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Dungeons & Dragons – Stranger Things Style

Dungeons & Dragons Blackrazor

If you enjoyed this post make sure to check out our weekly podcast, Roll For Combat, where a group of old-school gamers play Paizo’s new Starfinder RPG.

Also, make sure to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

After watching Stranger Things, I decided to dig into the attic to see if I could find some of my old books and Dungeons & Dragons characters when I was a kid playing back in the early 80s. Somehow, beyond all hope and logic, many of my original characters and play-aids were intact and in near mint condition. I share these with you for a look back to what D&D was like for a 11-year-old kid … way back in 1981!

AD&D Folder
Look at that custom-made folder of AD&D power! The sword is what makes it impressive!

 

AD&D Folder Spine
And the spine graphics don’t disappoint either!

 

D&D rules and The Rogues Gallery
My original 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules! These rules still have the best subheading of all time, “Rules for Fantastic Medieval Role Playing Adventure Game Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Minature Figures.” Not sure why The Rogue Galley was in there as well but that book is a treat.

 

Trapper Keeper
How do you know that this is from the 80s? I have two words for you … TRAPPER KEEPER!

 

1st Edition AD&D character sheets and NPC character sheet
The original AD&D Player Character Records and a bonus NPC character sheet. As a kid, I had access to a Xerox at my dad’s office (which was fairly rare for the time) and I remember trying to copy these suckers with that colored paper was a total nightmare.

 

D&D Index
Look at that folder index! Characters! Graph Paper! Modules! Monster Cards! Books! What more could you want in your D&D binder?

 

Index card of Dungeons & Dragons
Why I decided to do this, I’m not exactly sure, but I congratulate you my 10-year-old self! Look at that penmanship! What a great start to anyone’s D&D collection back then. I even listed my dice collection as you can see (dice were rare back then, you kids nowadays don’t know how lucky you are!).

 

Old campaign notes
Adventure notes, a map of an adventure I was playing (my DM made some crazy dungeons), and an envelope my DM gave with … something inside. I’m not exactly sure what was in there, but I’m sure it wasn’t good.

 

Samson, the Cleric-Fighter
I actually remember this character. Back then it was nearly impossible to identify magic items, and I only discovered that ring was a Ring of Feather Falling after I fell off a cliff and lived. What a mess of a character sheet!

 

Little Pseudo-Dragon
My Little Pseudo-Dragon (red) pet! My DM gave him to him (hence the different handwriting). Nothing is more awesome than having a small Dragon as a pet!

 

AD&D Conan
Come on, who didn’t make a character sheet for Conan back then? Fun note, the barbarian class didn’t exist at the time (and was later introduced in Dragon Magazine), so I had to make my version of Conan a monk. For some reason, there was also an Eastern boarding pass next to the character sheet as well … not exactly sure why, but I thought that was a fun touch.

 

Wizardry the Wizard!
Look at that artwork! And my character name was … not exactly original. I believe I made this guy to run him through the Tomb of Horrors … of course, we didn’t make it. But we did make it all the way to the room of fire (and then promptly died). I still say to this day that my DM gypped us with that TPK and we totally could have made it out in time.

 

Other size of Wizardry
The other size of Wizardry the Wizard (the name that’s so bad it’s good).

 

Level 6 AD&D fighter
Another one of my characters. Look at that crazy block of numbers! And this is a fighter!

 

2nd page of level 6 AD&D fighter
I think Rhialle the Wanderer was initially named Elric after looking at this side of his character sheet. I like how “apparent age” was a category on the character sheet back then.

 

AD&D 7th level druid
This character wasn’t actually mine but it somehow ended up in my binder. I don’t remember whose character this was … but if you are reading this and played D&D with me back in 1981, come forward and claim this character!

 

The trifecta of AD&D goodness!
The trifecta of AD&D goodness! Of course, like everyone back then, I had a set of these classic books as well. They really made these things tough as nails, after 30+ years of wear and tear, they still look amazing.

 

AD&D Monster Cards Set 1 and Set 2
And what is this? I found this in the back of my folder! Mint condition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Cards! These were awesome as you could show your PCs a picture of a monster … in full-color!

 

AD&D Monster Cards Set 1
Look at that artwork! I still think the Red Dragon looks a bit wonky, but that Neo-Otyugh is sweet!

 

AD&D Monster Cards Set 2
Set 2 was even better. My all-time favorite Gelatinous Cube! That Roper looks nasty! And what the hell is a Land Urchin?!? I need to add that to my current campaign.

 

Druid vs Mind Flayer
Color artwork was very rare back then, so everything was illustrated in black and white. This picture is from The Rogue Galley and looks fantastic.

 

Bad AD&D art
Of course, not all of them were winners…

 

The Rogues Galley
What I really miss were the endless tables and their descriptions of everything under the sun. Sanity charts! General Tenacity charts! Everything had a chart back then, and awesome bonus artwork as well.

