Tag Archives: Role Playing Games

Deck of Many Things Review

Introduction

As a socially awkward teen outcast by many of my peers, I played Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. So, I’ve been playing the game for well over 30 years now. Even so, the game sometimes surprises me. For instance, I never heard of the Deck of Many Things. That may shock some of you. Let me explain.

We ended up having a few play sessions before the friend group started to grow apart. Those of you who played know the usual outcomes. You either struggle to put together a group or the group disbands in the middle of a campaign. Sometimes both. Then, my adult and family playgroups never happened and became just me and Quinn. So, I’ve played probably less than the average player.

And that’s how you get a video like this where I am pleasantly surprised by my purchase.

The Book of Many Things

Even so, looking at the introduction to the book that comes with the deck makes me slightly embarrassed that I never encountered the deck before. It gives a history of the deck that goes back to the beginning. At some point, I should have ubiquitous piece of lore from the game. Thankfully, the book anticipates my ignorance.

They split the chapters into 5 sections. The first set of chapters gives DMs ideas of how to use the deck in their campaign. The other four sections then go into more detail for a different type of idea. There are chapters on character creation, astrological phenomena, adventure locations, and new monsters and characters to introduce into your games. It even shows you how to use the deck to create random puzzles. Overall, I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this deck.

The Deck of Many Things

The deck comes with another reference guide. This one shows you how to set up the various spreads for putting together your adventures, characters, or puzzles. It then explains the meaning of each card. Similar to a tarot reading, they explain what upright and reversed mean in each context. Very cool touch.

The deck itself varies in the quality of artwork for each card. Some are highly detailed and vibrant. Others are far too plain. It makes sense in the context that all of the cards are different and represent different things. Some of those things are fantastic and vibrant. Others are not and their art reflects that. Overall, though all of the art is awesome.

These are my three favorite cards for art.

The Verdict

I think this is my favorite purchase so far for Dungeons and Dragons since getting back into the game. I understand now why it became such a popular part of the game over the years. No doubt that it becomes the one resource that I use more than the others. Heck, I already have an idea to scan the cards and maybe try to write some kind of app that automates the process for me. I’ve been trying to practice more coding every week. That gives me the opportunity to do so.

Turn of Fortune’s Wheel: Planescape

Introduction

Monday, Wednesday, Friday for articles. Wednesday and Saturday for Noob’s Book Club. Seems like a reasonable schedule to get everything done for the page weekly, right? Ah, but best laid plans and all that, I suppose. And, so Noob’s Book Club went almost an entire month without and update. Yesterday, we took Quinn to his first swim meet. So, instead of Friday, you get Turn of Fortune’s wheel (the last Planescape book in my series) on Saturday.

I never know how to properly review adventures on the page. One time, when I thought I might be able to follow up the Noob’s Book Club series on Ready Player One with a series of the trials of Wade, I looked through the whole adventure. Also, as you know, I care nothing about spoilers. However, since 99% of the fun of these is the surprise for players, I want to keep that surprise for them. So, I’ll just talk about the introduction.

Beginning of the End

What a better way to start something. Juxtapose it with the end. And, so it is that the writers of this adventure took that advice. The further up the ante by giving lower level characters the chance to help correct a glitch affecting the whole multiverse. I must say. That’s quite the hook. Especially when you consider that Quinn and I collected dinosaurs for a prince and then I wrote a classic haunted pirate ship adventure for our second time playing when we get a chance to sit down again.

Third level characters traveling through portals to a city that allows them to then travel through a multiverse of other realms. I must say that’s pretty amazing Add to it that it says that they will brush shoulders with immortals. I might take a break from writing for a while and use this one as our third adventure. Perhaps I can even get the rest of the family hooked on the game finally.

The Verdict

Turn of Fortune’s Wheel sounds like so much fun. Over the next couple of weeks, I want to read more to prepare for a possible play session with the whole family on Christmas break. I need to have them create characters and level them to three. But, other than that, I don’t see much of an obstacle to making that happen. Look for the follow up next year.

Picture taken from the mothership.

