D&D

Explore the Upcoming 5E Campaign Setting of Kisarta for Dungeons & Dragons: Grim Horror at Its Finest

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You remember the teeth of the wolf sinking into your throat and tearing it out. You remember the blood spilling out of you, steaming as it hit the frost-covered ground. You died. But you didn’t enter the afterlife you were promised. Your Soul was lost and trapped somewhere else entirely….

Every Soul that enters Kisarta awakens inside a tomb with their name, in a gloomy and seemingly endless cemetery. As they raise from their tombs, Souls catch glimpses of the faint lights of Limbo, and above them the pale, heatless light of a ghostly sun eternally floating in a black, starless sky: Kisarta.

- From the Kisarta Quickstart Guide

I love reading about new campaign settings, and I was excited to take a look at this setting when the publisher reached out to RollforGeek on Facebook to let me know about the setting and to see if it might be something that interested me.

It has me more than a little intrigued. It’s dark, grim, dismal, and still have beautiful and evocative artwork, which you can see below. If you’ve been looking for a truly dark D&D setting, Kisarta could be for you. It will be published in Italian and English, and it has a Kickstarter that begins on July 22.

What is Kisarta?

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The entire premise of the Kisarta 5E campaign setting is grim and dismal. The city of Limbo is vast, bizarre, and the world is connected to different planes called the Seven Dominions each ruled by a Guardian. The Seven Dominions are not any nicer than Limbo. There’s the Crucible of the Damned, The Howling Forest, The Nameless Abyss, The Ocean of Lost Souls, The Pit of Eternity, The Radiant Citadel, and The Whispering Desert.

There are also the Lords of the Black Circle, who are even more powerful and evil than the Guardians of the Seven Dominions, cults and religions, madness and damnation rules, organizations, new races, changes to classes, new classes, and so much more. In fact, the Abomination class looks like a lot of fun to play. There’s all sorts of weirdness and horror happening in this setting, and that makes me happy.

It includes some brutal rules that you might not be used to in 5E, as well. For example, a short rest in Kisarta is eight hours, and a long rest is seven days. This will make most parties carefully consider how and when they get into combat. It will also require that the GM is creating encounters that are still balanced. This helps to emphasize just how unfriendly this setting is.

The City of Limbo with the Pale Sun Hanging Overhead

The City of Limbo with the Pale Sun Hanging Overhead

There is going to be a lot to explore in this campaign setting, and the quickstart guide only touches on them right now. It’s enough to get you started, and there is a lot of meat in the 35 pages. In fact, there’s more information in the guide than I’ve found in some fully released products that are twice the size. I can’t wait to eventually get my hands on the fully realized product.

I suggest that you consider checking out the free guide. You can download it here or through DriveThruRPG.

Check out the free guide to see if it might be something that’s right for you and that you will want to support through the Kickstarter. You can also learn more and provide feedback by checking out the Kisarta Facebook Page or the official Facebook Group.

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5 Things I Love About Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

I’ve finally had some time to go through the latest offering from Dungeons & Dragons, Ghosts of Saltmarsh and thought I would let folks know about a few of the things that I really enjoyed and found useful from the book. I imagine that some others will find these to be useful, as well, and it might help them in their buying decisions. So, let’s take a look at five things that I love about this supplement.

Thing the First: The Town of Saltmarsh

All seven of the adventures in the book take place in and around the area of Saltmarsh, which really could be placed in just about any campaign world with very little tweaking. The town itself has quite a bit of background information provided, and it might be fun to have characters from the town or a nearby settlement. There are even some new backgrounds, along with tips on how to use backgrounds from the Player’s Handbook in the setting. New backgrounds include Fisher, Marine, Shipwright, and Smuggler.

The town and the region are well-detailed with plenty of places to go, factions, NPCs to interact with, locales for adventure, and more. Geographic features of interested include The Dreadwood, Drowned Forest, and Hool Marshes.

