Monday, November 13, 2017

D&D: November's Unearthed Arcana

This month's Unearthed Arcana for DnD 5E just went live. It features 4 Elven sub-races which includes Grugach from Greyhawk and Shadar-Kar!

Check it out here.

PS I'm on vacation this week, so I'm not sure how much I'll be posting.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Xanathar's Guide to Everything First Impressions

My groups use Unearthed Arcana stuff extensively and as we approached the release I was growing a bit dubious about Xanathar's Guide to Everything. I was concerned about the following: that the page count was low, why only certain sub-classes from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide were included, and why there were twenty pages of names. I'll also admit about some boredom with 5E, I've been playing it and running it for quite some time and grown a bit burnt out as a DM (thought I've been taking a few weeks off to help with that).

I am glad that the book exceeded my original expectations and has excited me in unexpected ways.

The book opens with ten rules to remember about 5E and all of them are clear reminders of some basic tenets of the game. It cover exceptions to the rules, rounding down, advantage and disadvantage, combining effects, reactions, resistance and vulnerability, proficiency bonus, bonus action spells, concentrations, and temporary hit points.

While I had been looking forward to the Sub-classes most (and fretting over omitting some of the SCAG Sub-classes), that is the area that I've read the least. I know most of them from UA and Mike Mearls has insinuated they omitted Sub-classes directly tied to the Forgotten Realms.

Honestly, I think I'm enjoying it so much because there is quite a bit for the DM. I prefer the CR system in the book over what we have had. Mearls admitted on Twitter that he wishes they had not called it CR and I have found the system...unpredictable. What I'm reading in here intrigues me.

I really enjoy the sections on common magic items and the charts breaking down magic items by rarity which also shows if they require attunement. The section on making, buying, and selling magic items is also greatly appreciated.

The random encounter tables are a godsend for me and I plan on using them soon. It know it's a little thing, but it's good to have them by environment and level.

And the names, well they are actually pretty useful for a DM and I hadn't thought of that until I saw them. The names for non-humans are truly appreciated as I build cultures in my worlds.

I was surprised to see that only the racial Feats were used and not the skill Feats from UA. I think the halfling Feats are bit overpowered, but we will test them out, though we have no halfling players (so maybe that was the point).

I do wish we got more spells, there aren't as many new ones as I'd like when you factor the SCAG spells being reprinted.

In the end, I'm glad we got this instead of DnD 5.5 and I think the game is in good hands.

To me, this book is the fourth core book and I view it as ADnD's Unearthed Arcana, which I'm guessing was the point.

And if you are always the DM, fear not, there is some cool toys for you in here.

And if you are dying for the Hobby Cover, send me an e-mail, I have them at the stores I run!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

1,000 Faces: Lubbick the Butcher

Lubbick Dren took over his family's butcher business close to two years ago. Lubbick is a half-orc, his mother Nora had a brief but passionate affair with Logrick of the Stone-Eaters Clan. Logrick was killed in a duel after a mercenary called Nora some unpleasant names. Nora's brother, Harvard and his wife, Liin took her and Lubbick in and gave Nora a job and when he was old enough, taught Lubbick to be a butcher. While Liin was aware of the prejudice against Lubbick and distant with him, Harvard was glad to have a child in their home and truly loved his nephew.

Art by michaelkutshe

Unfortunately, Harvard had some gambling debts with Boss Heronymous and after getting behind, lost his right hand as a tax for being late on his debt. Lubbick was forced to step in at the young age of 12 to take over the major duties of his uncle. He was big and strong for his age and was good with a clever. He eventually worked out a deal with Boss Heronymous to dispose of victims through his shop. He did all of this unbeknownst to the rest of his family.

These days, even though the day to day business is slightly down due to prejudice, the store is thriving and Lubbick is even working with his beloved uncle to learn to butcher using his off-hand.

In fact, Lubbick has met a young half-orc woman, Tressy, and he intends to propose. However, Lubbick wants to cut his ties with Boss Heronymous now that his Uncle's debt is paid, but whenever he tries to bring it up, Heronymous simply grins and pats his shoulder while laughing.

Lubbick is smart and hardworking, he loves his Mother and Uncle and care about his Aunt even though he is aware of her shame. He is tired of disposing of bodies for Boss Heronymous and wants to make an honest life for himself and the woman he loves.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Shadow of the Demon Lord: Ol' Krusty

You can't find a bar in Freeport where a drunken sailor doesn't warn his mates, generally after he's been bought a pint or three, about how dangerous it is to prowl the shore on moonless nights. They are glad to tell you the tale of Ol' Krusty, the Sea God's very own pet, who comes ashore when the Moon is distracted looking for the flesh of men.

Size 3 frightening animal (aquatic)
Perception 10 (+0); darksight
Defense 14; Health 60
Strength 16 (+6)   Agility 10 (+0)   Intellect 7 (-3)   Will 12 (+2)
Speed 10

Claw (melee) +6 with 1 boon (2d6 plus caught on attack roll 
Caught The target is grabbed.

Clawful Any creature grabbed by Ol' Krusty takes 2d6 damage.

