5 and 5 for Pathfinder RPG

So, not long ago I wrote about five things I love and five things I don’t love about D&D 5e. Overall I think it’s a great system, and certainly my favourite edition of that game since second edition AD&D. That said, it isn’t the only system I play or enjoy, so today I will do the same with the other 500 lb gorilla in the realm of fantasy RPGs: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (henceforth PFRPG) by Paizo Publishing.

I had no prior history with Dungon or Dragon magazines, so I discovered PFRPG mostly by chance during its open beta while looking to file off some of the irritating edges in the D&D 3.5 system. Seeing that the document had already addressed some of my issues, and being wooed by the spiffy Wayne Reynolds cover and artwork, I gave it a read and subsequently purchased a copy of the final release. At this point, I may have run more sessions of PFRPG than any other game… and I’ve been running games a long time. Now that my history with PFRPG has been , let’s get into the meat of this article with five great things about PFRPG:

  1. You already know how to play it. While I imagine there are indie RPG enthusiasts out there that have never played a derivative of D&D 3rd edition, every gamer I know personally has. Getting buy-in from players for a PFRPG campaign is easy in my experience, since there is already a familiarity with the basic system, even if some of the specific details are different.
  2. It is adaptable. PFRPG is a fantasy game per its default, but it is actually adaptable to other styles without too much heavy lifting; I have been running it as a modern day Supernaturalesque action horror game quite successfully for some time. We will get to see how adaptable it is in Paizo’s hands when they release the science fantasy Starfinder Roleplaying Game in summer 2017.
  3. It is well supported. Paizo releases several books each month to support their RPG, including their flagship Pathfinder Adventure Path. Every month sees the release of one sixth of a campaign, with supporting material, which is a godsend to busy PFRPG gamemasters. At this point, I think more books, if not more pages, have been released for PFRPG than for D&D 3.0 and D&D 3.5 combined. Additionally, there is official errata and FAQs on Paizo’s website to clarify and correct the rules.
  4. Third-party support. If Paizo’s first-party support isn’t enough, there is an active communityof third-part creators producing all manner of content to fill the gaps in the “official” ruleset. Whether it’s the quirky but complex classes released by Interjection Games, or Dreamscarred Press’ updates to the 3rd edition psionics, or Raging Swan Press’ awesome dressing, or the neat tweaks to the system coming from Rogue Genius Games, you can find nearly anything you could possibly want from a third-party vendor. If you will allow a shameless plug, our own Dire Rugrat Publishing offers nice (and not nice) taverns in multiple game systems to introduce to your campaign right over here.
  5. The Community. More than maintaining a customer base, Paizo has done a fantastic job building a thriving and involved community on their website. You can ask questions on the best way to build an uber-barbarian, find people to start your next campaign with, or discuss anything from politics to tv. Best of all, you might have access to the people that write and design your favourite products.guard on watch

So far so good, right? But what is the dark side of PFRPG? Let’s see…

  1. Rules, Rules, Rules. PFRPG may not be as rules heavy as, say, Rolemaster, but it has a lot of rules. And more rules elements are added with each new hardcover release. There are a lot of things for a player, let alone a gamemaster, to remember which can lead to a lot of slowdown. This also leads to…
  2. Combat is a slog. You would think that a game that has such a strong focus on combat would let you make it through several of them in a session. You would be wrong. I’ve clocked a fight between a party of four 1st level characters and 6 goblins at over ninety minutes of real time. It gets worse as you gain levels, to the point that, in my gaming group, once the PCs were at level 8 or above, we could have a combat or we could roleplay in a four hour session, but we certainly couldn’t do both.
  3. High level play. In addition to slow gameplay, high level PFRPG introduces the reality that the PCs become super powered to the point that they couldn’t be defeated by Superman and his team of super pets. Perhaps its my own deficiency as a game runner, but I find playing PFRPG beyond 8th level largely unsatisfying.
  4. Golarion. Plenty of people love Paizo’s campaign setting of Golarion. I don’t. It doesn’t make sense to me. Its focus on strongly thematic regions makes it seem more like an incoherent jumble than a logical, believable place. All of this would be fine if Golarion didn’t worm its way into the supposedly setting neutral system rules, but it does. All goblins are illiterate and fear written language… since it was decided to include that little bit from the Golarion specific Adventure Path line in the Bestiary. All undead are evil, since the creative overlords of Golarion  don’t like the idea of non-evil undead. I can ignore things like this, but I shouldn’t have to dangit!
  5. Player’s Expectations. This is something that I found originated with D&D 3.0, but carries through to PFRPG. The players expect you to play “fair.” This is to say, they expect CR appropriate encounters. They expect that the gamemaster will adhere to the suggested Wealth by Level. They expect that every encounter will yield to the use of their swanky combat tricks, spells, and feats. And they get cranky and accuse the GM of being unfair when they don’t. I have found, even while playing with the same people for nearly twenty years, that my players just aren’t as creative in their problem solving while playing PFRPG as they are while playing other games.

