Author | Robert A. Howard

Robert A. Howard

By day, I am a mild mannered -- okay, not so much on the mild side -- database developer. Technology was never the career that I intended to pursue. In fact, I had once imagined myself becoming an English teacher at the middle school or even high school level. Becoming a programmer was something that just happened as a result of having a computer in the house from a young age. It pays well enough though, and it turns out I'm better at doing that than I am at being patient with rowdy teenagers, so I'd say that it all turned out for the best.

It was much the same with roleplaying games. At this point in my life, I've been playing them far longer than I haven't. I grew up in a household that was very tolerant and actually encouraged this hobby, and even today, my wife and family are all very patient and understanding of my RPG diversions. So, here I am years later and I'm still playing table-top roleplaying games almost every week. This hobby, like computers, has become a life long obsession.

To complete the marriage of my developer and roleplayer sides, I launched a website called Pen & Paper Games (www.penandpapergames.com) a few years ago with the primary purpose of helping players find other players and games in their area. It is a great resource for anyone who is looking for other gamers that modernizes the old billboard method of finding other players and puts it all on a snazzy Google Map with an easy to search database of thousands of players. We also have an awesome community that has grown over the years. I'd encourage everyone to come and check it out.

Robert A. Howard (Yeah, I know.. Just one character off from being the famous author of Conan..)


Robert A. Howard

Dark Sun Campaign Setting (D&D 4e) Review

Posted on September 14, 2010 by

I’ve been waiting eagerly for the re-release of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting for a long time – since the early days of 3rd Edition, actually. Why? It’s an amazingly different world in comparison to the somewhat same old and tired fantasy settings out there. But, D&D 3e came and went and Dark Sun languished in some dark corner of the WotC offices – probably collecting dust next to Planescape – forgotten and dejected. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see this world in print again, but after a decade and half, Wizards of the Coast finally came through with a completely revitalized 4th Edition Athas.

If you haven’t been playing D&D forever and half or just never tried Dark Sun back in its heyday, let me tell you a little bit about what this setting has it store for you. Dark Sun has a very different feel than other settings you may have ever tried.

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Robert A. Howard

The Slaying Stone (D&D 4e Adventure) Review

Posted on September 7, 2010 by

The module itself is 32 pages long, printed in full color on what feels like good quality paper. There are a total of thirteen encounters presented in the nice one to two page format that has become customary in 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons supplements. Also included is an eight page foldout battle-mat of the town with a crumbling old mansion on the reverse side. There is very little in the way of artwork beyond the cover art and the encounter maps, unfortunately, and there are no handouts or props aside from the battle-mat. Although, I must say as someone who is incredibly horrible at drawing on a battle grid, I really appreciate having one included with the adventure.

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Robert A. Howard

The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea (D&D 4e) Review

Posted on May 7, 2010 by

The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea follows close on the heels of The Plane Below, expanding on the upper fundamental plane of the 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons “World Axis” cosmology. It presents a fantastic place where planar adventurers will find floating within an otherwise vast emptiness countless island motes, ancient battlefields, dangerous astral pirates, and the dominions of the gods themselves — some left shattered following a climactic battle fought eons past between the gods and the primordials known as the “Dawn War.” It is an ideal setting for a paragon or epic tier game and will make an excellent change of pace for the party who may have grown tired of the humdrum trappings of typical fantasy settings.

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Robert A. Howard

In the Company of Giants RPG Review

Posted on April 29, 2010 by

In the Company of Giants is one of the latest supplements by Rite Publishing that expands on their ever burgeoning campaign setting, Questhaven. This time, Steven Russell turns his attention to creating a playable race of giants, known as Jotun. (For the curious, a quick Wikipedia search will reveal “jötunn” to be the name given to giants of Norse mythology.) Though the jotun may be themed for giants of the Questhaven setting, everything within is completely portable to any 3.5e or Pathfinder game, which includes a full racial class progression from 1st to 20th level, a titan’s fistful of elemental themed powers, and several pages of feats to add to your jotun’s retinue.

The Jotunnar, as they are called in Questhaven, are an interesting variant of the traditional giants of Dungeons and Dragons, and are designed to overcome the biggest problems of introducing giants as a playable race.

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Robert A. Howard

The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (D&D 4E) Review

Posted on April 8, 2010 by

The Plane Below greatly expands on the Elemental Chaos, which is one of the fundamental planes of the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition cosmos. To be sure, this supplement is primarily intended for Dungeon Masters and is best suited for paragon and epic tier games. There is no doubt that the Elemental Chaos is aptly named, for although there are some relatively stable places to visit, much of the plane is filled with a roiling chaos of raw elements from which the rest of creation is derived. It is a hostile and alien place — just the sort of place to drop your players into unexpectedly to watch them squirm.

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Robert A. Howard

A Brief History of Gnolls Review

Posted on April 2, 2010 by

A Brief History of Gnolls is the first in a series of books planned by Skirmisher Publishing that explores the mythology surrounding classic fantasy monsters such as Orcs, Ogres, Goblins and Trolls. In this edition, Paul Haynie delves into the literary origins of the Gnoll, a creature born perhaps somewhat accidently within the last century. To be clear, this booklet is almost purely academic. So if you are looking for inspiration on using Gnolls in your game, this is likely not the product for you. If you’re interested in how this creature came to be added to our fantasy lexicon, however, this is an interesting, albeit short, read.

The PDF has two illuminating essays that detail the origin of the term “Gnoll” and the its path through the years — and various editions of Dungeons and Dragons and popular online games — to become the half-hyena creature that we all know so well today.

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Robert A. Howard

Restless Souls Review

Posted on February 25, 2010 by

Restless Souls comes to the gaming table with the interesting idea of playing a character who is not quite dead and not quite living either. This thirteen page add-on to your d20 or Pathfinder game is an expansion of the Questhaven campaign world by Rite Publishing, but the content within can easily be adapted to just about any fantasy setting. Within its pages, you will find a new template which will transform any (now dead) creature into a restless soul, along with twenty-two new feats and ten new spells.

The idea behind Restless Souls is a good one, and even as I read the opening introduction, as told by one of the restless dead themselves, ideas were already running through my head about how I could use this in one of my games. Restless souls, it is explained, are those who died having left some critical task yet unfinished — what adventurer doesn’t, right?

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