Looking for VFF Publishing?

What’s VFF Publishing, you ask? Why, it’s my publishing imprint! Yes, I write and publish novels. This blog is about gaming, but I see no reason not to redirect you to the Visions of Fantasy & the Future site if you’re curious about what I write. I write fantasy and sci-fi. You can buy my novels at Amazon and other fine sellers of literature.

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Gen Con Tips for Newbies

So, I spent last week telling you how not to be a dick around folks with physical challenges at Gen Con. “But, this is my first year! I don’t even know anything about anything about Gen Con.”

Today’s post is for you!

Gen Con can be overwhelming for the first time attendee. We’ve all been there. Bask in the Nerdvana and enjoy it. You’ll never get to experience Gen Con for the first time again. When you walk into the Dealer Hall (or even just join the crowd that’s gathering for the opening, aka the “Running of the Nerds”) it is at once exhilarating and terrifying. When the crowd finally thins and you get in, tens of thousand of square feet of games and game-related merchandise await you. There really is nothing like it on Earth.

Some folks say that for your first year, don’t cram your schedule full of ticketed activities. There’s wisdom in that, and I certain recommend setting aside a large portion of time for the Dealer Hall. Why? Because you can spend all day in there and not see everything. Now, there are some things you’re probably not interested in, that’s fine. But, surely there are some new games you want to try. The Dealer Hall is perfect for that. Almost every booth selling board games has demos running all day and many booths with RPGs are running demos as well. These demos last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and cost absolutely nothing. In theory, you could probably spend all four days playing games for free in the Dealer Hall.

If you have an interest in seeing the best products get recognized, pop by the ENnie Awards on Friday night. It costs nothing to attend and it’s a veritable who’s who of RPG designers and writers. Granted, most of them won’t have much time to socialize with you at the event; that’s what their Dealer Hall hours are for (that, and selling their new games). The ENnie Awards are in the Grand Hall of Union Station again this year, just a short walk from the Convention Center. If the weather is too nasty, you can even get there without going outdoors (though the route is considerably more convoluted, confusing, and quite a bit further).

Don’t be discouraged a game you REALLY want to play in is sold out. Grab some generic tickets and go anyway. There’s no guarantee you’ll get a seat, but some GMs will take an extra player and there might be no-shows. One thing is certain: if you don’t try to get an extra seat, or one of the no-show seats, you definitely won’t get to play. I highly recommend playing in some games you don’t get to play at home. There are tons of games I never get to try with my home group, for a variety of reasons. Were it not for conventions, I would never get to play these games. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new favorite. I know some people who go to Gen Con and spend all four days playing the same game they play regularly every week in their home games. They enjoy it, OK, but for my money, I like to try something new.

Be culinarily adventurous. The food truck lines are epic, but it’s a good opportunity to try new foods. “But, it’s Gen Con! I’m there to game and not eat.” Make a game of it. Create a Food Truck score card and keep track of what you eat. I dunno, play Food Truck Bingo or something. Or heck, just give your taste buds a treat now and again since 95% of Gen Con attendees are eating worse those four days than they do most of the rest of the year.

Hang out in the crossroads Saturday afternoon and bask in the brillance of the parade of cosplayers (technically, it’s the Costume Contest Parade). The artistic talent on display is AMAZING. There are some truly mind-blowing costumes at Gen Con every year. If hanging out isn’t your thing, go to the Costume Contest and sit and watch, then.

Game on and have fun. See you in a few days!

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Gen Con Tips & Advice from Doctor StrangeRoll

Gen Con is nigh! With less than two weeks to go before the best four days in gaming (as of the time I’m posting this), I’m not going to rehash what so many others have put out there, here are some links.

Sean K. Reynolds (of Paizo) says…
Gnome Stew (ENnie Awards-winning blog) says…
Erik Mona (of Paizo) says…
DoingIndy.com says…
Examiner.com says…
The Illuminerdy (ENnie Awards-nominated blog) says…

OK, enough about that. As you can see, there are tons of blogs and articles out there with advice regarding large conventions like Gen Con. My advice is going to be different. I am going to rehash what I posted last year (it was my most popular post ever!). To most of it, Wheaton’s Law applies. For those of you who are link-averse, Wheaton’s Law is this: Don’t be a dick.

