Archive for October, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons: Map tiles

October 28, 2008

I know I’ve been going a bit crazy on the DnD posts recently, but there’s one more thing I’d like to share with you, Dungeon Tiles sets, which can be used to quickly and easily lay out a dungeon for your characters to explore. I’ve linked to the set which has Sewer tiles in, as you could use them to layout the sewer map from my Into the Sewers adventure, although they may need a little finessing, as I’m not certain they’ll match up exactly.

The tiles are printed double sided, and on very nice cardstock, so you’ll get hardwearing acessories that can be laid out in many more ways than if you were stuck with just a single side.

They remind me very much of the old Warhammer Quest tiles, but these new versions are available in more varieties (there are sets for tombs, crypts, outdoor ruins and so on). They would be suited mostly to games and DMS that are combat heavy, and really care about where their characters are, where the obstacles are and also what the game looks like. I don’t think they are something that a less combat focussed game needs, nor one that is more descriptive in its combat.

They cost less than £10 a pack, and might well be a better investment than another sourcebook you don’t really need.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4: The Dungeon Master’s Guide

October 26, 2008

The Dungeon Master’s Guide is split into 11 chapters, staring with how to be a DM and running the game, running through the types of encounters, adventures, rewards and campaigns, and finishing up with world building, NPC building, and an example town and adventure.

It’s all pretty similar to what we saw in Third Edition, but as with the Player’s Handbook we lose a lot of the randomness (describing towns rather than tables to create them), and focus more on the nuts and bolts of running a combat game.

The Prestige classes and NPC classes have gone, but there’s a section on designing NPCs in the DM’s toolbox towards the end of the book. There are a lot fewer magic items, only the Artifacts remain, the rest have moved to the Player’s handbook.

The book is a lot easier to read, and easier to find things in, but that may just be because you are searching out obscure tables less often.

In all, it’s a nice evolution of the game, but it’s not a massive shift. The game has become easier to run, but the core books are holding your hand less as a DM, you’l either have to work harder to build your world, or rely more on published sources.

Dungeons and Dragons 4: First Thoughts

October 21, 2008

I know I’m pretty late to the party, but I’ve finally had a chance to read through my new copies of the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide, and I’m pretty impressed with them.

The rules are presented clearly and are well explained, and the system has been streamlined from the Third Edition. Everything is less random, from the creation of statistics through to the number of hitpoints and on to the allocation of skills. This makes is quicker and easier to create a character.

I’m not sure how the system will play, but it seems to have been focussed more on the combat, especially the use of miniatures to deal with the positioning of PCs and NPCs. I think you will need to be careful not to foucs on the combat to the exclusion of all else, but roleplaying can happen no matter the rules system.

As a GM I’d be careful how I use maps and figures, making sure to only bring them out after combat starts, or to use them throughout a dungeon. Suddenly bringing them in to play at the start of an encounter would be a hint that it’s a combat, and it’s best not to railroad people into these outcomes.

So, my initial feelings are that it’s goning to make the game easier to get into (and so drag people away from Warcraft and its ilk), but could lose some of the depth previously available, which the GM will have to work to replace.

Making use of your resources

October 7, 2008

In another thought on execution often being as important as your ideas, make sure that you are always in a position to make use of all of your resources, especially when playtesting a game.

When you are playtesting your game, make sure you either have spare copies, or can produce one quickly, so that any playtesters you get can have a chance to play the game. Also make sure to always have enough space for the playtesters you expect, plus some spare for the ones you didn’t think you’d see at that session.

Make sure you can take on their feedback quickly and easily, consider a technological way of doing it, either via a wiki, CMS, or even e-mail is better than a scribbled note (but notes are better than nothing).

If you find out your playtesters have a knack for rules writing, proofreading, art or whatever, then try to make use of this if they are willing, rather than just using them to play the game, get them involved earlier in the process, many hands making light work.

Plan to treat your playtesters well, get snacks and drinks in for the gaming session, and make sure it’s in a pleasant environment suited to games.

If you plan your playtesting sessions to cover the various scenarios and possibilities that may occur, then you are likely to have better sessions. Better sessions mean more playtesters are likely to return next time, meaning you get the most benefit, for a small additional outlay of work.