Tag Archives: Roleplaying Games

Why I Nearly Died for the Worst Skateboard Trick

The tail drag is probably the worst skateboarding “trick” in history. If it even is a trick. Basically, you’re stopping your skateboard by slamming your tail down. That’ll rip up your tail and cause razor tail if you do it enough. This sharpening of your tail’s edge turns your board into a lethal weapon, ready to slice shins.

On top of that, there’s a lot that can go wrong with a tail drag. When you lift your front foot, the skateboard’s nose comes up with it. If you don’t commit to the trick, your nose falls down and your front wheels become a fulcrum of death, catapulting you forward and into the ground.

That’s how I bodied myself, many times. It’s just lucky I’ve never broken an arm. Still, I’ll attempt the tail drag again, and again, until I get it.

Why?

skateboard
You didn’t realize this RPG blog was going to take a skateboarding turn, but don’t worry, we’ll get back to rolling dice.

To me, skateboarding is about technical skill. It’s fun, too, sure, but the act of skateboarding is all in the physics. Similarly, you might say TTRPGs are about telling stories collaboratively. So learning to tail drag, as I see it, is the first step to better board control, which leads to unlocking the next level of skating.

Many skaters will disagree with me, because it really is a terrible trick, but I know myself and I know this is my personal battle. I have to fight it.

Maybe there was an aspect of the hobby you had to work hard at, even if your peers disagreed with you. Maybe you’re part of a group of power gamers, and you’re fighting hard to roleplay instead of roll-play. Maybe you’re trying to improve your mini painting skills, and your buddies all buy pre-painted minis.

Maybe this is about RPG fundamentals, and doing all you can to learn and put them into practice. What do you think?

The Death of Tabletop RPGs: Did D&D Doom Us?

I… really should write more posts. I’ve been meaning to, but blah blah sorry sob story… whatever. You’re not here about that, you’re here because of my clickbaity title, which means you probably care either about proving me wrong, the title hit a nerve, or you’re genuinely curious about my ominous predictions about the death of tabletop RPGs.

Raven on tombstone

Actually, there might be some other reason why you’re here, so scratch that. I’m not omnipotent. I’m not even semi-potent. Most of the time, I’m just trying to be more than normal. What I’ve learned though, is that normalcy is seldom escapable, and that’s a good thing.

Most roleplayers like to live on the fringes. Most of us were goths when goths were a thing, or punks, or the emo kids, or drama students. We’re the kind of people who wilt in the sunlight, who can’t throw balls, who use words like ‘dimwitted’ and ‘Ludite’ to mock others and feel intellectually superior. I’m exaggerating and generalizing here, but in my experience, few of us ever thought ourselves normal.

For some of us, normal is a swearword. We’d never want to gain that label.

But then D&D 5e came along, and suddenly TTRPGs were immensely popular. And “normal” kids were playing them. For some of us, it felt like a betrayal. Like we’d lost our last refuge to the football jocks.

Of course, there’s a bright side to all this. TTRPGs are doing well, and more of us are getting to make a living producing content for our favorite collaborative games. Roleplaying is more accessible than ever before, and that’s worth celebrating.

But that doesn’t mean the grognards need to like it.

So, kids, if you ever hear an old-school gamer ranting about the death of RPGs, or about how Warhammer FRP 1e or Vampire the Masquerade is better than Dungeons & Dragons could ever be, just let it slide.

The hobby isn’t dying, but evolution can be painful.


More Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Once again, we have more cruel trinkets for Dungeons & Dragons 5e that could prove to be both a blessing and a curse to those who dare to use them.

You can find the original Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods, on the blog.

Thank you to Codex Anathema, who inspired this post and are hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Eager Blade

Weapon (longsword), rare (requires attunement)

This polished +2 longsword grants you an additional action after a successful attack, once per turn. You must use this extra action to attack an enemy with the Eager Blade or, if no enemy is within reach, to attack an ally or bystander. If no other target is available, you are instead incapacitated until the end of your next turn, as you attempt to bring the weapon under control.

