Gettin' Mini with It: Nolzur's Marvelous Brush Set, P3 Paints from Privateer Press, and The Army Painter Project Paint Station

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Gettin' Mini with It: Nolzur's Marvelous Brush Set, P3 Paints from Privateer Press, and The Army Painter Project Paint Station

We could spend a thousand years just talking about types of paints, miniatures, and the miniature painting process as an art-form and hobby. In fact, we have several painters on our team. Rather than push you down an overwhelming rabbit hole all at once, I'd like to set you up with some great products that can help you get started on your painting adventure over the next few days!

Today we'll focus on paints and brushes!

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We have discussed our passion for Privateer Press previously in regards to Warmachine: Hordes and we did a Let's Paint video for the "Circle Orboros" starter box. However, Privateer Press also makes a great line of P3 paints and brushes that you can find at your FLGS. They offer a  variety of matte and metallic acrylics, washes, and primers to choose from. While not as exciting as all the pretty colors, don't forget to prime your miniature before you start applying paint or there won't be anything for the paint to stick to and you'll likely lose your precious work. With so many paints to choose from, it's hard to select your first set, but make sure you at least grab you primaries (red, blue, yellow) and white so that you can mix your own base coats and highlights. If you mix your paints on a damp paper towel (called a wet palette), it will preserve the paints longer and make the most of all the pots you purchase. 

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This brings us to brushes! The basics you'll need are a small detail brush, a slightly larger base-coat brush (which doesn't require as much precision), and a dry brush. Privateer Press makes some good brushes along with their P3 Paints and The Army Painter's brushes have really nice grips to help you steady and control your application. However, Nolzur's Marvelous Brush Set from Gale Force Nine should not be overlooked because they sell all three of your basic brushes in one package! 

If you're ready to make an investment in a really great set of acrylic paints, washes, and effects paints, then the Mega Paint Set from The Army Painter is a great option. It comes with a stand to array all of your paints on your craft table as well as one of their triangular gripped brushes. When you're ready to truly expand your primary colors into a spectrum of possibilities, this is 100% a great set to acquire with one of the most recommended detail brushes on the market.

What are your favorite paints and brushes to use?

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Gettin' Mini with It: Pathfinder Pawns

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Gettin' Mini with It: Pathfinder Pawns

Do you want an arsenal of pawns for your RPG's? We can't recommend Paizo's Pathfinder Pawns enough when it comes to volume, variety, and cost!

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The NPC codex is fantastic for all of your humanoid needs, whether you're letting your players choose one to represent them or you need to table a hoard of cultists to face off against their heroes. You'll find all the most common races represented - including halflings and gnomes - of all classes/genders. This is some of the best money you can spend if you're not ready to dive into miniature collecting and the boxes work for easy storage that fits right on your shelf next to your rule books.

Are you looking for monsters or something to represent druid or polymorph forms? Bestiary boxes are your best bet! They have a mixture of classic monsters and animals with beautiful art to match. If you are playing Pathfinder, each box's number corresponds to the bestiary book number so you won't have to guess whether what you're looking for is inside.

Looking to split the difference? The Pathfinder Society Pawn Collection features several humanoid and creature options for your table. These correspond to the Pathfinder Society adventure, but can easily be used for any game.

One of the best parts about these boxes is they come with stands that represent correct size foot prints from medium sized creatures on up to huge so you can be sure you're getting an accurate sense of scale even though each pawn is flat.

Do you own any of these boxes? How are you using them in your games?

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Gettin' Mini with It: Help for Players and Dungeon Masters Who Don't Paint

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Gettin' Mini with It: Help for Players and Dungeon Masters Who Don't Paint

It's Week 3 of Dungeons & Dragons: Let's Roll, which means it's time to get mini with it! Miniatures can be really intimidating for folks who can't paint, but Wizkids has some amazing pre-painted tools that can help you bring battles to life whether you've never held a brush in your life or you just don't have time to paint an army of evildoers to take on your players. 

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Let's start with some products to help non-painting players get started.

Not everyone is ready to dive into painting and WizKids has you covered with pre-painted Icons of the Realms miniatures. They sell them individually or even in starter boxes, so you and your party and all go in on one and share the spoils. They even have Ravnica specific Icons of the Realms coming out so you'll be ready for the upcoming Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica Magic: The Gathering campaign setting!

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Dungeon Master's are fun facilitators in D&D and there's nothing like the moment when the big bad appears on the battle grid and it's time to roll initiative. That's a lot of pressure, painting, and cost placed squarely on the shoulders of the GM - especially if they don't fancy themselves miniature painters.

To that end, WizKids provides prepainted Icons of the Realms miniatures in a "Classic Creatures" box set as well as "Monster Menagerie" boxes with villains and monsters that tower over the Icons of the Realms miniatures, striking awe and fear into the hearts of your players. With these tools, you can build your collection without needing to know how to paint!

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Quest Accepted: Out of the Abyss and Tomb of Annihilation

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Quest Accepted: Out of the Abyss and Tomb of Annihilation

Lastly, we'll round out our campaign breakdowns with a look at two adventures that take you to far flung reaches of the Dungeons & Dragons realms for a completely different experience. 

Choose Your Adventure: Out of the Abyss - Rage of Demons

Leave behind the sunlit vales of Faerun and escape the Drow denizens of the Underdark - a maze of twisted gargantuan caverns where madness lurks around every bend and bioluminescent horrors lay in wait. Something truly terrible awaits you in the darkness where demons threaten to break through to the surface world. This adventure has been described as a subterranean “Wonderland-esque” chase.

Support this adventure with a custom Rage of Demons DM screen from Gale Force Nine and figures for key characters from their Icons of the Realms line.

Choose Your Adventure: Tomb of Annihilation

Ride dinosaurs through the tropical jungles surrounding of Chult and discover the Tomb of Annihilation - a lethal catacomb of horrors and traps that will test bravery, skill, and cunning. Home to the classic Dungeons and Dragons villainous Lich, Acererak, this campaign was inspired by one of the all time best selling adventures: Tomb of Horrors. This adventure is non-stop action from the go with curious villains.

