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The Daily D4

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Today’s Daily D4 features a game I just picked at while I was out today, and some thoughts I’d like to share about an RPG campaign I ran recently. Also I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone a safe and happy new year. Hopefully it will be a year filled with lots of great games for everyone.

Mars Needs Mechanics

Nevermore Games has put out some great products, but I’ve wanted to try Mars Needs Mechanics ever since I saw it on Kickstarter a while back. Set in the city of London in 1873 the players take on the roles of one of the British Empires Aether Mechanics. Since the Queen has tasked the British Royal Academy of Space Exploration with launching an expedition to Mars within the year they’re planning to host a series of competitions to find the best mechanic in the empire to join the crew. The crew will need a mechanic who can build anything and everything that they might need on Mars quickly, efficiently, and with minimal resources. Remember this is 1873 so the crew can’t use a 3D printer when they need a wrench, they’ll have to improvise. So how do players win a chance to join the Mars bound crew? Well they’ll have collect resources, invent all sorts of useful gadgets, and maintain a steady flow of wealth while hoarding the most useful components they can get their hands on. So what sorts of things do you get to build with all of your assorted bits? Well it’s a steampunk fan’s pleasure buffet to be certain, everything from X-ray goggles and clockwork roosters to fully functional automatons. All of your inventions offer different advantages in game, but they’re also going to eat into your resources so choose what you build carefully. As an added bonus for fans of Nevermore Games it comes with an exclusive card for Chicken Caesar: Fowl Play.

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Bloodshed in the Temple of Bahamut

A few days ago my friends Sebastian and Jessica came over and we played a two players RPG session that I made up on the moment. It turned out pretty well, and it was surprisingly different from any campaign I’ve run in the past. I’m a big fan of mysteries in RPG campaigns and the employment of subterfuge, riddles, and puzzles. When I was just starting out as a GM I tried to use those things on more than one occasion and found that they tended to confound players and take them out of the game, so I gravitated away from them.

Dracker and Jessa, a dragonborn rogue on the run from his clan and Jessa a human paladin of Avandra both found themselves in Waterdeep at the start of the game. Dracker was hiding out from the members of his clan who were trying to hunt him down and punish him for dishonoring the clan. Jessa had been hired on at a number of temples to assist in training others who showed some promise in combat, and who might go on to become paladins themselves one day. They were both invited to the temple by the head priest of Bahamut, who revealed that three of the temples inhabitants had been murdered in as many nights.

The game took on a murder mystery tone and both players seemed to have a good time unraveling the mystery of what was going on in the temple. They spent several hours searching the victim’s rooms for clues, interrogating a disgraced brother in the dungeons, looking over bodies in the catacombs, and wiping out a demon worshiping cult whose members had been sacrificing the brothers to open a portal to a demonic plane. The last and only encounter that occurred during the night took place deep beneath the temple. The duo found themselves facing off against a trio of cultists and an assortment of demons that had already been summoned to serve them.

Luckily they encountered the spirit of one of the murdered brothers who ventured down into the catacombs with them, and helped them clear out the demons. In the end thanks to the blessings of Bahamut and Avandra they managed to wipe out the demons and restore the sanctity of the temple by completing a cleansing ritual. It was so much fun that I’m thinking of developing it into a complete adventure module so other people can use it. It’s also inspired me to use more clue gathering in my campaigns because I think the experience taught me how to do so more effectively.

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The Daily D4 of July

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Today’s Daily D4 is a bit of silly fun in honor of the holiday, I hope everyone has a happy Independence Day and gets to play a game in the midst of all the barbeques and outdoor activities.

The Founders

In the city of Waterdeep four of the masked lords must delve deep into Undermountain to root out a danger that threatens to destroy their city and everyone within its walls. Red Wizards of Thay have somehow found their way into the dungeons beneath Waterdeep, and from there they plan to launch an attack overrunning the city with demons and other arcane threats. Only The Founders can move in time to prevent their wicked scheme from coming to fruition.

Benjamin Franklin is a Warforged Artificer

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Molly Pitcher is a Human Fighter

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Thomas Jefferson is a Half-Elf Bard

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George Washington is a Halfling Warlord

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The Daily D4

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Happy Easter everyone, here’s today’s does of the Daily D4!

