May 8, 2019
Nov 19, 2018
Stealth is an oft used skill at my table, the ability to sneak past or up to your enemy is a nice option to have. W:DH gives two additional options in the case your sneak-thieves need a little help. Take disadvantage on stealth to give someone else advantage, I really like this as it moves the math around and someone with a high stealth can be seen to pad load armor or cast stones off in a different direction to distract the perceiver's attention from the character being aided. A second little tweak gave advantage to those trying to sneak through a carpeted house. From this we can see the developers (of this adventure, at least) intended to have advantage handed out regularly.
Stealth wasn't the only check that got some options, gambling players (Three Dragon Ante) get to roll Intelligence (Gaming Set) to win a game. I never came up with this myself, using sleight of hand instead, but now I will have this to fall back on. I think if I use it I will restrict it to cards/dice/board games depending on the gaming set chosen by the player. There is a combination safe hidden somewhere in Waterdeep and if you want to try to open it you need to make a Dexterity (investigation) roll. I would have went for Intelligence (Thieves' Tools), but the designer's choice fits better (and there is no stethoscope in Thieves' Tools). Combat got a little love, with the first ever strength based longbow appearing. It acts like a normal longbow but is larger and its damage is 2d6 plus strength modifier, bumping up average damage by 2.5!
Instead of making non-player characters entirely new stat blocks, the writers just directed you to currently published stat blocks and added racial abilities to them. This is something that third party publishers (like Kobold Press in Tome of Beasts) have used before, but to my knowledge, this is it's first appearance in fifth edition. This makes good use of the NPC Features table in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Speaking of tables, the awesome Rooftop Chase Complications table has some good ideas for things to throw at players in cinematic rooftop chases.
Some of the more interesting things I found are more niche uses. There is a slime covered floor that causes problems (difficult terrain) for creatures without the slippery trait. A fresco that charms you in to hanging around and protecting it. More information on running a business is great to have. Faction quests, Scroll prices, and weather effects round out this list of may be useful in your campaign things.
Only a few things stuck out as bad in my eyes. Advice on ending chases mostly came to "or when you want the chase to end," which is to say they aren't relevant and are just exposition. In my eyes that's stuff that should just be explained; giving a player no chance of changing the outcome is a bad presedent to set. Also making a map with ten foot squares is another odd choice of the developers. Fifth edition dungeons and dragons uses a five foot square grid for miniature play and all the maps in it's products should support that. The only other thing bad I can say about W:DH is that they use pages to reprint monsters who aren't in the monster manual. I get the idea behind this, but it feels like a waste to have multiple sources with the same monster.
All in all, if you like official adventures this is another step forward for wizards of the Coast. I like that the adventure makes me reconcider some of the ways to use rules by giving new examples. I really like the modularity of the book and will reuse a lot of the material in here for my homebrew campaign even though I am not planning on running it yet. You can buy Waterdeep: Dragon Heist at your friendly local game store or on Amazon (affiliate link).
Oct 9, 2018
|I love A5 or digest sized books|
Zak Smith's latest release Frostbitten and Mutilated (March 2018) is about a cold, harsh land and the amazons that inhabit it. The players enter for whatever reason (probably making money in the untamed north) and begin a cycle of events that could end the world. By default the attempt fails, but more on that later, for now lets start at the beginning.
I really OSR/DIY D&D book for their A5 (digest sized) books and the general quiality of binding and paper choice. The next thing I notice in almost any book is the art, Zak had previewed a lot of this on his blog but seeing it in print is another thing. I really like black and white art (because I'm color blind) and Zak brings so much depth to his pieces. By far, my favorite is a frost giant reaching down to grab the viewer. All of the pieces have the potential to enthrall me for hours and distract me from the text within.
|Frost Giant of the Hatemountain|
The book starts out with a bit of advice from Zak about playing the environment. See, the rough landscape and inhospitable cold are not merely that, it are the ultimate foe of the party, the lands seeks to destroy those who interlope, crush the weak, and basically wreak all of humanity that it can. Those who can survive here are changed by the icy cold. Amazons born on the ice, witches with strange ways and new magic, and animals smarter than we. The animals are an interesting bit that make the land feel different from the usual dark fantasy. Opinionated goats, envious rats that seek to take all the humans build and wolves who don't stop until they get one of you. The animals here are truly unique to this land and have a voice of their own, if you can speak with animals.
The arrival of the party (re)starts a Groundhog's Day like cycle of failure to summon the demon Belphagor the Beast, trapping them until they deal with the powers that are trying to summon it or they succeed and end the world. Its a unique spin on an adventure that I have tossed around in my head a few times. The staging is sound and the reasons make sense, if I do run this, I will make sure the party goes through at least one cycle and restarts. There are two dungeons in the book, one plot related and the other one I'd like to drop into my current world. They both breathe the atmosphere of the setting and expand upon it to the players. Giving the players some knowledge of the setting is one of the harder jobs of the Dungeon Master and having a bit of help is a good thing.
After 100 pages of mostly setting and exposition come the crunch, the first of which is two new classes. The Amazon and the Witch. Both of these take a base OSR class (fighter and mage, respectively) and add a random roll to level ups instead of traditional gains from attaining new levels; like the Alice class in A Red and Pleasant Land. These are some great thing like a plus to an ability, weapon making, damage resistance, souring milk with a glance, bathing or eating requirements, modifications to spells and so many more differentiating abilities to make each character unique. These thing are going to make their way into my current campaign as boons and curses. This section of the book rounds out with substances, survival and some really good (like I'm going to use it RIGHT NOW) advice for running a wilderness sandbox.
The last bit is random tables. Adventure elements for making innocuous connections into adventures, random locations for adding to the map, Amazon divination results and tables to make new amazon tribes, twenty drastic measures to rid yourself of a curse, non-player confrontations for figuring out why these two groups are hanging out, mutations, two treasure tables; the regular 'I search the body," and "If you look closely," descriptive combat injuries for spicing up combat, random encounters and rival NPC parties for quick determination of who the party stumbled upon. Again most of these are going right into my current campaign in some form or other. I really dig random tables and the quality of these goes beyond the regular to the outlandish and sometimes gonzo that I've come to expect from OSR/DIY D&D.
Overall another success for Zak Smith, I can hardly say a bad word about it, but if I did I would say that Zak's writing is a bit above my grade level and I need a dictionary to read it. Also this is a hard thing to just drop into a regular 'vanilla' fantasy game. If you've already established a base line for regular orcs and goblins, then you may have a difficult time getting buy in from the players. Even though I will probably not play this through as a campaign, I will definitely cherry pick
Sep 3, 2018
KuSo I posted a picture of the new Creature Codex from Kobold Press to my D&D groups Facebook and said, "Boy are you f*cked."
Man I love this book. I just finished demons and already have encounters germinating in my head. I even have some that could spring into multi session adventures! My thoughts so far:
There is a good spread of creatures with amazing nuggets of flavor. I've caught myself thinking this is to high or to low for a sprouting idea in my head, only to see the CR is opposite what I would have thought. So far the CR does not effect the depth of background at all.
Did I mention variety? As the second Kobold Press (5th if you count the WoTC three) monster tome there could have been a lot of variation on the same sets of monsters, sure there's enough new clockwork, derro and other staples to add to your collection, but the vastness of the content in between is varied and mostly unique.
So what dont I like? KP has to steer clear of WoTC IP, no beholders, going and other property of Wizards, so they see the need to fill that gap with stuff of their own. This is a problem with the Kobolds supporting their own setting, Midgard. They can't say going live here and use kuo-toa there, they need to make up creatures for that gap (cueytal and deep ones respectively).
That the short and sweet first look. I only got the pdf, so I didn't really do a flip through, just started reading from the beginning. Let me know what you think!
Jul 1, 2015
As always, let me know what you thought! Did you like the trailer? Is there anything negative you found in it? How excited for this film are you? Please be sure to comment and be sure to follow me on Twitter @HaneyCasey, catch me on MoviePilot.com/HaneyCasey and of course on my website SlackerNerds.com. Thanks for reading!
Jun 4, 2015
Please let me know in the comments what you think because I’d love to hear what you have to say about Entourage. Do you agree? Am I being too noncritical of this film? Did you enjoy it? And will you see it? Sound off below and please follow me @HaneyCasey on twitter.
Jun 1, 2015
As always if you care about what I have to say, share this and thumbs up it or +1 it. Do whatever your heart desires to do with it, and I’ll still appreciate it. Let me know if you want to see more Re-Viewed articles. I am planning on making them part of my upcoming podcast. Thanks for reading and keep an eye for more new content! You can follow me on Twitter @HaneyCasey.