Tuesday, June 20, 2017

D&D: The Faithful, the Pious, and the Zealous

As I prep returning to our Epic Level DnD 5E game, I intend to focus on the grander aspects of DnD: the Multiverse, Ancient Fiends and Celestials, and the Gods. Recently I was pondering how the number of worshipers would effect and empower deities. It led me thinking of a God waging war simply to gain more worshipers in a particular Prime Material Plane. And then something occurred to me, what about Evil Gods? 

In the worlds I create, there may be certain nations that worship evil deities, but more often than not their followers belong to secret cabals and conspiracies, with far smaller numbers of worshippers. Yet, I often grant these evil deities the same powers of Civilized Gods, if not more so (and more freedom to interfere in the affairs of mortals). If quantity is the only concern of Gods, then evil deities (not assuming cultural perspective) shouldn't pose much threat or the world is a very, very dark place.

With that in mind, what if the quality of devotion is just as, if not more important, than the quantity of followers?

Yes, the God of the Sun may have 30,000 worshipers within the Old Empire, but how many of them are truly inspired by their God? Truly worship him beyond a general thanks for not living in the Wilderlands outside of the Empire's borders?

Meanwhile, the Goddess of Chaos may have less than 500 worshipers, but they mostly devoted zealots, their entire lives dedicated to their Lady's whims.  

Further, perhaps mystery and fear compound a God's power? While most in the Old Empire know little of the Elder Elemental Eye, they know to fear it and that fear is even diverted to the Eye. 

For me it helps to focus and explain the power of the mortal soul in the Games of Gods and why even the most reviled and unknown deity still poses a threat within the multiverse and your campaign.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Saturday Morning Tabletop RPG Core

I was provided a PDF review copy of Saturday Morning Tabletop RPG Core by Nefthalie Ramos and published by Infinite Roleplay.

Are you a fan of 80's saturday morning cartoons, DnD 5E, or games like Cartoon Action Hour? Then Saturday Morning Tabletop (SMTT from here on out) is the game you've been waiting for!

The writing, layout, and art are appealing, fun, and conveys information extremely well.

I heard about SMTT because of the PWYW version and immediately new I wanted to see more.

It opens by discussing, appropriately enough, Rating Systems for your game, based on ages. And then it goes into a key component of the game Awesome Power, which is based on Size (though Class abilities and Feats let you increase this) and reminds me a bit of Mythic Power in Pathfinder. Awesome Power determines what you can do when facing someone of lesser, equal, or greater AP. You will never be able to grapple, for instance, someone with greater AP than you.

SMTT takes 5E and stretches it pretty far, redoing races and classes from the ground up. In fact, if the tone weren't so lighthearted, I believe it would have been spotlighted more by now.

SMTT succeeds as an amazing evolution of DnD 5E.

Races include all of our favorites (though altered for fun) and new ones such as Changelings, Wild Men (a subrace is Yeti), Caretakers (think constructs), Reavers (Dragonborn, sort of), and cat people (who range from running on all fours, to centaur like hybrids, to humanoid).

The Classes are Barbarian (including a Shaman inspired by World of Warcraft and Druids), Knights (where we find our Paladins), Lawmen (including Gunslingers), Peformers (Warrior Poets, Fortune Tellers), Priests (Healmonkeys), Sorcerers (which cool soul bonds to round out their heritages), Thieves (no, not Rogues), Warriors (Massive Weapon Warriors), and Wizards (Spellbarons). Additionally, Classes gain a flat number of hit points + Con Modifier each level.

While most of what we know of 5E is there, it's been expanded and each class has had more mechanical system integrated (things like maneuvers, anger, or performance just to name a few). Yes, you recognize 5E in here, but you also see expansion and nods to DnD's past and other games that have drawn upon it's roots.

Feats include things like 26 Inch Pythons, Beast Blood: Boa (you can turn into a snake), Tall Dark and Ugly (one of several Feats that lets you lower an Ability Score to 6 and that cannot be improved, but increases your AP), and Hyperactive. I'm not sure I would import most of these into a traditional 5E game, but they are well thought out and mechanically sound.

The Experience table has been altered as well, for instance it only requires 18 XP to reach level 10 and it includes how much to award players for a successful and failed encounter at the appropriate level.

Magic uses a spell points system called Mana Well and allows spells to be Overcharged (by doubling the amount of Mana needed). Spells are presented by Schools, that include Bartleby's School of Arcane Shaping, The Creeping Dark, and Visage of the Beast).

The Gear chapter covers mundane and magical weapons, combat, and the fact that heroes never die. Yep, you read that right, you'll get Haggard and Exhausted, but you won't die (though you might turn evil).

For the DM we have the Evildoer Toolkit that is a great asset for new and veteran DM's who want help building encounters. It categories foes by power level and/or Size and it's presentation reminds me of how FantasyCraft handled enemies, though clearer, in my opinion.

All that a DM needs is in this section, including particular types of special actions for their evildoers and 4 specific foes are detailed.

Pros If you want a fun variation of 5E that channels G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, or She-Ra, this game is for you. If you want a gonzo ruleset firmly rooted in 5E and well designed, this game is also for you.

