Monday, July 9, 2012

One door closes...

There's been a lot of changes happening around Dungeons & Donuts behind the scenes.

Sad news out of the way first, though.

Unfortunately, D&D Encounters ONLINE has been postponed, most likely indefinitely. My work schedule is pretty rigorous, allowing me only the most inconvenient times to be online and host games (both for myself and for players).

Anyone who's followed the web series on Youtube should be unsurprised. None of the D&D Encounter episode 'seasons' are complete.

I'd like to apologize to all of my assorted online players from Google+, as well as the audience we've had on Youtube. All of you are fantastic people, and I love playing D&D with you all.

While I may host some Google+ Hangout games in the future, I can't say for sure when that would be.

Now some great news!

So, this blog is infrequently updated. Most of the content I produce is either image based (maps, character sheets, doodles, etc) or lengthy opinionated ranty posts (with images). The amount of content I produce that contains game advice, tables, and useful tools (which most of the D&D community seem to want) is very small.

That said, I'm transferring a great deal of this blog's content to a new tumblr. It'll have all the articles, rants, and pre-gen characters from this site, only in a more pleasing to the eye (and efficient) pictorial format.

Please follow us on tumblr. It's really good (and good for you!).

With a tumblr, I can guarantee weekly updates, as well as flex my photoshop and tablet muscles (which are scrawny and need to be worked out). Also, there's a ton of blogspot users writing about D&D, but very few on tumblr. Working here, I'm just another monotonous voice amid thousands, but over there I have the chance of being heard a little more (or, at the very least, my voice will be more unique).

Thanks to everyone who's supported this blog so far. If you can, please give the new Dungeons & Donuts a visit. It's similar to what's come previously, only better.

Seriously, you'll want to check it out, if only for the 4-page guide that allows you to make a 4e D&D character from scratch without the aid of books or software...all in less than 20 minutes!

I think that's a record.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Some maps I made

It's been a busy month. I donated bone marrow, started running D&D Next playtests, learned I have a faulty valve in my heart, and got divorced. Despite all of these complications, I'm doing pretty well, and decided to finally update this blog with some content.

My various online gaming sessions (Playing D&D Encounters and D&D Next via Google+ Hangouts) has provided me with ample opportunities to try my hand at dungeon mapping in Photoshop.

Here are a bunch of examples of my scribbles and scrabbles:










I'm gonna continue to improve my mapping skills. The 'Temple of the Lost Sea-God' map was a trade with Stacy Dellorfano from Frivology. You should serious read her blog and circle her on Google+. Her musings and illustrations are most easily described as 'dope'. They are also suitably 'fly' and 'pimp'.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

DND EO and an updated schedule


So I'm abbreviating Dungeons & Dragons Encounters ONLINE (a whopping ten syllables) to the much smaller and cuter D&D EO. I think it'll make things a little easier going forward.

Also, Session 2 of D&D EO is running this week, with the first play time running tonight. Here's the schedule for the games this week:

Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 7pm EST

Friday, May 25th, 2012, 7pm EST

Sunday, May 27th, 2012, 7pm EST

Also, If there's enough feedback over Google+ I'll be hosting an additional game later in the evening to accommodate people on the west coast (Pacific Standard Time) who're interested in playing. If this is something that appeals to you, send me a message over Google+ (+Kiel Chenier) or leave a comment below.


Also, will I be commenting on all the hubbub over D&D Next and the Open Playtest? Probably not. I'm excited about it, but still waiting on a stable download link

*EDIT:

For any/all new and returning players, here are some tips for playing in an online Google+ Hangout game:

-If you don't have a headset, at least wear a set of headphones if you can. This will reduce feedback noise in the hangout. It's not required, but extremely recommended.

-You will need a set of dice to play. If you don't have one, there are online dice rollers available through a quick Google search.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Encounters Web Series update


To all the people who found this blog via the D&D Encounters webseries on Youtube, good for you. I'm sorry that that particular series never really got off the ground.

The good news is, it lives on (after a fashion) in the new D&D Encounters ONLINE format. Every week we'll be broadcasting one of the games over Google+ and Youtube. You can watch the first one right here.

On that note, I'm working on editing down the video into a shorter, more condensed version similar to the older Encounters episodes. These will be complete with some snazzy visuals and opening sequence. I'm just wrangling some issues with Google+ Hangouts in order to get the best quality video feed before I get to editing.

My goal is to have it appear similar to some of the great G+ Hangout videos produced by Destructoid: Office Chat and 'Sup Holmes?

Please let me know what you think, and if you have any tips or suggestions in comments.

