Posts Tagged ‘D&D third edition’

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

I sit down with game designer Shawn Merwin of Encoded Designs. Shawn has written numerous adventures for Dungeons and Dragons including fourth edition’s Dungeon Delve, Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress, and fifth edition’s Harried in Hillsfar. Shawn is always turning out great content and is one the best adventure writers of our time so follow him to see what he’s doing. This podcast was recorded on September 17, 2015.

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, The Round Table and Bonus Action, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I sit down with Rich Baker, game designer, novelist, and cofounder of Sasquatch Game Studio. Rich helped created the Birthright campaign setting, the seventh edition of Gamma World, the third and fourth editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and the soon-to-be released Princes of the Apocalypse adventure for fifth edition D&D (among many other successful games and novels). We talk his past, present, and future in the gaming industry. This podcast was recorded on March 10, 2015.

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, The Round Table and Bonus Action, tell your friends, 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!

I love giving out magic items. I think it’s because I remember how I felt getting them as a player. The excitement of unlocking the power of something hidden in an ancient temple for hundreds of years is like no other. The story and history of a sword or helm or belt could be awe-inspiring and terrifying. As a player my magic items are like pets to me. As a DM I look forward to designing and handing out these rewards or rolling on a random magic item table and seeing what might come up.

This is about a quarter of the magic items needed for a PC in fourth edition to survive to level 30.

In the third and fourth editions of Dungeons and Dragons magic items became exhausting. Just look at this article from James Wyatt’s wandering monsters column. It discusses the number of items a DM was expected to fork over in order to make the game math work correctly in earlier editions of D&D. In fourth edition it was encouraged by the rulebooks that players give DMs wish lists of the items they wanted because there were so many from which to choose. DMs were happy to hand them over because there were literally several thousand items in the character builder alone. Creating a customized magic item took a lot of time since DMs wanted to make sure all the math worked out. It was a lot of work to just give out items to keep the math correct and making your own balanced items was even tougher. Not to mention at higher levels character already have enough options in combat to make even the most experienced player’s head spin… and magic items just added to the confusion and slowed things down.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE third AND fourth edition. I just think they were flawed when it came to magic items.

An excerpt from the Bounded Accuracy article linked below.

An excerpt from the Bounded Accuracy article linked below.

Well no more in D&D Next! Thanks to the bounded accuracy system, a PC needs no magic items in order for the math to work out properly. Magic items are back to being special again, baby! I can give as many or as few as I please and the magic items will feel unique and special. Not to mention a magic item received at first level is just as relevant at twentieth, so I don’t have to stock magic weapons stores with +3 swords because a PC’s +2 sword isn’t strong enough to make the math work at his or her current level. I don’t even need magic item stores at all! Rather than spend their gold on more magic items they need to survive, my players can get creative and spend their hard-earned graverobbings on building castles, researching new spells, starting guilds, or any other crazy thing they dream.

Magic Items in Exploration Age

Any permanent magic item in Exploration Age requires a gem to hold and focus its magic. So all magic items have at least one gem affixed to them somewhere. More powerful items may have larger and/or more gems required in order to be created. This accomplishes a few things which help make magic items in Exploration Age feel unique and special.

  • Adventurers and others have a good guideline for figuring out if an item is magic before casting the usual detection and identification spells.
  • Gems can be affixed to nonmagical objects in order to deceive and give the appearance of magic where there is none.
  • While adventuring in Exploration Age finding gems is more exciting than in a typical D&D game. Finding a gem usually meant turning around and immediately selling it for gold back in town (large diamonds were sometimes saved for raise dead rituals). These economic interactions can be fun to role-play… the first 20 times. It gets a bit old and the players have to keep track of how many gems they find and how large they are. Eventually most DMs just give gold to cut out the middleman. Well now finding a gem means something more! They can be saved and used to craft magic items.

Magic Item Creation in Exploration Age

In a recent Live D&D Next Q&A with designers Mike Mearls, Rodney Thompson, and Chris Perkins they revealed there will be an optional rules module for magic item creation included in the core rule books for D&D’s next edition.

Now unfortunately for me and my designing the details of this module have not been made public. That won’t stop me though. There are a three things I’m willing to assume about the module.

  1. It will cost money and resources to create these items. One can’t make something from nothing.
  2. It will take significant time to create these items. This is a normally safe assumption reinforced by the fact the that this magic item creation rules module came up while discussing how PCs could spend downtime during an adventure.
  3. Magic item creators must meet certain prerequisites in order to create certain items. Those prerequisites could be related to level, class, race, or even alignment.

Most important for me is the first assumption. Whatever the R&D team at Wizards of the Coast decides is the right amount of gold to spend to create a magic item, I’m going to say that rather than paying the cost all in gold, half the cost must be paid in gems which are then incorporated into the item’s final design.

Don’t mess with this guy. He’s got a lightsaber.

In Defense of Weird

On a personal note, might I add I love strange magic items? I’m talking about the things that make you laugh or furrow your brow in the Dungeon Master’s Guide of any edition. Take, for example, the dust of dryness.

Excerpt from the latest D&D Next playtest packet.

Excerpt from the latest D&D Next playtest packet.

Pretty lame when you compare it to magic armor, right? Wrong! You got to think outside the box, my friend!

