Dec 19, 2014

Dungeons & Dragons 5E: Race -- Half-Ogre

One of the fun things to play in 1E D&D was a half-ogre. Basically, the archetypical half-ogre was big and dumb, and you're only job was to hit things. Locked door? Bash it open. Hobgoblins threatening the party? Hit them until the fall down. Subtlety was lost with this character; but that was the point -- if you DMed a game, and someone wanted to play a half-ogre, you knew they didn't want to talk to the townsfolk or rub elbows with the nobles; they were only here to kill things and take their stuff.

Dec 2, 2014

Eberron 5E: Magic Items, Part 1

A lot of people on various game message boards seem to think that D&D 5E's de-emphasis on magic items means problems for Eberron. From what I can see, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Dec 1, 2014

Dungeons & Dragons 5E: Race -- Pixies

One of my favorite supplements from D&D 4E was Heroes of the Feywild, which really opened my eyes to how to run adventures in the Realm of Faerie. And one of the fan-favorite parts of the book was the new race section. I ended up having a number of Pixie player characters at my table over the years. I was impressed with the work done on them -- despite the potential for abuse or the possibility it would end up terrible, they actually made pixies playable and interesting, with unique-but-not-overpowered abilities. They got my seal of approval.

With the advent of 5E, I was pleased to see the Pixie and Sprite in the Monster Manual. They have apparently decided the two races are related but slightly dissimilar -- Pixies are essentially nonviolent versions of Sprites, with a few magical abilities changed out. While the new edition has an emphasis on simplicity and the Pixie definitely isn't a simple race, I think they can still work as a PC race option. Below the cut, I present my take on the race, trying to adhere as closely as possible to the spirit of the 4E race while incorporating the elements from the 5E Monster Manual version.

Sep 24, 2014

Eberron 5E: Feats - Dragonmarks

Magic is the lifeblood of Eberron, encircling it like the Ring of Siberys and seeping up through the earth from the bones of Khyber. Perhaps the clearest manifestation of this pervasive magic is the appearance of dragon­marks among seven of Khorvaire’s common races. Dragon­marks are elaborate skin patterns—more intricate and colorful than birthmarks, more distinctive than any tattoo—that also grant their bearers innate magical abilities. There are twelve families of dragonmarks, each one associated with a number of closely related manifestations. A thirteenth mark, the Mark of Death, has faded from history, and no living creature on Eberron carries it.

     When it is used, a character’s dragonmark grows warm to the touch. It becomes fever hot when its spell-like abilities are used up for the day, and must be allowed to cool before its power can be drawn upon again.

Eberron 5E: Background -- Dragonmarked Scion

You were born to one of the thirteen dragonmarked houses that wield enormous power throughout Khorvaire. Perhaps you have manifested one of the magical dragonmarks that showed your descent from a house member, or were born to someone who was granted member-ship or married into a house; regardless, you have lived a life of privilege and responsibility.
     The dragonmarked houses are deeply entrenched in the economic and social ecology of Khorvaire. All guild monopolies are controlled by the houses, which fix prices and maintain quality standards. Although the houses are forbidden from holding lands or political office by the Korth Edicts, many dragonmarked heirs have great influence in politics due to their affiliations and personal power.

Eberron 5E: Race -- Kalashtar

I'm not completely happy with this one. Part of it is, I want to know how the new system will handle psionics, which has always been a bad fit for many fantasy games. The other is, well, the kalashtar's actual psyche and essence has always been kind of vague and undefined, which kind of fits their origin in the Realm of Dreams, I guess.

Eberron 5E: Race -- Warforged [UPDATE 12/1/2014]

EDIT: So, Warforged were supposed to be in the Dungeon Master's Guide, but were cut for space. I had posted a preliminary version, based on an update of the playtest version. However, I've since seen a version done by Keith Baker for a one-off character for a 5E game he played in, with input from designer Rodney Thompson. While Mr. Baker states quite clearly that he hasn't done any testing, and that this isn't in any way official, I like it quite a bit, so this is what I'm using for my game. I cleaned up Mr. Baker's paragraphs into the standard format.

Eberron 5E: Race -- Shifter

With shifters, the problem is the new edition's focus on simplicity. Shifting changed your characteristics, and if you wanted your shifting to become really good, you had to take a tree of shifter feats. There were builds focusing entirely on maximizing your shifter advantages. The new edition doesn't really do temporary ability score changes in the same way -- the barbarian's rage, for example, gives a boost to damage and hit points, but doesn't require recalculating your character's abilities. Similarly, the gauntlets of ogre power/amulet of health/headband of intellect change the impacted ability score to a flat 19 -- a +5 bonus that's easy to plug in, and lasts indefinitely as long as you leave the item on. So I decided that 5E shifters should get their +1 stat bump from their trait, and tried to make the traits (which I had to rename "legacies" because "trait" in 5E is a very specific thing) almost as powerful as a feat, so that I could make an "Extra Shifter Legacy" feat.

Eberron 5E: Race -- Changelings

The main deal with changelings is their Shapechanger power. In 3E, they could assume Medium forms only. Why do halflings and gnomes get a break from one of the setting's core elements, namely rampant, justifiable Paranoia? In Eberron, you should never be quite sure that you know who you're talking to, no matter if they're a human, bugbear, or gnome. Also, in 3E you could assume Small forms as well with a feat, and the new edition has a completely different feat economy. Anyway, I used the wording from the Doppelganger in the DM Basic Rules document v.0.1.

Sep 19, 2014

Eberron in D&D Fifth Edition




Dragonmarked Scion



Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

So, the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons has started dropping (Player's Handbook last month, and I got my Monster Manual last night). I've been running this on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM at Maplewood Hobby for the last two years (three years in February) during the playtest, and as time has gone by I've been more and more impressed with it. It's very similar in feel (to me, anyway) to the original Basic Set D&D (and I'm talking about the purple box with the Erol Otus cover, so B/X for any OSR people) which was the most "fun" version. But the mechanics are very streamlined and simplified -- gone are different-methods-for-different-tasks, instead we're using the d20+bonus>target number method, which makes things easy.

Jun 22, 2014

The Order of the d30 Redux

I posted a long time ago about the Order of the d30. Well, there's been more traction on that front of late, with a Google+ group. Also, Rich Leblanc has posted a link to a Mediafire folder with the sigil in a variety of formats. I may have to make a t-shirt!

Apr 30, 2014

One Page Dungeon Contest 2014 - The Oracle Caves

As I've done the previous three years, this year I produced an entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest. This year's entry came in just under the wire; I had four different ideas that I worked on at one point or another, then I went ahead and completed one I started in 2011 and never finished. Inspiration is a fickle mistress.

Mar 31, 2014

David A. Trampier, 1954 - 2014

The news came out last week that one of the cornerstone artists who defined the tone of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, David A. Trampier, passed away on March 24, 2014, at the Helia Healthcare facility in Carbondale, IL. He would have turned 50 on April 22.

Jan 26, 2014

Dungeon World

So, I've run a short Apocalypse World campaign (set in the ruins of the Hoover Dam) and have an occasional Monster of the Week game, and I thought I'd check out Dungeon World. This is the same game design, but with the trappings of Dungeons & Dragons. As a long-time D&D DM (I run the D&D Encounters program at Maplewood Hobby) I've had a great deal of experience running all different flavors of the game.