Commentary, discussion, and nonsense about tabletop roleplaying games.


D&D Beer Pairing: The Monk

We’ve made it the sixth entry in our D&D beer pairing series. This of course means we’ve landed on the monk this time. To be clear, the D&D monks are usually presented as martial artists with a spiritual side, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the non-roundhouse kicking variety of monk’s who have a long and storied history with beer. Rest assured we’ll touch on both. As usual, I’ve got licensed cicerone, Jessica Clare, here with me to give you an expert’s perspective…


RPG Review: Blood Queen’s Defiance (A DM-less Adventure)

First things first: this article is spoiler free.

About a week ago, Limitless Adventure Games announced a kickstarter for their new 5e DM-less adventure: Journey to Beryl’s Reach. Thing is, a game without a DM usually wouldn’t appeal to me. I would probably classify myself first as a game master, and a RPG player character as a distant second. I like the cohesive style and vision you get from a single, dedicated dungeon master. I’ve played a few single player TTRPGs, and while some of them are decent, it’s not close to the same experience as being at a table with actual people. However, I decided to check out the precursor to Beryl’s Reach, The Blood Queen’s Defiance to see how their no DM required system works. The PDF had a bunch of encounters, so I figured I could re-purpose even if I didn’t like it as a master-less game…


D&D Beer Parings: The Fighter

More beer pairing! We’re pairing every D&D 5e class with a beer, and we’ve come to the fighter. That’s right, we’re finding the perfect brew for these beefy front-liners. I’m not sure how much priming I have to do for fighters as the name basically says it all. I’m once again talking to Jessica Clare, licensed cicerone, to get an expert’s perspective…


10 Flavorful Village Features

In all my years of playing D&D, I can remember a slew of fantastic dungeons, castles, and temples. What I have a harder time remembering are the little hamlets and villages my character stopped in along the way. Maybe there’s a memorable NPC or two within, but the towns themselves sort of blur together. There’s a smithy, a general store, and maybe a friendly church to buy potions from, but beyond that, I’m struggling to recall a single one that really stood out.

Granted there are some notable exceptions. The village of Hommlet and Saltmarsh come to mind, but if your players are just passing through on their way to their next deadly dungeon, what hope is there that they’d ever think of a place again…


D&D Beer Pairings: The Druid

I think it’s about time to do another beer and class pairing. Once again I’m talking to licensed cicerone Jessica Clare.

We’ve worked our way to the druid. These mysterious mystics channel primal forces to cast spells and transform in wild beasts. They have an aversion to metal, so they’re known to use weapons made of bone. They pretty much won’t ever shut up about nature. So, I suppose they’re the type who would care if you used corn syrup to make your beer…


A Non-RPG Review? Dark Force Incursion

A little insight into my personal life. When non-initiated friends or family members ask me what Charmstone Games is, I tell them it’s a boardgame company. In the broadest possible sense, that’s sort of true. The problem is, if you don’t know what an RPG is, it takes too long to explain and it probably won’t come across anyway. So if you’re not already in the know, you probably come away thinking I talk about Monopoly and try to think up new ways to play Monopoly.

The other day, the fine folks over at Dark Realm Maps asked me to review their game Dark Force Incursion. I was torn at first, as I’ve been pretty much sticking exclusively to TTRPG content. However, it’s my dang site, and I can talk about whatever I want. I’ve played the game and now I’m gonna tell you about it. While playing, I also came up with a way to incorporate Dark Force Incursion to your next role-playing session. Everybody wins, let’s get to it…


The Worst Ancient Greece Has to Offer: Fantasy Races

I’ve been playing a good deal of Magic: The Gathering recently. If you haven’t, the current set is themed after Ancient Greece. It’s filled with hydras, oracles, demigods- pretty much everything you need for an epic Hellenistic setting. And like Wizard’s of the Coast have done with their Ravnica setting, they’re releasing a D&D source book so you can live out your Greco-Roman fantasies in your next 5e campaign. But these campaign settings always create a little boom cycle where independent publishers and developers release compatible supplements to meet the demands of content starved Dungeon Masters.

