Dungeons and Dragons. Isn’t it hard?

I’ve spoken to a lot of people who never started playing D&D because they were afraid it was too complex. Honestly, I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. Not everyone has the same brain when it comes to remembering rules and how to implement them. Some people get it right away. Some people struggle on their 20th game about exactly how a spell works.

You know what? That’s okay.

Here is the thing no one tells you when it comes to learning Dungeons and Dragons: Knowing the rules doesn’t matter.

At it’s heart, Dungeons and Dragons is a cooperative game. There are no winners or losers. Not knowing all the rules doesn’t give you a disadvantage, provided someone at the table is willing to help you along.

In my career as a Dungeon Master, I’ve taught many players how to play the game and took them through the first adventures, and many more after that! I’m a believer of teach as you go. From the moment the first game starts, you are playing. The how and why can all happen down the road. The story comes first and you get to be an active participant in that from the get go.

Interested in dipping your tow in and seeing what the game is all about? Contact me for more information!

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First Time Dungeons and Dragons?

Dungeons and Dragons is more popular than ever before. Between Stranger Things and Critical Role, more people have been exposed to it than ever before. It’s fun to watch and invites visions of high adventure and dark dungeons. For some, actually starting a game can be intimidating, however. It seems like there is so much to know. What books does someone even need? Do you need to read the whole thing?

At Chicago Dungeon Master, we specialize in first time gamers. We supply everything you need, form dice to character sheets. Don’t worry about knowing the rules; we’ll teach you as you go. Give us a few minutes and you’ll be slaying goblins and saving the village. We can run a single game, or an ongoing campaign. We’ll take care of all the hard work for you.

Interested? Contact us for more info!

Making D and D One-Shots Work

One of the problems many people run into during one shots is linking the characters together. If you’ve met in a tavern once, you’ve done it a thousand times. I have a little technique I like to use to link the party together and let players develop some fun backstory in the process.

At the beginning of the game, I give everyone an index card. They make up something from their backstory and write it on the card. Once everyone has done that, they pass it to their left. That person gets to figure out how they were connected to that event and they write that on the card. That whole process is repeated one more time. By the end of it, every character at the table is connected to a few of the other ones and I have some great info to work into my plot.

Interested in a Dungeons and Dragons one shot like this? Chicago Dungeon Master currently has slots open for one shots, as well as ongoing campaigns. Contact us for more information!

Dread: The Game of Terror and Jenga

Rarely have I played a game as satisfying and easy to learn as Dread. There are no dice in this one. Instead of rolling when characters want to complete a task, they pull a block form a Jenga tower, plane and simple. If the tower stands, you’ve made it… for now. If it falls, well, it looks like the monster has caught up and unfortunately, your character won’t see the end credits.

As it is used to run horror stories, the mechanic is perfect. Nothing rattles the nerves like trying to pull a block out of a rickety tower as the killer creeps up behind you. Trying to hold your hand steady while your character tries to get the car started in time is thrilling. Your friends will root for you… kind of. If you knock down the tower, that means they are safe for just a little bit longer.

Interested in giving it a go? Chicago Dungeon Master currently has slots open to play! Contact us for more information.

Call of Cthulhu

Not all RPGs make you larger than life heroes. In Call of Cthulhu, you play a lowly human in a universe full of otherworldly horrors. Beneath the surface of reality lay a mass a writhing tentacles, strange beings from the stars, and untold dangers that slumber in the deep, waiting for when the stars are right.

At it’s heart, Call of Cthulhu is a game about mysteries. Your human might be a priest, a taxi driver, or a criminal, but they will all be investigators. Can you find the clues and thwart the evil before it’s to late? In Call of Cthulhu, rarely is anything that it seems at its base level. You’ll have to dig deeper and risk your mind and body to save the day.

Interested in learning how? Chicago Dungeon Master currently has slots open for one shots and ongoing campaigns. Contact us to learn more.

Vampire The Masquerade

A new edition of Vampire the Masquerade released earlier this year. For those unfamiliar, it is a table top role playing game in the vein of Dungeons and Dragons, but with a drastically different take. You are not heroes questing for gold and saving the land. Instead, you are a modern day vampire, controlling the world from the shadows while you fight a never ending war against your own kind.

