Tag Archives: Role Playing Games

Failing Up(?) in Pathfinder Solo

Introduction

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Humble Bundle. It contained information to receive a free (or discounted) copy of the Pathfinder Beginner Box. Always on the lookout for new games (especially since we are in New Year, New Games), I filled out the required information. The shipment came a week or two before Christmas. I spent part of Christmas looking through the set and learned about the Pathfinder solo adventure.

Like the D&D counterpart, it comes with some premade characters, an abbreviated version of the player’s handbook and dungeon master’s guide, a set of dice, and additional character sheets. Unlike Dungeons and Dragons, it also includes a solo adventure for those of us with no friends. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Quinn likes to play RPGs with me.

Choose Your Own Death

I took some time the other day to play through the adventure. In fact, it took far less time that anticipated. The Pathfinder solo module runs like the old choose your own adventure games with some dice rolls mixed into the fun. Obviously, the mode lacks role playing. Unless you count the “WTF Dice” comment that I put in my notes as I was playing through.

Proof. Also, that “dead” there is not for me. But, it didn’t take long…spoiler alert.

Okay, I think I got ahead of myself a bit here. First, I needed to find the adventure. I lost the insert that told me where to go, so I searched online. That brought no answers. I finally found it after looking through both books in the box. Then, I started. It played like a choose your own adventure at first. Do I want to search for the thing killing wildlife for 10 gold? You betcha! Then, suddenly, I found myself in combat with a mangy old wolf.

Wait? Do I need to use one of the character sheets? I picked Wizard at first until it felt like keeping track of spells might be too much for a newbie like me. But, no, no character sheet needed. They give you all of the relevant information in the adventure. Okay, wolf, no problem. Dead in one round. Do I want to continue? You bet I do.

A giant snake? Ha! I laugh at the “challenge”. Also dead in one round of combat. But, the dice low rolled me a bit. Take this as a warning adventurer. Between this and the RPG calendar, solo adventuring amplifies bad luck. You can’t rely on your party members to help you out when things go wrong.

Things went wrong quickly. I disturbed a living statue. The dice rolls blew up in my face both ways. The statue killed me in spectacular fashion. Go to #17, the book instructed. “Yeah, you’re dead”, it said. No saving throw. No do over. Just died. But, hey, try again, loser.

The Verdict

Overall, I mostly enjoyed the Pathfinder solo adventure. I missed the interaction with other players and role playing aspect of the game. But, the action moved quickly enough to keep me interested and rotten dice rolls gave me the necessary danger to make it exciting. I think I might take another shot at it. Also, seeing the structure of the adventure inspired me to put together a series of my own to go with the duos I developed for me and Quinn.

Curse of Strahd: Finale?

Introduction

At the beginning of the month, I realized that I needed to play the role as DM in our humble school Dungeons and Dragons club. Thanks to Stranger Things, the game blew up this year and everyone wants to play. In a flash of inspiration (or dorkiness…or both), I decided to pick up a Halloween related adventure to lead a group through. This is the last week in October, so I expected to go out with a bang with our Curse of Strahd finale.

Best laid plans and all that. The sixth grade and, my entire play group, went on a field trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. They told me the day before that the trip would end around 3:30, which is when the group usually started to get antsy and disbanded for the afternoon. So, imagine my surprise when I heard a knock on the door at about 3:15.

Sometimes Teaching is About Cutting Your Losses

Initially excited to be able to lead the group again, that quickly changed. They took almost 20 minutes to settle down. One would say, “Let’s get started.” to the others, then jump up and another would repeat the process. So, I should have known that things might not go well.

When we finally sat down to play, things initially went okay and my fears started to subside. Then, one of the players tried “massaging” a die roll here and there. I called him out on it once during a “hit roll”. Towards the end of the session, I let one go. It was only an initiative roll. It felt like the right thing to do, but it clearly wasn’t.

Other than this week, things went well. I’m probably just overthinking things.

