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.

Role Playing Games

February is Dungeon Master Appreciation Month

To honor and highlight that very important player at the table, who week after week organizes your games and leads you on epic adventures, February has been pronounced Dungeon Master Appreciation Month by Wizards of the Coast since 2009, 8 years now!

Shelly Mazzanoble first celebrated the yearly appreciation of Dungeon Masters in an article published in Wired Magazine.

Since the mid-nineteen nineties, I have enjoyed being a Dungeon Master (DM). Running games like Dungeons & Dragons has become a big part of my life.

My first DM-ing experience was a far cry from the best - I didn't know all the rules, I had problem players - but I didn't give up! After many years playing, I picked up tips and gained experience until DM-ing became the highlight of my day.

If you're looking to appreciate your DM this month, check out these five mystical items that helped me along the way... and let's celebrate all those new DMs out there!

1. Published Adventures

I wrote my first adventure, and while I'm glad I was creative, a published adventure module written by an experienced world builder would have really been more helpful. Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars RPG, and 13th Age have published adventures by some amazing writers.

2. Dungeon Master's Screen

Keep it secret, Keep it safe! A Dungeon Master's screen can hide a DMs tricks and surprises, as well as keep information, reminders, and rules handy. Almost every game system has a published DM screen, or you can customize your own with the World's Greatest DM Screen.

3. Dice Rollers

Being able to roll one's dice in a leather cup with a secure top and then dump them out on the table has a fun feel to it. Bounce the dice off the wall of a tray, or drop down a dice tower - combining dice rollers with the fate of the player's character makes using dice that much more enjoyable.

4. Battlemat & Minis

Being able to draw abstract maps or build a landscape with Dwarven Forge dungeon tiles adds so much dimension to the gaming table. Adding minis to represent the Player's Characters and the Monsters helps to gain perspective in a situation that might have a lot of obstacles. I definitely wish I started my Dungeon Master career with at least a battlemat and set of pens.

5. Food & Snacks

Bringing your Dungeon Master their favorite snacks will keep them happy and energized throughout your game. Food could be the difference between succeeding in that negotiation with the Goblin King or a TPK (Total Party Kill). Your DM probably spent all day prepping for your game and forgot to eat - Help them out!

Happy Dungeon Master Appreciation Month!

Tune in Today : New Games to Ring in the New Year

Suffering from Holiday hangover? Need a vacation from an exhausting vacation? Take it easy with brand new board games and RPGs. And if you've got some extra holiday scratch from Grandma burning a hole in your pocket, what better way to use it than on some brand new games? Check out our newest releases and snag them up before the deathly chill of February sets in.

Brand New
Indie RPGs

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While everyone loves the big-name roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, Numenera, and Pathfinder, some of the best, most innovative gaming is coming from the indie realms. And we've got three great, new indie RPGs worth paying attention to. Check out Downfall, a storytelling game about the brilliant collapse of society, Lazer Kittens a game where kittens grow up and learn to use their lazer powers, and The Sprawl a gritty, mission-based action RPG about cyberpunks. Want to build RPG locations on the fly? Then check out the Dungeon Morph Dice Sets, where a roll of a handful of map-image-imprinted dice will have your adventurers heading into a new town in no time.

Art of Atari

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This beautiful centerpiece book will look great on any gamer coffee table. Featuring the lush, bold box art from the history of Atari video game covers, Art of Atari is perfect for anyone who remembers the good old, shag-carpet, wood-panel days.

Mad Libs: The Game

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What do you get when you combine the classic "fill in the blank" paper game Mad Libs with the board game company responsible for the wildly popular Fluxx series? Mad Libs: The Game! We can't think of a better pairing than these two, and we think you'll love this zany, hilarious board game.

Citadels

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Citadels is the classic card game that sees players taking on different roles each round to represent characters hired to help them gain money and build new and powerful buildings. We're excited to announce that we just got in a new printing of the game which includes the Dark City expansion, nine new characters, and twelve new districts. Want to stick to the classic? We've also got the new and retooled Citadels Classic, which comes in small travel size box, and is the original game (without expansions) What are you waiting for? Get building!

Hit Z Road

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Hit Z Road is a brand new board game that combines the allure of a 1950s cross country road trip with the terror of a zombie apocalypse. Fun! Part horror storytelling game, part survival game, and all nifty fun.

Beowulf

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From King Post, the makers of Moby Dick, or, The Card Game comes a brand new literary adaptation Beowulf: A Board Game. Successfully funded by Kickstarter, this tabletop board game for 3-6 players challenges you to build your kingdom, attack your foes, and survive and thrive in the world of Beowulf.

Evolution: Climate

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Evolution: Climate challenges players to adapt in a continually shifting ecosystem. Food is hard to come by, predators prowl every corner, and the climate can swing from scorching hot to icy. For 2 - 6 players, this game will appeal to casual and hardcore biology enthusiasts, as they perfectly capture the evolutionary history of early life on earth.

Back in Stock
Everything is Dolphins RPG

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Everything is Dolphins is an RPG and art book by Tim Hutchings. This incredible, off-kilter, amazingly inventive game is hard to describe, but when the game's creators call it an "RPG hovering somewhere between side scroller video game, talking animal fairy tale, and triptastic fun," we find we're inclined to agree.

Ca$h 'n Guns

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Ca$h 'N Guns plays out like the gory end to a gangster movie. Players are all crooks splitting up the loot after a big heist, and the goal is to be the one with the most money at the end of eight rounds. Oh... and, also to still be alive at the end of eight rounds... that's important (and harder than it sounds) too.

Junta

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Junta is a game for 4 - 7 players, and sees players playing various families in the "Republica de los Bananas." One person plays as the El Presidente, and assigns roles to the other players, who all squabble and fight for power. Can you survive the machinations of your friends in the Banana Republic?