So there you go … a snapshot of D&D from 1981. Things haven’t really changed that much. Today we will make D&D characters of our favorite characters of literature and film (Conan and Elric in my case), we still spend too much time organizing our collections (I really need to get a Trapper Keeper for my Pathfinder Society characters), and we never stop playing.

I guess we’re all just big kids at heart when it comes to D&D.

If you enjoyed this post make sure to check out our weekly podcast, Roll For Combat, where a group of old-school gamers play Paizo’s new Starfinder RPG.

Also, make sure to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

Roll For Combat Wallpaper and Sound Effects

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People have asked for Roll For Combat assets, and we have listened! Below you can find links to the desktop wallpapers and the Roll For Combat sound effect so that you too can put the fear of God into your players.

Click the image below to download desktop wallpapers sized 1920×1200, 1920×1080, 1680×1050, 1600×1200, 1440×900, 1280×1024, 1280×960, 1280×800, 1280×720, 1024×768, 800×600:

Click image below to download the wallpapers

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Click image below to download the sound effect

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Starfinder Alien Archive Review – We’re Not In Golarion Anymore…

Starfinder Alien Archive

If you enjoyed this review make sure to check out our weekly actual play podcast where Jason and the team are playing the Starfinder Dead Sun’s adventure path as well as the occasional Starfinder Society adventure as well.

In addition, check out the podcast episode for a full one hour review of the Alien Archive!

It’s the newest rules supplement for the Starfinder game system. So new we had to rupture a small hole in the space-time continuum to get a copy. It’s best if we don’t discuss that any further, other than to say if you meet a cybernetically-enhanced otter named “Alphonse”, DO WHAT HE SAYS and wait for his quantum reality to collapse back into nothingness. But now that we’ve gone to all the trouble of rupturing the multiverse, the least we can do is offer you a few first impressions of the book.

At its simplest level, the Starfinder Alien Archive is a bestiary of creatures for use in your Starfinder games, even if that description sells it a little short. Nuts and bolts, it’s a little shy of 160 pages, with somewhere between 60-80 creatures (depending on how you choose to count variants and subtypes), 22 of which are presented as options for character races. Each creature gets a full two-page spread, so there are no half-finished monsters tucked into whatever space they needed to fill. As with pretty much all Paizo products, the production values are top-notch – beautiful artwork, the data-heavy elements are presented clearly… these guys have been doing this for a while and know how to make these books look great.

But let’s give the Paizo guys credit – they didn’t just dump a bunch of random re-skinned orcs and zombies on us and call it a day. There’s a lot of other stuff going on under the hood.

Starfinder Alien Archive skittermanderFirst, there’s the sheer variety of the creatures. Yes, you do have some holdovers from the world of Pathfinder (elementals make an appearance, as do dragons), but most of the stuff in here is totally new. On one end of the spectrum, you have the Skittermanders, little technicolor furballs that could give the Porg from the new Star Wars a run for their money on the cuteness scale. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Novaspawn, which only has rules for starship combat because it’s so large (and yes… you’ll be happy to hear it has tentacles). The gelatinous cube of your youth gets a high-tech facelift as the Assembly Ooze, and now it can assemble and disassemble technology devices. One of the most intriguing might be the Hesper, a radioactive creature whose radiation attack can cause random mutations – because who doesn’t want to grow a few extra eyes in the middle of a battle?

Similarly the player races. The Drow, Dragonkin, and Space Goblins represent a shout-out to Pathfinder, but you’ve got plenty of new options. You have a couple different insect options; an aquatic race (the Kalo…. I actually kind of like them); the Reptoids, who have shape-shifting powers; the Nuar, who are kinda-sorta minotaur-ish. We also get an appearance everyone’s favorite little gray men from Area 51 (the Grays), and I can’t stress this enough… we now have a BRAIN-IN-A-JAR race, better known as the Contemplatives. So if you thought the races of the core rulebook were going to be a bit limiting… the Starfinder Alien Archive has got you covered.

Starfinder Alien Archive DragonkinIn addition to the creatures themselves, you also get a small armory of treasure items that can be included as loot for the party. Sometimes it’s the loot carried by the creatures themselves – the Sarcesian are a race of mostly mercenaries that happen to carry really good sniper rifles. Sometimes it’s gear that can be harvested from the remains – you can take the remains of a scavenger slime and make sticky bombs out of it. Sometimes it’s more of a similarly themed item – the Bryrvath is a creature that manipulates light to fuel its powers; in studying it, scientists invented the “Aura Goggles” which protect against any effects that target vision.

And that’s the other thing — the bestiary sneaks a fair amount of lore about the Starfinder universe in through the back door. Yes, they give a GM the nuts and bolts they need to run it in combat – stats, what tactics it uses in combat – but they also give you a bit of lore about the creature and its place in the Starfinder universe. Add up all that content, and you get a nice piece of world-building.

