• Contents of the Red Box

    1 set Black Dice: d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 – The d10 has an actual 10 printed on it rather than a 0.  Which seems better for new players to me.

    4 Character Sheets – New layout.

    1 full page double sided flyer for other Essentials products – “For Players” one one side, “For DMs” on the other side.

    1 Quarter-sheet single-sided flyer – URL and code to download another adventure.

    1 double sided poster map – Side 1: Interior location, stone floors, looks like a bunch of dungeon tiles.  (Used for the adventure in the DM Book)  Side 2: Crossroads map reprint from D&D Minis on one half, Monster Lair reprint on the other half.  Nitpick – The side with the 2 maps folds inside, so to use just one of the maps you have to fold the map against the “natural fold”.

    1 page double-sided tokens – 12 PCs (bloodied on opposite); 5 Action Points; 36 1-inch Monster tokens; 3 2-inch Monster tokens.  Monster tokens have different creatures on both sides.

    • 2 Doppleganger
    • 2 Guard Drake
    • 2 Pseudodragon
    • 2 Bloodseeker Drake
    • 4 Human
    • 4 Lizardfolk
    • 4 Orc
    • 4 Kobold Tunnelers
    • 4 Kobold Slinger
    • 4 Goblin Sniper
    • 4 Goblin Cutthroat
    • 2 Rat Swarm
    • 4 Wolf
    • 2 Stirge
    • 4 Dire Rat
    • 4 Wererat
    • 4 Skeleton
    • 4 Zombie
    • 4 Bugbear
    • 4 Hobgoblin
    • 2 Green Slime
    • 1 Black Dragon
    • 1 White Dragon
    • 1 Armored Horse
    • 1 Gelatinous Cube
    • 1 Dire Wolf
    • 1 Ogre

    7 Sheets of Power cards – 9 cards per sheet.  Decent Quality but a little flimsy.  The green on the At-Wills is very dark, almost black.

    • Hypnotism: Wizard 1 At-Will
    • Magic Missile: Wizard 1 At-Will – Incorrectly allows you to attack 1 or 2 creatures.
    • Phantasmal Force: Wizard 1 At-Will
    • Stone Blood: Wizard 1 At-Will
    • Freezing burst: Wizard 1 At-Will
    • Burning Hands: Wizard 1 Encounter
    • Charm of Misplaced Wrath: Wizard 1 Encounter
    • Illusory Obstacles: Wizard 1 Encounter
    • Leaden Transmutation: Wizard Encounter
    • Fountain of Flame: Wizard 1 Daily
    • Slimy Transmutation: Wizard 1 Daily – Like the sheep/polymorph spell in World of Warcraft.
    • Phantom Chasm: Wizard 1 Daily
    • Sleep: Wizard 1 Daily
    • Mage Hand: Wizard 1 At-Will (Cantrip)
    • Light: Wizard 1 At-Will (Cantrip)
    • Healing Word: Cleric 1 Utility (Class Feature)
    • Blessing of Wrath: Cleric 1 Daily
    • Blessing of Battle: Cleric 1 Daily
    • Storm Hammer: Cleric 1 At-Will
    • Echoes of Thunder: Cleric 1 Encounter
    • Brand of the Sun: Cleric 1 At-Will
    • Sun Burst: Cleric 1 Encounter
    • Nimbus of Holy Shielding: Cleric 1 Daily
    • Lesser Aspect of Wrath: Cleric 1 Daily
    • Levy of Judgment: Cleric 1 Daily
    • Storm Surge: Cleric 1 Utility
    • Soothing Light: Cleric 1 Utility
    • Power Strike: Fighter Encounter
    • Poised Assault: Fighter 1 At-Will
    • Battle Fury: Fighter 1 At-Will
    • Backstab: Rogue 1 Utility – This is in addition to Sneak Attack.
    • Bump and Run: Rogue 1 At-Will
    • Deft Strike: Rogue 1 At-Will
    • Acrobatic Maneuver: Rogue 1 Utility
    • Nimble Positioning: Rogue 1 Utility
    • Defensive Strike: Rogue 1 Utility
    • Ghost Sound: Wizard 1 Utility (Cantrip)
    • Minor Resurgence: Fighter 2 Utility
    • Sudden Sprint: Fighter 2 Utility
    • Sudden Leap: Rogue 2 Utility
    • Tumble: Rogue 2 Utility
    • 4 x Second Wind
    • Shield: Wizard 2 Utility
    • Expeditious Retreat: Wizard 2 Utility
    • Spectral Image: Wizard 2 Utility
    • Bless: Cleric 2 Utility
    • Shield of Faith: Cleric 2 Utility
    • Resurgent Strength: Cleric 2 Utility
    • Athletic Advance: Rogue Utility
    • 2x Potion of Healing
    • Second Chance: Halfling
    • Elven Accuracy: Elf
    • Human Versatility: Human
    • +1 Lifedrinker Greataxe
    • +1 Darkleaf Leather Armor
    • +1 Magic Staff
    • +2 Chainmail Armor
    • Bag of Holding
    • +1 Amulet of Health

