The Delightful Oddity of Al-Qadim

Not so long ago, I wrote about one of my favorite 2nd editions settings, Planescape. Besides the wacky hijinks of the planes, it was the song of the sands that captured my interests. Not Dark Sun, that fantastical post-apocalyptic adventure wasteland, but Al-Qadim, the Land of Fate. Technically a sub-setting of Forgotten Realms, Al-Qadim has precious little in common with the core setting. In fact, most of the link is through the primordials, which are central to the setting’s past, but less so to the present day setting. While it is easy to dismiss the setting as a riff on One Thousand and One Nights and voyages of Sinbad, it proves to be so much richer than a simple reskinned setting dump.

Domain Rulership, Part Two

Last time in the History of Domain Rulership, I studied Frank Mentzer’s Companion rules and bemoaned my lack of the Expert rules. To my great surprise, a friend sent me a copy of Expert a few hours after my article went up, so now I can talk about it, and Rules Cyclopedia, and… you know what, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to cover this week, so let’s just take it as it comes.

(Pictured above: every domain ruler needs a council of advisors. This Grima Wormtongue guy seems trustworthy! Wormtongue is a common family name where he’s from. Probably.)

The Rogue Class, Part Two

Last time in History of the Classes, I talked about a few iterations of OD&D thieves. Now we’re on to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons thieves, as well as their close kin – assassins and thief-acrobats. The changes to the Thief itself are quite scant, but I will analyze these small changes like whoa. Let’s get to it.

The Pacific Mythos – Pacific Deities

This week we have a guest post from Margot Fernandez, who I asked to share her work on bringing Pacific deities into early editions of Dungeons & Dragons. This article outlines the deities and you’ll find a link to a PDF version with full classic D&D stats at the bottom.

Dungeons & Dragons players often send their characters out to sea.  Because I lived for many years in Oceania, specifically Guam in Micronesia, I learned about their gods, myths and legends during that time.  In converting deities to the D&D format, I tried to keep in mind that the same god often appears in different mythoi, and for the sake of clarity I sometimes elided a few figures into one.  Such a figure is Tangaloa, the god of evil spells, poisons and witchcraft.  He seems to lurk everywhere from Hawaii to Australia.

The Ranger Class, Part Two

Now that we’ve got a baseline of the original ranger class, let’s see what happens in the first Dungeons & Dragons to bear the name Advanced. I know that a lot of people have warm and impregnable places in their hearts for this edition, but that’s because they were kids at the time (well, many of them were) and we were still in the first five years of tabletop game design as a concept.

(Part One)

The Folio #4 – 1E/5E Format Adventure Module – Kickstarter

This is the 4th Kickstarter in the Six part Roslof Keep Campaign series, and it is currently at funding levels with over 300 backers, but you only 7 days remaining to join! R Scott Taylor is the Art Director at Gygax Magazine, and heads up the Folio series from his company Art of the Genre. The Folio adventure modules have been going strong since the beginning of 2015. I have been lucky to have been able to be a part of this series since the start, and they has always delivered a great product.

The adventures are made for 1st and 5th edition. The Kickstarter campaigns have always been on time, we receive constant & great communication from Scott, the adventures are great, organized & well thought out, and the Art is outstanding! This all comes from a Art of the Genre that has a solid history of producing RPG gaming modules, art and novels now with 10 successfully filled Kickstarter campaigns under their belt. If is the first time hearing about the campaign, then I would suggest getting the print and electronic versions. And if you’re able, get a backing level so that you can get all 4 adventures.

Here’s the link for the Folio #4 Kickstarter:

Psionics, Part Two

Last time in History of the Classes, we looked at the first iteration of psionics rules ever to enter D&D and the themes that the Gygax and Blume were addressing. Psionics are optional rules in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (First Edition), as they are in every edition, but this is the only time in six editions that rules for PC psionics appear in the core books. (Notably, some creatures in the Monster Manual may be psionic even when the developers have not yet published any other psionics rules at all.) I’ll also examine the articles on psionics in Dragon #78.

(Part One)

5 History Changing Events for Your D&D Campaign

Every so often an event occurs that is so huge, so fundamentally game changing, that the path of humanity is altered forever. In modern times, I would argue that the invention of the atom bomb, the First and Second World Wars, and the invention of the internet are great examples. These are events or happenings that define who we are as a people and how we will go on living our lives in the future.

5 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer

Fundamentally, I look at D&D campaigns as stories. Each adventure or event is a chapter and the campaign as a whole is a novel. It should have set-up, background, main characters, side characters, plots, sub-plots, victories, losses, triumph, and heartbreak. Maybe characters will die along way (Boromir) and maybe new characters will come to the party late (Lando). There should be some twists and a few unexpected detours and the end result should never be certain. Danger should be stalking you at every turn. But most importantly there should be fun, excitement, and camaraderie. If those three things are present, the story will almost write itself.

Monkey See, Monkey Shift: Edition-Agnostic Options for Shapechanging and Summoning

Wizards are often referred to as the Swiss Army knives of spellcasters, having access to a wide variety of high damage and utility spells useful for any occasion. But do they really? Wizards (or Magic-Users, if you prefer) are still limited by the spells they have in their spellbooks, or have discovered during their adventures. Even in the earliest editions of D&D, specialist wizards such as the illusionist provided players with interesting ways to use magic that didn’t involve the Holy Trinity (mage armor/sleep, magic missile, shield). In later editions, specialist wizards became the main focus of the class, creating a range of arcane casters from fireball-throwing evokers to contemplative diviners.

As a writer, I’ve always believed that limitations inspire imagination. When it comes to spells like summon monster, polymorph, and shapeshift, and class features like the druid’s wild shape, the open ended nature of these abilities make them increasingly uninteresting and reduce what could be one of the most fascinating powers to generic catch-alls.

In this article I will present simple ideas for both shapechanging and summoning that can inspire the imagination of your players while drastically reducing the “paralysis through analysis”, blandness syndrome, and Min-Maxing issues that often occurs with these abilities.