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Elminster’s Forgotten Realms

An instant classic, this fantasy book steeped in lore is sure to get any Realms fan in the mood.

I highly suggest you get out an old wooden pipe, don your musty wizard robes, and pull up a guady, over-sized plush armchair next to the fire, no that’s too close… OK, there you are.  Now, have a seat, light your pipe and crack open this old… er new tome.  Trust me, you’ll be lost within her pages fast enough.

Yes, it’s that good.  A book published by WotC that caused my jaw to drop due to the fact that they finally let Ed Greenwood have his way, and run amuck through his world.  Losing the constraining statistics of various systems has truly set this book free as one can enjoy the read regardless of which system they run.  There are NO game statistics here folks, just pure, tasty LORE.  Ah, the stuff I love.  Role-playing games would not be the same without the “role-playing” and I feel that many of the newer systems and games (*ahem*D&D*ahem*) have truly lost their way seeing as the acting out a character is what set these games apart from simple miniature games (not THAT kind of simple, geez calm down guys!)

I’ve been a fan of Ed Greenwood and his gorgeous setting the Forgotten Realms for more years than I can count.  I was a child when I opened up the gray box and had my players roll up their first characters in this world.  I remember the first time the PCs ventured through the Cormyr forest and into the Ruins of Myth Drannor.  If I recall the entire party was killed, but their epic adventures lived on in new characters which continued for many more decades.  One game lasted from senior year of high school all the way to marriage and kids.  It would still continue to this day if my friend had not left the realm of RPGs behind for good.  Taku Okamiya, Guardian of Luruar and Ruler of Nesme, I salute you, as well as Alin Durqua and the rest.  May you all rest in peace within the Forgotten Realms.

Now comes the part where we break the book down into various sections and ramble on for a good three hours or so… huh?  You don’t want me to ramble for three hours?  Well, if you do you can visit this link and get the entire breakdown of this book.  If you want to [amazon_link id=”0786960345″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]buy this you can pick it up at this link[/amazon_link], otherwise jump to the conclusion below.

 

Conclusion

This book is a thick tome clocking in at 192 pages.  There is a personal foreword and afterword by Ed Greenwood himself along with some very old pictures of a very young Ed.  Throughout the book you’ll get personal notes, maps, and sketches by Ed which truly make this book feel like you hold an ancient relic.  It’s as if WotC was on vacation with Ed running the offices and the printing press.  I feel that Ed Greenwood has finally had the chance to tell the story of his world, how it came about, the people who live there, the lore, the magic, and more.  It’s all contained within these pages and really this is all you need to run a good game in any system, this book and a bit of creativity.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars due to the fact that they finally let an author run loose, naked in the fields, and despite his age… Elminster sure can run, and according to Sune, he still has a nice… *ahem* Sune, for a goddess you sure can be inappropriate, this is a professional news site for nerds after all!

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THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT Board Game

The Legend of Drizzt board game is part of the Adventure System Board Games by Wizards of the Coast. These games are designed as a co-op experience with no DM required! In this game you get to play as Drizzt and his companions.

It contains scenarios set around the city of Neverwinter. You will be getting a lot of Drizzt and his followers throughout your adventures in this board game.  For those of you who don’t already know, Drizzt Do’Urden is the most famous character in the Forgotten Realms world.  Created by R.A. Salvatore and featured in his New York Times Best Selling novels, Drizzt and his companions have become a fantasy staple for fantasy fans and RPG fanatics alike!

This is a great game for families. My wife enjoyed the Neverwinter Nights computer games but has never been very interested in joining my friends and I for tabletop D&D games. My son is 9 years old and although shows much interest in the D&D RPG, still has a tough time with the vast amount of rules required to play a fair and balanced game. The Legend of Drizzt Board Game is a perfect introduction to a family who has not yet played D&D or anyone who has trouble fully grasping the concept of tabletop role-playing games.

