Archive for September, 2014

I have a friend who warned me after my second blog post that involving my players too much in the creation of my world was bad news. “Players will tell you what they want, but they have no idea really.” I’m delighted to report that I think this friend, great as he is, was incorrect.

Sitting down to create a campaign guide is no small feat and I couldn’t do it without the help of my friends and all you folk commenting on the blog. My players in particular have done a ton of work, helping me playtest and revise the various mechanics I’ve created. They are world builders and architects with me every step of the way. It’s thanks to suggestions and direct contributions from my players that I was able to create rules for naval combat and firearms. Not to mention my players helped create adventure sites via the Well of Heroes and suggested I create the Explorers’ Guild and The Society of Seekers.

Well I just read through a whole bunch of character backstories, some less than a page of bullet points, others 33 pages single-spaced. Now I have a lot more story material with which to play!

Encouraging Players to Create

Right now all my players have access to a rough manuscript version of the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. While I asked them to help edit the book, I also invited them to create their own cities, adventure sites, and whatever else they wanted to bring into the world. After all, the book isn’t close to being published and the earliest we may see any kind of OGL is December, and even then the launch wouldn’t be until 2015. So anything they add at this point I can actually add to the book itself. That’s pretty cool! Even if we did have a published book though, or we were playing in a setting someone else created, like Dark Sun, I would still invite my players to do this. These guys are doing the work for me and everything they create is a new and interesting story hook!

I suggest you do the same. I ask all my players for a backstory. The least I can do is let them write what they want within the themes of the setting. Writing a backstory should be fun, not homework. I don’t give them any restrictions in page count or format and I encourage them to let their imaginations run wild.

Usually, my players still clear anything major with me before they cement it into their backstories. I’m very cool with this, but it’s a courtesy, not a requirement. When they do ask about something I always use that old improv trick of saying, “Yes, and…” If you don’t know the concept, essentially when a player offers you an idea you say yes and build on the idea so it works within your setting.

I’d now like to give you a look at a few of the things my players brought to Exploration Age.

City of Autumn

My friend and frequent Round Table panelist Andrew was writing the backstory for his Archfey Pact Human Warlock, Nightshade, when he asked me if he could create a a city in the predominantly elf and halfling country of Taliana where Nightshade was raised. His thought was to create a city which spanned two sides of a major river in a forest. I thought that sounded interesting, so I said yes.

It doesn’t stop there though. Andrew also wanted to create Nightshade’s Archfey patron. He knew of the Summer and Winter courts in the Feywild, but wanted to know why it was more difficult to find information on the Autumn court. I told him I had never seen it fleshed out and so he took it upon himself to detail the Autumn Court and its queen, his patron, Messia. So not only did I get a city out of the deal, I also got a whole Feywild court detailed, which gives me plenty of adventure ideas and hooks for Nightshade as well as the rest of the party. Take a look at the description of Siannodel from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

For your reference.

For your reference. Note: Siannodel has not been added to the map yet!

Siannodel

Taliana’s City of Autumn sits on both sides of the Vumba River on Vacurion Bay. The city itself sits in an enormous maple grove and is most beautiful during the Autumn season when all the trees are changing and the river runs calmly. Twisting bridges made of orange, red, and yellow maple leaves held together by magic bring both sides of the city together. Perhaps this is the reason the city is favored by Messia, the Archfey queen of the Autumn Court. Since lumber is the city’s main trade, Messia is honored by the lumberjacks who try to make a point of planting trees each year to replace the ones they cut down, for fear of losing Messia’s favor. During the Autumn sacrifices are made and feasts are held in Messia’s honor and in exchange the city is warded to keep undead, vermin, and evil outsiders from entering Siannodel’s city limits. Giant vermin from the Arachna War are something the people of Siannodel are worried about these days, so it is important they keep Messia happy. Unfortunately, there is an indication that the city could be falling out of the Autumn queen’s good graces.

Siannodel used to always have a guardian, a champion warlock of Messia who would watch over the city and surrounding forest. However, it has been more than a century since Messia made a pact and the folk of the city whisper their corrupt ruling council is causing them to fall out of Messia’s favor. Heian Zeïtan, a longstanding council member, has recently begun throwing more gold around than it seems he takes in. He claims it is the inheritance of a distant relative, but others are not so sure. Siannodel did not participate as much as it could have during The Fourth Great War, and some whisper he was paid by enemy forces to keep Siannodel out of the fight as much as possible.

