Monday, June 30, 2014

Magic: The Gathering is out! Edition of 30 June 2014

Magic: The Gathering
Published by
David Given Schwarm
30 June 2014
Business Sports Art & Entertainment Leisure Technology Education #mtg #magic
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mike Mearls on D&D 5E Design Ethos

we are not going to try to make rules that would stop people who want to be bored from doing boring things

Quote is at 48:12 on the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set Unboxing

Actual Play Dead in Thay--D&D Encounters S18 S7

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Naga with no where left to Hide

When was Tiamet Trapped in Hell?

Tyranny of Dragons looks awesome!

It is the first official 'not written by WotC Adventure' in a long time. It is being written by long time D&D Hero Steve Winter. It connects well to public play. It is connected to D&D Basics. It is basically everything I could hope for...except the basic premise.

I do not know when Tiamet got trapped in Hell.

Here is the blurb:
For years, the evil Cult of the Dragon has devoted itself to creating undead dragons in a vain attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy. However, the cultists were misguided. They misunderstood. But now, under new leadership, the cult believes that the prophecy does not speak of undead dragons, but of a dragon empire that’s been extinct for 25,000 years. Tiamat, the queen of evil dragons, has languished in the Nine Hells for millennia [sic]. The cult believes that the time of her return is at hand.
I love the idea of a Cult Re-branding itself--the external & internal response will be awesome.

But I thought Tiamet was the ruler of Level One, and not a captive, right? 

there is this note on wikipedia
The Banishment of Tiamat Many myths claim that Tiamat lived for a long time on the Prime Material Plane, seeding it with evil dragons and dark magic. Eventually she was banished to the Nine Hells by Bahamut and a sky/sun god (perhaps Pelor or Heironeous).

But no citation--I am sure someone knows where the idea of Tiamet as captive in Hell, rather then Ruler, started. I had just never heard it before.

In fact, to me this still does not look like a Prison:

Over on Candlekeep they are still trying to explain a lot of this, but evidently:
Tiamat being banished from the Realms was a plot resolved by the whole Chessenta business leading up to and following the Time of Troubles.
I read it more as an attempt to allow her to enter Toril in her true form, since deities are usually not allowed/able to do so
But I am still not convinced that this is not something that is simply being added to the cosmology to support the adventure.

In fact, here is Ed's article from Dragon #75 that sets a lot of this up


The uppermost plane of the Nine Hells is ruled by Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon, and serves as a home to all lesser unique devils. These are devils with individual names and characteristics, and powers of greater magnitude than those of a pit fiend (for all such unique devils of lesser power are soon destroyed by their enemies and the cruelty of their fellows), which are not otherwise placed in the hells as ruling archdevils or their direct servants.

There are approximately fifty of these lesser unique devils; embittered, frustrated beings who torment the lemurs and spined devils of this plane and viciously attack all intruders. Chief among them is Nergal, who like all of his outcast fellows plots and schemes constantly to win a higher rank, but through hopes of reward always eagerly and enthusiastically obeys commands issued by the archdevils. Most such commands concern the defense of the hells against all intruders, for the dukes of hell have no wish to deal with intruders on their own ground. the plane or planes they rule .when such disorderly business can be conducted elsewhere. The uppermost plane of the hells thus serves as a marshalling area and training ground for infernal armies, and is (preferably to the devils) the place in which intruders are dealt with.

It is a plane of darkness, consisting of rocky crags and hillocks, a desolate wasteland of stunted, poisonous vegetation and bare rock. Many concealed pits lined with filth-smeared stakes and the like have been prepared for intruders. Avernus has no roads or buildings, but many caves and warrens have been dug out of the rocks; most are devils. homes, as unwary travelers seeking shelter will soon learn

At irregular intervals the darkness is lit by fireballs (as in the spell, varying in size and damage from 2d6 to 7d6) that form spontaneously from the vapors of the air, bursting at any height above the ground. If one should notice a glowing, swirling effect in the air, one soon discovers that a fireball will burst in that location one round later. The precise cause of these fiery discharges is unknown, but it is natural and not under the control of any devil or other creature. A gust of wind spell will push a forming fireball away, but a dispel magic will not stop it from forming, or negate its effects. (Editor.s note: DMs using Avernus in play should take note of the alterations in magic spell effects that are prevalent there and on the other planes of the Nine Hells. That information will be part of the second installment of this article.).

