Simple Settlements

(A PDF of this in-the-works module is provided here.)

The idea behind this module is to give 5th Edition Dungeon Masters an easy way to flavor the settlements of their world, as well as provide some light mechanics that they can use to interact with the PCs in interesting ways.

Adding new ways for PCs to interact with the various settlements in your world can really enrich gameplay. These light mechanics will give you and your players that interaction and provide you with a simple system to resolve interactions between settlements. These rules will also be helpful for your PCs if they happen to gain control of a village, town or city.

The following rules are based on the ability score roll system of Dungeons and Dragons and provide settlements with their own Ability Scores, just like PCs and NPCs. It also provides them with what are called Attributes, which function like a simplified version of the skills and special rules of character classes and monsters. Rolling up a settlement using these two things will give your settlement mechanical weight, allowing you to express the different aspects of your settlement using the game rules.

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The Sablewood: Rodential Races (Unplaytested)

When I was young, alongside Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander I read a lot of Brian Jacques. Jacques was a consummate storyteller, whose Redwall series took the anthropomorphic animal themes of Wind in the Willows and Watership Down and set it in a vaguely medieval fictional English forest called Mossflower. Here mice, squirrels, otters, and badgers lived alongside each other in hovels and villages, as well as the titular Redwall Abbey. They fought against the hordes of rats, voles, foxes, and other such predatory creatures. They were stories of heroism, about plucky small heroes barely coming out victorious against thieves, pirates, and murderers. They were also surprisingly progressive for stories of the heroic fantasy genre, featuring a great many female animals who could fight toe to toe with their male counterparts.

I found these stories endlessly fascinating, and even in adulthood I can appreciate the themes of standing up for yourself and trying to be good-hearted in a world that takes advantage of that sort of thing. These days I do find the species = morality a bit overwrought, as in the book series you never met a rat who wasn’t ready to hoist the Jolly Roger and begin to slit throats. Still, I think having them as part of my childhood was an overall good thing, and I think including them in your kid’s library is a great idea.

What this has to do with this entry is that I think it’d be novel to create playable “races” of anthropomorphic rodent species to use in D&D, the idea being that the campaign world would be one similar to Redwall, or Mouse Guard, or Wind in the Willows, etc. Classes are fine if you’re okay with that high fantasy flavor, and monsters are easily reskinned as the dangers encountered by small creatures in a big dangerous world. Races, however, they need to be unique.

I actually have worked on a home setting for such creatures, this one based around a place called the “Sablewood”. I will be using that home setting as a template of sorts for some of the cultural aspects of the races mentioned. That means that you could be able to replicate Redwall or Mouse Guard with these races, but the idea for me is for use in homemade settings using similar themes.

And thus, I present to you my newest 5th Edition D&D module.

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The Sablewood: Rodential Races

Alternative Races for an Anthropomorphic Woodland Animal D&D Campaign

(Now Available as a Playtest PDF HERE.)

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Using 5th Edition D&D to do Sci-Fi: Class Talk

Would it be worth it?

The main reason I enjoy the 5th edition ruleset is it’s simplicity, and the ease at which you can arbitrate the rules at the table. I’ve enjoyed a number of sci-fi rulesets throughout the years, but I can think of none that can match the simplicity of 5e. Could a conversion be worth it? Would the feel of the sci-fi genre be lost in that translation?

GURPS and Traveller are my two favorite systems that can be used for sci-fi, but both of these systems are complex and definitely not pick-up-and-play friendly. In some ways that is the charm of these systems. Traveller character creation is, to me, a game in itself. However, could the ease of play of 5e be used to make a simple and fun sci-fi system?

In this series of posts, I will first lay out my ideas for the conversion, and then start spitballing ideas and hoping they stick.

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Using 5th Edition D&D to do Sci-Fi: Class Talk

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide

So, as you can probably tell, I failed NaNoWriMo spectacularly, and along with it my plans for a development diary for my Ghartha project. I’m disappointed, but it is an unfortunate reality that we generally need to put our jobs before our hobbies, and holiday season is definitely the busiest time of year for mine.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the Dungeon Master’s Guide is finally here! This tome of all three of the holy triad is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. I am a tinkerer, enjoying twisting the rules this way and that, and always get more pleasure from running a campaign than I do from playing. With the rumors of a “tinkerer’s manual” on the winds of, well, the internet, my expectations for this book (especially after the first two) were very high.

