The group so far

We have 4 players at the moment:

rogue, psion, sorcerer / bard, and fighter. It’s a fairly good balance in terms of leader, striker, defender, controller since we have one of each. And two melee with 2 ranged sounds good in theory.

One more player, preferably melee to help hold the line and keep the psion and bard – sorcerer hybrid safe – would be good from an optimization standpoint. And, of course, 5 players is a nice number.

Dinosaur monster stats for 4th edition D&D

There are a few dinosaurs under aliases in the monster manuals but here we have some more options. In the monster manuals check out behemoths (like the macetail behemoth or the trihorn behomth) and the drakes (like fang titan drake for tyrannosaurus rex). For raptors, the Eberron campaign guide has clawfoots.

I like dinosaurs.

Buying Heroscape & minis from coolstuffinc.com

Recently got a Coolstuffinc order delivered to my parent’s house in the US.Some great prices combined with free shipping and quick email response to my questions makes them winners in my book:

1 – Dragonblade Ninja – 17 (Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Deathknell) at $3.99 each
17/60; uncommon
1 – Drider Fanglord – 12 (Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Savage Encounters) at $3.99 each
12
2 – Drow Enforcer – 51 (No Card Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Night Below) at $2.99 each
51/60; uncommon
2 – Drow Spiderguard – 13 (No Card Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Dungeon of Dread) at $2.75 each
13/60; uncommon
1 – Hellwasp – 55 (No Card Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Against the Giants) at $2.25 each
55/60; uncommon
2 – Huge Fire Elemental (EPIC ONLY) – 20 (No Card Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, War of the Dragon Queen) at $9.49 each
20/60
5 – Medium Water Elemental – 36 (Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Dragoneye) at $3.25 each
36/60; uncommon
1 – Scorpion Clan Drow Fighter – 34 (Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Angelfire) at $1.49 each
34/60; uncommon
2 – Small Fire Elemental – 54 (No Card Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, War of the Dragon Queen) at $3.75 each
54/60
1 – Treant – 64 (Near Mint, Miniatures, Dungeons and Dragons, Giants of Legend) at $10.99 each
64/72; uncommon
2 – Heroscape Expansion Set: Fortress of the Archkyrie (New, Board Games, Hasbro) at $12.99 each
2 – Heroscape Master Set 3: Dungeons & Dragons: Battle for the Underdark (New, Board Games, Hasbro) at $21.99 each

Here’s what my mom said when I asked to make sure the contents matched the invoice:

I don’t see an invoice in the biggest one. It has 2 Master Set 3s, 2 expansion sets for Fortress of the Archkyrie, 3 large pieces – 2 orange monsters & a brown tree guy, 5 small blue things, 10 other small things & 8 cards

I can’t commnet on the condition because I haven’t seen these guys but I will point out that the treant and huge fire elementals are tough to find and usually more money. The small fire elemental from war of the dragon queen is usually over $5. Some good deals here plus fast, free shipping (when you spend over 100 bucks and only to the continental US).

Buying D&D minis from Auggie’s

A quick review from my recent experience – I placed the following order with Auggie’s:

2 medium water elemental (dragoneye 36) @ 2.99
2 blazing skeleton (against the giants 48) @ 4.49
1 elder red dragon (against the giants 11) @ 22.99
2 medium air elemental (dragoneye 23) @ 1.99
1 burning skeleton (deathknell 49) @ 2.49
1 brass golem (night below 02) @ 2.99
1 skeletal dwarf (deathknell 40) @ 1.29
1 blackroot treant (against the giants) @ 4.49
1 black woods dryad (desert of desolation 14) @ 0.79

Shipping on any order under $100 is 3.50 so my total was 57.48. This of course is only to a US address, not to my home in Seoul.

An elder red dragon

An elder red dragon D&D mini

First, the prices are good. Auggie’s doesn’t always beat Ebay and beholderthebargains but I checked and on these items they did. I actually saw an elder red dragon get bid up to $30 (plus shipping) on Ebay. Beholderhtebargains also charges $30 for the elder red dragon (with card – it’s down to $25 without card but they are out of stock). Mine did come with a card so we have to compare mine to their $30 one anyway. And ever try finding a medium water elemental for $3? I found them for 3.25 on coolstuffinc but that’s about as close as you can get. Beholderhtebargains is 3.50.

Customer service via email was quick to respond to inquiries. I didn’t see an order history on the Auggie’s site so I ended up forgetting what I ordered and buying another blackroot treant (for slightly more money) but that’s a cool-looking mini anyway.

