Monday, August 31, 2009

Party Mascots Part 1

I’m not talking about the “companion characters,” which will come out when the DMG 2 is released for Worldwide D&D Game Day on Saturday, Sep. 19, 2009. Nor am I speaking about the Mage’s familiar or the Ranger’s (Beastmaster) beast companion, while either of those certainly could be the party’s mascot.

Quote from the upcoming DMG 2:
A paladin rescues an imprisoned knight who swears to follow her as a faithful companion for a year and a day. A shaman tends to the wounds of a young black bear, and the friendly animal follows the shaman on his quest. A wizard takes on an apprentice, a youthful elf eager to learn the ways of magic and use them to battle evil.


I am talking about a “pet” the whole party can benefit from... The Party Mascot. The mascot does not always follow the party off on their adventures. But it could indeed grant certain benefits for hanging around. Think back to the Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980's; it seemed that almost everyone had a “party mascot” of some fashion. Does “Uni” ring a bell from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, or perhaps “Slimer” from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series that ran from 1986 to 1991? Slimer was such a fan favorite that he later starred in his own Slimer! cartoons when The Real Ghostbusters was extended to a one-hour format.

Here is a list of possible Party Mascots:

• Adult Faerie Dragon Flitterwing (Draconomicon, page 195)
• Guard Drake (Monster Manual, page 90)
• Kruthik Young (Monster Manual, page 170)
• Iron Defender (Monster Manual, page 156)
• Phantom Warrior “Ghost” (Monster Manual, page 116)
• Blood Hawk (Monster Manual 2, page 142)
• Stonefist Defender (Monster Manual 2, page 143)
• Ankheg Broodling (Monster Manual 2, page 11)
• Crawling Gauntlet (Open Grave, page 142)
• Rust Monster (Monster Manual 2, page 178)

In Party Mascots Part 2, I will cover the possible benefits that each monster could offer as a Party Mascot, along with using Companion Slot Items from Adventurer’s Vault with Mascots.

If you have used something like this in your game previously, or you plan to use this in an upcoming game, we would love to hear all about it. Please leave us a comment and tell us about it! Until next time, have fun and keep the dice rolling!

The Daily DM is Officially a Week Old Today!

The Daily DM is officially a week old today! I thought that I would start this week off with two posts. First, just a quick rant to say thank you to all of The Daily DM readers, and second, an article on Party Mascots.

Here is an outline of the topics that I plan to touch on a little this week (in no particular order).

Party Mascots Part 1
Party Mascots Part 2
Review on the Assassin Class
Rules for Drunken D&D that Rule!
Player handouts and props
Rituals in your game, Part 2

One of the players in the weekly D&D game that I DM is playing an Assassin from the highly anticipated Player’s Handbook 3 that is coming out next year. So far it’s been very interesting, to say the least.

In the up-coming months I will look into offering a weekly or bi-weekly Podcast covering a large range of 4e D&D topics. If there is a topic that you would like for The Daily DM to cover, feel free to send an email to

And for those of you who wish to subscribe to The Daily DM, we are still working on fixing the RSS feed. For those of you who don’t know, we have had a lot of technical issues getting the RSS feed to work, but hopefully we will get that taken care this week. Thanks again for your support. Until next time, have fun and keep the dice rolling!

DM Ace Byrd

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Poor Man’s Counter.

There are a lot of third party companies that market conditional counters such as Blinded, Dazed, Deafened, etc... and some that offer marks. I’m honestly not happy as a DM with any of these third party company’s ideas for counters. I believe that I heard a rumor about WoTC publishing some sort of counters for marks and condition. But until that day comes, I offer you the “poor man’s” counter, which I have had a lot of success with. Two-liter soda bottle caps.

Using the blue cap to designate which vampire spawn is the Ranger’s Hunter’s Quarry, the red cap to designate the Paladin’s Divine Challenge, and the green cap to show which vampire spawn the fighter has chosen for his mark with Combat Challenge.

D&D Marks

Pepsi products work the best; the coca-cola cap prove to be a smidge taller and less cooperative.

If you have used something like this in your game previously, or you plan to use this in an upcoming game, we would love to hear all about it. Please leave us a comment and tell us all about it! Until next time, have fun and keep the dice rolling!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Great-Grandpa Used a +1 Sword... and He was a “Famous” Adventurer?

One of the players in the weekly Saturday morning D&D game that I DM brought up an interesting topic that I would like to cover.

Dave asked about magic items. He has always been disappointed with magic items that start out so valuable (i.e. “This +1 sword has been in my family for generations...) and later become disposable (i.e. “I’m going to drop my +1 sword for this +2 sword that we just found of some random orc chieftain).