 Any non-devil lawful evil creatures not native to the hells (such as the occasional beholder), if they are to be found in the infernal regions at all, will be found on Avernus unless specifically located elsewhere by order of an archdevil. One noteworthy example of such creatures are the nycadaemons (see the FIEND FOLIO Tome). These have the power to move freely about the Nine Hells, but they are disliked and distrusted by the archdevils and may well be met with physical opposition if they appear uninvited on a plane other than Avernus. (DMs should bear in  mind that a nycadaemon might aid a party of adventurers traveling in the hells, to further its own ends.)

Avernus is nominally ruled by Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon. The mother of all evil dragonkind holds Avernus through the support of Asmodeus, but her actual authority extends only as far as her physical reach. Most of the inhabitants of the plane avoid her, not wishing to serve as her meals.

 The Chromatic Dragon spends most (90%) of her time sprawled in her lair, the great caverns known as Azharul, .”The Dragonspawn Pits”. Here she is attended by her bodyguards five huge adult male dragons—one white, one black, one green, one blue, and one red (for details, refer to the Monster Manual). She is constantly guarded by these consorts, and when not plotting, feeding, enjoying cruel sport or facing danger, Tiamat will be found mating with one of them within a protective ring formed by the other four. She bears litters of 1-4 dragonets (or .mewlings.: very young dragons born conscious and in control of their feeble powers) after an average gestation period of 6 days. Tiamat occasionally (7% chance at any given time) travels via the Astral Plane or Ethereal Plane, perhaps to give birth to a litter on the Prime Material Plane (or Planes, if the multiverse of your campaign includes .parallel worlds.) . sometimes grudgingly, at the behest of Asmodeus, but more often to further some plan of her own.

The scant remainder of her time is spent roaming Avernus; very rarely, she journeys to the palace of Asmodeus. Those of Tiamat.s offspring that are born and remain on Avernus occupy themselves with hunting down and bringing back food for Tiamat and her consorts while the Chromatic Dragon is in her lair. These offspring/underlings are of all sizes, types, and ages of evil dragonkind, and all are aggressive, cruel, and in good health. Injured, weak, or disobedient specimens are soon eaten by Tiamat, or by others at her direction; she also dines on slain dragons, including slain consorts who have displeased her, and all newborn spawn who are multi-headed or otherwise chromatic in nature. The few of her spawn that survive to achieve .huge adult. status serve as replacements for her consorts.

Note that Tiamat will have full amounts of treasure (as shown in the Monster Manual entry) only while in her lair. She may seize small amounts of treasure when on the Prime Material Plane, but only quantities which she can transport herself, since her bodyguards are unable to accompany her when she leaves Avernus. They guard her hoard in Azharul diligently in her absence, for she will notice if even a single bauble is gone!

The treasure prized most highly by Tiamat is magic . specifically, magicuser spells of 1st to 5th level which are new to her. With these she can increase her personal power, and consequently she is always seeking more powerful offensive and defensive spells which she can study, experiment with, and modify for her own use. Note that Tiamat needs time and trial to modify a written magic-user spell from the standard form to her own (verbal component only) form of casting.  

While on the Prime Material Plane, she will reveal herself in the open only if she believes a fair chance exists to gain such spells in so doing. Otherwise, her visits to the Prime Material tend to be secretive affairs, for she feels uneasy without her bodyguards. In the past, it is said, many men (and some of other races) worshipped Tiamat, and her visits were triumphs of worship, adulation, pampering, and the bestowal or riches and magical information to the extent of human experimentation and mastery upon the Chromatic Dragon . but if this was indeed so, it is no longer the case. Nowadays, evil dragons will still acknowledge their allegiance to her, but this is a .worship. born of fear and respect rather than love or loyalty.

 Although Tiamat will battle (attempting to kill and eat) individual devils without hesitation, she will never knowingly attack an archdevil or a lieutenant to an archdevil. She rules her spawn by force and fear, but her will is enforced on Avernus by 40 companies of abishai under the command of Malphas, 29 similar companies led by Amduscius, and 3 companies of erinyes under the command of the pit fiend Goap. (Names printed in italic type indicate devils who are individually described in the text that follows.) These forces are always busy, for Avernus is constantly dealing with intruders and the machinations of the .rabble of devilkin. . former consorts fallen from favor, and other unique devils too weak or too mistrusted to gain or hold a position in the hierarchy of the hells. These beings are constantly attempting to gather enough support to win (at least) a position in the service of Tiamat, perhaps by supplanting one of the incumbent vassal devils, and are always moving to avoid the armies searching for them. Among these outcast devils are names such as Rumjal, Caim, Bist, Cahor, Dagon, Azazel, Armaros, Kochbiel, Nisroch, and Nergal.

