Playing D&D is similar to an actor preparing for a role. You aren’t you at the table, you’re someone else. Taking time to think, act, and live like your character before a session is a great way to get into their mindset. One way to really get a feel for your character is to travel as they do.
Walk or Hike
Traveling could be just about anything. Think about the types of travel portrayed in D&D games or fantasy books. One of the most prominent is long-distance walking and hiking. You could even keep it simple by going on a short walk. Walking and hiking lets you better connect with nature and the elements around you. It’s a great time to think like your character and be with yourself and thoughts. Plus, you get a feel for what it’s like to be outside like they are the majority of the time. Don’t only go out when it’s sunny. Adventuring is tough work and they don’t quit when it’s raining.
Hit the Road
Another way to get around in fantasy is using wagons or carriages. You don’t have to rent or find a carriage, just hop in a car and drive about. You could do one of two things to get in the mindset. One is to not bother with a destination. Just pick a direction and drive. The other is to know where you’re going but not use any GPS to get there. Travel by using a map or as if you were given vague directions until you reach your goal. Oftentimes, a party will be given a direction and landmark. Rarely is it ever a straight path to your goal.
All the while, be your character. What would they think of the journey? The sights? Sounds? Smells?
Spend the Night Somewhere Different
Characters are always staying at taverns, tents, or magically created homes. Another fun way to travel and get into your character’s mind is to stay somewhere new for the night. Having a different view or sleeping somewhere diverse gives you a more unique view of the world.
We’ve spent the night in a dark creepy forest once. It was definitely an experience and one we’ll never forget.
Traveling with your party or a friend at the table is highly recommended. It gives everyone a chance to bond and become their character while you’re all away. You don’t have to spend every moment as your character, but spending time here and there as them will help give you more insight into how they act in the game.
When you travel to get into the mindset of your character, focus on your senses. Everywhere you go focus on everything you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Taverns often have a reputation for being loud, but is that always the case when you stay at a hotel? Roads aren’t always smooth and you can often feel every bump as you travel along. What does the air smell like as you walk through the park?
Traveling is always an adventure. It doesn’t have to be an epic journey from point A to point B. Sometimes taking a walk in your own house or yard is all you need to get into the mind of your character.
The Hobbit is among one of our favorite books so when we heard Free League Publishing was making a Lord of the Rings tabletop game, we got excited. It’s like having the extended extended editions of all the movies in one, except you’re the Loremaster. The One Ring is as alive and vast as the world you see on screen and read on the page.
Right away the pages make it very clear that everyone around the table is part of telling the story. It isn’t just led by the Loremaster. Every player is there to be a part of the tale and make sure it’s a thrilling and memorable one.
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were.
The Lord of the Rings
The One Ring comes with a core rule book, and a starter set. The rule book is worthy of J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s a massive 248-page tome stuffed with everything you need to start adventuring in Middle-Earth. It’s also a rather pretty book with a stunning cover and beautifully drawn art inside. Every page feels like diving into The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings paperbacks. It’s a grand adventure.
Once you’re through creating a character and learning how to play, you can dive right into a quest. The final few pages contain a thrilling adventure called The Star of the Mist. It’s a journey that fits right into the lore of the Lord of the Rings and is a great starting point for a fellowship. It’s got bandits, dwarves, a dwarven city—a mine— a ghost, and a mystery to solve.
Going on an Adventure
Each game is split into two phases: the adventure and the fellowship. The first involves scenes related to building the overall plot. These can be a tense social encounter or a fight. Whereas the second phase is what happens between each adventure. Characters have time to take for themselves to rest and relax.
Free League enjoys using a d6 system and it’s featured in The One Ring as well. Though this time around, they’ve added a d12 to the mix. Characters have 18 skills they can use to overcome challenges and will use both d6—Success Die—and d12—Feat Die—to determine an outcome. The combined total of all the dice is compared to a target number (TN). If the rolled total is equal to or greater than the TN, the roll is a success; otherwise, it has failed.
Each Feat Die features a Gandalf rune (12) and the Eye of Sauron (11) rune. Gandalf’s rune is the greatest result you can get on a Feat Die and means you automatically succeed regardless of reaching or succeeding the TN. Whereas the Eye of Sauron icon is the worst result possible outcome, resulting in a zero on the Feat Die.
