The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide Nov25

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide...

Christmas is coming, folks. And we know gift shopping can be a hassle. What to get your geek buddies that they don’t already to have? What to ask for because no one knows what to get you? We did a Gift Guide to Geek Art already, but thought you might be on the lookout for other ideas too. We did the research for you and have compiled a guide to satisfy every fan’s dream. For the Anime Enthusiast We know RWBY‘s not technically an anime because it’s American; calm down, folks! Calm down. Also, our Small-size editor’s wanted that Attack on Titan hoodie for a long time. Just sayin’. Attack on Titan Hoodie – $34.99 RWBY Ruby Figure – $34.95 Works of H. Miyazaki – $188.99 Crunchyroll Subscription – $6.95/month Princess Mononoke Art Print – $28 Eevee Earrings – $13.16 For the Tabletop Titan No one can understand why the board game organizer is so awesome unless they are a board gamer. Escape: The Curse of the Temple – $70 Dice Bag – $9.95 RPG Dice Set – $9.98 Dungeon Master Screen – $15 Board Game Organizer – $15-$50 King of Tokyo – $39.99 For the Comic Cavalier Marvel’s taking the Star Wars universe to great places… need we say more? Plus some other cool stuff. Star Wars Comics – $4.99 Inky Superhero Art – $30-$75 Superhero Fingerless Gloves – $25 Nimona Graphic Novel – $15.99 Ms. Marvel Comics – $2.99 DC Comics: A Visual History – $35 For the Fantasy Fiend That handmade Falkor, though! Lindsey Stirling album – $9.99 Elf Ear Cuffs – $27.75 The Name of the Wind – $10.79 Handmade Falkor – $131.83 The Grisha Trilogy – $36.53 Game of Thrones Dog Tag – $14.99 For the Sci-Fi Supporter The closest you can get...

Play D&D with Mass Effect Characters Sep01

Play D&D with Mass Effect Characters...

It’s the Mass Effect/Dungeons and Dragons crossover you’ve been waiting for! Perhaps you’ve always wanted to roleplay as Garrus Vakarian, or perhaps you only want to be inspired by Jack’s character with this build and her personality. Whatever the case, I’ve put together some build suggestions. These characters are all Level 10. Jack – Wild Magic Sorcerer Human, Chaotic Neutral Background: Criminal AC: 12 (15 with mage armor) Hit Points 70, Speed 30ft. Stat Block: STR 9 (-1) | DEX 15 (+2) | CON 17 (+3) | INT 11 (+0) | WIS 9 (-1) | CHA 19 (+4) Skill Proficiencies: Deception, Intimidation, Stealth, Arcana Equipment: Boots of Haste, Ring of Spell Storing Notable spells known: mage hand, thunderwave, crown of madness, shield, hold person, levitate, counterspell, fear, dominate person, telekinesis, hold monster, Urdnot Wrex – Berserker Barbarian Half-orc, Chaotic Neutral Background: Pirate AC: 17 (unarmored defense) Hit Points 100 Speed 40ft. Stat Block: STR 25 (+7) | DEX 15 (+2) | CON 18 (+4) | INT 8 (-1) | WIS 8 (-1) | CHA 10 (+0) Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Perception, Intimidation, Survival, Animal Handling Equipment: greataxe, handaxes, Belt of Fire Giant Strength, Bracers of Defense Battle Techniques: Rage, Frenzy, Relentless Attack, Brutal Critical Thane Krios – Assassin Rogue High Elf, Lawful Neutral Background: Acolyte AC: 16 (studded leather) Hit Points 50 Speed 30ft. Stat Block: STR 8 (-1) | DEX 18 (+4) | CON 8 (-1) | INT 11 (+0) | WIS 14 (+2) | CHA 16 (+3) Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Insight, Religion, Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, Sleight of Hand Equipment: longbow, hand crossbow, dagger, Boots of Elvenkind, Bracers of Archery Battle Techniques: Sharpshooter, Sneak Attack (5d6), Assassinate, Infiltration Expertise Samara – Oath of Vengeance Paladin Half-elf, Lawful Neutral Background: Sage AC: 20 (plate armor and shield) Hit Points 80 Speed 30ft. Stat Block: STR 18 (+4) | DEX 10 (+0) | CON 14...

Confessions of a DM: Assuming the Enemy May16

Confessions of a DM: Assuming the Enemy...