Fire Emblem

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

This red ruby is set within a brooch of red gold. You have advantage on Charisma based checks involving fire elementals and creatures from the Elemental Plane of Fire. Additionally, any d6s you would roll for fire-based spells step up to d8s.

Whenever you take a long rest, make a DC 2 flat check. On a failure, a 5-foot-square area within 1 mile of you is set ablaze. This fire is affected by the prevailing conditions and will spread if sufficient fuel — such as dry grass or wood — is available.

I hope you enjoyed these devious treasures. It’s always more fun when there’s some risk involved.

I wonder who might have created them? Maybe an elemental lord of fire had the fire emblem made for his most trusted envoys, but his craftsmen were unable to fully contain the elemental power within the gem? Just imagine if an NPC was wandering around with one of these around their neck.

Do you have any sneaky items or cruel trinkets you’ve created? Did your GM ever fox you with a real stinker? We’d love to hear from you, in the comments, below.


Image Credits: darksouls1

Get into Tabletop Gaming, Even if You’re Poor

Too poor to play Warhammer 40,000? No cash for Dungeons & Dragons books? I’m going to tell you why money is less of an obstacle than you might think, and why DIY tabletop gaming might do better things for you than paying for official products ever can.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Games Workshop, Wizards of the Coast, and every other tabletop publisher that has ever taken me on a great flight of the imagination. I want you to support them. I’m a game publisher, so I know how important your hard-earned cash is to the industry. But money shouldn’t be the thing that stops you. If you really want to get into roleplaying games, wargaming, or any other tabletop gaming, then there are ways and means that require very little financial investment.

DIYHammer and the Money Paradox

When I was in high school, it wasn’t a problem for me to buy loads of metal minis for my Ork army. It was my parents’ money, really, and I probably didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as I should have. Maybe because I hadn’t earned them myself or because of some fear of not being able to paint them well enough, very few of my minis ever got a lick of paint. In fact, I can only remember ever playing one full game of Warhammer 40K, and it was with another person’s army.

Fast forward twenty years and I’m a freelance writer and editor, making a little extra from RPG sales. There was no money for minis. Any month we didn’t need to cut into our savings was a great month. But I needed a hobby, a space to unwind and think. That’s when I found that my paints hadn’t dried up. I unpacked my old minis and dived back into the fascinating world that had first intrigued me all those years ago. Turns out, I’d stumbled on the cheapest hobby ever.

You’d think that the hobby would start getting expensive as soon as I needed more minis, but I found the opposite to be true. I kitbashed two Ork Deff Dreads, some Runtherds, and a Grot Oiler, all using bits I wasn’t using for anything else. Now I have a Mek Big Gun in the works, lots of bikes, and two Dakka Jets, all in various stages of completion. The more I’ve gotten into the hobby, the more resourceful I’ve become, and the less I’ve spent. The only thing I’ve bought is one box of Gretchin and a few Reaper Bones minis.

Mek-krakka Deff Dread

Okay, yes, I’ve needed to buy the occasional paint, spray can, and lots of superglue, but these costs are low and infrequent. Since getting back into it I’ve only finished one pot of Chaos Black paint.

There have been some interesting benefits from taking the kitbashing approach:

  1. I’ve become more ready to take on DIY projects, including fixing things around the house or building toys for my kids, like a Captain America shield and a PJ Masks HQ toy that I built from PVC pipe.
  2. I look at trash in a whole new way, and more of it gets upcycled instead of being thrown into a landfill somewhere.
  3. My pile of grey plastic is shrinking.
  4. I understand the art of model making much better, so I’m closer to making those custom TMNT figures I always wanted.
  5. I’m more resourceful. If I need a thing, I can probably find a way to make it, substitute something else in, or do without. And this goes far beyond miniatures. I’ve needed a new skateboard for nearly a year now, but I’ve been able to repair and maintain it because of a shift in my mentality.
  6. I have a far greater sense of ownership over my army than I ever had before.