    1 Player’s Book – detail later

    1 DM’s Book – detail later

  • Dresden Files RPG Pre-Gens for GenCon 2010

    I’m leaving for GenCon in… 7 hours and I have not slept yet, so this is just a quick teaser look at the Pre-Generated Characters I’ve made for my Dresden Files RPG game Friday night at GenCon.

    The game is called “Supernatural Suspects” and its basically the Usual Suspects meets Leverage meets Ocean’s Eleven.

    I’m going to open the session up with the characters in lineup at jail like in the Usual Suspects.  Running with that theme I decided to make the character sheets look like a Police File or Dossier.

    Here are all 7 of the Pre-Gens files and my GM file.

    A close up of the label.

    Character information is on the first page.

    City Information on the second page, including a map of the Las Vegas “Strip”.

    Behind the map of “The Strip” is a Google Map of Vegas with some locations marked on it.

    And the last page are the reference sheets out of the back of the DFRPG books.

    Here is the Story Sheet you see on the first page.
    Here is the Character Sheet for the same character.

    *Note: We will be doing the “Your First Story” sections of character generation as part of the game session, which is why they are left blank.

    I’ll post more about the game next week when I get back from GenCon.

  • GenCon: Pack List

    Since everyone else is doing it, I figured I’d share my GenCon packing list. This is pretty much a direct cut and paste from Remember the Milk, with some comments added.

    Oh a quick note, since I live about 4 hours from Indy I get to drive.  This allows me to pack and bring things that others would likely have to go without.

    • 5 hour energy – I have late night games on Wed, Thurs and Friday.  I may need an energy boost.
    • Bags – My D&D backpack for “daily supplies”, another bag if the backpack ends up being too small for somethings, and an empty garage bag for dirty clothes.
    • Clothes – Several changes of clothes, more than I will likely need.
    • cough drop (ricola) – Pretty sure I stole this from Ryan Macklin, but I can’t find the link right now.
    • Deodorant / Cologne – Don’t add to the gamer funk if you can avoid it.
    • DFRPG: Cheatsheets
    • DFRPG: Main plot
    • DFRPG: Opening Scene
    • DFRPG: Pre-Gens – All of these for my Dresden Files RPG game I’m running Friday night.
    • Dice: DnD, d6s, FATE – Have dice will game!
    • Drink (Mixes and Alcohol); Orange Crush, Coke – Putting the “drunk” in Drunken D&D.
    • Fate Point tokens – For my DRFPG game.
    • Food?
    • Granolla bars – Good for a fast snack.  I’ll munch on these throughout the day.  (Food was more of an issue at DDXP where I played in every slot, every day.)
    • Gum / Candy
    • Index Cards
    • iPad + Charger
    • iPod + Charger (alarm) –
    • Jerky – Good snack.
    • Laptop + cord + spare battery
    • Lip Balm (Burt’s bees) – Hotels are dry.
    • Mt Dew
    • Other small games – Fluxx, Zombie Dice, Cthulu Dice, and other small games to carry around
    • Pencils – I bought a box of 40 mechanical pencils for DDXP 2009, I still have 20+ of them.
    • Phone + Charger
    • Pills: Claritin-D / Ibuprofin / Stomach / etc
    • Pudding
    • Razor / Shaving Cream
    • Sandwich stuff?
    • Shampoo / Gel / Product
    • Toothbrush / paste / mouthwash
    • Trail mix
    • True Dungeon token
    • Water Bottles – I’ll take a case of water bottles with me.
    • Water flavor packets
    • Yogurt
  • Using the New Monster Stat Block for PCs

    Ever since Bill Slavicsek previewed the new Monster Stat block back in March’s Ampersand Article, many of us have been very excited about it.  Then Greg Bilsland posting his review of How to Train Your Dragon, including a stat block for the dragon Toothless, inspired me to use the new monster stat block for a Player Character.

