Character Focus: Danicka Raburnus

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great weekend.

This Mother’s Day my kids wrote me poems and stories, drew me pictures, cards, and books. My son even made me a coaster to hold my drink. And my husband? He and my children got me character art commissioned for my favourite Pathfinder Society character!

I’ve never had character art for a character of mine before. My kids and I have drawn pictures of some of our characters on occasion. And sure, a picture here or there might inspire us to make a character similar in appearance. But custom professional art? Unheard of! So it was with great shock and surprise I awoke to discover my family had somehow procured gorgeous art of my beloved -1 PFS character. 

Clearly I have a wonderful family and am beyond spoiled. Today I’m going to share that art with you!

Introducing Danicka Raburnus and her vicious dog, Prickles!

Danicka-and-Prickles
Danicka Raburnus and Prickles. Original characters of mine for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play program. Art by the amazing Joe Nittoly

Danicka Raburnus was my very first Pathfinder Society character. My -1. I had played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and other RPGs for a long time before making Danicka, but she was the first character meant for organized play. She marked my entry into the Pathfinder Society, and was the first in a series of wonderful characters, delightful roleplaying, and exciting adventures.

Danicka is… far from perfect. When it came time to create Danicka I wanted to do something different. Everyone has characters who are attractive, intelligent, healthy, brave, and so on. People who are special. Heroes. They’re not all perfect, and many have a flaw or two, but they usually have quite a few redeeming qualities. I’ve got plenty, myself. So when it came time to make Danicka I wanted to create a character who was different than those I’d made before. Someone who wasn’t a hero. Who wasn’t special. Someone hopelessly flawed and regrettably forgettable. Someone who wanted to be special, who wanted to be the hero, but just wasn’t.

I have a soft spot for making, strong, independent, female characters. I love playing half-orcs and dwarves. I love bards, rogues, oracles, and sorcerers. Adaptable characters with a flaw or two, and a bit of a scoundrel’s streak.

So I went out of my way to make Danicka different.

I made her a wizard, which I rarely do. And I went out of my way to make her as unremarkable as possible. She has an archetype that prevents her from having a familiar or an arcane bond––qualities that make her feel inferior to her fellow wizards and spellcasters. She learned spells that are visually unremarkable. No fireballs or flashy magic for this girl! She was intelligent and wise, but too shy and nervous to speak her mind.

I never use complimentary words to describe her. I don’t call her pretty, or fit, or athletic, or slender. She’s not even skinny. She’s scrawny. Boney. Her hair is frazzled, limp, plain, or mousey. Her skin is not like porcelain, or alabaster. It’s pale, freckled, and ink-stained. Her clothes are nice but ill-fitting, out of fashion, and in dull colours. She doesn’t show off any skin, covering herself from neck to fingers and toes. She doesn’t even wear nice boots, just flimsy cotton shoes that flop and squelch wildly whenever they get wet. She wears a floppy hat on her head. She has poor vision and wears plain spectacles.

It’s not that these qualities are undesirable or unattractive. They’re not. It’s that I designed her to be average and blend in, and that I describe all of her qualities in as uncomplimentary a fashion as I can.

She shrieks in battle. Gets queasy. Stammers, stutters, whimpers, and whispers. Her efforts to make friends are awkward and almost always end in failure. She’s shy and meek. Easily scared (often terrified!). She faints on occasion (though never in a way or at a time that would hinder her mission or the game). She’s weak, awkward, and extraordinarily clumsy.

But amidst all those awkward and oddly endearing qualities, she’s a hero. Not outwardly. Certainly not obviously. But she’s a good person. She won’t take a life. Ever. And she won’t condone it from her allies. In fact, wanton violence, destruction, theft, and other illegal deeds are among the only things that she’ll speak out against. She’d rather remove an enemy from a fight than cause someone harm. I gave her merciful spell as a feat to ensure her few damage dealing spells aren’t lethal. She’ll stabilize unconscious enemies, hurl herself into danger to protect someone else, and is always the first person to offer healing potions to the wounded. She’s generous and kind. She won’t lie and always gives her enemies a chance to surrender.

So, who was Danicka? Where did she come from? And what make such an ordinary, meek woman want to be a hero?

