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Jack Gardner
This past weekend, gamers from all over the world traveled to Seattle, Washington to attend PAX West, one of the largest gaming conventions in North America. Of course, where there are gamers there are also Extra Lifers! Extra Life turned out for PAX West in a big way, coming to the event with a booth, a panel, and moving stories from the kids themselves.
The dedicated Extra Life booth has become a staple of events around the United States and Canada. For PAX West, we were set up in a nice corner between two of the major convention halls on the 4th floor of the Seattle Convention Center. The location afforded a degree of protection from the overwhelming noise of the show floor proper, allowing the amazing volunteers from the Seattle Extra Life Guild to have amazing conversations with con-goers. 
We were fortunate for PAX West to have a miracle child ambassador from Seattle Children's Hospital. Kennedy and her father volunteered at the Extra Life booth, sharing their stories with people who stopped by to say hello. Not only that, but Kennedy was able to tour the show floor and experience one of the most amazing events in gaming. Their help was invaluable in demonstrating the good that Extra Life does in the lives of those it touches. 
In total, over 700 people decided to sign up to participate in Game Day! That's freaking amazing! This year, Extra Life's Game Day takes place on November 2, so make sure that you've also signed up over on Extra Life.

To top off the booth experience at PAX West, we were able to reveal a special collaboration with gaming chair manufacturer DXRacer. They graciously gave us an incredible version of one of their chairs decked out in Extra Life's colors and the iconic gaming controller with wings. We decided to put the chair up for auction to raise some additional money, so please check out the eBay page and place your bids before the opportunity disappears forever in only a handful of hours! 
A big thank you to KontrolFreek for taking on the task of organizing an Extra Life scavenger hunt, as well. PAX West attendees could obtain a card at KontrolFreek's booth and then needed to visit Astro, Gunnar, and Extra Life's booth to fill it up. Once filled, the card could be turned in for a chance to win a prize that changed daily. KontrolFreek organized all of the partnered organizations to support this event and deserve all our love and gratitude. 
Finally, Extra Life was included in an official PAX West panel. The talk, titled Gaming for "Charity: Inspiring Through Play," provided an informed look at how to engage communities effectively to gain charitable support for a good cause and how that scales depending on the size of a person's audience. The panelists included Extra Life ambassadors TheOnlyRyann and Deejay Knight, I Need Diverse Games' Tanya DePass, Twitch's Jon Brence, Child's Play's Erick Blandin, and Extra Life's very own director of community Lou Adducci. It was inspiring to see people turn out to listen to all of these talented and important voices in the industry tell stories about their experiences and share their expertise. 
With PAX West in the rear view mirror, TwitchCon 2019 approaches! On September 27-29, the streaming community will gather for their yearly celebration of their primary platform. Extra Life will be there with the customary booth in order to represent Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, but we will be bringing back one of our most popular event spectacles: The human claw machine! DonorDrive will be hosting a charity streaming area called the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has been selected as one of the premier charities that the arcade will raise money for during TwitchCon. Attendees will be able to grab free prizes as they dangle above a pit of mystery prizes, suspended by a huge claw machine. Don't miss us if you're planning on attending!
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game released last year to an eager cult following. The developers at Worm Club infused an immense amount of charm and character into the low key adventure-comedy. The story fittingly followed a detective, who happens to be a frog, called in to investigate the strange events unfolding on a mysterious island. Frog Detective managed to capture hearts and minds with its unique sense of humor and commitment to leaving every player with a smile on their face. 
Almost a year later, Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard has appeared in the wild with a fresh demo at PAX West. The game will continue the story that began in the previous game while presenting an all-new mystery. A welcoming ceremony gone wrong. An invisible wizard. A a town full of suspects. The amphibian sleuth will need to put all of the clues together to find the one behind it all. 
We were able to talk with Grace Bruxner, one half of the team working on Frog Detective 2, to get some insight into how her indie project became a reality. Bruxner detailed the origins of the project, a unique blending of nostalgia for murder mysteries, specifically Agatha Christie's work, and a desire to put games into the world that she would want to play. The overriding goal of Frog Detective as a series is to foster what Bruxner called "subtle joy," experiences that prioritize small smiles and sensible chuckles.