Revenants

There are a ton of fantastic races to play in Dungeons and Dragons, but none of them are quite like the Revenant. These animated souls occupy the same bodies that were theirs in life, raised from the dead to carry out a task. The Raven Queen is the only being with the power to create one of these undead avengers, but she sometimes negotiates with others and creates a revenant on their behalf. The story potential for the revenant is really the thing that draws me to the race more than anything else. Who raised them from the dead? What is the task they’ve been brought back for? Are they the only revenant currently walking the world? There are so many interesting questions about them that can be woven into a campaign’s story I think they make an excellent option.

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Cockatrice

There’s something very entertaining about the idea of an enormous partly reptilian chicken that can turn people to stone, and that’s exactly what the monstrous cockatrice is. The first time I ran a game of Dungeons and Dragons a cockatrice was responsible for turning the only child of the local noble into a statue, and the party was tasked with hunting in down and gathering some of its feathers which could be used to concoct an antidote if they found the beast. They’re not terribly powerful but the threat of being petrified adds an extra element of danger to any encounter with a cockatrice that players and GMs can enjoy. You can actually trace their lore back through the centuries and they are mentioned many times in medieval manuscripts Images of these strange creatures even appear on buildings dating back to the 14th century.

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The Daily D4

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Gnome Tree Topper

Every year I buy a new decoration for our Christmas tree, and this year I finally found the perfect tree topper that has been eluding me for so long. At a glance you might think that it’s a Santa Clause decoration but it is in fact a gnome. Jade spotted this while we were shopping at Target and it seemed like the perfect addition to our tree. Gnomes seem like one of the Dungeons and Dragons races that are often ignored in favor of humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings.

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Star Wars Saga Edition: Threats of the Galaxy

While I was browsing through the used books at Phantom Games here in Pittsburgh I happened upon a copy of Threats of the Galaxy. Since the books have gone out of print they’re somewhat difficult to find, since I’ve been running campaigns using this system as play-by-posts for the last few years this book has been on my wish list for quite a while. Most of the source books explain the details of the eras during which a campaign could be set such as the Old Republic, the Clone Wars, the Dark Times, the Rebellion, or the Legacy era but Threats of the Galaxy is a bit different.

Rather than defining an era of the Star Wars universe Threats of the Galaxy presents a collection of iconic NPCs. Assassins, Dathomiri witches, bounty hunters, Corellian Sand Panthers, soldiers, Hutt gangsters, and droids all have their place within the pages. Aside from a useful array of NPCs there are several features that players could find quite interesting. The character traits necessary to make a Bith character are included, as well as several new talents and pieces of equipment.

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Gaming Arts and Crafts Corner

Ever since I started playing Heroclix again at my friendly local gaming store I’ve been adding more and more of the figures to my collection with each passing week. Back in college my roommate introduced me to the game, but until recently I hadn’t player for quite some time. After a couple of sealed tournaments and buying a few boosters on my own I’ve got more than sixty new figures who are quickly piling up on my desk. Part of the appeal of Heroclix is that the figures make a nice display piece, but I don’t want to be forced to have them all scattered around my house. I have a nice carrying case for my Dungeons and Dragons miniatures, but the bases of of the Heroclix are to large to fit into the foam inside of it. The simplest solution would of course be to cut the foam to shape but I’d still fill the case up and find myself being forced to buy a new one every few months if I did that.

It seems as though most players go out and buy plastic containers that they then use to store their figures. In fact I still have an old plastic tub of older figures upstairs. Hardware stores and craft stores have plastic containers with dividers built into them readily available for a fair price, but those don’t appeal to me for a couple of reasons. They’re all pretty simple looking so if you want to make them look a bit nicer all you can do is put stickers on them or find some other more creative way to decorate them. There’s also the risk of damaging your figures. Even with the dividers there just isn’t enough room in most of them to house every one of your figures, so they end up jammed together rattling around like the Juggernaut in an office complex. Inevitably this will damage some of them, it might bend a delicate feature or snap off a limb, both of which could prove very upsetting if it’s one of your favorites.