Giaco's Top 5 Games of the Week

Top 5 This week I'm taking a look at five of my favorite games new and old, available at the store and absolutely worth checking out.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Star Wars: Imperial Assault Star Wars: Imperial Assault is one of the most massive games you'll find set in the Star Wars universe. This game, like many RPG's and the board game Descent, has one to four players take on the role of rebel adventurers playing against another player who controls all of the "baddies"—monsters and imperial troopers, even Darth Vader himself. Everything from the adventures, to the expansions available, to the level of detail in the sculpted miniatures really sets this game apart from others like it.

Smash Up

Smash Up Smash Up describes itself as a "shufflebuilding" card game, where each player chooses two small decks of cards belonging to separate factions and shuffles them together. The question is: who will you smash together to fight against your opponents? Will you team up Zombies and Ninjas? Aliens and Dinosaurs? And the expansions aren't just fluff, with new factions based on sci-fi, mythical heroes, and just plain awesome-ness. This game is fast, easy to understand, and great for goofy crowds of friends.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion [Roleplaying Game]

Star Wars Age of Rebellion Whoa, Giaco... Another Star Wars entry on this list? You're mad with power! True, but Star Wars: Age of Rebellion is one of the best roleplaying games I've played in years. Featuring easy-to-grasp rules (that are also used in the Star Wars RPG's Edge of the Empire and Force and Destiny), this game sets players and Game Masters in the center of the battle raging during the original trilogy. While Han, Luke, Leia, and co. are off freezing on Hoth or blowing up Jabba's barge, you'll play as lower-ranking rebel soldiers trying to steal secret plans and investigate rumors of Imperial hide-outs. The other RPG's in this series mentioned above are great, too, but nothing feels better than donning that bright orange jumpsuit and blasting away at a bunch of fool stormtroopers.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill The leaves are changing here in Brooklyn, pumpkins are beginning to appear on the stoops of brownstones, so naturally I'm getting truly into the spooky mood. And when Halloween season roles around, I really only want to play Betrayal at House on the Hill, the amazing semi-cooperative board game from Avalon Hill. In this game, players work together to search a creepy haunted house (generated randomly from hidden tiles revealed as you explore) for secrets and treasures, but when a random event called the HAUNT is triggered, one or some of the players will be revealed to secretly be a traitor. From there, the game turns on its head and is a frenzied race to survive at the House on the Hill.

Sushi Go / Sushi Draft

Sushi Go / Sushi Draft Why do we need two sushi-themed card-drafting games? Because sushi is delicious, and card-drafting games are the best... duh! These two sushi games will appeal to different tastes. Sushi Go is all about building the best plates of sushi, and it involves split-second decision making and planning ahead. Sushi Draft is much lighter, and better for kids, featuring large, round cards that can either be "Eaten," "Stored for later," or "Passed." So, do you want build the perfect sushi plate with Sushi Go? Or do you want to stuff your face with Sushi Draft?

Tune in Today

Race to the North Pole

Can you and your crew be the first to make it to the frosty north? In Race to the North Pole, players compete to become famous explorers by beating their opponents to the Pole. The game features a rotating board to capture the wild and unpredictable weather of the North Pole. Move you pawns toward the center of the board, gear up to survive the harsh conditions, make a perfect plan... and watch helplessly as the merciless wilderness spins the board and changes your route.

Mystery of the Abbey

Someone's died in the Abbey, and it's up to a small group of investigative monks to find the killer. Mystery of the Abbey wonderfully updates the classic whodunnit board game Clue. Move your monk around the Abbey, cross off suspects from your list as you investigate, and be the first monk detective to solve the Mystery of the Abbey.

Bycatch

Bycatch is a brand new card game that requires the use of a camera phone. Each player takes on the role of a nation, and cards are drawn representing people, some of which are terrorist suspects. Players can create shelters for their people, and players can use their camera phones to do surveillance on the opposing teams. Bycatch is a very smart game that asks deep questions about surveillance and wars on terror.

Lotus

Clear your mind, ignite your senses, and take in the beauty and power of the lotus garden. With Lotus players compete to grow beautiful flowers, using insect guardians to help them. Along with easy-to-learn rules and fast, fun gameplay, Lotus also features stunning artwork, with a unique "card fanning" technique to recreate a blooming flower.

Coup : Rebellion G54 Anarchy Expansion

This new expansion to the famed bluffing game Coup: Rebellion G54 adds new characters and gameplay mechanics. Lie your way to victory with new roles like the paramilitary, arms dealers, and socialists, and try to gain as much influence as possible before the end of the game.

Mansions of Madness (2nd. Edition) Expansions

Two new expansions to the second edition of the Cthulhu-centric investigative/horror game Mansions of Madness - Suppressed Memories and Reoccurring Nightmares - hit shelves today. These expansions bring all your favorite investigators and monsters back from the first edition of the game and make them playable with the second edition. So whether you miss playing as Ashcan Pete, or you want to square off against the Priest of Dagon, these two expansions bring the best moments from the first edition back from the grave.

Star Wars X-Wing: ARC-170 (Expansion)

Take flight with the newest expansion to rebel fleets in the tactical ship-to-ship combat game Star Wars X-Wing. The ARC-170 provides heavy firepower, crew and astromech upgrade slots, and introduces new pilot cards like Shara Bey (Poe Dameron's mother) and three other aces.

Extra Goodies!

New in stock this week are also: Star Wars and Marvel crochet kits, hoodies, and LEGO sets, new Star Wars photomosaic puzzles, and Dungeons & Dragons miniatures to tie into Storm King's Thunder.

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!