Support this dungeon delve adventure with a custom DM screen from Gale Force Nine and figures for key characters from their Icons of the Realms line.

 

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Our Adventuring Party - Meet Sydretorian, Half-Elf Bard

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Our Adventuring Party - Meet Sydretorian, Half-Elf Bard

I first was introduced to Dunegons & Dragons crica 2002. I’d always known of its existence, but always kept it at arm’s length. For some reason growing up, no matter how much I could geek out over Final Fantasy, or adore my favorite comic book characters, lose myself for hours (days? weeks?) in MMORPGs, or re-watch the entire Star Wars trilogy at least once a week (remember when there were only 3?)… D&D always felt like it was in a category of nerdom that was somehow beyond the level of geek that I was comfortable with embracing. I don’t know if it was the advent of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films in the early ‘00s that finally tipped the scales or not, but when a new friend said “Hey, come try it out, I promise it’ll be fun”, I finally relented and figured it was time to see what role-playing games were really all about. Two weeks later I couldn’t wait to run down to the local hobby shop to buy my own copy of the 3.5 edition Player’s Handbook, and things haven’t been the same since.

 Sydretorian's Character Sheet, courtesy of DNDBeyond.com

Sydretorian's Character Sheet, courtesy of DNDBeyond.com

A Matter of Class

Fast-forward 15 years or so and save for a lapse in activity during the 4th edition era, I’ve created, played, lost, or just filed away ideas for dozens of characters, and D&D has never been far from my gaming mind. I once on a whim pulled an all-nighter home-brewing my own 3.5e character class I called the Telekinetic (which I can now admit to my friends was in fact just a way for me to shoehorn a Jedi into a traditional Gygax fantasy world). I’ve always loved the creative space of coming up with unique characters and simple yet alluring story hooks; perhaps almost more than even playing them out! So as the APN team set out to create a ragtag crew of adventurers, I spent a while trying to come up with something I’d never done before. I’d played fighters and rogues, wizards and monks, but realized I’d never in my years explored the granddaddy of support classes: the Bard. As a long-time lover of music and with our party being pretty large I decided a Bard would be the perfect fit for our little team experiment. So it was decided that Sydretorian, the Half-Elf Bard was born!

Maintain Against the Grain?

When coming up with a concept for Sydretorian, or Syd as I’d take to calling him for short (I always enjoy elaborate fantasy names which can be easily shortened or nick-named; in fact, I started with Syd and just started adding syllables until it sounded reasonably Elvish!), the first step (before even having his name) was settling on his race. A loud voice in my head is always telling me to play against the grain and do something that mechanically works in direct opposition to the class’s goals. For example, a half-orc which suffers a penalty to their Charisma score would not normally be the “correct” choice for a Bard, since the class relies heavily on their Charisma score to perform, cast spells, and more. Voluntarily taking on a hurdle like that creates a challenging role play situation and forces me as a player to get more creative in the game to overcome challenges. So Syd was ALMOST created to be a half-orc, but eventually a combination of the quieter but more rational voice in my head, as well as the fact that I’d never in all my years played a half-elf, won over.

 Narbash from Paragon, partial inspiration for Sydretorian

Narbash from Paragon, partial inspiration for Sydretorian

How Do I Get Infinite Respawning Throwing Hammers?

With the race, class, and character name out of the way, the next most important thing for me was deciding on what kind of Bard and musician Syd would be. Concept art for Bards inevitably features a jovial fellow with a lute, and I thought to myself, “Self, everyone knows how cool lutes are, but there’s got to be something even COOLER that you could do”. So I kept soul searching, until inspiration struck me one afternoon: Narbash. A bard-like character in the (now defunct, RIP) MOBA game Paragon, Narbash charged into battle with an entire rack of drums & cymbals hanging around his neck and used bones as drum sticks. As a real-life drummer myself, Narbash’s percussionist style naturally resonated with me and I thought maybe something like that would be Syd’s claim to musical fame! But the more I considered the logistics of trying to stand near an enemy and strike them with my weapons with a set of tom drums in the way, I knew I had to keep tinkering with the idea. After all, I wasn't going to get to throw hammers at enemies and have them magically reappear in my hand like in a video game now, was I?

So I liked the lute, but it just wasn’t enough. I loved the drums idea, but they’d need to stay clear of the action. What’s an bard to do? Finally, the idea evolved to its final form: The One-Man Band. You know, like the guy you see down at Pier 39 in San Francisco. That weird guy playing several instruments at once by what appears to be erratic flailing of his limbs. The guy that panhandles for money and seems like a really silly street performing gimmick, but deep down you know anyone that chooses that for their career has GOT to have some stories. Now I was on to something, and I’d found Sydretorian’s place in the world. A peculiar half-elf with a passion for music and performing, but also for seeing the world, it’s various cultures, and all the tales they have to offer. All with his lute in tow, a pan flute in his pack, and a kick drum strapped to his back with its mallets tied to his boots. You know, like one does.

 Sydretorian the Bard, courtesy of HeroForge.com!

Sydretorian the Bard, courtesy of HeroForge.com!

Want To Know How I Got This Patch?

The final step in the process is for me to start coming up with the physical description of the character. Being a half-elf isn’t generally going to lead to the most glamorous or unique looking individual, but having drafted a relatively colorful character concept I figured I’d need to find some ways to make him stand out. Shout out to Hero Forge for their ability to help players bring their fantasy characters to life, and without which I’d perhaps never settled on his side-shaved top-knot haircut, devilish goatee and cocky demeanor, or the eye-patch slung over his left eye (the origin of which Syd carries a multitude of Dark Knight Joker-like scar stories; will anyone ever hear the real story? Is he even missing the eye?) Toss on a comfy traveling shirt, a colorful kilt, and a book of songs and Syd was ready to make his debut into the world.

