A solution for busy game masters
Once you, your family or your kids have been bitten by the fantasy role-playing bug, it’s a tough desire to constantly satisfy.
Your work and other tasks take up so much of your energy that it’s challenging to devote the mental effort required to plan out that next family or group Dungeons & Dragons adventure.
To remedy this, lots of folks turn to campaign settings and adventure books that can be purchased at local gaming retail stores. As satisyfing as those can be, they can diminish one of the most important positives from fantasy role-playing games for youth or really, any player – the creativity of these games!
Is there a way you can have both – ensuring your players (especially youth!) are using their creativity in building the adventure you’ll run while making it easy for you, the Game Master, to put it together in a short period of time?
You bet! It all revolves around the idea of using your players’ minds - rather than just yours - to develop this adventure.
To do that, ask your players a series of questions when they create their characters. Here are the questions:
1 _ Name your player-character’s biggest enemy, ensuring you provide a name, race and where this person or creatures resides.
2 _ Describe why this person or creature is your enemy and how they look and act.
3 _ Describe how others in your community view your enemy. Do they dislike him/her like you do? Or maybe not?
Take those answers from each of your players and do a random roll to identify which one of those enemies your adventure will revolve around.
Next, step two.
This requires you to head over to Inkwell Idea’s website and find a product of theirs called “Sidequest Decks.” These are exactly like a deck of cards except each of the cards has a map on the front and a series of adventure steps on the back. They are mini-adventures, really. And the PDFs of these decks can be incredibly cheap to purchase – many around $3! (Find them at store.inkwellideas.com/collections/sidequest-decks)
Remember to use the information you glean from your players’ enemies to insert into the Sidequest Decks’ maps. That way your players’ imaginations can drive the content of your adventure, not to mention make running such an adventure easy and quick for you.
Heroes B&B Note: Inkwell Ideas is a valued gaming industry friend of ours and has some terrific products for our fellow homebrewers. Check them out at store.inkwellideas.com
Holiday D&D Wish List
As we at Heroes B&B welcome the holidays in, we think it’s well worth pointing out a couple of Yuletide truths.
First off, we’re convinced the popular holiday song “Deck the Halls” was created by a D&Der. The proof? Well, to begin with, the words “troll” and “treasure” are used in the song. And for you naysayers who insist the song was created in 1862, more than 100 years earlier than D&D was, we’ll merely point out a century is really nothing in elf years.
Second Yuletide truth: It’s of immense importance we get your friends and family who don’t play D&D – we can call them “muggles” if you like – a holiday wish-list for you, the devout D&Der. And that’s exactly what we at Heroes B&B have done, crafted a list of great items from great companies.
Each of the companies mentioned in our 2022 Holiday D&D Wish List helped us raise more than $3,300 for charities in 2022, with most of that going to the Wounded Warrior Project, a national agency that aids our nation’s wounded veterans.
So without further fa la la’s, let’s get to that list ....
Cthulhu Dice Tower
* The gift: These dice towers have proven to be immensely popular at Heroes B&B charity events, constantly being player-favorites. The towers come in a number of colors but also can be painted rather easily. The company behind these – Giant Turtle Creations – is based in the Twin Cities and are constant supporters of Heroes B&B charity events.
* Unwrap it here:
Bloody Assassin Metal Dice Set
* The gift: If the name doesn’t hook you, then the red-splattered dice certainly should! Oh, and even the font – “stylized daggers” – will grab your attention. Warlocks and rogues will absolutely dig these – one of a number of eye-opening sets provided by our friends at Total Party Kill Games.
* Unwrap it here:
Dragon Guardian Dice Box Metallic Red
* The gift: This one will steal your (dragon) breath away … sorry, but you know we had to go there! These are really attention-grabbing dice holders that come with foam inside to hold 11 dice. Plus the dragons come in five different colors … but who wouldn’t want the red?! This offering is from our friends HYMGHO, which also offer a Christmas Tree Dice Set that is definitely worth checking out.