My family decided to set up the Legend of Drizzt game on our dining room table at home.  We started a timer to see how long it would take to get all the pieces out, read up on the rules, and start playing.

It took almost an entire hour to get all the dungeon tiles and other icons punched out of the large cardboard sheets and read up on the rules.  Even after reading the rules multiple times we were still all a bit confused despite my 25 year background playing role-playing games.  We decided to just dive right in and figure it out as the game progressed.

My suggestions for first time players:

1.  Make sure you read ALL of the rules by yourself prior to having friends over.  

2.  Punch out, organize, and bag up all the cardboard pieces in advance of your first session.

To start out you choose one of multiple adventures you would like to play.  Next the adventure tells you which cards and items you will need.  After gathering these you mix the specific dungeon tiles up with the generic tiles and place them within a stack of tiles from which you draw each round.  I know, it’s a bit confusing but it’s much easier if you can sit down and look at the pieces.  Then you choose which hero you would like to play and find the required cards for that hero.  Each hero has an attack they can do every round, an attack or stance they can do once per day, and some other one-time use abilities or items.  As the game progresses you find treasure which helps you reset these powers or obtain new powers in the form of magical items.

The game progresses like this:  

  • Hero Phase: This is the phase in which your hero moves through the dungeon and makes attacks against monsters.
  • Exploration Phase: This is the phase in which you add new Cavern tiles, draw Monster cards, and place Monsters.
  • Villain Phase: This is the phase in which you draw and play Encounter Cards as well as activate Villains.

Each player performs all three of these actions each turn, so by the time it is your turn again as many as 3 additional monsters may appear on the map and engage you in combat!  If you would like a detailed play by play (with images) of a session check out this site!

Opinion:  As a veteran RPG Game Master I found the game to be fun, but lacking and repetitive in many areas.   Take in mind that I have over 25 years of role-playing experience under my belt so my opinion is a bit biased.  As an introduction to D&D or a “D&D gateway game”, I think the Drizzt Board Game is excellent.  My family had a lot of fun playing it.  My 9 year old son enjoyed the game immensely and was quite excited each time his turn came up.  He played Drizzt and mangled most enemies he encountered very quickly.  My wife was interested in the game, perhaps a bit more so than traditional tabletop RPGs, but she found many of the rules constraining and suggested we throw out some of the rules and play it our own way.

Overall family score: 3/5

Name: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
Company: Wizards of the Coast (HASBRO)

Price: $65 US

Type: RPG/Adventure

Number of Players: 1-5
Target Audience: 12+  (9+ will do fine) 

First time set-up: 45m-1hr
Subsequent set-up: 10-15m
Game time: 1-2hrs per adventure 

This game includes the following components:

  • 42 plastic heroes and monsters
  • 13 sheets of interlocking cardstock dungeon tiles
  • 200 encounter cards and treasure cards
  • Rulebook
  • Scenario book
  • 20-sided die

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Interview with Todd Gamble: Forgotten Realms Cartographer

The following is an interview with Cartographer, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Model Scenery Creator Todd Gamble who spent a number of years working for Wizards of the Coast on the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting for Dungeons and Dragons.  For me, he has been a creative influence for many years as well as a positive influence in the small logging town of Snoqualmie.  The quaint city of Snoqualmie is deep in the rain covered Cascade Foothills of Washington State.  It was a pleasure to meet with Todd and take a short journey into his past accomplishments.  Please join us now as we travel into the creative realm of Todd Gamble, artist magnificent!

Jon: So, you worked at Wizards of the Coast for a number of years and did cartography for the Dungeons and Dragons games including the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.  How many years did you work for Wizards?

Todd: I think I worked there for about six years or so.

Jon: Please tell us in detail what a normal work day is like at Wizards of the Coast for a Grandmaster Cartographer such as yourself.

Todd: Roll in to work when I wanted, coffee in hand, say hello to my coworkers and sit my ass in front of a monitor assembling maps.

