A Selection of Subraces

I have for you today three subraces for Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. They’re based on my want of something a little less Faerunian for players when choosing these races. The Dark Elf especially is my attempt to come up with an elven subrace more connected with the unseelie side of the fairy/elf mythos than the now ubiquitous drow.

The Brownie Halfling is a classic take on the halfling based on fairy myth. I enjoy the image of a furry halfling, similar in my mind to the Orlan from Pillars of Eternity. Brownie tales were some of my favorite ones from my childhood.

The Dark Elf is a bit of a gothy-take on bad elves. I like the idea of not-good elves that have a code of honor and are very orderly. Living in stone fortresses among the cold highlands, wearing heavy cloaks and thick sable boots and looking around haughtily.

The Deep Dwarf is just an update of a subrace that often gets overlooked in favor of the Duergar. Not all deep delving dwarves are evil illithid-slaves that can inflate like Mario.

Update: And now a River Gnome for your perusal!

Anyway, enough gabbing. Here you go! (Expect a PDF version later today for those that like that sort of thing.)

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A Selection of Subraces

(PDF HERE)

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Al-Qadim Equipment for 5th Edition

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(PDF Here)

I’ve been running Al-Qadim (well I have ran one session anyway) converting on the fly to 5th edition. I soon realized that I wanted to get a weapons, armor, and gear list set up for use with it, as a lot of the weapons and armor you see in Al-Qadim are different and there is quite a bit of variety in their goods and services.

So, I’ve spent two manic days putting this monstrous PDF together. I’ve come up with the items and prices based on scouring through the Al-Qadim books, the 2e Player’s Handbook, comparing it to the 5e Player’s Handbook, and a good bit of my own fiat. I’ve added even more items to the lists from the 2e Al-Qadim books that I felt were missing (no coffee beans listed for trade goods? come on!). I also made a table of clothing sets to give examples of how the clothing listed before that might be used by different people in the Land of Fate.

Anyway, here it is in one giant WIP PDF. Enjoy!

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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The Overly Complicated Weapons and Armor Module

Edit: This blog post will be updated multiple times to reflect changes due to feedback, so check back to see if things have changed!

Change Log: (changes based on feedback include the person that inspired the change) 

  • AP values on weapons messed with. (mikemonaco)
  • Flail ability added for nullifying shields. (mikemonaco)
  • Initiative is no longer rolled each round; rather, the modifiers change your initial initiative roll and thus can move you in the order, making it a little less fiddly. (daganev from the WotC forums)
  • Clarified some weapon attributes. (me)
  • Created a list of all of the playtest weapons to make changes more easily to all of them. Messed around with AP and Initiative modifiers. (me)
  • Changed how AC works completely. Now AC is a score made up of your Dex modifier, any Shield bonuses, and a base AC of 10. Armor provides DR only. AC can now be seen as purely defense/parrying/dodging. (mikemonaco/me/bawlie)
  • Completely removed initiative modifiers/weapon speeds. Way too fiddly in practice. Couldn’t find a way to make it work and fit seamlessly into the rules. The rest of the module should be complicated enough. (me)
  • Added Weapon Attributes Clumsy and Parrying, which effect AC negatively/positively. (me)
  • Shields changed; removed AR, they instead give an AC bonus based on your prof. Proficiency taken out of the AC equation. (bawlie)
  • Added a section for weapon and combat tactics to help spice up combat. Only one tactic added so far (pushing). Can you help me with some more? (me)

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a fan of Dungeons and Dragons. If you’re reading a blog about RPGs, then you are already probably aware of the various book announcements as well as the announcement of a free ‘Basic’ D&D PDF from Wizards of the Coast. The front page of Enworld is a good place to catch up. I could wax poetic about how good of a move this is, but I think the near universal approval is resounding enough.

Instead, today I wanted to work on a rules module for use with D&D Next, or Fifth Edition as it stands now. This is definitely the first ‘draft’, trying to catch a rough idea right now to polish off later when the game has been released.

This module focuses on weapons and armor, and seeks to, in plain terms, make them more complicated. Generally the direction of the game has been to make it  simpler, and this is a noble goal. I thought, however, that since Combat was really rather quick with this edition, it might not hurt to throw a few complications into it. The idea is to make weapons and armor have more mechanical crunch so that they feel like they have more weight in the narrative, if that makes sense. I think these could be made more three dimensional, making some weapons better in certain circumstances, as well as providing a useful reason for choosing a certain armor type over another.

Now, since this IS a rough draft you will not find balance here. I guarantee it. It’s something that needs playtested. If, in fact, you are currently running the playtest (or will be), please feel free to playtest this module as well. I would love some feedback to make the end module that much better. Of course, a lot will factor into how different weapons and armor look in the final product as opposed to the playtest documents I am using currently. I suspect there won’t be much change, however.

 

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The Overly Complicated Weapons and Armor Module

The Very Rough Playtest Draft Version

 

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Airships I

So, there has been a bit of a break in posts. I think I wore myself a little thin. The posts were quite meaty and frequent, and it was a hard pace to keep up with. I think I am going to change to updating twice a week now. Probably Tuesday and Friday. Sound good? I think so to.

Airships have always fascinated me, from a fantasy perspective. It’s probably me growing up on Final Fantasy titles. To me airships have a very firm place in the realm of the fantastical, and I think they can add a very unique flavor to a role playing game. So, here I present to you a tentative early-phase rules modules about adding Airships to your game of Dungeons and Dragons Next. This, of course, goes hand in hand with the first Party Background listed on my last post. This will be a multi-part post. The first part will detail the rules. The following posts will detail the ships themselves, ship weapons, and other optional add ons. Enjoy!

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Rules Modules: Airships Part 1

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