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Three Reasons To Consider Adding An LGBT NPC To Your Campaign

It is really easy for people that do not play Dungeon and Dragons to think of it is a game mainly played by geeks who role-play as macho warriors and cliché wizards, but this isn’t their fault entirely, as most of the time it is the mainstream media that perpetuates this belief.

Roleplaying games are all about imagination and in a world of your own making you can skip the normal boundaries of everyday normal life. You can always come up with a character of your own and shape it to your own liking and then role-play said character with your friends, and if they are true friends then they will accept your character with all the respect it deserves, now let’s get to the reasons why you should include LGBT characters into your storyline.

  1. It can add some new life to your party. Dungeon and Dragons is a roleplaying game were the more interesting and deep your character is the better your story will be, sadly most of the time some players end up with recycled ideas, such as the “funny bard”, or the “old wizard”, or the “sexy priestess” or the “knightly paladin”, you can even smell their storylines from afar. An LGBT character will add some variety to your group, think about how elegant and serious a gay elf ranger could be, or how deadly a female bisexual drow assassin can become, you can come up with totally original characters if you think outside of the box with their sexual orientations.Just be aware that your character’s sexual orientation should be a vital and serious part of their identity and it shouldn’t be used for laughs, as not only this can diminish the value of your character’s storyline, it can also make you look bad to your friends.
  2. They can be fun to play with. While you shouldn’t make fun of your character’s sexual orientation, you can come up with situations that relate to it that can bring some laughs to your party. An awkward interaction might be the perfect amount of spice, and perhaps can allow PCs and players to step into a situation they haven’t been able to fully consider before.Imagine how your friends would react if a gay bard dwarf suddenly recited with a deep and manly accent a really good poem to one of your male party members, if they usually don’t interact with members of the LGBT community they wouldn’t know how to react and this can bring some really fun moments to your play session.You can also get inspiration from events that have happened in your normal life to see how your friends would react if the same happened to them, but remember to be always respectful as this can be a delicate topic for some people. Make sure the homosexuality / “gayness” isn’t the punchline.
  3. It can be an eye opening experience. Sometimes we take important things like the acceptance of others for granted and we don’t get to appreciate it enough and some people aren’t that lucky in that aspect and are judged just because the way they are or feel.Playing as an LGBT character can help you understand how some people feel when they face certain negative situations, such as being frowned upon or being bullied due to their sexual orientations. It will also make you aware of the fact that members of the LGBT community sometimes have to ‘role-play’ as straight persons on their everyday lives so they can get accepted into jobs and groups.This can bring a change to the way you or your friends see members of the LGBT community and the things they must do to enjoy a normal life on a world that sometimes isn’t as welcoming as it should be.

Take in mind that you must always be respectful of your or your friend’s character’s sexual orientation and remember that while the world of Dungeon and Dragons is powered by your imagination your interactions with your party members are very real, so if you think that they don’t feel too comfortable with the way you roleplay LGBT characters then you should rethink your approach, just play natural and don’t try to force things.

Dice Bard loves everyone regardless of sexuality, skin colour, or nationality. This article isn’t about pidgeonholing gay characters, and we want to encourage you to read through classic gay tropes as something to generally avoid. We also use LGBT in this article as a shorthand for LGBTIQA+.

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Location Table – 20 Rum Brands That Would Make Great Location Names

Life is better at the beach

As the rain sets in on our beautiful Vancouver paradise, thoughts turn to summer again. Forgetting the burns and the awfulness which is that glowing orb of cancer and squintyness, I am drawn to the salty cool breeze of the beaches of Cuba.

One thing I find missing in Dungeons and Dragons and other RPG content is good Spanish inspired content, so I tried to make sure that Spanish was well represented in this location table. Thus, I provide you with a d20 location table which you can use to come up with fast location names in your campaign. You can use a quick d20 to generate location names.

1. Stroh
2. Pussers
3. Botran
4. Carúpano
5. Damoiseau
6. Belmont
7. Oronoco
8. Kwilu
9. Riise
10. Takamaka
11. Broadslab
12. Hoochery
13. Zacapa
14. Barcelo
15. Matusalem
16. Dogfish
17. Bounty
18. Bundaberg
19. Parce
20. Barrilito

I didn’t use overly common brands nor did I use places that I know to be real cities (Havana, you’re out). If enough people like this I’d be happy to make a PDF and perhaps create some other beverage inspired content.

Drinking Too Much Rum

Also just in case your party decides to hit the sauce in your rum inspired town, we have a great skillcheck from u/MilitantLobster. For each drink, roll a CON saving throw, starting at 10 and adding +2 for each additional drink.

FailuresEffectHangover Duration
0Sober – Whatever you have or haven’t drunk isn’t effecting you yet.No Hangover
1Tipsy – Gain Advantage on Charisma based checks and saving throws.1d4 – CON
2Buzzed – Take Disadvantage on all Dexterity based checks and saving throws. Gain Advantage on all Strength based checks and saving throws.1d6 – CON
3Drunk – Gain the Inebriated condition.1d8 – CON
4Black Out – No memory of events during this phase. Gain the Poisoned condition.1d10 – CON
5Passed Out – Gain the Unconscious condition.1d12 – CON
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Character Creation Diversity in Gaming Art

diverse people play dungeons and dragons

This is being republished, the author is: TiMar Long from the University of Houston ([email protected]). You should really check out the full version which includes citations and charts here. Dice Bard is all about diversity at the table, and these findings back up what many people are already saying that not only are people not choosing racially diverse characters but it may be Wizards of the Coast not doing enough to promote diversity through their character art. Dice Bard’s printable miniatures seek to balance that out by providing racially diverse characters as well as male and female (and non-binary) heroes that anyone can relate to.

