Dice Delve: Halloween Comes Early

I give Q-Workshop a lot of grief, mostly because I want them to be better than they are. Their designs are lovely and also many times indecipherable to the naked eye, which makes them a bounty for collectors and an eyesore for gamers who harbor more practical considerations.

That said, I was quite taken with their Top Drawer Dice Kickstarter, which featured a set of dice with a Halloween theme, Halloween Pumpkin dice. This was one of five total sets of interesting dice, some of which were clearly aimed at specific games, and some of which were just cool. I didn't mind some of the other designs, but the Halloween-inspired designs were, to my way of thinking, the clear and only choice.

Well, they came in, and I had a chance to do an interesting side-by-side comparison with another set of dice, also with a Halloween theme, produced by Bescon. Side-by-Side! Head-to-Head! A Grudge Match to end all Cage Fights! Carnage Mayhem! Ah HAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!

Okay, maybe not. But here&#…

Dice Delve: Tarot Dice As Big As the Ritz

One of my table top RPG peculiarities is my separation between creation and play. To wit, I have a very different set of dice at my desk for when I'm thinking up cool things to foist on my unsuspecting players. This differs sharply from the dice I use when I am running games at the table, which tend to be more thematic or associative.

When I create, I use various special dice as inspirational items/desk toys/impartial arbiters of chaos and doom. Dice like my various skull dice. My arrows of chaos dice. My favorite d20 dice in the whole world. Things like that. I even have some Rory's Story Cubes in case I want to just wing it, usually as a thought experiment.

Of course, that's not all in my Thinking Kit. I have coins, tokens, cards, and other objects to fiddle around with. It's not a set thing; I trade bits and bobs out often. But I almost always have a tarot deck in the box, if not nearby, because I love the symbolism that's front-loaded on the cards. I've ev…

Dice Notes: Beating a Dead Horse (literally)

After the last post, I had hoped to start talking about some aspects of my 5th edition campaign that may be useful and/or instructive to other DMs, but then something happened that curtailed all of that: I got my order from Infinite Black's second Kickstarter, Elder Dice: Unspeakable Tomes. This was a huge relief, tantamount to the scratching of an itch in the middle of your back, as their Facebook page has been dominated with posts from people lamenting that they haven't gotten their dice yet, followed by another post from someone who ordered one of everything, proudly displaying their new wares and cackling like the mentally deranged. For variety, as a palate cleanser, someone would jump in and post a picture of a crushed shipping box, with the notation, "But the dice inside were fine!"

A couple of people voiced concerns or complaints, and the devoted rank and file set upon them with pitchforks and Internet Sarcasm, in disproportionate ratios, and while I had alwa…

Dice Notes: Some Friendly and also Unasked-For Advice

There is always a dice project on Kickstarter, it seems, and most often, more than one at a time. If you are dice-happy, or worse, dice-drunk, like some people I know, this can be both heady and frustrating. Mostly because we all have bills to pay, and people to feed. I've tried eating dice, and it just doesn't work.

I am no stranger to buying interesting dice. However, I'm seeing some...trends, let's call them, that are not just making me crazy, but also really dampening my interest in funding an otherwise great idea. In some cases, I think these are poor decisions based on a lack of experience and/or graphic arts training, and in other cases, they are just things that I personally don't like. I'll try to let you know which is which.

In any case, I'm not randomly throwing people under the bus. I really want your project to be a success, to be something interesting to add to the hobby, to be something I can partake in. I'm not being mean for the sake o…

Lankhmar: An Appreciation

I mentioned this before in my litany of stuff I used to play, but I wanted to drill down on this because I'm going to be talking about campaigns and how I run them and why I run them the way I do. It's mostly because of Lankhmar: City of Adventure.

Back in the 1980s I was a good li'l consumer of TSR's stuff. I kept up with new releases, back when you actually HAD - TO -  KEEP - UP with stuff; there was no button to click, no page to "like." You had to remember to call the hobby shop or the bookstore once a month. You had to read magazines and actually look at the ads. You had to look on the backs of modules for lists of other products. You had to talk to human beings in meat-space. You had to beg rides to the mall (or gas money, when you could borrow the car).

There is a reason, terribly misguided, why some older neckbeards feel a predatory sense of ownership and do that Gatekeeper thingie; it's because they are resentful that they had to do everything t…

Appendix N: Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard!

I think we're going to just skip all the usual bloggery about how it's a new year, and with it comes a renewed interest in blogging, and a solemn  promise to post more regularly and yadda yadda yadda* and start with something useful and interesting: today is Robert E. Howard's one hundred and thirteenth birthday.

For those of you who grew up on Appendix N, or maybe you came later to the party, Robert E. Howard (o "REH") is widely credited as the father of Sword and Sorcery (and, I argue, also the Weird Western as it is practiced today), or "heroic fantasy" if you prefer that distinction. I don't think it matters much what you call it, but when you add to that, "You know, Conan?" everyone knows what you mean.

I have been associated with the Texas author professionally since 2001, having penned a number of articles and essays, book introductions and afterwords, comic book stories, role-playing gamesold time radio plays, and of course, an

Reviewing Strongholds & Followers

I have been a little busy with real world stuff these past couple of months—the kind of things that are health-related—and so I have not been as active on the blog as I would like. Sorry about that. But I am still working, writing, and thinking about gaming and Dungeons & Dragons in particular. To that end, I will point you to Matt Colville’s YouTube channel, because he eats, sleeps, and breathes this stuff and I find myself in agreement with him, like, 98% of the time, when it comes to running D&D games. This is very likely because we are about the same age and have experienced many of the same things, and also we have very similar tastes regarding First Edition Stuff (such as Appendix N) and how we use it in gaming.
Colville is also very sincere and genuine in his discussions (really a monograph) of running and playing D&D. It shows, and it’s one of the things that makes him so likeable. It almost makes me forgive him for mispronouncing “archetype” every single time he s…