MACE 2017: Emberbright Returns!

Matt Holmquist returns with the Living MACE campaign contest winner – Emberbright!  What is Emberbright.  A few years ago, we conducted a contest between some of the best GMs to create a world that MACE can call its own.  Matt was the final winner and his world, Emberbright represents a collection of ideas from those in the contest.

Matt and  JustUs Productions are continuing the development the setting that will act as our own living campaign setting. That means you can create a character for it at one event and play that character at other JustUs Productions events that host this living campaign. We are planning to run it in at least 3 different systems – Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, and D&D 5e.

Matt will be running his adventures in D&D 5e.

 

About Emberbright

Emberbright is a bleak fantasy world where humanity struggles as the subjugated species after a cataclysm of divine proportions.

A millennia ago, humankind nearly destroyed the world – an event later named the Unraveling. The greatest kingdoms lay to waste, and the largest race reduced to nomads. Those that did not devolve into tribal cults in the north, eeked out existence as servants to the Elf Mageocracy or as second rate members of the Ignis Combine. (Igni – goblinoid fire-elemental race). The gods, once protectors of man and their greatest strength, have gone silent. Lorekeepers of the remaining human settlements still espouse that faith will restore humanity to its previous glory. What few baronies managed to survive have started to form alliances. A rudimentary collection of city-states has laid the groundwork for the rise of the next great human kingdom. The balance of power may shift again. The Wizard Lords have enjoyed their time as the most powerful beings, and the Ignis Leaders would not give up their monopoly on trade and steam tech. What of the Icemen to the north… no one knows what agenda their seemingly random raids hold. The great cycle of the heavens nears another completion. What will the next thousand years hold? What part will you play in it?


MACE 2017

November 10-12 2017
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

MACE West 2017: D&D Adventurers League Schedule Posted

The MACE West 2017 D&D Adventurers League schedule is posted.  Here is the list of scenarios.  See OGRe for complete schedule

DnD5AL Scenarios

CORE 2-1 Tales of Good & Evil (CCC-BMG-04)
CORE 2-2 Songs of Law & Chaos (CCC-BMG-05)
CORE 2-3 Edicts of Neutrality (CCC-BMG-06)
DDAL00-01 Window to the Past (T2)
DDAL00-01 Window to the Past (T3)
DDAL00-01 Window to the Past (T4)
DDAL05-01 Treasure of the Broken Hoard
DDAL05-02 The Black Road
DDAL05-03 Uninvited Guests
DDAL05-04 In Dire Need
DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold
DDAL05-06 Beneath the Fetid Chelimber
DDAL05-07 Chelimber`s Descent
DDAL05-08 Durlag’s Tower
DDAL05-09 Durlag’s Tomb
DDAL05-10 Giant Diplomacy
DDAL05-11 Forgotten Traditions
DDAL05-12 Bad Business in Parnast
DDAL05-13-Jarl Rising
DDAL05-14 Reeducation, Part 1
DDAL05-15 Redemption
DDAL05-16 Parnast Under Siege
DDAL05-17 Hartkiller’s Horn
DDAL05-18 Eye of Xxiphu, Part 1
DDAL05-19 Eye of Xxiphu, Part 2
DDAL0502 The Black Road
DDAL0503 Uninvited Guests
DDAL0504 In Dire Need
DDAL0505 A Dish Best Served Cold
DDAL0506 Beneath the Fetid Chelimber
DDEX03-05 Bane of the Tradeways
DDEX03-06 No Foolish Matter
DDEX03-10 Quelling the Horde
DDEX03-12 Hillsfar Reclaimed
DDEX03-14 Death on the Wall
HILL 1-1 Arrival
HILL 1-2 Exodus
HILL 1-3 Resurgence
HULB 1-1 Hulburg Rebuilding
HULB 1-2 Hulburg Burning
HULB 1-3 Hulburg Rising
PHLAN 1-1 Sepulture
PHLAN 1-2 Enemy of My Enemy
PHLAN 1-3 Subterfuge


About D&D Adventurers League

The D&D Adventurers League is an ongoing official organized play campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. It uses the fifth edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules, and features the Forgotten Realms setting. You can play D&D Adventurers League games at any place that features adventures bearing the D&D Adventurers League logo. You can create a character and bring that character to games anywhere D&D Adventurers League is supported.

