Archive for July, 2014

Hey all. Short update today. This week has been pretty insane with work and some other stuff (my brother had a baby). I’ve been cranking on the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. My hope was to share a module for ship combat today, but it isn’t quite ready so look forward to that in the near future.

Instead, I wanted to share with you some more excerpts from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. We’ll be talking about something key to all D&D campaign worlds – cities!

Making a City

Look at all these cities!

Look at all these cities!

When I sit down to create a city for Exploration Age, I try to think about three key questions.

  1. Why is this city important? In other words, why is the city still standing? What is its main industry? What defines this city as compared to others, even those within the same country? For instance, Los Angeles is a very different city from Chicago which are both very different from Boston. Each has its own architecture, its own layout, its own people and personality, and its own reasons to thrive.
  2. Where is the city located and why? Is this a port city? Is it near a body of water so its people can drink? Is it near a natural resource which fuels its main industry? Think about how location would influence the day-to-day lives of the people living within a given city. Icewind Dale’s Bryn Shander is very different from Calimport because of their locations in Forgotten Realms.
  3. Why would adventurers want to come to this city? Beyond passing through, what might make this city attractive to adventurers? Perhaps it is close to or contains some adventure sites, has a rare magic shop that specializes in items found nowhere else, is home to a guild or government that might hire the PCs, or is a great place to gather rumors and information. Maybe its a great vacation spot where they can spend their down time! There’s loads of ways to make a place attractive to adventurers, but remember to include those details. This is an oft overlooked question.

If you need a city and you’re stuck, get inspired by looking at the real world. Jot down your top three favorite cities, all the things you like about them and then mix and match details to make a great city on the fly!

And Now… Some Cities

The following are excerpts from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. It’s two cities from the human nation of Aeranore and one from the dwarf nation of Bragonay. Feel free to steal these cities for your own worlds if you don’t want to set your game in Canus. Let me know what you think!

Oliath (City Population 120,000)

The capital city of Aeranore is where Queen Icillia IV makes her home and holds court. Oliath is built upon a large hill, sprouting up on a lonely, flat plane. Atop the hill are the city’s most important buildings which can been seen throughout the land, The Grand Cathedral of Immortality, The Royal Palace of Reganta, and The Castle of the Council. At the bottom of the hill are the docks, welcoming boats that have come by various rivers after journeys on the Elma Ocean. All manner of residences and shops are layered between the top and bottom of the hill. As the saying goes in Oliath, the higher up the hill you live, the higher your income must be. Nobles and the upper class live at the top of the hill and folks become poorer as one gets closer to the docks. The massive city is known for the hill’s steep, winding roads and the massive, fifty-foot high, semicircular wall around the base where Oliath does not touch its namesake lake.

People of Oliath are all business. They hurry from place to place with little regard for the people around them. Many visitors think this behavior is quite rude, but the people of Oliath would tell you that getting in the way of someone with important business is more impolite. Its not that they are mean, its just that they have more important things on their mind.

Oliath is also home to Aeranore’s largest military compound and prison. All new recruits are trained in Aeranore and the military leadership lives and works within the city so they can be close to the queen. The military’s campus, Reganta Grounds, takes up almost a full eighth of the city. Massive dormitories, training grounds, mess halls, offices, stables, and equipment bunkers make up most of the area.

The city’s prison, Queensgard, is actually built into the hill itself. There is only one known entrance, but there are whispers of an Underdark passage into Queensgard that is known only by the military’s highest officers. Literally, the city of Oliath sits atop its prisoners.

Vacurion (City Population 90,000)

Aeranore’s Vacurion is often called The City of Pleasures and it truly delivers. During the day a traveler might want to experience one of Vacurion’s spas, parlors, or bathhouses to relax and prepare for the night. At night music, theatre, food, drinking, gambling, and other entertainments are all available for a person who is interested. The town even has special pleasure resorts in upscale neighborhoods instead of inns and taverns. These resorts will take care of all a traveler’s needs during his or her stay. The excitement doesn’t end there. Vacurion is full of exotic marketplaces and rare goods for sale thanks to it being on the Brellonic Coast. The city itself is a vibrant pink color, thanks to the unique sandstone used to make many of its buildings. Most of the residents of Vacurion don’t enjoy such a lavish life-style, since they are providing it to travelers, but they do live fairly well on the tips and kindness of patrons. They live in Vacurion’s towering pink apartment complexes and are usually as pleasant off duty as they are on.

In addition to being a place known for wild or relaxing vacations, Vacurion is also a place where many expeditions and immigrants leave for Verda. Mercenaries come to relax before heading out on a job across the ocean or after getting back from one. The rare goods found in the markets are alongside all manner of adventuring gear. Plus, there are always captains looking for crew and protection.

Because it attracts many wealthy people, Vaurion is also a target for pirate raids. As such, they have built a wall mounted with cannons around their dock district. The gates into and out of the docks can be dropped at a moment’s notice, trapping the pirates, and anyone with them, inside the district to be pummelled with cannons. This has prevented many raids, but they do occasionally still happen. Still, the rent is dirt cheap in the docks district as a result, so it’s not all bad!

Kerdabi (City Population 85,000)

Bragonay’s capital began deep inside The Spine of Bragonay’s Ahdagah Mountain which borders The Rocky Wastes. The sprawling city has since grown beyond the inside of Ahdagah Mountain. Its tunnels and structures spill out onto the mountain’s sun-baked surface.

Outside the mountain, things are a bit more lawless. This is where the peasant class and some artisans live and work. The soldiers do not patrol the area as much as inside, so criminal activity is far more commonplace. The black markets have goods rare and illegal, orange spice dens hide in plain sight, thugs intimidate shopkeepers for collection fees, and cutpurses stalk the crowded ledges along the sides of Ahdagah Mountain. The structures and traffic on the narrow ledges of the mountain, make living in outer Kerdabi a congested experience. To avoid disease being spread, the dead are burned as quickly as possible. The very top of Ahdagah Mountain is actually home to the world’s largest funeral pyre. A group of volunteer peasants keep it running all day and night. Kerdabi’s famous adamantine mines are accessible by tunnels separate from the inner city, so some of the peasants have never even seen the inside of Ahdagah Mountain.

Inner Kerdabi is another world. The air is better, the temperature is cooler, and the streets are less crowded. This is where the upper castes make their homes and conduct business. The most successful artisans live and work here, soldiers train for war here, and the fate of Bragonay is decided in these halls. Empress Najwa’s palace and the Warlord Chambers sit in a gated compound in the center of town. Once a year all of Bragonay’s noble caste is invited to come to Kerdabi and appeal to the warlords and empress in a summit on the first day of Summer. Kerdabi’s most famous attraction however, is its indoor arena, where volunteer gladiators are welcome to take on one another as well as monsters and beasts. The arena can even be flooded for naval battles.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Advertisements

Hey everyone! Jeff Greiner, Tracy Hurley, and Sam Dillon had me back on The Tome Show to review some Planescape PDFs currently available on dndclassics.com.

I’m not going to link the adventures here, because I want you to use the affiliate link I posted about on through The Tome Show’s website (it helps support the show).

Also in this podcast is an interview with Monte Cook himself!!!

