Posts Tagged ‘Chris Perkins’

Note: This article first appeared in the Roleplaying Tips Newsletter.

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At the end of a long campaign, I want my players and I to feel totally satisfied. I mean the sort of satisfaction one gets when a story wraps up with no question unanswered. The kind of story that ends with every major character’s arc finished and accounted for.

This is a challenge when there’s only a single person telling a story – just think of all the novels that have left you hanging in one way or another over the years. But when a group of friends gets into collaborative tale-spinning one chapter at a time with long breaks between, it is almost impossible to wrap up everything with a tidy bow.

All that said, it can be done. With a little prep work at the start of your campaign, and by jotting down just a few notes each session, you can stay organized and tie up all your plot threads. As the finale approaches, you’ll weave those threads into a seamless story that will have your players feeling like they just finished watching all of Breaking Bad.

All you need to do is create two simple documents – a campaign outline and a list of plot threads.

Outline Your Campaign

Before your campaign begins, create a loose outline of your story. This outline can take you from the campaign’s first session to its final, or it could simply be the first story arc or adventure.

Map out where you think the characters will be headed, any major NPCs or villains they might encounter, and the quests they are trying to complete.

You know your gaming group best, so plan in as much detail and as far into your campaign as you feel comfortable while outlining.

If your group plays the kind of game in which the game master dictates a majority of the story, feel free to outline in detail if time allows.

If your players are the kind who surprise you and drive every session off the rails, just keep your outline to the big bullet points of your story and the names of important people. I imagine most groups fall somewhere in the middle.

Here’s an example of what an outline looks like at this stage.

  1. The young dragon Melicharo the White has kidnapped Duke Wellington and ransomed him
    1. Duchess Fiona, Wellington’s wife, is looking for adventurers to save him
      1. Wellington was targeted by Melicharo because the duchess has several magic items the dragon wants
      2. Fiona will give one of her magic items as a reward to the adventurers who save Wellington
    2. The adventurers will go into Melicharo’s lair to save Wellington
      1. The lair is a floating glacier that does not melt
      2. Melicharo is allied with a tribe of kobolds who worship him as a god
  2. Duchess Fiona contracts the adventurers to recover more items for her collection
    1. Duchess Fiona is a member of The Shields, a small secret society that keeps dangerous relics out of the hands of evildoers.
    2. Duchess Fiona warns the adventurers that The Society of Genius, an organization of wizards bent on world domination, might be trying to get the same magic items they’re seeking
    3. The party retrieves several items for the duchess and sometimes has run-ins with the Society of Genius
  3. As part of a massive coordinated attack against The Shields, The Society of Genius kills Duchess Fiona and steals the items the adventurers have gathered for her
  4. The adventurers must seek help from the last remaining members of The Shields who have gone into hiding
  5. The adventurers must take on The Society of Genius

In this case, the further I delved into the outline the less detailed it got. The details and the connective tissue of the campaign can be worked out later as you will see below. The characters’ first adventure is most detailed since I need to be ready to roll for the first session.

If you have a specific idea you don’t want to forget (e.g. Duke Wellington is secretly a member of The Society of Genius), add that in your outline too.

If you’re running a sandbox style adventure, your outline will look a little different. Each Roman numeral might be a different event, adventure site, or influential NPC in the area. It could just be a list of those things in bullet points rather than a formal outline format.

How your outline looks is up to you, as long as you know what it means.

Add PC Backgrounds

If you’re running a longer campaign with a lot of plot threads, odds are your players might create some sort of backstory for their characters. It might be built into the system you’re playing, it could be something you ask the players to write, or you could send them a questionnaire with prompts.

Many players use this as an opportunity to introduce new plot threads into your game. A backstory thread could be a task the PC is trying to complete, such as hunting down a sibling’s murderer or garner enough money to bail a loved one out of jail. Likewise, a character could be running from something in a backstory like a cult or jilted lover.

After you get these backstories it’s time to begin a new document: a list of plot threads. This one is easy to create. Just list all the open plot threads you have at the start of a campaign.