 

With a quirky concept I was happy with, I presented Syd to our wonderful DM for her blessing on having a menagerie of starting instruments instead of the usual one. It was agreed upon but met with some questions with regards to where the instruments came from, is there anything special about them, etc. (among other character motivation-related inquiries), to which I honestly hadn’t considered. And as we prepare to go deeper into our campaign over the coming months, I still don’t know if there will be anything special about them, and that’s okay, even exciting to me. I believe in the idea that playing Dungeons & Dragons is a collaborative experience in telling stories, and that means involving everyone in your character’s stories; even the DM. I want my characters to belong to my party and to my DM as much as they belong to me, and for the DM to have the freedom and ability to surprise ME with twists about my own character that I hadn’t anticipated or thought of. That level of creativity and co-ownership of the experience is what really creates the long-lasting memories that made me fall in love with D&D so many years ago.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go explore the Underdark (and find my stolen instruments now that we’re out of that cell!)

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Quest Accepted: Tyranny of Dragons: Rise of Tiamat, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and Princes of the Apocalypse

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Quest Accepted: Tyranny of Dragons: Rise of Tiamat, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and Princes of the Apocalypse

We are at it again, helping you choose your next adventure! Yesterday we talked about Curse of Strahd and Storm King's Thunder. Today we'll take a closer look at the Tyranny of Dragons campaign set and Princes of the Apocalypse: Elemental Evil. One is is subsequently very Dragon heavy and one is very dungeon crawl heavy!

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Choose Your Adventure: Tyranny of Dragons

In the Rise of Tiamat, discover and stem the rising tide of the Cult of the Dragon and in Hoard of the Dragon Queen, rush to prevent the five headed dragon goddess from escaping her prison in the Nine Hells so that she can lay waste to Faerun. This two part adventure is everything you could want from a high fantasy epic - moving from small adventures in the lower levels as every day lives are effected by doomsday threats from the Cult of the Dragon and political factions move to protect their interests, to facing down the Goddess Tiamat herself in the second half of the adventure.

You can also enhance your Tyranny of Dragons experience with Icons of the Realms figures and an adventure specific DM screen from Gale Force Nine.

Choose Your Adventure: Princes of the Apocalypse

Four corrupt princes rise with four corrupt prophets as you face four lethal elemental temples. Confront cadres of cultists and creatures bound to the service of the Elder Elemental Eye. Search for the source of elemental corruption and save the Sword Coast from the Princes of the Apocalypse.

Support the campaign with a DM Screen from Gale Force Nine and Elemental Evil Booster Bricks chock full of miniatures from Wizkids!

Have you played these adventures? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

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Quest Accepted: Curse of Strahd and Storm King's Thunder

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Quest Accepted: Curse of Strahd and Storm King's Thunder

So you're ready to play Dungeons & Dragons. You've got your dice, your GM Starter Kit and your Player Starter Kits. What's next?

Adventure awaits! Over the next few days we'll be giving you the skinny on all the published adventures from Wizards of the Coast so that you can decide which one might be right for your party. 

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Choose Your Adventure: Curse of Strahd

Walk the cursed misty streets of Barovia and face the dread vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich. Meet Romani bands, battle alongside vampire hunters, and risk becoming damned yourself as you explore the halls of Castle Ravenloft and discover what lays hidden in the darkness.

This fantasy-horror adventure covers levels 1-10 and is not for the faint of heart.

Check out Gale Force Nine's awesome campaign accessories. Tarokka cards are used by a key non-player-character, Madam Eva, and help the GM determine the party's part in several story milestones. They created a physical set for use with Curse of Strahd and they bring a spark of magic and immersion to the table that players won't soon forget. They also developed a campaign specific DM screen to help guide your adventure as well as miniatures to represent several key characters.

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Choose Your Adventure: Storm King's Thunder

The Storm Giant King is missing and all the elemental Giant factions fall into a curious war, destroying towns and disrupting the lives of the small folk in Faerun. You band together with a group of heroes sworn to uncover the mysteries behind the conflict, uncover magical artifacts, and evade the ruthless Uthgardt barbarian tribes that haunt the Frozen North.

This adventure runs from Level 1-11+ and draws inspiration from folk tales and Norse mythology.

Gale Force Nine kills it again with Storm Kings Thunder Accessories. From their GM Screen to the Icons of the Realms line of miniatures from Wizkids, it's easy to enhance your table.
 

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Quest Accepted: Player Starter Kit

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Quest Accepted: Player Starter Kit

Yesterday we covered everything a DM needs to start their journey, but what about the players? Let's run through what our heroes need before their epic saga can commence!

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The very first thing you'll need is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition Player's Handbook from Wizards of the Coast. This is your guide to choosing your race (ie. Dwarf, Human, Elf, etc.), selecting your class (ie. Paladin, Monk, Wizard, Bard, Fighter, etc.) and leveling up throughout the game. If you're new to role playing, it has insightful tips, backgrounds, and traits for you to choose from that will help you bring your new character to life at the table. You'll also have a quick reference for spells and rules to keep you on the road to victory!

One of the best things I can recommend for you in to get yourself a Character Folio from Ultra Pro. This paper character sheet could be with you for a night or five years and you want to make sure that you're keeping it fresh and out of harms way. While you can absolutely find resources for phone apps to house your character sheet, Dungeons & Dragons is about being together and unplugging from the outside world so you can go on an adventure. Each of these folios comes with clear sleeves for your character sheet and notes. Erasing your HP during combat and the repeated wear and tear of changing your stats as you gain levels can cause you to have to refresh your character sheet and re-write in all of your stats on fresh paper. You can reduce that by using the folio and tracking your combat stats with wet erase marker on the plastic sleeve, meaning you only have to erase or add notes when you're leveling up or gaining/selling/losing magical items. These folios come with all sorts of art from the D&D books, so you can choose something that inspires you and get rolling!

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Quest Accepted: The Dungeon Master's Starter Kit and Dice Galore!

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Quest Accepted: The Dungeon Master's Starter Kit and Dice Galore!

Welcome to week two of D&D: Let's Roll! This week, we'll be focusing on taking our next steps into the larger world of role playing. This week of content is all about actually sitting down to play Dungeons & Dragons and will assist you with gathering all the tools you need whether you're planning to be a Dungeon Master or a player. We want to make sure that you have a list of items that will make you comfortable with managing the rules and focused on story telling with your friends, which is where the magic happens!