You can listen here:

http://www.thetomeshow.com/e/planescape-pdf-review-featuring-monte-cook-tome-236/ 

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

On Thursday last week I wrote a post about the nature and game mechanics of aasimar in Exploration Age. In that post I hinted briefly that deva PCs would be available to my players as well. This was not the first time I mentioned deva – they also made an appearance in a post I wrote about the multiverse in Exploration Age. So now, let’s get a little more in-depth with the deva as a PC race in Exploration Age.

The Eternal War

Reborn and ready for war.

No one is sure which came first – the demonic rakshasa or the angelic deva. Both claim to have given rise to the other. It certainly is a chicken and egg situation. A deva who lives an evil life will be reborn as a rakshasa and a rakshasa may defy its nature, live a life of selflessness and charity, and be reborn a deva. These two races, who are so connected, also hate one another. Both will stop at nothing to see their enemy’s complete obliteration. Of course each race’s immortality makes that nigh impossible, unless all deva are reborn as rakshasa or visa versa.

Deva live on the plane of Biatopia, fighting a never-ending was with the rakshasa as both races are eternally reborn. Deva have bards who sing at the top of their voices in battles. These bards focus on songs of selfless heroic deeds and the value of good. It is the hope of the deva forces these songs will change the hearts of the rakshasa before their deaths in battle and bring the demonic beings back as one of the good guys. This tactic rarely works, but it is only one method the deva use to convert their foes. Many defeated rakshasa are taken as prisoners of the deva, confined to small, anti-magic cells, where they are shackled. The deva then engage the rakshasa in a sort of conditioning to try and make them see the light. This tactic seems to have some success, but the rakshasa actually seem to be slowly winning the war.

The rakshasa tactic is very straight forward. They commit acts of atrocious evil against the deva and try to make the deva retaliate in kind. The eternal war has broken the spirit of many deva and some are pushed over the edge when rakshasa openly torture their friends.

Some deva (and rakshasa) are so weary of The Eternal War and so these renegades have left Biatopia in hopes of seeking a better life on the Material Plane.

Deva Religion

Most deva believe their immortal souls are actually a piece of a soul of one true creator god who they call Zaxa. Their religion is known as Zaxism and they believe this god was benevolent. It is said when Zaxa created the multiverse, the effort tore his soul asunder into many small pieces. These pieces fell into Biatopia and became the deva. As deva lived their lives, those who were wicked were reborn as rakshasa. Zaxists believe if they can convert all rakshasa to deva they can enact a ritual in which they will sacrifice themselves and restore Zaxa to existence.

Zaxists are told that Zaxa’s heart survived the creation of the multiverse and was forged by a deva master craftsman into a hammer. This hammer, Zaxa’s Heart, is said to be able to remove both deva and rakshasa who are slain by it from existence. Those laid low by the hammer will not be reborn. If this is true, there is no way to know. Zaxa’s Heart was lost long ago in a battle during The Eternal War. Ranmar, the first deva to wield the hammer was captured by the rakshasa in battle before he got to use it. Before his capture he teleported the weapon away to an unknown location. Ranmar has not been heard from for thousands of years.

Deva as PCs

Just checking out my orb. Like ya do.

Many deva worry that they are forsaking the cause of their people when they head to Canus seeking a life of adventure and leave the front lines of The Eternal War. Biatopia’s deva citizens are warned that this act alone is selfish enough to fate them to a rakshasa rebirth. Though many now know truth is much more complicated.

Some deva adventure so they might experience new worlds and cultures. Others leave Biatopia in the hopes of actually accomplishing something in the multiverse as opposed to fighting a desperate, never-ending war. Then there are those who strike out on their own for a greedy purpose. They don’t wish to be part of The Eternal War any longer because they don’t enjoy working with a group and want to live a life at the expense of others. These devas often feel they are owed something for their service and are usually the ones reborn as rakshasa in Biatopia when they die.

A deva’s life on Canus is one of discoveries both wondrous and disappointing. The variety of experiences and the moments of life’s pure joy astound and delight most deva, while the cruelty of non-demonic humanoids disgusts them. Deva often find themselves fighting a different sort of never-ending war, against the cruelty of civilized humanoid races. This can make some deva jaded, broken, and world-weary. Too many lifetimes with such cruelty has turned more than one deva toward alcoholism and orange spice addiction.

For other adventuring deva, this is not their first lifetime on Canus. They have been in the Material Plane and other places in the multiverse for as far back as they might remember. These deva usually have a pleasant outlook on the world and sometimes travel with the ancestors of people with whom they adventured lifetimes ago.

A deva adventurer might be a wizard traveling the multiverse in search of the origin of magic, a cleric searching the Material Plane for rakshasa to kill, a barbarian tired of The Eternal War and hoping to do some real good in Canus, or anything you dream.

Deva Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1, your Wisdom score by 2.

Age. Devas are born as humans and have an immortal life span. They do not die of old age, but can be killed by disease or by wounds.

Alignment. Most devas tend toward good alignment. They may have been first made that way, and now lifetime after lifetime has taught them that being virtuous to others has its own reward. Many deva are also lawful. They follow their own codes of conduct so they don’t slip into a wicked life and return as the thing they hate most.

Size. Deva range from 6 to 6-and-a-half feet tall and weigh as much as humans do. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Astral Resistance. You have resistance to necrotic and radiant damage.

Cantrip. You know one cantrip of your choice from the cleric spell list. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability score for it.

Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes. When you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check and dislike the result, you can roll 1d10 and add it to the result. You must complete a short rest before you can use this ability again.

Worldly Knowledge. You have proficiency in the History skill.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Celestial and Common.

The End… Or Is It?

You know what? You guys are awesome. Thank you for reading, sharing, and commenting on my blog. Last week was my most successful week ever and that is thanks to you all.

Since you have been so awesome, I actually want to share a few more of the game mechanic I created for some more D&D races which won’t be in the player’s handbook. Say hello to the mul, shardmind, and thri-kreen. You can read more about these races in Exploration Age in my previous post Stealing Races.

Mul Traits

This guy is pumped to be here.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, your Constitution score by 1.

Age. Muls mature a few years before humans, and have a slightly shorter lifespan.

Alignment. Muls usually to keep to themselves and not get too involved in the matters of others, so they tend to be more neutral rather than good or evil. They run the gamut with respect to law and chaos. Some lawful muls have personal codes which guide their adventuring, while chaotic muls live life without caring what others may think of them.

Size. Mul range from 5 to a little over 5-and-a-half feet tall. Your size is Medium.

Darkvision. Thanks to your dwarven heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 30 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Dwarven Toughness. Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.

Incredible Resolve. You can end any incapacitated, paralyzed, or stunned condition effecting you on the start of your turn. You must complete a short rest before you can use this ability again.

Mul Vitality. You gain an extra hit die.

Tireless. You have advantage on saving throws and ability checks against increasing your exhaustion level.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Dwarven.

Shardmind Traits

Fancy!

Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 2, your Wisdom score by 1.

Age. Shardmind are forged as fully-formed adults and have an immortal lifespan.

Alignment. Shardminds tend toward neutrality on both the good and evil scale and the law and chaos scale.

Size. Shardminds are the same height as and slightly heavier then humans. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Construct Rest. Instead of sleeping, you enter a sleep‐like state. You need to remain in it for only 4 hours each day. You do not dream; instead, you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal. After resting this way, you gain the same benefits a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

Crystalline Mind. You have resistance against psychic damage.

