Storm King’s Thunder: So You Need to go to Nightstone

Storm King’s Thunder is the new Dungeons & Dragons adventure from Wizards of the Coast that chronicles the sundering of the Ordening that used to dictate the hierarchy among giants, and the consequences for the smaller races as a result. The player characters must find out what has happened and how to fix it. It is a grand, sweeping epic that has reportedly been inspired by Shakespeare. As great as it is, however, there are a few places where you might want to take the story deeper.

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D&D: Age of Worms

Age of WormsRecently a Twitter user posted a question to Chris Perkins of Wizards of the Coast asking for suggestions for running the awesome 12 issue Dungeon magazine adventure path Age of Worms written by Eric Mona, and originally published in Dungeon magazine between July 2005 and June 2006.

I ran this adventure path for my own group, and it is a long haul. To be honest, we only made it as far as the fourth issue before life got in the way. I would love to run it from beginning to end one day, but at the moment I’m gearing up for Storm King’s Thunder.

To help out this gentleman DM, and any other DMs who may be running Age of Worms for the first time, here is a list of resources to help run the adventure.

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Bar Stool Quarterback – A Football Dice Game

Wow! I won my first game design contest!

Thank you so much to Jason and Rob from the Building The Game podcast. They recently held a contest for a simple football dice game that could be played in a bar (ideally a sports bar). I wracked my brain for weeks trying to come up with an idea, and it wasn’t until the last day of the contest that I landed upon using a press-your-luck mechanic as the key to my game idea.

I’ve tried to simulate a football game (we’re talking Canadian/American football here, not soccer) without getting too far into the weeds of a real game, so I’ve only really simulated (loosely) moving the ball up and down the field with running plays and passing plays, as well as conversions and field goals.

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Google Spaces vs Google+ vs any OS

Google announced their new Google Spaces app Monday, and frankly I’m having some difficulty wrapping my head around why we need it. Now admittedly I haven’t tried the app myself yet, but I have been reading about it, and watching some YouTube reviews, and what I get is the following; Google Spaces allows you to message others (Google Hangouts & Google+), share content (Google+); have a messaging style discussion of a specific shared piece of content (Google+); limit the audience (Circles in Google+), and use Chrome, Search and YouTube without leaving the app (more or less what you can do with Google+ now).

Yes, it looks flashier and newer than Google+, but is the functionality really much different? I can already limit my audience in Google+ using circles, and set content so that it cannot be shared outside of that circle. For each unique content share, those with whom I have shared it can comment on it in a threaded comment system that only functions differently in its appearance (looking more like comments on a web page or traditional social media than a “messaging app” style with fancy shmancy bubbles). I’m not seeing the difference yet…

Use it as a messaging app? Why? What can it do that can’t be done with Google Hangouts, or even with Google+ itself? In Google+ I can start a text post and share it with specific people only, and they can reply (and I can reply to them) in the comments to that post. I can use special hashtags then to find it again later if need be.

Finally, this idea of not having to leave the app to use Chrome, YouTube or Search has me scratching my head. At the last Google IO they announced the new integration of Chrome into apps, and open to all developers. Now when I am using Google+ if I tap on a link to a web page, it opens it in the integrated version of Chrome. When I’m finished reading it, I hit the back button, and I’m back to the original Google+ post. For YouTube videos shared via Google+, on the desktop you can watch them right in Google+, and on mobile it opens YouTube, and when you’re done watching it, hit the back button twice and you’re back to the Google+ post.

Search is the only component so far that seems to have one extra trick up its sleeve where Spaces is concerned, searching the web from within Spaces. Google+ searches within posts, collections, and communities, but not the web, however I can’t imagine it would be that hard for Google – the search company – to add web search to their Google+ search.

Speaking of Communities, by the way, wasn’t that the point of communities in Google+; a curated group with one or more gatekeepers sharing content?