Because of its position on the on Vacurion Bay, Siannodel is a usually a stop for merchants and adventurers on their way to other parts of Findalay or Verda. As such, the city has thriving local blacksmiths, shipwrights, carpenters, artisans, and hospitality establishments.

Just Sign Here

Sometimes players create a magic item in their backgrounds. It might be a lost family sword or a rumored suit of armor which can resist the breath weapon of the dragon which destroyed a PC’s hometown. There are some players who think way outside the box and give you a unique artifact to put into your setting. My friend John gave me the background for Oruk, the half-orc wizard, and included in his history was an (evil) artifact called The Death Note Scroll (and yep, it’s that on the nose). Essentially, this artifact allows a user to write the name of any living creature on the scroll, the creature then dies, and the scroll teleports away to a new unknown location. This note plays a huge part in Oruk’s history, though I didn’t get more specifics than this, so I’d have to create the mechanics myself. Now, I’d like to present to you the story and game mechanics for The Death Note Scroll.

The Death Note Scroll

Wondrous item, artifact

Made from the skin of a long-forgotten, dead archdevil, by a victorious demon prince in the Blood War, The Death Note Scroll still hungers for souls. Every time a new name is written on the scroll, a tiny black diamond appears next to it, holding the name bearer’s soul inside. The scroll never runs out of space, for every time a name is added it stretches and grows a little. The Death Note Scroll is constantly hungry and those who bear it feel a strong urge to add to it the name of their closest foe, annoyance, or even friendly rival. In the black of midnight each night the scroll whispers aloud the names on the scroll in a voice as dry as forgotten paper. It often appears in an unremarkable black case, but when heated by flame, red Abyssal script appears on the outside, telling of a powerful gift within.

Once a name is written on The Death Note Scroll, the creature who’s name is written dies if they have less than 200 hit points. Their soul is trapped in the diamond which appears next to their name and they cannot be revived or brought back in anyway, unless The Death Note Scroll is destroyed. Once a name is added to the scroll, it teleports away to a random location (DM’s choice).

The Death Note Scroll is forged by powerful demonic magic and can only be destroyed by an archdevil or demon prince. Courting the favor of these beings is nigh impossible and those who do, must be prepared to give up much.

I Can’t Sleep

Sometimes players get a little more complicated than creating a city or magic item for your campaign world. My player Ray has a sorcerer PC, Ezra, who at times cannot sleep (he’s rather troubled). Ray took his PC and tied his background into that of Andrew’s Nightshade. Both have the favor of Messia, the queen of the Autumn Court. So sometimes Ezra is able to sleep soundly, for Messia takes pity on him and comforts him in his sleep.

Ray wanted to create an insomnia system which would put him at a disadvantage on the nights he did not sleep, but give him a slight edge on the night’s Messia, a powerful Archfey, showed up to help him sleep. I told him I would check it out to make sure it wasn’t giving him a huge advantage, and if it all looked kosher, we’d playtest the mechanic. Here’s what Ray created. Nice work!

Rules Module: Spellcaster Insomnia

You have trouble sleeping. Every time you take an extended rest, roll on the chart for the results below.

d10 Effect
1 You cannot sleep. You gain no healing benefits from an extended rest, though for the purposes of spell casting, you have taken an extended rest.
2 You have a half night of very troubled sleep. Others can hear you cry out at terrible dreams. You only regain half of the hit dice and HP that you would normally recover.
3 – 4 You have a poor night’s sleep. You recover one fewer hit die and two fewer HP (this increases to 2 and 5, respectively, at 10th level) than you would otherwise recover.
5 – 9 Messia (or a different other-worldly force) sends a projection of herself to comfort you until you are asleep. You gain all the benefits of your extended rest.
10 Messia (or different other-worldly force) comes in person to comfort you as you sleep (often only for a moment and after you have already passed into a shaky slumber). You gain all the benefits of an extended rest and wake up with 5 temp HP (this increases to 10 at 10th level).

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts 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!

