d&d book

Thoughts on D&D’s Tomb of Annihilation

Full disclosure: My copy of Tomb of Annihilation and the ToA: Dice Set were provided by Wizards of the Coast prior to release for review.

Oh man am I excited about Tomb of Annihilation!

For those who might not know, ToA is D&D’s latest adventure book set in the jungle peninsula of Chult. It takes heavy inspiration from Tomb of Horrors, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Jungles of Chult, and a variety of other D&D adventures of old. Pendleton Ward, the creator of Adventure Time also consulted on it (and it shows!).  

Much of the press coming out about this book focusses on the adventure’s exoticism and its lethality in equal measure; “A death curse lies upon Faerun where characters can’t be brought back from the dead! All clues lead to a colourful dinosaur-filled jungle crawl with deadly traps everywhere! Expect to be killed, over and over again!”

Now that I have the book, have read through it, and have run parts of it, is it worth your time and money?

“I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor…”

There is a ton going on in this adventure. 

With the exception of Curse of Strahd, this is the D&D’s strongest entry in their series of hardcover adventure books. It has more good ideas per page than any other entry, and despite the clear inspiration it takes from old AD&D books, it features the most original content. 

A Killer Hook. The inciting incident of a ‘Death Curse’ that prevents raise dead spells from working, and causes resurrected characters to slowly waste away, is great. It provides a weighty reason to travel across the world to Chult, and it remains a constant threat in the game because player character death is a very real possibility.

The Best of Old and New. ToA is a very old school style of adventure. Not only is it a gonzo wilderness hexcrawl where survival skills and mapping are big components of play, but it also features several trap and puzzle filled dungeons that require (and encourage!) player skill and clever thinking in order to solve. On top of this, a new “Meatgrinder Mode” is introduced that raises the Death Save DC from 10 to 15, making for a much more lethal adventure that feels at home with OSR adventures.

To balance this out, a variety of options have been made available to more narrative focused groups to take advantage of: unique and weird ways around permadeath, loads of interesting and challenging NPC’s, and a variety of story-filled side quests to keep RP loving players happy amid all the dungeon crawling. ToA really does provide the best of both worlds with this. To those worried that this adventure will be too ‘old school’ for them, rest assured. 

Thoughtful, Self-Contained Design. ToA is one of D&D’s better organized fifth edition books. Like Curse of Strahd it’s an adventure isolated to a single region. It’s a big region, but not having to worry about or rely on the rest of the Forgotten Realms’ world and tropes makes things much simpler and more direct. This extends to the book itself. The hex map of Chult has been provided both filled in with all the locations, and also blank for players to fill in as they play. Best of all, both these versions are provided as a poster map!

All the important random tables and encounter tables are easily accessible in the back of the book, and a helpful table of all the major NPC’s (with name pronunciation guides) are available at the front of the book. This is a fantastic design decision and is very helpful.

(EDIT) New Player Options. Two new backgrounds are provided in ToA: The Anthropologist and the Archeologist. The former allows a PC to examine a foreign culture/species’ language and customs, allowing them to adopt them for a time to make communication possible. The latter has a lot of Indiana Jones flavour and grants the PC a special dungeon exploring tool or item.

All the Best Monsters. ToA has dinosaurs. A lot of them. It has tribal goblins with stacking powers. It has flying monkeys, unicorn bunnies, evil drop bears, an entire race of catpeople, man-eating plants, microscopic leeches, clouds of flesh-eating insects, and more! Plus, almost all of them can appear as undead as well. ToA provides more interesting monsters and creatures in a handful of pages than most bestiaries/monster manuals have in their entirety! Plus, the important monster stats from existing sources (Monster Manual, Volo’s Guide, etc) are provided in the back of the book as well, which means less switching between books! 

“The horror…the horror…”

Not everything about the book is great though. 

My usual gripes with WotC D&D books are still present. Dungeon maps aren’t labelled with their room names or contents, dungeon text still runs a little long, and the hex-map encounters could stand to be organized to a single page for easy reference. 

What sucks is that what is otherwise an exemplary and interesting adventure is hurt by this lack of organization. The dungeons themselves are fantastic, relying on interesting and novel traps. Having them be laid out and presented with a greater emphasis on ‘ease of use’ would have made them much more accessible, in what is otherwise a book made with an eye towards DM accessibility. 

“…if you understand me, Willard, you will do this for me”

Folks, Tomb of Annihilation is really freakin’ cool. 

