I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural PAX Unplugged with my wife this past weekend, and while I (quite wisely, we needed a vacation darn it) wasn’t attending in any sort of official CHG capacity I was still viewing the convention as a whole with a critic’s eye. So what worked, what didn’t, and would going yourself next year be worth it?
Elves that can take to the sky on wings they are born with. Elves that view even other elves with suspicion, sticking to the deep forests of Greyhawk. Elves that took to the oceans instead of the forest, following currents instead of wooded paths. Elves that swore service to the Raven Queen, now wreathed in the darkness of the Shadowfell. There has always been more than just one variety of elf in Dungeons and Dragons, and with the latest Unearthed Arcana a lot more of them are coming out of the woodwork (or the sky, or the sea, or a plane of shadow) to take their shot at being options for player characters in 5th Edition!
Before Halloween, Wizards of the Coast took the hype level for their new D&D supplement, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and turned it up to 11 by releasing the table of contents. Now it’s known what’s in the book and what we can expect to use in upcoming games once the book is released on November 21st. Also important though is what didn’t make the cut. New classes like the Mystic and the Artificer were left behind, and so was a set of mass combat rules. Even if the mass combat rules have not been built into a sanctioned product yet, the version released in Unearthed Arcana has some neat uses and is definitely worth considering for use in your game.
Fantasy Flight Games is at it again with their open beta tests, this time for the Legend of the Five Rings RPG! L5R, as it is often abbreviated as, was originally published back in ’95 by Alderac Entertainment Group, and is set in the feudal-pseudo-Japan setting of Rokugan, a land of samurai, shugenja, and courtiers fulfilling their duties and struggling amongst themselves in the Emerald Empire. The roleplaying game got through four editions under AEG before the property was sold to FFG in late 2015, and fans have been waiting to see what FFG would make of it since. Now that the beta version is in our hands (for free, thankfully), let’s see what they’ve put together!
Just because Asmodeus is top dog in the Nine Hells doesn’t mean he’s the only source of fiendish influence on the material plane. Even the Nine Hells as a whole don’t have a monopoly on it; the demons of the Abyss certainly have their own goals and influence, decidedly messier though they may be. From different breeds of Tiefling to infernal cults to abyssal champions, the latest Unearthed Arcana presents us with all sorts of new Fiendish Options, for both sides of the DM’s screen.
You are a tabletop gaming enthusiast, wandering through your local bookstore for the next bit of literature to capture your attention with. By chance you wander into the comic/graphic novel section, idly browsing, wondering if you’ll find something a little different this time. As it so happens a slim graphic novel catches your eye; you recognize the creator and game mentioned on the spine. It is called “Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D”. Do you take it off the shelf?
Unearthed Arcana took a step back from Dungeon Master-level rules and hopped back over the screen to the player’s side of things this month – but it seems they may have over shot a bit and landed out among the planes! This time we’re getting material from the ethereal Astral Plane, the roiling chaos of Limbo, and the seasonal extremes of the Feywild with a new race and new subraces for 5th Edition player characters: the Githyanki, Githzerai, and Eladrin!
The “Three Pillars” are a long-held ideal of what a Dungeons and Dragons campaign should be focusing on: Combat, Social Interaction, and Exploration. The ideal, more or less, states that each should have an equal share in the adventuring career of the party. That comes down to the personal tastes of the DM, the party as a whole, and even particular players, but it has definitely been true that when it comes to gaining experience points in 5th Edition D&D Combat has been the one bearing the most weight. Monsters have easily defined and consistent XP values, while the same cannot be said for Exploration or Social Interaction. Now, in the latest Unearthed Arcana, they’re presenting some options for changing that.
I met our own Level One Wonk via a gaming group that actually spends most of its time playing games online; although the core of original members were all playing together in college, these days they (now we) primarily play over Skype/Twiddla/Google+/etc. However, starting six years ago, we have all gathered together in Delaware once a year to trade stories, raise a few glasses, and play a bunch of games over the course of a long weekend. I’m writing this in Delaware, most of our way through Beach Weekend VI (which I suppose could also, given that the pair of us did most of the GMing, be thought of as Cannibal Halfling Con I), and I’ve definitely learned a few things over the years about turning tabletop roleplaying into a marathon affair.
When it comes to playing any tabletop RPG, it’s all about the story. Maybe that story is simple, with a certain amount of murderhobo-ing, minimal ‘story’ in the traditional sense, and lots of loot spent on getting better at being a murderhobo. Maybe that story is quite complex, with character development, multiple arcs, themes and motifs and the like. No matter what, it’s a story of sorts, and everyone around the table is telling it. But what about when parts of that story have been told by someone else? Not just things you’ve used to inspire your game, no. I mean, how does playing in a pre-established setting change things and challenge your group?