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

I sit down with Ray FallonJohn FischerGreg Blair, and Round Table newbie Dave Gibson. We talk about the latest posts on the DungeonScape blog and the announcement that Sasquatch Game Studio will be making fifth edition products. This podcast was recorded on September 17, 2014.

Links:

5 Minute Workday

Solving Digital Distribution for DungeonScape

Character Creation Modes in DungeonScape

Thursday: Time for Transparency

Also, if you’ve been following my posts about The Tome Show Presents The Round Table’s Tarrasque Takedown 2014: Mike Shea Out for Blood, you can see a less-than-an-hour edited version of Part I of our high-level stress test here.

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

I was a guest on a recent Tome Show podcast where I was part of a panel which reviewed the Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition Player’s Handbook. You can check it out on The Tome Show’s website.

The wait is over!

This episode of The Tome features Jeff Greiner and Tracy Hurley of sarahdarkmagic.com hosting joined by three illustrious guests; Mike Shea of slyflourish.com, Sam Dillon of rpgmusings.com, and of course, me of this website! Spoiler alert: This book is awesome and well worth the cost.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts 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!

Ray killed Vegas. Twice. Let me explain. You see, I DMed a fourth edition Eberron game which took PCs from level 1 to 30. The game was a blast and full of twists and turns that left the PCs wondering at times which NPCs were the good guys and which were the bad guys. Much to my glee at the time, this theme carried over to the players. One player wrote into his background that he thought he was talking to a god, The Silver Flame, when actually (unbeknownst to his PC) he was talking to a demon lord, Bel Shalor. That was Silas Witherin the human invoker, played by my buddy Vegas. Meanwhile my pal Ray’s character, the devoted drow avenger Elaria Feywing, worshipped the same god as Silas, but she did not hear the Bel Shalor’s voice during prayer. She heard the actual Silver Flame.

Anyway Bel Shalor is diametrically opposed to the views and ideals The Silver Flame, and the demon worked to undermine the god’s plans. Silas, believing he was in the right, often clashed with Elaria. Since we’re talking about a campaign where the fate of the world was on the line, these characters clung to their beliefs over their party loyalty and Elaria killed Silas. Twice. It made sense for the story and (I thought) everyone seemed cool with it so I let it go down. This was a campaign amongst close friends about intrigue after all! But…

In reality it wasn’t an awful thing for about half of my players, I daresay Ray and Vegas enjoyed it, but it did leave the other half of them upset, which is far too many in my book. Heck one upset player is a problem which should be addressed, let alone half your players. This game came on the heels of a previous campaign where an adorable gnome warlock named Fizzlebottom Cloisternook, played by my friend Andrew, chopped off his hand, cut out his eye, and replaced them with Vecna’s body parts leading him down the path to party-killing, Orcus-worshipping lichdom.

All this is to say a lot of my players were tired of their PCs deceiving and backstabbing one another. I figured if they were tired of that, this problem would take care of itself in the next game we played. After all, it’s up to them if they’re running off and doing their own thing, right?

Our next campaign was the published adventure Legacy of the Crystal Shard as we wanted to try out the D&D Next playtest rules. The adventure was fun and the players did work together for the most part, but there was a moment when one PC wandered off on his own during the first session. The others asked him to stay with them and the player said, “But I don’t know you all that well yet. Why would I stay with you guys?”

Now I know some of you might say he wasn’t being a team player, but to be honest he did his own thing for five minutes and then stayed with the rest of the party for the session. Still, his words got me thinking. The player did have a good point from a story perspective, and I feel at least part of that onus is on me as the DM to bring characters together in a meaningful way. Sometimes that means going beyond, “The merchant has selected all of you to guard her carts on the way to Icewind Dale, now that you’ve arrived you want to keep working together, right?”

I know that by no means is this an original thought but that’s because this is by no means an original problem. Here’s a few ideas you could use to bring the party together during character creation or the first session of play in a new campaign.

Steal It

As you may know, I’m big on stealing ideas from others. Well there’s a few games out there that make character background creation a really fun experience. For me, Fate and Fiasco are the two big ones.