* Unwrap it here:
* The gift: The detail of the printed minis offered from a company called 526 Imaginarium is really notable. We at Heroes B&B did our own testing of these printed minis, having one painted and boy, the results were terrific! What’s great is 526 Imaginarium offers a number of minis that match D&D monsters but are set in different and unique poses.
* Unwrap it here:
* The gift: For D&Ders who enjoy our Heroes B&B adventures, they know we love to use the challenging monsters and creatures from Kobold Press. Although there are newer monster collection offerings than Creature Codex, this is one monster manual we at Heroes B&B keep going back to over and over again. Great resource tool for our fellow home-brewers!
* Unwrap it here:
* The gift: Gamezenter in Roseville is the Twin Cities’ premier gaming location, with private gaming rooms featuring eye-opening fantasy art. This is one of Heroes B&B’s favorite gaming locations. Check out the company’s membership for all types of in-store and online benefits.
* Unwrap it here:
A single-day or weekend-long D&D adventure
* The gift: You've got to save the best for last, which of course is where you'll use all the above items - in a unique D&D 5th Edition adventure by Heroes B&B that has been characterized as a 5-star experience by more than 100 gamers throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. We can't wait for you to unwrap this one!
* Unwrap it here:
There it is – the Heroes B&B 2022 Holiday D&D Wish List.
Now all you have to do is steathily move up to your friend or family member, nail that Sleight of Hand check to place the above in clear sight and cough loud enough to draw attention. That or start rapping "Fa la la la la la" until they can't take it anymore, all the while pointing to the list. (The latter has proven most effective for us.)
Happy holidays from your fellow gaming addicts at Heroes B&B!
You’ve all had these moments, right?
You know, when you get an incredibly “brilliant” idea and strangely enough, actually act upon it. Then, after you’ve spent way too much time and a few bucks on this “I can’t believe nobody has done this before!” idea, you look at the end result and say, “Is that it?”
Or maybe not. Maybe the idea was brilliant. Maybe you’ll see it, look at me and just start clapping.
Whichever it is, I simply had to pass the idea along.
All of this has to do with D&D flight stands, a device that you place a flying creature upon so it is positioned over a map or terrain. To be candid, I’m not a fan of the flight stands I’ve seen (and ordered) online. They’re either too bulky, meaning it’s a pain to move the flight stands in or around miniatures on a map. Or they’re too small, meaning large creatures or minis don’t fit on them.
So I was in a Dollar Store recently and saw a Solar Stake Light, which is designed to stick into the ground and give the front of your home or workplace lighting after dark. But what struck me about this device, which is about a foot high, was if you turned it upside down, with the solar part pointing down, it would make a perfect base for a flight stand. It was just heavy enough where a large mini couldn’t tip it over, plus it measures out on a D&D map to be a perfect 10 foot x 10 foot, ie, the size of a large miniature base.
The only thing it was missing was the top, where the miniature would rest on. So you guessed it, I started looking around the Dollar Store. Two or three aisles into my search that thought started creeping in, “Isn’t this strange that you’re spending this much time on creating a D&D flight stand ….”
But that’s when I saw it – a Paper Mache box that had a circular top!
I went home, got some Super Glue, spread it over an end of the solar spike, and then pressed the solar spike and circular top together and boom!, had myself a new D&D flight stand. Oh and then I later spray-painted the top black so it would look that much cooler.
The end result - a $2.50 D&D black flight stand that now just needs a super cool name, which of course is where my “brilliant” ideas ceased. So for now, we refer to it simply as “The Heroes B&B Black Flight Stand Thing-a-ma-jigger.”
P.S …. I’ve made three of them now and I can’t stop!!
There is no better education than personal experience, is there?
No way to understand something in its entirety unless you’ve walked the walk.
No way to express the highs and lows adequately without personally feeling those highs and lows.
