Hey I just wanted to let you know I’m contributing to Mike Myler’s Book of Exalted Darkness which you can back on Kickstarter right now!

At the beginning of the year I unveiled my plan to make Enora my first fully published world.

With that world comes new monsters, races, subclasses, and more. I’m now adding a paladin oath to the undead world – restoration.

Note that what is below is considered playtest material. Please let me know what you think!

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Oath of Restoration

The Oath of Restoration binds paladins to the task of rebuilding what once was. Sometimes called rebuilders or restorers, these paladins nurture civilizations, clear monsters from ruins, heal scarred lands, help refugees reclaim their homes, and mend the wounds of the injured. Unlike paladins who swear an Oath of Vengeance, restoration paladins focus on the work of bringing back what is lost rather than making the guilty pay.

Tenets of Restoration

The wording of the tenets of restoration vary from paladin to paladin, but all share the same ideals about rebuilding, nurturing, and protecting others.

Stop Wanton Destruction. Those who destroy for the sake of themselves must be stopped at all costs.

Reclaim Homes. It is never too late to help another reclaim a lost homeland.

Anything Can Be Rebuilt. With enough time, will, and determination, any place, relationship, or life can be reforged.

Civilization for All. Any creature that desires shelter, education, good health, and the trappings of society should have access to such and be accepted.

Rebuild Hope. Optimism is key in inspiring yourself and others to uphold reclaim what once was.

Oath of Restoration Spells
Paladin Level Spells
3rd sanctuary, shield
5th lesser restoration, spike growth
9th beacon of hope, plant growth
13th aura of life, fabricate
17th greater restoration, mass cure wounds
Channel Divinity

When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options.

Greater Mending. As an action you touch a broken object, such as a cracked wagon wheel, two halves of a shield, a torn tapestry, or a leaking dam wall. As long as the break or tear is no larger than 3 feet in any dimension, you mend it, leaving no trace of the former damage. If the item you repair is a magic item, you restore magic to such an object. If the item you repair is a construct, you can repair it, but you cannot restore its magic.

Restore the Fallen. As an action choose one living creature reduced to 0 hit points that you can see within 30 feet of you. That creature regains one-third its hit points (rounded down).

Improved Lay on Hands

Starting at 7th level, with your Lay on Hands healing pool, you can restore a number of hit points equal to your paladin level x 10, and you can use this pool to restore hit points to objects.

At 18th level, you can expend 100 hit points from your healing pool to return a creature to life that has died within the last minute. That creature returns to life with 1 hit point. This feature can’t return to life a creature that has died of old age, nor can it restore any missing body parts.

Mutual Destruction

Starting at 15th level, you can rebuke your attackers with holy light. When a creature within 5 feet of you that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to cause that creature to make a Dexterity saving throw. This saving throw DC equals your paladin spell save DC. On a failed save, that creature takes 2d6 radiant damage.

Aura of Durability

At 20th level, as an action, you can emanate an aura of strength and determination. For 1 minute, you and your allies within 30 feet of you have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons and have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of the podcast Rudy Basso and I make, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

Arc 7 – the final one for this season – is here!  The Battle of Davenport has begun, and the sides have been drawn!  What will Party 13’s part in this epic siege be?  Will Aurox successfully sack the city?  Find out!

Tweet your own Levels Question of the Week at us or #levelsq on Twitter!

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

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If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of Table Top Babble is now available!

James Introcaso sits down with Ruth Tillman, Mike Myler, and Jonathan Green to discuss hacking RPGs to fit your every need.

The Tome Show

Edge of the Frontier

Cthulhu Confidential

mikemyler.com

Hypercorps 2099

2099 Wasteland

Mists of Akuma

Book of Exalted Darkness

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If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

At the beginning of the year I unveiled my plan to make Enora my first fully published world.

With that world comes new monsters, races, subclasses, and more. I’m now adding a sorcerous origin to the undead world – lichtouched.