However, the things about which I’m going to speak, are the sorts of things people are not aware they’re being dickish about. They’re not being malicious; they just don’t have any personal experience with these sorts of issues, so when they start breaking Wheaton’s Law, they don’t know they’re doing it. My job here is not to castigate, but to educate.

Specifically, I’m talking about dealing with those who have physical challenges at conventions. The handicapped, to be blunt. People like my wife. She can walk, but conventions like Gen Con are too big for her. So, she uses a wheelchair to get around. She has a snazzy metallic red electric wheelchair, but in years past, I’ve pushed her in a manual wheelchair. This gives us a unique experience at Gen Con.

Be Aware of People Around You

The average con goer is, shall we say, Plus-sized. OK, that’s fine. I’ve been there; I’ve recently lost over 40 pounds. At conventions, people often have large backpacks. Sometimes, everything they brought to the convention is in this backpack. People are not always aware that this backpack adds two to three feet to their girth. They spin around quickly. If you’re in a wheelchair, those backpacks are level with your head. More than once my wife has narrowly avoided being clobbered in the head by an unaware con-goer suddenly spinning around because something caught his or her eye. When I pushed her, I watched for this sort of thing. Now she drives herself, and I worry she’s going to get beat up.

Step to the far sides or into a booth space, if possible, to have conversations with friends or on your phone, or to look at the map, in your backpack, etc.

Moving through large groups of slow moving people is a challenge in a wheelchair. Sometimes people back up unexpectedly. Worse, they often stop unexpectedly. Sometimes it’s because the crowd in front of them has stopped. Sometimes its because something caught their eye. Sometimes it’s because someone caught their eye, and they’re stopping to chat. If this happens to you, look ahead a bit and see if there’s a spot in a booth where you can divert to stop. Please, please, please don’t just stop in the middle of the aisle to root through your backpack. You’re not in a high school hallway; stopping in the middle of the aisle is hugely disruptive. Also, if you’re pushing your kids in a stroller, you really need to watch where you’re pushing them. My wife almost got t-boned by a stroller a few years ago because the mother had her head turned one way, watching something, and was pushing and walking in a different direction… in a CROWDED hall way (not even the Dealer Hall). She also almost got run into by a guy walking very fast and not watching the direction he was walking. His friend yelled to get his attention, otherwise he would have tripped over my wife’s (in motion) wheelchair. She had no chance to take evasive action because he approached from an angle that was mostly behind her. Situational Awareness is a thing. You don’t have to be a fighter pilot to practice it. Seriously.

Bathe regularly. Use deodorant.

Shower regularly and use deodorant. This has been covered by almost every blog and podcast I’ve seen on the subject. I bring it up because something most people aren’t aware of: Gamer Funk is worse when your head is at waist level to the average con goer. Think about it: you sit on your butt every day during the con, often for four to six hours at a time. Frequently, walking around the city during the Con can be like walking on the surface of the sun (i.e. it’s HOT). The chairs don’t breathe. The A/Cs in the convention center will have trouble keeping up with a roomful of gamers when it’s hot and humid outside. Except for a very few, select people, most attendees have the crotch region covered completely by a couple of layers of clothes (basically, I’m talking about everyone who can’t get away with wearing something like a swimsuit or lingerie to Gen Con). Sweat happens. Funky things happen in dark, warm, moist areas. This is not shameful, it’s just a fact of bio-chemistry. Cleanliness saves noses.

Give wheelchairs a wide berth; don’t step over them.

Often, those of us using wheelchairs move a little slower than others in the Dealer Hall. Sorry, it’s just difficult to push a large mechanical object through a crowd. Sometimes, we have to stop for a moment to wait for an opening to cross an aisle. I know you’re in a hurry. I know there’s a demo you think you’re late for, or a game in another room. But FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY: DO NOT STEP OVER THE LEGS OF THE PERSON IN THE WHEELCHAIR. This happens to my wife at least once a year. Someone will get the bright idea that they can cut a corner if they just step over my wife’s legs. That is 100% NOT OKAY. For one, these people usually misjudge how much space they need and end up kicking my wife’s feet or the wheelchair. She’s not paralyzed, OK? She has feeling in the lower half of her body. In fact, because she has a degenerative spine condition, she feels these jolts acutely. IN HER BACK.