Danicka was born to a hero. Her mother, Portia Raburnus, was a wizard of great renown who helped saved the city of Magnimar not just once, but on three occasions. Danicka has always wanted to be just like her mother, and grew up studying the arcane arts. Her mother passed away five years ago, right before Danicka began her formal training at the local magical academy, Stone of Seers. Danicka always keeps her mother’s arcane bonded item with her—a highly decorative quarterstaff that looks remarkably like a broom. She had hoped to use the broom as her own arcane bonded item, but could never manage to make it work.

Danicka did well in school, but despite her academic achievements she was constantly overlooked—for Danicka was ordinary looking, and incredibly shy. Regrettably forgettable. Most people don’t even remember Portia Raburnus had a daughter.

Danicka’s recently graduated and set out to finally prove herself brave and bold! A hero, like her mother! She marched right into the local Pathfinder Lodge and demanded a job. Unfortunately, her demand came out a nervous whisper and they hired her as a maid. But, sweeping the floors used by bolder souls with her mother’s broom isn’t enough for Danicka Raburnus! She’s going to prove herself one day! Maybe after she’s done cleaning up the common room…

Danicka is incredibly shy. She speaks rarely, and when she does its in a whisper. She’s constantly trying to work up the courage to be louder, to make friends, and to do something, but her attempts at friendship always come out in awkward stuttering bursts, and her attempts to speak her mind end up with her randomly yelling something (and then losing the courage to finish). She’s easily embarrassed and was bullied on occasion in school (when her classmates could be bothered to remember she was there).

Danicka studies hard and loves to learn new things. She knows she’s a young woman of many flaws and is trying desperately to change. She wants to be brave and bold, but has yet to break out of her shell and really be herself.

Mechanically, she’s a wizard with the exploiter wizard archetype that’s a member of the Silver Crusade faction of the Pathfinder Society. She took the traits tireless logic and volatile conduit. Her beginning feats were eschew materials and merciful spell, although she later added spell focus (enchantment). She’s knowledgable and speaks a wide array of languages. For her first exploiter exploit she chose energy shield, although she never had the opportunity to use it until many adventures had passed. Some of her most commonly prepared low-level spells are daze, detect magic, read magic, comprehend languages, mage armour, shield, sleep, and merciful ray of frost or merciful magic missile. In time she learned that outsiders and undead were a threat her non-lethal methods couldn’t handle, so she started carrying a lethal wand, a few lethal scrolls, and some holy water around to combat such irredeemable threats.

I had intended to keep her a wizard for the entirety of her career, but along the way, things changed. Danicka changed.

After Danicka’s first mission in the world of play-by-post gaming, she was invited to join an ongoing campaign run by the delightful and incredibly talented GM ShieldBug. For a wonderful seven scenarios she had the pleasure of playing in a consistent group of awesome players. Her companions were very different from Danicka. Some were weird, some were liars, some were scoundrels, and most were violent. They pushed her buttons, shoved her out of her comfort zone, tested her morals, and urged her to change. With them she found her backbone. She found courage. She faced peer-pressure and discovered that there were things worth fighting for, even if it meant standing up to your allies. She made friends. She made enemies. She made mistakes. She became a hero. She saved people and towns.

Mostly, she was embarrassed.

But it wasn’t only Danicka that changed. Her friends did, too. She made them better people. And they made her brave.

On one of her adventures she was forced to interact with terrifying, man-eating, Thuvian desert dog. Miraculously she bonded with it, though it terrified her to no end. Later in the scenario she was forced to face the dog in combat, and she managed to convince him to stand down. The mission came to an end and I was faced with a turning point. Move on? Or keep the dog?

Danicka kept the dog. She named him Prickles, for his spiky fur (matted with the blood of his enemies) and terrifying demeanour. Although I could have just bought a dog and remained a wizard, I chose to multiclass Danicka into druid. I selected another understated archetype (the wonderful wild whisperer!) that removed some of the flashier of the druids abilities and replaced it with investigator’s inspiration and talents. She began to take ranks in handle animal, and survival. She used her druid spell slots to prepare healing magic. She took the feat boon companion, and statted up Prickles as a wolf.

