Gabriel Contreras Fantasy Illustrations

Gabriel Contreras Interview: Storytelling Through Art

Recently, I had the chance to interview Gabriel Contreras, a freelance illustrator and writer from Austin, Texas who produces TTRPG adventure artwork aimed at inclusive roleplaying. For me, Gabriel's artwork breaks traditional fantasy boundaries and evokes the passion and mystery found in tabletop gaming.
May 08, 2022 — Shane Scarbrough
Nat 1 Will Hasbro Sell Dungeons and Dragons

Activist Investor May Force Hasbro To Dump Dungeons & Dragons And Wizards Of The Coast

Time to roll for initiative. It seems that the ongoing battle between Alta Fox, a Texas-based activist investment firm, and toy giant Hasbro is getting more heated. Alta Fox has been pushing Hasbro hard to spinoff Wizards of the Coast and all its intellectual properties (including Dungeons & Dragons) in an effort to increase Hasbro shareholder value.
May 01, 2022 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Spelljammer Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Spelljammer Is Coming To Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Spelljammer is coming to Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Currently slated for an August 2022 release, Spelljammer: Adventures In Space will allow gamers to explore the vastness of the cosmos and play in a sci-fi flavored universe.
April 21, 2022 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Dark Elf Dice Dnd Shop

Dark Elf Dice Site Redesign

It's been 8 years since we last updated the look and feel of the Dark Elf Dice website, and we thought it was time for a change :) We've been through a number of updates since we started our website all those years ago, but a few things have always remained the same...
April 02, 2022 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Fizban's Treasury of Dragons

Fizban's Treasury Of Dragons Getting Ready To Take Flight

It's been a busy year for the game designers at Wizard's of the Coast. It was just last month that I wrote about the upcoming release of two new Dungeons and Dragons books (in case you missed the article, you can read it here). Now we're being told about the release of yet another book before the end of the year: Fizban's Treasury of Dragons.

Fizban's Treasury Of Dragons

Well, you can't spell "Dungeons and Dragons" without "Dragons," and the Wizards team is focusing on all things dragonkind in this newest D&D 5e hardcover book. Set to release on October 19, 2021 Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is designed to be the ultimate guide to the most iconic creatures in tabletop roleplaying.

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons

Fizban (war hero, archmage, and dragon scholar extraordinaire) will be our invaluable guide and help us understand the myths and mysteries of dragons like never before. Within the pages of this treasury, players and Dungeon Masters alike will find:

  • A complete dragon bestiary with a variety of new dragons -- including the introduction of Gem Dragons and new dragon lair maps.
  • New player character options, including dragon-themed subclasses, new feats, spells, and draconic ancestries.
  • Legends and lore pertaining to the First World and Bahamut and Tiamat.

In Case You Missed It: Looking Back At The Dragon Issue 1

Final Thoughts

I suppose if I could only add one new Dungeons and Dragons book to my collection this year, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons would be it. I don't mean this as a slight to the other two book releases coming soon (my apologies to The Wild Beyond The Witchlight and Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos!), but there's always been a special place in my heart for dragons.

So what do you think? Will you be planning on adding Fizban's Treasury of Dragons to your collection? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

That's it for now, fellow travelers. I hope everyone has an amazing week and has an opportunity to get together with friends and family to play games and have fun. Until next time!

July 18, 2021 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Why Dungeons and Dragons?

Why Dungeons & Dragons?

Why Dungeons & Dragons? If you’re visiting Dark Elf Dice, chances are you're a fan of the world's greatest tabletop role-playing game and can hazard a guess. Still, I think it’s important to explain the roots of our business, and why I started a company to supply amazing dice for gamers and collectors all across the globe. Maybe my story is like yours? If not, perhaps you can relate to it in some way.

Product Of Your Imagination…

I’ll never forget my first introduction to the world of Dungeons & Dragons. It was shortly after Christmas day, 1981, and like usual I was hanging out with my best friend. We spent the better part of the day ice skating on the frozen channel behind Mike's house and playing Combat and Missile Command on his Atari 2600. If Norman Rockwell were to illustrate a picture forever commemorating the idyllic day of a 12 year old from my generation, this was it. No school, no responsibilities, and nothing to do but have fun!

