Feywild
Bardic Inspiration, D&D / TTRPGs, News, Opinion, Storytelling Tips

Bardic Inspiration: Music for the Feywild and other Nature Themes

We list some of the best songs to use while you and your players explore the Feywild in Dungeons & Dragons.


Dungeons & Dragons released its latest book, Wild Beyond the Witchlight. It’s all about the mysterious and wonderful plane known as the Feywild. While it may sound like a fantastical place to visit, it’s not all fairies and unicorns and not all of them are kind. There are also sinister creatures that fight over control of the Feywild and those who live there.

The Feywild

The Feywild is ruled by creatures called archfey; incredibly powerful spellcasters or tricksters who may be good or evil. It’s a land of enchantment, nature, and mystical creatures. You’ll find hags, giants, walking and talking trees and plants, pixies, rabbitfolk, and many other animals now able to speak.

So, what music would work best for a setting such as the Feywild? We’ve got a few of our favorites all on Spotify.

Feywild Music

“Deku Palace” is for those wild and crazy nights in the Feywild. It also works well as an introduction for characters getting there. Maybe they’re at a party that gets a bit out of hand and something pulls them there. Perhaps an archfey casts dancing magic upon the party and they are forced to dance to the beat, or it serves as the backdrop of a magnificent tree castle.

“Gruntilda’s Lair” from Banjo-Kazooie is all about the main antagonist, a witch/hag. As hags can be found in the Feywild it’s fitting for meeting a hag who may or may not be evil.

“Dalentarth” from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is practically made for the Feywild. The game is set in a world that is similar to the chaotic plane. It’s full of archfey, unique creatures, and magical artifacts that fit in nicely with any campaign set in the Feywild.

The entire soundtrack pairs nicely with the overall Feywild theme.

With that being the case, we also suggest “Alabastra”. It goes well with meeting mysterious people or entering a dark and spooky area such as a corrupted forest or hag’s lair.

“Faren’s Flier” from Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is great for describing areas of the Feywild the party is about to visit. It can also make for a great backdrop to traveling.

Sticking with Guild Wars, “Auric Wilds” is one we use quite often for traversing dense jungles or overgrown ruins.

In related Dungeons & Dragons news, the “Future of D&D” panel at this year’s D&D Celebration revealed a look at what’s next for D&D. Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, is a collection of an assortment of art, stats, and upgraded information regarding monsters, creatures, and more. Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse releases in January 2022.

D&D is also working on a brand new set releasing in 2024.

Hades
D&D / TTRPGs, Opinion, Video Games

How to Build a Homebrew Hades Dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons

We create a homebrew version of Hades in Dungeons & Dragons

Hades is a roguelike action dungeon crawler video game. You play Zagreus; son of Hades, who seeks to run away from Hell. It’s a game where you will die several times but each death allows you to learn grow and get better and faster. Along the way, Zag will gain the favor of his cousins on Mount Olympus to help him escape.

It honestly could be its own Dungeons & Dragons campaign guide. Theros is the closest official content available to craft your own Hades-style world. We’re going to take a look at that concept and build our own homebrew version of Hades you can play with friends or solo just like the game.

Plot

We need to start at the beginning; how does the game begin? What sets you on your quest? You could play it one of a million different ways but we’re going to present the main storyline to set the focus.

Instead of playing as Zag, you can play as a prisoner trapped in the Nine Hells. But how did you get there?

  1. You were killed on a quest and devils dragged your soul down to the Hells.
  2. You were sent here to retrieve an artifact or soul but ended up getting trapped yourself.
  3. You are a devil yourself; either a tiefling or some other fiend who seeks to explore the Material Plane.
  4. You’re a celestial who ended up there on a mission from your god but things didn’t end well.
  5. You are a traveler who slipped through a portal to the Nine Hells and are presented with a trial to get home.
  6. You heard about the escape room in the Nine Hells and just had to try it out.

No matter what it may be, you’re here now and the only way to escape is to make it through the gauntlet. The god of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus or Erebos sets up the challenge to prevent anyone from escaping so easily.

Generic Hero

If you want to play as Zagreus we recommend choosing a Gladiator from the official D&D ruleset.