Pain is a funny thing (and I mean funny like a heart attack). In my wife’s case (and I know many people experience this same thing), it’s like gas prices. It’ll spike very quickly, and then take FOREVER to come back down. If you kick her wheels (however accidentally) or kick her legs because you felt stepping over her was quicker than going around, or accidentally knee the back of the chair because you’re standing too close in line, all of those jolts go right into her back. The extremities are ALL connected to the spine in some way. That jolt of pain doesn’t just go away. It takes HOURS. Often, it takes her lying down for hours before it gets back down to a manageable level and it’s not something that can be alleviated by popping a couple of ibuprofen. Chronic pain does not work that way.

More than once, she has missed out on a half-day or a whole day of a con because of this pain. When you are the cause because you carelessly stepped over her wheelchair and kicked her legs, causing a flare up of pain in her back, you have taken a day at Gen Con away from her. Is that worth saving five seconds to you

Don’t tie up handicapped accessible bathroom stalls unless you have a Potty Emergency.

A comedian once proclaimed the virtues of the handicapped rest room stall, saying it was “the Cadillac” [of the stalls]. While it is true these stalls are often very roomy, there is a reason for that. Here’s a hint: the reason is NOT SO YOU CAN USE IT TO CHANGE  INTO OR OUT OF YOUR COSTUME. I respect cosplayers. What they do is AMAZING. But if you’re tying up the accessible stall chatting on the phone, changing clothes, having a quiet moment, you may be preventing people who need to use it for its intended purposes from using the facilities they require. From what I hear, because I don’t have first hand experience with the ladies restrooms, for every ten to twenty standard stalls, there are one or two handicapped stalls and one or two “family” stalls. The family stalls are slightly smaller than the handicapped stalls, but larger than a standard stall so that a mom can stand and assist her toddler. Handicapped attendees don’t expect the handicapped stalls to only be used by handicapped people. With over 56,000 attendees anticipated, it is understood that sometimes there will be a line for the facilities. People expect to have to wait their turn. The main point is to use a non-handicapped stall if one is available and to be aware that people in wheelchairs cannot choose one of the smaller stalls.

Look, I get sometimes you need a quiet moment, or have to change clothes, but that stall is that big so that wheelchairs can get into it. My wife told me of an experience last year where she was in a line three wheelchairs deep waiting for the accessible stall while two young ladies were changing clothes and giggling and were pretty much oblivious to the fact that they were not the center of the universe.  Apparently, of the twenty or so other stalls, only two others were occupied at the time, so it’s not like these young ladies had no choice (and couldn’t wait). One woman had to get out of her wheelchair, crawl along the floor, and into a non-handicapped accessible stall because she could not wait any longer. My wife confronted them and politely made them aware they were holding up the line and they cried and accused her of being rude.

When people abuse the handicapped restroom, handicapped con goers risk wetting their pants. That shouldn’t have to be one’s main concern in a public restroom.

It’s a safe bet that most cosplayers are from out of town and have hotels. Perhaps they see the bathroom, the handicapped stall in particular, as a more convenient place to work on their costume than going back to their hotel. Well, tough. That stall is for handicapped people to pee and poop. You don’t get to act put out when one of them calls you on it.

Don’t be a Dick

This last thing is actually a castigation because this happens every Gen Con and it’s not a matter of people being unaware; it’s a matter of people being rude jerks. If there’s a person with a wheelchair waiting for an elevator and they were there waiting when you and your group of friends arrived, WAIT FOR THE NEXT ELEVATOR IF YOU ALL WON’T FIT. More than once we have had our elevator poached by a group of rude assholes who rush to get into the elevator before we can. That’s being a dick. That’s being rude. You are bad people and should feel bad. When that happens, we hope the elevator breaks down with you in it. Don’t make me be a bad person for wishing bad things upon you.

