Archive for December, 2016

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

47ee0-1462462559930

Hello Listeners!  As mentioned in the last BTS episode, there will be a brief hiatus from the main HSWT storyline as we spend some time catching up on production.  While that is happening, however, we have some other treats for you, starting with a recorded Dungeons and Dragons 5E session starring James Introcaso and several cast members.  Please enjoy this actual play episode!

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!

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!

Just a quick note today since I’m on vacation and sick as a dog. I have a few updates regarding my new podcast and podcast network for you!

tabble_babble_logo_2

You Can Subscribe to Table Top Babble Now!

I put up a quick episode 0 so you can subscribe to my new podcast, Table Top Babble, now. It’s on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. Here’s the RSS feed.

You’ll want to start subscribing now, since the first full episode drops Monday January 2, 2017 and it is a big, fat juicy interview with Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition lead designer Mike Mearls!!! It is a great talk about how the 5e design team is shaping the game for the future and the upcoming D&D movie.

You Can Follow Us on Social Media!

Our website launch is mere hours away, but for now you can get updates about Table Top Babble and all of Don’t Split The Podcast Network’s shows by following us on social media. Links below!

Table Top Babble Facebook Page

Table Top Babble Twitter

Don’t Split the Podcast Network Facebook Page

Don’t Split the Podcast Network Twitter

Please start subscribing and following, as it helps new listeners find the shows! Please share us on your own socially media pages, since word of mouth is all we have.

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 my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


the-tome-show-round-table


James Introcaso and Topher Kohan sit down with Ginny Loveday and Adventurers League Admins Robert Adducci, Alan Patrick, and Greg Marks to discuss the latest announcements from the D&D Adventurers League. This podcast was recorded on December 13, 2016.

Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch!

Open Gaming Store Pick of the Episode: Lamentations of the Flame Princess: The Cursed Chateau

DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: A Very Aberrant Holiday Special

Links:

The Tome Show on Facebook

Have Spellbook, Will Travel

Heralds Guild


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!

If you’ve been following my podcast on The Tome Show Network, The Round Table, then odds are you already know some pieces of the news I’m going to share. Rudy Basso and I have started a new gaming podcast network called Don’t Split the Podcast Network. Look for the launch in January 2017.

dstpn_logo

Leaving The Tome Show

In order to pursue this new venture, something had to give. Rudy and I will no longer host any podcasts on The Tome Show. Our departure from the network is a very amicable one. I consider Jeff Greiner, owner and creator of The Tome Show, a great human being and friend. He gave me the opportunity to create a new podcast on his network with a huge built-in subscriber base he had grown over years. This is not to be overlooked or taken for granted. Jeff is a positive force in the industry. He doesn’t shy away from tough subjects and celebrates all things games with a genuine love for fun. Rudy and I do not leave the network lightly. We give Jeff and the entire Tome Show crew our thanks, our love, and our high-fives as we exit. (And just because we won’t be hosting any shows doesn’t mean we won’t be back to visit and give our two cents on one of their podcasts!)

While Rudy’s podcast, D&D V&G is wrapping up, the ones I hosted will still be on the network. The host of Gamer to Gamer is currently uncertain, but I know Jeff has some plans in the works, including possibly hosting the monthly podcast himself!

If you don’t already know, then I’m happy as a kobold in a cave to tell you that Topher Kohan will be taking over the hosting duties of The Round Table. Topher and I have been friends for years and no one is more tapped into what’s happening in the world of Dungeons and Dragons than he. Topher has written for CNN’s Geek Out! Blog, got an exclusive look at fifth edition before the public playtest, and served as the South East Regional Coordinator for the D&D Adventurers League. We are cohosting two podcasts together before I go, both of which have already been recorded. I can honestly say that Topher is far more qualified for the job of hosting The Round Table than I ever was. In addition to being a D&D expert, Topher is a great friend, amazing host, and a gamer that you should be ecstatic to spend hours listening to. I know I am.