Danicka spent the next while attempting to tame her vicious dog. I took great glee in role-played her fear of her own pet, and her worry that it will hurt someone. Prickles is clearly the alpha of the duo, but he usually listens to Danicka’s pleas. That said, out of fear, Danicka never tells Prickles to attack anyone. She’s too afraid she won’t be able to stop him from killing. Instead, she orders him to stay by her side. Mechanically, Prickles has the bodyguard archetype. He’s always on ‘defend’ and won’t enter a fight unless Danicka is hurt. However, if she’s hurt he flies into a rage and attacks whoever wounded her until they’re dead. Usually Danicka hurls herself between the enemy and her dog before they are devoured, but once or twice Prickles killed something––an event which filled Danicka with great regret. For his part, Prickles is used to his ‘pet’s’ panicked shrieks and mewling. But he’s incredibly territorial and won’t stand for anyone touching his ‘pet.’ Not even her allies. He’s a bit cantankerous, and won’t take ‘orders’ from anyone other than Danicka. And he only listens to Danicka if she begs.

All in all, they’re a comical pair, with my shy wizard desperately trying to handle her overwhelming pet.

On her most recent missions, Danicka’s had to bid her old friends farewell. She’s gone on new adventures with new teammates. Only Prickles has remained by her side. But, despite the distance, it’s her old friends that continue to drive her and inspire her. Mhazruk Kruhl and his terrifying familiar Needle, the burly Yaiho Crasher, the tap-dancing escaped-slave Forrest Glavo, the eccentric Arin Qualnoh blessed (or perhaps cursed) by the gods, and Brock Swiftread, a scoundrel if there ever was one. They’re the closest thing to family she’s ever had.

So here’s to Danicka and Prickles, and all the people and characters who have made her who she is. Here’s to the people who have GMed for her and played alongside her. The people who have put up with her panicked shrieks and bleeding heart. Here’s to my family, who brought one of my very favourite characters to life. And here’s to Joe Nittoly, the amazing artist who drew her. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you again! You’re the best!

And here’s to all of you, for taking the time to read about one of my favourite characters. Maybe I’ll see you around a PFS table one day.

Cheers!

Jessica

Happy Mother’s Day

Good morning, everyone!

My family and I would like to take the time to wish all of the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day! Admittedly, we’d also like to remind everyone else to do something special for the mothers in their lives. (Don’t forget!)

I’d stay to chat, but I’ve got a whirlwind day! My family and I spent yesterday out watching Detective Pikachu in the movie theatre. Today we’re having my husband’s family over for lunch and… Well, I have no idea what else my kids and husband have planned for me. In all honesty, as long as I get to take the day off of chores, I’m a happy woman.

Have a great day!

Jessica

Dead Suns Dice Set

Well, would you look at this?

Dead Suns Dice 1
Dead Suns Dice Set
Dead Suns Dice 2
Dead Suns Dice Set

I never expect a gift for Easter. It’s a time to give treats and small gifts to kids. Chocolates and candy and books. So imagine my surprise when my husband and kids gave me an Easter gift. A gorgeous set of dice.

.JPGDead Suns Dice

A vibrant dark blue with orange numbers and designs, these beautiful dice are highly detailed. Made by Q Workshop for the Starfinder Dead Suns Adventure Path, it contains a d4, d6, d8, d10, percentile, d12, and d20. The standard seven dice set.

Dead Suns Dice 4
Dead Suns Dice Set
Dead Suns Dice 5
Dead Suns Dice Set

They’re easy to read and look amazing at the table. I own a lot of dice, but the Dead Suns Dice Set is right up there with my very favourite sets. In fact, it’s tied with my Iron Gods Dice Set (also by Q Workshop) for my favourite dice. I love them!

Here’s hoping they bring me some luck!

The Dead Suns Adventure Path consists of six adventures:

To check out more of Q Workshop’s amazing dice head over to their website. To find out more about the Dead Suns Adventure Path head over to Paizo’s website or watch the trailer for the Dead Suns Adventure Path below.

Gotta fly! I’ve got some new dice to roll!

Jessica

 

Happy Easter!

My daughter’s obsessed with rabbits.

