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Fantasy Movies Missing This Summer

admin on June 30th, 2008

As the summer moves on, it seems that fantasy fans are missing out this year.  What is a fantasy fan to do?


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Chatty’s Review: The 4e Dungeon Master’s Guide

If you want a very good (albeit mostly positive) review of the 4e Core books, look no further than Martin Ralya’s. I don’t think I can beat it in terms of depth, style and entertaining values, but I’ll do my best to share my thoughts on the book in my own rambling style.

The latest edition of the Dungeon Master’s Guide has in common with its progenitor (Gygax’s lovely and quirky’s DMG) its title only.

Everything in the 4th Edition is focused on one thing and it’s DMing.

I have to agree with Martin that it is, bar none, the best DMG ever written and it’s a must read for all new or recent DMs.

As I was reading, I divided the book in 5 parts:

Adventure/Campaign/World design
DM tools
Quickstart World

Read the rest here:

Here is are some making of videos for Season 2 for BBC’s Robin Hood.

Beginning a world of your own can be scary. Even if you know how you want it to be, actually creating it can be daunting to the best DM. Of course you may only have a small idea what you want to create or just want to attempt this new venture so none of your players know the rules better than you. If you have no idea where to begin, a specific approach might be the key.

There are seven basic approaches according to the World Builder’s Guidebook from Wizards of the Coast. They are macroscopic, microscopic, sociological, character-based, situation-based, historical, and literary. Some of these are self-explanatory and others might be making your scratch your head. Let’s explore them a little so you better understand the approaches. Besides you might want to use one way now but find another that sparks other ideas. This could even mean you end up creating more than one world. And of course you can combine approaches to make the perfect world for you and your gaming group.

The macroscopic approach is where you would have the least idea what you want to do. You want to create a world and that’s all you know. If that is the case, keep watching my blog for the guide to do just that. The microscopic approach is almost the exact opposite. You start with a town, bog, something small that the PC’s will be moving around and build up. Some DM’s will even take an adventure they have played that is not affiliated with a specific setting and use it as their starting point. This way they don’t have to come up with the whole beginning. Or they change one aspect and go from there.

Sociological worlds are for someone who wants to base their world off a type of society or culture. Seafarers, nomads, Egyptians, Romans, etc are all examples of this. You can base the world off of a specific character or characters. This method is sort of a combination of other approaches because you will have a specific society or setting to focus on for the character.

If you want to use lots of hooks and concepts to grab a PC, the situation-based world is for you. Something unusual to make the PC’s go out and be adventurers. It could include magic working funny, dinosaurs, or other oddities that you may have only glimpsed in your gaming. Then there is the historical world. This is similar to situation-based but a little more specific. Here events that occur actually shape the world much the way a river will change the land it flows through. The literary approach for world building is the one where you want to use something from your favorite fantasy book in a campaign setting. Flattery is great so go for it. Just be careful of copyright infringements if you attempt to publish later on.

Of course which approach is best for you is the question you must answer. You can even combine more than one. You could have an oriental world where vampires rule. This would be an example of both the sociological and situation-based world combined. And yes you can use that if you want. I haven’t but it would make an interesting place to play. The creation is about what will grab your players and make them want to put a PC in this new, strange world and let them roam around meeting people and defeating bad guys. As the DM, it’s all up to you.

Confessions of a Dice Junkie

admin on June 24th, 2008

I am a dice junkie. I admit it. Ever since I began DMing D&D with friends I have loved dice. Yes I said DMing. I never played either. But when you have a bunch of friends that have never played themselves, with an exception of two who have no desire to learn the DM rules, you do it so the game can begin.
At first the excuse was that the DM needed a lot more dice than regular players. That is true to an extent. As the DM you are rolling for all the bad guys and sometimes more than one at a time. So having a lot of dice is a good thing to help with that. So I bought a few sets of dice and several extra ones that caught my eye. But as the years have gone by, and I haven’t played a game in about 10 years, I still can not go into a gaming store without browsing through the dice.
At this point I do try to limit myself by not buying random dice but full sets. You can easily spend a fortune on dice alone so there are some days that is hard to do. Not to mention that sometimes the colors or patterns on the individual dice are not sold in sets. Or at least in the store you see the individuals in. Course it could also be that the store breaks up some of the sets to make more money. I mean it’s possible since individual dice are more expensive per die than if you bought them in a set. I could be wrong too.
But sometimes you just can’t help yourself. You go in to the gaming store just to look around at the new books or figures and end up browsing the dice by the counter. And it’s not like you can skip looking at them. To make maters worse you find more than one complete set you like. And the next thing you know you have bought more dice. Honestly no two sets are alike although you do tend to buy a lot of the same color. Until you get bored with having all of one color and then branch out. It’s an obsession that will probably never end. And perhaps it shouldn’t. Showing them off is half the fun.