Most D&D Adventurers League games are public, in-person play events. Typical venues for these events are game and hobby stores, conventions, and public-accessible game day events.

See more about the D&D Adventurers League


MACE West 2017

March 24-26 2017
Gaming in the Mountains!
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville - Biltmore
Asheville, NC
https://www.justusproductions.com/category/justus-events/mace-west/

MACE West 2016: Fai Chen’s Fantastical Faire (D&D AL)

MACE West 2016 will be host to Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League Fai Chen’s Fantastical Faire Magic Item Trading Post!   Fai Chen and his mule-driven cart will make their way to our favorite gaming convention in Asheville.  Players of D&D Adventurers League will have the opportunity to trade for and purchase magical wares from across Faerun at Fai Chen’s Fantastical Faire.

But what can you expect at the Faire, and how can you entice Fai Chen to offer it at your event?  Click the here to find out.

Thanks to Tim McCrary and Topher Kohan (Southeast Regional Coordinator for D&D Adventures League) for this opportunity.

 

 

MACE West 2016 D&D Adventurers League Schedule Posted

The MACE West 2016 D&D Adventurers League schedule is posted.  Here is the list of scenarios.  See OGRe for complete schedule

DnD5AL Scenarios

DDEX02-03 The Drowned Tower
DDEX02-04 Mayhem in the Earthspur Mines
DDEX02-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster
DDEX02-09 Eye of the Tempest
DDEX02-10 Cloaks and Shadows
DDEX02-11 Oublitte of Fort Iron
DDEX02-12 Dark rites of Fort Dalton
DDEX02-13 The Howling Void
DDEX02-14 The Sword of Selfaril
DDEX02-15 Black Heart of Vengeance
DDEX02-16 Boltsmelter’s Book
DDEX03-03 The Occupation of Szith Morcane
DDEX03-04 It’s all in the Blood
DDEX03-05 Bane of the Tradeways
DDEX03-06 No Foolish Matter
DDEX03-07 Herald of the Moon
DDEX03-08 The Malady of Elventree
DDEX03-09 The Waydown
DDEX03-10 Quelling the Horde
DDEX03-11 The Quest for Sporedome
DDEX03-12 Hillsfar Reclaimed
DDEX03-13 Writhing in the Dark
DDEX03-14 Death on the Wall
DDEX03-15 Szith Morcane Unbound
DDEX03-16 Assault on Maerimydra
DDEX04-01 Suits of the Mists

About D&D Adventurers League

The D&D Adventurers League is an ongoing official organized play campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. It uses the fifth edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules, and features the Forgotten Realms setting. You can play D&D Adventurers League games at any place that features adventures bearing the D&D Adventurers League logo. You can create a character and bring that character to games anywhere D&D Adventurers League is supported.

Most D&D Adventurers League games are public, in-person play events. Typical venues for these events are game and hobby stores, conventions, and public-accessible game day events.

See more about the D&D Adventurers League

Emberbright; The Living MACE Campaign Returns!

Matt Holmquist returns with the Living MACE campaign contest winner – Emberbright!  What is Emberbright.  Two years ago, we conducted a contest between some of the best GMs to create a world that MACE can call its own.  Matt was the final winner and his world, Emberbright represents a collection of ideas from those in the contest.

Matt with help from us at MACE are continuing the development the setting that will act as our own living campaign setting. That means you can create a character for it at one event and play that character at other JustUs Productions events that host this living campaign. We are planning to run it in at least 3 different systems – Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, and D&D 5e.

Emberbright is a bleak fantasy world where humanity struggles as the subjugated species after a cataclysm of divine proportions.