Dungeons and Dragons

We had a few hours to kill before I had to go home for dinner, so Mike asked if I wanted to play a new game he got for Christmas. “Sure,” I said, thinking we were going to play Sorry or Monopoly. As we sat on his living room floor he brought out the Dungeons & Dragons basic set with the far-out cover illustration by Erol Otus (still my favorite D&D artist to this day). I was immediately drawn to the otherworldly colors and scene depicted on the box — the dragon rising from the depths of a subterranean river, the helmeted warrior leaning back with spear and shield, and the strangely alluring sorceress ready to hurl a green ball of flaming fire at the beast. This was definitely not Monopoly!

This Game Speaks To Me

Within moments of rolling up my first character, I was hooked. The strange dice, the heroic and mystical setting, the open world possibilities — Dungeons & Dragons completely and absolutely changed my concept of what a game was and should be. As a kid, I already had an active imagination fueled by the likes of Star Wars and Tolkien. D&D though seized my imagination in a memorable way. Sitting on that living room floor all those years ago, I came to the sudden realization that I wasn’t just hearing a story (like in a movie or book), I was the story. This was powerful and exhilarating. There was no radioactive spider from my childhood, but boy I was bitten.

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Growing Older

Dungeons and Dragons 2

Dungeons & Dragons has seen many changes since that time. Its principle creator has passed away, and the small Wisconsin company that introduced my generation to the possibilities of role-playing is sadly no more. Still, others have answered the call and stepped forward. Dungeons & Dragons is in excellent hands with a group of writers and designers who care deeply for the game and an outstanding company that acknowledges the game’s history, yet has unique visions for its future. The D&D franchise is over 40 years old, and is still rolling natural 20s all day long!

Why Dungeons & Dragons?

To conclude, D&D is worth celebrating. Personally, it’s a game that helped define my childhood and helped nurture my imagination in ways I could never dream possible. Just as importantly though, it’s a game that helped introduce me to friends and fellow gamers throughout the years. The imaginative and social aspects of D&D are the source of its power for older players such as myself, and for 12 year olds from this generation cracking open a D&D Starter Set for the very first time.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it fellow travelers! Thanks for letting me share this special memory with you. I've had many careers, but running Dark Elf Dice with my family truly is a dream come true. I feel blessed, each and every day, and I'm grateful that I'm able to share my passion for gaming with you all. In the end, I want us all to have fun -- just like that 12 year old from 1981, wide-eyed and brimming with excitement at the possibilities of untold imagination and adventure. Until next time!

July 04, 2021 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
The Dragon Issue 1

Looking Back At The Dragon Issue 1

I’m sure no one knew at the time, but TSR did something magical way back in June 1976 when they published The Dragon issue 1 (only later would the company shorten the title to Dragon and then finally Dragon Magazine in the late 80’s). Taking its roots from an earlier publication called The Strategic Review (a wargaming periodical), TSR established a magazine that focused completely on role-playing.

The Dragon Issue 1

Timothy J. Kask was hired by Gary Gygax to oversee The Dragon and be its editor. In the premier issue, Kask clearly stated what the publication hoped to accomplish when he wrote:

That mission is to publish the best magazine devoted to
Sword & Sorcery, Fantasy, Science Fiction and Role Playing
gaming. It is a newly developed field, and we admit to being only
as old as the following. However, we feel that our experience,
gained from publishing the STRATEGIC REVIEW, the pioneer
in the field, will stand us in good stead.

In 1976, fantasy role-playing was still in its infancy. Despite the growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, TSR was still taking a risk. Gary Gygax himself wasn’t sure what to expect, and years later said: “At no time did I ever contemplate so great a success or so long a lifespan.” By the time Dragon Magazine ceased publication in December 2013, 430 issues were published (the later ones online).

The Dragon Issue 1 Big

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Looking Back

When I look back on The Dragon issue 1, I’m immediately transported to a simpler time. No computers or graphic design programs were used to put the magazine together, and no email or text messages — hopeful contributors were encouraged to include a SASE with their submissions (+1 History check bonus for the rest of the session if you know what SASE means!).

