Depths of Insanity Season 2 continues as the group finally steps forth into the Feywild! We hope you enjoy it more than the characters did!
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My wife and I both love watching AMC’s The Walking Dead, and apparently we’re not alone since last Sunday it led the nation in ratings with over 11 million viewers. The show led me to search for a zombie apocalypse themed pen and paper RPG and what I found was Outbreak: Undead which has been available since 2010. If you want a detailed review of the handbook and game mechanics check out the article from Gnomestew. This popular TV show and somewhat less popular RPG along with some carefully placed whip blows from our almighty Goblinbeat overseer inspired the background for Stark Dawson, zombie slayer extraordinaire. Aside from Outbreak: Undead, Stark could be easily integrated into a zombie themed Dungeons and Dragons or Savage Worlds System.
Stark had a truly deranged childhood as he was born in the midst of a zombie outbreak that took over an entire island continent that was evacuated and quarantined. Certain factions have succeeded in controlling the advance of these zombies to other regions of the world, but there has been no success in ending zombie domination of the island. He had the distinct privilege to be born into a tiny community of humans that were not allowed to evacuate, but somehow survived years of zombie onslaught. Stark never got the chance to know his father who died getting Stark’s mom to safety as she was in labor with him. So, it was with the help of a protective older brother and an emotionally broken mother, that Dawson learned to survive under the most hellacious circumstances. Their small band didn’t dare attempt to leave the island since any vessels seen leaving the island after evacuation were destroyed on sight for fear of spreading the infection. When he was 15, his group decided to attempt escape in the hopes that the island was no longer being watched. However, once the tide had taken his party out into the sea, an explosion rocked the makeshift vessel. Stark saw his mother’s flesh peel from her bones as the heat from the blast struck her. He jumped overboard and after struggling to stay afloat on a piece of wreckage for three storm-racked days was picked up by a wary but kindhearted fishing boat captain 200 miles away. Now that he is off the island he wants to find out who is responsible for the zombie infection as well as his mother’s death. He wonders if his brother survived but seriously doubts it. Anger and thoughts of vengeance fill his ever-waking moment.
Since he’s always had to get by without access to manufactured goods, Stark can be extremely resourceful, from making his own ammunition and repairing weaponry to hunting/snaring game and foraging. He also is adept at melee combat against multiple opponents, not taking normal minuses for being flanked, and he has an amazing knack for obtaining advantageous positioning across a variety of terrain. Mr. Dawson can be extremely cold and deadly, rarely hesitating to dispose of a threat; however this makes it difficult for him to connect with others outside of a combat situation. He has been a loner for many months and trusting others is very difficult for him.
You may have heard about the heads up display from Google which they just call Glass. If not, you can learn all about it here: http://www.google.com/glass/start/
Several ideas for gaming jumped right inside my head the first moment I saw them sitting on someone’s head. One neat idea for D&D would be a better way to send secret messages between the players or even from the DM to the players or player to DM. Imagine sitting around the table and a message pops up in your field of view. This way you can read the message without anyone else even knowing you got a message in the first place. The old way of writing a note on paper, or whispering in their ear gives away to the other players a message of some kind has been shared. With Google Glass you could make the whole thing a big surprise! Of course you’ll still need to get out your phone and TYPE the message but no one will know who it went to. Another great idea would be for a DM to have things like initiative order, current player’s stats or HP etc. and other information in the field of view all while never taking their eyes off of the map or board. Maybe even put the story or dialog for the current part of the campaign in the DM’s eye so they can read it while looking at the players instead of looking down at a book or paper to read. This would make the storytelling part of the game more focused and intense and help get the players into the game. There are a lot of different aspects of the game that could be shown to the players in their Glass while playing such as current HP, who’s turn it is, and maybe even some sound effects in everyone’s ear when something happens that could be controlled by the DM’s smartphone/tablet. I could easily come up with hundreds of ideas if you’d give me just a few hours but I’ll leave SOME of the work to WOTC!
Comment below with any idea you might have for using a heads up display in D&D.
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Imagine if you will, four players each with a wiimote to control their character on the big TV screen when their initiative rolls around while the Dungeon Master can see everything they need to see on the screen of the Wii U gamepad. I’m not the first to come up with this idea but I can say I probably thought of this around the same time as Penny Arcade did. I agree this would be PERFECT for the way the Wii U was set up. This could go along with any sort of game that requires one person to see something different than the other players see on the TV.