Popular abstract: The artwork for a role-playing game can be one of the most important aspects of the gaming experience. Artwork helps to give role-players an idea of what the world looks like in that game. It helps to inspire the kinds of characters players might want to create. Finally, art can serve as a method for determining what is and is not normal for a setting. Dungeons & Dragons was the first tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) created and as such serves as the foundation of the gaming hobby (Fine 1983; Tresca 2011; Peterson 2012). Is the artwork in Dungeons & Dragons racially imbalanced? How has the artwork changed since the beginning of the hobby? Wizards of the Coast is praised for the diversity of their new 5th Edition line, but is it truly diverse? This project seeks to find out by examining the artwork in the Players Handbook for each edition of the game. By using the theory of symbolic annihilation, I explore whether or not racial minorities are adequately represented in the artwork.

1. INTRODUCTION

The artwork for a role playing game can be one of the most important aspects of the gaming experience. Artwork helps to give role-players an idea of what the world looks like in that game. It helps to inspire the kinds of characters players might want to create. Finally, art can serve as a method for determining what is and is not normal for a setting. Dungeons & Dragons was the first tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) created and as such serves as the foundation of the gaming hobby (Fine 1983; Tresca 2011; Peterson 2012). Is the artwork in Dungeons & Dragons racially imbalanced? How has the artwork changed since the beginning of the hobby? Wizards of the Coast is praised for the diversity of their new 5th Edition line, but is it truly diverse? This project seeks to find out by examining the artwork in the Players Handbook for each edition of the game. By using the theory of symbolic annihilation, I explore whether or not racial minorities are adequately represented in the artwork. Dungeons & Dragons was chosen not only because it is the first role-playing game, but because it has experienced the most exposure to non-gamers. In addition to having produced a gaming line, Dungeons & Dragons has also appeared in novels, video games, TV shows, and movies. During the 1980s, it even made media headlines when conservative Christians feared that the game may introduce vulnerable kids to the occult (Schnoebelen 1989).1 This research thus seeks to fill a gap in the literature by using the theory of symbolic annihilation and applying it to roleplaying games in order to answer the question: is the artwork of Dungeons & Dragons racially imbalanced? It will also serve as a starting point for initiating a conversation on whether or not role-playing game books show equal representation for minorities. This research will help inform other scholars who seek to have discussions on race representation in roleplaying games. By creating a foundation from which future research can be done, it will also be possible to theorize about what representation in other games and settings might look like and thus be able to provide suggestions for game developers on how to increase diversity and representation within their own gaming products.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

Mass media is the way in which many people learn their values and are socialized (Tuchman 78). Because of this socializing power, mass media can play a big role in the way people are influenced (Dubin 1987; Mou and Peng 2009). It is due to the mass media’s influence on the way people think and interpret their world that stereotypes within mass media can become dangerous and harmful (Mou and Peng 2009; Glascock and Schreck 2004). Negative portrayals have been linked to lower self-esteem in blacks (Glascock and Schreck 2004) and women (Glascock and Schreck 2004; McCabe, Fairchild, Grauerholz, Pescosolido, and Tope 2011; Tuchman 1978), but can also lock targeted groups into stereotyped roles and stigmas (Tuchman 1978).

These negative portrayals and the overall lack of representation were termed symbolic annihilation by Gaye Tuchman (1978). Tuchman used symbolic annihilation to explain how exclusion of women in media portrayals can lead to damaging effects both for women and men. Thus, under symbolic annihilation, the use of media can also influence the way we perceive racial minority groups, oftentimes influencing how we think and feel about non-dominant groups (Klein and Shiffman 2009). This overall process can also be dehumanizing, as Merskin (1998) states when discussing the portrayal of Native Americans in media. This dehumanizing effect can reduce minorities to a collection of tropes and stereotypes, which furthers harms how people receive and interact with them.

Role-playing games are a unique form of mass media in that in they are a group experience and are cocreated between the players and the game master (Tresca 2011). The fictional worlds created in gaming can serve as cultural representations (Fuist 2012) projecting the stereotypes, tropes, and expectations of those who play the game into them. While gaming may serve as a means to escape reality (Fine 1983; Nephew 2006) it can also serve as a space for alternate identity construction (Bowman 2010). These alternate identities can be a path for exploring different ideas, points of views, and experiences. Because of this, adequate racial minority representation becomes crucial in giving players a chance to explore and encounter ideas, concepts, and people that they may not have previously considered or encountered on their own.

3. METHODOLOGY

Dungeons & Dragons has been published by two gaming companies: first by TSR, where the game was created, then in 1997 by Wizards of the Coast, who are the current owners. For this study, I will be reviewing the artwork in the Players Handbook throughout the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons. Under TSR, the game had many reprints that would sometimes result in new artwork being commissioned. Only one book was chosen from each edition (see Table 1). In the case of the Wizards of the Coast run with Dungeons & Dragons, the artwork in the core books remains the same throughout the life of that edition. TSR was a different case, however, with reprints within an edition sometimes receiving a new set of artwork. Due to the difficulties of tracking down all variants from TSR’s run with Dungeons & Dragons, I opted to select one book from each edition that they published to code.

I only used the artwork that depicted human or demi-human characters. Demi-humans were the fantasy character races — such as dwarves, elves, and halflings — that resembled humans, but were based in fantasy literature or mythos. Artwork was excluded that was mostly landscape pictures or pictures in which the humanoid characters were non-descript and thus part of a bigger picture. In addition, artwork that depicted only the monster races was excluded, since monsters were not the focus of this study. The demi-human races were included due to their close ties and resemblance to baseline humans, including at times displaying the same level of racial diversity and, in some cases, the possibility of cross breeding, such as with half-orcs and half-elves. While there are racial overtones and concerns involved with the monster races, an examination of them is deserving of its own study and thus beyond the scope of this current article.

The characters were coded along five variables; sex, race, stereotype, heroics, and edition. The edition variable coded as the edition of the game from which the artwork in question came. Sex was broken down into four categories: male, female, unknown, and non-applicable. For the purpose of this study, sex is to be understood as the apparent biological differences between individuals. Unknown was used in instances where the character’s biological sex could not be determined; it is unknown if the artist purposely created sexually ambiguous characters.2 Non-applicable only applied to monster races that appeared in the artwork alongside humans and demi-humans.

