UK D&D Tweetup 4

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

For Immediate Release: Tuesday 29th Jan 2013

UK D&D Tweetup 4

The 4th annual UK D&D Tweetup, a D&D 4e mini event will be taking place in Leeds this spring. The event, which is organised mainly by D&D players on Twitter, will give some of the UK’s best dungeon masters and players the chance to get together and play D&D in the historic surroundings of Leeds City Museum.

The event will be held on Saturday 16th March, between 11am and 4pm at Leeds City Museum and will cost £5 to enter which includes a free gift and a strip of raffle tickets which will give you the chance to win some amazing prizes, donated by some well-known and some less well-known companies in the RPG world.
Started in 2010, the UK D&D Tweetups are a not-for-profit set of events run annually, and organised and promoted via Twitter. They are designed to allow the best of the UK D&D scene to meetup, chat about the game they love, and play in games that push the boundaries of what is expected from D&D 4th Edition. The Tweetup events attract a lot of industry support, with raffle prizes donated from household names in the RPG scene like Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Kobold Press, and this year is no different, with big name companies like TSR Inc donating several copies of their new Gygax Magazine to the prize fund, but also support from the unrecognized heroes of the genre that make kick ass products, such as Unknown Tome’s Trial of the Underkeep, Dias Ex Machina Games’ Ultramodern4, and Enhanced4e.

There has always been a mix of homebrew games, and official material from Wizards of the Coast at the tweetups, with the tweetup’s being priviledged to run the first international session of Shawn Merwins’ excellent Karalels Revenge and also the first international public playtest of the earliest iteration of the ‘D&D Next’ rules. In the past,the homebrew games have seen the characters shrunk to the size of mouse and face off against huge cats, had the players attempt to board a flying ship, and fight a blue dragon in his lair surrounded by smoke and flashes of lightning.

This years games see two freelancers for Kobold Press, Rich Green and Paul Baalham take up the mantle of Dungeon Master, with Rich showing of his political and story driven Parsantium campaign setting, and Paul demonstrating Kobold Press’ detailed and unique Midgard campaign setting, using the recently released Midgard Bestiary and Defenders of Midgard player supplement. Tweetup veteran, Symatt returns as a DM for the 4th year running, while organiser Adam Page steps up to run a murder mystery game set on a massive 3′x5′ map.

This year, the tweetups move from their previous location of Mondo Comico in Nottingham, and travel north to Leeds. The events will take place in the conference rooms of the Leeds City Museum, a beautifully restored Grade II listed building located in Leeds city centre on the edge of Millennium Square, a short walk from the train station. A £5 entry fee covers the room hire and insurance, a free gift, and a strip of raffle tickets for the prizes. Additional strips will be £1, with all proceeds going to Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Additional Information

What: The 4th annual D&D mini event, organised by twitter, giving some of the UK’s best DM’s and players a chance to meetup and play.
When: Sat 16th March, 11:00-16:00
Where: Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, Leeds, LS2 8BH
How Much: £5 entry fee, with free gift, and strip of raffle tickets.
Contact: Adam Page, adam@leedsdnd.co.uk, @adampageuk
Signup: http://www.facebook.com/events/477185702319052/
Systems Supported: D&D 4e

During our playtesting of D&D Next, we saw the v1 and v1.5 playtest documents. V1 was what was used at D&DXP and the UKT3 playtest, while version 1.5 gave us a sneak peak at their ideas for themes and feats at higher levels. Even those early versions were pretty damned good, and it’s nice to see how they revised the character pillars of race, class and theme into race (and sub race), class (with domain and rogue scheme), background and theme.

One aspect of character creation that I hope they’ve kept was an idea of equipment bundles, prepackaged items for each class to best suit their abilities, within the money budget you had. I liked the concept so much, I decided to create a few bundles of my own:

Battlerager – A bundle for a dwarven barbarian – axes, and lightweight armour to reduce the speed penalty, plus beer to celebrate/get in the mood.

Battleaxe, 2 x Handaxe, Hide Armour, Adventurers Pack, Barrel of Ale, Tankard

Tomb Raider – designed more for thieves, it focuses on equipment for getting around underground.

Shortsword, Leather Armour, Explorers Clothes, Adventurers Pack, Climbers Kit, Thieves Tools, Caltrops, Mirror, Magnifying Glass, Spade, Crowbar

Huntsman – a kit for archer fighters to give a wilderness ranger feel until we see the ranger.