Being favored in a skill means you’re proficient in it. When using a skill, players roll one Feat die and a number of Success Dice equal to the Player-hero’s skill rank. Only one Feat die is rolled if a Player-hero is unskilled.
Instead of occupations or classes, The One Ring includes Callings. Callings are your character class and allow you to be as dextrous as Legolas, strong as Gimli, or wise and powerful as Galadriel. Callings range from Captain, Champion, Messenger, Scholar, Treasure Hunter, and Warden. Coupled with a Heroic Culture, this decides who you are in Middle-earth.
There are three Attributes in The One Ring: Strength, Heart, and Wits. Each score describes an adventurer’s physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. These are broken down to hit points, resisting spells, and the effects of dread.
Along the way, the fellowship gains access to a patron. This sponsor is the one who provides them with quests, items, and information to push the plot forward. They also allow you to re-roll dice, summon them to your aid, or other circumstances that aid the fellowship. It’s a fun system that brings back familiar characters such as Balin, Bilbo, and Gandalf the Grey.
Like Tolkien, The One Ring is a beast of a tabletop book. The fantasy author made everything feel spectacular and worthwhile. From the novels to the compendiums and the movies, the world of Lord of the Rings is massive and exciting to see. The One Ring makes it that much more excited to jump into and explore.
They say untold treasure lies within the forest of Davokar. That and corrupted beasts and shadows of former adventurers. Be it you’re the one looking for an Explorer’s License, I’ll not keep you from your quest. The dark forest awaits. Good luck out there.
Symbaroum is a dark fantasy tabletop roleplaying game from Free League Publishing. It’s set in a world where adventurers venture into the vast forest known as Davokar and search for fortune and glory. Players build a character and party up with others to explore, solve mysteries, and make a name for themselves in this dangerous world.
It follows similar tabletop tropes. You build a character, choose attributes to see what you’re good and bad at, select your archetype, and venture out into the unknown. One major difference is its dice system. Instead of rolling a d20 and aiming for a high number, you’ll want to do the opposite.
Building a character comes down to choosing from three archetypes: mystic, hunter, and warrior. Each one is broken down into occupations, of which there are numerous. Occupations are your character’s background and can be wizards, rangers, knights, sorcerers, duelists, sellswords, and more. Altogether there are 15 occupations.
From there you’ll select attributes and each is linked to the roll of a d20. They are broken down into the following categories: accurate, cunning, discrete, persuasive, quick, strong, resolute, and vigilant. These are what you’ll focus on throughout each session.
Welcome to the Upside Down –the D20
One of the most interesting features of Symbaroum is found in its d20 system. It’s built in such a way that you’ll need to roll low to succeed. It’s backward from other popular games out there.
Say for instance you want to pick a lock on a door and have a discreet of 13. You’d roll a discreet check versus the lock’s modifier of -3. The modifier subtracts 3 to your discreet attribute making it a total of 10 for this one moment. You would have to roll under 10 to successfully pick the lock.
This makes attacking targets rather more engaging as well. Each enemy and player character has a target defense that impacts the d20. To successfully hit a target, the roll has to be below the target value. Yet, armor and character abilities can affect the overall number as well. So, it’s not as simple as hitting that goal number sometimes.
Shadow and Corruption – Who turned out the lights?
Symbaroum utilizes shadows as a way to build tension and show the spread of corruption. Both work in tandem with one another and make for great role-play opportunities. Each character and creature in Symbaroum has a shadow cast by light. It’s when a creature has two shadows, people should begin to worry.
A creature with a second shadow is considered to be corrupted. This means, they have spent too much time in an area of heavy corruption, such as the forest of Davokar; they’ve messed with magic they should have stayed away from, or cast a spell. Once the corruption spreads too far, characters become supernatural beings and become part of the forest ecosystem.
The lore is as vast as the forest you’ll be exploring. Corruption spread throughout the land and Queen Korinthia searched for a place for her and her people. She established the kingdom of Ambria but it is at constant war with surrounding barbarian tribes and the monsters of the forest.
