Archive for August, 2014

A new mini episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.

In a special mini edition of The Round Table, I sit down with Mat Morton, Lead Developer of d20Pro, a virtual tabletop which claims more power and ease than any other when running combat in d20-based RPGs. We discuss the origins of the software and their Kickstarter for d20Pro’s next iteration – d20Pro Unlimited. Check it out before it ends on September 13th. This podcast was recorded on August 28, 2014.

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!

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Let’s talk dungeons! It’s the theme of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. Many thanks to James Eck over at Mind Weaver RPG for hosting and coming up with this awesome idea.

Everyone loves a good dungeon! I’ve given my opinion in the past on building adventure sites. Canus is chock full of them! Aberrant ruins, unexplored jungle temples, Underdark labyrinths, and more!

I Like ‘Em Small and Chunky

AD&D Forgotten Realms FTW BBQ!

Since I’m designing a campaign setting, I want to share with you some interesting dungeon locations I’ve written for the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. I’m taking a page out of Ed Greenwood’s playbook. In a recent Tome Show podcast of a Gen Con Forgotten Realms panel, Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore discussed the beauty of the original grey box, which was the first product to bring the world a fully realized Realms. Greenwood went on to say he did not flesh out every single dungeon and adventure site in the Realms with a map. That would have been too expensive to print, more work than one person could do in a timely manner, and too prescriptive to DMs (and authors like Salvatore) who wanted a toy box, but not directions on how to set up the toys. For those reasons I’m doing the same thing in Exploration Age.

Also, it’s good for me to give out information in small chunks so that I create a campaign guide both DMs and players can read. This is good for two reasons. First, many DMs are also players in other games, so I don’t want them to read through the book for their game and then feel like they can’t run a PC in another because of what they know. Second, I want players to be able to read the Exploration Age Campaign Guide freely so they can also get to know the world. If all the dungeon details were in the book, PCs would be going into a monster lair knowing every secret door, combat encounter, and trap. As a bonus, it’s good business to put out a book both players and DMs can buy.

That thinking from the original grey box has carried over into modern products. If you look at the fourth edition campaign guides for Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and Dark Sun, you’ll see that thinking of giving out a small paragraph or two of info for each adventure site is far more common place than fleshing out the entire thing with maps and creatures.

What IS a Dungeon?

Now THAT’S a dungeon.

Let’s face it, when someone says the word dungeon to a D&D player, most of us think of an underground tunnel complex, ancient ruin, or dark castle. Though really a dungeon can be any place with encounters, decision points, and rewards. More simply a dungeon is any place an adventure takes place. It doesn’t have to be old, dark, smelly, and out of the sun’s light.

In fact, you can lay out a wilderness adventure or a murder mystery during a jackrabbit ride the same way you might a dungeon. Plan out some encounters ahead of time, detail some key areas, and you’re off to the races. You can even throw some good decision points in there, like do the players summit Mt. Inferno, do they pass it to the East where the Skullbreaker orcs live, or pass it to the West where Salvanaxiavarion the red dragon makes her home.

Really any adventure site is a dungeon.

Exploration Age Dungeons

This will be helpful!

This will be helpful!

And so, without further adieu, some adventure sites from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

