Out of Character

"Has anyone seen my D20?"


December 2016

Episode 86: Star Wars Destiny

In our latest episode I review the dice and card game Star Wars Destiny from Fantasy Flight.


Hoard of the Dragon Queen Tip

For those who don’t know the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module from Wizards of the Coast is pretty brutal. Right of the starting gate characters can and have been killed during the intro session when players find themselves rushing to aid a city under siege by an army of mercenaries, kobolds, and literally a dragon! Now I don’t hate this module by any stretch of the imagination, as a matter of fact I like it quite a bit. I know there is fair amount of hate out there because some players and DMs felt that the module forced players down a chute where death was the most likely outcome.

This to me is an example of why adventure modules need good DMs behind them. You need someone whose going to read through it, consider the party, and adjust the game as needed. When I ran our first session for the podcast I made some changes and adjusted the adventure to make it less lethal, while still keeping things challenging. We were playing with a party of five and nearly all of their characters were combat focused. One of them almost died within the the first minute of the first encounter.

There are tons of great bloggers out there who provide tips for running this module, so there’s already a wealth of information available online if you want to tweak the adventure. You could also listen to our playthrough  if you want to see what changes I made myself. What I want to propose is different than simply altering the adventure.

Run the module as written and lets say your entire party dies or only one or two characters makes it out alive shall we? Now that might frustrate some players but assuming everyone is game for more have them whip up new characters with direct links to the old ones, and the survivor can join up with the new party. Now the new player characters have a direct link to the previous events and an obvious reason for wanting to pursue the antagonists. Obviously preface that first game by warning players that the module you’re running is going to be lethal, don’t just spring it on them. You might consider bumping the second group of player characters up to level three as well just to give them a bit of buffer against another party wipe.

Anyway that was just a thought that came into my head and I thought it might be worth sharing.

Here’s a link to episode one of our playthrough of Hoard of the Dragon Queen if you’re interested:

The Terror of Haverford Review

A week or so back I purchased a PDF copy of The Table Titans adventure module Terror of Haverford, and I’m really glad that I did because it is great.I don’t want to spoil it for potential players so don’t worry I won’t be giving away any big plot elements here. This is just going to serve as a general overview of the adventure. For starters, the adventure was written by Jeffrey Ludwig and illustrated by Scott Kurtz.

I really enjoy Scott Kurtz’s artwork and the pieces he did for this module are great conveying a sense of humor without being silly. At the same time they serve to make it feel more like a classic module you could find on a shelf in a game store sans ancient cheese powder stains. If you’re a family friendly DM looking for something for a younger player set I think the artwork is ideal. The module is free of the gore and “sexy armor” that sometimes runs amok in the rpg world which I appreciate. There are useful maps of the village of Haveford and other surrounding areas provided which makes it easy to establish the setting and where things are quickly.

Now that we’ve gotten talk of the art out of the way lets dive into the module itself shall we? Jeffrey Ludwig did a great job of creating the module while avoiding two things I absolutely cannot stand. Players are not railroaded into taking a single line of action, and it isn’t boring in any way shape or form. From beginning to end this module is fun and engaging for the players. Fans of the Table Titans webcomic will be happy to know that while the adventure is set in the same universe, with the adventure taking place in and around Haverford you’re not just retracing their steps.

The adventure starts with the party arriving at Haverford to find the village choked with refugees from the surrounding area. The description provided does a great job of conveying just how dire the conditions in the village have become. Players are confronted with an obvious problem from the start that serves to drive the pivot of the story home. Rumors of savage attacks in the area and some mysterious lurking terror further fuel the player’s imaginations.

One of my favorite things about this adventure is that it is extremely adaptable to the style of play for almost any gaming group. Early on the party is given the opportunity to prove their worth to the local Sheriff Carraway Blackshield by performing a number of tasks his men have been unable to see to. What I love is that this doesn’t function like a video game where you must complete a certain number of side quests for an npc before being allowed to carry on with the story.You can choose to complete as many or as few of these tasks as you choose to, and the penalty for choosing to ignore them completely isn’t devastating. You will be rewarded with better equipment and respect in the eyes of the Sheriff if your party completes a sufficient number of these tasks. If you ask me though the real reward is getting to learn more about Haverford and what has been going on in the surrounding area.

The adventure itself is divided into three parts and each one has a clear function to serve the story, but players have a huge amount of freedom in how they choose to pursue them. Part one could make up an entire night’s gaming or they might charge right through it. Now if the party charges on ignoring everything except their ultimate goal…they’re probably going to fail to complete the module. I like modules that function a bit like a buffet, players can choose what they like and ignore what they dislike. Terror of Haverford does this extremely well as players pick and choose which quests and leads to follow up on.

Ultimately the adventure unfolds giving you a few different possible scenarios. There’s a bit of an urban campaign, a bit of dungeon crawling, mysteries to uncover, and plenty of evil butts in need of a good kicking.

If someone has decided to give Dungeons & Dragons because they enjoy reading Table Titans this is an ideal module for players and DMs alike. It is written for a party of four first-level players and is a great jumping off point for a regular campaign. Depending on the party and their choices I’d say you can get at least 2 or 3 sessions out of this module. Selling for $9.99 it is a great value and something that I think players can have a lot of fun with.

Here’s a link to the download if you choose to purchase it:

Episode 85: Curse of Strahd 2 Funeral Rites

The party returns for round 2 of our run through the Curse of Strahd adventure module.

Episode 84: Star Trek Adventures

After reviewing the playtest materials for the new STar Trek rpg I felt the need to share some of my thoughts. Please, only listen to this if you are prepared to listen to me talk about how much I like Star Trek for the better part of an hour.

Episode 83: Star Wars Counter Force 2

Our Star Wars campaign makes a brief comeback in what will probably be the the last installment of the series. Apologies for the audio quality, I know it is pretty bad. I’ve done my best to clean it up and this is the result. At the end of the day none of us are in love with Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG, and at least one of the players actively dislikes it.

As the podcast moves forward we’ll be cutting out anything that doesn’t feel like something we want to carry on with. That said, if people cry out for more Counter Force we might try to revive it with a different system to power the campaign. Out of Character is very much about what our listeners want, so if you want more Counter Force leave a comment.

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