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Guest Post! — Gen Con Tips & Advice Series

Jakub Nowosad a.k.a. Arathi: master of Law & master of Political Science, Polish convention organizer since 2004, RPG player since 1996. Redactor and reviewer in Polish RPG websites. He is trying to popularize board games and RPG in his region in Poland. He has also served as an ENnie Awards judge in 2014 and 2015. He has a tumor in his spine resulting in muscular atrophy of the left side of the body. You can reach him online: Google+ at +JakubNowosad, Twitter @Arathic. 

As a disabled person sometimes I have a problem with conventions. In this text I want to tell organizers, participants and other handicapped persons a few words. Most of the things below are an outcome of my career as a convention organiser for almost ten years.

For organizers:

I know we don’t always have a possibility to choose a place with good infrastructure that will be helpful for disabled. But as an ex-organiser I think you can make some convenience. First You can make a special point for buying tickets with priority for disabled. Second You can sensitize volunteers and helpers on the needs of the disabled. It’s always helpful when a physically impaired person can ask someone from the staff for help. Having a spare wheelchair and a medic is helpful too. In Poland most conventions require from underage attendees to show a permission slip from parents. I think parents can write down in a permission slip  helpful information about theirs kid: allergies, chronic illnesses, and disabilities. Adult people can have an ICE card (In Case of Emergency) – i.e. special card in a wallet where is written information about family (address, phone number), blood type and other medical info. Organizers should have a few spare ICE cards for people who want it (You can find them on the Web).

Special symbols (such as badges or an armbands) could be useful with identification of disabled. Organizers can save first row of seats in the seminars just for disabled.

With all this, physically-impaired people could have a better time in the convention.

For convention attendants:

A lot of people have some medical problems. Sometimes hidden. When you are in the crowd remember people are around you may have medical issues. Try not to be the one who is always rush others. When you are entering a room don’t scuffle to enter as fast as you can. Rush is not a good advisor and can be harmful for others.

A good thing to do is to find another chair if you sit in the last one in the room. Sometimes at a convention or conference I feel powerless when I can’t find a place to sit. And a lot of people are sitting around and pretend they don’t see me or other handicapped. So look around, try to help if you can (with luggage, chair, box etc) and don’t just think of yourself – convention should be a fun for everyone.

And finally as a physically-impaired person I have a few words to other people like me – don’t be macho. I know it’s hard to live when you have a serious illness. But pretending that you can lift those boxes or luggage by yourself, will not help you and can be harmful for your health. It’s not shameful to ask someone for help – in Poland we say: Your crown will not fall from your head. ;)

Note from Doctor StrangeRoll: The Indianapolis Convention Center is an ADA facility; they are supposed to adhere to all the laws for ADA accessibility. If you find this is not the case, please let a member of the Convention Center staff know immediately.

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Guest Post! Conventions & Canes — Gen Con Tips & Advice Series

This week I’ll be posting my Gen Con Tips and Advice, but I’m shaking things up from the past two years and I’m leading off with a guest post!

Jacob Wood is the founder of Accessible Games, a small press publisher devoted to making games available to everyone. He’s a writer, designer, layout artist, and accessibility advocate for the gaming industry. You can find him online at http://www.accessiblegames.biz, on Twitter at @AccessibleGames, or on Google+ as +JacobWood.

Conventions and Canes

This year, for my first time ever, I’ll be heading to GenCon. It’s the nation’s leading tabletop gaming convention and attracts 50,000+ people. I’ll be attending as an industry professional, a small press game publisher and member of the Independent Game Developers network. I’m thrilled to be going and excited at the opportunity to meet dozens of people I interact with on a regular basis. People I work with, game with, and otherwise enjoy spending time online with.

 

As excited as I am though, there’s one significant thing that makes me nervous. I’m legally blind, and I’ll be travelling solo. By itself that isn’t scary–I get around just fine in my daily life, from home to work and back again. I travel around my home city with little to no anxiety (most days) and don’t think twice about jumping on a bus or even catching an airplane. What makes me anxious is the large crowds of people who will be, by and large, not paying much attention to anything that isn’t shiny and attention-getting.

 

From my experience, when people (in general) gather in large crowds they tend to become less aware of their surroundings. I get it–it’s easy to get lost in a sea of people and more difficult still when you’re just trying to find your own way through the horde because you’re late for a game or need to locate a restroom. For those of us trying to get around with a physical impairment though, it can be a panic-inducing nightmare (and I don’t even get panic attacks… or nightmares).