The Future: Don’t Split the Podcast Network

tabble_babble_logo_2

I’m leaving The Tome Show, but I’ll be starting right up with a new podcast. The overlap is so seamless, you won’t miss my dolcet tones at all. On January 2, 2017 I’ll cohost my final Round Table and the first full episode of my new show, Table Top Babble, will premiere. The first one is a doozy too. It’s a big, fat, juicy interview with none other than Mike Mearls, one of the lead designers of fifth edition D&D. I was so excited to sit down with Mike and pick his brain about everything from upcoming Unearthed Arcana to the D&D movie. Table Top Babble will have a new episode each week that features advice, reviews, interviews, and more from industry experts and panelists about all your favorite RPGs. You can start subscribing if you’re on iTunes or Stitcher and listen to a quick episode 0. Here’s the RSS feed. Google Play coming soon!

hswt-logo

Of course, my new show isn’t the only new one on the network. Have Spellbook, Will Travel will be brought under the Don’t Split the Podcast umbrella. If you haven’t been listening to the scripted comedy podcast based on our D&D games, now is a perfect time to catch up. The story is really heating up and turning into something special. Our voice actors are talented, the editing is superb, and if you like me, I do some writing and acting on it. This is truly a brilliant podcast from the mind of Rudy Basso.

game-o-clock_logo_7

Speaking of my good buddy, Rudy and his brother Alex will be launching a new video game podcast in 2017 called Game O’Clock. Game O’Clock is both retrospective and modern examination of video games. Every month, the lifelong gamers and brothers focus on a specific genre and spend a week each looking at its history, highlights/lowlights, their personal favorites within it, and the game they wish someone would make. They’ll always be joined by a knowledgable guest and friend to round out the discussion and bring a unique perspective.

This is the start of something special and exciting that’s been in the works for a long time. I’m excited to share it with you and there is at least one more podcast to reveal in the coming week!

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

 

47ee0-1462462559930

Whoo hoo!  Story Arc 4 wrap up is here, and Rudy and James discuss the D&D adventure that inspired these airship-related mishaps.  They also have a conversation about one-shots, and some tips on how to play them (and what to play!).

Please note that the main story episodes will be taking a hiatus until January 18.  In the interim there will be some new types of content, including some Actual Play from the cast – hopefully you enjoy it as much as the main show.

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

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

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 my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


the-tome-show-round-table


Rudy Basso and I have some exciting news to share! Plus a very special not-so-mystery guest who will soon be much more! This podcast was recorded on December 6 and 11, 2016.


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes! It helps us a bunch and takes 30 seconds.


Open Gaming Store Pick of the Episode: Lord Orkus


DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: Encounters in the Savage Frontier


Links:
The Tome Show on Facebook

Have Spellbook, Will Travel


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!

47ee0-1462462559930

With the mystery of who did it solved, our heroes move to catch the murderer and save the Duchess!  Will they succeed?  Will they fail, AGAIN?  Is it inappropriate to put two spaces after punctuation when writing in a non-scholarly setting?  Most of these questions are answered in this exciting conclusion to Have Spellbook, Will Travel Arc 4!

Tweet your own Levels Question of the Week at us or #levelsq on Twitter! Today’s question was submitted by Ally Burnham.  Thanks Ally!

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

VISIT AND CONTRIBUTE TO OUR WIKI!

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!

Thala pushed back with all her might against the gnoll berserker, but the gnome rogue might as well have thrown herself against a wall made of dragons. She would end up in the bottom of the magic-tinged purple river behind her. The mage was unsure of the spells within the water, but the resident monsters were trying to push her and her companions into it, so a bath would probably not be pleasant. “Whatever it is, it’s better than being devoured by gnolls,” she thought as she  fell backwards into the icy embrace.

Yet as soon as Thala submerged, she began to rocket back out of the water and beyond into the air. She could fly! The dripping wet gnome giggled. The stupid gnoll had just given her a huge advantage by pushing her into the magic river. “Hey everyone!” she cried to her embattled friends as she knocked an arrow twenty feet in the air. “Take a dip and get some wings like me!”