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This is my recommended DM starter kit! For real, taking up the mantle of Dungeon Master can be intimidating. Having the right tools from Wizards of the Coast means you can keep the emphasis on immersive story telling through-out role play and combat.

While the Player's handbook covers all the rules you'll need to know, the Dungeon Master's Guide expands your arsenal of world-building tips, alternative rules to suit your play-style, and a cornucopia of magical items to bestow on your adventurers. The Monster Manual provides a non stop shop of creatures to help and hinder the party and keep them guessing about both the horrors and wonders they'll face.

Nothing makes you feel more like a DM than your very own screen! Confidence only grows when you can spread out your notes, miniatures, and more under cover of darkness! You'll have combat actions, DC ratings, and condition rules all at your finger tips. Character Condition Tokens give you the tools to run monsters with more complicated abilities, track any conditions they force on the party and keep your friends on their toes as you increase the challenges they face.

Adventure Grids allow you to quickly sketch battlemaps with wet erase markers and ensure faire and equitable combat for both Dungeon Master and Player Characters.

Lastly, a tool that will follow you to any role playing system is Paizo's Starfinder Combat Pad. Magnets allow you to track initiative order for heroes and villains and rounds - as well as make notes about hit point totals in wet erase marker. This is truly one of the best tools on the market to improve your game.

With these basic tools, even brave new DM's will be ready to roll!

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Whether you're the Dungeon Master or a Player, you're going to need a set of 7 polyhedral dice to get rolling! Each dice is referred to as "d" followed by the number of sides it has.

A D20 is used for attacks and skill checks. It is the most commonly rolled of your set and will determine whether you succeed at doing what your character wants to do.

You'll use your d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12 for determning the damage of your attacks.

A d10 percentile dice might be used if you're a wild mage, using a magical item with myriad possible effects, or if you're a faith based class calling upon the power of your god. They aren't used often, but it's often exciting when they are!

Chessex makes a great range of colorful and exciting polyhedral dice that are sure to enchant and inspire you at the table.

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Adventuring for Dummies: Storm King's Thunder, Assault of Giants, Lords of Waterdeep, and Tales from the Yawning Portal

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Adventuring for Dummies: Storm King's Thunder, Assault of Giants, Lords of Waterdeep, and Tales from the Yawning Portal

Is it already the end of week one? Let's have a look at the rest of our board games and resources that make it easy to dip your toes into dungeon delving. 

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Unlike some of the other Dungeons & Dragons board games that we've shared this week, Assault of the Giants from Wizkids is a competitive area control game with victory points to determine the winner. This game gives a glimpse of the different giants cultures you'll discover and interact with in the Storm King's Thunder campaign and will help you understand the concept of the Ordenning which plays a key role in that adventure. 

Learn more from The Dice Tower.

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Waterdeep is a sprawling metropolis that has oft been referred to as "fantasy NYC." If that sparks your interest, you may be interested in playing the forthcoming Waterdeep Adventures: Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage. However, if you're still on the edge, you might want to ease your way into Waterdhavian society with Lords of Waterdeep and its expansion Scoundrels of Skullport. Each player takes on the role of one of the 11 masked rulers of Waterdeep and competes for influence over the domain. The game will also introduce you to the five most influential factions in Waterdeep, the Red Sashes, City Watch, the Harpers, the Knights of the Shield, and the Silverstars - each of which play a key role in D&D adventures. You'll get to know the culture and layout of the city that will house both upcoming campaigns and grab a head start on your journey into "The City of Splendors."

Watch Wil Wheaton Felicia Day, Pat Rothfuss, and Brandon Laatsch play Lords of Waterdeep on TableTop!

We've talked a lot about new players this week, but of course, there will always be veteran players who played D&D many editions ago and might want to return to beloved adventure modules from the past 40+ years that are no longer compatible with the 5th edition rules. If you're looking to the glory days and breathe new life into these classics, Tales from the Yawning Portal is exactly what you're looking for. You'll find such adventures as:

  • Against the Giants
  • Dead in Thay
  • Forge of Fury
  • Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
  • Sunless Citadel
  • Tomb of Horrors
  • White Plume Mountain

Learn more in this epic review from DawnforgedCast

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Best Tabletop Gaming Accessories

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Best Tabletop Gaming Accessories

The right gaming accessory can change the entire experience of the game itself - whether that's organizing the components of your favorite game, protecting character sheets and cards, or even just enhancing the ambience of your gaming table. Our APN Team rounded up some of their favorites to share with you this week!

Jayme B.

Ultimate Guard Digital Life Pad

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Not every game has perfect player aids; and I learned early on that creating my own can foster a much better play experience for the other folks at the table. (Nobody needs to sit and watch me rifle through a manual when I forget my turn options or the sequence of play.) The new digital life pads from Ultimate Guard provide a clean, eco-friendly, digital solution to my desire to take notes or create cheat sheets for myself, all while leaving my cellphone OFF the table and therefore eliminating distractions. They come in 5” or 9” sizes, have a stylus that is comfortable to hold and write with, and are affordable enough that I think I might pick up a few extras just to have them on-hand for guests at game night!

Ryan

Playmat of Choice

I still remember the first time I used a playmat. I was new to the World of Warcraft TCG, and had picked up a starter product that included several booster packs, a deck-box, and a playmat (the Scourgewar Epic Collection, for you old-timers out there). At first, gathering around the kitchen table, my friends and I thought, “cool art I guess, but gosh what a silly product, why would people spend money a giant mouse pad?”. Then I actually used it: wow, what a difference! The soft nature of a playmat makes picking up and manipulating cards during play so much easier and more natural. Ever try to pick up a card laying flat on your table, and end up just opting to slide it off the end to avoid constantly picking at the edges of the card? Never again once you use a playmat! Now I never head to my FLGS for TCG nights without a playmat in the car, and 9-times-out-of-10 will even opt for buying optional playmats for my board games when they’re available. And that cool art I mentioned before? That’s just a bonus. 😊

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Matte Sleeves

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This will come across as perhaps the most mundane of items to call “life changing”, but not unlike my take on playmats above, I wasn’t always a believer. As I explored the trading card game scene more many years ago I came to understand that card sleeves were so much more than what most see as a way to “protect your investment” (though they do that too). For me, I quickly realized what a difference sleeves made when shuffling a deck of cards, be it in TCG matches where it’s a constant element of the experience, or even in board games that are card-heavy (especially deck-building games!). From there, there were what felt like an overwhelming number of options: What do I buy? What brand? What size? What finish? Art, or non-art? All of these questions have answers (and some of them more important than you may realize!), but generally speaking I found that matte finish sleeves were the ones for me. Not only do they look super sleek on the table, they feel great and shuffle smoothly as well. I find myself often going back and forth between Dragon Shield’s matte line, or Ultra PRO’s Eclipse line. Can’t go wrong with either!