The sense of humor required to walk the slim line between full blown guffaws and courteous acknowledgement of a witticism that Bruxner uses to bring out the heart of Frog Detective 2 comes from her experiences doing stand up comedy. The experiences she had during her years as a comedienne honed a unique and low key style that informs her work as a game developer.  
When asked about the artistic inspirations for Frog Detective's singular style, Bruxner gave a small smile. "I missed a couple 3D modeling classes," she quipped before going on to explain that her professor in university had emphasized finding the joy in modeling rather than achieving technical proficiency. Grace showed me examples of her earlier work that all embraced her central design aesthetic of putting smiling faces on every kind of creature. She referenced her previous games as interactive dioramas, scenes and spaces that people can explore. They all embody her central idea of spreading joy. From their visual design to their stories or layouts, all of her work has been built on making sure those who encounter it will smile. 
Believe it or not, the financial backing of Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard might just be one of its most interesting components. Worm Club has become one of the first components of a mentoring and funding project called SUPERHOT PRESENTS. The developers behind Superhot approached Worm Club with an offer of support for future Frog Detective games after they encountered and loved the first Frog Detective game. In a statement released prior to PAX West, Bruxner described the deal thusly:
Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard will be launching on PC in 2019.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
PAX West, the annual gaming convention held annually in Seattle, Washington, will be happening this weekend, and we'd love to see you there! This year, the event runs from August 30 through September 2. We've got several initiatives that will be of interest to people attending the show in person or observing from afar. Here's everything you need to know about Extra Life at PAX West 2019!
We will, of course, have a dedicated Extra Life booth at the event. PAX West will feature a stellar area run with the invaluable support of the Seattle Extra Life Guild. Not only that, but Kennedy, a miracle child from Seattle Children's Hospital and member of the Seattle Guild, will be on hand on Sunday with her father to say hello, too. The people working the booth are volunteering their time to register participants, collect donations, and confirm when attendees share about Extra Life on social media. Doing each will net attendees distinct buttons, while doing all three will get attendees a sweet enamel pin.
We are so incredibly thankful for our volunteers, without whom none of this would be possible, and our words can't do them justice. 
If you are attending the show in person, KontrolFreek has organized an Extra Life scavenger hunt! After visiting KontrolFreek's booth to obtain a punch card, attendees will need to track down the Astro, Gunnar, and Extra Life booths to fill it out. Once the card has been filled, head back to the KontrolFreek booth to enter to win a neat prize that will change daily.