Cons It's gonzo and it's premise channels saturday morning cartoons, which, I guess isn't for everybody...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Importing 13th Age's Quick Rests and Full Heal-Ups

13th Age is a game I would run more if it covered different ground than DnD 5E. My groups, and I can't blame them, basically have said, "Why don't we just play DnD, instead of learning 13th Age?" So I find myself with little outlet for 13th Age at the moment.

However, while reading the 13th Age core rulebook while contemplating using the Escalation die in my Epic Forgotten Realms game later this summer/fall, I was reminded of how 13th Age handles Quick Rests (essentially right after a battle) and Full Heal-Ups (roughly every 4 battles).

It got me thinking about trying that in DnD. My groups play for 2-3 hours tops and we have kept our eye on making sure the different class resources are handled as fairly as possible. While I can't say it's been a huge issue, I wondered about giving this method a try.

Has anyone imported this system into 5E? 

Any experiences, thoughts, or opinions are welcome.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: Powers Beyond - A Superpowered Roleplaying Epic by Epic Age Media

Epic Age Media provided me with a PDF copy of Powers Beyond: A Superpowered Roleplaying Epic, written by James Shade, for review purposes.

I'm a super hero RPG junkie. My first RPG was Champions 4E and soon after I owned Heroes Unlimited. I've played and run DC Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes, GURPS Supers, Mutants and Masterminds, etc. When I saw Powers Beyond I was curious and I liked the cover, so I contacted James who was kind enough to provide me with a PDF nearly a year ago. You might be wondering why it's taken that long to write a review? Well, simply put, as of today, the PDF still doesn't explain the games resolution system (James has assured me it uses a d10), but I'm not sure how to review a game when the PDF available to the public, doesn't feature that information.

I'll do my best to share what I do know for certain about Powers Beyond, though.

Layout reminds me quite a bit of Mayfair's DC Heroes 3rd Edition softcover, it's open and the text flows well, with the right column typically reserved for charts. It's colorful and the illustrations are all decent, though a bit amateurish. I'm not sure the font is my favorite, it's been thin for my old eyes, but it's not a deal breaker.

Part One is 90 pages long:

When creating a character you choose an Origin (Alien Life Form, Cyborg, Mage Spawn, Mind Master, to name a few) which adjusts your Vital Statistics (your attributes).

The Vital Statistics are Muscular Power, Mental Acuity, and Physical Agility and they range from 1 to 40. Vital Statistics are assigned by rolling 5d10 and picking the 3 highest number rolled and placing them where you want them. Secondary Values also exist and they are Damage Bonus (1/5 Muscular Power) and Knock Out and Fatality (both 10 x Muscular Power) ; Intelligence Bonus ( 1/5 Mental Acuity) and your RAD or Range/Area/Duration for powers (which is 10 x Mental Acuity); and finally, Initiative Bonus (1/5 Physical Agility) and Movement rate (which is 10 x Physical Agility).

Powers are defined as Major (you choose 1), Minor (you choose 2), and Variations (ways to refine a power). Regardless of wether a power is Major or Minor, it has a Base Power at it's core, which dictates what, if any, Variations are available. There are 8 categories of powers and they represent the super hero genre well. While it's not required, you can take Weaknesses (up to 3), that can give you extra Variations, Base powers, and Major powers.

You gain a number of Skills equal to your Intelligence bonus which are taken from a traditional list (additionally, instead of buying an additional skill, you may add a +1 to it per slot).

Experience is called Training and translates into Power Ups that let you do thinks like gain a Power (Magespawn's only), gain or improve Skills, improve Powers, or gain or improved dice. You gain a Power Up based on the DM's choice, much like DnD 5E's Milestone system.

There are rules for vehicles and accessories, as well, but I don't have a system laid out before me on how to perform task resolution, which is far more important, in my opinion.

Part Two is 122 pages long:

It contains a fairly typical setting, a 6 page adventure, fiction, creatures, foes, rumors, a demonstration of the game (that STILL doesn't explain task resolution), the Ultimate Scenario Generator (which is Trademarked--no, I'm NOT joking and has your roll a d20 or a d12 over 5 charts).

The setting isn't going to set the world on fire and may be useful to new gamers, but nothing new to share here.

Pros I don't have any, unless you loved TSR's Indiana Jones game, there is no reason to buy a game that has been for sale over a year without a task resolution system.

Cons see above, but if I had $20 for this PDF, even with a task resolution system, I'd feel cheated. I understand art is costly, but the Mutants and Masterminds PDF is the same price and there is no comparison here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Hexers Role Playing Game Board

Earlier this week I saw the Hexers RPG Game Board mentioned on G+ and I immediately decided to order it.

And it just came in today:

Here is in the Box!

Folded up in the Box.

Unfolded 1" Squares.

Unfolded Hexes.

Drawing some scenery with a Dry Erase Marker.
After wiping off the Marker.

Now, I haven't used it yet for a session, but I really like it so far and will use it ASAP.

I really dig folding it up verses rolling a map up and it lays very flat.

I'm giving this 2 BIG Thumbs Up.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Queen of Chaos: Immortal Combat

For my DnD players in our Friday Game, if you are reading this please, move along.