Tales are told of a mysterious archdevil, Astaroth, said to be mightier in power than any devil save Asmodeus himself (see Alexander von Thorn.s article, .The Politics of Hell,. printed in DRAGON #28 and reprinted in the BEST OF DRAGON. Vol. II anthology), who dwells elsewhere than the Nine Hells, apart from the present regime, working alone to advance his secret ends. This devil represents the greatest threat to Asmodeus; with Astaroth.s support, Mephistopheles, Baalzebul, or even a lesser archdevil such as Geryon could conceivably wrest control of the Nine Hells from the Great Devil himself. But even the existence of Astaroth is uncertain; he is definitely not an avowed force in the hells at this time.

AMDUSCIAS (Duke of Hell)
FREQUENCY: Unique (very rare)
MOVE: See below
HIT DICE: 92 hit points
% IN LAIR: 20%
NO. OF ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +2 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
SIZE: See below
Attack/Defense Modes: All/all

Amduscias is a duke in the service of Tiamat, ruler of Avernus, and leads 29 companies of abishai. He is a being of long memory and cunning strategies. He can shape change at will into a dirty yellow unicorn with eyes of flame and a purple horn, a hawk-headed man (he usually wears dark red or black robes when in this form), or his favored form: a wolf with a prehensile, constricting serpent .s tail. He does not need, and does not wear, armor in any of his forms

When in unicorn form, Amduscias attacks with his horn (acts as a sword of wounding, for 2-9 damage), or his hooves (2 per round, for 2-10 damage each). His maximum movement rate in this form is 18.; he can .bolt. from a standing start, and some say that when horses spook or gallop uncontrollably, it is because Amduscias has affected them.

In human-like form Amduscias has average dexterity, and two or three attacks (fists for 1-2 each and beak for 1-8, or weapon and beak). Amduscias is ambidextrous and can wield two weapons if they are small (e.g., daggers or darts). This devil has above average strength when in human-like form, and a long, curved beak somewhat like a hummingbird .s in appearance. This beak is, however, terrifically strong and sharp. His move in this form is 12..

Amduscias prefers to fight in wolf form; his movement rate is 18., and he attacks with two raking foreclaws and his jaws, or his hind claws and tail. If in a position to do so, he can use all six of these attacks in a round, against as many targets. The claws do 3-12 damage each, the jaws 1-20, and the tail 1-10 constriction damage per round plus additional damage if Amduscias uses it to immerse a held victim in water, batter a victim against a rock, etc. The tail will loosen its grip if it is severed, or if it is dealt 17 points of damage in any single round or 26 points of damage over a succession of rounds.

Amduscias can change forms in one round (during which he can do nothing else except speak), and is restricted to the forms described. He can use the spell-like powers listed below, one at a time, once per round. Note that (as with other devils) verbal, somatic, and material components . as spell-casters on the Prime Material Plane know them . are not necessary. Amduscias. spell-like powers are: pyrotechnics, produce flume, fire shield (either version), detect invisibility, detect lie, read magic, locate object, dispel magic, telekinesis (5,000 g.p. maximum weight), find familiar (for another being; the familiar will be an imp), and faerie fire. Amduscias can cause fear (save vs. spell to avoid) in anyone within 3. he points at (but only one target per round). Once per day he can use a symbol of stunning.

Amduscias is sometimes called the .Reconciliator of Foes,. because he is a skillful actor and negotiator, and Tiamat often employs him to mediate in disputes between devils or her kin. While in any of his forms, Amduscias can speak and understand perfectly any language (cf. tongues spell). When encountered, Amduscias will only have treasure with him if he is in his human-like form; if so, it may be of any type. Amduscias regenerates 2 hit points per round. He can summon (with a 70% chance of success) 1-3 abishai at will.

MALPHAS (Duke of Hell)
FREQUENCY: Unique (very rare)
MOVE: 12./30. (in crow form)
HIT DICE: 90 hit points
% IN LAIR: 20
DAMAGE/ATTACK: By weapon type +5
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +2 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
SIZE: See below
Attack/Defense Modes: All/all

Malphas is a duke in the service of Tiamat, ruler of Avernus. He leads 40 companies of abishai, and, like his fellow duke Amduscias and the pit fiend Goap, is likely to be found traveling about Avernus enforcing Tiamat.s will. None of Tiamat.s dukes have permanent encampments or fortresses, but instead they maintain a commonly held system of guarded, .safe. caves where their forces can rest or gather.