Seriously.

So it should come as no surprise that Easter is her very favourite holiday. Stores that she would normally take no interest in are packed full of rabbit clothes, rabbit knick-knacks, rabbit pictures — rabbit everything! Add to that the chocolate, the treats, the family celebrations, and the high probability someone will give her a new stuffed rabbit, and she couldn’t be happier.

And then yesterday she got sick. Headache, nausea, stomach pain, fatigue. Nothing fun. The poor dear’s curled up on the couch whimpering on her favourite day of the year.

So we’re having a quiet Easter this year. I’m resting at home with my family, comforting my daughter, trying to prevent my son from gorging himself on chocolate, and tidying up the house.

But, we’re taking some time out of our (not) busy day to say thanks.

THANKS.

And thanks again.

Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, and however you celebrate, we’d like to take the time to wish you a Happy Easter. (Or as my daughter would say if she was feeling better: “HOPPY Easter! BOING BOING!”).

For those of you who don’t celebrate Easter, we’d like to wish you a wonderful day.

All the best!

Jessica
(and family)

Happy Easter!

Dungeon Mayhem

My kids love games of all kinds. Not surprising, I know. Most kids love games of one kind or another. But mine REALLY love games. This year for their birthdays they decided that they have enough toys. What they wanted was some new board games.

“But, awesome board games, Mom. Really good ones.”

So they did some research, made lists, did some more research, discovered a love of Dice Tower, and revised their lists until they each had a (much too long) list of board games they wanted. Although our birthday celebrations aren’t over yet, they’ve both had a few parties with family and were thrilled to find they got some new games. Most of what they asked for are large, complex games. But a few are short, easy to learn card games. You can expect to see a lot of board game reviews in the coming weeks, but today we’re starting short and sweet, with Dungeon Mayhem!

Dungeon Mayhem

Dungeon Mayhem is a Dungeons & Dragons card game for 2 to 4 players. Games are short and fast-paced, with a round averaging about five minutes. It’s a small, portable game, with the rectangular box about the size of my hand. It’s the perfect size to bring with you on the go or play in compact spaces. We bring it to the laundromat, for example. Intended for ages eight and up Dungeon Mayhem lets players take on the role of an iconic hero and battle it out.

The game is super easy to learn and surprisingly fun to play. First, you choose a character. Each comes with their own unique deck of cards, hit point card and tracker, and a reference card. Youngest player goes first and play continues clockwise. You start with three cards in your hand. On your turn you draw a card and play a card. You start with 10 hp and when you reach 0 hp you’re out of the game. Last adventurer standing wins.

Contents 2
Box contents!

There are four heroes to choose from: Sutha the Skullcrusher (a female half-orc barbarian), Azzan the mystic (a male human wizard), Lia the Radiant (a female elf paladin), and Oriax the Clever (a male tiefling rogue). Each adventurer has their own deck that plays differently, but with the same basic mechanics so it’s easy to pick up any one and just play. Each card features illustrations by Kyle Ferrin showcasing the different characters in a fun-loving, cartoony style. Many cards have clever, entertaining, or familiar names. The cards each have a variety of symbols on them which tell you what each card does. The symbols are all easy to understand and, if you ever forget what they do, each character has their own unique reference card to remind you.

There are five symbols that appear in every character’s deck. A swords deals one damage to an opponent, a shield blocks one damage dealt to you, a heart heals one hp, a card lets you draw one card, and a lightning bolt lets you play one extra card. Although some cards in the decks contain a single symbol on them, most have a combination or two or three symbols. These symbols appear in different combinations and quantities throughout the decks, making each one different. The paladin’s deck has a lot of healing, for example, while the rogue’s lets you play a lot of cards, and the barbarian is the only character who can do four damage at once to a single enemy. In addition, each deck has a few unique symbols and cards. Sutha the Skullcrusher can deal one damage to each enemy and then gain that much hp with her Whirling Frenzy while the wizard Azzan can swap life totals with another player by playing Vampiric Touch.

