Monster Hunter Stories Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

The Monster Hunter series has been around for over a decade, though far more popular in Japan than in the US. The world of gigantic monsters, challenging combat, and hours of grinding and crafting weapons and armor often remains impenetrable for many would-be fans.

Monster Hunter Stories refreshingly succeeds at being a more intuitive, kid-friendly spin-off game. It incorporates basic elements of Pokémon’s monster-collecting while still using the core tenets of Monster Hunter’s questing and hunting tasks to create a welcoming, yet deeply rich experience.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

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Tabletop Review: Prepared 2

A press copy of Prepared 2 was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Jon Sawatsky
Published by: Kobold Press

kobold pressKobold Press’ Prepared 2: A Dozen One-Shot Adventures for 5th Edition is the follow up to last year’s Prepared: A Dozen Adventures for 5th Edition. Its premise is simple: to provide several encounters of varying levels and styles that a Game Master can slot into his or her campaign.

Not only are the encounters more interesting this time around, but the book contains some welcome organization features, role-playing notes, and virtual tabletop friendly maps to help a GM successfully run these events and mini-dungeons.

I’ll go over each of the 12 encounters before giving my overall final thoughts at the end. Obvious spoilers below! Continue reading “Tabletop Review: Prepared 2”

Fortnite Early Access Preview [Pixlkein]

Read the full preview at Pixelkin

Fortnite exists in that odd space between a public beta test and a full release. Epic Games’ online tower-defense, third-person action hybrid can be purchased right now; but it’s actually launching as a free-to-play title next year. The closest equivalent is a Steam Early Access game. An Early Access purchase grants access to the live game right now, as well as some extra loot.

Fortnite’s laborious focus on grinding and digging through random loot mars an otherwise fun experience of scavenging, leveling, shooting, building, and defending with friends.

Read the full preview at Pixelkin

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 21 Recap

We wade into the hostile sewers beneath Yartar to confront an evil threat.

Streamed, recorded and uploaded every week. Subscribe for our weekly adventures. Join us live on Fridays at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Next week’s session has been moved to Sunday, September 24. Same start time.

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

We carefully descended down the ladder deeper into the sewers, my head still ringing from the thunderous blast that erupted from the grate. 

A deep pool of foreboding water lie before us. Across the large room a monstrous merfolk stood rigid, its eye glazed over. Before we could utter a remark, an inhuman voice invaded our minds.

“Welcome, guests. Welcome to my home. I’m glad you were able to join us this evening.”

Everyone looked startled, and I saw a few eyes glance my way. “That… wasn’t me,” I replied telepathically, fear plain in my thoughts.

“Your party has come a long way to find me,” the voice continued. “Atalia* called me ‘Oosith,’ but that was simply a construct.” Even with its mind-speak its voice felt harsh and clipped, causing us to creep backwards from the pool.

My anger overrode my fear. “It was you who went to the monastery after I left. You enslaved them!”

The creature’s mind never wavered. It mentioned that it was doing the bidding of its own master – as Atalia did. I used that against it. “So, you’re another slave?”

“I am no slave!” For a moment we felt the creature’s calm demeanor slip, then it was right back. It beckoned us forward into the murky waters. 

I had no intention of jumping in. We kept it talking and learned about its plans: to turn the nobles of Yartar into its master’s servants.

Bryseis conjured a dancing light, and sent it down into the water. A writhing mass of tentacles curled around it. “You spit in the face of my generosity? Perhaps I should just enslave you as well.”

An ancient creature of the deep rose up out of the water, unfurling three large tentacles. Its white slimy body locked onto us with rows of eyes and a gaping maw. 

*I verified the correct spelling of names with the DM this time! Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 21 Recap”

Reminder: D&D this week rescheduled to tonight!

Just a quick reminder that our weekly D&D session has been moved up to tonight to accommodate some out of town players. Start times, as always, should remain the same: around 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern. VOD will go up the following day.

