Y is for Yugoloth #AtoZChallenge

Nycaloth and Mezzaloth by Wayne Reynolds

Nycaloth and Mezzaloth by Wayne Reynolds

The yugoloth is a category of monster, more specifically, a type of demon, that appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons adventure module by Wolfgang Baur and Gwendolyn Kestrel, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits. I ran this game (or was gamemaster, if you’re not familiar with gaming terminology) for my group a few years ago.

But that’s not really the point of this post. I know some of you following my A to Z posts about gaming don’t know a lot about roleplaying games, so I thought I’d explain a little about monsters. After all, one of the main points of gaming is to “kill monsters and take their stuff.” What are these monsters and why do we kill them?

“Monster” is a generic term for any opponent faced by the player characters. A monster could be a human bandit armed with a spiked club, or a big ugly stone giant ready to hurl rocks down on the unsuspecting adventurers. Monsters come singly or in groups, depending on the size of the adventuring party or the whims of the gamemaster. Some monsters even have magical powers that make them challenging for the adventurers to defeat (and for the gamemaster to play the part of).

And why kill them? 1) Because monsters have treasure. Sometimes it makes no sense (where would a giant frog carry 20 gold pieces? Yeah, yeah, he swallowed them, whatever), but each description of the monster in whatever game system you’re using (particularly Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder) includes how much treasure the monster carries. Player characters divide up the money, jewels, weaponry and other treasure to buy better armor and weaponry, pay off debts or finance castles.

2) Because monsters give you experience points. I talked about that in X is for XP.

I hope this has helped shed a little light on the subject of monsters. We have one more letter to go! Come back for that!

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X is for XP #AtoZChallenge

+rpg_think_of_the_experience_points_teddy_bear40672854Of course X stands for XP. That’s a little bit of cheating, since it’s really “experience points.” Experience points are the method in Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons (and other games, I’m sure) for increasing in skills and abilities. We get points for killing monsters, completing quests, and various “story awards,” depending on the gamemaster.

As players, we certainly don’t want our characters to remain static (just like in real life). As we adventure, fighting monsters, taking their stuff and negotiating with non-player characters, we learn and grow. I think most roleplaying games have some method for advancement.

If you’re interested in the origins of experience points, I found a useful video on who invented them. And more than you ever wanted to know about them can be found in this thread on Role-playing Games Stack Exchange. Another thread at RPG Stack Exchange refutes what is said in the video, saying that Chainmail had no XP system, that it began with the D&D “white box.”

Wherever it came from, experience points provide a way for the gamemaster to focus players’ attention on a particular quest, and allow characters to improve their skills so they can fight meaner and more über bad guys.

Do you feel you’ve gained a level from reading this post? Share in the comments below!

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P is for Paraphernalia (AKA Stuff!) #atozchallenge

All you really need to play a roleplaying game is one copy of the rulebook, paper, pencils (Ticonderogas, please!) and the requisite dice. But it’s so much more fun to have additional stuff.

You’ve already seen a glimpse of my dice collection and the dice bag I use to hold them in D is for Dice, and a few painted miniature figures in M is for Minis. What’s left?

D&D tiles

D&D tiles

Knowing where your character is in proximity to the bad guys is important, so map tiles come in handy. Wizards of the Coast, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, makes themed sets of map tiles out of thick laminated cardboard.

D&D tiles with accessory tiles

D&D tiles with accessory tiles

Paizo Publishing carries a line of Game Mastery tiles, easily affordable in thinner card stock. If you want to get really fancy, Dwarven Forge makes beautiful cast resin dungeon walls, floors, water features and accessory pieces of scenery, such as doors.

Dungeons & Dragons game in progress. Miniature...

Dungeons & Dragons game in progress. Miniatures from Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game and others on Master Maze scenery by Dwarven Forge. Around the dungeon can be seen many multi-sided dice, a character sheet (bottom left) and a D&D manual (top right). Note that the circular template at the bottom is not from Dungeons & Dragons, but rather is from Warhammer 40,000. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucite platforms and columns, called Combat Tier, are useful if you have creatures who can fly, or the need for characters to climb into the heights. They are marked with the typical one-inch-equals-five-feet grid.

Combat Tier platforms

Combat Tier platforms

Last but not least is scenery. I had great fun constructing this tavern for our Leviathan campaign, using some of the same materials for model railroad scenery.