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: The Fathomdiver Scrolls

Mera of Xebel penned these spell scrolls on stained white parchment during her tenure teaching Advanced Hydromancy at the legendary magical academy of Fathomcrest, located on the island of Qurry. The scroll is kept in a case made from the spine of an orca and Mara chose to write her work in Undercommon, a language she learned from her mentor, Grim Naomi of Belgrandia. There are seven scrolls altogether, with each being over 3 feet long and all of them completely filled with her small, cramped text of waterproof green ink, milked from one of Grim Naomi's pet verge rays.


Wondrous item, legendary

• You may cast the water breathing spell. Once you cast it you must finish a short or long rest before you may do so again.

• You may cast the control water spell. Once you cast it you must finish a short or long rest before you may do so again.

• You may cast the watery sphere spell. Once you cast it you must finish a short or long rest before you may do so again.

• You may cast the create or destroy water spell at will.

• As a bonus action, before casting a cantrip or a spell, you may change it's damage type to acid damage.

• You gain resistance to acid damage.

• You may create a long whip made from water that lashes out at your command toward a creature within 30 feet. Make a melee attack, with the finesse property, against the target. If the attack hits, the creature takes 4d8 bludgeoning damage, and if the creature is large or smaller, you may pull the creature up to 10 feet closer to you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

GameStorming: Western Frontier

The set-up is the frontier of a massive Empire, possibly at the technology of the American Old West or possibly not. The Frontier has become alluring for the the large amounts of untitled lands, the freedom from the Inquisitors of the God of Light, and the "gold rush": rumors of bold explorers looting ancient ziggurats, cliffside cities, and strange underground dungeons of the mysterious and long vanished Osazi, Enqa, and Ulmex. Who were these masters of strange magic and architects of such grand abodes? What happened to them? And does Sol Morado, the city of mithril really exist?

But aside from the deadly puzzles and traps that guard last remnants of once mighty peoples, there are the orcs, lizard men, minotaurs, rocs, and many other dangers that the citizens of the Empire have not faced in decades.

Finally, will the settlers of the frontier be able to defend themselves from marauding orcs? Will the boomtowns that spring up around strange ziggurats flourish or become the "subjects" of a petty warlord who has might on their side? And will the spirits that seem bound to these lands, spirits that druids and rangers have come here seeking, welcome the newcomers or are they responsible for the vanished elders who dwelt here long ago?

Welcome to the Western Frontier, the Land of the Setting Sun.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween: Samhain for 13th Age

Samhain is the Ghost of Halloween and one of the few villains to face the Ghostbusters on more than one occasion. He is a strategic ghost with the ability to manipulate time in order to cause eternal night. Samhain also has the ability to control legions of ghosts at his command, however certain ghosts such as Slimer seem able to resist him to a certain extent.

13th level [SPIRIT]
Initiative: +4

Black Lightning +18 vs. PD
 – 220 damage
   Natural Roll of 16+: The attack hits 1 enemy close to the target for 110 damage.

Slow Time: Samhain controls temporal forces and the escalation die only gains +1 every other round.

God of the Dead:  At the beginning of Samhain's turn, he summons 1d3 wraiths.

Nastier Specials
Creature of the Night:  Samhain blots out the sun and ranged attacks are at -4 to hit.

AC 29

PD 23           HP 864

MD 27

Fear Threshold: 144

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New Product: Wizardry Unearthed for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

Last week, +Erik Tenkar and crew released Swords and Wizardry Continual Light and I was blown away by how cool it is, if you haven't checked it out it's PWYW on RPGNow (though you should throw some sheckles Tenkar's way, it's worth it).

I decided to work up some additional Classes, Races, Monsters, and an optional Thief Ability system that uses the Save mechanic.

Wizardry Unearthed just went live and it's on sale for $1.25.

I hope you check it out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

GameStorming: Shadow of the Demon Lord + Middle-Earth

I recently ran Dead By Dawn and I've been working up some side plots to go with it. 

In the adventure, we are introduced to two female dwarves who were once adventurers. That has led me to look at mixing the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings with Shadow of the Demon Lord.

In their past, the dwarfen women Gelda and Ananda were a part of eleven other dwarfs: Princess Arta, Tearri, Ronda, Tephanie, Deb, Seera, Lorraine, Netta, Zana, Cloey, and Hannah, all who were seeking the Savage Ornament so that they could reclaim their city from the demon Chernobog. They sought the Ornament because Morrigan, a wizard, told them it was only weapon that could slay the demon. Arta had known Morrigan since she was a child, and she knew that Morrigan was not truly human, but one of the Gregori*. Morrigan also recruited a a halfling scout named Belladonna.  

Morrigan was leading them to Valderhalen Hollow to slay the Beast guarding the Ornament, when Belladonna stumbled upon the Dragon's Circlet and placing it on her finger, caused the Demon Lord's shadow to begin to fall upon the Underworld's Gate.

In her panic to retrieve the Circlet, Morrigan slaughtered most of the dwarfs, but could not locate the halfling, who fled.

It's now three years later and the Underworld's gate is completely occluded and the dead will no longer stay dead.

*The Gregori are Incarnations whose purpose is to watch over humanity. They are Zir the Yellow, Morrigan the Red, and Kaslov the Blue. They are aware that Urth is the Demon Lord's final meal and that His hunger will be only be sated when he consumes it. All of them felt the Circlet's awakening and realize they will be forced to Watch humanity fall.

