Twenty Sided Store

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

Events

1st Annual Scavenger Hunt 2017

1st ANNUAL
Twenty Sided Scavenger Hunt 2017

Dragons Will Prevail

Long lost to legend and hearsay, the fire of the Dragons of the world have all sputtered out. You and your friends have heard a tale convincing enough to lead you to believe that there was once, actual living breathing, Dragons.

Unfold the Mystery of the Dragons!

Teams will find clues and complete challenges. Points will be tallied, winners will be awarded, and there will be an after party.

Gather Your Team!

Team Size : 3 - 5 people
*All participants must be 21+

SIGN UP NOW!

http://20ss.nyc/2vJTcho
$30 per person

Sweet Prizes!

Participating Local Businesses:

Bedford Cheese Shop
Brick Theater
Brooklyn Charm
Crest Hardware & Garden Center
Desert Island Comics
Full Circle Bar
Geek Forest
Ghost Robot
Jackbar
KCDC Skate Shop
Lodge Resturant
NiteHawk Cinema / Low Res Bar
Pete's Print Shop
Quimby's Bookstore
Taco Chulo

Spotlight | Rise of the Dungeon Master

Join us for this month's SPOTLIGHT Saturday May 20th at 1pm - 5pm!

Rise of the Dungeon Master

Book Signing
Written by David Kushner and illustrated by Koren Shadmi, RISE OF THE DUNGEON MASTER tells the story of Gary Gygax and the creation of Dungeons & Dragons in comic book form. Like the game itself, the narrative casts the reader into the adventure from a first person point of view, taking on the roles of the different characters in the story. Based on David Kushner’s 2008 Wired profile of Gary Gygax and exclusive interviews with both Gygax and co-creator Dave Arneson before they died, RISE OF THE DUNGEON MASTER is the remarkable story of one of the most influential games ever created.

Dungeons & Dragons

Play an original Gary Gygax D&D Adventure - Tomb of Horrors.
Twenty Sided Store Dungeon Master Chris Wood has prepared a gauntlet style adventure that is beginner friendly and novice approved!

Meet The Creators!

David Kushner is an award-winning journalist and author of many books, including three on gaming: Masters of Doom, Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids, and Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone and the 2016 Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, Kushner has written for GQ, the New Yorker, the New York Times, and elsewhere. Rise of the Dungeon Master is based on his 2008 Wired profile of Gary Gygax and extensive interviews with both Gygax and Dave Arneson—Dungeons & Dragons’ co-creators—before they died.

Koren Shadmi is an American Israeli cartoonist and illustrator. His graphic novels have been published internationally, and include In the Flesh, The Abaddon, Mike’s Place, and Love Addict: Confessions of a Serial Dater. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, Village Voice, Playboy, Washington Post, Wired, and elsewhere. Koren’s work has won several awards at the Society of Illustrators. He teaches illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Find Dave & Koren on Twitter: @davidkushner @KorenShadmi

Check out the Rolling Stone, Interview and Feature, 5/11

RSVP Now!
Book Signing, Drinks & Snacks, D&D!

Reacting to Your Players in a D&D Game

I enjoy attending gaming conventions, I always return home brimming with ideas and thoughts about new games, new game mechanics and new ways to adapt familiar rules systems. This year’s Dreamation, a wonderful little gaming convention in Morristown, NJ, was no different. I had the opportunity to play some excellent games, and I even ran sessions of Numenera, and Monster of the Week (which are available at Twenty Sided, and I highly recommend them!). I also had a unique opportunity to run a freeform Live Action Roleplaying Game (LARP) by Emily Care Boss called In the Arms of the Pack.

Running a LARP was a big deal for me, because it was my first! For those unfamiliar with the genre, in a freeform LARP the Game Master (DM) usually has absolutely no preset plan. This is in contrast to traditional models of tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs), where the assumption is that the DM creates a detailed world and meticulously crafted adventure for players to react and respond to.