Living Construct. Even though you were constructed, you are a humanoid. You are immune to disease. You do not need to eat or breathe, but you can ingest food and drink if you wish.

Shard Swarm. As an action, your body breaks apart and moves 15 feet and reforms. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks. Every creature adjacent to you before you move must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + your Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the saving throw take 1d10 piercing damage. You must rest before you can use this ability again.

Telepathy. You can communicate telepathically with any creature within 60 feet of you that understands a language.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

Thri-kreen Traits

Look, Ma! Four hands!

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, your Wisdom score by 1.

Age. Thri-kreen have short life spans. They mature around five years of age, and only live about 30 years.

Alignment. Many thri-kreen are lawful neutral. They are loyal to their friends and tribe, but suspicious of those they do not know well.

Size. Thri-kreen are usually around 7 feet tall and weigh between 400 and 500 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 35 feet.

Multiple Arms. Thri-kreen have two large arms and two smaller arms. Your large arms function as a human’s normally do, and the smaller arms can be used to wield light weapons in combat. As a bonus action, you may use your thri-kreen claw attack or attack with a light weapon wielded by of the smaller arms. You do not add your ability modifier to the damage of this bonus action attack.

Natural Jumper. Whenever you make a Strength (athletics) check to jump, you have advantage. In addition, you are always considered to have moved at least 10 feet on foot whenever you jump, even if you have not (in other words, you always jump as if you had a running start). You can long jump a number of feet equal to 5 + your Strength score and high jump a number of feet equal to 5 + your Strength modifier.

Thri-kreen Claws. Thri-kreen have claws. These natural attacks count as light, finesse melee weapons which deals 1d6 piercing damage. All thri-kreen are proficient with their claws.

Torpor. Instead of sleeping, you enter a state of torpor. You need to remain in it for only 4 hours each day. You are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal when you are in this state. After resting this way, you gain the same benefits a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Thri-kreen.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Hey, hey! A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on the Tome Show’s website!

Alex Basso, Vegas Lancaster, and Andrew Kane, and I continue to break down the free Basic D&D pdf chapter by chapter. This time we’re tackling adventuring rules, combat, and magic. If you missed the crew breaking down Part I of the Basic rules, check it out here. This podcast was recorded on July 14, 2014. If you love Vegas, check out the Philly N Crowd.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Last week, I wrote about stealing races from other settings and bringing them into your world. Along those lines, I want to give you a peek at my way of bringing one of my favorite races into the game – the aasimar.

I know there are loads of tiefling fans out there. Who could blame you? Tieflings have a very compelling story. I do find it strange, however that tieflings are going to be in the core of fifth edition in the Player’s Handbook, while the aasimar is overlooked. Here’s some proof via Wizards of the Coast tweet.

See? There is a tiefling entry and not an aasimar entry.

See? There is a tiefling entry and not an aasimar entry.

Aasimar is the natural opposite of the tiefling – humanoids infused with celestial blood as opposed to the tiefling’s infernal heritage. At first blush, I can see an argument being made for aasimar having a less compelling story than tieflings. They don’t have dark temptations and are just boring goody two-shoes (and that’s ok if that’s what you want to play). But I think aasimar can be different than they are in all of their various incarnations. Just like many of the races in Exploration Age, I’ve tweaked their story to fit the setting.

Quick Aasimar in D&D History

If you don’t know a lot about the previous publication history of aasimar I’ll give you the bullet points here. For more information you check check out Wikipedia. Here’s the basic overview.

  • Aasimar were introduced in the second edition Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II as monsters and then as a PC race in the Planewalker’s Handbook. In this setting they are a race of (usually) good aligned humanoids with celestial heritage.
  • Aasimar were in third edition from the start in the Monster Manual. They became a PC race when the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting was released. Their story and background did not change so much from second edition.
  • In fourth edition there were no aasimar, but we did get devas. Instead of having celestial lineages, devas were immortal beings who lived a series of mortal lives. Devas would be reborn after death. If they lived a cruel and evil life, they might return as a rakshasa rather than a deva. Their story is quite different from the aasimar of previous editions.

Devas vs Aasimar

I really love devas. Their story can create some very intriguing characters who have lived multiple lives. That’s pretty awesome! I also love the aasimar. Their story reminds me of the heroes of Ancient Greece, like Perseus, Aeneas, and Hercules. Those heroes were mortals with a touch of divinity in their blood. I’m not of the mind one needs to go so another can stay. I have room for both devas and aasimar in Exploration Age (and my heart).

This post will be mainly about the aasimar, but if you’re looking for some information as to how the deva fit into Exploration Age, check out this post I wrote about Exploration Age’s multiverse and read all about Biatopia and the eternal war between the rakshasa and deva.

Aasimar in Angelia

That is a huge sword. HUGE.

On the plane of Angelia celestial beings have watched the multiverse for as long as any can remember. Ever vigilant, these angelic beings are unconcerned with all but the greatest of evils. As these beings watched the planes, a few of the celestials, known now as The Yearning Hearts, fell in love from afar with humans on the Material Plane.

While this was not strictly forbidden in Angelia, taking a mortal lover was certainly taboo. However, The Yearning Hearts were too in love to worry about the other celestials might think. They took their mortal lovers away from the Material Plane and brought them to Angelia. It was not long before The Yearning Hearts and humans started families. Their children were the first aasimar.

After a time the mortals died and it seemed that the aasimar too had finite lifespans. The Yearning Hearts cared for the aasimar as their children, but the other celestials would not let the aasimar into their day-to-day lives. Aasimar could not take up the watching and guarding of the multiverse, for while they were usually good-hearted and kind, aasimar were also corruptible, like their mortal parents. So they were confined to a single city in Angelia and told by the celestials never to leave its walls.

For millennia the aasimar lived in an isolated city of crystal atop a cloud. For this reason, they named their city Crystalis. It was ruled by a mayor and six council members, elected for decade-long terms. The aasimar were as prosperous as an isolated city can be. They learned to craft weapons and armor out of rare starmetal, which were sold to the rare visiting celestial being. Other aasimar took to practicing various art forms with all of their free time. They became a race of master craftsmen and performers.

As large and beautiful as Crystalis was, many of its inhabitants saw it as a prison. The aasimar became frustrated, feeling their existence was pointless and some despaired. Others were driven to fits of rage or simply gave into violent impulses as a sick way to entertain themselves. The mayor and council at the time appealed to The Yearning Hearts. The aasimar no longer wished to stay in Angelia for their own health and sanity.

The Yearning Hearts were devastated that their children had come to this. In a ritual fueled by The Yearning Heart’s sacrifice they opened an enormous, temporary portal to the Material Plane. Crystalis floated upon its cloud into the world of Canus, just over Aeranore.

History of Crystalis in Canus

At first the folk of Aeranore thought they were being invaded. The aasimar were mostly happy to be in their new world, so they made offerings of peace to the Aeranorians – gifts of celestial weapons and armor for the royal court.

As the Talianans, Bragonians, and Marrialans learned of Crystalis and the love between the Aeranorians and the aasimar, many feared Aeranore had well-equipped allies who might pose a threat. Not wishing to cause trouble for the Aeranorians, the floating city of Crystalis now spends its days doing a slow, but constant loop around Findalay. The city can only float over land, but it cannot not cross over the ocean so it is confined to the continent. Crystalis merchants sell their wares to the various Findalayans whom they see on their circuit. Starmetal is more difficult to come by these days, but the aasimar are still master crafters.