Currently, Morrigan is desperately seeking the Circlet and will not let anything or anyone stand between her and it.

Zir, is seeking Morrigan for answers to whom uncovered it and where it is, since he can no longer sense it. He believes he has found a way to destroy the Circlet and perhaps deny the Demon Lord it's final meal.

Kaslov, facing an existential crisis at the Circlet's awakening, has turned to drink and debauchery at the Wellspring, a tavern in the Grand Duchy.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Halloween Treat: Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler

I was looking for a haunting read for the season of the witch and I'm a fan of +Rafael Chandler's RPG work so I downloaded his new eBook.

Mr. Chandler took me back to the late 80s, when I was teenager. He made me remember all the movies featuring Freddy, Jason, Michael, and Chucky. He introduced me to several broken characters whose fates are twisting labyrinths of shock and fear. He spawned some memorable slashers who are, in my opinion, much cooler than what we've seen since. And then he cranked it up to 13 and brings the 21st century fully into the slasher genre. As the end approaches the hits just keep coming and you turn the page needing to finish the book, but not knowing what to read when you do.

This book got into my dreams, it is macabre and nostalgic. The ending was perfect for horrror.

Rafael, you need to make this into a movie or a video game one day, but before that you need to make it into an RPG.

I cannot recommend this book enough.

Thank you, Raf.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Halloween Treat: Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath for Shadow of the Demon Lord

"E hu shub niggur ath n gaa ryula neb shoggoth."That's as close as I can come. The mouths was like leaves and the whole thing was like a tree in the wind, a black tree with lots of branches trailing to the ground, and a whole lot of roots ending in hoofs. And that green slime dribbling out of the mouths and down the legs was like sap!...It came crawling up the hillside to the alter and the sacrefice, and it was the black thing of my dreams-that black ropy, slimy, jelly tree-thing out of the woods. It crawled up and it flowed up on its hoofs and mouths and snaky arms. And the men bowed and stood back and then it got to the alter where they was something squirmin on top, squirming and screaming.-Robert Bloch, "Notebook Found In a Deserted House."

Size 3 horrific monster
Perception 10 (+0)
Defense 15; Health 100
Strength 16 (+6)   Agility 12 (+2)   Intellect 8 (-2)   Will 10 (+0)
Speed 12

Immune damage from disease or poison; gaining Insanity; charmed, compelled, frightened
Trampled When a dark young moves into a space
   occupied by a creature on the ground, the creature must make an
   Agility challenge roll. On a failure, it takes 3d6 damage and falls 
   prone. If it’s already prone, it takes 1d6 extra damage. A creature 
   makes this roll once per round per giant regardless of how many 
   times the giant moves through its space.

Tentacle (melee; reach +2) +3 with 2 boons (1d6 plus Too Many 
   Mouths on a 20+) 
Too Many Mouths The target is grabbed and takes 1d3 damage.


Tentacle Flurry The dark young flails at everything in a 3-yard-
   long cone originating from a point it can reach. Each creature in
   the area must make an Agility challenge roll with 1 bane. On a 
   failure, the creature takes 3d6 damage.

Eaten Alive Any creature that is grabbed by the dark young takes 
   1d3 damage.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

1,000 Faces: Dodd Werner

Dodd Werner is about to turn 30 and has spent his life as a "hireling" for various adventurers. He has a reputation for loyalty and intelligence and has been an extra hand in over two dozen expeditions into the world's most dangerous places. However, he's been smart with his coin and is contemplating retirement.

Dodd's (0 level human male fighter) time as an extra hand has earned him bad knees a white streak down the middle of his thick raven-black hair and an eye twitch. 

However, he's made several powerful allies, including the Princess Ravon Malastraud, Erik de Rune, and The Ultracarnist. 

While Dodd is trying to talk himself out of any further expeditions, his reputation proceeds him and at least twice a month brave or foolhardy dungeoneers hope to hire Dodd for his vast experience. He's fairly easy  to find, since he has his own booth at the Yawning Portal in Waterdeep.

Dodd, is 5'11", in fair shape, has an enchanted breast plate (+1/-1 AC), a mace he's named Aggie, and mule named Cotton.  He's recently began courting a schoolmarm, named Rebecca Monroe.

Monday, October 16, 2017

OSR: Optional Spellcasting System [UPDATED]

While I've only played the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG once, I keep hoping to find time to try it out someday. One of the reason is the method that wizards and clerics cast spells: by rolling on a chart for each spell.

It's inspired me to develop a more general chart for other DnD/OSR games.

Whenever a spell is cast, arcane or divine, the caster has the option to roll a d20:

On a roll of 1, the spell fails and the spell slot is lost, additionally the caster gains a cumulative -1 to all d20 rolls when making a Saving throw vs Spells.

On a roll of 2 through 4, the spell fails and the spell slot is lost.

On a roll of 5 through 16, the spell succeeds, but the spell slot is lost.

On a roll of 17 through 19, the spell succeeds and the spell slot is not lost.