A millennia ago, humankind nearly destroyed the world – an event later named the Unraveling. The greatest kingdoms lay to waste, and the largest race reduced to nomads. Those that did not devolve into tribal cults in the north, eeked out existence as servants to the Elf Mageocracy or as second rate members of the Ignis Combine. (Igni – goblinoid fire-elemental race). The gods, once protectors of man and their greatest strength, have gone silent. Lorekeepers of the remaining human settlements still espouse that faith will restore humanity to its previous glory. What few baronies managed to survive have started to form alliances. A rudimentary collection of city-states has laid the groundwork for the rise of the next great human kingdom. The balance of power may shift again. The Wizard Lords have enjoyed their time as the most powerful beings, and the Ignis Leaders would not give up their monopoly on trade and steam tech. What of the Icemen to the north… no one knows what agenda their seemingly random raids hold. The great cycle of the heavens nears another completion. What will the next thousand years hold? What part will you play in it?

We are seeking GMs to help fill  4 more sessions of Emberbright Adventure 3 (in both Savage Worlds and Pathfinder). Please contact us if you are interested in running some sessions of Emberbright!

D&D Adventurer’s League Schedule

The D&D Adventurer League Schedule is posted.  Click OGRe above to see the schedule.  The schedule includes the following scenarios…

DDEX02-03 The Drowned Tower
DDEX02-04 Mayhem in the Earthspur Mines
DDEX02-05 Flames of Kythorn
DDEX02-06 Breath of the Yellow Rose
DDEX02-07 Bounty in the Bog
DDEX02-08 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster
DDEX02-09 Eye of the Tempest
DDEX02-10 Cloaks and Shadows –
DDEX02-11 Oublitte of Fort Iron
DDEX02-12 Dark rites of Fort Dalton
DDEX02-13 The Howling Void
DDEX02-14 The Sword of Selfaril
DDEX02-15 Black Heart of Vengeance
DDEX02-16 Boltsmelter’s Book
DDEX03-01 Harried in Hillsfar
DDEX03-02 Shackles of Blood
DDEX03-03 The Occupation of Szith Morcane
DDEX03-05 Bane of the Tradeways
DDEX03-07 Herald of the Moon
DDEX03-08 The Malady of Elventree
DDEX03-09 The Waydown
DDEX03-06 No Foolish Matte

About D&D Adventurers League

The D&D Adventurers League is an ongoing official organized play campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. It uses the fifth edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules, and features the Forgotten Realms setting. You can play D&D Adventurers League games at any place that features adventures bearing the D&D Adventurers League logo. You can create a character and bring that character to games anywhere D&D Adventurers League is supported.

Most D&D Adventurers League games are public, in-person play events. Typical venues for these events are game and hobby stores, conventions, and public-accessible game day events.

See more about the D&D Adventurers League

D&D Adventurers League Premier

JustUs Productions, organizers of MACE, and Tim McCrary, MACE’s D&D AL Coordinator, are proud to announce a D&D Adventurers League Premier event.  MACE will host the following two D&D AL regional previews:

DDEX03-08 The Malady of Elventree (1-4)

An escaped duergar slave stumbles into the village of Elventree. With her she brings a malady that grips the small settlement in a bout of madness that seems unshakable. Can the characters find the source of the madness and save themselves and the village’s inhabitants?

DDEX03-09 The Waydown (5-10)

The recent discovery of an entrance to the Underdark has set local leaders on edge. In a display of initiative, the First Lord of Hillsfar has ordered the construction of defensive structures surrounding what locals have begun to call “The Waydown”. You have been charged with escorting an emissary back to his home in the Underdark without alerting the Red Plumes. This mission requires a delicate touch!

Game masters who run 3 or more events on our schedule will get preference in the OGRe system, allowing them to register before online gaming registration opens.

In addition to these events, we will also have the NC Gun Bunnies Warmachine/Hordes Invitational, Pathfinder Society, Savage Saturday Night, Board Game Library, UnPub board/card games, Empire Games, No Ordinary Gamers demos of SJ Games, Atlas Games and Looney Labs games, Hull Breach, a new Duncan Davis/Sherwood Games MACE exclusive game premier and much more.

Stay tuned!

Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook (5th Edition)

Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook (5th Edition)
From: Wizards of the Coast
Reviewed by: Ron W McClung

dndphb1Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook (5th Edition) is a new RPG Core Rulebook from Wizards of the Coast.

Much has been said about the staggered release of the new D&D rulebooks and as much as I understand the complaints, I don’t really think it is all that big of deal in the grand scheme of things.  Some say that the staggered release will hurt D&D’s chances of gaining any ground lost to Pathfinder but I seriously do not see it.  Come December when the DMG is finally out, people are going to forget all about the staggered release and invest a lot of time in whatever game they choose.

The first of this staggered release is of course, the Player’s Handbook – the much anticipated herald of the three book series that preports to ring in a new era for Dungeons & Dragons and roleplaying in general.  While I am not sure I totally believe that, the new version of D&D does give me a lot of hope for the industry and for D&D in general.  I have already reviewed the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set and in fact, have run it a couple of times already.  You can also read in that review my limited experience with D&D in the past and how it has evolved to this point.  You can also see a review of the free Basic Rules here in The Gamers Codex, exploring the basics of the system and what changes WotC previewed there.

From the back cover:
“The Player’s Handbook is the essential reference for every Dungeons & Dragons roleplayer.”

The new Core system to D&D has been talked about enough in the other two reviews.  The basics are similar to 3rd edition but with some extra fun mechanics like Advantage and Disadvantage.  What this review will cover is what new things the PHB brings to the table that you did not see in the previous products and perhaps give you some reasons to buy the product.

The book is divided up into 3 major parts – Creating a Character, Playing the Game, and Rules of Magic.  All three are fairly straight forward.  Comparing the three PHBs I have available to me (2nd Edition, 3rd Edition and 5th Edition), it already appears to be more organized and is more robust with equal elements story, role play options and statistical information.

DND PHBs
DND PHBs

First and foremost, the PHB expands the number of races the player can play.  The Basic Rules provide some basic races – Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Human.  Rest assured, that is not a complete list of races available in D&D.  A total of 9 races are presented in detail.  Along with the Basic Rules races, it adds the less common races – Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, and Tiefling.  Some races have subraces including a few more for the Basic Rules races.  Humans, for example, include 9 different ethnicities (and typical names) native to the Forgotten Realms setting.

The races I am least familiar with are the Teifling and the Dragonborn, although my diehard and veteran D&D friends are familiar enough with them.  They were introduced in the PHB in 4th Edition, as part of the further embracing of Forgotten Realms as the default setting.  Some diehards are not pleased with that embracing.  My opinion of it really doesn’t matter but it is one of the more intimidating parts of getting into D&D for the first time.  I never ran it until 5th edition but there is so much about Forgotten Realms I know nothing about.

The Classes in the PHB are Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard.  Classes look a lot their 3rd edition versions.  They have been simplified with new elements like the Proficiency bonus replacing skills and attack bonus, as mentioned in previous reviews.   The customization options of each class are what stands out to me.  The Barbarians, for example, have Primal Paths, Bards have Bardic Colleges,  Druids have Circles and Fighters have Archetypes.  No two Barbarians, Bard or Fighters will be the same and the same holds true for the rest of the classes.  Of course, you can easily see future books with more options for each class.

From the back cover:
“The world needs heroes.  Will you answer the call?”

The D&D (5th edition) Player’s Handbook has many elements in it to help the player not only build his character statistically, but also his character’s story and role playing aspects.  Personality and Background are two aspects that are expounded upon a little further.  Relating Backgrounds to something I am more familiar with, 5th edition Backgrounds are very similar to the aspect of the same name in d20 Modern.  It expands on your class a little further and gives you a little more about where your character came from.

Backgrounds are also helpful in determining Personality Traits, although a player is not restricted to the ones provided in each Background.  Personality Traits are divided up into three primary aspects – Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws.  Barrowing from games like True20 (Virtues & Vices) and the like, these three items round out the character and add a little dimension to the character.