We have a better understanding of that at Heroes B&B, especially in regard to the extreme significance of those who serve in our nation’s military.
This year, one of Heroes B&B’s staff members enlisted in the armed forces and began their basic military training. To our valued gaming groups and friends, this individual is a D&D game master who not only creates gripping encounters but full, weekend-long adventures.
To us at Heroes B&B, this individual is not only a game master but a son. Yep, our son Noah.
If you haven’t experienced military training as a parent – like we hadn’t until this year! – we can tell you it is an emotional rollercoaster largely played out in the dark. There is little communication between “the soldier” and yourselves – snippets of emotions expressed in letters written at the oddest of hours. Weekly calls measured in seconds and abrupt, repeated questions like “You only got one minute to eat?!”
We share all this because this new experience – positive but absolutely heart-tugging! – made us even more committed to repeat a Heroes B&B tradition we started last year – a fund-raising effort for our nation’s veterans. Last year we supported a veterans’ nonprofit organization, the Wounded Warriors Project, with a raffle that included specially created D&D miniatures and other Heroes B&B giveaways. This year, with our new, heartfelt military experience, we were going to do something bigger and better - an in-person Heroes B&B event called an “epic.” This is where you get dozens of D&D players together and have one, crazy adventure, raising funds for a charity (Wounded Warriors Project) in the process.
To accomplish this, we at Heroes B&B worked with a Twin Cities business to receive a grant to help fund this event, put down a deposit for a Twin Cities site to host the evening event, and then began acquiring items to raffle off at the epic.
And then Covid numbers began to surge again in Minnesota and we made the incredibly crummy decision to postpone the event to 2022.
But that doesn’t mean we’re giving up on our fund-raising! Heck, if we can live through the worries and what-if-this-happens scenarios regarding basic military training for our son, we can do this!
So with that in mind, here’s what we would like to propose to our Heroes B&B gaming groups and friends: an auction that will include one incredible D&D gaming adventure and giveaways for your group!
Here are the details that we hope YOU as Heroes B&B gamers will bid on:
* one, 8-hour adventure with Heroes B&B’s unique gaming set-up that includes multiple monitors and multiple GMs. This immersive gaming experience has been rated 5 stars by more than 50 D&D gamers throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. (Retail value: $440)
* Up to 7 black “Heroes B&B” T-shirts. These are new T-shirts that include a new Heroes B&B dragon logo on it – one awesome-looking dragon! (Retail value: $200)
* Up to 2 professionally painted player-character miniatures. These will be done by a Twin Cities professional painter after you provide us with your character details. (Retail value: $60)
That’s a total retail value of $700.
We will start the bidding of this D&D gaming experience with us at Heroes B&B at $300. Bidding begins on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) and then wraps up at noon Central on Saturday, Nov. 27. To bid, please go to www.32auctions.com/heroesquest
Please note all proceeds – beyond any travel expenses incurred by Heroes B&B – will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans and active duty service members.
We hope to have this special fund-raising, D&D day with the winning bidder sometime in January 2022.
We hope you’ll join us in making help this event – so profoundly important to us – all it can be.
With heartfelt thanks, your Heroes B&B GMs …
Hey fellow D&D friends! As you know, we at Heroes B&B have the pleasure of gaming with D&D groups throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. And as you might guess, these groups have their own homebrew campaigns and then reach out to us on a regular basis to experience a different level of D&D immersion. Our gaming set-up, which features multiple monitors and multiple GMs, allows us to get deeper into the fantasy realms that our adventurers experience.
One key aspect of that experience is digital encounter maps, which we show on one of the two monitors that are constantly in play during our events.
One question we’re often asked is where we get our digital maps from. The answer is two fantastic sources, each of which are available on patreon.com for you and all gamers at a reasonable monthly rate.
