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A retail store and premier event organizer in Williamsburg Brooklyn that focuses on high quality Board Games, Role Playing Games, and Magic: The Gathering.

D&D Curse of Strahd The night watch is a lonely job. All around you, your companions lie snug in their sleeping bags around a roaring fire. You, on the other hand, are fully awake and ready to guard against the dangers of the night. Or so you think. Your armor is heavy and cumbersome, and the wind has a way of finding the seams of your armor, shooting the chill straight to your bones. The fire your companions enjoy offers no comfort; it might as well be on the other side of the earth. The fatigue and cold threaten to drag you under, but the sounds keep you awake. The hooting of a far-off owl. Or is it an Owlbear? Is that wolf howling at the moon, or signaling to its pack the easy prey in your camp? Your eyes strain, trying to focus. It’s hard to see anything through the thick fog that has set in. All around you is a sense of foreboding malice, like two giant hands squeezing you between them.

You run back to the fire to wake your companions. But there is no fire. There are no companions left. There is just you, the night, and the fog.

D&D Curse of Strahd is the new hardcover adventure campaign from Wizards of the Coast. In celebration, we are taking a look back at one of the most influential stories in D&D history, and how it informed the making of D&D Fifth Edition, Curse of Strahd.

Join us in Celebration!

D&D Curse of Strahd Launch Event

TOMORROW FRI March 3rd @ 7pm - Sign Up Now!
The Mist calls to you.

D&D Ravenloft : brief history

A brief history of D&D Ravenloft

THE BEGINNING

In the early 1980s, Tracy Hickman encountered a vampire during one of his first games of Dungeons & Dragons. The encounter felt… off. He knew that the vampire was an option on a random encounters table, and such, it felt out of place in this dungeon.

“Where did you come from,” he thought, reminiscing about this event on the official D&D podcast.

“You’re a vampire, for cryin’ out loud! You should have an enormous castle and an entire setting built around you.” That random encounter led Hickman and his wife, Laura, to come up with their own vampire and a castle for him to lair in. The result was a game called Vampyr that the Hickmans would playtest with family and friends every year around Halloween. Vampyr would see print in October, 1983 as Dungeon Module I6: Ravenloft, after Tracy Hickman joined TSR.

Castle Ravenloft is a dungeon complex located in a village (or plane in the Multiverse) called, Barovia. Ravenloft, as it became known as, introduced new concepts that helped move the game beyond its roots. Hickman traded high-fantasy for Gothic horror, and wrote the first published D&D adventure to incorporate horror themes.

In addition to the thematic shift, Ravenloft had a modular story that changed every time it was played. The Dungeon Master set up several key elements of the story randomly before starting the game, or could do this in play through the fortune-teller Madam Eva.

New Tarokka Deck by Gale Force 9 - coming soon...

There is also the main antagonist, Strahd von Zarovich, himself. Strahd was not just some final boss that waited for the party in the last room of the dungeon - he had goals, and the means to achieve them. He could torment the party at any time he wanted, and always seemed to have the upper hand.

In fact, in the original module, there is a full page dedicated to Strahd and how to play him. Dungeon Masters were encouraged to run Strahd as expertly as the players ran their own characters. It was necessary for DMs to portray Strahd effectively. Strahd von Zarovich marked one of the first three-dimensional D&D villains. He wasn’t a cult leader, evil dragon, or a kill-crazy, blood-hungry vampire either. He had pathos, and a reason why he did the monstrous things he did. The entire adventure focused on the tragedy of Strahd von Zarovich and how his obsession cursed him forever.

Over 30 years after its publication, the Ravenloft setting is still highly regarded by D&D fans. Its uniqueness, captivating villain, and massive dungeon layout, combined with the modular story, made the classic Ravenloft adventure an iconic module that still sees play today as a Halloween tradition, and earns a spot on many best modules of all time lists. But when the tide turned from 1st Edition to 2nd Edition, TSR had more plans for Barovia and Count Strahd.

THE SETTING

When 2nd Edition AD&D came out in the 1990s, the D&D Multiverse exploded. Stories, like Hickman's, got expanded into fully fleshed world settings, giving players and DMs more flavorful choices for their campaigns.