Make Your Own

Brett Novak, who turned skateboarding videos into an art form, said in his TED talk that we romanticise that if we had more money, we’d do all these amazing things, but, in truth, there’s usually a way to do them without the money. As an example, Reiner Knizia, the best-selling board game designer, said that, when he was a kid, he often couldn’t afford the games he wanted to play. He had to make his own. That process must have taught him a lot about game design, and probably has a lot to do with how successful he is today.

So forget about money being the problem. If high prices are keeping you from tabletop gaming and the games that intrigue you, make your own. It’ll teach you a lot and give you a sense of satisfaction that money just can’t buy.


Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Mad gods bestow cruel trinkets on those who dare ask for a boon. Here are two magical items for Dungeons & Dragons 5e that could easily prove to be both a blessing and a curse to those who dare to use them.

Thank you to Sea of Stars, who’ve inspired this post and are hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival.

The Headhunter’s Coin

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

This silver coin has a skull depicted on one side and a pelvic bone on the other. As an action, you can designate a target creature you can see and flip the coin. Make a flat DC 11 check. If you succeed, your threat range for all attacks you make against the target increase by 2, so a roll of 18, 19, or 20 is a critical hit against the target. A roll of 18 or 19 can still miss, unlike a roll of 20, which is always a hit.
If you fail the flat check, you instead suffer a -2 penalty to your Armor Class.
The bonus or penalty lasts until the target is destroyed or until another creature attunes to the headhunter’s coin.

Cruel Trinkets
Image Credit: BlackDog1966

Deadman’s Hand

Wondrous item, unique

This mummified hand clutches four playing cards; two black aces and two black eights. A creature that handles the item becomes instantly attuned to it, and loses attunement to a random item if no free attunement slots are available.
While you are attuned to the deadman’s hand, you gain no benefit or penalty from it.
If you lose the deadman’s hand or become unattuned to it, you suffer a -2 penalty on death saving throws until you become attuned to the magical item again, or through a remove curse spell.

I hope you enjoyed these cruel trinkets. If you’ve tried them out in your game, let us know how your players got on, in the comments below. Or maybe you have some of your own nefarious magical items to share, then pop those down in the comments too.


Image Credits: darksouls1

A Death in Spring — New Releases from RPG

It’s been a busy month at Rising Phoenix Games HQ, and we’ve got a bunch of new releases and special offers to tell you about.

Hello, My Name is Death

Our new, poker-based tabletop RPG, Hello, My Name is Death is on sale at an introductory price of $1! Outdo your friends, reap souls, and become the next #OffiialGrimReaper.

Hello, My Name is Death is a poker-based roleplaying game that uses betting for souls to influence the ultimate demise of hapless humans. Collect souls, outdo your peers, and become the next official Grim Reaper.

In Hello, My Name is Death you play immortal beings interfering in the lives of oblivious mortals. Plan, scheme, interfere in your friend’s machinations, and collaboratively create truly bizarre circumstances leading to the spectacular death of your selected victim.

What’s Inside:

  1. A device-friendly PDF
  2. A PDF for zine printing on white paper
  3. A PDF for zine printing on colored paper
  4. A printable PDF counter sheet

You can find Hello, My Name is Death on Drive Thru RPG. Get it while our introductory offer lasts.

Aurora’s Spring Catalogue is Here!

Can you feel it in the air? The crispness? The energy? The bounce in your step? It’s spring in Faerûn, and that means it’s time for another of our great sales, featuring all the things you need for the season of rebirth.

That’s right, Aurora’s Whole Realms Spring Catalogue is here!

Aurora's Whole Realms Spring Catalogue

Get ready for the changing of the seasons in Faerûn with 20% off this title if you buy it before the end of the weekend.

Manual of Masks — On Sale!

The Manual of Masks is on sale until the end of the weekend too. Get it for a neat $1!

The book includes mask-related class options, magical items, and more for your Dungeons & Dragons game.

Until next time,
Be the Hero


How to Pick Colours for Mini Painting — MM 36

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week we’ll talk about how to pick colours for mini painting with colour theory.