Morte’s Planar Parade: Planescape

Introduction

I explained in the previous article why I defaulted to the reviews of the Planescape books instead of regaling you with mine and Quinn’s adventures aboard a haunted pirate ship. Relax. I promise that those adventures are coming. I promise. For now, let’s take a look at Morte’s Planar Parade.

The book, like the other three book collections in 5e, follows the tradition as a monster manual for the planes. In the introduction, it talks about magic and what happens when the some dies on one of the many planes. It then gives a description of how the planes affect the beings that live there. Finally, it shows some tables of different possibilities for encounters on the planes.

Your Humble Host

The conceit of this one is that the being that put together the bestiary is the handsome fella up there. Names “Morte”. He claims to be a Mimir, which is a magical construct that contains information about the planes that they tell to adventurers lucky enough to come across one.Morte, apparently, specializes in planar beasts. Or, so he says. I leave it up to you to judge for yourself if he is actually what he says he is.

The Bestiary

It lists 55 different beasts that can be found on the many planes. Since they gave the rule (you know how much I love this one) in the first book that basically, in the multiverse, “there are no rules” then 55 seems like a shockingly small number. Then again, I come from a time in the game where the monster manual introduced hundreds of new characters with each setting. But, I understand that publishing costs (like everything else) rose over the last 30 years and they give us what they can. For what’s included in the book, I like most of the monsters and can fill in the blanks.

The Verdict

Morte’s Planar Parade delivers on the promise of adding new monsters to the game. I also laughed more than once at the ridiculous commentary by Morte. He wasn’t as funny as Fizban. Then again, I have more history with Fizban. Perhaps old Morte will grow on me over the years.

Sigil and the Outlands: Planescape

Introduction

I meant to sit down and play some Dungeons and Dragons with Quinn over the weekend. I forget sometimes how busy a relaxing Thanksgiving can be. Wednesday, we spent the day and night relaxing and trying to catch our breath. Thursday, we watched the parade and then I went to pick up Aiden’s girlfriend to hang out with the family. Friday, we went to Greenfield for dinner and then Bright Nights. Chris came over Saturday and Quinn felt sick yesterday. So, now, what do I write this week? Well, I got the bright idea to review each book from Planescape. I start with Sigil and the Outlands.

Of the settings I played when younger, Planescape offered the most interesting possibilities. Those possibilities never paid off because nobody else in the playgroup wanted to explore them. But, the release of the set in 5th edition opens up all new chances to travel the planes.

A Multiverse of (Possible) Madness

The book starts by telling you that the only rules in Planescape are that there are no rules. As someone who plays D&D by that very rule, this again tickles my funny bone and makes me want to try it even more now. Maybe after Quinn and I finish our pirate adventure, we can try some Planescape. Then again, I mistakenly grabbed my Spelljammer books instead of Planescape for this article. That gave me an idea for a way to take us into space. Maybe after that, we can plane walk.

In keeping with the tradition of these books, the first chapter then goes on to explain player character options. This one offers no new races but it gives players two “backgrounds” to play as their character. Neither of them speak to me necessarily, but I might take some aspects of one or both of them to work into a future character.

Especially when I look at the feats that they describe in the next part of the chapter. Some of them look like a lot of fun to play. They all require some sort of planar attunement. That’s just my fancy way of saying that you need to have the Scion of the Outer Planes feat, which is only available to the backgrounds they introduce in the book. So, watch this space for a new character. A warlock with the planar philosopher background. Only because I never played a Warlock.

The chapter closes with some discussion about a few magic spells and item. Again, none of them jump out to me as particularly interesting. But, with some imagination and work, maybe I can give them a fun twist.

Sigil, City of Doors

The second chapter gives information on the main hub city of the many planes, Sigil. It starts with basic information like currency and the like. This part mainly reads like the rule that “there aren’t any rules” and anything goes. It’s less interesting than it sounds. But, again, with some work and imagination, anything is possible.

Then, they write about the various portals that lead from the city. They define some of them explicitly in a table for those of us who are in a hurry or not feeling inspired. It also gives a template for other portals to other places when you start to feel more inspired or imaginative.

The final part of this chapter introduces the Lady of Pain, explains the various wards in the city and their make up and denizens, and discusses the factions in the city. I don’t care much about the politics of any given setting in Dungeons and Dragons. However, i like the idea of starting an adventure in the city. Therefore, with a description of some of the places to visit, I got ideas how to craft that part of the adventure.