Note that what is below is considered playtest material. Please let me know what you think!

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Lichtouched

Your innate magic comes from some place of dark energy. Your parents may have been cursed by a powerful undead spellcaster. You could have visited a plane of negative energy. Perhaps you were even once an undead creature yourself. The reason you attuned to necromantic magic may never be clear, but what is obvious is that you can wield this power as easily as any lich.

Withering Grasp

When you choose this origin at 1st level, you gain the chill touch cantrip if you don’t already know it. In addition, when you cast and deal damage with chill touch, add your Charisma modifier to the damage roll of the spell.

Flesh of the Dead

Starting at 1st level, your flesh takes on a dull gray or stark white appearance. You are resistant to necrotic damage and have advantage on saving throws against effects that reduce your hit point maximum.

Consume Soul

Starting at 6th level, when a creature you can see dies, you can use your reaction to consume its soul. You regain 2 sorcery points and the creature’s soul is destroyed as a result. You can use this feature twice. You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Blood of the Dead

Starting at 14th level, you are immune to disease and poison. In addition, whenever deal necrotic damage to a creature with a spell you cast, that creature cannot regain hit points until the start of your next turn.

Undead Being

Beginning at 18th level, you can channel necrotic energy to become ghostly. As an action, you spend 5 sorcery points to draw on this power. For 1 minute or until you lose concentration (as if you were concentrating on a spell), you gain a fly speed equal to your walking speed and you can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. You take 1d10 force damage if you end your turn inside an object. While in this form, you are resistant to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons as well as acid, fire, lightning, and thunder damage.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of the podcast Rudy Basso and I make, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

Rudy and James discuss the thought process that went into writing Story Arc 6, along with what the future holds for HSWT!

Tweet your own Levels Question of the Week at us or #levelsq on Twitter!

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

VISIT AND CONTRIBUTE TO OUR WIKI!

Please subscribe to the podcast at one of the following places:

iTunes   |   Stitcher   |   Google Play   |   Pocket Casts    |   RSS Feed

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of Table Top Babble is now available!

James Introcaso sits down with Karl Resch and Quinn Wilson of Swallows of the South to discuss incorporating player input in your games.

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If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I’m going to write a post that is self-indulgent. I guess that’s true about every post on this blog in one way or another, but this blog post is going to be a story in which I am the central character, which is a little unusual for this site. Usually it’s some crazy monster, magic item, piece of advice, or game mechanic that takes center stage. If you hadn’t guessed from the title, this post will tell you how I became a somewhat, kinda, sorta, maybe, known creator in the world of tabletop roleplaying games.

I’m writing this post because several people have asked me how I “made it” in the industry. To be honest, I’m not sure I have “made it” at least by the modern definition. I’ve got a full-time gig outside the industry as a TV commercial writer/producer (which I really love). That being said, I do get paid to work on some pretty great projects in the industry and I am doing more in this space than I dared to dream, so in some ways I guess I have “made it” in this industry. At least made it further than I expected.

Still I thought sharing my story might be helpful for anyone out there interested in a freelance RPG design career, but I will say that my path is unique and involves a lot of luck, so I’m not sure it can be replicated. I was inspired to share thanks in part to the requests I got, but also by a recent episode of the Down with D&D podcast in which designers and podcasters Shawn Merwin and Chris Sniezak shared their own stories. Definitely check out the episode because they have great stories and a lot of amazing advice.

The Tome Show

In Fall of 2013 I was listening to a lot of podcasts and playing tons of D&D with my friends on Roll20. The D&D Next playtest was in full swing and I devoured every piece of D&D news I could find. One of my favorite programs was the News Desk on The Tome Show, but it only came out once a month. I searched for other D&D news podcasts, but most were actual plays, none with D&D news. I remember telling my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Bonnie, that I wanted to listen to a weekly show that covered the latest D&D news in-depth. I told her there was no show out there like it (that I knew of) and Bonnie said, “Why don’t you make it?”