Dungeons

As you escape from the Hells, you must pass through small dungeons or rooms. Each room contains several enemies, items, or NPCs to help you on your path. Exiting to the next room rewards the character with a blessing they can use to help them combat future encounters.

Enemies

There are several enemies in the game that you can pull right from D&D. Creatures such as the Erinyes are the first boss you come across. You can pull their stat block right from the Monster Manual and call it good.

Of course, some creatures may be too powerful for lower-level characters but there are some things you can do to balance out encounters. Taking the Erinyes for example, you can reduce the number of attacks they make if you’re character is low level.

It’s all about balance and knowing what creatures to throw at your characters. Though Hades is challenging there are difficulty settings you can mess with to make it less frustrating.

Other bosses include the Minotaur and Champion. As for the final boss, we recommend using the stats for a pit fiend. As for standard enemies we recommend using the following: Lemure, Manes, Dretch, imps, nightmare, shadow demons, succubus, and barbed devils. Basically, any creature that is considered a fiend.

Upgrades / Blessings

Blessings are a major mechanic of the video game and can be added into the D&D version in a couple of ways. Characters can gain access to blessings by completing one dungeon and moving on to the next.

Items. By glancing through the guidebook or online you can find a number of items to benefit your playstyle. They can be put into a random roll table and you’re good to go.

Spells/Abilities. Spells and abilities are another simple blessing system you can add to the game. Each room offers a chance to learn a different spell or skill that you can use to combat enemies.


That’s the groundwork for building a Hades-like encounter in D&D. We’re working on building a more detailed one for our homebrew game and will talk about it in greater detail when it’s complete.

TTRPG
D&D / TTRPGs, Opinion

How to Avoid Getting Kicked Out of Your TTRPG Group

We look at the primary reported mistakes people make that get them removed from their TTRPG group.


We’ve all heard the stories online. TTRPG group members lament about having to kick someone out of the game because of consistent difficult behavior. We also have heard it from the other side, about the player or GM feeling “blindsided” by the decision. So why is that? Is this something that could happen to you? Here we take a look at common problems that come up, and how to ensure you aren’t making them so that yourself, and everyone else at the table, is happy!

Do You Control Others’ Actions?

A major part of improv for a TTRPG game is “yes and”. Whatever people say and do at the table is allowed to happen, and then you see what happens next. It doesn’t necessarily mean your own character has to be okay with another character’s actions. But there is a right and wrong way to approach this.

If you find yourself often saying things like “I don’t let them do that” or “I stop that before it happens”, then you are going a step too far and trying to control another’s actions. By negating something from happening in the game, nothing happens at all, and the story doesn’t go anywhere. It also makes the other player feel like they don’t have autonomy over their own actions.

Do You Ignore the Story When it Isn’t Focused on You?

Whenever your character is not in a “scene”, do you often turn to your phone or talk to another player out of character? Not only does this take away from the intimate character moments others at the table experience, but it is also disrespectful to those currently engaged. Try to remain quiet and attentive when your character is not in a scene, because the story is still progressing and it is still something that should be respected.

Are You Always the Last to Arrive?

Life happens. Schedules happen. Everyone understands. But if you are always consistently the last one to arrive and find everyone waiting for you, it sends the message that your time is more important than theirs. This can be frustrating for those who arrive early or on-time because the game is important to them. It can quickly turn everyone against you, and you might not even realize it.

Are You Good at “Sharing the Spotlight?”

There is a time for your character to shine. And there is a time for other characters to shine. What makes a great player at the table is knowing how to share the spotlight. If a scene has been focused on your character for awhile, when it is over try sitting back quietly and letting others now have their turn to talk and take action. Allow the focus to shift. But pay equal attention to them as they paid to you.

LARPs RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Do You Infringe on Others’ Boundaries?

It’s time to grow up a bit here and realize not everyone has the same sense of humor as you, the same life experiences as you, and the same childhood as you. It shouldn’t have to be said to avoid racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, or any other discriminatory jokes at the table. The TTRPG table should be a place where everyone has fun and feels comfortable. If you also try to take in-character actions that make others uncomfortable, you can quickly find yourself out of the game. Using “it’s what my character would do” isn’t going to carry you far when you have no game to play this character as.