You can actually checkout Fate’s rules for character creation for free here: http://www.faterpg.com/dl/df/charactercreation.html

As you can see it’s an in-depth process but there’s no reason why the High Concept, Troubles, and Phases sections can’t be applied to D&D or most non-Fate TRPGs. Heck, even just the Phases section, or just the Whose Path Have You Crossed section is all you need to tie party members together. The wonderful philosophy of Fate is that character creation is play, so check it out. You’ll have a blast doing it with your friends.

As for Fiasco, that’s a bit of a horse of a different color, but still fun. If you’re not familiar with the game, it encourages deceit and disaster amongst its players. Which is fine since it is meant to be a single session game. However, you could play through a session and have all the characters try to get along with an eye toward this being your future D&D party. There’s nothing in the rules which prevents that from happening. The story could be the party’s first adventure together.

Of course, instead of playing an entire game of Fiasco, you could just go through the Set-Up phase, wherein every character forms a connection to two other characters. Then you don’t even need to worry about changing the tone of the game. The rules of Fiasco aren’t publicly available, but if you’re interested in learning more the game’s Wikipedia article is actually pretty comprehensive on the subject. I recommend buying it and not just for D&D. It’s a ton of fun to play in its own right.

If you know the game (or buy it) and are interested in using it to set up connections amongst characters for an Eberron game, I actually created a Fiasco playset for Eberron which takes place in the city of Making in the country of Cyre right before The Mourning. Check it out: Eberron Fiasco – Making

Use Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws

The fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons already has a baked-in backgrounds system and it’s great. Why not tell players that either their bonds or their ideals must relate to at least one of the other characters in the party. So a bond might be, “I never let my younger brother Bartho the Wise out of my sight because I promised our mother I wouldn’t,” or “I’ve sworn to help my best friend Kayla Swift pay off her father’s gambling debts to the local thieves guild.”  An ideal might be more general, such as “Family. I put the life of my kin above all others – including my own. (Neutral)” Follow this up with a more specific note – the cleric is my sister. Boom, instant ties.

Perhaps less obvious would be to use the traits and flaws of a character. Personality traits describe the way your character behaves, so it might be something like, “I laugh at all my friend Bertha the Destroyer’s jokes,” or “I’m tongue-tied around the lovely Jake the Handsome.”

Flaws are ground to be tread very carefully. Only if you and your players want to play a game of deceit and backstabbing should flaws enter in the most obvious of ways. “I can’t help but steal from my friend Garrus the Blind,” is a terrible flaw for most games. Instead, encourage players to think of flaws that would be detrimental to themselves as opposed to others. “I worry about my nephew, Sid the Skinny, and so I give him half my food, even when he isn’t hungry and I am,” or, “I often embarrass myself in public by performing unnecessary acts of affection for my betrothed, Hermantia Hedgerow.”

Make sure players clear these with you and with each other before setting them in stone, since Jake the Handsome may not want the tongue-tied advances of another PC.

Shared Bonding Experience

Nothing bonds a group of people together like being in the same military unit, prison, university dorm, church, orphanage, thieves guild, or mercenary group. Maybe the party in your game has this in their history, like The A-Team. Or maybe your players shared in some traumatic experience together (such as a devastating earthquake or goblin horde destroying their home). You get even more specific and say they had the same mentor who has now gone missing. This keeps things a little more lose, but means your players already know each other and have something which bonds them together. Either pick a shared experience like this for your players to tie into PC backgrounds or have them decide as a group what they’ve shared which brings them together. If they belong to a shared group like a guild, decide if they still belong to this organization at the start of the campaign or if all or some of them have left it behind.

Flashforward

Why not start your players off with a battle and no explanation. Just bam! Drop them right in the action. After the fight you may say something like, “One day earlier…” and take them back to the start of the adventure. This is a suggested way to start the published Eyes of the Lich Queen D&D 3.5 Eberron adventure. Starting a story in medias res is by no means a new idea. It was done in Star Wars, The Aeneid, the Iron Man movie, and oh so many more stories. Yes, it does railroad your players for a bit, but that’s not a bad thing at the start of a campaign. Your players now know they have to work together at least to a certain point for the story to make sense. Hopefully by the time they reach that point in the story, their relationships with one another will be somewhat established. If they’re concerned about being on rails, let them know the whole campaign won’t be like this, it’s just a way for you thread a quest hook and bring their characters together. After all, that’s exactly what it is.