  • Mageforge Bragonay’s first attempt at magical terraforming went horribly wrong. At first the research facility of Mageforge’s gardens were lush and successful, but the crops continued to grow. Rapidly a living jungle overtook the research facility and the land around it. The plants came into a mind of their own and tore apart the facility, scattering its contents everywhere and killing the inhabitants. The place is now a living jungle, still full of interesting research and items the dwarves were creating, but every living thing in Mageforge is teeming with hate for humanoids, especially those who seek to rob their treasures.
  • Deep Orc Mountains No landform has a more appropriate name in all of Findalay than the Deep Orc Mountains. The orcs used to live throughout The Spine of Bragonay and The Wastes, but the united orc tribes raided one too many dwarf caravans and former Empress Falahdrah ordered The Black Blood Purge. The dwarves drove the orcs into their own section of the mountains while also seeding agents within the orc ranks to sow discord. In thousands of miles of twisting tunnels the orcs now war against themselves. This was a genius move on the part of the dwarves, for monstrosities coming out of The Damned Lands are now the problem of the orcs and not theirs. Within the Deep Orc Mountains there is a miracle device. The altar of true resurrection is one of the most sought after artifacts in all of Canus. This hidden altar casts true resurrection without material components on any deceased body (or piece of a body) placed upon it. Once the altar is used it melts into the stone and reforms somewhere else within Deep Orc Mountains, making it nearly impossible to find. More folks have lost their lives seeking the altar than have actually used it.
  • Deadwood Castle The forest around Deadwood Castle is full of gray rotting trees covered in mist. The animals do not go anywhere near the place and as such it is eerily quiet. The castle has been there since before the elves arrived in Taliana. Those who are brave enough to enter the wood and face the undead animals that sit silently in wait for prey have found Deadwood Castle is under the care of an undead aberrant of colossal proportions. No one is sure what the lord of Deadwood Castle may want, but he always allows any party who foolishly wanders into his land to escape peacefully, provided they leave one member behind for his “studies.” He makes the trespassers decide which friend to leave behind and seems to take glee in watching the painful choice be made. The rest live, returning home and tell the tale.
  • Ruins of Grayonus Grayonus was once a keep run by a lovestruck halfling army captain named Bellink Barrinon. Bellink had fallen for a beautiful halfling maiden he saw out his window every night. He would call to her and she would disappear into the forest. Legend says one night he followed her into the forest where she waited for him. Bellink took this mysterious woman who did not speak as his wife and moved her into Grayonus with him. The woman gave birth at midnight during a red moon and she birthed 100 fully mature slaadi. The slaadi murdered everyone in the keep except for their mother and have lived there ever since protecting the voiceless, nameless woman and causing havoc for any passersby.
  • Kyot The Denang Dynasty does everything within its power to crush rebellion and separatist talk within Parian’s borders. Of course it lost Tsuia, and more recently the people of Kyot decided to rebel. They built their walls high, covered them in protective wards, topped them with cannons, and dared Parian’s massive military to try to take them on. The emperor at the time, Walijisho Denang, promised to use his divinity to smite the rebels personally as an example to other Parians. He summoned an army of demons within the walls of the city who massacred the population. To this day the demons remain, enclosed by the walls and wards. It has been over 150 years since anyone has cared for the walls of Kyot though…
  • Last Hope Forest The tribes call this forest Last Hope because it is right on the edge of the Nightmare Wood. All of the undead creatures and oozes which call the Nightmare Wood home do not cross the living tree line. However, Last Hope Forest is not without its dangers. The wood is home to a colony of doppelgangers who have developed a taste for the flesh of humanoids. They find preparing the meat of humanoids is an art, and take a sick pleasure in assuming the appearance of the person they are eating. Unfortunately for the Bragonians, they recently developed a taste for dwarf.
  • Murder Lake Murder lake is fed by Pain River and Death River and then its water flows out to the sea via the Thirst River. All these bodies of water are aptly named, for any who drink from the waters must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or lose 1d4 points from their Constitution score. These points may be regained at a rate of 1 per day provided the afflicted doesn’t drink from the waters again and take more Constitution damage. A lesser restoration or similar spell can also restore these points. The Roc Tribe seems immune to these effects and lives by the affected bodies of water. They claim the source of this weakening is an undead kraken at the bottom of the 500-foot depth of Murder Lake. The kraken has cursed the water, but the Roc Tribe offers the beast a humanoid sacrifice every year in exchange for not feeling the effects of the curse.

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 character building time! We’re almost ready to start playing in the world of Exploration Age and I couldn’t be more excited. Last Thursday I posted my version of the svirfneblin, duergar, and shifter PC races and their unique stories in Exploration Age. There’s three more classic D&D races I’ve made available to my players and each has their own story twist for my campaign setting.

Githzerai

Githzerai just look so cool!