On a roll of 20, the target(s) of the spell have a -3 to their d20 rolls when making a Saving throw for that spell.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Halloween Treat: The Headman for Shadow of the Demon Lord

Over the last several years, the legend of the Headman has grown throughout the city. When the decapitated heads of victims were being found in the poorest parts of town with no corpse to be found, many gossiped with morbid glee over the murders. But as the number of victims grew and bodiless heads were found in the Merchant district and even the Banking District, the gossip turned to angry concerns and cries for justice!

 The Council of Burghers has recently created a task force to search out the monstrous killer. The few witnesses that have been found claim to have seen a tall, masked monster with a bloody axe and strange gurgling mutter. A being born of iron and shadow who weapon slices through a full-grown man's neck as if it were wheat.

Size 2 frightening human
Perception 12 (+2)
Defense 14; Health 60
Strength 15 (+5)   Agility 13 (+3)   Intellect 8 (-2)   Will 9 (-1)
Speed 12

Axe (melee) +5 with 2 boons (2d6+2 plus gory 
   blow on attack roll 20+)
Gory Blow The target is impaired until completes a 

Frenzied Attack The headman attacks two different targets with its axe, making each attack roll with 1 bane. 

The Headman is Job Karakas, a former marine and lumberjack, whose mental illness has been used by his cousin, Phineas Blofeld, to gain organs for the black market for wealthy and royal customers. Job was a capable and decorated marine through three campaigns, but he had trouble transitioning to civilian life when peace finally came. He found some peace as a lumberjack, living with Mother until her death. Then lost he sought out his cousin, Phineas, tormented by his Mother's death and his violent past in service to the Marines.

Phineas, who had toiled as a graverobber for several decades, saw the trauma that the war had inflict on Job and convinced his cousin to aid him in his organ harvesting business, claiming their operation would punishing "those in charge" for ignoring his pain and others like him.
  While several of his clients have made the connection between the Headman legend and Blofeld, none have been willing to lose what to them is both a valuable contact and a fearsome opponent.

Size 1 human
Perception 14 (+4)
Defense 12; Health 15
Strength 9 (-1)   Agility 12 (+2)   Intellect 14 (+4)   Will 12 (+2)
Speed 10

Scalpel (melee) +2 with 1 boons (1d3)

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Halloween Treat: Dead Until Dawn Actual Play

Last night, we took a break from my Tamoachan DnD 5E game so that I could run a Halloween game. I chose to run Schwalb Entertainment's Dead By Dawn adventure written by Rob Wieland for Shadow of the Demon Lord.

The adventure comes in at 6 pages and I spent about 20 minutes reading it the night before, making some notes for about 15 minutes the next day, and then a final pass about 5 mintues before we started playing later the same night.

The set up is that the Players (all starting characters or 0 level in DnD) are staying at the Goathorne Inn (The two owners pronounce it differenty, by the way) close to a road winding through a foreboding forest.

My opening scene was set a bit before dinner and gave the Players, an orc, a human ex-marine, a human student of religion and magic, and an inquisitive human healer, time to meet each other and introduce them to Gelda and Ananda, dwarven adventurers who have settled down to run the Inn and their empolyee, Bester, a fair-haired kid.

Soon, dinner was ready and Ananada asked David, the magician, to go fetch Horvath, a local staying with them, from upstairs. Horvath's door was locked and David called for help, Ananda sent the keys to the room up with Matt, the healer. After they got the door open open, they found Horvath, naked upon his bed and dead for at least 24 hours. Amongst his belongings was a fur pouch with mystical symbols, identifying it as a blood ritual to David. At that moment, Horvath rose and began uttering a curse, but Matt used his dagger to stab the corpse in the head. The pair called up the rest of the group and as they spoke about him rising as a zombie they began to hear moaning and beating upon doors and the shattering of first floor windows. 

The group sprang into action and began beating back zombies in the kitchen and then fortified the rest of the house.

David learned that the ritual was a protection from an evil tree that grew in the forest and that Horvath was to complete it. He explained that if they could survive until dawn, the tree's power would collapse under the daylight and they would be safe until the next nightfall.

Dead Until Dawn presents a system for a five part siege, with each part lasting 2 hours. During each part a player can attempt to fortify, rest from fatigue, heal, work the ritual, or run for supplies. If the ritual is worked, it requires blood and the more blood offered the fewer zombies might appear for that part, however it is best to use the caster's own blood, as another's blood adds Banes (my Player's did this for 2 parts before they caught on). Fortifying can also help reduce the number of zombies that appear for that part.

After actions are declared, there a d20 table for Unusual Events which affects, often negatively, that part. Finally, there is a Threat rating for the zombies for that part, if the ritual succeeds, the number of blood spent allows the players to remove specific undead (comprised of Animated Corpses and Zombies from the SotDL rule book). The number of successful fortification roles for that part also can lower the Threat rating (which defaults to 2). Additionally, if Gelda, Ananda, or Bester help to a Player, they add Boons to the roll.

It's a well done way to organize the chaos of a zombie siege and my Players and I loved it.

My group managed to make it until dawn, as David, their magician ran very low on blood, but the Orc, Benth, spent most of the night learning the ritual so he could finish it for the last 2 hour part. Sadly, Bester died (due to a roll on the Unusual Events table that would have required someone to go outside after him).