Sadly, this is something a DM would hope his players would come up with on their own, but as many know, not all players are that creative in making a background.  Some players simply don’t get the purpose of the background and make it boring and absent of plot hooks.  They see it as something the DM uses to manipulate the character and that is so wrong.  One of my favorite products of all time is the Central Casting background generator books (Heroes of Legends, Heroes of Tomorrow, and Heroes Now!).  I used to make it a mandatory thing to use them because my players never really gave me multi-dimensional characters.  The difference between a sheet with numbers on them and a living breathing character is usually the background and the various hooks that can come from it.  I am very encouraged that the Player’s Handbook in this edition of D&D has some focus on that.

This is one area I wish the book spent a little more page-count on.  Although there is ample background and related personality trait tables to get started, it did leave me wanting more.  I hope there will be future focus on this.  This is the first time I really felt like a D&D character was more than a sheet of numbers and words.  Of course, this is highly tied to the setting, sometimes, so I hope the setting books that are released (or the subsequent Player’s Guides) include more background and personality trait options.

Tying all this back into the game mechanic is a concept called Inspiration.  This is of course mentioned some in the Basic Rules as well as the Starter Set.  This too has been covered enough, but I do want to say that I like this aspect a lot.  Having played many other games where the players has a means to save himself (Savage Worlds with Bennies, True20 with Conviction Points, and D6 System with Character and Force Points), this was needed badly in the world’s most famous role playing game.

What I find interesting about Inspiration is that you are limited to one at any given time.  You have to spend it to get another.  Unlike other games where players can sandbag points like this and unload them on the DM at the “boss fight”, Inspiration puts the character in the dramatic dilemma of when to use that one favor from the gods.  Although I did not initially like that aspect of Inspiration, in practice, it is very fun to play.

A player can do further customization of one’s character, as explained in the Customization chapter of Part 1.  This is where multi-classing is explained and this gets into the least favorite part of the book.  It seems to me they made multi-classing a little more complicated, especially for magic users.  Spell casting and Spells slots, especially if you multi-class into more than one magic user class, get understandably complex.  There is some simple number crunching and logic to work through.

Feats return in this edition.  At the heart of 3rd edition bloat, Feats are one of those things that D&D fans loved or hated.  How the designers decided to work them into the mechanic really shows they listened to the fans.  First, they mitigate the bloat a little by limiting how often you can get feats.  They also make it an optional rule, keeping those that hate Feats happy.  Of course, over time, as more and more expansion books come out, the Feat list will grow but characters won’t be overloaded with a ton of them to keep up with.  You can choose to gain a Feat in exchange from the ability score bump you get each at certain levels. At most, a character will have 5 or 6 Feats.

Now these are not your typical 3rd Edition feats, however.  These pack a little more of a punch, since they are the alternative to something you only get every four levels or so.  There are a total of 43 Feats and the only thing I wish they had added was a table list of them with summarized notes of their benefits.

Part 2 dives into the mechanics of the game, which was partially revealed in the Basic Rules but expanded upon a little more in the PHB.  Ability Scores, Proficiency Bonuses, Saving Throws, and Passive Checks have all been pretty well covered in other reviews.  They are basically a logical simplification of 3rd edition concepts, with a lot of influence from other editions as well.

The Combat section is noticeably different from previously editions.  The tactical complexities of Full Actions, Standard Actions and Free Actions are far more simplified.  There is less stuff about the tactical options available players and more general information about what can be done in a round.  Combat in past editions felt like a strict table top board game or miniature game and in this, it feels more like a role playing game.  However, don’t get me wrong, I like some of the tactical complexities and as I understand it, they are going to be presented as options in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Advantage and Disadvantage is also a new mechanic introduced and although we have talked about it some in previous reviews, I have run D&D 5e now a couple of times and have seen it in practice.  I am not sure of the mathematics of the system – if it truly does give a significant advantage or disadvantage to the player (a much more math-inclined person than me can figure that out) but in game, it has a great effect.  It is dynamic and creates a very tense situation when a person has to roll more than one die.  It is a fun mechanic and that is what a game is all about.

