Thursday, May 17, 2018

Genesys: Natalie Elias

I'd be resisting Fantasy Flight Games' Genesys system because it used "weird dice". I'm not opposed to new tech in RPGs, but I have a lot of dice and I like them. But after seeing some good reviews of the system from some people I trust in the blogosphere, I couldn't help picking it up.

I'm happy I did.

A few years back, I ran a one-shot of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire from the Starter Box and it went well. Very well. I just found the actual rulebook...intimidating. It seemed like more rules than I wanted and the writing, to me, was stiff.

Genesys doesn't feel that way though. The rules are a breeze to read through and the symbols this game uses, again somehow, stick in my brain easier.

I don't honestly know if I'll get much chance to run it, as DnD 5E and to a lesser extent Shadow of the Demon Lord are popular at my tables. But Genesys, thus far, is a bit more my cup of tea than Savage Worlds (it has Hit Points) or FAE and I'd love to run Numenera with the rules (I didn't find the Cypher System very well tooled to action at the table).

So here is character I'm making to test out the process, it ended up taking about 30 minutes.


Archetype: Normal Human
Career: Scoundrel

Brawn 2
Agility 3
Intellect 3
Cunning 2
Willpower 2
Presence 2

Wound Threshold 14
Strain Threshold 12
Ranged Defense 0
Melee Defense 0
Soak Value 2

Ready for Anything

Desire Vengeance against Boss Nash
Fear Commitment
Strength Witty
Flaw Recklessness

SKILLS (Those in italics are Career Skills)
Computers 1
Cool 1
Driving 1
Melee 1
Perception 1
Ranged 2
Stealth 1
Streetwise 2

Clever Retort

Heavy Pistol
Damage 6; Crit 3; Range Medium

Natalie is a PI who has recently gotten out of prison for breaking and entering. While she is no angel, she was set up by Boss Nash, her uncle and the man responsible for her father's murder.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Creature Crucible: Rahu-Men for Labyrinth Lord

"Rahu-men are gigantic, four-armed warriors from another plane. They are merciless marauders who wander the country-side."

Rahu-Men for Labyrinth Lord
AL C, MV 40', AC 4, HD 8, #AT 2 [weapon], THAC0 14, 
DG 3d6, SV 8 fighter, ML 10, there is a 1 in 6 chance that a rah-man in a group casts spells as a 3rd level magic-user, XP 560

Rahu-men are unpredictable and love to fight and plunder.

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Ultra-Warrior: Synthreat for D&D 5th Edition

I used the excellent Ultra-Warrior Creator PDF and DnD Beyond to create an Ultra-Warrior Rogue in the spirit of Masters of the Universe

Synthreat came out as a robot, so I chose to use the warforged from the Unearthed Arcana featuring Eberon. It's features are a tread legs and (+10' movement) and a robotic torso (resistance to cold and fire).

for DnD 5th Edition
3rd Level Warforged Courtier & Scout Rogue
STR 13, DEX 12, CON 12, INT 11, WIS 10, CHA 13, 
AL LN, MV 40', AC 13, HP 16, #AT 1, Melee +3, Ranged +3, DG 1d4+2 (+2d6 Sneak Attack), SV Dex/Int, INIT +1, RESISTANCE cold/ fire, SKILL Athletic, Insight, Investigation (Expertise), Perception, Persuasion, 
Stealth (Expertise)

Synthreat was a warmachine and scout created during the Night Wars. The android was caught in a cave-in during the siege of Nelvana and was discovered by Tinker Thompson during his search for the ruins of the Violet Citadel. When Tinker joined forces with Sunderbolt against Jengo and Fatale, Synthreat chose to become a Peacemaker and has worked with the group ever since.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Ultra-Warrior: Solid Dreamer for D&D 5th Edition

I used the excellent Ultra-Warrior Creator PDF and DnD Beyond to create an Ultra-Warrior Monk. Ultra-Warriors are excellent stand-ins for Masters of the Universe.

