Archive for August, 2015

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Andrew Kane, Andrew Timmes, and Barak Blackburn to talk about the first fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons psionic class presented in the monthly Unearthed Arcana article. This podcast was recorded on July 26, 2015.

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Note: You can now find the magic items in this article as a part of 50 New Magic Items, a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild.

Last week had this blog’s most popular post by far. I created a list of 100 common rarity magic weapon properties which could be applied to any weapon for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. Since folks seemed to love that post so much, I’ve created a list of 100 wondrous items of common rarity which can also be used in your D&D games. If you’re interested in the guidelines I used to created these item, check out my post from last week.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival‘s theme is “Convention Gaming” chosen by Mark over at Creative Mountain Games. This is a great topic considering Gen Con kicked off the beginning of August. If you missed Gen Con, fear not! The Tome Show has you covered. This awesome Dungeons and Dragons news, reviews, and interviews podcast network features many a fine show (including three hosted by yours truly) and shows up at Gen Con every year to record interviews and seminars. Even if you were at Gen Con you should check it out because we may have caught some stuff you missed (like press interviews with fifth edition D&D lead designers Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls).

Moving on from that shameless plug, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say about convention gaming. I love going to gaming conventions and have plenty of advice to give, but many have already covered the topic in-depth far better than I ever could. Mike Shea has the best Gaming Convention Survival Guide over on Sly Flourish. And the host of this month’s carnival, Mark, has already written some great advice about running a game at conventions. I’m sure more advice on how to be a great player or get the most out of a gaming convention are sure to come. So what can I do?

I’m going to tell you why you should go to a gaming convention.

Why Gaming Conventions are Awesome

Here’s some reasons gaming conventions are great!

These Are Your People!

If you’re like me then you’re a gamer who grew up in a community of folks who mainly did not play tabletop games. Sure, I am lucky enough to be close to my brother Andrew, who introduced me to D&D and still enjoys great board games to this day. I imagine if you’re playing tabletop games then you must know at least a few folks who are also gamers and those are the people you play with. Still, we live in an age where many who love Marvel movies and the Batman Arkham games still think of tabletop games a bridge too nerdy. No one who thinks that attends a gaming convention.

Gaming conventions are full of people who get all your critical hit jokes, appreciate your T-shirt no one else laughs at, and understand what you mean when you use the phrase d20-based game. Most gamers, especially the kind who travel to a convention to be social with other gamers, are not sexist internet trolls. We’re cool people who want to hang out and talk to you about the things you love and play the games that thrill you. You will love the people you meet there and for many it feels like nerd heaven because you can finally talk games with new people without having to answer the question, “How do you win at D&D?”

You Can Play New Games

Ever want to try Pathfinder? 13th Age? Call of Cthulhu? Night’s Black Agents? BattleTech? Warhammer? Love Letter? Boggle? Well at gaming conventions you can sit down at a table having read no rules and play almost any game for hours with very little or no cost. There’s always someone at every table dedicated to teaching the game and providing the supplies needed. Imagine getting to play Warhammer without having to buy a single miniature or paint a darn thing. Imagine sitting down to play 13th Age without having to read a giant rulebook or take the time to make a character. The people running these games are always happy to see new players trying out the game because it means more support for what they love.

You Can Play Weird Games

Do you have a copy of Car Wars you’ve read 1000 times, but never found anyone who would play with you? Do you think OD&D is the best edition of the game and can’t find players who agree with you? Are you looking for a game that has the edge of Cards Against Humanity, but has the complexity of Risk? Gaming conventions are the place where you can find folks who want to play older, out-of-print games, rare games, or just games that don’t have a large audience. If you’re looking for weird and don’t know what, just take a look at the list of games offered and you’re sure to find something that will light your fancy.

There’s Always Convention Exclusives

Even the smallest conventions usually have some exclusive adventures or games that can only be played at conventions. For instance the D&D Adventurers League Epics are adventurers that can only be played at conventions. True Dungeon is an experience one can only be played at Gen Con. Other companies might be doing exclusive playtesting of new games only at conventions. It seems almost every gaming company has some experience like this which can only be found at conventions.

