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A Rambling Post About Dungeons & Dragons Part 3

Brandon: In Parts 1 and 2  I have stated how I my interest in D&D was piqued. But now I can hear you asking, “Have you actually played yet, Brandon?”

Yes, yes I have.

It started with some very short and extremely homebrew games with my two children DMing (being the Dungeon Masters). If I remember correctly our oldest was about 8 or 9 at the time. That’s how old our youngest is right now and they have started to DM more. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We did some homebrew games at home as a family and then Tarehna created a birthday adventure for a friend of ours. This was all very fun, but I still didn’t feel like I was getting the full D&D experience. A lot of it was that I didn’t know enough about character creation and role playing or the game itself. All of that changed when we got the D&D Starter Set The Lost Mine of Phandelver.

The Starter Set comes with dice, an adventure, a small rules book, and pre-made character sheets. We opted for the pre-made characters to get the whole flavor of the starter set, though you can create your own. The plan was for our family to play once a week with Tarehna being the DM. That plan didn’t quite work out. It took us about a year to finish the adventure The Lost Mine of Phandelver. I’m confident you could finish it in a day or two if you didn’t play it about once a month for 30-40 minutes at a go.

Even at this less than light speed pace we learned and we enjoyed the game. Eventually we did finish The Lost Mine of Phandelver and something amazing happened. We were all smiling. We all learned how to do this game and this adventure together. It was rough at first, but we all figured out our characters along the way and better learned the mechanics. Our little group, just three adventurers and a DM, were eager to continue. We have since started The Horde Of The Dragon Queen and are loving it!

What do we love about D&D? There is so much! First, character creation, once one gets the hang of it, is a lot of fun. There is a lot of referencing and cross referencing. You get to choose if you want to be a human, or half-orc, or a tiefling, or a tabaxi. Do you know what a tiefling is? And then you can be a wizard, ranger, or bard. “Bard?” you ask. “Bard.” I respond. Trust me. That’s just the start. You can have spells, and special gear, and wondrous attributes. And wait until you level up and you get more spells or more special attributes.

You want to know the best part? The storytelling and the team work that can evolve as your characters learn how to interact is so fulfilling. You get an incredible feeling of accomplishment when you over come challenges together. I have stood up in anticipation and anxiety waiting for another player’s dice to stop rolling to see if they succeeded or failed. We have cheered each others’ achievements and also felt regret at lying to characters we have met in game in order to serve our own needs.

It’s important to have fun the way you want to. Focus on mechanics if you want. Maybe you will choose to be more lax about some mechanics so you can focus on storytelling. You can be focused on both and attempt to make the game as immersive as you want.

Those are the 5th edition D&D books in the picture.

I haven’t even mentioned all of the stuff you can acquire if you are so inclined. There are miniatures and maps, dice, dice towers, dice trays, spell cards, and pewter mugs. Well, you don’t need the pewter mugs, but they do add to the ambiance.

I’m looking at all the text above and realizing I could easily turn this into a 4 part series. I’m also realizing that may have to wait. For now I will state that if you haven’t played Dungeons & Dragons and are interested you should try it. Jump in! Get the Starter Set and some friends and learn together. You may already know someone who knows how to play who can guide you. There are also many online resources to get you headed in the right direction. You can even play with other people online. Check Facebook groups and Reddit forums. One bit of advice before you do get started: Find the right group of people for you. Find a group that allows you to role play as much or as little as you want. Find a group that is supportive and one the same page as far as what you all want to get out of the experience.

Now, in lieu of a Part 4 I am going to recommend some other role playing games that you should take a look at. Not everyone wants to fight dragons while pretending to be a sorcerer Kenku.

King of Storms

We have featured Jim Pinto of Postworld Games before and this is one of the reasons. King of Storms is part of the Praxis series of games that do not require a Games Master. Pinto also eschews cumbersome mechanics and puts the emphasis on storytelling.  Half-titans, half-gods, and gorgons battle to become the King of Storms in an story that can take as little as four hours. (trust me, this isn’t that long for a Role Playing Game)

If being a half-titan isn’t your thing we strongly suggest checking out any of the RPGs offered by Postworld Games: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/5137/post-world-games

Golden Sky Stories

What? You don’t want to have to be violent in your RPG? No problem. Take a look at Golden Sky Stories. In this game you are all semi-magical animals who occasionally take on human form to help each other and become friends. Golden Sky Stories can be cute, heart warming, and fun.

