The holidays are upon us and Dice Envy is running some huge promotions. We wanted to take a moment to lay them all out for you based on release time
Live Now - Early Bird Shopping
Original Box $15 (Normally $22)
What do amber, wood, aluminum and zinc all have in common? They are just some of the materials that we used in our dice this year. Not only do we have great D&D dice, every month we include downloadable content such as new adventures, maps, and equipment for Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons. We have great things in store for 2019. Come join us!
It is a great gift for your dungeon master and all of your role playing friends.
Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY to get our Original Monthly Box for a year at just $15 /month. Select month-to-month and cancel at any time.
11/23/2018 - Black Friday
New Set of 99 Cent Dice
In order to encourage new players to the table we release 100 sets of dice every month for only 99 cents. This month is a pearled blue set with gold numbering we like to call "Edgbaston." No discount needed. Just show up. There will be a link to the deal on the top of our main page.
11/24/2018 - Small Business Saturday
Acrylic Dice 20% off
We are a small business. A family business. Our office is our spare bedroom. Our staff are friends willing to chip in during the weekend when needed. We are so grateful for the ability to live the dream of being our own boss. So we're spreading that love around and saying thank you for helping us make that dream a reality. Promo Code SBS20.
11/25/2018 - Charity Drive
Online Auction for Extra Life
We are running an auction for our prototype cherry wood dice. Currently we only have one set in existence and we are using it to raise money for Extra Life, a non-profit organization of gamers that help sick children.
Metal Dice 25% off
Not much to say here. 25% off is a good deal. Buy dice. :)
Promo Code CYBERMONDAY.
I once led a campaign I worked hard on preparing. However, one of my players decided to play a "murder hobo". Not only did they insist on not leaving the opening pub scene until it was burned to the ground, they also managed to alienate their friends at the table. No one had fun that night and the campaign ended before it began. When we talked about it later he said, "I just did what I thought my character would do."
Dear friends, you are the ones making these characters. Don't make a character so unlikable people do not want to play with you.
"But David," you say, "My charisma is a 6. I can't exactly be Prince Charming."
True but this does not give you permission to shit all over the campaign. Here are three ways to avoid building a toxic character.
1. Conspire with your group to get around your characters flaws.
Just because your character is flawed doesn't mean you have to be. It is perfectly acceptable to conspire with your friends to thwart your characters toxic intentions. The classic example is with a LG paladin having to "investigate another room" while the rogues steals and murders without being noticed.
I once played with a dwarf with a fear of heights. We had to knock him out every time we got on our sweet Eberron air ship. The player didn't fight it. He just found a believable way or his dwarf to be looking the other way when we knocked him out. The DM didn't make it hard for us by making us role. It was just accepted, if the story was to progress the dwarf needed a reason to be constrained.
2. Allow For Growth
Characters are dynamic. Just because they are flawed in the beginning of the campaign does not mean you have to leave them there. In fact, any character worth their salt will grow as the story unfolds. Use your flaws as something to overcome. In the end that dwarf eventually found his courage. He became the ships mechanic and loved the ship and flying. It was a fun long story that lead from one point to another. A story totally worth telling.
3. Give your character a higher charisma score.
Simply put, don't make a character with a built in reason to be gross. No one is forcing you in to making the character, build something else. Anything else.
I saw this meme recently and it gave me a good, hearty chuckle. It’s funny ‘cause it’s true! All D&D players come to accept this simple fact: Dungeons & Dragons is math. Every dice roll, every monster block, it’s all math, waiting to be compared, added, and subtracted at the right moment. Unfortunately, that often causes players to fear D&D homebrew games, because another universal fact is: everyone hates math. People encountering math often looks like this:
But, you shouldn’t let that hold you back from an exciting campaign! There are plenty of ways to overcome this and have the homebrew campaign of your dreams.