Jayme C.

Ultra PRO: Dungeons and Dragons Character Folio

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Recently I’ve jumped into playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time, and I am super pleased with these character folios. Being able to organize my character sheet and spell cards all in one place at my fingertips is perfect. As well as having the ability to write on the sheet protectors and easily adjusting my stats makes learning the game a smoother experience. Having extra storage never hurts either for all the supplementary notes I keep accumulating.

 

 

 

Dragon Shield: Playmat – Limited Edition

Out of all the fantasy creatures, dragons are my absolute favorite. Arcane Tinmen knocks it out of the park with their limited edition playmats. The playmats have stitched, rounded edges and absolutely beautiful artwork. They come with a collectible coin, in either gold, silver, or bronze. With gold being the most rare and bronze the most common. A fun addition is that you can use the coin with the notches on the case to track your life total, and the coin itself is a very comfortable weight. With the huge range of colors available you can bet I have a nice hoard of these playmats! 

Justin

Board Games Sleeves by Arcane Tinmen

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I am the crazy gamer that sleeves everything. The idea of a card game getting all bent up, chipped on the edges, and coated in snack dust is enough to give me nightmares. I used Dragon Shield sleeves for years (also awesome and made by Arcane Tinmen) but they were just a little too rigid for my liking. So I tried out the Board Game Sleeves and instantly fell in love. They are durable, non-glare and shuffle smooth all while being pliable and stackable how I want. They also come in every board game card size you can imagine. Definitely the best sleeves to get IMHO.

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Adventuring for Dummies: Princes of the Apocalypse, The Temple of Elemental Evil, The Curse of Strahd, and Castle Ravenloft

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Adventuring for Dummies: Princes of the Apocalypse, The Temple of Elemental Evil, The Curse of Strahd, and Castle Ravenloft

This week we're looking at products that make great introductions to the gameplay and settings of Dungeons & Dragons. Today, we'll be looking at two more games for the adventure and campaign building co-operative board game adventure system series from Wizards of the Coast. 

The Temple of Elemental Evil, from WizKids, is compatible with Wrath of Ashardalon, Legend of Drizzt, Tomb of Annihilation, and Castle Ravenloft. If you're looking for a traditional fantasy campaign where the big bad isn't an evil dragon, we recommend The Temple of Elemental Evil as a primer for the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign and a quick overview of the Sword Coast's locations, denizens, and culture!

Check out this great "Let's Play" from Wizards of the Coast and dive right into the second adventure!

This is the title that started the D&D board game series from Wizards of the Coast. If you're thinking of embarking on a gothic horror themed adventure in Barovia via the Curse of Strahd campaign, then this Castle Ravenloft a perfect opportunity to explore Strahd's infamous castle and play as several classic class archetypes. 

For a quick breakdown of this classic, watch this review from GamerNode!

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Our Adventuring Party - Meet Tango Foxtrotter, Halfling Cleric

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Our Adventuring Party - Meet Tango Foxtrotter, Halfling Cleric

When I found out we were going to play Dungeons & Dragons as a team, I was ecstatic. The last time I'd played was in college, so roughly 15 years ago. I was ready to check out the latest edition and see how much had changed. I was also ready to let my creative juices flow and decided I would be creating a character outside my comfort zone, far from my normal 6'6" Fighter style character. So where exactly did the idea for Tango Foxtrotter, Halfling Cleric of Tymora, come from and what makes him unique?

What's in a Name?

I didn't have any firm idea for a character in my mind; however, the first thing I decided was to play one of the smaller stature races: dwarf, halfling, gnome. I'm 6'5" in real life and always play fighters in games, so wanted to try and see what it would be like to view the world from a different perspective. Glancing over each race, Halflings seemed to have a certain laissez-faire look on life I wanted to explore. From there, I started looking at Halfling names on the internet and found they mainly derived from Hobbit names (shocker!). That's when I found the given name "Tango" and everything started falling into place inside my head. Perusing how family names worked for Halflings helped me come up with Foxtrotter, something tongue in cheek to go with the not so serious nature of the character. Maybe one day he'll earn the nickname I keep thinking about, but that's many adventures and hard drinks ahead.

O Serpent Heart Hid with a Flowering Face!

I am about to admit something slightly embarrassing. Every decision after choosing Tango's name stemmed from an image that popped into my mind. Not what would be best for the group. Not what would be best for the campaign setting. Specifically, his clothes and demeanor. He was disheveled, had a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow, sported a well worn leather duster over disheveled dress clothes that were wrinkled and loosely tucked,  had a twinkle of mischief in his eye and a friendly smile. A degenerate gambler who cheated the rich and gave to the poor using loaded dice and marked cards like Robin Hood uses bow & arrows. You'd think that would have led me to the obvious class, Thief, but just wasn't in the cards for Tango.

Oh, I am Fortune's Fool!

Tango is a true gambler at heart and gambling isn't fun if you always win. He can't resist taking bets with big payoffs or wiping the smug looks off his so called "betters". Which means he gets into trouble a lot. Good thing he has the blessings of the goddess Tymora, AKA Lady Luck, on his side. Got caught with five of a kind? Nothing a little Charm Person can't fix to remind your mark what good friends you are and there's no hard feelings. You thought you saw mark on a couple cards and want to examine them? Not before I talk your head off a little while doing a little Mending under the table. And if all else fails, there's nothing like good ol' fashioned Cure Wounds to get moving again after a punch or 10. Our Smiling Lady is a fickle mistress, though, as Tango is coming to realize. He hasn't been able to figure out what he's done to make her mad, only that his terrible run of bad luck all started with him "winning" a card game he should have definitely lost to a mysterious cloaked figure. And now, misfortune after misfortune has led him to the unenviable position of prisoner in the Underdark.