So there you are. If there are things that you love or loathe about PFRPG, sound off in the comments!

wild mountains

Comfortable Adventuring

I don’t think any adventuring is truly comfortable (it wouldn’t be much of an adventure, just a vacation), but if I think about the characters we play in our games, and the way we often just gloss over some of that travel, it gives me pause.

Hours upon hours of trudging along roads, paths, or through dense forest growth just to get to your intended destination. Sure, you’ve got your companions, but how much time do you want to spend chatting when you have more weight piled on your back than most normal people can carry, you’ve been wearing the same clothes for days, and you can’t remember the last time you had a hot bath? No, that low-level bard with his off-key merry songs of adventure is driving you mad, and you wish you could reach something in that monstrosity of pack for to gag him with right now.

By the end of the day your legs are weary, your feet are cold and your shoulders ache. You can’t light a fire for fear the nearby army of orcs will be drawn to it, or because everything is too wet, so you curl up in that bedroll you’ve been carrying all day thinking about how you get to do it again tomorrow.

Ah, the joy.

household magic coverWouldn’t the dreary days, the long hikes and the cold nights be made just a little bit better with a warm bottle of mulled wine? Or a warm cup of milk before bed? No fire required. The ever-warm bottle is just one of many adventuring hacks found in The Household Magic Catalog by Flaming Crab Games.

While this product was made with the intention of the items being used at home (and by the gods there are some amazing products in this strange and out-of-this-world catalog), there are some items no adventurer should be without.

Why struggle with a rope when there’s a shrinkable ladder? Creative thinkers could use it to climb up, or to walk across. Presto! The extendo-ladder is a ladder and a bridge you can carry with you (hey, that bag was already weighing you down, what’s a bit more?).

That fresh food starting to spoil? Freshen it up. Yep – there’s a spell for that in here. Or just start your day with a healthy, filling breakfast – served while you lie in your bedroll (bonus: it cures any poison and keeps you nourished all day!).

Too much to carry? Purchase a wagon. Sure, you’ll still have to push it through difficult terrain, but it will move itself, and your gear, along the even ground with nothing more than a command word.

Yes, I am shamelessly promoting this product because I was one of the contributors, but I do think, like most of the Letters, this is a great product to have; it may be my favorite of the Letters to date as its alternate fantastical 1940’s vibe makes it so much fun to read, and it is full of amazing products that lead to great gaming ideas (two words: Room Baa).

If you are looking for new magical items, love old catalogs, need a bit of weird wacky inspiration, or want to make your time adventuring just a little more comfortable, grab your copy from DriveThruRPG today.

Piggy bank with coins

5 Ways to Game on a Budget

One of the things I love about roleplaying games is that they’re inexpensive. You only need a copy of the rules, your imagination, and a few friends to have a good time, right? But… most RPGs have supplementary rulebooks, setting books, adventures, miniatures, dice sets… the list goes on. And I want all the shiny preciousses. I needs them! My game can’t be complete without them! But I have two problems…. I don’t have time to read anything longer than your average kid’s book… and I don’t have nearly enough money to buy all the books for all the RPGs I’d like to have all the books for… finally, I don’t have space to store all the books for all the RPGs I’d like to have all the books for. I said I had three problems, right?

