Archive for February, 2016

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

I sit down with Andrew Timmes, Barak Blackburn, Andrew KaneDan Dillon to talk about the updated Unearthed Arcana mystic class. Then it’s an interview with Steven Helt, Stephen Rowe, Dan Dillon (again), and Tim Hitchcock of the Four Horsemen to hear about all the awesome projects they have cooking. This podcast was recorded on February 1 and 3, 2015.

Noble Knight pick of the episode: Psionic Power

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You might remember when the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons Open Gaming License was announced I put out a call for cartographers. It is time to buckle down and finish the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

For those who need a quick refresher, Exploration Age is my campaign setting that takes place in the world of Canus. Canus is rife with political intrigue, magical technology, ancient ruins, and unexplored territory. Until the last decade the wild continent of Verda was hidden from the rest of the world. Its recent discovery has sent other nations into a land-grabbing frenzy. Adventurers are needed all over the world to scout unexplored wilds, dive into ruins for items that may help spur the creation of new technologies, and navigate the political upheaval of a complicated world. It is an enormous world, a bit larger than our own. Here are a few of the design principles I came up with while creating the world based on the preferences of my own players.

I’ve outlined numerous countries, peoples, organizations, technologies, and more on this blog. Now I’m getting ready to publish the whole dang world.

Clearly for a place like this the map was super important. I’m lucky enough to have two awesome cartographers working with me. Danny Rupp is creating the huge world map and Ryan Hennesy is making all of the individual country maps. They are awesome dudes and their work is so fresh it’s minty. Check them out!

Basically I asked them to take the map I made using Hexographer and turn it into something more awesome.

World Map of Canus

World Map of Canus

I never worked with a cartographer before so I did not know where to start. Luckily they both did and asked me what style of map I wanted. Style of map? I had never thought about that before. I wanted something professional and inspiring… so I got to Googling. I did indeed find there are many different styles of map. Just look at all the differences between these maps of Khorvaire from the Eberron campaign setting. They are all the same place.

You can see a ton of different styles in the maps above! Each one is useful and beautiful in its own right. So which is best for Exploration Age?

Before you settle on a style of map ask yourself the following two questions.

  1. How will my map be used?
  2. What story will my map tell?

For question one the answer is clear. First the map will be used to determine travel distances like most RPG maps. That’s pretty standard. The detail that distinguishes Exploration Age comes in the form of the blank spots on the map. The maps are also meant to be used by GMs as an aid for hex crawls and exploration of these areas.

As far as story goes Canus is a world that is booming with the business of discovery. Its residents just realized the world is twice as big as they thought. Maps are drawn with feverish excitement each day by eager explorers. My maps need immerse the players in this fervor.

For Exploration Age I’m looking for something that feels hand-drawn with a practical scale and hex grid to keep it easy on GMs as they lead their players through exploratory hex crawls. A combination of the first and fourth examples above seems right. I’ll keep you updated on the maps as they get awesome.

Blank Spots

Of course what makes this campaign setting worthy of the name Exploration Age are the blank spots on the map. They have a huge impact on the world and the fact that they exist is the catalyst for many of the events in the world and possibly the places where your party might be adventuring.

I’ll need to make sure these blank spots are clearly marked on the map without seeming too out of place. That’s a big challenge for Danny and Ryan, but I have no doubt they’ll crush it.

I know some of you might be saying, “Why are there blank spots on the map? If I’m paying for a campaign setting, I expect the whole thing!” That’s understandable. I assure you that Exploration Age will come with more than enough world created. You can run an entire campaign all over Canus and never need to explore an unmapped area.

The reason I included these blank areas is I always love creating my own area of a game world even when I’m playing in a published setting. Settings inspire me with a great ideas , but I the world doesn’t always have the room to add them without subtracting from what is already there. I’ve found that many other GMs do the same. We want a chance to add our own ideas to the world we play in. That is what D&D is all about. Even fifth edition lead designer Jeremy Crawford‘s personal campaign world began as Barovia. He rolled back the mists and began building up the area around the gothic setting until he had a much larger world.