Mini Monday Logo

Pick colours for your mini painting projects thoughtfully, because it’ll give you a better end result, and, like painting, it’s a skill you can improve on. Build some understanding of the theory, then use that to inform your choices and achieve the results you’re looking for.

Colour Theory

Colour theory might seem like a deep rabbit hole, which may seem intimidating, but I highly recommend you dive in. Colour theory opens up the language of colour, an understanding of how colours work together, and an understanding of the emotional responses that colours can create.

Here’s a quick look:

The colour wheel below shows the primary colours (red, blue, and yellow) and the secondary colours (orange, purple, and green). You can make the secondary colours by mixing the two primary colours nearest to the secondary colour you want to make (and that’ll cost GW some sales).

How to pick colors for your mini painting.

Analogous colours sit side-by-side on the colour wheel. They give you a simple range of colours for creating rich monochromatic (single colour) colour schemes.

Complementary colours sit opposite each other on the colour wheel, but still work well when paired together. As you can see, there’s more to the “red wunz go fasta” thing when painting Orks.

This is just scratching the surface of colour theory, and I encourage you to seek out more information.

3 Tips to Using Colour Theory

Like any theory, you need to put colour theory into practice to get a real understanding of it and make it stick. Here are three ways to help yourself implement colour theory in your miniature painting.

Limited Your Colour Scheme

I painted the mini below with two reds, two browns, black, white (mixed to make grey), and metallic paint. It is a simple mini, but restricting your range of colours forces you to get more creative. Using analogous colours for this type of painting will also give you a base colour, shading colour, and a highlight that compliments each other.

How to pick colors for your mini painting

Another way to think of it is to drop a primary colour or two. Forbid yourself from using it, and see how your colour scheme becomes much tighter.

Clash Your Colours with Purpose

If colours are not analogous or complimentary, then there’s no colour harmony; they are contrasting colours. That doesn’t mean you can’t use purple and green together, you just have to know why you’re pairing them. Think of the green Hulk with his purple shorts, or Superman with his red and blue spandex, they stand out. And sometimes standing out is exactly what you want.

A World in Black and White

Of course, real life is full of colour, but to really understand and successfully pick colours for your minis you could do worse than follow Frank Miller’s example in Sin City. Frank’s masterpiece is a master class in light and shadow, with pages in black and white and only occasional splashes of colour. You can explore this with nothing more than paper and a black pen.

As an example, here’s the cover of The Grimdark Pamphlet, which I thought was a good colour choice for a book of game options that challenges the often black and white world of most adventurers, where the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. Or was it that I didn’t want colour so I could push the idea of the colourless, grim aesthetic most associated with grimdark settings?

Grimdark Pamphlet Cover

Now, I’m not saying you need to paint a mini only black and white, but there are plenty of great paint schemes that focus on black and white, such as drow with their white hair and black armour, the Black Templars, the Blood Angels Death Company, and Goff Orks. Notice how these schemes often use a third colour to accentuate items such as weapons.

You can take this idea further to explore light, as Miniac did in his Color is for CHUMPS video. Check it out and tell him I sent you.

 

Happy New Year from Rising Phoenix Games

Happy New Year from all of us here at Rising Phoenix Games. We hope 2021 is a fantastic year for you and your loved ones.

New Year's Message from Rising Phoenix Games

Keep safe and have an awesome 2021.

We’ll be back from the 11th, so see you then.

Don’t forget that our solo sale is still going on at Drive Thru RPG until the 11th too, and that you can find last month’s RPG Blog Carnival roundup, right here.



When the Bad Guys Win – Blog Carnival Roundup

This December, at the end of a year that’ll stand in infamy among years, we looked at “When the Bad Guys Win“. Here’s a roundup of all the articles submitted as part of the carnival, and what a carnival it was!

Image credit: Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

When the Bad Guys Win

Tom Homer of Plastic Polyhedra — the hosts of January 2021’s RPG Blog Carnival — asked (When) is it okay to TPK? He looks at some of the pitfalls of common solutions for rescuing a campaign from a TPK and suggests that TPKs might be unavoidable, but can have negative consequences. Understanding this is an important part of being a great GM.