Unfortunately our session next week will also have to be rescheduled. More on that later!

Our goal is to always have a session every week, but sometimes we have to shuffle our session day around to fit our many differing schedules! Occasionally we even do a one-off adventure if we need it.

Thank you for sticking with us.

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 20 Recap

Our investigation of Yartar’s kidnappings leads to a riverboat gambling den, and a figure from Kazin’s past.

Streamed, recorded and uploaded every week. Subscribe for our weekly adventures. Join us live on Fridays at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Next week’s session has been moved to Wednesday, September 13. Same start time.

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

“STOP!” My thoughts rang out in alarm, focusing squarely on the woman in front of me. The woman I’d loved, once.

She turned around. Even by the sickly dim light of the sewers she was still beautiful.

“Who…?” she began, startled. “Your mind is familiar…”

I pulled my hood back and ended the magical disguise that made me appear more human. I focused Ellaria with my most intense stare, hoping me emotions wouldn’t betray me.

“Kazin, it’s so good to see you!” she rushed forward as if to embrace an old friend. For an instant I wanted to take her in my arms. But the slumped man in the corner made me take a step backwards.

“What are you doing?” 

“I’m doing what I must. I’ve been forced to do terrible things. But you can help me escape them!” Her eyes were big, her face pleading.

Words poured out of her mouth. A man named Useth had come to the Mind-Zei monastery, promising more psychic power. Those he couldn’t recruit he enslaved. She was a victim.

I’d been burned by her flames of passion before. I felt an iron sheath close over my heart. I reached out with my mind and focused on hers, willing her thoughts to speak to me. Her mind met mine with outrage that soon turned to fear.

Her thoughts were laid bare. She was concentrating too much on keeping up the deception. She’d gone with Useth willingly. She hungered for more power.

“This isn’t safe, you shouldn’t be in here. He won’t allow you to be in here!” I realized her mind was speaking to mine even as I probed it. I saw her handing over the victims of Yartar to monstrous fish-folk. 

“Don’t do this!” She was speaking directly to me now, her face a mask of terror. “You don’t understand the power they promised us, Kazin. Our minds can be opened!”

That’s when I felt it. The same unnerving energy from the frightening creature in the Zhentarim outpost. A powerful psychic link. A chill dread shot up my spine.

My mind followed the trail, across mountains, forests. Into the ocean. Plunging under the depths. Deeper, deeper. “Stop it!” her voice screamed. But I was close, I could almost see-

A blast of psychic energy rocked me backwards as the link was severed. I blinked and looked up. A trickle of blood dripped out of Ellaria’s nose, and she crumbled to the ground.

I was shocked last week when we made it through an entire session without any combat. Make that two sessions now! This week we had some fun in Yartar infiltrating a riverboat gambling establishment to investigate a rash of disappearances around the town. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 20 Recap”

Roll20 Review: Tomb of Annihilation

Welcome to another Roll20 Review, my written and video series in which I review the paid modules available for sale at Roll20. A review copy of the module was provided.

The Tomb of Horrors is one of the most infamous and difficult dungeons Gary Gygax ever designed. It was famous enough for a major plot point in Ready Player One, easily the best part of a novel I otherwise loathed. It recently appeared with a D&D Fifth Edition conversion in Tales from the Yawning Portal earlier this year (Roll20 Review coming soon!).

I was a bit surprised, though certainly not disappointed, that Acererak’s infamous dungeon would be the inspiration for Dungeon & Dragon‘s next major story campaign, Tomb of Annihilation.

The Roll20 Tomb of Annihilation module is the best work Roll20 has ever done. Tomb of Annihilation is already a very virtual tabletop-friendly campaign, and Roll20 went even further with interactive maps for puzzles and rooms, a token-filled page of random encounters, and all the written and visual content you’ll need to send your players into the dangerous jungles of Chult.

Continue reading “Roll20 Review: Tomb of Annihilation”