The Fall of Astia – Session 1 Recap

This past Sunday was the first day back in the DM saddle in over a year.  I started a new 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign, except that I had the characters begin at 6th level.  My last campaign ended at 6th level, when we started playing Shadowrun with my Co-DM, so when we jumped back to D&D and I chose to start a new campaign, I didnt’ want the players to suffer.  They could choose to keep the same characters from the last campaign (and I would provide sufficient backstory as to how they arrived at this point) or they could create new PC’s at 6th level.  I think only one of my players decided to keep his old character and the rest chose new.  One of our fellow authors here at 3-Sided Die, Ness, chose to go with a favorite character of his from another campaign, a drow elf rogue / assassin.

I started off the campaign with the PC’s traveling on a decent sized boat to an island called Astia. They have been recruited by the empire as ad-hoc mercenaries; the empire is paying extremely well, however they are being secretive about their work and why they are requesting such costly resources.  The PC’s are traveling to a land yet to be fully explored (in fact, it’s hardly explored at all) and so the players will have more than enough opportunity to discover ancient ruins, forgotten dungeons and the depths of the Underdark.  The journey isn’t a long one, but they always prove to be treacherous.

This was approximately the size of the ship that the PC's boarded.

This was approximately the size of the ship that the PC’s boarded.

Here are the players that made it to the first session:

  • Vola (Female Half-Orc Battlemaster Fighter)
  • Khaleen (Male High Elf Eldritch Knight)
  • Nar (Male Drow Rogue Assassin)
  • Ari (Male Wood Elf Hunter Ranger)

Here are some players who should be joining in the near future:

  • Thri-kreen (class yet to be determined)
  • Male Half-Elf Cleric

The session started out with the PC’s starting to board the Sea Scourge, and Vola, with a successful Perception check, noticed that the boat was sitting much lower in the water than most ships she’s seen working at the docks.

Besides the crew, the recruiting officer, Scarlett and an old Dwarven Cleric, Angus, who was there to bless the voyage, were the only additional people boarding the ship with the PC’s. The PC’s were greeted by the Captain and his first mate, Edgar, and were quickly shown to their room.

The large boat at the bottom was the one the PC's boarded.

The large boat at the bottom was the one the PC’s boarded.  Also the ship graveyard mentioned below.

Immediately after getting settled in their sparse and meager accommodations, Vola preceded to head down to the hold and check it out. Nar, not wanting to deal with the bright sunlight wrought day up on deck, went to the galley and was disappointed that no one was serving him. Vola saw that the boat was heavily burdened (crates and barrels stacked to the brim) and that there were 3 crates that weighed upwards of 600 pounds each, as far as they could tell. Ari and Khaleen, stayed up on deck and spoke with Captain Duncan and Scarlett.

Scarlett then called the PC’s together for a briefing on what was to come. Here were the major points the PC’s found out:

  • Ruby, a notorious pirate and Scarlett’s baby sister, was tracked through a portal, into and to the land of Astia.
  • It seems Ruby had found and been coming through this portal for just shy of 10 years and has amassed herself quite the empire of her own on Astia.
  • The PC’s home world, the portal only opens every 3 months, but the Astia side of the portal remains open, and allows purchase back to the PC’s home world at any time.
  • There is a strange current that runs through the ocean on the Astia side, which is exceptionally strong.
  • The port town that the empire is trying to entrench themselves in, is called Black Hollow, mostly populated by humans, much to Nar’s dismay.
  • Many of the recruits that Scarlett has brought, have been killed by either Ruby’s men, though in many cases, they’ve found strange circular holes scattered throughout the few places they’ve explored on the island or have found the recruits tangled in the neighboring plant-life.
  • Astia seems to be heavily vegetated in plants/trees similar to that of jungle or thick forest.
  • While the apprehension of Ruby is important, the true purpose of the mission can only be given by the commanding officer, back in Black Hollow.

Not long after Scarlett’s long winded monologue, Khaleen and Vola heard a faint sploosh sound from the side of the boat. Edgar, the first mate and just coming out of the lower deck, motioned to the PC’s and when they turned around, it seemed like the entire ship was enveloped in a thick fog, not allowing them to see more than 10 ft. off the side of the boat.

Suddenly they were attacked by the Sahugin and a Shark-man creature. The Sahugin brandished tridents and jagged fish bone spears and swords, that were decorated with pieces of coral and shell. The shark creature held a large bone punching dagger and the Sahugin Priestess held a staff with a large sapphire on top, pulsing with an eerie blue light.

  • Scarlett was caught in a lingering hold person spell, with ghostly manacles binding her hands and wrists, that came for the Sahugin Priestess’s glowing staff.
  • Nar traded insults and blows with the Shark-man and even evaded the shark-man attempting to pull him into the sea, after chomping down and locking its jaw on his shoulder.
  • Vola, used her flame tongue axe to ignite her hammer and quickly dispatched the Sahugin soldiers and aid in the fight against the Shark-man.
  • Ari was pumping arrows into the shark creature, as well as the other 3 Sahugin, pivoting left and right like an arrow machine.
  • Khaleen traded magic for magic with the Sahugin Priestess, eventually dropping her, who fell lifeless off the edge of the boat, floating away. Luckily its staff fell on the boat, which held a sapphire the priestess used as her arcane focus.

Once the battle was over, with a little investigation, a fish bone scroll case was found inside the cavity of the staff. Nar was able to open it, and he found a scroll and some coins. He then told everyone about the scroll he found, as he attempted to pocket the coins. Vola, who’s worked very hard to get to where she was, was furious that Nar would just pocket the coins that should be given to the group as a whole. Noticing his handiwork, she grabbed his wrist and threatened to make him fish food. The insults flew back and forth, but Khaleen managed to get the group back under control.

Captain started evasive maneuvers, in case more Sahugin were on the way. The fog continued, so the party decided to investigate it further, after Vola climbed up to the top of the crow’s nest and saw that the fog originated and surrounded only their boat…the rest of the sea was perfectly clear.

After checking out the crew’s quarters in stealth, they moved onto the lowest level, the hold.  An ever-smoking bottle was found pushed into a port hole in the back of the hold, which could only be found through a serpentine path through crates and boxes.

When the PC’s brought the ever-smoking bottle up to the top deck, to find out who created this sabotage, Edgar, the first mate, looked increasingly more nervous and anxious.  This amplified with Nar stalking up to him, and seeing no other way out, attempted to take a dagger to the throat of Scarlett to use as leverage.  Unfortunately for him, he fumbled the roll and his dagger fell into the depths of the sea below, after bouncing off the deck’s edge. Scarlett, wasting no time, snapped his neck and sent him tumbling after his dagger into the sea depths.

With the ever-smoking bottle removed and capped, the Captain, who could now see that more Sahugin were riding the current, now that the fog was gone, was able to maneuver into the current as well, using the wind, current and expert crew to his advantage and outrun the Sahugin.

(By removing he ever-smoking bottle and giving the Captain this advantage, they successfully mitigated an ADDITIONAL encounter that was supposed to occur)

Sadly, not too long after that, a 4 armed Sahugin Baron, riding a giant dragon turtle surfaced only to mock them, then descended into the sea,which quickly followed by a loud crunch that took out their rudder and steering.

The commotion and chaos distracted the PC’s and the crew enough that a perception check was called for, to notice that the land of Astia was MUCH closer than anticipated and a crash was imminent. This was solidified when the Baron signaled his dragon turtle steed to hurl itself out of the water and then splash down behind their ship, sending a tidal wave of force in their direction. Coupled with the current, high winds and tidal wave, the PC’s were moving at breakneck speeds. As they closed in on the land, they noticed that the current was leading the ship into a veritable ship graveyard, where other ships lay broken and battered on the rocks ahead.

They all decided that jumping ship was the best option, however, Khaleen ended up taking the worse of it, and ended up with a fractured knee, after slamming into a rock.  His critical fail on his Dex saving throw was unfortunate.

Once everyone found purchase on the many ships and were taking a breather, the dwarf, who seemed to have slept through most of the ruckus, was arguing with the Captain.  Seems the captain was attempting to drag some more coin out of the empire, but the dwarf would have none of it.  Angus “convinced” the Captain that his remaining crew would be carrying whatever cargo they could muster from the wrecked ship and that they would do so with a smile. The PC’s were charged with finding the 3 lost crates that contained extremely important cargo, which had broken free of the ship and headed into a cave, and down a waterfall, deep into the Underdark below.

The waterfall is to the left, with the moderately flowing river, headed east.

The waterfall is to the left, with the moderately flowing river, headed east.  The goblin cave sits to the south where many more are hiding.

Nar, standing atop a ledge next to the waterfall, closed his eyes, breathing in the Underdark air…taking in the familiar and always unfamiliar surroundings. For such a long time, he’d been stuck on the surface; trying to find a way back to his home…this was as good of a start as he could hope for. A switch born only of survival, clicked, and when he opened his eyes again, the hunter emerged and instinct kicked in.

