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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Holiday Game Cards for your Players

Have you thought about giving your players a small gift to celebrate the yule holiday? This post will give you an idea that I utilized that I think you might like. What you’ll need is a printer, some print-capable card stock, and Avery (or similar) business card paper for your printer. Also some sort of PDF reader!

The central part of this gift idea are a small set of cards you can print out and give to your players. These cards can be turned in to you, the DM, in exchange for a small effect. There are also trinket cards that are small magical items with no hard mechanics but which might be utilized in creative ways. (The PDFs of these cards are near the bottom of this post.)

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An example card.

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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

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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Reviewing Yellow Dawn: The Age of Hastur

Full disclosure: Back around the beginning of March, I was researching medieval mysticism, woodcuts, and tomes for my Ghartha series when I came across a blog post by David J. Rodger, discussing the Polanski film The Ninth Gate. It was a well written post (and made me go look up the movie and watch it on Netflix) and I liked what David was talking about, so I left a comment and followed the blog.

Soon after, he got a hold of me and asked if I’d write up a piece about his game Yellow Dawn (34.53USD), and I agreed, so he sent me a copy. This was in mid-March, and when I received the book I was surprised by two things: One, how highly detailed and complete the game system and setting were; two: this is the work of one dude. The credits mention playtesters, but the entirety of the system and writing is the work of David Rodger himself.

And that is insane. This book is highly detailed, featuring everything you need system wise, setting wise, with a healthy number of appendices and tables. The editing seems great. I just can’t wrap my head around the amount of work this game must have had put into it. Most definitely it’s a labor of love.

I was a little nervous when the game was on it’s way that it wouldn’t be good, to be honest. I’m a supporter of Indie game development (as it is something I want to get into), but I understand that for every gem there are five pieces of coal, so to speak. Luckily, I soon realized this was one of the gems. Not simply because it’s a good system, but because of the amount of value that you can get out of it even for other games.

As a quick note, I abhor numerical or graded reviews. Opinions are far too subjective for those to be worth a damn, so I’ll present to you what I think and hopefully that helps you make an informed decision about purchasing this game.

Shall we get into it?

Yellow Dawn Cover

Yellow Dawn Cover Art

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Rebuilding the Realms of Twilight

Howdy folks! Sorry about the lack of posts here lately, the job has had me stretched pretty thin when it comes to time, so my next (and final) Ghartha post will be just a little bit. I also have a review of the Role Playing game Yellow Dawn by author David J Roger which will be coming before that (a very nicely detailed setting and system), so keep an eye out!

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public domain image

I did want to give notice about a KickStarter I’m pretty excited about. The Realms of Twilight is a campaign world for Pathfinder created by Silver Crescent Publishing that offers a unique and dark twist on the usual epic fantasy fare. As I’m sure you’re aware, I like my fantasy pretty dark. The original product was a quality third party campaign setting, so having a new version coming out that really digs into the history of Relistan and offers a whole host of new goodies is pretty exciting. This is the sort of product I usually put in for, and is the sort of product that I hope to be one day making.

There are 13 days to go as of this writing, and it definitely needs some love. If the original product is any indication, then this is almost certainly worth your time.

Oh, did I mention that Ed Greenwood would be making an appearance as a guest author?

Anyway, just wanted to try and spread the word about this because this sort of third party RPG support is really my favorite thing about the hobby as a whole. I hope you back it, or at least go check it out.

Until next time, au revoir!

Ghartha, The Tomb-World III

In this part of the Ghartha series, I wanted to explore Ghartha through the classic class system of Dungeons and Dragons. Essentially, I wanted to list each class and describe how something like that might fit into the world. Sometimes the fit is seamless, and other times some edges needed smoothing. I also wanted to talk a bit more about magic before talking about how the classes of D&D fit into Ghartha. If you want to use this world without a D&D system, by all means do so! This post might, however, give you a good idea about some of the peoples and characters you might find in the tomb-world.

My next post later in the week I think I’m going to talk a bit more about how people survive in the eternal darkness of Ghartha. tl:dr: glow sticks!

350px-Tovenaarsleerling_S_Barth(Illustration from around 1882 by S. Barth)

Ghartha, the Tomb-World III

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Ghartha, The Tomb-World II

I’ve been brain storming about this setting, and I think I’m going to extend it into three or four parts. In this part, I was trying to come up with ways to incorporate the typical Dungeons and Dragons races into the setting. I could leave them out and make it very system neutral, but I had some neat ideas (in my own humble opinion),  so I decided to make them their own separate post. If you want to use a system and make this setting human only beyond the nasties in the world, then simply leave this part out.

Let’s just jump right into it, shall we?

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Ghartha, The Tomb-World II

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Ghartha, The Tomb-World I

The idea of subterranean civilization is a powerful one to me. The impossibility coupled with the mystery of what lies beneath the earth has always attracted me to this rather niche trope in both fantasy and outlandish conspiracy theory. Writers like HP Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard used it effectively, and even artists and musicians like Miles Davis referenced the ‘Hollow Earth’ in their works as a spiritual symbol.

This world setting is one that exists completely underground, in large chambers or claustrophobic tunnels. It draws inspiration from the previously mentioned authors and their peers, as well as medieval mysticism and general themes of occultism. It’s a dangerous place, with societies huddled around glowing noxious vents for life support. Rampant religiosity is the engine of civilization, with many of the city-states ruled by classes of priests who leverage their positions with hidden knowledge and wisdom. Sacrificial rites are not uncommon, and are for the most part seen as necessary to appease those that dwell beyond the light of the vents, in the untouched darkness of the deep world.

This first part will overview the setting and focus on a city-state in particular, as well as mention some of the dangers of the world. The second part later this week will talk more about the application of this setting for your role playing game. Enjoy!

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Ghartha, The Tomb-World

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