Also, for those wanting to take part in the next session of D&D Encounters ONLINE, send me an email at dndencountersonline@gmail.com, or add me to Google+ (+Kiel Chenier) and post a message on my wall. If you don't post a message saying you want to play D&D, I won't be able to add you to the appropriate circle.

Friday, May 18, 2012

D&D Encounters ONLINE update

Yesterday the first session of D&D Encounters ONLINE was played. It went pretty well. It wasn't without hiccups, but it was pretty fun.

To anyone still interested in playing, you're more than welcome to join us for tonight's game.

Here is the current game schedule:

*Thursday, May 17th, 7pm-10pm EST

*Friday, May 18th, 7pm-10pm EST (That's tonight)

*Sunday, May 20th, 7pm-10pm EST

If you've not signed up before at dndencountersonline@gmail.com, you can also do so by doing the following:

-Add me on Google+ (+Kiel Chenier)

-Send me a message asking to be added to my G+ D&D gaming circle (If you don't message me, I won't know that you want to play D&D, and won't be able to add you properly).


If you've already signed up to play at dndencountersonline@gmail.com, but you have not yet added me on Google+, PLEASE DO SO ASAP (Otherwise I can't invite you to a hangout to play).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Here's a character sheet template

The new pregens I've made are set up a very specific way. I liked the layout a lot and wondered if it might make for a functional blank character sheet. Here's the result:

There's space for a number of powers, plus enough empty blank space for writing down all the numerous details of a Type IV D&D character. Plus, like all D&D sheets, there's an entire blank page on the back of the sheet to scribble stuff down.

This sheet actually has a note suggesting that.

EDIT: Pimp supreme and all around awesome guy Ken Bauer turned this character sheet into an editable PDF file, which you can access here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Some kickass female characters

D&D Encounters is coming up. I made a few more pre-generated characters for people to use. All of them are RPGA legal and conform to the 'Essentials' build standard (of which I'm not a fan, but here you go).

While all the art is original and done by me, liberal amounts of reference to Genzoman's art were used in their creation (I'm just really bad at drawing bodies, and clothing, and hands, and hair, and people, etc).



So all of these pregens are female. They are also all decidedly non-Caucasian. People often complain about the sexist and exploitative depiction of women in most RPG fantasy art, and after exhaustively searching the internet for examples of female protagonists in fantasy art, I'm very much inclined to agree with those people.

I came across a disturbing trend in female protagonist clothing aptly called the 'tit-window'. It's when a woman's top bit of clothing exposes a generous amount of cleavage for no other purpose than to expose a generous amount of cleavage. Often the 'tit-window' isn't even a low cutting top; it's a regular top that has had the fabric/material around the breasts simply cut out.

This, along with leg coverings that basically amount to panties or a loincloth combined with boots, is pretty shameless. Even disregarding the idea that no woman could feasibly fight or defend herself in such clothing, all of it is still pretty exploitative in its presentation.

So I'm happy to say that all of the "armour" in the above art of female fantasy protagonists is practical while still being pleasing to the eye. Sexy without being sexist.

Let me know if you agree or disagree in comments below.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I'm a bad dungeon master. How fix?

One thing that never quite leaves a person is worrying about how they are perceived. Maybe it's something that dissipates with age, or with experience, or maybe with confidence. I still consider myself to be a 'young guy', and I definitely still feel self conscious about myself. I worry about what other people think of me. I'm still driven by a yearning to impress others and to be thought well of by others.

This feeling doubles when I run a game of D&D.

You can listen to me run a session of D&D Encounters over at Dungeon's Master. I had the privilege of getting to run a session for the game store's usual DM extraordinaire, Derek Myers.

I don't think I did that great a job, but I'll let you be the judge.

Maybe it was because I wasn't as prepared as I could have been. Maybe it was because I was running a complicated encounter designed to be a big finale (to events I wasn't present for). Maybe it was because a seasoned DM was at the table, plowing through the encounter with ease. For all I know, I could have just been nervous.

I feel like I bungled up enough from the session to merit a quick list:

-Didn't have the 'flavour text' in front of me, so was left to wing it when describing the PC's entrance to the dungeon via a magical portal. I felt like I was spouting a lot of nervous nonsense.

-Gave the main villain (insane dwarf seer) a kind of Droopy Dog voice starting out, thinking the players would underestimate him a little. Problem was, that voice got lost in the shuffle of play, and I ended up speaking his parts in my generic 'raspy villain voice'.

-I could barely parse out the stat blocks of the multiple monsters. I ended up forgetting about a lot of their more devastating attacks. Derek was nice enough to remind me throughout the game.