 

With that in mind, if you’re heading to GenCon (or any other convention or large gathering, for that matter) I’d like to offer some advice on how you might be conscious of others even while you’re understandably focused on yourself.

 

Stowe the Electronics

It’s hard to believe this has to be said, but it does. If you’re walking, you shouldn’t be texting or checking e-mail. You also shouldn’t be checking your calendar appointments or, for goodness sake, taking pictures of yourself or others.

 

There’s always time to pull over and check these things later. Seriously. If you’re in so much of a hurry that you simply can’t slow down to read your messages, you should at the very least invest in a good Bluetooth headset and some hands-free messaging software (of which there are tons of free options available for any platform you choose). There’s also no reason to be taking selfies or snapping images of cosplayers if you’re not prepared to stand aside and focus the picture.

 

This doesn’t apply just to using electronics and walking though. It means don’t stand still in the middle of a hallway to do any of these things either. The bottom line: if you find yourself reaching for your phone or tablet, pull over to the side of the hall and make sure you’re not in anyone’s way. Everyone, not just people with disabilities, will thank you for it.

 

Be Aware

I wrote about this a couple years ago on my own blog (link: http://www.accessiblegames.biz/gaming-people-disabilities/) but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it.

 

We’ve already discussed how it can be difficult to be aware of your surroundings when you’re in a huge crowd, but you can still control how you behave and react when someone approaches you or is in your immediate vicinity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped to ask a random stranger for information or directions and they completely missed the fact that I was carrying a red-tipped cane (which, in the U.S. at least, is the common sign that someone is blind). Using phrases like “it’s right over there” and pointing at something is sort of lost on someone who can’t see what you’re pointing at.

 

If you do interact with someone who has a noticeable physical impairment, try to be aware of it and what that might mean in terms of the requests they’re making or the questions they’re asking. That doesn’t mean you need to fall all over yourself trying to help, but it does mean tailoring your responses with their needs in mind. If you don’t know what those needs are, you can just ask. It’s not impolite, it’s awesome for you to do that.

 

Navigating Crowds

Just about everyone has difficulty navigating through large crowds, but people with physical impairments have it even more difficult.When you’re walking through a sea of people, you constantly make split-second decisions about how to turn and where to place your next steps in order to avoid collisions and make progress toward your destination. People with disabilities have to do this too, but it can be a little more tricky.

 

People in wheelchairs, on crutches, using canes, or pushing strollers are far less maneuverable than others around them. They don’t always have the luxury of avoiding you, so if you spot a less agile person then try to be aware of their needs and make your own efforts to go around them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into (or nearly missed running into) people because  I was headed their way with my cane in front of me and they simply didn’t bother to notice. Oftentimes it’s I, the blind person, who winds up doing the evasive maneuvers and, frankly, I’m not very good at them.

 

With that being said, just knowing where to go in a new location filled with billions of bodies can be difficult. Occasionally I’ll stop and ask someone for directions. Sometimes those people will offer to show me where I need to go. That’s completely awesome, but as a fair warning you’re very easy to lose in the crowd. Would you be so kind as to let me take your elbow? I promise I bathed today and you won’t catch “gamer funk.”

 

If you find yourself being the lead for someone who has a physical impairment, it’s okay to ask them if you’re walking too fast or if they need some additional assistance (like an outstretched elbow or a held door). If for some reason you’re just not comfortable with that, I think most people would prefer you be upfront about that so they can find someone else to help before getting too frustrated.

 

Conclusion

As GenCon grows, the likelihood of you encountering someone with a disability increases. If you see someone who appears like they may be in need, it’s okay to ask them if they’d like any help. If they don’t need it, they’ll tell you they’re okay. Otherwise, it’s a great relief to know someone else was being aware and being willing to lend a and.

 

I hope everyone has a fun and safe time at GenCon this year. I’m looking forward to it being my first. If you’re going to be there, stop by the IGDN game room and say hello.