Last November, my Friday players hit 20th Level. I wasn't ready for an Epic game, as I hadn't worked it all out yet, so we started playtesting a dungeon that we should be finished with before it releases in September. And I think I've got the foundations in place for a epic battle amongst the Multiverse.

Long has Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath lusted after the Raven Queen's divinity presiding over Death, Fate, and Winter. For centuries he has plotted against her, his corpulence rippling like bitter storm stirring a toxic lake in his quest to usurp her. He has tasted merely a drop of her powers, centuries ago, as he began to probe the young goddess, after she had conspired against Nerull

In that exchange, Orcus offered the Raven Queen a weapon of the purest darkness, Black Razor. His price was, ostensibly for the his old ally, the Queen of Chaos and it was for Miska the Wolf-Spider's prison to be moved from the Shadowfell's Demiplane of Dread and Desire, which was created to house the Wolf-Spider, to be moved to the Abyss. The Raven Queen, vastly underestimating the Prince of Undeath, did not realize that their pact would give that portion of the Demiplane of Dread and Desire to the Demon Lord and transfer it to Pandemonium. Yes, the Raven Queen had Black Razor, but a portion of her power had been eternally lost to Orcus, infuriating her.

However, the Raven Queen has been watching what has been occurring within the Abyss, as several Demon Lords have escaped to the Prime Material Plane of Faerún, including Orcus, the death of Tiamat at the hands of a Cabal of chromatic dragons, and the disappearance of Lolth. It has lead her to reach out to the Queen of Chaos to solicit support, believing that they might find common ground in their enmity of Orcus.

For her part, the Raven Queen still claims to have some hold over the portion of the Demiplane of Dread and Desire that holds the Queen of Chaos' lover and general, Miska the Wolf-Spider in Pandemonium. And the Queen of Chaos, for her part, has claimed that she can enchant Black Razor to slay Orcus, once and for all. Of course, all that she requires is the freedom of her beloved and the opportunity to rule the Abyss, for the Raven Queen to walk away after the Prince of Undeath is slain.

All that either Queen requires now are heroes, valiant or foolish enough to go after Orcus and slay him. Although, for her part, the Raven Queen has much to offer her champions. Saint Cuthbert has been trapped within the Demiplane of Dread and Desire and she can offer his freedom in exchange for their service. Additionally, the Raven Queen is older and wiser now and she is prepared to use Miska as a bargaining chip. Now all she has to do is lure her champions into their service, with Death, Undeath, Fate, and Winter all hanging in the balance.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Blank Page Has Been Winning

Back in April personal life got in the way here and derailed my daily posting. Nothing earth-shattering just changes in my professional and family life. Stuff that has worked out well, but something had to give and Cross Planes was it.

But that's not the full story either. 

Since December I've been struggling with inspiration for posts, which is odd because ideas are usually fast flowing for me. But at the same time I have been approaching the blog with a more professional attitude, trying to grow readership and even some monetization. Maybe that was the wrong attitude or maybe I just needed a break? I'm feeling better about the whole thing because the other night, as I was struggling to think of something to post, I just decided to not let the blank page win anymore.

I can't promise this to ever be the best written or most creative blog in the world and I'm owning that. I have several bloggers that truly impress me and I hope to one day be even half as good as they are, but we will just have to see.

Thanks for joining me.

Fiendish Foes: Crypt Thing for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

A pale, solitary skeletal being which always wears a brown, hooded robe, the crypt thing stays in its lair permanently (at least, none have been encountered elsewhere) and will not attack if it is left undisturbed.

Its special power is its unfailing ability to cast an improved form of a teleportation spell on a party.

Medium undead, neutral evil

Armor Class 16
Hit Points 18 (4d8 + 4) 
Speed 30 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
14 (+2)        13 (+1)        16 (+3)        11 (+0)      10 (+0)      9 (-1)
Damage Resistance bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical weapons
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, poison
Senses darkvision 90 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages common
Challenge 1 (100 XP)
Patient. A crypt thing will not attack if it is left undisturbed.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. 
Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) slashing damage.

Banish (Recharge 6). As an action, the crypt thing attempts to teleport each creature within 30' in a random direction. The targets must make  DC 13 Constitution saving throws or be teleported 1000'. Roll a d6 for each target to determine the direction they are teleported: A roll of 1 is north, 2 is east, 3 is south, 4 is west, 5 is one dungeon level above their current location, or a 6 is one dungeon level below their current level.
   If any of the targets would arrive in a place already occupied by an object or a creature, the target will take 4d6 force damage.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

RPG Blog Carnival June: Gonzo and Cross-Genre Gameing

I have participated in the RPG Blog Carnival before, but this is my first time hosting. You can learn more about the Carnival and even visit it's archives at Johnn Four's Roleplaying Tips.

During June, Cross Planes will act as the "Central Stack" for all of these articles. If you choose to contribute (please, please do) I would be eternally grateful if you left in the Comments belwo with a link to your article.

This month's theme is:

Gonzo and Cross-Genre Gaming

Let's look at gonzo for a moment, we're talking about crazy, madcap, anachronistic adventures. Games like Gamma World, Rifts, Feng Shui, Over the Edge, Exalted, World of Synnabar, and Paranoia.