In Dungeons & Dragons, it is very easy for players to categorize the beings they encounter into “us” and “the other.” “Us” are often seen as the playable races of Dwarves, Humans, and Elves, and are usually good-aligned individuals who are friendly and easy to get along with. “The other” consists of the races typically characterized as evil: Drow, Orcs, Goblins, and anything else classified as a monster or described as ugly. This concept is further aggravated as the book that contains the stats and descriptions for these “other” creatures is called the Monster Manual. Upon encountering one of these monsters, most players’ first reaction tends to be kill first, ask questions later. In a typical fantasy hack-and-slash game, this kind of thinking and method of gameplay can be expected and accepted as the way things are. As a Dungeon Master (DM), this binary trope is often the easy way to let the players know what I want them to do. I recently set up an encounter where a human merchant was being attacked by a band of hobgoblins. It was easy to predict what my players would do; they assumed the hobgoblins were evil, attacked them, and saved the merchant. After this encounter, I realized that I could continue this trend, but it would morph into a predictably boring game. The cycle of attack, loot, and ask questions later is easy, but not very interesting. There’s a whole lot of hidden fun that is left unexplored and ignored. I don’t have to hide in the safety of my bubble with other like-minded people. I could blame this tendency on my players, but the responsibility falls equally on my own shoulders. The players will often react in the ways that I train them. If...

Confessions of a DM: Player vs. Character Apr22

Confessions of a DM: Player vs. Character...

The thing that sets Role-Playing Games apart from other games is—surprise, surprise—the focus on role-playing! Role-play happens when a player assumes the attitudes, actions, and discourse of another person. Instead of moving a pawn across a board to accumulate points and win the game, the player creates a character, steps into their shoes, and interacts with an imagined world. A player does not lose the game if her character dies; she can create a new character and continue contributing to the shared story. There are quests and goals to achieve, but completing them does not automatically end the game, it propels the story forward. Creating a believable, life-like character can be one of the most delightful parts of RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. Aside from optimizing stats and customizing a build, the player also gets to create a personality and back story. Often, a player will begin with a set of ideals and traits in mind for his character that will evolve as the game progresses. Being true to your character and role-playing is one of the rewarding challenges in D&D. Players are encouraged to make decisions through their character’s eyes and can be called out for using information that they possess but their character does not. Just like their players, characters have diverse personalities and goals that don’t always match up with the rest of the party. The Chaotic Druid will call down lightning on anyone who threatens his way of life while the Lawful Fighter is reluctant to kill anyone who is not first proven guilty. The Sneaky Rogue wants to hoard all the treasure for herself while the Compassionate Cleric wants to give it all away to orphans. And the Neutral Bard just wants everyone to sing a song and get...

NPCs Are People Too Feb29

NPCs Are People Too

One of my favourite parts of being a Dungeon Master is creating and playing the characters that the players interact with. An NPC (Non-Player Character) can be a person, creature, deity, or any other inhabitant of the world who is not represented by a player. It is part of the DM’s job to not only create a world for the player characters (PCs) to explore, but also to fill the world with living beings for them to interact with. The nature of the game puts the PCs at the center of the story. For all the players know, the world appears to revolve around their characters. Players can become conditioned to see NPCs as either quest-givers, loot fodder, XP farms, or final bosses. The world ends up being a vehicle to carry the heroes to fame, fortune, and victory. I am no more special than any of them, I just happen to be the one playing me. Very often, players are surrounded with NPCs that pop in and out of existence based on whether a player chooses to interact with them. All the shopkeepers in a market are glossed over unless a player wants to buy something. The beggar on the street is ignored unless the players think she has a quest for them, or is somehow significant to their story. Hundreds of guards can be killed and looted without a thought, but if a PC’s life is endangered, no power in the multiverse is going to keep his friends from trying to save him. Usually. If he brings snacks. This perspective can lead to a very black-and-white view of the in-game world. The people are immediately divided into two categories upon meeting them. The first is “useful.” This NPC is identified as friendly and...

Dungeons and Cookies

Dylan/Jeziel: All right, guys, I’m back. Gary/DM: Dude, thirty minutes for a bathroom break? Can we get back to the adventure now? Jake/Shade: Where were we? Logan/Mizzah: You’ve forgotten already? Jake/Shade: I got a little sleepy during Dylan’s quest to destroy another bathroom. I dreamt it was already Christmas morning. Gary/DM: Still Christmas Eve. Now, you are in the ice caves under Santa’s workshop. You’ve just reached a fork in the path. What do you want to do? Jake/Shade: I want to listen! Gary/DM: Roll for it. Jake/Shade: (crying) I rolled a one. Dylan/Jeziel: I told you to burn those dice and bury the ashes in the back yard. They’re cursed. Gary/DM: Your character has a problem with earwax buildup. He hears nothing. Jake/Shade: Can I try again? Gary/DM: Yep, at a minus five penalty. Jake/Shade: Ha! A twenty. Cursed? I don’t think so. Gary/DM: You clean out your ear and hear something down the right corridor. Jake/Shade: We’ll go towards the noise. Logan/Mizzah: Wait. Are you sure? What if Santa’s down the other direction? “They are discussing, in Drow, how to prepare Santa to sacrifice him to the spider queen.” Dylan/Jeziel: Then I guess the little children of the world can all blame Jake. Gary/DM: Guys, which way do you want to go? Jake/Shade: I go right! Logan/Mizzah: Fine. I follow. Dylan/Jeziel: Okay. Has my character eaten lately? I think he needs a snack break. *Crunching sound of gingerbread cookies being chowed down upon* Gary/DM: And where did Jeziel get those? Dylan/Jeziel: The last village we stopped at had a Krogers—buy ye one, get ye another free.” Gary/DM: I’ll allow it. Logan/Mizzah: Since you’re not going to share, can we get on with the game? Gary/DM: You hear voices. Jake/Shade: I hide in...

