Tuesday, January 27, 2015

8 Spices For Your Magic Rings

Purely mathematical magic items are often boring and certainly do not create memories at the table. The much maligned ring of protection +1 is a great example which has been a staple of the Dungeons & Dragons game for ages. I always like to add a twist to the more common magic items I give out to my players to keep them on their toes. Magic needs to be wondrous and unpredictable so even the oldest grognards are surprised. Below I have created a table of additional powers that will spice up the next ring your group unearths. 

Magic Ring Spice Table (d8)

1)    A golden band that itches when worn for longer than five minutes. If removed a scaly rash is left behind which contains small indecipherable runes. If scratched the rash will bleed slightly and then vanish charging the ring. The owner of the ring then temporarily loses 1 hit point. Once per day the owner of the ring may re-roll all the dice of one healing power affecting them.

2)    Polished hematite ring covered in miniature superimposed eyeballs which follow the wearer. When worn waves of nausea will continue until the wearer makes a difficult constitution check. Once composed the ring provides 360 degree vision for up to one hour per day. The owner of the ring will gain strong reclusive behavior traits and their hair will become fine and silky.

3)    A multicolored cloth ring seemingly created from several twisted scraps of clothing. If placed on a finger or toe several small stitches will appear. If one of the former is pulled it will empower the wearer will a small burst of wild magic. Any spell cast afterwards will have one of the following random effects (1d4): 1. Spell fizzles 2. Spell forks to an extra target 3. Spell does the minimum effect.  4. Spell works but is not consumed. The ring produces 1d2 stitches per day.

4)    Square shaped red crystal ring which is filled with swirling smoke. When worn the owner will emit a strong acrid smell wherever they go. After one day the finger upon which the ring resides will turn blackened and charred. It will move freely and be completely pain free. 1d4 times a day the finger can create a spark if dragged against stone as if tinder and flint was used.

5)    Spongy ring with the consistency and texture of flesh. Upon closer examination small warts and clumps of hair can be seen upon the band. If worn it seeps into the host finger making the attached appendage elongated, deformed and incredibly strong. This will grant the wearer of the ring +2 to strength in that arm but also -4 to charisma when the arm is exposed. All attempts to retrieve the ring save a remove curse spell will fail.

6)    A band created from what appears to be fresh rough cut bark. The smell of conifers can be detected all around the ring. When worn the skin of the user will turn green instantly. Soon thereafter scaly pine cones will form on the wearer’s skin. This may be easily removed or plucked and if thrown will cast entangle on the target area. 1d2 cones are produced per day with the caveat being they must be used within five minutes or become inert.

7)    Large gaudy ring which is completely socially impractical and obnoxious. Upon wearing the ring the owner will desire opulence and excess. There is a 50% chance per day the ring wearer will spend all available wealth on being pampered. This desire is so strong that the wearer is unembarrassable and immune to magical fear until adequately lavished. All attempts to retrieve the ring save a remove curse spell will fail.

8)    Old bone ring with small chew marks marring its surface. If placed on a finger the wearer immediately feels the hair on the nape of their neck rise. Then for some inexplicable reason they are able to covertly sense the presence of unintelligent undead within 60’. This “blessing” however comes with a heavy toll as intelligent undead within 1 mile will seek the wearer out. Additionally intelligent undead will always attack the wearer of this ring first.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Confessions of a newbie Dungeons and Dragons player

The following was submitted and authored by Tanya Logan. Some of you may know her best for the Ugly Christmas beholder sweater which was viral this past December. With the release of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons there is many new faces around the game table. Times have changed because of social media and our beloved hobby is growing. Thank you Tanya for sharing your perspective with us.

Confessions of a newbie Dungeons and Dragons player

By Tanya Logan

I have only played Dungeons and Dragons a handful of times. In fact I just phonetically spelled out dungeons so that I spelled it right. I was not born geeky, I married into it. My geekyness has progressed by joining fandoms such as Doctor Who and playing online role-playing games. The next logical step I took in my geeky journey was trying out Dungeons and Dragons.  While it seems like D&D has become a lot more accessible, it still remains a rather complex game to play.