In an attempt to create something more pleasing to the eye that will provide better protection I broke out my arts and crafts supplies yesterday so I could set to work. For the initial attempt I decided to try and make a container for the Kaine figure which was included in the Amazing Spider-Man set. Kaine has always been an interesting character from the Spider-Man family and I had a clear picture of what I wanted his container to look like. I glued five pieces of cardboard together into a box shape, then I pasted some images of Kaine onto the outside to cover up the plain cardboard. The final result was very pleasing to the eye and I think I’ve ended up with something that’s pretty unique. Most of the images I chose were from “The Face of Kaine” issue, that’s always been one of my favorite story lines for the character. We finally see what Kaine has been hiding beneath that mask for so many years, and it contains what is hands down my favorite interaction between Peter Parker and Kaine that has ever appeared in any comic to date.

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Here’s an image of the finished container alongside of the Kaine figure itself just to give you an idea of the scale size.

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I apologize for the blurriness of this image, I kept trying to get a better one but I couldn’t manage it. This is the underside of the base. I didn’t want to leave it blank so I put a picture of Kaine’s face on it instead.

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This is a word bubble from the same issue I used for most of these images. I really liked it because it explains the character’s motivations and state of mind so well with just a few words that I couldn’t resist having it on the box. You can also see the original Scarlet Spider swinging onto the scene. These two characters had so many ties to one another I though he deserved a small place, especially given Kaine’s recent adventures.

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Running along the of this side you’ll see Kaine’s face while the rest is given over to his cape and the title of my favorite Kaine issue. It was a cool font, and I think it’s a good throwback to when so much of Kaine’s past was a complete mystery.

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A rear shot that gives us a clear shot of Kaine as he unmasks for the first time ever!

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Kaine’s costume/armor is cool, it’s god this look of corrupted webbing that makes it really interesting visually. I finished this side with a nice shot of his armor and a bold declaration by Kaine.

SO there you have it my first finished container, which Kaine is now resting in peacefully. I’ve already got several more blank boxes already finished, but I haven’t printed out any comic panels for them yet since my printer decided to run out of ink. When I finish them I may post more images.

Obviously carrying around dozens of these containers isn’t practical so I’m also planning to convert this larger box into a storage unit for the smaller containers. It’s also going to get the artistic treatment so that it isn’t plain and boring looking.

Just in case any of you would like to make some of your own I provided a list of the materials I used to make mine and step by step instructions. It’s a very simple process and it only takes about an hour, a lot of that time is spent waiting for the glue to dry so that your cardboard will hold together. The gaming community is filled with so many talented people I’m sure many of you will be able to improve on my simple method, but I’m still proud of it and happy with the final results.

Pleased be warned that this project does require you to use sharp tools so be careful while you are doing so. If any younger readers want to give this a try you should ask your parents to help you out with the actual cutting.

Time: Approximately 30-45 Minutes per container

Tools and Materials
1) Scissors.
2) X-acto knife.
3) Elmer’s Glue, or any other sort of glue I find Elmer’s worked very well though.
4) Cardboard, I used some I had around the house from a couple of packages that were delivered.
5) A ruler.
6) Comic book panel printouts, choose your favorites images of the character you’re making the container for.
7) A cutting mat, or any stable flat surface you can cut against without damaging it.

Instructions

1) If necessary your scissors cut the cardboard your are planning to work with until you can lay it flat on your cutting surface.

1) Using your X-Acto knife rim the edges of your cardboard along a straight line so that you are working with a straight edge. You don’t need to worry about measuring it at this point in the process but cutting a larger piece will leave you with more material to work with.

2) Using your X-Acto knife cut out a square of card board measuring 2 inches wide by 2 inches long, this will be used as the base for your container. If you are making a base for a larger figure you may want to increase the size, I’ve most of mine on this size though and so far they’ve all fit.

3) Using the knife cut out four pieces of cardboard measuring 2 inches wide by four inches tall. These will be used to make the sides of your container.

4) Trace a thin line of glue along one of the exterior edges of the bottom of your container, and the interior bottom edge of one of your walls. Rub the glue with your finger, this makes the glue a bit stickier and will result in it getting a firmer hold once it has dried. Press the wall and the base together and hold them for one to two minutes, just long enough for the glue to begin to stick. Once dry set this piece down and allow it to continue drying for approximately ten minutes. If you;re working on multiple cases this is a great time to cut more cardboard or begin gluing your next piece.

