Nine Items Your Tabletop Character Should Always Carry

Nine Items Your Tabletop Character Should Always Carry

Nine Items Your Tabletop Character Should Always Carry

Icarus

Creative thinking can lead to some of the greatest moments in a player’s tabletop roleplaying game career. Ask any long-time player and they can tell you story after story of ingenious ideas and their crazy outcomes. Thinking outside the box on how a spell can be used or using an item in an unconventional way can lead to some truly spectacular results and even better, help the players feel like the heroes they’re playing! Although there is a lot to track, such as abilities, allies, story progression, and a million other things, here are nine items guaranteed to prove their usefulness in any campaign.

Marbles/Caltrops

Whether you just found out the cellar rats weren’t quite as small as you were told, or a being just a little late in stopping the cultist leader from summoning the all-powerful demon, sometimes fighting just isn’t an option. That’s when someone emptying a bag of marbles or scattering some caltrops could prove very useful. They can cause enemies to fall, maybe take some damage, but no matter what, they’ll do exactly what you need most. Buy some time so you and the party can “tactically retreat” and rethink how you’re going to do this.

Box of Matches

As simple as starting the campfire after a day’s travels to burning down the bad guy’s lair. I doubt you would be surprised how much one match can light on fire. Often however, stealth is key. Although a normal torch can certainly light other objects on fire, it’s pretty to notice. One might suggest using a magic item but ultimately, who wants to reduce their wand of fireball to what is essentially a lighter. A box of matches is cheap, easy to carry, and can be used by anyone.

Chalk

There’s lots of great things about chalk. It comes a lot of colors, is extremely cheap, comes in a bunch of colors, and can be used to draw on nearly anything. Probably the most obvious use is for scouting ahead and finding a safe path for the rest of the party. Especially if there are some who aren’t quite as agile or quiet as the party rogue. Coming up with a simple color code is a snap and can even add a depth of flavor that sometimes is absent in dungeon crawling.

Mirror

For those of you who may not know, there are a lot of things that could do some nasty damage just by looking into their eyes. Basilisks and Medusas can easily overwhelm an adventuring party if they’re not careful. Regardless of genre, a mirror on handle used to look around a corner could prove the difference between a stab in the back or success.

Leather Pouches

Along your travels, you’re bound to collect different knick-knacks and trinkets of different kinds. Whether it be an extra measure of rope, tools of the trade, weapons, or simply extra storage space, a leather pouch can be attached to nearly anything including pant legs, backpacks, or animal companions.

Along the same vein of extra vials and bottles, leather pouches can prove invaluable for a number of reasons.

Blanket

There are so many uses for blankets. Besides providing warmth, they can be used for an impromptu torch, handling hazardous material, poor-man’s disguise, rope for tying objects together, emergency shelter, and even in extreme cases, a weapon. Although certainly not optimal in nearly any situation, a blanket’s near universal utility makes it a necessary item in the pack.

Manacles

One important moment each player group eventually realizes, not every enemy needs to be killed. In some cases, it is advantageous to capture enemies. Maybe the captured enemy can tell the party some useful information, used as an enemy interest, or lead them to previously inaccessible areas. The trick is, there aren’t a lot of enemies who will generally turn coat just because they were beat in a single fight. Less, if they’re dead. A simple solution is to carry a pair of handcuffs. They make it hard to get away unnoticed, fight you, or generally being uncooperative.

Paper

One word. Notes. Not only is important for a player to take notes on the world and story they’re playing, but player characters also should have a collection of paper to use. At the very least, something the character can use to take notes of the world around them. This can be useful for identifying obscure glyphs, storing important paperwork, and general information collected from journals, scrolls, etc. It’s one small thing that pays for itself over the course of a campaign.

Knife

I’m not talking about a dagger. Instead, use a solid survival knife to split kindling, shimmy open a door, pry open compartments, cut rope, or scratch signals in a tunnel. They’re small and having a designated, normal knife will make sure all your other weapons stay in tip top condition.

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Seven Tabletops to Try Next Game Night

Seven Tabletops to Try Next Game Night

Seven Tabletops to Try Next Game Night

Icarus

Dungeons and Dragons is great and all, but even the most devoted players need a break once in a while. Here are a couple of ideas for different games you can run on your next game night. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even extend it for another night or two.

Shadowrun

One could say that if classic Dungeons and Dragons is to medieval fantasy then Shadowrun would be the same but set in the near future. Shadowrun is an excellent blend of guns, magic, and cyberpunk. Let me tell you, it’s pretty to mow down an undead dragon with your grenade launching dwarf, drone-building elf, and dual pistol human wizard. It’s similar quite a bit to traditional Dungeons and Dragons in both rules and worldbuilding, which makes it a common starting point for branching out into other tabletop roleplaying games.

