The Way Is Bared


A shut door is never the end, it’s the beginning. Have you ever thought that if something is holding you back, it’s a challenge to rise above the situation, not one to give into. I hope you can rise to the challenges you’re presented with.

Feel free to use this picture (for good). You don’t even need to credit me, but a link is always nice. I took it on my iPhone.

Judge it by the Cover – 20 Random Book Titles

Four Scholars

The party wizard walks over to the bookshelf and asks the dreaded question: “What books do I find?” Well, everyone likes random tables, so here’s my list of 20 random book titles to inspire you:

D20 – Random Book Titles

  1. The Dullard’s Guide to Lock Picking by Dovid Blaine
  2. The Tale of the Incredibly Long Walk by Jungo Rolando Rudolfus Trollkin
  3. The Halfling by Jungo Rolando Rudolfus Trollkin
  4. Alchemy – From Lead to Gold in Ten Easy Steps by William Nye “The Alchemy Guy”
  5. Carnivorous Creatures of Cunning by Davidius Attenbroege
  6. Living With Lycanthropes by Bella Crow
  7. My Misspent Youth, Dating Death by Bella Crow
  8. A Tale of Two Citadels by Charles Drockens
  9. Gorilions in the Mist by Dianna Flossey
  10. My Family and other Lycanthropes by Gerrundius Dorrel
  11. Adolescent Transfigured Monk Terrapins by Kelvin Laird and Petro Southman
  12. Elandril: The First Skybenders by Dante Konieso
  13. A Long Time in the Future, in a Plane Close Bye by Lukus Georgius.
  14. The Big Book of Gnome Tricks by Cori Terriduke Nurfumble
  15. The Complete Encyclopaedia of Dwarven Grudges – book number XXXIII, by various authors.
  16. The Halfling’s Guide to Friends, Family and Food. A Condensed collection in 36 volumes, by various authors.
  17. Perfect Prestidigitation by Grundorf White
  18. Are We Pawns of the Gods, Living in their Imagined World? by Nicholi Proest Cunningham
  19. Aboleth to Zonethrope, a Naturalist”s Guide by Stevetheen Erlwine
  20. Dungeons to Lava Flows, a Survival Guide by Rie Meer Si

Well, that was pretty random in more than one way, but hopefully it was worth a few laughs. Enjoy the game and let us know if you have any more random book titles to share.

UPCON 2012 Module – Death in the Deep

I could trace the origin of this blog back to many sources, but one of the most prominent must be when I started writing modules for the convention circuit back in Gauteng South Africa, specifically for UPCON and ICON. ICON was actually the first convention I ever attended, going there for comic books (Spider-Man mostly). I came out of that convention with a box of Warhammer 40k, which eventually lead to role-playing. So I kind of think ICON was where most things began for me in a way. But enough rambling, this year again I’m submitting a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure, Death in the Deep.

So, wouldn’t it be neat if players and GM’s could get additional information about the module online? Wouldn’t it be great if other interested readers could get a taste of the adventure? Well, that’s what this page is all about. I’m posting it now, but it’s sure to change as more information and downloads become available here.

#NEWS FLASH! – 30 March 2012# Just submitted the module and all the character sheets. I’m pretty proud of the outcome. I reckon this is my best work so far.

#NEWS FLASH! – 13-14 April 2012 Play Test# Our Japan group, who were a witch, wizard, fighter and stow away rouge (she only joined the fight when the Loreley split in two, managed to wound the sea serpent so badly that it ended up with a Dex of 8 and made it’s escape. The adventurers then made it to land where they sheltered for the night, uncomfortably close to a boggard camp. They then made their way on foot and by horse to Dead Mans Landing, passing the town of Gold Bridge, ruled by Duke One-Eye. They found Lantern Tower to be trapped, a store house for the 8-9-3.


Gear Up

It pays to be ready. All the following items are not required, but may prove useful to GM’s running the module.


Player Characters

You can check out the player character sheets here. Please note, check the files for viruses, I can’t be held responsible if your computer crashes and burns.