I have not played Dungeons and Dragons in many years. I still love the game and would like to get back into it. I even have some people who would be willing to be in my group when I do start back up. However it hasn’t happened yet. When I did play all those years ago, well I actually never played I DM’d right off the bat, I had a subscription to Dragon magazine and bought Dungeon magazine when I found one that had an adventure I wanted to throw at my players. And I could find the magazines at any major book store. However that is not the case anymore.
Since I got out of playing the game, I only occasionally look for the new magazines. But since the new edition is out I am highly interested in seeing what the new magazines have in store for DM’s and players. So today when I was out shopping, I decided to go to my local Barnes and Noble and pick up the new Dragon and maybe Dungeon magazine. I could not find either in the magazine section nor the D&D gaming section. I double checked to make sure I didn’t miss it too. I did that because the last time I looked for the magazines there and saw them, they were in the men’s sports section. That was weird because they used to be in the video game section.
Apparently Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns D&D, decided to stop selling the magazine in regular stores and only sell them in gaming stores. Or perhaps the regular book stores did not sell enough copies to continue selling the two magazines. But since there are so many magazines out these days I have trouble believing that might be the case. I even called the local Books and Co, another big book store, and they don’t carry the magazines either. Before Barnes and Noble existed I know I used to buy the two gaming magazines at Books and Co. It was disappointing to say the least. I know I can buy them at my local gaming store but some times it’s easier and faster to get it at a book store. Especially if the gaming store closes at 5 pm on a Sunday and the book store is open until 9.

Robin Hood: Show Me The Money Episode

admin on June 20th, 2008

Robin and the gang are at the castle trying to get in a room where the pact is supposed to be. When they can not get in right away, and the castle is waking up, Little John breaks down the door. The room is empty and dogs come again, like when they tried to break in to the strong room.

Back in the camp, the alarm goes off for someone to steal from. It turns out the man needs money to get his bride-to-be out of the servitude her father got her into prior to his death. Upon hearing the story, and the fee to get her back, Robin decides to pay off her debt. When the gang says no, he tells them that if they follow the money, they will find the pact. He also says they will fill the bottom of the box with sand so they do not completely give away all their money.

Alan has turned complete traitor and is telling the Sheriff and Gisborne the ways he can sneak into the castle so they can close them up. Marion threatens Alan to stop giving away all his secrets. Alan is the one who tells the Sheriff that the box belongs to Robin Hood. This delights the Sheriff because he has a bird cage he wants to show off. In view of the full public, he puts Robin’s money in it and knows that the gang is watching. They are upset over losing the money and not getting the pact. The knight they helped earlier, tries to kill the Sheriff when he is told he owes more money and Robin must save him.

Marion gets Gisborne to take her with him saying she needs to see a physician for her father. She is trying to find a way to warn Robin about the Sheriff’s plan to invade them instead. Robin and the gang are working on a plan to get in and save the knight’s love when Marion is caught and tells them that Alan is leading Gisborne and the Sheriff right into them. After sending her off, they decide that Alan needs a proper welcome.

Since Alan has told the Sheriff that Robin will have all kinds of warnings, Alan must go first. They kill the guards to the wagon and Alan and Gisborne get away on a single horse. Gisborne knows that someone told Robin and the gang they were coming. Robin decides to use the wagon and sneak in to stop Alan and rescue the girl.

Robin finds Alan and fights him, almost killing him. Marion walking through the castle, sees the two fighting in the kitchen and escapes Gisborne to stop Robin from killing Alan. She tells Alan he better not betray her because she just saved his life. When she goes to see her father, he will not move. Once she leaves, it is shown to be a guard who was killed by her father with her knife accidentally left behind. Her father has gone to get the pact for Robin. He almost gets caught and Robin walks in right before the Sheriff wakes up. They escape and meet up with the rest of the gang after they have taken the knight’s lady. They barely escape by Robin shooting the bags of gold in the bird cage and the guards leaving them alone to get as much money as possible.