Take a long lunch, if it was sushi, we’d walk from the restaurant to Toys R us and get something cool and unnecessary, then walk to Half Price Books which rocks and get some cool art reference books for mapping ideas.

Later on, take a break from work and go get an Americano, stay late and get some more maps done. Fight my way home in traffic from Renton to Shoreline which was lame.

Jon: What was it like working with other artists and cartographers?  Was there anyone memorable that you especially enjoyed working with, or had strange little quirks?

Todd: It was awesome working with other artists. The illustrators, sculptors, and mappers worked in a secure area called New Siberia (because it was so far away from the rest of the employees and behind two large steel doors which required an electronic key card to get in. There were all kinds of neat costumes stored in our area for the illustrators to use on models.

I especially liked working with Matt Wilson because he was always so nice to me and not big headed like some of the illustrators there. He has his own successful company now, Privateer Press / Iron Kingdoms. I also liked my lead, Robert Lazzaretti.

He took me in when I was new and showed me all the ropes single handedly. He taught me how to use the computer basically. Up until then, I had no real computer training and I was worried about that but Rob helped me out. His wisdom helped me get three EN Awards for best in cartography. I was so proud to receive them because the real people chose for themselves in that contest.

Jon: What are some of the different projects you worked on at Wizards?

Todd: I worked on several Avalon Hill military strategy games, Pokemon JR trading cards, Star Wars RPG, maps and illos for several gaming magazines, Map of the week on the web, fantasy novels, 3D miniature scenery and cardstock structures, D&D maps and Forgotten Realms maps and more.

Jon: Are you still doing work on the side for wizards of the coast?

Todd:Yes, mostly maps for fantasy novels. Once in awhile, they will throw me a board game to do artwork for.

Jon: You are an amazing artist and I have followed your work for years.  After working on cartography you also built model scenery both for miniature photo shoots for Wizards and for model railroading.  Tell me about your history with model railroading and model scenery.

Todd: I’ve always liked anything in miniature form. My passion is for model railroading because there is so much real history to delve into. Where I grew up in Northern California (Ingot, CA.) there was plenty of mining and railroad history. A flume carried cut lumber from Terry Mill down to a small line that carried lumber and ore to Bella Vista. They would send apple shipments down the flume as well. I used to go hunting for spikes along the old roadbed as well as climb around the old gold mine buildings.

I tried to recreate the scenery around me in miniature and that’s how I became addicted to scenery building. Wizards had me build several miniature sets for photo shoots for their miniatures. Now, I build model scenery as a profession (among other artistic endeavors). You can see some of my work at my website ToddGambleART.com and on my blog at toddgambleart.blogspot.com

Jon:I’ve seen some pretty impressive graphic designs that you have dreamed up.  How do you get started on a project?  Do ideas just come to you or do you sometimes have to go out into the world and look for inspiration?

Todd: An idea usually pops into my mind as the client is describing what they want or think they want. But I still do research on the web and magazines and books at my local coffee shop (Isadora’s Café, downtown Snoqualmie, WA.)

Jon: Isn’t your Dad a graphic designer?  How did he influence you?

Todd: My Dad was a major influence on my creativity. He was a fine artist when he was younger, became a firefighter and then created his own advertising and design business from his home. His company grew from our home into a business park with employees. I was one of his employees for awhile. I learned more from him in design than I did from my formal college education. He taught me how to be professional above all. My Mom was also a great influence on my creativity. She is an artist and showed me that art is everywhere and you can make art without any money. Just look around and hot glue stuff together or paint it or whatever.

Jon: What kind of a graphic design would you dream up for NerdTrek.com?

Todd: Geez, I like the way it looks now. I’d have to think about that one for a bit. It’s an awesome place to go each day and daydream.

Jon: Is there anything you would like to say to our NerdTrek.com fans?  Do you have a website or blog where they can check out more of your work?