And for GM’s out there, consider the actions of NPC’s and the world on the characters. Sexual content, slavery, abuse, and other situations should only be approached to your players’ level of comfort. Keep a culture of open communication so everyone feels comfortable expressing what they don’t like even before the campaign begins. Otherwise you will find yourself with no players.

Does Your Vibe Not Match the Group’s?

One of the biggest pieces of advice we can give is to find a group whose “vibes” match yours. Everyone has a different style of playing, and want something different from the game. If you find that yours doesn’t vibe with the other players, it is probably best to find a new TTRPG game. That way you will be happier all around.


Progressing Story
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips

A Handy Guide to Progressing the Narrative in Your Story

Plot is important to keep the narrative moving. We discuss ways you can push forward the story to keep readers, viewers, and players engaged.


There have been times when we watch a movie or play a game where the plot just bogs down. It may not pull us out of the immersion but it can make things a little less fun and interesting. Stories should constantly be developing and shifting. It’s what makes them captivating and intriguing.

As fantasy authors, we fell in love with Lord of the Rings. While watching Fellowship for the thousandth time the other day we noticed ways the movie progresses the story. There is always something else that happens to advance the plot. We’re not talking about how Frodo has to take the ring to Mordor. It’s deeper than that.

It’s in the moments where the crebain from Dunland arrive and the party is forced to take cover. Or when the Fellowship must choose between going over the pass of Caradhras, through the Gap of Rohan, or into the Mines of Moria. There are multiple examples in the films that constantly usher the narrative forward. Without these moments, the story falls flat. It would just be a montage of the main characters traveling from point A to point B.

Beginning – End

Having a starting point and an endpoint should be the first things you come up with. Knowing where you want your story to go will help you fill out everything in the middle. This works for novels, movies, Dungeons & Dragons, and comics.

Like with Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power has returned and found itself in the hands of a hobbit. The main characters learn it must be destroyed within the fires of Mt. Doom where it was created.

Everything in the middle is where you develop characters and introduce obstacles. These can be summed up as encounters.

roleplaying

Encounters, Encounters, Encounters

When you think about structuring a story like a game of D&D it makes it a bit more simple. Encounters are designed to challenge characters. They can range from social interactions, combat, and travel. One of the most important factors of an encounter is it should always advance the plot.

For example. In the Two Towers when the refugees are traveling to Helm’s Deep the caravan is attacked by orcs and wargs. It lets the viewer and characters know Sauron is watching them. He knows their plans and is actively trying to stop them. If it were just some random orc attack it wouldn’t mean much for the story. If that were the case it would be an inconvenience and readers wouldn’t connect with it.

Every encounter your characters come across should revolve around the story. Whether it lets the characters know the enemy is onto them or reveals a detail about a character, plot thread, or villain.

Lore Driven

Encounters are also great ways to introduce lore. If you’re writing a book, it makes more sense to tell a streamlined story without filler or fluff. But there are times when even the best of novels introduce threads that lead nowhere. It’s best to avoid these altogether so you don’t leave your viewers confused.

This can best be summed up with random encounter tables in D&D. They have their place but we’re not big fans of them. If you do end up using a random encounter table make sure it is connected to your story. It could be connected to a character, NPC, or the overarching plot.

We’ll pull an example from our fantasy series Thread of Souls. In book two Ash & Thunder, a few characters find themselves in ancient elven ruins. Brought there by Jade’s brother to investigate a strange creature.

“As they turned into another room, they pulled up short and stifled surprised gasps. Curled in the far corner was a giant spider. The size of a horse, it was clearly dead and had been for some time. The torchlight cast its twisted shadow three times as big on the wall behind it. “Yuck,” Heron shivered.

“I have never seen one so big!” Skar gasped. “I am going to take one of its hairs.” He shuffled over, already getting out a pouch. Artemis glanced sidelong at Jade. “Do you get big spiders in Oceala?” The Druid stared at the dead creature, perplexed. “Well, no. But come to think of it . . . It has been awhile since I’ve seen a spider.” “One this size?” Unolé clarified. Jade shook her head, chewing on her lip in consideration. “No, any spiders.”