Malphas appears as a powerful, darkcomplexioned man dressed in black velvet studded with gems (of considerable value; his robes have 333 gems of all sorts, 100 g.p. base value each, if recovered complete), or as a large, black, crow-like bird.

Malphas shuns armor, and fights with all weapons (and his spell-like powers) when in human form. His voice is deep and compelling, and with his powers of tongues and ESP (usable at will), he is adept at deceiving others, particularly non-devils. He may carry treasure of any type if encountered in human form.

Once per round, at will, Malphas can use one of his spell-like powers: tongues or ESP (as noted above), pyrotechnics, produce flame, fortress (this creates a structure similar to Daern.s Instant Fortress . see the DMG . in all respects, save that its door will open and close for anyone, and it will disappear in 16 turns or when Malphas wills), detect invisibility, read magic, dispel magic, flame arrow (Malphas can also apply this to blades wielded by himself or others; these become flume tongue swords . fiery damage, but no .to hit. bonuses . for 3 rounds), and remove (or bestow) curse. Once per day Malphas can use a symbol of pain, and he can cause fear (save vs. spell at -2 to avoid) by touch (one target per round). He can summon 1-2 abishai, with a 55% chance of success, at will. Malphas regenerates 2 hit points per round.

NERGAL (Greater Devil)
FREQUENCY: Unique (very rare)
MOVE: 18./10.
HIT DICE: 106 hit points
% IN LAIR: Nil
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +2 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
SIZE: L (9. tall)
Attack/Defense Modes: All/all

Nergal is the most powerful of the .rabble of devilkin. banished to Avernus by the archdevils. Usually enveloped in magical darkness, Nergal appears as a lion-headed, winged toad. His mottled pinkish-grey, warty skin is covered with sores which ooze a clear, colorless ichor. This liquid is deadly poisonous to humans and demi-humans, who must save vs. poison to avoid this effect if contacted. If the save is successful, the ichor does 1-6 points of corrosive damage and confers immunity to its effects upon the victim for 10-40 turns. Nergal is sometimes called .The Bringer of Pestilence and Fever. because of this property.

Nergal is warlike, quick to attack those who defy him or bully injured or weaker creatures. His bite does 3-12 points of damage, and possibly confers a disease; refer to the DMG for type and effects. Victims who are bitten must save vs. poison at +3 to avoid disease.

Nergal can employ the following spelllike powers, one at a time and once per round: pyrotechnics, produce flume, wall of fire, continual light, tongues, read magic, detect magic, detect invisibility, dispel magic, and darkness 15. radius. He can cause fear (save vs. spell to avoid) by touch, if he so wills. Nergal regenerates 2 hit points per round. (Note that he cannot use a symbol, nor can he summon other devils to his aid.)

Nergal likes to present himself to human intruders as a fellow man horribly transformed by diabolic magic, and may .help. the intruders for a time, usually to learn of their powers, magic, treasure, and purposes, before luring them into a trap. Often he uses the powers and magic he obtains in this way to torment his victims; sometimes he hoards information and treasure he obtains to use it for bargaining purposes. Always, he builds and looks to the future, planning a forcible entry into the ranks of the dukes or archdevils. He has no fixed abode or lair, but often conceals caches of treasure or magic he has seized in caverns and grottos scattered all about Avernus.

BIST (Greater Devil)
FREQUENCY: Unique (very rare)
MOVE: 14.
HIT DICE: 90 hit points
% IN LAIR: Nil
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-5/2-5/2-12
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
SIZE: L (9. long)
Attack/Defense Modes: All/all

Bist, a devil akin to the hellcats (see the FIEND FOLIO Tome: Hellcat), is totally selfish and a master of duplicity. For these reasons, she is mistrusted by all archdevils and is confined to Avernus. Bist cannot leave the hells without being summoned (unlike hellcats), for she has been compelled to change her name, and thus can no longer be summoned by mages on other planes. She shares many of the hellcats. other capabilities, however.

Invisible in the presence of light (except for her eyes, which appear as irises of orange flame floating in midair), Bist appears in darkness as a faintly luminescent, wraith-like, and unusually large hellcat. Her eyes retain their flame-like appearance when she is so revealed.