The party headed down into the cave, down a 30 ft. waterfall, to where the crates had escaped. A long flowing river twisted and turned, running about 150 feet long through the cavern. While Scarlett kept watch and Angus healed the crew from the damages from the crash, the PC’s scouted ahead, to ensure the path was safe.  They noticed that there were numerous barrels of food stuff, tables and beds, flotsam from the broken ship, all flowing down the river, getting stuck at various points on the sides, though some of the items made it further down the river.

The PC’s noticed something strange happening with their Darkvision. Nar, trying to use his Underdark knowledge and Ari, using his keen survival instincts still couldn’t come up with anything that would cause such an effect to happen. After some additional investigating, it seems the larger mushrooms in the cave (not the smaller ones), produced spores that interrupted and blocked line of sight for Darkvision.

The PC’s also saw lots of chasms on the left and on the right, they saw that there were pools in the cavern floor that actually ran pretty deep, as if the river had carved and spread out under the cavern floor itself.

Ari, using his expert wood elf senses, immediately picked up some small tracks, littered throughout the area. He noticed that the tracks seemed to be deeper behind places of cover and were farther apart in between, as if these creatures were racing from cover to cover, avoiding the attention and grasp of something. Slowly sneaking forward, they found a rudimentary wall that was built, with a triangle point that jutted out over the river. A pail and ladle was found lying on the ground nearby. They also saw in the tracks that something that looked invariably like a large heavy crate, had been dragged to the cave behind them. They decided they would cross that bridge later, as Vola and Nar also found an actual bridge, so they could get to the other side of the river to grab the 1st crate.

That is when hell broke loose:

What was deemed or seen as a large stalagmite turned out to be a well fed (lots and lots of goblins) and large Roper. Its singular eye opened, its maw dripping with anticipation of new food, it lashed out its tentacles, pulling all 4 of our heroes quickly into its grasp.

The tentacles of the roper proved to be extremely problematic, causing disadvantage on all attacks, and while a couple blows were landed before those tentacles sank in, it quickly seemed like a slow death was imminent. Nar kept fumbling with his crossbow, his bolts continuously dropping on the cave floor. Vola was the first to experience the crushing bite of the Roper, taking serious damage that cracked ribs and bones galore. Nar kept trying to sever the tentacles that grasped him and Khaleen, but just couldn’t get all the way through.   Plus, he knew they were regenerating and that it was only a momentary benefit.

Then, Ari, with his quick thinking, used his magical bag of tricks, luckily bringing out a large panther to their aid, effectively flanking the roper and removing the huge disadvantage to the group. Blows were finally able to land, Khaleen expertly used a spell that didn’t require additional attack rolls, as the rocky skin of the roper made it hard to hit, even when advantage was on their side. Vola’s flaming swords came to life and left burn marks all over the Ropers body. Bolts and arrows peppered the Roper, one arrow just missing its singular eye. Firebolts were thrown from Khaleen, adding even more scorch marks to the roper’s hide. The Roper, seeing the turn in tides, began to panic. Knowing it was surrounded and with its incredibly slow movement, this was a do or die situation. It began throwing the PC’s at stalagmites and into some of the surrounding chasms.

Ari was thrown hard, and started sliding down into the chasm, when he deftly hopped out, only to grasp at the scree and rubble on the edge of the chasm, holding on by sheer strength only. It didn’t last long though, as the pain from the tentacles and the crushing blow into the stalagmite, was just too much. His strength gave and he dropped down 30 ft. to crash into the chasm below. Khaleen, with a similar fate, was thrown into a stalactite, crumbling at its base, though barely holding on. Vola, being chewed on, in the Roper’s mouth, went limp and her body, slid to the floor, covered in a mix of blood and saliva. The Roper’s strength being pushed in all directions waned and when it tried to slam Nar into the ground, it was meek, though it did set off nearby mushrooms spores, causing Nar to inhale them and severely hampering his Darkvision.

Luckily, the party just prevailed as the panther cut the roper down a little more and a finishing blow from a witchfire blast from Khaleen, set the monstrous Roper finally to bed.

The party, broken and hurt, immediately headed back to camp with crate #1, though it didn’t escape their notice to see 9 sets of yellow eyes looking at them through the wall. The party took a short rest and coupled with the healing magic of Angus, the Dwarven cleric, were able to push on, but were by no means at full health.

It was also noticed down here, as the party headed toward the back of the cave, that they could see a couple of those holes that Scarlett was talking about, in varying sizes. Nar has never seen anything like this before in the Underdark.

So, the PC’s decided to get crate #2 from the goblins, while Vola went off and secured crate #3, which seemed to be stuck in the water, farther down the river.

A long goblin was keeping an eye on Ari and Khaleen, as they kept an eye on Vola while he was headed down to crate #3.

So, Khaleen, Ari and Nar set up an ambush. Nar crept up behind the goblin, utilizing his cloak of elvenkind, giving him a huge advantage, and put the dagger up against its throat. Scared beyond believe, thinking that the wall had just attacked him, he had problems remembering his own name, when Ari started questioning him.

Ari, spent a good 5 minutes (real time), speaking to the goblin and the goblin boss, working out a deal that if they killed the Roper (which they already had), and if they didn’t kill the goblins, they could have their crate back. I kept it to a minimum on the charisma (persuade) skill rolling, as Ari acted it out so well, rolls were only required at a key moment or two, when the goblin knew the boss wouldn’t approve of him embellishing on information secret to their clan. Plus, when Nar finally revealed himself, the goblin fell almost limp on the blade, succumbing to what was eventually going to happen when dealing with a dark elf.

The goblins, having been tortured and scared by the roper for so long, have had their numbers severely reduced, dwindling with each and every day. The only reason they kept up, is because goblins breed like rabbits. From what Ari gathered, they were large in number, but were clearly tired of fighting and losing, and just wanted to finally be at peace. If one crate could possibly give them a chance at peace, then this was an easy decision for them.

The final crate, needed to be retrieved in the river.

The final crate, needed to be retrieved in the river.  Missing tiles were chasms, though the one near the waterfall was just needed somewhere else.

The game, just about coming to a close, had a STUPENDOUS cliff hanger ending, thanks to Vola.

Vola, finding the 3rd and final crate, which seemed to be wedged in or stuck on something in the water, jumped in, in an effort to tie a rope around the crate and secure it from moving any further down the river. Unfortunately for Vola, what was really keeping the crate in place, was a gelatinous cube, who just happened to be in the river, feeding off all the fish washed down the river from that strong current of the ocean. It most likely just sits here for long periods of time, constantly being fed. Many fish bones can be seen by Vola inside the gelatinous cube, including a goblin skeleton or two, and the crate itself. Vola however, at the start of the next game, will be engulfed by the gelatinous cube and suffocating.

Overall, it was a REALLY fun game.  The players really used the 3D terrain and props to strategically determine their next moves in all aspects I’d expect, but I was especially surprised with the newer player, Ari, who has played maybe once or twice before, really step into his role-playing and the strategy involved.  All the veteran players stepped up and took the role-playing by the reins, which was great to see, considering only one of my players (Nar), is the one who easily slips into his characters skin.  The group was fully immersed in the campaign, the story and the combat, which is all a DM can ask for.  I’m lucky enough to have a group that is respectful, interested, consistent and most of all are there to have fun.  It makes being a DM really easy.

I hope you enjoyed my first session’s recap.  I’d love to hear your feedback and any suggestions or ideas you may have for the campaign or for the players.

Thanks for reading!


About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.

Creating A Sequel To A Game You Didn’t Make In The First Place


(Image taken from the Bioshock 2 Download Section of their website:

Sequels are a part of gaming, for better or worse. Usually for the better, but sadly not always. As development companies struggle to meet deadlines set up but publishers or from fan expectations it’s hard to meet those without feeling the need to fill the time. This time can usually be filled with DLC but not always or the original game creators have moved on to s new project and have no interest in rehashing the same ideas again. This is when the publishers have to turn to another studio to develop a sequel. Today I want to take a look at how this doesn’t always produce the best games. Granted these games as standalone games are very good, even great but they are constantly held in the shadow of the original. I am going to focus on four games in particular that I own, have player, and pretty much enjoyed but still see the flaws in each in as they try to follow in their original’s footsteps.

(Warning I will probable spoiler all of these games and even the past games, you have been warned.)

Bioshock 2

Lowdown: Ten years have passed since Jack left Rapture and the city is no better for his leaving. Sofia Lamb, a psychologist, has taken control of Rapture after the deaths of Andrew Ryan and Atlas. She intends on getting the city back on its feet (or fins) she sends Big Sisters (Little Sisters not saved by Jack or Dr. Tenenbaum) to kidnap girls from around the Atlantic to make new Little Sisters. Dr. Tenenbaum and Eleanor Lamb, Sofia’s daughter) resurrect Subject Delta, the first Big Daddy to be pair bonded with a Little Sister, to stop Lamb from achieving her goal.

