Age of Ashes #72: Fishy Disappearances

Pathfinders' Guild of Berkeley

In a missing chapter of our tale, the party defeated the gugs and found a ghast they held prisoner. They exited into a large cavern and met a dwarven explorer, who took them to the nearby underground city of Kovlar. (-GM)

31st of Gozran, 4720 AR

“Can we just bully them into working with us?”

-Twig’s thoughts as conversations continue

Forgemaster Kelda Halrig, speaker of the Council of Regents

Eager to help the dwarven city, the group agrees to speak with the Council of Regents. It is made up of leaders of each guild, ten in all–including the gamblers’ guild, carpenters’ guild, and anvilers’ guild to name a few. The Council considers sponsoring the party to deal with a series of recent troubles. With some bad impressions made by Twigs, and more helpful interactions from Normal Person, only a stubborn two guilds decide not to vote in favor…

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Of testing, deadlines and VTTs


Although I’ve never worked as a MMORPG or other games developer, I have some personal experience of creating pen and paper D&D modules. This has only been for self-publishing on the DMs Guild, with me doing the majority of the work (writing, editing, layout and organising testing) as a hobby activity. So far, the only external deadlines I have had to work to came from community events like the RPG Writer Workshop, so they are as elastic as they need to be based on the free time I have to plug into the project.

As previously noted, I feel I did pretty well on the writing front, 5500 is a good amount to get through. Sadly, as is the norm for me, I prioritised writing over communicating – I barely touched the RPG Writer discord channel this time. In the last two weeks I had a sudden non-creative priority to…

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Nintendo Switch Hardware Sales Now Just Shy of 90 Million Units

On August 5, 2021, Nintendo released financial information related to the fiscal quarter ending June 30, 2021. During the second quarter of 2021, the Switch sold 3.31M traditional Switch units and 1.14M Switch Lite units. These additional nearly 4.5M units bring the total Switch hardware sales to date up to 89.04 million units.

This Switch is currently in second place in terms of Nintendo’s home consoles for units sold. According to Nintendo, its best selling console, the Wii, sold 101.63 million units during its life time. With the new Nintendo Switch OLED Model set to release October 8, 2021, it’s not hard to imagine the Switch reaching over 100 million units and surpassing the Wii in the next few years. Nintendo itself projects 25.5M units to be sold during the current fiscal year (starting April 2021 and ending March 2022), which if accurate would indeed have the Switch surpassing…

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Rolling Damage


Do you roll or use static damage in your D&D game?

5th Edition stat blocks list damage as a flat number, with rolled damage in parentheses:

If you deal damage, you must do one of these (or some variation). But do you know why? In order to make an informed choice about whether to use flat or rolled damage, you should understand the benefits of each.

Flat Damage

Several very smart and experienced Dungeon Masters have transitioned to flat damage. They are happy to sing of its virtues. Notably, Sly Flourish makes the case for “static” monster damage, primarily focusing on the time it can save at the table. Since both rolling and math take time, not doing them is faster!

Of course, flat damage may be easier for folks for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you prefer predictability for your players. It can also help folks with dyscalculia…

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Heart of Darkling – Deception’s Bridge

Dyson's Dodecahedron

Heart of Darkling Series Header

The Darkling River works its way through the underdark beneath the grey hills to depths unknown. This is the fourteenth mapped location (and 17th map total) along the Darkling River and the Darkling Lake beyond.

Heart of Darkling - Deception's Bridge
Heart of Darkling – Deception’s Bridge (300 dpi promo – no commercial license)

This small colony of cavefolk along the darkling river has has generally been xenophobic and resistant to allowing outsiders in except for the most basic of trade – and even then they trade mushrooms and fish for red meat and occasionally weapons. On incredibly rare occasions they offer other trinkets that they have acquired from other travellers. But even the trade is usually done asynchronously – traders bring goods up the stepped stone cave from the dock and leave it there, then the cavefolk come out, take what they want, and leave their counter trade in its place.

Heart of Darkling - Deception's Bridge
Heart of Darkling –…

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Boss Rush Banter: Do You Use Assists in Gaming?

If you look anywhere over on social media, there’s always a big debate going on about how gamers play their games, and if the way they play their games makes them real gamers or not. One of my biggest pet peeves in an argument is about assists being available in games that are meant to be hard.  

The whole debate started one day when gamers had gotten annoyed about cheats, assists, and anything else being available to help you beat a game, as if it meant all of their hard work being said game was for nothing. Here they were playing a game as intended, or how they thought it was intended, and then someone else could come along, play the game in half the time, and no one would be the wiser. This irked many gamers as it meant there was no way to tell who beat the game and how. Which begs the question, do you…

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D&D Theory – Somebody/Anybody Spectrum

The Nerdd

In Dungeons & Dragons culture, Dungeon Masters have a lot of ideas, which often turn to arguments, about what is the *right* way to run the game.

I believe that many of these arguments, whether it’s about fudging dice rolls, having restrictions on who can roll what when, or even the style of adventure in the campaign, all comes down to where you fit on what I’m calling the “Somebody/Anybody Spectrum.” The core of this spectrum, is what you prioritize in your game.

At the end of the day, the biggest priority should be fun, and if you are all having fun, then you’re playing the right way.

It is worth mentioning that some games (games that aren’t D&D which you should explore), are built around one of these ideas, and if you find that you are strongly on one side of the spectrum, you could look into playing those…

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The weird truth about video game swag

Bio Break

Something I don’t see a lot of video game journalists talk about very much is on the topic of studio swag. YouTubers are different in this, because they’ll get an easy video showing off stuff, but generally journos keep it quiet.

Because it’s weird. It really is. And I think that a lot of us worry that even mentioning that a studio gave us free stuff casts instant suspicion on the veracity of any coverage or opinion.

I get stuff from time to time from various studios. No, I don’t know how I got on their mailing lists. I assume that some go-getter PR person does research on everyone who has, at some point, covered their game professionally and then put them on a mailing list for goodies. It’s a blatant attempt to garner favor — or at least recognition — of that game.

There never seems to be a…

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Boss Rush Banter: Are Video Games a Type of “Spiritual Opium”?

Be honest with yourself: are you or have you ever been addicted to video games?

Now, I don’t mean that you like to play games a lot, that you have 1000+ hours on Fortnite, or that your gamerscore is above 100,000. What I’m asking is have you ever had an overwhelming need to play video games to the point where you cannot function without them, and that you’ll put off important tasks just to get your digital fix?

Recently, the Chinese state media declared that video games were a form of “spiritual opium,” using the comparison to the harmful narcotic to argue the reasoning behind their strict regulations on the industry within the country. After the report, shares for the Chinese gaming companies Tencent and NetEase plunged by nearly 10% on the global market.

This isn’t the first accusation that video games can have an addictive quality to…

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Game Pre-Orders


There used to be many reasons to pre-order a game you wanted before it’s release date. Many reasons that aren’t really around in today’s gaming market. Although it’s 99% unnecessary these days to pre-order upcoming games, I still do it sometimes. It’s still fun to expect something. It’s the same as ordering products online and later checking the shipping updates and getting excited. It’s like a mini-birthday gift for yourself.

Let’s go over some of the reasons why we used to pre-order games:

Guaranteed Copy

This one is very rare, but it did happen a couple of times to me.

There were times when I was younger that I didn’t pre-order a popular game that I wanted and when I arrived at Best Buy, Game Stop or EB Games they were sold out. Yes, this was a rare thing and probably would be an incredibly rare occurrence today, but it…

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