The magazine is raw, yet powerful and truly captures the roots of our hobby in a historic, beautiful way. There’s the Bill Hannan cover illustration of a dragon painted in psychedelic colors, advertisements for gaming miniature companies now long since departed, a notice for Gen Con IX promising three full days of gaming, and a written piece by fantasy and sci-fi great Fritz Leiber. In a word, The Dragon issue 1 is magic. Pure magic.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for letting me ramble and wax nostalgic :) I have an old Citadel Tom Meier dragon circa 1980s that I'm planning to paint in a similar color scheme as the illustration on The Dragon issue 1. Hoping to get to it at some point, but it always seems I have a million things to do. Anyway, in my imagination the miniature looks amazing, and when I do finally finish the project I'll be sure to post pictures on the website.

So there you have it, fellow travelers. Hope everyone has an amazing day and as always, happy adventuring! Until next time.

The Dragon 2The Dragon 3The Dragon 4The Dragon 1

June 13, 2021 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
D&D Books

Two New D&D Books Announced

The good folks at Wizards of the Coast have been busy! It's only been a few months since the publishers of the world's greatest roleplaying game released Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, Candlekeep Mysteries, and Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft. If that wasn't enough new material for eager Dungeon Masters and players, Wizards just announced the release of two new D&D books.

D&D Books: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight

Billed as a "wickedly whimsical adventure for Dungeons & Dragons," The Wild Beyond The Witchlight is slated for a September 21 release. The D&D book will bring the Feywild to 5e for the first time and promises new characters, monsters, mechanics and story hooks. More will be revealed at this year's D&D Live 2021 (scheduled to take place on July 16 and 17), but I'm already excited. A Feywild-inspired adventure will make an awesome one-shot or two, or better yet, an entire campaign.

D&D Books The Wild Beyond Witchlight

D&D Books: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos

The second D&D book announcement is for Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. According to Wizards, the book will be available on November 16 -- just in time for the holidays. Like the Guildmasters' Guide To Ravnica before it, Strixhaven is another book set in a Magic: The Gathering world. More details will be shared at D&D Live 2021, but the book will include new character options, monsters, mechanics and story hooks.

In Case You Missed It: The Rise Of The Virtual Gaming Convention

D&D Books: Strixhaven

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, fellow travelers: two new D&D books to add to your collection this fall. Personally, I know I'll get both books (I'm a sucker for new character options and monsters), but the book I'm looking forward to the most is The Wild Beyond The Witchlight (strictly because of the Feywild setting).

So what do you think? Which D&D book are you most excited about? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below. Keep rolling nat 20s my friends, and don't forget to live each and every day with passion and kindness. Happy adventuring!

June 08, 2021 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Virtual Gaming Convention

The Rise Of The Virtual Gaming Convention

Hello fellow travelers! If you're like me, 2020 was a year to forget. As the Covid-19 Pandemic ravaged the world and disrupted our lives, I felt isolated and lonely. Our Wednesday night Pathfinder group stopped meeting in person and I retreated to the safe confines of my office, hidden away from friends and family as the world waited and hoped for things to get better. The months dragged on, but now as summer approaches in this promising new year, life is slowly starting to get back to normal.

Gaming Convention Shut Down!

It wasn't just my Pathfinder group that had to cancel, but it was the gaming cons as well. In a move that would have been thought of as inconceivable a few years back, gaming conventions such as Origins and Gen Con were shuttered. There were economic ramifications from shutting down of course, not to mention the thousands of disappointed would-be attendees. Still, most everyone understood that the health and safety of our fellow gamers came first.

Cancellations were unfortunate, but some cons that had enough time to prepare, like Reaper Con 2020, got creative and went completely virtual. I participated in several of the online painting classes at Reaper Con, and I can attest that the event was an amazing success. Thousands of gamers worldwide were able to attend the convention and take classes on everything from airbrushing to glazing from the likes of Anne Foerster (one of my favorite miniatures painters).

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The Virtual Gaming Convention

2021 is shaping up to be better than 2020, and in-person gaming conventions are already happening and being planned. This is exciting news of course, but the Pandemic has given rise to the virtual gaming convention, and I hope this format continues to grow.

Reaper Virtual Expo

Some organizers (using Reaper again as an example) are holding live conventions as well as dedicated, virtual events. Due to the success of last year's online version of Reaper Con, the inaugural Reaper Virtual Expo was born. This event, held earlier in March, is to be followed with the normal, in-person Reaper Con slated to take place in September.

