Talking to the creators of The God Shard Trilogy

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Next month’s Dungeon Crate kicks off an epic series of adventures.

Dubbed The God Shard Trilogy, the adventures will be available exclusively in Dungeon Crate™.

The trilogy was written by Floyd Cocklin and Kevin Coffey. It focuses on the god shards, pieces of a destroyed god that rained down upon the world of Halcyon and peppered its magic energy throughout the continent.

The first adventure, Descent Into Darkness, features multiple competing factions, magic items, and an abandoned fortress swarming with hobgoblins.

We spoke to the creators about the adventure, which you can get by subscribing to Dungeon Crate. 

Q: What inspired this epic adventure?

Floyd: There were a few reasons behind it. Up until now, our adventures have been kind of a grab bag of different themes and settings but were pretty light on Halcyon lore. There is always a story but given the goal of producing adventures that are easy for a game master to read quickly and run right away, there were limitations on how much of Halcyon we could include. There was also a pretty conscious effort to make them truly modular, so that GMs could drop them into any other fantasy setting they liked. It also tends to be the case that we alternate writers on different months, so one month's adventure could be pretty different from the previous one.

So, I decided to run the idea by Kevin to collaborate on a trilogy — some adventures that could show off some of the lore we developed and could be run in order, but also were possible to run as standalone adventures. So, a combination of more narrative but keeping the flexibility of our monthly adventures so they are easy to run right out of the box.

Q: What else can we expect from the adventure?

Kevin: As Floyd said, we’re fleshing out the world of Halcyon more and more. This adventure also features three factions, each with independent goals, that will seek help from the adventurers.

That gives the adventurers more than one goal and sometimes competing goals. What if one player is working for the Dead Hands and the other is working for the Golden Sunrise?

Q: What, exactly, is a God Shard?

Floyd: One of the major themes to Halcyon — evidenced even by its name — is its citizens yearning to return to a golden age that is long in its past. Several centuries ago, the archfiends from the netherworld below struck at the god of magic, Bhaelos, and flung him from the heavens. For 11 days, Bhaelos fell toward the earth, each day bringing some great doom to the world as the archfiends battled the other gods. On the 12th day, Bhaelos smashed into Halcyon and his body shattered.

The God Shards are the remnants of his body, magical essences that are highly sought after by forces of good and evil alike. A few factions in particular are interested in them and this series of adventures will get the adventurers embroiled in the middle of their struggle.

Kevin: And they’ll continue to be a big part of our world’s lore. Who found these shards? What are they doing with them? They could be discovered by goblin tribes who don’t realize what power they’ve unearthed. They could corrupt previously noble kings. They could be sought after by villains thirsty for power.

And there’s even a cult that seeks to reunite the shards and bring Bhaelos back from the dead.

Q: It's going to be a trilogy. What's the first adventure?

Floyd: The first adventure introduces a major conflict in Vargosa. The liegelord has been overthrown in a bloody coup by his nephew, Aurentius. This new overlord is hunting down dissidents and other threats to his power. The story begins with the adventurers helping someone that is being hunted by Lord Aurentius' henchmen. What seems to be a simple task of sneaking someone to safety starts to unravel bigger events that are in store for the region . . . and the real thrust behind Aurentius' motivations.

Q: And where does it go from there?

Floyd: If the party is successful, they will have made some new allies alongside some powerful enemies. Small clues in the first adventure will start to unwind into what's really going on, and the adventurers will have to navigate the machinations of a number of factions who are all after the same thing.

Hint: it involves God Shards and the legacy of an ancient emperor!

Kevin: And it really is a trilogy. Everything connects.

If you subscribe to Dungeon Crate™ and get the entire adventure, it will come together really nicely. That said, if you do miss a month, each adventure will stand on its own.

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Keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play games on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate™ podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.

How to use everything in November’s Dungeon Crate

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Oh man. Another packed crate.

But are you surprised? Every month, Dungeon Crate is full of wonderful items perfect to play on your game table tonight.

November’s box features a brand new adventure, A Hexing at Hawkswood, as well as a bunch of other stuff that you can use with and independent of the module.

Let’s crack it open, shall we?

Coins

How much do the people at Dungeon Crate care about you? Lots. When a shipment of coins was delayed, instead of leaving the box short, they pulled out their own collection of coins to make sure customers weren’t missing an item. Some people received new coins from Rare Elements, and others received the personal hoard of the Dungeon Crate team.