Race was broken down into a total of 24 categories ranging from human races (black, white, Arabic, Native American, and East Asian) to fantasy demihumans (elves, dwarves, or halflings) to demi humans of color (such as black elves and dwarves). The stereotype variable measured whether the characters depicted were done so using tropes and stereotypes associated with their race. For example, the Asian human on page 140 of the 5th Edition book was drawn wearing samurai armor as opposed to more European fantasy based armor that most other characters wore. Thus, the Asian human was counted as a racial stereotype.3 Heroics were used to determine if the role of the character was heroic or villainous based on the context of the artwork, as player-characters are meant to be the heroes. Instances without an obvious villain character were coded as neutral.

Finally, each edition was compared to census data from the year closest to its publication. Symbolic annihilation was determined using a method similar to Klein and Shiffman (2009) in which they “consider a group to be underrepresented if its prevalence is less than half of that observed in the population at large, and we will consider it to be an example of symbolic annihilation if its prevalence is less than one quarter of that found in the society at large.” Thus, each edition was compared to the population census to the closest year of publication (see Table 2).

4. RESULTS

Over the lifetime of Dungeons & Dragons, people of color were depicted 4% of the time. By race, white humans appeared 38% of the time, while blacks, Asians, Native Americans, and Arabs were depicted 2%, 1%, .4% and .4% respectively. For comparison, elves represented 7% of the characters depicted while dwarves composed 6% and halflings 4%. Some of the demi-humans were able to gain parity and prominence equal to minorities in a much shorter time span. For example, tieflings, who were introduced as a playable race in 4th Edition, were depicted 2% of the time, comparable to blacks who were also depicted 2% of the time. Minorities were depicted in stereotyped fashion 43% of the time that they appeared in the artwork. Men of color were depicted more often than women of color.

Finally, minorities were depicted as heroic 7.6% of time, neutral 5% of the time, and as villains .5% of the time.

In Basic, all racial minorities were symbolically annihilated. In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition and 2nd Edition, blacks and Arabs were symbolically annihilated while Asians were not. No census data were available for Native Americans. In the Rules Cyclopedia, no minority groups were symbolically annihilated. In 3rd Edition, blacks, Arabs, and Native Americans were symbolically annihilated. For 4th Edition blacks, Arabs, Native Americans and whites were all symbolically annihilated. Symbolic annihilation for whites can be attributed to a large increase in the use of demi-humans, who made up 50% of the artwork. Finally, for 5th Edition, Asians and Native Americans were symbolically annihilated (see Appendix A for all tables).

5. DISCUSSION

This study helps to illustrate how Dungeons & Dragons has struggled with the representation of racial minority groups throughout the life of the game, although the levels to which various racial minority groups were represented shifted between editions. In some editions of the game, Asians struggled to be represented, while in others, Asians were depicted at a rate on par with their population in the United States. Shifting art directions created shifting trends in the artwork presented by Dungeons & Dragons. An example is 4th Edition’s attempt to be a more diverse game (Tresca 2011), resulting in the symbolic annihilation of even whites when the art direction attempted to diversify the game by including more demi-humans. In addition to symbolic annihilation, minorities in the artwork also received stereotyped portrayals. 43% of the time a minority was depicted, they were shown in a stereotyped fashion.

The depiction of demi-human races is also worth discussing. For the majority of Dungeon & Dragons’ run, the fantasy races displayed in the artwork were from Eurocentric sources, owing to the games roots in feudal fantasy and the works of Tolkien (Fine 1983; Van Dyke 2008; Tresca 2011; Peterson 2012). Elves, dwarves, and halflings that have Eurocentric/ white features are prominently depicted alongside their white human counterparts. Demi-humans of color are not featured as often as the whiter demihumans, like elves and dwarves. Half-orcs make their first appearance in 1st Edition AD&D and then are sparsely used. When used, they are portrayed as less civilized and more barbaric than the whiter demi-human races, often embodying many racial tropes used to degenerate blacks (Van Dyke 2008).

Many of the non-white demi-humans, such as tieflings and dragonborn, lack the same level of culture and civilization that are oftentimes found in the white demi-human races such as elves and dwarves. Furthermore, as of 5th Edition, the non-white demihumans were designated as an uncommon races, making them less numerous than the whiter demihuman races, the notable exception being the Drow who, despite being dark-skinned, have a culture and civilization all their own. The major difficulty with this singular representation of a demi-human race of color with a civilization all its own is that the Drow civilization is one based on slavery, subjugation, and matriarchally-based misandry. Thus, the Drow represent many evils against which white gamers games would feel compelled to fight wrapped up in the skin tone of a person of color. A full analysis of the Drow and their problematic depiction is deserving of its own separate study. Still, they are a notable exception that are, in the very least, worth mentioning.

The use of minorities and demi-humans supports what Hudson (2004) calls multicultural whiteness, a concept in which racial, cultural, and ethnic differences are moved into the general fabric of what it means to be white and, thus, American while obfuscating a history of racial and ethnic discrimination. In the same way various European ethnicities such as Jews and Irish were incorporated into the American culture and absorbed into whiteness while ignoring the history of racial discrimination that they experienced, minorities in fantasy settings are absorbed into white culture to represent human diversity while ignoring a history of racial discrimination, division, and separation. Additionally, demi-humans are incorporated into human kingdoms in the same way as a method to show how open and accepting humans — and thus whiteness — is.

This normalization of whiteness extends beyond fantasy settings and Dungeons & Dragons. White Wolf’s World of Darkness, as an example, incorporates a similar pattern as well. While vampires, werewolves, and mages — among their many supernatural groups — can come from any ethnicity, many of the games’ various supernatural organizations and mythos are based on American or European conceptions of horror elements. Vampire: the Masquerade is based on Western concepts of the vampire mythos. Many of the clans are European in origin and structure. While some may hail from minority groups, they tend to help support the idea of diversity as opposed to providing a unique perspective born from the experience of a minority group. In Werewolf: the Apocalypse, the mythos of the setting is based on Western concepts of earth and spirit worship. While the game features tribes that are non-European in nature and origin, they too are normalized into the behavior and institutions of the European/American counterparts who were mostly white. While Mage: the Ascension featured many magical traditions that were non-European in origin, the prevailing structure of the game and setting’s magical understanding were based on European understandings of magic. This does not remove diversity per se, but it does normalize it against a more universal whiteness.