Group Storytelling

At Tracy Hickman’s XDM panel at Gen Con this year, the man of the hour actually showed up a little late. His friend, whose name I unfortunately cannot recall or find, actually started the panel and shared some great tips for building party cohesion. If anyone knows that guy’s name, please let me know! One of his tips was to have the adventuring party already established as working together at the start of the campaign. Perhaps mere days ago they just finished up a quest and the campaign opens with them at the bar bragging to others about the adventure. The players then go around and take turns telling different parts of the story, describing not just the action of their individual characters, but their interactions with each other as well. If you don’t want to do this in a tavern bragging setting you could simply have your players engage in a similar form of group storytelling during character creation. If you want more structure you could play a quick game of pass the story involving the PCs.

What Did I Use?

So I ended up going with a combination of using the fifth edition built-in Bonds and Ideals and the group storytelling. It seemed to work well for my players, who really enjoyed not just working another character or two into their backstory, but also kicking off the first new session with telling a tale of how badass their new character was without having to roll dice to prove it. What are some other methods out there? Let me know in the comments below!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts 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!

The RPG Blog community is awesome. I have found a lot of really wonderful, supportive folks out there with their own blogs in the 7 months I’ve been doing this thing.

They do bring you the best in RPGs!

I bring this up because it is the theme of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. I thought I’d let you all know what blogs I like to read so you can discover some other cool people if you aren’t already following them. It’s all about the love and support. Reading these blogs gives me ideas for posts of my own and has allowed me to meet a bunch of new friends.

  • Dice Monkey Hosting this month’s carnival, the blog covers everything from comics to D&D. Mark Merdith reviews, designs, inspires, and creates. He’s prolific, smart, and kind. Check him out. He’s even got a lot of great products and supplements up on his site. Odds are if you’re playing a tabletop RPG, he’s written about it.
  • Sly Flourish If you’re a DM or GM, Mike Shea‘s site is for you. He has all kinds of great tips and advice which run from system specific (including Fate, Dungeons and Dragons, 13th Age, and more) to general DM advice. He’s actually the guy who inspired me to start blogging and podcasting so I can’t recommend him enough.
  • Gaming As Women I’m a feminist and a nerd. I can’t say enough how much it irks me when I see hateful comments and brohams trolling women in gaming. People, isn’t the gaming community marginalized enough as it is? So do yourself a favor, check out this blog. Gaming As Women is a great blog full of interesting essays, where women talk about their experiences in games, studies done in the industry, and review products. The many authors on the site are all women and as a man who plays mostly with other men, it’s great to see things from a different perspective.
  • Newbie DM Enrique the Newbie DM has been playing D&D for years, but only really began DMing when fourth edition came along. He has some great advice on his site for new DMs and old alike. He also comments on the news of the day with a wise eye and swift pen. I’m looking forward to the return of his fabulous minicast with the release of fifth edition D&D. So check him out already!
  • Old Dungeon Master Another great blog for DMs and GMs out there. Ronny Hart has been a DM for 30 years and right now he’s covering the release of fifth edition beautifully, giving us an inside look as his game and dolling out sage advice.
  • Gaming Ballistic People of the world, Douglas Cole is here for you! My man is mainly a GURPS guru, but his blog covers a wealth of topics! If you need someone to really break down an idea or concept, you cannot beat Mr. Cole. He does deep dives into all sorts of ideas, including some he did for the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons. He also does in-depth interviews with people in the gaming industry, including this one he did with me:

  • Dungeon Fantastic If you like old school dungeon crawls (and who doesn’t?) Peter V. Dell’Orto is your man. His system is GURPs, but his ideas and advice are universal. He loves hacking things and taking traditional fantasy ideas and turning them on their head. Check him out! This is a great resource for all fantasy RPG DMs.
  • Sarah Darkmagic She’s written for Gaming As Women, but this one is the fantastic Tracy Hurley‘s personal blog. Her passion for equality amongst all people knows no bounds and her blog posts make a person think twice about their own games. I can’t say enough good things about Tracy and her blog, so do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself. I bet you come away more thoughtful and open-minded than you did before. She’s also a Wizards of the Coast insider, so you get a good behind-the-scenes look into the industry and the folks who make D&D.
  •  5 Minute Workday Do you like your RPG news, reviews, and GM advice with a hilarious web comic? Then you have to check out Jester David‘s blog. He’s a man you can trust and does his research. His pen is solid, people. Check him out, especially if you like Pathfinder and D&D!
  • RPG Musings I share a similar philosophy about gaming with author Sam Dillon – play the game you want to play. I’ve never met a person who can really evaluate and see an issue from all sides the way Sam can. If you like level-headed, even-handed, brilliant GMs, check out his blog for advice and thoughts on D&D products. If there’s one GM out there I want to experience more than any other, it’s Sam the man.
  • Acts of Geek In the style of Nerdist, Acts of Geek covers everything in nerd culture. Check out their column by Joe Lastowski, Draggin’ Through Dungeons, to keep up with the latest D&D products. Joe’s reviews are thorough and tend to highlight things I would miss on a first read, so keep this page bookmarked and be sure to check back whenever a new D&D product arises. When he isn’t writing about products directly, Joe is commenting on the rules and giving us an in-depth look at fifth edition!
  • The Gaming Blog of General Tangent If you want to hear the musings, advice, clever game designer, this is the blog for you. The posts are generally shorter, but packed with solid information. General Tangent hits hard and fast, so check out the blog and enjoy. It’s really good, especially when you don’t have time to read a long post from somewhere else.

Also, if you’re out there thinking of starting you own blog, be it about RPGs or anything else, let me say this – do it. It’s free and it’s rewarding. Even if you only post a few times and decide it’s not for you, hey at least you tried it out and won’t be wondering. For me, it’s been a super rewarding experience and I have found a whole new community of folks who talk games with me! What could be better?

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts 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!

Thanks to everyone who checked out the The Tome Show Presents The Round Table’s Tarrasque Takedown 2014: Mike Shea Out for Blood. I apologize for technical difficulties which had us start a few minutes late, but it was a blast! We didn’t get to finish our battles, since one of the things we learned about high-level combat is that it takes a while. There will be a continuation and for those who missed it, there’s a YouTube video below and it will be released as a podcast on The Tome Show’s website eventually.

We did get our butts kicked by the Tarrasque, but discussing it over email with the other players, had we made some different moves, we probably would have been victorious. I’m guessing most parties who have played together for 20 levels will find the Tarrasque a challenge, but not wholly unbeatable.

Anyway, The Tome Show Presents The Round Table’s Tarrasque Takedown 2014 Part II: Joe Lastowski, Christopher Dudley, Topher Kohan, and James Introcaso Out For Revenge: The Second One promises beholders and possibly demiliches and red dragons! More on that when we have more details!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcast Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, 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.

I sit down with Alex Basso and Round Table newbie John Fischer to talk about the Dungeon Master’s Guide’release being pushed back and a whole bunch of previews from the upcoming Monster Manual. This podcast was recorded on September 18, 2014.

Links:

Intellect Devourer

Kobold

Golems

Umber Hulk

Bone Devil

Sphinx

Rust Monster

Manticore

Thri-Kreen

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

 

 

Earlier this morning, I introduced you to Crisdale the Unworthy. Now, I’d like you to meet the next character in our party of adventurers for The Tome Show Presents The Round Table’s Tarrasque Takedow 2014: Mike Shea Out For Blood. Meet Malachi Moonriver, Human Circle of the Moon Druid, played by cool guy Joe Lastowski.

Malachi Moonriver Pregen

More cool stuff to come! For those who need the details of the event, check it out below!

Mike Shea, Topher Kohan, Joe Lastowski, Christopher Dudley and I discovered during a recent episode of The Round Table podcast that we had no idea how high-level play would shake out in the new edition. So, Mike graciously agreed to DM us through a series of level 20+ encounters culminating in an all-out, no holds barred, punch you in the face, over the top battle with my main monster the Tarrasque. If you want to be there live this Sunday, September 21st at 7:30PM Eastern – click the event link. You can also watch on youtube. If you can’t be there live, the YouTube video will live at that address and we’re releasing the audio as podcasts on The Tome Show’s website! Thanks, Jeff Greiner!

If you’re going, please tell your friends and on social media use #TarrasqueTakedown. I would love to be mocked in a live tweet stream, so please, help me complete a life goal.