The missing spiders are the driving force of our story. Instead of delving into some unknown ruin, this reveal makes the story feel much more connected. While other characters may have known this information, Jade and the others just learned it.

In the case of the mysterious creature, it helps paint a better picture of the Deep Hollows where the spiders have the largest presence.

Here are some quick ways you can advance the plot:

  • Notes, Records, or Ledgers
  • Character Monologue
  • Characters Discover Information
  • An Enemy Tracks the Characters
  • An Enemy Becomes an Ally / Vice Versa
  • An Obstacle Presents an Opportunity

Initiative Dungeons & Dragons
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Opinion

Why you Shouldn’t Rely on Initiative

We share our tips for running Dungeons & Dragons scenarios without focusing on Initiative.

Initiative is a concept in games such as Dungeons & Dragons that decides who acts when in combat. Players and enemies roll a d20 and add their Dexterity then a fight begins. It works well but it isn’t something we’ve come to rely on and niether should you.

Frankly, Initiative can bog down a game. Fights can take hours whereas traveling from point A to point B can take a manner of minutes. Not only does opting not to use Initiatve speed things up it allows everyone at the table to pay more attention. By not knowing when they are up, they may not dissappear into their phone. It’s a great way to ensure everyone, including the dungeon master, pays attention and is engaged.

Streamline Encounters

Fights tend to take a bit of time. Player turns can be lengthy and other players may tune out while it isn’t their turn. The next time you have an encounter try forgoing Initiatve altogether. Instead, narrate what is happening and ask the players what they want their characters to do. It’s best to still stick with standard action economy – action, bonus action, move, reaction – but instead of acting in turn, they act after the enemy does their action.

For instance, if the group is up against a villain who is trying to get away with an artifact. Rather then go into Initiative, have them grab it as an action then run away. Then ask the players what they want to do. By not being in Initiative, they may think differently and not necessarily jump to fight mode.

Fluid Interactions

Asking players what they want to do gives them more freedom. They don’t necessarily have to worry about waiting for another player to act before they do. No one is tied down by an order. As long as they act after the enemy or opposing force.

It’s a great time for players to try new things as well. Not being restrained by Initiative can open up some new opporunities in working together and thinking of unique ways to handle situations. It’s an idea that can really change the flow of any session and make encounters more freeing and cinematic.


Initiative Shouldn’t Mean Combat

The definition of Initiative according to the Player’s Handbook states,

“Initiative determines the order of turns during combat. When combat starts, every participant makes a Dexterity check to determine their place in the initiative order.”

Saying ‘roll for Initiative’ may cause players to automatically think they should engage instant kill mode. That shouldn’t always be the case.

Cinematic Feel

When you break away from thinking of Initiative as strictly combat you start to see everything in a more cinematic view. Action movies all have intense scenes but think about all of the stuff that happens. They are generally more than just fast punches, swift kicks, car chases, and bullets. Villains monologue and characters react. Everything is so alive. By using these alternate rules, you can make more engaging encounters that don’t end in a blood bath. Why you Shouldn’t Rely on Initiative


Lord of the Rings Magic the Gathering
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, News, Opinion

What to Expect from the Magic: The Gathering Lord of the Rings Crossover

We create a few cards we think would make perfect additions to the Lord of the Rings Magic: The Gathering card set.

We are rather fond of Lord of the Rings and watch it a few times throughout the year. We also recently got back into Magic: The Gathering with the release of the Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms set. As storytellers and game designers, we’ve also created our own board games and thought we’d try our hand at making a few Magic cards for the future Lord of the Rings set.

Magic includes Lands, Artifacts, Creatures, Sorcery, Planeswalkers, Instants, and Enchantments. We’re going to talk about four of these that have been on our minds ever since the announcement at Magic Showcase 2021.

Lord of the Rings

Planeswalker: Gandalf the Grey

Gandalf the Grey

Mana Cost: 2 Plains, 2 colorless

First Ability +1: Place a +1/+1 counter on Gandalf.

Second Ability – X: Counters act as hobbits or dwarves. Subtract counters to reduce damage to life points or Gandalf.