There is plenty to mine from in the book even if you don’t use the adventures as they are written. I usually pick and choose with these sorts of books, and there is a lot here, as you will see. Actually, this is one that I might try to run some of the adventures closer to how they are written rather than just mining from them.

Thing the Second: The Ships, Crew, and Upgrades

There are several stat blocks and maps for different types of ships including:

  • Galleys

  • Keelboats

  • Longships

  • Rowboats

  • Sailing ships

  • Warships

There’s some brief information on crew members and officers that a ship would need, there are hull and movement upgrades that can be added to ships, weapon upgrades, figurehead upgrades, and more. One of my favorites, because it is weird, is the Death Vessel hull upgrade, which uses materials harvested from the Shadowfell to provide the ship with an aura of dread… that just sounds neato.

Thing the Third: Combat, Travel, and Hazards on the Seas

The rules for ship combat and travel on the seas are straightforward and simple, which I like. Everything is streamlined in combat and the travel portions. DMs can learn how to add various types of hazards to the travel, and to the combat, such as having a fire erupt on a ship while it is in combat. There are simple tables to help deal with a range of issues that could crop up, and best of all, it really helps to ignite my imagination.

Thing the Fourth: Ocean Environs and Ship Encounters

This section of the book deals with all of the strangeness and awesomeness of the sea. You will find information on blue holes, sandbars, coral reefs, learn how currents can affect travel, and learn more about the dangers of the depths. Some of the other fun environs detailed include kelp forests, Kraken graves, eldritch mist, magical storms, and… you get the idea. There is a lot, and they all have DCs or tables with them to make them easy to use.

The Ship Encounters section is great too, making it easy to come up with random encounters quickly. The ship name generator is a lot of fun, as is the crew name generator.

Thing the Fifth: Mysterious Islands

This is a great feature and a simple way to set up some wild and fun encounters for your players. You roll to determine the theme of the island, the leader of the island, and story hooks. Very simple, but great for getting the imagination going. Let’s take a look at a random result that I will roll right now (mainly because I want to roll some dice). And for the fun of it, I rolled up a crew member name.

So…

Our crew member, Drizzly Mast (I swear that’s a possible combo in the book), finds a mysterious island that is about two miles long and five miles wide. Since good ol’ Drizzly has been in the tropics, he will come across a tropical island. It has an “alien” theme and the island leader is a beholder. Some of the inhabitants on the island are cult fanatics who refuse to interact with the characters, seeing them as lesser beings. The story hook rolled for the island is that the leader has a spell scroll of true resurrection in its belongings.

It is a quick and easy encounter that could be a lot of fun and quite a challenge.

These are just five of the things that I love about the book. There are more, but I am already getting dangerously close to 1,000 words.

Do You Need to Buy Ghosts of Saltmarsh?

As with most of the Dungeons & Dragons books that are not a part of the core three (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual), you don’t need them. However, there are some fun adventures in the book, along with the other elements that I discussed above.

It has a lot going for it in my opinion, and if you like nautical adventures and you plan to have some seafaring in your campaign, this is a great way to get some new backgrounds, additional rules, and new creatures that you can use. If you are on the fence and you have the money for it, I’d say go for it. For me, it was well worth the money.

Basics of What You Need to Know About Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron

Well, the Eberron campaign guide is here. Well, it’s mostly here. Currently, you can pick up a PDF version of the guide, which is called Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, on the DM’s Guild by clicking the link. The current cost is $19.99, and having had a quick look at it, I have to say that thus far, there is quite a bit to enjoy.

What I’ve read so far is well-written and engaging, and there appears to be quite a lot that I will want to use. It also makes me want to run a setting in Eberron, which is saying quite a lot since I am mainly a homebrewer.

However, there’s a bit to unpack when it comes to exactly what this book is and why there is not currently a hardback release, as one might initially expect from a D&D release from Wizards of the Coast.

