A few thoughts on the effectiveness and danger of building encounters to challenge your players:
Before starting D&Dragonhats Path of Steel, I gave the players information about the setting, what races were or weren’t available and why, the economics, etc. but I explicitly avoided telling them anything about what they would be up against. It could have been an Orcish army from the neighbouring territory, it could have been dwarven automatons bursting from beneath the ground, it could even have just been wild animals in the environment. They had no indication.
I homebrewed the primary enemies they’re facing in this campaign, so that no-one could thumb through the Monster Manual and discover what it was, the lore, the strengths and weaknesses, etc. The story of this campaign was predicated on the players not understanding what they were dealing with, and a homebrew creature was the perfect tool to that end.
Busted: Tarjei catches Captain Essex getting way too comfortable with a masked blood elf calling himself Cyhr. Valurii is nowhere in sight.
It had been a long hot day in Stormwind, the Magi spent most of it inside the office where it was cooler. Or at least it would have been were it not for the busted window of the Gravestone office. It was covered with a cloth drape and tape right now while they waited for their new window to be delivered after the break in. He had worked late this day too, the sun was already done setting and night was licking the streets with its darkness.
Gravestone’s office was nestled in a back road of the dwarven district, right where the alleyway opened between their office and another. It was a newly constructed building too so the window stuck out like a sore thumb with the makeshift replacement. And because it was merely cloth sound traveled through it obnoxiously well. He had gotten used to the sound of voices whenever they passed, thinking little of them.
As he finished rolling up his scroll carefully, making sure the ink had fully dried, he heard an almost familiar voice. At first he thought nothing of it… but then there was a low giggle and an almost familiar fondness to that voice he knew he’d heard before. He quietly rose from his chair and walked to the shelf on his left which meant he was approaching the broken window.
As he slid the scroll into its proper place he heard the voice even more clearly then. Was that… Killian? He’d been seeking to find the captain for a few weeks now to no avail as it seemed he was always away or busy elsewhere but as luck would have it he was sure he knew the voice. He took a step aside to the window and started to reach for the cloth only to pause.
He could have swore he heard another man’s voice. That wouldn’t normally bother him but… the context he overheard was something meant only for lovers or those most intimate. While Tarjei had no problem with men in love he DID have great reason to pause and be confused. Killian had a wife, a wonderful Draenei whom he’d gotten to know better each day they talked and thus the magus was starting feel more attached to the woman as a friend might of course. He was fairly certain Killian and Valurii weren’t as open as Killian’s father was. At least the few times he saw them together they seemed as any proper wedded couple should be.
Rather it was his growing fondness of Valurii or merely the young curiosity his mind was currently stuck with that compelled him to look when he normally would have turned the other cheek was left unclear. But in that moment he pulled the cloth drape of the window back and peered through it.
His blue eyes went wide with shock, concern, confusion, and anger all at once. As a man whom recently had his world turned upside down and inside out by a cheating husband he was a little sensitive to the situation. And as he stood there peering through the window his anger flared. Killian was peeling the mask away of what was clearly a Sin'dorei and NOT a Draenei as their lips met following wondering hands in what was no doubt a quick heated moment of passion in the alleyway they had thought was safe.
Again reason to look away and not involve himself flew through the window literally as that anger for what he’d recently lost himself flickered like a distant whisper of memories repressed in his mind. How it managed to seep through was unknown but the wolf within him was bristling as a low growl emit from his throat as he stood there glaring through the window.
“MISTER ESSEX!” He barked fully intent on scaring them both, his blue eyes flaring and fully focused on Killian for daring to be so unfaithful to his wife! In that same moment the Magi did something ridiculously drastic as he blinked out of sight only to reappear before his fellow Magi as he reached out for the collar of Killian’s shirt and yanked him back getting in his face very uncharacteristically. “Stop it! Stop it!!”
On The Adventure Zone Graphic Novel, Blue Taako, and Representation
Yesterday, we revealed some pages for our graphic novel adaptation of the first Adventure Zone arc, and received some criticism of the direction we went with for Taako’s coloring. This artwork reveal came some months after the first reveal of some of our characters, for which we also received criticism of our three leads, all of whom were white in these initial designs. Us and the graphic novel team realized that, yes, that is extremely bad, went back to the drawing board, and had several long discussions about how to best rectify this situation, resulting in the artwork revealed yesterday.
More or less all of the criticism we’ve received centers on Taako, whose skin is a pale blue color in these designs. What we’ve heard most is disappointment that Taako is not realized in these pages as a person of color — or, to be more specific, a Latinx or explicitly Mexican character. There was concern we had failed to follow through on an opportunity to get better representation for Latinx listeners, instead opting to take a safe route, and make Taako a fantasy color without any kind of real-world connection. Much of the criticism also focuses on how that color (or, to be more specific, green skin) has anti-semitic connotations.