Our two digital map resources are:
* Dynamic Dungeons (https://www.patreon.com/dynamicdungeons): This is a comprehensive offering of a variety of environments, from forest, ocean and underdark scenes to more specific locales, like castles and graveyards. Highly recommended!;
* Animated Dungeon Maps (https://www.patreon.com/animatedmaps): Another site offering a variety of different environments, although smaller in number than Dynamic Dungeons. These maps provide more of an artistic feel vs. Dynamic, which more closely matches a real-life picture vs. these almost painting-like impressions. Animated does provide some unique offerings, including their series of maps that show structures on fire.
Do we have a preference for one digital map source over another? Not really. We enjoy providing both options and their growing libraries to our gamers.
To host these digital maps on your flat-screen TV or monitor, you’ll need two additional items:
* A thin plexiglass sheet that can be placed on your TV. The plexiglass will ensure your miniatures or dice don’t scratch the monitor. We’ve had these sheets cut to fit our monitors at local hardware stores. Don’t worry about making the plexiglass sheet thick – something fairly thin will work fine.
* We also purchase adhesive “dots” – a sticky, small round adhesive – that you can place on the corners of the plexiglass so this sheet doesn’t lie on the actual monitor itself. Again, you’ll find these at local hardware stores.
One warning to our GM friends who go this route: The detail in these digital encounter maps is quite extensive, meaning you’ll have to be prepared for your gamers’ likely enviromental questions, from the height of large boulders to the oft-asked “is this door locked?”
To which our response, said with a toothy smile, is “Do you try?”
how to create adventures for youth
Gaming friends: We’ve had a number of parents ask us for help in providing Dungeons & Dragons gaming fun for their young gamers.
That's partly why we created our Twin Cities-based Club Heroes, a program dedicated to gaming and teaching, with the latter focused on turning beginning D&D players (parents and youth!) into Game Masters.
But of course there are multiple ways to help parents provide (ie, create!) gaming fun. So let’s do that now!
Here's a guide on how to create an adventure, and you’re more than welcome to use this as either a game to play with your young gamers or take what we started and turn it into an even better story/adventure.
First off, a couple of quick tips in creating an adventure:
* Keep it simple. Your brain will want to expand, expand, expand but trust us, the more you narrow it down, the better it will be and the easier it will be to “run,” or lead as the game master;
* Make it magical. The more magic, the better. By the way, some new to D&D view “magic” as just nasty creatures that want to harm your player-characters. Hardly! In our book, magic is something un-natural that will delight and probably surprise. (OK yeah, sometimes it’s a bit hungry and wants to chew on some fingers … but you get the idea!)
* Give it a personality. This is where the magic happens – providing a person, creature or even an object with a personality is when the fun really starts! Examples to follow.
To start the adventure – especially if you’re not a creative person - go to Google, type “fantasy” into your search and then click on the images button. This will fire up your imagination as you see all these terrific visuals! We did this and came up with three photos (the ones you see here on the blog), which in essence serve as the content of our adventure.
Let’s call this adventure, “Magic Mushrooms.”
The first photo that grabbed our attention is a picture of a child walking on a snow-covered road with a reindeer. This will serve as the main storyline of the adventure. Remember keep it simple: The player(s) will be tasked to complete an assignment given to them by their king. They are to take a magical reindeer, who has wandered away from his home, back to its castle. (Maybe a guy with a white beard and a jolly demeanor lives there?)
But remember we have two other key elements to every piece of this adventure: magic and personality.
So the reindeer will be magical – he’ll be able to talk, to fly once a day and cast a few simple spells: fog cloud, mage hand, etc. Spells that can help the players out of tough situations.
And the reindeer will have a personality: We see him as an Eeyore with antlers. Gloomy. (“They’re not very good antlers but I’m kind of attached to them …”) Distrustful. Lazy.
Again keeping it simple, the adventure will be guiding the reindeer down this snowy road, back to its castle. Along the way a couple of fun things happen.