I can see the campaign playing out now:
A player with the wiimote gets initiative. The interface on the TV pans over to that character’s current position on the map. It then shows the fog of war and the black areas where that character can’t see or doesn’t know about. They can then pick from a menu which actions they want to take and pick on the map where to move. When it’s time to attack, check a skill or otherwise roll dice the game automatically picks up the correct set of dice (2d6 and a d20 for example) and the user has to shake and throw the wiimote to roll the dice!
Then when a monster gets initiative the Wii U gamepad vibrates and makes a neat sound through its speakers to signal it’s the DM’s turn. While he picks through menus and such on the gamepad’s touchscreen there could be several animations and sounds playing through the TV to add suspense or give players clues depending on the options the DM picked on his screen such as flickers of light from certain directions or sounds from certain directions.
You could even use the MotionPlus features of the wiimote when it’s a player’s turn to have them very carefully disarm traps like a virtual game of Operation where one wrong move will spring the trap instead! Then as that character’s disarm trap skill increases the disarming traps “mini game” would get easier requiring less perfect motions of the wiimote.
It would be fun to be a part of the design phase of this game and I think I could come up with several metric tons of ideas. Being a Wii U owner myself I can see exactly how all of it works together and could easily dream up new ideas on a daily basis. Maybe I’ll keep updating this post with any new ideas I come up with? Who knows! Leave a comment and help add to the ideas!
A whole generation of D&D fans were weened on the original Baldur’s Gate for PC in the late 90’s and now it has returned! A new ‘Enhanced Edition‘ has just been released which claims over 400 improvements from the original game. Not only that but you can also get this new version on your iPad for $9.99. Baldur’s Gate EE also includes a new adventure, new playable characters and even new voice sets and player portraits. Some of these have become the inevitable ‘in-app purchases’ that plague the Apple app ecosystem but you still get a very nice and robust game for $10 and a chance to play all new adventures in the game in which many of us once spent way too much time.
Android lovers aren’t getting left out either, the game is set to release soon for Android as well as for Mac. A new PC version is already available for $19.99.
Always conscious of how hard it can be to make sure parents and loved ones get good gifts for their D&D playing children Wizards of the Coast has just released their 2012 Holiday Gift Guide which is a one page PDF with a smattering of current products. Looking over this list is fairly interesting as it shows what things WotC thinks are important and worth pushing into the new year. Of particular note is that there is not a single D&D 4e product on listed on the PDF. There are the three core rulebook reprintings for both 1st and 3.5 editions however. Beyond that are several map packs (usable in any edition), the Menzoberranzan and Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster’s Forgotten Realms books which are both edition independent and a slew of board games, dungeon command packs and novels. I would recommend the War of the Spider Queen volume 1 and volume 2 books to anyone who hasn’t read them yet as they are very entertaining and having them combined into Anniversary Collections is a quick and cheap way to grab them up.
Check out the guide and if you find things you want print it off and hand it over to whatever relatives you think might be willing to help feed your D&D addiction. Or if you are on the other side of the coin you can print this off to give to your D&D loving loved one and have them check off the things they would like Santa to bring!
In this week’s Wandering Monsters James Wyatt talks about the Fair Folk and how they may be portrayed in D&D Next. Overall the tone of the article looks great to me and I’m happy with the descriptions of Fey creatures that he includes within the article. The only problem I have is the apparent backpedaling from the Feywild as a core part of the D&D cosmology. In 4e the Feywild and Shadowfell became the light and dark twins to the natural world and formed the core base from which Fey and Shadow/Undead creatures originate. From what James says in his article they are planning to back up to a more 3e view of the Feywild for D&D Next where it is an optional part of the overall cosmology and not so ingrained into the core of the game.
While I understand that viewpoint, as a DM that is about to move his campaign into the Feywild I have and will continue to invest a lot of time and world building into the portions of the Feywild where my PCs venture. If/when we decide to move forward into D&D Next I would like the process to go as smoothly as possible and it sadly looks as if the support for the Feywild as we know it is being pulled back by a large degree. Of course that will probably not be the worst of my problems if I decide to move the campaign into the next edition of D&D. Players are never happy when you move existing characters into new editions.
Check out this week’s Wandering Monsters and let us know what you think.
The Gob Squad continues this week and our goblins find out what’s been taking all the food, (spoiler: it’s not Grizl’snot). Enjoy the round by round combat as we find out what these goblins are made of in their first fight.
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