Shortbow, Arrows (30), Handaxe, Hide armour, Cold Weather Clothes, Adventurers Pack, Climbers Kit, Fishing hook/net, Sewing kit, Tent, Signal whistle, Blanket

Bladedancer – a kit for flamboyant fighters.

Bastard Sword, Dagger, Studded Leather, Entertainers Clothes, Backpack, Ink+Pen (for signing autographs), Whetstone, Mirror, Soap, Sewing Kit

Sellsword – the equipment for a mercenary for hire, who roams the country, taking contracts to capture or kill.

Longsword, Dagger, Scalemail, Light Shield, Adventurers Pack, Travellers Clothes, Tent, Manacles

Pikeman – an equipment bundle for the common militia foot soldier who has who wants to keep their foes at a distance.

Halberd, Shortsword, Scalemail, Adventurers Pack, Blanket, Tent, Mug

City Guard – an equipment bundle for militia that have served within the trusted guard of a minor noble.

Longsword, Heavy Mace, Dagger, Scalemail, Courtiers Clothes, Torches (10), Tinderbox, Whetstone, Cloak, Tabard

On Tweetups & D&D Next

Posted: May 24, 2012 in D&D Next

I’ve been sat on this blog post since Sunday 5th Feb due the the NDA and blogging embargo that WotC asked playtesters to respect…

So, this weekend saw the 3rd UK D&D Tweetup, an event I organise via the social networking tool, which gives the various UK tweeters of the D&D community to meetup in real life, play the game and socialise.

The first event, in October 2010, was incredibly impromptu, and gave me a chance to play with Essentials characters, changing my opinion on them. The second tweetup, in March 2011, was planned further in advance, and we were able to contact various RPG companies around the world to gather an incredible amount of items for goodie bags and raffle prizes. In addition to this, WotC went out of their way to support us, with an incredible foreword about gaming with friends from Mike Mearls, a preview of rare magic items, and the Kalarel’s Revenge adventure (which I always say is the best 4e adventure ever).

This year, we had less support from companies, though a surprising amount given the financial climate. I’m always stunned at the support we do get. There were plenty of new faces at this years event, and our raffle raised a nice chunk of money.

The stand out thing for me though, was the chance to run the playtest adventure, Caves of Chaos, from D&D Next. Due to the timing of D&D XP and printer issues, I got about 1 nights prep done, reading the rules, the adventure and creating a story hook.

Yes, story hook… As with the original B2 (which was well before my time), the playtest adventure is a sandbox, with a totally DM driven story of why they were there. With such little time with the rules and adventure, and probably 5 years since i’d last done mini less, map less roleplaying with a new system, I went for something simple: a harvest festival, a wrestling match with the militia champion, being hired into the militia, and being sent into the caves to clear them out. (note: story hooks were added to the adventure in the revised 1.5 playtest version)

My framework was so simple that I didn’t bother to write it down, and decided to totally wing it on the day. I hand picked an excellent group from those present on the day, people I knew personally, people i’d gamed with before, people i’d heard in actual play podcasts, and younger and older members of the community. I was determined that the feedback I would give WotC would be the best…

It turns out that the people I picked gelled instantly, and the combination of classes, races and character themes gave them all the hooks needed to craft and bring a character to life. Rich Green (@richgreen01) took the german sounding name of his character to heart and made the character shine, Steph (@stephoodle) took out the rogue and used the amazing new skill system to her advantage, putting roleplaying into her pickpocketing. Her husband, Michael Fox of Little Metal Dog Show fame, brought a downright filthy perverted edge to the table… but it worked, it gave a fun quirk to the game and the other players roleplayed off it. His flamboyant actions in one combat… an act of selfless sacrifice, was stunning to behold.

So what of the new system? Well, I’d planned my story hook so that they could try out the new skill system, and the tweaked combat system before embarking into the caves. Turns out, the hook became more important than adventuring into the caves, and the players turned the festival into a major aspect of the playtest, with the character themes coming out in the roleplaying. We had demands of access to superiors, we had blacksmithing, we had pickpocketing, we had detecting magic, we had spells, we had fights, we had healing… And we probably rolled 10 dice during 2 hours of roleplay… When they say the ability score and DC system has changed, I can confirm it is for the better.

When they finally got into combat, it was swift and brutal… Monsters die quickly, allowing everybody to put their own cinematic flair to the combat. The rogue dealt so much damage to a goblin that she choose to neatly fillet the flesh from his bones. In other places, we had maces crushing skills, clubs made from tree branches slamming people into the air and magic missiles blasting through eye balls.