What Homebrewing Means
The exact definition of a homebrew game differs from person to person. For some, it’s all about the numbers. It’s likely these people are robots in disguise. For others, it’s about altering the rules of the game and invoking unique D&D homebrew monsters. Truth is, both are right, in a way. Homebrewing is in essence the act of taking what’s there and making it your own. Yes, you’re going to have to get creative. But, you can always use someone else’s homework and change it just enough no one notices. That’s what the galaxy brain players do.
Unfortunately, the fear of what a homebrew game could be has held back many players and DMs over the years. Do you ever find yourself looking over your core rulebooks and saying to yourself, “I’d love to make my own monsters and spells, but this all looks too complicated”? Trust me, I’ve been there. But hey, practice makes perfect. We can’t all be gaming prodigies. The fear of a D&D homebrew comes from a reluctance to step out into the deep. What if I break the game or my monsters are overpowered or my spells make characters unmanageable? Well, that’s part of the fun! And if anything goes wrong, just pretend that was your plan all along. Even Jeff Bezos trusts this handy trick. Follow along and you’ll be in your own wang-shaped spaceship in no time.
The Reluctance to Homebrew
For many, the very concept of a homebrew game is intimidating. We’ve all ready about people who’ve taken the core system of their favorite RPG and built a new game from the framework. Like the team that’s rebuilding Oblivion and Morrowind in Skyrim’s engine, or the hundreds of Pokémon Rom Hacks (which, for legal purposes, don’t exist). We hear about the hours they spent crunching the numbers, running simulations, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and modifying. We wonder how they keep their soul while doing it. But, for some players, that’s part of the fun, a key component of D&D homebrewing, monsters and all. But for the most part, the definition of a homebrew game has drastically changed.
The New Rules
With the rise of the Fifth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, we saw a shift from Wizards of the Coast in their game design. They went from a crunchy, video-game style RPG in Fourth Edition to one built from the ground up to be whatever the player wants it to be. The Dungeon Master’s Guide introduces the DM as the one who chooses what kind of game they want to play: story-driven, combat-based, or anything else. The possibilities are limitless. WotC created a system that wants you to take the reins. You are the captain now in your homebrew game.
The Reality of Homebrewing
I’ve been DM-ing for around half a decade now. I got my start in the dreaded and feared D&D 4e, and I worked my way through that gamed-out system and realized I’d been missing out on one of the most exciting and creatively inspiring games ever created. The first game I ever ran was the starter adventure included in the 4e Red Box. I fell in love with role-playing games right then and there. But, as someone who can never really be satisfied, I immediately began to wonder: what changes could I make for the game to be better?
A New Beginning
This is where D&D 5e comes in. I dipped my feet in the pool in 4e, but that wasn’t particularly conducive to homebrew games. With that edition, you may as well say “Fine, I’ll do it myself,” if you want a quality game. I started off running pre-gen games in the Forgotten Realms, following the paths of professionals at WotC. As I played more, I got braver. I started with a few little changes here and there: homebrewed D&D monster or villain. It was all about making what was there my own. I was like a Cyberpunk 2077 modder, taking broken game mechanics, fixing them, and perfecting them. And my players loved it.
There’s nothing more rewarding in a homebrew game than when your players fall in love with your creations. When I first started straying off the pre-written path in 4e, I was afraid of doing anything beyond simple changes. The system didn’t welcome customization. Nonetheless, the changes benefited the game tremendously. It was actually an exciting, working game now. It’s too bad Cyberpunk still isn’t. With the implementation of 5e, WotC dove into homebrewing in a way that they never had in the past. They took the lid off Pandora’s box. Everything was possible. New mechanics, new stories, even the terribly written LOTR fanfiction, was possible.
Embracing the Homebrew
Don’t get me wrong, players have come to the table expecting DMs to create their own stories since the earliest days of D&D, even outside of homebrew games. But, with the launch of new initiatives like D&D Beyond, WotC is not only supportive of homebrewing, but actively encouraging it. They’re going the Minecraft route of letting players’ imaginations run wild. An entire portion of Beyond’s site is dedicated to uploading homebrewed D&D monsters, items, spells, and more. There’s no need to fear D&D homebrews anymore. It belongs to the people, now.