Wisely and Slow; They Stumble That Run Fast

There is much more for me to learn about Tango as our game continues. Who was the love he lost that set him on his current path? Why does he feel the need to prove himself to Tymora? Why is he driven to bring those of higher station down a peg? Our adventure has just begun, but already I feel like the drastic events that led him from happy-go-lucky gambler to down-on-his-luck prisoner have taken a toll. He is more inclined to watch and listen before trying to talk his way or heal his way out of every jam; however, he's still not afraid to do what he thinks is right and charge into danger without thinking. After all, fortune favors the bold!

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Adventuring for Dummies: Out of the Abyss, Legend of Drizzt, Tyrants of the Underdark

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Adventuring for Dummies: Out of the Abyss, Legend of Drizzt, Tyrants of the Underdark

Welcome back to another fantastic day of D&D: Let's Roll! Today we are journeying deep into the Underdark to talk to you about two board games from Wizards of the Coast that can help you decide if the Out of the Abyss campaign is right for you!

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Legend of Drizzt from Gale Force Nine follows along with the book series of the same title. The board game, published by Wizards of the Coast, utilizes the same system as Wrath of Ashardalon and Castle Ravenloft so if you've played those titles, you'll be able to jump right in. 

In this game, you can play as Drizzt himself along with various other companions from the book series. Much like Out of the Abyss, the characters are attempting to escape the horrors of the Underdark and will face classic enemies from the setting, making this a great analogue for the starting events of Out of the Abyss campaign. 

Learn more about the game from Wizards of the Coast and Rodney Thomson. 

In Tyrants of the Underdark - also by Gale Force Nine - you can take a deep dive into Drow Culture! The rule book comes chock full of interests facts about the dark elf culture, which is something you'll have to contend with in Out of the Abyss. Unlike many of the other adventure or campaign based co-op games we've talked about so far in Let's Roll, this is a deck building and area control game. This game and its expansion Aberrations and Undead, however, does include many of the characters and foes you might come across in Out of the Abyss, giving you a chance to get your bearings before you start a campaign which hangs its hat on epic dark fantasy, horror, and madness. 

Learn more from The Dice Tower!

 

 

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D&D in the Classroom

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D&D in the Classroom

Dragon Talk remains an incredible resource! In their latest episode, Texas teacher and native Kade Wells from Teaching with D&D returns to the podcast with New Jersey educator Sarah Roman to talk about how teachers are using Dungeons & Dragons in the classroom. 

The interview starts at 30:30, but Dragon Talk also boasts a fantastic lore section with DM to the stars, host of Dice, Camera, Action!, and game designer for D&D: Chris Perkins.

Subscribe to Dragon Talk on Podbean to make sure you never miss an episode. 

Follow the amazing hosts on Twitter:

Greg Tito: @Gregtito
Shelly Mazzanoble: @shellymoo

Follow guest Sarah Roman:

Sarah Roman: @A_BildungSROMAN

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Adventuring for Dummies: D&D 5e Starter Set, Tomb of Annihilation Board Game, and Wrath of Ashadalon

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Adventuring for Dummies: D&D 5e Starter Set, Tomb of Annihilation Board Game, and Wrath of Ashadalon

This week we're looking at products that make it easier to jump into D&D or the worlds of the various published campaigns so you don't bite off more than you are prepared to chew. Here are some more great tools to introduce you to campaign settings and Faerun at large!

Even if you've moved past board games and want to jump into a role playing adventure, being handed a Player's Handbook or the Dungeon Master's Guide with 200+ pages of info per book can be a hard pill to swallow. Why not start out with a 5 pre-generated characters, a 64 page adventure module (Lost Mine of Phandelver), and a 32 page rulebook focused on levels 1-5? This box gives you everything you need to get playing quickly while keeping you from getting overwhelmed so you can focus on falling in love with Dungeons & Dragons. Before you know it, you'll be jumping into a published campaign or creating your own adventures!

Learn more about the D&D Starter Set from Dice, Camera, Action! star, ProJared!

Not sure Tomb of Annihilation's tropical island full of volcanoes, overgrown jungles, dinosaurs, and pirates is right for you next adventure? Take a tour of the setting with the Tomb of Annihilation Board Game from WizKids and face the classic Dungeons & Dragons arch lich villain, Acererak! Unlike the other games in the D&D Board Game in the series, this game adds the Bard class and outdoor tiles to the mix.

Learn more about the Tomb of Annihilation Board Game from Board Game Geek!

Are you considering running Rise of Tiamat or Hoard of the Dragon Queen from Tyranny of Dragons with your gaming group? Fan the flames with Wrath of Ashardalon by Wizards of the Coast! This game offers one session stories or campaign style play with classic D&D archetypal characters and no need for a Dungeon Master. This game will introduce you to classic dragon related story elements, behavior, and minions who typically serve/protect the terrifying wyrms that you're sure to meet when you play a Tyranny of Dragons campaign. 

Learn more about game play from Watch It Played!

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Where Can I Watch Dungeons & Dragons?

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Where Can I Watch Dungeons & Dragons?

With all the amazing "Let's Play" videos for other tabletop board games, it's no wonder that the mysteries and improvisational nature of sandbox Dungeons & Dragons sends folks running to the dark corners of the interwebs in search of ways to watch the game being played. Look no further, because I have a problem and an obsession with watching people play D&D and I've put it to good use by collecting some of my very favorite games so that you can pencil them in and watch the magic happen!

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Acquisitions Incorporated has been doing live games at PAXes around the world for over a decade and last year, Penny Arcade transmuted this fan favorite into a weekly Twitch Stream Event. The game is Dungeon Mastered by the inimitable Jerry Holkins, also known as Omin Dran and the writer of Penny Arcade the webcomic. The featured players are illustrator and designer Amy T. Falcone, Penny Arcade Director of Events Ryan Hartman, D&D Game Designer and #babywizard Kate Welch, and cartoonist Kris Straub. 