Other groups, like Gen Con, are going the hybrid route, with both in-person and virtual events taking place concurrently. Even though this year's Gen Con was pushed back to September, organizers hope this hybrid approach will result in the largest number of gamers being able to get their game on.

And that really is one of the amazing possibilities of the virtual gaming convention format -- having an increased number of attendees being able to participate. Yes, I can't wait for in-person cons, but I would be seriously disappointed if the virtual conventions were completely done away with. Not everyone can go to Denton for Reaper Con, and not everyone can go to Indianapolis for Gen Con. Live streamed events on Twitch and Discord allow gamers from around the world to be part of the action.

As disruptive as the Pandemic was to the gaming community, perhaps something good has come about and virtual gaming conventions will be a permanent fixture...

Final Thoughts

So what are your thoughts fellow travelers? Have you participated in a virtual gaming convention or would you do so if given the opportunity? What do you think are the positives and negatives of an online format? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below, and as always, happy adventuring!

May 29, 2021 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Star Wars Day

Is It Star Wars Day Already?

Happy Star Wars Day fellow travelers. May the 4th be with you! If memory serves, the original Star Wars was released on May 25, but "May the 25th be with you" just doesn't cut it. So May 4th it is :)

Star Wars Day Is Every Day

It's hard to believe, but 44 years have passed since I watched Star Wars for the very first time. In so many ways, that movie was life changing for me and my generation. Yes, it sounds cliche, but you have to remember that back in those days life was pretty simple for an 8 year old kid. There was no fandom to speak of. No internet. No video games. No epic summer blockbusters. There were books, comics, and television of course, but nothing truly inspired my imagination like Star Wars.

I still have a crystal clear memory of that warm night in May, sitting in the movie theater with my mother, heart pounding as Luke Skywalker nosed his X-Wing into the Death Star's trenches, the whine of blaster fire ringing in my ears. Mom had seen Star Wars the night before, and I remember her coming home, feverish with excitement -- she insisted that I see the movie the next night. This was a rare treat, because she practically never brought me to the movies. I walked into that theater a kid, and walked out a geek newly minted, head filled with color and the possibility of limitless adventure.

In Case You Missed It: The Move To Idaho

Yoda Dice

To Infinity And Beyond

A few years later, I discovered Dungeons and Dragons, rolling up my first character as I sat cross-legged on my best friend's living room floor. The excitement I felt playing D&D for the first time was in many ways similar to the experience I had watching Star Wars. True, I don't remember my heart pounding, but I was filled with excitement and wonder as I rolled those strangely shaped dice and imagined a story where I was the hero...

And here I sit now, decades later in an office overflowing with those strangely shaped dice. Not cross-legged on a living room floor, but slouched comfortably in front of a computer screen as I type this week's blog article. I'm living a future that my 8-year old self could never have imagined, but I'm happy to say that I'm still that geeky little kid, head filled with color and wonder. Yes indeed -- this life still offers the possibility of limitless adventure.

Final Thoughts

So again I wish you a happy Star Wars Day! From one geek to another I encourage each of us to live our best possible lives -- lives filled with happiness and everlasting adventure.

Thanks Mom :)

May 04, 2021 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Dark Elf Dice Move

The Move To Idaho

As many of you know, Dark Elf Dice recently moved from Wisconsin to Idaho. The move was a long process, and things went relatively well as we traveled over 1,500 miles across six states (we got lost once in the Black Hills of South Dakota -- that was an adventure in and of itself, and if you're curious I'll tell you all about it if you shoot me an email). We reopened the shop last month, and things are now just starting to feel normal again.

Why Idaho?

You know, it's a question we get asked a lot -- why'd you leave Wisconsin and move across the country to Idaho? There really isn't a simple answer to the question. We don't have family here (some amazing friends though!) and only visited the state once before. I suppose like most things in life it's complex. My family and I were proud to call Wisconsin home for many, many years. My wife and children were all born in the Dairy State, and I've been a Wisconsinite for most of my life (the last 35 years). Perhaps we had grown too comfortable in our lives and needed a change. Maybe we felt time slipping away as we grew older, and honestly wanted something different...