If it’s not an adventure or game, many vendors are selling or giving away freebies that can only be snagged during a convention. Special dice, books, miniatures and more are given away all the time to those who visit booths, wait in the right lines, or play certain games.

Then there’s the talent who shows up to conventions. Again even small conventions are sure to have at least ONE of your favorite designers, artists, actors, comedians, authors, bloggers, or podcasters. If you see someone you recognize and want to go thank them for their work go ahead and do it! People are always happy to have some praise for their hard work and talk games with others who love them.

Seminars, Parties, Pickup Games, and More

It’s not all about playing organized games. Most conventions have parties, concerts, contests, scavenger hunts, demonstrations, seminars about game design, seminars about creative writing, seminars about what’s coming next from your favorite gaming company, and way, way, WAY more. You can meet lots of people, go out for fun meals with friends, and plays loads of pickup games with anyone who happens to be walking by. It is gamer heaven.

Find Your Con

Last year was my first Gen Con. I went with my pal and fellow podcaster, Rudy Basso. We’ve been friends since college and play tabletop games with a whole bunch of friends from our alma mater. Last year we sort of decided last-minute we’d go to the convention, but we thought that this year since we planned ahead and had a sweet deal on an amazing hotel room that at least some of our friends would decide to go with us.

We were wrong. Our friends could not make the trek to Indianapolis, stay for four days, and pay all the money required for a lot of really good, really valid reasons. Some have families they can’t leave, others had work commitments, others were low on funds, and others didn’t have the vacation days. Totally understandable.

Here’s the thing. I’m not saying you have to go to Gen Con. I’m saying you should go to ANY gaming convention for the experience. If time and money are a factor, try to find some place close and go just for the day. There’s tons of gaming conventions out there. They’re all run a little differently. Some have you wait in lines for games… others make it so you can register beforehand.

Rudy and I are still working on our friends. Maybe we’ll get them to attend a more local con with us… and if not that… we’ll create one! Stay tuned.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with the crew from D&D V&G – Rudy BassoAlex BassoVegas Lancaster, and Greg Blair to talk about all the E3 news around Sword Coast Legends. This podcast was recored on June 25, 2015.



If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I was on a recent episode of The Tome Show all about a bunch of cool people’s post-Gen Con thoughts. Check it out!


Welcome to the last Tome episode of GenCon coverage for 2015. In this episode Jeff Greiner is joined by Rudy BassoTracy Hurley, and me. We discuss what we experienced, loved, liked less, discovered, and purchased at Gen Con.


If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Remember when Rudy Basso and I went to Gen Con and participated in a press round table with fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons lead designer Jeremy Crawford? You don’t? Well you can relive our experience by listening to the podcast right now. Jeremy opens up a bit about the Open Gaming License, D&D’s future, Sword Coast Legends, Vin Diesel, and more!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Note: You can now find the magic items in this article as a part of 50 New Magic Items, a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild.

We need to talk about common magic items. There’s four of them in the Dungeon Master’s Guidepotion of climbing, potion of healing, cantrip spell scroll, and 1st level spell scroll. That’s all! No more! Why even have that distinction if you’re going to have so few items in that category? I suppose I should mention there’s not as few as it seems. Cantrip and 1st level spell scrolls are far more than just two magic items. There’s as many of those bad boys as there are spells of those levels. Still that leaves much to be desired in the common magic item rarity category.

Fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons is designed in a way that characters need not be weighed down with magic items as they were in the third and fourth editions of the game. That means getting a magic item is special and by its nature a rare occurrence. So there are no permanent magic items in the common rarity category because if everyone has a +1 longsword then finding one becomes less special and more, “I need this in order for the game to stay balanced.” Even so it can still occasionally be fun to find and give a magic sword, even if it doesn’t give the PC a mechanical boost to attack and damage.

There are at least two reasons I can think that a dungeon master might want some permanent common magic items to give out. First is that a DM might just like giving out magic items, but do not want to overpower their party. The second is that they do NOT like giving out magic items, but want their party to be able to face tough beasts like dragons and golems which are usually at least resistant if not immune to nonmagical weapon damage. For this second reason I’m focusing on weapons in this post. Today I’m going to show off some common magic weapon properties I designed which I think fit the bill quite well.