    I had been thinking about this for a couple of days, and then last night at 2 AM I finally had to do it.  Since today is D&D Encounters at my LFGS, I decided to quickly convert my Minotaur Fighter into the new Stat block.

    I used Excel 2007 to do the layout, mainly because I’m comfortable with it. 

    Here is a sample of how it came out, links to the full version below.


    Original Excel Spreadsheet
    PDF of the full sheet

  • Designing A Game Table

    table_tv_v02Yesterday I took the first step towards building my game table, I went out and bought a 40” flat screen LCD TV.

    I’ve been thinking about building a game table for  some time now and my plans have gone through several different versions along the way.  You can view a rough mock up of my current plans above. 

    A quick overview of the plans:

    1. 64” x 50” tempered glass surface.  (Light blue)
    2. Underneath a 40” flat screen TV. (Gray)
    3. Around the TV a frame built out of 4×4. (Brown)
    4. 2 bars under the TV. Bolted to the TV using the normal wall mount holes.  Attached to the bottom of the 4×4.  This should place the TV just under the glass surface. (Neon green)
    5. 4 legs attached to the corners of the frame.
    6. Someway to secure the glass in place… I’m not sure about this.  Suction cups on the frame perhaps.
    7. I’ll likely attach a power stripe to the outside of the frame, on the DM’s side of the table.

    Why am I using a TV rather than the “traditional” projector?

    There are a few reasons:

    1. Projectors need lots of space.  Whether its throw distance, or room for the projector itself, or whatever.
    2. Projectors cost lots of money.  The 40” TV cost me $500 at Best Buy.  Yes, I could have found a projector in the same price range, but it would have needed even more space between the projector and the surface.
    3. Projectors have to be lined up perfectly.  I wanted to mount the display beneath the table, which for a projector means I needed either a very expensive projector with a short throw distance or else I would have needed to do some funkiness with mirrors.
    4. In the end buying a TV and mounting it below the surface just seemed like a much easier solution to me.
  • Time Stop, May 22nd

    Welcome to Time Stop, your Forth Edition Dungeons & Dragons week in review.  My name is Milambus, and I will be your host for this journey through the highlights from around the Web for the week ending Friday, May 22nd, 2009.  Our journey this week shall take us through the lands of Wizards of the Coast, the RPG Podcasts community and finally into the dark and mysterious world of the RPG Bloggers Network.

    Time Stop for the week of May 22nd, 2009.

  • Time Stop

    The first installment of my new column, called Time Stop, has been posted over at the At-Will blog.  Time Stop is your one stop week-in-review for all things related to Forth Edition Dungeons & Dragons.  In the column, I will be highlighting the best blog posts from the RPG Bloggers Network. Articles that are worth a look even if you missed them the first time around. In addition to blog posts, I will also feature podcasts from the RPG Podcast community. Finally, I will be discussing the news out of Wizards of the Coast.

    Time Stop for the week of May 15th, 2009.

  • Speeding up combat in D&D 4e: Part 1

    One of the largest complaints that I hear about forth edition Dungeons & Dragons is that combat takes too long. I believe that there are several factors that lead to combat running slow. In this article I will discuss a few of these factors and ways that you can speed up your game.

    The first reason that combat can be slow is because people are unfamiliar with the system. Forth edition Dungeons & Dragons has only been out a year now, making it a relatively new game. Another factor that can lead to long combats is a condition called decision paralysis. This happens when a player has so many options that they could take during their turn that they have a hard time deciding which is the best option. This can be amplified by other players giving suggestions to that player causing them to re-judge everything before coming to a decision.

    KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid

    An easy way to reduce player decision paralysis is to decrease the number of powers that each character has at the beginning of a game. By decreasing the number of powers that the character can access, you remove options from the player’s decision making process. This should lead to the player being able to use the powers that remain in a shorter amount of time.