So far, Crystalis has managed to stay neutral during any conflict between the nations of Findalay, though all nations have pressured the aasimar to ally with them at some point during a conflict. All that pressure might just be working…

Crystalis Today

Today, Crystalis continues to do its slow rotation around Findalay. One full rotation takes the city about a year, so the people of Findalay know when the floating city will come to their neck of the woods. Crystalis stops near major cities and airships carry passengers to the gates. The merchants of Crystalis sell their wares to the Findalayans while street performers put on shows. At night, one can find something to eat in one of the city’s many restaurants and then see a show in one of its theaters. After a week or so, Crystalis moves on to the next Findalayan city.

Anyone is welcome within the gates of Crystalis and the city is always accepting new permanent residents. Despite these open policies, most of the population of Crystalis is still aasimar. Many Findalayans do not wish to live a nomadic life of travel. For that matter, some aasimar are tired of it. Aasimar are not required to stay within their city walls, and so many leave and seek adventure out in the world.

Other aasimar want to stay in Crystalis, but wish the city wouldn’t move around between nations. Though they may not all go public with their opinions, most assimar have a desire to ally themselves with one of the Findalayan nations. These desires have led to heated debates amongst the planetouched. The forthcoming council elections may spell big change for Crystalis. On the other hand, there is a faction of aasimar who want nothing to do with any of the Findalayan nations’ petty squabbles and believe Angelia is their one and only home to which they must return with all haste.

With so many factions, the city is almost at a breaking point. Each of these factions has taken a simple name to identify themselves, known as the Friends of . So those aasimar who sympathize with Bragonians are the Friends of Bragonay, those who wish to return to Angelia are the Friends of Angelia, and so on. Each faction has candidates in the upcoming elections.

The Holy Cleansers

There is another, darker faction of aasimar. Those planetouched who believe their existence is born of a tainted celestial bloodline. These aasimar belong to a secret society – The Holy Cleansers. They have one goal – end all aasimar life. It is said that once they have extinguished all aasimar but themselves from the world, members of The Holy Cleansers will then take their own lives. Little else is known about this secret cabal, but they seem to be planning something big.

Aasimar as PCs

What a badass!

Aasimar are good folk who have seen much of the world, but not experienced it. Some might see them as naive and inexperienced, for they are trusting and believe in the good of people, but aasimar do not suffer the wrath and hate of others. They become impassioned about their causes. Often aasimar dedicate themselves to righting the wrongs of others, even when it is not always their place to do so. The gray issues of Canus seem more black and white to them, which means they come down on one side of the issue with almost blind loyalty and fight for it to the end. Some of the most emotional arguments ever witnessed happen when two aasimar disagree.

Aasimars who leave Crystalis might do so for a myriad of reasons. They might have a passionate viewpoint they intend to bring to the world, they may have fallen in love with someone who lives outside the city gates, they might feel more allied with a government other than their own, or perhaps they just have an intense desire to see more of the world. Most Findalayans have seen aasimar before and treat them as a passing curiosity. In Verda and Parian, aasimar are more rare and might be met with stares, probing questions, and even fear. Aasimar do not have a religion of their own, but often invoke spirits of their ancestors and The Yearning Hearts when seeking guidance and in times of trouble.

An aasimar adventurer might be a paladin ridding the world of whatever he or she deems to be evil, a cleric recently converted to a different religion, a wise druid hermit who trusts plants and animals more than the fickle people of the world, or anything you dream.

Aasimar Traits

Thanks to a recent tiefling preview tweeted out by Wizards of the Coast and some old SRDs, I was able to create some game stats for aasimar PCs. These are the stats I’ll be offering my players for my fifth edition games until official statistics are released. Feel free to use them in your game as well!

Aasimar share certain traits as a result of their celestial descent.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.

Age. Aasimar mature at the same rate as humans, but live a few years longer.

Alignment. Aasimar have an innate tendency toward good, but those who have suffered hardships in life can be steered toward evil. Their hearts tend to stay true to the causes in which they believe and good or not, aasimar often to hold themselves to individual codes so they tend toward lawful alignments.

Size. Aasimar are the same size and build as humans. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Thanks to your celestial heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Celestial Resistances. You have resistance to cold, lightning, and radiant damage.

Celestial Legacy. You know the thaumaturgy cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the cure wounds spell once per day as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reach 5th level, you can cast they daylight spell once per day. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Celestial and Common.

You may need this one since it isn't in the Basic D&D pdf.

You may need this one since it isn’t in the Basic D&D pdf.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It’s RPG Blog Carnival time once again! This month’s theme – invasive species! If you’ve been following my blog you know that this is one of my most very favorite subjects. Big shout out to Garrison James over at Hereticwerks for this badass theme of amazingness!

Invasive species have spoken to us as enemies and engines of conflict for a long, long time. Aliens are the obvious example – Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Independence Day, and The War of the Worlds are good examples of little green men as invaders. Yet, the idea of invasive species goes beyond aliens. Monster movies like Godzilla and Cloverfield could be considered to have the invasive species theme. Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds clearly has it. What about microorganisms? Even Y: The Last Man could be considered a story with invasive species. Heck, we see it in our real world all the time! Kudzu in Georgia, African hippos in Colombia, and Burmese pythons in Florida are all examples of real world invasive species.

Even the tagline for Cloverfield ads played on the idea of invasive species.

Anyway, you get the idea. It’s a topic central to many great stories. If you’ve been following World Builder Blog the last few months, then you already know two of its iconic invasive species. Today I’ll be presenting you with the Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition statistics for the half-devil, half-aberrant morchia and the mind controlling, parasitic mystauk.

Morchia

Like this but with more aberrant stuff!

The morchia are known as The Sleeping Ones, since The Reckoning Spell put a majority of them literally to sleep in the Verdan Underdark. Still, some of the beasts have escaped the tiefling’s ritual. These half-aberrant, half-devil monstrosities live to punish all other sentient races who would call Canus home and claim a piece of it for themselves. They have a particular hatred for metallic dragons, whom they see as the oppressors and murderers of their parent races, and for tieflings, who use The Reckoning Spell against them.

Morchia are often hatching plots which involve the destruction of a local people or settlement. While they rarely work with native races of Canus, they will work with aberrants, devils, and weak creatures who are subservient to them. Those lesser beings who know their place will be rewarded.

Because of their aberrant heritage, every individual morchia has a distinct and unique appearance. Some have tentacles, others many stalked eyes, others have multiple, sharp-toothed maws, and so on. Some have many aberrant features, but all have at least one.

Morchia share a common set of traits given to them by their fiendish parents. All morchia have a set of horns upon their heads, clawed fingers, and a fierce, spear-tipped tail. They also inherited some of the devil’s resistances.

Morchia

Large monstrosity

Armor Class 16

Hit Points 157 (15d10 + 75)

Speed 4o ft.

Senses darkvision 100 ft.

Str 22 (+6)

Dex 17 (+3)

Con 21 (+5)

Int 18 (+4)

Wis 17 (+3)

Cha 15 (+2)

Saving Throws Dex +5, Con +7, Wis +5

Alignment lawful evil

Languages Common, Infernal, Undercommon

Traits

Damage Resistance: The morchia is resistant to cold, fire, poison, and damage from nonmagical weapons except those made of silver.

