Monthly Archives: August 2016

Zack Bowman (AKA Joey A. “The Grenade” Kincaide) is a new friend and the guy who runs New Era Wrestling here in Colorado. Like me, he’s been on a Journey to improve his health, with enormous success. He’s also just a great human being, doing something powerful and important to help those suffering from epilepsy and SUDEP. Proud to know him and support him. Here’s what he has to say –

“Hey everyone I don’t ask for things hardly ever but please go check this out. If you can please donate even if it’s a dollar. I would love to hit my goal this is the first time I am trying a run.. I’m not much of a runner but decided to step up and really try to do this. If you guys help me reach my goal I will strap a go pro to myself and do a highlight video. I’m sure that would be worth it. So c’mon you know you want to!”

Zach Bowman

I’m a member of Lil C Racers, click here to view our team page

About the Foundation: The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation is a Colorado non-profit corporation formed by Julie and Doug Hutchison to provide help and support to individuals who have epilepsy across the United States. To date, we have provided assistance in 44 of the 51 States. The main focus is to raise funds to provide grants for fully-trained seizure-response dogs that may be able to detect an oncoming seizure and provide warnings and/or respond after the onset of a seizure. The Foundation also provides grants for Emfit, SmartWatch and SAMiAlert movement monitors for those in need. The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation is named for Julie and Doug’s beloved daughter Chelsea, who died in her sleep during a seizure in April of 2009. SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) was the cause of her death. During the 6 years that Chelsea had seizures, no one ever told the Hutchisons that a seizure could take her life other than through an accidental fall or drowning. As a result of that omission, The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation informs those living with epilepsy of the risks and raises awareness of SUDEP so that no other families are blind-sided. For more information, please visit our website at or contact us directly at

I am regularly asked to host or participate in panels at conventions around the country* about game mastering. These are almost always full or close to it, as there seem to be many wonderful folks out there – willing to take up the challenge of being a GM for their group – who want all the advice and help they can get.

Here’s the wisdom of one hell of a panel of experts, all in a book for your digital shelf!

(*) – I’d love to say “around the world.” Any non-American conventions want to give me a reason to get my passport up-to-date? 😉

Run Your Best Campaign Yet

Whether you’re a new gamemaster or a seasoned vet looking for a new angle to shake up your game, these 19 essays by expert gamemasters help construct your campaign from the ground up—and keep your players engaged until the dramatic conclusion.

Kobold Guide to Plots & Campaigns shows how to begin a new campaign, use published adventures or loot them for the best ideas, build toward cliffhangers, and design a game that can enthrall your players for month or even years. Want to run an evil campaign, or hurl the characters into unusual otherworldly settings? Want to ensure that you’re creating memorable and effective NPCs and villains? We’ve got you covered.

Complete with discussions on plotting, tone, branching storytelling, pacing, and crafting action scenes, you’ll find all the tips and advice you need to take on the best role in roleplaying—and become an expert gamemaster, too! Featuring essays by Wolfgang Baur, Jeff Grubb, David “Zeb” Cook, Margaret Weis, Robert J. Schwalb, Steve Winter, and other game professionals.

This latest volume in the best-selling and award-winning series of Kobold Guides tackles the storytelling and campaign planning at the heart of any great RPG. Improve your game and expand your plotting and scheming skills with the Kobold Guide to Plots & Campaigns!

Praise for Prior Design Guides

“A fantastic resource”

–Skyland Games

“Highly recommended for gaming nerds everywhere.”


“If you’re an aspiring pro this book is a must. If you’re a rules hacker like me, this stuff is solid gold.”

— Berin Kinsman, UncleBear Media

“A fantastic collection . . . a solid 5 star rating.”

— Joshua Gullion,

“An amazing collection . . . from some of the best designers and writers creating role-playing game material today.”

— Brian Fitzpatrick,

Make ships. Fly ships. Blow other ships into tiny pieces. High Guard takes your Traveller game into the Black and sets you loose to fly it and dominate it in all the ways you might wish.

Welcome to High Guard.

This book is a major expansion to the Traveller roleplaying game, enabling you to design, build and fly spacecraft of all types found throughout the galaxy. You will find rules to modify existing ships, design high performance space superiority flyers, and construct the largest capital ships to travel the space lanes.

High Guard also presents new approaches to handle spacecraft operations, from engaging in vicious boarding actions to spacecraft security, from employing a range of warheads in missiles to accessing technologies seen in science fiction settings beyond the Third Imperium. Your warp drives await.

With more options and more powerful weapons, High Guard returns to space combat and provides a rules framework to use in epic space battles, from spiralling dogfights involving just a handful of lightweight fighters to the clash of heavily armed battleships across a front stretching through an entire star system.