When I decided I wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons, my first thought was that I could buy fancy dice. Nay! I had to buy fancy dice! Then I needed to buy pencils, paper, graphing paper, pencil case, miniatures, a binder, etc. Much to my husband’s dismay, I bought a whole fresh set of gear.  Then I sat down and opened the player’s handbook. But it was an older book. I think the 3.5 player handbook, which clearly was antiquated. So I bought a new book, the latest version for now. This new version is really easy, or so my husband told me. The book was fabulous to assist in choosing what type of character I wanted but left a bit to be desired for those that had never created a character from scratch. It was fun picking out what race and class I was going to play. I got very involved in creating my character’s story and imagining how my character would behave.  But then they went and put numbers in it.

There are many things that a seasoned player takes for granted. When my husband was explaining game play to me I felt very overwhelmed. Figuring out hit points and armor class seemed easy enough until I had to remember how to figure it out on my own. I resorted to making myself a cheat sheet. I noted how much I can move and when I can move. I wrote what my spells did and when I can use them. I also had to write down what dice to roll when. Even more granular, I wrote: “ When the DM says roll Initiative, I roll 1d20+3”.  At my first game it was very intimidating setting down my D&D for dummies flow chart in the middle of a room of people that had played the game for over 30 years. I had a lot of anxiety thinking that my lack of experience would slow down the veterans’ game and hinder their enjoyment.

I am not a shy person by any means, but I find myself rather silent for the first part of any game. I have no fear of playing my character, but I do lack confidence in guiding the party and story. I am clearly going to lead everyone into a cave with a killer rabbit.  When I warm up a bit I get fully immersed in my character. I still don’t really drive the adventure more than just try to loot things. Playing my character’s personality get’s in the way of playing my character’s abilities.  During a moment of silence my husband turned to me and said: “This is a task for a woodsman, since you’re the ranger, you could probably do this.” Ops, I’ll just add that to my anxiety.

While I spend a lot of time concerned with other’s enjoyment, I have grown quite fond of playing Dungeons and Dragons. I still use my cheat sheet every game and I’m sure every new character will bring it’s own uncertainties. When playing with a newbie, remember that obvious things aren’t always obvious to them, that there is no shame in reminding them what they need to roll, and don’t feed them after midnight.

You can further follow Tanya's adventures on her blog Outrageous Amount of Running.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Grimtooth’s Traps

Traps have been an integral aspect of the dungeon crawl since the launch of the Dungeons & Dragons game. As a young dungeon master I recall always trying to create traps which would foil even the most stalwart adventurer from looting an ancient tomb. What early tabletop gamer was not inspired by the traps Indiana Jones encountered in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Traps were such a mainstay that the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons thief class was given the ability to locate them. That being said, trapped dungeon environments like Gary Gygax’s Tomb of Horrors would show just how futile that ability really was.

In the summer of 1984 I stayed at my grandmother’s home in Philadelphia for a few weeks. I was terribly upset by this since all my D&D buddies were several counties away. Armed with my DM’s Guide I spent a few days working on a dungeon crawl inspired by Ian Livingston’s Deathtrap Dungeon. It was soon thereafter that I met a few of the neighborhood kids and quickly learned they were also gamers. My grandmother, thrilled I met some other kids let me invite them over for a game session. I planned to use my “trap dungeon” to test the ingenuity of these city kids. This ended up being a really fun experience and I made some new friends to game with for the summer.  

At the end of the session one of the players suggested I check out something called Grimtooth’s Traps. The description he provided was akin to sitting around the fire learning of some ancient tome of power. My birthday was right around the corner and there was a hobby shop only a few blocks away. My grandmother answered the call and I received my copy just in time to add more mechanisms of player character mutilation to my games that summer. 