Cross-Genre games are like chocolate and peanut butter (you hope, at least), mixing two or more inspirations for something new. Games like Rifts, Deadlands, TORG, and settings such as CthulhuPunk for GURPS, Pulp Cthulhu, ADnD's Spelljammer and Planescape, Nocturnals for Mutants and Masterminds (truthfully, most super hero games are cross-genre).

Gods, Magic Weapons, M-60s and Bazookas? Hela, yeah! 

The name of my blog, Cross Planes, in fact is an homage to pulp fiction as the name was inspired by Robert E. Howard's hometown of Cross Plains, TX. And in my mind's eye Cross Planes is city somewhere in the middle of the Polyverse where anyone or anything can be encountered.

One property that I've covered extensively here is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It's a great example of gonzo (you guys remember Rio-Blast and Sy-Klone, as examples) and cross-genre (fantasy with laser guns, sky sleds, and cosmic enforcers).

Over the next month I intend to flesh out He-Man's Eternia as a setting and introduce some original elements to either bring the gonzo to your table or mix some strange elements within your game.

At the end of June, I will write a short compilation article gathering all the submissions. I can't wait to see what you contribute! Good luck and have fun.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

World of Warcrat: Ebonchill for D&D 5th Edition

This greatstaff was wielded by Alodi, the first Guardian of Tirisfal. He bore the staff into many battles against Legion forces for the century in which he served as Guardian. When stepped down from the role he retained the staff until his death. Upon his passing, the Kirin Tor stored the staff safely away for fear of what might happen if a lesser mage attempted to wield its power without the ability to control it fully.

Magic weapon (quarterstaff), legendary (requires attunement)

• You gain a +3 on spell attack rolls with this quarterstaff.

• You gain advantage on spell attack rolls against fiends.

• You gain advantage on Intelligence (History) skill checks by accessing the memories of the Guardians of Tirisfal locked within Ebonchill.

• You gain a +3 on concentration checks.

• You gain resistance to cold and necrotic damage.

• As a bonus action when you cast a cantrip or a spell, you may deal an addtional 1d12 cold damage and 1d12 necrotic damage to a single target of the spell or cantrip being cast. After you use this ability 3 times, you must finish a long rest.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Lawful Good Rogue?

In one of the Facebook groups I belong to, this question was posed and it got me thinking about it from the perspective of DnD 5E.

For starters we need to look at Thieves' Cant, as written it's firmly rooted in unlawful deeds, but you could easily change it's meaning toward religion or even revolution against a corrupt official or government.

Next, let's start with the Roguish Archetypes from the Player's Handbook:

I see know reason to prevent an Arcane Trickster from being Lawful Good. Their focus on sneaking and the arcane arts, after all. 

And Assassins, especially if they are following the tenets of a cult or even serving in some military role, can easily follow the laws that inform their origin. 

Thieves are tougher though. Could you stretch things that Robin Hood, for instance, was honoring the traditions of the true king in his fight against the apostate? Sure, with DM permission, of course, and it certainly represents an archetypal figure from fiction. Honestly, I see it working, but it feels like a stretch to me, with the Hunter Ranger working better in my opinion.

Now, let's look at the Roguish Archetypes from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide:

Mastermind is super simple by tying the character to any organization that operates under a higher authority, be it a government service, or an agent of a noble or religious order.

And a Swashbuckler? Sure, just because you are LG, doesn't mean your not daring and filled with panache.

In the end, it all comes down to you what you envision and what your DM has in mind, but I am pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to stretch the Rogue into, for me, uncharted alignment.

Happy Gaming and Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sunless Citadel: A Royal Problem

As the heroes return from their adventures from within the Sunless Citadel more challenges await them.

Prince Miles [2nd Level Human Bard with the Noble background], the eleventh child of Lograd's King Adorn, has come to Oakhurst to celebrate the Midsummer Apple Festival (though the heroes in my game have not yet revealed they destroyed the tree and it's fruit). The Prince's presence has made Garon, owner of the Ol' Boar Inn, very nervous, as he has won the auction for the Apple for the last five years and he hates to lose (rumor has it that he's looking to pay 10 gp for anyone willing to distract the Prince comin auction time). Additionally, Constable Felosial is concerned about the Prince's reputation for reckless behavior, a short fuse, and rumors suggesting a vicious attitude toward women (Felosial has plenty going on with the Festival and could use an extra hand keeping the Prince "safe". Finally, Mayor Vurnor Leng, is excited at the Prince's presence and is constantly trying to garner his attention in hopes of negotiating a trade deal with Lograd. Oakhurst has several master carpenters and a growing reputation for the silk it produces and Leng is certain he can negotiate a deal (Leng is looking for freelancers willing to distract the Prince's Royal Guards, Rhinehold and Ivedra [Both are 2nd Level Human Fighters with the soldier backgrounds]

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Giant WHAT IF? Planescape & Known Worlds MegaBundles

For those that haven't heard, the Dungeon Master's Guild has three MegaBundles going on right now for ADnD 1E, Known World, and Planescape.

All three are exceptional deals at $14.95 each.

But what if Wizards of the Coast is gauging interest in Planescape and Known World as settings to be published for 5E? Heck, what if they're using the sale to decide which setting to develop first?

Personally, I think that could be cool. I love Greyhawk, but it's not that different from the Realms in many ways. Planescape is very different and the Known World has that gonzo feel with some science fantasy if you include Blackmoor.