Current Classes: Paladin, Druid, Monk, Warlock

Style: This game feels informal and genuinely like friends doing their best to make each other laugh and create great role playing opportunities for the table. It's tempered by Jerry's incredible characters and always on point diction - the man has a diction affliction! That being said, if you're looking for a combat heavy game, this isn't where you'll find it. There is definitely combat, but there are never battle maps. 

If 3 hour games aren't your thing and you'd like to see a more edited version, you can watch Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series

“Acquisitions Incorporated: The C Team" airs live on Twitch Wednesdays from 4:00 - 7:00pm PST

D&D Game Designer/Writer and DM to the Stars, Chris Perkins leads host and video game personality Anna Prosser Robinson, artist/cosplayer/storyteller Holly Conrad, game reviewer and comedian ProJared, and voice actor/musician Nathan Sharp through the newest D&D published campaigns in Dice, Camera, Action

Current Classes: Paladin, Bard, Sorcerer, Rogue

Style: Good natured fun that gets darker as you go on. Chris Perkins offers lots of difficult decisions and victory is always short lived for "The Waffle Crew." Watching this show is a great way for DM's to see how to weave prewritten campaigns into unique character choices. The game is played online and the players never seem disconnected despite playing from lots of different areas. Due to playing online, this game doesn't typically use maps and as such, works well as a podcast.

Dice, Camera, Action! airs Tuesdays at 4PM PST on the D&D Twitch

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Watch DM Matthew Mercer play Dungeons & Dragons with a group of nerdy ass voice actors in one of the most epic live RPG's on Twitch, Critical Role. Other performers include Same Riegel, Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Rey, Liam O'Brien, Laura Bailey, Ashley Johnson, and Travis Willingham. The first campaign wrapped up in the fall of 2017 and featured over 100 episodes. The current campaign is nearly 30 episodes strong. The setting is Exandria, a rich fantasy world created by Mercer and expounded upon in both his Tal'dorei and Wildemount campaigns.  

Current Classes: Rogue, Cleric, Monk, Wizard, Barbarian, Warlock

Style: Immersive role play is a hallmark of Critical Role. These performers drop into character and never falter. Character death is a real threat to be feared. Mercer is a tough but fair DM who shows his finesse by playing off of player choices at the drop of a hat and changing tacks quickly. Giant Dwarven Forge maps area a hallmark of this stream. With a huge cast, these actors are  skilled at giving focus to each other and supporting the gift of a storyline that Mercer weaves around them. You will laugh. You will cry. You will love. Your life will probably be changed. If you're not watching or listening to the podcast, it's time to start. 

Critical Role airs 7-11pm PST Thursdays on Twitch

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Produced by Dungeons & Dragons on Twitch, Force Grey explores the Tomb of Annihilation and features Matthew Mercer as the DM, and players Joe Manganiello, Deborah Ann Woll, Brian Posehn, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Dylan Sprouse.

Current Classes: Rogue, Barbarian, Bard, Paladin, Druid.

Style: Matt's fearless attack of NPC role play and the skilled cast wring out all the story telling you could ask for from the campaign module and the pre-edited format makes it very easy to consume the episodes and get a feel for Tomb of Annihilation. 

Style: High production quality and bite sized edited 30 minute episodes make this show less intimidating to consume for new players. 

You can catch up on the Force Grey series here.  

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The female powered roleplaying powerhouse game features Kimberly Hidalgo, Alice Greczyn, Erika Fermina, Rachel Seeley, Allie Gonino, Sujata Day, Kelen Coleman, and DM Kelley Lyn D'Angelo. These talented performers have a whole series of prerecorded and edited 15 minute episodes that make them easy to consume. Ichabod Ferndweller is must see TV. If you're looking for something with a longer format, you can on D&D's Twitch Channel. 

Current Classes: Druid, Ranger, Paladin, Bard, Fighter, Cleric, Barbarian

Style: This fun-loving group is a joy to watch and character races tend towards the fantastical from Tieflings to Pixies to Dragonborn. 

Catch Girls Guts Glory - YouTube - Sundays 3pm PST on the D&D Twitch Stream

There's only one hard and fast rule in Sirens of the Realms and that's that everyone has to take at least one level of bard! Join Dungeon Master and D&D Community Manager Satine Phoenix as she takes an all-girl band on adventures throughout Faerun. This eclectic medley of heroes left the safety of their homes to follow their dreams. What could possibly go wrong? This stream stars  Vivid Vivka, Kate Elliott, Ladee Danger, Cynthia Marie & special guests along the way. 

Classes: Bard, Ranger, Monk, Druid, Wizard

Style: It's great to see a lady heavy game in the space and Satine is an experienced DM whose love of the game and her players shines through. With many special guests like Taliesin Jaffe and Jason Charles Miller. This game makes liberal use of maps, miniatures and interesting foes from across the D&D cannon.

Watch Sirens of the Realms Tuesdays at 6PM PST on the D&D Twitch Stream.

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Adventuring for Dummies: Dragonfire, Betrayal at Baldur's Gate, Rock

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Adventuring for Dummies: Dragonfire, Betrayal at Baldur's Gate, Rock

Let's kick off Dungeons & Dragons: Let's Roll Week One- Adventuring for Dummies!

Many of the D&D board games are great primers or companions for the Player's Handbook.

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Dragonfire is basically the closest thing you can get to playing Dungeons & Dragons without role play. Everyone gets very basic versions of characters based on the classic RPG archetypes with relevant statistics - you can familiarize yourself with the feelings of playing lot of classic characters and using their abilities without the pressure of building a character from the ground up and looking at a million numbers on a character sheet. 

No need for a Dungeon Master! Adventure Cards lay out the stories in a series of scenes with individual set ups and guide you through each scenario. 

Each turn has 7 phases which is a great prep for rounds of combat in traditional Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition where each player can take a series of three actions during their turn.  When you're done with Dragonfire, 3 actions in combat will seem like a piece of cake!

In Dragonfire, certain Different damage types prepare you for the strengths of the classes you can choose to play in D&D and certain encounters in Dragonfire require certain damage types to defeat. This can be a key factor for those struggling to choose between a few classes. 