Another player got angry about it and refused to roll for his turn during combat. When we finally convinced him to do so, he rolled a hit and then intentionally knocked the die over to a miss. I threw my hands up and said, “Sorry, guys, I can’t do this today.” They started some in fighting and I laid my cards on the table. “No, it’s all of us. This just isn’t working right now. We’ll try again next week.”

Epilogue

If this ends up being the Curse of Strahd finale, it ends not with a bang but a whimper. I knew from the beginning that things might go sideways and they ended up doing just that. The fear that I ruined D&D for my family by not being a great Dungeon Master the one time that we tried to play is now rising with these guys. They asked the last couple of weeks to play more on Friday and now I leave them with this bad taste for week. Maybe I’m overthinking things. Even so, I think I might try to find another adventure to run for next week. One of them said that they wanted to fight dragons.

Curse of Strahd Part 2: For Real This Time

Introduction

Last week, our intrepid group played without two of their players. So, instead of continuing our adventures in Ravenloft, I convinced the remaining player to hack and slash his way through some goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. Other than a mishap with another player who joined the ranks, he enjoyed the experience. Check out that article for that summary. This week, our party plays Curse of Strahd Part 2 for real this time.

In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he asked for another hack and slash after one of their group got picked up early. They tried to convince me to let them keep playing the main adventure, but I got them to abandon that idea with some slick DMing. I’m getting the hang of this. But, join me for a quick recap of the adventures for this week.

Session 2: To the Attic to Get to the Basement

In anticipation of this week’s (it might have even been last week) session, I reviewed the map and where our party explored already. Since they are young, they don’t always think to check for traps or secret doors. So, this time I gave them some grace and more or less pushed them through those secret doors. Being a Dungeon Master is sometimes a delicate balancing act between rules guru and storyteller. Not with this group. With this group, I’m all storyteller and as a result, I sometimes need to dispense with the rules and take matters into my own hands.

So it became that they “found” the secret door to get to the attic and then “found” the secret door to get to the basement. I actually screwed up and needed to improvise by saying that one of them bumped the second secret door with their butt while searching the room. Of course, that got a laugh from all of them.

They also experienced a wider range of combat this time. Fighting both a specter and an animated broomstick got them some experience points and closer to leveling. And, isn’t that the real reason we all play this game? To grow ever more powerful and eventually challenge the gods themselves? Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But, by the end of their senior year, I expect that to happen.

The Verdict

Playing Curse of Strahd Part 2 (for real) went rockier than last time. I continually needed to remind them not to touch each other’s dice, not to hit one another, and not to swear. Honestly, much more on par with how I expected a Dungeons and Dragons group with middle school aged kids to go, so not a huge deal there. We only have one session left in October, but if they finish the introduction, maybe I can get them to play another theme adventure for November and December.

Curse of Strahd: Noob DM’s in Middle School

Introduction

I teach middle school and high school this year. Granted, I have more middle school classes than high school, but I prefer high school for now. I taught middle school over a dozen years ago and that ended in disaster, so maybe there is some residual processing that still needs to be done on that end. Last year, I took over for the Dungeons and Dragons club in the high school. This year, I also took on the middle school. A couple of the newbies wanted me to DM for them. I took advantage of Spooktober to lead them in a campaign with the adventure Curse of Strahd.

Session 1: Tarokka Cards and Creepy Kids

Another kid decided to join us for the session this week, so I had three players to DM. Even though they are all relatively new to the game and middle school kids, I felt nervous. When I tried to DM for my family, it went poorly and only Quinn asked to play again. I wanted to make sure that wouldn’t be repeated this time.

So, I took about an hour to read through the adventure ahead of time. I’m glad I took the time. I set the mood by reading from the Tarokka cards for them during the introduction. They loved it. I then wasted no time in getting them to Barovia by using the shortest method and dropping them right into the Death House mini adventure.

I worried I might lose them because, as the introduction says, “Curse of Strahd is more of a story driven than combat driven adventure” and they seem more like a hack and slash group. Plus, they missed many of the secrets in the beginning of the house. However, they got fixated on the stairs and ended up on the balcony fighting an animated armor. I also allowed them to loot the rooms along the way. That kept them going.