Read more about Avernos, the setting of Death in the Deep, here.

I Attack The Darkness – Evil and Good in Role-Playing Games

Boden raised his holy symbol high above his head, calling down a searing beam of light into the valley below. The seething mass of living dead bodies recoiled, flailing their arms in an attempt to shield themselves from the holy light and backing away from their victims.
“Evil will not triumph this day!” Boden muttered under his breath.

A light to throw back the darkness
Boden raised his holy symbol...

The story of the battle of good versus evil is as old as time yet as engaging and important as always. We love the hero and we want him or her to win, and in their victory we learn something of ourselves: heroism, humility, honour, whatever it may be. You see, the story of the battle of good versus evil is our own story. It is tied to our existence and as important as the air we breathe.

For good to exist, at least in a story, there must be the opposite force. In any good story there is evil. In real life there may be two parties with opposing views, neither one necessarily evil or good per say, just not agreeing with each other. In a story like Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings, David and Goliath, Gladiator, and the Matrix, there is an evil that the hero must overcome, and by the darkness of evil we see the light of the “good” hero all the more brightly.

Because of the evil enemy, role-playing books are usually full of all types of monster, demon, devil and horror. They are the darkness that players want to defeat. Role-playing sometimes gets a bad rap from many religious organizations because of this evil content. It’s probably not surprising, even though there are Christian role-players out there, like myself. But in stories, we realize the need for that evil oppressor, the mad villain or the terrible dragon. Without Sauron, the Hobbits would have never left for Bree, Rohan would never have come to the defended of the White Tree and JRR Tolkien would not be as famous a story teller as he is today.

Edit: I came across a great post from Christian blogger Berin Kinsman that supports what I’m saying, so I’m plugging that in here:

Nearly everyone I know that’s involved in the roleplaying hobby, whether they play in fantasy settings, superheroes, horror, espionage, and any of the myriad styles and genres, typically engage in basic good-versus-evil stories. Even the folks I know who play games where they play monsters enjoy wrestling with and exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas and the angsts and drama. It is social, it is creative, but it is fiction. There is, on some level, a degree of redeeming social value to go along with the escapism.


The story of good versus evil teaches us a lot about our real selves. It teaches us, I think, that we want goodness and peace, we dislike oppression or unfairness, and we realize that peace doesn’t come from inaction but that often people had to die for freedom. As a South African it’s easy to think back on how activists like Mahatma Gandhi worked for freedom, through personal effort, suffering and hardship.


I think a wise GM looks at his campaign…

…and asks “what are we (the PC’s) fighting for?” It may, in a small part, be to defeat the tyrant, push back evil from the land or put the dead to rest, but what is the higher cause? Even if a new, more powerful set of armour motivates most of your players onto their next quest, I think you’ll find a deep hunger for the good to win out against evil. It’s part of what makes us human.

Inspired In Japan – The Katana

Inspired in Japan

The Japanese sword known as the katana is a symbol of a time, a people and of beautiful yet deadly efficiency. Let’s rip open what makes the katana such a remarkable weapon, explore the essence and myth that surrounds it and slice a path to inspire more depth from this weapon in your own role-playing campaign.


The History

The katana was the traditional sword of the samurai. It developed from the tachi sword, which is similar but worn with the cutting edge down, while the katana was worn with the cutting edge up, and could be kept tucked in the sash (obi) around a samurai’s waist. The katana could be quickly drawn and a deadly cut made in a single, fluid motion. In fact, forms of martial arts, iaido and iaijitsu, were developed around this principle.

Samurai with tachi
Samurai wearing a tachi.

The katana was traditionally worn with a wakizashi, which was a shorter sword used for enclosed spaces or as an off-hand weapon. While a samurai might put aside his katana, for instance when inside a residence, he would always keep his wakizashi. The katana and wakizashi together were called daisho, and were the samurai’s badge of rank.