Learn more about the rules from Becca Scott and "How It's Played."

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One of the key experiences of Dungeons & Dragons is revealing dungeons, caverns, and keeps bit by bit as you explore - never knowing what might come around the bend! Betrayal at Baldur's Gate by Avalon Hill mimics this experience very well as players slowly reveal the city and its sewer system turn by turn. 

The game also provides a lot of classic character classes that feature abilities directly out of the Player's Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Playing this game will give new players a good entry way to a much loved Dungeons & Dragons location and with less phases and more surprises than Dragonfire, but unlike Dragonfire, it confines you to exploring one city. The two games are very different and if you're someone who loves the Betrayal games, you're sure to adore this installment and get to know more about D&D at the time time. For more details on game play, read our feature on Betrayal at Baldur's Gate

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I can't tell you how many times I've introduced a new player to D&D, they got excited about playing a magic class, and then their excitement was equalled by their confusion and utter terror when it came to actually choosing and employing spells in combat. 

That's where RockPaper, Wizard from WizKids comes in! This game, on its own, is a fun, hand signal driven romp that employs various spells from the D&D universe so you can mess with your friends in a board game setting. You'll see spell classics like Color Spray, Chain Lightning, Anti Magic Shield and more. While you'll almost never see a bunch of wizards flinging spells across the table in 5th Edition combat, this is a great way to get to know the kinds of options you might have available to you, so when you roll that Wizard, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Bard, you have a basic idea of the kinds of effects these spells might have. 

Check out this review from The Dice Tower to learn more about how the game is played. 

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Gen Can't: The Unconvention for Those Who Can't Gen Con

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Gen Can't: The Unconvention for Those Who Can't Gen Con

Gen Con. The annual celebration of all things tabletop gaming, and it’s upon us once again. For some, it’s the defining event of their summer, being the largest tabletop convention in the US by far, and simply for being an absolute spectacle to behold its grand scale. For others however, attending the show is sometimes just out of reach. Maybe it overlaps with a separate family vacation, or you just can’t get that much time away from work. Or maybe just the fact that flying across country for conventions can be expensive, even before adding in costs for hotels (if you can get one!), meals, and picking up all the new hotness on the show floor, of course. So, what do passionate gamers do when they can’t Gen Con? They Gen Can’t.

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Gen Can’t is “The Unconvention” for folks who are excited about all the buzz surrounding Gen Con but aren’t able to make the trip themselves. Started in 2014 by intrepid gamers who found themselves in that very predicament, Gen Can’t is an awesome way to connect fans of gaming all over the world through their passion for the hobby, all from the comfort of their own home. What started as a mere Twitter hashtag has grown into something so much more, with the community surrounding it running contests, virtual events, and more. Even publishers have gotten on board the Gen Can’t train, with many making donations for giveaways of even their hottest new releases, really helping bridge the gap between Gen Con attendees and Gen Can’t participants.

If you’re one of those gamers with hopes of attending Gen Con someday but this just wasn’t your year, consider joining in on the fun with #GenCant! You can even print up your own Gen Can’t badge here to really sell that authentic convention experience. Most importantly though, spend this week having fun! Play some games, share pictures and stories on social media, and tell the world how much fun you’re having. And you get to do it without fighting 60,000 person crowds and lines… hmm, who are the real winners here?! 😊

Join the Gen Can’t BGG Guild

Follow Gen Can’t on Twitter.

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Introducing D&D: Let's Roll

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Introducing D&D: Let's Roll

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We are thrilled to announce that for the next four weeks we are going to featuring a veritable hoard of Dungeons & Dragons content here at Active Player Network!

On Monday, July 23rd, 2018, Hasbro CEO and Chairman Brian Goldner pronounced this year the best in the game's storied history - and we couldn't agree more! In fact, this month we are going to invite adventurers new and old to the table so that together, we can explore this amazing hobby one tool at a time and make sure you have everything you need to join the throngs of rabid RPG enthusiasts and of course,  that D&D veterans to can discover new ways to improve their experience. 

Each week will have a theme featuring products and exciting content! 

Week 1: Adventuring for Dummies

Getting started with Dungeons & Dragons can be very intimidating. We will explore all the board games published by Wizards of the Coast and how they are great entryways for each campaign published by Wizards of the Coast.  These games can help you explore the many realms, features, and characters of the Dungeons & Dragons universe without the staggering time commitment the RPG demands. We'll also cover the 5th Edition Starter Set and it's pre-rolled characters for the adventure The Lost Mine of Phandelver. 

 

Week 2: Quest Accepted!

Now it's time to make sure you have everything you need to start playing, whether you're a Dungeon Master or you're rolling up your first character. We'll also give you some insight into the amazing campaigns published by Wizards of the Coast so that you can choose your own adventure!

 Image from  The Curse of Strahd

Image from The Curse of Strahd

Week 3: Getting Mini with It

 Owlbear from  Nolzurs Marvelous Unpainted D&D Miniatures  by  Wizkids

Owlbear from Nolzurs Marvelous Unpainted D&D Miniatures by Wizkids

We'll be sharing tips and tricks for building and customizing your miniature collection whether you're a proficient painter, a DM who needs to collect a lot of miniatures quickly to build out their campaign, or you want to find great options for pre-painted products. 

 

Week 4: Advanced Adventuring

Want to take your adventuring to the next level? From customized maps and miniature decor, to ambience for your game room, to Spellbook Cards for all your characters, we've got you covered with all the accessories you can collect to ensure the best quest. 

 Spellbook Cards by  Gale Force 9

Spellbook Cards by Gale Force 9

That's not all! Starting on Monday July 30th, we will be starting our D&D: Let's Roll Giveaway!

We want you to GET INVOLVED in D&D: Let's Roll. For participating in our weekly conversations and content with likes, public shares, and comments on Facebook, we'll be entering you for a chance to win the ENTIRE Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Library - including the upcoming Waterdeep Adventures: Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage. All this loot could be yours!

For more information on how you can win, click here

Let us be your guide to the amazing world of Dungeons & Dragons. What say you? You bring the dice, we'll bring the discourse. Let's Roll!

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