Ravenloft become D&D’s de-facto horror setting. The mists of Ravenloft expanded throughout the multiverse, calling to the dark-hearted and whisking them away to another realm. Ravenloft became the Demiplane of Dread and was ruled by a particularly evil individual, a Darklord, that was under the sway of what the game calls the Dark Powers. These Dark Powers are abstract entities of evil and darkness that hold absolute power in Ravenloft. The Dark Ppowers corrupted minds and hearts, turning good people evil, and turning evil people - like Strahd von Zarovich - into monsters.

The Ravenloft campaign setting offered players a very different game from the core worlds of Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms that were already well established at the time. Players were strangers in a strange land, beset on all sides by evil, out-matched and ill-equipped, and in danger of being turned into the very evil they fought. Players gravitated toward this type of game, making Ravenloft one of the most popular non-traditional D&D campaign settings to this day.

Ravenloft lasted all the way through 2nd Edition. When Wizards of the Coast acquired TSR and released 3rd Edition, active work on the campaign setting ceased. WotC licensed Ravenloft to White Wolf, makers of the World of Darkness RPG and Vampire: the Masquerade. White Wolf released a few rulebooks to update Ravenloft to 3rd Edition, but it took ten years for Wizards of the Coast to finally return to the Ravenloft setting with D&D Curse of Strahd.

D&D CURSE OF STRAHD

Chris Perkins, Dungeon Master to the Stars, brings back the classic Ravenloft setting to 5th Edition. D&D Curse of Strahd takes us back through the Mist into Barovia. The original authors, Tracy and Laura Hickman, where brought on as writers and added a wealth of depth to the setting that they wished they could’ve added - if only page-count and printing costs weren’t an issue back in the day.

D&D Curse of Strahd returns to the dark land of Barovia, surrounded by Mists. It is ruled by the evil Strahd von Zarovich from his Castle Ravenloft. D&D Curse of Strahd weaves the Count into the very fabric of the story so that every place, every person, and every thing connects back to him in some way. The land of Barovia is cursed, as Strahd himself is cursed, and the players will be cursed as well if they cannot escape.

The Raven

EVENTS...

D&D Curse of Strahd releases to premiere game stores (that’s us!) TOMORROW Friday, March 4th.

Grab your sword and shield, but don’t forget your holy symbol, and sign up to play!

To mark the occasion, Twenty Sided Store has put together a special Launch Event at 7pm to inspire the new campaign season. SIGN UP NOW!

Players who sign up for the event have a chance to pre-order D&D Curse of Strahd.

Coming Soon...

Death House Mini-Campaign Tuesday's @ 6pm - 10pm - 4 week mini-campaign, March 8 - March 29.

Stay Tuned to our EVENTS PAGE for more *D&D Curse of Strahd *Events this Season.

Until next time, happy gaming!

Geek & Sundry If you’ve ever wanted to #playmoregames, we have a great opportunity coming up next week!

Twenty Sided Store is proud to host Geek & Sundry's Game Night.

Wednesday, March 2 @ 6pm - 10pm is Geek & Sundry Game Night! RSVP NOW!

Who is Geek and Sundry?

Geek and Sundry Shows

They are the folks behind Table Top, The Guild, Critical Role, and Titansgrave.

G&S Board Game Nights are a chance for stores and games designers to gather their local communities and play more games.

As a precursor to the upcoming annual TableTop Day, an all day board game festival, Geek & Sundry Game Night will spotlight a few fun games that can be played in an hour or less.

WITS AND WAGERS

A classic trivia game with a twist! In Wits and Wagers, you don't have to know all the answers, you just need to know who DOES.

Players write a numerical answer to trivia questions and place their answers in sequence on the table, lowest to highest. Players then bet on what they think the closest answer without going over is, Price is Right style. The game pays out based on the odds; the more people pick that answer, the less the House pays out. Whoever has the most money at the end of seven questions is the winner.

THREE CHEERS FOR THE MASTER

Three Cheers for the Master

This is a new game to me, but I love the concept.

Players are minions of an evil overlord that has nothing left to conquer and is feeling melancholy. Fearful of the Master, you try to organize your fellow minions into a cheerleader tower to make the Master happy. The game is played by placing minion cards on a three-tiered pyramid. Your character, the Foreminion, climbs up and down the pyramid to keep the other minions in place. But, the other minions are rowdy and every now and then, a big, hairy fight breaks out, causing some minions to die and the pyramid to collapse.

