All posts by Marco Bertuzzo

Seventh Crown: Pretty damn cool

The heart of D&D is creation. You create your characters, you create the world, and you create your own fun. The more you choose to create, often, the more fun you have. This is why I have to give a big thumbs up to Seventh Crown by Brian Steele.  He not only created a campaign setting for him and his friends, but is now trying to get it kickstarted into a multi-platform campaign setting that we can all use. To me that is awesome, it’s thinkers like him that gave us Eberon, the Forgotten Realms, Pathfinder and even D&D itself if you go far back enough!

Every book needs a bloody knife on the cover.
Every book needs a bloody knife on the cover.

What Brian has done is to create an entire world and mythos, like DNDUI. Unlike DNDUI, Brian’s coherently (read: soberly) written history and world leap off of the page and scream to be investigated. After I saw only the cover art for the Seventh Crown I knew it was something I wanted to explore more.  Six crowns of power that imbue the power to lead a kingdom and a mythical seventh that could rule over them all. A setting rife with adventure. The campaign is a nice combination of high fantasy with some grittier elements thrown in. And my favourite part is that it feels like I want to play this setting from each kingdoms perspective, giving me a completely different feeling if I was an evil elf, a mercenary dragon-kin or a dwarf from a shrivelled kingdom dreaming of my former glory.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can not only help kickstart them, and get this book to you, but you can also help contribute to their story and help build what I’m looking forward to as a compelling and beautiful world. It’s just a shame, or maybe a saving grace, there is no Uthgar in there.

The Eternal DM problem

In the few short, but action packed, years that I have been DMing I have come across an eternal problem that I struggle with, and I am beginning to get the notion that It is a problem that every GM deals with in some sort of way.
This problem has to do with the difference between marco and micro elements of the story line. Currently the Charos (my party) are in the middle of some pretty spicey expose that is revealing large swathes of the world that they are in, and all I can think is “Are they bored of this? Do they just want to dungeon crawl where I/they can focus on traps and the minuteness of the game, or are they enjoying this? I know that the second I bring the party down to the other level, I will begin to think the opposite. “Is this too fine grit? Are they bored of the slog of the crawl?”
It is true that in a perfect world a story will be created and the GM can just make a story and then focus on the details of each session as the party progresses in the story, but it will never happen like that. Writing a campaign is not like writing a movie or a book, its a constantly evolving creature or improv where you, as a creator, have to bounce back and forth between thoughts of inter-kingdom politico games happening without the party’s privy, to what kind of club that kobold is brandishing.
It is this element that I find the most rewarding, yet incredibly taxing, like spinning plates.

You want to know the completely unrelated halfling's name in the bar? UUUUH OK, gimme a sec.
You want to know the completely unrelated halfling’s name in the bar? UUUUH OK, gimme a sec.

This problem is always compacted by the fact that in the game I am running I allow a lot of choice by the players, and they know it. This makes for a GREAT game where the players truly experience the fun of DND, knowing that they can build and dash kingdoms or story lines at their pleasure, but it also means that I can never really plan more than a session or two ahead of time, and Never in as much detail and I truly would like. I see all these other DMs with pre-built castles and lazer pointer table props for light puzzles and it makes me feel a bit deflated.

I am not really sure what the point of this post was, other than to remind you the struggles that a GM puts up with. When you leave your charachter at the table, you’re done if you want, however the GM’s work is just starting, they have to prep for next week! So, If you are enjoying your game, show your appreciation.  bring the GM a bag of cheetos for them, or tell them you lie their sotory, or even better yet, don’t kill that noble with the complex backstory they have just introduced, haha.

A Note About Fetishism

I once got into an argument with some very smart people about the nature of books in the emerging world. I argued that Books would become obsolete. The cost of the material goods, and the limitations that printed text brings would ultimately be the down fall of material books and digital files would emerge supreme for every day use. The only response was: “Yes but digital files don’t FEEL like a book, they don’t SMELL like a book” . Sure, this is true. But when you are in the marketplace looking for a book to read on the airplane, will you buy a $12.00 paperback, or a $2.00 digital download. Any preference for print would, at that point, be purely fetishistic.

I never really got the whole idea of the book as a fetish object, until very recently. I used to DM using only online resources made available to me through the wizards website and I was pretty content with it. I got access to every single monster, item, trap, you name it, ever made and it was all 100%  paperless. Then, I found out that I was getting the 5e manuals in physical copy. At first I scoffed, but I ended up stopping by a chapters one day with time to kill and I skimmed cover to cover, the 4e monster manual. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t fall in love. To pour over the illustrations, to know where everything is in the book, it was all so…pleasant. I want the manuals now more than anything else. I now understand those stories you head of retro geeks like Patton Oswalt carrying around manuals like safety blankets. It all kind of, in a near inexplicable way, makes sense to me.

I fell so deeply in love that I, frugal as I am, made a rare indulgence and bought the 1e ad&d monster manual, to combine my new fetish, physical books, with my old one, the love of the terrible early art and creatures of D&D. I t hasn’t even arrived and I know it will be one of my prized possessions.

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A Talk About Dragons

I just got through a really interesting Reddit post here.

…and it re-sparked a point that I have been trying to make with D’N’DUI for a while now. I feel that in the past, dragons have gone from giant monsters and a thing that you should be afraid of, to just another monster you can fight. In 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons, there is a type of dragon you can fight at FIRST LEVEL. Now, i found this chart of some dinosaurs:



and you see that red one that dwarfs the human? That will be the size of most of the elder dragons in my campaign. Epic dragons like Gygax, and a few others will be even larger, with much broader heads.

There is a trick to making things cool, especially in D&D, and that is rarity. Cool things aren’t a dime a dozen. Nobody has gotten a “cool” rub on tattoo. When you have a big monster, make it big, and when you have a mean monster make it mean.

Will the party ever kill a full dragon? Maybe, I guess we can only see.


– Marco out.