After the Dragon War: The Dungeons

The Heroes of the Dragon War pooled their resources to erect defenses around the Orbs of Dragonkind. They decided that five of the Orbs would be defended in the same location by a nearly impassable obstacle. The other five Orbs would be hidden separately within dungeons that the Heroes would build and protect. Continue reading

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Blackrock Mountain Announcement

Been a while since I’ve made a post because I’ve been quite sick. The flu is a terrible thing!

I’ve been wanting to make a post about Hearthstone’s new adventure expansion, Blackrock Mountain. Now that I’m no longer as concerned about dying I can write the post! Woohoo!

The adventure is based off a famous WoW raid once again that I know almost nothing about.

Looking at whats been released so far on the official website and trailer I can tell that the expansion has dragons, fire, and dwarves in it.

I LOVE dragons, so this is gonna be a killer set for me.

Moving on to a selection of the previewed cards though!

First up is the previewed Legendary, Rend Blackhand.

Rend_Blackhand

Only useful in a very very specific situation. You have to have him and a dragon in your hand and your opponent has to have a Legendary on their board that is worth killing. Otherwise it’s basically a weak Core Hound and no one plays that because it’s bad.

Next is the Hungry Dragon.

Hungry_Dragon

 

I’m pleased by this new addition to the dragon forces in the game. It’s strong, but not overwhelmingly strong. Did I mention that it’s a DRAGON?!?

Then we have the Dark Iron Skulker.

Dark_Iron_Skulker

Pretty obviously intended as an anti-aggro card for Rogues. Rogues already have a few tools for this with Fan of Knives and their hero power. This card is even better because its basically a Consecration stapled to a 3 mana cost minion body for only 5 mana. You’re getting 2 mana of oomph for free if the Skulker damages all of your opponent’s minions. I think this one will see a lot of play.

And the best for last! Axe Flinger!

Axe_Flinger

Super useful alongside Bouncing Blade, the GVG Warrior spell that deals 1 damage to a random minion and then another random minion until a minion dies. And the best thing about the Axe Flinger is that it immediately inspired me to make this video!

Blackrock Mountain is scheduled to come out sometime in April. Hopefully we’ll get to see a few more cards before then!

-GoCorral

Darkest Dungeon

I’m going to talk about the latest video game sensation! Not League of Legends! Not Hearthstone! That’s right! You guessed it! The Darkest Dungeon.

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I… I… I can’t read.

Darkest Dungeon is an indie game funded through Kickstarter.

In the game a wealthy socialite turns to the Cthuluian mysteries for entertainment and he unlocks horror beneath his mansion. The evil spreads until the entire countryside is corrupted by monsters, cultists, and brigands.

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Beware! This game uses fancy words like antediluvian and tenebrous!

The player controls various groups of adventurers hired by the caretaker of the mansion to rid it of the abominations that inhabit it.

The game is a fairly typical turn-based RPG. Positioning of your party members is also important, but there’s nothing new there.

The new mechanic in Darkest Dungeon is the stress bar.

If you’ve read the short stories by HP Lovecraft that inspired this game, then you’re familiar with how the characters go insane when exposed to otherworldy horrors. Well, the same thing happens to the adventurers you control in Darkest Dungeon.

Getting hit really hard by monsters drives your party crazy. When the monsters do creepy things your party goes crazy. When the torchlight starts burning low your party goes crazy.

All that crazy is measured by the stress bar which goes from 0-100. 0 is fine, 100 is insane.

There’s other cool stuff too. Every class gets special attacks and you can name all your characters, like Snoop Dog in that picture down there.

WHACK! Take that!
WHACK! Take that!

In between adventures your party can rest and recuperate from all that craziness. There’s plenty of buildings to upgrade in the little town you stay in and the gold you bring back can be spent to improve your adventurers’ abilities for future dungeon raids.

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It was a dark and deluvian night.

And best of all, the adventurers talk throughout the whole game. Here’s your boss, the caretaker, describing one of his favorite places to visit in town.

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Caretaker’s getting jiggy with it.

I like to gauge entertainment on a ratio of hours of entertainment to money spent ratio. Movies are $10 to 2 hour ratio. Darkest Dungeon is $20 to… probably about 100 hours? That makes it 25 times as much entertainment value as a movie! Not necessarily as much fun packed into two hours, but over time it’ll appreciate into something you can really enjoy.