Rumors for New Dungeons & Dragons 5E Settings - Will Eberron Be Coming Soon? What About Other Settings, Like Planescape?

It's been an unfortunately long time since I've been able to post, mostly because the day writing job as a freelancer and the work on other personal writing projects has impacted just how much time I have to write posts. It happens. Hopefully, things will change to give me more time sooner rather than later.

For now, though,  here's a short post based on some rumors and, well, some decent evidence. @BrainClouds (David Flor) posted on Twitter that he discovered that the DM's Guild is adding a setting that many people already know and love - Eberron. It looks like Wizards of the Coast might have leaked their own secret a bit early through the DM's Guild, and David was keen-eyed enough to spot it.

Happy Mother’s Day: D&D Origin Story

I’ve talked about this before. It’s essentially the origin story of why I love and play Dungeons & Dragons, similar to what I have on the about us page. Being Mother’s Day, thought, I wanted to write about it again here because there are just those days where I miss my mother a lot, and this is certainly one of them.

Don’t Be a Backseat DM: Let the Dungeon Master Handle the Game

In the last article, I talked about some tips for those who were new to DMing and gamemastering. I thought it was appropriate to follow up with a quick bit of advice for Dungeon Masters who are now players in campaigns whether they are run by experienced or novice DMs. As the title states, don’t be a backseat DM. What does this mean though?

Don’t Be Afraid to DM! 6 Tips to Help You Get Ready to Take on the Dungeon Master’s Seat

Since the dawn of roleplaying games, there has always been a shortage of gamemasters. Everyone loves to play, but people tend to be somewhat reticent when it comes to sitting in the DM’s chair for one reason or another. Sure, there’s more work that goes into planning a session on the DM’s part than the players’, but it is also highly rewarding. Watching people partake in stories that you’ve created, and watching their characters grow and develop is fantastic.

You get to create storylines and adventures, become the NPCs and the monsters, and develop your own world if you wish (or play in one of the campaign settings already in place, such as Forgotten Realms, Eberron, or Tal’Dorei from Critical Role.)

Of course, there’s also the elements of fear and doubt that creep into the mind when you’ve never been a DM before. You are afraid of getting it wrong.

Don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you think. I’ve written about this sort of thing before, but it bears repeating. Being a DM is honestly not that difficult once you get rolling, and the tips below can help to make it even easier.

D&D Video Update for Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes from Wizards of the Coast

More news (a lot more news) has been released regarding the upcoming D&D book Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but rather than having me dissect it all and write out a long winded post regarding the book, I thought I would provide you with a video of Dragon Talk from Wizards of the Coast. Hosted by Greg Tito and Shelley Mazzanoble, with guests Kate Irwin and Jeremy Crawford who are working on the book, the video delves into much of what we can expect when we get our hands on the book at the end of May.

I have to say, I'm even more excited now than I was when the first information was released.

New D&D Book Coming Soon: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Some great news from the folks at Wizards of the Coast! They just announced that there will be a new book releasing on May 29, 2018, called, as you saw in the title, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. While we don’t know a whole lot about the book quite yet, I’m already looking forward to it based on how happy I’ve been with Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which I find myself perusing and using more and more often.

DM Tips and Opinions: Running a Small Group for D&D and Other RPGs

Back in the day, the crew I used to play with would be six or seven strong most of the time, and that’s what I was accustomed to. Today, I generally run much smaller groups for D&D, Star Wars, and other RPGs. In fact, it’s often just four in total, including me as the DM. There are both good and bad things about running a small group. Let's look into it.

5 Gifts for Tabletop RPG Players

Recently, I put up an article on items that DMs and GMs might like as a gift. However, I don’t want to leave out the players. I also figured I should do it before the holidays, even though these are great gifts no matter the occasion. After all, a gamemaster wouldn’t have much to do if there were no players. So, here’s a list of some items that you may want to consider picking up for some of your favorite roleplayers out there. While they might not need all these items, they can be a lot of fun.