I feel like I say “No, really, this time this is the new D&D book you should get” a lot. With each new D&D release my initial impressions are positive, and they sour as time goes on. 

I’ll say that Tomb of Annihilation does a lot of things right by me and by my taste in adventures.

It’s weird and gross and different and it doesn’t fall back on medieval fantasy tropes and cliches like a lot of Forgotten Realms stuff does. It’s better organized and more useful than most D&D adventure books, and you definitely get your money’s worth in terms of how much adventure content you get. 

If you’re at all curious about this book, buy it!  

Book Wyrm

A dragonborn-only arcane tradition for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition.

As a book wyrm, you possess a voracious hunger for knowledge verging on avarice. You journey with your hoard piled high atop your shoulders, an assortment of precious tomes, scrolls, and treasures. Clutched between your claws is the hoard’s crown jewel, your spellbook. Driven to amass an ever-growing trove, you plumb the deepest archives, scale the tallest shelves, and leave a trail of missing library books in your wake.

Restriction: Dragonborn Only
Only dragonborn can choose the book wyrm arcane tradition. Your DM can lift this restriction.

Wealth of Lore
At 2nd level, you while away endless nights under the glow of your wand, poring over tomes of valuable lore. You gain the light cantrip if you don’t already know it. You also gain proficiency with one skill and one tool of your choice.

Hoard Knowledge
Beginning at 2nd level, you have a number of hoard points equal to your wizard level, and regain all spent hoard points when you finish a rest. You must spend at least 30 minutes of the rest studying your spellbook to regain expended hoard points. While your spellbook is on your person, you can use the following features.
Peruse. You can spend 1 hoard point to take the Search action as a bonus action on your turn.
Borrow. You can spend 1 hoard point to make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check as a bonus action on your turn.
Possess. You can spend 1 hoard point to take the Use an Object action as a bonus action on your turn.

Magic by the Book
Starting at 6th level, with your spellbook in hand, you can use your action to spend 3 hoard points and choose one of the following benefits.

  • Your carrying capacity is doubled
  • You have darkvision out to a range of 60 feet
  • You don’t need to spend extra movement to climb
  • You can read one written language of your choice

Each time you use this feature, exchange your chosen benefit for a different one.

Illuminate Hoard
At 10th level, you can use your action to spend 5 hoard points and emanate an aura of brilliant candlelight that lasts for 10 minutes or until you dismiss it (no action required). You emit bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light 20 feet beyond that. Each friendly creature in the bright light (including you) has resistance to psychic damage, and is considered proficient in Constitution saving throws to maintain its concentration. In addition, invisible creatures and objects are visible in the bright light.

Draconic Intellect
At 14th level, your hoard of knowledge grows so vast you seldom err. Whenever you make a saving throw or ability check that lets you add your proficiency bonus and fail, you can spend 1 hoard point to reroll it and take the second result.

10

Recasting Game of Thrones (to better fit book canon):

  • Rosamund Pike as Cersei Lannister
  • Niels Schneider as Loras Tyrell
  • Jessica Chastain as Catelyn Stark
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Euron Greyjoy
  • Santiago Cabrera as Arthur Dayne
So I haven't read the books...

…but from what I have gathered from the discourse, there is quite the difference between book characters and show characters? 

This is based on what I’ve read of book characters and what I’ve seen on the show:

Book Stannis: Actually a good king, loved Shireen and wanted her on the throne after him, didn’t seem like a religious fanatic. 

Show Stannis: iron throne is mine, do whatever Mel, kill innocent people, give birth to my demon murder baby, heck burn my only daughter Mel why the fuck not

Book Mel: Her morality is kind of a grey area? She’s not a heartless murderer but will make sacrifices for the “greater good”

Show Mel: here ya go boobs omg Jon touch my boobs also lets burn Shireen umm have I mentioned I have boobs also I’m secretly super old here ya go saggy boobs

Book Dany: Did not act like her father’s daughter? Also not 100% fireproof? 

Show Dany: iron throne is mine okay so bend the knee why isn’t everyone here bending the knee when i tell them I am fireproof okay and did you look at my dragons wait what was I talking about? oh yeah I can’t have children

Book Jon: Capable of making smart decisions, funny at times, will do his duty even if it makes him the bad guy, actually cared about his siblings being alive

Show Jon: *pouts* i saw the dead okay *pouts more* they are real okay I saw them why won’t anyone believe me *pouting intensifies* what do you mean I have really kissable lips

Book Jaime: Pushes Bran out the window and then begins an interesting redemption arc and you strangely find yourself rooting for him, might even be the PTWP

Show Jaime: is so unbelievably daft at times even Nikolaj is like, I don’t know him.