6. CONCLUSION

Diversity is a difficult topic. When considering what elements we add to games, we must also make sure that we do not fall prey to tokenism and cultural appropriation. As Shawl (2004) points out, portraying other cultures and minority group it is important to pay attention to things like the “setting, dialogue, action, and a host of other elements above and beyond character.” Furthermore, Shawl (2009) explains how research into different minority and ethnic groups is required to create a more diverse and inclusive set of games: not limited to just books, but also including interviewing, experiencing different cultures, and immersing oneself in these different cultures to gain deeper insights into their practices. It is important to move beyond just simply placing people of color into gaming settings. Publishers should strive to incorporate them into the gaming world itself, allowing their unique cultural contributions to be felt within the setting as opposed to being just window dressing. Furthermore, care must be given so that non-white representations are not relegated to inferior status within the setting. This is true even among fantasy settings that feature non-white demi-humans, who often lack the same cultural advancements and contributions that the white humans and demi-humans bring to their settings. However, this article is not to say that no progress has been made in diversity in gaming. 5th Edition Dungeon and Dragons showed positive signs of growth in the realm of diversity (see Appendix). Paizo, the makers of Pathfinder, regularly hold discussions about diversity within their setting and solicit feedback from their players about how they are progressing with their goal of providing a diverse gaming experience. Furthermore, while the World of Darkness has made missteps in reinforcing multicultural whiteness and cultural appropriation, the game still strives to provide a diverse array of characters within their settings and games.

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D&D Introduced Magic Emails… or Howlers….

In the upcoming Waterdeep – Dragon Heist you will now have the ability to use what Comicbook is calling “Magic Emails” and we like. While exploring the famed City of Splendors you can hop into a magic shop and purchase a these paper birds, which are magically imbued with the ability to fly off with your message and will find the recipient to deliver whatever you want to say.

Being shot down is a slight concern as they do only have an AC of 13 and 1 hit point. Don’t worry about security, these fine craftspeople have you taken care of as the bird will disintigrate into ash if anyone else tries to read it first or if it’s shot out of the air.

If you’re a bard planning on sending your publisher a manuscript of your latest novel, this isn’t going to be the best method of delivery, however. Each scroll can only accept up to 50 words, and once it’s completed you whisper the name of the recipient and it folds itself up and flies off. This is nice, as if there was a DEX check for the creation of the origami bird I would fail miserably.

Of course, you could always use “Sending” which has an unlimited distance… but why fill up your 3rd level spell slots with “Sending” when you could be writing little paper bird notes? I think it’s cute. You should too. I’m probably also going to house rule that you can just yell up to 5 words into it and upon receipt the bird will turn into a howler and recite the message before burning up in a flash before the horrified recipient.

You can pick up Waterdeep – Dragon Heist on September 18th so that you are ready for talk like a pirate day on the 19th with some great sea-faring adventures to play in. Also remember that when you play Waterdeep you should probably get a set of sexy Deep Sea Abalone Blue Brown Swirl Dice.

Hat tip to Christian Hoffer from Comicbook.

 

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5 Great Games To Play Over Beers

Today is National Beer Lover’s day and to celebrate here are 5 great beer board games, beer RPGs, and beer party games to play over a beer or five. Did we mention beer?

TTRPG: Paranoia

This wacky Tabletop RPG is quick to pick up and [redacted], there are rules but you’re not allowed to read the [redacted] book otherwise you might actually be a terrorist.

This game is set in the immense, entirely underground, futuristic city: Alpha Complex. Every person’s needs are all met (including mandatory happiness) by your friendly civil service AI Computer. The Computer is the games main antagonist, and the fears of a number of threats to it’s perfect society. You play as a troubleshooter, clones tasked with finding and shooting all threats to the perfection of your society… threats such as communists, mutants, and of course The Outdoors. Of course, some of the players may actually have ulterior motives.

This game encourages fun levels of paranoia and making accusations of your friends for absurd reasons… but then again… why wouldn’t you accuse them? Are you a communist? You can checkout Paranoia from Mongoose Publishing.

Party Game: Dude

Duuuude, dude, dewd… SWEEET. Dude was a breakout hit from GenCon 2018 because the game is easy to learn and a great game to just start playing. You can easily play this game on beer 4 and still have a great time. The basic concept of the game is you have cards that say “dude” but spelled out in different ways and everyone is trying to say dude the way it’s said on their card and when two people match you yell “SWEET” and show each other your dude cards. You get a point if you match. It’s a lot like Happy Salmon but without all the moving around.

It’s really that easy. It is a target exclusive, but you can also find copies on ebay or over at boardgame geek. Dude is published by North Star Games who you can find on Twitter.

Board Game: Burgle Bros

If you know Tim Fowers games, you know he is a reliable source for fantastic work. While Burgle Bros might need a little more focus on Dude, it still certainly deserves a place on this list. I’m going to just list the overview from the website but if you want to play oceans 11, or even silly oceans 11 this is going to be your game:

Burgle Bros. – the ultimate tabletop Heist – is a cooperative game for 1-4 players. Burgle Bros. blends easy-to-learn rules with the brain-twisting puzzles and high tension excitement. Winning the game requires stealth, planning, and a little bit of luck. In the tradition of classic heist movies like Ocean’s 11 and The Italian Job, you assemble your crew, make a plan, and pull off the heist of the century.

  • Push your luck or play it safe – your decisions impact everyone

  • Be sneaky – Find clever solutions to get out of sticky situations

  • Rogue-like boardgame – each game creates a unique puzzle

  • Swap floors and think in 3 dimensions to evade the guards

  • Cool tools like a Smokebomb, EMP – even Donuts!