Check out 5 great types of gifts for tabletop RPG players.

DM Tips and Opinions: 10 Benefits of Kids Playing Tabletop Roleplaying Games Like Dungeons & Dragons

Roleplaying games, whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, Starfinder, Cypher System or anything else, really can be for just about everyone. If you are on this site, then there’s a good chance you feel the same way or you at least want to learn more about how RPGs can affect kids.

There’s something magic about these types of games. They pull you away into a new world or into the setting of your favorite book or movie. I feel that they can be great for people of just about every age (why not have people in retirement homes start playing to keep sharp? It's better than sitting and staring at the television). Let's check out some of the best reasons kids should play.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: A Brief Review

So, as an RPG addict and unrepentant diceaholic, it was only natural that I pick up a copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything… not to mention a load of other stuff to play and review on here eventually. Now that I’ve read through a large portion of the guide, I thought I would do a brief review, letting you know a bit about what’s in it, what I think about it, and whether it might be right for your gaming table or not.

Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting: A Brief Review

I’ve become a huge fan of Critical Role and have been following the adventures of Vox Machina for a while now. So, it’s only natural that I would be excited about the campaign book to come out to learn a bit more of what goes on in Matt Mercer’s head. Mercer, along with James Haeck, wrote the guide, which is populated by some gorgeous art straight from the Critter Community.

DM Tips and Opinions: Different Ways to Start Off Your Campaign

The tavern is brightly lit and filled with patrons, eagerly drinking from their tankards. The dwarf at the bar is serving drinks left and right, not breaking a sweat. As the crowd begins to simmer, the door is slammed open. People shout as they are being set upon by two bloody figures…

Quick Review: Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated

Normally, I don’t use a DM’s screen. While I certainly do not have all the rules memorized (not by a long shot), the players that I usually have are knowledgeable enough about the rules that I hadn’t found it necessary, and looking through books for the few things I needed was easy enough. The screen was something I had thought about getting but figured I would wait.

So, when I decided that I was going to put a second gaming group together – of people who have never played – I figured it might be time to revisit the idea of the Dungeon Master’s screen to see whether it might be helpful or not. Here’s what the Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated includes:

DM Tips and Opinions: Heroism, Heart, and Humor

When it comes to running a campaign that your players will enjoy and want to keep coming back to time and again, I believe that incorporating what I called the Triumvirate of Hs can help. As you can tell from the title, these are Heroism, Heart, and Humor. I will briefly explain what I mean by each of these things.

DM Tips and Opinions: Expect the Unexpected and Roll (Role) with It

When new and even some more experienced DMs encounter the unexpected due to what their players decide to do or say in a game, they panic. They try to get what they believe is the story back on track. The problem with tracks is that they are often used as a railroad, and that’s not something the players like very much. They want to have more freedom, and they want their actions to mean something.

When a character wants to try something, I believe that it’s always a good idea to at least let them try. You never know what incredible things might happen, and it could help to make the campaign story, and even the campaign world, more interesting. This goes for all the pillars of D&D play – roleplaying, investigation, and combat. It’s often fun to let things happen and see how they play out.

Let’s look at how this might work by checking out an actual example from the first session of the current D&D campaign I’m running. I’ll write down what happened as best memory serves.

Is This Your Typical D&D Party? Doraleous & Associates

I have been a huge fan of Neebs Gaming (and Hank & Jed on Machinima) since I first discovered the online animated series Battlefield Friends back when I was heavily into BF4. When Neebs and crew created Neebs Gaming, I subscribed immediately (from the very first Conquest and Kittens video) and have been watching religiously ever since. If I ever feel down, I check out Neebs Gaming, and they give me a laugh or two. It’s solid stuff, and I’m very glad they are doing well with all their endeavors.

As I started to look at more of their older Hank & Jed stuff, I learned of an older series they did called Doraleous & Associates. I've embedded the first episode below.