Sarah Darkmagic's blog

Geek Toys (Or things I want to work into my game)

There are a few items over on the ThinkGeek site that I've been wanting to incorporate into my game. They are a little pricey, but basically they are toys I want anyway and think they would be great doing double duty as gaming props.

Wooden War Engine Kits

Wooden War Engine KitsWooden War Engine Kits
What war would be complete without a war machine or three? There are two different kits. For shorter range targets, use a catapult, and reserve the trebuchet for long distance fighting. You can set up a skill challenge for your players and what better way to celebrate a success than letting them play. Then bring them to the office and surprise a few co-workers with your awesome battle skills.

Wooden Hydraulic Machines Kit

Wooden Hydraulic Machines KitWooden Hydraulic Machines Kit
What evil scientist's lair is complete without a cherry picker? What ancient dragon's tomb can't use an excavator? The package comes with a total of four kits: Scissor Lift, Platform Lifter, Cherry Picker, and Excavator. Use these wooden hydraulic machines to provide a sense of wonder to your game.

Magnetic Accelerator Kit

Magnetic Accelerator KitMagnetic Accelerator Kit
Perhaps there is a pressure sensitive plate in the floor that your fighter doesn't recognize or maybe it goes off in the face of your party's thief. Either way, this is a fun little device that will evoke memories of movies like Indiana Jones.

Magnetic Levitation Activity Kit

Magnetic Levitation Activity KitMagnetic Levitation Activity Kit
It's a train or at least a floating platform. Although it's probably more evocative of Eberron than any other D&D setting, I just love the thought of this device. Want to play out the train coming into the station? Now you can. magnetic levitation for the win.

Slash and Cast: New D&D Podcast

Slash and Cast PodcastSlash and Cast Podcast There is a new D&D podcast in town. The host, Antony Gettig, a veteran podcaster and former radio personality, played Dungeon & Dragons in the early 80's and recently started playing again. Like me, his interest was piqued by the D&D podcasts done by Wizards of the Coast.

Most shows will feature D&D news and a main show topic, generaly a discussion with a co-host or an interview. Show notes for the first show can be found here. The next show will focus on ways to maximize your role playing experience and some tips for playing dungeon delves.

Perhaps most importantly, he spent some time talking about my homemade dungeon tiles. I definitely look forward to listening to more episodes in the future. In particular, the news feature will be incredibly useful since I can listen to it while I work.

Look at Forgotten Treasures: L2. The Assassin’s Knot

As an adult, newbie dungeon master with a full-time job and other such responsibilities, I don't have as much time to devote to crafting my game as I might like. Which means, while I would love to spend hours drawing maps, doing so would take time away from what I consider to be even more important items, story development and encounter planning. For this reason, I've been looking through some of the 3rd edition archives available on the Wizards of the Coast website.

This led me to discover what I consider to be a pretty cool module written in 1983, L2. The Assassin's Knot. While my main interest in the module at this point is for the maps and some descriptions of the town and its inhabitants, I think it would be interesting to update the module for 4th edition play. Unlike many modules I've read, you get to play Sherlock Holmes instead of going to "here there be monsters" and slaying them. I know my husband has been wanting to play in a game with more intrigue and mystery, so I will probably be borrowing those elements over time as well.

For my Newham campaign, Garroten becomes Derby, a small town on the Susswasser River, the House of Abraham (inn) becomes the Crown and Arrows, and the castle becomes the home of the Duke of Derby, his wife, his son Alric, and daughter-in-law Margaret. Without her husband's knowledge, Margaret had promised her first-born to a goblin in exchange for the secret of how to spin straw into gold and, well, the payment is about to come due. I kept most of the stores available in Garroten but added my own twists to them and changed the temples to revere the gods that the inhabitants of Newham Shire are most likely to celebrate. So far, using the preexisting structure from the module has allowed me to add a lot of flavor to the game without taking a lot of effort on my part. I get to fill in the blanks instead of having to come up with the blanks and then filling them.

The DMG suggests that dungeon masters "steal" as much as they need to craft their games and I think these archives are a great resource for doing just that. I'm thinking of modifying the maps from Return to the Temple of the Frog for my Lizardfolk city.

3.5 D&D Archives
Adventure Archive

Homemade Dungeon Tiles

I really like tiles. They let me create encounter maps in a modular setting and make things up on the fly. While I like the ones created by Wizards of the Coast, I find that you often need multiple sets and that can get expensive over time. Besides, I really like the arts and crafts time I get to spend when I make my own.

* Foam sheets - I got mine at Ben Franklins. They are 9x12 and are available in a number of different colors.
* Markers - I used Sharpie brand permanent markers.
* Clear contact paper
* A ruler - It can double as a straight edge for drawing the lines.
* Card stock - Use it to create removable terrain features.
* Adhesive tack - Use it to "pin" down the tiles.

1. Draw grid on the foam. Permanent markers work pretty well, just don't push down too hard.
2. Cover the tiles with clear contact paper.
3. If you want to make the rooms, doors, and other items to be permanent, draw them out now with permanent marker. Mistakes can be removed by wiping the tiles with a dry paper towel or cloth. Some marks can be removed the next day with rubbing alcohol.
4. Place the tiles down on the surface. You can use adhesive tack to help keep them in place. In my case, I like putting them down on a battle mat to make lining them up easier and, in cases of town settings, the rest of the encounter area is already set up. In addition to the tiles, you can make encounter features out of card stock, such as crates, trees, and beds.

Blank foam sheetBlank foam sheet
Foam Sheet with GridFoam Sheet with Grid
Laminated tilesLaminated tiles
Example estateExample estate
Example innExample inn
Adhesive tackAdhesive tack
Apply tack to back of tileApply tack to back of tileExample dungeonExample dungeon
Example courtyard with treesExample courtyard with trees

Wizards DM Hotline

Most people reading my blog already know this, but Wizards is hosting a DM hotline October 8-11, between 2pm and 6pm PDT. More details can be found on their site.

This is a great idea and I hope they do more of them. Now I just need to think up some questions to ask.

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

Resources for FAQs



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