Sarah Darkmagic's blog


Cool Tools: Adopt-A-Soldier, Combat Pad, Flip-Mat Basic and Sacred Myths Legendary Puzzles

Open Design Adopt-A-Soldier Program

Yesterday was Veteran's Day here in the U.S. and while we have our veterans and soldiers on our minds, I wanted to share a really nice program with you. The Adopt-A-Soldier Program allows sponsors to purchase a Kobold Quarterly subscription for an active member of the military. The recipient will receive a four-issue subscription (pdf + print) as well as a free copy of New Gods of Mankind, from Dark Skull Studios. Role-playing games are popular among those who serve our country and I think this is a great way to show them that we care.

GameMastery Combat Pad

I already added this item to the Christmas list I sent my parents (by the way, Google Wave is pretty neat for stuff like that). The GameMastery Combat Pad is a great tool for dungeon masters as it helps easy track initiative order and notes during combat. The board itself is a wet and dry erasable board with a steel core so magnets will stick right to it. It comes with 8 player magnets (blue), 8 monster magnets (black), 4 non-player character magnets (green), and 2 each of the round arrow, turn arrow and next turn magnets. There is also a magnet booster pack available. Along with this tool, I also asked for small colored magnet markers thinking they would probably be useful for monitoring conditions and the like in addition to the magnets we use on the game table. One of the reviewers on the Paizo site showed how he used double-sided tape to attach the pad to a $2 Target picture frame so it could stand up on its own and everyone at the table can see it. He also explained that he uses magnetic tape to create personalized magnets for each of his player characters.

GameMastery Flip-Mat Basic

I've owned two of these flip-mats for a few months now and I love them. Unlike my larger battlemat, there are no worries about which markers I use or how quickly I can clean it off. I've had a map drawn on one of these for months and it came off easily. The only downsides of these versus my Chessex battlemat is that they aren't quite as big and they aren't quite as flat. However, I think their strong points more than make up for that. They fold down to 8 x 10 inches and are easily transportable. For DMs who travel to the game location, this means that the map can be drawn before you arrive and placed out on the table. A number of different marker types can be used, including dry erase, wet erase and permanent marker. In addition, I find them much easier to store than my Chessex mat.

Sacred Myths Legendary Puzzles

This is more along the lines of my Geek Toys (Or things I want to work into my game) post. This set of wooden puzzles are meant to be solved sequentially, although it's possible to solve them in any order. There will be a total of seven of them, with each of them are based around great moments in science and history. From the description, I believe hints are provided. Some players are really good at role playing or and some are good at tactics, but the game can be a bit light on ways to engage puzzle solvers. Successfully completing one of these puzzles might help unlock a big secret or plot point and hints could be obtained through skill challenges.

  1. Davinci's Secret - The Clue
    Break the codes which will help recover the Secret Scroll that is entombed within DaVinci's greatest mystery, unearthing the clues to Puzzle 2...'The Equation'.
  2. The Equation
    Establish a base by arranging the wooden puzzle pieces within the boundaries. Follow by engaging a piece of DaVinci's Secret to decipher the scientist's formulas which must precede Puzzle 3... 'Legend of the King'.
  3. 3. Legend of the King
    With fragments bestowed by 'The Equation', join the quest to liberate the legendary scroll which in turn will extricate the guide to exploring Puzzle 4...'The Enigmatic Temple'.
  4. The Enigmatic Temple
    According to "Legend", there is but one way to explore this sacred site. Sequestered within the temple walls are blueprints needed to interpret the mystic 'Pillars of Atlantis'.
  5. Pillars of Atlantis
    Divide and align these fallen pillars for guidance towards 'Carta Blanca'. Plans to rebuild are at hand, yet no part of 'The Enigmatic Temple™' can reconstruct the entity.
  6. Carta Blanca
    Map your points carefully to expose 'Carta Blanca's mysterious hidden clues as these determining details will sustain you on your final approach to uncovering the greatest mystery of all - 'Secrets of the Pyramid'.
  7. Secrets of the Pyramid
    Coming Soon

Blogs I Love: Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG Blog

This week's post actually includes two blogs, all done by the same person, Michael Shorten a.k.a. @chgowiz. Michael has been playing tabletop RPGs since 1979, when he bought the boxed Basic set. As his personal blog states, he enjoys sharing the fun of original D&D, one game at a time. In addition to his blogs, he is involved in two campaigns, writes reviews on Game Cryer, is an active user of twitter and provides a number of RPG resources on his personal blog. Besides RPGs, Michael is a former amateur stock car driver and he has served in the US Army and US Air Force. While I don't always agree with him, I always enjoy getting his point of view, especially since it tends to involve being creative and doing what seems right, not necessarily what the books say.

Recent Posts

Chicago RPG Examiner's Articles

Recent Posts

Swords & Wizardry

Michael is a big fan of the Swords & Wizardry game by Mythmere Games. As described on their website, S&W is a "retro-clone" of the original version Gary Gygax published in 1974. The makers of the game create products that support free-form roleplaying games, those where there is a light framework of rules instead of a compendium of rules that attempt to cover every situation. With its lighter rules, the goal of the game is to encourage imagination.

D&D Inspires School Video Projects

It seems a number of students use D&D as their inspiration for school assignments, particularly when they are in video format.