The inclusion of other apps directly within an app (“you don’t have to leave the app to use these other apps!”) leads me to another gripe about so-called “platforms” like Spaces seems to be; how is this different from an OS? An OS is a wrapper for the apps/programs you use. Whether you are switching between Search, Chrome or YouTube within Android, or within Spaces, you are still using them one at a time within their respective wrapper, no? Tech companies like Google and Facebook keep amalgamating functions within ever recursive “wrappers” as if it’s something new, novel, revolutionary, and useful, but they’re solving a problem I don’t think exists, and the real goal (when you look at it from a Facebook perspective instead of a Google Spaces perspective) seems to be more about keeping you within an “ecosystem” to get more eyeball revenue. It’s the real reason Google has been working to get the Chrome OS to work within Windows or Mac OS as a sort of Trojan OS, or why Facebook is adding news and live video to keep you within its own “OS” on Windows or Mac OS.

The only feature I’ve seen on Spaces that doesn’t currently exist on Google+ is the screen splitting feature to look at content while keeping the threaded comments/messaging open beneath it. I doubt this feature will seem so exclusive for long considering we are expecting Android N to include split-window and/or multi-window functionality.

So, I’ll try Spaces, at least so I can’t be accused of complaining about something I haven’t even tested, and maybe I’ll be back to eat my digital hat, but I like Google+, damnit, and I want these damn kids to get off my lawn!


Spirits of the Dead – EAP


Spirits of the Dead

Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 – 1849

Thy soul shall find itself alone
‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!

Find this poem and more Halloween-themed poetry at

D&D 5e Adventurer’s League – Now What?

dnd_products_dndacc_playershandbook_pic3_enThe 5th edition is now “out and about”. Most of us by now have at the very least the Starter Set, or the Basic Rules PDF. Many of us also have our proper PHB’s in hand (that’s Player’s Handbook for any of you new to these things). I have been very excited by this new edition, taking part in some of the playtesting, and pre-ordering all my books the moment they went up on Amazon. (For a little background, I’ve been playing D&D, and other RPGs, for about 28 years now. I’ve played every edition, but chose not to buy the 4th edition books. Just wasn’t my idea of D&D).

I went to FanExpo Canada specifically to jump in to Adventurer’s League play from the beginning, but things are not what they seem, and I was a bit let down in the end.

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Happy Birthday, H.P.


Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Today is, or rather would have been, the birthday of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who was born August 20th, 1890. If you aren’t familiar with who he is, and what he did, and you like Halloween… well, what have you been doing with your life?! 😉

Lovecraft is responsible for the Cthulhu Mythos of elder god-monsters, and dozens upon dozens of short stories that should be considered required reading at Halloween. Much of what came after in the Horror genre was directly influenced by Lovecraft (and before him Edgar Allan Poe). If you’d like to learn more about Lovecraft, there is a great page on Wikipedia, as well as an extensive site at The Lovecraft Archive (including texts of his works for free).

If you’d like a little ambience (music and sound) by which to read, check out Simply Rain as well as Pumpkinland by Mark Harvey at

If you’d like to get some free audiobook versions of Lovecraft’s work to listen to, go to

Reading List: Nightmare Store

“What Nightmares are in store for you?!”

That’s the (lame, I admit it) tag line I would have written for the cover of this “Plot Your Own Horror Stories™ ” book I found while going through old boxes in the basement today.

phorror2[TL;DR – I found an old CYOA-style book from the 80s about a haunted store. I’m going to read it and post a summary to Twitter.]

Being 40 now I was, of course, there back in the 80s for the onslaught of Choose Your Own Adventure ™ books and all the various alternatives that followed the premise of a free-form story with multiple options and endings along the way. The reader was prompted to choose between two or more possible paths from each page in the book, which meant they could be read again and again many times and still feel fresh. In a way, they were one of the precursors to the modern RPG video games where the player takes on the first-person role of the antagonist, and must find their way through the adventure. (If you aren’t familiar with these books, you can read about CYOA, the “grand-daddy” of the genre, here: )

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The BatClock

Jack's birthday present for Daddy

Jack’s birthday present for Daddy

Jack (my 3.5 yo son) went to Costco with mommy today and brought this home for me. It is supposed to be my birthday gift, but my birthday isn’t until October. I asked if he wanted to hide it until then so he could wrap it up for me, but he decided I should just hide it myself in my bedroom.

Fragment of a poem