Magic Resistance: The morchia has advantage on saving throws against magical effects.

Telepathy: The morchia can communicate telepathically with any creature within 100 feet of it that can understand a language.

Actions

Multiattack: The morchia can make two claw attacks, one claw attack and one hurl flame attack, or two hurl flame attacks.

Melee Attack – Claw: +8 to hit (reach 10 ft.; one target). Hit: 14 (2d8 + 6) piercing damage.

Melee Attack – Rend: If the morchia hits one creature with two claw attacks on the same turn, it may use rend against that creature as a bonus action. +8 to hit. Hit: 22 (4d8 + 6) piercing damage.

Ranged Attack – Hurl Flame: +6 to hit (range 100 ft. one target). Hit: 21 (6d6) fire damage.

Aberrant Traits

Every morchia has at least one aberrant trait (and many have more). Roll on the chart below at least once to give the morchia a special ability. Unless otherwise specified, the GM determines the exact nature of the morchia’s physical feature. For instance, if a morchia has the four tentacles feature, these tentacles can grow from their head, back, waist, or anywhere else the GM chooses. GMs may feel free to plunder abilities from other aberrant creatures rather than use the table below.

d12 Feature Effect
1 Four Tentacles When using multiattack, the morchia may make tentacle attacks in place of a claw of hurl flame attacks. Tentacle: +8 to hit (reach 15 ft.; one target). Hit: 11 (1d10 + 6) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled. Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained. The morchia has four tentacles, each out which can grapple only one target.
2 Multiple stalked eyes The morchia may use its action to fire 1d4+1 eye rays. Use the beholder eye ray ability to determine the effects.
3 Constantly speaking mouths grow all over the morchia’s body, constantly speaking infernal incantations The whispers drive fear into the hearts of the morchia’s enemies. The creature gains a fear aura. Fear Aura: Any creature which starts its turn within 5 feet of the morchia must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. Failed Save: The creature is frightened for 1 minute. Successful Save: The creature is immune to this morchia’s fear aura 24 hours. In addition, as a bonus action the morchia may attack an adjacent creature with a bite attack. +8 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one target). Hit: 12 (1d12 + 6) piercing damage.
4 A foul smelling, purple ooze exudes from the morchia’s pores and absorbs harmful magic The morchia is immune to spells of 6th level or lower, but can choose to be effected by any spells cast upon it.
5 The morchia can float above the ground, propelled by an unnatural force. The morchia gains a fly speed of 40 ft. It cannot be knocked prone and continues to float, even when stunned or knocked unconscious.
6 The morchia’s forehead protrudes, a signal that its mental prowess is beyond that of other morchia. As an action, the morchia can use Dominate Person: The morchia chooses one target it can see within 50 feet. The target must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. Failed Save: The morchia has access to all of the target’s thoughts and memories, and the target is charmed for 1 day or until the morchia or one of the morchia’s companions harms it, or until the morchia is killed. While charmed, the target must obey the morchia’s commands. The morchia can have only one creature charmed at a time. If the charmed creature takes any damage, it can make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw to end the effect. A creature remembers being charmed by the morchia. Successful Save: The creature is immune to the morchia’s dominate person ability for 24 hours.
7 The morchia grows cat eyes upon its hands, which can emit a mental blast. The morchia emits psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Mind Blast: Each creature in the area must make a DC 14 Intelligence saving throw. Failed Save: 22 (4d8 + 4) pyschic damage, and the target is stunned for 1 minute, but can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the stunned condition early on a successful save.
8 Purple, protruding veins Once per day, the morchia can enter a Pyschic Rage: For ten minutes, the morchia does an extra 10 damage on all melee attacks and has advantage on melee attack rolls.
9 The morchia has black claws, which are always sharp and stronger than adamantine. When the morchia successfully uses its rend attack, the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw, or die instantly as its body is torn to shreds.
10 Third eye The morchia’s third eye emits an anitmagic field (as the spell) in a 150-foot cone. All spells, magic items, and magical effects within the area are suppressed – even the morchia’s own abilities (if applicable). At the start of each of its turns, a morchia decides which way the cone faces and whether the cone is active (the morchia deactivates the cone by shutting its third eye).
11 Acid drips from the morchia’s mouth. The morchia gains two new actions a bite and an acid spray. As part of its multiattack it may use its bite in place of a claw or hurl flame attack. Bite: +8 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one target). Hit: 16 (3d6 + 6) piercing damage and 7 (2d6) acid damage. Acid Spray (Recharge 5-6): The morchia can breathe acid in a 30-foot line. Each creature in the line must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw. Failed Save: 21 (6d6 damage) acid damage. Successful Save: Half damage.
12 The morchia has two aberrant features. Roll twice on this table.
You're gonna need these eye rays...

You’re gonna need these eye rays…

Mystauk

This guy is in your head!

Mystauk – terrifying mind-control parasites which latch onto the brain after entering the skull via the ear, nose, or mouth. Mystauk have only instinct, until the attach themselves to another mind. As host-less bugs they have a speed of 20 feet, fly speed of 30 feet, 1HP, AC 14, and a +6 bonus to Dexterity (stealth) checks. They have advantage on Dexterity (stealth) checks when hiding in dense foliage thanks to their green coloring.

When a mystauk crawls into a host’s head, the host must make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw, or the mystauk infects the host. A successful save means the mystauk must leave the hosts head and cannot try to infect that host for another 24 hours. The mystauk has no other attacks.

When attached to a host, the game changes for the mystauk. They are able to fully access the host’s brain, making the parasite smarter, while making the host’s body faster and stronger. The mystauk fully controls the actions of the host until removed.

Historically, mystauk are only known to infect humanoids. Sages and scholars theorize that other species have brains too simple or too complex for mystauk to conquer and humanoids make the perfect host for them so they do not bother using other creatures as hosts. Others believe the mystauk have infected all manner of creatures, even dragons, the world just has not been made aware of such developments, because the mystauk are too deceptive.

A mystauk adopts the abilities and proficiencies of the host. All of the host’s ability scores become 20, as the mystauk is able to unlock the host’s brain and body’s full potential. For the same reason, the mystauk adds the host’s proficiency bonus to all saving throws. The mystauk is also proficient in the Charisma (deception) skill once it has a host as it has access to all of the host’s thoughts and memories. The mystauk can communicate with the host, but the host cannot hear the mystauk’s thoughts unless the mystauk wants it to.

A mystauk can tell when another inhabited host is in their presence and can communicate telepathically with any other awakened mystauk within 25 feet.

If a successful feeblemind spell is cast against the mystauk and host, the mystauk detaches from the host’s brain and cannot reattach itself to that host for another 24 hours. If the host dies, the mystauk detaches from the brain.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 11.52.39 AM

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Hey guys! A brand spanking new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.