Third Ability – 7: Create an artifact creature token that is either a dwarf or hobbit. It has “This creature’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of counters on Gandalf .” This creature has first strike and lifelink.

Enchantment: The Fellowship

Mana Cost: 1 Plains, 1 Mountain, 1 Forest, 1 Island, 1 Swamp, 1 colorless

Ability: Enchant creature gets +X /+X per named creature you control. Enchanted creature has vigilance as long as you control all members of the Fellowship.

Lord of the Rings

Creature: Gollum

Mana Cost: 3 Mountain

Gollum is a +4/+1 creature with first strike and vigilance.

Artifact: The One Ring

Mana Cost: 5 Colorless

Attach Cost: 2 colorless

Ability: The One Ring has shroud.

Once attached to a creature, they too gain shroud.


fantasy comics
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion

Comic Books Fantasy Fans Should Add to their Pull List

We list our favorite fantasy comics fantasy fans should totally check out. From Dungeons & Dragons to Isola and Monstress.


Every Wednesday we like to peruse the latest comic books to hit Comixology and comic stores. As authors, we are always looking to read new books and comics to get us inspired to create. Comic books provide stunning visuals to go along with the story so you get a clearer picture of what is going on. They’re great for light reading and for those who want long story arcs with fully developed characters.

While superhero stories may be the most popular comic book genre, they aren’t the only ones. We much more prefer to sit down with a fantasy comic to fuel our writing for our book Thread of Souls and D&D game. Here are seven of our favorite fantasy comic books that we think any fan of fantasy will enjoy.

fantasy comics

1. Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish

A Darkened Wish follows an adventuring party from level one to level 20. It’s about as close as you can get to translating a game of D&D into a comic book. It is written by B. Dave Walters with art by Tess Fowler.

2. Monstress

Monstress takes place in alternate matriarchal Asia in the 1900s. It’s a dark and gritty story of gods, magic, and war. It follows Maika Halfwolf as she struggles to survive in the war-torn world and her mysterious link with a powerful monster that acts as her missing arm. Monstress is written by Marjorie Li with art by Sana Takeda

3. Inkblot

If you’re looking for an entertaining fantasy comic about a cat made out of ink then Inkblot is for you. It’s about a magical cat formed out of a drop of ink that leads characters to adventurers. Some are hilarious while others are full of action. All of them, however, tell a larger story about character growth and development. There are also dragons and mystical creatures. Inkblot is written and drawn by Rusty Gladd and Emma Kubert.

4. Rat Queens

Rat Queens is another example of a TTRPG game transformed into a comic book series. It follows the adventuring party known as the Rat Queens as they take contracts, fight monsters, and get into trouble. It’s a great example of a tabletop game gone of the rails due to its sarcastic but captivating characters and engaging plot. Rat Queens is written by Kurtis J. Wiebe with art by Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic.

5. Isola

Isola was the comic that got me into fantasy comics. The art is pleasing and soothing to look at and is great for inspiring creativity. The story involves Captain of the Guard Rook as she figures out how to reverse a spell on the queen. It’s also inspired by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki who understand how to make a great story. Isola is written by Brendon Fletcher and Karl Kerschl with art by MSASSYK and Kersch.

6. Delver

A Comixology original, Delver is about a dungeon magically appearing outside of a small town and the adventurers who dive into it. Some win big while others don’t return. It’s got monsters, creepy caves, and lovable characters. We’re really hoping for a follow-up series. Delver is written by MK Reed and C. Spike Trotman with art by Clive Hawken.

7. Critical Role

The Vox Machina Origins stories are fun and thrilling. The comics are built for avid fans of Critical Role and those just joining the party. If you like rolling dice and role-playing this comic is for you. But it’s also for anyone who enjoys Lord of the Rings. It’s an epic tale of heroes who may not be all that heroic but are still likable in a strange way. Critical Role is written by Matthew Colville and Matthew Mercer with art by Olivia Samson.

Moana Dungeons and Dragons
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Moana is a D&D Ranger Whose Favorite Enemy is Celestials

We discuss Moana and how the movie presents one of the best ways to build a ranger with a favored enemy as a celestial.