The Outlands

The final chapter lists and describes the major planes of existence in the realm known as The Outlands. In keeping with the layout of many of the recent 5th edition books, it covers just the basics of each of the areas. Enough to set things up for you. The thing that I like best is that I can fill in the gaps as I write the adventure. I know that many players want more description and detail. But, I want the freedom to imagine.

The Verdict

Reading Sigil and the Outlands plus the book I picked up from Spelljammer gives me ideas for how to expand this adventure with me and Quinn. Now, I just need to sit down and write the new parts. We also need to find time to play the game. We get a week off for Christmas, so that seems like as good a time as any.

Dreams and Machines Tutorial

Introduction

A game came across my Facebook feed. I don’t know what made me click the link this time around, but I did. I also don’t know what the click through to purchase percentage is. But, they got me this time. The game came in the mail a few weeks ago. With Quinn and I unable to sit down for the next installment of our duets adventure, I played through the Dreams and Machines tutorial this evening.

After Christine yelled at Liam at the dinner table for being on his phone, he pointed out, “You’re the only one eating. Dad’s playing a game.” Quinn asked, “Is that a role playing game?” Then, Liam again, “Is that a new game?” I replied, “Yes” to both questions. So, perhaps, I will have an updated article in a couple of months after we play the game as a family.

The Story

They write an introduction with illustrations in the first four splash pages of the book. From what I can gather, the society’s technology advanced too rapidly. They became murder machines. The society eventually triumphed over them. And, now, some of them rely more on nature to fill that void. Others hope to be able to salvage the technology. I may be completely off with that analysis. But, that’s my interpretation so far.

Character Creation

They streamline the process quite a bit. Your background, class, temperament, and talents all come on different cards. They suggest each player picks from the cards in that order. I like this approach because it makes things easier. At the same time, I prefer being able to roll dice, assign my stats, and figure out who my character is during creation. Granted, the only part missing from this game is the dice rolling and assignment of stats. However, being an old school RPG guy, that’s the best part for me. It doesn’t ruin the experience. It just detracts some from my enjoyment. So, for this character, I just picked things at random.

Quick Adventure

Once I put together the character, I decided to run through the first part of the introductory adventure. I like the style. It relies on narrative. Those who are fans of the page know that I love my gaming stories. In between, everything is settled with some skill checks. You roll a number of d20s and any that come underneath the requisite ability or skill counts as a success. If you exceed the number of successes, then you pass the skill. Otherwise, you fail. I passed one of my checks and failed the other. I ended the session right before I got to combat because I knew it would work better with more than one player. But, it works the exact same way.

The Verdict

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of playing through the Dreams and Machines tutorial. I think this might be a game to try with Quinn and Liam since they both showed interest during dinner. Christine also mentioned that the time for family game night is upon us. We usually play during the fall and winter. It helps to pass the time during those dark nights. Come back in a couple of months for an update.

Giants in Phandalin

Introduction

My history with Dungeons and Dragons is checkered. I wonder if it is the same with many other players. I started playing in high school. We put together a regular play group that contracted to just two of us after we graduated. However, some of the best stories and campaigns for me came out of those duo sessions. It takes a little bit of time, but this all leads directly to Giants in Phandalin.

When i had kids, I tried as much as possible to pass my nerd passions on to them. Some of them became life long passions like Liam and Quinn with Pokemon. Others, like Dungeons and Dragons, maybe still have potential. Because, to be fair, we only tried playing once as a family. The boys were all young and, on that particular day, I just wasn’t feeling particularly patient. So, I think I poisoned the well a little bit. In spite of that, I hold out hope that maybe one of these days we can try again.

Bigby Presents Glory of the Giants

I planned to cover this one last month in a Dungeons and Dragons week. However, Quinn and I never sat down to play the next episode in our Duo campaign. So, I moved Dungeons and Dragons to this month and decided to cover the two latest source books in this article. I never know how to properly cover something like this. But, that’s never stopped me before.