This conversation was happening in certain corners of our fandom long before the graphic novel art reveal took place yesterday. We’ve heard criticism from some folks over our policy of not having canonical visual representations of any of our characters — a policy that has resulted in a genuinely humbling ocean of fan art, but also some instances of in-fighting between members of the community who take umbrage with one another’s disparate interpretations of these characters. Another criticism of that policy is that it inherently does not foster good representation, and in fact represents a noncommittal way of handling racial representation on this show.
Here’s the truth of the matter: I think all of this comes from this underlying friction between where The Adventure Zone and us, its creators, were when we started doing the podcast, and where we, the show, and you, the community, are at now.
Like, just imagine. You live your entire life underground. And you know there are these giants who live on the surface, because they buy lyrium and sometimes they send people to negotiate, and some of them fight darkspawn. Some of them can reputedly do ‘magic’, which is what they buy all that lyrium for, and all of them apparently ‘dream’, which is this weird thing where they go to sleep but then they actually visit somewhere else? And they worship a woman who died ages ago (normal) and a big invisible guy who they think created everything (weird) and the people who can’t do magic are terrified of the people who can and so they buy lyrium to make more people who can do magic but, like, a different kind of magic. Anti-magic magic.
And then all of a sudden, you’re there, and you have to save all of these crazy giant people because a Blight is coming and apparently they don’t have much experience in fighting darkspawn, like it’s a rare thing for them, but apparently they have roughly the same amount of political batshittery going on because there are usurpers and werewolves and the magic-wielding ones have all flown off the deep end, and basically everyone is doing the exact opposite of what they should if they don’t want to get eaten by darkspawn, and you’re still adjusting to the fact that instead of a rock ceiling, you’ve got a giant, colour-changing void with a giant flaming ball in it sitting over your head.
The Hero of Ferelden is impressive with any origin but I mean, shout out to the Aeducans and Broscas as the ones who’ve practically stepped onto Mars at the outset.
What kind of story am I? A romance? A tragedy? Or just another cautionary tale?
;^) fine dwarven crafts are my SPECIALTY. @ that one person who requested Varric, you’re welcome. Bianca and Varric’s looks here were based off the bits with them from Until We Sleep, though I modified her hair just a bit.
Full view the last panel for a painful little surprise.
Crafted by a renowned Dwarven alchemy shop, the Dalbert family presents the solution to wood! Unlike metal and stone, wood is week and bendy, no good for any real use, but no longer! With our new Magic Varnish, you can turn that splintery old club into an arcane weapon of legends. Just apply a single layer of Magic Varnish on any wood object and it will be imbued with magical energy, preventing it from being destroyed by normal means! Now available at Dalbert’s Alchemy Emporium.
A single bottle has 5 uses for tools or 1 use for a medium sized object. When used on a weapon or other item made of wood, it becomes magical, meaning it can’t be broken or burned by normal means. Any attack done with a varnished wooden weapon also deals magical damage. This formula has no effect on non-wooden objects.
Context: i play a male dwarf barbarian in a party with a female gnome wizard, male elf ranger, female half orc fighter, and a male human cleric. My dwarf has no facial hair because of story reasons and long braided hair. The cleric grew up in a human-only town and had never seen a dwarf before. So he was convinced that no beard meant he was female, and has continued to hit on my dwarf every chance he got. My dwarf, after a whole in game year of this constant flirting (he barely began to take notice) decides he’s had enough.
The following takes place as we are shopping in a busy marketplace.
Cleric: Oh look love,*holds up a jewel necklace* i got a gift for you!
Dwarf: Dont want it.
Cleric: Whats wrong love? You usually like it when i buy you things.
Me(ooc): We’re in the middle of a marketplace right?
DM: Yup, middle of the day, tons of people around you.
Dwarf: IM NOT YOUR GODDAMN-UH *pulls down pants* I have a dong so there!
Party(ooc): Starts to loose their shit.
Dm: Make an intimidation check.
Party: *Hysteria intensifies*
DM: (cleric) you find youself blushing at the sight of his dong. (Dwarf) Role for seduction.
Me: Oh shit, here we go.
*rolls a 18*
Cleric(ooc): Im a cleric having some very unholy thoughts!
Cleric: I dont care. *grabs my dwarf’s hands* My feelings for you will never change. *kisses dwarf*
Me(ooc): Im…I..I have nothing. I literally cant think of anything to do.
DM: As this beautiful display is happening, surrounded by dozens of civillians with various expressions, the light bouncing off of (dwarf)’s dwarven butt cheeks catches the eyes of a guard.
Guard: Hey pull up those pants your under arrest.
Half orc: Back off this has been months in the making!
*rolls a nat 20 intimidation*
Wizard: I cast an illusion of (dwarf)’s dong ‘reacting’.
Me(ooc): Too late.
Long story short they are still together and my dwarf is ring hunting.