That out of the way, we know I’m only going to address one of my problems in this post because we all saw the title, so let’s get to it. Lack of funds doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get awesome gaming books for your collection. Sure, you may not be able to get everything in glorious print, but .pdfs will work almost as well, especially if you have a half-decent tablet. So, without further ado, here are my top five ways to game on a budget:

  1. Bundles. Number one by a long shot, are gaming bundles. While drivethrurpg offers countless bundles by countless publishers, my favourite two producers of big bundles of books for ridiculously low prices are Bundle of Holding and Humble Bundle. Bundle of Holding focuses specifically on RPGs, offering big chunks of specific publisher’s catalogues (such as Cubicle 7’s The One Ring or Catalyst Game Labs’ Shadowrun [various editions have been bundled]), or themed bundles, such as their annual Bundle of Tentacles or Old School Revival bundle. Humble Bundle originally focused on PC indie games, but has diversified into ebooks, including RPGs (such as their spectacularly successful Pathfinder RPG bundle earlier this year) and comic books. Both of these sites are awesome for gamers with limited cash flow.
  2. Raging Swan/Creighton Broadhurst‘s websites. There are numerous gaming blogs, of course, but I visit these two at least once per week. With a heap of GMing advice, countless lists of treasures, gear, locations, and other inspiring posts, both of these sites are a near limitless resource.
  3. Open Gaming SRDs. The Open Gaming movement is still going strong, and there is tons of content out there free for the taking. Paizo’s Pathfinder PRD and the Dungeons & Dragons SRD are the biggest names of course, but the inimitable John Reyst curates SRDs for Swords & Wizardry, 13th Age, and plenty of other games as well as the monstrous  d20PFSRD and more modest 5eSRD. All of these sites provide access to game rules and content, including monsters, NPCs, and equipment. For free.
  4. Eclipse Phase. This fantastic d100 based sci-fi/horror rpg is available for free under its Creative Commons license. This is wonderful for people who want to give material a try before committing their dollars to it. Additionally, the license allows homebrewers to use Posthuman Studios’ art and writing assets to create and distribute their own Eclipse Phase material so long as it is free and attributes the work correctly.
  5. Write Reviews. Publishers, particularly third-part publishers, often give out review copies of new products to get word out about their new releases.  Check out the product announcements on Paizo threads, request a copy when they are offered, and then write a review.  Often, reviewers who consistently deliver well written reviews in a timely fashion are offered the opportunity to review more products – for free.  You get to help shape future products, let your favorite publishers know what you love (and what needs work), and you get access to complimentary gaming products.  It’s a win all around.

Bonus: Your local library.  Depending on your area, and what you local library has on its shelves, this can be a great resource.  You might be lucky enough to find RPG books, but at the very least you should be able to find books, graphic novels and even movies that could be a great (and free) source of inspiration.

Have you found other great resources for gaming on a budget? Share them in the comments below!

Rabbit in a field

Is That a Bunny? With an Axe? (5 Things To Do With “Murder Bunnies”)

Flaming Crab Games recently compiled a letter titled “Murder Bunnies.”  As soon as I heard of its impending release, I was intrigued.  I mean, how (and why) would such a soft, adorable creature be linked with murder?

One of the things I love about Letters From the Flaming Crab is their strange and unique take on things.  This company takes something overlooked, seemingly dull, or otherwise unexplored and turns it into something intriguing or thought provoking.

I loved the way Hygiene raised some great points about how nail care can affect a disguise, I had my taste buds tickled with magical food in Culinary Magic, and I appreciated the exploration of banks and lending institutions in Coins and Credit. 

When Murder Bunnies was released, FCG offered up a few copies on Paizo, with the hopes of a review or two.  As a 3PP writer, and publisher, I feel weird writing typical reviews.  I know how much work goes into a product, and what people want out of a product varies. This hesitancy with reviewing FCG products is amplified by the fact that I’ve written for them, but I received a review copy, all 3PPs appreciate feedback, and well, who doesn’t want to know more about this PDF?

So What About Murder Bunnies?

This is a bonus letter, which means it was not one of the initial letters scheduled for release in 2016.

The letters released this year have generally been longer than those compiled in 2015, and as such the price was increased slightly.  Murder Bunnies is back to the lower page count (clocking in at 9 pages), and priced accordingly at $2.99.
Rabbit with a swordThe focus of the letter was exploring the race of trius vrai, more commonly known as lepus hostili or “murder bunnies.”  It opens with a note from Aldus Emberidge, a sage and advisor unfortunate enough to have been held for a time by these strange rabbit folk.  I loved this.  It is the stuff of the letters.

The PDF went on to detail the physical descriptions, alignment, society, relations, adventures, and all of the typical things that need to be discussed when introducing a new race.  From there it features four different racial archetypes, new racial rules, including trius vrai equipment such as the abduction rope. There’s a collection of feats, some neat magical items specific to this savage and creepy race of rabbitfolk (lucky halfling foot anyone?), and then a few spells.