Todd: I would say keep your dreams in front of you always no matter where you are in life and they will eventually come your way. Maybe not when you want them to, but it’s better when they come naturally in their own time. Also, it’s ok to be weird and playful with your imagination. Dr. Suess says,”I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.” And, Albert Einstein say,”Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

You can see some of my work at my website: www.ToddGambleART.com and on my blog at: http://toddgambleart.blogspot.com

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Magical Items of the Forgotten Realms: Swords

You have finally arrived at the City of Silverymoon in the Northern region of Faerun.  The air is cold here and the environs intimidating and far from tame.  Surprisingly amidst the cold wilderness awaits a city full of riches.  The word “riches” is defined far differently in Silverymoon than the rest of the Realms; Wealth here refers to the retention of great knowledge and artistic strides.  An organic city with smooth shapes and curves bend and twist with nature so that trees, shrubs, and flowers grow as one with the magically shaped architecture.

Strolling through the magical city is a welcome course after such a long time on the snow covered roads of the North.  The temperature has been magically altered within the city, allowing flowers to bloom in the dead of winter and artists to stand outside when it is snowing painting great visions upon vast canvases.  The smell of sweetrolls from the market wafts to your nose causing a smile to gently spread across your face as a bard’s lute sings a wonderful tune to the rhythm of your feet until your shoes gently slide across the smooth cobblestones taking you towards the High Palace of Silverymoon.

Awaiting you in the beautiful gardens of the High Palace is none other than the great Sage Huram of Silverymoon.  He has a long white beard weaved in two braids with the rest loose and tangled, flowing down over his rotund belly.  He wears bright white robes with a blue sash and around his neck hangs a large amulet with the symbol of Silverymoon- a half moon with a smattering of stars.

“Hail and well met friend!  Thank you for visiting the High Palace of Silverymoon, I am sorry but Lady Alustriel is… not available at the moment so I will be your guide.  You have come a great ways, I trust your journey was a safe one.  What’s that?  Oh yes, let’s get right to it.”

“You have come seeking information on some of Faerun’s finest lost magical blades correct?  You have come to the right place, I have made it my life’s work to pour over old dusty tomes in search of lore regarding magical items of all kinds.  Given that I am partially responsible for the well being of the Guardians of Silverymoon I have taken a special interest in enchanted arms and armor.  Come into my office and I’ll show you some of the information I have recovered on these blades.”

Sword #1: Jurdef’s Blade
Longsword +2/+4 vs. Priests of Evil

Once per day creates a glowing ball of light which causes 6d6 damage to undead in a 60′ Radius

Jurdef Gretall was the best friend and travelling companion of the great Priest Tornovius- whom followed the stoic god of justice, Tyr.  Jurdef had been born into slavery in a faraway land and is rumored to have been rescued by Tornovius. Many rumors and legends exist, but if logically pieced together we are able to gleam some facts from the stories.  Tornovius had been travelling in a foreign land, seeking “the giving slave” he saw in a reoccurring vision granted to him by the great Tyr the Just.  Tornovius came upon Jurdef helping an older woman pick up dropped vegetables from the cobblestone street of a poor town.  When Jurdef found that the woman had just lost her husband and had stolen the vegetables to feed her children, Jurdef told her to return the vegetables and take a gold coin he had found on the street a couple weeks prior.  Tornovius overheard this interaction, and when Jurdef’s slave master caught up with him and started to whip the boy, Tornovius came to his aid and paid the slaver his last 30 gold to set him free.  Tornovius told the man to go free with no obligation to him or his family.  Jurdef could not accept this kind act without some form of repayment; Thus did Jurdef pledge to travel with Tornovius and always protect his savior.  The two over the next few years became very good friends and Tornovius taught Jurdef how to wield his own father’s blade.  Rumor has it that Tornovius was a rotund yet muscular man who preferred large bludgeoning weapons such as a maul or mace, thus he granted his father’s blade to his best friend Jurdef.  One day while travelling through the High Forest in the Northern region of Faerun the two were ambushed by evil drow priests and their undead minions.  The priests were too powerful and too many for the friends.  After an hour in bloody combat, Tornovius fell, badly injured by their blades and dark magic tongues.  Jurdef would not give up and continued fighting long after his physical body had fallen.  He did not realize it at the time, but his pledge to always protect his friend combined with the magic of Tornovius’s father’s sword had bound his soul to the blade.  A great sphere of bright sunlight burst forth from the blade, enveloping the evil priests and causing the undead to burst into flames.  The priests fled into the woods but it was too late for Jurdef who had been absorbed by the magical blade.  He would live out his life through the blade and vanquish evil priests wherever they may rear their ugly heads.  Tornovius died of his wounds in the cold winter deep in the tall trees of the High Forest.  His last words will never be known.