So, I walked into the convention room, set up the scenario, and let the players go hog-wild. Occasionally I would nudge the action, whisper suggestions to heighten drama, and frame new scenes. As DM, I had little say in the narrative flow, and the story was driven entirely by the players.

When I got back to the table I decided to test out this technique of freeform LARP with Monster of the Week. I sketched out the barest hint of a setting, painted in a main villain, and slathered on some Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in broad strokes. Details were added when and where the players needed them, often in conversation. One player needed a fancy Faculty House because they made a character who’s a visiting scholar... BAM, done. Another needed a side-mission that their cult assigned to them... What do you know, the nearby museum has some mystical coins that are ripe for…err…acquiring…

You may argue that this only works in rules-lite games, or games in non-convention settings. However, even in games like Numenera - which one might argue is all about players discovering truths about the weird world whose secrets only the DM knows - there is room to modify your game depending on what the players want. In fact, I would argue that this is the most important part of the DM’s job!

For example, when I ran a game of Numenera at the Dreamation Convention, I created an adventure about exploring a village that was built vertically upon a massive Stone Head emerging from the cliff side. I had NPCs, encounters, and locations all planned out. I planned for there to be two big fights, they would occur in a certain order, blah blah... but of course the players wanted to do all kinds of things I had not planned for. They loved the NPC kids I introduced and spent a considerable amount of time wanting to play make-believe with them, instead of exploring an underwater ruin and where I was staging the main fight. In fact, what the players found particularly fun was describing precisely how each of their characters plunged, dove, fell into, or otherwise entered the water that contained aforementioned ruin!

The water-entering descriptions were actually pretty compelling and humorous! It was an absolute blast and the players clearly LOVED interacting with the weird world of Numenera. I made a point to observe what they enjoyed about the game and made adjustments on the fly. For them, trading jibes with the mutant mayor trumped trading blows with dimension-hopping aliens. I cut the first fight short, and changed the location of the main fight into a weird puzzle room because that’s the direction the players took the narrative.

Whatever system you are running, be it super rules-lite or insanely crunchy, it is important to go with the flow. Let yourself be driven by the currents the players create, even if you’ve detailed a course for them, even if it means killing your darlings. It’ll be more fun for them, and probably more fun for you too! Remember the Game Master is a player at the table as well and all roleplaying games are collaborative storytelling experiences at heart.

Engaging the Senses | Tabletop RPGs

I have been running rolplaying games at Twenty Sided Store and recently we concluded a 6-week campaign season of Curse of Strahd, a Dungeons & Dragons Ravenloft adventure and just kicked off the first organized play campaign of Numenera by Monte Cook Games, an excellent science-fantasy roleplaying game (RPG) that uses the Cypher System.

So, I thought it would be a good time to talk about setting, tone & theme in roleplaying games, specifically through engaging the senses. Vivid smells, sounds, and colors can be described through physically engaging your players’ senses and actually immersing them into your fictional worlds.

A little preparation can go a long way to making a campaign engaging to the senses. In Curse of Strahd, it was important to capture the essence of a classic gothic horror tale of gloom and mystery set in the foreign land of Barovia. Similarly, part of the fun of the Numenera setting is exploring an Earth - a billion years in the future, a world where nanomachines, interdimensional aliens, hyper-evolved cephalopods, and a host of other weird phenomena have rendered the world almost incomprehensible.

Lets get started...

Sound

In most tabletop RPGs, sound is the primary way of learning about the game world. Players talk and listen to the Dungeon Master (DM) - a clever use of sound, or sound effects, can really enhance a game.

For example, when I ran a game of Sorcerer, a game about demons, corruption, moral decay, and the limits of ambition, I made sure to have an off-putting (but not too obtrusive) background track on loop. Then, as the DM, when I roleplayed the different Non-Player Characters (NPCs) I would modulate my voice in volume, tone, and accent to make each character feel more distinct.