For those who won't be able to attend in person, there's still a chance to get your hands on something truly special. We have a customized Extra Life DXRacer chair for this event! We are incredibly excited about it. Both show attendees and Extra Lifers who aren't at PAX West will be able to bid on the chair via an eBay. Keep an eye on our social media channels for the announcement that bidding is live! 
On top of that, Extra Life will be included in an official PAX West panel. The talk, titled Gaming for "Charity: Inspiring Through Play," will be held in the Sandworm Theater. The panelists include Extra Lifer TheOnlyRyann, I Need Diverse Games' Tanya DePass, Twitch's Jon Brence, Child's Play's Erick Blandin, and our own senior manager of community Lou Adducci. The discussion will get into the nitty-gritty of fundraising and community building necessary for people to do the most good with their gaming efforts. The panel begins at 12pm and goes until 1pm. Be there or be square!
Finally, TwitchCon 2019 is on the horizon, September 27-29. It's time to start getting hyped because, on top of all the usual awesome stuff, DonorDrive will be hosting a charity streaming area called the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has been selected as one of the premier charities that the arcade will raise money for during TwitchCon. Extra Life will be there representing Children's Miracle Network Hospitals with the human claw machine we debuted at E3 earlier this year. Attendees will be able to grab free prizes as they dangle above a pit of mystery prizes, suspended by a huge claw machine. Don't miss us if you're planning on attending!
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
Another Tabletop Appreciation Weekend has come and gone and the Extra Life community, as always, did not disappoint. It was truly awesome seeing you all break out your board games, pen & paper RPGs, and even digital tabletops to support the kids in hospitals across the United States and Canada. Some of you got in some incredible games with your friends and families while others in the community streamed their experiences online. The leading tabletop gamers of Extra Life came up with a ton of great ideas. We wanted to share just a few of them.
By far, one of the coolest moments of the weekend were the marathon sessions of Dungeons & Dragons that were streamed out of the basement where it all started. Extra Lifers from the Milwaukee-Madison area came together to host a day filled with D&D fun in the basement of Gary Gygax's home, the place where Dungeons & Dragons came into its own. The sessions were hosted on Extra Life's official Twitch channel and spanned 12 hours on Saturday. The stream starred Larry Hamilton, Bill Allan, Fenway Jones, Grant Ellis, GM Travis, Jason O’Brien, and John Gilbert who were also joined by Alex and Mike Gygax, Gary's sons, for four different D&D one shots over the course of the day.
In total, the crew managed to raise over $3,100 USD! They managed this impressive feat by giving viewers the chance to name player characters lacking for $25 USD each. For varying levels of donations, viewers could also grant a re-roll to the players, impose advantage or disadvantage on certain actions, or even turn a roll into a natural 1 or 20. If someone donated $100 USD, the DMs would grant players a magic item. The players had a blast and it was a great time for everyone involved. If you missed it live, you can find links to all of the relevant places to go on Larry Hamilton's website, Follow Me and Die. 
Olympian-turned-YouTuber Shawn Johnson East streamed tabletop games with her spouse Andrew to her nearly 900,000 subscribers. The duo managed to not only raise awareness of Extra Life to their colossal audience, but they also raised over $10,000 USD. That far outstrips their original streaming goal of $5,000 USD. That money goes to their local hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.
To top it off, we had so many of you coming out to play tabletop games for the kids. It was a really beautiful thing to see. Sean Rooney, one of the pillars of our community and #Dominicstrong, turned up to play Root. Tabletop Bellhop organized a play event in Windsor that featured a dazzling number of tabletop games to support Extra Life. Nikki Drake reached the $3,000 USD mark with her tabletop gaming over the weekend, approaching her $3,333 USD goal.  LessThanGreg, Greg Davis, streamed for Extra Life over the weekend and showed the community some really awesome digital board games. Did you know there's a digital tabletop version of Tetris that's multiplayer? I didn't!
If you can't get enough tabletop gaming in your life, check out the barrage of features, interviews, tabletop games, and more that we put out over the weekend! Need to get out of an awkward Monopoly night? We've got you covered. Looking to up your tabletop game and avoid some of the unintentional racial or gendered assumptions that can sometimes make players or DMs uncomfortable during role-playing? Our interview with Tanya DePass will help you. Love Stranger Things and want to bring that to your tabletop? There are several options out there. New to Dungeons & Dragons and looking to spice up a campaign? We wrote up some modules that might give you ideas. Want to play a fun social card game? Consider breaking open The Red Dragon Inn. Want a fun tabletop roleplaying podcast to listen to during your commute? We released the final episodes of the liveplay campaign that began during 2018's Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. There's a ton for you to check out, and we hope that you all enjoy what we've put together. 
Thank you to everyone who rolled dice, shuffled cards, or moved around board piece over Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. All of us here at Extra Life appreciate you and the work you do that's making a difference in your community. You constantly leave us amazed. Let's all use this to get our rears in gear for Game Day which is coming up faster than ever. 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Marcus Stewart
Daylight begins creeping through the blinds. Your eyes beg to be shut. Your butt aches. The lifeline of snack food has been exhausted. Monopoly night has claimed you and your friend’s collective souls, and now you’re wondering how to pull yourself out of its abyss. Unfortunately, your buddies still seem committed to seeing the game to its end (if you took hours to capture Boardwalk and Park Place you’d want to milk it too). You don’t want to be the party pooper. Never fear, though, for I’m here to offer some fool-proof tips for ending a Monopoly session in the least table-flipping way possible.
Keep Getting Up Until People Get The Hint
Whenever someone gets up during a board game to go to the bathroom or grab a drink, it can bring everything to a halt or, at the least, disengages everyone a little bit. Do this repeatedly, as in every couple of minutes, and people will get anxious. Throw in an obnoxious yawn or two while you’re at it. Eventually they’ll feel like stretching their legs, which then leads to the realization that the game has lasted the length of a Lord of the Rings marathon. It soon dawns on them that they promised their spouses at they’d return home at a reasonable hour, especially since they’re already on thin ice after their last all-night escapade. It only takes one person to vamoose for the rest of the party to crumble to pieces. 

Offer to Suspend the Game Intact for Another Session
The group has invested too much time and fake money into this game to see it end without a winner no matter how fatigued they may be. Throw out that you’re tired, BUT you’ll be more than happy to leave the game in its place for a return session. It’s like suspending a video game except more inconvenient (for you). Still, doing so staves off the worst part of any board game: the clean-up. In reality, you’re likely good on Monopoly until the next, next Olympics, so play this card only as a Hail Mary compromise. Otherwise, prepare to spend the next week enjoying all of your meals on the floor if the group takes up the offer. 
Form Convoluted Alliances
Savvy Monopoly players know that sometimes the only way to get ahead is to make deals along the way. Greatest hits include swapping a utility for that crucial missing railroad. Such agreements can annoy other players so dial this idea up to 11. Start by making a deal with Carrie to only charge half the fee for landing on each other’s properties. Then later strike an agreement with Derek to split the $200 Go reward if he’ll waive any fees on his turf. Unbeknownst to all of them, you’ve already arranged for Samantha, the banker, to have her regularly slip you money under the table in exchange for dinner and a movie. What does this George R.R. Martin-esque web of alliances accomplish? I’m not sure, but it’ll probably ruin the game due to the sheer chaos it would cause. 