What did I have to lose by giving it a shot? I already knew how to edit audio… but I didn’t know how to book guests, build an audience, or even submit a podcast feed to iTunes. At the time I was listening to backlogs of the now-defunct D&D advice podcast Critical Hits hosted by Mike Shea of Sly Flourish. At the end of each podcast he gave our his contact information, including email, and encouraged folks with questions to reach out. I emailed Mike, thanking him for his awesome contributions to the community and asked for advice on starting a podcast. I soon realized how gracious he truly was. The man gave me 600 words of free advice and told me if I wanted more I should contact Jeff Greiner, the creator and owner of the aforementioned Tome Show podcast.

Already a subscriber to Jeff’s show, I eagerly went to him for advice next. Jeff asked me to pitch him my idea and without even knowing it was coming he offered me a chance to do my show on the Tome Show’s feed, immediately hitting a large audience of subscribers! I admit, this is some pure, amazing luck. Thus my first public RPG-related creation was born: The Round Table podcast. Special thanks to Rudy Basso, Alex Basso, Greg Blair, and Vegas Lancaster for making those first several episodes with me and encouraging me to keep making the show in those first weeks. Extra special thanks to Sam Dillon for actually getting all those episodes on the air. After several months of consistent output, Jeff told me (after I asked a few times) that he trusted me enough to revive the Gamer to Gamer franchise on the network and I started interviewing professionals in the industry. (Shoutout to my first interviewee on that show, Wolfgang Baur!)

Takeaways:

  • Listen to your partner.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people for advice.
  • Be gracious and grateful. People remember how you treat them. Also everyone deserves to be treated like a human.
  • Seize opportunities when luck offers them.
  • Be consistent with you work and don’t be afraid to ask for more after you’ve proven yourself.

The Blog

I was three episodes into The Round Table and seeing thousands of people listening to the show when I decided I should probably use the podcast as a platform to promote something I always wanted to do, but had been too lazy to start – a blog about homebrew design. I had a lot of time on my hands, since Bonnie was on a two-week business trip, so rather than play video games every night (which was my normal MO when she was gone before the blog and podcast), I used the time to create this site. I made a commitment to write two articles a week. To keep myself accountable, I started shouting the site out on the podcast, knowing that I would need to keep it stocked with content if people were going to show up.

The blog’s audience growth was slow, but steady. I started with less than 10 views a day, but as I kept updating it consistently and shouting out new posts to various social media groups and message boards, the views crept up. Now on days when I don’t post something new, I get about 500 hits in a day, but it took me three years to get here.

Takeaways:

  • Sometimes you need to put video games and Netflix aside to work on rewarding, fun, creative projects.
  • The best way to build and audience is put out consistent, well-crafted content that you enjoy making.
  • Hold yourself accountable for getting your own projects done. No one else will.

The Work

So how did I finally get paid for some game design? Well my first jobs came from EN5ider and Johnn Four‘s Roleplaying Tips and they came about quite differently.

I had a year of blogging and podcasting under my belt when I saw EN5ider was just starting up. I saw a post on EN World calling for article submissions, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I had been rejected before by Dungeon and Dragon magazines and by the Adventurers League, but I didn’t let that discourage me. Editor James Haeck accepted of my pitch! Give Chase was born… after careful outlining, planning, proof-reading and revising, and revising again once I got notes from James. I made sure to hit each deadline and to listen to the editor’s feedback, incorporating it into the article, rather than rejecting what was said. James and I worked well together and I’ve written a few more articles for EN5ider since then.

Roleplaying Tips came about in a much different way. World Builder Blog was a regular contributor to the monthly RPG Blog Carnival and through that Johnn noticed my work, he reached out to me and asked if I would write an article for his newsletter that gave worldbuilding lessons. I’d be paid for the work and I could repost it here on the blog. That’s a great deal, so of course I said yes. Johnn and I have worked together on a few projects since, including a massive adventure that should be coming soon!