The sword was recovered from the woods by a group of adventurers a couple decades ago, but after the group left to explore an old dwarven mine in the mountains near Citadel Adbar the group was never heard from again.  Perhaps the sword waits amidst a pile of bones, jewels, and gems.  Jurdef still waits in the cold ashen darkness for someone to claim him so that he may continue his quest to cleanse the shadows with the sun.

Sword #2: Dragon’s Bane
Cane-Sword -5/+5 vs. Dragons & Dragon-kin
Curse: Wielder is overcome with the obsession to Slay Dragons

In the year 1329, in the quaint dale known as Mistledale a powerful retired wizard who went by the name Rewl mourned the loss of his only child- his daughter Sarah.  Sarah had been an adventurer and from what the last surviving member of her party could tell Rewl, she had been slain by a great Red Dragon known as Flaire during the groups exploration of the Ruins of Myth Drannor.  Rewl mourned for weeks until finally he came to terms with his grief in a very masculine manner- he would slay the dragon Flaire, but not before exacting his revenge and torturing the beast that dared to take his daughter from him.  Rewl had the greatest blacksmith in the Dalelands craft him a plain cane which would secretly house a fine blade made from the purest steel ore mixed with the illegally acquired blood of adolescent dragons.  Finally Rewl had the mythril head of a dragon placed upon the cane with magical blood red ioun stones for eyes.  Rewl took the blade home and enchanted it with numerous spells, delving into Necromancy for some and the dark arts of Shadow Magic.  Finally he called upon the darkest of all gods to bless the blade so that it may pierce the flesh of dragons.  The blessing was granted and Rewl now acquired a tool with which he could slay dragons, and so he did.  Rewl became suddenly obscessed with ridding the world of all Dragonkind, good or evil it did not matter.  Rewl traveled the realms gaining a reputation as a ruthless slayer of Dragons.  Ironically when Rewl finally stumbled upon a chance encounter with Flaire (the red dragon that had slain his daughter) her vast size and stature so entranced Rewl that she disemboweled  him with a single claw and took his sword-cane for her treasure horde where it still resides to this day.

Sword #3: Kulvar’s Warblade
Indestructible Bastard Sword +3
Once per day: When wielded by an enraged barbarian can attack twice per round until rage subsides

Kulvar was a Purple Dragon Knight of Cormyr who found city life suffocating.  He had grown up in the small town of Eveningstar to the NW of Arabel- the city where Kulvar served.  The longer Kulvar served under King Azoun, the more he craved freedom.  Finally one day while on a mission outside of town he had enough of the structured environment he had forced himself into and fled the group on horseback into the nearby hills.  He traveled for days with very little food and water.  Recalling his survival skills he learned from his father while a child in Eveningstar, he found survival in the forests and hills to be invigorating living outside in the rain and elements.  Eventually, Kulvar became accustomed to living alone in the wilderness and was at peace.  One day Purple Dragon Knights appeared in the area protecting miners who were surveying the hills for potential sources of ore.  Kulvar fled into the hills but was spotted by the Purple Dragons who pursued upon recognizing the defunct warrior.  Kulvar ran hard and fast and distanced himself from his former comrades.  He was running haphazardly though and tripped and fell down a small ravine.  In the ravine Kulvar found his fall had disturbed some rocks blocking a small cave entrance.  Within the cave were the remains of a great warrior wrapped in sheets of silver.  Upon the sheets lay a gleaming engraved bastard sword.  Kulvar reached for the blade and when his hands touched the grip he knew he had found his soul-mate.  Raising the sword above his head, Kulvar exited the cave and decided that civilization would push no further into the wilderness, this would be the last stand for the trees, the animals, the wind and the rain, this would be home to no more humans and their destructive ways.  Kulvar had become one with the land and defender of the free realm.  He charged into battle against his own men- the Purple Dragons and the miners.  He was outnumbered, outmatched, and outarmored- and he slayed them all.  A bloody mess was left upon that hillside and it would be the last time anyone ventured into those woods.  Rumors still say that evil Harpy’s killed those Purple Dragons and the miners, but some know better and pass on the legend of Kulvar of the Bloody Hills who may still wander those hills with his enchanted blade to this very day.