Designing Common Magic Weapons

Calling potions of healing and 1st level spell scrolls common is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not like every peasant, merchant, or even noble has a pantry full of these items. In most cases they have nada when it comes to magic items. Common rarity is just as much about the item’s power level as it is about its abundance.

Now that’s not to say magic items in the same rarity category need to have the exact same level of power. Just look at spell scrolls. Cantrip and 1st level spell scrolls have the same rarity, even though a 1st level spell scroll is by definition more powerful than a cantrip spell scroll. Similarly a +1 shield, a 2nd level spell scroll, a gem of brightness, a headband of intellect, and a sword of vengeance are all uncommon rarity level, but vary in their power level. Still not sold that all items of a given rarity category have different power levels? Consider this – a scroll of fly lets a PC cast fly a single time before becoming worthless. Winged boots let a PC fly for four hours each day without having to maintain concentration and the PC never loses this ability as long as the boots are on foot. Granted the scroll makes a PC’s flying speed 60 feet while the boots use the creature’s normal walking speed, but I’d say even with that fact considered the boots are way more powerful even though both items have an uncommon rarity.

So now that we’ve established items of the same rarities can have different power levels, I should point out that items of the same rarity have a similar power level ceiling. Reading through the Dungeon Master’s Guide you can get a feel for what these parameters are. For instance in the uncommon rarity category no weapon or shield gives a bonus greater than +1, no permanent items increase attributes beyond 19, and no magic items duplicate the effects of a spell greater than 3rd level.

With all this power level stuff in mind I sat down to determine what weapon properties would common rarity magic items have. Here’s the parameters I gave myself.

  • It is fine for these weapons to surpass the power level of a potion of healing or a 1st level spell scroll in the sense that they are permanent magic items and almost by that fact alone they are more useful than single-use items.
  • These weapons should not have power equal to or greater than a +1 weapon. This means that any bonuses given to attack or damage of these weapons should have their access limited to these boons through circumstances (e.g. bonuses only apply when attacking a specific creature type) or through item recharges (e.g. the property can only be used once per day).
  • These weapons should not duplicate the effects of any spell greater than 1st level.

So with that in mind I present…

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It’s time for another adventure! For the past couple weeks on this site I’ve been building a tiny dungeon in my homebrew campaign world of Exploration Age post by post. Well now I’ve revised, tweaked, and added to that adventure, The Wererat Den, and put it all together in a nice, downloadable, FREE PDF. You can grab it in the link below or you can head on over to the Free Game Resources section of the site where it will live forever alongside plenty of other resources for your game like monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspells, magic items, another adventure, and more.

Here’s the PDF – The Wererat Den

The Wererat Den is a short fifth edition adventure for four to six 5th-level PCs. In this adventure the PCs take on an inn full of lycanthrope supremacists, save some elf and halfling children, and maybe even outrun some lava. If you play through the adventure, please let me know what you think!

But wait! There’s more. I’ve got more links below of the individual dungeon maps, both with and without grids, for you to use however you like. Personally, I’ll be bringing them right into Roll20 as I play through with my group.

All these maps were made using Pyromancers‘ Dungeon Painter tool. I love it! So fast, easy, web-based, and free!

The Wererat Den Maps Gridded

Wererat Den Gridded A 34x34 Wererat Den Gridded B 34x34 Wererat Den Gridded C 34x34

The Wererat Den Maps Gridless

Wererat Den No Grid A 34x34 Wererat Den No Grid B 34x34 Wererat Den No Grid C 34x34

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I was on a recent episode of The Tome Show all about a bunch of cool people’s pre-Gen Con thoughts. Check it out! Also if you’re at Gen Con come see me and say hi! Pictures on of me are on Twitter.


Welcome to the first Tome episode of GenCon coverage for 2015. In this episode Jeff Greiner is joined by Rudy Basso, Mike Shea, and me. We discuss what they hope to see and do at the con this year stay tuned for lots more con coverage this year.


If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!