Breaking the Game II: The Secret Player

This will instantly turn your next adventure into a thing of legend.

It's Not Better to Burn Out!

How to never burn out as a Dungeon Master.

A Pirate's Life

High seas adventure in 5th edition!

Breaking the Game: Slaying Dungeon Masters

Do you know what every Dungeon Master's afraid of?

Heroic Journey II: Rising Action

The next stage of your heroic journey.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Start Your Squarecrawl

Hi folks! I’m working on something that’ll make it easier to run your own Squarecrawl. But first you need to start one, so let’s talk about mapping your Square/Hexcrawl. There are a variety of tools out there to buy or download free. The problem is those all require work. To state the obvious, Dungeons and Dragons is a game. It should be fun, so why shouldn’t worldbuilding be a game, too? I think it should, that’s why I use Civilization IV for my world maps.

Civilization IV is an incredibly addictive game that came out over ten years ago and is incredibly cheap. There’s a variety of historical nationalities to choose from, but what’s more important is the Fall from Heaven II mod you can download free. Wanna play Vampire crusaders? Check. How about a nation of Pirates who worship Cthulu? Check. Dwarves? Yep. Elves? In both light and dark varieties. One of the most hilarious is a nation of Clowns ruled by an insane archmage from a previous age. Do you want to play a D&D campaign in a world that has all of the above and then some? Download this mod:

“Fall from Heaven II is a dark fantasy mod for Civilization IV. The Age of Ice has ended, what is left of the once great empires of man have formed into small tribes, ready to rebuild and retake that which was lost. But the world is not empty. Hordes of barbarians await these new civilizations. Wild animals stalk hapless scouts and reckless emissaries. Giant spiders lie in patient wait in the jungles and the forests waiting for their prey to take that last, fatal, step.

“There is great evil, but also selfless good. There are those who strive to remain neutral in the coming conflict as opposed ideologies break the world asunder once again. The first goal, is survival. The second goal is power, for good or ill. Will you pursue power through strength of arms or arcane studies, through piety or blasphemy? Choose carefully. On each path you will allies, and bitter foes, and the deeper you delve into the secrets of combat, or sorcery, or the divine, the harder it will be to turn back.”

Once you get a hold of this you’ll wanna look at the FfH Manual for a great introduction and guide to the game. Then go check out the Lore Compendium. If nothing else, read some amazing short stories you’ll never forget.

When you’re ready to start your own Squarecrawl in the Fall from Heaven setting, check out my PDF Magic of the Gods for new feats and mechanics made especially for this incredible world.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Multi-Square Megadungeon II

My journey in dungeoncraft has finally led me back to crafting that megadungeon. Except this time it’s for my Glorious Bastards campaign instead my first and still ongoing Pirates of the Aegean game. Turns out my pirate players decided to sail west and leave Haven behind. I find the player’s of my Glorious Bastards game in the sewers underneath Kwythellar, one of Erebus’ largest metropolises. Since the it’s one of the largest cities, I think the sewer system should be large and labyrinthine as well.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Oath of Reaping

Last time you got to read about my character concept - a man who's been possessed by a demon since childhood. Throughout his life Alistair experienced incidents when the demon was let out and caused great tragedy. This ultimately leads him to attempt the unthinkable, except the demon won't let him die. Alistair is convinced he is unable to die (and in 5e it can be pretty hard), so after receiving a life changing vision he dedicated himself to the god of death in the hopes of earning his eternal rest.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A New Hero

One of my players, Kintaro, is starting a new 5e campaign in his homebrew setting. Sadly, that werewolf game never took of so I still haven't gotten to be a player yet in a serious campaign this year. I've talked with Kintaro about my character concept at length, and he's allowing me to do some really cool things. In a few days I'll post a new paladin Oath I put together, the Oath of Reaping. For today here's the introduction to my new character Alistair, a cursed paladin. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Advanced D&D 5e: Skills

Hi folks! The other day I was talking with one of my players, OrkBossJo, and one of things we discussed was how great it’d be if there were more choices in the skill system. As is, you pick your skills at character creation...and that’s it. Unless you want to spend a feat (no thanks). I fondly remember the skill system from 3.5. While some might complain about the book keeping, every time you gained a new level there were a variety of things a player could do with their newly minted skill points. And does anyone remember when a high intelligence gave you extra skills?

I think it’s high time we bring a little more complexity to skills, and with it more choices for the players. Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is an excellent game. It is my favorite edition of D&D by far. However, when the R&D team at Wizards was designing the game they were creating D&D for every target audience. I think the experienced players and anyone who wants a few more choices at the price of a little more complexity should get it. So for today I’ll give you guys the first thing me and OrkBossJo came up with.

Currently the skill system only distinguishes between trained and untrained skills. You always get to add the appropriate ability score modifier. The only distinction is whether you’re adding the proficiency bonus. What if there were a third category? Enter stage right: Untalented skills.

These are skills a player is not only unable to add their proficiency bonus to, but makes those checks with disadvantage. That’s right. If you’re untalented in a skill there’s only a snowball’s chance in hell of something good happening when making a check. Every class will have a handful of skills for which they are particularly ill suited. Yes, we’re adding a penalty, but there’s an upside.

Intelligence matters again. You can choose a number of untalented skills equal to your Intelligence modifier, and upgrade them to untrained skills. If your modifier is a penalty, you need to choose an equal number of untrained skills and downgrade them to untalented. Wait, there’s more! Let’s make the skill feat matter again too. If you take the Skilled feat, you can choose any number of your untrained or untalented skills and make them trained skills, in addition to upgrading a couple of untalented skills to untrained. I think this system will not only make the skill feat more relevant, but give more flavor to your character by making you worse at skills you already weren’t using. Plus, don’t you think it’s a little odd that every Orc with a decent Intimidate skill is also better suited to persuade people with argumentation and the art of deception?

Sample Untalented Skills List

Barbarian: Arcana, Investigation, Medicine, Religion
Bard: None
Cleri c: Acrobatics, Survival
Druid: Investigation, Sleight of Hand
Fighter: Arcana, Nature, Religion
Monk: Arcana, Performance, Sleight of Hand
Paladin: Stealth, Sleight of Hand
Ranger: Arcana, Performance, Religion
Sorcerer: Athletics, Medicine, Religion
Warlock: Insight, Medicine
Wizard: Athletics, Acrobatics, Survival

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Middle Muddle

Learned some lessons today. Too many plot threads leads to none of them getting resolved. Second, quest hooks need to have a specific way to be solved. Leaving it wholly up to the players to resolve things can lead to an unsatisfying experience, and players leaving the game frustrated is something I aim to avoid. There has to be a way to determine in advance how quest hooks/plot threads can be resolved without railroading the players.

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