Get creative and use that dust to turn a tavern brawl into a naval battle. Or to threaten a group of desert nomads withholding information by holding the dust over their oasis. Or dry up an underground lake to see the oozes lurking below. Heck, throw it onto one of those oozes and see what happens! Could be nothing. Or you could be carrying and ooze around in your pocket like a Pokemon trainer. That’s a story people at the table will remember forever. Moments like that are why we pour hours of free time into these games.

Every item is a chance for unique and creative play. So don’t turn your nose up at the apparatus of Kwalish. You just haven’t thought of how to use it yet.

Sample Magic Items for Exploration Age

Mind-Warp Rod

Legendary wondrous item

This long iron rod is of aberrant make and has many small mouths carved along its surface. When aberrant creatures are within fifty feet of the rod the mouths all laugh manically in unique individual voices.

Long ago aberrant wild mages created these rods to be used by elite skirmishing troops to sew confusion amongst the draconic ranks. These items are abhorred by dragons and many of them have been destroyed. Only a precious few remain in Canus.

Property: As an action this rod may target a creature, area, or the wielder who is subject to a random effect (roll on the table below). Aberrant creatures targeted by the rod may choose the effect which targets them.

Roll 1d20 Target Effect
1 Wielder Creature becomes invisible per the spell.
2 1 creature within 50 feet Creature is polymorphed per the spell into a cow. (DC 14)
3 1 creature within 50 feet Creature collapses prone in gales of laughter for 1 round. All attacks against the creature have advantage and it cannot take actions. (Wisdom saving throw DC 14 negates)
4 A line 100 feet long and 5 feet wide A lightning bolt per the spell shoots from the tip of the rod dealing 6d6 lightning damage. (DC 14)
5 1 creature within 50 feet Sees all creatures in the area as enemies for 3 rounds. (Wisdom saving throw DC 14 negates)
6 A 30-foot square area Becomes covered in grease as per the spell. (DC 14)
7 A 15-foot radius area within 50 feet Becomes a zone of truth per the spell. (DC 14)
8 1 creature within 50 feet A swarm of spiders and scorpions covers the target for one round dealing 4d6 poison damage. (Constitution saving throw DC 14 negates)
9 Wielder Wielder is instantly more attractive and has advantage on all Charisma rolls for 1 minute.
10 1 creature within 50 feet A ray of enfeeblement is shot from the rod with a +6 bonus to attack.
11 A 20-foot radius within 100 feet Silence for ten-minutes per the spell.
12 Wielder Gains the benefit of comprehend languages, read magic, and speak with animals for 10 minutes.
13 Creatures with an adjacent 15-foot cone Color spray per the spell. (DC 14)
14 Creatures with an adjacent 60-foot cone A barrage of tiny needles attacks, per the conjure barrage spell. (DC 14)
15 Wielder Gains the benefit of darkvision for 1 hour.
16 Wielder Immediately knows where all magic items are within 100 feet.
17 Wielder Gains the benefit of the levitate spell for 10 minutes.
18 A 20-foot radius within 100 feet Creatures are subject to the entangle spell. (DC 14)
19 Wielder Becomes the target of the sanctuary spell. (DC 14)
20 A 20-foot radius within 100 feet 6d8 HP of creatures put to sleep per the spell.

Artifact magic weapon (great sword)

This massive great sword is a copy of the one carried by the dwarf empress goddess, Caramey. The adamantine blade is carved with colorful runes along the flat on either side which name the different levels of the Bragonian caste. When wielded in battle it sings a hymn in dwarven about the power of the empress.

It is said Caramey sent a single copy of her weapon to Canus to give to the first dwarven empress to help her lead the rebellion against the shardmind while fighting the dragons. Others believe the sword was actually created by the shardmind themselves and given to a dwarf warrior to aid her in the war against the dragons. Whatever the case this warrior led the charge against both dragons and shardmind. Though she lost the sword in battle, she did become Bragonay’s first empress.

Property: The wielder gains a +1 to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon. Creatures with the draconic type feels a strong revulsion to the weapon. If they maintain contact with the weapon for one round, draconic creatures take 3d6 pyschic damage.

Property [Attuned]: You must be a dwarf to become attuned to the weapon. The weapon’s bonus to attack and damage rolls increases to +4, and it does an extra 3d10 damage against draconic creatures.

While carrying this weapon, the wielder may speak, understand, read, and write draconic.

While this weapon is drawn, it sheds bright light in a 15-foot radius. Allies of the wielder and the wielder within the light gain advantage on Will and Dexterity saving throws. Whenever these allies and the wielder are subject to a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage from an effect, they instead take no damage on a successful save, half damage if they fail.

Trail-Blazer Beetles

Uncommon wondrous item

This fist sized, copper orb constantly appears to have moment just underneath its shiny surface. The cardinal directions are carved into the sphere.

Property: When thrown the orb turns into 500 tiny, copper scarab  beetles who eat vegetation and snow, making forests, jungles, and snow fields making a small path which is longer difficult terrain. These paths are easily followed and cannot be made through solid rock or large trees. The beetles move in a path defined by the person who threw the orb for 10 hours and then revert back to orb status. They eat only plants and snow. They cannot be used again until a long rest has been completed.

While active the beetles can attack plant-based creatures, who are subject to a DC 12 Reflex saving throw or take 2d6 damage.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, 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.