Book Petyr: Cunning- keeps his cards so close to himself no one knows what his goal is or that he is even playing the game

Show Petyr: i love Sansa i want Sansa have i mentioned yet that my end goal is sitting with Sansa on the iron throne? also raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized just by my creepy grin.

Book Arya: Loves her family, misses them all, would hurt those who hurt them

Show Arya: ooh Sansa I bet you felt nice in all your pretty dresses now how about we play a game where I cut your face and wear it lol missed our fun games sis

8

When Jon closed his eyes he saw the heart tree, with its pale limbs, red leaves, and solemn face. The weirwood was the heart of Winterfell, Lord Eddard always said … but to save the castle Jon would have to tear that heart up by its ancient roots, and feed it to the red woman’s hungry fire god. I have no right, he thought. Winterfell belongs to the old gods.

  • a storm of swords, jon xii

The garden had been meant for a godswood once, she knew, but the soil was too thin and stony for a weirwood to take root. A godswood without gods, as empty as me.

  • a storm of swords, sansa vii                
(Book) Jaime appreciation post (II)

Here goes the 2nd part of the appreciation/comparison post of book Jaime and show Jaime when rescuing Brienne from the bear (when book Jaime and show Jaime still had something in common)…

Part II:

[…]

Well, what in seven hells do I do now? He filled his fist with sand.
“Kingslayer?” he heard Brienne say, astonished.
“Jaime.” He uncoiled, flinging the sand at the bear’s face. The bear mauled the air and roared like blazes.
“What are you doing here?”
“Something stupid. Get behind me.”

He circled toward her, putting himself between Brienne and the bear.
“You get behind. I have the sword.”
“A sword with no point and no edge. Get behind me!”

[…]

Brienne tried to dart around, but he kicked her legs out from under her. She fell in the sand, clutching the useless sword. Jaime straddled her, and the bear came charging.

There was a deep twang, and a feathered shaft sprouted suddenly beneath the beast’s left eye. Blood and slaver ran from his open mouth, and another bolt took him in the leg. The bear roared, reared. He saw Jaime and Brienne again and lumbered toward them. More crossbows fired, the quarrels ripping through fur and flesh. At such short range, the bowmen could hardly miss. The shafts hit as hard as maces, but the bear took another step.

[…]

“You thlew my bear!” Vargo Hoat shrieked.

[…]

“We’re taking the wench.”

“Her name is Brienne,” Jaime said. “Brienne, the maid of Tarth. You are still maiden, I hope?” Her broad homely face turned red.
“Yes.”
“Oh, good,” Jaime said. “I only rescue maidens.”

[…]

“Ser Jaime?” Even in soiled pink satin and torn lace, Brienne looked more like a man in a gown than a proper woman.
“I am grateful, but … you were well away. Why come back?”

A dozen quips came to mind, each crueler than the one before, but Jaime only shrugged.
“I dreamed of you,” he said.

Jaime VI, ASOIAF A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

My thoughts on ‘Tales From The Yawning Portal’

I received my advance copy of @dndwizards​’s new book Tales from the Yawning Portal not quite a week ago. If you haven’t heard of this book here’s the gist of it:

TftYP is a collection of seven ‘classic’ dungeon adventures from D&D editions past, all updated with fifth edition rules. In this book you get…

  • Against the Giants (AD&D)
  • Dead in Thay (D&D Next)
  • Forge of Fury (D&D 3e)
  • Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (AD&D)
  • The Sunless Citadel (D&D 3e)
  • Tomb of Horrors (AD&D)
  • White Plume Mountain (AD&D)

All of the maps and layout have been updated to make them easier on the eyes, while their traps, monsters, structure, and challenges remains largely unchanged. TftYP is a ‘best of’ book, rather than a remake or reboot of these adventures.

If you’re a millennial who got into D&D through things like Acquisitions Inc, The Adventure Zone, or Critical Role, my take on this book is gonna be of interest to you…because this book might be specifically FOR YOU.  

Originally posted by ewzzy


Keep reading

Weapons of Math Instruction, Part 1

~Sigil of Radians~

1st level Divination

-Casting time: 1 action
-Range: 60 feet
-Components: V, S
-Duration: Concentration

For the duration of the spell, a glowing semi-circular symbol appears in mid-air, in front of the targeted character, which changes to indicate their optimum firing solutions for ranged weapon attacks.