Call of Cthulhu

H.P. Lovecraft is well loved by many horror enthusiasts. Call of Cthulhu is great at both building suspense and making the players doubt any decisions they make. Although the rule system isn’t as intuitive as others, Call of Cthulhu more than makes it up in the intricate lore, immersive setting, spine-tingling tension. The best part is when you spend the night trying help your friends escape your worst nightmare only to find out that you’ve really been setting yourself up as the ritual sacrifice for bringing back an ancient squid god. Just saying.

Star Wars

Combine the fact that Star Wars has perhaps one of the largest fanbases of any fandom and the already established lore, you have the near perfect recipe for a great night. I mean who wouldn’t want to be a giant raging Wookie like Chewbacca, smooth-talking smuggler like Han Solo, or a Force-wielding Jedi. Maybe you even want a taste of the dark side. There’s plenty of options like playing a stormtrooper, bounty hunter, or the legendary Sith. There are hundreds of planets, starships, and trading posts that could be travelled, and so many races, classes, and backgrounds, you’re bound to keep coming back time and again.

Pathfinder

Dungeons and Dragons isn’t the only fantasy tabletop RPG on the market. While considered to some to be an improvement to D&D 3.5 (a version already highly regarded to many in the community), one of the greatest highlights is how customizable a character’s options truly are. With so many options, it can get a little easy to be overwhelmed with all the rules. On the bright side, the system itself is so generic that nearly any player, whether old or new, can pick it up with some time and make it a great night.

Mutants & Masterminds

Superheroes are all the rage right now. Marvel Studios has been hitting it out of the park the last few years and DC Comics hasn’t done too bad either. Superheroes have a great way of inspiring greatness. Whether it be playing an up and coming hero still trying to figure out their powers or a near invincible Superman saving the world on a daily basis, in Mutants & Masterminds there’s plenty of potential to be the hero of a hundred different stories.

GURPS

GURPS is an acronym for General Universal Roleplaying System. GURPS is great because it’s so… universal. Almost acting a common, higher set of rules, GURPS allows for several tabletop RPG systems to work together in unison. This is especially great if you only have a certain number of friends, each of whom use different rule sets. One player may particularly want to play a dragonborn sorcerer while another wants to be a Klingon starship pilot and yet another plans to be the Human Torch. Although complicated at first, GURPS is flexible enough to handle any player’s creative ideas. At the very least, it’ll make for quite a story.

Anything You Can Think of

It’s kind of a cop-out to say something like this but that’s the beauty of tabletop roleplaying games. From Mass Effect to Pokémon, there are rule systems for almost anything you can think of. If you can’t find one that you think would be particularly good, there’s no shame in modifying another system. Just credit where credit is due, be responsible, and if you need some help, there are plenty of videos, subreddits, and books that can help. Just get out there and play!

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Setting the Scene in Urban Fantasy Roleplaying Games

Setting the Scene in Urban Fantasy Roleplaying Games

Setting the Scene in Urban Fantasy Roleplaying Games

iGeekOut

One of the most important aspects of any successful roleplaying game session is one that is unfortunately overlooked all too often. That aspect is knowing how to set the scene properly. Good thing that setting the scene in an urban fantasy roleplaying game isn’t all that difficult, and really doesn’t take much effort on your part…at least, it doesn’t as long as you keep these suggestions in mind that is.

Know Your Group

While there are many things that you can do to help set the scene in an urban fantasy game, arguably one of the most important things that you should first do is know your group. After all, you could have the best campaign in the world, the most interesting story arch, and the most tempting prizes to be won…but if your group doesn’t enjoy themselves then it’s all for naught. One of the best ways that any game master can get to know their group is to conduct a bit of an interview with them. This allows you to get to know the members, and their characters, what they envision as their background and motivations, and help you tailor your stories to match the inevitable quirks that each person ha, and even turn those quirks into additional story hooks later on.

Seek Inspiration.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting some inspiration from as many sources as possible in order to improve your gaming session. One of the best ways that you can do that is to read some stories or watch movies or television that can provide ideas. Some of the best movies that you could use to get ideas from can be found in our article Top Five Urban Fantasy Movies – 2016. As you watch any of these movies, pay particular attention to the pacing of the story, how each of the elements that make up the adventure build up on one another, and make the overall experience stronger. Emulate this as you are planning out your next encounter.

