Archive for November, 2015

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Enrique Bertran, Liz Bauman, Mike Shea, and Liz Theis to talk about the RPG community on Twitter. This podcast was recored on November 24, 2015.

Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!

Links:


If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, Bonus Action, is up on The Tome Show’s website.

In this episode Sam and I discuss the rules for spellbooks in D&D. You can find an explanation of this rule in the Player’s Basic Rules D&D PDF on pages 30 and 31 or in the Player’s Handbook on pages 114.

Sam’s Blog

Play on Target Podcast

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, The Round Table and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

To my friends in the United States – Happy Thanksgiving!

Since I started this blog I’ve been taking part in the monthly RPG Blog Carnival. Currently organized by Johnn Four over at Roleplaying Tips, the carnival is hosted by a different blog each month. The owner of the hosting blog picks a RPG-related theme and then invites other bloggers to write at least one post on that theme in their own blogs. Those bloggers then provide a link to their posts somewhere in the comments of the host blog’s introductory carnival post. At the end of the month, the blog hosting the carnival gathers up all of the links in a new blog post and puts them together in a nice little package for all to see. Check out November’s carnival theme “A Stack of Surprises,” hosted by Mike Bourke of Campaign Mastery.

In December, I’ll be hosting the carnival. If you’ve been following me for a while or you’ve checked out the Free Game Resources section of this site, you know I love crafting homebrew creations. For fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons I’ve created numerous backgroundsmagic items, monstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more. I’ve also been on a Shadow of the Demon Lord pregen creation kick recently, since there don’t seem to be many out there for this new game yet.

Now I’m inviting others to join in the fun. This holiday season, give the gift of your gaming creations. Create a new monsters, feat, spell, force power, weapon, magic item, NPC, PC, adventure, map, world, background, rule, society, or anything else you can dream up. It could be for your favorite game system or something system agnostic! It doesn’t matter. Heck get into the spirit and stat out Santa or go dark and make a murderous longsword forged in the blood of demons. Your imagination is the only limit. No creation is too small if it’s one that came right out of your brain.

Leave links to those creations in the comments below and at the end of the month I’ll post them up in a nice blogtastic package for GMs everywhere to steal for their games! Give the gift of gaming, my friends. There’s going to be plenty homebrew fun to come from this blog as well, so stay tuned!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with Greg Tito of Wizards of the Coast. We discuss Greg’s work as the Communications Manager of Dungeons and Dragons and his past as a freelance designer and as Editor-In-Chief at The Escapist. This podcast was recorded on November 3, 2015.


If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, The Round Table and Bonus Action, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

IntroConso was amazing. What’s that? You never heard of IntroConso? That’s because my friends and I made it up.

My great pal, fellow Tome Show podcaster, and amazing Night’s Black Agents Game Master, Rudy Basso, and I have been going to Gen Con together for the last two years. 60,000 people who are all down to roll some dice and have a great time for four days straight. We make it a point to experience a lot of new games since we play fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons a majority of the time we game. It’s always a rush to discover a new game.

We’ve been trying to get our own friends from college to go for years, but things like distance, expense, and time away from work and family make it difficult for many of our buds to attend. Last year while at Gen Con it hit me. Why not plan our own convention? Well, not really a convention. We’d invite just a few friends to join us for a weekend of gaming somewhere more convenient. They all live on in the Northeast, so we could simply gather at one person’s home. Suddenly expense, travel, and time away were less of an issue. It wasn’t a 60,000 person con, but it was a weekend with some of the coolest people I know.

We organized this bash and I sent out an email to the dudes who were immediately on board. I jokingly called it James Con, which Alex Basso, Rudy’s awesome brother, changed to IntroConso. The name stuck. We just wrapped up the first get together and there were eleven people total (including Round Table panelists Greg Blair, Andrew Timmes, Vegas Lancaster, Ray Fallon, and John Fischer). We introduced those dudes to a bunch of new games over the weekend and they introduced Rudy and I to some new stuff. Anyone out there who can take a weekend, day, or even just a few hours to experience a new tabletop RPG with some should definitely do it! We had so much fun, but we also learned a lot of new mechanics which we enjoyed.