Whoever has the highest-scoring pyramid when the Master returns is the winner.

STEAM TIME

Steam Time

This is the biggest game being featured in G&S Game Night, and if you’ve played euro-games like Lords of Waterdeep or Ticket to Ride, it’ll feel very familiar.

Steam Time is a worker placement and economy game about time-traveling dirigibles visiting historic locations like Stonehenge or the pyramids to collect magical crystals. On each turn, players place their dirigibles on a space forward in time and collect the resource, such as gold, Esteem points, crystals, or upgrades to your ship. Once all the ships are placed, the board refreshes and a new monument to explore is added. A solid strategy is required to win, but the player is presented with so many options that they never feel like their turn is wasted.

After five rounds, whoever has the most esteem wins the game.

SIGN UP NOW

RSVP today to reserve your spot and be entered into the raffle to win great prizes sponsored by Geek & Sundry!

These games and more will be available for play and purchase next Wednesday night.

See you on March 2nd, and Happy Gaming!


You can follow along online with #GnSGameNight or @20sidedstore on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Fall of Magic

I want you to close your eyes and think about a tabletop roleplaying game. Just grab the first image that pops into your head. Got it? What did you see? A group of friends sitting around a table? A map dotted with minis, tokens, and dice? More snacks than a Super-Bowl party? The large rulebook filled with tables, charts, and enough minutia to make your tax accountant giddy? All True! Yet, this stigma that roleplaying games are “complex” has carried since the beginning.

Well, gentle reader, roleplaying games aren’t made like they used to. Leave your GM screen at home - you won’t need it. Over the next few weeks we will look into some of the best shared storytelling RPGs out there.

Today, I would like to talk about a game that we will be running this weekend. It was voted Kickstarter's Staff Pick - Fall of Magic.

FALL OF MAGIC

Fall of Magic is a game about pure improvisation and storytelling with little to no “game” going on. Players inhabit the roles of travelers with the Magus, a mystical being leading the players on a journey through a fantasy world to Umbra to prevent the end of magic.

Unique to other games, Fall of Magic utilizes a designated play area, a scroll with a map of your journey on it. Players place markers for themselves and the Magus, representing where they are, and move them throughout the course of the game, building their characters up as they go along.

On their turns, players move to a new location on the map and select a scene. Each scene has a “story prompt” listed underneath it, something that must be introduced to the narrative during your turn. Some story prompts add new information to your character, others change your character in unforeseen ways, and some give you a choice.

The players improvise their scenes from the perspective of their characters, although everyone is allowed to contribute to the story. Instead of moving themselves, players can elect to move the Magus further along the map, and describe a scene from the Magus’ point of view.

The open-ended nature of the story prompts allow for players to expand beyond the typical fantasy tropes and create a collaborative story that is uniquely their own.

The best part is, if you want to try Fall of Magic, Miguel Zapico is running it this Sunday at Twenty Sided Store. Sign Up Now!

Happy Gaming!

I know I said last time that we were going to discuss storytelling games for DM Appreciation Month. That was before I looked at the calendar and saw that this Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Sooooo… yeah. Way to plan, Chris. General Patton ain’t got nothin’ on you.

But that’s okay. We’ll talk about storytelling RPGs next week. (I promise.) For this week, I want to answer one of the most common questions I get asked behind the counter: What is a good two-player game?

We can all think of examples of great games that take a table full of people to play. It stands to reason that, since tabletop gaming is a social hobby, the more people the better. But if you’re lucky enough to have a significant other who you can play games with, here are some examples of games you can play together for Valentine’s Day.

LOVE LETTER

In “Love Letter,” you are a commoner trying to get your love letter into the hands of the princess. You pass it to a member of the court, who passes it to someone else, and so on. It’s a simple “draw-one-play-one” game. The cards played represent the members of court who carry your love letter, but the cards also have mechanical effects that can gather information on your opponent’s card, protect from other card effects, or potentially knock other players out of the game. The game ends when one player is left standing, or if the deck runs out of cards. In that case, whoever has the highest value card in their hand wins.

“Love Letter” is a great game for couples. Not only is it thematically appropriate for Valentine’s Day, it’s easy enough to teach in minutes if you already don’t know how to play and quick enough that you can probably get a whole game in while dinner is cooking. Or being delivered. Whatever. I don’t judge.