My first suggestion is not to make weapons, armor, etc. story items; that is, don’t make anything you know you are going to dispose of a family heirloom or anything else related to your background or the plot of the campaign. Rather, I suggest, if you want to have a family heirloom, perhaps make it an amulet or old map. Where I can see it tempting to make a +1 longsword a family heirloom because so-and-so’s father was a great adventurer, if he was really that great, wouldn’t the weapon be more like a +5 vorpol longsword? If he was so great, why was he carrying around a +1 sword? Do you know any epic characters with +1 swords?

Let’s take the old map as an example:

An old map - “My Grandfather found this treasure map when he was an adventurer. He passed it down to my father, who was unsuccessful in finding the treasure. On his death bed, he passed the map down to me. I swore to him that I would be the one to find this lost treasure.”

Here is a list of other items that might make more sense:

• Random Key
• Pages from an outdated Arcane Tome
• Patched Together Map
• Lock of Nymphs Hair
• Amulet or Locket
• Holy Symbol
• Surcoat
• Lucky Coin
• Mysterious Bottle with Explicit Instructions to Always Protect and Never Open
• Childhood Toy

The list is as endless as are the possibilities. Just let your imagination guide you... I left the list above vague just for that. If you have used something like this in your game previously, or you plan to use this in an upcoming game, we would live to hear all about it. Please leave us a comment and tell us all about it! Until next time, have fun and keep the dice rolling!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Goblin who went... Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Having a hard time challenging those know-it-all players who flip through the Monster Manual and know most the monsters’ stat blocks by heart? Then surprise them with something new, something like a Goblin Bomb or Dire Cockroach. Worst yet, Goblin Bombs riding Dire Cockroaches! That should make their heads turn, especially when the Goblin Bomb blows up, taking the Dire Cockroach with him, covering the area with slimy goblin- and bug-guts... not to mention the damage it will cause.

As you enter the room, you see many wide-mouthed grins as a lowly-goblin steps forth holding a lit torch with explosives strapped to its back, and says ‘Our master has be expecting you!’

Goblin bombs, unlike all other Goblins, don’t flee a fight. They charge toward the closest enemy, which is hopefully close to another Goblin Bomb, to try to achieve a much bigger “bang”. It is the Goblin Bomb’s job to die, and to take as many others that he can with him.

    • Level 1 Minion
    • Goblin Bomb
    • Small natural humanoid (goblin)
    • XP 25
    • Initiative 5
    • Senses Perception +1; Low-Light Vision
    • HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion.
    • AC 15; Fortitude 12, Reflex 14, Will 12
    • Speed 6
    • Igniting Change (standard; at-will) • Fire
    • At the start of its turn the Goblin Bomb, ignites the large fuse on the explosives strapped to its back, and moves its full speed toward the closes enemy. Which will then detonate at the start of its next turn unless triggered otherwise.

      +5 vs. Reflex; 1d8 fire damage (Chain Reaction: If here is another Goblin Bomb in an adjacent square when Igniting Charge is used, it too may use its Igniting Charge as a Free Action.)
    • Align. Evil
    • Lang. Common, Goblin
    • Skills Stealth +6, Thievery +6
    • Str 13 (+1)
    • Dex 18 (+4)
    • Wis 12 (+1)
    • Con 13 (+1)
    • Int 8 (--1)
    • Cha 8 (--1)
    • Equipment Leather Armor, Torch
    • Created with's DM Tools

    • Level 2 Skirmisher
    • Dire Cockroach
    • Large natural beast (mount)
    • XP 125
    • Initiative +4
    • Senses Perception +7; darkvision
    • HP 27; Bloodied 13
    • AC 16; Fortitude 15, Reflex 14, Will 11
    • Speed 8
    • Bite (standard; at-will)
    • +6 vs. AC; 1d4 damage
    • Trampling Scutter (standard; at-will)
    • The Dire Cockroach can move up to its speed and enter an enemies' space. This movement provokes opportunity attacks, and the Dire Cockroach must end its move in an unoccupied space. When it enters an enemy's space, the Dire Cockroach makes a trample attack: +4 vs. Reflex; 1d4 + 2 damage, and the target is knocked prone.
    • Align. Unaligned
    • Lang. -
    • Skills
    • Str 14 (+3)
    • Dex 17 (+4)
    • Wis 10 (+1)
    • Con 13 (+2)
    • Int 5 (--2)
    • Cha 4 (--2)
    • Equipment ---
    • Created with's DM Tools

We would love to hear all about the crazy monster that you’ve ran in your game? Or if you plan on throwing some Dire Cockroaches at your players in the near future. So please leave us a comment!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Power Gaming 101

Power gamer, we all know the term, maybe even been called one before.  Your party is low on HP and healing surges, and you know that the powerful Vampire Lord is in the next room with his minion spawns, and before your group even has a chance to make a battle or exit plan you hear the shattering of wood as the party’s power gaming fighter splinters the door and rushes in!  