Hagus would not be outdone by his little friend. The elf fighter grinned as he dove head first into the water… and promptly turned into a pig.

I love traps and hazards that have the chance of bestowing a benefit to players. You can get great, surprising moments like the one above, and you get to watch your players ask themselves if the risk is worth the reward. They can even use such environmental effects as a last-ditch effort to try to save their hides. “We’re going to die! Our only shot is to push that gnoll berserker into the river and pray he turns into a pig. Let’s hope he doesn’t get the power of flight instead!”

The earlier examples involve a stream that can make a person fly or polymorphs them into a pig at random, but there’s tons of fun examples out there. In this post I’d like to discuss the types of risk/reward environmental effects I use most often and provide some examples. Hopefully it’ll spawn some ideas for you to use in your own games and give you some crunchy pieces to steal. These environmental effects are both naughty and nice!

Save to Win!

One of the simplest ways to create a risk/reward environmental effect is to assign a save DC to its effects. If a save is successful, the character gets a boon. If the save is a failure, the character is harmed in some way.

The characters enter a room with a fountain statue of a vampire spewing blood in 10-foot-radius blood pool. Any other creature that drinks from, enters, or starts its turn in the blood pool must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw. Creatures who fail gain one level of exhaustion. Creatures who succeed gain 20 temporary hit points.

You can even assign levels of success and failure to an effect. Maybe if a creature fails the save by 5 or more, they suffer two levels of exhaustion and if they exceed the save DC by 5 or more they get an extra 20 temporary hit points.

These types of hazards are perfect for a simple, binary result, but be aware this is an easier system to game. In the example above characters with high Constitution scores may decide a little dip is worth the risk while others may avoid it once you call for that particular save.

If you want to see you players struggle with the choice like, “Should I bathe in that blood fountain?” make sure the risk is worth the reward. 20 temporary hit points are a big reward, but a level of exhaustion is just as, if not more crippling. If the 20 temporary hit points were put against instant death, the characters might be shocked to see the first PC die, but the rest will have a very easy choice in front of them and choose not to bathe. That’s fine if you play in a game where the risk of random, instant death is enjoyed by the players and aren’t looking for them to struggle with whether or not they should try the hazard for themselves.

Get Random!

Who doesn’t love a good random table? You can assign a random effect for a hazard, make some naughty, some nice and then let the dice decide. For harmful effects, you may still want to assign a save, so a characters isn’t automatically turned petrified for rolling around in magic mud that gave a companion the benefit of stoneskin spell.

The characters enter a room with an altar to a goddess of chaos. Creatures who touch the altar are subject to an effect randomly chosen on the Chaos Altar Effects table. Once a creature interacts with the altar, it cannot be subject to another effect from the altar for 24 hours.

The stone altar has AC 17, 27 hit points, and is immune to poison and psychic damage. If the altar is destroyed, any effects it created immediately end.

Chaos Altar Effects

d6 Effect
1 The creature must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failure it is blinded for 4 hours. On a success it is deafened for 4 hours.
2 The creature must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure it suffers a random form of long-term madness. On a success it suffers a random form of short-term madness.
3 The creature must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw as a bolt of lightning flies out of the altar toward it. On a failure it takes 28 (8d6) lightning damage. On a success it takes only half damage.
4 The creature can see invisible creatures and objects for 4 hours.
5 The creature gains a burrow speed of 20 feet for 1 hour. If the creature already has a burrow speed, it is increased by 20 feet for the same duration.
6 The creature gains the benefit of the stoneskin spell for 1 hour.

In the specific case of this altar, you might decide that appeasing the chaos goddess is more likely to give a person a better result. In that case you could add: Creatures who pray to the goddess before touching the altar are given two different effects at random and pick one effect.

Just like with a binary effect, balance is important here if you want the players to struggle with the choice of interacting with the hazard but you have a more ways to achieve that balance. First you can simply have tempting rewards that seem worthy of the risks, just like you would with a binary choice.