I have no inside information that I am correct, just a hope, an incredible amount of hope, that maybe we're getting a glimpse into 2018 or 2019's publishing schedule.

Either way, check out the bundles, they are incredibly good deals and if we are lucky, WotC will put 5E in PDF sometime soon.

The worst that happens is you get some great side material and the Rules Compendiun, ADnD 1E or 2E.

D&D 5E: Simon Belmont's Vampire Killer

Magic weapon (whip), legendary (requires attunement)

• You gain a +3 on attack rolls and damage rolls with this whip.

• Vampire Killer has the Reach property.

• You deal an extra 2d6 radiant damage to fiends and undead you hit.

• You deal an extra 2d6 radiant damage to vampires you hit.

• As a bonus action, Vampire Killer catches fire and you gain advantage on attack rolls and deal an extra 4d6 fire damage to a creature you hit. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until your finish a long rest.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Before playing Battletech, Champions, or ADnD 2E I read comic books and wanted to be a comic book artist. As a high schooler in Indiana I sat in my room, listening to the radio, and drawing (when we moved there from KY, we didn't have cable anymore). I even went got my degree in graphic design at the University of Mounts Saint Joseph (I was too nervous to apply to the Joe Kubert School of Art). But by the time I graduated I didn't really draw anymore. Yeah, I had found RPGs, but somehow I moved away from it.

As a player at the table, I find myself drawing again. In the past, I was very insecure about my abilities and kept trying to draw based on how my favorite artists did. These days though, I just embrace what I do and I decided to share an image today.

Wether you like it or don't like it, let me know. Growth occurs through feedback.  Thanks!

Eddard Hume, 6th Level Evoker Wizard

D&D 5E: Using A New Initiative System In Play

Tonight I used a variation of my Optional Initiative System.

After feedback, I attached it to classes.

• A character's Dexterity Modifier is NOT applied to initiative rolls.

• Lowest roll goes first and you count up, you roll initiative each round.

• Fighters and Rogues rolls a d6.

• Barbarians, Monks, Paladins, Rangers rolls a d8.

• Every other class rolls a d10.

• If you took the move action last round roll an additional d6.

• If you took a bonus action last round roll an additional d4.

After using it, I found tracking move and bonus actions clunky. I'm not sure if I liked it better than traditional initiative, but I will try it again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

D&D: An Optional Initiative System

In an AMA on Reddit, Mike Mearls spoke about an Initiative system he's been using for DnD and ENWorld posted it today.

After looking at it, I have my own thoughts on an optional initiative system:

• A character's Dexterity Modifier is NOT applied to initiative rolls.

• Lowest roll goes first and you count up, it resets each round when new rolls occur.

• Fighters and Rogues roll a d6.

• Other classes that are NOT casting a spell or a cantrip this round roll a d10.

• Other Classes that ARE casting a spell or a cantrip this round roll a d12.

• If you are changing gear gain a +1 to your initiative roll.

• If you are using a bonus action this round gain a +1 to your initiative roll.

• If you are moving this round gain a +1 to your initiative roll.

• If you are using a reach weapon gain a +1 to your initiative roll.

• If you are using a weapon with two-hands  gain a +1 to your initiative roll.

Feedback would be appreciated.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Queen of Chaos: Ataxia

Many wrongfully believe the Queen of Chaos lies forgotten, even helpless, trapped in her lair in the Abyss' Steaming Fen. But the Queen wants other to think she is lost and powerless, merely ancient history. She knows that her greatest strength is her obscurity, but she has retained one hallmark as her legacy, Ataxia

Looking at the worlds of the Multiverse and you will see many similarities amongst them, celebrations of the Summer and Winter Solstice, the end of the year and the beginning of the next, and finally the Harvest Moon, Ataxia, as some of the elders tell it. While most believe the full moon during harvest each year is merely a celebration of summer's end and preparing for the hardships of winter, it is in fact a ritual that has existed for countless ages. It is, in truth, a celebration of change, of embracing the uncertainty--the chaos of the coming struggle to survive the long nights and cruel environments of world on the brink of ruin. It is a secret holiday, the high holy day, for the Lady of Discord, a moment, strewn across countless worlds, that reminds the Queen that her moment will yet come and that her presence is still felt by untold numbers of fragile, foolish mortals.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunless Citadel: Oakhurst

As the heroes return from their adventures within the Sunless Citadel, they have found one of the Hucrete Signet Rings and are hoping for a portion of the reward.

However, a strange plague has stricken the town's halfling population, dubbed the Red Pox because of the red pustules that appear all over the body, it's proven lethal to 30% of it's victims.

While no other humanoids have taken ill, there is a great amount of fear that it could eventually affect more than halflings.

Currently, victims are being treated at a small shrine outside of town, that has been converted into a make-shift treatment center that is run by Corkie Hoolahan, a Priestess of Pelor, her acolyte Prod Tupor and several local midwives and folk healers.