Lastly – and in some ways most importantly – the appendices contain a lot of info about HOW Starfinder monsters are made. With the Starfinder system being so new, this may be one of the few times I’d advise reading the appendices before diving into the body of the book – it’s that useful. I almost wonder if they shouldn’t have put it up at the front.

I will say at first read it felt a little too “template-y”. You start with an array, which is a general role – fighter, caster, “expert” – and then you add different “grafts” to represent other aspects (race, class, etc.). Add special abilities, give them skills and spells, bake for 45 minutes at 350… I’ll confess it felt a little dry and by-the-numbers at first read, and I even started to get some 4th Edition cold-sweats.

Starfinder Alien Archive OmaBut I thought about it a little further and I think it works because it serves the premise well. I think fantasy tends to come back to familiar tropes while sci-fi is expansive. When you look at sci-fi, a lot of the fun is this idea that you have a whole galaxy/universe as your playground. Think Star Trek or Doctor Who where… yes, they have a few core races that reappear, but they also have a lot of fun with Alien of the Week. Some people are going to want the comfort of adventure paths, but some people are going to want that more expansive feel, and what the Starfinder system DOES offer out the wazoo is flexibility. If your players decide they want to take a detour to a moon you weren’t planning on visiting, you can have a new race for them to meet in a matter of minutes.

Besides, as the authors themselves admit, if you don’t like the rules, feel free to bend or break them as you like.

If there’s one thing I’m not completely sold on… maybe I’m being overly sensitive but I sometimes feel like the Pathfinder holdovers feel out of place. You’re coasting along looking at all this new and exciting stuff you’ve never seen before and then… “Space Goblins” (record scratch). I know they wanted to have a gateway to the familiar to help ease Pathfinder players into the new system, but sometimes it feels a little forced and I wish they would’ve just burned their ships when they reached the New World. But I think that’s a personal taste more than a fault with the material – there are GMs and players who will want that familiar element in their campaigns.

All in all, I think the Starfinder Alien Archive is an exciting addition to the Starfinder ruleset. If you’re going to be kicking the tires on Starfinder at all, the Starfinder Alien Archive is going to be a good addition to your real or virtual bookshelf.

The “Big Podcast Launch Giveaway” With Over $1000 in Prizes!

We here at Roll For Combat are extremely excited about our new podcast and to celebrate our launch we want to start it off in a big way with over $1000 in prizes. PLUS a special bonus prize for every single person who enters!

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Here is what you can win by entering:

  • Grand Prize when the contest ends: A $250 Amazon gift-card so you can buy as many RPG books as you want, plus a custom Roll For Combat t-shirt designed just for you!
  • 1st Prize: A $100 Amazon gift-card, plus a custom Roll For Combat t-shirt designed just for you!
  • 2nd Prize: A $50 Amazon gift-card, plus a custom Roll For Combat t-shirt designed just for you!
  • 3rd Prize: A $25 Amazon gift-card, plus a custom Roll For Combat t-shirt designed just for you!
  • EVERY SINGLE WEEK: A $25 Amazon gift-card will be given out after EVERY show EVERY week. So don’t delay entering as you can win as early as next week!
  • Plus for everyone who enters: When the contest ends you’ll be sent custom RPG content created specifically for the show and for use in your RPG campaign.
  • All winners will be announced when the giveaway ends on November 30, 2017

Ready to enter? Please follow the exact steps below to enter the giveaway and join in on the fun! (Please make sure that you have iTunes installed on your computer or mobile device first.)

Just Follow These Simple Steps to Enter using iTunes:

1) Click this link to go to the iTunes podcast page for Roll For Combat.

2) Click on the blue button that says “View in iTunes”. (It looks like this):

3) If you are prompted to launch iTunes, click the “Launch Application” button:

4) Now simply click on the “Subscribe” button! (You’re almost done)

5) Click on “Ratings and Reviews” and then click the “Write a Review” button below it.

6) A pop up window will appear where you can now leave a simple, honest review about my podcast.

You just need to give it a simple title, leave a short text review, give it a rating from 1 to 5 (with 5 stars being the best), and then click Submit!

7) Hooray! You did it! Now you just need to let us know about it so you are entered into the giveaway 🙂

Click here to submit your entry or send an email to contact@rollforcombat.com
with the following information:

  • Your email address
  • Your iTunes name (whatever name you left your review under) 

After that just listen to the show each week where we’ll draw a random name from the entries and if your name is called, you won! Just contact us after the show and claim your prize!

Just Follow These Simple Steps to Enter using Stitcher for Android:

For Android users follow the same general instructions as above, only write and post your review in Stitcher instead. Simply load the Roll For Combat page, scroll down, and write your review. Then submit your entry and you’ll be all set!

Stitcher review

Note: Don’t worry, we won’t resell your email or do anything with it, and all prizes must be claimed no later than December 31, 2017. Good luck!