Now that life is back to normal, we’re going to be resuming our usual awesome gaming meal of fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. So with that in mind, here’s a few my favorite mechanics from the games we played that could be stolen and brought into fifth edition.

13th Age

Created by Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, 13th Age takes a lot of the good mechanics from third edition D&D, which Jonathan helped design, and a lot of the good mechanics from fourth edition D&D, which Rob helped design, and mixes them with some brand new story and game rules to create something really special. The game is one of the best out there for creating an epic fantasy story in which your PCs really feel like badass heroes.

Icon Roles

The Rule: In the default 13th Age setting, there are 13 icons. Icons are basically high level, archetype NPCs like the Emperor, the Lich King, the High Priestess, and the Dwarf King with whom your players share some sort of relationship. During character creation, players have three relationship points to spend on their PCs’ positive, negative, and conflicted relationships with one or more specific icons. The players describe why they have a relationship with NPC (e.g. “The forces of the Lich King killed my parents so we have a negative relationship,” or “I served in an army commanded by the Dwarf King and respected the decisions he made so we have a positive relationship.”)

At the start of each game session players roll 1d6 per relationship point. If any of those results come up 6, something good happens to the player’s PC during the session because of that relationship. For instance the icon or its agents might give the PC a magic item or a henchman to help with a quest. If the player rolls a 5, something good happens to the PC because of their relationship with the icon, but it comes with strings attached. The player might have to complete a side quest, surrender some resources, or give up an item in return for the aid they receive. All other results are ignored because over the course of a long campaign, each player will roll many 5s and 6s, especially since a PC gains more relationship points as they progress in levels.

How It Can Work in 5e: You can use the rule as written and set your fifth edition campaign in the default world of 13th Age, you could create your own icons and use them, or have the gods (which are more active in the lives of mortals in many D&D games than in 13th Age) be your icons.

PCs start with three relationship points at first level, gain another at seventh, and a fifth at fourteenth. Otherwise use the rule as written.

One Unique Thing

The Rule: During character creation, every player picks something about their character that is unique and applies only to their character. “I am the bastard son of the Emperor,” or “I am the only elf ale brewer.” These unique things make PCs special right off the bat and help define the game world since they are limiting. You can find a bunch of examples here.

How It Can Work in 5e: Use the rule as written.

Escalation Die

The Rule: During 13th Age combat the PCs get into a groove and gain a sort of momentum which allows them to get better at swinging their swords and casting their spells. At the end of the first round of combat the escalation die appears. This six-sided looks like any other. It starts showing number one and at the end of everyone round of combat increase by one until hit six, where it stays until the end of the battle.

PCs, and usually only PCs, add the escalation die’s number to their attack rolls. This helps combat go a little more quickly and rewards PCs for staying in a tough fight.

How It Can Work in 5e: Use the rule as written for PCs. Legendary creatures (like dragons, beholders, vampires, etc.) also gain the benefit of the escalation die.

Shadow of the Demon Lord

Set in a dark fantasy world from the mind of Rob Schwalb, Shadow of the Demon Lord is one of my favorite new RPGs. You can tell because I’ve been creating many pregens for the system lately. It’s a gritty, violent, hard-to-survive game with spells like hateful defecation (which is exactly what you think). If you’re into horror, you have to check this game out.

Initiative

The Rule: This was one of my favorite mechanics I discovered at IntroConso the players seemed to agree. It really helped speed up our combat.

During combat PCs and monsters can take fast turns or slow turns. During fast turns you either make one move or one action, but during slow turns you get to make one move and one action. What sort of action you take determines how you act initiative. Initiative goes in the following phases:

  1. PCs taking fast turns.
  2. Monsters taking fast turns.
  3. PCs taking slow turns.
  4. Monsters taking slow turns.

During each PC phase, the PCs determine who acts in which order. If they can’t decide, the GM decides for them. This made things move very quickly.