A Hexing at Hawkswood Adventure

A school of magic has been taken over by a horrible, no good, very bad crypto lich. A portal has been opened to The Deep, and the normally idyllic Hawkswood Academy has been overrun with deepwraiths and terrible fiends. The adventure takes a few nods from a certain popular novel series about a boy, his school of magic and the nefarious fiend seeking to take over the world. It also introduces some scary new monsters for your bestiary.

Hoardlings miniatures

These three, leathery-skinned demon-looking things can cause some havoc. And they can even be used to represent a few monsters in A Hexing at Hawkswood!

Dungeon Tile

The insert describing the contents of the crate? Flip it over. It’s a dungeon! And it fits with other tiles from this year’s crate. A whole map! How cool is that?

Stealth Dice Set

There are a few ways to use this dice set from Chessex: Assign the dark, speckled blue dice with white numbers to a particularly dark and stealthy character. Or you could give them to a wizard or sorcerer who prefers cold and ice magic. You could also just use them for any character because, well, they look really cool.

Dragonborn pin

Show your love for the dragon-like humanoid race of dragonborn with this badass pin. Pin it to your game bag! Pin it to your jacket! Pin it to your dice bag, which contains a set of dice color-coded to your dragonborn character’s breath weapon. (If you haven’t done that yet, get on it!)

Halcyon map

All of the adventures produced by Dungeon Crate take place in the fantastical realm of Halcyon. Now you can follow along with the adventures with this fold-out poster map of the entire world.

Scribe’s Adventure Log
This thing is sweet! This wet-erase log lets you keep track of all the loot and other items found when your party is out adventuring. Once everything is distributed among the group, wipe the thing clean so it’s fresh for the next adventure.

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Keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play games on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.



Tired of orcs? 8 new low-level encounters to spice up your campaign

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Early adventures almost always start the same way: Goblins/orcs/kobolds/hobgoblins are terrorizing something or other. It’s up to you to stop them.

But you’re tired of orcs.

We’re all tired of orcs.

How about something new?

A standard orc has a challenge rating of ½. That’s a pretty low-level monster, and a party of five level 1 characters can take on two orcs without much trouble.

Replacement monsters at the same level include darkmantles, hobgoblins, gnolls, lizardfolk, magmin, rust monsters, shadows, swarms of insects, vine blights and worgs.

But we can do better than that, right? Let’s find some replacements for those tired, boring orcs.

An owlbear: One of these big guys crashing through the forest could make for a lot of fun. Limiting its movement with trees and other obstacles is a way to make a tougher monster easier for a first or second-level party.

Another adventuring party: Another party is competing for the same goal. Set both parties against each other. For some added fun, have the opposing NPCs have the same party makeup as your own group. They should match up well.

Rabid bears: A bunch of bears have invaded the town, eating and biting everything in sight. Perhaps after the bears are dealt with, it’s discovered a green hag is controlling the wildlife to drive people out of town.

Spider Infestation: D&D has all kinds of spiders. Giant spiders. Phase spiders. Giant Wolf Spiders. Regular old spiders. What if they were all working together? It would be mass chaos and a helluva lot of fun.

Giant rats: The local tavern basement is infested with massive rats. They’re way too big for the tavernkeeper to deal with, so he’s hired adventurers. Maybe after they’re cleared out, they find a hidden entrance to a deep dungeon built beneath the tavern.

A wounded dragon: When a dragon attacked the town, the townsfolk fought it off. But it will soon return, and some mighty adventurers will be needed for protection. This lets you drop the hit points and attacks of the dragon enough for a lower-level party to handle the encounter.

Zombies: Everyone’s encountered a few random undead in a dungeon now and then. But what about an endless horde of zombies? Send them in wave after wave, causing the players to retreat further indoors as the undead break through windows and doors.

Sharks: There’s nothing quite as scary on a high sea adventure quite like what lurks beneath the surface. A school of sharks could threaten the boat, knocking into it to push unwitting adventures into the water. And maybe they discover a water wizard is behind it all.

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Keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook (Wayne does a live Coffee & Contemplation every Tuesday & Friday morning), Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play Roll20 on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.