You can find Burgle Bros on Fowers own shop along with all his other fantastic games.

Party Game: Secret Hitler

At our table, Secret Hitler is how we start the night, how we end the night, and frequently what we play in-between. If beer makes you loose lipped, this might not be the best for you. If beer makes you more likely to shout at someone yelling “YOU’RE HITLER YOU’RE HITLER!” then you might consider picking this one up. Secret Hitler is a party game for 5-12 people.  I am so in love with the art work, the playability, the scalability, and the game mechanics. The game is very well balanced and the perfect level of random.

With the kickstarter version there are also stickers so that instead of being secret Hitler, you can be a certain American politician.

Pick up Secret Hitler at your local gamestore or online or basically anywhere.

TTRPG: Honey Heist

After playing Burgle Bros you decide you want to do a little more burglarizing but have decided that Burgle Bros is too much “Cat Burglar” and you want to be a “Bear Burglar” then in that very specific set of circumstances Honey Heist is for you. Made by the ever talented Grant Howitt, Honey Heist is a simple one page TTRPG that a DM could pick up even after a beer or two and still put together a game.

Honey Heist is totally free, here are the rules. That said, you should totally check out Grant’s website for all his other work, or maybe buy him a beer on patreon.

HONEY HEIST

Bonus

TTRPG: Dread

This is a game you might not want to finish National Beer Lover’s day with, but we are in September and if you are getting those spooky fall feelings and also want to play a game of Jenga, you should check out Dread.  The basic rules are free, you can learn more about the game and download the basic rules here.

If you don’t already watch our (on hiatus) bi weekly web series “Dice Bard Presents: Dread” you are really missing out and you can check out our twitch channel to see what this game is all about.

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Best Dice For Druids

If you are looking for druid dice, here are some of our best dice for you:

Circle of Dreams Dice

Druids who are members of the Circle of Dreams are often associated with the Feywild. Dream Druids look to the natural world and good fey to use magic to bring joy. So in the dice to represent them you will want earth tones and dice that bring joy to those who look at them.

Rainbow Circle of Dreams Druid Dice Our Rainbow Dice would show the love and compassion while also be colourful and flamboyant much like the fey Dream Druids are so closely tied to. We really love these pride dice and we always love an excuse to show them off, but we also really feel that they would be the first set of dice a dream druid would grab.

If you want something a little less flashy but still fey, maybe you should consider our fantastic translucent dice, in particular our translucent green dice.

Translucent Green Circle of Dreams Dice

The translucent green circle of dreams dice would be an ideal candidate for any person with a strong connection to the feywild. In the light the green refracts giving a glow to the surface below it. It represents the natural colours of the Feywild while also embracing the magic.  From a mechanical perspective we really love translucent dice because they have the highest level of QC, we can see through them and throw them out if there are any imperfections.

Circle of the Land Dice

The Circle of the Land is made up of mystics and sages who safeguard ancient knowledge and rites through a vast oral tradition. These druids meet within sacred circles of trees or standing stones to whisper primal secrets in Druidic. The circle’s wisest members preside as the chief Priests of communities that hold to the Old Faith and serve as advisors to the rulers of those folk. As a member of this circle, your magic is influenced by the land where you were initiated into the circle’s mysterious rites.

For your Circle of Land dice what you want dice that show age and speak to wisdom.

Circle of the Land Druid Dice, blue Abalone

Our Deep Sea Abalone dice give the feeling of mysticism blended with wisdom. It’s like looking out over a magical ocean twisting in upon itself. These blue druid dice have brown swirled and cracked into it. These are also my personal favourite sub $20 dice that we offer. If you are an ocean druid, or a druid with a close association with water then there is no other choice for you than these.

You can go a different direction, however, and get our Scanlan’s Dream and ACE dice. Purple being such a magical colour with the swirls of grey mixed into them make this a dice that feels aged and magical. Whenever I bring these dice out in front of new people they always pick them up and look at them they are just so beautiful.

Circle of the Moon Dice

Druids of the Circle of the Moon are fierce guardians of the wilds. Their order gathers under the full moon to share news and trade warnings, They haunt the deepest parts of the wilderness, where they might go for weeks on end before crossing paths with another humanoid creature, let alone another druid.

Druid Dice Moon Druid 5e Black Translucent Swirls Dice

For  Circle of the Moon Druid Dice you are going to want to select something bestial and changing, our Black Translucent Swirls dice really do the job here. They are dark, mysterious, and the swirls can easily symbolize the changing nature of wild shape that is such a critical part of the Moon Druid. I personally find these dice to have the most underrated photos, it’s very hard to capture just how fantastic the swirls look against the transparent resin around them.

The beautiful thing about dice for Circle of the Moon druids are their changing shape makes them compatible with so many of our dice, you can go brighter you can go darker you can get sparkles you can get spacey. Be the dice you want to see in the world.

Water Ashari Dice - Blue and Black Moon Druid Dice

Still dark and mysterious, another great option for your moon druid is Water Ashari Blue and Black Marbled Swirl Dice. These beautiful dice also swirl and writhe but with sold blue inking the black dice. These are incredibly pretty dice and would be perfect for any Circle of the Moon druid who needed a set of dice to represent more water creatures (Orca Druid!?).  The gold inking of the numbers really allow them to pop so if you need high contrast dice that are easier to read these also fit that bill too.

Circle of the Shepherd Dice

Coming out of Unearthed Arcana the Circle of the Shepherd is a great circle for all the animal lovers, getting to conjure spirit guides and creates to help you along your journey. Druids who are members of the Circle of the Shepherd typically commune with the spirits of beasts, and stand as their protector in a society that views animals as things to own and control. These druids typically enjoy being around animals more than they enjoy being around other humanoids. Staying far from the cities and populas areas tend to create the idea that these druids are hermits to those who see them.

Circle of the Shepherd Unicorn Poop Dice

Firs of all, you can embody the spirit of the unicorn with this class… and if you are going to go full unicorn, you need to get Unicorn Poop Blue and Purple Swirl Dice.