Fear and uncertainty tears at the heart of the city in the face of this outbreak. Corkie has recently had a vision and feels that a rare herb, Summer Bloom, made hold some hope for a treatment. Unfortunately, Summer Bloom is found in an area dominated by orc tribe, the Bone Thieves, led by Kriga the Vicious. The Pelorite is looking for heroes, fearless and daring, in this hour of need.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sunless Citadel: Belak's Study

In tonight's adventure, my player's found Room 53 of the Sunless Citadel, Belak's study. While one book in particular is specified, I decided to work up a few others to add to the encounter.

The Teachings of Auk, is a scroll on papyrus, written by the Archdruid, Auk the Tender. It is an exploration of nature and the a list of 71 tenets he lived by. Any druid reading it may learn detect poison and Disease, darkvision, and spike growth.

The Eternal Cycle, is a small book, bound with ash wood covers with bleached leaves as pages. It is written by a druid who turned to necromancy, Deana the Pale. She explores the essential nature of life and death and discusses why druid's use necromantic spells, such as the blight spell. Any wizard or sorcerer reading it may learn the chill touch cantrip, as well as the spells false life and ray of sickness.

The Cthonic Verses, is a large book, bound with black leather and sigils in Primordial revealing it's name. It's author is unknown and the work explores the fallacies and failures of druidism, claiming that the earth is a powerful, ancient and dark master who has little tolerance with the fleas that scurry upon it, the humanoid races. In truth, only the strong should survived and the weak deserve nothing but to be preyed upon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1,000 Faces: Odric Ravenskraft

Odric is a sage in his late 50s who operates the Bookery, which has become known as the region's best source for rare and exotic tomes. For the right price and enough time Odric has proven capable of locating whatever rare work he is tasked with.

A benefit of his work is that it allows the pursuit of his own interest,  conjuration magic. While Odric has studied arcane magic, he's a 4th Level Conjuration Wizard/Magic-User, he has always had a fondness for the field of conjuration and summoning and collects any work on the field that he comes across. Thus far, he has a personal collection of 99 books and has feelers out for a new title he's learned about, Summoning From the Lower Planes by Pedagogue Mueller.

Odric is 6' tall, but he stoops, he has occasional tremors in his left hand and walks with a slight limp due to an injury he sustained on horseback in his youth. He is fond of using large words and clicks his tongue on the roof of his mouth while talking. He is also a devout worshipper of Bane and keeps a small shrine to Black Lord in his attic. He closes up shop at 3pm at midweek to perform rites to the God of Tyrrany. He is a widower and has no children, but his nephew Poul visits from time to time. Poul is scribe and has found a solid patron due to his uncle's influence.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

D&D 5E: Gods of Amonkhet for Magic: the Gathering

DEITY                             ALIGNMENT              DOMAINS
Bontu the Glorified                    N                           Grave, Death

Hazoret the Fervent                  CN                          War

Kefnet the Mindful                   LN                          Knowledge

Oketra the True                         NG                          Life 

Rhonas the Indomitable            NE                          Nature

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Queen of Chaos: Chaos Cults

Throughout the Multiverse, the Queen of Chaos waits for clues to the whereabouts of the Rod of Seven Parts from her home in the Abyss, the Steaming Fen. Miska, the Wolf-Spider was her consort and general, a master tactician that led his spyder-fiends and the demons that he pressed into her service like a tsunami across the Planes, giving his enemies no quarter. But when the Rod was used to banisher her lover, the Queen, unable to keep her forces united, fled. To wait. To stew. To plot. To watch.

Over the eons, she has come to believe that by finding the Rod, she can free her lover from his prison and finish her campaign.

To that end, she has spread her will across the Multiverse, perverting those with a bent toward Chaos, nudging them to form cults dedicated to being ever vigilant for the Rod. For her lover's freedom. For her final victory.

She looks for those who are broken and beaten down, people who cannot abide Law or order. Renegades and outcasts who she can twist, giving them the gift to find others of like mind.

Once a cult has been cultivated, the Queen typically gifts it's leader with a manifesto, in the form of a demoniac treatise, to spread the cult's message, gathering new followers and creating new cells. The manifesto typically features foul and monstrous rites in the name of Chaos. Such works have found their way into the hands of many powerful Archmages, such as the Path of Discord, the Cacodex, the Ruinous Rubric, and Misrules.

Sometimes, the Queen will even pose as powerful demon and offer the willing a warlock's pact, she especially enjoys this solution for would-be adventurers, knowing that their actions inevitably will aid her free the Wolf-Spider and undo whatever good they might achieve.

As much as she enjoys corrupting and destroying mortal lives though, her most important goal is for her cultists and warlocks to remain ever vigilant for any clue or Part of the Rod.

The Queen is ancient and she has learned patience, much to the chagrin of her enemies, and it's merely a matter of time before one or more of her agents collect the Parts of the Rod for her. And then the Multiverse will tremble at her vengeance.

A cleric who worships Chaos gains a +1 to Saving Throws and is trained in Persuasion.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Queen of Chaos: Sapper [UPDATED]

Scattered throughout the multiverse are zealots dedicated to the worship of the malignant Queen of Chaos. Their dark dedication driving them to sew chaos and warp the world in which they live. They practice obscene rites, inviting things from outside their world to wreak havoc and invoke terror. Some amongst these chaotic crusaders have gained a greater understanding of the thresholds between worlds and have practiced their foul invocations to the point that they can permanently weaken the barriers of their world in certain locales. Amongst scholars and arcanists they are often referred to as Sappers, as they sabotage the walls between worlds.

