Review: Easy Roller Dice

A good Wednesday to you RPC faithful! You like reviews don’t you? Of course you do. So here’s one about dice.

Mike over at Easy Roller Dice sent me an email asking if I could review some of their products and being very much like a hoarding dragon when it comes to dice, I gave a fervent yes. I hadn’t used their dice before this (I probably own ten or more sets of dice, and I’m betting they’re all Chessex) so I was pretty interested in seeing how they’d turn out.

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As Above, So Below: The Cultist Background

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You are led down a spiralling stone staircase, far beneath the unassuming house near the outside of the village. Your eyes are covered, and you have to grasp the shoulder of the masked Gatekeeper as he leads you forward towards your fate. You are cold and tired, but in your heart anxiety wrestles with excitement.

There is the sound of a door opening and a rush of warm air, and you step forward. It shuts behind you with a soft click. Around you is the thick perfume of incense, and you feel hot flame on your face as the blindfold is taken from your eyes. Finally you behold the inner sanctum, the secret circle of power for higher initiates.

Finally you are being given the secret that binds your soul to the order.

Forever.

Hidden from the eyes of official authority, below the lazy vigil of noble and king and the blind eyes of the temples, lay the secret path to true power. One need only seek it out, to walk the hidden path of illumination. Continue reading

Stuff I Like: World Architect Cards and Dungeon Crate

Hello RPC faithful! Just wanted to pop in and let you know I’m still alive and kicking. I’ve been working on a few different things that aren’t quite ready for the blogosphere. I don’t update much, but I usually have something substantive when I do.

I just wanted to make a quick post to give some love to a couple of RPG related projects that have gained my admiration.

The first is a KickStarter which, as of this writing, has 7 days to go on it called World Architect Cards by Simian Circle Games. Now, this independant developer is actually local to me (I live in Lexington, KY and they are based out of Morehead) so I was surprised to learn of their existence. This isn’t their first rodeo either. They’ve got a few products to their name, including a neat looking RPG, as well as a successful kickstarter for Dungeon Architect cards, which are the precursor to these World Architect Cards.

The cards are a fun way to create a roleplaying world. As you can probably tell from the KS, each card is a location with a number of attributes on them to randomize a location. The art is also whimsical and nice to look at. Such items that create a sense of discovery gameplay (to borrow from a video game phenomenon) I’ve found are a great way to electrify tabletop role play. (Another reason why I love random tables in general).

I pledged at the 60 dollar level so as to get the Dungeon Architect cards as well, and I’m looking forward to playing around with them. With only 7 days left, now is the time to jump in.

Another product I’m excited about is Dungeon Crate! A subscription based service, a la Birchbox, based around tabletop RPGs and miniature games. I received the inaugural crate in February, and greatly enjoyed the contents, which I will show you pictures of below.

At 35 dollars a month, it is a bit steep. However, what came in the box felt worth it, and I’ve already gotten use out of a good portion of the bits. Of note were the Flat Plastic Miniatures by Arcknight. The art on those reminds me a Record of Lodoss War, an ancient anime you youngsters should look into, and they were a hit with the players of my current campaign.

The second crate is shipping out today, so the next crate you can sign up for would be the third one. I’ll post pictures of the second one when I get it. Hopefully it continues to be worth the price.

Well, until next time, happy gaming!

2015 in review

Only six posts last year. However, they tend to be large and crunchy. I suppose my goal next year should be a post a month!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ranger Archetypes: Manhunter and One of the Ancient Order

In 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, the subclass structure of classes is where you’ll find a lot of the variety that helps make a class your own. As it stands, between released products, there are around 2 to 4 subclasses per class, not including the 8 or so domains and traditions given to Clerics and Wizards. It is clear that these subclasses will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to defining these classes in the context of campaign worlds, as well as fulfilling certain character builds from past editions.

The Warlock patron and pact item of my last post inspired me to look at the subclasses we have so far and try to come up with some solid ones for classes that are lacking. The Ranger is one class that is sorely lacking in a good variety of archetypes, so I decided to ruminate and try to come up with a couple that I found interesting. Hopefully you will too!

The following subclasses are works in progress, thoroughly not playtested and more than likely overpowered. The reason for this is that I prefer to scale back then forward. I will be updating this post as I have been the Shamanic Warlock one as I get feedback and am able to test them. (A special shout out to those on Reddit who helped me with your generous feedback!)

The Manhunter is a ranger archetype that focuses around grappling and incapacitating creatures. The One of the Ancient Order is a more mystical style ranger, getting a couple of rituals and a druid cantrip that they can use once per rest. Hopefully I can work these into good subclasses for a class that is sadly lacking those at the moment.

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The Spirit Patron and the Pact of the Totem

Thrusk upended the horse leather pouch and several small humanoid figurines tumbled out onto the rough dirt floor of his tent. The orc studied them where they lay, noting the ones laying on their backs, on their sides, and the few who landed standing up.

Watching closely were Hruk the warchief and his five advisors. They were silent, letting the shaman study the idols with anticipation. Thrusk closed his eyes for two breaths, then scooped the figures up and put them back into the pouch.

“Well?” asked Hruk, his knuckles turning white as he gripped the arms of his wooden chair.

“The omens… are not in our favor,” said the shaman. The advisors looked to each other worriedly, murmuring. Thrusk continued. “However, with a proper sacrifice, the spirits may aid us.”

The following is very much a work in progress. While some eye has been kept on balance, it is entirely non playtested. This is my attempt at bringing in a Shamanic archetype into 5e using the Warlock. I wanted it to feel very different from a Druid or otherwise Nature based class with divine magic. Instead I wanted to give it a primal feel, giving hints to a primeval spirit otherworld.

I would really appreciate your feedback. Currently I am hoping to replace some the additional spells (drawn from the Cleric and Druid spell list) with new Warlock spells meant specifically for the Spirit patron. Please tell me what you think!

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Downtime Expanded

In this module, I decided to try and come up with some rules that will allow PCs to both make money, and spend it. It showcases four tweaks I’ve made to the Downtime system of D&D, a system I am quite infatuated with.

Like much of what I make, this hasn’t been playtested much! I wish I could spend a lot of my time playing and testing RPGs, but a full time job makes this impossible. So I’ll pass my unpolished stones onto you in the hopes that you find something worth keeping.

The PDF version of this module is here.

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Downtime Expanded

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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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