I’ve been on a kick here recently making real world historical comparisons to D&D topics, so I’m going to roll with that again this week. I’m going to beat everyone to the punch and hook you up with some primo Ancient Greek monsters you can put in your next game…


Spicing Up Town Guards

Back in the heyday of 3.5e, they used to sell miniatures with stat cards for use in D&D wargame, but were also usable as monsters or NPCs in the core game. I had a binder with several pages of these cards, so if I ever needed some stats on the fly, I’d have them handy. I think the single card that got the most use was the ‘Town Guard.’ We had a particularly unruly dwarf in the party, so town guards would need to show up fairly often to keep the peace.

In most games I’ve played, guards behave more or less like a modern metropolitan police organization. They patrol the streets, arrest criminals, and control crowds. However, this configuration wasn’t particularly common in a medieval setting. Policing as we know it now, didn’t really become the standard until the 1800s. Today I’d like to dive into how law enforcement functioned in a feudal setting. You can use this to add extra flavor to your home brew, or perhaps make a group like one of the following a part of your next character’s backstory…


D&D Beer Pairings: The Cleric

I think it’s about time to pair another D&D class with a beer. We’re up to the cleric now. You can catch up with the Barbarian and Bard if you’re so inclined.

Traditionally, clerics buff and heal other party members. They’re usually heavily armored damage sponges. But at their core, they’re living avatars of a deity, so they can run the gamut of personality types. While the generic cleric tends to be a blessed do-gooder, it’s also common to see evil death cultist clerics working in the service of some foul god. Just like in our previous editions, we’ve got licensed cicerone Jessica Clare with us to give us an expert point of view…


Let’s Get Weird With Self-Inserts

If you ever find yourself perusing the r/rpghorrorstories message board, one dreaded trope appears again and again: the self-insert non-player character. Yes friends, the most cringe of all DM mistakes is to place a thinly veiled version of one’s own self into the action alongside the heroic player characters. Typically, the self-insert is overpowered, near omniscient with their insights, and beloved by all across the land. Maybe the DM is exercising some wish-fulfillment, narcissism, and/or would rather be a player in the first place. Whatever the reason, it’s almost always bad and at least a little embarrassing.

 But what if we got weird with it?


D&D Beer Pairings: The Bard

We’re continuing our series pairing each of the 12 base D&D classes with beers. You can catch up on our first entry, The Barbarian, here. We’ve once again tapped (pun intended) Jessica Clare, General Manager at Cleophus Quealy Beer Company and licensed cicerone, to give us her expert opinion…


5 Real World Traps to Draw Inspiration From

Sadly, in most cases, D&D traps are usually more exciting than real world ones. No tombs ever had poison darts triggered by pressure plates or stairs that suddenly retract to slide unwary victims down to their doom.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get some ideas from devious traps from history. I’m going to run down 5 very real and very interesting examples you can take for your next game…


Beyond Mushrooms: Imagining A Better Underdark Ecology

Some of D&D’s most iconic monsters and villains make their homes deep underground. There’s entire dark cities, Duergar fortresses, and Mindflayer laboratories all connected by a near endless network of tunnels, caverns, and cave systems. In this nefarious subterranean system they make their evil plots and wage brutal campaigns of conquest, unbeknownst to the surface dwellers above. For all the life and activity down there, there sure isn’t a lot of information about what fuels these creatures. Specifically I’m talking about their food…


Inside the World of Training Pet Monsters

If you haven’t been in a group that tried to train and keep a monstrous pet, then you are in for a treat. This ubiquitous trope always seemed like a horrible idea to me: vicious pet chimpanzees that mauled their owners’ faces sprang to mind. But, players can’t seem to stay away from this tempting challenge. Just how difficult is it to train and care for a vicious D&D monster? Animal expert and zoo keeper Mike Marazzi sounds off…


Image credit https://twitter.com/Taldoz1

D&D Beer Pairings: The Barbarian

When listening to Dungeon Masters talk about their games, you hear a few terms bandied about. RP heavy, rules agnostic, beer and pretzels etc. Today, I’m most interested in that last one. Well, that last one minus the pretzels. Since every other campaign begins in a tavern, I think it’s important that we consider what fuels many adventures: beer…


Welcome to Charmstone

Friend, this is the golden age of D&D and TTRGPs in general. You’ve got Critical Role with millions of viewers and a freshly inked Amazon cartoon deal. Stranger Things has foregrounded the hobby, and live games sell out concert halls across the country. An entire universe of Etsy stores and blogs has sprung up, and I think this is all great. There’s no shortage of the content, however…