The Essence of it All
In a nutshell, that’s what homebrew games are. They’re about taking this game we all love and customizing it for your table. Assuming your players trust you, they’ll want to see what you can do. Imagine their joyous surprise at encountering your personal shadow dragon with its own doctored spells. Or the hunger in your wizard’s eyes when you hand them your own personal spells or new magical items. You don’t know how many years on these Forgotten Realms you got left. You gotta get real weird with it. Trust me, your players will appreciate what you do.
A lot of people ask me if there’s a secret to homebrew games, but there really isn’t one. In the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf (and Nike), just do it. As with most things, the secret is that there is no secret. There are no magic tricks and shortcuts to get you the homebrew campaign of your dreams. You’re going to have to put in a little effort and get a little creative. That’s really what it’s all about. Having your own fun with the building blocks that are set out before you. Whether there are right or wrong answers, that’s up to you and your standards. Do yourself a favor and go easy on yourself. You can’t just snap your fingers and get perfection. That is unless you have the infinity gauntlet lying around.
At the end of the day, the best trick for a good homebrew game is to open your computer or notebook and start writing. Don’t waste time overthinking the details or fearing your D&D players’ reactions to your work. Just write it all down. As the famous saying goes, “writers hate writing but love having written.” That’s equally as true for D&D homebrews. Once you get to the end, you’ll find it was worth it. You may end up meandering, but remember that not all those who wander are lost. Give it your best, and never fear the homebrew.
Paul Shirley is a new dad, long-time husband, and life-long nerd. He spends most of his spare time these days working on an actual-play D&D podcast called Make-Believe Heroes while spending the rest juggling between family, gaming, reading, writing, and the youth group he leads at his local church.
Homebrewing a DND campaign is a rough gig. Not only are you in charge of creating interesting stories and characters, but you also have a whole world to fill with charming NPCs, quaint shops, and seasonal events. Crafting seasonal events can be exceptionally difficult. If you’re looking to create an extra special encounter for your players this month, you must resist the urge to dump Fantasy Thanksgiving into your world. Your campaign deserves better!
Pressed for time or ideas? Grab your most trusted dice set, throw another log on the fire, and let fate decide where you go! Each scenario below is crafted to fit into a D&D homebrewed campaign or become a stand-alone dungeons and dragons adventure with a bit of elbow grease. If you use any of the scenarios below, be sure to let us know how it went in the comments section.
While wandering the marketplace, the party hears an Elvish woman sporting a pumpkin dress thunderously advertising for Ol’ Boozy’s Alewerks. For the next 2 nights, Ol’ Boozy’s is hosting a special tasting of their new brews. For 5 gold, attendees will be allowed to sample five seasonal brews and purchase micro kegs of their favorite drinks at a discounted rate! The beverages on tap are The Pumpkin King’s Revenge, Satyr’s Sanctum Spiced Ale, Hops and Robbers Pale Ale, Manic Minotaur Mead, and The Raven Queen’s Delight.
Throughout the night, meat pies, cheesy loaves of bread, and hearty stews are offered for consumption. Hidden inside some pies are small wooden figures of a pumpkin-headed man with “Old Boozy” stamped on the bottom. Any guest lucky enough to find one (and not swallow it whole via a failed DC 10 perception check) wins a large keg of their favorite brew!
The party finds a young halfling boy sobbing in the street. He uses a well-worn, blue scarf to clean up his tears as he looks desperately around corners, in barrels, and any odd place he can fit. Upon speaking to him, the party learns that he’s lost his favorite toy—a plush Yeti his father gave him before going away to war. He clutches a soft tuft of white fur in one hand, which is the only clue he has to his prized possessions’ whereabouts.
Following the trail of clues—which includes large footprints, more tufts of fur, upturned barrels of food, and testimony from various NPCs about a “large white monster” prowling the streets—leads the party to a Yeti’s den. A concerned Yeti mother has mistakenly confused the boy’s toy with a Yeti child. She’s non-threatening and will happily return the purloined plush. She even took the time to clumsily mend and clean up the poor thing.