Unicorn Spirit The unicorn spirit lends its protection to those nearby. You and your allies gain advantage on all ability checks made to detect creatures in the spirit’s aura. In addition, if you cast a spell with a spell slot that restores hit points to anyone inside or outside the aura, each creature of your choice in the aura also regains hit points equal to your druid level.

Many of our brown and earthy dice would be great choices for the shepherd dice. The great thing about our store is you can always just search by colour, for instance here are our brown dice, here are our green dice, and here are our blue dice.

Circle of Spores Dice

Druids of the Circle of Spores find beauty in decay. They see within mold and other fungi the  ability to transform lifeless material into  abundant, albeit somewhat strange, life. These druids believe that life and death are portions of a grand cycle, with one leading to the other and then back again. Death is not the end of life, but instead a change of state that sees life shift into a new form.

Druids of this circle have a complex  relationship with the undead. Unlike most other druids, they see nothing inherently wrong with undeath, which they consider to be a companion to life and death. However, these druids believe that the natural cycle is healthiest when each segment of it is vibrant and changing. Undead that seek to replace all life with undeath, or avoid passing to a final rest, violate the cycle and must be thwarted.

Unearthed Arcana

I’ve never played one of these and until writing this article I didn’t even know they existed but I am kinda in love with the Circle of Spores druid. However, I have so many dice suggestions for this circle, but I’ll limit it to two:

Circle of Spores Glow In The Dark Green DiceTo start with our pale green glow in the dark dice are just the perfect match for this, not only do they thrive in the darkness like the fungus these druids worship but they are the right colour the right feel and honestly there is no reason you should be reading this anymore. These are the perfect dice for your druid.  What’s great about these dice is they also glow really easily, when the room is dim you will still see them just a little brighter than the rest of your dice. We love them and you should love them too.

Black Spore Dice, moss and fungus dnd dice

If you’re not into glowing dice or you just want to get a second set (because there is no reason you shouldn’t be buying the glow in the dark dice for the circle of spores), you should consider the Goblins Blood Green and Black Swirl Dice. While we named this “Goblin’s Blood” you can easily see this as the green grass being taken over by the black blight creeping through the life ready to strangle it and devour it as is part of the circle of life.

As I said before there are so many great druid dice for the Circle of Spores there is the Forged Copper Swirl Dice and Sun Tree Yellow and Green Marbled Swirl Dice maybe even the Heart of the Tiefling Black and Red Swirl Dice. Seriously, I’m so ready to play this.

Circle of Twilight Dice

If the Circle of Spores is all about bringing back the dead and embracing the undead then they will have an enemy of the Circle of Twilight. The Circle of Twilight is all about ensuring the dead stay dead.

The best Circle of Spores dice are clearly the pale green glow in the dark, but you are a healer and while you also work in darkness perhaps a glowing purple dice is more your direction. This is not as cut and dry as the other, but I thought I would provide the contrast to the spores with the glow in the dark purple. These, like the translucent swirl dice, are really hard to photograph well… they look much better in real life than they do in photos, I am happy to have a set of these in my personal collection (another reason these are getting added here).

If that isn’t your direction, what about a set of flat black dice? These dice are beautiful and also incredibly affordable. They are one of our most popular solid opaque dice and the reason for it is clear, they are high contrast dice for readability and also look good and make perfect gifts if you are trying to buy a lot of dice for a lot of people.

That’s it… this article started with me thinking “alright I’ll say ‘here are your druid dice’ and then link to a few green dice and call it good” but then as I learned more and more about all the circles I realized they all deserved to be called out and you needed to know what dice went best with them.

Have other thoughts? That’s great leave a comment or better yet tell us about it on Twitter @DiceBard, on Facebook /DiceBard, or Instagram @DiceBard.

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Dice Bard St Jude Giveaway Details

Welcome to the details page of the Dice Bard / Black Magic Craft St Jude Giveaway:

Every person can be entered up to 20 times by donation and/or 20 times by social media entries (no purchase necessary to win).

Donation Entry:
– Contributions must be made to St Jude via the St Jude donation purchase or through the Black Magic Craft Pay What You Want Dice Tower Template
– For each multiple of $5 donated you will be entered to win the Dice Tower featured in the Black Magic Craft Episode (link will be posted here when it’s available).

Social Media Entry:
– Once per day you can enter via Twitter
– Your tweet must include “#StJude” a link to https://dicebard.com and a reason to support St Jude or some statement about St Jude or this contest.
– Tweets must not be hidden, private, nor deleted before the 27th at any time (this is to ensure we actually see you and add you to the contest)

On May 27th we will aggregate all the entries and put them into a spreadsheet, we will then use Random.org to pull a random contestant and will contact them. The winner will be publicly announced on the next Black Magic Craft video after the 27th.

You may not enter where prohibited by law, you MAY enter in Quebec (though any contest fees levied in the case of the winner being from Quebec must be paid for by the contestant), this contest will be held in accordance with the contest and giveaway rules of British Columbia, Canada for giveaways worth less than $100. No purchase necessary to enter. Shipping to the US and Canada will be included as per the giveaway, shipping elsewhere will be at the winner’s expense.

Good luck!

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History of The Mage Wars

Hey everyone, just wanted to give you a heads up that this is going to be a post about our current campaign here at the office. We should hopefully post after every session (but might fail as all attempts at blogging seem to do for me) but I’ll give a quick recap of our story up until this point and then start you off in the action

History:

Our adventurers met, much like most adventurers do: In a tavern. Cailyn – The Elvin Fighter, a strong but quiet force; Nobu – The Catkin Rogue who had a taste for thievery and milk; Brommund Thunderforge – The Dwarven unfavoured prince Cleric, strong in stature, strong in heart, drunk on ale; and me, Da’Rell Songwhisperer The Teifling Bard, and the handsome glue that keeps the party together.