I loved the idea of this race.  I think it has a lot of (creepy) potential.  And the society and relations write-ups were a lot of fun to read.  And then…

(Honesty here) I’m not a big lover of reading mechanics.  I know: Pathfinder has a ton of rules, and they are meant to be followed, and you need the mechanics to make the game work.  I get it.  I get this is a letter about a race.  And I was prepared for that.

The archetypes use the kineticist, spiritualist, brawler and druid classes, and I appreciate the way these archetypes suit the race or trius vrai, and also use a variety of class types. The visual of the primal vessel archetype with its manifestation of the ancestral spirit of the trius vrai race is particularly cool, and a neat take on the class.

But the bottom line is that I love the fun twists FCG’s puts on their letters.  I love how easy it has been to incorporate the ideas from the letters into our game sessions.  A bit here, a bit there, heck a whole fair ready to go.

Murder Bunnies fell short. It’s “just” a race.  A cool race.  An interesting race.  A race with potential.  But it’s a race, not an easy to use/adapt/insert Letter From the Flaming Crab.

It did get me thinking about some cool things to do, but I guess the bottom line is I wanted some of these ideas or springboards included.  I wanted that little extra that made Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies easy to drop into an ongoing campaign.  That made it a Letter.
Cover of Murder Bunnies by Flaming Crab GamesAt the end of the day, I have to give Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies 3.5/5 stars.  I’m rounding it up to 4 stars, you know, for purposes of this platform, and because once you mull it over, there’s some cool potential.  If you are looking for a new race to test out, this is a fun little PDF full of flavor and potential (and some creepy art). If you are looking for a fun and funky letter you can easily drop into your campaign, this PDF is lacking a little something. (Never fear though, folks.  After mulling it over for a bit, I have come up with a few quick, and not so quick, ways you can drop Letters From the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies into your campaign.)

So, on that note, we bring you…

Five Things To Do With This Product:

  1. Your players, out venturing in unknown territory, accidentally stumble into an area inhabited by trius vrai.  Grab their character sheets, hand them some premade “murder bunny” character sheets. Describe the humanoids venturing into their territory, emphasizing the way their rabid bunny blood boils and their muscles scream at the chance to bury their sharp weapons into the flesh of these trespassers, or you know, that kind of thing.  Let the dice fall as they may. This gives your players a chance to try out this seldom seen race of rabbit folk, makes them see what it feels like when the shoe is on the other foot, and gives you a chance to peruse their character sheets.
  2. If you don’t like switching character sheets, why not set a game night or two in a village of trius vrai? Have your players make PCs with this unsociable race, send them out on guard duty and have a group of adventurers find them, and their bunny clan.
  3. A local farmer has been having trouble.  He recently built a new pen for his livestock, moving them out into a field previously used to grow crops that kept disappearing.  The animals were all brutally murdered, and now his young daughter insists she saw giant rabbits do it.  He asks the PCs to investigate.
  4. The PCs, venturing through the woods, happen on a young, injured trius vrai. The wounded bunny creature is unlike anything they have seen before. If they offer assistance, he seems to trust them enough to accept, and in thanks, he leads them back to his home. The group is welcomed well enough, but quickly the friendly farce falls away and suddenly the group is trapped inside the village of a savage rabbit folk. The trius vrai could attack openly, wait until the party is asleep, or give the PCs a chance at a game: outrun us and live.  Was the injured trius vrai aware of what his people would do?
  5. And if you want something more simple, throw a fun, and Person dressed as a rabitdifferent, NPC their way. He (or she) could be hiding out in the woods as a refugee or a survivor, or could be wandering the town, or there on a mission.

For the full story on these not-so-cuddly creatures, you should head on over to OBS or Paizo and grab yourself a copy.

Fairy Door

5 Inspirational Doors

Door (noun):  a hinged, sliding, or revolving barrier at the entrance to a building, room, or vehicle, or in the framework of a cupboard.

Doors are something so mundane, so typical, that we often don’t give them a lot of thought.  Sure, we might notice that bright red door on the house down the street, or the elaborately carved wooden doors on the church down the way, but how much time do we spend thinking about doors?

How much time do you spend using them as inspiration for a game session?

I hope the following pictures I have collected will bring a little inspiration to your next game session.