If the party chooses to engage the Yeti, they will only find a non-magical necklace on the corpse in the shape of a broken heart. During the fight, the young boy will run away into the mountains, no longer interested in recovering his lost toy.
While perusing The Curious Cockatrice, a store which specializes in the strange and arcane, the party finds an ornate snowglobe. Inside the globe is a two-storied snow capped cabin. A wreath of evergreen boughs hangs on the cherry red door, and it appears that warm light is softly flickering in the windows. The cabin is nestled alongside snow-covered pines and a couple cheery snowmen. The globe itself rests atop a lovingly carved wooden base which depicts an enchanting mountain scene. On a successful DC 12 perception check, players will notice a small wisp of smoke rising from the chimney.
Upon shaking the globe, anyone touching it will be safely transported to the cabin. Inside, they will find all sorts of treats magically prepared for them, a warm fire, a library, and enough space to comfortably house 6 people. If guests try to leave the area, they will encounter a magical barrier that prevents them from moving more than 2 miles away from the cabin in any direction.
After 12 hours, guests are transported back to their original location, well-rested. An inscription on the bottom reads, “For Rose. Place this globe in freshly fallen snow overnight to return to our hearth by morning.”
— 4 —
A provincial town is hosting their annual Fes-STEW-val! Everyone in town and the surrounding farms brings meats or vegetables to add to the gigantic communal pot.
While waiting for the stew to cook, there are plenty of festivities for players to distract themselves with. Tests of might, such as the “Farm vs. Town” Tug-of-War, will reward players with 1 minor magical item. Players who wish to busk can find plenty of opportunities to perform for adoring crowds for coin. Dexterous folk can try their luck running through the corn maze, as the fastest participant wins the top prize of 25 gold. A local brewery is offering plenty of warm toddies and whiskey. An abandoned house has been converted into the Haunted House of Screams and is currently seeking extra actors to hire.
To participate, each player must purchase or procure an ingredient to add to the stew. Ask players to roll a nature or survival check to determine the quality of the ingredients they bring. Anything below a 5 is rotten, poisonous, or an inedible object. Rolls from 5 to 10 are of questionable quality. They might taste a bit funny—or be an odd addition—but they won’t outright kill anyone. Rolling 10 -19 results in a good quality ingredient, with higher rolls tasting fresher than lower ones. A 20 and above produces a legendary quality addition—something so lovely, it cancels out any roll lower than a 5!
If players roll well, eating the stew results in 1 D8 temporary hit points until their next long rest, and a warm fuzzy feeling. After everyone has had their fill, leftovers are bottled and each player may purchase 1 bottle for 5 silver.
Too many bad ingredients will cause horrifyingly vivid hallucinations on a failed DC13 constitution saving throw.
Brittany Lindstrom is a mixed media illustrator out of ye olde Boise, Idaho. Under the banner of Spice & Rose, Lindstrom is oftentimes left dreaming of deep dungeon dives while chained to her studio. On the rare occasion that she's let out, you can find her presenting panels on art and Artist Alley at conventions all around the Intermountain West. She has a deep love for playing randomized characters.
When playing Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, or any other table top game before you can even break in your first set of dice you need a character. And the key to a good character, in part, is a great back story.
Backstories are the beginning of every dungeons and dragons adventure. Not only can these stories inform your D&D style of play but they can also strengthen the bonds that you make in game with other party members. Today i want to talk about creating a USEFUL back story.
I love D&D. Role-playing games have been my major hobby for 32+ years, and Dungeons & Dragons was the game that introduced me to the world of RPGs. It has a special place in my heart. As fantastic Dungeons & Dragons is, however, there are literally 100s of other role-playing games out there. Each RPG out there comes with its own unique setting and mechanic that plays and feels different than D&D. Half the fun of trying out a new game is learning a new system, then discussing its merits and shortcomings with your gaming crew.