New to Verda by many other races’ standards, githzerai came to Verda to aid the tribes and tieflings with the incursion of their oldest foe – the githyanki. The githyanki violently invaded the Material Plane, looking for a place to lay their eggs as they cannot lay them in their home Astral Plane. For years they terrorized the tribes and tieflings, until the githzerai got wind of the invasion. They were old enemies of the githyanki and were driven from their Astral Plane home to the Swirling Chaos of Mispuria by the evil race. The githyanki heard the tales, knew the Material Plane was in need, and added their might to that of the tribes and the tieflings. Over 200 years later, some githzerai still remain in Verda because they enjoyed life in the Material Plane, or because they are still trying to hunt down every last githyanki. Many githzerai have been accepted into the tribes and some have even had offspring with humans.

Githzerai are the picture of calm and peaceful. They have seemingly endless patience and believe all the power an individual needs to find enlightenment lies within one’s self. As a result, they often serve as shamans and spiritual advisors to the tribes, giving council on all matters often whether or not their opinion was asked. The githzerai seem to share an unspoken superiority to the other races of the tribes, as they were instrumental in staving off the githyanki incursion.

Githzerai get along with just about anyone, but they can come off as condescending and superior, which is known to turn certain folks off. Githzerai adventurers could be monks on quests to find enlightenment, githyanki hunters, powerful shamans seeking the ways of the world, or anything you dream.

Githzerai Traits

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

Age. Githzerai reach adulthood around the same time as humans and live to be about 100 years old.

Alignment. Githzerai are pragmatic, sometimes to a fault, so they tend to be neutral. They fall all over the spectrum of law and chaos.

Size. Githzerai are between 6 and 6 and a half feet tall and weigh between 150 and 200 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 30 feet.

Mental Magic. You know the mage hand cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the blur spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the haste spell once per day, but you may only target yourself with the spell. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Mental Might. You have advantage on saving throws against charm effects.

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

Kalashtar

Even his hair floats!

I’ve already written about the story of the sweet, sweet kalashtar here. Now for the mechanics!

Kalashtar Traits

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

Age. Kalashtar reach adulthood around the same time as humans, but can live to be 200 years old.

Alignment. Kalashtar are good-hearted and community-oriented so they tend to be lawful good.

Size. Kalashtar have the height and build of humans. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Bastion of Mental Clarity. You have advantage on saving throws against spells of the illusion school of magic.

Mental Might. You have advantage on saving throws against charm effects.

Subtle Psychic. Choose one of the follow skills: Deception, Intimidation, or Persuasion. You are proficient in that skill.

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.

Warforged

It’s hard to beat an axe-arm.

The warforged generally fall into two camps; those who accept their slavery and those who rage against it. Invented less than half a century ago, warforged were built by Bragonay’s dwarves as machines with a purpose. The master craftsmen didn’t realize that they were actually creating sentient life.

Now the warforged can be found throughout Findalay and in parts of Verda. Free warforged have embraced their liberty fully and try to experience all parts of life. They are open to and seek out new experiences. Their thirst for the knowledge of other cultures and lands is unrivaled by by no other race. These free warforged have a fiery passion in their bellies for liberty and want to see slaves set free across Canus.

There are many warforged still enslaved in Bragonay. These warforged are content to serve their masters, but still have feelings, thoughts, and emotions of their own, and still share the passion for learning free warforged have. Then there are the warforged who cannot stand their bonds of slavery and spend their days plotting their escape.

Warforged reproduction is a touchy subject. The Creation Forges in Bragonay have been out of service since the uprising, though they still work and many debate whether or not the empress and warlords should turn these back on. A few free warforged have discovered ways to build their own offspring however, using pieces of their own body and expensive material components found throughout the land. To get the ritual and blueprints required however, one would need to speak to these warforged directly. These creators do not share their identities with just anyone, lest the plans be used to once again create beings to be used as slaves.

Warforged adventurers could be slave liberators, druids trying to figure out their own place in the circle of life, slaves spying on a liberation operation for their master, or anything you dream.

Warforged Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score and Constitution score increase by 2.

Age. Warforged are born as adults and do not age.

Alignment. Warforged tend toward lawful alignment, since they were designed to be soldiers and slaves. They usually do not bend either good or evil, since they are usually more focused on the task at hand than its moral implications.

Size. Warforged are between 6 and 6 and a half feet tall and weigh between 250 and 300 lbs. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Composite Plating. You gain a +1 bonus to Armor Class.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website, and we got the man himself, Mike Mearls, to join us.

