Category Archives: Blog

Arena of Heroes, my Kickstarter Project!

Dear Internet,

I hold a very special place in my heart for Kickstarter.com. To date, I’ve helped successfully fund thirteen different projects, ranging from board games and comic books, to card games and RPGs, to gadgets and design software. I love the “grassroots” feel as I watch the projects increase in funding, knowing people are screaming “I WANT THIS, YOUR IDEA IS WORTH MY MONEY!” I also have ideas; lots of ideas. Most are surrounding my 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons home-brew campaign, but everything can’t be swords and magic and princesses.

As many of you that frequent my site know, another section has mysteriously materialized in the menu bar across the top: Board Games. There are two sub-links there for games I have designed to a point that they are ready to be released. Reversal of Fortune is a pirate themed card game that can be purchased through the spectacular print-on-demand service The Game Crafter. The other is a board game modeled in style from pop-culture hits as Gladiator or Sparticus, called Arena of Heroes.

Along with the talented help of Alex Melchor and Wesley K. Hall, I have been able to step up the “wow factor” with gorgeous artwork and game board layout. But…this isn’t enough. Even the prettiest pearl is nothing if never seen.

With my affinity for Kickstarter and wanting to take Arena of Heroes to the next level, as of GenCon (don’t worry, there’s a HUGE post-GenCon article coming soon), I’ve launched my first Kickstarter project asking for $15,000 to do a large, professional print run of Arena of Heroes. I only set the project to run for 30 days, so with a September 3rd deadline looming in the not too far distance, I turn to you and hope my idea is worth your money. Please take a look at the Arena of Heroes Kickstarter Project Page and let me know what you think.

Edit: I’ve included a gameplay video on the Kickstarter page and thought I’d add it over here as well.

Thank you,
Jeremy Southard
Wastex Games

P.S. Here’s what others are saying…
Sinister Forces: Pleas Support Arena of Heroes on Kickstarter



















digitaldraco unboxes: The Witchlight Fens Dungeon Tiles

After talking with @digitaldraco on Twitter and in the at-will web chat, we’re collaborating on a video series called…

digitaldraco unboxes

The Agile Gamemaster: The Stat/Initiative/Combat Tool

Welcome to the Agile Gamemaster series. In this series, I will talk about some tools and concepts that gamemasters can use at the gaming table to respond quickly to whatever comes along.

As a gamemaster, you are the single most important element at the gaming table. You are responsible for a large part of the creative energy that happens during each session. You must be ready with plots, adventures and information about the world in which the characters exist. Being an agile gamemaster, then, means that you are prepared, quick with information and able to adjust to whatever is happening at the gaming table. You should not be a hindrance to what is happening, but rather be a driving force at all times. Being agile also means that you are not content with where you are as a gamemaster but are constantly trying to improve your gamemastering skills and the tools you use.

When you sit down in the gamemaster�s chair you assume a number of gaming responsibilities that are easily identified, things like designing in-game locations and events, portraying non-player characters and running combat. There are also a number of things that are not immediately obvious that are just as important and in a few cases more so.

One of those hidden items is in the area of combat management, specifically the tracking of combatant stats, initiative and effects. Without a solid, manageable way to control this area of the game, you will quickly find yourself spending too much time juggling notes and scrambling for room on the table. You will miss some of the things that are the very reason you game in the first place: the action that is happening right in front of you. What you need is a tool that can give you quick access to character and NPC stats; easily display initiative; track the effects that are applied to each combatant as they happen; and not take up a lot of extra space at the gaming table.

As a weathered gamemaster, I have tried over a dozen tools with mixed results. Sticky notes, 3×5 cards, custom-made tracking sheets, notebook paper and even digital devices. Each has great points but is lacking in others or has major drawbacks. Some give volumes of information but take up too much room. Others are small and compact but lack flexibility. The digital tools distract me with their multiple layers of functionality and too often take my eyes and attention away from the table. Some of the things I tried were just plain bad ideas.

Recently I hit on a tool that has minimal drawbacks and outstanding results. Have you ever noticed those little sales displays that sit on your table at restaurants? The ones that stand tall and in the way while you eat so that you will notice the desert selections and maybe spend extra money on your meal. What if, instead of deserts, they held all those important stats about your characters and NPCs right where you could see them easily? I call it the Stat-Initiative-Combat Tool or SInC for short (pronounced sync). SInC has high visibility but allows me to keep my eyes and attention on the game. It is easy to use, stays in place and takes up very little surface area on the table. I can quickly adjust the amount of information displayed. Effects and status markers can easily be added or removed. And they allow the initiative order to be displayed to everyone at a glance.

Stat-Initiative-Combat close up

Stat-Initiative-Combat (SInC) Tool

In this single tool, I have finally found something that is game system neutral and has a permanent place in my gamemastering tool box. This close up of the tool in action is from one of my groups gaming sessions.

