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Have Dice, Will Travel

So, this is a thing that happened; I just did my first gig as a professional DM.

This has been a long time coming. I've been teaching D&D to people for years--decades, really, and using D&D to promote language arts, stimulate communication skills, and encourage role-playing and creative problem solving. I have also taught the game to lots of people who want to swing swords, cast spells, and kill monsters. So, win-win.

The professional Dungeon Master sits at the intersection of today's Gig Economy and the rise in Geek Culture. A lot of people are intrigued by Dungeons & Dragons, and would like to play the game, but there is still something about the game, no matter how well-written the current rules are, that make it an activity that is better taught by someone who knows what they are doing instead of puzzled out for oneself. YouTube has helped, somewhat, but honestly, there's no better learning experience than roiling the dice for yourself.

I suppose now I'…

Dice Delve: A Duo of Dueling Diffusions

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The artisanal craft dice market continues to expand and contract like the big bang model of the universe in its own teapot tempest of a cottage industry. It's gotten so widespread and self-referential to have spawned the appearance of trends, I swear to Crom. Trends! For Dice! Lately the up and coming seasonal trend seems to be a spin on the glitter dice of old, only with confetti-sized sparkly-stuff suspended in clear acrylic, like a frozen snow globe. I won't be reviewing any of those dice.

But I did pop for something that was quite the rage last season, and that was clear dice with a second translucent (or two) swirled into the clear acrylic. As one of those "Oooh pretty" ideas, several (as in, many) dice companies dove into coming up with clever name and color combinations seemingly overnight; these things hit all at once, and there were actually concurrent Kickstarters running for two different company's iterations of these dice. I made the executive decisio…

DIY Corner: Condition Markers ( A Tabletop Tokens Add-On)

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This isn't a full-on DIY Corner, but rather a Supplemental add-on to the post I previously made about making your own tokens for your tabletop tactical play. This method is cheap (relatively) and lets you customize your tokens to match your campaign style, your personal aesthetics, and your part preferences. Also, they cost out to about 27 cents a token. Pretty cheap.

I'm using them and the players are loving them. But I have three spell casters in my group and they are constantly casting hold spells, chromatic orbs, and all of that jive. For large battles and small, you need some condition markers.

Whilst tooling around on the Interwebs recently, I stumbled across a site that was selling pendant supplies (the cabochons and epoxy stickers I use for the tokens being, in the parlance of our times, otherwise known as "pendant supplies." As I was glancing down the page, I noticed the glass cabochon embedded in a colorful ring, you know, to make a pendant.

It was these. …

Dice Delve: Black Plague Dice

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Oh, Halloween, with your banquet of delights, how I love you almost as much, if not more, than Christmas. Especially when people you like put out stuff that you love that lands in October like it was planned all along. I'm talking about Black Oak Workshop and their latest offering, Black Plague Dice.

Those of you keeping score at home know that I love Skull Dice, so much so that I did a little write-up about them last October. Well, lookee what I got in the mail the other day! Cool stuff for my ongoing collection! These are not my first Black Oak Workshop dice, either. How do these stand up?

Black Plague Dice by Black Oak Workshop SCORE: 5/5
Clarity   Yes
Heft       Yes Color     Yes Theme   Yes ValueYes

I've backed several of their Kickstarter campaigns right now, and I've been very happy with the results every time. These folks do great design work, at an affordable (for an Artisanal Craft Dice maker) price, with great customer service and quality materials. You can't g…

DIY Corner: Inspiration Tokens

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One of the great additions to 5e D&D is the concept of inspiration, a way to instantly reward good role-playing, puzzle-solving, decision-making, or any other in-game thing a player does that the DM deems noteworthy.

The current rules suggest using a poker chip to give to the player with inspiration as a token to remind them and you that they get a do-over roll by handing it in.

You're probably award of the multitude of metal coins available to gamers great and small, ranging from the baffling to the bewildering, in a multitude of styles, and that's not counting the metric ton of inspiration counters, coins, tokens and d20 holders that can be found in all corners of the Internet with a simple search.

I'm not knocking any of those things. They are great. I've ended up with a few metal coins and tokens as ancillary throw-in items, and again, they look just fine and would doubtless make perfectly serviceable inspiration tokens.

But I wanted something a little differe…

It's Official: We're the Cool Kids, Now

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I don't know exactly when it happened; maybe sometime last year, around the middle of the summer, but there was a gigantic clicking sound that knocked my vinyl glow-in-the-dark Cthulhu piggy bank right off of my shelf. By the time I'd picked it up, the world had changed.

No, I'm not talking about The Snappening. This wasn't Thanos doing his infinity-gauntlet-beatnik-hand jive. But someone somewhere did something. Maybe it was a tipping point. Maybe it was Joe Manganiello making some talk show appearance in a Tomb of Horrors shirt. Maybe it was Stephen Colbert getting to play D&D for charity with Matt Mercer and geeking out about it. I don't know what, but we aren't a sub-culture any more. Hell, we're not even popular culture. D&D and tabletop gaming are officially mainstream now. And I can prove it with math.

1+1=Pandering 2U
The first salvo was quiet, and you like as not didn't hear it unless you're deep into The Nerdist, Monte Cook, and the…

DIY Corner: Make Your Own Random Tables

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It's really a rite of passage: you have these options, these choices, and you want to use them all on your hapless players, but you can't decide, and then all at once, it hits you like a Thunder Wave spell, and you think, "I'll just make a random table! It's easy! I've been listing things off my whole life!"

Then you get started. And you write some stuff down, and then you erase a couple of entries, because you want them to be a the top and bottom of the list, and one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, you've got an unruly mess, but it's a table. Your first. And it's glorious. You think to yourself, "Now, at last, I truly am a Jedi Knight Dungeon Master."

It's a rush, and maybe you think, that was so much fun, I'll do another. And another. And another and another and another, and...then one day, you're writing up some notes for your next game and you realize, "this is just another random table."…