Vampire the Masquerade takes place in our world, just a little different. That sewer grate leads to a secret vampire coven. The local newspaper is controlled by a Ventrue, who uses it to feed misinformation. Gangrel vampires prowl the parks, changing shape and feeding on those unlucky enough to cross their paths after dark. Nosferatu hide in the sewers, brokering information to those that will pay. The humans live their day to day lives clueless as to what hides behind every corner.

Interested in giving it a try? Chicago Dungeon Master currently has open slots of one shots and ongoing games. Contact us below for more information.

Strongholds and Followers for 5E

I’ve been on the fence about grabbing this book for a while. In theory it promises a lot of things that I love: Castles, stewardship, and Heroes becoming more than lone adventurers in the world. It becomes less about dungeon delving and more about leadership. I’ve read other books that tackle these issues, however, and rarely are they satisfying. Often, they’ll be needlessly complex without pay off. Either that, or they aren’t meaty enough, glossing over the difficulties inherent in rulership. I know that is a tall order to fill, but I kind of want both. I want it to be complex and comprehensive, but I want it to flow easily within the already established rule set.

Here’s the thing: the hardcover book and pdf are $30 plus shipping. That is a really good price for 269 pages worth of game material. I started seeing some good reviews of the pdf (the hardcover isn’t released yet) and decided to go for it . I’ve spent thirty bucks on worse things. Don’t ask me what those things are. You don’t really want to know.

First off, this book is gorgeous. The interior art is fantastic. While quite modern in appearance, something about it invokes an old school feeling which I enjoy. The layout is crisp and easy on the eyes. I appreciate the oft times conversational tone that the author, Matt Colville, slips into. It makes it accessible and gives you the feel that your just hanging out with your DM while they explain some new house rules.

At the heart of the book is Strongholds. Matt uses it as a bit of a broad term when it comes to what it covers. This isn’t just a keep on the borderlands somewhere. It is that, but it’s also temples and theaters, inns and pirate ships. Lets not forget barbarian camps. Basically, it’s some sort of structure that your character owns that interacts with the world around them. It provides defense or information. It puts you closer to your god. Best of all, it provides some awesome powers.

When you’re in your stronghold, you basically have the equivalent of monster’s layer actions. One of my favorites is the band that shows up to play while a bard fights. Each of these stronghold abilities are pretty flashy and rank pretty high in the cool factor. They are all class appropriate, from a rogue being able to hide their allies in their domain to a barbarians war cry allowing their allies to frenzy right along side of them. Woe be to the person who tries to attack you in your stronghold.

Strongholds have levels between 1-5 and complete rules to build, maintain, and upgrade them. Like much of 5E, this is an homage to earlier editions where it was just assumed you gained one of these along the way. It was just a default character ability. Also like much of 5E, this book has streamlined the process and spelled out exactly how it works. The mechanics integrate right into the role playing and vice versa.

But strongholds are only half the game. Another throw back to earlier editions are the followers. When you build a stronghold, people hear of your exploits and come to follow you. Retainers, masons, soldiers, alchemists… there is something for everyone. The book expands upon this concept from previous editions, however. Artisans give you mechanical bonuses and more crafting power. Followers are like simplified characters, taking away some of the book keeping of running multiple characters. You get a lot of rad but not a lot labor. Normally, this would be a turn off to me, but it seems Matt really did it right.

In case having a few followers to do your bidding isn’t enough, you can also raise an army. There are many references to a future book that will cover warfare farther, but this one has a good start. Like everything else, it’s streamlined to allow the characters to remain the biggest and baddest, but seemingly satisfying at the game time. I was a bit disappointed when I saw it didn’t involve scores of minis. On the other hand, it uses simplified character sheets for units that are about the size of a post card. It’s quick and reasonable and allows you to focus on the real heroes: The PCs.

Interested in playing a Strongholds and Followers campaign? Ready to lead the hordes into battle? Contact me for more info, Chicago. I currently have slots open on the calendar for one shots and ongoing campaigns. Let get together and roll some dice.