Outside the castle gate, the priest they persuaded to help them earlier, catches Robin and threatens to kill him unless the knight’s lady is given back. Marion’s father interferes and Robin is forced to kill the priest. Unfortunately her father is stabbed in the heart by the priest. He dies and gives Robin a message to Marion. She is thoroughly distraught and tries to keep Gisborne at bay. Since her dagger was found near the dead jailer, Gisborne warns her she is no longer safe in the castle. He kisses her and she runs into her room. Robin is waiting to give her the message and asks her to come to the forest to live and she agrees. Back in the forest, Robin marries the knight and his lady.

The Ohio Renaissance Festival is one of my favorite events to attend every year. It has become a tradition with many of my friends to attend opening weekend every year. Unfortunately one of my favorite attractions for the festival is not there the first weekend because they are at another festival, The Swordsmen. Their comedy is great and even though at this point I know almost all their shows, I never tire of seeing them.

This part of one of their shows where they have men come up to learn how to become “men”. It is a crowd participation part of the show.

World Building for Role-Playing

admin on June 18th, 2008

Almost all game masters of role-playing games at some point want to create their own world for their group to have adventures in. It sounds like a neat concept because you can set up all the rules, have your own races and gods, whatever cultures or other ideas you think would be fun to play in. However creating it can also be daunting because you may not know where to begin. It might be much easier than you think.

World building can actually take years depending on many factors. Time, effort, how creative you can be each session you work on your world and various other things can determine just how long it does take you to create your own place. Building a world does not necessarily mean you hope to write the next best seller, but it might be a dream. It is a personal thing when you build a world; you are the highest god in this place that people will one day inhabit.

There are two basic ways to start and neither is better than the other. One is starting with the world itself and going to smaller and smaller sections as you create. The other is beginning with a town or city and expanding out. You can, of course, go with a combination of them; it is all up to the creator.
The best book I ever found to help is the Advance Dungeon and Dragons World Builder’s Guidebook. It is invaluable, I think, for when you get stuck or to give you ideas you might not have otherwise thought of. I am not sure if this book is still available, or has been updated for the newer editions of D&D, but it is here that I still go to create my own world for both role-playing and writing.

I will have several blogs on this topic. There will probably be several things you did not think of yourself and could even spark a new idea for a whole new world or something unique for the one you are already creating. I will use excerpts from the World Builder’s Guidebook, because as I said, it is the best I have seen. So stay tuned for more help to create the perfect world for your players.

Round Shield

If you fight round shield in SCA Armored Combat you will probably need to make one at some point. Yes they can be bought but that is one of the more expensive ways to go about having one. You can actually make one fairly inexpensively and it will suffice for your fighting and training.

Start with a 3/4″ or 1/2″ piece of plywood. You don’t have to measure it to be perfect but it can help with balance and set up if it is. Make sure you don’t have any bad spots such as knots in the wood. These can weaken the shield. If you can not find a piece of wood without one, try to get the knot near the edge where you will not need it to be as strong. Cut a good size circle that you will be able to weild and will protect you. Of course if you have been fighting round shield prior to this, you will know about what you can use comfortably.

Once you cut out the shield you will need to find the center of it and cut a hole big enough for your shield boss to fit. This you should measure so you do not waste the wood. Measure twice and cut once. You can use either metal or plastic for your shield boss. These can be purchased at fighting events, online, or even at thrift stores if you use old dog bowls for the shield boss. And don’t laugh about the dog bowls, two of them together makes a solid center shield boss for protection.

You can also buy a handle in the same places you get the center boss. If you don’t want to do that or can’t wait, you can make one form a thin piece of flat steel. Cut it down so you can hold it easily, but cover it so a bare hand will be protected. You will have to connect the handle and center boss to the wood. Screws that fit just through everything with nuts are good. You can also get a special kind of wood nut called a T nut that will bit into the wood and is flat on one side. The actual screw will be hidden in this “wood” nut and then you have nothing to worry about sticking out. You will need longer ones to go through the handle and center boss than just around the center boss.

Lastly you have to cover the outer edge of the wood shield. The best thing I’ve found is water hose. The kind that is black and holes all through it to water a whole area at once. It is fairly inexpensive and each to work with. Measure your outer shield and cut your hose about 2″ longer. This way if you miss calculated, you should still have enough. If you calculated right you can overlap it. Drill small holes all the way around the shield and use zip ties to attach the hose to the wood. Make sure you cut the zip ties long ways so there are not sharp edges. Then test out your shield.

This is where I purchased my center boss and shield handle. They sell at Pennsic War or you can go in with other people who need to purchase the same items to cut down on shipping charges.