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

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Entrances and exits to geomorph tile based dungeons can be a rare thing. I’m including a few experimental “Access” tiles in my first hand drawn geomorphs pack. Hopefully they might just fix a few of the issues thrown up by exit-less one-level megadungeons -which can be built in minutes using square geomorph style tiles. I’ll be bringing out the downloadble low priced PDF first (RPGNow/DTRPG) and then releasing a more richly textured version as a pre-printed deck through theGameCrafter. At least that’s the plan. 60+ unique designs, each with a mirror copy (and/or multiples or corridors etc) - the exact number of cards is still in flux. PDF price should be around the $5 mark at launch. I’m bursting to finish this and share it with you all.:)

“The Deepest Dungeon Of Them All” – For centuries dwarves and wizards carved the Underhalls below Mount Waterdeep, even before the founding of the city against the foothills.  Now only the constant incursions of adventurers keep the evil inhabitants of the Undermountain in check.  (Box and book cover art by Brom for The Ruins of Undermountain box set, TSR, 1991.)

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So, a long while ago I wrote some stuff about dwarfs and elves being different sexes of the same species, but I came up with something I prefer:

Dwarfs actually reproduce asexually: the process of making a dwarf baby is as simple as assembling enough stone, metal and gem together, carving it into a dwarf, and then during a special ritual giving it the breath of life. No one’s quite sure how this works, but some wizards theorize that dwarfs are actually a species of self-replicating organic golems, while certain theologians point at the dwarven creation myth where their two chief deities created dwarfs in the same manner. Supposedly, all dwarfs carry a little bit of that same divine breath in them, allowing them to give life. These same theologians have long tried to discern what the gender of these two deities was, a question to which dwarfs will generally answer with “They’re neither woman nor man, they’re gods.”

While some dwarfs choose to create their progeny by themselves, most dwarfs choose to cooperate on creating their children with a partner of their choosing, both out of a sense of love and a willingness to save money through pooling their resources together. The dwarfs involved in this process will also provide the breaths of all dwarfs involved in the project, thus making the new dwarf all of their child for all intents and purposes.

Incidentally, you know that traditional plot hook where for some reason the dwarfs are a dying race? Same thing applies here: the dwarfs have mined too deep and thus exhausted most of the earth’s precious ores, which is why so many dwarfs are turning to adventuring these days: by reclaiming the lost treasures of ancient civilizations they hope to slow down the imminent extinction of their people, if only for a while longer.

EDIT: Credit where credit’s due: the idea of dwarfs breeding through creating their children owes very much to a similar concept in James Maliszewski’s Dwimmermount megadungeon, but I refined the concept a bit (including the bit about multiple dwarfs being able to work together on creating a child). Also, even before I read Dwimmermount, me and my friends used to joke about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e’s Dwarfcraft talent being the skill dwarfs use to craft new dwarfs, so this also owes something to my great players.

anonymous asked:

Suggestions for introducing players from plot-heavy games (WoD, Dragonlance stuff) to more emergent (OSRish?) RPG gamestyles? Asking for a friend, of course.

This is a transition I struggle with from time to time as well.

I love old school play with D&D and similar games, but I’m so used to running big plot-heavy set-piece games, and those seem to be the kinds of games my players enjoy, so here’s the best advice I can offer. It might be a little rambling, so be prepared:

1) Give this booklet a read. It’s by Matthew J. Finch and is about old school mentalities vs new school mentalities. It’s primarily about Swords and Wizardry (a really good OSR game), but it’s applicable to a lot of games. Maybe send it to your players to read as well(?), as it might spur some interest into this style of game. 

2) Emphasize scrappier play. My favourite experience with D&D ever was a megadungeon game run by Natalie Bennett. Her ‘Sewers of San Draso’ game was very old school, even though we were using D&D Fifth Edition. In it, we played characters who resided in a city above a sewer system (dungeon), and we were tracking multiple quests inside that dungeon. Each quest paid a certain amount of gold:

  • Kill gator men. 10gp per gatorman head. 
  • Map the sewer system. 10gp for every room mapped.
  • Recover an ancient artifact. 100gp if recovered. 

That might not seem like much, but this is an adventure where we tracked both lodging and lifestyle expenses, and we had to continually pay hirelings, who in turn helped keep us alive in battle. In-game days passed between sessions, so we were always in need of cash. This added a greater motivation to forge our own paths, recover treasure, and complete quests safely: it meant the difference between living and dying when not adventuring. It was very slice of life. 

This added an extra wrinkle of resource management to the game, which felt tense and fun; a VERY different kind of fun than what a more plot heavy game might provide.  

Similarly, another great old school game I play in is Chris F’s on Google+, who runs Adventurer Conquerer King. He balances out a lack of clear plot in his games with story and character development that happens either during play or while the party is away from town. 

In his game, there’s a meta plot to the adventure concerning a cult that’s taken hold of the town outside the dungeon we’re exploring. Every time we’re away, the cult gets up to more activity, and we as a group are left with choices on how to deal with them. Each choice affects how the town perceives us. 

On top of this, our hirelings are fun and interesting characters that the party has become invested in. They create another layer of motivation to quest and adventure: to see these side characters grow and level up alongside us. Their stories have almost become the main story of the campaign, and we (the players) are helping tell them.

3) Balance scrappy play with flavourful items and details. My favourite example of emergent story and world building that’s often satisfying to a plot-heavy game fan is Dark Souls/Bloodborne. So much of the world and story of that game is revealed in item description and environments.

Remember that just because you’re running a game where stories emerge through play (rather than exposition or NPC’s), doesn’t mean you can’t include story elsewhere. 

Give your players something to sink their teeth into with peculiar items and weapons dropped by enemies. Include a lot of trinkets in play that players can collect, each one providing a hint or maybe even an adventure hook that leads them deeper into a dungeon or wilderness area. Use paintings, frescoes, and mosaics in dungeons to tell stories of past cultures, whose treasures may still be nearby. 

You can do a tremendous amount of storytelling without actually relying on plot, and for plot-hungry players this can be a good way to make them more comfortable with your game. With enough storied trinkets and clues, they might begin to guess at or invent a plot to your game. You can take those guesses and build on them in secret. 

If you’re not used to doling out story/plot this way, I highly recommend picking up Vornheim: The Complete City Kit. It is jam packed with items, encounters, locations, and characters designed to provide story hooks in an emergent way. I swear by this book, as it has substantially boosted the amount of old school play in my new school games. 

I hope this helps. Hoping your friend’s players follow the funky flow. 

Originally posted by pearl-likes-pi


Vacation sketchbook.

Been putting together some work for a little project I’ve tentatively titled


The basic idea for the project is to have a booklet beginning with a numbered map that corresponds to images that are open to the DM’s interpretation. No words, just pictures. I’m hoping to do a few issues, each corresponding to different levels in a wacky megadungeon. The sketches I have now are mostly of a spirit-filled forest level.

Stay tuned for more!

Decided to randomly throw together (almost) all the tiles.  So maybe lava next to water doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this is the Elemental Plane of Dungeons, deal with it.

Despite not doing any post-editing on the map, it almost completely avoided any isolated, unreachable rooms.  …Except for the entrance near the upper right corner.  I guess if you come at it from the wrong direction, you get a really short delve.

  • blizzard: medivh's in the legends of the past... idk if he is coming back
  • blizzard:
  • blizzard: [releases Medivh in HotS]
  • blizzard: [releases Karazhan Adventure in Hearthstone]
  • blizzard: [releases trailer for a rebooted Karazhan megadungeon]
  • blizzard:
  • blizzard: B)