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How to Participate in the Dungeons and Dragons Adventurers League May 12, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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If you’re like me, you’ve probably been hearing musings from your friends and peers about this game called Dungeons & Dragons for years now. Its ruleset has been used as a template for countless Western RPGs for decades, and now that it has published its 5th Edition, Wizards of the Coast has been pushing hard to get new players familiar in the game.  In our last article, we talked about where to find free online resources where players interested in checking out the game can learn how to play it.  Today, we’re going to talk about the best way for new players to find a place to play, the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League.

Dungeons & Dragons is, at its heart, a social experience and players from every walk of life are welcome to play.  To help bring players together, the publisher established the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League, and major conventions and stores that sell D&D merchandise will often participate in it.  I’ve found it to be a great way to meet new people and check out all-new 5th Edition modules as they come out.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League, you’ll want to check out this website which includes special rules and documentation for the league. First off, you’re going to want to find a place close to you that may be hosting League events.  If you’re interested in playing, you can use this locator to help you find official Adventurers League events.

Once you find an event, you’ll need an official Wizards DCI number and player account.  If you don’t have one, an organizer should be able to create you a DCI number and give you an official DCI ID at the event.  If you want to make a DCI ID on your own before you go to the event, you can register an account and generate an ID for yourself at this website.

You’ll need to create a character specifically for use in the league, so let’s talk about creating you a character.  First up, you’ll need to use an official Adventurers League character sheet.  You can find download links for Adventurers League character sheets here, alongside download links for other blank or pregenerated character sheets.  Don’t worry, you can print as many copies of the files you need, and because of that I recommend printing them out double-sided in color.

As you can see, they’re almost identical to normal character sheets with a big exception, it asks for a DCI number on top of the sheet.  Characters are generated in the exact same way as they’re described in the Player’s Handbook or the Basic Player Rules.  If you’re having trouble creating a character, you can always consult with your location’s DM or other players before the event starts.

Now that you’ve created a character, next you’ll also need an official questlog.  This helps you keep track of everything you do, how much XP you earned, and what items you’ve obtained over the course of the event. Make sure to take a specific note of your DM’s DCI ID number and the name of the official module you played on the log as well.

Once you have all the tools you need to get into the Adventurers League, all that’s left is just to play and have a good time. In many cases, the organizers hosting the Adventurers League event will likely have spare character sheets and quest logs they’ll be able to give new players.

Obviously some of this information is subject to change and we will be sure to update this article as time goes on.  Players who plan to attend an event should bring a few important items with them.  First, you should bring a copy of the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook or Basic Rules, some dice, and a pencil.  Have fun!


Pokemon Play and Collect Event May 13th May 10, 2017

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Toys R Us and Nintendo have announced they will be hosting a Pokémon Play and Collect Event Saturday May 13th.  Trainers who attend the event will be able to demo Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. During the event, Toys R Us will be giving away an exclusive poster, a TCG collectors album, and an exclusive Alolan Vulpix foil TCG card. The first fifty people to attend will also receive a free Eevee figurine.

I’ve attended a few of these Toys R Us Pokémon events over the past two years and this one looks like it’ll be the best one yet.  The event will take place from 1-3PM. You can read all the details about the event here and here.

Free References and Tools For Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition May 10, 2017

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If you’re like me, you’ve probably been hearing musings from your friends and peers about this game called Dungeons & Dragons for years now.  It’s ruleset has been used as a template for countless Western RPGs for decades, and now that it has published its 5th Edition, its publisher has been pushing hard to get new players familiar in the game.

If you want to learn how to play D&D you’re in luck because Wizards of the Coast, the official publisher of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, is offering tons of rulesets and tools for new players completely free of charge. It’s the perfect way to learn how to play the game before deciding if you want to pay money on the core retail books.

You can find links to PDF files for the Basic Players Guide and Basic Dungeon Master’s Guide here.  You’re welcome to read them on your smartphone or tablet, and I know of plenty groups that will accept players using digital references. However, if you’ve got access to a printer or a local office supply store, you’re fully allowed to print out all the pages of both PDF files containing the Basic Rules.  If you’re going to print the rules, I recommend setting your printer to print them double-sided in full color. Trust me on that, printing double-sided uses less paper and including color makes reading the pages easier on the eyes. They’re a little too thick to staple together but as you can see here, the pages can be three-hole punched to fit in any three-ring binder you want.