For this one, I read through the character creation parts of the book. I always try to build different characters for the game just to see how their peculiarities might show up in an actual game. This book goes one step further and talks about how to run an actual campaign built around giants. You might think, cynically, So, D&D but with big people? Yes, I suppose that’s one way to look at it. But, I feel like there’s so much more potential there.

Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk

Well, things come full circle now. The adventure we tried to play as a family was the Lost Mine of Phandelver. And, now, Wizards of the Coast release a new source book building on that. I’d be lying if the release of this book didn’t make me feel nostalgic for that time and the desire for a do over. Just have to figure out a time to do it. Everyone’s older and busier. Cats in the Cradle, indeed.

The Verdict

Giants in Phandalin brings two fun new books to the Dungeons and Dragons pantheon. One gives me an idea for how to build a new world and campaign. The other makes me want to recapture some of that fun of being young again for all involved. I’m sure we can find some time during Thanksgiving or Christmas break. Be on the lookout for a Lucas-Mullen D&D adventure in a few months.

Tomb of Horrors First Impression: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

I know what you’re thinking. How have I played Dungeons and Dragons for literally over 30 years and only now be giving my Tomb of Horrors First Impression? Well, let me explain, Judgy McJudgyPants. I started playing with 2nd edition of AD&D. Sure, I bought the release of the “Rules Cyclopedia” with the Dungeons and Dragons brand on it, but I never actually played any of the original content.

So, when Wade finds out that Halliday hid the first key in the actual Tomb of Horrors from Dungeons and Dragons, I started to feel the germination of an idea in the recesses of my brain. It took another couple of chapters for that idea to fully bake and grow, but eventually I came away with what I thought might be a great idea. So, I went on a search for the module.

Surprisingly, I found it easier than expected. Seeing that Gary Gygax first wrote the module in 1975, I thought I might have to pay an exorbitant amount on eBay. Either that or pirate a PDF via one of the file sharing web pages out there. My respect for the game and Mr. Gygax is too great for the latter and my respect for myself is…hold up, let me check eBay to see what I’d have to sell my respect for…69.65? On second thought, maybe I don’t have that much respect for myself. Relax, I resisted buying it, for now. But, that’s only because I discovered that, because 5e represents a renaissance for the game, they republished the module in one of their recent collections.

Structure of the Review

I plan to split the review into three sections; right out of the box, the nitty gritty, and where next? In the first section, I plan to cover the title, setting, hook, and map layout. The second section gets into the plot, encounters, and creatures. Finally, after a discussion of loot and resolution, I intend to talk about paths forward after finishing the module.

Tomb of Horrors First Impression: Right Out of the Box

Title: At first glance, simple and effective. You know exactly what to expect from the module from that title. It follows unwritten (?) D&D convention of naming things “something” of “something else”. Hall of the Storm Giants. Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Tales of the Outer Planes. That kind of thing. Looking at a list of the modules, I guess fewer titles actually adhered to that standard. But, I’m keeping it in. In short, solid title. Rating: Good, but only because I prefer flashier titles.

Setting: As I said with the title, it tells you exactly where you will be spending your time. In a Tomb of Horrors. Expect whatever your mind’s eye conjures when you hear such a thing. Undead? Yep. Potentially deadly traps? Check. Dungeon Crawling one square at a time because the next may bring doom to your party? That’s there, too. Rating: Great, but like most Dungeons and Dragons adventures, it depends on the story telling skill of your Dungeon Master.

Hook: The edition I have (5e) gives a Legend of the Tomb, which explains all of what I talked about up above. It also tells some of the story of the final encounter including the set up that he is nigh invincible. They also write the truth behind the legend as some background information. Finally, they offer some examples of where to place the tomb depending on your campaign and a guide to run the adventure including a prologue on how to start. Rating: Good, but I like to fill in with my own story when I run these things. I like the additional information even if I don’t plan to use most of it.

Map Layout: Like the title, the map layout follows a simple yet effective dungeon design. Unlike some of the dungeons I’ve seen, it doesn’t have a ton of four way intersections or unnecessary rooms. It gives false entrances, and dead ends, though, so not everything is as it seems. But, at the heart of the layout, you get long corridors and rooms that serve a purpose. Rating: Great, but I like a simple dungeon that still brings mystery and intrigue.