Heart o' the Dog Tavern, made by the author

Heart o' the Dog Tavern, made by the author

Another view of the Heart o' the Dog Tavern, being visited by Rafael Ceurdepyr and Rashmali

Another view of the Heart o' the Dog Tavern, being visited by Rafael Ceurdepyr and Rashmali

What have I left out? What paraphernalia do you like to use in gaming? Comment below!

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O is for [Davin] Orccleaver #atozchallenge

The keep of Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, Corn...

The keep of Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, Cornwall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The party is enjoying the famous bazaar on the outskirts of the city of Keldath, a day’s journey from Stoneshadow, the village where Grayl lived as a boy after the death of his mother.  The crowds are heavy today, and suddenly they are jostled as a beautiful young woman with black hair shoves past them.  A dwarf—a man with braided beard and scarred face and arm–presses through the crowd after her, calling anxiously for her to stop.  She climbs atop the town crier’s stand, raising her hands above her head.

Suddenly, the crowd shrinks back from the figures appearing abruptly before the stand.  In the vision, a massively built warrior fights for his life against an onslaught of dozens of ogres that seem but the vanguard of a wave of hundreds of them.  Off to one side, gloating, is a regally dressed man bearing a shield on which is affixed the crest of the House of Cernawyn.  Even at this distance, you can feel a flicker of horror that someone from the line of the present ruling House would betray such a valiant warrior.  The feeling comes from outside you, as if generated as part of the vision.

The crowd nearest the stand is obviously more affected than you, appalled and terrified by what they see, and they storm the crier’s stand.  The dwarf is shoved backward into the party by the city guards, who storm the stage and Jon recognizes him as Davin Orccleaver.  The vision stops abruptly as two guards grab the woman while others stave off the mob.  Davin demands to know where the guards are taking her.  She seems to be unconscious at this point.  They say, “We’re taking her to the administration building.  That vision or whatever she was projecting was treasonous.  The governor needs to know about this.”

At this moment, the dwarf spies Jon and recognition dawns.  “Help me, Jon,” he says.  “I’m Mistress Palethorpe’s bodyguard and I can’t let anything happen to her or her uncle might turn me into a … a halfling or something.  I don’t think I can handle all of the guards alone.  The governor’s paranoid about anything that can remotely be construed as treasonous.  He’ll hang her without a trial.”

And thus began the first adventure of our gaming group. I called it the Sachov Saga. It was far too complicated (the adventures I create tend to be, but I’m getting better), but it was the first time two members of the group had played Dungeons and Dragons, and we had a lot of fun. It was also the first time they met each other. They soon began dating, fell in love, got married and have two beautiful daughters who know what you do with monsters: Kill them and take their stuff. We’ve all (including my husband) been through a lot together, and they’re my best friends.

And to think it all started with a roll of the dice and a few character sheets.

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J is for Just Do It! #AtoZChallenge

I’m sure many other people chose “Just do it!” as their blog subject for the day, but probably none of them mean it in the context of gaming.

Yes, you can game and hold a baby at the same time!

Yes, you can game and hold a baby at the same time!

Before I proceed, though, I have a confession. I was really stuck on a topic for “J,” so I crowd-sourced. My brother Rick helpfully contributed with, “J is for June–the month Roger Dungeon and Darryl (not that one) Dragon sat down in their basement one fateful rainy Saturday and invented their famous fantasy game.” This revelation would come as a surprise to Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, but I felt it deserved sharing. Thanks, bro!

Scott gave me the title for this post. It’s my plea for you to try out gaming just once. I’ve greatly enjoyed hearing from those of you stopping by for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and so many of you say that you’ve never gamed (in the sense I’m talking about). So why would you take it up now? Here’s some reasons:

  1. It’s a great way to relax with friends. (If your gaming group doesn’t break out in laughter frequently, you probably need new friends.)
  2. If you’re a frustrated, wanna-be or closet actor, roleplaying is a fun way to submerge yourself into the part of another character. For an hour or two once a week, you can be the hot Asian chick wielding dual katanas or the dour yet fierce dwarf whose axe is the downfall of many a bandit or the dashing singer who doesn’t need a weapon to intimidate or charm her opponents.
  3. Through gaming you can blow off steam in a socially acceptable way, especially after a tough week at work.
  4. You can find an outlet for your creativity. Paint miniatures (more about that on M is for Minis), write an intricate backstory, draw a picture of your character, knit a scarf just like your character would wear.

I’m sure I’ve left out some reasons. If you game or have played in the past, why do you enjoy it? Comment below!

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