In this in-depth analysis of the character creation rules in the brand spanking new edition of FREE Basic D&D, I chat with Rudy Basso, Vegas Lancaster, and Alex Basso as we dissect Part I of the downloadable pdf. Spoiler alert: we love it. Discussions of Parts II and III goodness to come in the future. This podcast was recorded on July 6, 2014. If you like Vegas, check out his improv troupe in Philadelphia, PA – The N Crowd.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Hey, everyone! I was on a recent episode of The Tome Show, hosted by Jeff Greiner and Tracy Hurley, along with guests Sam Dillon and Eric Paquette. We reviewed the D&D Next adventure Dreams of the Red Wizards: Dead in Thay, available on dndclassics.com. Check out what we had to say about this massive, sprawling dungeon crawl (which was basically awesome adventure, great dungeon crawl, just ignore the plot holes – kind of like Pacific Rim). If you buy it, it’s easy enough to adapt all or parts of the super-sized dungeon for your home game, even if it’s not set in the Forgotten Realms.

Take a listen….

http://www.thetomeshow.com/e/dead-in-thay-tome-237/

Here’s the description of the Forgotten Realms-set adventure from the website.

Szass Tam, the lich lord of Thay, and his Red Wizards threaten to dominate all of the Sword Coast. The Bloodgate, an elemental node of power, must be destroyed in order to stop him. This adventure is part two of the Dreams of the Red WizardsSundering storyline, directly tied to Scourge of the Sword Coast, and loosely connected to the events in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle.

Dead in Thay is a tribute to Tomb of HorrorsThe Ruins of Undermountain, and other killer dungeons. The monsters, traps, and hazards in the adventure create a deadly challenge.

Check these bros out. They’re dead in Thay.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Several months ago, I published a post with a module for firearms I was going to include in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. Some kind folks in the Wizards D&D forums pointed out to me that Chris Perkins has also released his own rules for firearms in his new Valoreign homebrew setting.

Similarly, Mike Mearls and the rest of the Wizards D&D R&D team have mentioned several times that an optional rules module for firearms will be in the Player’s Handbook or Dungeon Master’s Guide. These may be very close to the rules I proposed months ago, especially when I look at what Chris Perkins has already created and consider he is part of the aforementioned R&D team.

Excerpt from Chris Perkins' Valoreign document

Excerpt from Chris Perkins’ Valoreign document

So they got to it before me, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that their design is probably better realized and tested than my own. I’ll wait to see it completely before I pass judgement though, because I may still like my own way better for reasons listed in the initial post. Whatever the case may be, at the very least I will be keeping the rules for magical aberrant firearms in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide, if not the rules for gunpowder weapons, since it seems that their rules module deal only with the latter. Based on what Wizards of the Coast throws out there and the size of their weapons cache, I may even add a powder weapon or two of my own.

Things That Make You Go Boom

When I posted On Firearms, I got a great comment from a reader that gunpowder changes things in a world. It means cannons, grenades, and more are available for armies, mercenaries, bandits, and evil-doers. The comment was meant as a caveat, but for me it was a good thing. There was always a plan to put these weapons in Exploration Age.

I know a lot of you are probably groaning and saying, “I was ok with firearms sorta, kinda, but now you’ve gone too far, Introcaso.” Well, just remember that firearms and explosives are all optional. The Exploration Age Campaign Guide can be used as a bible for your world, but I welcome and encourage stealing, scavenging, harvesting, and modifying any and all ideas you please from the text. That’s what tabletop RPGs are all about! So get those imaginations flowing. If you do anything like that, drop me a line and let me know how it works out!

Grenades

As you can see above, Mr. Perkins has already supplied us with a grenade in his setting. This beast does a whopping 4d6 piercing damage (half damage on a successful DC 10 Dexterity saving throw) in a 20-foot radius. I like this model, since the grenade doesn’t outdo the fireball spell in terms of damage. I’d never want the classic fireball to feel like it has been replaced by a (even possibly uncommon) item, because the magic-using classes would feel less powerful (and the PCs would be too powerful with easy access to weapons like that).

Fireball spell from Basic D&D

Fireball spell from Basic D&D

In Valoreign, the grenade has no price, meaning it must be found or specially made. In Exploration Age, I’m thinking grenades may operate a little differently, with grenades for sale, but at a high price, so adventurers can’t stock up on them easily, but powerful governments and mercenary groups, like the Explorers’ Guild and The Society of Seekers, could. Also, I wanted the save DC to be related to the skill of the attacker and not just have a static number.

Also, why have one kind of grenade when you could have a whole bunch of bombs? Check out this excerpt from the Campaign Guide.

Your classic bomb.

Explosives

Grenades and bombs are martial weapons, with a special exploding feature. Use the chart and descriptions below when attacking with these weapons.

Since all grenades and bombs have fuses which must be lit before being thrown, you may only attack with one grenade per turn. Grenades have a range of 50 feet.

Name Price Damage Explosion Radius Weight Properties
Grenade 500 gp 4d6 piercing 20-foot 1 lb. Exploding
Fire Bomb 300 gp 3d6 fire 10-foot 1 lb. Exploding, see description
Frost Bomb 400 gp 3d6 cold 10-foot 1 lb. Exploding, see description
Lightning Bomb 400 gp 3d6 lighning 30-foot 1 lb. Exploding
Thunder Bomb 300 gp 3d6 thunder 10-foot 1 lb Exploding, see description
Special Bombs

Fire Bomb. When a fire bomb explodes, any unattended flammable objects in the radius of explosion ignite.

Frost Bomb. Creatures who fail their Dexterity save against cold damage in the radius of the frost bomb’s explosion have their speed reduced by 10 feet for 1 minute.

Thunder Bomb. Creatures who fail their Dexterity save against thunder damage in the radius of the thunder bomb’s explosion are deafened for 1 minute.

New Weapon Property

Exploding. A weapon with this property doesn’t require an attack roll. Instead you throw the weapon within its range and the weapon explodes within its given radius. Creatures within the radius of the explosion must make a Dexterity saving throw DC 8 + your Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus if applicable. Creatures take full damage on a failed saving throw, half on a successful one.

Variant: Oops, Explosion

Grenades can be a hazard to the user – especially in the hands of a novice. Each time you throw a grenade, roll a d20. On a roll of 1 the grenade explodes in your hands. If you are not proficient with grenades, then it explodes in your hands on a roll of 1 or 2.

Pretty fun, eh? Picture a halflings rogue running in circles around and chucking bombs at a big dragon or an elf lobbing fire bombs into a zombie throng. That’s the stuff legendary sessions are made of! Hope this makes you think imaginary explosives are fun. You can even see that if gunpowder isn’t your scene, Exploration Age has some more alchemically charged bombs for your enjoyment.

Cannons… and More!

Obviously cannons are also a huge advancement in the world of warfare which came after the invention gunpowder. I was told by others I would need rules for these as well, though I’m not sure I do. Cannons are siege weapons and the same way you won’t find catapults and ballistas in the equipment section of the Player’s Handbook, you won’t find cannons in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide…. unless I’m also including statistics for catapults and ballistas in said Exploration Age Campaign Guide… which I am ! (Go ahead and pickup those pieces of your mind. I’ll wait.)

So I wanted to share with you some ideas I had for siege weapons in the wonderful world of Canus. Take a look at the excerpt below.

Here is a ridiculous cannon.

Siege Weapons

Siege weapons are an enormous part of Canus’ war-torn history. Take a look at some of the types of siege weapons PCs may come across in their travels. The chart below indicates their size, damage, range, required number of crew to operate, and rounds between reloads.