Preparation is Key

While improvisation is always fun, don’t overlook the power of preparation. Think about your story arch and then write it out, preferably as an outline. As you are doing this you will want to keep in mind what you liked, and disliked, in similar movies, television shows, and books that you have read or watched recently. Take your time as you do this, and try to come up with as complete of a story as possible. When you have finished, set it aside for at least a day before you pick it back up. This time, as you look through the outline and notes you have created, approach it as a member your group. What would they do, and how would they react to each of the elements presented? Don’t forget to do this for each of the members in your group, and make notes allowing you to account for each. Re-write your encounter with this in mind and you are almost ready.

Use Props

Just because you are playing a roleplaying game doesn’t mean that you can’t use props. The game master for one of the best gaming groups that I have ever belonged to used to actually put together a “news report” that he would present to us throughout the gaming session. This report was made to look like a newspaper, and would include random stories for what has happening in the world we were playing in. What was best (at least for us players) was that invariably our exploits from the previous gaming session were located somewhere on the “front page.” You don’t necessarily need to go to such lengths, but taking the time to prepare some sort of a prop or two will definitely help set the scene properly, and increase the fun for everyone involved.

Set the Mood

Don’t overlook the power of music to help set the mood. Television shows and movies all use music to help set the mood for what is happening, and oftentimes authors will include a playlist of the music that helped set the mood for them while they were writing their stories. There are a number of ways that you can do this, some of which require more thought and effort than others. Perhaps the easiest way is to use the soundtrack to your favorite television show or movie that is in line with what the group will encounter for the evening. IF you are willing to spend a little more effort, you can always put your own playlist together and thus make it truly personalized for your session.

So, while these are definitely some methods that you can use to help set the scene in urban fantasy roleplaying games they are just that…some of the methods. This list is by no means the only things that you can do, rather it is only the start. Truly the best way to set the scene for your next roleplaying game session is by using your imagination. You (and to a lesser extent your group) are the only ones that will be playing. What works for one group may not work for another, just be sure to have fun.

Will Pokémon GO Be Ready for July Release?

Will Pokémon GO Be Ready for July Release?

Will Pokémon GO Be Ready for July Release?

Bob McFadden

This was the news that everyone was hoping for as Nintendo Treehouse streamed live from E3. Thousands watched with fingers crossed, praying to hear some type of release date. The Pokémon GO demonstration was rolling by, pretty much as expected, when YouTube personality JWittz went off-script and asked for a specific release date for the Pokémon GO Plus wearable device.

The moderator responded to this event as seen in this image: absolutely shocked at the sharp turn that the conversation had taken. The crowd hushed, as everyone was aware of what could be approaching. Everyone was even more shocked when Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto laid down the law with his personal expectations for launch. As Nintendo translator Raymond Elliget interpreted, Miyamoto began “So we actually wanted to get it out towards the end of July,” and then continued, looking over towards the Niantic employee, “but listening to the conversation earlier, we’re gonna be okay, right?” At first, there was a stunned silence as people tried to understand what had just happened. The President and CEO of The Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, clarified, “That’s next month.” And JWittz shouted out to the crowd, “July!”, which resulted in a round of screams and cheers from the crowd.

Ishihara, Masuda, and Miyamoto, (from The Pokémon Company, Game Freak, and Nintendo, respectively,) all comfortably smiled and laughed, clearly pleased with the audience’s response. Meanwhile, right in the center of it all, Niantic employee Tatsuo Nomura was having a very different reaction: “Did he just say July?” He immediately threw the brakes on the hype train, laughing uncomfortably and clarifying, “So, we’re talking about Pokémon GO Plus right?” The cast of Nintendo all-stars laughed even harder at this, with Miyamoto holding his hand to the GO Plus on his lapel, half-agreeing and half-eye-rolling, “Yeah, we’ve gotta get this first.”

That Niantic employee, Nomura, is no scrub. He is a senior product manager who has been involved in this project since the very beginning, being a central part of the Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge that began back in 2013. He even personally makes an appearance in that April Fools video. He knows more about the current state of the app’s development than anyone else on that forum. And his clearly-uncomfortable reaction to an expectation for a July release is telling. At the very end of the Q&A, he reaffirmed, “We didn’t really announce the launch date yet, but right now, at this moment, the team is working to make the game. So please look forward to it. I’ve gotta start working right after this.” He certainly looked stressed over the pressure of constantly working to get a satisfactory game out on time. In response to Nomura’s slightly-panicked demeanor, Miyamoto held up his operational GO Plus device and reminded him, “We are ready now.”