Rudy Basso and I sit down to dish on all things D&D and more at Gen Con. We discuss an early release of the Monster Manual, a demo of Dungeonscape, our first D&D Adventurers League adventure, and more! Then, it’s a sit down interview with the man behind fifth edition Mike Mearls. This podcast was recorded at Gen Con 2014.

Links:

DnD Jester

D&D Jester Store on Amazon

Riki Warren

Jim Zub and Legends of Baldur’s Gate

Tyranny of Dragons

Savage Worlds

Fate Core

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!

So I’ve already written quite a bit about some of the races available to my players in Exploration Age – the assimar in one post and the deva, mul, and shardmind in another. Yet, I’ve got more yet to be released D&D races I’m going to make available to them and I’d like to give you the mechanics I’ve created as well as the unique story for each race in my setting.

Svirfneblin

First up, the svirfneblin. They’re actually a gnome subrace, so bust out that Player’s Handbook, and check out the gnome. I’ve given you the deep gnome story in another post, so check that out if you want their story. Here are the mechanics.

Svirfneblin Traits

Deep gnomes are weird.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Stonecunning. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Svrifneblin Combat Training. You have proficiency with the war pick and warhammer.

Svirfneblin Lights. You know the dancing lights cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this spell.

Duergar

Mohawk duergar is the best.

Living with the drow and fighting side-by-side in their constant war with the aberrants are the duergar, or gray dwarves. Like their surface kin the gray dwarves value martial prowess and good well-crafted. This is, of course, because the duergar descended from their surface kin a long time ago. During their bloody war with the chromatic dragons on the side of the shardminds, some dwarves went into The Underdark seeking refuge. These dwarves became the duergar and eventually found an entirely new war beneath the surface.

Now, in many ways duergar have more in common with drow than they do with dwarves of the world above. Both duergar and drow deal with the constant stress of their aberrant war and rely on each other with undying trust.

While they share brotherhood and battlelines with the drow, duergar do not share their drow’s impulsiveness and live-each-day-as-if-it-were-your-last lifestyle. Almost everything the duergar do is in preparation for war. Duergar are practical and know that a good night’s sleep and healthy meal are more likely than a late night of revelry at ensuring survival the next day. They craft arms and armor, mine metals, and train constantly. Ever vigilant, careful, and calculating are the gray dwarves.

Duergar adventurers could be mercenaries seeking a better life on the surface, aberrant hunters hoping to learn new techniques to help them with their war below, deadly assassins for hire, or anything you dream.

Duergar Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your dark vision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Duergar Magic. You know the thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the invisibility spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the enlarge spell once per day, but you may only target yourself with the spell. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Shifter

Don’t mess.

Shifters are born outcasts. Many are killed as babes, their parents too horrified to look upon them. To the elves they are abhorrent monstrosities. To the werewolves – an evolutionary misstep deserving only to die. Many of the shifters lucky enough to have a parent let them live are still kicked out of the house at an early age, or orphaned when their parent is murdered by bigots.

These abandoned shifters find each other and form communities of wandering vagabonds who make a living performing, swindling, and selling crafts. These communities exist all over Findalay and many look forward to the circuses and carnivals the shifters provide. Others feel shifters have been short-changed and try to help these beings find a more established life in Findalay. Some fear the partial werewolf race avoiding and shunning them. The truly fearful seek out and kill these half-breeds.

The discovery of Verda has opened up new possibilities for the shifters, a place where they may have a home of their own free from persecution, stares, jeers, discrimination, violence, and the ever-looming Brotherhood of the Moon.

Shifter adventurers could be thieves disguised as traveling circus performers, cunning mages using their magic to predict people’s fortunes, wild, untamed barbarians, or anything you dream.

Shifter Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Age. Shifters mature and age at the same rate as humans.

Alignment. When it comes to good or evil, shifters are usually neutral, since they embody the spirit of the wild. Most shifters tend to be wild and free and therefore favor chaos over law.

Size. Shifters range from just over 5 to just over 6 feet tall and have lean builds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Thanks to your lycanthrope 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.

Keen Hearing and Smell. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

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

Subrace. Two subraces of shifter are found in Canus: longtooth and razorclaw. Choose one of these sub races.

