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Child's Play: IKEA Play Mat Turned D&D Map

Recently I finally set up my child's play mat (it was a Christmas present, life comes at you fast when you have a toddler). I fell in love with the idea of carpet play mats and when I saw a town one at IKEA, I had to get it for him. He just recently started to really play with cars and trains and can play in his room while I do chores, so it was a perfect time to set it up.

I'll admit when we picked it out, I didn't look too closely. Little dude still wasn't quite sleeping through the night. But, as he sat there playing, I started noticing some interesting details.

Like how most of the houses were all built around this single apple tree.

Or this forest with large mushrooms in with the trees.

I'm not sure I quite understand why this highway encircles the lighthouse.

But the real interesting part of the play mat is in the upper right corner.

Sure, a farm doesn't seem that strange. Even one with a cactus and teepees. (Note: I didn't notice the teepees before I bought it or I might have skipped this mat. But I will have a conversation with Little Dude about them one day.) It's what the farm is next to that made me realize that in just a few more months (ok, maybe a couple years), this might be his first D&D map.

That's right, children. One day, Thomas the tank will be exploring the cave of lost souls or whatever we decide to call it. I already have a big fluffy d20 that Little Dude can roll and a wicked imagination.

Flip Through: Threadbare Stitchpunk RPG

Last Gen Con I also picked up a copy of Threadbare: Stitchpunk RPG. In it, you play "in a broken world populated by broken toys."

Threadbare is Powered by the Apocalypse which means it's underlying system revolves around 2d6 +/- bonus or penalty. The result then fits into 1 of three categories:

10 or more
You not only succeed but you succeed in the way you wanted.
7-9
You succeed but a cost or complication gets added.
6 or less
You do not succeed. Parts are damaged. You gain a hold that can be spent later.

It's not always clear from the description but there is a tilt towards failure in this system. Here's an image with the possible results ranging from a -2 penalty to a +2 bonus.

(If it's too hard to see or my color choices present a problem, you can view the spreadsheet here. I changed the spreadsheet to use different font choices in addition to color to help differentiate the groupings.)

With 2d6, there are 36 possible combinations of roles. Without any penalties or bonuses, you are expected to get 10 or more 6 out of 36 times. With a -2 penalty, you are expected to get a 10 or more just 1 out of 36 times and with a +2 bonus, you would still would likely only get it 15 out of 36 times. For the 6 or less category, those numbers are 15, 26, and 6, respectively.

I don't point this out to make a comment on whether it's good or bad, most of that depends on you, your group, and what type of play they want. But it does mean that how the game feels to an individual can depend on how risk averse they are and also how much control over their own story they want. While most games don't give complete control to a player, since there is failure, in powered by the Apocalypse games, success isn't binary and the mid-tier explicitly provides an opportunity for the game master to provide more input through the cost/complication element. Just know what you like and what you're getting into.

In addition to the game mechanics and game master tips, the book provides not only some adventure starters but also tutorials on how to build your own "broken toy." This part I particularly love, especially since some of the tutorials involves getting out your toolbox.

Overall, it looks like a fun game and I'm looking forward to exploring it more.

Flip through: Baby Bestiary

Today I flip through The Baby Bestiary from Metal Weave Games. I saw this while walking the floor at Gen Con last year and just had to have it.

For those who aren't interested in videos, the book is a system neutral supplement with information about baby fantasy creatures. It provides you with general details on the challenges of raising such creatures and then gets into detail for each race.

The races included are:

  • Basilisk Lizardling
  • Blink Puppy
  • Bulette Billy
  • Centaur Foal
  • Cerberus Puppy
  • Chimera Cub
  • Cockatrice Chick
  • Couatl Neonate
  • Dragon Wyrmling
  • Elementlets
  • Eyelings, Dodomeki
  • Gelatinous Cubelet
  • Gnoll Cub
  • Griffen Hatchling
  • Hippocampus Fry
  • Kirin Foal
  • Kitsune Pup
  • Kobold Kid
  • Leviathan, Little
  • Manticore Cub
  • Mimicling
  • Minotaur Calf
  • Nightmare Colt
  • Owlbear Cub
  • Phase Kitten
  • Phoenix Hatchling
  • Rakshasa Kitten
  • Rust Weevil
  • Sphinx Kitten
  • Titan Tyke
  • Treant Sapling
  • Wyvern Elver
  • Aboleth Spawn
  • Baku Calf
  • Balrog Emberling
  • Beithir Hatchling
  • Bugbear Kid
  • Djinayni
  • Dragon Turtlette
  • Elder Godspawn
  • Enfield Pup
  • Gargoyle Mouldling
  • Harpy Child
  • Hippogriff Foal
  • Hound Archon Pup
  • Hydra Snakelet
  • Kraken Paralarvae
  • Lightning Lizardling
  • Lizardfolk Whelp
  • Medusa Daughter
  • Myconid Sporeling
  • Naga Hatchling
  • Ogre Magi Apprentice
  • Orcling
  • Otyugh Scrap
  • Pegasus Foal
  • Pertyon Hinulus
  • Pseudodragon Wyrmling
  • Purple Worm Violet
  • Remorhaz Chrystid
  • Satyr Foal
  • Sea Lion Pup
  • Shambling Tuffet
  • Shrieker Button
  • Simurgh Pup
  • Tarasque Hatchling
  • Tatzelwurm Kit
  • Troglodyte Tadpole
  • Troll Buddie
  • Umberal Erebect Nymph
  • Unicorn Foal
  • Wolpertinger Kit
  • Xornling

Each race has a two page spread, with one consisting of full page artwork with an example of the creature and the other page including information about that particular race. There are two standardized bits of information about each race: rearing difficulty and intelligence.