Nintendo is ready now. Niantic isn’t. You can almost feel the slight tension between these two entities during the Q&A. The overseers of the Pokémon IP pointed out that they have commanded Niantic to take the catching system and “re-do it” three times already, and they anticipate potentially doing it again. Niantic expected to be able to develop the game largely on their own, but Nintendo had different ideas about the process. It seems that this has led to a little bit of an us-versus-them struggle. The Pokémon GO game started out with huge dreams and ambitions: it would include catching Pokémon in unique environments, social trading, huge events, connectivity with the main games, and the availability of every generation of Pokémon. Most of these haven’t been implemented in the game in any form. Even Pokémon localization is currently only complete in some specific big cities such as Niantic’s home in San Francisco, and has yet to be implemented in much of the world. Some of those features were surely intended to be included at launch, while for others the plan might have always been for a later update. In any case, as the expected time for release draws closer and reality is beginning to set in, the makers of Pokémon GO will be satisfied if they can get a working capture system out on time. That has been the core focus, and things like trading and extended multi-player experiences will have to come later. On the logic of releasing a game that focuses almost solely on catching Pokémon, Ishihara explains, “This goes back to my philosophy of developing smart-phone games, where you bring out the core experience when you first launch the application. Then, as people stick with it and they are wanting more depth of game-play, we add on more functionality and new features to keep people interested.”

Ishihara showed off the game a little bit, including his 3312 CP Arcanine. His super high-powered Pokémon reveals, as he admitted, that he has been playing this game every day for months. Game Freak’s Junichi Masuda also gave us a demonstration of Pokémon encounters. He approached the game demo very gingerly. He decided not to throw a Pokéball at an Abra with incense surrounding it, likely because he was aware of a known bug where that incense cloud deflects any Pokéball thrown. He probably did not want this gameplay bug to be exposed in front of thousands of live viewers. So he ran away from the battle and entered one with a Paras. In this battle, the app froze entirely, which is an extremely typical experience with the app in its current state. As such, they were well prepared for this, and they had another phone running and on the ready, where they were able to encounter a Rattata. The crowd, oblivious to the intense amount of bug-dodging that had just occurred in order to avoid embarrassment, made the appropriate “ooh” and “ahh” sounds when the Rattata burst out of the Pokéball, and you could hear their applause when it was captured. The demo was successful, as far as anyone could tell.

The basic game is there, and it works in a lot of ways. But on a non-superficial level, the game is still riddled with crashes and bugs. Frustration with this is inevitable while playing for any length of time. Some of the beta testers have even refused to update, or have abandoned beta testing out of frustration. This, of course, does nothing but compound the problem. Niantic has been in full-on flop-sweat mode trying to get the app operational. People already had super-high expectations, and they’re probably freaking out now that Miyamoto threw lighter fluid on that fire.

Niantic released update 0.27.0 on the day after the Q&A, which resolved one of the most prominent bugs where a Pokémon defending a Gym would not faint upon reaching 0hp, making them impossible to defeat. But in their attempt to resolve this and other issues, the update was widely believed to have even more crashes than before. Niantic didn’t take any time off for the weekend, and quickly updated to 0.27.1 on Saturday, which successfully sought to resolve some issues with crashing but once again caused additional issues. This time, there was a bug where, when you click on a Pokémon in the Pokédex, sometimes it would go to a different Pokémon of the same type, leading some Trainers to accidentally release some of their favorite Pokémon. This bug was patched in another release over the weekend, without increasing the version number. On Monday the app received another quick update to bring it to 0.27.2. This most recent hotfix is warmly received, and has apparently stopped many of the crashing issues, and also addressed some annoying bugs. However, the app no longer prevents the screen from going to sleep on many phones, making the game more difficult to play.

Last we heard, there were only about four-dozen employees at Niantic trying to get this ball rolling, and if one thing is clear, there is certainly no lack of effort. Recently, there has been an update almost every day. Some of them have just been trading bugs for other bugs, and it has been a struggle, but progress is being made. They have already put in a lot of sleepless nights, and probably won’t see any rest until the app is publicly released. Will Pokémon GO actually be released by July? Meeting that deadline is going to be an absolute battle, but the heroes at Niantic are bringing a brutal warfare to the front lines of that battle. We are cheering them on, and I personally want to believe in them. And if they don’t make it, it certainly won’t be because they didn’t try.

Pokemon Sun and Moon E3 Coverage

Pokemon Sun and Moon E3 Coverage

Pokemon Sun and Moon E3 Coverage

Ben Flygare

Yesterday we were graced with some more great peeks at the upcoming Pokemon games, Sun and Moon, at this year’s E3 conference. For the first time in the franchise’s history, we got to see a live presentation of the first little bit of the game. Three new Pokemon were shown and we got an exciting new battle feature.

