Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Gloamingwald

The Gloamingwald is several hundred acres of ancient elms, pine, oak, and beech. The trees are so close and the canopy so thick that the forest itself appears gloomy and ominous. Recently, the Merchant Road was extended past the Gloamingwald's western edge, heading south toward Ironstar, Huron, and the Borderlands.

Rumors abound about an order of druids that the locals call the Gray Owls. The Owls protect certain sacred areas within the Gloamingwald and have been linked to several disappearances over the years.

The Merchant Road's expansion has allowed several groups of bandits to use the forest as their headquarters causing Ironstar, the village closest to the Gloamingwald on it's southern border has been seeking help in defending the Road from Huron to the south and Jarlsburg to the north.

Evana Thunderstone has become the most notorious bandit leader of late with those who have survived her cadre's attacks speaking of her knowledge of sorcery and ability of her and her comrades to disappear at will.

Eustace Pauley, a retired Warden of Huron, has unofficially become the commander of the local efforts to make the Road safe. It's his contacts that have allowed negotiations with the southern city to get a few experienced Wardens and some much needed equipment.

About two miles before Ironstar is Buford's Brige which crosses the Poke River. For several generations the legend of Shipman's ghost has been told by locals in the Jackdaw Public House within the village. Locals claim that Isaak Shipman's wife and her lover lured the cobbler there one night and murdered him. They claim that he lurks upon the bridge luring unsuspecting travelers to their doom.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hackable: New Skill System for the Palladium Megaverse

Not long after starting to play Battletech and Champions 4E, my first miniature rules and RPG, I stumbled across one of Palladium's Magic of Palladium Books and it immediately hooked me. Soon after that, I bought Heroes Unlimited and realized, like so many others, that the system was a mess. 

As a novice gamer, especially after Champions' implicit rule for everything and how to build it, I was lost. Perhaps, if I'd had more exposure to games that empowered the GM I'd have realized that the gaps that were in place were there to be filled by your decisions.

While the system still bothers me, Palladium's Megaverse still fires my imagination. From my point of view, the designer feels the system is balanced through the skill system. A dragon, a thief, and mecha pilot all have very similar chances to succeed on what they are best at.

To that end, I've worked up an idea to adjust the skill system:
Instead of each Skill having a flat percentage chance and rate of improvement, the GM sets the percentage chance for the task at hand. Essentially, it's similar to D20 games, but instead of setting a DC of 15, you decide that there is a base 30% of success.

On the player side, you only look at the Skill bonuses at character creation and that bonus is added to the percentage chance to succeed. So if I had a bonus of 10% because of my OCC/RCC in a Skill and I had a 30% chance of success set by the GM, my total chance would be 40% or less.

As your character improves, starting at 2nd level you get an additional 5% at each even level in Primary Skills. Additionally, starting at 3rd level you get an additional 5% at each odd level in Secondary and all other Skills.

That's it.

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.

Thundarr the Movie

As a life-long comics fan and a retailer with a quarter century of experience, I was today years old when I discovered that Buzz Dixon and ...