I want to build stories around the PCs, so what happens if all of those PCs suddenly die?
— Tom of Plastic Polyhedra

Steve Rakner of Roll 4 Network wrote about creating the ultimate boss battle. Steve brings more ways to up the ante in a boss fight, all of which have little to do with power levels or adding buckets of HP to the boss. Follow his advice and your players are sure to remember the Big Bads of your table for years to come.

Gonz at Codex Anathema wrote about The Darkest Hour — how to deal with a Total Party Kill (TPK). There’s life for your campaign after death, and Gonz reveals how you can go from a TPK to a memorable campaign that builds on the legacy of characters that have come before.

Image credit: Yuri_b

Tony Bro001 at Roleplay-Geek posted about the bad guys winning, and looks at it in terms of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. He also looked at a number of well-known movies and stories to highlight the importance of beating down the heroes, and how an NPC can be a useful proxy for the PCs.

Timothy S. Brannan of The Other Side made Skylla, a 7th level witch for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Pathfinder 1e fans will find a link to her stats for that version of the game, in the post.

Here, at Rising Phoenix Games, I talked about upping the stakes for memorable encounters in When the Bad Guys Beat Christmas. Similar to Steve, we looked at ways you can put the pressure on the player characters to create encounters that they’re invested in.

And that, as they say, is a wrap!

Thank you to everyone who took part, as well as to Scot Newbury of Of Dice and Dragons, who herds cats to keep the RPG Blog Carnival alive and growing. If you’re an RPG blogger, do consider joining us on our adventures.

Rising Phoenix Games is 10!

The last day of the year marks the anniversary of the founding of Rising Phoenix Games. We’re looking forward to bringing you more exciting games in 2021!

Happy 10th Birthday Rising Phoenix

Have a Happy New Year and stay safe everyone!


When the Bad Guys Beat Christmas

“When the Bad Guys Win” is our RPG Blog Carnival theme for the month. Be sure to check out all the other posts, and the month’s summary at the end of the year.

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the tower
Not a hero was stirring
They’d been sapped of their power
Knocked out cold on the stair
Beaten by goblins
And left sucking for air

Image credit: Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Up the Stakes!

What a great mantra for adding spice to a game (or story). If things are getting stale or boring, add conflict. Add danger. Add risk. This simple rule keeps fresh blood pumping through your story. It keeps players (or readers) invested.

So how do you add conflict to an evening’s adventure? Add more encounters?

Well, sort of. Encounters, by themselves, add only short-lived conflict and some risk.

We’ve all defeated a random monster in a dungeon and then forgotten about it. To make an encounter work, it has to connect to the narrative. To make it sing, the encounter needs high stakes. It needs real risk.

And I’m not talking about the chance of a TPK. Total Party Kills are not fun. The risk that they might occur is a powerful motivator, but let’s, for the moment, assume the player characters are invincible or, at the very least, we don’t want them to die.

How’s this idea?:

The heroes enter a dungeon. As far as the players know, this is a randomly generated map. They’re level one, and they encounter some goblins. Heck, the party might even just have come from the tavern, where they all met for the first time. It’s all very vanilla.

But things are about to get serious.

They manage to drive off the goblins, but not before one of the green skins shouts a curse.

“Death to the humans!” It declares, before taking a crossbow bolt to the chest. Other goblins take up the chant, and some of these manage to escape.

When the party leave the dungeon, they find their village, including the once-cozy tavern, burned to the ground. Corpses litter the streets. Worse still is the number of missing people. There are signs that goblins have rampaged through the village, and they’ve left a corpse riddled with their black-shafted arrows hanging over the village well. A clear sign that this was an act of revenge.

But there are survivors, and they lay the blame for this squarely on the party.

If the party didn’t care about the village before, then standing on the sidelines is no longer an option. They must leave or take up the villager’s cause.

The goblins have won this fight. Now they’re a significant enemy, and the choices the party will have to make do matter.

Up the stakes!

Santa’s Solo Sale is Here!

Until the 11th of January, 2021, get 30% off any of our solo RPG titles.

Merry Christmas!