It was about another year before I got to do work for more people. In that time the DMs Guild launched. I already had a heaping helping of fifth edition content on this blog, so I put some of that into PDFs (without having ever done layout). The reputation I had built for myself on the blog and podcast helped get my products some buzz and a few became best-sellers. That’s when things really started to pick up.

The Adventurers League asked me to write an adventure for them and Shawn Merwin asked me to write another for Baldman Games. Roll20’s owners (who I met after applying for their game master job, which I did not get but did give me a chance to make connections with these very cool people) asked me to create their introductory fifth edition adventure, The Master’s Vault. Since then I’ve worked on a few other projects, but those are going to stay secret for now. Many of them are people I have met at conventions.

You know the rest of the tale. I’ve continued to create and since left the Tome Show to create my own podcast network with Rudy Basso. What’s in store for the future? Only time shall tell!

Takeaways:

  • Keep submitting to open calls. Rejection happens! That’s ok. Don’t take it personally and keep pitching.
  • Be an active part of the community.
  • Write, revise, proofread, and hit your deadlines. People will want to work with you again.
  • Create, create, create for yourself before someone asks you to do it for them. You’ll learn your craft and build a library of content to show off or even sell.
  • Go to conventions. Meet your heroes, ask them for advice. This industry is smaller than you think and people are super approachable and awesome.

Luck and Hard Work

I clearly owe a lot of people many thanks. I could not have made it to even where I am today without them. My timing worked out and I was very lucky, but I also created some of my own luck by working hard. Hopefully this story helps some of you out there!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of the podcast Rudy Basso and I make, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

Here is the conclusion to Story Arc 6, filled with battle, magic, and old lady threat!  Will Parties 13 and 14 escape with their lives?  Will Markham the Betrayer be brought to justice?  Tune in to find out!

Tweet your own Levels Question of the Week at us or #levelsq on Twitter!

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

VISIT AND CONTRIBUTE TO OUR WIKI!

Please subscribe to the podcast at one of the following places:

iTunes   |   Stitcher   |   Google Play   |   Pocket Casts    |   RSS Feed

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of Table Top Babble is now available!

James Introcaso talks writing adventures for the DMs Guild again with best-selling game designers Tony PetreccaM.T. Black, and Jeff C. Stevens.

Tony Petrecca’s Adventures

M.T. Black’s Adventures

Jeff C. Stevens’ Adventures

Adventure Title Generator from M.T. Black

Subscribe on iTunesGoogle Play, or Stitcher. Grab our RSS feed.

Follow Table Top Babble on Facebook or Twitter.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It will likely be no surprise for any of you to learn I was in an improv troupe in college.

Me being hilarious (clearly) with my pal Vegas Lancaster back in 2008.

I know many of us Game Masters heard or read the old piece of advice to say, “Yes, and…” when a player throws out an idea as a way to build story cooperatively. That advice is often immediately followed up or preceded by the person telling you that this idea is a basic rule of improv comedy.

Why not apply improv comedy advice to RPGs? It makes sense. D&D is basically improv fantasy. Dread is basically improv horror. Night’s Black Agents is basically improv super spies vs vampires. And so on. It’s all collaborative storytelling.

The “Yes and…” technique is a handy piece of advice that I employ in my games (to a point, but that’s another post). It got me thinking, “Are there other improv comedy techniques or tips we can steal for our games?” Yes. A lot.

Today I want to share one mnemonic I learned in improv that helps establish scenes and brings NPCs to life. It helps when I need to create an NPC on the spot and breathes pizzaz into any generic shopkeeper or street urchin. It helps give named NPC 41 in a published adventure a personality and backstory without panic. It keeps you calm when the players zig and you expected them to zag. All you need to do is think, “LARCH.” That’s Location, Action, Relationship, Characterization, and History.