When dawn broke, the Orc (who had suffered an insanity) and Ananda (who was already a bit unstable) left the area together. Gelda, however agreed to accompany the other into the forest to take care of the evil tree.

My one-shot has turned into a (at least) a two-parter.

I can't recommend Dead Until Dawn enough!

Great game for a great Halloween Adventure.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Shameless Self-Promotion

I just wanted to take a minute and spotlight Cross Plane's Products on the and

I released a new product for the first time in over a year last week and I'm developing some other projects at the moment.

Products on for the Black Hack and the Cypher System.

Products on the for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Blueholme Jorneymanne Rules

I've taken a keen interest in the OSR again and I've been exploring what  separate Holmes' Basic from B/X and BECMI. Thanfully, Michael Thomas of Dreamscape Design allowed me access to a PDF copy of his Blueholme Journeymanne Rules for review purposes.

For those not in the know, Blueholme Prentice and Journeymanne Rules are based on Dr. Holmes version of the first Basic DnD published by TSR, which only went to 3rd level (as so do the Prentice Rules).

The Journeymanne Rules go all the way to 20th level.

Some key aspects of Dr. Holmes and the Journeymanne Rules are that weapons only do a d6 of damage, not all Ability scores modify things in the game, Races and Classes are separate, there are far more spells than in B/X by Moldvay and Cook, and nearly any Race or Creature in the game can be used by a player.

First let's talk about the look of the book, which is 121 pages. The blue cover is well illustrated and find the imagery inviting. It channels the feel of it's inspiration very well.  The interior art is all black and white and I find it's quality to be exceptional and for the pieces to hit the right tone.

What drew me to read the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules was that it delivered a complete ruleset across 20 full levels. And it fully delivers on it's mission.

If you are familiar with DnD or most retroclones you know what to expect for Ability scores. However, in Blueholme Strength and Wisdom Ability scores provide no bonus.

Races are not specifically laid out, because with some advice in Chapter 6 any monster can be used as a Race for your game and it's up to the Dungeon Master to determine what Classes are open. Additionally, the Monster descriptions provide a good overview for the DM to use.

The Classes are the Big 4 we all know and love. The biggest change I've noticed is that Fighters get a damage bonus starting at level 4, which I approve of as a fitting class feature.

Combat is as you expect with Descending AC and AC that defaults to 9 unarmored, but a section of siege weapons is included.

The Creatures section is very extensive and takes up nearly 30 pages.

The Spell section is much longer than what I've seen in DnD B/X or Labyrinth Lord and also covers nearly 30 pages. I'm very impressed with the amount of Spells presented and they go up to 7th level for Clerics and 9th level for Magic-Users.

One of the bright spots for me, as a tool for newer DMs, is Part 8's focus on running Campaigns and breaking things down by Setting, Goals, Villain, Sub-Plots, Factions, and Rumors. And further defining the setting by the Underworld, Wilderness, and the Realm.

What impresses me about Blueholme is that is very much draws inspiration for the very roots of our hobby, but it's treatment highlights how playable those roots still are, while fleshing them out and extending the game itself.

I really can't recommend Blueholme Journeymanne Rules enough. The Prentice Rules are free if you are intrigued and if you like what you read then please pick up the full rules.

Michael's work has shown me why 30+ years later Dr. Holmes version of DnD is not merely relevant but very, very playable and of a style we often don't associate with other editions.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

GameStorming: Running a World of Warcraft game with Blueholme Journeymanne

I've been wanting to run a game using an older edition of DnD and I've been thinking about running a game set in Azeroth with the players being part of the Horde.

I've recently gotten the opportunity to review Dreamscape Design's Blueholmes Journeymanne Edition Edited by Michael Thomas. I had been thinking of using BECMI's Orcs of Thar for the basis of the game but Blueholmes' approach to races works so well that I think it would fit much better.

I'm not looking to emulate the WoW classes in Holmes' Basic DnD, just run a game there. In my initial brainstorm I've contemplated running Keep on the Borderlands, actually, as I've never run it before. In this instance "the Borderlands" would be between the Horde and Alliance. Perhaps in this version of the story the Caves of Chaos are instead tainted by Demons of the Burning Legion or some site important to the machinations of Sargeras.

It's very much in the beginning phases and I still have a 5E game to finish running first.

I should have my review up for Blueholmes Journeymanne Edition up in a few days.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Halloween Treat: Scroll Golem for Labyrinth Lord

   "We need to be careful.  My research indicates this was the lair of a clone of Heironomous Ludwig Von Damme, the Ultrarcanist of Dath.  He was served by all kinds of twisted beings of his own creation" said the Magic-User.

   "I heard he created a golem that could cast spells" said the Thief.

   "What?! A golem that can cast spells? cried the Fighter.

   "Yes, I have heard that his golems were made of spell scrolls" said the Magic-User.

   The Thief and the Fighter turned to look at the Magic-User and then all three look to their leader, the Dwarf.

   "The time for second thoughts is well past, manlings" said the Dwarf.

  The Thief grumbled to himself, "A spellcasting golem," and moved to let the Dwarf take point.