Those who wish to earn a living are tasked with venturing into the forest to find treasure, fight back the hordes of monstrosities, and defend the kingdom against barbarian attacks. There’s quite a bit to do in Symbaroum and plenty of quests and sessions to build multiple campaigns around.
Symbaroum is a thrilling tabletop experience that is wildly different from other tabletop games around. It can be daunting to figure out at first, like any tabletop game, but is worth it. The d20 system is engaging and makes you think about what skills to use in order to succeed. The world is dark and full of horrific monsters and it’s built upon such wonderful lore.
There are several books available from the Player’s Guide, Core Rulebook, Starter Set, and Alberetor the Haunted Waste adventure. Free League also makes Forbidden Lands, another excellent tabletop game.
Happy June or Loreix in Theretos, the world of our fantasy book series Thread of Souls! Things are heating up and we’ve got several hot announcements for Thread of Souls as well!
Thread of Souls Summer book release
We are putting the final touches on a standalone Thread of Souls book releasing later this summer. It’s a compendium featuring fantasy monsters and creatures found within Thread of Souls. Many of which have yet to make an appearance in the series. While others may be familiar to fans. It contains original art from Talia and a short description of each creature. Look forward to its release near the end of summer.
Thread of Souls Book IV: Asunder
We are editing Part II of Asunder putting us about two-thirds of the way through the entire book. Once we’re finished editing, we’ll move on to Part III at the end of the month.
We can call ourselves animators now as we are working on animations! Here’s an early draft of Ruuda Drybarrel swinging her sword and hammer. Many more animations are on the way!
We are still adding to our growing ARC team! If you love fantasy and/or TTRPG’s, reach out to become a member of our team. You’ll get free copies of the books to enjoy as well as merch as a thank you for supporting our book launches.
That’s what we’ve got going on for June! So much is going on here at Thread of Souls land and we’re excited to share more in the future!
We received a free copy of Rescuing Lulu from Elturel to review. All opinions are our own.
For the last few weeks we’ve had an awesome time diving into a new Dungeon Master Guild adventure titled Rescuing Lulu From Elturel. Authored by Hunter Stardust, this 65-page multiple-session adventure fits nicely into other campaigns. It specifically works well with Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, Tyranny of Dragons, and, of course, Descent into Avernus. Note that this is not necessarily a standalone adventure, and works best with a group that is playing Nine Hells-related questlines.
Rescuing Lulu from Elturel centers around a character-driven plotline. The sweet NPC Lulu (from Descent into Avernus) is kidnapped by one of three villains of the DM’s choosing. The goal of these villains is to sacrifice Lulu. The PC’s must give chase, traversing to the city of Elturel, exploring the city to find clues, and ultimately rescuing her in a climactic showdown at a wedding.
What makes this quite unique and fun is that this is an Elturel before its fall into Avernus. There is a sense of an impending catastrophe among the cultists of Zariel that PC’s can encounter as the cult prepares to enter Avernus. As stated by the author:
. . . familiarize the PCs with the places and citizens of Elturel in order to deepen their experience (and shock!) when they return after the city falls into Avernus. This adventure transforms Elturel into a sandbox with twenty-five historical locations for PCs to explore.”
When it comes to exploration, this adventure can be as short or as long as you really want it to be. Players might want to speed things along in the rescue of Lulu, but other parties might get more invested in the city and its denizens. This opens up a variety of optional sidequests that end in fun chases, intense battles, and even magical weapons!
From an analytical standpoint, this adventure is very well-organized. It comes as a Word doc and has a comprehensive Table of Contents. The pages are easy to read and the entire thing is easy to navigate. There are great tips for running this adventure, even including what miniatures to look for if you so choose. There is also a good focus on roleplaying to create memorable encounters and emotionally-driven choices.
Tabletop games such as Dungeons & Dragons offer endless opportunities for creative freedom. You’re free to use official books from Wizards of the Coast to craft a campaign or in the case of our epic fantasy book series Thread of Souls, make your world entirely homebrew. One of the best sources of homebrew material can be found on Dungeon Master’s Guild, where you can buy and sell your homebrew content.
As authors, we have several published DMs Guild supplements ranging from new enemies, adventures, and NPCs. If you’ve got an idea and want to share it with other like-minded individuals, DMs Guild is the way to go. Once you’ve finished creating your document, publishing to the platform is the next step and here’s how to do so.