Thank you for reading our first installment of the Magical Items of the Forgotten Realms.  There will be many more to come so please check back, and remember that these creations can be altered to use in any world, setting, or RPG.  Enjoy!



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D&D the Good Old Days: Share your Stories

Take a short pause in your day to reflect on your D&D legacy, the RPG games that you used to play with friends when there were no limits on time and anything was possible.  Take a moment and share those memories with us today in the comments section below, and if you have the time read this article where I lament over the death of my youth and subsequent loss of free time.

When I was a teenager in school, without a job, and spending summers with my friends we used to game like there was no tomorrow.  Our game of choice was AD&D 2nd edition and we played in all the campaign settings.  Our favorites were Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, and Dragonlance but we loved it all.  We had sessions that sometimes lasted from when we awoke on a Saturday morning late into that night and then continued the following day until the weekend was gone.  Those sessions are the stuff of legends, I remember them so fondly and recall how we used to game without a care in the world.  No appointments, jobs, husbands or wives, or children- just good old Dungeons and Dragons!

In the good old days we didn’t dig through the Players Handbook looking for rules violations or making sure we knew exactly how this or that spell worked.  We just enjoyed the fantasy and let it flow naturally, most of the time I didn’t write any adventure aside form some notes scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper behind the DM screen.  We would take time out to draw maps, talk about NPCs and the future of the characters involved.  Speaking of involved, my god- everyone was SO involved in each game.  It wasn’t just a game, it was our world!  The tales we told and the incredible journeys the Players made will be remembered forever.  Once I put it this way to my best friend- “The characters and ideas we have crafted take physical manifestation in the form of cells in our mind so in a way- they are real.”  Somewhere Taku Okamiya really exists, as does Derris Strongsword, Darsell Rathar, Iendelle Greenbottle, Laura Drandella, Gin, Phidel Cruze, and Alin Durqua.

The tales we spun were our own and we tended to stay away from the pre-made modules as they just felt forced.  We preferred to keep it real and enjoy our own game and use the rules and campaign settings as a guide to help us along when we had need of their services.

I miss those days and now that I am older we only get together with our gaming group about once per month and 12 games a year just doesn’t feel right.  Although there’s no way I can squeeze in one more thing due to my 5 jobs and playing in a band I sorely miss those days and hope they will come again soon.  Perhaps you will support me so fully with NERD TREK that you and I will have a chance to game sometime for days at a time!

I would like to share some of the most memorable characters and a very brief description of each.  I was always the DM yet even I enjoyed all of these unique and memorable characters.

Taku Okamiya (1998-2006) – Forgotten Realms – Hailing from the far east in Kara-Tur, Taku Okamiya ended his career with the following title: Lord Taku Okamiya, Ruler of Nesme, Guardian of the Confederation of Luruar, High Priest of Helm.

Derris Strongsword (mid-90’s) – Forgotten Realms & Planescape – Derris Strongsword was a gruff warrior who although distrusted magic eventually came to embrace it and carried all manner of magical devices which eventually led him into the planes and great quests through lava lakes and demon hordes.