Game it follows: Bioshock

Original development team: Irrational Games (2K Boston at the time of Bioshock)

Developer: 2K Marin

Pros: Following in the shoes of the original Bioshock is not an easy task, but the story for Bioshock 2 is really good, it takes to task the extreme opposite opinion of Andrew Ryan’s. The view of looking out for the group to the point of the exclusion of the self is held under the same light as Ryan’s objectivist beliefs. The concept of playing a Big Daddy was an interesting one. Especially with the gathering points with the Little Sisters added to the tension. Additionally, seeing some of Rapture’s poor and less desirable neighborhoods was also a good idea as a way to separate it from the original.

Problems: As a stand alone game Bioshock 2 is really good, the DLC Minerva’s Garden is one of, if not the best DLC I’ve ever played, the only problem is that is has to follow the original Bioshock. The original was a very lightning in the bottle type of game that mix story with really fun gameplay and such a hook of the original games was the city of Rapture itself, learning about it and delving deep into its lord. So how do you follow that? You can’t reintroduce the city. So that part already had a tough hill to climb. The next is Sofia Lamb, she’s a good character but never really gives the commanding Andrew Ryan feel and tone, nor does she give you the friend/foe feel of Atlas/Fontaine. I mentioned it as a bonus, the guard the Little Sisters, and it can be but it can also be a pain in the butts. I Always saved before a gathering, because I knew what to expect. In game it was fine but the game also released a DLC for it called The Protector Trials, which was all protecting Little Sisters. I played but never finished because it’s nice in small doses but aggravating when presented too much. The game always felt like it was trying to justify its existence, part of that was so much press asking, why do we even need a sequel?

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Lowdown: Taking place between Borderland 1 and 2 The Pre-Sequel is set on Pandora’s moon called Elpis and the floating Hyperion space base Helios you play one of four new Vault Hunters (all NPCs from Borderlands previous games) and you are contacted by Jack, a Hyperion programmer and the main antagonist Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2, with a distress call to help him save Helios from The Lost Legion, a faction of Dahl’s former army. They have taken over Helios to use its powerful Eye weapon to open a Vault on Helios. You have to stop them.

Game it follows: Borderlands 2

Original development team: Gearbox

Developer: 2K Australia

Pros: The Pre-Sequel smartly follows in the footsteps of the original and doesn’t waver from it. The new characters are fun and very different, making the game’s replayability very high. The new locations can be fun and the levels are huge. The new oxygen booster allows double jumping which allows access to new locations and more exploration ability. I can’t talk Borderlands without mentioning guns, guns and lots of guns. This game adds new types and new types of elemental damage. The story is paced well and the well known characters are used to great effect without feeling forced and new characters a fun and interesting. Again, as a stand alone game The Pre-Sequel is a good time.

Problems: The Pre-Sequel suffers a bit from being a too much like Borderlands 2, it almost feels like a large DLC rather than it’s own game. The introduction of lasers is cool but didn’t add as much change up as I had hoped they would and the new elemental ice damage (with freezing enemies) meant I had to carry another type of weapon around and as never as useful as the salad weapons from Borderlands 2. The idea of having the game on the moon with its adjusted gravity was a fun way to mix it up and change up traversal but the lack of oxygen really caused problems for my gameplay.  I’m a guy who loves exploring the world given to me, but having a lack of such a necessity really hindered my desire to move to far off the beaten path. Worrying about looking for air pockets or where a building was to jump into if I needed to refill my tanks was annoying and distracting. Given how Borderlands fights go I never wanted to be too far from a building or a vehicle so I did have to worry about running out of air in the middle of a fire fight. Speaking of firefights I have noticed one really annoying thing about this game compare to the original, whenever I’m downed and in a Fight For Your Life moment all the enemies run off or behind cover. This may have happened in the original games but not to the point where I noticed. Psychos, the crazy melee enemies that can’t wait to cut into you suddenly run off whenever I’m downed and have to hope Jinx is there to help me up. Also I want to mention quick Jack himself, he’s awesome in Borderlands 2, because I don’t have him in my ear every few minutes but extending that over a whole game began to wear on me and I found this game story in the end to be Jack’s rise to power, which I really didn’t need the backstory for. I was hoping for more of a story not so heavily relying on the other games to support it. One more quick thing, the DLC characters of Jack’s double and Hammerlock’s sister? Really? I kind of understand but if all your other characters are NPCs from the original games, why not pull from there, I don’t mean Tiny Tina here, but other characters would have, to me, been more appealing.

Batman Arkham Origins

Lowdown: True to its name Arkham Origins is a prequel to Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It takes place 2 to 3 years into Batman’s career as the Dark Knight, so most of his gear and items used or seen in later games aren’t developed yet, from r example the Batmobile. It’s Christmas Eve in Gotham City and crime lord Black Mask has put a million dollar bounty on Batman’s head and 8 of DCs top assassins are out to collect it. Aside from the main story there are a of side missions to accomplish, like breaking up Penguin’s arms deals or stopping a terrorist named Anarchy from blowing up the city. Plus did I mention the first meeting of Batman and Joker? Merry Christmas Batman.

Game it follows: Batman Arkham City

Original development team: Rocksteady Studios

Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal & Splash Damage

Pros: Origins actually has a lot going for it, in design, gameplay, and story. The much loved fighting engine from earlier games is still rock solid and still a lot of fun. Bouncing from enemy to enemy, countering, vicious attacks, and take downs are all still present and as visceral as ever. Using the Batwing to fast travel through the city made navigation of the open world quicker and easier. The first meeting with many characters from Batman’s world, like Jim Gordon, joker, Barbara Gordon (later Batgirl and Oracle) as well as Harleen Quinzel (Harley Quinn) were a good way to give the whole world feel to players of the earlier games and a little background for people who never read the comics. There are also a ton of Easter eggs and comic references for the comic book fans, I found Crime Alley myself by running into the movies theater playing Zorro. Gotham City is as cold, dark, and grimy as ever and the holiday decorations are well contrasted to the city’s dark atmosphere, like a Art Deco gothic Christmas. It strangely feels right for a Batman game.

Cons: As I’ve said of earlier games on this list Arkham Origins is by no means a bad game but it can’t hold up against its predecessors. If this games problems can be summed up in one work it would be: safety. It’s an incredibly safe game. It took everything that worked in the previous games and altered it, augmented it and re skinned it but never stepped beyond those games, feeling the safety in their shadow. On every level the game stayed well behind this line, it gets close at times, but never quite stepping over it. The city itself was mostly lifted from Arkham City, just with a holiday theme as opposed to a prison theme, I’ve even seen the huge prison walls. This of course isn’t surprising since it is the same city with a new theme, instead of a prison theme it’s a holiday one. The meat of the game though is the fighting, which is also lifted from earlier version as well, with one exception, the Death Stroke fight is difficult but very rewarding. Sadly he rest fall in line with previous version, the Firefly fight was very reminiscent of the Poison Ivy fight from Arkham Asylum and the Dead Shot fight was pretty much the Two Face fight from Arkham City. The Bane fight was pretty much the Bane fight from City and the Monster Joker from Asylum so there you go. The street level fights were also similar but all three games have been similar that way so I can’t knock the game for going with what works.another troubling point the game has is struggling out of the weight of the Joker, it can’t. He appears for the third time as the main villain, granted this was their first meeting but still with a rogues gallery like Batman’s to use him again feels like a wasted opportunity. That being said Troy Baker did a fantastic job as Mark Hamill’s Joker but from the selection of great Batman’s villains the safest choice would be Joke and the games suffers from the need to have him. Finally the side missions stayed on the safe side by never verring to far from the older games with the Riddler’s trophies still the standard hunt and find, as well as the Anarchy missions feeling like a reskinned Zazz missions from City. Again never bad in concept, but after finishing this trek I feel this is the safest Gotham has been in quiet a while.

I want to quickly express that I really do enjoy these games, I own all of them and have played and finished them. My real intention in this post is to point out how game creation can be a tricky thing and just because a game does well and plays great it does not mean that the follow up game will be infallible, especially if the original developers are not the creators of the new version. Also these are by no means the only games there are lot more. I just choose a few to point out the pros and cons. Games like Fallout: New Vegas, Halo 4, and Gears of War: Judgement all could have made this list for a few reasons and there are other as well. Some games I’m sure you can name some yourself.

In fact do that, I always like to end with a question so here it is, have you played a game you can see that would fit on the list of good but not as good as the original? Let me know. I hope you enjoyed the post and now I’m just looking forward to follow ups of some games I love, Batman Arkham Knight and Fallout 4, which I hope are even better than the originals. Keep hope alive.

About Ness

As a chaotic good nerd I try to be as well rounded as possible, from video games, comics, tabletop RPGs, anime, and cartoons I try to fit it all in. Although I enjoy all of it, video games have always dominated the majority of my time and attention. My plan for here is not to write previews or reviews but to talk about how I relate to the games I play. Hopefully we can all play along.