Bist is immune to all mind-controlling spells (charm, hold, sleep, etc.). She can only be hit by weapons of +2 .to hit. or better, and all magical weapons lose their damage bonuses when striking her. Bist communicates by telepathy in a 14. range, although she can speak (in a hissing, rasping voice) the common tongue, Mabrahoring (the High Tongue of the hells), and the lawful evil alignment tongue.

Bist can employ the following spelllike powers at will, one at a time and once per round: pyrotechnics, produce flume, affect normal fires, detect magic, detect invisibility, dispel magic, magic missile (3 missiles per spell), and shield

 Once per day Bist can employ gaze reflection, and once per day she can blink. In addition, she can generate fear at will in a 5.-radius sphere about herself. Bist regenerates 1 hit point per round.

CAIM (Greater Devil)
FREQUENCY: Unique (very rare)
MOVE: 8./16.
HIT DICE: 93 hit points
% IN LAIR: Nil
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +2 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
SIZE: S (5. tall)
Attack/Defense Modes: All/all

Caim is an outcast devil, bound to Avernus. He is a gossip and a sneak, and is particularly disliked in the hells. A skilled orator, he can always make his own actions or opinions seem reasonable .and he often seeks to dupe intruders, partly because he considers the flesh of elves and men delicious.

Caim appears as a large, upright, darkly handsome bird . a thrush . with a long, sharp beak and a belt about the hips. In pouches on this belt Caim carries items he deems necessary, manipulating them by means of his unseen servant spell-like power.

Caim can employ the following spelllike powers at will, one at a time and once per round: pyrotechnics, produce affect normal fires, unseen servant, light, detect magic, detect invisibility, dispel magic, hold person, and tongues.

Once per day Caim can reverse gravity; thrice per day he can cast repulsion. Caim can generate fear in a 5.-radius sphere about himself, at will. He regenerates 1 hit point every 2 rounds.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review--Round Table 22 - Organized Play (Again) and OGL

here is the blurb for this one:
James Introcaso sits down with Joe Lastowski and Topher Kohan to talk about the D&D Adventurer's League announcement, Tyranny of Dragons, and the announcement of the forthcoming OGL for the new edition of D&D. This podcast was recorded on June 3, 2014.

This is quickly becoming my favorite gaming podcast--much like Haste it is a quick review of the events shapping RPG's, but it is very focused on D&D. 

The opening question is one of my favorite parts--I love listening to experienced players describe the magic moments  that they find in their games.

Very much worth the listen.

Review HJRP1207 Happy Jacks RPG Podcast Season 12 Episode 07

Another good episode from the Local Gaming Elite.

A good review of Fear the Con 7--a Community run Con in St Louis that really sounds like a lot of fun. Good charity events, fun fellowship, and a lot of non standard activities.

Some good discussions of investigation & other topics as well.

As always a well produced playfully focused look at RPGs. Worth a listen

Make Up Day? Free RPG Day 2014

I totally botched it this year--I was way over committed in June & just could not find a way to make it work. I love the Pathfinder adventure that came out & will likely try to run a make up session.

There is a good general review of the event from a shops perspective here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ren Faire D20

Thomas gave me this leather D20 from the Renaissance Faire--I have hidden it amongst Lisa's amazing Mantle Display.

How long until she notices?

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Scheduling Free RPG Day on the solstice is akin to doing International Table Top day on Christmas, which gives me a good idea--we should really work to unify these to dates into one event.

Free RPG Day should be on International Table Top day in 2015. 

I am not sure how to get that to happen, but I am working on it as of now!

More importantly, I did not run the Pathfinder Free RPG Module today, but I am planning to run it Sunday @ 11:00 AM. Location is still under discussion.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Extra Life Orange County Guild Kick Off Meeting

Last night I drove over to CHOC 

parked on the Third Floor

and instead of the Outpatient Infusion Center, I went to the main Hospital to meet with the ELOCG.

This was a meet and greet type meeting for the Extra Life charity event that was very well attended--around 40 people I would guess. 

A lot of them were from the OCC Gamers Guild, but there were also some pod-casters & gamers who were very connected to the community.

Last year, Jack & I participated in this with some friends, but we did not raise much money or get all that involved, so this year we plan to connect with other gamers in the area and try to participate in their events.

Also, after CHOC Walk this year, I know that Jack has a lot of friends who want to show him support and events like Extra Life provide an awesome opportunity for that. 

I have set up a Team Page and will update with more event information as it becomes available.