Today’s installment of the Daily D4 is all about Dungeons Dragons. Races, books, adventures, and fun galore.
The very first time I played Dungeons and Dragons it was as part of a duo working to improve the conditions of a newly established settlement on the edge of the frontier. My wizard joined forces with a Goliath barbarian and together they set out to replenish the settlement’s dwindling water supply. Together the confronted a ferocious tribe of halflings, a water elemental, and a trio of subterranean races before their adventure came to an end. It was only one session of a campaign, but the experience left a fondness for the Goliath race that still remains to this day.
Goliaths are towering tattooed warriors who dwell on mountains in scattered tribes. They’re a highly athletic and extremely competitive race, they often engage in contests of strength and skill for the simple joy of proving their own prowess. Since they prefer living in untamed regions of the world they rarely come into contact with other races with the exceptions of dwarves and giants. Their relationship with dwarves can sometimes become adversarial as they may find themselves competing for territory and resources, the fact they sometimes serve giants who have been known to enslave dwarves does nothing to ease the tension between their races.
One of the most interesting aspects of Goliath culture is their worship of the primal spirits of nature and their ancestors. Those facets of their belief system lend themselves well to creating a character who utilizes one of the primal classes such as barbarians, shaman, druids, and seekers. If you’re thinking of giving a Goliath character a try I’d suggest making a fighter, barbarian, shaman, druid, warlord, or ranger. Utilize their great strength and constitution to wear down your opponents.
Death in Thay
The latest seasons of Dungeons and Dragons Encounters has gotten me excited about the program for the first time in a while. Death in Thay is set in the Forgotten Realms and it is the latest part of a far reaching event known as The Sundering which will alter the fate of Faerun. In this installment adventurers will find themselves contending with Szass Tam, the lich lord of Thay. The undead master of his Red Wizards are poised to seize control of the Sword Coast, and only the destruction of a powerful artifact called The Bloodgate can thwart them. It appears as though this will be a dungeon crawl with plenty of traps, monsters, and probably more than a few unexpected surprises lurking in wait to put an end to anyone who comes looking for The Bloodgate.
This season will pick up where Scourge of the Sword Coast left off so if you missed out on that event you might want to pick up campaign notes from someone who did attend. I’ve tried Encounters a few times but I’ve never been all that impressed with the results, the adventures always sound very interesting but I think they’re really dependent on having a good group to play which given the nature of the program isn’t a certain thing. I also don’t care for the near total lack of anything outside of combat that I experienced during the events I attended. However the adventures themselves all seem very well done and I think that with the right group they would be fantastic.
If you’re interested in Death in Thay you might also want to try some of the more recent adventures that have lead up to it. Murder in Baldur’s Gate, Legacy of the Crystal Shard, and Scourge of the Sword Coast are all available in one form or another.
In an effort to clear out the remaining fourth edition books on their shelves one of my friendly local gaming stores started selling all of their fourth edition books at a forty percent discount. Underdark gives detailed descriptions of the subterranean realm and the creatures who dwell in the darkness in the world below. Mind flayers, drow, beholders, duergar, grimlocks, and troglodytes are all afforded their own special descriptions and their places in hierarchy the Underdark are all fully explored.
The history of the Underdark and the secrets behind its creation are also unveiled. Within these pages you’ll learn of The King Who Crawls and how his battle with a Primordial and his efforts in the aftermath helped make the Underdark what it is today.
The tiers of the Underdark are divided into the Shallows, the Deeps, the Feydark, and the Shadowdark. The Shallows are the tunnels and caverns in the Underdark closest to the surface world and they are also the least dangerous region of the realm. The denizens of the Shallows shun the light and view those entering their territory as easy prey, potential slaves, or intruders. The Deeps lurk far below the Shallows in the unknowable darkness and the dangers that loom their are far greater than any that might be encounter elsewhere. It is here the mind flayers feast on the brains of their captives, and it is also where the cities of the drow unfold like spider webs threatening to ensnare any who wander to close to them. The Feydark is a beacon of light in the Underdark, albeit perhaps a dim one. It is here that you will find the subterranean realms occupied by gnomes who dwell underground, forests blooming with luminescent moss and fungus, and fomorians who rule kingdoms throughout the Feydark. Lastly the Shadowdark which is by far the darkest, dankest, and most unearthly of all the regions within the entire Underdark. Anyone who find themselves wandering its frozen halls will be confronted by deadly servants of darkness, and they might even come face to face with the King Who Crawls himself much to their misfortune. Some say Lathan, the River of Souls passes through the Shadowdark ferrying the dead to the Raven Queen.
There are some interesting adventures outline in the book, including one that presents your characters with the interesting choice of choosing to abandon their own race in favor of becoming a Drow. In all it makes for a great addition to any dungeon master’s collection, fans of drow or for anyone who happens to be curious about the realm.
Whenever I got the Phantom in the Attic, a friendly local gaming store, I check out the used RPG books without fail. It’s a great way to find some materials that might never have crossed my path otherwise and I enjoy rescuing gaming materials that have been set aside by their previous owners. On my latest excursion I uncovered a curious pamphlet that I couldn’t resist buying. Jerimond’s Orb, written by Ree Soesbee, is one of several adventure boosters published by Alderac Entertainment Group. It’s designed for a party of four to six characters between levels two and four. In it the party find themselves under attack by a ferocious creature late one night after making camp somewhere outside of the peaceful village of Treefall. Rumors of strange misfortune befalling the prosperous village have been passing through the region for some time now, but no one had believed them until now.
The pamphlet is sixteen pages long and includes everything that you would need to run the adventure, with the exception of the Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition Players Handbook. A complete map of the village of Treefall, a description of the area, NPCs, an outline of the events, a new magical item, and even the monstrous creature who attacks the party are all found within. It originally retailed for $2.49, but I bought the used copy for less just a bit more than $2.00 which seems like a bargain considering the quality of the product.
AEG produced many more adventures besides Jerimond’s Orb including Castle Zadrian, Sundered Faith, Tomb of the Overseers, Against the Barrow King, Out of Body Out of Mind, Crypt of St. Betehsda, and Kurishan’s Garden. Personally I would love to see more people running with this idea of publishing simple well made pamphlets like these and circulating them through friendly local gaming stores. Publishing books is expensive and obviously you have to come up with enough material to make them worth that cost, but these could be produced so easily and at such a value to players. I’d like nothing better than to walk into a shop and see a display filled with these one day in the future.
If you enjoyed this edition of the Daily D4 then you might also enjoy the following Out of Character podcasts.
Episode 3 Waxing Heroic: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/105592-episode-3-waxing-heroic
Episode 8 Neverwinter, Pain and Grain Part One: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/111877-episode-8-neverwinter-pain-and-grain-part-1
Episode 9 Neveriwnter, Pain and Grain Part Two: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/112420-episode-9-neverwinter-pain-and-grain-part-2