She came out as a humanoid with a featureless face (prodigy feat from Xanthar's Guide to Everything that gives double proficiency to a skill and more) and extendable arms (reach of 20' with her fists)

Solid Dreamer 
for DnD 5th Edition
3rd Level Humanoid Urban Bounty Hunter & Shadow Arts Monk
STR 10, DEX 14, CON 10, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 4, 
AL NG, MV 30', AC 12, HP 15, #AT 1, Melee +4, Ranged +4, 
DG 1d4+2, Reach 20', SV Str & Dex, INIT +7, SKILL Acrobatics/
Athletics/ Deception/Stealth/Survival, FEAT Prodigy (Deception), KI 3

Solid Dreamer is a shaman to her people in the Silhouette River Basin. She joined Sunderbolt and his Peacemakers after the Crystal Skull and the Bronze Cobra Clan attempted to assassinate her Sensei, Ia mo'Klok.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Creature Crucible: Rock Ape for Labyrinth Lord & White Star

"Rock apes are believed to be indestructible and are definitely protective of their families"

Rock Ape 
for Labyrinth Lord
AL N, MV 50', AC 0, HD 4, #AT 1 [fist], THAC0 17, 
DG 1d6+3, SV 4 fighter, ML 10, an alpha (only 1 per family) may cast Cause Fear 1/day with a range of 100 feet and affecting anyone it can see, XP 80

Rock apes prefer intimidation before directly attacking a threat. An alpha's primary goal is to protect their families and give them time to escape.

ROCK APE for White Star
Armor Class: -7 [+7]
Hit Dice: 4
Total Hit Bonus: +5
Attacks: Fist 1d6+3
Saving Throw: 11
Special: --
Movement: 9
HDE/XP: 4/175

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Fiend Folio: Mok

Moks are primitive relatives of tabaxi.

Reclusive. Moks are very territorial and keep to themselves. It takes a great deal of work to gain their trust.

Quick to anger. Those that have encountered them and managed to survive tell tales of frenzied berserkers in battle.

Medium humanoid, neutral

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 22 (4d8 + 4) 
Speed 30 ft.
   Str        Dex         Con           Int         Wis        Cha
17 (+3)    15 (+2)   13 (+1)    11 (+0)    10 (+0)     9 (-1)

Saves Str +5, Con +3
Skills Intimidation +1, Stealth +5, Survival +3
Senses Truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Sylvan
Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Hulking. Moks have advantage Constitution saving throws.



Axe. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., 
one creature. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 3) slashing damage.

Heavy Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 100/400 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) piercing damage.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Creature Crucible: Mummified Wizard

"Mummies are preserved undead corpses animated through the auspices of dark desert gods best forgotten. They haunt old tombs and lost ruins."

Artwork by Odinoir

Mummified Wizard 
for Labyrinth Lord
AL C, MV 60', AC 4, HD 5, #AT 1 [staff or spell], THAC0 18, 
DG 1d6 + mummy rot, SV 5 magic-user, ML 12, Casts spells as a 5th level magic-user, XP 860

These undead are so fearsome that any being seeing one must succeed in a saving throw versus paralyze or become paralyzed with dread for 1 round. When a mummy successfully strikes a victim, the victim suffers 1d6 hit points of damage and contracts mummy rot. Mummy rot is a powerful curse, not a natural disease. When under the effects of the curse, characters are unable to receive the benefits of any form of magical healing. Characters heal naturally at 1/10th the normal rate. This magical disease may be removed with the spell remove curse. Like other undead, mummies are unaffected by charm, sleep, or hold spells. Further, mummies may only be harmed by magical weapons, spells, and fire- based attacks.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Fiend Folio: The Marauder

By Domo Wasaki

The Marauder roams the Multiverse hunting bounties, with rumors claiming him to be some kind of cosmic enforcer. He will always reveal a handbill for his victims to anyone trying stop him. However, he is more than willing to mow down anyone who stands in his way.

Dead or ... Dead. The Marauder take his bounties very, very seriously and never brings a target in alive.

Stranger in a strange land. It is unknown what type of humanoid the Marauder is, or even it's gender. It's regulator suit doesn't require it to eat, drink, or breathe.

Medium humanoid, neutral evil

Armor Class 16
Hit Points 128 (16d8 + 48) 
Speed 30 ft.
   Str        Dex         Con           Int         Wis        Cha
17 (+3)    20 (+5)   16 (+3)    14 (+2)    15 (+2)     9 (-1)

Skills Intimidation +3, Perception +6, Stealth +9
Damage Resistances Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning
Damage Immunities Poison
Condition Immunities Frightened, Paralyzed, Poisoned
Senses Truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Celestial, Common, Deep Speech, Undercommon
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)

Deadly. The Marauder scores a critical on a 19 or 20.

Magic Resistance. The Marauder has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Deadly. The Marauder has advantage on initiative rolls.