Longtooth Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.

Longtooth Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, you gain a +2 damage bonus to Strength-based attacks and regenerate 5 HP at the start of your turns. In addition, you grow long fangs which function as a light weapon which deals 1d6 piercing damage. You may attack with your fangs as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of longtooth shifting at 8th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +4, and your attacks with your fangs count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +6.

Razorclaw Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Razorclaw Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, your speed increases by five feet, you gain a +1 bonus to your AC, and you have advantage on Dexterity saving throws. In addition, you grow a pair of claws which function as light, finesse melee weapons which deal 1d6 slashing damage. You may attack with one of your claws as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of razorclaw shifting at 8th level and your speed increases by 10 feet, you attacks with your claws count as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance, and your bonus to AC increases to +2 while shifting. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your speed increases by 15 feet and your bonus to AC increases to +3 while shifting.

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!

UPDATE: The partial backgrounds found in this article are a preview. They are fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 13 other ready to roll backgrounds.

Oh happy day! If you’ve got a local friendly game store or other book store near you, you’ve probably already got the Player’s Handbook, as I do (or you’re grabbing it today). If you’re waiting for your Amazon order, then check out this article from Mike Mearls previewing the list of backgrounds in the Player’s Handbook. It’s not a bad list at all! There are a lot of great choices there. However, there are a few options I want to add for Exploration Age.

In the article referenced above, Mike gives some great advice about creating your own backgrounds. Proficiencies can easily be swapped out for others. He says the most difficult part is creating your own background benefit, which doesn’t even sound that hard. Check it out.

So with those points in mind, I present to you two backgrounds (and a variant) from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

Variant Sailor: Sky Sailor

You live the life of the sailor, but the skies are your seas. Ornithopters and airships are the places where you feel most at home, soaring above the hubbub of the world, isolated in the freedom of flight. You might have served in the military as a scout or in some sort of sky navy, you might have worked for a merchant captain or passenger vessel, or perhaps you were a sky pirate who raided the ships of others.

If you decide to take the Sky Sailor background, you have proficiency in vehicles (air) instead of vehicles (water). In addition your Ship’s Passage feature applies to airships instead of seafaring vessels.

Demolitions Expert

Crazy bomb!

You assemble, dismantle, and use explosives and weapons of destruction, including siege weapons. Maybe were in the military, and you built bombs that you threw into the throngs of invading hordes, launched boulders from catapults into enemy towers, or drove a mech through the front line of an enemy army. Or perhaps you belonged to an organization of criminals or rebels, and you were the one who blew up the safe or caused the buildings of oppressors crumble. Whatever the case, you know the power of weapons of destruction and harnessed them to make structures and enemies fall.

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Investigation

Tool Proficiencies: Siege Weapons or Mechs, Bomb-Makers Kit

Equipment: A bomb-makers kit, a collapsible 10-foot pole, a piece of shrapnel from unique explosive you haven’t been able to identify, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp

Harvester

Minin’

You were a lumberjack, miner, oil driller, or had another profession which gathers resources nature created. Nature has a lot to offer, and you saw taking those resources as a way to make a living. This kind of labor is hard work, which shaped the person you became today. Decide the nature of your profession (or roll on the table below), the specific resource you harvested, and decide why you left this life to make a career as an adventurer.

d6 Profession
1 Metal Miner
2 Gem Miner
3 Lumberjack
4 Oil Driller
5 Fungus and Herb Collector
6 Fur Trapper

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Nature

Tool Proficiencies: Mechs, vehicles (land)

Equipment:  A work knife, 50 feet of hemp rope, an ancient copper coin found in the wilderness, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp.

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!

Holy crap we made it to 30! A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website – and it’s a gooden.

Topher Kohan and I sit down with Wizards of the Coast’s own Chris Tulach and Chris Lindsay to discuss The D&D Adventurers League and Tyranny of Dragons. We have the word on organized play from the masters and makers of the League itself. This podcast was recorded on August 7, 2014.

Links:

Topher’s Google+ Page

Wizards of the Coast D&D Twitter

D&D Adventurers League Twitter

D&D Adventurers League on Facebook

D&D Adventurers League on Google+

D&D Adventurers League Official Page

dndadventurersleague.org

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!