Darsell Rathar (mid 90’s) – Dark Sun – Darsell Rathar was a brutal Mul (Human/Dwarf) with bulging muscles and a hot temper.  Wielding two impalers and with a taste for exotic mind altering herbs found in the High Forest, Darsell slayed more NPCs and enemies than every character combined in any campaign DMed to date.  He did whatever he wanted and killed whoever he wanted and his skills at wilderness survival and evading pursuing enemies and then killing them were the only reason he lived for so long.

Iendelle Greenbottle (2009-current) – Forgoten Realms – A carefree halfling rogue from Luiren, Iendelle recently discovered that she is actually a Doppleganger.  When she was a child she so wished to exit the forest and join the carefree halfling she saw daily picking flowers and dancing in the fields.  One day despite her mother’s pleas she spoke to the girl who was at first afraid.  Over many years the two girls became friends and always met in the field near the forest.  One day while walking the breathtaking cliffs near Beluir, Iendelle the halfling slipped and fell- the Doppleganger in her natural form caught her but could not hold on.  She slipped from her grasp and plummeted to the rock below, but not before the Doppleganger absorbed all of her thoughts.  Iendelle (who now believed she was one and the same) returned to her halfling home and unknowingly lived out the rest of her childhood there.  It wasn’t until recently that the halfling found out her true past while on a mission to save the realms from Vaprak the Destroyer.

Laura Drandella (early 90’s) – Forgotten Realms – A sexy female half-elf bard who was one of the first players to discover and explore Myth-Drannor- and live to tell about it!  She was a fiery broad and although many men were turned on by her, many more lost their coin purse and woke up without even a loin cloth to their name.

Gin (2008-2009) – Forgotten Realms – An elf raised by a human dictator and trained as a thief and assassin.  When the truth emerged that the dictator was in league with demons and the murderer of Gin’s parents, Gin’s life was turned upside down.  Now Gin lives with a life long enemy and many dangerous adversaries that pursue him to the edges of the world.

Phidel Cruze – (late 80’s/early 90’s) – Goldenhorn (custom world) – A dragon rider who was the only PC ever to own a ring of wishing, this game was wildly unbalanced, full of powerful magical items, and fun as hell!

Alin Durqua – (late 80’s/early 90’s) – Forgotten Realms – Alin Durqua discovered a magical stone in an ancient cave which was later revealed to have belonged to a now dead god.  This stone offered great power with a price.  You were able to open portals anywhere in the realms but one must drain the life from a soul in order to use this power.  Over the course of Alin Durqua’s life he saw much of the realms, soul trapped many poor souls, changed history and thus the future of the realms, was decapitated by an overzealous necklace of strangulation, and finally resurrected as a beastman who went insane and formed a cult worshiping the new evil god Cyric at which point the player turned over his character sheet to the DM (me).  He was one of the most unique characters and when originally rolled up I watched the player roll his stats STRAIGHT DOWN the line: 18, 18, 18, 17, 17, 17 and this was with regular dice- I checked them after he rolled.  Insane.

There you have it, I have shared some of our favorite characters and stories.  Although I gave you the incredibly brief version, I would like to hear yours now!  Please share your RPG stories below, whether you are a player or DM let us enjoy our memories of the “good old days” together!

 

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Death of a Gaming Shop

ORIGINALLY POSTED 23 DECEMBER 2010

Yes, this time it’s personal.  My local gaming shop- “Cascade Comics & Games” is closing and imploding into a flurry of 50% off sales and depressed gamers and comic nerds.  When I stopped by the shop yesterday, the owners brother was manning the counter looking dreary reading a comic book.  After spotting the “50% off Store Closing Sale”, I asked “Is this for real?”  He nodded solemnly.  After talking for a bit I perused what was left on the shelves, lots of great deals here… but I would rather have the gaming shop than these deals, hell- I would rather have the gaming shop than all the free gaming merchandise in the world.