Confessions of a DM Nov27

Confessions of a DM

I had what I thought at the time was a brilliant idea. To solve the conundrum of adding a fourth player into the party midway through a campaign, I would make the new character a spy. He would be offered a substantial amount of money to keep an eye on the original three characters. Then the agency he worked for would betray him, and he would end up working with the three as a double agent. I had high hopes for this plan, and was rather proud of it. The day of the session rolled around and I put my scheme into action. Everything was going fine, until the dice betrayed my spy and the other characters found out he was following them before I’d had time for his employees to betray him. The other players’ characters—a wary paladin, a druid with guarded emotions, and a warlock with a penchant for distrust—were, naturally, suspicious. The poor new character was caught, searched, interrogated, and tied up by the others. The session ended with him sitting alone in a tavern, unsure what to do next, and the other three players leaving town. If I see my life as a tug-of-war, I will always lose, wishing I had put more points into my strength attribute. Things certainly did not go according to plan. If there is one thing I am learning as a Dungeon Master, it is that whatever plans I make, the players will find a way to spectacularly ruin them. I try to plan for how my players will react to what I throw at them, but I cannot prepare for everything, and they will most likely pull something that hadn’t occurred to me. The consequences are often interesting or hilarious, but it means that...

Player vs. character: a D&D tale Sep28

Player vs. character: a D&D tale...

After several months of playing my character, Aravahn—a human fighter who hates goblinoids and searches tirelessly for his long-lost love, Kaitlynn—I made a drastic decision during a turning point of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Reflecting upon this decision later, I began to wonder: Does a player more deeply influence their character, or does the character have a more profound impact on the player? At first, the answer seems quite simple. Of course I influence my character more—I created him so therefore he must think what I think and do what I say. It is true that a character is, at the very heart, a work of fiction. However, all fiction is based on some fact. It would be intellectually dishonest not to recognize the facets of a character I’ve created without recognizing the influence of my own personality upon it. I don’t believe I can breathe life into a new character without some part of me going with it. Even if the designed back story, race, features, traits, class, and skills would otherwise create a character devoid of any trace of their creator, once they begin to actually role-play, evidence of the creator becomes obvious for all to see. I played him for so long that the part of me that went into him became him. For example, one of my D&D buddies plays a paladin (an expedient choice for any Christian role-player) in one game and a rogue in another. However, his mannerisms come through in both. The biggest one is his propensity for ending sentences with the phrase, “so yeah.” He does this whether he is speaking in-character or out-of-character, which I find incredibly amusing. It should be noted that this individual is fairly new to role-playing, but even for veteran role-players,...

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 2) May27

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 2)