Publishing to DMs Guild
Once you’ve created your own account, head to the main Account page. Scroll down to find the fifth sub-category titled My Content. Select Enter New Community Created Title to get started publishing.
The next page you’ll see is the Publisher Hub. The first step is to select which platform you’ll publish your supplement on. There are four categories to choose from: DMs Guild, Fantasy Grounds, Dungeoncraft, and Dungeoncraft Fantasy Grounds. Unless you’re already familiar with the other three, we suggest starting with just DMs Guild.
Side Note: Fantasy Grounds is for a virtual tabletop platform and is a little more of a process to set up. As is Dungeoncraft. So stick with DMs Guild for now until you feel comfortable or work with the fine folks at Grim Press to have your projects post on Fantasy Grounds.
Title, Author, Artist, and Price
Type in the title of your DMs Guild. We suggest something attention-grabbing as it will help it stand out. From there, choose the author, artist, and number of pages. The author will be yourself, and you only need to enter an artist if you’ve had anything hand-drawn. After that, you’ll choose the number of pages in the supplement and then select the price. It’s a good idea to look at what others have charged to get a ballpark price and you can add or subtract as you see fit. WotC does take a percentage from each sale you make, just to keep in mind.
Description and Cover Image
The product page text is where you’ll describe what your DMs Guild supplement is about. This could be a few sentences or a paragraph with pictures. Highlighting features of your project is always good to include here. If it has new NPCs or monsters, put it here as well.
The cover image is what everyone will see when they go to view your project. It should be visually pleasing and not too busy. Give it a title and a cool cover and you’re good to go. A good cover inspiration is using an official D&D book cover as a guide.
Side Note: Make sure you have the rights to all pictures you use. There are free images available through DMs Guild if you are looking for some. Or you could Canva, the platform we use for all of our designs.
Categories: Theme, Setting, Edition
The next section is where you’ll choose specific categories for your supplement. You’ll find Storylines, Adventures, Core Rues, Character Options, Gear and Magic Items, and more. These are broken down into their own smaller categories and basically, help you determine what is in your supplement. It has everything from adventure tiers, race, backgrounds, items, adventure theme, and edition.
Previews are to showcase specific pages of your supplement. The flipbook is a smaller preview that flips like the pages of a book. While the PDF preview is larger and allows viewers to scroll through pages of your project.
Once this section is complete, head back to the main Account page. Select the Upload/Update Files and find your DMs Guild title. Make sure it’s saved as a PDF and attach it to the drag and drop area. Select make public and it will be added to the DMs Guild database.
Creating a character is a difficult process. No matter if it’s for a book, ttrpg, video game, or LARP. You have to think about their past, present, and future and their goals, ambitions, and overall attitude. Developing a character is a fun and engaging process that requires a bit of brainstorming and critical thinking. We’ve talked about using prompts to create a story with tarot cards in a previous post. This time, we’re using runes to build a character by using the Runic V layout.
The Runic V Layout
What influenced your character in the past?
The top left rune is Dagaz. It represents day, awakening, and new hope. The rune symbolizes discovering new insights, something unknown, or a fresh idea.
What is influencing your character in the present?
The next rune, Kenaz, is associated with knowledge and the quest for truth. It is represented by learning one’s true and full potential.
What is a future goal for your character?
Raidho represents the character’s personal journey. It symbolizes growth and movement towards control and rationality. The character may wish to learn who they are and who they want to become.
How to achieve that goal?
Pertho symbolizes something hidden and is often represented by good omens, unexpected surprises, and forces of change. This could be a mysterious or dangerous challenge your character does not wish to take part in but must overcome in order to grow.
What is your character’s attitude?
Jera is assocaited with patience, seasons, and waiting. To reach your goal will require time and understanding and you may not be ready to accept that. You’re character may be quick to take action or take their time.
What problem stands in their way?
Mannaz is represented by humankind and humanity. Other associations include reflection, planning, analysis, and self potential. The struggle coud be caused by another person or even within yourself. The actions of another or your own could prevent you from reaching your goal.
How to overcome the problem?