The minis were shipped fairly well and arrived with no broken parts or anything. Three of them came bagged even though they weren’t supposed to. The red dragon did show signs of play that ideally would have been included in the description – I don’t think we can call it near mint. I’d have bought it anyway so I can’t complain too much but the condition should have been mentioned specifically on a big ticket item like that. If I have another thing it’s that cards don’t come in sleeves. They were packed well enough to come in good shape though.

Overall, a solid mini seller. Sometimes they have the best prices and the service is reliable.

Hex-based (ala Heroscape) terrain and D&D 4th edition rules

Interesting thread here for those of you using Heroscape or other hex-based terrain for D&D. I know I’ll be switching back and forth so the diagrams on how to handle blasts are going to be useful for me.

I also like the idea that flanking can work from multiple angles and with 3 guys they can all flank  – I was already planning to do this but now I know I’m not alone.

There are some arguments against hex-based terrain, but it sounds like lots of people are doing it successfully. One argument was you can’t make a square room or a rectangular hallway. Of course I can switch to square dungeon master tiles for those. Or put the wall down the middle of a hex.

This part isn’t in the thread (but I might add it) – if your mini fits in there you can occupy the space. If it doesn’t fit, then you can’t. Most regular minis (players) will fit in half a Heroscape hex. Large creatures never will.

Speaking of large creatures, they take up just over 1 hex. I’m going to allow smaller minis to occupy adjacent hexes (so you’re human can stand next to a large water elemental) but two large monsters can never occupy adjacent hexes.

What is your budget dungeon masters?

I didn’t think I needed a budget, just figured I’d buy a few cool minis and some dungeon master tiles on Ebay and the game would be more fun. I knew I’d spend a few hundred bucks (new DM with no minis starting from scratch after they went OOP) but I just say my Ebay totals and was a bit surprised. $450 so far plus lots more stuff I’d really like to add to my new (and growing) collection.

Plus for some items, Ebay is not the best way to go. For D&D minis Auggie’s, Beholderthebargains, and Coolstuffinc will all sometimes beat Ebay prices. Basicially to get the best deal you have to see what’s available on Ebay and what it’s going for (buy it now is usually but not always a poor choice on Ebay – check out the auctions first). Then you’ll want to check out the three sites I mentioned above.

Better known sites like trollandtoad don’t seem very competitive pricewise to me.

Anyhow, $450 on Ebay so far, $150 from coolstuffinc (Heroscape plus D&D minis), $100 from Beholder the bargains, $70 from Auggie’s (good thing I didn’t know they sold Heroscape when I went shopping there), $75 from miniaturemarket (mostly lexan terrain maps since I’ll be using Heroscape terrain but a handful of minis were OK deals there), possibly some more from Housemousegames (more heroscape terrain maps and maybe figures).

Maybe I should have set a budget! But at least I have an orc / goblin army, a crapload of undead, some fun Heroscape terrain, a fire elemental army, a water elemental army, an elder red dragon, some drow, fun surprises for my players, and maybe an investment since if I found bargains I could theoretically make money when my the miniatures no longer serve my campaign.

To all hesitant maybe DMs: what’s your reward?

I knew our Dungeon Master was leaving the country in August but I didn’t jump at the chance to fill his shoes, at least not initially. I wasn’t excited or convinced I’d have fun. The DM does more work than the players so what’s the reward?

I had DMed in middle school, high school, and briefly in college. I’d say I had fun one of those times – in college I ran a campaign that lasted not too long but who can remember that far back anyway?

In that campaign the players started off as followers (you know how in old AD&D a level 9 guy could build a keep and attract followers and some of those could be “special” if you rolled 99 or 00 on a d100 or something?).

But the guy they were following was an evil asshole and they were good or neutral. Some fun orders that they didn’t want to follow ensued and I don’t remember how the campaign ended – probably fell a apart before there was any real conclusion but I remember revealing the secret to my friend Brett who said it was a fun, awesome idea.

So what’s the payoff for being a DM? For me it’s remembering that time 12 years or so ago when I and the players had fun figuring out a cool plotline.

So I am DMing again because I have another cool plot idea. This time it will be harder to tell who the good guys and bad guys are – well some bad guys are obvious but players will have major decisions to make that influence who rules where. It should be fun for all, including me.

So to all hesitant DMs:

Do you have a fun story? One you think is so fun that it’s worth putting in some extra time to make sure it gets told? If so, be the DM. If not, stick to playing.

4th edition D&D campaign in Seoul, South Korea

Starting in September, 2011 is my D&D campaign. Since this is my first time DMing 4th edition and since I haven’t DMed in 15 years or so (1st and 2nd edition AD&D), I’m doing a lot of work to make this campaign special.

Other DMs might be interested in what I’m doing to get my game ready so this blog was born. I’ll be covering stuff from writing plot, to designing monsters, to buying minis, to designing terrain and battlefield maps. I hope it helps.

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