One Final Recommendation

Get out there and do some research. Check your local game store, ask friends, do some surfing on the world wide web!. Do you want to be a vampire or a house plant? There is a game for you. Good luck!

 

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Anniversary (Of Sorts)

Brandon: Hello! Greetings! Welcome! I started Board Game Jungle on August 28, 2014. “But wait, Brandon, this is Spaghetti & Meeples!” Yes, yes it is. But it wasn’t always. I actually ran this site as Board Game Jungle for close to two years before changing the name due to its similarity to the name of another game blog. I am so glad I did. Spaghetti & Meeples is a much better name. Oh man, did I have a point? Yes!

It’s been three years since I started blogging about board games and table top games. It has been an interesting ride with highs and lows and side trips. I have been lucky enough to meet some incredible people and wonderful game designers. (BTW, I just realized this may read like a “good bye” post; it’s not)

One of my favorite things has been meeting indie and aspiring game designers. In this way I have been able to do a little bit here what I have done on my music blog Some Kind Of Muffin. I’ve also been lucky to meet and talk to those who run some of my favorite game stores and feature them here. All of this is not to mention my fellow bloggers, pod-casters, YouTubers etc. who are all a part of this community and the mission to share the hobby.

While running this site I have also been raising a family, attending graduate school, and now I am an elementary school teacher(substitute). There have definitely been lots of challenges keeping this going while doing all of that. I have tried to bring on additional contributors to alleviate some pressure on myself, but also in order to bring varied perspectives to Spaghetti & Meeples. The results have been mixed and not what I hoped. Overall though, that’s ok.

Making videos has been one of the more fun and creative aspects of running Spaghetti & Meeples and Board Game Jungle previously. Teaching, however, also uses much of that same creative energy. I currently have two video projects for the site in various states of recording, but I am not sure when they will be done. Just as an example, what winds up as a fun 5-10 minute video requires hours of time for lighting, recording, doing multiple takes, and then of course editing. I have been trying to put it off, but I do believe it is time to focus more on writing reviews and articles. The time and effort required for writing is far less than that required for doing videos.

But what does this all mean? It’s been three years since I’ve embarked on this journey and I’m in a reflective and sharing mood. I’m planning on continuing and am curious what that will look like. If you have been following us for awhile I hope you will stick around, and if you’re new to us please stay tuned. Let’s see what happens!

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A Rambling Post About Dungeons & Dragons Part 2

Brandon: Greetings! If you missed part one of this little series you can read it here. For those who have already read part one and for those who don’t wish to the long and the short of it is that popular culture piqued my interest in D&D and I never did get around to actually playing it. The goal of this article is to explain how I finally did start playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Part of it starts with these dice.

7 red polyhedral dice

After all of my interest and never playing D&D I was ready to make it happen. I felt that getting these dice would force the issue for myself. But wait. Why am I now suddenly buying dice? Why am I now hot to get started? It’s actually hard to pin down. I know it had something to do with re-watching Freaks and Geeks. If you have missed this show you should check it out. The show takes place in 1980 and has a wonderful D&D episode titled “Discos and Dragons”. Freaks and Geeks is streaming on Netflix as of the writing of this article.

Freaks & Geeks play D&D

5 geeks waiting to play D&D

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising may also have had something to do with my new dedication  to getting started. It’s an entertaining movie about people playing Dungeons and Dragons that flits between the real world and the game world.

While Freaks and Geeks and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising did have something to do with my sudden urgency to role play as a dwarf or half-orc it was also that our family was playing more tabletop games than before. Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop increased our already keen interest in board games. Tarehna and I used to play Axis and Allies in college and then played Settlers of Catan and The Great Dalmuti with friends after college. We were finding games like Castle Panic and Pandemic and were spending more time playing more and more tabletop games. If anything, D&D was an extension of this activity and inevitable at this point.