Here’s what the plot thread document for my sample campaign might look like after receiving the PC backstories:

  • Duke Wellington has been captured and ransomed by the dragon Melicharo
  • Duchess Fiona works for The Shields and will ask adventurers who impress her to recover relics
  • The Society of Genius is seeking the same items as The Shields
  • Thog (half-orc barbarian) is searching for the necromancer who killed his brother
  • Rhea (human wizard) needs enough gold for a diamond to raise her old mentor from the dead so she can learn the location of his old spellbook
  • Tippy Shortstockings (halfling rogue) is running from her old thieves’ guild after she stole the thief queen’s crown
  • Grimbeard McShandy (dwarf cleric) lost track of his husband years ago after he disappeared mysteriously in the night

After I gather these threads I incorporate some or all of them into my outline. As the threads are worked in, I cross them off. The first three are already crossed-off, since they are included in the original outline. If I can’t find a place for a new thread in the outline, I let it remain uncrossed. I’m going to revisit the list after each session to see what’s changed (more on that later).

See how the outline looks now that I’ve added some of the backstory plot threads? Note I’ve added a side quests section to the outline now, as not every thread applies to the overarching plot of the campaign. I can work those side quests in as I see fit.

For a sandbox campaign, there really is no such thing as a side quest, so the outline would be different as each quest would be its own category with a Roman numeral.

  1. The young dragon Melicharo the White has kidnapped Duke Wellington and ransomed her
    1. Duchess Fiona, Wellington’s wife, is looking for adventurers to save him
      1. Wellington was targeted by Melicharo because the duchess has several magic items the dragon wants
      2. Fiona will give one of her magic items as a reward to the adventurers who save Wellington
    2. The adventurers will go into Melicharo’s lair to save Wellington
      1. The lair is a floating glacier that does not melt
      2. Melicharo is allied with a tribe of kobolds who worship him as a god
      3. Melicharo has a large diamond in his hoard that could be used by Rhea to bring her old mentor back to life
  2. Duchess Fiona contracts the adventurers to recover more items for her collection
    1. Duchess Fiona is a member of The Shields, a small secret society that keeps dangerous relics out of the hands of evildoers
    2. Duchess Fiona warns the adventurers that The Society of Genius, an organization of wizards bent on world domination, might be trying to get the same magic items they’re seeking
    3. The party retrieves several items for the duchess and sometimes has run-ins with the Society of Genius
    4. During the course of these adventures, Tippy’s old thieves’ guild strikes while the characters are away and steals one of the recovered magic items
      1. The guild threatens to sell the item to The Society of Genius unless the thief queen’s crown is returned
      2. The party must find the thieves’ guild and decide how to deal with them
  3. As part of a massive coordinated attack against The Shields, The Society of Genius kills Duchess Fiona and steals the items the adventurers have gathered for her
  4. The adventurers must seek help from the last remaining members of The Shields who have gone into hiding
  5. The adventurers must take on The Society of Genius
  6. Side Quests
    1. At night Grimbeard McShandy keeps receiving prophetic dreams of his missing husband screaming in pain

As you can see, there’s still room for more detail and side quests. Thog’s thread has yet to be incorporated into the outline. After this it’s a quick cross-off of the Rhea, Tippy, and Grimbeard bullet points on the thread list. Thog’s bullet point remains uncrossed as it has yet to be worked into the plot.

It helps if you keep both these documents in some sort of digital form, preferably in a cloud-based storage system like Google Drive. If your campaign takes years and you change devices or move, it helps these all-important campaign tracking documents remain intact.

Once you’ve worked all the backstory threads you want into your outline, you’re ready to start playing. When the campaign gets underway, a few notes each session will go a long way.

Take Notes

Whether it’s during the session or right after, take note of any new threads that have opened up during your game. If you want to bring back the goblin who managed to run away as a magically enhanced megavillain seeking revenge on the party for the death of her friends, you should write that down before you forget. A quick note will do, just something to jog your memory.

Sometimes you’ll get an idea for a new plot thread totally outside the realm of gaming. You might be grabbing a cup of coffee in the break room, watching a child’s soccer game, or playing a video game and think, “I should bring that into my game.” Take note of these ideas too. Gone are the days of needing to have a piece of paper and something to write with in order to remember a great idea. If you’ve got a phone, you’ve got a note-taking application.

When you sit down to plan your next session, take a minute and add your new ideas into the open plot thread document. Our updated sample looks like this after the first session.