-Played the encounter easier than it should have been. The villains weren't nearly as imposing or damaging enough. Most of the players shrugged their attacks off. Only twice were any of the players ever bloodied in combat.

-Had trouble with the initiative order. I stopped using hanging tags to track initiative, because I felt self-conscious about how long it took to doodle every one's characters. I'm regretting not using this useful tool now.

-Sped through the skill challenge at the end. At that point, one player had to leave the table early, and I was a getting antsy. I railroaded the players through it as quickly as possible, even though two of the younger guys at the table seemed eager to explore.

-Summed up the grand finale with all the enthusiasm of someone late for the bus: "...and you get back to town because of the magic portal, uh, everyone who was sick is healed now, and, uh, you win and stuff".

I find it useful to reflect on some of these 'mistakes', whether you're a new DM or a veteran. Before playing that night, I thought myself a pretty decent dungeon master. Now, I think my game needs some work.

Almost all of the above problems could have been solved with a little more preparation. If I'd practiced my villain's voice, I could have kept it consistent. If I had looked closer at the monsters' stats, I could have better remembered their attacks. If I'd felt a little more sure of myself, I'd have used the tools available to me to the fullest.

What I learned most from playing that night was this: my dungeon mastering style, such as it is, is not adaptive enough to suit a variety of players. Overall, it needs some work.

People play D&D for a variety of reasons; each person gleaning something different from the game. Some people like to treat the game as an interactive story, while others play it the same way they would a war-game. There's no wrong way to play D&D. There is, however, a wrong way to run D&D. My gaming style tends to take the piss out of a lot of standard fantasy tropes, which may not gel with a lot of player's sensibilities.

After all, from what I understand, most DMs present a serious fantasy world and play it completely straight, while it's the players who inject the game with satire and hijinks, not the other way around. Something I might try to keep in mind for the future.

The important question is this: How do YOU like your D&D to be played? Why not take a few seconds to answer the quick polls in the side bar. Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and it's always important to get a sense of how those new to the D&D community feel. If you've ever had trouble with the dungeon master role, post in comments.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Web of the Spider Queen Pre-generated Characters!

The new season of D&D Encounters is going down to the Underdark.

Here are six new per-generated characters for the upcoming season. Keeping in line with the theme of the adventure, all of them are Drow adventurers. Plus, the template has been redesigned for maximum ease of use and legibility. Credit for the template design goes to James Stowe, who's an amazing designer and has come up with a number of awesome pre-gen sheets for younger players.






 All of the drow art on the sheets is made by me, though was heavily influenced by Warcraft artist Genzoman. I used a fair amount of his poses and armour designs for inspiration.

As always, if you spot any math or spelling errors, let me know in comments. I'll re-upload corrected sheets asap.

D&D Encounters ONLINE update:

We finally have enough players to run multiple sessions of D&D Encounters Online. As such, we'll be starting off with the new season "Web of the Spider Queen", which is set to begin in game stores on Wednesday, May 16th 2012. 

So far, here are the dates for the first sessions of D&D Encounters Online, to be played over Google+ hangout:

 *Thursday, May 17th, 7pm-10pm EST

*Friday, May 18th, 7pm-10pm EST

*Sunday, May 20th, 7pm-10pm EST

If you're interested in playing in any of these games, there's still spots available. You can sign up by following the instructions on THIS PAGE.

If you've signed up already, and none of these dates/times work for you, please send me an email at
dndencountersonline@gmail.com

If you're having trouble working out the time zone differences between your time zone and Eastern Standard Time, visit this site to work out the details. The above times have been made to accommodate the requested availabilities of players.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Homemade Character Sheets

If you've been playing D&D since before the advent of a digital character builder, then making a character sheet from scratch is probably nothing new to you. Published games often came with a limited number of pre-printed liscenced character sheets, necesitating the use of some loose paper.

Still, even now when building a Type IV D&D character is just a few mouse clicks away, many still prefer to make their own character sheets from scratch. Being able to scribble in details, notes, personal flourishes onto one's character sheet is the core of what makes D&D such a DIY game. Even if you use a printed, liscenced character sheet, after a series of game sessions it will no doubt be covered in notes and doodles.

I've often lamented that fourth edition D&D wastes a lot of paper with its current character sheet format (5-6 pages!), and the game seems to necessitate making your own sheets from scratch just in an effort to conserve paper.

Here's a collection of some of the best that the internet had to offer at the time of this post's writing:



A bunch of these are my own, others are sheets from I Hit It With My Axe, the rest cropped up from a Google image search.

If you have any homemade character sheets, provide some links in comments.