The Marauder makes three attacks.

Shooting Irons. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 40/120 ft., one creature. Hit: 16 (2d8 + 5) piercing damage.

Skinning Knife. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., 
one creature. Hit: 16 (2d4 + 5) slashing damage.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Domains of Dread: Gaining Corruption Part 2

In ADnD 2E's Domains of Dread, there are thirteen steps to corruption and various changes to a character along that path.

I've decided to convert the Moderate Changes tables from page 165.

Moderate Changes Table (Roll a d6)
1. You grow claws that inflict 1d4 slashing damage. However, they inflict disadvantage on any Dexterity ability check requiring fine work of any kind.

2. You grow fangs like a viper that inflict 1d4 poison damage. However, your tongue becomes forked, you speak with a hissing lisp, and your Charisma is reduced by -2.

3. Your eyes have adapted so well to darkness that you have darkvision out to 150 feet and they look like a cat's. However, your Charisma is reduced by -1.

4. You are permanently under the effects of the spider climb spell. However, the palms of your hands are covered with small suckers, like those of an octupus and your Charisma is reduced by -1.

5. Your saliva becomes highly acidic (1d4 acid damage, range 15/30 feet). However, anything inanimate you place in your mouth (cups, spoons, etc.) dissolves in 1 round.

6. Your face becomes distorted and grotesque which reduces your Charisma by 1/2. However, anyone within 30 feet who can see your eyes must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of you. Anyone attempting to avert their eyes from you has disadvantage on all attack rolls against you.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Creature Crucible: Atomic Knight for Apes Victorious and Labyrinth Lord

"Following the catastrophic Hydrogen War of 1986, a petty tyrant named the Black Baron ruled a small section of the Midwestern United States with an iron fist. He was opposed by Sgt. Gardner Grayle and the Atomic Knights, who wore medieval suits of armor that were impervious to the Baron's energy weapons, the armor having been irradiated in the war. The other Knights were twins Wayne and Hollis Hobard, Bryndon Smith, the last scientist left on Earth, and brother and sister Douglas and Marene Herald."

Atomic Knight
for Labyrinth Lord
AL L, MV 60', AC 3, HD 6, #AT 1 [sword or lance], THAC0 15, DG 1d8 or 1d6, SV 6 fighter, ML 11, Riding 63%, XP 320

Atomic Knight for Apes Victorious

No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6+3)
Movement: 30' (10')
Intelligence: Average to High
Psionic Potential: 3d4, inactive
Hits: 2d8
Armor: -6
To Hit: 13
Save: H3
Attacks: 1
Damage: Sword 1d8
Morale: 9
XP: 20

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Domains of Dread: Gaining Corruption Part 1

In ADnD 2E's Domains of Dread, there are thirteen steps to corruption and various changes to a character along that path.

I've decided to convert the Minor Changes tables from page 165.

Minor Changes Table (Roll a d6)
1. You develop darkvision out to 60 feet or if you already have darkvision it increases by 30 feet. However, you have disadvantage on all saving throws while in direct sunlight.

2. Your hands becomes so strong that they can inflict 1d4 bludgeoning damage. However, if you roll a 20 on an attack roll when wielding a non-magical weapon, the weapon breaks after damage is rolled.

3. Your hearing become supernaturally acute and you gain advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks involving hearing. However, you are vulnerable to thunder damage.

4. Your Intelligence increases by +2. However, headaches that accompany it impose disadvantage on Charisma and Wisdom ability checks.

5. Your skin becomes thicker and tougher and you base AC becomes 12. However, the change imposes a -1 to your Dexterity.

6. You gain a +1 to Constitution, Dexterity, or Strength. However, the change imposes a -1 to Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Unearthed Arcana: Order Domain

It's that time of the month, Unearthed Arcana is out for April from Wizards of the Coast.

This month is a new cleric domain: the Order domain.

Voice of Authority is, to me, a major departure to their approach to the action economy. I don't know that that is a bad thing, but I doubt it will survive in it's current form.

Order's Dominion is too good, as presented.

Check it out here.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Domains of Dread

I finally went back to my Yawning Portal/Oakhurst game this week after a several month hiatus. Since I had lost some players and gained new ones, I took the game in a very different direction.

We had left off with them getting attacked by a shadow dragon, but as it's breath weapon spewed forth, mists engulfed the characters. Those mists that led to Citadel Cavitius, the domain of Vecna.