  • Duke Wellington has been captured and ransomed by the dragon Melicharo.
  • Duchess Fiona works for The Shields and will ask adventurers who impress her to recover relics.
  • The Society of Genius is seeking the same items as The Shields.
  • Thog (half-orc barbarian) is searching for the necromancer who killed his brother.
  • Rhea (human wizard) needs enough gold for a diamond to raise her old mentor from the dead so she can learn the location of his old spellbook.
  • Tippy Shortstockings (halfling rogue) is running from her old thieves’ guild after she stole the thief queen’s crown.
  • Grimbeard McShandy (dwarf cleric) lost track of his husband years ago after he disappeared mysteriously in the night.
  • The kobold shaman Skull-Skull in Melicharo's lair escaped after watching his friends die at the hands of the adventurers and promised revenge.
  • In Grimbeard McShandy's dreams, his husband is being tortured by an otherworldly creature called a feldyra, a monster that slowly steals the life force of others and lives in a literal nightmare realm.
  • Rhea has the diamond to bring back her mentor.
  • Tippy is trying to seduce Duke Wellington and he seems into it...
  • Duke Wellington is tired of playing second fiddle to his wife and is secretly a member of The Society of Genius.
  • Melicharo's mother, Brindratharix, is out there and coming for the adventurers. When she learns The Society of Genius is searching for them, she joins forces.

After that, take a few minutes and update your outline just like you did with the character backstories. Check the old uncrossed threads too. You might be able to incorporate those. Just like last time, it’s fine to leave off any threads you can’t work into the outline. Leave them uncrossed. Here’s our sample with the new information.

  1. The young dragon Melicharo the White has kidnapped Duke Wellington and ransomed her
    1. Duchess Fiona, Wellington’s wife, is looking for adventurers to save him
      1. Wellington was targeted by Melicharo because the duchess has several magic items the dragon wants
      2. Fiona will give one of her magic items as a reward to the adventurers who save Wellington
    2. The adventurers will go into Melicharo’s lair to save Wellington
      1. The lair is a floating glacier which does not melt
      2. Melicharo is allied with a tribe of kobolds who worship him as a god
      3. Melicharo has a large diamond in his hoard which could be used by Rhea to bring her old mentor back to life
  2. Duchess Fiona contracts the adventurers to recover more items for her collection
    1. Duchess Fiona is a member of The Shields, a small secret society that keeps dangerous relics out of the hands of evildoers
    2. Duchess Fiona warns the adventurers that The Society of Genius, an organization of wizards bent on world domination, might be trying to get the same magic items they’re seeking
    3. The party retrieves several items for the duchess and sometimes has run-ins with the Society of Genius
    4. During the course of these adventures, Tippy’s old thieves’ guild strikes while the characters are away and steals one of the recovered magic items
      1. The guild threatens to sell the item to The Society of Genius unless the thief queen’s crown is returned
      2. The party must find the thieve’s guild and decide how to deal with them
  3. As part of a massive coordinated attack against The Shields, The Society of Genius kills Duchess Fiona and steals the items the adventurers have gathered for her
    1. Duke Wellington is gone. As a secret member of The Society of Genius, he got the inside information from his wife and helped plan the attacks.
  4. The adventurers must seek help from the last remaining members of The Shields who have gone into hiding
  5. The adventurers must take out the allies of The Society of Genius to weaken them
    1. Brindratharix is supporting them and in her son's old lair
    2. Tippy's old thieves' guild may align themselves with The Society of Genius after interacting with them
  6. The adventurers must take on The Society of Genius
    1. At some point Thog will face his brother's killer
  7. Side Quests
    1. At night Grimbeard McShandy keeps receiving prophetic dreams of his missing husband screaming in pain
      1. Grimbeard McShandy must find a way to enter the nightmare realm to save his husband from a feldyra
      2. If he does not rescue his husband in 90 days, his husband will die from the feldyra's constant feeding
    2. Rhea brings her mentor back from death
      1. His old spellbook was rigged to teleport into a secret underground prison for vampires in the event of his death
        1. The prison used to be run by lycanthropes friendly to the mentor, but since his death the vampires broke free and control the place
        2. The head vampire found the spellbook and is currently using it to keep his leadership position
      2. The mentor is familiar with the necromancer who killed Thog's brother
        1. Necromancer is a member of The Society of Genius
        2. Was a former student of the mentor
    3. Skull-Skull will return with his Ettin friend to stomp the party

Once you start playing, a single plot thread can spawn a lot of ideas. Some are side quests and others take place further down the road. But now you’ve got an idea of how the story can be connected and how to work it into your game. You won’t leave anything hanging unless you want to.

Tie Up Threads As You Go

Weave threads together over the course of the story. Do not save every thread for the final session. In the early days of running games, I kept all threads, major and minor, open until the very end of a campaign. It made for an almost comical finale.