First of all, happy Gen Con, everybody! If you’re in Indianapolis right now, so am I! Hit me up on Twitter or via blog comment below and perhaps we can hang.

In addition, I’ll be starting my Exploration Age campaign soon! After more than half a year of worldbuilding, it’s almost ready to go! Thank you for reading about Canus and giving your feedback. As the we play the world will continue to grow and change, so I’ll still be posting rules modules, new monsters, worldbuilding tips and process, GM advice, and more. I might even share the world with all of you…..

Also, if you’re not at Gen Con and don’t live near a Wizards Play Network store, then you don’t have a copy of the Player’s Handbook yet, but you will next week. However, the Dungeon Master’s Guide has yet to come out and won’t make an appearance until November, so that means your campaigns are a little lacking in the magic item department. Luckily, I’m here to help!

First of all, here’s a few posts I’ve already done with magic items in them:

Now here’s even more of what’s in store for you in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

A butt-ton of magic items.

Armor

Face of Distraction

Very rare armor (shield)

These round, black steel shield were created for the elite bodyguards of the emperor of Parian. A terrifying, sunken face grimaces on the front of the shield with eyes of onyx. In combat the face can be made to let out a horrifying shriek, distracting an opponent. These shields were sold, destroyed, and discarded during the reign of Negoma Quan, for the shrieks coming from the training yard annoyed him.

Property: This shield grants time wielder a +2 bonus to AC.

In addition, as a bonus action you may cause the shield to shriek at an adjacent enemy. The target must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or the next attack roll made against it before the start of your next turn has advantage.

You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this bonus action again.

Rings

Flaming Punch Ring

Rare ring

Long ago, a sect of monks living in snow-covered lands created the flaming punch ring in order to combat the denizens of the land.

The ring is carved from black volcanic rock and has small rubies all along its outside. It is warm to the touch and when fire is around the rubies seem to sparkle more than usual.

Property: You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with unarmed attacks.

In addition, your unarmed attacks deal an extra 2d6 fire damage.

Ring of Impenetrable Sanctuary

Very rare wondrous item

Rulers and other people with power have these rings forged for their spouses and children. The rings are made of gold and silver twirled together, and a single large sapphire set in the center.

Property [Attuned]: You gain a +2 bonus to AC while wearing this ring.

In addition, you can cast sanctuary (DC 18) upon yourself once per day.

Wondrous Items

My belt is pretty and magic!

Belt of Hidden Knives

Rare wondrous item

This appears to be a simple, unassuming black leather belt when wrapped around the user’s waist. When removed, a small diamond can be seen stitched into the belt’s underside. Each time this belt is buckled, it sounds like a sword being drawn from a sheath.

Property: As part of an attack, you can draw a +1 dagger from the belt of hidden knives. If the dagger leaves your hands it ceases to exist at the end of your turn. The belt does not run out of daggers. You must be wearing the belt to use this property.

Belt of the Scorpion

Legendary wondrous item

It is said these belts were invented by an assassin who covered up her kills by making it seem like a scorpion had attacked her marks.

The belt of the scorpion is a piece of mithral chain held together by a padlock with a single, large emerald at its center. When the belt is within 10 feet of an arachnid, a faint light flickers within the emerald.

Property: While wearing this belt you have resistance to poison damage and advantage on saving throws against poison.

Property [Attuned]: While wearing the belt of the scorpion, you can make a scorpion-like mithral tail grow from the back of the belt. The tail is a light, finesse weapon which deals 1d6 piercing damage and has a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls. Once per day, when you deal damage to a target with this attack, you may choose to inject it with venom. The target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become paralyzed for one minute.

Boots of the Wild

Rare wondrous item

The shaman of Verda’s tribes craft special boots of animal skin, each dotted with a tiny gem on the soul. The boots usually lace up to the knee, and are found in several varieties of animal skin – from deer to lizard.

Property: While wearing the boots add 5 feet to your speed. In addition, use the chart below to determine the type of difficult terrain you can ignore while wearing the boots of the wild.