Try Switching To A Video Game
Video games are the natural predators to board games; the mongoose to its king cobra. Simply put, interactive entertainment is, arguably, more stimulating, takes up less table space, and always has all of its pieces in the box. Instead of merely suggesting Mario Kart or Jackbox, boldly fire up a game during a supposed bathroom break. When your friends wonder where you’ve disappeared to they’ll follow the siren call of digital merriment like a moth to a bright TV. This is another emergency option as it won’t actually get these people out of your house. But hey, it’s progress. 
Claim A Medical Emergency
True story: in middle-school my friends and I were more or less abducted by a neighborhood gang over a now-humorous misunderstanding. They shuffled us back to their “crib” and made various threats until I came up with an ingenious solution. Harnessing my best fake tears, I pleaded with the hoodlums to let us go, claiming I needed to visit an ailing grandmother in the hospital who suffered from an ulcer (which was actually kind of true). To my surprise, the gang experienced genuine empathy and let us go. If such an excuse is good for diffusing potential gang violence, I’m fairly confident it can rescue you from this accursed board game. 
And that’s that! Now that you’ve escaped Monopoly’s black hole you’re now free to dive into the wealth of tabletop games! Enjoy the rest of the month!
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
From its imaginative roots in tabletop gaming until the present day, games and the people behind them have built fantastical worlds full of wonder and magic. Those worlds often reflect the political realities and attitudes found in the real world. The history of game development has been weighted with certain perspectives that have shaped the medium, sometimes in problematic ways. Those issues are worthy of critique so that games can continue to improve and tell stories that include everyone. 
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tanya DePass, the founder and director of I Need Diverse Games. She was gracious enough to give me an hour of her time to pick her brain on diversity, feminism, and how to avoid alienating marginalized people in tabletop gaming. It's a really fantastic conversation, so I hope you all enjoy hearing all of it!

The final words of I Need Diverse Games' mission statement does a great job establishing why the organization fights to elevate the perspectives of people marginalized on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, disability, and more:
I Need Diverse Games is a non-profit that works to elevate the work of marginalized people in the game industry. That work often involves providing honest criticism from voices that aren't often given space on other platforms. They sponsor marginalized scholars to attend the Game Developers Conference every year. The organization also provides speakers for convention panels on diversity issues or additional assistance for those who would normally be unable to attend conventions like GaymerX, OrcaCon, or HavenCon. 
A huge thank you to Tanya for taking time out of her swamped schedule to talk with me. You should all give her a follow and support her work on Twitter: @cypheroftyr
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
Tabletop RPGs can be a wonderful and imaginative way to create unforgettable memories with friends. Everyone involved helps to create an adventure together and that process can be some of the most fun games have to offer. However, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start if you are a new Dungeon Master, the player tasked with shaping and running the game. Even experienced DMs can find themselves at a loss on how to spice up their existing campaigns or where to turn for inspiration for new ones.
The good news is that Wizards of the Coast has been putting together fantastic adventure modules for decades and there are some great ones out there that either use the current game system, 5th edition, or can be easily adapted to it.  We’ve gathered together some of the greatest modules to use as a spur for your creativity whether you are just starting out or are a veteran looking for some fresh ideas.  

Keep on the Shadowfell
I’ll come right out and say it: Keep on the Shadowfell is one of the best introductory adventures for Dungeons & Dragons. It has everything players and DMs could ask for. It was designed to be a flexible module that introduces new players to the town of Winterhaven. The small village houses a number of colorful characters, some of whom have mysterious motivations. More importantly, Winterhaven has problems with the local kobold population and a mysterious, dark power that has arisen in the ruined chambers of the long-abandoned Shadowfell Keep.
A lot of thought went into Winterhaven. It has unique supporting characters that make the town come alive, some with little to nothing to do with the adventure itself. They provide the town with a sense of life and vigor that can sometimes be missing from adventuring towns. Even if you are a veteran role-player, there’s a lot that can be learned from how the town has been crafted and the characters who live there. That same care extends to some of the villains in the adventure who, if played right, can provide some unforgettable moments.
While Winterhaven stands out as a compelling location, the small dungeon of Shadowfell Keep provides a great, easily digested dungeon delving experience for players while giving DMs enough pieces to keep things spicy. Players who want to improvise and explore the relationship between the townsfolk and the various factions both in and around the town will find that there are plenty of intriguing relationships that can be made into fun diversions. By the time the adventure concludes, if everything goes well, players might want to use Winterhaven as a base of operations while adventuring into the wilderness. Keep on the Shadowfell provides plenty of potential plot threads that could link to other modules or awesome homebrew content.
The main downside of Keep on the Shadowfell is that it exists as a 4th edition D&D adventure. That means DMs will have to do some work if they want to directly adapt the adventure to their campaign. However, it serves as a great template for designing future towns and introductory campaigns of your own. It actually served as the basis of the Verne, the town central to the plot of the Dragonguard that only just concluded. It’ll take a bit of work to get it up and running, but Keep on the Shadowfell is an absolute must if you are looking for direction on how to begin a D&D campaign right.