The Making

The strength of the katana comes from the duel forging technique used to make the blade. On the outside of the blade you have a harder metal, which can better hold a sharp edge, while on the inside you have a springy metal that makes the whole blade less brittle. Parries and blocks were performed with the side or back of the blade to keep the cutting edge sharp. I won’t go into the whole process forging process here, but Wikipedia has a great page on Japanese swordsmithing that will give you plenty of information.

Basically tamahagane, the raw iron ore, is heated to about 1300 °C and then hammered and folded into shape. Once the blade has been shaped it is quenched (yaki-ire) using clay, charcoal and powdered whetstone as a mask over the cutting edge as it is dipped in water. It is this process that gives the blade its beautiful wave like pattern and different tempering. The blade is then sharpened and signed.


The Purpose

The katana was made with one purpose in mind: killing. However, as time passed, and the samurai spent less time on the battle field and more time in court, the swords became more ornate, a status symbol rather than a practical weapon.

Every aspect of the sword had some etiquette. Preserving the carbon rich blade from rust and the safe handling and use of the blade were all important. There was a culture to the sword that I think is hard for us to understand in our “want it now” culture. Your sword was with you always, it was kept clean, respected and known intimately. It was your life, your death, your rank, your mark of society and affected how people perceived you and the manners they showed you.


The Essence

It’s not surprising then that the katana was seen by the samurai to have its own spirit. For a samurai, his katana was both an important piece of equipment and a symbol of his own life. At his waist an ever present reminder that death could come quickly and brutally.


The Katana in Your Campaign

If your character weilds a katana, take a moment to think about what the sword means to your character. Is it something to depend on when enemies close in? Is it a thing of beauty? Do those who see such a weapon being worn immediately form an opinion of the wearer? What is the history of the weapon and is there any culture surrounding it?

If you’re a GM you can ask many of the same questions. Stat’s wise a katana might not be that much more powerful than any other sword, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as awesome as it should be. Build a history and culture around it in your campaign world and see where it gets you. As an idea to start you off here are six random sword histories and six random cultural ideas for the katana.


Katana Histories – Random Table (D6)

  1. The Bear Claw: this sword’s scabbard (saya) is covered in bear fur, and was the possession of an unknown samurai who opposed the lord of a neighbouring kingdom. It is said he approached the lord while the lord was travelling though a mountain pass and addressed himself as Father Bear, “ready to serve justice with his shining bear claw.”
  2. Dragons Tear: this silver and gold blade was discovered lying on the palace floor besides the head of Fin Fiyang, an ancient gold dragon. To this day no one knows who his murderer was or to whom the sword belonged.
  3. Arrow Biter: this plain katana was used by a warrior who fell defending his lord from arrows of the enemy. When he fell he was surrounded by dozens of halved arrows he had slashed in his desperate defence .
  4. The Emperors Sorrow: this blade is covered in an ancient inscription, foretelling the death of the king. It is not known if the king has any knowledge of the blade or what he would do if he found out about it.
  5. The Rolling Thunder: something in the construction of this blade has resulted in a loud rumbling sound every time the weapon is drawn.
  6. The Dragonfly: this katana has a brown saya with fittings representing dragonflies. Rumour has it that it belonged to a lord who requested it’s construction to appease a water-fey who lived within his lands.


Katana Cultural Ideas – Random Table (D6)

  1. It is considered impolite to comment on someone’s katana, so much so that polite phrases such as “may I relieve you of your burden” have taken on new meaning.
  2. If a katana is broken then ancient law states that the sword must be recast into a single iron bowl and the owner of the sword should only ever eat from that bowl for the rest of his life.
  3. The katana is such a venerated weapon that it is unlawful for any peasant to even touch such a weapon.
  4. City law has it that weapons must be put aside when entering a tavern. However, a loop hole exists for the katatana, due to a passed mayor of the city wishing to impress a visiting samurai lord. Unfortunately, as legend tells, he fell foul of his own law and was assassinated by one of the samurai’s retainers.
  5. Newly forged katana blades are kept in a local temple for a year for purposes of purification.
  6. Silvered katana blades are prohibited in the area, a recent law. Meanwhile, there are growing suspicions that members of the court are involved in some type of night sport involving hunting game, and sometimes the waifs of the city.


