The latest episode of the podcast is up, we decided to start a run through a classic adventure module that has been adjusted to work with 5th edition rules. Three characters face off with the dangers in The Lost City.
Here’s my version of an Elder Brain… a mind flayer city’s god-like center of attention.
I made it a Challenge 22 legendary creature, with lair and regional effects. It spawns a brain golem, a challenge 5 creature with mind blasting powers as well as slam attacks. This can make for a dangerously nasty encounter.
Let me know what you think!
Last month I walked into a Barnes and Noble a few miles away from my house, strolled right into the audiobook section, nabbed a copy of Felicia Day’s memoir
You’re Never Weird on the Internet [Almost]
. I also picked up a copy of Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG and some neat little bookmarks that look like pickles because I had a gift cards. Judge me if you must. I tore the plastic wrap off in the parking lot and I immediately started listening to it on the drive home.
Normally I don’t buy non-fiction books, and whenever I do they’re usually related to roleplaying games somehow. I’m also certain this is the first memoir I’ve ever sought out. I also don’t normally buy audiobooks, in fact every other audiobook I own is one from the Harry Potter series, and the only CD I listen to these days is my Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. So why did I feel the need to buy this one? Because I was interested in learning more about Felicia Day, and I thought it would be cool to drive around hearing her tell her own story. She’s an interesting person who does amazing things by combining the wonderful nerdy ability to throw all of yourself into a thing you love to do, and her own unique 4.0 gpa having, dual majoring, gaming, asskicking self.
The book takes you through her childhood being home schooled by her mom and how that unusual approach to education helped her become the person she is today. She also describes other major life events such as her initial exposure to the online world and how it allowed her to find her tribe, her college years, how she became an actress, her time spent playing World of Warcraft, how she created The Guild, and how she made Geek & Sundry. I was enthralled every step of the way and I was actually sad when the audiobook ended. Seriously. Like in the Madeline books when the narrator says “That’s all there is, there isn’t any more” sad. This book not only taught me a lot about Felicia Day and her journey, it inspired me to try and be more like her and to achieve things.
Whether you’re a fan of her work from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, The Guild, Geek and Sundry, The Flog, Co-Optitude, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or any of her other assorted appearances in media, or you’re just into all things that are awesome and nerdy you owe it to yourself to experience this book. If you’re like me and you like the idea of driving around with Felicia Day telling you her life story then buy the audiobook.
Last week my friend Jessica invited me over to her place to try out her newly purchased copy of The Witcher Adventure Game. I’m aware of the video game series, and I’ve seen one or two videos of it being played online but I’ve never actually played it myself. Lacking familiarity with source material has never stopped me from trying out a game though, and I dove into it with my usual excitement.
The game is made by Fantasy Flight, and as you’d expect the production quality is very high. It comes with four plastic miniatures of the characters you can play as, as well as tons of well illustrated little curiosities one would expect from a Fantasy Flight game. The most striking visual element to my mind is the board itself, which is vast, highly detailed, and sets the tone for the world perfectly. Seeing our miniatures darting between these locations made me feel like we were engaged in an epic adventure.
So what the heck is The Witcher Adventure Game all about? Well players take on the roles of one of four characters from the video game: Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher), Yarpen Zigrin (Dwarf), Tris Marigold (Magic User), or Dandelion (Bard). Each of the characters are entirely unique, and they play radically differently so your experience will vary if you play Yarpen one game and Dandelion the next. Yarpen is a combat machine, able to deal out more punishment than any of the other characters on the board. Yarpen employs four unique companions that allow him to utilize a number of mechanics to shape the playing field in his favor, Tris commands powerful magic that make her unpredictable and highly effective (She killed a dragon, one of the most powerful monsters in the game.), and Dandelion is just plain tricky.