My intention is run the ADnD 2E module Die Vecna Die!, but the players might go a different direction.

As I've been reading over Curse of Strahd and my old ADnD 2E products, I'm intending to take a slightly different approach to the Demiplane. My intention is to make travel between the Domains more accessible. Currently, my approach to this is that the Darklords are often too concerned with the torments inflicted upon them by the Dark Powers to notice much and the "locals" being to concerned with mere survival to worry about activating some form of uprising.

This allows my players to move on to a different plot if they so choose.

I'll also be using the following:

I will be using the Alterations to Magic and the Resurrection Madness from Curse of Strahd.

Descent into Darkness form ADnD 2E's Domains of Dread.

Madness from the Dungeon Master's Guide.

I'm also contemplating adjusting Death Saving Throws to DC 15 as it was done in Tomb of Annihilation.

I've gotten one session under my belt and we will see how this goes, I'm really hoping to emphasize the horror of the setting and forcing the characters to face harsh truths.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Fiend Folio: Shadow Swarm for D&D 5th Edition

Shadow swarms are undead that resemble dark exaggerations of the shadows of packs of roving predators.

Dark Hunger. In death, the creature’s shadow breaks free, becoming a new undead shadow hungry for more life to consume.
In some dark and dreadful places, undeath is so prevalent that it draws in even the animals of the land, with their lesser intetellect they ban together to hunt, protect themselves from the monsters that prey even upon their kind, and to grow their ranks. Unlike the shadows of humanoids, these creatures leave little of the mind behind when they consume their prey and the corpse's shadow is drawn to hunt with the swarm.

Undead Nature. A shadow doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep, but hunts to constantly beyond the move and to sate it's darker instincts.

Shadow Swarm
Medium undead, chaotic evil

Armor Class 15
Hit Points 36 (8d8) 
Speed 30 ft.
   Str        Dex         Con           Int         Wis        Cha
8 (-1)    18 (+4)   12 (+1)    6 (-2)    10 (+0)     8 (-1)

Skills Stealth +5 (+7 in dim light or darkness)
Damage Vulnerabilities radiant
Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages --
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Amorphous. The shadow swarm can move through a space as narrow as 1 foot wide without squeezing.

Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow can take the Hide action as a bonus action.

Sunlight Weakness. While in sunlight, the shadow has disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.


Strength Drain. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 16 (4d6 + 2) necrotic damage, and the target’s Strength score is reduced by 1d4. The target dies if this reduces its Strength to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest.

If a non-evil humanoid dies from this attack, a new shadow rises from the corpse and joins the swarm 1d4 rounds later.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

D&D Monster Mythology: The Tarrasque

Tiamat was always a vicious and immature tyrant. She never took responsibility for anything, especially her failures. It led to divisiveness within her own family and slowly, over eons, even within the ranks of the chromatic dragons that worshipped her.

She had many grand promises about her victory upon the Prime Material Plane of Faërun and once again, failed to deliver.

But this time, many chromatics, especially the elders had been whispering about what should be done if she failed them all yet again. Especially, with the sacrifices their own kind had made in her most recent schemes.

A subtle and resourceful cabal was formed, they chose no name for it, so it would be harder to trace their actions and they began to seek a new God for their kind. 

Art by Jason Engle

Many of the elders told of the exploits of Tiamat and Bahamut's eldest brother, Vorel. He was a mighty and cunning indigo dragon, his only flaws were his love for his younger brother, Bahamut, and being born without wings. Flaws that Tiamat had exploited to murder him.

Their tales of his exploits, of his prowess, of his brilliance spread like a fever amongst the conspirators of the cabal. A plan began to form. That plan would require the Wand of Orcus and it would be necessary to use it upon her in her home in the Abyss, the Dragonspawn Pits of Azharul.

And what better way to find the Wand than to use Adventurers, the very bane of Tiamat and her chromatics?

The cabal planned long and well and they succeeded. Tiamat lay dead in the Abyss and they had found the remains of long dead Vorel, his skull and his left arm.

And so they elders used their considerable magic to raise him from the dead.

While the elders of the cabal had told of Vorel's exploits and planned for Tiamat's demise, none of them had considered what, if any, side affects there would be to the necromancy they used to bring Vorel back from the dead.

After all, Vorel, the Indigo Dragon, had been dead for many, many eons. Perhaps he had found a form of peace? Perhaps he had become a part of the very Multiverse? Perhaps there wasn't much of his mind left when they raised his body?