Some L33T Facts

Just because I generally find it funny when I see anyone trying to handle a katana, here are some quick expert facts as a bonus:

  • If it’s at your side or in a belt, the blade should be held up.
  • You’d never touch the cutting edge, that’s moronic.
  • You keep your thumb on the tsuba (hand guard), to keep the blade in the saya (scabbard).
  • A katana can split a bullet, but not a tank.


I’m indebted to all those who have taken the time to teach me about Japanese swords and their related martial arts, both in dojo’s around South Africa and in Japan. Much of the limited research done was from Wikipedia or “Introduction to Japanese Swords through Pictures” by the All Japan Swordsmith Association, with additional research done at the Tokyo National Museum. Their collection of nihonto has been the best collection I have ever seen. If you enjoyed this article and would like to hear more about other Japanese weapons, or even European or African weapons, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

Inspired In Japan – Role Playing a Year After The Big One

Inspired in Japan

While contemplating the difference between “role-play”, “roleplay” and “role play” I came across an interesting bit of trivia. In Japan, RPG means a digital role-playing game, while pencil and paper RPG’s are known as TRPG’s or “table-talk role-playing games”.

Role-playing in Japan is an interesting phenomenon. They had their own boom, have their own games and enjoyed some of the games we know well in the west, such as GURP’s and Dungeons and Dragons. There are even companies like Aurora Models who make miniatures and dungeon sets for TRPG’s.

But what’s the state of TRPG’s now?

Well, it seems like the disaster that hit Japan a year ago had quite an effect on spending, especially in terms of recreation. Apart from many foreigners leaving, many Japanese cut down on travelling and recreational spending. I spoke to my local hobby store owner who said that Magic The Gathering had seen a sharp decline in sales.

Have a look on the store locator from the Wizards of the Coast site and you’ll find plenty of stores stocking their goods in Japan, but talk to the average teenager about RPG’s and they might not know what you’re talking about, even with those who understand English well.

Is this all because of the disaster or just the general slump of the RPG industry?

The Foreign Effect

There might not be as many foreigners in Japan now as there were a year ago, but amongst us the passion for gaming burns strong. My own list of role players in my area numbers some 15 people, and that’s only after being here for 8 months (you should know that I’m socially retarded quite often, so I’m sure there are people I’m missing, just because I don’t get out much.)

Barbarian vs Flesh Golum
The enlarged party barbarian faces off against a Flesh Golum in a session just a few hours outside of Tokyo, the iTunes store and Drive Thru RPG are probably the main stores used by the foreign community today, while finding dice is a bit of an art form.

Japan Can

Japan is a country of determined people. The spirit of Bushido and “Never Give Up” may be stronger than any Japanese person would ever admit, especially in the face of the situation today. While the rest of Japan may not have been so directly affected as those hit by the Tsunami or the displacement from the reactor, their minds certainly are not far from what happened a year ago today.

What can you do?

Japan doesn’t want to be treated like a plague victim. It’s safe enough, even if there at tremors now and again, but it’s a beautiful country that deserves a visit. As role-players we are continually inspired by Japan, from L5R to the samurai and ninja classes in D&D or Pathfinder. Reach out on the web. Buy manga, play the games and come and be inspired by this amazing country.

It inspires me daily.

Avernos – South Fort

“South Fort will fall, its heart is blacker than any would guess. It is but a small bother on the great road to the destruction of the Alliance Nations. Then, and it shall be soon, the Tyrant will hold all Avernos as his kingdom.

– Karleethia Darkhand


A while back I gave an overview of Avernos, the Land of Adventure, and a brief introduction to South Fort, which is the city setting for the solo adventure Sentinels Watching. In this post I’m going to give you a heap of extra setting information so that you can use South Fort in your own campaign.