Here are my top three, go-to role-playing games when I’m looking to play something different.
We get it, you want to have a great D&D backstory. For Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and plenty of other tabletop games, it’s the heart of the experience. Before you can even break in your first set of dice you need a character. An interesting D&D backstory is key to creating this character. We don’t want to be derivative. “We're just air conditioners. I mean, after all, we're just walking around on the planet, breathing, conditioning the air.” — Ongo Gablogian. Don’t be a derivative air conditioner. Be an exciting air conditioner. And a central part of how to make a good D&D backstory is getting rid of the orphan trope.
The Orphan Trope
D&D backstories are the beginning of every adventure. Not only can these stories inform your D&D style of play, but they can also strengthen the bonds you make with other party members. But there’s typically one glaring flaw that’s present in nearly all beginners’ backstories: being an orphan. It worked for Aladdin. It worked for Batman. We’ve seen Uncle Ben die so many times Marvel didn’t even bother this time around. In a vacuum, it works. I’ve made plenty of characters with no parents. It gives them some immediate depth and character before you even get to know them. Unfortunately, it’s so effective and easy that it becomes lazy.
If No One Has Parents it Loses all Meaning
Look around at the other players at the table. If everyone’s D&D backstory revolves around being an orphan it becomes, say it with me, derivative. At some point we need to start questioning the parenting methods of the Forgotten Realms, I mean come on. Yeah, it makes your character edgy. It makes them tough. They’re a street rat raging against the system, just trying to get by. But, much like making phone calls, it’s played out. It’s not an interesting D&D backstory because everyone’s done it. It loses all meaning. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to try out if you want to avoid this trope.
1. Family to Model
Sometimes having a family is actually a good thing. You heard me, teenagers. When your dice fail, they’ll be there as your ace-in-the-hole. They’ll bail you out of jail. They’ll be the reason you love what you love. If you start off as a squire, have your D&D backstory be that your dad was a royal guard. If you’re a level one monk, your mom can be in charge of a famous temple. Parents are like real-life superheroes. Why wouldn’t you want some in your campaign? Making a good D&D backstory doesn’t mean getting rid of all comfort.
2. Family to Reject
A family to reject is a great D&D backstory to highlight what makes your character different. Think of Daryl Dixon from the Walking Dead versus his evil brother Earl. Or, maybe your family is known throughout the land as paragons of virtue which leads to angst about your own evil choices, like Kylo Ren. Or, even loving someone with such different values might make you want to save the BBG instead of destroying it, like Luke Skywalker. These make for interesting D&D backstories because the family dynamic adds an extra layer to the plot.
3. Family in the Party
This is my personal favorite D&D backstory. Being related to people in your party is a great way to generate trust and add extra urgency when your friend is in trouble. And they don’t have to be your parents. Unlike what Psychology tells you, not everything is about your parents. It can be an uncle, sibling, cousin, or anything else. I once played in a party of half-breed characters (Elf, orc, tiefling, to name a few.) We were all half brothers with the same dad: the famous Archmage Bigby! We were the Brothers Bigby, and it was one of the most enriching roleplaying experiences of my life. We cared not only about ourselves but about everyone at the table.
What are you waiting for? Your next great D&D backstory isn’t going to write itself! How to make a good D&D backstory isn’t too difficult if you stay away from the common tropes. Interesting D&D backstories and relationships are around every corner, as long as you know where to look.
Five years ago, a buddy of mine—always the idea guy, this one—shot me a text: “Ever heard of Extra Life? I wanna do it this year.”
At the time, I had to admit I had no idea what he was talking about—after all, I was four years deep into DadBrain and if something didn’t have a Pixar or Disney character attached to it, it may as well not exist in my world.
He gave me the highlights: it’s a charity event; it helps Children’s Miracle Networks; it’d be tabletop roleplaying and board gaming all night for a good cause. The hook baited, I showed up at our FLGS against the weird November almost-cold, a cloth bag of polyhedral D&D dice and a copy of Munchkin in hand, and got to work. The next morning, after experiencing just how deep the game rabbit hole goes, making great new friends, and playing the one and only game of Cards Against Humanity that I have been ever invested fully in, I was already pumped for the next year.