In the Numenera campaign, I might play some white noise as the adventurers explore an exotic vehicle that has crashed and buried inself in the sand. What’s that strange, rhythmic tapping that they hear in the forest? - as I proceed to tap under the table using a ruler to create added suspense.

Humans are exceptionally good at noticing and reacting to changes in sound patterns, something storytellers often exploit when telling ghost stories. In the Curse of Strahd campaign, I would speak slowly and softly as the players explored a location, and then slam my hands on the table for dramatic impact when a trap springs or a monster appears, making the players jump. I'll admit, this is easy to overuse, but you can never go wrong with vocalizing the creak of an old door or replicating the pitter-patter of rain on the roof in which the adventurers are huddled for protection.

Sight

Sight is the second most common way of engaging your players. Most DMs have used images or minis at some point in their career. Let's go further than that...

As a performer, I love costumes. During the Curse of Strahd campaign I dressed in black, slicked back my hair, and wore copious amounts of eye-makeup and black lipstick to set the tone for the campaign. For the Numenera campaign, maybe I'll don a weird hairstyle or apply some intricate makeup.

Props are cool too. Before a home game I'll pull out and arrange my old Halloween props - tomb stones, spiders, cauldrons... (trying not use the overly gimmicky ones, of course).
Lighting is the best prop and can really change the vibe in the room. For a simple effect, try lighting some candles over a dark tablecloth.

Hand drawn maps or Dwarven Forge dungeon tiles covering the table for the players to interact with are also a sweet alternative. When Monte Cook visited the store to run a Numenera game, owner Lauren painted a large underwater battle map to immerse the players in the setting.

Touch

Giving people things to touch and fiddle with has long been a technique used in many different venues, from classrooms to interactive theater spaces, as a way to hold people’s interest.
Using simple handouts, even a sheet of paper with a fragment of Strahd Von Zarovich’s journal on it is much more interactive for a player than simply listening to the DM read the text. If you want to go all out, stain the paper with tea to make it look aged.

In Numenera, players can find Cyphers, which are like consumable magic items, meant to be used frequently. Using a deck of cards to represent the tangible objects instead of marks on a character sheet, is a great way to encourage players to use the Cyphers fast and freely. Monte Cook Games has created a Cypher Deck (which the store stocks) that I use often. To up the ante, hand the player an actual object when they find a Cypher, like a tiny potion bottle filled with red colored liquid or bits of an old malfunctioning electronic device.

Taste and Smell

Yes, you can of course, cook up some tavern stew for your players to eat while they gather information, but food and scents can also be used more subtly. At a convention I was at recently, I signed up to play Golden Sky Stories, a lovely game about friendship, dreams and magic in pastoral Japan. As we gathered to the table, the DM offered us jam cookies before we started. This reinforced the tone of joyous delight among the party, straight off the bat, without using any words. I would love a glass of dry red wine, before venturing into Castle Ravenloft!

For Numenera, I might try doing the opposite. A rose-petal potpourri placed on the table, while describing buzzing ceramic automatons trailing electrical cabling above. The unusual juxtaposition might help underscore the weird nature of the world.

Go the distance

Anything that immerses your players more fully into the world, or even just enhances the mood of the world, will intrigue your players. During Curse of Strahd, I used the Tarroka deck, a D&D themed tarot deck, to read the players fortunes. The fortune-telling performance was mainly about setting up the atmosphere, but it also was used to further the plot in a meaningful way.

Engaging your players' senses is a powerful way to achieve atmospheric immersion. So go ahead. Sing at your players. Feed them fritters. Tell them to close their eyes and hand them peeled grapes. It’s sure to be memorable!

Interview | Monte Cook

Since the release of Numenera, The Strange, and the Cypher System, I have fallen in love with Monte Cook's Games.

I have been preparing all week for Monte Cook's visit to Twenty Sided Store this Saturday, May 14, 2016, and I thought I would share with you a couple questions I'd always wanted to ask him.

LB: Was it a dream of yours to work as an editor for roleplaying games or would you say you were just in the right place at the right time when you landed your first job?