The Importance, As a Player, in Writing Post-Game Session Recaps

During the series of Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaigns I played with fellow authors Jinx, Ness, and our other friends, one of the most valuable tasks we were asked to do was write our own post-game session recaps. For the Upheaval campaign (which we’ve written about several times on 3-Sided Die), we were asked by Jinx, our Dungeon Master, to write these recaps in the voice of our characters. I can’t stress enough how important these were to the richness of our campaign.

Medieval Scribe

“Medieval Scribe,” accessed at “The Middle Ages Online” website, hosted by Louisiana State University

First and foremost, doing the recaps helps everyone remember what happened. While the DM builds the story, its locations, and its inhabitants, it can be a hefty challenge for them to recall all the actions and deviations that occurred in each game. Also, our group only got the chance to meet in person every six to eight weeks, so having a record of what happened in the last session gave us more time to play the active encounter instead of slogging through the “when we last left our heroes” prologue.

Second, it gave us a creative outlet to deepen and express the personalities, beliefs, and motivations of our characters. I was able to take the decisions I made in each session and flesh out how those actions either validated my character’s convictions or questioned them. Putting those feelings in writing gave Jinx new insight into how our characters were seeing and experiencing the world and allowed him to craft changes to the campaign. We could see the changes we made to the world as a result of what we chose to do in each session, rather than having to stick to the rails of a more inflexible campaign.

Third, it gave our group a unique way to work together in character. Everyone has that moment at the start of a campaign where the group simply assumes that their characters either all know each other or have zero concerns or inhibitions about working together for a goal that probably wouldn’t matter to each of them in the same way in a real situation. What ended up happening with the Upheaval campaign was almost a fan fiction: one of us would write the first recap, and then another member would talk about their character’s perspective of the same events. These stories threaded together a neat “side story” that we wouldn’t normally think of while slogging through combat. Also, our particular group didn’t have super-strong role-playing or story-telling talents, so having the time after each game to think about what transpired and plotting out the motivations behind them worked really well to keep the story alive.

Lastly, the recaps helped with world-building. Further into our campaign, our write-ups began to include memories or thoughts the characters had about their past or others they encountered during the session. Perhaps it was a place one of us had visited earlier in our adventuring lives, or, in the case of Lu, my deva swordmage, one of her past lives. As with character motivations, this gave Jinx more food for thought as he created our next objectives and challenges.

For Upheaval, Jinx awarded us bonuses and benefits for supplying the write-ups. He chose a “party points” method, where the recaps, especially ones that deftly explored a character’s thoughts and decisions, added points to a pool that we could all share. These points could be used to either re-roll a skill check or attack, convince a non-player character, or give the entire party a initiative or healing bonus. The more points we accrued with our recaps, the more heroic actions we could take in the next session.

I had a great deal of fun writing about Lu and how she saw the world, and would enjoy doing so again for any future campaigns in which I played.

About brightmatrix

brightmatrix is a long-time casual gamer. His gaming journey has included Magic: the Gathering, the first, second, and fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and the first wave White Wolf games from the late 90s. If you are a denizen of the Twitterverse, you can read his posts on Magic, web development, puns, and other shenanigans at @brightmatrix.

Tabletop World – New Terrain Model is Out!

Hello fellow gamers!

I just wanted to let you know about a new terrain model piece that just came out from Tabletop World.  For those of you that haven’t heard of Tabletop World, they are a company dedicated to making highly detailed terrain for tabletop games and they’ve just announced their newest piece.  Check it out below….the Stone Bridge!

Tabletop World Stone Bridge

While these pieces come unpainted and with some very minor assembly, they are some of the most beautiful terrain you’ll find around.  The detail is exquisite and they provide a feeling to your game that is unmatched.  Here are a couple of other pieces they have available;  for instance, the mansion:


and this town-home…


As you can see, these pieces look like they are right out of a real medieval town and it shows.  To achieve this amazing look, they actually build each piece, stone by stone, to get the most realistic and natural look of a stone wall.  If you’re a Dungeon Master and are looking to level up your game, this is a great place to start.  Just make sure you have some serious disposable income, as the pieces are expensive, but are well worth the final product.

You can also find them on Facebook, here.



About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.

Role Playing Rulebooks at GREAT prices

It can be a hard choice when deciding whether to purchase your RPG fare at a local gaming store or the largest internet retailer in the US like Amazon; however at times like this, it really pays to go with Amazon.  Amazon always has pretty good deals, but currently, their prices for some of the hottest RPGs are at ridiculously low prices.

For instance, the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons core books, modules, dungeon master screens and starter kits, which you can find right here.  The core books are at a whopping 50% off the cover price (coming in just under $24).  The modules and DM screens are hovering around 28 – 33% off and the starter kit is almost 40% off.

This image belongs to Wizards of the Coast at

This image belongs to Wizards of the Coast at


Some of my fondest memories come from 26 years of playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Never a bad choice!

For those of you ever interested in playing Pathfinder, which as some refer to as Dungeons & Dragons Version 3.75, the core rulebook is also seeing a great price, with 40% off the core rulebook!  That’s nothing to sneeze at and can be found here.  This book has almost 600 full color pages and is a great system.  One of my favorite characters comes from this RPG.  A lawful/good necromancer who believes that raising the dead are not a means of servitude, but a way for their legacy to live on.  He only raises the dead from marked grave (so he can properly document their achievements), tends to them, provides armor and weapons for them (polished and looking as regal as he can) and cares for them as one would children.  (He is a lot of fun to play)

Image belongs to

Image belongs to


For those of you that like more modern day / futuristic RPGs, the Shadowrun 5th Edition RPG is coming in at around 28% off the hardcover price, which you can find here.  Shadowrun is also a full color book, coming in at around 475 pages and I can tell you from experience, this game is A LOT of fun to play.  Highly versatile and customizable, it makes for some really great diversity in a group.  I have three characters that I switch in and out of, including a Troll Tank (who turned 5 guards into chunky salsa with a well placed grenade using a human as a shield), an elven decker (with a penchant for being a total dbag and putting viruses and back doors into paydata) and a Human Infiltration Specialist (Russian spy who is an expert in called shots).

Image belongs to Catalyst game Labs,


If you were ever thinking about jumping into a new RPG or just RPGs in general, now is a REALLY good time.



About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.

Otherworlds – Kickstarter Launch Special!


Back in March, I posted an article about the up and coming new RPG, Otherworlds and had the pleasure of interviewing Vincent Baker, its creator.  The article can be found here.  We delved into some of the game’s inspiration, design and even detailed a brief adventure’s highlights.  Now, Otherworlds is taking it to the next level, as their Kickstarter is launching today, May 1st!  We at 3-Sided Die are very excited and hope you’ll join us in spreading the word for a TRPG like never seen before…OTHERWORLDS!

Check out the Otherworlds kickstarter HERE:

Now a word from Vincent Baker himself:

Otherworlds Kickstarter Launch Special – with Vincent Baker

Hey! The name is Vincent and I’m the creator of Otherworlds the limitless tabletop RPG. My Kickstarter for Otherworlds has launched May 1st and I’m happy you’re checking out this exclusive article that I wrote for the readers of 3-Sided Die.

Back in the day

Ever since I can remember my father had me playing Final Fantasy and Pokémon. I’ve really been hooked to games ever since. Being able to get lost in a fantasy world where your wildest imaginations could come true just fascinated me as a thought and as children we all have that spark in us. I find it’s important to maintain that and keep our imagination alive.

When I was about eleven I started playing Otherworlds or what we called, “The Mission Game.” This was my friends, cousin, sister and I, getting together, accomplishing missions and receiving rewards and loot as we progress through the adventures I had created.


Fast Forward

In high school when I was 16, I wanted Otherworlds to go public so I hosted a website and put together a text-based RPG for Otherworlds. On the site players could choose any race they wanted, make their characters and backstories, and it lead to some really interesting and fun times. However College was around the corner and I realized the community had hit a steep barrier that halted its progression. Text-based roleplaying games are just complicated to the average person, especially trying to learn one over a computer screen.

Level Up!

I had an idea, why not take Otherworlds to the tabletops? D&D is a great game and I definitely didn’t want to compete against it or the other top dogs in the industry without some serious defining features. So with some thought I realized that the very make up of Otherworlds is vastly different than the other games in the industry. Otherworlds has a unique take on science fantasy with many unique worlds you can adventure and explore in.

Most other games don’t have this type of reach, they are stuck being a medieval fantasy, space opera or horror, whereas Otherworlds could be any combination of the three and more. On the flip side of that, some games try to stretch so far into fitting as any genre that it loses its own identity.

Everything in Otherworlds feels like it’s in its own identity and that’s a strong purpose I wanted to emphasize.