Contents

There’s a few other rules to the game, but not many. Typically when you play a card it gets discarded, but if you play a shield card it instead is placed on the table in front of you. For each damage it prevents it gets a damage counter, and when it’s been completely destroyed the shield card is removed from play and placed in the discard pile. If you happen to use up all the cards in your hand (you’ll need lightning bolt cards to do this, which let you play an extra card on your turn) you can draw two additional cards. And if your deck ever runs out you simply reshuffle it and keep playing.

Pretty simple!

While playing we found that this game was super simple to learn, teach, and understand. You get the hang of it quick, and games are fast and exciting. Since you’re battling each other there’s definitely a ‘take that’ feel to this game. Some rounds you’ll feel picked on if you get defeated quick, but others are more balanced. It just depends on the strategies of your opponents at the time. My kids often decided the best strategy was to kill me and then duke it out themselves, so I was brutally ganged up on a lot. Haha. They quickly realized this was a poor strategy when my husband also joined play, as he often teamed up with me so that he didn’t have to combat a pair of allied kids on his own. (How the tables have turned!) My daughter is an expert at the old ‘kick them when they’re down’ strategy, very often dealing ruthless finishing blows against whoever happens to be doing the worst. …Even if it might be against her brother who she was supposedly allied with. Clever girl. Haha.

The decks are fun, varied, and balanced. No one deck it better than the other, they’re just different. Although it’s not immediately apparent what the differences are between the decks it becomes clear pretty quick. Lia, the paladin, deals a lot of damage and heals a lot of her own wounds. Her special abilities include Divine Inspiration, which lets her put any card from her discard pile into her hand and then heal two hp and Banishing Smite which destroys all shield cards in play and then lets her play an additional card. This was my daughter’s favourite deck, and my second favourite deck. While my daughter prefers Divine Smite and her beloved steed Fluffy, I’m a big fan of the Finger-wag of Judgement and Divine Inspiration. This deck is tough to take down and enjoyable to play.

Paladin
Some of the paladin’s cards.

While my daughter and I loved the paladin, my son and I both decided the rogue, Oriax, was out favourite deck. Packed full of cards that let you take extra actions, this deck often lets you play more cards than your opponents. It’s also got some enjoyable tricks, particularly with Clever Disguise, a card that prevents you from being targeted by any cards until the start of your next turn. It’s particularly great for forcing your allies to duke it out at the start of the game, which is likely to result in them retaliating against each other in subsequent rounds. A nice little start! We also really like using Pick Pocket to play a card from someone else’s deck. Need healing? Grab a card from the paladin. Want to wreck your opponent? Snag a card from the barbarian. Want to get a nice full hand or play something tricky? Take a card from the wizard. Sure, it won’t always be what you were hoping for, but I’ve never seen it not be useful. One downside to the rogue is that he only has one way to heal himself: Stolen Potion. Although it lets you heal one hp and play another card (which is great) it does mean that when you’re low on health it’s hard to save yourself. One hp once in a while doesn’t do much. I also love Sneak Attack. It’s art and theme bring a smile to my face every time. Haha.

Thief
Some of the rogue’s cards.

It should come as no surprise that the barbarian’s deck deals a lot of damage. In fact, they have the only card in the game that can do four damage against one enemy (Rage). They also have the awesome Whirling Axes, which we mentioned earlier. What might be surprising is how balanced it is. It’s got some solid shield cards (my daughter loves the dogs Riff and Raff), ways to draw cards (Open the Armory and Snack Time), ways to heal (Snack Time and Whirling Axes) and ways to destroy a shield with one card (Mighty Toss). Although none of us named this deck as our favourites, it also turned out to be the most played deck and both my son and husband’s second favourite decks. Sutha is a fearsome foe!

Barbarian
Some of the barbarian’s cards.

Which leaves us with the wizard. At first glance, Azzan’s deck is the most balanced. He can do everything well, but doesn’t have the most of anything either. Burning Hands and Lightning Bolt are some of his most reliable damage dealing cards. Magic Missile is my favourite, as it lets you deal one damage and play an extra card. Stoneskin and Mirror Image are great shield cards. Knowledge is Power gets him a lot of extra cards while Speed of Thought helps him play those cards fast. His one downside is a lack of healing cards. Eventually we came to realize he does have the most of something very important: TRICKS. His three unique cards include Vampiric Touch, which we already mentioned. This card lets him swap hp totals with another player — which can be game changing. Charm lets him take someone else’s shield card that’s on the table and use as his own — also awesome. And Fireball deals three damage to every player (including himself). My daughter’s prone to hoarding fireballs, using Charm to steal someone else’s defences, and then blasting a bunch of fireballs to kill everyone at once while she hits behind her stolen shields. Cheeky thing. Haha. Although Azzan’s deck is just as easy to use as everyone else’s, it’s also the deck that is most rewarding when played with some forethought.