Tomb of Annihilation
A fantastic, self-contained adventure, Tomb of Annihilation is one of the special adventures made for 5th edition that can be rolled into most campaigns with ease or serve as the setting for an entire campaign in its own right. The adventure serves as an excellent excuse to get players out of the comfortable environments of traditional fantasy and into tropical settings filled with dinosaurs and a need to track resources for survival.
Experience stands out as one of the big downsides to Tomb of Annihilation. DMs looking to run a campaign with it should probably have a few adventures under their belts before trying it out. The book provides so much information that newer players might find it to be daunting to run.
For the experienced or bold newbie, Tomb of Annihilation makes for a really cool trek into the unknown. Magic cities, devilish curses, zombie dinosaurs, and more hide in the forests and remote reaches of Chult, the island nation where the campaign takes place. Compared to Keep on the Shadowfell, Tomb of Annihilation is massive, designed to take players from level 1 to level 11. The adventure allows for higher level characters to be rolled into it, giving it a degree of versatility for DMs looking to roll less vulnerable characters into the action.
The other big downside to Tomb of Annihilation lies in its central hook. Something on Chult has disrupted the effectiveness of resurrection magic and the players have been hired to uncover and put a stop to whatever might be causing the problem. This means that players who die will have to create new characters, something that can be off-putting to players who aren’t prepared for perma death in Dungeons & Dragons.
Tomb of Annihilation contains many intriguing scenarios that a DM attempting to homebrew will find interesting and helpful. If everyone is on the same page and down for a campaign where lethality and danger take center stage, Tomb of Annihilation presents a fantastic change of pace and a unique opportunity that can’t be found anywhere else in 5th edition.

Death Ascendant
Ravenloft has a long history in Dungeons & Dragons. The setting first appeared in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons back in 1983 in an adventure simply titled Ravenloft. It gained popularity for its emphasis on a creepy, horror-focused atmosphere. This stood in stark contrast of the traditional fantasy D&D had offered players up until that point.
Beginning in 2nd Edition, Ravenloft became a full campaign setting, full of factions and unnatural powers. The setting draws heavily from Gothic horror, drawing players into a pocket dimension full of macabre domains ruled by cruel and twisted overlords. These rulers have all been trapped in the realm by strange and inscrutable wills known only as The Dark Powers that use the drama and pain inflicted on the unfortunate souls for their own unknowable purposes.
Over the decades many adventures have released set within Ravenloft. In fact, one of the most popular adventure modules Wizards of the Coast have released for 5th edition is Curse of Strahd, which make use of the Ravenloft setting. This means that a lot of people who have played through Curse of Strahd might be thirsting after some more horror-oriented content.   
Enter Death Ascendant. The adventure originally released in 1996 as a module for 2nd edition D&D. The adventure kicks off with the players in pursuit of a band of assassins from an organization called Ebon Fold. The dastardly villains have been slaughtering everyone in their path, leaving strange, desiccated husks in their wake. The party happens upon a lone survivor gifted with the ability to see glimpses of the future. The path takes players to the city of Nartok where several secretive organizations have made a play for power at the expense of the people living under their influences. Players have to uncover the secrets of the city and figure out how to put a stop to the mysterious machinations of the city’s three major factions.
By simply adding a plot hook at the end of Curse of Strahd, players could find themselves embroiled in another fantastic Ravenloft adventure. Unfortunately, players looking to do that will have to put in a not insignificant amount of work. Converting from 4th edition like for Keep on the Shadowfell doesn’t stand out as a particularly cumbersome challenge. However, the deep combat system and complicated rules mean that DMs might struggle to find equivalent stat blocks for enemies. The result is that a shoddy attempt to convert Death Ascendant could result in incredibly unbalanced encounters, making it either too difficult or too easy.
Despite the difficulty, the Yojimbo-like scenario with multiple factions, vile magic, and hidden secrets could prove to be an amazing inspiration for a homebrew adventure. Since it’s an older adventure, PDC copies are available online for about $5 USD with soft cover books going for $10.  

