Tag Archives: 13th age

No idea what i'm doing

What My Impostor Syndrome Feels Like

I, like many others, suffer from Impostor Syndrome – where in some facet of my life, I cannot internalize my accomplishments (for me it’s playing table top RPGs which is one of the silliest things to have panic attacks about). There is something that is always making me afraid that someone will look at me and realize that I am a huge fraud, and that I have no idea what i’m doing. Or that maybe I’m not as good as the other people at the table, or that because I’m so much worse than them, I’ll be detracting from their fun. NONE OF IT IS TRUE. But no matter how many times I play, I have this very palpable fear.

There are lots of pages dedicated to the topic, but after last week’s podcast where Nick and Jon pretty much jumped off the diving board to try and swim in my brain and figure it out, I thought I’d share what this fear actually feels like for me. (And writing this isn’t intimidating at alllllll….. ha ha hahahahahaha ha ha….)

First of all, how incredibly ridiculous that I’m terrified about playing a magical elf wizard and roll some dice? My shame about this fear is almost as bad as the panic I have leading up to a game. For years my friends ran table top games every weekend, and despite my love of playing, I didn’t jump in. These were people who had been playing together for a while now, and because I had far less experience with them and wasn’t as close of friends with them – I’d totally bring that game to a screeching halt. My brain marches right on past how I’ve known these people just as long as they’ve known each other and they would be at my house for all sorts of hangouts and I got along wonderfully with them all. Or that some of them actually had less experience than me at RPGs, just more recent experience. Didn’t matter. I stopped myself from jumping in the fun in the first place.

When the opportunity came for me to start playing with a small portion of the group, it took some monumental convincing from Jon for me to join them at the table. I only signed up because we were gaming at the office that I was working in so I’d already be there; it was a new system that no player at the table had experienced and the DM had never run before so we were all new; it was a small group of 4 total. While I took comfort that none of us knew what we were doing, I held back from asking the zillion questions I had because obviously they were dumb, everyone already knew that stuff, and I’d just be wasting their time if I asked or would look so foolish for something that HAD to be on my character sheet. Never mind that the DM asked at every turn if there were questions, or that the others at the table asked the same sort of questions that I had so we clearly we were all at the same place – my brain was having none of that understanding. But, I still had fun. I enjoyed the playing even with all my fears, so I kept doing so.

I moved into a larger group playing 13th age – where we played together for well over a year with my feeling that I was “doing RP wrong”. Again, no one at the table had played this game before, the DM was new (though very enthusiastic about it) – but I was terrified. Every. Single. Week. Two players would hatch schemes together and try elaborate stunts with their powers. One player would go so far for an extra bonus, craft a rhyming song and sing it for the whole room (and sometimes those in the hallway) to hear, much to our delight and amusement (Song Master – When you attempt to maintain a bardic song, if you describe it in a fashion that entertains the GM, or at least a couple of the players, you get a bonus of +1 to +3 to maintain the song). I on the other hand, no matter how many times I had rolled the same power, I had to triple count my bonuses, armor, stats, all to make sure my math was correct. I was terrified that I’d do something wrong in front of these people that I felt unsure of every move I made, no matter how many previous times I had made them. Again, I still had fun. I enjoyed the playing even with all my fears- so I kept doing so.

And this next part is not me calling out my friends, because this is entirely my brain getting in the way. A few days before I was to play a one shot Dungeon World campaign with some friends, two of them tweeted at me this:

It’s not even bad, but to me two of my friends were talking about me playing this game that we all did together, and laughing about how I played. It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me, and I cried. (I’ll be honest, I’m crying just writing this.) It felt like every fear I ever had was validated. They weren’t saying I played it wrong, they weren’t saying that I removed their fun – they pointed out a trope, but it didn’t matter.

Three days after that, it was our Dungeon World one shot, and up to about 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave for game, I was plotting any excuse imaginable to not go. I got incredibly drunk the night before, because I was anxious about my game the next day. I put on my big girl panties and I went. I made sure to duck out while people were selecting their characters, so I wouldn’t pick something someone else wanted and then play it wrong and ruin their fun, and I made sure to play something that was ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than I had before, because obviously I was doing it wrong (per the tweet above).

And I had fun! I was still scared, I didn’t confront my friends (because I know my fears are my problem and not something I wanted to weigh them all down with), and we all thought it was a great game and fun together.