Part 3 ends the book with the much maligned or anticipated (depending on your perspective) new magic system, that is not exactly new but at least better than the last one.  To many 4th edition fans chagrin, it is a return to the Vancian style magic system that seem to take the back stage in 4e.  But with Spells lists and Spells Slots, it is much more simplified and logical than past editions like 3rd editions (and its other incarnations).  I avoided magic users in previous editions (when I played) because it was too complex for me to deal with.  And the session by session maintenance of Spells Known vs.  Spells per Day was frustrating.  I can wrap my head around this system a little better.

The Vancian system returns the magic users to the thematically roles they were meant to be – scholars of magic and arcane knowledge and restricted by the nature of magic and the source they are gaining it from.  Thematically, I felt that D&D was not D&D without Vancian magic.  As I understand it, the previous edition all but abandoned Vancian magic and most that adhered to that edition are angry about the return.  To that, all that can be said is that the market has spoken.  Right or wrong, Vancian magic is D&D and D&D is Vancian magic.

Is it balanced?  So far, I see a lot of attempts to not only balance it at low levels but keep it balanced as the characters goes up in levels.  The Spells Slots and Casting at Higher Levels is at the heart of this balancing effort.  Sure you can cast a Magic Missile that causes 12d4 but you have to spend a higher level spell slot for that spell.  Suddenly, Magic Missile becomes that level of a spell.

Ritual Spells is another aspect that is refreshing.  You don’t always have to have a spell prepared to caste it.  If you have time, you can cast it as a Ritual Spell.  Only certain spells can be done that way, but most are logical.

In conclusion, I think it is clear I am a fan of this new edition.  Until this edition, I have either not had a chance or purposely avoided playing D&D and this edition has pulled me in.  My only major complaint is the price tag.  Where their competition is able to put together a huge book that virtually includes both the PHB and DMG in one, for a lower price, the fine folks at WotC put a larger price tag on a smaller book and stagger the release so it won’t hurt the budget as bad.  Is it worth it?  I say it is, but I am not sure everyone is going to agree.

Outside the monetary issues, the book is hardy and the art is phenomenal.  The layout is on par with other editions although I would have liked to see a few more lists then they provided.  The index is really tiny print, and forces this old man to use his reading glasses.

I give this a Codex Rating of 19 because this is a big hit for me.  It not only revived my faith in the guys behind D&D but also in the D&D line in general.  It has pulled me in pretty strongly and for the first time, I am running a fantasy game. It is enjoyable and I look forward to a whole new bookshelf of 5e books as they put them out.

For more details on Wizards of the Coast and their new RPG Core RulebookDungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook (5th Edition)” check them out at their website http://dnd.wizards.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 19

Product Summary

Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook (5th Edition)
From: Wizards of the Coast
Type of Game: RPG Core Rulebook
D&D Lead Designers: Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford
Rules Development: Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee
Writing: James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell
Editing: Michele Carter, Chris Sims, Scott Fitzgerald Gray, Christopher Perkins
Producer: Greg Bilsland
Art Directors: Kate Irwin, Dan Gelon, Jon Schindehette, Mari Kolkowsky, Melissa Rapier, Shauna Narciso
Graphic Designers: Bree Heiss, Emi Tanji, Barry Craig
Cover Illustrator: Tyler Jacobson
Interior Illustrator: (Entirely too many to list, see handbook for list)
Additional Contributors: Kim Mohan, Matt Sernett, Chris Dupuis, Tom LaPille, Richard Baker, Miranda Horner, Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, Steve Winter, Nina Hess, Steve Townshend, Chris Youngs, Ben Petrisor, Tom Olsen
Project Management: Neil Shinkle, Kim Graham, John Hay
Production Services: Cynda Callaway, Brian Dumas, Jefferson Dunlap, David Gershman, Anita Williams
Brand and Marketing: Nathan Stewart, Liz Schuh, Chris Lindsay, Shelly Mazzanoble, Hilary Ross, Laura Tommervik, Kim Lundstrom, Trevor Kidd
Number of Pages: 321
Game Components Included: Core Player’s Handbook
Game Components Not Included: Monster Manual, Dungeon Master Guide (to be released later)
Retail Price: $49.95(US)
Website: http://dnd.wizards.com/

Reviewed by: Ron W McClung