Scroll Golem 
for Labyrinth Lord
AL N, MV 60', AC 6, HD 7, #AT 1 [claws or spells], THAC0 13, DG 1d6, SV 4 fighter, ML 12 XP 320

At the start of each of the scroll golem’s turns, roll a d6:

1: The golem does not cast a spell and will attack the nearest enemy with it's claws.

2: The golem casts invisibility.

3: The golem casts 1 magic missile.

4: The golem casts magic missiles

5: The golem casts lightning bolt.

6: The golem casts power word stun.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Halloween Treat: Disembodied Hand for Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Atticus Crumb was a wicked sort, a thief and murderer who gave much more than his heart to the Witch Woman of Krek. Those that knew him swore it was because he was from Nulb, a retched hovel to the northeast.

When the adventuring party known as the Hunters in Scarlet caught up to Atticus, the bounty on his head was for returning the criminal dead or alive.  Since Atticus put up a terrible fight, their enchanter tossed magical fire upon the black-hearted murderer, leaving only his hand left intact.

When the Hunters went to the city of Bant to collect the bounty they were disgusted that no reward would be given for just Atticus' hand. 

Angry, the Hunters stalked out of town, simply tossing Crumb's dead hand into the weeds.

Three nights later, it stirred and skulked about, finding a badger's burrow and killing it's inhabitant. And so that is how Atticus' hand proceed for several weeks, skulking about by night and finding a hiding place in the day. Until he found the shepherd boy, out after dark because of a lost lamb. The boy fright paralyzed him and Crumb's hand strangled him, crushing the bones in his neck with it's inhuman strength.

Even a city the size of Bant has begun to notice the string of strangulations, many in their own bed. Twenty three dead so far and the fear mounts each night.

Duchess Karkull has sent out notices for adventurers, those stout of heart to root out and destroy whatever is stalking their city at night.

Art by Quasilucid

Atticus Crumb's Disembodied Hand
for Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Armor 15, Movement 35’, 3 Hit Die, claw 2d4, Morale 8, Climb 5, Sneak Attack 4, Stealth 4.
The hand is nocturnal but will often find refuge from the daylight in a home for several days as it learns the owner's schedule. When active it skulks about hiding easily and prefer's to strike when it's victim is most vulnerable. Due to it's evil presence, spotted violet and red mushrooms quickly begin growing around any doors of structures it resides in, dying within 1d3 days after it moves on.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

OSR: A Skill System

While building monsters for Kevin Crawford's excellent Silent Legions, I saw that a monster's save is 15 - HD (round up).  This inspired an idea for a skill system for early editions of DnD and the rest of the OSR.

Essentially, each Ability score will have an Ability Throw equal to 15 - 1/2 the Ability score (round down). To make an Ability Throw, simply roll equal to or above the Save.
E.G. Thaniel Dusk, a 3rd level Thief has a DEX of 13; his Ability Throw for DEX is 15 - 6 = 9.

I know that rolling under an ability score is very straightforward but, but I like that it is a roll high mechanic.

Halloween Treat: W'ndygo for Labyrinth Lord

The Grey Forest takes up about 1/5th of the country of Qent, a stark, foreboding place that nearly divides the lands in half. Many legends have been born from the place, witches, beast men, and even spiders the size of hunting hounds. One of the most enduring stories comes from the elves who have settled the Forest's southwest area and have traded with humans for decades.

As the story goes, Aengus Swiftrunner was always a rude and unruly sort, quiet and distant for an elf and cruel like a human. He preferred his own company to their great tribe and would hunting for days on end, alone, amongst the Forest.  After one trip lasted longer than a full week, his cousin, Brenneth Shiningstar was asked to find Aengus by his mother, Aela. Bren, a friendly young elf, took some friends to search for his cousin, because Aela was his favorite aunt. 

After three days and nights the group found an area of the forest that smelled of rot and decay and where no forest sounds could be heard. Soon, they came upon a foul shrine of bones and skulls and wooden bowls, thirteen in all, filled with dark blood. Nenya Stormheart, Bren's intended wife, had apprenticed under Shaman Nighthawk and knew it to be a shrine to W'ndygo, the Devourer. She invoked the protection of the Huntress and begged her beloved and their friends to leave at once.

However, Bren not wanting to let down his favorite aunt, refused to leave, fearing Aengus could have fallen prey to the loathsome warlock that entreated to the Devourer. He resolved to camp nearby for the night and to ambush this blackest of magicians and to hopefully find out his cousin's fate.

Night seemed to come quickly and this friends, though nervous, stood by their friend. First came the screams, as if an elf was being attacked, pleading for help. Against Bren's wishes two of his companions went into the dark and all that could be heard were their pain-filled screams that lasted far, far too long.

Next came the howling wind that took Bren's best friend, the elf who was to be his Second upon his wedding day to fair Nenya, driving him fiercely against first a hearty oak and then an ancient ash before finally yanking him, unconscious straight up into the night sky. Minutes later, blood and gore rained down upon Bren and Nenya, a foul and grisly rain.

As Bren ran to his beloved, a gaunt hand with impossibly long claws burst through Nenya's chest, her heart in hand. Numb and struck dumb Bren stopped as the monster before him let Nenya's lifeless corpse fall to the ground as it began to tear at hear like a ripe and juicy apple. Though smeared with gore, the monster's body  emaciated and warped, Bren recognized the face of his cousin, Aengus.