Bunker door

Castle door

Boy standing at door

Car peaking out from old shed door

Door with intricate details

Not loving any of these doors? Try a quick google search, or check out this fantastic front door blog which includes a hobbit-inspired rounded door, an amazing work of stained glass, and a few others.

Then, come on back and tell us how you used a door as inspiration in your game session!

Dinosaur party

Dinovember Photos

November continues to be far busier than we’d like.  Long overdue appointments, the start of Christmas shopping (I know, I know, but we like photo gifts made by Shutterfly, and shipping them up here to Canada from the States requires a little planning), writing assignments, our own Dire Rugrat projects we want to wrap up, and…. DINOVEMBER!

After doing this for a few years, the dinosaurs seem to run out of inspiration and once in awhile the rugrats tell us the dinosaurs are doing something they have already done.  Repetition is bad.  When you wait all year for remarkable magic, each and every day needs to be brilliant.  Apparently.

I imagine the dinosaurs are exhausted with this sort of pressure (I know I am). And the early morning hunts for what the dinosaurs did last night doesn’t make it any easier.

In the hopes of preventing the rugrats from waking up at an ungodly time hunting down the dinosaurs to see what sort of shenanigans they are up to freeing up a bit of time, we packed up the dinosaurs.  That’s right, no more adventures.  This didn’t come out of nowhere.  No, no.  The dinosaurs deserved it after the stunt they pulled.

Well, it wasn’t exactly their fault.  Desperate for a reprieve, I picked up a package of mini cupcakes at the store, and then, before bed, whispered in Rugrat #3’s ear about a dinosaurs party. She took off chanting “dino party” and her older brothers accepted it as her idea.

The next morning they found the remnants of a dinosaur party.

The cupcakes were gone by the time I dragged my tired self out of bed and, since I said the night before that a big mess meant a Dinovember-break, the kids knew what was coming.

Except a handful of them escaped.

Dinosaurs in the sandbox

And then went on an adventure outside the walls of our house.

Dinosaurs on the train tracks

After all, why dash our children’s happy little dinodreams when the magic of the internet can allow those dinosaurs to send pictures to our adorable kiddos? And all after 7 am.

The rugrats had mixed reactions.  Rugrat#1 was worried.  And he missed “Pentie”. He insisted on checking the sandbox in case they were still there.  (They weren’t.)

Rugrat#2 was curious.  It could come from his own love of wandering off to be unsupervised, I’m not sure.

“I hope they are okay out there.” – Rugrat#2

For one week, the kids were sent these pictures by those magical reptilian beasts.

Dinosaurs climbing

The rugrats diligently checked the areas where the photos were taken, sure they might be able to catch up with the dinosaurs.  Rugrat #1 suggested the dinosaurs could see what we were doing but were staying hidden. Or were invisible. I will say was impressed with his ability to locate the areas in our neighbourhood with just a snapshot.
Dinosaurs worshiping at a statue

Dinosaurs building a nest of sticks

Rugrat #2 continued to be thrilled with the whole experience, but at four years old, I think he liked that a) his brother didn’t discover what the dinosaurs did last night any sooner than he did, and b) he got to look at the computer to see the pictures.

Rugrat #1 continued to be frustrated.  He loved determining where the pictures were taken, and he loved seeing the photos, but a few minutes after their reveal he would get upset the dinosaurs hadn’t returned.

Dinosaurs at a playground

“I see! I see!!!” – Rugrat #3

Rugrat #3 definitely just loved the computer (screen time is pretty limited in our house).

Dinosaurs at a mailbox

Rest assured the dinosaurs are back in action and, after a little break, Ken and I are feeling a little more ready for some dinoantics. Plus, these prehistoric reptiles found the photobook of their dinofun from 2015 in the mail, so they brought that home with them.

Have you tried Dinovember yet? Share your ideas! Our dinosaurs can always use a little inspiration.

jar of dice

5 and 5 for D&D 5e

The newest edition of Dungeons & Dragons may not have that new game scent anymore, but over a year of regular play has done a lot to display its virtues and vices to me. Before we get to the five things I like most and least about the game, I’ll provide a bit of background.

I was all set to ignore 5e (still being called D&D Next at the time), and paid no attention to the public playtest. My fantasy RPG itch was being scratched by Pathfinder, after all, and really, could any game dethrone Second Edition AD&D as my favourite fantasy RPG of all time? But 5e was released, and it got a lot of positive attention… and my mother, the person that got me the Mentzer Basic Set for my eighth birthday and set off a lifetime love of RPGs, gifted me with the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual… so I gave it a shot. And I’m glad I did.