It’s alright to let the power gamer(s) at the table do their thing as long as their gaming motivations don’t cross the metagaming boundaries.  Lets not mistake the two...  Just because someone power games does not make them a metagamer.  And there are a lot of DMs out there that make such an easy mistake and try to restrict the fun-loving power gamer.

So there you have it in black and white, power gaming is not the same as metagaming!

A Power Gamer by definition in the DMG...

 •    Optimizes character attributes for combat performance.
 •    Pores over supplements for better character options.
 •    Spends less time on story and roleplaying elements.
 •    Prefers combat to other kinds of encounters.

If you have a group of power gamers, then I would strongly recommend tailoring the game to their needs.  Mind you, this is only if more than half the players at the table are power gamers.  Now, I’m not saying by any means to ignore the non-power gamers motives, I’m just suggesting that you focus a little more on the hack-and-slash aspect of the game.  A straightforward, action-oriented style of play that focuses on fighting monsters and finding treasure.  This is also referred to as “kick in the door” style of play.

Plain and simple, power gaming is fun!  And fun is what the game is about right?  We would like to hear about the power gamer(s) in your group and some of the interesting things that they have done or got the party into.  So please leave us a comment!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who is your character, really?

There are currently 35 races and 20 classes (not counting Hybrids) in the WoTC Dungeons and Dragons Character Builder.  However, we all know there is more to your character than just race and class.

I myself, have recently played a Dwarven Fighter, and my wife has played an Eladrin Wizard and a Shadar-kai Sorcerer.  Axy, my Dwarven Fighter, is daring and a bit reckless; he always wants to prove himself as a great warrior, and enjoys carving small things out of wood, which he often gives away to friends or romantic interests.  Aeariel Darcmajic, my wife's Eladrin Wizard was "from the fey wild" (can you tell this was her first time playing?).  Her second attempt was Indigo Shadowstorm, the 130 -year-old Shadar-kai Sorcerer, who killed her own mother and acquired a dragonling familiar; she was cunning and devious.  As a matter of fact, Indigo used Axy as a tool to keep the townspeople from running away from her (after all, Shadar-kai aren't exactly friendly-looking).

The Daily DM would absolutely love for you to tell us about your character; I am eager to see what others have come up with.  What are his/her motivations and goals?  Where is he/she from?  What are their great areas of strength, or better yet, their weaknesses?  Why did you pick this race and class?  Is there a major part of you in your character?  Do they love birds as much as you do?  Or perhaps sing quietly (and badly) to themselves in Dwarven?  Do you like to sit around and get drunk in the tavern, looking for a new adventurer, and maybe drink a little more than you could handle in the process?  Do you play as your character, or talk about your character?  Does your character speak in the third person about themselves?  (Jim does this...)  Does your character have any love interests or best friends?  Maybe family that adventures with them, or that they need to protect from their enemies (like Spider-Man and Aunt May?).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rituals in your game, Part 1

Rituals! Every class can use them and yet none do!

In this post I would like to cover the ritual Tenser’s Floating Disk, on page 312 of the Player’s Handbook.

Oh, this? It follows me everywhere, like a porter that never needs to rest.

Oh but it can be so, so much more! Can’t it?

Hover Board: That’s right you remember them from Back to the Future... Also remember wanting one as a kid? Then Tenser’s Floating Disk is the ritual for you! Because your character is just too cool to walk on his own two legs; and with a duration of 24 hours you could cast it each new day, and never have to walk again!

What is your input on the use of rituals in your game? How often do they see use? What rituals do you use?  How do you make them interesting and fun and new? We would like to hear all about it. So please leave us a comment!

Welcome to the Daily DM!

Hello, and welcome to the Daily DM. I have decided to start this blog to give new DMs an edge to their game. In the weeks to follow, I will be updating this blog daily, hence the name. I would like to start this first post off by telling you a little bit about myself and the hobby that we all have come to love, that’s right D&D!

I’m Ace Byrd and I first starting playing D&D back in 2nd edition. Roleplaying wasn’t a new concept to me because I had been playing White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade, but D&D was. Dungeons & Dragon brought something more with it then any other game that I had played before it, it brought something magical. In an instant I fell in love with RPGs all over again. I shelved my Vampire books (never to see the light of day again) and donned my +1 chain armor and vorpal longsword and set off into the unknown, which is exactly where I wish to guild new gamers, both players and DMs alike. Into the unknown deeps of D&D! Have a question, or is there a rule that you don’t quite understand? Well you’ve ventured into the right place!