HIVE

While bugs don’t scream “romance” to me, I’m still going to recommend “Hive” for couples who like to strategize. “Hive” is played by adding pieces to an ever-expanding hex-grid, trying to surround your opponent’s queen while preventing your own from being surrounded. Each side has 11 pieces to accomplish this, each with unique abilities, such as being able to freeze other pieces in place, jump to the other side of the hive, or moving to any position on the outer edge of the hive. The game carries an element of logic as well, as no move can cause a part of the hive to become separated. If you can get past the creepy-crawly aesthetic, you’ll find a game that is chess-like, but easier to play and still just as deep.

HANABI

Cooperative games are great for couples. You get to spend time playing a game with someone special, but without the possibility of the night ending in a table-flip. The problem inherent with most co-op games is the potential for “team-captain-ism.” One player knows the game and coaches the rest of the table on how to play. Enter “Hanabi,” a co-op game that requires actual cooperation among the players. (Gasp! Shock! faint.)

“Hanabi” is a game about putting on a fireworks demonstration. Each player has cards in their hands of five different colors numbered one through five. The goal is to play the cards in a set sequence for the biggest result. This may sound like the easiest game ever printed, and it would be except for the fact that your cards are turned backwards so only you can’t see them. The table has to give you clues to get you to play your cards in the proper sequence.

This is a game for 2-4 players, but I feel like it’s a great game for couples. In fact, if you go to a game night with other couples, bring this instead of “Pictionary”. It requires good communication between the players to win, and you don’t even need to be able to draw well.

TICKET TO RIDE

“Ticket to Ride” is one of my favorite games ever printed. It’s simple, takes a reasonable amount of time to play, and complex enough to keep you playing long after you first open the box. (It’s also one of the best episodes of TableTop ever released.) This recommendation comes not just from a professional opinion, but a personal one as well. It is one of the games that my fiancé and I keep coming back to, regardless of my ever-expanding board game collection.

In “Ticket to Ride,” you are a railroad baron trying to build trains across America and lower Canada. On your turn, you can either take cards from the deck, spend those cards to claim a train route, or take a ticket. The tickets denote two cities you will gain bonus points for connecting by train at the game’s end, but you’ll also be penalized those points if you fail to complete the route before the game is over. “Ticket to Ride” is a game that is high-strategy, but doesn’t always put the players in direct conflict with each other, avoiding the awkwardness that can sometimes come with competing with your significant other.


And that’s my list of games you can play with your special someone for Valentine’s Day. For all these games and more, stop by and say Hi!

Remember, all of February is DM Appreciation Month. Our calendar is full of RPG events for you to try out, from “D&D” to Star Wars to “Call of Cthulhu.”

Until next time, happy gaming!

If you are in a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign (or several, like I am), then the fun you experience week to week is because of the hard work and creativity of your Dungeon Master (DM) puts in session after session.

DMs don’t do this work for the praise or accolades, of course, but your DM is someone well deserving of a gift to show your appreciation for all the fun they provide.

At Twenty Sided Store, we have more than a few ideas to you celebrate Dungeon Master Master Appreciation Month.

SPELL CARDS

If you play a spellcaster in D&D 5th Edition, then you know how tough it is to keep track of your spells, especially when you get to higher levels. Now imagine that, but with multiple spellcasters, and you have to keep track of the larger battle at the same time. That can be a lot of paperwork, or a lot of flipping back-and-forth through the Player’s Handbook, which nobody wants in the middle of your big boss fight.

The Gale Force 9 D&D Spell Cards take that bit of book-keeping off the GM’s mind, so they can focus more on making your battle memorable. Every spell in the PHB is printed on these cards, as well as the supplemental spells from the Princes of the Apocalypse storyline, so they’ll never be caught wondering what that spell does.

If you’re getting your DM their first set of Spell Cards, I’d start with the “Arcane” deck. That covers wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers: the widest swath of spells your GM is likely to need. If they’ve already started collecting the Spell Card decks, try a sheet of card holders for three-ring binders. It helps keep the Spell Cards organized by type and is infinitely expandable.