We watched Moana for the first time this weekend. We liked it a lot and saw a lot of similarities to Dungeons & Dragons character classes. One in particular; the ranger. There seems to be a lot of criticism for the way rangers are designed in Fifth Edition. They are more than just ranged fighters with bows and animal companions. Moana, for example, is a ranger. But instead of hunting beasts or dragons she went a different path and took celestial as her favored enemy.

Celestials aren’t the first and probably aren’t even a thought when considering a favored enemy for rangers. One of our first D&D characters was a duergar ranger who just so happens to have chosen celestials as her favored enemy. We saw a lot of similarities between Moana and our ranger while watching the movie and it inspired us to write this article.

Moana = Ranger

Rangers in D&D are nimble, agile, and versatile. Moana ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a ranger. She would much rather explore the ocean than stay cooped up inside a town; she is a creative and strategic fighter and wields an ore with expert precision, and she tracks down multiple celestials in the movie. If you want to go one step further, she even has a chicken animal companion.

Celestials as a Favored Enemy in D&D

Celestials may be an unorthodox creature for rangers to track but the decision can open up such a wide array of story possibilities. Taking Moana as an example, your ranger’s story could revolve around them searching for a celestial being to end a catastrophic event. But like the movie, make sure the ranger is the hero in the end. Dungeon masters should make sure to always make the hero of the story be the character.

Another example could have the ranger hunting down celestials who do wrong. Ones that may hurt or harm people, lands, or animals. Or the ranger could be searching for a celestial to fight a god directly like in our dark fantasy series Thread of Souls.

“All three of them turned to Ruuda, who stood with her arms crossed and an uncomfortable expression on her face.

“And you, little one?” Xidime asked. “Do you have no questions about your own life?” Ruuda was silent for so long Taliesin didn’t think she was going to answer. But the smile never left Xidime’s face, as if the woman knew what was already on her mind. And when Ruuda spoke, it was with a much darker tone than Taliesin had heard from her before.

“I need to kill a god.”

Wash and Unolé stared at her with wide eyes. Xidime chuckled. “I don’t like talk of gods, Dark Dwarf. But to kill one, well, I will see if I can help. I must warn you all that my magic is . . . unusual. But I will get you the answers you seek so long as you trust me. You will not be harmed. The rituals will be under control.”

It’s also quite unexpected for any dungeon master to hear the fact that your character’s favored enemy is celestials. We once played a game with B. Dave Walters. He was appalled my ranger would simply look at a planetar and be like “come here, you great blue bastard!”


You can read more about Ruuda in our book series Thread of Souls.

Ascension Eternal
Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Reviews

Ascension: Eternal 10th-Anniversary Board Game Review

A fun, Magic the Gathering-inspired deckbuilding game


We were given a free copy of Ascension: Eternal, in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are our own. Ascension: Eternal was designed by Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler, and is manufactured by UltraPRO.

Ascension: Eternal is a fast-paced blend of Magic the Gathering and action role-playing video game. Each game can be played in as quickly as 20 minutes with two players. Up to six can play with expansions. At first glance, it can appear overwhelming with its large abundance of cards and tokens but it’s actually rather simple in its design. Players build a deck of Heroes and Constructs to be the first to collect the most amount of tokens. It’s all about strategy and playing the battlefield.

Ascension Eternal

Lore

For anyone who is a fan of lore – like us – there is an entire backstory to Ascension. It reads as follows:

Welcome to the world of Vigil. The barrier that protected Vigil from distant realms is collapsing. Samael, the Fallen One, has returned with an army of monsters from beyond. You are one of the legendary warriors capable of protecting Vigil from annihilation, but you cannot do it alone. Recruit mighty heroes and wield powerful constructs to aid you in battle. Each honor and defeat Samael’s forces to save the world!

How to Play

We checked out the 10th-anniversary edition of Ascension Anniversary. The massive box comes with 181 cards – all of which are stunning – and one layout mat to help you keep track of card placement. Each player starts with a deck consisting of 10 identical cards. Cards include either Runes that are used to buy new cards or Power that is used to fight monsters and cultists.

Ascension Eternal
Gamora the cat getting in on the action.