The Tortle Package
At first blush, The Tortle Package seems like it was designed as a supplement for Tomb of Annihilation. It offers a lot in a relatively concise bundle for players either looking to start out a campaign in a remote and uncharted area or for people who want to take a short break from their main campaign. Not only that, but it introduces tortles to D&D 5e.
If you aren’t familiar with tortles, they are basically humanoid turtle people. Think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They’re fantastic and offer some fantastic roleplaying opportunities for players who have been everything else in-game up until this point.
The Tortle Package isn’t really an adventure per say. Instead, it’s better to think of it as an adventure tool kit. It includes a lot of information about a region called The Snout of Omgar as well as a dungeon called Dangwaru, the Typhoon Palace. On top of that, there’s a great small village and many points of interest for curious players to explore. All of the pieces are provided for players to make a fantastic adventure of their own in The Snout of Omgar.
In addition to being an affordable and fun addition to almost any campaign, sales of The Tortle Package also support Extra Life! Wizards of the Coast has generously created a series of modules over the years as special promotional materials for their Extra Life fundraising efforts. For giving players the ability to run around as literal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while also helping real world kids, The Tortle Package gets a big ol’ stamp of approval.
What are some of your favorite modules you use to inject some excitement into a campaign? Let us know in the comments!
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
It has been a long day in the mines. The village hired you and your party to investigate a series of digger disappearances in the deepest parts of the mine. Of course, once you found out that the mine served as the ancient entrance to a mind flayer lair, your contract obligated you to put a stop to the mind-eater’s machinations. Between the giant spiders and the inky darkness of the mines, it wasn’t an easy battle. In fact, the encounter with the flayer itself proved a struggle that nearly cost everyone their lives. In the end, you all managed to scrape by and return to the surface. The reward for this feat will surely bring in a pretty gold piece or two, but the real prize is the town’s inn, The Red Dragon Inn, the best place to laugh and drink possibly in all the land. 
The Red Dragon Inn isn’t just a fantastical place for adventurers to kick back and relax, it’s also an insanely popular tabletop board game. Developed by SlugFest Games, The Red Dragon Inn tells the story of what happens when the quest has finished and the heroes have a chance to unwind. The open and simple design allows for players to get into the game on whatever level they’d like. This has enabled the game to reach a wide and enduring audience that has supported the many expansions to the base game through Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns.

The rules of the game set up a scenario in which anywhere from 2-4 adventurers (expansions enable more people to play together) meet at the titular inn to have a good time and drink while spending their hard earned gold. The goal of the game is to be the last conscious player who still has gold. If your character becomes too drunk or loses all of their gold, they are out of the game.
Each player’s turn consists of a draw phase, where they maintain seven cards in their hand. Following this, the player has an opportunity to take an action using an action card from their hand to either help themselves or backstab a rival. After an action is either taken or passed, the player must give another player a drink and then resolving the effects of their own drink. Each player has a fortitude and drunkenness meter; if they ever end their turn with their drunkenness greater than or equal to their fortitude, they lose consciousness. If a player passes out, their gold is divided between the inn and the remaining players.
Other wrinkles to play also occur. For example, occasionally a player will play a card to initiate gambling. This causes normal play to halt until someone has won the pot with a good hand of cards or a dastardly cheat card. Some characters in the expansions also have their own unique mechanics that make gameplay even more interesting.
Each player must have a character deck from either the base game or one of its expansions. Each character in The Red Dragon Inn has their own sets of strengths and weaknesses that are brought to life through their personalized decks. The characterization of the character decks have become such a staple of the series that some fans enjoy roleplaying the characters while playing to create unforgettable game sessions. Alternatively, some players find a deck that corresponds to how their D&D roleplaying might act in a tavern setting and bring their own flavor of role-playing to the game.
In fact, due to the blending of social and fanciful elements in The Red Dragon Inn, players have invented all sorts of rule variants to make the experience more immersive. One of the most straight forward variants involves drinking actual alcohol along with the characters in the game. You can find the rules here, just be sure to be a responsible adventurer. Another variant involves giving the gold piece real money value to up the stakes for the rounds of gambling.
Of course, for players looking to mix things up in a more official capacity, there are numerous expansions. Each officially numbered expansion set can be played on its own and contains four completely different character decks. As mentioned before, each character has their own set of strengths and different styles of gameplay. This means that any time a new character or set is introduced into play, the dynamics of the game shift dramatically, especially if those additional decks mean that there are more players taking part in the game. Each of these expansions adds additional rules and events as well, so it’s definitely worth looking through all of them to find the stuff that you think would make for the most interesting sessions.