Location

When it comes to meeting an NPC, the first thing you should establish is their location. Where an NPC meet the player characters says a lot about that NPC. For instance, if the characters get an invitation to meet the NPC for a meal, do they dine in the common room of a run down tavern, the private club room of an upscale establishment, or the NPC’s home (which could be a home-cooked meal in a shack or a feast prepared by servants in a mansion)? Do they meet for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon tea? If the characters meet the NPC on the street, is a shadowy alley, paved main street, or trail in the wilderness? All of these details say quite a bit about the NPC by showing the characters where they feel most comfortable. Before you get into describing the NPC, describe their location.

Action

NPCs do not stand around and wait for the characters to approach them. They’re busy people! The evil cult leader is in performing a sacrificial ritual or reading an ancient tome or taking a nap when the characters roll up to her hidden swamp cave. A busy noble asks the characters to join him in his carriage as he rides from one appointment to the next. An urchin begs passersby for copper pieces as she shares rumors with the characters. A scientist browses through some album covers in a record shop as she casually passes the player characters her secret formula. Actions speak louder than words and clue the players into each NPC’s personality. By deciding what actions your NPCs are taking when they meet with PCs, it helps you as the GM settle into that particular character as well.

Relationships

NPCs should know other people and places in the world beyond the player characters. During conversations with the PCs they should mention friends, acquaintances, enemies, rivals, family, celebrities, favorite dining establishments, inns to avoid, and more.It is most fun to connect new NPCs to people and places already known by the characters. If the adventurers are referred to the NPC A by NPC B, NPC A should mention NPC B’s name and how they feel about that person.

You start to fill out your world with new connections and interesting relationships and plots when you do this. If NPC C hates NPC B who is friends with NPC A, then odds are NPC C also hates NPC A… but maybe not! (Wouldn’t that be interesting?) Forming these relationships helps establish an NPCs character by connecting them to the world and simultaneously builds out your world. It also helps the characters get an idea of who your NPCs are beyond their presented self. If the kindly grandma hates the noble paladin, someone is probably not what they seem.

Characterization

Personality and mannerisms are two important components to your NPC. When you’re making a new NPC write down an adjective and an character archetype and play to those ideas (e.g. Upstanding Criminal, Cowardly Clerk, Noble Henchmen, Loyal Politician, Mad Scientist). These words should have no strict interpretation. You are the only one who will ever see them. You decide what they mean. For instance “Mad Scientist” could mean an inventor who is angry, or a crazy supervillain with no post-graduate degree of any kind. By writing two words down next to the NPC’s name, you’ll remember more details about the character the next time they cross paths with the PCs.

If you need to create an NPC on the fly, choose or roll on the table below. If you want to take things a step further, use the tables in my NPC mannerisms post.

d20 Adjective d20 Noun
1 Noble 1 Sodlier
2 Sleazy 2 Criminal
3 Reluctant 3 Henchman
4 Pious 4 Scientist
5 Cowardly 5 Politician
6 Stoic 6 Youth
7 Mad 7 Hermit
8 Exhausted 8 Spy
9 Worldly 9 Artist
10 Powerful 10 Scholar
11 Polite 11 Clerk
12 Rude 12 Urchin
13 Excitable 13 Devotee
14 Competitive 14 Outsider
15 Broken 15 Merchant
16 Optimistic 16 Parent
17 Bored 17 Laborer
18 Curious 18 Hunter
19 Cursed 19 Liar
20 Lonely 20 Leader

History

Your NPCs didn’t just suddenly appear in the world. They have been living in it their entire life (probably). What accomplishments do they still talk about that exist in the world at present? How do they feel about big world-shaking events of the past, or even smaller events, like what the PCs did on their last quest? NPCs should have feelings about events that transpired before they met the characters and should have an impact of their own (no matter how small) on the world. If the merchant up and leaves town because the PCs threatened him, how does the rest of the community react to see their favorite bait and tackle shop close its doors after 20 years because some hooligans scared Mr. Potter? Just like relationships, when you create history, you’re defining your NPC and worldbuilding at the same time.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!