What follows is a set of instructions that will help you to create your own version of the SInC tool.

To make your own, you will need the following items:

  • Table top menu stands. The shorter ones work well because they have a heavier and more stable base. You will need to get these from a restaurant supply store, which you can find online by searching for �tabletop menu card holders.� They range from $.50 to $2.00 each. Get as many as you think you will need. I used the 2�� clip-type stand with 3� base.
  • Large craft sticks, tongue depressors or long Popsicle sticks. One for each base you are going to make. Available at any craft store in packs of 50 for about $3.00.
  • Miniature clothes pins. Also available at craft stores. A bag of 50 for about $5.00.
  • Rubber bands. You will need one for each stand.
  • Black magic marker or black model paint.

Steps to create your SInC tools:

  1. Paint or color your craft sticks black. This will help them to visually disappear when you use them.
  2. When they are dry, slide them into the holder portion of the stand in an upright position.
  3. Wrap a rubber band around the base of the clip. This will firmly hold the sticks upright and add a little more weight to each base. You can also disassemble them easily for storage and transport.
  4. Now take printouts of your preferred method of displaying character and NPCs stats and clip them to the stand. I used Wizards of the Coast DDI monster tool to print out creature stats and a custom Excel worksheet that formats all of the character information for the party and mounted them as you see in the pictures below.
  5. I painted one of the miniature clothes pins green to indicate which combatant is currently active in initiative.

You are now ready to game, and hopefully you are a just a little more agile.

Here are a few shots of the SInC tool in action.

SInC Tool GM View

SInC tool gamemaster view

You can see in the picture above the green clothes pin indicating the character whose turn it is and a small stack of monster and trap print outs waiting for their encounter. You can very easily create your own stat sheets or use what is available from whatever game system you group uses.

SInC Tool in action The Throne Room battle

The Throne Room battle

This was the battle of the throne room. There were 5 characters and 6 different types of monsters in this encounter. It was easy for me to manage the almost 60 combatants shown with no confusion or missed information. You can see many of the different game aids from Wizards of the Coast and Dark Platypus that we use here.

Anachronisms: Contest Winner!

May’s winning entry was written by Jim White, for the May Contest: Anachronisms. He can also be found on his website Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity and twitter under @twwombat.

Story
What if the adventurers find a full-color collating photocopier?

Consider: They open a cartography shop, able to recreate any map in mere moments. Since it’s so easy, they take a copy of every map they reproduce, eventually compiling the most accurate atlas in the world, with every treasure clearly marked with an X.


Literacy rates will shoot upward since the bottom fell out of the book market, even though books are now bound with only a single staple in the upper left corner. Everybody earns training in history and geography, and many children learn the ways of the world with purloined copies of the bawdy (and graphic) “The Piercer and The Beholder”.

When war comes to the kingdom, the party is put in charge of a generating and distributing propaganda leaflets which eventually end hostilities and lead to the annexation of the enemy country as a vassal state.

And don’t get me started when they figure out the ink formula so they can photocopy viable magic scrolls. They’ll have an unstoppable magic school where even apprentices can cast any first-level spell because scrolls are effectively free.

So it’s not so much a party advantage as a world-changing device, but I still wouldn’t want to be the gnome who has to keep it clean and free the paper jams all the time.

G4 TV’s Icons: Dungeons & Dragons

A friend on twitter passed on a link to an episode of G4 TV’s Icons about Dungeons & Dragons that I have never seen. It’s really great, so I thought I’d post it here for others who haven’t seen it as well.

Tribes of the Land: Contest Winner!

April’s winning entry was written by Tony Mastrangeli, for the April Contest: Tribes of the Land. He can also be found on twitter under @DnDHelper.

Story
The Anher Haunt

Sevron was a necromancer of some renown in his day. Legend has it that he worked in a liar built into the Nadam mountain range, just outside the town of Anher. Sevron’s goal, of course, was Lichdom. However, as powerful as he was, he wasn’t able to complete the ritual properly. The result was a magical mishap the kept his brian functioning, but destroyed his body.

Trapped in his own dead body, he wait for months until a unfortunate peasant boy from the town of Anher stumbled into his mountain lair. Using his mental influence, he quickly dominated the boy and set him to do his bidding.

Once the boy had Sevron’s brain safely interred into a jar, his use came to an end. Sevron had the boy kill himself and then proceeded to raise him as a ghoul.

Now with his most pressing need taken care of, Sevron began to think about the danger this nearby town might pose to him if they came looking for the boy. So he ordered his new ghoul servant to take him to the nearby graveyard for the town of Anher.

They went down into the deepest crypt and setup shop. With a massive supply of “raw materials” Sevron knew he could build his tribe up quickly. Using the first ghoul as his hands, he ordered him to start by bringing him a few corpses, to which he quickly raised in to skeletons. So over the months, Sevron managed to build up his tribe into a fierce band of undead.