The elders immediately knew something was wrong as Vorel's howl  of rage could be heard for miles and like a bolt of deadly lightning he was upon Nicovaren the Black, tearing through the ancient's neck and ripping out his heart. Before Lenavossalorn the Blue could even take flight, Vorel had gouged out her eyes, torn off her wings and gutted her from stem to stern. 

None of the conspirators who raised long dead Vorel survived that long and bloody day. Their actions released a fearsome beast upon Faërun that day. Vorel now roamed the land, destroying anything he crosses. But most know him by the name the Giants had given him, Tarrasque.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Over at Tenkar's Tavern, there is a post about the Gatekeeping (keeping others out of RPGs due to rules lawyering or other undesirable and stereotypical behaviors) and comments about Retroclones.

Apparently what started the post were these quotes: 

"we might actually have had to play with our original D&D books instead of derivative pdf files of minor edits to the original game. The horror!" 

"hard for new players? Most of us learned to play it in middle school!

First, I'm 45, I would have been in middle school from 1983 to 1986. I didn't know about DnD until our local B. Dalton's put up a display of ADnD hardcovers in about 1981. There was nowhere locally to buy RPG books until the store I now work for, Comic Book World, added an RPG section in 1985.

Unfortunately, no one I knew played DnD of any edition. I moved to Indiana for High School and only one kid in my entire school liked comics, besides myself and no one played RPGs.

I started playing my sophomore year of College.

Now, when I started this blog, DnD 4 was dead. Pathfinder was new and growing and the OSR had become a thing.

You could not legally get older editions of DnD PDFs legally. I would argue that the OSR and the problems of DnD 4, helped WotC to make a more "classic" stance with DnD 5.

I will tell anyone that even though I had played and GM'd RPGs for over 20 years, that it was the OSR that made me understand the strange resolution systems, importance of magic items, the empowerment of the DM, and really the intentions of the designers of early DnD. 

If you were in middle-school in the later 70s and early 80s and you found an edition of DnD you love, then good for you.

I had to wait until DnD 5E to find that edition, but in the meantime, those "house-ruled PDFs" taught me to love those earlier editions.

I am ashamed to admit that I have wasted some of my life being that prick who wants to be superior. I admit that I was bullied as a young person extensively and when I found my social niche with gamers, I bullied people and emulated the behaviors I faced. I know that I am at least 50% responsible for any conflict that I am in.

But, somewhere along the way I stopped caring about all of that crap and realized that an RPG session should be a group of people, comfortable with the game they are playing, rolling dice and having fun. That's it. Age, religion, ethnicity, economic background, education level, disability--NONE of that matters at the table. If everyone is comfortable and having fun, you all move past are daily grinds and for a few hours, at least, share a story and your imagination with other people.

The only gatekeeping that needs to be done, is making sure the gate is wide open and it won't close on anyone.

So play DnD or any RPG however you like, as long as everyone is comfortable and having fun.

Sadly, this is merely yet another tempest in a teapot.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Blood War: Spells for D&D 5th Edition

These spells originally appeared in Fiendish Code I: Hordes of the Abyss.

Art by By Michelonisophia

For Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard

DURATION 10 Minutes; Requires Concentration
SCHOOL Transmutation

Bat-like wings grow from your back. You gain a flying speed of 60 feet for the duration. When the spell ends, you fall if you are still aloft, unless you can stop the fall.
*Requires a bat's wing.

For Cleric

RANGE/AREA 90 ft (15 ft radius sphere)
DURATION 1 Minutes; Requires Concentration
SCHOOL Conjuration

You create a 15-foot-radius sphere of acidic, green slime centered on a point you choose within range. The slime spreads around corners. It lasts for the duration.

When a creature enters the spell's area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature must make a Dexterity saving throw. The creature takes 7d6 acid damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. 

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 5th.
*Requires stagnant water.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

D&D 5th Edition: Another Optional Initiative System

This is idea for an alternative initiative for 5th Edition and grew out of Mike Mearls' Greyhawk Initiative. For a previous attempt, see here.

Initiative goes from Highest to lowest roll and a d20 is replaced with the following system:

You roll initiative every round.

If you are casting a spell this round, roll a d6 + Dex Mod.

If you are making a weapon attack this round, roll 1d10 + Dex Mod.

If you have levels in the Fighter class roll 1d12 + Dex or Str Mod.

If you have levels in Rogue you add your Int Mod and your Dex Mod to the roll.