Grimtooth’s Traps by Flying Buffalo Games was originally released in 1981. It contained system agnostic dungeon traps with great diagrams. What followed were various additional trap collections as part of an ongoing series. For me it remains an inspirational yet nostalgic boogeyman of early tabletop gaming. Traps are a curious part of even modern RPGs and I still enjoy using them but in moderation.

Some of you may be unaware that currently there is a Kickstarter by Goodman Games called Grimtooth’s Ultimate Trap Collection. With only 5 days to go it hit $100,000 this morning and is still steaming ahead. Hardcover backers will receive a 460-page compilation of all five Grimtooth’s volumes. That is over 500 system neutral traps to mull over for use in any tabletop RPG you may play. So if you want to add some catastrophic traps, sinister snares, engines of evil, and deadly devices to your next dungeon crawl check it out!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

5 Gonzo Weapons Your Campaign Needs

Everyone seems to have their own definition of what gonzo means when it pertains to tabletop gaming. The term is originally derived from journalistic writing and meant unconventional especially to the point of outrageousness. For me gonzo gaming material has always been that which requires the players to suspend disbelief more than usual. For those campaigns set in a highly magical or science fiction based world the former is not a hard leap to make. With that foundation in mind below I have outlined five gonzo weapons featured in comics and cinema for your consideration.

Doc Ock Tentacles, Spiderman, 1963

Dr. Otto Gunther Octavius also affectionately known as Doc Ock became famous for his mechanized prehensile appendages. The arms were mighty enough to allow Doc Ock to scale sheer walls and chase Spiderman around with almost no problem at all. Each arm was equipped with a pair of claws or pinchers which permitted Doc Ock to grab things and tear them apart. A mechanical or magical harness of appendages like this I could see in any campaign. Imagine a villain with extra attacks and the Spiderclimb ability on demand!

Metal teeth, The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977

Richard Dawson Kiel (September 13, 1939 – September 10, 2014) made the character Jaws famous with his steel capped teeth. I personally can think of no other James Bond villain as iconic as Jaws between his teeth and penchant for avoiding death. In the movie Moonraker Jaws famously bites through a steel cable car wire. The team at MythBusters during their episode Jaws of Steel was unable to accomplish this with an exemplar and 10 tons of force using a hydraulic press. That being said, a magical set of teeth that would bind to the wearer enabling horrific bite attacks or cutting feats would be cool.

Sentinel, Phantasm, 1979

The spheres which are psychically controlled by the Tallman are known as sentinels. During the Phantasm series we see them equipped with blades, drills and even lasers. Weapons like the sentinels are truly the stuff of horror for any adventuring party to face. They feel no pain, have no emotion and are just mechanical or magical constructs of death. I really like the idea of sentinels used as a trap since they are not static and can chase their targets. The good news is Phantasm Ravager is coming soon to a theater near you!

Holy Shotgun, Constantine, 2005

Ok, a shotgun crafted from ancient holy relics that fires blessed ammo? But wait it also comes equipped with an under-mounted dragons breath tube that sprays holy fire. There must be a line of clerics and paladins a mile long waiting to get their hands on this boomstick of holy badassery. I love the idea of adventurer’s living in a land plagued by undead collecting relics to build something similar. The dread lords of Ravenloft and their minions certainly would not want such a powerful weapon to be constructed.

Yaka arrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014

These amazing weapons are controlled by high-pitch sonic frequencies, which the character Yondu is able to produce by whistling. Without giving away any plot information for those which have not seen the movie yet the Yaka arrow is deadly. In the comics Yondu actually fires the arrows from a bow with the ability to change their direction and even return them to his hand. I think even finding one arrow similar to this would be a very epic magic item for some lucky archer to unearth. I would imagine despot kings and queens would fear any assassin with arrows which would find their mark even in the busiest crowd.

If you enjoyed this article check out 8 Old School Weapons Your Campaign Needs from 2014 for more inspirational ideas!