Flavor, stories and themes isn’t the only defining factor you need to make a distinct game. People expect the game to be played differently as well, but to feel familiar enough so they feel comfortable playing it. With this in mind, I took the design of Otherworlds from a different vantage point. I made the game with the same design principles I learned while studying Magic: The Gathering. I built Otherworlds so that the simplicity wouldn’t sacrifice depth. You can have both and strength in both of those aspects was a key focus for Otherworlds.


Friends Forever!

Of course I wouldn’t be anywhere where I am now without the support of my friends. I’ve met many people through the course of hosting Otherworlds events, all of which I now consider a friend of mine and it’s even how my girlfriend and I got together!


In honor of my friends that’s helped me so much; I’d like to briefly mention them below as I could never thank them enough for the amount of help they’ve given me.

Trey Falco, John “Ajax” Fredrickson, Joshua Avenall, Zack Allen and Tyler “Talon” Burdette have all helped me with play testing, ideas, mechanics and the sort when it’s comes to Otherworlds. Trey and Ajax have been there for me since 2010, so they are part of the “OG Otherworlds” friends that I have.

Others that have really helped (but not limited to) Tiffany Allen, Joey Avenall, Dannelle Duemmel, Jacob Henderson, Taylor Higgins, Tanner Lackey, Sean Kirven, Jon David Manning, Anthony “Shredder” Maggard, Patrick McGill, Andrew Rushton, Alex Smith, Bo Smith, Timothie Spearman, Steven Sykes, Audrey Ross Burke, Trey Falco, Aimme Gray, Tony Scott, Ted Thomas, Britnie Waddelow, Aisu Kouta and all of my family!

In Closing

Although this article is coming to a close, I will say that this is a new beginning for Otherworlds. So a huge thanks to you, 3-Sided Die and everyone else that’s accompanied me on this long and thrilling journey. I hope that in moving forward you continue to bless me with your unyielding support. If you wish to keep up with me and my antics follow me and my game at the following links.


Personal Twitter: @TheVindicated

Otherworlds Twitter: @OtherworldsRPG

Otherworlds Facebook:

Otherworlds Instagram:

Otherworlds Reddit:

Otherworlds Pinterest:

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.

4 Ways to Avoid Becoming the LEGO Movie Dad

I don’t want to be like the Lego Movie guy. You know the guy I’m talking about, the dad. Will Ferrell’s character.

Will Ferrell Lego MovieFictional characters are memorable when they’re built on a grain of truth. I think one of the reasons the end of the Lego Movie is compelling is because we all know someone just like that guy. [spoiler alert] We all know a dad who won’t let his kids play with his toys. A dad who has taken his hobby to a place where it’s not just a hobby anymore, it’s an obsession.

Is obsession too strong a word? Maybe, but hear me out.

Building up a Wall

When someone obsesses over something they entertain a relentless impulse in their minds. One thought, idea, or desire loops the racetrack in their brains over and over, preoccupying them, perhaps changing their behavior. The obsessive idea that loops in my mind sometimes: I want to keep all of my games in perfect condition and perfectly organized.

I love games. I think I could play CCG’s and tabletop games all day long for weeks and not get bored. I have a shelf full of them at home, plus the overflow box in the basement storage room, plus the microgames in my cubical for lunchtime battles with co-workers, plus the Magic decks in my computer bag, plus, plus, plus . . . you get the picture.

But if I’m honest with myself, the industry surrounding tabletop games and CCG’s breeds an obsessive tendency for perfection and order of which I’m susceptible. If I’m not careful, I could easily be pushed toward becoming that Lego Movie dad.

All of the sleeves, deckboxes, card boxes, cases, trade binders, 9-pocket pages, expansion sets, foil cards, and special edition re-releases cost a lot of money. All of them are also linked to each other in design and story continuity. And all of them give gamer dads an escape from the real world of raising small children: sticky tables from spilled food, grubby fingertips, dripping noses, and little hands still learning not to crush or drop everything you put in them.dragonsegg storage bag

It’s easy to see how any dad who has spent his fun money on the latest Dice Masters expansion and a few packs of Magic (or Yu-Gi-Oh! or Legend of the Five Rings or whatever) can get a little obsessive about keeping “at least something clean in this house,” or about keeping “at least my stuff in order.”

Here’s the problem: as soon as “dad’s games” become “dad’s games” we’ve built a wall between us and our kids. We’ve taught our kids that it’s okay not to share, that daddy has some toys you can’t play with, and that it’s perfectly fine for him to treat these brightly colored cards and figures and dice like precious treasures even as he shoos you away from them.

How to Avoid Becoming the Lego Movie Dad

By the time my son was three and a half he wasn’t really taking naps through the afternoon anymore. He became hip to the fact that while he usually slept his afternoon away, I was out in the living room with his mom, or some friends, or other family members playing board games and card games. He wanted in. He desperately wanted in. After giving it some thought, here’s what I’ve done. Maybe these ideas will work for you too:

  1. Find games your child can grasp, and play those a lot.
    My son is five years old now. For the last year we’ve been playing a lot of games. Some of them are the standard kid games: Uno, Go Fish, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land. But others are games I’ve introduced him to: Forbidden Island, the Harry Potter Trading Card Game, and Ticket to Ride.
  2. Make up easy rules for the games which are too complicated for your child.
    With both Forbidden Island and Ticket to Ride I altered the rules so my son and I could play. For him, it’s all about handling all the pieces, spending time with me, and just enjoying the bold colors of the trains and cards. So, I made the games simple. I still stuck to the basic premise, but I removed a lot of the rules. I’ve tried to make it so that on his turn he can choose between one of two options. I’m sure there is research out there by a child psychologist about how many concepts a child of four or five can process in a game. I don’t know where that research is. I just know that for my child, limiting the choices on his turn to one of two, or at most three, has proven to be enough. After teaching him basic, truncated rules to a few games my son and I started playing two and three games a day. As a result he feels included and gets to play with “daddy’s toys.”
  3. Always, always, always embrace the story elements of the game and be willing to ignore competition or strategy.
    Little kids just want to play, they don’t necessarily want to win. I once taught my elementary aged nephews how to play Pirate’s Cove. Those two or three games were some of the most exciting games of Pirate’s Cove I’ve ever played. My nephews adopted pirate accents, acted like they were stabbing each other, and absolutely rejoiced in every little bit of gold they could get their hands on. They didn’t even want to bury their treasure (which is how you win the game) because they wanted to keep pretending to be rich pirates! They also didn’t want to fight each other in a sea battle too often because they didn’t want to damage their ships! It was hysterical. It was story and character driven. It didn’t matter that they could have won more games by playing strategically. It was just plain fun.Pirate's cove
  4. Keep the expensive cards and the complicated games put away until your child is sleeping.
    Do I let my nephews get their hands on my Magic: the Gathering Cube? No. Those cards are expensive and I’ve spent years building that thing. Do I bring out Pandemic with my five year old and risk losing all those little cubes by letting him play with a game that is way too difficult for him to grasp? No. That would be pointless. But I also keep these games put away until after he’s tucked in bed. There are lots of things parents do, watch, or use after their children are in bed. This is perfectly appropriate. But what makes the Lego Movie dad different is that he left all his Legos out in the open for his son to see but not touch. This is where the problem began for him.

Two Miscellaneous Ideas

  1. If you play CCG’s, set aside a box of un-sleeved cards for teaching little kids to play. Choose duplicates and commons that aren’t worth anything to you and that aren’t being used in decks. Pick cards that are free of overly violent and sexual images. Make this box the family’s collection of Magic cards (or whatever your game of choice is) and play with it a bunch. You’ll have fun bringing your child into your hobby, and your child will have fun spending time with their dad. (After all, how many copies of Amphin Cutthroat do you really need?)
  2. Keep the games that your kids aren’t ready for out of sight. Use that plastic storage container in your basement for housing your most expensive CCG decks and games too complex or too violent for little minds. Out of their sights is out of their minds, and that means less of a wall between you and your kids.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become the dad in the Lego Movie. I love games, always have, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I want to look forward to a lifetime of games with my boy. That lifetime can begin right now. I’d rather have him crease and crinkle Harry Potter cards and lose a random piece of Blokus than have him think that games are a part of my life that he can’t touch – a hobby that he can’t participate in.


Do you have kids? Or do your friends or siblings have kids? How have you involved them in your games?

Battlebards – The Center of EPIC Tabletop Audio in Gaming

Battlebards - Title

We at 3-sided-die had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple of the guys from Battlebards and discuss their Tabletop Audio campaign, which we think you are ALL going to love.  They are currently hosting a kickstarter and I implore you to check it out.  You WON’T be disappointed.  So let’s get started…

Jinx:  Why don’t you guys tell me all about Battlebards…who you are, how you came together and what you’re all about.