If you are making a ranged attack this round you have Advantage on Initiative, so you roll 2 of the appropriate dice and take the highest.

If you are moving this round you have Disadvantage on Initiative, so you roll 2 of the appropriate dice and take the lowest.

For simplicity, the DM can roll d8+ Number of enemies.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Counter Culture: Looking at the Pathfinder 2E Announcement

I've been working at my store for 19 years. I've been through the launches of DnD 3, 3.5, 4, 4 Essentials, 5 and Pathfinder.

This announcement for Pathfinder 2nd Edition, as a retailer, has been a bit odd for me.

First, there isn't any buzz in my store about it. There is amongst my group, as I ponder if I will try it (I pondered trying Starfinder but it was more system than I want right now).  Heck, there was more buzz about Starfinder, in fact. Now, that is completely shocking because Paizo has always cultivated a better direct to consumer program than any other RPG publisher. But that also meant, even at it's height of sales when Wizards of the Coast abandoned 4E and we were waiting for Next, it's sales were not anything significant for us, as DnD always had been. But it's also not as shocking because WotC wisely decided not to do a 5.5 and those unsure of it playing other games are now more willing to dive in. And new players are diving in every day, right now. Meanwhile, I'm lucky to turn (sell) a Pathfinder Pocket Core book every two months.

To complicate things, it seems that Erik Mona is bristling with comparisons to 5E, while he and his teams are making statements that remind me of 4E. If I were Erik, I'd look at the fact that their success is built upon WotC walking away from a customer base AND the fact that almost four years into it's life cycle the Player's Handbook is STILL #4 on Amazon. I would want to catch that lightning. That doesn't mean I would make 5.5, but I wouldn't necessarily distance myself either.

In fact, if I were in charge of Pathfinder, now would be the time I would take an older Adventure Path and convert it to 5E. Yes, WotC screwed them on the OGL portion of 4E and yes they were smart enough to capitalize on those who didn't want to leave 3.5 behind, but when Green Ronin is selling their Critical Role books like they are, why wouldn't you try a campaign out?

This is merely my gut feeling, but I think Paizo has as good a chance of having their 2nd Edition be received the way DnD 4E as they do of having a hit. Understand, at the retail level, Starfinder did great for everyone on it's first printing. But there is been very little momentum on additional supplements or it's second printing for my stores.

And please understand, I don't wish Paizo ill, I learned about eight years ago they wouldn't drive RPG sales for me the way WotC and DnD do. You see when DnD is successful, the whole industry is successful. Other systems and DnD "competitors" like Pathfinder or 13th Age NEED DnD to be huge, so that the iconoclasts and grognards out there have something to rebel against it. That's why the OSR was good for DnD.

I'm watching all of this and waiting to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

D&D 5th Edition: Cloudwrought

Cloudwrought is an elemental node aligned to air and earth and currently held by the Stonehand Clan of Gargoyles, led by a priest named Granite.

It was formed over 1000 years ago and is made up of petrified lightning. It's presence is believed to contribute to the constant presence of thunderstorms and why some of the locals out of nearby Stormhaven refer to it as "tornado alley" along the High Rode that runs through it.

Because of the node's potency, any spell cast within 2 miles of it requires a roll on the following table:

Roll a D10
1 The spell fails, but the spells slot is not lost.
2 - 4 The spell is cast normally.
5 If the spell does damage it is changed to lightning damage.
6 If the spell does damage it is changed to bludgeoning damage.
7 The caster gains a +1 bonus to AC for 1 minute.
8 The target(s) of the spell gain a +2 to their Saving Throw, if the spell has one.
9 The spell is cast normally, but the caster takes 1d8 thunder damage.
10 The spell is cast normally and the caster gains 10 temporary hit points.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Paizo Just Announced Pathfinder 2nd Edition

I can't say I'm shocked. I'm sure they tested some major ideas with Starfinder, and here it is, Pathfinder 2E is a thing.

I was never a big Pathfinder 1E fan, because I wasn't a big DnD 3.X fan. I preferred the OSR to DnD 3 or 4 and then 5E was pretty much what I would have designed in an edition.

From the announcement, it seems to take quite a bit from DnD 5E, not that that is a bad thing.

3 Modes of Play.


Proficiency Bonus.

No mention of Bounded Accuracy.

I dug the idea of using different Skills for initiative, if nothing I else I might swipe it.