Check it out on Steam now!

-GoCorral

My D&D Campaign: Cimmeria

I gave a brief description of my D&D campaign world previously, but have written nothing on it since.

I got involved in the Gurutama posts and I felt that writing about two different D&D worlds might get confusing.

The result is that there’s very little on the blog about what I actually do in my biggest hobby and that frankly seems a little stupid.

There are other reasons why I avoided describing my current D&D sessions besides the confusion between Cimmeria, the campaign world I use now, and Gurutama, the campaign world I’m building.

First, I’m not always the DM for my group. Sometimes my best friend DMs a campaign based in the Aegean where the other players and I oppose an evil conspiracy.

Should I be writing about those sessions here as well? Bringing a third campaign world in? Its already a little difficult for some of the other players to keep track of what’s happening in each campaign. I can’t imagine what it would be like for people who aren’t playing and taking notes on this stuff like we are.

Second, there is an immense amount of existing information for Cimmeria that makes it a little difficult to describe the sessions to a newcomer.

For example, there is an NPC called Astyanax in Cimmeria. He is a prominent member of the Alliance opposing the evil guys.

I say Astyanax and the players all know what I’m talking about because they’ve interacted with him in the past and with his father, Hector.

There’s a mythical parallel to Astyanax as well. The mythical Hector was the greatest hero of Troy who died defending his city. After Troy was conquered, the Greeks killed the mythical Astyanax.

The Hector in my campaign died just like his namesake, but Astyanax lived on. He is now the greatest defender of his city in his father’s place. He might end up dying like his father did as well.

So imagine that level of explanation for not only the people, but the places and objects in my campaign. Everything has a history and I try to DM in a way that makes that history relevant.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to write stuff here about Cimmeria, but I’ve got explain in a way that anybody can understand the topic.

Not really different than how anything should be written when you think about it.

-Mister Ed

The Other Room in D&D

D&D is typically played with everyone in the same room or on the same video call if you’re my group.

The DM plays out the action and all the other players interact with each other and the DM.

Sometimes a change is needed.

What if one PC scouts ahead and the DM doesn’t want the other players to share the information that PC gets?

You could trust the players to only act on information their characters would know, but its difficult to rely on that. It’s easy for the DM and the players to forget where the line between character knowledge and their own knowledge is.

The problem is easily solved by restricting such knowledge.

When a player scouts the next room in a dungeon without the others the DM will take him into the other room with his character sheet and dice.

The player then explores the room on his own.

If there’s a monster in there, he has to fight it on his own. He can still call for help to the others, but they won’t necessarily hear him.

If there’s treasure in the other room, the PC could claim it for himself and not tell the others what he found. Golden chalice? Sweet! Since the PC found it on his own, he doesn’t need to share.

At the end of this week’s session I took one of my players into the other room (separate video call).

His PC hadn’t gone into another room, but instead was taking a vacation separate from the other PCs.

Not as exotic as a fancy golden chalice in the other room of a dungeon, but it was still something we felt should be separate.

The other PCs wouldn’t know what happened there unless they are told. Additionally, watching it probably would’ve been boring for them and disruptive for the player whose PC was there.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

Mapping Methods

Room 2 of the Lich Shade dungeon drawn using graph paper with notes on it.
Room 2 of the Lich Shade dungeon drawn using graph paper with notes on it.

There a lot of different styles of DMing in D&D and other roleplaying games.

You can wing it and come to each session with very little prepared.

You can come up with the adventure for each session in the week before.

You can also do what I do, make up the entire campaign before starting it.

Between each session I have almost no creative work to do for D&D. My campaign has been running for close to three years now and I’ve only had to design one adventure out of about a dozen since then.

It’s nice. I don’t need to spend extra time on the game for me and my friends to have a lot of fun.

I have started to run into a few issues though.

When I wrote the campaign I imagined my group would still manage to meet in person.

That proved to be horribly wrong. We have in person sessions about once a year now.

When I drew all my maps they looked like the one pictured above. I’d make them on a piece of yellow-green graph paper.