Between bites of heartmeat, Aengus told Brenneth to leave now and warn their people to never return. That Aengus claimed this part of the forest for W'ndygo and that any elf who trespassed would meet a worse fate than he Bren had just witnessed.

Overcome with fear and grief and even madness, Brenneth fled then and told his tale.

And his tribe has heeded his warning to this day.

Aengus Swiftrunner, W'ndygo 

for Labyrinth Lord
AL C, MV 60', AC 6, HD 8, #AT 3 [2 claws/bite], THAC0 12, DG 1d8/1d8/1d10, SV 5 fighter, ML 11, Move Silently 63%, Climb Walls 94%, Hide in Shadows 57% XP 320

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Halloween Treat: Wolf of Narr for Lamentations of the Flame Princess

For the past three moons a vicious animal has been stalking the farms around the village of Narr. And in that time 3 cows, 2 mules, 1 horse, and 3 dogs were it's victims. However, on the first night of this month's full moon, Jesper Connick, a farmer on the southern border of Narr was found dead on his porch by paid hands that were helping the widower with the harvest. Currently Preacher Lonn Tillswell, a Priest of the Sunbringer, and the village Sheriff, Enya McDuff are investigating the gruesome murder.

Already rumors have reached the Bullfinch Public House that Connick was torn apart and some villagers have already decided that it's the work of the gypsy band that rolled into the village two weeks ago. Deptuty Haas Dylon is doing his best to calm the village-folk, especially after hearing word that Sheriff McDuff sought advice from the gypsy elder, Yvitra Demeter.

Tensions are high and McDuff has noticed that the attacks all have occurred on the nights of the full moon for the last several months. Demeter has advised her to follow her instincts and that she should prepare for the worst. McDuff is looking for anyone to turn to for help.

The village and the farmlands surrounding it encompass about 6 square miles of mostly moors with forest on it's northern border. It is a day's ride from the Hexenschulle, the Old Empire's premier school of wizardry and hosts some of the faculty and students during their holidays.

The creature that the village is facing is a Werewolf who made a pact with Chernobog and was given a belt that allows him to assume the form of a hybrid monstrosity on the three nights of the full moon. The werewolf's name is Geneveve Dubois, a 4th year student of the Hexenschulle who had begun an affair with one of her professors, Meritus Hammit. When she told Professor Hammit she was pregnant, he used his skill with alchemy to cause a miscarriage and then fabricated evidence that she had broken into his alchemical store, causing her to be expelled. Her grief eventually turned to a craving for retribution and she made her pact with Chernobog. She has spent the last three months learning to use her new magic and is preparing for next month when Hammit will holiday in Narr.

Werewolf for Lamentations of the Flame PrincessArmor 17, Movement 60’, 6 Hit Die, 2 claws 1d6 & bite 1d6, Morale 10. The werewolf's belt allows it's wearer to assume the form on the 3 nights of the full moon.

Geneveve Dubois 2nd level Magic-User, Armor 10, Movement 30’, 2 Hit Die, dagger 1d4, Morale 10.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Halloween Treat: Pitch Steed for Dungeon Crawl Classics

Pitch Steed: Init +4; Atk hoof +6 melee (1d8+3); AC 15; HD 6d8; MV 60’; Act 1d20; SP immune to damage from fire or heat; SV Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +3; AL C. 

Ask anyone in the Duchy of St. Cuthbert how Black Hill got its name and they'll tell you about Old Night Hill, whose ancient megaliths were plundered to settle and defend the town.  

But ask an elder of Black Hill and they will look about, spit on the ground and tell you the tale of Sonya Haas and her unfaithful husband, Jasper and the Pitch Steed she conjured forth with her spite and her blood and her innocence. 

Riding the beast, she harried Jasper down for a full day and night before murdering him and the harlot he was cavorting with.

Most agree, Sonya is long dead, but that starless stallion may still be seen stalking the lands around Black Hill.  Some say its looking for a rider craving vengeance, so that it may have purpose once again.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Halloween Treat: C.H.U.D. for Silent Legions

Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller for Silent Legions

AC: 9
HD: 1
Atks: Bite +4 

Dmg: 1d6
Skill: +1
Special: Radioactive* 

Move: 30'
Morale: 7
Madness: 1d4
Save: 14+

It turns out there are monsters lurking beneath the streets; beings that were once human, but have been mutated by radioactive, chemical toxic waste into hideous, flesh-eating creatures that prey on the homeless who live in the underground. Given the recent drop in the underground transient population, the creatures have resorted to coming to the surface through sewer manholes in order to feed. 

(If you like this post and others like it and have an extra $1 a month, please consider becoming a Patron of Cross Planes on Patreon.)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Halloween Treats: The Flatwood Monster for Silent Legions

AC: 3
HD: 6
Atks: Claws +4 x2 

Dmg: 1d8
Skill: +3
Special: Radioactive* 

Move: 50'
Morale: 12
Madness: 1d8
Save: 11+

*Enemies risk radiation poisoning from the monster; being hit by it or remaining near it for more than a minute or two forces a Physical Effect save. On a failure, the victim’s Constitution score decreases by one point. Only one point of attribute loss in inflicted in a given encounter will return over the next month.