Until the last session, every recurring villain got away, the characters never fully confronted their shady pasts, every missing person important to the party stayed missing… you get the idea. It felt like the final episode of a television series canceled mid-season. There was a hasty wrap-up.

If you close threads along the way throughout the campaign, you’ll be surprised at how much richer your story becomes.

Tying up many threads earlier will create new ones for you. As you can see in the example above, the party’s wizard raises her mentor and it leads to new revelations and quests. This gives the story extra layers of plot and creates a deeper tale that’s more satisfying when all is done.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you take a few notes each session and a few minutes to update your outline between games, you’re going to accomplish telling a spectacular, complete story.

End the Campaign

When it comes time to start bringing your story to a conclusion, you’ll need to start tying up plot threads. I know my game master brain can’t stop introducing new ideas, which is totally fine, but at some point you need make sure you’re closing down more plot threads then you’re adding to have everything wrapped up by the story’s conclusion.

It’s cliche, but true – all good things must come to an end. Some campaigns continue on until the gaming group breaks up and the story just fizzles out, but to get the most out of this method, you need to bring it home. If you outline at the start, take notes, update, and tie up threads throughout, your gaming group will want the campaign to end. The satisfaction of completing an epic story together will propel you into your next adventure together.

Roll20CON Wrap-Up!

I also just wanted to thank everyone who made the Roll20CON livestream awesome. Your support, views, and encouragement mean more than you know!

You can checkout both our games in the links below. The first Dungeons and Dragons game with Rudy Basso, Nadja Otikor, James D’Amato, Richard Zayas, and Greg Bilsland starts in the first video around the 03:09:10 mark. The second game with Anna Prosser Robinson, Holly Conrad, Jared Knabenbaur, and Chris Perkins starts in the first video around the 12:20:25 mark and continues into the second.

https://player.twitch.tv/?video=v70242239

https://player.twitch.tv/?video=v70365584

Thanks to everyone involved. All players were amazing. Roll20 folks were amazing. The audience and community were amazing. The other games and panels were amazing. I was amazed.

Two announcements to come out of this…

  1. Roll20 will be putting out a FREE starter adventure designed by yours truly with maps from Russ Hapke and Gabriel Pickard, puzzle tiles from Stephen Shomo, and tokens from Phillip Wright. If you’ve never played on Roll20 or if you’ve never played fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons or if both of those statements apply to you, this is the adventure that will teach you how. If you’re an expert with both it’s still a fun time. We played through the adventure in the first game I DMed.
  2. During the second game we played Merric Blackman‘s adventure Death in the Cornfields (with a little Tarokka Expansion mixed in). It is an awesome mystery that can be played in one session. Do it.

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!

I told you my last blog post was a preview for my upcoming DMs Guild product, well now it’s here! Tarokka Expansion gives you a bunch of new options for the tarokka deck you bought for Curse of Strahd. With this product you can…

  • Use the tarokka deck as a randomizer instead of dice on any random table (including encounter and treasure tables).
  • Use the tarokka deck and the corresponding Tarokka Deck Critical Hit Effects table whenever a creature scores a critical hit to make those 20s pack a little more punch.
  • Use the tarokka deck and the corresponding Tarokka Deck Critical Failure Effects table whenever a creature scores a critical failure to make those 1s misdirected awesomes instead of automatic misses.
  • Introduce a new NPC villain into Curse of Strahd or any gothic horror game. The Collector uses the tarokka deck to summon creatures, cast spells, and curse adventurers who cross her path.

TarokkaExpansion20160601_Cover

This product will be making an appearance during my 2PM Pacific time game during Roll20CON. As of this posting – Roll20CON is tomorrow! Check out the schedule below! You’ll notice I’m running two fifth edition games during the 24-hour live stream with some of the biggest names in Dungeons and Dragons including…

schedule4

If you haven’t heard about Roll20CON yet, the info is below!

The free, online-only celebration of the Roll20 Community will take place on June 3rd, 2016 for just 24 hours – but you can start preparing, listing, and joining games now! From 12AM – 11:59PM Pacific time, there will be games galore played on my favorite virtual table. You’ll want to join in the action and get to try some of the Plus and Pro subscription features for free. That’s right. Dynamic Lighting (and tons of other awesome features) will be free during Roll20CON.

During the convention, some of your favorite streamers, publishers, podcasters, and I will be live onTwitch helping raise money for Cybersmile, the international non-profit supporting victims of cyberbullying.