Look lot’s of stuff happened but basically we go on a mission to find a mage who has been taken prisoner by the king, turns out there are bigger forces at play we meet Elrin – A halfling (hobbit) druidic diplomat on a mission to renegotiate water rights for his community. We find out that magic has been outlawed and magic users are being persecuted. We are the chosen ones, we pass some tests and get some [editors note: over powered] wondrous items to help us on our journey. Cailyn the ranged fighter gets a bow that returns to her [editors note: yeah, not the arrows, the bow… itself…], Nobu received a cloak of invisibility that eventually got damaged [editors note: nerfed] to only work once a day and to only work until an attack is made, Brommund got a couple of vial of true resurrection, Elrin got a bunch of griffon feathers which would call 5 griffons to assist or help us travel each time we used one of the 10 feathers, and I received a lute of modify memory.

We were sent on a quest to find some orbs [editors note: SUCH unique storytelling], we initially had to agree to bring them back to the mages and let them have safe keeping of them we instead negotiated our promise to be “we will do everything we can to avoid the world literally ending” and with that massive loophole we were off to collect these orbs.

We fought a dragon, didn’t do so well I almost died and now am scarred up on the side of my face, but after we killed the massive terrible dragon [editors note: seriously it was a baby dragon] AFTER WE DEFEATED THE TERRIBLE HUGE MASSIVE DRAGON I used fragments of it’s skull to hide half of my face and all of the scarring [editors note: which is great, it was hideous]. We saved some friends, we saved some dwarves, we found out the humans who hate magic users are working with some magic users, dragonborns, and dragons to kill… magic users… apparently the dragons are running the show now. We made our way to Brommunds home and thwart an invasion force, we ensure his dad gains the throne, and Elrin killed a bunch of people so he got executed, it was sad. Then we met a guy but I can’t say his name so I call him Sue. Also I really like this girl named Tika and she has been kinda around throughout this whole ordeal but now it seems like she has a thing for Sue and so we will see how that goes.

And now…

 

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#HumpDayRPG Problem Players and Pathfinder (is it a cult?)

Note: Welcome to the first episode of HumpDay RPG a weekly slack chat between our two founders (and two employees) Travis and Gideon.

Travis
Hey Gideon, welcome to our first weekly not-at-all-stolen-from-FiveThirtyEight chat.

Gideon
Topic 1: what to do when you players hate each other 😛

Travis
Oh great topic, I was thinking of “Pathfinder is on Humble Bundle again” but since you bring it up, it’s pretty common to have some drama at a table. RPGs typically show a much less inhibited versions of our true selves (or allow us to play out other people who maybe those closest to us are not as comfortable with). How do you handle drama at the table?

Gideon
Well a little drama is definitely ok, a game where there’s no tension between the characters might not be the most interesting game you can play. The first thing I try to keep my eye on is if the tension between the characters is bleeding into tension between the players. The former is fine, the latter can be a bit of a problem.

The easiest way to do that is to call a break (a little while after any drama, no need to inturrupt a good scene) to grab drinks whatever and see if the players are laughing and enjoying reflecting on their characters actions e.g. “oh man, my Cleric is such a dick, but he really has to follow his scripture to the letter of the law – sorry!” a bad sign is players sniping at each other in real life comments etc. e.g. “why do you have to be such a dick?”

Travis
Do you think the DM has to step in at a certain point? Like you have a player (not character) who is openly hostile to the actions of another… do you just let it play out? Do you explain that it’s a good decision?

I guess, where do we as DMs have to position ourselves? I feel like this is something you and I are probably a bit different on. I would rather get mildly involved and take a side if to me the side is clear. If you are being a dick at my table, I am going to say “hey it’s his turn to do with as he wants, if you would like to protest in character, please do so when it’s your turn if you ever learn about it”.

Gideon
The way I DM I think it’s my job to make sure everyone at the table is having a fun/rewarding time, a part of that is definitely mediating dispute if necessary. I have a few rules at the table, one of which is everyone is allowed to play their character how they like, so if a player is criticizing character choice I’ll step in to defend that, if the player being criticized isn’t doing it for themselves.

It’s dangerous, I think, to “take a side” however because if you show favour to one player at a table that can set up an imbalance about how your players feel about you, which can be hard to shift.

I’ll generally step in though, if I think that there’s a shred of malice or mean intent at the table, intially playfully (I’ll have their character trigger a sleep trap or something to give them a time out, and they’ll usually go to the bathroom or whatever) but if they are a persistently being unkind or unfair I’ll talk to them after class 😛

Travis
Mute spell 😛

“oh what a terrible thing just happened, you and you triggered a mute spell you cannot talk for the next 10 real life minutes”

Gideon
lol yes perhaps, that can seem a little targeted, but could work well. My main objective is always “what will optimize for happiness at the table” not “what does this person deserve” so that includes not pissing off the person being a dick – who might just be having a crappy day

Travis
Yeah we frequently talk about the “rule of cool” as a sort of overarching rule of Dungeons and Dragons and I know that it’s one that you and I both adhere to… but I think the better rule would be the “rule of fun”

Which is basically the rule of cool but for more. Did we break the rules in how we defeated the dragon? Sure. Did we have fun? Yes, it was awesome.

Gideon
What would you do if you had a player who had no interest in completing the group objective, and you could see this was gradually frustrating the rest of the group? Eye rolls from everyone else while this one player clearly didn’t GAF?

Travis
I was reading an article about this on Reddit today. The guy was concerned because he likes to really draw out the role play and enjoy the game, while the others just want to hurry up and kill monsters. He asked if he was playing the game wrong because he was irritating his group.

Most of the people said “you are playing the same way we would like, but also you are not going to get the rest of the group to change to what you want they have their own type of game they want to play”

I feel like this might apply, he can make an appeal to them that it’s the type of game he wants to play and as long as he is comfortable playing the game their way for their stuff maybe they can be more tolerant of the way he plays his stuff

In the end, the single player will be the one who would need to leave the group if that was a problem.

