Id post here.  I received the book on Friday evening and finished it in one reading. I found myself not wanting to put it down and when it ended, I was wanting for more. It is kind a precursor to his up and coming "How to Run: An Advanced Guide to Managing Role-playing Games".

Though some have found his writing style a bit temperamental and brash, I find it refreshing and respect the passion and conviction about everything he has written about the game, running the game and his game world.

I recommend this book to players and particulary to DMs who are passionate about the game and want an insightful and provocative assessment of the game we all love that isn't so kiddy-candy coated as the stuff put out on the shelves these days....

You can find his work at www.Lulu.com

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dwarven Forge Dungeon Set

I wanted to see if I could set my entire Dwarven Forge collection up together. I rarely have enough room to do this, but I took advantage of a storage room I had access to for a bit to set up some plywood onto some stands and spent the afternoon constructing a dungeon that would incorporate nearly my entire collection of Dwarven Forge material ( minus lots of spare parts I just couldnt fit in). Did a pretty good job of it I think. 

I hadnt realized when I took this pic how similar it was to the old Dungeon Geomorphs I own. complete with the beholder in my hand

Monday, January 20, 2014

Barrowmaze Complete & Official Miniatures by Otherworld

Once again Greg over at Discourse and Dragons is getting another fine Barrowmaze product launched on Indiegogo. Check it out. The animated teaser is great.  Ive been running Barrowmaze using the Dungeon Crawl Classics system and its been an awesome experience for me and my players. Really looking forward to the success of this launch and having customized barrowmaze figurines is really the iceing on the cake.


Here are some pics of our past games in the Barrowmaze: