Why I Love Dungeons & Dragons

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In the mid-1970’s parents were nervous about RPGs. Concerns were fuelled by inaccurate and sensational media reports that re-branded D&D as a cult. This may have increased sales of D&D at the time but it also left tabletop RPGs with a reputation of begin a bit ‘out there’ or ‘niche’. Any school or library that tried to encourage RPGs risked complaints from parents.

Thirty years on most parents would be delighted to see their kids unplugging themselves from super violent console titles to read rules books, meet up face to face with real friends and enjoy imaginative storytelling.

What do I love about Dungeons & Dragons? It has to be the socializing. The funny banter between friends. That is by far the best thing about Dungeons & Dragons. Getting together on a lazy Saturday afternoon to hang out and talk with friends. Maybe having a BBQ. It’s just all in all good times. That aspect alone makes up why I love playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Drawing D&D Maps Outside
Drawing D&D Maps Outside

I find that the week or two I have to prepare for a game as a DM (Dungeon Master) is a great creative outlet for me. I draw and plan out maps, encounters, battles, and wars. I even find myself sometimes picking out the background music I would like to have playing when the game actually starts. If the weather permits I will try and sit outside with a couple of rule books, some colored pencils, graph paper, my iPod and just go to town.

Since Hannah and I started playing Dungeons & Dragons it has become one of the big highlights of our weekend. It will be a great distraction for us here in Juneau when the weather turns cold and we enter the darker months.

To Be Continued…

Battlemat Review

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Ever since I have been getting into Dungeons and Dragons I have been researching battlemat options. Battlemats can be used to help display combat aspects of a D&D game. Some people like to use them, and some don’t. I do like to use them.

mat3Since I have started researching battlemat options I have been very disappointed with the reviews I have see on other websites and blogs. There seems to be one cream of the crop option when it comes to battlemat choices for D&D gamers. That would be Dwarven Forge sets. (Check them out on youtube) But I do find the Dwarven Forge option a little price prohibitive for me.

mat4Now after Dwarven Forge, the choices for battlemats are a little less clear. A friend of mine got the Paizo GameMastery Flip-Mat which is a double sided laminated mat with 1 inch by 1 inch squares drawn on it. Because it is laminated you can use just about any kind of marker on it and wipe it off when your done playing. But this battlemat does come to you folded, and you can fold it away for easy storage when your not using it. However it dose not lay down very flat as a result. Which I do find annoying.

Another option (and the one I went with) is the Chessex Battlemat. This is a vinyl mat with an overlying black 1 inch square grid on it. It came with some short directions on how to keep it clean. It lays down flatter then the Paizo mat. But you do have to take a little bit better care of it. You only want to roll it up for storage as folding it will cause creases. You only want to use water based markers on it. Like the kind you would use on an over head projector. You also want to stay away from red and purple, and orange markers as the ink used in these colors to stain the mat.

mat7The Chessex Battlemat came with some short and simple care instructions with it which I have found helpful. They also shipped to me here in Juneau Alaska very well. Using good post office packaging and peanuts to unsure the product came to be undamaged.

I have used this battlemat a couple of times now and it has gone over really well. I am glad I chose it. These pictures don’t show it very well but after a few minutes the mat dose lay down flat.

To be continued…

Playing Dungeons and Dragons

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With all the Dungeons and Dragons talking I have been doing (not only on my blog but with my friends and co-workers) it’s not supprising that some of us would finally get a game started. For the last couple of weekens I have been part of group of friends playing Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition. I am not DMing this game. Just playing as a character. (A half-elf rouge actually) It’s been a lot of fun hanging out with friends, laughing, joking, and just have a good time in general. Some of us have never played D&D before, and some of us have.

Playing the game as a player character has really been helpful to me in answer questions about DMing. It’s helping me understand  how the game is played and how a good DM should act and tell a story.

Since I have been playing with this group for a coupld of weeks now, I have started filling notebooks with Drawings and notes for the game I will eventually lead. I can’t wait to get started but am also glad to have as much prep time as I do.

Here are some pictures from the game i have been involved with currently as a half-elf rouge.

To be continued…

Richard Proenneke

Richard Proenneke Building His Roof
Richard Proenneke Building His Roof

The last couple of times I have gone back home to Washington State for a vacation, I have caught a film on P.B.S. called “Alone in the Wilderness“. It’s a film my mom and brother Abe, really enjoyed and they thought I would too.

This film is more of a documentary about Richard Proenneke, who retired in 1967 to Twin Lakes Alaska where he built his log cabin  home by hand, and all by himself. The film consists of shots of Proenneke performing tasks around his cabin, canoeing and walking, and views of wildlife, along with narration. For shots of himself (since he was alone), Proenneke fixed the camera in place, and then performed his tasks. This would necessitate him returning to the camera after walking or canoeing away.

Proenneke originality was creating this video intending to be used as step-by-step instructions for creating a hand-built structure. He lived in his cabin for 30 years, only returning to the lower 48 states occasionally to be with family.

In 1999, at age 82, Proenneke returned to civilization and lived the remainder of his life with his brother in California. He died of a stroke April 28, 2003. He left his cabin to the Parks Service.

Dungeons & Dragons: 4th Edition Books

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It finally came!!!

I made the plunge and picked up the Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set, 4th Edition containing all three core rulebooks. I also picked up some D&D Miniatures. I have been spending so much time researching Dungeons & Dragons on the internet, and talking about it with friends that I feel confident that picking up these D&D books will not be a waist of time or money. I can’t wait to get starting on them.

The Dungeons & Dragons books, as well as the Miniatures, came very well packed from Amazon.com. ( As you can see below ) The miniatures are very well panted and came with their own mini game as well. So for the cost it’s a great value.

The Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set came in very nice, durable slipcase. All the books are hard cover. After flipping through them a few times these books do feel like they could take a beating and not fall apart on you.

To be continued…

Dungeons & Dragons: Looking For Advice

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Having read the “Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition RPG Starter Set” a few times now my mind is filled with questions about the game. But the over all question I have is How dose this all work? I wanted to start finding people here in Juneau with D&D experience that I could ask my questions.

One of the first places I tried was a used books store in down town Juneau called Rainy Retreat Books. There I met a very nice gentleman by the name of Royce Metz. He and I got into a long talk about Dungeons & Dragons. He did his best to explain to me the differences of Dungeons and Dragons 3.0, 3.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 4.0. He gave me some great advice about playing the roll of the Dungeon Master.

Dragon Lance Chronicles Volume 1: Dragons of Autumn Twilight 1984He also suggested the first three books from the DragonLance Chronicles to read. That the books would give me some good ideas for adventures and quests. So for a few bucks I picked them up.

I also went looking online for advice. I figured that I could not be the only person online blogging about the journey to learn Dungeons & Dragons. But after many Google searches I came back with two links I think are worth mentioning at the moment.

The first one is from Wizards of the Cost. They are the current publisher of the Dungeons & Dragons books. They have a pod cast section on their website. In particular they have a pod cast with the guys from Penny Arcade and Player Vs. Player playing Dungeons and Dragons that can be found here. I have found this so helpful! You can listen to them play D&D 4th edition, and get a real good feel of the game mechanics and how everything works together! I think this is one of the most helpful things I have found.

The second link I found is for a website called Newbie DM. This is a guy who blogs about Dungeon Mastering and the tips and tricks he has found that works best for him. For me it’s been an interesting read learning how this DM runs his games and the tools he finds useful for himself and his group of adventurers.

I still continued to look around for people to talk to who have had experience playing the game. I even spoke with my older brother Reza, about this on the phone. I asked him if he had ever played Dungeons & Dragons. To my astonishment he had when he was a high school junior in Vancouver Washington. (My older brother is just as much of a geek as I am!)  Aside from needing the three core rulebooks, he told me a story about D&D. That back when I was much younger and we all used to live in Gridley Kansas, he had heard that a kid from near by Greenwood county, had killed himself. That one night while he was playing Dungeons & Dragons with some friends, his character had been banished to the Netherworld. This kid felt that the only way he could save his character from the Netherworld was to kill himself so he could go in after him. As my brother was telling me this story, I told him that I recalled hearing a version of it from my past. I might have even over heard Reza talking about this story with his friends or with our parents.

Mazes and Monsters vhs coverI can’t help but wonder if the story my brother and I heard was somehow related to the story of James Dallas Egbert III and what is refered to as the Steam tunnel incident. The steam tunnel incident is a set of urban myths wherein players enacting live action role-playing games perish. Mazes and Monsters is a 1981 novel based on inaccurate newspaper stories about the disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III from Michigan State University in 1979. A 1982, made for T.V. movie called Mazes and Monsters (staring Tom Hanks) was based on the book. Just for fun I have added the movie to my Netflix Que.

To Be Continued…