What a very cool time to be a gaming fan! Seriously, let me date myself here – I started with the first boxed set (1977, the John Eric Holmes version, with the David C. Sutherland III cover). There were no computers in the home (I think we had our “Pong” TV game then, maybe); computers were those huge, elaborate things that NASA and major corporations had stored in rooms.

Now? Now we have serious conversations about the Singularity and what our laptop may be plotting with our phone and tablet…

Regardless, these incredible tools also provide us the change to play online, at great distances, or even right at the table, but with amazing electronic applications that massively enhance the experience. Fantasy Grounds is arguably the premiere such electronic tool set for gaming, and now you have it available for your D&D 5e gaming needs.

(The description below comes from the D&D Complete Core Class Pack; this link, and the link for the image, goes to the full category page.)

In Dungeons & Dragons, a class is the primary definition of what your character can do. In this module, you get all twelve core classes converted for play in Fantasy Grounds. You get the class description, special features, spells and abilities used by your class and general character customization options such as equipment and feats.

Players purchasing this module can use it to create characters offline and bring those characters into games with any Dungeon Master (DM). Dungeon Masters who own this product can allow players to access it while they are connected to the DM by using the sharing option built into Fantasy Grounds. The players will no longer have access to the reference material upon disconnecting from the DM unless they also own the module.

This Module Includes everything from the individual class packs and the character customization pack in one complete module.

  • 328 fantasy character portraits taken from various official D&D sources
  • A custom theme derived in the same style as the Player’s Handbook
  • All Races from the Player’s Handbook that can be dragged to your character sheet
  • Random tables for rolling background bonds, flaws, ideals, origins, etc.
  • A list of all feats from the Player’s Handbook, organized alphabetically and searchable, that can be dragged to a character for ease of reference during play
  • Equipment tables containing items that can be dragged to character sheets, treasure parcels or NPCs for ease of reference, encumbrance calculations and ease of disbursement. The searchable lists contain all items listed in the Player’s Handbook (Adventuring Gear, Tools, Armor, Weapons, Mounts, Tack and Harness, Vehicles.)
  • Draggable weapons that auto-enter the inventory, weight, attack type (melee, ranged, thrown) and the damage (with damage type.)
  • Reference material and artwork which is not specific to any one particular character class
  • All spells from the D&D Player’s Handbook, ready to drag and drop to your character sheet
  • The class description from the Player’s Handbook for all 12 core classes: barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock and wizard
  • Details and features from levels 1-20 for all core classes
  • Automatic addition of new class features when you drag the class link to your character’s level summary

Requirements: This content requires an active subscription or license of Fantasy Grounds and an account on the forums at to download and use this product.

Heya, folks! Most of you know that I re-broadcast the Picks of the Day onto EN World at the end of every week (Sean’s Picks of the Week), and I’ve been exploring doing more on that site as part of my overall presence (and revenue) as a gaming professional. Along with Russ “Morrus” Morrissey, Chris Helton, Darryl Mott Jr., Angus Abranson, and Michael Tresca, I’m joining an effort to expand the site’s offerings to become one of the best sources of news, announcements, and discussions about RPGs in the world.

To that effort, EN World now has a Patreon page, and any support you give to that page goes directly into supporting us – the writers and content creators – who are a part of that effort.

Among other things, that means helping me buy more kibble for my rotten fur baby, Riah*

Thanks, and make sure you check out the cool things you can get for your support level!

EN World has been reporting on tabletop roleplaying game news for 16 years, since it was Eric Noah’s Unofficial D&D 3rd Edition News, and is one of the oldest and largest RPG communities in the world. We have a roster of columnists, including Russ “Morrus” Morrissey, Chris Helton (previously at Bleeding Cool), Darryl Mott Jr. (previously at Ain’t It Cool News), Angus Abranson (industry veteran who co-founded Cubicle 7), Michael Tresca (formerly of The Examiner), and Sean Patrick Fannon (of Evil Beagle Games). But we want to do more!

EN World’s news will always be free. This Patreon will allow us to expand our coverage. We want to cover ALL the tabletop roleplaying game news for you. Whether you are a fan of D&D, Pathfinder, OSR, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Cypher System, World of Darkness, Fate, Savage Worlds, Warhammer, Star Trek, or more, we want to have you covered. And for those topics we already cover, we want to do more of it, in more depth.

We believe that good reporting benefits and supports the hobby and the industry. 

That requires funding. EN World always pays its columnists. We want to bring you more articles from more columnists, providing the actual news (and not just the press releases) about your favourite tabletop roleplaying games. With your help, we’ll expand our coverage to be a comprehensive, one-stop location for all your RPG news needs. We’ll grow this into the professional, focused, journalistic publication that the RPG industry deserves! Our columnists are biting at the bit to be let loose and start working hard on keeping you informed.