I finally got them to the point where they knew to look for secrets as much as possible. They got one of their partners to squeeze into a dumbwaiter to go up to the master bedroom. They looted the bedroom and are now in possession of almost 1000 gold worth of jewelry. I had so much fun and they did, too. They actually asked me to stay after today to continue the adventure.

The Verdict

I took the books home to do more research into the adventure so that it goes more smoothly next time. I ended up searching a little bit too much. Granted, they didn’t mind at all, but I want to get better as a Dungeon Master. Aiden said he’d play again if we got the Stranger Thing module. Of course, it now is a collector’s item, but I (*shhhh*) found a PDF of it. So, now I can use Curse of Strahd (and Quinn’s ghost pirate adventure) to continue to hone my skills for the next time we play as a family.

Pathfinder Introduction: A New RPG To Love

Introduction

Last night, I finally received my official Pathfinder introduction. A few months ago, Humble Bundle ran a deal that included a coupon for the Pathfinder Core Rule Book. I forgot about it until nearly the expiration date, then finally ordered the book. Yesterday afternoon, I pulled into my driveway. Several packages waited on the porch.

Due to the holidays, several packages on the porch has been a consistent sight over the last few weeks.

I assumed they both belonged to my wife. I thought one of them might finally be the anime Loot Crate that we ordered for Aiden for Christmas. He didn’t receive the one for Christmas because they were back ordered. The box read Pazio.com and a slogan that had something to do with an ogre or orc. I could look it up, but the box is all the way downstairs in the pantry waiting for dump day. I don’t have the time or energy to walk down there right now.

That only strengthened my assumption that it belonged to Aiden. Then, as I carried in the groceries and put them away, a thought occurred. Oh, this must be my Pathfinder book. Sure enough, that’s exactly what was in the box. Admit it, you read it in Brad Pitt’s voice. And, so, during dinner I read through the book to get my Pathfinder introduction.

The Great

Additions: Spoiler Alert: I’m going to talk about how familiar Pathfinder feels to D&D in the next section. You will see that I consider that to be a strength. However, why would I play this in addition to D&D (as I plan) if it was just a complete clone? Answer: I would not.

The first thing I noticed about the difference between Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons was the player character classes. More or less, the races are the same in both games. Also, Dungeons and Dragons expanded their offering of character classes, especially with some of the new Magic the Gathering worlds. While reading through the book, the alchemist and champion classes both jumped out to me. I mean, the champion is basically just a paladin. Perhaps I’m grasping at straws with this one. What can I say? Sometimes I’m an easy mark.

Is one class strong enough to propel this section? I leave it too you to decide, but give you the following as evidence. “The alchemist throws alchemical bombs and drinks concoctions of their own making.” That sounds pretty sweet to me.

Additionally, I enjoyed reading about the various subraces in the game. Finally, skimming the spells excited me at the possibilities. Yes, Pathfinder is a D&D clone. However, there is enough new content in the game to make it feel less like and expansion and more like another game I want to introduce to the family to see if I can get them to become a regular RPG play group. Yes, I refuse to stop trying to make fetch happen.

The Good

Familiarity: Regular readers of the page know all about my history with Dungeons and Dragons. So, please, bear with me while I catch up the newbies. I received a novel from my mother as a gift, Firstborn. It is the first book of the Dragonlance trilogy, The Elven Nations. Fun fact: I originally, for weeks, read that title as The Eleven Nations. Imagine how much more sense it made when I figured out what it really said.

That book led to me discovering the game upon which it was based. As is my personality, I became obsessed. I purchased the 2nd edition Player’s Guide and Dungeon Master’s Guide. Then, I got several of the monster manuals and other supporting books. I branched out into Spelljammer and Dark Sun. A friend and I played several of the MS-DOS games released at the time.