There isn’t really a point to this post – other than for my friends and others to understand what it feels like to have that sudden, crippling, and inescapable fear, about anything! I do enjoy playing tabletop RPGs with my friends. I like playing something new, and I like contributing even if I don’t sing a song at the table. I’m not doing it wrong, I’m not taking away the fun, no matter how much my brain tells me I am at the time. After discussing with Jon, he summed it up like this: “…(S)omething is blocking all that data you’ve gathered these last 2.5 years about you understanding and executing what’s needed to play games with your friends… Confidence is being undermined by something because literally every experience you’ve had with gaming you’ve done it right. LOL. I’VE BEEN THERE FOR ALL OF THEM MEGAN. 100%. THIS GUY ACTUALLY HAS THE SAME DATA.

So I end this post with the following sentiment: If you’re scared of gaming and you know your fears are invalid – don’t let it stop you. The fun is worth it. If you’re scared of something else in your life, please keep trying. I’m lucky enough that my fear is about games with friends, but I’m always happy to have made the effort to show up and push past my fears. There are ups and downs, but it has always been worth it.

I’d love to hear from anyone with similar experiences, or any suggestions!

Dorkadia Podcast title

Episode 67 – Baking a Cake with Handguns

This week we talk about a number of different things including Hannah’s three legged kitten, why Nick thinks Interstellar sucked, the Star Wars trailer, and moral decisions by players in tabletop games. Is it a lot to cover in an hour? Perhaps, but that’s never stopped us before. Besides, that would imply that we put any planning into these things at all. So have a listen to the discussion and head down to the show notes for links to some of the Star Wars things we talk about. Continue reading

Icon Relationship Feature

13A Hack: Player Driven Relationship Rolls

The 13th Age core book details three main uses for Icon relationship dice: rolling at the start of every session for improvisational guides, rolling for dramatic events, and rolling for discovery and surprise when the players go off the prepped course. The latter two are brilliant; they successfully allow players to see how their character’s personal relationships shape the story when they turn an important and perhaps unplanned page in their adventure. But I’ve always felt that the improvisational use has needed fleshing out and clarification.

In practice, when the players roll their Icon relationship dice at the beginning of the session they’re not just rolling for group-wide improv inspiration, they’re actually rolling for unique and personally tailored resources. The book makes it clear that the players, not just the GM, can use these relationship rolls to gain secrets, magic items, narrate flashbacks, and more. It’s an exciting prospect that’s bursting with potential but the rules are unclear how these powers are shared, how they interact with mechanically concrete things like combat and skill checks, and what guidelines there are for building the narrative together.

This player driven relationship roll rules hack is designed to address this ambiguity but keep the spirit of this the relationship rolls intact. These clarifications aren’t limiting player or GM options, they’re giving the players a powerful tool to leave their mark in a session’s story and to use those Icon relationships to their fullest. Let’s flesh out those start of session relationships rolls so they can be the player driven, narrative sharing, compelling resource that they should be!

What You’ll Need

Icon Relatoinship CardYou will need a small number of two different kinds of tokens. Small glass tokens of two different colors will do, differently colored poker chips, or two different kinds of coins. One type of token will represent “unambiguous tokens”, or a 6 on the Icon relationship roll. The other type will represent “complicated tokens”, or a 5 on the Icon relationship roll.

You should also print out an Icon Relationship card for each of the individual relationships each PC has. You may want to slide them into protective sleeves designed for collectable cards after filling them out.

Icon Relationship Cards PDF (with background)

Icon Relationship Cards PDF (without background)

Rolling Icon Relationship Dice

When the characters are created (or when this hack is introduced into an ongoing game) each of the players will fill out a card for each their individual relationships. They need to fill in the name of the Icon and circle the type of relationship.

At the start of each session all of the player will roll their Icon relationships dice just like in the core rules. Then:

  • For every 6 rolled place an unambiguous token on the respective card.
  • For every 5 rolled place a complicated token on the respective card.

