Oct 20, 2009

The High-Tech Tabletop

I just saw the MS Surface demo for D&D. It's only proof of concept at this point, but what a concept...

Surfacescapes Demo Walkthrough from Visual Story TAs on Vimeo.

Oct 16, 2009

DM Tools: Mazes

I just read an article, mostly geared to parents, about a site that had free mazes that could be downloaded and printed out for children. Since I'm always on the lookout for inspiration, I decided to check these out.

There are a much of different difficulty levels, with each level having a couple of different mazes (all in one PDF file). Depending on how tough you want to be on your players, you could choose from a "Child's Play" or a "Backbreaking maze to adapt for your players. And with a little planning you could modify the maze to include a few encounter areas, or even portals for quick exit, or portals to other mazes... if you really want to drive the players crazy!

Enjoy

Oct 9, 2009

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 26) - The Gathering (Part 1)

The Gathering

the gathering part 1As the little narrator box let's us know in the first panel of the first page, the group is in hills near the glass seas. While everyone else sleeps, Riva's dragon, Ktarrah, keeps watch over the group.

It seems Riva is having another nightmare (her last one was all the way back in issue 3), this one about Ktarrah being attacked by a bunch of different dragons.

She wakes up and runs out of her tent to see the dragon screeching and flying away into the night.

The next day the party books passage on Glass Sea boat (the Glass Sea looks like a frozen river, or one made of crystal and the boat is equiped with blades to ride on top). Just before they leave port, Skrum sees a minotaur crewmember and immediately draws a weapon thinking it's a member of League of Minotaurs. Before any fighting starts, Maraghiz tells everyone to stand down; that he senses no evil from the minotaur, and Mezamere the gnome calms down his minotaur friend. One that's sorted out the ship sets sail.

Meanwhile, a group of soldiers from the League, lead by the minotaur Karranus, seize a Glass Sea boat, kill the captain, and order the crew to set off. It seems Karranus is tracking Griffin and Skrum from a lead that the two traitors recently set sail on the Glass Sea.

While on the sea, Riva collapses from another vision of Ktarrh in some kind of danger. She begs the captain to sail faster. At the same time, Karranus, orders his sailors to push faster as well.

Later in Captain Antara's cabin, she and Riva look over a map of the area and plan their route. Riva begins to ask Antara if the glass rider people worship the god Paladine. Before Riva finishes her question there is a call from the deck. When both women make it top side, they see another boat chasing after them.

Taking a chance, Captain Antara orders the ship to sail through a dangerous glass cavern, while the minotaur and his crew portage their ship over the cavern instead of through it. While inside the cavern, Sulai notices strange carvings detailing some sort of gathering place. Before the ship leaves the area, they are attacked by hodge-podge of creatures, including a giant, chimera, and other fantastical beasts. After the crew and party defeat their attackers, they emerge from the cavern into a shardstorm, a howling storm of tiny glass shards, raining down on everyone while the boat Karranus seized is giving close chase.

And if that's not enough, Riva realizes this is the storm she saw Ktarrh in during one of her visions!

Commentary

The first thing I'll mention is that this is the first issue NOT written by Dan Mishkin (not including one of the short stories in issue 21). Instead Charles and Lisa Moore pick up the ongoing threads for the beginning of a new tale. I like that this arc is only planned for two issues, especially in light of how many of the 4-issue arcs seemed to drag in the middle and end so weakly. Hopefully the shorter length will result in a tighter story overall.

For the most part I liked the story, it was definitely fast paced and packed with a lot of things happening in one issue. My biggest problem, and even Skrum acknowledges it, how does Riva know know where to go? I would have liked a scene where a local, or even Antara piece together clues from a vision to determine a location. With that said, I liked Antara and her crew as new characters, and would like to see more of them in further issues beyond this arc.

Incidentally, in the Forgotten Realms comic book that DC put out at the same time, the main characters were all on a boat, and always pulling in to new ports for each story.

As far as the art goes, this is one of my favorite issues, while Riva's color scheme is a little different than usual, it's not to drastic and helps her stand out a bit more. There's a great flow of the panels on the page and plenty of detail on the ship, in the glass cavern, and during the the shardstorm. I also really liked the coloring in the panels with Riva and Antara in the captain's quarters.

Can't wait to see how this ends... next time.

Oct 2, 2009

D&D Podcast

I know I'm late to the game, but I've recently been listening to the D&D Podcast episodes that are recordings of a game Chris Perkins ran for a couple of well known people.

I resisted downloading these episodes as I once tried listening to a podcast of another group's game session. The podcast (that should not be named) was difficult to listen to as there were 8 players, all talking over each other, the sound quality was subpar with plenty of background noise and different volume levels, resulting in a well-intentioned, but unlistenable experience.

I'm glad to say, the D&D podcast is completely the opposite. With only a few players, great audio, and very distinctive voices from Chris and Wil Wheaton (one of the players), this is great to listen to and easy to know who is talking.

If you haven't heard it yet, check on the wizards website. There's two previous games currently available, and they are in the middle of posting parts of the third game session now.

P.S. The regularly scheduled D&D/DC comic review is postponed one week. Unfortunately this was a busy week IRL, but I'll be back next week.