It’s convention season again, so here are some tips (taken from last summer’s Tricks of the Game Trade all about attending conventions). This recap is much shorter than the original article, but the tips are still good and should help you have a better convention-going experience!
Fantasy & Science-Fiction & Roleplaying
Looking at every edition of Dungeons & Dragons, it’s easy to see how fantasy and science-fiction writing affected its creators and influenced their design of the game. The inclusion of elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs, and much more was absolutely drawn from Tolkien’s work and the magic of D&D has often been described as “Vancian” because of its similarities to the sort of magic used in the stories of Jack Vance. Barbarians with their lack of armor, martial skill, and overall toughness is clearly a call back to Conan and similar characters created by Robert E. Howard.
So, it should come as no surprise to see that there’s a new supplement coming from Modiphius for their Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of roleplaying game— Conan the Thief. Rather than concentrating on the barbaric aspects of the setting, this sourcebook gives GMs and players the chance to learn more about thievery and the underworld of the Hyborian Age, in which Conan spent a good portion of his (fictional) life.
If you’re looking for a good resource to make the dark, dangerous streets of your game more interesting, then Conan the Thief is an excellent choice. It offers advice on heists, traps, watchmen, and monsters, as well as spells and treasures to tempt and tantalize players.
Certainly, Conan the Thief will be most useful to someone running Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of roleplaying game, but it should also prove useful to gamers looking to emulate the sword & sorcery feel of the Conan stories, especially those centered around larceny. In addition, if you’re a fan of Conan, the book also offers information about a number of locations frequented by thieves, from Shadizar to Zamora.
Another Classic Revisited
Those of you interested in exploring or re-exploring one of the most infamous dungeons of all time should definitely take a look at the Tomb of Annihilation for the 5th Edition of D&D. Inspired by the Tomb of Horrors, this adventure takes players from the streets, where a plague is afflicting people from all walks of life; a wasting disease that slowly weakens the victim and, most importantly, prevents them from being raised from the dead!
In a world in which magic is “normal”, the fact that one of the most powerful spells no longer works is a major concern, so the player characters need to find out what’s going on. This adventure takes the heroes far to the south of the Forgotten Realms to Chult, a peninsula surrounded by mountains and rainforests where they need to find out what’s going on and return the Realms to how it ought to be.
Unlike the Tomb of Horrors, this adventure hasn’t been designed to kill the player characters, outright. Instead, it’s designed to take the players from 1st to 11th level. It contains an entire campaign’s worth of adventure in the jungles of Chult. Plus, it includes classic (and formerly very cheezy) monsters such as the zorbo, the froghemoth, su monsters, and even zombie dinosaurs that vomit zombies!
If you’re interested in playing in “hard mode,” there are rules options for making the game even deadlier. This adventure should live up to expectations, while still making your campaign fun, challenging, and interesting. Plus, there’s tons of information on Chult in general, so if you want to use it as part of your sandbox-style campaign, there’s plenty of details to make that possible.
Among the Aliens
One of the biggest releases in the world of roleplaying games this year is Paizo’s Starfinder. The last couple of columns included some information about the core rules and its first Adventure Path. This month sees the release of the Starfinder Alien Archive, which is packed with more than 80 new races GMs can use as NPCs or adversaries and players can use as character options.
Given that Starfinder is set in space, it only makes sense that there are myriad aliens to encounter, and the Alien Archive provides a stable of space-faring races to choose from. In addition, the book includes rules for creating your own creatures and races, so you can come up with exactly the sort of creature you’d like to play—whether it’s an original creation or an homage to an alien race from your favorite science-fiction book, movie, or television program.
Unlike the multiple Bestiary volumes that have been released for Pathfinder, the Alien Archive should be popular among players and GMs alike. That’s a real boon, because, typically, the books that are useful to GMs don’t usually contain much that the players will find beneficial. Here, however, is a soucebook that allows everyone at the table to come up with exciting and interesting new aliens. The freedom to customize your play experience at the table is a great thing, and if you’re playing Starfinder, you should definitely take advantage of it!
Take It To the Tabletop
If you’re hitting up some conventions this summer, have a great time and take care of yourself. While you’re there, check out some of the great, new roleplaying games being released and, if you can, play through a demo. Any of the books discussed above would be a blast, so have fun and go game!