Generosity the wizard fills in two cards, one for her 2 point positive relationship with the Archmage and one for her 1 point conflicted relationship with the Lich King. At the beginning of a session she rolls a 5 and a 6 for the Archmage and a 3 for the Lich King. She puts one unambiguous token (represented by dimes in her group) and one complicated token (a penny) on her Archmage card. No tokens are placed on the Lich King’s card.
Icon Relationship Example 1

Spending Tokens

At any time a player can spend a token from one of their Icon Relationship cards to describe how their personal relationship with their Icon is providing them a benefit. The player can choose from one of the following benefits:

  • Reroll any d20 the player just rolled, keeping the result they like the most.
  • Add a +5 bonus to any d20 the player just rolled.
  • The player can introduce a new story element of their design that allows the party to attempt to solve a problem in a creative way.

If the player spends an unambiguous token the benefit is gained without trouble. If the player spends a complicated token then the GM will introduce a twist either right after they gain the benefit or later on in the story.

Generosity’s party has been ambushed by medusa scouts! She was struck by a petrifying gaze earlier in the fight and just rolled a 3 on her fatal last gasp save. Generosity spends a token from her Archmage card, recalling how she witnessed a wizard from Horizon stave off petrification from a cockatrice bite by redirecting arcane energies to the still-alive flesh until he could be saved, which she immediately tries to emulate. She crosses her fingers and rerolls the last gasp save.

The party finds themselves unable to avoid a confrontation with the massive stone golem guarding the jungle temple. As it rumbles to life, Generosity levels her staff and casts lightning bolt. Her player rolls a total attack roll of 16, just under the golem’s PD. Not wanting to waste her daily spell she spends a token from her Archmage card to narrate how her arcane sight allows her to locate the bubbling arcane core within the stone golem’s chest. That core would be vulnerable to a lightning bolt, if it’s hit just right. Spending a token Generosity gets a +5 bonus to the attack roll, making it hit!

Followed by agents of the Lich King, Generosity and her party are looking to find quick and discrete transport to the peak of Starport hundreds of miles away. Generosity spends a token from her Archmage relationship to find someone that can teleport them the entire distance.
Generosity: I want to find a wizard that can teleport us directly to Starport so we can’t be followed.
GM: I didn’t even know that was possible! Who knows how to teleport, and why isn’t teleportation happening all the time in the Dragon Empire already?
Generosity: Probably an old contact from the wizarding college. Also, teleportation is unpredictable and dangerous and takes a top notch wizard to control.
GM: Awesome. Why would a top notch wizard do this for you? Sounds like a major service you may have to do a favor for.
Genersity: Oh no, he’s not top notch. He was kicked out of the college for doing strange experiments with time and space. But I believe he can get us there.
GM: Sounds great. You find your contact and he’s eager to finally be able to do an experiment with living subjects. Tell me where you find him and I’ll take it from here.

Rerolling and Adding a +5 Bonus

Players can choose to reroll or add a +5 bonus to any single d20 just rolled. That includes attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws, death saving throws, disengage checks, recharge rolls, etc. Players can’t combine the reroll and the +5 bonus, nor reroll more than once or give multiple stacking +5 bonuses. See “Spending Multiple Tokens at a Time” below.

Introduce a New Story Element

Easily the most exciting option, a player can spend a token to conjure up a story element to take the plot in a new direction. When a player spends a token in this way they’re drawing upon their character’s personal relationship with an Icon and the Icon’s domain to shape the world in a meaningful way. The player needs to clearly state what they want out of this new story element as they spend their token. Then they need to narrate the new story element, bringing it to life for themselves and the rest of the group. The GM should ask questions to get a better feel for the new story element and how to weave it into world. Questions of how, why, and who should flesh out new element and place it within the larger picture of the campaign. (How does this new story element fit in with what the party knows about the world? What the Dragon Empire knows? What the other Icons know?) Table talk is encouraged, other players should jump in with their own questions and even include their own player characters with the narrating player’s permission. By the end of the questioning, the party should be eager to draw on this new story element and the GM should be thinking of all the new challenges that couldn’t have been created until the moment that story element came into existence.

When a token is spent the authority shifts from the GM to the player, if only for a short time. Normally, the players are asking the questions and the GM is providing the answers. When a new story element is being conjured by a player, the player is providing the answers instead. Imagine that the GM has passed the mic to the player for a bit and is now joining the audience. Work together as a group to make sure that new story elements are a beginning, not an end. Even if a new story element gets the player what they want, they should still guide the story in a new player-born direction that is exciting and full of adventure.