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

Most of you probably already know about The Tome Show Presents The Round Table’s Tarrasque Takedow 2014: Mike Shea Out For Blood. If you don’t essentially Mike Shea, Topher Kohan, Joe Lastowski, Christopher Dudley and I discovered during a recent episode of The Round Table podcast that we had no idea how high-level play would shake out in the new edition. So, Mike graciously agreed to DM us through a series of level 20+ encounters culminating in an all-out, no holds barred, punch you in the face, over the top battle with my main monster the Tarrasque. If you want to be there live this Sunday, September 21st at 7:30PM Eastern – click the event link. You can also watch on youtube. If you can’t be there live, the YouTube video will live at that address and we’re releasing the audio as podcasts on The Tome Show’s website! Thanks, Jeff Greiner!

If you’re going, please tell your friends and on social media use #TarrasqueTakedown. I would love to be mocked in a live tweet stream, so please, help me complete a life goal.

Anyway, it’s going to be fun…. and deadly! And educational! Seriously, we’re hoping to learn a lot about high-level play in the new edition, come learn with us. After it’s all said and done, we’ll do a Round Table podcast breaking down what we learned.

Now, I want to introduce you to Crisdale the Unworthy. He’s the level 20 Human Warlock I’ve created and will be playing. He rocks and Infernal Pact with Orcus Demon Prince of the Undead (it was an accident!) and loves him a good Book… of Shadows! Check him out in the pdf below.

Crisdale the Unworthy pregen

Keep in mind, he’s built for heavy combat, since that’s mostly what our session will be.

All right, folks! See you on Sunday!

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

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

So it occurred to me that while there’s quite a few backgrounds out there, there are not many which focus on non-magical healing arts. I’m talking about physicians, medics, nurses, barbers, vets, and the like. It may have occurred to me because I have a grandfather, father, and sister who are doctors along with a brother in nursing school and several members of my extended family who also work in the field. Heck, back in the day my grandmother worked for the World Health Organization like the boss she was. So you can see why I noticed the lack of medical professionals in D&D, as I have never been without.

There is something else at play here too, beyond my personal family history. In a recently recorded, soon-to-be-aired Tome Show podcast review of the Player’s Handbook, Jeff Greiner mentioned that while he really liked the fifth edition rules and classes, he missed the warlord class from the fourth edition days. I’m in agreement with him. Now, I can already hear your brain telling Jeff and me that the warlord lives on in some builds of the tactically minded Battle Master fighter archetype. I agree with that as well, but if you look hard, that build is focused on movement and giving allies attacks, not healing. It would be great to have a martial healing option. I used to dream about that before fourth edition came out and was excited to see a nonmagical healer as an option.

I understand, though, that not everyone was thrilled with the fourth edition inspiring warlord. How could his inspiring word with no magic behind it close wounds the same way a cleric’s healing word might? It’s a fair question, and some (like myself) might say hit points aren’t just your your body’s ability to take a beating, but also your endurance, etc. Yet, when dealing with an ally that is unconscious and bleeding out with a loxo tusk through his or her belly, the warlord’s healing becomes a little harder to sell. You can see why Wizards did away with that idea for fifth edition, because mechanically it works the same as a cleric’s healing which is magic. I say we still need (or at least it would be nice to have) a true nonmagical healer.

I wanted to see someone who could really heal an ally once the battle was over and aid in recovery in down time. Heck, if you had the right rules you could create a gritty world and do away with healing magic all together. With short rests, the Healer feat, and Hit Dice working the way they do in fifth edition, I thought for sure we’d see a doctor background. Well, we didn’t, but that’s ok. I can make it myself. This bad boy is going in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide for sure.

New Background: Doctor

You were a surgeon, barber, country doctor, field medic, nurse, or other medical professional. Healing wounds, treating diseases, and creating medicines for others in need was how you spent your days. While illness and injury make many uncomfortable, they are areas in which you thrive. When others panic, you’re working on a cure or stopping the bleeding.

Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Medicine

Tool Proficiencies: Herbalism Kit, Poisoner’s Kit

Equipment: A preserved medical anomaly (such as a deformed skull or appendix), an herbalism kit, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 15 gp.

So there it is! The doctor!

Let me know what you think and enjoy!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts 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!