We have a couple of initial milestone goals listed, but we have more in mind should we be fortunate enough to reach those! Podcasts, more reporters, reporters covering dedicated beats, maybe even a web-comic! But one thing at a time…


(*) – Rotten fur baby, Riah


Another gem resulting from Ross Watson‘s amazing trip to Finland, this is a complete set of products that presents a beautiful fantasy RPG experience designed for younger players. The art form that is RPG design is alive and flourishing in Finland, as this exceptional product demonstrates. Bring your favorite young folks into gaming with this exceptional gateway.

When evil is afoot, you must join the forest-dwelling rebels and protect justice in the land!

Age of the Tempest – Sword of the High King is a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game aimed for kids and beginners. This is the full set, which includes the Player’s Handbook, the Game Master’s Handbook, character sheets and a map. (And just to make it easier, a seperate file of the Chronicle, which can also be found in the back of the Player’s Guide.)


Player’s Handbook takes you to the world of roleplaying and fantasy, and then shows you how you can be a Witch, a Knight, a Swineherd or a Princess. Or one of the other memorable characters in the world of Nathar, all looking for the Sword of the High King…

The Game Master’s Handbook contains a ready made adventure story and instructions on how to run it. Whether you are a veteran Game Master or a first timer just getting into roleplaying, this will help you run Age of the Tempest.

To play you just need a set of dice and some imagination!


For quick previews, check out the book pages for Players’ Handbook or Game Master’s Handbook.

I remain humbled by the heroic efforts of Savage Mojo (including Gayle Reick, Alida Saxon, Howard Brandon, and my Belovedest, Carinn Seabolt) to bring to fulfillment the promises of Shaintar.

I remain in awe of the mighty Darren Pearce, who’s taken my notes, ideas, and plans and brought them vividly (and rapidly!) to life in ways I simply could not.

I remain astonished that so many remain so devoted and supportive of this world I began creating in 1977, even after I fell away from it so spectacularly for a while.

Today, one of the most interesting regions I was inspired to breathe life into – the Eternal Desert, the realm of the Desert Princes – joins the host of realms for you to explore in the Epic High Fantasy setting that is Shaintar.

Come, traveller and listen!

The desert is a harsh mistress and you’ve much to learn if you will survive. Take water with me and I’ll see if you are worthy of my attention.” guide, name unknown, in the Aradi desert.

The desert is always trying to kill you, whether from heat or sandstorm or lack of water or monsters never heard of before. There’s beauty here and a vibrant culture that ebbs and flows like the sand, yet has a deep abiding strength. Everyone knows they’re needed and has a task that is vital to the survival of their village, town or city. These are the people who created the Great Race as a test of courage and ability. The worthy are invited and the race is scheduled according to a formula no-one outside the Youlin Aradi peoples and outsiders should consider an invite a great honor.

In this guidebook, you’ll find all you need to create a character or NPC from the desert region. There’s some new magic, edges and other goodies to round out your character. You’ll meet the Nine and see how they rule the land, sometimes cooperating and others in conflict.  

We end the week with some game setting fiction, based in the Chronicles of Darkness. Onyx Path Publishing pulled together some incredible writers to bring you tales of the history of the dark world so many have come to love over the decades. Edited by my excellent friend, Matt McElroyTales of the Dark Eras is the summer reading you want to freak out the rest of the folks on the beach.

Walk through the ages…

As a companion to Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras this anthology reveals secrets of the mystics, whispers rumors of the dead, and shines a light into the darkest corners of the world.

This collection includes historical stories based within the shadowed past of Vampire: the Requiem, Mage: the Awakening, Werewolf: the Forsaken, Changeling: the Lost, and other Chronicles of Darkness settings.

In the Chronicles of Darkness…

Explore the shadows with tales by Howard Ingham, Malcolm Sheppard, Pete Woodworth, Renee Ritchie, Jess Hartley, Monica Valentinelli, Danielle Harper, Matthew McFarland, Mike Tomasek, Eric Zawadski, Meghan Fitzgerald, and Dennis Detwiller.

The BECMI edition of the original Dungeons & Dragons is regarded very highly by many gaming enthusiasts and historians as the best presentation of the D&D experience. Created by the illustrious Frank Mentzer, it’s called “BECMI” due to the various releases in the series – the Basic sets – the Player’s Manual and the DM’s Rulebook – followed by the Expert Set, the Companion Set, the Master Set (the focus of today’s Pick), and the Immortal Set. As you can guess, this scheme was set up to graduate folks’ campaigns from initial adventures all the way to godhood. If you are an Old School enthusiast or just someone who wants to see how folks really played it back in the day, this is an excellent series of PDFs to grab.

At last, the cycle is complete. Players and Dungeon Masters alike may experience the wonder of reaching for the ultimate levels of mortal might with the D&D Master Set.