That’s why this map has blank spots. So GMs who are inspired by the world to create more can easily make a piece of it their own. There’s tons of inspiration and hanging story threads within the pages of the campaign guide’s manuscript to help bring players and GMs into the unknown. Over the coming months I’ll be sharing more of the world but I’m also going to share some resources and advice that make hex crawls fun and easy. I hope you enjoy what I’m building!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Hey everyone! I just released another new product on the DMs Guild. Greater & Elder Elementals is now available as a pay what you want product! This product features Huge-sized greater (CR 8) and Gargantuan-sized elder (CR 12) elementals for your game. These larger higher level elementals existed in older editions of the game. I took it upon myself to convert them for fifth edition D&D. It was very easy to do, but if you want to save yourself some time, go ahead and download the PDF for free. You can grab my other pay what you want products while you’re there – 15 New Backgrounds, Catastrophic Dragons, and Archons. Do me a favor. Please check them out and rate them! Honestly good feedback is worth more than some cashola at the moment, so please download them for free if you like and let me know what you think!


This free PDF on the DMs Guild is also an excuse to talk about my latest article in EN5ider!

My third published Epic Threats article, “Epic Threats: Elementals,” is currently available through EN World EN5ider. Morrus, EN World King, and his team are awesome and have been putting out great fifth edition content and they have a whole catalogue of stuff still to come. I definitely recommend you check out the work over there. My other articles, “Give Chase,” “Get Sick,” “Epic Threats: NPCs,” and “Epic Threats: Goblinoids and Orcs,” are available over there as well and ready to make chases in your game awesome. This latest article has a new and improved Wizards of the Coast style monster stat block!

I’ve been running a fifth edition game for almost a year and it’s clear to me that there aren’t enough high challenge rating monsters to provide me with the variety of combat encounters I like to have at my disposal. Yes, bounded accuracy lets me use the old standbys far after the PCs’ level is much higher than the bugbear’s CR. I just need to keep adding bugbears… but combat with a lot of baddies is slow and can become a grind. That’s not the kind of variety I’m looking for.

That’s why I submitted a series of monster articles to EN World EN5ideran online magazine which publishes content for the fifth edition of the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game. The first of those articles, “Epic Threats: High Level NPCs,” presents five new NPCs with challenge ratings of 11 and above to add to your game. The second, “Epic Threats: Goblinoids and Orcs,” provides five more baddies to bring into your high level games! These are (obviously) of the more goblin and orc variety. The latest and last article, “Epic Threats: Elementals,” gives you some awesome high level elementals (the Steam, Storm, Smoke, Sand, Mud, and Magma varieties).

I have to say, if you’re playing fifth edition and craving more content, EN5ider is a great place to get it. I’m not just saying that because I’ve now written for them five times. You get one short adventure a month plus another three articles with advice on running chases, new diseasesnew druid circles, creating puzzles, and so much more. You get all that for $2 a month. If you don’t want the adventure, you can still score the articles for $1 a month. That’s less than a bottle of water in most places. The articles are of a great quality and EN World creator, Russ Morrissey, writes several of the best. You can grab some sample articles and an adventure for free so check it out.

I also have to give a super special shoutout to EN5ider editor, James J. Haeck. He’s brilliant, creative, and a blast to work with. Every letter that man touches becomes better for it and this series of articles would be a lot worse without his hard work.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, 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 four of the six Adventurers League admins – Bill Benham, Resource Manager, Greg Marks, Associate Resource Manager, Travis Woodall, Content Manager, and Robert Adducci, Community Manager. We talk about the Curse of Strahd storyline and how it affects the D&D Adventurers League. Then it’s an interview with Ross Watson about his Kickstarter for the relaunch of Strike Force for the Champions RPG. This podcast was recorded on January 13 and 28, 2015.

Noble Knight pick of the episode: Ravenloft

DMs Guild pick of the episode: Monster Codex: Underdark Enemies

Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!