But, how did I actually get started. Remember those dice? The ones pictured above? They were a promise to myself; a guarantee. They could not get me where I needed to be on their own. Nor could I, for the life of me, figure out how to get started past buying those dice. Friends to the rescue!

One friend sent me a PDF of the Player’s Handbook 4th edition. It was a good way to try to figure out what I was going to be doing. It seems so simple: get the handbook. That was how little I knew. I didn’t know that all I had to do was get the handbook to start. To an extent that is why sites promoting tabletop gaming are so important. They are guide books.

So, now I have the 4th edition PHB (Player’s Handbook) and I am researching how to play and it’s just not quite taking. There were two issues. The first issue was that I was having a lot of trouble navigating the PDF. The second issue was 4th edition. It wasn’t my thing. It felt too intricate or complicated. More friends to the rescue!

Quick side note and then back to our regularly scheduled programming. I met all of these friends helping me out as an adult. They had all played D&D when they were younger. These are the people I wish I had known when I was younger.

Back to the story! More friends to the rescue! Between two different friends I acquired, free of charge, the 3.5 versions of The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, and The Monster Manual. My two issues were solved. I had physical books and they weren’t 4th edition. Let me be clear. I am not bagging on 4th edition. I am simply stating that it was not for me. Physical books and 3.5 edition were just what I needed.

3.5 edition of PHB, DMG, and MM

To be continued…

Look at that! I can’t believe this is happening. If you check your rule books you’ll see it’s time to end this installment of “Brandon Rambles about D&D”. Up next: A short discussion of games actually played and some tantalizing RPG alternatives to Dungeons and Dragons. Thanks for joining us again and see you next time!

 

 

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A Rambling Post About Dungeons & Dragons Part 1

Brandon: Greetings, Player Characters and Dungeon Masters! If you are looking for a coherent post on the merits and mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) please look elsewhere. If, however, you are interested in my meandering musings on my personal history, or lack thereof, with D&D then please sit down and stay awhile.

Let’s just jump in, shall we?

I have two early memories of D&D. The first is the Dungeons & Dragons television program. The show aired from 1983 to 1985 according to sources on the interwebs. I don’t remember that. I don’t even remember that I was the age that I was. For the record, I was youngish. What I do remember is how it made me feel. To be clear, it made me feel amazing. I loved the concept: children thrown into another world and handed magical items and told it was up to them to save that world. I loved the character classes: Acrobat, Ranger, Cavalier, Magician, Thief, Barbarian. And who could forget Dungeon Master and Uni the baby unicorn. Venger was an impressive looking villain and then there was Tiamat. Multi-headed dragon!!

Magical!

I wanted to be the Ranger so bad. He had a super cool faux medieval outfit and an energy bow. No bow string. Just the bow and when you wanted you pulled back and an energy bowstring magically appeared and shot glowing energy arrows!

I could go on about my analysis of that show that I have done as an adult; the interpersonal issues of the group, the villains(Venger!), the way the group interacted with different groups of people, and that the show started dealing with some heavy stuff towards the end. All this in just 13 episodes. But, I want to stick to my memory as a child, and as a child I just thought this show was rad.

My second early memory is of buying a Warduke toy at Toys ‘R Us right around this time. The skull shield was incredible! I was staying with my dad for the Summer and my step brother at the time made a comment that was basically, “Wow, you’re into that devil stuff. You’re weird.” Now, to explain, I wasn’t “into D&D”. I like the show. I liked this toy. That was about it. I wish I still had that toy. But, Derek’s comment(his name was Derek) does lead us into my next interaction with D&D, which was nothing. Nothing. I liked the show. I liked my toy. I had some interest in playing and I have a vague memory of making what I thought was a character sheet, but then nothing.

Let me magically transport us all to my time in high school. Not the happiest time in my life. Not the worst, but a close second. I was not suddenly immersed in the world of D&D with similarly outcast friends. I was playing guitar in the jazz band at school and also playing in a heavy metal/progressive metal band in my spare time. Somewhere in there I saw the movie Mazes & Monsters.