Needless to say I am thrilled about this and nervous. I’d love your support and love on game day. So if you’re around at 5AM or 2PM Pacific time on June 3, 2016, check out Twitch and watch us play D&D!

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!

I’ve been very busy lately! Wanna know why? Let’s talk about conventions! I don’t just mean IntroConso. Read about where you can see me and play adventures I’m writing below!

Roll20CON

Roll20CON is a free, online-only celebration of the Roll20 Community will take place on June 3rd, 2016 for just 24 hours – but you can start preparing, listing, and joining games now! From 12AM – 11:59PM Pacific time, there will be games galore played on my favorite virtual table. You’ll want to join in the action and get to try some of the Plus and Pro subscription features for free. That’s right. Dynamic Lighting (and tons of other awesome features) will be free during Roll20CON.

During the convention, some of your favorite streamers, publishers, podcasters, and I will be live on Twitch helping raise money for Cybersmile, the international non-profit supporting victims of cyberbullying.

If you haven’t seen the schedule for Roll20CON check it out below.

Roll20CON

You’ll notice I’m running two games during the 24-hour live stream. You’ll also notice some of the biggest names in Dungeons and Dragons including my good friend Rudy Basso of the Tome Show’s D&D V&G podcast and Have Spellbook, Will Travel, Nadja Otikor of Misscliks D&D Prophecy, Greg Bilsland of Wizards of the Coast and member of the Dungeons and Dragons team, and, oh yeah, Chris Freakin’ Perkins, a Wizards of the Coast D&D employee who needs no introduction.

Needless to say I am thrilled about this and nervous. I’d love your support and love on game day. So if you’re around at 5AM or 2PM Pacific time on June 3, 2016, check out Twitch and watch us play D&D!

Gen Con

GenCon2016-II-672x372

I’m back in Indianapolis at Gen Con for the third time in a row and there’s more opportunities than ever to see Rudy Basso, Jeff Greiner, and me.

Where Can You Find Us at Gen Con
  • Round Table Live
    • When: Friday August 5 from 5PM – 6:30PM
    • Where: Crowne Plaza: Grand Central Ballroom D
    • What: A live recording of The Round Table podcast with Rudy, Jeff, Liz Theis, me, and others TBA!
  • Round Table Live After Party
  • The Tome Show Epic 2016
    • When: Saturday August 6 from 4:00PM – 8:00PM
    • Where: TBA
    • What: The world has been decimated by a beast of colossal proportions! Now three groups of heroes are all that can stop the complete annihilation of good folk. Three parties of level 7 PCs will take on a massive doomsday beast – from the inside! It’s a dungeon crawl like never before. Over the course of the adventure party members will switch tables and all three groups must work together to bring down the largest foe ever! DMed by Tome Show podcast hosts Rudy, Jeff, and me. Written by Rudy and me.

Also if you want to play a D&D Adventurers League adventure I wrote for Baldman Games, check out this event:

  • CORE 2-1 Tales of Good & Evil
    • When: Multiple four-hour blocks throughout Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Gen Con
    • Where: Hyatt Regency Ballroom HQ
    • What: As the City of a Thousand Forges perseveres in the face of threats both internal and external, the effects of a planar portal continue to make everyone uneasy. When unusual individuals are drawn to the city because of its power, heroes are asked to keep peace and ferret out anyone intending to bring harm to Melvaunt. A D&D Adventurers League adventure for character level 1 to 4 set in Melvaunt.

Finally do you want to see a short film I made? That’s also going to be at Gen Con. The trailer for a short film I made with Jay LetchkoKnight Birds, is below. Details TBA!

There’s more to come for Gen Con! Hope to see you at one of these places.

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!



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

Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and 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 Rudy Basso, Alex Basso, and Allison Rossi to discuss the new Unearthed Arcana Battlesystem rules and not one, but two vague tweets from WotC employee and LeBron James of DMing Chris Perkins. This podcast was recorded on March 15, 2015.


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


Links:

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

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

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

Excerpt from Chris Perkins' Valoreign document

Excerpt from Chris Perkins’ Valoreign document

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

Things That Make You Go Boom

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

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

Grenades

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

Fireball spell from Basic D&D

Fireball spell from Basic D&D

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

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

Your classic bomb.

Explosives

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Weapon Property

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

Variant: Oops, Explosion

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

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

Cannons… and More!

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

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

Here is a ridiculous cannon.

Siege Weapons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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