BB (Battlebards):  Alright, let’s dive right on in!  Battlebards is gearing up to be the center of audio in gaming, with a MASSIVE library of gaming music, sound effects, soundscapes, monsterscapes, fantasy languages, and NPC voice-overs.  It’s not just about quantity, quality is paramount.  Each track or pack of SFX takes about 50 hours of work to make sure we’re offering pieces with a ton of detail and specific for use in games.  Audio is half of the formula, without the tools to bring that audio closer to the GM, even the best music in the world will fall flat.  Battlebards will feature a customizable soundboard to allow GM’s to quickly find and organize all of the audio they need for the next gaming session; no more multiple media players, buffering wait times, etc.  Throw the mixer in there and now you have the means to easily mix not only Battlebards audio together but even throw your own audio ‘into the mix’ as it were.  Without needing to be a practicing sound engineer, you’ll be able say, sprinkle spell effects along with an intense battle track featuring a rampaging demon, layer multiple fireball blasts over the sounds of a massive marching army to showcase an epic battleground, whatever the scene calls for.  Accessible completely through a browser, you’ll be able to take all of this audio and mixes everywhere, even if you don’t have access to internet thanks to an offline mode!

Whew, that’s pretty long-winded for a Battlebards overview. ☺  So who are we?  Well, simply put, a bunch of passionate gamers.  Each of us has decades of experience in PC games, console games, causal games, board games, and so on.  Tabletop gaming is where our passion burns the brightest with over 50 years of cumulative experience in the core team.  And it’s gaming that led us all to become friends.  Mike met Alex when he joined Alex’s D&D gaming group in Orange County and Kyn met Alex when they were in grad school, bonding over, what else, gaming.

We’re all about evolving the tabletop gaming experience through the introduction of incredible, professionally made audio; we share that drive to make the experience more immersive.  It’s all about the collective storytelling experience and just like you would not want to watch the Star Wars opening crawl without John Williams famous score, you shouldn’t have to explore the hidden depths of the Underdark without the perfect ambiance!

vc7qrt-battlebards cards

Jinx:  Your kickstarter is boasting over 500 audio tracks by professional composers and voice talent…that sounds EPIC.  You also have some of the OCGG founders of a recently funded KS for Realmsound 2.0 working with you.  How do these tie together?

BB:  EPIC INDEED!  We can’t wait!!

Our first Kickstarter, the Realmsound Project, was an effort by a bunch of friends who simply wanted to see if others out there wanted to band together to bring mind blowing audio to gaming and develop tools to actually make that audio easy to use.  With the overwhelming success of that project, we found out that, whoa, there are LOTS of GM’s out there that love what we’re doing.

During Realmsound, it was brutal for us to only get to make ONE choice for each need since so many auditions were absolutely outstanding.  Thus enter Battlebards.  We want to have our cake and eat it too by bringing in all of those auditions that made it through our insanely tough shortlisting process, let gamers choose which vision of a Druid’s Grove resonates most with them!  Let’s give GM’s options of different forest soundscapes to fit their campaign.  Battlebards is the engine to build this library, to bring seasoned pros to produce more content for games month after month.

Jinx:  What exactly is this kickstarter going to entail?  How is the web service going to work?

BB:  The Kickstarter will allow backers to get in on the ground floor participating in activities you’d expect from a service that wants to cater to gamers.  Deciding what tracks we’re going to offer, Alpha and Beta access to help shape the tools in development, and Kickstarter only rewards that will allow the download of exclusive tracks.

The web service will be subscription based, giving access to an ever growing list of audio as it’s released.  Created around a browser based platform, GM’s will essentially be able to have constant access to EVERYTHING wherever there’s an internet connection, whether through a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Even for those playing in areas with no internet, we still have you covered.  GM’s will be able to synch audio to their laptops for offline mode, making sure that the audio you have prepped before a session is ready to go, even in the deepest basement or largest park!

Jinx:  I’m curious to know how you approached these professionals and why they were specifically chosen for this venture?

BB:  Competition.  Each and every track admitted to the Battlebards library has to fight to get in since we crowdsource everything.  There are artists that we commonly work with but it’s not because we hand them Gigs, they consistently earn it.  It’s this aspect to how we approach the building of our library that has led us to produce the best fantasy gaming audio in the world.


Jinx:  What kind of stretch goals do you have planned?  Can you give us a little sneak peak of what’s to come?

BB:  OK, see how you’re getting us all worked up!  Whew!  So, we’re always going to be producing audio that’s ‘mainstream’ or would find its way into almost any game like weapon and spell sound effects, Dwarf inspired music tracks, etc.  Every now and again, we’ll produce tracks so unique to gaming, nothing even CLOSE exists anywhere.  In one of the close stretch goals, we’re going to explore the sounds one would hear in a Bardic College and a Monk Monastery.  Alex, our Audio Director, is bouncing off the walls with ideas for those creative briefs!

Jinx:  I know this will be a perfect fit for games like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, etc, but what TTRPG’s do you and the OCGG group currently play and feel will get the most use out of the Battlebards web based service?  For example, are we talking only Fantasy/Medieval games that this service will support or do you have audio tracks available for sci-fi as well?

BB:  Excellent question!  We’re quite inclusive at OCGG when it comes to gaming systems.  Primarily, we play D&D 3.5 / Pathfinder and more and more we’re getting some 5E in there.  These are no brainers for this audio, being the inspiration for this venture.  Every now and again, we’ll get in a game of Shadowrun, Star Wars Edge of the Empire, and Paranoia, which is amazing!  The crazy thing is even apart from tabletop games, we’ll use our audio for board games and even card games like Magic: The Gathering just to spice things up.  There’s nothing like finishing off a player with a lightning bolt card coupled with the sound effect!

We will ABSOLUTELY offer other genres of audio and with Sci-fi, modern, and cyberpunk in our crosshairs.  However, before we start swimming in those pools, we want to make sure we’re offering the fantasy community an attractive enough offering to enjoy Battlebards.

Jinx:  I’d love to hear an example of a audio track mix you’ve created and used for an in game session.  Also, how did you manage it as a GM?  I know that I wouldn’t want to be fumbling through the laptop trying to find the clash of a sword on armor or a resounding thump of a club coming down on a players head, losing it’s value in the heat of the moment…so how user friendly is the mixer to use in real time?

​​BB:  As a GM using audio extensively for 15 years, I have to tell you that you can’t be more right about how quickly the energy falls off the table when the GM pauses the action to find a SFX or ambiance track.  Know what’s worse?  A darn Geico ad coming up in the middle of a dramatic scene when you have to use YouTube for some OST’s (Original Sound Tracks).  UGH!  The soundboard and mixer makes the audio more accessible, getting everything that you’re going to need right there on the screen.  As dice are rolling, as you’re narrating, as Orcs hit the floor, a keystroke, touch, or mouse click gets you what you need.  Think you might need 10, 20 different SFX on command?  OK, put them on your soundboard and you’re ready.  Heck, in a future version of the soundboard already in development, you won’t even need to look at your laptop to play audio but we’ll keep that as a teaser for now. ☺

We know talk is cheap, we need to show people how this is done so we’re producing a series of videos under the title, Audio in Gaming, where we show GM’s the various ways audio can be used at the table.  Two videos are in post right now but they’ll be up on YouTube as soon as possible.


qq8sbo-soundboard-playlist - 1

​​Jinx:  In our previous discussions, we talked more in depth about the​ soundboard and mixer.  Why don’t you tell us all about it, including its capabilities and estimated storage space.  I’m someone who really likes to plan ahead and would probably have at least 3-5 game sessions mixes readily available.

BB:  You and Alex have a lot in common, he’s the same way when it comes to planning gaming sessions.  You can create as many playlists as you want, containing whatever audio you want, there’s no limit.  You want to create playlists according to what audio you think you’ll need for a gaming session, great, call that playlist “Session 34”.  You should also create some playlists of audio you think you’ll need at times like “Weapon Effects” and “DIE PC’S DIE” which you can quickly go to when you need it.  That’s the beauty of the “Playlist Centered Soundboard Design” that we’re working on.


t3bgzw-combine-spells       tigvby-crop-tracks---kyn


Jinx:  Now I’ve been lucky enough to hear a sampling of this audio and it is FANTASTIC.  Here are a couple audio track examples for our readers:

First the Dwarven Temple Soundscape…


Next up…The Swamp Soundscape


Or how about the sound effects for the spells we all know and love, like Lightning bolt…


Maybe you’re looking to add the flavor of a dark, infernal language…

Jinx:  Regardless…I am SOLD.

I do have one concern however and would love to hear your thoughts on it, not only from the point of view of this kickstarter, but as a GM as well.  Whenever my group gets together, there is always a lot of catching up, banter, laughing, talking about movie/video game/general geek references and most of all, BS’ing.  What do you think is the best way to utilize your service and effectively set the mood without impacting the camaraderie, which is one of the main reasons we all get together?