When we’d fnished the playtest, running out of time rather than clearing them out, we went to the pub to socialise. Even amongst those who hadn’t played in the playtest, there was an excited buzz, the smiling faces and attitude of my players rubbing off on the rest.

I’d tweeted previously that as long as D&D Next could create a fun atmosphere at the UK Tweetups I’d buy it, and given the fact that even an early playtest has that effect on the UK community, I can’t wait to see the final version.

So, at the moment based on the playtest, D&D Next is getting a big thumbs up from me! Well done Mr Meals, Mr Bilsland and Mr Cook!

The D&D Playtest Is Live

Posted: May 24, 2012 in D&D Next

The title says it all really, the first public playtest of the D&D Next core rules, races and classes is live. If you previously signed up to be notified of the playtest’s release, you’ll be emailed sometime today with a link to fill in a playtesting agreement , and from there, you will be emailed a download link (not currently working) for the actual materials.

As part of the playtesting agreement, it releases those of us who took part in the previous playtest from some aspects of our NDA and lets us take about our playtesting experience.

While many in the Friends and Family playtest kept their identity a secret, the fact that Mike Mearls thanked the UK D&D Tweetup in the announcement of the playtest release kind of blew any cover I had with regards playtesting. I am very thankful that Mike went out of his way to offer the materials to the UK community, and I hope that the feedback we sent was beneficial.

I ran between 15 and 20 games of D&D Next, in a variety of environments, some were face to face, some were online, some used minis, some used theatre of the mind, some used pre-gens, some used created characters. On the whole it was a really positive experience, and well received by those I was playtesting with. While there were concerns over some rules, that I hope have been addressed in the public playtest, everyone seemed to enjoy the steps WotC had made to both embrace the past of D&D and update the game to a new and robust edition.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the playtest and seeing how much of our feedback was taken on board.

The Rise of the Underdark puzzle hunt has gone live on the Drow Hub, check it out here: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/drow.aspx#dnd/drow/main/6

Ages ago, Lolth’s children descended into the depths of the earth. There, the dark elves have become mighty… and now they are ready! As the drow move against Faerun, help stand against them by uncovering their war plans and anticipating their dark plots.

Each week, three clues will be provided in various places—such as on the D&D website, through the D&D Facebook page, and on the D&D Twitter channel. Enter the answers to those clues, and if correct you’ll unlock knowledge about the drow (as well as special preview content).

If you’re not able to solve the clues (or don’t catch them in time), it will still be possible for you to solve the puzzles—with some help from your friends who solved it before you!

Shout of Triumph: Announce your success in solving each week’s puzzle across Facebook/Twitter!

Second Wind: Miss out on the clues? In the week following a given puzzle, you’ll be able to ask for help in finding lost clues.

Aid Another: Need more help? Friends that have solved a given puzzle can offer additional assistance two weeks later.

Cookies: If you have cookies disabled, or if you delete cookies from your machine, you will not be able to track your progress.

You reach Shadowdale at dusk. A looming hill of pure white stone stands above the town, weeds growing out of the many cracks across its surface. Everybody knows the name of this site – Old Skull. The drow that built Shadowdale in ancient times came out from passages underneath the hill, or so the legends say.

The few buildings of Shadowdale are surrounded by sprawling farms. You make your way to the crossroads at the center of town. There you find the inn whose sign shows the round white hill. You walk onto the wooden porch at the front of the three-story building. Warm liaht and the scent of a delicious dinner come from inside, welcoming you to the Old Skull Inn.

And so began the introduction to the new seasons of Encounters, Web of the Spider Queen. During this season, you’ll meet and interact, and be supported by plenty of NPC’s, including some of legend… You’ll be tasked with infiltration and retreival, you’ll experience the dangers of the Underdark, fight one of my favourite mini (web golem!), and generally kick drow arse throughout the season, culminating in a pretty intense final battle in the Tower of Ashaba.

So how did you fair last night in the battle with the drow in the Old Skull Inn?

Mik’s group played 2 sessions of this, the photos are here: http://www.meetup.com/EMRPGG/photos/8482072/ and http://www.meetup.com/EMRPGG/photos/8482342/

The guys over at DungeonsMaster.com have once again ripped apart their package from WotC and spilt the beans on what to expect (http://dungeonsmaster.com/2012/05/its-here-lair-assault-spiderkiller/), in a very unspoilerish way. If you’re aiming on coming to the Spider Killer attmept at Mondo Comico on the 9th of June, this might be useful to read…