Tomb of Horrors First Impression: Nitty Gritty

Plot (with synopsis): The tomb lies buried beneath a hill. It is filled with deadly traps and various monsters. It also offers great treasure to adventurers brave and witty enough to survive the traps and monsters. The dread lich Acererak guards the crypt and the treasure at the heart of the tomb. As a man, he studied ways to extend his life beyond that of even unnatural means. The lich dwelled with the horrors in the halls of the tomb under the hill. Even so, his life force began to wane, so he commanded the servants to rig the traps in the tomb. After that, he destroyed them all and went to rest so that his soul may roam the various planes without being disturbed. Rating: Great, but I’m a sucker for a good lich story. I think I first learned of the creature from the monster manual and actually played a character with a friend to the realm of Raveloft and she achieved the unlife of a lich.

Encounters: Traps galore (ceiling trap, sliding block trap, poison needle trap, covered pit trap, sphere of annihilation, spike trap, and a phasing pit) wait for unsuspecting parties to trigger them and cause a mass reroll. Keep in mind that those are just the ones I saw by scanning through the module for the word trap. The module also boasts secret doors, false entrances, a chamber with three chests to choose, hidden messages, and magical effects. If it exists within the game, Gygax found a place for it in the Tomb of Horrors. Rating: Good, but bump it up to great if you’re a trap player. I’m more of a puzzle guy and there are some puzzles, but I want all the puzzles.

Creatures: Gargoyle. Poisonous (Venomous?) snakes. Greater zombie. Vrock. Flying Swords. Ochre Jelly. Wights. Demilich. For the length of the module, surprisingly low amount of combat. But, those early Dungeons and Dragons modules relied more on the traps and puzzles to keep people interested. At least the ones that I remember kept the hack and slash to a minimum. Rating: Decent. Even as someone who appreciates the more subtle side of Dungeons and Dragons, I’d find myself looking forward to the demilich during every combat.

Tomb of Horrors First Impression: Where Next?

Loot: Alongside the loot from combat and the various chambers, the tomb boasts a hoard of gems worth hundreds of thousands of gold, four magic weapons, twelve potions, six scroll spells of 5th level or lower, a magic ring, magic rod, magic staff, and three wondrous items. Rating: Decent. Those who triumph are rewarded well. However, based on my limited reading of the module, it feels like the level of loot isn’t quite to the level of challenge. Then again, we are the snowflake trophy generation, so maybe my idea of fair is warped.

Resolution: I like that the final encounter can basically only be won (unless you come in loaded for lich) if you refrain from combat instead of going into there with all of your firepower. It puts a nice little bow on top of the module that savvy players will figure out based on the overall theme of the dungeon. Rating: Great. In a time where twists like this ruled the pages of Dungeons and Dragons, Gygax proves again that he is literally one of the two dads of D&D.

Where Next? I came up with this idea because generally when I lead a party through something as a DM, I want to have some sort of idea where they go next. Sometimes you can use it to weave something into the story as a foreshadow. Most of the time, you use the information for yourself to set things up later on down the road. However, I admit now that I painted myself into a corner. Because the adventure plays so great, how do you follow it up?

The Verdict

My Tomb of Horrors first impression is very good to great. I imagine it’s the same for many players. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have endured for so long with such a large following. Maybe one of these days I will even run the module for an actual group. They need someone to advise the Dungeons and Dragons club at my school.

ShadowRun First Impressions

Introduction

This story starts like so many of my other stories. I went to Humble Bundle and saw that they offered a ShadowRun 5e bundle. Mostly, I heard about the game during the fight over the WotC decision to rework the common license for D&D because they built it on that license. Every now and then, I get an itch to try out Steampunk content. This bundle finally scratches that itch. So, I decided to check out the core rulebook and report back my ShadowRun first impressions.

Can I say again how much I love Humble Bundle? I paid 18 dollars for 17 eBooks and got basically a starter kit for a new tabletop roleplaying game. The trouble, as always, is that I have nobody to play with. I mean, Chris always seems down for something new, but we rarely find the time to get together more than a couple of times a year. We use those for MTG mostly. So, eventually, I need to find a way to enjoy this game solo.