MC: I’d wanted to write roleplaying games from the age of 14, when it first dawned on me that it was actually someone’s job to do so. This happened when I first saw a D&D module called Dwellers of the Forbidden City by David Cook. The fact that his last name was my last name made me realize, even as a young teen, that there were real people behind these cool products.

LB: You were right in the middle of it all when D&D really influenced a mainstream audience. I feel like that time inspired many young gamers and indie RPG designers? What was going on in the roleplaying community, what was it that really ignited the whole thing?

MC: It was sort of a perfect storm. Geek culture was sort of finally taking over society, and D&D had lost the "stigmas" that it had in the past. Those who were part of the D&D craze of the early 80s now had kids of the right age to maybe introduce. And 2nd Edition had really been fallow for a long time, and D&D fans were eager for something new. So when 3rd Edition came out in 2000, it was absolutely huge. Suddenly, characters in sitcoms were playing D&D, and GE was using D&D to help sell appliances. What a change from the late 80s and the 90s!

LB: You were one of the first to publish games in PDF format, what did you learn from that experience and would you say some of your ideas have now come full circle?

MC: That was back in 2001, and basically, back then I didn’t know how to get my own products printed, warehoused, or sold, and doing so myself electronically seemed like an easier way to do it. Of course, no one was doing that back then, so I sort of inadvertently blazed a trail. I had just finished writing The Book of Eldritch Might and I remember sitting in my living room talking to my friend Bruce, wondering, “Will 20 people buy this? 50?” I had no idea if the format would catch on. Of course, we sold 1,000 in the first few hours of releasing it (and remarkably, still sell a few copies each month 15 years later). It is interesting to see that PDF has now become a standard in the industry and there are multiple whole rpg ebook shops online. What I would have given for that back then!

LB: What led you to creating and ultimately deciding to publish Numenera and the Cypher System?

MC: The ideas for the setting and system were actually things I’d been kicking around for literally 20 years. After leaving my contract position at WotC to lead 5th Edition design, I found myself with a clear schedule for the first time in years, and those ideas came bubbling to the surface again. I guess game design and setting creation is an addiction.

LB: Which came first, your interest in sci-fi fantasy or your interest in roleplaying games? What was your first experience that made you fall in love with both?

MC: Science fiction. I already was a fan, reading Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and even Frank Herbert and then when Star Wars came out I was in for life. For me, discovery of D&D came about a year or so after Star Wars. (Personally, I believe the success of D&D owes a fair bit to Star Wars, even though D&D technically came first. As a kid of 10-11 at the time, I can tell you that Star Wars just sort of primed the whole culture to be not just receptive, but eager for anything to do with imaginative action and otherworldly adventure. Plus, you know, sword fights.)

LB: For somebody who has not yet played Numenera, the Strange or the Cypher System, how would you describe the differences between them?

MC: The Cypher System is the game engine for the other two games. The Cypher System Rulebook is most of the game mechanic stuff taken from the other two with all the setting stuff taken out. It also has guidelines for adapting the rules to any genre—fantasy, sci fi, modern, and even superheroes.

The Strange is a science fiction game that postulates that there are otherworldly realms where all the fiction of Earth is real. So you can travel to Sherlock Holmes’ London, then to a place where plucky rebels try to save the galaxy from an evil empire, and then to a place where Lovecraftian horrors lurk at your doorstep. And your characters adapt to each new world each time, which keeps things interesting!

And of course Numenera came first. It’s a science fantasy game set incredibly far in the future, where technology is so advanced that it seems like magic (and thus it’s a science fiction game that feels like a fantasy game). It's really, really weird, in all the right ways, I think.

LB: For the Game Master, what is the most important thing to keep in mind when running a Cypher System game if they really want to bring out the essence of it all?

MC: Story trumps rules. Period. In fact, the way to really think about it is that ACCORDING TO THE RULES you should ignore or change the rules where you need to in order to keep the story going well. That’s what the GM Intrusion mechanic in the game is all about.