That out of the way, let’s get to five things I really like about 5e:

  1. Advantage/Disadvantage. More than anything, I love advantage and disadvantage, and their lack of absolute codification. Replacing the horde of small bonuses, and especially bonus types, used in D&D 3rd edition (and its derivatives) and 4th edition with this simple rule was genius.
  2. Spellcasting. Spells that scale based on the level of spell slot being used is a thing that should have been done several editions ago. Thankfully it’s a thing now. Further, rituals are back from 4th edition. This is a good thing.
  3. Concentration. More to the point, that many buffing spells require concentration, meaning that a caster can only have one in effect at a time. Gone are the suites of buffs players cast before every encounter. Good riddance.
  4. Return of the horde. The so-called “bounded accuracy” that 5e is based around means that low challenge threats are still threats far into a character’s adventuring career. My players, with 6th level characters, are still struggling against the mobs of low challenge mooks that amass around the big bad guys and gals. That’s right, mobs. I can use tons of enemies because of…
  5. Quick combat. Combat is resolved relatively quickly in 5e. Much more quickly than in 3rd or 4th edition, certainly. I like this, it means I can run two or even three combats in a three to four hour session but still have time for exploration and role-play. Wins all around.Paizo goblin

Lots to like, right? All is not sunshine and unicorns however, as the next five points will detail. Without further ado, five things I dislike about 5th edition…

  1. Tieflings, and drow, and dragonborn… Oh my! Call me stodgy, but I don’t think these three races… well, two races and a subrace… should be part of the core game. Of course, if my players would let me, I would disallow every non-human race in my games…
  2. Short adventures. Where are they? The campaign length hardbacks are nice, for the most part, but 5e suffers from a dearth of short adventures. Sure, I can and do convert adventures from previous editions, but come on, The Lost Mine of Phandelver from the Basic Game is a fantastic, sandboxy short adventure… I’d like to see more in that vein.
  3. Dying. By the gods it’s difficult to kill a character in 5e. But the characters get dropped to death saves, often multiple times in an encounter as their companions bring them back to consciousness. It’s silly.
  4. Encounter design. One of the best aspects of 4th edition was the ease with which a DM could put together an encounter. With 5e’s lighter engine, I was expecting that it would be even easier to design exciting encounters. My expectations were in vain; 5e is more difficult to generate encounters for than both 3rd and 4th editions. This is exacerbated by…
  5. Creature creation. Unlike the previous two editions, 5e doesn’t do a very able job of explaining how to create monsters, and more importantly in my opinion, npcs. There’s a table of benchmarks creatures should meet… but special features are not addressed in any meaningful way. Please, design team, give us something better.

So there they are: five and five. Have you been playing D&D 5e? Why or why not? What are your likes and dislikes?

More Dinosaurs Please

What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? There is something about them that just seems magical, special.  Maybe it’s because while there is evidence they existed, it isn’t like any one of us is ever going to get to see a real live one.

Which could be one of the reasons they show up in Pathfinder (and other RPGs).  If you live in a world with dragons, ogres, and gelatinous cubes, it stands to reason dinosaurs are just as likely to be walking around.

If you loved them as a kid (or adult), and I mean really loved them, you probably know exactly how many claws a T-Rex has, what the difference between a brachiosaurus and an apatosaurus is, and why a pterodactyl is super awesome, but isn’t a dinosaur.  If you just think dinosaurs rock, and want to call the long-necked ones a brontosaurs, that’s cool too (I did until I had Rugrat #1 – he will take any chance he can to correct me and my dinosaurs knowledge).

In either event, maybe you want to see a little more dinosaur action in your game.  Heck, maybe you want a whole dinosaur world!

Forget the dragons!
Ditch those gelatinous cubes!
And ogre – take your stinky self somewhere else.

It’s time for a foray into the prehistoric world!

There are lots of cool ways to do this: the party ends up on an island (think Jurassic Park); the party steps through a portal into a prehistoric world; the whole campaign is set in a world where dinosaurs are more common.  Whatever set-up you chose, what you need is more dinosaurs.

I have combed through the Bestiaries.  There’s a bunch of dinosaurs, and a bunch of other prehistoric beasts, but there’s definitely room for more if you want a whole campaign set with these radical reptiles.

Or there was.