City On Watch

South Fort was established as a garrison in the Wilderlands, an inhospitable stretch of land on the Southern edge of the human kingdom. To the West lies the deadly mountain range known as the Jaws, and beyond that the Abyss, from whence every manner of foul darkness issues forth. To the east lies the Dead Wood, a forest older than time and said to be haunted by the spirits of ancient trees.

The city has seen more than it’s fair share of conflict, and yet has grown as a major commercial hub, due to the fact that it sits on three important trading routes. As the city has grown so too has the power struggle within it between South Fort’s elite. While the city is officially led by the Keep Captain, there is growing evidence to suggest that an influential gang within the city holds the real power.

Law, if you can call it that, is maintained by the city watch known as the Blue Capes. They owe this title to the blue capes of rank they wear to distinguish themselves from the civilian population. If the leaders within the Capes are doing anything to stem the corruption in the city they are keeping very quiet.


Districts of South Fort

South Fort is divided up into several districts, each with its own unique character:

The Keep: The military and municipal heart of the city. Here you’ll find clerks, judges, officers and other administrative personnel, along with a heavier presence of Blue Capes and South Fort militia. Other than at times of siege, common folk have little business in the Keep and the few merchants that have stalls here are solely concerned with selling stationery, inks and the stamps required for the daily running of the administrative offices.

Inner City: Surrounded by the main defensive wall of the city and the watchtowers known as the Sentinels, the Inner City is home to the richest citizens of South Fort. Built on top of a rising outcrop of rock, the Inner City commands a grand view of the rest of South Fort and the Wilderlands beyond. Foreign and trade goods are sold on Market Way, a wide thoroughfare, which draws merchants from far and wide, while the best craftsmen line South Fort’s famous Trade Road.

Outer City: Those living in the Inner City would describe the Outer City as “home to everyone else”. The Outer City sees more traders and travellers than the rest of the city as many visitors to South Fort prefer to ply their trade outside of the city walls and away from the high taxes they can expect to pay within. The Outer City black market does a roaring trade, with coin traded for goods from the Northern Kingdom, the Free South and the Eastern Ports in alleys, taverns, back rooms and through secret agencies such as The Raven.

The Sewers: The sewers of South Fort are an impressive feat of human and dwarven architecture hailing back from the first days of the Alliance. Having since fallen into decay, the sewers are now home to all manner of ne’er-do-wells, not to mention a growing rat population.


Organisations and Societies

South Fort is home to a number of organisations and societies, each with their own agendas.

The Sentinels: A secret organisation said to be operating within the Inner City. There is evidence to suggest that they control the taxation of trade within the city, which would make them powerful indeed.

The Blue Capes: The city watch of South Fort. Their main jurisdiction is within the city, but at times they help the militia patrol further abroad. Duties of the Capes include maintaining the peace, running messages and extracting taxes from visiting merchants.

The Raven: A clandestine organisation trading on the Outer City black market. The Raven have a reputation as heroes to the lower classes and as thieves to the wealthy, although much of their reputation comes from bar room chatter and old wives’ talk.

The Hoods: A large group of robbers, cut-throats and bandits who target the surrounds of South Fort. They are a constant blight on the trade routes and a thorn in the side of the South Fort militia.

The Fixers: A guild that hires and assigns unusual jobs to mercenaries and other adventurous types. It’s said that if you need extra coin and don’t mind a few scars then the Fixers are just the people to contact.   


More Adventures

Want to experience more of South Fort and have a chance to influence the future of this intriguing city? Hop on over to The Rising Dark for another completely free adventure set in the City of Sentinels.

Well, that’s it for this week. Let me know what you think by posting a comment below. Your comments could help shape the future of South Fort, Avernos and the world beyond.

Be A Star Player – Rule the Rules

My wife and I were recently talking about why learning the rules of role-playing games is such a scary task for so many players. With core rule books averaging over 300 pages, it’s not surprising that it seems like studying for an exam. Also, it’s quite easy to get by sometimes without knowing the rules, especially around a good GM. Well, thanks to some inspiration from the guys at Campaign Mastery and their great series on Rules Master, I thought I’d share some advice specifically for players.