5) Once the glue has dried completely glue your remaining sides to the base of your container, again holding each of them and allowing the glue to dry for several minutes before gluing the next side into place.

6) Once you have your base and all of the sides glued into place start cutting the comic panels you’ve chosen to decorate it into the proper shape. You may want to use a single image on each side, or you could do a collage of images all over the sides. This is a chance to express your creativity and do something really unique.

7) Once you’ve cut your images into the proper size and shape start gluing them onto the walls and base of your container. You may want to glue one side at a time, just to allow the glue to have an opportunity to dry.

8) By this time you should have your finished container, deposit your figure inside and enjoy!

As today is National Dice Rolling Day I hope everyone will give their favorites a quick roll in honor of the holiday. Have a great day everyone!

The Daily D4

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Since today is Halloween and all I managed to roll is a one, I decided to devote today’s installment of the Daily D4 to one of my favorite tabletop monsters.

 The Purple Worm

One of the first monsters Dungeons and Dragons the purple worm is a massive beast that burrows beneath the ground before bursting out of the earth. Its massive jaws are wide enough to allow it to swallow up a man whole.Whenever the purple worm’s prey isn’t obliging enough to venture down its gullet it will attempt to sting the offender with the stinger at the end of its tail. Lacking eyesight the purple worm relies on its ability to sense vibrations and pure dumb luck to hunt.  It might be because I saw Tremors when I was a kid but the thought of giant monsters lurking underground scares the heck out of me. They’ve appeared in every edition of Dungeons and Dragons to date, and there’s no sign that that is ever going to change.

Feel free to give your favorite monsters a bit of praise in the comments, and have a happy Halloween.

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The Daily D4

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Today is a very special installment of the Daily D4, complete with two treats.

King of Tokyo Halloween Expansion

In honor of Halloween I thought we could discuss something that is a perfect choice for any tabletop on this holiday. King of Tokyo pits giant monsters, robots, and aliens against one another in a pitched battle to become the ruler of Tokyo. The game incorporates dice rolls to determine which combatant emerges victorious from each battle. Decks of cards are also brought into play to enhance, or debilitate, the creatures at key moments. It’s a fairly straight forward game devoted to smashing up a city and seeing if a giant gorilla can in fact defeat and robot the size of a skyscraper. A few expansions have been released, but the most Halloween expansion is my favorite by far.

The expansion comes with two Halloween themed monsters, the jack-o-lantern headed Pumpkin Jack and Boogey Woogey, a terrifying mass of shadows. There’s also a set of six orange and black dice as well as a set of costume cards that enhance the monster at your command. If you’re too old to trick or treat and you’d like to take a break from zombies, vampires, and ax wielding maniacs I suggest King of Tokyo with the Halloween expansion.

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Zombie Dice

Zombie dice is a simple dice rolling game that can be explained in seconds and played in a matter of minutes. In this game the players take on the role of a hoard of zombies, each of whom are trying to be the first to devour thirteen brains.The game comes with a number of six sided dice colored green, yellow, or red. Each of the dice are marked with foot prints, brains, or shotgun blasts. Rolling a foot print means one of your victims has fled, rolling a brain means you scored a brain, and rolling a shotgun means your zombie has been fired upon. Three shots to the head kill your zombie ending your turn and costing you all of those delicious brains. Zombie dice might sound simple, but there is a definite strategy element to it. The players must pull their dice randomly and the various colors indicate the amount of danger involved in rolling them. Green dice are the safest and have little risk, yellow represent a moderate amount of danger, while red are very likely to end up killing of an unwary zombie. Knowing when to stop rolling can determine who takes home the most brains, but that said sometimes taking a greater risk has its rewards.

Simple, fun, and easy to learn Zombie Dice is a perfect game to play when you’re looking for something that is sure to entertain without devouring your whole evening.

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The Daily D4

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I rolled another four today, lots of gaming goodies for you all today. Its probably because I have tomorrow off. Things sort of worked out into a Halloween themed Daily D4 oddly enough.