While price is also indicated on the chart, siege weapons are not easy to buy. In general an independent buyer needs to purchase them on the black market, where prices could be marked up as high as five times the indicated value. Adventurers with international reputations on the side of a specific recognized government or global cause may be able to purchase such weapons for market value, and large, legitimate mercenary operations and federal armies may also purchase siege weapons for their indicated price.

Unless otherwise indicated, siege weapons have a hard time with smaller, moving targets. Any time a siege weapon is used to target a single creature of Large size or smaller, the attack roll has disadvantage.

Name Price Damage Crew Required Reload Time Size Properties
Cannon 10,000 gp varies – see ammunition 2 1 round Large Siege Weapon (range 1,000/3,000), see description
Catapult 3,000 gp varies – see ammunition 2 2 rounds Large Siege Weapon (range 400/1,200), see description
Trebuchet 5,000 gp varies – see ammunition 4 3 rounds Huge Siege Weapon (range 700/2,100), see description
Ballista 2,000 gp 4d6 piercing 2 2 rounds Large Siege Weapon (range 500/1,500)
Arcane Cannon 50,000 gp varies – see ammunition 2 1 round Large Siege Weapon (range 1,000/3,000), see description

Each siege weapon’s crew has a designated leader who decides when to fire and aim the weapon. Each member of the crew must use his or her action to attack with the weapon. The attack bonus of a siege weapon is calculated by using the leader’s Intelligence modifier and adding it to the leader’s proficiency bonus (if applicable). The leader’s Intelligence modifier is also added to the damage of the siege weapon.

Once a siege weapon is fired, it’s crew must remain adjacent to the weapon and use their actions for the number of reload rounds indicated before the weapon may be fired again.

Siege weapons which require a crew of two may be operated by one person, but reloading takes three times as long.

Cannon. These muzzle-loading cannons can be mounted on a ship, castle, or wheeled around slowly, by person or by mount and fire various kinds of shot (see below). They are powered by gunpowder.

Catapult. This onager model catapult is winched down, loaded, then released. It travels on four wheels and is usually pulled by horse or other pack animal. Sometimes diseased bodies of humanoids or animals are loaded into the catapult and fired over the walls of enemy forces with hopes of infecting their soldiers. A target must be at least 30 feet away in order for a catapult to attack it.

Trebuchet. This trebuchet catapult is larger than a onager model and has a much longer range. It uses a counter-weight system to hurl its ammunition great distances. These wheeled behemoths require teams of humanoids or pack animals to be moved. A target must be at least 50 feet away in order for a trebuchet to attack it.

Ballista. Basically a ballista is a giant crossbow, which can be mounted on the wall of castle or deck of a ship. These siege weapons can also be wheeled around by pack animals and shoot large, iron-tipped arrows. Ballistas are more accurate and do not have the usual siege weapon disadvantage when attack single target creatures of Large size or smaller.

Arcane Cannon. Special alchemical canisters developed from aberrant technology are loaded into these jeweled cannons, which hurl elemental and arcane energy at foes on the battlefield. The cannons are wheeled, like their mundane counterparts, and can be transported similarly.

Siege Weapon Ammunition
Name Price
Cannon
Round Shot 50 gp
Chain Shot 25 gp
Cannister Shot 50 gp
Shell 100 gp
Catapult/Trebuchet
Stone 20 gp
Fire Barrel 50 gp
Ballista
Arrow 25 gp
Arcane Cannon
Acid Shot 250 gp
Force Shot 250 gp
Fire Shot 250 gp
Frost Shot 250 gp
Lightning Shot 250 gp

Round Shot. Round shot is a large metal ball, which is loaded into a cannon and fired at a single target. Round shot deals 6d6 bludgeoning damage to a target.

Chain Shot. Two small balls linked together by a length of bladed chain, often fired at sails of enemy ships in order to cause maximum damage. Chain shot deals 2d6 slashing damage, and deal quadruple damage to cloth targets.

Canister Shot. A large canister full of small bullets which immediately explodes when fired. Instead of a normal attack, the bullets spray an area within a 30-foot cone in front of the cannon. Any creatures within the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + the siege weapon’s crew leader’s Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the save take 4d6 piercing damage, creatures who succeed take half damage.

Shell. Shells are explosive rounds which detonate on impact. Instead of a normal attack, the shell can be fired 1,000 feet and explode in a 20-foot radius. Any creatures within the blast must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + the siege weapon’s crew leader’s Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the save take 4d6 piercing damage, creatures who succeed take half damage.

Stone. These are literally big, heavy stones hurled from a catapult or trebuchet and deal 5d6 bludgeoning damage to a target.

Fire Barrel. Flaming barrels of oil and pitch can be thrown from a catapult or trebuchet. Instead of a normal attack, choose an area within the weapon’s normal range. The barrel explodes in a 20-foot radius. Any creatures within the blast must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + the siege weapon’s crew leader’s Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the save take 3d6 fire damage, creatures who succeed take half damage. Unattended flammable objects within the area ignite.

Acid Shot. Acid shot is a green canister which explodes upon being fired and sprays all over enemy forces. Instead of a normal attack, the acid sprays an area within a 30-foot cone in front of the arcane cannon. Any creatures within the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + the siege weapon’s crew leader’s Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the save take 6d6 acid damage, creatures who succeed take half damage.

Force Shot. A humming blue canister, force shot is the strongest type of siege weapon ammunition around. It deals 10d6 force damage to a target.

Fire Shot. A warm, red canister which glows, fire shot explodes on impact. Instead of a normal attack, choose an area within the weapon’s normal range. The fire shot explodes in a 20-foot radius. Any creatures within the blast must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + the siege weapon’s crew leader’s Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the save take 6d6 fire damage, creatures who succeed take half damage. Unattended flammable objects within the area ignite.

Frost Shot. A cold, black canister, frost shot explodes on impact. Instead of a normal attack, choose an area within the weapon’s normal range. The frost shot explodes in a 30-foot radius. Any creatures within the blast must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + the siege weapon’s crew leader’s Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the save take 4d6 cold damage and have their speed reduce by 10 feet for 1 minute, creatures who succeed take half damage and no penalty to speed.

Lightning Shot. A white canister, lightning shot attacks in a single line which is 100 feet long and 5 feet wide. Each creature in the line must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + the siege weapon’s crew leader’s Intelligence modifier + proficiency). Creatures who fail the save take 8d6 lightning damage, creatures who succeed take half damage.

You can see a few things going on in the excerpt above. First of all, siege weapons have several types of ammunition, which really determine how their attacks plays out. Siege weapons meant for brining down walls, ships, large groups, and big baddies – not attacking just a few humanoids. These are crazy mechanical machines, so their attack and damage bonus come from an operator’s Intelligence modifier – representing the crew leader’s knowledge of the mechanics of the weapon.

For the most part, I imagine many PCs will not encounter siege weapons often. When they do, they’ll more likely be on the business end of a cannon or catapult. Still, I could see PCs investing in their own ship or castle and outfitting it with some siege weapons. The encounters that could come from a battle on the high seas or defending a fortress could be memorable indeed with some cannons in the mix! Or imagine the PCs turning the tide of battle by commandeering an enemy ballista for themselves.

Siege weapons and PCs seem perfect for each other in the proposed Battlesystem rules, which we will see fully in future D&D products. In this Legends and Lore article, Mike Mearls tells us each turn in the mass combat rules are a minute, which means a PC could lead a crew in firing a siege weapon several times on his or her turn. Not to mention mass combat seems the most-likely place you’d find one of these siege weapons.