Algiz is represented by spirit guides, protection, divinity, and a teacher. It symbolizes going beyond yourself to connect with something spiritual or finding your higher self.
Today we are celebrating two events at once. April 23 is both Slay a Dragon Day and World Book Day. Two things that are rather dear to our hearts for several reasons. As fantasy authors, we grew up with stories where heroes battled dragons. Many of which were actual dragons but slaying a dragon can also be a metaphor.
One of our favorite quotes is by fellow fantasy author, Neil Gaiman.
“Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Slay a Dragon Day came about from a story where Saint Theodore Tiron slew a dragon. Legend has it Theodore came across a village where a dragon demanded sacrifice and treasure. After the village gave up its livestock and wealth, they turned to human sacrifice. When Saint Theodore witnessed this, he took a stand and tamed and killed the dragon. Thus the town was saved.
Digging deeper into this story, we learn it dates as far back as the mid-9th Century. Art at the Yılanlı Kilise shows three saints, Theodore, George, and Demetrius battling two snakes with separate heads.
The story represents the battle between good and evil and is a story as old as time really. Slay a Dragon Day is about overcoming challenges in your life. No matter how big or small.
Although, if you’re into slaying dragons and even befriending them or love books, our epic fantasy book series Thread of Souls is for you.
Ever since we started playing our ttrpg campaign in 2015, we felt it could be so much more. We knew it would make an amazing fantasy novel. We always have an incredible amount of fun around the table and it’s been exciting to transpose our sessions to a book format. We wanted to share our process for doing so and how you can do so yourself. There’s a lot more to it than copying and pasting what happened word for word in game.
A lot can happen in a tabletop campaign and it can be a lot to keep track of when it’s time to translate it to a book. We’ve come up with a few tips we use when writing Thread of Souls. It helps us streamline the process and make everything more detailed, efficient, and easier to comprehend for the reader.
1. Don’t worry about side quests
Side quests or quests that don’t focus on the main story should be left out of the book. They may be great for a ttrpg session but can take up space and time when copied to the book.
They may help fill out the world and its lore, introduce the characters to NPCs, and reward them with fun new gear, but they slow down the overall pace. There are two ways we suggest inserting a side quest if you absolutely must. The first is to introduce a new main character. Say, for instance, a new player joined the game. The party may need to break away from the main plot for a brief moment to find this person, but to make it more interesting, you should always find a way to loop their story with the main narrative.
The second way to include side quests is if they are linked to the main narrative. As long as the reader learns — either through the quest or later on — it is connected to the main narrative, it can be included.
2. Keep combat short and quick
Ah, combat. What takes several hours at the table is only a few minutes in terms of game time. Typically, one round of combat for everyone involved is just a few seconds. While it can be engaging at the table, long-winded fight scenes can drag on and on and can become rather dull, especially in a book.
Fights are fast. The more time that passes, the more exhausted the characters will get. So while your fights can be hours long around the table, they should be short in the book.
Taliesin rolled onto his back as the creatures swarmed him. The cave lit with silvery light as magic burst forth from his hands, incinerating the undead it touched. But they kept coming and coming, a wave of bones and screams. He shouted in pain as blows rained down on him and sharp fingers tore at his skin and clothes, scraping across scale armor.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your fights to around two to three pages long.
3. Add more in-depth descriptions.
Sometimes all it takes to describe a location in a ttrpg game is short sentences to get your players caught up. But in a book, you need to add more sensory information to really bring the reader into the scene. By focusing on the five senses, you’ll be able to paint a better picture. Take for instance Thread of Souls. Ruuda and Taliesin are investigating necromantic magic coming from a hole in the ground.
He climbed down, vanishing from sight. She hesitated before following, using the roots and rocks to support her weight. A strong smell of mud and earth hit her, and it almost reminded her of the Deep Hollows. It was still too fresh of a scent, though. The darkness was a welcome relief to her eyes as she found herself in an open cavern nearly thirty feet in length. Taliesin stood in the center of it, surveying a floor that was covered in bones.
At the table, the scene was described as Taliesin could feel an odd magical sensation coming from near a boulder. As both characters walk around it they saw a hole in the ground. They could just make out the rocky ground, spiking out in various directions. The players can fill in the rest as they see fit in their imagination and describe what they want to do. But the reader needs a bit more information.