The movie had actually come out before the D&D tv show, but I didn’t see it until, well, high school. I highly recommend seeing this movie. You must understand that it is based on a book that is largely hokum and that it came out at a time when there was a large D&D backlash based solely on fear of the unknown. “Oh no! People and children are playing a game where they pretend to be wizards. Witchcraft! Will no one save the children!” If I remember correctly this was also around the time of heavy metal deprogramming camps. Yes, those existed. People had their children abducted and sent to camps to get them to stop listening to that devil music.

I am getting off track. Remember though, I told you this would be meandering. Back to my point…the current point…?

There is a type of person who watches Scarface and says to them-self “That’s the life for me!” Without spoiling too much, the story does not go well for the main character in the end. It’s a cautionary tale of sorts. Mazes & Monsters is meant to be a cautionary tale as well. It did not make me afraid of Dungeons & Dragons at all. It made me want to play it. And so, I didn’t. Seriously. I still didn’t get into D&D. I kept playing guitar. I read books. I built a book case.

The aforementioned bookcase rescued from my mother’s garage and being cleaned up and restored.

Then in 1994 I was introduced to Magic The Gathering(MTG). This was a revelation. This was a whole world in a tiny little box. Those first boxes spoke to me. They were made to look like small spell books. There was lore and all of these familiar and unfamiliar monsters and creatures and people. Tarehna and I wound up playing a lot of MTG and had a suitcase full of cards. Then we stopped playing and we donated that suitcase full of cards. And still, I had never played D&D.

Oh my. Would you look at that? Look. Look up above. Do you see how much you have read so far. I haven’t actually even shared anything significant yet, but here you are at the end of it. Well, at the end of Part 1 at least. I didn’t know this was going to happen. Looks like there will be a Part 2. Thank you so much for reading my ramblings on not playing D&D. If you join us for Part 2 I guarantee that you will be able to read about how I finally got to play Dungeons & Dragons when I was no longer youngish, but, in fact, was oldish.

Stay tuned…

Part 2

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Dragonstrike Instruction Video (High Definition?)

A must watch for everyone!

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Gamestorm 19 Spectacular Spectacular

We were finally able to weed through the mountains and mountains of footage from Gamestorm 19 to bring you this tight 8 min video!!
Edit: Had to reupload as there were mobile audio issues on original uplaod.

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Thursday Thoughts: Eric Lang Tweet

Brandon: It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Thursday Thoughts segment. They were started back when we were Board Game Jungle. Recently a tweet from Eric Lang was shared in one of the board game groups I follow and I was completely perplexed by some of the reactions. I discuss the reactions and my thoughts in the video below…

Follow Eric Lang @eric_lang

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Box Inserts!

Wow! It has been awhile since we had a proper video. Three months in fact. Please enjoy Brandon’s look at some box inserts he likes.

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Tolarian Community College Needs Your Help

Tolarian Community College is an informative and entertaining YouTube channel based around Magic The Gathering. The channel is hosted by “The Professor” and he is an actual professor at an actual community college. He has had a big enough following that he was able to start a Patreon that covered the pay for his teaching one of his college classes so that he could focus some more time on the YouTube channel.

Unfortunately he was told that he won’t be teaching any classes this term and so will lose that income and possibly will lose his healthcare. There is an easy way to help The Professor out: contribute to his Patreon. He already turns out quality material. This may be an opportunity for him to create even more. If you are a fan of gaming in general or Magic The Gathering specifically you should definitely check out Tolarian Community College.


https://www.patreon.com/tolariancommunitycollege

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-hR5EfgpM6oHfiGDkxfMA

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Runeslinger and Inertia

Brandon here. If you have followed us for any amount of time you may know that I am a huge fan of Runeslinger (AKA Anthony Boyd). I love the way he talks about why people continue with the games they know and why some don’t in the video below. I also respect how he places no judgement on an individual’s choices, he simply states that there are reasons people have and that they work for those people. I may need to do a video riffing off this a bit. I feel there is a lot that can still be shared about time management and energy and effort from a personal perspective.

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