As I experienced my Pathfinder introduction, it took me back to those simpler times. I often say that I’m above nostalgia, but it’s simply not true. While I don’t experience it often, when I do it is strong. Pathfinder triggered that nostalgia strongly. I don’t want to say that it is a rip off of D&D, because that has a negative connotation. But, the similarities are strong. I believe that to be a good thing in this case.

The Decent

Complexity: Dungeons and Dragons simplified their rules over the years. They removed some things completely and tweaked others. I believe most of it is in the service of the player experience. At least, they explained most of the changes in that context.

I refuse to be one of those “things were better during D&D edition *fill in the blank*”. I grew up and played mostly 2nd edition, but I have dabbled in 3, 3.5, and most recently 5 when I played with the family. All I have to say is every edition feels like D&D, except for the d20 phase. I never could understand the reasoning behind that. Give me all the polyhedral dice.

The point of all this is that Pathfinder seems to have kept most of the complexity from D&D. I remember when I first learned of Pathfinder, via another Humble Bundle with adventures that I purchased, a friend told me that the game was more complex than current Dungeons and Dragons. Again, while not a deterrent to me, I found that even the minor bit of rules enforcing that I did during our family’s play group slowed the game down and made it feel like they weren’t having fun. Perhaps, it’s just something I needed to learn as a DM of a first time group. For now, Pathfinder will remain a game that I research until the family can put together an entire adventure in D&D.

The Verdict

It sounds like I already gave the verdict in the previous paragraph. So, what will I write here? That’s a good question. I honestly don’t know. My Pathfinder introduction was a positive one. Until we become more used to D&D and each other as a play group, I won’t try to play the game with the family. However, maybe I can use the game in the meantime to generate content for the page and try to extend reach.

D&D Horror Bundles: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Okay, this one is a lie, too. Sort of. Remember last time when I said that I would take this week to discuss games that we received for Christmas. Well, that’s not strictly true. I actually just pressed purchase on the D&D horror bundles from The Arcane Library about an hour ago. Since then, I’ve been looking at the adventures to see if they will, in fact, be good to try to get the family to play D&D again.

I mean, they do look pretty spoopy, not gonna lie. Picture cropped from The Arcane Library.

If this all seems to have come out of left field, you’re not entirely wrong. I mean, if you followed us on Twitter, you’d have seen that I was searching for an appropriate adventure to try to get the family hooked on Dungeons and Dragons. I want to get a weekly session going, if possible. This led me to purchase The Lost Mine of Phandelver on D&D Beyond before realizing that was the adventure we tried to play last year from the beginner’s set. Oh well, WotC can use the cash, I’m sure.

Well, Facebook ads finally got me this time. I saw an ad for The Arcane Library and visited it. Rarely does this ever result in me purchasing anything. However, this time it did. First, I downloaded the free adventure to see if the writing was any good. It’s very well designed. More on that in the review, obviously. Then, I bought the bundle meant to follow characters from 1 until level 20, I think. There may be some gaps needed to fill. Not entirely sure on that one. However, I then saw the D&D horror bundles. As the lone hold out from the first time, I think Aiden will get a kick out of some horror RPG. Let’s see if I’m right.

The Great

Writing: This doesn’t come as a surprise now that I’ve read the author’s biography on the web page. She’s a former journalist and English teacher. Nevertheless, and this will come as rich from someone who hasn’t edited a single post on this web page in several years, it is good to find web based content that isn’t riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Especially in a D&D adventure, that takes you right out of the fiction.

I did edit my 2 books. But, I wouldn’t call myself a good editor. Wait, you didn’t know I wrote two books?

Well Organized: Along with the good writing, the adventures follow the well established outline for adventures set by the official versions. Each adventure starts with a synopsis and some background. This is followed by some nuts and bolts to further explain. Each encounter flows smoothly, building a rich tapestry of the story. As I read, I saw how the encounters worked and, more importantly, how they worked together.

The Good

Minimalist: Piggy backing off that last point, the books contain only the information needed to continue the story. I feel like part of the reason our play session last year got bogged down was all of the reading necessary to run the adventure. As a DM, I try not to be a rules extremist when playing D&D, but I think I might have just been nervous. I really wanted my family to enjoy playing D&D with me. It just felt like a natural play group.