I do hope Monster Design is truly easier, because designing monsters in Pathfinder, was in my opinion, a mess.

The 3 action thing is interesting, I wonder if it will replace iterative attacks for Fighters and such?

My concern is that Pathfinder, like the foundation it was built upon will continue with multiple, fiddly modifiers. I've gotten pretty spoiled by Advantage/Disadvantage. And while I've looked through Starfinder, it didn't move that far from it's inspiration, in my opinion. And I can tell you at the store, it sold great right after Gen Con, but the second print run has not done anything since coming in. But that is just my two stores.

And then there is the Third Party Support, will this be a boon or a bane?

I worry that by moving away from their stated mission of bringing DnD 3.X back to the audience felt jilted by 4E that they are going to lose more players than transfer over or give it a try. DnD 5E is a juggernaut and this could be a bad move.

I also wonder if the Powers That Be at Paizo would look at converting an older Adventure Path to 5E and testing the waters?

I will download the playtest and probably give it a spin and I'll certainly stay informed. I'm not saying Pathfinder 2E couldn't beat out DnD 5E for me, but it's got a long mountain to climb.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

My Dad

It's been a long and busy few weeks.

On February 10, I moved my Mom and Dad into our house so Dad could enter Home Hospice.

On February 19th, at approximately 7pm, my Dad passed away.

I will cherish those nine days. He had told my Mom, two nights before he passed that he was ready to die. The pain was just too great.

I'm extremely blessed that I got 45 years with both of my parents and can't imagine how much harder this would have been if I were younger.

My Dad's name was Gary.  When I was younger, I would have told you we had nothing in common because I was blind to so many of the traits he gave me and the foundation he toiled to lay for me.

Now, I know that I get my love of history, politics, and cinema from him. And he loved cowboys as much I love DnD. 

More importantly, whatever success I have as a man, a husband, and as a father, I owe to the example he set in the 47 years he was married to my Mom.

I know things have been slow on here and I don't know exactly what my output will be, but Cross Planes won't end. Right now, there are still things to work out for my Mom and things for me to work through.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Counter Culture: Welcome to D&D

Something really cool happened this week at my store. Everyday, I had at least one person come in and tell me they were new to DnD and needed dice, books, miniatures, etc.

They would tell me how they had just played or were about to play in their first game and they were super excited.

I really can't contain my own excitement by this trend. And it's not merely because they are spending money with me, it's great to hear their excitement and to see their interest in my favorite hobby.

I don't know if anyone from Wizards of the Coast will read this, but good job, guys. You are getting it really right this time.

And I thank you as a gamer and a merchant.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

D&D 5th Edition: Aarakocra Windstalker

I've been taking a break from running our Thursday game, but our excellent DM couldn't make it. I didn't want to continue our Oakhurst game without him, so I ran the PCs from his game through a small adventure. The group came upon aarakocra and gargoyles battling and wrongly assumed the gargoyles were the bad guys. They eventually benefited from the kindness of a gargoyle, but fell to an aarkocra ambush.

The region around Stormhaven has become embroiled in open hostilities between Bluefeather's aarakocra tribe who worship Wendigo and Granite's gargoyle clan who worship Asintmah. They battle over the elemental node known as Cloudwrought, a powerful refuge of elemental power formed out of petrified lightning. Granite's clan currently holds Cloudwrought and seeks to keep it from Bluefeather's tribe. Wendigo, in the guise of the Windwalker, has promised the aaracokra chieftain the power to slaughter the gargoyles in his domain once Cloudwrought is secured. Granite, warned by the earth goddess, Asintmah, seeks to keep the node from falling into the hands of such a chaotic and destructive being.

The fate of Stormhaven, and all those traveling the trade routes to it, could be decided by war being waged by these winged rivals.

Aarakocra Windstalker
Medium humanoid, chaotic evil

Armor Class 13 
Hit Points 18 (4d8) 
Speed 20 ft.; fly 50 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
12 (+1)        16 (+3)        11 (+0)        10 (+0)      14 (+2)      10 (+0)

Skills Perception +6
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages Aarakocra, Auran
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Dive Attack. If the aarakocra is flying and dives at least 30 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a melee weapon attack, the attack deals an extra 4 (1d8) damage to the target.


Talon. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. 
Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) poison damage.

Boomerang. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 30/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

GameStorming: Xavier's Academy for the Talented

I'm playing a DnD 5E Mystic in a game and I'm enjoying it (though I think it might gain access to too many abilities at a lower level than your average class).

