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Book Review: Azure Bonds

Posted by Sam Kressin in D&D

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Azure_BondsAzure Bonds, the first book in the Finder’s Stone Trilogy, is a Forgotten Realms novel published in 1988 (the 2nd year the Forgotten Realms Books were introduced) by Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak. I give this book four out of five stars. I thought it was great! The book captures the essence of a really good Dungeons and Dragons Campaign it even starts in a Tavern. It’s loaded with mystery and action. My only reason for holding off the fifth star is because the final ending of the story is a little bit weird and drags on longer than it needs other wise the entire book is a really fun read.

Here’s a quick spoiler free summary. Alias is a female sword for hire. She wakes up with a weird magical tattoo and a mute lizard man sidekick. She has no memory or recollection of where they came from. She then sets out a on a quest to discover the origin of the strange markings on her arm. This leads us through an awesome adventure where she teams up with a Halfling Bard and a Mage she has to battle dragons and take on all kinds of other challenges. I highly recommend this book.

The Forgotten Realms

Posted by Sam Kressin in D&D, Personal Journal

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DarkwellWhen I first discovered Dungeons and Dragons the Forgotten Realms published by TSR was in full swing. What intillitally drew me into D&D was the art work. To this day the illustrations, covers, paintings and drawings found inside the pages of many D&D manuals, books, supplemental materials and more are still some of my favorite. A major campaign found on the shelves of every gaming shop and many comic book stores was The Forgotten Realms.

Forgotten Realms is a complex fantasy world and literally an entire world with a complete history geographical maps and more. When I discovered this thing I had acquired the Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragons 2nd Edition Dungeon Masters Guide and the Players Handbook.  I had some major problems with it both these books. First interior pages of the book aesthetically did not hold up to the cover. I wanted to study this game despised the disappointing interior design of the books. However the game described within its pages was very complex and beyond the abilities of my young brain at that time. I still ran a number of campaigns but more or less made up the rules as I went.

Today I prefer a less restricted D&D campaign. One in which the DM and players can wing it as they go. I find myself getting really board when every character move has to undergo an ability check or some other type of dice roll. To this day I’d say I probably enjoy reading the campaigns and studying the worlds of D&D more than actual game play.

Back to my early encounters with The Forgotten Realms. Both the Dungeon Masters Guide and Players Hand Book priced in at $20 back in 1989 that would mean working and saving a lot of money as well as passing on a lot of comic books. The Forgotten Realms campaign books and supplemental materials weren’t much cheaper.  As awesome as The Forgotten Realms looked and as badly as I wanted to read those books I ultimately passed.

A few months after forgoing “The Realms” I was scouring though a used book store where I came across The Forgotten Realms Novels. Written by various authors TSR began publishing The Forgotten Realms Novels in 1987. These Novels existed to enrich the history and the stories of The Forgotten Realms (and to cash in on the popularity of the campaign)  but the number one thing these novels had, Bad Ass Covers and Bad Ass Titles! I’m talking about titles like “Black Wizards,” “Darkwell,” “Iron Helm,” “Curse Of The Shadowmage” and more. This is the kind of stuff I wanted to learn about! Now just take a look at some of the cover art;

Crystal_shard_cover Elfsong Shadows_Of_Doom Spellfire


















There was one major problem with these books. They were all novels 300+ pages each with small type and no pictures! I was a slow reader and couldn’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time reading something without getting bored. As gnarly as these books looked as much as they appealed to me I would have to pass.

Today as an adult I have the capacity to understand and comprehend a lot more than I did as a child and with audio books abundantly available I have decided it is time to journey through The Forgotten Realms. Therefore I have decided I will begin reading / listening to every single forgotten realms book in chronological order of publication. Beginning with the first one. Upon finishing each book I will write a short review and give  my opinions of it. My objective is to get through the entire library within two years time!

Dungeon Master

Posted by Sam Kressin in Personal Journal


Advanced D&D 2nd EditionI bought this in 1989 when it first came out. The purchase was made for no reason other than the fact that the painting on the cover was one of the most bad ass things I’d ever laid my eyes on. I took it home and what I tried to read was way to complicated for my young brain and I knew the job of Dungeon Master was far beyond my current abilities. I thought that perhaps if I was studious and I worked really hard I could one day be worthy to bear such a title that people would refer to me with the utmost reverence as “Dungeon Master!” Unfortunately I could never figure this damn game out. So I consulted with an older smarter kid at church I knew he had a lot of knowledge in this territory and I inquired to see if perhaps he could groom in the ways of D&D. Instead he introduced me to different game titled MERC by Fantasy Games Unlimited. This game was awesome. It came in a box. You got a manual these sort of classified looking character creation sheets and It was super easy to understand. Sadly I rarely had the opportunity to play it with him much so I did what any kid going through puberty, that was still afraid of girls, and often ostracized by ones piers for still playing with GI Joe’s, watching cartoons and having a love of comic books and all other things awesome would do and I got my grandmother to play it with me. Unfortunately she didn’t want to kill anyone and in this game MERC stands for Mercenary and Killing is the whole point of it. So after playing several non-lethal versions of this game I knew I had to move on. Fortunately it was right at this time I found TMNT and other Strangeness. This published around 1985 this was an older game but it still checked out. This game is loaded with illustrations by Eastman and Laird it had really cool character sheets, you could have Weapons, Weapons Proficiencies, Special Abilities, Scholastic Skills, Combat Skills and everything was an animal mutated towards a human. I spent hours creating the most awesome characters imaginable and there really wasn’t any purpose in rolling dice because I would just re-roll the dice until I got good numbers anyway. Then I’d type my characters up and file them away. The book TMNT and Other Strangeness is only 112 pages and it’s mostly about character creation with not much to go on by way of stories or adventures and so after having created an army of the most bad ass mutant animal characters that could still be comprehended by a human mind I lost interest in role playing games and I never became a “Dungeon Master!”