Any time the affected character makes a ranged attack (with a non-magical ranged weapon*, of any size), they do not suffer disadvantage when firing beyond the weapon’s normal range. They cannot, however, exceed the maximum range. Attacks aimed within the normal range are made with advantage.

*Up to and including siege weapons. Nets are excluded.

Highlights from Talks Machina (Episode 105)

Again, covering for @eponymous-rose​ while she continues her international vacation! Sorry for missing last week–things got crazy! Tonight’s guests: Darin de Paul, Taliesin sporting a lovely scarlet mohawk, and Travis. Brian starts a story that ends with him forging several signatures, and off we go.

  • The new campaign guide comes out soon! Taliesin is now worried about messing up the history of a character he invented.
  • Darin loves D&D as a long-form improv exercise and is happy he was able to get moments with each of the cast members.
  • Right after college, Darin was an apprentice at the Burt Reynolds Theater in Florida (a year-long program for theater students). One of his co-apprentices was Matt’s mom, and Matt’s grandmother was the director’s assistant. Matt’s father was part of the writing room. During the run of Darin’s last show (Fiddler), a clarinet player said they were going to play D&D and invited Darin. Matt’s mother was also in the group; they were all new to the game, so they rolled on a table for names and played four sessions. Last year, Darin was hired by Blizzard to do various voices, which is where he and Matt became friends. Later, Matt realized his mom had a picture of herself with Darin de Paul, and discussion of that picture led to the conversation of their D&D game. It’s been 37 years since Sprigg’s original campaign.
  • Matt was worried about fitting Sprigg in until Darin mentioned he was a hermit. The hobgoblin TPK was canon! Sprigg, a chaotic evil illusionist thief, was the only one to survive; the last moment of that campaign had him fleeing on a cart with wolves chasing him, abandoning the rest of the party to their deaths. Travis and Taliesin ask if he really was chaotic evil; “Why do you think he was so interested in redemption, dear boy?”
  • The first episode Darin saw was the Trials of the Take episode when the carpet was destroyed. He’s wanted to be on the show ever since.
  • Symmetra’s voice actor, Anjali Bhimani, also plays D&D. My heart skips a few beats.
  • Vex and Percy eloped over the year break. Laura and Taliesin kept it secret out of pique at first (Taliesin doesn’t remember why they were piqued). He’s not surprised the others are annoyed.
  • Grog was extremely impressed by Sarenrae and hasn’t thought much about Kord giving him any boons.
  • Darin has been a fan of the show and watching for some time. Taliesin says he is the most prepared guest they’ve ever had.
  • Very few people were present at Vex & Percy’s wedding. They did not intend to ever bring it up on their own.
  • The plane of books is the worst possible plane for Grog. Only the plane of shopping would be worse.
  • As soon as Darin walked into the studio last Thursday, Travis immediately asked him if he was a god. Travis still thinks he might be.
  • Percy would rather have a thousand years with Vex than a thousand years with Ioun’s library.
  • Travis wants a “positive, upbeat resolution to all the drama that is a-hanging in the air.” Me too. Travis does not read the Player’s Handbook to help keep Grog dumb, so he never knows what’s going on.
  • Travis loves how prepared Darin was. He offered the Deck because he thought Darin was looking for something specific after Sprigg deflected the weaker offerings.
  • Darin loved the emotion in the room during the plane shift and the strong moment with Marisha in particular. He also likes the movie Gargoyles.
  • The hardest thing about playing Sprigg after so long was finding him again. Brian gets very sentimental about the long journey that brought Sprigg back to life, including Darin becoming friends and colleagues with Matt so many years later.
  • Darin will be back on the next episode and is visibly excited about it.
  • Darin used to read tons of D&D books (mentions Drizzt by name) and used to paint minis as a hobby. He still has some of the figures and wants to donate them to the show.
  • Darin’s wife was part of Taliesin’s parents’ circle, so he’s known her for a long time. Taliesin and Darin exchange memories of meeting Roddy McDowall, and Darin says part of Sprigg’s concept of memories being the most important came from a conversation he had with Roddy while Roddy was dying of cancer.
  • Percy’s current distrusting attitude towards the gods came directly from his interaction with the Raven Queen. However, he didn’t know there was a god of knowledge and has been “chewing on it a lot, and what it means to have faith in knowledge.” He sees the library as a testament to faith in humanity and the good works of life and how important memory is and is blown away by it. “Books have always been about finding meaning and this whole library thing has changed him.” Taliesin expected Percy to be much more resistant to Ioun and was surprised at how quickly the books sold him.
  • Darin felt as the scenes progressed that his role was to “illuminate” CR as to where they were and what they could be. Taliesin and Percy both wondered if he was Scanlan from the future. Darin had the choice of being Scanlan’s dad, but declined.
  • Percy picked Vesper because her namesake was the last person he’d talked to in real life.
  • The only place Travis can think of worse for Grog is if the books were replaced with clothing & a For Sale sign. “Grog has a beatnik poet inside him waiting to get out.”
  • Darin’s advice to Keyleth was total improv. He almost cried when she touched his hand. He loves funny characters that can become sad and/or touching.
  • Marisha has no idea how to get Keyleth out of her emotional nosedive. Watching Marisha break character from Keyleth at the end of an episode is one of Taliesin’s favorite things because they’re such different people.
  • Percy would seek out the lifebooks for all his family & ancestry because he’s fascinated with legacy, and Whitestone is full of ghost stories. He had lots of stories he’d planned to give as part of the gnomes’ tour, and tells one about a woman forced into a marriage who slowly poisoned her husband over a number of years.
  • Sprigg feels he is what Scanlan might become. He did not expect to survive the episode.
  • If they were really in Ioun’s halls, Travis would love to see the books of his family and of JFK. Darin would like to see his father’s book. Darin also likes wearing suits, which is why he wears suits. He only wears t-shirts at the gym. (At one point Darin’s family also owned 20 horses???). He wishes his parents could see him now because they were so supportive when he was growing up.