BB:  Oh boy, I’ve seen more than one GM storm out of a room when the players just could not be reigned in, when the jokes and banter, which is a key reason for getting together, starts to wreck that 10 page session masterpiece the poor GM is trying to go through.  Audio is the key!!! Being able to manage your player’s emotional states is one of the biggest challenges for the guy running the show and no one likes the heavy handed GM that screams at players when the fart jokes come out during a dramatic scene.  You could not hope for a better way to dial in that energy than audio.  Just last week, my players and I were bouncing off the walls with too much pizza and beer in their systems when I really needed everything to settle down long enough to run through a heavy scene.  As soon as I started playing Elven Dirge and started off with my narrative, the change was immediate, as not only they realized what was about to happen but the music focused all that energy into a dramatic wavelength.  It was magic.

Jinx:  What sets you guys apart from other audio tools out there?  What do you have that others do not?

BB:  We’re not going to lie, there’s a TON of great audio out there.  What sets us apart is that our audio is SPECIFICALLY made with tabletop gaming in mind.  What that means is that each track includes a ton of research to make sure that if we say something is supposed to be say, a Dwarf Temple, the resulting tracks exudes what most gamers will agree is iconic to Dwarves.  Special attention is also taken to provide a balance of specificity and flexibility, giving gamers as wide an array of uses for each track without compromising its original premise, not an easy thing to do.  Then there are the tools.  As a GM with enough on my plate, I don’t want to have to learn how to mix tracks like a sound engineer when putting together stuff for my games, give it to me simple.  Everything is click and drag making even the mixer super straight forward to use.   The soundboard follows the same KISS principle, allowing GM’s to put together their audio lists any way that’s most convenient for them.  The soundboard brings together the advantages of allowing gamers to plan for all the audio a script calls for while making any amount of it also available for off-the-cuff use, all, on a single customizable platform.

Jinx:  Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us here at 3-sided-die, it was a pleasure talking with you guys!  What is the best way for your fans to get in touch with you?

BB:  We can’t thank you enough for this opportunity.  Fans can reach us any way they like via Twitter (@Battlebards) and Facebook.  We’re also all over the comments and updates on the Kickstarter itself.  Don’t be shy, contact us, reach out, we’re just gamers like everyone else.

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.

Why I Finally Quit Magic: The Gathering, or, “So Long, and Thanks for all the Phyrexians”

Well, my friends, it’s the end of an era: I’ve officially quit Magic: the Gathering.

Like many Magic players, I first picked up the game in college during its heyday and quit for trivial reasons (for me, it was to pay a dorm room fee). I returned many years later, right after Dark Ascension hit the streets in February 2012. I dove in hard, buying boosters weekly, fat packs with new releases, and becoming heavily invested with online trading websites.

ImageI wrote a lengthy essay last year about taking an eight-week “fast” from Magic in order to get my personal life in better order. At the time, I was burning up a great deal of mental energy and effort on trading, brewing, and consuming all aspects of Magic, and it was taking an increasingly negative toll on my relationships with my family. I succeeded in making it through the fast, but the effects of remaining tied to Magic, even loosely, lingered in the background.

I worked hard to limit my exposure to the game after the fast, but old habits die harder. I did a very limited return to online trading, but had to reign myself in before I started putting too many cards back on the market. I started playing again in a casual setting, but I found myself acting less than mature, almost bordering on sneaky, when asking for the time and opportunities to play the game amidst a busy family schedule.

After a set of lengthy discussions with my family, I went to a local game store last Thursday and made a commitment to sell off my entire Magic collection on the spot. Most of the cards I owned were still sleeved and in decks; I played a final few rounds with a friend of mine while one of the employees was pricing a stack of my highest-value cards. I’m sure I could have earned a much larger amount of money selling my collection online piece by piece, but this wasn’t about the money.

What makes this departure different to me is the context. My reasons for leaving the game aren’t the usual ones you hear from former Magic players, such as “I don’t have the money to keep up with the format,” or “my friends don’t play anymore/moved away,” or “I don’t like the new set/direction Magic (as a game) is taking.” This was about figuring out what works in my life and what doesn’t.

See, one thing I’ve had to come to terms with is my age. I’m not a 20-something college kid or working single man with minimal sets of responsibilities and the freedom to spend what I have (in both money and time). I’m nearly 40, married, and have two small children. I don’t have the luxury, the ability, or the need to spend countless hours mulling over a collectible card game when there’s children to care for, work to be done, schedules to plan, home projects to complete, and promises to fulfill. And it’s not like Magic was ever an integral part of my identity. Magic has always been an add-on; it was never something I played for years on end, nor was it a critical part of my growth and development, nor was it something that brought my wife and I together (as it has with many folks). It was a hobby, and it grew far outside its boundaries as a simple hobby.

I know there are plenty of folks who are successful in managing their gaming alongside their significant others, spouses, families, and careers, but it took me a while to discover that Magic is simply not compatible with mine. And it was hard to take the hooks out … that’s why I made the decision to cut my losses and cash out.

For all the people I’ve met during my recent time playing Magic, it was awesome getting to know you, and I hope we can continue stay in touch. As for you, Magic: the Gathering …

… so long, and thanks for all the Phyrexians.

About brightmatrix

brightmatrix is a long-time casual gamer. His gaming journey has included Magic: the Gathering, the first, second, and fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and the first wave White Wolf games from the late 90s. If you are a denizen of the Twitterverse, you can read his posts on Magic, web development, puns, and other shenanigans at @brightmatrix.

Otherworlds – A new RPG on the horizon

Otherworlds - Pic 1

So we were lucky enough to speak with Vincent Baker, the Lead Game Designer for Otherworlds, an upcoming Science Fiction Fantasy Tabletop RPG.  We decided an interview was the best format to dig deeper into the inspiration and detail of Otherworlds, so please, join me for the ride!

First, we wanted to get a little bit more history on Vincent, to make sure he was decent RPG material and wasn’t full of false realities and broken dreams. 

Jinx:  When did you first get into Tabletop RPG’s?

Vincent: My father raised me on games such as Final Fantasy and Magic: The Gathering, so naturally around the age of 13, I had gotten into tabletop RPG’s from a young age. My first character’s name was Ramza (named after the main protagonist of my favorite game- Final Fantasy: Tactics) and was a dual wielding ranger.

Jinx:  What games do you feel are comparable to Otherworlds in play-style or genre?  GURPS?  Shadowrun?  Most importantly, what sets your game apart from others in its genre?

Vincent:  As I stated before, I grew up playing D&D. I’ve also played others such as Shadowrun and Outbreak: Undead. As far as play-styles go, I’d have to say Savage Worlds is the most comparable, namely for its “exploding die” mechanic and its wide scope of settings.

However, I’ve found that Otherworlds has had a lower barrier to entry than any other tabletop role-playing game I’ve seen, while still not sacrificing depth. We have had a lot of people skeptical of giving Otherworlds a try because of how complicated other systems were to them, and to their surprise, they were able to easily understand and get right into playing! On the other side of the spectrum, more experienced players have credited Otherworlds as being the first system that they have played, that has allowed them to be as creative as they want to be without feeling limited.

The system is very much crafted from the ground up to really make the game feel like its own entity and as far as its genre goes, I truly believe there isn’t another game that captures this particular theme.

So to answer your last question, what sets the game apart from the others is that this game is a unique genre (Science Fantasy Adventure.) It has a unique resource management system, simple yet deep design, unique races and of course, limitless creation.

Jinx:  What made you decide to design your own game?

Vincent:  Ever since I can remember, I had been entranced by fantasy. When I was about eleven, I was inspired by the Ratchet & Clank series and played a game that I called, “The Mission Game.” I acted out as NPCs, gave missions and rewarded my friends with imaginary weaponry, armor and items for completing objectives. Little did I know that I was role-playing at the time and as I got into tabletop games, I realized there was no better way to recreate that fantasy experience than through gaming.

OK.  So it seems like Vincent is on the up and up.  We can continue this interview….for now.

Jinx:  What about the game are you most excited about? 

Vincent:  Aside from my sheer excitement of the world getting their hands on a unique, fun and what I believe to be- a great game. I’m most excited about what the future holds. I already have dozens of ideas for expansions that I’d love to dive into, it’s just a matter of where the fans want to explore next with me.

Jinx:  Can you give us a brief adventure you’ve run and the highlights for our readers?

Vincent: There’s so many, that it’s hard to choose, but I’ll go with the first that comes to mind:
About six months ago my friend Audrey played Otherworlds for the first time. She, along with the rest of the player characters, was tasked with finding the source of a distress call and had to discover what had happened. They were led to an inhabited moon, named Kholis, which appeared to be nothing but the desolate remains of what was once a flourishing city. On this moon, what they found was black-ooze, zombie-like creatures that had no hesitation in attacking the group. Audrey’s character, Cammy, tried her hardest to protect a scared NPC the group found earlier in the campaign.