In many ways, I see a light super powers system within it, which got me to thinking about a DnD game where each character had at least 1 level in Mystic or Sorcerer. Obviously it's inspired heavily by the X-Men. 

Maybe the Brotherhood could be a band of Wizards?

The Hellfire Club could be Warlocks and Paladins. 

The Sentinel Program could be funded by the local Empire, maybe they are giants or titanic warforged?

I can see replacing the Shi'ar with Eladrin or Shadar-Kai.

Keep Cytorak and let him empower a dwarven Juggernaut.

Maybe I need to steel a Dungeon idea from Arcade?

I can even see taking ideas for races from the X-Men. Eladrin could look like Nightcrawler. Winged Elves like Angel.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Counter Culture: A Trend That Brings a Smile to My Face

I've been working at Comic Book World, Inc. since 1999. I've lived through the launches of DnD 3, 4, and 5. I've seen quite a few trends.

From my perspective, we are the point in DnD 5E's life cycle that we typically would have seen DnD 3.5 or DnD Essentials (4.5). But we haven't, we instead got the excellent Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

I'm so glad that Wizard of the Coast's marketing and release schedule, the excellent work they did in designing 5E, and the rise of Critical Role and all the other streamers and podcasters playing DnD, continue bringing people into the hobby and I don't have to bog them down with why 5.5 Edition is BETTER than 5th Edition. Casual players don't care, it confuses new players, and it makes it harder for families to play.

And that is the trend I'm enjoying. Getting to see Mom's and Dad's (or even both) bring their kids in and they all start playing DnD together. Sure, some of them move on to other games, but most are not gamers, they simply play DnD.

They come in two to three times a month to buy dice or spell cards or miniatures and it makes me happy because I realize that they are spending time together, time most likely away from a screen, and sharing adventures and quality time. They are reading and doing math and using their imagination. With their family.

Isn't that awesome?

And understand, I'm just as happy if they are playing board games or Magic: the Gathering or even reading comics. But DnD is so unique in how you have to interact. It's very...intellectual...I love my parents, but I can't imagine (sadly) playing DnD with them. It requires, in my opinion, a level of communication that I simply don't have with my parents. And that's as much on me as it is them.

I hope 5th Edition goes on another 10 years and I hope I keep seeing all of it's fans, especially the families playing it continue to grow and go on adventures together.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: Bruders

Art by Damon Hellandbrand

The strange entity know as Bruders came to the attention of the Keepers of the Cerulean Sign several years ago. Apparently it had cultivated several cults to serve it and spread it's alien corruption. Keepers were forced to put sword and flame to each of the villages that were exposed to it as it's taint was too thorough.

Large aberration, chaotic evil

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 97 (13d10 + 26) 
Speed 50 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
16 (+3)        13 (+1)        15 (+2)        13 (+1)      14 (+2)      13 (+1)

Skills Deception +4, Intimidation +4, Persuasion +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Common, Telepathy
Challenge 8 (3900 XP)

Lore of Madness. The Bruders constantly spout blasphemous and foul pronouncements that wreck the minds on any nearby creatures. Any creature that starts it's turn within 30 feet and can hear the Bruders' blasphemies has disadvantage on ability checks and their speed halved until the beginning of its next turn.


Multiattack. The Bruders makes four attacks.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. 
Hit: 8 (1d10 + 3) slashing damage.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Shadow of the Demon Lord: Gryckle

The cult of Baphomet has become plagued Ironstar and it's denizens for the last decade. A gryckle is a cultist who has willing engaged in sexual intercourse with Baphomet itself. The willing victim hen enters into special coccoon created by other cultists out of their own hair, excrements, menstrual blood, teeth, snot, and nails for nine weeks until they are reborn as hunter killers devoted totally to their demonic master.

Art by rhyshaug

Size 1 frightening monster
Perception 10 (+0); darksight
Defense 13; Health 30
Strength 12 (+2)   Agility 13 (+3)   Intellect 7 (-3)   Will 10 (+0)
Speed 12; climber
Immune gaining insanity; fatigued

Bite (melee) +3 with 1 boon (2d6 plus Tackle on attack roll 
Tackle The target is immoblilzed.

Skitter The gryckle moves up to it's full speed..

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Genesys: Natalie Elias

I'd be resisting Fantasy Flight Games' Genesys system because it used "weird dice". I'm not opposed to new tech in RP...