More Roleplaying with Middle-Schoolers

Joseph Erwin - Freelance Dungeon Master

It’s always wonderful to see what young players come up with.

As I often find, first characters are usually based on favorite characters from other properties. Typically they have little more than the serial numbers filed off, and then they’re off on adventures. I myself and almost all of my gaming friends have been guilty of this, and I consider it to be one of the Great Unspoken Traditions of tabletop gaming.

His name is… Enzio Bowditore.

This year, running adventures in the same world as last year for the Middle School kids has yielded some fascinating results. Perhaps most fascinating for me was the fact that no less than two different kids made their new characters be directly descended from their previous character, and another player is simply playing their old character again.

I love the fact that several players feel the desire to make a connection with the…

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Book Review: Game Boy – The Box Art Collection

Retro Arcadia

As someone who has a thoughtfully defined list of favourites for pretty much everything that interests me, I caught myself by surprise recently when asked what’s my favourite console. Never thought about that one! And with very little time for further thought, I replied the original Game Boy. Is it really though? Well, a bit more thought confirmed probably – PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable (or PSP) and Game Boy Advance SP would also be in the running, and if I’m allowed them then the PC-Engine Mini and Sega Astro City Mini are too…

But I keep coming back to that groundbreaking little handheld that changed my life in late 1990, then kept me company through university, and kept me occupied through the 90% monotony of band tours, and I was still playing (albeit mainly Tetris and Tennis by then) after I’d got married and owned house number three and then…

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The Best Christmas Inspired Levels in Gaming

The Game Campaign

Oh, the holidays. A time to get together with friends and loved ones to celebrate the joys of what makes this time special. However, this year, after a lengthy move, I am sitting in my studio apartment alone. But that won’t stop me from celebrating in other ways. If I can’t go out and celebrate, I’ll find some digital celebrations to enjoy instead.

I wanted to find levels that took heavy influence from the Christmas aesthetic in their level design, but levels that also represented the themes of the holiday received some bonus consideration. Now you better watch out because here are the best Christmas levels in gaming.

Fallout 4

Diamond City Christmas Event – Fallout 4

Fallout isn’t known for its traditional holiday celebrations, but Fallout 4 did incorporate a little easter egg for those players looking for a little Christmas cheer during their nuclear winter. The only caveat…

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DDO Tuesday and Warcraft Wednesdays coming to retrogamer blog

When you are going up against bugbears, kobolds and hobgoblins in DDO, best along to bring a healing hire if you are soloing the wilderness area.

It is not often that you get a second chance at anything in life. However, earlier this month I found out that Wow Classic is dropping fresh server and realms on November 16 and I all I could do is smile and think to myself, “I’m in.”

The year was 2019 and it does not seem that long ago that I had dedicated myself to going back in time (gaming time that is) along with seemingly hundreds (thousands?) of nostalgic Wow players and rolled up a character for the upcoming Classic server launch.

Well fast forward to the end of 2021 and I regrettably didn’t get very far in my previous endeavor to casually level a toon in the new classic server. With work…

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Is D&D’s “XP Valley” Killing Campaigns?


A sneaky system design quirk may contribute to D&D campaigns fizzling out before they reach high level.

Is D&D a Low-Level Game?

Prevailing wisdom says that most 5th Edition D&D is played at the lowest levels.

Folks have plenty of reasons to feel this way:

D&D’s April 2015 Player Survey data suggested “most of you are still playing in the 1st to 6th level range.” Notably, that survey was only a month after the game officially released. Folks also cite DnDBeyond’s Campaign Level Spread data, which controlled for certain factors in an attempt to only capture played characters, but remains imperfect and suffers from sampling bias. Sometimes, folks point to the sales data of third-party content produced for Adventurer’s League and DM’s Guild, which still composes a small fraction of the player base.

It’s impossible to say whether this phenomenon is a sampling error, a self-fulfilling prophecy based on 5e’s…

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Combat as a Complex Trap

JVC Parry

I often find that for cinematic combat scenes, the mechanics of D&D don’t quite achieve exactly what I need them to. Specifically, I don’t think 5th Edition is great at handling hordes of creatures – like a chamber filled with skeletons – or creatures of immense proportion and epic challenge – like a kraken that eats ships for breakfast, or any creature with the Siege Monster feature.

One way I’ve been thinking of changing things up in this regard is to use the mechanics laid out in the Complex Traps section of chapter 2, page 118, ofXanathar’s Guide to Everything. Here they define complex traps;

A complex trap poses multiple dangers to adventurers. After a complex trap activates, it remains dangerous round after round until the characters avoid it or disable it. Some complex traps become more dangerous over time, as they accumulate power or gain speed.


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Retro Arcadia Top Ten Games of 2020

Retro Arcadia

My annual list here is supposed to be screaming next-gen this year, but after much deliberation that helped me make up my mind I wanted an Xbox over PS5, it also made me realise I wanted Game Pass and not a new machine. Enter my 13-year old son wanting to replace his Xbox One with a fancy new gaming PC for Christmas, as well as no actual next-gen games for Series X yet anyway, and here we are! Still pains me not having a launch-day PlayStation for the first time in its history though…

As much as my game of the year for 2020 did affect and continues to affect me – and has made the very unusual leap for anything new into my top 25 games of all time – it’s not the best! Or even second best! It took me a while, but finally properly playing Silent Hill…

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