When they reached a room I’d draw with a wet-erase marker on a battle mat I brought to each session.

When the players defeated the monsters in one room I’d erase and draw the next room.

Dry erasing was easy, but creating good maps in our current system is a little difficult.

My group now plays over the internet using an internet browser program called Roll20.

Roll20 is really great. It has everything a tabletop has. You can even turn on a feature to see your dice roll across the table.

However, I can’t just grab a pen and draw on my monitor as easily as I draw on the battle mat used previously.

I suppose I could do that if I was used to creating digital images, but I’m not.

Instead I’ve taken to making lame looking maps or using a cool mapping software piece called GridMapper.

The second room of the Lich Shade dungeon made using GridMapper.
The second room of the Lich Shade dungeon made using GridMapper.

GridMapper is extremely simple. You pretty much just click to change stuff.

I can easily build maps in GridMapper. They don’t look amazing because it doesn’t come with preset images like trees and stuff, but they’re functional just like my dry erase mat.

GridMapper has one issue, it has a maximum image size. Easy to get around though, I just make two images and glue them together for really big rooms.

I’m slowly converting all my old pencil maps into GridMapper maps for Roll20 now.

That’s it for now!

-Mister Ed

My Campaign World

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That’s a map of my campaign world which is physically based in a completely altered landscape north of the Caspian Sea.

Keeping with the theme of D&D Mondays, here is an introduction into the decisions I made while designing the campaign world that my players currently use.

The initial impetus for creating my campaign world came from the gods that are present in the D&D manuals. D&D has a few of its own pantheons and none of them make a great deal of sense to me when compared to real polytheistic religions.

Real religions have gods with relationships between each other. They are often members of the same family with a well known family tree. Stories and personalities exist for each of the gods.

D&D has no such relationships. Each god appears to be its own religion, making the pantheon of gods somewhat irrelevant. There is no well established mythology, and the bare facts that do exist will change based on which edition of D&D is played.

I much prefer the Greek pantheon. They were all related. They had stories about them. I understood why they did things. Best of all, everyone already knows about them! It’s actually required in USA schools to learn about them.

The problem with using the Greek gods in a D&D campaign is all the stuff associated with Greece in the myths. I didn’t want to switch to a real setting, only more realistic gods. So I changed the location of the gods.

Within my world, after the Trojan War, the gods realized that the Greeks couldn’t really handle the gods fighting over them. The gods moved west to the area around the Northern Caspian Sea and created new races to play with.

Elves, dwarves, halflings, and orcs were made for the gods to mess around with along with monsters and more humans. The new races were given far more magical power, so they could survive the gods’ attentions.

I significantly changed the geography around the North Caspian. I didn’t have any reason to do this beyond creative freedom. The name of my campaign world and the area north of the Caspian is called Cimmeria. This is actually what the ancient Greeks called it, so why not keep the name?

The current year in my campaign world is 396BC. The characters wouldn’t actually call it that, but for the sake of unambiguity, we’re using the Christian year system.

I simplified the month system. Every year lasts 360 days and every month lasts 30 days. The full moon is always on the 30th and the 1st of every month and the new moon is always on the 15th and 16th of every month. There are no weeks, instead there are “tendays.” This is just to make it simpler for me, so I don’t have to keep track of months, weeks, and moons. Also, yes, this is the way the world actually works in my campaign. The year is literally 360 days instead of just being measured that way.

Other pantheons do exist in my campaign (Persian, Egyptian, Indian, Norse), but don’t appear very often. Other cultures also exist outside of the ones in Cimmeria, but these other cultures are rarely featured in the sessions of the campaign.

The world is flat and the sun god’s chariot goes around the Earth every day. The other side of the world is inhabited by scary monsters and Atlas, who holds up the world. The planes (those other dimension things) are laid like pancakes on or around the earth. The typical image of Hell below and Heaven above fits very well.

Most of the cities in Cimmeria are city-states, but there are two exceptions. the Xorian Empire and the Aractrash Kingdom. The Xorian Empire has been expanding over the last hundred years. The Aractrash Kingdom has several cities within the Aractrashan Jungle. The jungle was united under one king around one hundred years ago.

That’s all the basic information of my campaign world. More to come later!

-Mister Ed