Another option is to increase the number of variables, making it impossible for players to determine what they’ll get through trial and error. Don’t feel like you need to put 100 options on a table. Charts with 10 or more options achieve this with flying colors for most groups.

The final option would be to have a table with more instances of one type of consequence with less impactful effects and less of the other type with more impactful effects. Sure four out of six of the options are bad, but the other two are really tempting, or vice versa.

Greed

Maybe there can be too much of a good thing. Certain effects can punish players for their greed. The first taste of meal can be delicious and healing, but beyond that first bite, there are consequences.

The characters enter come across a 20-foot radius lake as they make their way through the Nine Hells. The first time a creature drinks from the water in the pool as an action, it regains 15 hit points. Devils receive the same effect on subsequent drinks from the pool. Other creatures that take subsequent drinks from the pool must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. Creatures who fail take 22 (4d10) poison damage and are poisoned for 1 hour. Creatures who succeed take half damage and are not poisoned.

This type of hazard should be used sparingly since it will seem like an unfair trick to some players. Make sure there’s some clue that there could be harmful effects from whatever it is the characters are near. The example above takes place in the Nine Hells, which should be enough of a warning sign in itself to not drink the water. If you’re characters aren’t in the Nine Hells, a dead body, a mind-controlled (or out-of-control) creature, or a petrified creature nearby is a good way to give characters a warning of what’s to come. They just have to pick up on it!

Discrimination

A hazard could have magic effects that only benefit or harm certain races, classes, alignments, etc. Maybe the wizard who crafted a potion of invulnerability really hates sorcerers, so for that class it functions as a potion of poison. Maybe a dragon created a special incense that when inhaled enhances breath weapon of dragon and dragonborn, but rapidly ages any other creature.

The characters come across a closet-sized room in an orc stronghold that has walls covered in Orc runes that spell out prayers to Gruumsh. A creature that is not an elf that enters and reads the prayers aloud gains a +5 bonus to melee weapon damage rolls for 1 hour. An elf who does this make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw, taking 22 (4d10) damage and becoming blinded for 1 hour on a failure, or taking only half damage on a success.

You could also make this effect much narrower if you say only orcs and half-orcs get the beneficial effects and everyone else is subject to the terrible effect. Again, use these sparingly, and make sure you change-up which characters get punished when you do use such a method.

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 my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


the-tome-show-round-table


I sit down with Alex Basso, Ginny Loveday, and Round Table newbie Gregg Lauer to talk about the bard, cleric, and druid Unearthed Arcana articles. Then it’s an interview with game designer Mike Myler about his ongoing Kickstarter for Hypercorps 2099: Wastleland. This podcast was recorded on November 30 and December 1, 2016.


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch.


Open Gaming Store Pick of the Episode: Howl at the Moon


DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: Complete Adventures of M.T. Black


Links:

The Tome Show on Facebook

Have Spellbook, Will Travel

Southern Connecticut D&D Meetup

Winter Fantasy

Hypercorps 2099

Mists of Akuma

mikemyler.com


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!

How is everyone! Just a quick update this week about the release of my second ever D&D Adventurers League adventure! While this update is short, the adventure represents WEEKS of work and 30 pages of content.

Tales of Good & Evil

My second D&D Adventurers League adventure, Tales of Good & Evil, is available on the DMs Guild now. This bad boy was put out by Baldman Games and is part of their CORE series that is overseen by the great Shawn Merwin! Get a description below. Awesome maps by Jay Africa!

As the City of a Thousand Forges perseveres in the face of threats both internal and external, the effects of the planar portal continue to make everyone uneasy. When unusual individuals are drawn to the city because of the portal’s power, heroes are asked to keep the peace and ferret out anyone intending to bring harm to Melvaunt. A D&D Adventurers League adventure set in Melvaunt. A four-hour adventure for 1st – 4th level characters

889633-core_2-1_tales_of_good__evil

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!