Peter Bess

Elderwood Academy’s Codex Dice Tower

Elderwood Academy’s Codex Dice Tower is the dice tower that keeps on giving. My first thought upon looking at it was that it was beautiful, but once I began to interact with it I quickly realized the utility built in. This was not just any dice tower.

In addition to being able to roll your dice down a well crafted wooden tower you can also use it to carry your dice to and from games. The tower is built with a lid firmly held in place by strong magnets. The base is also held on by the same strong magnets, but it also twists. When the base is twisted into the closed position and the lid is on you have a beautiful carrier for your dice. Once you are seated at the table and you are ready to play, simply twist the base into the open position and your dice will freely fall out.

But the utility of this tower does not stop there. The ladder inside the tower is removable. Once removed there is plenty of space for an inventive Game Master to hide all sorts of goodies for their players, such as maps to buried treasure or letters from long dead wizards. The possibilities are endless. Your gorgeous dice tower/dice carrier has now become a fantastic prop in your game. Your players will always remember the time their characters found the long lost treasure map, and you presented them with this physical letter in this pretty casing.

Elderwood Academy has simply knocked it out of the park with this item. I know I will be using it for years to come and in all sorts of fun ways. If you’re interested and want to take a closer look head on over to www.elderwoodacademy.com and check it out, as well as all of Elderwood Academy’s other great tabletop gaming accessories.

Elderwood Academy’s Hex Chest and Mini Hex Chest Dice Boxes

Elderwood Academy’s Hex Chest and Mini Hex Chest Dice Boxes are two beautiful ways to carry and display your dice when playing any tabletop roleplaying game.

The boxes are held shut by two pairs of strong neodymium magnets. Trust me, the lids on these boxes are not going anywhere unless you want them to. I have personally been using the Mini Hex Chest with the metal keychain loop for a couple of years now. I have dropped my keys more times than I would like to admit and the lid has never come off. The box and the keychain loop have weathered the treatment exceptionally well. The loop has never come loose, and the wooden box has barely a scratch.

When ordering your box you have over fifteen different art engraving options with which to make your box stand out. There is Yggdrasil, the world tree of Norse Mythology; a Spellcircle for the spellcasters out there; a Sword, Axe, and Shield for the warriors, and many more.

Both chests also have the option of coming with an open interior to fit more dice or a beehive interior which fits seven dice each with its own slot. My personal preference is the beehive design. I like each die to have its own little home. They both also have a foam piece on the lid to help keep your dice from making too much noise (let’s save that for when they roll across your table or down a dice tower.)

The big difference between the Hex Chest and the Mini Hex Chest is that the Mini comes with a set of seven miniature dice. (They are so wee!) So if you are in the market for more dice and a cool way to carry them, here’s a two for the price of one deal.

Overall, each of these dice chests are great products that I believe any lover of dice would be glad to own. If you’re interested and want to take a closer look head on over to www.elderwoodacademy.com and check them out, as well as all of Elderwood Academy’s other great tabletop gaming accessories.

Elderwood Academy’s Spellbook Game Box Review

Elderwood Academy’s Spellbook Game Box is a fantastic accessory for anyone who loves playing tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Alien, or any other of the myriad of wonderful games out there. As you can see in the pictures attached to this post, the box is filled with foam inserts that will safely hold your dice, miniatures, pens and pencils, cards, etc. The box is held shut by a latch and by magnets hidden beneath the wood.

 

When you design your box you can choose which style of foam insert you would like. Some inserts hold more miniatures, others hold more dice. The choice is yours. And so is the choice of art that will be added to your leather binding. You can add a dragon, Yggdrasil the world tree, or a phoenix. Whatever you choose your gaming pieces will be traveling safely and in style to your next gaming table. Once you have arrived at your next game simply remove the foam inserts and your gaming pieces with them, and you have an awesome dice tray to roll all of your successes and failures. 

 

My only suggestion would be an adjustment specifically for the foam inserts that have a space for cards. I would add, if possible, a small indentation where a finger could more easily reach in and remove the cards rather than having to either force the foam out of shape or remove the foam all together in order to get at the cards. 


Overall, this is a great product that I believe many players would find useful. If it looks like something you might find helpful in your gaming head on over to www.elderwoodacademy.com and check out the Spellbook Game Box, as well as all of Elderwood Academy’s other great tabletop gaming accessories.

Review of Here to Slay

by Peter Bess

Here to Slay is the newest game from Unstable Games, the makers of Unstable Unicorns, Llamas Unleashed, and more. In this 2-6 player game, you are working on putting together the baddest party of heroes around, and slaying monsters. There are two ways to win. Be the first player to have at least one of each of the six different types of heroes (Fighter, Wizard, Guardian, etc.) in your party, or be the first to slay three of the fifteen monsters in the game.


Here to Slay fits right in with the rest of the titles in Unstable Games’ library. There is tons of cute animal art, and a lot of “Take That” action. It is easy to see how they have taken Unstable Unicorns and placed a layer of Dungeons & Dragons and other similar role-playing games over it. In Unicorns you have your “Stable;” in Here to Slay you have your “Party.” In both games this is the location on the table where you play your cards that will eventually bring you victory. In both games there are ways to halt other players in their tracks; in Unicorns it is the “Neigh” card, in Here to Slay it is the “Challenge” card. And just as your unicorns each have a power associated with them, your heroes in Here to Slay bring their own special skills to your crew.


The largest difference for me between Here to Slay and Unstable Games’ other titles is the introduction of dice rolling. Yes, here they introduce more luck into the game. For some players this is where you get off the train because of a preference for strategy over luck and that is an understandable position. I believe it is an attempt to bring in more of the RPG feel to the game, and I love it. I enjoy the tension that rises when I have a plan, but it hinges on the roll I am about to make.