Sappers are feared amongst the learned and wise as their only mission is to empower Chaos by destroying the Laws that protect one world from another. Too often the inhabitants of one world are ill prepared to face the threats from a different one and once a Sapper has begun destroying the threshold in one area, their work seems to accelerate in a different one. Many sages believe them to be a pandemic that can doom a world in a few short years.

Sappers are Mages/9th Level Magic-Users and any creatures they conjure/summon have an additional 20% Hit Points and a +2 to damage.

Additionally, the area within 120 feet of a Sapper is considered a Wild Magic Zone. When any creature besides the Sapper casts a spell roll a d20, on a 13 or higher a Wild Surge occurs. Feel free to use the Wild Surge table in ADnD's Tome Of Magic, the 5th Edition Player's Handbook, or check out this page.

Friday, May 5, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Wand of the Invoker


Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

• You gain a +1 on attack rolls with this wand.

• The damage dice of cantrips you cast while wielding the wand are increased by one step. E.G. The Firebolt cantrip deals d12s for damage, instead of d10's.

• The wand has 1d4 charges and regains 1 charge each day. You may expend 1 charge to change the damage type of any spell you cast to cold, fire, force, lightning, thunder, or radiant. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Side Quest: The Clearing

The Set-Up
The characters have made camp, close to a road, when they begin to see strange lights and hear a cry for help.

The Setting
An angry, baleful female ghost haunts the clearing. The presence of the group nearby makes her attempt to lure them to their doom.

The Twist
The clearing is haunted. Years ago, Lady Brianna Hawthorne, the daughter of Baron Kletus Hawthorne had her carriage diverted from the road where she was murdered. Her fiancee, Duke Albrecht Kirk was responsible, after he found out that Brianna had poisoned his original intended, Lady Meleena Napier. The Duke had men loyal to him assigned to the carriage and paid them handsomely for the gruesome deed.

The only way to completely destroy Brianna is to find a strange tree nearby where her remains have stuffed. They must be salted and burnt.

Green Ronin Announces Modern AGE

I've been a big fan of Green Ronin and the Adventure Game Engine for years. They just announced Modern AGE and a setting, Greg Rucka's Lazarus to release simultaneously this fall.

But, I'm a bit perplexed. First, with only a handful of releases for Fantasy AGE, why a whole new rule book for Modern AGE? Why not just tie it into the Lazarus setting? Also, what about the Fantasy AGE Companion that has seemed to disappear from the schedule?

And as someone who has waited, impatiently, for GR to release something, we're supposed to believe that this fall will see the Critical Role World Book for 5E AND a new branch of AGE with two books? Personally, I doubt it.  

I'm not sure how to feel about this announcement. A few weeks ago, I'd probably be chomping at the bit about it, but I just don't see any of it happening on time. Especially considering their plans to publish the Tales of the Citadel fiction line AND the setting book for 5E.

I guess we will see.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Best Laid Plans

Due to a combination of unexpected work stuff and some health issues, I don't know if I can finish the A to Z Challenge this year on time.

It's been an odd week and I think there is still more to hurdle.

I'll try to get things on track soon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A to Z Challenge 2017: O is for Hex 0303

Each Hex is 6 miles, and I used Hexographer to create my map.

The Duchy of Saint Cuthbert continues to dominate the region, with Leiber River flowing through it. The Alabaster Bridge crosses the River here, with the town of Haversham thriving on both sides. The Duchess' youngest brother, Cassius Malifaux (DnD 5E: Male Human Inheritor) has been named Duke and been ruling the town for several years. Cassius is a visionary young man and has many progressive ideas that have proven very successful, thus far.

   However, the Scarlet Brotherhood has been very active in the town, viewing the Bridge as a major strategic holding, and their agents have already begun to manipulate the Duke. Additionally, if they cannot sway Cassius to their cause by year's end, they intend to assassinate him.

In the southeast is the fishing village of Periept, a quaint and friendly place blissfully unaware of a terrible secret. The waters of the River near Periept are surprisingly deep and 300 years ago, long before the village, the Company of the Iron Phoenix battled the Vampiric Sorcerer, Thurston Van Kirk, there. Four of the  seven heroes fell before Qarnak Bonespeaker, a Priest of the Raven Queen, called upon his goddess to curse Thurston, plunging him into the deep waters to trouble mortals no more.
  However, a young woman, Airika Belmont (DnD 5E: 2nd Level Female Tiefling Order of the Awakened Mystic; DnD B/X: 2nd Level Magic-User), has contacted Thurston and he has convinced her that he was wronged centuries ago and needs to be freed. Belmont, whose never been treated well by the villagers since she is a tiefling, has been an easy target for the charming vampire.
She is looking to find help from any nearby adventurers in seeking several items that Thurston assures her will free him. 

Terrain is flat green plains.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A to Z Challenge 2017: N is for Hex 0302 [UPDATED]

Each Hex is 6 miles, and I used Hexographer to create my map.