"Various descriptions of the entity exist. Most describe it as being at least 7 feet tall, with a black body and a dark, glowing face. Witnesses described the creature's head as elongated, shaped like a sideways diamond, and as having non-human eyes; a large, circular cowling appeared behind the head. The creature's body was described as "inhumanly-shaped" and clad in a dark, pleated skirt-like exoskeleton, later described as a shadow.

Some accounts record that the creature appeared to have "no visible arms" due to its incredible speed, while others reported long, stringy arm"s, protruding from the front of its body, with long, claw-like fingers.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Labyrinth Lord: Thundercat Race As Class

Thundercat for Labyrinth Lord

Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: Dex and Wis
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: 14

Abilities Roll a d6 and gain the following special ability at 1st level.
1: Find and Remove Traps as a Thief of half your level (round up).
2: Move Silently as a Thief of half your level (round up).
3: Climb Walls as a Thief of half your level (round up).
4: Hide in Shadows as a Thief of half your level (round up).
5: Hear Noise as a Thief of half your level (round up).
6: Gain a +3 to Charisma.

A Thundercat cannot wear armor heavier than padded, but may use a shield. Additionally, they can use any weapon.

Level   XP       HD      AC0     D/P    W         P     W      S     
1            0        1d8       19        12      13        14       12     17 
2        2,187     2d8       19        13      12        14       12     17 
3        4,375     3d8       18        13      12        14       12     17 
4        8,751     4d8       17        10      10        12       10     15 
5       17,501    5d8       16        10      10        12       10     15 
6       35,001    6d8       15        10      10        12       10     15 
7       70,001    7d8       14          9        9        10         8     13 
8      140,001    8d8      14          9        9        10         8     13 
9      280,001    9d8      13          9        9        10         8     13 
10    400,001   10d8     12          7        7          8         6     11 
11    540,001    11d       12          7        7          8         6    11 
12    660,001    12d8     11          7        7          8         6    11 
13    780,001    13d8     10          5        5          6         4      9 
14    900,001    14d8       9          5        5          6         4      9 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Character Crucible: Acererak, A Warlock Otherworldly Patron for D&D 5th Edition is NOW LIVE!

I've stepped back into the realm of publishing on the DMsGuild.

I've just released a new Warlock Otherworldly Patron, this one devoted to Acererak the Forgotten One, architect of both the Tomb of Horrors and the Tomb of Annihilation.

It's a 3 page PDF and is On Sale for $1.99.

You can find it here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Counter Culture: Selling DnD vs Pathfinder

Counter Culture is, possibly, a new series where I relate my experiences as the Gaming Manager at Comic Book World, Inc., my family's two stores in Kentucky.

I've been doing my job there for almost 18 years, so I've watched the end of ADnD 2nd Edition, the rise of DnD 3, 4, and 5 and the rise of Pathfinder.

Today, I'm going to talk about my experiences selling both of them.

Many people talk about Pathfinder beating DnD, but for my stores that only occurred after Wizards of the Coast pulled the plug on DnD 4E and the period they didn't release very much.

While Pathfinder has always been a Top 3 Seller for me, it's never sold like any edition of DnD for me. I don't attribute this to not being popular, however, I attribute this to the phenomenal job Paizo has done selling directly to customers. In my experience their Subscription program has sustained them through the years and will continue to do so. While I understand how important the program is for their success, for us, it comes at the cost of numerous sales. In fact, I doubt that they could sustain the large number of supplements each year without the program.

Meanwhile, DnD 5E has been an amazing launch. I can't say that it eclipsed 3E's launch (but that was hard to do, after the death of 2E and the $20 books), but it has come close. Additionally, unlike 3.X and 4.X (I consider Essentials 4.5), the sales are growing and while we enter a period in the product's history around the time that we would previously see a ".5" edition, I'm seeing incredible sales growth as new and still returning players discover this edition. It's a real treat to see how the current DnD Team is treating the brand and making, to me, very intelligent decisions, the slower release schedule has galvanized fans and allowed them to better keep up with the product line.

Understand, while I might a preference between the two games as a player and gamemaster, I want to see both games succeed as a retailer. It's always good to have multiple choices to give to your customers.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hackable: An ADnD Skill System Inspired by Saving Throw Priority

I had a brainstorm for an alternative to Non-Weapon Proficiencies in ADnD 2E.

Every Class, except for Wizards use their Saving Throw for Spells for any Skill check they might need to make. Wizards use their Save for Paralyzation, Poison, or Death magic. 

If a character has an appropriate Non-Weapon Proficiency (NWP, hereafter), then every Class, except for Wizards, use their Saving Throw for Paralyzation, Poison, or Death Magic. Wizards us their Save for Spells.

Additional NWP ranks add a +1 to the die roll of the Skill check.

Thieves, Bards, and Rangers get to use their Percentile Skills in addition to making a Skill check. They roll their Percentile Skill first, if it succeeds, no Skill check is necessary. But if the Percentile Skill fails, they may then roll a Skill check.

This idea is based off of ADnD 2E's Saving Throw Priority.

D&D: November's Unearthed Arcana

This month's Unearthed Arcana for DnD 5E just went live. It features 4 Elven sub-races which includes Grugach from Greyhawk and Shad...