In the live stream we got to see the player go out in the wild for the first time after receiving their starter. The player on the stream chose Popplio. When the player entered the grass for the first time and a battle was initiated, our hearts stopped…only to be disappointed by a Ledyba.

During the battle we got a really good look at the new battle interface and the menu on the bottom screen. One new addition I am really excited about is on the bottom screen there is a sprite for each Pokemon in battle. When you click on the Pokemon, a menu pops up where you can see the changes to the stats of that Pokemon. For example, the player had his Popplio use “Growl” on the Ledyba and upon opening that new menu we could see that the Ledyba’s Attack stat had been lowered by one point. This is a much needed feature that I think many fans will be excited about using.

After that first battle the player finally encountered a new Pokemon! The Pokemon he ran into was the mongoose Pokemon, Yungoose. Yungoose will definitely be the “vermin” Pokemon of this generation much like its predecessors Rattata, Sentret, etc. It is a Normal type and has the abilities, Strong Jaw and Stakeout which gives more power when a Pokemon is switched into combat. After that we got both the regional bird and bug Pokemon of Generation 7. Pikipek is a small Woodpecker Pokemon and has the Keen Eye and Skill Link ability. It is Normal and Flying type and will be found on Route 1 of the new games. The other new comer is the regional bug, Grubbin. Grubbin is a pure Bug type and has the ability of Swarm.

The last feature that we got to see is one that I am really excited about. There will be a new battle option where 4 trainers can engage in a free for all. This will add a very exciting and interesting element to battles with other trainers.

Pokemon Sun and Moon will be released in North America on November 18, 2016. Look forward to more coverage as we receive it!

Pokemon Sun and Moon Update

Pokemon Sun and Moon Update

Pokemon Sun and Moon Update!

Ben Flygare

Today was another very exciting day for Pokemon fans as we got another great peek at the new games Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon!

With today’s announcement and trailer we finally got the names of the two new legendaries that will be present in their respective games. Those who choose Pokemon Sun will get to look forward to catching the mighty and noble lion Pokemon, Solgaleo. Solgaleo is a Psychic and Steel type with the ability of Full Metal Body, which allows no stat changes to the Pokemon regardless of Ability. Solgaleo will also be able to use the exclusive Steel move, Sunsteel Strike.

Lunala is the name of the legendary of those who pick Pokemon Moon. Lunala is a Psychic and Ghost type with the ability, Shadow Shield which will allow Lunala to take less damage if it has full HP. Lunala has the exclusive Ghost type move, Moongeist Blast.

No other new Pokemon got revealed with the trailer but we also have some names to people we saw in the first trailer as well as some new people. We also got a great look at the designs of the characters we will be able to play as.

Professor Kukui will be the professor of the Alola region and will definitely be one of the most eccentric professors we have had to date! He looks to be a carefree guy who wears his white lab coat loosely over a shirtless body.

Lillie is the newcomer we have yet to see so far and is the mysterious assistant to Kukui, She is the same age as your character and has personal reasons to be Kakui’s assistant. She loves to read and is not fond of having Pokemon fight with each other.

When the first trailer was shown I had pegged the rival as soon as I saw him and today it was confirmed! Meet Hau, your fun loving, food loving, and Pokemon rival in the Alola region! Upon your character moving to Alola, the big hearted Hau makes friends with you instantly. I really love the design of this character and is the first rival in a while that I am really excited to learn more about.

The other thing I am really excited about is the Alola region itself. We get to see a beautiful art piece that shows the four massive islands that consist of the region. The fact that we will be able to travel island to island is something that really makes me crave this game even more. As I said in my previous announcement, I am a huge fan of tropical settings and islands and the Alola region will definitely be my favorite region.

Pokemon Sun and Moon are introducing some very interesting new feature very unique to these games. The first feature is that the Pokedex that you will obtain is very special because it has a Rotom living inside. Rotom is a Ghost/Electric type Pokemon that likes to live in and possess electronic devices. With Rotom living in your Pokedex you will be able to communicate with it and receive a new take on the Pokedex!

The other new feature of the game is using the QR scanner to meet new Pokemon. You will be able to create QR codes on your 3DS system to allow other players to scan them and register them in their Pokedex. This new feature will allow exploring and meeting new species of Pokemon a lot faster and easier. I also speculate that Generation 7 will be introducing a lot more species of Pokemon than Generation 6 did and this allows you to fill your Pokedex that much quicker.

Pokemon Sun and Moon arrive in Japan and North America on November 18, 2016 and November 23, 2016 in the UK. Look forward to more coverage as we learn it!

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