These numerous expansions have been made possible by the passionate community that has sprung up around the game. The series’ history of crowdfunding expansions dates back to 2013 and The Red Dragon Inn 4. Since then, there have been 9 different expansions, each shattering their fundraising goals. These include the fully numbered releases, duo hero deck expansions, and a spin-off game called The Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport along with its expansions. Battle for Greyport sees the heroes from The Red Dragon Inn battling to defend the inn and town from dastardly villains and monsters – and you can try it for free if you find yourself inclined!
Without knowing the rules, I was able to get The Red Dragon Inn up and running about 10 minutes after opening the box for the first time. Whether you’re taking on the role of Zot the Wizard with his sullen familiar Pooky, Gerki the conniving rogue, Deirdre the snooty elven priestess, or Fiona the unpredictable barbarian, you’re sure to have a great time at The Red Dragon Inn.
If you think you might want to play The Red Dragon Inn while streaming during Extra Life 2019, you should reach out to SlugFest Games! They are currently running a promotional campaign to support Extra Life where they have developed a special card called Water of Life. If you reach out to them with your name, address, description of your livestreaming plans, and a link to your Extra Life fundraising page, they’ll send you a card of your own, as well as a number to distribute to stream viewers.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
Stranger Things remains fresh in the collective pop culture consciousness after three seasons full of unwitting people unraveling the secrets hiding beneath the veneer of their small town lives. While the characters have faced down supernatural threats, they’re also (for the most part) normal people. They laugh, cry, and play games, just like the rest of us. They’re grounded in a world very much like our own, and that can make them seem divorced from the fantastical settings typically associated with tabletop role-playing games. That being said, there are plenty of fantastic options out there if you want to have a night or even a campaign full of adventures inspired by Stranger Things!
For the uninitiated, Stranger Things tells the story of people, primarily kids, living in Hawkins, Indiana during the 1980s. Things initially get strange following the disappearance of Will Byers and the sudden appearance of young girl with apparent supernatural abilities. Without going into spoiler territory, monsters and strange portals play prominent roles throughout the series, not unlike the tabletop role-playing experiences many remember fondly. The first season takes place in 1983, with subsequent seasons taking place about a year after one another. After several years of things being strange, things never really go back to normal.
Dungeons & Dragons has been an integral part of the series from the beginning. The kids on the show find it to be a fun way to blow off steam and work through their various issues. However, that’s not the only connection D&D has to the show; one of the legendary tabletop’s most iconic monsters even comes directly from the game itself. However, many associate D&D with magic, elves, and dark lords marching armies of evil against the realms of good, things that seem far removed from the sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana.  
Thankfully, there are several great options at your disposal if you are itching to inject your role-playing sessions with Stranger Things. These range from official Wizards of the Coast adventure sets to free modules designed to capture the spirit of Stranger Things. So, let’s get down to it; where should you turn if you want some Stranger Things in your tabletop sessions?

Stranger Things D&D Starter Set
Let’s start by looking in on the official Stranger Things D&D Starter Set. This short adventure comes in a box designed to recall the original red box release of Dungeons & Dragons back in 1983, the same version the kids played in the show. Such is the ubiquity of D&D that many people who have never rolled a 20-sided die will recognize the reference in the design of the box itself.
Much like the red box release, the Stranger Things D&D Starter Set comes with all of the tools necessary to start rolling out of the box. Inside, players will find a rule book for 5th edition D&D, an adventure book, and dice. There are also five pre-made Stranger Things character sheets and two miniatures of the show’s Demogorgon. The adventure itself will probably be the main draw for fans of the show. Wizards of the Coast describes it as an adventure created by the in-fiction character Mike Wheeler for his friends.  
The game technically takes place in the Stranger Things universe with players taking up the character sheets of the kids from the show, but the game itself is set in the universe of D&D. The adventure is titled Hunt for the Thessalhydra and seems to be based on the adventure the kids were playing on-screen during Season 1. All characters begin at level 3 and the adventure has been designed to be a short, entertaining romp to get them to level 4. The length seems short when compared to many of the other published Dungeons & Dragons adventurers, but that might be perfect for beginners or for shaking up the routine of regularly scheduled gameplay sessions.  
Perhaps one of the most interesting elements about this particular boxed set is how it was designed to bring players into the minds of the characters from the show. Each season puts the kids through an awful lot of trauma, trauma that never seems to be fully addressed in the show itself. However, Hunt for the Thessalhydra offers a unique window into the way the kids view what has happened to them.
According to Mike Mearls, the lead designer of D&D at Wizards of the Coast, that was the intent. In an interview with Inverse, the legendary designer described the need the team felt to design something that felt “like there was something that originated in the world of Stranger Things. Something the characters interacted with, an artifact from the world.” Since this adventurer supposedly exists within the world of Stranger Things and was written by one of those kids, what sorts of things would they put into that game to help them through dark and troubling times?
Mearls answers that the writer of the adventure, Stan Brown, really tried to dig into what kids looking to heal would put into a D&D adventure:
“Mike is drawing inspiration from what just happened to him in real life. We send the players into Mike’s take on the Upside Down and that’s where you confront the Demogorgon. […] He’s trying to capture it as a monster that players can fight. You can imagine thinking of this as the adventure that the kids played, maybe this is them working through some of those fears. They’re afraid of this thing, so in the adventure, they meet it and defeat it.”

Kids on Bikes
If you are looking for a fleshed out tabletop RPG geared exactly toward people interested in role-playing after the adventures of the characters from Stranger Things, Kids on Bikes was basically made for you. The game puts players in a small town that the party works together to create. Each group comes up with rumors about their town and work together to develop the bonds between their characters. Much like the full cast of Stranger Things, players can take on the roles of kids, teens, or adults. The collaborative world-building makes each campaign unique and draws out the creativity from everyone playing.
Once play starts, the group will work together to solve the strange mysteries going on in their town. This largely revolves around role-playing with a sprinkling of simple rules. While plunging into the unknown and creepy depths of the story, players might discover a character with some sort of special power. When those characters come into play, everyone in the group collectively controls the character and their power making that individual a unique and unpredictable element in each game.
Unlike a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, Kids on Bikes isn’t meant to be empowering. Instead, players are pitted against overwhelming odds, monsters and forces far beyond mortal ken. It’s a game that relies on players to know when to run and how to play to their strengths.
Much like Stranger Things, the ideal timeframe for Kids on Bikes takes place during the 80s, though it can take place during earlier decades, too. The main rule of thumb for Kids on Bikes is to create a setting and characters where cell phones can’t be used to easily snag disturbing evidence of monsters. Using GPS to track threats won’t be an option. Historical records aren’t just a Google search away. These things or comparable information might all be possible with tools available in the town, but they shouldn’t be easy to obtain.
If you’re interested in seeing the game in action from start to finish, check out this playtest from Hyper RPG.