There were boulders lining the top of the cliff, and enemy cutthroats hiding behind them. I counted at least four, and recognized Varis among them. They all wore the same black garb, so it was understandable, though incredibly stupid of them, that this group had mistaken Varis for one of their own. Varis must have just gone along with it. I padded forward so I was directly in front of Varis. He noticed and made clicking noises with his tongue at me, patting the ground in front of him as though I was some sort of pet that had come by for a scratch behind my ears. If squirrels could roll their eyes, I would have. I darted up to him and put my paw on his hand. He jumped back in surprise. “What are you doing? came a hiss from the shadows beside us. “Stay down or you’ll blow the whole thing.” An arrow pierced my side as I lunged forward. It barely tickled. This was getting me nowhere. I left Varis to make up some excuse and scurried as fast as I could back to Kriv, transforming back into my half-elf self. I explained the situation, and we came up with a plan. “Good luck,” I whispered to him as I walked back to the cliff base, ready for his signal. But before we could put the plan in place, there was a commotion at the top of the cliff, a yell, and a body came tumbling down, bloody, dead. I didn’t recognize him. I did, however, recognize Varis, who stood at the top of the incline with his sword dripping blood. More shouts pierced the silence and shadows flitted behind him. I took that as my cue and transformed into my most powerful form: a huge, white dire wolf. I leapt up the incline in several bounds to stand by Varis’s side, teeth bared at the oncoming enemies. If the situation hadn’t been so serious, I would have laughed at the surprised expression on Varis’s face as I bounded up the cliff. The enemies didn’t look too keen on approaching Varis now that he had a snarling wolf at his side, either, but we didn’t give them much chance to do any thinking. An arrow pierced my side as I lunged forward. It barely tickled. I was tough. I was winter. My claws were ice. my fangs were knives. I ripped the first enemy’s head off and tossed it over the cliff edge with my teeth. If squirrels could roll their eyes, I would have. Varis swung at one of them with his sword, but the enemy ducked and Varis lost his balance, keeling at the edge of the cliff. Then he pulled his dagger out of nowhere and stuck it in the enemy’s leg, pulling himself up from what would have been an untimely tumble, and causing the enemy to fall off the edge instead. I let out a heaving snort, the equivalent of a wolf chuckle. Rogues certainly were resourceful. Another arrow sailed past me from out of nowhere. The last of the cutthroats, wisely, turned tail and ran. “Oh no you don’t,” Varis growled, pulling out his longbow. I left Varis to deal with the runner, leapt across the chasm to the other side where the arrows were coming from. A second group of four enemies lay in wait, though by that time Kriv had made it up that side of the cliff as well, and they were no match for a dragonborn and a dire wolf. We met up after it was all over, dragged the bodies to cover and looted them. Exhausted, Varis and I collapsed for a quick rest while Kriv stood watch. Then the DM proclaimed the session complete; I got up from the table and went home thinking druids were pretty darn awesome. And that I still should never trust a...

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 1) May26

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 1)...

The DM led our party of three down a path to infiltrate a camp of enemy soldiers. It was just nightfall, and up ahead loomed cliffs that jutted above either side of the path. “We shouldn’t walk through there. That looks like a perfect spot for an ambush,” said Kriv, a dragonborn whose scales glinted in the light of our torches and whose armour weighed more than I did. He probably made an intimidating figure to outsiders, which is a nice trait for someone who had my back. I glanced at Varis; the rogue’s hooded eyes revealed nothing of what he was thinking, as usual. Never trust a rogue, I thought. Just because I couldn’t forgive him for what he’d done in the past didn’t mean I wanted him to get his throat slit. I could’ve volunteered to survey the cliffs, but I was loathe to waste one of my druid transformations. And besides, with our luck we would be outflanked later on by kobolds somewhere; everyone would look at me for bear-fueled tankiness and then I’d have nothing but my staff to hold them off with. While I didn’t trust Varis to maintain his composure anywhere near a keg of ale—plus, never trust a rogue—he was a very good scout. “I’ll do it,” Varis said. Kriv and I nodded in agreement and the rogue left the circle of torchlight, his black cloak merging with the surrounding darkness. Kriv turned to me. “So, got a deck of cards, Lux?” he asked. “I do,” I replied. “Best two out of three?” “You’re on.” Five rounds later, after Kriv had proven he’d spent much more time in taverns gambling than I did, I glanced worriedly in the direction that Varis had disappeared to. The night was eerily silent. “He’s...

D&D: The Last Supper Apr03

D&D: The Last Supper...

DM: Your adventure begins at the local tavern. Lots of trials and executions were going on in the kingdom this time of year so it was quite full. Each of you got relegated to a side room. The room was an awkward size, about 20 feet by 10 feet, and held only a single wooden table. Chairs were scattered about the table, 13 in total, and strangely only lined up on one side of the table. You all take your seats and await a drink and a meal when one well-spoken man, who sat in the middle of everyone, stands to talk. He’s familiar to everyone. “I have eagerly desired to eat this symbolic meal with you before I suffer,” he says. Jude: I want to slip some poison into his wine glass. Jim: What!? Seriously!? We’re just getting started and you’re already trying to sabotage the whole thing? Jude: I love playing chaotic neutral. DM: Sneak check. [DICE] 18 DM: Success. Jude: Dance puppets, dance. DM: He took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it. He passed the bread around to be shared. “Take this my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He shares the bread and then picks up the wine. Jude: Uh oh. DM: “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you,” he says. He gives thanks for the wine and passes it around. Inspired by his speech you all take a sip; everyone make a Con check. Jim: 14 Jimmy: 12 Jon: Natural 20, BAM. Don’t mess with me. Drew: 19, I’m no Jon but I’ll take it. Tom: 13, I think. Sam: 18 Theo: 17, DOMINATION! Bart: 16 plus 2, noble blood baby! Mack: 11 Phil: 8, GAH. I better...