Tag Archives: D&D

Level One Wonk Reviews: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

After much hype and hullabaloo, Wizards of the Coast has released Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, the first rules supplement for the Fifth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. While there is nothing revolutionary within this volume, it offers some great new options for both mechanical and story aspects of D&D. I’d say it’s nice to have for players but more recommended for GMs due to the expanded proficiency and downtime rules, trap creation and encounter expansions, and the solidly integrated rivals system.

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Unearthing Elf Subraces

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!

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Unearthing Mass Combat

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.

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System Split: Basic D&D and Basic D&D Retroclones

Dungeons and Dragons, by many standards, lives up to Wizards of the Coast’s claim of “The World’s Greatest Role-Playing Game”. It has the longest history and the greatest impact of any game, paving the way for the expansive role-playing hobby we have today. And the versions published in the 1980s are those which had the strongest impact on one of the earliest generations of gamers. Between TSR’s mismanagement and the limitations of technology, though, these early versions were almost lost to history. The desire to rekindle support for the playstyle of Basic D&D was one of the collective motivations which kindled the OSR, or Old School Revival, movement. Today’s System Split splits four ways, looking both at two versions of Basic D&D (B/X and Rules Cyclopedia) and Retroclones which were designed to give them renewed accessibility: Labyrinth Lord and Dark Dungeons.

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Unearthing Fiendish Options

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.

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Rise of the Dungeon Master

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?

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Level One Wonk: The OSR

Are you a Butt-Kicker, a Specialist, or a Story-Teller? There is a huge world of games out there to satisfy every player’s and group’s style. And while there are academic discussions in every corner of the internet, sometimes it’s best to start at level one. Join the Level One Wonk in exploring the possibilities that RPGs have to offer, from Aberrant to Zorcerer of Zo. Today we go back to the beginning, with a design movement that’s keeping it old school! The OSR is a group of gamers and designers who start with the earliest versions of D&D and go from there. Do you like the playstyle of old games, or have been waiting for someone to iron the wrinkles out of Basic D&D? Read on!

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Unearthing the Eladrin and Gith

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!

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Unearthing the Three-Pillar Experience

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.

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So You Want to Have a Gaming Marathon

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.

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