If you enjoyed this look at the product and would like to obtain it, the PDFs can be purchased from RPGNow (Volume 1 and Volume 2 - Affiliate links). If you are interested in print copies, it appears that they are currently out of print. However, they ran another Kickstarter earlier this year to fund a reprint. You can preorder from Backerkit.

D&D Papercrafts from R-N-W

I recently found out about a series of D&D printables available via the R-N-W website. The site, run by Rose, offers creates hand drawn aids such as character sheets, item cards, and more. When I found the site, I knew I needed to try it out. So, I grabbed some pdfs, printed them out, and got to coloring.

Printing

I used my Canon ink-jet printer to print them out. One thing to know is that Rose lives in the UK, which means there are two sizes for printing out, A4 and US Letter.

I printed mine on Neenah Classic Crest Super Smooth Solar White 80# Cover 8.5"x11" (Amazon affiliate linknon-affiliate) It went great.

Coloring

Since I used an ink-jet printer, I realized it would be risky to use water-based media to color it in. So I used my Bllick Studio alcohol-based brush markers. It was a lot of fun and took about an hour (while hanging out with a friend on Skype) to finish. I didn't use them this time, but colored pencils would be great for this as well. Or if you can print on a laser printer, you can likely use water-based media such as watercolors, watercolor pencils, or inktense pencils.

Color all the things!

In addition to the item cards I colored in, there are a few other types of printables.

Equipment Packs

Image from r-n-w.netImage from r-n-w.net
When cut out and glued according to the instructions, these printables create "packs" for item cards and other aids. I purchased the full set which has packs for burglar, diplomat, dungeoneer, entertainer, explorer, priest, and scholar. It also includes the tools. Each of these packs often include the item cards for each background.

Basic Weapons

Image from r-n-w.netImage from r-n-w.net
I also picked up the basic weapons pack. For each weapon, it has the cost, weight, damage, damage type, type of weapon, and characteristics (e.g. reach, two-handed). The font is also provided as well as a blank version for your own creations.

Character Sheets

The site has hand drawn character sheets as well as 12 class-specific character sheets. The classes covered are: barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, and wizard. Class specific sheets are between 3-5 pages with areas containing information specific to that class. There is also a pack of character sheets to help with multi-classing and another pack with "extras" such as inventory and role playing details.

Game Master and World Building Kits

There are a few variations of a game masters kit to help with organizing your game. Some kits even have paper miniatures. In addition, there are a number of sheets intended to help you build (and document) your world.

Overall I've been really happy with the items I bought from the site (Full Equipment Packs, Basic Weapons, and Game Master Kit Deluxe). I'd love to see more, especially if this type of product is compatible with DMs Guild. If you're interested, in addition to this website, Rose and Niels have a patreon where they are working on creating "quest packs" for a 5e module they are creating.

Now to find some time without my toddler crawling all over me. :)

Unboxing of VISITOR in Blackwood Grove

During PAX East I finally had the chance to play VISITOR in Blackwood Grove. I enjoyed it so much, I got right in line after my game to pick up a copy for home. What did I like about it?

Box of VISITOR in Blackwood GroveBox of VISITOR in Blackwood Grove

Well, besides being a huge fan of Mary Flanagan and the crews of Resonym and Tiltfactor, I love games that make you think of the multiple facets an individual item may have. But to explain that, I need to explain the game.

VISITOR in Blackwood Grove is inspired by those alien visitor movies of the 1980s. You know the ones, where an alien arrives, is friendly but wary, and inevitably we end up in a race between a kid or US federal agents as to who gets to the visitor first. That plot is what drives the game play and mechanics of this game.

The smallest game play size is 3 players. One plays the visitor, another plays the kid, and the remaining person plays an agent. If there are more than 3 players (the max is 6), those additional players also play agents. There are 4 total agencies represented in the tokens, but all the agents have the same mechanics available to them and, importantly, they do not work together (which is also a common theme in movies but also often in real life).

To protect itself, the visitor starts by setting up a force field and a rule about what can make its way through the field. The game box comes with example rules but the player of the visitor can come up with their own as well. During my play through, the rule was larger than a human. All players have access to a set of picture cards that are used to represent various objects.

Examples of cards that are in (match the rule) and ones that are out.Examples of cards that are in (match the rule) and ones that are out.

While both the kid and the agent have the ability to learn more about the rule. At the beginning, the kid has to do everything openly, until it has earned the trust of the visitor. The agent, however, can ask the visitor whether or not a particular item would be in or out under the rule. This is done in secret, however, because, well US federal agents and all.

Eventually, players may have guessed what the rule is and at that point they can attempt to prove the rule. This is where things get interesting. To prove the rule, the player needs to pass a test. They select 4 images and group them according to whether they believe that the item would be in or out. At the same time, behind their screen, the visitor uses tokens as stand ins for the 4 cards and positions the tokens to show whether they would be in or out. If both the visitor and player agree, then the player wins. If they don't, a negative action typically befalls the player.

Example of an attempt to prove the ruleExample of an attempt to prove the rule

Most importantly, at this point no one has said what the rule actually is. Everyone at the table has gained more information and everyone can continue to play.

While it's pretty fun within the game as is, I immediately started to think about other places where I could use this sort of test. I think it would be super interesting in terms of an otherworldly creature in D&D or Starfinder, one that only communicated in symbols and images. The resolution could either be done as a mini game during one game session or could expand across game sessions as player characters unlocked more clues. If one wanted to have more than just player skill involved, limited skill checks could be used to provide guidance.

Either way, I had a lot of fun playing and I hope you get a chance to check it out. You can find information about the original Kickstarter or find out more information about this and other awesome Resonym games at their official site. A special thanks to Sukie for running the demo.

Finally, I have an unboxing video on YouTube.

Send feedback using the contact form or through twitter, @sarahdarkmagic.

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