4. Focus on the characters
The story should be driven by the characters. As readers, we connect with people. By knowing how certain characters think, move, and act, we can get a much better understanding of them. At the table, you may know what your character looks like and thinks in their head but the audience won’t, not unless you describe it to them. Readers should get more insight into the characters they are following. Hearing their inner dialogue will help better connect them.
This also comes into play with minor characters the party may meet in the game. Unless they are important to the plot, unnecessary characters should probably be removed from the book. Phil the bartender doesn’t really need to come up multiple times in the pages of your book. You can always add them into a compendium later on.
5. Focus on storytelling
When we say focus on storytelling, we mean to stick with the main plot and the elements that drive the narrative. If you deviate from the overall arc you’ll pull readers away. They need to be invested in the story and its characters.
Thread of Souls, we follow several characters as they investigate mysterious happenings with planer travel and missing spiders. If we were to suddenly shift the focus to political intrigue and assassinations of rulers, it wouldn’t really match the theme we’ve built and would end up being confusing.
Also, don’t take up a lot of time by having characters go on side missions or shop. If it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot, it should be altered or left out of the book. If you absolutely love a character or NPC in the game and want them in the book, give them a good reason to interact with the characters.
Once you get a rough idea down, you can really start to write. To learn more about turning your tabletop game into a book series, we’ve put together a video of our writing and editing process.
Let us know your thoughts and if you’ve ever wanted to write your own fantasy book?
Ah, Oceala. The Gem of the Bay is featured in book two of Thread of Souls Ash & Thunder. So named because it sits near the Bay of Nailo and is nestled along the hills of a crescent shore. There are plenty of golden sandy beaches and everywhere you look, the buildings are round and pastel-colored. It’s a diverse coastal city where adventurers go to unwind and relax. Once they can get past the beast that guards the bay and the Fey creatures who protect the water crossing.
It is also a place full of music. Songs that make you want to dance or spend a calming night overlooking the ocean. The Phantom Five spent a bit of time shopping, exploring, and fighting in the city and had a backlog of music to guide them through it. During our time at the table, we put together a curated list of songs fit for Oceala. Here is what you can expect to hear while you walk the streets, dance in a tavern, or visit the many spas in Oceala.
Here’s an excerpt from Thread of Souls: Ash & Thunder.
As the late morning rolled by, land was finally seen again on the horizon. A strip of green that grew into rolling hills. A city shimmered to existence along the shore, all pastel colors and rounded buildings.
Island of the Starry Dream is a perfect place to start. The name alone is all it takes to understand Oceala. It’s peaceful and serene. It’s a great track for the background while the Phantom Five wanders the sand dunes and beaches of Oceala or shops at Altawayne’s Artifacts and Apparatus. The song also has an air of mystery to it and fits in well with the mysterious temple that lies beneath the hills of the city.
Tarir, the Forgotten City is meant to describe how difficult it is to reach Oceala. While it isn’t off-limits to outsiders, the city is protected by a great dragon turtle named Majora as well as Fey creatures. Both require a toll to be paid to gain entrance to the stunning town.
The Queen’s High Seas – Tavern Version can be heard playing throughout the many taverns and inns found in Oceala. Its upbeat and pirate adventure style is bright and happy, making it a wonderful backdrop to dinner scenes and arriving and leaving the port.
Devilfish on the Line is another great track for hopping from tavern to tavern or exploring the open fish market. It can also be used if the party finds themself in a bit of trouble with the local guards or the city’s underbelly.
Shantytown Shuffle plays when there are scuffles at the docks or throughout the city streets. While the Phantom Five never got into any fights with the city guard or ruffians while they visited, they did find themselves in trouble nonetheless. It may be a peaceful place to call home or visit, but there are times when things can just get out of hand.
Eye of the Storm is full of spoilers from book two Ash & Thunder.
The climactic scene from the second book in the Thread of Souls series sees the oceanside city attacked by a great red dragon and wyverns. The Phantom Five find themselves split as they face doppelgangers and the fiery beast.
Those are the sounds of Oceala. The music is as vibrant and colorful as the city and its people. You can even use these songs in your own adventures. Each works well with a city with a major port and ocean theme.