Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Assassin in Dayo Gorge - The Iron Archives

The first full adventure in The Iron Archives is up on YouTube. This four episode series is a recorded Dungeons and Dragons game featuring one DM and five players. Each episode is a little over an hour long (the finale was nearly an hour and a half).

The adventure is The Assassin in Dayo Gorge. Five special soldiers are sent to hunt down a dangerous assassin after he has killed a key ruler working with the Empire. Three hunters are part of the Imperial Cohort, the elite soldiers who answer to the emperor. The other two are members of The Silver Bows, a group that specializes in guerrilla tactics. These five join forces to identify and kill the assassin, per the emperor's decree.

The plan is simple. The assassin is hidden in the remote Dayo Gorge far to the north. there is only one way into the gorge, and the group plans to set up an avalanche to trap the quarry within the area. They will use the town within the gorge as a base of operations. It will take a few days to clear away the rubble from the avalanche and allow the assassin to escape... he must not be allowed to escape.

During the adventure you'll witness the crew:
  • Attempting (and failing) to stay undercover
  • Track and hunt down a mysterious beast
  • Get to know the eccentric town folk
  • Explore an ancient shrine filled with traps and automaton guardians
  • Come face to face with the deadly assassin himself
  • Deal with a plot twist that no one saw coming
Of course there are plenty of swords swinging, spells slinging and silly voices, everything you expect from a D&D podcast. We had a blast with this one, so please check it out if you haven't already. With all four episodes up, the complete tale is now available.

Friday, April 19, 2019

What are the Iron Archives?

I've been working on a Dungeons and Dragons related project since the end of 2018. Essentially it is a podcast series of a roleplaying game adventures set in the world of Mendria.

What is Mendria? Well it is a fantasy world created by our Dungeon Master DJ. One of the great things about Dungeons and Dragons is that players can take the basics of the fantasy world presented in the game and then add, remove or just completely change how they want it to work in their game. DJ created his own map, history, races and cultures for his game. I started playing the game in late 2017 and had a blast with it up to its conclusion at the end of of 2018.

DJ was running two games at the time and asked players from both games to join him for his podcast project. I thought it sounded like fun and became one of cast. We got to create new characters and play an  adventure that occurred many years before the series we had just wrapped up. So items, characters and events we had heard about in his previous campaign came to life in this one.

This was a short series, four episodes. The players were tasked with creating characters who were hunting down a dangerous and desperate assassin in an isolated land. Our job was to find him and kill him. These are brutal times, and justice was by the sword.

This was a lot of fun to play, and although there are a few recording hiccups along the way, I think the final product came out pretty darn good. But you can now check it out for yourself.

You can check out episode one here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Roll Out - Finding the party

Another classic 80s cover.
Anyway you look at it, Dungeons and Dragons requires at least two people to play. You need one Dungeon Master describing the world and adventure. Then you need one player to go on that adventure. But in most cases you want a few players to make things more interesting. I've found that having a group of 3 to 4 players and one DM is ideal. Get much bigger than that, and the game can slow down a bit. This smaller group can get enough character interaction in each session, as well as present a solid force against enemies. Make no mistake, some groups run larger, with 8 to 10 players and one DM. This can work in a combat heavy game, where roleplaying is kept to a minimum, and the players are familiar with the game.

Since I'm more interested in storytelling (and I'm a bit of a ham) I was looking for a smaller group to play with. We have a couple of local hobby stores in the area, but when I discovered you could play online that seemed much more appealing to me. There are several options out there for anyone interested in playing Dungeons and Dragons on a virtual tabletop. Some folks keep it simple and use Skype or Discord. There are virtual dice rollers, or you can use an honor system and people can roll physical dice. Then there are sites like Roll 20 and Fantasy Grounds. These allow the DM to use full blown maps, digital miniatures, digital dice rollers, fully functional character sheets and ways to have video and voice interaction. These virtual table tops require a bit of a learning curve, but provide more immersive experience.

After some research I went with Roll 20. First off, it was free to join and use. It was fully compatible with Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition rule set. And it seemed to have the larger player base at the time. I found some videos on using Roll 20, and did some work creating characters, getting used to the interface and some of its quirks. When I felt confident enough it was time to find a group.

The magic of the internet!
Roll 20 has a board where groups searching for players can post. DMs usually post details about the game, the kind of players they are looking for and if they are open to new players. You can narrow it down by game, time zone and content. So I filtered for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition in the Pacific Time Zone. I'm are pretty open guy, so I didn't filter any content. I figured I'd just see what was available first.

I was surprised that there was plenty to pick from. But it was also interesting to see how the DMs pitched their games, and described the types of players they were looking for. Suddenly diving into this fun hobby seemed like it might turn into more of a job interview. Questions like "How long have you been playing?" "What type of gaming experience are looking for?" and "What kind of character did you want to play?" were typical. I actually got a little intimidated by amount of questions and how to best answer them. 

I'm sure he's friendly, he's smiling, right?
I ended up popping onto YouTube and found a few videos describing the best way to approach joining a party in Roll 20. And much of the advice was the same as you'd find when going in for a job interview. So I set up some clear and concise information on my Roll 20 profile (so DMs could find out a little more about me). I answer a few group postings in clear direct language. I also posted in about 7 different groups, because the odds of them all answering back were very slim.

I ended up getting three responses back, and soon enough joined a game. I'd taken my first step into a virtual table top game, and my views on storytelling suddenly changed.

Every try any virtual table tops? What was your experience trying to join a new group for your favorite table top RPG?

Next stop.. a lost mine!