BACKSTORY CARDS

Truly memorable NPCs are hard to come by. The DM usually starts with nothing more than a one-sentence descriptor to inform their roleplaying, and that’s if they’re lucky. Like an actor studying for a role, the DM spends a lot of time thinking about their NPCs: their mannerisms, what makes them unique, and how they impact the world and the Player Characters. It’s hard work, and if you want to make it a little easier, give the gift of creativity, in the form of Backstory Cards.

Developed by Brooklyn Indie Games, Backstory Cards help players and DMs come up with a group backstory for almost any type of roleplaying game, solving the “you-all-meet-in-a-tavern” problem. While they’re great for players to figure out why they’re all together and adventuring, Backstory Cards can also help a DM come up with stories for factions, gangs, and other groups you might encounter in your adventure. The GM will have fun getting their imagination kickstarted, and you’ll benefit from having more fleshed-out, more real NPCs to color your adventures with.

WORLD’S GREATEST GAME SCREEN

Game Screens are awesome. They’re a symbol of the DM’s position at the table, and help keep the game organized and running smoothly. Branded DM screens are unique to the system that they’re written for. What if you’re running a D&D game one week, and next week have to transition into Call of Cthulhu or Pathfinder? Even simpler, what if you’re running multiple editions of D&D at a convention? You could get a specific DM screen for each system you want to run, but a simpler (and cheaper) solution is the World’s Greatest Game Screen from Hammerdog Games.

The WGGS is a blank DM screen made of durable materials with clear pockets on the front and back so the DM can slide in whatever artwork or game system info they need. This allows the DM with eclectic tastes to transition the same screen from game to game and customize it to fit their needs specifically. Even better, it comes in both portrait and landscape modes, for the DM that needs to see the table or the DM that wants maximum privacy.

CHAMBER BAND’S “DEITIES” ON VINYL

Has your group heard of Chamber Band? If not, they’re missing out. They’re a Brooklyn-based band (and friends of the store) that blends alternative, folky rock with nerdy themes. Their first record, “Deities” is of special interest to the role-player because it features songs inspired by the gods found in AD&D 1st Edition. But beyond simple fan-service, these songs stand on their own as fun tunes that span the gamut of raucous rockers to melancholy and sad. When I’m in my office, thinking about the next game, “Deities” tends to get at least one spin on the turntable.

Speaking of which, their album is available on vinyl, which makes an awesome gift for a DM that prefers their music in analog. As a bonus, every copy of the physical record comes with a download code for 8-bit a-cappella remixes of all the songs on “Deities.” Two albums for the price of one!

(Note: if Greyhawk gods and vinyl aren’t your DM’s bag, then perhaps they’d like Chamber Band’s second record, “Careers.” Instead of the D&D theme, the songs on this album are inspired by The Hunger Games, and it features a cover of “One Headlight” that is worth the price of the album alone.)

Or, if a physical gift isn’t a possibility for whatever reason, you can give your Dungeon Master the gift they will always love…

OFFER TO RUN A ONE-SHOT

Being a Dungeon Master is hard work, and DM burnout is a real thing. So, if you’re feeling very generous, do your part to help your DM’s sanity and offer to take the reigns for one game.

A one-shot can be anything: a supplemental story to the main story, a flashback, a focus on another part of the world, or a trip into a completely different world or system that would be a fun diversion. My D&D group is made up of people who are all very good Dungeon Masters in their own right. We rotate active DMs, but if our scheduled DM can’t make it for whatever reason, another DM steps in and we play a game that builds out another part of our larger campaign world. This means there’s always a game, and the DM doesn’t feel obligated to carry the entire game on their shoulders.

If you’re not an experienced DM and are nervous about stepping behind the screen for the first time, it’s okay. There are plenty of rules-light, story-heavy games that require very little prep can can be useful in getting some experience as a Dungeon Master while giving your regular DM a break. (We’ll talk more about those next time.)

Also remember, most Dungeon Masters started out their careers as players, and fell in love with the game on the other side of the screen. DM-ing can be very rewarding and creatively fulfilling, but it’s not the same as being a player. The best thing you can do for your Dungeon Master is to give them the chance to be a player again, to come to the game with nothing prepared and ready to have fun.

So those are our tips for celebrating Dungeon Master’s appreciation month this February!

You can find all of these products and more at Twenty Sided Store.