Maybe I just need to stop trying to make “fetch” happen. I won’t, though.

Horror: Granted, it is mostly up to me to set the proper mood. However, if you’re going to advertise an adventure as horror, there should obviously be the seeds of that horror in the adventure. These accomplish that quite nicely. I already said that I saw the story grow as I read the notes. The same can be said for the horror setting. These stories have great creep factor.

The Decent

Story: This may seem strange given all the nice things I’ve already said. However, even as a criticism, please understand that this is minor. To be fair, it’s said that there are only 7 types of stories that can be told anyway. This may even be more limited in science fiction and fantasy settings. Even the official adventures are limited in their scope. Just know that these stories aren’t terribly original. But, they are still very good.

How well did I straddle that fence? Eh? Eh? Meh…

Not beginner friendly: Look, I also understand that if you are considering a non paying career as a D&D DM, you probably aren’t a beginner. With that being said, everyone gets their start somewhere. But, if you are getting your start as a DM, I wouldn’t recommend these adventures as your first campaign. They’re just so sparse in their notes for DMs.

The Verdict

The D&D horror bundles from The Arcane Library are, overall, very good. The stories are compelling enough. They have a definite horror vibe, even just from reading through them. That can, obviously, be tuned to your individual play group. I don’t regret purchasing them or the other bundle one bit. Now, I just have to get my family to want to play them. Stay tuned for that.

High Score Episode 3

Introduction

Thank goodness for High Score episode 3. After episode 2, I was worried that it was a one hit fluke. Even early in this episode, I started to wonder if it was going to be worth my time. Even though it took a bit to warm, up, eventually I was sold again. Plus, it looks like episode 4 is about SEGA!

This one centered around role playing games and their impact on video gaming history. I have been a role playing game enthusiast since I discovered Dungeons and Dragons through The Elven Nations trilogy. I then read the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends and I was hooked.

Ken and Roberta Williams – “Nerds in Love”

This is the part of the episode that I thought was going to continue the slide into mediocrity. It was a story of a man and a woman who bonded over their mutual love for both role playing games and programming. Actually, I think only one of them was a programmer. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised.

I don’t know if I just had a hangover from the Nintendo episode or what. But, initially, I reacted quite viscerally to this love story. However, as they both told their story and the episode incorporated more stories into the tapestry and I walked out with a warm and fuzzy feeling for these two people. Good story and great story telling.

Dungeons and Dragons – “Cult Following”

As soon as they mentioned Dungeons and Dragons in the episode, I knew they’d drag up the old Satanist fears. Granted, they telegraphed their move a bit by calling it a “game with a cult following”. Plus, the mention was minor and barely even registered. I was much more bothered by their coverage of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. I don’t mean how they covered it. Simply, it brought up bad memories and made me realize, yet again, that we simply don’t learn from our pasts.

Random Fact: It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these. But, it’s one of the few “fun” facts that I have from the wild and crazy D&D games of my youth that people will actually care to hear. The “Satanic cult” rumors about the game traveled so far and wide that the company (TSR at the time) chose to change the name of their Wicca to Wokani out of respect to the witches. So, those of you who say that WotC are being to PC. They might be, but D&D has a long history of being inclusive.

Checkmate, mad nerds.

Final Fantasy – “Born of Art”

Final Fantasy has been with me almost as long as Dungeons and Dragons. I played the original Final Fantasy Legend I and II on the original Game Boy. Yes, that green screened monolith of portable gaming entertainment. The Final Fantasy Legend I, along with Final Fantasy 3 (V in Japan, I think…nope, VI), are two of the best games that I’ve ever played. I don’t know if I’d put them both in my top 5, but they’re definitely top 10.

The most interesting part of this story was the way that they introduced the game. They showed and talked to an artist. Even though I didn’t remember his name, I knew as soon as I saw his art exactly what game they were talking about. It’s just so iconic. Even though back in the 8-bit days, it barely did him any justice, you could still see the seeds of that art in those tiny sprites. Also, he was a good sport about it and said the conversion process made them “cute”.