The catch is that because these rules are free they do not contain everything.  Races like the Tiefling, classes like the Druid, and enemies like the Succubus are not included in the free rules while they are in the full retail core rulebooks.  That having been said, players are fully capable of using these free rules to help them in creating a new character and playing the game alongside others who have paid for the retail books.

If you want to play you’re going to need a character sheet and Wizards has you covered there as well!  Wizards allows players to print out and even copy character sheets, so you can download PDF files of several different sets of character sheets (blank and pregenerated) here.  Here’s a look at some of them.

5th Edition character sheets are compatible with players using either the Basic Rules or the full Player’s Guide. We’ll be taking a closer look at them below.

Under normal circumstances, a regular 5th Edition character sheet is made up of three pages. The first and second pages (which I recommend printing in a double sided format) are for writing down important information like player stats, current inventory, abilities, and character appearance.  The third page is only used for spell casters and is not needed unless you’re playing as a character who can cast spells.  You’ll use those normal character sheets if you’re playing D&D at home or with friends in a private game.

The character sheet website also includes master PDF files for every pregenerated character sheet included in the 5th Edition Starter Set, and those can also be reprinted. I prefer using copies of documents rather than the originals, so I was happy to find Wizard was hosting those files as well.  If you want to see everything that’s included in the Starter Set, check out our unboxing here.

So now that you know where to find the rules, you know where to get the forms you’ll need to create a character, all that’s left is dice.  Wizards of the Coast won’t give you game dice for free (although you will find a set of dice in the 5th Ed Starter Set), but we can help you out if you don’t have any dice. While a set of dice isn’t that expensive to purchase (you can see our review of a set of seven Chessex Gemini dice here), there are other free tools you can use instead of dice.

The iPhone’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa voice services have random number generators that you can use to substitute for dice rolling.  To get your device to do a roll, just tell your digital assistant, “Roll *number of dice* D-*type of dice*”.  So if you need your Echo to give you a single D20 roll, you would say, “Alexa, roll one D20.”  Don’t use a plural word when asking to roll multiple dice, as that can confuse the systems. So if you want to roll two D6, you would say, “Alexa, roll two D6.”  It’s a little slower than actually having dice, but it’s still pretty cool.

Some of this information will probably be updated as D&D Beyond goes out of beta later this year. Hopefully this information was useful to all the new players interested in playing D&D 5th Ed. You might have noticed a different kind of character sheet in the picture above marked with the Adventurers League watermark. That is a special character sheet we’ll be discussing more next time.

How to Get a Final Fantasy XIV Free Trial May 10, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard a lot about the multiplatform MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, but you want to try it out before putting down some money for the game.  Well, I’ve got some good news for you because Square Enix is now offering a free unlimited time 30 level trial for new Final Fantasy XIV players!  You can check out all the information about it here.

First up, you’re going to need a Square Enix account to sign up for the free trial, but you can actually create one for free. If you happen to use something like the Final Fantasy Portal App (and if you don’t you totally should) the account you created for the Portal App it should work fine.  It only takes a few seconds to activate your account, and from there you can choose the platform you want to play on.

This free trial works on the PC and PS4, and you can chose to play the free trial on the platform of your choice.  If you choose to play on the PC, you can download the demo client from the website. If you want to play on the PS4, you will need to download the free trial client off the Playstation Store.

Depending on which platform you choose to play on, you’re going to get prompted to download an updated installer the first time you run the trial.  When you finally get prompted to log in for the first time, you’ll get three boxes. You’ll need to sign in your Square Enix User Name (not email) and your password. Unless you’re locking your account with a Square Enix Token, you won’t need to include anything in the third slot.

After you complete your first login, grab a Coke because it’s going to take a while to install all of the extra game client data and patches before you can play.  If you’re like me and you upgraded the hard drive on your PS4 you should be fine.

The free trial doesn’t have a time limit but it have a level cap and will restrict access to certain areas. If you enjoyed the trial and want to explore the full game, you can unlock it by buying the full game client digitally.

Final Fantasy XIV is out now on the PC and PS4.

Quake Champions Beta Going Open Soon May 9, 2017

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If you’ve applied to be a member of the Quake Champions online Beta Test but haven’t gotten an acceptance email yet, I’ve got some very good news for you.  Bethesda has announced they’re going to be opening their closed multiplayer test of Quake Champions to all testers who signed up for it on Friday, May 12th!

If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest news on Quake Champions, here’s the games latest trailer featuring the Ranger!  Quake 1 players will probably find him familiar.