The game at a lower player count can finish rather quickly; sometimes only 10-15 minutes for a session. At a higher player count, 4-6, the game can last an hour. This is a pretty big swing, but again, not a deterrent for me.


The other thing I like is that as I played and enjoyed the game as is, I also began to think of variants I would like to try out. Foremost being a “Monster Slayer” variant where we play until all monsters have been slain and highest kill count wins.


As always, no one game is for everyone, but if you enjoy RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and others this may be a card game for you and your crew to play in between sessions or campaigns. If you like Unstable Games’ other titles, I would think you would also enjoy Here to Slay. And for a fairly inexpensive cost I think it is worth your time to check it out.

A Review of Asunder: A Dark Fantasy RPG

By Peter Bess

Roleplay gamers, it’s time to get excited, a new game is on the horizon! Tuesday, November 17th is the Kickstarter launch for Asunder: A Dark Fantasy RPG from Failed Superheroes Club. You can visit here to request a notification when the campaign launches https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/failedsuperhero/asunder. You can also go here to watch some actual play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBfluW5HgOw.

Many roleplaying games are focused on a ruleset. This ruleset can then be used by Game Masters in whatever “fantasyland” they wish to set their game. Asunder deviates from this. Those who decide to purchase this game will be getting a ruleset and a world; a world that drives the type of game that will be played.

The World

Asunder is a harsh and broken world in which the gods have left and now the planet is slowly dying. The dead are walking, plague ravages the world, floating islands have begun to sink, and this is only the beginning. The world is not the only thing that has changed due to the gods leaving. The people of Asunder have begun to evolve as well.

Player Characters

A player in this world takes on the role of a Seeker, an individual who sees the signs of the end times and is not content with merely going about their daily lives until oblivion consumes them. They seek answers and are willing to go to great lengths to find them.
In a rather strange but interesting deviation from most mainstream fantasy RPGs, all player characters are human. There are no elves, dwarves, etc. in Asunder. Character variations are determined by where they come from in the world.
Humans from the different areas of the world have been changed by the gods leaving. Their divine Essence, gifted from the gods upon creation, has transformed them. In some areas of the world it transformed their physical appearance. In other places it caused them to bond with plants and animals. And in still others it has given them the ability to defy gravity. 

The Rules

A quick summation of the rules. The game relies on players rolling D20s and D6s. Players will roll their D20 to attempt performing actions and a D6 to determine effects such as damage in combat. Characters have four main attributes: Strength, Agility, Intellect, and Will. They also have three main characteristics: Health, Defense, and Perception. 
The game also uses a Strain system when characters begin to utilize their Essence. If they push their Essence too far a character could become sick, go into a coma, or even die.
Advancement in the game is broken down into 10 levels. The group levels together whenever the Keeper (Game Master) says. The focus for leveling the group is the achievement of story objectives; no XP in this game.

Final Thoughts

I love that the rules and the world are so entwined; it gives the feeling that things have really been fleshed out. I am intrigued by the decision to keep player characters human. All-in-all, I am excited to introduce this new world to my friends and see if it grabs their imaginations as it has mine.

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Scenario: Mansions of Madness V.1 a Player’s Perspective

By Peter Bess

So yeah…I just played the Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition RPG by Chaosium for the first time and it was great! My history with RPGs has mostly been limited to playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, with a couple of one-shots in other systems like For the Dungeon and Journey to the Whispering Tree written using Powered by the Apocalypse. Call of Cthulhu was a different beast altogether. I have played the board game Mansions of Madness, 2nd edition by Fantasy Flight Games so I had a small insight as to what I was getting theme-wise, but I was excited to see what would happen with the open endedness of an RPG set in that world. I was not disappointed.

When preparing to play the game I began, as you do, with reading the rules that I was given by my Game Master (GM). These were a shortened version of the full rules but still made for some meaty reading as I tried to begin wrapping my brain around a new system.

What? Percentile dice are used as the primary dice in this system?!?! Sweet! I barely ever use those in D&D. Okay, I want to roll low, not high. The lower, the better, because if I roll just below my stat it is an easy success, but if I roll higher then it may be a hard success or an extreme success. This matters when the GM decides how difficult a task may be; I may not succeed unless I roll a hard or an extreme success. (These are the noodly bits, the crunchy bits, and there are more; but where this game shines for me is the same place where D&D shines, where all RPGs shine…the roll play.)

If you have played RPGs you know what I am talking about. There is nothing better than sitting down to a table or on a digital platform like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds with other gamers and getting lost in your characters and the world of the game. For this to take place you need a game that sucks you in, a world with strong imagery and theme. The sinister world of the Cthulhu Mythos has all you need and more. As our group of investigators slowly stumbled upon the machinations of the game’s villain we went from confused to surprised to repulsed. When a vegetable garden turned into a vile grave and plants began to attack I knew we were in for some revoltant developments. We visited a sanitarium and had a car chase. All of it leading up to the inevitable fight against unspeakable evil. If this one adventure was any example, the new Mansions of Madness, Volume 1 has some great scenarios for this RPG. With a good GM, some excited players, and a solid adventure you are in for a treat.

So what are you waiting for? You can pick up the Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition Starter Set for just $24.99. Grab some friends and enter a world of mystery and darkness where you will do your best to shed some knowledge and light on the road to MADNESS…

You can find Mansions of Madness here: https://www.chaosium.com/mansions-of-madness-vol-1-behind-closed-doors-hardcover/

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