The first one relates to the second picture that grabbed our attention: some interesting looking mushrooms. Keeping things magical, we’ll say the mushrooms are indeed magical. If they are consumed – by the PCs or the reindeer – one of four conditions will occur: On a roll of 1 using a d4, the person turns into a baby form of itself; 2) On a roll of 2 using a d4, the person turns huge, double or even tripling its size; 3) On a roll of 3, the person or creature begins hovering over the ground, not really flying but not walking either; 4) on a roll of 4, the person or creature turns green, begins hopping around and has a sudden hunger for flies. All conditions last 1d4 hours. Use the reindeer to call attention to the mushrooms and probably consume at least one of them, all the while being distrustful of how they'll taste.
The second fun – and magical! – event happens later on the walk, perhaps even the next day. This relates to the third and final picture: a cute, orange kitten sitting next to a pond, with a reflection showing its true self.
Sometime during the walk down the road, the players will encounter this kitten, which will nuzzle up to the player-character(s) and then, the reindeer. Being his distrustful self, Eyeore the reindeer will demand the players leave the kitten behind.
We’re guessing you know what’s coming: The kitten – at that time a huge lion – ate magic mushrooms and turned into a kitten. At some point during the walk down the road with the players and Eyeore, the mushrooms wear off and poof!, you have a crazy situation. Hungry lion, scared reindeer that could try to fly away, and some seriously surprised players.
And a fun role-playing session!
Hope that helps, fellow parents. If you have other ideas to add to this adventure, leave them in the comments section for your fellow gamers. Thanks!
Gaming friends: Probably much like you, we’ve had our share of Covid fatigue and certainly, plain old disappointment.
But we’re gamers, which means we’re used to the ups and downs that comes from participating in a hobby that is partially governed by chance. You either find a creative way to pick yourself up from a roll of 1 on a save from an ancient dragon’s breath or …. Well, let’s not go there.
This has certainly been the case with one of the goals of Heroes B&B: fund-raising for charities. Make no mistake, Heroes B&B is a business and it has business-oriented goals. But we also have an annual goal of participating in and contributing to charities. We did so – quite proudly – twice last year, once with a terrific event called “Road to Adventure” with gamers in Green Bay and then again through a Duluth event. We even kicked off the beginning of 2020 with this charity goal in mind by having two large dragon miniatures – a bronze and a clockwork - painted and ready to go for another fund-raising event.
And then the world rolled a “1” on a virus save and well, you know the rest.
Sadly, we at Heroes B&B hit a “pause” on our charity goal when all this hit. But we have still our “reaction” for 2020 left and by the gods, goblins and ghouls, we’re going to use it!
It’s called “Fun 4 Funds” and this program aimed at raising funds for a charity will be held in November. While we’re still working out details, we know our “Fun 4 Funds” program will include:
* Heroes B&B will donate half of net proceeds from any games or events we hold in November to a charity. For those of you who aren’t “proficient” in business terminology, net proceeds means the amount left after expenses are paid;
* We’re still deciding on which charity group to provide these funds to. If you have ideas for us, please let us know! We’re also thinking about allowing the group who plays with us to pick a particular charity that they prefer. (Please comment below with your ideas);
* We’re thinking of somehow including the large painted dragon miniatures as part of this, potentially auctioning them off through our Facebook page. Still deciding on that ….
Why do we tell you all this now – even before the start of October? We know many of you plan your big D&D group events well in advance so we wanted to give you a heads up.
Even though 2020 has been far from what we had hoped, we – collectively as gamers - still have a chance to make it far, far better.
We hope you’ll join us in this charitable goal!
New content for simplified D&D
Thanks from the encouragement of our supporters, Heroes B&B continues to provide more content for its adaptive version of 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.
Our adaptive version keeps all the imagination and eliminates much of the confusion from the numerous rules and dice. (Please see an earlier blog on this page for a complete explanation of the simplified system.)
The new simplified content includes:
* new character options, including a female pixie, a female druid with a friendly snake, and Ogol the orc, who promises to be your courageous fighter, assuming there are no pixies around!