Well, how did it do?

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide

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NaNoWriMo Diary: The Lady of Stone (Part 1)

Hello! I’m still trucking a long with my Nano project, an RPG sourcebook for my Ghartha campaign mentioned in the last post. Today I have for you a rough, unedited sampling of a piece of fluff text that will be in the Player’s portion of the book. It tells the tale of a barbarian woman who exiles herself to hunt the enemies of her tribe before she dies. It is called The Lady of Stone, and will be told in multiple parts throughout the text. The beginning is thus:

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Monster Manual

My review of the Player’s Handbook, here, was fairly positive. Okay, perhaps overwhelmingly so. Beyond a few fairly glaring indexing issues in the magic section, I found the book to be delightful and highly useable. Having now received the second in the holy trinity of rulebooks, can the same be said for the Monster Manual?

The book is, of course, quite different than the Player’s Handbook, and this review will reflect that. As more of a reference tool, or as a collection of pieces for the DM to use, there’s simply less to review. But, I am sure I can find quite a bit to say.

 

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Monster Manual

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Player’s Handbook

I’ve had the PHB since the 19th, but I didn’t want to churn out a review as soon as a I got my grubby paws on it. I kind of wanted to play around with it, let it simmer a bit. Flip through it at my leisure, what have you.

What actually happened is that I’ve managed to read it front to back three times now. Let’s just say I’m a bit obsessed with RPGs anyway, so a new edition of my favorite game is hard to resist consuming (multiple times).

Anyway, here are some of my principal impressions. I’m going to try to keep it simple, though this post will end up long. The main question I’ll be leading with is: Is this a book that compels me to play the new edition, and lends itself to table use?

My review will be separated into First Impressions, which will mainly concern the book, art, and layout, and then Digging Into It, in which I will speak about the crunch and fluff and the use of the book in play. Then of course I will wrap up with some closing thoughts.

 

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Player’s Handbook

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East, to the Holy Mountain

Fair warning: this post is very rambling, going in every which direction. This is because I’m coming up with ideas while talking about my inspirations as I write. Hopefully it’s not too weird.

I like to consider myself a writer, however amateurish I might be. I write a lot of stuff that never sees the light of day, I participate yearly in “NaNoWriMo“, and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the basics of cultivating creativity. What I need to work is the back-end stuff. The finishing, the editing, the taking that creativity and turning it into something worthwhile.

One of the biggest fonts for creativity for me is music. We are all affected by music emotionally, and that definitely feeds into my creativity. When I am writing, I am almost always doing so with music playing. Usually this music is Metal, Rock, or some variation of Folk music, which I think provides such a wide range of ideas and emotions.

Another source of inspiration that I draw from frequently is mythology, folklore, and spirituality. I’m sure this has been pretty evident from anyone that has read this blog for a while.

Anyway, the reason why I’m talking about this is because recently I’ve been fomenting different things in my brain pan in order to come up with an adventure I’d like to write that would be a little bit different from other things I’ve done. At its core would be the Holy Mountain, a symbolic stand in for the sacred places, paths, and goals of mysticism, esoteric philosophies, and religions all over the world. Much of the inspiration and the blueprint will be based on pilgrimages and sacred journeys. I want to couple this with the symbolic ideas behind a lot of metal and other music that I enjoy. I’d like to write an adventure that draws its ideas out of both mysticism and that emotional rush and adrenaline that I get from heavier music.

This post will essentially be me talking about this adventure I’d like to write. Feel free to take the ideas and run with them. Hopefully I will have the actual adventure written sometime this year. I’m actually going to be using NaNoWriMo as a “rebel” this november, spending the 50,000 word count exclusively on my blog. I’m hoping a good chunk of that will be on this adventure.

 

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East to the Holy Mountain

An Adventure Idea

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The Hill Dwarves of Trobal’Brae and the Fenglennarry Highlands, Part III

Here it is! The third and final part of this setting module about Hill Dwarves. I hope I’ve given you something to work with, maybe helping you make Hill Dwarves a little more than the boring cousins of Mountain Dwarves.

This section will detail the Northern Taiga, that wild land north of the Fenglennary Highlands. The focus of this post will be adventure ideas and lore. Please enjoy!

 

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(Snowy Forest – Andreas Achenbach)

The Northern Taiga

North of the Fenglennary Highlands

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