The move here was two years in the making. We visited Idaho for the first time in the autumn of 2017 and truly fell in love with the state -- the people, the mountains, the weather. There really is an allure to the American West. In the end, things just seemed right for a new adventure. We cast the dice, rolled a nat 20, and decided to go for it.

More Space, More Dice

From a strictly business viewpoint, the move made a lot of sense. Our new workspace is huge (much larger than our old one) and we're able to stock and add more inventory (you'll be seeing lots of new dice and miniatures in the coming months!). Move to Idaho DiceAlso, we're much closer to a major postal hub in Boise, so our packages are being transported and delivered across the country and the world much faster. This definitely is an added bonus, because our business model has always stressed quick order fulfillment.

The End Result

So in the end, we find ourselves in a brand new place at the beginnings of a tremendous adventure. We're truly happy here in Idaho and find ourselves in the unique position of providing an even greater selection of products and even greater customer service than ever before.

Until next time fellow travelers! The year is more than half-way over, but there's a lot happening still in regards to new dice releases from Chessex, Koplow, MDG, Q-workshop and others. Stay tuned! And don't forget to live your best life ever :)

August 18, 2019 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News
Pathfinder Rogue Second Edition Features

New And Exciting Pathfinder Rogue Features

There's a lot of excitement surrounding the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game these days. The RPG fan favorite is undergoing a slew of changes in its upcoming Second Edition release. Gamers will get a chance to play test the new system at next month's GenCon (public playtesting begins August 2 and runs through the end of 2018).

There are hundreds of new spells, magic-items, feats and more. Core classes are also being redesigned in 2e, but it's the new rogue features that I find especially intriguing.

New Pathfinder Rogue Features

Rogues need to be quick and skillful, leveraging their unique abilities against unaware enemies. The Pathfinder Second Edition will help achieve this through a mix of classic and new game mechanics. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the new rogue features sure to excite players and Game Masters alike:

  • At 1st level, rogues get a surprise attack feature and can treat any enemy that has not taken its turn yet as if it were flat-footed. Strikes against a flat-footed enemy grant extra d6s of precision damage.
  • At 9th level rogues get to apply debilitating strikes against flat-footed enemies as well (allows the entangling or enfeebling of foes in addition to the extra damage). As a rogue levels, more conditions can be applied with debilitating strikes, culminating with Master Strike at 19th level (the potential to insta- kill!).
  • Rogues will now gain skill feats at a quicker rate (one per level instead of one every other level).
  • Skill feats are rich and wide-ranging, allowing rogues to enjoy varied play styles -- everything from iconic sneak and stealth rogues, to dungeon-delving specialists, to smooth talking con artists, to fences and burglars, to everything in between! Players will be able to use expanded skill feats to create a truly unique character.

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In addition to the features above, a variety of class feats will be available to rogues as they level. A few examples:

  • Nimble Dodge: a reaction that increases a rogue's Armor Class by 2.
  • Mobility: rogues move at half speed and ignore reactions triggered by movement (attacks of opportunity for example).
  • Reactive Pursuit: as a reaction, a rogue can chase after an enemy attempting to disengage.
  • Dread Striker: frightened creatures are treated as flat-footed.
  • Gang Up: allows a rogue to treat creatures within melee as flat-footed.
  • Instant Opening: a rogue can treat a single enemy within 30 feet as flat-footed until the end of the next turn.
  • Cognitive Loophole: rogues ignore a mental effect for a full round before it takes hold.
  • Blank Slate: immune to detection, revelation and scrying effects.
  • Twist The Knife: after sneak attack damage is applied, rogues can then apply persistent bleed damage equal to half their current sneak attack dice.

Pathfinder 2e Rogue Features

Final Thoughts

The above is only a sneak peak (pun intended), and there are many more new and exciting rogue features in store for Pathfinder Second Edition. All in all, the planned changes should allow players more variety when creating and roleplaying their characters.

So there you have it fellow travelers! What are your thoughts on the new Pathfinder rogue features? Do you plan on taking part in the upcoming Second Edition playtest? If so, what would you like to see tweaked or added to the rogue character class? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below. Until next time! Remember: life is the ultimate adventure, so keep rolling natural 20s.

July 08, 2018 — Shane Scarbrough
Tags: RPG News