Wizard
Some of the wizard’s cards.

We really enjoyed Dungeon Mayhem. It’s not a complex, tactical game like some of our others, but it’s a fun, quick, romp you can bring with you anywhere. We hope they come out with an expansion that contains another two or four decks. It’d be great to have more deck choices and play with more than four players. Happily, this deck was quite affordable. Our copy was only $18 Canadian. Well worth the money.

Jessica

Dungeon Mayhem Contents
Some of our favourite cards for each deck.

 

Many Happy Birthdays!

My kids have a birthday this month.

Both of them.

It’s on the same day (although they’re not the same age) but that doesn’t mean their birthday is over quick. My husband and I have a small house but a big family, so it’s not just one birthday party for the pair of them. It’s one birthday party for the pair of them at least four times. Add to that a convention, work dinner, and parties with their friends, and suddenly the whole month is gone. Plus there’s my brother, grandpa, niece, and nephew, who all ALSO have a birthday this month.

March is crazy around here.

But today I’m taking the time to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to the two goofiest, sweetest, most imaginative kids I know. Why on my blog? Because they wanted the world to know they are now the very dignified ages of seven and eight.

Milestones, I know. Haha.

While we’re at it, why not spread the cheer further? My birthday kids want to wish a Happy Birthday to all of you, no matter where you are or when it falls.

All the best!

Jessica
(and family)

Birthday Cake 1
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

D&D Starter Set

For Valentine’s Day my seven-year old son received the D&D Starter Set. He was pretty proud of this turn of events, as it marked the very first d20 product he has ever personally owned. He has some hand-me-down books, of course. And he reads my books all the time, but this one? This one was HIS.

Today we’re going to take quick look at the contents of the D&D Starter Set, and let you know what we thought. For more information on our experiences playing through the D&D Starter Set, tune in later this week!

The D&D Starter Set comes in a high quality, really nice looking box that is deeper than necessary. Although this might seem like a waste, at first, it’s not. The box is the perfect size to also place a D&D Player’s Handbook in, which any fan of the D&D Starter Set is going to want to do pretty quick. You can also fit in a notebook and a few pens, which is also a must have. Being able to pack all of that up in the box is great.

Inside the box you’ll find a set of beautiful little dice, swirled in shades of vibrant blue, with bright white numbers. The dice are really nice looking and incredibly easy to read — which is a must! I despise dice you have to squint at just to figure out what they say. Not that it matters what I think, since the dice belong to my son. Happily, he loves them, ranking them as his very favourite set of dice (he owns two sets and a variety of extra dice of all kinds). There are six dice total: a d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4. There is no percentile dice in this set, or extra d20, which is a little unfortunate. It’s always nice to have a second d20 for all those advantage and disadvantage rolls.

Starter Set Dice
Dice from the D&D Starter Set

Beneath the dice is the D&D Starter Set Rulebook. 32 pages long, this 8 1/2″ by 11″ booklet contains all the rules needed to play and run a game of Dungeons and Dragons. The first seven pages explain how to play D&D, the six ability scores, and their uses, as well as advantage, disadvantage, and so on. After that there’s six pages on combat, six pages on adventuring (including equipment), four pages on spellcasting, a description of all the spells mentioned in the D&D Starter Set, and finally, the back page is an appendix that lists conditions. The book does it’s job well, providing enough information without overwhelming players too much. That said, it doesn’t contain any information on creating your own characters, so anyone who wants to move on from the Starter Set into regular D&D will need to pick up the D&D Player’s Handbook.

