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Tips for Using Published Campaign Settings

The DIY Attic D&D Gaming Room by Gregory Han

You’ve got the D&D 3rd Edition-era Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, or maybe the Eberron Campaign Setting. Maybe you’ve read every damn one of those Dragonlance novels. Ever check out how many publications exist for the prolific Savage Worlds fantasy setting, Hellfrost? Think of all the folks that have read Tolkien’s novels, all of his letters, own Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle-Earth and can speak fluent Sindarin! Remember that guy who’s memorized every detail of Star Fleet command and the technical manuals for the various versions of the Enterprise?

Some folks have encyclopedic knowledge of a setting, and others own a campaign setting book that is as big as — and maybe reads as boring as — an entire set of Encyclopedia Brittanica.

How do you use these things? What is the actual value of the word count if you end up setting your game in just one region, covered in 4-5 pages of a 320 page tome? Let’s look at some options!

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Baby Bestiary Table Now Available for Free

Tables for Baby Bestiary Vol. 1 and 2

Metal Weave Games recently put out two volumes in the Baby Bestiary line, allowing us to Discover the Adorable! when it comes to the pups, kittens, foals, and kids of various monstrous races in our fantasy RPG campaigns. The books include tons of advice for training these monsters, world-building information, ecology, and more.

neuronphaser.com now brings you a Google Spreadsheet featuring a table of all the monstrous kiddos found in both volumes, but there’s more!

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Download the Brand New Monster Index for D&D 5th Edition

D&D 5th Edition Massive Monster Index

UPDATED 11/22/2016! We’ve added the monsters from Volo’s Guide to Monsters (Wizards of the Coast) and are currently working on adding Fifth Edition Foes (Frog God Games)!

We’ve just added a new 5E Monster Index to our Free Stuff section!

You can navigate to the continuously updated Google Spreadsheet version (click there, or on the image below, or on the Free Stuff page) and sort/download to your heart’s content, or you can click over to the Free Stuff page to download the PDF.

Please note that the PDF is rarely as up-to-date as the Google Sheet!

Whatever version you choose, the Monster Index contains all of the monsters and NPCs listed in the following sources:

Wizards of the Coast:

  • Curse of Strahd
  • Hoard of the Dragon Queen & Rise of Tiamat (AKA Tyranny of Dragons)
  • Monster Manual
  • Out of the Abyss
  • Princes of the Apocalypse
  • Storm King’s Thunder
  • Volo’s Guide to Monsters added!

3rd Party:

  • Tome of Beasts (by Kobold Press) added!
  • Adversaries & Allies (by Dan Layman-Kennedy, available at Dungeon Masters Guild)
  • Fifth Edition Foes (Frog God Games) coming soon!

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Ryuutama: Resources for the Natural Fantasy RPG

Ryuutama: Natural Fantasy RPG english cover

Updated from the original August 2016 article.

While the Ryuutama RPG’s creators run a fantastic website with a list of resources for the game, a small treasure trove of additional scenarios, add-on rules, and campaign world building advice exists on the internet. Let’s take a look at some of these, and I’ll try to update this as new things pop up!

(If you see something that should be included, shout out in the comments!)

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Cortex Plus finds a new home with designer Cam Banks

Margaret Weis Productions logo with the new Magic Vacuum logo

November 1, 2016 – Margaret Weis Productions has announced that Magic Vacuum Design Studio — Cortex Plus designer Cam Banks’ new RPG design house — will take over the design, development, and publishing of all Cortex Plus and Cortex Classic roleplaying games from here on out!

Read on and find out the sordid tale that has lead to what appears to be a new and brighter future for Cortex Plus!

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Note-taking for Published Adventures

Storm King's Thunder adventure flowchart

Awhile back, I posted an article covering a number of steps for in-depth preparation a Game Master can do to make published adventures run more smoothly and personalize them. As with all things, folks have all sorts of different learning styles, however, and while that article covered a few, there’s really a lot more ways to break down a published adventure module. Let’s deep-dive into some cool ways to break down an adventure module so you can find the method that works for you, and maximizes your prep-time!

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Review: Fantasy Roleplaying – An Omnibus of Opponents

Fantasy Roleplaying: An Omnibus of Opponents

Fantasy Roleplaying: An Omnibus of Opponents by Blackwing Productions (Jeremy Puckett) is a fantastic addition to the Cortex Plus Heroic Roleplaying line, bringing over a 100 new monsters to the game with great mechanics and showing off an awesome mix of styles, from D&D fantasy to classic folklore to Mythos monsters and more. It’s a bit weak in the looks department and doesn’t have enough art to be a real contender in the wider “Monster Book” market, but you can’t find a better resource if you’re playing Cortex Plus and need some foes!

Rating: Content 5/5 and Form 3/5.

Read on for the full review!

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Behold the Interactive Map of Faerun

Interactive Faerun Map

User loremaps posted a 3.5 Edition-era interactive map of Faerun in a thread at the official D&D Reddit. And it is crazy good, with some serious levels of detail when you click on any of the map reference pins!

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Review: Out of the Abyss

Out of the Abyss

If you’re looking for material to loot for your home game, this book is solid gold: evocative NPCs, a great variety of locations and plot threads, a superb mixture of railroady adventure path-style and wide-open exploration, and some incredibly iconic villains are the bread and butter of Out of the Abyss. But if you’re looking for a campaign to run from start to finish, the organization of topics and internal referencing is atrocious, and the adventure kicks in without preamble. DMs will be forced to put a lot of elbow grease into running this thing; expect a lot of note-taking, index-writing, and on-the-fly page-flipping. Luckily, it’s a great adventure, so it’s worth the work if you enjoy the prep phase of DMing. Even better, other folks have already put in the work for enterprising DMs, and that kicks this over the fence from Meh to Thumbs Up!

Rating: Content 3/5 and Form 4/5.

Buy the hardcover at Amazon

Read on for the full review!

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Review: Fantasy Roleplaying – A Registry of Rules

Fantasy Roleplaying: A Registry of Rules

Fantasy Roleplaying: A Registry of Rules by Blackwing Productions (Jeremy Puckett’s publishing company) is a fantastic supplement for a woefully under-appreciated game line. It provides a full complement of add-ons and some tweaks to re-balance core materials for different play styles, effectively creating a “complete” experience in Cortex Plus Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying: you’ve got all the core tenants of D&D gaming, including large-scale warfare, domain rulership, naval combat, and a ton of new character races and classes.

Rating: Content 5/5 and Form 4/5.

Read on for the full review!

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