Stranger Dread
If neither Kids on Bikes nor Wizards of the Coast’s official Stranger Things box scratch that itch for paranormal horror, Ian Fraizer might have just what you’re looking for. Fraizer, the lead developer on Mass Effect: Andromeda, put together an adventure in 2016 called Stranger Dread. The journey into darkness takes about 2-4 hours to complete and was designed to be a chilling horror experience.
Stranger Dread makes use of the Dread rule system. Dread makes a shorthand version of its rules available for free and sells the full books for $12 USD or $24 USD depending on whether one wants the PDF or the physical book. The system of rules itself will be pretty different from what most tabletop role-players are used to: Instead of using dice, players must take one or more blocks out of a Jenga tower as they take actions. When the tower falls, something unfortunate happens to the character unlucky enough to cause it to tumble. This mechanic ties the tension and horror of the scenario to a tangible object that steadily grows more unstable as the game progresses.
The scenario of Stranger Dread takes place in the town of Mt. Pleasant, Illinois circa 1984. A 12-year-old boy named Cory Settler disappears from the local fair on July 12. Players take on one of six playable roles and begin searching for their missing friend. The story quickly becomes a descent into shadowy government conspiracies and an even darker evil lurking at the heart of Mt. Pleasant.
Much like the collaborative Kids on Bikes, players work together to create the fiction of the town and the relationships their characters have with one another. There are some directions and abilities between the different roles, but beyond that Stranger Dread seems to be a very flexible adventure. Fraizer designed the adventure to be very friendly for newcomers to run as well as experienced tabletop gamers, so if you’re looking to satiate that hunger for more Stranger Things, Stranger Dread might be just the game experience for you and your friends.
Plus, it’s free, so give it a look and see if it is your cup of tea.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
One year ago to the day, I put together a short campaign with Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition called Dragonguard as a part of Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. Since then, there have been 23 episodes spanning 27 hours of shenanigans from the tabletop to your ear holes. The final two episodes have finally been edited and sit ready for your listening pleasure. Join us one last time as we enter the finale of the Dragonguard campaign. 
Join Naomi Lugo (Nomsooni the druid), Marcus Stewart (Scratch Mangy the ranger), and Kyle Gaddo (Barphus the bard) as they don the armor of the illustrious Dragonguard, sworn to defend and protect the realm of Alterra from the dragons at its doorstep. Jack Gardner serves as the Dungeon Master, guiding our heroes through their journey.
Dispatched to the small town of Verne, the party began investigating rumors of draconic activity in the area. Learning of a kobold encampment deep within the Morrithil Wastes, they made their way into the vast swampland only to find a largely abandoned village built in the shadow of an ominous dragon skeleton. Encountering a number of old and infirm kobolds in the heart of the town, our heroes learned of an impending attack led by the vengeful dragon, Fallowfell. In an effort to convince Sir Rothurt, Verne's leader, to take the threat seriously, the party made an attempt to rescue his recently kidnapped son, Charles. Risking life and limb, they were able to save Charles only to be met with the awful revelation that Fallowfell had allies in the town itself. Now, Nomsooni, Barphus, and Scratch attempt to consolidate their power in the areas outside of Verne only to find themselves in ever-deepening danger from draconic evils, cunning opportunists, mystical threats, and (of course) themselves. The danger only increases when the party consult the wise oracle they had rescued from the dragon's forces, uncovering its secret identity and perhaps a means of thwarting its plans. After a catastrophic turn of events, the party finds themselves transported to another world where they are offered the chance to decide the fate of the world, as well as their own futures. 
If you want to get a sense of how great a time tabletop roleplaying can be, you're invited to enjoy the adventure along with us. Here's to the amazing things the gaming community accomplished over the past year and to the even greater things we will all do together in the years to come! You can listen to the new episodes below or start at the beginning with this handy SoundCloud playlist. 

"Furious Freak"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

"Shadowlands 1 - Horizon" "Super Power Cool Dude" "Bittersweet" "Dreamer" "Furious Freak"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Thank you to everyone who joined us on this crazy adventure. We hope you enjoyed the ride! 
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

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