Jack, the owner of Cascade Comics & Games has had his shop now for about 5+ years in North Bend, WA.  He found ways to stay afloat when other businesses would have closed.  It looks like the economic downturn coupled with recent personal life issues have finally caught up with Jack.  Sadly at the end of the December, the local game shop will be no more.

I started thinking about the reasons that businesses all over the US are failing and a few different concepts came to me.  The poor economic times that our government has blessed us with have wiped out so many small businesses I fear there will be little left by the time the double dip recession (depression) hits rock bottom.  Hard financial times also put a huge strain on marriages.  The #1 reason for divorce in the US are spouses arguing over financial issues, and with these hard times almost 90% of Americans are dealing with financial issues one way or another.  With divorce comes not only the division of assets, but income- thus destroying the local business in the mess.  My last reason is the advent of internet businesses; There are so many online stores where you can get insanely low prices, why would you ever go to a local shop and pay twice the price for their goods?

Internet stores have VERY little overhead and thus are able to mark many products so low that they make only a couple bucks off each sale.  If local shops try and compete they will lose so much money they might as well not be selling anything at all.  I’m not saying the internet is bad, it’s just shifted the way things are bought and sold to a different format where real local people have less interaction with their community.  The problem is gaming and comic book shops not only sell goods, but create a gathering place for nerds and geeks to come together to work on model scenery, play strategy games like magic the gathering, and role-playing games like D&D.  Without this local gathering place, nerds have no real way to meet and interact on a local and personal level.  Some may argue that the internet is a great way to meet people, but I beg to differ.  Have you ever tried to find gamers to play with online and met in person only to regret ever offering to host a session or join their session?  You are already obligated to spend an entire day with these people who maybe the most annoying group of people you have ever met in your life.  Maybe they like to complain all session long, or just joke around and don’t actually play, or perhaps their DM never gives detailed descriptions and just runs battle after battle.  The point is, if you had met at the gaming shop you would have had the opportunity to see them in action firsthand and make a decision accordingly on if you wanted to spend an eight to ten hour day with them and their friends.

On many occasions I was able to meet other gamers by playing a game of Magic with them or just talking about old school RPGs.  I was given the chance to get to know some of the members of my community.  I even had the chance to bring Jack and some of his friends on an excursion with my friend Todd Gamble to tour a hugely popular company that makes miniature games (and they don’t even give tours!)   Todd had worked with the owner at Wizards of the Coast, thus was able to make this happen- something that never would have occurred were it not for the gathering place Cascade Comics and Games!

Since we are already in great danger of becoming an online society where we rarely communicate face to face and instead rely on technology, the closing of a local gathering place just pounds another nail into the coffin which gets tossed in the ground amidst hundreds of others.  The camera pans out to show thousands, and then millions more where contained within each was a neighborly community of individuals who once gathered and shared their lives, in person with each other and vested in common goals, ambitions, and entertainment together for the sake of the enjoyment and sense of community it brought.

Try and remember this next time you visit a local business that is original, artistic, or unique- this isn’t Starbucks and supported by millions of other shops the world over, this is a local business and the lady behind the counter might be eating Top Ramen tonight for dinner so that you can enjoy her business.  (Heck, to run NERD TREK I spend over 100 hours each month and on average make 25-50 cents a day!)  Just remember that if you appreciate your local businesses, make the extra effort to get out, meet people there, and purchase something for a little more $, knowing that the money will go in the pockets of a fellow American, a fellow American who is your neighbor.

I don’t want to see another gaming shop close.

Please stop by Cascade Comics and Games before it closes at the end of December 2010 and purchase something to support Jack.  If you really want to help, please drop some extra money into the cup on the counter once titled “baby fund” that now reads “college fund” to help his cute little baby girl.

Here’s to Jack and all his years of hard work and dedication, you will be sorely missed by many and never forgotten for what you did here.  Viva Cascade Comics & Games!  You shall live on in Elysium.