They Have Stories to Tell

Before I talk about the core rulebook, give me some time to tease out that last statement. From what I see online, may nerds have the same trouble as me finding play groups. How can so many of us have the same difficulty without a workable solution? I know that I feel far too old and antisocial to reach out to new players. My most recent playgroups are my youngest son and 3-5 middle school kids at my D&D club.

Sorry about that. As I drove my son to do life guard training (long story not at all related to anything here), I just thought about all of that and it inspired me to share. Now that I have, I can talk about the part of the book that I read so far.

The first couple of sections of the book, as far as I can see, are simply a couple of short stories outlining some of the lore of ShadowRun. While I generally enjoy story telling in games, this time I skipped right by them. Maybe when I come back later to actually play the game, I can give you my opinion on the stories.

Humble Beginnings

Instead, I kept scrolling until arrived at the character creation part. To be honest (am I’m nothing if not honest), I only skimmed this part of the book so far, too. Since I work during the week, I have no time to actually try these games. Therefore, without the proper incentive, I see no reason to make a character yet.

However, I looked through the process and it looks mostly straight forward. However, I liked that they start the generation with your concept and backstory. For someone who prefers the story aspect of games, this feels more natural. Granted, I never have an issue with creating a story based on dice rolled, but I sometimes feel limited when asked to do that.

The Verdict

That’s as far as I got in the book. So, these are very early ShadowRun first impressions. I hope to get some sort of character creation and game play soon and update next month with my thoughts on that. Come back for that and for more as April showers bring us gaming opportunities.

My Thoughts on the D&D OGL

Introduction

Editor’s Note: I wrote this before the decision to reverse course by Hasbro. Turns out all of the gnashing of teeth and wailing worked for now. However, I now see that emboldened nerds and some of them push for more. Some people are never happy.

If you wonder what the D&D OGL covers, then join me as I give a TLDR version. As I understand it, the document gives the community the ability to make homebrew content and make money from that content. Wikipedia explains it in better detail if you want more than that. I only know about the document now because a leak showed that Hasbro/WotC meant to update it.

And by update it, of course, the mean to basically gut the thing and make it almost impossible for anyone but them to make money from the game. Please bear in mind that all of my information here comes from the sometimes less than reliable world of social media (Facebook mostly), so take this whole article with a grain of salt if you want. However, I will say that they reversed course pretty quickly once people started to get loud about it. So, methinks that they hit a nerve.

Warning: Anti-Capitalist Message Ahead

Once a student said to me, “I bet you like the pony guy.” “Vermin Supreme?” I responded. “Love him!”

I mean, just this weekend I said to a friend, “I’m about to sound like a communist sympathizer here.” I say this to provide context. Believe me when I say that I have no use for large corporations throwing their weight around to bully citizens. On the other hand, having grown up to see nerd culture become popular culture, I watch as nerds have almost weekly breakdowns over something or another. Captain Marvel? A more diverse Star Wars?

So, ignorant of the details in the first case and my opinion colored by the history of the second, initially I shrugged at the news. Obviously, I came down on the wrong side of history. People kept trying to explain to me that Critical Role might suffer because of it. I don’t interact with them at all, so that didn’t bother me.

I soon learned that Pathfinder came into existence because of the D&D OGL. Okay, I though, this could be big. Then, it trickled down into some of the Patreon campaigns that I support. Once that happened, I realized that I made a mistake by writing it off as another nerd temper tantrum.

The Verdict

I wanted to end New Year, New Games 2023 on a more positive note. Unfortunately, I also wanted to come clean. With all of that being said, I can’t find it in me to be all that fussed about the D&D OGL. Sure, it harms player and potentially the game. But, as Blizzard shows time and time again, if you give players enough time, they forgive and forget nearly everything. Come back after the next season of Stranger Things and this will all become a footnote in history.

Besides, unless you belong to Critical Role or one of the half dozen (maybe) other content creators that this affects, simply ignore the new OGL. Go on about your business playing Dungeons and Dragons as you do with your friends and family. Plenty of resources exist out there to enhance your gaming experience for every edition of the game. And, if it doesn’t, here’s an idea. Come up with the resource on your own and share it with those you love. My favorite D&D experience came from writing the adventure for Quinn. I loved it so much, I planned several others. Just get out there and have fun.

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.