 

How to choose the right miniature paint

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You cracked open your Dungeon Crate.

You found the miniatures.

But they’re missing paint. 

It’s time to fix that.

You can definitely play unpainted miniatures on the table. Or you could give them a quick base coat with a single color to make them stand out.

Or you could get serious: Get some tiny brushes and a bright lamp and get some paint on there. But what kind of paint should you use?

Seems like an easy question to answer, but the reality is that there are so many paints out there to choose from, and not all of them are what you want. (That’s doubly true if you’re a beginner.) 

Let’s have a look at your options. Then your attempts at painting all those minis from Dungeon Crate will turn into masterpieces.

Craft paints

This is the sort of thing you can get at any art store and even at Walmart. Craft paints are generally available in all kinds of bright colors. If this is all you have access to or all you can afford, that’s fine. You can do some good things with craft paints. That said, they aren’t the best option. They don’t come in too many shades, and they’re thick, obscuring the fine details of your miniatures.

Acrylic paints

Acrylic paints from an art supply store are your next best bet. Don’t get oil paints or watercolor. They won’t stick to your miniatures. You’ll have wasted your time and money.

Like craft paints, they’ll be kind of thick. You can thin them with a little water or some matte medium. (Also sold at the art store.)

Miniature Paints

You’ve seen those big, bright racks at your friendly local game store. Row upon row of tiny little dropper bottles and tiny pots, each containing a little bit of one specific color. They can be pricey, and there are loads of different brands and styles of paint.

But they are also the most effective to paint miniatures. They were designed to paint miniatures, and they’re already thin enough to work. Many of them work right out of the bottle with no primer.

But which brand do you want? And then what kind of paint do you want?

P3 - From Privateer Press (the company that produces Warmachine and Hordes), P3 has a pretty cool system built around specific colored paint schemes with highlight and lowlight colors.

Citadel - From Games Workshop (the company that produces Warhammer and 40K), Citadel is probably the most diverse line of miniature paints. Each pot comes from separate lines: bases, shades, layers and others that create pretty awesome effects.

Vallejo - Vallejo probably has more paint colors than any other line. The breadth of what’s available is amazing. If there’s a very specific shade you want, they have it. They even sell boxed sets designed around painting armies or flesh tones.

Army Painter - Like Vallejo, Army Painter has a variety of colors and boxed sets. They even have a D&D-branded set with commonly used fantasy colors.

Reaper - The company that produces those amazing miniatures? They have their own paints, too. One benefit: They’re designed to be used with the company’s white plastic Bones line, and they go on perfectly.

Types of Miniature Paint

Now that you’re getting miniature paints, you better get the right kind. There’s nothing like finding that perfect shade of red and then getting home and finding out you got a wash and not a base and it won’t work.

Primer

Meant to be applied to the miniature first, a primer bonds to the metal or resin and gives you a better painting surface. (FYI: Metal and resin minis benefit from a primer. Reaper Bones don’t need one.)

Base

Your mini often needs a solid-color base coat. These usually have a high amount of pigment and are meant to have good, solid coverage with a single coat.

Layer

A thin paint meant to be layered on top of a base coat. It’s got a lighter opacity, so you can see through it. Layer paints are often applied in several coats until you have just the right effect.

Shade/Wash

Very thin paints meant to flow into corners and crevices on your mini and give it a nice shadow.

Highlights

Mostly featured by P3, the highlight paints are meant to complement a specific base color. Say you want your wizard to have a blue cloak. You can use Cygnar Blue Base and then do highlights with Cygnar Blue Highlight. No mixing needed.

Dry

Dry brushing is when you get a small amount of paint on your brush (usually dabbing excess off on a paper towel or something first) and dragging your brush across the raised surfaces to give it a highlight. “Dry”-style paints are designed exactly for that.

Edge

Really bright highlights to give a cool “edged” effect to your minis.

Technical

These have very specific uses such as creating rust or blood effects.

Texture

Really thick, these have gritty stuff inside the paints, and they’re mainly used to give texture to your miniature’s base.

Airbrush

Super-thin paints with tiny pigments, these are designed to be run through an airbrush. If you get them for your regular paintbrush, they won’t work quite right.

Spray

Some companies put their colors in spray cans, which make for a quick and easy way to prime or basecoat your minis.

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Keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play games on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.