Deck of Many Things

Gaming Stories: Pick a Card

Every once in a while, I like to send the PCs against a monster that’s just out of their league. When you’re low-level, encountering an adult dragon or a lich can still be fun. The only difference is that the goal stops being killing the other guy and taking his stuff and becomes a matter of survival. After all, sometimes the monsters want to kill some adventurers and take their stuff.

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Pathfinder Flumph

The Awesome Silliness of Fantasy RPGs

Originally published on Sidekickcast.com

If you’re a fan of role-playing games, you probably got introduced to the game through a little thing called Dungeons & Dragons. It may have come by a different name back then, such as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but the general gist remains the same. In my unscientific study, about 99% of gamers were found to have come into the hobby via some iteration of D&D.

I’ve hopped around a lot in the RPG hobby, and while I got off the D&D train, my current game of choice, Pathfinder, is an extremely close cousin of the world’s first role-playing game. While there are a lot of reasons I tend to stick close to the D&D tradition, one of the major ones is the oddball humor that the game’s history is steeped in.

I like a good beer and pretzels game, where the play is fairly casual and the jokes are frequent. And when it comes to D&D-style fantasy, the jokes have been baked into the game for decades now.

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Apparatus of Kwalish

Weird Magic Items I Wish I’d Used

Originally posted on Sidekickcast.com

Thanks to whatever weirdness inhabited the heads of Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, fantasy gaming has some really bizarre stuff baked into its history. I’ve gamed long enough to use a lot of that weirdness (including my personal favorite, the deck of many things), but there’s still so much more out there. Here’s a quick list of some of the fun items in Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder that I’ve always wanted to slip into an adventure but have never quite been able to make fit.

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Council of Thieves Carriage

Gaming Stories: The Ignominious Death of Machiavelli

This is a story about chaos and mismanaged expectations. It involves the death of a PC whose player had only started gaming two sessions ago. Somehow, my botched GMing didn’t drive him away from the tabletop for good and in fact became a tale that many who were there recall fondly.

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Dryad

Gaming Stories: The Evil Tree Spirit

Originally published in Knights of the Dinner Table #146

The quest was a simple low-level affair: men in a small lumber town were disappearing into the forest. All the PCs had to do was find out what was going on and put a stop to it.

The culprit was a lonely dryad that had been luring men into the forest and charming them to keep her company. I had planned the session out as a diplomatic session, since I figured the PCs weren’t going to outright slaughter an apparently innocent dryad. This was going to be the session that taught the adventurers that not every problem needs to be solved with swordplay. A nice thought on my part, but not a plan that would endure the night.

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Dark Sun Freedom

AD&D’s Freedom and the Curse of the Media Tie-In

Released in 1991, the Dark Sun setting for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was a revelation. More than any other setting up to that point, it showcased the way D&D could encompass many different kinds of fantasy while still remaining true to the game. It introduced a metal-poor desert world where survival was as much as a challenge as fighting orcs. It provided a new twist on standard D&D races, including tribalistic halflings and desert-running elves. Drawing more from the Dune series than The Lord of the Rings, it showed how broad D&D’s horizons could go.

If you want a great example of the creative energy that infused AD&D 2nd edition, check out the original Dark Sun boxed set. And then, if you want an example of how bad its adventures could get, check out the setting’s first module, Freedom.

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Drizzt Do'Urden

In Defense of Good-Aligned Drow

I admit it – my favorite PC by far is a good-aligned drow.

This makes me a horrible gamer by some Internet standards. If you look around at various D&D and Pathfinder forums, you’re sure to find at least one or two threads lamenting the existence of good-aligned drow. There are even quotes from Gary Gygax talking about how he dislikes the idea (although, to be fair, there are also quotes from Gary Gygax talking about how if you change even one single rule in your game, you aren’t playing D&D).

The existence of good-aligned drow became popular thanks to the success of R.A. Salvatore’s novels featuring Drizzt Do’Urden. Because of that very success, a lot of fantasy RPG purists out there tend to see any non-evil dark elf as nothing more than a Drizzt clone.

I would like to speak in defense of the good-aligned drow in RPGs.

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