What is a new story element? It could be an old contact that owes you one, a secret passage into the fortress, a nursery rhyme with a clue for fighting the beholder, a damning vice to leverage against the Imperial Governor, a constellation whose starlight reveals the ancient path, a loyal village dog that distracts the goblins for just long enough for the rogue to try to sneak away.

Viability and Transparency

In the spirit of 13th Age’s other limited resources, the GM needs to let the players spend a token to reroll a d20 after it’s known that the original roll would have failed. The GM also needs also be honest as to whether or not a +5 bonus would make the difference between success and failure. These tokens are there to allow players to succeed in the face of unlikely odds and bad luck, not to dupe them into spending a resource when it wouldn’t matter.

Spending Multiple Tokens at a Time

Typically, a player shouldn’t be able to spend more than one token on a single check, as spending a token requires at least a short narration of how the Icon relationship grants you that specific bonus. (Not “grants as many bonuses as I need right now until I succeed”.) Players can’t spend multiple tokens to get the +5 bonus more than once on a single check, nor reroll a check more than once, nor combine the reroll with the +5 bonus. Players should also technically not be able to spend more than one token to introduce more than one story element at a time, but story elements should grow and be expanded upon generously as needed.

Unused Tokens

Unused tokens are lost at the end of each session if they are not used.

Are the Rolls Still Improv Inspiration?

Absolutely! This system does not prevent GMs from using the beginning of session relationship roll to shape the session. The player driven mechanics are simply laid on top of that improv inspiration, GMs are free to give out information, magic items, and introduce contacts and threats based on the rolls as they please. If desired, GMs can still fill in a worksheet like the one found on page 180 in the core book as a guide to fill the session with Icon-specific adventure.

Complicated Token Twists

When a complicated token is spent by a player the GM needs to introduce a twist either right away, if something immediate makes sense, or later on in the adventure. Twists shouldn’t negate the bonus the players just received, nor should they get them into trouble that’s wildly worse. This rules out giving a condition (like dazed) to a player that just rerolled an attack roll, it’s just not fun.

Twists will likely depend more on the fiction than the mechanical benefit gained by the player, and the GM should ask questions (similar to introducing a new story element) to inspire a twist if needed. It’s also not out of bounds for the GM to ask “how does the Crusader’s commander know you, and why is that a very bad thing?” If the token spending player has an idea for a twist the GM should run with it! Ideally, the twist should directly spring from the Icon and player involved but it’s not a requirement; GMs shouldn’t be afraid to occasionally mix things up in a truly surprising way or introduce a straightforward complication like “yes, even more goblins”.

Here are a few options for twist inspiration:

  • Change the environment in a way that will cause trouble.
  • Take a fictional element of their narration and create unforeseen trouble.
  • Reveal an unwelcome past or relationship.
  • Introduce or foreshadow a threat that now is paying attention to the party.
  • Create an obligation or demand from the Icon’s organization with consequences. (Could be an immediate demand or a demand left for a future golden opportunity.)
  • Cause trouble for the party’s friends, contacts, and favorite settlements.

Let’s imagine that Generosity spent a complicated token to introduce the wizard that could work some risky teleportation magic to get the party to Starport. The GM thinks for a moment, wondering if she wants to pocket the twist until later, but she has a good idea for immediate action. The party is teleported to Starport without their enemies knowing of the journey, because that’s what the player stated she wanted out of the token. However, the GM describes that the party finds themselves teleported to a location within Starport, in glassy ice tunnels burrowed into the mountain’s glaciers. The echos of chittering rhemoraz can be heard in the darkness. This is an example of a fictional element being a source of unforeseen trouble. The new story element is successful and has moved the story forward in a fun player narrated way, and the GM adds in a twist that doesn’t undo or contradict what the player wanted, demands immediate attention, and kicks off a new adventure!

Perhaps Generosity spent a complicated token to add +5 to her attack roll against that that temple guardian stone golem, targeting the bubbling arcane core within its chest. The lightning bolt hits, but the arcane core within the golem magnifies the magic wildly! Unnaturally swift storm clouds start to build in the sky above the fight. This effect shouldn’t immediately impact the fight mechanically but the rain that starts after the encounter will certainly impact the dungeon crawl in the jungle temple. This definitely changes the environment in a way that will cause trouble: swift moving waters pulling PCs towards pit traps, damp soil pushing giant dire beetles up to roam, and jungle beasts on edge thanks to rumbling thunder will shape the rest of the adventure.