Let me know what you think! What did I get right? What can I do better? You guys rock!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I love strange fantasy races. The more bizarre the better. The grognards may shake their heads at shardmind, kalashtar, and dragonborn, but I say bring them on and keep them coming!

So needless to say I was a little disappointed, though not wholly unsurprised when I saw this list of Player’s Handbook races tweeted out by Wizards of the Coast last week.

I need some more weird!

I need some more weird!

Time to Steal

I’ve written about my good habit of stealing ideas from those smarter than I. My favorite fantasy races are not the elf and dwarf (though I do enjoy a playing pointy eared or bearded PC from time to time). My favorites are the warforged, mul, genasi, and other races of setting specific campaigns. So I say, why not steal them for my own game if I love them so much? Yeah! Why not?

Well, many of these races are specific D&D licensed property, meaning they are the original intellectual property of the company, meaning they were made by D&D for D&D (unlike elves, dwarves, orcs, and more which existed before D&D came along). That means they most-likely won’t be covered in the forthcoming OGL. That means I probably shouldn’t put them in products I’m planning on selling, like the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

However, it does not mean that I can’t incorporate these races into my home game or include them in a FREE supplement for folks who want to play a game in Exploration Age… Hmm…

Incorporating the Bizarre Races

Here’s my way of incorporating some of the more unusual PC races into the story of Exploration Age. I’ve already written about the shifters and warforged, but here are some others. Their behavior and ecology may differ from their original settings in order to bring them into Canus, but I tried to keep the heart and soul of the races intact. I want a thri-kreen to still feel like a thri-kreen.

At some point, I’ll be creating mechanics for these races, but this post is all about making the races of other settings work in your story. This is just a taste.

Kalashtar

Like their githzerai parents, kalashtar are calm and contemplative, and like their human parents, inquisitive and curious. Such a combination marks these rare humanoids as ripe for a life of adventure.

Kalashtar serve a vital role in the tribes. Often they act as emissaries, carrying a chief’s message across the neighboring lands, or as neutral mediators, negotiating peace between two warring tribes. Kalashtar often break off on their own when they come of age, hoping to see all that Canus has to offer. More than any other race, they are willing to travel to West Canus. The furtive stares and pointed questions of the locals do not bother them, since the Kalashtar are just as eager to stare and question them back.

Kalashtar adventurers could be druids wandering the wider world cataloging all manner of flora and fauna, mages studying the origin of magic, paladins who believe all life is beautiful and worthy of protection, or anything you dream.

Muls

If half-elves are rare in Exploration Age, then muls are practically unknown. These half-human, half-dwarves are met with pity, fear, and disrespect across West Canus. Mul struggle and often fail to find belonging among either their human or dwarven kin. Like half-elves, this not-so-subtle poly-ethnic persecution is at the heart of their racial identity.

In Bragonay, muls are not brought into the caste system. They are treated as outsiders and have no access to the services of the region. Unlike Kalashtar, these half-dwarves, do feel the burn of the many eyes that glare at them with suspicion. As a result, they speak little and do all they can to blend into the crowd. However, muls are not pushovers. They end conflict swiftly, usually with a harsh word or solid hit to the mouth.

The life of a mul is usually one of lonely wandering. They are occasionally accepted by bands of half-elves and could live a more stable life in Marrial or somewhere in Verda. For the most part muls serve as self-taught mercenaries and thieves, making their living off their strength and resilience.

Mul adventurers could be wandering thieves, battle-hardened professional fighters, demolitions experts, or anything you dream.

Shardmind

If you like weird, you’ll love the shardmind.

Amongst the rare races of Canus, sharmind are the most uncommon. These crystalline beings were created long ago by the chromatic dragons of West Canus. No more have been made since the shardminds rose up against their creators. Despite their infinite life-spans, many met their ends in that uprising, and throughout the millennia others have fallen admist adventures and battle. This dying breed is made up of wandering hermits, secluded scholars, and nihilistic daredevils.

The shardminds alive today have forgotten more years than most other humanoid races have lived. Some shardmind let their long lives fuel them, diving into research and training to hone their abilities and become the best they can be at a particular discipline. Others have given up and now seek a glorious death in an adventure. They want to go out of this meaningless life in an explosive finale, often battling against their most hated foe – chromatic dragons.

Contemplative, quiet, and patient are the virtues of these crystalline people. Shardminds are often loners, and many members of other races go their entire lives without ever seeing one. Unless they are adventuring with a party, they tend to avoid populated areas and make their homes in the wilderness so they might be alone with their thoughts and projects.

Sharmind adventurers could be scholarly mages unlocking the secrets of the universe, fighters seeking their glorious end, hermit clerics who have tapped into the power of the divine, or anything you dream.

Svirfneblin

Deep gnomes, or svirfneblin, live with the drow and duergar of Quatus. They share the same brotherhood and loyalty of these peoples but they have something the too-practical duergar and devil-may-care drow lack – a sense of hope. While duergar have accepted their war with the aberrants as eternal and the dark elves bury the issue with partying, the deep gnomes believe that someday they could beat the aberrants. The svirfneblin have not lost sight of what makes life worth living.

Deep gnomes work hard; they are tinkerers and inventors who love working the stone and metals of The Underdark. They take great comfort in spending time with family and friends, drinking good tea, and eating good food. They understand the complex and take joy in the simple. The gray dwarves would say the svirfneblin are naive, while the drow would say they are too boring, but there is a reason all three of these races live together. In the darkest hours of Quatus, the hope that the svirfneblin provide is infectious to the other races of the war-torn country.

Amongst the people of the surface, svirfneblin are met with kindness. They are honest merchants and well-mannered diplomats, but they do not often serve in these rolls since they can be easily pushed around since they are too willing to trust. A deep gnome merchant is usually a good thing for a consumer looking to make a dishonest deal.

Svirfneblin adventurers could be crafty rogues, curious tinkerers, mages out to end the aberrant threat for good, or anything you dream.

Thri-kreen

GIANT BUG-PEOPLE! Badass!

Thri-kreen tribes have been stalking The Sprawling Jungle of Verda for as long as humans have been on Canus. These bellicose humanoids answer almost any threat or annoyance with battle. Thri-kreen are bitter toward enemies, suspicious of outsiders, and take extreme all-or-nothing solutions to most problems. However they are also loyal allies and friends.

Thri-kreen enjoy battle and take pleasure in the thrill of placing one’s life on the line. To them, the best and most honorable death is one that comes from an enemy blade. The strongest warriors are always the chiefs of their tribes. Thri-kreen are taught the ways of battle from the time they are little. Even when a thri-kreen tribe isn’t at war, it trains with other tribes and within its own people. Thri-kreen warriors and mages fight one another for entertainment, an activity which guests of the tribe are expected to join. Other than battle and the study of war, thri-kreen take pleasure in nature. They find it peaceful to commune with plants and animals after a long battle and are taught the names and behaviors of all the all that lives within the jungle.

Thri-kreen treat most other races suspiciously, particularly folk foreign to Verda. Their trust is hard to earn and usually won through battle. Once that relationship is earned, thri-kreen will die for their friends.

Thri-kreen adventurers could be honorable barbarians, wise druid shamans, fierce rangers defending the jungle, or anything you dream.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!