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D&D 30-Day Challenge – Day 30

D&D 30 Day Challenge

Day 30 – Best Playing/DMing experience

My best DMing experience was the first session of a Ptolus game I ran back in D&D 3.5. I think it might have been my first Ptolus game after we finished up The World’s Largest Dungeon. I was fully prepared, everything hit on all cylinders and players complimented me after the game. It happened to also be the most number of players I had at once at that particular table. I don’t remember a lot of the details now (it was 9 years ago, after all), but I remember the PCs went into Ptolus’s sewers looking for some lost kids or something like that.

My best playing experience probably happened at Gen Con. When I attended primarily as an attendee (I go now as an exhibitor on Author’s Alley) and Monte Cook’s OK — Your Turn message board community was thriving, we used to coordinate a bunch of off-grid games. It was like a mini convention within the convention. We played a lot of Monte Cook’s Arcana Evolved. One particular member of that board, Varianor, used to run faen (AE’s version of elves, but more faerie like, including a pixie-expy)-themed games. They were fast-paced, wacky fun.

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen – Session 14

This adventure log will contain spoilers for the D&D 5th edition Tyranny of Dragons adventure, Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Ye’ve been warned!

After a tense moment waiting for the vampire sentry to pass, our heroes decided to explore the upper courtyard in the opposite direction of her patrol. The central peak of the ice mountain around which the citadel was built loomed to their right, and a large tower was to their left. Several additional towers jutted out of the central peak. They passed by the tower* in the courtyard and found a small alcove in the side of the mountain used to store what the ogre guards passed off as ale. They marked the location as a good temporary hiding space and continued.

As they rounded the side of the peak, they found a trail carved into the ice leading up toward one of the higher towers. The door leading to the lower levels was blocked by an avalanche of snow and ice, as though the interior collapse, but our heroes spied a balcony three-quarters of the way up the side of the tower. Tobin used his levitation spell to carry himself and Zinniana up. That door worked, and inside they found a room with a solitary stone coffin… guarded by the spawn of the vampire they saw on patrol.

They fled, but the vampires followed them down, crawling down the side of the tower. Though they were peppered with arrows by the time they reached the group, the vampires proved resilient and Flint was forced to use flashy magic (remember, it’s night-time), ultimately destroying them with a Daylight** spell. Eschewing their original path, our heroes fled the battle site directly down the side of the peak, sliding on the ice back to the courtyard to evade the inevitable patrols.

Any patrol investigating the battle would likely take the path toward the tower, so they were able to move about the side of the courtyard fairly unhindered. Our heroes ducked into a cave to get out of sight. They risked some illumination for Veya and saw all manner of creatures and objects embedded in the ice***. They followed the tunnels to a large cavern under the central peak. Clinging to the ceiling, like a great, icy bat, was a white dragon. Tobin made sure his cultist robes and mask were in place and approached. It twisted its head around and demanded to know his purpose.

2015-06-26 22.40.05

This picture is more accurate if you pretend the dragon and the stalagmites are actually on the ceiling.

Tobin spoke to the dragon of treachery afoot, but the dull-witted beast was interested in two things only: food and treasure. After a few moments of trying to convince the beast it needed to know about the treachery in the cult, the dragon decided Tobin would suffice as a midnight snack. With half of the party affected by dragon fear, it made short work of Tobin and Broken Sky, despite the clever use of an immovable rod in an attempt to keep the dragon on the ceiling.

Having lost their Bag of Holding (which was NOT empty), their bard (and the Black Dragon Mask), and their monk, the rest fled into the tunnels. Without Tobin, they had no way off of Skyreach Castle (for it was he who could cast Fly, Levitate, and Feather Fall). Broken Sky was the stealthiest of them all. They were a mile in the sky, surrounded by enemies, wounded, and without hope…

Now, the Realms are likely to be plunged into a draconic apocalypse as Tiamat is brought forth from Avernus and rampages across the Sword Coast with an army of chromatic dragons. Perhaps a new group of heroes will arise to be the light in the darkness to come.

And thus ends Hoard of the Dragon Queen. In theory, they could have kept going, but the players were so disheartened by the defeat, so discouraged at their chances of surviving the next session down two PCs, they voted to call it quits; a decision I left to them. Perhaps another group of heroes happened to be assaulting Skyreach Castle at the exact same time and happened to have two survivors of their own disaster to join forces with our heroes (about the only way we’d be able to work in two more PCs before the castle reached the Well of Dragons). 

