Get to Know the Crossroads

After a diversion into some discussion of Nemesis, I return this week to encourage people to get to know things. In the name of this spooky season, I am continuing with demons, devils, ghoulies, ghosties, goblins, and so forth. Ok, so I covered a type of devil and scarecrows thus far for the month and that’s it. Whatever, let’s not make a big deal about it. Rather than discuss a particular creature, I wanted to instead talk about the folklore of the crossroads, and the supernatural beings that are said to patronize them. Don’t worry, there will be some discussion of D&D critters, though maybe not the ones you think. If you’ve missed the rest of the series so far, you can catch up with it here.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Success and Magic Items

Instead of helping people get to know D&D creatures and their lore, this week we will discuss something completely different: magic items and player success. So very often, these two things go hand in hand. The players accomplish a task (saving a village, killing a monster, etc.), and not only enjoy the victory, they are compensated materially. Sometimes, the goal itself is the attainment of a magic item. The discussions in which I have participated tend to agree that groups questing for items for each other is a good way to provide story for everyone, while linking it to an item. The warlock wants a spellblade that once belonged to a fallen paladin in order to forge a stronger link with her patron and power her magic with the broken oaths. Sounds like a good, terrible quest for everyone.

Get to Know the Erinyes

We’re official into October. For many people I know, October means one thing: Halloween. While I am certainly not opposed to a fancy dress party, not to be confused with the Fancy Dress Party, I’m not exactly someone who goes crazy for the holiday. I like making stuff, but going to a party means I have to socially interact with people, all of whom might realize at any moment that I am the worst. Rather than have it be proven, I prefer to stay at home to cultivate my mystique. I might have veered from the point. Regardless, this time of year sees a whole host of devil and fallen angel costumes, of the classical, re-imagined, scary, or sexy variety. A kind reader (you can tweet to @tribality or @standsinthefire if you want me to cover something, or just complain about/to me) asked if I would cover demons or devils in the new future, and this time of year is perfect for it. Without further ado, let’s talk about one of my favorite devils: the erinyes.

Azer | Kenku | Giants | Scarecrow | Erinyes

Get to Know the Scarecrow

Welcome to Fall. The time of year where we lament that it is still too warm for this time of year and yearn for cold weather, only to complain when the weather is actually cold. The time of year where bonfires, raking the yard, and drinking to excess in the name of team loyalty rule the day. It’s also the time of monsters, honoring the dead, giving thanks, pilgrimages, and the harvest. While Halloween gets most of the focus, with growing interest in Day of the Dead and All Saints’ Day, I’ve always felt a strong pull to the mythos surrounding the harvest. There is just something about the lore and superstitions associated with the harvest that stirs my creative juices. So let’s kick off the season with a look at a seasonal staple, the scarecrow. If you’ve missed the previous creatures I’ve covered, you can find them below.

Azer | Kenku | Giants | Scarecrow

Get to Know the Giants

Much like a robotic assassin from the future, I’m back…and I’ve brought giants with me. No, I’m not training them to the zone entrance where an AFK ogre is blocking the entrance. In a previous article about the kenku, some comments suggested creatures I should cover in the future. One of those suggestions was giants, as topical a choice as any, due to the recent release of Storm King’s Thunder. Full disclosure, I have not read through the supplement, so it’s possible there is some other stuff going on in there to which I am not privy. I do, however, have a lot of historical information and the basic 5e information, so onward we trudge. To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on.

Get to Know the Kenku

Last week, I spent a little bit of time talking about a creature I thought was cool and didn’t get enough recognition — the azer. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I thought I would discuss one of my other favorite creatures in D&D: the kenku. For the unaware, kenku are awesome crow people (except for when they are hawk people), and have an entire weird culture built, on the surface at any rate, around the idea that crows are clever thieves. Kenku are much more than that, and have some pretty great backstory that is modular and capable of fitting into many a campaign.

Get to Know the Azer

One of my favorite creatures of all time is the azer. Even though they have been around since 1983, I have never played in a game in which azers have featured, nor have I heard of games friends and acquaintances run that feature them. This is a shame, because azers are incredibly interesting, and are a great alternative to traditional elemental representation. Even better, the lore is easy to insert into a variety of situations and games. If you are looking for something underrepresented to feature in a game, then look no further than the azer.

In Defense of Wands

We are approaching the eve of another expansion for a popular fantasy video game. This time around, classes get an artifact weapon to level up and empower in different ways. Each specialization gets a different weapon to call their own. One thing about this made me incredibly sad: there are no more wands. Staves, daggers, scepters, and even swords (Thanks, Obama Gandalf), but no wands. Most people seemed to be fine with this, many even expressing joy they no longer had to use wands, using a variety of expected insults about the preferences and personality of people who like wands. I digress.

The Personality of Ron Weasley (and Backgrounds)

With the advent of new Harry Potter material, what’s old is new again, and I can talk about the Wizard World without feeling old or silly. Let’s ignore the fact I don’t want to discuss the play⸺I’m a big believer in the idea a play should be experienced and not analyzed from the script or note. Instead, I want to talk about Ronald Weasley and the background system of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Specifically, I want to discuss the idea that Ron Weasley is the most all-in of any character at the Hogwarts gaming table.

Puzzles in a Pinch

If you had asked me a decade ago, I would never have said I would be in a spot where I need to have multiple puzzles ready to go at a moment’s notice. Well, time makes fools of us all. I’m not saying I’m a world-class detective with a top hat, courtly manners, and a weird orange shirt, but I am saying I run a few games with a variety of players and mediums. This means that I need to have a similarly diverse spread of puzzles. This can be a tricky feat, as puzzles can be time consuming to create and difficult to run in a satisfying way. Over time, I’ve found some time-saving, but still satisfying, solutions to this problem. Hopefully, these techniques will save some time for a GM in need.