The second booklet in the D&D Starter Set is an adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver. This adventure is a whopping 64 pages long — much longer than I expected from a starter set! I was really impressed. The adventure is split into four major parts: The opening ambush and a small dungeon crawl, time socializing and solving problems in the town of Phandalin, a sandboxy exploration of the surrounding wilds where your players can further investigate the quests they may have taken on, and the finale, a final large dungeon crawl. Before the adventure is an introduction, which gives a quick run down of how DMing works, and explains how to go about it. At the end of the adventure is an appendix containing all the magic times found in the adventure, and a second appendix which contains details on all the monsters and enemies found in the adventure. Finally, the back page of the booklet is a rules index, which lists different rules and the page numbers that they can be found in the Starter Set Rulebook.

D&D Starter Set Contents
Contents of theD&D Starter Set

Lost Mine of Phandelver is a fun adventure. It’s got a simple opening premise that’s easy to attach a wide variety of characters to, and has a good balance of combat, exploration, investigation, and social encounters. The plot line is easy to follow, and contains a few twists. It’s not overly complex and will appeal to a wide audience. Throughout the adventure there are plenty of notes for DMs, which give further guidance, rules references, and advice. This is super handy for new DMs and was really well handled.

The town of Phandalin was interesting, but I found it a bit brief. The only locations detailed are those where the PCs can pick up quests, which is unfortunate. That said, this adventure isn’t made for me, it’s made for new DMs. And for new DMs? There’s more than enough details, information, and NPCs to work with. Plenty of the townsfolk have tasks and information they can give players, links to other organizations (which can be used for continuing the campaign after you’re done with the Starter Set), plus there’s some trouble in town the players can stumble into on their own. Many of these quests can be completed in the region surrounding Phandalin, in Part Three of the adventure.

There’s some nice maps in Lost Mine of Phandelver, and art representing all of the monsters that need it (although not all of the monsters total). A few humanoid enemies are also illustrated, although none of the NPCs are. I really wish there was art for at least one of them — Silas Hallwinter, for example — but despite lacking art, each NPC in the book has a line or to about their physical appearance and behaviour, so DMs aren’t adrift.

Overall, Lost Mine of Phandelver is a fun beginner’s adventure with lots for player’s to do. It showcases the major types and styles of D&D, and weaves it all together in an entertaining and coherent story. I was really pleased with the adventure’s length. Groups will get more than a few play sessions out of this one, which is really nice to see.

This brings us to the final components contained in the D&D Starter Set: pre-generated characters. This box contains five already made characters. A neutral good hill dwarf cleric soldier, a lawful good human fighter folk hero, a lawful neutral human fighter noble, a neutral lightfoot halfling rogue criminal, and a chaotic good high elf wizard acolyte. The character sheets are easy to read and understand. Abilities are explained right on them, with more information on each one’s race, class, and background on the back of the sheet. Each of these characters has their own personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws which is simple to understand and really useful for roleplaying the characters. As the adventure will allow you to get multiple level ups, the back also has detailed information on what each character gains at each level. The best part? Each of the characters feels unique and fun, and none of them have names or genders. Which is great! Each player gets to decide their personal identity, and add those finishing touches themselves. I thought the characters were all really nicely done. The only downside? Whoever plays the wizard will need to make use of the Starter Set Rulebook to find information on their spells.

Which is it! The entire contents of the D&D Starter Set! This little box is packed full of fun, with everything you need to get started playing D&D. The dice are gorgeous, the rulebook is useful but not overwhelming, the adventure is fun, varied, and much longer than I expected, and the characters are well-made and enjoyable to use. The only thing this starter set lacks? A play mat and minis, but technically you don’t need those to play D&D. They really add to the game, though, so player’s who continue on to play D&D are likely to wish they had some. But, the best part of the D&D Starter Set? The cost! This box is an amazing value! We picked ours up for only $15 Canadian, which is only a few dollars more than the cost of a set of dice. Getting the rules and a good sized adventure in there, as well, makes this a great deal. I highly recommend the D&D Starter Set for anyone interested in learning how to play D&D, or for anyone who just wants a nifty new adventure and some cool dice. Well worth the investment!

Thanks for joining us today. We’ll talk again soon when we discuss our experiences playing through the D&D Starter Set adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.

Until then,

Jessica