Players draw five cards and use them to gain new Heroes and Constructs or fight Monsters. The original deck grows and expands over time as players gain new Heroes and Constructs. Both cost Runes and help to defeat monsters, draw cards, or grant other boons to gain Honor tokens. Whereas Monster cards can only be defeated by Power and grant you certain abilities upon beating them.

The game ends when the last token is collected. Players then add up all their tokens and Honor points listed on their cards. The one with the most Honor is the winner.

Thoughts

It’s all about knowing what cards you have in your deck and what is out on the field. It’s a strategic game but isn’t complicated in any way. The rules are presented in an easy-to-understand and straightforward way. And the board gives a clear presentation of where cards go and how to set up the game.

There is one major thing we wish were included with the set. The addition of a simple handout for players to keep track of rules would be useful. Ascension is played similarly to Tyrants of the Underdark which does include a guide for each player. Having to pull out the rulebook each time to check what to do can slow down game time.

Ascension Eternal

Another thing is to see who plays first. It’s a pet peeve of ours. Ascension says choose randomly which is fine but there could be a more fun mechanic to see who starts. Other games use fun, quirky mechanics, like ‘the last person who ate a doughnut’ or ‘the oldest or youngest’.

Verdict

Ascension: Eternal is built for fans of Magic the Gather and Dungeons & Dragons. It may look intimidating but can be learned in a short amount of time. Each game can be played quickly as well leaving you plenty of time to play multiple games per night. The cards are beautiful and the lore is engaging and allows players to role-play out moments if they so choose.

We give Ascension: Eternal a 9 on a d10!

Dragon Age: Dark Fortress
Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Reviews

Dragon Age: Dark Fortress Review

It’s comic book Wednesday! This week we’re taking a look at Dragon Age: Dark Fortress

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, Dark Fortress is a three-issue series packed with familiar faces and an engaging story. It follows several characters from the Dragon Age games and comics like fan-favorite Fenris. Its fast-paced action and detailed characters drive the plot and build upon previously placed lore elements to tell a truly fantastic story.

Returning to the narrative are (my favorite characters) Vaea and Ser Aaron Hawthorne – introduced in Dragon Age: Knight Errant – along with Tessa and Marius – introduced in Dragon Age: Magekiller – and Francesca the mage – introduced in Dragon Age: Deception. Yes, there are a lot of people to follow and you don’t necessarily have to read any previous material to follow along – though it helps – and I highly recommend you do so.

Story

They team up with Fenris – albeit hesitantly – as he hunts down a Tevinter mage. Something Fenris does quite often and quite well. The group is searching for a magical artifact in the possession of an Orlesian dignitary. It has the capabilities to create a powerful warrior similar to Fenris. The Qunari also join in on the action as they do in just about every situation involving mages and things get worse for everyone involved.

The story manages to tell quite a lot in a short amount of time. The villain and his motivations are developed quickly and effectively and the stakes are high. The writing is smooth and flows well with the art and all together tells a wonderful story that sets up future events. From epic backdrops to individual character portraits, everything artist Fernando Heinz Furukawa draws is stunning and full of life.

Dragon Age

Characters

What is so fascinating about the Dragon Age series as a whole is how it treats its characters. While they are capable warriors and magic practitioners they each feel real and have their own motivations. The comics get to dive into them more so than the games as well. Dark Fortress sheds more light on Fenris even though Dragon Age 2 told a lot of his story. The writers do a fantastic job at showing his emotions through the way he acts and speaks. It’s something they do well with each one of the characters.

Each character also gets a moment to shine throughout the short three-arc story. Vaea shows off her rogue skills, the charismatic Ser Aaron distracts and outwits opponents, and Francesca learns to utilize her magic and grow more powerful. These details are typically something you see in a lengthy game or movie but the comics do it just as well if not better.

It’s more than a story about fighting evil and stopping the villain. Dragon Age has always been about character development and it’s nice to see it carried out throughout the comics. You really get to feel and understand each person.


Dragon Age: Dark Fortress is highly recommended for fantasy fans! It is thrilling, beautiful, and tells a great story with an even better cast of characters. We give it a 10 on a d10.