    There are many ways that you could reduce the number of powers that the character has, but here is one suggestion. First, you should be starting your characters at level 1. This will automatically decrease the number of powers that can be used by the character. To go further, I would remove all powers from the character except for one At-Will of their choice. This will give the player some combat working with that first At-Will, and allow them to get used to combat in Forth edition.

    Once your players seem to be grasping the basics of combat, then you give them another power. This power could be either their other At-Will or their Encounter power. Give your players a few more combats with the additional power, then add in a third. If the character has racial powers, including the humans extra At-Will and the half-elfs At-Will turned Encounter, you could give it to them now. Have your players fight a couple more combats then give them their Daily power.

    It’s likely that this many combats could cause your players to reach level 2. Don’t do that. The whole point of this approach is to allow your players the chance to grasp the basic mechanics of the game before you give them too many options. So, even if you plan to use normal experience throughout the rest of your campaign, I would recommend altering it for the first level. Rather than awarding them experience points during that first level, you are awarding them new powers. After they have had a fight or two with the daily power, bump them up to level 2.

    Reward Fast Play

    This is an idea I am considering for my next campaign.  I’ll bring a stop watch to the game table with me, and tell my players that if they can complete their turn within two minutes I’ll give them a token (white poker chip).  The poker chip is a +1 die bump that they can use on any roll that they make, they do not stack and they go away at the end of the session.  A +1 token should be a good reason for players to hurry through their turn if they can, hopefully getting them out of decision paralysis.  However, they should not have such a large affect that slower player’s are hurt if they do not receive them.

    As a note, I’ll be handing out red poker chips which will give a +2 die bump as well.  The +2 tokens are going to be awarded for general “cool” things.  “Cool” things will largely be decided upon by me as we play, but they will include: good roleplay, clever thinking and keeping notes.   I will be doing this because I want to encourage my players to do these sorts of things, but I plan to award experience on a storyline basis.

    Player based Initiative

    Since the DM is the player at the table who typically has the most to do and the most information to track, have one of your players track initiative for you.  This will allow you, the DM, to focus on the bookkeeping of NPC hit points, while a player handles whose turn it is.  I find that players are often waiting for the DM to inform them that it is their turn because the DM is busy writing down damage or noting effects from the last player’s turn.  If you decide to allow a player to handle initiative, try to pick one that is organized, and who usually can run through their turn quickly.  Make sure that the player who tracks initiative is giving people ample warning that their turn is approaching also.


    Another way to speed up combat is to encourage your players to roll their attacks and damage before it is even their turn.  This works well with “Player based Initiative” from above.  If the player knows that they are the next person to act they should be able to have a good idea of what they will do on their own turn, unless things change drastically because of the currently player.  When they know what they will be doing on their turn, they might as well go ahead and make their rolls and add up their bonuses.  Then when it is their turn they should be able to tell the DM what they rolled and narrate their actions.

    Information Management

    I know that this one is going to be anathema to many DMs, but one way that you can speed up combat is to tell your players the defense scores of the NPCs.  From my experience much of combat is played out like this.  

    *Player rolls d20, adds in modifier and gets a result.*
    Player: “I rolled a 15.”  
    DM: “Against which defense.”
    Player: “Umm…”
    *Player checks power card”
    Player: “… AC.”
    *DM shuffles notes around, finally finding the creature that was attacked.. checks the AC score.*
    DM: “That hits”
    Player: “Great!”
    *Player rolls damage, adds in modifiers*
    Player: “9 damage.”
    *DM shuffles notes around looking for the NPC that was just right there… DM writes down the damage.* 

    Rather than going through all of that back and forth between the player and the DM, why not just tell the players up front what the defense is that they need to hit.  If you want to keep some mystery, and not show the NPCs weaknesses right away then wait until a player has attacked a specific defense but as soon as they do tell them what the defense is.

    The Wrap-Up

    There you go five ways to speed up combat in Forth edition Dungeons & Dragons.  Try out the ideas that seem like they will work for your group and let me know how it goes.  This is the first post in what I expect will be a multi-part series.  

    Here is a recap in bullet-style goodness

    • KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.  Reduce the number of powers that your players have at level 1.
    • Reward Fast Play.  Time your players, and give them rewards for completing their turn on time.
    • Player based Initiative.  Have a player track initiative.
    • Pre-rolling.  Encourage your players to make rolls before their turn begins.
    • Information Management.  Tell your players the defense scores of your NPCs.
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