The Key

The key to reading and learning rules, as the Campaign Mastery guys say, is not to read the book from cover to cover. Just read what interests you and what you need to play your character. The rest of this post is aimed at helping you do just that.


Start At The Beginning

As with a new text book, always skim through the Table of Contents first. This gives you an idea of what’s in the book and where you’ll find what you want. It’s a bit like looking at a map to get a general idea of where you are. You might even find chapters with names like “How To Play”, “Getting Started” or “The Basics”. Go there next.


Reading Lists

In the first chapter there is often a nice little reading plan. Follow that and you’ll save a load of time and be ready to play much sooner. The introduction will also give you a good idea of setting, or at least the feeling of the game, so I’d recommend reading it. From the reading list you can make your own reading plan, like I mention below in the Action section. Generally, your reading plan will skip anything for the Game Master, unless it pertains in some way to how you might want to use your character. Skip anything not related to your character. Not using magic? Then just dump that chapter from the list.

Action – Make A Reading Plan

  1. Write “+1 Reading Plan of Power” on the top of a sheet of paper. Underline it in neon. Draw a dead goblin head next to the heading for extra flair.
  2. Write down a list of all the chapters you’ll need. Exclude everything that’s for the Game Master.
  3. From the Table of Contents, find the page numbers for each chapter. Mark these on your reading plan.
  4. BONUS: Take some sticky paper tabs and mark out the sections you’ll need. If you’re wanting to play a pirate, put a tab where rules for pirate are given to help you find things quickly.

By the way, this method works well for studying too. Web guru’s call it “chunking”, or breaking down information into manageable bits. Our brains are kind of lazy, so you can grasp more if you can see there’s less to actually learn.


Build A Character

Once you have your reading plan, the next step is to build a character. A good idea is to have a character concept, as this will help you build a specific kind of character with the rules. As you go, use your reading list to track what you’ve done and add in anything else you want to look at. Just don’t forget to take stuff off the list too, you don’t need extra work.

As you build your character you might get an idea of where you want to take your character. Will your rogue establish her own guild? Make a note of this, preferably on your character sheet. It will help you play your character and, when the time comes, you can use your ideas to direct your reading further.



So, supposing y0u have a character and you’re ready to play then try your character in a game. You can learn most of the rules at the table under the watchful eye of the Game Master and with the help of more experienced players. While you’re playing though, make a list of any rules you feel uncertain about and any rules you want to check out. Then you can then look at those rules later or in down time.


Dig Deeper

After the game, or if you have enough time before a session, get a better grip on the rules by looking at the following suggestions, which are ordered by importance, from most to least.

Combat: Learn how to fight with every weapon in your arsenal, including your fists and makeshift weapons like broken bottles. You’ll also want to know how to use your special combat abilities and know exactly what their effects will be, since these are often character specific and something your GM may not know off hand. A good place to keep notes is on your character sheet.

Skills: Skills make up a large part of what your character can do. Keep in mind, however, that your skills are not as important to the GM as his campaign and session preparations. So if you understand what you can do with your skills, you’ll get more out of your character. Think of it like this: if you’re a sneaky halfling with major stealth skills, but don’t know how to use them, you just won’t sneak as effectively as you could if you knew the rules.

Movement: The more I learn about martial arts, having tried a few, the more I realise fighting is all about moving. Where you are directly influences your effectiveness. Movement is relatively simple too, so make sure you know how your character will move, both on land, in water and when riding something. A good way to think of this is to look at how a hero in a story of the same genre as the game you’re learning would get around. Aragon walked, ran, rode a horse and used a canoe.

Magic: If you’re using magic, know how it works. A good idea is to keep page references of each spell you can cast.

Miscellaneous: Subjects such as alignment may be covered in a chapter along with other miscellaneous rules. Many of these rules may be fluff that you can skip or skim. I’d leave this stuff for last.


Some Other Ideas

Beginner’s Boxes and Solo Modules: These are a great way to learn the game. Play at your own pace while trying out the rules. I don’t need to say more except that our free module is here.

