Sarah Darkmagic's blog


Flip Through: Waterdeep Dragon Heist

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist recently arrived in local gaming shops and I grabbed a copy of my own on Friday. I knew I needed it once I heard that Dyson Logo's maps would feature in the book and I wasn't disappointed. I've only had the time to do a superficial look at the book but if you're curious as to what you would find within the book, check out my flip through.

One of the big things I noticed during the flip through is the diversity of skin tone in the art. This makes a lot of sense in a city of Waterdeep's size, especially since it is a port city. One of my favorite images is that of Vajra Safahr, The Blackstaff.

Waterdeep Dragon Heist - Vajra SafahrWaterdeep Dragon Heist - Vajra Safahr

As I was preparing for this post, I found folks discussing a sidebar I had missed during my flip through that explains the emphasis on diversity in the artwork (and my understanding, the text as well). The sidebar is in the Volo's Waterdeep Enchiridion section and I hope folks can forgive me for the extended quote because I believe all of it is important.

A Wondrous People

Whenever you find yourself in a bustling city, you're likely to spot a wonderful variety of folk. You hear words in languages utterly foreign to you, and you smell dishes both delectable and strange. Waterdeep is the ultimate city of such delights, and before long, the alien thing becomes familiar to you, and the stranger becomes your friend.

The people of Waterdeep are among the greatest of its splendors. Fashion, comportment, love&emdash;these things are practiced with an art and a zest in the city uncommon elsewhere. Visit a festhall or festival and see for yourself! And don't miss the cross-dressing performers who regale audiences with humor and song. Fabulous&emdash;that word doesn't begin to describe it, especially when they enhance the merriment with magic.

The city is also a haven for those who define for themselves what it means to be a man or a woman, those who transcend gender as the gods do, and those who redefine entirely who they are. What confidence! I never tire of witnessing it. I have seen folk in Waterdeep whose lives are more magical than the marvels possible with spells.

There's a lot going on here. I've seen quite a few people share their joy over feeling that their way of being is explicitly and enthusiastically included in the game world. These things matter to some folk.

I also saw some negative. I don't want to dwell on it here except to say that I've had long conversations with authors of the Realms as well as ardent fans. While it is true that folks of all kinds have existed in the Realms from the beginning, it's also true that they did not always get the sort of attention that they deserved nor was it always clear that not only existed but that they were fairly common. People often bring the baggage of the real world into the fantasy world, especially around issues of gender, sexual orientation, race, and the like. If we want the fantasy world to be different than the real, we have to make those differences clear. And the art work and the sidebar help greatly with that.

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. :)

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