He had thought about creating more ghouls, but knew they would be much harder to control then the simple-minded undead. So he deiced to work on experimenting with different types of zombies and skeletons. In addition to old corpses, anyone unfortunate enough to walk near his graveyard was quickly “recruited” into the tribe.

Thus, over the months, Sevron was able to create himself the Tribe of the Anher Haunt as he calls it. Locals know something isn’t right and steer clear of the graveyard. Sevron knows it’s only a matter of time before a group of adventures decides to come bother him, so he diligently is working on increasing his tribe.

This day his tribe consists of the following:
Sevron, Brain in a Jar
Level 6 Controller

Unfortunate Boy, Ghoul
Level 5 Elite Soldier

5 Skulk Zombies
Level 3 Skirmisher

4 Hulking Zombies
Level 4 Brute

10 Skeletons
Level 3 Soldier

5 Skeletal Archers
Level 3 Artillery

April Contest: Tribes of the Land

I wanted to start 2011 off with some contests and hopefully we can continue to run various contests each month here on the Wastex Games website. I now present the April Contest…

Tribes of the Land

The world is a big place, and when you include all the other planes of existence, the possibilities of what you may find are endless. Create a tribe of monsters (any kind), include their leader, some background of how they came to be, and some interesting lore.

There is no minimum or maximum word count required and it is open to anywhere Amazon.com will ship.

Submit your entry below and tweet the following on Twitter:
I just entered the April Contest at @WastexGames! http://bit.ly/ei77aN #dnd #rpg

If you wish to include any images, include a link to them in the form below. If you do not have a file sharing service, I highly recommend DropBox. It is free and if you use my referral link (here), both our accounts will receive an extra 250 MBs of storage.

The winner will get their choice of one of the three following items:


Lords of Madness – Miniatures 6-pc Booster Pack

OR

Deluxe Dungeon Master’s Screen (4th Edition D&D)

OR

Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game: An Essential D&D Starter (4th Edition D&D)

Use the form below to submit your entry, submissions will be accepted until Saturday, April 30th at 11:59 PM EST. If you have any questions or comments, ask away here in the comments! Good luck!

This contest is closed.

Fantastic Locations: Temple of Geryon

Geryon was once the lord of Stygia, the Fifth Layer of Hell, a position he gained right after the demotion of Levistus.

Known for his staunch loyalty to Asmodeus, Geryon was the only one to support the Lord of Nessus upon the Hell-wide revolution known as the Reckoning of Hell. But, in the aftermath, his faithfulness was apparently useless, as Geryon was demoted and banished to Avernus with his court by Asmodeus himself.

He was at one time a commander of a Stygian fortress known as Coldsteel, only to later lose that position as well. His physical form has ultimately been destroyed and his life-essence was given to power up Glasya, Asmodeus’s daughter.

After Geryon’s short reign over Stygia and his swift demise, his occult followers began to wander aimlessly in search of another dark deity to follow, abandoning the temples built in Geryon’s honor and most of the treasure and magical items within them. One such temple is buried deep in the jungle and has been overrun by creatures both from the local habitat and those left behind, used in various ceremonies and rituals done in worship of Geryon.

Geryon’s temple was once a bustling metropolis of dark dealings and charismatic denizens. The minotaur faithful ran the city with a strict, ironclad hierarchy, though allegiances were not as orderly as they may have seemed. Physically twisted and fanatically loyal, the Priests of Geryon were the unquestioned rulers within the temple walls, and guarded their positions jealously. They were a web of despots, each with his own small domain to crush under his iron heel.

After Geryon�s fall and destruction, the priests tried to hide the change in circumstances from the rest of the city. They were used to their privileges and their power, and intended to keep them. Eventually, it became obvious that Geryon was no longer manifesting, and the truth eventually reached the ears of the general population. The other races in the city banded against the minotaur priests, and both fought each other to near extinction. What few remained wandered off to find better fortunes elsewhere.

For decades, the temple was a quiet place. The jungle has reclaimed much of what was the surrounding city. The temple itself remains barren, as if even the jungle plants can feel the taint of the terrible things done there, though the stones have begun to collapse in on each other, making the maze of rooms treacherous. The more dangerous fauna of the jungle tend to gravitate to the temple, drawn instinctually to the place.

In recent years, minotaur sightings have become more plentiful near the old ruins of the city. They wear metal armor, tinged with a whitish blue sheen that evokes the eternal ice of Stygia. Whispers and rumors abound of a new High Priest taking residence in the inner sanctum of the temple. The Priests of Geryon Resurrected work tirelessly toward uncertain ends, going about inscrutable errands in the ruins of the city and in the surrounding jungle. Only one thing is certain: since the priests returned, nobody who has entered the temple has ever been seen again.