How It Can Work in 5e: This rule takes a couple tweaks to work in fifth edition, but they are pretty easy. Here’s what I’d change.

  1. Fast turns and slow turns can include bonus actions.
  2. Effects and abilities that wear off “at the start/end of your next turn,” would end at the start/end of the same phase in the next round.

Gamma World

Gamma World’s seventh edition is one of the greatest things to come out of fourth edition D&D. The post-apocalyptic, zany game designed by Rich Baker and Bruce Cordell is based on D&D 4e’s rules, but has a lot more random mechanics that really keep the game interesting as PCs pick up crazy omega tech, constantly mutate their bodies, and roll for random origins, skill proficiencies, and equipment.

Alpha Mutations

The Rule: In Gamma World PCs gain a single random Alpha Mutation at the start of each game which is swapped out with a new random one whenever they gain finish an encounter. These alpha mutations appear on cards which are drawn from a deck. At higher levels, PCs gain more Alpha Mutations.

How It Can Work in 5e: While they aren’t right for every fifth edition game, you could have players roll randomly to have a single cantrip they can cast after being exposed to some sort of strange magic. Have all PCs pick either Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as their spellcasting modifier if they don’t already have one, create a table of every cantrip, have the PCs roll after each battle and at the start of each session to determine which cantrip they get. PCs gain an additional random cantrip at seventh level and fourteenth level.

What About You?

What have you stolen from other systems to bring into another? Sound off in the comments below!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with Alex Basso and Rudy Basso to discuss the latest Unearthed Arcana article “Light, Dark, Underdark!” This podcast was recorded on November 11, 2015.

Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!

Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

This is an update to a post written on Tuesday this week. If you want the new pregen goodness, skip down to the links below.

sotdl-cover

I love Shadow of the Demon Lord. Game designer Rob Schwalb has put together an amazing RPG with fun, easy-to-learn rules. At first glance this appears to be a simple dark fantasy tabletop RPG (which would be awesome by itself), but read beyond the table of contents and you’ll find it’s a deliciously wicked world of rules that twists tropes and archetypes you know well into something original and different.

You can hear more about Shadow of the Demon Lord in the Gamer to Gamer podcast I recorded with Rob back in March when his (super duper successful) Kickstarter launched. Since then he’s published the core rulebook and a ton of adventures by many amazing designers you can buy.

I have a very busy week this week and one reason is because I’m preparing to run my first ever game of Shadow of the Demon Lord with some players this Saturday. While we’re all seasoned with years of Dungeons and Dragons experience this will be their first time playing Rob’s game as well. We’re also limited on time, so as simple as Shadow of the Demon Lord’s character creation is, I went looking for pregens online. I couldn’t find any so I decided to make my own. I figured since I was going to make them, I might as well share them with you! Now they do exist online.

Below are pregens for starting (level 0) and novice (level 1) PCs. Note I fixed some typos and updated the starting PCs as well. You can always grab these pregens on the Free Game Resources section of the site.

Starting

Changeling

Clockwork

Dwarf

Goblin

Human

Orc

Novice

Changeling Magician Level 1

Clockwork Warrior Level 1

Dwarf Priest Level 1

Goblin Rogue Level 1

Human Priest Level 1

Orc Warrior Level 1

Expert

Changeling Magician Witch Level 3

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Level 3

Dwarf Priest Paladin Level 3

Goblin Rogue Thief Level 3

Human Priest Cleric Level 3

Orc Warrior Berserker Level 3

Master

Changeling Magician Witch Technomancer Level 7

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Weapon Master Level 7

Dwarf Priest Paladin Healer Level 7

Goblin Rogue Thief Acrobat Level 7

Human Priest Cleric Astromancer Level 7

Orc Warrior Berserker Brute Level 7

More Shadow of the Demon Lord pregens to come! Gotta get those expert and master ones out there!