But, I’m okay with the way things ended. Sometimes, the heroes fail, and by chance they passed by the key encounter that provided a safe way out of Skyreach Castle in favor of a decision that seemed logical at the time (the master of the castle would be in the tallest tower… not the shorter, fatter tower in the back). All was not lost after the vampire encounter, though, but it expended many of their resources and raised a general alarm. Fleeing towards the dragon’s lair might not have been terrible, had they encountered a dragon interested in cult politics (white dragons are historically dumb and this one really was not interested in talking to anyone who wasn’t bringing up more treasure or lots of food; Tobin’s miscalculation was in assuming a wyrmspeaker could intimidate a dragon).

I appreciate the attempt at an epic scope in Hoard of the Dragon Queen (and Rise of Tiamat), but as with many Forgotten Realms adventures, there’s an elephant in the room HotDQ does not attempt to address (or if it does, it’s only mentioned in passing): what the heck are the high-level heroes on the Sword Coast doing during this time? If the situation is truly this dire, turning to nobodies from a small village doesn’t seem wise when people like Drizzt are still running around. I know it’s addressed more in Rise of Tiamat with it’s coalition building, but there are a lot of head-scratching moments in Hoard of the Dragon Queen, many of which could have been resolved with a checklist or summary at the beginning of each chapter. 

* Had they gone into this nearest tower, they would have encountered the master of Skyreach Castle, a cloud giant willing to talk. It might have radically changed the outcome.

** The wording of this spell leaves wiggle room for interpretation. With Light and Continual Flame already providing magical light, Daylight seemed very redundant (especially as a 3rd-level spell), unless it also acted like sun light on undead… which is how I chose to interpret it.

*** Had I remembered that Tobin had Draconic Lore as part of his background, I would have made him roll to see if he was clued into the fact that they were approaching a white dragon’s lair. This also would have been a good spot FOR THE FREAKING BOOK TO MAKE A NOTE OF THAT AS WELL (because I totally forgot about that aspect of that particular character).

 

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D&D 30-Day Challenge – Day 29

D&D 30 Day Challenge

Day 29 – Most frequently rolled # on a d20

Really? People keep track of crap like that? I don’t. I have no idea.

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D&D 30-Day Challenge – Day 28

D&D 30 Day Challenge

Day 28 – PCs you have sworn off playing

There aren’t any. I’ve never created a character that suffered so badly that he or she’s been ruined forever for me. There’s a general type of character I don’t think I’m particularly good at playing, though, and I would reluctant to try again, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve sworn off playing them: diplomats. I’m not good at thinking quickly on my feet and improvising plausible, persuasive dialog. I played a diplomat character (Baniss Mulk) in the last Star Wars game I played in and I was horrible at it. I much preferred my cocky pilot (Kelko Gen; sadly, he died when we tried to be heroes instead of self-serving mercenaries and the dice turned against us).

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D&D 30-Day Challenge – Day 27

D&D 30 Day Challenge

Day 27 – Favorite Curse or Cursed Item

I usually don’t do much with cursed items; most of them are designed to make a player’s life miserable by messing with her character and most players find that to be the opposite of fun. Still, in a game that doesn’t take itself seriously, some of the sillier items can be amusing, though most of them are problematic when looking back. I think the best items are ones that are not explicitly cursed, but come with drawbacks that seem like their cursed, like Evil Intelligent Talking Swords that try to force characters into heinous acts, or artifacts like the Hand of Vecna. The attached video is a good example of how such an artifact can act like a curse for an entire party, without being explicitly cursed… just replace “Vecna” with “Vectra” and if you’ve read Knights of the Dinner Table for years, you’ve already seen this story. :D

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D&D 30-Day Challenge – Day 26

D&D 30 Day Challenge

Day 26 – Favorite Mundane Item

A hammer and pitons is an often-overlooked set of items. Not a lot of people think their adventurers will be climbing sheer rock cliffs. While that’s true, the pitons can be used to secure a rope for climbing down into a pit, or wedging a door shut. Hammers are useful for all sorts of things, not the least of which is hammering a stake into the shriveled, black heart of the pesky local vampire.

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