Jul 24, 2013

D&D Videos - The Old and The New

Ok folks, it's time for another round of Dungeons and Dragons video clips, courtesy of YouTube.

First up, we have a clip that is supposedly from a 700 Club promo video. Needless to say, it offers a VERY unrealistic version of D&D.



If the clip isn't funny enough, check out the comments on the YouTube page.

Now to help cleanse your pallet a bit, here something a little more realistic, this time from PBS.


Wait, D&D is just about story telling, and hanging out with friends? Inconceivable!

Jul 18, 2013

D&D in Lego-like Form

As I've mentioned before in previous posts, I'm a big fan of Lego, even using them in my Dungeons and Dragons games in various ways.

I was surprised the other day to read about the license deal between D&D and Kre-o. For those who don't know, Kre-o produces a Lego compatible product, with bricks and other elements that fit with the various geometries of Lego pieces.

(I'll save any discussion of the quality of Lego versus the knock-off brands for other sites and blogs.)

Kre-o has recently released a number of sets based on license agreements, including G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Battleship (in line with the recent movie). Not surprisingly, all these products, as well as Dungeons & Dragons, share one common element, Hasbro. As the parent company it must have been an easy decision to award the toy brick building licenses to its own in-house brand Kre-o, as opposed to working with the leading, and much better recognized, Lego.

On one hand I'm glad to see D&D getting the Lego treatment, even if it isn't from the official Lego brand. Likewise, I hope the recent Kre-o Cityville Invasion apps hint at the future of digital/brink cross treatment for this brand as well. Lastly, the promo art for the agreement, looks an awful lot like the cover to the Forgotten Realms novel, The Thousand Orcs, possibly hinting at access to setting specific IP, like the Realms, and Dragonlance.

How cool will it be if there's sets featuring Elminster, the Circle of Eight, or the Heroes of the Lance. I eagerly look forward to see what sets are shown at San Diego Comic-Con this week.

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UPDATE: The only images I've seen so far from Comic-con are of the booth statue of Drizzt, seen here: http://news.toyark.com/2013/07/18/sdcc-2013-kre-o-display-94331#images

UPDATE 2: Some images of minifigures, including a very familiar dark elf, and what looks like a tiefling. Not sure who the yellow and black robed mage is. See for youself here: http://news.toyark.com/2013/07/19/sdcc-2013-dungeons-and-dragons-kre-o-96219

Jul 11, 2013

Game Session - Dragon Island

It's been a while since I wrote up a game session post. You may want to refresh yourself with the current story line by checking out these past posts.



After meeting with Marzena, the dragon sage, and securing passage to the rumored island where the Black Scourge once made it's lair, the party set off...

The ship's captain was heading for trade on several islands around the Maelstrom, putting the ship close to the Elian Wilds. The island, home to several jungle barbarian tribes wasn't one of the stops on the trading tour, so the party had to swim ashore on their own. If the party was alive in three week's time when the ship passed by again, they would be picked up, otherwise, there was a small trading outpost on the far side of the island where they could get passage back to the main land.

The party heading to the island consisted of:
  • Theo (kender thief)
  • Hunter (half-elven ranger)
  • Adow (human mage)
  • Jessriel (human monk)
Everyone had been previously infected by the bone shards of the ancient black dragon known as the Black Scourge. These shards were slowly infecting the party with poisonous negative magical energy.

Once the party made it to shore, after about a week on the ship, they set up a small camp near the base of the mountain that seemed to match the description in the kender tale Marzena mentioned.

Under cover of darkness, Hunter and Theo sneak in to the cave entrance and saw it open to a huge chamber. Not feeling comfortable to go too far into the cavern, they returned to the party and told them what they found.

The next day, the entire party entered the cave. as they entered the main chamber, Theo feel through the huge illusionary floor. The fall was steep, about 60 feet, but the kender survived. Jes, with a safety rope attached, descended the cavern to it's actual floor. There, he and Theo noticed what looked to be a passage that had been covered by collapsed rock, rock that was then super heated to melted together to form one massive barrier.

Heading back up the rope to the rest of the party, Jes noticed another passage way. This one was about 15 feet from the floor and lead down a dark corridor in this underground lair. The monk was able to make his way to the entrance and scout a little distance ahead. Soon the rest of the party joined him in the passageway.

At one end, the hall gave way to a small natural cavern. The darkness was overwhelming, and the party was taken by surprise by the black inky flying shape that flew out at them. It wasn't the large bat some had thought, but an aberration known to some as the cloaker. The unearthly moaning from the creature was unsettling, but the party remained steadfast in there resolve to destroy the creature. Adow unleashed his potent magic missiles, while the ranger used his equally impressive bow skills. Theo and Jes added their skills to the attacks that final lead to the creatures death.

Near the other end of the hallway, they confront a door, with a cryptic inscription upon it. The verse turned out to be a riddle, which if solved would provide the means of opening the otherwise impenetrable door. Jes, a monk with a vow of poverty, knew right away that the one "thing" that was "wiser than the gods and worse than the devil" was simply "nothing". That lead the way for them to enter what turned out to be a very special prison chamber.