I was also pretty tired. Can’t overstate that. Put it this way: a well-rested player doesn’t lucid dream that he’s actively taking turns (like I managed to in plays of both Talisman and Pandemic). But back to the important stuff.
We’ve grown SO much since that first event. We’ve partnered with a local con, another gaming store, and other local businesses to co-host. We’re courting sponsors to let us give away their D&D supplements, or raffle their polyhedral dice sets, or board games, or RPG props. We expanded our one weekend into three events. My favorite was the all-roleplaying-game “One Shot Weekend” with dice hitting the table for Fate, World of Darkness, D&D, and Index Card RPG. But no matter the game, the dice rolls, and whose turn it is, we’re still just great friends trying to do good work.
2017 saw Extra Life take in nearly $11 MILLION in events around the world. Locally, in our years together, Team Kid-ical Success has raised nearly $2,500 (including over $1,000 for the first time ever this year!), mostly in small-dollar donations. It’s based in the generosity of a friend or coworker who’s down for the cause, or attendees who’re trying to score that sweet gaming swag at the raffle table. Speaking of, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our amazing sponsors, including Dice Envy, who have contributed a staggering $2,900 worth of goods and shop credits to help us out just in 2018.
Through all of this, though, I think about our teammates Ryan and Alan, or Abby (one of our local business partners) and their families. Without our local CMN Hospital, they would have had to travel over an hour one-way to receive treatment for their children’s needs. In the age of everything-on-demand, the concept of driving that far for basic care is anathema to us. So, if it means that Alan or Abby and their kids can go 15 minutes away and be seen regardless of their ability to pay for care, you bet your sweet CON check I’ll get my guys to the table!
But it’s become something bigger for me too. Now, I’m not trying to bend this to any kind of agenda here. To me, that local game store has become a welcome respite. We’re in an increasingly divided, polarized and isolated world, but there we’re all trying to stake that vampire or loot that dragon’s vault. We’re all matching wits with decks and dice. It’s the best example a dad and a gamer can set: putting all our hashtags and such aside for the greater goal of everyone having a good time.
And doing all that, hitting all those positive notes to ease the load on sick kids and their families sure seems like a Crit Success to me.
Visit the Extra Life website If you are interested in learning more.
In the real-world, Jeff Chaffee is a level-15 speech therapist, multi-classed into 10+ levels of Hubby/Dad. When not slaying the sentient grasses of Northern PA or rolling yet another character up for that game he's TOTALLY going to be running, he can usually be found teaching a new game or figuring out how to illustrate a new beta test with only Wingding fonts in Photoshop.
Why has Dice Envy decided to give away one of our sets of dice for 99 cents every month? Because Dungeons and Dragons is a thing. Pathfinder is a thing. D20 role playing games in general are a thing. People love them. People have played them for decades but also, people have just started playing them. Hasbro has said D&D is having its best year ever. With Dungeons & Dragons real play podcasts and twitch streams like Critical Role people are getting into tabletop role playing games. And we love that. We love new players. We want new players. We hope every new player becomes a lifelong player. We get excited thinking about the adventures, the jokes told, and the friendships that are made around the table.
We want as many new players as possible. So we decided to do our part to lower the barrier of entry on your first set of dice.
Are you losing money on this? Yes. Yes we are. But we hope that if you buy your first set with us, you’ll want to buy your next set as well. Still, we are capping them at 100 sets a month so as to not go out of business.
Can you buy more than one set of dice? Yes. If you want to share the love with friends and family that it perfectly fine. Just make sure it is their first set.
What if I just want a cheap dice set? This is all based on the honor system. You could theoretically buy a cheap set of dice but that would be taking out of the hands of a new player. If you want a cheap set. Try our Mystery Bags. They are $6 and the selection is broader than the 99 cent dice sets.