* new adventures, including The Bear King's Feast, which we debuted in the fall. This is a wild ride of experiences and encounters in anticipation of collecting enough hard-to-find ingredients to put on an annual Fey feast. Two more adventures are currently in development!
Have character or adventure ideas for us? Let us know as we continue to work on bringing fantasy to a broader spectrum of players!
D&D Chat: useful DM tools
Heroes B&B's complimentary weekly online discussion "D&D Chat" featured an in-depth look at a couple of DM tools that can be incredibly useful for your world-building. Ever get so busy with real life that you're not able to flush out the entire, upcoming adventure, say the names of your NPCs? Not to mention what they look like and act like? (Too many times, right?!) If so, you'll love Inkwell Ideas' sidequest and NPC decks. Both "handy" products - sorry couldn't resist! - not only will provide content for your D&D worlds, but also plenty of ideas for encounters.
Inkwell Ideas' Joe Wetzel and Andrew Shields, our special guests for this D&D Chat, provided more details on these DM tools, including a look at the company's Kickstarter on some new decks.
Inkwell Ideas also provided Heroes B&B followers a terrific gift for a limited time. You can download a sidequest deck for free by following these instructions: Click here https://store.inkwellideas.com/collections/encounter-decks/products/sidequest-decks-horror-fantasy and then use the code "heroesb&b" to get this great DM for free.
D&D Chat: lost spells recovered!
If you've ever played a wizard who through deed or just plain good luck finds a spellbook, well, life is good! It's like Christmas morning before the presents are unwrapped.
Excitement just pulses through you!
So you can imagine having the opportunity in real-life to play through the very same scenario - uncovering previously unknown spells. Yes please!
Which is why we at Heroes B&B asked Mark Hart, a developer and one of the authors of a series of Lost Spell volumes, to join us on our Thursday night D&D chat.
The volumes (pictured) provide both new spells and those brought back to life from previous editions. Each volume provides 20 new spells for us magic-addicted RPers to consume. (You can check out these volumes - all six! - at www.totalpartykill.games.)
Mark, a longtime D&D player and author from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, shared some fascinating insights about his work on recovering “lost spells” during our D&D Chat, including:
* Not all spells can be brought back to life due to the differences between editions. Mark sees the current 5th Edition as more specific at times for players and less arbritrary for the DM, which can make bringing back spells from early editions rather tricky;
* Earlier editions focused more intensely on specific magic schools, like necromancy, vs. the current 5th Edition. (So you magic-users fond of the undead should love these “new” lost spells!);
* The “why” behind this project. In other words, why, as a player or DM, should you even consider using “lost spells” vs. only those found in the official player’s handbook? The answer from Mark’s perspective – and we couldn’t agree more! – is intrigue! Consider from a player’s perspective that moment when you fail a save and thus start to feel the effects of that evil wizard’s spell. How much more compelling (actually frightening!) is it when you don’t know the spell and thus don’t know what’s it about to do to you? Talk about a knuckle-cracking moment!
Finally, during our D&D Chat, Mark also provided us a look at some of the specific “lost spells” in the series, including Repeat Strike – how crazy would it be to duplicate that very recent critical hit through the use of magic!? – and Stolen Breath, a Warlock spell that can lead to a drowning-like situation and makes Concentration spells incredibly dicey for magic users.
SPECIAL NOTE TO HEROES B&B FOLLOWERS: The publisher of the Lost Spells volumes, Total Party Kill Games, has provided Heroes B&B followers a special gift. You can get a free copy of “The Libram of Lost Spells, Volume 1” by going here: http://www.totalpartykill.games/shop-1. You’ll be able to find the volume in the D&D 5e section and after you add it to your cart, just use the “HeroesBB” code to get this volume for free. Special thanks to Total Party Kill Games for this boon!
Heroes B&B is supported by a number of Twin Cities-based role-playing addicts, including blogger Neil Pascale.