Dungeons & Dragons Project

From YouTube: Student created video which won 2nd place in the State student technology competition 2006. Entered in the Video Production Category. Entertainment.

Day in the life of a Dungeon Master

From YouTube: A school video project. Based on true events.....except when the bears lose.

GeekQuest Parts 1 and 2

The series in incomplete but still an interesting watch.

From YouTube: My final project for TV Field Production at West Liberty State College. Many thanks to everyone who assisted in this project! This was filmed in 1.5 days on pretty rigerous scheduel, and precisely zero budget. Kudos to Stephanie Fenrisson for the Death Knight makeup effects, and Justin Harvilla for the Orc effects. Cast: Andew Coulter / Raetog the Smasher Josh McGowan / Renji Myamoto Stephanie H. Fenrisson / Raxsis the Rogue Jeremey Sweeney / Mortax, Elven Soldier Justin Harvilla: Harv the DM / The Druid (Assistant Camera man) Mandy Conner: The sister / Teeny Matt Villella / The Cleric Gail Walls / The Sorcoress Chris Thoburn / Bob The Death Knight Marc Landon: Hero Goblin (assistant camera man/tree climber)

For Want of a Story: Thor

Thor is the red-haired and bearded god of thunder of Norse mythology. He is the son of Odin and the giantess Jörð. Thor has two sons, Magni and Modi, with his mistress, the giantess Járnsaxa and a daughter, Thrud, with his wife, Sif. The family lives in Bilskirnir, the greatest of all buildings and containing 540 rooms. It is located in Asgard, the capital city of the Norse gods. Thor provides many interesting story lines since so many of his stories feature trickery and cunning in addition to pure physical prowess.

Ways to Incorporate Thor

Close companions can be used by enemies.
Loki was captured by Geirrod and, in exchange for his freedom, promised to bring the giant's enemy Thor to him. Thor is saved by the giantess Grid, who tells him of the plan and gives him the magic items that help him defeat Geirrod and all the other frost giants he could find.
Failure can be success in disguise.
Útgarða-Loki, a giant king, outwits Thor at one point. The king challenges Thor and his companions to several contests and they lose every one. In the first, Thor's swift servant Þjálfi runs a race against one of the king's men. Then Loki is challenged to an eating contest against the king's servant Logi. Then Thor is challenged to lift the paw of a cat, to a drinking contest and to wrestle an old woman. It turns out that none of these tasks were what they seemed. The runner represented Thought, Logi represented Wild-Fire, the cat was an illusion of the Midgard Serpent, the horn was connected to the ocean and the old woman was Old Age. Thor left the contest humiliated but it turns out that in attempting the contest at all and getting as far as he did, he had done deeds worthy of his position.
The mind can be a most dangerous weapon
At one point, Thrymr, King of the Giants, steals Thor's hammer and won't give it back unless the goddess Freyja marries him. Of course, Freyja refuses but they decided, against Thor's initial objections, to send Thor in her place, dressed in her bridal gown. He is able to play a woman well enough to convince Thrymr to have the hammer brought to his "wife."
Recurring enemies are the most fun.
Thor is in a life-long struggle to defeat the Midgard Serpent. Sometimes, he calls out the serpent and other times it appears in places, and ways, he least expects it.
A few details of his appearance make him recognizable
Thor is often represented by his uniquely shaped hammer. The weapon is so symbolic of him that it became a very popular ornament during the Viking Age and is a well-known symbol of Germanic paganism.

How might you use parts of the mythology of Thor in your campaign?

Cool Tools: Burst and Blast Templates, Dwarven Forge, and Fighty

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Burst and Blast Templates


One of the guys in my gaming group, @TheMikeKatz, bought these burst and blast templates and they are pretty useful. They help us to easily know if a particular target is within reach and we can leave the burst squares on the table to signify areas affected by lingering spells. The same company also makes condition tile sets to help track conditions but we don't own these and I'm not sure how they work in actual game play. Having the color tie to the player rather than the condition helps with the issue of remembering who exactly caused the condition and makes it easier to say things like, "Hey, it's the end of your turn, do any of these conditions go away?"

Dwarven Forge

Yes, they are expensive. But even more importantly, they are freaking awesome. The envy of many a DM, Dwarven Forge sets help answer simple questions like, are there any candles in the room, where exactly are those pits of lava, and are there any girls there? These sets aren't for everyone as some people would rather be limited by their imagination instead of the amount of money they have and whether or not the piece they want is available. But for the rest of us, we either already own them or continue to drool. Mike Shea, @SlyFlourish, has some great tips for incorporating them into your games. And if you haven't seen Gabe's post on using mirrors and lasers, you need to check it out now. We'll still be here when you get back.

Cavernous Passasge SetCavernous Passasge SetMedieval Building SetMedieval Building SetDen of Evil: HellscapeDen of Evil: Hellscape

Fighty

Ok, this last one isn't quite fair as it's only really available to Google Wave users, but it's still awesome and I just had to gush about it. Daniel Clery, @exedore6, created a Google Wave gadget that allows one to create a virtual battlemap. More details on Fighty are available via the Save vs. Geek blog but these sorts of hacks are exactly why I love my industry so much.

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