Honor! Justice! After Dark, After Dark, After Dark!

  • If the challenge for Ioun involves any physical activity, Grog will fight Percy for it.
  • Bucket lists: Travis wants to swim with a great white shark. (Darin’s biggest fear is great white sharks.) Taliesin wants to travel to India. Darin wants to learn to tap dance, and casually drops that he used to dance with Cirque du Soleil.
  • Darin’s favorite color is black. His favorite season is winter.
  • There’s a video somewhere of Darin de Paul and Steve Blum pretending to be zombies and running towards the camera.
  • Travis and Darin do Reinhardt “impressions” by talking in high-pitched baby voices. Taliesin does a pretty decent actual impression! Darin likes that there’s heroes for every playstyle.
  • Darin hasn’t told Matt’s parents he brought back Sprigg. He also used to have a crush on Matt’s mom.
  • If Darin could pick any character from VM to play, he would play Scanlan. Brian teases the entire world by saying he would play “the character Pike’s in love with.”
  • Darin’s twitter flooded after last Thursday and he wishes he could respond to all of the kind messages.
  • Darin once shared floss with Gilbert Gottfried as part of an old bit.
  • Darin feels his whole history has led to this moment last Thursday where he had the chance to create a story with people he loved.
  • Laura read the Game of Thrones books as they came out, well before the show started. Brian just found the copy of the first book she lent him in 2010, which he still hasn’t read.
  • If Sprigg could fight any D&D monster, it would be a hobgoblin.
4

The RANDOM BOOK GENERATOR is here! This one was a fantastic REQUEST from daypraiser! I hope you guys are able to suggest more so i can have more to make and we can all have more to use!

This one was difficult to write but i couldn’t be happier with the result :) It’s very got nice structure to it and has the potential to be funny and/or brutally harsh!

This has plenty of potential to be used in dungeons mostly but any setting where you need to quickly build a book with a few simple rolls!

Here’s the download! https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzFqRLlZdgtjaHhnaTk5am9iX1k/view?usp=sharing

Be sure to follow The Aussie GM for more tables like this and feel free to request your own or give any feedback!

Thanks again for all your support and i hope you ENJOY!

- The Aussie GM

Another entry from Barrowborn’s Big Book of Bounties -  “The Crawling Chaos.”

A gargantuan undead, birthed from raw necromancy magic gone awry, the Crawling Chaos is a dangerous creation filled with unbridled, animate purpose. Its breath corrosive and pestilent and its very existence a strong enough presence to draw forth followers from those long dead, left unchecked or unchallenged this horrific monstrosity can soon become the center of a mass of putrid bodies - quickly making its defeat much more difficult than it would otherwise have been…