Who can beat the twist of the Creator ending? Plus, he is cute for a murderous demagogue.

Gay Blade – “The Game is the Quest”

I alluded to this section earlier when I talked about their coverage of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It is told through the context of a gay and lesbian RPG created by a programmer named Ryan Best. I’d never heard of the game before, so the entire story behind the creation, loss, and subsequent discovery of the game again was truly inspiring. I’ve found a link to the game, so I’m probably going to download and play through.

Well, during the story, they went through the 1980s and the reaction to the AIDS crisis. There was the whole gamut of the “AIDS is God’s retribution for homosexuality” from the right wing nutters of the day. Note: Many of those nutters or their proteges are still alive today. So, I’m not sure why I expected things to have changed. But, this story affected me deeply and I found myself crying during the telling.

I mean, simply the quote at the top, “Vaporize politicians! Zap skinheads!” makes it worth the download.

The Verdict (High Score episode 3 is a redemption)

After the let down of episode 2, I was questioning my undying support of the series. Even early in High Score episode 3, I wondered if the first episode was just a fluke. I’m glad that I didn’t overreact and turn it off. This episode was amazing. And, I can say with utmost confidence that episode 4 is fun as hell, too. Join me next time when I review probably my favorite time in history, the Sega/Nintendo rivalry.

Pokemon Tabletop United RPG First Look

Pokemon Tabletop United RPG first look? Yes, as usual, I’m behind the times. It looks like the game was a labor of love by some fans and they’ve stopped updating and supporting it. That’s fine. From just a quick perusal of the rulebooks and “start here” message, it seems like they actually got a solid game put together.

Oh, you mean you weren’t aware that there was a Pokemon tabletop RPG? If I’m being honest, neither did I. After I decided to make this Pokemon week, I went searching for one. I’m surprised that WotC hasn’t jumped on something. Maybe they just own the rights to the TCG and can’t develop beyond that. Eh, a quick Google search would probably turn up an answer.

That quick Google search turned up that the exactly own the patent to the CCG and therefore, probably can’t develop an RPG. It’s almost like I know what I’m talking about.

As with my D&D Ravnica article, I’m only going to go through some of the lore and the character creation process. It’s been too nice here after being locked up for too long to sit around playing an hours long session of an RPG lately. I’m sure we will end up playing it at some point at least with Liam and Quinn because they’re both big Pokemon fans. And, there has to be a rainy day or two at some point over the next few months, right?

The Great

In Depth – To be perfectly honest, it might be a little too in depth. But, more on that later. I’m impressed that this is simply a labor of love by fans of Pokemon. There is just so much information in this game. Also, it is presented in a professional way. I was excited to discover the game. After reading through some materials, I can’t wait to play an actual game to see if it lives up to my hype.

This is an excerpt from the Character Creation chapter. Doesn’t that look like something WotC could have released. I want to play this game!

Well Integrated – Similar to the Ravnica book that I reviewed previously, it would have been easy for them to just slap the Pokemon name on an already established RPG and call it a day. Of course, it would have been much more disappointing if a big company like WotC had done that. I would have forgiven these guys for taking shortcuts in developing their Pokemon game. But they didn’t and bully on them!

The Good

Good Walkthrough – In keeping with the praise, they have a good walkthrough to help in creating a character. There are explanations, examples, and a thorough step by step process. Somebody should pick this game up and continue to develop it. Yes, I realize I’m somebody. Who knows, maybe I will.

From the looks of it, I either need to become a lady or grow a beard and get some sweet looking glasses.

Supplements – In addition to the main DM/Player’s Guide, there are 3 supplementary books. And that’s not even including the Alola Pokedex that is included. One deals with legendary Pokemon. One introduces sci-fi elements. The last fleshes out the supernatural. Did I mention that I got all of this for free? Man, I love the internet sometimes.

