Posts Tagged ‘D&D second edition’

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!

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

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

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

You can listen here: 

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!

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Aasimar in D&D History

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

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

Devas vs Aasimar

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

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

Aasimar in Angelia

That is a huge sword. HUGE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

History of Crystalis in Canus

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

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

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

Crystalis Today

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

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

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

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

The Holy Cleansers

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

Aasimar as PCs

What a badass!

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

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

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

Aasimar Traits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next Round Table podcast is up on The Tome Show. In this podcast, Rudy, Alex, Vegas, and I discuss the Tyranny of Dragons announcement, magic items, and healing in D&D Next.

The Round Table comes out pretty regularly on Fridays during the month and has players of various backgrounds discussing the latest D&D news. If you like it, you should check out all the other great content on The Tome Show.

As always you can reach me by leaving a comment or following me on Twitter.