If you haven’t signed up to play the Quake Champions multiplayer test, you can do so right here.

Quake Champions is coming exclusively to the PC.

Our Favorite Funny Dungeons and Dragons Videos May 7, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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We’re not going to have a Gaming History You Should Know article today because we wanted to follow up on something we talked about in a previous article. When learning the rules of Dungeons & Dragons, Maniac discovered there was an abundance of hilarious D&D inspired videos online.  We’ve already talked about the history of Eric and the Dread Gazebo but that was just the tip of the humor iceberg.  Here are some of my other favorite Dungeons & Dragons inspired videos.

First up, I have to highlight this 8-Bit animation of a Dead Alewives sketch.  Let’s take a look at what happens when the characters from Final Fantasy play their weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons. Where’s the Mountain Dew?

If you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, you’re probably wondering what is an average game of D&D like. The guys at ReloadLastSave did this silly little sketch to highlight what an average game of D&D looks like…with a silly twist.

Next I want to highlight some of the great work done by Rolling High.  I became familiar with their work after their channel was highlighted in Dragon+ Magazine.  They created a six-part online series following the story of several office workers playing a game of D&D that got a little too true to life. Here’s a look at the first episode.

If you liked the first episode of Rolling High you can check out the rest of the episodes of that season for free on their YouTube Channel.

Moving on, If you want to talk about Dungeons & Dragons humor you can’t forget the work of Saving Throw.  Here’s a look at some of the people you’ll meet at a Dungeons & Dragons game.

And here’s a look at what would happen if RPG characters were honest.  I like this one because it works as a way to poke fun at video game and pen-and-paper RPG cliches.

Now it’s time to highlight College Humor, a website with a wealth of nerdy comedy sketches. Today, we’re going to find out what happens when a search for a new Dungeon Master gets gets misinterpreted.

I think I know someone who would want to turn this into a full-time business.

That wraps up our list for today. I’m sure there were some videos I missed and I want to hear some of your thoughts. Post a comment below with some of your favorite D&D videos and we might feature them in a future article.

Reminder: Free Comic Book Day 2017 Tomorrow May 5, 2017

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Comic readers, comic fans and small business enthusiasts will be happy to hear that Free Comic Book Day 2017 is tomorrow!

Free Comic Book Day is a yearly tradition where comic book shops across the nation offer specially marked comic books for free while their supplies last. In past years, the event has offered free comics based on gaming properties and this year is no different.

The festivities start as soon as your local comic shop opens tomorrow.  If you don’t know where your local comic book shop is located, you can check out the event’s official website to find a retail locator and a list of free comics that will be offered.

CT GamerCon 2017 Cosplay Competition May 5, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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We attended the CT GamerCon 2017 at the Mohegan Sun Casino a few weeks ago and ever since it ended we’ve been hard at work editing all the pictures and footage we shot of the event.  Here’s a look at the first ever Cosplay Contest!

Halo 3 Cinco de Mayo Valhalla Sigil May 5, 2017

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!  The Elder Signs achievement for Halo: The Master Chief Collection requires players to find two special sigils on Halo 3‘s Valhalla multiplayer map. Since we saw a sigil on Earth Day, May 5th is the next possible day to find a different sigil and unlock the achievement.  Will we be able to do it? Watch and find out!

So we got this achievement, so what’s next?We’re going to pay a visit to Halo 2‘s multiplayer map Zanzibar on July 7th for another achievement!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out now on the Xbox One.

My History With Star Wars Games May 5, 2017

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May the Fourth be with you all. This year, to celebrate Star Wars Day, I’ve been sharing some very personal stories about the beginning of my love for this iconic franchise.  I’ve already told you about my first exposure to the franchise in the form of the Star Tours ride and the first time I watched the films, so let’s talk about the first time I played the video games.

I got my first real computer as an early Christmas present in 1996 and I was able to get the most out of it almost immediately.  My friends recommended I check out games like Quake, 3D action titles that really took advantage of a computer’s hardware.  A year later, my dad was in the process of doing some Christmas shopping and new PC games were at the top of my wish list. While shopping he happened to come across a boxed set of Star Wars PC games called the Lucasarts Archives Volume 4.  He knew I was into Star Wars and thought I would like the gift.  He was not wrong.

Christmas morning, I opened my presents to find a boxed set of some of the finest games Lucasarts ever produced. The bundle included games like Dark Forces, X-Wing, Tie-Fighter, Yoda Stories, and a whole lot more.  I installed all of the games to my Windows 95 PC and played them as much as I could.