Skin Ignored Difficult Terrain(s)
Lizard Swamp, Marsh, Jungle
Deer Forest
Ram Mountains
Reindeer Snowfields, Frozen Ocean
Bracelet of Seduction

Rare magic item

Some merchants have these charm bracelets specially made, so they might avoid trouble during their travels. The bracelet is well made, a silver chain with small silver heart charms hanging off each link. A single one of these charms is carved from a rose zircon, which gives off a small amount of heat when the bracelet’s magic is activated.

Property: While wearing the bracelet, three times per day you may use charm person (DC 15) – you must be touching the target in order to use this magic.

Cheater’s Gloves

Uncommon wondrous item

These fine white gloves of a gentlemen or elbow length gloves of a lady were invented by the classiest of thieves. Each glove fastens with a single, diamond studded button. While wearing them, a user has an itching urge to palm small, unattended objects.

Property: When you use these gloves you have advantage when making a Dexterity (sleight of hand) check to steal an item and when your character plays a game with cards or dice.

Fishscale Flippers

Rare wondrous item

A dragonborn wizard who married into a family of pearl divers in Marrial created these flippers to appease his in-laws after he was caught philandering. The legend says he only managed to create a few pairs before his wife used his creation to swim him to the bottom of the sea.

The flippers are crafted from green fish scales and feature small sapphires on their heels. They immediately conform to the foot of any Medium or Small creature who wears them.

Property: While wearing these flippers, you can breathe underwater and gain a swim speed equal to your current speed.

Hands of the Craftsman

Uncommon Wondrous Item

Hags invented these sturdy leather work gloves with a cat’s eye on the back. They gave the hands of the craftsman to artisans in exchange for the lives of their children. Every time one puts on the gloves, they experience the memory of a loved one they have lost.

Property: When you wear the hands of the craftsman the time it takes to create a mundane item is cut in half and you need only pay a third of the material costs to do so.

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!

HOW PUMPED ARE YOU?!?!?!!

You’re goddamn right.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a Wizards Play Store, you’ve probably gotten your hands on the Player’s Handbook for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Many of my player’s already have a copy, but as I’ve mentioned before, we’re all in different locations, so some of my players don’t. They’re either not near a store or they wanted the cheaper deal on Amazon. If you’re in the same boat, never fear, I’m here to let you know the book is worth the investment. I could go on and on (and I will in a Tome Show or Round Table podcast soon), but I’m here to talk to you about something I’m already changing in this book I love so much, and that’s the process of ability score generation.

To Roll or Not To Roll?

Before I get started, let me just say that this is my group’s opinions about generating ability scores. You may have your own, please sound off in the comments below. While this method was tailored toward them, feel free to use it in your game.

As many of you know, a character’s features and options in D&D are dependent upon their six ability scores – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These scores can range from 3 (awful) to 18 (badass) before racial modifiers are applied. The Player’s Handbook presents three options for generating your base ability scores…

  1. Rolling. Roll 4d6, drop the lowest die roll, add the remaining rolls together. Do this six times, then assign the ability scores.
  2. Array. Use a predetermined array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 to assign ability scores.
  3. Point Buy. Use a point buy method, involving all of your stats starting at 8. Then you have 27 points to assign to boost the stats. Each increase in a score costs more points than the last increase (more on that below). This method caps your ability scores at 15, whereas rolling can get you 18. It also makes your minimal possible ability score 8.

Most of my players have played third edition, in which option 1, rolling, was the preferred method. All of players have played fourth edition in which a point buy similar to option 3 was the preferred method. During the playtest we went back to rolling for ability scores since it was just a few short campaigns. Then I remembered why I prefer the point buy method.

Rolling for ability scores is a great option – it provides a lot of variance and allows for a character have a super high Strength, but also a pitiful Intelligence. However, rolling also provides a huge variance amongst characters, which can make the game less fun. If someone rolls great and has god-like ability scores when someone else just rolls ok, the fighter might feel second-rate compared to the barbarian.

Normally this is the kind of thing I’d ask my players what they want to do, but they’re divided on the issue. When I told them I wanted to use the point buy method via email, my inbox exploded (in a hilarious and awesome way).