In the Basic Set you learned to crawl through dungeons and defeat the minions of evil. In the Expert Set you set out on wanderings through the wilderness. In the Companion Set you climbed to the pinnacle of success and founded kingdoms, conquered wild lands, and battled barbarian hordes. Now, in the Master Set, you can soar across the sky and into the pages of legend.

These books are written for the experienced D&D player. The Master Player’s Book expands on the known abilities of characters with new skills and spells. The Dungeon Masters Book features three sections that have become a standard for each rules set: New Procedures, Monsters, and Magical Treasures, all designed with the Master Level characters in mind.

Now, you are only limited by your imagination. Answer the clarion call to adventure; the lands of legend await!

Product History (Excerpts)

The D&D Master Rules Set (1985), by Frank Mentzer, is the fourth volume in Mentzer’s BECMI rules series. It was published in June 1985.

Origins (I): Moving Toward BECMI. The BECMI line was a strongly themed and carefully constructed series of boxes for the third edition of Basic D&D (1983-1991). The Basic Rules (1983) focused on dungeon exploration for levels 1-3, the Expert Rules (1983) introduced wilderness exploration for levels 4-14, and the Companion Rules debuted kingdom building for levels 15-25. Now the Master Rules finished the collection with a march to immortality for levels 26-36.

Origins (II): Developers & Designers. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, developers and revisers didn’t get a lot of credit at TSR. Prior to the release of the Master Rules, the Basic D&D books all said “by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson”, despite the fact that they’d only created the original OD&D (1974) system and none of the text in the continuing line of Basic D&D games. Thus the “B/X” series said that it was “edited” by Tom Moldvay, David “Zeb” Cook, and Steve Marsh, while the new BECMI series similarly gave Frank Mentzer a mere “revised” credit for the Basic Rules and Expert Rules. He got a full byline in the Companion Rules, but it was under a “Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson” byline.

The Master Rules were even more an original work by Frank Mentzer than the books that came before it, but this time he was dropped back to a “compiled by” credit. Surprisingly, the main credit goes only to Gary Gygax, with no reference to Dave Arneson. It was a curious omission of one of the two creators of D&D when a more accurate byline would have highlighted Mentzer’s name alone. Mentzer explains: “TSR had enough problems between Gygax & Arneson, no sense giving me grounds to add my name to the list. However, the further it went, the greater the amount I ‘compiled’ from my own ideas; there’s very very little in Masters and nearly nothing in Immortals that had ever appeared before.”

There were probably other political reasons for how the credits appeared, including: the attempt to move aware from credit (and royalties) to Arneson, who hadn’t worked on the game in years; and a push to put Gygax’s name forward in a year when TSR badly needed the attention and sales that might result.

What a Difference an Edition Makes. The Companion Rules had been an innovative and ground-breaking expansion of the D&D game, the first of its sort in several years. Meanwhile, the Master Rules came out the same month as Unearthed Arcana and unfortunately loses out in comparison. Where Unearthed Arcana was a groundbreaking expansion for AD&D, the Master Rules was a more simplistic continuation of the Basic D&D books that came before it; it expands classes, spell, and weapons to the ultimate levels of mortal D&D, but it’s evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Dias Ex Machina did an admirable job of providing non-fantasy rules and support for 4th Edition fans, and they’ve brought all that forward with this huge hit for 5th Edition players.

Ultramodern5 is the follow-up of the popular Ultramodern4

The mission of U5 is to present 5th EDITION rules for use in non-fantasy settings. These include pre-modern settings, contemporary settings, and those that are far flung fantastic and futuristic.  U5 presents modern and science fiction rules in a game usually reserved for fantasy. There is no established setting in U5. 

It presents classes, gear, and scenarios that can be inserted into any campaign, including the following:



Modern Warfare

Space Opera

Techno Fantasy

Urban Fantasy


Wild West (with or without aliens)

You may explore the rules in whatever context you wish. Rules are generalized, encouraging homebrew settings and the rebranding of elements. 

Create a pure science fiction setting, or insert these rules into your own fantasy world to offer a unique spin.


–A revised “ladder” system, offering more adjustability with character creation. Modify your class with one of seven ladders.

–Revamped rules around being human.

–A new lifepath system incorporating backgrounds (with eleven new ones) into an adjustable life history where characters can select every aspect of their character’s history, from family and friends to past love affairs.

–Ten new classes including the infiltrator, medic, sniper, and techie.

–Twenty-four archetypes

–All new weapons including traditional firearms, rocket launchers, and laser rifles

–New armor including powered combat suits.

–Purchase and modify vehicles

–Over forty new monsters including giant robots.

–Two included adventures—a zombie apocalypse and an alien invasion.