Interacting with Class Abilities

Most of the abilities that adjust Icon relationships in the core book will play extraordinarily well with this new system. When in doubt, rerolled dice should give the opportunity to gain tokens mid-session (see the paladin’s Way of Evil Bastards talent) and new points of relationship interact normally with the beginning of session rolls (see the bard’s Balladeer and the rogue’s Smooth Talk talents).

Created and Shared Under the 13th Age Community Use Policy

This rules hack uses trademarks and/or copyrights owned by Fire Opal Media, which are used under the Fire Opal Media, 13th Age Community Use Policy. We are expressly prohibited from charging you to use or access this content. This rules hack is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Fire Opal Media. For more information about Fire Opal Media’s 13th Age Community Use Policy, please visit www.fireopalmedia.com/communityuse. For more information about Fire Opal Media and 13th Age products, please visit www.fireopalmedia.com and www.pelgranepress.com.

White Dragon by Sandara

13th Age Contest: The White and the Wizard King

I only recently discovered the Iconic Podcast, a show dedicated to my favorite edition of D&D: 13th Age. Not only do they interview the big players in the 13th Age scene including the game’s co-creator Rob Heinsoo, but it’s refreshing to hear a gaming podcast really drill down into the mechanics of a particular game in addition to bantering. Thankfully I found the podcast in time to enter their first writing contest!

There are two figures in the 13th Age core book that are only hinted at: the evil Wizard King that ruled the world before the setting’s sprawling Dragon Empire did, and the White dragon who was killed by said Wizard King for reasons unknown. The Iconic Podcast uses the White as their mascot, so they asked writers to offer their perspective on who exactly the White was and what showdown occurred.

I wanted to share my entry for the contest, which I’m very happy with largely due to Hannah hitting my fiction writing gears with a hammer hard enough to shake some of the rust off. I wanted to produce something that wasn’t just a character piece on the White, but instead was something that a GM could read and be full of and locations for their own game. It must have worked, because I manged to sneak away with second place! You can see the other entries here at the Iconic Podcast’s site.

13th Age Contest Entry: The White and the Wizard King

The oldest records we have here in Horizon suggest that this world has always been full of change and strife, even before the Ages started. The Wizard King built roads and raised forts against the monstrous wilderness, all before the Dragon Empire’s first Seal. But what could have been a glorious beginning was doomed to be a painful misstep. The Wizard King, history tells, would not be content until he controlled everything.

The Wizard King established absolute power over his growing domain through an alliance of lawful and evil Icons. Our shelves are full of tales of arcane police exacting cruel punishments for crimes not yet committed, chimeras of humanoid and beast charring those that would not bend their knee, and even idle armies of sleepless undead. The Icons that resisted the rule of the Wizard King’s dark empire fought bravely but they founds themselves bested. With broken bodies and spirits they fled to the only lands not yet controlled by their enemy’s forces. It didn’t have a name then, but we have come to call it the Howling North.

The White desired nothing but distance. Glacially large and ponderous, the white dragons were happy to be lone philosophers charting the paths of the stars while hearing the ice floes sing. However, the pleas of the fleeing Icons broke the White’s quiet contemplation. The Great Gold Wyrm cautioned the White! He said this was a foe too strong for even a single great dragon to stand against; with the Wizard King’s alliances so too would his enemies need to stand together.

With time, the White would eventually see the wisdom in the Gold’s words. The resistance and the Icons who lead it would need years to recover after their battles against the King, but the White was strong, untested, and ready to lead. Clearly the direct assaults of the past would lead them nowhere against the Wizard King’s aberrant and undead armies. The courage of the Gold and the wisdom of the White had to find another solution.

The dragons’ forces left the Howling North and marched to the Wizard King’s empire, a fact the Gold and White allowed their enemy to discover; baiting him into action. The King crafted great arcane dragon-traps in the path of the army while abominations waited in tunnels to ambush soldiers. Some suppose that the Wizard King saw the White’s defeat as his last final challenge, others are convinced he merely wanted to see if he could turn the White into an undead servant. Either way, the threat of a new Iconic dragon was too much for the Wizard King to ignore.