Here’s an email from one of my players, who is clearly anti-point buy…

My argument against point buy:

1) Point buy is lame.

2) You can only be good at something if you are the right race to be good at it.

3) You can’t be good at more than one thing unless you are the right race/class combination.

I have to say, points 2 and 3 are pretty good arguments (and point 1 is just a little hurtful… single tear).

It was only moments later which I got this pro-point buy email from a different player…

Argument for Point Buy:

1) Large statistical variance between character competency is amusing in short games, but frustrating and inappropriate for the multi-year campaigns we tend to play.

2) Because our DM is not a dick, rolling for stats will tend to skew towards OP characters. Here is what happens when people roll stats:

PC: Uh, I rolled three 7s, a 10, and two 12s.
DM: Haha, that’s dumb you can reroll.

PC: I got six 18s!
DM: Uh… OK cool.

3) “Characters only really good at one thing” is a function of playing in a larger group. In a smaller group it would make sense to spread your stat points and skills around more but when you do that in a larger group you appear inferior to specialists.

Also good points there (and yes, I do let people with terrible rolls reroll). In fact, there were good points coming at me from all around. One player enjoys his character enjoyed being bad at something and point buy doesn’t really allow for that either for a minimum of 8 in each ability score. Still, I didn’t want one player to be a superhero compared to the rest or vice versa. To make matters more intense, I eventually started getting emails like this…

BE MEN AND ROLL THE GODDAMN DICE
What’s a DM to do? Order everyone take the array and then have no one happy? Then I remembered, D&D is a game meant for hacking, modding, and blowing up. Was there something I could do to ability score generation?

Taking It Back Old School

First, I made a quick list. What were the wants of my players…

  1. A balanced method of generating ability scores in which luck and chance do not favor random PCs over others
  2. A method of generating ability scores which can allow nonoptimal race and class combinations (like half-orc wizards) to have key ability scores for their class above 15
  3. A method of generating ability scores which can allow for some abilities to be as low as three (because sometimes playing a a weakling wizard or a barbarian with no social skills is fun)

Then I thought back to the days of third edition D&D. While rolling was the preferred method of ability score generation, there was a point buy option, which allowed a player to raise stats to 18. So let’s look at that option. All ability scores start at 8 and a player has 25 points to spend.

  • An ability of 9 costs 1 point.
  • A ability of 10 costs 2 points.
  • A ability of 11 costs 3 points.
  • A ability of 12 costs 4 points.
  • An ability of 13 costs 5 points.
  • An ability of 14 costs 6 points.
  • An ability of 15 costs 8 points.
  • An ability of 16 costs 10 points.
  • An ability of 17 costs 13 points.
  • An ability of 18 costs 16 points.

That’s not a bad place for me to begin. I’m going to adjust these numbers so they’re more in-line with the fifth edition point buy, however, and go from there. I also need to work in lower ability scores.

The Exploration Age Homebrew Method

Here’s the method for generating ability scores I’ll be using for my Exploration Age home campaigns.

All ability scores start at 8. You have 27 points to spend. The cost of each score is shown below.

Score Cost
3 -5
4 -4
5 -3
6 -2
7 -1
8 0
9 1
10 2
11 3
12 4
13 5
14 7
15 9
16 12
17 15
18 19

You may only have one ability with a score of 17 or 18. Likewise, you may only have one ability score with a score of 3 or 4.

When you “buy” score with a negative cost, it means you gain points to spend elsewhere.

You may still use the standard array.

For high powered, tougher campaigns, give your players 32 points to spend. In this case, the standard array might be 16, 15, 13, 12, 10, 8, or 17, 15, 12, 10, 10, 8, or 18, 14, 10, 10, 10, 8.

Assessment

So what do you think? Have I managed to get everything the players want and curb some min-maxing? Should I just stick to one of the older methods? Let me know! Sound off in the comments.

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!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s site.

I sit down with Andrew KaneTopher Kohan, and Ray Fallon to talk about the fifth edition D&D class previews of the warlocksorcererbard, and paladin. They wrap it up by discussing the Legends and Lore article all about subclasses. Spoiler alert: WE ARE PUMPED! This podcast was recorded on July 29, 2014.

Topher’s Google+ Page

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!