Sometimes groups fail, sometimes parties split, and I think at a certain point we also have to accept that. I was having a conversation in one of the D&D slack groups (#DNDRPG) and Sean mentions that the DM stepping in to make things better might actually make the problem worse.

Without knowing a specific instance, this is a hard conversation to specifically talk about. However, his quote is:

> seanhagen
> exactly. D&D is wish fufilment, fantasy, fun times. Leave therapy to those who’ve got the training to do that. I see 1% chance this works out exactly as the DM wants, 99% chance this just makes things worse.

In reference to a DM trying to use a game to help solve people’s issues. He suggests sitting the two down, saying knock off your crap or we end the game.

Travis
@Gideon Basically have fun, if you are not having fun… stop playing. I want to know how you feel about pathfinder.

Gideon
I feel great about Pathfinder! It was my intro to being a GM and I loved the refinements it made to 3E, though I certainly appreciate the crunch makes GMing far harder

I came to the conclusion that a good PF game really relies on a GM who knows most of the rules inside out, otherwise things can grind to a halt. I learned to dread the words “I’m going to try and grapple it” … oh god… are you, let me get out the grappeling tome.

🙂 I prefer 5e, it feels like just the right amount of abstraction to maximize fun, but … PF has some advantages

Travis
Pathfinder society was my introduction to RPGs, other than the few games we had played at the time. I really loved it, but it was also… much?

Do we /need/ 50,000 different racial options?

Gideon
for one thing, it has a huge library of custom PCs that play with different abilities and allow a ton of flexibility in how to play

the down side of this … haha… yeah is that they may not all be well balanced and with such a myriad of options, it’s easy to powergame your way to absurdity

I have fond memories of my player, who was a pirate, using one of the swashbuckler varients – justified twin pistols as a magix artifact ina world with no firearms

funny thing about a world with no firearms… firearms are super powerful 😛 I nerfed them pretty hard, but she was still great

Travis
That’s it, in pathfinder there is a pirate class, and in UA (which I am excited is going to be in Xanthar’s Guide as official) in 5e there is a swashbuckler that is only a subclass of Rogue

(or rather an archetype)

Gideon
Yes, which I think works fine. Pirates are basically rogues after all 😉 I like how modular 5e feels, you can swap things out but it doesn’t become a whole new subclass

The magic is really the things that I think puts 5e above PF, it’s snappy and refined, but who knows how much of that is the feeling of the people I happen to have played with vs the actual mechanics of the game, I haven’t really analysed the two systems

Travis
Not everything needs to be a class either. If I wanted to be a pirate, I could easily just be a “pirate bard” and make “pirate” my background or anything else.

Or just say “oh btw, I’m a pirate”

Gideon
Exactly, I feel like things like “backgrounds” are a great things that players and GMs can play with together, fairly minor class adjusters that add a lot of colour and a few items and maybe a skill, so you can certainly have the “pirate” background and have fun writing it yourself

Also 5e Bard is awesome, and for that alone I love 5e, because all other bards essentially suck

Travis
What makes spellcasting better in 5e?
(#BardLife)

Gideon
They are pretty radically different systems, but an example, (and I worry that I will misremeber half of this) is that DCs of spells back in PF were dependedent on the level of the spell, now the spellcaster has a DC which is an property of the caster and their level, so you know how good oyu are at all magic. That kind of streamlining is indicative of the change between systems

Low level spells became useless as you levelled up, because their DC was so low but you were fighting more hardcore things, so your number of spells was pinched out to really only your higher level ones

In general magic is less powerful in 5e, but more balanced (a low level PF weizard was a bit puny and couldn’t do much, but a high level one was a god), in 5e they feel good across the board. Cantrips being at will and unlimted keep magic users in the game and having fun no matter what (there are cantrips for everyone that do a basic amount of damage, so you dont have to hoard all your attack spells until the next sleep) etc

Travis
Yeah, I will probably pick up pathfinder for the suggested $5 to get all the core books

they come in PDF, CBR, and other formats so that’s cool.

but I have really enjoyed 5e more, and when playing in groups I have also found Adventurers League to be a bit better than Pathfinder Society.

Also I am partially worried that Pathfinder Society is a cult..

Gideon
Oh it’s for sure a cult

😉 I stay away from cults, guilds, evern forums, they suck you in… before you know it you have side quests up the wazoo and half the people in town wont talk to you

Travis
Not only like a cult, but like… Scientology (there goes our big group of scientologists buying dice). They bring you in for the games but they also want you buying all their books and they have SO many books

SO many books

Gideon
so many.

I also think I’m with the great Gary Gygax (PBUH) on this one when he says: “T[Pathfinder] is too rule intensive. It’s relegated the Dungeon Master to being an entertainer rather than master of the game. – Gary Gygax, GameSpy interview, Pt. 2 (16 August 2004)”

I enjoyed it, but 5e really feels like I’m crafting the world and situations every step in the way and I’m free to just play around in this sandbox, without having some rules lawyer say “erhem, I think you’ll find a wonderous acorn must be _on the ground or toucing the earth_ to activate, so your action is invalid” I mean of course I can always rule 0 him, but … 5e feels like it really emphasizes that GM is god, so if his wonderous acorns grow in the mouths of dragons, then so be it

Travis
Ha, I have been working on a system that simplifies the 5e rules into a new much lower barrier system. Let alone considering adding more rules and functions.

@Gideon OMG LIGHTNING ROUND

Gideon
!!

Travis
Yay or Nay on the pathfinder humble bundle?

Gideon
Yay

its a great system and $5 is a bargain

Travis
Paladin or Cleric

Gideon
Paladin

Travis
Best drink to play D&D with

Gideon
Full bottle of red wine

(Full at the start)

Travis
One sentence DM tip… go

Gideon
It’s not about beating your players, it’s about having fun losing to them.

Travis
Awesome. Thanks for our chat! Readers feel free to stop by next week, we may have a special guest whose name rhymes with Bin Weasle (XXX)… maybe… you will have to read next week.

Gideon
Woah – we might be haning out with … Gin… Skeezel?

Rad

Thanks Travis, see you next week readers