The trap was sprung as the resistance approached. Men, elves, and dwarves fought valiantly but were dragged away screaming below the ground. The white dragons froze entire legions of unnatural creatures, summoning blizzards and hail, but even they were brought low by the Wizard King’s trickery. With flashes of light and the breaking of runes, living lashes of force leapt from the ground to ensnare them. One by one the dragons were dragged, roaring, to the earth.

Those few soldiers that remained above ground watched as the Wizard King himself approached the bound White. He brought his Focus to eye level with the grounded dragon. As he started an incantation, the White summoned all of her power. She bent the arcane bonds to their limits to make one final snap of her jaws, severing the Wizard King’s arm and swallowing it. The Focus was quickly ground to dust between the her momentous icicle-sharp teeth.

Enraged, the Wizard King brought complete and utter destruction upon the White. He summoned now forgotten syllables that struck beyond the White’s body and into her being. Her existence was erased, the land around them blasted by the force of reality being rewritten. The destruction bled from the White and into her children, cursed to be feeble until the end of Ages. Even the arm that was within the her belly was gone, forcing the Wizard King to fashion one of iron as the Lich King.

Unknown to the Wizard King, while he faced the White’s forces, other Icons of the resistance lead a strike against the his throne of Stormmaker, called “Necropolis” in modern times. The White’s risk, the sacrifice of her life and legacy, was her plan from the beginning.

And that’s where our tale ends, sadly! Though some crude mosaics found to the North of Forge tell of a primordial Orc Lord taking the head of the Wizard King, no record remains of the strike on Stormmaker. All we know for certain is that shortly after the death of the White, the first Draconic Seal of the Dragon Empire was created. We assume that the loss of the Focus was instrumental to the King’s downfall, but we don’t even know what it was. For that matter, who were the Icons that sided with the Wizard King and what malevolent enchantments and promises remain to worry us in this modern Age? It’s a troubling thought.

Oh my, I’m sorry, I have completely went off on a tangent. You asked a simple question about a dragon and I’m afraid you got more than you bargained for. Adventurers are a rare sight in this library and I allowed myself to get excited.

But why were you asking about ancient history again?

Game Hooks

The actions of the White and her climactic bait-and-switch could have immediate application to adventures in the 13th Age. If your campaign involves the Lich King, the complex relationship of unaging dragons, or the ancient histories of the Ages themselves, the White and the Wizard King could be central players.

Losing Focus

The most obvious question is how the Wizard King came to power in the first place. The presupposition that his power was tied to a Focus object allows your game to revolve both around it and those others that would also seek it. What the Focus is, of course, depends on you and your players. Don’t rule anything out, nothing says that the focus has to be an inanimate object.

A Deal with Dragons

The White worked with the Gold to make a plan that would allow a strike at Stormmaker. What other Icons were involved, and are there any other debts that need to be paid? Deals with dragons are magical things that transcend death and time. If your campaign’s primary villain is the Lich King, even an Icon as slippery as the Prince of Shadows could be made an ally if the party could clear some pre-Ages debt he inherited from a predecessor in the process.

The Land Before Time

Injecting a myth like this into your game is begging for your players to question it, plumb its secrets, and create One Unique Things based around it. Threats and player elements that reach back to the time before Ages gives your story an epic scope without changing much about the game’s mechanics. They also gives you carte blanche for creating whatever bad guys you want. The Wizard King had beholder cavalry that are still waiting to be released from the Underworld and now the Lich King’s agents have found them? Why not?

Locations

Evidence of the conflict between the White and the Wizard King lies hidden deep below layers of dirt and history. Those locations that still remain in the world are well hidden, potent, and a complete mystery to most.

The Dragon Graveyard of Moonwreck

If this myth exists in your game, Moonwreck is certainly the site of the battle that spelled the end of both the White and, ultimately, the Wizard King. While the body of the White was destroyed, the bodies of her powerful children remained trapped in the arcane bonds the Wizard King created. Dragged down over time, the skeletons of dragons are scattered all throughout the underworld beneath Moonwreck.

A different flavor of Underworld: The underworld is already a dangerous place where all bets are off. But such a concentration of dragon remains gives you the ability fill the caves beneath Moonwreck with all sorts of arcane surprises. All manner of beasts could be given the gift of draconic magic given enough exposure.