Flaming Crab Games put out a fun Letter back in September.

Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions details 25 new prehistoric creatures (mostly dinosaurs), and includes a bunch of them as animal companions, mounts, and/or familiars.  But more than just a bunch of stat blocks, this product also includes encounters. What do you players do when they find an injured dinosaur? Or when they have to pass through a nesting ground?

Yes, I worked on this project. Rugrat #1 is obsessed with dinosaurs and I could not pass up the opportunity.  He’s on the verge of gaming, and we are trying to draw him. A way to add something he loves to something I think he’ll love was a no-brainer. I actually had him brainstorm some of the dinosaurs he’d like to see, and we talked about what sorts of things the dinosaurs might be doing.  It was awesome to see him use his imagination.
Never fear though, at the end of the day, Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions was written by a great team of writers (who aren’t 6 – that I know of), and overseen by J Gray, a talented developer.

If you love dinosaurs, or you have someone in your life who does, this is a great PDF to pick up.

Grab it today and make your game a little more prehistoric.

And because I don’t want you to think this is just a plug for an awesome product, here’s an encounter (not found in the book). The troodon can be found on the SRD, while the maiasaura is in Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions.


Encounter: Egg Thief

The PCs emerge from a dense jungle and find themselves at the edge of a large clearing filled with nests of maiasaura eggs. A dozen huge reptiles are spaced throughout the breeding grounds, paying close attention to their unborn children, and don’t seem to have noticed the PCs.  On the outskirts of the breeding grounds, fifty feet away from the PCs, a troodon can be seen eyeing an unattended nest.

Two rounds after the PCs arrival, a second troodon is seen across the clearing; it makes a move toward a nearby nest, and several maiasaura immediately take notice.  With a lot of noise, the soon-to-be-mothers charge toward the invading egg thief.  The nearby troodon makes its move, scurrying toward the closest nest. 

If the PCs don’t retreat, the maiasaura quickly notice the troodon near them fleeing with an egg, and attack all apparent invaders.

Dinovember

Warning: this post is a bit off topic for an RPG publisher’s website, maybe.  Humour me here.

If you haven’t heard about Dinovember yet, you are missing out.

This is a highlight for the dire rugrats in our lives, though by the end of the month it is often a burden on us as we scramble for yet another thing for the dinosaurs to do and Ken curses me for introducing it in the first place.

The dinosaurs got into the Halloween candy. It seems to be the way they start every Dinovember, and who can blame them?

DAY 1: The dinosaurs got into the Halloween candy. It seems to be the way they start every Dinovember, and who can blame them?

So here’s the deal: Dinovember started in 2012. The idea was that by capturing the moments when the plastic dinosaurs came to life and caused chaos in their house, Refe and Susan Tuma were “igniting the imaginations of hundreds of thousands of children–young and old–across the world.”

It took off like wildfire and since 2012 people have been sharing their own pictures of what their dinosaurs did last night.

With a new double toaster in the house, the dinosaurs seemed keen on making a midnight snack. Two points for team work?

DAY 2: With a new double toaster in the house, the dinosaurs seemed keen on making a midnight snack. Two points for team work?

It is a great way to get kids away from the screens, and back to using their imagination. We’ve often found our kids setting the dinosaurs up again, when they think we aren’t looking, and then announcing the dinosaurs did something else and showing us incredible and creative things. They are forever guessing what could be coming next, and they’ve learned to be really good sports when the dinosaurs have done terrible things (like eat some of their Halloween candy).

Another perk? I gained a better understanding of my toddler during Dinovember. How so? Well, I learned it is sickly satisfying to watch your kids scrub crayon off the fridge, after you had a great time putting it there. (Sorry kids – they’re your dinosaurs, you clean it up.)

The dinosaurs said goodbye to Halloween by smashing the pumpkins. "I am not impressed, dinosaurs," said Rugrat#2.

DAY 3: The dinosaurs said goodbye to Halloween by smashing the pumpkins. “I am not impressed, dinosaurs,” said Rugrat#2.

It’s a game we all get to play for the whole month. It forces Ken and me to be creative, and it helps the kids use their imaginations and believe in something amazing.

“There is only one thing that can make the dinosaurs come to life: MAGIC!” – Rugrat#1

I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos from this month so far; no doubt those dinosaurs will be up to more shenanigans before the month is through.

Have you ever done Dinovember? Share in the comments your favourite thing you’ve seen them do!