Unfortunately, they had a player character named Verrick in their group, who’s a sociopathic reaper, who “accidentally” slayed the scared NPC in all of the commotion. Cammy angrily charged Verrick. He began stepping back as he swung his Bad Axe at her and missed, only to have his body thrown onto the wall, held by her tight grip. Unfortunately for him, Cammy was a skilled hardcore-fighter that punches first and asks questions later. She began punching Verrick, who couldn’t escape. The leader of the group tried splitting the two apart, but Audrey rolled a critical success, knocking their leader back. Angered, their leader turned into their Werewolf form (yes we were playtesting werewolves) and tried separating the two; again she critically succeeded. This happened repeatedly for a while until Verrick was almost beaten to death. Needless to say, Audrey really enjoyed her first game of Otherworlds and I believe a lot of the praise goes to the system. If it weren’t for the critical success mechanic and opposed checks, this would have never happened or have felt as unreal as it did in that very moment.

Jinx:  Sounds pretty badass.  I really like how the critical success mechanic can turn an encounter into something so much more, really bringing the story to a whole new level.

You mentioned in your video that Otherworlds was a mash up of Borderlands, Magic The Gathering and Final Fantasy.  I’m an avid fan of each and while I did notice weaponry that reminded me of the Borderlands universe (as shown below), I would love to hear about how and where you incorporated each of these genres into Otherworlds.

Otherworlds weaponry

Vincent: Otherworlds has weapons, items and gear inspired by many different games such as Ratchet & Clank, Halo, League of Legends and Borderlands. The overall tone of the game is also fairly similar, but with Otherworlds being a TRPG, we’re able to add depth in additional races, armor, items, skills and other things that Borderlands doesn’t have.

I believe most would agree with me that Magic The Gathering is a well-designed game. I’ve not only been playing it for a decade, but I’ve been playing scrupulous amounts of attention to their designs and how they have improved. A lot of their design principles are taken into account when designing Otherworlds. I simply love how they only have two stats (power and toughness) and yet still have over 20,000 cards and STILL have more design space. Otherworlds is built to have a lot of design space and to take up complexity where it’s important and to minimize it where it’s not. I believe that’s important for any game.

As for Final Fantasy, as mentioned above, my favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy: Tactics. I love how simple it is to play, yet how much strategy there is to the game to master. This is vital role I wanted in Otherworlds. I want players to have options when it comes to combat. Players can go the simpler route by just pointing and clicking with a big gun or swiping down their foes with a sword. But there are much more tactical approaches a player can take as well, such as determining whether it’s better to use your rifle that your enemy won’t be able to evade successfully, or to attack your enemy with a slightly weaker attack that will devastate them if they try defending it. Along with these decisions, Otherworlds has what I like to call a “checks and balances” approach to design. What this means is for every strength there is something to counter it. There is not one piece of gear that’s the best. It’s almost like a rock-paper-scissor-style combat, but instead of three variants, there are limitless variants.

Jinx:  I’m very curious about seeing this from a player’s perspective. What would you say is the learning curve for new players to pick up the system and make characters?

Vincent:  I feel like in comparison to other systems, Otherworlds is very straight forward and allows for easy character creation. Accessibility into the game is also simple for new players to join with more advanced players. The enemies and tasks during an Otherworlds campaign are balanced enough for even a beginner to contribute to the mission at hand.

Jinx:  I really liked the idea that two gunslingers could be completely different in the Otherworlds system.  Disregarding race, can you explain what customization options are available that allow for the differences in two members of a similar class?

Vincent:  Aside from race, characteristic traits, backgrounds and the destiny of the characters, two gunslingers could differ functionally based on what play style the player wants. For example, a player may love rolling dice and playing the odds. In that case, the player can acquire skills like “Bang! Bang! Bang!” and “Lady Luck,” which will weaken their overall attack power in favor of rolling more dice, for additional chances to gain critical successes. Additionally the player can use “Lady Luck” to build up Luck, in order for the player to re-roll their dice.

If rolling a lot of dice isn’t your thing, you can go for a sharpshooter variant of the Gunslinger, allowing you to gain increased damage and range. You can pick up additional skills such as “Shootout” and “Fan the Hammer” to further increase your damage and accuracy to make sure you always hit your targets.

Alternatively, you can go for more of a support Gunslinger, in which you can equip heavy armor and tank damage as you use skills such as “Bullet Rain” to take out multiple pesky enemies or use “Wanted” to curve your bullets to get enemies hiding behind cover. “Twist of Fate” could also be useful to reveal all of your concealed enemies for your teammates.

Additionally, equipment plays a huge role in how your character will play in combat and in Otherworlds there is no “best equipment.” It’s more like a puzzle and you can try and solve combat the way you want to. There is no right or wrong answers. Not only do you have the above options available to use as a Gunslinger, but you can also have a frost elemental weapon to freeze your enemies in place or at the very least slow them down. If you’re going for more damage, have a fire elemental weapon.

The best part however is you can mix and match any of the things I said above to how you see fit, as well as use the additional dozens of skills to further alter and get “combos,” that work well together. Ultimately however I wanted each class to have different playstyles for players to explore, because I for one don’t enjoy playing the same thing as everyone else.

Otherworlds art - 2

Jinx: Taking it one step further, I’m someone who really enjoys building my character.  What customizations and options can I expect that will allow me to really bring life to my character, to get it exactly how I envision him?

Vincent:  Otherworlds has twelve classes and ten species in the core rulebook. All of which cover a wide variety of options to choose from. Along with this, you can choose characteristic traits and your character’s Destiny, which can be anything as long as it’s a motive. These elements really build up the narration aspect of the game, so even if you’re playing a story-based campaign, it still feels like a personal player-based campaign as well.

Additionally there are proficiencies you can have your character specialize in. These cover anything from investigation, science, artistry, weapon crafting and more, which will allow your character to further fulfill a unique role in your play group.

Jinx:  Sounds great Vincent.  Now let’s look at it from a GM’s perspective.  Something I’m really interested in, is limitless creation.  I’d love to know as a GM, how easy is it to create a new monster or even a new race and class that functionally works in Otherworlds?

Vincent:  It takes some basic understanding of the game and looking at the other monsters, races, classes, etc. to see how they are built. But you can go as simple or as complicated as you want to. As for ease of creation, we’ve had a lot of players start creating after their first playthrough of Otherworlds.

Jinx:  Again, as a GM, how much of the er…other worlds in Otherworlds are mapped out, designed and detailed?

Vincent:  Currently there are twelve worlds listed in the Otherworlds Core Rulebook, each with their own themes and identity. They are detailed enough to understand the world, but obviously to illustrate an entire world for any game is difficult, if you multiply that by twelve, it becomes ludicrously difficult.

The answer to this is there are details given of each world, enough so, where you can feel confident in visiting them and knowing what they are about and what life is like on that planet.

Otherworlds art-3

Jinx:  So I hear you recently attended a convention where you got to show off Otherworlds?

Vincent:  I had a blast attending Triad Anime Con. They had me as a guest and treated me very well throughout the convention. During the campaign sessions, (which I wish could have been longer) we had full games of ten people! It was a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.

Afterwards it made me extremely happy to hear people ask me what conventions I’d be at next so that they could play again. Currently I’m working out the details, as I plan on being a part of many more conventions. Getting to meet new people and enjoy a shared gaming experience is a feeling unlike any other and I seek to have more of that, moving forward.

Jinx:  So the rumor on the streets is that you’re going to have a kickstarter.  When are you expecting it to launch and what’s the price going to be for a physical product?  How about the .pdf?

Vincent: Depending on how the die rolls, I’m expecting to launch Otherworlds on May 1st. Physical copies will be a hardcover 8.5 x 11 fully colored book around 200 pages. As for the prices, I’m still negotiating with print companies, so I’m not able to give an answer at this moment. However, what I will say is you can expect a price reasonable to that of other tabletop RPG’s found on Kickstarter.

Jinx:  Do you have any stretch goals planned?  Any chance you can divulge the first one to entice some excitement in our readers?

Vincent:  Absolutely! Art is essential for this game and even though we have a good amount of it, I’d love to fully flesh out more of what the different worlds, weapons and characters look like to give the player’s more perspective of this new universe to explore. I feel like this is common for most RPG’s and as such, the first stretch goal will be to add more art to the core rulebook.

Jinx:  Sounds solid Vincent, thanks for having the interview here with us at 3-Sided-Die, we thoroughly enjoyed it.  For all your fans out there, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Vincent: Honestly, I love talking to others and being involved, so if you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to contact me. The quickest way would be on Twitter: @thevindicated or on the Otherworlds Facebook page. http://www.facebook.theotherworldsuniverse

So that about sums up our interview with Otherworlds designer, Vincent Baker.  It was an absolute blast working with him on this interview.  During our correspondence,  he was polite, professional and really seemed to have his head around his Otherworlds vision and where it was headed.  We at 3-sided-die are looking forward to running a game of Otherworlds with our group, sometime around the kickstarter time-frame and will happily report all the shenanigans that transpired.

Vincent, thanks again for your time and for sharing Otherworlds with us at 3-sided-die.


About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.