I completed every single permutation of Yoda Stories the game could generate for me, and I enjoyed it so much I wish Lucasarts would have released a patch for it so it could have been played on Windows XP and later machines.  As for the flight sims, I could never beat the first mission in X-Wing, but I was able to make it through most of Tie-Fighter.  Dark Forces had great graphics that reminded me of DOOM, but navigating the levels without a walkthrough or map was nearly impossible past the game’s second level.

The archive also included some detailed demos for the most recent Star Wars games at the time. My father mistakenly believed they were not demos when he bought them, but given the low price he paid for the archive I couldn’t blame him for being mistaken.  The archive included a demo for the multiplayer game X-Wing Vs Tie-Fighter, a limited look at the Star Wars Behind the Magic interactive reference, and 2 CD-ROMs including the first three levels of Jedi Knight and its expansion pack Mysteries of the Sith.

If you asked me, nothing could compare to Jedi Knight.  While the special demo only included the first three levels of the game, it included everything from those three levels including the first three FMV sequences.  I can still remember the night I played the hell out of that demo, waiting by the edge of my seat to see what happened to Kyle as he followed in his father’s footsteps to find an ancient Jedi burial ground. When I completed level three, I felt like I only had seen the first part of an epic story, and I had to know how it ended.  I ended up ordering a bundled version of the game with its expansion pack for my birthday the next year.  While the first three levels of Jedi Knight gave players no access to Force powers, the full version of the game gave the player access to The Force gradually, which actually made the game feel more realistic. I know a lot of fans watched Star Wars and wished to become a Jedi, Jedi Knight felt like the first game that actually granted that wish.  To this day it remains one of my favorite games of all time.

Great things don’t last forever and I’m sad to say that the Episode I titles were some of the last games Lucasarts produced directly for the PC.  As the early 2000s ticked away, most of Lucasarts’s game development shifted to games for the home consoles including PS2, GameCube and Xbox.  Sometimes Lucasarts would be forward thinking enough to offer some of their more popular titles on PC, but there was no guarantee of that happening.  Obi-Wan would be released exclusively on the Xbox, even thought it was initially announced as a PC title.  Games like Jedi Starfighter would also never get a release on the PC, despite the popularity of the original Starfighter.

At E3, Lucasarts announced Raven Software, developers of the incredible Star Trek: Elite Force, would be taking one of the best graphic engines available, the Quake III Arena Engine, and making a sequel to my favorite Star Wars game, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.  When it finally released, Jedi Outcast became my favorite Star Wars game of all time. The graphics were beautiful, the gameplay was solid and fluid, and the story continued the incredible tale that began with Jedi Knight. It had a satisfying conclusion that didn’t need a sequel but could merit one if possible.  It’s sequel, Jedi Academy, was a decent game with fun new mechanics like the double-bladed and dual-wielding lightsaber. However, the fact you can’t play as Kyle Katarn made it feel like more of an expansion pack than a true sequel. Sadly we would never have any more adventures with Kyle, but I’m grateful for all the time we did get to spend with him.

The last great Star Wars game I enjoyed on the PC would have to be Knights of the Old Republic by Bioware.  I know a lot of people consider KOTOR to be the greatest Star Wars game…ever, but I still feel stronger about Jedi Outcast.  I enjoyed KOTOR a lot on the Xbox and on the PC, but its sequel was a massive disappointment.  I remember spending seven hours a day over the course of four consecutive days with the hope the game would tell me anything about what happened to the characters from the last game.  Sadly, KOTOR II‘s abrupt ending would not fulfill that wish.

After the release of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, The Force Unleashed became the last major Star Wars game I considered a disappointment. The game was planned to be a major expansion of the Star Wars expanded universe just like Shadows of the Empire was in the mid-90s, and while it had a fantastic story, its gameplay was buggy and frustrating.  The Force Unleashed II felt like the exact opposite.  It had very polished gameplay, but its incomplete story and abrupt ending upset me, and sadly that short-sighted decision to release the game without a complete story brought a premature end to the once promising franchise expansion.

With the purchase of Lucasfilm came the end of Lucasarts, and with it the cancellation of some extremely anticipated games like Star Wars 1313.  I felt it was the end of an era, because in its heyday, Lucasarts was one of the best PC game publishers in the world. It was truly sad to see it gone.

Hope you all had a wonderful May the Fourth, and we will have all new content for you soon!