Rumors from the Dragon Empire:

  • The Archmage believes that a scale of an ancient white dragon could be used to make a powerful scrying focus, if his tall tale telling subordinates are to be trusted. A curved scale filled with freezing water reflecting the stars could potentially answer any question. Any.
  • Some say the now-covered tunnels under Moonwreck are filled with ancient combatants and monsters from a forgotten war. Under the right astral conditions the bodies rise and do battle once again. It would be wise to stay out of that part of the Underworld. Unless of course you wanted to ask an ancient general something.
  • I heard gibbering before I could see them, but it was unmistakable: derro in the tunnels under Moonwreck. But they weren’t the normal, crazy, murderous kind. They were working together to mine chunks out of a skull the size of a tavern poking out of a cave wall! I had no idea what they were planning to do with those chunks of bone, but if it was worth derro working together I didn’t want to stick around to find out!

The Howling North

The White’s domain was far from the verdant, temperate lands that her more ambitious brethren lusted after. Frigid glacial planes, killing winds, and natural ice caves extend for miles beyond count. This is nothing like the frozen but populated slopes of the Dragon Empire’s mountains. Now that the White is gone the Howling North consumes the life of all living creatures that choose to stay within its bounds.

A dangerous trek: If you want to put a perilous journey between your players and anything ancient that they need to find, you can’t get much more dangerous than this. Journeys should require preparation and a few good background tests, lest the party show up to their intended destination with a quarter of their normal recoveries!

Rumors from the Dragon Empire:

  • Ancient ruins from an unfathomable alien culture lie beyond the frozen mountains. Not even the White approached these monolithic structures.
  • Everyone knows that sheets of colorful energy can be seen waving in the skies over the Howling North. But no one knows how they interact with ritual magic.
  • For what little is written about the Howling North, a singular ice fortress jutting up from the middle of a glacial plane is a recurring tale. The North is all but lifeless since the Ages began as far as we know, what is the castle’s purpose?

Magic Items

Scales of the White’s Heart (any armor, robe, shirt, or tunic; champion/epic)

Bonus: +2 AC (champion); +3 AC (epic)
Effect: If you have been reduced to 0 hit points at least once during a battle, increase the bonus of this armor by +1 until the end of that battle. (Champion would become +3 AC, epic would become +4 AC.)
Daily: You can use this power as a free action after you’ve rolled a death saving throw that you’re not pleased with. If you do, act as if you had rolled a natural 20 on the death saving throw. (Allowing you to spend a recovery and take your turn normally.)
Quirk: Someone changing your mind is as easy as changing the course of a glacier. That is to say, not very easy at all.

Badass featured image is White Dragon by Sandara, used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Dorkadia Podcast title

Episode 48 – Bulette Radio

Welcome to episode 48 of Bulette Radio The Dorkadia Podcast! (sorry, Hannah) This week we start out with a brief discussion where Charles talks about hating multiplayer content in Watch Dogs and then thankfully move on to talking about tabletop RPGs. Jon turns Megan’s 13th Age character into a boss fight and the whole experience was pretty much awesome. We officially love 13th Age and all of the related material that Pelgrane Press puts out. We even consider renaming our podcast, but it’s not going to happen. Links to things we talk about just below the audio! Continue reading

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Why I was scared to play D&D

Why I was scared to play D&D is an odd title for an article from Dorkadia, I know – It’s a pretty safe assumption all of us are in or planning a campaign at any given point in time. So the thought of being scared to play at the table with a bunch of friends and pretending to be a wizard and making goofy voices seems silly right? NOPE. This isn’t just about the barrier of entry into table top RPG’ing (which is a whole article in itself), but that I was scared about how to actually role play around the table.

I have had some previous experience with D&D; I played a 2nd edition game when I was in high school that was moderately successful. We all had fun, but it didn’t last for super long. After that, my nerd circles were filled with comic books, anime, and video games, and it was a good 15 years before the opportunity came around again to play. I was introduced to Jon Spengler, who wouldn’t shut up about RPG’s for about the first two years I knew him (when he wasn’t trying to mime shooting my cat like a bazooka). He ran a few one shots and started a campaign that I observed a few times, which stopped me in my tracks of feeling like I knew how to play this game.