Inside the chamber holds a twisted half-man dragon creature. Not the draconians of recent renown, this poor creature had many of the features of the man he used to be, along with leathery wings and scales where flesh had been. The poor man, Darsov, as he had introduced himself, was a cleric of Gilean, who had kidnapped and forced to help the denizens of this mountain lair by translating ancient documents. One in particular, about the "heaven's opening up before gods near and far" seemed to be particularly intriguing to his captors, most of whom where humans, but a few that seemed to be minotaur in appearance.

The cult of the Black Scourge that inhabited this place subjected the cleric to horrific rituals intent on transforming him into enough of a dragon to be able to translate the oldest scrolls, those written in the lost language of the dragons. Unfortunately the spells and bindings also striped Darsov of most of his sanity, as the party soon learned. With great effort they were able to coax the broken cleric out of his prison/library and take him out of this mountain.

With the party back at their nearby base camp, they spent the night planning their next assault into the dragon mountain.

Jul 3, 2013

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 34) - On Death of Pain - The Legend of the Blackgem (Part 2)

On Death of Pain - Part 2

This issue picks up just after the end of #33. It starts with the healer giving us an update on Griffin, who was gravely wounded, and needed the care of the healer Tykel. While Griffin is responding well to the herbs that the healer is using, Skrum and Riva ask her to continue with the story of Miisia and the Blackgem.

After a little dialog from Tykel (catching us up on the events of issue 33), we jump into the story with Lord Bylarr simultaneously threatening and trying to inspire his troops to press on. Lord Bylarr also dumps a lot of backstory on us explaining that while he has the Blackgem, he wants to destroy Marsval Solarzz, and that he needs to bring the gem to the same location Marsval was intending to go anyway. Seems to active the power, you also need to bring it to the one place were it can be destroyed (wow, that's an original idea).

Marsval and Miisia travel through a snow covered mountain where they encounter some tribal elves. The elves are escorting one of their aged clan leaders to a ceremonial place to die.

Guess where that place just so happens to be.

Miisia touches the old elf, seemingly healing him of the sickness that has been ravaging his body. This act earns Marsval and Miisia the friendship of the elves, who agree to allow these two to accompany them to the same place they were already headed.

Along the pathway they encounter a manifestation of the evil of the mountain, brandish their weapons, and walk on through. Finally they arrive at what the elves referrer to as The Temple of the Masters of Light and Dark, a place dedicated to the balance of power between good and evil, but long since corrupted to the side of darkness.

Luckily Lord Bylarr arrives just in time to confront his enemy and reveal that the Blackgem is a kind of key to tapping into the power of the Temple, depending on the intentions of the bearer of the gem.

Lord Bylarr uses the gem to call forth a sentient stone elemental and through the elemental then enchants all his cohorts to attack the elves and Marsval. Miisia, who is not caught up in the fight makes her way to the stone creature and then attempts to heal it of the evil infused within. This caused a chain reaction purging the elemental of it's evil taint. The temple then attempted to re-infused the elemental by drawing on the evil within Lord Bylarr, which Miisia purged as well and which also ended up killing Lord Bylarr.

The sentient elemental, now cleaned of the evil that was within is willing to grant Miisia a reward for her service. Here, instead of asking to be free of the healing "curse" as she had seen it, not realizes that her "gift" is what saved the day here, and throughout all of Taladas.

Back in the present, as Griffin starts to awaken, Tykel comments on the power of destiny while looking at Riva. The female knight wonders if the old healer knows about her secret mission on behalf of Paladine and if she might some day be as lucky or sure as Miisia.

The End.

Commentary

So here, after 34 issues, we come to the finale of the TSR/DC Dragonlance comics run, and what a mess it is. As much as I liked the first part of this story, this issue was such a let down.

The story here just seemed too contrived. The same place Marsval was heading to secure the gem's safety is the same place Lord Bylarr needs to go to unleash it's power. Along the way Miisia runs into some elves that quickly join up with them. Encounter the "manifestations of evil" was almost pointless. And speaking of pointless, Marsval literally doesn't do a single thing in this issue other than carry Miisia from point A to point B and make a speech about needing to try and stop Lord Bylarr, without actually knowing how they are going to do that. Oh, and in the final battle, Marsval runs into the fighting fray weaponless. Everyone else has a sword, or spear, but Marsval only has clenched fists.

On top of the mess of plot that is actually shown, there are a truckload of plot holes that can't be overlooked, including the most obvious--if Miisia healed Kyyy (the dying elf, and not a keyboard typo), why do the elves continue to take him to where he is to die? (because the story needed cannon fodder for the final battle) I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

The art doesn't fare much better. The "manifestations of evil" encountered along the way look silly, like something out of a child's drawing. Here would have been a good place to have a combat with shadows or any number of D&D creatures, rather than another scene of the party moving through the mountain. Likewise, the stone elemental, doesn't look like anything I've ever seen, and in fact both the evil and cleansed versions come off more like a superhero villain than any D&D creature.

Postscript

This would turn out to be the last original Dragonlance comic for some time. From what I had read, TSR ended it's license with DC with the plan to launch their own comic book division and continue many of the DC books, including the Forgotten Realms books and this one, in house. Internal issues at TSR lead to this idea being abandoned, which was a real shame for the FR books, which were far superior to the Dragonlance effort, which I feel never had a strong idea of what it wanted to be, and then never had a strong D&D fantasy-based writer like the FR book had in Jeff Grubb.

The Dragonlance comic was a great idea, but one that was never executed to it's full potential.