Hey if you want more RPG goodness, check out the Free Game Resources section of this site. You can find a lot of fifth edition D&D resources there like backgroundsmagic items, monstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I love Shadow of the Demon Lord. Game designer Rob Schwalb has put together an amazing RPG with fun, easy-to-learn rules. At first glance this appears to be a simple dark fantasy tabletop RPG (which would be awesome by itself), but read beyond the table of contents and you’ll find it’s a deliciously wicked world of rules that twists tropes and archetypes you know well into something original and different.

You can hear more about Shadow of the Demon Lord in the Gamer to Gamer podcast I recorded with Rob back in March when his (super duper successful) Kickstarter launched. Since then he’s published the core rulebook and a ton of adventures by many amazing designers you can buy.

I have a very busy week this week and one reason is because I’m preparing to run my first ever game of Shadow of the Demon Lord with some players this Saturday. While we’re all seasoned with years of Dungeons and Dragons experience this will be their first time playing Rob’s game as well. We’re also limited on time, so as simple as Shadow of the Demon Lord’s character creation is, I went looking for pregens online. I couldn’t find any so I decided to make my own. I figured since I was going to make them, I might as well share them with you! Now they do exist online.

Starting characters (level 0) in Shadow of the Demon Lord only have an ancestry so these were easy to whip up. Still if you’re in a crunch go ahead and grab them. Look forward to Thursday when I’ll post up some level 1 versions of these bad boys!

Starting

Changeling

Clockwork

Dwarf

Goblin

Human

Orc

Novice

Changeling Magician Level 1

Clockwork Warrior Level 1

Dwarf Priest Level 1

Goblin Rogue Level 1

Human Priest Level 1

Orc Warrior Level 1

Expert

Changeling Magician Witch Level 3

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Level 3

Dwarf Priest Paladin Level 3

Goblin Rogue Thief Level 3

Human Priest Cleric Level 3

Orc Warrior Berserker Level 3

Master

Changeling Magician Witch Technomancer Level 7

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Weapon Master Level 7

Dwarf Priest Paladin Healer Level 7

Goblin Rogue Thief Acrobat Level 7

Human Priest Cleric Astromancer Level 7

Orc Warrior Berserker Brute Level 7

More Shadow of the Demon Lord pregens to come!

Hey if you want more RPG goodness, check out the Free Game Resources section of this site. You can find a lot of fifth edition D&D resources there like backgroundsmagic items, monstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with James HaeckCraig Haasis, Andrew Kane, and Alex Basso to discuss the free D&D Expeditions adventure Shackles of Blood, featured in this month’s issue of Dragon+. Then I talk to Robert Brookes about his ongoing kickstarter for the Aethera Campaign Setting. This podcast was recorded on November 5 and 10, 2015.

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

Romulus is the founder of The Rome… he was also raised by wolves. Mowgli is the hero of often film-adapted The Jungle Book and he too was raised by animals. Mila is the main character of Karen Hesse’s The Music of Dolphins and the book’s titular animal raised her.

Loads of fictional characters were brought up by big cats, chimps, bears, and more. Why not PCs? It is with that in mind that I present the raised by animals background below! I’m just on a background kick.

Raised by Animals

When you were a child you were raised by beasts in the elements. The exact type of beast is up to you, but most often characters with this background were raised by large mammals like wolves, big cats, bears, and dolphins. Instead of ignoring or devouring you, these beasts took you in as one of their own and protected you. They taught you to hunt and thrive in the uncivilized world. Even with your beast family looking out for you, survival was still a daily struggle.

How did you come to live with these animals? Were you abandoned by your parents in nature to be claimed by your new kin? Did you wander off and get lost one day? Did your caravan or vessel have an accident which left you stranded and alone? The choice is yours, but somehow you left the civilized world as a child and came to live with your new family.

At some point you were brought back into civilization either by choice or by force. You’re learning what it means to be part of civilization and to have easy access to the things you fought for each day like food, water, and shelter. How has that changed your world completely?

Skills: Animal Handling and Survival

Tool Proficiencies: Herbalism kit and either wood carver’s tools or mason’s tools

Equipment: A piece of fur, tooth, or other memento from one of your beast parents, a set of common clothes, a small knife, and a belt pouch with 5 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!