Before you yell at me – I’m not condemning Jon! What I saw in those games was a DM who whipped in and out of silly voices, and embodied the NPC’s he portrayed. I saw players make fantastical speeches on the fly and pontificate about how to proceed. They in gory detail explained what their fireball looked like, and exactly how their sneak attack damaged the beholder. I immediately felt intimidated by my friends around the table, because I didn’t live inside the head of a character like that. I didn’t think I knew how to role play. Which, you know… feels kind of fundamental when playing a tabletop role playing game, right?

It took me a little while to think about why I was so scared to sit down at the table with these guys, who are all my friends, playing a game we all are prepared to love. How much harder would it have been if I was looking at a table of strangers, only united by the fact that they want to throw some D20’s and compare mental defense scores? I was lucky to be able to put my toes in the water in the shallow end before making a dive – but I want to tell you if you’re scared to play… don’t be.  I took the leap and joined a Mouseguard game Jon was running, mostly bolstered that there were only 3 players (and I was married to one of them), so my embarrassment couldn’t go too far. I had fun! But while I was having fun, I still felt like maybe I was… doing it wrong. Maybe they were ignoring that I didn’t say in a silly voice “Go get the frog!” and instead told everyone at the table “Kahlen directs them to attack the frog” or work-shopped with the other players when we had to make a choice to be cold and angry, how my mouse would get snippy with them as we pressed on down our path. What I was doing at the table was different from the other players, and different from the DM – and it was a scary place to be.

Fast forward a year and I’m still getting comfortable with a gaming group playing 13th age and recording weekly podcasts with my DM, another DM, and my husband who is another player in our game. I made the side comment about playing 13th age on how I didn’t think I was really RP’ing correctly – and I swear there was a record scratch and the music stopped. Both DM’s looked at me like I grew horns on my head and rainbows shot out of my ears. “What do you mean, you’re not RP’ing right?” – Having to admit that I felt like I was making it up while I go, table talking and not using silly voices like everyone else was probably my most embarrassing moment at Dorkadia to date, for anyone curious.

YoureAWizard

This is probably a good approximation of what my face looked like.

What came after was my personal “You’re a wizard Harry!” moment. Just because I don’t chew on scenery all the time doesn’t mean I’m role playing wrong. I’m telling the story of my character, I’m making her actions and intentions known to the players and it’s clear what is different between Megan the player saying something and when D’Cat the evil Drow sorceress is saying something. I’ll never be the bard at the table who has a power of singing a song, where the player actually writes a song in 2 minutes and belts it out to everyone at the table, but i’m still participating – having fun, and shooting all the lightning.

When it came down to it, we were all playing the game in ways that made it fun for us around the table. I LOVE when the bard sings his songs, and when Jon squeaks like a Kobold, it leaves me in stitches. Finding a group of friends willing to spend hours at a time playing imagination games is hard enough. Know that you’re going to have fun, and however it is you want to play, you’re not doing it wrong. I’m now drafting up a new character to play and plan on slinging the D20’s without feeling like a fraud – maybe less vocal than others, but just as ready for fun adventurer at the table.

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Episode 43 – Megan is a Monster

It’s an episode and we say things! What things? Why would you ask that? Are you looking for spoilers? Fine, I shall spoil you with the spoiliest of spoilers about the episode which is to come! Charles, Hannah, Jon, and Megan discuss the recent transformation of Megan’s 13th Age character from power hungry megalomaniac to straight up aberrant monster. At least now she’s a boss. Megan accepts that she has, in fact, been role playing this whole time despite staunchly refusing to believe it. Then we all talk about what it means to role play and how that translates across different tabletop RPGs.

The infamous show notes:

dorkadiapodcastThe Bundle of Holding

The world is a mess and Megan (like Doctor Horrible) just needs to rule it.

Yes, several members of Jon’s RPG group tend to chew the scenery.

Charles was referring to the training sequence of Mystery Men. Also: you should see Mystery Men.

Not many notes, so here are the RPGs we discussed:

13th Age (you should give it a shot)

Dungeons & Dragons (you might have heard of it)

Mouse Guard (Burning Wheel light)

Torchbearer (like Mouse Guard, only less happy)

Finally, some shout-outs:

NPCCast

Cafe Mox

Card Kingdom

As always, click to download the MP3 of this episode here: Episode 43 – Megan is a Monster

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