During your turn you can take up to two actions which are divided between traveling, investigating, developing your character’s abilities, resting, and a unique action that varies depending on which character you choose to play. Traveling is exactly what it sounds like, moving between any two adjacent locations. Resting allows you to heal your injuries and recover to ensure they don’t worsen. Developing allows you time enhance your character with potions, items, abilities, or spells by choosing cards from their unique decks.Investigating allows you to draw from the investigation decks, there are three, and gives you another chance to earn victory points. You could draw anything from a card that gives you additional VP for defeating a monster to more complex cards that given you additional quests.
The player’s primary goal is to complete the quest cards they choose at the start of the game, you begin with one and depending on your preference the game ends when any player completes either 3 or 5 of their quests. If you want a longer game go for 5 quest cards, but we ended it with 3 and our game lasted several hours. The cards in the quest decks detail dozens of unique adventures for the characters to embark on during the game. You might be breaking up bandit hoards, investigating lost ships, or trying to kill an evil mage. The flavor text on the cards creates an interesting story for your game so there is a great deal of replay value. Aside from your primary quest the cards also have side quests, which allow your character to earn the victory points they’ll need to win. Some are as simple as visiting a certain location, others require your to invest resources, and others ask you to do both. You can complete a main objective without doing any side quests, but you’ll only earn a fraction of the possible victory points. Each of the characters, except for Yarpen, have their own unique deck of quest cards. Yarpen gets to pick his cards out of Geralt and Dandelion’s decks, so he has a bit of an advantage there.
Now there’s more to the game then just running around and completing quests. There are all sorts of perils that are going to get in your way as you make your way across the board. Monsters that are divided into bronze, silver, and gold based on their difficulty roam the land attacking travelers and making menaces of themselves. Mostly you’ll encounter the bronze monsters, and the silver ones will appear from time to time, gold monsters almost never make it onto the board and when they do you’ll see why. They are hugely powerful and can easily defeat you if you are unprepared. The Witcher will have the easiest time with gold monsters, but as other characters grow in power any of them can tackle a gold with a bit of luck.
There are also perils that you will have to contend with. A lot. Whenever your character is forced to face a peril you’ll draw from a deck of cards for a random effect. Fantasy Flight did a great job here as there’s a lot of variety in these cards, if they were all just “Lose 2 VP” the game would have suffered greatly, but they aren’t. Some just force you to lose resources, others place tougher monsters on the board, and there are even a few that have no effect. If you choose to travel twice in one turn you will be forced to contend with one of these cards, so it limits travel and adds a nice push your luck mechanic to the game.
The Witcher Adventure Game is a very well put together product and it employs several mechanics that work well in other games. The monsters popping up and piling in certain locations were very reminiscent of Arkham Horror and Elder Sign. The victory point tracker and the quest cards reminded me of the similar mechanics employed in Lords of Waterdeep.
While this is a great game out of the box there are a couple of suggestions I’d make to help improve it. This game begs for expansions. Adding monsters would be my first suggestion as the bronze monsters left everyone at the table feeling less than impressed. Defeating them wasn’t very difficult, and they just weren’t very interesting to engage with. A few of the players in our game also voiced the opinion that they’d like to see more characters from the video game made into playable characters for this game. It might also be interesting to see a cooperative quest mechanic added, give all of the players a shared responsibility on epic quests that will earn all of the victory points, but will change the rest of the game drastically should they fail. There should also be more of a downside to suffering wounds. Death has no teeth in the game, in fact characters can’t even die. The player controlling Tris Marigold suffered some severe wounds in an early round of our game and spent the next few rounds recovering, but that was about the worst any of us ever suffered. You can carry around wounds for the entire game, and never really take any backlash for it. Adding a mechanic as simple as “Fester” to the peril deck that causes you draw a peril card or something for each wound on your character card will make people prioritize treating their injuries. Death wouldn’t really work as it would force characters out of the game for the night.
Overall The Witcher Adventure Game is a fun way to spend and evening, and a fantastic primer for some more involved games like Arkham Horror and Lords of Waterdeep. For fans of The Witcher this is a must play, for everyone else I’d still suggest trying it out as I enjoyed the hours we spent playing immensely.