The Duchy of Saint Cuthbert dominates the region, with Leiber River cutting cutting through it. Black Gate, a small city on the northwestern banks of the River, is a major hub of trade for the entire Duchy. The smuggling ring known as the Red Door have paid Baroness Michela Dundry (DnD 5E: Human Female Noble) and her Onyx Guard handsomely to turn a blind eye to their operations. However, the Red Door are also slavers and some recent missteps on their part has forced the Baroness to start dealing with an inquiry from the Duchess.

   Additionally, the three prominent figures in the Red Door are lycanthropes: Alea Pinwhistle (wereboar), Jajaka Mahawop (werepanther), and Elon Thrump (werewolf).

To the east is Uberwald Keep, which at one time marked the eastern most border of the Old Empire. The Keep is maintained Commander Brianna Haubner (DnD 5E: 4th Level Human Female Oath of Devotion Paladin of Pelor; DnD B/X 4th Level Fighter) and a crack force of 30 knights, their squires, and 20 yeomen.
Commander Haubner maintains good relations with the wood elves of the Twilight Forest to the northeast. 
   Four times a year, a special banquet is held at Uberwald Keep where the Commander and her personnel host the wood elf Elders for a three days, where both sides discuss current and future plans.

Terrain is flat green plains.

A to Z Challenge 2017: M is for Hex 0301

Each Hex is 6 miles, and I used Hexographer to create my map.

Pseudodragons call the light forests of the entire region their home and occasionally students from the Hexenschulle can be found looking homing to locate one as a familiar.

Anyone in the region should be weary of the fine and deadly webs of ettercaps waiting to trap their prey.

Moving southwest, following the Leiber River, trappers continually warn of the threat of Naya, a banshee that has haunted the River's eastern banks for 200 yars. Legends say that a Naya was a tiefling girl whose fiancee drowned her after discovering her fiendish heritage.

 is an ancient ring of 13 standing stones, each 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide and covered in oaths to a being known as Bavmorda in Sylvan. At the base of the 7th standing stone is an emerald statuette carved to look like an owl, lightly covered by dirt.

The statuette will offer a pact to whoever finds it, allowing Bavmorda, an ancient hag, to become their Archfey Warlock Patron if accepted.

To the south is a small pond, a secret holy place blessed by Sehanine. and nestled within a light forest. Any Good person who bathes in it's waters for 1 hour experiences the benefit of a Long Rest and a Greater Restoration spell being cast upon them. A Neutral person experiences the benefit of a Short Rest for the same amount of time. A Good or Neutral character cannot regain these benefits until 30 days have passed. A unicorn (it will be resurrected at dawn if killed) who protects the pond will attack any Evil person. An Evil person who drinks from or bathes in the pond gain 1d6 levels of Exhaustion.

Terrain is light forests and grasslands.

A to Z Challenge 2017: L is for Hex 0206

Each Hex is 6 miles, and I used Hexographer to create my map.


To the west is an ancient ring of 13 standing stones, each 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide and covered in oaths to a being known as Bavmorda in Sylvan. At the base of the 7th standing stone is an emerald statuette carved to look like an owl, lightly covered by dirt.
   The statuette will offer a pact to whoever finds it, allowing Bavmorda, an ancient hag, to become their Archfey Warlock Patron if accepted.

To the south is a small pond, a secret holy place blessed by Sehanine. and nestled within a light forest. Any Good person who bathes in it's waters for 1 hour experiences the benefit of a Long Rest and a Greater Restoration spell being cast upon them. A Neutral person experiences the benefit of a Short Rest for the same amount of time. A Good or Neutral character cannot regain these benefits until 30 days have passed. A unicorn (it will be resurrected at dawn if killed) who protects the pond will attack any Evil person. An Evil person who drinks from or bathes in the pond gain 1d6 levels of Exhaustion.

Terrain is light forests and grasslands.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A to Z Challenge 2017: K is for Hex 0205

Each Hex is 6 miles, and I used Hexographer to create my map.


The Leiber River runs through the north of this region and an abandoned mill, the Hankenshank, still stands there. Local taverns still share it's tale about an powerful curse placed upon it by an wood elf nearly 50 years ago. As the story goes, Gilliad Hankenshank successfully negotiated a lumber treaty with the Limb Strider clan, wood elves who had lived in the forests for centuries. Gilliad had adventured with the clan's chieftain, Arak Silverglen, and only took trees that the Limb Striders allowed. However, when Gilliad suddenly passed away, his daughter Marith, began to break the agreement with the wood elves leading to several months of conflict with them. Eventually, she hired mercenaries to slaughter them and upon his death, Arak uttered a death curse on his friend's daughter. Within a year, Marith had died of illness and the Hankenshank shut down beacause woodcutters and mill workers refused to work due to Marith's spirit haunting the mill as a specter.
A family of ogres has spend several decades dwelling in the abandoned Limb Strider structures. There are seven ogres living there and hunting the forest and small hills of the whole region. They are being led by a half-ogre named Gedda, a warlock who has made a pact with Zargon the Returner and she uses her magic to manipulate the other members of her twisted family. Gedda has taught her family new ways to hunt and systematically cover their territory. 70% of the time an ogre notices intruders within their territory, it will gather wait to attack and ambush their enemies in group of 1d4+1 and there is a 60% chance Gedda is with them.

Terrain is thick forests and sloping hills.