The Decent

Errata – There is also errata for the game based on some play testing. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but there can be such a thing as too much information. It’s a lot to take in initially. Yes, there is always the RPG rule of forgetting things that you don’t want to use. Even so, a new player is sure to be overwhelmed at this point.

Too In Depth? – As I mentioned earlier and, following up on that last point, the game might be a bit too in depth. I don’t think that it is. However, I am a 30 year veteran of RPGs. I know how to navigate the landscape. For new players, like Chris, all of the information is overwhelming. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that the game never took off and isn’t being updated anymore.

Again, I don’t think so. But, a former student once compared me to Mewtwo, so I’m pretty much a super genius.

The Verdict

Thanks for reading my Pokemon Tabletop United RPG First Look. I never did get around to making a character, but I surely will over the next few weeks. Then, when we get a rainy day, maybe we can play some D&D and this game. I’ll be back with a more in depth review after that. If you’ve played the game and want to let me know how it went, email, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter us!

D&D: Welcome to Joizha

Introduction

Welcome to Joizha! Yesterday, on Facebook, I got the question, “When did you start playing Dungeons and Dragons?” The person followed up that they hadn’t heard of the game until high school. So, here’s my story. And, I promise this time it will be a short one.

My mother bought me a book when I was in middle school. It was called “Firstborn: The Eleven (This isn’t correct. Spoiler Alert.) Nations Trilogy”. I read through the entire book and then went searching at Waldenbooks (if you need further proof that I’m old) for more. I don’t think I found the second book in the trilogy, but I did find the Dragonlance Chronicles series.

But, I promised quick and this is already going too long for some of you, I’m sure. It wasn’t until I read the second and, maybe even after I finished the trilogy, that I realized it was the Elven nation. Oh, that makes sense. Sithel and Kith-Kanan are elves. Also, there aren’t 11 nations.

You’d think the angry looking elf king on the front page would have been the only clue I needed.

In any case, that is how I ended up being introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. From the novels, I moved on to the game as most do. First, I purchased the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide when I was in high school. I don’t remember if my friends at the time played the game or if I got them into the game. I think it was a mixture of both. Eventually, I started jotting down ideas for campaigns of my own.

What is Joizha?

One of those campaigns I started was an ambitious attempted crossover to introduce technology into Dungeons and Dragons. My friends and I hadn’t discovered RIFTS yet, so this was a ground breaking achievement in my mind. I set out to start building the world. As often happened during my teenage years, the attempt stalled because I was more interested in young women and the mall and going to the mall to look at young women. I didn’t have the courage to talk to any of them.

Whatever.

However, I’m now married. It is frowned upon to look at other women. As a result, I have more time to finish those projects that I started and abandoned all those years ago. I completed two books (I’m more proud of the short stories, if you have time). When this quarantine (I know it’s not technically a quarantine, but we’ve all agreed that’s what we’re calling it) started, I decided to write my own Dungeons and Dragons adventure.

Enter Joizha. It was a small mining town in that “technologically advanced” campaign that I started as a teenager. So, instead of reinventing the wheel for my first campaign that I’d have time to finish, I went back and mined my memories for details. It came together pretty quickly. I fleshed out the town a bit, a harbor city that the party might visit (Staten Harbor), and took a mine from the Campaign and Catacomb Sourcebook as inspiration for the dungeon.

I didn’t upload a picture of Joizha yet to my Instagram, but here’s a rough draft of Staten Harbor

Welcome to Joizha (Eventually)

I haven’t written about Dungeons and Dragons in over 5 years. As mentioned in one of the articles I wrote back then, it’s mainly because Chris doesn’t play. The boys and I (and even Christine) played a game last year, but it ended a bit sour with the boys saying that they were bored. So, I went researching on ways to make it more interesting for them.

Then, I got a second job as a custodian at nights and things fell apart in more ways than one. I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to an extended D&D campaign. Now, as mentioned several times over the past month, I have nothing but time. Especially when school ends, we’ll be lousy with free time. So, hopefully, I have the opportunity to say, “Welcome to Joizha!” to my family and get a chance to play through the dungeon with them.