Forums: The web is a great place to learn, especially when there’s a rule your don’t understand. Check out forums like EN World or, you may even get an answer from the designer of the game themselves. If you can, find a local forum too, it will help you make friends and find game groups in your area, as well as help you learn local house rules. For South Africans I recommend


You Gotta Read To Succeed

At the end of the day you just need to jump in and read. I always think that a little work can lay the foundation for more understanding later, so even if time is limited, read what you can, it will be worth it.

Let me know if you have more tips or something that worked particularly well for you.


Comments Are Back Online

Comments were down for some time, sorry. I guess no one could tell me because no one could comment. Anyway, the good news is that you can comment again. Hopefully I’ll be able to manage the ton of spam this blog was getting and not have to use a plugin again.


Tidy Tidy

In other news, I’ve tidied up some posts to make things a little easier on you. I’m working towards making this blog truly awesome, so leave a comment if there’s anything you’d like to see on this blog.


Star Players

Our current series is all about players. You can check out the first two posts here and here. Next we’ll look at getting to grip with the rules, so stay tuned.

Be A Star Player – Equipping For The Fight

Last week I wrote about how to be a better player, now we’ll focus on the character you play, specifically your equipment and how to get the most out of the gear available to you. I’m focusing on Dungeons and Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game here, but the principles apply generally to all games, even table top war games.

Never overlook armour. Your armour proficiency will give you a good idea of what kind of armour you’ll need, simply choose between the highest protection or high manoeuvrability. Typically you’ll want high protection if you’re a front line fighter and high manoeuvrability if you’re an acrobatic rogue.

Choose shields in a similar way. Even if you suspect you won’t need a shield, take one anyway if you can carry it. You never know when you might need it’s protection, such as if you find yourself running down a passage of dart traps.

If you’re a caster, choose some protective spells and supplement that with defensive feats like Dodge and magical armour, like rings of protection.

Always carry a good knife, I always say. Daggers are easier to hide, can be thrown in a pinch, prepare a tasty camp meal and provide a clean shave before heading back into town. If you can find a nice toy knife it makes an excellent prop at the table, especially when rolling to intimidate some NPC.

Miyomoto Musashi, the famous Japanese duellist, likened weapons to the tools available to a carpenter. Different weapons have different abilities and uses, making them better for certain tasks. For instance, did you know that the Jo, a Japanese short staff about the length of a broom handle, is particularly effective against the sword. It was developed as a defence against the katana, the famous Japanese sword. It follows then that your character should have as many weapons available as possible, if not carried then close at hand. I’d suggest looking at what weapons are available to your character and then try to cover a number of ranges and attack types (such as piercing, bludgeoning, non-lethal and so on). Don’t forget those reach weapons either. Spears and the like may have other uses than those mentioned in the rules, such fishing someone out of quicksand. Also, don’t forget about silvered weapons and magical weapons, particularly for your main arms.

Ranged Weapons
It’s surprising how easy it is to think in two dimensions with role-playing games. That is, until your party gets terrorised by a flying creature. Having a ranged weapon on you gives you options, even if your ability to hit is reduced and you’re doing less damage.

A good selection of healing potions and buffing potions are important. Anti-venom is one of those things you won’t want until you need it, so get a few bottles early on. Typically I’d choose potions that can heal around a third to half your total health points, so that any extra healing isn’t wasted.

Skills Equipment
Things like disguise kits, healing kits, thieves tools and climbing kits are all good to have floating around in the party. Without them, it can be a little like changing a tire without the proper tools. Even if you only get a small bonus, that can be the difference between success and failure, so rather be prepared. Again, also remember that some equipment may have other uses than stated in the rules: a healer’s kit may have needles and other useful equipment that could be used in other ways, or when empty could help you carry that stash of loot.

The most useless equipment…
…is what you left behind. Every piece of equipment is a useful tool that will, if used well, help you succeed on more rolls. Make the most of what’s available and be well equipped to face your next encounter.