Outlive Outdead

Created by Paul Baldowski, Jason Jarvis, and WJ MacGuffin over at Happy Bishop Games this is the George Romero of zombie games as far as I’m concerned. I played this game for the first time a few months ago as a play-by-post with two very talented people I know over on Critical Failures. One of my favorite things about the system is you can adapt it to almost any time period, which is really exciting. The stone age, the wild west, and each of the World Wars are just a few of the options as well as the distant future. Your choice of period has a major impact as it helps determine what sort of equipment your characters will have available to them. Simply put fighting a horde of zombies with a spear is much harder than mowing them down with a phaser. Character creation is very simple, but it allows for layered storytelling and a lot of creativity.During our campaign I played a WWI survivor who suffered from flashbacks of what he’d witnessed during the war.

If you’re curious about the game there is a PDF of the playtest book available over at their website. It could be a great chance to get some friends together, have a few laughs, and try to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Playtest Book: http://happybishopgames.com/OO_PlaytestBook.pdf

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Nosferatu from Vampire the Masquerade

In White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade game players create vampire characters bound to one of the ancient clans, each of which afford them different specialties. Hands down my favorite clan is the Nosferatu. Back before vampires were charismatic, cultured, and sparkly they were inhuman monsters that had to rely on their cunning and their force of will to survive. The Nosferatu deal in information and make themselves invaluable to the other warring clans by supplying the secrets they use to blackmail one another.

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Dungeon World

My friend Phil introduced me to Dungeon World several months ago and since then I’ve played in two campaigns and GMed one myself. Dungeon World is one of those rare games that I think anyone can fall in love with within the first ten minutes of play. Character creation takes a matter of minutes, and some of the classic fantasy options are up for grabs. Clerics, wizards, thieves, fighters, druids, bards, paladins, and rangers are all options each with a selection of optional races that lend them special qualities. Bonds between your character and the rest of the party provide a fantastic opportunity for some simple roleplay that you can weave into a complex tapestry of story of time. Bonds can be resolved, replaced, or taken advantage of as the players make their way through the world that they help to create.

The system takes a bit of getting used but once you get your head around it the games terribly simple. Most actions fall into one of a few basic categories such as Defy Danger, Hack and Slash, Defend, Spout Lore, Volley, Parley, or Discern Realities. The game plays on a bit of a pendulum mechanic that drives players to think on their feet while the GMs use their own secret moves.

Honestly if you haven’t played Dungeon World yet do yourself a favor and go play it right now. It’s not something you’ll want to miss out on.

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The Pirates of the Spanish Main Card Game

We picked this game up a few weeks ago, largely due to the fact that we love the RPG of the same title. I instantly fell in love with this game, and it’s actually more like three games in one. Each player controls pirate captains and attempt to arrange the cards so that their captains gain wealth and fame while the others undergo one tragedy after another. The best part is none of the players know who controls which of the captains! SO you have to play your cards carefully to try and keep the others from guessing which pirates are sailing under your colors, while trying to give them every advantage possible.

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A Halloween Treat

There aren’t too many holidays that I actually celebrate, more or less I limit myself to Halloween and Christmas because those are the only ones I’ve ever really enjoyed. Much as I enjoy Christmas though Halloween is a gamer’s holiday. Ghouls, goblins, and what basically amounts a massive LARP all make October unique every year. I know most folks wouldn’t consider getting in costume to go trick or treating a LARP but I think there are enough similarities to make the comparison stick. Some people put so much effort into planning out and making their costumes it makes the whole seem a bit daunting. I’m not a seamstress and I can’t make costumes much as I like them so I sit it the costume part of the holiday most years, but I really enjoy seeing the sorts of things people who do take part come up with. So Halloween is essentially a nationwide LARP centered around a simple fetch quest.

To honor the holiday I really wanted to do a Halloween themed podcast, but the questions of what game to use was very irksome. A couple of White Wolf games were bandied about, after all what’s more appropriate for Halloween than vampires and werewolves? I even toyed with the idea of doing something completely original using FATE accelerated but I struggled to think of a theme.  Finally I managed to settle on something that I think our listeners will enjoy, but I’m not going to share that right now. I’m sorry but you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

I do however have a treat in the spirit of the holiday! To that end I am asking everyone who listens to the Out of Character podcast or reads the blog to vote for a game you’d like us to play in a special podcast. All you have to do is leave a comment here with the name of the game you’re choosing. Roleplaying Games or board games are both eligible so if you want us to play Zombie Dice rather than Castle Ravenloft that can happen. We’ll play whatever game gets the highest number of votes.

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